Diastasis Recti 101

Aah, the mum tum. The pooch. The overhang. While the post-baby jelly belly is something most mums expect to encounter to some extent, fixing it isn’t always as straightforward as you might first imagine. It took nine months for your tummy to get that big, so it’ll take at least nine months to fix it, right?

But what if it doesn’t shrink? What if you still look 4 months pregnant months (or even years) after delivery, and nothing you do seems to be shifting the baby weight?

You might be amongst the 60% of mums who have a Diastasis Recti

From a medical perspective, (according to the Mayo Clinic):
“During pregnancy, the growing uterus stretches the muscles in the abdomen. This can cause the two large parallel bands of muscles that meet in the middle of the abdomen to separate — a condition called diastasis recti or diastasis recti abdominis.”

These muscles form part of a wall of muscle that holds the uterus, intestines and other organs in place and lends support to the pelvic floor. Typically, the gap will go back to normal around 8 weeks postpartum.  However, the gap sometimes does not close on it’s own, which can cause a number of health issues (not to mention leaving you perpetually frustrated at your stubborn tum).

Signs you may have a Diastasis Recti include: 

  • lower back pain
  • constipation
  • bloating
  • poor posture
  • incontinence that lasts for more than eight weeks postpartum (separated abs can cause issues with your pelvic floor)
  • a pooch or bulge in the middle of the stomach
  • dome like bulge in the stomach when coughing or getting up from lying down

Before you start to panic, it’s not all doom and gloom. Below is a list to help you check yourself for a diastasis, and what to do if you think you have one.

Checking for a diastasis

  1. Lie on your back with your feet flat on the floor, knees together and bent.
  2. Raise your head and shoulders off the floor so that you can see your tummy.
  3. Place your hand flat on your stomach, fingers pointing towards your toes.
  4. Try and feel for the gap between the muscles above and below your belly button. You might feel them squeezing your fingers tightly. You might not. That’s ok too.
  5. Note how many finger widths you can fit in the gap, and how high up your torso that measurement is. You may find your diastasis is larger at the bottom than the top, or vice versa.

Typically a diastasis recti is measured as 1 finger width = 1cm. Therefore, if your diastasis is 3 finger widths, it is 3cm wide. If you feel a gap wider than 2cm, you have a diastasis. A gap wider than 4-5cm wide is considered severe.

What to do if you think you have a diastasis recti

If you’ve found that you have a diastasis, it is more than possible to improve it. The best way to do this is to get guidance from a physiotherapist, who can advise you on the best exercises to do to close the gap. In the meantime, here’s a list of things to avoid:

  • traditional crunches, sit ups and planks, as these can increase intra-abdominal pressure and actually make the gap worse by putting too much strain on the muscles, effectively pulling the gap wider rather than closing it.
  • holding baby on one hip, if it is painful
  • coughing without supporting the ab muscles
  • lifting or carrying heavy loads

Alternatively, there are many diastasis recti repair exercises on youtube, which you may like to follow along to. Just be careful you don’t put too much pressure on your stomach, as this can delay your healing and even make the condition worse.

Last but not least, if exercises from your physical therapist fail to improve your condition, surgery is always an option, however this should be a last resort, and always discussed fully with your medical team.

Needless to say, if you’re experiencing any physical difficulties postpartum (be it months or years) you should always speak to a medical professional about your concerns. While having a Diastasis Recti can be a pain (both literally and figuratively), it can be improved over time.

You’ve got this, mama.

If you liked this you may enjoy reading…

Feel the burn, mummy

7 Actual Important Things Pregnant Women Need to Know

The New Baby Bubble

Mental Health Monday: Dealing with your past demons as a new mother…

Personally, I’ve suffered with depression since the ripe old age of 12. Back then, it got really, really bad. I tried to end my life twice, and ended up in a mental hospital… so, of course, when I began noticing the same signs in myself of depression during my pregnancy, you can imagine the fears and anxieties that went with it.

I’ve previously talked about how to recognise antenatal depression, and I truly think that, had I not been depressed throughout my adolescent years, I wouldn’t have recognised it in myself while I was pregnant.

There can be so many things that trigger depression or any other mental illness, but for me it was a multitude of past demons that were resurfacing. They were resurfacing because, very soon, I was going to be a mother myself, and that was the most terrifying thought of all.

Not because I didn’t want to be a mum – I’d always wanted children. I grew up with 4 younger siblings (2 of whom I raised in part) and from the age of about 9 I had known what my children’s names would be, because, OBVIOUSLY, I was going to have twin girls (Lily and Olivia – I got one at least) and a boy (Henry). I had it all planned out.

But nothing goes to plan.

Instead, by surprise, I was pregnant in my final year of university, and had to deal with that pregnancy completely alone except for a couple of very amazing and supportive housemates. By the time that my pregnancy was nearing the 7 month mark, I had essay deadlines looming and was about to move back to Kent to prepare to have my baby, and become a mum. It was what I’d wanted so why did I feel so incredibly anxious about it?

It may sound cliche… but I was so petrified of turning into my mum. Of being the type of person that could cut her children out of her life as and when she pleased, or the type of person that would prioritise her vanity and her boyfriends over her children’s wellbeing. I came out of those 15 and a half years living with her so emotionally damaged, and I was terrified that my own daughter would feel the same way. I didn’t want to lose my baby before I even had her, and I felt like it was an unchangeable fate that she would end up hating me.

Those feelings of inadequacy before I had even given birth to my daughter were so difficult to overcome, but I did overcome them. It took counselling, peer support, regular GP visits, medication, and a round of CBT for me to get to the point that I am at now. I’ve felt the ups, downs and in betweens, and I still feel them, but the downs are becoming fewer and farther between.

No matter what demons there are in your past, they won’t stop you from being a good mother. It took me a long time to come to that realisation, and I have tried so hard with everything that I am to be the complete opposite of the woman that my mother is.

I have tried so hard to give Olivia everything she deserves and more – everything I deserved as a child but never thought I was worthy of. All I can hope for is that it will be enough, and as long as I’ve put my all into being the best mum I can be, then I’m sure that it will be more than enough.

Mix It Up Linky

If you liked this you may enjoy reading…

Sarah’s Birth Story – How We Met

Dear Olivia,

It’s 4:30am on a Saturday and I’ve just woken up with pains in my abdomen. I had been having false labour contractions for about three weeks prior to that (you were exactly a week late) so I wasn’t too quick to wake up daddy and tell him that I thought it was for real this time. Instead I went downstairs, used the toilet, bounced on my birthing ball and put on the nightie that I wanted to go to the hospital in.

I was timing the contractions and seemed to be having them about every 7 minutes, and they weren’t too painful at that point.

At about 5:30am I ran a bath. In the run up to having you I was adamant that I desperately wanted a water birth, and thought that the warm water would soothe the pain from the contractions. I got in the bath for all of about 5 minutes before deciding that it was actually irritating me and I didn’t want to be in water at all!

It’s now 6am, contractions are speeding up a bit, once every 5 or 6 minutes and getting a bit more painful. I decided to go and wake Daddy up. Now Daddy is not a morning person, as you will learn, and we had a late night staying up and watching films with Kiera, so I had about 3 hours sleep and Daddy had about 5. Needless to say Daddy was a bit grumpy at first, but he got up quickly, made me a cup of tea and looked after me while I rang the midwife. He also put on the music channel, and for some unknown reason I was listening to Cotton-Eyed Joe and bouncing on my birthing ball at 6 in the morning.

At about 6:30am I started being sick and there was a bit of blood in it too, so Daddy rang the midwife again and they told us to come in as they weren’t that busy anyway. So Daddy went and woke Kiera up and got her dressed. We got into the car and Kiera was crying, you see, we’d booked tickets to watch the new Alice in Wonderland and she was upset that she couldn’t go! You were so inconvenient.

We dropped Kiera off at her mummy’s and by about 8am we made it to the hospital. Between about 8:30 and 9am the midwife came in and asked if I wanted to use the birthing pool, to which I responded with my bath story, and then checked me over and told me I was 3cm dilated, and then my waters broke all over her hand and the bed and everything! Oh great! We thought we would be in for a long while yet.

I got hooked up to the tens machine and Daddy was rubbing my back (though the wrong end, the blithering idiot) and all of a sudden it was too much and too painful and the midwife came in to tell me that as I had a long way to go I should get transferred upstairs to the labour ward for an epidural, and I gave in and agreed to have a bloody huge needle in my spine.

But here comes the twist…

The times become less accurate here because of gas and air (bloody good stuff btw) but roughly an hour later I had another examination upstairs and I was 8cm dilated!!!! Oh, and the anaesthetist was dealing with an emergency c section so no epidural for me! You were coming too quickly and about an hour later again I was being told to push.

Uh oh, there’s another twist…

You got stuck!

I was pushing for about an hour and a half, my legs flatteringly up in stirrups and about 6 people at the end of the bed, Daddy next to me with a straw and a cup of water and the room being like the tropics to everyone else as I shouted at a health worker not to turn the air con on!

I convinced the doctor that I needed help, and so more people came in wielding forceps before they changed their minds and used a kiwi cup instead. They asked Daddy if he wanted to watch but he said no as he knew I didn’t want him to see all the gross stuff. Then with 2 or 3 pushes you were out, and up on my tummy. I said “oh my god” and Daddy laughed. Then he cut the cord and you were moved further up my chest so we could have skin to skin.

It was perfect for a few seconds until I started being sick again and had to have someone put you in the crib as I was shaking so much from the adrenaline and the gas and air comedown!

Once the atmosphere had settled I cried, more out of guilt of having someone move you as I couldn’t hold you straight away after you came out, and I asked Daddy and the midwife if you were okay. You were fine, sleeping peacefully as if nothing had even happened.

I asked if I was just being a blind mother or if you really were that beautiful. And you are. You’re more beautiful than anyone on the planet and I love you so much.

So there you have it, that is how you arrived at 13:06 on your birthday weighing 3.9kg/8lbs 9.5oz.

If you liked this you may enjoy reading…

Mental Health Monday: Postnatal anxiety and me.

As a new mum, I thought that the anxiety of leaving your child, leaving the house with your child etc. was normal. What I didn’t realise was that not wanting to be alone with your child and having the constant fear that you would do something wrong and having your child taken away from you was not normal. This is how I felt 90% of the time and it completely ruined the bond I so badly wanted with my daughter. 90% of the time I’d be at somebody’s house, or out of the house with people around because I was scared of being alone with my daughter. Scared that something would happen and nobody would be around to help me. Or if I did something different to the mums at baby group, I would panic that I was doing it wrong and my daughter was going to taken into care because I didn’t know what I was doing.

I started to see this as abnormal when my daughter was around 4 or 5 months old. I saw other mums staying at home alone with their children and taking a different approach to parenting and wondered why they seemed okay with it but not me. I mean, this was normal right? Hmm… not so much. I went to see my GP who suggested I saw a therapist. So I agreed, reluctantly at first, to go to the first session and I was so bloody nervous. The anxiety had kicked in 100 times worse. What if I say something and they think I’m an unfit mother? What if I go there and they think Evie is unsafe with me? I could go on…Surprisingly, they were incredibly understanding and instead of judging, they listened. They listened to me ramble on about my worries, my fears and my goals. I was diagnosed with postnatal anxiety which, once explained to me, made perfect sense. I didn’t feel any less anxious after that session, but my thoughts were out there. Thoughts I hadn’t even told my partner about because I was scared of sounding crazy or stupid but I finally knew that I wasn’t either of those things.

I continued on with a therapist but this time, with CBT (Cognitive behavioural therapy). Each week I would have a different thing to do e.g. messy play at home for 15 minutes, watching a TV show with Evie at home on my own etc. Slowly, I started to create that bond with her that I had been so desperate for and could cope with being alone with her. Don’t get me wrong, the anxiety still creeps about and springs up on me when I least expect it but the bond between me and Evie now is amazing. She genuinely is my best friend and I love spending mummy & daughter time with her! I wish I had known that postnatal anxiety was a thing sooner. You hear a lot about postnatal depression and postpartum psychosis during pregnancy but never the anxiety part. (Not in my pregnancy anyway). So please make sure you are familiar with the symptoms!

https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/postnatal-depression-and-perinatal-mental-health/perinatal-anxiety/#.WuegOKXTWJ0

https://www.panda.org.au/info-support/after-birth/symptoms-of-postnatal-anxiety-and-depression

Should I give my baby a dummy?

Ah, this is one question that possibly all new parents consider at least once! In fact, I’m considering it right now as my daughter screams her head off, refusing to go to sleep, and she’s nearly 2! However, when you’re a first-time mum, there’s a lot of overwhelming information about why you shouldn’t give babies dummies, or how long they should have them for, etc. etc.

So, here is the story of how my daughter came to have a dummy, and how she came to stop using it!

Day 1

8.5 hour labour.
Distressed baby.
Breastfeeding ALLLLLLLL night.
Screaming ALLLLLLLLLL night.

Luckily enough we were the only family on the ward at the time, but my god was I so exhausted. The following morning, the midwife did her rounds and asked how we were.

“Why won’t she sleep?” I said, “isn’t she supposed to be tired, too?”

She sort of smirked at me, and while you may appreciate that it was a bit of a daft question, my baby had literally not slept a wink that day/night. My NCT classes had equipped me with the information that labour and birth would be equally as hard and sometimes traumatic for the baby as it is for us, so they should be doing a lot of sleeping in those first 48 hours.

  I told the midwife that Olivia had been latching on and off all night and then she said the words that would change everything for me and my baby.

 “She’s too sucky, she needs a dummy.”

I was confused. I’d heard all about teat confusion and asked her if it would cause problems with me breastfeeding. She said no, and repeated that my baby was too sucky and needed one. Exhausted and acting on the advice of a professional, my partner Jamie went down to the hospital shop to find one, which she wouldn’t take. I remember feeling relieved. I never wanted to use a dummy for her. In my mind it meant that she’d have it for years and that she’d end up as a toddler with a speech impediment and still using a dummy. Of course, that was completely irrational, but I wanted to avoid them as a matter of personal preference.

Day 2

We were allowed to go home, and amongst the many gifts we had been given were some tommee tippee dummies.

Amid more screaming and constant breastfeeding during the night, and a baby who wanted to constantly not only be on me but be latched onto me ALL. NIGHT. LONG…

(Again, I know you’re reading this thinking “well what did you expect, you stupid cow?” The truth is, I have no bloody idea what I expected. It was my first time in that situation. I didn’t read any books or blogs or prepare myself in any way other than going to NCT classes, especially having been told that parenting books were a waste of time. So what I expected was nothing. I knew absolutely nothing.) 

We tried again with the dummy, and eventually after a few nights she began to settle with it and took it quite well. Breastfeeding was going well, and she was gaining weight well too. There were no issues with teat confusion at all and everything seemed perfectly fine.

Week 8

Her weight began to drop very steadily with no reason at all. She had a little bit of reflux but no other signs that she wasn’t taking enough milk. I was expressing regularly as well as giving her regular feeds. Teat confusion still wasn’t a problem at all – we were able to alternate very easily between tommy tippee bottles, avent bottles, dummy and breast. I remember feeling incredibly lucky compared with other mums I knew whose babies were very fussy with teats. We had a very good eating and sleeping routine and seemed to have found our little groove together.

I was told to go to a local breastfeeding group, where the lactation consultant told me my latch was wrong, and, oh yes, attacked me for giving my baby a dummy.

The very fact that Olivia had a dummy meant that the real problem went unnoticed for a further 3 weeks.

This is the reason why, with hindsight, I wish I had stuck to my guns and never given her one in the first place.

Week 11

Olivia was diagnosed with a tongue tie, and finally referred to a specialist tongue tie clinic in London. This was also the last week that I was able to exclusively breastfeed my baby girl, and I had to introduce formula. Up until that point, her tongue tie hadn’t stopped her from breastfeeding, even though it was an anterior tongue tie and she couldn’t move her tongue from side to side! If you want to know more about breastfeeding a baby with tongue tie, click here.

I was sobbing in Tesco, putting the Cow & Gate through the checkout. I know how stupid that seems. It’s made no difference to her development whatsoever – she’s still as clever as she always would have been, but it’s just so devastating that it didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to. I wanted her to get her nourishment from me, not an artificial replacement of me… But she had plummeted from the 75th percentile to the 0.9th, so what other choice did I have?

Week 14

Unable to stop using bottles, we sacrificed dummies. She adjusted instantly, and didn’t miss it at all. In a way, I am glad that we had to stop using dummies at that stage. I honestly believe that once babies begin to have a proper awareness of what it is and what it’s for, it would be so much more difficult to take it away, and then my dreaded fears of having a toddler with a dummy would have been realised! There’s nothing wrong with that if it’s your choice, but, for me, I just don’t like them, and the truth is they really can affect speech development if they are used for too long.

So, all in all, dummies have their ups and downs. My main concern if I ever had another baby (which I don’t plan on doing) would be that I would have a similar issue. It was never fair for the lactation consultant to attack MY choice as a mother to give my baby a dummy, and I just couldn’t face that judgemental attitude again if I had a second baby with a tongue tie.

If you’re planning on breastfeeding, I would really recommend waiting to see if you can go without one. Teat confusion IS a thing, and although Olivia wasn’t affected by it, she is pretty much the only baby I know who can easily adapt between different teats and the boob. In my mind, they’re not worth the hassle of trying to take them away when your little one gets older, and although every baby needs comfort, they can get it just as easily from you, a teddy, or even a little blanket with far less complicated issues that can come up.

Let me know how you managed to get rid of dummies or why you decided to use or not to use them in the first place!

Mental Health Monday: PND and bonding

Having trouble bonding with your newborn isn’t something limited to those experiencing PND – it actually happens to most mums after giving birth, and is a common part of the “baby blues”. There’s an expectation that everything will be wonderful and magical, but in actual fact your body has gone through an immensely traumatic experience, and for the next 2 or 3 months you will be sleep deprived beyond belief. It’s no wonder that sometimes the bonding isn’t automatic, or just takes a little longer.

Immediately after I gave birth to my daughter she was placed on my tummy for skin-to-skin, recommended to keep baby warm and to benefit baby straight after leaving the security of the womb. She stayed there for all of 10 seconds before I had to ask someone to move her. I had been throwing up throughout labour and was still being sick into a paper bowl, shaking too much to hold her properly.
After that I didn’t hold her very much, except when she was being fed. I didn’t know what I was doing with her. It was the single most daunting experience of my life that first day in the hospital – a midwife huffily “helped” to latch her on to me, told me I was doing things wrong and fixed them for me, not advising me but just doing it for me because I seemed so incapable. Even nappy-changing was a struggle, and with 4 younger siblings that was something I’d done my fair share of in the past.
Around 2 or 3 weeks after she was born, my mother-in-law got back from her holiday to New York so we went to visit, driving from Kent to Essex. The drive wasn’t so bad, but when we got there, it was impossible to settle her to sleep. She just screamed, for hours, and I didn’t know what to do.
My husband and I drove around Corringham with her, hoping that the motion of the car would settle her, but, if anything, it made her worse. Usually, that would have done the trick. We started to suspect it was colic, something I’d never heard of, and, of course, that made me feel even more unprepared and inadequate to be a parent.
Don’t worry – this story gets better, I promise. That night I received the best advice I’ve ever been given, though I didn’t use it straight away. My mother-in-law asked if I’d tried singing to her, took Olivia, rocked her and sung a song her mum used to sing.
Poof!
Just like that, the screaming, crying baby was gone. She was asleep, and peaceful.

At first, I didn’t think it had anything to do with the singing. I thought my baby had had enough of me already in the first month of her life.
The next night, the outbursts started again, so I tried it, not holding out much hope that it would work.
But it did.
And not only that, but I cried tears of joy for the first time since she had been born. Partly due to the fact that I’d found something that would allow me some sleep for the foreseeable future, but mostly because for the first time I felt needed for something more than just milk. I felt like my baby loved me because she felt safe and secure enough in my arms for me to soothe her to sleep with a song.
I forgot that she had spent 9 months listening to me singing and talking from inside the womb. I forgot that she was already so familiar and comfortable with my voice that she would recognise it now that she was on the outside. I didn’t know that, at the same time as calming her, it would calm me, too.
So, if you’re one for singing in the shower, your baby has heard it and fallen in love with it already. Try it. Even if you’re not one for singing at all! Try singing to your baby and see if it has the same effect. You don’t have to be Mariah Carey or Beyonce… You just have to be you.
Your baby knows you and your voice better than anyone else in the world.

Monday Stumble Linky

Baby Bonding Guilt

When you’re pregnant, people try to prepare you for the birth. They tell you about their birth stories, some of which may be more like horror stories to a first time pregnant mum! They ask you your birthing plan. They even tell you that you won’t sleep properly again, or at least for 18 years…

But no one prepares you for what I found a real struggle
…the bonding.

You spend your 9 months of pregnancy preparing. You buy all the bits you’re going to need, you stock up on what feels like, (but never is), more than enough nappies and baby wipes. You plan and sort out a welcoming nursery. You prepare the hospital bag and write your plan with the midwife. You get excited! This little baby is going to complete you!

But what if no matter how much you want this baby, no matter how much you have planned and no matter how much you want to love this baby.

What if when they’re born you don’t feel anything?

I hope that by talking about  it I can encourage mothers and fathers to be more open about their feelings and to not feel ashamed if they found the bonding process hard and not immediate. I truly believe that this affects more people than they’re willing to admit. After all, who wants to admit that they don’t love their baby? No one!  I want to show others that they shouldn’t feel guilt and shame, it will come in time even if it doesn’t feel like it right now.

Giving birth to a baby, as everyone says, very rarely goes to plan. But even if you are fairly relaxed on what you want during your birth, it doesn’t mean that you won’t be left thinking about it afterwards. Births can be traumatic and they can leave mums feeling as though they didn’t do things properly. Perhaps they had a C-section, rather than the vaginal birth they had hoped for. Perhaps they needed plenty of rest following the birth so weren’t able to be as active and do as much of the feeding in the early days. Perhaps they had trouble breast feeding their baby. Perhaps the baby had colic and wasn’t able to sleep comfortably very easily. These can really affect a mum’s and dad’s ability to bond, even though these are things completely out of their control!

What you’re not told is that the bonding process can take a few days, a few weeks or even months and if you’re one of those people who it takes time for, it can fill you with feelings of guilt; this is what I felt, I felt like an awful parent. It may seem that every other parent has this instant bond with their child but in all honesty I don’t think that is the case for a lot of people and I think that parents feel uncomfortable to admit to it because they worry that others will think they don’t care about their baby. This couldn’t be further from the truth!

The health visitors will suggest ways of helping… skin to skin, which is lovely, but if you’re unable to pick up your baby because you’re in pain or if you are having trouble because the desire to do so isn’t there, then that can be hard.

They will most likely suggest breastfeeding which is viewed by many as a good bonding method. However, I feel that if you’ve been unable to breastfeed for a number of reasons, (you can read our breastfeeding stories), then it can be unhelpful for the health visitors to push this suggestion because it may increase the mother’s feelings of guilt.

I think that in those early days that it’s made harder because of the broken sleep. The fact you are doing all these things for your baby and not getting much in return can make it difficult. It may sound daft but once you are recognised by your baby and you get reactions from them, which could be something as little as a smile, it makes the bonding so much easier. Even without these reactions, your baby knows you from your smell, your heartbeat and your voice, they’re just working out ways they can communicate with you.

These are some things I tried that you might like to try too:

  • Singing to your baby.
  • Talking to your baby.
  • Reading to your baby so they get to recognise your voice.
  • Lying next to your baby.
  • Wearing your baby in a sling.
  • Baby massage.
  • If possible, holding your baby against your chest.

Please remember that you are doing your best. It may seem like every other parent is finding parenting a walk in the park but I can assure you they’re most probably not! If you’re finding the bonding process hard it is not a reflection on you as a parent. Your body and mind have been through a huge change! The birth and early days may not have gone exactly as you’d planned as well and this is not your fault!

It is so important to forgive yourself for these feelings and to seek help if you feel you need it, there really is no shame in talking about this. You are an amazing parent and you will get through this difficult time, it might take a few months, but that’s not something you should feel ashamed about. Other parents you know got there earlier, that is their parenting journey. You will get the close bond with your baby that you have looked forward to throughout your pregnancy and it will be worth the wait. Some things you can plan for during the pregnancy, unfortunately this is one of those things you can’t and you don’t expect it to happen to you. I hope that by talking about this that other parents won’t feel alone like I did in those early months. When I look back on those times I don’t associate it with those bad feelings anymore, I only remember the good.

Writing this has made me feel quite emotional because I now have such an inseparable bond with my daughter and we are so happy. I hope my daughter knows how much she means to me everyday and I ho
pe she never doubts my love for her. I never saw myself getting here but once I did it made me feel like the richest woman alive. I have no doubt that you will get there too. 


Lucy At Home

Postnatal Depression: An open letter to every mum…

It’s not an easy road, this parenting thing, and it’s okay if you’re struggling, just take steps to get better! It feels like a huge weight being lifted once you’ve made that first contact to someone. Be strong my lovelies, it will get better. It always does.



If you haven’t seen my personal blog, it’s full of letters to Olivia, so you could say that these are what I do best.
 
This one, however, has a twist. Not to Olivia, but to you, the one reading this. 

 

 
Mums, mamas, mummies, I beg you all to be your best. Not the best mother, the best cook, the best anything, but just the best version of yourself. 
 
What do I mean? I mean, get that help, use that support, it’s okay not to be okay all of the time. In fact, it’s normal. But sometimes it might be slightly worse than normal, all that means is that you are vulnerable and you need a little bit extra. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, it’s DEPRESSION. And that is NOT a dirty word. It’s a feeling, a battle, a setback, but with the right help, you will come through the other side a stronger person, and you will be a better version of yourself having done so.
 
Sometimes you may feel like you’re sinking, and when you do it’s so hard to come up for air. But you will. And here is my little checklist of things to remember when I do feel like I’m slipping back underneath the surface.
 
    1. Help is not far away…

      Whether it’s my GP, my health visitor (before I moved away, I still haven’t managed to find the children’s health services in my new town yet), or my family, help is always close by and easy to access. My experience with the doctors surgeries is that even if their appointments are full up, they will always try to book you in asap if you tell them it’s for mental health. They will also be able to provide you with crisis numbers, and although I’ve never had to use them, I have friends who have and they have been dependable in their time of need.

    1. Don’t cut off your lifelines…It’s so easy to feel isolated, to send that text saying “no, sorry but I’m busy”, or to reject that phone call because you can’t face other people seeing you when you’re not feeling 100%. The best thing to remember is that true friends will be there for you through thick and thin, and just like having a sickness bug, it’s okay to want to hole up under your duvet and binge watch a tv series until you feel better. When you do feel better, seize those opportunities and see your friends and family.  Even if it’s momentarily, you will feel better for seeing other people and having adult conversation, trust me.
    1. Your baby thinks you’re perfectThis took me a long time to realise, but your little bundle that you carried for 9 months and went through all of that hell to bring into the world thinks YOU are the most amazing woman on earth. Yes, granted, a newborn baby doesn’t understand who you are yet, but you already provided them with a safe place to grow until they were ready to come out to meet everyone, and now you are their one and only source of comfort (especially if you’re breastfeeding). Sorry, dads, but you just can’t beat the power of the nipple. Hungry? Slip the nip. Tired? Slip the nip. Ratty? Slip the nip… You get the idea. You are providing them with everything they could want. They’ve already memorised your voice, and soon enough will learn your face too. That baby will love you unconditionally, no matter how imperfect you feel, you are perfect to someone.
    1. Baby’s daddy owes you big time…Seriously, nearly 15 months later I still play this card. “Honeyyyyy, make me tea please”, “No”, “But I made your baby”! It doesn’t really work anymore, I won’t lie, but in those first few weeks when he has paternity leave, soak up all of the help you can! Usually I am a staunch believer in independent womanhood but for the love of god you just delivered a 7/8lb something gorgeous lump, so don’t lift a finger. If you’re doing this alone, the same applies, take the help and the rest from people you love, you’re taking on double the work for th
      e foreseeable future! You totally deserve to chill out and not have to worry about anything. If, like me, you have terrible anxiety, you are definitely going to spend enough time worrying later on, so just sit back, and look at what you made! Look at that beautiful baby and your family and just cherish those memories. It’s so hard to forget all of your worries, but I promise you will have those moments where everything else slips away and you can only see the beauty in front of you.
  1. Forget your looks, they’re different but no less beautiful…This is a big one for me. I had enough trouble with my body confidence before having Olivia, but the one thing I actually liked was my nice flat tummy. Aaaaaaand POOF! It’s gone. It’s now covered in stretch marks and I can’t wear a belly bar anymore as the hole closed up. Plus there’s still a bit of extra fleshiness from the mumtum. But do you know what? What you see in the mirror isn’t what everyone else sees. My other half genuinely made me cry recently after I asked him what he would change about me. I expected it to be something superficial, because that is what I would change, magic me up some visible abs or something. No, instead he said he would change the way I see myself so that I can see what he sees. So to you all, YOU are still attractive, your body is still phenomenal, and there will always be someone who sees you differently to how you see yourself. Next time you look in the mirror, try to love yourself, see what your significant other sees. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so BEHOLD IT!
 
 
I think 5 is enough and I feel like I’ve rambled on a lot, but if you’re struggling you know you have people to turn to. If you truly do feel alone and you want someone to talk to who can’t and won’t judge you then you can contact any of the mummykind gang via Facebook, twitter or email – go to our contact us page to get the links!
 
Harriet and I also started a Facebook group for mummies suffering with PND, a safe place where you can share experiences and ask for advice without having to worry what people think of you.
 
I hope that this helps someone. It’s not an easy road, this parenting thing, and it’s okay if you’re struggling, just take steps to get better! It feels like a huge weight being lifted once you’ve made that first contact to someone.
 
Be strong my lovelies, it will get better. It always does.

If you liked this you may enjoy reading…

 

7 Actual Important Things all Pregnant Women Need to Know…

There are so many practical things no body ever told me when I was pregnant and I never even thought to ask  – You don’t know what you don’t know, right? 

Share

Tweet to @mummykindoff

I see a lot of posts on this subject that focus on the funny side, about how everyone will see your nakedness and you won’t care, about how you’ll get used to being puked on etc etc.  This post isn’t that, there are so many practical things no body ever told me when I was pregnant and I never even thought to ask  – You don’t know what you don’t know, right? 
 
So, here is MY personal list of really important things that I should have been told, I’d love to hear yours in the comments!

1. Group B Strep 

It’s strange, I was asked several times on the maternity ward whether I was Strep B Positive and I always assumed that I must have been tested or they wouldn’t be asking (after all, they nicked enough of my blood for testing over the course of my pregnancy) I also assumed I must have been all clear or they would have told me. WRONG. It wasn’t until Harriet got her results that I found out what it is and why it is so crucial for EVERY mother to be tested in EVERY pregnancy. (Read her story here)
 

2. Your birth might not go according to plan

Okay, thats a pretty obvious one and I guess on some level we all know that but what I mean is that no one told me exactly what it was that could go wrong and how that might be resolved. Nobody prepared me for emergency procedures in theatre. I suppose nobody wants to scare a pregnant woman, well, I’m gonna do it. You might have to have major abdominal surgery. You might have to have your lady bits sliced and diced. Your lady bits might rip and you could lose a lot of blood. If you are pregnant I would strongly advise you to talk to your midwife (or relevant healthcare professional) about what you can expect if you need to have an emergency procedure. What the risks are, why they happen and what you have to sign when they thrust the surgical permission slip at you between contractions. It’s going to be easier to take that information on board when you aren’t 15 hours into labour and drifting in an out of consciousness.
 

3. Packing for hospital stays 

I see a lot of posts about hospital bag essentials. I disregarded most of them because they contain bluetooth speakers, tablets and essential oils. I packed a small bag of actual essentials (clothes for me, clothes for baby, nappies, sports drink, vaseline, maternity pads, granny pants, phone charger, hospital notes) which would have been absolutely fine if my birth had  gone smoothly and my son wasn’t crazy jaundiced. My poor husband was back and forth with clothes and supplies all week. He doesn’t drive so he was walking three miles to the hospital and three miles home (what a trooper). So, pack a bag for if things go to plan. Pack another, bigger bag for if they don’t. Oh, and hospitals don’t give you shampoo. 
 

4. Tongue tie (and other feeding issues)

This is a huge deal to me and I will be talking about it in more detail in another post soon. I did hear tongue ties mentioned when I was pregnant. ONCE. It was in the following context; “You can’t breastfeed a baby with tongue tie because they can’t latch to the breast”. This is possibly the single worst piece of misinformation I was given. My son had a tongue tie and he latched and fed, just not very well. None of the midwives or health visitors picked up on it and I had no idea what to look for. I was supported by amazing local services which are now facing massive budget cuts (see their campaign here) but I wish I had gone to see them when I was pregnant for some advice and again after my son was born before I was told that his behaviour was normal or that it was my fault.
 

5. Nappies

You are going to be changing a LOT of nappies. I decided to use cloth when I was pregnant but my dinky baby didn’t fit in them to start with. If I had realised just how many disposable nappies we’d get through in the first three months (around 900) I would have invested in some smaller sized cloth nappies. Obviously a lot of people told me that it would be a lot but the actual figures still startled me. If you’re in the UK you can find your local cloth nappy library here.

6. How and when to bathe a newborn 

This one was a source of panic for me from around 20 weeks. I asked at an antenatal class but I was shown with a rigid toy doll and no actual water so I was ill prepared. When I was presented with a mucky baby fresh out of the womb I had no idea if I should be washing the gunk off of him and how I might go about that. I avoided it for a while and picked the crispy bits of womb lining out of his perfect hair as best I could. He was eventually washed for first time at a week old by a lovely member of the maternity ward team who talked me through top and tailing. I still had no idea how to give him an actual bath so I just didn’t, for weeks. I’m still not 100% sure but if you’re concerned I hope you find comfort in the fact that it isn’t just you.
 

7. Dressing your baby 

How do you get those tiiiiny little vests over the head of a baby with zero muscle control? (Answer – you put the head hole under the back of their head and pull it gently over the top). As silly as it sounds, no one ever told me or showed me and I had not slept much so how was I to know? It took me a week to figure it out – luckily I have a summer baby. He lived in fully poppered sleepsuits most of the time. Also, everyone kept telling me I needed a going home outfit for him and that is a lie. I needed a clean sleep suit for him to go home in. I did pack an outfit but he was too tiny and I didn’t care one bit, I just wanted to get home.
 
I’m sure I’ve missed some because… well because my son is two and my brain is mush from all the parenting. As a bonus, I asked my husband what he wished he’d known. Apparently he’s quite traumatised. Here is his list:
 

Labour is terrifying

Seeing your partner in labour, in that much pain and not being able to help is awful. Seeing them in theatre and having to hold it together when you’re worried you might lose the woman you love and your child is the scariest thing. 
 

Babies are terrifying

How do you hold them with out breaking them? How do you change nappies? Dress them? Undress them? Put them in the carseat? Pick them up? Put them down? HOW?
 

The weight of the world is terrifying

Your partner just made a small human. She is in no position to do anything much so you’ve just gone from being responsible for yourself to being responsible for you, your wife and your baby… and all of the cooking and cleaning. Two weeks in and you have to work again. It’s a massive adjustment to make and it can be a little overwhelming.

The soft spot is terrifying

Every time you touch the soft spot you think you’ve hurt your child. Absolutely. terrifying. 

 


If you liked this you may enjoy reading…

harriet labour
 
 
sarah birth story
 
tongue tie
 
We are linking up to some of these amazing blog linkies!
 
Mummies Waiting

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

 

Cuddle Fairy

Harriet’s Labour Story – There’s a Time and a Place to Die… This wasn’t it.

This is the first part to the journey and story- Of your entrance into the world. I am struggling to write the second half at the moment, but I am sure that will be easier once I have had my ‘Birth Afterthoughts’ session.

Share

Hello, Flo.
This is the first part to the journey and story- Of your entrance into the world. I am struggling to write it all down- even after I had my ‘Birth Afterthoughts’ session.
Anyway,
My labour story starts on the Sunday before your due date, the 31st January 2016 at around 5:30 In the evening. I thought that I would make your Daddy a lovely dinner of bacon macaroni cheese from scratch. I had spent all day cleaning, but something was up. I decided to call the Maternity ward at the William Harvey Hospital because I couldn’t feel you move and it had been that way since I had woken up! This wasn’t the first time, but the forth time you’d decided to do this. I think you secretly liked making mummy worry about you! I texted your Grandma, who came straight away to take me to hospital so we could get you checked over.
Unlike every other time that I had to go in for monitoring for your reduced movement, you didn’t start wiggling away the minute you’d heard the machine monitoring pads being put on to my tummy. Despite this, you were doing well, your heart rate was spot on with a beautiful variance and pattern. After about 15 minutes I could feel you moving and that made me feel so much happier!
However, I wasn’t doing quite so well… I had proteins in my wee, a raised pulse and high blood pressure and a headache that had lasted several days- The Midwife decided to do blood tests to make sure all was okay (little did I know this would be the first of many, many needle wounds over the next two weeks!) Two midwives tried to take my blood but failed, so they sent off for a Doctor… I have always had rubbish veins! Grandma and I joked about how, if I begged them enough they might induce me (as after months of SPD and spinal disc issues, I was in lots of pain!)
Shortly after this, I moved from the ‘Maternity Day Care Ward’, to the ‘Folkestone Ward’ because the Maternity day care unit was closing for the day! The Midwife there told me that I should expect to stay- but that it would probably just be for the one night for further monitoring. Grandma left shortly after, to help your Daddy pack my short stay night bag.
Around 30 minutes after she left, I overheard a Doctor talking to a Midwife.. She said about a lady on the ward who “had a few episodes of reduced movement and has now been diagnosed with preeclampsia” and so needed to be moved to the ‘Labour Ward’ induction room. So it would be safer for her and her baby if she was to be induced. ‘She’s a lucky lady!’ I thought to myself, as it was just 2 days away from your due date and I couldn’t wait to meet you! The Midwife and Doctor then came around to see me and told me that I had preeclampsia. OH MY GOSH! It was me that they were sending around to the labour ward to be induced!
“Harriet, my lovely- I think it’s time we start trying to get this little lady to make a move, what do you think about meeting your baby soon?” The Midwife said as she walked me across to the labour ward.
I had Induction room ‘A’. It was far too hot (the fan was broken and with hormonal hot flushes, this was a personal hell for me)… But it was a step closer to holding and meeting my sweet baby girl! I texted your Daddy and Grandma to say I was going to be induced and therefore would need all of your baby stuff and my hospital bag. While I waited, another Midwife came to see me and told me that she could start induction whenever I was ready. I asked if I could have a bath and she told me that it is an excellent idea to enjoy a freshen up before induction commences as it can be an uncomfortable process.
Your Daddy came at about half past ten, baring all of your baby bits, my hospital bags and most importantly (at that moment in time) my toiletries- I couldn’t wait to wash my hair! I had a bath, got dried and told the Midwife at the desk that I’d be in my room waiting as I was ready to be induced!
The Midwife came and she put us on a monitor for half an hour before she started the induction. You were still wiggling about and had the perfect heart rate, so she went on to inserting a pessary. It was awfully uncomfortable when it was being put in and even more painful to keep in for a whole 24 hours. We were monitored every 3 hours and with the room being stifling hot, I got no sleep. NO SLEEP (and Daddy complained about being tired?!?)
 At 6am there was a staff change over, I was introduced to a new Midwife called Louise and a student Midwife called James. Before I met James, I was so unsure about student and male midwives, but he COMPLETELY changed my opinion through being courteous, kind, patient and friendly.
Grandma came back at 10am the next morning after taking Uncle D to school- It was now the 1st Feburary. She brought flapjacks, juice, fruit and even some cheeky Malteasers to keep my energy up! She also made me walk around the hospital several times to get you moving… clockwise, anti-clockwise, outside, out to a&e, to the cafe, to the shop and up and down the stairs. I can’t even remember the total number of people I bumped into, old friends, customers- you name it! All whilst in my Pyjamas, great!
I started to get contraction pains at around 2pm, which got worse until I had to breathe carefully just to get through the pain- I really thought things were going to go quickly from there on and you’d be in my arms soon! Alas- It got to 10pm, I’d had the pessary In for 22 and a half hours and I hadn’t got any further into my labour. My cervix remained flat and hadn’t dilated in the slightest. I felt like a complete wimp, I was in so much pain and it had been for nothing so far. It made me hysterical about the pain that was to come. I was disappointed in myself and my body for not doing what it needed to do.
In time, it turned out that the pain was down to an allergic reaction to the pessary, and my cervix trying to do what it needed to do in the warm up to labour. Because of this, the Midwife decided against a second pessary (Thank goodness!) and told me I’d have a gel inserted after monitoring to see if that got things going instead. At 11:30pm the pessary was removed and the gel was swiftly inserted. I was so relieved that the pessary had gone because it made me so sore. Even when removed it felt as if it was still in there- it made weeing agonising and sitting upright almost impossible! As I kept saying to Grandma ‘My foof felt like a hoof’ and it probably looked like one too (eww!)
The Midwife said the gel could be reapplied every 6 hours and that she’d see me every three to four hours for monitoring- Then see me for another lot of gel at 5:30 am (On the 2nd February). The pains got worse and closer together that night. I just about nodded off at 4:30am… but woke up to what I thought was you giving me a MASSIVE kick at 5:20am. I tried to go back to sleep but I felt strange, so decided I’d go to the toilet. When I stood up I felt a huge rush of liquid escape into my Pajama bottoms. LOVELY! I wasn’t sure what it was, so I went to the toilet and my biggest hopes (and fears!) were confirmed… My waters had gone!
I pressed the assistance buzzer and a (unusually unhelpful) Midwife came and quite literally threw a pad at me and told me “if it’s your waters, it’ll soak the pad” and that she’d be back soon to check what’s going on. I texted your Daddy and Grandma to tell them what was going on. Daddy was going to go to work as he’d just got a new job- I was going to get him to come up when he was needed as I was fine with just Grandma helping me. Who doesn’t want their Best Friend and Mummy there when they’re in pain?
Grandma arrived as they were helping me to pack up my induction room to move me to delivery room 6, she helped me change my clothes and walk over to the other room. I felt sick walking over there and the second I sat on the bed, I threw up.. Grandma skilfully caught (most of it) in three(!!!) bowls.
As I was Strep B positive, I needed IV antibiotics to keep you safe from the infection so they inserted a cannula in to my hand. As my hand was already black and blue from bruising after several failed blood test attempts, my body wouldn’t take the antibiotics. Because of this, a midwife squeezed the bag to see if she could force the antibiotics into my body- but all that did was cause my hand to expell an enormous amount of blood all over the fresh bed sheets.
I (used to) give blood so needles and cannulas aren’t a big deal to me, but that cannula was more agonising than most of my contractions. I cried and I begged them to take it out and move it to my other hand! Which they did after Grandma reasoned with them, as I was in floods of tears!
I was successfully hooked up to your antibiotics (with help from the ward’s top anesthesiologist), your monitor and my contraction monitor. Then handed the gas and air! (I giggled lots, they don’t call it laughing gas for nothing!) The hours passed as I slowly became more and more dilated, going from 2cm to 5cm to at ease. When it got to about 12 o’clock, your Grandma texted Daddy to come up to see me. Contractions were starting to get stronger and my back was agonising (with two prolapsed and one herniated disc considered I think I did well to be so brave!) so the midwife suggested having an epidural.
The same Anesthesiologist that successfully inserted my cannula had the joys of setting up my mobile epidural. Completely drunk on gas and air, I was raised on the bed towards the ceiling. I felt like someone from a scene in Alice in Wonderland. The area was cleaned and through contractions I was trying my hardest to stay still whilst a 4 inch needle was stuck into my spine. “If you don’t stay still, this could paralyze you” I heard a voice say. I was trying so hard to stay still, but I couldn’t! I held onto your Grandma and she held onto me – Trying to keep me still as I sat on the edge of the bed breathing through contractions must have been tough!
Success, it was in!
Then James and Grandma decided it was time to get me up to do a wee! I tried and tried but I just couldn’t go, so when I came back I had to have a catheter. James applied my catheter with ease. Your Daddy came soon after then, he offered me a fruit shoot but then drank it- helpful. Both Grandma and Daddy were trying to reassure me but for some reason, their pats on the back and strokes on the face infuriated me. James jokingly said that he could tell when I was having a contraction because I went from being lovely to being really grumpy (I did shout at Daddy and Grandma to tell them not to touch me!)
Contractions turned from stomach cramps to awful back pain, which honestly really made me feel like I needed to do a poo. So James checked how dilated I was, he guessed at around 8cm but Louise checked again and said I was at 10cm. It was time to listen to the rhythm of my body and push. I was going to have you in my arms so soon! Louise left for her lunch, jokingly telling me that she hopes to see my baby when she gets back.
I wanted to touch your head as you started your journey into the world. I wanted you straight onto my bare chest for lovely skin to skin, having your cord cut at an optimum time, a physiological third stage. I was going to really bond with you, in turn stimulating my milk production so I could breast feed you until you are one and a half. That was my plan. I wanted all of that. I wanted it so much. We were going to do it all and I was so excited to see if you looked like a ‘Florence’, I secretly had my heart set on your name for so long.
Following James’ and Grandma’s instructions, I pushed every time my body told me I needed to. The first 30 minutes of pushing I wasn’t putting anywhere near enough effort into it- I don’t really know what I expected? Like you would come out if I pushed gently? I mean it hadn’t been as hard as I expected it would be so far? Maybe I could get away with it and no one would notice? NO! Grandma noticed AND James noticed AND you still weren’t here.
Louise came back and told me that the lady in the next room had just had her baby after 25 minutes of being on the ward, “it was a breeze!”… She made it clear that I had to push harder and her firm but fair voice took over from James’ instruction. Your Daddy stroked my arm. I spent 15 minutes PROPERLY pushing, with all of my might. Determined to get you here. Thoughts were circling in my head, like; I want her now. I really want my baby girl. I love her so much. Will she be a Florence? Will I miss my bump? This hasn’t been too bad so far!
“Harriet, shes crowned, we can see her head!” exclaimed the Midwives and Grandma.
Then everything started to look funny. Everything looked grey, cloudy and felt like I was watching myself on television. I assume, that I though I was overwhelmed.
“Harriet, do you want to feel her head?” asked Grandma. “No” I replied. “Are you sure?” she said. I didn’t reply. “One more push and she’ll be here” said Louise and James…
As you quite literally FLEW out at such a speed that James, had to literally catch you.
He placed you on my chest. I held you close. I looked at your little face.
It all started to go very wrong, very quickly. I had no idea of the events unfolding as I lost consciousness after a rupturing a main artery, causing what was described as a massive hemorrhage.
Everything blanked.
I looked up and saw blood on the wall, I said to your Grandmim “Take a picture of the blood on the wall, it’ll make (your Uncle) G faint and it will be funny!”
Everything blanked.
“Harriet, you’re not going to be able to have a physiological third stage, we need to get your placenta out quickly”
Everything blanked.
“Can you sign this please, Harriet? We need to take you to theatre…”
“But I don’t think I can’t write my name?”
Everything blanked.
“You’re not doing too well lovely, you’ve lost a lot of blood…”
“But I can smell washing powder?” (Who in the right mind has this as a key focus when they have just given birth to a beautiful baby girl?!)
(This next part is so hard to write, because for the most of it- I wasn’t conscious. The session that I had at Birth Afterthoughts, has helped me fill in some of the gaps and your Grandma has helped with the rest!)
A long blank covered the vast amount of the next eight hours.
There are so many things that are hazy and things that I couldn’t remember but would have loved to treasure forever. Like; Your Daddy, cutting your cord. Hearing your first cry. Seeing your beautiful face for the first time. Holding you in my arms for your first breaths. Your first moments in this world. That tiny bit of initial skin to skin that we actually got together.
I’m pretty sure that you were very happy and contented being safe and warm in the womb and that’s why you were being stubborn on your way out! During the time that it took for your head to crown and for you to Fly out into James’ arms, your tiny, little yet very robust body caused a 2nd degree tear.
This fairly minor tear (somehow) managed to rupture a main artery. So in the time that I delivered you, to when you were in my arms- my blood had started to pool. Flowing out of me, covering the bed and the floor around where our bed stood. Grandma and your Daddy were so wrapped up in the moment, that they had not yet realised what was unfolding around them.
Grandma noticed James and Louise (Both of our Midwives) looking concerned and pointing to something on the floor. I can imagine at around this point, the emergency cord was pulled.
My blood loss was increasing and becoming more uncontrollable as my consciousness plummeted. You were removed from my chest and passed to Grandma.
Dozens of people started to flood into the room. A man introduced himself and quickly began trying to stitch and fix me up. But that obviously didn’t quite do the trick. Grandma then needed to help undress me for theatre, so you were quickly passed to your Daddy.
I was asked to sign a piece of paper, but I couldn’t even remember how to write my name. It was explained that I couldn’t have a physiological third stage and I agreed. After I had my nose stud and clothes removed to go to theatre, I was rushed out of the room. Just as I was rushed out, I caught sight of Irene, a friendly face, that I hadn’t seen in years. This made me feel slightly more relaxed. I have been told that I was hurried along a corridor and taken straight into emergency theatre.
Unlike lots of other things that I am almost thankful that I can’t remember- I can remember most of the agonising rummaging that went on, to repair the tear and stop me bleeding. I wish I could say that I couldn’t feel it, but I could. I begged for more pain relief and was given another epidural and then later, I believe a spinal block was administered too. I understand that the rummaging was vital in putting me back together but experiencing what felt like two big hands squeezing my internal organs was horrific. 
Grandma – “In the meantime, Florence had squeezed out a massive meconium poo into the soft warm towel she was wrapped in! I started to go through Florence’s hospital bag to pick out her nappy stuff and an outfit, she couldn’t stay in a towel the whole time you weren’t there! I found a cat sleepsuit, Tom and I decided that this would be perfect for her first outfit.”
 
There was a man with his laptop in theatre, I don’t remember why, but I remember him being there. A lady with short hair, in scrubs with her hair net, held my hand as I sobbed and looked up at the blood on the ceiling. I looked up at my blood pressure and the systolic reading blared a hazy ’62’ at me, before I slipped out of consciousness again.
Grandma- “Florence kept crying, I knew that she was hungry and that she couldn’t wait until you came back to have milk. The midwife said that she would try and get your consent before giving Florence formula. She asked us what type of formula we wanted to give Florence- I didn’t have a clue, because I knew how much you wanted skin to skin and to breastfeed your baby. In the end I chose SMA as all of my children had SMA with no problems. I thought it was best to stick with what we knew.”
In that time period where I was unconscious and memory is a mix of non existent and hazy. I remember that I couldn’t stop shivering. I shivered so relentlessly, for so long that my jaw, arms and chest ached for over two weeks. The recovery team asked if I could stop shivering so that they could get my pulse and my temperature, but I simply couldn’t- I believe it was around this time that I had to have a arterial line inserted. I was given three units of blood and one unit of plasma. I had consented to my baby being fed formula, with a few words despite being unconscious and not remembering any of it.


Grandma – “The midwife rushed in and said to put the baby down, you need to come with me immediately. It was then that they said your condition was critical. The surgeon said that it wasn’t looking great, he didn’t know what way you were going to go and he gave you 50/50 for pulling through. I came to see you but could only get as far as your feet, there were so many people, cables, wires, drips and machines. You were white. So white. Your veins had started to look like pinpricks and blue dandelions as they had started to shut down through a lack of blood.”
I don’t remember anything else for a very, very long time.
Eventually, my Grandma brought you to me and placed you by my cheek. I don’t remember this, but I truly believe that this contact with my baby girl- even though I was unconscious brought me back from the brink. People would have come and gone, observations were made. Specialists visited. My recovery team sat by my side.
Then, something clicked. Like a flash. I was still shivering and I was beyond exhausted. But all I wanted was my baby, oh and I wanted orange juice. I really wanted orange juice. I had been monitored and nursed, quite literally back from death. I continue to beg for water because I knew that if I could drink by myself, I would be on my way to being better for my baby.
One of the recovery crew looked like my Grandpops. After I had come round, he promised me he’d sneak me a cup of tea if I promised him I’d keep fighting to get better. Him and the nurse with the short hair from theatre, held a cup and straw as I almost literally consumed my weight in water. They held my hand and offered reassuring pats on the arms and stroked my head as I fell in and out of consciousness.
Grandma- “Tom went to get us both food as we were both starving. I sat and cuddled with Florence. I cried. I promised that I’d always be there to love and look after her. I told her that we could go to Disneyland when she’s bigger. We were forced to consider, contemplate and plan in case Florence had to live her life without you. It was horrific. Completely awful.”
 
I lay in recovery with my recovery team for a few more hours as people came to check on my bleeding, progress and consciousness hourly. I was feeling freezing and totally petrified of starting to shiver again, so the man who looked like my Grandpops did a blanket round up for me and I lay there snug under 8-10 blankets.
He grabbed me a cup of tea so that it would be cool enough for me to drink after a specialist had checked me over. He came back with a slice of cake too and said that if I’m well enough, he might even give me his… Sadly after the observations I was well enough for fluids (so hell yes, give me that tea!) but too poorly for my cake, so I made him promise to eat it, enjoy it and tell me how nice it was. Which he didn’t because he felt too mean. Bless him!
I sat in recovery for at least another couple of hours. My recovery team started to try and help me to sit more upright, they did everything and anything they could to make me comfortable. Grandma brought you in to see me, this time I was actually able to hold you but this lovely encounter was cut short by my need to rest.
A senior male midwife was called to check up on my bleeding and labeled it as very heavy, but being a lady with PCOS I was very familiar with very heavy bleeding and this wasn’t very heavy to me at all, so a lady was called in and asked to check it out and also agreed that the blood loss was of a fair amount but certainly not very heavy.
A little more time passed, I had a final check and was wheeled out of recovery and back onto the labour ward. After I said a very emotional goodbye to my recovery team.
I had returned to my room on the labour ward for no more than half an hour, when my midwife- James’ noticed that temperature and pulse started to really rocket. I had a sample of blood taken, that was examined and eventually revealed that I had sepsis. For the second time in 24 hours, I was fighting my life. I was placed on IV antibiotics and as many layers were removed from me as possible to keep me cool.
Grandpa and Uncle D managed to get on the ward after Grandma was told my Direct family could see me after all that had happened. I just lay there as they met you, too exhausted to even function. Grandma then took the first picture of us as a family.

At around 10:30pm your Grandparents cuddled and kissed us goodbye and went on their way home. Grandpa had a day full of meetings about my D’s future education as he is on the autistic spectrum and with Grandma having been with me since 7am, they were both completely exhausted and very deserving of a rest.
Daddy spent some time with us – so we could just be us,  our little family. A nurse came in to help me with skin to skin and to show me how you should latch on to my breast so that I could try to begin with breast feeding.

We decided that we wanted you to be called Florence. Florence as in ‘Florence Nightingale’. We drafted our birth announcement. Sadly Daddy had to go as he had cold symptoms and didn’t want to pass them onto us. You were placed in a crib next to my bed and you fell asleep.
My catheter was removed and I was told that if I went for a bath, I could go onto the Folkestone ward and that we’d be able to go home in no time. I wanted to be at home. I didn’t want to be in hospital. This was going to be my 3rd night. I started to try and stand up, to make my way to the bathroom- but I couldn’t. I wasn’t strong enough.
You woke up and started screaming. You wouldn’t stop crying. I couldn’t get to get up and help you. I was helpless. I was useless. Healthcare workers popped their head round the door and asked me why you were crying – as if I could have just jumped and sorted it out myself.
A student midwife came in and introduced herself, she was called Florence too! She was very lovely, helped me out of bed, helped me to walk over to Florence and even changed your nappy. A healthcare assistant helped me gather my bits for a bath and off I went. Midwife Florence passed you on to another midwife who cradled you whilst I sorted myself out.
In hindsight, I needed a loved one with me. I needed someone to sit with you whilst I bathed the blood, sweat, tears and everything else off of my half-dead, aching body. I needed someone to hold my hand. It was horrendous. I had the most agonising bath of my life. Whilst I could hear my new born baby screaming from the corridor in the arms of a total stranger. Every one of my stitches stung. I felt like my insides were going to fal out. Tears rolled down my eyes, but I had to do it, I had to be healthy so that we could go home. When I got out of the bath, it looked like a murder scene. I dried myself, put on pjs and walked back over to my room.
As I was crossing the corridor, a midwife came over and said “as you’ve managed to bath yourself, we think it’s time for you to go back onto the Folkestone ward”. They barely even helped me pack up my things before wheeling my possessions and my bed over to the Folkestone ward. I pushed you in your cot, with a tear dropping down my face for every step I took. It was agonsiging. 
I was placed on a high dependency bay opposite the midwives’ mess and reception desk, surrounded by Mums who had all had c-sections (all of which I watched leave over the next two days).
You didn’t stop crying that night, probably because you were starving and my breasts couldn’t fulfil your hunger in the way the bottle did. Every time you cried, you woke up another baby on the bay. Every time another baby cried, you cried. You cried so much that the midwives took you away so I could have a break, which made me feel like a failure of a mother.
For the hour or so that you were had gone, I tried to express milk from my breasts whilst sobbing. Sobbing and sobbing. I had never felt so scared or so alone. It was about 3 in the morning now, on the 03/02/16. I’m just glad that I didn’t know then, that through the whole of my (almost 2 weeks collectively) hospital stay, this feeling wouldn’t let up.
I had done something so amazing and given birth to the most perfect, beautiful, healthy little girl. Yet, I felt like because my body was coping so badly I didn’t deserve you in the slightest.
The hour that you were gone, felt like weeks. I hadn’t had many conscious moments without you inside my tummy and kicking. I had tried so hard to expresss, but nothing was coming. The midwife brought you back in and you latched onto my breast again. She reassured me that you were getting plenty and that I would be able to fulfil your hunger. She gave me three large pans to fill and told me that when I had filled them, we could go home. I decided that I would save my wees to make everyone count, as the stitches made wearing very painful!  
The hours passed and it slowly became the more acceptable half of morning, I had sat there for hours trying to feed you, settling you and staring at your perfect face. 
The breakfast rounds came around and I had my usual banana with porridge and a cup of tea. I needed as much nutrition as I could get so that I could feed you. 
The hearing checks were done. Your little ears were strong and perfect. Your hips were checked. Every little limb was beautifully formed and effectively placed. You had a heel prick – they were sure to check your thyroid as I’d always had problems, but nothing.
Like all Mummies, I was in awe of you – You were and always have been perfect. 
The bounty lady came around to take your photos. She positioned you with ease whilst I watched, terrified that you’d break. She said you were beautiful and that you looked like me. I had never felt so proud. 
I had painkillers but they weren’t enough. I had to have an anaesthetist ultra-sounding my arm every time I had a blood test or a drip put in place. You had your Strep B checks. I was relieved that you were fine.
I cuddled you. I kissed you. I stared at you. I was in wonder at you. I chose your 2nd outfit. I changed your nappy. I held your little hands. I tried to feed you again. You became everything. You were everything. You are my everything. 
The surgeon from the day before, came to see me during his time off. He said that he was amazed at how lovely, friendly and polite I was despite not even being fully conscious and that he was so pleased that I managed pulled through. It had got to close to me fading away and he was so pleased to see me with my baby. 

You fell asleep, so I decided to be brave and go for my first wee. I really hope that you never have to experience that pain. I was glad I held on though, because the longer you hold on- the more diluted your wee becomes, which means it stings less. HURRAH! 
When I came back, Grandma was in our little cubicle. I ate my breakfast and chilled out with her and you. I texted your Daddy and asked him to visit and whilst we waited, I braved going to the shower, but god did that hurt! 
Our student midwife, James – came to see us and to say how pleased he was to see me looking as well as I did. He congratulated me and stayed for a while to chat. It felt so lovely to be so cared for by the team that saved my life. 
Lunched passed, Grandma Stayed- Nonna and Grandpops came to visit you. Then Daddy came and so did GrandNan and Grandad.  
A very noisy and rude lady was put into the bay to the left of us. She had as many visitors as she wanted at all times. She refused to move and wouldn’t do anything to help herself or her baby. She put on a voice when a medical professional was near and made awful comments about my difficulties with breast feeding. 
Daddy went, dinner came. It was my 2nd night with you. You screamed, you screamed and you screamed. My breasts were blue from trying to feed you constantly. My milk hadn’t even began to come in. The nasty comments from the lady in the next cubicle continued to roll in.
 My after birth pains started to come in. They were agonising. My stitches were hurting, I decided that I needed more pain relief so walked over to the midwives’ desk – to be told that I should have been receiving morphine every 4 hours and that they’d get some to me asap if I waited in my cubicle. 
I got very bad tummy pains whilst you were screaming and had to buzz for a midwife to hold you whilst I ran to the toilet. Instead of just agreeing to watch over you for a minute, she decided to try and argue with me about it. I got to the toilet and had the worst antibiotic, painkiller and after pains induced upset tummy imaginable. 
I came back to you in no time and the midwife who I had left to hold you, had settled you and popped you into your cot. You looked so perfect and calm as you slept, but very shortly you woke up and resumed your screaming. I felt so helpless and so worried for my little girl. 
The hours passed until it was about 6 in the morning. My nipples were bleeding and you were starving. I hadn’t slept in 4 nights aside for when I was unconscious. My milk still hadn’t come in. 
I buzzed for a midwife as I wanted help, to be greeted by the same midwife who had tried to argue with me the night before. She told me that I had essentially starved my baby and that only if I felt it was “completely necessary” would she give me any formula. 

I begged her for a bottle for and fed you. Instantly your upset stopped. I was pleased that something so simple was behind your upset but felt so upset that my body couldn’t feed you. I raised my concerns that you were looking a little yellow, but was told that you were fine – so I tried not to worry. 
Grandma came in and sat with us so that I could finally sleep. When she arrived, I was so stressed that I physically couldn’t sleep, until she covered my head with a blanket to shut out the light and I quite literally passed out. I woke up and went for a shower. She was a total life saver that day. She told me that Grandpa and your uncles would be coming that evening to see you and I got really excited. 
I was full of love for you but I felt so alone. Grandma had so much to do but visited as much as she could. None of my friends visited and Daddy didn’t visit often either.
The woman in the next bay had visitors come and go and recounted my difficulties to every single guest, as I sat there behind the curtain sobbing. I felt like a failure. She not only had her own family to visit, but several friends and their children outside of visiting hours. 
Daddy came to visit and came bearing disposable bottles of formula but had to go back home as he was still unwell. 
Grandpa and your uncles turned up to visit, but just as they stepped into our bay – a midwife said that Uncle D couldn’t come in as he wasn’t my child. I tried to explain that the other lady had everybody and anybody that she wanted to visit, but I couldn’t get the words out through fits of tears. Grandpa and Uncle D were sent into the corridor so that Uncle G could see you and then they could swap. 
I had a plan set out in my head and because Uncle D is autistic I knew just how important it was for him to meet you and understand you. I was just so heartbroken that I got picked on for this when nobody else did. I had such a rubbish time and quite frankly missed my baby brother so much that it hurt. I calmly left you in Uncle G arms in our cubicle and went to see Grandpa and Uncle D. I very quickly became very hysterical. I sobbed into Grandpa’s arms whilst he told me that he loved us and that it was okay. 
Our student midwife James walked by and explained that I was feeling the way that I was because of hormones – I had been on a 10 month high on the most wonderful hormones whilst pregnant and afterwards is just a massive emotion-filled hangover. He let me wheel you out of the bay into the corridor so that we could spend time together. Grandpa walked us back to my bed and we chatted. He gave me a big hug and completely reassured me that it would all be okay and that the pain would pass. He gave me a massive bar of galaxy and then had to go as visiting hours were over. 
You were fast asleep and as they left I ate the whole big bar whilst I sobbed about how pants everything had been so far. I continued trying to pump, but still no milk. 
The lovely Irene came into see me and managed to get us on a list to get our own room so that Uncle D could visit, so that all the other babies and Mummies would be able to sleep and so that I could stop being tormented by the other mummy next to me. 
Half way through the next day, we were moved to our own room. My infection levels were still very high. Mummy’s friend Laurie sent her sister in with a massive box of chocolates to cheer me up, as she worked at the hospital. 
We had our own space. I finally could use the toilet or shower without cringing. You were sleeping. I felt calmer. I could have anybody to visit at any time. Which meant that Grandpa could visit more frequently as he finished work late.

As your Daddy started to feel a little better, he could come and see us a little more. He got you more formula as my milk still hadn’t come in and continued to fetch me more supplies. Your GrandNan made me a fruit salad and brought it in- which was delightful, I was starving! 
My veins became so damaged that a 20 minute antibiotic drip went from taking 2 hours to taking 4. I had over 50 different pin pricks, I was covered in nasty bruises. But I had you. 
 
 
 
 

You were referred to a paediatric doctor for jaundice, as the first midwife that I saw blatantly had no idea about it. You only had physiological jaundice but this went away with sunlight and lots of milk; we had your levels halved in only two days. 
The days passed and my milk still didn’t come in. We saw a breastfeeding expert who confirmed that you latch was fine, but still I produced nothing. Nobody explained why. I still felt useless. 
Still- no friends came to visit, Daddy couldn’t come often and you were asleep a lot of the time. I didn’t feel confident enough (very unlike me!) to express my want for people to be around more, not even to your Daddy – so it got very lonely, but just looking at you got me through. I fell in love with everything about you- your windy smile, your yawn, your stetching, even your cute little windypops! 
I’m so thankful for the amazing medical professionals who kept me alive- who made me better, who were quick to diagnose my sepsis and who took strep b seriously. The people who went above and beyond their roles – like Irene, James, Louise, my recovery team and the surgeon. Their compassion helped me through the toughest part of my life. Whenever needed, they were there. I can’t thank my family – our families – enough and the friends who were on the other side of a phone for me. My Mummy, your Grandma was our hero. I cannot put into words how amazing I think she is. I don’t know where we’d be without her. 
Then came home time. I wanted to come home so much. We were promised the Friday, but I was still too sick. It was confirmed that I had contracted sepsis through being strep b positive. God, was I so thankful to be the one who was made sick by strep b and not you. SO THANKFUL.  
You were thankfully discharged and deemed perfectly health to go home on that Friday! Then came the Saturday… and nope. I was still too sick. Then on Sunday, Irene managed to push our discharge and we could finally go home.  
I had my shower and we got all packed up. I was given a mountain of drugs to keep up to speed with.  We waited a few hours, then just like that, we were free to return to the comfort of home and take you to the place where you’d learn to feel your safest.
We could finally be a little family and I was so excited for that to happen. 
 
So that’s it… that’s how you made it into this world- my precious, beautiful and incredible miracle. 
xxx