This Mummy Can – What They Don’t Tell You About Your Post Pregnancy Body

By Holly

When you are pregnant you are filled with so much information about your changing body, the little person growing inside you and of course, the looming birth. Midwifes, doctors, NCT courses, bloggers, friends… you could literally spend the whole 9 months educating yourself about pregnancy and child rearing.

Last July I skipped to hospital (scheduled c-section due to my kidney transplant being in my tummy) to have Scout thinking I knew EVERYTHING there was about my daughter’s upcoming birth. I had packed a hospital bag with literally everything you could think of in it. I was totally ready to let my baby crawl up my tummy to my breast (did anyone’s child actually do this!?) and had my leaflet all ready containing my post c-section exercises.

The c-section went well (as ‘well’ as someone effing up your epidural, hitting a nerve and then proceeding to play Pokemon Go whilst you were being cut open can go…) and I was completely in love with tiny 5’lb11 baby Scout. What happened next I didn’t expect though…

Hopefully these tips will prepare you for the things no one ever tells you about having a baby. I mean, one could argue that ignorance is bliss but if you’re like me it’s good to have a heads up on things…

The First Period – my period didn’t kick in for about 3 months after I gave birth (after I stopped breastfeeding) and having been a trouble free period type of gal before I was not prepared for the Niagara falls type of flood that happened. Not only this my PMT is awful and for at least a week every month I am a complete dick much to Kate’s delight. After talking to other Mums I found that this was quite normal. Who knew?!

Complications – Think this is quite a rare one but as I’m sure we all know when pregnant our organs are all squashed up in to our rib cages to make room for the new boy or girl. Then when you have the baby they all come back down and move in to their proper spaces again…. only this didn’t happen. My diaphragm decided to not move back down at all so I was stuck with bloody awful shoulder pain and was out of breath as I only had 50% lung capacity. The Doctors were stumped and just gave me painkillers which barely helped. In the end I needed a few sessions of acupuncture which fixed the problem. I’m sure this risk is all in the small print somewhere we you sign consent to have the CS, I just didn’t expect it to happen.

The Big Cry. I was warned in my NCT class that during the days when the milk comes in (around day 3 – 5) that my hormones would go a bit cray and I might get a little emotional. A LITTLE??? I was in floods of tears for about 5 days about everything and nothing. I banned all visitors as I couldn’t bear to just cry in front of them and howled as I held my precious little baby. I saw the health visitor who assured me this was entirely normal and that it would just go away as fast as it came. And it did.

 

The Fear. Scout was born a couple of weeks after the Brexit vote and as soon as I brought her home I suddenly realised what an unsafe, dangerous horrible world I’d brought her into. I couldn’t imagine ever leaving her side and cried to Kate about what we would do when she became a teenager and on earth would I let her cross the road alone? Crazy Mama.

Skintag City – I’ve spoken to other Mums about this and apparently it’s a ‘thing’ but I’ve never heard about it from a health advisor or in print. During pregnancy I got loads of little skin tags – mainly on my chest. It was really weird and I had to stop myself from wanting to pull them off. After I had Scout they all disappeared almost at once…why?!

Weight estimates on scans can be bullshit –  If having a late pregnancy scan (ie. anything from 34+ weeks) the ultra sound technicians often can estimate how much the baby weighs at this point. Now some hospitals have actually banned this completely as some women have got so worked up that they are going to have their vagina ripped open by the world’s biggest baby that they’ve decided it’s best not to say. My hospital do however give you this info and thought that Scout would be pretty large – in the 90th percentile – I mean, I definitely had the bump size to match this. But obviously they were totally wrong – as they have been for many of my friends so take it with a pinch of salt if you get told a weight.

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The Big Bleed – no one warned me that when I stood up from c-section – once I could feel my legs obviously that so much blood would pore out of me that the whole floor would be covered, as was I and Kate. I mean, it totally makes sense but would have been nice to know and would have stopped us skating around in it…

I would love to hear about any of your experiences of post pregnancy stories that you think other Mama’s might benefit from knowing. Leave me a comment and I’ll add it to the ever growing list.

This Mummy Can get out to baby classes!

In the very early days when we brought home a tiny bundle of Scout we were determined to try and get out every day. Mainly because this would give us a purpose each day (apart from keeping said baby alive) so living in Stoke Newington in Hackney we found ourselves surrounded by so many activities and classes that it was pretty easy to be busy.

Kate went back to work after around 6 weeks (I know, I was incredibly lucky to have her around for so long) so in order to keep myself from going mad at home I organised a back to back timetable of activities…which seems pretty insane looking back but I had no idea what to do with a very small baby and desperate to meet other mums this seemed like the best thing to do.

Here’s a few of the things that have kept me sane over the past 9 months:

  • Frog Prince – an hour long class of all the classic nursery rhymes with the occasional Beatles or Disney hit thrown in. The class has a really chilled out vibe with a help-yourself tea caddy on the side and lots of instruments scattered around the place for the babies to play with. £5 – locations vary depending on day, but I hear the Wednesday session at Hackney City Farm is not to be missed in the summer as it’s outside.
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  • Sensory – I realised today as Scout towered above the other babies and made more noises and mess than any of them put together that at nearly 10 months old she is getting a bit old for sensory. Noooo!! Rose from the Hackney branch is lovely and the classes are always different meaning Scout (and more importantly, me!) never get bored. It’s also the most friendly baby class – it’s a great way to get to know new Mums. I *think* it’s around £7 a session but best to book a block as it’s cheaper. Think bubbles, lights, maraccas, parachutes…that kind of thing.
  • Gymboree – Scout is obsessed with Gymbo the clown to an unhealthy level. She will often sit in her buggy cackling away at how hilarious her gymbo doll is must to the amusement of strangers. She spends the whole class jumping up and down and giggling in pure excitement and joy. I’m not going to lie – I find the classes a bit tedious and repetitive but the kids absolutely love them and it’s often where I see Scout improve her crawling/cruising etc most of all as the soft mats everywhere means she takes more risks so we’ll be Gymbo fans for at least a few months longer. (Prices depend on the bundle that you choose but if you are an NCT member there is a hefty discount)

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  • Baby Massage – we were fortunate that we were offered this class free by our health visitor due to have a ‘traumatic birth.’ The birth was actually fairly untraumatic – it was the aftercare that was awful, but more on that another time! Anyway, Kate took Scout along to this one alone (nice bit of bonding time) and she really enjoyed it. I don’t think we’ve actually ever done any baby massage since mind, but it was still a  lovely and calm class and do ask your health visitor for a free referral as that’s definitely worth doing.
  • Morris Minors – this was one of the first classes we took Scout to as it is run by our lovely and talented friend Michelle. Expect a variety of the lesser known nursery rhymes which are incredibly easy to pick up (Michelle will teach you!) lots of actions, playing with instruments and a bit of movement too. In the warmer months it’s in the pub garden under a covered area which was just gorgeous. Thursdays at 11am and at a bargainous price of £3 – plus the pub does good pizza – what more can you want?!
  • Water Babies – Kate and I had made a pact pre-baby that we’d take our future child to regular swimming lessons from an early age. Mainly because we’d seen a friend’s 2 year old being able to get himself safely to the side of the pool if he ever fell in and got in to trouble. Plus even from inside the womb Scout was a water baby so we knew she’d love it. The only trouble is it’s bloody expensive so we ended up asking for a bunch of lessons as a Christmas present from one set of her Grandparents which worked brilliantly.

Would love to know what you found an essential part of your baby’s life in the early days, let me know!

This Mummy Will Sleep!

Scout has always been a pretty good sleeper. We were the envy of our NCT friends as they did yet another lap of Clissold Park to try and get their newborn to sleep whilst Scout would quite happily go down in her Moses basket.

Due to Kate’s painful joints we had a pact that we wouldn’t ever get in to the habit of rocking her to sleep. We never did and this (up until recently) had proved to work a treat. She never expected any sort of sleep aid and we were quietly smug.

Fast forward to a few months later, 9 to be exact, and Kate and I are zombies. Sleepless zombies. As soon as my eyes open in the morning I pep talk myself to get up with promises of an early night and day dream constantly about my soft pillow and cosy duvet. Scout has decided she doesn’t like sleeping and would rather cry like it’s the end of the world unless one of it is sitting next to her cot at every waking second. As I type Kate is spending yet another evening in Scout’s room hushing her.

We tried ‘crying it out’ and with the help of a friend coaching us through it by text and it was pretty successful and I spent a total of 3 weeks feeling smug that my baby was sleeping through from 7pm – 7am. Not to mention feeling like a brand new person with all that glorious sleep. But Scout seems to have forgotten all about that and instead wants to be up with the grown ups who are trying desperately to catch up with Grey’s Anatomy and eat chocolate.

Tonight we are going to be tough and try more sleep training. I just don’t think I can put up with much more wailing. It’s horrendous. Wish us luck!

 

 

This Mummy Can… Work

Before Scout was born, Holly and I had an idea that we’d be able to share childcare and work between us. We thought we’d both be keen to get back to work and how life was before Scout came along. We also (naively!) thought that we’d be able to take Scout along to meetings and things, cos she’d just sleep quietly in her buggy right? Ha, how wrong we were!

So what are we going to do about work?! We both want to be proper mums, we both want time to hang out with Scout, but money doesn’t grow on trees… sadly.

Introducing…This Mummy Can

Scout is now 24 weeks old and we are (sort of) finding our feet with this whole parenting malarky.

During our conceiving and pregnancy journey I used this blog as a private space for me to offload to. I never gave any family or friends the link and never shared it. It was just my little space to record what I was going through.

I think now is the time to share it – for any families that are in the same position as we are. Kate and I focused so much on having a healthy baby that we conveniently forgot about how we’d manage as Mums. Turns out Kate’s disability and my illness have both come with big barriers that we’ve had to (and still are) adjust to.

We’ve made a series of vlogs recording these moments and as new issues arise we’ll continue to blog/photograph/film. If no one reads or watches them at least we will have a place for Scout to look back on when she is older and see how special she is and how she has lit up our lives in so many wonderful ways.

All the leaves are brown and the sky is grey.

I haven’t blogged for a while… The disappointment of the failed IUI was heavy and deep and set in me like a bag of stones tied to me feet. I dragged it around with me bumping in to people as I went and rubbing off my anger on them. We went away for a few days to escape and for the first three days I did very little apart from sleep and watch TV. K did her best to pull me out of it but I was stuck hard and really felt that I had lost something…even though there wasn’t anything to lose in the first place.

A couple of weeks later and I feel better now. IUI #3 is due in a few days and I have felt really withdrawn from the whole process this time round. I’m clearly protecting myself from the hurt that might follow and I’m ok to admit that. I just feel as if I am just going through the motions… scan, injection, another scan, another injection… I’m not sure how I will feel during the two week wait. I’ll try and switch off from it I guess but that won’t be easy… and it’s probably not the most healthy thing to to do either.

The whole process just feels so lonely. It’s not something that anyone really talks about and I haven’t got any close friends that are even gay, let alone trying to have a baby with their same sex partner. Maybe we’ll be lucky third time round but I’m really not counting my chickens. All looks okay womb wise…but it did last time too so….

Anyway, we have a plan now. If this round doesn’t work we’ll take December off and discuss IVF with our consultant in the hope of doing that in January. We will get our baby!

High Fertility

I’m not going to talk too much about choosing the sperm as K wants to get in to all that, but it’s all a bit of an odd experience.

For the past week I have had ‘high fertility’ according to our little ClearBlue fertility monitor and that’s meant going in to the CRGH every day for internal scans and watching my follicle like a hawk. Every day we have not known whether today ‘will be the day’ that I get inseminated so everything has had to take a back seat…theatre trips, birthday parties, friends coming over…work. It’s been a really odd week as I am determined to stay at chilled as possible so have tried to get rid of all stressful aspects of my life. However since I’m totally anxious and nervous about the IUI itself the week hasn’t really played out that way.

This morning we went in for yet another scan thinking that the IUI would happen today or tomorrow but my little follicle needs to grow just a tiny bit more for the doctors to be happy. So I had a blood test to measure my hormones and am currently at home waiting for a phone call from the nurse to tell me whether to inject myself tonight in prep for IUI tomorrow or just to come back for a scan in the morning.

Everyone that knows knows I am terrible at not knowing what I am doing.  I’m a planner and I plan pretty much every hour of my day. I don’t like to waste time… I like multi tasking and getting tons done in one day but this week I’ve just felt shattered so I’ve been allowing myself some luxury day time naps and have been trying to do relaxing activities like cooking or reading which has actually been quite nice. So this afternoon has consisted of a rest and me urging my follicle to grow and doing lots of  visualisation techniques which apparently are supposed to improve chances of conceiving. Hmm…we’ll see.

Home Alone

After being sent home with a HUGE bag of antibiotics I spent the next six weeks pretty much laid on my sofa recovering. I spent so much time in my little warm cocoon at home that when I was actually well enough to go out for short amounts of time I really didn’t want to. I had to take these horrible drugs to wipe out the bacteria from my system for 2 months and they made me feel awful…totally wiped out and sick. It really took it out of me and in the midst of the illness I lost my job at the BBC as they had to replace me…nice! Poor K was running back and forth between home and a big edit and it was all quite stressful.

I then had an appointment with my consultant who told me not to do any baby treatments for six months until my body recovers. We were gutted.

Take me back to the start…

Our baby-making journey actually start 9 months ago back in November 2014 when we skipped along to a consultation at The Women’s Clinic in London thinking that once we were through those doors our dream baby would practically be handed on a plate to us (complete with beautiful smile, cute little fingers and toes and big blue eyes.)

As we sat nervously awaiting our nurse to come and collect us to take us in to a consultation room we sipped posh coffee and flicked through magazines such as Embroyoz, Fertility and Ova gazing happily at the glossy photos of gorgeous blond hair and blue eyed babies that smiled down at us from the walls.

Little did we know that we were about to be thrown in to a world full of acronyms (IUI, IVF, ICI anyone?), weeing on sticks and what feels like constant disappointment at the moment. We knew it wouldn’t be easy but I don’t think we were prepared to be sitting here babyless 9 months later…

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