Saturday, 22 February 2014

My Birth Story

You may remember that Forrest was overdue, in fact he arrived exactly a week after my due date. Every night that week I'd gone to bed thinking 'could this be the night it all kicks off?' And every night I'd thought 'nope. I feel exactly the same.' I was really looking forward to the birth - I know that sounds odd and I put it down to the hypnotherapy I'd been doing. I was so, so excited for the experience and felt more than ready

I woke up for my usual 3am wee that Friday night and dragged myself half out of bed (no mean feat when you have SPD and are the size of a whale) As I sat there on the edge of the bed, looking out of the window and psyching myself up to heave myself off the bed, I must have dropped off again. Next thing I knew, my eyes flew open as I felt a weird popping sensation as my waters went. My midwife had told me at my last appointment 'you've got a lot of waters, don't be surprised if they go like a tidal wave' and she wasn't wrong! I sent up silent thanks that I'd had the foresight to buy a waterproof sheet!

'Matt', I said urgently, and he sat bolt upright in bed.
'My waters have gone'
'Right, I'm ready!'

He jumped out of bed, grabbed me a towel and helped me to the bathroom. Then we went downstairs and had a cup of tea with the dogs, put the bed sheet in the wash and divided up the chocolate brownies I'd made earlier into freezable portions. As if nothing much was happening. Then we went back to bed. It seems ridiculous now! As we lay in the dark it dawned on me that perhaps I should be doing something. I'd been told all the way through my pregnancy to stay at home as long as possible as first labours are notoriously slow and not to ring the unit until my contractions were five minutes apart and lasting a minute. There'd been no mention of waters breaking. I consulted Dr Google and decided to call the unit. The midwife took all my details and asked if I'd had any contractions yet. I was about to say no when I felt a mild cramp-like ache in my lower back. 'Actually, I think this might be one now' I told the midwife, who laughed and suggested we make our way to the unit so they could check me over and tell me if I was in labour or not. If not, they'd send me back home. It was 4.30am

We had a shower and I checked the hospital bag as the cramps started to get more defined with gaps inbetween, rather than being an occasional ache. I messaged my sister, my other birthing buddy 'Waters went at 3am. Going to hospital, I'll let you know if we're staying' By 5.30am we were in the truck and heading off through the morning mist to town. I was listening to my hypnotherapy on my iPod and felt quite certain that the cramps were contractions. Still manageable, but definitely contractions. I had a cloth sprinkled with Clary Sage essential oil and I inhaled it deeply to get me through each one, focussing on my breathing, relaxing my body. I called out to Matt when they began and ended and he timed them on the clock on the dashboard. It took us half an hour to get to the hospital and by the time we arrived they were three minutes apart and lasting well over a minute

We buzzed the door at the birthing unit at 6am and trundled in. Despite the fact that we'd had a tour only a few weeks earlier, neither of us could remember which floor my maternity team was on! So we ignored the lift and took the stairs so we could check all the names as we passed each floor. We found my team and were shown to a room. 'I want the pool if possible', I told the midwife as she took my notes. 'No chance', I was told, there's a lady in it already'. I had been dreading this but I actually handled it better than I expected. I felt extremely calm and still quite excited. This was what I'd been waiting for. I carried on inhaling my Clary Sage and the midwife examined me, exclaiming that I was 5cm dilated! I thought I'd misheard her

'So we're not going home?'
'You're not going anywhere, you're having a baby!'

We hadn't even brought my bags in from the truck as we'd been so sure we'd be sent home! Matt went to get them while the midwife ran me a bath and I paced around the room, sniffing my Clary Sage and feeling rather proud of myself. I'd got to 5cm with no pain relief, climbed two flights of stairs whilst in established labour and still felt like I was in control!

When Matt got back I'd just announced to the midwife that I needed the loo and she'd replied 'are you sure? You're not going to christen this baby in the toilet are you??' I was sick a couple of times and then Matt and the midwife tried to manoeuvre me into the bath to take the edge off the contractions. I hadn't had a bath for months as my SPD had made it impossible for me to get in. They managed to get me in but I was soon out again, I just couldn't get comfortable. As I made my way out of the bathroom and over to the bed I was gripped by another contraction

'You were pushing with that one, weren't you??' demanded the midwife
'Um ... I think I might have been. I didn't try to, it just sort of happened on its own!'

She examined me again and announced that I was 10cm dilated and ready to have my baby. It was 6.30am - just two hours from my first contraction, which is virtually unheard of for first labours. I smiled beatifically and declared

'I think I'd like some pain relief now please'
'Oh no, it's too late for that. Now, with your next contraction I want a BIG PUSH!'

Dear God, I thought, it's really happening

'So it won't be long now?'
'Oh no. My shift finishes at 7am and you'll have a baby by then'

Half an hour I thought, I can do that. So with my next contraction I did as I was told and gave a big push. Unexpectedly, the push hurt my back. A lot. I've had problems with my back since I was 17 and one of the big areas of pain for me is my tailbone. As I pushed, I was pushing the baby's head against my tailbone and the pain was horrendous. Even so, I kept telling myself 'just half an hour, you can do it for half an hour and then it will be over'. My contractions weren't even a minute apart by this point and I just zoned out and went with it. I shut my eyes and entered another world, a world of darkness where the voices of the people in the room sounded very far away and seemed irrelevant to me. At some point I remember being vaguely aware of my sisters voice in the room. I opened my eyes to see her next to me

'You're doing so well!' she said, 'I'm so proud of you!' I'll remember the look of excitement and happiness on her face forever

I shut my eyes and carried on pushing. And pushing. And pushing some more. It became obvious that not a lot was happening and at about 8am the midwife introduced me to the next shift midwife so she could go home. The new midwife continued monitoring the baby's heartbeat every 15 minutes as things weren't progressing as quickly as they should and there was a danger that the baby could become distressed. And so it went on. And on. With every contraction the midwife assured me that I was nearly there and the next push would be The One. I tried changing positions but the pain was only bearable if I laid on the bed. Matt and my sister took a leg each and coached me through every push but I was exhausted. The midwife told me how well I was doing after every contraction but when I asked if the baby was moving she admitted it wasn't. I carried on but I was starting to think I needed help and uttered the fatal words ... 'I can't do it!' Which of course elicited shouts of 'you CAN do it, you ARE doing it, keep going, you're going to meet your baby soon!'. That didn't help at all to be honest, by that point I couldn't give a tinkers toot about my baby, I just wanted to know when it was going to be over. Finally I opened my eyes, turned to the midwife and said 'look at me. I'm serious. I can't move this baby and I NEED SOME HELP!'

She must have agreed because before long there were a lot more people in the room, I remember thinking how calm and serene they all looked compared to the chaos that seemed to have been going on in there for the last few hours. The consultant introduced me to the registrar and explained that they were going to need to get my baby out very soon and so the registrar was going to use a 'kiwi cup' ventouse, a kind of vacuum device which would be attached to the baby's head and used to pull the little blighter out as I pushed. I just nodded and begged them to get on with it. Frankly I was so relieved that I was getting some help and the end was in sight that they could have said they were going to hack off both my legs and I'd have agreed if it would make the pain stop. Two nurses manoeuvred my legs into stirrups and the registrar gave me two injections of local anaesthetic (so he says, I still maintain I felt everything!) and got to work. I'll spare you further details

So finally, after three long hours of pushing, our 7lb13 baby was born at 9.28am. Our warm, quiet little baby was placed onto my tummy, Matt cut the cord and I heard my sister say 'what is it, Matt? Is it a girl?' My heart sank a little because I was really hoping for a boy and I knew Matt was too. But I heard him sob 'it's a boy, we've got a boy!' and I felt joyous relief. I opened my eyes and looked down at our son - I couldn't believe he was finally here

Forrest was born with just one quiet little cry and spent his first minutes snuggled on my chest under a towel, looking around the room, wide eyed. He never had that squashed newborn look, everyone said he looked about a month old from the minute he was born. He did have a huge lump on his head and horrible bruising from the kiwi cup though. Matt was also very pleased to note that he wasn't 'covered in goo' and required no cleaning up at all! It turned out that he'd been in an awkward position - facing sideways and with one hand up by his face - which was why he got stuck (and caused a load of damage on the way out) Basically he entered the world like Superman!

As I mentioned in this post, the trauma of the birth took its toll on me, mentally and physically. Luckily I had primed Matt that if I needed surgery or similar, I wanted him to have immediate skin to skin contact with our baby instead of me. He was more than keen for this, he couldn't whip his t shirt off quick enough! I'll never forget the sight of him holding our minutes-old baby against his bare chest, I've never seen him look so happy. He gave him a formula feed and they gazed into each others eyes for the longest time

The ward was so busy that the midwife didn't have time to weigh and measure our baby straight away, nor did she put a nappy on him, just wrapped him in blankets. So an hour or so later he did his first poo on Matt's jeans! It was the Saturday before bonfire night so we spent his first night watching the fireworks out of the window of our room, cocooned in our new little world of three, tired and excited and wondering what the years ahead had in store for our family

If you've written your birth story, please leave a link in the comments as I love reading them!

Friday, 21 February 2014

Friday Round Up

first time in the big boy pushchair - perpetually muddy boots - birthday read
sunday morning scrub - afternoon snuggles - evening treat
jessie babysitting - uninterrupted lunch for me - discovering blogosphere magazine

instagram - madeupoflittlethings

It's been a really good week. Perhaps that's why I've found it easier to blog today? No one wants to write (or read) a jumbled, hastily written post about how the baby's not sleeping and I'm feeling really down, do they?

For the last two nights Forrest has slept through until 6.30am and 6am respectively. Long may it continue! He's sleeping more in the daytime too which seems to make him more cheerful and less whiney and demanding, a win-win situation I'm sure you'll agree. I think this may be contributing to the fact that I feel a bit more me again this week, a bit more my old self and a bit more on top of things

I finally managed to find the time to have a couple of lovely baths of an evening and use my Aromatherapy Associates birthday treat bath oil. It's literally bloody amazing. I have been a long term fan of Espa Restorative bath oil but this one may be my new favourite. Expect a review shortly! 

I've had my hair cut, about three inches off the ends and I'm now sporting a bit of a fringe again. It's slightly more high maintenance than I'd like but I look less severe with a fringe so it's worth the extra effort. I'm in the grip of postnatal hair loss at the minute, literally losing great handfuls every day and finding it everywhere around the house. I hope it slows down soon or there'll be nothing left. And I'm sick of it blocking the shower plughole!

Forrest had a couple of hours with his grandma yesterday afternoon so I took myself and my laptop off to a cafe to blog. Sadly the wifi wasn't working but I did have a delicious lunch and get to listen to a couple in their fifties on their first date after meeting online, which was a bit of an eye opener. I also had a call with my boss to discuss my return to work in October. I've asked for part time hours, two or three days per week and I'm just waiting for the verdict now ...

I've finally finished writing up my birth story today, that will go up in a couple of days and I've got some reviews coming up too, as well as a lovely giveaway. I'm excited about blogging again and I'm really over the moon to see that I've kept all of my readers - I expected to lose a good chunk once I started banging on about babies but it seems that I'm not as boring as I thought! I'm still very conscious of wanting this not to be a 'mummy blog' though and, whilst I'll keep you updated on Forrest's progress, this isn't going to become 'made up of baby things' !!

It's Matt's birthday today so we'll be celebrating tonight with a Chinese take away and copious amounts of Jack Daniels and Diet Coke


Thursday, 20 February 2014

'Sorry, what was I saying ...?'

I had so many ideas of things I wanted to blog about today. But I was cut short when the cafe I chose to escape to didn't have the free wifi they advertised

Now I'm sitting at the kitchen table, Matt is putting Forrest to bed and I'm free to blog. But, as happens so regularly these days, I have completely forgotten what I wanted to talk about. I've sacrificed my brain at the altar of motherhood

So here's a picture of a young partridge from the garden yesterday

You're welcome!

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

'They let you leave with a baby you know ...'

I'll never forget the night we brought Forrest home. Matt brought him into the house in his car seat and put him on the kitchen table whilst he went to get our bags out of the truck. I leaned over the car seat, gazing at our little baby and felt tears running down my face

'What's the matter?' asked Matt, alarmed
'I just love him so much!' I sobbed

It wasn't this way immediately, I'm afraid I didn't feel that 'rush of love' that people tell you about. The birth was quite traumatic and I was a bit shell shocked by it all, so when they plonked this warm, damp bundle on my belly I just felt relief that the ordeal was over. I had planned to try to breastfeed immediately but I just felt too traumatised and didn't want to be touched. So Matt whipped off his t shirt in order to have skin to skin contact with our baby and give him a formula feed whilst the registrar attended to the necessary, um, repairs

A bit later, after copious amounts of tea (I couldn't get enough, it tasted like the best tea on earth!) my sister helped me to the bathroom and into a warm bath where I asked 'did you feel it with Fin? That rush of love they all bang on about?' She smiled knowingly and promised I'd feel it soon, that I was just a bit overwhelmed at the minute and who could blame me?

But the next night when Matt and I sat with our unnamed baby in our kitchen, drinking champagne and wondering aloud what the future held for our newborn, I felt a rush of love so strong that it floored me. We'd been so stressed when leaving the hospital, we tried to dress our baby in a warm pram suit but he'd screamed bloody murder. Unused to such violent outpourings, especially from one so tiny, we abandoned that idea and popped him into the seat as he was, tucking him in with blankets. His tiny head lolled around and I wondered how he would fare on the journey home but to be honest, I was more concerned with how I would get myself into the truck

No one checked our tiny baby was safely installed in his seat before we left, no one checked that we knew what we were doing, had managed to change his nappies etc. No one showed us how to bath him or dress him. It felt so weird. I mean, he was our baby after all so it was our responsibility to learn these things but we hadn't a clue!

As the days went by and I dealt with the horrors of my post natal body, the pain of breast feeding, borderline postnatal depression and the shock of dealing with the 24/7 demands of a tiny, rage-filled dictator, it dawned on me that we were finding our way. I was making my own rules up as I went along. I had my own strong ideas on how to parent this vulnerable little human and I wasn't going to let anyone tell me differently. If he cried, I picked him up. People told me I'd spoil him, that I'd 'make a rod for my own back', that he needed to 'cry it out' sometimes. I'm pleased I didn't listen. The way I looked at it, my baby had only ever known the warm, dark security of my body. He'd never experienced light or loud noises, never known hunger, never been too hot or too cold. He'd never had to wear clothes against his delicate skin. He'd been gently held for nine months, tighter as he grew bigger, and now he was surrounded by space. He'd had a traumatic birth, being stuck for three hours and being dragged out of my body with a vacuum, leaving him bruised and with a huge lump on his head. I expected he was frightened and there was no way, no way at all, that I was going to abandon my frightened baby when he was calling out for me. 'Babies don't have reasoning skills', I thought, 'he's not trying to manipulate me'. So he got lots of cuddles, was held when he wanted to be, was swaddled when I laid him down to sleep and fed whenever he wanted it

I realised that I was parenting by following my instincts - who knew I had mothering instincts? I've continued the same way ever since and I still feel strongly that this is the right way for me. It's not right for everyone, I appreciate that. I know that many people prefer a routine to their day and I understand that - I fully expected that I'd be the same way. But when Forrest came along all of that went out of the window.  My first and most important role in life is being his mother and that means putting his needs before my own. Yes I get up and feed him in the night if he wakes up hungry. Why wouldn't I? How anyone can ignore a crying baby is beyond me. The way I see it, if my baby is crying it's because he needs something. Food, sleep, a cuddle - whatever it might be, it's my job to give him it

We have a night time routine which consists of a deep, warm bath, some baby massage and a warm bottle before swaddling him and popping him into his Moses basket in the nursery. If he doesn't seem close to sleep I read to him, or give him a cuddle to help him along. Nine times out of ten he is sound asleep by 7pm, giving us the rest of the evening to ourselves. During the day he naps when he's tired, feeds when he's hungry and comes along with me, whatever I'm doing. He plays on his play gym, has tummy time or sits in his bouncy chair watching me do housework (or dancing around the kitchen) We have little chats and cuddles, go for walks with the dogs, visit family, pop into town for some shopping. Nothing earth shattering but we're together all the time and if he needs something he gets it. Immediately. We have bad days of course, where he cries incessantly from 4pm until bedtime (we had one today in fact) but we also have great days where he'll nap plenty, eat plenty and go straight to sleep at bedtime. I just take the rough with the smooth and try not to get too down about the bad days

It saddens me to hear of babies in strict routines, whose mothers ignore their cries in order to 'train' them to fit in with their lives. Each to their own and all that but it just doesn't fit with my idea of being a mother

So I'll continue getting up to feed my baby in the night, continue complaining about how tired I am to anyone who'll listen, continue feeding him when he's hungry rather than when it suits me. Because I'm sure, absolutely sure, that it's the right thing to do for now. When he's a bit older he'll sleep alone in the nursery, his tummy will be able to cope with bigger gaps between feeds, he won't need so much body contact. But for now he's just a little baby so I think it's only fair to treat him as such

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