So we had a beautiful new little baby who we loved with everything in us. He brought us so much joy (and still does obviously). He had completed me and our family. Just when you thought you could not possibly love someone so much, the next day you do and it overwhelms you completely.
All this being said, nothing can quite prepare you for the first 3 months with a newborn. The first two weeks seem so easy and just when you think things are going to be like that forever, everything changes. I don’t like focusing on the negative, but I am sharing my very real experiences that may help someone else out there.
Challenge #1: Colic
Everyone has heard of the word ‘Colic’ but we don’t understand what it is exactly. I started questioning it when none of the colic remedies worked properly. How can all colic babies get cramps the same time everyday that all of a sudden go away at the 3 month mark? That just seems stupid. So I read the Baby Sense book and so glad I did. It started making more sense that Quinn was getting sensory overload in the evenings after a day of all sorts of stimulants: light, sound, smells, sensations, activity…basically the big bad world out there. If you think about it, a baby is in a dark, warm, comfortable, safe place for 9 months. Then all of a sudden they are born into a world of noise, colours, smells and things they have never experienced before. They now have to learn to drink from a breast or a bottle, have nappies and clothes put on them and have people staring at them, poking them and pulling all sorts of weird faces. And what is with this bathing thing? New born babies cannot cope with much stimulation in the first 3 months. They are still adapting to this new place. Once they have been overstimulated, the smallest thing can set them off. A smell, sound or scratchy label could send them into the depths of newborn hell where they scream so much that you as a parent have no idea what you have done!
Now the Baby Sense book was all good and well in theory, but in practise it didn’t prove to be as simple as it seemed. The book speaks about looking for the signs that your baby is starting to get to the stage of sensory overload. Quinn never gave signs at ALL. He would go from calm alert to overtired at the flick of a switch.
People will always say “this too shall pass” but at the very moment where your newborn is screaming so much that he stops breathing for awhile, it feels like it is going to go on forever. You feel like you have NO idea what the hell you are doing! Nothing anyone says to you can make it better. Anyway, at 2.5 months it did pass and it felt like we had a new lease on life! IT DOES PASS!
Challenge #2: Engorgement
Now, breastfeeding seems simple but just as you think you have it waxed, things change. Whilst breastfeeding I discovered that I have about 7 or 8 milk ducts in the one breast and only 3 in the other. So feeding times on each side were not straight forward for me. Because more would come out of the one side, that side would always produce more milk. When Quinn was about 3 weeks old, it started getting more and more painful as I fed him on the right-hand side. I tried pushing through it in the hopes that it would just go away but it didn’t. I tried nipple shields that worked for awhile but were not always effective. One night, in the middle of the night, I was feeding and the pain was so bad I wanted to scream. It felt as if someone was sticking pins into my nipple. It was then that I decided I would just express off that side until I could make a plan to see someone about the issue the next day. I called the clinic and they suggested that I see a physio who does ultrasound and infrared therapy. I did some research and found a lady in Rivonia and made an appointment. I went for three sessions and they eased the pain and healed my breast within a week. While it was healing, I would have to express before every feed and give Quinn a bottle of breast milk when was time to feed him on that side. I pushed through and everything sorted itself out again. I am very grateful it did not develop into Mastitis because that can be ugly.
(Luckily my mom was visiting from PE and I could leave Quinn with her while I popped out to the physio.)
Challenge #3: Acid Reflux
When Quinn was about a month old he started getting acid reflux. He would squirm and scream after a feed and you could smell the acid on his breath. Being a new mom I took him straight to the paed who prescribed Nexium ‘for babies’. When I got home I looked at the box and it did not say ‘for babies’ anywhere. I read the insert of the medication and it said that there was no evidence that it was safe for children under 1 year of age. I called the pharmacy and told them that they had made a mistake and given me Nexium for adults and not for babies. They told me that there was only one and it was the right one they had given me. Huh? I did a bit of reading up and found out that Nexium is prescribed to adults who have stomach ulcers. There was no way in hell I was giving this to my newborn!
I had been chatting to some new mommy friends on BBM for some support and one of them gave me the number of a midwife/lactation specialist who I called in the hope that she could help me with all my issues and let me know if I was failing completely as a mother. She came around and went through everything with me. She told me that I was doing everything right. Whew! She suggested that after a feed, I mix a little bit of rice cereal with breast milk and give that to Quinn so that there was something heavier to keep the acid down. It worked, but it was difficult to do this at every single feed, so the acid reflux was still happening now and then.
One day Quinn and I went to visit a friend of mine, Angela. She suggested that drink freeze-dried greens (like Barley Green) everyday to alkalise my system and in turn, it could help alkalise Quinn’s system. It made sense, so I went to the health shop and bought some Barley Green. Although it didn’t taste great, I drank it because of the benefits it has and so that I could help my child. Within 2 weeks, Quinn’s acid reflux was gone! As time passed I discovered another product that I have replaced the Barley Green with, it is called Green Power by The Real Thing. It just seemed to have a bigger variety of greens in it including Spirulina and Chlorophyll. It comes in tablet and powder form. I drink the powder so that the absorption is much better. Once Quinn was old enough, I started giving him the Green Power too. To this day he loves it and now he sometimes even takes a spoon and eats the powder just like that.
Angela also leant me a book Healthy Kids – The Natural Way by Mary-Anne Shearer. This is a book that everyone should read as it explains the importance of alkalising the system as well and food combining for better health. It also explains that for meat to digest properly, it needs to be chewed first. When weaning babies onto solids, they do not have teeth and therefore the first step of digestion can not take place and the meat is not digested properly by the body. What this means: it basically gives way to a lot of digestive and gut problems short term and long term. I then decided Quinn would not eat meat in his first year. This is also true for grains.
Challenge # 4: Candida
One night, when Quinn was almost 2 months old, Riaan and I were eating dinner. We had fish that night. As soon as I put the first mouthful in my mouth, it tasted funny to me. Riaan said his tasted fine. I carried on eating it and a few hours later I was violently ill. I could not stop vomiting and I had very bad diarrhoea. I decided to let everything get out of my system before attempting to go to the hospital. I had to feed Quinn while sitting on the toilet and then had to hand him over to Riaan because I had to vomit again (Glamorous hey?) I lay down on the bed and could not get up again. I was too weak. Riaan helped me up and the three of us went to the hospital. I was so dehydrated that my urine was brown. They pumped me full of fluids and vitamins and sent me home a few hours later. I had about 2 hours sleep that night and the next day was one of the most challenging days of my life. I was completely exhausted and weak and I was home alone with Quinn all day. I lay on the bed crying with him at one stage. (He had also had his injections the day before so he was not feeling great).
I had also been feeling increasingly tired over this time (before and after this happened). My stomach was so bloated and I was craving sugar and carbs. When I did eat something sweet or starchy, my stomach would growl and grumble. Quinn’s skin on his face had broken out in a whole lot of tiny little bumps. I was chatting to another new mommy friend who was also a Kinesiologist. She studied with Dr. Frans Kromhout so I made an appointment to go see her. I took Quinn with to see her and she tested and found that I had Candida. She cleared the underlying core issue, emotions and beliefs behind the Candida and gave me one of Frans’s homeopathic remedies to take. I was also advised to do the 4-week Candida Diet to get rid of these micro-organisms in my body, because they feed off certain foods. I had to cut out: sugar, yeast, gluten, cheese, processed meat and preservatives. I had to eat fruit in moderation. Easy…not really. Sugar is in almost everything you buy these days, as well as preservatives. You basically have to eat whole foods all the time. Riaan decided to do the diet with me. The first week was tough! By the second week we were feeling fantastic. So much energy! We learnt how to substitute properly and a whole new way of cooking and preparing food. Instead of focusing on what you can’t eat, we focused on what we could eat and there was plenty of it. By the end of the 4 weeks I had more energy than I have ever had in my entire life…and I am not exaggerating. (Plus I was still waking up twice a night for to feed Quinn) My stomach wasn’t bloated anymore. Quinn’s rash cleared up within the first few days of going on the diet. Riaan lost 12 kilograms in 4 weeks and carried on losing afterwards. We never wanted to go back to the way we had eaten in the past. To this day I do not eat preservatives. I eat sugar occasionally but I don’t crave it. I have also since cut out dairy completely and I don’t eat much meat anymore and feel so much better for it.
Challenge #5: Paediatrician and Jaundice
After Quinn was born, we decided to just use the paediatrician who had been there when he was born. He seemed nice enough and we were happy with him in the hospital. When I had taken Quinn for his first check-up, the paed told me that he looked a bit yellow. He was concerned that he could have had jaundice. I hadn’t been concerned because they seemed happy with him at the clinic. Now you can also get breast milk jaundice (which is completely harmless), but that day the paed put a fear into me as he explained all the things that could happen to your baby if he had jaundice. He sent Quinn for blood tests (which was heart-breaking). When he got the results back he told me that the bilirubin levels were elevated which could mean he had jaundice. He told me that he wanted me to stop breastfeeding for 3 days and then do the blood tests again. I was not happy with this arrangement as I did not want to put Quinn onto formula. But I listened to the doctor and got some formula. The first night after starting the formula, I could not sleep. I was so emotional because I was not able to provide my child with the most basic need. I needed to do that. It felt so wrong that I could not feed him the way I wanted to and needed to. I lay crying most of that night. I was completely stressed about it.
The next day I was chatting to another mommy friend (a much more experienced one) and she got me an appointment with her kids’ paediatrician. They did me a favour and squeezed us in. The new paed pulled the blood test results and told me that there are two types of Bilirubin: Conjulated and Unconjulated. She said that the unconjulated bilirubin is harmless and those were the levels that were slightly elevated in Quinn. The conjulated levels were fine and there was no risk at all of anything serious. She told me I could start breastfeeding Quinn immediately and she has no idea why the other paed had told me to stop. Basically he had not read the results properly in the first place. I started breastfeeding Quinn instantly and I felt whole again.
I also told the new paed about the Nexium that had been prescribed for Quinn’s acid reflux. She told me that she would not recommend I give it to him. She said that most babies have some form of reflux. Their bodies are adjusting to life and having to be fed. She does not prescribe medication for the sake of it and would rather use it as a last resort. I liked her!!!!
Challenge #6: Sleep training
It was nearing the time I had to go back to work. Quinn was nearly 3 months old and he was still waking up twice a night for feeds. I knew I had to get him to sleep through by the time I started work for my own sanity and everyone around me. I had been chatting to yet another mommy friend in Durban who gave me the details of a lady who has an online baby clinic. I went onto her website www.jennisays.comand bought the 3-month consultation and started implementing the feeding routine during the day. It took me 2 weeks to get myself to do the night time sleep training but I committed and followed through. Babies do not need night time feeds anymore from the age of 3 months old – provided they are getting enough during the day. It took 3 nights for him to drop the midnight feed and another 3 nights to drop the 3am feed. To this day, I am so glad I did this! Quinn has been sleeping through the night ever since. It is important for babies and children to have a good night’s uninterrupted sleep. They need it to function and develop properly, and us as parents also need a good night’s sleep.
Challenge #7: Teething
Quinn started screaming and chewing on everything at the age of 2 months. I am not going to go into depth with his teething process, all I can say is that at times you get desperate. I bought him an Amber Teething Necklace. Who knows if they work or not, but once you put it on, you are too scared to take it off in case things get worse! (He still wears it and it has become part of him). Quinn got all his teeth pretty fast but sometimes it was as if he was an entirely different child! Some days he would not let me put him down. It can affect them terribly. I tried one or two of the mainstream teething powders on the market but they didn’t do much. I then went to the Weleda Pharmacy and asked their advice, they gave me a tincture by Dr. Reckeweg. Success, it worked like a bomb! We are still waiting for the last few molars and I am still using this remedy. Needless to say, I can not wait until he has all his teeth!
Challenge #8: Separation Anxiety
This is a very real issue! In fact, it has flared up again since Quinn turned 2 last month. When Quinn was about a year old, he started waking up screaming at night and would not let me put him to bed. There were times where he was my appendage and would not let go of me. It was worse when he was teething. You can’t even go for a wee without your Cling On attached to you. It was exhausting at times and it can totally frazzle you out. This is just something you learn to work through and re-assuring your child that you love them and will always be there for them helps…even if it just helps mommy. I have found that doing Kinesiology on Quinn has helped for this.
Challenge #9: M.E. / Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
When Quinn was about 9 months old, we ran another Mind Power course at work. This consisted of 16-hour working days. That together with still breastfeeding full time (I expressed at work during the day) burnt me out completely. I went to see my Kinesiologist friend and she found that I had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or M.E. She cleared the underlying core issues, emotions and limiting beliefs and I got one of Dr. Kromhout’s herbal remedies. The M.E. had caused my milk supply to deplete. Quinn was getting frustrated because he couldn’t get enough milk from me. He bit me a few times and even drew blood. That was painful! At that stage I told him that if he bit me again, I would stop breastfeeding him. He never bit me again. I was seriously considering stopping breastfeeding at that stage because it became a struggle, but I just could not get myself to stop. I pushed through and eventually my milk supply increased again once the M.E. had subsided.
Challenge #10: Stopping Breast Feeding
Quinn would in no way on this earth let me feed him a bottle when I had milk in my boobs. In fact he would not let anyone give him a bottle if I was nearby, so it had to be all or nothing. I also did not ever want him to be on formula. I decided to stop breast-feeding when Quinn was 1 year old when he did not need breast milk or formula anymore. I thought it would be pretty easy. I decided to wait until after his first birthday. I told Quinn that I was stopping and I just stopped. I had to express a little bit just for relief but after 2 days my breasts were so hot and full they felt like they were going to explode. I was in agony and was considering taking the tablet to stop my milk supply but I really did not want to have to take chemicals. On the third day they were a hundred times better so there was no need for the tablet. After I stopped, I gave Quinn goats milk for his morning and evening bottle and now he drinks rooibos tea with goats milk. Apparently Goats milk is the closest thing to breast milk. Quinn is allergic to cow’s milk, which I am not at all upset about. I will speak about cow’s milk in another post at a later stage.
With all this being said, each and every challenge had it’s purpose and lessons. They made me stronger as a person. They made me grow as an individual and a mother. They put me in touch with all sorts of people who I could learn from. They helped me in my journey to finding exactly who it is that I want to be and they made me more resilient. They also brought me closer to my son and made me realise the important things in life. These are challenges Quinn and I faced and conquered together. The good times far outweigh the bad and it was all worth it. I would not change a thing!
To be continued…
To be continued…