Thursday, September 26, 2013

Letter to Bobbin - one month old

 Dear Bobbin,

One month already. I can’t believe it.

I also can’t believe just how long I can stare at you for. The books are quick to tell you about all the things mums experience with a newborn but they don’t tell you about the “new mama crick neck” you get from gazing down at the beautiful babe in your arms.

You are the most alert baby I have ever seen. I’ve not been around too many babies, so I don’t know if that counts for much, but other people think you are very alert too. In the hours after your amazing waterbirth you were bright eyed and looking around. At what exactly I don’t know because I’m pretty sure you couldn’t see more than a few centimetres! You seem to be surveying the place like you’ve been here before. I wonder if you have?

Alert also translates to "awake a lot" though thankfully this is during the day and not all night long. As a result the gorgeous sleepy baby photos we tried to get turned out as gorgeous wide awake baby photos despite hours of patting and trying to settle you. Oh well, I still like them - I even like the one where you went a bit cross eyed.

You look SO much like your brother. Your hair is a little darker than his was, but starting to lighten and even look a little gingery, and your eyes are darker blue-grey compared to your brother’s bright blue (I wonder if they’ll change to hazel like mine?). But other than that, everyone looks at you and says “WOW. She looks so much like Tricky!”.

You are not a fan of tummy time on the floor, but you love it if you are on my chest. And you love nothing more than being snuggled up tight to me in the Hugabub. I enjoy having you in it, too, because it means I can get a few things done. The occasional spew down my cleavage, however, is not appreciated.

Your extended family are completely besotted. Your Albany Nanna and Pop have come up to visit you a few times now, showering you in presents from the rellies down there and soaking up every minute with you. Your Perth Nanna and Pop have been cuddling you as often as they can and helping out by having us over for dinner and taking Tricky out for a few hours so he can feel special. Your aunties and your uncle all think you’re pretty special and have oohed and aahed all over you from near and far.

You are trying really hard to smile all the time. When we tickle your lips you form a little smile that reaches your eyes. We caught it on camera and sent it to the rellies and they all think you're super talented! Mind you, they think you're super talented when you fart, so I'm going to hold off on calling MENSA.

Now, about your Dad. He’s amazing. He is on long service leave and is the best Dad a kid could ask for. He is spending a lot of time with your brother and doing about 90% of the cooking and cleaning so that you and I can chill out and focus on breastfeeding. He goes back to work in two weeks and I’ll officially be in charge of two kids by myself – it is a little daunting but you and Tricky are so laid back that I think I’ll manage OK.

Tricky really loves you. He likes to tickle you and wants to show you all his toys despite asking for a new lid for his LEGO in the lead up to your birth so that you couldn’t get in to it. I’m taking that as a really good sign. He lets me know whenever you cry and then tries to soothe you by jiggling your rocker or patting your head – don’t worry, he is being gentle, I promise. One of my favourite things is that he still calls you the name he christened you when I was about four months pregnant - Henry. It sure does confuse a lot of people to hear him call a sweet little girl Henry, but I think it is lovely. So you might be called that for a while.

You’re a bit of a champion feeder and are starting to sleep longer at night. If you could give a few tips to your brother, that would be ace. I have a feeling you might sleep through the night before he does!

I’m really looking forward to watching you grow, seeing your personality develop and I'm most excited to see your relationship with Tricky blossom – I just know you’ll be following him around and wanting to do what he’s doing really soon.

Keep growing, my girl.

Love Mama xxx

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Breastfeeding - the second time around

Bobbin's first breastfeed - less than 10 minutes old
Breastfeeding is such a natural thing... that didn't come very naturally to me at all last time. I struggled. A lot. Despite reading all about it, joining the Australian Breastfeeding Association, attending meetings and seeing three lactation consultants.

It took two months for anyone to realize that I had a massive oversupply and was drowning the Trickster, making him pull back and have an incorrect latch. Hello cracked, bleeding nipples and a world of pain. I also got nipple thrush a few times and just as it cleared up a lovely golden staph infection. Niiiice.

I ended up pumping half of Tricky's feeds just to give my poor nipples a break. It took a while, but we got there and soon enough (though it didn't feel quick at the time!) we found our stride. And then some.

I thought this time around, with a bit of experience up my, err, bra, and a stack of confidence, I would be one of those women who just puts their child to their breast and VOILA, perfect, painless breastfeeding from day dot. Nup. I was wrong.

I had enough milk for twins again. Which is fantastic if you actually have twins and much less wonderful if you only have a singleton. Every time I've mentioned I have an oversupply of breastmilk there is always the same few reactions:

If the woman I'm chatting with has experienced similar they tend to give a sorry smile quickly followed by some great tips about how they coped in those early weeks before it regulates.

If the woman has battled to breastfeed thanks to an undersupply, generally the first thing I hear is "You're so lucky!".

Um, I'm not actually. I'm the first to admit that out of the two I'd prefer to have an oversupply, but it really isn't as cut and dry as a well fed babe. It is freakin' painful.

Having enough milk that your chest rivals that of the latest porn starlet is not fun. Not even for the partner looking at those super boobs because OMG I LOVE YOU BUT IF YOU TOUCH THEM YOU WILL DIE. It bloody hurts to be almost constantly engorged. Even with cold packs and cabbage, the pain is pretty bad.

The thing that does make me lucky is that this time around I know how to handle it straight away, rather than waiting for weeks and getting all sorts of different, conflicting advice. Just like last time, I had so much milk that at first, I couldn't get Bobbin to latch on at all - imagine a tiny newborn mouth trying to latch on to a basket ball. Every lactation consultant will tell you it is breast feeding not nipple feeding but with a rock hard boobie, nipple is the only thing Bobbin could get.

So I would express off a little to make it soft enough for her to latch - which is always great fun to do when your baby goes from yeah, feeling a little peckish to FEEEEED MEEEEE NOOOOOOW screaming in about thirty seconds. So sometimes I would just let her feed with a bad latch for a few minutes then reposition her - which I really don't recommend. Ouch.

With expressing off a tiny bit I was getting up to 250ml of excess milk a day which I have frozen for whenever we may need it (read: when I want to have a couple of glasses of wine). And slowly, but surely, with only expressing the absolute minimum for comfort and latch, the milk level has been dropping and is much more manageable now to the point where I only have to do it in the mornings now. Huzzah! It gives new meaning to supply and demand curves (thank you year eleven economics).

That and block feeding is what saved us again. Even though block feeding does mean I look like a lopsided porn star at times, it is a price I'm willing to pay!

It might not have been instant success but it has come so much quicker this time and I'm SO grateful that I can breastfeed Bobbin because I know how many people struggle with it. I'm in a position that some people envy, and while I can't change the breastfeeding experience of anyone else, I can give milk to those babies who really need it - I'm back donating milk again to the PREM Bank at King Edward Memorial Hospital. I've been unable to donate blood for a long time due to a heap of reasons including being either pregnant or breastfeeding or both for the last four years, so it feels bloody good to be able to donate my milk again.

Did you have an easier time breastfeeding second/third/fourth/etc time around?

Monday, September 16, 2013


Time is a funny thing. It shifts constantly, from lightning fast one minute to dragging on endlessly the next.

The nights. Those are long. Really long.

I'm so much better at falling asleep these days, but I had forgotten how exhausting being up and feeding every hour or two is. Bobbin has also been partying in the wee hours, right when I've hit that zombie zone, making the night feel even longer still.

But the days are zooming past in a manner that makes me think I've somehow stumbled on to the TARDIS. My to do list is growing as I manage to tick off only the basic tasks like have a shower and get dressed (and some days not even those). Other things, like do my taxes, write some blog posts, reply to emails, fill out Bobbin's baby book and register her with Medicare? Well they keep getting pushed down the line and just aren't happening. And this is with Map Guy being home to help (read: doing all the cooking and cleaning with a Tricky sized shadow).

I have to keep reminding myself that she's only three weeks old today. And that all I'm meant to be doing right now is looking after my kids. That not answering emails right now isn't rude. That asking dinner guests to bring dessert isn't being lazy. That sitting in front of the TV and doing bugger all once both kids are in bed because I'm absolutely shattered after only 4 hours of broken sleep a night, isn't slacking off. It's just life with a newborn. And that's OK.

I wouldn't expect anyone else to get back to their usual routine immediately, so I don't know why I expect it of myself. So I'm giving myself permission to take it easy, to just be with my family and not feel guilty about it. There are only so many hours in a day and this snuggly newborn stage will be over before I know it. I'm going to soak up every possible minute while I can.

Do you give yourself permission to just be? Do you find it hard?

Monday, September 9, 2013

The waterbirth of Bobbin

I don’t know how to write this. The words in my sleep deprived brain do not do justice to the awesome, empowering experience that was bringing Bobbin earth side. I sit here, my babe in my arms, the glow of the computer screen on her cherub face and wonder if there are any words to describe the magic? Probably, but not in this mama's head, so a word vomit will have to do.

Let me take you back to Monday the 26th of August. I will remember it forever as a day of laughter and so much joy.

At 41+1 weeks pregnant I was wondering when the big event was going to happen. I was eager to meet my little girl but didn’t want to rush her – I wanted her to choose her own birthday. Everyone around me assumed I would be getting very frustrated but other than the excruciating hip pain that had me barely able to walk at the end (thanks in part to the whole getting run over thing), I was actually OK. Impatient, but still OK. If it had been the height of summer I have no doubt it would have been very different.

I figured I needed to relax so I booked a pregnancy massage for the next morning. I booked knowing that their cancelation policy required at least 12 hours notice and I’d lose a cool $100 if I didn’t show up.

At 2:30pm I had an appointment with one of my midwives at the Family Birth Centre attached to King Edward Memorial Hospital. She offered to do an internal to see if I was dilating already, and to do a stretch and sweep if I wanted. I was 1cm but still thick. I thought it was proof Bobbin wasn’t ready yet but the midwife thought different as I managed to have a contraction while she was examining me. I didn’t feel it. She said I’d be back in tonight to have a baby. I said I’d cross my fingers but wouldn’t hold my breath.

I went home and kept having a few minor tightenings. Nothing painful. I tried to time them but was having difficulty because they were so mild that sometimes I couldn’t quite tell if it was there or not. At 4:00pm the midwife called to see how I was going. I laughed at her certainty and brushed it off but at the same time hoped that she was right. All I knew for sure was that I trusted my body to do what it needed to do.

As soon as I hung up the phone I started to have a few crampy feelings. They got a little stronger and though still irregular, at almost 4:30pm I cancelled the massage appointment. I am, after all, a tight ass when it comes to money.

Knowing that Tricky had been born so quickly I was told to come in as soon as possible when things started happening, so despite not being sure if I was actually in labour or not, my fear of a freeway baby saw me call the Birth Centre at 5pm to let them know we would come back in. The contractions were still irregular (anywhere from 1minute apart to 10 minutes apart) and still not painful at all but I didn’t particularly feel like being that girl on the news with the kid born in the emergency lane in the pouring rain.

My parents picked up Tricky and he went off for a sleep over – because I still wasn’t convinced I was in labour we didn’t tell him. I felt for sure we’d go in and be there for hours and be sent home. I texted my student midwife who has followed my pregnancy and come to my appointments from 16 weeks, letting her know what was happening.

We arrived at the Birth Centre just after 6:00pm and went to room one. There were still a few after hours appointments happening so the midwife was coming between us and the other women. I heard her on the phone calling my team midwife, Caroline. “I’d say she’s definitely in labour”. She was certain and yet I still didn’t think I was as I wasn't in any pain, just slightly uncomfortable.

Map Guy put the TENS electrodes on my back and while bouncing on the birth ball we chatted and laughed. Each time I got a contraction I would beam and say “Another one! Oooh it was a bit stronger!”. They were starting to hurt a little but were only lasting about 30 seconds. I was so excited BUT STILL didn’t think I was anywhere near giving birth… until my waters broke just before 7:00pm! It was a small pop and only a small amount of fluid, but enough to see that it was nice and clear.

So this was it! I finally believed I was in labour!

I went back to my birth ball and when the next contraction hit I redefined labour glamour with a good litre or so of amniotic fluid coming out. All over the ball, all over the floor. Map Guy and I were in fits of laugher because it just wouldn’t stop! We couldn’t find where the towels were hidden so he popped his head out the door:

“Um, could we get a towel please? Or a mop?”

It took three giggling midwives and six towels to clean me up before I could get back to my bouncing. The contractions were getting more frequent but not regular and only mildly painful. Caroline asked if I’d mind if another student attended the birth and I thought why not. The more the merrier. You gotta learn somewhere, right? So I had Caroline, the on call midwife and two students coming in intermittently to check on Bobbin and I.

At 8:30pm I was offered an internal to see how far along I was. Because I was planning on using the water for pain relief and didn’t want to get in too early I agreed. I was 2-3cm. Even though I’d only changed slightly since my appointment that afternoon I didn’t get disheartened, I just focussed on the fact that I’d have a baby soon.

The contractions were ramping up and even though we had been snacking on a fruit and nut mix, we hadn't had dinner and were both getting hungry. This is where the experience between an OB at a private hospital and midwife at a Birth Centre really deviate because you are encouraged to eat and drink to keep your energy levels up at the Centre.

So we did what anyone would do in our position. Ordered a pizza.

Just after 9:30pm the Centre door bell rang and Map Guy headed to the foyer to greet the much amused pizza delivery dude. I could hear the midwives laughing again – it was such a great atmosphere having everyone so relaxed.

Pizza. Not the only thing delivered that night.
We downed a supreme pizza (no anchovies, no pineapple) between the two of us with me stopping chewing every few minutes to have a contraction that by now were getting strong enough that I had to stop and focus my energy inwards to get through them.

The midwives would come and go to check on Bobbin and I, and each time we’d chat and laugh. In between they would leave us alone to share this special time. There was no fear, no anxiety, just love, trust and support. Map Guy was massaging my shoulders and my legs and we were listening to everything from instrumental classics to Regina Spektor to Michael Buble.

By 10:45pm the contractions were nice and strong. I was having to rock and sway on the ball to get through them. I couldn’t talk and would make little grunty, humming noises until it passed. They only hurt in one spot though. With Tricky, my entire abdomen felt the pressure, this time though it was just a small band above my pubic bone. I started to feel like I was about to revisit the pizza so we pulled the bin close to me and called for a heat pack to help with the pain.

Mid contraction with the glam bin next to me (with pizza box) ready to spew in to

Caroline came in and took one look at me, looked at the bin, watched me have a contraction and said it was time for me to get in the bath. I wasn’t sure. Surely the pain only being low down in one spot meant that not too much was happening, right? But the idea of the water, well, I couldn’t resist.

The birth pool at the centre is amazing. They left the room dark and the only light source was the one light under the water. Almost as soon as I hit the water, I hit transition. The contractions got stronger and I was making more of the grunty noises again and I couldn’t open my eyes. I was rocking and swirling my hips in the water and directing the jet of hot water on to my belly. I dropped a few swear words, too. Then suddenly I realized that the contractions were rolling on top of each other and for the first time I recognized a sensation from Tricky’s birth… that continuous contraction I had just moments before he was born. This was it. It was so exciting.

Hitting transition in the giant birth pool

I rocked and swayed on my knees, listening to the words of support coming from Map Guy, Caroline, and the others. They were saying the most empowering, encouraging words. Telling me I was strong. I was capable. That I was ready to have my little girl.

The pressure was increasing but I tried hard not to push yet. I wanted my body to do most of the work by itself. Finally I felt that she was right there and that it was time for me to help her. I beared down and reaching my hand under the water, felt the top of her head. I pushed her in to my hand in an attempt to stop her coming so fast. Despite the fact that everyone could see, I announced it to them all that her head was out.

I looked down and watched her rotate slightly and saw her shoulders slither past. I reached down and put my hands under her arms, and with one last gentle push she was born and I lifted her up on to my chest. I couldn’t believe it. I looked up at Map Guy who was grinning from ear to ear. “I did it. I did it. I caught her.” I had delivered my own baby. It was exhilarating.

Ecstatic and a bit exhausted
Caroline stepped forward to see Bobbin and help hold her. “And that, girls, is how it’s done” she said. From waters breaking to birth had been four and a half hours.

We stayed in the pool, skin to skin and still connected by her cord, for an hour or so and in that time she had her first feed. When it was time to get out her cord was clamped and Map Guy did the honours of cutting it, just like he did with Tricky. He lifted Bobbin from me and snuggled her for the first time, his face an image of pure joy.

The hours on the ball had completely knackered my injured hips and I couldn’t move very well. Getting out of the bath was a form of torture and the midwives had to physically lift my legs for me. I can honestly say that at that point my hips hurt more than birth. By far.

After one and a half hours there was still no sign of the placenta and even though I felt amazing emotionally, my body was exhausted and my hips so sore that I just wanted to get in bed and go to sleep, so I took up the offer of the oxytocin injection. The bugger still didn’t want to come out but eventually did, though a small portion was retained. We kept it and had it encapsulated so I could eat it over the coming months.

We spent the next hour snuggling, taking photos and breastfeeding. Map Guy and I climbed in to the big queen sized bed and settled down to sleep with Bobbin in a crib beside us.

The next day Tricky came to the Centre and we introduced him to his little sister. He was shy at first, but warmed up remarkably when we mentioned that Bobbin had a present for him – a gorgeous crocheted race car driver specially commissioned from Daisy, Roo and Two. Even now two weeks on he is hesitant to hold her, afraid he'll drop her, but doesn't stop giving her kisses and cuddles. He loves to play with her hands and have her grasp his finger - we told him in the lead up to the birth that because they can't speak, that is how babies show someone they love them.

We were all packed up and ready to go by early the next morning but had to wait around for the paediatrician sign off, so spent the time lazing around, eating a giant lunch and staring at our little girl. Early afternoon we were home snuggled up together enjoying our first day of being a family of four.

It’s been an amazing and very tiring two weeks. I’m so grateful for the outstanding care I received from my midwives at the Family Birth Centre. We came so close to not being able to birth there (due to a low lying placenta) so to get pretty much the exact birth I had dreamed of makes me feel truly blessed.

Thank you to everyone who sent us congratulatory tweets and Facebook messages. I will print them all out and put them in her birth book to show her one day just how well she was welcomed in to the world.

It already feels like she has been here forever; I’ve almost forgotten what it was like without her here, so fully does she fit in around these parts. But it has only been two weeks. And now, I have to get back to staring at this baby. 


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...