Home birth, but hospital stay – part 2

You can read part 1 here.

Sunday 2nd March
We arrived at the postnatal ward around 3 pm, greeted by a lovely NICU nurse who admitted us to transitional care due to poor feeding and hypothermia. She took little man #2’s temperature again which was still 36 degrees, and because of this we put more woolly layers on him and swaddled him up and I had cuddles with him whilst we waited for the doctor. He was doing his rounds on NICU so we still had a bit of a wait ahead of us. At this point I was glad we took the iPad as little man #1 would have been bored stiff, so I downloaded a Peppa Pig app which kept him occupied! The nurse took LM #2’s temperature again after an hour and it had risen ever so slightly to 36.2 degrees. She also took some bloods to test his blood sugar levels. 

The doctor eventually arrived a couple of hours later and took some birth details, and what had happened since his birth. He checked LM #2 over and everything was OK, apart from his temperature still. It had risen a little more to 36.8 degrees, but it still wasn’t satisfactory for us to go home, so we had to stay the night. At this point I got really upset as this was the place I really didn’t want to be after spending three nights last time, and it also reminded me of my breastfeeding failure as it was the place where I gave up too easily. But on the other hand it was the best thing for us as it meant LM #2 would get better and we would have extra constant feeding support from the NICU nurse too. Unfortunately the one who admitted us had to have handover but the new one was also lovely. 

After it was decided that we would be staying, hubby took LM #1 home. Our neighbour was amazing as she offered to look after him whilst hubby came back for a while – he needed to fetch my hospital bag anyway which I packed just in case we needed to be transferred during my home birth. She gave him some tea and then in fact he fell asleep there whilst hubby was back at the hospital so he stayed the night and hubby collected him the next morning. 

As LM #2 still wasn’t latching on and showing no interest whatsoever – most likely because of the hypothermia – we decided that I would express overnight and the NICU nurse would cup feed him as I didn’t want to introduce him to a bottle at this point. Before every feed I would also try him on the breast. Instead of hand expressing, I was introduced to this amazing machine which became my new best friend:

I was shown by the HCA how to put the bottles and bits together and attach it to the pump – and then when I was on it hubby of course had a perverted chuckle when the HCA left the room! This first time I was on it, I got 14 ml of colostrum in total which I’m told is very good. This would be given to him for his next feed and then I would express again – the routine which became very familiar…

Hubby left around 9pm, and I just burst into tears. I so didn’t want to be here – I should have been at home with the rest of my family; my husband and my LM #1. The poor little guy. He had just welcomed a brand new human, and then this human and his Mummy just disappeared. Such a big change for him in such a short space of time. 

When hubby had left I went to bed for some much needed sleep. The NICU nurse would come in every 3 hours through the night to wake me to try LM #2 on the breast, and if there was no success then she would feed him with my EBM. Needless to say, even with her help, he still wouldn’t latch on. I tried to remain positive, but it brought back so many memories of my experience and my breastfeeding guilt with LM #1.

Does it really make me a bad Mum?

Recently certain things have been playing on my mind again – mainly “you know what” which I am always feeling at least a bit guilty about and extremely sensitive sometimes. Some days I am fine, and it hardly bothers me, but then I start seeing things about it everywhere and it just starts playing on my mind. Some may say I am overly sensitive about it, or should just get a grip, but that’s just me, I am a sensitive person and things go round and round in my head and I blame myself, take me or leave me, really. 

Which leads me on to the question of am I really a bad mother, for not breastfeeding, and other (controversial) things regarding how I may bring the little man up.

Am I really a bad Mum?…

…for not breastfeeding?

Now I know the answer here should be no, and everyone else would tell me no, like I would tell other people no, but I tell myself that I am all the time! Which really frustrates me as in my head I know I’m not, but my heart thinks different. I did give it a go, it didn’t work out for us. At least I can say I tried. The little guy is doing extremely well, he’s gone from the 50th centile at birth, to the 75th, to the 91st which he is steadily travelling along now. In 6 months he’s only had 2 colds, which I think is good going, who says he wouldn’t have had them even if I did breastfeed him? The main thing is, he is getting fed, and that should be the most important thing, not where it is coming from. Yes, we all know breast is best, but the best thing I can do is to not let my baby starve. I’m not exactly poisoning him, am I? (Though sometimes it bloody well seems like it…)

for co-sleeping?

We did this quite a bit when the little man was very young, because he just would not settle on his own. That feeling of comfort, being near your baby, and knowing my baby is getting much needed sleep, is comforting to me. I do know the risks, I knew the risks before he was born. I will admit, I wasn’t totally set on it, and didn’t think it would be something I would ever do, but I love it now. He sleeps in his cot at night, but sometimes I just want to go and pick him up and bring him to bed with us as he just looks so cute, but mainly because I love our snuggles! The main reason I won’t bring him in with both us though is that I’m worried hubby will roll over and squish him! It is something we do every morning now, when he has had his first bottle, we go back to bed and snuggle for an hour or two, and it is just delightful waking up right next to him with a big smile for me. And me, I’m usually hanging off the edge of the bed as I instinctively move when I’m asleep to make sure he has plenty of room! 

…for using controlled crying? 

We had problems (and still have, during the day, but that will be tackled when we return from holiday) with the little man not going to sleep by himself. He would just want to be rocked, and then when he was put down, he would wake up. It was getting a bit silly as it would be incredibly late when we sat down to eat, as it would take a long time and a fair few attempts before he was successfully rocked, asleep, put down, and stayed asleep. Now, I wouldn’t say we used CC in its entirety. The first night we decided to try it, I was in hysterics as I just couldn’t listen to him crying being away from him. So on the second night I ‘camped out’ next to his bed, and held his hand and stroked his face. Yes, there were still a lot of tears from both of us, but the time it took him to get to sleep got shorter as the nights went on. Now, we put him is his cot, and instead of crying he usually either shouts or chatters away to himself for 5 minutes or so, and then just drops off. I will say I did hate hearing him cry, and did feel like a bad mum at the time for doing it, but we had tried other things with no success. Would I say it was worth it? Part of me, yes, as I now know he can go to sleep by himself if he wants to, but I suppose there is a part that still feels guilty. 

If we all parented the same, how would we learn? What would we discuss? The same things, and have the same opinions on everything. Which would make the world a boring place. As they say, all babies are different. So are parents. 

Counselling – take 2

First of all, I’m so sorry I haven’t been updating regularly the last couple of weeks, it has been hectic with moving, trying to make a dent in the boxes, and decorating the little man’s room to get him in there! Well it looks a bit more lived in now rather than just a junk shop. 

Anyway, I had another counselling session last month. I had to do the depression questionnaire again and my results were a little better than they were at the previous one, so the tasks he gave me must have helped a little. He asked me how good a Mum I thought I was now, on a scale of 1-10, and I said 6, maybe 7, which was a lot better than the last time, so he was quite pleased with me! We talked a bit more about my anxiety and going out on my own with little man, to groups etc., and how I was still a bit nervous but I would try my hardest with it. Well I’ve still only ventured to baby clinic as I kind of ‘know’ the women who run it now, but I find the other women who go are a bit cliquey and tend to know each other already (though I do try and talk to them), so I don’t stay very long anyway. Just long enough for the little man to have a little giggle at the other babies which he loves.

So, we decided not to make another appointment just then, but he said I was free to make one if I ever thought I was slipping again. Which I have. About something I never spoke to him about as I thought he might think I was being stupid, like I thought with the other things we discussed! The stupid flaming breastfeeding guilt. Though I’m feeling a little better right now, I’ve been like this before and then got worse, so I may just have to bite the bullet and go back and talk about it. 

But last week I broke down to my health visitor about it, literally broke down into tears and was all snotty and everything! Though all throughout my crying and snuffling and sobbing, little man stayed asleep in my arms! The HV gave me a hug (and a tissue!), said he was doing brilliant, that I AM a good mum because I did the best for him, and he’s a happy little chappy and always smiling (unlike her other babies – her words!) so I must have done something right. And you know what, after getting him weighed last week, I’m starting to think I am and I did.

What if?

Recently I’ve been thinking about a lot of “what if’s” surrounding my breastfeeding guilt. This is one of the things that has led to my PND I think. 

What if I had found a breastfeeding support group before little man’s arrival? I would probably have been armed with all the information I needed to succeed.

What if I had more skin to skin time straight after he was born? He was born onto my tummy and we had cuddles, but I was in such a daze from the gas & air, and from them struggling with my bit of retained placenta and me panicking, that before I realised, he had been taken away to be dressed. And then before I had him back, they were stitching me up and I was in a panic then, I just had to watch hubby holding him. Maybe with that extra skin to skin straight away, he would have rooted and found my boob more easily.

What if there was more support on the postnatal ward? Though this was beyond my control, but I found there wasn’t enough support for them to spend time with me helping, even the breastfeeding peers, they were only on the ward for a couple of hours a day, and there just wasn’t enough to spend quality time with everyone. 

What if I hadn’t given into formula? I expressed for the first 24 hours, but he was starving, I was exhausted, and I just gave in too easily. Would I still be breastfeeding now? 

That’s the biggest what if.

I failed. I couldn’t provide the best for my baby, and I gave in. 

Maybe next time. 

Breastfeeding guilt

Breastfeeding guilt. Something which a lot of women suffer from. I’m one of them right now. 

I managed 24 hours of breastfeeding with little man. And in my head, that wasn’t even ‘proper’ breastfeeding. I had to express for him, because I couldn’t get him to latch on. We tried & tried & tried; with breastfeeding support workers and the midwives, but I just couldn’t do it. I blame myself because I think I could have tried harder. I feel I really did try though. 

I felt so guilty at the switch to formula, because it is drummed into you how much better breastfeeding is for your baby, and how you SHOULD do it. Yes, I know this, but it isn’t possible for everyone. And telling them afterwards that they should have tried harder, or that you are upset that they didn’t, just makes them feel a whole lot worse. And it can last for a long time. A friend of mine still has guilt 6 months later because she had a lot of this from people when she stopped and switched to formula at 6 weeks. Though she should be proud of herself, as she persevered for that long. 

I know formula isn’t the best for my baby (though, it isn’t all that bad, it is as the name suggests, formulated especially for babies), but we were both stressed with the breastfeeding at the time. We were both in tears, him because he was so hungry, and me because I couldn’t satisfy his hunger, and hearing him crying because of that was extremely distressing and upsetting. Now I’m guessing people that were sad I didn’t try harder would rather me let my baby go hungry? Well, I sure as heck wasn’t going to do that. The first bottle he had, he guzzled down, so it was obviously the case. 

Now I’m still feeling that guilt, but, my baby isn’t going hungry, he is in fact thriving. He has gained nearly 3 lbs since he was born just over 5 weeks ago. He’s a proper little milk monster!