Blame it on the boogie 

On Friday night I went out with a three of my girl friends. We popped into the local wine bar and I had a lovely glass of bubbles. Much deserved and savoured! Over tapas and more wine (for them) we laughed and talked and laughed and gradually got louder and louder, as only a group of women can do. Luckily the bar held the sound pretty well so we weren’t echoing off the walls…too much! 

After dinner, the cry was to go a couple of doors down for a dance. Carl had text letting me know that Sam was still sleeping (with a photo of the monitor screen to prove it!) and told me to relax and have fun. Although I resisted the girls telling me to get a taxi home rather than drive, I did have pretty shoes on and pretty shoes need a dance floor!! 

Off we went, to find we were the only people in there. Who cares!? 4 girls and 1 dancefloor; we were happy. As we boogied away, I realised that it had been a long time since I last had a night like this. Even though I had a good dance at our Christmas party, I was 7 months pregnant and unable to bust out some of my best (worst) moved. I needed Friday. I didn’t even realise it until I was out and laughing and dancing with the girls.

To go out with people who knew me before I was pregnant, who I used to see all day every day and laugh with all the time…well, it made me feel wonderful. It was up there with Kate’s burlesque birthday party in the summer. 

Sometimes, as much as you adore your children, you need a couple of hours ‘off’ and to be ‘you’. Not so-and-so’s mum (or dad!). 

I wrapped up my night at about 11.30pm and set off home. 

Sam was fast asleep, but Carl’s evening had been tricky. He’d woken 15 minutes after I left and it was 2 hours before he settled again. Luckily, with Carl’s perseverance, patience, rocking, trying to put him down, hugs, offering the bottle, Sam had ‘eventually’ fallen asleep on his own. When he woke an hour later, he cried for a few minutes and fell asleep on his own again. 

This is very new. It happened for the first time on Thursday night when we’d left him for a couple of minutes before Carl went up to settle him…but Sam fell asleep before he opened the door. Maybe he is beginning to learn to fall asleep on his own, without us doing any ‘sleep training’, leaving him to cry or anything else. He’s 8 months old now and maybe he is simply starting to get it. 

Roll on December, when Carl and I have our Christmas party and a night out together…watch out dancefloor!! 

Go with the flow

We’ve had a difficult couple of nights. This week, we’ve started putting Sam into his cot at the start of the night but, surprisingly, this hasn’t bothered him. He seems quite content in his cot (provided we put him in it when he’s fast asleep…!!) and while he wakes up sooner than he does in our bed, he still sleeps up to 1.5 hours in it. Definitely a start…

What has caused disruption is my lack of ability to sleep well with him in the cot – that surely can’t be the right way round!? In our bed, I seemed to be able to sleep through his little noises and gurgles, only waking when he needed feeding. In the cot, every noise wakes me, just in case he has woken up and needs food. Sam is a noisy, fidgety sleeper (much like his parents!) so this is fairly frequent/constant. Night before last night, I was awake from 3-4.30am when I put him in his cot after a night feed, until he needed feeding again. Not quite what I’d intended! 

Last night. What can I say about last night. It felt like hell. Awake nearly all night feeding Sam until the early hours, then he was crying and seemed to be inconsolable. What was wrong? He was clean, fed, winded…what did we miss? Thinking he might be hungry, I fed him again…he ate…and then threw it all up, all over me. Not that then. 

After 1.5 hours of us alternating trying to settle him, I went to sleep – on the edge of a breakdown – and Carl figured it out. Sam was cold. He wrapped a blanket round him while walking round and he fell asleep straight away. He must have fed just for the comfort and maybe to be warmer in our bed, making himself feel better about being chilly. 

We’ve always kept him wrapped in a blanket, but this week we’ve become a bit remiss. Thinking it’s getting warmer, we haven’t been quite so vigilant and after a window being open for 2 days (although the room door was shut) while we had work done, he must have become pretty chilled. Poor little man. I felt awful when I realised that was the reason for him being so sad. 

Today, he started the morning off by crying again, with my thinking a nervous breakdown was just round the corner. Fortunately, he was just hungry. So, I cancelled my plans and we spent the whole morning in bed with him feeding and us both catching up on sleep. Much needed. 

We became best friends again when he smiled and gurgled through his nappy change; melted my heart. 

I’m pretty dead on my feet, but I count it as an accomplishment that we made it downstairs at all today, both freshly dressed and he has fed and napped as he usually does. 

I’ve noticed he struggles more at night when he doesn’t cluster feed in the evenings – he hasn’t done this for the last 2 nights…coincidence!? – so hopefully we’ll return to this tonight. 

While I look forward to him out growing cluster feeding, it helps him at night so I will embrace it for now! 

Sometimes plans need cancelling, sometimes a morning will be spent in bed. Sometimes you will feel like a terrible mother and like you can’t handle it anymore. You can. You just need someone to remind you of that, like Carl did for me today. Thank goodness for him. 

Here’s to a better night tonight. 

Hormones 

To say your hormones go crazy after giving birth is an understatement! My first real experience of this was the ‘day 3 hormones‘. This is the day that most women’s milk starts to kick in and consequently your hormones go wild. From feeling fairly rational and like I was handling motherhood, I suddenly spent the best part of 24 hours crying and feeling (and looking) like I was in a mental institution. Being in hospital in a bed surrounded by curtains didn’t help this feeling as I sat huddled on the bed, tears rolling down my face…for no apparent reason. 

Fortunately, the midwives and nurses are well used to this and, when seeing me, calmly stated that these hormones hit nearly everyone at some point between day 3 and 5 and it was totally normal. It didn’t make it any easier for me or for Carl, who went to get lunch one day and returned to find me silently crying into my lunch, but it made it ok to cry. You’re specifically told not to try and keep it in…which is helpful because I really did need to cry it out, even though I didn’t really know what I was crying about, other than feeling overwhelmed.  

Then we get to yesterday. After a long night of 2 hourly feeds, I was exhausted and ended up having another cry about feeling overwhelmed. This is normal

In the evening, I looked at my Facebook profile picture of Samuel at 12 or so hours old and then gazed down at his sleeping face, content after a feed. It hit me that he has already changed and will never look like that 12 hour old newborn again (now he’s the grand old age of 13 days…) and this realisation made me well up and cry for the tiny baby I already miss! This is a bit mental

I’ve realised that although hospital time was hard, I did like the closeness Samuel and I had; he would sleep on me skin to skin every night and we would bond, while Carl could bond by helping with feeds and naps during the day. Since switching to breastfeeding and coming home, I feel more like a milk machine and that Carl gets the lovely nap time cuddles…but I realise that this is just my tiredness and hormones speaking. Although, after a night of almost no sleep last night since he decided to feed almost constantly, I struggled to feel rational about being a dairy cow this morning. Fortunately, we’ve had some lovely cuddles today which will hopefully keep me smiling during whatever tonight has to offer…

It will get easier, but this is a huge period of adjustment for all 3 of us. In the meantime, I need to remember that the best remedy to my occasional tears is really simple – a shower followed by a big hug from Carl. It’s amazing how much better it makes you feel. 

Breastfeeding battles

As I sit here, typing with one hand, one leg crossed under me, the other (after 15 mins of veeeery careful manoeuvring) out in front, feeding pillow wrapped round me and a baby enjoying the longest feed known to man, I have a chance to reflect on how different the story was only 2 days ago.

Samuel was not a natural at breastfeeding. The first night in hospital, we succeeded only with the help of a midwife. He struggled throughout the next day, only managing to latch for a full feed once (with plenty of midwife help again). Over the 4 days in hospital, he showed us that he was more than capable, but just seemed a bit lazy. He would latch, suck once or twice and then get so over excited or worked up that he would bob around too much to sustain the contact and before long it was as if the world had ended.

By Monday, the midwives were concerned at the amount of food he was taking in, even though I was by now hand expressing and feeding him from a syringe. Fortunately, I was able to start properly expressing early which meant that I could feed him breastmilk even when he wouldn’t take the breast. It was disheartening having to reach for the electric pump every 3 hours when he was clearly able to feed for himself, but we told ourselves that he would get there in his own time. We would always put him to the breast first but move on before he started getting stressed.

After a day of trying to feed him – fairly unsuccessfully – from a cup, we switched to a bottle and suddenly he was gulping down as much milk and formula as we could offer him.

Fast forward to Thursday. After a day at home, I was considerably more relaxed about everything and still offering him the breast every time. On Thursday morning, while I changed his nappy, Carl popped his finger in Samuel’s mouth for him to suck. After, I offered again….and he immediately latched for a few mouthfuls. Feeling positive, we fed him the expressed milk as usual and hoped that we were moving forward. At the next feed, Carl gave him his finger again and, this time when offered, he latched on for a 20 minute feed! He had no interest in the left breast, accepting only the right as a feeding station, but breastfed for the next 4 feeds (always sucking a finger first) – with us topping up with formula since I don’t have enough milk yet to satisfy his growing appetite.

This morning…he took the left. Not for long, but I was so encouraged before popping him back on the right. It seems he enjoys cluster feeding in the morning so only an hour later he was asking for more. Unsure of how much I had left due to the earlier feeds and then expressing after, I nonetheless offered him the right…where he proceeded to feed for over an hour…and then spent about 40 minutes on the left! Finally.

He proceeded to knock back over 100ml of formula after this, so I can conclude he wasn’t getting much milk from me, but at least he is getting there.

Here we sit as he slowly feeds away, presumably beginning his evening cluster feeds with me feeling so happy in the knowledge that Carl and I, as a team, are working it out and succeeding. The next step will be getting him to feed through nursing clothes so I don’t have to strip down every time – not very sociable!

To those who are struggling, my only advice is take the pressure off and don’t get stressed. We know we have express milk and formula for the times he doesn’t latch or isn’t getting enough from me (hopefully my supply will pick up soon), so we aren’t worried. He put on 260g between Weds and Fri, so we know he’s getting enough food! Another 130g by Mon and he’s back to birth weight. His jaundice is lifting (more on that another time) and he’s happily feeding away, what more could I ask for.

What a week…welcome Samuel!

imageSorry for the long silence, it has been quite a week! We welcomed Samuel into the world at 20:00 last Friday – it’s hard to believe he’s nearly a week old already.

I’m delighted to report that we pretty much had the birth we were after, which I’m coming to realise is a rarity. The birth centre was unstaffed, but we nabbed the last room in the delivery suite with a pool, so I was happy…I only spent an hour and a half in it though! Things moved along very rapidly with the aid of the pool and gas & air and, only 4 hours after arriving at Epsom, we had Samuel in our arms.

Despite the straightforward delivery, we unfortunately had a 4 day hospital stay and didn’t arrive home until Wednesday afternoon. Poor little Sam had jaundice, so this had to be monitored and eventually treated with 24 hours in a uv blanket to bring his levels down.

Now we’re home it already seems like a distant memory, but there were times that I felt like I was going mad – it’s hard not being allowed to go home (or outside – apparently it snowed one day!?), especially since Carl couldn’t stay over, meaning I had an 11-12 hour stint on my own each night. Fortunately, the slightly elongated stay meant that we made friends with other couples on the ward who were also being kept in and we all supported each other. Carl, as always, was just phenomenal. My constant support and rock through the ‘day 3 hormones’ and moments when I felt overwhelmed.

I intend to go through bits of our stay during further blog posts and the (minor) issues we faced and had to deal with during this time. My thanks go to all of the midwives, nurses and students at Epsom; they were just fantastic and unendingly supportive.

So…now the hard work begins!!

On-going support

imageOne of the most important things you can have during pregnancy is a support network; from your partner, friends, family, or whoever you would turn to… On the hard days they will be the people who pick you up again. On the good days, they’ll be the ones you want to tell.

A major positive we gained from our NCT classes was that additional support group. We all knew what the others were going through and had the same questions. Now that a few of the group have had their babies, we all get together weekly for lunch to have baby cuddles and spend hours chatting about any and everything.

Jude, as our teacher, was (and is) a great resource of information and encouragement. We bumped into her today and her continuing positivity, advice and upbeat personality was – as ever – incredibly helpful. She is always happy for us to call or email with concerns or for advice; she has gone above and beyond what I expected to gain from an NCT teacher.

No matter what sort of pregnancy you have, make sure you surround yourself with people you can talk to. I mentioned making pregnant friends where possible in an earlier blog post, which is also worth reading: ‘Make pregnant friends…who are due both before and after you‘.

For more information on NCT classes, see my earlier blog post ‘To NCT or not to NCT…that is the question‘ and the official NCT website, along with Jude’s page.

Being sensitive of due dates

imageDid you know that only 3-4% of babies are actually born on their due date? I’m of the opinion that parents-to-be should be given a due week or even month…! It’s always a guess (albeit an educated one) by the health professionals and most babies don’t get the memo about when they’re expected!

Whenever friends of mine reach their due date, I pretty much leave them alone until I receive news that their little one has been born. It’s not that I don’t care or that I’m not thinking of them; I am simply aware that they will have many people asking if there is news or how they’re getting on. I’ve always imagined this can be pretty frustrating. Now I’m very nearly in that position myself, I believe it could be pretty soul destroying (a direct quote from a friend who was 9 days overdue). Pregnancy lasts a long time and most women (and men!) are more than ready to meet their baby by the time their due date rolls around.

So, my advice (and plea) to my friends is as follows… I know you’re thinking of us and we know you want to hear positive news, but we would really appreciate it if you held off the ‘any update?’ texts tomorrow… When we have news, we’ll shout it from the rooftops. If I don’t reply immediately to a message, this is likely because I’m fairly terrible at replying, so no need to start speculating! Have no doubt, we’re very keen to announce news…so just bear with us until Bud decides to show up.

Thank you for all of your support, just remember we have up to another 2 weeks to go so just say hi or let us know what you’re up to!

Do what you feel is right for you

38 weeks

38 weeks

Now just over 38 weeks, we had a midwife appointment booked for tomorrow. However, after our uninspiring visit last time (when we were wrongly told our baby was Breech and sent for a scan she hadn’t actually booked us in for), we were less than keen to see her again.

I spoke to the wonderful Jude (our NCT teacher) who calmed me after the whole fiasco and advised that we go with what we feel is right. After a great deal of thought – since all the appointments are drummed into you – we have cancelled. Bud is still happily moving around, I feel fine and I will be straight on the phone to the hospital if I have any queries.

Yes, I’ve heard that movements aren’t everything, obviously the heartbeat is checked too along with measurements, but we have decided to go with our instincts. With (in theory) less than 2 weeks to go, if I feel that anything is amiss, we will be straight on the phone or heading to hospital. We are ready. Missing an appointment and (probably) a large amount of stress will not affect our baby’s health. I’m not the only person to have had these exact issues with this same midwife, so I don’t think it’s beyond the realms of possibility that tomorrow’s appointment will be a repeat of the 36 week one. Bud is in the same position, for one!

Do what you feel is right for you.

Disclaimer: My post ‘Nearly into the breech’ created quite a discussion on my opinion of midwives, so I feel I should point this out…

I am not knocking midwives in any way, shape or form. This one specific midwife just fills us with doubts and her ‘bedside manner’ leaves a lot to be desired. I have the upmost faith in midwives, or I wouldn’t be hoping to make use of the midwife-led birth centre at Epsom.

The importance of women

For the last couple of days I have been surrounded by my girls. Aside from those hours being full of tea and giggles, this female time is crucial.

Yesterday, a friend popped round for a cuppa and, amazingly, brought lemon drizzle cake with her!! In the evening, I saw another friend for dinner with her and her daughters. Today, I set off to London for lunch with a school friend and her adorable 1 year old son. Tomorrow morning one of my besties is coming round.

Light reading at lunch - I read a whole book today!

Light reading at lunch – I read a whole book today!

Aside from simply enjoying female company (makes a change from talking to our – male – cats all day), a change of scenery is good for the soul. However, when that scenery is also filled with laughter, a healthy dose of catch up ‘gossip’ and women who all have children so are full of knowledge yet refrain from giving advice, I forget how tired I am and feel like I’m more than a nearly 37-weeks pregnant woman who bears a passing resemblance to a whale! At lunch today I genuinely forgot I was pregnant and tired for a while, wholly enjoying watching my friend’s 1 year old entertain both himself and us throughout the meal.

Once habits are set, the control freak in me will continue with them. Routine is my friend! So I am making time for my friends and making the effort to visit them where possible, in the hope that after Bud is born I will remember how wonderful getting out of the house is and how friends make me laugh and will be happy to help me out!

Plus, they bring or make cake!

Gender guesses and why parents-to-be should be spared them

We’re waiting for a surprise. We’re on ‘Team Yellow’.

However you choose to phrase it, we don’t know the sex of the baby.

36 week bump

36 week bump

Not many of my friends have had babies but, whenever I’ve seen someone pregnant, it has never crossed my mind to either hazard a guess at the gender of their baby or to ask if they know what they’re having. If the couple wanted me to know, they would share. Maybe I’m old fashioned that way!

This isn’t to say I necessarily mind the inevitable guesses – I’m continually amused to see that there is generally a (wait for it…) 50/50 split in the predictions (shock!) – most of the time it doesn’t bother me. However, there are some people who I just ‘know’ that, if their guess is right, will be all “Yeah, I knew that”…and that drives me crazy. It almost makes me think that if we have another, we should find out the sex simply so we can say “Yes, we know. No, we aren’t telling” and maybe we’ll be left alone. (FYI, this is a terrible reason to find out).

My advice to non-parents or people who need to be right (you do know if you’re one of them!)…keep your guesses to yourself and, when the baby is born, be pleased for the new parents, with no mention of whether you were ‘right’ or not. The parents have just been through labour and are likely completely overwhelmed with their new addition.

With only 4 weeks to go, we’re likely more curious than anyone and going round in circles about names, decorating decisions and the like. Let us enjoy these final weeks of the unknown, and then be pleased for us once we have our baby in our arms and announce the news.