Friday, November 30, 2007

Does anyone know anything about babies????

Picture it...

You're on your new bicycle on a sunny warm day, no cares in the world. You come to the top of a hill and you can see for miles. You pause to take in the scene. You smell the clean air and place one foot on one of your pedals to steady yourself. You then place your other foot on the other pedal and slowly push forward. With both feet on your pedals, you quickly increase in speed down the hill. You can feel the warm breeze on your skin and dappled sunlight flashes gently across your face. As you get faster and faster, your confidence grows and your heart-rate increases and your adrenalin flows.

You take your hands off the handlebars, punching the air above your head, giving you the feeling of complete freedom. You gather more speed and start focusing on the bottom of the hill. With your arms outstretched above your head, you realise you may need to start think about breaking...and that's when you realise you headed for a thorny bush...which has a brick wall behind it. You used to be in control...you're not now.

That's the only way I can describe how I have been feeling during the last 3 weeks since Drew's arrival. It started surprisingly well...it was easy. Or so we thought! Then we headed for the bush and then the brick wall!

When I started this BLOG, I think my husband assumed once I'd had our baby, I would be able to create a new post everyday as I would have a 'life of luxury and lunch dates'. Unfortunately, I've yet to have a massage, spa or have my nails done and as for lunch...what's that? Is that what happens at 3.30pm when I scoff a piece of soggy toast and have to microwave a cold cup of tea???

Because of the jaundice, the midwives advised me to feed on demand to ensure the jaundice flushed out, so whenever Drew wanted to feed, she got it. After a few days, her feeding time increased and she fed for what seemed ages...sometimes anything up to 4hours.

In the meantime, Jerry ran around doing everything and I do mean EVERYTHING because I was tied to Drew for so long. I couldn't work out how I was ever going to be free so I could run a household when Jerry went back to work. The Community Midwives suggested Drew could be going through a growth spurt, but it seemed to be going on for a long time and it came to head last weekend when I got no sleep at all through the night because of her constant feeding. We decided to express and that's when it all became clear what was going on.

Expressing showed us just how much milk I was making and how much Drew was drinking which definitely wasn't enough for a 4 hour feed, so we realised Drew was using me as a comforter after her feed...nuzzling in and then going to sleep. So...we put a stop to that and put her in the garage. Only joking...the shed. Only joking! I know you don't want to know everything about Drew's feeding habits, but she's still feeding on demand, but once she's gone through the 3 stages of a feed, I take her off my boobie which tends to be about 30mins. Just in case you're wondering what the 3 stages are, as I had no idea a few days ago...

1. Sucking as much milk as possible
2. Sucking, but going off to sleep
3. Fast stimulation (where they stimulate you to make more milk as required)

I still express and feed Drew from a bottle for the midnight 'dream' feed which also gives me the flexibility of Jerry feeding her. However, as I'm such a nice person, I let Jerry sleep straight through so he isn't disturbed so he can function at work. SO...if anyone from the office is reading this and Jerry is blagging having not much sleep, you now know he's doing it for attention and has been sneaking into the toilets and putting onions in his eyes!!! The rest of the feeds, Drew still breastfeeds and doesn't seem to have any problem switching between bottle and breast like you're told by the 'experts' might happen.

Drew is doing brilliantly and is now sleeping nearly through the night...well for 6 hours anyway and we moved her from our bedroom into her own nursery about a week ago. We've got a walkie-talkie so we can hear every little squeak and windy-pop, and it allows us to speak to her via the walkie-talkie and switch a night light on and off. It also provides endless entertainment for Mummy & Daddy to play 'pretend lorry drivers'..."10.4 Rubber-Ducky. Over!"

I wasn't sure how well I was doing looking after Drew during my first week without Jerry, but I decided to not stay at home the whole time and challenged myself with going out to different places and visiting the girls from our Antenatal Class. Its seems stupid, but you have to work your way up to shopping at Asda, parking and going into the Post Office, walking the dog, visiting Ikea. It's not like you can just 'pop' out like you used to. You have to be well organised and I think that's why God made women good multi-taskers. We're like a Swiss Army Knife and men are like a Bayonet...both valuable and highly useful, but one may function batter than the other! If you don't know what a Bayonet is...that illustrates the point too. What do they do??? if I can offer any advice to new Mums, don't turn down an offer of help from your Mum...as long as you get on with her!

My Mum (who just happens to be THE best Mum in The Universe) has stayed with us for 5 days and having her with us has been invaluable. Thankfully, my Mum isn't one for telling me what I'm doing wrong and how I could do something better, otherwise she'd be on the first train back to Teignmouth. However, she has provided us with invaluable advice and support and succeeded in stopping Drew from continuing to cry by suggesting she may still need winding. Okay...it might be common sense to some readers...but not to us rookie parents! Mum has helped us to identify the different cries and when we should just let her cry herself to sleep...which was hard to do. Not only has Mum given us an insight into effective parenting, but she makes a mean scone and is great at ironing. Thanks Mum.

If you are wondering why I've not mentioned my Dad, unfortunately he had a cold and couldn't come to stay but I understand he's enjoyed the quiet time surfing the Internet and spending 5 days in his pyjamas. Bless.


Thursday, November 22, 2007


Apologies this update has taken soooo long to hit my BLOG, but as you can guess, our little bundle of ploppy love made an appearance on the due date. We didn’t expect anything less with having two parents who like to be organised, so major ‘brownie’ points (excuse the pun) for the baby!

So, here’s the run-down:-

- Waters broke at 5.55am on the actual due date – 8th Nov
- Although the hospital said ‘take your time…mosey on into hospital in a few hours’, the contractions were strong immediately

- Jerry (love him) was eager to make sure I had breakfast before we left and was feeding me honey-covered crumpets whilst I sat on the toilet feeling an urgent need to push. I didn’t finish the crumpet.
- The hospital advised me the contractions would be infrequent and bearable at the beginning, but that wasn’t the case for us. The pain was in my lower back and gave me the feeling of wanting to push immediately. I am told this was because the baby was sitting on my bowels.
- We finally got into the car about 7.45am only to realise it was a Thursday…rush hour traffic!
- Because the pain was so bad and was coming every minute, I started to look around the car to decide which foot well would be the best position to give birth in…IF we didn’t get to the hospital in time.

- The build-up of rush hour traffic only made things worse and I couldn’t understand why we couldn’t jump the queues by shouting ‘Get out the way…I’m in labour!’. Thankfully, we made it to the hospital doors within 45 excruciating minutes. Jerry had to drop me off while he found a parking space and I just collapsed into a wheelchair. I must have been screaming in pain as 3 hospital staff came to me instantly and took me into the delivery suite and Jerry followed closely behind with all our bags and hospital notes.
- Our first Midwife, Sonia, was great and basically told me that this was our labour and we say what goes. My request for an epidural there and then just made her smile.
- I wasn’t sure if I should be lying on the bed, sat in a chair or what and Sonia just said ‘do whatever feels most comfortable’. However, there was no free chocolate vending machine and Brad Pitt was nowhere to be seen. Because of the lower back pain, being on all fours was the best position for me to breathe through the contractions.
- I was given gas and air which only made me feel woozy and made me throw up. It was a nice orangey Lucozade colour.
- After a while, I threw the gas and air tube to the floor (much to Jerry’s disappointment as I think he was keen to have a go too). I was then given Pethidine and advised it would take about 20mins to work. 45 minutes later…nothing…it didn’t work.
- At about 10.15am, I pleaded for something stronger for the pain, but the Midwife suggested a bath might help.
- I can remember walking through each stage of running a bath in my head, how long each stage would take…
Walking into the bathroom – 8 secs
Turning taps on – 4 secs
Waiting for hot water to filter through – 30 secs
Waiting for bath to fill up – 7-10 mins
Checking temperature – 5 secs
. Adjusting temperature – 2 mins
Worse case scenario = 10 mins 49 secs…
That would mean about 5 – 8 painful contractions!! Could I wait that long?!!*!*!*!?

- I negotiated. I agreed to try a bath and if that didn’t work, I wanted an Epidural. Sonia agreed and Jerry ran the bath whilst I screamed…wondering whether the rooms were soundproof… still not sure.
- I lasted 10 seconds in the bath, only wanting to be on all fours again.
- At that point, Jerry asked for an Epidural for me and I knew it would take anything upto an hour to find an Anaesthetist who was available at that time, so I was really keen to get the balling rolling.
Sonia left us and returned within 5 minutes with…the Anaesthetist! HOORAY!!
- The Anaesthetist was lovely, but I couldn’t believe she had to run through a questionnaire with me about the risks of administering the Epidural. Didn’t she realise I was in pain?!!
- I answered all the questions, then she had to sterilise. This took about 15 minutes. Unfortunately, she touched something which was not sterile by mistake and had to de-sterilise and then sterilise herself again. All this took about an hour. All the time, I’m asking in my most polite manner…’could you hurry up!’ Jerry has since told me I only screamed the ‘F’ word twice. Not bad eh?!

- At last, the Anaesthetist explained I had to perch myself on the edge of the bed and keep v e r y s t i l l so she could insert the needle and tube into my spine. That meant not moving when the contractions came.
- I didn’t realise it until after the birth, but there were two attempts to insert this as I must have squirmed on the first attempt. Once the tube was inserted, it was strapped up my back and over my shoulder where a valve was attached which regulated the amount of the drug. This was then attached to a machine which held the Epidural drug. The effect was instant…

It was dogs kahoonas!!

- What I didn’t realise is you lose all feeling below which includes EVERYTHING!! So, they inserted a catheter. That was weird…watching the bag fill up with wee and you’re not even aware you’re weeing! What was even funnier was Jerry accidentally sitting on my bag!!
- Sonia then finished her shift and we were introduced to THE best Midwives, ever. Donna and Nicki. Nicki was in her final year of Midwifery and Donna was her Mentor. They filled us with a great feeling of safety, security and comfort and over the next few hours, they made the best use of the time and taught Jerry and I the concept of ‘Deal, No Deal’ which was on the telly in our delivery suite
- From this point, I could only feel a slight feeling of wanting to have a pooh which Donna and Nicki advised me was the contractions.
- For some reason, I could still feel my left leg slightly, so I was given an Epidural top-up and told to turn on my left side, so the drug could drip into my left leg…and it worked!
- At about 5.00pm, I was told that it was time to start pushing. Using the slight contraction feelings I could still sense as a guide, the Midwives told me when to push, how long to push for and when to stop. We did this for each contraction for about an hour. In between which, they showed Jerry the baby’s head which was about 30 minutes away from the world. During the last moments, Donna passed over full control to Nicki and she told me to push, then pant at specific times.
- Jerry was able to see the head again which was nearly out...

- At 6.33pm, our baby girl, Drew Jessica Hartell ("DJ") came into our world and weighed 6lbs 9.5oz

- All in all, it was a 12.5 hour labour….Jerry video’d the lot – not from the front end before you ask – also recording a detailed examination of the placenta which Nicki was more than happy to commentate!

- As a result of Jerry’s digital masterpiece, our Community Midwife has asked us to provide an edited version of our labour and birth for the next mums-to-be in the Antenatal Classes…anything’s better than watching a cartoon of a birth like we did!!!

- Having the Epidural meant I couldn’t eat during the whole 12 hours, so when the Midwives brought a cuppa tea and toast…it was most welcome. I was so in awe of Drew though, I missed Jerry finishing my last bites of toast…grrr!!

- Drew had jaundice for the next 5 days so had to stay in a photo light therapy unit (looks like a tanning salon!) in the same room as me. Broke my heart to see her in there, but it IS perfectly normal and she slept fine in the unit and had to wear goggles to protect her eyes.

- The Midwives in the Hospital were fantastic with providing us with breast-feeding help and support. Initially, because of the jaundice, Drew slept most of the time, so wasn’t getting enough milk and as I struggled with it at first (which is normal), I had to collect the colostrum through a syringe, drip by drip. It’s like watching paint dry, but a bit more uncomfortable… especially when a complete stranger is squeezing for you!

- Although you can check yourself out at anytime, the Midwives encourage you to stay until you are confidently breast-feeding, so I had to show them that I could do that and I needed the extra time in hospital to get that right.
- First 2 x nights at home – Drew slept all day and stayed awake a l l n i g h t ! ! !
- We worked out by keeping her awake during the afternoon means she sleeps so much better at night
- Feeding – we’re doing it on demand to help clear the jaundice, but it’s quite tiring as Drew feeds for about 1.5 – 2 hours at a time, every 3 – 4 hours. Makes you feel quite tied down and gives you an incredible sense of responsibility.
- I’ve gone through the sore nipples stage and Lansinoh cream certainly helped lots!!
- Feeding gets easier the more times I do it and I’ve learned to prepare everything beforehand…phone, remote controls, laptop, pen and paper…otherwise I get stuck for upto 2 hours not being able to do anything. I suppose that’s one of the hardest things…not being able to get on and do things while she’s feeding. In my head, I have a mental ‘to-do’ list which just gets longer and longer. It makes such a difference having a supportive partner. Jerry has been brilliant and I think I could get used to him preparing and cooking 3 times a day, running to the shops and doing the washing! The only drawback is that Jerry forgets to shave and it reminds me he’s really a ginger…let’s hope Drew misses that gene!
- We’ve been inundated with lovely cards, gifts and good wishes from SO many people and thank all of you. Drew, Jerry and I have been bowled over by the gifts which keep coming…some through the dog flap as our Postman doesn’t ring our doorbell as he knows we’ll be catching up on our sleep and puts the post through the dog flap!!
- Jerry goes back to work next week and I’m wondering how I’ll get on…I hear you just want to be left alone to get on with it…maybe I’ll be hiding behind the sofa when the doorbell goes like my Auntie did when she had her first!!!



Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Will I ever stop peeing???


It's well known that when you're pregnant, the frequency of trips to the loo increase because the uterus enlarges. As the uterus is anatomically close to the bladder, there is pressure from the uterus towards the bladder. This pressure may increase and some women can experience a small 'leak' when they cough or sneeze...see!! That proves we can still multi-task even when we're pregnant. Get us birds eh?!!

So, the advice is simple and obvious: go to the bathroom often! This means that although you feel like you're full to the brim, most of the
time you'll pee about a tablespoon worth each visit which is SO annoying...especially if your toilet is very far away or upstairs.

Luckily, our downstairs bathroom was completed last week and I now take great pleasure having a pee without having to work out whether I'll make it there without a 'sneaky leak'.

If you don't have a downstairs toilet AND you're pregnant, I am advised that this is a real benefit once baby arrives, so you should seriously consider how and if you can get one installed. Don't let your partner tell you its not possible because the pipes have to go vertically upwards & therefore gravity won't allow. We did it and it works fine!

The unit itself has a macerator so it chops up the paper and no.2's, but that's it. Nothing else. My Dad knows more than anyone the results of 'foreign objects' being disposed of by accident and I do remember him having to take their en-suite toilet pipework apart to retrieve the 'objects' on more than one occasion...Mum's fault. Not mine. Nice.

Anyway, back to peeing frequently...

I've worked out (and my parents will be proud of this bit cos it shows my high level maths ability...ahem) that I remember the frequency of my toilet visits increased when I was about 10 weeks pregnant...30 weeks ago. From this stage, the average frequency of a toilet visit was, and still is, approximately every 2 hours and the amount of 'pee' is approximately 1 tablespoon...I know, it's SO annoying.

So...this works out, up to this point (40 weeks), I have peed 2520 times which is equal to 66.6 Pints or 8.3 Gallons!!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Mucus Plug

Apologies for the graphic content of this post, but I did say I would post the REAL truth of what happens.

I went for a no. 2 this morning which was quite normal. And then...a lump of mucus came out. Don't worry, there are NO photos of this despite my Dad asking if I would add this to my BLOG today.

It wasn't too much of a shock as the Midwives told us about this in our Antenatal class. To explain, the mucous plug is a collection of cervical mucus that seals the opening of the cervix. It keeps bacteria and infection from entering into the cervix, providing a protective barrier for the developing baby.

Some women describe the mucous plug as looking more like the mucous in your nose. Depending on how close to labour you are, you may see pink, brown, or red blood around the edges of the mucous plug. This is called the “bloody show”. Sorry Mum...I'm not swearing...it really is called that! Anyway, in case you're wondering. Mine was more snot coloured.

So...as all that was a bit gross, how about a lovely photo of...Brad Pitt instead?!!


Birthday, Noodles and Gloves

It was my birthday on Saturday, just gone. I was sort of hoping that my birthday would fade into the background with the arrival of Baby Hartell. But, to no avail.

Having said that, I had a great birthday and I'm living proof you can
have a fantastic birthday with nothing more than a foam noodle, Lamb Kleftiko, other people's fireworks and no alcohol! I started off the day with smoked salmon and poached eggs on toast IN bed - mmmm... then off to the local pool for a 'float'. It's the first time in months I've done any kind of exercise as the SPD restricts leg/hip movement, so I used one of the 'noodle' floats. I just hung there in the water, bobbing around whilst Jerry was my invisible protection field, stopping the kiddywinks from kicking too close and the underwater lane-swimming oldies from popping up beneath me.

Lunch was a complete surprise...brought to our house by friends, Lucy, Marta & Matt. A Greek theme...stuffed vine leaves, olives, feta cheese, cous cous & tomato salad and Lamb Kleftiko. Flippen' lush! They did a great job keeping it all quiet and an even better job preparing it all AND taking the lamb off the bone BEFORE we ate it so fusspot here didn't moan about the bones! Bless them!!

As it was Saturday, the majority of bonfire and firework parties were held that night, so we were able to gatecrash other people's fireworks from our landing window. It was great! Shame our dog, Barney, didn't think so.

I was spoilt with presents for my birthday too. A Sony Cybershot digital camera which we SO needed, a handbag (don't usually do them, but I'm always so behind with girly things...didn't get my ears pierced 'til I was 18...thanks Mum!). Jerry also gave me a pair of black leather (murdering) gloves and matching scarf. Not sure black leather gloves are the most suitable present to give your wife when she's 39.5 weeks pregnant, suffering with backache, leg cramps, pins & needles, hormone fluctuation, and a burning groin...

Lets hope he remembers...I'm always right!!

Pins and Needles with 4 days to go

Well, this is a new one for me.

Pins and needles in my fingers and hands! Didn't know that could happen! It feels like I've been lying on my hands as they can go numb too, but it seems to happen even when I'm resting...weird!

Checked this out and apparently (as usual) it's quite normal. It's usually caused by fluid build-up around the wrists, which compresses the nerves that run to the hand muscles and skin, known as 'carpal tunnel syndrome' and tends to occur when there is also swelling in the ankles...

(stops to look down at ankles)

Great! I've got fat ankles too and didn't realise! Probably because I can't normally see them! I never realised going into this just how many symptoms are 'normal'. I haven't even mentioned the awful night-time leg cramps which can surprise you! Boy...they're painful!

Well, 4 days to go til 'B' Day. I have another Midwife Appointment booked 4 days AFTER my due date. This will be to check on the health of the baby and me (IF it hasn't made an appearance by then). The Midwife will also make an appointment at the hospital for me to be induced within 12 days of my due date. So...whatever happens...we will have a baby by 20th Nov!!! EEeeeeek!

Friday, November 2, 2007

Bringing on labour naturally...

With 6 days to go 'til 'B' Day, I have been researching 'natural' ways which could help to bring on labour:-
  1. Eating curry
  2. Eating pineapple
  3. Bouncing on a birth ball
  4. Drinking raspberry leaf tea
  5. Nipple Stimulation
  6. Sex
  7. Walking
I have to say that I have tried No. 1 a few times during this week and during the middle of the night (Weds), I started to feel abdominal pain. I started to time the length and frequency of these pains. However, the third pain was quickly followed by a good old fashioned bottom burp...Doh!

Next. No. 2. Eating Pineapple. Hmmm...I guess they meant not tinned then?

Bouncing on the birth ball...No. 3...So, it took me a while to climb from the coffee table onto the top of the ball. I don't know about anyone else, but its incredibly hard to balance let alone bounce!

No. 4...Raspberry Leaf Tea...yep. Been doing that. Tastes okay. That's an easy one.

No. 5...This releases the oxytocin hormone and may help start labour. It's only likely to be successful if the cervix is 'ripe' and ready to dilate, otherwise it seems to help with the ripening process. There is no rule on how much nipple stimulation you need, or how often, to stimulate contractions...but I've set aside 2hours a day with Jerry...for the good of the baby of course!

No. 6...sex...yeah right! As if! That's what got us into this predicament in the first place and with SPD...I can't even remember where to start!!

Walking...No. 7...well I don't know about anyone in the same position as me, but I can't walk hardly anywhere because of the SPD symptoms, but IF I do go anywhere, I always predetermine where the toilets are first. It may only be a half teaspoon of wee, but...
i t f e e l s g r e a t !