Monday, October 17, 2016
For the most part, just fine. The fourth trimester is officially over. Florence is just over 3 months now, and is gurgling, smiling, interacting, pudging up - generally being absolutely fucking beautiful when she isn't crying or not sleeping. I am enjoying her immensely.
It is much easier second time round, [once the fourth trimester is over.] You are much more relaxed, and you do trust your own instincts and not everyone else's unsolicited and [mostly stupid actually] advice. I am enjoying being with Florence and Sebastian, albeit am more exhausted than the most exhausted person, who is at his most exhausted.
Still on the Zoloft. It fixes most things, but it doesn't make other people better. You just get a higher tolerance for them.
I have learnt to compartmentalise - in fact, I learnt this years ago, that when one aspect of my life is spectacularly bad, I can more or less stuff it in a box for a few hours, completely ignore it, and focus on the other good 80%. This has definitely led me in good stead. And especially when it comes to having children. When you don't have enough time to focus on anything for longer than two minutes, so you're forced to compartmentalise and put it out of your brain. It's the best way to survive anything. Trust me.
Well, I'm doing that. With a few things lately. Choosing to box up and ignore.
And focus on me and my children.
I have made a few mum friends now. I've kept this door wide open, and befriended a bunch of new mums in the area. Who knows if we have much in common beyond our children, but who cares? Right now it's all about connecting with someone who smiles, has kids my children's ages, has a vague sense of humour, and is willing to go on playdates and grab a coffee, or maybe even a cheeky glass of wine in the future. It's made life around here much more bearable.
I've also joined a few groups and baby classes, so my calendar is full. Pretty much always. With local stuff.
Florence is now pretty much exclusively on on formula. I've kept one last precious bag of milk in the freezer for her to have when she has her last set of MMR jabs, then that's it.
I try not to think about this too much. This formula bottle thing that haunts me so. Because it makes me sad. So I also try and push this out of my mind and focus on the fact that she is a healthy, fed, happy little baby.
Our house renovations are almost finished. The painting, fixing up, furniture-buying phase anyway. I'll post some pictures soon. Throwing myself into making my nest comfortable and lovely has been so much fun. Even if that's a stupid thing to focus on.
I've been out on a few girls night too! Involving wine and everything. With people who have kids, and people who don't. Which means I can talk politics, decor and news, too.
Monday, September 19, 2016
It hasn't been a picnic; the side-effects of anti-depressants aren't amazing. Nausea pretty much all day long, upset stomach, dry mouth, the shakes and dizziness. But for the first time, these have started to subside and there's just a very subtle change that appears to be happening.
When I think about things, things that would usually overwhelm me, or cause me anxiety (ie: everything), the world just seems a tiny bit softer and lighter. Things that I'd ordinarily react badly to, I'm far more chilled out about. I haven't woken up and suddenly everything is bright and sunshiny and beautiful (far from it - suddenly it's autumn here), but there is a definite shift, and I am starting to feel a lot more myself again.
'Myself' being someone who has the ability to laugh at shit, and be less uptight about everything.
This award-winning book-writing blogger (hey, that was me once!), sums PND up excellently. I love her.
Florence is also 10 weeks. She is starting to settle easier, is chubbing out (so I get to squeeze her little legs and kiss those soft, fat cheeks), and doesn't mind lying down somewhere for 2 minutes (that's her record) that isn't my arms. I am fully aware that this is the last time I'll be doing this.
The Ugly Volvo (another amazing book-writing blogger whom I love) sums this up very well too. So I am now starting to really embrace the fact that my little baby is going to be the last little baby I have. I nestle in her hair, I allow her to lie on my chest for longer than necessary, I am trying to live for every moment with her where possible.
I've joined a baby class. It's the same sensory class I did with Sebastian, and it's bought back lots of memories. I am sad that he is no longer a baby I can do this with - go figure. I hope to meet some mums there, although my self-esteem isn't helluva great right now. I don't like the look of myself in a mirror, and I am not sure what to say to these mothers who are shiny, and spritely and skinny and local.
I'll get there. I'm not as anxious or worried about it as I was last week.
I'm an outgoing introvert, so this will take time.
One thing I am fucking terrified about: the Brit is going to Singapore tomorrow for a week for work. A week. I don't know how I'll logistically manage drop offs and pick-ups to Sebby's nursery, and not sure how I'll manage doing everything for that long before dying from exhaustion.
Maybe I'll surprise myself.
I'm trying to think of it like an athlete thinks about their next triathlon. Preparation is key; do your best.
It was my birthday last week. I am now officially on the wrong side of 35. (Although I insist 40 is going to be great. My kids will be old and sufficient enough to dress themselves, and I foresee a lot more freedom and sleep in my future.)
The Brit was wonderful, and treated me to spa treatments for an afternoon, lunch away, a gourmet feast which he made at home, and a beautiful necklace. It certainly helped, as one doesn't exactly feel 'birthdayee' when they're tending to children and babies all day, and one day rolls into the next.)
Saturday, September 03, 2016
Mum left a couple of weeks ago, and for about that long, it didn't feel like we sat down once. If we weren't juggling our baby while simultaneously preparing a meal for our toddler, or washing something while soothing cries, I was steralising bottles and washing my face at the same time.
It's been thoroughly mental.
A few things have dominoed over this time:
1) superhuman multi-tasking skills;
2) food poisoning (the Brit and I, three days after my mum left, rendering us half-dying and trying to do all the above while lying horizontal while emitting fluids from both ends);
3) the above knocking the wheels off breastfeeding completely, which threw me into what has now been diagnosed as post-natal depression;
4) establishing "systems" and routines to cope with everything.
The first point is something I'll pat myself and the Brit on the back for. Together we have managed to tumble our way through to Flo now being almost 8 weeks, where she is now crying less, sleeping a bit more, feeds stretching to almost 4 hourly. While tending to Sebastian's life, while the poor little chap battles through potty training, and therefore, peeing and poohing everywhere/on things.
We seem to mostly have a handle on this now. It's full-on-full-go all day, everyday, but by the end of of the day when they are both tucked in and sleeping, we can even enjoy a glass of wine and watch Stranger Things on Netflix like other normal people. I can brush my hair sometimes. I can wipe vomit from my trousers before I leave the house. I can leave the house!
Point 2. Don't get food poisoning when you have a newborn and a toddler. Honestly, besides thinking we were going to die - delirious, aching, vomiting, the whole hog - I had to get up to breastfeed Flo every three hours, while also checking on Seb who I hoped wasn't turning the gas on downstairs as we groaned and yacked in bed upstairs. To his credit, the little guy mostly got on with things, while running in every little while to say, "Mummy, Daddy poorly!" He knew. Bless him.
The problem with food poisoning, or any affliction, is that Florence had just started breastfeeding properly. Latching, drinking, not fussing and crying so much at every feed. This knocked it all out again, and I also got the beginnings of mastitis in my (then) engorged boob, so after a few bottle feeds I was back at square one all over again. She just doesn't like feeding from my boobs.
I was too tired to go down the feeding-her-with-a-tube thing again, so here we are: bottle feeding. I express about 5 times a day to at least give her breast milk for most of the day, while she is on formula at night.
I steralise about 8 000 bottles a day, and this is where the "system" comes in and my trying to be organised, amongst the chaos.
Not being able to breastfeed has hit me tremendously hard. After all the trying and succeeding in the beginning, only to fail now, it launched me into a depression I didn't think was possible. In my logical mind, I know my baby is happier and fuller on bottles, and we are generally less stressed. However I am so sad I can't breastfeed her. I never thought I'd feel so cut up about it, but here we are. She rejected me, not the other way around. So I should just go with it. But with all the pressure and subliminal messaging (and ease and convenience) of breastfeeding, I really feel like a sub-optimal mother.
I'm finally getting over myself, but it's taken some time. I have cried and cried and I feel down as fuck. Post Natal Depression, or PND, affects 1 in 10 in the UK. And apparently, I am now one of them. I am taking this on the chin and I'm going to sort it out. Starting Monday, depending on what the doctor prescribes me. Anxiety, constant worry, and just general sadness is what I have become; and I don't want to feel like this anymore.
That said, there are three small things I've discovered that can make and break a day when you have a new baby in the house. Three things that make the survival easier. Because that's what it is; it's survival, until you start to see that light at 12-15 weeks.
1) Go for a walk/leave the house once a day.
2) Make time for a bath/something just for you. It restores everything.
3) If you can get a nap, in between it all, you've bonused out.
An excellent day is if you can do all three in one day. Most days I get to do one or two of these things. A daytime nap is rare; sometimes I may steal 10 minutes because I am slumped on the couch with her on my chest and I fall asleep while sitting.
But one or two of these a day, is good innings. This is what I'm telling myself.
I have also made a new friend; someone I vaguely know through another friend - a Saffa who is also a mum. This is terribly exciting, and the familiarity of having someone around who is from the same background but who also lives in this town, is just wonderful.
I've also had a few friends come and visit, whisk me out for some wine, and helped me get an hour's break to put the world to rights.
I still feel anxiety at an unprecedented scale. But I can see a small twinkling of light at the end of what feels like a dark and unrelenting tunnel.
I love them so much. I look at my beautiful children and still cannot believe they're mine. Florence is smiling, and Sebastian is saying adorable things like "Ooh, I'm balarmed!" (Alarmed). He has also acclimatised to having a new little person in the house, and his tantrums are less.
It's going to be OK.
Wednesday, August 10, 2016
Has it gone quickly? Yes, of course it has. Have the days that roll into nights that roll into days that roll into more nights and then more days, gone quickly? Not a fuck.
Basically, it's been balls, but I have got there in the end with her now exclusively breastfeeding. Where's my medal. No, come on, WHERE'S MY MEDAL PLEASE? With all the pressure (subliminal as it is - it is never direct pressure, oh no, it's always little chirps like, "Breast is best!' and 'It's your choice, of course it is, formula is fine,' with a not a helluva ultra-convincing grimace, but there you go), there must be some kind of ACCOLADE I get for persevering like a motherfucker here?
(Yes yes yes, I know breast is best. I fed Sebastian a la boob for 6 months, and I can only hope I can feed Flo for as long as my udders allow - God knows I'm expressing after most feeds to keep the old supply banging away...)
Anyway, thanks everyone for your lovely comments, advice and support on the below post; desperate times. As someone so correctly told me, "The difference between hope and desperation is a night's sleep." Well, I still haven't had a 'night's' sleep in four weeks, but I feel like we are all coping better and getting into our groove.
That's until my mum leaves in 10 days, and then the apple cart is probably going to veer off the road and hit a tree, apples running amuck about the place. With me running after them, two children on my hip, not having brushed my hair in five days.
We have ventured to the park again a few times (the one where I had a fight with a chav about whether her precocious 8 year old son who had kicked a ball into the side of my head, was lying about the fact that I said "Ferfucksakes" to him.*)
Anyway, here are some adorable pictures of my offspring, because even amongst the chaos, they're mine though.
*I almost said it, but willed myself to stop with my throbbing ear. He then accused me of swearing while I said he should damn well apologise, and then his mother intervened and said, "Oy. OY. Didju just swear at me son?" No I bloody didn't, but you should teach your son some MANNERS and apologise for kicking this ball into my pip. While my breasts are leaking milk down my dress.
Friday, July 29, 2016
The honeymoon period is well and truly over. This comes to you from deep in the trenches. It's brutal.
I am so sleep deprived, I tried to put on Florence's babygrow in the middle of a breastfeeding clinic yesterday, thinking it was my own shirt. It took a good 40 seconds to register that it wasn't mine.
She isn't latching on or feeding properly, and by first assessment, tells me she has Tongue Tie. In order to see how bad the Tongue Tie is, no teats allowed for a week and have given me these miniscule little tubes to feed her with.
I have to express every feed.
She hates my boobs.
She still isn't up to her birth weight.
Sebastian has also decided that while he lives his sister, he loathes us. And has become 'that' child - smacking us, throwing his milk all over the floor, tantrums, basically anything for attention, even if it is negative attention.
I have a cold.
I have the baby blues. I miss Clapham and a neighbourhood I know. When I do venture out, all I seem to see are weirdo's and chavs (have we made a massive massive mistake?)
I had an altercation with one at the local park a few days ago and never want to go back.
I want to pack it all in.
I have to decide whether Flo has a small op on her tongue, or just turn to bottle feeding and hope it outgrows itself.
While feverishly trying to read up on how to deal with my toddler who hates that he isn't the centre of our world anymore. I feel so hurt and sad for him, and am trying to give him undivided attention when I'm not feeding/changing a nappy/rocking to sleep.
Flo is luckily a lot more placid than Sebastian, and for now, doesn't mind being put down to sleep for a few hours. Please dear God may that not change.
Life with two children is HARD. Especially if things aren't going as planned.
Crikey. When does it start getting better again? Someone tell me things start to look up in a few weeks. Nevermind the three hourly feeds, but how will we do this on our own when my mum leaves?
Wednesday, July 20, 2016
My whole experience of this birth and this baby has been so, so different from when I had my twins.
Starting from the beginning.
I started feeling a bit crampy, a bit weird, and just 'ready' the night before I was due to go in for my planned c-section. By 3am, I was on the phone to the hospital because I was pretty certain labour had started.
(My husband: "No it hasn't. You're fine." You're arguing with a woman who is in labour about not being in labour? Have you learnt nothing?)
By 5am, we were in the car roaring to hospital, as I was having contractions every 5 minutes, and things were starting to escalate.
I was strangely calm with the pain this time. When I was induced last time, it all came on so quickly and painfully, there wasn't time to get into any kind of Zone.
There were a few of us booked in sequentially for sections, and they shoved me to top of the queue once they'd seen I was dilating fast and a contraction was now coming every 30 seconds.
Should I have continued and gone natural/vaginal birth? I didn't think my pelvic floor was up for it, and by now, I was fully signed on to have my section. So off I went to theatre.
This time I wasn't rushed in there on a stretcher at 2am. I put my scrubs on, and was walked there, suddenly highly emotional, scared and all the feelings, so walked through the ward sobbing as they led me and the Brit towards the same room I had my twins extracted.
I bawled and bawled and they had to calm me down between that and the contractions.
I had such a lovely aneasthetist - Caroline - who told me she had had four c-sections, had done four years at Groote Schuur and another hospital in South Africa, and was generally amazing.
"This must be hard for you," she said, after administering my spinal tap, rendering me numb from the tits down.
"This is where you had Sebastian and Molly, wasn't it."
She had read all my notes and all the fine print. She probably didn't need to know my twins names, but she did. What a difference that made.
They even put some Magic FM on for me. So we could bring Florence into the world to a background accompaniment of one of the Bee Gees hits. Pure class.
We were excited this time round, not excited and terrified and sad. They pulled her out and showed me, and it was the best feeling in the world to see her for the first time. Like her brother and other sister, she has a shock of thick brown hair, and while she looks a lot like Sebastian, she looked most like Molly with her pointier nose. Even so, she was different - she was unique all unto herself.
A really nice weight, at 3.58kilos, and an excellent Apgar rating. We were ecstatic. They lay her on my chest, and I got to know her while she gripped my fingers with her little hands.
I wasn't knackered this time, having not had to undergo 18 hours of labour. I was itchy as all fuck, as one of the side affects of the anaesthetic was an itch, and mine had game. They had to give me an antihistamine for that, as I was starting to look a little scratched, after pawing away at my face and arms.
Florence also managed to latch on a lot easier than Seb. Being three weeks older than Seb at birth made a huge difference in terms of her sucking reflex and strength. Poor little Seb was so small and weak; breastfeeding the first few weeks was a harrowing experience. Flo has thus far been really easy on that front.
I could have tea and toast after a few hours, and the Brit bought me some of Chelsea's finest sushi.
But possibly the best thing about this experience was being able to go home 36 hours after having her. Last time I was stuck in hospital for another week, (and a week prior), so I went a bit mental/nearly had a breakdown by the time they released us from there.
It made me realise how small, frail and poorly my little Seb actually was when he was born. On antibiotics, needing heart and brain scans, having rounded feet from being cramped in the womb with another little soul. The repeated jaundice and needing to sit under lamps. The low birth weight. It all seemed endless and helpless, and I had no idea what I was doing.
Hobbling around and recovering from major surgery is so much easier and nicer in the comfort of your own home. It's been bloody painful, I can't discount that. Getting in and out of bed is fucking sore, I am still on painkillers 8 days later, and it's not easy.
Florence has had a littlebit of jaundice, so has been sleepy and lost quite a bit of weight - but she is on a three hour eating plan and getting better without the need for lamps or hospital intervention thus far.
The heatwave hasn't helped the sleepiness - I have to feed her while wiping her down with cold wet wipes.
But she is a little dream. Sebastian just adores her. All he wants to do is hold "Baby Fwowence," and he goes up to her constantly, to stroke her hair and say, "It's OK,' if she starts to cry. He is so doting, and it makes my heart burst.
I'm so lucky and grateful to have my mama here to help though. Ay yay yay. Sebastian still needs [more] attention than ever, and he has found a best friend in his granny. They have such a sweet little relationship, and he now calls for her in the mornings - not for the Brit or me! They have little conversations and she has helped me so much when it comes to meals and cleaning and passing me shit I can't reach because I'm flat on my back.
The sleep deprivation is something no new parent can get past, you just have to fight your way through it. And waking up every three hours is not pleasant. We're zonked. But again, perhaps it's because we are in our lovely new home, it's mid-summer, and we are not grieving this time - it's just not as bad.
She's still spanking, shiny new, so who knows what she will be like in a few days or few weeks. I don't want to jinx anything, but her first week has been relatively chilled.
Friday, July 15, 2016
Monday, July 11, 2016
I am having a baby tomorrow.
This is all so different from last time. For obvious reasons. Last time was an ordeal; it was chaos; it was joy and anguish, it was the unknown.
Now, it's all very planned, clinical, scheduled in. I can say things like, "By noon, I'll have a new baby."
I've been debriefed about what to expect by having a c-section (as I sat back wryly, thinking I've done this all before, and I wasn't given any pre-orders, I was rushed down a corridor and my twins were extracted in a flurried frenzy), how to roll out of bed (ouchie. I remember this, getting out of bed is the worst after a c-section), that sort of stuff.
This time, I was sitting with a group of women, cracking jokes about how we're going to order mahoosive platters of sashimi the moment we are given the go-ahead to eat, and how we'll see each other "bright and early in the morning!" big smiles, excitement, jangly nerves.
I'm nervous and so excited and so goddamn emotional. I've almost made it. I am still too scared to say, "this is it." Only on Saturday I had a scare; a horrible wobbly where I didn't feel her move or kick for a few hours. I am so acutely aware of her movements and rhythms, that when there feels like there's a gap, I start to go through the motions. I lie on my side, prod my stomach, drink the ice cold water. No one else knows about the sea of panic I face when I realise she hasn't moved in a while. I don't tell my husband or anyone. I just tap into my safe place and concentrate.
Saturday no amount of prodding or poking or anything seemed to rile her. I started to shake, panic and cry. I hit a level of panic I haven't done yet in this pregnancy, where I worried that if she had died, I may never come back myself. This would be me; check me into an asylum.
We roared to the hospital around the corner and they hitched me up to a monitor (after waiting for what seemed like hours). All was OK. Panic over. Just a few more days, just a few more days.
Besides the surgery and obvious stillborn-related worries, I am also acutely aware of two other things: my last few hours with my son as an only child, and my final afternoon nap.
I tried to have one this afternoon. Too many thoughts and nerves and excitement in my head to actually sleep, while deeply contemplating the irony of this as it is my last afternoon nap for what could be years.
I'm scared of the sleep deprivation and three hourly feeds. The 24 hours cycle that feels like it will never end. No amount of mental preparation prepares you; but maybe previous experience helps to soften the blow.
Just a few more hours, and we will have a spanking new daughter.
Wednesday, July 06, 2016
It's been days of unpacking, sorting, deliberating and mainly marvelling at the fact that we own an actual house.
And that we can't hear each other from floor to floor.
And that each room has enough space to host an archery lesson.
And that there's a garden, with actual sun in it.
I didn't leave the house for the first three days, in between unpacking and having to go and have a lie down.
We haven't painted, that will come a month or two after the baby is born (less than one week, oh my goodness oh my goodness - we made it. We made it into our house before I exploded), and I have ordered 8 000 different things to be delivered here, including three wardrobes from Ikea for the children and spare room alone.
It's heaven. It's true what they say; you often don't realise how toxic a place or environment is until you leave it. Our flat worked for us most of the time. But now looking at it, the awful women who lived above us, the damp, the fact that we were all on top of each other, all these little things, just weren't ideal. She made it Hell for us, and living in cramped space is just not for me anymore.
Suddenly we have bright, airy rooms, with sunlight streaming in, and a really good feeling about the place. We felt it the moment we first saw this house. I thought, "I could definitely live here." There's just a homely vibe as you walk in. The bathroom isn't pokey and windowless; it's a proper, large family bathroom with natural light, overlooking our garden.
I feel so lucky, and so relieved.
Commuting in and out is going to be interesting; but that's next year's problem. Apparently it'll only take me 15 minutes more than what I did from Clapham, so I'm hoping that's true.
Sebastian started a few stelling-in's at his nursery and without tears. It's a much smaller nursery than where he used to be, and sadly on the top floor so I just hope they take them out regularly to the garden. They seem nice though, and today he started a full day.
I have to go into a hospital a few times to be monitored on that [harrowing, painful-memory-bringing-back] device, the same one I was attached to to monitor Sebastian for a week after Molly had passed.
Other than that, my last few days before having our baby girl will be filled with building flat-pack furniture, hanging shelves and pictures and not doing very much.
Which suits me just fine, given life is going to be 24-hours sleep-deprived busy from now until, like, 2020.
Scarily, that's not even an exaggeration.
Thursday, June 30, 2016
We own a house. A big, adulty, mostly freestanding, house.
After seven months of uncertainty, and having this almost fall through at least four times. After buyers pulling out, and houses having to go back on the market. A domino of six houses in the chain, where if one falls through, the rest follow.
It's a miracle anyone can buy a damn house in this country at all, given the system here.
I can only vaguely remember what it actually looks like inside; I have to pull up the agent photos, but even then, the proportions and dimensions are a bit shirky to mind. I am helluva excited to get in there tomorrow - ermergherd termerreh - to start measuring things, dreaming up wall colours, making it our home.
Sebastian isn't going to know what to do with himself. He'll have two floors of stairs to climb, a big [for London] garden, what seems like miles of uninterrupted space to run around in and potter around. He'll start a new nursery next week for a few days a week; and not so sure how this will go down, to be honest. He has made two firm little chums at his current nursery; and they're thick as thieves. I'm really sad to be taking him away from that.
Big changes ahead for him - new home, new nursery...and new sister.
Can't believe it's the final night in our flat tonight.
The end of a chapter living in what is deemed to be "London," in a lock-up-and-go; a place where we bought home our first baby, lost a baby; the first official home I owned (with someone).
Living our summer days on Clapham Common, only moments away. Clapham has been my home, really, for the last 6 years I've lived in London. Moving to a new borough is a big move for me.
Now we are in the family life phase of our lives - a house, garden, 'family-friendly suburb' of Greater London/home counties, living in a commuter town, with a new baby on the way.