Saturday, 18 April 2015

4 months postpartum

Yeah... it's been a while! I'm still here, so busy with two kids and trying to get my photography business up and running. But it's all been positive, I've had my first paid clients this year and we've settled into a routine of sorts at home... the kids are doing well together but the house is a mess. Oh well. Still room for improvement.

What there isn't much time for is blogging. I'm hardly reading any blogs, let alone writing, most of my time on my computer is spent either on Facebook or on my business - editing photos or researching props (I photograph newborns so use bowls, fabric backdrops, basket fillers, tiny gorgeous clothes and hats). Today i've finished cutting and sewing 224 yards of tulle for one adult size tutu, and have another 76 yards to go for a baby size one.

Baby is currently asleep but the toddler now wants me to go play Lego with him... I think most of my posts from now on are going to be short. I'm going to start with the first month settling in with two children, because it was trickier and more tiring than i thought.

Copycat Starbucks double chocolate muffins

This recipe is from Honey and Fig's Kitchen, I've just adapted it to use cup measurements. Makes some quite tasty muffins! I got 8 large and two small muffins from the recipe.

It uses a whole half cup of cocoa! Oh yes... this is a chocolately muffin and no mistake :)

Ingredients
1 2/3 cups SR flour
1/2 c cocoa
3/4 c sugar
a pinch of salt
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
4 tablespoons fresh espresso (or 1 T instant coffee)
2 large eggs
250 grams greek yogurt
4 tablespoons buttermilk
1/3 cup olive oil
3/4 c chocolate chips

Method
Mix all ingredients except chocolate chips together until just moistened (a few lumps are ok). Fold in the chocolate chips. Bake for 8 minutes at 220c, then lower the temperature to 180 and bake another 15 minutes.

Makes 9 large or 12 medium muffins.

I chose to use a mix of caramel and dark chocolate chips.

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Birth story part 3

...continued from Part 2

So to finish up, my midwife put the catheter in (my bladder wasn't as full as she'd been worrying) and we waited for the cord to stop pulsating before i pushed out the placenta. (by the way inserting a catheter without an epidural is not painful, just a bit uncomfortable for a few seconds). Cord took quite a while, at least half an hour. I think it was because my uterus and body were tired from the prolonged second stage. Finally it stopped and hubby got to clamp and cut the cord.

I wasn't feeling any contractions, but i tried pushing the placenta out. Nothing happened. My midwife had a gentle pull on the cord and said she thought the placenta had separated fine. I kept trying, but no luck. I asked if i should try an upright position so they helped me up to lean over the back of the sofa. At this point i told them i was quite dizzy, and i lay my head down over the sofa back as i pushed. They were watching me carefully after i said that... and good thing too as the next thing i know i was looking up at unfamiliar faces and wondered if i was in the hospital.

But my midwife's face swam into my view and recognition came back to me, i saw my team and that i was at home and they were laying me down on the sofa and pushing a straw from a glass of water towards me so i could drink. My blood pressure had dropped so much i'd passed out.

We decided at this point that the syntocinon injection would be a good idea. It went into my thigh - bit stingy, but i could now feel contractions and was able to push the placenta out pretty easily. What surprised me was that it felt huge to push out - and yet i knew the baby had been much bigger!

It came out all in one piece. My midwife examined it to make sure and then put it aside in the container i'd washed out ready for it, while she repaired the episiotomy. Took a little while and required another local because it had been so long since the cut was made. She and my backup midwife determined it to be a second degree episiotomy, which was a good thing as a third and fourth degree would have to be repaired in hospital, because of the degree of muscle cut and the location. It took some internal, some muscle and then some external stitches. My doula held my hand for support while this was being done. Hubby was holding baby and keeping the toddler occupied.

Once this was complete, i was able to hold my baby again and my midwife showed me the placenta and explained the different sides and their function. Pretty fascinating stuff really. I was surprised at how big the hole in the amniotic sac was (much bigger than with our toddler), as it had only broken while i was pushing in the pool and so it had felt like just a small hole. Clearly it had enlarged a lot when he came out! She would take it home with her and encapsulate it for me.

My backup midwife and photographer left about an hour after the birth, after congratulating me. My doula helped hubby tidy up and get sheets into the wash etc then she left also. My midwife stayed a few hours, keeping an eye on me, then also left to go about her daily appointments and returned in the afternoon to check on how i was doing.

So that was it - it was all done and over and i had achieved my HBAC and had my beautiful new son next to me. My CS scar had held up beautifully even after four hours of pushing - so much for the 'high risk' label hospitals try to put on mums with previous c sections! My husband was over the moon that he'd been able to see one of his children born naturally, and even better to have been the one to catch him. And our toddler was fascinated with 'his baby', and even now tells me how he was in my stomach and came out between my legs :)

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Birth story part 2

...continued from Part 1

My midwife tried to insert the catheter, but was unable to due to bub's head pressing on my bladder. No wonder i couldn't empty it myself! So we decided to focus on getting bub out and then the catheter in.

This is where my easy birth turned into hard work. I pushed on my side. I pushed on my back. I tried a few contractions on my knees but very quickly realised my back was the most comfortable and effective. I pushed with each contraction until bub's head was about 5cm visible across, but at this point i wasn't stretching any further. My midwife tried perineal massage, but there was a tight band of skin/muscle that just wasn't thinning and stretching any further. Bub was doing well, heart rate dipping as i pushed and recovering to baseline as the contraction finished.

After around 3 hours pushing out of the pool, my team were getting very concerned about possible bladder damage and a fourth degree tear - my perineum was getting shorter and thinner but the rest of the area was not stretching. There was a lot of discussion going on according to hubby - i was unaware of most of it other than i was starting to tire - from 5 or so surges per contraction i was now only getting about 2 and the rest of the time i was just pushing myself rather than with contractions. My midwife told me i could do this - but that if it didn't happen within the next 20 minutes she'd like me to consider an episiotomy.

Our toddler had woken up by this point (5am) and was downstairs with us. He wasn't the least bit scared, just gave me a kiss and sat down to his breakfast.

I pushed as hard as i could for the next few contractions. There was no change at all, so i told her to go right ahead and cut me. This was apparently only the second one she'd had to do during a homebirth, and it was clear to me that she didn't want to do it but rather thought it safer than a fourth degree tear. So she numbed the area (small sting) and then cut, and waited for me to push, and then cut a little more and my team all told me to push as hard as i could. Hubby distracted our toddler while this was done. One push and i could feel the difference - baby was crowning! Another push and his head was out!! Our toddler was leaning over my shoulder, fascinated that he could see 'his baby'.

At this point my birth team were all excited and told me to push again, then suddenly the atmosphere changed to one of urgency and i was told to push as hard as i could and to keep pushing. I was calm and pushed as hard as i could - i had an idea what was wrong. Baby's shoulder was stuck under my pubic bone. My midwife held his head (i think) and tried to hook a finger under his armpit to rotate the shoulder, my backup midwife helped by pushing on my stomach. It didn't take long and all of a sudden his shoulder popped free and i pushed again and out he shot in a rush of body and the rest of the amniotic fluid!

Hubby had him round the chest and as my midwife unwrapped the cord from his neck he lifted him up and onto my belly for me to see. "My baby!", said our toddler.

I did it!

It seemed the most normal thing in the world, to finish off a pregnancy by pushing out a baby. It was as though i'd always known i could and would do it. There was no huge sense of achievement with my HBAC - just a kind of 'of course you did' feeling :) Still pretty awesome though and i feel great about it even now, three weeks later.

I feel i chose my birth place and team well - there is no way i'd have been 'allowed' to push that long in a hospital without a fight, or several interventions along the way, possibly too early and resulting in foetal distress and then a c section. My team never faltered, always encouraging me, and kept all discussion of complications in whispers away from my earshot. The one time i said, "I can't," (in regards to i couldn't keep pushing as my contractions were running out of steam) the entire team chimed in, "Yes you can!" which almost made me giggle had i not been so tired at that point.

Continued in Part 3...

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Birth story part 1

I woke up at 6am when i was 40+3 days into my pregnancy with some mild infrequent contractions and some more show. I didn't know if this was it, or just more ramping up towards labour, so i continued my day as normal - took our toddler to daycare, chatted with the girls there about the xmas party later that day (where they joked again there might be a baby by that time - unlikely, i thought!), and headed back home. The contractions were regular and more frequent by this time - maybe 8-10 minutes apart to my estimation, but easily able to breathe through. I tidied a few things away, but was pretty pleased with my housework in the last few days to have everything ready and looking nice for a homebirth and the resulting photos. I cooked myself some eggs for breakfast and started drinking (water and coconut water) to stay hydrated.

Hubby came home from work at lunchtime after texting me all that morning and announced he was off to pick up the toddler immediately. No, i pleaded, let him stay for his xmas party. I was already at the stage where i wasn't going to be able to drive there and back, but i knew there wasn't going to be a baby anytime soon - he was worried he'd go to pick up the toddler and miss the birth. In the end i had to call my doula and she told him i wasn't in established labour yet and not to panic. She said to call her back when my contractions were about 4 minutes apart lasting a minute. I estimated probably just under 8 minutes apart now and lasting 30 seconds, so that's what i'd told her. Hubby timed two of them - 2 1/2 minutes apart lasting a minute. Oops. Still shows you the power of hypnobirthing - i was still quite fine, up and walking, just leaning on the counter or wall each time a surge began. No pain, just discomfort/pressure. However i had started feeling slightly nauseous and wasn't able to eat any more, just kept trying to keep water down.

He called her back and she arrived about 3pm at which point he left to get the toddler. I laboured nicely while chatting with my doula. The nausea kicked in and i threw up twice. At this point i could only manage a sip of water at a time without feeling sick. I was still going to the toilet fine. Hubby arrived home and started the toddler's nighttime routine early, while getting the pool out and pumping it up. By this stage the contractions were quite strong and i found i preferred lying on my left on the couch and breathing nice and slow through each one. Toddler was very interested in the pool! He gave me a kiss and went to bed early (around 6:30pm i was told instead of 8pm) and slept well all through the night. He wasn't the least bit concerned about why mummy appeared to be sleeping on the couch, or why my doula was there (he'd met her before).

Hubby and doula started filling the pool at this stage. At some point before i got in, i asked them to call my midwife and birth photographer. My doula had been timing my surges and asked hubby to relay to my midwife that they had been 4 minutes apart, then 2-3 minutes apart lasting for a minute and a half, now coming 1-2 mins apart. They both arrived around 9pm i was told. (Was well into labour land at this point and deliberately not paying attention to time). Still not in pain, just working hard.

I could hear people talking quietly around me. My doula was bringing me cool flannels for my forehead and hubby had a glass of water with a straw to offer me. My midwife checked baby's position and heart rate, and said my bladder was quite full and asked if i could empty it, which i did with a little difficulty. I then took my pants off and got into the lovely warm pool and continued labouring there.

Time and progression are hazy to me, but i was asked to try to empty my bladder again. Took me a while to get to the toilet as contractions were now very close together. I remember it was really cold getting out of the pool, even though it was a warm stormy summer night. This time though, i couldn't empty my bladder. I tried through three contractions on the toilet but nothing. I let my midwife know and got back in the pool. Somewhere here i had started pushing, and i did so for about an hour i think. I didn't feel baby descend, but his head started to become visible - just a little patch of dark hair. But, it wasn't getting any more visible even though i was working quite hard. So i was asked how i felt about getting out of the pool, both to try some coached pushing to see if we could bring him to crowning and get me back in, and so they could try to put a catheter in - there was some concern about bladder damage due to me being unable to empty it. Apparently it looked very big on my belly with baby's head behind it. So out i got with some help, and lay on my back on the couch (which my doula had cleverly covered with a shower curtain and a dark sheet).

Continued in Part 2...

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Labour watch

39+5: Really don't know if this is the start of anything or not, but i'll note it down anyway in the same way i did with my last pregnancy. Today i've almost constantly had Braxton Hicks. I think my belly has been rock hard more often today than not. Yesterday i had 2 cups of raspberry leaf tea, but i've done that most days so can't think that it can only be caused by that. Also, around 10pm i had discomfort like a cramp, but that went away fairly quickly.

Throughout that night, i had a stomach-ache level discomfort, no contractions. It stopped as soon as i got up the next morning.

39+6: Lots of BH and lightning crotch.

40: Nothing. Even the BH have eased up.

40+1: Just BH and lightning crotch. Feeling very heavy and as though my stomach is lower. However while driving home from daycare in the evening i was hit with very bad lightning crotch, sharp pains in my cervix and symphysis pubis, for the half hour drive home. Could barely answer the toddler's chattering at times. Thankfully as soon as i got home and was able to pull myself to a standing position the pain disappeared, but left me feeling really weak and tired all evening while i got him his dinner and put him in the shower.

40+2: Woke to find my show :) A small amount of clear mucus with very fine pinkish veins. I think some of the pain from yesterday has started my cervix dilating. Still feeling heavy in my pelvis but thankfully only a few sharp twinges. Just a general very mild discomfort low down which i barely notice except when thinking about it. Emailed my birth team, who have been checking in with me recently, to let them know i expect things to start happening within the next 2-3 days.

40+3: Woke with mild infrequent contractions and more show. Labour had started!

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Week 40

Week 40 pregnant belly side view

Week 40 pregnant belly side viewWeek 40 pregnant belly front view

STATS:

How far along: 40 weeks - the big 4-0! Wonder how much longer now?

How big is baby: a small pumpkin.

What is baby doing this week: After months of anticipation, your due date has been and gone, and... you're still pregnant. It's frustrating, but lots of women find themselves in this situation.

Rest assured your baby is quite cosy where she is. She is getting a little heavier and may grow a bit more in length. The average baby is about 51cm long from head to toe and weighs about 3.4kg at birth. But if your baby is anywhere between 2.5kg and 3.8kg, that's a healthy weight.

Your baby continues to shed the greasy, white substance (vernix caseosa) which has been protecting her skin. If she shows no sign of making an appearance after another week, she may have slightly dry skin when she arrives.

Your baby has mastered all the skills she'll need after she's born. She can instinctively search for her thumb and suck it, just as she will search for your breast for a feed soon after birth.

In TV dramas, labour always begins with the waters breaking – in the middle of a crowded room, of course – just before contractions start. The reality is that, even if your membranes do rupture, your baby's head will tend to act like a cork at the opening of your uterus (womb). If you lie down, however, you may notice fluid leaking. Your body will continue to produce amniotic fluid until your baby is born.

Try to stay calm if your waters break or you start to feel contractions, but do call your doctor or midwife straight away. You may be advised to wait at home until contractions are really under way. Find out how to tell when you're in labour.

http://www.babycentre.co.uk/40-weeks-pregnant

Total weight gain: 57.9kg, 300g more than last week and 11kg since the start of pregnancy.

Maternity clothes: Pretty much all maternity.

Sleep: Fairly good this week. I'm well aware of the fact that labour could start any night so am making sure i'm not too tired.

Best moment of the week: 

Food cravings/aversions: None.

Symptoms: 

Nausea: None.

Fatigue: Taking Ferro Grad-C every weekday.

Other: Very strong Braxton Hicks the last two days - i think i have one more often than not now. Sudden sharp pains down low, which i've heard called 'lightning crotch' are becoming more and more frequent.

Movement: Head down, left occiput lateral (LOL/LOT), 3/5ths above brim and non-ballotable (slightly engaged). Lots of kicks and stretches - more stretches now as he starts to get quite cramped in there.

Gender: Boy.

What i'm looking forward to: a peaceful, quick, healing home waterbirth!

What i miss: Being able to walk easily. Also my patience! I've got quite a short temper lately.

Next appt: 27 November.

What else i've done this week: