I’m determined to give this a jolly good go.  And with a baby who likes it, can do it on his own and is no trouble it should be easy.  And in hospital it was easy.  Yes by the second day my nipples were cracked and sore, and it seemed an odd thing to still latch a baby onto what looked scabby to me, but he took it and thrived on the milk I’m producing for him.

On the Easter Sunday (day two of being at home) I began to feel a burn in my right breast.  I immediatly suspected mastitis.  My mum suffered greatly when feeding me.

On Easter Monday I felt even more pain (I think the paracetamol and pain killers I’m on were masking the symptoms a little) and I rang the delivery suite (after care is in place for 28 days) and they put me onto the community midwives who said they’d send someone out to see me.

It was Tracy, my surgery midwife who came along and had a look and advised that I get an emergency appointment at the Dr’s based at the hosptial to try and sort it quickly.  I did so, and went along that afternoon.  They confirmed mastitis in both breasts and I was put straight onto antibiotics to try and combat it, and given advice on massage, hot water, expressing and all this malarky as well to help the infection out.  I also had to keep on getting Joel to use it.  They also made an appointment with a breast feeding worker for the next day.

Along came Christina who had a look and immediatly said she thought he was tongue tied.  I was pleased someone else actually saw what I saw when I looked in his mouth.  The theory at the moment is he’s not seriously tongue tied as he can latch on, can drink his fill, but he’s not able to stimulate all the parts of the breasts, thus the mastitis, and the reason he’s taking twice as long to feed.

It seems strange now to think that a couple of weeks ago I’d have been shy of geting my breasts out for strangers to look at but it seems so normal now!!  I’m showing anyone who wants to see!!  What was weird was when Christina asked if she could prod me and squeezed me to check my nipple!  Yep, another person has technically milked me!!

But to have an answer to my worries and so soon was a big relief, and worth getting the boobs out for; so we’ve now been referred to a consultant to have his tongue tie looked at and probably cut.  It’s a grim procedure, we have to hold him and then he has to latch on straight away once it’s been done.  We’ve got an appointment o 11th May.

So now I’m massaging, expressing, feeding (still rather constantly and getting very very tired from it) but my tummy has gone down loads which is good.  And I love breast feeding, I really do.  I can grit my teeth for that initial ‘ggrrnnf’ when he latches on, even on my infected breast and I love the bonding and warm spread of joy I get in my middle when I look down at him and he looks up at me.

He has so many little expressions that are just for me as he knows I’m him mummy and he calms at my voice and knows he’s going to be fed when I place him on my knee to prepare myself.  He doesn’t even cry for a feed, he makes a little ‘uh uh uh’ noise which is the cutest thing ever!!

The downside is that that the antibiotics have upset his tummy so his nappies are nasty, orange and smell bad and he’s going more than he should which means he’s not full enough for long enough.

Yesterday was a particularly tiring day.  I couldn’t get him to nap as we went to my parents to watch the wedding with my sisters and whether he was feeling off, or he knew he was in a different place and was unsure, he didn’t really settle down so I didn’t get a nap and I was feeding all day pretty much.  So we resorted to an emergency formula top up.  I felt awful as I handed Steve the bottle.  He liked it and Joel took it albeit rather reluctantly but he slept well after it being fuller for longer.  Steve has been wanting to help with feeding so I must get on with expressing some milk for him to use although I must admit I am being selfish and trying to keep that for myself 😦

But I’ve slept better having left Steve to it for a night and feel more myself today and on that note, as he’s still asleep (Joel, and Steve!) I’m going to take the opportunity to jump in the shower and make myself feel human again!

The Hospital Stay…

Having never having to spend any time in hospital I was pretty daunted at the prospect of a 4 night stay, just me and Joel without Steve.

When it came down to it though it was pretty wonderful.

The midwives and staff were all lovely and very attentive and didn’t mind me buzzing them at all at anytime and as that first night i was bed bound and catheterised i had to buzz them every time Joel wanted a feed and when he fell back o sleep to be put back in his cot by my bed.  Which was a lot.  Seriously, I had no idea the breast feeding would be so constant to start with.  I got about 3 ours of very broken sleep.

And in fact every night I was there I was pretty much feeding, and during the day.  The midwives said this was quite normal as Joel has a tiny tummy which fills slowly and empties quickly, a bit like trying to fill a leaky bucket I guess.  Anyway I know I’m very lucky to have a baby who amazed the midwives by having a brilliant rooting system and latches himself on with no problems.  I really don’t have to do anything.  He puts himself in the correct position, doesn’t mind left or right and just gets on with it.  Fr about 3 hours at a time!!!

After my first night there a health worker came and bed bathed me and changed me out of the hospital gown which made me feel better.  They got rid of the catheter after lunch and helped me up and out of bed to go for a shower which was great.  I didn’t get to see what my body actually looked like but on having to wash my wound and remove the bandage I could feel that things were rather unattractive and saggy.  I didn’t realise you got an overhang of tummy.  Whether that’s a c-section thing or a pregnancy thing in general I don’t know.  I was also very swollen down below, and I mean puffy as anything!

On the next day, I guess as part of ‘getting you up and about’ we collected our own breakfast from a buffet laid out in a waiting room.  I nearly killed myself laughing at the sight of all these women bent over and shuffling along with their trays.  It was rather like we were characters from The Simpsons, the old folk in the grandpa’s nursing home.  I called it ‘The C-Section Shuffle’ in my head and it actually hurt my scar trying not to laugh at myself.  Sarah also had a Cesarean with the twins and she remembered the same thing from her stay in her Welsh hospital. 

The food wasn’t too bad.  I loved the 9pm tea and toast round, and one night when I was up a lot they just supplied me all night!  and let my mm come before visiting hours to sit with Joel so I could sleep for a couple of hours (Steve had gone to his parents holiday cottage for the night and wouldn’t likely hear his phone until after I needed the assistance).

I had numerous visits from many doctors to check on me and Joel.  Due to the nature of the emergency of his arrival he was under paediatric care for 24 hours and they reassured me he was perfect with no repercussions from the meconium.  I did enquire with his doctor about his tongue as I wondered of the possibility of a tongue tie (there’s a noticeable bit of skin there) but as she was happy with his feeding she said it was fine.  (more on this to come…)

We had lots of visits from our parents and my sisters came over a couple of times and Steve’s brothers came along but didn’t seem too interested, they prefer the dog as Izzy is more entertaining.  I liked the 2 visitors only rule and the one time Steve’s dad brought all of them in at once I felt too overwhelmed as they’re noisy boys and squabble, and Joel was sleeping peacefully and I was tired so Steve mentioned this and it didn’t happen again.  My sisters were quite enamored of little Joel but as his cousins had croup they couldn’t meet yet.

So it came round to Saturday and I was looking forward to going home but a bit scared at having this new responsibility to care for.  I was discharged at a`round 5pm, but was told I could stay longer if I wished!  I had a big bag of medications to take and a copy of my notes which made fun reading as every note talked about Joel feeding constantly, (it was a bit like a good school report which was nice!)

Then we were off home and Joel was in his new car seat and crying as he wanted another feed so I sat in the back with him and gave him a finger to suck.  `we parked up and I slowly made my way to the house whilst Steve brought  Joel and we were home.

The new chapter of our lives begins here!

The Birth Story Part Three…

So I’m lying on a hospital bed, under the brightest lights ever that reminded me of an alien space ship, I was shivering uncontrollably, my teeth were chattering, and I didn’t know where Steve was.

I was told that they needed to take some blood samples and I tried to say that I was very queasy with veins and blood etc… but then laughed at the absurdity of what was happening and saying a blood test would be a problem.  I couldn’t feel it anyway, except when something went wrong with the sticky in tube thing and I felt something warm and wet spurting on my hand.  I didn’t look at all but afterwards when in recovery I saw that my hand was rather messy!

The Dr who’d lost his glasses lens obviously found another pair as he came along and I felt a bit jiggled about.  I was told that they’d started which surprised me as I had thought I’d at least feel the cuts if not the pain.  Steve was allowed in and came and sat by me.  I tried to keep calm and focused by thinking of Easter hymns and the lyrics, Christ Triumphant, And Can It Be, Jesus Christ Is Risen Today and I kept thinking of Psalm 23 – The Lord is My Shepherd.

His first photo, just dressed by a nurse at about 5 minutes old  !

Suddenly there was a bit of a wail and I asked if that was a baby.  It seemed too quick.  Steve could see from where he was and yes, our son was out!  He was taken straight to be looked at as he was quite yellow from being covered in the thick meconium.  His AGPAR was 9 at 1 minute and 10 at 5 which is good for a Cesarean birth.  He was wrapped up and they laid by my head.  This is where I worried as I was shaking and a bit in shock at the speed of everything and this baby looked at me, and I looked at this baby and I couldn’t move or pick him up or anything and I didn’t know what to do or say.  I felt as though everyone was expecting me to cry with emotion but in all honesty, I felt quite numb and unsure of anything.  So I said ‘hello baby’ and looked at him and he surveyed me and then Steve was handed him to hold.

I was still being jiggled about a lot and it took a little while to stitch me back up and I was handed the baby back so I tried to hold him well and I still wasn’t sure what to say to him.  Then it was time to be moved on again and off we went to recovery.  I was swapped from the operation bed to a much nicer and comfier bed which was strange whilst paralysed.  I really was expecting to hop off and jump on the other but I was rolled onto my left side whilst they put a board under me, then the board was dragged onto the second bed and I was rolled to the right to remove it.  Most smooth.  Then I was wheeled off holding the baby to a recovery room where a midwife stayed with me for an hour and Steve turned up with all our belongings in a Sainsbury’s shopping trolley.

I was in the old operation robe and was asked if I were willing to try skin to skin and breast feeding, so the robe came down and the baby was placed on my chest naked and then covered with a blanket.  The midwife put him to my breast and amazingly he wiggled about, made little ‘uh uh uh’ noises and within seconds had fastened himself to my nipple and begun to feed!  Still being paralysed and having no feeling in my body or legs was peculiar but this was fascinating.  I hadn’t realised how ready to go babies are when born or how innate their urge to find a nipple is!

Steve was on the phone to our parents telling them what had happened (he’d wanted to before the operation but I’d said to wait to say good news rather than freak them out with what was classed as ‘an emergency’ as they’d only have worried.

His first feed and ‘skin to skin’.

They were all thrilled obviously to hear that he had arrived safe and sound and whilst Steve was still making calls to his family I heard my parents voices outside asking whether they could see me.  They’d run straight round!! Normally it’s a no but the midwife was very nice and allowed them  a few minutes each one at a time so my mum came in first.  I was a bit disheveled with a baby to my breast, unable to move and naked and bloody under the grotty robe but it made me realise that i was technically still their baby and yes they wanted to see their new grandson but they also wanted to check that i was alright too!!

They were only there for a brief while and didn’t get to hold him as he was feeding and we said goodbyes after Dad had taken some pics then I was wheeled along to the delivery post suite and Steve followed with the shopping trolley.  It was now 9.00pm and visiting hours were over so once i was settled Steve had to leave which was about 10.30 in the end.  His family had driven over from their holiday cottage so he had people to go back to which was ice and they were keen to see photographs!

And I was in a single room, with a baby still at my breast and on my own for the night!!  But he was the most perfect and beautiful baby I’d ever seen and he was here and was mine!  And yes, everything which was traumatic and horrible which had occurred during the day I would go through again for him.

And its all getting hazy now, the pain of contractions is forgotten, the indignities of labour are no more and I’m left with the most perfect bundle of joy imaginable.

Welcome to the world baby Joel.

You are truly loved.

The Birth Story Part Two…

Ok, where were we??  I’m a bit confused as it”s nearly 4am and we”re in the middle of a feed…..

So I was in pain, on gas and air, in a labour room with possibly no waters but lots of ‘thick’ meconium.  I wasn’t sure as to what was going on but I coud sense they were worried.

The same doctor came back and wante to check once more for my waters (internal number 4) and up he went with his stabby hook and I remember thinking how horrible all this was.  He wasn’t gentle, he kept poking and I was trying to keep my legs relaxed as the midwife kept shouting at me to focus on her, look at her and relax for the sake of the baby.  I must have looked quite wild really with panic and pain in my eyes and between puffs I kept apologising that I couldn’t do it, that I couldn’t relax and that I wasn’t deliberately being awkward.  Goodness knows what Steve made of it, he may have stepped out at this point.  The Dr did say however I was now 3cm which seemed like progress but the thought of another 7cm of that agony was terrifying.

Then I was left alone as they went to discuss and to be honest the next hour or so is awfully hazy.  It all seemed to go so quickly and I had no idea of time at all.  I seemed to keep my eyes closed a lot of the time and I was in my own zone.  On opening them later on I remember seeing an extra person there not in scrubs and she informed me that she was a consultant and without worrying unduly they were a little concerned about the earlier trace showing baby’s distress and the quantity of thick meconium that had since emerged and they wanted to do a quick foetal blood sample (fbs) and this would involve me lying on my left side with my right leg as high as it could go whist a Dr went up my cervix to make a scratch on baby’s head to test whether he’d ingested the meconium and needs to come out sooner rather than later.

Ironically they ask permission to do these procedures and horrific as it sound (and indeed was) what person would  prefer to say no to what could potentially save their baby as opposed to the indignity and pain of another vaginal examination.  So in entered two new Drs, one who’d lost a glasses lens and therefore had brought a female colleague to undergo the procedure as he couldn’t see and hadn’t got his second pair.  I was still sucking on the gas and air as they kept trying to keep me informed and i really didn’t care what they were telling me, i wanted it over and done with and then onto my side I went and up went my leg!

The Dr performing this proceudre was a woman and she was 100 times more gentle than the previous Dr and having scrabbled about a bit informed us that I wasn’t 3cm at all, just 2cm which meant that she couldn’t access the babies head, but the meconium was thick and all about down there.

Not sure on times again and durations from this point but at around 6pm I opened my eyes to see the room full of people again and mid contractions was told that due to the inaccessability of my cervix, the lack of progress, the trace indicating distress and the quantity and consistency of the meconium they’d rather err on the side of caution and perform a cesearean on me.

I’d known for a while this was where it was headed and didn’t care, I just wanted my baby safe and sound and so I nodded and from then on it was all action stations.  A consent form was thrust under my nose with about 7 things that could go wrong that I was meant to read and understand and then sign!!  I did my best but it wasn’t my neatest writing! An anesthetist came in to tell me what shew as going to do for me and tried to make me understand what would be happening but again, contractions were taking priority here!

Steve was asked to collect all our belongings and find an outfit for baby and a nappy and was taken to get scrubbed up as well, and I was sat on a bed and wheeled down to a theatre.  I just remember calling out ‘it’s all in a plastic bag labeled newborn’ as I was carried off as I couldn’t imagine what he”d pick out!!  This meant being disconnected from the gas and air but they gave me the plastic mouthpiece to ‘chew on’ which was almost so silly it was funny.  I was however chewing on it rapidly when the contractions went and was getting louder with the pains – lots of oooooowwwwwwww’s going round the hospital at that point.

I remember being told to sit very still for the spinal injection, there was no time for an epidural to take effect and with contractions about every 3 minutes and horribly painful I was amazed how my body did just sit still and do as it was told for that very important moment!  I was also amazed at how quickly the injection took effect.  My legs began to tingle and I was asked to lie down quickly and suddenly the contraction pain was no more.  I was able to talk and even joke, until the shakes took over! Theatres are cold and I was scared.

The Birth Story Part One…

Wednesday 20th April 2011 5.00am

I awoke before the alarm, filled with anticipation.  I wasn’t sure whether I was excited about finally meeting the baby or completely scared at what was about to happen to me.  Going into labour naturally hadn’t happened and I guess had it, I’d have got on with it, which was my attitude to the induction as well.

We were collected by my Dad and loaded all our bags into the car, and as my parents were taking Izzy for duration her bed and some belongings were also packed.  Two minutes later we were at the hospital and off we went.  I waddled with my pillows and Steve brought everything else and having promptly forgotten we were meant to go to Ward 9, we went to the delivery suite.  We were then pointed to the right direction and shown a bed in a lovely room with a lovely view of Stafford and the rising sun.  Steve promptly got his camera out and was just set up when we were told as they were so busy we were to go back to the Delivery suite as they’d be able to see us faster there!

So back we trundled and were shown a not so nice room with a view of air vents and we settled down to wait.  It was about this point I realised I was having some tightenings and pressure down below, nothing painful at all, just made me go ‘ooh’ a little.  Having done a urine sample and had my blood pressure taken I was put on the trace machine to monitor the baby’s heartbeat.  Sure enough, my uterus was beginning to slowly contract and we could watch it all happen on the monitor!!  A midewife then came in to ask whether we wanted to go ahead with the induction or leave it to see what would happen naturally and if nothing, come back in on Friday.  My cervix was checked (internal number 1) and was ‘unfavourable’ still.  As we knew inductions could take an age to kick off and we were all geared up for then and now, and I was so uncomfortable at nights and not sleeping well we decided to go ahead with it so the prostin gel was prescribed and after internal number 2, inserted.

Waiting for things to happen…..

I had to remain on the trace machine for another half an hour and with no undue issues, it was just a case of waiting.  We trundled along to the canteen for toast and tea (me) and fried bread and sausages (Steve) and then we both managed to nap for a while before lunch.  Then as it was a beautiful day we went to take a wander outside as walking about could help start things off.

Sure enough, around 12.00 I began with contractions.  Not too terrible but they made me hold my breath and not really like them!!  I tried hard to remember breathing exercises, in through the nose and out through the mouth but it was difficult.

We told the midwife what had happened and I was put on the trace machine again to monitor them whilst they decided whehter to go ahead with a second applicaiton of prostin gel or not.  Having looked at the trace after a while, the midwife went to get a Doctor as when I was peaking, it showed the baby having distress and they wanted to check this out.  So the doctor wanted to see whether he could burst my waters to encourage the process along.  (Internal number 3).  To be honest, things were hurting at this point and I just sensed somethings were unsettling the midwife but Steve was trying to be as positive as possible, possibly too positive.

I was asked to put my hands under my bottom to help raise my ‘bits’ up enough for the doctor to access my waters, and he noted I was 1cm dilated at this point.  He took his hook and I could feel the tugging and pulling within, it was horribly uncomfortable and even though I was doing my utmost to relax, he was taking ages and tugging and pulling a lot more than I’d ever seen on ‘One Born Every Minute’.  He turned to the midwife and said that he didn’t think that there were any waters to break and he thought they’d gone already.  Where to remains a mystery.  I’ve not had a conclusive answer on that one.

They then disappeared and the midwife returned to say that they were transferring me to a labour room as they wanted to have another look (internal number 4) and they thought some gas and air would help me relax enough for the Dr to have a proper look.

By this point, contractions were coming thicker and harder and more painful than i’d ever imagined.  I know inducted contractions are more painful as they’re forced rather than natural but they were making me writhe on the bed and feel terribly hot.  I had to use a cardboard vomit bowl to fan myself with as I couldn’t bear the heat and was coming out in a sweat.

The midwife came back and as she was explaining how I’d be moved (they had a wheelchair) I felt something slimy and gushy coming out, which I told her and she had a look.  She wasn’t sure what it was (!) but I heard the word ‘meconium’ which I know isn’t a good one.  They sat me on a pad on the wheelchair and pushed me off pretty quickly.  Steve was left to gather up all the bags and follow on but he took a couple of trips to sort it and by this time, i was in a room on my own on a bed and sucking on the gas and air (he managed to bring some items which weren’t even ours and forget my shoes!)

I wasn’t sure what I made of it.  I didn’t think it helped terribly much, it was more of a focus from the pain, rather than pain relief unless you started it early enough in the contraction which sometimes I didn’t as they were coming so fast I was caught by surprise.

Welcome To The World…

Joel Lewis Peter Cranston
7lb 14 1/2 oz
20th April 2011 18.46pm

We love him so much, we can’t believe it.  He’s such a part of our lives already and has only been on this planet for less than five full days!

The birth story will follow, it’ll take a while to compose as it was far dramatic than ever intended but as you can see, it all turned out for the best in the end.  We’re all fine.

Back to the baby now!  🙂

41+2 and the End Is Nigh…

Having been to see the midwife yesterday she booked me in for an appointment at the hospital to be induced tomorrow.

TOMORROW!  That sounds scary.

I have to ring the hospital at 5.45am to make sure there is a spare bed (in case there’s been a baby birthing boom) and if so, we need to be there for 6.00am.

I’ll be monitored for 30 minutes and have to do urine samples etc…  and then by 7.00am they’ll insert a prostoglandin gel into my cervix to try and get it working.  That’s the bit that won’t be nice as it’ll hurt.

Then they leave you for six hours but you can’t go home, you have to wander around the hospital and take walks in the grounds and be bored and hope something kicks off.  Then they do it all again six hours later.  If after a third lot the next day nothing is still happening, I guess they’ll be considering an elective c-section which is so not what I’ve been anticipating.

I’ve really been girding myself up for a natural vaginal birth and I’m not sure why my body isn’t helping out here. 

He has 24 more hours to do his own thing before intervention and I’m feeling a bit daunted by it all.  I’ve never been in hospital before and would be in there for at least 2-3 nights on my own without Steve.  And Izzy would be at Mum and Dads. 

Oh well.  I guess what must be will be but it’s all a bit worrying from this point onwards….

41+1 and Still Here and Still Waiting….

I had a text last night to say that another couple from our ante-natal class have also had their baby!  5 weeks early.  Girls do seem to come earlier than boys do.

I had what could be my worst night’s sleep ever last night.  I’ve woken up with hands like puffy claws and throbbing feet and ankles.  And sorry for too much information, damp pants.  I think when I’m sleeping, baby is wriggling on the bladder and causing a little issue.  At least it’s not terrible and panty liners can control it but that had better stop once baby is out!  I’m terrible at remembering the pelvic floor exercises. 

I asked Steve to do a weekly shop as we had (have) no food in at all, but he made excuses to not go on his own, and I’m not in a position to be able to wander around a supermarket pushing a trolley at the moment so in the end I just registered with Tesco’s online and it’s being delivered this afternoon.  He really does not understand how achey and in pain my joints are, and comes out with helpful suggestions like going to the cinema in Newcastle to see Scream 4.  I don’t want to go in a car, far away to watch a scary horror film when overdue and heavily pregnant?!  Why can’t he understand that?  Honestly.

As a result of no food, we actually have no bread and no cereal so I was suffering hunger pangs on waking up this morning wondering what to eat for breakfast when I remembered a bag of oats in the cupboard – result!!!  Real porridge it is!  And tasty it is too.

I had a lovely restful day yesterday.  I went to Mum and Dad’s and sat in the garden all morning reading quietly whilst Steve and his family went to Church.  He then went to their cottage whilst I stayed at Mum’s for the afternoon and then on going home had a little nap.  All I need and want at the moment is peace, quiet and rest.  Saturday with all of Steve’s family coming round was a bit much for me and I felt quite overwhelmed at the number of people crammed into my little lounge, all tall, and broad with lots of legs everywhere and getting Izzy all worked up and playful. 

No, quiet and peaceful is the way forward for me.  I hope Steve can enforce that once baby is here else I’m just going to have to take myself away from the chaos and hide away somewhere….

41 Weeks

How far along:  41 Weeks – never imagined it’d come to this!!

Total Weight Gained:  Getting worse day by day as I’m just eating rubbish now.

Maternity Clothes:  Getting limited as I don’t have many summer ones having had a mainly winter pregnancy, and now we’re in a crazy April heatwave I’m sticking with one pair of trousers (to hide my swollen ankles) and three t-shirts.  Oh, and one vest.  So I’m feeling a bit bleugh about my wardrobe situation!

Stretch Marks:  I thought they weren’t so bad, certainly  not as red anymore but the midwife on Weds commented I’d been caught ‘by the stretch mark monster’ which was lovely of her wasn’t it!  😦

Sleep:  Just depends, some nights I feel better than others.  Sleeping on my left side is more painful with my hip but I’m just concious I’m meant to for baby’s sake.  I’m still up twice a night and by 7am.

Best Moment of the Week:  Erm, I really don’t know.  I had a bit of a show on Friday which got me all excited but nothing else seems to be happening as yet.  It’s been my 6th week off work and without a baby to show for it I’m just taking one day at a time.  I very  much enjoyed seeing Emma on Thursday and Anna on Friday.

Movement:   He’s still pretty active considering the lack of room in there.  An ice lolly gets him going if I have any worries.

Gender: He’s a baby BOY!!!

Belly Button:  It’s still flat except when he literally pushed out behind it and it went triangular.  Weirds me out though, I can’t wait for it to go back in again.  All  brown and nubby looking.

Milestones:  I am officially ONE WHOLE WEEK over my due date.  I’m plodding and waddling on and have just had a text to say a girl from Church due next month delivered a little girl last night!  Honestly, batting out of order!  She must have only been 37 weeks.  And still Baby Cranston makes no moves south.  Tch.