It’s ok not to be ok

Being a mum can be incredible but also really really difficult and I don’t think enough people talk about how difficult it can be. A lot of mums often just show the happy side of parenting but inside they can be struggling.

It started for me with getting Isaac into a sleep routine because I was struggling so much with sleep deprivation. I pretty much stayed in the house for three weeks trying to get him in a ‘good routine’ but what I didn’t realise was that being in the house that much seriously started to affect my mind.

After the first week of not going out the house I went out with my friends. When I got back I felt incredibly guilty for being without Isaac for 5 hours and had a massive cry. Please know it’s ok to be away from your baby and that time on your own is so important. Your baby is incredibly important but so is your mental health and sometimes you need to have time on your own whether it’s to nip to the shops or a 10 minute bath to chill out.

On Friday I had another breakdown about how I looked because I didn’t fit in any of my clothes pre pregnancy and wanted to look nice to go out with my boyfriend. I literally just cried trying clothes on at home and then went to buy something new and cried more in the changing room because I didn’t like how I looked. Please know it’s completely normal to take time for you to fit into clothes you wore before you had a baby. Your body has gone through a massive change.

Finally on Sunday I had the worst breakdown yet. I was looking after Isaac when Max went out and I tried to get him to go to sleep for 5 hours with no avail. During that time I had fed him multiple times, given him a bottle because I didn’t think I was producing enough milk and rocked, swayed and sang my heart out to try and get him to sleep. None of it worked and he was well overtired. I was far too overtired too. I started having horrible thoughts that I was failing as a mum because I couldn’t even get my tired baby to go to sleep. I wanted to leave the house because I couldn’t deal with him crying. I even started having suicidal thoughts. THAT is how horrible sleep deprivation can get. Please know if you go through something similar you need to speak to someone about how you feel. Call someone straight away if you feel like that! It’s absolutely fine to make sure your baby is safe in their cot and go to get a coffee for five minutes on your own. You can then try again once you have had a minute away to calm down. You need to contact a family member to help with the baby and get some sleep yourself so you feel better.

Whether it’s body image, sleep deprivation or a feeling that your not doing enough for your baby please try to open up to your family to let them know how you are. To bottle up your feelings can be disastrous and it really does help when you talk about how you are feeling. It’s ok not to be ok! It’s also absolutely fine to admit that you need a bit of help.

Your mental health is so important as your baby can pick up on how you are feeling. Sometimes mums and dads need a break from parent duty. A trip outside to the shop on your own, a programme when the baby is asleep, a bath to chill out or even a coffee for five minutes to relax. Remember that you are important too and you need to be looked after as well as the baby as it can be draining.

Can’t thank my boyfriend and sister enough for being there when I got into a bad mental place. If anyone else is going through a bad time please feel free to message me and know your not on your own!

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Cookie Dough Kids

There are a lot of personalised Instagram shops around now so it can be hard to find clothes that are actually good quality.

Recently we got this little T-shirt from Cookie Dough Kids for Isaac with his initials on. The material is so soft so I would definitely recommend it.

They also have lovely matching sets or even personalised hoodies. You can use code Abiv10 for 10% off any personalised items that you fancy!

www.cookiedoughkids.co.uk

How I ACTUALLY got sleep with a 12 week old baby without using a controlled crying method!

Oh my god, thank the Lord. After possibly the worst week of sleep I was ready to pull my hair out. It had even got to the point where Isaac was crying and I had to take a minute in another room because I was going crazy from lack of sleep. He was literally awake every 1 1/2 hours every night, I’d be lucky if he slept for 2 hours at night AND that would only be on me, he would not go in the crib. To top it off, me and my partner had to take it in turns rocking him to sleep whilst singing twinkle twinkle little start on repeat for up to 45 minutes before he would even get the hour and a half!!! The only other way would be me nursing him to sleep. He was having possibly 16/17 feeds per day and I was feeding on demand when ever he liked. Through the day we would be lucky to get him to nap for 15-20 minutes but I just didn’t know what I was doing wrong!

I started getting up at the same time every day even if I was on 2 hours sleep myself but that didn’t work (later on I would realise that alone was not enough). I was shattered and even considered buying a £40 sleep routine guide but I was adamant I didn’t want to use the cry it out method. I told my boyfriend and he researched it then found recommendation of a book called The Baby Whisperer by Tracey Hogg. Thank God he did.

I will attach my sleep/feed patterns so you can see what the first days without the books methods where like. I thought that simply getting up at 8.30am and feeding on demand would work but this was definitely not sustainable as I was going mad!

It was just after 6am on the second day of getting up at 8.30am (I’d had two hours sleep) and I started to read the book. You can get it on IBooks for £8.99 and I found that easier as I could read when trying to put him to sleep.

Tracey the author chats about a method called E.A.S.Y. Sounds great right? It’s basically a pattern of when the baby wakes up he Eats straight away, then has an Activity (playtime/bath time/nappy change), then Sleeps and finally you get time for You. I didn’t believe that. My first thought was well that’s a load of crap, there is no chance in hell. Oh was I wrong. I thought well I might as well try as what I’m doing at the moment clearly isn’t working.

So off I went, woman on a mission to sleep. He woke up at 8.20am and I thought right let’s do this, he fed for 21 minutes but only because when he stopped for a second I burped him and started again! A normal feed would be as soon as he was off I thought he was done but I consciously tried to increase his feed time to 20 minutes as the book does not recommend small feeds. They are actually snacking on you constantly and the eating pattern is linked to their sleep would you believe!! So I fed him for longer and he was sick a bit more than normal (his stomach must have been small from consistently snacking so the bigger feeds really filled him up and gave him reflux. I found gripe water really helps with this!).

Next was the activity and I played with him on my knee and sat him in an upright position (this is recommended for babies that are sick for the first 15/20 minutes after a feed so it actually goes down. Makes sense as I wouldn’t want to lie down after a big meal). What I realised straight away was that I was miss reading his ques. I would always feed when he started to get fussy but he was actually tired! What I didn’t realise was that turning away AND sneezing can be signs of tiredness. I was actually keeping him up far longer than what he could cope with.

We then tried to get him to sleep. It was difficult as he just wasn’t used to it. He expected to be rocked to sleep after all. A couple of things saved me here. I found one specific YouTube white noise mix worked for him which I will show you now.

https://youtu.be/oewj_XEM1js

We had also been adamant not to use a dummy but because Isaac was so used to feeding to go to sleep he wanted something to suck. So I gave him the dummy put on the music and SlIGHTLY rocked until his eyes were droopy. It took about 10 minutes to my absolute surprise and I was then able to sit down with him on me and he fell asleep in a further 10 minutes!!! I couldn’t believe it! On my first attempt he was actually only awake for two hours including feeding time and 20 minutes to put to sleep!

As I read more in the book I figured out this was normal. Although the author recommends not to use an exact time schedule and to look at their cues, each time to start off he got tired after about two hours of being awake. I’ll show you the schedule now.

My days dramatically changed by using the E.A.S.Y method. It’s still not perfect and yes sometimes he does still nap on me but it’s not the end of the world. He actually had 10 hours the first night of implementing this and then 9 hours and 30 minutes. Obviously broken up but this is a massive improvement for us. The other benefit is that my feeding times have literally halved!! He is getting reflux quiet badly but it’s due to his stomach expanding as he’s been so used to the small feeds (We are going to chat to the doctor about this tomorrow if it persists but he still has wet nappies currently). I actually got 7 hours sleep and then 6 hours last night. This book saved my sanity and if you are reading this struggling too I hope this method helps you!!

Ten things they don’t tell you about breastfeeding

  1. It’s normal to wake up in a pool of breast milk
  2. You can leak through your booby pads and end up with a wet top.
  3. Your tits will hurt at the start. A lot. Get good nipple cream before hand!
  4. You can shower and dry yourself but still end up with wet feet.
  5. When you take your nursing bra off you can squirt your baby in the face with a jet of milk before feeding.
  6. You will go out and end up with a wet top.
  7. Muslin cloths are a great substitute if you forget to take boob pads out.
  8. Some nights you will only get two hours sleep, it’s hard but it does get better!
  9. Expressing after 6 weeks can really help you sleep if you give a bottle at night!
  10. You can actually be in a sleep routine and breastfeed after 6 weeks! Blog post on our sleep routine and recommendations coming shortly!

Gas and air is bloody brilliant

After trying EVERYTHING to speed the slow labour up the midwifes finally let me into the hospital after the third attempt. By everything I mean I had madras curry burning down my esophagus, my thighs were burning from bouncing on the ball so much, I stank of clary sage oil and I had frightened the living daylights out of myself watching a creepy movie.

At 1.30am they showed us to our private room and I was crying at this point as the paracetamol and codeine didn’t work to numb the pain. Luckily at 2.15am the midwife introduced me to gas and air. She said I would grow to love it and oh my god she was right.

I wouldn’t sit down or get in the bed as I wanted this baby to come out after my 47 hours of slow labour! Max my boyfriend and my mum were kneading my back like a piece of bread due to the pain. I asked them to do this so hard in my lower back that I had bruises after birth but oh my god it works a treat. I was so fucked off the gas and air I was comparing mum and Max to the epidural, apparently saying ‘Who needs the epidural when I’ve got you two sorting my back pain out.’ 😂

A woman was absolutely screaming her head off next door so a midwife told us to turn the music up. Every time someone came to check on us all I would ask is please can someone check on that lady because she doesn’t sound ok (obviously it was painful for her but she sounded like what can only be described as a dying cat).

My waters broke at about 3am and me and mum shit ourselves (not literally thank god) as a bit of blood came out too. We told Max to hit the emergency button and a whole floor of stressed midwives ran into the room. We had pressed the wrong button. Turns out a bit of blood is normal when your about to give birth, who knew.

It got to about 3.30 and I felt the weirdest urge to push so we hit the midwife button (the right one this time and just one midwife came) and she checked me over on the bed. This was the first time I had laid on the bed since getting into the room! I couldn’t recommend standing up enough as it really helps bring the baby down!! When she checked I was 7cm dilated and I begged for a pool birth so she went to get it sorted. Hours went by in my head and I asked Max why it was taking so long, it had only been 3 minutes (Gas and air is brilliant). I couldn’t get out of the bed as I was convinced the baby would fall out of me so stayed there for around 10 minutes.

After what felt like an eternity the pool room was ready and the midwife came to get me. It was a short walk across the hall but I didn’t want to leave my beloved gas and air. The midwife reassured me that there was another gas and air machine in there so I agreed to go. I power walked across the hall and nearly joined another mum giving birth as I walked into the wrong room. The midwife spun me around and we headed to the right room next door.

This room was amazing. I was totally fucked as this point but the pool was pink and looked like a dream. The midwife said she would turn the colours off but I was adamant that I wanted it to stay pink. I made my way into the pool only to realise that I’d left my socks on. My mum offered to take them off but I objected as apparently my feet were nice and warm.

With my beloved gas and air back, I began to push. Mum described my pushing noises as primeval grunting (thanks mum), oh and she also proceeded to take some wonderful photos of me pushing, my face is horrific and I will not be sharing them. The midwife asked if Max wanted to see the baby crown and I gave him the most horrific death stare and said don’t you dare go that end as I thought he would never look at me in the same way.

Isaac was born at 5.08am at a healthy weight of 7lb 14.5oz and he’s more perfect than we could have ever hoped for! At 5.10am I realised I didn’t poo and was absolutely over the moon thanks to gas and air.

I want to thank the amazing team at Liverpool Women’s Hospital for bringing me tea and toast and especially my midwife Lisa!

What they don’t tell you about slow labour

Contractions are hell, active labour actually isn’t too bad once you have got days of tedious contractions over with! 

I was three days overdue on Monday 4th February and it all started for me with a sweep which by the way is not pleasant. A midwife basically tries to manually open your cervix with her hand. It is not for the faint hearted or prude. I won’t go into anymore detail but it’s common to bleed after this!

A few hours after my sweep I was led to believe that nothing had happening, oh how wrong I was. At about 2am the next morning I started getting what felt like period pains every 10 minutes or so. Stupidly at this point I called my mum and woke my boyfriend up as they would both be coming to the hospital with me. What I didn’t realise was this was absolutely nothing in comparison to how I would feel in 45 hours and I should have just had paracetamol and gone back to bloody sleep. But no. It was my first time having a baby after all and I had no idea what to expect.

Mum arrived at about 8am on Tuesday and the three of us waited it out. My contractions would go from 10 minutes apart to 5 minutes apart, then back up to 7 minutes apart but at this point only lasting 15 seconds or so. We decided to go out for coffee to try and move the labour along and we also went on a hunt for clary sage oil which is supposed to bring labour on, more on that later.

At about 8pm on Tuesday my contraction app told me to go to the hospital as they were about 3 minutes apart and lasting over 30 seconds, so off we set. I arrived and was inspected only to find out I was 1-2cm dilated and you need to be 4cm to stay in the hospital. They sent us back on our way with paracetamol and codeine. My boyfriend and mum managed to get some sleep this night but I didn’t. Imagine trying to sleep through the pain of period cramps x50 stabbing you in the abs every 10 minutes, it’s impossible. Stupid me decided not to take the codeine or paracetamol as I was worried it would effect the baby, for God’s sake please take the codeine and paracetamol if you are in this position and get some sleep, potentially the worst mistake I made! 

Wednesday came around and by this point I’m pretty delirious so I try out a clary sage oil bath which seems to do nothing even though my boyfriend poured in half a bottle into the bath (the recommended amount is about 5 drips). My contractions would be up and down like a yo-yo and go from 5 minutes apart to 15 minutes apart then back down to 4 minutes.

It got to about 11pm on Wednesday and my contractions intensified again to every 3 minutes apart lasting 45 seconds, annoyingly they seem to get worse at night! Take two going to the hospital and again I was only 1-2cm, the midwife also told me off for not having paracetamol and codeine so I had it there and then. Again we were sent on our way home. It was coming up to about 45 hours with no sleep for me and at about 1am on Thursday morning I broke down crying in pain because even the codeine and paracetamol didn’t seem to work. At this point the contractions were about 2 minutes apart lasting 1 minute.

We trundled off to the hospital again, this time me in the front of the car balling my eyes out in pain and thank fuck third time lucky! I was checked over and had got to 3cm but because I was crying so much the midwife let us stay at 1.30am on Thursday morning. 47 hours of early labour and no sleep had left me feeling like a pile of dog poo but now they had finally let me stay to start pushing this baby out!

If you are about to have your first baby and you are unsure of what happens my advice to you would be take the fucking drugs and get some sleep before the baby comes! You also need to wait until your contractions are every 3 minutes apart and at least above 45 seconds long to go into hospital. Fingers crossed you won’t have a slow labour like mine and good luck!!!