A Friend Comes to Visit

Last night was a difficult one with Robert. It all started after a nice dinner of chicken satay and rice; Robert had terrible cramps and gas and I had to spend the night with him in the lounge, semi-dozing on the sofa while trying to keep him warm. Later Ron would tell me that the meal contained some shredded cabbage in addition to the spinach, which I did not notice at the time. Up until now I haven’t been extremely serious about cutting out the foods that cause gas. I always thought that if they did not affect me then they could not affect Robert, but yesterday was a wake up call. My indiscriminate eating habits have to be altered immediately.I woke up at 10:00, as my phone vibrated with an incoming SMS from my friend Britt, who said that she will be coming to see Robert this morning. Britt and I go back a long way, to the times when I used to work as a travel consultant in Johannesburg and she worked for the same company here in Cape Town. We shared a few trials and tribulations with our very difficult German tourists, and although we haven’t kept in touch all the time we always kept phone numbers, and knew about major events in each others lives. I was so lucky that we ended up living across the street from her house here in Cape Town, because she was instrumental in guiding me to a good doctor and hospital. She recommended necessary baby items to buy, and where to buy them; She even provided hand me downs: Clothes, a baby bath, magazines and books. I think of her as a sort of god mother to little Robert.

Today Britt brought Robert some nice sailor outfits, I think they will look great on him in the summer. She did not forget mom and dad either, and brought us a large ready-to-eat chicken pie. I quite enjoyed her visit, she is always full of positive and upbeat advice.

When Ron came back from gym he was very hungry, and the chicken pie was exactly what he needed, so we shared it for lunch. Ron has been taking strain with me whenever baby has a rough night. The lack of sleep affects him even worse because he drives his body extremely hard while working and exercising. Yesterday he was totally exhausted after his workout, so he had to take it slow at gym today, and tried to rest after lunch. In the meantime I went out quickly to the shops, and stopped at the post office to collect a parcel addressed to Robert.

The night passed peacefully without crying fits, but I had to get up three times to feed during the night. It was difficult, because each time I was pulled up from the deepest sleep.

Robert the Fire-Hose Tips the Scales

Today was a very important day for me and Robert, because the outcome of our visit at the Well Baby Clinic determines the future of our breastfeeding relationship. I was positive that Robert has gained some weight; his face looks more rounded and when I lift him to my shoulder I can definitely feel that I am hefting a healthy baby, not a little kitten. Still, there is only one way to find out for sure.

Ron left us at the clinic and went to do some shopping while we waited our turn. Twenty minutes later I took off Robert’s outer clothes and nappy, then carried him to the scale. The moment he was up there he peed all over the scales and the examination table, I was trying hard to catch most of the stream in a towel so I did not look at the reading. I only heard Sister B. saying: “look at that weight!” then I did a double take and saw the number, it was 3.8 kg !
“Did you feed him mealiepap?”she asked jokingly (this is the Afrikaans name for corn porridge).
This took my mind off the embarrassment for a minute, my baby and I have succeeded ! In the past week he gained 400g – I do not know how this was possible. Sister B addressed Robert as Robert the fire-hose, and told him that he was ‘sorted’. When Ron came to get us I gave him the good news, and I must say that he was really proud of us. Best thing is that weekly assessments are no longer necessary, and we only need to come back in two weeks time to chart Robert’s weight and height.

Expanding the Boundaries

Yesterday Robert turned three weeks. The focus of the past week has been his feeding schedule, and from my meticulous tracking of his feeds, I can now say that he gets between six and seven feedings a day. This means that on average he feeds every four hours, and naps for about three hours between feedings. Over the weekend my mom got her first look at baby over Skype, I was breastfeeding him at the time, and she commented how calm and quiet he was. I was lucky she said. On my worries about breastfeeding she said that my sister had to put both her boys on the bottle because her milk was not rich enough. I did not want to think about this option.

Today was the first hot day we had this spring, with the mercury climbing to 27 degrees. Ron and I decided that it was a perfect opportunity to ‘go see something different’ and ‘expand our horizon’ as he put it. We took a long time to decide which beach to go to; Ron does not like Camps Bay beach because he thinks it is too busy and open, and I did not think going to Clifton Beach Four was such a good idea with the baby carrier. In the end we went to Camps Bay and walked for some time past the busy restaurant strip. Even on this Tuesday afternoon, the beach front was busy, and it seemed that everyone was out to soak up the sun.
For us even going on a little trip like this involved a lot of planning. We had to take the car seat, the baby carrier – which we remembered at the last minute, and the nappy bag of course in case of an accident. When we finished our walk, we could not sit on the sand or put our feet in the water as we used to do. We just sat on the edge of the sandy beach, on a bench, watching families with older toddlers making the most of the sunny day on the beach. It will be a while before we could do the same with Robert.
On our way back home Robert started crying. I was sitting in the front seat for the first time, so I could not tell what was wrong with him. We tried to ignore our instinctive impulse to stop; Ron turned the radio on and baby’s cries were drowned by the music. Shortly before we arrived he stopped crying and went back to sleep, but by then it was time to wake him up again to take him out of the car.

A Whale of a Time

On our walk today on the promenade we enjoyed watching some black whales frolicking along the coast. Their arrival at the Cape coast usually heralds the beginning of warm spring. This year though, the season has been very fickle, with the sunny spells still infrequent. Today was one of those rare sunny mornings. Robert was in the carrier protected from the cool air and the sun; he was asleep as usual. In an attempt to prevent him from sinking too low into the pouch we sat him on top of a folded towel to prop him up. This sat him up more, and he was leaning against the side of the carrier with nose and mouth well exposed to the air. It also helped us walk for a longer time without worry.

Robert had a long sleep after his one o’clock feeding, and during this time I received a call from a member of my work’s management team. She said she had a present for Robert from everyone at the office, which she will drop off. I also spoke to my parents on Skype and gave them some details and updates on the delivery and Robert’s progress.

Robert was still in his best angelic position -asleep- when my work colleague arrived with a bag full of presents and card of good wishes from everyone at my office. The bag contained half a dozen outfits for Robert, mostly suited for spring and summer weather. The theme of the clothes is little red and green monsters, with the caption : “I’m a little monster” printed on them. As I watched over my little one asleep there in the crib, he looked very little like a little monster, and more like a sleeping kitten. My colleague thought he was very cute, although she said that waking up twice in the middle of the night was too much. Young as she is -early twenties- she must think that having a baby is rather uncool.She will come around, eventually. I never was a maternal type myself, but now that I have little Robert, I think that no woman should voluntarily miss out on the experience of motherhood.

Back at Birth Weight

I slept until nine this morning, after a rough night with Robert. This meant that I had to start feeding immediately then rush him into the bath, because we had to take him for his second assessment at the Well Baby Clinic.

All this rushing did not help much because we had a long queue in front of us at the clinic. There were many babies and kids of different ages, most were really large and chubby. Robert looked so tiny in comparison. The nurse’s room was crowded and noisy, and I got nervous of the long wait. That is why I immediately started getting Robert ready for weighing and measuring, while sister B was still busy with the patient ahead of us in the queue, and I made the mistake of prematurely taking off his nappy. This, inevitably, resulted in an accident, for which I was ill prepared. My nappy bag contained a spare nappy and an undershirt, but not a complete change of clothing. Fortunately his outer clothes were only a little bit wet.

Sister B did her quick check-up. She said that the navel was healing fine, and pronounced the acne on baby’s face as normal. She also gave me some advice on dealing with gas, and recommended colic drops. Robert’s weight gain was still on the slow side for the second week running; 160g this past week, which means that as of today he has only regained his birth weight. The nurse advised me to make sure that he was getting enough in every feeding, by draining one breast, then switching to the second near the end of the feed, so that baby gets both breasts in every feeding.

It was good to know that baby was okay. Even the discharge from his eye, which is a result of a blocked tear duct has cleared up by itself. His weight gain was within the lower range of what is considered normal, but I was still worried about the quality of my milk and my ability to continue breastfeeding. Ron jokingly suggested that we might need to put Robert on the bottle, but I did not find it funny. From today I started tracking baby’s daily feeds to make sure he gets enough feeding sessions. Tonight we woke up twice for feeding; it was very cold, and the south easter was howling.

Robert the South African

At two weeks we are starting to have some good times with Robert. We had breakfast before he woke up, and after he fed we took him shopping in the baby carrier. He was asleep the whole time.
Ron went to gym while I had a quiet time doing more paperwork, and catching up on blog and email. Robert’s birth certificate arrived in the mail today; it is the standard (free) birth certificate, which does not contain much information. It only shows ID number, date of birth and name(s). The full birth certificate which contains the names of the parents takes longer to issue – about six weeks we were told- and this is the one that Robert needs in order to register as a Canadian citizen at the embassy.

We had a special dinner tonight of the lamb chops we bought at the store today, and jasmine rice. The routine of feeding every three hours or so was maintained at night. I normally change baby’s diaper at every night feeding to avoid accidents; this is absolutely non-negotiable in this cold weather. On two occasions I forgot these nightly changes, and both times Robert got himself soaking wet afterwards. While changing his diaper early this morning I noticed that his cord stump has fallen off.

Our First Walk as a Family

Yesterday night was exhausting, and today was dedicated to catching catnaps whenever baby rested.

In the morning we dunked Robert in the bath as it was a warm day, later we went to soak up a little bit of sunshine walking on the promenade. I still need to get used to the carrier, and both Ron and I are a little paranoid about baby smothering himself in my shirt. The moment he is put in the carrier and I start walking, he goes to sleep face down, with his nose and mouth out of sight. It is impossible to tell whether he is breathing or not, and therefore we made frequent stops to adjust his position. It is a wonder that he kept on sleeping through that.

Fortunately, tonight was much better than last night. We had a vegetarian dinner, and managed to get some good sleep.

Rough Times Thrown Into the Mix

After a couple of peaceful days with Robert, today turned out to be a mixed bag of some good time, and a lot of rough times.
First bad thing I noted was that his left eye had worsened. I had to clean it with salt water at every nappy change, but the lids were still glued shut with sticky yellow discharge.

The only good time of the day was taking Robert out in the baby carrier for the first time. We decided to take the chance and inaugurate it, because the weather wasn’t too cold, and the sun was peeking through the clouds. As it was our first trial run with the carrier (or pouch) we took a short circular route around our block, but we still had to stop every few minutes to check on baby’s position, and whether he was okay and still breathing. I don’t think either of us got much out of the walk. Robert, for his part was fast asleep, and was not bothered by our frequent poking and pushing.

By evening the day took a definite turn for the worse. Robert started fussing, and when he finally went to sleep it did not look like it would last very long. I had to eat my dinner in a hurry, to avoid a very likely interruption. My discomfort at gulping such a good meal (oriental chicken with jasmine rice) was compounded by Ron’s talk about loosing my pregnancy weight. The crowning of my day though came when Robert started crying before I even managed to take my empty dish back to the kitchen. This signaled the beginning of a long night shift. Robert had awful cramps and gas, and I spent a miserable night trying to comfort him. I ended up sleeping on the sofa next to him, trying to stay warm under a thin blanket. Of course I did not get much sleep, I only nodded off a few times. Robert and I finally got to bed at 04:00 in the morning.

First Weight Assessment

Today we wanted to take Robert for his first weight assessment at the Well Baby Clinic. Sister B is available for walk-in consultations on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, whereas on Tuesdays and Thursdays she is only there by appointment.

Robert woke up this morning with a wet nappy which completely soaked his clothes, so we used the opportunity to give him a bath. This time everyone –including Robert- had better control over the situation. Ron had the idea of using a wet flannel to cover baby in the bath, and that helped keep him warm in our chilly bathroom. Robert did not complain about bathing at all after that.

When Robert had his feeding we headed straight to the clinic. This was our first ride in the car with him since coming back from hospital, and Ron had to revisit his strategy for buckling and unbuckling the car-seat. He got the procedure figured out after a couple of practice runs, and I do not think he will have to wrestle with an anaconda seatbelt again. Unlike our trip from the hospital last week, it was overcast and rainy today, but I still took the backseat next to Robert. I needn’t have worried because he slept as soon as the car started moving, and was still asleep when we carried him in his chair into the clinic.

It was amazing to see all the little babies with their moms and dads. Our little one was by far the youngest and the most fragile-looking. The five and six-week olds looked huge in comparison.

He weighed in at 3.24 kg, which is still less than his birth weight. According to the nurse his weight gain of 140 grams is on the slow side since breastfed babies are expected to gain between 150 to 250 grams per week. I explained to her the mishap I had with feeding earlier, and she said that this could have affected his weight. I showed her his left eye where the yellowish discharge was getting worse. His eyelids were glued shut because of it. She advised regular washing with sterile cotton dipped in salt water. She also recommended some ointment for sore breasts, which I planned to get then forgot with the confusion that accompanied our departure from the clinic.
Ron and I did not have the moves quite right; I got on his nerves with my usual slow and deliberate dressing and undressing of baby, which in turn made me fumble even more. I don’t think anyone else noticed, and if they did they would have just put it down to the obvious lack in experience. Sister B. advised that we should come in next week for another weight assessment to check again on Robert’s progress.

Robert’s little outing did not alter his good mood, and he kept on his feeding and napping schedule, which gave me another chance to go for a walk on the promenade on this cloudy afternoon. He was also sleeping in time for supper, so Ron and I could enjoy our nice steaks and then tea and cake. We are so lucky to have such a good baby.

More Presents for Robert

After a small respite of warm weather on Sunday, the weather man predicts another cold front on the way. The forecast until Saturday is bad, and there is still no spring in sight.I got an SMS from my friend Jackie around noon today. Robert was asleep at the time, so it was one of these rare occasions when I could come near my phone. Ron was at the gym, and I was catching up on my emails and blog. Jackie wanted to know whether she can come for a quick visit and I told her that this was a good time. We had a good chat over tea; I showed her the pictures of Robert from the hospital, and she told me about her new job which she was due to start on the 17th of this month. It was a good opportunity to catch up on news and gossip, as we haven’t engaged in our girls-only chats for a long time. Jackie also brought Robert some presents from her mother, nice rompers for summer, and his first noisy truck, which I suspect will become an annoying background noise sometime in the future.

One of my milestones for today was going to the Supermarket for the first time since I had Robert. Armed with my cell phone, I left the apartment during his nap, and went straight to the shop, zipping quickly through the aisles, to return exactly half an hour later. In addition to the regular staple foods, I managed to buy steaks for dinner and some sweets- a couple of chocolate coated oatmeal bars, and a small carrot cake.

Back at home I had a shower and removed the plaster tape around my incision. The incision was healing nicely on the outside edges, and the skin has knitted together well. However, the middle had shallow flaps, little open flaps in between the stitches. I was not impressed, because it seemed that I will be left with a tiny ridge of skin around the area. Ron commented that Dr. P. will definitely not qualify as a plastic surgeon. My belly was shrinking slowly but I still had to get used to its new shape; now I had an additional fold of fat right above the incision, as if the skin was stretched over a garden hose I wore around my hips. It is a small price though to pay for my little bundle of joy.

Robert was easy to work around today because he settled into a regular schedule of three-hour naps in between feedings of one hour each. He is slowly turning into a greedy feeder, and I am still dealing with the consequences of his hearty appetite on my sore breasts. However, it is a relief that he is over his hunger cry fits. He also went to bed promptly at dinner time, giving us the chance to have a peaceful dinner and enjoy tea afterward with carrot cake.