When Little Man was born and they handed him to me for his first cuddle, one of the first things that really struck me was his hair. He had a pretty good head of hair for a newborn, but the thing that really surprised me was how wavy it was. I was convinced that when it grew longer he would have a head of lovely corkscrew curls.
For the first couple of months, debate raged about what colour his hair was. Blonde? Ginger? Strawberry blonde? There are several redheads in the family, who were pretty invested in the idea of him joining their number.
And then… The hair on one side of Little Man’s head started disappearing. Then the hair on the other side. And finally the hair on top. It’s now grown back to about it’s original thickness – but it’s much blonder, and straighter. It looks totally different, except for right at the nape of his neck, where there’s a little patch of wavy ginger hair still hanging on. See below for photos!
So… What the heck happened? Why was my baby’s hair falling out, and why did it grow back different? I love finding out about child and baby development, so I had to get a’Googling!
Why does babies’ hair fall out?
It’s totally normal for babies to lose all the hair they were born with, during the first six months. It’s thought that this is to do with changing hormones inside their body once they’re no longer sharing mum’s pregnancy hormones. In fact, baby’s hairloss may be caused by the same hormonal shift that causes post-partum hairloss for mum.
Baby’s hair falling out can also be affected by sleeping position, from the friction of baby’s head rubbing against mattresses etc. That’s probably why Little Man lost the hair on his right side first – he much prefers to sleep on that side.
How long before baby’s hair grows back?
Baby’s hair will grow back, but when that happens varies from child to child. Some babies have a full new head of hair by six months, while for others it can take until as late as three years old. For some babies, the hair grows back as it’s falling out, so you may not even notice much of a change.
Why does my baby’s hair look different now it’s grown back?
I haven’t been able to find the answer to this one! Lots of sites note that baby hair often grows back a different texture/colour/both, but are silent about why this happens. Do you know? Let me know in the comments!
It often occurs to me, when undertaking some random baby-related task, that being a parent comes with transferable skills that often go unrecognised. I’ve written before about the events I think that my baby could medal in at the Baby Olympics… But us parents have skills too. The kind of skills that can help you smash the glass ceiling. So my husband and I came up with this list of jobs that we think being a parent qualifies you for… Some of them may surprise you!
Jobs That Being A Parent Qualifies You For
Bomb Disposal Expert
Any parent who has tried to transfer a sleeping baby (a.k.a. potential explosive device) from their lap into a cot has developed an incredibly light touch, along with the ability to make difficult decisions under extreme pressure.
The number one skill required of a cat burglar? Sneaking around darkened rooms. This is also a key skill for parents, once they have transferred the aforementioned sleeping baby into its cot.
As being a parent is also very expensive, you can offset the ruinous cost of nursery fees, milk, nappies, and endless new sizes of clothes through your new career as an international jewel thief.
Snake Oil Salesman
Baby’s got teething trouble? Sing him the magic nursery rhyme, you know, the one that always cheers him up! Toddler fell over? Give that bruised knee a magic kiss to stop it hurting! Little one has a sad tummy? Quick, wave Mr Giraffe at him, that’ll cheer him up!
I mean, this one is obvious. Once you’re handed that beautiful little baby in hospital, it’s immediately time to become an expert in the clean-up and disposal of hazardous waste.
“That’s not a job!”, I hear you cry. Well, maybe not. But if Paul the Octopus managed to make a career out of it, then so can you. Ever found yourself holding the baby, and a cup of tea, and your phone, and mixing up a bottle of formula, and changing a nappy, all at the same time? Me neither. But I’ve had a bloody good try.
What other jobs do you think being a parent qualifies you for (if just being a parent wasn’t enough of a full time job)? Let me know in the comments!
Before Little Man was born, my lovely sister gave us a gift of an Ollie the Owl. If you’re not familiar with the strigiforme in question, it’s marketed as a ‘light and sound sleep aid’ for babies. It plays lullabies, white noise, or the sound of a heartbeat or running water, to help babies get to sleep, and it has a ‘cry sensor’ that puts the noise back on if they wake up or stir.
When we first tried Ollie (now known in our household as Mr Owl… What can I say, we’re very formal people), we were amazed at how well Little Man went to sleep with the sound on, in particular the white noise sound. Now, he’s a bedtime and naptime regular! But why do babies love white noise? And does it really help them sleep? I love finding out about child and baby development, so I had to get on Google.
Why Do Babies Love White Noise?
White Noise = Womb Noise
The general consensus seems to be that white noise mimics the kind of noise that babies hear in the womb. The uterus is actually a surprisingly noisy place for baby. A study found noise levels of 72 – 88 decibels in the womb, which is classed as “loud” by the American Academy of Audiology, and equivalent to the noise produced by alarm clocks, traffic or vacuum cleaners.
A lot of noise is produced by the mother’s heart, intestines and circulatory system, and the foetus can also hear external sounds as well. One study has even suggested that our early exposure to our mother’s bodily noises may be the root cause of our attraction to the sound of waves at the beach, as well as our innate sense of rhythm.
So when baby comes into the world, things suddenly get a lot quieter. White noise machines help to mimic that background noise of the womb, and help them to feel soothed.
Well, I’ve written about my experiences with hypermobility in pregnancy and birth, and again about how my pituitary tumour impacted my pregnancy and birth. So it seems logical to write about how my asthma impacted me as well, and complete the trilogy… How did pregnancy affect my asthma?
My Experience of Asthma in Pregnancy
But I’ve been in two minds about writing this post, because actually my asthma barely affected me at all! In fact I noticed a massive improvement in my asthma symptoms while I was pregnant. Normally they’re worst around June; my asthma seems to be particularly triggered by hayfever and then made worse by humid weather. Last year when I was pregnant, I spent the end of May in Japan at a family wedding, and when I got back I realised my asthma seemed much better than usual. Seems strange, huh?
Does pregnancy make asthma better or worse?
I spoke to my asthma nurse about this recently when I went for a review (she’s the best! Shout out to all the awesome asthma nurses out there). She said that roughly a third of people with asthma notice an improvement of their symptoms in pregnancy, a third notice a deterioration, and for the rest there’s no change. So I guess I was one of the lucky 33%. I felt so crap being pregnant anyway, I’m so glad I didn’t have to deal with my asthma playing up too.
Why does pregnancy affect my asthma?
Looking online, there are plenty of asthma sites which also advise that asthma may improve or worsen in pregnancy. But none of them seem to explain why. I assume it’s the usual “pregnancy hormones” explanation, which is so vague as to be no explanation at all. So I’m awarding a gold star to any health professional who can let me know in the comments below why specifically it is that asthma is so variable in pregnancy!
Does asthma affect you when giving birth?
I also didn’t find that my asthma affected the birthing process, fortunately. As I have exercise-induced asthma, I did wonder whether labour could trigger my asthma at all. I took my inhalers to the hospital with me (make sure you have spares in your hospital bag just in case!). But luckily, I didn’t need them during the birth.
In fact, apparently asthma attacks during labour are very rare, which is believed to be because of the natural steroids that your body produces during labour. The Asthma UK website has more information about asthma and birth, which may also reassure you.
What were your experiences of asthma during pregnancy and birth? Let me know in the comments!
When I found out I was pregnant and worked out when my maternity leave would be, I was super excited. And not just about the baby. While on maternity leave there would be an Olympics and the Euros, two major sporting events that I normally only get to watch bits of, and I would get to watch it all – or, you know, have it on in the background while wrangling a small baby.
And then – coronavirus! Which has conspired to ruin literally every plan I had for my maternity leave, including the more minor plans regarding televisual entertainment (although in fairness, BT also had a good stab at ruining those plans before coronavirus even really arrived on these shores).
Coupled with this, over the last six to eight weeks or so, Little Man has gone from a baby who often fusses with a bad tummy, to a Mega Fuss Machine 3.0, who is just so grumpy and fussy that it’s basically impossible to follow anything happening on TV when he’s in the room. Even when he’s in a good mood he now just shrieks. Apparently, he enjoys shrieking. So, given that he’s also not sleeping well, we are really struggling to watch anything other than nature documentaries. And, honestly, if you can’t actually hear the dulcet tones of Sir David Attenborough, is it even worth it?
So – how to survive lockdown with a baby?
Well, recently the Bundesliga returned! Actual real-life football, the perfect entertainment for looking after a grumpy baby, where you don’t need to hear the commentary to follow the plot. Except, obviously, we couldn’t watch it because the days of football betting available on terrestrial TV are long since gone.
So, we’ve cracked and got a subscription to BT Sport, and I’m now rapidly becoming aquatinted with the various teams and players of the Bundesliga. Thank God we have something we can watch (but not hear) while endlessly bouncing the wee man on one knee. It’s the perfect solution for lockdown with a baby.
I’ve already written about my experience of hypermobility and pregnancy (and birth!), so it feels like time to write about my experience with my pituitary tumour (pituitary adenoma).
My Experience of Pituitary Tumour And Pregnancy
Before trying for a baby
My husband and I went to talk to my endocrinologists about the possibility of trying for a baby over a year before we actually wanted to start trying (we had a wedding in between!). And it was just as well we did, because there was a lot of planning involved…
At the time, I was taking a medication called Somatuline Autogel (lanreotide) for my pituitary adenoma. There’s no data on its safeness (or otherwise) in pregnancy, and in fact it isn’t even technically licensed for my condition. I have a pituitary tumour which produces thyroid stimulating hormone (TSHoma), and they’re so rare that there actually isn’t any medication licensed for the condition. However, I’ve taken lanreotide on-and-off for nearly ten years, and fortunately it always worked well to control my symptoms.
But because it’s not known how safe lanreotide is in pregnancy, my doctors were keen to see whether I could manage without the medication during a pregnancy – or whether my thyroid levels would start going up again. So I agreed to do a trial period off the medication. All went well for a couple of months, and then I could feel my symptoms coming back, and blood tests confirmed that my thyroid levels had risen again. So, a new plan was needed.
My doctors then suggested trying cabergoline, a drug that’s used for a different kind of pituitary adenoma called a prolactinoma. They estimated to me that, based on their previous experience, there was about a one in five chance of it working for my tumour as well. And although cabergoline is not licensed for use in pregnancy, there have been more case studies etc. of women using it in pregnancy, so my endocrinologists thought it would be a better bet than lanreotide… If it worked for me.
So I have it a go… And it worked! To my surprise, it was just as good as lanreotide, if not better because it’s much more convenient. With cabergoline, I take two tablets per week (weird schedule, I know), whereas with the Somatuline Autogel it was an injection once a month which my husband had to do, and we had to keep the injections refrigerated beforehand. Plus, with Somatuline, because it messes with the function of your gallbladder, I had to eat an extremely low fat diet for 5 days out of each month, which could be a real pain when we were out and about. So not having to do that was a real bonus!
During the course of my pregnancy, I had to have blood tests once a month to check on my thyroid levels. Fortunately, they were well controlled throughout the whole time. I also had some bonus hospital visits so my endocrinologists could check up on other symptoms. Because the pituitary naturally enlarges during pregnancy, they like to check up on your visual fields to ensure that between that and the tumour, it’s not putting pressure on your optic nerve.
Planning for Breastfeeding
I really wanted to try breastfeeding, but being on cabergoline meant that could be tricky. Cabergoline inhibits the production of prolactin – the hormone that stimulates the production of breastmilk. My doctors recommended that I stop taking cabergoline six weeks before my due date, to give myself the best chance of breastfeeding, as the drug takes about four weeks to leave your system. Hopefully I would then be able to breastfeed for a couple of months before my symptoms returned and I had to go back on the medication.
So, I duly stopped taking cabergoline at 34 weeks… And then Little Man showed up at 37 weeks, rather earlier than expected! Breastfeeding didn’t work out for us. Although I made colostrum, my milk never came in, and it’s not clear whether it’s because the cabergoline wasn’t out of my system yet, or the stress and separation when Little Man ended up in intensive care for several days.
Planning for the Birth with a Pituitary Tumour
With regards to the birth, my endocrinologists were confident I could have a normal birth. Because the pituitary is involved in producing the hormones that kickstart childbirth, I did ask whether there was any reason to think that I might be less likely to go into labour naturally. But the doctors said that there was no evidence that women with pituitary tumours are more likely to need inductions.
The doctors did specifically write in my notes that I was allowed to have an epidural, as they said sometimes people can mistakenly think it’s not allowed after having transsphenoidal pituitary surgery. They also advised that there should be steroids on hand, to be administered if I experienced any unexplained low blood pressure, in which case an adrenal crisis should be suspected. Fortunately it wasn’t needed.
What advice do I have for other women with a pituitary tumour who are trying for children?
After two transsphenoidal pituitary surgeries, there was always a risk that the function of my pituitary gland had been damaged by the surgery and I might find it difficult to conceive. Fortunately we were very lucky and I was able to get pregnant. Because we knew it might take a while, we planned a long time ahead, and I’d definitely recommend talking to your endocrine team to work out a plan of action well in advance of when you want to start trying to conceive.
Trying me on/ off various treatments took over a year from when we first discussed it, due to delays from the hospital’s administration and us deciding to go back on my regular medication for the three month period of our wedding and honeymoon, to make sure I felt well for it. If we had been actively wanting to start trying for a baby, that would have felt incredibly frustrating and slow. It was frustrating enough even when we knew we didn’t want to start trying until after the wedding!
Do you have any experience of pregnancy and birth with a pituitary tumour which you can share? Let me know in the comments!
One of my favourite things at the moment is Little Man’s conversations with my husband. Little Man is a mega chatty four month old, who loves making as much noise as possible. He loves “talking” with you, and often when he’s having a long chat/noisemaking session with his dad, my husband will “translate” his half of the conversation… And make it sound like he’s been up to the craziest adventures (fun adventures, not the rubbish keeping-you-up-all-night kind). Something like this:
Little Man: *gurgles*
Martin: You robbed a supermarket? What did you steal?
Little Man: *squeals*
Martin: You stole all the formula milk? Why did you do that?
Little Man: *makes a loud shrieking noise, farts*
Martin: Well, I know you love milk, but where are we going to store it all?
…And so on. According to my husband, the little chap has been on some very outlandish adventures, including a trip on rockets into space, a run-in with a pigeon which he threw his dirty nappy at, and a ride on a donkey made of springs. I honestly don’t know where he gets it all from, but baby loves it! Especially because listening to it makes me laugh, so we’re all just sat together giggling away and Little Man gets more and more excited (and consequently louder and louder) as the story gets more ridiculous.
It’s great fun and highly recommended. There’s plenty of advice out there for parents that emphasizes how important it is to talk to your baby, as an essential part of their language learning and development, but it can get a little boring when you’ve narrated your entire morning or told them for the five hundredth time that they’re the cutest little bubba in the world. This is much more entertaining, and it will let them enjoy being the centre of attention as well.
So as regular readers will know, Little Man has been having a lot of tummy trouble recently, and it’s just been getting worse. He’s really windy but struggles to get the wind out, and it’s been keeping him up at night and waking him up regularly when he does manage to sleep. He’s also had a bit of constipation, despite our efforts to keep him well hydrated. We’ve tried everything we can think of – changing his formula, using infant colic drops, making sure to burp him and wind him regularly, etc etc. But nothing seems to make much of a difference.
As a result, it’s been a tough few weeks, especially combined with his teething issues. Little Man has gone from sleeping through til about 3/4am and then having a slightly fitful sleep after that, to more or less having a fitful sleep through the whole night. Some nights I’ve been up with him much more often than every hour. So he’s been super grumpy, and to be honest, so have I!
So we went to the doctor’s and they recommended changing formula. As we’d already changed formula once, they suggested trying a lactose-free formula. Apparently if it does work, it doesn’t necessarily mean that Little Man is lactose intolerant, but the change might be helpful for him. I guess a lactose free formula is about as big a change as you can have!
So we’re crossing our fingers a) that it works, and b) that he’s not actually got a lactose intolerance! Apparently some babies develop temporary lactose intolerance after tummy upsets or if they were born prematurely, and it can be something they grow out of. Little Man did have some issues with some kind of tummy bug which really upset his stomach a while ago, so it’s not impossible that this could have caused a temporary intolerance which just hasn’t settled yet. I’ll keep you updated on our progress and how he gets on with his lactose free formula!
I have long complained to my husband about the fact that ladies’ clothes so rarely have pockets, or – even more annoyingly – have fake pockets with zips or buttons that make you think there is practical storage available, but in fact has no actual pocket space.
So imagine my outrage recently when Little Man graduated from Newborn size clothes into 0 – 3 Months size (he’s still a dinky little chap!) and I realised that several of his new outfits included pockets. Not fake just-for-fashionable-purposes pockets. ACTUAL POCKETS. The people who design clothes, and apparently refuse to believe that adult females have any possessions they might want to store on their person, have simultaneously decided that my baby son – who is too young to understand the concept of ownership – might be in need of functioning pockets. What is wrong with these people?!
So of course this got me thinking about some other ludicrous decision-making that has gone into the baby clothes we own, and which I now screen all clothes for prior to purchasing…
Baby Clothes Nonsense
On the face of it, this is a smart idea. We were gifted a really cute babygrow which had elasticated ankles, to ensure that baby’s feet stay at the bottom of the trousers
Except when we went to dress Little Man, we discovered that the elastic was so tight that we couldn’t actually get his feet in there (and if we had, presumably it would have totally cut off the blood supply to his legs).
Eventually the problem was resolved and the suit rendered useable by my husband breaking the elastic. This does, however, rather defeat the object of having it there in the first place. Consequently I’m now avoiding suits with elasticated ankles like the plate.
Ten Thousand Tiny Buttons
I mean, does this really need explaining? I often struggle with baby clothes that have a lot of poppers, especially at night because my hands often get a bit stiff and clumsy thanks to my rubbish joints. But when I discovered that some of our baby clothes have, instead of poppers, teeny tiny fiddly little buttons instead, I just had one question for the manufacturers: what the hell were you thinking? Those clothes have to be unfastened and refastened every time bubba needs a nappy change or just vomits all over himself. So seriously what the hell were you thinking?
Zippers are the future, incidentally.
The Blue / Pink / White / Grey Options
This deserves a blog post on its own, but – oh my god. The absolute BORING VOID OF BLAND GENDER NORMS that is most children’s clothing. I have a boy baby. But I don’t want to dress him in blue, blue, blue – or if I’m feeling racy, perhaps white or grey. THERE ARE OTHER COLOURS, PEOPLE. Whether I had a boy or girl I knew I wanted to dress them in lovely bright colours – red! Orange! Yellow! Green! Purple! So why is it so difficult to find nice jolly baby clothes that aren’t from some wildly expensive online boutique? Honestly I think baby clothes designers need to sit down, read some gender swapped books, and challenge their preconceptions that boys must wear blue and girls must wear pink and never the two shall meet.
Moreover: why are white clothes so popular, when they’re the clothing choice most difficult to clean up as good as new after a poo explosion?
Inconsistent unfastening design
This one was suggested by my husband, and I totally agree with him. There are so many variants of how baby clothes are fastened, and often if you buy multi packs, you have no idea what the fastening scheme is until you get the clothes home. Which means you have no idea whether you are buying something that’s going to drive you insane every time you change a nappy. If only there were a couple of set designs and you could clearly identify them beforehand, it would help avoid those awkward clothes that look cute but require ten minutes of wrestling to actually get the baby into.
Your experience of baby clothes nonsense…
What baby clothes nonsense have you experienced? Let me know in the comments!
After having a baby, you expect to have a tummy and some weight to lose. That much is expected! But there’s so much weird body stuff that lingers after pregnancy that I didn’t really know about. I suppose that other than the weight, possible stretch marks, and any scars from c-sections or episiotomy etc., I assumed everything else would go back to normal. Oh, how wrong I was!
And even though some of it is minor in the grand scheme of things, I think it’s still okay to find it difficult that your body has changed in ways you weren’t expecting. So, I thought I’d write about it…
Post-Partum Body Bullshit: Weird Stuff Your Body Does After Pregnancy
This one is the worst! I have had issues with hair loss for over ten years, thanks to my pituitary issues. For the last four years or so, since my symptoms have mostly been under control with medication, my hair has been growing back slowly, although it’s still a bit patchy in places. But when I was pregnant, my hair improved so much! It got thick and shiny and generally great. In fact it was pretty much the only good thing about being pregnant (other than getting the baby at the end, obviously!)
Hair tends to get thicker during pregnancy, but not because you’re growing more hair – actually, it’s because it’s falling out less. Strange but true. Of course, what that means is that sooner or later, your scalp needs to catch up on all the hair it would normally have lost during those nine months of pregnancy. Enter post-partum hair loss, which normally kicks in about three months after giving birth.
Even though I know it’s totally normal, I’m still finding it a bit stressful to be pulling handfuls of hair out of my hairbrush on a regular basis. It just takes me back to when my own hair loss was really really bad before my tumor was diagnosed, which was a horrible, stressful time.
Annoyingly, my amazing pregnancy lips, which to be fair also looked great and incredibly plump during pregnancy, vanished almost as soon as Little Man was out! Now I’m back to relying on lipstick again…
Moles and Skin Tags
I’ve always had a lot of moles and freckles, but when I got pregnant they went into overdrive! New moles and skin tags appeared everywhere, often seemingly overnight, and they’re still here four months after having had the baby. They particularly seem to have arisen on my chest, back, and belly. Existing moles have also grown, and in some cases turned kind of scaly (ew, sorry).
The development of moles and skin tags in pregnancy is associated with all the oestrogen sloshing around your body. I’ve had my moles checked over by a doctor and she’s said that the changes appear normal and nothing to worry about. But I can’t help but be unimpressed with this new weird bobbly skin.
Weird Tan Lines
So there’s a thing that happens in pregnancy called the linea nigra, a dark line of hyperpigmented skin that runs down your belly. Typically it shows up around the second trimester, caused by pregnancy hormones oestrogen and progesterone, which stimulate the production of melanin in your skin. You may also notice skin darkening on your face and elsewhere as a result of the same process.
When you read about linea nigra online, most sites say it should disappear a few months after delivery. Well, I’m four months out and mine hasn’t faded a bit despite not getting any sunshine. And there doesn’t seem to be much consensus on what to expect, because some other sites say that the line may take a year to fade – or never go away at all.
As well as my linea nigra, I seem to have developed a patch of unpigmented skin on the right hand side of my belly. I’m quite pale so it’s not super noticeable, but it’s big enough that you can see it if you look for it. I haven’t found anything online that suggests that this is a thing which happens with pregnancy, but it definitely wasn’t there before!
What weird post-partum side effects have you had? Let me know in the comments!