Letting Go

As so many of you were supremely helpful, answering my pleas and whines, I thought I’d drop a little update on how Little Bun and I are going on the milk front.

Three months ago, I was feeling pretty overwhelmed at the triple whammy that I was dealt – her allergies, my own milk’s problem with freezing, and her not taking formula.

Well – we’re through it and (almost) out the other side. Once we’d settled back home after hotfootting it around the globe and back, I started LB on a bottle of her stinky formula here and there. Luckily, she’s a guts and her appetite’s only getting bigger, so she seemed happier and happier to take the bottle.

Then, with my back-to-work date looming, I started to slowly wean her. Just as they recommend in the books, I replaced a feed a week – beginning with her least ‘favourite’. And she was fine. Absolutely. Fine. It took her a while to pick up her quantities, but I knew that she was getting plenty of milk from me, and PUH-LENTY of food and water as well (my girl likes to eat).

The slow approach was also kind to my boobs, and I haven’t had any troubles with engorgement or pain.

She was crook last week so I delayed dropping the final feed – the one first thing in the morning. But I think that was more for me than her. You see, I’ve been sad to wean her. As lovely as its been to have more than a three hour window in which to get out and do things on my own, I miss feeding her. What was such a close, warm, organic thing is now a different – not bad – experience. Nice cuddle, plastic teat, gulp-and-burp. Done.

But the admin! I really applaud those women who have been managing bottles for months and months. The washing, sterilising, transporting, buying of formula … it’s just another thing to fit into your brain when it’s already fit to burst.

I’m so grateful for the boob-support I received – both online and in real life – all the way back to those first few weeks when I couldn’t breastfeed at all. Now that it’s time for us to move on, I do feel some sense of sadness. My baby is growing up.

But what we’ll miss in that, I’m sure we’ll discover something new elsewhere.

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Diagnosis

So … after this post, Little Bun had another week of horrific nappies. I was stumped. And covered in poo. We needed help.

We headed back to our lovely GP, who referred us to a paediatrician, Dr Hob. She was a cracker – properly old school, no bullshit, straight down the line woman. I really liked her.

She took one look at Little Bun’s test results and diagnosed Infant C.olitis. Why the GP couldn’t do this, I’d like to know – but either way, Dr Hob was 100% certain that was the issue, even before I talked her through the past two months of symptoms.

Infant C.olitis is, basically, an allergy to milk and soy. The good news? It’s not a severe allergy that requires EPI pens and nastiness like that. Also, it’s likely to clear up in around 9 – 12 months from now.

The bad news? Little Bun is one of the 30% of babies whose c.olitis includes soy, too. ‘No problemo!’ I say, ‘Just hold the sauce on my sushi and we’ll be good!’ … Ahh, the ignorant bliss of someone who’s never had to deal with food allergies. You see, soy is in everything. Literally – ALL OF THE THINGS.

I’m going to have to work out a whole new way of eating. It’ll be hard, but also a lot healthier for me. Soy is in most processed foods, so I’ll be steering clear of biscuits, chips and takeaway. And of course there’s the dairy-filled loveliness of desserts, chocolate and baked goodies that I’ll also be saying goodbye to. The toughest thing (psychologically, I think) is Little Bun also can’t have normal formula. She’s only allowed one, prescription-only formula that – according to Dr Hob – tastes revolting. A formula babies don’t like the taste of? Genius!

She’s recommended we get Little Bun on small tastes of this formula soon, so she can get used to it. This is because I’ll need to use it, or EBM, for all cooking and bottles for the foreseeable future. GOOD TIMES.

I don’t know when I was planning on weaning Little Bun. I’d loosely thought at around the eight to ten month mark … I probably wasn’t going to try and continue with EBM once I’d gone back to work. But now this formula issue has me feeling a little weird. It’s not that I wanted to give Little Bun formula anytime soon, but it’s the knowledge that I can’t (easily) that is a little claustrophobic.

So … that’s where we’re at. No dairy. No soy. No formula. And – hopefully – no more nasty nappies.

Deal? Deal.

Dairy Queen

Well, two weeks, three separate poo samples and a lot of advice later – I think we have a solution.

First off, Little Bun doesn’t seem to be sick. Woot! They can’t find any sign of a bug or virus that could have been causing her explosive bum. That, and she’s gaining good amounts of weight and is generally happy and well.

So, I went off wheat and dairy for a week. Just for shits and giggles. And it was hard, people. Because, of course, I did it with no prep or notice – so had nothing sensible in the house to eat. I basically survived on bananas and rice for a few days, before getting my act together. I was HUNGRY. My jeans loosened a little. More importantly, Little Bun’s nappies improved OVER. NIGHT. Yay! Mother-in-doing-something-right-SHOCK!

I had a feeling it was dairy and not wheat, and so slowly reintroduced the latter back into my diet. No effect on the nappies. And then with dairy, carefully trialled some low-dairy foods. I am continuing to steer clear of milk, cheese and yoghurt etc, and so far so good.

Look, I don’t know if it’s a complete coincidence. I haven’t exactly gone about this scientifically, and I’m by no means following a strict no dairy-diet (ahem-chocolate cake-ahem). It may be that she was sick, and now she’s better. Or her gut is maturing. Or it’s a totally separate food intolerance that I haven’t discovered. Who knows. All I do know is that there’s been no blood and very little mucus for nearly a fortnight. She’s gone from 4-6 pooey nappies a day to 1 or 2. Her tummy is more settled, and she’s feeding a lot more calmly.

These are all good things.

Now if we can just work on the napping …

‘Breast is Best’ (except when it’s not)

So as I’ve mentioned, I struggled bigtime with boobfeeding for the first weeks of Little Bun’s life.

It started at the beginning (duh) with a combination of Little Bun having a small mouth, a high palette, a very tiny tongue tie and a ‘suck like a piranha’ (to quote one midwife). In the first days in hospital I made sure I buzzed a midwife every time I fed Little Bun. This was to check that my technique was OK, and her latch was good. I felt pretty good about this, as if their very presence would ward off any nasty breastfeeding spirits that might creep in.

I was consistently praised and told that everything was looking great (I was feeling pretty smug at this point). However on Day 4 Little Bun tried to kickstart my milk coming in by feeding every hour. With one midwife’s ominous declaration that ‘it only takes one bad latch to ruin your nipples’ I worriedly persevered through her increasingly voracious feeds. I don’t know whether it was that ‘one bad feed’, or just the frequency of the little sucker going hell for leather on my poor nipples – but by mid afternoon they were grazed, blistered and bleeding and I was crying every time she squeaked for another feed.

That evening, a very young and well-meaning midwife was trying to manage this escalating issue as Little Bun got hungrier and I became more desperate. Finally we asked to speak to her superior (in the nicest way possible – I think she was more relieved than us to bring her boss in). A much older, more experienced nurse bustled in and took one look at the situation. She firmly explained that I needed to put my boobs on 24 hour’s rest, start pumping colostrum, and give Little Bun some formula in the meantime.

I’d be lying if I said I took that well. Mr Bun had to do a fair bit of talking to make me see sense – that my wellbeing and her full tummy were the most important things. She took the formula like a champ and I started expressing straight away. On seeing the in-hospital lactation consultant the next morning, she put me on a WEEK’S NIPPLE REST … they were pretty bad. So, we came home with a rented hospital-grade pump in tow and Little Bun took expressed milk and formula for a few days until my milk came in and I swapped to giving her 100% expressed breast milk.

At that point, I had attended a full day lactation clinic in the hospital. While helpful, I found their somewhat obsessive ‘breast is best’ attitude restrictive and not very supportive. I was looking for a plan of attack, rather than ‘just latch her on and go’. Whenever Little Bun attached it was complete agony for me. I developed a full-blown anxiety issue about her coming near my boobs, which in turn created a very tense situation: not conducive to good feeding. In the meantime, I was expressing every time she fed – so, 8 x feeds a day + 8 x expressing sessions a day – that’s eight hours a day of not eating, sleeping, resting or talking. Of course Mr Bun was around, and he ended up doing many feeds while I expressed, but this in itself was really distressing as I was missing out on valuable bonding time with my child.

It was really rough, and I think if someone had told me at the outset that it would take five weeks to fix, I wouldn’t have stuck it out.

So – what worked? I found a private Lactation Consultant whose approach I felt comfortable with. She came to our home, and for three hours she sat with me. While we did work on a bit of technique, it was the holistic support she provided me that really helped. She gently explained it would take three weeks to transition back to boob without affecting my supply. She made it clear that formula was fine, and in doing so took the pressure off. She provided me with a written plan (including the ratio of one boob feed to three EBM/expressing sessions – then 2:3, 2:2, 3:1 etc) all the while focusing on my confidence and comfort levels. We had Little Bun’s tongue tie snipped. She grew bigger, and so did her mouth, so her latch improved. I became more confident. Many small things changed so then, slowly but surely, I was 100% breastfeeding.

But beyond all of this, the one thing that got me through was having the Lactation Consultant on the end of the phone whenever I needed her. Some days I spoke to her twice. There were calls on Sundays. Public holidays. Nighttimes. I felt so, so lucky to have her support and without it I would not be breastfeeding now – simple as that.

I’ve been surprised at just how many people were impressed I stuck it out. I think everyone (at least, those in the birth/baby/new mum world) understands how hard b’feeding can be.

But if I’m honest I’ll say I did it for me, and not just for Little Bun.

I have no qualms with formula AT ALL. And I so envy those mothers’ freedom – how they can share the responsibility of feeding their child more equally, and of course their ability to go out and enjoy a wine – or three (!) But, we bottle fed Little Bun EBM for long enough to know the hassle of sterilising, carting bottles around, heating things up and cooling them down. The luxury of having a meal on tap where and whenever was needed was very attractive to me. Like all baby things, it’s such a personal choice. I’m just glad I happened to get my choice, eventually.

A Growth Spurt (or, pass the vodka)

I thought Little Bun had been through growth spurts before. I mean, she’s growing the whole time, right? The books say spurts happen at 3, 6 and 10 weeks … and babies always do things by the book, right?

Ho ho. No no. Wrong-diddly-wrong-oh.

Little Bun has had a growth spurt. It started on Thursday when she woke up early for a few naps. But it didn’t really get going until Friday afternoon when she started feeding every two hours. Her normal 5-10 minute super snacks turned into 20 minute mega chowdowns. PER BOOB. With burping and changing and napping this meant I had about 40 minutes downtime until it all started again. And again. And again. For TWO WHOLE DAYS.

By Sunday things were calming down a bit, and she even smashed out one of her epic three hour naps in the afternoon. But I was shattered – a husk of my former self …

I joke, but it’s Tuesday and while feeding less insanely, her routine in shot to pieces and I am feeling pretty burnt out.

And don’t get me started on Arsenic Hour(s). The Spurt seems to have kicked this delightful habit into another, altogether yuckier gear. Screaming on and off from 7.30 until 10, and then grizzly and unsettled until midnight.

Is this normal? Why do I feel things are getting worse from 7 weeks and not better?

And why do I have to do it soooooober!?

The First Six Weeks (part one)

Little Bun was six weeks last Friday. I won’t say I can’t believe where the time has gone – I can account for every minute (!) – but the immediacy of giving birth and being in the hospital is fading fast.

Here are some random, completely disorganised thoughts on the First Six Weeks.

Breastfeeding is Hard

I knew this. I was acutely aware of how hard it could be. Equally, it was the one ‘thing’ I was adamant I wanted to do. Everything else fell under my parenting ‘strategy’ (ha ha) of Whatever Works*. Yet breastfeeding was different. I attended classes and read books and once Little Bun was born, I shelved any pride and made sure I buzzed a midwife before literally every feed – just to make sure I was getting my latch right.

But it still didn’t work.

If anyone’s interested I may dedicate a separate post to what happened and how I dealt with it. However I found that if you are struggling the following is true: unless you have amazing support (I had a brilliant lactation consultant that we hired privately), a fair kick of tenacity (we hired said Consultant after three weeks, as many separate clinics and hospital consultations, and it took five weeks for me to start b’feeding exclusively) and time (at the beginning I was expressing 6-8 times a day so we could feed Little Bun EBM via the bottle for every feed) then you’re in for a challenge.

(Update: booby post here)

‘Sleep When They Sleep’ Is Really Good Advice

When I was pregnant I heard this over and over and thought it was a bit of a cop-out, not to mention a waste of precious time.

Nuh-uh. It makes SUCH a difference. Bar a (very grumpy) day here and there, for six weeks I have grabbed a nap every day. In the crazy, routineless early weeks, I took it when I could which sometimes meant dinnertime, or really just after I’d showered and dressed.

Now, she’s in some semblance of a routine and I know I can get some shuteye somewhere between 3pm and 6pm. Yes, napping is boring. It’s time consuming. It means you can’t do other stuff (be those chores, errands, or even something nice like reading a mag with a cuppa) – but you’ll thank yourself as you swing your legs out of bed, into the 3am cold.

I absolutely, hands-down owe my relatively relaxed, happy brain to these daily naps. Hey, Whatever Works, right?

See The Planet There? Let’s Just Stomp In Its Face A Few Times!

While I’m no hemp-wearing hippy chick drinking recycled wee, I’d like to think Mr Bun and I are pretty environmentally friendly people. We sort our rubbish properly and shit. WELL DOUSE ME IN OIL AND CALL ME LADY EXXON. Having a baby is the most environmentally unfriendly thing I’ve ever done.

The laundry is what gets me the most. The incessant, neverending cycles of washing. And drying**. And loads of dishes. And cranking the heating up over 19 degrees**. Living at home, existing in these walls all day is also bumping up the general house filth, not to mention the bills. For all of my life I’ve had a nice warm school/uni/office to take care of me five days a week – tea, coffee, heating, dishes, loo paper … now it’s happening on my own turf I realise just how messy and expensive us humans actually are. I’m shocked at the absolute blatant consumption of it all.

Summer will be better. Line-dried clothes, no heating, and Little Bun and I will crack out our hemp bikinis …

OK. Naptime! More to come …

(Update: part 2 here)

* ie. don’t set yourself up for failure by declaring ‘I’ll never’ or ‘We will always’ … you just don’t know how you’ll go.

** before you go Greenpeace on me, it’s the middle of the coldest Winter in 20 years here, and if you think I’m going to be air-drying clothes you’re sorely mistaken. I don’t have the climate, let alone the time. Also, we live in the coldest house north of Antarctica.

Bringing Up Baby – the Google way

Take:

  1. One paranoid new mother,
  2. One newborn baby,
  3. One iPhone,
  4. Numerous late night/early morning breastfeeds, with one typing-hand free …

And what do you get? The search history of a LUNATIC.

Here’s a mere sampling from the past four weeks of Google searches:

  • newborn fingernails
  • clear newborn blocked nose
  • month old baby red bottom
  • baby poo white strings
  • best burping techniques
  • four week old baby development
  • month old baby straining
  • curved ridge after breastfeeding
  • cluster feeding newborn
  • four week baby routine
  • wake baby to feed?

… it goes on …

And as fast as I can search for it, it disappears / she changes routine / something else pops up.

The life of a new mumma!

The Bunless Birth Story

OK. Two things:

1 – This newborn baby thing is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

2 – Here is my Birth Story. I am typing this with an overtired Little Bun sleeping on my chest. It’s been a bad day. She’s been crying nonstop, and I’ve been … well, trying (failing) to calm her. So, the chest it is. But anyway – the In Laws have left and I have some ‘time’ to get this down.

It’ll be a long ‘un, so the abridged version is here: I gave birth. It hurt. But we got a beautiful baby girl. The end.

OK – here goes!

– – – –

Cast your mind, dear reader, to four weeks ago.

WEDNESDAY NIGHT – 40w6d

Mr Bun and I headed into hospital for my first dose of P.rostin gel. As you may remember, this was with the aim of getting things started, ahead of Dr Spock breaking my waters and commencing the induction proper on Thursday morning.

My cervix was still so high and closed that the insertion of the gel hurt LIKE A MOTHER. We were sent home and told to come in if anything happened. I woke up the next morning with nary a niggle down below … little did I know that would be my last solid(ish) night’s sleep in – well – ever.

THURSDAY MORNING – 41w

We had been told to come in again Thursday morning, regardless of anything happening or not, so off we went, bags in tow – expecting this to be it. On examining me, Dr Spock said there’d been so little movement that she wasn’t that comfortable progressing into a fully fledged induction. I was relieved to hear this, as I was beginning to worry about forcing things too fast. So, we agreed that she’d give me a second, slightly larger dose of the P.rostin. We’d wait a full 24 hours and if there was still no change, she’d progress with the induction on Friday morning.

This second dose of P.rostin was administered with the help of N.itrous Oxide (Gas, or Gas and Air). I lay there at nine in the morning laughing my arse off while Mr Bun, Dr Spock and a midwife looked on in amusement. It was not my most sophisticated moment …

Mr Bun had already taken Thursday off work in expectation of that being our ‘induction day’, so we headed home together to wait. We even discussed going to see a film, but by the time we arrived home the P.rostin Pains had really kicked in. These were just like bad period cramps, and I had to take some heavy-duty painkillers to dull them. It was so weird having ‘cramps’ again after nine months. I swear I got a touch of PTSD-like flashbacks, in feeling like my period was about to arrive … I kept having to remind myself I was 41 weeks pregnant. A few times, Mr Bun asked if I was having contractions – but these were constant cramps that responded to painkillers. So, in a word, no.

THURSDAY NIGHT

Resigning ourselves to a full induction the next morning, and toasting our last night as a family of two, we sat down to takeaway and a DVD. As the opening credits rolled, I felt a swift and firm ‘kick’ down low in my nether regions. Almost immediately, there was a POP and my waters broke bigtime! Being the practical lass I am (ahem) I swiftly moved off the couch/rug/any stain-able soft furnshings and onto the wooden floorboards.

Me – ‘Woah! WOAH!’

Mr Bun – ‘What! What!’

Me – ‘My waters JUST BROKE!!!’

Mr Bun – … !!!

Me – ‘GET A TOWEL!’ (See? Practical)

We called the Maternity Ward and even though I was having zero contractions, they told us to come in. We piled the car up with bags and made the third trip in two days to the hospital. They examined me, confirmed my waters had broken (duh) and asked us what we wanted to do. We could hang out in the labour ward, use up one of our four allocated nights (it was 10.30pm, so counted as a first night) and wait for contractions to begin – or head home, try and get some sleep, and come in when contractions had started. It seemed a no-brainer. We got back in the car, and made the now very familiar drive home.

And – you guessed it – my contractions began. They were crampy-like, down deep (I believe they call it perineal pain!?) and within half an hour were coming every 2-3 minutes, lasting 45 seconds. It was intense, and it wasn’t long before I was doubled over the kitchen table having a good old holler. It was time to go back to the hospital. For the fourth time.

THURSDAY NIGHT/FRIDAY MORNING

The drive to the hospital was one of those surreal, out-of-body experiences where you’re living something you’ve imagined so. many. times. I was bellowing over speed bumps and bracing myself on the roof of the car. I couldn’t make it across the footpath until a contraction had passed, and had to stop again – doubled over and moaning – outside the lift. We arrived in the delivery suite and Mr Bun asked where we should set up our TENS machine. The midwife looked at me, and gently said, ‘It’s a little late for that, love’.

With the help of gas and a shot of p.ethadine, Mr Bun and I worked through the contractions together. While things were progressing really quickly, and the pain was intense – I felt in control of my labour. Mr Bun was AMAZEBALLS, and really helped me work through each peak and trough of pain.

Around 3am Dr Spock came in and announced I’d gone from 3cm to 10cm in a few hours (woah). And that, being fully dilated, I’d be soon be getting the urge to push and the baby would be not far away. The contractions had peaked, she said. While I had been gently suggesting (ie. starting to shout) for an e.pidural, this news changed things. I felt calm. In control. I could do one more hour – sure I could!  We agreed to a top-up of p.ethadine and got ready for Baby Time. Labour is easy, people. I am a birthing legend. Bring on the champagne and streamers!

This did not happen.

This did: bad things. Painful, sobbing, begging-my-husband-to-help-me-please things. I did not get an urge to push. The baby was not moving anywhere. The contractions were getting worse. And the ANAESTHETIST AND DR SPOCK HAD BOTH BEEN CALLED AWAY TO ANOTHER LABOUR. Endless minutes passed. Time slowed. Mr Bun looked stricken. It was a shit way to spend the early hours of a Friday.

Dr Spock eventually reappeared and immediately approved the goddamn epidural, and then broke the news that the anaesthetist was still an hour away. The ensuing 60 minutes were the toughest of the labour.

When the epidural finally did arrive it was incredible – obviously. It’s amazing that you can go from 100km/h to 0 in just 15 minutes. Drugs are GREAT.

I had a little sleep, and then we got down to business. The actual birth of Little Bun was the most peaceful, beautiful thing. Our favourite music played. Mr Bun and Dr Spock chatted and joked quietly. When our baby emerged, calm and peaceful and very, very beautiful – there was an explosive pink and purple sunrise out the window. I reached down and pulled her onto my belly, and then my chest. I was the first to see that she was a she. A few tears were shed. She latched onto my boob. Our daughter was here. We had become three.

There’s so much more to tell. The blissful post-baby days in hospital, surrounded by bustling midwives and the heady scent of endless flowers. The Baby Blues and how they muck with your mind. The sleep deprivation and how it mucks with your EVERYTHING. The, frankly, horrible breastfeeding trials of clinics and classes and consultants (and how, four weeks later, I’m nearly there). What it feels like to have a baby, after so long of wanting one.

But you’ll have to bear with me. This post is being completed three days after it was begun. Time at home with a newborn is liquid. Your day, your life is not your own. You exist to serve another, so things like blogging – and eating, and brushing your hair – become luxuries.

Let me just say one thing: to those of you, waiting and hoping and trying your goddamndest to get what you want. Whatever you end up choosing, whatever ends up being your story – know that there are people out there who hurt as much as you did, who begged and hoped and prayed as hard as you did, and they are here. On the other side. With what they wished for.

x

I’m here (just).

We have completed our first week at home. And it’s FULL. ON.

Every cliche is true. ‘Nothing can prepare you’. ‘The sleep deprivation is inhuman’. ‘Your baby is a miracle.’

After nearly two weeks I’m still unable to breast feed,which is literally one of the most difficult things I’ve had to deal with. I am pumping up to eight times a day, expressing all of her feeds, and then bottle feeding on top of that.

It doesn’t leave much time for crosswords … (ha ha).

She’s gorgeous, sleeps all day and cries a lot of the night. Her lips and fingers kill me on a daily basis. She has her Daddy’s nose. Her baby smell is of toffee and optimism.

I’ll keep saying it ’til it’s true: Birth Story post coming soon.

x