Alexander at 6 weeks

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It’s true, time really does fly when you’re having fun. And also when there’s a newborn around.

I can’t believe a little over six weeks ago I looked like this:

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Not my best photo ever!

And now here we are with a six week old baby. Madness!

So Alexander, you are now 6 weeks old and have been working really hard at gaining weight. You were 7lbs 5 at birth, and now weigh a whopping 11lb 9! Those night feeds are all worth it.

You’ve been a very easy baby this far, sleeping lots, feeding well and you hardly ever cry.

Things you love:
– stretching! You are a BIG fan of a stretch, and perform several each nappy change. You also do the cute back curl one when picked up.
– Elliot. And he loves you too. He’s told everyone at nursery that you’re a “happy baby” and he loves brining you toys and rocking you in your bouncy chair. In turn, I think you’re really starting to notice him and your eyes fix on him whenever he’s near.
– cuddles. You like to be held close and rocked. You’d happily sleep on a willing shoulder at any opportunity.
– your bouncy chair. I think you like this as it means you can be more upright, and therefore a bit less sicky, as flat positions don’t help with the little bit of reflux you seem to have at the moment. It’s also a good vantage point for observing what’s going on around you.

Thank you for being an easy baby. You’ve made our little family complete and we all adore you.

Lots of love,
Mummy xxx

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And then there were four…

December has been a busy month in our house. We’ve had the builders finish a loft conversion, a manic weekend of painting and shifting furniture about, a third birthday (to be blogged about shortly), a thirty sixth birthday, Christmas and amid all of that our newest little addition was born.

World, meet little Alexander:

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Born on the 16th December at 9.27am, weighing 7lbs5oz, by elective cesarean. The whole experience was so vastly different to Elliot’s traumatic entry to the world, and as a consequence the transition from a family of three, to a family of four, has been relatively plain sailing so far.

Alexander has been putting on lots of weight already, and is pretty easy to look after. Elliot seems to like his new little brother and has only asked me to put him down a couple of times. So, all in all, I’m really enjoying being a mummy of two. Two boys. My sons. Wow.

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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The business of birthing

I’ve been following a series of tweets from Kirstie Allsopp (@KirstieMAllsopp) today inviting comments on NCT’s attitude towards c-sections and bottle feeding. The National Childbirth Trust is well known for having a “natural birthing” focus, but it seems that many women feel that they have been presented with a rose-tinted view of birth and subsequently feel like they’ve not “done it properly” when this isn’t the reality they are faced with during labour and birth. About a quarter of all births in the UK are Caesarean sections and this doesn’t seem to be reflected in the NCT offerings.

As I could have predicted, these tweets to Kirstie have sparked me to think about my own birth experience and the attitude of my NCT leader in preparing me for Elliot’s arrival.

Before my rant reasoned argument begins, I should place a disclaimer here: obviously these views are all my own and I am only talking about my own experience with the NCT two years ago.

Through my NCT classes in October and November 2010 we met an amazing group of friends who we are still very much in touch with today. I love the fact that my son has friends that he has known since before they were all born! This was certainly the best aspect of the classes I attended and I know I’m not on my own in feeling that these friends of mine and I are forever bonded by experiencing that tough first year together. I love them all so much (that’s probably another blog post in itself!)

However, I do feel very strongly that we were not adequately prepared for the traumatic birth that some of us experienced. In no way do I think it is possible for one teacher to cover all the various aspects and possibilities of birthing within one course but I don’t think I’m alone in thinking that we were actually actively dissuaded from inductions or c-sections, when in reality a large percentage of women (myself included) do not have any options when all is said and done – I mean you can hardly refuse an emergency c-section can you? The clue is in the name!!

During the classes, we were given talks about the various stages of labour, lots of talks about how we can recognise what stage we are in (I can still see the cut out cartoon faces that we had to match up with the various stages!)

We also had detailed information about breast feeding (no bottles, which I can’t help thinking is actually harder to get right, no?!), and one particularly interesting night was spent looking inside nappies that had been smeared with marmite, pesto, or korma sauce to illustrate the progression of our soon-to-be newborn’s bowel movements.

I very clearly remember being told that we should “do everything we can to avoid being induced”, to which we all naively nodded like school children and then went home feeling a little bit confused and hopeful we wouldn’t have to worry about it.

The following week the anti-induction message continued, and the statistics of how being induced greatly increases your chances of having a medicalised birth (i.e. a forceps, ventouse or cesarean section) were discussed so the advice was still to “do everything we can” to avoid it.

Needless to say, and to be honest rather predictably for me, I ended up at 41 weeks thinking I’d already gone against the advice of my NCT tutor as I’d failed to go into labour naturally.

Resigning myself to the prospect of being induced, I then spent 20 hours in labour – actually doing really well – before I then had the second anti-NCT thought of this whole birthing experience, which was whether to have an epidural or not. I clearly remember struggling with this decision whilst completely exhausted and upset, before (thankfully?) the decision was taken out of my hands as an emergency cesarean was deemed necessary.

Of course once my beautiful son was born and was safe and well (Apgars of 10 and 10 thank you very much!) I quickly forgot about the NCT message and pushed it to the back of mind.

Today, having noticed the number of mums who are in the same boat, makes me more than a little cross. Don’t even get me started on the breast vs bottle debate which I can’t begin to cover here.

Now this is my own experience. I continue to recommend the NCT to pregnant friends as a good way to meet people and learn the basics of childcare but I do tell them to take everything with a pinch of salt so to speak.

It may not be the ethos of the NCT, or perhaps its just some of their group leaders that choose to promote an anti-medicalised labour?, but at whatever level the course outlines are agreed there needs to be an agreement to listen to the weight of evidence that implies that women do not feel adequately supported currently and address this to improve the offering.

Surely no matter how their babies are born it is the health of the mother (both mentally and physically) that should be the ultimate focus of any organisation wanting to support women and their partners through this life changing time?

Ok, rant over….

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P.S. If you’d like to read Kirstie’s blog on this issue, and the responses, you can find it here. (I especially like the Dara O’Briain NCT video at the end)