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Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Breastfeeding: The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth...

I've been breastfeeding my boy for over three months now. I never believed (when I started writing this pot when he was just 3 weeks old), that we would get to this point and still be going strong.

When I fell pregnant again earlier this year, one of the things I really wanted to do was breastfeed. I'd planned to do the same when I had Brooke, but it went horribly wrong after a nasty case of mastitis landed me back in the hospital when Brooke was just twelve days old. It was a really stressful time. Being a first time Mum is so overwhelming all by itself, and the struggle I had trying to establish breastfeeding really upset me and left me totally deflated.

I had wanted to nurse Brooke so so much, and of course the Midwives and Health Visitors are full of encouragement and advice that it is the best way to feed your baby. But what they don't tell you, is exactly what breastfeeding entails in those early days. The early days that are so important for establishing successful breastfeeding. There are NHS leaflets that specifically explain how to make up a formula feed, but there is nothing of the same ilk, that explains cluster feeding, cracked nipples or engorgement. In my experience, there is zero real information to really let Mums know exactly what to expect when breastfeeding.

After I stopped breastfeeding Brooke and switched to formula, (which I have to add was the best thing for her, and me at the time - this is not a post to slur on formula-feeding), I read a lot about breastfeeding, and subsequently learned so much more about the science, if you will, behind it. The more I found out, the more I realised that I was probably on the right track with Brooke, I just hadn't known what to expect in those crucial early days. I didn't know it would be normal for her to want to nurse frequently, or for her to switch between breasts several times within the hour and for all of this to actually be really normal. All I had heard about from the health professionals, as well as from friends and family, was "three-hour feeding routines" and the benefits of me being able to see how many ounces Brooke was taking if I switched to a bottle. At no time did anyone explain to me that if I took a "babymoon" for the first two weeks, let Brooke nurse on demand, keep her skin to skin, and follow her cues, that she would have probably breastfed from me beautifully.

So when I knew I was going to be a Mummy again, I knew I would make breastfeeding work. I read more and more and spoke to my other Mum friends who had successfully breastfed, and I asked a tonne of questions. I wanted to educate myself as much as possible about getting baby to latch, skin to skin contact, the duration and frequency of feeds - I wanted to be ready for everything. I also downloaded a fantastic book to my Kindle, which I read through the night in those really early days of feeding (when it feels like there is a baby permanently attached to your boobie!) This book, Baby Led Breastfeeding, really helped me understand what to expect in the beginning, so it comes highly recommended.

And whilst this book is truly awesome, what I think would have really helped me when I needed a quick answer or a quick point of reference, was a breakdown of all the things to expect, in a nutshell, over those first few days and weeks. And when unfortunately I didn't find anything like this, I started making my own notes and scribbles (left in various places all around the house), of what I was experiencing, with the idea in my frazzled, sleep-deprived brain, that I'd sit down and write a Breastfeeding 101 when I eventually found 2 mins! It's taken me 3 months...

Now I am really no expert, in fact I am very new to this game and just taking it as it comes with Jesse. But these are few things I picked up and want to pass on, which hopefully will be a benefit to other Mums who want to breastfeed. This isn't intended to be a "This is how your Breastfeed", it's just a "This is how Jen feeds Jesse" which, will hopefully be of benefit for Mums like me who really want breastfeeding to be successful.


Days 1-5

For me, I found that once I had got past those first five days, I felt like I was getting somewhere. I'd read a lot about the first 6 weeks being the toughest, but I felt after just five days (and nights!), that we were on our way to established feeding. It sounds like a very short period of time, just five days, but those five days are often very very long, with little sleep or rest. What helped make those days more manageable and allowed me to literally sit with my boob out for the duration, was my husband. He would take over with Brooke and allow me to focus everything on Jesse. This time I felt, was absolutely essential, as I needed to be available to Jesse to give him skin-to-skin and to offer him feeds regularly. If it's your first baby then you don't really have any extra demands so you can sit until your hearts content with your nipple under your baby's nose, but if it's a second, third, fourth baby, then you need a support system around you to allow you that one-on-one time. 

Skin-to-Skin

The best way to get feeding started, is to latch baby on in that first alert period they have shortly after they're born. Babies will naturally root and look for the breast given the opportunity, which is why skin to skin (which also has huge benefits aside from feeding: calms baby, regulates heartbeat and temperature), is really crucial. When a baby is placed on his mothers chest, the relevant feeding hormones are stimulated and the baby will instinctively look for the breast during his or her first period of alertness. Your midwife will ask you if you want skin-to-skin during your labour, and she will be on hand to help you take your nightie or top off when your baby is born, and place him or her onto your chest. 

What I have found with both of my kids, is that after about 30-40 minutes they started to root, and at this point, my midwife always helped me get them latched on. Take advantage of having the midwife there if you're unsure about the baby's latch and they'll help you relatch baby if necessary.

Sleepy Day

After Jesse initially fed in the hospital, he slept. He slept a lot. He was born on Wednesday night, and after two small feeds between 9.30pm and 12.30am, he slept all night long and didn't feed again until 8.30am the next day. After he fed that morning, he slept a lot more, and only fed once again that afternoon. Naturally I felt he wasn't feeding enough, when really he'd had plenty and was simply catching newborn zzzz's.

Is my baby getting enough?

With formula feeding, it's so easy to look at a bottle and say, "Right, at 2.00pm my baby ate 3oz", but obviously with breastfeeding you can't do this. This really shouldn't put anybody off at all. With breastfeeding, babies are totally in control of how much they take . They latch on and latch off when they've had enough, so it's impossible to overfeed a breastfed baby. I found with formula, it was easy to get stressed over an unfinished bottle, whereas with breastfeeding, I trust that Jesse has exactly the amount he wants (and I don't stress that he hasn't consumed the amount that's recommended on the formula tin). Baby's have such teeny tiny tummy's as well, and need very little in terms of quantity in those early days. This diagram really made it clear to me that Jesse was getting plenty from the small little and often feeds he was having.



Nappies

When you can't see the ounces measured on a bottle, you can see and feel the weight of a nappy. This is how I knew that Jesse was getting enough. The nappies went hand in hand with the feeds, so on the days he fed little (probably up to about day 3), the nappies would be wet but not overly so. Again, this was totally normal. By days 4 and 5 when my milk came in, the nappies became rapidly fuller. This also gave me the confidence to keep going, as it was becoming evident that things were definitely moving in the right direction.

Cluster Feeding

From Day 3 Jesse began to feed little and often, also known as Cluster Feeding. It's at this time that so many women think (because I know I did!), "I'm not satisfying my baby, he's feeding ALL the time." This again, is totally and completely 100% normal.  Breastfeeding works on a supply and demand basis, so those days of cluster feeding are essential so that your baby can put his or her order in for the amount of milk he or she needs. If you reach for the formula at this point to "top up" (as I did), your body isn't going to make enough milk for that feed when it comes around again. This can lead you into a pattern of topping up other feeds and your milk supply will dwindle. Have trust in yourself that your body will make the exact amount of milk your baby needs, and have trust in your baby that he will take as much milk as he needs at each feed (even if he did only feed 20 minutes ago...!)

Engorgement

By Day 5 my milk was in and I was resembling Dolly Parton. Engorgement can be very painful and your breast may feel hot and sore. Again - totes normal, but if you feel uncomfortable (Jesse at this point was still sleeping A LOT), use a warm flannel to soothe your breasts and gently hand express a little bit of milk off so that you're comfortable. Don't pump or hand express too much because your body at this point, is still in the "supply and demand" stage, so the more you express, the more your body will think you need. As much as you can offer your baby the breast, and even the smallest feed will help if you're feeling uncomfortable.

Frequency of Feeds

With Brooke, I believed I wasn't satisfying her appetite because she wanted to feed a lot. In my mind, and because I was hearing it so much from other Mums, I was under the impression that she should be going this magical "three hours" between feeds. I know now that this is unrealistic. And pretty much an impossibility for a breastfed baby. Midwives now advise that all babies should be fed on demand, and I would say this is definitely essential for a breastfed baby. Breast milk is much lower in fat than formula, so it digests a lot quicker, meaning your baby may be hungrier a lot sooner than three hours after his last feed. My advice would be to not have any expectations in those first few weeks and certainly don't be disheartened if it feels like your baby is feeding rather frequently. It's all really normal and doesn't mean you don't have enough milk, or that your baby is not full.

Duration of Feed

Even at the stage Jesse's at now, my Mum comments on how he doesn't feed for long - I imagine in her mind, like mine, she had visions of a baby being permanently attached to my nipple. The duration of feeds vary. Some times a quick top up before we head out will last no longer than a couple of minutes, but if he's settling down to go to sleep, he might latch on, feed and stay latched on having a little bit of a comfort suck for around 20 minutes. In those very early days (the first 2 weeks), I pretty much allowed myself to sit with him latched on for 24/7 if he wanted to, but I think as soon as he knew it was readily available on demand, he naturally spaced his feeds to suit his individual appetite.


Comfort Sucking

When Jesse first started cluster feeding, I found myself asking "is he feeding or comfort sucking?" Feeding seemed to be rather constant with not much let up. A few months in, I now know it was all cluster feeding, as comfort sucking can be a little painful, as the latch isn't as strong (because he's not actually feeding) and it feels like the skin is being chaffed - ouch! I tend to just pop my finger into the side of his mouth and unlatch him off if he's only sucking for comfort, he's normally sparko by this point and sleeping contently.



Let Down

Let down is the tingly, almost pins and needle type sensation you feel, when your milk starts to flow. When your baby latches on, he or she will suck quite rapidly, this stimulates oxytocin and this encourages the muscles in your breast to contract and "let down" the flow of milk. You will notice that those quick and rapid sucks, slow right down once your milk has let down, as your baby takes big gulps of milk, with small pauses to swallow. I have a seriously strong let down and in the early days it would make my eyes water. Even now it's still pretty strong, but to be honest I take that as a good sign that I have a good supply of milk.

Latching

There's a lot of information around latching. When I was reading about how to latch my baby on, I did find it really confusing. Consistently I read that babies should, "open their mouths wide" to latch on, but Jesse has never really done this. I also think that establishing a good latch takes time as I don't think it's something you're going to achieve perfectly, the first time. It took me a good two weeks for the latch to not be sore or tender. Like anything, practice makes perfect and Jesse found a way to latch that works for him. He barely opens his mouth to latch and just sucks the nipple straight to the back of his mouth as soon as he sees it.

There are a few things to look out for though that will give you a good indication that baby is latched and getting his grub. I could see little bits of milk at the corner of Jesse's mouth when he fed, I could see the pink on the inside of his mouth and his lips curled to achieve the best latch, and I could hear as he took those slight pauses to swallow.

Jesse also had a real preference for the left boob, and as it's I'm right handed, it felt easier to feed him on the left side and have my right hand free. Despite this, I alternated breasts at every feed (and still do), so that I could achieve a good latch on both sides. At three months old he still prefers the left side and will often prefer to snuggle into this nook for a sleepy feed, but he equally takes a full feed from the right side when he's drained me from the left!

Cracked Nipples and Nipple Pain

Unfortunately, the "if your baby is latched they'll be no pain", is a little bit misleading. I can say now that at 3 months, it doesn't hurt in the slightest to feed (it didn't even really hurt much after the first week or so), and my nipples are still in really good condition (ahem...!), but realistically you will have some discomfort in the early days. It won't last, it really won't. As you and baby keep working together, he or she will find what works for them and the latch will improve, but don't be disheartened by a bit of tenderness, or a slight graze - keep feeding. Use a good nipple cream to protect them, Lansinoh is unquestionably the best, and as another Mum advised me when I had a really painful graze, breastmilk will keep it clean and help it to heal. Don't avoid feeding from a grazed nipple as this will dry it out and make it harder to heal. 

Milk Blisters
I had never heard of milk blisters and got quite panicky when a little blister type bubble appeared on Jesse's upper lip. A quick search on Google reassured me that they're also really normal and heal very quickly.

I really hope that this blog can offer a bit of help to Mums like me, who so desperately wanted to breastfeed my baby, but felt a bit overwhelmed and confused by the information that's out there. If anyone wants to ask any questions, please do. I am by no means any expert but I can share my experience and lend a listening ear.

Just as a side note, if any kid can sell breastfeeding, it's my kid! He's nearly 14 weeks old, exclusive fed and he is the biggest baby EVER. He's filling 3-6 months clothes and totally dispels the myth that breastfed babies don't sleep well; he sleeps for hours, 2-3 hour daytime naps and 5-6 hour spells in the night. He really is a fantastic feeder AND sleeper.


I wish you all the love and support on your feeding journey xxx



Friday, 8 November 2013

Today is Shit

Yesterday I committed the ultimate parenting faux pas.

I allowed the following words to tumble out of my mouth:

"I'm finding it really easy."

Like, who actually says at four weeks in to having a newborn AND a 2-year old that they're finding it easy, let alone really easy. Come on Jen, rookie error.

So this morning, mummy karma made it's way to Regent Street, and decided to drop a steaming pile of shite on me.

It all started when I was weighing up the pros and cons of going to Playgroup. In the back of my mind I knew today would be a challenge, but I told myself to man up and crack on anyway. I managed to get us all dressed and fed with little fuss, so then began the military operation of actually getting us out of the house:

- Brooke's coat and hat on
- Jesse fed and asleep
- Bag packed with nappies, wipes, spare trousers and undies for Brooke, snack & drink for Brooke, purse (with money in!), phone, keys, mussie, spare Sleepsuit for Jesse 
- Buggy ready to go with rain cover
- Carrycot ready for Jesse to go in with hat and blanket
- My own coat, scarf, other general mummy crap slung in bag "just incase" etc

It's a bloody ball ache remembering it all, but thus far I've managed to get us out of the house pretty smoothly, so it was really only a matter of time before it beat me. 

Brooke was ready to go and telling me so ("Mummy, GO!"), so I brought Jesse down to put him in the carrycot. He promptly woke for a feed which I quickly sat down to do. Literally as soon as he latched on and got comfy, Brooke started tugging at her jeggings, shouting "Poo Mummy!" She already had her coat, hat and shoes on, so whilst simultaneously keeping Jesse latched on, I helped Brooke get her pants down, and manoeuvred her onto the potty. She did her business and managed to get herself off the potty without sending the nice pile of excrement onto the floor. About two seconds later she decided she needs to do "more poo Mummy!" So once again, trying to keep the boob-monster supping away, I tried to lower Brooke, knickers and trousers around her ankles, onto the pot. At this point, my small guy unlatches, sending a big shooting fountain of milk all over his face and across the room. His mussie was packed in my bag, so he got dabbed with a cold wet-wipe, which spiralled him into meltdown as not only was he no longer nestled into my warm boob, but he was now cold and wet and still hungry. He scrambled back on to eat and Brooke - now done with her poop - hobbled over to me so I could clean her up. I was literally arse-wiping and feeding simultaneously. Not my finest hour.

I finally got little man fed and into the carrycot and half an hour after trying to leave, we all made it out of the door.

Playgroup was rammed, and Jesse was still unsettled and wanted to feed again, so while Brooke ran around with her buddies, I managed to get him settled and off to sleep. It wasn't until the last 5 minutes of the session that I felt imminent chaos descend on me. 

Brooke finds it impossible to sit down nicely and quietly like the other children, and insists on legging it back and forth around the room, while the other kids eat their snack and sing songs. I HATE her running and am constantly shouting, "STOP running!" She doesn't take a blind bit of notice of me and today, as a result, ran smack bang into another younger child. I was morto. I picked the little girl up and said sorry to her Mum. I asked Brooke to say sorry too, but would she? Would she bollocks. The little git refused, leaving me stood there like a tit saying over and over, "Say sorry." And she still didn't. Luckily the mum was fine about it but Brooke was not doing out Playgroup cred any favours. 

Then it was time to go and typically she kicked off because she didn't want to go home, and she didn't want her little friend to go either. At this point I also noticed it had started to rain, and in the shit-fest that was trying to get out of the house, had I shoved the rain cover under the buggy? Three guesses. 

Brooke, bang on cue, decided to throw the biggest and most spectacular toddler tantrum she has ever had, right outside the Playgroup. She point blank refused to get into the buggy. No amount of bribery (juice, chocolate, more chocolate), would get her in. She kicked, screamed, did that "I'm going to make all of my limbs nice and loose and wriggly just to piss you off" thing, that toddlers have down to a fine art. I could not reason with her for shit. She got to the stage where she wasn't even crying. She was hysterical to the point of high pitched screams and gasps of air. I'm surprised the girls running the group didn't come out to see why I was seemingly murdering my child.

All the while the rain is hammering down, and I wanted to sob. After several minutes, she calmed down and we had the lovely journey home to do. I got absolutely bastard soaked, whilst Brooke whined the whole way home. 

This sums up my morning:


Soaked and pissed off.

Friday, we are no longer friends. 




Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Welcome to the World - Jesse Lucas


He's here! 

My very laid back, super chilled out, perfect baby boy.


I'm currently sat in bed with him, while he guzzles at my boob, and I'm still a little bit in disbelief that he's actually here, let alone that he's TWO WEEKS OLD already.

As anyone keeping up my pregnancy knows, those last few days were particularly hard, and as the time dragged on it seemed like our baby would keep us waiting forever.

But the little monkey just wanted to wait it out until HE was ready, and on the morning I was due to be induced, he decided he'd start his descent towards the light, all by himself. 

I woke up at about 6.00am on Wednesday 9th October 2013. Something had woken me, but I wasn't sure what it was. I'd been having braxton hicks contractions on and off for weeks, but these felt a bit sharper. When I sat up to tell Al that I thought something might be happening, I felt a small pop and my waters began to leak. We were go go go! 

My Mum had stayed over the night before, as I was due to arrive at the hospital to be induced at 8am, and we didn't want the mad rush on the actual morning getting her here and settling Brooke. So it was ideal that I could nip in to Brooke's room where she was staying and say, "Mum, I think my waters have broke!" 

It was such a relief for things to start naturally, because I'd been feeling really nervous about being induced. More than nervous, I'd really got myself worked up about it. I had visions of it not working and being put on a drip and I worried that baby not respond well. I really wound myself up thinking the worst. But it seemed my little lazy Libra just wanted to keep me waiting until the eleventh hour and cause me all that worry for nothing!


After my waters broke, I called the hospital to ask if we should come in now, or at 8am when I was due for induction. They said to come in straight away, so we chucked the last few bits in the hozzy bag and headed off. At this point, I wasn't really feeling any pain at all. I was a bit anxious as I had anticipated searing pain after my waters went, as this is what happened with Brooke. But this labour was obviously going to be different and we arrived at the hospital feeling pretty calm and full of anticipation. 

It was decided at about 9.00am that I wouldn't need to be induced (hurrah!!!), as my body was starting to labour itself without any need for intervention. My contractions could be seen on the monitor and I was told that I'd be left to get it going myself as it were, and they would keep an eye on us.They explained that if my labour hadn't got in full swing by the morning, then I'd be put on a drip the next day. I'd told them that my labour with Brooke was really fast, so we were all hopeful this one Ć·would be the same. 


Once I knew I wasn't going to be induced, I set about getting my boy out. We went off for a walk around the hospital to get coffee, papers and trashy magazines, and while Al kicked back I paced the corridors and induction bay like a woman possesed for several hours. Brooke's labour had been stop start for 2 days, and there was no way I was letting that happen again. I kept myself upright, pacing around and bouncing on the birthing ball. It definitely worked, and when I was eventually examined about 2.30pm, I was 3cm - officially in labour! The crafty Midwife examining me decided to give me a nice brutal sweep (the one I had so longed for in the previous 12 days!), and that certainly knocked the contractions up a gear.

At this point I was still in the induction ward and very conscious of the fact I was the only woman actually in labour. I was starting to really feel the contractions, but I was also very aware of another woman's husband reading The Sun newspaper behind a curtain next to my bed. I really wanted to be moved to Delivery and get myself "settled". I'd also been reluctant to start on the gas and air, as I knew there was much worse to come, however after another hour, I was starting to really feel them getting nippy, and decided the gas and air would be really rather nice. 

I was examined again about 5pm and I was now 5cm; I was on the move to Delivery, hurrah!

Just as when I'd had Brooke, typically the Midwifery Led Unit was closed, so I was taken to a room absolutely identical to the room I'd delivered Brooke in. Initially this made me relax, and I think that pushed the contractions up another level, but as the contractions got closer together and inevitably stronger, I was starting to feel a bit panicked. Even though I'd only been in established labour for a couple of hours, I'd been having contractions since 7am and I was exhausted too. The Midwife, a young woman called Anna, who we weren't particularly keen on as it goes, explained that as I'd been examined at 5.20pm, I wouldn't be examined again until 9.20pm; the only proviso being if I felt the urge to push. This seemed completely ridiculous to me and also a bit disheartening. Surely if I wanted to know how well things were progressing, then I had a right to know. Surely this is what keeps women going? The thought of four more hours not knowing how it was all going, seemed very tough on my already fried brain.

At about 7-7.30pm (it was all getting a bit blurry by this point), I really started to find things hard. The gas and air was more of a distraction then giving me any kind of actual pain relief, and I started to make noises about an epidural. In between intensely painful contractions (you really do forget just how painful it is!), Al and I sat and weighed up the pros and cons of having the epidural. It was so difficult making a decision when I didn't know if my labour had progressed in the last two hours. The stupid cow Midwife even said, "Why do you want to know? Would it make a difference?" Erm, YES! Because if I'm 8-9cm I won't bother! I wanted to scream! At this point, I was also starting to feel pressure to push (I may have exaggerated this claim ever so slightly to get her to check me...) and luckily she DID have a rummage and I was progressing well and now at 7cm.

I was really knackered by now, and seemingly had no idea how long it would take me to reach the holy grail that is Fully Dilated. Al and I had been talking about the epidural for a good 40 minutes and I'd finally decided it was the way to go. They brought in the anesthetist at about 8.10pm, who literally scared the bejesus out of us with his risk factors and his, "You MUST stay still for 5-7 minutes while we stick this big needle in your spine!" Well, there was no way on God's green earth that I was staying still for one minute, let alone seven. And I really wasn't up for risking paralysis, so that idea went completely out of the window.

In between all this, Anna had been monitoring baby and his heart rate, and commented that he was quite sleepy. She nipped off quickly then came back and said she was going to break the rest of my waters. This further panicked me, as I knew how fast Brooke came after my waters went with her. And it turns out I had reason to be panicked. As soon as my waters were broken, I went straight to fully dilated. At the same time, Jesse's heart rate dropped to below 40 beats per minute. I was laid flat on the bed (screaming like a banshee) and rolled on to my left side. The pain was indescribable. In between hearing my own screams and cries, I could hear Anna saying "Stop screaming Jen, I need to listen to the baby and I can't hear him over you!" Al was saying something very similar when I also heard Anna say, "Jen, I'm going to push this red button and a lot of people will come in, but don't panic."


It's weird because despite the shift from simple straight forward labour to "quick hit the button!", I didn't feel scared at all. I knew the baby was fine and I knew he would be fine when he was born, he just obviously needed to be born NOW. Well, would you believe it, the good old NHS, you can't beat 'em eh? Anna's red panic button didn't work so actually, nobody came. And purely by chance, another Midwife popped her head in, (probably to see who it was in Delivery mimicking the Exorcist...) and between the two of them, they fixed their faulty red button, and I suddenly heard lots of voices fill the room. I was still on my left side at this point, clutching Al's hands. I think I was pushing, although I think at this point my body just took over and knew what it needed to do to get my boy out. I pushed and pushed with every single ounce of strength left in me, and in one big gush, only a few seconds later, out came my little guy. It turns out he had his cord wrapped around him like a backpack and he was having difficulty getting out. He came out blue (I couldn't see), but he made a noise straightaway and soon perked up within seconds. There was no time for Al to cut the cord, and there was a shout from someone of "It's a boy!" And it was all over. I'd done it!


Twenty minutes earlier I'd been talking about an epidural, and now my boy was born and in my arms. He was FINALLY here! 

After nearly 42 weeks of pregnancy, he was in the world and he was just so perfect. Unquestionably he is worth every morning I spent throwing up in my kitchen sink, every stinking headache I had, every achy, hobbly day where I was crippled with SPD, every night I worried "Will it be tonight that I go into labour?" and even those extra twelve days when I felt he'd never arrived. He is worth every single one of those moments and I'd take them all again to have him.

When I finally looked up to see my boy and to look at Al, he was white (Al, not Jesse). He had had a very big fright in those last few minutes, watching Jesse's heart drop and watching poor old Anna flap about with the crappy panic button. In hindsight, it's surprised me how Jesse's birth and those stressful and scary circumstances, haven't upset me as much as I thought they would. But it's because I KNEW he would be fine. It must be a Mothers instinct thing, as I genuinely didn't feel frightened even for a second. Even now, I look at him and just know he is meant to be.


I worried incredibly about what it would be like when Jesse was born. How I would love two babies, what it would feel like, how would things change. I had every single anxiety going. But in the second he was born, they all melted away. He is the most beautiful baby. He has such an innocent temperament and seems calmer and more chilled in a way that Brooke wasn't. Brooke was always a fab baby too, but she always let you know she was there. Jesse seems to be more relaxed and laid back. Maybe it's a boy thing, or a second baby thing or maybe it's because second time around, it all feels easier. Al and I have a confidence that we can do it, and I think the fact I feel so relaxed means I'm enjoying these early days so much more, (the first 2-3 weeks with Brooke were very tough). I'm also breastfeeding Jesse, which is something I really wanted to succeed with this time and it's going so well, (the little Boobie Monster had gained 13oz at his last weigh-in), I think all of that together has made for a really happy baby, and in turn a really happy and relaxed Mama.


Brooke is a fantastic big sister. Initially she was a bit unsure of what was going on, and we had a few difficult days, (I think the fact she's two going on twenty-two doesn't help), but as Al's paternity leave comes to an end (he's back to work tomorrow), I think we're all settling in really well to life as a foursome.

Life is so good and I'm feeling a real sense of contentment that is just lovely after a lot of, seemingly unnecessary, worry.

I am one very lucky Mama to two very beautiful children and I feel so blessed.


Big love xxx

Saturday, 5 October 2013

I'm still here... But it's A-OK!

41+1, 8 whole days overdue. Who'd a thunk it?

Well, certainly not me. But (and I do actually mean this), as time goes by, I am making my peace with it. 

I know I've complained and moaned, (and yesterday after my sweep I did actually cry - not because it hurt or anything, but because my body is just not ready yet... AND I was also waiting outside in the rain, I was feeling very hard done by at this point), but there are a lot of positives to this situation that I have been overlooking. 

I mean, we're getting loads of precious extra days as a family of three, the house is very clean and tidy, I can still eat like a pig and get away with it, and, there is now a very very close end in sight. 

Yes, my labour may not start by itself, yes I may have to spend a couple of nights in hospital away from Brooke being induced, and Al may have to spend more time with my Mother than he can stomach arranging child care, but you know what? None of it matters. It really doesn't. This is obviously meant to be for us. This is just how it's gonna be. And with only 4 more sleeps to go until this show is definitely on the road, I don't feel half as anxious or grumpy as I have done over the last few weeks. I have got to the point now where I'm realising that whatever happens in the coming days, this time next week I will have the most beautiful and precious baby, (God willing the baby arrives here safe, sound, happy and healthy). And I know that every niggle, pain, twinge, uncomfortable day and restless night I've had over the last 41 weeks, will simply be a distant memory. 

So I'm going to stop my whinging and complaining, I'm going to enjoy these last days with my girl, enjoy my evenings with Al, watch as much Greys Anatomy as I can cram in, eat ridiculously sized portions of everything, and count my blessings that I am lucky enough to be pregnant, and lucky enough to know that my baby will be here in a matter of days. 

So the next time I'll be back really will be when I've had this bambini, and I will unashamedly be showing off copious amounts of womb-glowing-ovary-twitching pictures of our new baby.  Get ready to coo! 

Love, love, love xxx

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Am I even pregnant?

It sounds daft, but yesterday I actually said to Al in the kitchen, "am I even pregnant?"

It was official - I was in the depths of despair. 

"Yes, you are pregnant. No ones stomach moves around as much as that when there's nothing inside." He was very matter of fact about it. 

I'm still here today. In the depths. The weather is pretty adequate in the depths of despair too - it is depressingly dark and wet here today, so I very much plan on staying in my dressing gown, the whole day.

So today is 40+5. 

At my 40+3 midwife appointment on Monday, I begged and pleaded for a sweep, but apparently in these parts, you can't have a sweep until 41w if it isn't your first baby. I promised I wouldn't tell anyone if she just gave me a small brutal sweep, but she was rather insistent she'd get in to trouble. 

A lot of people have said to me that this 41w lark is a load of baloney, and that it is quite likely she's actually just fobbing me off, but I feel a little bit helpless as to what I can do to physically force her to do it. I mean, I'm packing an extra 40+ pounds and waddling like I'm an elderly woman; I'm not rocking my best "do as I say" look. And to be fair, she has promised to do one on Friday, which I know is now only two days away, but the perpetual wait is torturous. 

My body is still playing lots of tricks on me. I had more or less, constant period pain all day yesterday, and the baby thrashed around so much last night, I'm surprised he/she didn't break their own waters. But nothing ever really gets going.

With Brooke, my contractions started on her due date (and lucky for me went on for two days...!), but the day before her due date, I'd had the Holy Grail sweep, and I'm certain that definitely got things going. I wonder in hindsight if I hadn't been swept with Brooke, if she would have come at 40+2 as she did, or if she'd have kept me hanging too.

Too much time to think and wait is making me wonder if my body can actually do this on it's own, without the need for intervention. I guess we'll have to see, as I've got 2 more days to wait until Sweep Day. Glorious Sweep Day please hurry up! 



Monday, 30 September 2013

Overdue and over it...!

So. Here I am. 

Overdue.

40+3.

Miserable. Anxious. Uncomfortable.



I know it could be worse, some poor women have to go all the way to 42 weeks, (I have a new found respect for women who have gone overdue - it is sheer torture), but at this point, I'm not sure I can make it through the next two hours!

I feel like I have been ready for weeks. Since my Midwife, in her wisdom, decided to tell me, "you probably won't come back" after my 37+3 appointment, it was in my head that this baby was coming early. I ran around getting everything ready; cleaning and washing and nesting like a good 'un; I even convinced myself it was actually happening a few times! I told my Mum she couldn't go to London for the night at 38+2 "just in case", and poor Al's 30th birthday came and went with minimum celebrations at 38+5. Everything was on hold "just in case." 

I mean second babies are meant to come early aren't they?! That's what I was led to believe. That's what everyone said! But seemingly, people have been telling porkies, and I'm sat here at 3 days over feeling, well I don't know how I feel anymore. 

Impatient, anxious, ready, but still not ready, sick, tired, uncomfortable. None of those things sound really positive do they? And I think it comes down to fear. I am, especially as the time goes on, absolutely shitting it. 

At night my mind kicks into overdrive, and I am literally filled with a sense of panic and feeling overwhelmed. I have been waiting and waiting and nothing is happening, and as I wait more and more, I get even more worked up. I'm starting to question my sanity, as well as my ability to actually give birth when the time comes. Plus the fact I'm so bloody tired and uncomfortable, how am I going to find the strength to push out this ever growing Bubs?!

If it actually just started (the horrendous, searing labour pains...!) I could get on with it and just, well do it. But with every niggle or twinge that turns into absolutely bollocks all, I am back to feeling that, "fuuuuuuck when is this going to happen?!?" state of mind, that is literally driving me insane. It's mental torture, as well as my body now physically being exhausted.

Sorry, I sound like a big fat whiny cow bag. Woe is me, I'm getting a shiny newborn in a few days... I know I sound silly, and this situation does have an amazing and life changing outcome, but I really really really want that to all happen NOW! 

So I've got the Midwife again this morning, where it is my intention to cry and beg for some kind of sweep, though I'm not convinced she'll indulge me. Cow. I mean it really is the least she owes me after her big fat "you won't be back" statement! 

More as and when... Xx

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Nesting, Potty Training and The Final Countdown...

It's the final countdown! DUH NA NA NA! DUH NA NA NA NA!

12 days people, 12 days until my due date! I feel like I've literally blinked and I'm imminently having my second baby. How did this happen?


So, the nesting has got a little bit of out of hand. Al said to me yesterday, "You're nesting so much more than you did with Brooke." I was like, really? But thinking about it, I have been a bit of a crazy looney, and literally cleaning everything. Last Friday night I got the bleach out to clean the mugs, and the next thing I knew I was bleaching the kitchen cupboard fronts, my skirting boards and the kitchen light switch. As you do.

Yesterday I didn't stop either. We were up at 6.30am (thank you Brooke), and found ourselves at ASDA at 8.00am to do our food shop. Then literally for the rest of the day, I scrubbed the kitchen floor, put on four loads of laundry (including our sofa covers), changed beds, done a lot of hoovering, scrubbed the carpet, cleaned the kitchen floor, and rearranged the kitchen cupboards and drawers. Needless to say I slept like a log last night!

In other news, I must tell you about my clever small girl who is seemingly POTTY TRAINED! This is not me being smug at all, I promise. In fact, I had zero intention or inclination to start potty training at 36 weeks pregnant, but it honestly, just happened.


We've had a potty in our house since I knew I was expecting again. It had largely gone ignored, or was used for Brooke to sit on and pretend she was driving...! Countless times I explained to her that it was for pee and poop, but she didn't give a monkeys, and any nappy free time normally ended with her peeing or pooping on my rug or in her tent...!

A few weeks ago though, I noticed that she was able to tell me when she needed to go, and a friend mentioned that this is usually when they start to become ready. I'd also heard all these things about missing "the window" with potty training, and if you don't catch them when they're ready, you can end up making things harder for yourself in the longer run. I knew (and still do know) very little about potty training. I took all the advice from my friends, who gave me great encouragement and fab tips that have really helped us.


I also feel that I should mention, that whilst I do recognise that she is only two years and a month, (which some might say is too young for potty training), I have honestly not pushed her in anyway to use the potty or the toilet. We have only given her the tools to do it and encouraged and praised her accordingly. I genuinely had zero expectation of her (in the nicest possible way!), so every pee on the pot and every time she woke up dry from a nap, was a fantastic surprise.

So - this is how it happened. I guess it does sound a bit daft to say she just started using the potty, but that was exactly what happened. One morning (not last Tuesday, but the one before), she said "Wee - potty!" I said, "Do you want to use the potty?" She said "YES!" and that was it.


I thought, will I give this a go? Keep her nappy free, see if she tells me if she needs a wee and see what happens? And that's what I did. My friends had said to have a good few days at home, where I could keep her nappy-free and so she could really get used to the transition. So we stayed in all day Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. On Wednesday she cracked the poops and by Thursday she was waking up dry from her nap. She even stopped telling me she needed to pee, and just jumped on the potty and did it! By Friday we were climbing the walls a bit after our three day sit-in. I was a bit anxious about going out as Brooke hadn't really used the "big girl" toilet, and I was unsure of how to make this further transition. At this point, I invested in this really handy step-up-come-toilet-seat contraption, that is brightly coloured and makes going to the loo very exciting if you're two. It was an instant hit, maybe too much so, as all day long she shouted "TOILET!" and the two of us would run up there, just for me to, more often than not, watch her sit there grinning at me and shouting, "YEAH - DID IT!" even if she hadn't...!

So that Friday afternoon, we ventured literally over the road to Argos to pick up aforementioned kiddy-toilet-contraption, complete with our big girl pants and all, and managed just under an hour out and about - she'd cracked it! I've been taking the potty out with me, along with anti-bac spray and wipes and liners, just in case she does need to go, but won't use a "big" toilet (and who can blame her, who wants to use the minging public toilets in town?) and so far, she's been fab. Zero accidents (huzzah!), even though my other potty training essentials are ten spare pairs of leggins and ten spare pairs of Hello Kitty and Peppa Pig pants...!



I really am so proud of her. She's been a little star and made it so easy on all of us, especially her Mama, who as I say, could have thought of nothing worse than potty training at eight months preggo. But I really do think she's cracked it and it has been effortless, for all of us. And! I will only have one bambini in nappies - happy days!

So now it really is just a waiting game, until our little family expands and we become a foursome. I have days of feeling calm and ready, and then I have moments of blind panic and "HOLY SHIT!" I feel anxious about how the labour will start. Will my contractions start first or will my waters go? Will it be at night or in the middle of the day? Will I be home? Will I be in Aldi or at Playgroup? Will it get painful really quickly or will I be able to get sorted at home for an hour, then go in? I have all these scenarios going around in my head, and absolutely no way to determine how things will go. And because of this, I've just had to have a word with myself and tell myself to be calm and rational. This baby has to come out, so there's no point fretting and worrying about the how's and when's. It will be fine no matter what. So I'm trying to be positive and calm and trying to envisage the best case scenario for all of us. It will be fine. It will. (ARGHHHHH!)

And I imagine the next time I'm on here will be to announce the arrival of my little one. I'm so intrigued now to see what this next part of our little journey is going to be like. We've gone from two to three and loved every single moment, and now we're going from three to four, which I can only imagine is just as crazy, but every bit as incredible as the first time around. Watch this space.

Lots of love xxx