Friday, November 14, 2014

surviving the 4th trimester

Phoebe is now 14 weeks old. It's gone pretty fast! I'm still getting used to having this tiny person around yet now I can't imagine life without her. She's currently lying on her play mat, kicking her legs and batting at the toys hanging above her head. Though she's getting a bit frustrated and it may be time to pick her up soon.

Good things
My sweet, smiley, generally laid back baby.
Baby smiles are awesome and amazing.
Baby wearing. I love my stretchy wrap! I knew I wanted one having seen my sister Hannah carry Amelia in one (and had a go myself) but didn't anticipate quite how useful and amazing it would be. It sends Phoebe to sleep (mostly. A bit less now as she's getting bigger, but still calms her down). It means I can leave the flat in one go rather than running up and down two flights of stairs with a buggy and a baby. It's easy to get the bus wearing her and wander around town. I probably wouldn't wear it all day and it does take a little while to put on and when it's off, it's quite a big piece of fabric, but I do love it.
Phoebe sleeps well at night, generally sleeping from 10 or 11 to some time between about 4.30 and 6.30. I was pretty sleep deprived in the first few weeks, but now I feel like I get more or less enough.

Less good things
Breastfeeding. I expected to love this and sometimes I do (lying down at night feeding my baby to sleep is so sweet and intimate). But we've had so many problems due to a bad latch caused by tongue tie. Problems in the first few days meant my milk took a long time to come in. We ended up supplementing with formula to get her weight gain up, which I get unhappy about sometimes. I'm trying to let it go and remember that the baby must be fed and she's getting mostly breastmilk, so a little formula here and there to make sure she's got enough calories is fine. Her tongue tie was divided for the second time on Monday and I'm desperately hoping things will improve. Right now I have awfully sore and shredded nipples. :(
Phoebe is a terrible napper. She will sleep in the sling, but attempts at getting her to sleep in her Moses basket have so far failed. I suspect this is mostly my fault. We've never really had a predictable schedule. She also seems to go from happy baby to howling overtired monster in an instant. Although perhaps I don't respond quickly enough to her early grumpy cues? I'm usually frantically trying to achieve something (like eating breakfast) and sometimes don't do anything until she starts howling.

I do love being a mum. I get overwhelmed by it too. I'm going to post this in it's somewhat unfinished state because otherwise it won't get posted at all. Life is a bit like that right now.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Tweets - October 2014

Oct 1: Mini mohican.

Oct 1: I can see one tiny sliver of beautiful orange sunset in an otherwise clouded grey sky.

Oct 4: Baby loves books.

Oct 4: Cute baby is currently cutely refusing to go to sleep. I'm happy she's not screaming but I wish those big blue eyes would close and zzzzz.

Oct 6: Conversation with @robhu: "We could sell the baby on eBay." "We can't do that, we made her!" "Etsy then."

Oct 6: So far have managed breakfast & getting dressed. Not brushed hair or washed face tho. Sad baby needs milk, cuddles & frequent new nappies.

Oct 7: Baby says "More food mummy! I've been feeding for the last 50 minutes but I'm still so hungry I could eat my fingers! FEED ME!"

Oct 15: Completely stunned to learn that nitrous oxide in labour isn't generally available in the USA. You poor poor things!

Oct 15: Awake with a windy wide-eyed baby. How can there be so much gas inside one tiny person!?

Oct 16: "Mummy, I'm so happy I don't want to eat, I just want to smile at you!" *melts*

Oct 16: Think baby has thrush. Probably caused by antibiotics that treated the infection that got into the tongue tie cut. Mouth pain cascade! :(
[Not so sure now. We went to the Dr and were given treatment (antifungal drops) which I dutifully administered until they ran out. White spots still there. Went back to GP, saw another Dr who said white spots were inclusion cysts and nothing to worry about. So not sure if she really did have thrush at all.]

Oct 20: It's first immunisations day for Phoebe. Not too worried about the jabs, though I expect she'll cry, but anticipating a grumpy evening.

Oct 20: Baby's first jabs survived. She screamed, naturally. The needles seemed very big! Now she's snuggled up in the sling.

Oct 20: Mummy cuddles baby. "Oh my baby, I love you very much". Baby sicks on mummy's shoulder. Is that baby for "I love you too mummy!"?

Oct 21: Phoebe slept from midnight to 8. Well done that baby!

Oct 22: No, mummy, you may not eat breakfast. I AM HUNGRY AND MUST BE APPEASED!

Oct 22: Off on our first overnight stay with a baby. Feels like that episode of AbFab when the formerly minimalist couple turn up with a baby.

Oct 22: Not that I have ever been a minimalist, baby or not. (AbFab season2, episode 4: New Best Friend)

Oct 23: At my grandma's house, feeding my baby daughter. This makes me happy. The continuation of family, love, home.

Oct 23: It would be even more perfect if my mum were here too. Four generations of eldest daughters. Maybe we'll manage it at Christmas.

Oct 23: The only sadness is that Grampy isn't alive to see it. Much loved, much missed, but now in glory.

Oct 23: Never thought I could become so obsessed with another human being's digestive system. Ah, baby. At least you're currently predictable.
[Ha ha ha ha ha! The very next she went back to being unpredictable again. That'll teach me.]

Oct 24: Baby, routine for. From Elizabeth Craig's Enquire Within (1951). I'm intrigued by 'holding out'. What is it?
[Still don't know. Maybe holding out over a potty to encourage the infant to wee/poo into it?]

Oct 24: Confinement, articles required for. (Elizabeth Craig's Enquire Within, 1951).

Oct 24: "Beware of ever dressing children in startling combinations of colours or queerly shaped hats."

Oct 24: Not bad advice really.

Oct 24: Her advice on breastfeeding is less good. Also "Always time the feeding carefully - ten minutes at each breast."

Oct 24: Key wardrobe items for a baby including "3 frocks of crepe flannel, delaine, nun's veiling, cashmere or wincey."

Oct 24: "You will find that the choice of birthday cards is limited."  (!)

Oct 25: Oh baby. A big smelly poo at bedtime again. Lovely. :-\

Oct 27: Yesterday Phoebe spent lots of time staring at her right hand. Today's she's using it to batt at a hanging toy for the first time.

Oct 27: So much fun watching her learn things. :-)

Oct 27: Ah, the classic send a stream of posset down mummy's back when she's forgotten to put a muslin over her shoulder. Well played, baby.

Oct 27: I love the way Phoebe turns her head away imperiously when she's finished feeding like a dowager duchess refusing another cucumber sandwich.

Oct 29: "Wake up mummy! It's time to play!"
"But baby, I'm tired. Can I distract you with milk?"
"No, play! Oh wait, a booby, om nom nom."

Oct 29: Feeding Phoebe and listening to @robhu singing along to Price Tag. Happy. :-)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The many names of Phoebe

Phoebe Muriel Gwendolyn
Phoebe MG

My monkey
Little monkey
Phoebe monkey

Little bear
Grizzly bear

Milky face
Grumpy face
Crumply face

Farty pants
Stinky baby

My little one
My baby

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Tweets - September 2014

Sep 2: Misty morning. Autumn really has arrived.

Sep 2: Baby asleep in sling. Chances of successful transfer to cot? Slim to nil. Hmm.

Sep 6: My little monkey is a month old.

Sep 8: Baby may have cow's milk protein allergy. So that may mean no dairy for me until she's not breastfeeding anymore. Eek.
[She doesn't, fortunately]

Sep 9: We got the bus into town. Baby is sleeping while I enjoy lunch in John Lewis.

Sep 12: The pictures on my phone for the last few weeks are either of Phoebe or her nappy contents. Such is the life of a new parent.

Sep 12: Ugh. Last night's sore throat has turned into headache, throat ache and wooziness. An afternoon nap would help but it depends on Phoebe...

Sep 13: Just changed the kind of nappy that requires a bath to clean up. At least the monkey likes baths. Now to convince her to sleep.

Sep 14: Sneezing. First cold of autumn/winter 2014. First time of mummying while grotty. Wonder if the baby will get it too.
[She did. Saline spray and a Nose Frida snot sucker helped a lot]

Sep 16: Liberated a pretty big spider from our living room this evening. It's lucky it was found by me and not @robhu.

Sep 16: There are few sights more wonderful than that of a soundly sleeping baby.

Sep 16: Of course, it never lasts long.

Sep 19: Snotty nosed baby has definitely caught my cold. :-( She sounds like a little snorting piglet. I guess that's appropriate.

Sep 21: Awake with a wide-eyed sleepless monkey.

Sep 24: Feeding the baby and listening to Radio 4. Very peaceful.

Sep 24: Well it was peaceful. This afternoon play isn't.

Sep 25: Snuggled

Sep 27: Colourful 

Sep 28: The relief when a baby who's been freaking out at the breast suddenly calms down and latches on. Wish I knew why. Current theory reflux pain
[It wasn't that, her tongue tie division had got infected. She needed antibiotics.]

Sep 28: Have tried every breastfeeding position I can think of in the last few days. Currently laid back/biological nurturing position works best.

Sep 29: Wondered why my baby's face had sparkles and then remembered I put on blusher with a slight shimmer in it this morning.

Sep 29: Cream blusher is my one step pick me up - takes seconds, makes me look & feel a little more alive. Not time for much other grooming.

Sep 30: Hand in hand.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Phoebe's birth story - Part 3

At 1:20am on 6 August, I started pushing. It was hard work and not ideal with my legs up in stirrups. But once the epidural’s in, that’s what you have to do. I had trouble visualising where I needed to push. In many ways this wasn’t what  I wanted – on my back, pushing in the classic chin on chest manner. I tried to remember the breathing techniques we’d learned in the NCT class but I couldn’t really work out what I should do. So I followed the midwife’s directions and did the best I could. At this point, the epidural being only half effective was useful. I actually had some feeling left which helped me push. I didn’t feel like I was pushing long, though each push was tiring. After an hour and a half though, the midwife was concerned that we weren’t making enough progress. Her senior colleague decided that it was time for intervention – a trial of instrumental delivery. They would try a forceps delivery and if that didn’t work, they would go straight to a C-section. Oddly, the news didn’t upset me or make me feel disappointed. I think that was partly being somewhat out of it and partly relief at knowing we would be meeting our baby soon. I kept pushing with every contraction as we waited to be transferred to theatre. Rob put on scrubs and grabbed his camera. As I was pushed along the corridor, I was pretty convinced that a C-section was going to be the outcome. I felt OK about this.

Once in theatre, there were many people, bright lights and much equipment. I needed a spinal block – a far more effective anaesthetic. I don’t think it took long to put in, but once I lay down again, I felt very sick. I threw up the blackcurrant squash the midwife had made me drink before starting to push (which was the first sustenance I’d had since 4pm). Once I’d stopped throwing up, my legs were lifted into the stirrups – a very strange feeling. As far as I could feel, my legs were still straight and on the bed, yet I could see them up in the stirrups. I could wiggle my toes and see them move, yet I couldn’t feel them move. I couldn’t feel a thing below my waist (They check this by blowing a cold spray at your body and seeing where you can feel it).

Then it was time to push. I couldn’t feel a thing so I had to follow the midwives’  directions of when to push. I tried to remember the feeling of pushing from before and visualise my body doing it. The senior midwife was pleased with the progress I’d made since she’d last examined me. She said she was more confident now that we could deliver the baby with forceps. (I felt very pleased that the effort I’d put in was worth it).

So it proved. I can’t remember how many pushes it took, but suddenly there she was! Phoebe was delivered, wrapped up, placed briefly on my chest and taken away to be checked and have her cord cut. 

I sent Rob over to take pictures. She cried! She was covered in cheesy vernix and had lots of fair hair. They wrapped her in a towel and placed her back on my chest.

I’m not sure what happened then. I know I’d lost a lot of blood (1.2l according to the notes) and needed a transfusion. I remember asking to see the placenta (a huge bloody chunk of flesh) and being amazed that it had been delivered so quickly (2 minutes after Phoebe). I needed to be stitched up. Rob and Phoebe disappeared. I assume they went straight to recovery. There was nothing wrong with Phoebe – her Apgar score of 9 and then 10 proves that. I was pretty out of it and remained so until lunchtime. My legs were still non-functional and I couldn’t move. At some point, Phoebe was put onto my chest for some skin-to-skin and her first feed. She latched on beautifully and guzzled like a champ. I was so proud of her and happy that she was finally here.

Monday, September 01, 2014

Phoebe's birth story - Part 2

Tuesday was fairly relaxed and uneventful. Rob came in about 11. I spent the day snoozing, reading I Capture the Castle, sometimes going for a walk. I managed to sleep for a while in the afternoon. When I was awake, I bounced on a birthing ball. 

At some point in the afternoon, I was told I was next in the queue to be transferred to the delivery unit. Around 4pm we were finally transferred.

The delivery room was smaller than the induction suite and the windows looked out onto a wall. Not exactly exciting or homely. But it was private and comfortable with a big adjustable big for me and a chair for Rob. Our midwife Laura settled us in. First task was getting the monitor sorted. 

I was keen to be on a wireless monitor so that I could move around as much as possible. This was trickier than it sounded. The monitor in the room was missing a piece for the clip on the wireless sensors. A second one was found and some teething problems, it worked. I had a cannula fitted in my left hand – not a comfortable process and a real pain for most of the rest of the time, once it had served its purpose delivering Syntocinin. Laura examined my cervix. I was 1-2cm dilated, open and soft – a good place to start, but some way to go. Then about 6pm, she started the drip. Every 15 minutes she upped the dose and gradually my contractions which had slowed to being almost non-existent and very erratic began to get stronger and more regular.

I had decided beforehand that if I had to have the syntocinon drip, I would want an epidural, but I also wanted to see how far I could get using the TENS and entenox. I think around an hour into the drip, I was ready for gas and air – bouncing on a ball with the TENS and standing for contractions wasn’t quite cutting it. Gas and air is fun stuff. I think the concentration needed to breathe in and out is as much an effective distraction as any painkilling effect. I puffed through each contraction and then felt very lightheaded and drunk afterwards. It helped for a while, but by about 8pm, I was ready for an epidural. 

After that things get hazier. I think the anaesthetist arrived fairly quickly. I continued to puff on gas and air as the epidural was inserted. It took a while to get right. Rob says the process looked painful. I’m not sure if that was the needle or just having to sit still on the bed for it. The position you adopt for having the needle inserted – hunched over and hugging a pillow – is sort of comfortable, but not ideal. There was some fiddling with the dosage and, I think, the position. From now on I wasn’t very mobile. I half sat, half reclined on the bed, fairly out of it, breathing gas and air through contractions when I needed it and saying strange things. (I talked about library books, towels, Rob and his drone). 

The epidural was very effective on my left, but there was one point on my right which still hurt, like a slice through my body which still felt every contraction. Eventually, the midwife and the anaesthetist turned me onto my right side in an effort to move the drugs into the right places. This was my worst moment. I started shivering and feeling very sick. It also didn’t really shift the epidural, if anything the pain on the right was worse once I was back on my back again. I was beginning to feel some pressure in my bottom (only on the right of course). I said “I think I feel pushy”. The midwife checked me again – I was almost fully dilated. By now it was getting close to midnight. The midwife checked with a senior colleague who told her to wait an hour and then another one before I could start pushing. Those two hours are a blur – blame the gas and air! At some point a clip monitor was fitted to the baby’s head to monitor her directly.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Tweets - August 2014

Aug 1: Hot! Today is not a good day to be a heavily pregnant woman crawling around on the floor sandwiching a quilt together.

Aug 1: Cleaned and oiled sewing machine and now it doesn't squeak. Yay!

Aug 1: And it's squeaking again. :-( @robhu is doing his best to fix it but I suspect it's in dire need of a service.

Aug 1: The @robhu fixed my sewing machine! :-* So, 2 days to finish the quilt. I think it's do-able.

Aug 2: I have been baby showered. :) Baby can come when she's ready now. Well, maybe there are a few other things to do first...

Aug 3: Tired mama today. Induction (probably) tomorrow. Today is for resting, in theory.

Aug 3: Quilt finished. Out for lunch. Tired. Headachey. Hot.

Aug 4: Good night's sleep? Not going do well. Awake since 4. :-(

Aug 4: Induction day is here. First lot of meds are in. Nothing much happening. @robhu has gone to sleep on my bed.

Aug 5: Waters broke about an hour ago. Trying to get a little sleep between contractions. Trying to find position which is comfortable for both.

Aug 5: TENS good. Flipping weird though.

Aug 5: Four women in this induction suite. Judging by muffled gasps and groans, none of us is getting much sleep.

Aug 5: Am hula hooping zombie. When contraction starts I press button on tens then stand & circle hips. Tens and circling make it bearable, just.

Aug 5: Given up on sleep. No position in which I can sleep and cope with contractions.

Aug 5: Morning! Can't say I got much sleep. Contractions kept me awake. TENS machine taking the edge off nicely though. Wonder how today will go?

Aug 6: Phoebe Muriel Gwendolyn born at 4am. Forceps delivery. She's a tiny 6lb 7oz. I lost about 1l of blood and had to have transfusion & oxygen.

Aug 6: Doing ok now. Very tired! Phoebe guzzled like a champ at first feed and has mostly slept since. She is beautiful!

Aug 8: On my way home with my tiny Phoebe. So pleased. Had a rough couple of days & feeding is challenging but we're getting better at it.

Aug 10: Beautiful Phoebe.

Aug 13: Phoebe was born one week ago. We have survived one week. Mostly we are tired. But she is still beautiful.

Aug 13: Hooray for @robhu who held a screaming windy Phoebe for 2 hours while I slept.

Aug 16: She's got a very strong grip! 

Aug 19: Even in dreams I dream of sleep.

Aug 21: .@robhu to howling Phoebe after I changed her nappy "when you level up put all your points into teeth so you can bite her".

Aug 21: Trying to convince my baby that kicking my chest while flailing her arms & waving her head about is not an effective way to get more milk.

Aug 23: Baby sleeping. @robhu sleeping. I guess I should sleep too.

Aug 23: Except the baby is showing signs of waking up soon.

Aug 23: Cuddling a hiccoughing baby. They don't seem to bother her, just keep her awake and looking at me with a wide eyed stare.

Aug 23: When she's awake, my daughter looks like an anime character: enormous round eyes, button nose and perfect pink mouth.

Aug 24: Phoebe's body from the top of her bottom to the back of her neck is the same length as my hand from wrist to fingertips.

Aug 31: Cute and tiny baby of mine, please be properly asleep now. Your mummy is tired.

Phoebe's birth story - Part 1

I was booked for an induction on 4 August. I was nervous the night before – would they want me to come in today? I didn’t sleep well. But in the morning, I rang at 8:30 as instructed and was told to come straight in. We arrived around 9:45 and were shown to a bed in the induction suit on Sara Ward. There were 5 beds in a sunny room. My bed was by the window, overlooking a courtyard. The other beds were empty initially, although they would fill up over the course of the day.

After an initial 40 minute period of being hooked up to the monitor to check on baby’s heart rate, I started the induction drugs at 11:20 with a Propess pessary. Getting it in, pushed up past my cervix by Megan, the midwife looking after me, was quite uncomfortable. I had to lie still for an hour and be monitored some more to check that Zarquon was still happy and not being distressed by the process. After that, I could walk around.

Rob got pretty bored. There wasn’t much to do except wait, read, wander about. He took some pictures – the beginning of a series recording the whole process. At one point I went for a walk and he fell asleep on my bed which amused and confused the midwives.

That first day it felt like very little was happening. No contractions, nothing to do but bounce on the ball, read, go for walks. Eventually Rob went home and I went to bed.

Around 11:20pm, I felt some pains in my stomach, then a pop, then another one. I sat up and found myself in a pool of liquid. My waters had broken. Something had been happening that day. I called a midwife who checked the fluids (all clear, just a little blood), cleaned up the bed and found me some maternity pads (mine had got left in the wrong bag and were still in the boot of our car). Then I was hooked on to a monitor again for an hour just to check on baby. She was just fine. I was beginning to have contractions. I could see them as waves on the monitor trace and feel them as tightenings. Not too painful yet, but there, proof of something happening. I texted Rob to tell him what had happened. Neither of us were sure what the timescale would be from here, but the midwife told us we should get some sleep while we could, so I settled down to try to do just that.

It soon became clear that sleep wasn’t going to happen. My contractions got stronger and soon I couldn’t find a position in which I could both lie down and sleep and cope with contractions. I got a midwife to help me attach the TENS machine. I wore it for the next 24 hours and it made a big difference. After a while, I was sitting down bouncing on the ball or in a chair between contractions but had to stand when one started. Circling my hips helped, so did leaning forward against the bed.

I played Monument Valley on Rob’s iPad. It was a good distraction and the music was very soothing, though I had to put it down to stand for contractions. I don’t think I got any sleep, though judging by the moans coming from the other 3 occupied beds, neither did anyone else. I was in too much pain to sleep (and the gaps between contractions were too short to drop of in) but I felt the pain was bearable, especially with the TENS machine’s help. Eventually morning came. I ate hummus and chicken on brown toast in the kitchen (with stops for contractions). My last gestational diabetes friendly breakfast.