Monday, 7 April 2014

First after first

One of the greatest things about motherhood is the series of firsts we get to experience.

Some firsts are a little scary (the first night at home alone), some firsts are a little shocking (the first explosive poo), some firsts are ridiculously cute (the first time they get the hiccups), some are meaningful (the first time they look into your eyes and you know they know who you are) and some are just perfect... the first smile.

Now, it did take a while to distinguish between an actual smile and wind, but after a while, his eyes did the talking and we knew he was truly smiling at us... especially when his beautiful smile was met with a wee giggle... is there anything more amazing?

It's crazy how quickly time flies. Thinking back to "the early days" (which were only 8 weeks ago), it's unreal to think about the firsts that we not take for granted... the first time he fell asleep in my arms, the first time he cried a tear, the first bath.

Considering I am someone who has always sort of rushed through life, too excited about the next thing to truly appreciate the present... I am sort of surprised at how upset I am getting at how fast my little boy is developing.

He's now got an insatiable appetite, is incredibly long (even more noticeable as he was totally curled up for his first 3 weeks), his so alert and constantly smiles. 

We are a generation of photographs, videos and of course the Internet which provides the means for sharing every aspect of our lives. So much so, that it is almost impossible to live in the moment, I am sure that many people experienced their babies "firsts" through the lens of a camera or the glare of an iPhone. 

It's sad really.

Yes we get to document every second of every day, but I want to see and enjoy all these moments for what they are... before I know it he'll be all grown up and I'll be sat wondering where the time went.

Motherhood/parenthood really is so special. 

Let's not forget that.

Motherhood... the early days

Who would have thought that a new born baby would take up so much of my time?? 8 weeks into motherhood and thus far, I have only found time to write one blog post!! 

First things first, to all new mums out there... well done. This mothering lark is not as easy as it looks... don't get my wrong, it's wonderful, fulfilling, magical and so on but it ain't easy! Every second of my day is consumed with watching, worrying, thinking, timing, planning, playing, loving and generally being there for my little boy.

Being two months in, so clearly a pro (as if!!) I can now reflect on the chaos, panic and sheer amazement that is caring for a newborn baby. 

I read all the books in advance, purchased all the necessaries, spoke to a million people but it is true what they say... nothing can prepare you for motherhood, it is utterly unexplainable and the greatest thing that has ever happened to me.

*quick stop for a nappy change*

Below are a few home truths, the things that would have been useful to know in advance that I've picked up along the way... there will of course be more of this as time goes on and I learn more and more but for now, here are my top 4 learnings...

1. Midwifes.

 No offence to any midwifes out there, you are wonderful BUT talk about mixed advice! I didn't know if I was coming or going after each home visit. One would say one thing, one would say another and I ended up feeling utterly overwhelmed and a little lost. The greatest advice I received was from the hubs who basically told me that they are sharing their "advice"... "advice" not facts. Everyone has an opinion about how to raise babies, the truth of matter is, every baby is different and mothering instinct is worth a million pieces of advice. I have shocked myself at how well I know my little boy, and how strongly I believe that I know what's best for him. Advice is fab, as long as you remember it is advice not fact and it is your choice whether to take on or not. 

*quick stop for a cuddle*

2. Breastfeeding.

First things first. No one mentioned that the day "my milk came in" I'd be an insane emotional wreck. I mean, I was uncontrollable, crying (well weeping) and pretty much inconsolable. This lasted for about two days, and was the last thing I (or the hubs) needed with a 3 day old baby!!! Onto the big breastfeeding debate. I don't care what anyone says, breastfeeding isn't for everyone. My experience was hard, very hard. Harry and me struggled massively. We tried everything, lactation consultants, special chairs, pillows, nipple shields, the full shebang, I was desperate to do it, but it just wasn't working. He wasn't tongue tied, but he was early so purpose this was the reason why he just could not pick up the knack. This was hard, it was disappointing and it was frustrating. Thankfully I had milk, so against all the professionals advice (who said to keep trying) I decided to express and feed my son that way. Yes I had to top up with formula but my boy was finally happy, content, and gaining weight so for me it was the right thing. My belief is, do what is right for you...

Happy mummy = happy baby.

3. Sleep.

What can I say? It's bloody hard functioning on zero sleep. This is a fact. The positive spin is that I've found that we actually don't need THAT much sleep. A couple hours of unbroken sleep did and does me fine. Now, I am not the type who can nap during the day despite trying many many times. Just try not to let it get to you and try not to be like me... utterly neurotic. When Harry did finally get to sleep in the early days I'd stand obsessively over his Moses basket to ensure that he was breathing!!! These days things are much better, Harry is getting bigger so sleeping for longer meaning that now we only have to get up once in the night to feed him.

4. Visitors.

I can't say I wasn't warned about this in advance, because I was. But it's only when you're "in it" that you realise how exhausting & stressful it is having a house full of visitors. Perhaps my C Section meant that I found this particularly taxing? I don't know but it led to periods of tears and exhaustion on my part. I guess the trick is, keep it to one set of visitors per day and in the early days limit who comes round... it is easier said than done though. Of course immediate family takes precedence, but then you have close friends on both sides, cousins, uncles, "good friends" and so on. The one thing we did do which I found helpful was putting the task of negotiating visitors and timings totally on the hubs... he knew who was coming round when which at least took one thing off me. Just remember it's all about the baby and if you're running on zero sleep, trying desperately to breastfeeding whilst negotiating a room full of visitors you're bound to get a little stressed out, so just take it easy!!!

Time for a feed, but plenty more to come in the coming weeks on my 'experience of motherhood, the early days' so please stay tuned!

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

My Boy

What a difference a few weeks can make. 

The last blog post I wrote was on February 6th, a few days before I discovered that my little boy would be arriving very soon. Taking myself back to that time, I can't quite believe how quickly everything happened. Following an appointment with my midwife, followed by a consultation with my doctor, it was confirmed that due to difficult positioning and the size of the baby, my son would be born February 13th by C Section.

Yes, this wasn't my ideal situation. I'd thought for months about labour and in a way was really looking forward to it. At first hearing the news, I felt robbed of the whole thing and worried about how I'd relate to other mothers who had faced the drama, pain and sheer amazement of natural birth. 

That didn't last very long.

As you all know, I am a planner (well, a control freak) so knowing the date & time of my surgery took away a lot of the stress and anguish associated to childbirth. 

No few days in my life have ever felt quite as surreal as those leading up D Day. I found myself in a daze, cancelling all plans (the hubs and I decided not to tell anyone outside of our folks) as I just couldn't face lying to friends, buying unnecessary items, packing and re-packing my hospital bag (so many of the bits and bobs I'd purchased for labour suddenly became useless) and trying to get my head around the reality of the situation.

The morning of the op arrived, we arrived at hospital at 9.30am as I had to have some blood work done ahead of my surgery. The surgery was to take place at 12.30pm which meant that followed the 5 mins needed for the blood tests, we had a lot of time to kill. The hubs and I were pretty quiet for these few hours. I was riddled with fear, firstly for "Baby J" (weird to call him that now) and secondly for myself as I'd never undergone surgery of any nature before so understandably was a tad dubious.

At 12.20pm, the midwife arrived to take us down to the operating theatre. The hubs (armed with his iPhone & camera) was scrubbed up, I was in a hospital gown, covered by my own dressing gown and was wearing some slippers. 

The next 15 minutes or so were a little intense. people were milling about prepping, I was being injected whilst being "distracted" from the needle by a young nurse who made a rather silly error of telling me that her role was to distract me and the hubs was trying to get the playlist I'd prepared set up and playing.

A few minutes later, all the introductions had taken place, Coldplay, Paradise was playing, I was lying still on the operating table unable to feel my legs (that was a good thing) and the screen was in place. 

This is when the surgeon asked me if I was ready for him to start. "Yes" I uttered. "Ha, I started ages ago" he said. With that, he instructed the hubs to get the camera ready. Next thing I knew I felt a pushing sensation across my chest and seconds later I heard the most beautiful sound there is. 

My little boy's first cry.

And there he was, my angel. I have never ever felt that much emotion in all my life. The screen was lowered and I saw my boy entering the world. John Lennon's "Beautiful Boy" played as I saw my first glimpse. He looked so beautiful, so so beautiful. Tears poured down my face, I turned to look at the hubs who was wiping away the tears. 

Our boy was here, our little boy.

A heartbeat later, he was resting on my chest and I have never felt so content in my entire life.  The next 20 minutes or so disappeared as I sucked in every aspect of my darling boy. 

As I was lifted from the operating table to my bed to be whisked into recovery (with Harry & the hubs), I caught sight of the hubs holding his son for the first time. What a sight to behold. Those memories are so clear and so very special and always will be.

It didn't matter in the slightest that I had a C Section, all that mattered was that he was here and he was healthy.

The last two weeks and 6 days since the birth of my darling son have been the best, most exhausting, most scary and most wonderful days of my life and I will share all my experiences over the coming weeks.

For now, let me introduce my angel.

My Harry.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Antenatal Classes

If you would have asked me a few months ago (9 to be specific) what I imagined when I thought of antenatal classes, I'd of looked a little bemused and described a scene from some American rom com where an earth mother type lady takes a group of wacky women, and unsuspecting men through a series of outlandish breathing techniques designed to help ease the pain of labour.

Last night was my last antenatal class. The hubs and I have attended 6 classes in total each lasting two hours.

Was the experience as I'd previously imagined? Of course not.

Ahead of the first session, I was quite excited and the hubs, was not (to say the least). He was in fact dreading it and had to be convinced to go.

Upon arrival, we were greeted by our teacher, a room full of beanbags, seven fresh faced, pretty pregnant women and seven scared, pale looking men.

Let me start by introducing the teacher.

She is in her forties (I think but I never can tell) and has 3 children. Much to my surprise, she is completely down to earth, non preachy and has a wealth of invaluable easing knowledge that not only reassured me, but helped the hubs come to terms with the realities of the situation and feel prepared for labour as well as parenthood. To summarise. She couldn't have been less "earth mother" if she tried.

Onto the girls. I hoped that I'd make some new friends through the course as I've been told from more experienced friends that they made some incredible relationships throughout their own antenatal classes.

I've not just made friends, I feel like I've joined a support network! After one or two classes, a what's app group was formed and from that moment onwards, every ache, pain and sleepless night was shared with seven other women. I can't tell you how reassuring and calming it is to know that other people are going through the same thing as you at the same time and that someone cares! (I know this sounds stupid and of course my friends and family care about me but I just can't moan in the same way to them as I can to my antenatal girls... They don't understand in the same way)

I can only imagine that this support will grow as baby's start to arrive and our worry's, concerns and nerves ramp up a notch (joy!)

The men. Not only are they a lovely bunch but they all feel the same. Nervous, crazily excited and totally unprepared. Whilst it is the ladies who talk more and share more, it's interesting to watch the hubs (and all the other hubs) come to life as shared concerns and questions are voiced that otherwise would plaque their worried, nervous minds.

Last night, we all said our farewells. Whilst we will of course stay in touch, the course had come to an end and we are all nearing our own "D Days".

It was a very surreal, odd, nerve racking farewell which not only left me feeling excited but left me feeling so so nervous. It is all so real now, nowhere to hide!

What have I learned from the experience?

Outside of the practical advice (useful tips like, only have one visitor a day when the baby is born, only let people stay an hour maximum, stock up on tea and coffee, go to hospital as late as poss during labour to avoid brig sent home etc as well as breathing techniques and labour positions) I've learned the value of being part of a group of women all experiencing the same thing as me at the same time.

Whilst blogging and twitter is a fantastic way to talk to a huge network of people in a similar position to me, and speaking with friends who already have babies or children can be useful, nothing beats personal relationships with people who you can meet up with and talk to whenever you need to going through exactly the same thing as you.

The bottom line. If you or your partner is reluctant to join an antenatal/NCT class of any description, do it!!! You will (I hope) gain so much from it, as will your partner, I assure you.

It's the final countdown...

If you're a follower of BumpMoirs you may have noticed that my posts have slowed as of late. 

This is not because I've fallen out of love with writing in anyway, (I love it more than ever!!) it's merely due to the fact that as my life has slowed down (a combination of maternity leave & being heavily pregnant) less has been going on so I've had less to say. I didn't think you'd be particularly interested in my daily lunch choices or walking routes for my afternoon constitutional!

I wanted to avoid a ranty, miserable slightly self indulgent post about the struggles of last stage pregnancy so as to appear strong and to avoid worrying those of you out there nearing this stage.

Avoid I can no longer.

This sucks.

The culprits: Braxton Hicks, exhaustion and the general look and feel of a whale.

I knew at some point that pregnancy would get hard, and this last week has been solid proof of this. 

The Braxton Hicks don't hurt at all, they just assist with the insomnia. The exhaustion is down to baby movements and mind movements. I just can't seem to relax and nor can Baby J. I've tried a bunch of things to help... Meditation, audio hypnosis books, a hot bath, lavender oil etc etc etc. Nothing works.

Yes I'm on maternity leave which is fortunate. I'm shattered all day but have the luxury of my sofa and netflix. Both of which have become my best friends over the last 10 days.

I guess on one hand... I'm getting used to running on empty which will be useful very soon.

On the other, I worry that I'm not resting enough and should be for Baby J's and my sake.

I know I said in an earlier blog post hat I'd enjoy the last stages of pregnancy and not wish it away. A girl can change her mind right?? I'm fully ready for the arrival of Baby J, at least then my exhaustion will have a purpose and I'll get to cuddle that purpose whenever I like!!!

2w 5d to go... I REALLY hope he's like me and arrives early for everything!!!

Friday, 31 January 2014

Aches & pains

I knew it wasn't going to be all moonlight & roses. 

With less than 4 weeks to go, 3 weeks & 4 days to be precise. The joys of the last leg are really starting to set in. Everything so far, aside from a little acne, gas and weight gain has been rather easy really. As I read "what to expect when you're expecting" each week, I am always surprised by how few symptoms have effected me.

Physically, it has all been going quite well. Mentally, it is also going well... although since attending more and more antenatal classes, and reading more around labour, I am still to freak a little about the reality of what's to come.

This is, of course, all to be expected.

Wednesday evening, I suffered my first bout of pain and real worry (since those early days of pregnancy when I was constantly terrified that one shove too many on the tube would end this amazing journey for me). 

Around 10pm a sharp pain started on my left side. To be specific, the pain was in my lower abdomen just underneath the bump, only on the left side. These are the words I typed into Google over and over again. Nothing really came up, much to my surprise. A lot of people experienced aches and pains throughout pregnancy but most of them suffered it on their right side, not the left.

I am not going to over-exaggerate. I wasn't going crazy with worry as throughout the night (the pain stopped at 6am so it was an utterly sleepless, frustrating and at times desperate evening for me) Baby J was moving and hiccuping away. If he hasn't of been, it would have been a different story.

No matter what position I got into, how I arranged myself of my pillows, the pain would just not let up, It was constant, which before you ask is how I knew that I wasn't in labour!!!

The next morning at 6.30am I dropped the hubs at the station, I was so tired. I was so low. He told me to take him but 1. I was up anyway, and 2. it was raining. Also, the pain had stopped at this point, I was just feeling more tired than I've ever felt and concerned as to what the pain was.

At 7am my mum came round and we waited in pain, accompanied by daytime TV waiting for my midwife to pick up the phone, or return my messages.

Eventually she did, and she was sure I was fine but wanted to see me. After a thorough examination, she concluded that it was a trapped nerve. Apparently we have a lot of nerves in this area and this sort of pain is quite common at this stage of labour. I was very delighted to hear that it will most likely return soon, and keep coming back for the remaining of my pregnancy!!! 

I really don't mind being in pain. I am just relived to know what it is, and that the baby is ok. 

I suppose this is the start of real pregnancy. The month before you get your prize where your body is stretched beyond belief making it impossible to every get comfy and making random aches and pains a normal  part of daily life.

As I said at the start of this post, it can't all be moonlight & roses... you have to earn your prize don't you!!!! 

I can't say that I am looking forward to the next few weeks... I said in an earlier post that I am going to enjoy these next few weeks of pregnancy... I am starting to think that this comment may have been a little naive....


Sunday, 26 January 2014

My Baby Shower

After much planning (and baking) on my mothers part, and much assistance from me (I produced 4x banana breads, a cheesecake and enough brownies to feed a rather large army) the baby shower day finally arrived. 

A decent amount of deliberation and internet shopping had solved the issue of 'what to wear?' In all, five dresses were purchased and four were swiftly returned. It is hard to look good when you're pregnant as I am sure most of you know! Whilst I had my heart set on a gorgeous Isabella Oliver Talbot ivory maternity tunic and was so excited to unwrap the beautifully packaged item when it arrived last week, I am sorry to say that the cut just didn't suit me and so the dress had to be returned. Instead I decided to return to my old faithful, the brand whose dresses always fit me perfectly (despite being a little on the long side) 'Seraphine'. 

After Friday's midwife appointment I decided to make a little detour on my way back to the sticks popping to the store on Marylebone High Street. After hunting around in the sale items (I am due in 4 weeks so felt I had to!), I found a gorgeous navy shoulder lace maternity shift dress which with a little tugging in the right places (it is a little long for me so ruched the bottom up tad) fit perfectly. Finally I'd found a dress I was comfortable in, that was appropriate but most importantly, that hugged me in 'the right' places and showed off Baby J as well as possible.

Suited and booted I headed over to my parents house to help with the preparation. What I didn't expect upon arriving was that everything would be done, and done good!!! My mother and I are incredibly close and very similar in many ways, yes this can lead to ferocious arguments at times but it also means that when it comes to each other... we don't go halves. I mean, we don't ever do things by halves to be honest but we particularly go all out when it is for each other and yesterday was no exception.

My mother is an amazing baker and feeder. These combined attributes meant that there was enough food (sweet & savoury) to feed all the guests 10 fold with plenty to spare (my entire freezer is currently bursting with a variety of un-touched delicious leftovers ready to be defrosted and tucked into when guests start to arrive to meet Baby J.)

The images below should give you a wee taster of what I am talking about. Not only do we love to eat, but we love to celebrate and any opportunity is grasped by both hands by myself and my mother (Baby j is going to be one spoilt little boy!!)

The day really was just beautiful. Games were played, two to be specific. One organised by two of my best & oldest friends where a playlist was devised of "baby related' songs (e.g. baby love, bye bye baby etc). Guests had to identify and shout out the correct song & artist to win. Sadly my team lost... I blame the baby brain! The other game was organised by my sister-in-law and was very cute. A ball of string was passed around and everyone had to cut the string to the length that they guessed would fit perfectly around my bump. 

Never in my life did I imagine that I'd let a room full of people stare at my stomach (pre baby a very troublesome area for me!!) and measure it for fun!! I was pleased though that only one persons string didn't go around me, everyone else (including the hubs, who had arrived by this stage... he didn't want to miss out!!) had grossly over-estimated how big I was, which if I am honest made me very happy!! The winner of the game was the hubs auntie who was bang on, very impressive!

The only strange part of the day was seeing people off. There were around 35 guests so for the most part, I now won't see people until after the arrival of Baby J. Whilst this of course obvious, it is a strange reality. Next time I see a lot of my friends & family I will be a mum, the hubs will be a dad and we will be a proper family. Not only that but people will be grandparents, great-grandparents, great aunts, uncles, cousins and so on. For a lot of people the arrival of our son means a lot and now that the shower is over, I can't help but realise what the next big diary date is.

Yesterday was a very special day, and one I'll remember for a lifetime. Baby showers are perhaps a little indulgent, and "American" but if nothing else, they are a wonderful excuse to get your nearest and dearest together to eat a lot of cake,  for one last time before life changes in a big big way.