We’re Still Here…

Well hello there!

I’ve been MIA for a while now and feel for the very few of you who read this, I should give you a little update on where we are at.

My health has been a little shady of late; Feeling over worked with a constantly crowded brain, I have recently found myself exhausted and letting rather a lot slide in all aspects of life. Turns out trying to run numerous social pages, a blog, raise a child, have a healthy, loving relationship, look for a house, handle the nagging desire for another baby, plan a wedding and have a ‘normal’ life is too much for one person to do at once – who knew, right!?

I’ve been unbelievably overwhelmed since joining my new job last June. As my first career-changing role since graduating a few years back and becoming a mother, I ploughed head first into what would become an all-consuming job. As workloads grew, I stopped doing the things I loved at home. Never, ever wanting this blog to slip, One Curious Mother has taken a very reluctant and unwanted back seat lately. With evenings spent barely awake and creative juices in serious short supply, I was brought back to examining why it was that I created One Curious Mother in the first place: to share the hidden wonders (and ailments) of first time parenthood, to document my journey through it and to, hopefully, help others too. I can honestly say, I feel I am meeting absolutely none of these objectives anymore. 

Needless to say, it was a welcomed moment when I realised that I didn’t need to wait for the ‘perfect moment’ and didn’t need to create just ‘pretty’ or, let’s face it, fake content. Thanks to this, I am now able to realign my focus to be on honest stories, asking & answering those curious questions we all have and helping build a community of ladies (or gentlemen) and babies who are looking for someone to say ‘hey, that happened to me’ or ‘WOAH I’m not alone in this anymore’. 

So what now? A solid promise for more communication and definitely more questions, to get back on track and look forwards, vowing to keep one foot firmly on the ground whilst doing so.

I hope you’ll stick around and join us on this journey and if there’s one thing I want you to remember is that you never have to feel alone!

Love to all,

OCM 💜

Separation Anxiety

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Learning to share something with someone else is an age-old lesson we are all taught as kids. You start off being taught to share your toys and your snacks then eventually your friends, your time and more than likely your family TV. By the time you reach mid-childhood you share pretty much everything – especially if you have siblings! By the time you hit your twenties you’re now The Queen (or The King) of sharing life so what actually happens now that you’re grown up and have a child of your own… How on earth are you supposed to know how to share an actual human child!? The very person you’ve waited so long to meet, that your body has grown and carried for 9 months, that you birthed in a long, intense and difficult labour; How do you learn to share your baby when it seems like everyone wants a piece of them?

After a traumatic labour and birth that was followed by a gruelling recovery, it has unfortunately become second nature to spend a portion of each day battling with the on going fear of ‘what if something goes wrong’. You feel your baby needs you to survive and that is the very thing that terrifies you when being apart – as a breastfeeding mother this is especially the case. You get nervous anytime you have visitors, you feel jealousy when someone else holds your baby followed by overwhelming guilt when you get handed them back but being without them is 100% out of the question.
‘Separation Anxiety’ is yet another thing I never expected to have to think about and wasn’t something I was generally aware of until the idea of being without my son left me with a terrifying gut-dropping feeling. The instant dread of not having him within arms reach consumed me: ‘How on earth would he survive without me‘ quickly spiralled into ‘But I’m breastfeeding him and expressing is hard and he sometimes only stops crying when I hold him and soothe him and what if he needs me and I can’t get there!?’ – this very nearly turned into serious hyperventilation. It was and sometimes still is very hard to try and see past my fears and get to a state of logical thinking.

When I began trying to ‘share’ my son, I realised I had began to become rather defensive. For me, it felt that 99% of the time I was the only one who knew what was best for him: what makes him smile, what soothes his cries, what helps him sleep, etc. When being with someone else, they were going to do something different and my instinct overwhelmed me into outright interrupting. I couldn’t help myself and, well it’s far from an ideal situation when you’re surrounded with friends or family. Noticing it became the very thing that triggered the matter of fact thought: ‘I am going to have to find peace with sharing my son‘. Yes, of course there is certain ways I would like to raise my son but it is NOT the end of the world if he is away from me for a short amount of time, it is NOT the end of the world if he spends time with other member of the family without me, it is NOT the end of the world if my son is enjoying being with other people and it is NOT going to hurt if someone else does something a little different to how I would. I just need to keep remembering that everyone in the family is equally entitled to spend quality time with my child, even if I won’t be able to help feeling it’s only me that can be fully responsible for him. It’s hard to think even though you know this; it does not mean that it is going to be any easier to be apart. My latest wave of anxiety seems to have stemmed from someone asking me when or if I am going back to work. The insane pressure from society to become a ‘Working Mum’ is unreal and is just another worry to add my seemingly never-ending list of things that terrify me beyond belief. In all honesty, I would rather not be without my son, however in todays current economic climate it is not a realistic situation – especially when your maternity pay is statutory and awful and you need money to survive. Despite childcare often costing more than what some women are paid, I have some hard decisions to make going forwards; I may not have a choice and going back full-time may be compulsory… Perhaps a topic for another time!

I do lead a very anxious life, which unfortunately lends itself to the need to hold onto things, fear of letting go and a tendency to latch onto objects and/or people. Whilst I am not entirely sure what triggered this lovely personality trait, I have realised it’s important I have acknowledged it and am working towards it being less of a brick wall in my life. Looking at my relationship with objects of much more materialistic value, it’s no surprise that I have become attached to the much less materialistic wonder that is my son. So what have I found/done to help me through this constantly uncomfortable situation? I’d like to say to start off: YOU DO NOT HAVE TO SUFFER – there is help out there. As intimidating as looking for help online is, there are some really useful websites out there.

Heather Turgeons’ article for ‘Babble’ was unbelievably accurate. Her words really reflected how I felt and made me realise I was far from alone. Despite being written in 2010, her tips for best ways to deal with anxiety speak honestly about the fears and worries that separation anxiety can cause. One of the top tips I’ve taken on board is that sometimes being apart is good for you (repeat after me ‘ITS GOOD FOR ME’). You do have to give yourself time to recover and rejuvenate, as after all, being a mother can be exhausting and full of routine so taking a relaxing evening off is the perfect prescription. To make things easy ‘Made for Mums’ has constructed a super quick ‘7 top tips for leaving your baby for the first time’ outlining the key things to consider and do that will help set up a healthy relationship with being apart from your baby. My favourite numbers are 3: starting small and 6: leaving instructions – both I believe are the absolutely imperative when starting to spend time apart from your baby. You’ll slowly create step-by-step guides of your own as your children grow older but starting small is always a great way to ease into it. In addition to others personal experience and quickstep guides to minimising anxiety, I remember that ‘What To Expect When You’re Expecting’ exists. This could be considered the Holy Grail of pre-conception, pregnancy and motherhood advice. The fantastically extensive website is always full to the brim with advice on absolutely anything always including the good, the bad and the ugly. Their approach to discussing separation anxiety is more of a step-by-step guide to feeling OK on a level that could really help you get that first foot out of the front door. Their ability to back up their steps with science makes it much easier to be matter of fact about leaving your little one with your chosen caregiver. Things like ‘At this age (2 to 3 months), being out go sight pretty much means being out of mind, so your baby will usually stop thinking about you and be quite content with any sitter who provides gentle, attentive care’ can make you feel much more comfortable or at the very least a little less panicky than you may have been! As well as looking for helpful techniques and logical reasoning online, I have found that even tedious rituals can help temporarily ease some of the stress. Things like taking a deep breathe or taking a step back and counting to three before accidentally breathing fire at everyone in the room can make the world of difference. If you have more time on your hands you could try relaxation meditation or yoga to help keep calm and collected in every aspect – always appreciating that having a child may not allow you to have time to fit this in but whatever you can do, remember to be kind to yourself.

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Overall the most important thing to know is that it’s OK to feel anxious sometimes and being apart from your baby will make you a little edgy but it’s that unconditional love that is part of what makes us human. When you finally take the plunge and do spend some time away from your daughter or son, don’t spent all your time worrying and remember you left them with someone responsible and someone you trust so sometimes you have to just let go of those fears – even if its just for one night!

Love to all,
One Curious Mother x

PS. We had our first date night a few weeks back and nothing went wrong, we had a lovely evening and our son didn’t even notice we were gone. I did spend a bit of the evening panicking and checking my phone every five minutes but as the night went on I relaxed a little more. I did feel much happier when we got home and he was sound asleep. How would I rate it’s success? A sturdy 8/10!

Sources:

https://www.babble.com/baby/away-from-baby-separation-anxiety-moms/
https://www.whattoexpect.com/first-year/week-10/separation-anxiety.aspx
http://www.madeformums.com/baby/7-top-tips-for-leaving-your-baby-for-the-first-time/17599-6.html

Worth The Weight?

 

Talking about weight is always a difficult subject and unfortunately talking about postpartum bodies is no different. Up until recently, it has never been a widely discussed (or accepted) topic. As I felt I needed to tackle some personal issues, I took my time and this has taken me around two months to write with it being nothing short of a challenge. I hoped by writing this, I could help not only myself but other women realise they are not totally alone when feeling like they’re living in someone else body.

It’s a stark reality check when you feel like staring into the eyes of a complete stranger. When you feel like you’re catching someone else’s reflection through a shop window. It’s like staring at someone you think you know, someone you met before in a brief fleeting moment but were never introduced to. They seem familiar. They copy all your actions, they share all your family and friends but to you, they’re unrecognisable. The stark truth is, it’s you and you no longer know you at all. This is the new you you’ll need to learn so much about.

It’s nothing short of a steep up hill struggle learning to accept a body you didn’t mentally prepare for. Let’s face it, between cots and car seats, you totally forgot to entertain the idea that your body would become unfamiliar and no longer be your own. You got whisked away thinking of your new life as a mother (or panicking about the birth) that postpartum you were at the bottom of the list. The reality check is a hard one. You have to stay in maternity clothes. You thought you’d no longer need them but you’ve reached a rather awful stage where your old clothes are still 4 sizes too small. It doesn’t take long before you hit a seemingly never-ending phase of being too big for old clothes and too small for your maternity clothes. THIS is the moment you will need to peel your self esteem out of the puddle of tears you’re floating in at the changing rooms at your local New Look and take some deep breathes: Remember: it won’t be this way forever.

Just when you think things could turn around because quite frankly you couldn’t feel any worse about the new version of you right now, you suddenly remember you have a boyfriend, a husband or a partner. Someone you (once upon a time) shared a close and intimate relationship with – (This is all providing you get 5 minutes peace to breathe of course!) Thoughts WILL enter your mind (despite the fact he probably witnessed you give birth): ‘I need to stay covered up, he absolutely cannot see me naked‘, ‘Oversized clothes should hide my body’, ‘I haven’t showered in days, has he noticed? Truth is he probably sees straight past all of that and sees just you but just how on earth are you supposed to feel comfortable or confident around him if you don’t even recognise yourself?! A swollen face, gorged bust, inflatable stomach – The aftermath of the surgery left me so swollen and it was like each little (or big) stretch mark became another haunting reminder of the limits to which my body has been pushed. Looking at myself I couldn’t see past this oversized version of me: this disproportionate woman clad with stretch marks and an over hanging stomach hiding a deep purple scar, deep down I didn’t want to accept that the once petite, size 10, slightly chubby round the edges gal who used to squeeze her non-boobs into a size 8 has left me. It just seemed so impossible. How was I supposed to bring myself to see our family and friends if I didn’t even feel or look like me? My preconceived (or lack of) ideas of how postpartum life would be really tripped me up at the first hurdle.

I guess I learnt the hard way that movies and social media don’t always help with the portrayal of having a baby. From pregnancy to labour to postpartum, I’ve come to the conclusion that it just can’t be summed up in a single photo or an hour and a half long Hollywood film. With celebrities social media accounts boasting their post-baby bodies with zero stretch marks or a petite frame rocking a petite bump can leave you feeling inferior and less than pleased about how you look. Whilst fully understanding that this image can be totally normal for some women and not for another, I have still hit the harsh reality head on that for me, my body does not look that way and I’ve faced a number of difficulties I would really rather have avoided.

As someone who has struggled on and off with body image since the teen years, not being able to recognise myself in a mirror has been a small dose of hell. With the whole idea of pregnancy and pregnancy related weight gain never bothering me, my mind always found the logical scientific reasoning behind being healthy and gaining weight to support my body through the process of growing a child. The common sense here far outweighed my somewhat irrational issues and helped my mind stay clear and make sense of my ever-changing body. As the first trimester of my pregnancy was too kind to me, I guess I became a little complacent. With barely any side effects, no sickness, very little dizziness, only mild fatigue and a hand full of food diversions, I gained very little extra weight. I realised quite quickly that compared to others and their horror stories, I had it fairly easy.

As my pregnancy progressed, everything remained steady. Little Rory was growing as expected with no signs of foetal issues. My health was in good shape and the only thing I suffered from was minor backache if sat at my office chair too long – nothing a lunch time stroll to get more food couldn’t fix! It wasn’t until week 34 when I began my maternity leave that things became a little difficult for me. Out of the blue I became incredibly itchy. My bump, shins and feet became unbearable to touch and often felt like they were burning. Mild panic broke out when I had gone looking for answers and came across the rare condition known as Obstetric Cholestasis: A liver disease that can develop during pregnancy, increasing the bile acid count to be much higher than it should be. It isn’t always serious but in severe cases, it can cause the development of jaundice and has, in some cases been linked to both premature and stillbirths. It affects around about 1 in 140 pregnancies and can be harmful to both you and your baby. If you do develop this, the only full cure is birth and will therefore be offered an induction usually somewhere between 37 and 38 weeks to help reduce any of the risks. Often medication can be given to help reduce the bile count but birth is much more effective.

Fortunately for me, after many (million) blood tests, my liver was fine but not long after this result I discovered I had developed a lovely little horrific side effect called PEP (Polymorphic eruption of pregnancy). This ruined my skin. Causing wide spread uncontrollable itching and spreading hives all over my newly grown stretch marks, my once smooth pale skin looked unrecognisable. Leaving scars over the worst effected areas, this added salt to the already searing wound, which just added to the explosive stretch marks that had erupted. I felt disgusting but little did I know I’d walk away with a much more permanent feature. Before Rory was finally born via C-section, I had never thought of the possibility of having to live with a scar. I have had moles removed in the past and have a handful of small scars but nothing that noticeable unless pointed out. I had braced myself that I’d have to live with stretch marks but let me tell you: no one in a million years could have mentally prepared me for a permanent scar, dealing with cut tissue, separated muscles or the wonderfully named ‘pouch’ that comes with the surgery. To add insult to serious injury, I came out of surgery unbelievably swollen and puffy. Looking back at photographs, I could barely open my eyes. On a first glance in the mirror after I got dressed for the first time post-op was literally horrifying. How the hell was I supposed to live with this over-hang of belly!? How are any of my clothes ever going to fit me!? And the more important ‘How the hell am I going to be able to get rid of this pouch when I can’t even walk let alone exercise!?’ My self-esteem hit a new depth. Should I have really been that self-centred about my appearance when I had just experienced the miracle of life resulting in a perfect healthy little boy? I’m not entirely sure.

So shall we look at some positive here? Although social media is regularly tarred as fuelling the national level of anxiety, I have recently found it to be my saving grace. Whilst I’ve been writing this there has been an epic explosion of body positivity filling up all of my social media feeds from some of my now favourite bloggers. As another taboo subject on the ever-lasting list of motherhood troubles, it pleases me very much that people of influence are bringing these subjects to light. I now don’t totally feel alone when wondering if I’m the only women ever to have discoloured stretched skin, the only woman to go from an hour glass to a square or the only woman to want to hide in a hole before getting a ‘tummy controlling’ swimsuit on. It’s been a million miles from easy but this has made it a little more possible that I may feel like myself again. I promise you if nothing else, this movement into loving your body will make you forget for a while that you no longer look like you but that deep down it really is you in there and you should feel the utmost pride for the life you have created and what your body has achieved.

It’s clearly no secret that pregnancy and giving birth can take an incredible amount of physical and mental strength so there is nothing more important than supporting each other through our pre and postpartum journeys. Please remember, no matter how you’re feeling, you don’t ever have to feel alone.

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Love to all,

One Curious Mother.

 

Sources:
Obstetric Cholestasishttp://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pages/itching-obstetric-cholestasis-pregnant.aspx
PEPhttp://www.bad.org.uk/shared/get-file.ashx?id=227&itemtype=document

 

‘I Need To Drink More Fish’

I apologise it’s been a few weeks since my last post but between recovery, several medical appointments, health visitors and family coming and going time just ran away from me. Let’s get underway with this weeks blog topic: Breastfeeding – A topic which is always in the spotlight.

YUP, this is a sentence I said out loud when trying to make a decision about what to have for tea one day. Safe to say, lately it definitely feels like my baby is sucking all of my smart out. Turns out whilst breastfeeding you can get baby brain just as you did during pregnancy. This would explain why my brain cannot retain information for longer than half an hour, I can’t remember simple tasks or instructions or really understand anything post 9pm. Still totally worth it!

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When a baby’s gotta eat, a baby’s gotta eat!

Breastfeeding is one of those wonderful natural things. It is totally magic. Each woman’s milk is tailored to their baby providing the perfect cocktail of nutrition and support to help their baby grow. It can help strengthen the bond between a mother and baby. It’s also one of the hardest things you face as a mother; just knowing you’re solely producing the food that’s keeping your little bundle of joy alive… So why is it one of these crappy taboos!? When did someone decide somewhere that this topic needed to split the nation in two!? Why do you have to be either pro breastfeeding and nothing else or all anti-breastfeed?! There is that subcategory of people who think breastfeeding is repulsive and you feel the need to shame the mamas that are confident in feeding their child in public BUT we won’t include them in this discussion as they’re super mean – NO MAMA SHOULD EVER BE SHAMED. EVER. Whatever your own personal decision is, it should be just that: PERSONAL. Somewhere in the middle of this ‘breast or formula?’ discussion there is those mama’s who are stepping forwards paving the way for future attitudes by being confident and comfortable (LIKE EVERY MAMA SHOULD) about both breastfeeding and not breastfeeding. Sometimes this is through choice but other times thus choice is made for you. Some mothers are unable to breastfeed, others find it difficult and some have been shamed for it. There are some super mama’s out there breaking down those taboos about breastfeeding and formula feeding and today I’m going to talk about our personal experience with breastfeeding and formula feeding and what we did to make it work for us and how we made sure we are all happy and healthy whilst doing so.

For me, breastfeeding didn’t start off all plain sailing. It didn’t come naturally and was difficult. Little Rory was very fussy and it left us both rather distressed 99.99% of the time. Every attempt ended in intense screaming, trashing around and tears – my daydreams of bonding with my little boy seemed very far away at this point. We continued to try feeding which was hard but eventually it lead to latching on which unfortunately lead to falling asleep having after having a feed for all of two seconds – NOT IDEAL. Despite this, I chose persevere which was a really difficult decision to make. We took all advise offered and engaged in many hours of skin to skin which resulted in a few feeds but not really enough. After everything that’s drilled into you by either family member, friends or midwifes around ‘breast being best’, you can’t help but feel rather uneasy when the word ‘formula’ is mentioned. Why is it that you instantly feel like you’re failing when breastfeeding doesn’t pan out like you imagine!? With such lack of information around what breastfeeding can really be like in the beginning, I feel many like myself are left feeling a little unprepared. Luckily for me, the midwives who cared for me whilst I was in hospital spent every moment reassuring me I was doing all the right things and that I should keep plodding on and Rory would eventually just ‘get it’. This is when I decided to stuff feeling like I wasn’t enough. My body was doing all it could so I took a deep breathe and took that formula in my stride. I never went for the tin of powder you mix yourself and heat and wait and TOO MUCH FAFFING – My inner lazy-gal went straight for the ready-made small 70ml bottles complete with steralised teat. Safe to say within seconds of assembling the two parts, he was guzzling down the formula at lightening speed – YAY! The happiness you get when your baby is finally feeding, whichever method you chose, is unreal. He only had a small amount of that bottle to start with but he slept like a dream afterwards. This left me time to express my colostrum to syringe feed him in between formula feeds and then my milk when it came in on day 4. I was not giving up without a fight, I really wanted breastfeeding to happen for us and I wanted to at least try every option and combination to help get there.

Once again, luckily for me when my milk came in, Rory became less fussy and latched on like a dream… BUT only for all of 5 minutes. My thought process immediately went to ‘hopefully we have started the route towards successful feeds!’ – At this point we were alternating between the boob and the bottle meaning I could pump when he had the bottle and dear Daddy could join in whilst feeding too which he really enjoyed (even at 4am!). Our aim was to eventually swap the bottles for breast milk in bottles in hope that the breastfeeding would become more regular and then only be breastfeeding. This was an open ended plan with no time frame but we managed to achieve this within a matter of three weeks, which was a dream! He knew exactly what he wanted and finally the boobs were the answer. I’m sure like many, even though we had lift off and a great result with breastfeeding, in the beginning it was rather uncomfortable. It stings, throbs and is sometimes just god damn uncomfortable. Why is it whilst feeding on one boob your other boob feels left out so you get the sensation of feeding in both? And can we talk about the leaking?! Even with breast pads in, there are many times where I have been caught out with overactive milk supply leaking through pads, bra and even my top – Just what you want whilst taking a countryside stroll with no spares, no privacy and no shops!

My journey taken to get us where we are now hasn’t been an easy one. Looking back now there’s a lot of advise I would give myself: I’d start with ‘it is all going to be ok’ and that each day will get better and yes it will hurt and yes you’ll have good days and bad days and yes it’s easy to give in and find an easier route but just bring it in and really focus on you and your baby and do what is best for you. At the end of the day no one can tell you what will work best for you.

 

What have I learnt from my journey into breastfeeding?  So. Many. Things. Here’s my top 5:

  1. Don’t fret or worry. Things didn’t start off easy for me but worrying about it didn’t help at all. Which leads us on to…
  2. Don’t be afraid to seek help. I spoke to my midwife, my health visitor, had a call from the nursery nurse from my local children’s centre and even researched Facebook groups and Mother and Baby groups in the area. You are never alone!
  3. Pumps are handy to have. Even if you can’t bare the thought of pumping in between feeds, all it takes is one extra long nap for your boobs to fill up to the point of explosion. They are fantastic for relief and there are so many to choose from. Plus you never know, it mighty come in handy when you finally get a night off!
  4. Be prepared! Carry extra supplies – I now keep extra breast pads in my handbag or the nappy bag for when life loves to surprise me.
  5. FEED WHEREVER YOU PLEASE. Even if formula or breast DO NOT let anyone let you think feeding your baby is something for behind closed doors. If your baby is hungry when you’re out shopping or, yes you can find the nearest family room to feed or you can go for the nearest bench/seated area. Wrap or no wrap, you feed your baby however you want!

What are my preferences? I LOVE my Tommee Tippee manual pump. It’s comfy, easy to use and comes with a microwavable sterilising box. It was one of my many bargain buys brought on sale for 10.99 down from 21.99! You can find it here at Boots online – http://www.boots.com/tommee-tippee-closer-to-nature-manual-breast-pump-10205689It’s currently on sale! (This may change. Price true to date of published post)

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Who has inspired me? Instagram has me hooked! These ladies are my heroes and inspiration. They are my daily reminder that it’s ok to have problems, ok to power through, ok to breastfeed wherever whenever and to never shy away. A reminder that every mama should be a proud mama!

(Photographs are screenshots / I OWN NO COPYRIGHT / all originals are copyrighted and owned by said women)
  1. TESS HOLLIDAY (@TESSHOLLIDAY)
    https://www.instagram.com/tessholliday/?hl=en

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  2. EDEN GRINSHPAN (@EDENEATS)
    https://www.instagram.com/edeneats/?hl=en

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  3. KAT (@LITTLEBIRDDOULA)
    https://www.instagram.com/littlebirddoula/?hl=en

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We have reached the other side. Our breastfeeding problems are slowly but surely disappearing and we have bonded with every feed. We’ve overcome every difficulty thrown at us and learnt that FORMULA IS OUR FRIEND but that breast is what is best for us.

ALL FEEDING IS GOOD FEEDING.

Love to all!

One Curious Mother x

 

Disclaimer: All instagram screenshot images are NOT owned by One Curious Mother. All original images featured are copyrighted and owned by @tessholliday, @edeneats & @littlebirddoula. Please follow links provided to see their profiles.

His Grand Arrival – The Birth Story

As we gently tiptoe across the three week old mark, I finally feel ready to write about my experience of labour and how our precious boy Rory Fitzsimons arrived into the world.

I want to start by praising the NHS and every one who had an involvement in my care at Great Western Hospital in Swindon. The care I received was outstanding and each and everyone of the members of staff I came into contact with seemed to go above and beyond to make my journey and stay at GWH as best as it could be under the circumstances I faced. I find people are all too quick to complain about our health service but are too shy to praise – They saved us and helped us get through a very difficult journey and that I will always be grateful for.

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*PLEASE BE AWARE Some details in this blog may make for distressing reading so please bear this in mind*

It hit 9:45pm on Friday 17th and this wave of pain surged through my lower back forcing me to sit down. As ‘damn what the hell was that’ flew out my mouth, of which my other half reassured me that it was probably pain related to the weight of my bump. Within 10 minutes the pain arrived again – this was no regular back pain. As the pains were irregular and at this point and not unmanageable, I took myself off to bed with a hot wheat bag and put a film on for distraction. Within just 2 hours the pain had intensified and I was keeled over in the bathroom uncontrollably shaking reaching for the phone. By 1:30am I was lying on a bed waiting to be assessed in the delivery suite. With each pulse of my contractions feeling stronger and stronger I was assessed and at 2cm – next move was a 3am referral to the antenatal ward. Clinging on to my phone to press ‘start’ on my contraction counter, I continued to pace the maternity ward for 13 hours until I was finally at 4 cm and ready to be taken through to the delivery suite. Shaking profusely, it had suddenly dawned on me that after growing a baby for 9 months, he could be in my arms within hours – a terrifying but exciting thought!

In the end I decided against having a birth plan however in a moment’s pain I took the plunge and went straight in for the epidural without a second thought. Full of nerves and exhaustion, no one argued with my decision and the boyfriend was my rock and so incredibly supportive throughout. In less than 20 minutes the anaesthetist was explaining the process and the risks whilst I moved to the edge of the bed and hunched over. The epidural was the least painful and most stress-free part of my labour experience which took me completely by surprise – for some reason I had worked myself up into thinking it was going to be painful. At this point I was still in a state and became worked up as the fear of the unknown and complete and utter exhaustion collided. From here on out it was a waiting game. My body was doing its thing, just very very slowly. By 3am and I reached 7 cms and things were still going slow and I was given a hormone drip to speed things up… this didn’t really work too well.

Fast forward to 5:30am – 10cms had finally been reached! The sudden feeling of ‘OMG YES my body is actually doing this all on its own – and I can’t feel a thing!’ had arrived with the words ‘I think you’re ready to start pushing now’. For a split second time stood still. It was like looking at the finish line from a distance and not knowing if you were hurtling towards it or it was getting further away! Unaware of the strain my body was feeling, this continued for 4 hours with a hormone drip. As the sun began shining on Sunday morning I was greeted by my third change of midwife, 2 doctors, my anaesthetist and a surgeon… Yup you guessed – after 4 hours of pushing and getting no further, the word ‘caesarean’ surfaced. I had a tonne of drugs being pumped through my system so wasn’t really 100% sure of what was going on but as the midwife handed the boyfriend his very own pair of blue scrubs I figured that surgery had become my only option. Turns out our little man had turned to be back against my back and there was a chance the cord was now under his arm being squeezed every time a contraction came around – not ideal! Before I knew it I was being wheeled down to theatre and being rubbed with iodine and pumped with more drugs. I was terrified at this stage but these are professionals whose jobs are to deliver babies safely – I had to trust them. I had no preconceived ideas of what a c-section would entail even after watching the NHS ‘Guide To’ video online months back, I honestly naively believed it wouldn’t happen to me. As the room filled with around 8 to 10 people, all with their own individual jobs, my surgery began. Completely petrified as my dear boyfriend coached me through my tears and fears, it barely seemed like 5 minutes before someone commented ‘your baby is about to be born’…

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… And there he was! Perfect, all pink and screaming – the midwives whisked him over to the scales to be weighed and put a knitted hat on his little round head. Our little son was posted down the top of my gown for our first bit of skin to skin. Tears began to stream down my face as I looked across to his daddy with face beaming – our baby had arrived and all safe and sound!  It’s no secret that what people say is true; the moment you lay eyes on your baby you’ll wonder how you ever lived not knowing their face, that one look at them creates this unconditional love. He was 8lb and 3 ounces of beautiful.

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After living in that new family bubble, the biggest reality check followed the return of feeling in my body: there is no way in hell a c-section is ever the ‘easy option‘. Having read 101 blogs, forums and Q&A’s c-sections always seem to be a taboo subject, there was an unbelievable amount of shame pushed upon women who didn’t give birth naturally – something I just could not get my head around. HOW could surgery be the easy way out!? I can tell you for free it absolutely was not. My recovery felt and still feels nothing short of a million marathons. I was discharged after just 2 days with an extensive list of drugs to take looking completely swollen much like a party balloon. I couldn’t get in and out of chairs or my bed without assistance and couldn’t stand up straight without a 10 minute slow motion stretch. I slept on the sofa for the first 4 nights as lying down caused me too much pain. Every time I tried to do anything physical – walk to the toilet, take a drink, lift Rory to feed – tears streamed down my face. Even eating became a challenge as utter exhaustion has taken control of my body and mind. BUT luckily for me this started to subside after the first week with the help of my incredible family and support system. The boyfriend along with my parents helped bath me, feed me, do the laundry and dishes along with food shopping all whilst I was sofa bound. Cabin fever is the worst when you’re physically in pain and mentally exhausted but I can promise you that if you are going through this right now, that each day gets a little bit better – I promise. Now 23 days on from the birth of Rory, I can get up and out of bed, cook, bath myself and Rory, go for short walks and just about make it around a (small) supermarket shop without any issues. I did struggle when the boyfriend went back to work a week ago but having my own mother just next door working from home, if I ever have any struggles she’s always there for me – something I will  never be able to thank her enough for. Our families have been the best and we can’t thank them enough for all they’ve done for us already.

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It’s no secret that my experience of birth was a difficult and traumatic one and I’m no longer afraid to admit that. All through my pregnancy I had prepared myself for the possibility of a long labour but never as long as 36 hours long or for it to end in emergency surgery. This journey has taught me so much and when looking back at how far we’ve come it’s so easy to get overwhelmed so to finish off my story I want to share with you all five things I have learnt along the road to recovery:

  1. You should never doubt the power of a woman’s body and mind. Even in the toughest of situations, your body will do its job, it will do what it has to do, you will make some of the hardest decisions and you will overcome extreme unexpected situations and you will thrive! Surgery is seriously tough, no matter what it’s for. Give your body some credit for its hard work and look after yourself.
  2. Don’t give yourself a hard time if things don’t go to plan! Life can spring the unexpected on you at any moment and sometimes you have to be brave and embrace it.
  3. Your support system is one of your most valuable things. In your darkest hour having close family or friends is completely invaluable. They will bring you back to earth and hold your hand the entire time.
  4. It’s OK to cry – and yes at absolutely everything. Whether it’s because you can’t reach to tie your shoes or you’re exhausted from breastfeeding just let it all out, no one is going to judge you.
  5. You won’t look like you – but it won’t always be that way. You might not recognise yourself, you won’t fit back into your old clothes straight away and you’ll still be ‘puffy’ for a little while but it’s not permanent, it’s all part of the journey to the new normal.

Now halfway to my 6 week appointment I feel like a totally different person already – something I would never have believed in the days following Rory’s birth. We are slowly finding our way to the new normal and you will too. My best advice is that you just have to be patient and kind to yourself. You’ll be back on track to finding your new normal before you know it. It really won’t be long before you’ll be enjoying your favourite activities again – PROMISE!

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I’m glad I’ve finally been able to share my journey with you. We are totally in love and can’t imagine life without our little Rory! Thank you for coming back for a read!

One Curious Mother x

There were no sources used for today’s post but if you wish to, you can watch the NHS youtube videos at this link – https://www.youtube.com/user/GreatWesternHospital

The Last Leg!

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Please accept my biggest apologies for the lack of posts over the last week or so – Just 3 words cover my back here: Pregnancy is exhausting! We have finally reached the last leg at almost 38 weeks with numerous appointments, the end of the big nursery build and finally that ‘nesting’ feeling in full swing.

After finishing work almost 4 weeks ago and having little over 2 weeks until the D-DAY, I can only describe my new found restlessness as unbelievably severe impatience. With sleepless nights, a nasty case of PUPPP (Pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy – basically a hormone fuelled horrible itchy rash) along with the waddle of an oversized goose, having this little man surprise me before the 40th week is starting to sound like an OK idea but there is no doubt this last leg is proving to be difficult. Between daily hospital visits, building project nearing it’s final days and feeling ever more uncomfortable trying to get my head around everything so lets get talking about these highs and lows and how I’m getting myself together for the big day.

Now this is a very important part of this post: my recognition for the fantastic National Health Service of the Great Western Hospital in Swindon whom without I wouldn’t know what the hell I was doing and would more than likely be a messy puddle of worry. Between having low movement last week, camping out in the canteen waiting to see dermatology along with having a number of appointments back and fore to keep an eye on my rash and itching, I have to praise the Women’s Day Assessment Unit for their outstanding care and support. I could not fault them at all. With 110% committed to helping you every time, always monitoring your baby and providing first class care whilst smiling the whole time – Happiness makes such a difference when you’re knees deep in worry. This not only goes for the unit but also for our local community midwives too. Having now completed our 3 week antenatal class course at the hospital run by community midwives, we are definitely feeling a little more aware of what to expect and feel we’ve been given a lot of information on how to prepare. This advice has been above and beyond valuable and I think has geared us up for a small taster of what to expect as first time parents.

We have brought just about everything this baby will need until he’s at least 6 months old (you can never been too prepared!), the nursery is built, plastered, painted and waiting for carpet – which is going to be fitted tomorrow (expect photo update!) and all the furniture is waiting in boxes next to my packed hospital bag. I am secretly hoping he’ll make a spur of the moment arrival any day now as I finally feel like I am almost ready to be a mother. Unfortunately  it’s out of my control and is up to him when he would like to make that entrance! I have been basking in the well known old wives tales plastered over the internet. From eating pineapple, bouncing on an exercise ball, eating spicier foods and even taking longer walks (even if that’s mainly around supermarkets as my appetite is huge right now) I am keen to try it all. As you can tell, nothing is working so far but wish me luck and if you have any suggestions please do contact us! We’d love to hear your advice!

Anyway, Let’s look at our beautiful build then! 

SO MANY PHOTOS. It’s definitely been a well documented build thats for sure! It’s been one of the most exciting thing to see happen to our little annex and we are truly lucky to have my parent’s just next door – they’ve been so much more than your average parents… they’ve been more like part-time project managers, builders, decorators, electricians and everything in between! Now we’ve finally reached the last stages of the nursery build, with just the carpet to be fitted tomorrow and furniture to build after, it’s been good to reflect on the whole project. Take a little look at our progress below:

The Demolition Beginning
The Start of Building
Up Go The Walls & On Goes The Roof
Windows In & Walls Plastered
Whitewashed Walls & Cement
‘Custard’ or ‘Cheesecake’?

This build has come on leaps and bounds in just over 4 weeks with amazing man power and help from the all the local builders, plasterers, carpet fitters and everyone else we’ve employed along with all the family too. It’s crazy how quickly the last 37 weeks have gone and I still can’t believe how far we’ve come, how much we’ve done in that time and how far we still have to go. Despite feeling this impatient, I know these last weeks will fly by and he’ll be here before we know it –  just hoping all this excitement brings him into our lives sooner rather than later!

Happy Humpday & Happy St David’s Day! 

Keep an eye out for updates for our finished room or even an update on his grand entrance – who knows which will come first! 

One Curious Mother x

 

Sources:
ALL images are copyright to One Curious Mother ©
If you have any queries about the images used please visit our contact page and drop us an email! 

Every Little Kick!

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Please excuse my silence for the past week or so – maternity leave has consumed me and is passing me by at quite some pace. Let’s get this little but very important post started!

This week we have finally started attending our antenatal classes! The youngest, furthest along and one of only a handful who aren’t married; our class is made up of around 18 couples held at our hospital by NHS – these are wonderful as they are absolutely free! The course is split into 3 with the first session being on preparing for labour and a baby. Along with all the usual well known things discussed like getting a hospital bag sorted, relaxation techniques and how to prepare your mind and body for labour, the midwives who led the class touched upon a very vital piece of information for discussion: those baby kicks.

From about 18 to 20 weeks onwards you should begin to feel your baby move. As the weeks go on your baby should be settle into a pattern of movement and counting kicks is all about learning what’s normal for your baby. Long gone are the days where you sit and just count 10, you really need to connect with your babies movements and hone into the pattern your baby moves in. Is it every time you eat or is he/she specific and move at the same time everyday. It used to be advised that if you should have 10 kicks a day but after years of research this is no longer the case any more! With new research and development of science, we now know that each and every baby develops a pattern of kicks and sleep that becomes their little routine. This is why taking time to relax and get to know your unborn baby is so important. The NHS talk about the importance of kick counting being linked to prevention of still birth and can be a useful tool when predicting if your baby is unwell.

What should you do when you think baby has reduced movement or you notice you haven’t felt them move in a while? Start by asking yourself these questions:

  • How many weeks along am I in my pregnancy?
  • Have I been rushing around?
  • Have I had anything to eat or drink yet today?
  • When is the last time I remember feeling any movement?

Let’s take a deep breath and a bit of a rain check! Start by sitting down. Get a glass of cold water and get something to eat. Relax and put your feet up or if you’ve been sitting down for a long time, maybe take a walk to the kitchen, make a drink and sit down and concentrate on those movements. It’s recommended you do this for an hour or two and make a note of the outcome. There are a few old wives tales that do the round but please please remember that it is NOT TRUE that a baby slows down as you get closer to your due date! Brush up on busting those myths as these will help you learn exactly what to look for. There are a few websites that I have come across with great guidelines for how to kick count and what to do if you’re concerned. These can be found at the bottom of my post under ‘Sources’. In addition to this, luckily in this day and age with a multitude of electronic devices, there are a few apps you can download for this. Please see some examples below:


So when should you call the midwife or the Women’s Day Assessment Unit?
If you have done these things suggested and you haven’t counted 10 kicks over a 2 hour period then it is advised that you call your midwife or local Women’s Day Assessment Unit. DO NOT wait until the next day and NEVER EVER think you’re wasting their time or that it’s not worth it – you are not and it 100% is! It is exactly what they’re there for; Their job is to help you through your pregnancy, monitor your baby progress and make sure everything is all well and healthy.

Now speaking from experience, this has happened to me a handful of times. Where little man hasn’t been very active for a while, I have followed the suggested guidelines and ended up calling my local Women’s Day Unit at Great Western Hospital which luckily for me is only about 15/20 minute away. The midwives that I have met each time have been absolutely fantastic! Straight away I’ve been allocated a bed, asked a few questions about my pregnancy so far and then hooked up to a monitor. I’m very fortunate that every thing has been perfectly fine each time but despite having been more than once, I would not hesitate to go again if I ever felt anything different or abnormal. The key really is knowing what is normal for you. For us, 10 kicks over a day would definitely have not be enough. Our little man’s patterns are very scheduled; he moves after I get up for a wee in the morning, he always moves after drink or food and is his busiest (or most noticeable) whilst watching television or relaxing in the evening. Counting Kicks has definitely helped me bond with my unborn baby and I am 100% in tune with him now I’ve reached 35 weeks!

Please if you find you’re having a quiet day, don’t wait! Do use the links at the bottom of this post to help you as I have found they’ve really helped me. If you do have a moment please watch this video made by Tommys and supported by NHS & Kicks Count

One Curious Mother x

Sources:
Top Image: All copyright to One Curious Mother
App Images: Screenshots courtesy of Apple App Store / 1: Kicks Count – Free // 2: Baby Kicks Tracker – Free/Full Version £0.99
http://www.whh.nhs.uk/_store/documents/yourbabysmovementsinpregnancyleaflet.pdf

http://www.nhs.uk/video/Pages/how-often-should-my-unborn-baby-move.aspx

http://www.kickscount.org.uk/mums/your-babys-movements/
https://www.fitpregnancy.com/pregnancy/pregnancy-health/importance-counting-kicks-during-pregnancy