Wednesday, 15 October 2014

First week being a mummy

The bad night
The night before coming home - he was up all night and would only settle on me - I didn't sleep :P

A week ago today Squidge and I came home from hospital and began our family life together with the hubby.  It's been the most amazing, wonderful and tiring week I've ever had, and I've been somewhat emotional.  It's been filled with ups and downs but it's an experience I wouldn't change for anything.

The week started off very difficult.  Apart from being very sore from the stitches and the long labour (read more about that here), I'd also had a sleepless night at the hospital the night before - Squidge just wouldn't settle - no nurses were on hand to help me and I had no idea what he needed (it turned out he wanted more food, but I had no idea).  Needless to say it's been a big learning curve for me (and the hubby).  He'd only settle on me, so I had to stay awake until about 5am when I managed to get him to sleep for an hour, I was utterly exhausted.

Our first night at home was no better - we learned that cluster feeding existed the hard way and didn't get any sleep until 7am once we put Squidge in his Poddle Pod (what a life saver!).  We did discover a day or two later that keeping the lamp on in the bedroom seems to stop him cluster feeding and feeding normally, we've learned to sleep with the light on now :)

The next couple of nights were much better, he'd sleep for a good couple of hours between feeds which is enough to keep us feeling human.

The highlights
  • Watching Squidge's face and all the little expressions he pulls when he's sleeping
  • Endless cuddles from the little man, and knowing how well he soothes when cuddled up to me
  • Seeing his Daddy take care of him - melts my heart - hubby is such an amazing father
  • His smell - a mixture of milk and the Aldi non-bio washing powder
  • Finally being able to express enough milk so that he's almost 100% fed on breast milk and not formula
  • Going to the breastfeeding clinic yesterday and seeing Squidge latch on and successfully feed, then him feeding again when we were back at home, twice! (here's why it's been so stressful
The lows
  • The frustrations I've had with breastfeeding - I've shed many tears over it
  • Sleep deprivation
  • So many poopy nappies!!!  As much as some of them smell horrendous, it's mixed with pride that he's filling them :)
  • Finding it difficult to get on top of everything like the washing and housework - we've been so tired we just don't have the energy for it

It's been the most wonderful week of my life and one of the most difficult.  We've had immense support from the hubby's parents who have taking loads of washing away for us, brought food over and a gazillion other things I couldn't even begin to list (thank you both) :)

Georgina <3

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

My labour story

I know everyone loves a good birth story, and considering my labour was over 70 hours, this won't be a short post, so maybe go grab a cuppa first :)

Daddy and Squidge
Daddy and Squidge's first pic
Friday 3rd October
My induction was booked in, and at 8am I called the induction ward to see what time they wanted me to go in, but they had no beds.  An hour or so later they called to ask me to go to the maternity assessment unit and have a CTG trace.  We left all our bags and home and had the in laws give us a lift to the hospital, we figured we'd only be there for an hour or two and then we'd be back at home waiting for the ward to call.

After an hour and a half of waiting at the assessment unit they called me and said 'Head to the induction ward, you're going to be induced now'! That was the last thing I was expecting!  So off we wandered to the ward, I was feeling lots of excitement and nerves, it was about to happen!!!

They hooked me up to a CTG monitor, took all my vital stats and within the hour the first pessary was in place - (I forget what it was called, but it was like a strip of bandage, they said it was like a tampon that they have to fit and put behind the cervix).  Very painful to have done, especially as I wasn't dilated, but they did say my cervix was soft.  This pessary stays in for 24 hours.

Within a couple hours I was starting to get contractions (in fairness, I'd been having some all through the previous night after having the sweep).

At about 8pm I was sat on the side of the bed in pain, and wanted to get into bed, so Chris helped me stand up, and as he did, my waters broke all over the floor soaking through the new PJ bottoms and slippers I'd literally put on 10 mins earlier, lol.  I let the midwives know, went and cleaned myself up and got into bed.  About 2 hours later I got up to have a wee and more waters went again, and I had my show (this actually kept 'showing' for the next day or so).  At some point between then, and my waters going at 8pm the pessary came out, so it wasn't even in for 12 hours.

Saturday 4th October
I think it was about late morning they examined me and saw that the pessary was nowhere to be seen. Then at about 2pm they hooked me up to a CTG machine again and proceeded with the next pessary which is a 6 hour gel.  It comes in a syringe and has to be placed behind the cervix - this was very painful, there were women around me having it done and needing gas and air to get through it - I did manage it with no pain relief - by this point I'd had no pain relief whatsoever.

Contractions kept going but didn't progress to anything.  At 8pm they hooked me up to the CTG machine again (they need to do this for half an hour before giving a pessary and an hour after), and after half an hour, they were about to give me the next pessary, but the labour ward called down and said they were full and to stop inducing people.  At this point, I was the only one left on the ward to have the 2nd pessary.  Through the night other women were progressing with their labour, and needing more pain relief like gas and air and pethidine.

Mummy and Squidge
Mummy and Squidge's first picture
Sunday 5th October
At 4am the midwife woke me up to put me back on the CTG as the labour ward had called down to say to progress with inductions again.  They did the rounds progressing all the other ladies and left me to last, and once again, just as they were about to do it, the labour ward told them to stop inducing people.  By this time it was about 34 hours since my waters broke - since it was more than 24 hours I'm now considered a high risk for infection as I should have had the baby by now.

After the shift changeover at 7am I overheard the next midwife talking about how I was now the most urgent case on ward and was the #1 priority for going to the labour ward to have the hormone drip as my waters had gone so long ago.  But because they'd progressed everyone elses induction and not mind (as I was the one being cut off each time) other women were going into established labour and had to go up ahead of me.  By lunchtime my consultant was down on the ward and was very concerned that I was still there - they headed up to the labour ward to try and clear some room.

Hours went by and I was coming up to nearly 48 hours since waters going.  It was coming up to 6pm and the lady in the bed opposite me who was clearly in labour had her waters go, that was it, she started screaming in agony and a bed was cleared for her upstairs.  This is where my lovely mother-in-law stepped in - I was on Facebook saying how ridiculous it was that I still hadn't been taken up - I'd been overhearing the midwives telling the labour ward that I should be a higher priority than people in labour and yet there I was still sitting on the induction ward.

Some nurses came down to get the lady that was in labour, and with no notice I was told I was going up at the same time.  So we grabbed all our stuff together, and walked up.  I was taken down to the room where I'd eventually have Squidge, and almost immediately an anesthetist came down to see me and talk to me about whether I wanted an epidural.  It was never part of my plan, but I was open minded to it and just wanted to see how things progressed.  He put a venflon in my hand and hooked me up to the hormone drip - with that, there was a shift change and a new midwife and student midwife set up to look after me for the night.

After a little while (couple hours) I needed to be examined to see how dilated I was - as she started we realised I needed some pain relief, this is where the gas and air came in - OMG this stuff is amazing!!!  It didn't help with contractions, but with examinations I couldn't even feel them!  The weird thing is, it would give me double-vision with my hearing - so everything was like an echo.

About an hour after this, I realised I was struggling with the pain and asked for pethidine.  The first hour or so of this I have no recollection of, but I do remember suddenly being aware that I was starting to feel the contractions again - so I asked for the epidural.  I knew I was going to be in labour for a long time and that I'd need help coping with the pain, and I wanted to go for the epidural before I was in complete agony, making it more difficult for the anaesthetist do his job.

During this whole time I had my spotify playlist going on my phone, I remember the anaesthetist saying 'I've never given an epidural to Pantera before' - I remember being impressed that he knew he was hearing Pantera :)  I think this all happened around midnight.

In the early hours of the morning they examined me and I was still only 1cm dilated, frustrating!

My CTG trace
Monday 6th October
A lot of this night is a blur up until about 7am - I think I'd been napping a lot and sucking on the gas and air lots too.  The whole time Chris was sat there next to me, not sleeping, drinking lots of tea and coffee and keeping an eye on me.

Hannah examined me and I was 5cm finally!

There were issues emerging with Squidge, I was on the top strength of the drip, but with each of those contractions his heart rate would drop, so they had to decrease the strength so he could cope. At 7am there was a shift change and a new midwife, the lovely Hannah.  The next 6 hours or so are still a bit of a blur, my pain increased and I napped more with each top-up of epidural - at one point Hannah couldn't actually wake up me up - she called my name, shook my shoulders and pushed her nail into my fingernail, it was only when she picked up my arm and dropped it that I woke - apparently she was seconds away from pressing the panic button!  I was just that exhausted I'd fallen into a deep sleep.

At some point either about now or in the previous 6 hours or so they also examined me and attached an electrode to Squidge's head (which later came off and they had to screw it in again).  The rest of the labour really is a haze, I remember my epidural not working properly, one leg was cold and one was hot and swollen and I was really starting to feel the contractions.  There were different anaesthetists coming and going and a couple of extra midwives in the room.  By about 1:30pm I was pushing and pushing with everything I had.  After an hour of this they had to tell other staff on the suite that I'd been pushing a long time.  This is where the Drs came in and flooded the room - there were pediatric Drs, neonatal Drs, all sorts all there ready to take Squidge as soon as he was born. There were 2 Drs there to deliver the baby too, and I needed help, so they decided on a suction cup. Up until this point I hadn't screamed with any contractions, just breathed through them, but when they started to pull with the suction cup I screamed at the top of my lungs, oh my god the pain!

A short while after, our wonderful baby Squidge was born at 3:48pm, but he wasn't very well, he had an Apgar score of 5 which is very low.  When they redid it a few minutes later he was an 8, and then 10 mins later he was a 10.  He needed some oxygen to start breathing but cried quickly after.  He was also quite blue (legs and arms) and was full of mucus (still is).  I had a small second degree tear which needed one stitch and because I was up in a bed for 5 days and with a high bmi, I now have to have daily injections for 6 weeks to prevent DVT :( They're pretty unpleasant too :/

Because I had gestational diabetes during the pregnancy, Squidge also needed to have his blood sugars tested before every feed (feeds were every 2 hours to begin with, then every 3 hours).  So he had to be kept in for 24 hours after being born, as long as his blood sugars were ok.  He had 1 low reading, and 2 borderline so we stayed an extra night, and went home Wednesday lunchtime :)

So there you have it, a massively long story, but I wanted to write it up while it was still fresh in my mind.  I hope you enjoyed reading it, and I hope you made it through to the end!

Squidge 7 days old
Squidge at 7 days old

Georgina <3

Monday, 13 October 2014

Breastfeeding blues

Our first selfie
Before I had Squidge, I always assumed I'd breastfeed, after all 'breast is best' and all that.  It's a wonderful gift we can give our children and it's great for baby/mummy bonding.  What I didn't expect was the wave of emotion and struggle that I've had in trying to breastfeed Squidge.

He had a difficult delivery and was born with a low Apgar score, which did quickly recover to a full 10/10, but because of his difficult delivery, he was born with a lot of mucus which has made it hard for him to breathe and gave him a sore jaw/head/sinuses.  He's coped really well and barely ever grizzles because of it, but cup-feeding him formula from day 1 had never even entered my head.  I had idyllic visions of giving birth to him and him latching straight on, of us sitting in the feeding chair in his nursery during night feeds, listening to the radio and bonding.

The reality is very different.  Because he struggles to breathe through his nose, he can't really latch on to feed.  I've tried using a Medela nipple shield which has had limited success - he does succle with it but then moves his head so much he pulls it off and then can't feed which results in him screaming & crying.

Because I have such big boobs, breastfeeding is a 2 person job - I have to hold my boob in place as well as hold him, but it takes a second person to get him in place and help keep him awake. Surprisingly I was discharged from hospital, classed as a breastfeeder but without him actually ever latching on - apparently they shouldn't discharge you until they've seen him latch on.

It also took about 4/5 days for my supply to finally come in - and boy did I notice when it did!  My boobs have grown to at least another couple of cup sizes when they're full (i.e. in the morning) and get in desperate need of expressing, otherwise I leak all over the place.

One of the lovely breastfeeding support workers came over to the house a few days ago and is the only person to have success in getting him to latch, we literally haven't had any success since, despite many attempts and tears on my part.  She lent us a Medela small electric breast pump which has been a godsend - on the back of it's success and my inability to breastfeed, I'm investing in the Medela Swing breast pump which should be here any day.  I'm growing to accept that the only way for him to get my breast milk is for me to express as much as I can, and for him to be bottle fed.  But at the moment my supply can't keep up with his demands - I'm expressing about 150ml in the morning, and then throughout the day about another 250ml, but at the moment in each feed he's having about 100ml, so still needing to be topped up with formula (we're using the Cow & Gate one).

There's positives to him being fed by bottle, his Daddy gets to feed him too, which he loves doing. It's just not how I pictured everything... it's been an emotional rollercoaster for me, with many tears being shed by me and many stressful moments in the house trying to feed while Squidge is crying his eyes out needing dinner.

I hope he'll eventually latch on, we do keep trying but it's really difficult... I guess my biggest takeaway from this whole experience is to try and not hold on to ideals - it was the same with his delivery (more on that soon) and go with the flow to what best needs.

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