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one month

Life, — February 2013

Camilla made Pavlova to celebrate Australia Day, Madeleine visiting and Rosalind's birthday, and that went down a treat. And Helen slept peacefully through the whole event.


a sleeping dragon?

If Helen had waited till her due date she'd be a snake, but by coming early she made herself into a dragon. We're thinking of the Chinese name Mei Long, or 寐龍, from the name of the dinosaur Mei long, a duck-sized troodontid. This means something like "sleeping dragon". But my cousin Doug and Camilla's friend Janice tell us that the word for dragon long is quite masculine - it's in the names of Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan, for example, and that this would be rather unconventional.

Managed to get a not-too-terrible photo of Helen for her applications for Australian citizenship and a passport. Trying to get her front-on with her mouth shut but her eyes open was something of a challenge - and of course the very best photo was the one in which she coughed up a bit of milk - but the photographer had clearly had some experience with babies, even if his online portfolio is more transport oriented.

Camilla has got the hang of the sling now, and that's a lot easier than the pram. So Helen got her first trip to the Ashmolean, where we visited the Egyptian galleries and I tried to explain to her that "mummy" isn't a proper noun, without much success.


first home weighing

Helen's food processing is improving: she's pooping once a day now, instead of every few hours, she can latch on very effectively, and she can drink 80ml of milk in one hit. (Scaled up, that's the equivalent of me drinking two litres.) And she's up to 3.25kg, so that's clearly having some effect.

Unfortunately the little monster has gone nocturnal on us: sleeps soundly during the day but won't settle at night. It doesn't help that it's so gloomy outside - cold, wet, no sign of the sun - but we need to help her get a normal circadian rhythm going. So low-intensity reddish lighting at night and bright white lighting during the day.

Camilla's brother Daniel is in town, and we're doing steamboat today to celebrate Chinese New Year.


  1. Lovely photos and good sleep article, without the usual 'answers'. It would have been helpfully reassuring when you were a baby.
    Baby slings are a blessing.

    Comment by Vera Yee — February 2013
  2. Reddish light is supposed to be more stimulating than greenish light, for some reason -- if you have a look in that Penelope Leach book I gave you, there's something about it there I think. Having said that, I find greenish light annoying so I've always just used the gro-egg as a night light.

    Everyone always says to turn down lights etc in the evening, but I find it kind of condescending, it's so obvious and people do it anyway -- what sane person wants to be playing peekaboo at 2am if they don't have to? Sometimes you really can't help it, but most of the time, we all just want to get on with normal lives.

    I've never really had a 'night baby' in the sense of sleeping a lot at the wrong time of day -- mine just didn't sleep well, full stop -- but I did find that on the whole, being outside and in populated places during the day was important. It allowed him to engage in the world around him, looking at people in a cafe, at the shops, on the street, and it allowed him to feel the distinction when we're alone in a dim, quiet room at home. From about 6 weeks, going to baby groups was also fantastic.

    Good luck -- it *will* get better!

    Comment by Tanya — February 2013
  3. Bluer lights (around 6000K) more closely match daylight and redder ones (say 2700K) dawn/evening/night light, so blue light at night is much more disruptive of circadian rhythms than red light. (If you visit a "night" enclosure in a zoo they have redder lights, and if you're going spotlighting for wildlife and don't want to startle the animals then the advice is to put red filters on your torches.)

    I'm not sure how this corresponds to "stimulating", but I'm not sure Leach is a reliable source on this. A good popular account is Foster and Kreitzman, Rhythms of Life

    Comment by danny — February 2013
  4. I always thought that too, but for some reason the "green light" meme definitely hangs around the baby books. As I said, I never tried it, I like my light to be warm in any case. Hope the nights get better for you soon.

    Comment by Tanya — February 2013
  5. Here's something interesting about red light and night vision: http://stlplaces.com/night_vision_red_myth/ I don't think this is what they mean about the baby becoming stimulated by red light (that has more to do with the idea that red is stimulating as a colour), but it's an interesting read.

    Comment by Tanya — February 2013
  6. The guy there is concerned about how fast he'll get his night vision back after turning a light source on and then off again, though, not about about screwing up his circadian rhythms. I wish I had the Foster and Kreitzman handy, but my copy is in Sydney. Wikipedia has this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Light_effects_on_circadian_rhythm and the abstract of the Warman article that references is:

    "The aim of the present study was to assess the ability of short wavelength light to alter the timing of circadian rhythms. Eleven male subjects were studied in 15 4-day trials with a single 4 h light pulse administered on day 3, immediately after habitual wake time. The magnitude of the phase shifts in the melatonin acrophase and offset were similar after white (4300 μW/cm2) and short wavelength (28 μW/cm2) light exposure even though the white light pulse contained 185-fold more photons than the short wavelength light. This finding suggests short wavelength sensitivity of the photoreceptors mediating synchronization of human circadian rhythms."

    Comment by danny — February 2013
  7. This is good too -- http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10341380 Although with a sample size of 1, it's a bit of a funny study, but still interesting.

    The thing is of course that Helen is getting precisely the sleep she wants and needs, and it's you guys who bear the brunt of the sleep deprivation, espcecially if stuck in the express-feed-express-feed cycle. I found one of the hardest things was letting go of the scientist within and trusting the baby to feed on demand, even if this initially feels like a step backwards. It makes life soooo much easier in the long (and medium) term.

    Comment by Tanya — February 2013
  8. This one covers preterm vs term infants and concludes that circ. rhythm establishes around 45 weeks post-conception, ie about a month "corrected" age: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10522524 But this is just the ability to distinguish night and day -- it doesn't mean that they don't wake at night, just means they aren't likely to be up and playing at 3am.

    Comment by Tanya — February 2013
  9. She looks a very bouncy bundle. That new-born infant scent must have gone by now.

    How did people manage sunlight, the lack of, and vitamin deficiency associated with it in the old days? A good dose of Australian sun is what is needed. A home-coming visit is now a little more expensive and involved. It would take more forward planning.

    Forget all the mumble jumble about sleeping patterns. Trust your own instinct and that of the baby's. Let babies be babies.

    Comment by DL — February 2013
  10. Hello, I am here and hello random weird comments.
    The one and only object you are talking about.
    Now there are two weeks and five days until I am ten!!!!

    Comment by Helen, the one you are talking about — December 2022

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