Thursday, 7 April 2011

Our first separation

If you follow my blog regularly you'll know that I freelance as a marketing professional, yep, that's right, I'm a pro (in the non red light sense of course) working mainly from home.

I agreed on a job back in November that would whisk me away to Barcelona for 6 days in April, glamorous? Not really, I'll be inside a convention centre for the most part.

At the time, I pondered the impact leaving Belle would have and concluded it would be minimal, we needed the money. Besides, April was ages away, Belle would be nearly 10 months old and by then, I could probably do with the break.

Well, April has arrived, I fly on Sunday.

To say I'm apprehensive about the separation is an understatement. My stomach does actual flips, like a dolphin at Sea World, when I think about leaving her.

I had imagined that she'd be able to say mummy by now. She said it for the first time on Sunday but we think it was a fluke. I had imagined seeing her on Skype and her waving 'mummy mummy' in a missing me kind of way, but knowing what I know now, she'll probably have no interest and just try and chew the laptop.

I'm scared. For many reasons and it's making me very confused.

I'm scared that she won't miss me. That the moment we are reunited she won't be phased by it.

I'm worried that her routine will get messed up and I'm fretting that'll I'll miss something. She is so close to crawling right now.

James has the whole week off with her so I'm sure all of the above will be in order and if I do miss something there will be photographic evidence.

On the flip side I'm also concerned that I'll enjoy it. The moment on the plane when I sit there, uninterrupted, listening to music and reading Heat magazine really appeals to me. Will I feel guilty if I do enjoy it? What if it makes me want to go back to full time work?

Mainly, I'm worried that they will do fine without me.

Choosing to work, stay at home or work from home once you've had a child is the most heart wrenching decision, whatever your situation.

I'm trying so hard to find a balance by freelancing and think this will be my ultimate test.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

The Gallery: Mothers Love

One of my biggest regrets is the lack of photographic evidence we have of my pregnancy and our first moments as mother and daughter.

I hated what I looked like at the end of my pregnancy and post birth, I was stupidly adamant that no photos be taken of me.

I was quietly suffering with the trauma that had been Belle's birth, and was struggling to breastfeed, I hated myself, why would I want photos of that?

I'd like to get a hold of myself then and shake her a little. You never get those moments back. I kick myself now that we don't have more of these images of us to treasure.

This is one of the very few I have of Belle and I in our first weeks together, embracing in a very special moment, which is why it is my entry for this weeks (and my first) Gallery at Sticky Fingers. I think it is a true capture of a 'mothers love'.

Monday, 4 April 2011

My Breastfeeding Battle

It's strange isn't it, when you become a mum and meet others, there are two stories you need to hear.

One, the birth, and two, their breastfeeding story. I find both so interesting, as not one is the same.

I've already shared with you my birth story, so how about the breast bit? Here goes...

I was convinced I would be a six monther. That's what the books told me to do, it was the best thing for Belle, so that was that!

I've got a picture of the first time Belle fed from me. I don't remember it as I had just come round from a general anaesthetic, which makes me sad, but she took well to it.

After a successful day and night of breastfeeding I was about to be discharged from hospital when they noticed Belle was slightly drowsy, and wasn't opening one eye completely. After a horrid foot prick test they told me I couldn't have been feeding her correctly as her blood sugars were low.

I was devastated. All through the night I had been asking them to check that we were doing it right, and they had said yes. I was so confused.

It was decided Belle would be cup fed to 'top up' the breast in order to increase her sugars. I was expressing on an industrial electric pump, if anything is going to make you feel like a cow it's one of those bad boys! She also had to have some formula.

Cutting a long story short, after 2 days and 2 nights of no improvement they tested her using an IV rather than the foot prick test. Her poor little feet, they had been battered and bruised, I'll never forget all those tiny little plasters covering her soles.

The test results came back from the lab, she was fine. Blood sugars were normal. Although we never got an official apology or explanation, they said that the machine being used for the prick tests may have been faulty and had been sent off the ward to be recalibrated. At that point I didn't really care, my baby was healthy, we could finally go home, albeit still slightly confused, did this mean I had been feeding her correctly the whole time?

She slept on the way home, and didn't seem to want feeding for a while. Once she did, she didn't want to stop. 10mins on 15mins off, for the rest of the day and evening. It got to midnight and she was screaming, so much so I rang the ward.

I explained the feeding pattern (as I had written down length, time and side of every feed) and she said it sounded as though she hadn't been taking anything. I went into panic mode, thinking I had starved my child and I was the worst mum in the world. She said try again and if that doesn't settle her bring her back. I had failed within 12 hours.

Thankfully one more go seemed to do the trick and she fell asleep for a few hours. I rang the ward back and they said a midwife would be sent round first thing.

I did nothing other than stare at her and pump for those few hours she was asleep. Praying that she had taken some milk. Praying that the midwife would get here soon. When she woke I bottle fed her my expressed milk, at least that way I could see she had fed something. Then the 10 minutes on 15 minutes off started again.

The midwife came at 9am and was greeted by myself, balling my eyes out at the front door. She watched me feed her, with a massive smile she said, 'you're doing fine honey'. Again I burst into tears, I was doing it fine. The angel sent from heaven midwife had set my mind at ease, I was doing fine.

3 weeks went by and Belle was feeding every hour, day and night. I was sore, sleep deprived, not enjoying my beautiful baby. We tried everything else before feeding when she cried, nappy, cuddles, too hot, too cold, the car, but every time, all she wanted was milk.

Within those 3 weeks I'd sent James to the kitchen to sterilise the bottles and get the formula several times, but with each, I'd run in crying 'no, I can't give up, I'll keep going.'

I went to the breastfeeding councillor and she showed me different positions to feed her. This didn't work, still she was screaming for food every hour.

We couldn't go out, I felt like a prisoner, we were stuck between the sofa and the moses basket. Feeding every hour.

It was suggested she was using me as a dummy, so against my will, we tried her with one. She just spat it out.

I was sad, I felt lonely. James was amazing but at the end of the day he had to go to work, and needed his sleep. So Belle and I stayed downstairs at night grabbing an hour between multiple, painful, tearful feeds.

By week five I gave in. I couldn't do it any more. I hadn't had more than 2 hours sleep at a time and was struggling with not only feeding but getting over the emotional trauma I had suffered from a difficult birth.

I beat myself up about it for months, I felt like a complete failure, a bad mother and a useless woman. I had tried so hard.

But now I stand firmly by my decision to stop breastfeeding. It was the right thing to do for my family.

I was a different woman, I was happy, enjoying my newborn like I should have been.

I know this is going to ruffle some feathers but I can't stand it when women preach about breastfeeding. If it works for you, congratulations, that's great, but just because you found it easy does not mean it's that way for everyone. Please do share, encourage and support breastfeeding, but do not judge.

I plead any breastfeeding preachers, just spare a thought for the women who tried, with all their heart's, but couldn't do it, for whatever reason. Please don't make them feel like failures, they are great mums too.

This really made me laugh

Having a bad Monday? Then check out this gorgeous little bubba. Guaranteed to make you laugh!

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Learning (by default)

They say you learn something new everyday.

This phrase has never been more true since having Belle.

Not only am I learning how to be a mummy but I'm still learning how to be a grown up.

Yes, I am 25 years old, I should have that down by now, however I have always been slightly domestically challenged, unless you count doing the Tesco shopping online, I'm ruddy good at that.

So every once and a while I thought I'd share with you...

What I've learnt (by default) this week...

1. Do not wash the kitchen tiles with a dripping cloth when there are power points on the wall. It makes the points spark, then bang, then Daddy Bean get's angry concerned.

2. Make sure wipes are at the top of the changing bag. If you are discretely trying to mop up sick from your child whilst out in public it doesn't help if it takes five minutes of frantic digging to find the wipes. After which point everyone has noticed the crazy lady rather than the sicky baby.

3. Text back straight away. Just because you have answered a friends text in your mind doesn't mean that they will receive that reply telepathically, having a baby does not install this function, however useful it may have been. Friends will assume you have ignored them and will therefore make other plans.

4. Check pockets before putting trousers into the wash, and then the dryer. Must order James a new card, and wallet, oh, and driving licence... oops.

5. If you are going to sneakily check out the hotel you are staying at on-line whilst on a very important conference call make sure you turn the laptop volume off. It's a sure fire sign that you are not paying attention to the call when a promotional video with 'jazzy' music starts blaring down the line.

And that's just this week!

I've always been told that this side of me is endearing, hmmm, do you think they were just being nice?

What have you learnt (by default) this week?