I’m typing one-handed as my little girl feeds. She is already a people person, demanding human contact at all times. At. All. Times. (I’m also writing this days in advance as my new baby-imposed timeline means that things get done much, much more slowly. By the time you read this she will be four weeks old).
I’ve been up with her since 4am when she fed, and then she and I sporadically cat-napped until her next feed at 6.20, after which she slept on me on the couch so Daddy could have a quiet sleep after doing the first night shift. Since then, except for a short break to express, she has been in my arms (or on my boobs!) and it is now 11.20. But she has just dozed off and I know there will come a time when she would rather die than be civil to me, let alone cuddle me or find comfort in my presence, so I am soaking in her new baby smell and her nuzzling in to my neck while it is still so important in her world.
Little Bunny, at one month you have already changed so much from the squalling, red and squashy creature who we met for the first time. For the first two weeks you seemed still shell-shocked by the cold bright world, although you made clear your need to snuggle into our chests very quickly. In your first few days we were so proud of you when you easily drank EBM via syringe, cup and bottle – while I was truly surprised that I couldn’t feed you from the breast straight away, we were so relieved that you had no feeding issues of your own and we didn’t have to worry about your desire or ability to eat.
Since then you’ve also become a skilled and voracious breastfeeder. After some help from the hospital’s lactation consultants to teach me how to hold you to latch on you are now proficient and barely need my help at all. You love boobie and I don’t mind if you fall asleep feeding either (as long as you fall asleep!). You also happily devour two bottles of EBM a night, one that Daddy feeds you after I have gone to sleep, and another somewhere between 2 and 4am that he gives you while I express.
Which leads me to the next major topic consuming every new parent: sleep.
It’s too soon to expect you to have a routine of your own, and certainly too much to ask for you to follow one of our choosing, and I am happy to demand-feed you and let you decide when you need to sleep. But could you sleep when you are tired do you think? Like your mother you fight sleep even when exhausted, thinking that being bored and awake is still preferable to being out for the count. Once fast asleep you are – excuse the pun – a dream, oblivious to all around you, happy to re-settle yourself, and barely stirring when transferred from arms to pram to car seat. It’s the getting to sleep that’s difficult, as you resist being settled like you know what we’re trying to do, and then it’s another battle getting you into your bassinet in the day. You have a red alert radar that can tell when you’ve been put down and within five minutes you start to grizzle and then increase the vocal force of your displeasure. This makes it very hard to get things done and on bad days I am effectively pinned to the couch by your tiny sleeping body! Daddy and I have a shift each over night so we can at least get one solid block of sleep each, which is usually two hours or three if you’re really good. I get about five broken hours a night, something like 11-2, then 3-4, then dozing while you cluster feed every hour until 6.30. You also have a 2-3 hour sleep starting mid- to late-morning, and another in the afternoon, although you often stay awake for much more than the recommended 60-90 minutes and the other day managed a stupendous and frustrating six hours.
You are already a card and pull the most hysterical faces, especially when you’re milk drunk and half asleep. You often smile when dozing off, just a flicker of a twitch, but Daddy swears that this morning (Xmas Eve) you gave him a long and deliberate smile when he picked you up. He is obviously besotted. You have definitely become so much more aware and alert in the last two weeks, really looking at us and the things around you and making so many vocal noises that I am convinced that you take after me in the chatterbox stakes.
You have also been joined by new friends already; it appears that December is a popular month for being born. My oldest and bestest friend Keren has had Jack; Rachael has had Ella; and Carly has had Flynn, and we still await the arrival of Kelly’s little boy, Stacey’s bub and Sarah’s bump next year. You are lucky to grow up surrounded by such a large group of kids of a similar age.
We waited so long to meet you. Every day we learn more about you and we can’t wait to find out who you are.
Today (27 December): you are four weeks old exactly, 2 days off being a calendar month. Your birth certificate arrived in the post and we are going to take you on your first expedition to Doncaster. You had just two overnight feeds, one long nap and are feeding again as I type. You’ve had two nappy changes, gave me a long smile as you lay down on your feeding pillow, and I am slogging through your birth announcements and folding laundry when Daddy holds you.
At four weeks, Alice:
- Has put on heaps of weight and is visibly bigger than at birth.
- Has long feet!
- Is still in 0000 but said feet might not last much longer …
- Appears to have blue eyes.
- Has so much hair that everyone comments … and that Daddy likes to style.
- Still doesn’t look clearly like either of us, but we think has my mouth and chin, Auntie Hannie’s eyes, and Daddy’s forehead. Daddy is on the lookout for the Burrows Eyebrow.
- No longer screams at every nappy change.
- Quite likes bathtime with Daddy, except for being all naked and cold afterwards.
- Falls asleep easily in the pram on a walk and in her car seat.
- Sometimes likes her lambie rocker.
- Has a very strong neck despite not having been awake for tummy time.
- Really only cries and screams when hungry (or to be picked up from the hated bassinet). We’re learning not to secondguess this, even if she’s just eaten.
- Has Mummy’s gap between her big and second toes.
- Has very nice hands which come from neither of us.
- Loves to snuggle on chests and tummies.
- Is beginning to be called Al or Allie.
- Has been given her Tibetan name by her Pala and Amala, which is Dechen Dolma, Dechen (“Day-chen”) meaning Great Bliss and Dolma (“Der-ma”) being a name for the deity Tara.
After one month, Mummy and Daddy:
- Are smitten!
- Realise that they are totally incapable of any objectivity about their daughter who is patently the most beautiful, intelligent, adorable and talented child in the history of the world ever.
- Are operating quite well on limited sleep and are proud of their teamwork.
- Are very impressed with how the dogs and cats have adapted.
- Are getting used to lowered expectations about how much can get done in a day.
- Have conquered a number of poosplosions.
- Have incredible respect for single parents.
- Mummy loves her new earrings!