Surviving the first seven weeks with a newborn.
I am sure that any new Mums (and Dads) will agree that the first seven weeks of your new baby are possibly the most challenging, shocking and down right exhausting seven weeks of your life to date; whilst simultaneously being the most wonderful, joyous and ecstatic.
Weeks one and two were heavenly. I was on cloud nine. Deliriously happy, looking at this beautiful angelic cherub with blonde hair and a perfect little nose. She was mine. Finally after all those years it was my time. I was a mummy. After a 3 day induction process and 28 hours of labour which resulted in episiotomy and ventouse Emilie Rose was finally born. Instantly loved and cherished. I couldn’t have been happier. Even the pain from the stitches wouldn’t get in the way.
She ate, slept, pooed. It was wonderful. She was feeding like clock work. Every three hours. Most nights I was even awake before her, eagerly waiting to feed her, to have her in my arms. We shared the night feeds as Daddy was very hands on and wanted to bond. It was perfect. We had our baby, the sun was shining and life couldn’t have been better. Dan was off work, we even ventured out for days trips to New Brighton, Chester and had countless visitors. I was tired, I was sore, but somehow the adrenaline of Emilie kept me going. Dan was a great support and I was so excited to share her with everyone that even the visitors didn’t bother me. I was told that I was doing too much, but I carried on. I’ve always been a do-er… never one to sit still and so plans for lunch, meet-ups and holidays were still on my priority list – I’d just have to add Emilie onto that list…. or so I thought.
Week Three nearly finished me off. What a shock to the system. Dan went back to work. The night feeds became my ‘job’. After all those years of complaining that ‘I didn’t get a break at work’… well suddenly I found out what it was like to truly not get a break. It was quite honestly the worst week of my life. That was when reflux started to rear its ugly head… constant washing, bibs, muslins, change of clothes on hand at all time. She was like a ticking time bomb – I was on my guard for an eruption at all times, yet she still managed to take me by surprise!
Weeks four to five we plodded on – surviving on chunks of sleep whenever I could get it. Counting down the hours until Dan came home and I could sleep for a few hours before the next dreaded night shift began.
Bottle, spew, sleep repeat… was now my life.
Then she stopped pooing!
She started to go up to three days with no poo. Suddenly my life was about poo and sick… Has she pooed? Has she been sick? Has she kept her feed down? When did she last poo? On poo day I could hope for some sleep (2-3 hours at a time even) but on the ever extending non poo days I had little hope of sleep and this combined with her little and often feeding which over night had become every 2-3 hours meant that I was dead on my feet. I tried all the tricks – cooled boiled water (that is a controversial subject if you ask the health visitor), lactolose, cycling her legs – which seemed to work the best. Imagine a woman resembling an extra from The Walking Dead slumped against the changing stand cycling her legs for half an hour after the 4am feed; whilst also trying to avoid lying her flat to try and avoid reflux… not a pretty sight. Especially when on those special occasions the poo and reflux come both at the same time. A double-ender. It doesn’t get much better than that!
But there is no accounting for the ultimate joy and relief when finally after days building up to it the illusive poo finally arrives. I was sure to text and whatsapp all main family and friends… “Emilie has pooed… woo hoo”. What had my life come to?
It was also the summer. Connor was off school and so ‘normal life’ had to resume, but I didn’t really know how to just be a Mum. How to cope with a newborn and where to draw the line at my old life. I was making endless plans – going places, seeing people, entertaining Connor, doing the housework, shopping, tea… trying to be a good ‘housewife’- and for someone who hates cleaning,cooking and shopping this was quite tough – I was quite honestly killing myself. So much for the ‘Sleep when the baby sleeps’ advice. I must have been insane. People offered to help. I had so many people around me but had never felt so alone in my life. The feelings were overwhelming to say the least.
And on top of all this I was on countdown to the wedding of the year. The long awaited wedding of my best mate, where I was to be a bridesmaid. After months of panicking about being a BFB (Big, Fat, Bridesmaid) I was delighted that I had dropped 2 stone in weight and was actually 1 1/2 stone lighter than when I got pregnant… wow!
So as the wedding got closer, REFLUX got worse. Emilie had been starting to struggle with her feeds. After the first few ‘easy weeks’ suddenly feeding her was becoming a chore. She would only take little bits, hardly anything at all some days and more often than not she would be sick. Was it Colic? Wind? Reflux? As a new mum and non-mind reader I wasn’t sure. I soon reached for any product that might help…. Infacol… Gripe water…. but they had little effect and the sickie treats kept on coming.
So Week Six brought bridesmaid duties and the weekend itself. A weekend to have fun. Mum was having Emilie over night. I had time for me… little did I know how that weekend would nearly finish me off! Recovering from a wedding hangover with no sleep was one of the most difficult times in my life. That wedding was swiftly followed by another where Dan was best man. I fantasied all week about going to the wedding as we were staying in the hotel – I could sneak off after the meal and have a sleep (which I did) and I could even leave the party early and have an early night (which I didn’t) And I wasn’t going to drink too much (which I did…. oops) The day arrived. Emilie was with my Mum again – we had ‘grown-up time’. I felt guilty that I didn’t feel guilty about leaving her. I felt that so many people would judge me as I’d left her two weekends in a row. But quite honestly I needed that time. I needed sleep. I needed to be me.
I was doing too much but I couldn’t see it. From wedding highs to desperate baby lows. My life had to change. I had to slow down, I had to accept that I couldn’t carry on the same way. I couldn’t carry on living my crazy life with a baby in tow. Emilie had to come first. Surviving each week was a major achievement. The five days Dan were at work seemed so long and each Friday was a goal to reach. I had posted photos on Facebook of me looking ‘fabulous’ (thanks to a make-up artist) at two weddings and people had been so complimentary about motherhood suiting me… But I felt such a fraud. The ‘fabulous’ photos on Facebook didn’t show how I was really feeling. The days and nights were so hard and the desire to sleep and fantasies of sleep were all consuming. I was happy. But I was miserable too. How do you tell people that you aren’t enjoying motherhood? That you secretly want your old life back? That even the thought of going back to work seems an easy alternative? Sleep deprivation has a lot to answer for!
It had been the best and worst seven weeks of my life so far. I wouldn’t change her, but nothing can prepare you for how hard a newborn is. I love my Emilie with all my heart…. But my god I miss sleep. It was also a very strange thing to accept that life would never be the same again. I was so happy with my new life but after 35 years of pleasing myself this new little person now had to come first. I had to be a Mum first and everything else would have to wait. Emilie wasn’t suffering, I was suffering. By trying to do everything I wasn’t enjoying Emilie and this had to change… but how? I needed her to keep her bottles down, to sleep, to burp, to poo… how?
And then the Doctor prescribed Gaviscon. And life AG (After Gaviscon) began.
Top 10 BG REFLUX Moments
The Time Bomb
It’s 4am… you’re dead on your feet and you desperately want to put her down. But you know that you should really keep her upright for at least twenty minutes. She is asleep… you risk it. You place her down gently… all seems well. Will she stay asleep or will the bomb go off? Of course it does and then you spend the next twenty minutes changing her and cleaning up sick. You lose.
When she finally poos but is struggling and so needs help. You lie her down (having fed her in the last hour) and gently cycle her legs. She finally (after three days) manages to poo. It shoots out like korma coloured Mr Whippy and for someone so small you wonder how it can just keep on coming. Each time you lift her leg the Mr Whippy machine produces even more. She has already filled two nappies, you reach for the next nappy and then… yes… you guessed it… up comes the sick. Your reflexes are so quick that you almost wipe her face with the dirty wipe you’ve just used on her bum… I could go on… you get the idea! You lose again.
The Horror Film
After a bottle when she starts to drift off to sleep. She looks so peaceful. And then a slow trickle of milky sick travels down the side of her chin. Each time resembling a vampire kill in a horror film… and you are the victim!
The inevitable hiccups that she no doubt will get for the twentieth time today. When the poor little thing takes a deep in take of breath and the hiccups go wrong as the projectile verp takes over. Pass the baby wipes…. again.
Knicker and Bra Soaker
Yes… we’ve all been there. She’s on your shoulder, rubbing her back, comforting her as she cries with horrible trapped wind. She seems to be settling, you pull her off your shoulder, turn her around to face you and there she blows… True exorcist style. Straight down your cleavage (what’s left of it) The second heave fills your lap and it is futile to even try and clear it up. So you just sit there are take it. As the warm moisture fills your knickers and bra… you know you are a real Mum now.
Car seat squeeze
Trying to time feeds so that you’ve left enough time before you have to put her in the car seat. She is swaddled with bibs and muslins (and a spare change of clothes is in the baby bag) An hour has passed. Surely you will be OK? You place her gently into the car seat, the straps come over her head and you close your eyes as you click the buckle. All seems fine. Then bleurgh… up it comes. The left hand side of our car seat looks like the path from Mount Vesuvius… covering everything in its path!
The Shoulder Boulder
The griping wind is causing her to scream uncontrollably. The only position she seems remotely comfortable is on your shoulder. Despite having approximately 400 hundred muslin cloths in the house somewhere, you can’t lay your hands on one without disturbing her. She writhes and the inevitable shoulder boulder blasts down your shoulder. Another dress, dressing gown caked in sick… why bother changing?
The Something about Mary
Like the shoulder boulder. She’s on your shoulder, you heard it. She definitely wretched, the familiar sound of the reflux. Great, another dress ruined. You wipe your shoulder and it’s surprisingly dry… it’s disappeared! Hmm… There’s something about Sick…
That precious time where she is content and happy in the bath. You’ve washed her, she smells divine… true Johnson’s baby. Out she comes, wrapped in the teddy bear towel. You lie her back down to dry her and off goes the bomb! Her beautifully washed hair is caked in sick and her little ears full of cottage cheese… back in she goes…
Tell me about it…
I’d love to hear your stories of sick. Please add to my Little Book of Sick with your own stories and let’s share the joy of sickie babies together.