The First Month with a Newborn

1 month old baby

The fact this blog is 2 weeks late and Pippa is now 6 weeks old just explains 1) How quick time is going and 2) How little time I now have on my hands! Much of the first month has been a bit of a hazy, tired blur filled with many tears but I wouldn’t change it for the world and I’m now glad I’m finally coming out the other side.

Everyone tells you it will be hard and ‘nothing can prepare you’ and you think yeah yeah I know. Well, they’re right. Absolutely nothing can prepare you, it’s a tiredness you’ve never experienced and such a huge change to your life.

After an overnight labour and not sleeping a wink the following night on a ward of crying babies, by the time we got home I was already hugely sleep deprived. Pippa was then cluster feeding all night and day the following few nights; I remember one night not hitting the pillow until 6.30am. Luckily my body recovered extremely quickly. I barely had any bleeding or pain considering I had stitches and I was back to my pre-pregnancy weight within two weeks, so at least I didn’t have any of that to content with on top of everything else!

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I found that Pippa would only sleep when she was on my chest or in my arms but I was so terrified to fall asleep with her there in case something awful happened. However in my sleep deprived state it didn’t stop me waking up every time thinking she was still in my arms and I’d smothered her. Possibly the worst feeling to wake up to numerous times during the night! I still occasionally wake up wondering where she is but I’m much less panicked now and after inevitably falling asleep with her on my chest a few times now I know I wouldn’t smother her and I’m very conscious that she’s there.

Another large part of the first month were the visitors. I made the mistake early on of thinking ‘kill as many birds with one stone’ and invite everyone at once. That was definitely the wrong decision after 6 members of my family came in one go, resulting in me in floods of tears as they left. It was overwhelming enough without the addition of Pippa being passed around hundreds of people. On a couple of occasions we had to cancel visitors as I simply couldn’t handle it after a day of tears and sleep deprivation.

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What I was faced with majority of the first month!
The emotions (and the tears that come with them) are also something else! We were told about the baby blues so I was expecting them to kick in about day 3 and to be a bit emotional for a couple of days. But what I experienced was certainly not what I expected. I had overwhelming feelings of anxiety for at least 10 days that would fill me with fear about going out and even thinking about going out would leave me in tears. Our first trip out to Tesco’s on day 5 ended in tears before we’d even got through the entrance!

I felt extremely low, the lowest I’ve ever felt and found myself googling the symptoms of postnatal depression after one of my worst nights. This particular night I was hysterical all night and genuinely believed social services needed to be called to take Pippa away as I was obviously incapable of looking after her. The health visitor luckily picked up on this after I couldn’t stop crying in front of her, so she paid me a couple of extra visits in those first couple of weeks and her reassurance definitely helped.

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I thought I would never feel normal again but after 2 weeks and deciding to no longer breastfeed, a weight was lifted and it seemed my hormones had begun to settle. Luckily this happened just before Harry went back to work and we were able to get out with friends which showed me that normal life can continue and that nothing would happen to Pippa if we left the house!

I still had lots of wobbles, particularly in the first week without Harry but my mum has been amazing. Living just 5 minutes away she regularly pops in just to take Pippa off my hands for half an hour to let me express or she will help with cleaning and has provided a few dinners too! These little things become the most appreciated when you don’t have 5 minutes to yourself anymore!

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I’ve now nearly mastered the art of doing everything one handed, baby in the other, and showering in less than 5 minutes. Pippa and I have started to settle into a routine and we have a very active social life which makes the days fly by and Harry is home before I know it.

Hopefully things will continue to get easier, that’s what everyone tells you. However I should know by now that what people tell you and reality are somewhat different!

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The Battle to Breastfeed

breastfeeding-trouble

I have always thought I would breastfeed, probably even before I was pregnant, so when I did become pregnant there was no doubt in my mind that this is what I would be doing. I follow lots of mummy bloggers on all the various social media channels and most champion breastfeeding and make it look very easy. I knew that it can be hard and painful in the first few days however I don’t think anyone actually ever does tell you the extent of how hard it can be and the pain you can go through. I know there are people out there who can breastfeed with no problems but for those who can’t (as I discovered in becoming one of them) it comes as a shock and with lots of feelings of guilt and failure.

The night Pippa was born the midwives came round and told me it was time to feed my baby. They assisted in positioning and getting her to latch on, which she did with relative ease and then they left me to it. It was painful and felt rather strange but I was happy that she was sucking away, getting the all-important colostrum, or so I thought. Then as she came off I noticed that actually, she hadn’t been latched on at all and was simply sucking on breast tissue, leaving me with a delightful love bite next to my nipple!

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Pippa preferring her hand to my breast…!
Over the next few hours and days I persisted with the constant on-demand feeding and although it was so painful I was safe in the knowledge that it would only last a few days and that when my milk came in it would get easier. By the time my milk came in which was about a week later, I was in agony. This was also when my baby blues were at their worst which I think was made a whole lot worse by the problems I was having breastfeeding. The constant feeding had left my poor nipples in a state and they were filled with cracks. My right nipple looked like it was about to fall off the crack was so deep and was now looking yellow and pussy whereas the left was bleeding.

It was discovered after a week that Pippa was tongue-tied which can result in a poor latch which can then subsequently result in very sore nipples and trouble feeding. Various midwives and health visitors came and assessed her latch but all agreed she was sucking fine, her latch was very good and my milk supply was in abundance. Where the problem lay was her actual feeding. She was very fussy, taking ages to latch and stay on the breast and would then pull off and cry and throw herself around, arching her back mid-feed then we would battle with each other, me trying to get her back on (fighting through the pain each time) and her pulling off. Most of the time, both of us were in tears, me from the sheer pain and frustration, making me physically heave sometimes and Pippa from I didn’t know what at the time.

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I miss this snuggling and bonding…
I would cry all day and night and dread the next feed, making me feel anxious all the time and scared to go out in case Pippa needed feeding. There was no way I could feed in public, the whole process was nothing like they show on the tv or in pictures! I would pretty much have to get topless and the both of us would be soaked in milk and tears! At one post-natal clinic, a woman with a baby not much older than Pippa just lifted her top, popped the baby on and ten minutes later he was off. Not a sound from either of them. This then resulted in me crying in the waiting room!

The nights were the worst, (the tiredness didn’t help), and I would regularly have a break down saying that I couldn’t do it anymore and on a couple of occasions Harry had to step in and say enough is enough and decided to give her a pre-mixed formula that we had bought for emergencies (these were a lifesaver!). But once morning came I would be feeling guilty and going through the whole breastfeeding battle again. Amongst all this I also developed mastitis in my left breast which added to the trauma!

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At exactly two weeks after her birth, after a horrendous night of tears on both myself and Pippa’s part, I made the final decision to stop breastfeeding. I felt so so guilty and upset about it (I still do now 2 weeks later…having a few tears just writing about it) but I decided I would express and mix with some formula feeds to ensure she was still getting some breast milk. The first time I expressed was just a bottle of bloody milk which I couldn’t face giving to Pippa, although she had been drinking it directly from my breast the day before! But once my breasts started to heal, expressing was much less painful and I was producing heaps of milk which also helped.

As much as I felt guilty, almost immediately I felt a massive weight had been lifted and the pressure was off. That same day we ventured out for the first time to get Pippa registered and I didn’t feel the anxiety I had been feeling before and even managed to feed her (with a bottle) in public. Something I never thought I would be able to do.

The next day we went and saw a tongue-tie specialist (slightly too late) and she taught me a much better way to get Pippa to latch, something I could have done with in the beginning. However as I was now no longer breastfeeding and Pippa’s latch and suck was good it was decided to leave her tongue as it is.

We have since discovered Pippa has silent reflux so feeding is still a massive challenge with her crying, pulling away and arching her back in pain – just as she did on my breast. However this time it’s just that bit easier as I’m not spraying milk across us both every time she falls off. I have tried four times since to get her to breastfeed again as I would love to go back to it as I still feel guilty about it daily and miss that bonding. However it is still a battle, mostly due to her reflux so until we get it under control I don’t think I will try again and I’m amazed that some women continue to breastfeed with a baby with reflux!

So I just wanted to write my breastfeeding story as it’s not very often you hear or read this side and I have another mummy friend who experienced the same issues as me so it can’t be that uncommon! The guilt is just horrible, even though I am continuing to feed her breastmilk I would love to exclusively breastfeed but it seems it’s not for everyone.

38 Weeks – Welcome to the World Baby G!

 38 weeks pregnant baby 
At 38+4 weeks on the 19th August we welcomed our beautiful baby girl, Pippa Rae Gillan into the world and here she is!

  

My birth journey started at 8am on the 18th when we arrived at the hospital for my induction. I was surprisingly calm and I think more excited than nervous and just ready for whatever would be thrown at me. I was also greeted by an old school friend who was a senior midwife and she came for a long chat with me to put me at ease! 

As my platelets had come back low again from the blood tests the previous week, I had to have some more and wait for the results before they could proceed. If they continued to be below 100 (I think they were around the 80 mark) there were questions over what they could and couldn’t do regarding cesarean and epidural. By 3pm the results were back and although they weren’t above 100 the consultant had decided it was safe to go ahead and the propess pessary was inserted. 

I started to feel quite crampy quite soon after and as we took a walk around the hospital grounds I could feel pain in my back too. I was in my own private room as they wanted to keep a close eye on baby so I was on the monitor a lot of the time. It showed I was having regular tightenings but they weren’t painful at this point. By 11pm Harry headed home to get some rest and I attempted to get some too. I still felt quite crampy so couldn’t really sleep and was constantly being monitored and then the cramps started coming in waves and getting more and more painful. At this point (3am) I called Harry to come back in thinking things were on the move…ha! One midwife asked me to rate my pain from 1-10 and i was sure it was at 8…needless to say she didn’t say anything in response!

Once Harry arrived I put on the TENS machine and my hypnobirthing music and was managing to breathe through the contractions. At 5am I had a show and lost my mucus plug along with the pessary which was all pretty vile! I was then assessed and found to be 2cm dilated so could be wheeled through to the delivery room!

Once there, one of the midwives ran me a bath whilst coaching me to breathe through the contractions. This was great and really relaxed me. It was then decided at about 7am that they would break my waters so I moved onto the gas and air – amazing! I pretty much laughed my way through the whole procedure! H was even able to see the baby’s head at this point which I thought was amazing, I’m not sure he agreed!

This seemed to move things along pretty quickly and before long the contractions were getting very intense and I wouldn’t move far from the gas and air! It was at this point I realised that my number 8 on the pain scale earlier was actually about a 2! It even got to the point where I felt I needed to push which worried me but the midwives assured me that it was because the baby was so low. 

The next stage of the induction was then the drip however I was advised by numerous people to have an epidural before they put the drip in so I refused it until the epidural arrived! It was suprisingly painless and I was soon ‘loving life’ (direct quote there!). It actually only worked on one side of my body but having half my body in pain was much better than the whole thing. 

Time seemed to go by super quick once the epidural and drip were in and I was then assessed at 4pm and told I was fully dilated so we would begin pushing at 5. I couldn’t believe it and we counted down the minutes until 5pm. I was still feeling contractions so was able to feel when I needed to push which was good however the baby’s heart rate kept dropping when I was pushing so the midwives kept running off to consult the more senior staff. After half an hour it was decided intervention was needed and a man walked in and started setting up some equipment without any explanation! I got really worried but eventually he explained it was a ventouse, which although I didn’t really want, was a better option than forceps! 

It turns out baby’s head was just there but kept dipping back in when I pushed so it didn’t take much suction on the ventouse and the head was out. I was then told to wait for the next contraction and the body would be  out. At this point we heard a tiny cry! I couldn’t believe it! They then said not to wait and just push, next thing I knew she was on my chest! (After H told me she was a boy, mistaking her umbilical cord for something else!) I couldn’t stop crying, to the point the midwife had to ask if I was ok and whenever I heard her cry for the rest of the evening I would burst into tears. 

  
She weighed a tiny 5lb 10oz and was so perfect. I was then wheeled up to the postnatal ward where I spent the night next to a very quiet and peaceful Pippa… If only that continued!