So I plodded along…(where it all began…part 4!)

So I plodded along. I relished in the days both children would nap at the same time. I would scroll and scroll through various ‘2 under 2’ Facebook parenting groups in the hopes someone felt the same as me. I felt an intense love for my daughter, and continued to resent my son. I lightly brought up topics of having a ‘favourite’ child, to which I was always shut down with how absurd that was.

“We all love our children, equally” – friends and family would stutter.

“Well I don’t!” – my heart wailed.

I continued to breastfeed both him and my daughter, my daughter increasing her feeds out of jealousy. Whenever I fed my son I would get pins and needles in my hands and arms, my legs would become restless and my body tense. My phone became my crutch, I became obsessed with Candy Crush as it was the only thing that would take my mind away whilst feeding him. My son would feed, but at the same time push himself away from me. As if he wanted my breast, yet no other form of comfort or connection.

I looked forward to when my daughter fed, I would feel relief and a rush of oxytocin. It was the only time I felt truly myself again. I constantly battled with the possibility of not feeding him, but didn’t want to wean my daughter. I knew people would find it odd to continue feeding my toddler, whilst giving my baby formula. So I plodded along.

My husband had managed to take six weeks off work to be with us. I loved it and loathed it. Having him around made me dependent on him. It was too easy to hand him the baby and leave the room. To complain of back ache when carrying him on days out. My son slept for hours on end, still does now. It was too easy to lay him in his moses basket and pretend he didn’t exist. He barely made a sound.

He continued to refuse to sleep on me. I settled for him sleeping in the cot attached to our bed. Our toddler still sleeping in bed with us. I felt guilty that my son wasn’t experiencing the ‘attachment parenting’ ways I had become dependent on, despite the fact it was him choosing his path.

I had been honest with my midwife and health visitor from the start. Stating I didn’t feel anything, but their advice was pointless. Bathe together, do skin to skin, look into his eyes, breastfeed him. I was doing all of this, but I couldn’t force him to connect with me. He would wriggle and scream, the only time he seemed to be upset, other than when he was hungry, was when I tried to cuddle him. They were sure I would figure it out. So I plodded along.

I went to my usual baby groups, reconnected with old friends I had lost touch with due to my sickness. We seemed like the perfect, happy family on the outside. On the inside I was becoming increasingly low, depressed, frustrated and incredibly anxious and paranoid. I was determined everyone was looking at me. That they could see we didn’t bond. That everyone would talk about me. Thought that I wasn’t coping. That they felt sorry for my children.

I couldn’t cry. No matter how low, how frustrated I was feeling, I just couldn’t shed a tear. I was exhausted. I just wanted to feel, something, anything! I started watching sad films, anything to bring some emotion to me, read sad novels. I would sit in bed and think of all the horrible things that had ever happened to me, but nothing worked. I felt like I was going to explode. I was sure I would break at some point, I just didn’t know when. So I plodded along.

Four months post partum. The day everything changed.

My husband was back to work, my daughter woke as soon as he left. She clambered on top of me for a feed, as she did most mornings, but accidentally knocked her sleeping brother awake. I cracked. Both children started screaming. I didn’t know who to sort first. After a while, I decided to feed my daughter, she would be content watching telly whilst I sorted my son afterwards. He continued to scream. Once sorted, and happy with a DVD on, I calmed my son and gave him a feed but he wouldn’t settle. I just wanted him to sleep so I could go back to sleep.

I put him down on his tummy, as he always slept, and started to pat him on the back. He would normally settle in minutes with a rhythmic pat on the back. However that morning he just wouldn’t settle. He cried and wriggled. My daughters DVD had ended. She started crying. I just wanted to go back to sleep. My head was banging. My whole body tense. I continued patting my son, he just needed to go back to sleep. My daughter continued to scream. They just needed to be quiet so I could go back to sleep. I started to pat faster and harder without really realising.

Just. Go. Back. To. Sleep.

My son cried out. I gasped. My daughter was silent.

My bubble popped. I burst into hysterics. Tears streamed down my face.

My daughter started to cry again, my son’s cries became even more loud and intense. I struggled to breathe. White noise streamed my ears. I couldn’t hear anything. I couldn’t see anything. I hid under the duvet and waited for it all to end.

I don’t remember what happened after that. The next thing I knew, I was on the phone to my husband, begging him to come home. He came home to find us all fast asleep. I explained what had happened. I broke down. I admitted I wasn’t coping. That I didn’t want to do this anymore.

We called the peri natal mental health team in Exeter, a number I had been given previously and was put on a waiting list for. They spoke to my husband and decided to send the crisis team out the following day. I called my brother to come down from university, to look after me and the kids. My husband was told I shouldn’t be left alone.

The team came to my house to discuss my mental health. They gave me a new health visitor, put me on the waiting list for an attachment psychologist and sent a request to my doctor to discuss medication.

I had a plan of action.

They said I was going to get better.

So, I plodded along.

(Disclaimer – I have an array on health professionals working with me on a regular basis who are aware of my entire history of mental health issues and also read this blog.)

 

 

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Shit happens…

Can you believe I’ve nearly been blogging a whole month? No – me neither!

I know I keep saying it, but I’m so grateful for everyone who is supporting and following me so far. You’re all incredible!

So, you may have seen I posted my first feature on MeetOtherMums recently…you can check out the post here. But it basically contained a massive moan about Helicopter Parents and my bad experience at a soft play centre.

Typically, a week after this went live, my son had a nasty fall at the play centre. The exact one where a Mum previously told me to watch my kid…oops.

I was with the same friend and as always, I placed him in the baby section where I knew he would be safe. Once happily playing, I went back to my friend and we started discussing a new campaign for our post natal depression & anxiety support group. The next minute, a loud thump and my son was screaming. He had tried to climb out of the baby area, tripped over the entrance and face planted the hard floor. As I wasn’t nearby, another Mum (wearing a cream jumper) picked him up. In the two seconds it took for me to rush to him, they were both covered in blood.

I panicked. I had never seen a nose bleed in a baby before and his little nose had already started swelling and turning blue. I sat on the floor cuddling him as lots of parents rushed over to help. It was so kind of everyone to help, but at the same time was very overwhelming when I didn’t know what to do. The bleeding just wouldn’t stop, I was soon just as covered as him. I decided to give him a bottle and the pressure against his face eased the bleeding. A lovely Mum wiped the blood from my face and neck whilst I calmed down myself and my son.

The crowd of parents were all asking different questions, people were starting to discuss calling 999 or an ambulance being sent. I was concerned, but my instinct told me he wasn’t hurt enough to need medical treatment, however I didn’t want to seem like an awful parent for shrugging off their concerns. What if he was horribly injured and I didn’t do something about it? I already felt like the worst mum in the world for leaving him to hurt himself.

I probably seemed so clueless as I asked around me what I should do. It was eventually decided I would call 111 for further advice. After a few basic questions they decided an ambulance needed to be sent. Soon 2 paramedics arrived, one of which I actually recognised from when my daughter was younger and had a similar fall at home. They confirmed he should be fine, but suggested we should go into A&E to be on the safe side.

As we climbed into the ambulance, my son became very sleepy and limp. The paramedics told me I was white as a sheet. I actually felt incredibly concerned for my son. I had never felt this much worry for him before. Emotions flowed through me. Was he going to be okay? I started to contemplate my life without him, having previously done this with ease, for once I felt like I would do anything to make him be okay.

He snuggled into my chest and rubbed my back. He seemed to be comforting me more than anything. He fell asleep and we enjoyed a moment which I still can’t quite describe. I welled up and felt a burst of emotion. A lump in my throat and a pit in my stomach which stayed until we arrived and a doctor confirmed everything would be just fine.

We returned to the play centre the next day (we have membership!) and filled out a few accident forms. The manager discussed future risk assessments and has decided to install additional padding around the entrance to the baby area. Apparently the accident had happened before, but not to the same extent. This calmed me.

Maybe it would still have happened even if I had been hovering over him? Should I really give up my down time, my time to vent with friends, on the off chance my child could injure themselves?

I’ve decided I won’t. Call me selfish (well, don’t as I will probably cry…at least do it behind my back) but I am not going to let that one accident control how I parent. My children are happy to play independently or with friends and without my guidance. I deserve a break every once in a while. To sit on my ass and eat junk, gossip with friends or just scroll through my phone. And I still stand by my previous post. No one deserves to be judged for their parenting decisions. Even if they are sometimes wrong.

Accidents happen. Guilt happens. Shit happens.

 

 

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Open letter to that Helicopter Mum at the Soft Play Centre

This post first appeared on MeetOtherMums.com.

Dear Helicopter Mum at the Soft Play Centre,

I get you. We’ve all been first time mums. We all get protective. We’ve all had that feeling of just wanting your baby wrapped in cotton wool forever. Where you just want to shove them back up inside you where it’s nice and safe.

I remember crawling through the small tunnels, squishing your face into plastic that smelt like a mixture of puke and detergent. Squeezing my fat arse onto slides that were just not quite wide enough. Banging my head on every low bar whilst scrambling after my tiny child that was suddenly able to move at lightening speeds, despite taking THIRTY MINUTES to put on her darn coat that morning.

We have ALL been there.

You’re doing what makes you feel safe, by keeping a close eye on your baby. And that’s great.

But that doesn’t mean you should judge those that give their children a bit of leeway.

You saw the other child in the ‘baby area’. You could see he was perfectly safe. But you felt the need to search for his Mum.

His Mum, that was exhausted. His Mum, that was sitting down for the first time that day. His Mum, that had just started her antidepressants earlier that week and was on the verge of tears whilst seeking advice from her friend.

But you didn’t see that, did you?

 

You saw a Mum gossiping with her friend instead of keeping an eye on her child. You saw a Mum not caring for her child. So when that Mum came to check up on her child (who was still happily playing) you took judgement upon that Mum.

“Oh, there you are, we had been wondering who’s baby this was, shouldn’t be left on his own really” *insert snide look*

Really?

The baby, who was nearly 1. In an area solely for babies. In clear eyesight of his parent. Where the highest he could climb was no taller than himself, and should he fall, he would have a soft landing. You know…SOFT play?

Why did you take it upon yourself to put another Mum down, just because she didn’t parent the same way as you did? Why did you continue to glare at that Mum, making her so uncomfortable she collected her son from the soft play to sit on her knee? Why couldn’t you just let it slide?

I doubt you even remember making that comment. But I remember. I remember questioning myself. I remember feeling as if everyone looking at me. I remember that tightness building in my chest, feeling like I couldn’t breathe. Like I wasn’t good enough.

Next time you see a Mum taking a break. Please think about why she might need that break. Please think before you judge her.

Signed,

Mum who just needs a break.

 

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20 wishes for 2017

We’re already in February, but heck – why not?!

I was tagged by the lovely Clare at Neon Rainbow Blog to write about my 20 wishes for 2017. It will be lovely to look back at the end of the year and see how many, if any, have been achieved!

This tag splits our wishes into 4 categories; Personal, Family, Blogging and Hopes…so here we go!

Personal

  1. To have more good days than bad…I am up and down like a yo-yo these days. I’d like to be able to look back and say my last bad day was a month ago, or even a week ago!
  2. To continue raising awareness of PND/A in my local community and however far this blog goes…I am so pleased with how our new support group Mum to Mum, Crediton is going so far. We’ve had so many positive comments and we’ve even been able to help a few people, which is just amazing! We’re thinking of new projects all of the time and are hoping to continue to build awareness throughout the coming year.  
  3. To eat less cake…I definitely am not going to stop eating cake anytime soon, but I’d like to curb my habits a little bit. Maybe have the ladies at the bakery say “Ooh we haven’t seen you in a while” instead of knowing my order by heart. 
  4. To have more ‘adult’ nights out…even if it’s a movie night with the girls and a bottle of wine. I want to spend more time being ‘me’ and not just ‘Mum’.
  5. To stop biting my nails…oh it’s gross I know, and I say this every year but here I am, still biting away! Maybe this year will be the year? I doubt it.

Family

  1. To start a new hobby with my husband…we are always talking about how we need to spend more time together actually being together not just sat next to each other watching telly and scrolling through our phones. We did start this in January when we decided we’d do puzzles together however this lasted about an hour before the husband decided it wasn’t for him! We have enrolled on a cookery course this spring, hoping this will be our ‘thing’!
  2. To learn a few new recipes…I’m very stuck in my ways when it comes to cooking, we have our set meals and we just rotate those on a weekly basis. I’m hoping the cookery course will give us a bit of inspiration for us to be a bit more daring in the kitchen. More veggies for the kid especially!
  3. Find some magical method of washing kids hair without screaming/crying…oh how I wish for the days where we can wash toddlers hair without all getting soaked from thrashing and splashing! She never had a problem until recently, I don’t know what changed but it’s bloody tiring. 
  4. Start turning the workshop into the kids playroom…I cannot wait until we have enough money to get started on this little project! We bought our house in September and it’s a massive project, we’re doing it one room at a time, and this one is the one I’m most looking forward to! 
  5. Make the garden kid friendly…again house related, I have big dreams and an even bigger Pinterest board dedicated to our future garden. There is so much work to be done, however I’d like it to at least be safe to play in for this summer – fingers crossed!

Blog

  1. To build my content and audience…it’s still early days for me and I’m already overwhelmed with all of the positive comments and messages I’ve been receiving! I just want to keep going, I’m finding it so helpful to write out my feelings. Definitely a good way of processing things.
  2. To join one Twitter chat a week…I had so much fun during my first twitter chat last Sunday during #babybantzchat (9pm – 10pm). I’d like to continue to meet new bloggers and have a laugh, I’m also hoping it’ll get my name ‘out there’ a bit!
  3. To learn all the lingo…I hope to be able to understand a full conversation about blogging – haha! Maybe I’m pushing myself on this one? I’m slowly working my way through The Blogger’s Bible – 100+ Essential Blogging Terms – an amazing guide from Hayley over at Devon Mama, especially useful for newbies like me!
  4. To write the next part of my ‘Where it all began…’ series…I’m hoping I’ll be able to do this one soon, I’m absolutely crapping my pants about writing it all down. I’ll get there though, can’t leave you all on edge forever, can I?
  5. To keep enjoying blogging! I am enjoying this whole process so much so far, I just hope it continues to boost me and I don’t take any knock backs (which I’m sure they’ll come!) too badly.

Hopes

  1. A rise in breastfeeding rates in the UK…I am so disappointed we have some of the lowest rates in the world. Bizarre for a first world country to not be feeding their babies in the healthiest way! Definitely feel breastfeeding education should be taught from a young age.
  2. More awareness of Hyperemesis Gravidarum…I am currently training to become a peer supporter for HG sufferers. I understand there may never be a cure for mothers suffering through pregnancy, however I hope mothers are understood and supported by health professionals and peers alike instead of being accused of lying, compared to ‘morning sickness’ and not getting the help they desperately need. 
  3. Better mental health services in the UK…I am very lucky that I have been able to receive the treatment and therapies I do. Unfortunately I am very much aware I am one of very few that have been treated fairly and with respect. #1in4
  4. For someone to find the meaning of happiness…bit unrealistic and very intense, but heck, I’d love to know!
  5. To win the lottery? I don’t even play the lottery, but wouldn’t we all like to be millionaires? It probably wouldn’t give me happiness, it would bloody help though! 

We’re getting a bit late into the year now, and everyone I know in the blogging world has already completed this tag, so I’m not going to tag anyone (can I do this? I feel like I’m breaking some blogging code…oops!) However, if you’re reading this and haven’t shared yet, I’d love to take a read and share on your behalf 🙂

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The Important Meeting

Since having my first child, I have been heavily involved in the local Children’s Centre. From becoming a breastfeeding peer supporter and volunteering at the weekly support group to being a part of their Parent Partner committee, organising Family Fun Days and everything in between. I really thrive off being a part of something good. I love volunteering and being part of a community.

However once I realised just how ill I was, my son was around 4 months old, I started to close in on myself. I stopped going along to the weekly breastfeeding support group as I felt like everyone was watching me. I felt like they knew I was having difficulties, despite the happy smile I plastered on my face each week. (Even now, many people tell me they wouldn’t have a clue to my struggles, I hide them too easily). I felt I was a hypocrite, giving advice to others based on guidelines that I wasn’t able to follow myself.

Once I was in a better place (which I’ll write about in more detail in my ‘Where it all began…’ series) I decided to start up a support group along with a friend who had also experienced post natal depression and anxiety. We had only had two meetings when I received a call from the volunteer coordinator for the Children’s Centre, someone who I had quite a good relationship with until I got ill. She had heard about the support group and was inviting me to attend an Advisory Board Meeting for Mid Devon on the topic of Mental Health. They wanted to hear from real parents going through mental health issues to find out their experiences and how they can help support parents and their families cope during these difficult times.

I was very wary to go. I had been to these meetings before as a Parent Partner, so understood how they worked. This also meant I knew who would be there. There was a long list of ‘important people in suits’ including a local MP and my primary school head teacher. Did I really want to go and open my heart to a bunch of strangers?

Apparently I did…I talked it through with my husband and psychologist and decided to go for it. Once I confirmed with my cycling group that I wouldn’t be able to lead that week, I decided if I was going to be telling my story to a bunch of important people, why not finally take the leap I’d been thinking about for so long and start a blog? And here I am…

I traveled to the meeting with the volunteer coordinator and we caught up. I took my son whilst my daughter was in nursery. I was very nervous, and it seemed my son was too as just as we arrived, he projectile vomited all over himself and his car seat. This is when I realised I had forgotten to pack spare clothes and wet wipes, I assume out of nervousness! Luckily we managed to find him some spare clothes and clean him up.

Completely flustered and feeling like I’d made myself look like an even worse mother than I feel most days, I entered the meeting room. I was relieved to see my Health Visitor sitting right in front of me, this gave me a little confidence boost, to know she was there and had my back if I needed her. Another Mum I knew through the support group PANDAS Tiverton (find out more here) was also there to share her experiences. I kindly let her go first 😉

It was emotional to listen to, but in a way comforting to know we were in the same boat and supporting each other. A few people made comments, mainly apologetic that she had such a bad experience from the team of people that were supposed to help her. We learnt that Health Visitors, the professionals that are a mothers first point of contact during the first six weeks post partum, actually have no mental health training. Isn’t that in itself shocking? How are these professionals supposed to diagnose and support mothers without the correct training?

Although I had a bad experience with my initial Health Visitor, I feel immensely lucky that I agreed to see a student Health Visitor on short notice, who is now fully qualified and one of many in my support system. She is fantastic, mainly due to the fact she was previously a mental health nurse, but also as she is so personable. I wouldn’t have been able to open up to others in the way I did with her in the beginning and I can’t thank her enough for all she’s done to help and support me. Whenever people talk badly about Health Visitors now, I can’t help but stick up for her!

I told my story and what I felt needed changing. In particular I am having trouble at the moment finding childcare in order to start an intensive Cognitive Behavior Therapy course. It seems somewhat ironic that I need this therapy because I’ve had children, yet can’t receive the therapy, because I have children.

The room was opened for questions, mostly positive and I felt confident answering them. Then a man asked a question, I looked up to see my old primary school headteacher…”Let’s get to the bottom of this then, I think PND is caused from too much pressure to breastfeed!”

Er, what?

I felt awful, mainly because I knew the other Mum had felt an immense pressure to feed when she didn’t feel well enough to. I could see she was getting emotional but couldn’t help but stick up for myself. My hand shot up. Everyone turned to face me. I felt like I was in school again.

I explained that I had breastfed both of my children, one I had no experience of PND and the other I had quite an intense experience of PND. I explained that mothers needed support in feeding, not told to give up because they were depressed or anxious. That for me, breastfeeding was my only connection to my son in the early days. And if I hadn’t felt that need to feed him, I probably wouldn’t have held him at all.

Both with tears in our eyes, my Health Visitor confidently told the room that the discussion was over and the topic of conversation was changed.

Despite a negative ending, it was overall a positive experience. I gained a few contacts who are looking into the possibility of holding a creche for PND/A sufferers to attend therapy and have been asked to attend various other meetings to build more awareness in our area.

I am determined to support as many local mums as possible through our support group and awareness campaigns and help others, through this blog, feel less alone and slightly more normal. #1in4

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Sunday Morning Smells…

I woke up to my daughter shouting ‘Boo!’ at the side of my bed. My husband had left me to sleep in whilst he caught up on Match Of The Day upstairs with the baby. I picked her up and gave her a cuddle. Lovely…or not?

I could smell something.

‘Darling? Have you done a fart?’

My daughter laughs and shakes her head. Fart is quite a funny word in the eyes of my toddler right now.

I shouted upstairs to my husband, asking him if she’d done a poo recently. He said no, but that she had been alone in her bedroom for a while.

I quickly rushed into the kids bedroom. I don’t know why I rushed as it obviously wouldn’t have changed anything.

Crap. Literally.

Over the floor, over her bed, on her pillows. Oh look, some actually made it into the potty!

I cleaned it up, changed the sheets, opened the window and shut the door. But why could I still smell it? I had washed my hands, but did it again just in case. I turn to my daughter.

‘Mama, I couldn’t find any wipes so I came to you!’

Of course she did.

Happy Sunday!

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A rushed morning…

6.45am – Toddler wakes. I am not ready to be up yet.

6.50am – Taken Toddler upstairs, turned on cBeebies and made her a bowl of cereal then went back downstairs and back to bed. Luckily the baby is a sleep-aholic like me and doesn’t rise most mornings until we wake him.

7.30am – Toddler wants a snack. Go upstairs, give apple, go back to bed again.

8.40am – Toddler reminds me she’s going to nursery today. Drop off is 9.15am.

Oops.

8.50AM – Spent the past 10mins bribing with biscuits to get toddler to put on pants.

8.55AM – We have decided that the Peppa Pig nightie will work as a top on the condition the toddler wears socks.

9.00AM – I’m still in my pyjamas and the baby still in bed. Toddler decides she doesn’t want to go to nursery today and instead wants to stay in bed all day watching YouTube videos. Ooh, she knows how to tempt me!

9.02AM – Climbed back into bed for a lovely cuddle.

9.05AM – Toddler starts licking my face.

9.06AM – Change of plan, definitely need to get rid of toddler.

9.10AM – Whipped on hoody and trainers, baby still in pyjamas. Chucked in baby carrier to keep him warm and hide the fact I am not wearing a bra.

9.16AM – Dragged toddler to nursery, she sauntered in without even saying goodbye – feeling unappreciated.

9.20AM – Got home and looked at self in mirror. Realised hair was still in braids from night before and have last nights make up all over my face. No wonder the staff were staring at me!

9.30AM – Put baby back to bed, decided to give up on this morning and go back to bed.

 

I’ll try again tomorrow!

 

 

 

 

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And then there were four…(where it all began part 3)

So where did I finish off…I guess I was just waiting for 37 weeks. I continued with my weekly admissions for re hydration and also continued to breastfeed my daughter. I got a lot of flack for this as people thought that me feeding her was making me sick. I was however reassured by my consultant (the nice one), my doctor and my breastfeeding practitioner that what I was doing was perfectly safe and had no relevance to my pregnancy and sickness. [I will probably write a whole post about this one day, when I do, I’ll link it here!]

So I got to 36 weeks and my midwife brought me in for my first sweep. She told me I was looking promising, which is great to hear whilst a hand is rooting around your nether regions, and I was told to wait for my induction date.

We went in on the afternoon of the 30th December. I was all set so had regular monitoring then waiting for a delivery room to become available. We ordered the 4 day TV package, knowing now that we would be in for a long haul. Had dinner then my husband went home to look after our daughter, promising to bring her in for a visit tomorrow.

The next day was quiet, we walked the hospital halls, making it a game by touching each end wall. My daughter came for a visit with Nana, we bounced about on my birthing ball, went on lots of walks and had lots of cuddles as well as she has her last breast feed as an only child. I was emotional. I didn’t know this would be the last time I saw her and that she would return not as my baby, but as a big sister.

Walking through the hospital, little did I know next time I saw my daughter she would be a big sister!

We were just trying to decide whether to order a Dominoes or a curry when we were told it was our turn to go onto Labour Ward! We had not been expecting this. Well, we had, but not so quickly! I called my Mom and told her it was go time, she squealed and rushed in to be with us. Lots of people frown when they find I had my Mom with me for both pregnancies, however I think it is important to have a second female birth partner (someone other than your partner). Research shows mothers who have a female birth partner, have an easier childbirth. This is because they get double the oxytocin, not just there own love hormone flowing, but the love hormone of the other female flows through to the birthing mother. How awesome is that? Besides, due to our first scary encounter (which you can read about here) I needed her there in case it all went wrong again.

So Mom arrived around 5pm, just as they were inserting my cannula to start the Pitocin and break my waters. Seeing as it took around 8 hours with my daughter to start pushing, we decided to order a pizza anyway and I settled onto the birthing ball in the hopes to speed things up.

By the time the pizza arrived (double pepperoni and jalapenos) I was getting very strong contractions. The midwives were finding it difficult to keep a track of the heartbeat and contractions using their wireless monitors with me bouncing, I ended up with around 8 different straps to keep them in place! Otherwise, they left us alone, with the lights lowered and the radio on. I asked my husband to text in and get some words of encouragement but he said it was lame – I think he’s lame. I ate a slice of pizza, I was determined to not let it go to waste, but the contractions were getting stronger and stronger. I needed the gas and air already, but I felt like such a wimp for giving in at only 1.5 hours in, once checking my contractions, they gave it to me and I started sucking like mad. I hadn’t felt much effect the first time around, however this time I felt light and dizzy after the first inhalation.

But then, I felt the need to push. I panicked, don’t we all? I wanted to stay sat on my ball, well they could maybe move the ball to catch the baby…however the midwife was insistent I get up on the bed and go on all fours. I tried this position with my first and hated it, which I told them, but they thought I should try again. So up I went, I started not being able to move myself properly so my husband lifted me into position. I was still inhaling the gas and air without stopping. This is where it all went fuzzy…

I remember my Mom asking me if I wanted to turn around. I tried to say ‘Yes’ but nothing came out. I tried to nod my head but I couldn’t. I tried to signal with my hands but felt like I couldn’t control them. Then everything went black.

I had overdosed on the gas and air and had started having hallucinations. The following did not actually happen in ‘real life’, but purely in my head. In ‘real life’ it probably lasted about 3 minutes tops, but in my head it felt like hours.

I saw my husband pulling the emergency button, just like during my first pregnancy. I was screaming, asking if my baby was okay, no one would answer. Doctors and nurses rushed into the room and rolled me out to theatre. I was given a gas mask and all I could see were the harsh lights above me. Then everything went black again. I heard a voice, it was asking me whether I wanted to live or die. I couldn’t respond. It asked me whether I wanted to live or if I wanted my baby to live, I shouted ‘No!’ The voice then told me I needed to breathe, I responded that I was trying. Then the voice told me to let go. So I did. 

I don’t know what the first voice was all about, it still haunts me now. However after shouting ‘No!’ the voice was actually my Mom’s. She was holding my face and trying to get the mouthpiece out, I had clamped my jaw shut in my hallucinated state. She managed to get it out and told me to breathe. My eyes refocused and I was ‘back in the room’. I had basically had flashbacks to my daughters after birth disaster. I asked if my baby was okay but had completely forgotten I still had to actually birth my son.

I pushed, and out he came. He was 7’13 and covered in vernix. He looked gross. He was placed skin to skin, but I asked for a towel to wipe all the gunk off me. I felt nothing. My Mom cut the cord whilst I gave him his first feed. The whole room was tense, none of us could relax and be happy until my placenta had been birthed. I passed him to my husband so I could concentrate on the final phase. I pushed and out it came. Oh, was that it?

I was a bit confused, I had been expecting some drama at least, so when nothing happened it was just a bit odd. We held the baby and started taking pictures, I watched him be weighed and even dressed him myself. I asked my Mom what I was supposed to do now, I didn’t know what a normal person did after birthing a child. She ran me a bath and I shakily stepped in, the adrenaline was still rushing through me, I couldn’t stop my legs from twitching. Apparently this is normal. My Mom and husband held my son as I looked on from the bath, wishing for an emotion, anything to come to me, but nothing.

My Mom left, it was New Year’s Eve so she was off to the pub to celebrate the news with friends and family. My husband was allowed to stay overnight this time as policies had changed in the 18 months since my first born. We both admitted we just wanted our daughter with us. I had assured myself once our daughter was here, that rush of love would come. The fireworks started, but we couldn’t see any from our window. I text a few family members and close friends the good news. I fed my baby and he was so content. I tried to get him to sleep on my chest, just like my daughter did, but he squirmed and wouldn’t settle until I handed him to my husband where he slept soundly.

I lay in my bed, confused and just wanting to sleep. Everything had gone perfectly. This was what I had always wanted, our little family was complete, so why did I feel only emptiness inside?

To be continued…AGAIN!

[Geesh, this is taking way longer than I had anticipated. I could write a novel! I wonder if anyone is actually reading this…]

 

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The UnSanctimonious Guide to Cloth Nappies

We went along to our ante natal classes whilst pregnant with our first, excited to learn all about how to look after a baby! During one class, we were shown cloth nappies, we were not impressed. It sounded quite gross and a lot of hassle. Then we were shown a brilliant chart showing how much money you can save compared to disposable nappies. I can’t find that original chart, however why not check out this fab, informative cost comparison from The Cloth Nappy Tree?)

WTH?! How is this possible? If you save this much money, why doesn’t everyone use them? Are people really that lazy not to save ALL THAT MONEY?! We are massive cheapskates, yeah, saving the planet and all that was a bonus (and the patterns are just adorable!) BUT THE MONEY SAVING?!

I went along to our local cloth nappy library (Jen from Exeter Babies is fab, find her website hereand decided on the BumGenius Flip day and night system. It cost £150 in total (although maybe a bit less as I also bought some reusable breast pads and maybe a wet bag – it was too long ago to remember!)

We used these for the first 4 months until a friend told me about Little Bloom nappies. These are basically pocket nappies made in China and sold on eBay at ridiculously low prices, with gorgeous patterns. I got my Nan to buy 10 pretty patterns with 1 bamboo and 1 microfibre insert each for a total of £30 – what a bargain!

We carried on using our BumGenius Flip night system, as the ‘China cheapies’ didn’t quite hold out for a whole night stint. However they worked perfectly during the day without any leaks.

We don’t do anything fancy whilst washing our nappies, no cold rinses, long washes or special powders *gasp* just a regular 40c wash then depends on my mood as to whether I dry on the clothes hanger or bung in the tumble drier. We don’t like the idea of having a bucket full of nappies lying around the house so use wet bags to store our nappies in. This also means we don’t have to faff about moving nappies from bags to bucket when we’ve been out all day. We don’t use liners, just sluice in the loo or rinse in a sink.

We do two washes a week. When the babies were little we would chuck their sleep suits and vests in too, they were normally covered in poop and puke anyway, so what’s a bit more? Best of all, our nappies are still as good as new half way through our second child’s nappy life, and we’ll even be able to sell them on afterwards!

So make the change -it’s never too late to save lots of money, have some adorable squidgy bums and you even get to help save the environment (even if crunchy isn’t your thing!)

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Where it all began…

My step-dad was a lorry driver, he died in a road traffic accident when I was 7 weeks pregnant. I was one of those stupid pregnant ladies that was insistent on waiting until 12 weeks before telling anyone.

This meant he never knew he would have been a Grandad.

My pregnancy was used as the shining star to make everything okay again. I was told over and over that I had to be happy, because I was growing a baby now.

I never got a chance to grieve.

I saw various counselors during my pregnancy, all of which warned me that I was most likely to experience post natal depression once my baby arrived. My first pregnancy wasn’t easy, with hyperemesis gravidarum forcing me to be admitted into hospital on 7 occasions due to dehydration.

At 38 weeks, my midwife came to visit me for a routine check up, my blood pressure was extremely high, so high that I was told to go straight to the maternity unit. With not being able to drive, my husband working an hour away and my Mom working six hours away, I had no idea what to do.

In the end my Mom’s new boyfriend left work to take me to the hospital (baring in mind he had only been reintroduced as her boyfriend a few months before!) we awkwardly talked about all kinds of crazy things to take my mind off what the heck was happening. My husband arrived at the maternity unit just after us, we were both clueless about what was going to happen but I had packed all mine and baby’s bags just in case! With my blood pressure soaring and not changing enough with the blood pressure medication, it was decided I was to be induced. Luckily it was not severe enough to warrant immediate action so we agreed to start the induction process in the morning.

Following an uncomfortable night’s sleep, I was given the pessary and told to entertain myself. We walked the hospital halls and played games of travel Monopoly and Connect 4. My Mom had traveled back from work as we wanted her to be there during the birth. The day dragged. Nothing had happened and I was getting increasingly frustrated. Another uncomfortable night alone, with the promise that my waters would be broken first thing in the morning. It didn’t happen. I found it so frustrating that they weren’t keeping to their time scales. Silly looking back as obviously it was because more important cases needed to be dealt with. I couldn’t see it like that at the time!

After a snappy shouting match with my Mom, in which she stormed off, I was told I was finally off to the labour ward to have my waters broken and induction started. Time for the grovelling call to Mom, in which I had to apologise profusely before she would come back! My waters were broken with ease and I was started on Pitocin. We ordered Thai food and settled into a long night. 8 hour laters, using gas and air (but not really inhaling enough to get any benefit) I gave birth to our beautiful daughter. She was perfect and healthy. We had our first feed and felt the burst of love straight away.

The midwives were started to look a bit concerned and made me pass my baby to my husband so I could focus on pushing out my placenta. It wasn’t budging. Before I knew what was happening, the emergency bell was pressed and the room was swarmed with nurses and doctors. I was told to sign a piece of paper, I still don’t know what that was for? I was wheeled into theatre where it was decided I would be put under General Anesthetic.

I woke up 4 hours later to my Mom hovering above me. I had no idea what had just happened, I cried for my Mommy, asked her if I was dying, she told me it had been close, but I was fine now. Then I remembered my baby, and was reassured she was just fine too.

I don’t remember much of our first day together, we spent most of it still in our delivery room. I was very woozy from the GA, I couldn’t really eat and was catheterized so couldn’t move from my bed. I remember two midwives literally milking my breasts into syringes so my baby could be fed, as I had so many cannulas fitted I couldn’t hold her properly. By evening I had managed one feed, meaning I was deemed well enough to be transferred to the post natal ward – alone. My husband was told he couldn’t stay with me to help our baby. Even though I was still catheterized so unable to move from my bed.

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Where she would sleep for the next 18 months

I felt so scared, and buzzed for a midwife at any opportunity. When she started hiccuping, I wasn’t sure what to do! She only stopped crying when being fed or laying on my chest, with it being so difficult to pick her up I decided she’d stay there. I had done so much
research during pregnancy and was adamant I would not be bedsharing. My little girl ended up sharing our bed until she was just over 2 years old.

We left the hospital the next day, with the promise to return the next day for further blood tests. We now had a baby, and we were so blissfully happy.

To be continued…duh duh duhhhhhh….

 

 

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