A New Mummykind Baby!

My baby arrived a couple of weeks ago so I thought it would only be right to introduce her to our followers with a bit of a “life update” after so many pregancy posts (and more to come from my drafts folder that need a bit of polishing up!)

As you may have noticed I don’t share the name of my son online and the same goes for my daughter, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have some gorgeous pictures of the new baby Martin.

She arrived when I was 41+3, weighing in at an eye watering 9lb8oz which might not have been so bad if she didn’t pop an arm out at the same time as her head. Not cool little lady, not cool.

We have been spending the days breastfeeding pretty much non stop, as she rather unsurprisingly has a tongue tie and tires easily when feeding. Getting used to life as a family of four has seen a handful of fairly small challenges so far, we’ll see how it is when the oldest starts school next month!

Keep an eye out for my labour and birth story and a backlog of pregnancy posts including: packing my hospital bag, why I decided against a home birth and how I handled my late term pregnancy.

If you liked this you might enjoy…

Sarah's birth story

Why I’m harvesting colostrum at 35 weeks

I haven’t told all that many people that I am antenatally expressing my colostrum (first milk) into tiny little syringes but I am and I am actually pretty proud of myself at the moment (even though my running total is 1.5ml at the time of writing).

I haven’t told all that many people that I am antenatally expressing my colostrum (first milk) into tiny little syringes but I am and I am actually pretty proud of myself at the moment (even though my running total is 1.5ml at the time of writing).

So why am I doing it?

Tongue tie

Primarily, I decided to do this because I have a tongue tie, my son has a tongue tie and so do several members of my immediate family who have subsequently had issues breastfeeding. There is very real risk that this baby will have a tongue tie as well and having a supply of milk that she doesn’t need to work so hard for could buy us some time to get it sorted.

When I was pregnant with my son four years ago I had no idea that I could save this stuff and that it could be even remotely useful. As it happens, the reason babies can survive on so little before your normal milk comes in after a couple of days is because colostrum is high in sugar, fat and calories. It really is amazing stuff and I want my baby to have it even of it can’t come direct from the source right away.

Allergies

At 2 days old, between phototherapy lights for jaundice and having my boobs manhandled by several midwives a day because I wasn’t “feeding right” I was coerced into feeding my son a bottle of cows milk formula because “his blood sugar must be low and he’s too exhausted to feed” even though frequently falling asleep at the breast before finishing a feed is a tongue tie symptom that should have been spotted by these experienced professionals. He promptly threw up pretty much the entire feed and we were back to square one. Now, I have no real evidence to back up this theory but part of me believes that if I hadn’t been guilt tripped into giving that bottle of formula my son might not have developed an allergy to milk. Tiny little babies aren’t designed to break down such complex proteins. If there is even the smallest chance that I can avoid this baby going through what my son still suffers I will take it.

Being in tune with my body

Last time I didn’t know what my body was capable of so I didn’t trust it and I didnt work with it, I possibly even worked against it. I remember being told to just express a bit of milk by hand onto a spoon or something and I just didn’t really know how to handle my breasts effectively (sounds daft, right?) so I didn’t get anything out.

I did go on to pump breastmilk a little and learn how/when it was best to do that and what my breasts responded to and what they didn’t but it was slow progress with a lot of sore nipples and heartache. It was also nearly four years ago.

Being prepared like this, knowing what my body can do and understanding some of my limits is making me feel stronger as I head towards full term and much more confident that my body can take care of my baby.

Recovering from trauma

I haven’t talked too much about the trauma of my son’s birth and the weeks that followed it. They somehow manage to be both the best and worst weeks of my life and unfortunately a lot of the happiness is still shrouded by simmering anger. I have been working hard to turn that angry energy into positive progress throughout my pregnancy and expressing my colostrum is surprisingly therapeutic. All the knowledge and experience I gained from being let down over and over with my first child is being channelled directly into making more informed choices this time. Any bitterness I felt towards my boobs for letting me down (yes, that’s a thing and yes, I know it’s silly) is melting away now I can see how well they are already working for my unborn child.

If I am separated from my baby at birth

No one wants to think about some of the things that could go wrong during labour and childbirth or unexpected complications with mother or baby that result in separation at birth but sometimes it does happen. If I am unable to attend to my baby’s needs for whatever reason then I know she will have a little stock of my milk to get her through for a little while, packed full of my antibodies to protect her in this big scary world.

Gestational diabetes

Now, I don’t have gestational diabetes but it definitely deserves a mention here! If a mother has GD then there is a risk that her baby’s blood sugar could drop rapidly once they are born. Having expressed colostrum on hand means baby will be able to get the sugar they need quickly without the need for formula milk.

If you liked this you might enjoy…

Can you breastfeed a baby with tongue tie?
Allergy alienation
taking control of my second pregnancy

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!

Have you checked your lemons, melons or mangos? 

How many of us ladies can honestly say that we check ourselves out frequently? When did you last check? I know that we’re not quite as bad as the boys at checking ourselves… But I am very aware that I personally only ever used get round to doing it when I get reminded by online campaigns

CHECK. YOUR BOOBS png

As it is breast cancer awareness week, I thought i’d share my scare experience with our readers in the hope that it might encourage some of you to get checked out, if you’re having any breast related worries!

A few months ago, I finally made the big step in getting myself checked out after having a boobie scare. Why am I telling you lucky lot about it?! Because changes to our breasts honestly need to be spoken about more!

How many of us ladies can honestly say that we check ourselves out frequently? When did you last check? I know that we’re not quite as bad as the boys at checking ourselves… But I am very aware that I personally only ever used get round to doing it when I get reminded by online campaigns etc.

I saw the image above, on Facebook and decided that it was time to confront one of the changes I had noticed since having Florence nearly a year and a half ago. I knew that changes in your breasts and breast tissue was very common after large hormonal changes, like having a baby, but worried because I had a mark that looked like a cross between what these two lemons depicted…

Lovely I know,  but I have no time to blush when I’m here to inform! 

 

I called up my local doctors practice and asked for an appointment to discuss a concern I had with one of my breasts. I was told that as no female doctors were in and that there wasn’t a chaperone available, that I’d have to wait for the duty doctor to call me the following day and book me in, to see a lady. I said that as I was so concerned, I didn’t mind who I discussed my worries with but that I’d prefer to be checked over by a female when I came to practice.

Sure enough, the duty doctor called me the very next morning. I explained my worries over the phone and put me down for an appointment to see a lady doctor for less than an hour later. So off I went!

She asked me what my concerns where and tried to make me feel comfortable before instructing me to remove my upper layers and lye down on the examination table to be checked over. She checked my nipples, breast, armpits and even commented on how my glands felt perfectly normal.

The changes that I had been so worried about, was slight scar tissue, all caused by to me trying to breast feed and pump for almost two months with no supply. She told me that this was nothing to worry about but well worth getting checked out.

I am so relived that my scare was down to nothing more sinister and felt pleased that I had finally been brave enough to seek some help and advice for my worries.

The doctor explained how I could check myself and said that either in the shower, bath, lying or sitting down in bed whilst relaxed would be the perfect time to check myself and to try and do it as frequently as possible (but to aim for once a week!).

How do you check yourself? 

Strictly speaking, there is no right or wrong way to check your breasts. It is so important to know what your breasts usually look and feel like. Then you’ll be more likely to spot any changes quickly and get help from to your GP.

The NHS state that a good way check yourself is to “Look at your breasts and feel each breast and armpit, all the way up to your collarbone. You may find it easiest to do this in the shower or bath, by running a soapy hand over each breast and up under each armpit.
You can also look at your breasts in the mirror. Look with your arms by your side and also with them raised.”

So- when should we seek help or advice from a GP? If you experience any of the following symptoms make sure you book to see your GP as soon as possible…

  • a change in size or shape
  • a lump or area that feels thicker than the rest of the breast
  • a change in skin texture such as puckering or dimpling (like the skin of an orange)
  • redness or rash on the skin and/or around the nipple
  • your nipple has become inverted (pulled in) or looks different in any way.
  • liquid or any discharge that comes from the nipple without squeezing.
  • pains or pangs in your breast or your armpit
  • a swelling in your armpit or around your collarbone.

Any of these changes could be down to normal bodily hormonal changes like puberty, pregnancy, labour, breast feeding or menopause- but please, if anything is new or is worrying you, GET CHECKED OUT…

Useful links-

NHS information about Breast Cancer.
Breast Cancer Care Org

Thank you for reading!
(Please remember that you can never be too safe!)

10 Amazing Benefits of Babywearing

I thought I would be a good time to talk about the amazing benefits I’ve experienced as a babywearing parent. If you like the sound of any of this then you need to get yourself to your nearest sling library and take a look at the options available. Please ALWAYS make sure you follow the T.I.C.K.S guidelines shown at the bottom of the post. 

As International Babywearing Week draws to a close I thought I would be a good time to talk about the amazing benefits I’ve experienced as a babywearing parent. If you like the sound of any of this then you need to get yourself to your nearest sling library and take a look at the options available. Please ALWAYS make sure you follow the T.I.C.K.S guidelines shown at the bottom of the post. 

 

 

1. Settle that fussy baba

Week 1 of my son’s life was spent in hospital. Week 2 was a hellish nightmare of constant screaming. Week 3 my babywearing journey began after a friend leant me her Close Caboo sling and I was able to settle my little guy and keep hold of him without getting dead arms.  Newborns need a huge amount of closeness; they aren’t designed to go long without human contact so popping them into a sling is a great way of keeping them close and content. I’d highly recommend a stretchy wrap for a newborn because it’s soft, warm and ergonomic for their scrunched up little bodies.

2. Hands-free cuddles 

Once your baby has settled you can do crazy things like attend to basic human functions or even stretch to a bit of housework. For several weeks the only way I could feed myself, use the loo or do any washing up was by having little man in the sling. 

3. No more pram-induced invisibility 

There is a crazy phenomena that turns parents and their children invisible as soon as they touch a pushchair or pram. People just do not see you (I can’t be the only one who has experienced this?). The number of people who walk into me or straight towards my son’s pushchair is insane, I’m literally taking up twice the amount of space that other people take up, why can’t you see me? With a sling you can dodge in and out of crowds pretty well without people constantly sideswiping your pushchair. It’s really convenient in busy places.
 

4. Go off road!

Go for a walk in the woods. Climb steps. Paddle at the beach. The possibilities are endless because you can go anywhere your feet will take you without lugging a massive bit of kit around, just a little baby wrapped close to your body. Perfect. 

5. Sleepydust 

‘Sleepydust’ is a word that gets batted around the babywearing community a lot. It’s the magic that a sling has that just makes your kiddo fall asleep quickly and peacefully. Most slings have it and any child who is remotely tired will just conk out once they’re up. 
 

6. Get snuggly 

Babywearing is warm and comfy and most importantly it is an excellent way of bonding with your little one. That level of closeness helps keep you in tune with each other and is a great mood booster because cuddles = oxytocin.

7. No strollers allowed…

It’s not often this happens but there are some places that don’t let you take pushchairs or prams in with you. One place my family loves to visit is Sissinghurst Castle and Gardens (if you’re ever in Kent during the warmer months you have to go there!). They don’t let pushchairs in for conservation reasons and although they provide carriers at the ticket
office they are not the most ergonomic and the ones for toddlers are framed and bulky. Having our own soft structured carrier there makes our trips so much easier. 

 8. Work it mama!

Okay, we need to talk about the obvious benefit of carrying around the extra weight of a baby… think of all those calories burnt! If you’re looking to get a little leaner then this will help you along the way and if not just think about all the chocolate cake you can eat after a day out wearing your baby.

9. Sneaky bit of boob

If you’re breastfeeding then with a sling you can feed easily on the go and if you’re worried about discretion then you’ll love this – no one can see a thing! It’s great, I lost count of the number of times I’ve browsed shops with baby happily attached to the boob.

Please note, this is not a safe carrying position, I was just about to feed him.

10. Community Spirit

Something I was not expecting when I got my first sling was the amazing community that comes along with it – much like the cloth nappy community – the sling community is friendly, supportive and a great source of knowledge and experience. Join a Facebook group and get chatting to some likeminded parents.


If you liked this you’ll love:

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? 

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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.

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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

Can you breastfeed a baby with tongue tie?

At the clinic we were told that she had an anterior tongue tie. We had been positive it was posterior given that it went unnoticed for so long, but the severity of it was another example of how let down we had been by the health professionals. She could poke her tongue out, yes, but she could neither move her tongue side to side nor up and down. Her movement was that limited.

This is something I’ve balled my eyes out over. Not once, but what feels like a million times.
I never knew what a tongue tie was, until I had Olivia. Even then, it wasn’t a case of her not being able to feed from me and it being diagnosed straight away. Oh no, no, no… She was exclusively breastfed for the first 11 weeks of her life (I hate that it wasn’t even 3 months) and at that time everything changed.
You see, a tongue tied baby can breastfeed, and the longer they can manage it, the more they are exercising and stretching their frenulum – the little bit of skin holding the tongue to the base of the mouth. BUT it will get to a point where the movement is too limited to continue to be able to latch. What makes it more difficult is that the exercise and stretching, in my case, confused the health visitors and breastfeeding gurus/lactation consultants because Olivia could poke her tongue out… something which tongue tied babies aren’t supposed to be able to do.
At 11 weeks old, Olivia’s weight had already dropped twice the 2 weeks before, and there I was at the weigh in, confident that she had been fed much more regularly and must have put on weight this time. That all came crashing down in a split second. In the space of 3 weeks she had plummeted from being on the 75th percentile to the 0.9th. The health visitor looked at me. If you’ve experienced this you know that look. It was saying, “What have you been doing to your baby?” I broke down. I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t hold my baby. The guilt consumed me. I only wanted what was best for her. Why was MY milk not good enough to keep her growing?
And then she said it.
“Your baby needs formula.”
It all happened again. I couldn’t breathe. I nodded silently, sobbing uncontrollably.

If you’re a formula feeding mama by choice, maybe you won’t understand this… But my choice was to breastfeed her exclusively. I was against formula completely, I didn’t want to put her on it, I wanted her to have my breastmilk that my body had made specifically for her. I was proud of breastfeeding and there was never a doubt in my mind that I would breastfeed her for as long as I could. Until I couldn’t. The choice was taken away from me.

My daughter was starving.
Starving.
That’s the first time I’ve admitted it, you know. Before now my partner and mother in law have said it. I know that it happened but I couldn’t admit it. It added to my guilt. If she was losing weight why didn’t I put her on formula sooner? But the truth is I was blamed for the problem. It was thought to be because of her having a dummy, or because I had a routine with her and wasn’t feeding her on demand (even though I was).
Jamie (my other half) and his mum pleaded with me to give her a bottle for my own sanity too. I remember in particular she said I couldn’t have Olivia hanging off me 24/7. But they didn’t get it. I did everything to keep breastfeeding.
When she finally got diagnosed with a tongue tie, we were referred to a specialist clinic in London to have it snipped. She was 14 weeks and 2 days old. The oldest baby in the clinic. I had to lie about how much breastmilk she was having because for the NHS to snip the tongue tie the baby had to be almost exclusively breastfed. I hired a double breast pump and my GP put me on domperidone, an antisickness tablet with a side effect of lactation. But even that wasn’t enough to get my supply back up. For 6 weeks at that stage Olivia had either been not getting enough milk herself or had been having formula, and once the demand isn’t there, the supply isn’t either.
At the clinic we were told that she had an anterior tongue tie. We had been positive it was posterior given that it went unnoticed for so long, but the severity of it was another example of how let down we had been by the health professionals. She could poke her tongue out, yes, but she could neither move her tongue side to side nor up and down. Her movement was that limited.
At the clinic they told us we needed to massage the wound daily to stop it repairing, and that the babies weren’t to use any artificial teats. We should finger feed them instead with a nasal tube in their mouths like a straw. That was nonsense. Maybe it would have worked on a newborn baby for a mum whose supply hadn’t deteriorated like mine, but again I had to choose formula. I carried on breastfeeding and the first feed after the operation was amazing. I could tell the difference in her latch. I could see how hungry she was. And I took comfort in the fact that I had this perfect feed and that my milk was healing her wound.

Don’t get me wrong the operation itself was horrendous, but at least she could feed now. I wanted to go back to exclusive breastfeeding, but once your supply has virtually gone it is so hard to get it back. So she stayed on formula, and on the minute amount of breastmilk that I was able to give her.
One night she just stopped. She didn’t want it anymore. I don’t know how it happened, but it felt final and it was the last time she ever latched onto me for comfort in the night.
That was 5 months ago.
At 9 months old we ended our breastfeeding journey. And believe me there were A LOT of trials and tribulations along the way, but her tongue tie was the worst one of them. It broke me again and again. I felt guilty for such a long time, but I did everything I could and I’ve accepted now that formula and breastmilk made my baby girl grow from this….
To this…
I loved breastfeeding. I could never understand why you wouldn’t try, but sometimes you will end up formula feeding anyway. It still upsets me, but I know I can’t carry that guilt anymore.
That’s my breastfeeding story.

If you liked this you may enjoy reading…


My breastfeeding story

During my pregnancy breastfeeding was the only option I wanted for my baby, well for the first few months at least. My mum had bought me a steriliser, bottles, the teats, the bottle brush and although I was ever so grateful, in the back of my mind I thought “I want to breastfeed, so these won’t be useful… or at least not for a while.”

I wish I could say that breastfeeding worked for me but I can’t.
During my pregnancy breastfeeding was the only option I wanted for my baby, well for the first few months at least. My mum had bought me a steriliser, bottles, the teats, the bottle brush and although I was ever so grateful, in the back of my mind I thought “I want to breastfeed, so these won’t be useful… or at least not for a while.”

I watched the breastfeeding DVD to prepare myself and I attended a parent event where I spoke to two very lovely ladies who demonstrated with a woollen boob just how the baby would latch on. I found some different outfits to wear for breastfeeding and I even spoke to people to find out where I could breastfeed in town. I prepared myself for the odd person I was undoubtedly going to meet who would have a problem with my feeding  in public. How did other people deal with it? I read articles to find out. I knew it might be a bit difficult at first, but this was what I wanted and I was going to keep trying until it worked. I wanted to provide the milk for my baby and everyone I spoke to at that time had told me it was the best option for my baby.

My contractions started at a parent evening class on the Tuesday. I was too embarrassed to say anything because the lady running the group had joked that she’d “never had anyone go into labour at her pre-natal classes before”, and I was the silly sod who left it a week before my due date to attend the first class! I also attended the class on my own because for some reason, despite the fact it was called a ‘parent event’, it didn’t click in my head that my partner could come. I am going to blame the baby brain for that! I gave birth to my daughter on the Friday.
After giving birth to my daughter, despite feeling exhausted, (as I’m sure is the norm in that situation!), I had a new wave of energy and adrenaline.

This was it, I was going to do it. I was going to provide the food for my daughter.

The rest of that day we had a bit of trouble, but my daughter seemed to be latching on for short times. We were both just learning!

That first night though I must have had my finger permanently on the buzzer for the poor nurses. “I can’t do it.” It just didn’t seem to be working. The nurse would try to help me with the latch on each time. “You’ll get the hang of it.” “You’re tired.” In the end we were all getting a bit frustrated and the nurse thought she would try a premade bottle.

‘Hmmmm ok’, I thought, ‘just this once, just while I get the hang of it, but I don’t want her to get too used to the bottle.’I kept trying that day and as far as I was aware we were getting there.

That afternoon we were able to go home and me and my partner were full of excitement and adrenaline… we were mentally ready for this…
… but our daughter cried and cried and cried and cried.My partner sang to her, rocked her, we fed her, we played music, we even played womb sounds from YouTube.

Nothing was working.
By the early hours of the morning our confidence had been crushed in one foul swoop. The experience from that one night was enough to dampen our spirits for the next few months. We felt like absolute failures and we did the only last thing we could think to do at 2am in the morning and it was to phone for the cavalry. My partner’s mum came over, (I’m sure she was absolutely thrilled at that time of the day), and we were grateful that we weren’t alone because we thought clearly we can’t do this.
“She’s hungry,” she said.She can’t be, I thought. I’ve been feeding her constantly!

“We’re setting up the steriliser.” My partner and his mum proceeded to feed my daughter and I sat in the bedroom and sobbed, for what felt like hours. This isn’t what I wanted!

I’m pretty sure that what I was feeling that night was heart ache.
My partner then confirmed to me that she was feeding quite happily from the bottle. She was feeding from the bottle… but she couldn’t feed from me. This was obviously my fault. All I could think was that I was unable to do something that should have been the most natural thing in the world.
During those early weeks I was expressing milk slowly. I tried the nipple covers too but it just wasn’t happening. I had to accept it in the end that she would be bottle fed.
When my daughter was only a few weeks old we ventured out to some baby groups together. There were mums of course at the groups and they were breastfeeding. I felt embarrassed. I’d get the bottle out for my daughter and hide away somewhere to feed her. If someone saw me I felt I had to explain why I hadn’t been able to breastfeed… “My milk was slow in coming through.”
Looking back I think why on earth did I feel so embarrassed? It wasn’t a sign that I wasn’t looking after my child properly!
Over the next few weeks it came to light that as well as my milk being very slow, my daughter has a tongue tie which had been making it difficult for her to latch on.It wasn’t MY fault at all! It was no one’s fault.

In those early days you are just trying to do what is best for your baby. It’s all new and it’s all daunting, because you have this little person relying on you to understand what they need when they are crying and it can all feel a bit like trial and error.
I have the utmost respect for mums who breastfeed and I have the utmost respect for those who bottle feed. We are each going through our own parenting journey. We are the specialists in our own children’s needs.
Please go easy on yourself. You are doing the best you can and that’s all you can do.

Breastfeeding Blues

Initially I tried for almost 48 hours straight to breastfeed and had to beg a midwife for formula as my baby was screaming as she was so hungry. I continued to try for weeks and weeks. Pumping didn’t work and neither did feeding. I never got a ‘let down’, I don’t know what if feels like to have one.

Looking at my happy, healthy, strong and beautiful little girl, it’s hard to remember why I worried so much. My daughter is 18 months old, she’s 95th centile for height and 91st centile for weight. We couldn’t have a more incredible bond. I’ve struggled with Postnatal Depression- but I’ve always adored her and I know that she loves me too.
It’s breastfeeding week this week, and I’d be lying if I said I haven’t shed a few tears when reminded of the fact that I couldn’t breast feed my baby.
I was scrolling back through photos when a found this picture of Florence latching. I didn’t realise it had been taken, but seeing it soothes me and reminds me of how I tried my best. After a major artery was ruptured after a tear during labour I had a massive haemorrhage and lost around 66% of my total blood volume. I had to have a triple blood transfusion and a plasma transfusion but despite this, I was left very anaemic.
I was later diagnosed with sepsis due to complications of being strep b positive. When I wasn’t fighting for my life I was trying to feed my baby. My milk never really came in and due to my mother having to bottle feed my baby whilst I was in intensive care, my already almost non existent supply couldn’t match that of a whole formula feed.
Initially I tried for almost 48 hours straight to breastfeed and had to beg a midwife for formula as my baby was screaming as she was so hungry. I continued to try for weeks and weeks. Pumping didn’t work and neither did feeding. I never got a ‘let down’, I don’t know what if feels like to have one.
We started our journey trying so desperately to breastfeed, but this journey was cut painfully short due to circumstances out of my control. My heart still breaks about this, because after a difficult labour and pregnancy, it would have been lovely for something to work out!
A family friend who is a lactation expert came to see me a few months ago, we talked through it all and she tried to reassure me that I have no reason to feel so awful, I really did try my hardest and she truly believes that it would have been almost impossible for me to breast feed, given the circumstances such as fighting for my life, the medications I was on and other factors such as having an underactive thyroid and PCOS.
Some people don’t want to breastfeed and that is fine. Babies who are bottle fed still thrive… But I wanted this so much for my baby and it still hurts that I couldn’t even provide her with something as simple as my own milk.  Yes she is incredible and she is thriving, but every time I see someone else feeding their baby, I feel like a failure. I can’t help it, but that’s how I felt then and often how I often feel now. One day it might stop hurting, but for now it is still a very sore subject. My body physically couldn’t feed my baby. My body failed me and my baby. Without formula, my baby would have starved.
I’m sure that the colostrum and the action of poaching my daughter on my breast helped to lay the perfect foundation for our incredible bond, but formula, and my love, influenced our incredible girl to blossom so beautifully.
Don’t buy into the “Only 1% of women cannot breastfeed” … it is a load of crap. Think of the Mummies on medications, the Mummies who are mentally or physically unwell, or fighting for their lives through illness or after a traumatic labour. The babies born prematurely or with a tongue ties. This supposed statistic leaves far too many parents feeling inadequate or like failures and it isn’t okay!
Shout out to all mummies in the same boat who have ever felt inadequate because of feeding problems and complications. I completely feel your pain, this week and always.