The first month – what to expect…

So I ended up at the hospital for four days in total due to issues with my bladder and having to have a catheter fitted again after having it taken out… ouch!

I loved being in the hospital, we had so many visitors and I loved the nights where I got to spend time with my little bundle of joy all on my own, heaven! In fact on the first night the midwife actually had to take him away from me for an hour at about 4am as I didn’t want to put him down.

It took us three days to decide on a name, we finally decided on Albie James Moore -he’s named after my Grandpa and Ste’s step-dad, our little AJ! Peanut is Peanut no more!

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Albie’s thoughts on having no name for 4 days, ha!

It was so nerve wracking taking Albie home in his car seat for the first time, we didn’t want to make it too tight so he couldn’t breathe and we didn’t want it too slack so that he was fully secured. I don’t think Stephen had ever driven so safe in his life due to our extra precious cargo onboard.

I was told by the midwives to expect a ‘baby blues’ day on day 5/6 due to all the hormones raging around my body – I was so elated that I couldn’t imagine that this could happen to me… how wrong could I be! As I was exclusively breastfeeding we strapped in for a rough ride, I think I got about 2 hours sleep the whole night, but I didn’t mind, I was running on pure adrenaline.  Suffice to say it caught up with me the next day.

The midwife came for her first visit on Friday where he was weighed and she checked my breastfeeding technique, which apparently was perfect, yeah! She also told me about the baby blues and told me to brace myself. We arranged for her to come back again on Monday as I’d only been home a matter of hours.

The day went by in a blur of feeding, nappies and visitors – to say I was exhausted was putting it mildly. Stephen had his two week paternity leave, so was able to provide a massive amount of support. I was still quite tender from my C Section and my time was taken up with feeding little Albie.

That night the baby blues hit me like a brick wall… I had been none stop feeding and was feeling very sore and vulnerable. My boobs were also very sore, I was told that if they hurt that you’re not doing it right, however I call bullshit! When the baby latches on, especially in the first month, it felt to me like he was sucking razor blades through my nipple. I was told to persevere with the first two weeks and that it would get better – I bloody well hoped it would!

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I broke down on Stephen and told him I didn’t want to just be a mum and that I felt like a milling machine. God bless him, he didn’t laugh at me (how he didn’t I have no idea, I must’ve sounded like an irrational idiot). I was so scared that having a baby meant that I would constantly have him attached to my boob, that I would be in content pain and that I’d never feel attractive again.

Stephen was great and just kept reassuring me and telling me I was doing a great job. In my eyes giving up breastfeeding wasn’t an option, I had given up work for at least three months and this was now my full time job, I had no excuse.

Honestly the first two weeks went by in a blur, one part that I do remember massively is when Albie ‘forgot’ to latch. I was trying to breastfeed him from 3pm on the Sunday and he still hadn’t properly latched that night. I finally gave in and phoned the midwife, I was hysterical. She told me to express off some milk so that he had some fluid. I did have reservations about him not being able to go back to the boob, but at this point I just needed to get some fluid into him.

Luckily my mum had bought me a breast pump the day before, so I expressed off 30ml and fed him straight away. The midwife came that morning and concluded that my technique was fine, but as he’d not fed for so long my boobs had become engorged. We resorted to using a nipple shield so that he could latch on (I’d bought some of these in advance on the recommendation of my lovely friend in Australia, who was also breastfeeding and quickly becoming my oracle – thanks Abby!). The midwife told me to keep offering him the nipple each time he needed a feed before resorting to the shield. Thank goodness the next feed he miraculously remembered how to latch and all was well with the world.

It worked out well too as I knew that Albie was able to go seamlessly from the breast to the bottle and back again, so it meant that I could start to express off some of the feeds to allow Stephen to do some of the feeding and for me to have a cheeky glass of vino 😉

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Such an over achiever already, ha!

Once we’d overcome this obstacle we were faced with another one, which we were quickly realising is the case with a newborn… he had now started cluster feeding at the beginning of week 3, he literally didn’t stop feeding for 24 hours. It was exhausting! Apparently it is good for increasing your supply, but in all honesty you don’t give a flying f*** about that at the time, ha! Luckily this episode only took 24 hours.

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There’s no way you can be mad with him!

I felt confident with my breastfeeding and it was getting less and less painful, which was a massive relief. Nearly four weeks after Albie was born we had one of my best friend’s weddings. I had initially meant to be a bridesmaid, however when we found out we were expecting Albie, I graciously stood down. The wedding was over the water at the Wirral and we were invited all day. I made the decision to express 3 x breast milk (60ml) feeds in advance and to have 3 x formula feeds (90 ml) and had enlisted my mum to watch Albie for the day with her boyfriend.

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The stunning bride

It felt great to get out for the day and to spend some time with Stephen. As everything had happened so quickly, this was our first date drinking since October! The wedding was absolutely stunning, the bride looked absolutely stunning and we had such an awesome day. I missed Albie massively, yet knew he was in good hands! It was quite funny as I had to take a massive bag with me so I could fit my breast pump in it (I expressed and discarded the milk throughout the day so that my flow wasn’t affected).

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We’d reached the four week milestone and couldn’t be happier, we were just about starting to find our feet in terms of routine and I felt like I’d cracked the breastfeeding.

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C Section – We finally meet Peanut

The two weeks before the C Section, Stephen and I got a lot of the baby items ticked off our list! To say we’re laid back is somewhat of an understatement! Were so lucky that we had the help and support of our family, and that we received some amazing gifts from our friends to get the ball rolling.

The items that we decided to go ahead with (which I’d totally recommend to anyone looking for a pointer with regards to essentials for a new (first) baby):

  • PramBugaboo Chameleon – We got this as a gift from my mum and granny, it was 849 from Winstanley’s Pram World in Wigan (which was recommended by one of my good friends) and we got the car seat included in the price (worth 200). We also got the isofix adapters so that the seat could go on the pram frame. As we’re moving to Australia we wanted a pram that could be adaptable to different terrains, we also wanted a buggy/ crib option, which would give us the best of both worlds. It’s such a dream to push, the only issue we have is with the storage, which can’t be accessed easily when the crib fitting is being used.
  • Car SeatBeSafe Izi-Go Modular – Midnight Black – We decided to go with this option as opposed to the Maxi Cosi as BeSafe is the regulatory / safety body for the manufacturing of car seats, we felt confident that this would be the best option for us when it came to the safety of the seat. This car seat is the only one that has been tested not only for front and rear imp ace, but for side impact also.
  • Isofix base (for car seat) – When my friend in Aus recommended this, I had no idea what this was – but if you have a car, this is a must have. It makes putting the car seat into the car and taking it lout of the car so much easier. No seat belt required!
  • Co-sleeper CribChicco Next to Me – This was recommended to me by one of my friends in Australia who had just had a baby. I’d never heard of them, but let me tell you that this is one of the best purchases and options for those wanting to opt for co-sleeping.
  • Moses Basket – With Moses baskets, I feel these are a personal choice – all I will say is that if you have a family member or friend that is willing to donate or let you borrow one of theirs, I would do. I completely understand the desire to have everything new when it’s your first baby, however they do grow out of the moses basket at about 3/4 months (depending on how big your baby is). You can however pick up a lovely Moses basket for upwards of 30, so it doesn’t break the bank and they really do come in handy in the first months – especially if you’ve had a C Section and don’t want to be climbing the stairs over and over again.

These are what I feel are the essential ‘big items’ to buy before the arrival of your little one, if you’re breast-feeding (however, if you’re bottle feeding you will need things like sterilisers and bottles etc.)

One of the elements that I had ZERO clue about was the hospital bag, I didn’t know what was too much, too little, essentials and ‘nice to have’… However now I’ve been there and done that so to speak, here’s what I’ll say is best to take:

For Baby:

  • 4 x vests (short sleeve) – for throw up allowance
  • 4 x sleep suits
  • 1 x hat (to put on once born)
  • 1 x babygrow (to put on once born)
  • 1 x pack of new born nappies (Mamia from Aldi are the best)
  • 1 x pack of cotton wool
  • 1 x natural baby wash (paraben and alcohol free)

For mum:

  • Comfy PJs (with nursing option if breastfeeding)
  • Packet disposable knickers
  • Packet of pregnancy pads
  • 2 x pack of chunky socks (some painkillers can make your feet feel v cold)
  • Cardigan
  • 2 x loose fitting outfits (one size bigger than normal dress size) – I went for leggings, cami and loose fitting nursing jumper
  • Lanolin – if breastfeeding for your nipples (lifesaver)
  • Nice body lotion
  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Shower gel (its mad how much a nice shower after giving birth can make you feel better!)
  • Face wipes
  • Phone charger
  • hair tie/ head band
  • Towel (hospitals don’t provide these)

So now I’ve given you my hospital bag 101, I’ll tell you about my amazing experience welcoming Peanut into the world.

Our booking time was 8am, so we set off from home at 7am as the drive is about 40 minutes away. I didn’t feel nervous at all, I was just so excited to meet my little bundle. I think it helped as I’ve had four major abdominal surgeries before, I kind of knew what to expect from a recovery perspective and the thought of a spinal didn’t phase me.

Upon arrival at the hospital my best friend Sophie met us, she was my midwife and would be in theatre with me. It felt so reassuring knowing that she was looking after us. We were shown to our bed on the ward, but advised that we would be provided with a private room (the perks of being bests with the midwife!). The team told us that I was the only C section that day (4th July 2016), so that I should be in by 9am. I was told to put the hospital gown on and wait for them to come and grab me.

Stephen and I sat and chatted and were very relaxed. I think Stephen was more nervous than me, but didn’t let me see it.

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We found out that a lady had had complications with her birth that morning and had to go to theatre, so we actually ended up waiting until about 10:30.

When they came to get me, I felt nothing other than excitement that I was going to meet Peanut very soon.

Once we got to the theatre, Stephen was taken to ‘scrub up’ and I was taken to have the spinal. The room was filled with lots of people, but was v calm and the radio was on. I remember noting how relaxed it was and how it filled me with ease.

Now a lot of people asked me if the spinal hurt, honestly I didn’t feel anything. There was pressure at the bottom of my spine, but definitely not pain. Once I’d had the spinal I was told to lie down. They did a test with cold water to make sure I couldn’t feel anything, it was so surreal as I could feel it on my breast but then it disappeared. I remember being worried as I could wiggle my toes, but the anaesthetist (who was amazing BTW) laughed and said I wasn’t giving birth through my toes, ha!

Once I’d lied down they put the screen up so that I couldn’t see what was happening the ‘business end’ and Stephen sat beside me. Sophie popped around to say hello and I gave the other midwife, who was also a friend, my phone to document the birth.

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I did have a little wobble when the began, my blood pressure dropped and I felt very faint and sick, however a quick dose of an anti sickness drug into my canular soon put that to rest.

Throughout the whole process I was kept informed, the surgeon was just amazing and I felt totally at ease with him. Sophie told me he was the best in at what he does, so I had no reservations at all.

The next thing I remember is my anaesthetist telling me that I’d feel pushing and pulling as they pulled Peanut out, however I felt absolutely nothing. Some people say it feels like washing up in your stomach, but honestly I didn’t feel a thing.

One moment later Stephen was standing up to see Peanut be delivered, he turned to me and told me he was a boy – I was just in awe, it didn’t seem real.

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Sophie shouted over that he was gorgeous and perfect. Before I knew it he was all wrapped up next to me. I looked at Stephen and we knew in that moment that this was our little family, just amazing. On the radio was M People, Moving on Up, which tickled me.

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They put Peanut on me for skin to skin contact, all at once I felt complete. I’m not going to lie and say it was like the movies with sunshine and rainbows, but it was pretty special thinking that this little bundle of joy was mine.

Little Peanut was born at 11:06am and weighed 6lb 10oz.

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They gave Peanut to Stephen to take to recovery as they operated on my dermoid (cyst) on my ovary – again they talked me through the whole process and I was reassured that they were able to drain it and preserve all of my ovarian tissue, phew!

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In recovery I was reunited with Peanut and had more skin-on-skin contact, Sophie even tried to get him to breastfeed, he didn’t latch the first time, but definitely had the instinct.

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Once we’d been in recovery for 30 minutes, we were taken back to the ward whilst we waited for our room to be ready.

It was so surreal being wheeled back to the ward with our baby, such a special feeling. Whilst back in the bay I decided to have another go at breastfeeding and after a few false starts he latched on, it was literally the most amazing feeling in the world and it literally was sunshine and rainbows. I remember ‘What a Wonderful World’ being on the radio and that was the song that I knew I’d remember forever.

At 3pm our room became available and I got ready for my first night on my own as a mum – amazing!

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When I first found out that I had to have a C Section I was absolutely gutted, however I can honestly say it was one of the best experiences of my life and that I wouldn’t change it for the world.

One chapter closes, a new one opens…

This is the part of the blog that I was so nervous about writing, all will transpire as you read on…

Whilst waiting for my bundle of joy to arrive I had so much to look forward to, I was back in the UK with my family and I wanted to take full advantage of them being only a short car journey away (as opposed to a 24 hour flight!).

I decided that I was going to go against tradition and arrange my own baby shower, I’m a massive control freak and as this whole pregnancy was such a surprise I wanted to make sure that all my family and friends were invited.

My dad and step mum kindly let me use their house for the baby shower, they have a lovely back garden that would just be the best setting.

I invited my close friends and family to come along, but was really gutted that my mum and granny couldn’t make it as they were in Spain. It was ok though as I knew we’d make up for it when Peanut arrived.

One of the things I was most thrilled about was that my Nana could come! My dad’s mum means the absolute world to me and helped to bring me up, she lost my grandpa only 7 months previous and had been struggling, so I hoped that this might cheer her up as I knew how excited she was about the impending arrival.

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The baby shower was just the most special day, it was sunny and I was surrounded by so many people that I love. I was showered with so many special gifts and was blown away by everybody’s generosity.

I left the games element up to my guests and they sure didn’t disappoint! My favourite was the ‘baby grow’ game, where each team of four had to create a ‘designer baby grow’ to win an exclusive prize. As you can see from above, I have some pretty talented friends.

I decided to pick the baby grow that had a kangaroo on it and the words ‘ Oz or UK, it will be ok!’ – It meant so much to me, as it was playing on my mind that I would be whisking Peanut all the way back around the world again in six month’s time. I was thrilled when I found out that it was my Nana’s team that had designed that baby grow, I knew it was their way of showing how much they support me.

One of the great things about being back in the UK is that I get to attend some of my family and friend’s big life occasions, hell there are three weddings that we’ve been invited to in the UK this summer. The first of the weddings was Stephen’s sister’s wedding, which was taking place two weeks after the baby shower. I was so excited as it meant that I’d get to meet some of Stephen’s family that I hadn’t met yet, and of course to celebrate Yvonne’s special day.

As with so many moments in my life, things never go as planned and things seem to happen when I least expect them, leaving me feeling like a rug has been pulled from under my feet…

It was the day before Yvonne’s wedding and Stephen and I were in Liverpool shopping for Stephen’s suit and I got a call from my dad. My nana had been taken ill in the week and was gravely ill at Wigan Infirmary – my dad explained that she was having trouble breathing and that she was in intensive care. Stephen and I rushed to be by her bedside that evening. We knew that we had Yvonne’s wedding the next day and I was now heavily pregnant and my pain from my adhesions had gotten even worse – to the point I couldn’t drive on my own. I got a chance to speak to my nana and give her a hug and a kiss and told her I’d be back on Monday morning.

The wedding was stunning and Yvonne looked beautiful, however I couldn’t help but think of my nana all day.

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I received a phonecall at 2pm from my brother, who explained that they had made the difficult decision to stop the oxygen – I was absolutely devastated, but understood the reasons and that we didn’t want her to be in pain anymore. He told me that she was stable and that all the family were there and to not worry.

The next morning I raced to the hospital with Stephen, however five minutes before we got there she had sadly passed away. It was like we’d been hit by a rock, my nana, the matriarch of our family had gone, only two weeks before our planned c-section and arrival of Peanut. We were completely in shock.

Despite the awful circumstances, I was happy that my nana and my grandpa would be together again. My family also reassured me that nana finding out about me having Peanut and meeting Stephen had made her some happy in the past six months and that she couldn’t have been happier for me and our future family.

I wont go into details about the send off we gave her, but I will say that we gave her the goodbye that she deserved.

The two weeks before the c-section, Peanut’s arrival, were again – the highest of the highs and the lowest of the lows. It truly brought to the fore the sentiment of the saying that as one chapter closes, another one opens.

I am so lucky to have had a lady like my nana in my life, she has tight me so much and had helped to make me the person that I am today, for that I am forever thankful and will have the memories for a lifetime.

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For my Nana Mary and Grandpa Albert – you’re with us always in our hearts and our thoughts. x