I’m going back to work next week. I’m think I’m supposed to feel sad that my maternity leave is over and worried that Flixster is starting nursery. The truth is that I will be worried about Flixster but I’m quite looking forward to returning to work. I’m lucky that I like my job I work with a great team of people. I’m also lucky that I’m not returning five days I’m going back to the 3 long days I did after the boy was born. Flixster will be attending the same nursery that the boy goes to 3 days a week. I really like the nursery, it’s in an old cottage and feels homely. The staff are nice and the children seem happy there. So I know that he’ll be looked after, its just hard at first to picture him away from me. I will try my best not to think to much about him, not because I don’t care but because I don’t want to upset myself. there is no other way at the moment, I have to go to work so he has to go to nursery. We don’t have family close by who would be able to have them and even if we did it’s a big commitment to have children for three days each and every week, when you’ve already worked all your life and are now retired.
I’m looking forward to being back at work so that people call me Jane and not just “Flixsters mummy”. I enjoy the challenge of work, something different everyday. Its rewarding as well to know I’m helping people. I know it sounds daft too but it’s me time, time when I can think about something other than housework, feeding and nappies. Time to use my brain and give it a workout.
I’ve been for Flixsters first trial at nursery today, we went to the baby room for an hour and I stayed with him. He seemed ok but he was sat with me for the whole time so he had no reason to be concerned anything was out of the ordinary. Tomorrow I’m due to leave him at lunchtime for around 90 minutes. I’m sure he’ll be fine, but only time will tell. I hope he settles in quickly and that he understands as best he can that we’ll always be back to pick him up each evening. I’m expecting him to catch all sorts of illnesses though in the next few months, it can’t be helped when they start nursery. I’m just hoping that his immune system is nice a strong to cope with them all.
He’s still breastfed so I’ll be sending milk in with him for the nursery to give him. I’ve not started pumping yet so I’d better do that soon as he starts properly next Wednesday. I’m going to have to pump at work too as he feeds lots during the day and I don’t want to stop feeding him yet.
I’m not sure how I’ll cope with the tiredness when I’m back in work, he still feeds lots of times through the night, I guess I’ve got no option but to cope. I just hope he starts sleeping a little more in the evening soon or I’ll be spending all day at work and then the evening trying to settle him, which will mean I never get anything done.
I hope the next few months aren’t too turbulent for us as a family but I’m not so sure they are going to be easy sailing for us either. I guess only time will tell!
As part of my weekly list post to focus myself, at this special time of year I’d like to do a mainly gratitude focused list, I have so much to be grateful for in life and it’s important to remember this everyday.
Gratitude – This Week
1) Boys – I count my blessing everyday that I have two wonderful healthy little boys. We truly are blessed to have been given the gift of the two of them. They brighten up our lives each day with their smiles and giggles. Of course they are hard work too but work every sleepless night.
2)Husband – He works so hard for us as a family in a job that at the moment is a challenge, he comes home and helps out around the house with housework and the boys. He puts up with me day in day out and I know I can be a challenge! He loves me unconditionally and is always there for me when I need him to be my rock.
3) Our Home – We have a roof over our heads, which is safe, warm, cosy and comfortable, which is far more than many people in the world have.
4) Food in our tummies – We are thankfully in a position to be able to feed ourselves each day
5) Our Families – We have supportive family around us who help out if they are needed, we love them all dearly and are grateful to be close to them.
6) The boy went to the toilet all by himself upstairs, did everything alone and also washed his hands.
7) Flixster pulled up all by himself in the cot to standing – the little monkey is growing so fast
Funny things the boy has said this week
1) “Mummy why did the chicken cross the level crossing? Because he got hit by a train and it was an ouchy and he died.”
(I wasn’t sure how to respond to that??)
2)”Mummy why did the chicken cross the waffle maker? Because he wanted to get squished and be a waffle…and die”
(Again there’s a theme here….)
3) Bolcano – “Mummy its not volcano with a V its Bolcano with a B” – He’s insisting that its Bolcano and there’s no telling him otherwise
So it’s a short post but it makes me realise again what I have in life and that I certainly have nothing to moan about.
If you’ve read any of my other posts about breastfeeding you’ll already know that before I had the boy my stance on breastfeeding was quite neutral. I thought I’d give it a go and if it didn’t work then I didn’t think I’d be that bothered. After all there are other options out there.
So when he came along I carefully tread on the first steps of my breastfeeding journey which took me to feeding him to around 18 months and I’m now feeding the Flixster who is 8 months.
But what’s it really like? A question I often get asked by pregnant friends or mums to be that I meet. I’ve thought about the answer and there isn’t just one answer I can give. Its beautiful, easy, hard, amazing, lazy, cuddly, addictive and fabulous all at the same time.
It certainly wasn’t easy for me to begin with. As with all new skills it has to be learned. Baby is born knowing how to find the breast and how to suckle. If you haven’t seen any videos of a newborn’s first breast crawl (yes they really can crawl to a breast all by themselves when they are born) then go and have a scout around youtube. There are some amazing tear jerking videos showing newborns finding their own way to the nipple once placed skin to skin on a mothers chest. For mummies however its a skill to be learnt and getting a good position and attachment of baby is key to everything. In years gone by this knowledge was passed from mother to mother, but in recent years this skill has been lost which is why breastfeeding peer supporters, volunteers and specialists are vital in the success of mothers who may be having a difficult time, or may be in pain whilst feeding. Getting that right position and attachment is everything. With that skill cracked I’d say you’d be well on your way to a successful feeding journey for however long you chose to feed for.
The Early days of Breastfeeding
The early days of feeding aren’t just about the right position and attachment they are also about establishing a good milk supply for the baby. Babies are born with tiny little stomachs that can’t hold much milk, which is why they feed so frequently. The milk may be of little volume at first but it’s of such great value to the newborn, packed with everything they need to survive. Don’t think that because you are feeding so little and often that you’re not making enough milk for baby. Newborns feed so often because they need to, because their tiny little tummies can only hold small amounts at a time. When the boy was little I’d set myself small targets. First I wanted to get to 10 days, then two weeks then four weeks. People would tell me that if I could get to 6 weeks then I’d have broken the back of feeding and things would get easier. They weren’t wrong. Six weeks seem like such a long time away when you have a newborn and you’re surviving on very little sleep, but in the grand scheme of things it’s such a short time.
So fast forward to now, I’m quite an experienced breastfeeding mum and peer support volunteer. I love breastfeeding because I’m quite a lazy person when it comes to routine jobs, I love that if Flixster needs milk there’s no washing and sterilizing of bottles. No boiling up the kettle then waiting for it to cool again and finding the powder to add. Theres no need for me to think ahead to how long we may be out of the house for and how many bottle I need to take. Anytime he needs a feed I just lift my top and latch him on. There’s not, as many people think any need to expose anything, as long as you plan ahead slightly with your outfit then its pretty easy to feed discreetly if you need to.
The thing I love most though about breastfeeding is the feeling of love you get when you feed, the oxytocin high not long after baby latches on. It must be the same feeling people get who are addicted to exercise, I wouldn’t know though, I’d love to find time to exercise, I miss running. I love looking down at Flixster who’s hand is usually waving wildly or stocking my face gently knowing he feels comfortable and at home whilst feeding, he feels safe and secure, it’s the one place in the whole world that he is most familiar with. He’s so tiny still just 8 months and he’s not going to be feeding forever, so for now while he still does I’m going to try to remember every single minute because before I know it (and I won’t know when) he’ll have finished his last ever breastfeed and it’ll all be in the past.
My second son was born en caul at home in water at 8:38am on Sunday 13th April, this is the story of his amazing home birth.
I had planned a home birth for my first son but unfortunately things had not gone to plan and I ended up with a blue light transfer at 10cm and pushing due to meconium in his waters. It was the most horrendous ride of my life and subsequently I ended up with a horrible memory of a bad birth experience. I also had a retained placenta, which I always wonder if it was a result of having gone from the peaceful environment of home to the adrenaline fuelled ride to hospital where I was threatened with all sorts of intervention and eventually they tried ventouse. I look back and wonder if my body went into shock and decided to hold onto the placenta, so after a trip to theatre post baby arriving I was separated from my husband and left on a ward in the middle of the night to fend for myself, which is where I stayed for 2 nights.
Home Birth the Difference
This time I knew things had to be different, despite thinking I was prepared last time I hadn’t factored in not knowing the two midwives who attended my birth and them not knowing me. We were very lucky and blessed that when we decided to try for baby number 2 we conceived the first month of trying. It came as a shock to us both but I knew before the tests were even dry that I wanted to make contact with One to One midwives. I had read so many positive things about the service and had attended an open day information session they had held. I am extremely lucky that I live in an area that is covered by the One to One service. I referred myself to them and within a few days I had been contacted by our allocated midwife who phoned me to arrange a booking in appointment.
All my appointments were held at home where I never felt rushed and had time to discuss all my concerns and worries. At my first appointment I chatted with my midwife about my previous birth and how much I was still angry thinking about it and the way I had been treated. She was amazing and took the time to listen and reassure me that things could be different. Over the course of the pregnancy I saw the same midwife at each appointment and was able to form a bond with her so that she knew all my wishes and hopes for the birth.
As the weeks flew by and we drew closer to my guess date, I talked through with my midwife all the options I’d have if things during the birth didn’t go the way I hoped, I really wanted a home birth. I had questions about what would happen if there was meconium in the waters again and if I had a retained placenta. We chatted through all the scenarios so that I knew exactly what would be available to me should that happen. I trusted that my midwife had given me all the pros and cons of each option and if the time came where I had to make a quick decision I knew I would be making an informed choice for myself and baby.
With my first pregnancy I had not known which day or cycle I had conceived so had to trust that the scan date was accurate, I happened to go into labour naturally 8 days after the EDD with my first son. This time around I knew exactly the day I ovulated so was able to work out my own guess date. I was so sure I would go over that date again this time around that I made plans for roughly a week following it to keep myself busy while I waited for baby to decide when to be born.
The day before my ‘guess date’ I woke at 4:30am in the morning with what I thought were trapped wind pains, so I went to the toilet to see if I could make myself more comfortable. I returned to bed only to become uncomfortable again just a few minutes later, so I got out of bed to stand up again. This happened a few more times before my husband woke up to see if I was ok. Up to that point I hadn’t even thought that it could be labour, I began to realise though that the pains were coming and going and the only way I could get comfy with them was by standing up and rocking my hips. I think my husband realised before I did that, in fact this could be labour. We began timing the pains and they were roughly every 3 minutes at this point. Not wanting to bother anyone too early I waited until about 5:30 to ring my midwife. As I dialed the number my call was redirected to another midwife who I’d previously met at one of my scans. My midwife had told me that the other midwife would probably be my second midwife at the birth so I felt happy that we had already met her. She explained to me that my midwife had been off call for the night but was back on later in the morning. She listened in while I had a contraction and as I wasn’t able to chat during it she told us to start filling up the pool and that she was on her way. My husband immediately rang my mum to come and pick up the boy as she was going to look after him whilst I was birthing because we were nervous that I’d end up in hospital and if that was the case then we wanted to be fully prepared to leave at a minutes notice.
We moved downstairs and the second midwife arrived about 20 minutes later and we had already started to fill the pool. She looked at my notes and chatted with me, she told me that she had rung my named home birth midwife too and she was on her way. She asked if I’d like to be examined but I declined as I had already discussed with my own midwife not wanting any internal examinations unless I asked for them. At around 6:30am my mum arrived to collect the boy shortly followed by my usual midwife. By now I had put on the tens machine to try to help with the pains and was rocking through each contractions on all fours propped up on the birth ball. The atmosphere was peaceful, I had my labour playlist on random playing in the room and I got through each contraction by zoning out and rocking on the ball. I could hear myself gently moan through each contraction as it helped me to remember to breathe slowly and steadily. I remember my midwife asking me if I wanted to get into the pool but I’m not sure what time it was by then. I took the tens machine off and got into the pool, which by now was ready. The warmth of the water was blissful, I was able to move around freely through each contraction getting into a position that suited me each time. My midwife commented that my purple line was by now quite long and she joked that she thought the baby would be here in time for her to get a McDonalds breakfast. I wasn’t convinced! I had been in labour for 24 hours with my first son, so naturally assumed that although this time may be shorter, as it had only been a couple of hours so far, I thought I was in for the long haul still. I felt down myself at that point to see if I could feel anything, but there was absolutely nothing there.
20 Minutes before he was born
Not long after that I felt that the baby had moved down considerably and my midwife also commented that she thought she saw him drop down a lot lower. Sure enough just a couple of contractions later I knew I had started to push, I couldn’t help myself, my body wanted to do it so I just went with it. It was at that point I recognised the signs, I felt suddenly quite sick, like I needed to open my throat up, I could also hear myself change vocally from a gentle moan to what I can only describe as a “mooing” noise! At that point although I had my eyes shut and my head down on the side of the pool I knew the midwives had moved from sitting on the sofa where they had been for most of the birth so far, to much nearer the pool. One of them said that he’d be with us soon. By this point my waters still hadn’t gone, or at least I didn’t think they had. My midwife saying she could see his waters, so I felt down again and sure enough there was a bulging sack just on top of his head, which I could also feel.
I moved my hand back to the side of the pool so I could grip onto my husband and with one more push as ‘Fix You’ by Coldplay was playing he was born en caul (inside his intact amniotic sac) at 8:38am, at that point I reached down behind me as that’s where I thought he was but in fact he had swum up to the side and slightly in front of me. At that point even though it was only seconds it felt to me like minutes as I tried to locate him in the pool! I picked him up in total shock and turned around to sit down and cradle him, I remember just looking at my midwife and exclaiming ‘I did it!’ I couldn’t believe how quickly things had changed from contractions to him being here.
We waited for the cord to stop pulsing before it was clamped and my husband cut it, something he missed out on first time round. I sat in the pool with him on my chest, offering feeds and waiting to see if my placenta would come without any form of intervention. We discussed the birth and the midwife explained that he was born with his membranes intact and as he swam up he had popped them himself with his hand, I wish I had seen that! The second midwife mentioned that it is thought to be a sign of luck. After an hour it was suggested I stand up to see if the placenta was just sitting there waiting to come out, so I handed baby to husband who sat on the sofa and had some skin to skin time with him while I stood up.
Sure enough as I stood up the midwife gently touched the cord and out plopped the placenta. To me that was an amazing moment as I couldn’t believe I’d done everything myself without intervention or pain relief. It was the icing on the cake to see the placenta!
I was made comfortable on the sofa where I was examined and found that I would heal naturally given time. I took the baby back in my arms for skin to skin time and just sat staring for the following few hours, thinking about the amazing home birth experience that I had just had!
For the rest of the day I had skin to skin time with him under a blanket on the sofa until I finally got him dressed at 5pm. We couldn’t believe that out of all the songs on the playlist it had been ‘Fix you’ that was playing as he was born. That song has always been special to us as a couple and one of the only singles I had ever bought on CD and kept, I don’t own many CDs anymore now that everything is digital. We had even been there when Coldplay had filmed the video for the single, so although you can’t spot us on the video I know we are in the crowd! It was also poignant as this birth really has fixed me after such a traumatic time first time around. His home birth song is fix you and I love it just as much as I loved my home birth.
I truly loved every minute of the positive pregnancy and birth experience and would do it again in a heartbeat if I could!
How am I going to cope with a toddler and a baby? A question I often asked myself when I was pregnant with Flixster. With the boy still in nappies and not quite in a toddler bed yet I wasn’t sure how I was going to cope. I would reason with myself that many millions of people had survived before me so surely I could…maybe….right? Flixster is now almost 8 months old and so far I’ve survived, ok it’s on very little sleep but I’m here, I’m still standing (sort of!) So without further ado I’ll let you know my top tips for surviving!
1) Alcohol – start drinking, anytime, anywhere!
2) Lower your standards – your appearance, your expectations of food, your hopes for a tidy home etc
Now of course I’m joking about the above, although there have been times I’ve looked longingly at my open bottle of red on the top of the fridge, wondering if a small glass at 2pm would see me through until Daddy gets home! In reality though I only have the odd glass once the babies are in bed on a Saturday night.
What follows below is my serious list of hints and tips!
Organisation – now you’re probably thinking that of course I’m talking about being generally organised and although many of us would love to be organised in all aspects of life it’s just never going to happen! I’m talking specifically about getting yourself organised each night just for the next day.
1) So first and foremost if you’re going to be leaving the house the next day get your bag and the car packed. If you’re going to need the pushchair or pram then put it in the boot ready. Don’t think that it doesn’t matter and you can do it in the morning, good luck with that! Trying to juggle a baby and wrangle a toddler whilst folding a pushchair and ensuring no one accidentally ends up in the road is nearly impossible, you only have two hands – take it from me!
2) Make sure your changing bag is packed, be sure to remember everything you might need, drinks for toddler, nappies, wipes etc. In the early days of having two I used to really enjoy watching “What’s in my diaper bag” videos on YouTube. They would give me an idea of what I would need to pack and how to organise the bag. If you’re going to be staying at home, then make sure you have everything you need downstairs so that you’re not running up and down,holding a baby, or having to leave the two alone. The first time I did this for 20 seconds I came back to the boy trying to share his banana with Flixster who was only a week old!
3) Sling – This should probably be top tip number 1, it wasn’t until I had two children that I realised how valuable having a sling/baby carrier would be. You can get far more done with the toddler if the baby is in a carrier close to mummy. Be sure to buy a good one though and I highly recommend hiring one from a local sling library (if your lucky enough to live near one) before you invest your hard-earned money. There is a sling/carrier out there to suit everyone but not all types will suit you. Finding the one that suits you and your lifestyle well will bring you the joy of being hands free to deal with a toddler. I started out with a stretchy wrap for Flixster and now I have a material wrap alongside a ring sling for quick up and downs and a mei-tai style one for daddy to use. They get used multiple times a day and I’m not sure how I would have survived without them. There are lots of cheaper baby carriers out there on the market but most are not recommended as the baby hips aren’t kept in the correct ‘M’ position. A good place to check if the carrier is suitable is to have a look at the TICKS baby carrier list which you can view here.
4) Toilet – No nobody likes toilet talk but it is a part of everyone’s life. What if you need to go when you have sole charge of two small people? If you have a downstairs toilet then you’re probably ok, but what if you don’t? I take both children with me, place Flixster on the floor and get a book for the boy to look at. I have stair gates so I know if he leaves the bathroom he’ll be ok. What if you’re out in public? Try and find a disabled toilet so that you can all fit in together. If you have a double pushchair then strap the little ones in so that the toddler doesn’t go around touching everything while you have a wee! Yuck!
5) Feeding – Being a breastfeeder it’s a little harder to control a toddler while I’m feeding Flixster as I need both my hands for feeding. So if you can find a corner of a coffee shop and block the toddler in while you feed then great but what if you can’t? Do you have a pushchair where you could strap the toddler in safely while you feed? Perhaps the toddler could look at a toy, phone or book for distraction? Is there a feeding room where you are that you could go to in order to keep the toddler contained? Many large shopping centres have them now so just ask to see if the one you are in has one.
Believe me it’s not easy looking after a baby and toddler at the same time, there have been times in the early days where all three of us have been crying at the same time, but you live and learn and hopefully my tips will help. Good luck mummies and daddies, if there are any tips I’ve missed please feel free to let me know and I can add them on!
I’m so excited about Christmas, I really am. Flixster it’s your first Christmas on earth and boy it’s your 4th. This year will be even more magical because you’re really talkative now and understanding of things. I’ve started to talk about Christmas in front of you now. I didn’t want to mention it to early but I do you want to have a great buildup. We have beautiful wooden countdown sign up in their lounge already made by Grandad. I’m hoping as well as getting a good countdown you’re also practising your numbers.
I’ve just ordered and picked up new artificial slimline Christmas tree and can’t wait to get it up. We normally wait till after daddy’s birthday but I have a feeling it will be earlier this year. You helped me decorate it last year and I hope we can do the same again this year. I’m really looking forward to seeing your face when you find out that there’s an elf coming to live with us in December. I also can’t wait for a trip to see Father Christmas on Christmas eve with daddy. Although it’s not looking good since you curled up in a ball on the floor the other day in the garden centre when Father Christmas came to give you a badge. Once again this week you have come out with some cracking lines. You’ve started to try to tell jokes, which although not particularly funny make me laugh because of the way you tell them, and the way you laugh at the end. My favourite two were this week on the way home from nursery:
Why did eggs have fun?
Because they love the shop!
Why did the parents love the shop?
Because it ‘selled’ food!
I was also very proud of you this week on the way home from nursery when I asked about the poppy that was sellotaped onto your T-shirt you told me that you’d done a ‘silenced’ to think about the soldiers, I could’ve cried. I was very proud that you’d remembered and understood as best you can being 3.
I also chuckled this week when you are asking me for a biscuit you asked for a rich teabag.
I have looked at another school this week for you and I just don’t know to do for the best. It’s such a big decision that may affect the rest of your life I just want to make sure that I get it right. We still have a couple of months to get the application form in, so more thinking time.
Flixster your learning to sit up for longer and longer each day, you were pretty wobbly at the start of last week but you stayed upright for a couple of minutes today. You still prefer standing up given the opportunity but I can’t hold you all the time! We’ve started a few finger food this week you seem to be getting on really well with them. I’ve spoon-fed you a couple of things as well and you really loved them.
You’re such a smiley baby and I love carrying you around in the sling but you are getting a bit heavier now. I do wish though that sometimes you’d just nap in your cot rather than in my arms or in the sling. I know you’ll grow soon enough and won’t be able to nap on me anymore so I try to treasure these times with you rather than keep thinking of all the things I need to get done. As I sit here staring at your beautiful peaceful sleepy face I wonder what you are dreaming about and hope I’m doing the best for you. It’s strange to think you may one day read this when you’re older and by then you’ll defiantly be too big to nap on me. I hope by then you’ll be sleeping better at night too, because right now I’m shattered! Getting up every hour or two to feed is very draining, and being up for the day at 4:45am isn’t going down well with daddy or I. It’s a good job you always have a smile on your face in the mornings! You still adore your brother and I love how your eyes light up each time he enters a room. I hope you’ll be great friends. I expect there to be squabbles over the years but as long as you are there for each other when you need to be that’s all I ask.
Please always remember I love you unconditionally ….forever.
Love Mummy x