Thursday, 17 March 2011

The first week of motherhood

I'd be lying if I said this week hadn't had its ups and down. I've had an overwhelming mix of emotions going through my body, all made worse by the limited sleep and general waves of hormones women experience post-pregnancy.

The first day, after leaving theatre and being on the ward with Alfie was very surreal. I couldn't feel my legs as they'd been numbed for surgery and I still felt a bit groggy from the drugs I'd been given and the gas and air I'd had. OH, my mum, his mum and his sister were all there with me, taking pictures, asking me how I felt. The texts and phone calls had started to come through, and we'd both announced his birth on facebook to our friends. I was feeling very hungry and remember constantly asking for toast which didn't appear until about 9.30! Everyone left by about 7ish, OH was exhausted so I told him to go home and sleep. I knew he wanted to but didn't want me to be angry at him leaving me. My dad came to see Alfie and I for ten minutes on his way somewhere else. My mum had called to tell him, which is a miracle in itself as the two of them have only spoken twice without the need for lawyers in the last 11 years.

Alfie was struggling to settle that night. I was on a ward with three other women, who were all in the late stages of pregnancy and obviously experiencing some complications otherwise they wouldn't have been on the ward. I felt bad that Alfie was grumbling and crying and was probably keeping them awake and making them more anxious or upset. I'd fed him, but he just seemed to want cuddles with his mummy. I wanted him in my arms and next to me as I'd missed out on skin-to-skin with him straight after he was born, but the nurses kept coming to check I wasn't asleep with him in my arms. Its frustrating because had we been at home, I would have had him in bed with me. I was told off for putting him in the cot, because I could have pulled my stitches - it felt like I couldn't get anything right. Hold him and fall asleep is bad, put him down on my own is bad, let him grumble is bad. AAARGH. in the end I gave in and let the nurse take him to settle him. I was too exhausted to argue.

The next day, friday, I was moved to a private room, had my catheter taken out and had a shower, which I was longing for. I was told to take my dressing off so I had a good look at the damage from surgery. I have a huge (it seems huge to me) cut, just on the top of my bikini line with STAPLES in it holding it together. It looks like some sort of creepy scary movie smile thats been sewn together. Very odd. I clocked the sight of my post-pregnancy body too - with the exception of my utterly rediculous boobs which look like they belong to another person, and a slightly swollen tummy (which is probably the size it was when I was 5 months pregnant), I look pretty much exactly the same, A very pleasant surprise.

During the afternoon, we had SO MANY visitors: my sister, my mum and step dad, my friend Jodie, our friends Tommy and Lauren, OH's sister and her BF, OH's mum and brother, my aunty and uncle and finally my lovely midwife Maxine. From 2pm til amost 10pm there was someone else in my room other than me, OH and Alfie. I managed to get a feed in mid afternoon, and by the time everyone had left I was shattered. I'd only had 2.5 hrs sleep the night before, very little rest during my labour and hardly any sleep in the days leading up to it. I still felt alright thought, i felt with it and happy and content, just sleepy.

Saturday, I was sent home. I had to wait around til lunchtime to be discharged as the doctor kept getting called away. Granny Nicola (my mum) came to fetch us and take us back home. Michaela had cleaned the house for us - something that hadn't even crossed my mind. Apparently there were latex gloves, packets of lube, bloody stained towels, blankets and gowns everywhere, half drunk cups of tea, sweet packets and just general clutter. I'm so glad I didn't have to see it, I would have been mortified. Tommy and Lauren came round straight away with their daughter whose 3 and a half. It was adorable seeing her holding Alfie. They were the first people to find out I was pregnant, even before OH, and their daughter has been there every step of the way, looking at ultrasound scans, feeling the baby move, watching my belly grow and understanding that a baby was going to come out of it. She was so excited to see him - she even has her own new baby dolly that she has called Francis!

We took a walk to the local shop because I was desperate for some fresh air - I pushed the pram a bit, which I shouldn't have done as I think it put a bit too much strain on my belly. Its frustrating because I feel fine, I feel normal and like I can get back to my usual routine, but I have to keep reminding myself that theres several layers of stitches under my surface wound that need to heal and I have to rest. Its SO HARD because its really not in my nature!! That night, Alfie wasn't really settling properly. I was struggling to get him to feed properly. He only seemed to be latching on to the very ends of my nipple which was making them quite sore, and he'd only feed for 5 mins or so and would then want more an hour later. I ended up sleeping with him in bed with me as every time I tried to put him down he'd cry - and he seemed happy enough with his face on my boob.

More visitors on sunday, Grandad Clive and Beth, and Grandad Paul in the afternoon. Aunty Na and Sam came in the evening. I found myself getting a bit lairy, for want of a better word. Every time I tried to sit down to feed him. someone else would arrive to visit, I was tired, OH was cooking lunch and there didn't seem to be anywhere calm in the house for me to go and just be alone. Alfie spent the night in bed with us again, I didn't even bother trying to settle him in the crib this time as we'd really struggled feeding and he wasn't happy.

Monday we went to Jamcafe to show Alfie off to all OH's work mates and then we went to Grandma Pips. We're staying with her until sunday so OH and I can have some time together with the baby, getting used to the routine of looking after him, without having to worry about cooking and cleaning and what not. Plus, we can have time away from visitors and I can really take time to rest and relax and look after myself so I can heal properly. My milk started to come in today, more so on the RHS than the left, so I look like Pamela Anderson has been spliced with a saggy old granny. We're still struggling to feed properly and because I was getting so full, I was feeling very uncomfortable. I asked OH to pick up the breast pump from home so I could get a bit off and drip it too him if he was refusing to latch properly.

Tuesday the midwife came and weighed him, He's lost 10oz since he was born, which is quite a lot, and I explained we were having trouble feeding so she's going to send the lactation specialist round tomorrow to help me. I had a mega breakdown about it today. It took Alfie 2 hours to even latch on for a feed this morning and then only fed for 10 minutes, wanting more an hour later. I was in agony, both sides were engorged and painful and horrible, I was feeling guilty because my son was hungry and I couldn't feed him. I couldn't stop crying about it, I couldn't even bring myself to look at Alfie let alone hold him I felt so bad. I gave in and decided we needed tog o and get a bottle so I could express and feed him and at least them he would be fed and happy. We fed him every 4 hours during the night and the following day, giving me a chance to relax and my nipples a chance to recover. When the lady came on wednesday afternoon, it took 2 minutes to get the positioning right and he was feeding away :) It's not been perfect since then, but buying a nursing pillow has really helped. He seems to prefer one side to the other so I'll probably stick with feeding him that side, express the other side and then we've got back up for night feeds and so that OH can do feeds too and let me sleep.

I booked an appointment to register him on wednesday, we were running late and rushed to get there, which meant I overdid it a little bit and my 'wound' then hurt for ages afterwards. Turns out though we were actually a week early - the appointments not til next wednesday! Baby brain strikes - not for the first time I'm sure!!

Despite the feeding troubles, Alfies been wonderful this week. He sleeps well, and a lot, wakes up regularly for feeds and is generally very happy and content. He cries when he has his nappy changed, and he screamed his little heart out when we bathed him last night. He is sometimes a bit sick after feeds but I think that's because the fatty hind milk he gets part way through is a bit rich for him, but i'm sure he'll get used to it.

I can't get over the fact he's actually here. It seems like I'm going to wake up from a dream soon and still be pregnant.. or still be in labour!! He is absolutely amazing, I love him so much already. He's developing really well, he already sucks his fingers and can lift his head up and he stares right at mummy and daddy. This child is going to be a genius, I just know it!

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