Saturday, 4 February 2017

Tit vs Teat - the baby must eat!

No parenting blog would be complete without giving a mention to the old boobie or bottle debate.
I'm not here to lecture. If you managed to get the mammary glands fully functioning then that's great, but if not, it's no big deal. Whether by tit or by teat, the baby must eat!

For me, breastfeeding did not come easy. I'd always said that I'd give it a go, but man that shit is hard, and I genuinely take my hat off to any woman who breastfeeds successfully

Minutes after giving birth, while my insides were probably still on the outside, the baby was plonked on my chest for her first ever feed.
She latched on like a dream, suckling away like there was no tomorrow. I thought to myself 'it's a piece of piss this, don't know what all the fuss is about'. Oh how naive I was!

Fast forward a few hours and it was time for the next feed. Except this time it didn't go quite so smoothly...

"Babies forget what to do after the first feed, so you have to teach them", explained the midwife. Forget! How's she forgotten already? She only has one bloody thing to remember!

And so began my three hourly battle of trying to get my nipple into the baby's mouth. It's like when the England team take penalties, it just wouldn't go in!

We tried all the positions - the rugby ball hold, cradle hold, koala hold, downward dog (no wait, think that's something else).
I tell you, considering a newborn isn't supposed to have any head control she could certainly control her head away from my nipple!

Most of the time, it was a two-man job, one to hold the boob and one to hold the baby. This was fine when my other half was around, but not so easy when he wasn't. And I didn't really feel it was appropriate to ask the window cleaner to lend a hand. He'd only knocked on for some water.

We even had a breastfeeding expert pop round to give us some tips. After a quick assessment that my nipples were in fact 'normal' (yay for me) she concluded there was no good reason why the baby shouldn't latch. Basically I was just shit at it.

The times I did manage to get her on the boob, it bloody hurt! It was like pissing razor blades. The 'expert' explained that when the baby comes off, if your nipple looks like a lipstick, then the latch is wrong and it will hurt. I don't know about a lipstick, mine looked more like a dog's dick - no bloody wonder it hurt!

Whenever you see women breastfeeding, they always make it look so easy and discreet, but my version was anything but.
For a start, I couldn't just slip my top down and pop the baby on, no I had to take my top and bra right off, as it all seemed to get in the way.
I remember watching on with envy at Sam Faires on Mummy Dairies, who makes it look particularly effortless, meanwhile I looked more like Neil the Sofaworks sloth, sprawled across the settee with my babs out.

I'm all for breastfeeding in public, but my version was definitely not for public consumption. I think I would have been done for outraging public decency if I'd tried it in Costa.

The other thing that makes it all the more difficult is the constant stream of visitors you  get with a newborn. You're just trying to get to grips with the whole breastfeeding debacle and there's another knock on the door.
It might be the most natural thing in the world, but no visitors need to see me sprawled out on the sofa like Jabba the Hut while trying to wrestle my nipple into the baby's mouth.

There was screaming, crying, wailing - and that was just me! In the end, I lasted six weeks before I gave it up as a bad job. All I can say is thank God for SMA!

Monday, 12 September 2016

Life's a 'beach'

We've recently returned from our first family holiday - though with a teething five month old in tow, I should probably use the term 'holiday' in the loosest sense of the word. Not brave enough to venture abroad with the baba just yet, we spent a few days on the Yorkshire coast.

Being a first time parent is a learning curve, well more of a very steep incline than a curve, and one valuable lesson we learnt as fledgling family travellers is that babies and beaches do not mix - at all.

With the sun shining and not a cloud in the sky, we decided it was a definite 'beach day'. Oh how wonderful it would be, Phoebe's first time at the seaside. The other half and I could walk along the shore barefoot, holding hands while 'wearing' the baby in her carrier; we'd playfully kick our feet in the waves before settling down to have a picnic on the sand, all the while Phoebe would be smiling and laughing along with us - what wonderful memories we would make.

Unfortunately, we don't live in a Disney movie and the reality was somewhat different.

For a start - how much stuff does one baby need? It's bad enough popping to the supermarket laden down with your baby bag bursting at the seams, but that pales into insignificance compared with the 'equipment' needed to take a baby to the beach. Nappies (both normal and swim variety just in case) milk, towels, toys, hat, sun cream, clothes, first aid kit, wipes, sun shelter, picnic - we practically needed a removal van just to get there.

We were up at the crack of dawn to 'get everything ready' before finally arriving at the beach car park some two hours after we'd intended - unfortunately babies don't work to a timetable.

After pondering at the parking meter over whether 'four hours would be enough' (in hindsight four minutes would have been plenty) we wrestled Phoebe into the baby carrier and loaded ourselves up like a pair of overladen donkeys and headed down to the beach.

After huffing and puffing our way down the hill to the beach, both of us secretly convincing ourselves it'd be worth it, we passed another couple coming the other way each carrying a smiling baby expertly strapped in their carrier. I couldn't help but notice they didnt have one bag between them - not one! How is this even possible? Where is their mountain of baby luggage? Where have I gone wrong?

While inwardly seething at their apparent parenting ease, we marched onward to the beach - we'd done it, we'd finally made it - cherished memories were about to be made, weren't they?

No sooner had we 'picked our spot' than Phoebe began to scream. Hungry? Nappy change? Teeth? Or just being a little sod? We dumped our mountain of bags in the sand and wrestled her out of the carrier while hoping we weren't making too much of a scene during out first 30 seconds on the beach.

In a somewhat futile attempt to be the perfectly organised and 'prepared for every situation' type mother that I'm sure do exist somewhere, I'd purchased a beach hut to ensure we could keep the baby out of the blazing sun. Unfortunately, upon closer inspection at the beach, it turns out my so-called beach hut was in fact a two-man tent - epic mum fail.

With the other half trying to soothe a screaming baby and me wrangling furiously with tent poles, our beach trip wasn't getting off to the best start.

After managing to somehow pitch the tent and shut the baby up (more likely she was just taking a breath between screams) we laid out our towels in a desperate bid to salvage what was supposed to be an idyllic day out, and not the shitstorm that it was rapidly becoming.

Before we'd had chance to even sit down, Phoebe managed to rub sand in her eye - cue the resurgence of the screaming, and the frantic rifling through the dozens of bags we'd bought to find the baby wipes, which turned up in the picnic bag.

Now, not only was my beach hut not a beach hut, but a tent, it was also a children's tent with the tiniest door that would have been perfect for an Oompah Loompa, but not so much for your average sized person.

Picture the scene, it was a beautiful summer's day at the beach. Families were out in force eating ice cream, frolicking in the sand and splashing in the waves, meanwhile I was sat stooped over, sweltering inside my tiny tent, attempting to shove a bottle in a screaming baby's mouth while the other half passed me crisps through the rabbit hole sized doorway - just what had our lives become?

After admitting defeat and packing up to come home (well within our four hours car parking time) the other half turned to me and said 'I think we should probably wait another year or so before we try the beach again'. Thank God for that!

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

The birth story - a true account!

Days since 'the birth': 89 (just about ready to talk about it!)
Size of the 'bub': 15lb-ish
Weight: 9st 3lbs (not far off pre-preggo weight- get in!)
Pelvic floor exercises completed today: 0

When it comes to birth stories, there appears to be two camps. The 'isn't the body wonderful/what a beautiful experience' camp, and the 'it would have hurt less if you'd shoved a burning hot poker up my fanny' camp. I'm afraid, sadly, I'm in the latter...

When you're pregnant, you are bombarded with information from doctors, midwives, friends, second removed cousins, about 'the birth' and what to expect. Like most women, I thought I was pretty well informed - I knew my episiotomy from my epidural, my birthing ball was blown up ready for action, I'd carefully constructed my birth plan, and my hospital bag was packed in anticipation. I wouldn't say I was looking forward to the experience, but I was feeling pretty nonchalant- I mean, millions of women do it every day right? How bad could it be?

I'd banged on for months about wanting a 'natural' birth with minimal pain relief, fully intending to wallow in the serene waters of the birthing pool; listening to Adele's dulcet tones on my 'labour soundtrack' the other half had lovingly put together on the iPad, while I ate jelly babies to keep my energy levels up. Looking back now, I can only smile at just how naive I was.

The truth of the matter is, you can write all the birth plans you want, binge watch One Born Every Minute (OBEM), or hypnobirth the shit out of it, but I can tell you now, NOTHING, and I mean NOTHING, can prepare you for the metaphorical equivalent of pushing a watermelon through a keyhole.

I started with contraction type pains at about 9pm on my due date. Having had similar pains a couple of nights earlier, which then wore off, I wasn't too sure at first if this was 'it'. They very quickly became more intense and much closer together, leaving no doubt in my mind that this was the real deal.

Fortunately we were under the care of the fantastic One to One midwife service, so by 1am the midwife was at our house to see how I was faring. She advised me to stay at home as long as possible before we made our way to hospital.

"Get some sleep, have a bath," she said.

Great idea, why didn't I think of that. I find I sleep best when my uterus is being given the equivalent of a Chinese burn.

I did heed her advice about the bath, which lasted all of about 90 seconds - turns out water doesn't have magical soothing powers after all. You're still in the most excruciating pain of your life, except that you're wet and in the most excruciating pain of your life.

By 4am I could not cope any more - get me to a hospital.

After a quick assessment by the hospital midwife - she told me it'd be 'at least another 16 hours'.
O.M f'ing G - I couldn't cope for another 16 seconds never mind 16 hours.

After begging her not to send me home and to 'check me again', she concluded that I was in fact in full blown labour.

It all seemed to happen so quickly after that. "Take your pants off you're going in", the midwife told me as I was rushed hurriedly into the delivery suite.

My carefully packed hospital bag lay untouched - there was no time to put my 'labour PJs' on, not one jelly baby passed my lips and I didn't get to listen to even the first verse of 'Someone Like You'.

Having been adamant while pregnant that I didn't want any pain relief, I changed my mind quicker than Katie Price changes her husbands. I was like a heroin-addled junkie begging anyone who would listen to 'give me the drugs'. I would have necked the entire illegal drug supply of Colombia given half a chance, but unfortunately there was no chance and the midwives would give me nothing but gas and air as it was 'too late' for anything else. They even confiscated that off me in the end as I was puffing away at it like some kind of deranged 60-a-day smoker and not concentrating on my pushing.

Prior to the birth I'd been watching OBEM and said to the other half that if I start mooing like a cow then to give me a slap. I'm just thankful he didn't take my instruction seriously as the noises coming out of my delivery suite were remarkably like the sounds you'd hear when passing a cow shed.

For anyone who says labour is a 'beautiful' experience, I think they need to check the definition of 'beautiful', because this was anything but. It looked like a scene from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre - blood and shit everywhere. Yes I did poo myself  (it happens to the best of us), but at the time I didn't give a shit - quite ironic really.

As if my dignity had not suffered enough, I then lost control of my face and started uncontrollably gurning. Apparently the adrenaline coursing through your body can have that affect, but at the time I'm pretty sure I resembled the love child of Kerry Katona and Vicky Patterson.

After about two hours of pushing, our precious daughter Phoebe was born at 7:45am weighing 7lb 8ounces - and suddenly all the horror and suffering of labour became worth it. I won't lie, the pain is indescribable, but so is the immense feeling of love that consumes you once you have your baby in your arms for the first time.

And then, in one final blow to the shred of dignity I had left, I had my legs in stirrups while the midwife stitched me up like a kipper and I looked across to see a little bit of poo stuck to my left heel - oh the shame.

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Have you been trying and other inappropriate questions

Size of bun in oven: A leek (hopefully not leek-shaped)

Duration of bun in oven: 38 weeks

Weight: 10st  7lb (surely this must be it now)

One thing I've learnt while being pregnant is all acceptable rules around social boundaries and reasonable human etiquette go the same way as your waist line - completely out of the window.

If it's not randomers touching your bump, then it's completely inappropriate questions guaranteed to make you feel even more uncomfortable than the leek-sized object playing the bongos on your bladder.

There's the routine questions every pregnant woman is guaranteed to get asked by just about everyone they meet:

- How long to go?
- Had any cravings?
- Do you know what you're having?
- Any names?
- How's the morning sickness

While it soon becomes mind-numbingly boring to trot out the same stock answers to the world and his wife, they are at least relatively straightforward to answer. It's the more, shall we say intimate, line of questioning that I'm talking about...

I never really announced my pregnancy at work, I just kind of let people figure it out, so when the penny finally dropped that 'the blonde one in marketing' hadn't just chubbed up and was in fact preggo, the flood gates for the inappropriate questions were opened.

I can't tell you how many times I've been asked, usually by colleagues I've only ever passed the time of day with by the photocopier, 'have you been trying?'

Translation: What they're basically asking me is - Was this some kind of terrible mistake you'll have to bear the burden of for the next 18 years?' or 'Have you and your fella been at it like rabbits in order to pro-create?' 

Now maybe it's just me, but I really have no desire to discuss my sex life with someone who the deepest conversation I've previously had with them is about the weather or their plans for the weekend, while I'm waiting for the kettle to boil.

And it doesn't end there, a couple of weeks ago I ended up being admitted to hospital with bleeding, all was ok, but afterwards someone (who shall remain anonymous to protect their stupidity) actually asked me where I was bleeding from! Well it's not my chuffing elbow is it Einstein!

I've also had umpteen questions about the labour, the type of birth I'm having, am I aware I might shit myself. Yes really!

The thing that makes me most uncomfortable about these questions, is they tend to centre around my ladybits and I don't believe the questioneers can reasonably ask such a question without conjuring up an image of said ladybits (ugh).

And while we're on the subject of ladybits, having been unable to see mine for a very long time I made the grave mistake of having a look in the mirror the other day. OM f**king G! It looks like a half eaten hock of ham. Whoever said pregnancy was a 'beautiful thing' was lying out of their chuffing arseholes!

Sunday, 10 January 2016

I'm pregnant - sorry

Size of bun in oven: A cauliflower 

Duration of bun in oven: 26 weeks

Weight: 9.13lb (WT actual F!)

Weeing frequency: Let's just say I'm keeping Andrex in business

Apologies, it's 11 weeks since my last blog post - I've kinda missed the whole second trimester, but it in a nutshell this is when you get fat and your boobs hurt, but on the plus side you don't feel sick anymore! 

I'm going to rewind a couple of months here to tell you about the big reveal. Ok, we never actually did the whole cringey public announcement thing on FB. Fair play to those who do, if you wrote it on a chalkboard or bought some baby shoes and photographed them next to yours, or maybe you were really original and posted your scan pic (ahem), then then good for you, but that wasn't for us (that shit is so American!) 

We told our family and friends and anyone else can just figure it out when they see me 'with child'. The announcement I'm talking about is telling work - shit I'm cringing just thinking about it.

It was about week 16 and considering my boobs were 'Jordan-esque' I couldn't hide it for much longer.

For some reason I was absolutely bricking it - not sure why as I know it's my god given right as a woman to 'go on maternity' but I felt bad.

If you're due to tell your boss soon, whatever you do, don't do this...

I asked my boss for a meeting to discuss a 'project' I was working with on (there was no project). I had every intention of going in there with my head held high, and had practiced my opening line of 'I've got some very exciting news to share with you...' 
But then when we sat down it actually went a little something like this...

Me: "There's something I need to tell you first."

Boss man: "ok" (looking quizacle at this point)

Me: Some completely illegible words fell out of my mouth at 100 miles an hour - I don't even know what I said so he had no chance. This was followed my an "I'm sorry"

Boss man: "Er what?"

Me: "I'm pregnant - sorry."

Yes that's right I actually apologised for being pregnant - twice! I realise that I'd just set women's lib back 30 years and apologies to all the feminists out there, but it was like my brain wasn't attached to my mouth. For the record I wasn't sorry at all. 

Boss man: "Well that's great news congratulations."

Me: *bursts into tears. Yes, that's right I cried - no idea why.
"Sorry" (yes I said it again - it's like I'd developed Tourette's) "I am actually happy about this"

Boss man: Gave me a hug

Me: *cries some more

In conclusion - I was completely ridiculous. 

Friday, 23 October 2015

Back to the start

When I first started this blog back in January it was supposed to be a light hearted, comedic look at my first foray into motherhood.

I wanted to track my journey as I battled sickness, stretch marks and probably my sanity throughout pregnancy, but sadly there was nothing remotely funny about how it ended.

Like one in four women out there - I suffered a miscarriage. It was days before my 12 week scan when I started bleeding (sorry if TMI). Next came the frantic calls to the midwifes, doctors, helplines, the scouring of the pregnancy forums, some self diagnosis and a visit to A&E.

I eventually got an early scan where our worst fears were confirmed - our baby had died at around eight or nine weeks.

Even before we were told the crushing news I just knew - I think you just do.

I won't go in to all the details, but all I will say is it hurts - a lot, both physically and emotionally.

No matter how many times the medical professionals tell you, it's not your fault, it's just nature's way, you can't help but blame yourself. Did I do too much exercise, did I drink too much coffee, was it because I cleaned the cat litter tray?

It never leaves you and you never forget, but eventually life returns to normal. You pick yourself up, you go to work, you get on with it and you try again - you have to because there's no other choice.

And try again we did - and now seven months on from that horrendous time in our lives, I'm over the moon to say I'm now 15weeks pregnant.

Ive had my dating scan and so far so good - all seems healthy, happy and perfect. It's early days and we are not counting our chickens just yet, but we are heading in the right direction.

And so as I start on this journey once again, I'll be charting my thoughts, feelings, experiences and inner musings along the way.

Monday, 9 February 2015

Where are you morning sickness?

Size of bun in oven = A kidney bean

Duration of bun in oven = 8 weeks, 1 day

Hugging of toilet bowl =  Still 0

Weight = 9st (Will I ever see 8st something again?)

Weeing frequency = Still every 30 mins (this is getting ridiculous)

Unexplained pain = lower back hurts (a lot)

Ok, so I'm eight weeks in and the morning sickness is still nowhere to be seen. I've heard all the old wives tales and I'm all set to start praying to the porcelain God. Got the saltine crackers at the ready, I've bought a pack of ginger biscuits, hell I've even got the other half on standby to hold my hair back and mop my brow, but there's no sign of projectile vomit, not even a hint - what is going on?

I'm probably going to regret ever saying this, but I reckon I might possibly be one of those lucky 25% of pregnant woman who manage to avoid the whole morning/evening/24-hours-a-day sickness thing, and here's why...

Thinking back through my 29 and a bit years, my only ever acquaintance with the toilet bowl has been down to the deliberate and misguided abuse of alcohol. In fact until I discovered binge drinking at the age of 16 I don't recall ever puking. Ever!

Don't get me wrong, I've had my fair share of chucking up in hedges, throwing up on my shoes and even chundering in the washing up bowl (don't judge, it happens to the best of us).  Turns out even my strong stomach couldn't hack the cocktail of blue VKs, orange Reefs and a few shots of apple Sourz during my teenage years.

Now before you call social services you'll be reassured to hear my alcohol pallet has suitably matured and is distinctly less 'chavvy' now, but at £1 a bottle on 'student nights', it wasn't to be sniffed at back then.

Am I worried about my lack of morning sickness? A little. My addiction to trawling 'mums forums' to check if I'm 'normal' doesn't help alleviate those fears, but maybe I'm just one of the lucky ones.

I've got my first appointment with the midwife tomorrow, so will check it out then. In the meantime the realisation that I'm actually going to be a mother in 7 months time is starting to kick in - this shit is getting real.  Just the thought of it is making me feel queasy...err hang on, is this what I think it is?