The boob dramas

It has taken me several days to muster the emotional energy to write this post. The past week has been one of the hardest and most draining I have experienced in some time. 

The short summary of all of this is that I’m faced with a low milk supply currently. Everything with feeding had been going swimmingly with Baby N a natural until I went home last Thursday. Hindsight suggests that I got too stressed, anxious and exhausted in the first two days home and this manifested itself in a drop in my supply. I’m quite angry at my husband about this – although have not directly discussed it – because I think he had some kind of adjustment meltdown during these days which manifested itself in him being difficult and not helpful at times. 

Throw into the works that I have no family here, being a first time mum is terrifying and I’m in recovery for the c-section and you’ll see the general picture of how it all fell apart. I also came home from the clinic to several loads of washing and various chores that needed doing. While he did pick up a lot of the slack, he quickly seemed resentful to my requests for things to be done. I’m sure I was demanding but HELLO, if this is not the time for him to be super-husband and suck it up I don’t know when is. 

By Sunday the paediatrician was telling me to get a breast pump to support my feeding as baby N was not gaining weight. Hubby again procrastinated with this, so we were delayed in getting one. By Tuesday the Dr was getting worried. This came after The Worst Night Ever where the baby cried and fussed all night and could not be soothed. Now we know that’s because he was starving hungry but then I just thought I was the most awful mother ever as the night turned into day and I had not slept a wink. 

Tuesday was also the date of our baby photo shoot and unfortunately the photos just show to me a hungry, exhausted baby. It’s something that makes me sad to my core. I think I’m going to hate those photos forever now. 

By Tuesday night we had sourced a breast pump from a friend but then so many small dramas one after the other led to us not having the right parts and I wasn’t able to pump until Wednesday – a full THREE DAYS since the doctor told us to start pumping. This is bad because my milk supply had depleted even further during these (wasted) days. I have cursed myself multiple times for not having bought one before baby arrived. Same goes for a steriliser, bottles etc and also the sunshade for the car window,

By Tuesday night I was worried sick about the baby, my parents-in-law had also involved themselves in the situation and between them and my husband they all insisted I give the baby some formula. I was so exhausted and confused and worried that I relented, even though I didn’t want to. I’ve always believed strongly in breast feeding and the overwhelming sensation for me was abject failure. 

Failure as a woman. Failure as a mother. Also, if you look at my whole journey I’ve failed to do things the natural way. I’ve failed to conceive naturally, I had to take many medications to continue the pregnancy, I had to deliver via c-section and now I can’t breast feed effectively. Total failure. I cried rivers on Tuesday. It was exhausting. I was so devasted I couldn’t even bring myself to tell my mum what was going on. Not that she can do much from the other side of the world, but still. 

Of course the thing to focus on is that the baby needs feeding and he was immediately better with formula. He slept better and longer (as did I) and he looked better on Wednesday (also as did I). 

Once I got my pump going Wednesday I was able to supplement his breast feeds with a top up of booby milk via a bottle. We also started a new regime whereby hubby feeds him formula at about 1am which means I can sleep from about 11pm to around 3am when he wakes up for his next feeds. I’ll confess this works remarkably well and I almost feel human with this schedule. I’m grateful to my husband for this. 

I did however feel embarrassed telling the paediatrician that I used some formula as she’s super pro-breast feeding but I eventually did. She wasn’t so cross at me but she was furious at my inlaws for pressuring me to use formula. Meanwhile the inlaws keep mentioning other paediatricians that they know are excellent in a not-so-subtle dig that I should change doctors. 

So much of this is (unwelcome) cultural politics. I chose the paediatrician without consulting them and also she’s a foreigner (like me). So regardless of how super qualified she is (she studied at Oxford, FFS) they are never going to like her. Ugh. 

We did another weigh in on Friday and unfortunately baby has only gained a little weight so I have to be more focused on quality feeds. My life now is a cycle of direct breast feeding, followed by giving him a top up of previously expressed booby milk, followed by more pumping. It’s exhausting and means I can do very little else. 

I can get about 40-50ml per pumping session now which is a big improvement on 10-20ml on Wednesday. I’m also taking some herbal supplements including Fenugreek to support my supply. 

Hubby is not super supportive of my efforts to continue breast feeding and seems to think formula is a better and easier option. It’s hard to stay focused without a supportive network around and I’ll confess I’m really down about the whole thing. 

Hubby is delighted to be going back to work on Monday and is not hiding it. He’s certainly making big efforts to help with many things especially as I cannot drive for another few weeks. He’s tired too and I appreciate that. However, I’m now worried about how I will be on my own. I’ve already gotten some cabin fever!! It would be better  if I could drive but also if it was cooler weather. I can’t even take the baby for a walk in the stroller as it’s over 30 degrees by 9am. I could take him in the evening after about 8pm but I’m so exhausted that I have not managed this either. Maybe that’s my goal for next week.  

To finish on a positive, baby N is overall a lovely baby. He only cries when he’s hungry (see above), if he has some gas or if you strip him naked. I appreciate I have a lovely baby who even looks like me (yay) so it’s not all bad. It was a bad week and the pumping is not fun but if we can get his weight up then everything will be ok. 

Notes from the frontline

We are now one week into parenthood and what a ride it has been so far! I’ve always thought of myself as a highly capable and practical person who is able to overcome life’s challenges. I don’t know why I thought this would make me a competent parent but I’m now convinced that this confidence was misplaced in ego. This parenting thing is HARD!!

But first let’s wind it all back. Our guy, let’s call him baby N, was born on Monday morning with all of Monday a fog of rapture, feelgood hormones and opiate painkillers. Baby N was doing great all round, he got perfect 10s on his Agpar score and he was a natural breast feeder immediately. The adrenaline that came with his arrival took me flying through to Tuesday. So much so that I didn’t sleep on Monday night. 

Tuesday rolled around and the nurses helped me to have my first post-delivery shower. This was both wonderful and absolutely disgusting as standing up allowed gravity to do its thing and let’s just say that it’s better not to look at what’s going down the drain during that shower!! That said, by Thursday I had absolutely no bleeding whatsoever which is brilliant!

By Tuesday I was able to be up and freely mobile which was also a relief. It meant I could use the bathroom independently, as well as pick up and change baby N. I had it all worked out!

Then Tuesday night happened. There was no sleeping on Tuesday night. I should have utilised the clinic’s nursery services more and let them takeover so I could have a sleep but I thought I’d be a super hero instead. The result: I was ridiculously tired and tearful on Wednesday. 

Not wanting to make that mistake again, baby N had a few hours in the nursery Wednesday night which was lovely. Uninterrupted sleep!! Whoever thought that would become my obsession?! He also took naps during the day so I would patch my sleep total together wherever possible. 

While in the clinic, the midwives there taught me the likes of how to bathe him and supported me with my breastfeeding. This clinic is like some kind of mothership of motherhood! I also made friends with another first-time mum whose son was born a few hours after baby N. She had her son naturally so we were comparing “war stories” although it wasn’t obvious which of us had it better/worse. Birth in all forms seems to be both beautiful and ugly in equal measures. 

By Thursday I was completely ready to go home to familiarity and a nice sleep in my own bed. We headed home as a family, full of optimism and delight at being able to return to the comfort of home and our peaceful lives as a proper family. 

Hahahahahaha!

Thursday night. 

The first night home. 

Why does no one warn you that the first night home is so incredibly terrible?!!!

I’m clearly no expert, but in retrospect I think the change in environment for baby N was quite a shock. He didn’t want to sleep in his Moses basket – why would he when all he had slept in until this point was my uterus, my arms and the clinic cot (and he much preferred my arms to the clinic cot anyway)?

The Thursday night, first-night-home experience involved a TOTAL of less than 2 hours sleep, 6 changes of clothes for baby N, a fast lesson on making certain the baby boy’s willy is facing down in the nappy/diaper (the wee comes out the top of the waistband otherwise, I can personally confirm that to be true), and a sea of tears from me. 

My lovely paediatrician gave me a pep talk when she visited on Friday so now I know that everything I experienced is pretty normal and to be expected for the first night actually. 

She suggested to make things better I should make an earlier start on the evening so that I can get 1-2 hours sleep in before the witching hours (as I call them) of between 1am-6am. That 5 hour stretch of night can seem endless when your baby is crying and so are you. 

Her advice was good because that tiny bit of extra sleep earlier in the evening allowed me to cope with the rest of the night better. Friday night was a big improvement on Thursday and I found I had a bit more confidence going into Saturday night.

But I’m my own worst enemy and on Saturday night I failed to go to bed early enough and suffered accordingly. The first time I went to sleep on Saturday night was about 4am Sunday morning and even then the sleep was limited!!! 

Sunday I started worrying that I’m not feeding baby N properly because he seems to always want to be on the boob. You seriously cannot get anything done with a baby on your boob all day. 

While he has gained weight well this week, yesterday’s weigh in showed he had not gained anything since Friday. My paediatrician was not super worried but is keen to see him put on some more weight in the coming days. 

We spent a lot of time trying to practice getting him to latch strongly but it seems he is a lazy one and tends to fall asleep on my boob. We will be looking into possibly breast pumping and some bottle feeding in the coming days because of this. 

She also gave me a little telling off as I’ve not eaten a lot since his birth and this could be affecting my milk supply. When I’m stressed I tend to not eat or lack hunger, and boy have I been stressed these past few days!!! It manifests itself in a feeling of anxiety not dissimilar to how you might feel before an exam or running a marathon but it lasts for several days non-stop. Anyway, from last night I started eating more in the hopes that baby N will start packing on the pounds if I give him a good supply of booby milk and stay hydrated. 

Overall baby N is a good baby. He does sleep, albeit for shorter periods of time than I’d like, and he doesn’t cry for other reasons besides being hungry. Even so, I have found myself crying every single day. The feelings are so confusing. Over the past few days I’ve felt like I’m letting baby N down by not being a good enough and natural enough mother, I’ve felt like I’ve been a bad wife by not giving my husband any real attention and I’ve even felt guilty for not playing with my cats more. It’s really hard to know what is good enough as a new mother and as a wife. 

I’ve definitely been trying to do too much around home and I noticed some mild swelling around my incision scar last night. I saw the doctor earlier today as he removed my external stitches but he said everything is ok. He indicated it is probably nothing to worry about as it may just be a little bleeding due my use of Clexane blood thinners. 

I have been pleasantly surprised by how quickly my belly has been recovering. Day by day it seems a bit smaller. I’m genuinely shocked as a 38-year-old first time mum how resilient the body is!! Imagine how my recovery would have gone as a 25 year old?!!

Age: 1 week!!

Weight: 3.2kg (7 pounds) – birth weight 3.4kg

Feeding: Exclusive breastfeeding on demand. He takes around 45-60 mins to feed properly, sometimes longer if he’s fussing. 

Sleeping routine: I’m not sure he has a routine yet but he seems to sleep particularly soundly between 7am-10am and usually has a big afternoon nap. He likes to party between 2am-6am generally which is just great as you can imagine. 

He definitely sleeps better and longer when swaddles so I do this at night. During the day I let him sleep freely especially because it’s so hot here even with AC on. Swaddling makes babies hot being all wrapped up. 

Firsts: Everything seems like a first these days! He had his first car ride when we left the hospital (he slept through it), his first bath at home (assisted by his grandma), and his first nappy changed exclusively by daddy (yay daddy!!) 

Achievements: No big ones yet but he does lift his head up unassisted for a second when I have him on my shoulder. His Moro reflex is pretty funny too because when he does it he looks like a particularly animated orchestra conductor. 

Hair: He’s got a covering of light-medium brown hair around 1.5cm long. Its lightly wavy at the moment but who knows if it will stay like that. 

Eye colour: His eyes are dark blue now but both my husband and I have brown eyes and there’s no one in our families with blue eyes so it’s only a matter of time before they change. 

Things to do: This week we have to register his birth, take him for a hearing test and he has his baby photo shoot tomorrow. 

Things we have learned:

  • Always make sure the willy is facing down when putting on a new nappy/diaper 
  • Babies like to cluster their feeds together which can mean a series of a few hours with the baby on your boob practically non-stop. This is exhausting!!
  • Newborns don’t automatically like their bed at home and may take time to feel safe and familiar. In the meantime they’ll happily sleep on you which you will relent to doing if you’re so sleep deprived you’re in tears. 
  • Swaddling is great. Learn how to do it!!
  • Freshly washed baby smell is the best!!
  • A good chair and a nursing pillow are critical to breast feeding comfort.  I was silly and did not get a nursing chair in advance and so hubby went off yesterday to buy one. The difference it has made to me is huge!! I’m so much more comfortable and relaxed when feeding now. Well done hubby!

Mummy update: My total pregnancy weight gain was 16.5kg (36 pounds). One week post-partum and I’ve lost around 9kg (20 pounds). I’ve been hugely surprised by this but suspect the next losses will be harder to come by. 

My belly has gone down a lot. It’s still there but I now have a waist again which is nice. See below a comparison of my 38 week pregnant belly and my 1 week post-partum belly.




The kitties are generally fine with Baby N. As I expected, it is my littlest kitty who is the most affected. She is a bit jealous and so does naughty things like scratch the furniture to get my attention. None of the kitties have shown any sign of aggression, it’s more curiosity. See below for a pic of the kitty enjoying a cuddle alongside the baby. 

 

The small guy is here!

Yes, the day finally arrived and our little boy was safely born yesterday (17 July) at 8.35am. He weighs in at 3.420kg (about 7 and a half pounds) and is a very long 53cm. 

The boys holding hands!

As an overall summary of the c-section, it was remarkably unstressful and painless. I had been nervous as hell about the whole thing in advance, especially the epidural, but actually that stress was misplaced. 

I was taken into the theatre at 8am and the epidural took a few minutes to administer. The general anaesthetic before they insert the epidural was barely even a prick of the skin (it’s much more painful to have the central line put into your hand). It took a few minutes for the epidural to take the full effect and the only bad moment was that my blood pressure dropped dramatically at this point and I felt very nauseous, did some dramatic retching into a dish and had a bit of a cry. I was given something else to balance me out and felt fabulous after that. 

The actual c-section surgery was very quick – maybe 10 mins long – and totally painless. I had two surgeons working on me and they were pulling and yanking and leaning on my chest to get the baby out which was strange but did not hurt. 

Hubby was fascinated by all of the surgery so spent most of the time watching that rather than sitting with me. Watching his face was a good distraction – he is not at all squeamish so he loved seeing the whole process unfold. 

Before long our little guy was pulled out and I immediately felt substantially lighter and able to breathe fully again!! No big surprise after we learned how long he is! He let out some beautiful big wails straight away so I knew he had strong lungs. The doctor gave me a little peek at his face before the paediatrician took him for a few mins to check him over. 

He was still crying when she brought him to me and so she rested his forehead against mine – would you believe even that small amount of skin-to-skin contact was enough to soothe him. 

At this point, I also got a good look at him and I realised actually he doesn’t look like a replica of my husband as we thought the scans showed but actually he looks just like me as a newborn!! That was quite a surprise!!

After a few minutes of being sewn up I was taken to the recovery room where I was reunited with the baby, our son, for some proper skin-to-skin. The midwives helped me to get him to latch on and within less than 30 seconds he was feeding. It was incredible! In fact it turns out he is a real booby-lover as I’ve had almost no problem getting him to latch on since. 

I felt pretty good for the rest of the day yesterday which was certainly assisted by some light epidural top-ups and so much adrenaline coursing through my veins!!  We had some immediate family come as visitors yesterday (everyone has now seen my boobs) and now today there are other people popping by which is nice. 

This morning I was finally disconnected from the catheter and the central line which meant I could have a shower. It was a magnificent shower as I felt so gross but I found myself very overwhelmed by dizziness and nausea and barely made it back to bed before vomiting quite heavily. I think I’m a sensitive soul when it comes to vomiting in general so they gave me some anti-nausea meds and I’ve felt great ever since. 

It’s been quite a big developmental leap to parenthood but it’s great so far. I’ve even gone from being a nappy/diaper-changing novice to changing two today – one of them quite a messy meconium poo one. 

My belly has gone down significantly which is great. I do wonder what the scales will say too! I still have some bloating and baby belly flab (of course) but I am hopeful at least some of this will shift in the next few weeks. 

So 30 hours into motherhood and I’m hooked!! Seeing how much this little guy is bonded to me already and my heart is melted. ūüíô

*In the interests of retaining anonymity on the blog, anyone who wants a better photo of the baby is welcome to comment below and I’ll email you some pics directly. 

Week 38 – The final stats

This will be my last weekly check-in as baby will soon be here! I’ve got to say I have had a dream run with this pregnancy with minimal aggravations and symptoms. ¬†I realise and appreciate I have been very fortunate in this sense, and I sometimes wonder if I got an easy run because of all the challenges with infertility and miscarriage that came before this. ¬†Who knows, but it still blows my mind that there will be a baby in my arms in little more than 62 hours.

It’s also been a huge help to me having the support of blogland through out all of this. Being able to let it all out within the freedom of the community of infertility warriors has been immeasurably helpful. It’s also nice to look back at some of my older posts and see the progression of everything ¬†– both physically and mentally. ¬†This time last year I was at one of my lowest points ever and yet in 12 very short months here I am with a baby entering our lives in a couple of days. ¬†I was always too afraid to believe this would be my story and yet here we are. ¬†To those of you who are still fighting your own infertility battles and who have stuck with following me throughout my pregnancy (seriously, I know how hard that is it to do) I can only wish that my little story gives you a tiny bit of hope for your own.

Also, there has been a number of new pregnancies amongst those bloggers I follow recently and I am SO DELIGHTED by each of them. Even though I haven’t met you before, I feel connected to you and your stories and I find myself celebrating your joys alongside you. ¬†For those of you who continue to fight, I wish you strength and fortitude in whatever path you choose to follow in the future.

So here goes with my last weekly summary.

Weight gain:¬†I’ve not gained much this week – only around 300gm (0.6 pound) – which is miraculous. ¬†This means that overall I’ve gained almost 17kg (37 pounds) from my pre-pregnancy weight. ¬†I didn’t want to go over 15kg, but I’m okay with the bonus 2kg I put on as I have managed to mainly keep the weight gain to the bump and boobs region. ¬†I have hope that my legs and butt will once again be sexy, albeit probably not until 2018!

Symptoms:¬†LOADS of Braxton Hicks! ¬†They come throughout the day and I mainly ignore them these days, but sometimes they get too painful to ignore and I have to rest until they pass. ¬†They seem to be particularly painful in the early hours of the morning and they wake me up. ¬†I sometimes find myself moaning in my semi-sleep with the pain, but they have not progressed to anything more like proper labour so that’s good I guess.

My feet also decided to use this week to start to swell, but I’ve learned if I don’t spend too long with them pointed down (i.e. seated or standing up) then they are okay. ¬†And if they do get a bit puffy this has been my remedy – strapping them with ice packs and elevating them. ¬†I was watching Wimbledon when this photo was taken which is not necessarily part of the prescription but it’s helpful as it goes on for hours so you can rest for a long time.

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After all of the huge boob gain I have had throughout the pregnancy they have mainly stayed the same size for the past two months.  I kept hearing from everyone that they would get huge in the last trimester, but perhaps mine were early bloomers.  I am expecting them to get more huge when my milk comes in but for now they are happily at a D cup size.  This is remarkable as I used to be a small B cup.  The magic of hormones!

 

Eating: I have had a few sweet cravings this week but that might also be down to boredom. ¬†I can’t say my diet has been amazing this week but it’s not been terrible either. ¬†It’s so hot here that it’s hard to have an appetite for anything much.

Sleep: Thanks to the wonder of afternoon naps I have been doing pretty well this week.  My nighttime sleep is highly compromised by Braxton Hicks and visits to the loo for a wee, but being able to supplement the lousy nighttime sleep for afternoon naps means I am a much nicer person for it.

Here I am having a rest with my partner-in-naps. She was actually asleep like this!

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Movement:¬†I keep reading on the pregnancy apps that the baby’s movements are due to slow down at this point but I have seen absolutely no evidence of this. ¬†In fact, baby has been jumping around as I have been writing this. ¬†It’s really uncomfortable these days as he plays some kind of juggling game with my organs when he moves. ¬†Also some of his stronger movements trigger Braxton Hicks so that’s great too!

Emotions: This week I have been emotional, there is no doubt about that. ¬†I am feeling stressed about the c-section, especially the epidural, but also how on earth I’m going to care for this mini-human while recovering from the major surgery. ¬†Sometimes my thoughts get way out of hand and I get very upset.

I also seem to be having some hormonal rage surges such as today when I was visiting the supermarket. ¬†I parked the car and was about to get out when someone pulled super-close into the space beside me on the driver’s side of the car. ¬†I happened to be driving my husband’s fancy car which has doors that open more wide than some other cars and so it’s a bit annoying in a car park situation at the best of times. ¬†Then if you combine my big belly to the equation…. well it was VERY difficult for me to get out of the car! ¬†I somehow managed it but when I did I turned to the stupid guy who parked so closely and said various things about being 9 months pregnant and what a selfish jerk he was. ¬†The guy literally just stood there and looked at me like he didn’t know what to do. ¬†At that point I wanted to rip off his wing mirrors and stomp on them. ¬†I resisted though.

Missing:¬†At this point I don’t feel like I’m missing anything much as I know that the pregnancy bit is almost all over so anything that is annoying me now feels very temporary – no doubt to be replaced by something even more annoying in the next few weeks. ¬†I am not missing being at work and am continuing to congratulate myself on making sure I got two full weeks of leave before baby arrives. ¬†Yay me!

Purchases: I bought some Lansinoh breast pads online and then ended up randomly buying some small toys for the baby as part of the order. Ooops!  The new car looks like it will arrive either end of next week or the week after so I have decided to put the baby seat in my old car for now and will switch it over to the new car when it finally turns up. And the wallpaper for the baby room has still not arrived but I am trying my best not to feel rage towards the wallpaper shop.  I mean we seriously ordered it like two months ago, FFS!

Looking forward to: HAVING A BABY!!!!  OMG!!

Best moment:¬†I got the early proofs through from our maternity photo shoot and they’re actually really cute. ¬†I think we have some nice ones in there, but also I don’t look as gigantic as I expected I would so that’s nice.

Exercise: I have been cleaning and mopping and grocery shopping and all sorts again this week which is quite a big workout. I look forward to actually being able to start some kind of exercise regime again soon even if that is just walks with the baby in the stroller.

Bump update: And for the last time, here is the bump in all its glory.

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Bump is definitely travelling a bit lower these days…

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And just for reference, this is what I looked like BEFORE being pregnant.  This photo was taken 3 weeks before my embryo transfer. Those abs!!  Ohhhhh!

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The final countdown

We are now DAYS away from the small guy arriving and us becoming parents and it is blowing my mind!  I have definitely been feeling more anxious these past few days than at any other time since the early days of the pregnancy. This is also not helped by practically everyone who crosses my path saying encouraging things like:

You’re never going to sleep again
Life as you know it is over
Enjoy the peace while you can

I remember people also said similar doomsday-style messages of “encouragement” before we were married and they were all complete BS because I really like being married. I do wonder what on earth inspires people to say such negative things dressed up as a joke or a lighthearted comment. ¬†I mean seriously, you’ve been through this before so why are you not being more encouraging and saying what a wonderful new dimension having children brings to life? And – as my Mum says – if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. I think I really need to walk around with earplugs in for the next few days or else I might have a heavily-pregnant-hormone-induced rage at someone soon.

Yesterday we had our last appointment with our doctor prior to delivery. It was overall unremarkable in a good way – baby looks great, he is still measuring long (tall) and weighing in at 3.2kg / 7 pounds already!! Keep in mind I’m at 37 weeks and 4 days, if baby reached 40 weeks or more he would be really big (as would I be). Eeeek! ¬†The doctor said these measurements are not exact though. ¬†Also, the doctor kept emphasising that his weight was because he is long, not because he’s overly chubby.

The baby has dropped more into a position ready for birth. ¬†He’s not fully engaged in the pelvis yet, but he’s certainly on his way. ¬†This was no surprise to me as I have also noticed the bump sitting lower. ¬†This has positives and negatives… positive because I can now breathe a bit easier (yay) but negatives because if he so much as shifts to one side I feel like I need to pee urgently.

Every time the baby moves these days – and he moves a lot – it is awkwardly uncomfortable. ¬†It’s like he’s shuffling my internal organs! ¬†Also the Braxton Hicks are getting more strong each day and sometimes take a bit of heavy breathing for a few seconds to get through. This has put the fear into me that I could go into labour earlier than my scheduled c-section which would be bad in my situation.

Why bad?¬†As I’ve described previously, as part of my battle against reoccurring miscarriages, it has been discovered that I have an issue with thrombosis – a condition called Antithrombin III deficiency. ¬†Put simply, this means I have a deficiency of a protein that stops blood from clotting and I’m at higher risk of blood clots generally. ¬†There is a theory that if you have this deficiency it can be a high risk factor in causing miscarriage and so the treatment is blood thinners, in my case daily injections of Clexane.

Clexane is routinely used as a blood thinner during IVF transfers as it is believed it may assist with successful implantation of the embryo. The dose that most people are given for this practice is usually 2000mg or 4000mg and only for a few weeks, but I started on 6000mg and am now up to 7000mg – quite a high dose!! I have been taking the daily injection since early November and, apart from it being very expensive and not claimable on insurance – it also means that any kind of surgery needs careful management.

From a pregnancy delivery perspective, and because I’m having a scheduled c-section, I need to be very specific about when I take the Clexane ahead of my surgery. The anaesthetist won’t do an epidural if I have taken the Clexane within about 24-36 hours because there is a risk of the epidural needle striking a blood vessel and causing spinal bleeding which can… well, it can lead to horrible things like paralysis. ¬†These are the things that keep me up at night currently!

Now throw into the mix that if I go into labour naturally:

a) I won’t be allowed to labour naturally due to my previous¬†myomectomy (surgery to remove a fibroid which also involved taking a chunk out of your uterus, thus making the uterine wall thinner and more at risk of uterine abruption during labour)

b) I will need to deliver via c-section ASAP but won’t be allowed to have an epidural if I have taken the Clexane within 24 hours (which I will have as I take them every morning) and will instead have to deliver under a general anaesthetic.

I do not like any of these options!!! So most of my appointment with the doctor yesterday was discussing my options for taking or not taking Clexane. ¬†As the Antithrombin III deficiency was identified by a haematologist and not my ob-gyn, he can’t really over-rule the dosage and also I don’t want him to as the end of pregnancy brings with it the highest ¬†risk of a blood clot generally. ¬†That could be very, very bad for both baby and for me!! We ended up agreeing to speak to the haematologist to see whether I could at least reduce the dose to 4000mg- which would mean an epidural would be possible within 12 hours of the last injection – but she has come back this morning to say absolutely no to that as it would be “very dangerous”.

While very glad everyone has mine and my baby’s welfare in mind during these discussions, hearing the haematologist say stopping/reducing the Clexane dose now would be “very dangerous” did not make me feel at all calmer! ¬†In fact I had a bit of teary moment during my appointment, but the doctor did say my concerns were justified so that made me feel a tiny bit better about the crying. Also the nice ladies at reception were all trying to get me a drink when I came out. ¬†Maybe it’s not good for business when heavily pregnant women come out into the waiting room looking like a mess! ¬†Haha!

So now I am having regular chats to the small guy inside me and encouraging him to stay in there for a few more days until the date of the scheduled c-section.  I am also on the alert for any and all suggestions that labour could be on the way (bleeding, bloody show etc) because in that case I will FOR SURE stop the Clexane!

In between all of that, I also decided yesterday to clean the fridge which I had not expected to be as dirty as it was.  Then I started on the drawer where I keep my cutlery/silverware and that was also more disgusting than I imagined so it got scrubbed out too.  After that the kitchen floor looked like a muddy army had passed through it so I mopped the floor.  That was all in all about 3 hours physical work yesterday and so I was pretty tired after that! The fridge does look spectacular though.  I even took a photo of it! Hahahaha!

The weather is insanely hot still and my feet have gone out in sympathy. ¬†They are not huge but they are definitely a lot more puffy than normal. ¬†I’ve tried elevation, ice baths, light walking and frankly they just stay the same so I think they will until baby arrives. ¬†I’ve decided unless they suddenly go huge (i.e. a sign of pre-eclampsia) that I’m not going to worry about them any more. That’s the benefit of only having days to go as you think, okay I can deal with this if it’s only for a short while!

Week 37 – The freaking out has begun

I have cruised through most of this pregnancy in some kind of fog of disbelief that I was actually pregnant and going to have a baby after all the loss and disappointment. ¬†For this reason, I don’t think I have really let it sink in what it actually means to be a mother and to have to take care of a tiny, fragile human being. ¬†Well that seemed to suddenly hit me out of nowhere this week and I have started to freak out.

I’ve started questioning if I even know how to raise a baby? I have only ever changed one nappy/diaper in my entire life and that was my niece when she was 18 months old and it was just a wet nappy, no poop in there. I’m also a perfectionist and kind of a control-freak so I am worried about handing over so many responsibilities to my husband for the time frame when I am incapable of taking on regular activities. Then I start worrying about how long it will be that I’ll be out of action. ¬†It’s a steady spiral of panic!

I”m sure his family will support us – they are very generous – but they are not the touchy-feely, earthy type that might be able to talk me through breast-feeding or baby sleeping woes (hubby was bottle fed anyway so the concept of breast feeding is kind of unfamiliar to his mother). ¬†I know lots of people have their own mum come and stay with them for a couple of weeks to help them out and generally make sure they don’t go insane. ¬†It’s not possible for my Mum to come as she has leukaemia and the travelling would be too much for her – and that’s before we even contemplate how she could continue her medial treatment while here. And my sister…. well… she’s a mystery. She doesn’t even send me a message to ask how the baby is. ¬†The last time she messaged me was 14 June and that was in response to me thanking her for sending my husband’s birthday gift.

I’m not mentioning this to invoke miniature violins playing tunes of sympathy – we all have our own stuff going on which makes life tough – it is just some context as to why I’m freaking out because I’m not sure how I am meant to learn all of this baby stuff with no one around to tell me how to do it. ¬†I do have some great friends here and back home who will only be a message or call away so I think that’s probably how it will go, but I am envious of those new mammas with stronger support networks to help them through the first few weeks where everything is so new and unfamiliar.

Anyway, in good news I PACKED MY BAG! ¬†Or should I say bags. I decided it was easier to give baby one small bag and me another so that’s how it’s turned out. ¬†During the bag-packing process I suddenly realised that the only baby blankets I have are quite thick and warm and didn’t seem very appropriate for roasting hot summer weather. ¬†I consulted a good friend who had her son here in early August and she advised me to get some light “receiving blankets” so I picked up a couple today in Mothercare. ¬†If I need more I can send hubby off to get them later as the shop is very close to home.

Other than that, I think I’m all set which is kind of CRAZY! ¬†I also think the packing of the bag/s brought on a lot of my freaking out as I suddenly got a sense of the reality of what was coming.

Weight gain:¬†A good solid gain of 1kg this week (2.2 lbs) which I put down to baby packing on the weight and also I think I’ve taken on a bit of fluid this week what with all of the hot weather and rushing about Ive been doing. ¬†My feet and hands are still pretty good considering my late stage of pregnancy but they are bigger than normal. ¬†I think everything is a little bit larger than normal although I think I look ok considering. ¬†In total I am now up 16.5kg (36 pounds) and I think if I made it to 40 weeks I would definitely hit the 20kg mark so thank goodness baby is coming out before that can happen!

Symptoms:¬†I have been plagued by Braxton Hicks contractions this week. They have been a real problem! They are undoubtedly triggered by doing too much, which is not how I expected my pre-baby maternity leave to go, but I’ve just found there are so many things that need doing. The worst day was Thursday where I found the BH got so intense that they were coming about every 10 minutes! ¬†My doctor had said if they are 5-8 minutes apart or particularly painful then I am to come in for monitoring. In the evening I counted one that was 8 minutes apart and so we were getting prepared for a visit to the clinic, but after some dinner and a lie down on the sofa on my left side they started to space out substantially so it was ok.

Even on a good day I still find I get the BH in the evenings when I’m tired although they usually come around every half an hour during this period. ¬†They were quite bad last night too but that was after the 2 hour maternity photo shoot where I had been walking a lot in hot weather and high wedge heels (the sacrifices we make for vanity), so it wasn’t like I didn’t realise why they were so bad.

I still have the issues with raging hot feet – they were particularly bad last night after the photoshoot / high heels situation – and so I continue with the ice packs and hope that this stupid symptom goes away after birth. I have some mild water retention in my fingers and toes but not something that others would necessarily notice by looking at me. I don’t have any other major symptoms which I think is pretty incredible actually!

Eating: Since I’m no longer at work I find myself munching quite a bit at home and I have to have a strong word with myself to make smart snack choices. ¬†I think I would be having those same conversations with myself even if I wasn’t pregnant as there’s just something about not having to go to work that makes you feel like you’re on holidays and calories don’t count. I don’t have any particular cravings though. ¬†I almost feel disappointed that I haven’t had any of those pickles-on-ice-cream-on-Doritos types of cravings that are some kind of urban myth.

Sleep: Not too bad considering my advanced stage of pregnancy. The afternoon naps have also been helping to keep me sane.

Movement: The small dude is still moving around a lot.  I think a lot of his movements are kind of turns as it feels like every one of my organs is being reallocated a new part of my abdominal cavity whenever he moves. Not only does it feel uncomfortable but it looks so freaky!

Emotions: I had a bit of a cry yesterday when I went to my hairdresser friend for him to do my maternity photoshoot hair.  He helped me to see how funny everything was so I felt a lot better afterwards.

Missing: Not much.  Everything is good this week.

Purchases: I bought a couple of light blankets today after my bag-packing-panic, a top-and-tail bath thing, and another fitted sheet for the moses basket.  The latter was purchased just because it was cute.  Mothercare was a special kind of hell this morning (Saturday morning) so I will try and avoid going there on a Saturday again!

Looking forward to:¬†The baby’s birth!! ¬†Yes, it’s little more than a week away now, hence why I am FREAKING OUT!! ¬†The small dude is going to be on the outside soon. ¬†OMG that is so incredible and scary and wild all at once!

I’m also looking forward to seeing the photos from our maternity shoot. I hope we took some nice ones.

Best moment:¬†Not going to work this week was pretty awesome, but the highlight was the maternity shoot. ¬†It was a last minute decision to book it and even though I was totally exhausted and super-sweaty when it was done I think it was a really wonderful thing to do. Most of the photos were with hubby and I together and really we haven’t had that much intimacy during the pregnancy so actually it was a great way to connect. ¬†We chose a really gorgeous space to take the photos – a local park with Australian trees (it felt like home to me) and a lake – and we took the photos just before sunset so we should have got some “flattering light”

Here’s a photo I took with my iPhone when we were done. ¬†Hard to believe this is in the middle of a city?! (No filters or photoshop used!)

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Exercise: I have been running about cleaning things, doing errands, ironing, mopping Рall sorts this week so I think actually I have been moving my butt more than usual and certainly more than when I was in the office.  Also, the photoshoot required a bunch of walking about on uneven ground in wedge heels and that was a special kind of workout all of itself at 8.5 months pregnant!

Bump update:¬†The bump is sooooo big now! ¬†I look back at my bump shots from like week 20 and I laugh when I think that I thought I was huge then. ¬†I was not. ¬†So if you are midway through your pregnancy and you think you are big, let me tell you that you ain’t seen nothing yet! ¬†Hahahahahaha!

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The Queen of Air Conditioning

Here I was thinking that my maternity leave pre-baby would be a like a mini-holiday. ¬†Everyone kept saying it will be great to relax and take things easy. Well, I seemed to have missed that memo as I have been non-stop busy for the past few days. ¬†Turns out I had been “saving” a bunch of tasks for my maternity leave and so I have been busy, busy, busy. ¬†From hair appointments (girl has to look good for her post-delivery pics), to shopping, to washing all the sofa cushion covers, to random chores all over town, to doing my tax returns (seriously), it’s been hectic. ¬†I did a bit too much yesterday and was rewarded with many Braxton Hicks all yesterday evening and last night – they even wake me up when I’m sleeping. ¬†Ugh.

The weather has continued to be hellishly hot – literally – and I think this is playing its part with the Braxton Hicks. ¬†On Sunday my car thermometer said the temperature was 46C (115F). ¬†Pregnant or not pregnant, that is too hot!! It’s now even too hot for me to go to the beach unless I go in the evening or at night. ¬†So I am now the Queen of Air Conditioning.

I am yet to pack my hospital bag still, but I am definitely doing it tomorrow.  I have now said this about 5 days in a row so wish me luck.  I have finally purchased some post-c-section knickers which are not as hideously awful as they could be, and I think I have most of the other things that are needed for the hospital stay.  Now the challenge of putting it all in a bag, or more to the point, finding the motivation to put it all in a bag.

We are still waiting for the baby room wallpaper to arrive. It was on order from Timbuktu (only a small exaggeration there) and so has taken forever to arrive. ¬†We are also waiting for the new car to arrive and I’m not sure what’s going to make it first, the baby, the car or the wallpaper. ¬†I’m predicting the baby comes first ahead of everything else!

I am however enjoying naps in between watching key Wimbledon matches and also just generally not having the stress of work. I feel like I’ve been able to breathe out the past few days and this has made me feel a bit more tired. ¬†Like all of the stress is now coming out of me. ¬†I had a massage today and that helped a lot in cleansing myself of tension and I’m going to try and take it easy for the rest of the week.

I have also booked in for a maternity photoshoot on Friday. ¬†This was a last minute decision and I do wish I’d done it a bit earlier when my belly was smaller. ¬†So word of advice to other ladies out there – aim for 28-32 weeks for your maternity shoot if you want to look cute-pregnant and not whale-pregnant! I have somehow convinced hubby to do the photoshoot with me – he hates photos even though he’s gorgeous and even had to be practically begged to do wedding ones – so fingers crossed they turn out nicely. ¬†The photographer also does cute newborn photos so we are having a package that includes them both.

Symptoms wise I’ve been doing great. Braxton Hicks aside, my only real symptom is raging hot feet as previously mentioned. ¬†I use an ice pack on them in the evening before bed and just deal with it at other times. ¬†Less than two weeks before baby arrives now and our world turns upside down!