Baby

What they don’t tell you

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This post might end up having ”too much information” for some of you, but I’m going to be brutally honest. When I was pregnant I was told of all the different things I could expect to happen to my body and yes, some of those things did happen, but there were other things which happened which I had no forewarning or idea of whatsoever. So these are my ”what they didn’t tell me’s”.

I had an assisted birth with forceps which, in itself, can bring on more problems than you’d expect. Unfortunately for me, 7 months on, I’m still not sorted and am currently waiting for an appointment to come round! Anyway, I digress as that’s a whole different blog post.

The first thing I had to do was learn to inject myself with ‘Clexane’, an anti-blood clot drug, for 7 days post birth. I think this is because I’d had an epidural and the anaesthetic had taken ages to wear off. I know some women have to inject this for a longer time than me, throughout their pregnancy even, but nonetheless, something I didn’t expect I’d be doing.

The second, and probably most obvious, was the post birth bleeding (Lochia). Some people don’t bleed for very long, others for ages. I bled for about 3 weeks. I found this so hard since I cannot bear sanitary towels of any description, and since you’re not allowed to use tampons, I had to put up with them. They made me feel so unhygienic, were uncomfortable and just generally disgusting. It also doesn’t help that I was paranoid you could hear it ‘rustling’ around. Yuck.

Incontinence is a new experience for me. I only really suffer lightly with it now, mainly when I’m playing sports or in the gym. But the first few weeks home I genuinely couldn’t hold my bladder for very long, if at all. Not only are your baby’s nappies wet, but you might be changing your underwear a lot too. And don’t even mention going for a poo – when I had the urge, I really had the urge and had to go, there and then! Don’t even think about trying to hold your wind in. All the health professionals tell you to do your pelvic floor, and you really ought to make the effort. I only did it when I remembered, and I even had reminders on my phone using a “Kegel” app.

Big milky boobies! Yes, they’re coming with a vengeance whether you choose to breastfeed or not. I did breastfeed and went from a ‘B cup’ to an ‘E cup’. Super leaky, I’d suggest putting down a maternity pad between your sheet and mattress, otherwise your milk will stain it if you leak through.

I have never lost so much hair in my life. I could literally pull out a whole handful of hair at least twice a day. You don’t lose as much hair when you’re pregnant, and it’s all glossy and shiny and lovely, so when you’ve given birth you lose everything you would’ve done, plus more! My poor hoover must have collected a good few wigs. It gets absolutely everywhere too. The only problem I’ve got now is lots of frizzy baby hair where it’s all growing back.

My episiotomy was absolutely horrendous. Not only did I have the general pain you’d get with a cut down there, unbeknownst to me, they had stitched me up wrong, although it took forever for it to actually get sorted. Sitz baths with some liquid Savlon helped as much as they could, and I found that changing sanitary towels and underwear regularly helped lots too. I never dried it with a towel after a bath/shower, I’d either air dry it with my legs open on the bed (men, this is NOT an invitation for sex, or for you to have a good look at the damage) or used a hairdryer – on a low setting please ladies!

I’m convinced I’ve had a slight prolapse, but the nurses and doctors don’t seem to think I have. It’s not protruding out or anything, but it’s just kind of there. I’m also 99% sure this is adding to the other problems I’ve got “down there” for which I’m due to attend an appointment. I just know that it’s not what was normal for me (not that I expect miracles and to have no lasting effects) and surely you know your own body, right?

This is by no means an exhaustive list of what kind of things you can expect, but these are what I have experienced since having Toby.

What did you experience that you wish you’d know about before? Is it ongoing or resolved?

J

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How it ended..

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I literally couldn’t have predicted his reaction. He asked me if I was joking, and I said no. Considering I’d actually played a joke on him a couple of weeks ago, I couldn’t blame him for being sceptical. “What do you want me to do? Pee on a stick to prove it?”. We both started nervously giggling. I suppose the only thing we could both agree on was that neither of our reactions was negative. No, it wasn’t planned, but it was what we’d both want eventually.

For a few minutes, an alternative option crossed my mind, but considering I had previous experience of this at 21, the idea went as quick as it came. I suppose I could only justify thinking it because of where we were living at the time and not forgetting we’d been together less than a year, as well as money. Things I guess normal people would still think about even if they had been trying.

“I normally speak to my mum about things like this”. I could only suggest that that’s what we’d do then. We’d go and speak to his mum, and hopefully I’d come back with a head. I was actually shitting myself. She was going to bloody kill me wasn’t she? He texted her to say that we were popping round and we needed to talk about something. The whole way to their house, I was dreading walking through the door.

When we got into the kitchen, his mum was cooking and his brother was hovering around. We were reluctant to share our news while his brother was around, so made small talk for a bit, and then he left. “Mum, we’ve got something to tell you”. I sat on the kitchen stool, stomach hanging somewhere around my arse. What we didn’t know at the time was that she hadn’t actually read her text message and so didn’t even think anything was wrong. She just looked at us and asked us what the matter was. “Um. Jade’s pregnant”. And the tears started.

Oh shit, she was upset, I was literally going to get an earful. Again, I couldn’t have been more wrong. She was really happy for us both. We then waited for his dad to come home and tell him too. A very happy chappy. I did bring up the “alternative option” just to gather thoughts and was only discouraged from doing so, another positive. Only one person left to tell here – his brother.

Now, what I haven’t told you is that for at least two months, we had all been joking about Jamie and I being pregnant, and his brother becoming an uncle. So, to actually tell him we were pregnant was going to be funny.

The only reaction he could muster was a tea towel over his face and head, pacing around saying “I can’t believe it”, “no you’re not”, “oh my god”.

Needless to say, we were going to have a baby! I had an emergency scan and midwife appointment booked. Due to the nature of my background (no periods, still on the pill), they had to go from the date of my last period, and so could only assume I was already somewhere around 22 weeks pregnant – which I definitely was not by the look of me. The following week I found out we were 8 weeks pregnant, and due on 26th August.

This is our 20 weeks scan

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After everything and more I didn’t want for childbirth, Toby finally arrived on 30th August at 12.37pm. I wouldn’t change it for the world.

The long car journey.. with a baby!

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It’s sometimes bad enough going down the road with a baby in the car, so how would you fancy a nice long 15 hour drive with one? No? Thought you might say that.

Let me tell you, it’s easier than you think. After recently getting back from the annual skiing holiday, I can honestly say I was relieved that the car journey was over, because I was the one who was most uncomfortable. With a sleepy eyed partner for a passenger, and a sleeping baby in the back, I think I was the only one bothered about getting home quickly; those two couldn’t have been more.. asleep.

Toby suffered a little going up the mountain
Toby suffered a little going up the mountain

We didn’t really have a choice when it came to our choice of travelling. It was either “pay £600+ per person for a 1 hour 10 minute flight” or ”get in the car and drive it” – bloody half term prices.

The best thing you can do is try and stick with your baby’s routine. We left quite late in the afternoon so that we’d only have to stop for one last bottle before “bed time”; that way we hoped he might sleep for the biggest part of the journey, which he did after only waking up a couple of times. Luckily, with only an hour difference in France, it was easy to get him on French time, then back to English time.

Keep a stock of bottles to hand. We prepped all of ours in advance as we normally would and just dispensed the formula into the water as and when he was normally due a feed. Keep a handful of dummies in the front with you. You don’t want to be unplugging your seatbelt for half of the journey to go on a hunt for a dummy in baby Narnia (aka – the carseat). I mean, how many places can one dummy go?

Make sure your baby is comfortable. Don’t smother them with blankets, because your car will get warm quickly. We dressed Toby in a vest and baby grow for the journey, I certainly wouldn’t bother with cute chinos and a top. But if like us, you’re going somewhere cold, make sure you keep a coat (or something equally as warm) unpacked in the car with a hat so, when you eventually get out, they’re not freezing! We also put the wedge back in our car seat so that Toby was in a more horizontal position, rather than being crunched in two, which genuinely helped massively when it was time for sleeping!

Get a rear seat mirror and kill two birds with one stone. Babies are fascinated with faces, and what better way to keep them entertained than looking at their own. Secondly, it offers you the chance to keep an eye on your baby while you’re driving. Just attach it to the headrest in the back where their car seat is and adjust your rear view.

You don’t need to take a million and one toys like other websites say you do. We attached some flexi rings to the car seat, a colourful crinkly book, Sophie the giraffe and his taggy blanket. We did however, pack some other toys for when we were in the apartment for him to play with, as well as his Jumperoo.

You can always take a sledge!
You can always take a sledge!

A change of scenery does wonders for your baby as well as you. A long drive can be boring, and after looking at tarmac for 15 hours, you just need to look at something else. We made a few stops on the way there at some service stations. A stretch of the legs and hot chocolate for you, and a bum change, bottle and stretch for your baby.

I’m pretty sure if we do it again next year, it won’t be so easy with an almost 18 month old!

What are your best tips for a long car journey?

J

Poorly babies

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Sorry there hasn’t been a blog post for a while, but the whole house had caught the dreaded ‘lurgy’. I am currently spending the days and nights smelling of ‘Eau du Vapour Rub’, surrounded by snotty tissues and sounding like a man.

My other half and I both had stomach flu last week and luckily Toby didn’t have that, but he did catch a cold and has now given it to us. Who says you have to appreciate and love everything your kids give to you, eh?

It’s been a bit of a mare really. It’s his first time being unwell, he doesn’t know what to do with himself, and quite frankly, we weren’t sure what to do with him either! How do you get snot out of your baby’s nose? At 1.30am on the second night, we were a bit desperate and so resorted to the internet. Let me tell you what doesn’t work; blowing up one of your baby’s nostrils, so the snot comes out of the other. It just irritates them even more. So, how can you help them?

If their noses are blocked, they may find it difficult to eat as well as they usually would. Feed them little and often and continue to offer them a drink (if your baby is over 4 months, you could try them with some cooled, boiled water) to keep them hydrated.

We decided to go to our local pharmacy to try and get a bulb syringe, to help clear the endless torrent of mucous that was coming out of his little nose. They didn’t have them and so suggested that we use a nasal saline spray as this would help to “dry it up”. In my opinion, it didn’t make that much of a difference. I ended up buying an ”NUK nasal aspirator” from Boots. Now, they’re not the easiest things to use, just because babies don’t want to keep still and have something shoved up their nose, but it does work. Should your little one really detest it, there’s no surer sign of love than sucking it our yourself!

Snotty baby life savers!
Snotty baby life savers!

The next thing I would recommend is “Snuffle Babe”. The equivalent of our “Vick”, I absolutely love the smell of this and it works wonders. Rub a bit on baby’s chest and soles of their feet (I’m told it helps), and if your baby has one, I always rub any excess on their comforter or muslin. If you don’t want to put it directly on or near your baby, dissolve some in some boiling water and leave it to steam in their room (out of reach, please!).

I would also advise that you slightly tip their cot. We placed books under the feet at one end and this helped no end with helping Toby to breathe a bit better.

Lastly, colds aren’t that serious, but if your baby does develop a temperature, please keep an eye on it. Depending on the age of your baby you could either give them ‘Calpol’ or ‘Calprofen’ to bring it down. This might even help to settle them a bit.

Please remember that colds aren’t curable, we can help to ease their discomfort though. If your baby is under 3 months old, it’s always worth getting them checked over by a doctor, even if you think it is just a cold.

When they’re a bit older, it’s easier for them to be ill; they can tell you where and what hurts, if they feel sick and what they want. In the meantime, babies can only cry and you’ll just have to guess like the rest of us.. I guess.

 

Baby routines

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‘Baby’ and ‘routine’ in the same sentence together is likely to provoke instant venom amongst some of you, while others will whole heartedly agree that getting your baby into a routine is best. So should routines be implemented from the off, or not?

I honestly believe they should. So why get your baby into a routine in the first place? Well, I think it’s common sense. Surely it’s crucial to establish a mutual schedule so you both know (more, or less) what’s coming next. In the beginning, a baby’s needs are minimal; eating, sleeping and playing. It’s hard as a first time mum to work out what each cry means, and if you’re leaving it to chance you’ll end up going through every possibility before actually getting the right one.

Creating that balance from day one practically eliminates all need for guesswork. You and your baby will both be happier and know what to expect next. This further allows for you to plan your days out when you’re ready to venture outside. You’ll know when your baby is due to feed (although this can be slightly harder when breastfeeding – I just worked out where I could go in public but still be discreet about it) and due to nap. Secondly, anybody who wants to help out with babysitting won’t have to guess either. You’ll be able to give them (roughly) a time when your baby is due to eat, sleep or want to be entertained.

When should you start getting your baby into a routine? Experts are often in disagreement, but I’m not really one for listening to them and tend to go with the flow. I’d say from day one – the sooner you get something established, the easier it will be. I breastfed exclusively for 6 weeks, and stopped completely somewhere around the 10 week mark. It was pretty hard at first considering breast-feeding is an ‘on-demand’ job but it did get easier – luckily for me the routine just fell into place. It also makes night times a dream. Our little one slept through from 11 weeks once we’d got him into a proper routine and he’d learned day from night. It’s amazing what good a bit of uninterrupted sleep can do for you!

Consistency is key for any routine, so stick with it. Babies tend to be so much happier when they don’t want anything, thus all focus can be on play time  and allowing them to explore the world around them happily!

What’s your baby routine? How quickly did it take for you to settle in first time round?

J

Who needs a birth plan anyway?

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Birth plans, or preferences as they’re now being called, are in my view.. pointless!

After being pregnant for what seemed like 9 years, rather than 9 months, I was ready for my “birth plan” to be put into practice. I knew exactly what I wanted, had run through it numerous times with my other half and I had even played it out in my head about exactly what would be happening.  It was going to be the most beautiful water birth, using only gas and air, pushing my baby out the natural way.

I was hell bent on having as few drugs as possible, no instrumental intervention and definitely no c-section.

How stupid was I? In hindsight, I can’t think of anybody I know who recently had a baby without any kind of massively invasive intervention, so what made me think my birth would go by without a hitch? Optimism? Naivety? A little bit of both?

I was already 2 days overdue when my waters broke (although that was after much debate between the midwives) and I actually went into labour. The drugs, unsurprisingly, got stronger as I went along; paracetamol, gas and air at the hospital, sent home with codeine then back to the hospital for more gas and air. How about a TENS machine? Oh go on then. Moving swiftly on to pethidine, and then eventually an epidural, or four. Unfortunately, you can already see the plan isn’t going well. After lots of people in and out checking my progress, the decision was made that, as I was fully dilated but completely exhausted, a caesarean would be the best way to deliver our baby as he was stuck with an unstable heart rate. Fortunately, he was able to be delivered safe and sound with forceps.

Looking back, and even now, I get so bitter that my birth didn’t go exactly how I wanted it to. It has, unfortunately, affected me in other ways which now means any further pregnancies will have to end in a caesarean. I can’t watch any programs involving birth without feeling really upset. Why do these women deserve to get the natural water births that they wanted? Could I have done something more, or less even?

If I’m fortunate enough to be blessed with another baby or two, then I will definitely be going in with my eyes wide open. I’m absolutely devastated that I won’t be able to try and do everything exactly how I wanted it, and even that I won’t really get the chance to do labour again – although some of you are probably thinking I’m mad.

My advice is, if you do have a birth plan/preference, the only way to be fully prepared is to accept that literally anything can happen, go with the flow and accept all the drugs they offer you!

What was your birth plan? How did your actual birth differ from what you expected?

J

Raising a glass to the other halves

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Not all of our other halves turn out to be the hands on dad we all expect when our little one is here, but the ones who do deserve a huge pat on the back from us mums.

When I was pregnant, there were a few occasions where I felt I was more excited about everything that was going on than my other half was. However, it must be hard to get excited if you can’t feel what the other person is feeling. There were times when I got very cross that he couldn’t feel baby Ring kicking right at the beginning – ”Oh for God’s sake, HOW can you NOT feel THAT?, it was a HUGE kick!”. Naturally, if you’re anything like me, and even more so when you’re pregnant, your mind starts working ten to the dozen, paranoia sets in that you’re the only one that’s bothered and you’re going to be doing it all on your own!

Fast forward to ‘holy shit the baby is actually here’ and daddy really stepped it up. For someone who has had such minimal exposure to babies, he really was a natural. Nappy changes, bath time, getting Toby dressed – he wanted to learn and do it all and I have to say he’s a pro!

I love that my other half wants to be a proactive dad. From taking an interest in what he’s eating to downloading apps to see if he’s reaching his development milestones to playing with him when he gets home. I can’t fault him.

It must be so hard for men, especially since their paternity leave is almost non-existent. It makes me really angry that men don’t get anywhere near the same amount of time as the women (in jump all the women defending their right to be off, as they’re the one who carried their baby, they’re breastfeeding and blah blah blah). Rubbish. Dad’s need just as much time to bond, and not only that, where is your support when you’re signed off from the midwife after 10 days? But that’s not what this post is about.

I just want to raise a huge glass to all the men out there who have to stomach leaving their partners and babies every morning to work a full day, come home and make those couple of hours before bed time count with their kids. We really do love you,

How do your partners make the most of their time with the kids?

J