Baby goes to a wedding

So we took the I man on his first big outing last night – to a friend’s wedding.  I wasn’t sure how long I’d last with him, but I did really want to go and was thrilled that he’d come five days early so he was a month old for the wedding – ie. old enough to go.  I had been worried about noise early on, but in the last week or so have really gotten over that, as I realise he likes background noise.

It was a 2:30 ceremony and 6pm reception, up round Circular Quay and The Rocks, and we paid a stupid amount of money to park at the venue.  Of course, right on cue, dude wanted a feed just as the bride was getting out of the limo to walk into the ceremony, which was outside on a balcony.  It was pretty overcast and threatening rain, and in fact did rain as the ceremony drew to a close.  I just knew I couldn’t calm him for long enough, so I had to retreat round a corner and sat on a bench to feed him briefly.  It was a bit of a struggle, finding a dress that would fit my seemingly massive body (have I mentioned how much I hate how fat I am?!), let alone one that is suitable for feeding in, and then once I actually got the boob out and got him attached it began to rain!  And it was cold and windy, not the best environment for a young baby.  I finished feeding him and walked back to the ceremony just as they were being announced husband and wife – damn it, I missed it!

Once inside I settled in with a glass of champagne and a water, having already had an experimental glass of red wine a few days earlier which seemingly no adverse reaction from the little dude.  We found a nice comfy seat and he got a good feed, alongside another woman who was feeding her baby, a few months older than mine I think.  I just chilled out and watched the ferries coming in the Quay and marvelled at just how god damn ugly those buildings next to the Opera House really are – seriously NSW government, WTF?!

Eventually we were called for some photos, and the photographer went nuts over the little guy, we must have posed about 20 times!  He is a very beautiful baby though, if I do say so myself… soon after we all retreated to what we were assured was a ‘baby-friendly’ pub.  It turned out to be a rather large and warm ‘old man’ pub, pretty noisy with everyone talking at the tops of their voices, but the little dude slept in his pram the whole time, it was amazing!  Of course, as luck would have it, he woke just as we were leaving for the reception, which was about five minutes walk away, so I ended up carrying him most of the way.

We arrived at the fabulous venue, climbed the million stairs, and discovered a very pleasant extra room specially set aside for chilling out and baby/breastfeeding stuff.  I set to some marathon feeding and didn’t manage to really get into the reception room until after the starter had been and gone.  Luckily husband brought me my plate – seafood!!  Oh I can’t tell you how freaking amazing the oyster was, or the smoked salmon – I’d forgotten how much I missed all that stuff, yum!  Eventually I made it into the reception where we were served the main and the little guy slept in his pram the whole way through that, so I actually got to eat my meal in peace for once (delicious marinated barramundi, plus the mushrooms from the boys steaks, which they didn’t want).  Since having this baby I’ve never really been full, I’m constantly ever so slightly hungry.  So I just keep eating what’s there.  When the speeches began, and most people were a bit drunk, the little man awoke and wanted boobie.  I just couldn’t be bothered going to the room, and I wanted to hear the speeches (which went on a long time – never seen so many speeches at the one wedding).  So I just draped my scarf over my shoulder and discreetly latched the little man on and happily fed him as we listened to the speeches, it was great.

The rest of the night he slept on me, and husband, and at one point I relented and passed him to the best man who seemed somewhat less drunk than everyone else and I know he’s had a few kids and knows what he’s doing.  The baby didn’t wake up at all and husband and I got in a bit of dancing and even went outside for a very sneaky smoke!  I didn’t smoke a whole cigarette, just a few drags – again, so good, I really miss it!  But I’d never take it back up again, especially while feeding and just having babies, I wouldn’t want him exposed.  I held the little man for the rest of the night, alternating between the private room and the reception.  People were really trashed, and I didn’t like having him around them, but it was really harmless in the end.  It was great sitting quietly feeding him, listening to the ridiculously daggy ipod selection and watching the light show on the Opera House, the flames along the water and the ferries going back and forth under the bridge.  As much as I hate Sydney, that was quite cool.  I heard Toto’s Africa starting up in the reception room at one point and I just had to go out there as I knew everyone would be going crazy, especially husband and all his mates.  The little dude was chilled out but he looked like he might be waking up and I thought it was because it was so loud, but then a couple of songs later ‘woop, there it is’ or whatever it is, that hip hop from like 15 years ago started up, massive bass, and the little man just passed right out to that!

Eventually we go out of there about midnight, and although husband was a bit, let’s say ‘difficult’ on the way home and when we arrived, all in all it was a total success.  Husband was awesome during the day and evening really, looking after me and making sure I had what I needed.  It was just that tail end where he got a bit stupid, but that happens, and it all worked out in the end.  I don’t think the little man has suffered any adverse effects as a result of such a long, loud outing.  I don’t like driving with him, as he cried all the way home too last night, but it’s got to be done.  Again, I felt terrible that he was crying and I had to keep driving, but eventually he went quiet.  Although that made me feel even more guilty because I thought, ‘did we just make our baby cry it out?!  Oh no!’  I think he’s okay though.

One month on

I can’t believe it’s been a whole month since the little dude’s birth.  It’s been longer than a month actually, but this is the first time I’ve had two hands and enough time to sit down and write a blog post.

The first week I more or less didn’t move from the bed, under strict instructions of the midwife.  I think I probably went out to the lounge two or three times in total.  It was great though, being waited on during that time!  Husband of course ran himself ragged, forgot to eat or look after himself in any way.  My mum stayed for the first three days, then headed home to give us a few days just the three of us before husband had to go back to work.  It’s funny, that first week is something of a blur now.  It was nice knowing the midwife would come every day and I could chat to her about the baby and the birth and everything in between.  There was so much to learn!  In fact the whole thing is a massive learning curve.

I don’t really remember which day I finally went out of the house, but it was really only out the front door to give the little guy some sun as he had a fair bit of physiological jaundice.  The milk came in about day 3 – I was sitting on the bed chatting to a couple of friends who I’d planned to meet up with that night but obviously couldn’t head to the city, so they came to me.  And as I fed him, suddenly I began to leak milk from the other breast!  It was quite a surprise but pretty cool, nice to know things were happening as they should.  That night things really ramped up!  I got a fever, and my boobs swelled and were so hot and tender, it was crazy.  I took a really hot shower before bed and then crawled in shivering, which is really unlike me as usually I’m too hot.  But I wasn’t too concerned, as I knew this was what happens when the milk arrives.  That night was pretty uncomfortable and sweaty and fussy, and the baby was the same, just sticky and feeding furiously but feverishly.  I think we still had the heater on in those early days, so the room was warm and the air was dry, not a great combination.  It had settled down by the next day, and although I was still full, I was no longer painfully engorged and I only had sore nipples to deal with.

Speaking of breastfeeding, it hasn’t been the biggest challenge of all.  It’s been painful and confusing and a little difficult at times, definitely time-consuming, but overall I’ve managed pretty well I think.  I realise I’ve learnt a fair bit about breastfeeding.  I must admit it still pisses me off to read all this shit about how breastfeeding is an art, how you have to learn it, bla bla bla, it doesn’t come naturally.  WTF?!  It’s natural!  Why are we perpetuating this ridiculous myth about how much of a challenge breastfeeding is just because so many women are so out of touch with their bodies and nature that they need to feel validated about finding breastfeeding hard?  Seriously, get over it, nature is a bitch but that’s because we’re stuck in our heads, our intellect rules us, and we’re taught that pain and physical ordeal is unnecessary, unnatural and to be avoided or dulled.  It’s bullshit.  Yeah okay, my nipples were so freaking sore there for a couple of weeks, and they got better and then went tender again, but I’ve dealt with it.  Coconut oil saved me in the first couple of weeks, then my mum bought me this nipple cream by Weleda which is great.  And both that and the oil are odourless and tasteless and non-toxic, so don’t have to be washed off before feeding.

I’ve already dealt with some up-chucking, initially as a result of some reflux I think, mainly because, well, he’s a baby and babies have immature digestive systems, but I also realised I wasn’t burping him after feeds really.  I felt bad disturbing him as he’d always drift off so peacefully after a feed!  But then one day he really vomited, a huge amount of milk, and it was semi digested too, all curdled and a bit sour-smelling.  So I knew it would be like reflux, and I realised I had to be more disciplined about burping him, which is not such a logistical nightmare and doesn’t require special moves or equipment or fuss, it’s just a matter of making sure he’s upright after feeding and perhaps giving his back a little rub or pat to help the air bubbles make their way out.

I began feeding him in a more upright position and soon the reflux wasn’t really an issue, only lasted a couple of days.  But then the wind began, and that’s been quite hard, or was initially.  I did end up googling to look up what it meant when baby writhed and wriggled while still attached at the end of a feed and pretty much tried to rip my nipple off.  He also started crying a little while feeding, which I didn’t get at first.  Through some surfing, I discovered he probably had wind and there wasn’t a lot to be done really.  I just tried to be more vigilant about burping him more often and properly, so the air had less chance of getting down, which has worked somewhat.

At the end of the first week, baby I weighed his birth weight of 4kg, and by the end of the second he was 4.5kg.  The midwife and I were both very pleased.  He began to get longer and every day he’d change.  His jaundice went eventually by the end of the first week, and he started pooing and weeing quite nicely.  We were rather intrigued to note that his hair has remained reddish blond – must be the Irish in my family!  I suspect his hair will change colour shortly anyway.

So last Monday it was four weeks and a couple of days ago it was one calendar month since the birth.  I took him for a couple of walks, the first with husband, who carried him in the Ergo carrier, which has been a real godsend.  If I ever want him to sleep I just put him in it, and he is alseep in a few minutes, provided I’m moving about.  He’s awfully long and getting longer by the day, so I don’t know how long the newborn insert is going to suit, but we’ll see.  His first ever outing was to the bench near the lighthouse where we had walked the last time, while I was in labour, the day before he was born.  Then we went up the coffee shop a couple of times, which was good, nice to get out.  Then the other week I took him for his first trip in the car – to Double Bay to get some money out of the ATM and to the supermarket.  He slept all the way there, slept in the Ergo as I did what I needed to do, then cried all the way home.  I feel so bad hearing him cry and not rushing straight to his aid, but I know he makes it sound worse than it is.  I was very proud of myself for making it there and back without any real dramas!  I next took him to Bondi Junction to get his birth registered with Medicare and drop off some dry cleaning.  He was again good as gold on the way and during, but on the way back he cried all the way home again.

I discovered just the other week that I apparently have an ‘oversupply’ of breastmilk.  Pfft, whatever.  I don’t think there is any such thing, not in the long term, and I’ll explain why.  I’m demand feeding the little man because I know he will feed when he needs it and will in turn regulate my milk.  So if too much is coming out and choking him or causing him to make that clicky sounding suck, it’s because it’s not bloody established yet!  I read all this shit about women having too much or not enough milk, and worrying about baby getting foremilk or hindmilk or whatever, and I just think, FFS, why worry about this crap before the milk has even regulated itself and before baby has settled in and sorted out what’s what.  Baby knows, the body knows, chill the fuck out already people!  Okay okay, I know this is probably the ideal and women do have serious issues breastfeeding and I’m bloody lucky because my body is working so well with my baby etc etc… yeah, true I guess, but I do believe that just relaxing, not getting pent up about things, trusting in nature, and taking care of yourself can really go a long way to sorting stuff out.  I know the little dude’s latch isn’t fantastic, yeah, but he’s still fairly new at this, and he’ll get it.  I know he’s often not latching well because too much milk is flooding out and choking him, so he regulates it by attaching cautiously just to the nipple where he can control the flow.  My nipples are alright anyway, and I figure he’ll get it by 6 weeks or so and things will settle.  I must admit, I was heartened by reading The Feminist Breeder’s six week update on her daughter (I guess she’s a couple of weeks older than my I man) all about how the baby has just switched into this other ‘happy’ mode after having some issues not dissimilar to what I has gone through.  That’s where I worked out about oversupply actually.  I’m not expecting miracles, don’t get me wrong, but I know this will pass and dude will have more moments of lucidity and unbroken sleep (and in turn we will too!)

Birth story: part 3

Continued from part 2

I thought, surely the head must be visible after all this.  It seemed like so long that my body had been pushing, and R had even said that I should try pushing on top of the involuntary push, which was relatively satisfying.  It took a while to get the hang of the breathing and sounds needed to accompany a good push.  I was confused by R’s direction, because on the one hand she said ‘don’t hold your breath’ which made sense, but on the other hand she said, ‘don’t let the energy escape in your breath or noise,’ or something like that, it seemed that I couldn’t quite get it at first.  But when I did get it, I knew.

Finally the pain in my pelvis eased, but was quickly replaced by another debilitating pain, all around my waist.  R said this was the uterus fatiguing, which kind of made sense given I’d been having contractions for over 36 hours now.  I think there was a point here where I really became strong and focused.  Perhaps it was the pushing, or the fatigue of my amazing uterus that had been going for so long without a break, but I just knew how close I was and I wasn’t going to give up!

But why wasn’t R saying, ‘oh, look, there’s the head,’ or ‘you’re so close’.  Maybe she did say I was close.  I could see her shining her torch into the water but saying nothing, just helping me push when my body began pushing.  I can’t say I ever had an ‘urge’ to push as such, it was more that my body was already pushing, so I just did more on top.

I changed position to my knees, leaning forward over the edge of the pool, and Mr Chewbacca was there again.  I had renewed energy at this point for some reason, changing position was a lot quicker and easier than it had been before because I felt more in control and I knew I was making progress.  I pushed a bit in this position, and had the urge to be more upright, as I’d read is common as the baby is close to crowning.  R then suggested moving back to the semi-reclining position, which I wasn’t totally keen on because I liked the upright idea, but then I remembered that I didn’t see myself giving birth on all fours, it didn’t seem like me, and I liked the idea of baby just coming out in front of me.  I got the sense that me being back in that position was easier for R too because she was probably thinking about whether baby might need help breathing etc, given the GBS element.  Not that she’d ever have asked me to change position for her, I just had that thought.  I went back on my back and it felt right.

I was still feeling a little confused because no one had said they could see the head yet, but I was sure I could feel it right there!  Apparently the water was too murky to see that much, but R obviously knew it was there because soon she said to reach down and feel for the head.  I felt it, but wasn’t sure if it was the hair or the membranes still as it felt quite silky and smooth.  I really needed that motivation, especially as when I felt it I was surprised it wasn’t out more.  It felt like the width of the opening was about a centimetre, yet before I’d felt with my hand it seemed like five times that.  I kept going, really giving it everything and beyond what I thought was possible.  I pushed so hard, it was very empowering!  There was a moment of relief and pleasure just towards the end of each push.  I remember Mr Chewbacca saying to me I sounded like I was enjoying myself at one point (I wasn’t, but I guess the noises were similar and he was probably thinking of Orgasmic Birth.)  R said I should feel for the head again and this time it was about a quarter to a third out, or at least that’s what it felt like.  I could feel the hair, it was so close!  I’d felt it going in and out a few times, but this wasn’t disheartening as I knew the more it went in and out, then better I’d stretch and the less likely I’d tear.  I thought about all those people who breathe their babies out and couldn’t understand how that is possible – if I hadn’t pushed on top of my body’s involuntary pushes, I’d have been there another six hours at least!  It was so great to be pushing out this head, and it really wasn’t painful, especially compared to the pain of the contractions, pelvis and my waist.  I felt the perineum stretch so easily, it didn’t sting, no ring of fire or burning, just stretching like a piece of tight elastic.  It did sting at the front, and I was convinced I was tearing around my clitoris and urethra but I so didn’t care, I was almost there and that stinging was such normal, localised pain, it was nothing really.

I knew when the head was out, and everyone was oohing and aahing, standing around the bottom of the pool.  I think I waited for the next contraction before I pushed out the shoulders, and then the body slid out with a rush and everyone gasped and cheered and I heard J burst into tears, maybe S too, I’m not sure.  Someone said it was 7:57pm.  It was an intensely emotional moment.

R lifted him from the water and began unravelling the cord which was twice around his neck and once around his body.  I was so calm, and I helped pull it away and held him as he cried almost straight away.  His body was purplish, his head slightly paler, because of the cord, but he cried robustly and loudly, not because he was shocked or traumatised but because he needed to clear out stuff from his mouth and lungs.  I massaged his little hands as I remembered that might help stimulate him, not that he really needed it that much.  Someone had a warm towel which was put over him and immediately became wet but the bath was warm and I kept him semi-submerged.

As I looked at the baby and said hi for the first time, I realised it was a complete stranger.  I didn’t know this person, yet it was my child and had come out of me.  Mr C was overwhelmed of course, and we just looked at our baby and he said how proud he was of me and all sorts of other things, it was amazing.  I realised we didn’t know the sex – ‘shall we see what we’ve got?’ I said to Mr C before lifting the wet towel and seeing a little penis.  Mr C commented on his big testicles and I laughed and explained about the hormones.

It was extraordinary how quickly the atmosphere in the room changed, at that moment of birth, and how I suddenly came back into myself and it was like none of the previous hours of labour had even happened.  I talked to him and said how keen he was to be here, made lots of silly jokes about various noises he made, and I think he very quickly got hiccups, which he’d had throughout the last trimester, at least once a day in the last couple of months.

R pulled out a tube attached to the oxygen cylinder and asked Mr C to wave the end of it in front of bub’s nose, just to help him get the breathing thing down pat, although his Apgars were 9 and 9.  We could see that the top of his head had the imprint of the cervix on it, and also some lines that R said could be my ribs.  It was a this point we speculated he may have been breech and actually turned during labour, which would explain why it took so long from when the contractions ramped up.

I soon began to feel a dull pain in my tailbone, which got more uncomfortable and I mentioned it to R who said it was probably a contraction for the placenta.  She held the cord and said to push with the contraction, and a little bit of cord came out, plus some blood, and I think the big clot was out by then (it was huge, like a big blobby slab of liver!).  The pool was very dark with blood and fluids, but I felt totally fine, and R said the placenta had detached but was probably just sticking in the cervix and to be patient.  Shortly I had another contraction, but still no placenta.  I think it wasn’t until the third or fourth that I really pushed and out it came as R said, ‘remember it has no bones, it’s easy’.  She was right of course.

The placenta was huge!  R made almost double the amount of placenta pills from it as she would normally.  We looked at it, and it seemed very dark red, much darker than I remembered S’s had been.  I could see some calcification in it, and R carefully spread it out in a kidney dish and pulled out the membranes for everyone to see.  Mr C had a feel of the cord and posed for a photo pretending to eat the placenta.  It was so great that everyone was so fascinated, as R showed both sides and explained how it would have been attached to the wall of the uterus.  Mr C in particular found it really interesting I think, and yet again showed how awesomely non-squeamish he is.

By then the cord had stopped pulsating a while ago, and I said Mr C should cut it, so R put on the plastic clamp next to our boy’s future belly button and some scissor clamps a few inches beyond and Mr C cut it.  Our baby didn’t seem to mind that much, although he did happen to cry a bit around the time it was cut, but I’m not convinced he was too bothered by it being cut, he was more just a bit grumpy because the pool was cooling right down. That and just having been born were, you know, pissing him off just a little bit.

I was in the pool for about an hour after the birth, and was helped out and stepped across to the couch, pre-prepared with plastic sheets and towels.  I had warm towels covering me and baby, which was lovely, and I felt pretty good, not really light-headed, but definitely hungry.  It was then I remember how many times my tummy had rumbled during labour, even during the most intense contractions.  I drank some sickly sweet red grape juice for the sugar and ate some strawberries and orange, before my mum made me some eggs and I began to feel more on this planet.  It was kind of nice to have people getting things for me and not have to even reach for my glass of water.

My little boy began to suckle finally, as I’d offered him the breast in the pool but he was too busy crying and clearing out his lungs.  He yawned within moments of being born, and I thought it was because he was tired from that epic journey, but R said it’s more likely he’s doing it for the extra air, which makes sense, as that’s what yawning is after all.

We set about getting him dressed, and Mr C was on deck to put on his first nappy and outfit, which he was very nervous about but managed perfectly of course.  I reminded R we should weigh him first, and we did and he was 4kg exactly and measured 50cm long with big hands and feet.  His head was a nice 35cm, which is probably why I found the crowning part somewhat more manageable.

R examined me to find I had no tears, not even a graze, which was amazed at because I’d felt such stinging at the front.  J and S had to go, as it was about 10pm by now, so we said goodbye and soon R suggested I head to the shower and rinse off, then to bed, which had been prepared for leaks with a plastic sheet and towel under the sheet.  I sat down in the ridiculously small bath and used the hand shower to rinse myself.  The crazy big adult diaper thing R had brought was really weird, but did the job well.  I was finally tucked up in bed with my little boy and my amazing husband, the most incredible man in the world.  If the Dude turns out like his dad I will be so proud.  I don’t remember much about that first night, I don’t know if I slept or if Mr C slept, despite us both having little sleep over the previous 36 hours or more.  I still can’t believe I did it, I actually had my baby at home with no intervention, I stood my ground, I knew what was right, and I made it, perfectly.

If that wasn’t enough, read the postscript, aka what I learnt from this birth.