The Peaks of Labour

Baby Boy 1

I read somewhere once that sometimes the longest journeys have the best destinations and I think that applies perfectly to pregnancy and labour. These are the peaks of my labour and birth story (the pits can be found here).

Early Labour – During the early stages of labour I was obviously uncomfortable but not at the gripping pain stage. It was very clear that Baby E was on his way and this brought a quiet, contented excitement. I spent those early hours taking baths, bouncing on my exercise ball and Mr W and I watched episodes of The Sopranos while we patiently waited. We even took a photo of the sunrise that morning, little did we know Baby E had other ideas and a whole new sunrise would happen before he made an appearance!

The Labour Bubble – It seemed that nothing else was happening and no one else existed (not even the plethora of midwives, doctors, anaesthetists and medical students that joined us as my labour unfolded). It was as if I were living life blurred at the edges and only focusing on what was happening to Baby E, myself and Mr W.

Our Story – After reading many birth stories and watching far too many episodes of One Born Every Minute, I was excited to see what our story be. Even though it’s a story with complications and twists and turns, it is our story.

The Relief – That split second between the big moment of giving birth and the even bigger moment of Baby E being put on me was instant relief. After all the hours of discomfort, pain and anticipation, I felt ‘normal’ before the life changing moment when I met Baby E.

First Cry – Baby E gave a gargle of a cry when he was first put on me before being whisked away to another room by a midwife to get a little more encouragement and to check him over. Hearing that cry from the other room, which we would get to know so well, was an amazing sound. We knew instantly that was our boy despite having heard nothing from him before other than that all important heartbeat.

It’s a Boy! – The only thing I got from my very undemanding birth plan was Mr W telling me the sex of our first child. We had decided not to find out during my pregnancy and we truly had no preference. I had a very strong instinct from the start that we were having a boy…mum knows best!

Wow, it’s you – The first cuddle and proper look at the tiny little human I knew so well for 9 months yet had never actually met really is something words would never do justice. Baby E looked up at Mr W and I with big eyes and huge eyelashes. So new and yet seemingly so aware soaking it all in. Although we had never met it was as if I always knew this was what my baby would look like.

So that is our story of how Mr W and I became a family of 2 to a family of 3. Ready to learn the biggest lesson of our life, how to become parents, taught by the best teacher – Baby E.

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The Pits of Labour

Sunrise1When I was pregnant I read and heard many birth stories. You would have thought that the positive ones that were quick and relatively straight forward would bring the most comfort to a pregnant lady but I found myself being more reassured by the ones that were not so ‘easy’. No matter how hard or long and difficult it was, there they were with their happy, healthy baby at the other side of it. If they could do it, so could I.

So here is the first part of my story. I decided to reflect on it by looking at the pits (the low points!) first then follow it up with a post on the peaks (which can be found here)…there are some honestly, despite what the following may suggest!

The Pits

Length of Time – It was 36 hours from when I first felt those ‘enough to keep you awake’ cramps to when Baby E was born. A long time in anybody’s book. It didn’t help that I had been surrounded by tales of ‘Oh, my little one was in a hurry. We got to the hospital at one o’clock and she was here by twenty past’. Seriously!! The timing of my labour meant that I was awake from the Monday morning until the Wednesday night (which I spent in a shared ward with 3 newborns, a snoring lady and regular midwife checks, not a recipe for a good nights sleep!).

The Pain – so obvious it doesn’t really need pointed out. For around the first 12 hours I was doing good and coping well, then the pain went up a good few notches. Although I had never experienced labour before I knew something was not quite right. Despite getting very definite, distinct contractions I was also experiencing pain in between the contractions which lasted right through to Baby E’s birth. So with my mum’s final words of encouragement ringing in my ear ‘remember, the contraction will pass and you will get a little break in between’, we called the hospital and explained that I was most certainly not getting these so called breaks in between. We left the house for the last time as a family of 2 with me feeling like an army of tiny little troll beasts were pulling my insides in all directions.

The Bleeding – When we got to the hospital I began to lose blood which needed to be monitored by the midwife and doctor. I also passed some significant clots which was obviously concerning. My hopes of remaining in the maternity unit quickly disappeared and we were moved to the labour ward where I had my waters broke, which also contained blood, and I continued to be monitored.

Baby E Misbehaving – During our time in the hospital Baby E was monitored, I think this was due to my blood loss and continuous pain. As labour progress Baby E was not quite playing ball and had a few dips in his heart rate, which resulted in lots of changing sides for me to try and improve this and he had clips put on his head to get his blood checked a number of times.

The Epidural – At around the 30 hour mark I reluctantly decided to take the epidural. I was exhausted and because of the pain I was experiencing between contractions I was not getting a break. So I thought I needed to try and get some kind of rest before the big push (literally). Also the midwife told us that if I continued to progress the way I was I could have another 10-12 hours ahead…what! I had heard others describe the relief of the epidural and how amazing it was, unfortunately it didn’t quite work for me. There were complications as it went into the wrong part of my spine, which resulted in the anaesthetist administering the drug by hand when I felt the previous dose wearing off. By the time I felt it kicking in I maybe got ten minutes of the benefit before we had to begin the process of checking me and administering the drug again. As well as this I experienced a post-dural headache which lasted for 5 days after giving birth. This was the worst thing about my recovery.

Assisted Delivery – Unfortunately despite waiting the two hours after being fully dilated, Baby E was clearly too comfortable and had not descended far enough for me to deliver him completely on my own. So after 40 minutes of trying, those menacing looking forceps were produced accompanied by their evil friend Mr. Episiotomy and despite all that had preceded Baby E made his safe and what seemed to me, perfect entrance to the world. 

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Little Weekly Wonders #3

Little Weekly WondersSunny Days – This week has brought some warm sunny days to the North East of Scotland, which doesn’t happen all that often! It has meant that Baby E and I could enjoy getting out of the house for some long, hazy, warm afternoon walks in our local area. As well as this being enjoyable in itself it also meant that we could go out without the usual hassle and bulk of dressing for arctic conditions. Very pleasant and considerably time saving when getting ready to leave the house! Baby E has enjoyed the warmer weather for his walks and contentedly kicked his legs, waved his arms and laughed his way around our route. Perfect.

Bouncing Downward Dog – the quest to crawl continues. Baby E is trying so hard to get on the move, he is so interested in everything and really wants to get exploring (note to self: start thinking like a 7 month old and remove anything I don’t want to be ‘explored’). He has now progressed to getting his feet on the floor and pushing his bum high in the air and doing a good few bounces. His face is still smooshed to the floor as he has not quite figured out what he is meant to do with his upper body yet. The result is something that resembles a downward dog pose with a bounce and slightly like a twerk, although I prefer the yoga reference! Baby E seems delighted with this progress and stops every so often to look at Mr W and I as if to say ‘am I doing it, did I move?’…not quite yet little one.

‘Mr Sandman, bring me a broom’

So your little one has just drifted peacefully off to the land of nod and you have just completed your successful settling victory dance…now what?

Sleep when the baby sleeps!!! This is the one piece of advice pretty much everyone gave me when I was pregnant and just after I had Baby E and they exclaimed it quite forcefully. However, I cannot nap on demand no matter how exhausted I am. How I spend nap time has changed over the months and as Baby E’s naps have become more predictable I now feel that I can make the most of this time.

For the first couple of months Baby E’s nap time was spent…cuddling Baby E. He was not great at sleeping in his moses basket through the day (except for a couple of sneaky times when we tricked him with the aid of a hot water bottle and one of our t-shirts) and to be totally honest I wanted to cuddle him! I loved just relaxing on the couch while my newborn slept peacefully in my arms but the time did come where I felt he needed to transition into sleeping in his moses basket then eventually his cot for his day time naps. This created some good quality nap time for Baby E and some ‘free’ time for me…

Which I filled frantically doing things around the house which I just could not do while Baby E was awake or that took ten times longer and slowly destroyed my soul. However, for the past couple of months I have been more conscious of striking a healthy balance between doing the necessary jobs around the house and doing something for me even if it is just for 10 minutes. Well even the hardest workers are entitled to a break, right?

So here are a few things I like to do while Baby E catches some Z’s.

Nap time activitiesI have just completed the 30 Day Yoga Challenge with Adriene, which I discovered on YouTube. This involves, not surprisingly, doing a yoga session every day for 30 days and the sessions can last between 10 and 30 minutes depending on the particular day. I am definitely no yogi bear but I really enjoyed this and completed it without skipping a day, I even started looking forward to taking a little of Baby E’s nap time to do the sessions. Adriene has a very relaxed and realistic approach and she is very focused on ‘finding what feels good’ rather than demanding you contort yourself into impossible positions and holding them for an eternity (which is what I used to think yoga was about). Now, I didn’t exactly turn into a pretzel but I definitely noticed a difference in my flexibility and had fewer aches and pains in my back and neck than usual. I would highly recommend trying this out if you are looking for a relaxing form of light exercise.

I love reading. Getting into a good story is something I have always enjoyed but these days its been all about the Gruffalo or Barry the Fish with Fingers, which despite being entertaining reads are not quite to my usual taste. Even if it is just for 10 minutes during Baby E’s nap time, taking time to read a chapter is something I am finding myself doing more often. My favourite books are crime by authors such as Tess Gerritsen, Jo Nesbo and Camilla Lackberg.

My new found hobby of blogging. Despite reading blogs throughout my pregnancy, my own little blog is only just over two weeks old. So far I am really enjoying taking some time to reflect on what my pregnancy was like and record our life with Baby E. It feels like my own little project but still so completely about the little person enjoying his nap in the next room.

I still whizz around the house doing all the usual chores that need to be done but I now also take a bit of time to do some little things that make me happy and refreshed and ready to go spend some quality time with Baby E when he rubs those sleepy eyes awake. On that note…

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Post Pregnancy Hair Loss

The battle is real! It is one of those things everyone says happens but you don’t fully appreciate it until it happens to you, at least I didn’t. I have always had lots of hair, naturally thick and curly (and always wanted sleeker straight hair, isn’t that always the way), so when the post pregnancy hair loss warning came I didn’t really give it much thought. Then at around 4 months after baby E made his grand entrance my hair started making its limp exit.

It was more extreme than I expected. When I washed or brushed my hair it just came out by the handful, my scalp was also quite tender and I spent many a night complaining of ‘sore hair’ to Mr W (that is a thing, right?). I was so taken aback by the amount of hair that would come out during and after washing it that I had to show my parents when we visited them. To which my dad helpfully responded ‘Christ, is that normal?’ well yes dad, yes it is.

So over the next two months my hair continued its great escape and I started sporting the fetching look of two triangles, sparsely populated with hair by my temples. I also became obsessed with checking Baby E for little cheese wire-like devil hairs that may have sneaked onto him. My house took a good hit too, my hoover and shower plug groaned as they became engorged with the tangle of hair and my floors turned into the Wild West with a tumbleweed of hair balls.

While the only thing that is guaranteed to stop your hair falling is the floor, there are a few things I did to help take care of it while it worked its way through this difficult phase.

Hair Loss

I started taking an iron supplement each day. This may have helped, it may not but what it did do is give me the feeling that I was doing something to try and help. Stress can contribute to hair loss and even though I repeatedly said to everyone ‘it’s completely normal’, the hardest person I had to convince was myself. Taking an iron supplement each day made me feel a little more in control and feeling like I was doing something positive to help.

I invested in a Tangle Teaser hairbrush. This does seem more gentler than dragging my normal brush through my hair and while the hair obviously still came out it was less than the usual handfuls that had been making their new home on my old brush.

I made a conscious effort to be kinder to my hair. I didn’t tie it back so tightly and took more care when washing, brushing and straightening it and tried to give it a good break between washes. I also tried to nourish it, my long term favourite leave in conditioner is Vitapoint, an oldie but a goodie in my opinion.

Now at just over 7 months since giving birth my hair loss has slowed considerably, so I can now more convincingly say it is completely normal and it will stop! However, when those lovely locks do decide to take up residence in their custom made follicles it appears they decide to revert back to little wisps with a mind of their own…a whole new battle.

Little Weekly Wonders #2

Little Weekly WondersThis weeks memorable moments…

Baby E feeds dad. Aw, a cute way of avoiding the food he should be eating. However, this was a very sweet moment to see Baby E share his rusk with Mr W (he better get his game face on if a piece of broccoli comes his way!). Baby E was fascinated at seeing his dad eat the food he was offering and he was concentrating so hard to make sure he got it into Mr W’s mouth. He is really noticing what we are doing lately and is starting to copy us and it was great to see him share. I have optimistically high hopes of future sweetie sharing!

Trolly giggles. Even during a fairly mundane food shop, Baby E manages to muster up a great memorable moment. As we were crossing the car park with Baby E in the trolly he descended into a fit of the giggles for no apparent reason. Perhaps it was the jiggling around as we bumped our way across the tarmac or the breeze tickling his little face and wisping up his hair. Whatever it was it created a very happy, very cute little guy that made me laugh all the way to the car and all the way home.

Mum the gruffalo. Baby E is getting more and more interested in his story time. We were reading the well known favourite The Gruffalo, which of course called for a big deep voice fitting for such a creature. When the gruffalo spoke Baby E whipped his head around, quite concerned, then started some big belly laughs that continued every time the gruffalo spoke. As much as he enjoyed this and found it hilarious, he knew something wasn’t quite right and reached for my mouth try to grab this strange voice that wasn’t his mummy’s!

Easter Sunday. We have had a perfect Easter Sunday, helped along by a little boy who was on good form all day and rare sunny and warm day in Aberdeen. We started of with breakfast at Café Nero where Baby E got a prime seat to watch everyone go about their business then to a park for a stroll in the sun and a visit to the petting zoo. Baby E has not experienced the delights of chocolate yet so got a good collection of books from us and family to help him celebrate his first Easter!

Easter Books Petting Zoo

What was in my hospital bag?

Hospital BagTurns out it didn’t really matter.

I was that pregnant lady…I read all the hospital recommendations, scoured pregnancy blogs and gorged on YouTube ‘What’s in my hospital bag’ videos. I created list upon beautiful list of what I thought I needed and dragged my husband along to the shops to fully immerse him in the experience – because he really needs to experience the dilemma of which maternity pads to buy, right? I packed, unpacked and repacked more times than I care to admit and definitely more times than necessary.

Cut to 24 hours after I hobbled my way across the maternity hospital threshold, I set my weary eyes on my lovingly packed hospital bag for the first time.

You see my bag had never even made it into the hospital until then so it missed its big career defining moment. As we left our car we thought ‘let’s just get in and we can worry about the bags later’, what were we thinking! Well, what we actually thought was there was a good chance we will be sent home and if not Mr W can just pop out and get it. As it turned out once we were there we were in it for the long haul and the way my labour unfolded the only person I wanted ‘just popping out’ was Baby E.

So what was in the bag?

For Baby E

  • A selection of sleep suits and vests
  • A ‘going home’ outfit
  • A couple of hats
  • A cardigan
  • A few bibs & muslins
  • Nappies, cotton pads, Water Wipes, nappy bags, Bepanthen
  • A little teddy
  • A blanket

For Me

  • A couple of nightshirts (I even bought a Gownie!)
  • Cosy socks (many people assured me my feet would get cold)
  • Disposable maternity pants & normal pants (in a size fit for the occasion)
  • A couple of nursing bras
  • A vest top, yoga pants & cardigan for going home
  • Maternity pads & nursing pads
  • Lanolin nipple balm
  • Travel shower gel, facewash & deodorant, my normal moisturiser
  • Lip balm (another recommendation as your lips get dry using gas and air, this is very true)
  • A hairbrush, extra hair bobbles & dry shampoo
  • A can of Evian Face Mist (another recommendation, I cannot comment on its effectiveness for labour but I still have it and is very refreshing from time to time!)
  • Some boiled sweets (which I also still have, the expiry date is 2016 so maybe next time??)
  • My kindle (just in case I happened to get bored, ha!)

What would I change?

  • I would include some jammies I would normally wear for after the birth as I am more a trouser and t-shirt girl than a nightshirt wearing one
  • I would not bother with a Gownie, the hospital one was just fine and to be honest I was completely unaware of anyone wearing any form of clothing when things got going
  • I would not bother with the disposable maternity pants and just ensure I had lots of normal full brief ones, if they don’t get used in the traditional sense I can always use them as a makeshift baby sling
  • I would not bother with maternity pads, instead I would get stocked up on good old night time sanitary towels

So for all it was worth during the actual labour, that is what I lovingly packed in my hospital bag. My advice would be to pack what you want, having now done it I can assure you no one will be doing spot checks and scoring you out of 10 (if they had I would have got a big fat 0 for leaving it in the car).

Take what makes you feel happy, relaxed and prepared. So if that’s enough make up to shame an Avon lady or nothing but a bottle of Champagne, well…Cheers!

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