Friday, 2 September 2016

It's different, this time

I've read a few articles and seen discussions online about whether it is easier to go from no kids to one kid, or from one to two.

Well, a month in, I've gotta say that going from one to two has been much easier for me than the first time around!

That's not to say it isn't hard. Sleep deprivation, no time to rest like with the first, juggling toddler energy with newborn needs, it can be a real struggle. Yesterday I barely managed to eat lunch. Sometimes I feel like I've got octopus arms as I focus simultaneously on a baby who refuses to latch and a toddler who might wee on the floor at any moment. My attention span is short as I'm constantly trying to keep up with what is needed in the moment. I try and do bits of housework in the spare minutes I have between tending to my kids, so nothing is ever finished. I won't tell you how many times I stopped and started writing this post.

Juggling two. This is my life now.

But my stress levels are way down, my expectations are more realistic and my emotions are much more in check this time, leading to an easier experience all around.

One of the most challenging aspects of parenting, first time around, was my feeling of purposelessness as my days changed from work, adult interactions and goals achieved, to a baby on a 3 hour feeding cycle, with medical issues that didn't seem to be getting better. It seemed like I'd be stuck in the roundabout of newborn days forever.

This time I'm much more used to spending time at home, and bringing my own purpose to my days. I'm also much more aware that things will change, and these newborn days don't last too long.

Also, Hunter seems to be a *whispers* easy baby.

Gosh, I know you're never supposed to admit that. Perhaps he is easy in comparison to the early days with Ada. Perhaps it's in contrast to the full on and emotional world of a two year old.

All I know is that, so far, his needs seem pretty simple and he is not hard to please. He feeds well and generally self settles. He is gaining weight like a champ and is very healthy. He does wake every 1-3 hours in the night, but I can cope with that as I know it's just a stage.

I am finding my capacity to parent two kids is bigger than I thought. Two months ago I wrote these words:

I am completely terrified of being a mum to two small children. I love my kids, but I am not one of those natural mum material types....

When thinking about the months ahead, about adding a baby to the mix, I am equal parts excited and terrified. How can I share my time and love fairly between two kids? How can I be the mum they both need? I don't know at this point.

We're only one month in, and I'm aware the road ahead is up and down, but I've surprised myself with my capacity to manage, to love, to parent two kids at once. It's not quite the big drama I thought it might be.

Rocking it at the park with two kids like a bad ass. Please note, copious amounts of coffee was consumed to make this happen
It helps that Ada is a lovely big sister. We weren't quite sure how she would react, but she is incredibly kind and loving with Hunter- always kissing and cuddling him. She can be a bit rough as she doesn't know his limits, but it's all done with love. She has had moment of adjusting to having less attention from us, but overall she is handling it better than I ever could have expected.

A kind and caring sister
I make an effort everyday to get up in time to get a quick shower, to pop on a little makeup and a bit of colour on my lips. Getting dressed and feeling 'presentable' makes me feel like I can take on any challenge the day throws at me. Being in my pj's at midday doesn't give quite the same sense of empowerment.

I'm well aware that in the months ahead, things could become more challening than they are now. I'm anticipating some sibling struggles once Hunter is mobile and into Ada's toys. However, I am much more confident in my ability as a Mum than I was 2.5 years ago with Ada's arrival. I also know, despite my worries about how I parent them, that they will be ok.

I've been constantly marvelling at how this experience with Hunter has been different to that with Ada's. 

Ada made me a Mum. She made me strong and taught me fierce love and protectiveness. She taught me to fight and be brave.

Hunter has introduced me to a side of motherhood I was never sure I'd see. Enjoying things more 'naturally,' appreciating every moment of this placid wee guy. He is teaching me to relax and be confident as a mother.

Here's to mothers of two (or more!) everywhere. It's a struggle, but also a joy and I'm so grateful to be on this crazy ride.

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Hunter: Birth Story

As with Ada's birth, I'd like to get the details down of what happened while it's still fresh in my mind!
I love reading her birth story and I'm sure I will love looking back on this.

This contains pictures of his birth, but nothing graphic :)

The weeks before

In the weeks leading up to Hunter's birth, I wasn't quite sure when or how he was going to be born. His weight was starting to drop centiles, my blood pressure was slowly starting to rise and the placenta was showing signs of calcification (ageing). 

At my 36 week appointment I met with a Dr who I affectionately called 'Dr Doom' later on to my friends. She told me things were not looking so good, so I was to be monitored every 2 days, with a scan at 37 weeks for a new plan. She said it was likely I'd be induced then. She also has some very cheery words about how birth and pregnancy are the most dangerous times in a woman's life, and did I know 100 years ago I'd be dead by now? (Yes, I did actually, but thanks.) Not the best bedside manner for a fully pregnant woman.

36 weeks pregnant
Therefore I went into the 37 week appointment expecting to be told that baby was to come out soon. In fact I started to want this too- safer out than in once they are full term. However, some sort of miscommunication happened, and I only saw a midwife instead of an obstetrician. The midwife told me things look fine, and they'd see me in a week, maybe? I left the appointment crying because I was so confused and worried about my baby. I had gone from monitoring every 2 days to nothing.

I rang my community midwife and explained my confusion. She told me that if I wanted to be induced, I could, it was my decision. This is an extremely tough decision to put on a pregnant mother though, as there are risks with inductions too and I did not want to make that decision myself.

Thankfully, later that night, my actual obstetrician called me. She had reviewed my notes and scans and said they would like to induce me in a weeks time, with every 2 day monitoring before that. I felt such relief to have a plan and a real sense of peace that this was the right thing to do.

The induction

Matt and I arrived at the hospital on induction morning with nervous anticipation. Because of my previous cesarean section, there were certain induction methods they could not use. Induction after cesarean must be gentle because there is a risk of rupture on the scar.

Excited on induction morning
The first step was a foley catheter, which is left in for up to 24 hours to get things started more gently and hopefully start contractions. I got the catheter and then sent Matt to work, as it's not a quick thing, and it's better to use his annual leave after the birth. I walked and walked around the hospital to get things going and met with some friends. In the afternoon I was moved out of my delivery room to a depressing post natal room because they needed the room for deliveries and 'you're not going to be having baby anytime soon!'

Excitement lead to walking....

...and boredom

So, the foley didn't work and I spent the night in hospital trying to get some sleep and anticipating the plan the next day.

The following morning they took the foley out and broke my waters (oh my gosh, so much fluid, everywhere) and started a syntocin drip to get contractions going. My friends who had been induced this way told me it can get very painful very quickly, so I anticipated this. In reality, it took a good few hours of very light contractions before things started to take off. It was actually a bit boring, and Matt and I watched Netflix, played on our phones and so on. At this point my midwife checked me and I had dilated 3cm so this was good progress!!

The contractions really ramped up at this point, and for the following 4 hours they became worse and worse. I was able to handle it with breathing and moving around. It was really hard but I was mentally strong with my goal in mind.

I'm smiling but I'm in a lot of pain! Note the vomit bucket :o

After 4 hours they checked dilation again. You see, with an induced birth you need to keep making progress as there is only so much of the syntocin drip they can give you before it becomes risky. Unfortunately at this point I had not progressed any further. I was so upset- 4 hours of hard work for nothing.

My midwife and obstetrician talked and decided at that point I needed a cesarean. I had done my research around induction and I agreed this was the best plan of action too. But, I was so upset. I had thought I was doing well. Thoughts of 'my body failing again' were whirring round. Memories of Ada's not so nice cesarean were at front of mind. I was still having contractions at this point but I not longer had the mental strength and they were almost unbearable. I was frustrated and teary.

My midwife hugged me and said the best thing anyone could at that point 'it will be ok, this is not a repeat of Ada's birth.' 

The birth

We very quickly prepared for the cesarean. I had a plan which I had given to my midwife in case of cesarean. It requested a few things that we missed with Ada, such as having the drape down to see baby being born, and immediate skin to skin (instead of taking him off to be weighed and so on.) She passed these requests onto the obstetrician.

Ready to go

Before we knew it, I was in the theatre, bending over awkwardly, shaking with nerves while they put the epidural in. Lying down on the table, a deadweight, lines and monitors and people all around. It didn't take long before they were doing the operation and very quickly it was time to put down the drape. I was slightly nervous about seeing too much blood and gore (as was Matt!) because seeing yourself cut open is not the nicest thing. However, I didn't see much of that at all. We saw baby emerge and the obstetrition held him as they did delayed cord clamping. I was crying with awe, and in that moment, all of my frustrations about having a ceserean melted away. I saw my baby be born and he was crying a very strong and loud cry.

A few seconds later he was placed on my chest. He felt so big, and strong and newborny to me. He cried on and off and I just felt so grateful to be able to hold him straight away. 

The  best moment ever!

When I was closed up they wheeled us to recovery and he latched straight away. He was born to feed and knew exactly what he was doing. What a relief!

His birth was actually very healing for me after Ada's birth. All my fears of not seeing or holding or feeding my baby again were washed away. I am so grateful to have had that 'normal' newborn experience this time.

I was in the hospital with him for 3 nights, and then I decided 'I've got this' and asked to be discharged. Coming home together, as a family was also a pivotal moment! It was so lovely not to leave the hospital empty handed this time.

We have been home a few days now with Hunter and it is truly a different experience to the days after Ada was born. I am so grateful to be able to experience this newborn stage in all it's mundane and tiring 'normality.'

Welcome to our family Hunter, we love you so much.

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Dear Baby Boy: The day before we meet you

Dear baby,

Today I am 38 weeks pregnant with you, and tomorrow I will be induced. You will be born tomorrow, or in the next few days.

Today, I am a ball of nervous, excited and emotional anticipation. I'm sure by the time you can read this you will know all about your sisters arrival. My pregnancy with you has been so different, and for that I am so grateful.

I don't know what will happen, or how exactly you will be born, but I do know this: you are strong (your big kicks show it), and you are a true miracle to have made it this far. I know I will have you in my arms on the day you are born, and for that I cannot wait.

You have given me huge kicks, and a big belly, you've given me days and weeks of pregnancy I never had before, and you've given me time to enjoy the 'normal' end of a pregnancy. The strangers asking when I'm due, if I'm having a boy or a girl, secretly I've loved it all.

I am filled with nerves about your arrival into our family, but I know this is a normal feeling! We've been able to prepare for your arrival in a way that we never could for your sister, and that has been healing for me.
Your bassinet, ready in our room

Because of my pregnancy with your sister, I have been closely monitored for all of your pregnancy. This has meant I've seen your sweet face on scans more times than I can count, and heard your heartbeat on numerous occasions.
Monitoring your heartbeat yesterday

Today, I have been doing last minute preparations for your arrival. Packing your hospital bag and looking at the sweet wee clothes you will soon be wearing.

Today I am enjoying my last moments of pregnancy, as it is unlikely your Dad and I will have any more children. I'm treasuring you in my belly.

Today, like every day in my pregnancy with you, I whisper  prayer over you
Thankyou God for my boy, my fighter, my miracle. Thankyou for his life. I pray my son will grow to know you and to be a strong, courageous and kind boy. Thankyou for the joy he has already brought to our lives and that he is yet to bring.

We love you so much already, my boy. We've been waiting to meet you for 9 long months and now the time is here. 

I will see you soon xx


Monday, 25 July 2016

Dear Ada- life at 2 and a half

Dear Ada,

I am writing you this letter as you play independently and quietly (the best kind of playing ;) ), while I sit on the couch in the sun.

I'm heavily pregnant with your baby brother, and because of that I've been thinking a lot about you recently, about how life is going to change for you, about how I want to treasure and soak up these last moments of you as my only child.

So far, I have loved seeing you as a two year old. You have more sass and attitude for sure, but along with that comes a lot more language and understanding.

The other day the groceries arrived, I exclaimed 'oh that's so annoying!' 
'What's wrong mummy?' you said, with concern written all over your face.
'Two of the eggs are smashed!' I said
'Oh no mummy, I sorry,' you said.

Or when I wince and twinge from pregnancy pains. 'What's wrong mummy?'
'Oh, my tummy is a wee bit sore.'
So you kiss it better, 'all better mummy!'

Those tiny moments of sweetness melt my heart.

I love seeing you being compassionate. And I love the joy in your face when you exclaim 'I fix it!' or 'Ada did it!,' with such pride. You are learning new skills and rightfully proud of yourself for it.

You can sing ABC's and twinkle twinkle with conviction. You can count to 10 (although you often miss six), and you love to draw, sing and dance.

You do struggle to share your toys with others, something which is probably very normal for your age and your only child status. We try and guide you to be kind and considerate and we see wee glimmers of understanding and empathy. I know the next few months might be rough for you as you lose your place as our only child, and I hope we can guide you through it well. I know in the long run you will absolutely love having a brother.

You can be stubborn and cheeky sometimes. You don't throw epic tantrums like you used to, however you do know how to act the drama queen sometimes, with a furrowed brow and wily look. Your Dad and I are secretly laughing although we try not to show it.

I love that we understand your language now (well most of the time!). We are working on your often demanding tone, and manners, and seeing you learn these skills is very rewarding. I can now sit you down and explain things to you, and you seem to get it. Being able to communicate like this makes life a lot easier!

We tried you in a bed, but you liked to come up the stairs many times during the night. So we put the cot back up. You love being back in your cot, and insist the sides stay up. You must feel very safe snuggled in your wee coccoon. Perhaps it reminds you of the incubator in NICU and the feeling of safety you got there? Either way, you've taught us that you're not ready for that big move yet, that what makes you feel safe is important too.

There is so much more I could write about you Ada, but I will stop there because you are bringing me ALL the books to read. And after that it will be nap time.

You're such a sweet and clever toddler, full of life.

Your Daddy and I love you so much <3 <3

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Baby Update

So it appears I posted a rather vague update on Facebook last week (whoops!) and since have had people messaging me to see if baby and I are ok.

We are!

Last week I had a scan which showed that baby is not growing quite as well as he has been. Phrases like IUGR (Inter-uterine growth restriction- Ada had this) and SGA (small for gestational age) were thrown around, along with the possibility of baby coming a little earlier than he might want to. At the time I was quite upset about this possibility. A 35/36 weeker is nothing compared to Ada's birth at 30 weeks, however it could mean baby needs time in Special Care, which would mean being separated from my baby at birth- something I feel quite strongly about NOT experiencing this time.

However, by talking it through with my lovely friends and family, as well as praying and mulling it all over, I have been able to process and come to grips with this possibility. The appointment also gave me the motivation to finish all the last baby bits and pieces, so we are ready for his arrival whenever that might be.

I have also decided to take maternity leave. My line of work is freelance, so it would be easy for me to keep accepting work here and there when I feel up to it. However, mentally deciding to officially stop working from next week, to spend some time resting and with Ada, has been a good decision for me. I never got any leave before Ada was born (I worked on the day I went into hospital!), so it will be nice to do things a little differently.

I had another scan this week, and they can't compare baby's growth from last week to this one (it's too soon to compare) but they did check other bits and pieces such as the blood flow from me to him, and this is all fine! Therefore he should be grand to stick around another week, till next week when I am 36 weeks and we have the big growth scan- from there we will make a plan around his birth.

I think I'm now at peace with whatever may happen. Even though medical phrases were thrown around in todays appointment, in a quite unlike me fashion, I decided not to ask for more expansion on the terms, or explanation of their consequences. Unlike with Ada, who was labelled and diagnosed with lots of things, I feel comfortable at this point to not think too far ahead. We will know diagnoses and plans in full when we need to. I also feel confident and competent in my knowledge around birth and neonatal stages to advocate for myself and baby when we need it.

He might need to come next week, he might stick around a few more weeks. I may go into labour, I may be induced, I may need a ceserean.  I'm feeling very 'what will be will be,' about things now.

We've made it so much further than Ada's birth gestation, and I know whatever happens, it will be a very different experience to last time. I'm excited to see what will happen, and very excited to meet my son.
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