Growing fast…

You know the feeling when you sit and look back through pictures of your little one, and marvel at how they went from this:


To this:


When I see newborn babies now I just think was EJ really that little ever? They are so small! And back then a 8kg, 7 month old baby seemed so huge, and heavy! It’s a good thing our arm muscles grow as our babies do!

Baby product related recommendations

With a sleeping baby on my lap (his favourite place to snooze and where he will sleep the longest), and typing one handed, I thought I’d start a post about baby things we’ve had that I’d recommend.

Top of the list is a Snugglbundl (http://www.snugglebundl.co.uk). Basically it’s like holding your baby in a bag. Swinging EJ in it was a great way to get him to sleep, and although he’s now just about too big for it, and too heavy for me to hold him in it, OH does still sometimes rock him in it if all other methods to get him to sleep fail.  When he was small it was also great for transferring him out of his car seat into the pushchair or into his cot, without waking him when he was asleep. Lying him in it in his Moses basket and tucking the sides under also made him feel secure and he slept better (there is a head support in it too that gives a padded bit around the top of his head).  A friend found hers invaluable after a c-section.


sock-ons …never have a sock fall off again! Enough said ūüėČ EJ has worn his almost every day.

Bravado nursing bras. Oh my goodness, they are just SO comfy. Once I had one I never wore my mothercare ones again and had to buy a second so I could have one on and one in the wash.

When EJ was little then I wished we had more of the crossover type vest tops (rather than over the head ones), they make nappy changing so much easier. Something like this: 


This one is from Polarn O Pryet, I love the ones they do!

We got a Mamas and Papas stargaze playmat – https://goo.gl/images/PWX1GK, and EJ has loved it. Initially I thought it could be too much.. Like do babies really need all the lights and music and wouldn’t he just get overstimulated, but it’s been fantastic, and you can of course just turn those off. He loved it from a few weeks old until probably 6 months, and we still use the mat part for play. We had to take the arch bits down as he was just getting destructive now and pulling them down all the time!

We do cloth bums in this house, and oh my goodness how much do I love the Frugi brand of organic cotton clothes, designed to be good on those slightly bigger bums! They have been a weakness in my middle-of-the-night-internet-shopping-whilst-nursing sprees. Sssshhh don’t tell the OH how much I end up spending at night! They also sell them over at Babipur.co.uk which is another favourite site of mine! I can’t wait to buy some of the wooden toys they have when EJ is older.

Well it’s many weeks later, and I’ve been managing a paragraph or two of this blog at a time, so I think I’m just going to go right ahead and post it, or else who knows how long it will take to get it out. I’m sure there are more things I could recommend, so maybe I’ll manage a part two in due course.

A-Z of new baby thoughts

One middle of the night weeks back whilst up doing a night feed, I started putting together an A-Z of new baby thoughts / motherhood (the things you think of doing in the wee hours! I was trying to avoid online shopping which was all too easy to do at the 2am witching hour!). This is what I got to.

A is for Adorable Baby, and needing lots of Advice

B is for Boobies (no brainier!). Also Bath time, Bedtime, hearing early morning Bird song (which I never did pre-birth.. Too fast asleep. Actually I always wondered if we even had any morning chorus here in town, so now I know we do!).

C is for Challenge, Crying (mostly baby, sometimes mummy Рparticularly during the early weeks baby blues). Also for Cloth bums (I love our Tots Bots nappies!).

D is for¬†Daddy time. As Ethan got older and those teeth get moving in the gums, it’s also for drool.

E – I couldn’t think of an E at the time. Now I would say enjoyable.

F¬†is for¬†Food.. In the first few months I just couldn’t get enough of it! I’d eat a full dinner and still feel starving.. I can still eat tons now but it’s not as bad. Also for Fun once baby gets to an age they start to interact and smile and laugh.

G is for¬†Google..a new mum’s constant friend! Of course sometimes we have to beware of dr Google too and it can cause more worry than good!

H is for the aforementioned Hunger. And needing Help.. Especially my mothers. Happiness.

I is for 1am internet shopping..and 2am, and 4am…

J is for the Joy of being a mother.

K¬† – another one I couldn’t think of at the time. Now I’d say for baby’s¬†Kicking legs!

L –¬†Love. Long days. Life changing. Gorgeous baby laughs.

M¬†is for¬†Milk, Midnight snacks, motherhood, Muslins (don’t under estimate how many you will need!), baby Massage.

N is for Nappies. Nursery rhymes. Nursery.

O is for Oats.. Because they are in flapjacks which was a good night time snack!

P¬†has to be for¬†Poo of course! ¬†I’d never have imagined how often adult conversation could be around poo when there is a new baby in the house! ¬†Also for Play dates and for how Precious your little one is to you.

Q is for Questions, and a lot of them!

R is for wishing for a Routine and how Relentless motherhood feels on a bad sleep deprived day.

S¬†is for¬†Sleep deprivation, I seriously never imagined I could survive on how little sleep I often get.. But somehow you find it within you. It’s also for Singing.. Which I do like 100 times more than I used to.. Making up songs as we go about our day in the house, singing as i push him in the buggy (yes I’m that crazy lady you’ve passed in the street!). It’s also for Snugglbundl which is like a cloth bag for carrying baby around and one of our top buys, it was so useful and I’m sad he’s now too big for it! Also S is for Snacks and Spit.

T is for¬†Tiredness like I’ve never known. Also Tears. And thankfulness that IVF eventually brought us our child.

U…hmmm..Uncle being a natural with his nephew

V….pass…

W¬†is for¬†Worry.. Am I doing it right? will baby be safe and well through his life? Etc. Also for Worthwhile, Walking (I do a lot of that with the buggy) and weight loss (I was back to pre- pregnancy weight within 2 months I’d say).

X..pass…

Y –¬†Yawning a lot!

Z.. Tell me if you think of one!

I’m still here!

You’d never guess from the amount I manage to blog that I love to write. Before EJ arrived it was hard as it was to find the time and now he’s here time is even less! Trouble is these days my writing time is generally only in the evening and is spent keeping an old fashioned pen and paper journal of how little EJ is doing each day, plus keeping up with my online buddies that I went through this last IVF cycle with (5 are currently now also pregnant at last which is fab). Once I’ve managed that I usually need to crash and sleep!  

Anyway, I just wanted to shout out that I was still alive, and that despite my last (a very long time ago) post about being overwhelmed, motherhood is for the most part fantastic. I love my happy little boy to bits and he’s now at such a lovely more fun age at 4 and a half months. Here is a picture of his handsomeness ūüėČ


I will endeavour to post again soon!

Overwhelming

(I’ve been trying to get this post finished and posted for weeks!!)

Overwhelming is the word that best sums up my early weeks of motherhood. Being a new first time mummy is hard. I feel kind of let down that no one, or anything I read, prepared me for how hard it would be. I mean don’t get me wrong, I knew it was going to be no walk in the park and wouldn’t be easy and I would be very tired, but I was not prepared for the reality of what that meant in practice.

The fact that you are exhausted from labour, even with my relatively short one, but never get any chance to even recover from that. My first night in hospital it was 1:3oam by the time we got to the ward and I so just needed to crash. They made OH leave as partners were not allowed to stay overnight. Little EJ (Ethan’s middle name is John) would not settle and I kept trying to feed him but he’d latch but not suck, despite being able to suck plenty fine on a finger! I kept ringing for help but they really weren’t much use just telling me to try again later etc.. Eventually at 4am someone helped me express colostrum and feed EJ via a syringe. When he eventually fell asleep about 2 hours later someone came to take his and my observations, and then came breakfast… Fat chance of any sleep!

Then through the first week the chances to sleep were slim, and in the first days also my adrenalin was still so high that I just couldn’t sleep for long. Once EJ slept for 5 hours and I went to bed pretty much as he went down.. But could I sleep at all?! Nope. I could just feel so much tension in my body. I did gradually relax bit by bit during the time I was resting, but I was also so annoyed that OH was fast asleep and I was missing out on the chance of a good length sleep. Then when finally you start to be able to sleep the night sweats hit you and you wake up in the middle of a sleep in a horrible icky wet mess! I had to sleep with a towel under me for about a week until the hormones calmed down and the sweats stopped. 5 weeks later I still haven’t had the chance to sleep more than a 4 hour stretch, which is hard for someone like me who really needs their sleep, but even 4 hours now seems like bliss and is more than some other mums I know are getting. Some only get a 2 hour sleep at a time.  You learn to adapt I guess as the lack of sleep feels easier to deal with now 5 weeks in.

But those early weeks It was tiredness like I’ve never felt before. I was just so tired I couldn’t take anything in. I’d look at a clock to note what time EJ started to feed, but then a while later would have no recollection of what it had been. People would tell me things but I just couldn’t retain any information. I just couldn’t deal with people asking my opinion or wanting me to make any decisions. I just could hardly think.

Then I was worrying that EJ wouldn’t breast feed. So for the first two days we were expressing colostrum and feeding by syringe. Thankfully OH was a dab hand at helping with all that and it did mean he could take EJ to feed him and let me rest. Thankfully at the end of day 2  EJ finally took the boob (I’d kept trying) and I think I just about cried with relief. Since then he hasn’t looked back, and touch wood I’ve had no breast feeding problems. Let’s hope that continues.

Then on top of the tiredness, and the worry about how on earth you manage looking after a newborn, your hormones go loopy. Thanks body.. Great timing!  I was just in tears so much. I just felt how on earth will I manage and had newfound respect for every single mother out there. Then I kept thinking ahead to things like, how will I manage on my own when OH goes back to work after paternity leave.. The fact that already I really need to think about and sort out childcare for when I go back to work next January etc.. OH had to tell me to just stop thinking ahead, just take an hour at a time, and that’s what I had to do to get through that first week.  That would be my top tip for new mum’s.. Don’t think past an hour or two ahead.. Let someone else do that, you just concentrate on the now. 

Even once the totally overwhelmed in a bad way passed, then I was hit by being overwhelmed in a good way! I was in floods of tears over how much I loved my son, and that I would love him for as much of his whole life that I’m still here for. Somehow that thought just really gets me, and can make me well up even now.

Day 2 I was in such a mess that then my mum came the next day and stayed for 3 days. Just to have her there was a help, to ask questions of, and she’d cook for us, and just be a moral support. She tried to stay in the background as much as possible and let OH and I have family bonding time with EJ. Originally we planned to really have the first 2 weeks with a baby just our little family, with hardly any visitors, and it was initially hard for OH to agree to my mum coming, but in the end he really appreciated it too. I think that’s my next tip, don’t underestimate how much another female in the house can help. It has to be the right sort of person mind you.. Having OH’s mum here for example would not have been the same help at all!  I know a friend of mine had her best friend fulfill the same role and it really helped her too. 

It’s now the end of week 5 and I really need to wrap this up and get it posted. I think the last two things I wanted to say about the early weeks were firstly that I’m sure my age didn’t help. I still feel young at 38 but I know I don’t cope as well with lack of sleep than I did when I was younger. Secondly related to this, I have 17 years of being used to office routines (and I’m a routine kinda gal,), and being busy all the time and achieving a lot each day.. To suddenly be thrown into the unknown world of mummyhood, with no routines, and where an achievement is just getting showered and dressed before lunch, or managing to put a load of washing on, well that’s a hard adjustment after all this time. Really hard. I’m still dealing with it. Of course my achievement every day now has to be thought of in terms of I fed my son, I changed his nappies,  I got him to sleep (him.. Well sometimes.. More on that in another blog), I generally looked after his well being and kept him alive! 

Reading back the start of this blog, written weeks ago, I think the reason people don’t tell you how hard it is, is because those memories fade to a certain extent. Even now I just recall it in a more abstract way. And of course I hasten to add it is all totally worth it, to have this bundle of cuteness in our lives, who brings us so much joy every day. I’m still in awe of the miracle that he is, and feel so grateful and blessed that we have him. 

So I’ll end this with just a big RESPECT to all you mum’s out there, you are fabulous and do an amazing job every day!

The induction

So I was originally going to be induced on Friday 19th February, and had to be at hospital for 11, but we were half way there when I got a call to say that they were going to have to move us to Saturday as they had some higher priority cases. They said to still come in though as they would monitor baby for a bit, and I asked if they could give me a second membrane sweep too. OH was pretty hacked off with the situation, I think because he was so psyched up for it all about to happen. I on the other hand didn’t mind. I figured everything happens for a reason and maybe my boy needed another day inside me, or maybe a second membrane sweep would bring things along naturally. 

So we got there and got connected up to monitor baby’s heartbeat and the level of my contractions. Then a midwife came to do the membrane sweep and oh my goodness how uncomfortable was that! The membrane sweep on Tuesday had not been too bad at all. This was 10 times worse, and then it turned out she couldn’t do the sweep at all as my cervix was too tight and not even 1cm dilated. Very confusing.. Did this mean things regressed since Tuesday, or did they not do it correctly on Tuesday at all? We then went home and chilled for the afternoon. 

Saturday we had to be at hospital for 8am! I was not a happy bunny as that meant getting up at 6am, and I am not a morning person!  We got to the ward and they hooked me up for about half an hour to monitor baby again to have a baseline to check against as the induction progressed.  Then the midwife put some prostaglandin gel by my cervix to soften it and then the wait began. Basically the procedure is to give the gel 6 hours, then check and see if things are soft enough for them to break my waters, and if not give another gel application and wait another 6 hours. They said it was common for first time pregnancies to need the two applications. 

So we waited.. Went and had a coffee and pastry at the hospital M&S cafe, went and sat in the car and OH read to me, sat in the ward and watched the film “Man up” on my iPad, one earphone each! Incidentally a good film choice for light hearted distraction, it has us chuckling in several places and the midwife came to see what was making us laugh!  In between these activities I’d be hooked up for baby to be monitored for 20 mins at a time, just to check he was ok and not in any distress.  There were two other ladies in the ward also be induced. One made me mad as she was a smoker and would go outside for fag breaks..I hate that a mum can’t bring herself to give up smoking for the sake of her unborn child.

About 2pm I started having contractions. They very quickly started coming about every 2 minutes, for about 20-30 seconds. I would stand and sway on the spot and breathe through them. I couldn’t bear the thought of sitting or lying thought it. They started coming stronger and my breathing ramped up to match it and I started to use the TENS machine I had brought. The midwife said that it was likely they would get stronger but more spaced out, but no, they stayed 2 minutes apart and the duration of each slowly increased to between 30-45 seconds. Now with each one I would lean on OH and squeeze a blue smiley stress ball in one hand (using stress balls is one method in Juju Sandin’s “Birth Skills” book), hold the TENS machine control in the other, and we started saying the mantra that OH had decided would be good – “Big fat moose”! We chose it because you can’t say it and at least smile or chuckle, and you can put a lot of emphasis into the moose part.  As the contractions went on we got louder saying it together, and then when I was getting tired OH would just chant it and I would listen. The midwife said we made a good team.

They didn’t want to do too many internal examinations due to my Group B strep, and the midwife said about 3:30 or so that she could see from how I behaved that things were quite well progressed and she didn’t think I’d need a second gel.  She felt we should move to the delivery area where they could then do an internal check, give me the intravenous antibiotics for the Group B strep to minimise risk of it passing to baby during birth, and then break my waters. I had wanted to use the midwife led unit but sadly the 3 delivery rooms there were all in use. However the only delivery room on the main delivery suite that had a birthing pool was free, so we could use that which was a partial consolation. At the time part of me I have to admit also thought it was good to be there as if I wanted an epidural I could have this on the delivery suite floor, whereas it wasn’t an option in the midwifery led unit. So we made our way downstairs, stopping frequently as the contractions came. The whole time since they started OH was doing his best to time them on his phone! 

We got to the room and started to settle in. Then they said that a room had come free in the midwife led unit, but by this point I really couldn’t face moving again, so we stayed put. Now with each contraction I was leant over the bed, which was raised quite high. The midwife allocated to us for delivery, Anne, sorted out the antibiotic drip, which I think was in for 20 mins but it seems really short to me now, everything was starting to blur as all I could concentrate on was each contraction.  She started filling the birthing pool before she was going to examine me and break my waters, but then with the next contraction there was a huge warm gush and a splat as it hit the floor – they had broken on their own!  She chose not to examine me then and I just got in the birthing pool. It didn’t noticeably make the contractions less painful (or maybe it did and they would have gotten more painful if I wasn’t in the pool?)  but it did immensely help with relaxing in between contractions. I really worked on my breathing and OH thinks he’s never seen me as relaxed as I was in those in between times! So I think the pregnancy yoga breathing and my natal hypnotherapy CD really did help me.

I started off on my knees in the pool leaning over, but then at Anne’s suggestion sat back and with each contraction I would brace my feet against the side of the pool, and squeeze the stress ball still in my hand. People are right that when the time comes you really don’t care who sees you in the nude. Anne really mostly left me to do my thing, my body seemed to know what to do. With each contraction I was now really groaning and bearing down. I never thought I would be so vocal but it did help immensely to listen to the sound, and apparently I was far from loud compared to some. Anne thought from my behaviour that I moved into transition fairly quickly. After a while though she wondered about me getting out of the pool so she could check me, since she hadn’t at all yet, and she didn’t want me continuing to put all the effort in that I was if baby wasn’t close yet. Although I had never thought previously that I would want an actual water birth, now I really didn’t want to get out, and I felt baby was close as I just had immense pressure down below. I told Anne i thought he was really almost here. So she held off and kept checking with a flashlight to see if she could see baby’s head yet – I thought using a torch was funny! Anyway then he was right there and with the next contraction his head popped out, which physically was a huge relief, and one or two contractions later he was all out and Anne placed him on my chest. His eyes were already open and alert. I was a mummy, with a gorgeous little boy! Such an amazing feeling. 

I am so lucky to have had just a short 5 hour labour, and I’m so proud of myself for not needing any pain relief. It never even occurred to me to ask for gas and air.  That’s not to say it wasn’t hard, and at the end I had a very strong sense that I never wanted to go through that again. Not that it’s likely anyway as we would struggle to justify funding another IVF cycle.. I mean if you could guarantee success that’s one thing, but to spend so much on top of what we already have, only for a chance of a sibling, when that money could be spent on nicer things for the one we already have.. Although it is funny how the birth memories fade, as now on day 10 I feel that I could go through labour again if it came to it. Anne said how nice it was to have such a quick natural birth on the delivery suite floor, as it doesn’t happen often and the birthing pool there doesn’t get used that much. 

Back in the pool it started getting chilly so baby Ethan went to have some skin on skin time with Daddy whilst I waited for the placenta to be delivered. I was hardly having any contractions and after a while of waiting and nothing much happening, I got out and onto the bed as I was just too cold. In the meantime Ethan had both pooped and peed on daddy! Hilarious ūüôā after 40 minutes I was just fed up of waiting and wanted the whole process to be over, so I chose to have the injection that helps the placenta to come out, and within 5 minutes it was out and OH was amazed by how large it was.  Then I got Ethan back for cuddles, he was weighed (3355g or about 7lbs 6oz) and we had a first breast feed.  Then I had some stitches.. I didn’t have any pain down below but evidentally I had torn just a little, so had my legs up in stirrups whilst they sorted me out. 

The time after this is a bit of a blur. I know I had a shower, and they left us for family time. Eventually about 1am we moved up to a ward and got settled in for the night. I will blog more about that and the first week another time, this post is lengthy enough as it is. I hope reading about Ethan’s birth may be reassuring for some – that an induction does not mean a more painful labour, or a distressed baby, or that you can’t still have a natural birth experience. Don’t get me wrong, labour is hard, but it is also absolutely amazing, and incredible how our bodies work. It is not something to be afraid of. 

Introducing my son

There is so much that I want to blog about my birth experience and how the first week of mummyhood has been, but it is so hard to find the time for anything at the moment but feeding my boy, sleeping, ensuring I eat and basics like that. Life has certainly undertaken a huge change! So just for now I wanted to quickly post how very very proud, extremely blessed, thankful and bursting with love I am to introduce you to my son Ethan, born Saturday 20th February at 6:51pm, weighing 3355g (just over 7lbs 6oz).