Nine months of Zyma

I say this every time, but I can’t believe I’m typing this. How has it been three months since my last Zyma update? It has flown by! I’m also very glad I decided to switch to quarterly updates because I would not have had time to post every month!

So… last time I said she had three bottom teeth and I was sure I saw signs of a third one on its way. That third bottom tooth never did manifest, but shortly before turning 7 months she started chewing her hands even more than usual and biting while feeding again (even though she had learned fairly quickly that biting means no milk). Everything I’ve read claims that teething-related fussiness for an individual tooth lasts about 8 days – 5 before the tooth erupts through the gum and then another 3. Well, it was eleven days of fussing, biting and complaining before I finally felt a top tooth poking through the gum. That tooth then turned out to be four, all at the top, so it was about a month and a half of an extremely whiny, bitey, fussy baby before the fourth one was through enough to stop bothering her. We had a break of about a week but now she’s back to biting me multiple times a day and whining whenever we’re in the flat and I’m not entertaining her, so I’m currently on watch for tooth number 7! (She also has a doctor’s appointment on Monday for her 9 month check up so I’ll find out then whether something other than teeth is bothering her.)

Despite teething woes this season is a lot of fun. While I miss newborn snuggles she’s so much more interactive now and I’m really enjoying seeing her personality emerge. Over the past few months she’s gone from the occasional giggle to full on laughs and she finds the most random things funny. For a while ripping paper was absolutely hilarious – she was so amused by me opening my birthday presents that I ended up tearing the wrapping paper into strips for her entertainment. I’m always trying to find new things to make her laugh because it’s such a joyful sound. She loves bubbles and seems to be starting to enjoy going on the baby swings at playgrounds (although I think it’s more the coming towards whoever’s pushing her and trying to grab their hair/face she likes than the swing itself). Her current favourite books are “Owl Babies” and “But Not the Hippopotamus”. Back when she was six months I wrote that she loved “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt” but she doesn’t seem to find that one as amusing now.

For a while she was doing really well with eating and tried lots of different foods – purées only, we tried doing some baby led weaning but she absolutely refuses to put any “real” food in her mouth, except carrot puffs. Her favourites seem to be anything with pumpkin or sweet potato When we first offered plain yoghurt after her six month appointment she ate a little bit then she went off it completely for over a month – I had to mix it into her pumpkin. Last week, out of the blue, she started taking it again but only with puréed fruit mixed in. She will eat neither the yoghurt nor the fruit on its own! When the top four teeth started coming in she refused to eat any solids at all for about a week and currently we’re on day 5 of another food refusal. Two days ago she actually cried when I offered her pumpkin and potato, which she usually loves. I was hoping to stop breastfeeding after 1 year but unless things change quickly it’s looking like she’s still going to need breast milk for nutrition in 3 months time. Even on a good day she will only eat around 5-6 of her baby spoonfuls, and only if I time it exactly right between milk feeds in the afternoon. On a truly amazing day she will eat 1-2 spoons of breakfast but most days she refuses anything that isn’t breast milk before noon.

On 11th August, 5 days before she turned 8 months, she finally managed to roll from her back to her front – then proceeded to complain until I rescued her because she still hates tummy time and she couldn’t roll the other way. Then, on 25th August, she actually managed to roll back the other way after getting herself onto her front. Now if I lie her on her tummy she consistently manages to roll over onto her back, but going the other way she doesn’t always make it further than her side. Currently she only rolls in one direction and then back the way she came – meaning from her back she’ll roll towards her right side onto her stomach and then she’ll go to the right again to roll back – so she can’t use rolling to get to places yet, but I’m sure it will come soon enough. And every time she “rescues” herself from being on her tummy she looks so proud.

She is also sitting really well now. She still falls backwards when she gets distracted but she can play with a toy using both hands and still stay relatively stable.

Sitting – the cushion is there to provide a soft landing but it’s not supporting her in any way

She likes being out and about and watching other children – I finally managed to find a playgroup for babies her age (I actually found it ages ago but only recently realised people who aren’t members of the organisation that runs it can go and just pay a small fee per session) and we’ve been three times so far. She particularly seems to like looking at babies who are smaller than her. She really enjoys attention, but on her terms. She would love me to entertain her all day long but when people smile at her while we’re out she usually just glares at them. Recently one of the assistants at the local shop finally managed to get Zyma to smile for her and it made her day! Occasionally she will decide someone is worthy of a smile though, and her face just lights up. Usually the people she wants to smile at her are the ones who are ignoring her,s o she’ll sit there smiling away and making little noises until they notice her. When we’re indoors for too long she will eventually start whining so every afternoon I stick her in her pushchair and we go for a walk – to one of various nearby parks where I lay a picnic blanket on the ground and she usually has a play on the baby swings, into town where we stop at a café and she gets to play with the sugar packet from my coffee, or just to a supermarket (even food shopping is interesting when you’re a baby!). After a fairly hot summer it’s been mostly rainy recently and it’s cooled down a lot – autumn is definitely in the air – so I’m going to need to get her some little waterproofs so we can continue getting out and about. Obviously her pushchair has a rain cover but she doesn’t like to sit in there the whole time.

I am still tired but Zyma has started having one stretch of 5-6 consecutive hours of sleep most nights. Unfortunately it doesn’t help me much because during those hours I’m tidying up from the day, cooking and eating tea (Jan has been busy at work so on the days he’s in the office he’s mostly not home for food) and pumping so Jan can give her a bottle when she wakes for milk. After that first long stretch of sleep all bets are off – she could go straight back to sleep but be up three more times, refuse to go back to sleep for over an hour then sleep right through until morning, go back to sleep then wake up at 5 a.m. wanting to be up for the day (I refuse to get her out of bed before 6 so the end result is the two of us lying awake, me doing my best to keep her quiet for another hour so Jan can continue to sleep). Hopefully once she’s more interested in solids she’ll finally drop those middle of the night feeds and I’ll actually get an unbroken (if short) night’s sleep again!

At her last spina bifida check up she was put on medicine for her bladder, which means we now have to catheterise five times a day. She seems to be doing well on it and she does a reasonably good job of lying still (we have to administer the meds directly into the bladder via a catheter so she has to lie there for quite while). My current trick is singing either “I Went to the Animal Fair” or the chorus of “Agadoo”. I have no idea why she likes those particular songs but they always seem to calm her down!

These past three months have gone so fast and I’m just in awe of everything this tiny human can suddenly do (although I admit I was starting to wonder whether she would ever catch on with the rolling thing). Four teeth at once has not been the most fun and I can’t deny there are days that I find myself counting down the hours until bedtime, but seeing her little face light up when I walk in the room makes it all worth it and I honestly can’t imagine life without my little sidekick. She is my absolute world and I love her to bits – bitey teeth, scratchy finger nails and all!

December 2021 recap

It seems almost silly to be writing this post at this point, but I’ve made it this far so for the sake of completeness we might as well do it.

So, December started with lots of early morning activity as my roommate had started bleeding again. After the previous episode she had been told one more bleed and they would be performing her C-section, so that’s exactly what happened. I think he baby was just shy of 34 weeks at that point, so not ideal but not too bad. She came to visit me 2 days later to let me know everything had gone well and her daughter was doing fine, although would be in hospital for a while.

I spent a couple of days alone – in a room meant for 3 and then got two new roommates at once. One was only there for a single night – the next day she hit 37 weeks and went off for her scheduled C-section. The other woman who was from (I think) Somalia was due to have a C-section at 37 weeks on 27th December. She had somehow misunderstood though and kept telling me she was having hers the day after me, on the 17th. She was so upset when the doctor explained that no, that would be far too early, and her baby needed to stay in until the 27th. She had two other young children and she told me they called every night crying because they wanted mama to come home.

My final two weeks leading up to the birth were relatively uneventful. Someone else came in who was also having foetal surgery for spina bifida and I was able to talk to her a bit about what to expect. I saw her again after Zyma was born and she was already up and walking around within a couple of days… and off the IV meds after a week! Of all the others I met who’d had the operation I think she bounced back the fastest.

Finally, 16th December came around. We had actually made it to precisely 37 weeks as planned! I was first on the list for the C-section that morning, so barring emergencies I would be in surgery at 7 a.m.! As it turned out there was an emergency, so Zyma was born at 8:01 a.m. on 16th December 2021. We had been warned before hand that the immediate crying after birth is just a movie cliché, but the very first thing Zyma did was let out a wail just to let me know she was there. Jan stood to watch her being taken out and told me the surgeon immediately tickled her feet to see whether she would react… which she did. Z was then taken away to a side room while I was sewn back up – it took a little longer because they discovered a weak point on the incision from the foetal surgery so they repaired that while they were in there. Unfortunately Zyma couldn’t be brought to me because she was having trouble breathing by herself so Jan went with her to the neonatology unit while I was taken back to the room on the labour and delivery ward and immediately attached to a milk pump. At some point Jan came back and I as taken to see Zyma still in my bed. It was a surreal moment. She was on oxygen so I couldn’t hold her – just put out a finger and stroke her. I couldn’t believe that tiny little human was mine! The bed and I then travelled back up to the ward I had been on previously. The post-natal ward is actually one floor higher but so many babies had been born around that time that people were being put on the pre-natal ward instead! It was nice for me because it meant I was back with the same familiar nurses/midwives who had been looking after me for the previous 5 weeks (plus my other two stays). After the numbness from the epidural wore off I was given a morphine injection for the pain which made me throw up my lunch! Thankfully by the day after the C-section I didn’t need morphine any more, just the oral painkillers they gave me. In the late afternoon Jan came and took me down to the neonatal ward in a wheelchair and I was able to spend a couple of hours with Zyma. I also tried to pump while I was down there. I was encouraged to pump every 2-3 hours during the day and 4 hours overnight. It took a few tries for my milk to come in – I remember being overjoyed when I actually produced enough to suck up into a syringe. We’re literally talking a few millilitres here… meanwhile the woman in the next bed was filling two entire bottles at a time and being told to avoid breastfeeding tea! So Zyma started life on formula that was supplemented with the breast milk I managed to get.

Overjoyed to have got more than 2 ml of milk!

I was discharged 5 days after the C-section and up until the day before it was unclear when Zyma would be moving from the women’s hospital to the children’s hospital… then I got a call on the fourth morning of her life, a place had suddenly become available and they wanted to move her that afternoon. We both went down to see her off then Jan walked over to the children’s hospital and met the transport personnel at the neonatal ward there to make sure he knew where she was and get her settled in. Meanwhile, I went back upstairs for lunch and to pump. In the evening I was given taxi vouchers to go to the children’s hospital and back – it’s only about a 15 minute walk between the two hospitals but I was not up to walking for 15 minutes yet. It was so weird leaving the hospital after being mostly confined to my ward for 5 whole weeks! After visiting with Zyma for a while, I took a taxi back to the women’s hospital while Jan walked around the corner to the family room we had booked and which I moved into the next day after being discharged (again, I was given a taxi voucher to get me there). I was surprisingly emotional leaving the hospital after so long! Probably because I wasn’t actually going home yet and didn’t know when I would be. The building with the family rooms is about a 5 minute walk from the children’s hospital and the next few days were spent going back and forth. The COVID rules at the time were that parents could be present in the neonatal ward 24 hours a day but only both at once for a total of 2 hours (they weren’t literally clock watching though, so we may have snuck in an extra half hour here and there!). I still had to pump regularly (pumps were provided) so Jan was with her then, one day he had to go to Bern to sort out a new passport, he also popped over to the women’s hospital with chocolates as a thank you for the nurses over there and so we made it through. We tended to leave relatively late at night compared to the other parents, but usually we were back in the room by 10 p.m. I was still recovering from the C-section after all (plus prior surgery and 5 weeks in hospital). The lactation consultants came by and told me we were both basically doing everything right but because Zyma was so small her sucking reflex wasn’t strong enough to get anything out yet. She finally managed to get some milk from me before we left though.

It’s hard to believe her hands used to be this small

We had been told to prepare for a stay of anywhere between 12 and 21 days, but apparently the doctors wanted to try and get through all the testing before Christmas so she actually had her last spina bifida tests on the 23rd, then she had to have a sleep study done overnight because her oxygen levels kept dropping while she slept. The result was that she needed to be out on caffeine. The hip ultrasound that was part of her spina bifida tests had revealed dysplasia, which we at the time thought would have to be treated in hospital for three weeks, but that could just as well be done in Basel. They told us Basel children’s hospital would have space for her from 27 December but if they agreed instead of her being transported from one hospital to another we could take her home and then bring her to the other hospital ourselves. Basel did agree and we were informed on Christmas Eve that she could go home the next day provided her oxygen levels stayed stable. So Jan spent the morning rushing to try and get everything we needed before the shops closed… bottles, formula in case breastfeeding didn’t work, nappies… the last minute things we had expected to still have time for. The next morning the nurses showed us how to prepare her caffeine and give it to her along with a bottle, we ate lunch in the hospital for the last time (until we returned for her first regular spin bifida check up in March), I fed Zyma… breastfeeding actually worked, although it took a while for her to get enough, Jan returned the room key and, finally, in the late afternoon, we were on our way! We didn’t actually arrive home until around 6 p.m. so we didn’t get much of Christmas Day there but at least Zyma was able to spend some of her first Christmas at home!

On the 26th, a friend came by to meet Zyma… her first visitor. I also opened most of the Christmas gifts (we hadn’t bothered the night before) and new baby gifts. Some people had actually sent her both… such a lucky/spoiled baby! Those first two nights are a bit of a blur. I didn’t sleep much, partly because she hadn’t yet learned the difference between day and night but also because I spent half the time checking she was still breathing when she went quiet and the other half wondering whether the noises she was making in her sleep were normal! But even though we’d only had her for a couple of nights it felt so wrong having to give her up again the next day… for what we thought was going to be three weeks. As it turned out, after performing their own ultrasound, the doctors in Basel didn’t think the hip dysplasia was as bad as feared and decided to send her home with a harness to try out. So on the 28th, just as I was getting ready to go to the hospital and take over from Jan, he messaged to say she was allowed home! By the time I’d joined him there, we’d had the discharge consultation with the doctors and I’d got enough milk into her for her to agree to go in the car seat it was already late afternoon, so again we didn’t have much left of the day. But she was home, and this time she would be staying.

The rest of the year was spent mostly at home getting used to being a family of three, although we did venture out for Zyma’s first little trip in the pram. And on New Year’s Eve we were in bed by 11 p.m.! I couldn’t tell you whether I was awake at midnight… I may or may not have been feeding her at that time, but the fireworks had already been going so crazy since about 9 p.m. that it was impossible to tell the difference! It didn’t really matter to us anyway. Sleeping next to the baby we’d waited so long for was the perfect way to see in the New Year!

Six months of Zyma

Six months! I can’t believe I just typed that. It only seems like a few weeks ago that I was publishing my three months post. And suddenly here we are… my baby is half a year old. In the time since my last post we’ve made it through her first little illness… initially we thought it was a UTI, and that was confirmed by the hospital (of course it was a public holiday here in Basel so the paediatrician was closed. With a fever and being under six months the telemedicine hotline recommended taking her to A+E at the children’s hospital). The initial rapid test came back positive and we started her on antibiotics, but the sample was also sent for cultures to find out exactly what the bacteria was, and 4 days later we received a phone call saying they hadn’t found anything. So we don’t know what she actually had… probably a small infection that cleared up by itself. At the exact same time, she started cutting her first tooth, which seemed a little unfair of the universe! And before anyone says it yes I am aware that teething can cause a raised temperature but not 39.6°C! (*Checks Google* That’s 103.28°F). We had already given her paracetamol in the morning, but with her temperature still hovering around 39°C the hospital gave her ibuprofen and that brought it down to below 38. Once the temperature was within normal range she was a lot more lively and even managed a few smiles. This was a Thursday (it was Ascension Day, in case you’re wondering) and by the Saturday she was maintaining a normal temperature without the aid of ibuprofen.

Little feet! (But big for her size… they’re always the first thing to grow out of footed clothing)

She now has two little bottom teeth and third one on its way through… we’re currently working on not biting mama. If we use the teeth, we don’t get milk!

Last time I said that she had started smiling, but mainly at her mobile rather than at us. Well, it wasn’t long before she had the social smile down and now she never stops. We went out for a little day trip recently and stopped for coffee and cake. Jan walked around the café with her before we ordered and two old ladies were treated to smiles. She’s also learned to laugh (and I’m realising what a terrible mammy I am having failed to write down when she achieved any of these milestones!). The first time I heard her giggle was when I was changing her nappy… I wasn’t sure whether she was just testing a new noise or actually amused, but it was definitely the cutest sound. She then didn’t do it for about a week, then we heard the occasional giggle, now she full on laughs all the time. She finds the most random things funny – and often only once with the same thing not getting any reaction the next time – and it’s almost impossible not to laugh along with her. One thing that almost always makes her smile and giggle is when I read We’re Going on a Bear Hunt. She particularly likes the lines “a swirling, whirling snowstorm” and “thick, oozy mud”. She’s still too impatient for most other books but that one is a hit.

Half German baby’s first time in Germany (for all of 30 seconds!)

In between laughing she has also learned to whine… what’s that all about?! I thought I had at least until she learned to talk for that! It started at around 4 months and there’s really no other way to describe it. A constant “Aaawhooooo” and “eeehhhhhh” in the whiniest tone of voice imaginable. Usually the whining starts when she’s forced to be on her tummy for more than two minutes at a time. She hasn’t learned to roll over yet so after looking around the room for a while and playing with whatever toy I put in front of her she’ll put her head down and whine, then eventually cry until I rescue her.

One milestone that I can put a date to, because it only happened recently, is sitting. She has looooved sitting up on our laps for a while and just a few weeks ago – on 1st June – she sat by herself for the very first time. She needs her hands to prop her up (apparently it’s called tripoding) but she can stay in that position for at least a minute without help… at least until she decides she needs one of her hands for something else and promptly topples over! I try not to let her be in that position for too long though.

I love this sleepsuit. Dinosaurs are for everyone!

At just over three months she had her first spina bifida checkup and she did so well. It was a long day for everyone, with the first appointment at 8:30 a.m. meaning we had to be on the road by 6 a.m. but she was amazing. We made it to within ten minutes of the hospital before she started to cry. I was in the back with her and managed to keep her mostly calm until we had arrived and she could have milk, and she was perfect for most of the tests. She did cry during the kidney ultrasound and when one of the doctors wanted to see her on her tummy (the dreaded tummy time coupled with tiredness – not a great combination!) but other than that she did great. The results were also mostly positive, and everyone was particularly pleased with how well she moves her legs. We’ve now started physiotherapy but more just to set things in motion than to address any specific problems. We did start intermittent catheterisation because one of the tests showed a couple of issues there – basically her bladder starts to contract before it’s actually full which could eventually cause urine to reflux back into the kidneys, and she also doesn’t empty her bladder completely. If things don’t improve she will eventually have to start on medication that would completely paralyse the bladder, meaning it wouldn’t contract at all, even when full, and she would no longer be able to urinate by herself, so the doctor wanted us to learn how to catheterise her now so it will already be routine if she does end up needing medication. Bladder problems are common with spina bifida because among the affected nerves are those that control the bladder, but we were obviously hoping she would have escaped. It was relatively unlikely though given the level of her defect. At first we had carers coming in to help us with catheterisation, but now she’s a bit bigger we’ve finally managed to figure out how to do it ourselves every time. Not having an appointment at 10:30 a.m. Monday to Friday definitely makes my life a lot easier! Her next spina bifida check up is at the end of this month so keep your fingers crossed it’s still all good news.

Oh, I almost forgot, when we went back to the hospital in Basel for her hip dysplasia check up the doctor was extremely pleased and said he no longer needs to see her. Her hips will be checked regularly at the spina bifida clinic anyway but she won’t be needing a harness again.

Between physiotherapy, carers’ and doctors’ appointments and various visitors we’ve been kept very busy. Luckily Zyma is a relatively easy baby even when she’s at her whiniest and so far I’ve had no problem getting on the bus with her – although I have had to rush to pay and leave the supermarket a few times so I could feed her on a bench outside. Fortunately it’s usually warm enough to do that now! My mam and brother came to visit recently so she also had her first train ride – she did very well, feeding on the way there and then hanging out in the carrier on daddy on the way back. The next challenge will be a looong car ride to visit Jan’s dad and attend his belated 70th birthday party. Wish us luck! She also still wakes 2-3 times a night to eat, meaning I’m often pretty zombie-like in the morning. It’s all worth it though. We couldn’t be prouder of our funny, smiley, wriggly little bean (my nickname for her). Happy half birthday baby girl. Mammy and daddy love you very much.

November 2021 recap

I’ve been meaning to write this post since February and it’s now almost April so let’s do this shall we… otherwise I’m still going to be banging on about last year in 2023!

After being rehospitalised at the end of October I was back on oral medication to prevent contractions and sent home again on 3 November. This time I was not allowed to work at all. Luckily I was only actually planning on working until the 5th since I had annual leave I still needed to take, so I only got a sick note for a couple of days. I then spent a week at home mostly in bed but also sorting out a few things that needed to be sorted before the birth. I managed to post out both a Christmas card and my cousin’s birthday present to New Zealand… only for them to still not arrive until after Christmas, but that’s another story! I also got together the documents I needed to register the birth. (Jan didn’t sort his part in time though, which has resulted in a right palaver with her surname, but again that’s another story).

On 9 November I went for an ultrasound. Because of the operation, I was supposed to go for one once a week to make sure the placenta was still working and baby was growing properly. I was expecting it to be routine, and almost everything looked great but the doctor noticed my amniotic fluid was low. I then had an appointment with another doctor (the first was just doing the ultrasound), who did a swab to test for leaking amniotic fluid sent me for a CTG (see my last monthly recap if you don’t know what that is). The CTG looked good and the swab was negative. I had also asked the doctor about a vaccination for whooping cough, which I had been recommended to get while I was in hospital for the operation. He sent the nurse to check whether they had any and they did so I got that as well. Finally I saw yet another doctor – the second one having only been standing in for her while she was on her break! She was fairly clueless about what was going on but decided I should be admitted to the hospital in Zurich. But this time I was sent home to pack and make my own way there instead of being transported in an ambulance so at least I knew they weren’t too worried! The doctor said she would let Zurich know I was coming so home I went… having been at the hospital for about 3 hours by this time! At home I packed then hung around waiting for ages because Jan decided he needed to finish something before driving me to Zurich. We finally arrived at the hospital around 9 p.m. where I first had to go to the Labour and Delivery floor for another CTG, two ultrasounds (a normal and an internal one) and another swab for amniotic fluid. The doctor was convinced it was going to be positive but it was not. After some discussion about whether I should have a booster of the injection for the baby’s lung development they decided to leave it for the time being and admit me to the prenatal ward, where I had been the other two times I was in hospital. Jan had to leave at around 11 p.m. to take the car back and I was finally taken up to the ward around midnight. The next morning the doctor came round and told me the plan… basically we would just wait, constantly monitor the situation and try and get me as far as possible. As long as baby was still doing well I would be allowed to continue the pregnancy but I definitely wouldn’t be going home. That was pretty much as I had expected and I agreed that hospital was the best place for me to be, so that’s where I stayed for the rest of November (and part of December, but we’re not there yet). The surgeon who was in charge of my case and would be doing my C-section also came to see me and explained her theory of what was going on… basically she thought there was a tiny hole at the site of the internal incision and amniotic fluid was leaking from there into my abdomen. The two swabs for amniotic fluid had come back negative because my waters hadn’t broken as such, and so there was no risk of infection and it was deemed safe for me to stay pregnant.

The view from my hospital room on 26 November 2021

For the rest of November I did crossword puzzles, read, walked around the ward and chatted to my various room mates. One person had already been in there for about 4 weeks and stayed there with me until 1 December, when she finally bled one too many times and was taken to have her daughter. Another person was only there for 5 days before giving birth to her daughter, whose original due date was the exact dame as Zyma’s – 6 January! We’re still in touch via the occasional WhatsApp message. Various other women came and went, some just for one night, some for a little longer. And for a few days I was even completely on my own… in a room meant for 3! Every day I had a CTG in the morning and another in the evening, every three days I had an ultrasound, and at some point I ended up back on IV meds to prevent contractions. It was boring and sometimes lonely (Jan couldn’t visit that often since he had to work) but every single day that I was able to stay pregnant was an absolute gift. I knew the longer baby stayed in the better things would be for her, and since she would already have spina bifida to deal with I really didn’t want her to end up with any additional issues from being born prematurely. So I embraced the boredom and kept myself occupied as best I could. And so, eventually, November passed and I made it to the month in which. no matter what, I would be having a baby!
December 2021 recap coming soon. Well, I say soon, but clearly I can’t promise anything…

Three months of Zyma

How is my baby three months old? It feels like only last week that I was writing the previous update!

Sleeping on mama again

So, we’re three months in and it feels like we’re starting to get the hang of things. One time I even put her in the carrier and went shopping with her in town – alone since Jan is back at work now. Mostly still from home but last week he actually spent three days in the office. Naturally Zyma chose the first of those days to be extra fussy so I didn’t even manage a shower!

Within days of me publishing my two month post Zyma started to coo and it’s the cutest sound ever. At first it was sporadic but over the past three days or so she’s been becoming increasingly vocal. I think babbling may arrive soon! She’s also started smiling, which just melts my heart. Jan and I don’t get many of them though – she reserves most of them for the mobile that hangs above her changing mat. In fairness it is an amazing mobile! The girlfriend of one of Jan’s colleagues made it and I would happily have paid actual money for one. Zyma still isn’t the biggest fan of nappy changes but for the ones where she does stay calm she’ll lie and coo up at her mobile – provided we keep it spinning!

Not the best photo but flowers! Bees!

Last week baby girl got her harness off. The doctor was really pleased with her and how quickly things resolved. We have to go back for a check up after 6 weeks but hopefully all will be well and we’ll be done with the subject of hip dysplasia. Not having to deal with a harness makes tummy time so much easier and she’s getting really good at lifting her head, as long as she’s propped up on a pillow. It’s still too difficult when lying flat so she mostly just complains or lies there and licks the mat. She passed the 4.5 kg (9 lb 14 oz) mark recently, meaning she’s actually deviating from her curve now. She’s always been around the 10th percentile; now she’s slowly creeping towards the 25th. She also had her first set of vaccinations at the end of February and Jan said that she didn’t even flinch! (He went with her because I finally got round to arranging my postpartum check up and the appointment ended up being at the same time as hers). After the jabs I relaxed slightly about being out in public, so she’s now been to two hospital appointments on the bus and we’ve taken the tram into town instead of walking.

I am still always tired (even though she mostly only wakes up twice at night now – except last night when it was 4 times!) but I am incredibly happy. It’s such a privilege to watch her grow and interact a little more every day. My next update will be at 6 months when I expect she’ll have changed beyond all recognition!

On a sort of side note, as well as being Zyma’s three month birthday, today is the three month anniversary of my due date for the twins. We love our little girl with all our hearts but that doesn’t mean we’ve forgotten our boys. I can’t even imagine how my life would have been with two three year olds running around but it definitely wouldn’t have been dull! l love you and miss you, teeny stars ⭐🌟.

What I read in February 2022

First of all thank you to everyone who made suggestions for how to read with a small baby (I’m not sure I can continue calling her a newborn now she’s coming up 12 weeks!). Back when I wrote that post Zyma would regularly fall asleep while breastfeeding and have to constantly be reminded to drink. She’s much better now – although her new thing is wriggling and pulling and turning her head, which is slightly distracting and not really compatible with reading! I have actually remembered to bring my book into the living room in the morning for the last few weeks though, so I managed to do some reading while she napped (on me), but I’ve recently had to turn my attention to cross stitch (for a new baby gift). I can only pursue one hobby at a time so February was another two-book month.

I’m linking up with Steph and Jana as always even though I don’t have much to say! Here are the two books I read in February.

The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave. Before Owen Michaels disappears, he manages to smuggle a note to his beloved wife of one year: Protect her. Despite her confusion and fear, Hannah Hall immediately knows to whom the note refers: Owen’s sixteen-year-old daughter, Bailey. Bailey who lost her mother tragically as a child and wants absolutely nothing to do with her new stepmother. As Hannah’s increasingly desperate calls to Owen go unanswered; as the FBI arrests Owen’s boss; as a US Marshal and FBI agents show up, Hannah quickly realises her husband isn’t who he said he was. And that Bailey just may hold the key to figuring out Owen’s true identity – and why he really disappeared. Hannah and Bailey set out to discover the truth, together, and as they start putting together the pieces of Owen’s past, they soon find themselves building a new future as well. One neither Hannah nor Bailey could have anticipated. I feel like everyone and their dog was reading this last year so it was time I finally caught up! I really enjoyed this book. It wasn’t always totally believable but it kept me sucked in. If I didn’t have a newborn to care for I would have finished it in a day. I didn’t love the epilogue but it was nice to have some closure. Not sure I would really describe it as a thriller though. It’s somewhat suspenseful but not really thrilling. Anyway, 4 stars.

City of Rust by Gemma Fowler. Railey dreams of winning the drone races with her bio-robotic gecko friend, Atti. But when a bounty hunter crashes their biggest race yet, the pair are forced to flee to the feared Junker clans who mine the rubbish orbiting the Earth. Rescued by a couple of Junker kids, they discover a danger bigger than anything they’d imagined – but can three kids, a gecko and an ancient computer save the world against the huge trash bomb (and its power-crazed creator) threatening to destroy the world? This is a fun read with lots and action. I loved Atti! Some parts were confusing and I felt like a few of the characters could have been fleshed out more (Care) but it’s an enjoyable enough story and something I could imagine reading with my daughter in the future. 3.5 stars.

That’s it. Once again neither of the books I read were by BAME/BIPOC authors. Not the greatest start to THE year on that front! My goal for March is to read 3 books. Wish me luck! Check out the link up for more book reviews.

Two months of Zyma

I think if I write one of these every month it will be a bit much – especially since I don’t want this to turn into a “mummy blog”, so after the next one we’ll cut it down to quarterly. But this month we’re doing it. So.

It’s now been two months in my new reality. The one where I’m constantly covered in breast milk – either in its pure form or after it’s already spent some time in the baby. We have about a dozen muslins/burp cloths but she has a real talent for juuust missing them. I knew we would be washing a lot of baby clothes but never expected quite so many of my own to be in the mix! I also had to buy some tops after realising just how few items of clothing I own that are suitable for breastfeeding!

In all honesty month two has been exhausting – and we have a relatively easy baby! Since about 5 weeks all she has seemed to want to do is eat and since she gets most of her nourishment directly from me you can imagine what that means. Choosing the right time to shower is a fine balancing act! All the feeding is paying off though… Zyma has passed the 3.5 kg mark (that’s 7 lb 11 oz). She’s still a tiny little thing but she’s following her own curve perfectly.

First time breastfeeding in public! (Photo by my mother)

Apart from being a hungry hungry hippo… did you know babies can forget how to pooh? Or rather at first they just let it flow then they realise they actually need to do something but some babies don’t quite get it. As my midwife explained all women should engage their pelvic floor much before something that causes abdominal pressure – like sneezing or lifting something heavy (hands up who actually does though. Lol.) Babies apparently do this automatically, including while trying to push out pooh. Unfortunately that means they’re straining against a closed door, so to speak. The result is that poohing (or passing gas) involves a lot of straining coupled with straight up wailing. The internet says crying provides the pressure to get the pooh out and the babies aren’t actually in pain but she certainly sounds like she’s in pain and her poor little face goes bright red! She’s slowly starting to have more bowel movements without straining than with so I’m hoping we’re turning a corner. And of course in our case it’s good that she’s straining to pooh since that means she can feel that she has to go and the spina bifida hopefully hasn’t affected her bowel function. I just wish there was something I could do to help her!

Holding daddy’s hand

But despite the difficulties please don’t think I’m complaining. I’m still absolutely in love with my baby girl and can’t believe she’s mine. Sometimes when she’s sleeping on me I’ll literally just stare at her in awe of her cuteness. As for Zyma, she loves mama milk and baths, hates nappy changes, getting washed with a flannel (full baths are only once a week) and being put down so mammy can eat with two hands. She’s started following objects with her eyes and head, stares at her black and white contrast books and always behaves well for doctors – even when she has to have an ultrasound. Her hip dysplasia is already looking much better and the doctor is really pleased with her, but the harness is staying on for a while longer just to be certain. I can’t wait to see what the next month will bring! We’re hoping for some real smiles…

October 2021 recap

I am slowly, slowly catching up with these monthly recap posts. This one and the next one should be relatively short though.

I started the month in hospital recovering from my (and baby’s!) operation. The nurses encouraged me to get up and moving as soon as possible so I spent a lot of time walking around the ward. In the second week I even ventured outside (with my trusty companion the IV stand. Lol.) I read a little, did crosswords and at some point a lady came round with colouring materials so I spent some time colouring in two pictures. I intended to send them to Post Pals children but I haven’t got round to it yet.

Exactly two weeks after the surgery I was allowed to go home with strict instructions for what I was allowed to do – absolutely no housework and for the first week I even had a doctor’s note for work. I spent that week mostly in bed reading and resting. Jan’s sister then came to stay for the weekend – not that I did much then either, other than play a board game. She and Jan went for a walk but it was too far for me.

I then briefly went back to work, but only did around 5-6 hours per day. Luckily I still had plenty of overtime that needed to be used up!

A week after my return to work I had an appointment for an ultrasound. The night before I barely slept because I kept feeling my uterus go hard, so in the morning I called in sick and then called the hospital to see whether I could come in earlier. They gave me an appointment with a midwife and I went for a CTG – a procedure that monitors the baby’s heart rate, foetal movement and uterine activity. Sure enough it turned out I was having constant Braxton Hicks or practice contractions. I then hung around at the hospital, had another CTG and went to my ultrasound appointment, where everything looked great. The contractions were a problem though because of the risk of the stitches from the operation rupturing so it was decided that I would be admitted and given IV meds to stop the contractions. I called Jan to bring me some stuff and went upstairs where I got another CTG and spoke to a midwife. The hospital also contacted the hospital in Zurich who said they would like me to be transferred to them, so once I’d seen the doctor and started on the meds an ambulance came to transport me to Zurich. I ended up staying there for a week and coming home on 3 November so that brings us to the end of October and thus the end of this recap.

September 2021 recap

The midwife is coming earlier than usual today – at 11:30 a.m. – so after giving the baby her 7 o’clock feed and putting her back to bed I actually got up and had my shower. Her next feed will be a bottle from daddy together with her medication (caffeine citrate if you’re interested) so I’m using the fee time to catch up a bit on blog posts. My mam and brother are also here right now but currently still sleeping.

So, September 2021. I actually had the first two weeks of the month of work for my summer holiday (my colleagues were off in July and August so September was the only time available to me). We had initially had vague plans to potentially go to Germany, but once we received Zyma’s diagnosis and it fairly quickly became clear that we would be going for the operation Jan decided to save his time off for while I was in hospital, meaning I was off by myself. The weather was also fairly miserable so I didn’t end up doing much. However, I decided it would be a great time to get a head start on stitching Christmas cards since I had no idea when or how I would be able to do them after the operation. As it turned out that was a very good idea given I ended up in hospital for a second time in October and then again from 9 November until Zyma was born!

On 11 September I had my second COVID vaccination. Jan took me to the vaccination centre then dropped me off back at home and went to choir practice. Later that day I had a sore arm and by bedtime I had a headache and was aching all over. The next day Jan had choir practice again and I spent most of my time in bed, reading and sleeping. I still had achey muscles and a headache off and on (it would go away after a nap then come back) but thankfully no temperature – I kept monitoring it since that was the one side effect that could have been harmful for baby. By day 2 I was fine, which was good because I was back at work then.

The weekend before my operation we decided to go somewhere since it would be the last time for a while. On the Saturday (which was sunny for a change!) Jan slept for basically the entire day so we ended up going to La Neuveville on the Sunday when it was pouring down again. It’s still a cute town even in the rain though.

Then it was operation time. I went into hospital on Friday, 24 September. Patients having the foetal surgery for spina bifida always go into hospital on a Friday and have the operation on a Monday. Friday was a full day. I had a COVID test – the first of four! They took blood, did an ECG and I was given the first of two corticosteroid shots to help the baby’s lungs mature in case something happened and she ended up having to be born early. I also had an ultrasound and the doctor explained to us exactly how both the operation and the subsequent C-section would work. Later an anaesthetist came by and I also met with someone from the neonatal unit who went through exactly what to expect at every stage, from if the baby needed to be taken out during the operation at 25 weeks and 4 days right up to the day of the planned C-section at 37 weeks exactly. It was a lot of information! The coordinator in the university hospital side also came by to introduce herself – we had already met her counterpart on the children’s hospital side when we came for the initial information meeting.

Sunday was the second lung maturity shot and an IV drip with magnesium for neuroprotection of the foetus – again in case she had to be taken out early. Then on the Monday it was operation time. There were two operations that day and I was going first so I was taken down at about 6 a.m. Jan met me downstairs on the labour and delivery ward where I had a CTG (cardiotocography – monitoring of the foetal heart tones, baby’s movements and any contractions – I had a lot of those done by the end of my pregnancy!) and was prepared for the move to the operating theatre. Then I had to say goodbye to Jan and it was off for the surgery. Everything went about as well as it possibly could have – as I was apparently informed two hours later when I woke up. I have no memory of that conversation but luckily it was repeated to me again several times ;-). For the next two days I was closely monitored in a high dependency bed. I didn’t get much sleep down there but all the members of staff looking after me were amazing! Then I was taken back up to the normal prenatal ward where I was to stay until two weeks after the operation. Initially I was in a two-bed room which I shared with the other person who had had the same operation on the same day. By that evening the bladder catheter had been removed and I was encouraged to stand up, then later of course had to walk to the toilet (the nurses helped me get up and lie back down until I felt able to do it myself!). And then it was already October so more on my recovery next time.

This has taken a while to write so it’s about time I got back to my family. Hopefully I’ll get to my next few monthly recaps soon, then finally be able to write the yearly one for 2021!

One month of Zyma

Yesterday our baby girl was one month old – on the same day my dad turned 60 – and today she had her one month appointment at the paediatrician followed by a visit from the midwife during which she had her first real bath. Up to now we had only been washing her with a cloth until the plaster came off her back and all the stitches were gone. The paediatrician was very pleased with her. She’s still at the bottom of the weight chart but she’s gaining steadily so that’s fine and she’s definitely getting enough to eat. Currently her favourite thing is mummy – or rather mummy’s boobies 😅. When she’s not guzzling mummy milk she’s still mostly sleeping. During the day at least! For a while after she came home night time was her alert time and she wanted to be fed every two hours (but would go 3-4 hours between feeds during the day). Things are turning around now and most nights she’ll only wake me for food 2-3 times. During the day she’s starting to be more alert and has even been awake and not demanding food long enough for us to read her a story. She’s already met a great uncle and cousin once removed from my side of the family and her aunt and grandma from Jan’s side. Soon my mam and brother are also coming to visit. It’s been so nice seeing people again and getting to introduce her to family! This last month has absolutely flown by but at the same time it’s hard to believe we’ve only had her for a month (on the outside). I won’t say I don’t remember what life was like without her – I most definitely remember sleep! But I’d be absolutely lost if she had to go back to hospital again so let’s hope her hip dysplasia harness works. Happy one month (and one day) birthday baby girl. We love you you very much!