Wednesday 31 December 2008

17 Weeks, 1 Day

Callum will be 4 months old in 2 days time. He already looks like a proper little boy to me :o)

We had a lovely Christmas. Callum got lots of presents.  It didn't start too well though. We were driving down to my parents on Christmas morning, trying to get there in time for smoked salmon, scrambled egg and champagne breakfast. Unfortunately, after about 30 miles, Stuart saw smoke coming out the back of our car. We pulled into the service station and saw that we had a big oil leak! We had to call AA out. Thankfully, they came super quick after telling them we had a hungry 4 month old in the car. He towed us to our garage and then we spent the rest of Christmas morning waiting for my dad to come and pick us up. This didn't dampen our Christmas spirit though, as we sang along to "Simply...having...a wonderful Christmas time!". We got to my mum and dad's too late for breakfast but quickly got onto the champagne and opening our presents. We all got spoilt.

I was determined, while there, to try to stick to Callum's routine as much as possible. It worked really well on the first day and night. He went down to bed after bath around 7pm and we dreamfed him at 11pm and he slept until about 4am. He was staying in mum and dad's room and mum did the 4am feed :o). Then we heard him wake up about 7.15am so we brought him down to us so we could get him up and mum and dad could have a lie in. The next day didn't go quite to plan. We went for a walk along the sea-front and Callum fell asleep in the car about 11am. He woke up when we put him in the pram and then fell asleep about 12.30pm. He then didn't wake again until 3.30pm. Normally, we would be grateful he had such a great sleep but this was too much. He then was tired about 5pm and I was really trying to keep him awake until his bath but he fell asleep in mum's arms and then he took a while to go down after his bath. Crying loads and got himself in quite a state. He did eventually go down though after about 45 minutes. He didn't last until 11pm for his dreamfeed, he woke up about 10.15pm. Mum was going to bed and Stuart was worried about feeding him and settling him when mum was trying to sleep so we brought the travel cot downstairs so we could see to him. Because that meant bringing Callum down where the TV was on and lights were on, it took us ages to get him back down to sleep.  His sleep was then messed up again the next day when travelling back home as he slept in the car. He hasn't really been the same since. 

Stuart and I have been trying hard to get him back into his routine but don't seem to be having much luck. He used to get up at 8am, have a nap at 10ish for around 45 minutes then he would go to sleep around 12 when he needed a two hour sleep. He then would go to sleep about 4pm for another 45 minutes and then I would bath him about 6.30pm and put him to bed. Now he wakes at around 7.15am and it has thrown us out for when he should have his next nap. We have been looking for the first signs of tiredness, the first yawn etc. but I think we might be putting him down too early as he then throws a huge tantrum and screams and screams and is inconsolable, even if you pick him up to comfort him. It could just be because it could be either Stuart or I putting him down and, even though we try to do exactly the same thing, we can't rule out inconsistencies. But to be honest, he should be able to go down to sleep regardless of who puts him to bed. Also,  because he is now waking earlier, he gets tired earlier in the evening which results in bringing his bath forward earlier and earlier. It could also just be a 4 month blip. It appears that they have a blip at every month, according to the forum I'm a member of!

God, this being a parent lark is difficult!!!!! Where is the manual, that's what I want to know? The mark 1 Callum, 4 months old! If you have one, send it this way :o)

Monday 22 December 2008

15 weeks, 6 days

Merry Christmas everyone!

I'm starting to get excited about Christmas now - and am really looking forward to spending it at my parents this year - not done that for about 4/5 years :o).

I have started a couple of traditions already with Callum, even if he isn't aware of what is going on. They are as follows:

  1. Continuing my mum's tradition, I have bought him a new babygrow to wear Christmas eve. Obviously, my mum didn't buy as a babygrow every year - might've looked a bit weird, a teenager in a babygrow!!! The tradition is a new pair of pyjamas but as Callum is still wearing babygrows, that is his pyjamas. 
  2. Every year, he will create a decoration for the Christmas tree. This year, I painted his feet and pressed them on card to make them look like holly and I painted my finger red to make the berries (he still wont uncurl his hand to do them himself!). I then cut it out to make the holly shape and have hung it on the tree.
  3. I'm thinking of continuing on another tradition of my mum's of taking a picture of Callum in front of the Christmas tree (and any other children I might decide to have in the future :-o). My mum did Christmas eve and Christmas morning but I might just choose the morning! 
A few more might develop over the year too but these are the only ones worth doing now. We haven't bothered to do a stocking for him this year as he wont appreciate it....and to be honest, we can do with saving the money. We have bought him presents but they are just things we were getting him anyway and have just wrapped them up as presents. I'll ask my mum to open them though as she wont know what he has. Seems pointless wrapping them up otherwise.

We are still battling with Callum at feed times but now we are feeding him more often - every 3 hours instead of 4 - I am worrying less that he isn't taking as much milk. I do re-offer it to him after he has burped but if he continues to throw a fit, I give in. As long as he has done around 4oz or more. It does get really stressful though when he gets really worked up and tries everything to get away from the bottle. Don't think the Gaviscon is doing much now. Distracting him with a toy does sometimes help but you really need someone else to wave the toy as it doesn't work if the person feeding does it.

Still going well with putting him down awake. I put him down, put his blanket on him,
 put his dummy in while stroking a muslin against his face and then put his lightshow/lullaby thing on. I really didn't want him to have a muslin as a comforter/soother but it is the only thing that works.  He can be crying and not looking in the slightest bit tired, then I put that next to his face and he likes to grip it in his hands too and as soon as it is there, his eyes droop! The only worry is, I worry he will suffocate himself with it as he likes to cover his mouth and nose with it. I try and position it though so he can't do that, or if he does, he can easily turn his head to breath again. Quite frightening though. 

Our only problem at the moment is that he only sleeps for 45 minutes over lunchtime when he needs about 2 hours. Babys have a sleep cycle of approximately 45 minutes and often wake up or come near to waking after that time but they should be able to then drop back into deep sleep after about 15 minutes of light sleep. However, Callum can't do this. I do try to go in and do the same thing as what gets him to sleep in the first place but he just can't get back off to sleep. You can see he needs to as his eyes are really droopy but he just tosses and turns. If 
I get him up though, he just whinges and cries the whole time until his next sleep. It is very draining. He can do longer as he has done a few times but it is the exception rather than the rule! One step at a time though I guess. We do need to get a blackout blind. Perhaps that will be all he needs!

We have finally got our evenings back too. I was making sure that once he had gone down to sleep at bedtime, he didn't come out of his nursery again until morning. After only two evenings he stayed asleep longer than an hour and has remained asleep until 10pm or, if longer, we have given him a dreamfeed about 11 before we go to bed. Am trying to bring this forward though. Tried 10pm last night but think that was too early as he woke up at about 12.45am. So, I'm going to try 10.30pm tonight. He fed at that time the night before last and slept until 3.30-4am. 

The next post will probably be in the new year so:

Have a great Christmas and New Year everyone. I hope you all have prosperous 2009s (despite the recession!).

Thursday 18 December 2008

15 weeks, 2 days

OK, I've given up on the weight until new year!

Callum is coming on leaps and bounds, as they say. He weighed 12lb 12oz 2 days ago and measured 51cm in length. This was the first time his length was measured and he is bang on average - taking after his parents as Mr and Mrs Average ;o)

We have been having a few issues with his feeding though. A few weeks ago, he started drinking a couple of ounces then breaking for wind and then would scream and cry if the bottle went near him again. We thought he was getting frustrated because he needed to go up to the next level teat. Therefore, we kept persevering with feeding him, rocking him and trying him with it again and again until he drunk 5.5 ounces plus. However, this has been getting worse and worse. We finally managed to change the teats after a couple of weeks (we couldn't get hold of them) and when we changed them it didn't make the blindest bit of difference. I raised it with the Health Visitor and she thought it might be acid reflux and prescribed us Infant Gaviscon. Not really sure if it is helping yet. He still stops after a couple of ounces and screams and cries when you try to get him to feed again but if you get him to take the bottle again, he continues with relative ease. It does get really distressing as I feel like I'm force-feeding him a bit and I'm not sure if he is in lots of pain. I think the dose of the Gaviscon is lower than he needs though. I need to check with the Health Visitor.

He has started to try to roll. The other day he was pushing his leg back to try to push himself over. Then today he was swing both legs in the air. Not sure what he'd do though if he did get himself over as he hates being on his front still. 

Also, this week, he has started to laugh. It is really lovely and very cute. 

I am trying to get Callum to go to sleep in his cot without the need to rock him to sleep every time. It takes some work but I think it is working and it will be worth it. 

He really enjoys his bath time now. He has started to kick and splash about and smiles and coos all the way through.

I seem to be a lot more relaxed and less emotional recently. Scared to say that as when I've thought this before, it is usually followed by a stressful and emotional breakdown. Fingers crossed those days are mostly gone now though.

Friday 28 November 2008

12 Weeks, 3 Days old

I daren't put my weight as it fluctuates by about 4lb from week to week. 

Well, I don't want to speak too soon and put a jinx on it but I think we may be turning a corner! I am enjoying the second cup of hot tea that I have made today by 4pm. I'm normally lucky to be able to make one and then its normally cold by the time I get to drink it, unless I meet a friend or two or Stuart makes them for me in the evening.

The reason for my new remarkable ability...Callum is sleeping! Not in my arms, nor on the sofa, nor his bouncey chair but actually in his cot (well his moses basket in his cot!). 

This improvement seems to have started on Wednesday. I had a physio appointment so Stuart worked from home. I'm starting to get to know Callum's sleepy times of when he 'wants/needs to sleep'. The first time is about 2 hours after he has gotten up in the morning. So, about this time, I was getting him off to sleep in my arms in the hope he would be asleep when I left for my appointment. Unfortunately, as I expected, as soon as I put him down (on the sofa), he woke up. When he sleeps at this point, it is never a deep sleep but more of a cat-nap, so this didn't surprise me. 

Apparently, he was awake (and crying) for pretty much the whole 1.5 hours that I was out and fell asleep just as I put my key in the door. Timing wise, again, this was about normal (apart from the crying, he can normally be kept happy if entertained but Stuart was working so was limited in how much he could entertain him). He then slept for 45 minutes and then started to stir. Rather than pick him up and continue with the day, I decided to just comfort him and see if he would go back off to sleep. He did! For another 45 minutes to 1 hour. That night he then didn't go down until 11.45pm unfortunately, but he did go 5.5 hours between feeds. After his first feed around 3.30, he woke up a couple of hours later and, again rather than just get his milk or trying the dummy for ages, I picked him up and comforted him and then put him back down. He slept until I woke him at 8am! Yay!

So, yesterday, he had a mini snooze again in the morning, then at 12noon, instead of cuddling him while he was sleeping or putting him on the sofa, I decided to try to put him down in his nursery. He went straight down and slept for 2 hours when I had to wake him up to go for his jabs. He didn't wake up very happy which makes me think he could have gone for longer. 

He had another mini snooze around 3.30pm while I was meeting with NCT girls and then he went to sleep at just gone 8pm in Stuart's arms so I suggested we try to put him in his nursery. He slept there until Stuart went to feed him (and change him) at 10.30pm and then he slept through to 3.30am. He woke up a couple of times a bit earlier than he should after that but after I comforted him and put him down the second time at 4.30, he slept until 8am again.  This means he only had one feed during the night!!!! Yay again! 

Today, he had his usual mini-snooze mid-morning. Then he fell asleep after his bottle just before 12noon, so I put him down in his cot, and he stayed asleep for 1.5 hours. However, he did wake up grumpy so I do think he needs longer. He pretty much stayed grumpy until his next feed at 2.50pm and again fell asleep after, so I put him down upstairs again. Which is where he is now - about an hour later. Will leave him a little longer as he didn't get enough sleep earlier but if he doesn't wake up himself, I might need to wake him up to make sure he goes to sleep again on time later.

Fingers crossed, his sleeping will begin to improve. Next week, I will try to get him to sleep in his cot I think, rather than his moses basket. Then, if that works, I will start trying to put him down while he is tired but still awake. One step at a time though and I'm still enjoying this big step forward. I so hope it stays this way.

I am also noticing more interest and interaction in his toys by the day. He has started to exercise his legs more too and I don't think it will be long before he is grabbing his feet. 

Another step forward, I put him on his tummy today (with a rolled up blanket under his arms) for a bit of tummy time. I thought I might be doing it too late in his play time and he might have been too tired but, he stayed happy and smiley for a little while and it was evident that his arms and neck are getting stronger and he was definitely a lot higher off the ground for longer too.

As for his jabs, wasn't as easy as last time. He was awake for them this time and gave big yells and cries for both of them. I nearly welled up myself, it was heartbreaking. He then stayed grizzly all the time I was in the pub (saying I'm in the pub sounds really bad but it is a really nice pub/hote) until I eventually gave him some calpol. He soon chirped up again but not for long because then he was bored and cried again until I decided it was time to leave. When we got home though, he was more than happy to play under his play gym for quite a while. 

As for me, I've started Pilates. It is very gentle but I notice it the next day. I think it is all the holding my stomach and pelvic floor in that I can feel. Good to be doing something though. I still need to do some cardio too. I am hoping to join one of the NCT girls at an aerobic class at the Leisure Centre where you can take your babes with you. She said it is quite challenging (although not too much) so may be just what I need. Will only go every other week though as I don't think I could afford to go every week. Then may be I could try to run the following week at the weekend...we shall see. At least I have good intentions...

Monday 17 November 2008

10 Weeks, 6 days

Well the emotional roller-coaster continues. I have my up days and then once or twice a week I have a mini breakdown - when Stuart comes to the rescue. I'm really thankful and appreciate the patience he has developed when dealing with me on these breakdowns. 

Callum is getting really interactive now. He is starting to show an interest in toys and his play gym, though he still isn't at the stage of grabbing things. He is also trying to talk which is lovely - although he can only say "Agoo". Stuart thinks he was saying "Hello" the other day. He is smiling lots and sort of laughing too, mainly at his mobile when he is in his cot. This is a life saver sometimes as it often allows me to shower if I haven't managed before he wakes up.

We are finally able to stretch feeding to every 3-4 hours now and he therefore usually eats 4-5 oz which is really making a difference to night times. I really think he was snacking before. I'm also not assuming he is hungry when he cries in the night and will first try comforting/burping/dummy before getting his milk.

However, had another bad night last night. It started off really well. He went down at 7.30pm in his room instead of downstairs and slept right through until I dream fed (feeding them when they are still asleep - before they wake up for food naturally - to encourage babes to sleep longer through night) him at 10.10pm. Unfortunately the dream feed didn't really work as he woke up at 1am. I was hoping he would make it to at least 2am. He then woke up at 3am but took his dummy but then he was wide awake. I changed his nappy which woke him up more and he was smiling and laughing at me. I rocked him to sleep and finally got back to bed at 4.30am but was up 10 mins later putting his dummy back in. Then it was 5am and feed time again. I got back in to bed at 5.45am but was called out of bed again shortly after for his dummy. By this time I was very cold and tired. I had just warmed up in bed when he cried again. I really didn't want to get out of bed again and let him cry for a bit in the hope he would go back to sleep on his own. Then Stuart woke up and said I should bring him into our bed. I was just going off to sleep again and was beginning to dream when the alarm went off for Stuart to get up at 6.45am. I really want to start getting up at 7am but I am so tired, I can't do it and have to go back to sleep again. I usually end up getting up at 8.3-9am instead.

I am confident the nights are getting better and we are making progress but these bad nights leave me exhausted.

On another note, I'm starting a pilatés course tomorrow which I'm really looking forward to. It will be good to do some exercise. 

Wednesday 5 November 2008

9 weeks, 1 day old

13lb to loose

Decided to measure my fight to return to my pre-preggers body in weight rather than inches. 

Finding life exhausting this week! Callum has happy awake time in the morning but then seems to spend much of the rest of the day fighting sleep and feeds. He occasionally smiles but then will cry for apparently no reason seconds later. I spend my time running around at full speed cleaning and sterilising bottles and starting chores then sat on the couch attempting to feed Callum, trying to comfort him or with him sleeping on me, getting depressed and frustrated that I can't get anything done/finished and everywhere looks a mess all the time. I want to get on the Wii Fit too but that is just a distant dream (if that is the right word) at the moment!

"How do I get the time to write this?" I hear you ask. I am typing it with my left hand while Callum squirms on my lap while I jig! 

"Why don't I put him down while he is sleeping?" I do when able but he often just wakes straight up which starts the crying cycle off again. 

He has just tried to chew and suck my finger off despite not being hungry!!!!

Anyway, to top it all off, I started my period last night so straight back to being a baby making machine! Two days after my final breastfeed. (BF'ing prolongs the return of your menstrual cycle apparently).

Roll on Friday when I get to go out on a girly night! 

Moan over!

Friday 31 October 2008

8 weeks, 3 days old

Size: 97cm waist; 26 pelvic bone to bra

I don't actually think I'm shrinking :o(. I think what is left has turned to fat! (or always was fat). Have been trying to eat better these last two weeks but not doing too well. Keep getting tempted by the odd bottle of wine. Plus I don't like to diet at weekends so the curry we had on Friday (yes Fridays are the weekend!) didn't help matters. What is difficult is what to snack on during the day. I seem to remember this was a problem when I was pregnant so some things never change. Anything that is good for you is boring! When are they going to invent guilt-free chocolate - that tastes good. I guess Malteasers is the closest thing...perhaps not the big bags though!

Anyway, Callum! He is still gorgeous! He had his first jabs yesterday, poor thing. He was a really good boy as they must really hurt. He grizzled a little for the first one and then the nurse said the second one stings more. He gave out a cry with the second one but within about 10 seconds, he had stopped crying and was asleep again (he was asleep when we went in there). He then spent all afternoon asleep until about 7.30pm when he just looked soooo sorry for himself and would occasionally let out a little whimper. I spent the evening cuddling him - how could I not when he looked so sad? He took a while to go down but had a goodish sleep to start with (12.30-2.30). He then woke up at 3.30am and wouldn't settle back down. I ended up sleeping on the glider chair in his room with him asleep in my arms. I woke up at what I thought was 4.30 (must have dreamt it was as I am sure I remember looking at a clock but there isn't one in his room and when I went back to bed it was nearly 6am), I fed him and he finally went back to sleep in his cot. I went back to bed depressed that Stuart would be getting up to work in 45 minutes and that I would have to get up shortly after as I had to take Lotte to the vet today. 

What a mean mum I am - I had to take Callum for his jabs one day and then Lotte to be wormed and micro-chipped the next. I did ask that they chipped Callum too but they just laughed at me. I don't think they were taking me seriously!

Got Callum weighed on Tuesday - he is now 10lb 1oz (4.64kg).

I've now been to two post-natal groups. It is fairly interesting/useful and the people there seem nice but I can't see myself making friends with any of them. The health visitors talk for a bit at the beginning covering various subjects from sleep routines to play and then we get time to mingle afterwards.

We still haven't progressed much in terms of Callum pooing. He still struggles and when he does go it is still dark green but it is starting to get more regular again. It seems he is not alone in this as I've been hearing other mums complaining of the same thing so I guess it is something that most babies (if not all) must go through and we just have to wait it out.

Thursday 23 October 2008

7 weeks, 2 days old - Sleep Routines

Don't get your hopes up, there is still no real routiCheck Spellingne. However, have learnt a big lessons over the past week. I went from being 'fairly' relaxed about this to being neurotic and really stressed out - all because I made the fatal mistake of listening to an 'expert'!

Most of the time, we've been ok with Callum's sleep patterns (or non-patterns) throughout the day and night but in the evening, he tended to be awake for 4 hours straight. Typically, this will be right when we are eating dinner so one of us would be speed eating while the other would get a cold dinner. For the last couple of hours, you could tell that Callum was over-tired and would then really fight sleep. Often, he wouldn't go to sleep properly until 10-10.30pm when we went to sleep, though he did go down fairly easily.

So, I went to the babyshow at the weekend and there was an 'expert' talking about sleep routines etc. She said that newborns should only be awake for 45 minutes at a time - just enough time to eat, nappy change and back to sleep again and we should do everything possible to get them to sleep whether it was rocking baby to sleep or when things were getting more desperate, a drive round the block. At this age, babies don't have sleep association (they don't have this until about 4 months) so none of the above would cause you a problem going forward.

At question time, I said that Callum was 7 weeks old and was awake for 4 hours in the afternoon. I said that night times were ok, with him sleeping for 3-4 hours when he first goes down and then it will be 2-3 hours next time then 1-2 hours when we would normally get up.

She said this sounded 'classic' and that Callum would no doubt, in a couple of weeks stretch the first sleep to 5 hours, then 6 until he slept through the night but the 4 hour period of him being awake needed to be sorted. She said that he should only be awake for an hour and then we needed to look for the sleepy signs and try to catch him when he was getting sleepy to put him down and if he didn't go down straight away, we should try rocking etc.

So, armed with this new knowledge, Monday was spent mainly in the nursery trying to get him to sleep (I also thought I should be trying to get him to sleep in his nursery). I really struggled to get stuff done and only just got to Sainsbury's for the already overdue food shop as Callum seemed to be awake all day and would cry when I wasn't around or would be crying because I was trying to get him to sleep. I would rock him to sleep in my arms and then as soon as I tried to put him down, he would wake up and cry.

On Tuesday, I needed to go out so let Callum do his thing re being asleep or awake. He often spends most of the time we are out asleep anyway. Then Tuesday night, Stuart tried to put him to bed while I cooked dinner - again, in his cot. We managed to eat dinner but then the crying started and we didn't manage to get him down all night, constantly rocking and feeding. However, every time we put him down, he would wake up and cry again. Eventually, Stuart bought him downstairs and then we put him down when we went to bed (in his cot) and he finally went off to sleep at 11.45pm ish.

It was Stuart's idea to still put him down in his cot because I was feeling down about never seeing an end to sleeping in the spare room! The rest of the night was pretty ok though.

So, after two evenings in tears I decided to relax completely about the sleep thing. We would still try to put Callum down in the evening but if he didn't want to go, we would bring him back down.

With that in mind, Callum was awake for a bit in the morning when we were at our Post-Natal group and then naturally fell asleep in my arms. He slept pretty much all over lunchtime (dream feeding his milk) and didn't wake up again until about 3.30-4pm. I then went upstairs with him at 7.30pm, got him ready for bed and fed him and he went straight down. I was back downstairs again by 8.10pm and he didn't wake up again until 10.35 - Great!

But then after the next feed at about 1.30am, it all went a bit down hill. He woke every hour - grrr. I'm not so worried though and will try again tonight and for the daytime we will just see how it goes. He has been quite grizzly all morning though so far, poor thing - I don't know what's wrong with him!

By the way, on a separate note, we have changed the brand of formula we are using in the hope that he can go to the loo easier and stops crying out in pain - will update in about a week!

Wednesday 15 October 2008

6 weeks, 1 day old

Callum is now 9lb 2oz. He is growing so quick. His hands and feet aren't so dinky anymore :o(

We have continued with the weening from breast milk to formula. As of today, we are now doing 6 formula feeds to about 4 breast. Unfortunately, the weening process has had a nasty side effect for Callum. He developed a bit of constipation and really struggles to go to poo (I can't believe my life has been reduced to talking about my sons toilet - or should I say nappy - habits!). Gets a bit worrying when he hasn't been for a couple of days and he cries out in pain as he strains to go. At one point all he was getting for his efforts were the most horrific smelling farts!!! It is getting better again now but he still struggles and gets upset. Fine during the day but not so fine at night. It tends to only happen between 3 and 6am so I tend to put him in the nursery during this time as he is still sleeping but just cries out. This way, I can still sleep and only wake up when he cries for feeding. It is also a good way of getting him used to sleeping in the nursery for when he moves in there full time.

I'm starting to think about when to start putting him in the nursery for his naps during the day - now that they are slowly starting to become naps rather than the norm. However, saying that, he does still sleep more than he is awake. He tends to spend 1-2 hours in the morning and then 2-4 in the evening awake. I've had some lovely times during the awake periods where he is trying to smile and is fascinated at looking at my face and listening to what I am saying or the noises I make - see the video clips. The clips are actually not good examples because he isn't smiling in them. In fact, he nearly cries a couple of times in one of them. I have therefore published a picture of him smiling to prove he does enjoy it too.

Still not in any real routine and there are still bad nights and good nights.

Me and Life
My mum came to stay with us for a few days last week. She came on Wednesday night and went on Sunday morning. It was lovely to have her here and I got some 'me' time - I actually got to have my hair cut!! I was sooo excited about it and it desperately needed doing. Stuart and I also got some 'us' time. We went out for a meal sans Callum and had a couple of drinks in some of the local bars (yes it was a mini pub crawl) after. I was shocked to see I still had some alcohol tolerance, fully expecting to be drunk after dinner. However, I managed to have a glass of wine before we left, half a bottle during dinner and 3 vodka and cokes and was only a little bit tipsy!!!! I shouldn't really be drinking of course while I'm breastfeeding but I have heard from many professional sources that you would have to drink a lot of alcohol for it to get through to the breast milk and the greater risk is of it drying up your milk supply. I hope that is true otherwise I'm such a bad mummy - smack hand!

Despite the above, in some ways I feel we took a step back with Callum, as he started to get used to being cuddled more and not going down in his moses basket until he was cuddled to sleep, and then sometimes still he wouldn't go down . Also, I got less done and was slower to get ready because I kept talking to mum. It took me twice as long to do anything. My fault, obviously, not my mums. And I had already started the issue of cuddling Callum to sleep so need to take responsibility there too.

I feel like we have moved on though today - in fact, I feel like we have moved on further than we were before she came. He has gone down twice on his own without being cuddled at all and only needed two short cuddles at one point during the 3am-6am period last night

I have my 6 week check up tomorrow to see if I am all ok following birth and to check Callum over too. Will write again about how that goes after.

Stuart was really helpful over the weekend. I'm not sure whether it was just because my mum was here or whether it is to continue. He even did stuff voluntarily without being asked....and got up at 5am with a hangover to see to Callum and feed him. This must have been really tough! (I mean that by the way, I don't mean it to sound sarcastic). It also made me realise how much he does do anyway. I know it should go without saying with the amount mums need to do while dads are at work (or vice versa if dad stays at home and mum goes off to work) but I also need to recognise how much more he does than some other dads/husbands. I should count myself very lucky. I feel like I'm very quick to criticise all the time with him going out and forget to recognise when he is lovely. I'm not saying I feel differently about him going out and I still stand by what I said but what he does the rest of the time goes towards making up for it.

I think, now that we are moving over to formula, I will be more relaxed about him going out. I would still prefer him to ask me to go out like I would expect to do myself when I want to go out (as I say, the responsibility of looking after a child should be equal and there should be no assumptions that the other half would be happy to always be the one to 'babysit' without even being asked) - but rather than saying I don't want him to go at all, perhaps we can each have a night each every other week. And then once a month, we could try to have a night together. Best get looking for a babysitter!!!

No sure how to rotate the video clips I'm afraid...

Monday 6 October 2008

4 weeks, 6 days old - Learning New Skills

Starting to develop new and old skills by being a mum.

Now we all know how good us women are at multi-tasking but I am taking it to a new level. Today I was ironing while bouncing Callum in the bouncy seat with my foot, but more than that, last week I was breastfeeding Callum while expressing the other boob, doing stuff on the laptop, watching tv and then I answered my mobile - now I think that is pretty impressive.

In addition to this, you become great at doing stuff with just one hand where you would normally use two. Because you are holding your baby in one hand and he/she will inevitably start crying as soon as you put them down, you will be forced to complete tasks with one hand if you are to get anything done. Making the tea, washing up etc. The most challenging task I have found so far was buttering bread but I managed it, amazingly!

Now I'm pretty sure I've invented a new word here but not sure what else to call it. Linked to the above skill - you'll often find that one of your hands is tied up holding the baby so you need to do lots with only the other hand. This is often your left hand (or whichever is your weakest hand) so you find you get better at using it.

The blind sense/night sight
In these early days, you will be woken up several times during the night for feeding and nappy changes. You will no doubt be tired and sometimes will struggle to keep your eyes open so will learn to do things with your eyes closed and, in extreme cases, while you are still asleep! You will learn to navigate your way around your house with your eyes closed - that is further than just from your bedroom to the bathroom which you probably mastered when you were pregnant. For example, you may now find that you can navigate from your bedroom, downstairs, to the kitchen, to the fridge to get out milk, you will boil the kettle to heat the milk and then make your way back to your room, all with your baby in your arms. You will then probably manage to feed your baby either with your eyes closed or while asleep. Also, you can navigate to the nursery and back - I would recommend opening your eyes for the nappy change though otherwise you could find yourself in all sorts of mess - literally!

You may also find the above skill useful during the day if you are struggling from sleep deprivation.

Acute sense of hearing
Especially in the first couple of weeks when you are home from hospital, you will be able to tune into your babies breathing to stop those panic darts to the cot/moses basket to check their chest is still moving.

Over a little more time you will find you can recognise your baby's cry in a room full of other babies, even if they are crying too. Likewise, you will know you do not need to respond to cries that aren't your baby's. I'm still developing this one at the moment but it is definitely getting there.

Of course, you will also eventually learn the different types of cries which mean different things. Particularly helpful at night when your baby is stirring but doesn't actually wake fully - while sleeping you will know there is no need to wake up for grunting and grizzling which might mean your baby is filling his nappy but you will know the difference between this noise and the preliminary grizzles which occur just before they wake up for feeding.

I am sure there are many more skills I'm going to learn over the coming months and I'll be sure to update you with them as I learn them.

Friday 3 October 2008

4 weeks, 3 days old

Well, I think things are getting better. Not necessarily with Stuart and going out - he says sorry but will then be out for the evening again the next week. But that aside, I feel like we are making progress in other areas, though very small.

I have started keeping a record of when Callum feeds and is awake. This is in the hope I can see a routine. Especially at night. I think I also had one more good night than bad in the past week and the bad nights have been better.

We started the wean to Formula on Sunday in the end. We replaced the last feed before bed with formula and then we replace another feed every 3rd day, so now we have replaced two and will replace a third tomorrow. I can definitely see a difference in the length of time Callum sleeps when he has had formula. One night, he slept for 4 hours after the formula. In addition, he generally goes down a lot better after being fed at night.

However, during the day, he is harder to settle at sleepy times. I often need to cuddle him to sleep and then put him down. I know this is a bad habit to get into but I am guilty of loving the cuddles as much as he does. I've vowed to kick this by the time he sleeps through the night though.

We have started to give him a dummy now. We had been trying to hold out as long as possible but he was trying to such all the time. If I put him to my breast, he would often fuss instead or if he latched on he would just lay there asleep rather than feeding. So, rather than me being a human dummy, it was easier to use an actual dummy. This helps him settle easier in the day too.

Callum is starting to spend more time awake, though he is still sleeping more than he is awake. I love it when he is awake. His eyes open really widely now and he just looks gorgeous. He really studies your face and watches you.

The Health Visitor came yesterday and weighed Callum again. He is now 8lb 3oz - so he is putting on weight quite incredibly! He has proper hamster cheeks! She is happy with how we are both doing and so I will next see her the week after next.

I've met up with the NCT girls twice now. Both times at the Slug & Lettuce in town. Up until yesterday, I was still the only one to have had my baby. However, one got induced yesterday (still not heard an update from her), one had her baby yesterday (a boy) and one was in labour (not had an update from her). So, by now, there will be another 3 baby friends for Callum. It is very weird, though, to see the others still with their bumps and hearing all the pregnancy woes - it already seems like a lifetime away for me. As of yet, I don't miss it.

Before I met with the girls yesterday, I popped into the pottery cafe and had Callum's footprints put onto a tile with paint. I had wanted to get the hand and feet impressions you can get made but they are so expensive. Even a pack to do it yourself is £45. There is a pack in Mothercare that you can get hand and feet impressions into clay for you to keep for £10 so I might do that instead.

One frustrating thing relating to my body post-birth. After having a baby you bleed for a while like a really heavy, long period. Now, I had pretty much stopped bleeding by the beginning of week 3 (most people have stopped by 6 weeks) but then I walked into town and back (the back being up a big hill) and that caused me to start bleeding again. According to the Health Visitor, it is normal for it to come back if you over exert yourself too early. Grrr! It then stopped again but then, earlier this week, I went into Guildford and needed to go to the post office which was at the top of the hill. Guess what? I started bleeding again - it is so annoying. I don't even feel like I'm over exerting myself. Bloody body!

Wednesday 24 September 2008

39 weeks, 6 days - 3 weeks, 1 day old

Stomach size: 97cm waist; 28 cm pelvic bone to bra

Well, it's Callum's due date tomorrow. He is doing so well. As of yesterday he weighed 7lb 4oz so has put on a pound and a half since being born. A lot of premature babies are meant to be quite slow to develop but Callum isn't showing any sign of this. He works hard to lift and control his own head and he is so strong. I did have to take him to the Child Health Drop-In Clinic at the doctors yesterday as he had developed a rash across his forehead and eyes. I wasn't that concerned as he was happy in himself and was feeding normally (if you can call feeding whenever and however normal but I guess at this age it is). However, I spoke to NHS Direct and they recommended just taking him along so someone could see it and confirm it was nothing. Apparently, it is called the 'Three Week Rash'. Considering he was 3 weeks old yesterday, that sounded about right. Nothing to worry about and was just colonisation spots and his skin adapting to life outside.

We still don't have any real routine. Callum still feeds and sleeps erratically (as mentioned above). He mainly feeds every 2 hours but with the odd 1 hour or three hour thrown in - usually 1 hour, especially in the early hours of the morning. Which leads me onto sleep patterns. We normally go to bed between 10pm and 10.30pm. Callum then sleeps soundly for 2-3 hours. After that, it all goes a bit chaotic. Last night, he woke up around 1am I think and then 2.30am and then he hardly slept for the remainder of the night. He kept 'snacking', taking in a little bit of food and then falling asleep. I'd try to wind him and put him down and 5 minutes later he would grizzle. I'd wind him again, and then he would be hungry. He would feed for another 5 minutes and then fall asleep, starting the cycle again. It didn't seem to make much difference whether it was from the breast or bottle.

By the time Stuart got up for work, I was desperate for a solid hour's sleep! Unfortunately, I stupidly booked a doctor's appointment for 9am - I really don't know what possessed me. This meant, I had to get up just after Stuart to ensure I got there on time.

Stuart went back to work on Tuesday of last week, after his 2 weeks of paternity leave. I was sad to see him go back. I had enjoyed the time the three of us had shared getting to know each other as a new family. Stuart saw the paternity leave different to me. I saw it as time to get to know Callum and to adjust to being parents, and an opportunity to spend time all together. Stuart saw it as a period of time to try to get back into as normal a routine as possible. He still found it hard to switch off from work. I think he has found it hard to go back to work too but because of the tiredness. His sleep is obviously disturbed too and he finds it really hard to function without good sleep.

There was a piece on The One Show on BBC1 last night that looked at sleep deprivation. Apparently, some people have a gene which means they are better able to cope with sleep deprivation. They called it the Night Owl gene (as opposed to the Lark gene). I definitely think I have this as I seem to be coping pretty well with the days despite not getting much sleep. However, Stuart is acting like me with Baby Brain.

Stuart has generally still been very supportive but this has slipped in a couple of places. Perhaps I expect too much. I want his support, both days and evenings, until some sort of good feeding-sleeping routine is established and I feel more relaxed about everything. This means, I would prefer him not to go out in the evenings unless it is something work related or it really is just for one drink (which Stuart doesn't know the meaning of as his '1 drink' usually develops into a night of drinking and getting the last train home). However, we have had one disagreement when Stuart was on Paternity Leave which was about him wanting to go out (which he didn't do in the end - we came up with a compromise) and then he got trashed last Friday on an impromptu drinking afternoon - a lunch that turned into an afternoon, then an evening, which he didn't even tell me was happening. Eventually, I called him, ended up in tears and he was put on the train home. What really upset me with this was that he had told me the day before when I was really upset about the lack of sleep I had had that it was only for one more night as the next night he would be able to do help out again. However, he was so drunk when he got home that I didn't even want him to change Callum and I did the night on my own again.

I'm feeling a little bit down today. The awareness of being tied to Callum all the time is sinking in. I think this is what Stuart doesn't understand (actually, he understands but I just don't think he considers it) and what I find so difficult. He can go out after work, stay out late, do what he likes with relative freedom, whereas, I can't be away from Callum for more time than I've got expressed bottles for. Of course, I love him and want to be with him but I get no escape - it is 24/7. Constant feeding, nappy changes and coping with the crying demands during the day and then again all through the night. Even if Stuart does help out and takes one or two of the feeds (which he did last Saturday to make up for the night before), I'm often still needed. Stuart had fed him both bottles I had prepared and he had to wake me up to feed him from the breast, and it was only the first feed. I then had to do the other feeds and change him despite that it was meant to be a complete night off where I could catch up with sleep.

What I've never wanted once I had children, was for my husband to just tell me when he is going out or to just expect to go out when he pleases and for me to feel like I need to ask permission to go out. This is what I've seen happen to others and it is completely unfair. The responsibility of looking after the children should be shared and each parent should treat the other as they would wish to be treated. I hope the former doesn't happen to us.

I've also been in the wrong too. One thing I swore I would do and that I think is really important for the mother to do is to involve Stuart in decisions to ensure he feels involved.

The next goal post for me and breastfeeding was 25 September. This had been suggested by Stuart, though what he didn't tell me is that he hadn't prepared himself for me actually giving up breastfeeding at this time and fully expected me to continue to the next goal post, whatever that would be. I had decided that I was going to start the weening process on 25 September as I really want to stop the breastfeeding now. I am so proud of myself for lasting this long considering I was originally not going to breastfeed at all. Unfortunately, I didn't discuss this decision with Stuart so he was disappointed in my decision and disappointed to not have been involved in this decision.

I'm sure these are the first of many disagreements and learning curves we are going to go through but when you are both lacking in sleep, it is hard not to get emotional about things.

Breastfeeding is just adding to my stress. Having to wash two breast pumps constantly as well as doing the expressing every other feed (including at night) is draining. Also, when it is a breast feed (as opposed to an express feed), Callum tends to feed for 10-15 mins, break for 10, feed for 10, break for 10 for about an hour. I then don't know when the next feed will be and why he is stop-starting. I appear to be producing enough milk but he keeps coming back for more. At least when I feed him the express milk, I can see how much he is feeding and he tends to go down better afterwards.

I've got into a bit of routine of expressing two extra bottles during the day that I put in the fridge and then use them to feed during the night. I then only express once at some point during the night when Callum is sleeping. For the rest of the night feeds he is breastfed.

Of course, the downside to feeding by bottle is that you need to warm the bottle if it has been in the fridge before giving it to Callum, so you have to deal with Callum screaming as if he is being murdered until the bottle is ready.

These are, of course, the days/weeks that everyone warned me about and that I've been expecting. Strangely, they are slightly easier than I thought they would be despite all this and I know it wont last forever but I wish I could see some sort of routine developing so I could see a light at the end of the tunnel. This is another reason why I am keen to move to formula - babies tend to sleep longer when formula-fed so I might actually get some sleep at night even if I still have to make 3 feeds during the night and it might help us get that sought after routine.

The best night I've had in the last week was actually on the Friday night (the night Stuart was meant to be helping with). I slept in the spare room while Stuart was in our room. This is also something I said I never wanted to do - I thought it was very unsuportive of the husband to want to sleep in separate rooms. However, it has been my decision to do so and I actually prefer to sleep in separate rooms at the moment. I hate sleeping apart from Stuart but not having to worry about disturbing Stuart so much when Callum wakes means I feel more relaxed. This probably helps both Callum and me get through the night. Sleeping in the spare room also means I can have the moses basket beside me next to the bed rather than at the end of the bed. For the last couple of nights, Stuart has slept in the spare room with me but both nights have been quite bad and I am wondering whether it is because I am stressing about keeping Stuart awake.

God, what a moan this has been. We are managing and Callum is still gorgeous and I know this is to be expected.

I'm looking forward to tomorrow as I'm meeting the NCT girls for our first Yummy Mummy meet. Should give me a bit of a break, even if I have Callum with me. At least I will have some adult chatter and feel like I'm socialising.

Just reading this back, I do feel like I need to reiterate that most of the time Stuart is supportive. He is happy to do nappy changes when he gets home from work and his fair share at weekends, and will stand in and cook dinner if I need him to because I need to feed Callum. He would probably cook dinner every night if I needed him to but I do try to do it ready for when he gets home if I can. Stuart did also look after Callum for the whole day on Saturday to make up for Friday which meant I could go out for a couple of hours without him. He did all the changes throughout the day and all but one during the night.

Monday 15 September 2008

38 weeks, 4 days - 1 week, 6 days old

So, life since the birth...

Week One

Most of the first week was spent in the hospital. We had to stay in the hospital until Friday because Callum was early. I found this time invaluable despite not getting any sleep while there. The ward was too light for me to sleep, plus everyone else's babies kept you awake - that is when you weren't being woken up by your baby or the midwife to feed! The cheek of it! I did wasn't to go in a private room (despite the expense - £130 a night. Personally, I'd expect it to be similar to a 4* hotel for that price!). However, because they had closed the ward, they were using the private rooms for delivery rooms.

Anyway, despite this, I needed a lot of help and support for the breastfeeding. The first night he didn't feed so I had to give him formula to bring his blood sugar level up. The second day, I thought he was feeding but he was just holding onto my nipple but not sucking. The second night was horrid. I was up all night and he wouldn't latch on. I asked for some help and the midwives were really nice and supportive and spent lots of time with me but I still struggled and resigned myself to formula feeding - I was so tired and tearful. The next day, I told one of the midwives that I had decided to formula feed and she persuaded me to continue trying for that day with the help of the midwives and then, if by the end of the day I hadn't had any luck and I still wanted to go onto formula, I would. With help, I managed to feed that day so I thought I would try the night. I got help again throughout the night and was a lot more successful. Callum didn't like attaching to the right boob (the one with the more inverted nipple) so I expressed instead and the midwives fed him from a cup. I got upset again on the last day as I really needed help but I had to wait ages for the midwife to come and help me. Stuart was trying to help me and kept going up to the reception to see when she would come but this was stressing me out more so I kept breaking down and crying. Eventually, she did come and help. I was meant to go home the next day and I knew that this could depend on my success at breastfeeding.

That night (Thursday), I had help for the first feed and then managed the next two on my own, including managing to get Callum to latch onto my problem right nipple! I was so relieved and proud of myself.

When the midwife responsible for discharging me came round the next morning, she checked me out and said she was happy for me to leave but she said she had to come and see me feeding before discharging me. She saw me and she was happy but noticed Callum had some jaundice. She wanted the Paediatrician to see him before she let us go. This was about 9am in the morning. It wasn't until about 3pm that I was finally seen and allowed to go home. Stuart and I were going out of our mind.

The Paediatrician performed a heel prick test (where they take a sample of blood from his heel - he had had to have several of these for regular blood sugar level tests already - his poor heels were so bruised she struggled to find a clear spot) to check his level of jaundice. Thankfully, he was just under the limit where they would have to give him light treatment. Yay - we were given the all clear to go home :o)

We then had to wait ages again for the midwife to complete my notes and print everything off before I left. She finally gave me all my completed notes but I reminded her I was on medication for high blood pressure which I had been told I would need to continue taking once I had been sent home. She then had to go and check this more waiting. Eventually, she found my prescription and finally discharged me.

We left so fast that it wasn't until I had got down to the hospital lobby that I realised I was still wearing my slippers!!!! Oh well, I didn't care anymore, and just went to the car in my slippers. As we left the car park with Callum strapped in his car seat in the back (looking very tiny), I really felt like someone was going to come running after us for stealing a baby!! It was such a strange feeling.

Thankfully, no one came chasing after us and we got home without incident - no flashing blue lights!!

Week Two

Throughout the week, Stuart has been really helpful. He has been doing all the cooking and helping with jobs. He even put something on eBay that I've been waiting for him to do since February...and ventured into the garden to pick up half of the rotting apples that have fallen off the tree.

Lotte is slowly gaining confidence with Callum. The first few days she pretty much stayed outside, just coming in for meals. Now, she still looks at Callum with distrusting eyes but is brave enough to sit on Stuart's lap while I am sat next to him with Callum in my arms.

I have continued with the breastfeeding but now only feeding directly from my left boob and then expressing from my right. This has meant Stuart has been able to get involved with feeding and has been doing one of the night feeds.

Callum's sleep pattern has been erratic. We seem to have alternate good and bad nights. The night before last was a good night - Stuart feeding at 1pm with me finishing the feed as Callum was fussing. Then sleeping through until 5am, putting him down again at 5.30am. Then sleeping through to 8.45am. Last night was a bad night. Feeding at 2.30am but not going back down until 4.30 am, only to wake up at 5.30am, down at 6am, then up again at 7.30am. If only he wasn't s cute when he is awake, looking around with his little beady eyes - I can't help but forgive him for my sleep deprivation.

I have had 3 mw visits. The first being on the Saturday (day after getting home). She came right when I was breastfeeding and Stuart was out shopping. She was happy to see us relaxed (Stuart came home shortly after she arrived) with Stuart looking after me. When she was happy, she said the next mw would visit on Monday. This was Deana (sp?) who I had met before at the doctors. She weighed Callum and, due to an error in my notes, thought he had lost just short of the allowed 10% until Stuart noticed the mistake and corrected her. It turned out he had only lost 40g which is great. This meant that, despite only breastfeeding from the one side, he wasn't losing weight. Again, she was happy with our progress and said my next mw visit would be on the Friday. This was Claire - again I had met her at the surgery. She weighed Callum again and he had put on weight and was now more than his birth weight at 6lb 2oz (he had weighed 5lb 150z at birth). Great news. She gave me more advice for breastfeeding and said to make sure I was expressing my right boob for every other feed to ensure I kept making milk and to do so for one of the night feeds. She also cleared up a worry Stuart and I had regarding swaddling. We had been worried that, by swaddling him, he was overheating. Overheating could lead to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) so we obviously didn't want to risk this. However, he didn't sleep as well when he wasn't swaddled. She reassured us that it was fine to do so and to perhaps lessen his other layers (i.e. remove the sleepsuit and keep him in just a body suit and blanket). She advised us to check the back of his neck and, if it was clammy, he was too hot. This advice was a big relief. Claire then signed us off with a reminder to register Callum before 46 days were up.

Stuart and I have both had some 'fun' nappy changes. Callum likes to wait until your concentration is elsewhere (i.e. finding the nappy) and then weeing over himself. His trick with me is to wait until I'm preparing his nappy, thinking I have got away without any weeing incidents and then projectile pooing everywhere. In my haste to get a nappy to catch it and while my concentration is on trying to clean up the mess, he wees all over himself - very not funny!!!! I can sit there for ages with the nappy in place waiting for him to go for a wee or a poo but then, as soon as I risk replacing the old nappy with the new one, he picks his moment to go!!!

We have received some lovely presents from people. Lots of clothes and toys for Callum, flowers, chocolates and cooking books for me. Lots and lots of cards too. We have been thoroughly spoilt and I thank all our family and friends for the lovely cards and gifts.

One thing I would like to add is how surprisingly natural we have found the adjustment to parenthood. We have found an unexpected confidence with Callum which is missing when you are looking after or handling other people's children - even with my experience of babysitting etc.

I would also like to add that I fall in love with Callum a little more each day - every time I look at him, he makes me smile and proud to be his mummy.

The happy family (day 2)

Ready to go home (looking tanned due to jaundice)

Monday 8 September 2008

37 weeks, 4 days (6 days old)

Stomach size: 102cm waist; 33cm pelvic bone to bra

Erm...well, quite a lot has happened since the last post. As you see from my stomach size I have shrunk. Let me start from the beginning.

WARNING: Do not read if you are squeamish about labour details!

On Friday, 5 September, Stuart's brother Steven and his Fiancee Victoria came to stay for the weekend. Victoria is also pregnant - 27 weeks. On the Friday, I just cooked us all dinner and we had a quiet night in as we all had busy days the next day. Steve and Victoria were going to an REM concert and Stuart and I were going to our first NCT antenatal class.

So, the antenatal class was great. Everyone we met was really nice and I needn't had feared (as I did) that there wouldn't be anyone there we could see being friends with. We either worked in small groups or in plenary. First we were asked to separate into groups by location - Godalming and then everyone else - to introduce ourselves, where we live and what we wanted to cover in the two antenatal classes. Later, we were separated by gender. The boys had to look in a bag of items that are commonly found in a hospital bag and discuss what they thought we would want to help us through possible stages of labour where as the girls had to do the latter and see if they matched up with the boys. We also watched two videos of deliveries. One water birth and one active birth. Never going to be pleasant!! As a group, we also looked at massage and different tools for massage. There were other bits and discussions too but these were the main things. After the class, most of us went to the pub for a quick drink which was a really nice opportunity to relax and chat.

After that, Stuart and I went to another pub for dinner and to enjoy the last sunny day of summer a little bit longer.

On the Sunday, the weather was awful so the four of us went to play pool in Guildford for a couple of hours. We then went out for dinner in the evening.

For the Monday, Stuart had the day off and, as Victoria had never been to London before, everyone wanted to go and do the touristy bit. I was a little hesitant about whether I would be able to manage a day walking around London but, on the promise I could have lots of opportunities to sit down, agreed. It would have been such a shame for Victoria to not make the most of them being so close to London and to not go.

So, we took the train to Waterloo and walked to the London Eye. Went round the London Eye with Stuart and I pointing out the various sites. After we had a pizza on South Bank (a spicy pizza, by the way). Following the pizza we walked all the way to Holborn. I thought we were going via Covent Garden so we could have a break on the way but Stuart had decided to go straight to his work to show Steven. After this, we walked to Covent Garden and watched a couple of street entertainers before heading towards Leicester Square to get some ice cream. Had a lovely ice-cream in the Hagan Daaz cafe. After ice-cream we walked to Regent Street to go to Hamleys. We wondered around every floor of Hamleys and then on route to Oxford Circus tube stopped off in Mama's and Papa's. By the time we had got to M&Ps, I was well and truly knackered. I found a place to sit and stayed there. Feet were swollen, legs and back ached...!!! We finally got the tube back to Waterloo Station to make our way home. We got back quite late and decided to get Chinese for dinner. I was sooo knackered but, because Stuart had had a couple of beers I had to drive to the Chinese to pick up dinner (annoyingly, the only good one in the area, doesn't deliver!). We didn't eat until about 9.30pm. After dinner, we headed up to bed - it was about 11.40pm. I said to Stuart as I got into bed that I had done too much.

Shortly after getting into bed, I felt a feeling like I had started my period. I went to the toilet in fear that I had lost control of my bladder :-o and noticed a very small wet patch in my pyjama bottoms. I went to the toilet and stood up and felt another 'period' movement and managed to sit down on the loo again as I 'leaked'. Sorry if this is getting a bit graphic but just telling you how it was! Stuart asked if I was OK and I explained what had happened. He told me to go and look it up on the laptop and he was going to try to get some sleep, just in case it was anything (looking back at this comment, it sounds charming doesn't it!!!). I got downstairs and opened up the laptop then had to run back up to the loo as I had leaked again. I decided to ring the antenatal ward at the hospital to see what they said while Stuart got up to check out the laptop. I started leaking more and more and was sitting on a towel. As I got through to the hospital and explained the situation, I had to wait for the midwife to come to the phone. I started to feel very nervous at this point and had to fight back the emotion and tears. Just as the midwife came to the phone, the phone died!!! Ahhhhh. I had to ring back but thankfully the midwife picked up. She asked me a number of questions regarding how much liquid there was, what it looked like, how far gone in my pregnancy I was etc etc. She said, as I was only 36 weeks and 4 days, I should come into the hospital to get checked out to see if it was my waters that had broke. I said I could be there in 15-20 minutes and she said to bring an overnight bag. Stuart had come in after finding stuff on the laptop but, not having read anything positive, I think he wished he hadn't gone looking. I explained what had happened and then asked for a cuddle and cried as the shock of what could be happening hit me. We grabbed my pre-prepared hospital bags with me making a few adjustments between the bags so one was more just an overnight bag for me and the others were to leave in the car but to bring in if there were developments.

I got dressed and grabbed my towel. You will remember that Stuart had had a couple of drinks. Now, he had literally only had a couple over the space of a number of hours (since London) so was unlikely to be over limit but it was still a worrying drive to hospital. I could hardly drive myself though. By the time we had got to the hospital, I had well and truly looked like I had wet myself and was waddling through the entrance with a towel between my legs. Stuart had dropped me at the entrance while he went and parked. We then made our way to the antenatal ward.

After a short wait, I was shown into a day assessment room where I was checked out. While I was waiting, I could hear someone else in the room (we were curtained off) in labour. It wasn't particularly pleasant hearing it, though the noises she made did sound mildly erotic. I couldn't imagine making those kind of noises while in labour - I was perhaps expecting clearer groans of pain rather than these strange noises.

The doctor attached a couple of devices to my bump which monitored the baby's heart rate and I was told to click a button every time the baby moved - which, thankfully, it did quite a bit. I was told reassuringly that baby was very happy and had a good heart beat.

They took a urine sample to check for protein and swabs of my cervix to check for infection. They also took some blood tests. Can't remember what they were for.

After my examination, they midwife and doctor couldn't tell whether it was in fact my waters which had broken or not but they judged by the wetness of my trousers that it probably was. They told me I had to stay in overnight and then they would decide whether to induce me in the morning. Stuart had to go home but could come back at 9am the next day.

I was then put on the antenatal ward. After the tour of the maternity unit, I had said that I really didn't want to stay on the antenatal ward hearing women in labour come and go. But, here I was! I didn't sleep a wink. The ward was too light so it felt like dawn, someone was yawning and sighing very loudly, someone was snoring, and two women in labour came and went - making sighing/groaning noises similar to the first woman I heard. Did everyone have orgasmic labours????

In addition, I noticed that I had started to get mild back ache on and off. I couldn't tell if there was a pattern to them or how regular the pain was because I didn't think I had a watch on me - however, I later found Stuart's watch. I wasn't sure whether these were contractions or just the result of me marching round half of London the previous day.

In the morning at 9am, the midwife came to see me and said they were moving me to the delivery suite. Stuart arrived just as they were about to call him to come in. They checked my blood pressure which was very very high. I think it was 148/100. I had to give another urine sample too which was still clear of protein. I had started measuring the back pain with Stuart and was pretty sure that I was having contractions 4-5 minutes apart and lasting 45 seconds to a minute long. I mentioned these to the midwife who attached me to the baby heart rate monitor again which also measured the contractions.

The midwife explained that they would monitor me for the next couple of hours to check baby was ok and to see whether the contractions progressed and would then decide about 12 noon whether to induce me or not. At about 11am, the midwife examined me internally and said she 'thought' she could see some waters so believed only my hind waters had broke. She then got out this long needle which she explained had a small blade attached to the end of it which she was going to use to try to break the waters. I wish she hadn't explained about the blade - it is hard to stay relaxed knowing someone is putting a blade up your watsit!!! The whole experience was very unpleasant and painful. She couldn't break the waters but did a quick sweep of the area. This seem to halt the contractions for a while and made me bleed. When the midwife saw the blood she said, ooh, looks like you have had a 'show' that could be good news. Was she surprised there was blood after what she had done!!!!

At this stage I was 1 cm dilated and my cervix was about 1/2 cm thick but that my cervix was still facing the back - apparently it gradually moves forward. She said she would check me again at 12 but, as I had found it so painful, they would give me gas and air next time. She gave me some medication for the blood pressure. They kept monitoring my blood pressure throughout the day.

At 12, they didn't examine me again but she said that they had decided to induce me anyway because of my blood pressure and because my contractions hadn't really progressed on their own.

Then the midwife tried to find a vein to put the Syntocin drip (induction drip) into. The midwife struggled to find a good vein that she felt confident with. There was a possible one on my right arm but she wanted to get another midwife to check it or do it for her. She left the room and came back a short while later saying they had told her not to be such a wimp and to just get on with it (eeek! wish she hadn't told me that). It hurt quite a bit putting the needle in my arm but I could push the pain to the back of mind and could manage it ok. But it did sting and felt really uncomfortable. She was then not confident that she had put it in correctly so did go and get someone to check it. They said it looked fine but to start the drip and they would soon know if it had been put in wrong when my arm started swelling up like a balloon. None of this was filling me with reassurance!!! They then started the drip at 1ml an hour. Thankfully, there was no sign of my arm swelling like a balloon. However, it was still stinging a fair bit.

Thankfully, the midwives changed and I had someone different monitoring for the next part of the day (throughout the day, I think I saw about 6 midwives from beginning to end). After they had started the drip they had to check my BP several times in the space of about 45 minutes. The heart rate monitor continued to monitor baby and my contractions and every once in a while, when I hadn't gone into full labour, they upped the drip 1 mil and hour at a time.

What I was really fearful about being induced was the contractions coming on with full force with no let up (as I had heard this had happened to others). I therefore asked straight away, when could I get my epidural - I didn't want to be suffering any pain unnecessarily here! They told me that I would have the baby by midnight and that I would probably need the epidural about 10pm.

Thankfully, the contractions increased really gradually. This part of the labour was mostly quite boring. I found myself wishing I had packed cards and/or games or even a book to while away the time. I had to make do with completing a Sudoku puzzle in the paper with my left hand (it was difficult to move my right arm because of the drip).

I put on the TENS machine and started testing it out with the contractions. Not sure how much it actually helped through the labour. I also started on the gas and air. The midwife suggested trying it now to work out how many breaths I needed to take and when. I took about 6 deep breaths and thought not a lot was happening, and then a few seconds later, my head when light and I got the giggles. Stuart tried to have a go with a couple of breaths and nearly got caught by the midwife coming back into the room. It was difficult to time the gas and air with the contractions. I'm not sure if I ever did it effectively. Later, when the contractions were getting more painful and closer together, the gas and air made me very sick. I stopped using it then.

As I said, most of the labour was quite boring and, as the contractions started getting stronger, I found myself curled up in the fetal position on my side with my leg jigging through each pain and Stuart had nodded off in the chair. I woke him up and told him I was in quite a bit of pain and at that point the midwife came in. The time was 4.30pm and I was worried I had to go on with the pain getting worse until 10pm when the midwife said I would be able to have the epidural. Thankfully, the midwife suggested we think about the epidural now. She said it would take about 15 minutes to set up and 15 minutes to take effect so I told her I was happy to go ahead, worrying how I would make it through the next 30 minutes, and the midwife went to find the anesthetist.

I was lucky enough to get one of the top consultants at the hospital who decided to do this one more epidural before the end of his shift and actually stayed late to do it.

The contractions were coming really close together and I had to stay very still in between contractions while the anesthetist put in the needle. I'm glad I didn't see the needle. Stuart held my hand and informed the anesthetist when I was having a contraction so he could wait for it to pass. You have an injection first to numb the area and then they put in the epidural needle. The first injection was about as painful as a blood test needle. The epidural for most part didn't hurt until the end when it felt really weird, like it was touching a nerve but once it was in, it was fine. When the needle was in, he gradually started squeezing in the epidural through a syringe. He said I would start to notice the effect within 10 minutes. The contractions would appear to shorten and then would get less painful. I think this happened quicker than 10 minutes and before I know it I was relaxed and dancing my feet to the music (I had been listening to a couple of CD's I had bought in throughout the labour). Epidural truly is a wonder drug and I can't recommend it enough. I have full respect for anyone that goes through labour with no pain relief or with anything less than an epidural! It was a mobile epidural so I was able to move around, go to toilet etc etc. I could still feel my legs etc but the pain had eased to almost nothing. A side effect of the epidural though, which many but not all of women suffer, is that your skin gets really, really itchy.

The epidural lasted about 1.5 hours before it started to wear off and the contractions were getting more painful again so they examined me (I was now 4cms and on track for their 1cm an hour target, yay!) and then topped up the epidural. Unfortunately, the pain had moved from my back to the front left of my pelvis. It felt like I needed to go to the loo desperately and that my bladder was going to explode if I didn't, despite not long having gone. After 10-15 minutes, this pain hadn't subsided at all and I was still having contractions one on top of the other. At this point, they informed me that, due to staff shortages, they had to close the ward (turning new people away) and so I had to move rooms to keep everyone closer together. I said about feeling like I needed the toilet. They said it was probably just the contraction feeling like that but let me try to go to the toilet and at the same time they would move me to the new room. I didn't succeed - not a drop, just lots of pain. They wondered whether there was in fact some urine trapped in my bladder and explained that this sometimes stopped the epidural being effective. In addition, they said the top up wasn't directed to where the pain now was but instead to my back where it was before so they decided to give me another top up directed to the front and they were going to try to drain my bladder with a catheter. I'm not sure if this is how they do it but it felt like they put a needle up my wee hole - it was very very painful. Stuart said it was a straw. There was indeed a bit of urine which could have been why I was still in pain. Having had the second top up and urine drained, the pain of the contractions eased ever so slightly but I was still in lots of pain. I was now starting to feel pressure in my bottom like I was constipated.

Finally, at 9pm they said that, if I wanted, I could try pushing or I could have another epidural and try waiting another hour. By this stage, I just wanted it to be over so I opted to try pushing.

If you have ever heard that it is like pushing the biggest poo of your life out your bum then that is absolutely true!!! It felt exactly like this. There was the slight fear in the back of my mind that this was in fact what I was doing (especially as I hadn't been for over 24 hours) but by this point, I didn't really care if I did! Thankfully, as far as I know, this didn't happen. Anyway, to miss out on the gory details, I pushed, I moved position, I pushed some more, I roared but was advised not to do this as I would end up with a sore throat, so I stopped the roaring, I nearly cried with the pain and I did say I couldn't do it anymore, I wanted them to find another way for them to get this baby out - Stuart and the midwife either intentionally ignored me or misunderstood what I was saying but they didn't let me find another way and told me to just move position again and push some more. Then the head started to come and I was told to pant or breath and to stop pushing - were they crazy??? I wanted this thing out not to stop. However, breath and pant I did. Then give a little push, breath and pant some more, then another little push and hoorah, the head was out. I was so relieved as that meant the worst was over. I then had to give one more push that I didn't think was in me for the rest of the body. He came out screaming and pink.

The midwife informed me I had a baby boy and tried to put him on my chest/stomach. I'm ashamed to say, I did try to push them and him away from me. I found it hard at that point to find love for something that hurt me so much. Thankfully, they perseveered and didn't let me push him away so I eventually looked down and saw our son. I cuddled him exhausted while they said they were giving me the injection for the placenta. I then had to give a couple of coughs to get the placenta out.

I tried to breastfeed but they said, because he was effectively premature, it was normal for him not to suck at this point and to keep trying later if we didn't succeed now. We were then left to bond with out new son for a few minutes. The midwife eventually weighed him (5lb, 15oz) and wrapped him on a towel.

I asked her what he was on the apgar scale and she said well 10 and 10 - because he was very vocal and pink from the start.

Wow! That was quite an epic - will write another post in a day or two to tell you what happened next and bring you up to date to today.

I love our little son Callum, he is so cute :o)

ETA - I forgot to say, one strange side effect of labour, my scalp became really sensitive. All my hair folicles stood on end whenever I ran my fingers through my hair. It still hasn't really gone away. I thought it might have been the blood pressure tablets (which I guess it could still be as I am still getting it now) but it could also be the hormones running through my body - either way very odd! I wonder if anyone else has had this.

Me on Tuesday morning with monitors attached
The monitor - the line on the left is the baby's heartrate and the line far right is my contractions
probably about 10 minutes after being born

Wednesday 27 August 2008

35 weeks, 6 days

Just wanted to update on my physio appointment and MW appointment.

I had my physio this morning. As I expected, my aches and pains are more to do with the general aches and pains of pregnancy, combined with my body telling me I am doing too much, rather than actual SPD. She has given me a tubi-grip to wear around my bump and some exercises to do. She also gave me some advice for turning over in bed too. Finally, she said I should no longer be doing the hoovering, mopping the kitchen floor or cleaning the bath (or similar activities) and advised me to get a cleaner for the next 4 weeks and the first 4 weeks after baby has arrived. Oh how lovely that would be! However, I'm still working on trying to get a gardener for a one off spritz of the garden. A gardener and a cleaner could be a luxury too many (and too expensive). Not sure I can live with a dirty house for the next 4-8 weeks either.

I had my MW appointment this afternoon. Blood test results came back clear of sugar - yipee! My iron was also back up so the Spatone (and beef-burger eating) must be working. Blood pressure was fine and so was urine. She was a little surprised at the swelling in my feet but as long as I keep an eye on it (told you they looked like the elephant man's feet!). If the swelling starts going to my hands and face too and is accompanied by headaches, lights in front of eyes and/or bad indigestion that I can't shift then to get it checked out but other than that, nothing to worry about. Also advised I put the yellow pages under the end of my bed to keep my feet elevated while sleeping.

Baby's heartbeat was good. She had a little guess at whether the baby was going to be pink or blue but she said it was unclear as the speed of the baby's heart was on the boundary. You may remember from an earlier post that it is an old wives' tale that if the heartbeat is 140bpm or above then it is likely to be a girl and if it is below 140bpm then it will likely be a boy. She said she would normally guess it was a girl if it was above 145bpm. It kept varying between about 144 and 150.

She also confirmed that baby is starting to engage. She said it was 4/5ths palpable - 1/5th being fully engaged. Unfortunately, the baby still isn't quite in the right position as it's back was partially facing my back where it should be more round to the front, so recommended spending lots of time on my hands and knees to encourage the baby's back to drop to the front (hope all those fronts and backs aren't too confusing).

I'm going to an aquanatal class tonight which I'm really looking forward to. May be a bit of shock to the system though after 4-5 months of limited exercise.

Tuesday 26 August 2008

35 weeks, 5 days

Stomach size: 111cm - waist; 40 - pelvic bone to bra

I'm really suffering with the aches and pains today. It was the August Bank Holiday yesterday and Stuart and I were out and about, which resulted in me being on my feet for a lot of the day. This means I really hurt today. I found it really hard and painful to turn over in bed last night too which meant I didn't sleep very well. Felt like and old woman trying to walk to the toilet in the middle of the night!

Thankfully, I have a physio appointment for the SPD tomorrow and another on Friday for my shoulder.

I still feel bad for having these as I'm sure others are in more pain than I am - though, feeling what I do today, I really wouldn't want to be them.

My feet are well and truly swelling now - they looked like the elephant man's feet yesterday :o( However, they are a bit more evenly swollen rather than it just being the right foot.

Have been getting some very weird feelings lower down in the area of the head. Can't really explain what it feels like - perhaps like a very thorough, rough internal examination. It was getting a little painful too last night. No idea what the baby is actually doing. I think it is the baby engaging. I have a MW appointment tomorrow so I guess I will find out.

Again, fingers crossed my blood sugar will be low and my Iron will be up. Been taking Spatone for the Iron and I'm hoping it will have made a difference.

Can't believe, I've only got just over 4 weeks to go - eeek!

Wednesday 20 August 2008

34 weeks, 6 days

Just had to write and say...

I've just eaten my lunch and looked down at my belly and thought - cor, I look bloated. He he :-D

34 weeks, 5 days

We went for a tour of the Maternity Unit at The Royal Surrey Hospital on Saturday. Was definitely worth doing so we know where to go on the big day. I wasn't expecting anything else but it really is so clinical. If you go in early for any reason (i.e. they need to monitor you, induce you or something) you go to the antenatal wards. There are 6 beds in each ward which could be quite frightening if you are watching others in different stages of labour and in their own world of pain. And demoralising if you are watching them come and go before you and you are still sat there waiting.

Lou said that she didn't have to go in there even when she was induced, she went straight to the delivery suite (makes it sound posh and cosy saying suite doesn't it!!!???? - it isn't!) so hopefully, I wont have to experience that.

If I am in established labour I will go to the delivery 'suite'. Just a room with a bed, various bits of equipment round it, a couple of shelves in the corner with a stereo on one of them so you can play music if you wish.

They also have 'Home from Home' rooms and a birthing pool. Don't be fooled by the name of the Home from Home rooms. The only visible difference I could see between this room and the delivery suite was it had the equipment stored away in wooden wardrobes and they had squeezed a two-seater sofa in the room. It was also smaller than the delivery suite. I was definitely expecting something a bit more...well. homely. Oh yeah, they had put 3 small pictures of flowers on the wall which obviously made all the difference. These rooms are for women who want to have 'active births'. This means as little medical intervention as possible. Less technology and more fluffy stuff like aromatherapy. They also have gas and air and pethidine available but if you want an epidural, you would be moved to the delivery suite. People also use this room if they are using the birthing pool. The birthing pool was the inside of the hot tub (no bubbles I'm afraid) in a room. Nothing particularly exciting.

Although, interesting to see these rooms, I wont be using them - bring on the epidural!!!

It was funny as most, if not all, the other mums were all really interested in the Home from Home rooms or birthing pool and were all eagerly grabbing the leaflets where I was like "I've just got one many anesthetists do you have and is there one available 24 hours?" (I guess that is two questions). I know those other mums were all dying to ask and were just gonna go home and put those active birth leaflets straight in the bin :o)

We also saw the post-natal wards. Pretty much the same as the ante-natal wards. We didn't see them but were told they also have single rooms which are available on a first come, first served basis for a fee. We decided it was worth paying for if we can get one. I am keen to stay in hospital to get all the help and rest I can before I am sent on my way. However, it would be completely pointless if I was kept awake by 5 other mums and their babies (as well as mine) while I was there.

Off to doctor today - I got bitten by a nasty insect at the weekend and appear to have had a reaction to it and can't take antihistamine cream because I'm pregnant - grrr!

Thursday 14 August 2008

34 weeks

Stomach size: 109 waist; 39 pelvic bone to bra

Ahhhh, my belly button in starting to pop out!!! The top half has popped out and the bottom is still in. I don't want an outie!! I was really hoping it wouldn't happen. Thankfully, although it does still feel quite weird to be touched (only by me), it doesn't feel quite as horrid as it did before being pregnant. It has become slightly desensitised. That doesn't mean people can start prodding me in it and my defensive karate arms will be at the ready to slap them away.

I used my birthday pressie from Stuart yesterday and had the model make-over day. I had a number of photos taken of me clothed and then the photographer took a number of photos of me, Stuart and bump. The first lot of photos didn't really show off my pregnancy belly much and in some I just looked fat - you could especially see how much weight I have put on around my face - my cheek bones are threatening to swallow up my eyes when I smile! The pregnancy ones we then had done were with me wearing one of Stuart's shirts open at the front to show bump and hide boobs. Then I took the shirt off (:-o) and covered my boobs with my hands. The first shots were done in colour (I wore white trousers with a bright pink top) and the second lot were put into black and white. We got one photo free with the shoot and then we decided to buy one other photo. Unfortunately, the photos were soooooo expensive so we couldn't afford more. Because of this, we decided to go with two of the pregnancy ones as we can get them framed together in a double frame. To be honest, although the colours in the clothed photos looked really good, I don't think I looked so great and wouldn't have been as pleased to have any of them on show. Also, the pregnancy ones showed off my bump more and, therefore, were more appropriate. However, I think they might still be displayed in the bedroom - not sure I want all our friends seeing my pregnant naked body, no matter how much editing and touching up they do!

I had another MW appointment today. Baby is well - heartbeat still sounded healthy and happy. I had more blood tests done to test my blood sugar levels. Hopefully, these will be better than the last tests. Also, I've been taking an iron supplement (Spatone) for a week now and I am hoping that will be enough to show my iron levels are up. I mentioned the back pain I have been having (across the top of my bum) and she suspects I am starting to get SPD (Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction) which is basically pelvic pain. Where everything is loosening and moving, it can cause my pelvic bones to become uneven and cause a bit of pain. The pain isn't too bad until the end of the day and is worse when I have been on my feet all day but I think it might have been making my age old shoulder pain come back. That is really painful. The MW said I should get a support belt to help with the back pain and to see how it is at the next appointment. Although, if it gets too painful before then to see the doctor. I might actually go to the doctor about the shoulder pain on its own as that is causing me more discomfort. The back pain just makes me behave like an old woman when I get out of a chair or out of bed. I can put up with that for a bit longer...