Wednesday, August 10, 2016

one month on

This Friday, Flo will be one month old.

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.

I've single-handedly [husband helped too, to be fair] trained my daughter to feed from a tube, while sucking on my finger, therefore training her to like my nipple again. No bottles, and helping to 'outgrow' this tongue tie that they think she has. But not 'serious' enough for the snip.

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.
 He loves her, really.

 That was an explosive one...
 Double-timing.
Now. I should probably join some mum's groups and get out there soon and make some friends...and get to know this area a bit. My confidence is pretty darn low right now, so this may take some time...


*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

help

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.
Nightmare.

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

florence's birth story

Well, Flo is just over a week old and I've come up for some air.

My whole experience of this birth and this baby has been so, so different from when I had my twins.

Starting from the beginning.

This is me. At 38 + 6 weeks. About to go into labour. Good thing I'd finished washing my hair, unlike last time.

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.

                                                                I woke up like this.

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.

                                           Meeting his sister for the first time...

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.

PS: There's also a real sense of relief now. I won't ever need to have a c-section again. I have had three children; and with two extremely special miracles before me, my cup is full. I don't need anymore.

Friday, July 15, 2016

our spanking new addition

Wanted to introduce our beautiful new bundle.

World, meet Florence.

Florence Imogen.

Utterly smitten, exhausted and all the things. But with a heart so full, I'm fairly sure it may burst wide open.


Monday, July 11, 2016

one more day

Oh my goodness. I am having a baby tomorrow.

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

our new home

We are in!

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.
 This is the dining room. It has high ceilings, wooden floors downstairs, it's a Victorian house built in the early 1900s. High maintenance, but bucket loads of charm.

 My morning view. Complete with little boy playing with his fire engine downstairs.

 Our garden and patio.
Hallway looking into our kitchen. The kitchen is pretty much the total size as our lounge, kitchen and bathroom was in our flat.

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.

Seb's room is coming along, as is hers.

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

our last day in clapham

After some pretty rigorous last minute to and froing, after what our buyers did to us (I'm keeping it exclusive for the London Evening Standard, as much as I want to detail in point what them and our evil French neighbour did), we finally exchanged and closed on our house yesterday.

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.

This is the chaos that surrounds me right now, as I wallow on the couch with swollen feet. Thank goodness for my mum and Brit and the packers doing the heavy lifting around here, is all I can say.

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.

 Beckenham awaits.

Monday, June 27, 2016

disbelief

Three things.

1) Cry my beloved [adopted] country;
2) I have one whopper of a story I'm going to be giving the London Evening Standard about the housing market/what's happened to us with buying this house. It's the most unethical heathen of corrupt awfulness you could ever imagine;
3) I'm 37 weeks pregnant. I've never been 37 weeks pregnant before. 

Like so many people in the country at the moment, I am in mourning. So many of us (including those who actually voted 'Leave' and admitted that they didn't know what they were doing), did not expect this outcome.

The country is in turmoil - no plan, the lies that were told to bolster their campaign, Article 50 not being triggered before Cameron resigned, Scotland saying they'll cock block the decision (Yay for the Scots!), people realising fast that the only thing that is will change from being out of the EU is the decline of our economy and isolation of ourselves.
Immigration, so-called £350m 'funds' being given to the NHS (I mean, what kind of bullshit...), none of this is going to be capped or stopped - as they've all since admitted.

It's a mess. Which is why 3.7 million people (and counting) have signed a petition for Parliament to trigger another referendum altogether. Given the difference between Leave and Remain was 1 million votes, this is pretty telling.

On point 2. You will not believe what has gone down when it comes to us desperately trying to move into our house this coming Friday. If we manage to move by Friday. We have lost our minds in this process. Lost our minds and are on the brink of nervous breakdown.

On point 3. My mother reckons my belly is still not as large as when I had twins. (But we can safely say the rest of my body definitely is.)
I am waddling around like John Wayne and struggling to walk anywhere without huffing puffing and feeling the burn in the pubic area as she has dropped down now. I never experienced the 'drop down' last time either, as I had to be induced at 36 weeks.

I'm rather uncomfortable to say the least. Two weeks to go. It's total crunch time now.

At least, at this stage in the race, I don't have a massive pile (yet), or infections, like last time. The heartburn sets my throat on fire multiple times a day, and I'm chugging on the Gaviscon, but generally it is easier carrying one than multiples at this stage.

Kind of dreading the move though. Good God.

Monday, June 20, 2016

the eu referendum and maternity leave


Maternity leave, at least until your baby actually arrives, is a weird sort of limbo where you don't do anything, but feel as if you should be doing something.

Make no mistake, last week was sensational. I was clocking two naps a day, snacking almost continuously from the fridge, and meeting up with mummy mates who don't work, for coffee and shopping breaks.

Meeting mum friends for coffees, without the distraction of my 2 year old, is a first for me. While Sebby was at nursery, me and a mate cruised the aisles of Peter Jones in Sloane Square for Father's Day gifts and dribble bibs. I could actually go to a shop and browse. Look at shit. Walk. Stop for cake.
It's a wonderful sort of purgatory, that you know will only be a matter of weeks, but it's more relaxing than any holiday I've taken in two years.

I have also booked in the day I will have her. C section is booked in for 12 July. That's in three weeks. Yup, when I sit and really think about this, I freak out. In three weeks, it's going to be chaos. All this muffin-eating, shop-hopping, nap-having freedom - doing stuff for me - will abruptly be over. For years to come.

This week, things have ramped up a little. My mother has come over, and we are starting to get into packing mode. We should hopefully be able to move on 29 June. We will know today or tomorrow for sure. I mean, we are inching so close to the finish line, I can smell the sweat. Just a few more signatures and we can go. I can almost touch and taste it. COME ON.

I just hope I can discipline myself enough to step back from the packing and boxing process, and let them get on with it. The Control Freak Me wants to watch everything, make sure nothing gets broken, bumped or stolen, and it's all packed into the right boxes. The Pregnancy 36-38 Week Mama Me knows that the best thing to do in this situation is back the fuck off and leave for the day.
Having mum here is meant to help, but it's not helping like I'd hope: she stresses more than I do.

In the big, wide world outside of our moving and baby bubble, the country is poised, on its knees, while the Leave and Remain campaigns rage on.
The EU Referendum campaigning has really really annoyed me. You cannot trust a thing any politician has to say, as they are blatantly feathering their own nests, and, from both sides, throwing out inaccurate and misleading figures and facts. Both preying on fears; economy versus immigration.

And let's not even go into the vicious murder of MP Jo Cox.

While I've always been a 'mostly Remain' kind of girl, I have ventured across the line to Leave a few times. Then back again. Then on the fence. Then unsure. Now sure. I've entertained most scenarios. I believe most people have, and are. My Brit is still largely undecided, but leaning into Remain.

I withdrew from listening to the debates with any seriousness a few weeks ago, and have only looked at third party or 'expert' opinions, and myth debunkers. I'm only listening to people who don't have an agenda, and who actually know what they're talking about. 

The conclusion I have come to is that both campaigns are inherently evil.

While one we would cast a vote in complete darkness, not knowing the future; the other is casting a vote for something we know won't really change. (If Cameron hasn't managed to change it in his negotiations now, why would he if we continue to Remain?)

So I've chosen to vote for the one I think is slightly less evil than the other; the one that has slightly more credibility and stability than the other, and the one that would suit mine and my family's needs for the future - because that's what this is about. The businessmen that support Remain do so because it is in their interests; Richard Branson, for example. So while Remain gets my vote on Thursday, it only just gets my vote.

I'm in.

I believe that the UK will remain in. The population tends to go for status quo; and the poster children for Brexit aren't exactly credible. Besides, I do dream of one day retiring in the sun in France or Spain if my final days allow me.

And that's not because they branded my child with a sticker on the streets over the weekend.
(And no coincidence that he is sporting an ice cream moustache - of the authentic Italian gelato variety.)

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

almost transition time


It's my second-to-last day at work. Crikey, I can't believe we're finally here. It feels like I've been scaling a vertical wall for the last few weeks; and when I walk it feels like I am moving my way through mud. I'm slow, shuffling and waddling, I break into a sweat, and getting anywhere is just not easy anymore.

But here we are. A year stretches before me, sans office.

I've decided to look at this as a job rotation this time round. While I may be swapping my 9-5 with caring for a baby, I'm transitioning into an entirely new job. Maternity leave is not a holiday.

I am merely doing a rotation; until summer next year. I'm scared. It is harder to be a full-time mum to a newborn than it is doing a job you know well, has a manual, you have years of experience in, and you can leave at the end of each day. Full-time motherhood is 24 hours, unpredictable, incessant, sleep-deprived firing-on-all-cylinders, madness, if I'm honest. It is hard, hard work.

I'm girding my loins.

Needless to say, I don't feel terrified to do this like I did the first time. I have done this before and survived; and I at least have some experience under my belt. I cried when I left work last time; knowing that my life was going to change forever. This time, my life is already changed. It's just going to get more intense. And there will be more than one child in the mix.

Yeah, I'm scared. Can't lie. The juggle scares me. How will I tend to Sebastian while also tending to a baby, I have absolutely no idea.
My mother is coming over from South Africa for a while, and I will be relying on my husband a lot.

Seb might need to learn how to make himself a sandwich over the next few weeks.

But not only that - how am I meant to teach him how to crap in his potty while trying to get my newborn to latch on? I just don't know how this will work, I can only trust that billions of mothers before me have managed, so will I.

Then there's the other big thing happening, pretty much as I have my new baby. We are moving to our house. We are desperately hoping we have a week's grace period in between actual moving and me exiting 1 x human out of my abdomen. But the way things are going, I am imagining torrid scenes of my waters breaking while boxes are being hauled into our new abode, and/or fervent rummaging through my hospital bag, trying to find my TENS machine because I start getting contractions, brought on by stress.

I would like a c-section, and earlier than my 40 weeks, because this way I feel like I have one element of control over this process. And the sooner I can hold her, alive and well, the sooner I will be able to stop worrying. Or this worrying will be taken over by new worries that aren't stillborn-related.

We'll forget for a minute that we are moving into a three storey house with lots of stairs that I won't be able to climb for a few weeks because of the c-section.

Tomorrow, my team and I are going for a lovely little high tea at the Sanderson Hotel as I bid adieu to overflowing inboxes, having to wear clothes that aren't made of tracksuiting, and things like high teas in the middle of the city. Phrases like:

"This story is getting massive pick-up;" and
"That will only aggravate the news cycle;" and
"That's not part of our Q3 strategy, we can't prioritise that;" and,
"He calls himself a journalist? This is nothing but clickbait piffle, I'm calling his editor."

I'm swapping PR for BR. Babies Room.

"What colour is her pooh meant to be at this stage, green or yellow?"
"Have you steralised the teat?"
"Ouch, my f$^cking nipple."
"She smiled, didn't she? That was a smile. C'mon on my liddle widdle coodie woodie, smile for Mummy."


I'm so excited to meet her.