Things my mum did that I swore I wouldn’t do, but do

As kid there were certain things that my mum did that grossed me out. At the time I was like I will never do this to my kids, never ever. A couple of months in and I’m already doing them.    

1. Weeing with the toilet door open. 

Actually it turns out that this one is fairly sensible. You need to have the door open so you can hear what is going on. If I’ve left Emily in her cot or playing downstairs I need to be able to listen out for any cries of distress. Not sure what I’d do if it happened though. It’d probably be a drip dry and a hop, skip and a jump down the stairs whilst pulling my knickers up. The only alternative to this is…

2. Taking my child to the bathroom with me. 

Yeah I know there are some situations where this is unavoidable but I’m talking about the ones where you really didn’t have to. Sometimes it’s just easier though. I stick her on the bath mat and she giggles at the sound my wee makes in the toilet bowl. I’ve even been for a wee with Emily in the sling. She’ll hate me for that one day but when you’ve got to go. 

3. Using spit as an all-purpose cleaner. 

A classic mum trick. I think the reason I hated my mum doing this was because she’d do it everywhere and anywhere, regardless of who was watching. In my mind, it seems like she was still doing this when I was about 18. However, when you’ve got a wiggly baby with something on their face/hands/clothes and nothing else in reach, then spit is the most sensible option. And it does the job. 

4. Take embarrassing pictures of my child naked. 

This turns out to be one of the joys of being a parent although from the perspective of the child it is positively traumatic. You live in fear of your parents digging out THAT photo in front of your friends. There is a photo of me wearing nothing, yes nothing, but a paper crown from Burger King around my waist when I was of an age much older than I should’ve been. It makes me cringe thinking about it, but my mum and dad think it’s cute and hilarious. Ugh! I have already got some great pictures of Emily that I fully intend to save and have printed on her 18th birthday cake. She’ll never forgive me. Mwahahaha!

5. Talk endlessly about how wonderful my kids are.

I mean my parents have been so damn lucky with their kids. My sister and I are awesome but I swear their friends must think that they go on about it a bit. Before having Emily, I was under the belief that I would be able to hold conversations about things other than her. Turns out it’s not possible. She is so amazing, funny, clever and cute that I don’t shut up about her. I even started a blog so that I could talk about her even more. Probably write a book next or produce a film. It turns out I’m even worse than my mum at this one. 

There you have it. I’m sure this list will grow with time. One day Emily will tell me that she is never going to do these things when she has kids and I’ll scoff and tell her to wait until she’s got some. Then point and laugh at her when she does them. 

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My daughter must think she’s a twin!

All my family sleep in one room. We are cosleepers! Naturally Dan and I share a bed and Emily has a crib next to me. It’s cosy and convenient! When Emily wakes up at night I barely have to move to feed her and I’m off to sleep in no time at all. 

We were motivated to have Emily in our room initially because it lowers the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) and this is something that terrifies me. It’s Dan’s fault! Dan is a SIDS near miss. When he was three months old he just stopped breathing and had to be resuscitated. Apparently it is genetic and there are other (distant) members of Dan’s family that have also been affected. Therefore I’m determined to do everything that they advise to prevent it. 

So Emily is in our room. And actually I love it. I barely have to get out of bed at night to feed her and I can pop her straight back in her cot once she’s done. I hear every movement which is reassuring but it also means that I can intervene at night before it escalates to full blown screams. Emily likes to be able to see me first thing in the morning when she wakes up and sometimes this is enough for her just get on a play for a bit. It’s win-win! I really don’t intend to move her out of our room until she is sleeping through the night, and the way things are going at the moment I don’t think that will be any time soon. 

  
The only annoying thing about this little set up is that her cot takes up rather a lot of space in our bedroom. Currently it is pushed against our wardrobe doors, which are mirrored. This is only a minor inconvenience to us though, and Emily loves it. She smiles and laughs at her reflection. It’s super cute to wake up to in the morning. She definitely thinks she’s got a twin sister though. Bless!

All Aboard the Expressing Train!

It’s been quite a while since my last post but in my defence I’ve been busy. Emily and I have been visited by lots of friends and been out and about. I’ve been trying to do things I want to do too, so I’ve been knitting Emily some leg warmers and sewing me up some cloth sani pads. Fun fun fun! Another thing I’ve started doing again is expressing and this is what I thought I’d talk about today. 

My first experience of expressing came in hospital when Emily was three days old. The midwives taught me how to use the ward’s electric pump so that I could top-up Emily’s feeds. I’d shove it on and leave it running for about half hour and probably got about 30ml. I was proper chuffed with that! I’d have a few little bottles full of milk lined up next to my bed and I would keep a record of how much I’d pumped, when I pumped it and which boob it came from. I started doing this just as my milk came in so it was really thick and yellow. Kinda looked like that medicine you had as a kid, amoxicillin I think it’s called. 

Anyway aside from appealing to my slightly OCD nature, I quite hated the ordeal of expressing. In hospital it was forced upon me and reflecting back it was unnecessary. Using the hospital pump was fun but the washing and sanitising of equipment wasn’t. Nor was the sitting up for longer after night feeds. So when I left hospital I was quite happy to leave pumping and expressing behind. 

When Emily was six weeks old the health visitor came to do a check-up and asked if I’d thought about expressing any milk. She said it would allow me to go out and leave Emily with Dan for a bit if I wanted and I could use it once I started weaning in her food. I nodded politely at the time and told her I would keep it in mind. Then I went for a cuppa with another mummy friend who was pumping to create a stock for some planned nights out. She told me that she set herself a target for the day and pumped until she reached it. I could do that I thought, so I did.

Next day I assembled my sterilised manual pump, whipped out a boob and got to it. I had waited until after Emily’s first feed of the morning and had given it another half hour to replenish a bit. The first day I got about 50ml in five minutes. Meh. I was happy it hadn’t taken forever. The next day I got about 90ml in the same time. The day after that 110ml. It was so easy and I could tell that the supply was improving along with my technique. After a few days of this I could easily get 150ml a day. The bottom drawer of my fridge freezer was filling up rapidly. 

  
Eventually I realised that the drawer was actually full. Plus Emily hadn’t had a single drop. Why was I wasting my time? I stopped. By this point I must have had about 4-5 litres of milk stashed away in my freezer. A tidy little amount that kept me satisfied that Emily wouldn’t immediately starve if my nipples fell off from over use. 

After that I left it a couple of months, until the other day when I looked in my freezer and thought “We don’t really use the top drawer for much. I wonder how long it would take me to fill that with milk.” So that’s my current challenge. Set by myself. I’m back to modest quantities at the moment, between 100-120ml but I’m sure it will pick up. Funny thing is Emily still hasn’t had a drop. That girl is all about the boob. 

The Cloth Nappy Stash Shot

The stash shot is a fairly common occurrence amongst cloth nappy mums (and dads). I’ve never really been that bothered about how the nappies looked in a drawer or cupboard. I am infinitely happier with the way they look on Emily’s bottom. 

Many cloth nappy manufacturers and distributors are keen to see your stash shots though. Some even offer prizes for their favourite. Therefore it seems that it is always handy to have a photo somewhere to whip out should you see a comp on Facebook or Twitter. I mean who wouldn’t want a free nappy. So here’s mine:

  
This is probably only about two thirds of my stash at best. Naturally there were a load on the washing line, some in the changing bag, some in the swimming bag and one on Emily’s bum. Looking at it though is oddly rewarding. 

As you’ve undoubtedly figured out I bloody love cloth nappies. No chemicals. No regular outgoings. No nasty disposable nappy smell. No contribution to the landfill. Cute prints. Soft fabrics. I just love ’em! However they do come with a bit of a commitment. You commit to washing them practically everyday. This means whilst Dan gives Emily her bath, I collect up the dirty nappies from the nappy bin and the changing bag and chuck them in the washing machine. The next morning I sort them all out and, weather permitting, chuck them on the line. A couple of hours later I take them off the line, restuff them and popper them up. It takes minutes of my time in reality but it can feel like a massive chore whilst I’m doing it. 

There’s also the fact that when you take your changing bag out, it never gets lighter. If anything slightly heavier. Dirty nappies get carried around after use so there is no shedding of stuff as the day goes on. 

These are the only two downsides to using cloth nappies and, in my opinion, they are nothing compared to benefits. But a photo of freshly washed and prepped, ready-to-go nappies is somewhat satisfying. That is a photo of my hardwork, of my commitment to a cause, of my determination to raise Emily as naturally as possible. I get it! 

The Art of Getting Your Hair Cut

I got my hair cut today. The first time since 22nd November 2014 according to my hairdresser. I really didn’t want to go whilst I was obviously pregnant (think I probably just looked fat then) because my hairdresser would have wanted to talk about it. Ugh! I hate chatting to hairdressers. 

Anyway I decided that after ten months I should probably get it cut. I’ve had it tied up everyday since Emily was born and it has received zero TLC. I swear whole weeks have passed without it being brushed. It would get washed and then immediately tied into a scruffy bun again. If I am really lucky I might find the time to dry it first but that is actually a waste of time because it goes straight into the bun afterwards. On the odd occasion it has been let down it was a thick, bushy, dried-up mess that I couldn’t be bothered to tame into anything remotely suitable for public viewing. Back in the bun it would go. 

Today Dan was off and Emily was relatively cheery (currently out of a mental leap. Thank f***!) so I thought I’d go. Rang up and they could fit me in in the afternoon. So I fed Emily, made sure Dan knew where my stash of frozen boob juice was and what to do with it and off I went. I took my Kindle and stopped at Tesco on the way for chocolate. This was my one hour of me time and I was determined to rinse it for all it was worth. 

There is just one problem though. I am crap with hairdressers. I go in and want my hair to look radically different, super stylish and to revolutionise my life. I always come out with a trim. Today I came out with a trim and a bit of a fringe. I think there are two reasons that this happens:

1) I go in with the best intentions. “I want loads off!” I say. “It’s a mess and needs to go.” At this point the hairdresser will nod sympathetically whilst trying to run a tiny comb through my mass of hair, with little regard to the pain it’s inflicting upon my scalp. I state that I want 6 or so inches off the bottom, lots of layers put back in and a fringe to soften my face. The problem is that hairdressers don’t seem to like cutting hair. I think they get nervous that I don’t know how much 6 inches is. (I’m a maths teacher, love and also not a man. I understand the length of an inch perfectly well.) They then hold up a bit of my hair from the back between two fingers and say “about that much?” This leads to the second problem. 

2) I’m too polite to criticise their work. As soon as they ask me any sort of question I generally choose the answer that makes their life easier. This means I get a trim. Today she held up about an inch of hair and I said “perfect!” and the assertive part of me died. 

So once more I walked out of the hairdressers with a bland haircut but this time with a minor twist. As she was doing the mirror thing, I weakly reminded her that I had asked for a fringe. She grabbed a bit, cut it in two snips, ruffled it up and said “how’s that?” “Great!” I reply enthusiastically, whilst making a mental note to punch myself in the face once out of sight. 

On the upside I did get one hour of almost uninterrupted Kindle reading, chocolate eating, someone else washing my hair and a sneaky little head massage. That was probably worth the £25, unlike this haircut…

  

  

Books I wish I’d read before I had a baby

I spent a lot of time whilst pregnant making sure I was ‘being pregnant right’. By that I mean eating the right things and not the wrong things, getting the right vitamins, meeting milestones in terms of foetal movements and lots of other things. I dabbled with a book about all things baby in the later weeks so I felt like I knew what I was doing. Honestly though there is so much more to being a parent than eating, sleeping and pooing. Even those things are complicated. Therefore this is a list of books I recommend you read. I wish I’d read them before Emily was born but I think they’d be of interest at any time. 

Beyond the Sling: A real-life guide to raising confident, loving children the attachment parenting way by Mayim Bialik

  

Ok so this book kinda takes attachment parenting to the extreme, but it is a good place to start off. It gives you a complete overview of attachment parenting in a non-judgemental, non-textbooky sort of way. When reading this book you are just finding out about the experiences of the author. She doesn’t try to force the concepts down your throat but merely explains how and why they worked for her. Naturally she encourages you to give it a go but that demonstrates her passion for the way she has chosen to parent. If you have heard of attachment parenting and think you might like it then I recommend reading this. (On Amazon here)

The Wonder Weeks by Hetty van de Rijt and Frans Plooij

  

Oh my goodness! This is fantastic. Get the app too. Basically they have discovered that all babies go through “mental leaps” at roughly the same time. Mental leaps are times when the baby is learning new skills and their brains are developing to accommodate them. During these leaps babies are likely to be fussier and clingier. Knowing when they are happening gives me a greater understanding, greater tolerance and the ability to help Emily through it. It’s nice to know when you are having the day from hell that this because you are in the middle of a leap. It’s also good to know that it will end. If nothing else it gives you a reason to feel worn out and knackered without blaming yourself. My new favourite phrase is “she’s just going through a mental leap.” (On Amazon here)

Nappy Free Baby: A practical guide to baby-led potty training from birth by Amber Hatch

  

All about elimination communication aimed at a UK audience. It was this book that got me into EC. It is easy to read and makes complete sense and I wish I’d read it before Emily was born so I could have started from day one. This book talks you through how to get going with it, how to overcome difficult ages, things that will help make your life easier and how to get in the right frame of mind for it. It is one of those books that is hard not to be convinced by and it will dare you to give it a go. I did and haven’t looked back. (On Amazon here)

The next three books you don’t have to read before baby arrives but you might struggle to read them when they do. 

Baby-led Weaning: Helping your baby to love good food by Gill Rapley

  
Supposedly the book on baby-led weaning and I found it inspiring. I’ve yet to put this one to practise but the concepts sound brilliant. Many parents are now choosing BLW and this book gives you the reasons why. Easy to read and makes perfect sense. I’m looking forward to getting started with this and glad I found the time to read this book first. (On Amazon here)

The No Cry Sleep Solution: Gentle Ways to Help your Baby Sleep through the Night by Elizabeth Pantley

  

If, like me and most parents, there comes a time when your beautiful little sleeper no longer does the sleep thing then you will hunt for any solution possible. Dan and I agreed early on that we would not do the ‘cry it out’ method but that doesn’t mean we want to condemn ourselves to months or years of terrible sleep. After a week of hourly wake ups at night, I read this book and gave one of the ideas a go. That night Emily only woke up every two to three hours. Our half-hearted attempt at one of the ideas in this book improved our sleep situation drastically. Read it before you find yourself Googling a quick fix in the middle of the night. (On Amazon here)

The Gentle Parent: Positive, Practical, Effective Discipline by L. R. Knost

  

Definitely one for a bit later on but worth getting ahead with some of the ideas and some of them you will find yourself needing sooner than you thought. For example we already find it useful to have “going out toys”. These are toys that Emily only gets when we are out and that makes them special and interesting. It helps to entertain her on the move. This is a simple idea that I might have thought of anyway but is good to know before you think of it. It also gives some examples of other “parenting techniques” and it really shows to you how they perceived by your child and outsiders. Another attachment parenting must have. (On Amazon here)

Well I hope that you find these as useful as I have. I’m always reading so I may have to do another one of these sorts of posts in the future. That’ll do for now though. 


“I don’t want her first word to be ‘boob’!”

Dan and I actually had this conversation. Emily was only a few weeks old and every time she was hungry we would say “Do you want some boob?” I think it started as a joke and we found it funny whilst sitting in our living room. However once we were out and about saying boob all the time didn’t really seem appropriate. It was still funny though. 

This is my way of talking about breastfeeding. It’s World Breastfeeding Week so seems like a good time to talk about it. Now I don’t intend for this to be a ‘My breastfeeding journey’ post but if it ends up that way I apologise. 

Talking about breastfeeding can be a sensitive issue but I am proud that I breastfeed. This does not mean that I judge those who choose to bottle feed or those who did it for less time than me or any judgement at all. If you made a choice not to breastfeed then this shouldn’t bother you. If you couldn’t breastfeed and you wanted to (even if you wanted to do it for longer) then I am sorry. I am sure that you will grieve about this in your own way. I wanted a natural birth but I got the exact opposite. This makes me sad but it should not stop you from feeling proud if you wanted it and got it. I am happy for those people. I’m sure it wasn’t easy. 

Breastfeeding isn’t easy either. We certainly didn’t have the hardest time but we still had our problems. For example: cracked nipples, bleeding nipples, blocked ducts, milk blister (these are f***ing painful), a tongue tied baby and all the usual baby things like cluster feeding and growth spurts. Honestly we still aren’t perfect, I have an overactive letdown so this causes some issues but we’ve made it work for us. 

We have some wonderful moments too. Sometimes she looks up and remembers that I’m there. This brings on a massive grin with nipple still in mouth. She promptly latches on again. Then looks up and smiles. One time this went on for about 20 minutes and we were both cracking up. Too cute. I love her little hands too. When she was really young she would pummel my boobs with tiny fists, now she will stroke them or hold on to it in a hug-like pose. I love every minute. 

Yesterday Emily and I went to our local Big Latch On. It was a great event and the organisers should be really proud of their efforts. The event was to raise money for our NICU so a wonderful cause. For the main event around 100 mothers with babies/children sat down to breastfeed. 

  
It was such an amazing experience. It was also very reassuring. Some people held their babies, some people held their boob, some people went hands free, some people had their babies on their laps, some people fed from a sling, some babies latched on and stayed on and some babies popped on and off. But everyone was breastfeeding. What a community!

The only downer was that I didn’t win anything on the raffle. I did however buy this necklace from Hey Twiddle Fiddle for Emily to play with whilst she is in her sling. 

  
And these tote bags which have “boobs” written on them. Hehe!

  
A good day was had by all and I have never been prouder to be a breastfeeding mummy. 

Hiccups!

Oh my goodness! Emily is having a hiccupy day. I hate these days as it makes for one grumpy baby and one irritated mummy. 

Dan is a hiccupy sort of person too, but mostly when he is drunk. I don’t know how many times we’d be walking back from a night out with a pizza or a Chinese and he’d be hiccuping so loudly that I was genuinely concerned he’d get an ASBO for disturbing the peace. They aren’t just subtle ones either, they engage his whole body. This was particularly annoying once we were home and I was trying to get to sleep and I’ve got that going on next to me. That’s how I knew I should marry him. If we were still together after a hiccup bout then it was definitely love. 

  
(Not the sort of hiccup I was talking about. Thanks Google image search.)

I knew Emily had inherited this ‘genetic weakness’ before she was born. Every night from about six months pregnant she would get the hiccups just as I was going to bed. This ain’t great when her head is already pushing against your bladder. Cue getting up for a wee repeatedly. 

She had hiccups in the very early days too. I remember writing in the log book that we kept of all her feeds, wees and poos that she had had hiccups and that’s why she had been fed again. Back then it was cute though. Seeing a two day old baby doing the tiniest of hiccups was so sweet. I felt sorry for her, because hiccups aren’t fun. 

One of the most annoying places Emily has had hiccups has been during her swimming lessons. If they’ve got hiccups they’re not allowed to do any underwater stuff and that’s the good bit! She had them for the whole lesson one time and I sulked for the rest of the day. Those swimming lessons don’t come cheap. I could have sworn she was putting them on too, because just as I said “Ooh Emily, it’s time to do some underwater swimming” she hiccuped. 

Anyway today has been a hiccupy day. She has had at least half hour of hiccups between each feed. She seems indifferent to them at first but after a while she gets in a right old strop. That’s when I have to work my socks off to distract from them. Hiccups are bloody knackering!

A side room with a view?

  
This is the first picture I ever took of Emily and I love it! It’s my little family all in one chair for the very first time. It makes me melt. The only things that I don’t like about this picture are those curtains in the background. 

I believe those curtains will forever haunt my nightmares. The weird leafy bits and the multicoloured squiggles; I mean they are not nice curtains but this isn’t why I don’t like them. I don’t like them because I spent five days looking at them from a hospital bed with my baby in a Perspex cot next to me. Those five days were the most emotionally challenging days I have ever experienced. 

After Emily was born we were allowed to spend some time in delivery suite. I think that the reason for this was because we both needed medication. Emily had to be taken across to NICU to have a cannula put in, receive her first dose of antibiotics and to have her blood sugar levels checked. That happened at about 5pm the day she was born. I was under observation owing to the fact that I’d just had a caesarean, needed pain relief for the surgery and antibiotics for my infection. It was all a bit crazy. At about 9:30/10:00pm we were taken over to the maternity ward.

Visitors aren’t allowed to stay on the maternity ward after 9:00pm. This included my husband who, promptly after taking us over to the ward, had to leave. I found this upsetting, because this was not how I expected our family life to start out. Emily and I stuck in hospital whilst Dan goes home to an empty house. I don’t know who I feel more sorry for now. Anyway this left me in a busy ward, in a 6 bed bay with 12 people in it. I had a catheter and a drain in, plus I was still plumbed into some drugs too. Emily had her hand strapped up so her cannula wouldn’t dig in and was in a plastic box beside me. With the bed raised I could just about reach over to pick Emily up for a feed but it was difficult. 

That first night was a bit of a blur. I still had a fair amount of drugs in me and they were giving me liquid morphine for the pain. I slept very little as I spent much of the night being woken up. This is a list of the things I was woken up for: to check if I’d eaten, to check I was drinking, to give me liquid morphine, to give me other oral drugs, to give me IV antibiotics, to check my blood pressure, to check my temperature, to check Emily’s heart rate, to check Emily’s breathing rate, to feed Emily (which was her waking me up not a midwife for a change), to change Emily’s nappy (again she woke me up but I had to call a midwife over to do that), to check when Emily last fed and to take Emily to NICU for her antibiotics. Some of these happened several times during the night and I’m certain none of them happened at the same time. Now here’s a list of other stuff I woke up for but didn’t have to: every time someone in my bay turned their light on, every time someone pressed their buzzer, every time someone else’s baby was hungry or needed a nappy change, and trapped wind. Now if I told you that I went to sleep at about 11pm and woke up at about 6am, and then you try to fit all those things in in varying quantities in between there’s actually not a lot of time left for sleep. However I barely felt tired the next day. I think I running on adrenaline (and drugs). 

That first full day in hospital was very weird when I look back at it. We had visits from our parents and Dan’s sister, which was lovely. But I also had to deal with having my catheter and drain taken out. Neither of these were particularly pleasant experiences. The removal of the drain still makes me shudder now. It wasn’t painful; it was odd. There were visits from doctors, midwives, MCAs, physiotherapists, paediatricians and audiologists. All had various bits of information to tell me. Some wanted me, others Emily. We had most of the same things going on in the day as we had had all night. Many people checked that feeding was going well and asked about my nipples. Answer: sore!

It was on that first day that we were told that if all went well we’d be home in three days. They said they had a couple of tests to do on Emily and if they came back good then we’d be out soon enough. One of the tests was for meningitis or something similar and the other was to check that the antibiotics were working. We would have to wait 24 hours for the results but I could handle that at the time. 

The second night was worse. New people had arrived in the ward that day. All of them had their own set of circumstances. There was a lady next to me who had learning difficulties and her baby was in NICU. Whenever I walked passed her bed to go to the sink she would just stare at me. It was a bit intimidating. On the other side was a woman who was struggling to breastfeed but determined to carry on. Every time it was feed time her tiny cubicle would fill up with midwives or breastfeeding friends all of whom would make different recommendations. There would be tears and tantrums. In the far corner was a lady who was clearly in some sort of pain. Her baby also had a terrible cough. (She disappeared during that night and didn’t come back until much later in the week.) In the other corner was a rather large lady who was permanently accompanied by her partner. They watched Storage Hunters continually. 

So that second night started with the larger lady kicking off because she wanted her partner to stay with her overnight. This was against the rules and they told her so. He left. To replace him she had the TV on loud all night. No one questioned this. Breastfeeding-struggles lady would have all lights on and talk loudly at every feed. This happened every couple of hours. This was on top of nearly all the stuff that had happened the previous night. Oh and I had to get up if I needed the toilet that night too. No catheter to save me the trouble. 

Morning comes and I am now three nights in with no sleep. I spent much of the day whining to Dan and various visitors about how awful the night time was. I was told that I could switch to oral antibiotics but needed to take iron tablets because I was a bit anaemic. I just added this to the list of drugs. We got the news that Emily’s culture count had increased so they wanted her to stay in full five days. This was disappointing but I knew it was right for Emily. 

Once Dan left that night, I set myself into a little routine of sorting myself out, sorting out Emily, preparing for things I might need in the night, reading a magazine and eating a little bedtime snack. It was really chilled out. As I was sat minding my own business, Storage Hunters No. 1 fan comes over to talk to me. She moaned about her partner not being allowed to stay and I tried to make the point that it was in everyone’s best interests. Blah blah! Then I asked her when she thought she would be going home. Her response “when social services let me take her home.” My eyes widened and I held Emily closer as she told me that she had six other kids and they’d all been taken away from her, but she was hoping that she’d be permitted to keep this one. This was the child who had spent the last two days ignored by both parents as they had chosen to watch hospital TV all day instead. This was also the child whose mother earlier on that night had almost discharged herself because her partner had to leave even at the expensive of having her child taken away there and then. This was the child who was also called Emily. I couldn’t help but wonder what this child’s life might be like. I hope so much that her parents do things differently this time round and she lives a happy and healthy life. The situation, at the time, made me quite sad, but also feel quite vulnerable. Anyway I went off to sleep and had a much better night. 

Day three was the worst. It started off well enough. We had a lunch time visit from some good friends who brought gifts and chocolate. It sort of deteriorated after that though. Emily was now three days old so had to be weighed. When they weighed her it turned out she had lost too much. I think about 9% which was above the 8% that is considered normal. Personally this didn’t worry me too much. She was feeding, weeing and pooing well. It caused a bit of a flap though. It was suggested that maybe Emily was tongue-tied or that breastfeeding wasn’t going as well as perceived or maybe the infection was having other issues. All sorts. 

That evening I decided to go with Dan to take Emily down to NICU for her antibiotics. I’d been before and she had made very little fuss. I liked to stay near her. This time I went and they asked about her weight. We told them and mentioned that she might be tongue tied and they said they’d put in a referral for us. They then gave Emily her antibiotics and she screamed and cried. It was terribly distressing and I couldn’t watch. I had to go stand outside. (What was wonderfully heartwarming, in the midst of my distress, was that as I stood outside NICU in floods of tears everybody who walked by stopped and asked me if I was OK. Aren’t people nice?) When I went back in the nurse said that she was trained to assess for tongue tie and could check if we wanted. We agreed and she did her stuff. She concluded that Emily had a restriction in all three areas. 

We went back to my bed and I cried a lot. I felt like an absolute failure. Emily had to have IV antibiotics because of me and now she was tongue tied too. She had lost too much weight so I wasn’t feeding her right. It didn’t seem fair that someone so small should suffer. Not my baby. She was perfect and innocent. I wanted to protect her but I couldn’t. 

After Dan left I figured I would go about following the same routine as the day before. Just as I started though, the night time midwife came to discuss the action plan due to Emily’s weight loss. She talked me through how to express milk using the pump and that I should use this milk to top up Emily’s feeds. I was to feed Emily, feed her expressed milk then pump again ready for next time. I took on board all the information about how to sterilise the equipment, how to use the pump, how long the milk lasts out of the fridge, in the fridge and in the freezer, where the cleaning stuff was and how to feed Emily from a cup. They eventually left and I carried on with my little routine. Half way through taking my tights off, Emily started crying and I started crying. I just sat on the end of my bed, half undressed and held her close. The midwife came to see if I was alright and found me in this state. 

On reflection this little moment was what was needed to get me some space and restore my sanity. The midwife had offered to look after Emily for a while so I could sort myself out. I told her that that was the last thing I wanted and actually I wanted everyone else on the ward to go away instead. Emily, on her own, was easy but the noise of ten other people in my bay, the constant check ups, the expressing etc were what was too much. She disappeared for a while then returned to say that there was a side room available, where I’d get my own space. A bit of peace and quiet. Just me and Emily. I accepted but felt like I’d failed because I couldn’t cope. 

When we arrived at the room and the midwives had left me alone, Emily started crying again. At this point I lost it. I couldn’t cope. I called the midwives and ask if they could look after her for a while. I hated myself as soon as they took her. I still do. I sat in my bathroom and cried and cried. I messaged Dan and told him that they had taken her because I couldn’t do it. It was the lowest point of my life. What was weird was that all I wanted was Emily back but I didn’t go and get her straight away. I think I knew that I needed time to sort myself out. And I did. After a big cry I felt better. And with Emily back in my arms I was more confident. I think I had seen my raw emotions. It had tested extent of my love for her and I now knew that she needed me completely. But also that I needed her. 

We had a great night. We had good sized clumps of sleep. I woke when she pooed, I changed her, fed her, topped her up, expressed and went back to bed. When Dan arrived the next day he took over the topping up feeds so I could express at the same time. It was nice to have our own space, where we could talk freely and be a family on our own. My milk was in and Emily was gulping it down. She had put on a bit of weight so we kept monitoring it but things were good. 

The fifth night I was allowed to stay in the side room. I was much calmer. The wonderful midwife who had helped me out in my worse moment the night before was on duty again and had asked to look after me. She left me alone as much as she could. She knew we were keeping records of wees, poos and feeds and that she could write it all down in the morning. She did the checks before I went to bed and the left it as long as possible before she came back. She was a credit to her profession and exactly what I needed. 

Day five came and I was itching to get out. I was told that my discharge papers were all ready to go but they needed the all clear on Emily and her discharge from NICU before we could leave. We waited all day. Everybody that came in we told that we wanted to leave in case they forgot. My parents and sister came to visit that afternoon and while they were there we finally got the news that we could go home. I don’t think I could have been more excited. We packed everything up. I got given lots of drugs and told how to take them. We got lots of paperwork and told who to give it to. We got told that Emily was piling on weight. Good news!

Leaving the hospital after that amount of time was strange. I had been desperate to get out and it felt good. I felt free! But this was mixed with feelings of vulnerability. It was up to Dan and I entirely to keep Emily safe and healthy. What I felt strongest though was an awareness of my own health. Out in the cold March sunshine, I realised that I had had a major operation. I hadn’t given it any thought before because I knew I was in safe hands. Outside of the ward however I felt weak and aware of my limitations. At home I didn’t have a bed that would sit me up the press of a button. At home I had to climb a flight of stairs for a wee. At home there wasn’t someone to give breastfeeding advice whenever I needed it. It was scary. But this was nothing compared to how it felt to be going home. 

Those five days were emotionally and physically challenging. Some of the lowest times of my life happened then but also they were filled with so much happiness. I was surrounded by truly fantastic medical staff who kept Emily and I safe throughout. I was given the best start possible to my breastfeeding journey and left feeling confident. I discovered that my husband was even more amazing and capable than I’d imagined. He was the perfect father, so caring yet so proactive. He was also the perfect husband. Every night after he left me he would go to the shops and buy me food, which he then cooked so that I would have fantastic gluten free food to eat the next day. He would clean the house in case I came home the next day. He would message me so that I never felt alone. What a star! I learnt too that I am capable of coping with more than I imagined and walked out more content with myself than I’d been in years. Most of all though, I became a mother. A mother to a little girl that changed my world in ways I couldnt have imagined. Those first five precious days will be remembered for all the cuddles and the kisses. The quiet breastfeeding in the middle of the night. The love I felt watching Dan and Emily together. The first time my parents met their granddaughter. The horrible bits will be forgotten. Some of it already is forgotten. The bits that matter will last forever. 

Passion without judgement

A close friend told me she’d been reading my blog. This made me happy because I didn’t think anyone would read this drivel. I know that plenty of you are though so thanks. 

Anyway this friend said that it seemed “a bit judgemental” and that was certainly not how I wanted it to come across. Therefore I felt it necessary to clarify my stance. 

Obviously Dan and I have chosen to parent a certain way, everybody does, whether it is a consciencious or unconsciencious decision and sometimes it is not even a choice, events make you follow a particular path. For the most part we have been lucky in that circumstances have allowed us to parent the way we want. We had enough money to buy reusable nappies and wipes. We found breastfeeding fairly straight forward. We have room in our bedroom for Emily to sleep in with us. But there are other paths that were taken for us. We had a caesarean. We had to spend time apart as a family when we were in hospital for the first few days. We didn’t get skin to skin straight away. 

I am proud of the way we have chosen to parent; I wouldn’t change it for the world. But I am proud of it because it is right for us and takes hard work and effort. Plus if we ain’t proud of ourselves no one else is going to do it for us.

 I am passionate about it too and for this reason it may seem like I am banging on about it. Yes I believe that everyone should use cloth nappies and breastfeed and baby wear and cosleep etc etc, but that is because I think it’s bloody wonderful. That doesn’t mean to say I will judge you if you don’t. You might look at me and think ‘poor cow has to wash all those nappies and is stuck at home with a baby on her boob and she must be knackered carrying that baby all the time and her bedroom must be cluttered with the extra crib in there.’ And that’s fine! You might be right. Judge away. My own husband thinks I’m a “bloody hippy” and that’s OK by me. 

As parents we have a hard enough job, so try not to take any ill feeling from this blog. Be proud of yourself and the choices you’ve made. If you think something we do looks good, feel free to ask me more about it. If you think you do something that would benefit me, then tell me. Christ, let’s help each other out where we can! It’s exhausting!

  
(I hate these effing things but it seemed appropriate.)