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.

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 ⭐🌟.

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…

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!

August 2021 recap

Hello! Baby girl has gone to the hospital* with her daddy today so I’m taking advantage of the free time to sort out some things – including blog posts. (*Nothing to worry about. She has hip dysplasia – probably unrelated to her spina bifida – and today the doctors are doing an ultrasound and checking whether the harness they gave her is doing its job. If the harness works she won’t have to go into hospital for a few weeks for a different treatment so keep your fingers crossed!).

You’re probably wondering why I’m even bothering to recap August now considering how much time has passed. I like to have these posts to look back on so I wanted to write one before I forget everything entirely!

Last year, everything we did in the month of August ended up being slightly overshadowed by baby’s diagnosis. We found out she had spina bifida at my anatomy scan on 10 August – three days before my birthday. Happy birthday to me, right? We did still celebrate with a meal at a restaurant round the corner from us that we’ve been meaning to try since we moved to Basel. It was very nice. The staff were wonderful, replacing several things on the set menu so they were safe for pregnancy. I also got my first COVID vaccination the day after my birthday. At that time you needed a doctor’s certificate to get it during pregnancy and every single doctor I spoke to had highly recommended getting it done so I did. My only side effect that time was a sore arm that lasted for 3 days!

During the weeks following the diagnosis we had a lot of appointments. First I went back to the hospital in Basel for an amniocentesis (for those who don’t know they use a long needle to remove amniotic fluid from your uterus) to make sure there wasn’t any genetic reason for the spina bifida. As it turned out there was not. I then had another ultrasound to try and narrow down where exactly the defect was and we met with a neurologist from the children’s hospital in Basel. At the initial ultrasound where the spina bifida was discovered we had been informed about the option of open fetal surgery – in other words and operation to repair the defect before birth. It turns out Zurich is the European leader for this operation so we went there to find out more information. First I had to have another, extremely detailed, ultrasound then I had an MRI. The next day we went back to Zurich and met with the head surgeon from the spina bifida team, who by that time had seen the results of the ultrasound and MRI. He took a lot of time to explain everything to us and, as you obviously know by now, we decided to take the option of the fetal operation.

When we weren’t running round to appointments we managed to fit in a few day trips in August. Jan drove me to the vaccination centre for my COVID vaccination so since we had a car anyway we decided to go somewhere. We chose Altdorf, capital of the canton of Uri and best known as the place where, according to legend, William Tell shot an apple off his son’s head. I forgot to take my camera so I don’t have any photos.

Earlier in the month we went to Bremgarten, which is in Aargau. It’s a beautiful medieval town and for once the sun actually came out (a rarity in summer 2021!) so we had a really nice walk around the town and along the river. On the way home we stopped in Küssnacht where we played a round of mini golf – which I amazingly won – and then had dinner at a restaurant by the lake.

I also cross stitched some cards in August for September birthdays. My brother’s and my godson’s.

I read a grand total of four books in August – not really my best month. One of them was long though. You can see which ones they were here.

Apart from that I can’t actually remember what I did so I’ll leave this here since I still have some other things to sort out.

Hello baby!

I have a few minutes while waiting for the midwife so I thought I would quickly post.

Jan and I have a daughter! Born 16 December 2021 via planned c-section. Despite being hospitalised on 9th November with too little amniotic fluid I actually made it to 37 weeks. She was on oxygen after birth but that was removed fairly quickly and now she’s doing really well other than some problems maintaining her temperature. Yesterday she was transferred to the children’s hospital and today is the start of a stressful time for her with lots of tests to find out how the spina bifida will affect her. We are completely in love with her and couldn’t be happier.

For blogging purposes her name shall be Zyma (Ukrainian for winter).