Extreme sleep deprivation or Baby torture.

Fenn doesn’t sleep. She is not a sleeper. This baby is not for napping…

I am writing this at 4.30am, during the 7th awake session Fenn has had tonight. I can see how sleep deprivation was used as a torture method. I would confess to anything in order to get just 3hrs straight sleep.

Fenn actually slept through the night for 7 hours at the age of 10 weeks old. “Yes!!” I thought, “this mothering stuff is easy!” then gradually as she got older, her sleeping got worse and worse. She would happily go all day without a nap if she could, and then sleep only 3-4 hours a night, split into 3 or 4 chunks.

I seriously have no idea how this baby is alive and functioning, let alone looking so cute and happy.

It seems as though all of my friends who have babies who either give formula or breastmilk from a bottle have babies who sleep through. Some of their crotchlings have been sleeping 8pm-8am since a few weeks old and when they try to sympathise and tell me “Little Bobby woke TWICE last night! I know how you feel.” I want to punch them in the throat. There are others who get it, others who are also breastfeeding with babies who won’t take a bottle, others with eyebags so big they drag on the floor. Some of their babies improved once on solid food, but not all and not Fenn. 

I am a human doormouse and before getting pregnant would happily sleep for 10 hours a night. Nearly 9 months of chronic sleep deprivation has left me in a very bad place, both physically and mentally. The exhaustion means that I can’t focus of things, I worry about driving, I only want to eat chocolate and carbs, I have barely enough energy to get through the day let anone excercise and I have zero tolerance to pretty much anything my OH does. I have no idea how we haven’t killed each other. But one of the worst things are the thoughts of hopelessness and uselessness, thoughts that I am a crap mumma and that Fenn would be better off without me… the scary thoughts that spring from that. 

The night before last was the straw that broke the camel’s back. We had both got to breaking point. Something had to change. We have tried almost everything to get her to sleep, different routines, foods, bedding, cot angles, dream sheep, white noise, dim light, stories, no stories, shooshing, you name it, but the crux of the problem is that Fenn has no idea how to get herself off to sleep. 

Time to go cold turkey on the cry it out.

I will keep a diary of the Cry it out process… stay tuned for updates.

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My body – 2 weeks post partum.

Today our little girl is two weeks old. 
My previous post was all about her: how she was after the birth, her treatment and how she is settling in at home. I thought I would also write a post about how I am feeling and what I have been through, both physically and mentally in the last 2 weeks. 

Be warned, I will not be holding anything back. Read no further if you are squeamish or would just rather not know!

The placenta…

Straight after Fenn was born, I was given an injection to help me give birth to the placenta. In my birth plan, I wanted a natural third stage (placental birth) but due to it becoming a high risk birth, that went out the window along with almost everything else on my birth plan. To be honest, I didn’t even notice the injection or the placenta being born due to the epidural. It must have been out within minutes though as I was being stitched up almost immediately. During the stitching, I asked to see the placenta. I couldn’t see that closely as I was on my back in stirrups, but the midwife wheeled it over and lifted it up to show me. It was really amazing. She said it was small, but it had worked perfectly. 

The mum tum…

Once we were back in the room and I had given Fenn some skin to skin time and breastfed her, I could have a poke at my deflated belly. It felt like pizzza dough inside someone else’s dry skin! However, I didn’t seem to mind because I had my girl. Luckily my uterus has been shrinking back down quickly, and my skin seems to have escaped without much damage! No stretch marks, and only a little bit of a baby belly at this point. 

Bleeding (lochia)…

Everyone bleeds after birth, but some for longer than others. For me it was like a heavy period flow, and I have nearly stopped bleeding now at 14 days PP. You also pass a few blood clots in the first day or two. My most impressive one was about the size of a golf ball! I had to hand it over to the midwife to check… Lucky her!  

Because I am breastfeeding, the hormones produced whilst lactating trigger the uterus to contract back down. This is great for getting your pre-pregnancy belly back, but it really makes you bleed and I occasionally get afterpains, which feel like mild contractions. These apparently get worse after a second baby.

Episiotomy stitches…

For those who don’t know, an episiotomy is a cut made through the skin and muscle of the perineum to enlarge the opening for the baby to come out. Apart from a C section, it was my absolute worst nightmare. However, Fenn needed to come out quickly as she was in distress, and at the time I didn’t care how that needed to happen. She was the most important thing.

Before the doctor started stitching, I could have sworn I heard someone say “We had to cut you three times.” WHAAAAT! Three times!! Luckily it was just me hearing things, and it was just the once. Once is enough.

The first day after birth was OK pain wise. I felt like I had been kicked in the foof, but not too bad. On day two though, the pain started. Oh my. Having had your perineum cut with a pair of scissors is about as painful as it sounds, and it is a real challenge to keep the wound dry when you are bleeding heavily from the birth. I have been having a bath and a shower every day. I mix 5 drops of lavender oil into some milk and add that to my bath water, and once or twice a day I sploosh the wound with some slightly salty water, either whilst on the loo or in the shower. 

After a few days, I gathered enough courage to have a feel downstairs. Sob…I mourn the loss of my pre baby lady bits! 

Once or twice over the last 2 weeks I felt a tight pulling sensation and had a bit of fresh blood. I wasn’t even doing anything exciting, just shuffling about! I could feel that the stitches had come open slightly at the surface, so I got the midwife to look at them at my check up on day 12. Yep, the skin stitches have ruptured but the muscle stitches are still in place. The skin should start to mesh back on its own, but I might need to have some further ‘work’ done. Great. 

It took until day 13 for me to start forgetting I had a massacred lady garden every time I stood, sat or moved. Garden peas and pain killers are a life saver… Make sure you have plenty of each if you are about to give birth!

The first poo…

I had read that the first poo after giving birth can often be as traumatic as the labour itself. I prepared myself with a big bag of prunes in my hospital bag. I started munching them as soon as possible after labour, and they were brilliant! Nothing solid and traumatic for 4 days! 

The baby blues…

These are very real! Two days after Fenn was born, I was a mess. A well meaning but blunt midwife told me I had to start feeding the baby more. I wanted to shout  “I AM TRYING! I AM DOING MY VERY BEST AND YOU MAKING ME FEEL LIKE SHIT RIGHT NOW ISN’T HELPING!” But instead I just sat on my bed and bawled my eyes out. I cried a few more times that day, mostly from feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. 

It is around day 2-3 when all of your happy pregnancy hormones start to vanish, and the endorphins from birth are leaving your system. They leave you an emotional wreck. 

I knew that I might feel weepy and overwhelmed; I was ready for that. What I wasn’t prepared for was the anxiety. On day three, as the day progressed I could feel my heart starting to race. It felt like it was in my throat. I then started to think about Fenn dying of SIDS, and combined with a leaflet my OH passed me about meningitis, I went into panic mode. I was sat wringing my hands with worry and I planned not to sleep that night. I was going to sit and watch her, just in case she started suffocating. It was completely irrational and I knew it, but it completely took over me for about two days. I would sob in the shower for ages, worried that I would always feel like that. I was OK during the day, but as night approached, I could feel my heart rising up my throat again.

The most important thing I did was tell my OH how I was feeling. It really helped to know that he knew. He understands irrational anxiety, so he helped me get through it with reassurance and a lot of oxytocin building hugs and contact. It lasted 2 days, but it was awful; I never want to feel like that again. 

Pregnancy progression…

Over the last nine months, we have taken a picture of my baby bump every week. I wanted to record how my body changed over time, and I have been able to compile the following photo:

I love that I will be able to show Fenn how she looked in the womb when she is older.

Post pregnancy body…

Weight at 37 weeks pregnant: 10stones 1lb

Weight 2 days after birth: 9stones 1lb

Fenn’s birth weight: 6lbs

Weight 2 weeks Post Partum: 8stones 12lbs

Waist measurement at 37 weeks: 36.5″

Waist measurement at 2 weeks PP: 29″

So there you go, a full run down of the fun that comes after delivering a baby via ventouse. Add to those delights the broken sleep and it is no wonder people struggle in the first few weeks. However, every ache and pain is absolutely worth it because we have Fenn. I just won’t be in a rush to do it again just yet! 

Baby Fenn – the 1st 10 days

My final bump photo with baby Fenn.

Today Fenn is 11 days old.

I can’t believe that we are nearly two weeks post partum already!

After the long and somewhat traumatic birth (see my previous post), Fenn was put onto my belly for 10 seconds while her cord was cut, and I managed to quickly stroke her head. She was then rushed straight to the Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) because she was struggling to breathe and had possibly inhaled the bloody amniotic fluid. They stabilised her and inserted the cannula so that they could start giving her antibiotics as a precaution. They took swabs from her nose and ears to grow as a culture to see if she had an infection. It would take 48 hours for the results, so we were in for a hospital stay of at least 2 days.
Once we were put into our little private room at 3am, we were left all alone. Me… alone with a baby! I immediately stripped and put Fenn onto my chest for skin to skin. She was so calm and quiet and it was wonderful.

Fenn in a milk coma on my belly. You can see the pin pricks from the blood tests on the back of her hand.

Fenn was born on the hottest day of the year (34 degrees in September) and it was so warm in the hospital that I kept worrying that she was too hot. I had no clue if she needed a blanket or not, long sleeves or no sleeves, fan on, fan off…aaargh! 
I hardly slept at all for the rest of the night as I was so worried about her. I struggled to get her to latch on because she was so weak from the birth, and when she did latch, she kept falling asleep on the boob after a few seconds. I asked the midwives for some help and they suggested expressing and syringe feeding her the extra, which I managed to do, 1ml by 1ml. Luckily my milk came in really quickly and really well.

My OH arrived back at 11am the next day and finally got to hold Fenn for the first time. He was a very happy Papa, in love with his tiny girl.

Whilst in hospital, we had to wheel her over to SCBU for her antibiotics every 12 hours. We took her together at lunch time, but I had to wheel her down on my own at midnight. Trying to navigate through the hospital on 1hr sleep with a tiny weak baby over the knobbliest flooring in the world wasn’t much fun. I did become an expert at  dodging the bumps after a while though.

Fenn was quite jaundice for a time whilst in hospital, hovering just below the treatment line. The best way to treat it is to breastfeed, so we really had to try and force as much milk into her as possible. At one point, she was so dehydrated that they couldn’t take any blood. It was so stressful knowing that your baby isn’t getting enough food or liquid, but doesn’t have enough energy to eat. It was a horrible catch 22 situation. We eventually worked out that if we woke her up every hour and a half, stripped her down and started to feed her, wiggling her the whole time and applying cold water on cotton wool to her back and legs to keep her awake, she would feed more. It sounds cruel, but she needed to eat. Combined with a top up with expressed milk, she started to get stronger. By Friday morning she was actually opening her eyes and crying! I have never been so glad to hear a baby cry. 

It took until Friday evening for the culture results to come back. The results showed a positive, but because the bacteria they found would have made her incredibly sick if she did that infection, and she wasn’t showing any signs, they decided that it was probably cross contamination. One more blood test for jaundice, which showed a small improvement and we got to go home! 

Fenn in her going home outfit. She might fit into it in a few months! 

Since coming home she has been a dream. She is the most laid back baby ever, making our lives really easy. She rarely cries as we feed her when she starts showing feeding signs, and when she does, the boob solves all problems immediately. This can obviously change at any moment, but long may it last! She was back up to her birth weight within 5 days, which is amazing considering she hardly ate for the first two days, and she is now officially a boob monster. 

The many faces of Fenn. 

I will do a post on how I am recovering post partum in a few days.