Tag: maternity

11
Oct

A labour, birth and post-natal questionnaire.

Did your waters break in a cafe and did you have to quickly hail a cab to the hospital?

Oh, come on. That shit only happens in the movies. My contractions began at 2:30am and were pretty pathetic til about 5:30am, when I reluctantly called my Mother-in-law to come over to look after our toddler. I say reluctantly cos I had been in frustrating pre-labour for a week, and while the contractions were every eight minutes, they were mild, so I didn’t want to be the boy who cried wolf when I got to the hospital (Epworth Freemasons, which is fantastic. Their staff are great – but then, aren’t all midwives? – and they have double beds so your partner can sleep next to you as you recover) and get sent home.

With my first baby, I stayed home til I couldn’t talk through my contractions, cos being in bed at home is far nicer for early labour than a hospital room, but I’d heard second babies can bloody ZING out, and I didn’t want to risk a rapid ramp-up and the potential of a backseat-of-the-car-delivery.

Anyway. My lovely MIL came over at 6am, we got to the hospital at 6:30am, I was 4cm dilated, my obstetrician broke my waters, and we were off!

IMG_3699_newBefore my waters were broken and labour was still mild. Hence: smile.

Did your labour go for over 1000 hours?

Thirteen.

What was the most useful accessory during labour?

My husband. Second, this electric heatpack he placed on my lower back as I rocked on the fit ball, and howled, and tried to run away from my body. (Also comes in handy whenever that stinky wench mastitis comes for me.)

hotpodAny music?

A Spotify playlist I made with lots of Ray LaMontagne and Father John Misty and Feist. And Metallica. Ha ha ha! Just kidding! Obviously Megadeath is the heavy metal choice for labouring women.

Do you rate your birth experience as positive? Better or worse than your first birth?

It was awesome. Quite similar to my first. I feel tremendously lucky. I know how quickly things can get serious, and heavy, and how out of control it can all get in there for some mothers and babies, and I feel intensely fortunate to have had two positive births. Really I do. Your birth experience is incredibly significant; it stays with you for life, good or bad. I know how lucky I am.

For those who care (I LOVE birth stories): I went into spontaneous labour at 2:30am the day before my due date, had my waters broken at around 4cm, (7am), then laboured like a, well, mother, til I was about 7cm dilated. I used gas for pain relief and quite loved it. (Last time I was given morphine and I deeply regret it. It made me spew a lot and I was so fuzzy. For days. Foul.)

By about noon I demanded the anaesthetist stop racking off (he got called away to theatre twice on his way to me) and bloody give me my epidural before I missed the window/so I could rest. He did, all efficiency and magic, and I fell asleep for an hour, which pressed reset on my exhausted head and body, and gave me the strength to PUUUUUSH. (My doula angel lady, the magnificent Marie Burrows, taught me to use the epidural for fatigue, not to escape pain.) (I may have used it for both.) It also slowed everything down, as it tends to, (this happened last time), so they put me on the (Syntocinon) drip to get things moving.

An hour later and it was time to push. I completely forgot how. “Like you’re pooing!!” the midwife yelled (I remembered then) and within 15 very athletic, intense, wonderful minutes, our little girl was with us.

She didn’t cry, (IS SHE OKAY?! I bellowed, perhaps a little too aggressively), she was serene, all wide-eyed and looking around. Someone plopped her straight onto my chest, where she lay for an hour or so, in dim lights, and we cooed over her, and she suckled, and adjusted to being in oxygen and breathing and planet earth and stuff. What, a, moment! Incredible! Total bliss party! Ugh. I loved it so friggen much. It will forever be branded into my brain (with a unicorn horn and glitter).

IMG_3714_newThis is one of my top five Life Moments and also photos.

I really reckon the weeks of acupuncture, acupressure massage (and meditating) I did leading into birth helped a lot, both times. My body did a fantastic job, and so did my baby. Rudy helped me as much as I helped her. I am so grateful to her. She was an exceptional birthing partner, in the true sense of the term.

If you are in Melbourne, here are the people I used for my labour prep. I can not recommend them highly enough, but goddamit I will try:

DR ALICE GAO. I relied on her with my first baby, also. She treated me when I was trying to conceive, through morning sickness, and then from 36 weeks pregnant to prepare the body for birth. She is a very special woman.

MARY DE PELLEGRIN A lovely and superexperienced, masterful masseuse who specialises in pregnancy massage. She does guided relaxation as she works on you, and it’s deeply lovely. Plus: she strong. This is serious massage. You’ll get wild relief and relaxation.

MONA (0420 708 516) A magical wizard with incredibly powerful hands and a decade of physio experience. She does mobile massage, but the word massage seems somehow … ungenerous. It’s much more than that. Mona doesn’t watch the clock, she just treats you and your sore spots and knots until they’re fixed. Properly fixed. And she does makes you better. She is with me (and my husband, he is her number two fan, after me) for life, whether she likes it or not. (I have been using her post-birth for the ol ‘breastfeeding shoulder’ also.)

And also my osteo, who I talk a lot about here.

Did you use even 50% of the shit you packed for the hospital bag, or did you just live in your dressing gown and big black grundies?

How dare you assume I overpacked. (Of course I did.) And since I treated myself to a fancy cashmere robe as my own push present (this one, from Naked Cashmere) I barely needed clothes. I just wore lots of Bonds breastfeeding singlets, and Kmart men’s black undies. Cute! I packed Tom maternity pads because they are like a big fluffy cloud, (by far the best maternity pads. The others are too thin, or too long, or too surfboardy) and BodyICE ice packs, for the whole… situation down there, and all my beloved Go-To skin care so I felt human and smelled nice. (Sometimes. Sometimes I was just tears and colostrum and pizza grease.)

I wore a tracksuit home. I don’t understand dressing nicely to go home. Do people still do that? All I did was come home to empty house with my husband, son and baby, feed the cat, then feed the baby, then feed me. Tracksuit seemed fine for this.

cashmeregown

This is not me. This is slightly cranky lady wearing the same dressing gown I have.

What was your first meal, post birth?

A meatball sub, fries, and a glass of champagne. Then ice cream. Since my husband brought me my favourite pancakes to the delivery room at around 10am (I birthed at 4pm), I wasn’t too ravenous. HA HA HA as if. I was starving. Birth is hardcore. I needed to replenish with a tonne of shitty junk food.

When your milk came in, and your tits went ballistic, did you briefly flirt with the idea of moving into glamour modelling?

What do you mean ‘flirt’ with? Google ‘Milky Mams’ (DEFINITELY DON’T.)

Did you have a lot of visitors in the hospital/hotel? 

I consider those first few days sacred. People can come to the house in the following weeks, instead. In a slow trickle. One set a day. Because as we all know, no sleep + remembering how to breastfeed + newborn + hosting visitors is a really shit idea. (Our good mates sent us a big box of food from Gourmet Dinner Service, which saved us for many nights, and I now gift other newborn parents the same thing.)

Did you slide on those recovery shorts two minutes after you gave birth?

The SRC Recovery shorts? No, I did not. I struggled to get them on two days after birth: it was an ugly scene. Then, not 10 minutes later, a friendly physio came to check on me, and said, ‘Oh, don’t stress, just wait til you get home! Don’t make life hard for yourself!’ (Also, since I had minimal abdominal separation, and I wear the shorts for pelvic support instead, wearing them right away wasn’t crucial.)

You wear them everyday?

I wore them, or some form of compression/support shorts every day for the first 8-9 weeks, and finally moved back into Real Life clothes (“denim” and “wool”) at around 10 weeks. You gotta wear the SRCs under baggy pants, cos they are quite thick. (My best maternity and new-baby pants are these Camilla and Marc ones. The recovery shorts are perfectly hidden underneath and the pants are comfy but stylish, so you don’t feel like a total dag. I’ve thrashed them. The cost per wear is magnificent.)

I alternated the shorts with some of the excellent post-partum support leggings/tights that definitely did NOT exist when I had my first kid, three years ago. I love Active Truth tights, which I wore while preggo as well. They are the most firm and the most flattering of the bunch I reckon. I also wear Blanqi nursing support leggings, (though they’re not quite as firm as I like) and also Hello Monday (these are shinier, straight up activewear).

They all do same thing: work as compression tights, give support, cover up your stomach as you feed (they go up to your bra line) and smooth out all the tummy and arse jiggle so you feel nice and look smooth. And that’s what I want in those early days. To feel like I have one tiny portion of control over my leaky, wobbly, tired and taxed body. Also I bought some super strong, nude, very thin/invisible Spanx on recommendation from a friend, to wear under jeans etc.

BLANQI_support_leggings_baby_600xThis is not me. This is a blonde lady. She is wearing the Blanqi tights. 

IMG_5062This IS me in them, around five weeks after birth.

 How was your recovery, by the way?

Good! Great! Hip and pubis and pelvis are AOK! I am back doing my (at-home) pilates and strengthening exercises and walking a lot. I feel good. I mean, my neck, back and shoulders are completely fucked from breastfeeding and constant baby-jiggling and resettling, but that’s standard.

And mentally, everything okay? 

Good question. Important question. I’m good, thank you. And I mean that: my baby is ‘doing her nights’ as they say, and since she’s 12 weeks old now she’s way more predictable. Also, her gassiness has finally subsided. She smiles and coos and looks up at me with her big ol blueys, and I just kind of stare at her all day through the emotional version of a Snapchat love-heart filter.

But oh, there were some dark days around week six and seven, though. Like all mums, when my infant hit peak crying and restlessness, all the bliss that carried me through the newborn era slipped quietly out the back door, and I began floundering. Managing a toddler, even a quite independent three year-old one, and trying to feed and settle a wailing baby at the same time threw me. The fact that two children need you constantly, and at exactly the same time, was an entirely new and wildly challenging experience. After three years parenting just one (pretty chilled) kid, I felt totally unequipped and out of my depth. Parenting is, without a lick of competition, the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and the hardest job there is. They were the toughest few weeks of my life, I reckon. How single parents, or parents with twins, or three, four, five, SIX kids do it, I have no idea. I salute you. Cos there’s only so much pacing back and forth in a pitch black room with white noise blaring and a screaming baby one can take. Fuck me. The fourth trimester is REAL.

I don’t think I was anywhere near PND, (I have several girlfriends who were diagnosed after their second baby; so be alert for the symptoms), it was simply, as a friend pointed out, PND. Gah! The same acronym, how awkward! But this PND stands for Post Natal Depletion. Being hormonally, physically, and emotionally depleted…. Or in other words: being a mother. Getting mastitis repeatedly and wanting to run away and sleep for 12 days straight were pretty good clues.

I was lucky to have support. To be able to call in night nurse to allow us some proper sleep a few nights each week. (Tip: when your parents ask what they can give you for your new baby, ask for a night nurse voucher. Cos when mum gets sleep, the whole family benefits.) To have a baby who is thriving, and in good health. But many, many mums aren’t nearly so lucky. I send them love, strength, good coffee, and this link.

Any other post-baby stuff you’re jazzed about?

Thought you’d never ask. I think the Mammojo breastfeeding hoodie is very clever, and not just cos I am a devout grey hoodie fan. The invisible zips mean you can feed anywhere without a whole luscious boobo on show, and the hoodie recognises that baby-mums are 90% likely to be living in activewear.

IMG_4371Me in the hoodie, with my camo baby.

I like Hello Monday’s breastfeeding crop top sports bra (took the pads out cos the last thing I need is more volume), and still wear most of my LEGOE maternity stuff, which I recommend cos it’s nice, non-maternity, non-breastfeedy-looking wear. I love their pants, and their jumpsuit with breastfeeding zips. (No, ‘breastfeeding jumpsuit’ is not an oxymoron! Who knew.)

Also, you know how you get keratosis pilaris (small, pimply bumps on the skin) after childbirth? (Mostly cos your skin is so friggen dry while you’re breastfeeding. I use Exceptionoil on my body after the shower, for stretch-mark prevention – as I did during pregnancy -heated up under the hop tap so it’s all liquidy, to soothe the drysies.)

Anyway, it’s very common, especially on the upper arms. I had it with my first baby, and it’s back. My facialist told me to use PCA Body Therapy, (an AHA body cream) and it’s helped a LOT. The bumps are far less angry, widespread and visible.

Enough about your bumpy arms and all your pants. What about all the baby stuff?

Enough for today, nosy. I need to nap.

 

Responses to this drivel: 19 Comments
22
Sep

Rookie Birth Tips: Stuff for the hospital.

If you’re anything like me, (furry, long tail, fond of eating ants) you love a good recommendation. Especially with something like giving birth. So, here are mine, keeping in mind I have done it a grand total of once, hence the title of this post.

HEAT PACK.

Man, contractions are a real P in the A. Or more accurately, pain in the uterus and lower back. I was using this incredible electric heatpack during pregnancy for my pelvis issues, and this proved a tremendous saviour during the many hours of writhy, wild woman contractions. Takes 15 mins to heat up, then stays hot for hours. Makes hot water bottles looks incredibly shit. Husband held it on my lower back and massaged the area as I pretended the stupid fitball was helping. I appreciated its heat SO, MUCH.

WELL-PACKED HOSPITAL BAGS.

I was clueless on this front. Totally overpacked on some stuff, and underpacked on others. For example, because our hospital room was oddly cold Sonny needed a warmer blanket than we’d packed (wool or cashmere ideally, not the light cotton one we had packed… and if you do go cashmere, by God this Sheridan one we were given is unreal. Still use it every day in some capacity ) and half the cute, novice mum clothes I packed were FAR too big for him, and impossible to get on and off for very sleep deprived people with zero experience in the land of press studs and cross over bloody onesies. (Highly recommend the Bonds Zip Wondersuits. HIGHLY. They come with little feet and hand covers so you don’t need socks/mittens.)

Bonds

  I did, however, get some stuff right, with the help of the clever rascals at Bundle. They make tailored (you choose the bits you want in there from their site) maternity bags, for both baby and mama, and it includes all the necessities that I would have forgotten for sure (maternity pads, breast pads, breast gels etc etc). They also offer GREAT checklists of what to pack and what you need for the nursery and car and pram etc. I found that wildly helpful as a rookie. Plus, the bag is rad and we use it for travel now.

bundle3197_v2_low

Just on maternity pads, I feel VERY strongly that the Tom’s maternity pads ones are the best. Very strongly. Tried them all, they were by far the best.

In the end I had the Bundle bag for Sonny, and a medium suitcase for me (with my Bundle sack of stuff in it.) I bought some nice PJs from Country Road and J.Crew (nothing tight around waist and nothing I needed to wear a bra with) before I went in so that I would feel a little bit noyce when people came to visit, and no I did not get dressed in Real Clothes for them, and nor could I for about five days such was my SWELLING and PUFFINESS, oh dear God the puffiness. I just fit into my shoes and pants and top  when I left the hospital, such was my marshmallowness. I had no idea this would be the case but luckily wasn’t quite so stupid as to pack jeans (HA!) or non-maternity-ish clothes. And as I had my hair keratin smoothed a week out from having Sonny, I was a total wash and go (or stay, more accurately) women with no need for any more styling effort than a quick blast with the hair dryer and some hair powder for texture.

TRAVEL/COMPRESSION SOCKS.

For the puffiness mentioned above. My feet were like pillows. And not those sassy little ones you bought for your sofa; big, filthy European ones.

HIMALAYAN SALT LAMP.

This is something some friends were given by their friends, who then gave us one, and we will be paying it forward big time. It’s a small pink salt lamp you can pick up at light stores, online, or from one of those new age crystal type shops. It makes the birthing suite all chilled and relaxing (yes, really), then acts as a nice cosy lamp and night light in the hospital room, and then becomes the baby’s night lamp at home. It’s a small thing, but was a BIG thing while in the hospital, genuinely calming me and adding a lovely tranquil vibe. Also, and perhaps more importantly, they act as an ioniser, purifying the air it by clearing it of airborne particles and dust, which makes them especially good for asthmatics and allergy sufferers.

Saltlamp

RECOVERY SHORTS.

I’ve already mentioned these. They help a LOT with separation and support in the weeks following birth. I wore my Solidea shorts from a day after birth for 6 weeks, a lot of girls like the SRC ones, my physio said they’re much of a muchness, which I’ve always found to be a silly saying, but nonetheless. By three months, with zero exercise or strengthening (banned and impossible due to my Osteitis Pubis) I have less then half a cm separation now.

AN EXCELLENT LIP BALM AND HAND CREAM.

Never will you wash and sterilise your hands more than as a new mum. My word. And the lip balm is vital when you’re doing all that panting and deep breathing during birth and labour. Obviously the best option for that is Go-To Lips! and I love the MV Organics hand cream. Chuck in some relaxing face mist too – lovely during labour. I like Sodashi’s.

GoTo_Lips_Purple

HAND STERILISER.

Big bottle. Choose one you like the smell of, because your baby will basically smell like this product for the first few weeks.

PHONE CHARGER &  iPAD.

I liked having the iPad for mindless net skimming and playing Rdio during quiet moments in the hospital, and also for music in the birth room. (I had a few ‘birth’ playlists ready to go from other Rdio users, but ended up just listening to a Ray LaMontagne station made of all his songs. It was the perfect soundtrack from frantic, painful labour, to snoozy post-epidural dozing, to the actual pushing bit.) Darling husband recently reminded me we watched a few Simpsons episodes on it during that dozey post-epidural bit, which I definitely forgot about, but am sure I enjoyed at the time.

SNACKS/MINTS.

My husband made me a Hero Mix (like a trail mix, but subbing in childbirth for the trail) of nuts and Rocky Road chocolate and we had Endura electrolyte drink ready to go, but I didn’t eat a thing during labour – I preferred to shake uncontrollably and vomit if you don’t mind – but as soon as Sonny was out BRING ME FOOD ALL THE FOOD NOW NOW NOW. There is a “beautiful” shot of me moosing down toast as he has his first suckle. The midwife was resistant to feed me since I would probably just vom it up again, but after all that hard work I gently indicated that she should please BRING ME SOME TOAST RIGHT NOW DO NOT FUCK WITH ME I WILL EAT YOUR SOFT LITTLE HAND IF YOU DO NOT BRING IT TO ME SOON AND SO GOD HELP ME I WILL. A friend advised I should take some mints to freshen up during all that heavy breathing and vomming, and I’m glad she did.

CAR SEAT CAPSULE.

(You know, to get the baby home in.) We chose the Maxi-Cosi Mico (for newborns to 6 months) and it is bloody fantastic. It is SO safe, and SO airbagged up, which is very important… but a YUGE reason I love it is for the fashion colours. Kidding! No, I love it best of all because it clicks out of the car, as a capsule you carry around and can click directly into the pram (more on prams later) so I don’t have to wake the tiny giant when I take him from the car to the pram or house. He also sleeps in it at people’s houses and cafes etc. God I love that bit. That was a dealbreaker for me, that clip-in to the car/pram thing. (I think they call it a ‘Travel System.’) After six months, the capsule was loaned to a friend til we need it back, and we installed a Maxi-Cosi Euro, which will last Sonny til he is four.

 

maxi-cosi-mico-nxt-infant-car-seat-steel-grey-25

Oh and DEFINITELY practice all the seat belts and getting it in and out of the car before you have the baby. We pretended to, but didn’t really, and when I tried it myself for the first time on a day I was insanely sleep deprived but full of bravado and set off with Sonny to Baby Bunting, I had a meltdown in the car park because I could, not, get, it, to, click, in. I can do it with my eyes closed and backwards now, but it would’ve been much smarter to learn all my toys before adding a live baby to them.

SPARE BAGS.

You know, like those heavy duty shopping ones you get at Howard’s Storage. To carry home the lovely gifts/flowers and cards you will be sent by loving friends and family and members of The Black Eyed Peas and Madonna.

SPARE BABY.

In case you don’t like the one that pops out. What have I forgotten? What do you swear by?

Responses to this drivel: 21 Comments