Wrapped around the finger of a five week old.

Hello all!

So much to update…where to start? Well as this is an egocentric blog lets starts with me :-).

I’ve been through a lot of changes since I got back from hospital. Again this is probably going to contain instances of overshare but you’re used to that by now.

The first few nights I experienced an unprecedented level of sweatiness which, coming from a Scot normally resident in Bangkok, is quite something. I woke up several times every night in soaking wet clothes. Plus I had a few nasty spells of the shakes. I’m not talking ‘Brrr- it’s a bit chilly’ shakes but rather ‘OMG, do I need to go to hospital, my whole body has been shaking uncontrollably for 45 minutes’ shakes. According to the midwives I was sweating out excess pregnancy fluid and shaking out excess breast milk as my ‘engorgement’ was pretty intense.

In hindsight it seems pretty obvious that if you push an 8 pound 9 baby out of your snatch you’re going to experience a little discomfort but no one warned me how long this might go on for. I had the one week mark in my head from somewhere but that was sooooo not my experience. It was fine when I was lying down but when I sat or walked I felt like Squirt’s entire weight was back pressing on my stitches. It took me 3 weeks to be brave enough to look down there. It’s not as bad as I feared, thankfully. It took me a month to not wince when I peed. If I was straight I’m not sure I’d ever have sex again. At one point I convinced myself something was wrong and went to see my GP:

‘And how would you like me to check that?’

‘Well, as far as I know there’s only one way….’

It felt very odd, like I was forcing him to check out my vag. Not something I suggest for kicks, really. His verdict:

‘Yeah, having a baby will do that to you.’

 

 

It was a joy to no longer be peeing every 10 minutes or swigging Gaviscon like it was water in a desert but the money saved was diverted to sanitary towels. I was told a few times to keep one eye on the blood loss and read something somewhere which used an analogy of a leaking tap and how much water that could quickly add up to. I had a little scare when the blood loss tapered off and then returned with a vengeance on the 10th day. A panicky call to the midwife was met with the telephone equivalent of a shrug and advice to ‘keep an eye on it’. I wasn’t really sure what that meant but I didn’t bleed to death and it stopped around day 14 so I guess it’s OK.

I bet you’re all dying to hear about my bowels :-). It took 2 weeks for that to normalise and become pain free but I’m happy to report it wasn’t anything like as bad as that first time in hospital. My pregnancy farting hasn’t dissipated though. But now I can blame the smell on Squirt, who takes after his mother in the trumping department.

And now the boobs. By far the hardest thing about having Squirt has been the breast feeding- or lack thereof. I was told by midwives in hospital, midwives at home, the health visitor and a lactation consultant that there was nothing wrong with either Squirt or me and we could and would successfully breast feed. Despite this my nipples did impressions of moles disappearing into holes every time his gaping mouth approached, he sucked maybe five times before giving up and either falling asleep or screaming blue murder and I have never seen him swallow or get any milk. I freaked out, got frustrated, cried and felt like a failure before I made the decision to give up and continue solely expressing my milk. When we first came home I was pumping every 3 hours, which I switched to every 4 hours a few days later. I’m pleased to say my big boobs have come in useful for something and I am consistently expressing much more milk than he needs. After a month I have maybe 8 or 9 days additional milk stored in the freezer. Which is satisfying but depressing as I have no way to get it to Thailand still frozen and will have to sacrifice it.

I have sailed close to post partum depression on a few occasions mostly as a direct result of this issue. I beat myself up because breast is best and I feel like I’m not doing my duty as a mother. I beat myself up because I spend more time hooked up to a pump than I spend feeding him and I’m not convinced we’re getting the bonding time that we should be. I beat myself up because I feel like I didn’t try hard enough and the experts are telling me I should be able to do it but whenever I even think about trying again I feel panicky and tearful. I beat myself up because I can’t face dealing with nipple confusion, latching positions and attempting to breast feed every three hours plus pumping every four. And I am tired. Dog tired.

So I push thoughts of attempting to get Squirt back on the breast and all my qualms about pumping away and focus on the positive, like:

I’ve dropped from 14 stone 2 pounds to 12 stone 5 pounds in four weeks and I’m still eating bread, cheese and CAKE!

I have an amazing wife who happily gets up to feed and put a gassy Squirt back to sleep during the night while I’m hooked up to the breast pump.

I have been staying with my parents who have been amazing, keeping Squirt late in the evening and early in the morning so we can get a few hours uninterrupted kip and taking him when we need a break.

For the most part Squirt is a relatively easy, happy and healthy baby.

 

And now onto the little man himself! Squirt recovered quickly from the jaundice as soon as he started drinking proper quantities of milk. I say proper quantities, I should say huge quantities. The midwives told me he should have regained his birth weight by two weeks. At 10 days he had surpassed that by 6 ounces. We are waiting for his 6 week check up to get his next weigh in but I’m sure he’s gained a ton and grown a bunch. The kid does nothing but eat. All my visitors think I’m crazy as my most commonly asked question is ‘When did he last eat?’ because a: I can’t remember ANYTHING anymore and b: He only cries for more than a minute or two if he’s hungry.

He barely cries but he does suffer from gas which can elicit some yelps and grumbles. In the beginning he rarely burped during feeds. I hoped this was due to the cleverly engineered Dr Brown’s bottle’s we were using but suspect it was more likely our ineptitude at burping. After 3 weeks he started struggling and went from a quiet, happy baby to a grumbling, yelping, red faced, straining baby. He farts unlike any creature I have ever encountered before, including myself. The midwives showed us how to gently push his knees up to his stomach and elicit whoopy cushion sound effects. He also enjoys sitting on people’s laps and straining for 15 minutes before letting fly a sharty (shit/fart) explosion. Heaven help you if you hear gas while his nappy is off as the poo can and will come flying out of his bottom like lava out of a volcano. Plus he likes to pee on people. And himself.

He also gets hiccups several times a day and has pretty spectacular instances of spit-up fountains. My poor, gassy boy. I have eradicated all of the usual suspects from my diet except dairy. I’m praying it’s not the dairy and waiting to see what the Dr says at his 6 week check-up. Please don’t let it be the dairy. In the meantime we’re squirting Infacol down his neck before every feed which seems to help the gas pop up…and down with much more ease. Dr Google recons babies just sometimes need some time to sort their digestion out. Hopefully it should resolve itself soon.

Squirt has changed a lot over the last four weeks. He now has long periods of being awake and has found his voice, shouting and making sweet baby noises when he feels like he’s not getting enough attention. He has also gotten strong. He can now lift his head high for quite long periods of time and enjoys nutting unsuspecting cuddlers. His other new favourite past time is increasing people’s heart rates by using his legs and torso to throw himself about when you’re holding him only under the chin while patting his back to burp him. No one has dropped him…yet. I’m not sure about the smiles vs gas debate yet. His grandma recons she’s had a few real ones but she also has entire conversations with him so may not be the most reliable source.

Routines, especially with regards to sleep are pretty much non-existent. He tends to wake up during meal times. I think he hopes to catch some of the crumbs I tend to drop on him while attempting to eat with one hand. He also like playing possum with everyone, feigning deep sleep during cuddles but springing awake and protesting the minute he is put down. He tends to eat every four hours. Except if you warm milk round the four hour mark, then he’ll sleep for five or six. But if you don’t he’ll wake at four hours to the second and scream like he’s being tortured until someone shoves a bottle in his gob. He tends to drink 90mls. Except for the times he wants 150 or 60. He likes to keep us on our toes.

I think he enjoys causing us to worry. I thought I turned to google often before but that was a drop in the ocean compared to now. If you’re finding the search engine slow recently it’s probably because I’m clogging it up every 20 minutes with searches like: should my babies poo be green? How often should a three week old fart? Should babies strain while pooping? What does infant diarrhoea look like? Etc.

On the worry vein he had a hearing check as he failed while in hospital. He needed to be asleep for the appointment so, of course he slept beautifully all morning and woke up and freaked out when they started poking him. In fairness I’d scream too if someone rubbed patches of hair off my head, sellotaped electrodes to my skull and shoved noisy things in my ear . Plus, after 10 minutes of red-faced, flailing armed freak out he let rip with a spectacular shart, so that might have been part of the issue. Anyway, after a 45 minute trauma he passed with flying colours. His heart check-up is not until next week. We are cautiously optimistic as he seems fine and dandy. But I still worry.

But he’s totally worth it, just look at him!

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A bumpy start to motherhood (birth story part 3)

Sunday:

I was exhausted after a night in the high dependency ward, being disturbed every 15 minutes from my cloud 9 drug coma so they could check I was still alive and kicking. Sometime during the morning I was declared OK and moved to the regular ward, a cramped room with 8 beds closely surrounded by curtains. Between the still very numb legs, the IVs and the catheter I was bed bound, struggling to change Squirt and failing to breast feed, despite lots of help from the midwives. The new grandparents arrived for visiting hours and left shortly after. The day passed in a quick haze and I had a reasonably good night’s sleep, only waking a few times to change and fail to feed Squirt.

 

Monday:

The morning doctor checks declared me reasonably fit and well but the nursery nurse said she though Squirt was jaundiced. A paediatrician later confirmed that he was jaundiced, although not enough to require treatment…yet. By late afternoon I was released from my bed and my pee tube and able to take possibly the most enjoyable shower of my life and hobble around in a way which made me miss my pregnant waddle. I was still failing to feed Squirt and had been told it was important he fed every three hours to recover from the jaundice. Neither myself nor the midwives had been able to get an increasingly sleepy Squirt to latch on successfully so it was suggested that I express and cup feed in order to meet his demands. My first attempt produced a paltry 11mls which was celebrated by the staff, apparently anything over 7 is good in the first stages. That night I expressed every 3 hours and laboriously fed Squirt with the cup, glad he was finally eating, even though he only drank a few mls before he fell back asleep.

 

Tuesday:

Again the doctors informed me I was fine but Squirt was still had an air of tumeric about him. I continued to express, with my enormous boobs finally proving their worth with their production impressing the midwives and leading to jokes about me being a wet nurse for the whole ward. I was still cup feeding but became quite stressed when the Dr told me he should now be having 30mls every 3 hours. He never had more than 10 before nodding off again. This led to a day and night of hourly feeds with my 45 minute opportunities to sleep being thwarted by one of the many noisy, colicky babies on the ward. It was quite interesting to ear-wig on the other patients around me. There were lots of members of staff passing through and they all, almost always said the same thing about the babies. Squirt was always called gorgeous, bonnie, cute or handsome (naturally), the kid to my right ‘has a great head of hair, hasn’t she?’ (I heard at least 6 people say exactly that) and the baby opposite ‘was very long’. I also enjoyed watching and listening to the new mums and dads interacting with each other. It was a little like watching a dramatic, hormone intensified soap opera. I had to find some way to entertain myself between feeds when my kindle battery died.

 

Wednesday:

By this point I felt like I had boulders in my colon and was terrified of going anywhere near my stitches. I had heard horrible stories about women’s first poop following childbirth and I can whole heartedly concur. Regular readers will be aware that I occassionally have a slight tendency to overshare ;-), but even I cannot bring myself to share this experience. Suffice to say I would rather give birth again than go through that ever again.

Squirt was still jaundiced and his levels were still rising. I was now failing to meet the required 50mls every three hours and starting to struggle with the week of fairly extreme sleep deprivation and a flood of hormonal emotions. Eventually I tearfully explained my predicament to the nursery nurse and she told me to use bottles rather than the cup to feed. I almost lost it when Squirt immediately gobbled down the required 50ml in 3 minutes flat. Why the hell didn’t anyone tell me before? I was convinced that he would have recovered from his jaundice already had I done this immediately. I had no idea I was making life more difficult for myself by trying to cup feed. After he started receiving proper quantities of milk Squirt perked up considerably, happily farting away and filling nappies at such a pace that I went through a whole packet of wipes and half our nappy supply in one day. I had another sleepless night, disturbed by a 10 pound, inconsolable baby next door who SCREAMED for long enough for my tired and uncharitable self to being making mental suggestions involving open windows, while my own little cherub whimpered for less than 30 secs when he was ready for another feed.

Thursday:

Again I was pronounced fine (although I was quite shocked when I caught sight of my wan, drawn complexion in one of the few mirrors on the ward, and every midwife who came to see me asked if I was always pale- answer: no). Squirt was still jaundiced when the doctor checked. She seemed to be taken longer than normal when she was using the stethoscope. She gently told me she could hear a murmur and I disintegrated, post-partum hormones, stress and sleep deprivation finally getting the better of me. I sobbed through a huge, snotty bout of ugly crying while she gave me a wealth of information I wasn’t really capable of absorbing. Sometime during her explanation WW arrived with the beginning of visiting hours and so the doctor started again. The gist was it was common and could be nothing or it could require surgery and she was booking us in for an echo cardiogram as soon as possible. We had the scan done, little Squirt continuing to be on his best behaviour, not wriggling or protesting at all. Later the doctor confirmed that the scan had shown a Ventricular Septal Defect, a hole between his ventricular chambers that was supposed to have closed after birth and hadn’t. It could eventually close by itself or it might require surgery to close it. We are booked in for another appointment with a cardiologist in 6 weeks and were told we can’t fly back to Thailand until he has been checked in case the change in pressure affected his heart. I continued to breakdown on and off all afternoon, unable to sleep for worrying. WW stayed late with me and minutes before my dad arrived at 10pm to take her home we got our first piece of good news: Squirt’s jaundice levels had finally plateaued and we could go home. After I checked there was no immediate risk because of his heart condition there was no way in hell I was risking my remaining sanity by staying by myself trying to hold my shit together over another sleepless night. So I jumped on it and started a two hour fight to get discharged, calmly listening as they suggested it was a too late and I should wait until morning, then firmly telling them I was leaving regardless. We eventually escaped and arrived home at 1.30am, with WW taking over for an evening so I could concentrate on just pumping and sleeping.

Now our life as a new family could finally begin.

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Hurry up and wait (birth story, part 1)

(Written 30th July)

So I’ll start by saying that this post is being written at 12.20am on the back of a sanitary towel disposal bag in hospital, where I have been for the last week. Needless to say it might not, therefore be the most compos mentis post I have ever penned. Also this is a birth story, guts and all in my usual style so go ahead and have a big, fat TMI warning.

My story starts on July 22nd, my due date and also my next midwives appointment. Despite cleaning, ironing, fast walking, muttering ‘Get out! Get out! Get out!’, spicy curries and other techniques Squirt was defiantly clinging on. At the midwife appointment my belly measured small again and worryingly unchanged from the last measurement, 2 weeks ago. She also felt a drop in fluid around the baby. Her concern led to another scan in hospital and an induction booked for 9.30pm that evening. Swings and roundabouts, thought I. Not what I was hoping for but at least it would mean no more waiting, which was slowly driving me, and everyone I live with insane.

So that night I checked into hospital, nervous and bummed to be spending the first night in 3 years without WW. I had a not very nice digital examination (not the nice, technological kind of digital but the fingers-up-the-mole-hole kind. Fingers, plural) and a pessary was deployed. I was declared 1cm dilated with a thick posterior cervix and left to sleep, an absolute impossibility due to the racket made by people coming and going, groaning, moaning and vomiting all around me. Then the cramping started.

By morning I was tired but positive. I used the hypnobirthing techniques to breathe through the pain, was skewered by another set of fingers and was informed I would be heading up to the labour suite to have my waters broken. I was a heady mix of excited and have-I-just-pooped-in-my-pants terrified.

Upstairs in the labour suite WW and I discussed all my crunchy granola requests with the midwife who seemed happy to accommodate me. I was especially excited to be told I could drag my stretching vajayjay into the pool almost straight away. Then more fingers, a lot of extraordinary guddling about, my third membrane sweep… to be informed actually they weren’t able to break my waters yet and I was kicked, unceremoniously back downstairs.

Then followed two more torturous days, 2 more pessaries, 4 more digital examinations (the worst of which was delivered by a male doctor using his enormous, hairy fingers to make a motion similar to that which you’d make if you were trying to quickly bung something in a hole and stop a leak, while muttering ‘gently, gently’…..and I was informed I was still thick cervixed and 1cm dialated.

My crunchy, granola plans were dropping by the hour. By the second day of no sleep and constant useless contractions the drugs cabinet was starting to look good. I escalated quickly from paracetamol to codeine to diamorphine as tiredness robbed me of my ability to do the bullshit breathing techniques and visualisations. Diamorphine was AWESOME and I was finally able to get a little, guilt-ridden rest.

By Saturday morning I was tearfully considering asking the next person with their hands in my vagina to yank the bugger out or get slice and dice happy with a scalpel and my tummy. The Docs were a step ahead and a ‘Ah, fuck it. Let’s get this show on the road’ consensus was reached. Back up to labour suite we went, amidst some parental tension as to whether then was an appropriate time for my dad to squeeze in a quick round of golf. Apparently, despite maternal disapproval, it was :-).

 

To be continued….