My Breastfeeding Story

I’ve been breastfeeding now for ten months.

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I never intended to breastfeed at all. I did say “Oh, I will give it a go, but if it doesn’t work it doesn’t work”, to everyone who I thought wanted to hear it (the midwife, other mamas-to-be, my Mother-in-law, my husband, the woman in the COOP). Really I had no intention of it working, I just wasn’t interested in breastfeeding.

I have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and pregnancy was hard. I didn’t like losing my body autonomy and I wasn’t sure I could cope with the extra responsibility and the dependence of baby on me for all the feeds. Plus I wasn’t sure how to cop with my breasts’ new function.

Then I got gestational diabetes and moved very swiftly from a homebirth to being induced at 37+4 weeks.

I hated the idea of being induced and, frankly, I hated being induced.

I laboured, unsuccessfully, for fifteen hours before heading over to surgery for an EMC and a lovely big bleed.

I was shown Pippin, and then she was taken somewhere else in the room for her AGPARS and whatnot, whilst they sewed me back together. We got into recovery where we had our first cuddle. Then daddy got some skin to skin, and baby Pips decided she wanted a bite to eat and did her newborn crawl to daddy’s nipple.

So back she came to me, and they attempted to get her to latch on my right nipple, with no joy. I was struggling to get into position and she was struggling to get into position. So, as they were concerned about getting some nutrients in her, and how sleepy she was getting, they asked permission to give her a cup of formula. Which was given.

It’s all a bit blurry after this because I was both tired and still slightly drugged up. Drs kept coming in and taking bloods and looking for infections. Then they took Pip away because they wanted to fit a canula and do some tests.

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After a  bit I got taken back up to the ward, and they brought her back and I just looked at her.

It felt like two minutes later when they came a took her again. They wanted to fit a naso-gastric tube and do an xray.

So when my parents arrived to visit their granddaughter they found me, alone and fairly upset. I don’t want to dwell on that bit. But what it meant for feeding was that Pip was on a drip for the first day, as they were worried about her aspirating a feed. By the second day her oxygen levels increased enough that she was allowed to have colostrum and formula fed through the tube.

I did have loads of support from the infant feeding team. I was shown how to properly hand express colostrum, and then given a pump to try and stimulate my milk to come in so we could send it to Pippin.

On the second day I went and saw here. I can remember getting to hold her again, but I’m not sure when it was. I was a mess and I really struggled with feelings of, I can only describe it as inadequacy. Not about the feeding, but because she had ended up in that situation. I don’t know how I ended up fighting so hard to breast feed, I think it felt like the only thing I had left to give her. The thing only I could do. If things had been different, maybe I wouldn’t have breast fed. Who knows now.

Latching still wasn’t working well for us. She could managed the left, but my right nipple was just the wrong shape for her. I was still pumping religiously and she was having top ups of both expressed milk and formula. They identified a posterior tongue tie, but I was really reluctant for more medical interventions. We left hospital after a week with an appointment for the tongue tie clinic and a breast pump.

I wasn’t in a good way when I got home. The birth had crushed me, I was on daily injections (I hate needles) and I was shaking and felt sick every time I had to feed her. I wasn’t in a good place mentally, but somehow we just carried on.

 

In hospital I had begun to recognise her hungry cries, but sometimes the crying just wouldn’t stop. We would pace for hours with a screaming baby. We were changing more nappies than we could keep track of in a day, all of which were filled with mucousy poo. We were struggling. Then, after a particularly bad night during which we changed seven nappies in an hour, my midwife asked when we had considered the possibility of a dairy allergy. So I put measures in place to removed dairy. It would take a whole other post to talk about that, and I probably will do at some point, but over a number of months it made a massive difference and the smiley, contented baby we’d had glimpses of was around more often and things got a little easier. With hindsight I know that the screaming with red face and balled first wasn’t, as I had been led to believe in hospital, hunger, it was pain. Pain as her tiny body tried to process dairy. In reality those ‘top ups’ were probably not needed and actually might have been making things worse. But nobody was to know that, and it couldn’t be helped.

I wish I hadn’t spent those weeks blaming myself – researching colic, foremilk and hindmilk and thinking it was my fault for feeding her too much, or too little or not swapping breasts enough. When it was inevitable.

Around the same time we worked out the dairy allergy I got mastitis. And it is every bit as horrible as they tell you. At first it felt as though I had glass in my nipple, then I started shivering and felt freezing cold, but I was boiling hot. At some point over the second night it started to break; I was alternating between shivering and sweating so heavily I had to put towels down on the bed.

The midwives suggested having the tongue tie snipped (I had cancelled the previous appointment because we were managed well) would be advisable. So we had it done. It wasn’t pleasant, but it was over quickly. Although as she learnt to latch again it was like going back to square one: sore nips.

From there we haven’t really had any issues. I kind of, enjoy is the wrong word, but I feel some sense of achievement I guess. Which is funny because I haven’t really done anything exactly. I am glad I have breast fed her. Ending up breastfeeding has influenced a lot of my other parenting choices too. We ended up co-sleeping, which wasn’t our intention, and I haven’t gone back to work quite as quickly as I thought. It has worked for us though, and with Pippin’s allergies I am quite glad she wasn’t exposed to more dairy through formula. I like the way things have turned out, for the most part, I could do with a bit more sleep, but that’s probably a common complaint for parents!

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I do think it has been harder than we are probably led to believe, and that leads to, in some cases, women thinking there’s something wrong with their breasts/supply when there might not be. I was lucky that I had a lot of support, but it was completely by chance. I know two women who gave birth around the same time as me who were desperate to breast feed, but it didn’t work out for them. I feel a bit sad that I got the support when I was pretty set against breast feeding and they didn’t have that.

As things stand I have no intention of stopping breastfeeding until Pip decides she is ready to. With her allergies it is probably the healthiest thing I can do for her right now. Although I am holding out hope she will take a bottle of ebm eventually.

If we ever did this again, and there’s a slim to none chance of me ever going through labour again, I think I would breastfeed. I think I would trust my instincts more, and hopefully panic less about whether they are having enough milk (babies and bodies are clever, they know) although I would do bottles and dummies as well as breastfeeding, to allow me a little more space.

Sod the nipple confusion, mama needs a nap.

 

Pippin is here

Baby Pippin made her arrival into the world just over a week ago today.

She was born via emergency Cesarean section at 7:44am on the 27th, and weighed 8lb13.

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It hasn’t been the easiest of rides for us so far, but we’re home now and one the mend. Currently we’re just trying to get to know our new baby and settle in as a family of three. Hopefully I will resume life as (new) normal in a few weeks, but until then I’m going to retreat into my little nest with my beautiful little girl.

A deviation from the normal routine

I’ve disappeared again recently, this pregnancy lark has been harder than I imagined it could be and, frankly, I imaged it being pretty hard!

So, last weekend we took another little trip to the hospital, as I said, which turned out fine, and Little Pippin appeared to be happy and healthy, and the unexpected bleed was just that, an unexpected bleed. Pip was measuring a little big, but not anymore than throughout the rest of the pregnancy and the only issue was that my consultant couldn’t tell if Pip was breech or not, because baby’s legs appeared to be curled up underneath. With me only being 33 weeks they weren’t too fussed and off we went home. Sunday was spent lazing around and sleeping, because hospitals are tiring.

Wednesday I had my next growth scan – we ended up seeing a consultant because they were concerned at the rate Pippin had grown in the space of two weeks, especially since my midwife had recorded Pip as following the curve perfectly on the previous Friday! My blood sugar had been normal, and they couldn’t explain why there was such a massive jump.

The reason they were so concerned about the massive jump was because, if correct, it means that little Pip isn’t so little, and we’re looking at a birth weight of 11lbs +. They don’t think that giant Pip will manage to come down the birth canal in the way little Pip might have. I can’t say I disagree with them there. So, after my growth scan next week I’ll know whether I’m to be induced early, at somewhere between 37 and 38 weeks, or to have an elective cesarean section at 39 weeks.

So things over at Pip and Blossom HQ have become a little hectic, its all hands on deck to make sure that we’re ready for Pippin’s arrival, which may be three weeks sooner than we were expecting. I’m washing cloth nappies and cleaning like there’s no tomorrow, and hubs has been busy finishing all the little jobs that needed doing, plus we’ve drafted in both sets of parents to help clean/paint/take things to the tip.

I feel we should have expected this, as a couple we can’t just do things in the standard way. I’m a bit scared to be honest, this isn’t the birth I planned for, and I just want Pippin to be ok and not to have problems because of the diabetes. I’ll know more in a weeks time.

Did anyone else have to prepare for the birth of a giant baby? Any tips for a slightly scare first timer?

Emma’s Diary 34 week Pack

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So I got the 34 week Emma’s Diary pack from my midwife on Friday. Spoiler, I was actually only 33 weeks – don’t tell Emma.

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When I first started getting these I was looking everywhere to find out what I might get. This one had bigger samples than the last.

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There’s a small sample of Fairy non-bio pods, and the safety information leaflet about not letting children get anywhere near them (of course!). This pack also comes with a sample pack of four size one Pamper’s nappies. We’re planning on using cloth, but I’ve been putting any samples of disposables in my hospital bag, thinking that would probably be easier than carrying home dirty reusables!

There’s also a sample packet of Dettol Wipes, as well as £8 worth of vouchers off Dettol products. Unfortunately I don’t really use Dettol, but I’m sure I’ll use up the wipes and I think a lot of people would find the vouchers really useful. There’s even one for money off a Dettol No Touch Handwash System, and I’ve seen those for anywhere between £10 and £12, so it is quite a good saving.

The biggest sample in the pack is a full-sized tube of Bepanthen Ointment, in the 30g tube, which is around £3 in Tesco. I’m not sure if I can actually use this with reusable nappies, some brands say not, but it’ll go in the nappy drawer just the same.

There’s also a guide to Labour & Birth included. Which, admittedly, I haven’t actually read yet. But I probably will!

33 week pregnancy update

What has happened?

Well, we did a bit of this again today:

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Back in the hospital because of an unexpected bleed. But Pippin was doing ok, after the initial panic hubs and I were doing ok and I got to come home again within a couple of hours. The staff at the hospital were amazing, and I got to see the delivery suite, so prep for birth I guess? For some reason it has a mural of a lovely Caribbean beach in there, I couldn’t quite work that one out.

Shout out to the taxi driver who drove me to the hospital and walked me in, I think he was scared to leave me in case I went into labour then and there. Luckily, Pip is going to cook for a little bit longer, which is much needed. Though it has given me a kick up the bum to get my bags packed, and keep my mobile charged too, scary times!

Pippin’s room is pretty much there too, its just a case of cutting in the paintwork and then getting the furniture in. IKEA has also become a bit of a second home and I can’t wait to get all the lovely accessories in we’ve bought.

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Baby is:

Well on track for a 9lb9 birth weight (ouch!). Pippin is still wriggling away, so much so they struggled to get a regular heart rate. Baby also objected to being on the monitors and spent its time trying to boot them off.

Baby also engaged this week, albeit briefly. I felt the head drop on Tuesday, Midwife confirmed it on Friday but by the time I was in hospital today baby had moved back up again. We’re head down though by the looks of things, which is good.

Mummy is:

Sore and struggling to sleep. Bump is now so big that getting anywhere is a struggle, and there’s still weeks to go! I’m still (supposedly) diabetic, but my blood sugar levels are actually too low according to the nutritionist? So that’s a discussion for the consultant.

In other, vaguely amusing, news, I did my bloods on Friday night and got a whopping 10.7. It had only got up to 9.9 after my GTT. I sat there for ten minutes running through everything I had eaten, which was pasta and quorn meatballs in a tomato sauce, homemade. I could not get my head round it. Until I remembered that I had been holding a McFlurry for hubs in the car and some had spilled on my finger. Turns out those things have a lot of sugar, which will show up in your results even if it mixes with the blood outside of your body… My levels were actually a respectable 6.0.

 

27 week pregnancy update

27 weeks! It’s going really fast and I don’t feel like I have nearly enough time left to prepare. Since when did time speed up?

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Work has been so busy, which hasn’t helped because I am constantly exhausted, but I’ve dropped my hours which seems to help a little bit. We did quite a bit of travelling this week for Birthday’s, and frankly that destroyed me a bit.

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Three and a half hours in a car is no fun with a giant belly, but It was lovely seeing family and baby Pippin got a handmade pressie from it’s Great Nana.

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Alf’s not sure how he feels about the bumpy. He doesn’t mind lying on my tummy, but when it starts moving he is trying to chase it. I’m not sure if he knows what is going on, but he knows things are changing. Saph is still hiding because the house isn’t just how she likes it. Bit worried how she will cope when Pippin arrives!

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Baby is:

Dancing and moving lots and lots now. We saw real rolling for the first time, which was pretty nice, although weird and a bit like being in Alien frankly. Its good to know that Pippin seems to be doing ok now.

Mummy is:

Pretty good. Although I’m getting a bit stuck sometimes now, particularly if I’ve rolled onto my back whilst asleep or am in the bath. Sometimes if I’m sat in a particularly squishy chair. I feel well though, just tired. My feet are really tired, it actually feels like the soles of my feet are aching, does anyone else get this?

 

23 Week Pregnancy Update

It has been really hard to write these updates before. For most of this pregnancy I have been absolutely terrified of something happening to the baby, but I’ve settled into a mostly calm state now, until I think of the impending labour though!

Baby is:

The size of a Chinchilla, apparently! And moving lots, particularly in the morning and evenings. I’m starting to get lots of movement after eating too, and at other random times. The other day we saw Pip roll over in my tummy which was both amazing and strange.

Mummy is:

Pretty chilled all things considered. It’s been another week where I have been quite ill. My intolerance have taken a real jump since becoming pregnant, and since the back end of last week I have been really poorly. I also feel rather massive now, I can’t get used to my brand new bigger belly and it gets in the way a lot. Sometimes I am still forgetting I’m pregnant! I’m also really tired.

Maternity yoga is brilliant though, and it was my first Aquanatal class this week.

22 Weeks Pregnancy Update

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Week 22 was not a fun one, all in all. I’ve been poorly, again and there was a bit of a nasty incident with a dog colliding with my tummy. Luckily no harm done!

Baby is:

Apparently sleeping 12-14 hours a day (which is what I wish I could be doing!). I now have a Guinea Pig sized baby in my stomach, hopefully its not quite as hairy though. I’m getting more kicks than every before and have started spending a little time each morning watching baby bounce all over the show in my belly, which is lovely.

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Mummy is:

Tired. And unwell. I’ve felt really emotional all week and had a stressful Thursday onwards with intolerance-related illness again. But it will pass I am very, very sure!

A Surprise Baby

A surprise baby wasn’t even something we had considered as a remote possibility, if we had we might have been a bit more careful!

Way back in January of 2015 I had some final tests to confirm that I was having some fertility problems. Not because we were seriously trying for a baby or anything, but because I was having cycles that could range from 28 to 60 days and periods that would start out of nowhere with really heavy bleeding then disappear just as quickly.

The confirmed that it looked like I wasn’t ovulating properly, or at all, and that I had all the symptoms of PCOS. The indications being that we would probably need fertility treatment in order to conceive.

It wasn’t that big of a shock. We had suspected that for some time, we hadn’t been using contraception for nearly two years by this point, and although we were making a slight effort to have sex in my non-fertile periods that was really difficult when there was nothing regular to go off!

After we got the news we thought about trying for a baby then, seriously trying. I was working as a writer and due to graduate in the June, we had our own house, our income was stable if not massive and we knew time might be against us. I’m pretty certain a lot of people who get news like this go through a similar reaction. So for a few of months we did, I started charting, dieting and generally trying to improve my symptoms.

I had already lost nearly two stone on Slimming World before the diagnosis, but about the same time I found out about the PCOS I lost my grandmother, and I gave up on going to classes. I did keep the weight off though.

I did have one weird month, in the June 2015. Sore boobs, nausea in the evenings and I wondered. But I did a test which came back negative. Then, after my shortest cycle to date (28 days), I bled, heavily. So I assumed that the symptoms were possibly ovulation ones.

It was about then we had another serious discussion about starting a family, and decided that maybe it wasn’t the right time. I think maybe when we thought we might have been caught it made us think about whether it was the right time, also, I had been reading a lot about the PCOS and talking to women who had it and the miscarriage rate, frankly, scared me. We had already made the decision that we didn’t really want to look at fertility treatment, and we had already said we wanted to adopt, at least once. So our path seemed to be pretty clear.

We were going to spend some time building our careers, particularly as mine wasn’t bringing in an income and L. had always been interested in being a stay at home parent. Plus, with adoption, there wasn’t the time pressure hanging over us like it had felt there was to conceive naturally.

So we did a bit of work on the house. I graduated, and then I did some volunteering over the summer and autumn. I was interviewed and got a job in the first week of December, and was given a start date for January. Although it was only a six month contact it had the potential to be extended, and even if that wasn’t the case it was some relevant and up-to-date experience that I could build on.

So I spent December volunteering at a local charity, helping at their Christmas events, sorting donations, moving furniture, sorting boxes of tins and bags of food.

Then came Christmas, I was going on a family holiday and I was massively ratty and moody, so I thought “brilliant, bound to be on my period over Christmas”. Instead I developed a urine infection on Christmas Eve and spent the evening with a sky-high temperature guzzling cystitis sachets.

It seemed to clear up though and Christmas Morning was lovely, with some Champagne and Mulled Wine, then travelling home to see the in-laws and more Champagne. We had a family meal on New Years Eve too with, you guessed it, more Champagne. Plus a lovely Camembert and some Brie.

I had been having some cramping, even at this point, and my boobs had been sore. But I put it down to my period being on its way. So as I lay in bed on the Saturday morning, rubbing my sore tummy, I grumped. I was griping away about how annoyed I was that my period never arrived regularly, and that the bleeding was out of the blue and heavy, and really? how was I going to cope at work with this?

So, I decided that if my period hadn’t arrived by Monday I was going to make an appointment with my GP to get put on the pill, again, and I would take a pregnancy test on Monday morning. Not because I thought there was a remote possibility but because they always ask whether you might be, and then I could say “absolutely not, I took a test this morning”.

Then, because I am impatient, I decided to get up and see if I had any tests left over from June. Which I did. Almost as soon as the test got wet the first line appeared.

The first line. The line that isn’t the control line. The line that says absolutely that you’re pregnant.

I think I must have sat there in shock for a few minutes. Then I ran into the bedroom and told him we were going to have a baby, to which he replied, “No we’re not.”

He was wrong.

It took some adjustment. We’d gone from the idea of having children somewhere, quite firmly, well into the future, to having a child in a very short few months. Whilst I still had no long-term job, and the house still had a huge pile of work that needed doing to it and maybe we weren’t prepared.

So we kept telling ourselves that nobody ever was prepared, and, yes, finding out you’re pregnant two days before starting a new job isn’t a brilliant time, but there’s never a right time.

Then a couple of things happened. The cramping continued, and I had a little bleed, and we all of a sudden realised that what had happened in June was remarkably similar to how I was feeling now. Suddenly all the difficulties of having our baby now took a backseat to the worry that we might not actually have a choice as to whether the baby made it or not.

Luckily baby Pippin appears to be pretty tough, and though my midwife has subsequently confirmed (as much as can be at this date) that what happened in June was probably a chemical pregnancy they don’t feel that what happened then will have any baring on what happens now. Especially as we have gotten so much further this time.

OOTD George Floral Tea Dress

So excited about this dress!

My uniform of late has been either grey maternity trousers for work or maternity skinny jeans out of work.

Who am I kidding?! My out-of-work uniform has been PJs for weeks.

I realised at about 17 weeks that anything restrictive around the hips would start baby tap dancing on my bladder. Excessively uncomfortable when suffering from repeated urine infections – stretchy became my friend.

But this dress. It’s not maternity. It’s just a Floral Print Tea Dress from George. I did size up and it’s a little big on the chest right now, but that just gives me room to grow!

I love the shape of it, it has a little key hole detailing on the neck and a high waist that sits over bump. It also has a tie round the waist, so you can tighten it up a little if you were to size up in anticipation but want a more defined waist. It also has a zip fastening down the back, from neck to hip, making it really easy to get on and off.

It’s a light cotton feel material, so it will work summer and winter I think. Or for snow in late April if you’re being treated like us. It’s black with a pink and white floral design, I think they might have more colours, but, honestly, I was shopping on a tablet and ASDA’s website is shockingly difficult to navigate on mobile.

And all for £14 from George at ASDA. It’s a bit of a steal.

Where did I wear my new dress I hear you ask? Well, work. Look at my little(ish) bump hiding under the desk!

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I did go to Ikea and Mothercare as well. My Friday’s brim over with excitement.

I spent far too much at ASDA the other day, I’m trying to justify it by saying that I really do need bigger clothes now (and baby needs clothes too!).