Monday, 16 January 2012

1 Week Old

MUMMY

It's been our first full week with the little man. My first full week as a parent and all of our first full week as a family together. And what a week it has been! It has been jam-packed full of highs and lows. In fact, so much has happened since I last wrote, I can't believe it was only a week ago that I was telling you all about the little man's arrival.

I am absolutely ecstatic to be a Mummy still and I love love love hanging out with my little man. I can't stop staring at him and thinking how handsome and perfect he is and I'm completely overflowing with a new kind of love that I have never felt before - one that only a parent can feel for their children. One where you can't help but worry about them a lot of the time (OK Mum, I will probably understand your worry obsession more and more as my little boy grows up) and one where you would do absolutely anything in the world for them. One where it breaks your little heart in to a thousand pieces when they are upset and distressed and you just can't seem to do anything to help them to feel better and one where it fills your heart up with the most warm and bubbly feeling ever when they smile at you - even when you know that they are really just doing a dump.

As well as being an overwhelmingly amazing week, it has been an overwhelmingly challenging week and I won't pretend for one second that I haven't found it really tough and very upsetting at times. It turns out that there is nothing like a distressed child to make you lose all your self-confidence and feel pretty cr@ppy all round.

If anyone ever thought having a child was a good way to fix a broken relationship, they absolutely couldn't be more wrong. Not only does it not fix a broken relationship, it tries even the most solid of relationships as you find your feet together. There is the extreme sleep deprivation and massive hormonal changes for the lady that makes everyone more than a little grumpy anyway; there's the new mum feeling the most unattractive she has probably ever felt in her life (hormone change-induced acne, bags under eyes, excess tummy skin and leaking scabby melons the size of, well, water melons - only a little more droopy, maternity pads the size of adult nappies - need I go on ...); there's the feeling that you're letting your little one down when you can't make everything all better for them and, if you're anything like me, there's the not being able to get out the house very easily - mostly due to feeding issues, a topic that will consume most of this blog post I am afraid.

It was strange, for the first three days when we got back home from the hospital, I was on such an amazing high that although I barely slept at all for the first three nights as little people have no concept of night or day and seem to want to eat ALL the time, I just didn't care. I thought, this isn't hard, this is easy, I don't need to sleep, I can just stare at him all the time and think about how wonderful he is and that will get me through every day. But then the tiredness hit home, or something hit me anyway - really hard in the face as it turns out and from that point on, once the lack of sleep caught up with me and the adrenaline slipped away and the feeding issues begun, everything became a challenge to say the very least.

As I mentioned last week, I struggled initially when I was in hospital to get my little bundle of wonderfulness to latch on properly. It all seemed so simple from the DVDs and classes I had been to and I was thinking, really, how hard can this be, just get them in the right position and they just have to suck. Well, he didn't suck and no matter what I did, it just wasn't happening for us and it made me feel like such a rubbish mummy - not being able to do the most basic thing a mum needs to do for her baby. As I also mentioned though, once I got home and could try in a more relaxed environment, me and the little man worked at it and fairly promptly he started sucking away with the kind of force I can only imagine an industrial plunger to be capable of and then, from about day 3 onwards, my milk came in and it all seemed to be going well and I thought, by jove, I think we've really cracked this. Unfortunately, that wasn't all we cracked and from about day 4, my nipples started cracking and becoming red raw and feeding was becoming really painful. Dalton was picking up the frequency with which he wanted to be fed and by about day 5, my nipples were bleeding, red all round the edges and it became absolutely excruciating to breast feed. Toecurlingly excruciating. The kind of pain I can only describe by asking you to imagine you have a graze on your knee and every two to three hours you rub it down with sandpaper and stick pins in to it. It's that kind of sharp pin-sticking in pain. In fact, it hurt so much that I even went to bed last night with savoy cabbage leaves in my bra. An old wives' tale perhaps but two of the midwives had strongly suggested I do this. Apparently there is something in savoy cabbages that draws out the milk naturally and helps it to flow. It didn't seem to do much though and all that happened was this morning at 4am when I offered my enormous b00bs to Dalton, he scrumpled up his face as if to say, "Mummy, why does your b00b smell of sweaty cabbage?" - a question I didn't really have a decent answer to.

I've also developed mastitis now but fortunately the doctor doesn't think it is bad enough to require antibiotics and that carrying on feeding through it is the best way to clear it up so I'll just press on. I've just bought some nipple shields and fingers crossed my b00bies will sort themselves out in time and I'll become a pro in the end. We've had to start supplementing breastfeeding with a bottle of formula at night-time too, which I felt really guilty about doing at first (again, society seems to make you feel really rubbish if you can't give your little one b00b juice exclusively) and I was worried it would affect his ability to suck hard enough when back on the b00b but he still seems to have that super plunger suckle so we'll carry on with this too until my bullet nipples arrive. I also have to spend almost all my entire time in between feeds prancing around the house virtually naked to allow the air to try to heal my b00b wounds and to allow the air to get to my tummy scar as well. It's not a look that makes me feel in any way sexy at the moment but Ron is kind enough to say that he doesn't mind at all. It does make it virtually impossible for me to accept visitors at the moment though so apart from immediate family, I have still seen virtually no one, which is a shame but I'm not quite ready yet. I will be soon, just as soon as I've got to grips with the feeding.

Breastfeeding is quite an exceptional thing really. It can make you feel horrendous when it isn't working out properly because it is about the only thing in the world that only a Mummy can do for their baby and for the very same reason, when it is going well, it can also make you feel amazing. It's such a special bonding experience with your little one and I really don't want to lose it. There is nothing quite like my baby's little happy face staring up at me as I give him what he needs - when I am able to do so, anyway.

Today, I found myself having to do my first 'public feed'. An unexpected one really. I went to the doctor's about the mastitis and then had a couple of things to pick up in Boots but Dalton got really hungry all of a sudden and it was either come home and try and come out again in the afternoon, which probably wouldn't have happened, or find somewhere pronto to try to discreetly feed him. This was quite stressful for me because, at the moment, with the problems I have been having, it's not just a question of plonk him on the b00b and let it happen, I have to hand massage my boob for a couple of minutes first to get the milk to come out and this isn't a particularly easy thing to do in a public place - especially when so many people are outraged by public breastfeeding (as if we really have a choice about it!). Ron and I managed to find a very secluded table in a pub though and I was able to get my tits out for the boy and managed to get a good feed out of both b00bs. This might sound like no big deal but, for me, this was a huge triumph so I was a little bit proud of myself!

Sorry about all that b00b talk - not something I would normally fill a blog post with but my enormous and slightly malfunctioning melons really have been the main focus of my week and not in a particularly good way. Oh, just one final thing about b00bs (and apologies if this makes anyone want to hurl) but curiosity got the better of me a couple of days ago and after expressing some milk on my little hand-held manual pump (wow, that's a lot of work for a few mls of juice!), I decided to try some. I have to say, it's pretty tasty stuff. Nice and creamy with a hint of sweetness. I won't make a habit of drinking my own b00b juice, don't worry, but I was pleasantly surprised.

So, other than feeding, we've obviously been struggling a bit, OK, a lot, with lack of sleep. It hasn't been as hard as I was expecting though but I was expecting it to be pretty tough. We've had a couple of nights where I literally haven't slept at all and Ron has had one night where he hasn't slept at all but on the whole, Dalton wakes two to three times a night for a feed and other than that sleeps fairly well. We started off for the first couple of nights trying to settle him in the moses basket but it very quickly became apparent that this just wasn't going to work so we decided to not make life any more difficult for ourselves than it need be and just co-sleep with Dalton every night in the bed - something I swore I would never do (there are a lot of things you think you will never do or that you will definitely do as a parent but once you become a parent, it's surprising how many things are not quite as you suspected and you have to change your game plan constantly) - but it's working well and with the few hours I get at night and the few I try to make up in the morning when he is sleeping, I'm managing to get through most days fairly well. This technique will only become difficult when I actually have to do things in the daytime as well (other than watch Judge Judy and feed I mean).

I'm pleased to say that, despite the issues I have had this week with feeding, it seems that the little man is doing great. He has really fattened up and the last weigh-in when the midwife came on Sunday had him at 9lbs 2oz so he had put on all the weight he lost in the first 5 days and more (it is common for babies to lose up to 10% of their initial birth weight in the first 5 days but they should then start putting it on again) and any signs of jaundice had completely gone so the midwife said he was looking really fit and healthy and that he was clearly being fed well so that made me feel a lot better. We are just now waiting for Dalton's chord and clip to fall off so that we can be formally discharged by the midwives and we can then also finally give him his first bath - something I have been dying to do for about a week now. You can bathe your baby when their clip is still on but it isn't advisable or necessary apparently so we are waiting until it falls off but I am keen to see if he's going to be one of those babies who loves bath-time or one that hates it!

So, how am I recovering from the caesarean, I hear you say. Well, not too bad actually, thanks for asking. The scar is healing very well and I got to see it for the first time when the midwife removed the dressing on day 5. It is about 5 inches wide (a bit wider than I thought it would be actually) but is very low down in the pubic area so once I am no longer bald 'down there', it will be very hard to spot. The strangest thing about it, which I wasn't aware would happen before hand, is that there is an area above the scar about 5 inches wide and about three inches deep up to my belly button which is completely numb. There is no feeling there at all and this is the bit with most of the excess skin too so it really feels as if I am wearing some kind of gel bum bag. Apparently, this loss of feeling may never return so that will be a bit strange if I am stuck with it. It's not a serious problem though so if that's the worst side effect of the caesarean I can certainly live with it. The painkillers have helped me through a lot of the pain and a week and a bit on now from having the procedure the pain is virtually gone. I still can't use my tummy muscles how I would like to just yet and I often need Ron to help me get up out of bed and out of chairs but it gets a little better every day and I honestly think I will feel almost fully heeled after another week. In fact, the only really nasty side effect of the caesarean has been (**TMI Warning**) that after the caesarean and the removal of the catheter, I became constipated and actually didn't have a number two for a world-record-breaking 8 days! By the time I finally had one, all the food I had been eating (and I have been eating LOADS as my stomach has all this extra room to expand in to and it is loving it) literally caused me to sh1t a brick! It was so hard it actually made my botty quite badly bleed and ever since then when I poop, it still bleeds. This will pass no doubt fairly shortly and I now have some medication to soften the stools (God, I hate that word but it's always good to try to slip it in to a conversation or blog post) so onwards and upwards I say. On the plus side, and quite amazingly, my tummy bump has almost completely gone! A lot of it went as soon as Dalton was removed from it but the remainder has really gone down too now so I am actually back in my very early maternity stretchy jeans which is fairly triumphant as well.

We're still finding our feet and will continue to do so for many weeks to come but on the whole, as I say, we are loving being parents to Dalton and having him here with us. Ron has been amazing at looking after me virtually full time as well as looking after the little man and keeping the house running so a big thank you goes out to him this week and let's see what next week brings. Lots more firsts, hopefully a bit more sleep and super hopefully bullet-shaped nipples.

I've taken loads of pictures of the gorgeous little cherub this week and I could really overdo it posting them here but I'm trying really hard not to be a pain in the @rse and post too many pictures in various places as I'm aware that most people aren't really that interested in other people's babies but you will excuse me if I just share a few with you below:

'Milk-drunk' (slightly wonky) face
and another milk-drunk look ...

Completely zonko after a feed
and one of the gorgeous Ronald holding our chunky son as he starts to fill out ...

Chunky Monkey
Next week looms and there's a couple of things happening this week with Dalton having is hearing test tomorrow and then registration at the doctor's surgery on Wednesday and on Friday I have my first non-family visit as one of my very bestest buddies is coming over to see me and I know she will give me lots of moral support and a confidence boost so I am looking forward to that. Hopefully by the weekend, all three of us will be ready to take on the world!

Oh, the very final thing I wanted to say this week is that I have been very pleasantly surprised that my fluff-covered babies, the very timid fluff-covered babies, Boog and Zoog, have not only NOT run for the hills with the arrival of Master Dalton but they have really taken to having him around. They are both the most content and relaxed I have ever seen them and are acting in quite a protective way around him. It's very cute to see and I am delighted that my now family of 5 seem to be getting on so well. Hoorah.

Current Symptoms:
  • Very light vaginal bleeding
  • A bleeding botty on bowel movement
  • Area of numbness above caesarean scar
  • Weakened but improving lower tummy muscles
  • Bleeding and sore nips
  • Spotty face :o(
  • A tendency to cry lots!

DADDY

I won't commit Daddy to writing anything. He's been working so hard to look after all three of us and the house stuff but I'm sure if he has time, he'll try to add something.

DALTON

What a week! Having spent the last ten months in complete darkness, I'm finding it fascinating just looking around me at all the amazing colours and lights and listening to all the crazy sounds. It can be quite a brain overload at times. I make the most of it when I do get to see all these colours as I spend about 90% of my waking life with Mummy's boob stuffed in my face. The stuff coming out of Mummy's b00bs has gone much more liquidy this week so I'm finding it much easier to get at. I'm a hungry lad so I have to eat a lot to give me all the energy I need to grow.

I've been outside a few times this week - brrr, it's been cold. I hate wearing hats if I'm honest, even the ones without ears so it's been a bit of a pain to have one forced on my head at all times when outside and damn my little arms don't quite arch well enough yet for me to be able to take it off myself. I find crying really loud tends to help though when I don't want to wear it. I quite enjoy the trips in the pushchair though and find them quite calming. It will be nice to get out and about a bit more next week.

Mummy and Daddy kept trying to make me sleep in a little basket all on my own at the beginning of the week but I thought scr3w that, as if I'd want to sleep in here all on my own when I can sleep in a comfy enormous bed with two giant hot water bottles either side of me! Again, I found that if I cried really really loud, eventually, Mummy and Daddy would stop putting me in the basket and now I seem to have a permanent place in the bed. Mwah ha ha! They are so easy to play those two.

I'm just spending my time eating, pooping and sleeping really. It's what we babies do. All three activities are going pretty well so far so more of the same next week please!

TTFN x

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