Dealing with breast rejection

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Right now I’m sitting on the side of my bed, holding my sleeping baby, hoping that when he wakes up soon he will feed. 90% possibility  that he wont.(note from my future self – he didn’t).

For the last two weaks I have been working hard on getting him to like feeding from me again and I just feel physically and emotionally drained. I’ve searched the internet with fire to understand why this is happening and how to solve it. I’ve cried my eyes out for a few days. Spent some time blaming myself for my mistakes and the world for the negative experiences we have gone through. I wish I never gave my son a pacifier,  I wish I never fed him by schedule rather than on demand. I wish he had been fed by bottle as little as possible. I wish that my son felt safety and bliss when feeding instead of stress and anxiety.

I wish we never had that ultrasound that made us go through such a stressful and painful experience at the hospital and after that. I wish I never had milk supply problems.

I would never wish this all to anyone.

Lately, to get over this all,  I’ve been spending pretty much all of my time with my baby, topless like an African woman to make him used to my breasts and to make them always available. I have taken away the pacifier with the exception of sleeping times.  Trying to also do skin to skin with him but that’s only been nice while taking a bath with him. Will have another bath together today as well. I bottle feed him only about 60ml while he’s awake to take the edge off the hunger and then bounce on the ball when it’s sleep time,  wait for him to fall asleep and then feed him. I never show any pressure for him to latch on and feed. So far we have tiny progress – he’s ok with my breasts being present and even in his face, he enjoys being carried around a lot.

One of the big progresses – I was bouncing him to sleep like always, singing to him,  and decided to try taking the pacifier away for a bit to see how he reacts . He didn’t show any reaction whatsoever so I just carried on singing Brahms lullaby to him,  and then he just turned and latched on and fed!  I felt like peeing my pants from joy,  and regretted pumping an hour before – my breasts we’re pretty empty. There were two more times when he shortly latched on and sucked for a few second’s only at bedtime in the evening when we both just lie in the big bed until he falls asleep. That also felt awesome,  like I’ve been kissed by a prince from fairy tales. At those moments of progress I see hope,  light at the end of the tunnel,  and could do a happy dance. But the rest of the time I’m just tired of it all.

I have had no time for myself to the extent that I don’t brush my hair or shower for three days straight. We have been skipping walks lately too,  so I also feel trapped at home. Right now I just want to return to a somewhat normal life, and stop this all,  it’s hard not only for myself but also for my partner. Thank him for his patience,  help and understanding about all this.

Maybe  I just should relax and let whatever happen and try to be ok with it. I’ve been so attached to the idea of breastfeeding my child until he weans off himself,  but he and karma seem to have other plans I guess. Maybe I will try to relax and let go and see where that takes us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Breastfeeding is hard work

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I cherish so much the moments when I have successful breastfeeding experiences. If my baby eats out both breasts and then falls asleep, milkdrunk – that’s just bliss for me.

Unfortunately, that is now not happening so often. Just after I dealt with low milk supply and got around solving it, and making sure it doesn’t go down, now I’m also dealing with my son rejecting my breast. The only way I can breastfeed him, is right after he has woken up, while he’s still sleepy. Or I have to make him fall asleep and then feed him. On rare occasions he has also fed while he’s awake if we are bouncing on the fitness ball. All other times it’s pumped milk in a bottle, or in the worst cases milk in a syringe.

I don’t know what has caused all this. A couple of times it has been because of him having teething pains – then he literally looks at the breast or bottle and cries because he wants the food but it just hurts, and the syringe then is the savior. But in general, the only idea of the reason that I have is that he might have formed negative associations with the breast when the milk supply was low and that made him upset. I don’t know why exactly, but it sucks.

This morning, for example, he woke up after a four hour sleep. Not upset or anything, but wont even look at the breast, just chilling in my arms and making fart-pushing faces. OK, I still had a hope he would eat a few moments later, bouncing on the fitness ball, so we moved on to changing his nappy, giving it a go on the ball, with no success, so I put him on the floor for playtime. Nope – upset because of being hungry. Back to the ball, and yesss – he actually started eating. But then that lasted only 2 minutes instead of at least 4. He was still grumpy when I put him on the floor. Oh, what to do, I pumped 2 ounces of milk and tried to feed him with bottle – no, not gonna happen. A few sucks and then he started doing the wiggly worm. Last resort – the syringe. No resistance there, except half of the milk ended up on his clothes because he just spat it out mostly.

This is so stressful and upsetting for me. If he at least was a chubbier baby, I would be OK, one or two skipped meals won’t do any harm. But he has barely gained any weight within a month – only around 300 grams. And that’s while having a bit of solids every day. I’m literally fearing every doctor’s visit when he is getting weighed.

Another more of an annoyance with this is that we can’t really go anywhere with the child without stress. Going to visit my parents is a headache because I know that will be a day of feeding problems. Everything has to be planned and timed precisely – he always has to go on a nap just in time so he would wake up for meal time, and so that the meal time wouldn’t come while he’s fully awake. Even going on a walk with a pram is often stressful – god forbid that he wakes up before we have returned home!

I did discover a very good YouTube channel that talks about all the breastfeeding problems, including milk supply and breast rejection – Lyndsey Hookway – Feed Sleep Bond. I wish I had come across it when I was still pregnant, or at least in the early days after my son was born. Such good insight and important details are given by the lactation consultant there that no one tells anyone here. No prenatal classes talk about it to so much detail. All I have is a handed out book called Breastfeeding ABC, which does touch upon my issues but barely. After reading it while being pregnant, the only problem I feared with regard to breastfeeding was mastitis and clogged milk ducts.

Turns out that breastfeeding is so simple yet very complicated at the same time. Let’s hope things get better and I don’t end up having a nervous breakdown. Just kidding. Or am I? :p

My baby is 4 months old!

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My son has reached four months and it seems to me like time is running a bit too fast. I want him to grow but then I know I will miss this time when he is just a small baby.

He hasn’t grown much lately, as he weighs about 5.9 kg. I would be happy if he was slightly heavier but as our GP said, he is within weight norm for his age, nothing to worry about. I don’t know any more what is to blame – the milk crisis situation, his appetite, or maybe that’s just what he is supposed to be, regardless of what and how much he eats. What he is growing though is hair, forming a cute ginger mohawk!

He might not be very chubby, but he is learning new things quickly. He now operates his hands very well – he holds toys and grabs things, mostly with the goal to put whatever it is in his mouth. There is almost always something in his mouth – either the pacifier, or his bib, a toy, his sleeve, or if nothing else is available – his own fingers. A few times he has also put just the thumb in the mouth, sucking it. He can take out the pacifier and put it back into his mouth. He has learned to lift his legs in the air and grab his feet in his hands, rolling to the side. The first thing he does when he wakes up is lift his legs, lets a bit of gas out, and then sometimes roll to the sides, propping them against bars of the crib. Quite often he wakes up and quietly hangs out by himself. Once, I had put him to sleep in the crib and thought I would sneak into the room to get something there, and to my surprise there was him, looking all innocent as he had rotated 90 degrees and had his legs against the bed side. 😀 Getting very good at tummy time, often trying to grab things with his hands while on the tummy. Not rolling yet in any direction, but he has all the time in the world to learn that. But the best ability of all of them is that he laughs when we play with him. It can happen when I exercise his arms, or when I’m showering him with kisses on the belly and neck, and it is the most adorable thing. He is such a good baby!

In attempt to help the weight gain I decided to try to offer him some solids and bought two jars of baby food for infants starting from 4 months. It says it’s applesauce, but it really tastes like cardboard to me. However, when offered to my little nugget, looked like he loves it. He was more and more excited about each next spoon and ate like a champ. We started with just a few spoons the first day, the next day he ate a third of the jar, and half of the jar yesterday. So, looks like we are going to continue having some solids in his diet and I hope he benefits from that.

Good news about his liver condition – it has been confirmed that it is a liver haemangioma, and no treatment is required presently, only monitoring from time to time. Hopefully nothing will progress and now signs of worsening will show.

One thing that I didn’t look forward to – he has started teething, which is very annoying to him, his gums are all itchy, making him cranky. I am using some soothing gel for teething and got him a teething ring. The teething ring might be more useful later, but for now, nothing works better than me massaging his gums with a finger. Even though the teething process has started, the first teeth might take up to three months to come out, which I hope will not happen. Ideally it won’t take too long, otherwise three months seems like a torture both for him and us as parents.

Poot!

Never-ending streams of milk

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Recently I experienced a milk crisis. I don’t know if maybe it was just a coincidence, but it was right after (or maybe already during) our hospital visit, which stressed us out and starved me. So I blame that whole experience.

I didn’t even realise that my milk supply had decreased until I brought my son in for a GP visit where he gets weighed and measured. In three weeks he had gained only about 200 grams. Very disappointing for me to see, yet I right away defended my boobs and blamed the hospital and the large amounts of spitting up, and said that now that I have a dairy free diet, it should normalise soon because I already see improvements – he’s spitting up less, and his bowel movements are not as liquid. A couple of days later, at home I realised that the reason he’s not spitting up much is because he doesn’t have much in him. He’s been starving for a while. The GP was right this time – I didn’t have enough milk.

When I realised that my milk sacks have barely any milk in them, I tried mending my diet, still keeping it dairy-free, but cooked nourishing meals to help it all. That did fuck all. Once, after he had emptied one breast, I offered the other one, which he also emptied. However, that left me with barely anything for his next meal, as it doesn’t produce that quickly. When that next feeding time came, of course, he was hysterical – why are you giving me empty boobies??? I cried with him, and quickly got out one of the frozen milk bags from the back-up supplies in my freezer. I put it in hot water to defrost, which luckily took only about ten minutes, and then bottle-fed him that. Holy silence of satisfaction!

That’s when I had had enough of this dairy free diet, I entrusted the baby to my partner, got myself a nice Napoleon cake all for myself and ran a bath. Spent about 4 hours there destressing, binging on the cake, drinking a lot of water, and most importantly – making good use of my breast pump, almost non-stop. Praying for the milk gods to hear me out. Also, thanking myself that I have frozen breast milk supplies for times like this. If I didn’t start producing enough, it would last a few days before I would reluctantly have to resort to feeding him formula. That is my one principle I don’t want to give up – I don’t want to feed him formula.

Luckily, the milk gods heard me. After power-pumping all day, I managed to get out decent amounts of lactation fluid. 😀 I still mostly pumped the next day as well, to stimulate my milk factories more, and now everything is back to normal and I have a happy, well-fed baby. I eat everything I want, all the dairy that I care for.

I experienced what it means that breasts work by the demand-supply principle. I was pumping for periods of at least 10 minutes, even when nothing was coming out, just to stimulate it. And after a while I would literally feel the milk being “injected” into the breast and the flow would renew, and I would get an extra ounce from each breast. It’s amazing how it works.

Also, I have two manual breast pumps. One is by Nuk, and cost around 30 euros, and the other one is a cheap thing I ordered on E-bay, which came from ping-pong land and cost me 6 euros. The cheap one was what rescued me, it’s better than the expensive one, at least I now prefer it.

Another thing I’ve done, just in case, is taking a lactation supplement, which has herbs stimulating breast milk production, such as cumin, fenugreek, fennel, dandelion root, etc. Don’t know if it actually does anything, or if it’s just a placebo effect, but the fact is – I got milk! 😀

Praise the milk gods!

My child has a liver issue

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This is going to be a very loooong post about my son being diagnosed and our experience at the children’s hospital. Sorry, but I want to share and rant about all the badness in detail. 🙂

At the age of one month, during a health check-up we complained to our baby’s GP about the amount of spit-up he had in addition to tummy aches, bloating and him pushing all the time. She referred us to an ultrasound scan for his abdomen, which we then booked for almost a month later at a close-by health centre. When we eventually had the scan, the ultrasound technician pointed out that there is a formation in the baby’s liver that he doesn’t know what is, he has never seen anything like that before and that it is necessary to investigate it further, most likely with a CT scan. No word about tummy troubles. We went looking for a wolf and ran into a bear.

Next we notified the GP of this, she gave the necessary referral to perform a CT scan. After ringing several places, conclusion was that only one place does them for such a small infant – the Children’s Clinical University Hospital. When I rang them, they asked several times, is it really a CT scan that we need, or an ultrasound. Obviously, not an often practice to perform them on such a small baby. They couldn’t even say right away about how it would go. Someone more competent called me back a moment later and told that in our situation, firstly, the child needs to have his blood tested to make sure that kidney is functioning well in order to be able to use contrast matter and obtain a better image and result. Secondly, the scan would be performed under a general anaesthetic. That is because he mustn’t move during the scan. That was not a good news for me, I started crying, I didn’t want my baby to go through such stress and suffering. I told them I’ll consult with my GP and call back about this. With the GP we agreed that we would first consult with a gastroenterologist about this situation and then see what would be the best plan of action. Even if the gastroenterologist says a scan needs to be done, at least I’ll have gained some time and my child wouldn’t be a 2 months old infant.

Of course, the queue for a state-paid gastroenterologist was a bit long – all booked up until the end of May, which is 3 months wait. We found a paid appointment option for 2 or 3 weeks later. And so we went. The result of that appointment was that the doctor offered us hospitalisation at the children’s hospital in order to be able to investigate the liver problem further, starting with another ultrasound and some blood testing and see if additional examinations are necessary. She told that most likely an MRI scan would be necessary instead of a CT scan, but that would still mean sedation for the baby.

We followed her advice and accepted the offer, got the necessary referral and 4 days later got admitted to the Children’s Hospital for in-patient examinations. For some reason, I had imagined that it will be an old frightening place but was pleasantly surprised to find a fairly recently built, good-looking building, nothing old there. We even got a separate room and WC without paying for that as an extra because they want such small babies to be separate from other children for the sake of guarding the little one’s health. Only I could stay over at nights though, the dad had to leave in the evenings but that was understandable and we expected that.

Day 1 at hospital

The plan for day 1 was testing baby’s blood and pee, and an ultrasound for the abdomen and head too. For drawing the blood, only one parent can be present in the procedure room to avoid clusterfuck, so the dad stayed. Firstly, because I didn’t really want to see my child suffer, and secondly because he used to be a paramedic and knows these things. Well, all the crying that I heard behind the doors was awful, not good. When it was over and we were back at our room, my partner was furious about how that went. He said he could do a ten times better job at night in the dark, in an upside-down car in a ditch. Don’t know what exactly was wrong but I understand that it was chaotic and dragged out too long, the needle was not put in well and basically our child was unnecessarily tortured to the point where he held his breath for about half-minute and was close to passing out. Well, the way he cried after was not nice to see, that was “I’ve been hurt and mistreated” cry, not just simple “I’m annoyed” cry.  Heart-breaking. Anyway, later it turned out that the results from that blood test were abnormal, were the lab person was calling to our department, panicking and freaking out about the state that our child is in. Apparently, that was because the baby’s arm was too tense or something. The result of this fuck-up was that at 8PM a nurse came and told they have to draw blood for testing again, but because they have to do it without a tourniquet, it has to be drawn from the head, as there are many nice blood vessels there. I had never heard of anything like that and was a bit shocked, and my facial expression was probably showing that, and they told they want to do it without me so that I wouldn’t get too emotional. I told them that if not me, the dad will be present. They still tried to not let that happen either, saying that men aren’t usually that tough either when it comes to their children being poked with a needle in the head, but the fact that he used to be a paramedic convinced them. So on they went with the second torture of the day. My partner still returned with a hysterically crying baby, but said that this time it was done relatively well. He also joked that probably that was because they knew he was watching them like a hawk, as he knows how everything is supposed to go.

The ultrasound for tummy and head that day was done around 6 PM. The head was ok, but as to the liver, it was confirmed that there is something there. The doctor said that most likely it could be non-malignant formation of blood vessels called haemangioma. If the formation does not grow it is supposed to be harmless and does not manifest itself. Nevertheless, an MRI scan is necessary to know precisely what it is.

Day 2 at hospital

In the morning, we were called in to the procedure room by a nurse, saying they need to draw blood. Again. Really? As I walked in, the gastroenterologist who arranged us being in the hospital and was our main doctor there was walking past, saw us, came and luckily stopped the nurse from taking blood. Turns out, it showed up on the system that it needs to be done, but in reality, it didn’t have to be. It was all a misunderstanding caused by miscommunication between staff members. Thank god, the doctor was there and made it in time.

At some point, don’t remember when exactly, we were called in for another ultrasound, this time for the heart, to make sure that there’s no defects with valves and blood vessels or whatever in there. That went fine, his heart is nice and strong.

Our doctor also came to talk through blood results and plans in the morning, said that bloodwork looks ok, except some liver function results, which are a bit high. That means that whatever is that formation, it is either pushing on the liver or otherwise bothering it. She said that an MRI could be done some time and she was told a specific date (unknown to me) but she arranged that it’s done sometime within the week but no later than Friday. Only it wouldn’t be predictable, they could tell any day that the next day would be the scan day. Until then we just have to stay there and wait. Of course, it ended up being Friday.

Day 3 at hospital

Nothing much happened, apart from daily weighing, taking temperature and measuring blood oxygen saturation via a machine with a clip-on light thing. No blood drawing. Because the day was not busy, we managed to go out on a walk with the baby wrapped in a scarf sling. That was the first time we went out in the wrap, it was nice.

Day 4 at hospital

Blood needed to be drawn for repeated testing again and we were called in to do it before the dad had arrived so I went instead. The nurses tried again to tell me to just leave the child with them but I reassured them I was fine and apparently was convincing enough. It was done from the head again, which was what me and my partner preferred now, considering the bloodbath and abuse to the arm on the first day. Of course, the baby cried and it wasn’t pleasant, but it went well, not too bad. He cried more because of discomfort and being annoyed than from the actual procedure. The pinch of the needle only hurts a little and only for a couple of seconds anyway. Also, it’s kind of better to have a crying baby because that makes the blood vessels pop out better and the blood flows better too. They kind of had to nudge the baby in the process because he calmed down after the needle pinch and the blood didn’t flow fast enough. My conclusion from this was that taking blood is best from the head if it is ever necessary, even though it seems freaky. In reality, it is less painful because there’s less muscles in the head for the baby to tense up, it is much quicker and simpler. The head is protected by the scull, the needle can’t go into the brain or anything.

Doctor later informed us that MRI scan is the next day. Not only that, but a CT scan also needs to be performed on baby’s lungs to make sure there are no bad formations there too. Initially I was told that it would have to be done separately, possibly next Monday, which would unfortunately mean sedating our baby twice. However, she came back in a moment and said she arranged it to be done under one sedation, on one day, one after the other, as the MRI room and CT scan room are next to each other. I don’t know what would we do without her, she is a genius when it comes to arranging things like this.

We had to wait for a consultation with an anaesthetist which is standard procedure a day before any sedation takes place. Unless I had made him stay and answer the list of my questions, I believe he would have just told us when we can eat for the last time and left. Oh no, I made him work! LOL. What I learned is that the sedation will take place via an IV, which means needles and poking my son again. I was hoping for it to be done with gas, but nope, needles it is. Before the procedure with sedation, the baby’s stomach must be empty to prevent him throwing up and choking on it, and that in turn means no feeding for four hours beforehand. Well, isn’t that great! Not! Considering that I feed him every two hours, and he normally can’t wait to eat when those two hours are up, not exactly the best situation for us. The procedure would be taking place around 9 or 10 AM so he has to finish eating until 6AM. You got to do what you got to do.

My partner wanted to make sure that a numbing cream is used next day when an IV is put in to slightly ease the baby’s suffering. So I went to talk to the nurses in the evening to make sure that they have the numbing cream and that it can be used. One of them started talking me out of that, saying that for some reason it is much more difficult to cannulate when the numbing cream is on. Also, to make sure that the cream takes effect, they have to tape a plaster over each spot that it’s used on, and that the baby will cry anyway when the plaster is torn off. According to her, it’s a stick with too ends. All of that was nonsense, I don’t know why she wanted so adamantly to talk me out of using a numbing cream for cannulating a 3-month-old baby. Nothing of what she said was true, as it turned out the next day, so why would she say all that, I don’t understand. I basically then said that my partner insists on it being used, playing out the paramedic card again, and that’s that.

Around 10 PM, a nurse came in, asked if an IV has been put in for the baby, which it wasn’t. When I asked what time can I count on it being done tomorrow, she said it will be from 6 to 7 AM. The day ended on that note.

Day 5 at the hospital – the doomsday

In the morning my baby was starting to wake a bit past 5 AM but I managed to keep him asleep until 5:40AM, by using his pacifier, then fed him, so he finished eating before 6AM. Started waiting for someone to come call us for the IV, yet no one came. He started to get sleepy so around 6:45 so I went to the nurse post where they were all sitting with tea/coffee chatting with each other. I said that maybe it could be done now, before he goes to sleep. The same nurse from the night before came up to me and said that someone will come to us in a moment. Went back to our room, waited – nothing.

07:50AM – he had slept AND woken up when a different nurse popped in our room, asked how we are doing. When I told we are waiting for the IV being put in, she optimistically said: “OK, I’ll let make that known, a new shift just started”. Awesome, so that means that that nurse from before just wanted to get rid of me because her shift was ending. WTF?!?!? First of all, can’t you at least try and work your schedule around my child’s schedule? Just a little bit of effort to make things slightly easier for us, it’s stressful as it is for us. And if you can’t or don’t want to, just tell me no, it’s not gonna happen now, and at least I wouldn’t be trying to keep the baby, waiting for someone to come call as for the procedure. So, this already pissed me off. Also, we still didn’t know for sure what time exactly the MRI and CT scan will happen, as all we had been told was that it will be around 9 or 10 AM. I knew inside that most likely that time will be an issue too and was getting wound up about that too.

08:30 AM – we went to put the IV in. The young nurse said yes to the numbing cream without hesitation and rubbed it on several potential areas. No plasters, none of the crap that the old crab had told me the day before, trying to brainwash me for no reason. After inspecting his extremities for blood vessels, which had him crying already because of using a tourniquet, the right hand was chosen for the IV. Cannulating him made him cry more, of course. However, they also needed a blood sample for testing, so the nurse tried to draw that from the IV in the hand, yet nothing would come out, just a few tiny splashes. She flushed it with liquids a few times, which didn’t work, and still no blood came. The reason according to the nurse was because he hasn’t eaten for a while and the blood is thicker. My partner afterwards said that IVs are not meant to be used for drawing blood and that was the actual reason why nothing came out. Anyway, seeing his hand getting tortured and him getting hysterical with crying, I said maybe it’s wiser to just quickly draw the blood from the head, and stop torturing his hand. To that they instantly agreed, said that I’m right, and it was done. I don’t know why me, as a nonmedical person can think of it and they couldn’t. Anyway, my child was screeching helplessly at an unheard frequency by the time it was over. At least the most painful and feared thing of the day was done and over with.

10:00 AM – no one had come to take us to the scans.

10:25 AM – a nurse pops in and asks when I last fed him. I told that before 6. She disappears and is back in a few minutes, saying I can feed him now because the procedure is postponed until 2 or 3 PM. Seeing my shocked face, she just gestured with her hands up, as if to say, “it is what it is” and left. No sorry, no apologising, nothing. So the baby was fed and we waited, again. Around noon, after we raised our concerns to our doctor about this situation and that he has gone from eating once every two hours to eating once every five hours, our son was put on a fluid drip to at least keep him hydrated.

Around 2 PM – the nurse came and took the drip off, saying that in 10 minutes we need to go. We changed him into clothes with no metal snap buttons, which is a requirement for MRI, he was asleep we and thought we’d go wait at the nurse post to go, as that would be any minute now. When they saw us, confused looks were exchanged and we were awkwardly told to go back to our room and wait, it will be another half-hour. At least this time the same nurse who did the gesturing earlier apologised and said it is not their fault, they do not organise it. Well, what else to do than just go back and wait again. Luckily, baby was sleeping and through the entire day of starvation we managed to keep him in a decent mood with no loud crying. That was not just our luck but also the staffs’ luck because I would not be very nice to them if it wasn’t so. The IV nurse came back and put the drip back on.

15:00 – we were finally called in for the procedure a bit before three, I walked into the CT scan room, holding my baby wrapped in his blanket, where he had sleep meds put in the IV while in my arms. That’s when he was just taken from my arms and I was told that I now have half-an-hour to go to a café or something. I repeatedly said I want to be present, want to see the procedure. They told me I don’t need that radiation on me, I still insisted because I knew they could have let me stay at the adjacent room which has a window in it. The doctor just told me I have to trust them and sent me out of the room. I did not expect that, I was certain I could stay with my child and just be there for him. The way he was taken from me, instead of asking to hand him over, and how I was sent out, it was just unacceptable and I don’t understand how that can happen. I am his mother and I had all the rights in the world to be there with him. It’s not like it was surgery or something, I wouldn’t have disturbed anyone. If I can be ok while my 3 months old baby is cannulated and has needles poked in his head, I can easily handle a CT scan and an MRI. That all really got to me, like icing and a cherry on a cake, that sent me to tears. The nurse soon came down, as she was called by the scan person, saw that I had been crying, I explained why. She was sympathetic and sort of agreed, and told me it will be ok. She was finally nice to me. Then the scan doctor brought my son out, he was already waking up slightly and crying. And, surprise, surprise, instead of giving him to me, he gave him to the nurse. How are mother’s arms any worse than a nurses arms when it comes to taking and holding him? What an asshole! After we had walked around the corner, the nurse stopped and gave him to me, saying that no one is looking now.

Around 16:00 we were back at the room, he was still crying through the sleep with eyes shut. The drip was put back on again until late evening. He was not to be fed until he is fully awake but I still gave him a few sips of my breastmilk from the bottle, just to soothe him slightly and he could sleep better. Later he got fed properly when he woke up. He was quite grumpy all evening, as expected. At night, he woke up for a feeding every two hours.

On Saturday, all the badness was finally done with and we could pack our bags and go home. The CT scan for lungs had not shown anything bad. We still are waiting for the MRI scan results, although it has been over a week since. This all was not a good experience, quite stressful, especially the last day of torture.

Apart from all the badness that took place there, it was all worsened by the food there, which was not nice, to put it mildly. I was put on a non-dairy diet to see if that helps with spit-up and digestion for the baby. So I was served barely warm or cold foods that would be bad as it is, but were even worse because of being stripped of any milk. Imagine rice pudding without milk – it’s just mushy boiled rice. Any porridge was yucky. One of the meals was buckwheat with some weird sauce on top. I hate buckwheat so I didn’t even touch it. My partner said – not only is it buckwheat, but it also looks like a cat has thrown up on it! LOL! So I was mildly starved throughout the week. I did try to eat most of the foods, I can’t afford to not eat, I’m a breastfeeding mother after all. I only wonder – does the cook eats the food that she has cooked there too?

To top it all off, I got my period at the hospital. How very inconvenient and uncomfortable.

So, that’s my looooong rant about the delight that is a Latvian hospital. Will I ever learn to be concise and just tell the most important things, in bullet points, so to say. I will try to change, I promise. 🙂

Baby almost 3 months old!

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It is now 6 AM, I’ve been up since 5 AM – mum life. Baby is now napping so I decided to finally have a moment to look back and write. I never got around to writing anything at his two months. Time just flies by and it is so much more difficult to find a moment to myself, and when I do have a moment, I just want to relax and do nothing, play candy crush on the phone or watch some YouTube videos. It’s a celebration if I get to take a bath and read a book!

I now appreciate so much when I can have a warm home-made meal and not just something quick that I can prepare with one hand while holding the baby in the other hand. Quite often when I do have the time to cook a proper meal, I then don’t have time to eat the meal in peace, so I either eat while bouncing with the baby on the fitness ball, or I eat a cold or microwaved meal.

All in all, I think we are doing good. The baby’s tummy problems are gone, I think, he is spitting up sort of a bit less, I feel much better physically, we are going on walks now almost every day, and I can get more sleep at nights. The baby sleeps well at night, meaning that he doesn’t stay up at night in between feeds. Mostly he has one longer sleep in the beginning of the night, which can be just three hours, or up to 5 hours maximum so far. Then, afterwards he has several short sleeps of 2 hours. It isn’t a lot, but I still am happy even about that. Usually we both get up half-asleep, feed and go back to bed, without waking up properly.

According to the recommendations, new-borns should be fed on demand or every three hours at least. In the beginning, I did the three hours, however, I’ve changed that to two hours, firstly, because he gets too hungry and therefore eats too frantically, swallows a lot of air, overeats, and as a result – spits up a lot. Also, my boobs would practically be explosive from waiting so long, I went through several packs of nursing pads in such a short time! At night, I had to wear either a bra or a tight top, or crop top so I could have the nursing pads on. Now the leakage and engorgement is gone, with the exception of nights when he sleeps longer and eats lazier. So I still wake up at night in soaking pyjamas, but that doesn’t really bother me. Also, when I feed the baby, the tap on the other boob also turns on and it leaks. I had a thought that if only there was a device that collects all the leaked milk, so I googled it, and it turns out that there is! The most promising one seems to be milk collection shells by Medela, they cost around 12 pounds on e-bay. I don’t know If I’ll order them, it’s not like it is a bare necessity. If I do, I’ll share my experience.

Another thing about feeding my son is that he eats very quickly, like a pumpinator, the meal is often finished as fast as in 4 minutes. That is when he will start freaking out at the boob, kicking and punching, trying to suckle some more but not being able to. A pacifier fixes that problem and instantly calms him down. I’ve concluded that he just has a very strong sucking reflex. One of the possibilities was that he’s freaking out because there is not enough milk, but that isn’t so – I’ve tried pumping instead and I produce around 2.5-3 ounces (70-90ml) of milk per each feeding, which is normal for feeding him every two hours. He pretty much eats up almost everything as well, I usually can only pump out a few teaspoons of milk after he is finished eating. So, I guess I’m lucky to have a very fast eater. Other babies can eat for a half-hour, or even longer.

The baby is growing quickly and learning new things all the time. He is now “talking” a lot, testing his voice, cooing and squealing, and smiling away, when he is in a good mood. He is always happy in the mornings and fussy in the evenings when it’s time to go sleep. If he is completely hysterical and won’t fall asleep, wrapping him in a scarf sling works nicely. We now have a few more things for him and our home is already slowly getting dominated by baby stuff. He has a rocking chair that I put him in after feeding, it keeps him a bit upright so he wouldn’t spit up as much, and he can enjoy some rocking and can see around him, so he just chills and “talks” in the chair for a few moments. I usually use that time to do some chores or prepare myself something to eat. Another new toy that I got him is an activity mat, which has two bows going across it with a sound/light toy in the middle and some more hanging toys along the bows. As well as a very simple mobile, which I set up on the changing station instead of the crib because my rule is that the crib is only for sleeping. He cannot yet consciously grasp anything with his hands yet but he is very good at kicking the toys and the music/lights device on the playmat and the toys on the mobile.

The rocking chair was passed on to me by my brother and the mat and mobile I bought used for 25 euros. It is quite ridiculous how expensive everything is for a baby and how much you end up spending. That mat, which is literally just some fabric and plastic with simple toys plus the music device in the middle would have cost me 80 euros at the shop! It is nice, but it’s not THAT nice!

What we have also spent quite a lot on is equipment for my partner to bottle-feed the baby, so that he can bond with him and I can rest or go out on an errand. We have bought a breast pump (30 EUR), a steriliser (50 EUR), 2 feeding bottles (8 EUR each), and now also a bottle warmer (30 EUR on offer). Over 100 euros, just so my partner can feed him too. It is possible to do without the steriliser, or the bottle warmer, but it’s much more inconvenient. Also, I learned that in the UK, which is where my partner is from, all this stuff costs less for some reason. The same Tommee Tippee bottle warmer, for example, costs around 15 pounds there. Here, in a poorer country, everything is more expensive for some reason. The same applies to baby clothes. No wonder the second-hand clothes shops thrive here!

One of the very useful things that we bought is a Lodger Bunker fleece sleeping bag for going out on walks in the cold weather. It keeps him nice and cosy in the pram, no need for a snowsuit. We just pop him in with normal clothes on (maybe an extra jumper or jacket if it’s very cold), only adding woollen socks, mittens and a hat. If we need to go into a shop with the pram, we only need to open the sleepsack so he doesn’t overheat, which wouldn’t be possible with a snowsuit. It did cost us 80 euros (la-dee-fucking-daaa!), but it really is worth it, you can use it until the age of 3 years (highly unlikely but you can, theoretically), you can keep it for the next children you’re planning to have, or you can sell it – even a used one usually costs around 50 euros and they go like cakes, as everyone knows it’s a good product.

OK, enough about expenditures, moving on about how the mummy is doing. My body is back to normal, more or less. I’m very close to my pre-pregnancy weight. Before birth I weighed 72 kg, a few days after birth – 62kg, and now – 68 kg. I’m in no rush to lose any weight, and try to eat properly so that my milk supply would be good.

One of the downsides of having a child is that from rocking the baby on the fitness ball and just carrying him all the time, I’ve developed an always sore back. I should remember to straighten my back on the ball, but in reality, I’m always hunched over, encasing him with my upper body. An achy back is the consequence. My arms and hands are also a bit stiff and achy from holding the bundle of joy in various positions. My left arm seems to have gotten stronger than the right one from holding him in that arm mostly, which I’m trying to change for the sake of symmetry of the baby and myself.

Another badness – I went to the dentist to fix a tooth, informed her that I’m post-partum, and at the end of the appointment she told me that as a dentist she does not recommend me to breastfeed for longer than 6 months. The reason is that the baby is literally sucking the life out of me and calcium out of my teeth. Well, as at now, her recommendation has not changed my determination to breastfeed as long as necessary. I’ll just stick to having a good diet and supplementing.

The third “joy” is that I think I already got my first period. Well, at least I don’t think it could be anything else. Normally breastfeeding mummies would get some time off the period, but I guess I’m among the lucky ones to get it returning two weeks after all the post-labour cleansing ended. I’ll see what happens. What if it was a one-off? If it wasn’t, then the next cycle should be starting any day now. At least I’ll now know I can already get pregnant again. That is, when resume doing the deed with my partner, which I still haven’t. Still haven’t gotten around to doing it. 😀 Also, my hormones have returned to pre-pregnancy mode, which manifests in my hair getting greasy in 3-4 days again instead of a week. And the hair fall. It’s fucking everywhere! LOL!

There is a bit of a situation with our little nugget’s health, which could be something and could also be nothing. When I know more I’ll write about that, but for now I just have to patiently wait to find out what is what. Oh, the glory of Latvia where health care for children is for free! The only thing is, to receive that health care you have to wait in line for months to get an appointment with a specialist! By the time you have that appointment, the situation has changed – either resolved on its own, or worsened. You have the option to pay for the appointment and skip the long wait, but it is mostly still quite a long time. That is quite frustrating when it concerns a small vulnerable creature that you want to protect and not allow anything bad happen to him. Anyway, rant over. Until I know more – bye!

Baby is over a month old

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I’ve successfully carried my child in my belly for 41 weeks, got him out, and got home from hospital. Now what? Now is a process of learning how to co-exist with this little new life, our bundle of joy and how to take care of him the best way possible while not forgetting about your own needs.

The very beginning seemed to be quite hard yet manageable. He slept for about 2-3 hours, woke up, got his diaper changed, got fed, and went back to sleep again. The difficult part in this was the every 3 hours bit, because that means that I can’t get a good night’s sleep of 8 hours straight. However, me and my partner did manage to play around this. Since we both stay at home and take care of the baby, he has as much time and energy as I do. So we basically slept in shifts, and I pumped my chesticles dry before I went to sleep every night so my partner can have some bonding time bottle feeding the little nugget during his night shift and I could have about 5-6 hours of sleep until I woke up from the feels of explosive boobs.

Now that he’s a month old, his sleeping patterns have changed – he is actually being awake more. Therefore, he needs our attention more, so now it is much harder than in the very beginning. He can now be awake most part of the day, and then sleep-eat-sleep-eat at night. Now I have learned that I really need to sleep whenever he sleeps at night. I can no longer afford to use it as “me time”, otherwise I’ll regret it later when I’m in zombie mode due to not being able to shut my eyes for a minute.

The level of hardness, I guess, is proportionate to how poorly I’ve been feeling. Namely, the more I’ve recovered and able to do more, the harder and energy-consuming everything gets.

Life also wasn’t too bad until the baby started having tummy troubles. He would have lots of gas, or he would seem to be constipated or just have tummy ache, trying to push something out, contorting and writhing, kicking and punching the air, his face red from pushing. All these troubles started when he was about two weeks old and they have stayed with us since, with some good days here and there too. Every time he lands a nice juicy poo in his diaper is a gleeful moment because that means that all that pushing and effort has a result now, and even if it’s just for a moment – the baby feels relieved and is not in pain. Although, I don’t really understand how he can start the pushing process again right away – he just does it all the time, whether there is something to push out or not. Being careful and concerned parents, we have combed the internet and Youtube to find the best remedies for baby tummy troubles. The things that help are: 1) massaging the tummy in circular clockwise motion, 2) pushing baby’s knees into his tummy to let the mean farts out and doing bicycles with his legs 3) bouncing on a fitness ball or bouncy-walking. I was very happy when I got the fitness ball – it is a miracle and seems to solve any problem. Just bounce on it with the baby and he’ll calm down, stop pushing and very likely fall asleep, even if it’s for only a moment. The ball is a must-have for every new parent. For tummy troubles we are also giving him simeticone drops, which seem to help too.

Before I gave birth, I was very determined to try and do without a pacifier. Ironically, we have 4 pacifiers at home, even we haven’t bought any ourselves. Two of them were gifts from grandparents, one was a gift from maternity hospital, and one came in a free package of samples from a pharmacy. I thought that giving child a pacifier is like cheating him and it’s only a mute button to make a lazy parent’s life easier. Also giving a pacifier could cause nipple confusion for the child and result in him chewing my nipples instead of sucking. However, my determination lasted three weeks until I gave up. The pacifier is a big help in helping a tired baby fall asleep and keeping him asleep when he starts tossing and turning, waking himself up. It helps him calm down when diaper needs to be changed because that is a tragedy for the kid 90% of the times. My partner’s theory is also that it actually helps with the pushing by relaxing the child because sometimes that’s all it takes for the stuff to come out. Mostly it just calms him down and satisfies the sucking reflex. I do at least try to use the pacifier only when it is actually necessary, rather than just sticking it in baby’s mouth whenever.

The other problem is that he spits up a lot of food, wasting my good precious milk. However, this is what my partner is more concerned about. For me it is just a bit annoying that I have to clean him or myself up. My partner thinks he has reflux desease. I think he spits up excessively when he does all the pushing, and that’s the reason it all comes up. Sometimes he’ll be perfect and not spit up at all, or it will be the normal teaspoon amount of spit-up, but then other times there is so much of it that I wonder if there is anything left in his tummy at all. But because the baby doesn’t seem to be too bothered by this himself and does keep gaining weight, I think he’s alright.

We have been a bit lazy parents when it comes to bathing him and going on walks. He is not that dirty and the bathing process ir a bit too much to do it every day, so we just make sure that his eyes, ears, face and all the crevices are clean and dry by using cotton and warm clean water. As to taking walks, I wasn’t up to carrying the pram cot downstairs, since I shouldn’t lift anything heavier than the baby while I’m still healing. Plus the weather isn’t always nice. Plus we both are just tired and busy with baby and it’s at the bottom of our list of priorities. We have only lately started going out on walks with the baby more.

It is amazing how quickly he is growing. At the 1 month GP visit he was weighed and has gained 1.2 kilograms since being discharged from hospital. He has grown longer too, he barely fits into most of the new-born size clothes, which initially looked like loose sacks on him with dangly leg parts. He’s learning something new every day, for example a new sound that he makes, or noticing and observing toys. The best new skill of all – smiling. It just melts my heart when he smiles, even if it’s for a split second. I’m so happy to see him just hanging out in his pram cot, having a good time, being a happy baby, making cooing sounds. Still, the times when he’s asleep are the best anyway, because that means I can actually use the toilet, shower, and maybe even eat something.

Even though me and my partner are mostly tired (I’m actually good half the time because I’m being wiser as to when I sleep now), we are both mostly covered in puke, pee and poo, and me – leaking milk from my breasts, being new parents is the best experience, and it’s so rewarding. We have a little continuation of ourselves, something that we grew from a little dot, a cell. It is especially rewarding in the funny moments. For example, the baby was laying in my lap and suddenly an atomic poosplosion happened in his diaper, and I could literally feel the warm goodness on my legs. Later it turned out that the goodness was actually poo that had leaked out of his diaper and onto me. And that shit is like turmeric – it does not wash out. I’ll forever have yellow poop stains on my fairly new pajamas. 😀 LOL!

Another time he had fallen asleep in my arms but needed to be put in his crib. That is always dangerous – one wrong move and he wakes up and you can start over again, making him fall asleep, waiting long enough and then attempting to transfer him to bed. It’s like handling a bomb. 😀 So, I was already at the crib, ready to lay him down when I couldn’t help but sneeze. The terrified “about-to-cry” face on the awoken baby was so priceless, so funny. So he was looking at me like I’m the most evil creature in the world, curling his lip downwards, while I was uncontrollably chuckling about it. 😀

And then just little moments, like him continuing sucking the pacifier when there is no pacifier in his mouth, or him coughing or sneezing in my face. 😀 Or his face when I’m washing is bum under the warm stream of water.

As to myself healing from the childbirth process – now, five weeks after I feel OK and healed. Warning – gross stuff coming up! :p I still have to see what my gynecologist says when I see him in a week. I haven’t dared to look at myself down there, even though I probably wouldn’t see anything too awful, I just don’t feel the need to look anyway. Hopefully my tears have healed now and stitches have come out. I did get a bit of a scare two weeks after labour. The bleeding had started to lessen, which I was happy about. But then the flow increased again, and one day when we were out on a walk I felt a big lump falling out of there – that was a blood clot, about the size of a peach. In addition to that, my crotch felt like it’s been smacked with a bat. I freaked out about that a bit, called my doctor, and got an answer that blood clots like that are normal, and unless I feel dizzy and weak and get high temperature, I shouldn’t worry. Then, a week later it happened again, only this time the clot was twice as big. Ew! But now that all is behind me and after using up about three packs of pads and a big pack of panty liners I only have a bit of spotting going on. Can’t wait to have a nice soak in a bath – haven’t been able to have one in the healing process. Also, the one thing I’m looking forward to and afraid of at the same time is making love. If there is a lot of sensitive scar tissue down there, it might not feel nice. The only thing to do, I guess, is to wait and see.

Post-labour days at maternity hospital

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After giving birth to my amazing little ray of sunshine, my life has changed. Now that we have been home for almost a month, again, I finally have a spare moment and am in the mood for writing about the three days spent at the maternity hospital after the baby was born.

Before I got pregnant, I never knew how not easy pregnancy is and only then I realised what my friends with kids have gone through. Now I have a whole new appreciation for that. The same I can say about labour and the time after giving birth – I didn’t realise how hard it would be physically to be in labour and give birth, and also – what I would feel like post labour. And oh my, it is hard.

Whilst I was exhausted from labour and birth process, felt physically weak and poorly, I still had to attend to my new-born baby and feed it every three hours. The first night and day with the baby were quite difficult, and thank god I was lucky enough to have my partner with me, helping me with everything. Because of the pain in my lower back and bum it was a challenge getting up from the bed, as I couldn’t sit, not even on my side. Next challenge was undressing and dressing, and showering (with the goal of having the first pee after birthing – that was successful). With all of these things my partner helped me – he dressed me and was next to me in case I’m unable to stand on my own or get dizzy and faint. I didn’t get dizzy or faint though, luckily. But I was so weak that it was a challenge even stepping into the shower, I couldn’t bend over or squat down to pick something up from the floor, I couldn’t dry myself after the shower. Good thing I was able to pee, otherwise they would have put in a catheter down there, which I believe is not very pleasant.

After showering and peeing I got a few hours of much needed sleep. My partner stayed that night and day, but left in the evening of the first day, so that we wouldn’t have to pay extra for him staying and he could bring unnecessary things home, as well as get some rest at home too. So the rest of the days he came during visiting hours. In the three days I was there I didn’t get much sleep at all because at night the baby was fussy, having his first tummy aches. You would think that I could then compensate during the day, especially when my partner was there, but no – every day was busy, not only caring for the baby, but also going to see children’s doctor, gynecologist and getting my blood pressure measured every day. On the second day I also had to go and get an x-ray done for my lungs. In addition to these errands, people would just pop in my room to either examine me or the baby, the janitors came already around 7 or 8 AM to clean up the room and mop the floors, as well as food was brought to the room three times a day. So with all these activities – no sleep for me. On the third day a nurse came at 6AM and just took away the baby to have blood drawn from his hand for some tests. Well, no aspect of that is normal.

When I did have to go to doctors and other errands, that was not easy again. Because all the intestines were kind of loose in my tummy without a baby in it, it was hard to breathe when I was standing up or walking, my diaphragm was sort of misplaced. For this reason I couldn’t even stand straight with shoulders back. Whenever I went to doctors, or to the x-ray, I had to wait in line because they call in many women to the docs at once. I couldn’t sit down to wait and had to stand there, breathless, hunched over. As a law, everyone just had to tell me to sit down, and ask why I can’t sit and I had to explain about my new friends – hemorrhoids. Some other new mummies though didn’t look affected by labour at all, walking around cheery like nothing has happened. I heard one of them say: “oh, not a big deal, I only have given birth, piece of cake!” I envy women like that. But there were some who were worse than me too – I saw a woman who looked extremely exhausted, with terrible bed hair, barely able to stand or walk. Would not want to be her. So I guess I was somewhere in the middle with how I felt.

On the first day I barely ate anything, all I had was some yogurt and maybe a banana or two because I was afraid to go to the toiled with No.2 due to the painful hemorrhoids. On the second day I realised that I don’t have a choice and have to eat, as lack of nutrition was one of the reasons I felt so weak. So I started eating somewhat normal again, and the food that was served was quite nice, I enjoyed it. The one thing I didn’t eat was buckwheat – I hate it. It did happen – I needed to go No.2 soon enough, which was quite an experience, but was not as bad as I feared, I survived. 😀

Every day I brought the baby to children’s doctor who examined the baby, weighed him, he got his eyes and nose cleaned, as well as his skin crevices. His umbilical cord was attended to as well. In the first day the baby spat up bloody liquid. When the doctor examined him and I told about it, it also happened in her presence. It turned out it was from my breast – colostrum in my right breast came out slightly bloody. So nothing scary, I just had to feed more from the other breast and put compresses on the right one.

In the first days babies lose some of their birth weight through pooping, peeing and just drying out slightly. My baby lost about 200-300 grams, but on the third day showed a little growth in weight, so feeding him was successful. On that day my breasts also swell up and were hard and very sensitive – the real milk was starting to come in. The doctor was so satisfied with all this that she offered me to get discharged that day, even though I wasn’t on the planned list. That was happy news for me – we went home just before Christmas. 🙂

Before leaving we had to run final errands – getting baby’s blood drawn from a toe for testing, he had his TB shot done, I got checked by the gynecologist the last time as well.

Around 4 PM on the third day we left the maternity hospital. Before that we, of course had to pay invoices for the epidural and the rooms that we stayed in. I knew that if you have a Riga public transport card, you can get a discount for the services provided by the maternity hospital. Unfortunately, for that one of the invoices need to be redone, and it was even more stupid because the woman at the reception was extremely upset and grumpy about needing to do that. According to her, you have to tell beforehand that you have the card and want the discount, and now she has to do extra work just before Christmas! She didn’t even end up doing it – she called someone else who came and redid the invoice. Such lack of manners, even though I apologised and told I didn’t know, etc. In the end, the discount only applied to the charge for the room I stayed in after labour. I still had to pay fully for my partner staying over, for the room we stayed at during induction, as well as the epidural. Guess how much I saved – 3 fucking euros. If I knew that it would take all this for only 3 euros I wouldn’t have bothered. But it is so stupid that that is all I could get a discount for. I don’t understand why everything else couldn’t be discounted, especially the epidural. So unfair, Riga!

The woman at the reception did lighten up a little and even wished me merry Christmas when I gave little presents upon leaving. I’m generally not a rude person but I have to say it. Bitch!

What I was also unhappy about is that in the last examination at the children’s doctor, my baby’s umbilical cord got basically torn off, leaving a little stub left on the belly button, which I would then have to clean with an alcohol wipe every day. I expected for them to do the right thing – leave the umbilical cord, so that it would just dry up and fall off on its own. They taped a pad over it, which would protect it from infection, and it had to stay on until next day. However, on the way home the baby had a major poop explosion in his diaper, which resulted in the pad soaking in poop, so we had to take it off as soon as we were home. And later it also got soaked in pee from the diaper. It didn’t look good, the remainder of the umbilical cord was basically raw white stuff that wouldn’t dry up, as it was covered all the time by the skin of the belly button, like a hood. Luckily nothing got infected and it did end up healing well. It did anger us anyway that this is what they did to our baby, it was just not right.

Overall the stay at the hospital was both good and bad, there were things I didn’t like, and some I did appreciate, such as having food served three times a day. Now at home I have to serve myself. :p But being home is always the best, even if it is slightly harder. I feel better and better with each day, and hope to be completely back to normal soon. 🙂

 

Baby is here! Birth story

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In the evening of December 20, 2016, my sweet little ray of sunshine was born. He is now two weeks old, and finally I have some time to sit down and write our birth story.

According to my doctor, I was overdue 41 weeks and 3 days, hence he gave me a referral for induction. Therefore, I couldn’t go to the hospital I had planned to give birth at because they specialise more in births with complications. Instead, I had to give birth at the Riga maternity hospital. So on the morning of the planned day I went there with my partner, both packed up and ready for the big event. At the reception I was looked at, admitted and told that my partner cannot come with me because they are out of “family” induction wards and could only place me in a shared room with someone else who is getting induced. He would have to wait until noon when visiting hours start to see me, and if I didn’t go into active labour until 8PM, he would have to leave until I get transferred to the labour ward. All that is a weird system and I don’t get it – it’s just ridiculous that he can’t be there with me and support me in the process.

Luckily, when I was with the staff member who allocates the rooms for induction, she asked me if I would like to have a “twin” room formally turned into a family room so I wouldn’t have to share it with other expectant mummies and could have my partner there as well. For an extra payment, of course.

So, we got there, I got the baby’s heart tones checked, a doctor saw me, and I was told to take a dose of a powder hourly. That is what I did, was in quite a good mood, just chilling at the room with my partner. Some very light contractions came in moments, but I could barely feel them, I could compare them with training contractions that I would get during pregnancy. With the second dose the contractions got a bit stronger, the pain was around 3 out of 10. Went to check heart tones, contractions showed up there as well. I was still chilling, feeling OK, sitting on the fitness ball and colouring in my adult colouring book. Lunch was brought to us in interesting boxes, and I even ate in spite of the contractions. Interestingly, I could choose vegetarian meals when I got allotted the room. The only difference from a non-vegetarian meal though was that my portion didn’t have a piece of chicken meat on top of rice but my partner did. 😀

At 3 PM I took my third dose of powder. Around 4PM my pains got more intense. Also, I got only about 2 – 3 minutes of rest between the contractions. The contraction timer app on my phone said – “immediately go to hospital!” I still could cope with them, could breath through them by standing up and supporting myself against the wall with elbows. I had another session of heart tones done on me as well. After five hours spent having weaker and then stronger contractions and pains, a doctor examined me – I was only 1 cm dilated. Inspiring, isn’t it? After that I got injected a spasmolitic something in my bum, which was supposed to do I don’t know what. Help with spastic pain, I guess. Also, at some point here, my mucus plug came out.

Funny how the contractions were so close to each other right away – that is quite tiring. The normal labour process would go differently. the first contractions would be around 20 minutes apart, and slowly the intervals would decrease to 15, 10, 5 minutes and the pains would gradually increase. An interval of 2 minutes would normally be there at full dilation, about to push the baby out. But for me – nope, no luck, 2 minutes it is, all the way. So tiring!

Around 5PM my pains had gone very intense, standing propped against the wall wouldn’t help anymore, I was on my knees, supporting my chest and arms against the bed. I struggled to breathe properly through the very frequent contractions. My partner already earlier told me to go get somebody and ask for some pain relief, as this didn’t look normal to him that I’m struggling so much. Eventually I did go to complain that I’m in a lot of pain and contractions are VERY frequent. However, the woman who did the heart tones for me looked at me like I’m a whiny bitch and said – “And what do you want from me?” So after this moment of attitude I retreated to the room to suffer and wait for 7PM when a doctor was scheduled to examine me again. Those two hours were not nice.

At 6.45PM, while I was in my on-the-knees-and-bed position, still suffering, my waters broke. That’s when my partner had had enough, bless him, and ran out to tell the staff that my waters have broken and I need to be seen. Of course, he spoke English, not Latvian. So the only thing that the staff member did was show thumbs up to him, as in to say – very good. She did finally come to see how I am – miserable with pain, moaning. She called for a janitor to come clean up the mess on the floor. I went to rinse myself off in the shower, which felt so nice on my back during a contraction. All the while, the woman came and rushed me to be quicker and that the doctor is now waiting to examine me. I couldn’t even dress myself in the birthing gown and dry myself, my partner did that for me. In the very beginning, I liked that woman, we were chatting about my bump and other things while my baby’s heart tones were taken. At this point I hated her guts, she was so indifferent to how I was and acted as if I was simulating pain or as if I was a weak pussy that I couldn’t handle it.

So, finally I got seen by the doctor, and surprise surprise – my cervix was dilated only mere 2cm!!! Two fucking centimeters after hours of exhausting pain every two minutes! Bless the doctor, she asked if I’m considering an epidural. Yes, please, as soon as possible, please!!!

However, it didn’t happen as soon as possible – first, the had to check the heart tones again, and only then we can move on to the labour ward upstairs. Luckily, at least my partner was packing up all the things in the meanwhile, even though no-one had told him that we are leaving the induction room. Finally, the heart tones were done, and we could move on to the labour ward. Someone said that maybe I should get a wheelchair to go, but the heart tone bitch woman right away said no, she’s walking. I didn’t really need a wheelchair, but who the fuck is she that she can just blatantly say it like that!!! Thank god, I never saw her again and everyone from this point forward was nice and thoughtful to me.

As we got to the labour ward, I was told by the midwife (who was nice) that before calling the anaesthetist,  they have to look at the heart tones for at least ten minutes. Yes, again, even I had just done it, just in a different room of the same institution. But oh well, what can I say, what needs to be done, needs to be done. All this lingering and waiting for pain relief was like an eternity of pain for me, I was well miserable. And nauseous – I needed to have a vomit bowl with me all the time while I suffered. That’s when I regretted having that nice meal earlier. Later, as I was pushing, I was having nasty heartburn and burps with acidic aftertaste of rice. Yuck! Luckily, I did hold my stomach contents in. 🙂 Also, at this point, up until the time when I needed to push, I was shivering like a freaking tambourine and I couldn’t help it.

After these very long 10 minutes, the anaesthetist finally came, gave me an epidural, after which every next contraction became less painful, but still a good half hour passed until I could smile and just breathe through every contraction, rather than wailing as if I was dying. God bless epidurals! 🙂

This is where everything gets grosser – you have been warned! :p

A bit more than half-hour after the epidural was done and I felt like a human again, during one of the contractions, I felt my cervix just opening up and baby’s head sliding down. And even further down with each contraction. The midwife came at 9PM, I told her this, and she examined me – fully dilated! She said that either the epidural had worked miracles by relaxing me so much that my cervix dilated so quickly, or my cervix has torn. In the end, it turned out to be the second version had happened. Because of very strong contractions so often, my cervix just gave up and ripped open. Nice. Again, god bless epidural, because If the cervix ripped while I feel all the pain, I would fucking go mental from pain and panic. Unless the tear of the cervix would be painless. In that case, never mind.

Although I wanted to give birth in a somewhat vertical position, and it seemed like a valid option then, that didn’t happen. I had to push the baby out the standard way – laying on the birthing table on my back, with my legs wide open. Well, whatever, I just rolled with the situation and did what the midwife told me. In the beginning I had to push mildly with my diaphragm, whilst uttering a hissing sound. However, a bit later I had to switch to proper pushing hard. Then, towards the end I also had to hold my knees and push in that position. Everyone was encouraging me, midwife told me to do the pushes like I’m angry, my partner was next to me telling me that I’m doing great all the time. And I was a mess, saying that I can’t do this, it’s too hard, and so on. I did still performed as good as I could. That was proper hard work, I was read from the efforts and sweating. That all was awful. It was the worst when the baby’s head was actually starting to come out, that’s when I was getting panicky. It was the worst when I did manage to push the baby’s head out, but when it was halfway out, the contraction ended. That is when I proper panicked and was saying that I can’t do this, it’s not coming out, why couldn’t it just come out, why did it have to get stuck like this! The midwife then was telling me to listen, like, 15 times, and tried to bitch-slap me out of the panic by telling me to focus, that the baby is almost out, and to thing about the baby, etc. It’s not like I would stop pushing or anything when the next contraction would come.

When the next contraction came, finally I did the last pushes and the baby’s head was out and so was he, a huge relief, and I met him. He was instantly put on my tummy and wrapped in a changing sheet. He only had a little cry and then was just quiet, making just small sounds, being a nice baby. 🙂 I had been pushing for less than an hour. And yes, I pooped a little during the pushes (sorry!). It didn’t matter though at the time, that wasn’t really on the top of anybody’s priority list. 😀 The umbilical cord was cut by my partner already 2-3 minutes later. Although I protested that we should wait until it stops pulsating and only then cut it, the midwife said that it’s not pulsating at all, and gave me to feel it, so there is no point in waiting, it needs to be cut. A moment later, the placenta coming out was nothing, I barely felt it. I did start to feel my vagina burning a bit.

I did have a minor tear of the vagina in addition to the torn cervix. The next worst part of the labour was the stitching process. Even though I got an extra dose of epidural medicine, plus I got injected a local anaesthetic down there, that was awful. The doctor who sowed me up put spreaders in there, and maneuvered them around there to get to all the corners of the cervix and put stitches on. Sowing up what had torn in the vagina was slightly less awful, but still awful. All this took place while I was holding the baby on my tummy. Then, after everything was stitched up, the next awful thing that was done, is pushing on my stomach right above the pubic bone, to see if all the bloody gunk is coming out of my vagina from there. Why? Why do you need to do that?

The baby got weighed and measured and examined, everything was well. My partner put on his first diaper – he already had started pooping. 😀 And he also dressed him. Everybody there was praising him for doing so well and being so confident, dressing the baby, saying that it is rare that daddies are doing that and being so good at it.

According to the midwife – my baby was definitely not overdue. He weighed just over three kilos, he was still partly covered in vernix, and his skin was fine – overdue babies look like they’ve had a too long bath, wrinkly and their skin start peeling. Also the placenta was small and had no signs of ageing. So, my little nugget was forced out instead of coming into this world naturally. I could have waited at least two more weeks, as he looked more like a 38 weeks old, not  41+3. However, I do understand that doctors won’t risk being responsible for waiting in case any trouble happens with the pregnancy and child, so I can’t blame them.

After the baby was dressed, I breastfed him for the first time, and then we were left alone for a while to spend some time there and somewhat recover. Then we were taken to a room – I had to sit in a wheelchair, which was adjusted in a way that the back is down a bit. My bum was very painful, a lot of pressure-like pain there, and just plain pain. Luckily, the room I got was a private one, costing only 15 euros, rather than 60 euros for a family room. For my partner to stay with us the first night, we had to pay extra 30 euros per night. I don’t know how I would manage without him then – I was so exhausted and weak and in pain, so I’m lucky to have him there.

Of course, when we were in the room already and I was laying down, someone came to see me, and again, felt the need to push on my stomach again to see what’s coming out of me downstairs. Why? Why?

To have the first post-labour pee, I had to do it in the shower, instead of on the toilet. I needed my partner’s help getting up, undressing, drying me afterwards and just being there in case I get dizzy and need help with just standing. While showering, I realised one of the reasons why my bum hurt so much – I had pushed out huge hemorrhoids. It is much better now, but then they were horrendous, I felt like I had grown a set of testicles and was half-man now. Again, awful. For a few days I couldn’t sit, not even onto a side, I could only lay on my side. Even laying on my back was painful. That, however, was partly because of the epidural, according to what my partner said.

I then fed the baby again, and he, being the good boy that he is, was so good with latching on to the nipple and suckling. And he still is. 🙂 He is my ray of sunshine, I love him so much that thinking it makes my eyes tear up.

So that was my day at the maternity hospital, giving birth, having an awful experience. All the things I wrote in my birth plan – in vain. Labour didn’t start naturally, and I was induced, I got an epidural, I couldn’t choose a somewhat vertical birth position or sit on a birthing stool while pushing, I couldn’t “breathe the baby out” and was pushing my guts out instead, the umbilical cord was cut without waiting. The only things that I wanted and did happen is that my waters broke naturally, I had my baby put on my chest for skin-to-skin contact, the umbilical cord was cut by the father, and I got a demonstration of what the placenta looks like. But well, at least I didn’t need a c-section and the baby came through the right doors. 😀 Right after he was born, all I could say repeatedly, was “That was awful” and “Never again!”. Now, two weeks later, when the big pains and recovery process is almost over, I’m thinking – maybe one more time, but not any time soon. I hope nobody gets discouraged or scared of giving birth because of the horrible things that happened to me. 🙂

I’ll try some time later to write about the three post-labour days at the maternity hospital, if I have some spare time and baby lets me. Poot! :p

40 weeks pregnant! Baby, come out!

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Here we are, I have reached full term of pregnancy. I weigh 72 kg; bump circumference has reached 110cm. Today I’m actually two days overdue already, yet I don’t feel like giving birth yet, I don’t see any signs of approaching labour. Overall I feel great, I don’t have much of any pains, don’t feel tired (unless I’m active, I’m still lazy though).

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Hopefully the last bump picture of this pregnancy

There were two days over a week ago, when my hips hurt a lot suddenly to the point where it even hurt to walk, it was very painful getting inside bed and positioning myself comfortably. At that point I was certain that labour will start in a day or two, otherwise my hips wouldn’t be doing that. It literally felt like someone had taken a hammer and smacked my bones into many small pieces. However, that pain went away, and my hips are almost OK now. There is still some of the old hip pain there, but I can live with it very well.

Last time I went to doctor, everything looked good or even excellent – heart tones, baby’s positioning, my blood pressure. I did blood and pee test, and turns out these have improved too, as I no longer have iron deficiency anaemia, ferritin is within norm and haemoglobin has risen to 113 (below standard for a normal person, but good for me). That I’m very happy about.

Throughout my pregnancy, I’ve managed to stay healthy and not get ill, except the time when I had stomach flu. I was hoping to stay healthy for the rest of the pregnancy but, unfortunately, I did catch a cold last week and was a bit poorly. At first, my tonsils were swollen and painful for 3 days, then that went away but I had a sore throat and a slight cough for a couple of days. That has gone too, but now I’m still dealing with a stuffy nose. All in all, I’m happy that all of this came in a light form, with no high temperature, and I managed to deal with it naturally, and nothing progressed to a cold badness. I’m also happy that labour didn’t start while I was in this not so good condition.

This week we also managed to do shopping for the last things baby will need – crib bumper pads and a changing surface for the wardrobe, which we have finally also received and which I assembled. We also got a festive fake Christmas tree with built-in fibre-optic lights, which I was joyfully jumping up and down about. That is the first Christmas tree I’ve had since living away from parents, and although it’s small, I love it and it means a lot to me. Now there is one little wrapped gift under it, waiting for Christmas.

Everything seems to be done now, and we are completely ready for the baby to come. I hope it will come soon, at least soon enough that I wouldn’t have to get induced. I trust that the baby knows his own karma and when he needs and is supposed to come. And I hope he knows I don’t want him to tear my vagina apart completely. Well, I don’t want a C-section either, so if a slightly torn vagina is what it takes to not be cut open to get the baby out, I’m even OK with that.

Tomorrow is my hopefully last doctor appointment before the birth, we’ll see how we are then. Who knows, maybe labour will have started even before this appointment. Only the baby knows with his karma situation.