My hospital bag is packed, the baby carrier has been dug out from storage and given a good clean, and the moses basket is set up in our room. I’m now 35 weeks pregnant, and I’m done.
I don’t feel at all worried that I might have forgotten something, and I’ve not even looked at any hospital bag checklists. As from experience, I know a lot of what’s listed you never even use…I’m already two kids down, and inevitably have a bit more of a laid back attitude than first time mums to be.
Pre packed hospital bags are a great idea for first time mums to be as it takes the stress out of remembering to buy and pack essentials and also you can utilise the bag afterwards. I wasnt aware of these first time round, otherwise i might have treated myself!
BUT, there are a couple of things that I find myself thinking about more and more as the weeks creep by.
All images in this post are black and white, I wish the issues I’m about to discuss were too, but there’s a whole lot of grey areas and that’s the problem…
Labour and Birth
I know what you’re thinking, find me a pregnant woman who isn’t thinking about it eh?
My two birth stories couldn’t be more different and that’s one of the main reasons that I’ve been wondering what’s awaiting me this time around.
With Stanley I went 14 days overdue and was booked in for an induction (on Father’s Day 2014 as it happened…I even had a pre-written card packed in my bag for Ben. Yep, that’s the kind of organisational difference between first timer me, and current me!).
Arriving at the hospital just before 9am, I was given the pessary and sent home to wait it out. As instructed, I went back up to MAU at 6pm just as I was getting really bad back pain. And, that was the start of my stint on the ward in active labour.
- Being hyper sensitive to the induction drug.
- Stanley’s heart rate dropping off with every contraction.
- Being nil by mouth (joy).
- Being prepped for an emergency c-section.
- Having my labour stopped.
- Having my waters broken to start my labour again.
- Being hyper sensitive to the drip.
- Transitioning too quickly.
- Ben running full pelt from McDonald’s back up to the hospital as things were progressing a lot faster than anyone was expecting. The funniest thing ever, it still makes me laugh now.
- Stanley turning his head and getting stuck in the birth canal.
- Being prepped for theatre.
- A 3rd degree episiotomy.
- And, finally welcoming my baby boy at 4.03am after a forceps assisted delivery.
A grand total of 43hrs 3mins
P.s Ben never did get his Father’s Day card that year!!
Not exactly one for the faint hearted, but evidently it wasn’t enough to put me off.
So, when my waters broke at 7.45pm with James I calmly rang the hospital and informed them. They suggested coming in at around 11.30pm. No problem I thought.
I sat down to watch ‘Call the Midwife’ of all things, with a hot water bottle and a couple of paracetamol. By 8.15pm I’d sneaked off into the kitchen alone to ‘have a word with myself’…I felt I wasn’t coping very well with the pain and I had hours and hours to go, right?
At 8.30pm I suggested to Ben that he went to wake Stanley up and put him in the car. So off we went amongst cries of ‘don’t panic, don’t panic’ from a pj clad Stanley in the backseat (Mr Rabbit from Peppa Pig has a lot to answer for). It was a good distraction for me and with hindsight, just another hilarious reaction from a 2.5 year old.
We had a slight detour to drop Stanley off with Nana & Grandad, but we were finally hospital bound. I can remember feeling really annoyed and disappointed with myself in the car because I was in so much pain, and I really thought I should have been coping much better at this early stage. By now I was practically in the passenger seat footwell. We arrived at the maternity drop off point at 9.37pm. Ben buzzed the door, and I was greeted by two midwives weilding a wheelchair. I’m guessing they must have had cctv and seen that I was on my hands and knees on the pavement outside.
- Not being allowed to ‘sit down’ in the wheelchair. Cue funny crouch position.
- Having my leggings and knickers cut off me.
- Midwives binning my shoes because they were full of my waters.
- Forgetting my hospital bag in all the chaos and leaving it in the car.
- Being on the bed and waiting for the midwives to examine me.
- The midwives not bothering to examine me and telling me to do what I needed to do.
- Pushing twice and welcoming my second baby boy at 10.07pm.
Totalling a huge 2hrs 22mins.
Ladies and Gentlemen, place your bets please…
Will I even make it to the hospital this time?
I’ve put a plan in place that Nana will come over to our house this time round. But, she’s still got an 8 mile trip to ours and we will then have a 14 mile trip to the hospital. Eeekkk!!
I’ve asked my midwife about a home birth but I’ve been advised against electing to have one as I’m high risk of haemorrhage due to my previous losses. She did say however, that if I felt like labour was progressing thick and fast again, under NO CIRCUMSTANCES should I attempt to get in the car and I was to ring 999 instead. Just a tiny bit scary!!
So, I’ve dreamt about Ben delivering our third son at home twice now.
Is it a sign?
Should I buy some waterproof sheeting and more towels?
I can’t get James Herriot type visions out of my head!
Breast vs Bottle
*TRIGGER TOPIC ALERT*
Now before everyone jumps on me, I know that breast milk is liquid gold. I know all the benefits. I know that in this country we have a shockingly low rate of breastfeeding mothers. AND, having done it twice before I know how all consuming, exhausting, quietly beautiful and yet bloody hard work it can be.
This is the first time that I’ve shared my feeding journey, I still feel uneasy and a bit embarrassed about it now and that’s just bloody crazy…I have two happy and healthy boys here with me. But, it’s wrapped up in the very essence of being a woman and when it doesn’t work out it can bring on feelings of worthlessness and failure. If just one fellow mummy reads this and connects, either with what I went through and understands because she’s been there, done that or doesn’t put pressure on herself going forward in her feeding journey, or is made to feel like she’s not alone in how she’s feeling then I’ll be happy and it will all be worth it.
I’ll start by sticking my neck out and say breastfeeding did not come naturally to me at ALL, which came as quite a shock to the system. I had expectations of it being a beautiful, bonding experience that would happen naturally as soon as my perfect little boy latched on for the first time.
In reality I have really had to work hard at it, and that came with a huge feeling of both disappointment in my body (I hated my body at this point for letting us down) and failure. But, I wanted it sooo badly, especially with my firstborn as that’s what I was always told was best for baby (anti natal classes didn’t even mention formula it was breast all the way). So, I persevered.
I was absolutely crippled with guilt when I struggled to feed Stanley. I sat and sobbed my heart out while nursing him. It was extremely painful, Stanley was a very hungry baby and nursed A LOT, and I felt like my supply didn’t meet his demands. I was totally exhausted and was still quite poorly from the birth, I couldn’t even sit in a comfortable feeding position due to a lot of stitches that weren’t healing properly. I did everything I possibly could to help us, saw a lactation consultant, had Stanley checked for tongue/lip tie. Had his latch checked. Everything was deemed OK by the professionals.
But it just wasn’t working, and I felt helpless. I started expressing while feeding to try and increase my supply. I was bleeding, in pain and felt like I’d failed him. Stanley suffered from terrible reflux and at least half of every feed would come straight back up. The pain and discomfort would upset him, and so he’d then nurse for comfort. It was a vicious circle. I was fighting a losing battle.
In the end, Ben made the big decision for me. He drove to the supermarket and came back with formula. Enough was enough. He couldn’t bear to see me spiralling into a guilt ridden, painful and exhausting black hole. Once on formula we could mix reflux medication in with Stanley’s feed so almost instantly he became a happier baby, and once we’d settled into the formula routine (Stanley needed to be changed up onto hungry baby) I became a much happier mummy too as I watched him grow and thrive. I managed to EBF for 8 weeks.
With James, I set myself up with a positive outlook from the start, I told myself that he wouldn’t go hungry no matter how he was fed. I wanted to start off breastfeeding again but decided not to put myself under any pressure. So off we went. When I felt myself becoming sore I used nipple shields (you have to be a bit thick skinned, as Midwives and Health Visitors aren’t usually fans, but I held my own) until I felt comfortable enough to carry on without.
I felt like things were going great, James was a happy content baby, he didn’t suffer from reflux like Stanley so I knew that he was getting a full feed. I was exhausted but happy and felt proud of myself. James gained weight and we were well on track. Between having Stanley and James my sister had welcomed my niece into the world and honestly, she was a breastfeeding goddess from the off and made it look ridiculously easy, she EBF for a year then transitioned to cows milk. It didn’t help me to feel any better over Stanley but at this point I had picked up a few tips from her and my confidence was given a boost and I really thought that I’d cracked it this time.
That is, up until James was 7 weeks old. I thought James was losing weight and mentioned it to my HV, she assured me that EBF babies get exactly the right amount of nourishment and not to worry. But, I WAS worrying as he was now visibly losing weight and I thought he was far from thriving. I asked the HV to come out again.
Upon examination she was concerned James had CMPA so I found myself on a completely dairy free diet (I was gutted) for a further two weeks. On her return visit he had dropped well below his birth weight and we suddenly found ourselves up at the hospital for tests. I was asked to feed James in front of several doctors so that they could check everything over. His nappies were all inspected. But, they couldn’t find anything out of the ordinary. I was given a small amount of nutrient and fat rich formula on perscription (to help with weight gain) and we were sent home.
That’s when I took matters into my own hands and went with my gut feeling and began combined feeding. James reacted well and started to put weight on steadily. I started by giving him a bottle of formula when we got up and one before he went to bed, and went from there. I expressed when he had his bottles to try and keep my supply up but inevitably it started to dwindle again. This time round I EBF for 9 weeks and combi fed for another 5 before the final switch over to formula.
The BIG question is…do I put myself through all this pain, guilt and stress again in a few weeks time?
OR, do I bite the bullet and formula feed from the start?
It’s a real toughy, and I know my emotional knee jerk reactions can easily override my common sense.
Another thing to factor in, is the big J. James will be 20 months old the day before my due date. He loves to be on me, or as near to me as possible. He’s all about the mummy cuddles!! James also wakes up 3 to 4 times a night on average. He’s my little buddy and I don’t want to have to push him away because I’ve got his baby brother attached to me. I’ve been trying to explain to James that there is a baby in my tummy and showing him my bump, Stanley has been great in this respect and has been trying to get James to kiss and cuddle my bump like he does. James however, just laughs then rams his index finger into my belly button as hard as he can! The age difference between Stanley becoming a big brother at 2 years 8 months and James at 20 months is startling. Stanley fully understood what was going on and became my little helper, James, well he’s a loveable handful!!
Can I juggle all this, and be a walking milk machine too, without actually running myself into the ground?
Can I treat one of my boys differently to the others without feeling guilty forever?
Am I happy for him to miss out on all the natural goodies, my antibodies and the like?
At this moment in time I’m really not sure, I have mixed feelings about it and it’s playing on my mind a lot!!
I’ve not yet purchased any tins of formula or a starter pack to take to the hospital, so I’m firmly sat on the fence. Ben’s stance on the matter is that he wants me to do whatever will make it easier for me, as I’ll already have my hands full. He also said he would like to be able to help more in those first few foggy weeks of endless night feeds but I feel he might rapidly change his mind on this once we’re home from hospital!!
I’ve also thought about breast feeding at first while Ben is at home on paternity leave, then weaning onto formula. This way he’d get the good stuff (colostrum) and first milk. But, then I’d have to ride out the pain and engorgement while my milk dries out.
If I do decide to fully formula feed, do hospitals still give you something to stop your milk coming in?
I have no idea.
Well, that’s where I am with 5 weeks to go…the #mumguilt is strong in this one!! And I seem to be going round in circles.
Any comments, or suggestions are welcome but please be kind due to the sensitive nature of the post.
All images are my own and must not be reproduced without permission.
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