Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Mind the gap!

My abdominal divarication was more pronounced during my third pregnancy than in the two previous pregnancies and it is taking a long time to heal.

Since my second daughter's birth, I have been doing some very gentle exercises to start bringing the muscles back together. Pelvic floor exercises, three times a day, and abdominal holds once a day in bed. Today, I attended a physio appointment back at the hospital.

The divarication is bad: 10cm across at its widest and 5cm at it narrowest point. My abdominal muscle tone is poor. I have to 'challenge' the muscles to bring them back together but it is going to take time and I have to take it slowly.

The physiotherapist reminded me that it has only been 4 weeks since my daughter was born and that I have done well to lose all the baby weight I put on. No dieting or strenuous exercise is allowed though, so any further weight loss will have to wait until I've worked on the divarication. I'm not supposed to lift any weight greater than my baby - even lifting her in her car seat is too much! I must also continue to roll out of bed and avoid engaging my upper abdominal muscles as far as possible.

I have to continue the pelvic floor exercises three times a day (long holds and quick pulses, ten sets of each). I also have to tighten my deep, transverse abdominal muscles and have one exercise to do once a day. Then, I have to see the physiotherapist in one month's time to see how much progress I've made.

My goal is to be able to re-join the gym and do two work-outs per week by the time I return to work next September. The physiotherapist thinks this is realistic and achievable. Wish me luck!

Saturday, 20 September 2014

While you are sleeping...

The sage advice to new mums is that you should try to sleep whilst baby is sleeping. This is a great idea and I do sometimes take advantage of baby's nap time to catch 40 winks. However, there are other activities that I also like to try to achieve in one of the naps my newborn has between feeds. Here's my top ten:

1) Make a cup of tea and drink it hot!

2) Eat something. Anything. I need an extra 400 calories per day, apparently.

3) Check my diary - I'm sure I am supposed to be somewhere at some point but I have forgotten!

4) Check the internet - with no family nearby and all my friends working part-time, I rely on Facebook and email to keep in touch with people and arrange fleeting catch-ups over coffee

5) Re-stock the change bag

6) Take a shower

7) Get dressed

8) Online shopping. I love the internet for bringing the world into my home. I can order anything I need and have it delivered to my front door. Mostly, I use online shopping for groceries but I check out the sales at a few clothes/shoe retailers and keep our Amazon wish lists up to date (it saves thinking about it too much close to birthdays and Christmas).

9) Solve the Guardian cryptic crossword

10) Watch you sleep!

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Reflections on the third trimester

During my second pregnancy, I looked back over the first two trimesters and recorded my feelings and experiences (see here and here). I didn't write a summary of the third trimester because my son was stillborn and bereavement became the focus of my blog for a while.

Now that my younger daughter is a few weeks old, I feel I ought to write about how my third pregnancy went, in particular, the last few months. I wrote this post for the HICTHY blog the week before my induction but there are some other feelings I would like to record and share.

My weight was recorded at 36 weeks. I had gained approximately 11kg, compared with my weight at the 10-week booking appointment. All of this weight was in the bump and it put incredible strain on my back and abdominal muscles. My divarication (evident since about 14 weeks into the pregnancy) seriously limited my mobility and my ability to perform normal functions, like lifting, carrying and housework. From about six months, people would comment on the size of my bump and exclaim at how long I had left until my due date. In the end, I started fibbing about when my baby was due so that I didn't have to answer so many questions!

I felt guilty for the impact of my immobility on my elder daughter. I found it extremely difficult to get down to her level to play. She couldn't sit comfortably on my lap and it was hard to find a position in which to give her a big cuddle. I felt bad for making her wait so long for me to get up and about when she needed something and I didn't like myself when my aches and pains made me tired and irritable and grumpy with her. At one point, she said "I think we'll stop having babies after this one is born, Mummy." When I asked why, she said "Because then your tummy muscles can go back together and you can play and be more fun."

I found it hard to share in other people's excitement about my pregnancy. The closer I got to 34 weeks (the point at which I lost Monty) and then, beyond that, towards my induction date, the more anxious I felt. I arranged almost weekly appointments with the community midwives and hospital consultants to bolster my strength and seek reassurance.

I left work at 34 weeks. Until that point, I had made few preparations for my baby's arrival. We got all the baby things (clothes, bedding, toys, equipment) down from the loft. I washed and sorted it and the house began to look like we were expecting a baby. I was expecting to feel a mixture of emotions and flashbacks to Monty's birth. In actual fact, because all the baby paraphernalia related to my elder daughter, there was very little to spark memories of my son. The few items I had bought especially for him are safely stored in his memory box. I couldn't use them for another child.

The third trimester was tiring. Emotionally and physically exhausting. It seemed to last for a long time. It was almost impossible to find a comfortable position in which to sit, stand or sleep. I spent a lot of time 'listening' for baby's movements and keeping track of how and when I felt her kick.

When we were finally given our induction date, I felt excited and ready. My husband panicked. That last week dragged. I needed to get to induction day and hold our baby in my arms. To hear her cry. To see her face. To bring her home.

Friday, 12 September 2014

A warm reception

This week, my elder daughter started school!

Following a home visit (during which her teacher commented on her confidence, which hadn't shown through at the in-school stay and play sessions earlier in the Summer), term started for the new intake on Monday morning. My daughter was so excited that she was up and fully dressed in her uniform before 8 o'clock! We had packed her book bag the night before with snack money, her water bottle and a packet of tissues (my idea - just in case!). My husband persuaded her to eat a good breakfast and clean her teeth without dribbling toothpaste onto her new school jumper and then she nagged us to get ready and take her to school.

At the school gate, was a large group of parents and grandparents with children looking smart in their brand new uniforms. The head teacher, the two reception class teachers and the teaching assistants were there to meet us with big smiles and welcome us to school. We had a quick orientation of the classroom, put her bag, water bottle and PE kit in the right places and then had a quick cuddle to say 'cheerio'. My husband and I were a little nervous as we walked away, leaving our 'little big girl' with her new teachers and hoping that she would like school and have a good time.

Thankfully, the first morning was a success and she was raring to return the next day. Each morning, she has puts her book bag in the blue box and her water bottle in the green crate, then finds her name badge and puts it on a plastic clip on the register. Next, she likes to find 'Digby the Dog' - the class soft toy 'pet' - and settle down to play at one of the workstations. Whilst she has played with a couple of girls and can remember the names of most of the children in her class, no strong friendships have yet emerged (except for her affection for Digby!).

When a neighbour asked my daughter what she had been doing at school this week, her answer was "Learning!". They have played rhyming games, built models with Lego, drawn and painted, and played outside.

We have another two weeks of part-time settling-in sessions to do - afternoons next week, followed by mornings and lunches the week after - before attending school full time. I am so proud of how well my daughter has adapted to big school and hope she continues to enjoy it for the next 14 years!

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Things I had forgotten about establishing breast-feeding

I breast-fed my elder daughter for over a year and, by the end, we were really good at it. However, it wasn't easy at the beginning. Four years later, I'm breast-feeding my newborn younger daughter, re-learning my technique and it's bringing back lots of memories:
  • Hand-expressing frustratingly small volumes of colostrum to encourage baby to feed on the first night (and having said colostrum sucked up from nipple  into a syringe by a midwife)
  • The toe-curling, sharp, prickly, stinging pain of the latch-on until your nipples get used to being sucked on 8-9 times a day
  • Attempting to hold baby correctly (one hand behind her back/shoulders, the other holding your breast in position) whilst simultaneously shushing, keeping her arms and hands out of the way and maintaining a good, upright position for your own spine is nigh-on impossible!
  • How quickly your boobs engorge when your milk comes in...
  • ...and how baby has to re-learn her latching technique because your engorged boobs are so firm
  • There is no nicer sound than that of a baby contentedly swallowing her milk
  • The post-feed cuddle, where she sleeps on you all warm and floppy - 'milk drunk'
  • The ferocity of the post-feed poo
  • Middle of the night baby hiccups
  • Lanolin very quickly becomes your new best friend 
  • Religiously recording all feeds, which side you fed from and for how long (although, now there's an app for that!)

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

My precious babies

I look at your sister and I think of you.
I cry a little (just a tear or two)...

I gaze on her face as she drinks from my breast
And smile as she snuggles to sleep on my chest

I nuzzle her forehead, kiss her with care
And drink in that 'newborn smell' from her hair

I rock her to sleep in the still of the night
She fits in the crook of my arm, just right.

I wonder what she will grow up to be?
Will she look like big sister or daddy or me?

And I cry a little, just a tear or two,
Because I couldn't do any of these things for you.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014