Going out alone with the baby blues and baby

Whilst I was pregnant I dreamed of the days when the baby arrived and I’d wheel them around in my beautiful new pram to get coffee, meet friends for lunch and go to buggy workout classes, making the most of every day of my maternity leave.

What I couldn’t plan for was my emergency c-section, for my baby to be rushed back into hospital at 5 days old and to be anaemic as well as dealing with the beginning of the baby blues.

It’s so easy to look at beautiful Instagram pictures of new mums doing all those things with a smile on their faces but that’s not the real story for most new mums and I’ve found from speaking to other people that’s very very normal.

Our baby was so very wanted and meticulously planned for (another post for another time) and it made me worry why I didn’t to rush out here, there and everywhere with my new bundle of joy as the days ticked by.

My husband was lucky enough to have 2 weeks of paternity leave and after lots of encouragement I finally agreed to venture out into town for a coffee when K was about 10 days old. I insisted on staying in the car as the car ride was still really painful on my scar and that was it for another few days. I got straight back into my pyjamas, opened the door to friends whilst apologising for my appearance and even re-scheduled registering the baby until a later date because I just couldn’t face it.

Motherhood was tough, exhausting, scary and I felt totally out of my depth and not like those smiling, glossy new mums staring back at me from social media.

I’d been speaking to friends about feeling low, asking about their recoveries and whether they had felt like they just didn’t want to go out and do anything and lots of them assured me they had felt overwhelmed as well but the longer I left it the more I was panicking. My husband went back to work, my mum was now visiting a couple of times a week rather than every day and I’d still not gone out by myself.

Nearly 3 weeks after my son was born I had a really difficult visit from my health visitor. We’d had feeding issues, I was still feeling weak and wobbly from anaemia and was showing more signs of the baby blues and I could tell she was starting to worry about me.

She asked a lactation consultant to come and visit me and then said I should go and see her at the clinic that week to get K weighed again. She wouldn’t be coming to me, I’d have to go to her. I still remember feeling a lump in my throat as she said it; I felt like she was punishing me and just adding to my upset.

Thursday came and I had spent the morning faffing, packing and re-packing the bag and even google mapping where I needed to go and how long it would take despite it being minutes from home. I had no clothes that properly fit my bump less body so ended up wearing wintery maternity clothes despite it being roasting hot outside.

After the slowest walk imaginable I finally arrived at the children’s centre tired and feeling another wobble coming on. I was greeted by a smiley family worker who showed me a seat and took my bag whilst I struggled with the car seat.

As I filled in my baby’s details I felt my first mum win. I’d actually done it, just me and my baby, we’d got to our appointment safely and I felt like a real Mother. I didn’t even mind when he peed all over our health visitor on the scales because she seemed so pleased that we’d made it there as well!

It might seem like such a small thing to other people but to me it was huge. I know tough love won’t work in everyone’s case but for me that day gave me so much confidence in my abilities as a new mum. I was sore, shattered and sweaty (I mean really, really sweaty) but I had taken him out by myself and we had started making memories together; many of them still including unexpected peeing and I wouldn’t change it!

High Needs Baby…? You are not alone

After a lot of googling and question asking, it quickly became apparent that I have a high needs baby, everything made sense and had my littles ones name written all over it. I’m no expert on this subject, but if you can relate to these traits the chances are you have one too and you are not alone! My little one possesses every single quality I read about, yes, every single one!

The first trait I read about was the need for physical contact, She extracts all the physical contact she can get, especially from me; in my arms, in my bed, around my legs when I’m trying to prepare meals, sound familiar? Did you think that going to the toilet would always happen in isolation? Of course you did… me too! She clearly thinks I’m doing something fun in there that she shouldn’t be missing out on.

I can lay her down awake… jokes! This child has not and will not be put down awake; there is no self-soothing going on here. You better have some good hip swaying action and decent music too rock her to. She’s currently snoozing to the sounds of the script, pop them on shuffle and you’ve got yourself a mix of perfectly timed swaying tunes.

When she was tiny, she’d fall asleep in my arms and in my arms she would stay, she would wake the second I sat down or attempted to put her in her moses basket, every time! Yes I’d have a dead arm from holding her but I have 3 more limbs, I will be fine! You’ll find that once they have finally dropped off you have a maximum of half an hour to scoff a sandwich, make a cuppa or write a blog! Don’t worry about your washing, ironing, tidying, showering… ain’t nobody got time for that! They’re awake and ready for the next stint before you can even think about it.

I read on… is your baby hyperactive? Yes, yes she is! When other babies her age are ready for a nap, she’s just getting started. She wants music, she wants to dance, and she wants to build towers and knock them down over and over. She wants her stacking cups and to look at her books and jump on her trampoline.  These babies just don’t want as much sleep as other babies and will not go to sleep or be influenced to sleep until they are good and ready. A drive in the car or a walk in the buggy does not work.

She shuns any form of containment; we’re talking stiffening of the limbs in the car seat, the high chair, the buggy, I’m telling you, this girl will have muscles of steel, she can keep it up for ages, impressive really! Strangers sometimes shoot a concerned glance my way when she becomes a red faced, muscle flexing, sweaty state on our afternoon strolls. Swaddling… I don’t think we need to go there, you know where I’m going with this. Looking at other contented babies all wrapped up, usually asleep, out walking with their parents made me want to cry, I did in fact, a lot, usually in the kitchen with a glass of wine.

It’s not all bad though, apparently my child is going to be some kind of genius… no really… they say if your child is showing these signs, is demanding of your attention and gets super frustrated when they can’t successfully communicate to you, that they are extremely intelligent and will succeed and excel in life! If that’s the case I have the makings of the next Einstein on my hands, watch this space. She must get it from me  🙂

Frequently awake, yes, that’s why my house is frequently a mess.  She wants everything and anything but sleep.

Separation anxiety, yes, from 2am every morning our bed is now apparently her bed and sleeping next to me isn’t enough, oh no, the little cherub has to be on me, fully on top of me until she eventually drifts off. We’d have the mother of all melt downs on car journeys, screaming almost to the point of making herself sick. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve had to pull over to calm her down; I even had pre-planned stop points should I need to use them and the thought of getting stuck in traffic terrified me.

High activity levels, she will sit and play but will soon need the next toy, book, teddy, TV remote! When we have a day at home it drains every last bit of energy that I have, but I love to see her brain ticking over whilst she tries to figure things out, learns new things and realises what will happen if she pushes that button or puts her hands in the cat food or water.

Now, I haven’t experience this one myself but ‘phantom cries’ is apparently a thing. You can hear your baby cry when they’re asleep or not with you. Maybe it’s because my own cries are drowning those ones out.

I know what you’re thinking, how long is all this going to last? Honestly, I don’t know, but my little one has been this way since day one and we are fast approaching 15 months old. It is getting easier, apart from the sleep; the sleeping is still majorly crap!  All I can say is, you are not alone in this and you could have a prodigy in the making, your son or daughter could be the next Steve Jobs, Marie Curie or Bill Gates

Good luck!

 

 

Let’s talk boobies – wonderful, weird and wonky

One of the first symptoms they tell you to look out for when you think you might be pregnant is sore or swollen boobs. I was literally on boob watch from the off; squeezing those bad boys hourly to see if there was any sign of discomfort. There was of course, because if you keep squeezing your breasts that often they will start to hurt.

Being blessed with a modest pair of B’s I can’t lie, I was excited to see if I’d follow in my Mum’s footsteps and get a little bigger up top but there was nothing. My belly started to grow with our little miracle babe but those teeny tiny boobies were not having any of it and starting to get overshadowed.

I started to panic if I’m honest. I’d read that your boobs start to increase blood flow, grow milk ducts and generally get their shit together in preparation for feeding a new babe but mine hadn’t even woken up and realised I was pregnant.

I think I hit the second trimester and out of no where I started to feel a pulse in my chest. This wasn’t like a trapped nerve; it was like I could literally feel the extra blood being made and pumped between both my boobs. Overnight I’d grown what looked like blue arteries and as well as being rounder STUFF had started to come out of them!!

I knew right from the 2 pink lines that I wanted to try and breastfeed. I’d seen family members feed like an absolute boss and it inspired me to do my research, stock up on nipple cream (with no idea what it was actually for) and breast pads.

We had a rocky start or what they call a ‘traumatic birth’ and that apparently doesn’t do your new breastfeeding journey any favours. .

I was passed my very tiny bundle of joy, wrapped in a towel and somehow between his impossibly small mouth and the kind but very assertive hands of the midwife it happened! He was sucking away like he was a pro! I honestly couldn’t believe it – neither of us had done it before but I suppose when your nips have become the size of a xmas turkey platter they’ve got a good chance of hitting the target.

Fast forward to being wheeled round to the recovery ward and things started to get a little more tricky. My sleepy, silent and perfectly latching baby was now ever so slightly more aware of his surrounding, a bit more interested and much much louder!

My first instinct was to press his face against my boob but what were once a very modest pair of B’s were now, as my best friend described, ‘porn-star whammers!’. For those new to the world of breastfeeding this is fairly normal, they start to fill up and they can become huge but that means that they are far, far too big for the tiny little mouths of a brand new baby.

Pressing our little one’s face against my boob was now borderline suffocation and there was no way he could open his mouth wide enough to get on and eat. Enter the wonderful world of hands on lactation support – the most brilliant, intimate advice I was going to receive as a new, breastfeeding mama!

If you think that your baby arriving into the world signals the end of having strangers (medically qualified strangers) touching your lady bits then you are in for a surprise. After panicky sobs from me and my new babe I eventually had to press the button and ask the midwife for help. Cue this game changing, wonderful, unexpected motion of the midwife (who I’d never seen before and who’s name I didn’t catch) pressing on my enormous boob with both hands, squishing it into the shape of a slightly deflating bouncy castle and then pushing into the waiting mouth of my son who was transformed into a Dyson!

The last big change to happen to my poor, unrecognisable boobies was what I’d read in the leaflets and the big thing to look out for and that was my milk ‘coming in’. Don’t let those early days fool you when the colostrum is dripping out delicately and don’t worry about knowing when it’ll happen; it’s like labour and you’ll DEFINITELY know! I was hot, sweaty, thought I was coming down with the flu and then suddenly my engorged boobs poured out milk like a fire hydrant whilst our poor, tiny baby was trying to stem the flow whilst still managing to breathe!

There was milk literally EVERYWHERE and on EVERYONE. Those breastpads are not to help you really, they’re to avoid spraying those in your vicinity if you should hear, see, talk about or even think of a baby – which is incredible because boobs don’t have ears or eyes! Should your little one then miss a feed for goodness sake get yourself in the shower quickly because I can’t rule out that they won’t actually explode and if you’re a one side at a time feeder then prepare yourself to be wonky and uneven for the majority of the day. (which still makes me laugh now!).

It’s taken a good few weeks for my boobs to work out that they’re feeding one baby and not 7 and I’ve finally managed to calm the ‘let-down’ to just hearing my baby cry now which is much more convenient when you’re surrounded by other babies at a group every other day.

So there is a very quick rundown of how my teeny, tiny little B’s have changed in the very short space of about 8 months and manage to feed our small human, with the help of formula and medicine too, and come out the other side. Whether you’re breastfeeding or not, the human body is incredible but I’ve got to say I really do have a new found respect for boobies!

We left her overnight, she survived – So did I

A spa afternoon and a night away sounds bliss right? What about if it means leaving your baby overnight for the first time…Eeek! Forget about her having separation anxiety, I’ve got it!

My little one was 5 months old at the time, she wasn’t an easy baby, she still isn’t and my anxiety was still there, clouding my head. Half of me desperately wanted a little bit of time, time to be with my partner, time to sleep and time to recharge my burnt out batteries and the other half of me wanted my baby at reaching distance at all times, to be there if she needed me.

My parents came to stay the night at our house and of course I knew she was in safe hands, they managed to raise me and brother and we turned out ok… although I’m sure others would beg to differ 😉 You just can’t help but feel like no one else, not even the ones closest to you, can care for your baby the way you do.

I packed an overnight bag and threw in a pre-pregnancy bikini (ain’t nobody got time to go cozzy shopping these days), my mum tum would be out there for all to see, but at the time the way I looked didn’t bother me one bit. There was a time I would of planned well in advance what bikini I’d take, what outfit id wear for dinner and my toenails would always be painted. As a new mum I was consumed with everything baby and dry shampoo was my new best friend.

When we get there we’ll have lunch and I’ll have a couple of vinos I thought, that will help me relax. All it did was make me emotional, it used to make me dance! My lunch arrived and so did my tears. ‘Don’t cry’ my OH said ‘She’s fine’. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t a sobbing, blubbering wreck but there may have been some stray mascara. Like I said, I knew she was absolutely fine I just missed her and felt a little guilty that I was away from her.

On went my bikini and out came my belly, I was getting a grip now and looking forward to some pampering and chill time. It was so peaceful and relaxing, just how you’d imagine, beautiful music, dim lighting and the sound of water, bliss…. But, If my phone goes off it it’s on the loudest setting and I can’t remember what my ring tone is as it’s been on silent since the day she was born. Of course it’s in my dressing gown pocket,  she might need me, I was relaxed but now I’m a mother there will always be part of me that’s never fully relaxed.

We had a swim, a massage, a sauna, it really was wonderful and I only text my mum about 6 times that afternoon/evening, that’s not too bad is it? We had a meal, a whole meal that was hot! We stayed at the table and talked, we had wine, a bottle in fact, I hadn’t done this in over a year.

Ahhhh a whole night of undisturbed sleep, I was genuinely more excited about this than anything else! Oh how I took this for granted and scoffed at people who told me to get my sleep in before she arrived! ….The hotel fire alarm went off at 2am…..WTF!! I ran around the room in my naked, frantic state looking for my baby, then I realised where I was. Was this really happening! It turned out to be a false alarm, it had to happen that night didn’t it! We we’re awake in the middle of the night, like we had been every night for the last 5 months… you’ve gotta laugh!

Did I enjoy it? Yes. Did I need it? Yes, more than I realised. It certainly wasn’t going to be a regular thing but taking time out on occasion is important, as well as being someone’s mummy, I was still me. Don’t lose yourself to motherhood and don’t feel guilty for needing a break, you deserve it. We did it, we left her overnight and she survived, I did too.

She’s not a good sleeper… It’s just the way she is…

‘Get your sleep in now’ they said, ‘make the most of these lay ins and lazy weekend mornings’ they said. How hard could it be, sure, we’ll have a few sleepless nights and early mornings, but we’ll soon work out this parenting malarkey and get her into a routine…HA!.. Routine!

From the very first day we welcomed our beautiful bundle onto this Earth, she has so far lived her life by the rule that sleeping is for wimps. ‘Why would I sleep, there’s a whole new world that has opened up before my very eyes’!

Some days I have been so tired that I have attempted to put the iron in the fridge, although, that must have been a good day if the iron was even out, right?

I remember being sat on my bed in the early days breastfeeding Scarlett, milk spraying all over the place (I’ll save that story for another blog another time) and bursting into tears through shear exhaustion. Why do I seem to be the only mother with a baby that doesn’t want to sleep? Of course I knew that there were other parents out there in the same situation, but at the time, in the depths of your darkest hour, It’s you and only you going through this hell of no sleep…Which is an actual form of torture you know!

That’s it I thought, I’m going to buy a book that will show me the error of my ways and teach me to teach my baby how to sleep, within a week or two I will have my sleeping beauty and I will go back to having a peaceful nights sleep…wont I? Well no, I wont.

She doesn’t want to be swaddled, that blanket is kicked off within seconds, she’s like Houdini!

She doesn’t want to lay down whilst she’s still awake, in fact, she’s never looked so awake!

Two hour afternoon nap, per-lease! ‘I’ll give you 20 minutes Mum, if you’re lucky I’ll give you half an hour and don’t even think about expecting me to sleep in that pram’.

Then came the endless advice, ‘wear her out at a play group, take her for a walk, she must be too hot, too cold, still hungry, have wind’. I can assure you that every possibility has been tried and tested and tried and tested again over the past 14 months.

She must have a bedtime routine, she must be in the bath by no later than 6:30pm, she must have her milk by 7:00pm and be asleep by 7:30pm. But why? because the umpteenth number books I have read say so? These writers don’t know my baby, there is no fail safe formula that works for every baby, they’re all different, we’re all different and every day is different. I have learnt that expectation and reality are two very different things, separating the myths from the facts, forget it.

If your baby naps well and sleeps through the night, I’m happy for you, I really am. No sarcasm or bitterness intended 😉 For now I will just enjoy the cuddles, cherish the fact that she needs me and accept that she’s not a good sleeper, it’s just the way she is.

Garden centres – where the new mums hide out!

Before having a baby I actively avoided garden centres. I can’t keep a cactus alive so I was never going to be rushing there on a Bank Holiday to buy soil for my tomatoes. Garden centres, in my opinion, were for the elderly and for children to visit Santa’s Grotto.

When my Father-in-law invited me to brunch I was 35 weeks pregnant and grateful to be leaving the house let alone be chauffeured and have a meal made for me. As we pulled into the large driveway, past the signs for pansies and water features I spotted row after row of 4×4’s, people carriers and women gathering up children with beautiful prams and even more beautiful smiles as they headed to the garden at the back.

As we walked through the shop towards the walled garden area I made the discovery that no baby books or Mummy Facebook groups had told me – garden centre cafe’s are a new Mum’s Starbucks! Wide aisles, a menu full of cakes, treats, all day breakfast and afternoon tea. There was space for prams, walkers and wheel chairs, no awkward shuffling and bumping into hipsters working on their Macs here. Every table welcomed the prams and their small passengers with a smile and even my bump got a few compliments.

The staff couldn’t have been more accommodating; both my Grandma-in-law and I were given huge tea pots and a seat in the shade and with every sip I felt the stress melting away.

Having returned approximately 15 times since I realise just how great it is to visit somewhere that’s so accommodating to Mums, Nans, and everyone else! There’s nothing more stressful as a new Mum than feeling like you’re an inconvenience, causing trouble trying to navigate around a noisy, busy café or not knowing if you can change or feed your new baby let alone finish your cup of tea.

If you’re wondering where all the Mum’s are between 10am and 2pm Monday to Friday, they’re probably diving into a large piece of carrot cake and toasting the brilliance of this hidden gem! And we’re not worried about you taking up all our tables now that we’ve shared this, our tiny humans start the day at about 5am; I assure you’ll we’ll be there already!