The Teething Saga

It’s 2:10pm and I’m sitting in my living room on my laptop, sipping a cold drink with my gorgeous daughter asleep in her swing with a soft lullaby playing. This is not an accurate picture of parenting. An accurate picturing of parenting for me is 2am, top soaked in sick and milk, a crying baby who doesn’t want to be put down and a dirty nappy on the side. At least that’s the accurate parenting picture of me at the moment.

Even as I just finish writing that paragraph, my daughter bursts into tears.

It’s been pretty rough the last few months. My daughter cluster fed for a few days and then slept most of the day away after that and that was the growth spurt. Then a clear sailing day. Then teething.

It is now 2:25pm and after a nappy change, I am now typing this one handed as I breastfeed my 7 week 6 day old child.

Teething is horrible. It’s having a migraine and a hangover while someone repeatedly yells high pitch noises at you and you’re the only one who can stop it. Horrible. My partner went to Boots once it started and asked what can you give for teething to a 6 week old and the man sold him some powders and yells, got home for me to read they’re all recommended for 3 month old babies. For a week we had this teething stuff in the house we avoided using until we couldn’t take it anymore and ended up using the gel on her. It soothed it. For a week we tentatively used the gel when we just couldn’t stand her being in pain. I ended up going back to the shop and rather than ask, I looked at the packets to find there are powders for one month and above… It was a game changer.

I was pretty pissed though as she suffered an extra week because they wanted more money (because figures everything they sold my partner was the expensive stuff). When she woke up this morning, she was congested and seemed like she had a cold so we skipped the library group. My dad says thats a good sign that the worst of the teething (for the moment) is over. Here’s hoping.

Teething though is a pretty frustrating time and it means a lot of sleepless nights. I do the night shift as my partners working but when you’re on only 4 hours sleep in almost 50 hours, things begin to get to you. The crying for instance. In the last week there have been 3 nights where I have sat over my daughter, crying, saying I can’t do it any more. The first night it happened, I got a bit of sleep the next day and it seemed okay. Next time it happened, again I got some sleep and I felt better when I woke up but despite being on more sleep I just began to feel lousier and lousier as the day went on. She’s still my daughter, I will protect her and that’s why I keep repeating this sentence: “I love her, I do. I want what’s best for her and that’s not me.” I said my partner should move back to his family and they can help him look after her.

I haven’t looked into postnatal depression or even postnatal anxiety like my health visitor thinks I have. I know I’m probably beginning to develop it. I don’t know what I’ll do if I am.

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Purple hair and a growth spurt.

My partner doesn’t like my dad. Never really mentioned this in previous posts but he’s never really liked him. It’s been getting worse though recently. My dad is pretty petty. An example is that I came home having forgot the bread he asked for, I sincerely apologised but he still had to make nasty comments about it and then gave me silent treatment for a bit before going out to pick my brother up and then when he came back, everything was better. I later explained to him that I forgot because my daughter was crying due to reflux and being hungry and the only way I could settle her was walking and bouncing the pram. He told me “not to use her as an excuse”. Don’t need an excuse, that’s what happened.

The next day we were going on a walk again and asked if he wanted anything. He started on about the bread again and I said “I’ll get you the bloody bread and hit you with it just for principal”. Before I left I said to him: “seriously though, do you want anything?” And he said no. It’s pretty obvious where this is going. When I got back, he asked where the bread is.

I think one of the worst things he’s done recently is comparing the fact I was struggling as when he was 22 he had 3 kids to look after. Firstly, only one was his and a newborn and the other two were his step kids. Secondly, you can’t compare situations like that. Thirdly, why did he have to make me feel so bad? I struggle with one but he can cope with three. Makes me feel shit.

My partner avoids him, if he can. I’ve begun to avoid him. My daughter is going through the 3-6 week growth spurt marked by being more fussy, less sleep, eating more and just generally being different from herself. I spent all night awake last night (except about an hour at about 6am until 7am) feeding her as she kept coming off, crying partly due to reflux and partly just fussy. The reflux means she needs gaviscon (a kind of antacid) and you can give it through a little medicine injector straight into their mouth but I know she’ll spit it out so we mix it in expressed milk. I came down stairs to get some of the expressed milk at about 10am and I usually, if I need to do something, give my daughter to my dad and do it but he was making tea (so boiling water) and dealing with my brother’s uniform and other stuff and she was very fussy, so I decided just to struggle one handed.

My dad then made a comment about how I usually get him to hold her and I said “you were making tea, with boiling water!” and honestly, I was tired and just annoyed and rather than feed her the milk downstairs like I usually would do, I just went off upstairs.

I think my biggest source of stress isn’t my month old baby but my dad. He likes to put me down, make me feel bad, use the silent treatment on me. Honestly, I’m pretty sure this is why I’m depressed. Also would bet that’s why my partner is depressed.

Add my depression to my current body issues and has my daughter got some fucked up parents? Due to breastfeeding I’ve currently hit DD boobs. Awesome. Also gone down to an 8-1o UK size waist (tend to have to get 10-12 though due to my boobs). I actually haven’t got stretch marks really from pregnancy but I’m feeling so down about my body, as far as I’m concerned, I’m fat and ugly and so to cheer myself up, my partner dyed my hair purple and it came out amazing if I do say so myself. My brother liked it. My dad just shrugged… He’s always one for the confident boosters. We’re still looking to move and we really want to be out by Christmas but it isn’t looking like that’ll happen any time soon.

Bipolar Disorder: Stress, Cortisol, Prevention

Genetic predispositions to emotional and mental health disorders are the real deal. But a predisposition doesn’t equate to a future diagnosis.

It’s often a matter of side-stepping a disorder by making environmental adjustments.

Here’s an example. An infant may come into this world with a genetic predisposition to alcohol abuse and dependence. However, if she/he never drinks a drop (the environmental adjustment), the disorder won’t present.

It’s no big surprise – genetic predisposition is a factor in the development (I didn’t say diagnosis) of bipolar disorder. A Canadian research team has come up with one such predisposition.

Theirs is the first study to show that elevated cortisol levels are much easier to come by for a child of even just one bipolar parent (vs. a child with neither parent bipolar).

These over-the-top cortisol levels manifested as a result of an environmental factor – exposure to typical childhood life-stressors. So you could say that these children are genetically predisposed to poor stress coping abilities – as well as bipolar disorder.

(Incidentally, research tells us that children who have just one parent with bipolar disorder are four times more likely to develop a mood disorder. That could be bipolar disorder or unipolar depression.)

Interestingly enough, the research team had already determined that cortisol levels of children with a bipolar parent ran higher than non-bipolar-parent children.

They did more work with these very same children – measuring cortisol levels during chronic and one-time stress episodes. And they found reactionary cortisol levels were unusually high, as well.

So it’s a matter of a biological sensitivity to stress, and the subsequent cortisol spike. And that may well explain why these children develop a mood disorder(s).

No matter how you cut it, the stress/cortisol issue is a major indicator of future illness.

Prevention

According to the study’s senior author Mark Ellenbogen…

“We believe this sensitivity develops during childhood and our suspicion is that if you could teach both parents and their offspring on how to cope with stress, how to deal with problems before they turn into larger significant stressors and difficulties, this would have a profound impact.”

Makes sense to me. So what can you do to keep your child’s (and your) stress – cortisol – levels under management? Here’s a short list…

  • Consider Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Maintain a healthy diet, to include sufficient protein intake
  • Minimize the ingestion of sugars
  • Minimize (avoid) caffeine intake
  • Consider anti-stress supplements (B vitamins, Vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, etc.)
  • Exercise
  • Get enough sleep
  • Grab a massage
  • Meditate
  • Laugh
  • Okay, for adults only – safe and responsible sexual intercourse is really helpful

That’s All Folks!