Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Me


Right, enough of me cooing over my wee baby.

This post sits firmly within the Womb For Improvement genre of oversharing, because I am going to tell you how I am recovering from the birth. I asked a mate of mine (the one who declared after my birth post that we'd had almost identical birth stories) how long it had taken her to recover from her stitches and she couldn't remember, so I want to write this down.

I warn you this'll be graphic. You may wish to look away, I've helpfully headed the sections so read what you want.

Stitches
All things considered my birth was pretty easy. I mean it was painful but it was so quick I haven't really suffered from any post traumatic stress. I haven't forgotten the pain but I can absolutely see why people claim that women do forget.

Except.

Except for the stitches. I was sliced open from front to back to allow the forceps to grab hold of my baby and stitched up afterwards. This was on only thing that caused me significant pain after the birth.

I was in hospital for two days after giving birth. Desperate to go home and at one point the midwife said something that made made heart sink; "We want you to do a bowel movement before you go home."

Not only had I squeezed everything out in the hours prior to giving birth so I had nothing left to poo but the idea of straining against the stitches filled me with dread. Luckily the midwife who discharged me didn't ask any searching questions so I went home backed up.

I think it was day five before I did my first shit.

My NCT tutor give me one very valuable tip. She recommended folding up a hand full of toilet paper in your hand and sort of holding yourself in place from the front whilst pushing out of the back. "How long do you do this for?" asked a member of the group "Oh just for the first poo" was the response. I reckon I used the holding method for about a week and a half before I felt confident enough to push without the safety net.

I stopped taking the painkillers (only paracetamol, they didn't prescribe me anything very exciting) after about 9 days which was when I felt I could sit and walk relatively comfortably  but it was only after three weeks when I realised I was completely pain free and I could swap the enormous duvets of a sanitary pad for a more discreet liner.

Boobs
Many of my flatter chested buddies have blossomed mammarily when they start breast feeding. One even texted me in amazement as she suddenly realised that being better endowed now meant she physically had to lift her breast to wash under it - I've been lifting and wiping since I was 15. I have no doubt that my milk filled baps are larger but I think there comes a point when upsizing is less impressive so the increase in size is unremarkable.

I once read an article about Sarah Jessica Parker's role as Producer (as well as actress) in Sex and The City) - from what I could gather her main contribution was the innovative idea that her character's 'thing' would be she'd wear a bra in bed. Sounds to me like someone wanted and excuse to keep her norks under wraps even when it was artistically appropriate. I've started to adopt the same style, but for purely practical reasons. I'd heard of women whose boobs leak when they hear their baby crying, or if a feed is overdue. What I wasn't aware of before I started this breast feeding lark is that baps are obviously jealous types, so whether I bung Olive on the left or right tit for a feed the other one starts to leak in sympathy. The nightime bra is essential for holding breast pads in place and preventing the sheets from getting soaked.

Weight
I've been incredibly lucky on the weight front. I don't know if it was because I had morning sickness for all of my pregnancy, or because I missed the final growth spurt by having Olive three weeks early. But I have managed to miss out on excessive weight gain and stretchmarks. I'm back in my pre-pregnancy jeans - admittedly sporting a bit of a muffin top, but that is preferable to my maternity jeans that literally fall off me. I didn't weigh myself during my pregnancy, the only scales I had at home were those ones that somehow measure the ratio of body fat as well as weight and there was a warning not to use them if pregnant - I'm not sure if this is because the electric impulse is unsafe for the baby or just that the results are inaccurate, either way I didn't risk it. But I got weighed at the doctors 15 days after giving birth and my BMI was down to 26.2. Pre-pregnancy it generally hovered around 23 - 24 so I reckon it won't be long before I'm back within 'normal' range (18.4 - 24.9) and with breast feeding I don't even have to think about dieting to get there.

Postnatal Depression
Thankfully none.

There is always a worry, particularly with having tried for so long and so hard, to get here that when I did I would regret it. Either because of hormones or just being unable to bond for one reason or another.

I was warned that baby blues, which are distinct from full blown depression, can kick in on day three to five. Sure enough, bang on schedule on day four I woke up and just felt a surge of fear. It hit me that this was forever, that I was no longer the most important person in my own life and everything I did would have to be negotiated around what was best for Olive. I couldn't even imagine a time when I would be able to go to the loo by myself. I burst into tears at the enormity of the responsibility I had foisted upon myself. The husband gleefully diagnosed 'baby blues' and since then it has been all good.

That doesn't mean to say I've been giggling and skipping around the house 24/7. Both sisters have been treated to an early morning phonecall from me when I haven't been able to say anything for a couple of minutes as I've been in floods of tears. But this has been entirely due to lack of sleep and I think it would have been irrational not to be crying in these instances (might I also add they have responded beautifully, driving across London to come and support me).

I was also wracked with guilt and sobbing uncontrollably when I found out after 16 days Olive had still not gained her birth weight.

But day-to-day I am so very happy. She is just amazing, and even writing this I'm welling up - this time with happy tears - because she is all I hoped for.

Olive
Ok, maybe a little bit about the little one. We had a midwife appointment on Friday and not only is her jaundice gone but she has regained (and more) her birth weight which makes the constant nomming on my boobs worth it. She is hardly a fat knacker at 5lb 13oz (up from 5lb 9oz) but certainly going in the right direction!



Thursday, 22 August 2013

Estimated Due Date


The 22nd of August has been a date emblazoned on my mind, and on the minds of thousands of others in the UK for months. Today is my official estimated due date. For everyone else in the country it is also the date that GCSE results come out - they haven't all been rooting for me.

As it is, rather than spending the day in labour I pottered round the house with a three-week-and-one-day-old baby. I vacillate between not quite believing she is here and feeling she has been here forever.

If I think about it rationally I can't quite work out why I am so in love with her. I'll be honest, she hasn't really exhibited much in the way of a personality, her chat is atrocious, she has yet to laugh at any of my jokes, and I seem to spend most of my time clearing up her shit. But I'm used to this - all of theses things apply to my dog as well and he is lovely too (although severely neglected of late).

My daughter (I remember the first time I referred to him indoors as my "husband" it was thrilling if a little weird, I feel the same when I talk about my daughter), my daughter's enigmatic charm hasn't just captured me. Both sets of grandparents have declared her "amazing", "gorgeous" and "wonderful". I'm not entirely sure what she has done to earn these accolades. Obviously the grandparents are completely unbiased in their assessment of my daughter, so it must be true.

I'm quite glad that she came early now, despite it meaning I wasn't as prepared as I'd hoped by the time she arrived, because I've got over the first petrifying weeks and am starting to feel more comfortable with her and I think the feeling is mutual. Certainly if other people are holding her and she starts to cry she calms down dramatically if I give her a cuddle. The cynical amongst you might mutter something about her smelling my milk and anticipating some boob-juice, I like to think she is starting to know her Mummy.

***

That bit on the end of my last post I realise now, in retrospect, could seem like a cry for attention "tell me you love me and I'll stay"! It genuinely wasn't meant like that. I am wondering what to do now.

I started this blog both to record my experiences of fertility treatments (if it came to that, which back in May 2008 I didn't know that it would) but also to connect with other people who couldn't conceive and, I hoped that sharing my experiences of treatment would help other folk know what they might have to go through and understand what treatment may entail. That is my excuse for being possibly a little too graphic at times.

Continuing to blog about Olive is a much more personal affair. I want to record her first moments for me, and eventually her. If other people want to read along that is great, if not it doesn't matter, whether I continue to blog here or start a new blog I have yet to decide.

So in short I'll be around for a while.






Saturday, 17 August 2013

Disjointed thoughts on our new baby

I am entranced by our daughter. I watch her whilst she sleeps - which frankly in most circles would seem a little bit creepy. I also occasionally stroke her cheek to get a reaction - just to check she is still breathing, in much the same way I use to prod my pregnant belly to get a kick if I hadn't felt anything for a while. Turns out the fear doesn't disappear once they are born.

She is still tiny. She wears babygrows that engulf her. The labels say 0 to 3 months but she is still, in theory, five days off her due date. We hold up her clothes and can't imagine her ever fitting into them let alone growing out of them.

Everyone tells us to cherish these early days. They go too fast, we are warned. But I can't help but yearn for a time when she is more robust. When her spindly little limbs chub up At two and a half weeks she has yet to regain her birth weight. The midwives are keeping an eye on this, I am wracked with guilt about how much I should be breast feeding her.

Luckily, her output shows us she is clearly eating well. She has two nicknames depending on the contents of her nappy - Pissy Elliot or Poop Doggy Dog.

Nights vary. We've had a couple of terrible ones where she refuses to be put down and I hold her as she sleeps - petrified that I will roll on her or push her out of bed. Other nights have allowed us blocks of three hours solid sleep. Back in the day this would sound horrendous but after the sleepless nights of pregnancy three hours is blissfully refreshing.

The husband has had three days back at work, but I've yet to have a day by myself as my in-laws have been here. I was petrified at the thought of a day by myself however now after a week of house guests that fear is somewhat offset by the idea of a house to ourselves.

I've taken her out by myself once. I strapped the pram wrist band on firmly. Put on the pram brake  at every road crossing and eyed each approaching pedestrian with suspicion. It was Ok. I think I might get the hang of this.

Olive and I have a mutually favourite  position. Her snuggled on my chest. For her no doubt she can hear my heart beat and it is reminiscent of being in the womb. For me she becomes the cutest, softest, best smelling hot water bottle.

I worry about her health, her future, her size. Not her lungs though. She has a big voice for such a little lady.

Now I face the dilemma of all infertility bloggers once their first baby arrives. To continue to blog or to slip away quietly thankful to have got here, at last.










Monday, 12 August 2013

The Hands

Very shortly after giving birth, whilst the husband held our new born and I lay recovering, and with various medical staff milling around, I asked him if he thought she was his daughter.

I don't know what the staff thought.

The most natural assumption would be there was some question about who her father was. Maybe they thought that 36 weeks and six days previously I'd had a daliance with another man. Or that the husband was just a naturally suspicious type and I am an unfaithful slapper, coming to your screens on a Jeremy Kyle DNA test in the Autumn.

Of course you all know why I asked. And that I really meant does she look like OURS. With IVF there is always a little residual worry that there could have been an embryo switch.

On the plus side she is the right colour to be our offspring. Looks wise, however, I can't identify my chin, or the husband's eyes, my cheeks or the husband's nose in her tiny little features.

Her hands however tell a different story. They are disproportionally massive. Long fingers with slightly large knuckles and tapered fingers. Nothing like my titchy little mitts but she is the husband's hand twin.

They are incredibly expressive, and I've become a little obsessed with them. In the past ten days she has flicked me the Vs, the Bird, she has done some Westside gang gestures and wrung her hands like a little old lady.

 No Photos Please



 Subtly flicking me the V-sign


 Hand-wringing


Throwing some shapes

The husband is delighted and is already planning on getting her to learn the piano.










Monday, 5 August 2013

The Birth

My blood pressure was still high and the baby was, as far as anyone could tell, pretty much cooked therefore on balance the doctors decided on Tuesday 30th July that I should be induced.

Induction sounds fairly straightforward; I was told that a tampon-like thing would be put up me and then after 24 hours they would check to see whether the baby was coming. If not they might try something else - like a drip to try to get labour to start.

I've been using tampons since I was 13. Occasionally if they are put in wrong they can be a bit painful, but you just remove it bung another one in and can't feel it again. This is not the case with this induction tampon.

The midwife reminded me a little of Delores Umbridge from Harry Potter: all sweetness and light on the surface but with a core of steel. She said before inserting the "tampon", and this is a direct quote (I made the husband take a few notes during labour so I wouldn't forget what has happened and you wouldn't ... ahem ... miss out), "I'll just pop it up your frou frou now."

Frou Frou.

The next few minutes felt like being fingered by Freddy Kruger.

Tampon my arse. Sorry, my frou frou. I didn't see it but it felt more like a hard plastic biro was put up there and I could feel it from the moment it was in until it was withdrawn for me to give birth.

It was put up at 19:55 on Tuesday night.

I was told it should take a day or two to start working and they would essential leave me for 24 hours before checking anything. But I might, I was warned feel a few period-like pains earlier. This shouldn't be confused with labour.

So at 6am the next morning when I felt mild cramping I was in control. I knew what this was all about and fully expected a day of hanging out in the labour room - we'd got DVDs, some food, our books. At 07:30 I had shower. Well, no one wants to have a baby when they have greasy hair. I was in pain but I've had worse periods.

I then got strapped up to various machines - blood pressure monitor on my arm, belly bands for measuring the baby and me on my stomach.

By 09:00 I was getting fairly regular pains - not to bad but definitely with some kind of rhythm. They were being picked up on the monitor and the mid wife and doctor told me this often happened and then they'd die away again. They were still talking about this 24 hour lead time.

But they didn't die away. Instead they got stronger and stronger. At 09:45. after the night shift had changed, a different midwife figured I was in labour (albeit just 1cm dilated) and asked if I wanted my waters broken.

I am all for freedom of choice, I like to be in control but I didn't really know. However I remembered the wombmate's last bit of advice to me. "If they want to check if your waters have broken let them". Also traumatised by the induction suppository, she had initially refused to let them check - hers hadn't broken and it resulted in a longer labour than it might have been.

The midwife went to work, reprimanding me as I instinctively tried to wriggle away from the pain. It is quite counter-intuitive to remain lying on a bed, arse still, whilst what looks like a tent peg is waggled around inside you.

By this time my pain relief was being brought solely through gas and air. I hadn't realised until my NCT classes that this is a peculiarly British thing. Almost no other countries use it for pain relief in labour. It is the equivalent of a nice cup of tea and a digestive biscuit and, in my experience, about as effective a form of pain relief. The idea is that inhaling a 50:50 mix of oxygen and nitrous oxide will give you a bit of a buzz, like being slightly stoned, and whilst it might not take away the pain it will imbue the experience with a slightly other-worldly feeling enabling you to disassociate from the pain.

It did fuck all.

The thing it was most useful for was having something (the gas tube) to grip onto as the contractions became ever stronger.

I was asked if I wanted an epidural and I didn't need to be asked twice. I was well up for one. So the anaesthetist came in and started to prepare putting drips into my hands and warning me of a sharp scratch. By this time a sharp scratch felt like sweet relief compared to the all body pain of contractions.

She was poised to start the epidural. I kept remembering from my NCT class that it would take 40 minutes to work (subsequently I've checked and apparently it takes twenty minutes but I was focusing on the fact that this was still not going to be the instant relief I craved, so the sooner it was in the better). Then just as she was poised to administer sweet, sweet relief she was called out to an emergency. Leaving me with just the bloody gas.

By this time the contractions were getting bad - which led to a much-needed moment of light relief.

Labour wards aren't really wards, they are a series of individual rooms and doctors, midwives, kitchen staff (I had to shout "NO" to a woman who asked me if I wanted lunch at one point) and  students seem to wander in at out as they check on various women under their care.

A doctor came in with two students. She was careful to introduce them to me by name - like I gave a fuck at this point. As I got a contraction I didn't scream but would whimper and writhe with pain and pull on the gas in the vain hope it might pass. I was mid-contraction and one of the students at the end of my bed caught my attention - she was pulling some really odd faces and seemed a little unsteady. It totally distracted me and I watched with curious detachment as she collapsed to the floor.

By which time that contraction subsided and the husband and I just laughed as suddenly she became the most important person in the room with the doctor applying a damp cloth to her forehead. I'm guessing she won't choose to specialise in this particular area of medicine.

At about 12:00 I declared my urge to push. In about two hours I'd gone from the beginnings of labour to being ready to give birth. I untangled myself from the mass of wires I was strapped to and started to pace, and kneel and shake my legs and push, and push and push.

Then things become a blur. I remember being told that if the baby didn't come soon they'd have to get her out quickly. Then masses of people flooded into the room.

I was back on the bed and whisked into an operating theatre. The husband had scrubs flung at him and suddenly I was being asked, between contractions, for my consent for a spinal block. A spinal block is incredibly similar to an epidural only acts a lot quicker. Within minutes of signing my consent - I would have signed anything I was given - I was blissfully numb from the waist down.

I've heard people bemoaning the fact they've had epidurals or other serious pain medication during birth. They miss the real experience, feel disassociated from the birth. Each to their own. For me it was amazing. I could at last breath again and remember where I was and who I was. And frankly with such an unnatural conception I had no qualms about an "unnatural" birth - my priority was that this little being who had been growing in me and absorbing my thoughts for the last eight or so months was going to be OK.

And she appeared, safe and healthy, at 12:53. After some curious acting when I had to push for all I was worth without feeling any kind of sensation, this mucky, pale, yoda-like thing was thrust in my face for a quick kiss and then whisked to be checked in an incubator two meters away.

The husband, who had early on declared he was not going to cut the umbilical cord, cut the umbilical cord.

My placenta took its time coming which was - I think - responsible for the mass of stitches I now proudly and painfully sport. The husband wants credit here for not asking the doctor to add an extra stitch.

Suddenly the husband and I who have been a couple for half our lives are a three.



Friday, 2 August 2013

She is here!

I can hardly believe that I am writing this, partly because I am more exhausted than I ever remember being so am impressed I still have the capacity to make sense (maybe I don't but I'll only find that out when I read it back in a few days). But mostly because the seemingly impossible has happened:

Six and a half years after we started trying we have a daughter.

A gorgeous, tiny, wonderful little mite.


She is called Olive Frances (so narrowly escaped being called Ivy F!). She is the most beautiful baby in London/ the UK, I know, what were the chances we'd end up with the best one?!


She arrived on Wednesday (the 31st, was that Wednesday?) at 36weeks and 6 days. She was 5lb 9oz.

I want to write about the birth but that will have to wait until I have more energy, a computer, and home (I'm still in hospital just now).

In the meantime say hello to our little one (*** update seems no one can see the picture, she is real honest! Will upload as soon as I get home - still pushing hard to leave today):