Our mate Si came round on Tuesday night for some food. Actually, he came round and made us food. This is one of the best presents people have given us since Aidan was born. The extra pair of hands made us so much more relaxed.
Si and I got home at the same time, Erin was putting Aidan down to sleep in the bedroom. The changing mat and bath was still on the kitchen table. 'I bet Jamie doesn't have this problem,' Si said with a smile. I bet Jamie's too busy saving Britain from a school dinner crisis to make food for his mates, should have been my reply.
Sadly, it wasn't.
Aidan's only - touch wood - time of the day, at the moment, when he has a hard time sleeping is between 7 - 10pm. We assumed we'd be in for broken conversations but were pleasantly surprised as he slept through Si's visit. Just as the night before, when he called on the phone, Si had a calming effect on Aidan - or more likely the parents.
We asked Si and Sar - who's still in Paris for a while - if they would be Aidan's godparents on New Year's Eve.
Is that a smile or wind?
I have to mention another Simon in this post too as his comment really helped with bath and changing time tonight. Erin and I top and tailed Aidan. Erin set up with the usual changing mat, clothes, wipes, cotton wool, water and towels. There was also an added extra. The electric blower worked a treat.
Erin sent me a text yesterday afternoon asking if I thought it would be a good idea to get Aidan sleeping on his own without any aid from cuddles, the bottle or his dummy from now on.
I agreed. The more I read about bad sleep associations, the less sleep I have at night worrying that we're doing it all wrong. He likes to lie on us to sleep and we like him lying on us while he sleeps. When we put him down in his moses basket he's usually asleep, and if he wakes, it takes a while to settle him down.
And this is apparently wrong. According to Gina Ford - who's guide books we're trying to follow - it's very wrong so we're stopping doing it.
But we're stopping it tonight - the night Erin's out with her friend. I said I'd give it a go as I can probably handle the crying better.
So tonight the plan is supposed to be:
6:00 - Bath him
6:15 - Feed in dark room
6:30 - Sleep or Cry Down until 7
7 - 10 - Sleep
It's supposed to take around 20 minutes for babies to Cry Down as long as they have been fed and clean. If he's crying we should only go to him every 10-20 minutes and when we do, just talk gently or hush him and only stay for 2 minutes max.
This is what happened.
5:40 - Mum leaves.
5:50 - I get everything ready for Aidan's bath so he doesn't cry too much.
5:52 - Bath Aidan.
5:54 - Get Aidan out of the bath. He's crying.
5:55 - Dry him. He screaming.
5:57 - He's all changed into his nightwear but the screeches haven't subsided.
6:05 - He's calmed down and playing on the couch while I read what Gina Ford's says about what to do to Cry Down a baby.
6:15 - Go to the bedroom to feed (Daddy's pretty pleased with himself, he's on schedule). Aidan has a big feed so I know he's all right for the Cry Down.
6:35 - Burp him, make sure he's got a clean nappy and put him down to sleep.
6:35 - No sooner as I leave the room, he starts to cry.
6:40 - He's been crying for what has felt like a year and the volume is now up to 11.
6:44 - Read in the book that Crying Down is the opposite or Crying Up (no kidding but what does that mean?) Crying Up is when babies wake and cry a little then rest, cry a bit more and rest less, then eventually cry all the time until they get attention. When Crying Down, in theory at least, they cry less and less and the time between cries becomes longer.
6:45 - A few silences appear. The rest times now get longer. Wow the book's right.
6:52 - One Squawky cry then silence. I've cracked it.
My baby is asleep and I am King of the Dads.
7:00 - What? Was that a cry?
7:01 - Yes. And again and again and again.
Crap, I'm the worst dad in the world.
7:02 -7:13 - The silences get longer. But cries are regular.
7:13 - Was going to go in to see him but he becomes silent for a long while.
7:14 - Stand outside the bedroom door to give moral support.
7:16 - Someone yells outside. Aidan yells back. And continues yelling a long time after they are gone.
7:20 - Go in to reassure him. Talk calmly, hush him and gently rub his stomach.
7:22 - Leave - Gina would be proud. He's quiet.
7:32 - The buzzer buzzes louder than ever before and a man wants me to change electricity companies. He goes away with a flee in his ear. I will never use that electricity company and I wait for the crying.
7:40 - Delayed reaction and Aidan cries again, loudly, as if he's in a panic.
7:41 - I go in. I check his nappy and unusually he becomes quiet. I leave him in silence which he remains for half an hour.
8:10 - A few squawks become big yells.
8:16 - Go and see him. He's the loudest he's been and only calms down momentarily.
8:23 - I'm on the internet to see if this is right as the book doesn't mention that it'll go on for so long. No answers. Only more questions.
8:23 - 9:07 - It's all a bit hazy with rests then cries. The phone goes at some stage. I answer in quick flash time, it's Si. Aidan's calm after I put the phone down.
9:07 - Erin comes home. She hears him cry and wants to go to him. I explain what I understand by Crying Down. She still wants to go to him. We discuss whether this is all right, if he's too tired, if he's hungry, and... Should. He. Be. Still. Crying?
9:17 - I go to him. He almost bites my finger off when I put it near his mouth.
9:20 - We feed him a little.
9:23 - We worry if we should have fed him.
At 10:00 we got him up for his late feed. We changed him, got him playing a little then fed him and put him down asleep by 10:30. He slept until 2:15, then fed, then slept until 6:45.
Not sure if we did right but he slept well during the rest of the night.
Tomorrow evening Erin is going for a much needed catch up with some friends from work. She's been holed up in our tiny flat for the last 5 weeks - feeding and sleeping - only being let out for afternoon walks. She really needs to get out and have conversations with people who she doesn't have to sing Kumbaya to to get them to sleep.
It wouldn't be an issue but we've hit a little problem. We're having trouble getting Aidan down for his 7pm - 10pm sleep. It started last week when we had a few friends over. We were strict with them and made sure Aidan wasn't passed around or 'over-stimulated' (as the experts would say) before he went to bed. But he didn't calm down nor sleep until they left. On Friday evening he woke up a few times. Last night was fine but tonight there's been no settling him and the schedule has gone out of the window.
We'll see how the rest of the night goes. That's not a worry. Erin and I will work it out together. Tomorrow night is a different story. I'll be me on my own. Wish me luck.
In January a lot of people waste their money with good intentions. They get sucked in to a deal which seals them in to a year contract at the Gym. They go for a week, even swear off the booze. They shirk temptation at first but as time goes by, more nights in or curries out become the norm. The membership card they carry, with a guilty heart, becomes the heaviest thing they associate with the gym all year.
Aidan has been smarter and installed his own baby version at home.
'Jay,' Erin said tentatively. 'Could you take him for a few minutes?'
'Of course I will,' I immediately and brightly replied.
It was 4am on Wednesday night and Aidan was having a tough time settling down after the middle of the night feed. I burped him, changed him and gave a bit more food while Erin was out of the room getting some more food ready for later.
When she came back he was on my chest. I was trying to be the essence of calm while he fidgeted, squawked and looked around with wide eyes. I breathed deep breaths, shushed and hushed, and lay as still as a I could. I patted his back then rubbed it and patted again soon after. He slowly looked sleepier and sleepier and sleepier. His eyes drifted. His body slumped. And his chest gently bounced up and down in a comforted manner telling me he was on his way.
Instead of putting him in his moses basket I lay him in between Erin and I. We watched him whirl his hands around then spread them out as wide as he could.
Erin and Aidan fell asleep.
But calming for one person was stressful for another. My mind was racing. I tried not to, but I awoke. Thoughts went from driftingly day dreaming to a full blown concentration on work, plans, schedules, problems, and solutions. Eventually the focus became, why can't I drift back to sleep?
At this stage you might be thinking that I'm a saint for giving my time in the middle of the night. Believe me, you wouldn't have thought that a few days a go. The reason Erin approached me tentatively is because last week, every night I was woken up, I was the proverbial bear with a pounding head who wanted to get right back to sleep so he didn't let out a mighty roar. But I stopped this with a paradigm shift. Instead of thinking I should be having a good night's sleep I changed it to if I have a good night's sleep that would be a bonus.
As you can see, Erin didn't fully believe my promise. I haven't let her down yet, though. One night down, too many to go.
It's was 20 weeks in the making and the Blog Premiere of Not Just A Walk In The Park is finally here.
Here's Erin walking through the last half of her pregnancy set to Bon Iver's Flume. If it looks effortless, she made it seem that way. She hardly complained at all during the 9 months - except when I wanted her to do retakes for this. I think biking an hour and a half every day up until she was 5 months gone probably helped.
Aidan hates being changed. Hates it. We don't know if it's the cold wipes, open air, or just that he likes to sit in what he's created, but he screams the place down when being changed. He'll scream when we lie him down, scream when we take his nappy off, and scream even more when we put clothes on him. Although, I would too if an incompetent dad constantly struggled to put a vest over my head.
There are two that stand out for me. Both are from the '80s. One is because of the song. And the other because it was infectiously quoted by football loving schoolboys across the country. During those days milk was delivered every day to our door in a bottle with either a silver, blue or red top. I even think there was gold top too.
Why am I boring you about this? To lightheartedly move on to the most heart-wrenching decision Erin and I have had to make in Aidan's short life. He's now going to be fed from the bottle. He's 1 month old today and hasn't taken to nursing so we're going with this.
We've always wanted the best for him. It's supposed to be mother's milk but we think by having food we can monitor, calm feeding sessions and less stressful parents, he'll be getting the best care his family can provide.
Aidan is now going to get his milk delivered when he wants it. It'll be in a sterilised bottle with a blue top on it. Let's hope he drinks it up and plays for someone better than Accrington Stanley - who are they?
Seth and Alissa have just left to go back home. We'll miss the stories of their day trips and the black and white slideshows they put on in the evening. Erin's loved travelling vicariously through them while she's been home. Seth said he had a great time just before he left. He added, with a smile, that he'd learned a lot more about breastfeeding than he thought he would from this trip.
When Grandma and Robyn were over they bathed Aidan before I got back from work one day. They said it had been pretty traumatic. I worried. What if he hated water? Didn't bath? Didn't learn to swim? Would he be the stinky kid at school? Or die in a freak fishing accident with his uncles Seth, Matt and Pat? Would they one day come home and say: 'It was no good he just couldn't swim away from that mean murderin' musky?'
After bath time this week, however, I'm more hopeful.
Look how relaxed he looks entering the water.
And how relaxed he is in it.
And so relaxed later.
Ok, so he doesn't look relaxed at all but after a while he got used to it. There weren't any tears and he even gently kicked his feet showing he might be a natural in the pool.
We went to register Aidan's name in Brixton earlier. Our appointment was the first of the day at 9am so we wanted to get out early, catch the number 2 bus, get a bit of cash out to pay for the certificates, and get home just in time to feed him again.
That didn't happen quite as planned.
Aidan had had quite a fractious night and his routine had been sent off kilter a little. Erin woke a little before 8. Me, a little after. We ran around preparing his food for breakfast, and the journey; got his nappy bag together, got his clothes on, got our clothes and set off a little later than scheduled.
As we got to the end of the road the number 2 passed us. Things weren't going our way and we walked to the next bus stop, argued a little and decided to catch the tube instead. Erin hates the Underground at the best of times, and during rush hour, feeling rubbish, and with a newborn who could potentially scream all the way there, it was far from the best of times. Without a peep from Aidan - as usual when in motion - we went down the escalator, on the train and back up to daylight. We even made up a few minutes.
Next, we had to get the cash. My card wouldn't work at the cashpoint (ATM). It said the bank wouldn't accept my request. Erin said if mine didn't work hers wouldn't either and the clock was ticking closer to 9. We tried hers and after a long while of nothing it decided to give us what we wanted. I grabbed the card, the cash and ran.
Brixton High Street is a surreal place with classical music blaring from the tube station, religious nuts telling us we're all going to hell without them, and nobody moving out of the way for prams. But after a mad dash we joined the back of the queue at Brixton Town Hall. We'd made it and the doors were just opening. They tell you to get there 15 minutes early and if we'd done that we would have been 15 minutes waiting outside. There were quite a few couples with newborns ahead of us but as the doors opened our name - Baby De Vos - was called. Perfect timing.
The next time he's called out he'll be Aidan John Waller. Hopefully the luck of the morning will rub off on him, not the incompetence.
It's been great having Erin's younger brother, Seth, and his wife, Alissa, over for the last week. It's a shame they're off to Norway soon. But Aidan doesn't have to worry too much they'll be back before they head off home to the States.
There was a rumour Aidan looked like Seth most, out of all of Erin's siblings. Seth investigates.
Alissa and Seth babysat for Aidan tonight so Erin and I could go out and eat. They surprised us by asking but we took them up on their offer straightaway. We only went to the pub down the road, and were only out for about an hour, talking mainly about Aidan. But it was great to be together.
Erin told me about her time with Louise today. She say it went all right but is not sure about whether everything will be sorted out with Aidan's feeding soon. Louise keeps saying Aidan's doing very well. But we do need to see a major change in the very near future to believe her. It was a conversation over Bangers and Mash and Steak and Ale Pie which had its ups and downs. A particular down was punctuated by Erin pointing out a Britney Spears song sparking a funny memory from last year. We needed the laugh to enjoy the rest of the time together.
When we were approaching home, Erin wondered out loud if everyone inside our place had coped with each other. She'd obviously worried about this during the meal. Of course they were all right. Aidan hadn't moved from where he was when I put him down after his 7 o clock feed. S & A had checked him a few times but there was no change.
Boys don't usually send cards for birthdays and events so we were very surprised when we got one from our friend JB. We were so surprised I thought I'd print it.
For your information John James is a friend of ours (You might know him as The Dirty John James), Martin O' Neil is a football manager and JB's hair is not receding.
Here it is...
Dear Aidan John,
Welcome to the world!
You don't know me yet but I have been a big influence in the lives of your parents for some time now. In fact I like to think that they see me as a mentor, sage or a visionary.
I wanted to be one of the first people to say hello and I thought I'd give you a few life lessons as you begin your journey as a Waller.
So here's my guide to life - the lessons which have got me where I am today - 28, thin, unfailingly attractive to women and with a full head of hair (anyone who tells you it's receding is a liar!!)
Lesson 1 - Never trust someone whose surname is also a first name - Ainsley Harriott, Clive Allen or John James. Lesson 2 - If you ignore a problem for long enough, it'll go away. Lesson 3 - Martin O' Neil is a lord among men. Lesson 4 - Shed Seven are a good band. Lesson 5 - If it aint broke try harder to break it. Lesson 6 - Don't believe anyone who tells you your hair is receding. Lesson 7 - Bad handwriting is a sign of intelligence. Lesson 8 - Never trust John James.
So there you have it. Take heed of those nuggets and you'll be fine...
Can't wait to meet you.
PS great middle name by the way.
We laughed. Hope you did too.
Oh, I forgot to explain Shed Seven, but they are a 90's indy band who are pretty bad.
I'm not used to being around newborns so everything I notice about Aidan amazes me. If you think oh, all baby's do that bare with my ignorance.
When he's going to cry he holds back a little, stretches out, and turns pink, red, then purple. Then he lets out a high pitch screech. It's actually very useful. We're forewarned with what's coming or shown that he is uncomfortable so we can either move him, gently rock him or if everything seems to be all right and unchangeable, panic.That started on his first day and we've got used to it now.
More recently it's been his yawns and sneezes. When he yawns, instead of gently lifting his lower jaw and lulling himself into a relaxing haze after a wide open bout of tiredness he'll close his mouth and cry a little. I always thought yawns were the most relaxing of reflexes but not for this lad.
And sneezes? Well, they just send him to sleep, or at least in to a more relaxed state than he was.
While he sleeps he lifts his arms as if he's conducting a big brass band or choir. Maybe the talent skipped a generation (my grandad was a bandmaster and dad has been know to lead choirs). If he can do it in his sleep as a baby, who knows what he'll accomplish?
I was going to stay away from belches and bowel movements but I can't resist writing about what happened last night. Just after a feeding and burping session he let rip down below. Then again. And again. And again until we counted 6 ripe ones. We told him he done well doing 6. But he keep stretching out 5 fingers looking like he was arguing with us. Every time we said 6 he'd show us 5. I guess he's either going to be argumentative or just bad at mathematics.
I know some people think I'm too open in some of my blog posts. If you're of this opinion then it's probably wise that you come back in a few days time when there'll be some fun photos posted about Uncle Seth and Aunt Alissa's visit to see Adain, London and Norway.
The rest of you carry on.
We went back to see Louise the Lactation Lady today for our 3rd session in three days. We saw progress in Aidan's finger feeding last night but as exhaustion is setting for Erin and I we decided, before we went in, if he had dropped weight from his Wednesday weigh-in we'd definitely settle for the bottle. We're not exactly sure how much of the food he takes in, he dribbles a lot and often spits up. I thought, and quietly hoped, he'd dropped weight so we could get on with a consistent feed.
He'd put on 80 grams. A good amount in three days. I looked at Erin and knew we were going for another push at this.
In the next few minutes a strategy was developed but it only led to crying and screaming from the little fella and desperation from me. Erin looked beaten too.
Louise was persistently taking Aidan on but I decided to confront her about the issue of 'breast being best' which we always hear. I said that we'd had enough of this, that I was really worried about the well being of both Erin and Aidan, and that surely formula would be all right? She was calm in her response and gave us her arguments. The ones below are the ones I heard:
Breast feeding provides nutrients and immunity which formula can't.
The government is investing millions in this message because those who breast feed are less of a drain to the resources of the NHS
It stimulates intelligence.
She spoke for around 5 minutes with a calm passion which showed she wasn't going to give up on us. But I had to have one more go. I started with the intelligence issue suggesting that if he took formula he might not be getting what mother's milk provides but he would still be getting the care and attention from us two, being constantly spoken to and read to and nurtured. I even mentioned that he'd been given a little show from his teddy bears in the morning before we left to see her.
To me the intelligence issue is a non starter and so are the government lines, so I ignored them. I told her what really concerns me is that when I go back to work Erin will be home alone dealing with a baby that potentially won't feed or cries when doing so. I don't want that to have a damaging impact on mother and baby's relationship, and mother's sanity.
Louise took a moment to think about this and then asked us to see what we thought about her plan to continue finger feeding over the weekend, use a few approach techniques and for Erin to go back and see her on Monday. She said that Aidan had made great progress, and if he hadn't, she would have given up there and then. She also said, as he's gained weight this week, we didn't have to wake him every three hours at night.
We were given added faith when Louise called at the end of her shift to ask Erin to bring a bottle teat with her to Monday's session. She said she'd been giving us extra thought and wants to try use the teat to trick him. (I suppose if we were in the US we would be paying a pretty penny for this type of service).
We're going to follow the plan. But I do feel that it's a shame we're having to focus on this. Aidan is currently opening up his big blue eyes more than ever, he's enjoying meeting his new teddy bears, a monkey and rubber ducks. And he gives us the largest belches I've ever heard. When we're not worried about him he does make us giggle.
We went back to see Louise today and I have to say, despite labour, it was the most harrowing thing I've witnessed (and at least with the labour I knew we were going to end up with something great).
I haven't seen the movie, but I imagine Aidan and Erin were manhandled in ways similar to moves in The Wrestler.
It was apparently all in Louise's plan but looked very painful at times. She kept telling us that it might not look like there had been any developments - it didn't - but that great steps had been taken today, Aidan wasn't screaming at every turn and he'd managed to swallow milk, twice. She even clapped at this stage.
As you'll see below we have another night of finger feeding.
The initial issues of why Aidan and Erin had to return to hospital after Aidan's 6th day on Earth haven't been fully resolved. Yesterday we went to a midwife to finally see if we could get him to breastfeed. She's a specialist and we've heard from other midwives that 'if Lousie can't get him to latch, no-one will'.
Well, when we saw her she did a few routine tests, had a look at him feeding and told us, 'yes, he's got used to the bottle.'
She then tried a few different ways of feeding, asked us what he was like when breastfeeding and when she learned that he would either instantly sleep or become agitated she said that was usual and he just wants the milk quicker than is currently possible. This is why he liked the bottle so much.
She said he needed to be Finger Feeding before he would get used to latching on. This gets him away from the synthetic rubber nipple of a bottle. We tried this in the hospital but were not supported enough to take it a step further - it's a slow process.
Last night and this morning have been tough. He's tried hard at taking the milk this way but it seems to take a lot more than usual to calm him down after his feed. He does get very good at the action of sucking this way as the milk is nearing the bottom of the bottle. Maybe it is working. Although, it does seem to be disrupting his sleep pattern. And ours.
We're back with Louise later today and tomorrow. We'll see how it goes.