Friday, April 27, 2018

Thoughts on parenting

I've written countless posts in my head but never seem to get the time to get to my computer and write them down! Everyone keeps commenting on how fast time goes when you have kids and though it can feel slow in the moment, especially when you are up all night, overall it has been going quickly. Our little one is two months already. And things are finally now starting to get more manageable! Some of the highlights or things that stick out in my memory...

The good

  • I could stare at our little girl all day. She has such a cute little face and is really sweet. I can't stand to see her cry or when she is upset. I am so proud to be her mother. She is quite a mummy's girl at the moment and I hope that we will have a close mother daughter relationship as she gets older. I'm looking forward to all of the fun things we can do together.

  • Seeing my husband with her melts my heart. After she was born I would catch him telling the baby how much he loves her, it was the sweetest thing. We both take loads of pictures and videos and love talking about her!

  • I've had a lot of challenges with breastfeeding but it is finally going well now and I am proud of myself for sticking with it. It can be very effective for stopping crying and it's sweet how much our baby enjoys it. It was something I really wanted to do so I am glad that it is finally working out.

  • Seeing how much love other people have for our child has also been lovely. My Dad and sister visited twice and it's been heart warming seeing the relationship developing. My husband's family have been over many times and I'm delighted our little one has so many people in her life who care about her.

  • The cuddles are great! It's so sweet when our baby is snuggled up sleeping on me. Even if it means I can't move for hours!

  • When she smiles. I live for those little smiles! And I heard that in the next few weeks babies that age start laughing, I can't wait for that stage. The more she can interact with us the more fun it gets.

  • The bad

  • Yeah, the breastfeeding like I mentioned has not been easy. It was extremely painful at the start. I had a problem with low milk supply and had to supplement with formula. It was a struggle getting our baby to latch at times. There were moments where she was screaming crying but couldn't seem to latch and I was in tears myself feeling like a bad mother. I had to use nipple shields the first month because of the pain and latch issues but then I was able to gradually wean off them. In order to increase my supply I started to breastfeed more often, I pumped (several times a day, even in the middle of the night), took some herbs and made an effort to drink a lot more fluids.

    It took a few hard weeks and I almost gave up several times but we were able to gradually reduce the formula bottles and for the past 3-4 weeks I have been breastfeeding exclusively. It can be very demanding. I had no idea for instance, before I had a baby that there is this thing called cluster feeding where the baby, particularly during a growth spurt, will want to feed for hours on end! That can be exhausting.

  • The sleep deprivation has been the number one hardest aspect. Our little girl isn't a great sleeper unfortunately. I had a month of only getting about 3-4 hours sleep on average per night. At times I thought I would pass out from the exhaustion. I am amazed at how I am still able to function somehow on so little sleep.

    Things have improved but still aren't great. These days she will sleep for around 3-5 hours in one go. That's her longest stretch at the beginning of the night and then after that she might do another 1.5 or 2 hours or maybe not! Sometimes she only catnaps for 30-45 min cycles until morning! I've started doing co-sleeping in the early morning as it's the only way I can get some sleep! It can also take hours some nights just to get her to sleep in the first place.

  • The funny

  • The fact that it takes us hours to be ready to leave the house. You have to laugh. First the baby gets fed, then we get ourselves ready, then baby needs a nappy change, then maybe we realise we need to eat or drink something, by then the baby will be hungry again..and so it continues..

  • Poop explosions are another thing that you just have to laugh about! I need to pack outfit changes in the nappy bag as sometimes the poop just gets everywhere. Baby farts are pretty funny too.

  • Babies make funny noises and do such cute movements. When our little one wakes up from a nap she spends the first few seconds doing all these little stretches.

  • We have to take turns eating a lot of the time. There have even been a few times where my husband had to even spoon feed me as I was stuck breastfeeding and hadn't eaten in hours. I remember one time cutting up his dinner so he would be able to eat it while the baby napped on him. These days I have mastered the art of eating with one hand! Or if the baby is in a good mood we can her in the bouncer during our mealtimes.

  • Saturday, April 14, 2018

    Birth story - part two

    Part one can be found here. We first met with one midwife, who I'm going to nickname Heidi. She was young, full of energy and really friendly. That helped put me at ease. We were brought into the same room where we had been weeks earlier to register. She asked me about what had happened - what time my waters had broken at for instance and she looked over my files. The next step was to set me up with the CTG monitor to check the contractions and baby's heartbeat. That took about a half hour. Whenever I had a contraction, hubby and I could see numbers going up, usually to around 20. The midwife helped me breath through them. It was painful but I was managing ok.

    Heidi didn't check my cervix though to see how far I was dilated and I was surprised at that. She said that because my waters had broken, checking it could cause an infection. She implied that I was still at the early stage of the contractions which I found a bit disheartening as to me they felt strong already and the idea of it going on all day for ages wasn't so appealing! I asked about what other pain options they had, besides an epidural which I was hoping to avoid. She said they can give a painkiller like Buscopan and suggested I could have a bath. She told me that breakfast would be served at 7 and suggested we could go eat then and after come back to her around 8 or so. It was around 6am at that stage.

    We were given the keys to a private room where we could hang out basically for the next few hours. It had a double bed, small kitchen area, table and fitness ball. I remember texting my family but apart from my brother in Australia and his wife, everyone was still asleep as it was only 5am in Ireland! The contraction pain was starting to get really bad at that point. I remember second guessing my decision to not have an epidural and wondering whether I would be able to stand it! I decided I would try to keep going awhile longer and then decide. I tried lying down and the time between contractions it was nice to be lying but then when it hit I found that it was better if I was walking around. Trying to breath through the contractions helped. It was hard going! I remember thinking that all the positive thinking I'd read about was all well and good in theory but pain was pain! Trying to think of the contractions like a wave on the beach wasn't helping! I just walked around the room and leaned against a chair and breathed slowly through them. Once I went to the bathroom which was down the hall and I remember finding the walk there and back unpleasant and I had to walk really slowly!

    My hubby went to talk to the midwife and was told that if I couldn't manage the pain and wanted help sooner to just let them know. We had only been there around an hour and I wanted to be brave I guess and try to stick it out longer. Especially since I believed I was still only at the beginning stages of labour! At that stage the canteen was open but I had absolutely no desire to go there to try to eat something. Not so long after that I remember feeling really nauseous and then throwing up. There went the porridge I had eaten earlier! Hubby was asking again whether he should go get the midwife and I just said yes, I didn't think I could handle the pain anymore so needed whatever support they could give me!

    Heidi came and said they would do the CTG again to monitor the contractions and then they would fill me a bath. We went back to the first room with hubby carrying the backpack I had brought with me for the birth. I had a suitcase for the overnight stay and a backpack with things like snacks, CDs and some nightdresses to change into. Anyway I was set up to the CTG monitor and that was really unpleasant because you had to stay still for it and the contractions felt worse when I couldn't move around! We were left alone and hubby noticed that the contractions at that stage were reaching 100 on the screen. They certainly felt bad! Heidi came back and gave me a painkiller which didn't do much. Some of the contractions were really uncomfortable and I couldn't help but make noises. At the end of the CTG I remember feeling a strong need to use the bathroom for a number two! I said that to Heidi as we were about to go to the room with the bath that I needed to use the bathroom first. She called in another midwife. I'll call her Helga.

    Heidi says Helga is going to check my cervix. Finally, I'm thinking! By then I am groaning through the contractions! I get up on the bed and Helga checks my cervix and then says they have to get me to the birthing suite pronto! I guess I must have been fully dilated at that stage. I was happy that I wouldn't have to have hours and hours more of the pain. On the way to the birthing room we passed the bath that had been filled for me. We reached the birthing room and the midwives started quickly filling up the special tub for the water birth. I remember hoping that the water would be filled in time before the baby arrived! I remember looking at the clock and it was 8am. I took off my clothes and got into the tub.

    The warm water felt really good! It helped a lot. This time when the contractions came it felt different. Still painful but a different sort of pain and not so bad. The midwives were telling me to push. I was told to hold on to something and pull it during the contraction and push at the same time. Doing that certainly helped and they were telling me I was doing a great job. A contraction would come, I would pull on the handles of the bath tub while trying to push until the contraction passed. At one stage they said they could see hair on the baby's head! Helga suggested I touch the baby's head and I did but I felt weird about it to be honest! I was nervous about hurting the baby in some way so didn't want to keep touching it! The pain of the pushing got worse and several times I would try but I just couldn't seem to do it. Helga suggested different positions such as squatting down but I found me half lying /sitting with my feet against the sides the most comfortable. Heidi was very encouraging but I found Helga a bit too critical and bossy! She asked me what was holding me back. I said I was worried about the pain and she said there is plenty of room for the baby to get out and there is no going back now.

    Part of me did want to stop at that point but I also reminded myself that the baby needs to come out and I have to do this! I had been in the tub a long time at that stage and Helga said if I don't get the baby out soon I would have to get out of the tub. That worried me. I really wanted the water birth to work! Also I was scared if I couldn't get the head out that I would have to be cut. I tried even harder to push during the next contraction but I just still couldn't seem to push hard enough! The more I pushed the more painful it felt which made me not want to push physically even though mentally I knew I had to! Hubby kept telling me I could do it and being encouraging. He told me later that he could see the baby's head go out and in again! Anyway eventually I somehow was able to push hard for long enough and the head came out! Heidi said the baby had her eyes open in the water looking at her! The next push was enough to get the body out and then the midwives were handing me a slippery baby!! It was 9.13am.

    It just felt surreal to me! Like oh wow, I can't believe this is my baby!! She cried a little but then stopped. Hubby and I were both just looking at her in amazement and I think I was saying things like "welcome to the world! We love you so much!". She looked pretty wrinkly and I remember thinking she reminded me of my granny, haha! Eventually hubby cut the cord after it stopped pulsating and the midwife suggested he do skin to skin while they helped me out of the tub. I was taken to a bed and then I had to give birth to the placenta! That was fine though, just another push like earlier and it came out. The midwives examined me and said I would need some stitches so I had to wait for the doctor. I didn't care though, I was just so in amazement of our daughter.

    Hubby took some photos and we told out families the good news and everyone was delighted! The doctor came and gave me some stitches (I'd torn a little) but I barely felt it. Then they took our baby to be weighed. She was 2.9 kilos and everything looked good. Ten fingers and ten toes! The midwife wheeled me in the bed holding our baby to the ward. I was just so delighted the birth was behind me, that it had gone so well and that our healthy daughter arrived safely.

    Saturday, April 7, 2018

    Birth story - part one

    Thanks so much to everyone for the lovely well wishes on the birth of our daughter! As most of you know, it was a long journey to get to this point and we are incredibly grateful that our little one arrived safely! There are so many things I would like to blog about but life with a newborn is pretty hectic! I actually used to think people were exaggerating when they said there were days where they never got a moment to shower or get changed out of their pyjamas even, but parenting a newborn has definitely been challenging and just finding the time to shower and eat is a real challenge! Rewarding and incredible but very hard. I miss sleep, haha!

    Anyway, today I would like to start sharing the birth story! It will help me to write it all down before I forget everything. This post is very personal and very TMI so if you know me in real life, you may want to give this one a miss!

    I mentioned that we had gone to the hospital I'd chosen to give birth at late into my pregnancy to register and discuss any questions with the midwives. This isn't a requirement but good to do. Basically I was hoping to ideally have a natural childbirth with minimal intervention, skin to skin bonding after birth and delayed cord clamping. I really wanted to avoid having a c-section but of course the health of our baby is the most important thing and I just wanted her to arrive safely. I specified that I would like a water birth.

    My Mum had had natural births without an epidural for all her three children and I was hoping I would be able to manage it also. Not to mention the fact that an epidural scared me! I hated the idea of a needle in my spine plus I'd heard stories of it not working and there are also risks to it. That said I had decided if I really needed one, I would get it and not feel bad. Let me just mention here that I don't think there is anything wrong at all with women who choose to get an epidural, I was just hoping to avoid one and experience the whole childbirth experience!

    A week and a day before my due date I had some signs that I might go into labour over the next few days. Spotting that morning and the doctor noticing that my cervix had already started to soften. That evening around 9pm I lost my mucus plug. At that stage it occured to me that I might go into labour that night and not in a few days. In the middle of the night I woke up feeling some mid cramps that would come and go. I also felt some dampness. After about a half hour I went to the bathroom and noticed my waters had broke! At this stage I knew things were getting serious! When I went back into the bedroom, hubby asked if I was ok and I said "my waters just broke". I was feeling slightly in shock, trying to get my head around everything and remember what I had been told at the birth course. Hubby jumped out of bed and said let's go to the hospital immediately! It was 3am at this stage.

    I reminded him that we had been told that labour is slow so to wait 2-3 hours at home where it's more comfortable and not rush to the hospital. On the other hand I knew that my Mum had always had very fast labours so I was aware that maybe I would take after her. Hubby was feeling anxious and didn't want to stay at home for long but I said the cramps weren't so bad yet and let's wait around an hour. I was half trying to time the contractions though not really as I was also getting ready, but it seemed like they were quite close together. It wasn't unbearable though. I had a shower and washed my hair and even painted my toenails! Then I told hubby that we should both eat as it would be a long night. He had some leftover pasta bolognese and I had some porridge with tea that was all I really felt like. Hubby ordered a taxi for 4.30am.

    The cramps had started to get a lot more uncomfortable by that stage. It felt a bit like really strong period cramps but the pain was all around my hips, back, stomach. I tried to breath through them like I'd been taught at the pre birth course. We had quite a lot of bags with us when we got the taxi. I had a small suitcase for my overnight stay plus a backpack for the labour. Hubby had a bag himself in case we got the family room and he could stay over and he also brought the baby car seat. The journey to the hospital was uncomfortable at times when I would get a contraction. We arrived at the hospital, checked in and went up to the birthing area.

    Actually I just remembered now but I was quite emotional at that stage for some reason! When hubby told the lady at the hospital reception that his wife was in labour and she wished me luck I felt a little teary. And then as we went into the birthing area and met the midwife I started crying slightly! Sort of a mixture of nerves and feeling a bit overwhelmed at what was ahead I think!