Wednesday, 18 September 2013

The new me

I've written a few times about the predictable cliches people come out with about having a baby. I have come to an alarming conclusion...

...they are all true!

So, let's get them out of the way: My life has changed beyond all recognition, I'm surviving on half my usual amount of sleep, it's hard work being a parent, I don't have room in my life for anything else at the moment etc etc. It is all, without question, wonderful, and I am very aware that while there are challenges, I am very lucky to have a baby at all. For some people, sleepless nights and poo-ey nappies are something unobtainable. I love my daughter, and can no longer imagine life without her.

M is 10 days old today and already my routine and approach to life has changed. Now, a few minutes to read the paper and drink tea while it is still hot is a rare luxury. My shower at the beginning of each day is something to savour, and at times, nights are something to dread. 

I think M is having a growth spurt at the moment. She is putting on lots of weight, and demanding feeds from R on an almost hourly basis. R is coping really well and now has the art of popping a boob out down to a fine art. She's only forgotten to put her top back up over her bra once so far...

I am lucky to be on parental leave for now. When I go back to work the routine will change again, but I will cross that bridge when I get to it. In the meantime I am concentrating on enjoying my daughter and looking after my wife. 

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Our new bedtime regime

New baby means new challenges. To start with, R is still recovering from her C section, which means that she has been sporting a rather fetching pair of surgical stockings. They are fiendishly hard to get on, and because of her wound (which is healing really well) I've been chief stocking putter-onner and taker-offer. She also came home from hospital with five pre-prepared injections to stave off DVT, along with a sharps bin. After about 30 seconds training from a nurse, I was let loose on my wife with a syringe. That was a bit scary. I'm generally quite a squeamish person, but given that last week I sat in on R's operation, an injection or two seemed less of a big deal!

M wasn't sure about sleeping in her cot to start with. Last night we discovered that she settles much more easily if we carry on talking. If we are all to sleep though, this isn't really sustainable! In the end I found an old Victoria Wood cassette to play her which did the trick. The things you learn...

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Six days old

My last post focused on the birth, and so now that M is six days old, I thought it might be good to fill in the gap since then. M is doing wonderfully. She was in hospital for a few days with R, and lost a little bit of weight to start with. R found feeding quite difficult to start with but is determined to breastfeed. She is doing a great job, especially since with a C section there is often up to a 48 hour delay for the milk coming in. Once home though, things began to improve. 

I don't need to write about the challenges of sleep deprivation. They are of course something of a cliche for new parents. I will however write about the joy if having my little family home. It's not always easy, but it is definitely worth it. There have been some wonderful moments already and I look forward to many more to come. 

Feeding is going better, but it is, without question not just a skill but a team effort. M is now putting on weight and doing very well. She is a surprisingly laid back baby given how traumatic her birth was. And while things didn't go to plan to start with, she is coping very well with the outside world. As for R, well, I don't think I've ever been prouder. She has dealt with our unexpected birth experiences and all the challenges so far brilliantly. She is without doubt a wonderful mummy. It will take her some time to fully recover from surgery, but she's healing beautifully. 

M is without question the most beautiful baby in the world (spot the cliche) and I am a very proud mama. The three of us have really enjoyed bonding. Long may it continue! 

Friday, 13 September 2013

The birth of my daughter: how it all happened

Our lovely daughter, M, was born on Sunday evening. A simple sentence but it encapsulates so much more than that!

R had mild contractions throughout Friday night. By Saturday afternoon they were much stronger so we started to use all the hypnobirthing and relaxation techniques we'd learnt. R did a wonderful job of managing the surges when they came. After about four hours of this we went to the birth centre, a lovely midwife led unit on the edge of the city, with a focus on natural births and water births. We stayed for about an hour but were then advised to get some rest at home for a few hours because there was still quite a long way to go. 

Several hours later we were back and things were definitely moving along. R's cervix was dilating slowly. By 9am she had progressed into 'active labour' and was able to get in the pool, which helped enormously with managing the surges when they came. A good friend came to help out and I managed to get a 30 minute nap. I'm glad I did. 

A few hours later progress wasn't as good as it should be, so the midwife suggested breaking R's waters. She felt a bit reluctant at first, because it was an intervention that she hoped to avoid. However, we wanted to avoid R and the baby getting too tired, so we went for it. That was the moment when everything changed. When the midwife said to her colleague: "grade three meconium" my heart sank. This means that the baby had done a poo inside R, which can be a sign that the baby isn't very happy and might be distressed. 

R was put into an ambulance to the hospital, which is just three miles away. I had to drive there myself, alone, in my car with its empty car seat. I immediately reversed into a bollard at the birth centre, such was my worry and general state. I wept on the drive there, hoping to get my tears out before R arrived. I knew I needed to be calm and strong for her sake.

Once at the hospital, I called our friend back to offer us a bit of moral support. R was now in quite intense discomfort. The staff were wonderful and totally supported her wish for a natural birth but soon it became clear she needed more help. She had now been in labour for more than 24 hours and was exhausted. Progress was still very slow and the doctors wanted to put up a drip to bring them on. After a long discussion, she decided to have an epidural. It would allow her to sleep for a while the drip took effect. For a few hours after that we had some rest. It was a good decision in more ways than one because suddenly the baby's heartbeat started to drop. It didn't recover very quickly, so quickly we were surrounded by about eight people in blue scrubs doing lots of tests and asking questions. The baby was clearly in distress, and after a quick blood test they were able to do on her head (clever huh?) they discover her oxygen levels were a little low.

It was then that R was recommended to have a caesarian section. Once she'd said yes - and really for both her safety and that of our daughter it was the only answer - she was whisked away to surgery. I had a little cry and was then myself taken to get into scrubs. Because she already had her epidural she was able to stay awake during the procedure which was great. As I waited outside the theatre for her to be prepared, I prayed out loud. I'm not sure I've ever done that before. I was terrified, but also knew that I had to hold it together. Whatever I was going through, it was much tougher for R and the baby. 

Within just a minute or two of me entering the theatre and sitting by R's head on the other side of the blue barrier, I heard my daughter cry. The relief was a physical experience. I cried yet again. She was put straight into R's chest for skin to skin and I just sat there with my two girls, glad that the nightmare of the last few hours was over. It had been truly terrifying. 

Soon the three of us were in the recovery area. We spent an hour, just the three of us, only interrupted occasionally by staff checking on R and M. It was the first bit of peace and quiet we'd had for hours and was just incredible. We had come through almost 48 hours of labour and emerged with a healthy, happy baby. She even managed to breast feed for 40 minutes which was a massive achievement!

By about 11.30pm it was time for me to go. R and M were taken to the ward and I once again returned to my car. I was exhausted, emotional and relieved. I drove home very slowly, almost blinded by the tears. Home felt oddly empty and it was strange thinking of my wife and daughter in a hospital ward. I rang my dad and told him all about what had happened, although I'm not sure I was speaking in full sentences. 

I was now a Mama. 

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

How to bring on labour...

Three days overdue and still no baby. So, I thought I would share with you all the means by which we've tried to kick start labour...

Curry (three curries actually) culminating in this evening's one - pictured - that made beads of perspiration gather on poor R's forehead. 

Raspberry leaf tea, which R has been drinking by the gallon. We don't have a tea strainer so she has delicately been draining it through a giant sieve. 

Dates - six of them every day. If they don't bring on labour, they certainly keep one regular...

Yoga - in particular, poses on all fours which involve hip circling. Disconcerting to come into the living room to. 

Induction massage which will include pushing and pulling and acupressure (or something). 

A sweep - this does not involve a brush of any kind much to R's relief. 

Walking everywhere. 

I'm sure there's something I've forgotten... 

Sunday, 1 September 2013

My baby was due today and...

...and no, the balloon didn't go up. When we woke up this morning R and I decided we needed to do something out of the ordinary otherwise we might find ourselves waiting.

We spent the day at a music festival locally, which was great fun. Lots of music, meeting friends, eating spicy food. Fabulous. Perhaps the pumping baseline and chillies might have an impact in the coming days. 

Tomorrow, assuming nothing happens overnight, I'm back to work in the bizarre situation of not having scheduled meetings because of impending parental leave. And then R and I will go and see the midwife, who will let us know what position the baby is in, which I always enjoy!