Saturday, 27 September 2014

They say the first six weeks are the hardest....

And I totally agree with this. Maybe even just the first three weeks. I used to watch the clock just to stay sane, at first taking things hours by hour, feed by feed,  I would look forward to nighttimes because then I was closer to the worst part being over and then tomorrow would come. I would see the clock and think,  oh good it's almost midnight, only a few more hours, I'm halfway there already. And as things gradually got easier I just took things day by day, just constantly reminding myself it won't last forever. Babies are only this small for so long, breastfeeding isn't forever. Sleepless nights aren't forever. However crappy you feel about it there is always and ending somewhere down the line, all you have to do is keep sight of it. Not to say that I wished the time away though. I take pictures of Reegan every day and I cherish those cuddles and the way she looks up at me when I'm talking, and won't take her eyes off me when I'm feeding her. It's difficult but it's still amazing.

 I think for me the breastfeeding troubles were the worst part, and just as the sleep deprivation was getting to me, Reegan started to sleep six hours in the night. The first time it happened I woke up five hours after putting her to bed with a start, and started panicking when I saw the clock and counted on my fingers how long she had been asleep. Yes, baby brain has me resorting to finger counting like a child again. I picked her up to try and wake her, which didn't work,  so I resorted to a less than gentle nappy change to get her awake. Eventually she did wake up, but by the time she was feeding it had been about five and a half hours.  I was terrified that she shouldn't be going this long between feeds and that she might loose weight or become dehydrated or ill if I didn't feed her often enough. But like I said before, Reegan only wakes up on her own terms. After a little reassurance from the health visitor I quickly grew to appreciate the six hours sleeep in the night!  Although I still have to get out of bed after three hours to express lest I have a horrible milky accident.

After Reegan had her tongue tie snipped at three weeks old, the breastfeeding troubles started to improve the very next day. And for maybe a week, things were perfect. Until the evening fussy time started. I've heard it called the 'witching hour' before, and it surely is awful, but apparently very normal. But to start with I was stressed out and absolutely convinced that there must be something wrong with my child. Turns out, she is the pooiest baby on the planet (every nappy has poo in it. Literally the only nappy that hasn't been pooey was her very first one when we were still in the hospital. Ironically enough I was desperate for her to produce on the poo front so they would let us go home, and when she eventually did, she  never stopped. Can't tell you how many times this mama has been shit on!) So as long as I can help her poo, and use infacol to help with the burpies, fussy time is then just a case of lots of cuddles and walking in circles around the living room with her.

But just as fussy time reared it's ugly head, Reegan started to smile. At three and a half weeks she had the whisper of a smile on her lips, and by almost five weeks she was beaming at me every morning. I have no idea how Rob and I managed to produce this happy little morning person. I don't know where she gets it from. But now at six weeks she is also cooing and making cute little noises that aren't crying.  Noises that aren't crying! Hallelujah!  Things are definitely easier now.  I'm pretty happy, Rob is pretty happy, and majority of the day our little milk monster is pretty contented too.

Hopefully now I can keep up with the mummy blogging, and get it all down beforr I start to forget these precious first weeks! Reegan barely even looks like a newborn now, she's all stretched out and chubby, she's much more alert now and actually has modes other than 'sleep mode' or 'scream until my father's eardrums burst mode'. Just like a proper little baby now!

Monday, 8 September 2014

Breastfeeding is hard, and nothing prepares you for that.

This post may be long and a little boring, but I think I need to share a bit about my breastfeeding journey. Its been really tough (and not over yet), and I think writing will help me get some perspective on the situation amd help me look back in the future and remember how I felt at the time. And if it helps anyone else by reading it then that's great too.

Even though I didn't get my water birth in the birth centre and had a monitored induction, I had a straightforward delivery without complications, and a healthy baby. I feel very lucky. The breastfeeding, however,  has been incredibly difficult. When people asked me during my pregnancy whether I did intend to breastfeed, I would tell them that I would like to at least have a go at it, keeping in mind that it doesn't work for everyone. It began quite well, as soon as Reegan was born my lovely midwife put her straight onto my chest and helped me to latch her on, which we had absolutely no problems with. I was very happy, although my boobs were pretty sore, and continued to feed her that day as often as she wanted (even though the nurses on the ward were trying to make me wake her up to feed more often.  I know now that when Reegan is sleeping she won't be woken. She will wake up in her own time when she is hungry and you can't force her).

I had some issues with being discharged from the hospital that night; one nurse pretty much let me go, we were literally putting Reegan into her car seat and putting our coats on when she came back and said mistakes had been made, I had not be monitored enough during the day and I wouldn't be allowed home. I later discovered my obs had only been recorded once all day, and as a patient who was induced due to high blood pressure I was supposed to be closely monitored.  I was devastated,  and Rob then had to leave because visiting hours were over. I spent the next two hours in tears, asking for painkillers for my stitches and waiting for a doctor to come and see me. One nurse eventually came in and saw me crying and went to get a midwife,  who worked some magic and discharged me within half an hour.

I struggled to feed her that night, and the pain got so bad that Rob went to the 24hr supermarket in the early hours to get formula milk because Reegan was screaming with hunger and I was sobbing because I couldn't feed her. I thought because I had been so upset at the hospital that my milk had dried up. Not to mention exhausted because i hadn't the really slept in about 36 hours. The midwife who visited me at home the next day gave me some encouraging advice and I decided to pursue it, even though my my breasts had started to feel like they were burning up and were extremely sore. I couldn't (and still can't most of the time) bear to have my bra off at all. I spent three more days in pain and sweating, using cold flannels and cabbage leaves to soothe the pain. I went for a bra fitting and was told I probably had mastitis because my breasts were so hot and swollen and had started to go red and splotchy. The next day a midwife confirmed this, but was reluctant to put me on antibiotics in case it gave me thrush.

So for a few days I expressed milk into cold flannels to releive the pain, but when I latched Reegan to me at feeding times I would get a searing pain shooting from my nipples to my elbows. It was so bad I would sweat and cry, amd dreaded every feed. I nearly gave up again a couple of times, but the only reason I didn't was because we tried to give Reegan a bottle again but this time she wouldn't take it. So I had to carry on. The next midwife I saw asked me how things were going and I just burst into tears. She told me the reason for my pain was thrush, and gave me treatment for both myself and my baby, but also picked up on the little clicking noise that Reegan makes during a feed and suspected a tongue tie so put in a refferal which we had to wait a week for.

We have now finished the treatment but things haven't improved as much as I would like. I spent the first two weeks of Reegan's life on alot of paracetamol and ibuprofen, and although I've just managed to wean myself from them it still hurts. My left breast was so badly cracked I have been expressing milk and bottle feeding it for a week now. It's starting to heal, but because the other nipple was also bad the health visitor told me to use a different position to ease the pressure, which has helped. We finally saw the feeding specialist yesterday who confirmed that Reegan has a mild tongue tie, which has caused the damage to my nipples, which in turn has been causing all the deep pains I have had which she said is most likely nerve pain from the wounds. So Tuesday is our next appointment and Reegan will probably have her tongue tie snipped and hopefully things might get better for us. I feel bad for putting her through such an ordeal, but if it means I can carry on breastfeeding her then I am prepared to do it. Through all the pain and sweat and tears, when it doesn't hurt as much, it really is worth it.

Three weeks old!

So Reegan is now three weeks old! I wish I'd had more time to write just lately, but she's keeping me quite busy!  She weighed 8lb 2oz when she was born, and after loosing a tiny amount in the first couple of days, she has piled it back on ever since and the last time she was weighed on Tuesday she was 9lb 6oz. So far, she has been very good. She doesn't cry excessively,  and for the most part has been sleeping at least three hours at a time at night.  The past three nights she has gone 5 hours and then three hours and three hours again between feeds. Bliss!

With all the weight gain and growing she's been doing she's starting to grow into her looks, rather than just looking like a scrunched up newborn. This week she has been opening her eyes and looking around a lot more, so today we set up her little baby chair. It's like a bouncer only it sways instead of bounces. Her first bath was a rather stressful eveny for all involved,  so since then I have just been having her in the bath with me, and she is much happier that way. Rob dried her hair into a little baby mohawk last night and now it's stuck that way.

Look how chubby! Love her.