Tears with fears

Today, the Miracle is two weeks old and, I won’t lie, it’s been a challenging time. He was sleepy, and difficult to feed. I became engorged and, as the Miracle grew steadily more yellow, he made less effort to latch and refused to even try on my swollen, hot and excruciating mastitis-threatening side. When the midwife came, my temperature was starting to climb and, combined with my Day Three Blues which hit like a sledgehammer this time, I was feeling pretty ropey. A La Leche leader came to help me. These ladies are brilliant. The service is free, and she was here with her knitted boob within 15-minutes. The following day, things had improved. The Miracle was feeding better and the threatening mastitis was making a slow retreat.

But it didn’t last. By his seventh day, once again he was very lethargic and it was taking me over an hour to persuade him to latch. I’d bully him, stripping him off and tickling his toes all the time with tears running down my face. I called the midwife out again. By this time, not only could he have auditioned for a part in The Simpsons with his yellow tinge, but he did a weird wee that looked like a cross between lemon jelly and clarified butter. The midwife decided to call it in, and Neonatal asked us to go in with an overnight bag ‘Just in case’.

In actual fact, we needed a six night bag. Our little Miracle was poorly. He scored below the treatment line for jaundice, but two urine dips came back with a positive result for a UTI. We later learned that it was caused by E.Coli, but on that first night, we were warned of sepsis and an attempt at a lumbar puncture was made. The medics don’t like mums being in the room while they do the more invasive procedures, but my tears fell from a couple of doors away. The procedure failed, and the following day was unsuccessful again. By this point, the paediatricians were confident that his malady was down to the UTI and decided not to make a further attempt at a lumbar puncture.

With an NG tube in place, it was decided that I would try for half an hour every three hours to persuade him to feed normally. If he wouldn’t try, then he’d have my expressed milk through his tube. That first night was a cacophony of alarms going off to feed, to pump, for obs, for antibiotics… The soundtrack to the fear that our Miracle was properly poorly and the questions constantly running through my head: What if we hadn’t brought him in? Did this happen because of something I’d done or failed to do? I had a UTI in late pregnancy, did he somehow catch it? Eventually, a paediatrician told me to stop looking for reasons to feel guilty and that this was ‘one of those things’ and there was nothing I’d done or could’ve done to prevent it.

If he days spent in hospital were long, the lonely nights were even longer. It felt like years since I’d seen Big, Medium and Little when Lovely Husband brought them in two days after our admission. Little had grown exponentially. Medium was shy and Big was just pleased to go to the playroom on the children’s ward and see the nurse that looked after her when she was poorly. Escaping the stale air with a walk outside became a daily target, though finding time amongst the calls for obs, IV antibiotics and doctors’ reviews was a challenge. Meeting amazing but exhausted mums whose babies had been born too soon brought home how lucky I was. I guess the upside was that I could just sit and cuddle the Miracle and sniff his beautiful head. As he improved, I sat singing to him while he cooed in reply.

He has a journey ahead of him. Six to seven months of antibiotics, blood tests, consultant appointments, various scans… But the Miracle that we brought home two days ago is a different baby to the one that was admitted to special care last week. This baby is pink, alert, feeding well and determined to spend all of his time in my arms. Once again, I am truly thankful for the diligence of the medics, for the love and support from Lovely Husband and my mum and for the Miracle himself for fighting back.

We are home. We are six. There is so much love.

Tears with fears

The Miracle has landed

He’s here. My Miracle is in my arms. On Wednesday, I took my doubts into hospital and, on discussion with a very nice doctor, took their advice. They broke my waters at 3.25pm. At 8pm, I’d achieved a whopping 2cms. I sat harvesting colostrum, dragging on gas and air and watching the Masterchef final. Multitasking, even in labour. By the next examination, I was fully dilated and pushing with about three pages to go on the book I was reading. I really wanted to finish that book, but it had to wait.

It was a quick and easy labour, with just a little ventouse assistance at the very end, because the Miracle thought he was Superman and had his hand above his head. His heart rate started to dip a little, so he needed to hurry up. A second degree tear meant two-and-a-half hours of stitching, two midwives proficient in needlework and two attempts to put me back together, and I don’t mind admitting, it’s all a bit ouchy. The midwives have instructed me to rest and keep my feet up for a while.

Friends, he is beautiful. With Big’s pout, Medium’s chin and one of Little’s dimples in the middle of one perfect cheek, he’s simply delicious. There is so much you forget about the newborn days as your pixies grow. That amazing, intoxicating smell, the little mews and unique noises, the old man stretches with eyebrows pushed above their brows… I wish I could bottle it all. He’s perfect. I am so in love, it is overwhelming.

With every child, you fall in love with the ones you already have all over again. You arrive home from hospital in amazement that they seem to have trebled in size since you last saw them. The smiles on their faces when they see you are home and their baby brother has finally arrived are priceless. Big, a reserved and quiet little thing, likes to watch and observe for a while. As I closed my eyes for a desperately needed nap, I noticed her standing over the Miracle’s crib just looking. I watched her through my eyelashes, not saying a word, knowing this was something she needed to do. She went to get a book and read him a story. The first, I suspect, of many.

Medium wanted to hold him – just briefly. She did her ‘pleased’ face – a half smile with closed eyes, but it’s Little that has surprised us. She’s always been possessive of me, insisting on sitting between me and whichever sister was on my lap. In the later stages of my pregnancy with the Miracle, she’d happily sit on the top of my bump if it meant she was closest. If I held another child at a toddler group, she’d be over like a shot in floods of tears. I had visions of her sobbing as I breastfed the Miracle. Instead, she kissed him and has been loving and interested.

I strongly feel their need for my presence, though. I am following midwives’ orders and resting. In fact, I’m being uncharacteristically obedient. That might only be because moving really does hurt and triggers sets of explosive afterpains. But they visit, a little shyly at times. Medium climbed into bed with me this afternoon and just wanted to be there. We talked, gently, and I read her a story. Big wanted to read to me and to look at her brother. Little has appeared in a nappy and her wellies numerous times, inexplicably clutching a carrot. Despite exhaustion and the typical desire to guard my bruised and swollen body, I welcome them, cuddle them, kiss them and love them.

And like Jack’s ever-growing beanstalk, the love that the Miracle brings grows yet more. I should have remembered how the depth of my feelings for Lovely Husband grows deeper with each child. I’d forgotten. He was a rock during labour. So strong and so supportive, physically and emotionally. And then there he was, cradling the Miracle – so tiny in those huge hands – while I was put back together. And here is now, juggling the pixies, who are demanding and testing him, as they try to understand their place and the changes in their family; trying to manage the house; trying to make sure I can rest and recover, build a milk supply and ensure our son starts life with the love and security he felt inside me; trying to overcome his own tiredness and need to process the birth and the responsibility of another child; trying to cope. I watch him and I see him, this amazing man of mine, and I love him too.

Like I said, there is just so much love. Welcome to the world, Miracle. And thank you for all the love that you bring.


The Miracle has landed

Tears and tantrums (mine)

I can’t work out if I’d just forgotten the hormonal rollercoaster of late pregnancy, or if it simply didn’t happen with the pixies. Everything about the Miracle has been different; his gender, the fact that he was a natural conception and consequently I didn’t have four months of synthetic hormones to start with, the way I’m carrying him, the fact that I already have three children of five and under to run around after… The list goes on.

I am five days away from Rubber Gloves Day. I’m spending a lot of time in tears. In tears over trying desperately to collect non-existent and reluctant colostrum. A soul destroying process that’s time consuming and sore. Trying to catch whatever tiny drips I can create in a syringe before a small child grabs the syringe and runs off with it, or demands a drink or takes their nappy off to show me the contents. Generally, the midwives are unsympathetic and suggest treating it as if I was feeding the baby. There’s a fundamental difference: the baby will be latched and catching the milk. Small children cannot grab the baby and run off. And of course, the baby will be the best stimulant anyway!

I’ve been very tearful over Rubber Gloves Day being brought forward to 38 weeks from 39, and I’m not sure I understand why. I had a very tearful conversation (tears are a common theme at the moment!) with a particularly lovely midwife a couple of days ago about this. I just have this niggling gut feeling that I won’t be ready. I know the Miracle is term. I know he’ll be ready. But if I’m not, there’s a higher risk of tearing and of the induction resulting in a c-section, something I am desperate to avoid.

Big was induced at exactly at 38 weeks and the experience was horrendous. I know that much of that was due to hospital mistakes, which, as a first time mum, I was not equipped to cope with emotionally, practically or mentally. Much of that has changed, as has the hospital that we’re booked into, so the chances of a similar experience are low. Nevertheless, there is definitely an association there that’s adding to the maelstrom of emotions.

A c-section also means some sort of ‘help’, something I am very resistant to. I know there are fabulous nannies and mother’s helps out there, and I’m sure they’re worth their weight in gold to their families. For me, it’s not something I would find easy. I simply do not want to have someone in the house when I’m recovering from pregnancy and birth, trying to teach my newborn Miracle to feed, establishing a milk supply and helping the pixies cope with our new family dynamic. However helpful the extra pair of hands may be in practical matters, I’m quite a private person that loves my family bubble. I would really struggle with anyone piercing that. Put simply: I just don’t want someone hanging around.

With any kind of birth, there are risks that need to be weighed up. With my history of postpartum haemorrhage, Lovely Husband doesn’t want us to delay the Miracle’s arrival. His concern is that the bigger he gets, the more dangerous it becomes for me. I understand that, though I think I’m more likely to tear and have problems if I’m induced too soon and my body isn’t ready to do it. I totally get it: all the time he’s enjoying his deluxe VIP suite in my body, he’s growing bigger and bigger. He’s already over the 95th centile, so waiting too long means delivery could be difficult and, again, it could end in a c-section. Difficult scales to balance.

I’ve agreed to go in on the booked Rubber Gloves Day in any case. The midwife will do an examination and see how ‘favourable’ I am. If it looks like it’ll be easy, they’ll go ahead. If not, they’ll treat me to a sweep and send me home for a day or so. I think I feel better with this plan, but still the tears roll.

Many of them have no reason. Seeing videos of a young Marti Pellow and realising how much I miss my best friend in Australia sets me off. A Dogs’ Trust advert with lots of pleading faced hounds reduces me to a puddle. Big telling me she likes it best when ‘just Mummy’ comes to pick her up from school. Medium cutting Gransy spoily time short because she just wants to see me. Little picking a daisy and proudly presenting it to me. Realising the building work over the road is disturbing the magpie nest and they probably have babies they’re trying to protect. My feet being cold because they’re in flip flops as I can’t do up my shoelaces anymore. The house being untidier than normal. The overwhelming realisation that this pregnancy is hurtling towards its conclusion and all the worries that come with that. Everything and anything sets me off.

I’m having acupuncture, which has levelled out my mood a little. I’m a big believer in the power of the needles and my acupuncturist will do an acupuncture induction the night before Rubber Gloves Day. Let’s hope the Miracle decides to arrive before the rubber gloves get their moment of glory and I get my sanity back. For a brief spell, anyway.

Thanks for listening, friends. You’re good sounding boards. I feel a bit better now.

Tears and tantrums (mine)