Micah’s Breastfeeding Story, so far

When I was pregnant with Micah a couple of friends asked me if I was nervous about going through labour again, and my response was “No, not at all. It’s actually the thought of breastfeeding again that makes me nervous!”. I started crying when one midwife at an antenatal appointment asked me if I was planning on breastfeeding and if I’d breastfed Florence. I simply didn’t have good memories of breastfeeding, and I still felt some sadness and guilt towards how it turned out with Florence (her breastfeeding journey is here).

I always said I would try again with Micah, and if it worked, yay! If it was similar to how things went with Florence then I’d pack it in a lot sooner and not stress about it! Florence is an incredible little girl, she gets sick less than some breastfed babies I know, and our bond certainly isn’t lacking!

So, out popped Micah on March 27th, and the fun began again! He didn’t really feed from me the first day, as he was full of mucus and wasn’t interested in latching on, so instead I hand expressed colostrum into syringes. Already there was a huge difference compared to when I breastfed Florence. I struggled to hand express colostrum for Florence, but this time it was almost pouring out (and I’d been leaking on and off for weeks)! That gave me so much hope; at least I’d have a good supply for Micah! Once he cleared the mucus out of his system he latched on wonderfully, and we were able to head home from the hospital. Yay!

Three days postpartum I nearly packed it all in (hello, hormones!). The pain was bad, much worse than it was with Florence by day three, my nipples had already started cracking and that did not give me confidence that things were going to be better this time round. I couldn’t stop thinking of how awful the pain got with Florence, and I was so scared of that happening again. He was feeding constantly that day, and it didn’t take me long to have the usual panic of “is he getting enough??”, so I gave him a few sips of formula from a cup throughout the day (and told Matthew we needed to get Florie’s old bottles and pump from the loft). Later in the day I realised that his constant feeding was to get my milk to come in, and once that happened things would get easier, so I just had to take things one day at a time.

As the days passed, the toe curling pain continued, but the nipple cracks disappeared, and Micah appeared to be feeding well. He was clearly gaining weight, and he was so content after feeds (we also gave him a dummy from day four which gave me a break from his excessive desire to suck!). At night he would only feed for 20 minutes or so (every 2 hours) and go back to sleep, whereas Florence would be on for an hour, and often woke again when I laid her back in her crib. The pain lessened to only happening on his initial latch, until my milk began flowing, and then by week 3 I realised that there was basically no pain at all. It was wonderful! Instead of being obliterated, like when I fed Florence, my nipples actually got bigger! I couldn’t believe the difference.

Despite being pain free, and Micah being well fed, I still have a love hate relationship with breastfeeding, as I’m sure other Mamas do. It feels wonderful knowing that I am Micah’s food source and he is growing and growing (gained almost 4lbs already), but a lot of the time I also find it very frustrating and just want to switch to formula for ease. I was going to give my reasonings, but that could go on forever, and there will be people who have “an answer” to all my frustrations and think I should just get on with it…

It’s funny, before I had kids I was always surprised to hear when people weren’t breastfeeding their baby. It’s the best thing for them, and “the most natural thing in the world”, why weren’t they doing it? Haaaaa. Now that I’m on the other side of the fence I fully understand why someone would choose not to breastfeed. Even if it is going well! And I don’t think they should be viewed as selfish or a bad mother for changing to formula. I believe you should do what fits best around you and the rest of your family, what puts your mind at ease and makes you happy! As long as your baby is fed and happy, go for it! Saying that, I’m still in a constant battle in my own mind about what people will think if I make the full switch to formula *face palm*.

One thing I’ve noticed in the last week is that I’ve been feeling incredibly light headed and like my head is spinning. We’re putting this down to me being physically drained every 2 hours of the day and night, and not drinking enough water to keep up, or getting a good enough sleep. So I’m trying to increase my water intake, and we’ve started giving Micah a bottle of formula before bed at night to give me a longer stretch of sleep.

For now we’ll continue with breastfeeding, but there may come a day soon when I increase the amount of formula we give him and eventually make the full switch…

…to be continued!

Micah’s Birth Story

Welcome to Micah’s birth story! If you’re here for more comedy moments on gas and air, like Florence’s birth story (which you can read here), then you’re going to be disappointed. Sorry!

Matthew and I headed in to Raigmore for 9pm on Wednesday 25th March. Our temperature was taken when we arrived at Ward 9a, because #covid19, then we were taken to a bed, filled out the essential forms, and told the midwife would be in to speak to us after the changeover at 10pm.

I’m not sure how many times I checked the time in that hour! Oddly excited to be examined, to find out if I was ready to start the induction, or if I’d need the hormonal pessary to help me along. But sadly, when the midwife came we were informed that labour ward was busy and under staffed so none of us would be taken up that night, and they couldn’t give anyone the pessary in case it got labour going, so we weren’t examined. Sob. Furthermore Matthew was told he had to go home and would only be allowed to come back in when I was actually in labour. None of those things were what I wanted to hear. Not knowing when I would actually be induced, and the thought of sitting around waiting on my own in the hospital, rather than being at home with Matthew and Florence, was not pleasant. Matts headed home, and I headed to bed.

At 10am the following morning I was finally examined, and found out I was already 3-4cm dilated and could start the induction as soon as a room became available in labour ward! Yay! Even better, Matthew was able to come in and wait with me whenever he wanted! Hooray for rules changing regularly! He came in shortly after, without having had breakfast or bringing any lunch…and as there were a lot of women in the Highlands going in to labour naturally and jumping the queue ahead of me (so rude!), we were waiting quite a while, so he headed home again around 2:30 to get something to eat (and grab a few things for me as it turned out I’d done a terrible job packing my hospital bag!).

Shortly after 3 I decided to make the most of being child free and have a nap! Two minutes after I snuggled in to bed the midwife appeared to say a room was available in labour ward. Woooooooo! So I messaged Matts, only for a nurse to appear a couple minutes later saying an emergency had just come in so they couldn’t take me up, which can’t be helped, so I told Matthew to stand down and I climbed back in to bed. I slept for an hour, and once Matthew had stopped having snuggle time with Florence he came back in, but was sadly only allowed to stay for an hour as once again the rules had changed to partners only being allowed in for labour.

At 8pm I was told a room was available and a midwife from labour ward would be down to get me soon. I didn’t tell Matthew this time, in case it was another false alarm, but two minutes later the midwife appeared at my bed to take me upstairs! I was clearly so happy to see her as she said “Oh woaw, no one’s looked at me like that in a long time!”, haha! We headed upstairs and I messaged Matts saying “Go! Go! Go! I’m in labour ward!”. The midwife inserted my cannula, but didn’t hook me up to the hormone drip as I’d already been contracting on and off throughout the day. When Matts arrived she broke my water, and oh boy was that something! It literally flooded the bed straight away and they had to change the sheets as it went beyond the protective pads.

Breaking my water was enough to ramp up my contractions and it wasn’t long before they were pretty intense (and, once again, all in my lower back!). In that time there was a shift change and we got a new midwife. A lovely Community Midwife who usually attended home births (which were no longer allowed, because #covid19) and was in to help because so many labour midwives were off. Our first midwife was all for pain relief drugs, but our new midwife was giving off major Hypnobirthing, “do it naturally”, vibes so I felt like I needed to be brave and and power through without any drugs. She was wonderfully calm, softly spoken, and had a great technique to ease some of the pain of the contractions (firmly placing her palms in to my lower back). We roped Matthew in to this pain relief attempt, and I felt like I was giving him a workout, with the force he was using to push his palms in to my back.

After a few hours of labouring naturally, on my knees, leaning over the back of the bed, feeling nauseous and trying not to cry out with the pain, our midwife very kindly asked if I wanted some gas & air. Woohoo! Unfortunately though, I used it for a couple of contractions and it just made me feel even more sick, so I didn’t take any more, but it did give me the confidence to ask/demand an epidural. Our midwife suggested diamorphine as an alternative, as it’s less invasive, but I didn’t like the thought of it going in to baby’s system, and I just knew that once I had the epidural when I was in labour with Florence I felt so much more relaxed and it was just a wonderful experience! So I stood my ground and just kept saying “Nope, I’d like the epidural.”.

I realised just how doped up on gas and air I must’ve been with Florence as I do not remember the procedure taking anywhere near as long with her as it did this time round. I went through multiple contractions, made worse by the position I had to sit in to insert the epidural, and was getting quite frustrated at how long the setup was taking. Thankfully the relief was instantaneous once it was put in. I apologised to our midwife, as I felt like I had failed her by not doing it naturally *face palm* She was very kind and supportive, reminding me that I had laboured naturally for hours, and actually agreed that the epidural was exactly what I needed as she could see the relief I felt.

Turns out I’d requested the epidural just in time! It’s common to be told that an epidural will slow down labour, but I asked to be examined shortly after receiving mine as I felt a really strong pressure in my lady bits, and wanted to try pushing. They examined me and didn’t think I was quite ready, but I kept saying the pressure was pretty intense, so our midwife said to try pushing in my next contraction. I couldn’t actually feel my contractions though so had to be told when they were happening. Both midwives were impressed at how well I was able to push despite not feeling the contractions, and I was only pushing for about half an hour. Due to my third degree tear with Florence, our midwife was very hands on this time round and when Micah’s head was halfway out she told me to stop pushing (it was pushing Florence’s head out so quickly that caused my tear last time)…even with the epidural I felt the burn (I don’t think the epidural was as strong as the one I go with Florence)!! Once his head was out she told me to rest again and let his body turn, the whole time she’s stretching my nether regions to help ease him out more gently. One more push and he slid right out, at 1:59am! I reached out and practically grabbed him and Matthew said “It’s a boy!”. We couldn’t believe we had a little boy! It was so wonderful to finally get him out of my pelvis and snuggle him in to my chest! And, like when Florence was born, I instantly new which name from our list I wanted to give him, and thankfully Matthew agreed.

I ended up with a 2nd degree tear, so I still needed stitches, but the midwife just did them there and then as I lay snuggling Micah in our room (and he pooped all over my wobbly empty bump). It was great not needing to go to theatre and have a further dose of epidural, not needing a catheter when I got my epidural, and not needing a 24 hour antibiotic IV! I was up and walking around within an hour of giving birth.

I felt great when the midwife on Ward 10 popped in to check on us later that morning, and she was happy to discharge us once Micah had been checked over by the Paediatrician. I was so excited!! But that excitement decreased as the hours passed by, waiting for Micah’s check up, and then being told that because he hadn’t had a wet nappy and wasn’t showing much interest in latching on for a feed, they wanted us to stay in for 24 hours. I knew he still had mucus inside him, as he was gagging throughout the day, and I knew once he got that up that he’d want a feed and would then have a wet nappy.

I hand expressed colostrum in to a syringe a couple times throughout the day, and hand expressed in to his mouth a few times, and eventually in the evening he had a good spew, then had a good feed, then did a wee! The second I saw the blue line on his nappy I asked the midwife if we could go home! The first one who saw us was a bit hesitant and came up with many reasons for us to stay, but I had a confident response for each one, and she realised she wasn’t going to change my mind. So she got the Charge Midwife who was totally chilled and very happy for us to head home, if we were happy to do so. Yay! So we headed home at 10pm, surprised my Mum who didn’t think we’d be getting home until the following morning, popped in to Florie’s room to see her sweet sleeping face, and climbed in to our wonderfully comfy bed with our new bundle of love sleeping beside me.

Ooft…that was a long post! Good effort if you made it to the end. I hope you enjoyed Micah’s birth story, despite the lack of gas and air comedy. I wonder if there will be a third birth story in a couple more years…

Fed Is Best – Our Breastfeeding Story

Our breastfeeding story came to an end two weeks ago…When it happened I felt total relief; for weeks we had pushed through, as she screamed and latched on and off for each feed, getting progressively more frustrated as the day went on. Secretly I wanted someone to just tell me to stop and switch to formula completely as she clearly wasn’t happy, but I thought I had to persevere, because breast milk is the best thing for her, right?

In the end it was Florence who made the decision, she reached the point of screaming straight away and not latching at all. I tried expressing, but I wasn’t even getting half a feed, so formula at each failed feed was the only option.

Some would say that it all went wrong the moment I gave her that first bottle of formula, when she was two weeks old. I’d say that was the best decision for us at the time. My mental state wasn’t good. I was actually scared of Florence waking up and wanting fed because I dreaded the pain of latching her on. I had an infection from mastitis, I had a fever, my whole body ached and I was telling my Mum I didn’t think I could look after Florence, I couldn’t give her what she needed, but I was also beating myself up for even considering giving her formula. Mum handed me the bottle of formula, and a friend brought round an electric pump. I pumped as much as I could during the day (which was only three times a day, for various reasons) and we gave her formula the rest of the time, and overnight. This was wonderful, she was only up once through the night so I was able to catch up on sleep.

I was put on antibiotics, only to discover a few days later (whilst trying to find out if Florence had a tongue tie) that Florence had thrush…made worse by antibiotics. Thankfully the mastitis and the thrush cleared up after a week, but the pain and the damage was still very much there, and the screaming on the breast began, which left us wondering if she did in fact have a tongue tie. Our breastfeeding support worker came to visit us at week 6, and she could tell I was at the point of giving up, so she tried to hurry along the Tongue Tie Clinic and we were called in the following day. They discovered she had a posterior tongue tie, very hard to assess, and snipped it there and then. I latched her on straight after and couldn’t believe the difference; there was no pain at all. It was wonderful! I thought this would solve everything! It was at this point I should probably have stopped giving the formula through the night…they say night feeds are the ones that tell your body to prepare more milk for the next day. But sleep is a wonderful thing, and I didn’t think about it having an effect on my milk supply…the screaming at the breast came back and continued to get worse. At the same time we were selling our flat in Aberdeen, so travelling back and forth, moving out of Matthew’s folks house and in to our own home, attending multiple weddings, and then it was Christmas and New Year…there was a lot going on.

Eventually I twigged, and decided to try feeding her myself through the night, to try to increase my supply, but unfortunately this is what brought us to the end of our journey. Florence fed from me through the night, but by the morning she was more frustrated than ever, and would only feed for a few seconds before the screaming began. It wasn’t the wonderful bonding experience they talk about! She clearly wasn’t getting what she needed from me, and was much happier with formula.

Perhaps things would have been different if I hadn’t started on the formula all those weeks ago, or if her tongue tie had been assessed and snipped right at the start, but unfortunately you can’t change the past and there’s no point wondering “What if?”.

Some will probably think I gave up too easily, I should have fed through the pain in those first few weeks, and should have made more of an effort to increase my supply, if that is what the problem was in the end.  However, after two weeks of exclusively formula feeding I can say it’s definitely been the right decision. Florence doesn’t scream during feeds, she’s very content and even smiles as she looks up at me. Matthew has had the cold twice in the past month, but neither I nor Florence have caught it, so health-wise she’s doing great! And mentally, I am doing great! I was sad as the first week passed, occasionally trying to feed her myself, not quite ready to completely give it up, but then it just became the norm, and it felt good knowing she was happy and getting what she needed!

It’s early days to be saying this, but if/when Baby Mac #2 comes along I am definitely going to try breastfeeding again, but I’m not going to beat myself up if it’s not working and we don’t manage to get past a few weeks or months, as ultimately fed is best.

Day 336|365

Today was Matthew’s cousin Ali’s wedding day. I was so focused on Florie all day that I didn’t remember to take my camera out until around 8pm, and I just snuck over and snapped a candid moment of her and her lovely new husband chatting with a friend.

I started taking a few photos of her and her girls dancing, thinking the photographer had left…but then I realised she was on the other side of the dancefloor, so I quickly dashed off so as not to ruin her shorts with my flash *face palm*

Florie and I headed off to bed soon after, as it had been a pretty long day for us both. I thought we had made a break through, I had managed to feed her myself all day, but come 6pm she kicked off and wouldn’t latch on again, so the formula made an appearance again!

Florence nodded off to sleep, and I snuggled in to bed, expressed some milk, and watched I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here, for the first time ever, before nodding off to sleep myself. Nice, chilled way to end a lovely day!

Day 333|365

I didn’t take a photo today…Oops. After feeling so accomplished yesterday, getting the blog up to date, I crashed and burned today. The big camera didn’t get touched. But…I did take photos on my phone…so I guess one of those would do…

Poor Florie…to be fair she was crying before I put the ear defenders on, so who knows, she might have liked them if I’d tried at a better time…we have a couple weddings coming up, and we’re wondering if we’d need to protect her ears from the ceilidh band if we stay for some dancing, so a friend of a friend dropped these off. Quite amusing.

Day 332|365

Day 332We’ve been keeping another secret from you…

Having accepted the offer on our flat in Aberdeen, when Florence was just five days old, we started viewing houses here in Inverness, fell in love with one and put an offer in. That offer was accepted, subject to mortgage, and today we found out our mortgage was approved! God willing, we will be moving in to our new home in a couple of weeks. I almost cried when I heard the news! We’re so excited to start this next chapter! I can’t wait to decorate for Florence’s first Christmas, eeeeeeek!!

Day 331|365

Day 331.jpg

Yay! One month old today! Shortly after Mummy took this photo I had a poop explosion in my carseat, just as she was about to head out to the car to meet a friend for coffee! It took the path of least resistance and went all down my leg to my foot, thankfully contained by my sleepsuit! She thought she’d need to bath me, but I’m happy she didn’t, and just used up half a pack of wipes instead.

Day 330|365

Day 330.jpgRemember I said yesterday that Matthew and his Dad took a van through to Aberdeen to move our furniture out of the flat? Well, there was so much of it that they needed to go back again today, so this time Florence and I went too! Matthew drove us down in the car and dropped us off at Nana Jana’s, yay! Then he headed in to the flat to load up the final bits n bobs, and run around with the hoover. It was so nice spending the afternoon with Mum. I wasn’t the one doing the driving, but it felt very easy to just nip through to Mum’s for the afternoon, maybe we’ll do it more often! Until Florence no longer sleeps for an entire journey…