There are several reasons:

  • I get bored looking at the same theme after a while
  • (I find my own blog boring. This is obviously not a good sign)
  • I can’t think of anything interesting to write, but I think I should do something with the blog, so I change the theme instead of writing a post
  • It makes me like my blog a bit more for a while
  • (I keep thinking about stopping blogging but then I can’t quite bring myself to do this)
  • I like re/designing things
  • Sometimes I feel the current theme doesn’t reflect my currrent mood, so I change it to reflect how I’m feeling at the time, or sometimes how I want to feel

I’ve found the time to do some stuff in the garden over the last few weeks, mainly thanks to Mr C and my mum who’ve either looked after Babymouse or helped me do the garden or both. Also, our friend K, who is a professional gardener, came over and got all the stubborn weeds out for me, which has made a big difference to the back garden.

Things we’re growing:

  • lettuces (various varieties)
  • peppers
  • sweetcorn
  • strawberries
  • raspberries
  • potatoes
  • tomatoes

I’ve also planted some more lavenders as we took out all the Love-in-a-Mist and the front garden was looking a bit bare. A couple of the lavenders I put in a few years ago seem to have died, so I hope these fare better. I also have some fuschias (sent by my mum as plug plants through the post – very clever) to plant out but I think I might leave those until next weekend, when I will also try and take some pictures of the garden to post here. I’m feeling too hot and lazy to do that today.

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I have bought a few frivolous things on my wanderings around town with BabyMouse. For example:

Exhibit A: One cushion:

Cushion

I have no justification for this other than that I like the colours…and it was in the sale! I have a bit of a thing about cushions. We have too many in the house, but never mind. As you may be able to tell, this particular cushion inspired the current colour scheme of this blog!

Exhibit B: One line-a-day diary:

2014-07-05 16.01.32

There is more justification for this in that I use it to keep a record of BabyMouse’s progress, among other things. I’ve been wanting to get back into diary-keeping for a while, and having only one line a day to write makes it a lot more doable with a small baby. Also, I bought it with a voucher, so that makes it all ok…

  • We went to visit my parents again, and met up with some ex-library trainees at the same time.
  • I think BabyMouse has started teething – she is crotchety, dribbling a lot and constantly chewing her fingers and anything else she can hold and/or get into her mouth.
  • I went to Library Camp South East. It was an interesting day, and lovely to see library friends/colleagues again.
  • I tried to knit again, again without much success. I’m trying to do a garter tab cast on, which I’ve never done before, which isn’t helping. I’ve looked at YouTube videos, which are very helpful, but I must still be doing something wrong.
  • I finished Life After Life and started and finished A Delicate Truth.
  • I’ve been a bit miserable again this month – feeling a bit sad and lonely and not always coping very well with BabyMouse. It was good to go back to my home town for the weekend (see first item) but it was a bit bittersweet as being there just makes me want to be there all the time. I like where we live, and we do have lovely neighbours and friends here, but most of them are a lot older than us, and/or busy, and work-related friends live quite far away. Mainly, I think I miss my mum, and I’ve been spending too much time on my own with BabyMouse who, lovely though she may be, hasn’t really mastered conversation yet. Anyway…
  • …I’ve been trying to go to more mother and baby groups. I think we made it to the library’s Baby Bounce and Rhyme sessions every week and we managed to get to the Salvation Army group twice last week, all of which helped. I think I need to get to know some other mums a bit better so I feel a bit less isolated. It’s just easier said than done when (a) I’m rubbish at talking to people I don’t know and (b) all the mums seem to know one another and have their cliques which are quite hard to break into. But I will persevere.
  • I bought a new dress for Mr C’s cousin’s wedding (August).
  • Sorry this month’s upate has been a bit moany!
  • BabyMouse learned to smile. She smiles a lot. :)
  • We went on our first train journey with baby in tow, to visit some friends in Faversham. We had a lovely time.
  • We went on a longer train journey to see my parents for the late May Bank Holiday weekend. Travel went well, although I don’t think I could get the pushchair on and off trains on my own, and we had a nice weekend of visitations from lots of relatives. BM coped very well with all the attention.
  • I went to a ‘Singing for Breathing’ taster session at the Brompton Hospital, run in conjunction with The Somerville Foundation. It was really enjoyable, and took me a bit out of my comfort zone, which was a good thing.
  • I actually managed to read some fiction. I’m reading The Stranger’s Child, by Alan Hollingsworth, at the moment. It’s OK.
  • I tried to knit again, without much success. I fear I have (hopefully only temporarily) lost my knitting mojo.

Sorry again for the lack of posts here. I think posts are going to be few and far between from now on, as BabyMouse (BM) is, unsurprisingly, taking up most of my time. I’m writing this now as Mr C is looking after a sleeping BM – she has slept most of today, which is good in a way, because we can (in theory) get on with things, but, on the other hand, I’m quite worried that she’ll be awake all night! She met her great-grandparents for the first time today. We had a nice but tiring day, including lots of chat and a Chinese meal for lunch. She’s growing well – eating a lot – and has learned to do exciting things like holding her head up, pushing with her legs and smiling! She has also learned to do a sad face when she’s upset, which is very, very effective in terms of getting the nearest adult to rush to her aid!

I’m doing a bit better now. Mentally, I’m usually OK unless BM isn’t OK, and then I get into a bit of an anxiety spiral. On Tuesday, the GP said I looked better than when she last saw her and that I’d given her a proper smile for the first time! Also on Tuesday, I had another glucose tolerance test, to see whether or not the pregnancy-induced diabetes has gone. I should get the results in about a week. On Monday, I went to the cardiac outpatients, to the pregnancy clinic actually, which was a bit odd, as I’m not pregnant! I saw the friendly doctor I’d seen back in March when I went for my postnatal check-up. I had another ultrasound (echo) on my heart a couple of weeks ago, which he said showed some improvement from the one I’d had in March (which had showed that the left side of  my heart had got weaker during pregnancy). So no medication for me yet. They’re going to wait six months (ish) after the birth to see whether my heart recovers completely (well, at least back to the state it was in before pregnancy). This means a lovely exercise test for me and another echo. Apparently after six months they will know whether or not the heart will recover properly. If it’s still weaker than it was before pregnancy they will give me some kind of medication. So we shall see. People often ask me if I’m on any medication for my heart (if they don’t assume I am, which lots of people do) and I’m  quite pleased to be able to say ‘no’, but if it’s necessary I don’t have any problems with taking it – I know I’ve been fortunate not to have had to take any for so long.

Anyway, I must go and water the plants and sort out BM’s things before bed-time. Yes, we go to bed early in this house now!

 

Sorry for the lack of blog posts recently – BabyMouse has been keeping us very busy, and when I’m not feeding, changing, winding or washing BM, or expressing milk or trying to sleep my brain hasn’t really been working very well. We are sleeping, but our sleep is in two or three hour chunks (if we’re lucky and BM spaces her feeds out), rather than a full six-eight hours at a stretch, so it doesn’t really feel like we’re having as much sleep as we used to – probably because we’re not!

BabyMouse is progressing well – she is eating quite well and putting on weight, and the health visitor was pleased with her progress when she last visited. We did have a bit of a worrying week where she was seeming to eat all the time but didn’t put on weight – I think this was because she wasn’t latching on well when breastfeeding, so she seemed to be eating when actually she wasn’t taking much in. Partly due to BM not latching on, I got mastitis, which was horrible. I felt really ill, like having a bad bout of flu, and I was actually sick, which apparently can happen with mastitis, although it’s not common. As breastfeeding was already very stressful for both BM and me, because of her not being able to latch on properly, I decided that the mastitis was the final straw and stopped feeding her at the breast. I’m still expressing breast milk, though (partly in an effort to try and get rid of the mastitis), so BM is still getting all the nice nutrients, etc., but without the stress for her and pain for me. She is also having formula milk, as I’m not able to express enough to feed her purely with expressed milk. I know lots of people don’t think that ‘mixed feeding’ is a good idea, but it works for us, and is better than the alternative of a stressed mum and baby, and, more importantly, BM is getting enough to eat.

As a further ‘excitement’, I’ve also had the delights of postnatal depression (PND) to contend with. I took everyone’s advice and went to the GP, who gave me some medication, which seems to be helping, thank goodness. And thank goodness for a sympathetic GP, and for grandmothers – my mother in law and my mum have both been to stay to look after me and BabyMouse since Mr C has gone back to work. I don’t know what we would have done without them!  This week coming will be the first full week I’ve been on my own all day every day with BabyMouse (apart from the health visitor’s appointment), so we’ll see how we get on! Mum has said she’ll come back if necessary, but I’m hoping that I’m well enough to cope on my own now.

Needless to say, becoming a parent takes a lot of getting used to – it was much more of a shock to the system than I expected it to be – apparently this is quite normal! We’re learning more every day; about BM and about ourselves. I was going to make a list of all the things we’ve learned over the past six weeks, but I couldn’t even count them, there were so many (and did I mention my brain isn’t working?). It has been a tough few weeks in many ways, but it’s also been amazing and fascinating and good. And BabyMouse is lovely.

BabyMouse's hand

A little hand in a too-big babygro!

As mentioned before, BabyMouse was scheduled to be born by caesarean section on 17th March, due to the fact that she was breech and because of her needing to be born a bit early because of the potential dangers of me having obstetric cholestasis. [That was a long sentence, sorry. This is a long post, and is a bit of a 'mind splurge' so may not be entirely coherent.] However, things did not go entirely to plan…

On 25th February, we went to our usual Tuesday appointment at the hospital in London, saw the midwives and the obstetricians, showed my parents around the hospital so they knew where to go when the time came for the birth, and went home, all without incident. When we got home, we had dinner and watched Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing (an excellent film) on DVD. At about 9.30 pm, I decided to go to bed early because I was (as usual) feeling rather tired. I got into bed. At about 10.00 pm, I turned over in bed and [apologies for too much information] thought I’d wet myself, although it didn’t really feel like that. I went to the toilet and realised that this was not the case – it was actually that my waters were breaking! I sat on the toilet for a while – every time I went to get up more ‘water’ came out and I didn’t want to make the floors wet – and called for Mr C to let him know what was happening. He rang the hospital who, in true traditional fashion,told us to stay at home, wait another hour and take a paracetamol! To be fair to the midwife who answered the phone, Mr C didn’t tell her my medical history, and I wasn’t in pain at that time, so she had no reason to tell us to come in, although at the time I was rather cross and decided this wasn’t on and rang the hospital again. I spoke to someone else and told them about all the complications, and that we were going to come in straightaway, to which she agreed.

We called a taxi, which, thankfully. arrived within about five minutes. Mr C packed up all the things we might need – he already had a bag ready and just had to add a few last minute things. I took a towel with me because I didn’t want to make the taxi seat wet! I explained to the taxi driver that I thought I was in labour, and he was totally nonplussed!

When we got to the maternity triage they monitored the baby to make sure she was OK. This took about 20 minutes, by which time the pain had got much worse and it was confirmed that I was definitely in labour. By the time the obstetrician examined me I was already 7-8 centimetres dilated. We rang the London hospital to let them know what was happening and they talked about possibly arranging a transfer to them from the local hospital, but in the event there was no time for that! We were going to have to deliver the baby at the local hospital – at this point it was still the plan to do a caesarean and I was taken to the delivery suite to be prepared for this. Needless to say, I was in a bit of a state by this point; mainly because of the pain of the contractions, but also because I was worried that the people in the local hospital wouldn’t be able to deal with all my complications – the plans we’d set in place had gone out of the window and we were entering (even more) unknown territory…

The anaesthetist came to talk to me about pain relief, and asked me lots of questions which I found difficult to answer because I couldn’t think or talk very well due to the increasing pain and frequency of contractions. The anaesthetist was lovely, and waited for me to answer her questions in the bits of time where I wasn’t in pain, and was very clear in what she said, as well as taking the time to listen to my concerns about things, Luckily we had the delivery plan from the London hospital in my notes, and I let someone know about this so they could see what drugs I was allowed (or not), and the different methods of monitoring that were required. (I have to be monitored more closely because of my heart condition).

We went to one of the maternity theatres, and I could see all the surgical instruments being laid out for (I still assumed) the caesarean. There were about eight medical people in the theatre, as well as Mr C, who was now decked out in green scrubs and a surgical mask. He tried to help me breathe through the contractions. I had got to the point where I didn’t think I could carry on because the pain was so bad, and was gulping in lots of gas and air. I’m not sure that this helped with the pain, but it was a distraction, and helped my regulate my breathing,

Because it was in the original plan drawn up with the people in London, the anaesthetists tried to put in an arterial line – this gives more accurate blood pressure readings and can also be used to measure oxygen levels in the blood. Having an arterial line inserted hurts – fortunately I was given local anaesthetic (which also hurt, but I assume not as much as if I’d been able to feel the line going in) every time they tried to put it in, because they tried to insert the line lots of times before finally giving up due to my arteries refusing to cooperate and at the request of Mr C who told them there was no point trying to continue.

Another factor in stopping the attempts at insert the arterial line was the fact that BabyMouse was now well and truly on her way out! A c-section was no longer an option, so we were going for a natural delivery for a breech baby, something that is rarely attempted nowadays. I was given a spinal block to numb everything that needed to be numbed – it was such a relief not to be able to feel anything! It was now about 2.00 am and I was put into position on my back, leaning on a wedge-shaped cushion with my legs in stirrups. Not very dignified. It was now about 2.00 am and time to bear down and help BabyMouse out! It was very odd trying to bear down when I couldn’t feel anything, and it was hard to take deep enough breaths and let them out slowly enough when I was pushing.

The doctor actually delivering BabyMouse was lovely (in fact all the staff were lovely) and calm and he talked me though each push, and everyone else in the room helped me to know how long to push for. One of the midwives had her hand on my tummy, feeling for each contraction and telling me when to be ready and breathe. At about 2.25 am, BabyMouse was born! She weighed about 5lb. I had a quick glimpse of her just after she arrived and then she went over to the nurses, as she needed a bit of help with her breathing. Mr C went over with her. A few seconds later we heard her cry, which was a big relief. Someone showed her to me again for a second or two, and then she went to the special care baby unit. I delivered the placenta and the obstetrician dealt with my bleeding – unfortunately this was quite heavy as my heart condition meant that couldn’t have the usual amount of the drug used to contract the womb.

Once the bleeding was under control, I was taken to a recovery room. As is my wont after anaesthetics and/or traumatic medical procedures I spent the next hour or so shaking quite violently. (I’m not actually sure what causes the shaking – maybe just adrenalin.) My oxygen was quite low so they gave me some more, and I also had some tea and toast. Mr C went to see BabyMouse in the special care unit. The nurses took a photo of her which he brought to show me. It was lovely to see her, if only in a picture.

After a while I was taken to  the high dependency unit overnight so I could be monitored closely. The next day I was moved to the maternity ward. BabyMouse stayed in an incubator in the special care unit for three days, as she had trouble maintaining her temperature. She was fed through a tube for the first week or so of her life, because she was so early she didn’t have enough energy to take milk herself. Once she was able to maintain her temperature at the right level she was moved to the special care nursery and taken out of the incubator and put into a cot, although she sometimes had to have an overhead heater on her when she got too cold. The nursery was nice – it had murals of trees and animals all over the walls. A few days after this she moved with me to the transitional care unit, where mums and babies stay together until they’re both well enough to go home. Dads can stay as well, but they have to sleep on chairs (or on the floor if there are no spare chairs). If you’re lucky enough to get a reclining chair they’re quite comfortable, otherwise not so much. Mr C spent a few days on various floors as we moved round the hospital, but also got his fair share of reclining chairs, for which he was most grateful.

BabyMouse and I stayed in hospital for two weeks, until the staff at the hospital were satisfied that she was able to feed properly and didn’t have to have her tube in anymore, and we eventually went home on 12th March.

Before I finish this post, I would like to say that the care we received in Medway Maritime Hospital was exemplary. We could not fault it. The staff were unfailingly competent, kind and thoughtful. Most importantly, the medical staff listened to me when I had concerns, and went out of their way to find answers, reassure me, and help BabyMouse and I as much as possible. I think my experiences at Medway over the last couple of weeks were probably the best experiences of hospital I’ve ever had, and I’ve had my fair share of hospital experiences! I can’t thank the staff enough for everything they did for us. All the people we spoke to said that they also experienced a high standard of care during their stay at Medway. It’s a shame people’s good experiences don’t get reported in the press, but then I suppose that wouldn’t sell papers.

I have lots more to write about our time in hospital, but this post was just to record the story of BabyMouse’s birth before I totally forgot it! Needless to say, I’m suffering a little from lack of sleep!

Just a quick update. BM decided to arrive under her own steam, 5 weeks early, at 2.25am on 26th February. She arrived so quickly there was no time to get to London or do a cesarean!

She is doing ok, all things considered. We’re still in hospital because she hasn’t mastered feeding yet (not surprising given that she should still be in the womb). Not sure how long we’ll be in, but at least we are together on the ward and she is in the best place with lots of people to help her (and me).

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