Wednesday, November 15, 2017

birth and beyond: the fourth trimester.

Frequently referred to as the fourth trimester, here was my experiences of birth and the first few months with bub.

Newborn by Lovely Babies Photography 

So here is my long awaited, very belated post on the birth and the first few months with bub - definitely overdue seeing as bub is now 6 months old!
Also a proper introduction to the newest and youngest member of La Petite Mademoiselle: miss Hayley Rose.

Morning of induction @ 40 weeks | 1 week post partum

- The Birth -

Let's pick up where we left off and my promise to fill you in on the details of my labour.
We'll start with the fact I had intended on going for a natural birth and my birth plan was to go with the flow, because let's be honest birth isn't something you can really plan as much as the Virgo in me wanted to and have the details ironed out. 
Though I didn't have a solid plan I knew that I wanted to go for as long as I could with no pain relief and if I needed to first would be the gas and ultimately an epidural if it was required. In regards to C-sections, if the doctor recommended it there would be no hesitation we would go for it.

One of the most frustrating things in the lead up to the birth for me was not knowing when I was going to go into labour and most importantly not knowing what the first signs of labour felt like -- man did my Google searches for that go up in the weeks leading up to it! 
Every ache, every pain I wondered was this just normal pregnancy pains or was this it?
I wished with all my heart that labour would start more like Hollywood with a definitive water breaking.
Funny how life works though, it's as if the universe heard my request and knew what my birth plan was because I got exactly what I asked for.

Now let's just clarify my waters breaking wasn't nearly as dramatic as Hollywood would have it - there was no announcement over the PA for "clean up on aisle 5". It was more along the lines of going to bed and feeling a gush, similar to the feeling of a heavy period flow. 
*Now be warned, detailed information coming*
Went to the bathroom to check and saw that the mucous plug had fallen out. Now, they say that the plug can come out weeks before the baby comes so I noted it and headed back to bed a little excited, but not overly. What followed was a calm denial that surely my waters hadn't just broken but seeing as it was 10:30pm and Chris had to be up for work at 4am we gave the hospital to call and were told to come in.

You would think at this point it would be a mad rush to the hospital but we took our time, packed the final pieces of my hospital bag. Both got dressed and meandered in pulling up at the hospital an hour after our call.
We were told that indeed my waters had broken and that labour would be on the horizon but not quite as quickly as Hollywood has it. We were then booked in for induction of labour for the Thursday morning (waters broke Tuesday evening) in case it didn't happen naturally (as the waters had broken we were now more susceptible to infection so 48hrs is the longest they leave you for).

That's when it hit me, within the next 48hrs we would be meeting our long awaited newest member - it was surreal.
The miss, however, decided that after bursting the protective waters she wasn't so interested in joining us in the real world so natural labour never started so we waddled in on Thursday morning to be induced.
For those wondering, yes labour pains feel like really bad period pains but note to those who get induced the pain is substantially worse as the body doesn't produce Adrenalin which is your body's natural pain relief. So you guessed it, I very quickly got an upgrade from my gas to epidural (didn't help that miss became posterior - hello worst back pain in the world!).
4hrs after I was deemed in active labour I was only 3.5cm dilated, far from the needed 10cm - with induction they hope that at this point you would be fully dilated and ready to go. It was then suggested that we opt for an emergency c-section as the bub's heart rate had begun climbing.
The next part all happened very quickly and an hour after we decided to go ahead with the c-section we heard the first of many cries from our little mini me.

The Birth Poster

- What I've Learnt: Tips & Tricks -

The next part will now be in dot points (because let's be honest this post is getting kind of long..)

- Midwives are a godsend! After the birth and first skin-to-skin bubble bursts the very real thought that you are now responsible for this tiny little life sets in and nothing prepares you for it. Luckily midwives are there to guide you along the way because honestly learning to change nappies and wrap a dolly is never the same as the real deal. Note: Pack gifts for your midwives! 

- I was fortunate and breastfeeding was relatively easy. It's amazing that these little beings who are new to this world have a built in system to navigate and find the boob, though having said that miss is 6 months old and still sometimes goes for suckle on my bicep so... Note: Waiting for your milk to come in around day 3 is hard work and stressful but don't stress and ask for help - we gave the miss two formula bottles that evening.

 - Join a mother's group. My local area had one set up for us and 5months on we still meet up weekly. If your local area doesn't have one check out the Mama Tribe group and try connect with other mama's in your area - it is less isolating and daunting especially for a first time mum because you soon realise other kids go through the same thing - and some times it puts into perspective that your kid isn't that bad!

- In my experience, my body bounced back pretty quickly post birth (thanks breastfeeding!) By about 8weeks post birth I was slipping back into my old clothes. Little miss also loves being walked and bounced around so she acts as my own PT when it comes to working out - and she's possibility one of the toughest trainers to please. 

- Download the app The Wonder Weeks it gives you a heads up when your baby is due for a grizzly period, and is usually pretty bang on. You'll also be surprised at how quickly they learn and develop. I remember after the week 4 leap you could see so obviously that she was no longer just looking at things but actually seeing them. I will note though it's still bizarre to me that things like sleep need to be taught (6 months on and suddenly we're not having much luck in that department despite having a smooth run from 6 weeks).

- Take up help wherever you can. I've always been one who prefers to do things myself but after having a baby, and especially via c-section I knew I had to ask for help. If a friend is coming over to visit don't be afraid to ask them to bring some food (but honestly friends, this should be a given - or coffee, all the coffee!) or ask them to help out with something that needs to be done.

- Lower your expectation of what you can achieve in a day. I had a giant to do list of projects I wanted to work on while I was on maternity leave and now I'm nearing the end of my leave and I've only just begun the ground works of one. And considering it's been almost 5 months since my last blog post and my intentions was for this post to go live after the "fourth trimester" this point is particularly poignant.

- Load up on as much "me" time and date nights as possible because those basically get thrown out the window once bub arrives (for the first little while anyway). Having said that though, once bub arrives don't feel guilty about taking some time for yourself. It took me 4 full months before I had my first date to the movies with Chris and although it was only 3hrs it was needed. I kept feeling guilty for taking time for myself because I chose to have this baby so I can't possibly pawn off that responsibility to someone else but I quickly learnt that that thought was detrimental to my relationship and to my own sanity.

- Babies are durable and generally first time parent proof: let me elaborate. Yes, they're delicate and need careful handling but don't feel bad if you accidentally bump them or drop your phone on them - both of which I did within a week of having her. 

- There is some conflicting recommendations on when to start solids for bubs. We started at 4.5months because she was forever gawking at our food and drinks when we ate (definitely my kid) and when I decided to offer baby food to her she gobbled it up.
Note: I would recommend getting plastic bibs or better yet smock bibs to save on a bit of clean up effort.

- We started sleep training around 3.5 months because the miss would only ever fall asleep while being walked or on the boob - both of which aren't great. We started at 3.5 months because I wanted to get her into a routine of sleep while I could still physically hold her for as long as was required to settle her. She aced the sleep routine within a week of starting (the first few nights it took an hour or so to get her to sleep, but so worth it as it quickly became 10mins) however for one reason or another she stopped after two weeks. We have just started another attempt of getting her into a routine and my fingers are crossed it won't take long - I already have carpel tunnel in my left wrist thanks to holding her in a weird angle for hours on end.
I will admit it's not easy but once it's done it makes everything so much easier, even day time naps.

- Last but not least, enjoy every late night/early morning wake up/feed because as cliche as it is they grow up so quickly - take advantage of cuddles and kisses when they can't say no or run away from you.

Minbie Bottle & Busy Bee Baby 'Beauty & The Beast' bib

- Gift & Baby Item Tips -

Don't buy a tonne of newborn clothes they grow out of them in weeks, also people LOVE to buy newborn clothes as gifts. Having said that though, buy enough because you'll likely have at least one to two outfit changes a day. On that note, baby onesies with the cross-over shoulders are made that way so you can take soiled onesies off without going over the head.

- If you're buying clothes as a gift and want to buy other sizes take note of the season it will be when the bub reaches that size. I have a few winter kits that will fit her in the middle of summer...
Also opt for zippers when it comes to onesies, they are a million times easier to do in the middle of the night half asleep.

- I highly recommend booking in for a newborn photoshoot. I was deadset against it when my mum first broached the subject however once bub arrived I knew it would be the perfect keepsake. We had ours taken by Lovely Babies Photography based in Castle Hill, Sydney.

- Larger muslin wraps exist. I didn't know that and stopped wrapping bub at 6weeks when she grew out of the newborn wraps. Though she had no issues sleeping without the wraps (we used LoveToDream sleeping bags and the BubbaCosy in its place) when she got to about 3 months she was unsettled and hard to put to sleep so wrapping helped.

- Hit up Kmart, Target or Big W before heading to specialty baby stores as you'll likely find similar or the same product for cheaper. I spent a fortune on silly things like baby manchester that could've easily been half the cost had I remembered to look at these places first.

- Also on the note that not all baby things need to be expensive my IKEA highchair (the same as the ones you see at most cafes and restaurants) is fantastic because it's all plastic so I can hose it down after each meal.
I also bought a ridiculously expensive change table (I won't lie, it's pretty damn nice) but quickly realised a cheapo $99 one from Target is just as good and a third of the price.

- However on the flip side of the last two points my Silver Cross Wayfarer travel system pram which was close to $2000 and my Cocoon Flair convertible cot which was around $900 were worth every penny. If you can splash out for a travel system pram it is a godsend for the first few months. The miss loves falling asleep in the car and I don't know what I would've done (probably would've gone insane) if I woke her every time we moved her from the car seat to the pram. The travel system allows you to pull the car seat capsule and put it directly on wheels.
And with the cot I won't have to buy a toddler bed or a big person's bed (just a mattress) because it converts and changes as she grows. It also means I hopefully won't have to train her to move from a cot to a big kid bed because it's the same bed!

May Gibbs' Commemorative Birth CertificateJemima 'Peter Rabbit' rattle & Skip Hop Baby Book

So that is a wrap on my birth experience and first 6 months as a first time mum.
I leave you with this question that I have long wondered.
What do baby's dream about, especially newborns? Especially curious when they cry and whimper in their sleep.

- margaret
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