1 month old; crying, co-sleeping, formula feeding, not sleeping through the night, and I don’t care!

I was so proud of you for bottle feeding” – how often do you hear those words? I was told this the other day and for the first time, I felt proud of myself. I wasn’t made to feel ashamed of the choices I made, I felt confident. The pressure as a mum to breastfeed is unbelievable, and the guilt for not doing so is almost unbearable. So much so, that I felt the need to lie to people, or to explain my way out of why I wasn’t exclusively breastfeeding. Some people simply don’t have a choice. Others have a choice, and still choose not to. We are all doing what is best for us. So long as mum and baby are happy – so long as baby is fed and healthy – why does it matter? There is so much to feel scared, guilty, or unsure about as a new mum, why add to these feelings, and make someone feel even more guilty over the way that they are feeding?

Stanley was diagnosed with a cleft at our 20 week scan, so we knew prior to his arrival that breastfeeding may simply be impossible. As such, I hand expressed colostrum antenatally so that if he couldn’t latch on when born, at least he could have this via a syringe. As we anticipated, he really struggled to latch on, but we had a jolly good go at it over his first few weeks. Life pretty much revolved around feeding when he arrived – it could sometimes take a good couple of hours to feed him with his special squeezy bottles, and if he wasn’t being fed via the bottle, I would be expressing, or attempting to breastfeed. We had so much wonderful help with breastfeeding, and expressing, but it was so difficult, and Stanley would get so frustrated. We used a combination of pretty much everything during this time – he was syringe fed, cup fed, bottle fed, breastfed, and fed with formula! But eventually, after a few weeks we accepted the fact that formula feeding with his squeezy bottles were the way forward. Everything else was just too much. Formula feeding was less stressful on everybody. I felt so incredibly guilty making this decision, and prolonged making the decision because of the guilt, but when I finally did, I also felt a sense of relief. Things suddenly became easier, mostly because I was more relaxed and Stanley was spending less time frustrated! At this point, I told myself that if I was ever in a similar position again, and breastfeeding wasn’t working out (for whatever reason), I wouldn’t put us through that stress again – at least not for as long as I did with Stanley. 

I also expressed antenatally before Nora arrived (as a result of being diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes, and colostrum helping with blood sugars)… and I also hoped that I would exclusively breastfeed. However, with the rush of her arrival, we forgot to take the expressed colostrum to hospital with us, and as such, when she failed her second blood sugars, a midwife asked us if she could give Nora some formula. My response? Of course! This poor midwife appeared almost reluctant to ask us about formula feeding, as though we would have been offended by her suggestion to do such a thing! If it is going to help her blood sugars… why the hell wouldn’t we want what’s best for her? Yes, in an ideal world we would have remembered to bring the colostrum to hospital… but that’s life. Here started the guilt again (I am learning that feeling guilty is a permanent feeling when you’re a mum)! Both me and Carl (hubby), were feeling incredibly guilty about forgetting the colostrum… perhaps her blood sugars would have been okay if only we had remembered to bring it. As a result of this, I was combination feeding from the offset with Nora – breast, bottle, syringe, cup, formula, expressing… doing all that I could! I did this for the first couple of weeks, but breastfeeding just wasn’t going as I had hoped. Nora was struggling… I was struggling… it was painful… and so I made the same decision to stop. I expressed what I could manage, but since then, she has been purely formula fed. 

Despite what we went through with Stanley, and telling myself that I wouldn’t put us through the stress again, I still did (albeit for not quite so long). I still felt incredibly guilty about making the decision to stop expressing… to stop trying to breastfeed… guilty for giving up on her and not providing her with “the best”. It’s tough, especially with the pressure from other people. I was repeatedly questioned on my choice of feeding Nora (by one midwife in particular) whilst in hospital… it felt as though I was doing the wrong thing. After giving birth, with hormones all over the place, and already feeling guilty over a number of different things… you simply don’t need the added pressure from others.

What a relief it was when I finally met a community midwife that, in response to telling her how Nora is being fed, told me: “stop! I don’t need to know anymore! I don’t care what you’re doing, so long as you’re happy and baby is ok“! Funnily enough, this midwife had a grandson with a cleft, so perhaps she had more awareness of the struggles of feeding and what we had to go through. But, why don’t more people have this outlook? If a new mum can’t, or simply chooses not to, breastfeed… make her feel proud too! Whatever you do, whether you have a choice or not, you are doing the best for your little one… and so long as they are happy, who cares! 

Sleeping. “Is she good for you?” A question that I, along with all other parents of newborns, are repeatedly asked. This question usually translates to: “is she sleeping for you?”. I have also had (in Nora’s mere 3 weeks of life!): “Is she sleeping through yet?”! She is 3 weeks old, and I am glad that she isn’t sleeping through… she needs her food! It scares me to hear people proudly announce that their baby slept through the night from birth. Newborn babies need feeding regularly, and particularly in their first few nights. People thought we were crazy when Stanley was born… we set our alarm during the night to ensure that he wasn’t going too long between feeds (not that we needed an alarm!)

Co-sleeping. Before Stanley arrived into the world, I was convinced that we wouldn’t co-sleep. The thought of it petrified me because I thought that this was one of the most unsafe things that we could do. How my outlook changed when Stanley arrived! I now know that it can be safe to co-sleep, so long as you follow the advice, and as such, we spent much of Stanley’s first year co-sleeping. He simply wouldn’t settle elsewhere (possibly because of the amount of skin-to-skin we had). Stanley pretty much became another limb during the day, and so how could we expect this to change at night?! When Stanley transitioned to his big bed, we started to lay with him until he falls asleep. The time it takes for him to fall asleep (and us being in his bed) has gradually reduced… and the time at which he wakes up and runs through to our bed has gradually got later. To start with, he would sometimes wake up before midnight and end up in our bed, but now… he sleeps through usually until 5 or 6am. With Nora, we knew of the likelihood of co-sleeping again, but wanted to make it a bit easier (and possibly safer) on us all this time. As such, we bought the Snuggle Nest. We are in love with the Snuggle Nest! It fits nicely between us in bed, and is easy to carry around the house, or take out with us. We even manage to squeeze the four of us in bed with the Snuggle Nest (admittedly it’s a bit of squeeze!), and Stanley loves it! Stanley loves climbing in with Nora, and he loves to press the button for the music when Nora starts to cry!

Crying. (Not!) surprisingly… Nora cries. Mostly, this is when she struggles with wind and reflux (or if we’re not quite quick enough with milk!) – but this doesn’t make her a “bad” or “difficult” baby. Yes, it can be hard, especially when you can clearly see that she is in pain, but this is not her fault. This doesn’t make Nora difficult – this means it is difficult for her, and difficult for us to see and not be able to help. She is a new baby, getting to grips with lots of new things, and this isn’t easy. The sensations that she feels are all new to her, and as our GP said, some babies just make more of a meal out of things than others: “oh look at me everyone… I’m having a poo now, and I want you all to know about it!” So yes, she cries, and sometimes a lot(!), but this is just part of being a newborn baby… not that she is “bad”. 

What do we do in response to Nora (and Stanley) crying? We cuddle them, and make sure that they know we are there for them. No matter what the reason… whether Nora is crying for food, or attention… or Stanley is crying because he’s been told no, or is scared… I want them to know that we will always be there for them. So, I am always there for a cuddle, no matter what, we love them all the same.

Welcome to the world Nora Beau; her first 5 days

Thursday 16th February 2017: Nora Beau’s Birthday

Nora’s due date, and Granny’s Birthday! This was the last chance for her to arrive, before having to face induction – which was booked for Friday 17th. I had been trying out all the old wives tales over the previous few days, to try and bring labour on naturally, as I didn’t fancy being induced – mostly because I didn’t want the possibility of being away from Stanley for quite some time.

On the morning of the 16th, I woke at 02:30 feeling some twinges, but expecting it to be nothing since I had been having these feelings on and off the last few days – so I went back to sleep. By 05:00, I was awake with what felt more like contractions, and by 06:00 I thought I had better start timing them to see what was going on! Contractions were every 5 minutes, so we got ready, and dropped Stanley off with his Granny. I gave the hospital a call, and given the diagnosis of Gestational Diabetes (GD), they said I should pop up. We arrived at the hospital at 08:30, with contractions still every 5 minutes.

I was put on the monitor to keep an eye on baby, and everything seemed to look fine. Around an hour later our midwife, Gemma, examined me so that we could see what was going on, and it turned out my cervix wasn’t open – I wasn’t even 1cm dilated! But, they wanted to keep me on the monitor a little while longer, since it looked like baby’s heartbeat was dropping with each contraction. 

At around 11:00 the consultant came, and she was happy with the recordings on the monitor – I had changed positions which seemed to be helping. The consultant suggested attempting to break my waters, but Gemma said this would be impossible since I wasn’t even 1cm dilated. So, they kept me on the monitor some more, and said that I could be taken off soon so that I could get moving around, to try and speed things up. At this point, they were contemplating sending me home. We discussed what would happen regarding GD, which meant the need to monitor my blood glucose levels every 2 hours when I went into labour, the possibility of needing a sliding scale (IV drip with insulin and glucose to help stabilise blood sugars), and the need to test baby once she arrived.

Turns out it was a rather hectic morning on the labour ward, so Gemma pretty much left us to it. She kept popping in to check the monitor, and offer some paracetamol. I seemed to be coping ok with the contractions at this point, and the midwife kept commenting on how cool and calm we both were (certainly didn’t feel this way on the inside!), and even joked that she could imagine walking in and a baby just “suddenly popping out”! By 11:15, I gave in to Gemma’s offers of paracetamol – as by this time, the contractions were starting to get a tad more painful! After giving me the paracetamol, she then went to find the consultant to see what the plan was… could I come off the monitor and start moving around, or could I go home?!

Little did I realise… just 10 minutes later, at 11:25, I officially went into labour… and as quick as 11:50, I suddenly felt the need to push! Hubby went to find Gemma, and she casually strolled in, taking her time… most definitely not expecting a baby to actually be entering the world! However, she soon realised that little one was most definitely on her way, so she grabbed a second midwife, and at 11:58 baby Nora entered the world! Good job I didn’t get sent home! From the minute we arrived on the ward, Gemma was fantastic – although she was clearly busy, she remained so calm throughout the morning, which clearly helped in how I felt, she made everything feel so comfortable and stress free!

In the end, there was no time to monitor blood sugar… no time for a sliding scale… no time for pretty much anything! It was so much quicker than I ever anticipated… and it happened naturally. It was calm, there was little intervention, and only two midwives in the room… it was everything I had hoped it would be – and so so different from my experience with Stanley (highlights of which include: induction by oxytocin, failed epidural, emergency alarm being pulled, room packed full of people, and a consultant firmly warning me: “if he doesn’t come with the next push I’m going to cut you“)!

So, since I was diagnosed with GD, this meant that Nora also had to be checked when she was born. She had to have her blood sugars monitored every 3 hours, and needed to pass 3 consecutive tests before she was allowed home. Her first test was at 15:00, which she passed. The following test was at 18:00… and unfortunately she failed this one (she didn’t feed well prior to this). This meant that the 3 of us had to stay in hospital for the night… whilst Stanley was with his Granny celebrating her birthday, and having a sleepover with his cousins! The whole time we were away, Stanley had no idea what had happened – everybody kept it a secret from him so that we could be the ones to tell him the news that he had a baby sister.

Nora’s following 3 blood tests were taken throughout the night, and thankfully she passed all 3. It was a little tough during this first night, since once she had been fed after her test, we weren’t allowed to feed her again for 3 hours – as she had to be tested again before her next feed. She was starting to get a little peckish after 2 hours… but, we got through it!

Day 2: Nora meets her big brother, Stanley

We spent most of the second day in hospital, waiting to be discharged (despite being told we were ready for discharge at 10:30!). In the morning, Nora had all of her checks done (paediatrician, hearing etc.), which were all fine. We were just so desperate to get home to see Stanley, and to introduce him to Nora!

We finally arrived home around 4pm. We got Nora settled in her Snuggle Nest, and daddy went to collect Stanley. We wanted to make sure that neither of us were holding Nora when Stanley met her for the first time, it was important to us that the attention was on Stanley being a big brother, and not on the arrival of Nora. When Stanley first walked in, he was a little grumpy (as he had just woken up!), and so he came straight to mummy for lots of cuddles “I just wanted you mummy“! He then gave Nora the taggy he bought her, we gave Stanley the presents from Nora… and things so far seem to be going well. Stanley calls her “my Nora” or “my baby”! He has said the sweetest of things, such as… “I think baby likes me“! 

One of the strangest feelings in seeing Stanley again after spending a couple of days with Nora, was the realisation of how grown up he seems. When he walked through the door, it felt as though he had instantly grown up… and put on some weight (he now seems so heavy to pick up!)

Day 3: Our first family dinner!

Our first full day at home as a family of four… and not the best of starts! I was feeding Nora in our bed at 05:00, when Stanley woke up. He came running through to our bedroom… looked at Nora… started crying, and ran out. Daddy went after him and Stanley said “there’s no room for me anywhere“! We soon showed him that there was plenty(!) of room for the four of us, and so he settled down, and came for snuggles in bed with Nora.

I remember when Stanley was born, we barely ate, went out, or did pretty much anything! Not only was it tough because it was our first, but he had his cleft too, which meant feeding him took so so long. We had constant appointments, or people visiting our house – we were lucky to have the most amazing support with Stanley, we just seemed to have so little time for anything else! Second time around, things are so far, much different – we have time! Nora is guzzling her milk down… faster than I don’t know what! Apparently this is pretty normal… it’s just that our “normal” is based on what we know from Stanley, in which case it could have taken an hour to give him a bottle. With Nora, you could blink and you could have missed it!

Our community midwife, Luretta, visited us for the first time this morning, and she couldn’t have been more lovely. She was really pleased with how Nora was doing, which was great. She also suggested coconut oil for Nora’s skin – she has some particularly dry hands and feet, and I think this has been the best thing we have bought! Going to try this for Stanley too, since he has always suffered from dry skin.

Given the freedom we seem to have… we actually managed to cook a (relatively!) decent family meal on our first day at home! The four of us sat at the dining table… couldn’t have been more perfect. I’m even enjoying the odd sneaky treat (including a Mary Berry brownie for pudding!), now that I don’t have to monitor my blood sugars anymore. Though, sticking to the GD diet will reduce my chances of getting Type 2 (which is now already increased because of having GD)… so, I hope I can continue this as much as possible.

Day 5: A lazy Sunday

We spent Sunday at home, firstly with a visit from Luretta in the morning. She weighed Nora, and her weight had gone down to 7lb 2oz – considering they can lose up to 10% of their birth weight, Luretta was really pleased with this, since Nora has hardly lost any of hers! She was very reassuring “keep doing what you’re doing“! The rest of the day consisted of chilling at home, with visits from both sets of Grandparents.

Day 5: Our first trip out

Today, Stanley said he would like to take Nora to the park… and so, that’s what we did. He also said “we can slide her down!” …but we decided against that one!! First thing we learnt by taking a trip to the park? Turns out, getting out the house now takes us a little while longer! The amount of trips we made back to the house because we forgot something… and then still ended up leaving the house forgetting something! Then, just as we think we can finally set off, we start driving… hubby looks in the mirror… and realises little Nora’s hat has fallen down and is covering her eyes! Eventually, after what felt like hours, we made it to the park. Stanley had so much fun, whilst Nora enjoyed a nice peaceful nap!

We came home, snuggled up on the sofa in front of the fire, watching Spiderman, and eating cake! Before I knew it, they were both fast asleep ❤️ I could have sat and watched them sleep all night… I don’t want days like this to end. On the other hand, I am so excited for all that lies ahead.

A morning with gestational diabetes

Testing, cuppa, and nuts!

This time next week I’ll be getting induced, and the days of testing will be almost over. The last 26 weeks have been a bit of a rollercoaster, I never anticipated getting this diagnosis, especially so early, and it was scary. But, to be honest, I am probably even more scared now that I am in the final few days. There is always the chance that something could go wrong, and I am always reminded that it can get tougher towards the end. Yesterday, my midwife reminded me “we’ve got you this far… we don’t want things to go pear-shaped at the last hurdle”. I want this little lady to arrive before next Friday (will be eating plenty of curries and doing lots of walking!), not only because I don’t want to have to face induction (potentially days spent in hospital waiting, which means days spent away from Stanley)… but, every day that she is in my belly, it feels like another day of worrying right now. I know I am most definitely overthinking and questioning every movement!

Induction is booked!

39 weeks pregnant

39 weeks pregnant today! Got clinic (Gestational Diabetes) and scan later this morning, which will no doubt be my last (eek!) – never thought I’d make it this far, and although it’s getting close, I am still hoping that this little one will arrive naturally (come on little lady!)… but we will see what they have to say at hospital today🤞🏻

Finally, I have found a dentist I can trust

Huge thanks to Oasis Dental Care! Gabriel Magirescu has been a total life saver this week. I hadn’t seen a dentist in 3 years due to fear, the mere thought of going sent me into a panic. On Monday this week, I was left with little choice because of the agony I was in and being 37 weeks pregnant, with gestational diabetes, the situation wasn’t doing my little lady any good. So on Monday morning – I had an emergency appointment with Gabriel – resulting in lots of work with no pain relief. He was calming, reassuring, understanding, and talked me through everything. I even went back again yesterday for more! Of course, I am still incredibly nervous, but knowing that I have someone like this, that I trust, makes it a whole lot easier – and I certainly won’t leave it so long next time!

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On another note, I’ve known that I need to sort my fear of the dentist out pretty soon. Stanley is under the care of an orthodontist and as a result of his cleft, he will have alveolar bone graft surgery when he’s around 7-9 years old. He has a gap in his gum, where his tooth has come through sideways, and hopefully the surgery will allow for his adult teeth to come through properly. So, considering what he may have to go through in his life – I need to buck my ideas up!

Anyway, today is the first day since Saturday that I am feeling pretty much back to normal, and I only have Gabriel to thank for this. Next up… I just have the pain of labour to endure (which I’m hoping will seem a breeze, in comparison)!

Saturday. Before things went downhill.

Saturday. Before things went downhill. I was determined this weekend would be focused on Stanley, since it could be the last we have as a family of three! Saturday was good, we went out for lunch, and made our own pizzas for dinner (Stanley particularly enjoyed eating the cheese!). Saturday night, I had the most horrific toothache (not a lot that can be done whilst pregnant), and I spent most of the night awake. Sunday morning, we had planned to take Stanley to the cinema, and despite best persuasions from hubby (reassuring me that we don't need to go!), I was determined that we would – for Stanley! I somehow managed to pull through, and Stanley has the best of timings *all goes quiet*… he shouts: "don't go to sleep mummy… wake up… it's not night time"! In the afternoon, the pain got worse, and I end up at out-of-hours GP and given co-codamol (I'm super wary of taking anything whilst pregnant). Pain relief did no good and I had another night with no sleep. Emergency trip to dentist on Monday resulted in draining an abscess with no anaesthetic (my worst nightmare, as even the thought of going to a dentist sends me into a panic). The pain got worse again, and I had another night with little sleep. Thankfully today, the pain has eased off a little – though the slightest touch is agony (I hope this starts to fade). If nothing else, I am telling myself that if I can cope with this pain for three days, then giving birth is going to be a breeze! To make things worse, I’ve been trying to force myself to eat, particularly since having #gestationaldiabetes. But, this has been tough…I can barely manage anything and so I’m feeling super guilty. Stanley has been great though, I’ve had lots of kisses and cuddles ❤ And… #phdlife? Today was supposed to be my last supervision, before the little one arrives, but of course – there was no way I was making it to uni. It also turned out that both supervisors were also unwell, and therefore not wanting to come near me(!), and so, at least I didn't feel so guilty for having to cancel in the end! #gdukmums #toothache #rootcanal #abscess #pregnancyproblems #37weekspregnant #phdmama #phdmom #phdmum #pregnancylife

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