Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Breastfeeding: How it's going

Warning: I'm talking about boobs in this post. Obviously this is in the sense of them being my son's source of food, rather than anything else.

Back when we were having the IVF treatment I found myself swinging between 'definitely going to breastfeed' to 'eh, we'll see how it goes'. When I got pregnant I started out leaning towards seeing how it would go but not wanting to put too much pressure on myself.

I was aware that women who have had fertility treatment can be slightly more at risk of postnatal depression. I guess part of it is because you've had a lot of time to think about being a mum and so you build up a picture of how things are supposed to be, as a result of that you put undue pressure to make everything just right. After all, if you couldn't get pregnant on your own, and then the stuff you're supposed to do as a parent doesn't go the way it's meant to, then perhaps the universe was justified in not giving you that baby naturally; maybe you're not really cut out for it. You can see why it can affect the way a person thinks.

So I didn't want to put too much pressure on myself to breastfeed simply because I didn't want to put too much pressure on myself with regards to anything when the baby was born. I stocked up on bottles (well, my Mum generously stocked us up on bottles) and even got some formula in so we were ready.

But then as the pregnancy progressed and I was so ill I found myself worrying about how I would bond with the baby. Then once I started feeling him move and I did bond with him I became painfully aware of the fact that sooner or later I wouldn't have that close connection with my baby anymore. He'd be out in the world and anyone could comfort him, anyone could change his nappy or cuddle him or put him to bed. But breastfeeding would enable me to be the only one to feed him. And as the pregnancy went on, I became more and more determined to breastfeed.

I was worried, of course. I worried that I would hate it; I'm not really into physically contact all that much and breastfeeding requires quite a bit of physically contact between feeder and feedee. I worried that my milk wouldn't come in or would dry up. I worried that I wouldn't know how much my baby boy was getting to drink. I worried it would hurt. I worried that all the nipple creams contained lanolin and I'm allergic so would have to suffer with dry cracked nipples with nothing to soothe them.

If you can think of a breastfeeding related anxiety, I probably had it. And then some you probably never would have considered as well.

As I blogged about previously, we got off to a slightly rocky start with breastfeeding. The rough delivery and my being so poorly afterwards meant my milk took a while to come in. I was all set with colostrum; with a midwife's help I managed to express 2ml into a syringe on Laurie's birthday. Two measly mils but I felt like a superhero. Laurie lapped that stuff up and it just strengthened my resolve.

I'm a stubborn sort of person, so if someone says I can't do something, it only makes me more determined to do it. So when we had the blip with Laurie's weight and we had to supplement with formula, damnit I was going to breastfeed and I was going to do it well. Even if that meant giving my little boy formula as a top up to help him out.

Once home I was leant a pump by our local midwives. I'd been using the Medela Symphony in the hospital and was expecting something similar. What I got was something altogether more industrial looking and I just couldn't get on with it.

I was supposed to be pumping after a feed, on the breast he'd last fed on. In the hospital I'd been getting 20ml a time (10ml per boob) in 20 minutes. At home I was getting 10ml (that's total from both boobs together) and it was taking an hour. And that was an hour that I couldn't be feeding my son.

It worried me that perhaps Laurie wasn't getting enough milk, that the poor little guy was starving and we'd have to give it up entirely. But then I did a bit of research and discovered the pump funnel I was using was 32ml, whereas the one in the hospital had been 24ml. The 32ml funnel was sucking not only my nipple into the tube but also a sizeable bit of boob. And I'm not exactly small breasted. It was painful and made my nipples look like champagne corks, which Laurie then couldn't latch onto.

I gave it a good couple of goes before abandoning the electric pump. I had more success with the hand pump I got from Boots, except it made my hand cramp, I had to work at it for twice as long as the hospital pump to get 20ml, and the thing kept dismantling itself. In the end I gave the electric pump back as they didn't have a smaller funnel I could use with it.

And to be honest, I've not really needed to pump recently. I was going to before our trip to the mainland the other day but Laurie introduced me to the wonderful world of cluster feeding that Saturday and I couldn't get him off the boob long enough to pump.

But he's obviously getting enough as he's gaining weight well now so while it would be nice for his daddy to feed him occasionally, I'm here with him and it's a lot less effort to pop out a boob than to organise a bottle (or as we've been doing, cup feeding).

As I didn't want to invest too much money in breastfeeding before I knew if I'd stick with it, I didn't get any proper nursing clothing beyond my maternity bras. But it turns out I can just wear what I normally wear.

My usual outfit is a long-sleeved top with a Primark vest top underneath. I thought I'd need to switch to some sort of nursing vest top and button front tops. Turns out that my regular clothes are just perfect, especially the larger size vest tops I got during pregnancy to accommodate the growing bump. I just raise the long-sleeved top, pull down the vest top and unsnap my bra. This means I'm able to discreetly feed Laurie and I'm not flashing too much skin.

I mean, look, you'd never know I was doing it:

Please note, this is also photographic evidence of my first time feeding my son in public.

I was kind of worried about this. I even packed a premade bottle of formula in the nappy bag in case I bottled out. My boy was hungry as we got off the ferry so when we got on the train feeding him was the easiest thing.

I'm lucky in that I'm finding breastfeeding relatively easy. My right nipple can get a bit tender sometimes because Laurie's tongue tie makes latching on this side challenging for him. It's mostly during night feeds when we're both tired that it gets sore because I'm tired and lazy about getting him to stay on correctly. That said, I'm yet to use my £18 nipple balm (lanolin free, obviously, hence the price tag).

Breastfeeding will never be right for everyone. At the end of the day, what's best for baby is being fed, regardless of whether that milk is coming from a boob or a bottle.

But for me, breastfeeding is right for us. It's free, there's no sterilising to fiddle with, there's no preparation beyond arranging your clothes for boob access. I'm cheap and lazy and it works for me.

It also allows me a certain degree of closeness with my boy. I'm hoping to keep going for as long as Laurie wants to.

Though I may need to reconsider how I feel about that once he has teeth!

Monday, 12 March 2018

Five Weeks Old

Laurie hit five weeks old this morning. It's a little bit scary how quickly time is going. Five weeks ago he was a tiny little thing (though he seemed huge at the time); now he's so much bigger and such a proper little person too. It's amazing that someone so tiny can have so much character.

Day One and Day Thirty-Five

I feel like this last week we've seen a major jump in how alert and aware of his surroundings our little boy is. He's settled into a real pattern of activity now so I can predict when he'll be awake and wanting entertaining and when he'll be sleepy or hungry. And quite often when he cries it seems to be because he's bored rather than because he's hungry.

Tuesday was a massive milestone for me. I spent the whole day alone with him, from 9am to 9pm. I was a little worried about how I'd get on with him. As it happened we got on very well. He spent an awful lot of the time looking like this:

He even slept through the vacuum cleaner. In fact, he slept through that quite happily but woke up when I foolishly closed the kitchen door.

Mr Click returned home that night with a baby hamper from our local supermarket! We've been so lucky with all the gifts we've received from people but they've been so unexpected. It's incredible to think that there are so many people who love our little boy. We're so fortunate.

We had another Health Visitor appointment and Laurie impressed her by weighing 7lbs 15oz. He's almost back to that all important birth weight (though I'd say he's about right on track considering his birth weight was rather inflated due to the fluids I had sitting labour). And we don't need another visit for a couple of weeks.

She also brought our Book Bug bag of books. I'm always thrilled to get new books and I think Laurie's enjoying them too.

We're getting plenty of walks in too. Wednesday was a walk down town with the pram and Saturday was on the estate with the Ergobaby carrier.

Laurie stayed more awake in the carrier than he does in the pram. He was having a good look around as we walked and the only time he cried was when we stopped for a few minutes to take photos. I'm looking forward to many more walks like this. I'm a bit out of shape so we're working up to it gradually but it feels good to get out the house and see the area where we live. It's changed a bit in the last year.

And yesterday was my first Mother's Day.

It's been a long time coming.

Laurie spoiled me by sleeping late so I was able to use both hands to eat my breakfast! I also got cards, some gifts and afternoon tea out at a local beach. It was definitely worth the wait.

We're also getting proper smiles now too. I'm yet to catch one on camera but it's the cutest thing. His eyes crinkle up like little crescent moons and his mouth curls up. It's my new favourite thing in the world.

Sunday, 11 March 2018

My First Mother's Day

First things first:

Happy Mother's Day to all:
 - the mums
 - the stepmums
 - the dads, aunts, uncles, grandparents and other family members who are taking the place of mums
 - the mums to be

and especially to the people who find the day tough, the people who have been dreading the day since the shops started advertising it coming, the people who don't have a mum to spoil and celebrate with, and all the mums with empty arms who won't be waking up to sticky kisses and homemade cards:
 - the ones who have said goodbye to their little ones far too early
 - the ones who never got to meet them or hold them and discover the awesome people they would become
 - the ones who are mothers at heart but are still waiting for the child who will complete them

Have a wonderful gentle day.

Today was my first ever proper Mother's Day as a mother. I've had Mother's Days before, but they were with frozen embryos waiting for me in Glasgow, or after we'd lost the twins so there was no baby bump to celebrate with. I was more excited for this day than for my own birthday this year.

And my boys didn't let me down.

Laurie slept late so I was able to eat my breakfast with both hands free. And then there were cards (from both Laurie and my Mum), and a gift bag containing chocolate, a teddy and a mummy mug.

And then there was a surprise trip out for cake and afternoon tea.

Laurie was a little angel and slept through it.

It's been a wonderful weekend (yesterday there was a relaxing bath and Chinese). And I'm looking forward to celebrating again in the years to come.

Friday, 9 March 2018

One Month of Laurie

I'm currently lying in bed with my little guy snuggled up beside me and I should really use this time that he's sleeping to nap myself, you know, the whole 'sleep when they sleep' thing. But I know that the minute I try to close my eyes, he'll start demanding another feed; Laurie has a sixth sense for knowing when mummy is trying to do things that don't involve him.

Case in point: He's just started to stir, burped and is now trying to latch on to my t-shirt! He knows!

Bear with me...

Okay, now he's happily nursing, I can continue.

I thought I should do a quick run through of the first four weeks of Laurie in the hopes that I can start blogging a little more frequently about how awesome my son is. And other things of course.

Week One was mostly spent getting to know the little guy and most of this was done in hospital. That kind of meant that once we were discharged we had to relearn who we were in our normal home environment.

I'm going to do this in bullet points since it's easier.

  • The journey home was uncomfortable for me since it was the longest I'd sat upright since I'd had him. Probably not helped by the detour to Tesco and Boots as I searched for a hand pump.
  • Laurie didn't stir from the moment we fastened him into the car seat to the time we got home. I sat in the back seat with him and occasionally poked him to check he was still breathing.
  • His first visitors were in the Co Op car park where I was sitting in the car with him while my Mum and Mr Click went to pick up essentials. His next visitors were our next door neighbours when we arrived back at the house.
  • We had our first midwife visit and I was loaned a pump which I DID NOT get on with.
  • He also had his first visit from Mr Click's parents. They loved him, of course.

Week Two dawned and we started to settle into a routine of sorts. Some days we didn't leave the house, some days I didn't get dressed, some days I did but only long enough for the midwife visit and then I was back to jammies.
  • We celebrated it being exactly one year since Laurie's conception. That was kind of weird, holding my nine day old son and knowing his life had started exactly one year beforehand.
  • I finally did my last injection for the foreseeable future. I'd been put back on clexane after the birth due to blood loss, transfusion and lack of movement putting me at risk of clots.
  • We had more midwife visits, Laurie continued to very slowly put on weight.
  • He also started to develop his own little routine, giving us 3-4 chunks of sleep at a time through the night. He's been pretty consistent about this ever since which is awesome. I'm actually getting more sleep now than during pregnancy!
  • We got him registered. That felt like such a big deal to me. Just seeing his name written out in full makes me smile. Afterwards we went out for lunch, this was my first proper trip out, and I psyched myself up for feeding him in public. He slept the whole time.
  • I realised that my pre-pregnancy clothes fitted me again! Just in time to venture out for another lunch, which once again, Laurie slept through!
  • His Naini did lots of knitting; first a trio of woodland creatures (two hedgehogs and a squirrel) and then a cute little pixie hat. She also did lots of dog walking, washing up, laundry, ironing, vacuuming, general reassuring, baby cuddling and comforting, and taught us how to give Laurie a bath. I don't know what we'd have done without her!

We began Laurie's third week feeling fairly confident that we were getting the hang of things.
  • Of course then we said goodbye to my Mum which meant we had to settle into a new routine with one less pair of hands.
  • That day I also sent Mr Click to his band practice so I spent about three hours home alone with the baby. It was kind of scary and also wonderful too. I spent most of the time trying to get the washing up done; I got as far as putting the washing up liquid in the bowl. It was a successful evening.
  • We had our first health visitor visit before Mum left. She picked up on his jaundice so later in the week we had a visit from a midwife to do a bilirubin check, which then led to a paediatrician call, which then led to a hospital appointment for the following week. This was a little alarming though we didn't actually think there was a problem. Spoiler alert: There wasn't.
  • Laurie started getting really alert and aware of the world around him. He's developed a fascination for the strings of cards up on the wall, the curtains, the pattern on my in-laws' sofa. His eyes seemed to get a shade lighter too. It was amazing to see how he changes from day to day.
  • He also had a bit of the snuffles, poor guy. We got this saline nasal spray which he hated. The more we used it, the better he came to recognise the spray bottle and started crying before we could get it in his nose. It took two of us to do it in the end. Happily he was only snuffly for a couple of days.
  • My Mum and Stepdad bought us our travel system and we'd been using the car seat every time we went out with Laurie, but we'd not taken him out in the pram until this week. I was finally feeling up to walking a more substantial distance so we took a stroll to town and back. It took about 90 minutes because people kept stopping to see the baby and talk to us. It was great.
  • We also got our Ergobaby carrier. I'd tried Laurie in the fabric wrap sling and he responded like I was torturing him. He fell asleep in the Ergobaby carrier and I was able to cut Mr Click's hair while I carried the baby. We're planning some short walks on the estate in the coming weeks.
  • And Laurie's little personality is coming out in spades. Remember when I was pregnant and his stuck his foot up his nose on the scan? Well he's still just as much of a little goofball. On his three week birthday we couldn't help but behind even more aware of what a cheeky little guy he is. I can't wait to see how this side of him develops.

On his three week birthday, the start of fourth week with us, Laurie had his first trip off the island.
  • This was as a result of the bilirubin check the previous week. Rather than driving we took the train and bus, with Laurie in the pram. I had my first experience (or four) of breastfeeding in public and he mostly slept. His appointment went well too, though he was thoroughly unimpressed at having his blood taken, otherwise I think he enjoyed the day. And he got his first (but not last) experience of being out in the snow.
  • Then things got a little crazy with the weather.
  • My Aunt and Nan came up for a visit, then got stuck in Scotland (though not on the island unfortunately) because of the weather. Laurie and I were snowed in for the rest of the week. It was just too deep and icy for us to safely get out, though luckily Mr Click was able to venture out on the Friday for more supplies. I read a lot and got kind of stir crazy from watching so many films but there was little else for us to do.
  • It was kind of funny to see Laurie's reaction when we took him to the window first thing each morning, it would be so bright that he could barely open his eyes. He'd just look really puzzled by it each time we went to the window.
  • I invested in a second-hand breastfeeding pillow from the local Facebook resale page. This thing is a godsend. I'm able to feed Laurie whilst retaining the use of one, sometimes two hands. The biggest thing this enables me to do is actually use a knife and fork again rather than trying to do things one-handed.
  • Laurie also likes to be held. To start off with I was trying to put him down in the Moses basket whenever he fell asleep, but inevitably he'd wake up and start crying; sometimes it'd only be a few minutes, sometimes we'd get an hour or more. Kid just likes to be cuddled. The pillow means he can dose off and still feel held close, but I have my hands free. To be honest, I love holding him and I love that the place he's happiest to fall asleep is my arms. He'll only be small and cuddly for a little while so I intend to get as many cuddles in as I can now.
  • I think it won't be much longer before we get a real smile from him as well. He's coming so close. His eyes look like little inverted brackets and he opens his mouth real wide. His Great Aunt brought him a little monkey wooby and I've been bopping Laurie on the nose with it; most of the time he gives you his little proto-smile back. I can't wait to see it for real and figure out what we need to do to bring it out.

And now we're closing in on the end of his fourth week with us.

He's doing so well and growing so fast. The last month has both gone so quickly and so slowly. It's all kinds of surreal and incredible.

And a little part of me still can't quite believe he's mine!

Saturday, 3 March 2018

The Hospital Stay

Thank you for all the kind messages welcoming little Laurence to the world. And yes, I'm biased, but he is without a doubt the most adorable baby I've ever laid eyes on.

As I mentioned on his birth announcement post, we had a bit of an extended stay in hospital so I thought I'd say a few words about that.

Day 3
Laurie was born on the third day of my hospital stay so I'm starting from there.

Allow me to take you back for a second to the minutes following my son's birth. After he'd had his checks by the paediatrician I was handed a bawling, wrinkle-faced newborn. I'd wanted to say something really profound to him but instead I think I mumbled something about being his mummy and kept repeating 'I know, I know' in response to his cries. I was feeling rather swimmy headed at the time.

At one point I glanced down the bed and saw the placenta had been delivered and marvelled at the fact I wasn't aware of that actually happening. I also noticed that there seemed to be rather a lot of people working down that end of the bed.

Then someone came back and said that the baby was going to his daddy now and started talking about me going to theatre. As they took Laurie from my arms and handed him to Mr Click I took another look down the bed where there seemed to be even more people and a bowl full of blood. Somewhere at the back of my mind I managed to focus on the thought 'oh no, that's not good'.

And the next thing I knew I was being wheeled away to theatre.

Although I'd been told I might not be knocked out, once there the decision was made to put me under. I found myself painfully aware of an episode of ER where Abby has Luka's baby and she haemorrhages so has a hysterectomy. My last thought as they put me to sleep was 'please don't take my uterus' and rather hilariously in hindsight 'it's going to be expensive enough to fund a frozen embryo transfer, I can't afford a surrogate as well!'

And the next thing I knew I was coming round in some place with Mr Click on one side of me and a baby in a plastic crib on the other. I guess I drifted in and out of consciousness for a while because at one point Mr Click told me he was going and then the next minute I was aware that he wasn't there anymore.

By about lunchtime I was conscious and once I found my phone I messaged my husband asking him to come back. I'd had a cuddle with the baby, with the help of a midwife, but I'd also been told I needed a blood transfusion and I wanted Mr Click with me right then and there. He'd been sent to the hotel by the midwives to get some rest and had intended to come back to see me later that afternoon anyway.

The rest of that day is a bit of a jumbled blur. There was an attempt to breastfeed, a session of expressing colostrum into a syringe, a bed bath and the changing of my sheets/getting dressed into a nightie. I know that last one happened before the blood transfusion because I'm wearing the nightie in the photo Mr Click took of me holding Laurie whilst receiving the blood but I have no recollection of when it actually happened.

The day ended with one of the midwives coming to tell me, shortly before midnight, that it was snowing outside. A nice little welcome to the world for Laurie from his snowflake siblings.

Day 4
This was the day I finally made it out of recovery and onto the ward (which I then Brianne convinced I would never leave). I'd been kept in recovery because there was a chance I was going to need another blood transfusion, something I managed to avoid.

Once I had my catheter out I was able to get up, go pee and then take a shower. Just going to the toilet proved to be exhausting and on the short walk back to my bed I wondered if I would make it. Every step hurt. Thankfully I was able take my shower sitting down.

Laurie and I were then wheeled up to the ward where we ended up in the same room as my stay at 9 weeks, in fact I was in the bed next to the one I stayed in before. That meant my window looked on to the corridor rather than out on to the roof.

My Mum arrived and she and Mr Click came in to visit. Technically only partners are allowed to visit 11am to 9pm, extra visitors are supposed to follow the afternoon visiting times. We were able to get special dispensation due to her having come all the way from Wales.

I was thrilled to see both of them, but again, most of Tuesday is a bit of a blur. Mum brought Laurie and I some gifts, and I remember some suggestively shaped cream cakes. We chatted through the day and passed the baby back and forth. Mostly I felt really tired, I'm guessing this was a combination of the birth, exhaustion and the blood transfusion (which I've heard can make people feel funny for a while afterwards).

Day 5
I was anticipating this being my last full day in the hospital. I felt like I was moving a lot easier, though this was the day I toppled over backwards, landing on my backside, as I crouched down to pick something up. I'm still feeling bruised from that!

This was the day that breastfeeding properly clicked for us. Laurie has a slight tongue tie and that combined with the traumatic birth/blood loss slowed down my milk coming in. Laurie got the hang of latching on the left side but because of the tongue tie it took a touch longer to get the hang of latching on the right.

As you can see from the photo above, Laurie had a touch of jaundice. It was within normal levels though, so we weren't too concerned and all his other checks were fine. Though he needed a retest on his hearing screening.

There was still some concern about my blood pressure being high and my iron levels being low. All the stuff I was being given for pain, iron levels, and to help me go to the loo, along with too much dairy, conspired against me and upset my stomach, which then had them questioning whether I might have an infection and need quarantining. But I was determined I was getting out the following day, although in hindsight a quarantine room would have helped me get a little more sleep I'm sure.

I was also looking forward to getting home and getting into a proper routine with the baby. At night in the hospital it was just me and Laurie; I know there were midwives and auxiliary staff to help, but it felt an awful lot like going it alone. At home I knew I would have two extra pairs of hands any time I needed them, and I wouldn't have to wave them off at the end of the day just when I needed them most.

Day 6
We were going home! Mum and Mr Click had been having to extend their stay at the B&B but this was the day they would check out and finally head back to the island.

That morning I dressed Laurie in the little outfit I'd planned for his going home. He was totally channelling baby Toby from Labyrinth.

I showered and dressed and started to organise all my stuff ready to get out of there.

Alas it was not to be.

The midwife came to do the discharge paperwork and went through everything with me. We were almost ready to go.

Then someone decided to weigh Laurie. I've since found out that it's not standard procedure to weigh the baby at this point and also due to the length of time I was receiving fluids during labour he was incredibly puffed up so had a lot of fluids weight to lose.

Laurie was down 11% of his birth weight, so we weren't allowed to leave.

I cried.

I was feeling miserable. I was running out of clean things to wear. The baby was running out of clean things to wear. The hospital food was upsetting my stomach. The constant noise and light on the ward was keeping me from sleeping. My backside was sore from my tumble and the hospital bed wasn't helping that at all. The toilet paper was rough.

Not getting to go home brought it all to a head, especially because this latest turn of events meant that apparently I was starving my son or something.

I was set up with a breast pump and the plan was to pump every three hours in the hopes that Laurie would gain back that magic 2% of his birth weight to get us out of there. We cup fed him to avoid him getting an easy go with the bottle (since his tongue tie meant he had to work harder at the breast) and I started to feel confident that we were doing a good job.

Until that night when one of the midwives told me off for comfort nursing the little man to get him to sleep, told me she'd seen more babies struggle with switching between cup and breastfeeding than switching between bottle and breastfeeding, and told me if he was fussing and keeping me awake she'd take him away and give him a bottle of formula.

I cried some more and spent the rest of my hospital stay pretending to be asleep when she came round.

Day 7
I had a feeling we wouldn't be getting out of there this day. Whereas the previous day I'd confidently showered and dressed, I didn't bother this time. I guess deep down I knew he hadn't gained anything.

First there was the matter of his jaundice. He still registered a reading on the meter but it was low enough to be normal for his age.

But his weight? He'd not lost anything, but he hadn't gained any either. So we were still stuck.

This time I really cried. In fact, just thinking about that hopeless, helpless feeling I felt stuck in that hospital bed, no fresh air, no proper daylight, no proper food or loo roll, makes me want to tear up a bit. Even though I'm writing this in the comfort of my own home, my own bed, nursing my son with my Labrador at my feet.

We got a new feeding plan. I was to pump to feed him and then top him up with formula, then offer the breast in between times. Even at the time this sounded backwards to me. Surely to encourage him to feed he needed more opportunities to take the boob, not less.

The result of this was, of course, that he would fill up on the milk I pumped, take the formula I coaxed into him, then would fall asleep any time I tried to put him on the boob. He was full, he didn't need to breastfeed. And the formula made him sicky and gassy. So I was constantly having to get his bedding changed and mop him up.

On the plus side, I did learn how to cup feed by myself so I didn't have to spend the night pushing the buzzer and hoping I didn't get the midwife who made me cry.

Despite the feeding plan feeling like the complete opposite of what I should be doing, I went along with it because I wanted out. But I also formulated a plan.

If his weight was down again at the next weigh in I would ask to switch to formula feeding, even though it made him puke and windy. I'd formula feed til he gained enough to get us out of there and then once home I'd ask the local midwives for help reestablishing breastfeeding.

I also intended to send a text to one of the local midwives or get Mr Click to give them a call because the hospital seemed to think that once we left we would be on our own, as though we lived in some little backwater without maternity or postnatal care.

They kept telling me it was better to be there than risk having to be readmitted later. But I had a horrible feeling that part of the reason we were still there was because I was still in hospital. It was like a vicious circle; the longer I was there, the more stressed and tired I became, and the more stressed and tired I became, the harder it was to feed Laurie, so we were detained even longer.

Having a plan to help get us out made me feel a little better and I was optimistic that if we called on the local midwives, they might help us escape.

The Escape
As it turns out, that wasn't necessary.

My final morning in hospital dawned and the midwife who admitted me exactly a week before was on shift. And she was shocked to see me still there.

I told her everything that had happened that week and she replied 'we'll get you out today'. All my nefarious plotting to get us out come hell or high water was unnecessary. I was getting out of there.

I also spoke to her about my feeding plan and admitted I was basically going along with it to get out of the hospital and she said one of the best things to me. Seriously, this is something that all new mums should be told. Midwives should have it tattooed across their foreheads.

She said 'Ultimately we can only give you guidance. At the end of the day, it's your baby and you have to do what's right for you and him.'

And then she weighed him and he was at 9% down from his birth weight, so we were allowed to leave. I couldn't believe it. I'd not let myself believe it was possible so I hadn't even bothered to get dressed.

And so we were finally able to venture out into the big wide world with our son and head home.

Via Boots to pick up a breast pump. Which I've used once since we got it.

Because it turns out that being home makes me feel so much more relaxed that breastfeeding goes a hell of a lot easier!

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Introducing the baby formerly known as Bo...

I'm a little late posting this, considering the boy will be four weeks old on Monday. In my defence, I've been kind of tied up with a newborn, so I think I can be excused.

The short version is that I went into the hospital on the 3rd of February. Induction was started via pessary and two days later, shortly before 5am, weighing 8lbs 7oz (so much for my predicted 7lber, but on the plus side, I basically was back to my pre-pregnancy weight simply by delivering the baby), Laurence John Henry was born.

The long version is long. And contains way too much information about my cervix, so if you're not into that sort of thing, just enjoy this photo of my son on his birthday.

I arrived at the hospital at 2.30pm on the 3rd, got hooked up to a monitor and then around half an hour later got pessary number one. Within a few hours of this I was getting waves of period pain which I didn't realise until I was hooked up to the monitor later on were actually contractions. At my first examination my cervix was too high to feel properly.

I took some paracetamol and something with codeine which eased them off for a while but they son came back with a vengeance and my second examination revealed the cervix was lower and the midwife could feel it starting to open. By the time I was being monitored with pessary number two I was having regular contractions which were registering around 30/40 on the monitor.

These of course tapered off during the early hours of the morning and virtually stopped completely which was disheartening but my third examination allowed the midwife to touch the baby's head so they'd obviously been doing something. I was later examined by a doctor (with the largest hands in the world!) who was able to tickle the baby's head (and what felt like my tonsils as well!) sand pronounced my waters ready to break.

I had a wait of about an hour to go to the labour ward and was expecting more of a wait to get things started once I was there, but things progressed pretty quickly.

I got checked in just before 5pm and we ran through the plan. My waters were broken about an hour later and I discovered the joys of gas and air. There was meconium in the water which changed our plans for immediately after delivery slightly (no delayed cord clamping or skin to skin until he'd been checked over) but they were happy with his heartbeat and everything at the time.

I'd planned to labour upright and on all fours as much as possible and did try both but couldn't get comfortable on my feet (and the gas and air made my feet feel sort of numb which was distracting) and all fours made the contractions feel different. In the end we adjusted the bed into a chair and I perched on the edge of it in a sort of squat for a lot of the time, occasionally turning round and hanging over the edge.

I'm not sure how far into things I was but it was a few hours from the start that I started to panic that the gas and air wasn't helping with the contractions so well. Although I'd said I didn't want morphine, I took it and the relief was immense. The gas and air started helping again and I was able to snooze occasionally as well. As the contractions the night before had kept me awake, this was very much needed. Poor Mr Click had even less sleep than me that weekend!

By the early hours of the morning I was starting to get an urge to push and an examination showed I was at 7cm. I had arrested to struggle with pain relief again and tried to decide whether I wanted an epidural. I was concerned about being stuck on the bed as I was back to experimenting with different positions so I was allowed to wait a little longer and have some more morphine.

I then panicked that I'd made the wrong decision as the pain got steadily more intense. This was due to his head moving right down though and it wasn't long before I had an uncontrollable urge to push.

I must have been pushing for about three hours in total. At 2.40am the midwife asked me what time I wanted him out by and I said 3am. Well, that didn't happen and neither did my next target of 4am.

This was easily the worst part of the whole labour (and that's including the multiple times I threw up thanks to a combination of not having my ondansetron and taking the morphine). I was in agony; the gas and air wasn't touching it to the point that I mostly gave up using it because all it was doing was making me feel fuzzy without taking away the pain. We cycled through a bunch of positions but they seemed to either increase the pain too much or dull it to the point where I couldn't push effectively.

Once again I ended up sort of sit-squatting on the bed. I was getting exhausted and miserable and panicky. The midwife basically told me that I needed to get him out or we'd be looking at forceps/ventose. That was probably what I needed because I started pushing like a woman possessed.

I was led to believe I would forget the pain but it's still very fresh in my mind. Somehow I knew I was going to tear but I kept on pushing and it all happened in seconds. One moment I was trying to get his head out sand the next minute it was delivered, there was a wet slithery feeling and suddenly there was a massive baby on the bed between my legs!

He was rushed off to be checked over because of the meconium. He was brought back to me briefly but by that point I was bleeding very heavily so he went to his dad instead while they tried to get my bleeding under control.

I'd torn very badly but I was also having a post-partum haemorrhage and my uterus wasn't doing what it was supposed to. The next thing I was getting whisked off to theatre and knocked out for a repair job. Mr Click and Laurie got a lovely long cuddle though and whenever Laurence is having a big crying jag, his dad just needs to speak to him to calm him down. It's amazing and I'm so glad they got that time to bond.

I wound up with a third degree tear and lost 1.8l of blood so needed a transfusion. The swelling to my nether regions was incredible, I've never seen anything like it! I spent Laurie's first day on earth with a condom full of cold water in my (super sexy mesh) pants to help bring it down some!

Hospital proved to be a bit of an ordeal. I'll maybe blog a little about our stay later. We didn't get discharged until a full week after we'd been admitted for the induction. This was both expensive (as Mr Click and my mum had to check into a B&B and then check out each day as they waited to find out if Laurie and I were going to be discharged, then check back in when we weren't) and incredibly stressful (which is really the last thing you need when you've j just had a baby).

All the same, Laurie is a little delight. After a shaky start, we've got the hang of breastfeeding. He's been an alert little boy from day one and in the last almost month had become even more alert and engaging.

On the whole he's very happy. He cries when he's hungry, if he's dirty or if he's not happy about the amount of attention he's getting. Once we got out of hospital he started sleeping like a dream, giving us 3-4 hour stretches at a time.

He's got really big hands and feet, is incredibly strong (he's been trying to hold his head up since day one and can push himself off your lap with his legs). His hair is incredibly soft, getting blonder by the day and he has this little widow's peak thing going on at the front. His eyes are blue and have been getting lighter since he was born; I can't wait to see what shade they end up.

He also farts like no one else I know!

We've stumbled over some hurdles since he was born. First there was my recovery, then he lost 11% of his birth weight so we couldn't be discharged (though since then we've established this was largely due to me, and so also him, being pumped full of fluids for twelve hours during labour so he was born all puffed up), then there was an extended period of jaundice which needed to be looked in to.

But almost a month into this parenting thing and I feel like we're doing a good job. I've got a handle on what he wants and needs so I'm hoping I'll be able to blog a little more frequently again but in the meantime if you're being a little more of a Laurie fix (and who could blame you, he's adorable), I post rather obsessively on Instagram at the moment.