Tongue Tied

The first things I heard when E arrived into the world…

“Congratulations, it’s definitely a girl”

“Gosh, hasn’t she got big feet!”

“Oh she’s got a definite tongue tie there…”

The first one made me smile, the second one made me laugh, and I wasn’t sure what to think of the third…

We’d been told about tongue tie in our antenatal classes so I wasn’t completely oblivious to what it was, but I wasn’t really sure how it would affect E.

I knew it was pretty harmless but that it could potentially have an effect on feeding and we soon found out how much.

Not meant to be

If you’ve read any of my earlier posts while I was pregnant you’ll know how keen I was on breastfeeding. Shortly after E was born, I put her to the breast (with help from the midwife) and she seemed to take to it straight away – I was so pleased. However, once we moved onto the ward and attempted further feeding, it was clear that there was going to be a problem. The midwives were a tremendous support, helping E to latch on, but where they were expecting her to feed for 15-20 mins she would drop off after only a few minutes. No matter which position we tried she just wouldn’t take to it for very long. The closeness I felt when feeding was lovely but I was conscious that she just wasn’t getting enough.

I breastfed for a total of 24 hours but unfortunately we decided that the tongue tie was affecting her latch just too much so we took the decision to try E on bottles. This wasn’t instantly successful either, it took us another 24 hours to get anywhere near a decent amount of milk down her, but at least she was taking in something.

The good thing was that her nappies were changing so we knew she was actually getting some nutrition, however feeding times were slow and difficult. All the other babies on the ward seemed to be taking to the breast or bottle really easily and were being discharged in a matter of hours after birth whereas I was still here 48 hrs on.

As much as I wanted to get home and settle down with my new little family, looking back I’m glad that I stayed in hospital for as long as I did. With the problems that we had with feeding, I couldn’t have asked for any more support. They were there through day and night – there were times that I felt I had them at my bedside constantly!! When we finally did get home, I felt lost without them!

A waiting game

Unfortunately, in regards to the tongue tie, E’s birth came just at the wrong time. If the problem had been sorted within the first couple of days, I truly believe that I would still have had a good chance at breastfeeding but as it was we would have to wait for another few weeks. The lactation consultant that deals with tongue tie cases had just gone on holiday for two weeks and apparently shes was the only one in the whole county that could help! I of course had the choice of expressing breastmilk but with E feeding only every 1-2 hrs, and expressing between those times, there was simply no time to enjoy being a new mum and taking pleasure in my lovely new daughter!
If I’d only had to do it for a few days, it might have been different but by the time we finally got our appointment with the consultant, E was almost 4 weeks old.

The right decision

Taking the decision to solely feed E with formula was simply the right way to go, but it was a really hard one for me to make and there were tears a plenty. For days I chastised myself for not trying hard enough and the crying was almost like I was grieving for something. I suppose I’d thought about it for so long while I was pregnant that it took me a while to come to terms with not being able to do it, but seeing E thrive once she started taking to the bottles gave me a huge sense of relief that we had made the right decision.
It’s about her, not me. Although the benefits of bottle feeding, including daddy being able to help out have obviously been great for me too!

All’s well that ends well

When we eventually got to see the consultant (just last week), I told her about trying with breastfeeding in the early days but she took one look at the tongue tie, and said “you’d have had no chance with that”. With that one sentence all the issue of self-loathing that I’d had weeks earlier instantly dissolved.

E had her tongue tie snipped – and despite a few tears (from me, not her), all is now well. E has a wonderful free moving tongue and has delighted in sticking it out at mummy and daddy at every occasion! It might be a rude gesture but to us it’s perfect as it’s a sign that she’s happier than ever!

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Surviving the first month…

As you’ll have noticed I’ve not blogged for a while. Despite being in my mid thirties I can quite honestly say I’ve been pretty naive about the whole baby thing!!

Firstly I thought labour would be a breeze… How wrong I was!!!

And secondly I genuinely thought the first few weeks of motherhood would be the same… Well I knew it would be an ‘adjustment’ but seeing as all newborn babies do is eat, sleep, poo and cry how difficult could it be! After all I hadn’t had much sleep during the latter part of my pregnancy so I could cope on just a few hours, right???

Sleep Deprivation

People always warn you that you don’t get much sleep with a newborn but I don’t think you can ever really be prepared for the actual reality of that.
I didn’t sleep for a whole 3 days during labour/birth but somehow you manage to get by on pure adrenaline. When you don’t have that surge of adrenaline anymore the lack of sleep is HARD!

Generally I am getting by on about 2-3 hours sleep a night and that’s if I’m lucky. The best night I had two 3-4 hour stints, and although I’d generally describe E as a ‘good baby’ we’re currently going through a phase of keeping mummy awake ALL night. She also tries to keep daddy awake too but he seems to be able to turn off his baby sensors at night. Yes, I’m a little bit jealous!

Baby blues

The midwives warn you that the so called baby blues can hit a few days after birth. It’s no wonder after such a massive high that there is going to be the inevitable come down and yes it did happen to me. It also happened to my husband and we spent the first few days sharing hugs and tears… Some down to pure exhaustion of what we’d just been through, elation of the perfect thing we’d created and anticipation of what was to come.

However, apart from numerous warnings about how to look out for signs of post-natal depression, the rollercoaster of emotions that a new mum experiences seems to be glossed over.

I know I’m not suffering from PND but I’ll quite openly admit that I’m finding it hard to cope emotionally – and it gets so much worse at night.

My beautiful daughter is the best thing to happen to me and I want to be the perfect mum, but it’s hard.

Hearing your baby cry and not being able to do anything is perhaps one if the most heartbreaking things there is.
Usually it’s just hunger, a nappy change or just the need for a cuddle but when it’s 3am in the morning and none of these things work, then it’s quite easy for the tears to flow yourself.

Not alone

Although at stupid o clock in the morning it might seem like you’re the only person going through this, don’t forget there are plenty of other mums in the world experiencing the same thing – none of us are perfect!!

I was really pleased to read this blog the other day by Giovanna Fletcher (Tom from McFly’s other half).

I could very well have written the post myself, as I’m sure could thousands of other women and it’s very refreshing to read a ‘celebrity’ mum story that makes her sound like a real human being – it doesn’t happen that often!!

Being a mum is amazing and the good feelings generally outweigh the negative experiences but one shouldn’t forget how difficult it can be, particularly for a first timer like me.
I’m just so glad I’ve got the support of my wonderful husband and my family and friends and when I look at the face of my beautiful little girl I know it’s all worth it!

The last leg

Labour – part ii

19th March – sometime in the evening

By this point I had totally lost track of time, and just willing it to all be over.

Have you ever seen the episode of Friends where Ross and Rachel are in the hospital and all those other couples come and go while they are still waiting for something to happen?  Well we felt exactly the same at this point!  We’d already got through about 4 different shifts of midwives and in the other rooms we could hear various crying babies and wondered exactly when ours would make an appearance!

I think it was during the diamorphine induced grogginess that I had my waters broken for me, as they were just not budging!

On further examination I hadn’t dilated much further than earlier that morning – apparently my uterus wasn’t contracting strongly enough to make anything happen quickly so they decided to hook me up to the drip that they use to induce labour which would hopefully speed things up a bit!

It was at this point that I also decided to go all out and ask for an epidural.  They told me that on the drip the contractions would feel much worse than they already did and although the diamorphine helped to take the edge off, I knew I wouldn’t be able to get through the rest of labour without something much stronger!

I felt like I was wired up to almost everything… I had the drip in my right arm, blood pressure monitor on my left, contraction and heartbeat monitor on my body and now the epidural rigged up in my back.  I also had a slight raise in temperature so I was given antibiotics intrevanously through the drip too – I really did have everything possible!!

I had previous reservations about epidurals as I’d heard that they could lead to loss of feeling in the legs and that I may not be able to stay as active as I wanted to however after having one, I would totally recommend it to anyone! My epidural wasn’t quite as effective as it could have been – according to the anaesthetist I have a rather deep back which meant he couldn’t quite get the epidural in the right position, so instead of completely numbing my lower half, I probably had around 30-40% feeling.

20th March – early hours

The epidural worked okay for the next few hours but after that I think my body just became immune to the effects and I had to control my pain with gas and air as well.  The midwives were concerned that the epidural was pretty much useless now so they decided to give me another shot of diamorphine (half the earlier dosage) as they knew I’d need something to help with the pushing.

At around 7.20am I was now dilated enough to start pushing.  I don’t remember pushing for that long but it took a good hour and half before I finally got baby E out!  It was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done  and although I was drugged up with the diamorphine, it still felt like a pretty traumatic experience.  After I’d been pushing for a while and nothing seemed to be happening, a doctor was summoned into the room and I learnt afterwards that they were taking precautions as they thought that I was likely to need a forceps birth.  As it was, I was duly determined to get the baby out without any intervention and after a few final, horrificly painful pushes – 25 hours after labour officially started – baby E arrived at 08.54am!

Relief and a million other emotions

Baby E was put straight on my chest after delivery – blood, goop and all – but I wasn’t complaining – she was perfect!!

At this point I was also conscious of the fact that my husband J was pretty much recovering from a panic attack – I could hear noisy breathing and crying and he was telling me that he had pins and needles in his face, which he didn’t think was possible!
Seeing what I had just been through in the last two hours must have been a pretty traumatic experience for him – although I was the one experiencing it, I don’t think I’d like to watch it, so I have every ounce of respect for him to have gone through that – and not faint at the sight!!

J was absolutely brilliant throughout the whole labour – I am so glad he was there to support me and I’ll be forever grateful to him for holding my hand at the worst moments.  And apparently I didn’t even swear at him and tell him that this was all his fault – he’s counting himself very lucky!!

Last minute emergency

Unfortunately after baby E arrived the drama wasn’t completely over.  Following the delivery I had the injection to safely deliver the placenta but because of the very long labour I continued to have quite a lot of blood loss.  As quick as she was placed on my chest, E was taken away, I heard someone say ‘push the red button’ and a siren sounded in the room.  Before I could work out what was going on, the room had filled with around 15 people, all swarming around me. I didn’t really know what was going on but it was pretty scary. I was still groggy from the diamorphine and combined with post labour exhaustion I was in my own little world. Turning my head I was conscious that E was now wrapped in a towel and had been handed to J. They looked so lovely together and I’m so glad it have me something to focus on.
The ’emergency’ seemed to go on forever but in reality it was probably about 5 or 10 mins and all the people in the room dispersed just as quick as they’d appeared!
Thankfully the blood loss had been stopped and I was on the road to recovery!

The only other thing I needed was a couple of stitches and I could now concentrate on my beautiful daughter and our brand new little family!

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Radio silence

So I’ve not posted for over two weeks – of course that can only mean one thing… she’s here!!

After moaning in my last post that I had experienced somewhat of a false labour, the real thing got underway that evening!

Although my labour started on the evening of 18th March, Baby E didn’t arrive until the morning of 20th March – so my instincts when I first fell pregnant had been spot on (see my prediction in my earlier post here)

So here’s the rundown of how it happened – I’ll cover it in two parts as otherwise it will end up being a rather EPIC post!

Labour – Part i

18th March – 11.30pm 

I’d gone to bed about 9pm that night, and having snoozed for a couple of hours found myself waking up with similar pains that I’d experienced the night before.  Knowing that it hadn’t led anywhere the previous night, I declined to wake up hubby and just keep an eye on them and see how they felt.  I also started timing them on an iPhone app.

19th March – 2am

After a few hours they had definitely got worse so I decided to wake up hubby and get him to strap me up to my tens machine.  I didn’t particularly rate it at first but I warmed to it eventually and it did actually did help me through the first few hours.  I believe you can buy tens machines quite cheaply however I had decided to just hire mine.

You can hire them from Mothercare or Toys r Us amongst others, but the site I used was TeNS Medical Services.

I used a Mama Tens unit and it cost £21.95 for a seven week hire period (for that you get the unit, a spare set of batteries, one set of electrodes, a lanyard to hang the machine round your neck and free return postage – which reminds me, I must send mine back tomorrow!)  It might not work for everyone but I think it was worth the money for the initial stages of labour.

We monitored the contractions together and at 3am we decided that they were close enough together to give the hospital a call.  However they didn’t seem to think I was ready to be taken in, so they advised me to have a warm bath or carry on using my tens machine and call back when I was having 3 or 4 contractions in the space of 10 minutes.

19th March – 5am

The contractions were now much closer together so I gave the hospital another call and this time they said it was okay for me to go in – so in a slight daze we gathered together all our bags, jumped in the car and off we went.   We only live 10/15 mins drive from the hospital so at that time of the morning it didn’t take us long to get there.

We got checked in and then taken into an assessment room, where someone came to examine me.  I was told that I needed to be at least 4cm dilated to be classed as being in established labour so fingers were crossed that I had reached this stage and wouldn’t be sent home.

Aaaargh, only 3cm!! 

However the midwife reassured me that it was a ‘very good 3cm’, my waters were fit to burst and that it surely wouldn’t be long before I was in established labour so they let me stay!  My next examination would be in around 4 hours, so they offered to run me a nice warm bath – which I couldn’t wait to get in!  Our bath at home is very leaky so I hadn’t really been able to enjoy a good long soak in ages so even a hospital bath felt like a real treat!

19th March – 10.30am

Following the bath, I had some cornflakes and orange juice brought in for me which I munched away on whilst bouncing on an exercise ball.  I was determined to get over 4cm before the next exam!  The pain was getting much worse at this point, with much stronger contractions so I was so pleased to  see the midwife arrive for my next examination.

5cm!!  Woohoo!!  Baby was definitely on her way!!

They asked me what I had planned re pain relief so being optimistic I asked if the birth pool was free and it was!  So off we went across the corridor into a very pleasant looking room, with a giant hot tub!!  Well there were no bubbles of course, but with a comfy sofa for hubby and some lovely mood lighting I was actually pretty excited at this point (yes, I know I’m a bit weird).  I didn’t have a bikini top or anything with me so I just decided to strip off and jump in…  when I got in, it was a bit weird… I couldn’t really get into a comfortable position but the warm water felt good.  For some reason I couldn’t quite envisage having my baby in the pool so I just treated it like a posh bath!  It’s a good job really as if I’d stayed in the water for the duration of my entire labour I would have been slightly wrinkled!

19th March – sometime in the afternoon…

Having spent a few hours in the birthing pool suite, basically just trying to breathe through the pain I decided that it was all a bit too much and I wanted more pain relief… This was where all my good intentions flew out the window.   When I wrote my birth plan, I had obviously been very optimistic as I had planned on giving birth with just the help of gas and air.  My mum had done it so surely I could manage it too… my pain threshold is fairly high and how bad could the contractions be??

Well, I’m sure everyone is different but mine were excruciating!  Gas and air was never going to cut it this time so I took the next step up and opted for the diamorphine… I have absolutely no idea how long the effects lasted for…but I quite enjoyed the feeling of being spaced out for a time!!  Just a pity it didn’t last for the whole birth!!

There’s still a long way to go… I’ll carry on with the tale in part ii!