Thoughts on starting daycare and the end of maternity leave

daycare

I am sitting here writing this in the daycare foyer. We are on day four of orientation. Each day has ended in me collecting Archer in tears. It absolutely breaks my heart. On the third day of picking him up in this state I fought to hold back my own tears. The only thing that stopped me was knowing I had to show Archer that there was absolutely no need to be scared or sad, that this is a safe, fun place. It worked until we got to the car and once he was buckled in a few small tears ran down my cheek.

I am so grateful for the year that I had at home with Archer.  I can remember the first six weeks thinking to myself my god what have I done? I had such a good life and now I haven’t got out of my pyjamas in three days, the house looks like a small bomb has exploded and despite being in my pyjamas I have barely slept. I had a baby who refused to sleep anywhere but on me during the day and boobs that weren’t doing what they were meant too. Despite an abundance of love for this little boy my life felt like it had been turned upside down.

Luckily though I found that every week things got a little easier. I spoke to a sleep consultant who suggested Archer may be cold in the bassinet we added an extra blanket and like magic he would sleep in the bassinet. My mum was amazing and took time off work to help me, I moved to fully formula feeding, giving up the hour and a half cycle of breast feeding, formula top ups and then pumping and sleep started to return to our home. I also joined a wonderful mother’s group that filled my week with activities.

After this initial period I really began to enjoy this motherhood gig and being at home. As someone who never ever thought they could be a SAHM the idea suddenly became more and more appealing. I loved pottering around the house at nap times, playing with Archer in between and meeting up with other mums for the occasional (ok honestly LOTS) of coffee. Look I don’t want to make it seem like it was all sunshine, unicorns and rainbows there were hard times (teething especially and a few very frustrated weeks of learning to crawl) and some very long days where bedtime seemed a million light years away but all in all I really loved it. But the mortgage needs to be paid and the travel plans I have for this little family funded so next week it is back to work I go.

Eleven months old is such a fun stage, he can play and loves to read books, we can go places and he can play and enjoy it. His little personality is shining through. And now I feel like it is coming to an end, our 11 month adventure is drawing to a close. Ok, I know this is completely irrational, I am only going back three days a week but I think spending nearly every waking moment with someone for nearly a year makes the idea of not being there daunting. How can anyone else know all of his little mannerisms and what each different cry/noise means? In saying that all his carers are lovely and I know he is getting many reassuring cuddles when he needs them.

I know in my heart of hearts he will love daycare when he settles in, he is so busy and loves other kids but these first few weeks of adjustment are daunting. I also know I will love being back at work and challenging myself and being around adults and drinking a coffee without little hands reaching for it and look the occasional lunch date wont hurt. So all in all I know just like those first few weeks of newborn life this new phase will get easier and easier until it is second nature.

P.s I have just been updated that he had morning tea, his bottle and is now fast asleep. The weight is already starting to lift.

Four excellent Canberra organisations for new parents

I have never been good at being at home all day, I am probably on the more extreme end of extrovert when it comes to personality types and I know I derive energy from being around people. This meant getting out and about with Archer was a priority for me. The hard thing especially at the start though was finding places I felt comfortable going with a baby I was still getting to know, where I wouldn’t freak out if he cried and I could leave if I needed to without feeling rude. Anyway all the groups below ticked those boxes for me and I hope other new parents in Canberra might find them helpful.

Playgroups ACT

This one might seem obvious but I nearly didn’t join but I am so glad I did. There are two playgroups within 500m of my house. I would pay for casual visits amd just go when we had nothing on. The facilitators put in so much effort and organise activities that frankly I wouldn’t be bothered to do. Last week we went to a nature based one and Archer played in mud and dirt for ages and had a ball.

Find all about Playgroups ACT here.

New Parents Group

I know some people think Mother’s Groups (and yes I know they are meant to be referred to as parents group but my whole group was mums so I tend to refer to it as that) are naff but honestly I cant imagine the last year without mine. It tends to be luck of the draw who you get in your group but I honestly think that you will find at least a couple of people you connect with on some level. I was lucky and now have two friends from my group who I honestly believe will be friends for life.  Anyway the great thing about mothers group is you can do activities that the babies will like but you also get social interaction with other adults, oh and lots of coffee dates and no one cares if your baby cries or your late etc because you are all in the same boat. Anyway all I am saying is please sign up and try it, if its not for you nothing lost.

You can find out more about the ACT New Parents Groups here.

 

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Mums Exercise Group Australia 

I got into this one late and am kicking myself that I didn’t try it earlier. Basically mums run different exercise events (walks, bootcamps, aqua aerobics) for other mums. Most events are free (a yearly membership is $40) and if not they are really affordable, generally $5-$10. A lot of the events are kid friendly so you can take your bub.

Find out more here.

Libraries ACT

Libraries ACT has soooo many free events for kids. We have been to Giggle and Wiggle I would say nearly every week. But more then that I got back into borrowing books.

You can find all the Library ACT events here.

 

 

A birth story.

A birth story.

I did not enjoy being pregnant. Instead of relishing in prenatal yoga, green smoothies and calm birthing classes I spent nine months moving between the lounge and bed with a constant feeling of sea sickness, a disgusting penchant for oven baked hot chips and snoring that sent Brendan to the spare room more often then I care to admit. While I may not have enjoyed being pregnant I was grateful for being pregnant and for a relatively event free pregnancy.

At 38 weeks I began to show signs of preeclampsia. To this day I am not sure whether I actually had preeclampsia, its all really a blur but something I probably need to investigate. This meant that I was travelling to the hospital nearly every day for blood tests, blood pressure checks and to make sure there were no signs of foetal distress. As my blood pressure continued to climb a decision was made to induce me on 13 February 2018. After nine months of waiting for our baby boy we had a date to meet him.

I mentally prepared myself and went in for my final checkup on 12 February . For a number of reasons a decision was made to not induce me until 19 February. Yup. I can honestly say there is nothing like preparing yourself for labour and to meet your baby to be told to go home and wait another week. It was a kick to the guts to say the least. On reflection I believe it was the right decision as my body was not showing any signs of being ready for labour but that is much easier to say four months later. After many tears of frustration I decided to make the most of it and spent the week napping, reading, going to the movies and continuing to go to the hospital for daily monitoring.

Archer one

On the 19th I woke up at 2am with cramps that were much more intense then what I had previously experienced. Unlike most women my ability to sleep only improved while pregnant and I managed to roll over and go back to sleep, convincing myself it was just more pre-labour pains. I woke up at 7am and the pain was definitely intensifying. I decided to take Dora for a walk while Brendan headed to the gym. After a 30 minute walk and luckily only about a block away from my house my water broke.

I called the hospital and was told to come in. I rang Brendan, “We are having a baby” and confirmed that yes he should definitely still pick up coffee before coming home. Coffee always takes precedent, even if you are in labour. We made it to the hospital around 11am and it was confirmed that my water had definitely broke and I was in the very EARLY stages of labour. However there was meconium in my water which means the baby had pooed in the womb which could be a sign that he was in distress.

A decision was made to put me on picatocin to speed up the labour and holy shit it was intense. The contractions started coming thick and fast but because I was hooked up to so many machines I could really only lie on the bed. I ended up going into my own little world, I barely remember what was happening around me. I do remember though having the most amazing midwife  Vanessa who seemed to know what I needed before I did, I will never forget her kindness and unwavering support. To be honest I can’t really remember what Brendan was doing but the most important thing is that I know whenever I opened my eyes he was there.

Archer five

Unfortunately after 5 hours I had only dilated 1.5cm and Archer was showing increasing signs of distress. The obstetrician on duty asked me to seriously start considering whether  I would be comfortable having a c-section. Brendan and I began to discuss our options, as much as you can discuss something whilst in labour however about ten minutes later that decision was made for me with Archer’s vital signs beginning to crash. By the look on the obstetrician’s face I knew that this baby needed to join the world as soon as possible.

Within 20 minutes we were in the operating theatre. By this time I was exhausted, emotional and scared. My midwife Vanessa’s shift was meant to end but she worked overtime to stay with me. I couldn’t stop shaking as the anaesthetist tried to insert the needle into my back and kept yelling for a bigger needle which as you can imagine really helped to calm me down. Finally the needle was in and the c-section began. The whole process was extremely quick and it seemed like within minutes they were holding up our baby boy, the first thing I heard was the surgeon exclaiming “We have the our next Wallabies prop”. Archer’s vitals were quickly checked and he was placed onto my chest, not before Brendan nearly cut his foot when trying to cut the umbilical cord, luckily I didn’t see any of this.

The moment seeing Archer for the first time is one of sheer joy, amazement but most of all relief, our baby boy was here safe. I was quickly taken to the recovery area as there was another lady waiting for an emergency c-section in the hallway, we were literally pushed past each other, me with my baby and her about to meet hers, it seems crazy that we both crossed paths at the most important time of each others lives. In another crazy twist they named their baby Archie.

Archer three

In the recovery area I began to have a reaction to the morphine and my whole body was shaking and I felt like I was being roasted alive. They gave me drugs to try and reverse the effects but the feeling of claustrophobia was overwhelming. I breastfed Archer for the first time but having him on me mixed with the shaking and claustrophobia was too much. Once again Vanessa seemed to be able to sense this and suggested dad might like to hold Archer. Brendan ended up holding Archer for the next three hours until the side effects started to subside.

I was finally allowed to go to sleep around midnight and Brendan passed Archer over for me to try and feed him one more time. All the nurses left and Brendan fell asleep in his chair. It felt like just Archer and I were awake in the world. I finally had a moment to soak up my baby. It was pure magic. I soaked up his smell, examined every crevice, counted toes and fingers until he fell asleep in my arms. Our midwife came back at 1am and wrapped him up and placed him in the bassinet and despite the odds my ability to sleep regardless of the circumstances came through and we fell asleep for the first time as a family of three.

Looking back I wonder if I should have done things differently, maybe I should have requested not to start the pitocin so early but when you have never had a baby before its hard to know what the right thing to do at that time is and all you want is a healthy baby. Both the obstetrician and surgeon came to speak to me after the birth and both stated it was highly unlikely he would have ever come naturally and due to the position and size of my pelvis and the monster baby we had created  they both highly recommended an elective c-section if we have another baby. At the moment that is too much to worry myself with. The main thing is that Archer is here with us safe and sound and life as a family of three has begun. I am also extremely grateful that Brendan filmed Archer’s birth, at the time i was far too overwhelmed to watch him entering the world but being able to see it a few days later is such a gift, though not for the faint hearted and believe me not something I ever thought I would want on video but now something I cherish.

A breastfeeding journey cut short.

archer 7

As soon as I found out I was pregnant I knew I wanted to breastfeed our baby. My hospital bag was packed with lanolish, breast pads, breast feeding tops, nipple shields – you name it, I had all the paraphernalia.

After Archer was born he latched like he was born knowing exactly what to do. For the next couple of days he wouldn’t leave my boob for more then a few minutes, and if he wasn’t on there he was screaming, fidgeting or distressed. I thought this was completely normal and I know that cluster feeding at the start, is completely normal, but Archer very rarely seemed settled. It wasn’t until the fourth day that the obstetrician walked in as Archer was screaming and he exclaimed that he was starving and asked the midwife to get formula. After 60mls he fell into the most settled sleep he had, had since birth. The obstetrician examined me and asked me a number of questions and was concerned that I may not be producing enough food yet.

Before I left hospital I was given a prescription for Motilium to try and increase my supply. I was also given a routine to follow of breastfeed on both sides for twenty minutes each, top up with formula and then express every three hours. When we got home I was determined to breastfeed so followed the instructions to a tee.

However Archer instead of being “topped up” with formula was always drinking the whole amount. At times when I tried to just breastfeed him he would scream afterwards until he got a bottle. I began to dread him waking up for a feed and my sleep deprivation only continued to worsen as the whole routine would take so long that by the time I finished feeding it was time to start the routine again. Feelings of failure and shame were flooding my waking moments.

Archer 6

I persevered for four weeks. I was drinking lactation tea, downing boobie biscuits and visiting the MACH nurses where I was told to keep trying. However the amount of formula Archer would drink after each feed just kept increasing and I began to feel completely defeated. I am so grateful for my mum and Brendan stepping in and discussing my options with me. Neither pressured me to make a decision either way and I felt completely supported whatever decision I made for the future. Ultimately I decided a  few days later that I couldn’t keep trying to breastfeed for any longer as it was causing me too much mental distress. I went cold turkey from that moment as I knew I would find doing a last feed far too emotional. While our journey wasn’t for long I am grateful for every moment that Archer and I had breastfeeding.

If anyone has quit breastfeeding cold turkey you will know that it is physically very confronting. For the first time my breasts went as hard as rocks and I was convinced that they would explode at any moment. However due to my low supply I was basically back to normal after 24 hours which I am grateful for. The only reminder I had of breastfeeding was when my boobs would leak if Archer cried which is just another slap in the face when you already drowning in guilt from no longer breastfeeding.

On reflection, four months later, I have absolutely zero regrets about stopping our breastfeeding journey early. Archer and I are both so much happier and less anxious and I immediately began to enjoy motherhood so much more. I don’t deny breast is best at all but I also think good mental health is best and this is what we needed to do to ensure that I could be the best mum possible. I am extremely grateful that there there is an alternative to breast milk available so babies like Archer can continue to thrive and live healthy lives or mums who are not comfortable or unable to breastfeed can still feed their children. I will try to breastfeed our next baby but I am also not going to let myself be eaten alive by the guilt and shame if it doesn’t go to plan like I did this time around. I know that those precious moments with a newborn are limited and I don’t want to spend them in the darkness that I did this time around.