Saturday, 31 December 2011

2011: My best year yet

Even if nothing else had happened the year my beautifuldaughter was born was always going to be a pretty amazing one. Other wonderful things were having a goodpregnancy, buying my first house with my lovely partner, getting theopportunity to do my ideal job and my family and friends being generallyhealthy and incredibly supportive to me.
And to top it off last week I won the lottery. A whole £10!

I’m going to have to try pretty hard to make 2012 beatit. It’s a challenge I’m looking forwardto.

Happy New Year

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Quickly Kid-Proof Your House for Christmas | Gizmodo UK

Quickly Kid-Proof Your House for Christmas | Gizmodo UK:

'via Blog this'

A confession

I'm a bad mum when I'm tired:

I'm more likely to sit Baby M in front of baby tv so I can have caffeine and food.
I spend less time playing and interacting with her.
At night I'm more likely to delay feeding her when she is starting to stir (this usually backfires and results in less sleep).
I'm likely to stay in all day rather than go somewhere stimulating.
I have less patience and I find myself getting annoyed with Baby M when she crys even though I know she is only doing it because she is in pain or she wants something.
And I consider giving up breastfeeding so I can leave Baby M for a night and get sleep (although I would hate giving up breastfeeding, and I haven't managed to spend more than a few hours away from Baby M since she was born because I miss her too much)

I'm also a bad partner when I'm tired:
I snap and get easily irritated, especially when I don't feel I'm being supported (like right now when I can hear J watching tv while I'm trying to settle an unhappy baby).
I hand Baby M over because I need a break and then take her back quickly (and get annoyed) because J isn't managing to settle her due to having less practice.
I won't get around to housework or cooking
I don't care that J is tired too and has to go to work all day where he has no options of naps.
I try and share the misery: I have been known to wake J up when I've been up half the night.

J is generally a brilliant Dad and supportive partner.  He helps out a lot, but on work days his sleep is a priority.
Baby M is usually a good baby and I usually get enough sleep.

I know I need to have the inner strength to keep calm and patient when I am over tired.  I know a lot of things, but knowledge alone is useless without action.

Tonight I promise I: will raid my stash of chocolate, count to 10, try not to judge and I will make an effort.

In return please can I get at least 6 hours sleep?
Baby M asleep.  I wish she was right now

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Time for bed

Last night (or more accurately this morning) Baby M decided she would be awake between 1 and 5 am. She was either 'talking' to me loudly, crying or feeding.
Tonight I'm going to bed early.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Products I love by a breastfeeding new mum

I have been really lucky to be given lots of really useful things by my friends and family (many second hand). This has meant I have been able to spend my money on luxuries I might not have been able to afford. I hate wasting my money on things that don't work or aren't needed so I thought I would share what I have found useful*. For each great product below there are several items I should have left in the shop.

Lansinoh Lanolin (aka the expensive purple tube).
I have tried using a few similar products but none of them have compared with this. Applied liberally after nursing it keeps my nipples soft meaning they are less likely to crack or be sore. I still had cracked and bleeding nipples in the early days, but this magical stuff has helped hugely. My first tube lasted about 6 weeks and I was applying it several times each day
Top tip: it can be hard to get out of the tube, so I sit on it while nursing. This melts it a bit and makes it squeeze out easily.

yes my room is a state. I don't care
I've never been one for PJs as I get too hot and uncomfortable in bed, but as it's winter I need something to keep my arms warm during night feeds. I bought a Cyberjammies nightshirt from (sign up to receive their emails and they often send out discounts of 20 to 30%).
I leave the shirt slightly unbuttoned to allow for quick boob access. It keeps me warm and it's long enough so I can answer the door to the postman without flashing him. I'm going to have to buy some more as I manage a maximum of 2 nights before it gets covered in regurgitated milk.

I suspect any type of comforter would do the same job, but I love our cuski. I slept with it for a couple of nights and now Baby M cuddles up to it at night.  I think it definitely helped settle her when I wasn't there at bedtime because it smelt of me. It's designed to be breathable so it's completely safe. I have the one made from organic bamboo, but they come in other materials and colours.
£16.99 (cotton is cheaper)

Movement sensor
I'm one of those mums that constantly check their child is still breathing so this product gives me piece of mind.  It consists of a baby monitor and a mat that goes under the mattress to detect movement. 
We have the Angelcare AC401 movement and sound monitor.  I have used it for just sound (when she wouldn't sleep in her basket), just movement (at night when she is sleeping in her cot next to me) and with both movement and sound (when she's asleep upstairs and we are in another room).
We have used it with both the Moses basket and the cot and haven't had any problems with it.

Deirdre (Freddie the firefly)
This must be one of the most popular of the Lamaze toys based on how many people I know with one. In the first few weeks Baby M was fascinated with the black and white patterns on the back of the wings and now she is starting to reach out and hold on to it. It has lots of textures which are great for development.
We call this Deirdre because my OH decided it was a dragonfly.

My bugaboo bee
This buggy is not perfect. We had one of the batch with the dodgy wheels so it kept jamming, but despite the wheels I love it.  It's great because it's small and light (faced with stairs I can just pick it up and carry it). I've been using it with the cocoon which allows Baby M to lie flat, but is also lovely and cosy: perfect for the winter weather. It also works with my Maxi Cosi carseat (with adaptors).
Finally it has a special edition black frame so it is a bit different to all the other bugaboo bee's I see.  

Bebe au lait
I've never been one to get my boobs out in public and this hasn't changed since I had Baby M.  For anyone comfortable feeding in public: fantastic.  I'm only comfortable under covers.  The Bebe au lait is brilliant as it allows me to feed Baby M wherever she wants feeding. It is big enough that I can sort everything out without fear of revealing anything and it has the added benefit of a stiff neckline which means I can look down and see what is going on.
Several times whilst using this is cafes I've had people approaching me and asking where I got it.  
You can get it online from lots of places, but I was given it by a friend who is full of amazing mum knowledge.  Check out her blog:

Milk drunk face
Tommee tippee milk feeding bibs
These bibs have a thick, soft, absorbent collar that goes around the baby's neck.  I think it’s designed for bottle feeding to prevent the milk dribbling down.  As my little one frequently has her food reappearing and dribbling down her chin these bibs catch most of the vomit and prevents all her clothes getting soaked.  I strongly recommend them.
£4.99 for 2

Gro egg
Any room thermometer is useful to ensure babies are the right temperature when they sleep. I like the gro egg though because I can see at a glance if the room is the right temperature even without my glasses on by the colour of the egg.

Sleeping bags 
I tried swaddling Baby M when she was small, but I never successfully managed it as she is such a wriggler.  When I try to use blankets she ends up kicking them off within minutes.  Sleeping bags are great because they allow Baby M to wriggle to her heart’s content, yet she stays warm.  They also have the advantage that the covers wont go over her face.
I have some Gro Baby Sleep Bags second hand from a friend and some from Mothercare (own brand).  I like them equally.  All of them have buttons to ensure they fit small heads (ie the baby’s head shouldn’t go through the neck hole once done up).  The Mothercare ones are cheaper.
Before buying any make sure you go for the right tog for the temperature of your room (I'm currently using 2.5 tog).  
A friend (mentioned above) recommends slightly more expensive merino ones from Merino kids.  These can be used all year round and are bigger so can be used for longer.
£22.99 - £33

Disposable Bed/changing mats
I frequently use these disposable mats. Pampers do some, but I'm also a fan of Asda Little Angels Bed Mats as they are cheaper and bigger.  These mats are absorbent with a plastic backing.  I have used them on my bed (under the sheet) when co sleeping, when massaging Baby M with her nappy off and when she is on her play mat.  It prevents any leaks getting where they shouldn't keeping everything clean and dry.
£3 - £5

Feme pads
These are available from a range of places on line, but I was given some bought from Mothercare.  They are gel pads that can be chilled and used to cool your bits providing much needed relief.  I had an episiotomy and these really helped with the pain, but it would probably help anyone who had a VB.
Top tip: Cool in freezer, put on 2 pairs of pants with the pad in the middle (this keeps them in place and allows you to wear a thin maternity pad as well).  If placing directly on skin chill in the fridge.

I never leave home without one.  I never even pass Baby M to anyone to hold without one.  They wipe up dribble and vomit and are easy to wash.  Available everywhere, but if you find them for less than £1 per muslin you are doing well.

Clever Mama Towel
These are similar to the Cuddle Dry Towels, but cheaper.  They have poppers so they can be worn round your neck like an apron during bath time.  On the other end they have a hood so you can scoop baby up out of the bath and hold her to you.  It keeps me dry and baby M warm and safe.  They aren't exactly thick plush towelling, but they do the job well at a good price.
c £17

That's all for now.

Advent Calendar Day 7: A cute little robin. Awwww!

*I have not been paid or asked to publicise any of these products and all opinions are my own. I have linked to the companies website where they exist to provide more information, but I would recommend shopping around if you do want to buy any of them as big savings can often be found. The prices shown are what appear to be RRP ie the maximum price you should pay.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

24/7 Support

Having a newborn baby can be a lonely time. The first few weeks there is a rush of wellwishers (many bringing gifts), but soon everyone moves on with their own livesand you suddenly realise that who you thought your friends were and no longer who you see and talk to.

My friends now fall into 4 main groups:
The Busy Bees
Baby M is now 10 weeks old and there are some of my goodfriends who haven’t yet met her. I guessit goes back beyond that: there are some of my ‘good’ friends who I haven’tseen since I stopped feeling up to going to the pub in the evening duringpregnancy. I admit I haven’t made a hugeeffort to arrange meet ups, but when I do they often cancel or don’t commit toa time.
The Persistent Singles
I have a small number of friends who keep asking me out: tothe cinema, to the pub etc. Whilst Iappreciate the thought they only ask me to events that aren’t suitable forbabies. I have to choose between stayingwith my beautiful baby or expressing some milk, arranging a baby sitter,missing bedtime and getting less sleep. Thereare very few films which could compete.
The Friendly Parents
The people I know who have children. I have grown closer to these friends as theyhave been supportive throughout my pregnancy and beyond. They have offered help, advice andinvitations are to places (and at times) that are suitable to bring babies along.
The New Mums
Since my NCT classes 5(?) months ago I have continued tomeet up with the other mum’s in my group at least once a week. This means that in the last 10 weeks I haveseen them more than nearly anyone else. Including family.
I have alsostarted to make friends at various baby groups I go to. These mum’s are having similar experiences tome and don’t mind that I have essentially one topic of conversation thesedays. I suspect that this group willbecome my closest friends for many years to come (or at least until I go backto work in April).

In addition there is a 5th group that has beeninvaluable:
Virtual mums on twitter
These guys have been amazing. They live all over the world and are either new or experienced mums. They prevented me giving up breastfeeding. They have kept me company. They have made me laugh. And hopefully they appreciate me too.
Advent calendar watch day 6: 2 men and a sheep.  Enough said

25 clever ideas to make life easier

Some of these ideas are genius. I'm definitely doing the bedding one.

25 clever ideas to make life easier:

'via Blog this'

Monday, 5 December 2011

eBay Addict

Over the last few months I have spent a lot of time breastfeeding. Hours and hours some days. I believe that breastfeeding is a wonderfuland bonding experience, but I have found that I need something to entertain me(and keep me awake) during some of the longer feeds.

I started off reading facebook and Twitter and then moved onto reading various blogs. During a weekwith a lot of feeding (growth spurt, cluster feeding, call it what you will) I needed something else. I started internet shopping. Babies need a lot of things. Ok babies don’t need much, but Mummies like alot of nice things for their daughters. Itwas during one of these nursing shopping sessions that I started browsing eBay.

As I was browsing on my iPhone I was kindly informed therewas “an app for that”. The eBay app wassoon downloaded and I had my very own eBay and paypal accounts. Over the last few weeks I have come to know mypostman very well.

Fortunately for my bank balance I received an email from Ebaya week ago. They advised me that theyhad a free listing weekend so why not sign up to sell as well? Selling on Ebay is even more addictive thanbuying. For a week my phone kept onpinging to tell me people had bid on my items. Everything is now sold and I took them to the Post Office today.

Currently I have just about earned more than I spent. As the good gambling advice says: now wouldbe a good time to walk away...
But I just ordered some plastic postage envelopes...
And I’m mentally scanning the house for what else I can sell...

Does that mean I can start looking for more things to buy?

Today in Baby M's advent calendar there was a robin. Much more Christmassy than a dog's head. I however had a chocolate Christmas tree. yum x

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Me Time

Today I had an hour and a half alone at home whilst J went to a Baby Massage Class for Dad's. This is the first time alone at home since I had Baby M.

So what did I do with this rare luxury? Did I have a bath? A nap? Treat myself?


I hoovered (well Dysoned) and dusted the house and cleaned the kitchen. Whilst this might seem like a bit of a waste I felt better for doing it. And the added benefit of doing it whilst no one was here? It meant it stayed clean for a whole hour. Now that is a definite luxury.

(For anyone following Baby M's advent calendar: yesterday it had a dog's head, and today a gypsy with wings. I'm starting to think it might not be suitable for children).

Friday, 2 December 2011

My Model Baby

On Thursday we had a busy day:

After being awake for a couple of hours it was nap time and Baby M decided she was happy to sleep in her cot (unlike for the whole of the night before) giving me the opportunity to be productive. So I had a nap too.

When we were up and fed it was time to rush to Mothercare for our free PixiFoto photo session (courtesy of Bounty). When I arrived I was advised that as our session hadn't been confirmed (they tried calling me once, but didn't leave a message) they had arranged for someone to come view their pictures in my slot. I then spent the next 20 minutes waiting. Luckily Baby M was happily having a nap.

The first picture taken was our free picture. This picture could be retaken until we were happy with it, but the old picture had to be deleted before a new one was taken. As I didn't know how long it would be before Baby M burst into tears or vomited down her dress this involved a bit of a gamble.
The rest of the photo shoot involved a variety of poses designed to help me part with my hard earned cash. The photographer managed this successfully, but quiet, don't tell my other half.

At one point whilst posing on a small box Baby M demonstrated a new skill: rolling from her front to back (she's only 9 1/2 weeks). Fortunately she didn't roll off the box, but I suspect it's only a matter of time before she rolls onto the floor.

PixiFoto photographs are surprisingly cheap for professional photographs. They have various packages which thoroughly confused me, but for £205 you can get a couple of big prints and 5 or something small ones. By small they mean 12 x 10 inches. That is nearly twice the size of the standard pictures at some other professional photographers I've been to. I decided to get all but one of my pictures unframed as I suspect I can get frames cheaper online.  They'll be available for collection in 2 weeks and I will be giving most of my family one for Christmas whether they want one or not. Very excited.

Newly bankrupt we had to go to the post office (via a drive through MaccyD's) to pick up a big box of baby clothes bought for a bargain on eBay and then a short drive to pick up a Vtech walker from another eBay seller (more about my new eBay addiction another time).

Then onto Creative Biscuit to pick up our painted pottery (see my last post).

We eventually got home for a bit of playtime before the bedtime routine (relaxing bath, massage, feed and then completely wide awake time) and over to her Dad.

Yesterday, for the first time in nearly a year, I went out.  I got dressed up, wore heels and make up and got just a little bit tipsy. I was really nervous as it was my first proper time away from Baby M, but I had left a huge amount of expressed milk in the fridge and her Dad really should be capable to look after her for a night.
I had a fabulous evening with the girls from my NCT group. It's so rare to eat my dinner with both hands and no interruptions.  Back home I was welcomed by Baby M asleep in her cot and my OH saying "I don't know what the fuss is all about, she's been perfect". She slept from when I left until time for a feed and then went down in her cot. The first sleep was in her sling (Caboo baby carrier) and my OH didn't manage anything other than rice crackers and bread for dinner so he didn't have it too easy.

An expensive, but lovely day.

Making a mess

On Tuesday we went to a local cafe where you can decorate pottery and then they glaze it for you. As it's nearly Christmas I decided it was perfect to make some Christmas presents for her Dad and Grandparents.
I was hoping to put hand and footprints on some played etc. Have you ever tried to persuade a baby to open their hand to allow it to be painted and then put it in a location of your choice? It's difficult. Fortunately you can wipe off the paint and start again. And again. And again. And I still didn't manage it.
But feet are different. Babies can't curl their feet into a fist so it's a lot easier to do footprints. Baby M seemed to love having get feet painted too.

We had a brilliant afternoon painting and eating cake at Creative Biscuit ( Yesterday I went to pick up everything after it was fired and I think they look great.
Good work Baby M.

PS today's advent calendar door had a Christmas tree

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Happy December

It's December which means many things, but the most immediate is advent calendars.
A tasty Hotel Chocolat one for me (40% cocoa solids milk chocolate, yum) purchased as a surprise by my wonderful partner.
An advent calendar card for Baby M sent to her from her great grandmother. It's a shame it's not chocolate as I would have enjoyed eating her chocolates.
Today she had a picture of a donkey

Monday, 28 November 2011

Where did my dignity go?

Before I got pregnant I was worried about how often I would have to get my bits out to strangers during pregnancy and childbirth. Stories about how women in labour walk the hospital wards naked "because you just don't care any more" and the what I was lead to believe was the inevitable pushing out poo while trying to push out the baby (my main concern about having a water birth) really didn't help.
I was pleasantly surprised that the first time I had to get my 'bits' out was in Triage when I was in labour, the second to see how I was progressing (and it's true by this point I didn't really care), the third when I was giving birth and the last to check if my stitches had got infected. Now my lower bits are back to their low profile existence. My boobs on the other hand...
So my point is I was mentally prepared for what I thought would be the indignities of pregnancy and childbirth and I was pleasantly surprised. What I wasn't prepared for was the loss of dignity after childbirth.
My partner and I have a relationship where the toilet door has always remained closed; there are some things we don't feel the need to share.
In the week after Baby M was born I went through several things that normally I wouldn't talk about, but I didn't want to (and couldn't) go through the discomfort and pain alone.
I could barely stand for the first week: the pressure on my bits was so painful. I could also barely sit or bend because of my stitches. This meant sitting, standing and bending were all difficult and painful.
Going to the toilet was hard as sitting was so painful I basically stood to go for the first week. I could just about manage this alone, but I did feel the need to share some of the more graphic details with my OH (which I'll spare you here).
Other things I couldn't do alone. Like drying myself as I couldn't reach half my body. By the end of the first week I was leaking from my boobs, leaking from my stitches and had heavy lochia. J had to help dry me resulting in exposure to these leaks. Not very sexy. I also had really bad wind and risked wetting myself if I laughed or sneezed. I wasn't prepared for this and I suspect my partner wasn't either.

I'm all sorted now except for the leaking boobs. My boobs can also squirt milk some distance. I'm impressed by this, but again not sexy.

An article in November's Prima Baby & Pregnancy magazine gives the average amount of time couples leave it before having sex after having a baby. This ranges from 2-4 weeks in London to 9-11 months in Leeds. Based on my experience avoiding sex is less likely to be about the pain of childbirth or allowing time for everything to heal and more about how much exposure my partner has had to distinctly unromantic bodily functions. I am now working on keeping quiet, regaining some mystery and one day becoming an object of desire again.

(No photo as I couldn't think of a relevant one that wouldn't be unpleasant)

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Sleep? I remember that

Baby M's sleep behaviour has changed almost weekly since she was born:
Most of week 1 she slept in the hospital crib or Moses basket at home.
Then for a couple of weeks she would only sleep if held. This meant that she was sleeping on my chest at night. I tried getting her to sleep on her own, but she wasn't interested wouldn't.
Then suddenly she started sleeping in the cocoon from her buggy so I placed that inside her Moses basket. After a few nights I placed her directly in the Moses basket. She slept fine for about a week.
Next she decided that she couldn't sleep lying flat so I bought a reflex wedge for her basket. Until it arrived I was sleeping with my legs in an arched triangle position and Baby M lay on my upper legs at about a 45 degree angle. With the wedge she slept in her basket again.
Around the 6 week growth spurt everything changed again and for the last 3 weeks she has been in bed with me, normally lying on her side between me and the edge of the bed.
(note: we have been doing this safely: she is at no risk of suffocation or being squashed).
Occasionally I have considered getting her back in her basket, but when she is sleeping next to me we both sleep better: I can comfort her when she is fussing without having to sit up or lean over.
Last night we tried something new. On the advice of a friend I bought a cheap cot from Ikea that is designed to allow 1 side to come off. The idea was that I would drill holes to make it the same height as my bed. With my baby brain I managed to drill the holes in the wrong place, then completely ignore them by accident and use the original holes. Whilst I might get round to sorting it out at some point fortunately the end result works just fine.
The cot is sandwiched between my divan bed and the wall (avoiding the need to attach it to my bed). The cot mattress height is 2 inches below my mattress, but this could be a good thing. It means she can't roll out of her bed but we are close enough that she can reach out and touch me.
She slept in there the whole night except for feeds (we are currently on 2 night feeds). I had plenty of space and J could actually fit in the bed again.
Definitely worth the £75 (Ikea Gulliver cot for £60 and the cheapest mattress for £15).
Fingers crossed she sleeps in it for more than a few days...

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Recap: Breastfeeding Weeks 1 & 2

Week 1

First let me give a spoiler: Baby M is 2 months old and she has been exclusively breastfed from day 1, but it hasn’t been easy.  We haven’t had thrush and I haven’t had Mastitis (and crossed fingers I won’t) but we have had a whole range of problems and a lot of pain.

Before Baby M was born I didn’t know if I would be able to breastfeed because I had my breasts lifted 10 years ago.  I was really happy when she fed successfully during skin to skin and I thought everything would be ok.  Over the next day and a half the midwives gave me advice on how to get Baby M to latch on properly and we managed ok. Until my milk came in.

A couple of days after Baby M was born I tried to feed her at night and couldn’t get her to latch on.  Being unable to feed your baby in the middle of the night when there is no support available is very stressful.  My OH “J” was really fabulous, he helped look on the internet for help and we very nearly caved and gave Baby M some formula.  In the end J hand expressed some milk for me and she latched on.  Looking back I think my milk had come in and she was struggling to latch on to my engorged boobs.  The following day we managed to feed without problems.

The next night I struggled to get Baby M to feed again.  Again with the benefit of hindsight I suspect that this was because my boobs were fuller at night and harder to latch on to.  In the morning I called the community midwives for help and amazingly one came over within half an hour to watch me feed and give advice (the midwives in my area are fantastic).  She recommended holding my boob in a kinda squeeze to help Baby M latch on, which seemed to work.

For the next few days we managed to feed ok.

Week 2

At a week old Baby M went through a growth spurt.  This meant she was feeding “constantly” as I described on twitter at the time. This started Saturday evening and my Sunday night my nipples were in agony.  By Tuesday I was struggling to feed her because it was so painful.  I remember crying with pain whilst she fed.

I remember one night when she was regurgitating milk (she’s sick a lot) there was blood in her vomit.  This really panicked me until I realised it was my blood from bleeding nipples.

Several people suggested feeding Baby M formula during this hard week for me, but I couldn’t do it.  I had set myself the challenge of breastfeeding and the idea of giving up made me feel like a complete failure as a mum.  I completely support people who choose to feed their babies formula for the many good reasons they may do this, but I just couldn’t get my head passed it being a failure for me.  I suspected that if I gave her one bottle of formula it would be the start of a slippery slope.

In a conversation with a midwife (I’m surprised they didn’t get sick of me) they suggested I try nipple shields.  I know the use of these can be controversial, but for me they were a life saver as they allowed me to keep breastfeeding, well on one side anyway.  On the left side she could feed via the nipple shields without me bleeding.  The first time I fed her on the right side with the shield I looked down and there was loads of blood everywhere: in Baby M’s mouth, around her face and all over me.  I decided I couldn’t feed her like that so for the next week I fed her exclusively from the left side (via the shield) and pumped and dumped on the right.  I didn’t want to risk introducing a bottle so I poured the expressed milk away.

To be continued...

Thursday, 24 November 2011


Baby M had her first set of jabs this morning.  I'm fully in favour of immunisations because I believe the benefits out weigh the risks, but it's still hard doing something which (in the short term) is going to bring your baby some discomfort.

I asked to feed Baby M while she had the injections and I would definitely doing recommend this.  The first injection she came off my boob to briefly squeal and then continued feeding.  I then had to swap sides quickly so the nurse could get to the other leg.  This time Baby M knew what was coming when the nurse held her leg so she started crying in anticipation, but again afterwards she quickly latched on and stopped.  We were asked to stay at the surgery for ten minutes to ensure no major reaction occurred and I continued to feed her during this time.

When we left Baby M went to sleep and she has continued to be pretty sleepy all day, but has woken up to feed and for brief periods when she has wanted cuddles and interaction.  While she has been sleeping I have been checking to make sure she is breathing and I keep checking her temperature.  So far all is ok.

edit 26th Nov: Baby M woke up every 2 hours throughout the night for a feed. At 1.30am she had a bit of a temperature so I gave her Calpol.  The next day she was more grizzly than normal and today she is back to normal.  The only evidence of the jabs is a mild reaction from the plaster adhesive (I get the same reaction).

When Will My Baby...

I love the idea of this website. Obviously all babies are different and parents will interpret things differently (like what is a genuine first smile) but by crowd sourcing this website provides some interesting time scales for different development.

When Will My Baby... Results of our Baby Milestones Survey:

'via Blog this'

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Back to the beginning: My birth story

Warning: due to the nature of childbirth this post may contain too much information.  

My last post before I went AWOL from this blog was the morning of Saturday 24th September.  In it I complained that I was still without child so obviously I went into labour later that day.

Saturday morning I went for a looonnnnnggggg walk and baked chocolate cakes.  Around lunchtime I got a stomach cramps (similar to period pains or constipation).  The pain was pretty constant and got worse through out the afternoon.  At 6pm I was having dinner (slow roast lamb and potato gratin, very yummy) and I noticed that the pain was in waves about a minute apart.  

After dinner I went to lie down with a hot water bottle, but it didn't help much so I had a bath. Tip: Don't use a pink bath bomb as I did, even if it's designed for pregnant mumma's, as it makes your Mum a little worried that you've had major blood loss.  I continued to time the waves whilst in the bath and they slowed down to about 3 minutes apart.  By this point I had decided it probably was real labour. 

When I got out of the bath my OH put the TENS machine on me and I tried to relax expecting a long night and day ahead.  The pain continued to get stronger though and I began to need to focus to get through each wave.  Around 9.30pm I called the labour ward and explained what was going on and asked when I should go in given that the gap between my contractions varied in length, but was never more than 3 minutes.  The midwife said I could be checked in triage if I was worried, but they would probably send me home again afterwards.  So I headed in to hospital.

In triage the incredibly lovely midwife said I was 1cm dialated and that the baby sounded fine.  She gave me co-codamol and suggested I waited around for half an hour for it to kick in. Over the next 20 minutes I paced the corridors with frequent contractions.  I had to push against the wall to get through them and was struggling to stand.  The lovely midwife approached us and said she had got me a bed on the ward as she thought I was in too much pain to go home.

I was put in a room with 3 mum's and their newborn babies all trying to sleep (it was now about 10.30pm).   I continued to use the TENS machine, but I was really struggling with each contraction.  In the end I approached the nurses?/midwives? on the ward and said I needed something for the pain.  They were really unhelpful.  They made it clear that they thought I should be at home.  I told them I was struggling and they eventually offered me some morphine based drugs or a hot shower.  I told them I didn't want the drugs as morphine makes me feel sick.  They told me I had to have them and I would also need an epidural when the time came as I was so bad at managing the pain.  I said I wanted to avoid an epidural if possible and asked if they could give me gas and air and I would have a shower whilst they got it ready.  At this point I began to doubt my ability to get through labour with minimal drugs as I was clearly pathetic.

The shower helped, but I couldn't stay there forever so I headed back to the ward with the TENS machine back on.  They still hadn't set up the Gas and Air so my OH went to chase it up whilst I grunted and swore through each contraction (sorry sleeping new mums).  Soon I was begrudgingly supplied with the gas and air, but I can't say I noticed any benefit from it other than it encouraging me to take long slow breaths.  Where was the lovely light headedness that I was meant to be experiencing?  

The pain increased and I started to need to push.  On one of the contractions I felt myself push out liquid and was worried that I had wet myself so I went to the loo to check.  In the toilet I saw that I had a lot of bloody discharge which worried me so I showed my mum.  She went to get the midwife and told her I had had "the show".  The midwife insisted I put a sanitary towel on so she could see what the discharge was like.  5 minutes later she came back and asked to see it.  I advised that I hadn't had long enough between contractions to be able to put one on, and that my gas and air had run out.  She told me to breathe into the thing any way (trying to suck air out of a vacuum was not going to happen, physics clearly wasn't a strong point for her).  

Eventually the midwife told me to get on the bed so she could examine me.  When she looked the change in her approach was comical.  She became slightly panicked and advised that I was 8cm dilated and I would give birth as soon as my waters broke.  She called another midwife and rushed me quickly down to the delivery rooms.

Things then happened quickly.  My waters broke (all over a midwife) and there was meconium in them (which can be a sign that the baby is in distress).  The baby's heartrate was ok, but they decided I needed to give birth quickly so strongly advised I had an episiotomy.  I agreed as I wanted to avoid an assisted delivery.  I was then told I had to push and I wasn't allowed to make any noise (apparently if I grunted etc I wasn't focussing all my energy on pushing the baby out, but I really didn't appreciate this as I found screaming was helping me manage my drug free state nicely).  At 1.44am Sunday morning my daughter slithered out.

She was taken away to be checked by a paediatrition because of the meconium in the waters, but was quickly brought back having been given the all clear allowing me to have skin to skin.  Once my placenta had been delivered we were left for ages allowing myself and my partner to bond with my daughter and I managed to breastfeed her (I had been unsure whether I would be able to so this was a huge relief). 

After an hour or so the midwife came back to measure and weigh my daughter (7lb 12ozs) and to stitch me up.  She used a local anaesthetic for this but I had to use a lot of visualisation of a beach on a sunny day to get me through it.  The cut was small, but as they have to stitch through 3 layers of skin it took a while.  The good thing about this though was it allowed my OH to hold his daughter for a while and I think they really bonded in this time.

At about 6am we were wheeled back up to a ward and my mum and partner had to go home leaving me to enjoy my beautiful and amazing daughter (well I could hardly sleep could I?).

It all happened so quickly I had no choice about birth position or water birth etc, but in the end the important thing was that my daughter was fine and there were no problems.  First definite contraction to delivery of placenta was 8 hours.  Short and intense, but managed basically drug free.  

I will be eternally grateful to the wonderful triage midwife who didn't send me home (I'm not sure what would have happened if she had).   She came and said hello after the birth as well so I had the opportunity to thank her.

I strongly believe that you have to trust your instincts about what is happening to you during labour.  The midwives on the ward had their expectations about how long it should take and how much pain I should be feeling and I (and my birth partners) really had to push to get them to listen.  I still find it funny thinking about the panic in the midwife's voice when she realised she was wrong :-)

Oh and I didn't poo during labour.  Yay!

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

A day of 2 halves

AM Update: I'm fed up. 
For 3 weeks now Baby M has basically been feeding, regurgitating her food, sleeping or crying for more food. Actually that's not fair: she has brief happy moments, but I spend so much of my time with her attached to a boob that it's easy to forget. We've really struggled with breastfeeding and I'm really proud we've managed to stick with it exclusively for 8 weeks, but now we are having problems again.  My nipples have finally just about healed from the initial problems, but now she isn't feeding properly from the right side. When she latches on it hurts and I suspect my nipple is cracking again. I refuse to give her formula, but I'm really struggling. 

In addition the last few days she keeps falling asleep whilst feeding then waking up soon afterwards demanding more food. This is a huge struggle at night. Last night I had to feed her in the position she would sleep in and eventually she would be full enough to sleep (this involved some very interesting positioning).
She's feeding really inefficiently so even after 45 minutes on one side my boob isn't empty. 

I also have hardly anything to wear as I need to be able to have easy access to my boobs and everything gets covered in vomit within 5 mins.
I love Baby M, even when she is screaming her lungs out, but I wish I was more on top of things.

PM Update:

This morning I went to the Health Visitor drop in to get out the house and to get some advice.  She said she wasn't worried about Baby M because she is gaining weight, but that she was worried about me. She suggested I go to a breastfeeding drop in to check the latch is ok.
On the way back Baby M fell asleep and stayed asleep for 2 hours (if only I was able to sleep too). In the end I got her up as it had been 3 1/2 hours since her last feed and recently she has been going 2 hours maximum in the day between feeds. 
After feeding her (she was on and off for an hour and a quarter) she was sick 4 times. Her top was completely covered in regurgitated milk (I've learnt there's no point changing her each time as she'll just be sick again). She was happy for an hour and a half then she started crying again so I tried to feed her, but she wouldn't latch on. Eventually after 3 and a half hours she fed again. 

So... this morning I was complaining that she was feeding too often and this afternoon I was worried because she didn't want to feed and how often she'll wake up tonight if she doesn't get enough food during the day. 

I guess as long as I'm a mum I will be worried about my beautiful daughter. 

Blog Silence

Quick recap of the last 2 months:

  • I had a beautiful baby girl
  • I had a nightmare breast feeding 
  • Things got easier
  • Baby M had her 6 weeks growth spurt and things get worse
I'm determined to get back on track with this blog. I did draft some posts in the early days, but didn't finish them so I'll get those posted soon. I promise

Saturday, 24 September 2011

And the wait goes on...

Monday was my due date by scans.  No baby
Tuesday was my due date by ovulation.  No baby
Wednesday was my due date by last period.  No baby

It’s now Saturday and guess what?  No baby!

I know I’m still in the normal window, but each morning when I wake up and realise I’m still not in labour I feel a wave of disappointment.  I also know that there is a limit to how much longer I will be pregnant, as much as some part of my brain keeps telling me I might be pregnant forever or that despite the scans etc that I might be having a phantom pregnancy.

One of the things I’m finding most frustrating is everyone’s advice that I should enjoy sleeping, relaxing, having time to myself etc.  Yes I know that all these things will be in very short supply when the baby gets here but I’m bored, fed up with my own company, uncomfortable sitting around and can only sleep for so much of the day.  Plus I’m convinced that sleep doesn’t work like money: I can’t stockpile a supply of it to get me through the next 18 years.  Isn’t it worse if you are sleeping 12 hours a day and then get cut down to 2, than if you are used to managing on less sleep?  (I would note I haven’t managed to stockpile money either)

I’m trying to make the most of this time, I really am, but there are only so many people I know who are free during the day and only so many times I can clean the house.  I’ve tried knitting too, but I can only do a maximum of 4 rows of my blanket before my back gets to the point where I have to move.

I’m no good at waiting (I think I may have mentioned that before).

It appears my family and friends aren’t very good at waiting either.  I’ve had several calls from family asking if anything has happened yet.  I’m tempted to say “yes, you have a granddaughter, she was born a week ago we just forgot to tell you.  It’s just as well you called”. 

My body is continuing to gear up for the birth.  I’ve had twinges in my lower belly for a week and a half now.  They are gradually getting stronger, but no contractions (or other signs of labour).  I’ve had 2 lots of acupuncture where the acupuncturist has been working on my points to encourage the baby to come, and I have been massaging these points myself in between sessions. 

One thing is clear: baby doesn’t want to come out yet.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Everyone loves to touch a pregnant belly...

... apparently.  

Throughout my pregnancy not a single stranger has tried (or asked) to touch my growing bump, not even any acquaintances.  Only very close friends and family and most of them asked first.

Am I really that scary?  Is the belly touching thing a myth? Or is it because I live on the edge of London and Essex and everyone is anti-social?

Am I ready?

At 37 weeks I had a sudden panic:  “help, I’m considered full term, the baby could come at any moment”.   As the minutes, hours and days passed without any sign my baby wanted to make an appearance I became increasingly frustrated.  That was until one day last week when one of my friends visited with her 2 children.

Her oldest child is two and a half, and youngest nearly one.  For several hours I was constantly on my feet keeping an eye on them as my house isn’t childproofed and cats aren’t used to being poked and chased by children.  Both of the children were constantly moving around, exploring and generally doing the things children do.  And that was before we had lunch and a fine layer of fish fingers and plums was smeared over my sofa, rug, table, tv...  It was an eye opener about just how much my life will change.

Since the visit I have been enjoying the remainder of my pregnancy.  I’m 39 weeks today and quite happy to be pregnant for another 3 weeks.  Once the baby is born things will never be the same again.  Despite the current discomfort and niggles I’m happy to enjoy the last few days of napping when I want and going out with only myself to organise.

I know about 8 people who have had babies in the last month, all with very different birth stories (good and bad).   I’ve heard some horror stories, but I’m feeling very relaxed about giving birth.  Women have been doing it for thousands of years.  I’m fit and healthy and there is no reason why there should be any problems.  Even if there are the medical staff are trained and know what to do to ensure my baby and I get safely through.

The only thing I’m concerned about is how I’m going to cope with my new life with the baby.  Already I have noticed a distance between myself and some old friends.  Friends who have the freedom to do what they want, when they want.  Do I have to lose these friends and make a whole new set?   I know it’s inevitable that I will make new friends with children of a similar age.  It’s a survival thing.  But I’m still not sure if I am ready to say goodbye to my old life.  And do I have any choice?

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Tip of the day

Whilst napping today I have finally found a way to prevent me rolling onto my back (I've already tried pillows and my partner prodding me every time he notices)...

Keep my hair in a ponytail! It means I have to have my head on it's side so the rest of me is as well.  Hopefully I wont have long before I can sleep however I like without any problems.  Assuming the little one allows me to have any sleep :-)

Next I just need to find a way to control my heartburn whilst sleeping

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Move update

Due to being incredibly busy after moving and not having the internet for a while I didn’t follow up on my move post, but I guess I have no excuses now.

So the house.

It’s great.  I love finally owning my own home (well approximately a door, the bank owns the rest).  We are unpacked and I am really happy with the house.  There are things that need doing, but they’ll wait.  We even have a family of hedgehogs in the garden.  The baby hedgehogs are extremely cute.

And the cats.

One of our cats was in hospital for nearly a week after the move and when we eventually got him home we had to give him 6 different types of drugs.  For anyone who doesn’t have a cat be advised cats do not like being given drugs, so that was fun.  He was fine when we got him to the new house though and he and his brother have recently been enjoying playing in the garden (hopefully away from the hedgehogs).

Today the same cat is in a bit of a sulk because it is a lovely sunny day and I’m not letting them out.  For some reason one of them (the same one who was in hospital with stress induced bladder problems) has half a swollen face.  He seems completely fine and he isn’t in pain, but I’d rather keep him in so I can keep an eye on him.  

I know the cats are far less work than a baby, but I suspect they are pretty good training with the constant demands for attention.  I'm hoping they don't mind the competition too much.

Friday, 19 August 2011

One Month to go...

After a stressful month at work I decided to bring forward my maternity leave by 4 weeks.  This means that today is my first day of maternity leave.  While I’m glad I don’t have to deal with the work stress or the commute to work I am finding it all rather scary. 

When I say “I’m scared” people think that I’m scared about having the baby.  I’m not.  Not yet anyway.  I’m scared that I won’t be going into work for nearly 8 months.  Work is my identity, my structure, the thing that I am good at that makes me feel of value. 

Now I have up to 7 weeks of feeling uncomfortable before baby comes, increasingly less able to do anything.  At least when the baby comes I’ll start to have some purpose. 

So what do people do when they are on maternity leave? By mid next week I reckon I can have every bit of the house spotless, everything washed and the nursery sorted.  And I won’t even be 37 weeks. 

Anyone got any ideas of what I do next?

Monday, 15 August 2011

35 weeks update

I'm 35 weeks today.
I've come a long way, but it feels like there is going to be a long and uncomfortable time ahead. If in the normal window I have between 2 and 7 weeks of waiting left. I'm working towards the 7 weeks as I need to plan for the worst (obviously there are a lot of things far far worse than having a healthy baby in 7 weeks time, but I refuse to think about those).

So a snapshot of how I'm feeling right now about the pregnancy:

I want to be able to lie on my back
I want to drink orange juice without getting heartburn
I want to be able to run across the bridge for a tube without needing a 10 minute recovery time
I want to be able to bend and pick things up without discomfort
I want to be able to lie on my front
I want to be able to sit on the sofa in the evenings watching tv or knitting and not get restless legs (alternatively I want to be able to knit successfully whilst walking around).
I want to be able to last more than a few hours without needing a toilet
I want a rare steak 
I want sashimi
I want to sleep through the night (I should give up on that dream)
I want to be able to go to 2 of my friends weddings next month
I want to meet my baby

I love being given a seat on the tube (most of the time)
I love people carrying things for me (eg the man in Argos who took my purchase to my car for me).
I love watching my bump go a bit crazy when I've had chocolate or some unknown thing has stimulated her.
I love the current feeling of "oh sod it, I can't be bothered" at work as I only have a few days left
I love maternity tights. I seriously think I'll never go back.
I love not feeling fat and everyone telling me how "healthy" I look
I love how caring my partner is being and his concern (like when he rushes up stairs to see if I'm alright when I drop something)
I love how excited friends and family are about meeting my baby
I love that I'm going to have a baby