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Category: Parenting: The First Year

Breastfeeding Support

Before I begin with this part of the Patch, I wanted to express something very clearly.

I believe in a woman’s right to choose what is best for both herself and her baby.

I remember clearly having this argument with someone in the last few weeks of my pregnancy. I was determined that I personally wanted to try breastfeeding, but equally I didn’t want to feel guilty if it didn’t work. I knew it was a truly personal choice and one that I wanted to make for myself. And the same should be true for all women.

That doesn’t mean that I didn’t feel huge amounts of guilt when breastfeeding didn’t work for us. It doesn’t mean that I didn’t feel anger at the lack of support during my problems. But I felt those things because breastfeeding was something I desperately wanted for myself and my baby.

As it turns out, Little Man was so much happier, calmer and healthier once we switched to formula that I felt guilty for wanting to perservere for so long. And it just strengthened my belief that the decision between breast and bottle feeding should never be one that is judged by outsiders.

Some women, like me, desperately want to breastfeed but have an issue that makes it extremely challenging. Others may have reasons why they do not want to breastfeed. One thing I know for sure, there should be no “you CAN breastfeed and so you should do it”. You have no idea what reasons someone may have for not wishing to breastfeed, so keep your nose out of it!

With that being said, I wanted to dedicate a section of my site to breastfeeding support. I gave up exclusive breastfeeding at 12 weeks after 6 weeks of awful blocked ducts (a new one every other day, on both sides, causing large and extremely painful swellings and an inability to feed my child properly). Even before those 6 weeks of hell, Oscar struggled with major colic and was the most unsettled baby I knew.

As a new mum I didn’t know what to expect. I hadn’t a clue and so I looked for help. I called my health visitor, who was unavailable. So another one came and just sat beside me, said “his latch is fine” and left. I then went to a local breastfeeding support group and the health visitor there simply tried to force Oscar, screaming, onto the breast only to say “oh well he’s obviously just a fussy baby” when I told her to stop distressing him as it wasn’t helping. Her opinion on my blocked ducts was “he’s probably chomping down and damaging your nipples”. Even when I asked her about “oversupply issues” which I suspected I had from my own research, she just refused to see beyond her own opinion on the matter.

I desperately fought to continue breastfeeding but at 2am one morning as I cried in the kitchen whilst trying to clear yet another blockage I realised I dreaded each feed and continuing was not in our best interest. It was heartbreaking to give up on the dream I had, especially after such a rough pregnancy, but it had to be done.

We continued to comfort feed until 16 weeks when we both got D&V and Oscar went on nursing strike. By the time he agreed to latch on once more my supply was pretty much gone and he lost interest completely. That was the end of our breastfeeding journey and it breaks my heart to think of what we didn’t get to have. Again, I want to reiterate that this is something that I wanted, it’s no something I think every mum should do.

I often wish I had been able to find better support. The NHS has a massive “breast is best” campaign and yet the lack of educated support for anyone who has difficulties breastfeeding is shocking. I don’t know if we’ll ever be brave enough to have another baby of our own (due to my traumatic pregnancy last time) but I hope we might be so that I can have another chance to breastfeed. And yet I will always feel sad at what happened for me and Oscar this time around. If only we had been able to get better support, we might have been able to continue…

Which is why I am using this space to share links to groups and bloggers who may be able to help you on your own breastfeeding journey, if you choose to take that route.

Resources

La Leche League is a great place to start, and it was through a friend who attended such a group that I received information on oversupply, something my own health visitor seemed unaware of.

Lactation Consultants of Great Britain is a fantastic resource for finding a lactation consultant close to where you live. I wish I had known to find a lactation consultant in my early days of breastfeeding.

KellyMom is an excellent resource with lots of information on a variety of breastfeeding issues.

 

Mixed Bag of Allsorts is a blog written by a friend of mine. She had to overcome issues with her supply and writes openl about breastfeeding.

 

Happy First Birthday Little Man

It's hard to believe, but this time last year we had just met our beautiful baby boy. 

It was the end of 9 very long, hard months with a pregnancy that threw us challenges from start to finish. It was also the end of a difficult labour and I spent the next few hours throwing up, sleeping, being whisked off to theatre, and being monitored and gradually unhooked from everything I was attached to as my body stated to recover.

But to be honest, the thing that remains with me the most is the feeling of shock and awe as the midwife handed me my (massive) baby and I realised that the dream I had been holding on to for so much of my life had finally come true.

I don't think it sank in at all to begin with. It was so strange. I mean, I loved him with all my heart from the very first moment I saw him, but I didn't know him. And I certainly didn't know what being a mother truly entailed. I felt out of my depth and rather baffled by it all to be honest, especially when I was taken up to the post-natal ward at gone 11pm and suddenly left on a darkened ward with my sleeping baby. I sat and looked at him and thought "well, what do I do now?" 

It's so hard to think back and realise that we didn't know him then and he didn't really know us. We fell into family life very quickly. I mean you have to, don't you? But it was far from plain sailing.

This year we have had different challenges to face, but we've made it through the first year of Little Man's life and it seems so strange to think that there was a time when he wasn't in our lives. How can that be? 

Though I would never say that anything is worth the trauma of HG (because nobody deserves to go through that!), there is a big part of me that looks at my baby boy (who is outgrowing the title "baby" far too quickly for my liking!!) and feels that he really is worth absolutely everything we went through. I can't put into words how much he means to me and how blessed I feel to be his mother.

I'll try and post up a slideshow of his first year sometime soon. That's if I can figure out how to make one! But for now I thought I'd leave you with a photo from the day he was born.

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Happy Birthday, darling boy!

Let Me Tell You About A Boy I Know

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He's my Husband and he means the world to me. 

And this weekend past he got to celebrate his very first Father's Day.

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My baby boy absolutely adores his daddy.

Almost as much as mummy loves daddy. 

Almost.

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In the five years we've been together, TJ has seen me through so many things. Things which some people never have to face. Things that a lot of people probably face over ten, twenty, thirty years or more, rather than just five short years. 

And yet he loved me enough to marry me and give me the most gorgeous gift of all… Little Man!

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Sometimes he infuriates me more than anyone else ever has. 

And yet none of that compares to the way he makes me laugh. 

Or the way he makes my heart melt whenever he does something truly amazing.

Even when he has no idea just how amazing he is.

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'Let Me Tell You About A Boy I Know…

'He kisses me and he holds me tight
And whispers "Baby, everything is alright"
That's why I know, Yes I know
Hallelujah, I just love him so"

Never Too Young For Art!

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When I worked in childcare, I thought it was mad that we were expected to do “arts and crafts” on a weekly basis with the babies from such a young age. Trying to get a 5 month old to offer up their hand or foot to be painted seemed crazy, and as for sticking bits of scrunched up tissue paper on to card, well that was just beyond mad!

So maybe I’m crazy too, because I had the wackiest idea the other day. I thought, “hmmmm, Little Man is a bit grumpy today, let’s try doing some painting for daddy.”

Now, Little Man has only just turned 6 months old, and although usually a very good natured child, he was having a particularly bad day because of teething. So why I thought painting would soothe him I don’t know. But it did have the unexpected effect of bemusing him so much he forget to grizzle!

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I stripped him down to just his nappy, sat him in front of me on a splashproof playmat, and placed some paper in front of him.

I decided to use the face paints we bought when I was pregnant (for bump painting) because I thought that was going to be the most friendly type of paint for his delicate skin.

I tried painting his hands first, but he wasn’t giving them up. He was far more interested in trying to screw up and eat the paper! So we painted his feet instead…

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Oh, painting those gorgeous (big) feet of his, and seeing the paint squidge between his toes made me smile. He is ticklish on the soles of his feet, so he wriggled and jiggled about, and wasn’t hugely impressed when I stood him up to make him stand up on the paper and make his footprint. But I’m sure he’ll get the hang of it and learn to love messy times like this soon enough.

I cannot wait until the summer months when it is warm enough to take him outside, lay him on the splashproof mat in just his nappy, and let him go wild with all sorts of things. I plan on letting him explore the taste and texture of things like baked beans, rice pudding, jelly and custard once the weather is warm enough. I love messy play, just not on my carpet!!

But for now, we’ll just enjoy the few moments we get to explore the paper indoors. After all, Little Man seemed to like that the best…

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My First Mothers’ Day

This weekend I got to celebrate my very first Mothers' Day.

I wrote an article about the thoughts and feelings it brought up for me and will link to it once it is live. I don't want to repeat myself, so I thought I'd just share some photos with you from the day.

Mothers Day

This is the greeting I got in the morning. Little Man's smile never fails to melt my heart completely, and he gets away with far more than he should sometimes because of it! 

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I got two lovely cards from my boys. I'll never tire of saying, "my boys" and will always remember the absolute joy it brough me to say it that first time just a few months ago. 

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TJ had offered to cook anything I wanted for dinner, so we had homemade wheat-free lasagne…

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And Little Man even tried a bit, before getting too tired and having his evening bottle instead (wish I'd got a photo of him trying the lasagne but was too busy laughing at the faces he was making!)

I hope you had a lovely day with your loved ones xx

Hyperemesis Gravidarum

I just wanted to let you all know that I have now updated the page on Hyperemesis Gravidaum here on the blog.

I have been struggling a lot with this over the past few days and have plenty I’d like to write about, but also have very limited time to blog right now because I want to spend as much time with Little Man as possible.

In short, I have been struggling with seeing other pregnant women, especially those pregnant with a second or third child, because that makes me face my decision to never go through pregnancy again. And that hurts. Anyone who knows me well will know I always looked forward to being pregnant and having a family and to turn my back on expanding my family in that way is painful.

As it stands we won’t want to even think of expanding our family until Oscar is several years older because I need to get my health sorted, having been ill for several years with Endometriosis and the treatments for it before my Hyperemesis Gravidarum hell last year. We still aren’t sure whether we will have more than one child and whether that addition will be through adoption or not.

This past week I started wondering if I shouldn’t have said “never again” so hastily during my pregnancy and yet I know I would be terrified to try again. So basically I am torn in two by it all and am trying to work through my thoughts and emotions rather than pushing them down and letting them build to unbearable levels.

Of course these decisions don’t need to be made now. And I am more than happy with Oscar being an only child for the time being. I love every minute with him and want to cherish these early years and would be quite happy if we didn’t expand the family until he was 4, 5 even 6 maybe. But I know that one day I will have to make the decision as to whether I can face the possibility of HG again or whether Tim and I need to look at adoption or even remaining a one child family.

So I am trying to deal with these emotions as they come up. I don’t want to feel jealous every time I see a pregnant woman. I don’t want to have to change channel every time an advert for One Born Every Minute comes on the tv, or turn of Twitter because it is trending. I don’t want to become bitter about it, and so that means I need to work through it.

So I decided now was the time to finally get around to writing my page on Hyperemesis and I would be hugely grateful if you would check it out.

This post has been added to the Tuesday Tea and Sympathy Linky. Click on the image below to check out the other posts taking part.

 


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First Family Christmas!

Are you ready for a ton of gorgeous photos from our first Christmas as a family?

Here goes…

Good Day

We started the day in our pyjamas, and stayed in them the whole day!

We were all festive in our new red pyjamas. I had scotty dogs and spots on mine, TJ had Homer Simpson on his, and Little Man had a great fleecy number that he received from a very special friend.

Sarah, from BioGirl, sent us some of Henry’s clothes from his very first Christmas and so Little Man spent Christmas Day and Boxing Day in the sweetest outfits from his new friend Henry! Sarah has become a very close friend to me and knowing that she chose to send some of Henry’s precious clothes for Little Man when letting go of said clothes is hard means more than I can say. To understand just why it meant so much, have a read of her post here.

I do so hope that Little Man and Henry will grow to be internet buddies, just like their mamas! So, Henry, here is Little Man in the beautiful sleepsuit you sent for him to wear when Santa came.

So tired

It was so exciting that Little Man had to have a nap half way through opening his presents. But we soon got back on track and although slightly bemused by the whole affair (he is only 3 months old after all), he seemed to like this new toys…

Oscar and Daddy

a new rattle…

Oscar and Daddy 2

a musical mobile phone…

Oscar and Daddy 3

and several new books!

Little Man actually bought this book for his daddy for Christmas and poor daddy was so overwhelmed that it took him two days to get to the end of it!

Mummy received some books from daddy too and daddy got one from mummy, so as usual books were a big part of our gift giving. I get the feeling we’re going to need to rearrange the bookcases again!

TJ then decided to put the hat I had made for my sister on Little Man…

Oscar and Hat

He wasn’t quite sure what to make of it at first. But then he got used to it and decided he looked mighty handsome and he ought to make mummy take as many photos as possible before it was wrapped up and given to Aunty Debbie!

Oscar and Mummy

All in all we had a wonderful Christmas Day, our first as a family of three, and it wasn’t long before we were heading to bed with dreams of starting again the next day with my parents. I’ll post more photos of Boxing Day soon, but here is a sneak preview of how gorgeous my boy looked…

In My Shirt

Incidentally, since I am showing you the clothes Henry sent for Little Man I thought I might show you the awesomeness of the sweet boy wearing a dino hat I made for him. I completely forgot to share the photos when Sarah first posted them, but doesn’t Henry look so cool? If you’re interested in making a similar hat, I used the pattern found here, simplifying it to fit in with my time scale by leaving off the tail and spots, but I think it still looked great!

I’m a Little Bear…

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Hello.

I’m a little bear, wrapped up against the cold.

Mummy asked me to send you a quick message as she didn’t want you to think she had forgotten you all.

So, here I am.

She is a little busy right now getting everything ready for something she calls Christmas. She tells me I will love it when I am a little bit older. I have to say I quite like listening to all the new songs she and daddy sing these days. And all the lights and shiny stuff mummy calls “tinsel” are rather pleasant to look at while having a cuddle. Does it get even better?

Mummy told me to tell you that she is also planning some changes for her blog. She is thinking of changing the name to “The Family Patch” because we are a family now. I thought she should call it “Little Man’s Patch” but she said that it couldn’t always be about me…

That’s what she thinks!

She is working on changing the design, because she says she can’t really have a pink blog when she has a little boy. She did dress me in something pink-ish the other day and I did look a little bit girly, so maybe she is right.

But it is taking her a long time to make the changes because I spend a lot of time cooing at her and smiling at her and trying my hardest to laugh so she knows just how much I love being bounced up and down and watching her and daddy making silly faces at me. So even when she leaves me with daddy and plans on doing some work she always ends up getting distracted by things like this…

Smile

I’m getting pretty good at this smiling malarkey, don’t you think?

So mummy asks you to excuse her over the next week or two because between me and Christmas she doesn’t have much spare time. But she promises to be back in the New Year with a brand new blog design to reflect her new life with me.

I better go now. She has been busy for long enough and I think she needs to be reminded that I am waiting for more silly noises and face making as she attempts to make me giggle.

Toodle-oo

Nursing Cover Review (and Giving Up Breastfeeding)

I have been meaning to write a review of the fantastic nursing cover I bought several weeks ago, but just haven't found the time. And now that my breastfeeding days are numbered I thought I better get it done! 

If time were not so limited for me right now I would of course have dedicated an entire post to the review and a separate one to my decision to switch to formula feeding. But with Little Man to occupy most of my time, and Christmas preparations taking up what is left, I'm afraid you will have to do with a combined post. I'm sure you'll forgive me.

So, first, let's do the review:

Nursing cover

Any breastfeeding mother will surely know how difficult it is to nurse her baby out in public without a handy cover to protect her modesty. Some may even have heard about nursing covers. I know I had heard of them a long time before I even fell pregnant. But for some reason I had this crazy idea in my head that a simple blanket or muslin cloth would suffice… how wrong I was!

If you have ever tried to feed a fussy, squirming baby whilst trying to keep a blanket over your boob that is flashed to the entire world every time baby moves, you'll know what I mean. Even with TJ's help to hold the blanket steady, we still managed to give several customers in the local coffee shop more than they had bargained for.

So, when my friend showed me hers and reminded me that they existed, I decided to go ahead and buy one. 

You can buy these in lots of places. My friend got her from Mothercare. However I decided that I wanted to have a pretty handmade one to make it feel extra special and to support the work of people like me who are just trying to make a little extra cash from selling items they have made with love and care. I did the same when buying my changing bag, another item I must write a review about when I get the chance.

I was expecting to pay a little more than my friend had for a handmade item, but actually found several that were almost half the price of the mass produced one. So there's a lesson for anyone who believes handmade has to mean more expensive!

Bird print

I looked around at various options and eventually chose this one because I fell in love with the bird and branches print. As you know, I am a huge fan of trees and as the changing bag I have yet to show you also contains a bird print (you'll have to take my word on that for the time being) I decided this was the perfect cover for me.

But it was not only pretty. Oh no, the person who made it was thoughtful enough to include a little pouch in one corner, which can be used to store a dummy in and/or wipe the milk that babies sometimes manage to dribble all over themselves. Now isn't that a great little addition?

Pocket

I hope you can tell just how much I love this cover. I am not yet sure what to do with it once I finish breastfeeding Little Man. I might try and make it into a little bag to store things in his nursery (another thing I have to show you). I have fond memories of using it out and about and don't want to just discard it or pass it on when we finish needing it. That is how much I love this cover. I hope that shows how great it is.

As you can see, the cover is fantastic at making sure you are perfectly covered no matter what position your baby manages to get himself or herself into. It just slips over you head, you swivel it around until it covers the part you need it to, and then you adjust the neck part so that the hoop part at the front lies in a way that allows you to see the baby while you nurse without anyone else seeing.

Cover all

Not only is this practical, but it also helps make nursing in public much more intimate between you and your baby, as your baby is sheltered in his or her own little world that you can look into and see. How wonderful is that?

So, if you want to buy yourself a beautiful handmade nursing cover just like this one, from an extremely friendly etsy seller, then visit Watershed Creations.

And now on to my decision to give up breastfeeding…

When I decided I wanted to breastfeed Little Man, I told myself that if it didn't work out for us I wouldn't worry as I believe in a woman's choice and that a happy, healthy baby has a happy, healthy mother.

Well, for the first few weeks breastfeeding went wonderfully. It was challenging, of course, but I enjoyed pretty much every minute of being able to feed my baby in that way.

But when Little Man was 6 weeks old I started developing blocked ducts. These developed roughly every couple of days and although they would generally clear up within a few hours (thanks to some rather painful nursing and hand expressing for those several hours pretty much non-stop) they were mightily painful.

I called my health visitor. I went to a breastfeeding group. I used the #bfcafe hashtag on twitter to find out what I could do. And initially it seemed we were getting somewhere.

I discovered that I was having issues with oversupply, that is that my body was making too much milk. Reading the list of symptoms it explained so much of my problems and Little Man's feeding habits such as chomping down on the nipple, gagging and coming off the breast at the beginning of feeds, fussing and wanting to feed every half hour (to name just a few). So I started trying things such as block feeding and putting Little Man into a 3 hourly routine rather than letting him feed on demand. And it did feel like things were getting better as I only had two blocked ducts in a fortnight.

Then things got worse again. I got a terrible blocked duct that would not clear for about 12 hours. I don't think it fully cleared anyway because I was in agony every time I fed that week. It brought me to tears, I dreaded feeding him, I bit my lip the whole time he was feeding, and that wasn't all… I also had throbbing pain whenever he wasn't feeding. 

This led to more blocked ducts (or the same one, I don't know) which didn't clear for 2 days. Not only was I in agony but Little Man was screaming because every time I put him to the breast to try to clear the duct he was sucking for dear life but nothing was coming out… and he was hungry!!

One night in the midst of this last episode I decided enough was enough. Not only was I in pain, but Little Man was suffering too. I was having to give him formula anyway when I had blocked ducts that wouldn't clear during his feed and seeing as they were happening so regularly we were on our way to mixed feeding as it was.

And even worse than that was the fact that our relationship was being battered too. I no longer enjoyed feeding him, but felt like screaming whenever he latched on. I was cross that he took so long to feed when every suck felt like razor blades on my nipple. I wasn't sleeping because of the pain from the blocked ducts. I was crying for hours on end from the pain and frustration of it all. And Little Man wasn't getting the best of me. Nor was TJ.

That was when I realised that I didn't want to remember these early days with him in this way. So I decided to switch to formula feeding. I am sad that breastfeeding hasn't worked out the way I hoped. I resent the fact that yet again my body isn't working as it was meant to. But I do NOT feel guilty. And I never will, because I know I am doing this for Little Man as much as I am doing it for me. He needs a happy, strong and healthy mama to love him, not one who puts the pressure to breastfeed above the desire to be the best person she can be for him. 

I feel lucky that I was able to breastfeed at all. Some women never get that chance. Yes, I had wanted to continue breastfeeding until he was weaned, but because I have to slowly switch over to formula by dropping just one feed every 3-5 days to avoid too many blocked ducts and mastitis, he will be over 3 months by the time he is on formula full time. And that is an achievement I am proud of. 

I know I have done everything possible to continue as long as I could. I didn't give up at the first sign of difficulty. I carried on as long as I could, trying strategies to overcome the problem by researching my options throroughly. And I am relieved to be making this change. It feels right to feed Little Man in a way I will enjoy rather than a way that brings me so much pain I dread feeding him. Already I enjoy the single formula feed I give him each day far more than the painful breastfeeds I do the rest of the day and I am looking forward to the time when every feed will be pleasureable once more.

So, I have enjoyed my breastfeeding journey. And it is with a certain amount of sadness that I say goodbye to it. But by ending it now I can hold on to those fond memories forever, unmarred by the pain of the past few weeks. 

Playing Catch Up

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Well hello everyone, long time no blog!

I took this photo ready to send out with our Christmas cards this year and it suddenly hit me how very fast time is flying by now Little Man is here. This year seems to have dragged by with the pregnancy but now it is over it is really whizzing by and I suddenly find I haven’t blogged for so very long and have so very much to tell you. So please excuse the bullet points, but it is the only way I will ever catch up!

  • Little Man is now 9 weeks old. He had his first set of vaccinations last week, which went well. But he had a cold prior to them which made his usual snottiness even worse, so he hasn’t felt all that happy at times this past week. But we’re still getting smiles at the photo above proves 🙂
  • We’ve started trying to move from feeding on demand to a routine of feeding every 3 hours now and he is taking to it really well. I was reluctant to put him into a set routine too early but actually he seems to be happier for it. As are we! Instead of fighting to get him to go to sleep by 1am and surviving on as little as 3 or 4 hours per night, he has suddenly started being put to bed between 8 and 9pm and falling asleep within the hour, only to wake us between 1am and 3am for a feed, and then going back to sleep again until 5 or 6am. This feels like a miracle!
  • I am still getting the odd blocked duct, some which clear relatively easy with a bit of persuasion and some which still take hours to clear and one that we even had to burst the milk blister to in order to clear (OUCH!) I very almost lost my will to continue and we were looking at changing to mixed feeding, but since bringing in the routine my supply seems to be settling a little bit more and I am hoping that in turn the blockd ducts will become less of an issue too…
  • I had my 6 week follow up from my tear at he hospital and my 8 week post-natal check with the GP and everything seems to be healing beautifully. I just had my bloods taken again to check that I am no longer anaemic and that my liver function has returned to normal after the cholestasis, and should hear about that within the next week.
  • I also have an appointment next Tuesday to meet with someone to discuss what happenend during my pregnancy and to talk through the emotional implications of that. I am looking forward to that as it will be good to discuss it with someone who is there just to listen.
  • I have now been to a couple of breastfeeding cafes here and have to say I enjoy getting out and meeting new mums. So I am now on the lookout for more groups as I want Little Man to spend more time with babies his own age. I’m thinking music groups will be perfect as the boy just loves to be sung to.
  • Incidentally, there was a lady at yesterday’s group who had her baby 8 days late and she only wighed 6lbs something… she looked so tiny and fragile compared to what Little Man did. But then again he was over 3lbs heavier at birth so I guess my perception of what newborns normally look like is a little bit “off”.

I am sure there were other things I wanted to tell you. In fact there are so many things I know I want to tell you but they would be much better in posts of their own. But I need to go shower now while Little Man is still sleeping. So I’ll try and catch up again soon!

A Grandad’s Love

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I absolutely adore this photo. Everything about it is just so beautiful. It was taken during over the weekend when Little Man and I went to stay at my parents so that I had help while TJ was working night shifts (and TJ could get sleep during the day ready for trying to stay awake and professional all night long!)

It was strange going away without TJ. And I won't even go into the uneasy feeling that hung around the pit of my stomach, ready to catch me out when a quiet moment crept up on me from time to time. I couldn't quite put my finger on why I felt so anxious in those moments, but I would be willing to bet it was because the last time I stayed there was the week leading up to my induction when I was feeling pretty darn rough and more than ready for the week to be over and my baby to be here. Let's be honest here, when you are told right at the very end of an extremely difficult pregnancy (just when you thought you were on the home straight and all the sickness was almost over) that you've developed yet another health issue that has been known to be a factor in stillbirth and so you need to be monitored and then induced, you can't help but feel rather more than a little bit anxious! And as I only stayed at my parents at one other time during my pregnancy, just after the sickness started to ease off a bit, it's no wonder my subconscious kept dragging up those intense feelings when I wasn't distracted by anything else. 

But this photo was taken during one of the (much more frequent) tender moments of the weekend, as my dad introduced his first grandchild to his garden. My dad loves gardening, and even does some as a volunteer now he is retired, so his garden is his pride and joy. So who better to share it with than the grandson he adores so very much? 

My pregnancy was traumatic not just for me but also for my husband and my parents. They were all just as terrified of something happening to Little Man as I was. So now that he is here we are all showering him with so much love and sharing all the wonderful things we have dreamed of sharing with him for so very long. 

When my dad came to visit me in the hospital the day after Little Man was born he told me that he was so proud of me and thanked me for giving him the grandson he never thought he would have. After all the problems I had experienced with Endometriosis, my dad had thought that we would be struck by infertility and that having a baby would be a dream we would never get to realise. The sheer amount of raw emotion in his eyes that day, the incredible love and pride he had for me and my son, was overwhelming. And so that is why I love this photo so very much, because it completely captures just how much this grandad loves and cherishes his grandson. 

I love you dad. Thank you for loving me and my son so very much xx

Emotional Fallout

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Hello, I'm 4 weeks old and I'm gorgeous!

I can't believe it has been 4 weeks since we met Little Man and already our life as a family of three feels so right that we cannot imagine it being any other way.

There are so many things I want to write about already, and yet it is the very fact that so much is happening in our lives that I want to write about that keeps me from writing. I am far too busy loving on my boy to get online to write these days. But I will be back soon as the things I want to write need to be written, if nothing more than to give me a record of all the things I'm thinking and feeling right now!

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One of the major things which I think will take several posts to cover, is the emotional fallout of the pregnancy I had. Whilst in it I couldn't wait for it to be over and the nightmare of how ill I was to pass. I never, ever wanted to be pregnant again and although that thought hurt me inside, I was too focussed on the physical to deal with the emotional side of things (not to mention that crying made me throw up!)

But now Little Man is here and I get to fall in love with every part of him more each day I realise just how big that is. I see his tiny toes and his attempts to smile and realise we won't do this again. And that hurts. I see my sister-in-law pregnant with her third child, looking forward to the new arrival with her first two children and realise Little Man will never get to experience the anticipation of a baby brother or sister. And it hurts. But more than that, when I look at him and know he was worth every second of being so ill I feel guilty for not being willing to do it again. But I can't. I don't want to put myself or TJ through that again. Nor do I want to miss out on several months of Little Man's life through being that ill again. And that really hurts.

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Deep down I know how incredibly blessed we were to fall pregnant and have a very healthy baby boy at the end of the pregnancy. Some people never get to live this dream. I will never forget that, but it doesn't stop the hurt.

And even without these aspects of the pregnancy experience I had there are still the remnants of sickness that remain 4 weeks later, the extreme exhaustion from being very ill for 9 months, and the fear surrounding both getting ill or falling pregnant again. There are certain foods I don't think I'll ever want to touch again. There are certain songs, tv programmes, and books that take me right back to the moments I listened to, watched or read them in an attempt to take my mind off how very sick I felt. And I have a feeling that certain times of the year will always remind me of my very worst days.

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Don't get me wrong: I am loving being a mum and I am spending most of my days with a massive grin on my face. But the emotional fallout is still there and it hits me at the strangest of times. I imagine it will take quite some time to work through it all and I am sure I will have a lot to write about in weeks to come. But for now I just wanted to note that although I am in heaven with my baby boy, there are these emotions that need to be recognised, honoured and faced and so it may take me a while to get back to regular blogging and I may even take to blogging several posts at a time if my mind needs to get several things sorted at some point. But whichever way it happens, I will keep writing and posting photos of my dear, sweet boy!

Thank you for reading xx

Sleepless nights and colic

From Mum's Camera 119

Little Man is now 2 weeks and 4 days old. It’s hard to believe that we’ve had him for less than 3 weeks because it feels like a lifetime ago that I gave birth to him. It’s also hard to believe that had I not been induced early I could still be pregnant!

I can’t imagine life without him. In fact we’ve felt really strange the past few nights as Little Man has slept in the spare room with my mum and going to bed without him is really hard, despite the fact we are eternally grateful for the chance to catch up on some sleep.

One Day asked recently how life was going, particularly in terms of feeding and sleeping. Well I can safely say feeding is going well. On Monday he was up to 9lbs 11oz and he is now latching on well to the breast as well as accepting expressed milk through a bottle (meaning I get to sleep at least some of the night!) My milk supply is strong and I often spring leaks as the most inopportune times. I have to wear two breastpads on each side at a time and change them regularly. And Little Man and I have often both been soaked by one side leaking as I feed him from the other side. And when I express I can get between 2 and 4oz and still go on to feed him. So feeding wise we have no worries…

Sleeping is another matter though. Since coming home Little Man has rarely slept for more than 2 hours at a time and more often than not wakes up every half hour or so. He is as exhausted as we are, but unfortunately he is suffering from both terrible colic and a really congested nose. He has been mucousy since birth and rarely burps and has never spit up, not even the tiniest bit, but he gets so gassy and so ends up in terrible pain. It is horrible to see his knees pull up and his face go red and to hear him scream and know there isn’t anything more we can do. We are trying everything but it just doesn’t help him clear the gas.

We actually took him to the doctor yesterday as we were concerned that it wasn’t clearing and that he was struggling to breathe when laid on his back, which is of course how you’re supposed to lay them to sleep. He is a really strong boy already though and we often ended up taking him into our bed to try and comfort him through the night and although we’d lay him on his back, he would quickly roll onto his side to snuggle closer to us. The doctor listened to his chest and reassured us his chest is clear, but prescribed some saline nasal drops to try and clear the congestion in his nose. She explained that his colic is most likely caused by him taking in air when feeding because he just cannot breathe properly and so comes off the breast several times each feed and gasps and then gulps the milk down when he can. So we’re hoping these drops might help. We’re also hoping he’ll stop gagging on the mucus too if he can finally clear it!

So the first few weeks of parenthood have been full of sleepless nights and trying to soothe a baby in pain. But it has also been filled with many sweet moments as Little Man becomes more alert and observant by the day. He loves being sung to, he adores kisses and cuddles, and when he is awake he spends ages just gazing around at all the new things he can see. It is so adorable and I fall a little bit more in love with him every single day.

I’ll be back next week with some more updates, but for now I’m looking forward to TJ finishing his first week back at work and relishing in the fact that we planned his annual leave so well that he now has 9 days off with us to spend chilling and enjoying being our small family of 3. So I’ll leave you with just a couple more photos of my sweet, sweet boy, because who could resist his gorgeous face?

From Mum's Camera 095

Sleeping with Grandad

From Mum's Camera 120

Having a good old look around the room

From Mum's Camera 123

Snuggled up under the blanket mama made him 🙂

Baby Love

I thought you might like to see some more photos of our darling boy. After all, he may only be 11 days old but already he is changing and the beginnings of a personality starting to shine through.

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Like this face which I like to name the “I hear mama, mama means milk… mmmmm, milk!” look. No longer happy cuddling daddy or sucking his thumb, he’ll suddenly pop his head up and look at me as if to say “come on mama, hurry it up!”

I’m not sure how many of you would have watched Doctor Who last Saturday, but for those of you who didn’t I want to tell you how much the episode made me laugh and made me cry. The funny part was the baby who not only told the Doctor (who can, of course, understand babies, you know) his name was “Stormageddon” but also called his mama “mummy” and everyone else, including his dad, “not mummy”.

TJ decided that this was far too cool not to play with and so gave Little Man the name Lord Chronos in honour of both Doctor Who and the fact that Little Man really is the lord of all time in our house right now! And, of course, TJ also now calls me “milk” and himself “not-milk”. Let’s be fair, that is what the distinction between us comes down to right now, isn’t it?

Of course, being hormonally post-natal, I ended up crying buckets by the end of the episode as the baby’s father fought beyond the odds to save his son. It made me cry to think of the strength of a parent’s love for his or her child, and it also made me realise how big a responsibility we have taken on in bringing Little Man into the world. Isn’t it funny how even light entertainment can get you going just after giving birth!

But that’s enough rambling from me, let’s get back to some photos of my gorgeous boy…

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This is another one of his “looks”. My little boy hates to be flat on his back and particularly dislikes having his nappy changed (although he no longer screams every time we do it) But even with him starting to chill out a bit more on the changing mat, he can’t help but give me a look as if to say, “come on, mama, it’s cold down here. Stop messing around and pick me up already!”

What can I say? The boy is just too delicious and I have the camera on hand almost every single moment of the day to capture sweet moments like this.

And, yes, I promptly picked him up after that photo was taken and cuddled him for hours.

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But I’m not the only one having cuddles with my sweet boy. Oh no, I have to share him. Not that I mind. The boy is just too beautiful not to share with family and friends. He still has a lot of people to meet (he is only 11 days old, after all) but he is getting so used to being well loved that he hates to be put down.

I already have what feels like a million photos of daddy loving on his baby boy, but this one has to be my absolute favourite so far. Just look at the look of sheer bliss on daddy’s face. It makes me fall in love with my husband more and more every day, even when I think I couldn’t love him any more.

My two boys… I have so many years of joy ahead with them.

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But for now I’ll leave you chilling like my little man here, because mama needs a shower and then she wants more cuddles and snuggles with her baby.

I’ll be back soon with more updates.

Welcome Little Man!

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Tomorrow (25th) should have been my due date. But due to the cholestasis, I was induced a week early.

The above photo was taken on 17th, the day before my induction. TJ and I were on a last-chance attempt to kick things off naturally by going on a ridiculously long walk and bouncing up and down on the see-saw at the park. Not an easy feat with a massive bump, I can tell you!

So Sunday 18th we went to the hospital at 8am for monitoring, and they began my induction at 9am with a low dose of prostin gel. It wasn't long before I was getting "tightenings" every 3 mins approximately, which continued throughout the day. However I was stuck at 2cm dilated for hours. 

A couple of baths, a couple of paracetamol, and lots of moving around helped with the pain but as the evening drew in I began to feel really sick. TJ went home at 8pm and throughout the night it became obvious that things were not quite going as well as they could. I was still dilating and eventually reached 5cm by about 5am, but I had also developed very high blood pressure, my heart rate was so fast they couldn't tell if the monitor was picking up mine or baby's heartbeat and I had ketones in my urine. So I was hooked up to a monitor and a drip and finally sent to the labour ward for them to break my waters and get things moving quicker.

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This is just after I'd had my waters broken and before things got really intense. TJ wanted to show how many things I was hooked up to at this point. It made moving into comfortable positions difficult and once my waters were broken and the contractions coming thick and fast I started to lose control.

Everyone had been commenting up until this point how calm I was and how they found it hard to believe I had been contracting regularly and reached 5cm dilated plus feeling so sick from the way my body was reacting to the labour with having only taken a couple of paracetamol. And I had quite reasonably replied that the intensity of the pain was no worse than what I got with my periods thanks to Endometriosis and that I had been to work in worse pain than this. However, with the added pressure of baby's head finally descending fully into the pelvis and the loss of the calmer moments between contractions this soon changed!

I quickly agreed to a half dose of diamorphine thinking there was no way I could face another 12 hours being as exhausted as I was. I was slightly put out by the midwife's comments that "labour is hard" in a sort of "what do you expect" kind of way. But she was good enough to suggest a dose of anti-emetic intravenously through my drip to help ease the side effects of the diamorphine and that a lower dose should be easier to cope with.

TJ says it was like my whole body sighed when it started to kick in, but all I remember is saying "I feel really woozy, I'm going to lie down now" and crawling onto the bed. I never thought I would labour lying down, but it was truly the only way I could cope and actually it worked to my benefit. Within 2 and a half hours I had dilated the final 5cm and although the diamorphine did nothing for the pain, it did help me drift off between contractions and so I had no idea of time passing. So I relaxed and my body took over and before I knew it every time I "woke up" to a contraction my body was pushing all on its own. 

The midwife, though later telling me that I had been considered the lady least likely to deliver that day, was thrilled to see this and a quick examination showed I was ready. So I sat up to try and give birth but the urge to push disappeared. Two or three contractions later I decided to lay back down on my side and suddenly my body was pushing all on its own accord again. 

It took an hour of pushing (though it felt much shorter to me because I was still drifting off between contractions) to give birth to my boy. I remember vague things like the midwife teasing TJ about pushing along with me and her telling me she could see the head, but mostly I was just aware of letting my body do the work and not thinking too much about it. In fact I was so "in the zone" that when the midwife suddenly said "look down" and I saw my baby had been born I couldn't quite believe it!

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Little Man (OJD) was born at 11.27am on Monday 19th September weighing a hefty 9lbs 6oz. Nobody could quite believe I had carried and given birth to such a big baby as I am only small myself, but here he was. Proof that no matter how sick I was throughout the pregnancy, my body had done an excellent job of providing my baby with all he needed. 

Unfortunately, I was advised to have a managed third stage because of the risk of excessive bleeding from the cholestasis and I ended up surviving the labour without being sick but then throwing up for quite some time after the birth thanks to the injection they use to get the placenta to deliver. So between that and still being very dopey from the diamorphine, I missed a lot of the first few hours and TJ was left to enjoy the "skin-to-skin" contact as I dozed.

I also had to be taken to theatre for stitching as not only was Little Man a big boy, he also came out with his hand by his head and I ended up with a third degree tear. So that was another hour I missed with him. And because I had been given diamorphine, albeit a smaller dose than normal, so close to giving birth Little Man was very sleepy too. So we didn't do huge amounts of bonding that day.

However I had to stay in hospital until Wednesday, so we spent a lot of that time getting to know each other. And daddy joined in too whenever he was visiting, and spent a lot of time just enjoying "skin-to-skin" contact with the baby boy he fell in love with so totally. 

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We have been home since Wednesday afternoon and after a couple of very difficult nights when Little Man just wanted to feed constantly (which we think is his making up for not taking much over the first 24-36 hours) and my hormones going crazy and my milk coming in, we are finally starting to get to grips with being parents.

It is so different to anything I ever imagined. So precious. And so unbelievable that we have him here. 

I cannot even comprehend how my pregnancy created this beautiful boy. And I find myself blocking out the whole experience because I cannot emotionally connect the two things. I very often resented being pregnant, but I love my baby boy so much that my mind cannot find a way of accepting that the two are so closely interconnected. I find myself thinking "was it really that bad?" when I look at Little Man, but then I realise that it truly was while I was in it. It is as if I wasn't myself for 9 whole months and now I am me again, but a different me as now I am a mum.

I think it will take me a long time to come to terms with the pregnancy I had. But being a mum, well that is just the most beautiful thing I have ever experienced. And it is only day 5. I'm going to treasure every single moment as I know we won't ever be doing this again and it is just so exciting to know that our baby has the whole world to discover. Being a parent has been harder than we ever imagined already, but the love it gives us is so much bigger.

I'll be back soon with some more photos, but for now I just wanted to let you know he was here and I am enjoying all the cuddles I can get with him!