Baby B: The first month 

Since I’ve been so ridiculously slack lately (something to do with having a baby, I think!), I thought I’d give an update of the last 2 months. I can’t believe Birdie is already 2 months old! It seems like no time has passed at all, and yet she’s already changed so much. 

To describe the first month in a word, hands down I would say “sleep”. Or lack of it. Baby B slept like a champion for the first 2 days of her life, then obviously decided that was boring. So she tried no sleep. Which meant I tried no sleep. Here’s a tip: it sucks. Don’t do it. The biggest reason for this was that Baby B didn’t like her bassinet. Hated it, in fact. From the copious research I did at 3am, this is very normal. Newborn babies have just spent the last 9 months surrounded by everything Mum – smell, warmth, feel. So it’s not surprising that suddenly being dropped into a cold, hard bed is not going to be their first choice. So Baby B would very happily fall asleep on my chest, but would wake as soon as I transferred her to the bassinet. This meant that as it wasn’t safe for her to sleep on me, I would stay awake all night, and then pass her to Mr Nester for a few hours in the morning. I was surviving on about 3 hours sleep a night, plus a nap in the afternoon if I could manage it. Something had to give, and it turned out it was me. I started falling asleep with Baby B on my chest. Each time this happened, I would wake with a start a few hours later, panicking that I killed the baby. Every time, there she was, still fast asleep on my chest. Now, I’m certainly not recommending this, as all research shows babies should be on their back in their own bed, but it was my only option for a while, in order to stay sane. Baby B loves it, and while she’s now sleeping a lot more in the bassinet (just a matter of time – from about 7 weeks she suddenly didn’t hate it so much), occasionally we still have a nap together, and it feels ridiculously natural. 

Other than the sleep, just watching Baby B unfurl over the first 4 weeks was incredible. They start their lives so squished up – squashed face, eyes shut tight, hands in tight little fists, legs and arms all curled up in a ball. Then, slowly, they start “opening up”. Their eyes start focusing (although sometimes in different directions – freaky stuff!), their hands open up, and their body stretches out. They very quickly stop looking like a newborn, and start developing their own little characteristics. It’s mesmerising. 

Baby B was a great feeder from Day  1, even if she did butcher my nipples in the process. It took about 2 weeks for my nipples to heal to the point where I wasn’t wincing in pain when she latched on, and I put the recovery down solely to Lansinoh and Multi-Mums compresses. They’re awesome. After those 2 weeks of hell, breastfeeding was suddenly a lot easier, and I actually started enjoying it. Apparently, so did Baby B. In the first 2 weeks, she put on only a couple hundred grans, back up to her birth weight. Nothing more, and the midwives who checked on me were starting to express a little concern, asking me how often I was feeding (every 2-3 hours) and if she took both breasts in a feed (no, there was so much milk she was full just from one side). I felt like a failure, until her 4 week check up, where she had put on another kilo! I was still only feeding from one side at a time, which was obviously sufficient.

In terms of coping with it all, we’ve been very lucky that B is not much of a cryer, which really transforms sleepless nights and days. I think a lot of this is just sheer chance, although we have been very on top of her grizzles, attending to her as quickly as we can. She spent most of the first month on either me or Mr Nester, and I think that security went a long way to reducing her discomfort. Also, I used a wrap a lot. I mentioned in a previous post that I bought a Hug-a-Bub wrap to use, and bloody hell has that been a good investment!! B loves it, and once you get the hang of the wrapping technique, it becomes such an easy tool when we’re out and about, or even at home if I want to get a few things done. I’ve cooked dinner with B strapped to me, cleaned the house, walked the dog and gone shopping. By far the best use though is at meal times. It means I can actually sit at the table with Mr Nester and eat, instead of having to eat in shifts so someone can hold the baby. It’s been invaluable for being able to feel normal again. 

Mood wise, I certainly had my off days in the first month. The baby blues are real: day 4 had me sobbing over nothing, really, but still I needed that cry. I had other days throughout that first month when I broke down, usually due to lack of sleep which just makes everything harder. I yelled at Baby B once at about 4am, when she’d been unsettled and crying since 11pm. I had to put her down on the bed as I was so frustrated, for a second I didn’t trust myself. Almost instantly though you check yourself, your better instincts kick in, and all you want to do is help the poor, squawking, helpless human. They are so reliant on you, which can be incredibly frustrating, but also overwhelmingly beautiful – all they want is you, and for you to help them because they can’t do it themselves. It makes my heart melt every time. 

So that’s Baby B, month 1. She’s just hit the 2 month mark now, which I’ll recap in a separate post, and I’ve also got a cloth nappy post in the pipeline (here’s a preview: I’m still using them, and I love them!!). Apologies again for the delayed update, I’m hoping to return to more regular posts now life has calmed down a little!

Jane xx

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The Birth – Part 2

Well that took me a while! Who’d have thought that having a baby was time consuming? My humble apologies at my delay in blogging of late, things have been a little crazy. My little lovebug is now almost 6 weeks old, and I have no idea where the time went. I’ll post a 1 month update soon, but for now, let’s get through the rest of the birth.

So, when I left you last, I was 5cm dilated and fast tracking my way to delivering my baby. After the doctor had realised how fast my labour was progressing, the midwives very quickly arranged for me to be transferred to the labour ward. It was maybe a 30 metre walk from the room I was in. I had two contractions on the way, both as strong as hell, both causing me to bellow like a cow to get through them. What made this even more elegant was the fact that I was naked from the waist down (they’d wrapped me in a blanket to get to the labour room), and that with each contraction along the way I had nothing to brace myself on. Those two were hard. On the funny side, I had the second contraction right outside the open door of another labour room, with the father-to-be watching me in horror. Poor bastard, I bet he didn’t think it would be that bad!

After what felt like a thousand miles, we were in the labour suite. From that point on, my contractions were back to back. No break. I was not a happy camper. I was “vocalising” through every peak, and when the midwife asked if I wanted any pain relief, I think the next country over heard me scream yes! She set me up with some gas and air, which basically you stick in your mouth and breathe through – in and out, in and out – until the sensation kicks in. My problem was I was using noise to deal with the pain of the contractions, and with the gas nozzle in my mouth I couldn’t get the yelling up like I wanted. After one breath through it, I basically threw it across the room with a “this isn’t working!!!”. Good thing my midwife was the no bullshit type, as she explained to me that it would take a good 10 minutes, and I needed to keep it in my mouth. Turns out she was right. It started to take the edge off the peak of the contractions (still bloody painful though!), but it also made me extremely dizzy, and nauseous. I had to lie down to cope with it, which I really didn’t want to do, as I’d been told that it was the worst way to give birth. Too bad. There wasn’t a chance in hell of getting me off of that bed from that point – the combination of back to back contractions and the dizziness meant that the bed was the only place for me.

After about an hour of this, I suddenly had an urge to push. I’d read multiple stories of how this sensation can feel like a need to go to the toilet, and this must have been in the back of my mind, because at that point I felt the best way to let the midwife know was to yell “I feel like I need to poooooooo!!!”. Lovely. She tried to pull me back a little, saying that I wasn’t ready yet and I needed to keep calm, then decided to check to see if I had progressed any further. At that point, she looked extremely shocked, let us know that “the head is right there!”, and raced around the room getting everything ready for the baby I was about to have!

The midwife, might I mention, was amazing. She cut through all of my fear and brought me back plenty of times when the gas had sort of removed me from the situation – I was quite high on it, not in a happy, “duuuuuude” kind of way, but just not really with it, not really present in what was going on. She now tasked me with panting through the contractions rather than vocalising, and suddenly I realised how close I was to meeting my baby girl. I pulled the gas out of my mouth (can’t pant and suck through that thing), and focused with everything I had. Something about the midwife telling me to pant switched me back on, as I realised I was at the final stage, I was nearly there, and I could do this!

With each contraction the urge to push became stronger. It’s such a hard feeling to describe, as it sort of overtakes your body. I would be panting my way through a contraction, and then this force would take over, completely without me pushing, and drive the head closer and closer. I had to fight each of these to stop myself tearing, but eventually they were just too strong to be able to hold back. I pushed with everything I had (and I’m pretty sure it wasn’t just the baby that I pushed out, although Mr Nester swears he didn’t see any, um, waste…), and all of a sudden her head was out. Again, the midwife urged me to pant and not push, but that following contraction felt even stronger, and there was no holding me back. The rest of her slid out of me, feeling as if I was birthing a squid (just as slippery and slimy as it sounds). Then, incomprehensibly, she was there, screaming, and lying on my stomach. My baby girl had rocketed into the world, wide eyed and vocal! I really thought at this moment that I’d be overcome, I’d be emotional and weepy, but I was so shocked that all I could do was stare. As stupid as it sounds, it felt unbelievable that this baby had just been inside of me, and was now in the world.

The midwife rubbed her down, Mr Nester cut the cord, and then there she was, on my chest and already latching on to feed. She stayed on me for quite some time, and then had all her measurements done, and she was wrapped up and put in the crib next to me. Mr Nester went home to get some sleep, the midwife left me alone, and though I knew I needed to sleep, all I could do was stare at my perfect little girl.

So there you have it. My birth story. There are a few more details about the hospital, her first day, etc etc, but this was the most memorable. In all of 3.5 hours, my Birdie arrived into the world.

As for my advice for those nearing labour – certainly prepare yourself: read books, do exercises, think about what your ideal experience would be. But also, let it happen. I didn’t get a chance to do really anything of what I had planned – no birthing ball, no exercises, no visualisations. All I managed was vocalising and a bit of early movement before the labour took over. Also, trust your midwife. If I had fought her, it would have been a much harder experience – being able to trust her instructions meant I could focus much better, and could work my way through whatever was being thrown at me. In all, it was certainly the most pain I have experienced, and at time was the scariest thing I’ve been through. But it was also the most incredible experience – I realised both during and after labour how strong my body was, how strong I was, and what I was capable of. Don’t fear it, embrace it. You’ll get through it just as I did.

Jane xx