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Sunday, 25 November 2018

I have a problem

A massive squishy wooly mammoth one! I haven't spoken too much about my knitting antics on my blog felt it's time I should really as it's where my crafty priorities have been last few years.. and now Pippa's here, it's reached a slightly (not very slight at all, pretty massive) obsessive level of addition... If that even makes sense. I suppose this is for a couple reasons, firstly because it's much more sociable than sewing. Rather than be hidden away in a different room, I can sit on the sofa in the evening with Scott and knit away whilst we watch whatever box set or telly show we're into at the time. The other reason (and main one I guess) is no longer having a sewing room. The motivation to sew is so much less when I have to think about dragging my machine out of the wardrobe, what's left of my haberdashery from the boiler cupboard and my (now very meager) fabric stash out of the loft. All of this not as easy as simply opening a door and sitting at my machine like the good old days!! I have to admit though, I'm kinda using the change in circumstances as a bit of an excuse, my knitting obsession began well before Pippa stole my sewing room.

With the exception of Pippa's bedroom blinds and a quick(ish - I'm pretty out of practice) alteration to a dress, I haven't done any proper sewing for a long long time. One project I really would like to finish is the hexagon quilt I started for Pippa's room. I lost momentum with this during pregnancy because of getting carpal tunnel (which also put paid to knitting grrr) and it being predominantly hand sewing but since being back in action it has seen very little attention!

As you can see, I got as far as sewing all the hexagons (700+) into strips and then started sewing the strips together but that's as far as it goes. I even have the wadding and backing fabric ready to go which is now in the loft. Getting it out to take that picture makes me want to carry on again!

I am also planning to do a bit of sewing today when Scott's parents are visiting as Pippa needs a Christmas stocking. Luckily, when spring my fabric stash last year, I had enough foresight to hang onto the Christmas stuff I had!

Anyway, back to what I was meant to be writing about (the queen of procrastination me)...! Knitting!! I have always been a one project at a time sort of person but recently that's not been the case, there's just too much temptation with all the lovely patterns about and I have so much nice wool to use!! I think the obsession has grown so much because I have done a lot of Pippa knitting. Baby/kids garments knit up so quick so there's a lot of instant gratification. Here's a whistle stop tour of some of my recent projects.....

This Telja colourwork jumper was my first proper knit after Pippa was born. Like most of my knitting, it was mainly achieved whilst she was either feeding or asleep on me. This was made from lovely wool my mum gifted me last Christmas and gave me motivation to start finding a way to knit again when a newborn was taking up so much of my time.

Once I finished that one, I went on to knit my Carbeth Cardigan as I realised that breastfeeding in a full jumper wasn't the easiest. In this photo it looks pretty fitted but now Pippa isn't feeding so much and my boobs have shrunk (a lot) and I'm back to (less than, thank you breastfeeding) pre-baby weight it fits more like its intended!

I then moved on to copious amounts of baby knits!

This Mollie Onesie was the bane of my life. For such a simple knit I made so many mistakes. First of all I was really slow, and Pippa grew really fast, so it was too small before even half done. Then I panicked and thought I was running out of wool so brought more of a different dye lot, and then starting a new ball, used that new dye lot but didn't realise the glaringly obvious difference until a long way into the second ball! Hence why the dress has 2 skirts and not 1 as I couldn't face ripping it all back again. However, I am actually really happy with it with 2 shirts so no harm done! Everything happens for a reason right?!

My next Pippa project was her Wee Bee Jumper. I loved this pattern and knit apart from I couldn't understand no shoulder shaping. However, after a few attempts at deviating from the pattern, I stuck to it and no shoulder shaping works fine!

After this I realised how slow 4ply knitting is compared to DK and started a few DK projects, Specially as I started trying not to buy more wool so started using up stash.

Pippa's snowflake
Making Tracks Sweater

I absolutely Love The Purple Pinafore, If I don't forget and get carried away with lots of other projects (which is very likely when I have 14 other projects, most with wool associated, lined up in my ravelry queue) I would like to knit more of these in other colours!

I have actually finished this but it's blocking so ill add a better picture soon
My most recent finish was this Strange Brew jumper which again was knit from leftover wool. The strange brew pattern allows you to knit your own colourwork patterns. for this one I chose a really simply pattern which literally took my 10mins to chart but I do want to do it again with specific wool in mind and a lovely pattern. I do have a lot of teal gradient wool left from a test knit sock I knit last month (will share when the patterns published) which I think will make a lovely pattern. Maybe a cardigan so I might give this 'steeking' thing a go!

After vowing to myself that I must use all my stashed wool before buying more (being a lady of leisure now and all that...) I was sucked in by a Drops Lima sale and brought 15 balls so that I could knit me and Pippa matching jumpers for Chrismas!! This evening I cast on my Bloomsbury Jumper! Hopefully it wont take too long and then Pippa's will be nice and quick! I brought so much that I can probably knit Pippa's in two sizes so we can twin for longer! I'm so sad, poor girl! I also have a lot of expensive hand dyed luxury wool all lined up for a Sunset highway Jumper but this will have to wait now!

There are a few things I really need to get better at. The first being looking after my knits better. The Pippa jumpers I have recently done and the Carbeth Cardigan are all acrylic. Although not fantastic in itself, they look alright considering and they wash well.

When Pippa was a small bean in my belly (before the carpal tunnel), I knitted her a very expensive lovely alpaca/silk/cashmere blanket. Probably cost me around £70. Well in my sleep deprived daze of post baby crazyness, I washed it at 60 degrees!!! Completely ruined it and I was devastated. What an idiot. I have also partially felted two other jumpers both of which are still passable but just not the same so now don't get worn. With some of the lovely wool I have I vow to make a better attempt at looking after my knits better! Part of this will be keeping them separate from the main washing as Scott mainly does the washing these days and wont know! The washing machine has a wool setting, I wonder if that's actually any good at protecting knits, I could just save them up and do a wool wash every so often.

The other thing I really need to improve on is weaving in my ends. It is my most hated job and I never do a very good job. The knitters out there will read this in shock and disgust but I tend to rely on knotting to keep my ends in!! SHOCK HORROR! I have googled countless times ways to improve this but haven't come up with anything better.

When I knitted this stripy cardigan I made a conscious effort to weave the ends in properly, as there were a few. To begin with it looked fine but after a couple washes, they all made their way to the front and I had to pull them back through again, GRR!!! I've taken to leaving my ends slightly longer on the back of my work as that seems to stop this happening.

This point is all the more poignant when thinking about the first of my two longer term WIP's. Throughout the year I have been knitting a temperature scarf, starting from the day Pippa was born and will end on her birthday... It's a very long scarf!!

Progress so far!

As you can see, that's a few ends to deal with!!! I should have done them as I went really but I didn't mainly because I couldn't be bothered but also because I want to do them well as it's effectively double sided. Any tips much appreciated!!!!!! I'm hoping it wont actually be too bad as it's herringbone stitch and it's quite roomy (I know what I mean by that even if noone else does! ha!) so hopefully easy to hide ends. However I hope that doesn't mean they make a reappearance too easily! Although motivation to knit this isn't always that high, I do really like how it's coming out. It's been an interesting year weather wise and I like how dynamic it's made the scarf.

This is my last long term WIP's. Its going to be a Whiteout shawl made from lovely hand dyed lace that Scott brought me for my birthday. I chose it from a lovely little shop in Barcelona when we were there. Because it's so delicate I only knit this when Pippa is in bed if I'm not too caught up in my other projects. I hope ill get a move on with it soon but I'll probably prioritise finishing the scarf before this!

As a finishing note, the last thing I would like to master at some point is Brioche knitting, it looks so amazing! At the moment I don't have a project lined up for this though. I also understand that it's a little tricky so probably not doable with the terror about so maybe this will become an evening project once the shawl is finished!!

Oh yeh, on another finishing note, before I started Pippa's strange brew jumper, I was toying around with my own pattern using the top down raglan style jumper knit, using two wools striping vertically for the front and back but horizontally on the arms. I was doing this by slipping alternate stitches. However, this proved really difficult as I was loosing loads of length on the arms. I think with some playing around it would be doable and a really affective pattern so I plan to come back to this idea sometime and maybe have a go at my own pattern... Wishful thinking I'm sure!

Thursday, 8 November 2018

A different me

Me and my bestie seem to be bouncing off each other a lot at the moment. Despite living less than a mile away from each other and both being on maternity leave, we haven't actually seen each other that much recently. However, as is the case most of the time, we are pretty much on the same page. The reason I start with this is because after reading my blog (I think she's my only reader haha) she has decided to start her own. She says it's because of my cathartic nature of writing... I call it a brain dump of random drivel that comes to mind and gets typed! But because of her wish to join the blogging world, she has inspired to finally get on with writing my next post.

I have been thinking about this post for a long time but now Pippa is very much mobile and into absolutely everything, time to think and write is even less than before (and I thought I was busy then!). She is now a crazy 10 month old who is walking, starting to talk and already has 8 teeth!! She understands so much of what you say to her now and is a real little diva. She completely blows my mind.

Which brings me back to why I am writing this post in the first place. This year has completely flown by. I was meant to be going back to work after Christmas after over a year off. I am not going to lie and say that it's been an easy year full of laughter and happiness because having a baby is bloody hard work. But it has been the best, most rewarding year of my life and I wouldn't change it for the world. I always wondered what I would be like as a mother. I am not known for my patience (and many could argue my compassion) and although I've always wanted kids one day, would not describe myself as a proper mother hen type cooing over all the babies. Certainly at work I much preferred looking after the women rather than the babies. But I have to say I have surprised myself. I could never understand how parents could stick playing the same game over and over again with their child, or singing the same song on repeat or watching that movie for the millionth time... But I get it now. And enjoy it. I love watching her face light up with delight and hearing her laugh, even if that means doing the same thing over and over and over and over again. I also would prefer to do that thing, whatever it might be because if it keeps her happy and occupied then that's much easier than her getting frustrated or annoyed. It's not like I'm going to be able to do what I would like to anyway so what does it matter as long as she's enjoying herself! Gone are the days I can sit in my sewing room for hours on end with only myself to think about. But you know what, if I had a whole day to myself I honestly wouldn't know what to do with it and would miss her terribly!

Although my relationship with my job has been very much up and down in the past, before I went off on maternity leave (despite being a miserable pregnant mess), I was in a good place and enjoying it. However, as time has passed over this year, I have been thinking about the prospect of going back more and more. I didn't want it to impede on the time I have with my baby but unfortunately for a while it did. The lack of sleep is real with a baby let alone having another thing keeping me awake. I was due to only go back on 18hrs but was really dreading the 12hr shifts and am also very reluctant to pay/use too much childcare because quite frankly, I don't want to pay someone else to look after my baby when I want to do it myself. I don't want to get up and leave before she's up in the morning and then return after her bedtime. I don't even know how that would be feasible as I am still breastfeeding. How would that work if I was on several shifts in a row? I'm not saying that's it's wrong or neglectful of mum's or what ever..I know plenty of mum's do it and it works very well for them but that's not what I want for my family. I'm sure many people would argue that I am Molly coddling her or that it would be good for her to have some space away from me and I should 'get my life back too' but work isn't my life. I think the final nail in the coffin was the prospect of missing out on her doing and learning. We are on the waiting list for swimming lessons and when she's old enough I want her to do gymnastics too. These are all things I want to take her to. Who knows what I'll have to work and how much I might miss. We are lucky enough to be able to live a relatively comfortable life on one wage so I have made the decision to take a years career break and just be..

I never saw my self as a stay at home mum/housewife but she's been the making of me. Maybe its because midwifery is a tough job in very trying times at the moment and I'm not sure I'm cut out for it anymore. Women need a strong motivated midwife who they can trust and who will fight for them, especially when the system is at breaking point but I am not sure I have what it takes anymore. I don't think I can truly immerse myself into the journey of childbirth and what women go through now I have done it myself. I don't think I have enough fight in me to give everything to my baby and then also give my all to the women I care for. I know who comes first. I did my first keeping in touch day last week and felt overwhelmed by the whole thing. I can't really explain why. Just that I am not the midwife I used to be. Everyone always said that being a midwife without children doesn't make you any less of a midwife but I feel quite the opposite. I think I was at the top of my game before having Pippa. I think I was good at it (though my colleagues, if they read this, might think otherwise hahahaha). Now I am mentally in such a different place. Although I tried to do my best for the lovely lady I cared for last week (under very trying circumstances which seems to be the norm now), I just didn't feel like I cut the mustard and my heart certainly wasn't in it. which you SOOO need in this vocation. I don't want to speak ill of work but I felt pushed about and vulnerable which I am really not used to. No doubt this is my own insecurity due to work not being my life recently (18 months I've been away from delivery suite and just over a year from midwifery all together). I didn't feel looked after or supported and I really think I should have been. I know how stretched the service is and I know I am a big girl and have been qualified a long time but it's a big scary job with lots of responsibilities. And a lot at stake. Although I knew I was safe and in control really, in my head the doubt was there which I really didn't like. I'm not sure I can be a good mum and a good midwife both at the same time. Not yet.

The reason I named this post 'A different me' was because that bestie i mentioned right at the beginning of this monologue, for a long time after I had Pippa, said that I had changed. In a good way but I had changed. Until recently I didn't understand her and thought she was talking rubbish. But now I see it. And I like it.

Apologies for the stupidly long brain dump jibberish... I found it really difficult to start this post but once I got going, found I couldn't stop

Sunday, 15 April 2018

Don't judge me.

Your not a mother unless your being judged, right?

I know that's a massive sweeping statement to make but blimey, doesn't it feel like it? Becoming a mum is an incredibly steep learning curve so why do we try and make it harder for ourselves?
Much of this post is going to be really difficult to write because I am going to be writing this as a mum, not as a midwife... The saying "do as I say, not as I do" comes to mind. Apologies to anyone who reads this and doesn't agree with certain parenting choices I have made!

When imagining your life with a baby you know it's going to change forever. You understand how your going to be responsible for a human life, how they rely on you, how your sole purpose is to keep them alive.. however I don't think the actual realisation of how this feels can truly sink in until your bundle of joy is in your arms; when your there in the middle of the night propping your eyeballs open with match sticks, praying to the god you (do or) don't believe in that the baby will finally fall asleep. Or when you realise you haven't washed your hair in 3 days and have skipped several meals because keeping your new offspring alive is far more important than yourself... Or when you answer the door to the postman with your boob half out and don't realise until you shut the door, and then what's worse, not even care.

So why is it that we care so much about what other people think? And even more to the point, why is it people have such great opinions about how you do things and feel it's their duty to share those opinions with you. It all starts in pregnancy really. People aren't shy about putting their hands all over your pregnant bump, asking whether your sure it's not twins as you look massive... Thanks. Thanks for that.. Then it comes to what clothes you dress your baby in, where you buy your nursery furniture and what pram system you go for.

Ok ok, so I am talking about quite trivial things here but the points I want to make go so much further and deeper than that... I'll get to the point eventually!

Now we're nearly 4 months into parenthood I can say that were feeling pretty much into the swing of things. Alot of the time I no longer miss my Pippa free life when my responsibilities were so trivial. Generally Pippa is a very laid back baby and I think we are pretty lucky with her. We have learnt so much about her; her likes, dislikes, what distracts her when shes upset and makes her giggle. She's a pretty happy girl most of the time and we enjoy watching her learn and grow every day. After the initial worry with her weight she is now more than making up for it! She's jumped up a centile on the growth chart and has recently got really long too, all of a sudden her 0-3 month clothes didn't fit and some of the 3-6 month are snug round her belly!! Scott says she's got my side of the families chunky thighs! Bless her they are so chubby and cute!

So for my first moan of the post, a few people recently have said to me "so your still breastfeeding then, you sure you have enough milk for her?"... What? Why assume that I wouldn't? I'm not starving her just because I don't want to give up breastfeeding. Surely that just highlights other people's insecurities around breastfeeding, don't try and make me feel like I'm in the wrong. How did the world survive before formula??? Anyway, I said after my last post all about breastfeeding that I wasn't going to bang on about it in this one!

I have been lucky enough to have an awful lot of help from doting daddy which has been a god send. As he works from home most of the time it's nice to have him there. There are the moments I've particularly struggled to settle her, he seems to have the golden touch there! It's also nice just to be able to pass her over for a minute while I go for a pee. Although she generally is pretty easy, she doesn't like being put down much at all! In the lastbcouple weeks or so she's getting a little more independent as she's showing more interest and interaction with toys such as her play gym. However, before this she would go from being a happy soul to crying just because I've put her down to go for that wee!

So here goes the major controversial rant... Like most babies I am sure, she really doesn't like being put down to sleep overnight. Instead, she prefers to be as close to me as possible, hearing my breathing and heartbeat. So as soon as it goes quiet overnight and I put her in a cold, lonely cot, she wakes and refuses to sleep anywhere but next to me. For the first few weeks we really tried incredibly hard to get her to sleep in her side along cot. Both me and my husband would be up most of the night while I repeatedly fed her, settled her and then put her down, only for her to wake 2mins later. Scott was so worried about me falling asleep sat up in bed feeding her that he would sit up with me doing crosswords to try and keep us awake. That then meant that we were both exhausted during the day too and were slowly getting ourselves into a right state. I knew about bedsharing and the risks around it so really didn't want to give into resorting to it. In the end, it was like 4am and neither of us had slept yet and Scott was frantically reading stuff on his phone; he encouraged me to just try feeding lying on my side with her in bed and then to move her back to her side crib when she's finished. So I did, and the next thing I knew it was 8.30am and we had had more sleep in one than we had since she was born. And guess what, she was perfectly alive and well, sleeping soundly next to me. From then on she's slept next to me and we all get at least 8hrs sleep a night (interrupted for feeds but even still).

Now I want to stress STRAIGHT away that we do this as safely as we possibly can. Scott would never co-sleep with her, I have her in the middle of the bed, far away from the edge, I lie on my side with the duvet well away from her and use her own blankets to keep her warm and have any clothing, blankets or pillows etc away that could suffocate her. She is always supported by the firm mattress, and never sleeps on my chest.

So call social services now yeah?

I hate that parents are made to feel that bed sharing is a complete no no when actually it seems that we know very little about it. I always advised parents that it is not recommended however if it was something they did then I would give advice on how to do it safely. I think this is so important as I have recently seen online conversations between mums highlighting some very unsafe ways of sleeping.

Interestingly, if you read the information given to parents (e.g. the BFI caring for your baby at night leaflet), it is all very carefully worded to state how it isn't recommended but if you read between the lines it is quite clear that the true risk (in the absence of known risk factors such as smoking or prematurity, just to mention a couple) is not really known. If the true risk was known then why give guidance on how to do it safely? Research has definitely shown that falling asleep with your baby in places such as a sofa or armchair is more dangerous but most research doesn't differentiate between sharing a bed and falling asleep with your baby in other known dangerous places. This is certainly the case for which NICE Guidance is based on. To me, it appears that there needs to be better research into the risks of SIDS when bed sharing is practiced as safely as possible. This article published in The Independent makes very good reading..

It frustrates me how information designed for parents can be so counter-intuitive. for example, The Lullaby Trust state how they want parents to continue breastfeeding in the safest way possible, and that if parents are concerned about falling asleep whilst breastfeeding lying down, then they should find more upright places to feed where they might not fall asleep.... now where else are mothers to go? A sofa or armchair. Great one! I know from my personal experience of trying to feed both sat up and lying down, I feel a darn sight safer known my baby is well supported lying down if I do fall asleep opposed to being in my arms and at risk of me nodding off and dropping her. When your that tired, you will fall asleep anywhere!

The La Leche League have a very interesting article which starts with the statement:

"A baby is born expecting to stay in close contact with his mother night and day, in order to stay safe, warm and well fed."
So why is it we expect babies to sleep on their own in a cot away from their mothers? Research has shown that babies are poorly neurologically developed at birth so need close physical contact to feel safe. Breastfed babies are also statistically less likely to die of SIDS. so... just to make it as clear as mud...

Bed sharing increases the risk of cot death.
Breastfeeding reduces the risk of cot death.
Bed sharing increases the length that mother breastfeed for.

What is the right thing to do?

The next one I always hear is that 'you want to knock that one on its head' like I am teaching my baby had habits, well if that's the case then I'll deal with it when the time comes and I'll say you told me so. But until then, I have a happy baby and I am a happy mum with a family that sleeps well. And were all still alive. I can't even be arsed to write more about this one... But I will say, you could say this about anything. I was talking to a mum recently who also struggled to get her breastfed baby to have a teat, went to her health visitor for advice and was told "that's what she got for exclusively breastfeeding".
Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Boob feeding

I write this post as my now 12 week old feeds from my boob. I have been thinking about writing this for a while but I've not really been sure where to start. There's so much to say about being a new mum and what it's like to have a newborn. I think the most difficult thing to wrap my head around is that there's no definite right or wrong answer for most things.

Once Pippa woke up and started feeding a few days in, breastfeeding has been easy for me. I am very grateful for this as I've worked with so many mum's and babies who find it very difficult, if not impossible. However, I have quickly learnt that there is so much more to it than simply positioning and attaching a baby. Or is it that simple? It kind of is really but the need to explain/complicate everything is overwhelming...

Not one feed is the same therefore how long should a feed be? What counts as a full feed and should I offer the same side again or the other side? Foremilk and hindmilk? I thought these terms were old hat now but when my girl was having unexplained green poos in the afternoon with no other clinical symptoms of her being poorly, Dr. Google informs me that it must be a foremilk/hindmilk imbalance. Now should I worry about that? I've now learnt no, I shouldn't, but only after a few weeks of trying many different things to 'right' her 'wrong' poo. Most websites recommend block feeding to ensure baby completely drains one boob before going onto the next. Not only does this give you very lopsided boobies but it also can reduce your milk supply. Unless you genuinely have too much milk (which your baby negates so it's unlikely) then messing with milk production seems a silly thing to do. So how do I stop the green poops? I was obsessed until I gave up trying to 'fix' it and forgot about it instead... Guess what, that in itself worked! She only has the occasional green poo now.

Lots of forum reading as told me that it's relatively common for breastfed babies to have yellow stools all morning then greener ones in the afternoon/evening. Quite often I wake up like Dolly Parton in the morning and baby will only take short feeds, probably due to having lots of milk so not having to work as hard to get it. A quick boob squeeze instantly shows me that this milk is much more watery than the stuff in the evening which is much creamier and fattier looking. She also tends to feed longer in the evenings because she has to work harder to get the milk out. Anyway, back to the forum post; this woman was saying that she had spoken to her health visitor about the green poos and she was reassured that the reason the poos are yellow in the morning is because the body takes all night digesting the fattier milk. Then baby takes the watery milk all morning which passes through her digestive system much quicker. This is what makes her poos green. As long as she's showing no other signs of being ill, then there isn't a problem!

DISCLAIMER: I've not looked at any actual research to support this, which if a was a good midwife, I would, but in my mummy state (which is all I'm good for at the minute), this makes sense. My health visitor seened to agree too!

By about 5 weeks, I pretty much felt I had grasped boob feeding and from 6 weeks I started expressing a bit. To begin with I was convinced I couldn't have any milk in there and I must be starving my baby because I couldn't get any milk out. Well, only when I had my Dolly Parton boobs in the morning anyway. After yet another frantic Google, I then tried expressing one side whilst feeding the other side... Bingo!!! Plenty in there after all. I just needed her to initiate the let down reflex to get it out. I only have a hand pump though so it took a bit of practice and a few spillages to master holding a baby and pumping at the same time! Before I knew it I had 1.6L in the freezer ready to feed my bubba when I wasn't with her.

The aim of all this was because we/I had/have a few things coming up where we didn't intend on Pippa going to. The main one being the Harry Potter stage show in London, a two performance show which would have meant us being away from her all day and evening. In hindsight, we should have tried to introduce a bottle sooner but I kind of let that slip as I just assumed that after a few goes, she'd feed fine, specially as she had a teat very early on in her life... Turns out she completely forgot how to use one and had no incentive to re-learn! Why on earth would she want a weird plastic thing in her mouth when she could have milk from its source and have a lovely comforting mummy cuddle at the same time?! After spending a lot of money on a variety of tests and bottles and a few stressful days trying to get her to feed, we gave up. I started to hate the idea of her having a bottle as much as she hated it being shoved in her gob. I feel so grateful that breastfeeding has been straightforward, I didn't want to ruin it just for the odd day here and there. In the big scheme of her life, this period is so short, missing out on a few things really isn't a big deal. We got out money back on the Harry Potter tickets and the other things I'll just have to make work. She came on a hen do with me last weekend (I was only going to the day), I have another in a couple months and then the weddings too. Ideally they don't want kids at the weddings but they're both really good friends of mine so hopefully we can work something out! Other than that I don't have to leave her. Now what do I do with all the milk in the freezer?!

It's one thing getting to grips with breastfeeding at home, but it's a whole other ball game doing it in public! With my relatively small boobs (which aren't so small anymore, I'll show you in a bit, keep reading!), I wasn't too worried about having too much on show but it's still the logistics of actually attaching a baby. The boob needs to come out however discreet you try and make it! I have found using shawls and cover ups a waste of time. Once she's on theres nothing to see anyway and the shawl is in the way when trying to attach her! I need to see my boob to make sure I'm not inadvertently attaching her to my belly button or something (you know what I mean...)! As she's got bigger and has more neck strength,  and she's pretty easy to get in place so I don't tend to worry about having my boob out as it's not for long. Even when shes not attached yet, her head covers most things so old John Doe would have to be staring pretty hard to catch a glimpse of any nipple. Although it shouldn't, I think breastfeeding still makes plenty of people feel uncomfortable so in my experience, as soon as people have worked out what your doing, they make an awkward effort to look in completely the opposite direction anyway! Problem solved! I am yet to be challenged about feeding, but to be honest, I think this is mainly because people just think I am cuddling my precious bubba. I tell you what though, I praise H&M for selling nursing tops which look just like normal tops! No complicated wraps or ugly V-shapes.. I have 5 now and love them... Though, do be careful with that nipple cream... I couple of mine to have grease stains from misplaced Lansinoh cream which doesn't come out!

In between the crazyness of having a newborn baby, I have managed here and there to do some knitting. Thank God my hands are pretty much back to normal! It was in trying on and photographing my latest knit that it was pointed out to me how big my boobs have got!! Look at this for comparison...!!!

Before breastfeeding

Whilst breastfeeding!
I would be really pleased but all I can think is how saggy they'll probably be when I stop feeding! Oh well, enjoy them while it lasts I guess!

My Telja fair isle jumper is the first project I have finished. This is made from wool my mum got me for Christmas and is absolutely lovely!! However, I didn't think about boob access when I chose the pattern. I don't mind though, it'll have to be kept safe until I can wear it! However, with this is mind, I chose a cardigan for my next project. A nice comfy relaxed one with the boob only a few buttons away! I am using a chunky wool which I got sent by mistake so it feels like a freebie knit also! It's a relatively cheap acrylic yarn but never the less, it'll do the job nicely!

If nothing else, in the last 3 months I have learnt not about breastfeeding but about my baby. I actually think breastfeeding is as simple as positioning and attaching a baby on the boob, the rest of it us as human beings make complicated. The rest of the animal world don't rely on the internet to solve their insecurities so  I am going to stop rely on Dr. Google and listen to my gut feeling a little bit more!

Friday, 16 February 2018

The toughest week of our lives: part two

Like writing part one, it has taken me rather a while to get around to this post! Almost another month to be precise. That probably means I am not telling the story in its true form now; as they say, you quickly forget all the finite details... but here goes...

We went home the day after Pippa was born and after my cesarean (day 1). In hindsight this was far too early but I was a midwife and knew what I was doing so felt that I could be at home... I'd be doing the same things at home as I could in hospital right? After the cesarean she was very very mucoussy. Most section babies get mucoussy but she was possibly the worst baby I have ever seen. Because of this she wasn't really feeding very well and whenever she did feed she then vomited back up. Therefore I was trying her at the breast every 3hrs and then expressing and giving her that by syringe. The last good(ish) feed she had on the day we went home was about 7am. usually the wards wouldn't discharge someone when the feeding isn't great but like I said, I'm a midwife and knew the score/what to do etc. Also because I expressed so much antenatally I knew I had plenty of milf for her in the freezer, therefore when I was at home she was actually getting more milk than I was expressing for her in the hospital.

We were discharged at round 2pm and made our way to Jayne's house to pick up the dog on the way home. I was quite adamant that I wanted to introduce the both of them together at home. I didn't want to get Charlie back and the house already smell of this new weird creature. Again, with hindsight, this was our second mistake.

Initially is was nice being home and in my own environment but I soon got stressed about the feeding. It got to about 10pm and she still hadn't been to the breast since that morning and was still being really sick. In the end I rang the postnatal ward and spoke to a lovely, really experienced midwife who advised me to give her a 10ml top up with the intention to make her vomit the mucous out so then hopefully she would want to feed properly; so thats what I did.

1am came and so did the vomit. Loads of it. Darkly blood stained and it absolutely stank! Not normal what so ever!!!! I rang 111 who advised me that we should get her seen at the childrens hospital within an hour. Shit. Scott hadn't slept for god knows how long so was worried about him driving. I had managed to catch an hour just before the vomit happened but there was no way I could have driven.

Well this dilemma was taken out of our hands. I went to let the dog out for a wee before we left and Scott was changing Pippa's nappy when I hear this panicked call from upstairs. Rushing up, I find a very blue, not breathing baby on the changing table with loads more bloody vomit obstructing her nose and mouth. I instantly went into work mode and resuscitated her. At the time it felt like forever but it was probably no longer than a minute or so and she came round well. However because of this there was no way in hell I was putting her in the car and driving ourselves. I was NOT going to resus her again at the side of the road if it happened again. I rang 999 who agreed and sent us an ambulance.

On arrival of the ambulance crew she did her third bloodstained smelly vomit. They hadn't had any experience of such a young baby so I think they were thankful that I was a midwife. All we needed was the ride (and possibly to resus equipment if she went blue again). and they were happy for me to take the lead: fortunately it wasn't needed. When they saw the vomit though they did call ahead to the childrens as they were concerned about it too and they advised us to be blue lighted in. Luckily it was 2 in the morning by then so the roads were clear. I sat on the stretcher strapped in and held Pippa so she was upright. This worked well for me too as I was somewhat cushioned from the very bumpy journey, though to be fair at this point the last thing I was thinking about was myself.

When we got to the Childrens they did a full check on her which was fine and they weighed her too. This was a day earlier than it would usually be done (day 2 rather than day 3) and showed that she has lost 14% of her birth weight!!! Ouch! On day three we would expect babies to loose upto 10% of their birth weight so 14% really isn't good. Yet again, in hindsight it's not surprising as she vomited up more than she was getting in but at the time I felt like I had failed her. Luckily her blood tests showed that she wasn't too badly affected by the weight loss but did show that she had an infection. Because the blood she had vomited was old looking and not bright and fresh, it was believed that it was from me rather than her. They tested my breast milk but I knew it wasn't that as the blood in the vomit was way too much to be from me; specially when I was expressing and my milk was not obviously blood stained. Later on it was assumed that she probably ingested it at the cesarean and it festered in her which caused her infections. This explains why is was so heavily blood stained and why it smelt so bad.

After about 10hrs of observation, they wanted to admit her to the childrens hospital which would have meant I was staying as an outpatient... By this point it was lunchtime, I hadn't slept and had had minimal pain relief. I really needed to be an inpatient too. Unfortunately, once a baby is discharged post birth it is usual protocol to go to the childrens rather than back to the maternity unit which is hence why we ended up there. Because of this you usually then wouldn't get transferred back but I begged and luckily (probably because I am staff), Southmead did have us back.

As we were taken to the childrens by ambulance, our next issue was how to get from the centre of Bristol to Southmead. Luckily we have great friends who were so helpful. Jayne works in the centre so has a permit to park in all the streets. They drove both of their cars in, parked hers in a side street nearby and dropped the keys into Scott so we had transport. Luckily we had thought about the car seat when we left home the night before so had it with us.

We got back to Southmead at about 4pm by which point I felt like utter death, I cried all the way up the corridor to the ward, I was just so thankful to be back. Once we settled in they got the neonatal doctors there to review her, restested her bloods (including a septic screen) and reweighed her. They actually made her weight loss 12.7% so slightly better than at the childrens - probably the difference in scales and she had also had several formula feeds by this point which may also have helped. She started IV antibiotics and a feeding regime to get her back on track. This meant I was trying her at the breast every 3 hours, topping her up with as much formula as we could get in her and I was expressing and giving that too. I was so so thankful that one, I had a single room and two, that Scott could stay with me, I never would have managed it all on my own! I was pretty sleep deprived and emotional too so I don't think I would have coped with him having to leave me. He did pop home to meet Jayne to give her car back and to hand the dog back over to her. Poor Charlie had been on his own all day bar the neighbours popping in a couple times to let him out for a wee. If he hasn't freaked out enough by this new human in his house, he then suffered the stress we did in the middle of the night and then got left all on his own! I felt so awful for him! Luckily he loves staying with Jayne and her dogs so at least I knew he was happy there.

In the first 24 hours of being back in hospital (day 3) her weight went to 10.8%, a fantastic gain. It should have been though as she was absolutely pumped full of formula. So much so that its was impossible to get her to feed from me as she was so full all of the time. Therefore the next task was to get her to feed from me. As absolute luck would have it she got the message and literally woke up and decided to feed from me without much effort. She literally jumped on the boob. She still needed to feed 3 hourly but the plan was not to give her anymore formula providing she did feed. In the next 24hrs (day 4) her weight stayed the same. Although that doesn't sound good, they were happy with that as she had gone from having loads extra to just relying on me. However, in the next 24hrs (day 5) she had to gain else we would have to give her formula again. I hated giving her formula, she was sicky before but she was so so so much worse on the formula. It stinks too which meant she stank all the time. She spat it out a lot and got a rash on her chin. Luckily enough in she gained 30g taking the percentage to 10% exactly. This is considered a fine gain in such a short space of time. Each day she was also having her CRP checked and the same day it came back showing that the infection had resolved enough for her to stop the IV antibiotics.. this meant we could go home again!! These days had been the most stressful of our lives so leaving the hospital where I had 24/7 support was rather scary, specially after what happened the last time we went home. It felt like such a huge responsibility feeding her myself and the stakes were high because she had been so poorly. But we had to leave sometime right? So we did, and it was fine.

Although I knew full well about the baby blues, I never anticipated how bad they could be! Even when we were doing well at home I found myself randomly bursting into tears over absolute nothing. It went on longer than I thought too but then I guess it's such a huge adjustment both physically and mentally and I was being hard on myself. We didn't exactly have an easy start either!! But onwards and upwards, things did get better...

In the next installment I wish to natter on about how complicated the human overthinking brain can make breastfeeding and the wonders of the first few weeks as new parents! Now how long it will take me to get around to writing it, who knows!!

Saturday, 20 January 2018

The toughest week of our lives: part one

It's taken long time for me to have a chance to write these posts and it appears having a newborn means you have absolutely no time to yourself.

After my last post about reaching my due date, I ended up going more than a week overdue. We never wanted to commit to Christmas plans as we didn't know when this baby would arrive. I was convinced that if she didn't come early, then she would want to come on Christmas day. Well Christmas eve (5 days overdue) came and she was showing absolutely no signs of coming so we decided to go back to Devon for Christmas. This felt a little risky really but we packed all the hospital stuff just in case; at the end of the day it's still only just over an hour away if we needed to get back.

We were only home from Christmas eve morning until boxing day morning but the whole time I felt really very rotten. So much so that we came back early boxing day so I could see my midwife to get checked out. I wasn't really sleeping and getting myself pretty stressed, mainly worrying about my blood pressure. It's been on the higher side for a while and when at home I used Richards BP monitor to check it just out of interest. I don't think it was very accurate really as one reading was pretty high, the other completely normal, but this didn't do much good for my stress levels! Anyway, when back and at the midwife's, she confirmed that my blood pressure was high and sent me into hospital to get checked out.

Apologies for how awful I look! I was soo swollen!

When we got there it remained high but I didn't have any other symptoms of pre-eclampsia so they didn't medicate me but offered me induction. After a pretty long discussion with Scott we decided that induction was probably for the best. I had felt rubbish for ages and the blood pressure was most likely due to my stress so what was the point prolonging it any more? I had been niggling for ages and ages but labour was nowhere near.

So I had the propess and off to the ward I went to wait for things to happen. Scott went home to get some rest and sort the dog out and I got some kip. The propess was a pain in the arse, I was having so much mucoussy show that every time I got up, it came out!! This meant I ended up with loads of examinations before I was even doing anything.

By the morning I was tightening pretty regularly and when Scott came back in at 10am I was uncomfortable enough to need my TENS machine. At points I think it really helped but it was also annoying too, more of a distraction that actual pain relief but still, at least it seemed to be doing something. The last time the propess came out (about 8am) they said that they'd be able to break my waters so I went on the waiting list to go to delivery suite.

By about 2pm, I was contracting 4:10 lasting over 1min. GREAT! Getting there, hopefully...

At 3pm I was transferred to delivery suite and they broke my waters. Despite contracting already, there had been no change in my cervix. Up until this point although the contractions were painful, I was fully coping with them and felt in control of what was happening. As soon as my waters went I felt like I was dying. I cannot explain how horrendous it was. I felt like my whole pelvis was being ripped apart, the contractions were back to back and I was having no break to recover in between. I was only 1cm dilated so to begin with I refused to use the entonox... It was my first baby and I was only 1cm, I had a LONG LONG way to go and my experience as a midwife told me not to use it.... That last probably about 4 contractions and then I was puffing on it like my life depended on it. Unfortunately for me, it did absolutely nothing for the pain but just made me feel like I was VERY drunk and VERY out of control. I was screaming the place down which was particularly awful as I was in the room next to the staff room so all of my colleagues would have heard me making an absolute meal of it. I'm soo embarrassed. I knew I would swear, and I swore A LOT! After just a few minutes on the entonox I was begging for some pethidine which they gave me straight away, This seemed to space the contractions out a bit and relaxed me in between but when they did come they were still excruciating. So much so that I was begging for my epidural straight away, which again I got pretty much in record time, they didn't waste any time. Probably desperate to shut me up. The anesthetist (who I didn't know) was great but she did take two attempts at getting my epidural in and then I had quite a high block. I didn't care, it bloody worked and I was finally out of pain!

Not the way I intended on labouring..
Soon after my epidural went in they reexamined me. I can't remember the timings exactly but it couldn't have been much longer than about an hour from them breaking my waters; I had gone from 1cm to 4cm. Not bad!! Maybe thats why is was so excruciating?

3 hours later I was 4cm again, and they ascertained that baby was deflexed OP position (back to back with her head at the wrong angle) and I started the synto drip to make my contractions more effective. I was also pretty sore down below which my midwife put down to maybe a latex allergy from the catheter? I was really swollen and sore looking. I hadn't realised I was sensitive to latex before, you would have though I'd known as I use latex all the time when working. My hands often get dry and sore after working but I always put that down to washing them regularly at work, not because of the latex gloves.

Anyway, 3 hours after starting the drip, I had only progressed to 5cm. I was feeling pretty downhearted. Again being a midwife, seeing that little progress and having a baby in the position that mine was, I knew the outcome was looking pretty bleak. I was lucky enough to choose the midwife looking after me and we had a good talk about what it all meant. I was ready to give up and request a cesarean. She said to me that I had only been on the synto for 3 hours and that I should give it more of a chance. She said that if I was her daughter, her advice would be to carry on for another 3 hours to give myself as much chance as possible. So that's what we did.

3 more hours passed, and I was 5-6cm... So decision made, we went for a cesarean section. This was fine by me, I understood and wasn't really scared of theatre. Id been on the other side a million times so knew exactly what to expect. The only thing I was nervous about was knife to skin. As soon as that was done and I didn't feel it, I was fine. Scott, however, didn't like theatre at all. Not surprising I guess as he's never been in a situation like that in his life; and a very different experience than just me, him and the midwife in a room on our own.

Philippa Mary Ware
28th December 2017 @ 03:37am
7lb 13oz

Done. In no way the way we would have liked but I can't exactly say I'm surprised. I always had a feeling that things wouldn't be straightforward. But I don't mind, we have our beautiful baby girl. It's all worth it. Labour was horrendous and I can't imagine ever wishing to do it again but I am so thankful for the amazing care we received, we couldn't have asked for anything more. 

I'd like to say that all was well from now on but that wasn't the case, stay tuned for part two of our saga!