Monday, 1 December 2014

Breast Is Best. Unless It's Not.

I'm so fucking sick of the pressure to breastfeed - external pressure and the pressure I put on myself. 

Breastfeeding is HARD. Really hard. I feel like nobody told me this, or even warned that it was a possibility. I worried from the start that I wouldn't have enough glandular tissue to breastfeed (IGT I think it's called) but deep down I hoped (thought) I'd be one of those perfect mother earth mamas who would be able to feed my child perfectly from my body. I also thought we'd have a beautiful birth and that somehow PND would elude me. Clearly I thought wrong on all counts.

We had a rocky start in the hospital, F was so full of mucus (even after all the suctioning) that she didn't want to feed, which in turn meant that my milk production wasn't being stimulated properly. Or something. One of the midwives had to hand express colostrum from me to feed F so she would get the nutrients and antibodies and all the other good stuff colostrum contains. So I was milked like a dry cow - hardly any came out (and to this day I can't express more than a few drops of milk at a time). 

When we got home from the hospital F was hungry. We persevered with the breastfeeding for a few days - my nipples were agony, her latch was poor, and even after a successful feed she was hungry - and then I caved and sent HN1 out to buy some formula to top her up with. It's torture watching your baby scream and eat her fists because she's so hungry because your body can't provide for her. Topping up with formula was such a hard decision, not just because I felt I was failing, but because in this culture the Breast Is Best brigade push and push and push. It feels "wrong" to formula feed, and you are judged. Every time I feed F formula I feel the need to justify it. Constantly having to explain that I just can't make enough milk to feed my baby is also shitty.

And it's not like we haven't tried to up my supply - breast feeding often, trying to express, breast feeding only, fenugreek, oats, I take metaclopromide... The only thing that's worked is the drugs but even with them I don't make nearly enough to satisfy her. So, we mix feed. I feed her from both breasts and then she has a bottle, which is tiring to say the least (especially in the middle of the night). Her last feed at night is bottle only but I daren't drop another breast feed in case it further reduces my supply. At least she's getting some breast milk.

Plus, breastfeeding is something I enjoy and she enjoys. Sometimes she refuses a bottle and looks for the breast which is a really nice feeling (the warm fuzzies evaporate pretty quickly when I can't satisfy her, although she's often happy to suck away and use me as a dummy. I'm apparently willing to sacrifice my nipples for this). Perhaps I should talk about my nipples... OUCH. They've been cracked and bruised and bumpy and now they go totally white when she sucks. I have painful let-down and it's agony when I'm cold and they go hard (apparently I also have Raynaud's). My nipple saviours are my Lilypadz silicone breast pads - nips can't go hard which solves that problem, plus they're kept warm and moist enough to heal and not crack. The bruising is another story. When F has hold and, say, needs to fart, she whips her head from side to side with my nipple in her mouth. FML. And she farts an awful lot (apple doesn't fall far from the tree...).

So there we have another reason why I feel like a failure. They seem to be piling up. It would be easier to give up breastfeeding altogether and switch to formula only, I just can't bring myself to do it. I refer you to the aforementioned pressure, internal and external.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Almost human

Last night our usually anti-sleep tiny human slept for 5 hours IN A ROW. This is unprecedented. She then went straight back to sleep, without the usual hour of rocking and walking for another couple of hours, had a boob, slept some more, had a bottle, slept some more, had other boob, slept some more. It's now 10 am and we have been in bed for 12 hours and there has been no walking, shushing, rocking, bouncing, 4am TV... Bliss.

Too good to last but we'll take what we can get!

Tuesday, 18 November 2014


It's incredible how fast she's growing; every day something is different. Freyja is so alert it's a bit creepy. We saw the child health nurse last week and for her age (6 weeks) she's apparently very advanced. All parents probably think their children are, but Frejya has been holding her head up since she was a few days old, focusing well since about 3 weeks, following things with her eyes since 5 weeks and smiling since she was a few days old. Now she giggles (especially in her sleep) and coos and smiles back when you smile at her. Super cute. 

But it's not super easy. As well as struggling with my feelings, which are pretty big, I'm struggling with lack of sleep. Freyja doesn't like going to sleep and until this week has only taken power naps of approx 15 minutes each during the day. Now she'll nap for up to 2 hours, but ONLY if she's worn in a wrap or carrier... Which means I can't catch up on any sleep. The whole "sleep when they sleep" advice is bullshit. People really do spout a load of old bollocks, especially those for whom the memories of the first weeks and months with a baby has faded. I wish I'd written more down, I'm sure my memories will fade fast.

I want to remember everything. The way she looks, how she'll only sleep on me or touching me (even lying beside me she puts her hand on my face), the way she smells (mostly), how she turns into a monster as soon as she's hungry and it's as if we haven't fed her in days, how peaceful she is when she's breastfeeding, her fine features, her blue eyes which are also changing daily (light inside and indigo outside at the moment), how much she loves the shower and the bath and screams when she has to get out, the way she chews in her sleep, her half hour daily bouts of hiccoughs (must ask the GP about this tomorrow at our checkup)...

And so much more. It's not all good stuff either. She has horrible tummy pains and gas, we've one through 4 formulas until now and this one is the best for her digestion so far. She won't sleep in her bed (we built a cosleeping cot for her but it seems sleeping on me or touching me is better. She won't sleep for longer than a couple of hours at a time. She was so full of mucus when she was born that she didn't want to feed; I think this is why I now can't produce enough milk for her. So I breastfeed and formula feed so at least she gets some breast milk, but this is HARD because it takes up to an hour to feed her each time. Then at night she needs to be reaettled which can take another hour.

At the start of my last post I wrote that I don't want to forget how this feels. So I suppose I should try to describe how I feel - it's pretty difficult to put into words. When Freyja was born I felt numb. I don't think it even registered that they were having to force oxygen into her lungs, or that she wasn't crying, or even that I'd cut the umbilical and she'd been whisked away from me. I was exhausted and basically emotionally fucked. Nothing was registering. Until later that night when HN1 had to leave the hospital and go home - I cried then and I cry now. I was left all alone and in pain with our new baby in the last place on Earth I wanted to be. He stayed as long as he could, a few hours after visiting hours were over, and held the baby and let me sleep for a couple of hours. Those first hours he spent holding our daughter feel like some sort of twilight, I remember waking up and watching him watch her and now I feel sad but also like it was the most beautiful thing. 

Sometimes I look at our baby and my heart hurts. I suppose that's the love people talk about. Other times, a lot of the time, I just want to run away, I couldn't eat at first, I couldn't stop crying, I felt so alone and scared and yeah. like running away. HN1 only had a week off work, and I'll never get over that. I needed him, I needed to not be alone, I asked him to take more time off and I should have forced it rather than thinking about how I didn't want to be so needy and put that pressure on him. My mum had to leave the day after he returned to work, and I'll never forget how much she wanted to stay, and how much I wanted her to stay. Had I asked her, told her I needed her, she would have, But again, I didn't want to be needy, wanty, the person that people have to rearrange their lives for. I wish I'd been stronger and asked for help because now I feel like I'm fucked.

Last week I started taking antidepressants again. I didn't want to, and I fought not to for 6 weeks, but then I thought I might drown myself and antidepressants seemed like the more sensible option. I'll probably regret not starting them sooner if they start to work, and then I'll beat myself up for not being the best I could be for the first few precious weeks of Freyja's life. I'll beat myself up for that regardless - I already hate that so much of it is so hazy. I just want to feel better, for me, for Freyja and for HN1. Which I suppose is progress.

Monday, 20 October 2014

And then there was a baby.

I need to write so I don't forget how this feels. The past couple of weeks have evaporated in a blur of tears, hormones, pain, and fear - lots of fear. 

Freyja (naming her has taken a while and would have taken longer were we not under time pressure to get her a passport) was born at 5:02 am on Thursday 2nd October. Precisely nothing has gone right or according to plan since the whole breech debacle, and the birth and everything since is no exception.

For weeks (including breech issues), we were on-again-off-again the home birth program. Not the fault of the community midwives who did everything they could to keep us on, rather the fault of every fucking obstetrician we saw. The whole "you're measuring too small for dates" thing got old REALLY quickly. Each time we saw a different OB or midwife we were sent for another growth scan, and each time it came back fine. In the end she did stop growing but probably just to give the finger to everyone who told me she was too small or not growing or had IUGR. 

I guess I got caught up after writing those paragraphs. Freyja will be 5 weeks tomorrow and things aren't easier. I don't feel like I'm coping, I still want to run away. Everything so far has felt like a huge disappointment (not the baby - Freddie if you ever read this then you are not the disappointment, I am, the birth was, the end of the pregnancy was, and these first weeks are just so hard and physically, mentally, and emotionally draining.

At 36 weeks Kane and I went to KEMH for an ECV which was successful but one of the most painful things I've ever experienced. Part of me really regrets forcing the baby to turn - like it was cruel somehow.

Mum arrived on the 5th September (we were expecting the baby to be early and/or a C-section at 38/39 weeks depending on growth issues and breechness) and ended up having to extend mum's 5 week trip so she could spend a whole week after the birth. It was really tense between us to start with but we straightened a few things out. Didn't help that I was very very pregnant and annoyed and dealing with a million medical issues (not ready to discuss all of them here). She was great and got out of the house a lot, tried to cook for us but I hated the smell of food in the final months of pregnancy, and cleaned. I should have spent more time out with her. Hindsight 20:20, but equally it's hard to go on mammoth walks when your bladder is the size of a pin head and you're carrying a full term baby around (and the rest!).


Now Freyja is 6 weeks old and I haven't even written down my birth story. 

At 41 weeks I was still pregnant and (tmi) my cervix was posterior and closed but softening. I was getting a bit anxious that I wouldn't be able to home birth (not allowed after 42 weeks), but not so anxious that I'd started to think about what induction might entail. It's standard to go into hospital for a check up at 40 + 10, and provided everything was good, I was considering going over 42 weeks and birthing when the baby was ready. Obvs that wasn't to be. 

At 40+9 I went to KEMH and was hooked up to CTG - this time the baby was in a cooperative mood so I only had to be monitored for about an hour. I asked if they were going to scan as well because an ultrasound hadn't been requested on my admission papers (and is done my research so knew that a scan was usually required - Dr Google, duh).so pretty much they weren't going to scan but I asked them to - thankfully. 

A second and then a third opinion was sought after the dr had taken the measurements from the ultrasound. The baby hadn't grown since my last growth scan 3 weeks before. This is about as good as it sounds. They also said they could see meconium on the scan (which ruled out my home birth pretty much on the spot). I was told to go home, pack a bag and be back within 2 hours for induction; "we need to get this baby out". So much for a beautiful, calm, natural, drug and intervention free birh.

I called HN1, he left work and met me at home where we packed (optimistically including our hypnobirthing stuff as well as music, snacks, and all manner of things that are completely useless once the induction starts), took our last preg pics, and left the house for the last time without the ridiculous responsibility of having a child. 

When I think about or talk about the next bits, I cry. It just feels so brutal and horrible and out of control - and if I wanted one thing from the birth it was to be in control.

We arrived at the labour ward and after a short wait we were shown to room 13 - a good number but the smallest, windowless delivery room you can imagine. I can't even remember the name of our midwife - none of my community midwives were available to come in so we had a hospital midwife. She had to stay in the room and monitor mama and baby the whole time as soon as the synto drip starts, so I really should know her name.

She did a stretch and sweep to see if I was dilated enough to hook my waters; I was 2 cm and she could stretch to 3 (I reckon I would have gone into labour naturally by the end of the week) so she broke my waters. Whether or not there was any meconium was debateable. An hour later (I'd been having contractions, they we're bearable) they started the synto drip. Fuck me. Zero to infinity in 60 seconds. In no time I was having 4 contractions in 10 minutes - literally one on top of the other - the worst pain I've ever experienced. For 4 hours I did it by myself - poor HN1 didn't know what to do, I didn't want to be touched and really there was nothing anyone could do. Those kind of contractions are supposed to come at the very end of a natural labour. You're supposed to build up to them, not be hit in the face with them hour after hour. Eventually I "caved" and asked for an epidural so they called in the consultant anesthetist from his bed at 1am and he placed my epidural without any issues. It was quick and painless (apart from the 2 contractions I had to sit perfectly still through while the needle was in my spine) and WHAT A RELIEF. I could still feel the contractions but the pain was dialed well down. I wish I'd asked for it sooner, but I really wanted to be as drug free as possible. Laughable really when you consider the hormones they were pumping into me. 

A couple of hours later the midwife started getting worried about the baby's heart rate, which was plummeting with each contraction. Not cool. So she kept an eye for a while and then called an obstetrician. The midwife thought I was pretty dilated and even though I wasn't due another exam for 2 hours asked I she could check my cervix. Bingo, 10 cms. Apparently my body knows what it's doing (hooray, this should mean a quick labour next time - IF there is a next time. Big if). Then the obstetrician explained that usually they would wait an hour for the baby to descend before beginning pushing, but that my baby "WOULDN'T LAST THAT LONG". 

What. The. Fuck. Who says that to anyone, let alone a woman in labour. I can't get over that part. To top that I then had to have a fight with her and list the reasons I wouldn't be getting in stirrups to deliver my baby. Urgh. Anyway, she left in a huff and told the midwives to page her in half an hour (presumably so she could get me in stirrups when my idea of being on my knees didn't work??). Challenge accepted, bitch. 

30 minutes later, at 5:02am Freyja was born. Delayed cord clamping went out the window when she was born really flopy and wouldn't come round. So then she was taken to the heater thing and they forced oxygen into her for 3 or 4 minutes while people yelled for a paediatrician and the midwife and my student midwife tried to deliver my placenta. Eventually the baby turned pink and started breathing. HN1 was with her the whole time and I don't remember much but I remember him yelling to me "SHE'S PINK!". Good times.

What next? A bladder stretch injury, a couple of days in hospital for observation of the baby, a catheter to go home with, a kidney infection, stitches in my second degree tear, breastfeeding problems... A whole heap of shit. And depression. 

Oh and after a week, HN1 went back to work and my mum had to go back to the UK. On my own again, with a baby. Can you say fucked?

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Mini update until I can do better!

Lots has happened since I last posted! 

Last Monday we went to the hospital for an ECV - most painful thing ever, but Pod turned! We now have a head down baby, my cervix is safe from tiny feet, we're back on the CMP and all set for a home birth in a couple of weeks!

I should write down what was involved with the ECV so I don't forget, and I WILL come back and do that (just as soon as I've had a nap). We were at the hospital for hours and hours for what should have been a 2 hour in and out, basically because our baby is so zen and they couldn't get a rise in heart rate out of her. Anyway, she seems to have coped fine with the procedure (my tummy is still bruised though!).

The other thing that's happened is my birthday. As of yesterday, I am 30. THIRTY. Good thing I'm so pregnant or I might be having a meltdown... Baby trumps the 30 crisis somewhat.

Baby has also sapped my iron stores in the past few weeks (last blood test was totally normal, this one is waaaaaay low). My levels have always been off the charts but now my ferritin is completely depleted! This might be why I feel so tired and groggy - going to start a supplement today.

First up, that nap.

Oh, also, my body has completely changed shape since they turned mini-me. Behold:

Thursday, 21 August 2014

And breeeeathe. That was a bit of a ranty post (though not entirely out of character; this whole blog thing is a bit ranty).

On Friday I saw my midwife who told me I'm entitled to a second opinion and referred me to KEMH for just that. KEMH is the state's largest maternity hospital and takes all high risk cases, but best of all, their medical director of obstetrics is experienced in "assisting" vaginal breech birth.

It's a public hospital so we weren't expecting an appointment immediately, but on Tuesday they texted to say I had an 8am appointment on Wednesday. Speedy. Yesterday was anything but. I left the house at 7 (traffic was a bitch the day before and although the hospital is only 20-ish mins away, traffic get s awful at 7:30), and sod's law arrived before 7:30. The clinic opened at 8 and I was the first one at the desk (small victories), but even so I wasn't seen by a triage midwife until almost 10. She took my BP and went through my notes in the bit between the corridor and the waiting room because there were no rooms available - amazingly (given how pissed off I was with waiting), my BP was normal. Then I had to wait to see the doctor, convinced that I would have a parking ticket given that my parking expired at 10, but not wanting to leave to move the car and miss my place in line. DILEMMA.

The doc was really nice, we talked a bit about breech options and ECV pros and cons and she sent me for a growth and wellbeing scan to look at Pod and fluid etc. then saw me back in the clinic. My fluid level has almost doubled and Pod is growing just fine - she's bang on average - so we're booked in for an ECV on Monday. This will be at 36 weeks, they usually do them a bit later but Pod is already settling down into my pelvis getting ready to engage with her legs rather than her head. Originally we weren't thrilled with the idea of an ECV and the associated risks (tiny risk but big consequences), but they are successful 60% of the time. This goes down to 30% for me apparently because I'm a first time mother and my core is strong and tight. 30% is still better than nothing, and the foggy moxibustion and the pseudo-scientific chiropractic sessions haven't worked. If Pod doesn't turn, or if she flips right back to where she's been for the past couple of months, I'll see the same doctor again to discuss ALL of our options, not just a caesarean. Mission accomplished? I think so. If we have to have a c/s I feel that now it will at least be for a good reason, not purely due to lack of training, experience and confidence of the obstetrician prescribing it.

We're missing one of my oldest friend's weddings in Brisbane this weekend. Not awesome, but I really don't want to give birth hover there! Nor do I wish to sit on a plane for 5 hours and then drive for 2 (selfish?), and I really can't be bothered to fight with the doctor and the airline about flying more than 4 hours past 36 weeks. So I did as I was asked and recorded a super awkward (that wasn't part of the request) video to play during the speeches. 1 minute and 7 seconds proving why I will never be a YouTube star. You win some you lose some.

I'll probably put a tummy picture on here when I get home - I have ballooned somewhat. Wearing a pair of non-maternity pants today though (WIN). I'm up 10 kgs from the start and don't even want to think about how long it will take for my legs to get back to their pre-baby shapeliness :(. At least I'm not swollen (yet); my ankles may even look thinner than they used to purely because my legs have grown around them. AGAIN with the small victories.

Just cancelled my remaining appointments at the you-must-have-a-caesarean hospital. Feels good.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Yoga baby

Where were we?

Oh yes, IUGR, fluid, growth scan. We went for the scan and Pod is GROWING! Best news ever. She's measuring just fine, totally average, which is rad. So no IUGR at the moment (although I have to have another "growth and well-being" scan 10 days from now), and no major cause for concern. That was a stressful week - obviously I read the entire internet and all the papers I could find, trying to figure out where I went wrong and what the possible causes and outcomes could be, how we would cope if Pod was disabled physically or mentally or both. The internet didn't help with the last part, but HN1 and I talked about it which we hadn't done before, and decided we would all be just fine so long as Pod made it to the outside.

She is still facing the "wrong" way (seems alright to me, maybe she doesn't fancy hanging out upside down until her birthday), which means we have some other decisions to make. My fluid levels are right on the low end of what's considered NORMAL, which might mean it's harder for her to turn on her own and might make an ECV impossible. 

I think she likes being head up. Sometimes her legs are straight, bent at the hip with her feet by her face, sometimes her legs are down and she dances on my cervix and bladder, sometimes she lies across me. But her head is always above and to the right of my tummy button. She must like it there (unless her upper body is stuck, but we won't dwell on that).

Yesterday I had the follow up to the growth scan and saw a different obstetrician. It was an altogether disappointing appointment.

"Oh. I see you're planning a home birth" (looking appalled). "You do realise that home birth is not supported by the Royal Australian College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists?"
I tuned out for a while, wasn't up for a lecture ESPECIALLY since we made an informed choice after a lot of research and thinking, plus I shouldn't have to defend my choices at my back up hospital. Home birth is supported enough that there's a government programme and I'm part of it. I trust my midwives, and I trust my body.

She assumed we'd be going ahead with an ECV without discussing the risks or likelihood of it working (50%  at this hospital apparently, although I know for a fact it's less likely to work for first babies, when you have tight abs, when there is low fluid and when the baby has its feet dangling in the pelvis. So less than 50% for us given that I tick all those boxes, which she wouldn't tell me. I asked if we went ahead with an ECV and it was successful, would be be back to home birth provided the baby remains head down... She told me I should come to the hospital anyway in that case. Erm, why? Surely it becomes a "normal" delivery? I'll ask my midwife on Friday but I'm pretty sure the obstetrician's response had more to do with her personal feelings about home birth than anything else. So then I asked what happens if the ECV doesn't work, and our tiny baby decides upright is how she'd rather stay?

"Then you'd come in for a caesarean". 

Are you fucking kidding me??

"What if the baby is bottom first, as in the bottom is the presenting part"
"You should still come in for a caesarean - the results of the Term Breech Trial BLABLABLA"
(let's ignore the fact that the TBT was skewed and flawed and has been widely criticised for its methodology and conclusions)
"I'd rather go into labour naturally and try to deliver her breech if she's bottom first"
"Well, I SUPPOSE you could have a trial by labour, it would depend on the doctor"

AH, so there ARE options? Not just a caesarean? If I didn't know anything about the subject I would have nodded my head and signed up for a c/s then and there. How can they possibly think that it's OK to only offer one option when more exist? I'm pretty mad. I'm considering finding a private obstetrician who will agree to deliver a breech vaginally. But urgh. Just urgh. It used to be normal to deliver a breech vaginally, now it's a speciality because people listened to one trial that said c/s was a safer method of delivery than vaginal. 

The whole thing is making me tired. She couldn't even tell where Pod's head was without using ultrasound! I tried telling her exactly where it was, but why believe me? Surely better to do ANOTHER scan.

We have another growth scan in 2 weeks and an appointment with yet another consultant 2 days later. In the meantime, I'm going to keep standing on my head and I'll also give acupuncture a whirl. Not entirely sure how burning moxa sticks next to my little toes is going to help, but it can't hurt. Our hypnobirthing teacher is going to bring some extra info over tonight and go through some options with us. Fat waste of time and money that will be if they cut me open, but whatever. It's quite calming I suppose (plus HN1 is taking part which is super super cute).

It was our wedding anniversary at the weekend, he bought me a necklace with a heart pendant with the chemical structure for oxytocin (the love hormone) engraved on it. See? Super cute.