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Telling Our Only Child We Won’t Have Another Baby

So, this blog post is quite a tough one for me to write. But it’s also one I knew I would probably have to write at some point. Little Man is an Only Child, which is something I’ve written about a fair bit in the past. But we’ve never really had to talk about it with him before. I mean, he’s only just turned 5, it’s not a conversation that naturally occurs with a young child. Until today. Today we had to tell him we won’t ever have another baby. And that was unbelievably hard.

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It all started because we were watching Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (of all things). A character in the episode was giving birth and Little Man showed interest in what was happening. So TJ explained to him that babies grow in their mummy’s tummy and then mummy has to push them out. We’ve mentioned this in the past when talking about friends who were expecting, and we’ve even told him he grew in my tummy, but he never really questioned it before. So we didn’t really expect him to do so this time.

But just after the baby was born, he started telling us how cute the baby was. Again, this is nothing new – he often tells us how cute babies are whenever he sees one. (He does the same with kittens, but that’s another story!) But this time he seemed to fall into thoughtful silence. So I asked him, “do you think you’d like to be a daddy one day and have a baby?” And that’s when things got interesting.

Maybe a minute or two later he started pushing down on his belly towards his bottom and grimacing. I automatically asked him if his stomach hurt (as it was less than 24 hours since he had vomited with an upset stomach). But he said, “no mummy, I’m trying to push!” For a moment or two I had no idea what he meant, and then it suddenly dawned on me. “Are you trying to push a baby out of your belly?” The answer was a firm yes.

I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, it was one of those moments! My heart practically exploded at the adorable nature of his innocent misunderstanding of what we had told him. I explained that only ladies could grow babies in their tummies and so even when he was grown up he wouldn’t have a baby himself. But he could still be a daddy one day if he wanted to be. And I hoped that might end his confusion. Except I don’t think it was mere confusion, he really did seem to want a baby.

He started trying to pull my top undone to get to my belly, so he could push on that. So I had to explain to him that mummy doesn’t have a baby in her tummy. At which point I think my heart broke in two. As hard as it was for TJ and myself to decide never to have another baby, I always knew there might come a day when Little Man would show an interest in a brother or sister. And I knew it would be difficult to explain why we’d chosen that, not because it was the wrong choice but rather because it was a choice I desperately wish we’d never had to make.

I’d have loved nothing more than to be able to tell Little Man that mummy doesn’t have a baby in her tummy right now but one day she might. But I couldn’t. I had to explain to him that we won’t ever have another baby growing in mummy’s tummy. Only he got to grow in there when he was a baby. He turned to TJ and asked if he had a baby in his tummy, making us explain once again only ladies get to do that. She he turned back to me and said, “maybe there’s a tiny baby!” I told him I was sorry, but no there wasn’t even a tiny baby in there. “Maybe, as tiny as an ant!” he replied. Oh, my poor, broken heart!

There are many, many times when I wish things could have been different. When I see how much Little Man adores playing with other kids at the park or seeing his cousins. When he tells me how cute babies are, or says, “I hear a baby” and looks around for them when we’re out and about. And also when he takes such wonderful care of the numerous teddies and soft toys he takes to bed with him. He hates being alone, in fact his standard response when he can’t sleep or wakes in the night is “I’m lonely”. I wish, more than anything else, we could have expanded our family as I’m sure he’d have loved it.

But we can’t. It’s just not an option for us. It never was. But even in those early days I clung on to the idea that maybe one day we could still foster. I thought if Little Man showed an interest and seemed able to cope with the demands fostering puts on a family, maybe we could do it. But the reality is that I’m too sick to do that. It really is just going to be our little family of three.

And in many ways that’s alright. I love the dynamic we have and the fact that Little Man can have as much attention as he craves. Although, actually, he craves a LOT of attention – because he doesn’t like being alone, remember – so I’m not sure he’d agree he gets as much as he wants! But the point is, he has us all to himself. We’re busy parents, working and balancing our many health issues, and so we don’t have a lot of time and energy to spare. What we do have is all his. And that works for us.

So, yes, my heart feels fragile tonight. This whole thing has reminded me just how much my health has robbed from us, both in terms of not being able to have another baby and in terms of not even being able to think about fostering. But there’s nothing I can do about that. So I’m choosing to see the beauty in Little Man’s hope and interest in us having a baby as something we can cherish, even if we can’t make it come true for him. Because, if nothing else, it shows he is growing into a very loving little boy.

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

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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?

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Sleeping with Grandad

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Having a good old look around the room

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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!