The Super Whites The ordinary life of a Super Mum

The Super Whites
Stella is 6 weeks old
Stella Margaret White – 6 weeks old
Time seems to be slipping away from me and each day Stella ages and changes and grows. Her small froglike body is lengthening, her clenched hands now open up and grab onto hair and shirts and blankets. Her eyes appear too big for her small face, the eyelashes so like Amy’s when she was a baby, long, resting on her fat cheeks when she sleeps and I stand over her, watching her change before my very eyes.
She watches us now with measured expressions and the smiles are more frequent and spontaneous, although yet to be captured properly on camera. Sometimes when I am feeding her in the middle of the night she will slip off my breast and then open her milky mouth wide into a wise smile which pierces right to the core of me.

Our days and nights have slipped into a comfortable routine which we are all adjusting too. Amy continues to test my patience but she is such a loving and caring big sister that I have to forgive her her nearly-three attitude. She has gone to bed without stories a few nights recently which have not been some of our prouder parenting moments but this is new to all of us and we need to learn together how to adjust to life as four.

Apart from a bad weekend when Stella and I were suffering blocked and snotty noses, she continues to be a placid and sweet natured baby. She still settles easily, often falling asleep in my arms after a feed or as soon as I wrap her and put her into the bassinet. She is taking the dummy but seems to settle equally as well with as she does without it so although we are still using it, we don’t seem to be relying on it as much as we did with Amy at this age. Stella sleeps well in the car but can get unsettled and overstimulated if she just catnaps in the capsule and the car during the day. She does better with one long sleep in her bassinet, either in the morning or the afternoon so we have been planning our days around this and taking things a little easier. Amy is still not sleeping during the day (hence the couple of bedtime meltdowns!) but can be persuaded to hop into our bed to watch a DVD while Stella sleeps against the wall in her bassinet. I marvel at my newest daughters ability to sleep through almost anything!

Our routine of two long sleeps during the day with feeds inbetween usually brings us to around 5.30 or 6pm with time to kill so we have been bathing Stella almost every night. We put the heating on until our small living room is really warm and then undress Stella for some naked time. She seems to enjoy being undressed so long as she is warm enough and she loves, loves, loves the water. Now that she is stretching her legs out and kicking she is almost too big for the baby bath and Ron has bathed both girls together for the last few nights which is working out well. I take Stella from him and get her dressed and settled for a feed whilst he gets Amy out of the bath and dresses her. Then he reads to Amy and once I have put Stella down, I go in and say goodnight and read a last story to Amy. Then Ron and I sit and look at each other and wonder if we are incredibly talented parents or just bloody lucky with our girls!

Stella sleeps consistently from around 7ish until 11.30pm-12.30am and these feeds are getting quicker and quicker. Ron has given her a bottle twice at this feed when she has woken but will start doing a dream feed and waking her a little earlier as soon as I get into a better expressing routine. Stella is at the right age for this dream feed, I know this because last night Amy woke Ron and I at 12am, crying but Stella slept on so I picked her up, took her into the living room and fed her whilst Ron settled Amy back to sleep. Stella had a good feed and a burp and then I swaddled her and had her back down asleep by 12.30am. These dreamfeeds worked really well for us with Amy because it meant I could go to bed a little later and still get 5 hours of sleep.

The next feed can be anywhere from 4.30am to 6am at the moment. Earlier works better for me because I can feed her, settle her and be asleep again myself and still have an hour or two before we have to get up with Amy and get our day started. I don’t know when the time between the dream feed and the next feed will start to lengthen, I can’t remember when Amy started sleeping through but I know that it was past the six month mark because it was only then that we arrived in Australia and settled into a routine after two months travelling when we left the UK. If Stella wakes me and I see a 4 on the clock, I get up and feed outside in the living room but recently if I see a 5 on the clock I have been bringing her into bed with us for a feed and then letting her fall asleep next to me because its not long after that Amy is wandering into our bedroom! Like this morning when a little knock on our door led to a small child coming in wearing sunglasses, slippers on the wrong feet and with her dressing gown draped over her head because she couldn’t get it on herself!

Stella has been hanging out on her playgym on the floor a bit but she still prefers to be held rather than put down. This is in direct contrast to when Amy was her age and she would sit happily in her bouncy chair for ages watching me as I tidied or folded laundry or prepared dinner in the kitchen. Stella will sit briefly in the bouncy chair but tends to cry so right now I am only really productive when she is sleeping. Somehow I am still managing to keep things running in the house although Ron did mention that he has run out of clean underwear this morning. Its his fault for having underwear in dark colours as most of the never ending laundry I seem to be doing lately is of the light, white and pink coloured variety!

(The photos that follow are of Amy – you are excused for not being able to tell the difference! There is no doubting these babies are sisters!)
Six weeks in was a very hard time for me with Amy. I sank into a mood that lasted days and I remember feeling very isolated and lonely despite being surrounded by friends and support. It was a combination of the slow but steady encroachment of sleep deprivation along with the novelty of having a new baby wearing off. The phone calls slowed and the congratulatory cards and gifts had stopped completely. I felt for the first time the all encompassing neediness and constant care that a baby required and suddenly it was as though the rest of my life lay spread out ahead of me, measured in nappy changes and feeding times and the stop-start sleep of the new mum. I felt bad for feeling so bad and was hesitant to speak about what I was going through for fear that people would think I didn’t love my baby.
In fact the complete opposite was true, I adored my baby with every fibre of my being but the reality of being a mum was overwhelming me. I tried to articulate my feelings to Ron, not very successfully leading to the great sweet potatoe fight of ’06 when we had a drop down, no holds barred argument about which of us was more tired! Thankfully I also spoke to a friend from my antenatal class who over cups of coffee reassured me that what I was feeling was entirely normal and understandable. We decided if I started to feel any worse that I would definitely talk to my GP and sure enough as soon as I had shared my burden, I started to feel a whole lot better. Thankfully this has not been the case this time round, in fact I am starting to feel stronger both physically and mentally as each day passes and so I am allowing myself to enjoy every second with my girls. I just cannot believe that the baby in these photos below has grown into my moody, exuberant, funny and loving Amy and I can’t wait to enjoy the journey with Stella.

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