Your birth story – Alexander

Your birth story – Alexander

Dear Alexander,
You’re now 9 weeks old, and I feel like I should get your birth story written down before I totally forget it all.

We had decided, after Elliot’s dramatic entrance to the world, to opt for an elective cesarean. This was a decision we made really early on in the pregnancy and the consultant we were referred to, as I was considered high risk due to high blood pressure/pre eclampsia last time, was really supportive of our decision. I was adamant that I did not want to be induced, and that I didn’t want to go overdue as the preeclampsia with Elliot kicked in when I was overdue.

I had really frequent blood pressure checks with the midwife – lovely Dawn – and also took part in a blood pressure study where I had to take my own blood pressure twice a day on three days each week. Thankfully it stayed normal throughout.

Our elective section was booked in for the 11th December, three days before my due date and two days before Elliot’s third birthday! We had a pre-op assessment on the 5th and while we were talking to the anaesthetist we overheard admin staff in the next room talking about the list of elective sections and heard them say my name and then we were told our date had moved to the 18th. I was not happy as I felt it increased my risk of high blood pressure – and also felt that if I had been happy to go overdue I certainly wouldn’t have been signing myself up for major abdominal surgery, thank you very much! A quick email to my consultant had us moved back to the 11th.

We dropped Elliot at my parents and arrived at the John Radcliffe hospital in Oxford where we were told that due to several emergency sections, we would have to be rescheduled. I was really calm about this, to be honest I had thought it may happen – after all Elliot’s emergency section birth probably bumped an elective, so it felt a bit like karma! The doctor offered to fit us in on the 13th in a hospital about 20 miles away, but I wanted to have the baby in the JR, so we opted for the 16th, only 2 days after my due date.

So on the Monday arrived again at Delivery Suite at 7.15am, and after a short wait we were told we were first on the list and we’d have our baby by 9.30! It was suddenly very real.

We were inundated with anaesthetists (Lisa and Alex), doctors and midwives, each asking for forms to be completed. I was asked to change into a very attractive hospital gown, and then walked into the theatre. It was the same one where Elliot was born three years and three days earlier.

The anaesthetists and midwives looked after me so well. I was asked to sit up and perch on the edge of the bed while they placed the spinal block and the epidural. This was 100 times easier than when I was asked to do the same while in labour with Elliot! I was then gently laid down, as my legs had gone tingly, and then sprayed with cold spray to make sure I was completely numb. I was hooked up to lots of machines and a blood pressure cuff, and then suddenly your daddy was next to me with a theatre gown and hat on – there was no time for any of that with Elliot’s birth.

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The whole room felt so calm and peaceful, and everyone was so friendly. The staff did a who’s who (where they all say their name and role) and then three operation started. It seemed to take a while – again totally different from last time where it took only 8 minutes from the decision to do a cesarean to Elliot being born! – but soon the lovely anaesthetist Alex told us it was nearly time, and reminded everyone that I had asked to be told whether you were a girl or a boy by your daddy. I looked at him as he looked over the blue sheet, and he said “it’s a boy!” You were born at 9.27am, so when they said we’d have you by 9.30 they really meant it!

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I got a cuddle and some skin to skin, which wasn’t possible with Elliot, and have to say that’s the time I started crying – I couldn’t believe how easy it had all been, and I was just so relieved you were here safe and sound.

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Once I was all stitched up, we were wheeled round to the observation ward where your daddy was waiting for us there. For a long while, we just sat and wondered what we were meant to do! I was desperate to see Elliot but he couldn’t come up until 3pm so we spent time staring at you, watching you feed, and sharing cuddles.

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The whole experience was so different to Elliot’s birth, and I really feel like it was a healing experience after the previous trauma. I was up and walking about within hours and despite not getting much sleep the first night – I was too afraid to sleep in cases I slept through your little snuffles (you are not a loud baby, and still only cry if you’re really REALLY hungry!) – it felt so wonderful to be a mummy to two fantastic little boys!

Lots of love,
Mummy xxx

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I remember, I remember…

Dear Elliot,

Today I haven’t stopped thinking of the day we came home from hospital with you as a tiny 5 day old baby. And why is that I hear you ask?

Let me take you back to the 18th December 2010:

You and I had been in hospital due to my silly blood pressure (which coincidentally was fine as soon as you were delivered) for 5 days after your birth on the 13th. The day came to bring you home and the snow decided to pay a visit too. Oxfordshire was covered in thick snow, which meant we only made it to my parents house instead of our home.

I love this picture of you all bundled up ready to face the cold.

First car ride

First car ride

I remember wrapping you up in a blanket and laying you down on the sofa at Grandmum and Grampy’s house. You were so tiny.

I remember struggling through the snow to get home the following day, and then Daddy carrying you across the road outside our house.

I remember leaving you asleep in the car seat in the living room, while all around was silent and white, and sitting staring at you, all the while thinking we were the luckiest people in the world at that very second.

I love snow.

xxx

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I wish I’d known… Mummy tips

My sister gave birth earlier this month to my first niece- she is absolutely the most beautiful thing ever!

It got me thinking back to the early days with Elliot and noting all the things I know now that I wish someone had told me back then:

1. If you’re anything like me, do not pay any heed to any Gina Ford “you must eat toast at precisely 7.48 am”/ “place the drowsy, but awake, baby in his crib in the complete darkness no later than 6.30pm” types. The Contented Baby book stays in a pile of discarded shoes/ bags under our bed in our house, only to be dragged out whenever I just need to check if E is drinking enough milk! I personally feel that trying to shoehorn your baby into that strict a routine is bound to end in tears (yours most likely!) In my limited experience I’d say let the baby be the guide for feeds etc for certainly the first few weeks. You’ll then probably find that you can keep them going for 3 hours between the start of one feed and the next, even if they start looking hungry after 2 or 2 1/2 hours- we found that jiggling Elliot around/ rocking him/ putting a clean finger in his mouth made him last that little bit longer and soon he knew that he’d be fed every 3 hours.

2. Breast feeding is really tough, and doesn’t work for everyone. I managed to breast feed E for almost 9 months, with the last 3 months down to 2 feeds a day and supplemented with formula. I may rile some breastfeeding advocates here but I was formula fed as a baby and so far have suffered no ill effects so have absolute confidence in saying that there is no need to be a martyr to the breastfeeding cause for any longer than you feel you can. It really won’t harm your child to supplement with formula or feed 100% from a bottle. After all if that means a happier mummy I think I know what the baby would choose if it could talk.

3. Regardless of breast or bottle, make sure you share the load- express and get your partner (if possible!) to do the last feed before midnight and get yourself to bed early. This worked a treat in our house. I got to sleep and my husband got to watch QI and Top Gear on Dave! Win-win!

4. Trust your instincts. The baby hasn’t read any parenting books do you can’t expect it to follow any of the advice/ routines contained therein. I definitely think there’s no harm in making it up as you go along!

5. Best bit of advice I was given: your baby needs to be left alone for a while every day, obviously in your sight – in a bouncy chair in the room with you or Moses basket with some bright toys to look at – so that it learns that it doesn’t need to be held all the time. Also gives your arms a rest and allows you to drink a hot cup of tea or type an email!

6. Keep night-time dark and day-time light – try if possible to feed in the dark at night and only change a dirty nappy, if it’s just wet then leave it be – and then mark the morning by opening curtains and singing/ chatting animatedly. Do this from an early age and the baby will soon learn about sleeping through.

7. Right from the start, if I was at home during the day I’d put Elliot down for any day time sleeps in his big cot in the nursery rather than the Moses basket in our room. I think that this helped when he came to move in there at night as it wasn’t new and scary.

8. Sleep when your baby sleeps. I was RUBBISH at this and now kinda regret it as I’ve realised that with any future babies I’ll not have that luxury as I’ll have Elliot to entertain! Make the most of any opportunity to rest.

9. Go out with your friends. As soon as you feel able to. Even if it’s just for an hour. It makes you feel human again, honestly. Do this often!!

10. Make time for your partner too. Book a babysitter (you’ll probably have people falling over eachother to offer) and go to the pub for a drink, yet again 1 hour is enough to save your sanity (though you will talk about your child for 90% of the time you are out!)

Finally, it’s always worth remembering that however exhausted you are at the beginning, it honestly doesn’t last forever. You’ll feel totally different in a matter of weeks, I promise. That first smile makes all these hard weeks worth it!

What did you wish you knew before having children?

Xxx

Elliot and Mummy – aged 2 weeks

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Happy Birthday my little man

13 December 2011 – your first birthday!

Happy birthday to my little man
For nine months I carried you inside me, protected you and let you grow,
For several more I carried you in my arms, rocked you to sleep and played peep-o
Now you’re crawling, very soon you’ll be walking, my little man
I can’t wait to hold your hand while you take those first steps
Just don’t grow up too fast
Looking back at photos it is very clear
You’ve achieved so much and it’s only been a year
Adventurous and fun, that’s how I’d describe you, my little man
I can’t wait to watch you grow and develop
Just don’t grow up too fast
And always remember
No matter what life throws at you
Through thick and thin
Good times and bad
I love you
Mummy xxx

My favourite photo & Your story, continued…

To Elliot,

My favourite photo is one of you and your Daddy when you were only a few hours old – I can’t remember how many, the morphine made my head a little fuzzy that day 😦

The photo perfectly captures how our lives suddenly changed the day you were born and I don’t think anything, or anyone, could have prepared us for the surge of affection we felt for you. Particularly after such a troublesome labour, we were just so amazed and relieved you were here.

I remember being transferred from the operating table to a bed, still in theatre, and someone asking me which side I wanted to lie on (I was numb from the chest down) and then someone brought you to me and put you in the crook of my arm on the bed. It was THE proudest moment of my life so far, being wheeled through to the observation ward where your daddy was waiting, with all the other mums looking to see us arrive. I was so so tired and so so happy.

We were given toast and tea and a nice nurse came and dressed you. My parents came to meet you at 3 when visitors were allowed and your other grandparents at 5. I think this photo was taken then, so you would have been 6 or 7 hours old.

I love this photo – I love the proud, tired, happy smile on your daddy, and the way you are nestled into him. The start of a wonderful relationship!

Lots of love,
Mummy xxxx