Persephone: Parent

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My Body Did Not Fail…

You wouldn’t believe how much I want to say that and believe it. I guess I thought I’d gotten over my birthing failures but being surprisingly pregnant a second time, discussing and thinking about a second birth, obviously it’s brought it all back to me.

For a recap (and because the VBAC midwife confirmed what happened), I was induced at T+12 with artificial rupture of my membranes at about 7am ish. Somewhere around mid-morning or lunch, I was put on the induction drip due to nothing happening. Within 4 hours, I had still not progressed any further from 7am and the decision was made for C-section. Due to the induction, I was under constant fetal monitoring, which is restrictive in itself, but Elvis was a pickle and his heartbeat could only be picked up when I was lying on my side. I couldn’t even swap sides!

Meanwhile, the gas and air made me incredibly high. I have never taken any sort of drug before. Other than medically given anaesthetic for operations, paracetamol and alcohol! The first time I took co-codamol for a migraine, I passed out for two days! So, I think gas and air made me loopy. I can remember the room spinning. I can remember hubby and midwife maniacally laughing at me, spinning in a 60s type of vibe. It was all a bit psychedelic and flower-powery for me. I became convinced at some point that hubby was having an affair with the midwife we met that morning and he was never alone with. I don’t remember opening my eyes at all. I only realised that I was missing time when a song came on my ipod that I know off by heart and realised it was missing lines. The music from my ipod all got a dance-remix with heartbeats. I was not on this planet!

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Bumpity Bump

Is there some sort of rule when you’re pregnant? An unwritten one perhaps? One that says that everyone must name their unborn baby something? Some people choose something like Bean because it’s what their growing baby resembled on a scan. As someone who had a 7 week scan, I can attest that those 12 week babies look nothing like beans!

I completely understand that my actual naming of my bump is odd, but I do it because, personally I hate the term Bump. Am I the only one who gives the foetus an actual name? Elvis and Robin are not the true names of my toddler and foetus. Am I the odd one or are the people who call it Bump, Bean, etc?

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Pregnancy Yoga: Breathing Out the Pain

I started yoga last week and today we focussed on relaxation. During a deep relaxation technique we were told to think of pain, the worst pain you’ve ever felt, excruciating pain and then breathe it out. Then think of pleasure and breathe it in. To think of a stormy sea, thunder and lightning, dark gloomy skies and snow peaked hills, then lush green valleys, a calm ocean and bright blue skies.

It was all so relaxing,  I completely zoned out at some point. I lost track of time. I couldn’t hear the traffic or unfortunate building noise; I could hear only the instructor and CD. I left the whole session feeling so lifted and pain free.

Do you know what though? The pain I imagined, the pain I thought of that is the worst pain ever, it wasn’t the induced labour pains, the Braxton Hicks I had for nights before my induction. The pain I imagined wasn’t anything to do with the physical pain of major abdominal surgery. I briefly thought of the pain from initially breastfeeding. I had a few thoughts of the pain I felt every month when, once again, I started my period and had been failed by my body. The things that kept coming into my head on every exhalation were words.

Words that other people have said to me.

On every inhalation, I was repeating my mantra and on every exhalation I had another sentence, another remark that someone had made to me without probably any conscious thought, but never the less were words that hurt me, that stayed with me. They were words about me, words about my son, words about my parenting, words about my abilities, words about my choices, words about my weight, words about my failings. I could hear all of their voices – my mother and her insistence, my in-laws and their questioning, my friends and their criticism, my family members and a passing comment. I could list them all here, each instance that I vividly remember and they have all forgotten if they even knew that they had said those words to me.

But I don’t need to list them, because I breathed them out. I let go of them all. I will no longer keep a mental tally of how someone has upset me because I will just release it as simply as you release a breath. And I truly did feel so much better as I left yoga and headed to work. I felt so much lighter.

There’s still nothing I can do about worrying over labour, hoping for a VBAC. There’s still nothing I can do to organise my working hours and pay until I get some answers, but I can give up everything else.

The thing that is sticking in my mind though is that my pain is words. None of my pain that I hold on to is physical. I can barely remember what physical pain feels like (except for my pregnancy back pain), but I remember every single word. I become haunted by words and I doubt a lot of people know or understand that about me, but in the grand scheme of things, I can only change myself and not everyone else. So all of those people whose words I heard when told to imagine pain, maybe if they read and understand this, realise this about me, they may work to change themselves, but I have no power over that; I can simply breathe out what they say to me and refuse to let them hurt me, refuse to allow myself to become bitter. I am strong in my life. I am free.

~ P

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Can I give up Now?

For anyone’s information, this entire blog is now censored and amended to no longer be accurate to my thoughts and feelings for the sake of everyone else in the world as I am not deemed important enough to have feelings. So feel free to simply laugh at the post below.

The pains and aches are too much. It hurts to walk, not my pelvis anymore, my lower back. And my upper back aches when I try and relax my lower back. My bump has just got harder, like, overnight and it’s uncomfortable to lean forward. I’m tired all the time. 15 months ago, I was yearning for a time that Elvis would have an actual bedtime and when I would get a bit of time after he was asleep before I would go to bed. Now? Now, I would happily go to bed before him.

I can’t get a straight answer out of my bosses about my annual leave and I’m really worried that I’m going to lose a whole load of leave or be refused it. Meanwhile I’m trying to cling on until Christmas holidays. I’m beginning to doubt myself and the ability to last that long. I’ve already brought forward my help me date — I can’t deal with the 80 minutes of solid walking and hubby is happy to take his lunch ferrying Elvis and I around. I was hoping to not take advantage of his lunch hour, but now am hoping to at least the end of November before giving up.

Meanwhile, after a few pay cock-ups and a house move, money has become tight. We’re still paying the mortgage and bills at an old address, but no bills at the new house yet. We need to finish and sell the old house. I need that mortgage money to pay the nursery — especially with my impending maternity pay. I have never felt money be this tight and at least last time I had savings to help me out. Until we sell our old house, I do not have that financial security. But there’s nothing I can do to speed that up. I can’t shift the few boxes remaining. I can’t drive there and back, emptying the house. And I can’t paint the one damn wall that needs painting!

And I would really like all of these things sorted before Robin comes along (obviously the pain and feeling uncomfortable will).

I would really like to fast forward time!

~ P x

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Prep for Baby Robin

Okay because we’re currently opting to not find out if Robin is a he or she, I am planning for neutral and making everything white/cream. I figure that the second one has to be easier. We already have the Moses Basket, the toys, the pushchair, the safety gates, the weaning stuff, the steriliser, pump and bottles. I already have the maternity wear and nursing clothes.

Yet there are still things that we need to sort out.

  • Our Moses Basket is Blue. So for £2 I bought 2 cream sheets. I plan on using my neutral sleeping bags so only need the bottom sheet. If Robin messes both cream, she can spend a night on blue sheets.
  • I need to check the newborn gro-bag situation.  I have a feeling Elvis had a sailor and pirate one for under 3 months. Not very neutral! But does that matter? Do pyjamas matter if Robin’s a she, as she gets older? I’m definitely swaying more to shoving her in boys things because it’s just a colour and I have some lovely dark blue vests! As long as she has hair or looks like a girl. Obviously, all of this sorting of clothes is redundant if Robin’s a boy! Haha!
  • We need a new cot. This is a particular argument I’m having with my mum. She believes that by 18 months old Elvis should be in a bed. Robin, obviously, won’t need a cot straight away, so Elvis really should be in a bed. Yes, he might be, I argued back, he’ll be in his cot-bed — the one you (Nanny) bought as a birth present and should last until he’s 7/8. But, yeah I’ll take away Elvis’ belongings at the same time as I throw him through a complete loop and change his whole entire world, and only give Robin second hand goods. However, after making this decision, we found a second hand co-sleeper cot. But Robin won’t be in Elvis’ hand me down bed.
  • Nursing chair – hubby’s decided that he wants me to have one to help with feeds this time. So we went and bought one in our local kiddicare’s closing down sale. £70 reduced down from £180. I’m quite pleased with it and I already love sitting in it, photo editing on my Mac or watching TV. It rocks and everything. So does the footstool!
  • Although I love Elvis’ pushchair, his Gravo Travel System was rubbish for newborn. The carrycot was tiny and not suitable for overnight sleeping. He couldn’t fit by 7 weeks so was stuck in a car seat attached until he was 16 weeks, which worried me then with the 45minutes a day rule and worries me more with Robin. I have already sourced a Mamas and Papas pushchair that has a proper carrycot part to it with replaceable mattresses. Perfect for nappy or tummy explosions and sleeping whilst I run around after Elvis. It needs cleaning. But I do need to check the rain cover fits and clean it.
  • Clothes in general! A few months ago, before I got pregnant, I organised all of Elvis’ old clothes into age and divided it by boys and gender neutral. I was pleasantly surprised a few days ago when I looked at the vacuum sealed bags and have 2 filled with neutral. They need sorting and hanging so I can figure out what else I desperately need to buy.
  • Due to the opposite seasons, I already know that I’ll need some newborn snow-suits. It will be January after all and I got a nice second hand Olive and Henri one for just £5.
  • Newborn nappies! I think I should be okay for other toiletries like bum cream, wipes and bubble bath. Although this time I plan on using cotton wool and water for the first nappies. I never did with Elvis. I’d read somewhere that you shouldn’t use wipes and creams on the newborn skin (so no bath products either) which included cotton wool and boiled, cooled water. Well, I was having a hard enough time trying to function in those first few weeks without ensuring that there was some boiled water always ready. However, after a recent bout of nasty nappy rash for our little teething boy, I spent the weekend using water and cotton wool (not boiled water, just simple tap water) and I found it quite nice and easy to use. I assume that as long as I rinse out the pot each time and always use fresh tap water, it won’t matter if it’s been boiled. Theoretically it isn’t the water that’s the issue, it’s the bacteria left in the bowl, in my logic. Hopefully Robin has skin like Elvis — the only issue we have ever had was the fact that bubble bath made his cradle cap worse.
  • Find the newborn inserts for the baby carrier, car seat. Find the baby bath seat and maybe remove some of Elvis’ toys so he forgets about them. Luckily Nanny left his playgym and rocking chair which he barely used so Robin can have them with, ahem, little issue.

What am I forgetting? It wasn’t all that long ago!

Now, concerning gifts! I don’t mean this in any sort of cheeky way, like well, you bought Elvis a puschair, Nanny, spend the same on Robin! (although part of me thinks that would be fair), no I mean the personalised gifts. Elvis ended up with two name trains (where each carriage is a letter of his name) and a named truck. He has a personalised wall plaque with his birth details on. Oh, and a memory keeping journal. A small, delicate Noah’s ark, a silver plated dinosaur moneybox… That’s not including the comforter bought for him or the “Born in 2013” bear and photo frame. Or the dressing gown with his name on. Or the keyring and magic flannel with his name on.

I have no idea of the etiquette involved here – should family and friends buy the equivalent for a second? Is it all up to me? I’m not expecting it this time, which is why I bought a second hand cot when Nanny bought the cot, mattress, and changing unit for Elvis. We’re stealing the changer for Robin, but need a mattress. Should I expect, ask, enquire with Nanny?

Should you expect gifts for a second? Or does everyone think you have everything? And how can you have everything when the first born got personalised gifts?

Ignoring the financial aspect, if I’m already concerned about me treating them equally, how do I come to terms with my nearest and dearest not treating them equally? Although, on the other hand, if Robin doesn’t receive those gifts at least I get to pick the equivalent item myself. Right? Or, if no one buys the equivalent personalised gift second-time around, and I can’t afford to buy everything from the above mentioned gift list, can I tell Robin in a few years… what? No one thought of him/her? No one cared? Share the magic flannel, money box and “Born in 2013” teddy bear with Elvis?

~ P

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74 Weeks Old, 28 Weeks Pregnant

I have a photo for this pregnancy entry! (Elvis was much better behaved for these photos, and our next photo session is also going to be our Christmas ones!) Anywho, Elvis is 74 weeks old! He’s also just over 17 months old. It seems to have taken forever to get him from “a year” to “18 Months”. Not that time is dragging, far from it — there are only 7 weeks left until the Christmas holidays, which is hopefully when I finish work for another year. Haha! If I didn’t have 101 questions for my employer to answer. You’d think it would be easy having pretty much literally just returned from maternity leave; everything should be the same, right? Nope. We technically changed employer whilst I was on maternity leave for Elvis so they have decided to change all of the guidance (read: copied from another section of the UK where they have employees) so there are huge elements not even mentioned in the new guidance and new wording that throws up huge questions for me. My only real worry is that time is marching on and I have deadlines to request my maternity leave, deadlines to request annual leave. Oh, and making sure I get paid correctly and my childcare vouchers are paid promptly (I have very little faith in my pay being correct; it wasn’t last time).

On the pregnancy front, I am going through an exhausted phase. I could literally sleep all day and night. Last week, Elvis decided to take his daily 2 hour nap at nursery (I almost cried when I found out). Well, by 3pm, I gave up and put him down for a nap (he didn’t really nap) and I passed out in bed. I only got up when hubby got in. It’s the second or third time in 6 months that I’ve done it and I think it’s safer than me falling asleep on the sofa with Elvis running wild in the living room. Even now, I could just sleep. I guess that’s the benefit of Elvis still being so young (and loving his own sleep, routine and cot). My front pelvic pain has got a lot better. My lower back pain has not. I rang the physio to have a second appointment where she confirmed that my hip joint is locking with my spine as I walk (leading to me dragging my leg). She recommended to either use crutches, a hip belt that could make the pelvic pain worse, or to simply stop walking! Hubby would have killed me if I had turned up with crutches — he’s adamant he can drive me everywhere for the next 12 weeks!

 

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Breastfeeding is Easy Peasy

One of my biggest realisations since becoming pregnant this time is how much medical professionals lie to you during a pregnancy. It was heavily implied that pain relief and cesarean meant a baby couldn’t breastfeed or that breastfeeding, when done right, does not hurt. Or how about the fact that nipple creams and shields provide no benefit. And, as an article from The Guardian says, breastfeeding is natural, but that by no means makes it easy. The fact that the article is written from a father makes it all the more refreshing because if the point of this blog is to say that women, mummies to be are mis-led, then so are fathers. Far worse in some ways.

Maybe some people never have a problem. Maybe some never have a bad latch, never need cream or shields to help get through a bad few days or nights. Maybe some never get blisters, engorgement, mastitis or worse. Soon after I stopped breastfeeding Elvis, I discovered a milk bleb. Well, my milk was all gone and whilst there was no pain from it, I didn’t think it should just remain there until Robin comes along. I posted in a local bf group for advise as I had always healed up my milk blisters and blebs for Elvis feeding it out of me (blood blisters heal themselves eventually). A very good friend, pro-feeder of two kiddies, responded asking what a milk blister even was. So, I completely get that some mums, some babies just do it and they never have a problem. Some people get quick diagnoses of tongue tie and have feeding issues resolve. Some people have a baby that latch on perfectly straight away. It’s the same as how some babies become efficient feeders and take a feed in 5 minutes, others take an hour at the same age. Or how some babies self-wean, others need to be slowly decreased over a few months. But how come, in my experience, during pregnancy, professional people tell you about those later differences but not about the immediate ones?

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What I Learnt

First time around, doing all the reading and attending all the classes, I was under some huge pregnancy and parenting misguided notions, and I’m hoping that second time around I’ve learnt from those facts or helpful advice.

1. Having painkillers, epidural or an actual C-section is not the easy way. It is not the cowardly way either. It makes you no less of a woman, parent or human being (even if I do have some vagina jealousy — I am jealous of those who have given birth naturally).

2. Having painkillers, epidual or a C-section will not stop you from breastfeeding.  I swear, these things are the very reason I was so anti having them all. Every antenatal class, all the breastfeeding information made it sound like painkillers, etc would seriously hinder breastfeeding. I am in no way trying to say that they don’t have an effect on bf, but I successfully fed for 366 days and had pain relief, epidural and a C-section. I asked a friend the other day and she said she remembered feeling like that – her two children were C-sections and breastfed. Even worse, on my first meeting with the VBAC team, the midwife, after asking how I fed Elvis and how long for, then told me that a having a C section in general causes problems for breastfeeding. Did you not hear me, woman?

3. Babies who breastfeed will do so constantly, on demand, they will be clingy and only want Mummy for milk. Nope. I was so worried about getting a clingy baby just because I was feeding.  My son never rooted around for milk on me and has always had a streak of independence. I wonder if he can’t smell sometimes, because he truly never rooted. I watched 9 month old baby-friends get tired and root on their mums, never, ever happened with Elvis.

4. All babies have growth spurts. All babies will have sleep regressions. Well, I never noticed either in 15 months.

5. Formula fed babies sleep through the night quicker than bf. That’s funny! I did, in those first two months of sleep deprivation worry that my bf baby would never sleep through the night. At 4 months my bf baby was, my formula fed baby friends still aren’t at over a year. Even now I know toddlers 6 months older that have far more sleep issues that Elvis, now they’re all on cow’s milk so clearly it has nothing to do with formula versus breast, it’s just the person!

6. Babies cannot self wean from the booby before a year. Well, I stopped offering at 9 months and he didn’t ever ask for it (I did still force him twice a day!)

7. Everything passes. Everything gets better. In those first few weeks I truly couldn’t believe those things. People told me that after 2 weeks things would look up, then 1 month, then 2. Nope, it was never going to happen. I could not see that far away. I could not see how it would ever happen. Well, it did. I survived.

8. Dummies are awful, a human nipple and should be weaned by one. My son had the human nipple option and screamed when all he wanted to do was suck to sleep and he kept getting milk from me! As for weaning by 1, Elvis only has his dummy in a cot and is never allowed it elsewhere. He isn’t addicted to it, he doesn’t take it everywhere with him. He simply sleeps with it. How is that awful?

9. A C-section is awful, painful and, as it’s major surgery, will leave you bed-ridden and mentally scarred. A natural birth is easy and has no long lasting effects. Ummm, how about tears, stitches, being unable to sit down, forceps causing headaches. I know some mums who have issues regarding having had a C-section, but not me. It was the best thing for me and my baby at that point.

10. Every baby can take a bottle. Okay, we’re talking breastfed here and maybe, with enough practice they can. Maybe once you find the right kind of teat and you can express enough, or find the right formula that doesn’t upset their tummy. And maybe if you can get them to accept it from you, Daddy or a complete stranger. Maybe if you don’t have milk that needs flash boiling to stop it spoiling after a few hours even in the fridge. All that effort? For a night out? Dude, I have the rest of his life to have a night out, go to the cinema, so rather than figure all of that stuff out, I will not leave my baby for more than 3 hours at a time. And don’t tell me otherwise.

11. Some babies don’t like cuddling. I honestly thought that every baby wanted to be held. Elvis didn’t.

12. Breastfeeding is natural and won’t hurt if you’re doing it right. Really? So, just because something is natural means that you’re perfect at it straight off? Sex is a natural thing, right? The means to procreate is nature at it’s best, yes? So was your first time amazing? Did it rock your world? Did you get pregnant the first time you ever did it, of the first time you wanted to conceive, did you? Or did it take practice to become fantastic? Did it take time to get it right and make a life? So why should breastfeeding be fantastic and perfect straight away? Yes, babies are born with a suckling reflex, it by no means means that they can latch on perfectly straight away. Once established, feeding shouldn’t hurt, if it does, there probably is something that needs correcting. But at the beginning… nature isn’t perfect. And in that time where nature has an imperfection, where mum and baby are both learning something new, perhaps awful things occur, but no one mentions blood blisters, milk blebs, mastitis and engorgement before baby arrives, do they?

13. Something I wish that hubby had been a bit more aware of and I only told him about the other day – when a woman’s milk comes in, it can hurt. I could barely hold Elvis against my chest for a day or two because my breasts ached so badly. Hubby never realised this and didn’t try and take over a simple act of lifting him up to change his nappy.

I know that every baby is different and maybe Robin won’t sleep through as early. Maybe Robin will never learn to feed quickly. Maybe they will be clingy and only want me for milk. Maybe I will have a C-section again. But I survived one birth, newborn and year. I can do it again. The biggest difference that Robin will bring is I won’t pander to anyone else’s needs but my family. Maybe with an increased parenting confidence I will also find the confidence to tell people to butt out of our lives!

~ P

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Baby Envy

Firstly, Elvis and his tempers have gone! He is having trouble with his naps sometimes (dropping to 1 but length depends on time of day) but whatever his problems were they seem to have settled down. I think it was just the upheaval – the move, the changes in nursery, the house guests. I am so relieved. I mean, it does make me wonder if when Robin arrives, Elvis won’t have some sort of regression with his tempers, but that’s in another few months.

I’m trying to encourage Elvis to walk more. He loves walking and running, but if I have the pushchair he just wants to climb in it. I don’t really blame him. The only thing is I haven’t bought, and really don’t intend to, a double pushchair. I will try and get a buggy board, but he needs to be walking home from nursery in January/February. And it’ll be raining and snowing which will either encourage him because it’s fun or not! Am I putting too much faith in / pressure on him?

On an amazingly positive note, Elvis let me hold a baby! Back in July he wouldn’t even let me go near one. I was his. I knew that he would have to adapt to Robin, but I hoped he wouldn’t have that immediate jealousy. Well, he let me pick up and then comfort jiggle my friend’s 6month old. I think he’s also making steps with sharing, too. There’s hope for Robin!

No, there’s hope for all of us!

~ P

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25 Weeks and 3 Days Pregnant with 73 Week Old!

I’m really struggling this week. Even though we’re in October, it’s still as hot as summer. I mean it’s dark when I get up, dark before Elvis finishes his bath, but it’s still baking hot outside. Although at least I can dry all my washing outside! Whilst a lot of my pelvic pain has gone since my physio appointment, walking is still a pain. Couple the heat and walking pain with the nursery pick up and it’s exhausting me. I finish work at 12, walk home, get puschair, walk to nursery, get Elvis, walk home possibly via some shops and it’s been over an hour of solidly walking.

I then nap all afternoon out of exhaustion and feel crap all evening.

Meanwhile, my aches and pains are making me feel so distant from my son. When he was newborn, I struggled and daddy stepped up; Elvis loved Daddy far more than me. Fast forward to 16 months old and Daddy gets him dressed, Daddy gets him ready for bed, Daddy reads him bedtime stories. All I do is cook his meals, get him from nursery, wash his clothes, clean his dishes. At the moment I still have bathtime fun with him, but I’m becoming more and more hands off. I stuggle to bend over and pick him up. I feel like I’m losing my son and I’m only going to get bigger, more achey and even less hands on.

I started this post the other day (in preparation for my 25 week check) and literally overnight (from the 4th to 5th October) it has become freezing cold, rainy and stormy. So now, I am going to have to do that hour of solid walking in the cold and rain, without a proper coat yet and with barely any sleep. Didn’t I mention? Apparently, my body is doing that thing where it prepares you for your newborn by waking you every 3 hours, just to get you ready. I don’t need to be told, I don’t need to get ready, I did it a year ago! So, please fuck off, body, and let me sleep a whole night! I have insomnia. I have random wakings. Now, I have the rain too! Only 15 weeks, right?

How about my gender predictions…

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