Southerly by David Haywood

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Southerly: The Truth About Babies

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  • Kyle Matthews,

    As a practising clean-freak, I am fascinated. What are these mysterious "blue things", and how can I buy one?

    Umm, nappy liners, those are the words I couldn't find yesterday. Look like blue and white chux cloths, but they fall apart and I think you can flush them as they biodegrade.

    I'll ditto what Malcolm said about the sleep book. Compulsory reading, I wish I know now about getting babies to sleep by themselves when I went through child number 1.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Robyn Gallagher,

    I don't think I can read this thread anymore, because it's making my ovaries twinge.

    I feel ya, sister.

    Raglan • Since Nov 2006 • 1946 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    I wish I know now about getting babies to sleep by themselves when I went through child number 1.

    Our daughter - our second child - is named after our midwife, who gave us back sleep after the birth of our first. He'd go to sleep in your arms, put as soon as you put him down, he'd start screaming. In fact, as soon as you tilted him back to vertical, he'd start screaming. It was his party trick for weeks.

    She told us to just put him down, and let him scream. And he did, for an hour, while I lay in our bed and cried. Then he fell asleep, slept for five hours straight, and we never had to deal with it again.

    And given the women I knew who had trouble with toddlers who wouldn't sleep were co-sleepers who said things like 'putting your child in a forward-facing pushchair is child abuse', I thought I had this sleep thing sussed. Then friends had a colicky reflux baby and I realised I was back to knowing sweet frack all about anything.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Then friends had a colicky reflux baby and I realised I was back to knowing sweet frack all about anything.

    Jimmy had colic -- whatever the hell that actually is. I spent so many hours walking in circles with him on my shoulder (because of a birth injury he couldn't rest in arms at the time) that it really buggered my back. Took ages to get right.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22849 posts Report Reply

  • Mark Graham,

    Putting the baby in another room doesn't seem to be an option for us. If he doesn't get picked up within about five milliseconds, he screams himself to the point of hysteria -- and then it takes ages to calm him down enough to feed. Jennifer suspects that he lives in fear of us abandoning him (with good reason probably, given his behaviour -- the poor chap).

    Answers:
    1. the toughest thing in the first few weeks of parenting wasn't any of the above - it was putting her down in her own bed when all I wanted to do was cuddle and smooch her!

    2. So we had this thing we called the magic sleep book. We loved it, because it explained baby routines, how parents automatically stuff them up, how we reward undesirable behaviour and reinforce it, how to encourage good sleeping routines. It was brilliant.

    But the best thing about it, was that when we lent it to other people, their babies slept through the night. Immediately. Before they even read a page.

    3. I'll ditto what Malcolm said about the sleep book. Compulsory reading, I wish I know now about getting babies to sleep by themselves when I went through child number 1.

    4. She told us to just put him down, and let him scream. And he did, for an hour, while I lay in our bed and cried. Then he fell asleep, slept for five hours straight, and we never had to deal with it again.

    There you go - others have said it better than I ever could.

    Check nappy; check the cry (are they in pain (pretty unlikely, really) or just WANT TO BE PICKED UP. NOW. Remember routine, routine, routine. Be strong. Keep thinking three days. Apply to all future attempts at emotional manipulation (it's not exactly a constant war zone out there). You'll all end up happier.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 217 posts Report Reply

  • Jeremy Andrew,

    I second what Mark said. Kids need boundaries, everyone knows that, they just tend to forget that it applies from day one.

    I was telling my 8y.o. last night that it my job as a parent to make sure that he knows how to be a grownup when he gets there. Its his job to be a kid and to make mistakes, its my job to help him see his mistakes, why they were mistakes and how not to make them again.

    Remember, you're not raising kids, you're raising adults. If you don't tell them where the lines of acceptable behaviour are, its your fault if they grow up not knowing them.

    Hamiltron - City of the F… • Since Nov 2006 • 900 posts Report Reply

  • Mark Graham,

    It's always gratifying to be agreed with. Thanks Jeremy!

    If you don't tell them where the lines of acceptable behaviour are, its your fault if they grow up not knowing them.

    Mmmm - is that a recipe for the repair of the breakdown of society? ;)

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 217 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    Check nappy; check the cry (are they in pain (pretty unlikely, really) or just WANT TO BE PICKED UP. NOW.

    Mark, dude, you cherry-picked my comment, took what you wanted and ignored the end of it. And I'll go back and reiterate what I said earlier as well: any 'one size fits all' solution is at best unhelpfully rigid and at worst, well, worse than that. The thing with really bad colic/reflux babies is that they ARE in pain. Lying a reflux baby down makes their condition worse.

    The furthest I'd go would be to say, disciplined sleep-pattern setting works for healthy babies. Bob (I'm not bloody well calling him Rodney, thank you) has not been a healthy baby.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    yup, no one size fits all, just strategies that others have tried and worked for them that you can try too - the sleep one seems to be a must for everyone to try because it works for so many - and you probably have to listen to them cry and be able to walk away - the kids do need to be old enough though - 3+ months seems to be about when they can learn to self-soothe. I knew parents with 9 yr olds who still wouldn't go to sleep unless the parents would lie down with them

    Russell - I definitely remember the sore back from the colicky daughter - I used to wander the streets of Berkeley for hours in the evenings - haunt book stores where I could look at the shelves but never stop long enough to actually read, do drive by espresso purchases - make an order go around the block, pick it up and pay for it

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2622 posts Report Reply

  • David Haywood,

    Just caught up with developments on this thread... great to see such lovely stories coming out -- and thanks for all the kind comments...

    Despite being tough (at times), I think Sarah Flynn's comment sums up my own feelings about parenting:

    Parenting is the bomb, it'll make you nostalgically remember all the best parts of your own childhood and give you the best excuse in the world to recreate them. Some parts are hard, but... it's mostly a gas!

    RE: Mark Graham and Jeremy Andrew's kind advice:

    Check nappy; check the cry -- are they in pain (pretty unlikely, really)...

    Kids need boundaries, everyone knows that, they just tend to forget that it applies from day one.

    Nearly everyone has been telling us this sort of thing since day one (nurses, midwife, plunket nurse, etc.) -- but they didn't have to listen to Bob's screams of pain. The specialist who diagnosed the acid reflux said it was a nine-out-of-ten on the scale of severity.

    [NOTE: Acid reflux is where stomach acid comes back into the oesophagus and chemically burns the flesh. In babies this is exacerbated when they lie down, and hence they want to be picked up, and held vertically, so that the acid flows (and stays) back in their stomachs].

    So he definitely is in severe pain, and hence gets hysterical when we don't do something about it (my comment about him fearing abandonment was supposed to be a joke -- I should learn how to make those smiley face things :"-&^).

    Jennifer's mother was so convinced that Bob's behaviour was due to our bad parenting skills that she flew to CHCH to take control of the situation. She is a huge advocate of 'controlled crying' and here's what she had to say after three hours with Bob:

    Well of course controlled crying won't work for a baby like Robert. It's just torturing him isn't it...

    So I think that if we'd taken the 'experts' advice to leave Bob crying (even for ten minutes) then we would have been guilty of torturing the poor wee chap via his own stomach acid.

    I just mention this because the other new parents may end up having babies with acid reflux -- and if they persist with a 'controlled crying' approach then they could actually do some damage.

    Incidentally, although 'controlled crying' is the standard approach in NZ, Jennifer has discovered (from researching the subject through medical journals) that it is actually highly controversial in paediatric circles. I don't know enough about the research to have developed an informed opinion on the subject -- but I just thought I'd mention this for completeness (as it were).

    But thanks for the advice, Mark and Jeremy, I know it was very kindly meant...

    Dunsandel • Since Nov 2006 • 1156 posts Report Reply

  • Jeremy Andrew,

    The furthest I'd go would be to say, disciplined sleep-pattern setting works for healthy babies.

    Sorry, I meant to imply that. I should have been more explicit, our firstborn had reflux, although not as bad as Bob's sounds. We found using a saf-t-sleep velcro thingy and elevating the head end of his bassinet made all the difference there. We didn't get on to the controlled crying stuff till well after the colic & reflux were sorted. And even then, we weren't fanatics or anything, the boundaries were negotiated not dictated.

    Hamiltron - City of the F… • Since Nov 2006 • 900 posts Report Reply

  • slarty,

    I too cried with (supportive) laughter!

    "Sack your midwife"

    Have to agree: what with the Breastapo, the creationist ante-natal group and the bizarre mumbo jumbo witch doctor crap that our midwife seemed to make up on the spot we ended up firmly in the "planned C section / good drugs / formula / Obs" camp.

    Scary thing is it seems to have worked for baby 1.0. Sleeps 12 hours a night + 2 hours during the day, eats anything, never sick... and mum got 5 good nights sleep straight after, and was out jogging within 3 weeks...

    I'm sure she'll turn out to have "attachment issues" in the future, but at least we'll have something to blame the teen tantrums on :)

    Since Nov 2006 • 290 posts Report Reply

  • Mark Graham,

    But thanks for the advice, Mark and Jeremy, I know it was very kindly meant...

    Yes, indeedy. And, as Emma rightfully corrected me, one size does not fit all.

    My daughter (9 months with the curl in the middle of her forrid...) tends to cry in a particularly demanding and piercing tone. We're still training her (and ourselves). Every kid is different, and I suspect we approach each one differently as well.

    I sympathise with Bob's reflux. Never nice being introduced to the world when it's filled with pain and I will remain ever grateful that was one problem we didn't have to deal with. Good luck.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 217 posts Report Reply

  • Margaret B,

    I can sympathise about the fact that advice is kindly meant but sometimes inadvertently annoying to the person on the receiving end.

    Having had 14 weeks of morning sickness I did get a little sick (boom boom) of people giving me handy tips to stop it. I was nauseous and vomitting for 14 weeks and I am not (usually) a stupid person. This means by the fourth week of knowing the inside of the toilet bowl better than the tv screen I had tried pretty much everything there was to try, apart from medical specialist-type advice. If there was an easy trick to solve the problem then I think I would have found it, so desperate was I not to feel so endlessly ill.

    I tried to be gentle with people persisting with their advice, but by about week 10 of the throwing up I was losing my patience with the "try ginger tea or having some dry toast first thing in the morning" advice. I know, I know, people meant well, but they were kind of insulting my intelligence at the same time.

    I imagine it's going to be kind of similar with our baby if we have any persistent problems. (Who am I kidding, it's a child, of course there will be persistent problems!)

    Giving advice is such a fine line - it's difficult to find that balance between pointing out the already obvious and sharing something that you genuinely think someone may not have heard about or tried yet.

    Since Oct 2007 • 59 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    I sympathise with Bob's reflux. Never nice being introduced to the world when it's filled with pain and I will remain ever grateful that was one problem we didn't have to deal with. Good luck.

    The good news: we now know that Jimmy was probably in a lot of pain with his birth injury -- a big haematoma, the result of a late rotation, that calcified in the weeks after his birth.

    I'm now confident that it has had no permanent effect on him -- and also, thanks to his brother's arrival, that it was not what made him mildly autistic. That was the genetic lottery. Like Heroes, only nobody gets to fly ...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22849 posts Report Reply

  • TroyHoward,

    Dude..welcome to the big show!

    The only 3 bits of advice I ever give new/expecting parents:

    Get ready for the biggest, longest, mostly unintentional pissing contest you'll ever have with every other parent for the rest of your life.

    Do it your way and don't feel bad about it - millions of years of evolution have given you some pretty powerful instincts. Trust them!

    Remember MASH! No matter how shitty things are (literally sometimes), you'll always find something that will bring a smile to your face. (I think that ends when they hit 13 though?)

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 78 posts Report Reply

  • Deborah,

    Margaret B said:

    Having had 14 weeks of morning sickness I did get a little sick (boom boom) of people giving me handy tips to stop it.

    And then, to top it all off, they tell you that only Western women get morning sickness, so clearly, if you are experiencing it, it is YOUR FAULT.

    'Tho ginger tea did work for me....

    That, and resolving that this was definitely the last time, when I had my head down the toilet bowl yet again during my second pregnancy. I find that not being pregnant does wonders for morning sickness.

    New Lynn • Since Nov 2006 • 1447 posts Report Reply

  • Brent Jackson,

    We found an alternative to controlled crying which was effective (after a lot longer), and not so heart wrenching, for babies that start hollering as soon as you leave them.

    After putting them down sit with them with your hand on their chest until they go to sleep. The next night just hold their hand, the next night just, sit next to them, and then start moving the chair further away. After a fortnight, the chair is outside the room, and your leaving doesn't seem to bother them. (I guess you're teaching them that object permanance applies to parents).

    Cheers,
    Brent.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 620 posts Report Reply

  • Max Call,

    At the risk of

    pointing out the already obvious

    I had morning sickness both pregnancies.
    whole 9 months with the first.
    2nd pregnancy it got so bad I couldn't even keep water down - the doctor said - 'lets try acupuncture - if this doesn't work we will have to hospitalise you'
    It worked
    in fact - i felt fantastic.
    I had to return to the doctor every 2-3 days for 15 minute session.
    It was free back then but I have been told (but don't know if it is true) that it is no longer funded.

    Fruit Bowl of New Zealand… • Since Jun 2007 • 153 posts Report Reply

  • Max Call,

    and then, to top it all off, they tell you that only Western women get morning sickness, so clearly, if you are experiencing it, it is YOUR FAULT.

    My dad tried telling me that acupuncture being a cure for my morning sickness was 'all in my head'

    I said I don't bloody care how it works, as long as it does work!

    Fruit Bowl of New Zealand… • Since Jun 2007 • 153 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Hosking,

    Really enjoying this thread, much more itneresting than that terrorism thingy...

    the acupuncture thing is interesting... ACC funds acupuncture treatment, and given their tightness, that's quite significant. My own experience (not with pregnancy, needless to say) is that it is quite useful but there is a diminishing return over time.

    Few other things.... Ahh, the singing thing. At some very early age I started singing a Seekers song 'Train Whistle Blowing" to my daughter to calm her down. It was one of those things that just popped up in desperation one night and it worked. Apparantly my mother used to sing it to my younger brother but I had no concious memory of it.

    Oh, and I can't sing either. My daughter is now four and can sort of sing it herself, which she did last night during the thunderstorm....she figured that if singing it helped her get to sleep, singing it really loudly would work even better.

    The reflux thing - a family member had three kids who all had it. Even then though the 'once size fits all' mentality doesn't apply - each of them had little variations which meant the same treatment did not work for all three.

    One other anecdote, which touches on some of the issues raised here: when our daughter was in neo-natal care shortly after being born I had fed her and the nurse said she looked ready to go back into the cot...I said no, I thought she still had wind and the nurse said "well, she looks OK to me, but you keep burping her if you think you need to" ...shortly after came a lourd 'BARRPP' and the nurse grinned and said "parent's instinct. Always go with it'.

    I've hung onto that advice many times since.

    South Roseneath • Since Nov 2006 • 830 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    the acupuncture thing is interesting... ACC funds acupuncture treatment, and given their tightness, that's quite significant.

    Acupuncture is also funded under an Invalid/Sickness benefit, as long as the acupuncture is carried out by a GP - whether or not that GP has acupuncture-specific training.

    I was extremely skeptical when I got as far as acupuncture, but all anyone else was offering me was anti-depressants and painkillers. It was brilliant for my fibromyalgia and migraines.

    I was talking to a woman over the weekend whose oldest had pretty bad reflux, and she said they fixed it, overnight, like flicking a switch, by taking her to an osteopath. Again, I'm skeptical, but if it works, and doesn't appear to be detrimental, how can you argue?

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • Lambert,

    Brilliant post. We've logged two weeks with our new little boy and gotta say, so far it's been sweet. Any illusions of being the stoic, gruff dad teaching my boy to be a manly man who hides girly emotion like, you know, loving your son heaps, disappeared the minute he popped out of his mum (screaming and covered in green shit, no less. He was the spitting image of Yoda).

    But we've had a number of friends with reflux babies and it's made me totally paranoid - when do you know if it's going to kick in? Is it like a ticking time bomb where, for the first two weeks everything is fine then on day 15 - BOOM - the acid shoots up and your first born shrieks in agony for the next three months?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 27 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Speight,

    "parent's instinct. Always go with it'

    Great advice, and important to remember at 4am when you look at each other and really really don't know what to do next. It also helps when you "know" that something isn't right and the first/second/third authority figure doesn't get it.

    My first experience of parent's instinct in the face of all other advice came with our first child. After 6 weeks of toe curling breastfeeds (and she never took a bottle) and my continued insistence that there was a problem, eventually she was diagnosed. A tongue tie. One small snip and breastfeeding was fantastic!

    Several years and another child later, our youngest developed an odd cough one morning (no other symptoms at all). Don't ask me to define odd, but it just didn't seem right. A visit to the after hours centre and the terrifying advice that "we've called ahead to the hospital and its quicker for you to drive than to call an ambulance..." and we had one very sick 1 year old with pneumonia bundled up with tubes and drips and in the care of wonderful paedeatric nurses and doctors (and eventually a full recovery).

    Parenting is all the things that everyone has talked about, and has such wonderful moments as well as those ones that just about do your head in - for us, we just try to be the best parents that we can be and trusting ourselves and what works for us has worked well so far.

    Since Nov 2007 • 1 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    Emma H, you don't have an email address set up - could you email me please? I'd like to talk to you about fibro.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

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