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Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Happy all over

C is 5 months old. How? How on earth did that happen?! We're preparing for our first Christmas as a family of three. She has so many gifts that we're likely to still be opening them come her birthday in July, and not one, not two, but FOUR novelty Christmas outfits (Santa dress, angel costume, red tutu and stripy tights and a Christmas themed baby for, in case you were curious).

She can sit up on her own, and loves it. She's always been a fairly happy baby but now she has a different view of the world she is so content. She's started eating 'real' food. At the moment her very favourite is avocado; she eats half a small one in about five minutes flat. It's very messy. She's rolled from front-to-back and back-to-front, twice each, weeks ago, but now doesn't try at all. She's found her feet and enjoys chewing them during nappy changes.

Oh yes, the chewing. Everything, but everything, goes in her mouth. She has developed a new habit of sucking on your face when you give her a cuddle. I call it kissing but really I know she's just trying to eat us. No teeth yet, thankfully. Today she tried to eat a chair, my hair, an iPod charger cable, a mince pie and two of her friends. But she also sat, silently and enthralled, through an hour long production at my school. She is incredibly nosy and rather than doing, like lots of her friends, she just wants to sit and watch.

She also doesn't want to miss a thing, so we fight nearly every nap time. Except for the rare occasion, like yesterday, when she fell asleep in my arms in the middle of a coffee afternoon and I was able to hold her and stare in wonder at this incredible little being I've created and nurtured. She still only slept for her standard half an hour though. I want to know what's happened to the 'long' lunchtime nap my friends keep going on about.

She does sleep a bit better at night though, thank goodness. She's stopped taking a bottle of expressed milk so those night wakings are all down to me now. I panicked for a week or so when she started refusing the bottle, feeling trapped, but then I realised I'm perfectly happy to be tied to her for that little bit longer. I'm in denial about how it will all work when I go back to work. The end of February is looming very close now we're in the middle of December already.

My period came back, and The Boy and I breathed a sigh of relief that I wasn't pregnant again quite yet. I hope it won't be too long though. I felt a pang of jealousy at Kate Middleton's pregnancy, and a smaller pang of longing at the same news from some good friends. I wonder if that will ever go away.

I'm losing my pregnancy weight slowly (let's face it, it's cake weight, nothing to do with the pregnancy at all). I still have almost a stone and a half to go though. And I'm still eating rather a lot of cake. C's hair is going quite red (auburn, I tell you, auburn). The Boy is working hard, too hard, and we see him a lot less than I'd like to. Too many weekends lately C and I have been banished to my parents' so he can work in peace. He promises it will calm down soon. He still gets home for bath time almost every night though, and C's face lights up the moment she hears his key in the door. Every time she laughs, she gets hiccups.

Most of all, I am happy. Happy in a way I have never been before. Happy in a way I couldn't imagine in that dark, dark time we were ttc. Happy all over.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

I will never...

We've all done it, right? Looked at someone in a different situation to us - older, parent, ill, different job, different financial situation - and said (hopefully not to them, if we've got any tact) 'When I am <insert situation here> I will never <insert whatever it is they've just done that you never intend to>.'

Well, even if you haven't, I will put my hands up and admit that I have definitely done so, particularly when it comes to parenting. I was wrong. To prove it, here are my top 10 of things I was never, absolutely never, going to do, yet already have, only 4 months in.

1. Have an epidural. And / or a c-section. It turns out you don't always get to choose when it comes to these.

2. Give my baby a dummy. We did last about 3 weeks on this one. It ended up being pretty short-lived, because C was pretty determined that she didn't want one, but for a couple of weeks in the early days it was something of a life saver, for all of us.

3. Make people watch bathtime. A bit specific, yes. But when the gorgeous T was pretty tiny, her doting parents insisted, after a long day in which we had done nothing but coo over her, we watch them bath her as it was just such a magical experience. The Boy's take on this, which has until today remained between the two of us, was that it was 'exactly the same as the rest of the day, but wetter'. Thus far, C has been bathed in front of at least 4 sets of friends, and the miracle of bathtime has even been shared via Skype with 2 uncles and both sets of grandparents. What can I say? It is magical.

4. Put my baby in her own room before 6 months. This is a sensitive one, I know. And I feel duty bound to point out that SIDS guidelines are that babies should be with you for all sleeps (including naps) until they are six months old. She was in with us until recently, and it was lovely (and in truth, she is still in with us, and in our bed - another thing I was never going to do - for a fair amount of time due to the lack of actual sleeping she usually does) but for a number of reasons we decided to move her into her own room.

5. Change her nappy in front of other people. Thus far we have, at least, avoided doing so at mealtimes (I mention no names, but we do have friends who regularly change their baby's nappy in close proximity to the dining table while people are eating.) At home we do, almost always, change her nappy upstairs in her nursery. But out and about, we're perhaps a bit more public with some of her changes than we ever really intended to be.

6. Sniff her bottom to see if her nappy needs changing.Oh I was most definitely never, ever, going to do this. I didn't understand why parents didn't just take their baby off to actually check the nappy rather than sniffing or pulling down the back of it to see if it needed changing. Now I do. I think I've managed to avoid doing any bottom sniffing in public though. So far.

6. Push her round in her carseat on the pram wheels. Babies shouldn't be in their carseats for any longer than 2 hours at a time. The position they are in, in a carseat, is not great for them for all sorts of reasons. Therefore, I would never actually use the carseat adapters which came with our pram. C first took a trip out in her carseat on the pram wheels when she was about 2 weeks old. I am pretty religious about not keeping her in there too long, but I can't tell you how convenient it is.

7. Move her from the lie-flat part of her pram to the seat before 6 months. Like the last one, really. Newborns should lie completely flat 'til 6 months. So of course my baby would only use the carrycot part of her pram until that time. She did use it a lot. But then she grew. So for the last few days, C has very happily been using the seat part of the pram. And she does love being able to look around.

8. Plaster my Facebook profile with pictures and status updates solely related to my offspring. I am so sorry about this one. As a DTCer this was one of the things which had the power to completely and utterly poleaxe me, even on a good day. I do restrain myself, a lot; but I do appreciate that if you're my friend on Facebook it might not be all that apparent.

9. Compare her development to other babies and / or books. Then get competitive about it. All I need say here is that I have spent a large proportion of the past week trying to teach C to roll. Unfortunately, she's far more interested in chewing everything she can get her hands on. 

10. Talk about my child's poo. It turns out this is an essential part of being a parent. Who knew?

Friday, 26 October 2012

What a year

Just over a year ago, I indulged my inner fluff with this post. Little did I know that when I wrote it, I was the teeniest, tiniest bit pregnant with the little girl who is currently snuffling at me through the baby monitor (and the reason I really should be asleep right now since she's bound to awake in half an hour or so).

So here we are, another year married, and I think I can safely say it's been the best yet. Last year we stayed in a posh hotel, indulged in an expensive dinner, stayed up late indulging in other things...this year we had an M&S dine in for £10 meal and were in bed by half 9 (and not because of any other things), to be woken again at 10 by the reason it's been the best year yet. We really are very, very lucky indeed.

And she's awake again, so I'll have to leave without extended soppiness, except to say that as well as all the things I said he was last year, The Boy is also the incredible father I knew he would be, and makes my heart sing with happiness every time I see him with his little girl (and the way her face lights up when she hears his key in the door each evening makes it just melt). Oh, and also that if by next year there were two littlies around: well, I would really be rather pleased. Yes, that's right, I'm seriously considering going again in the very near future. Well, C is so great; why wait?!

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Some much needed perspective

We finally got the chance to chat over the birth afterthoughts meeting at about 11 last night (probably not the most sensible time as C was then up 4 times last night but there you go). I'm still very upset about it all. I feel guilt, failure, disappointment. I hope that will change with time. But I'm now making a conscious decision that the way I need to deal with it for the time being is to file it away and stop thinking about it. It's not going to change anything, after all. And as The Boy very wisely said to me last night, in response to one of my more ridiculous comments, "Of course I'm proud of you. I couldn't be more proud. But not because of the birth - yes, I'm proud of you for that, you were amazing, but I would have been proud of you if you'd pushed her out of your nose...(I'm omitting the 10 minute soliloquay complete with dramatic interval he then went into about how, actually, it would have been really amazing if I had pushed her out of my nose, etc. etc.)...None of the birth stuff matters to C. The way she was born doesn't matter, and won't have any impact on the rest of her life. It's all the stuff you're doing now that is actually going to affect and shape her, and that's why I'm amazed by you."

Sometimes he really amazes me, too.

So here's my perspective. The day that C was born, I posted this birth announcement on a forum I use. This is the important stuff. (Warning - it is incredibly fluffy!)

I'm absolutely thrilled to announce the safe arrival of Clementine Posy Alice, weighing 7lb 15oz at 10.29 this morning.

We should have known that with Friday 13th for a birthday she'd keep us on our toes and the labour and delivery ended up as far away from our original hopes as you can possibly get. We were hoping for a water birth at the midwife led birth centre but due to meconium in the waters,a really long latent stage of labour, failure to progress past 4 cm even after 4 hours of strong, regular augmented contractions all topped off with fetal distress, I ended up with an emergency section. This was the last thing I ever thought I wanted but actually, I'm happy that, in the circumstances, it was absolutely the best outcome for all of us. H was incredible, hypnobirthing kept me going for as far as I got and Clemmie is absolutely.gorgeous and worth every minute of heartache and waiting.

After 2 1/2 years of disappointment, tears and wondering if it would ever be our turn , h and I finally have all we dreamed of :heart: 


P.S. I finally got around to opening C's bank account today. The man who sorted the paperwork looked at it and said 'Clementine Posy Alice. That's unusual. Well, I like Posy.' Which made me giggle.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Birth Afterthoughts

We went for a Birth Afterthoughts meeting this afternoon - the chance to go through your notes with a very experienced midwife. It was interesting. I cried, a lot, starting from the moment she went through my birth plan at the start of my notes - it ended up being so far from the reality. I think it helped, but I'm not certain. It turns out C had changed positions (before the epidural, thank goodness, because that was one of my worries - that having the epidural caused the rest of it) which resulted in my failure to progress. The syntocin drip most likely caused her distress though (because of her position causing her head to squash against bone, poor love). It turns out the midwife fought really hard to keep me off the drip for as long as I did, which was a surprise, as one of my overwhelming impressions was that she just wanted me to have the epidural and shut up. Most of the time it said I was coping well, but I hated reading the bits which said I was 'very distressed'. I don't actually recall feeling 'very distressed' at any point; a bit in need of direction, perhaps, but not distressed. I need to talk that one over with The Boy, I think - he had to rush out to band the minute we got back so we haven't really talked it over.

Apparently there's no reason to think the same would happen next time, or that I couldn't have a vaginal birth. It would have to be on labour ward though, which at the moment I really don't think I could face. At the meeting we agreed an action plan to let me meet with a consultant midwife to formulate a plan in my next pregnancy, so maybe we could reach an agreement on care. I might still be able to use the water, for example. The thing is, if next time went the same way, I'm not sure I'd get over it.

I can just about cope with thinking that there were specific circumstances leading to this outcome, this time. But if it happened again...well then it truly would be my fault, my failure. Because I still most definitely feel that I failed; that maybe there's something I could have done differently; that right down to the meconium in the waters, somehow it was all my fault that it went the way it did. I wasn't strong enough, brave enough, persistent enough. I was weak, a wimp, pathetic, not coping, a failure. I couldn't cope with the pain. It made me 'very distressed', apparently. Millions of women manage it, and I couldn't. I failed, completely, utterly and spectacularly.

And everyone just says 'but the important thing is C's here, and she's fine'. They're right, of course. Of course they're right. Only then I just feel worse about it, because not only did I fail at labour but now I'm failing at putting it into perspective too. A big fat F all round then. For a straight A student, that's pretty hard to swallow.

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Sleep

It really does become an obsession once you have a baby. It starts when you're pregnant, with all the parents you know telling you you'll never sleep again, rather gleefully in most cases. And then once the baby's here, it just ramps up even more. First it's how much sleep you lost during the labour, then in those first few nights with the new baby. You're obsessed with getting the baby to have enough sleep, at the right times; at not letting them get overtired or sleep too long and miss a feed. For everyone else you meet, it's 'is the baby good?' - meaning, does she sleep? After the first few days, it starts to be about how much sleep you are or aren't getting. You count up the hours, in their little dribs & drabs - 2 hours here, 3 there, another one then. Somehow even if they do manage to add up the the magic 7 or 8 hours, you still feel exhausted. Your partner may well assure you he is even more exhausted, which may just result in your first fight as parents - 'How can YOU be exhausted, when you had TWO whole nights at home while I was in hospital?!'.You suddenly realise that this is it; this baby is yours and no-one is going to take her away to let you get a good night's sleep - these few snatched hours here and there, they're it, for the time being at least. You knew it before, of course, and everyone told you, but suddenly you really realise it.

Then it's a couple of weeks later, and you've got your little routine. You tell yourself you're used to the disturbed sleep, that it isn't that bad. You celebrate every extra 5 minutes at a time that the baby manages to sleep. Maybe you get a four or five hour stretch for the first time since she arrived and the next day you feel amazing. You marvel at how, in times gone by, 5 hours would have left you exhausted but now leaves you revitalised. On meeting with your mummy friends, you obsessively compare notes, exchange tips, commiserate over bad nights.

By 10 weeks, you're really searching for that holy grail of sleep: the baby who sleeps through. 5 hours just doesn't cut it anymore - the last ten weeks of sleep deprivation (not to mention all those nights of pregnancy insomnia) have taken their toll and you are wandering around something like the walking dead. If you're especially unlucky, your baby hasn't managed more than a 3 hour stretch of sleep since he or she arrived. Or they were showing early signs of promise but broke during a growth spurt and haven't fixed themselves yet (C, I'm looking at you). Now you really understand what tired is. And you turn to your friends excitedly awaiting the arrival of their new baby in a couple of weeks and tell them 'get your rest now; you'll never sleep again you know'. What you forget to tell them, though, is that, however tired you may be, however fed up with your baby for waking again, when you know they can't really be hungry, there'll be a moment when your baby looks up at you with her huge blue eyes and beams at you and instantly you'll forget that it's 4am and you're up for the sixth time that night and haven't had more than 2 hours sleep at a stretch for the last 8 weeks and you will just think 'yes, I love you, and you are the best thing I have ever done'. And in that moment, sleep just isn't all that important after all.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Birth story - the reality - Part 2

The reason the plan changed, you see, is because there was meconium in my waters. Which meant, instead of the small, calm, peaceful midwife birth centre and birth pool I had hoped for, we had to go to the huge, bustling maternity hospital for continuous monitoring and a 'high risk' labour and delivery. I was pretty sure there was meconium in my waters as soon as they'd broken because the colour didn't seem quite right, but hoped I was mistaken so we jumped in the car (well, in reality I expect I staggered) and headed to the birth centre to get checked out. The less said of The Boy's chosen route to the birth centre (the speed bumps!), the better.

And once we had arrived and I'd been checked over, got straight back into the car and made our way to the hospital instead. I was still coping well with contractions at this point, breathing and loving my TENS machine, and although I really, really didn't want to be on labour ward, the midwives at the birth centre were encouraging that all would be well and I'd be back with them, bringing my baby too, for breakfast. If only.

The only word to describe the atmosphere on labour ward is 'grim'. We arrived, at midnight, the only people there, to be greeted by a receptionist (after a good twenty minute wait to be let in) snarling 'why are you here?'. Sadly, due to contractions, my wit and sarcasm failed me so I could only respond rather meekly. What on earth did she think I was doing there, if not to have a baby?! After being shown into a room (small, dingy, bare except for a bed) and receiving the reply to our polite enquiries, 'what do you mean ACTIVE birth?!' I'm afraid the excitement of the whole experience was starting to wane somewhat. But we persisted, The Boy with his counting, me with my breathing, and hoped that despite the change in location we could still have close to the birth experience we wanted.

Eventually a midwife arrived, examined me (only 3cm, pathetic) and hooked me up to a monitor. After this things are quite blurry. It started to hurt quite a bit more, though I was still doing ok with breathing and TENS. I did start to worry a bit though - I had been counting on water for once it all got too much to handle, and this avenue was now closed to me. When we discussed this with the midwife, though, she said I could have a bath if I wanted. I still don't really understand why a bath was ok but not a birth pool, but there you go. The bath was heaven, but just made me feel even more upset that I wasn't going to be able to use water throughout.

At some point I got out of the bath, and the midwife checked me again. I had only made one cm progress. This wasn't quick enough, so they said I needed to go on a drip (syntocin). We had been fighting this since we'd arrived at midnight, and it was now about 5am, and, having only made a tiny bit of progress in that time, the fight just left me. The drip meant an epidural, and that was that. I was flat on the bed, hooked up to all these machines - exactly what I had really, really wanted to avoid. I don't remember all that much about getting the epidural (according to The Boy I was completely zoning out between each contraction) but I do remember feeling extremely annoyed when they told me it would take about half an hour to take effect. I had sacrificed everything, the whole birth experience I had wanted was gone, just like that; I'd given in and had an epidural and I was still going to have to experience another thirty minutes of pain. How dare they?!

At this point I have to get quite factual, one because this is long enough already and two, because I still feel incredibly emotional (and like a failure, if I'm completely honest) about how it all ended up. Apparently I responded well to the drip, and they said they'd check me in 4 hours, at which point they expected me to be fully dilated and ready to push. We dozed a bit, finally came clean to our families about what was going on, stared into space and watched the clock quite a lot. After about 2 hours I noticed there were a lot more people coming into the room and checking the monitor. After about 3 they told us the baby was in a bit of distress, but nothing to worry about. A few minutes later they said they wanted to see if I was ready to push, even though it was a bit early. I was still four flipping centimetres.

A nice lady doctor came in and told me I hadn't really progressed, the baby was in some distress, what did I think we should do? I can't imagine any single person giving a different response. I said I thought I'd like the baby to be born now. Five minutes later I was in theatre. (I found out later I'd also started to bleed whilst they were examining me, hence the rush to get me into theatre once I consented.)

When she was born, Clementine didn't cry. They took her away to check her over, and we didn't see her for ten minutes. I kept asking if she was ok and they said yes, but I didn't really believe them. I told The Boy to go and see her, but he point blank refused to go anywhere near the part of me that was cut open (I'm sure they wouldn't have let him move anyway). Finally they bought her to us, all cleaned up, wrapped completely in a blanket. Her eyes were closed; she was completely still: no sign even that she was breathing. She looked like a doll, or... I couldn't say it, couldn't ask the question, but I really thought that she hadn't made it. This is the thing I think I find the hardest about the whole bloody thing; that for the first few minutes of my daughter's life, I believed she was dead (in reality, her Apgar score at one minute was 9. She couldn't have been healthier). I couldn't hold her, because I was shaking too much, so The Boy took her. Bless him, he made sure one piece of my blasted birth plan was followed, the bit which said 'I would like skin-to-skin with my baby as soon as she is born. If for any reason I cannot do this, I would like The Boy to instead', and stuck her under his scrubs.

We were parents, and once I finally got to hold her, after I was all stitched up and being wheeled back to Labour Ward, I knew it. Completely and utterly, she was mine, and I loved her.