The first week home…

So our first week home was just over 6 months ago.  In one breath it could’ve been yesterday in another it seems like a lifetime ago.

car seat baby2
Let’s go home puffy baby

Anyways, after all of the excitement of the birth, the coming home outfit etc. you make it back with your new car seat, and your new babe.  I remember slowly shuffling through the door, after literally feeling every little bump in the road home, vibrate up through my body and escape from my wound, and saying to Zoe, what do we do now then?  Luckily we had our first task all ready to go as the babe had taken, what was to be the first of many car poos, and it was literally everywhere, pretty much up to her neck.  Then the reality hits, we have a whole tiny human to look after forever.  Here are just a few things that really stuck in my mind about that first week.

 

1.  Firstly the sleeping, or lack of…

You know you are going to be tired.  But you are not prepared for the level of tiredness that will hit you over those first few days and weeks.  Not only are you waking up to feed through the night which is completely alien.  But if you have a baby like ours, she also didn’t sleep much in the day (despite all the pictures we seem to have of her sleeping) and therefore neither could I.   Plus at the beginning when she slept I just wanted to watch her, if only to make sure she was still breathing!

The first night home was our worst night and has not been topped.  At one point both O and I were in tears.  O because, well she’s a baby and that’s what they do and me because, well hormones.  O also had this little cough noise which I was convinced was something terrible and this escalated my crying.  Turns out it was a symptom of silent reflux, but this wasn’t diagnosed for another few weeks yet.  Luckily Zoe was not crying, so was able to look after both of us like a champ – thanks babe.

sleeping 2
So, so tired

 

On top of the general changes in sleep patterns, breastfeeding made me so tired.  Let’s face it, you are sustaining a life with your melons, your massive melons, so it’s bound to make you tired, oh and so amazingly thirsty.  There were times that I just couldn’t keep my eyes open and you just have to give in to the inevitable.  Plus I don’t think I will ever sleep properly again, the slightest movement or sound from the babe and I am wide awake anyway.

sleeping and feeding 2
Grabbing those 10 winks

 

Grab 40 winks, or even just 10 winks whenever and wherever you can.  I know it’s easier said than done with so much going on,  but having something in my tank other than copious amounts of water and Go Ahead biscuits, just about kept me going.

2.  My body after a C-section…

I had not prepared myself for still looking completely pregnant after giving birth.  I knew I wouldn’t just ping back, and will probably never get back to my pre-pregnancy bod, and I’m fine with that.  But I looked about 6 months pregnant for a week after O was born and had severe water retention.  Please refer to exhibit A – the flattering photo below which includes me in my anti-embolism socks, paper pants and giant sanitary towel – I’ve decided nothing is TMI when it comes to having a baby.  There are far too many taboos surrounding pregnancy and birth in my opinion, so I’ve included a photo of some of them – I know what you’re thinking – hot right!!  And although I was totally happy with my body and in awe of what it had achieved, it was still something I was unprepared for.

mirror pic 2
Exhibit A

 

The major operation I had just had meant that laying down was a bit of a challenge and one I had not given a second thought to.  Anyone who has had a C-section or an operation in that area and has made this grave mistake knows the pain I am talking about.  I am not exaggerating when I say I laid down and could not get back up.   I can still feel it now if I think about it.  It was excruciating.  We actually slept downstairs for a couple of weeks after the first night home as I just could not get comfortable and getting up and down to feed was hard.

Just one other body-related thing to mention here.  The amount of gas and sweat that will leave your body during this first week and beyond is phenomenal.  It. Just. Keeps. Coming.  I felt like I sweated and passed wind more times in that first week than I had done in my entire life leading up to the birth.  And I have never returned to normal – just putting that out there.  You’re welcome.

3.  Breastfeeding is amazing, but at the beginning it hurts…

Breastfeeding was the single biggest thing I remember from those first 7 days.  I am going to do a whole post on this as I bloody love breastfeeding.  Everything about it. Talking about it, meeting up with other BF mamas, going to events, wearing pins, posting on Instagram, I could go on.  I really am one of ‘those’ people and I love it.

We had always known breastfeeding was for us.  We bought all the bottles, steriliser etc. But really had little intention of using it unless we had to.  O latched straight away during skin-to-skin.  Her position was good from the outside.  Nice flange, chin in a good position, and the right amount of areola showing – jackpot.  However what you couldn’t see was that her bottom lip was being taken in over her gum.  Cue toe-curling, tear-inducing pain and a super red shiny baby chin.  Now I know that ‘it isn’t meant to hurt if you are doing it correctly’ but let’s face it ladies, it bloody hurts.  It hurts because it’s new to you and your babe.  Because at this stage, with a first babe anyway, you don’t have a clue what you are doing and because you are probably a little (a lot) exhausted.  There is so much more detail I could go into but I think breastfeeding deserves its own post…..or maybe 5.  Anyway back to the first week.

shiney mouth 2
That shiny red chin though…

My secret weapon, apart from copious amounts of Lansinoh, was a good friend (who is also a breastfeeding peer supporter at a local Sure Start Children’s Centre).  Four days after the birth she was sitting on my sofa, helping me to latch our baby.  Showing me how to hand express.  Telling me about different positions to feed in.  Just generally giving me support and a pat on the back.  The thing about the supporters is that they have to have breastfed for at least 6 months to allow them to be a peer supporter.  Unlike midwives who do not need anything more than basic training to offer you advice. Personally my experience in the hospital with breastfeeding support was not great.  There is also something so much more comforting when the person helping you has also experienced these things and they can empathise with you.  I also went to two local breastfeeding support sessions and saw a lactation consultant and they were a massive help too.  Without them, I don’t think I would have given up, but I would have had more bad latches, been scared to reposition and had sore nipples for longer.   I definitely had feelings of giving up during the most painful feeds.  Thank goodness for those amazing women, and my partner in crime for constantly telling me to stop leaning forward, bring the baby to you, take her off and try again.  Thank you all.

breastfeeding support 2
Getting help at the local breastfeeding support group

 

 

Breastfeeding is hard work.  Not only did I find it physically painful in the beginning, but also mentally draining.  I became obsessed with tracking everything.  Which side, how long, good or bad feed?  I was also tracking when she pooed, how many nappies I had changed, when she slept etc.  I am just one of those people, I like lists, but I also became obsessed with wanting to have all the answers for the questions the Midwife and Health Visitor may ask.  If you are reading this and you are in those tough first few weeks, it does get better, trust me, and if you need support find out where your local breast feeding support group is (and take your partner if you can) – you won’t regret it.

4.  My boobs, oh my boobs…

Now I have small boobs ordinarily.  You know the kind you couldn’t hold a pencil underneath.  Pregnancy has changed all of that.  I knew when my milk came in they would get bigger but I had not prepared myself for such humongous mammaries post birth.  In fact I really hadn’t given much thought to my ‘milk coming in’ at all.  For those who have had a baby, I am sure you will understand this next description, and for those who haven’t, really try to visualise this next bit.  Imagine two boulders, each the size of your own head.   Now stick them to the front of you.  And make them super, super sensitive and sore.  You cannot move these boulders and no amount of trying to get them comfortable works.  The only relief is expressing or feeding and both are painful.  There you have it, your post-birth boobs.

After 5 days of being inside the house, basically moving between the living room and bathroom, cabin fever had well and truly set in.  I had to get out (with the fam of course, not do a runner type thing).  Well what a mistaker-to-maker.  It was too soon after the surgery and basically all I remember from that trip is my boobs.  My thunderous boobs.  (oh and the chilli jacket potato from M&S café).  The slightest brush of my arm past these milk filled vessels was agony and I literally thought they could explode at any moment.  It did get better but for that first week or so it just kills.

Leaky 2
Leaky, milky maid in the middle of the night

 

Next think massive udders being milked and squirting all over the place in several streams and directions.  Well that’s what it’s like when you have hyper-lactation.  I have an extreme amount of milk.  I did at the beginning and I still do now.  There is no way I could go without pads even just for an hour.  In fact as I am writing this I am on my fourth bra today.  Having forgotten to put my pads in repeatedly after feeding – baby brain is most definitely real.  I had to carry a spare bra in the nappy bag.  I still feel my letdown build-up and come out several times a day outside of feeding.  Milk management was, and continues to be, a massive part of our journey, although its much easier now, and I would much rather have too much than not enough.

5.  The overwhelming joy I felt, and tears I cried…

Above all else what I felt was total joy, there were some tears and ‘Jeez what do we do now?’ moments but you just get on with it.  We had waited so long for O and like most, thought we were totally prepared but very quickly we came to the realisation that we are all just winging it in the most glorious way.  Through the sleep deprivation, leaking boulder boobs and getting over having my nipples out all over the show, this parenting gig is totally awesome (although there were times it didn’t feel like it in that first week!).  Many times I just cried.  Cried because my nipples hurt.  Cried because I was tired.  Cried because – we made this (this being our babe).  Cried because we decided it would be a great idea to binge watch Call the Midwife – a word of advice, don’t do that.  And of course all of those happy tears.

tiny babe in carrier 2
We made this – cue happy tears, lots of them

 

I am sure there are many things I have forgotten about and meant to keep a much more detailed diary, but you know, parenting and all that got in the way.  How did you find your first week? I’m always interested to hear other Mama’s (and anyone else involved) experiences.

The one about baby making before IVF – coming soon

Our birth story…

At 09:45 on Thursday 23rd February 2017, after a speedy elective C-section, we welcomed Ottilie Asta, our beautiful daughter, into the world.  We tried for around 3 years to get to this moment, but I’ll cover all of those details another time, this one is just about the most special day of our life.

IMG_6954

We arrived at the hospital at 7am on a very cold and windy morning, it was actually the day that Storm Doris hit us.  After a quick chat with our midwife, I was given my two sexy hospital gowns – one to cover the front and one for the back – anti-embolism socks to adorn and Zoe fulfilled a lifelong dream and got into her electric blue scrubs.  I took my last pregnant selfie whilst getting ready and then at 09:00 we were taken down to the operating theatre.  I remember feeling very strange knowing that when we were next in that corridor we would both be mums.

The theatre was all very odd, there were so many people in there.  The surgeon, midwives, anesthetists, porters, nurses to name just a few, all just talking very calmly amongst themselves about very normal non-medical things.  I was sitting on the edge of the bed anxiously looking out of the window – a window in the operating theatre, who knew?  And was quietly terrified about the epidural and then I was suddenly the centre of everyone’s attention and the questions started.  Can you feel this?  Is it cold?  Can you move your arm there?  Can I just stick this here?  I was overwhelmed and at one point I remember saying to Zoe and the midwives, I can only see half of your faces.  This of course was completely ridiculous, as they all had their heads completely intact and I hadn’t even had any drugs yet – it was a bizarre feeling.

IMG_6967

At 09:37, as I sat clenching my pillow, the anesthetic was administered which stung a little and then a minute later the epidural.  I can honestly say I had nothing to worry about there, yes there are the risks, which we were made fully aware of on that massive bit of yellow paper you have to sign.  But for me personally I had hyped it up to something it wasn’t and squeezed the life out of the midwifes hand in the process.  I was told that I had 10 seconds to lay down and get into position once it had been injected, and being a bit slow I didn’t make it in time so they then had to bounce me about to get me to the right place.  Zoe was told she could move closer at that point and the blue curtain was pulled up.

WE. WERE. READY.

We had a few requests: That the curtain was lowered as O was born, we wanted to keep our placenta and we had our own crocheted cord-tie to use – a rainbow and cloud one obvs – and that was it.  I was suitably numb from the chest down and then the procedure began.  It was an odd feeling, like I knew something was going on, but it just felt unusual, not even uncomfortable, just strange.   Zoe said I was being pulled around all over the place as she was peeping around the curtain and then I heard the word forceps – wait, wait, what do you mean forceps?  Ottilie was so big that 5 people could not get her out of the sunroof, even with the surgeon pulling at the slice from one side whilst the others pushed my bump, they needed bloody forceps.  I remember hearing it but it didn’t register, I actually think I went a bit mad in that room, time just didn’t seem real and it was like I wasn’t myself for a few minutes.

Anyways skip to 09:45, just 8 minutes after I was sitting on the bed getting an epidural, the blue curtain was dropped and there was Shelley our midwife, holding up our little big babe. The rush of love and absolute relief that she was here and healthy was like a wave crashing over me.

IMG_6979

She was taken away to get checked over and Zoe was off, she cut the cord and our placenta was checked and put in a pot ready to get collected for encapsulation.

 IMG_7015

And then she was brought to me.  All 9lb 14ozs of her.  Our pink, squidgy little babe who we had waited so long for, was finally here.   We were in love immediately of course, but there wasn’t a massive display of gushing tears as you see on one born or in the films.  Just a few slow tears that rolled across the bridge of my nose at just how amazing it was to have our baby here in my arms.  Actually it was more like one arm as there really isn’t a lot of room on those beds after a C-section.  After a few minutes, off Zoe and O went so they could sew me back together again.

IMG_6989

This next bit goes by in a blur and I felt like I was only there for another 30 seconds, although it was much longer.  I was sharply brought back to reality by someone telling me that they were just popping a suppository in, followed by them putting their finger up my bum which was A-OK with me.  Whatever got me back to my gang the quickest.

IMG_7028

We had skin-to-skin. O latched straight away and quite frankly it could not have been more perfect (apart from my puffy face and hair in this pic which is far from instagram ready #whereareallmykeepingitrealmumsat).  And then we were three, the Hanson-Medleys, the newest girl-gang on the block, and it felt unbelievable.  We were able to go home the next day, where the fun really started.

IMG_7086IMG_7096

On the subject of elective C-sections, prior to O being born, I struggled with making the decision about the best option for our birth.  Even after we decided on an elective C-section I was still questioning myself.  What if they’ve got it wrong about her being big?  What if everyone thinks I’m ‘too posh to push’?  Is this an unnecessary prolonged recovery?  And all of that could’ve been so.  But I can honestly say, as she was born I knew we had made the right decision.  We had the most amazing experience, it was calm, we were in control and we have a perfect little babe at the end of it.  Neither of us experienced any trauma or distress (apart from the half-headed people and the babe probably feeling like she was plucked too soon – although we were 40+5 with her making no attempt to vacate).  And although there are obviously risks involved, I know we 100% made the right decision for us and I could not be happier.

If anyone is struggling with the same decision, just be brave.  You know what’s best for you, your body and your baby.  We could not have asked for a more positive and amazing birth experience, and ending this in the words of Kylie –  if I had to do it all again, I wouldn’t change a single thing.

The one about our first week home – coming soon