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.

8 months old!

Today our little Fenn is 8 months old.

It is really scary. It seems like only 8 weeks ago that she was suction pulled into our lives, not 8 months.

She is really losing her baby looks now and is looking more like a little toddler. Her hair has grown massively in the last few weeks and she is so strong! She can twist and writhe like a conga eel in your arms and if you dare to eat or drink anything within her reach, she will grab and yank, including hot tea! Luckily we have been scald free so far. She also loves pulling hair, especially mine.

Developmentally, she is sitting up like a boss, and rolling around really confidently. She first rolled back to front about 8 weeks ago but didn’t bother doing it again until 10 days ago. She can now get herself down to crawling position from sitting (not gracefully, but no longer a fall) and knows that she wants to move… but luckily can’t yet! She is still really strong when we stand her up and can support herself when holding on to something. Mentally you can see her mind whirring all the time, when taking things out of or putting things into her little yellow bucket, or watching your mouth as you make certain phonics. She is weighing in at around 18lbs or 8.2kgs.

No viable words yet, but a real increase in ‘vocabulary’. She did say “haggis” last week, but I think that was a lucky combination of sounds more than her first word!

She still has no toothy pegs, but very hard gums and the usual teething issues.

Weaning is going really well. She eats pretty much everything with gusto, except rice and spicy things. She will give anything a go and loves feeding herself and making a mess. She still breastfeeds in the morning, evening and overnight, but often goes to Mimi’s (nanny’s) house during the day and copes easily without me!

Sleeping is still a challenge. She gets into a routine of going down at 8pm, waking at 11 and 3 and up at 6ish. Then when you get used to that she starts teething, gets ill or we go away and it goes back to 7+ wake ups a night. It is exhausting. We are looking into hiring a sleep coach.

One improvement is that she now naps in her cot during the day. She only ever sleeps for exactly 30 mins, but it frees me up a tiny bit!

I have already ordered her 1st birthday cake and we are starting to think about a little party. Sob…

4 weeks old.

Today Fenn is 4 weeks and 1 day old.

She is a dream. Possibly the most laid back, relaxed baby in history. We couldn’t have asked for an easier introduction to parenthood.

She has grown so much in 4 weeks, it is scary. She was 6lbs at birth and is now roughly 8lbs! She had recovered her birth weight within 3 days and is now packing on the podge like a trooper. 

She is mostly storing the podge in her cheeks and double chin!

Her head has grown massively. You can see in the photos above how her hairline has moved back with the growth. I just measured her head and it is 2cm bigger than it was at birth. 

The scary thing is, she could still be inside now. I would be 12 days overdue, and most likely would have been induced this morning. I struggled to get a 6lb baby out… An 8lb baby with a 37cm head circumference would have resulted in a C section, I am sure.

*(I know that she wouldn’t have grown at quite the same rate as an escaped booby monster, but an eye watering thought just the same.)

A booby monster she certainly is. She feeds all the time and has gained the nickname ‘the human bilge pump’ in my house as she gulps and guzzles like she has never been fed before. A greedy little pig beast indeed! 

The night feeds are a mixed bag at the moment, although she is starting to settle for slightly longer. Usually we will feed and change her and get her down at about 10.30pm. On a good night she will wake up at about 1am and will be back down again after a feed, a nappy change and another top up feed at 2am ish. She will then wake again at 3.45ish and again at about 7.30am. A tough cluster feeding night will see me being woken approx 30mins after putting her back down, every time, all through the night. Zzzzzz…

As I am exclusively breast feeding, I have to wake to feed her every time, and If I am feeling lively, I will do all of the night feeds and nappy changes, allowing my OH to sleep through. However, most nights I find that I struggle to stay awake as she feeds and I really can’t risk falling asleep with her on me in bed, so once she has fed, I pass her to my OH after the 3am feed, to change her, settle her and put her back down whilst I go back to sleep. 

My OH goes back to work in a week and a half, so I am going to have to do all the night feeds so that he can function during the day. Nooooo! 

As for me, my stitches have finally stopped hurting and feel like they are healing nicely. I have very nearly stopped bleeding and I am feeling really well. I was back to my pre pregnancy weight within two and a half weeks, and I can’t wait until I can start exercising again after my 6 week check up! 

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. 

SHE’S HERE!

Fenn Ohope Collins decided that she had cooked enough, and made a surprise early appearance on Wednesday 14th September 2016. She was 37 weeks and 4 days brewed and weighed 6lbs exactly. 

I had a bit of a rough labour, so I want to write down my birth story before the details get forgotten. It will be good to have a record of it. It may be long…

I woke up just after midnight on Tuesday morning and thought I felt a bit wet. I reached down and when I moved, my waters came trickling out at quite a speed. I quickly got up (as quickly as a 37 weeks pregnant lady can get up having been sleeping on the sofa cushions on the floor due to hip ache!) and shuffled to the loo, trying (unsuccessfully) to catch the waters in my hands. I had to shout to my OH about 8 times to get him to wake up. I got to the loo and turned on the lights and it was like a scene from a horror film. My waters were bright red with blood and it was everywhere: a trail on the carpet, a pool on the bathroom floor, all over the door frames and lightswitches and all down my legs and feet. Scary, scary stuff.

We got out my notes and I asked my OH to phone the labour ward to let them know what had happened and that we were coming, but his hands were shaking so much, I had to do it. We were told to get straight in. 

We grabbed the hospital bags and car seat and got on our way. I was absolutely terrified due to the blood and not being able to feel her move, but I had to stay really calm to help my OH drive to the hospital as he was still quite shaky.

We arrived 20mins later and were told to sit and wait…

5 mins later my OH forcefully went to remind them that I had have a massive bleed. Jenny the midwife and Emily, her student arrived pretty quickly after that. I got on the bed and as they used a speculum to assess me, a new tidal wave of blood poured out all over the table and was dripping on the floor. They then hooked me up to a monitor, which displayed the babies heart rate and contractions. I sobbed when I saw her heartbeat on the monitor; I had been fearing the worst. I was then wheeled to the delivery suite. 

My birth plan was to have a waterbirth in the midwife lead low risk birthing unit, but that went out the window due to the blood. Suddenly I was high risk. 

Once in the delivery room, Jenny checked my dialation and I was 2cm but my uterus was still very thick. I was also having strong contractions, but I couldn’t feel them. I had a cannula fitted into my wrist just in case I had to be rushed to surgery. It was horrible not being able to bend my wrist for the next 24 hours. I was also told not to eat anything and only drink water, in case I needed a C section.

They allowed me to labour away, and I would be reviewed at 6am to see how I was doing. The midwives said that because I was contracting so strongly, and my pain threshold was so high, they hoped to deliver our baby before their shift finished at 7am. Brilliant! I walked about, bounced on the birthing ball and salsa wiggled my way through the next 4 hours.

At 6am I had only progressed to 2-3cm and effaced slightly, and at 10am was only 3-4cm, so they decided to hook me up to a hormone drip. The synthetic oxytocin would ramp up my contractions and get things moving. It certainly did, but only the strength and regularity of the contractions. They started to get quite powerful, and were coming at a rate of 4 in ten minutes, which is unsustainable, so they turned the drip down a little to reduce the regularity to 3 in 10 mins. 

Sexy! Mesh pants and pressure tights.

At 7am the shifts changed and I sadly said goodbye the Jenny and Emily, and met Kathryn, who would deliver my baby… Right? Surely we would be done by 7pm.

At 2pm I was checked again and was only 4-5cm. They decided to break the remainder of my waters (how could there be more!?) because they thought that the babies head was floating above and not grinding onto the cervix, hence the slow progress. Another tidal wave of bloody amniotic fluid! 

I laboured until 4pm without pain relief, just using breathing techniques and the birth ball, but by that point the pain was getting pretty bad and I decided to try some gas and air. It was gooooood!

The gas and air enabled me to get through the next 2 hours. I found that if I put my eye mask on, really wiggled my hips on the birth ball and took 12 to 16 deep breaths through each contraction, I could cope.  However, by 6pm I was struggling. The drip had been cranked back up and I was getting 4 to 5 contractions in 10 minutes, and often they wouldn’t drop off completely. It was like having one solid pulsing contraction for an hour or so.I knew that I still had enough energy left to push, but I was still only 5cm. By thus time I hadn’t eaten in about 23 hours, had been in labour for 17 hours and knew I would have nothing left if I carried on as I was, resulting in a C section. I did not want that at all. I asked for an epidural, to enable me to have a rest and save my energy for when I needed it most. I was lucky and it was organised within minutes and it was the best decision I have ever made. I always thought that I would be disappointed with myself if I ‘copped out’ and had an epidural, but I know that I gave everything I had. I’m OK with that. 

After the epidural…

Having the epidural inserted into my spine was really scary. They kept telling me to be really still, but I was contracting constantly! You try staying still when your uterus is having a party! My OH came around and knelt in front of me as we had been taught in NCT classes, and that really helped to steady me. The result was amazing!

The epidural didn’t work completely, as I was still getting pain at the base of my stomach on the left hand side, but it was still amazing. I was able to relax a bit, but I was given until 10pm to either fully dilate or it would be a c-section.

At 7pm the shifts changed again and Jenny and Emily came back! They could not believe that we were still going and had requested to be with us. I was so happy to see them! 

I fully dilated! At 10pm I was hoisted into stirrups and started pushing with everything I had. It was really hard to know if I was pushing in the right place as I couldn’t feel anything due to the epidural, but Jenny, Emily and my OH were a brilliant team. I pushed for 2 solid hours (it felt like 10 mins), but the baby was back to back and wasn’t turned to the correct angle. Her heart rate was also dropping during every contraction now. They needed to get the baby out soon, so the doctor came in and our baby was pulled out with a ventouse. The big, burly male doctor was pulling with all his might, and after 29 hours without food, 24 hours in labour, 2.5 hours pushing and an episiotomy, out came Fenn at 32 minutes past midnight!

She was silent when she came out and it was hideous watching them rubbing her and pumping air into her to try and revive her. She was wheeled off the Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) to have a cannula fitted, have swabs taken and be stabilised. My OH went with her but was in pieces. No father wants to see his baby in distress. My OH came back to me as I was being stitched back together and said they had kicked him out when the cannula was being fitted as he was in pieces. 

Because it was after 11pm, my OH wasn’t going to be allowed to stay with us once we went to the ward, which we were about to do at 3am. He had to walk away, seeing me exhsusted and bloody, and his baby girl in special care, having not even touched her. He said it was both the best and worst day of his life. 

After a supervised shower, I was reunited with tiny Fenn as we were wheeled to the ward. I had asked to pay for a private room, and that was another brilliant idea of ours. 

More on Fenn’s first few days in my next post.

Just after being reunited. I got to put her on my chest and hold her for the first time 3hrs after birth.

Huge cannula bandage!

37 weeks pregnant

Looking warm and shiny as I had just got out of the bath.

Today we are 37 weeks and one day pregnant. 

A quiet week in preggerland this week. I was absolutely knackered after the baby shower last week and it took me until Wednesday to feel back to normal again. A few days of watching films and crappy telly in bed was just what I needed!

On Wednesday I had my 36 week check with the midwife, and all is on track. The bump is growing to the chart and my BP and the baby’s heartbeat are fine. Next check up will be at 38 weeks.

In exciting news, the first two of our NCT group babies have arrived! The first came 3 days after her due date and the other came this morning, 16 days early! Eeeek! It is getting very real now! 

How pregnant: 37 weeks.

How feeling: Having a few mild cramps and quite a bit of back ache. I think that the baby has engaged further and so the pressure has increased. I’m having a lot of hot baths!

Any signs of labour? Not sure. The cramps and back ache could be a sign, or it could be wind! 🙂 UPDATE- they were early labour!


Any cravings: Ice water… And crunching the ice cubes is good!

Weight gain: Up 1 stone 8lbs from start weight. 10 stone exactly… Eeeek! Fatty boom boom. 

Waist measurement: 36.5″.

Bump measurement: 42″. 1.5 up on last week! 

Belly button: Outie. Still very lucky on the stretchmark front!

Looking forward to: The health visitor is coming to the house to introduce herself on Wednesday, so it will be nice to meet her. I had better tidy the house and hide the baby murdering equipment.