Our day at Grandma's went pretty well really, I can now add a list of places I've got my boobs out to pump to my list of places I've got my boobs out to breastfeed over the past fourteen years!
We had a fun time at Beaumaris Castle, trying to take a family shot was, as always not so easy....
This one is about the best. (note small child stategically placed in front of my post partum belly!)
After trying and failing to take a good shot of Woody with the children, I turned around to see an older couple watching us. I couldn't help but wonder what they saw, a large unruly brood, a family having fun? Certainly not the child that's missing.
I'm a broken record, I know, but every day it hurts, we have fun, a nice day out, some laughs, but it's always there.
There was an historical re enactment group at the castle, and the most gorgeous baby girl, toddler really, about a year old. Just the cutest little thing, riding around in a cart dressed in historical costume, and babbling, just lovely...
Last of the pic spam for today at least!
Ernest asleep in his fave place, and look , he has Florence grasped in his little hand.
We are being brave and planning a day out at Grandmas tomorrow. I've just packed a bag for Ernest,and just need to test the batteries for my mini pump. Our first day out with him, and our first day out with bottles for a baby..oh for the convenience of simply breastfeeding....
Please keep everything crossed for us, send us happy pumping/feeding vibes and easy journey with no traffic jams...bank holiday and travelling to the coast...hmmm I can hope can't I?
I do love a baby kitted out in yummy woolliness. It's bittersweet pulling out things I knitted when pregnant with Florence and then dressing Ernest in them, but oooh he's just so snuggable in these soft wool longies and cardigan.
Making use of the bedside crib for a change too.
For anyone interested both patterns are Elizabeth Zimmermann, the yarn Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino.
Funny, because yesterday Eden had a massive strop because someone on TV suggested they might call her Eden. I wish they had.
Eden heard me crying and came to give me a big hug.
The Cameron's know what it is to lose a child, and I'm glad they have their new baby Florence safe and well.
The newborn fog is clearing slowly, gradually being replaced by a sleepy haze, but that I think I can live with for a while anyway.
Ernest likes to sleep for about an hour,then wake for an hour throughout the night. That wouldn't be so hard going if he'd mastered breastfeeding, but when he wakes I have to pass him to Woody (who is not used to being woken at night by a baby) to feed him, while I pump for the next feed.(If only I had an extra pair of hands)
Ernest prefers me to feed him (with the bottle.) and so after pumping, he's passed back to me to finish the feed. I'll attempt to breastfeed (ever hopeful), then there's a nappy change, possibly another feed, a cuddle, and finally sleep, if we are very lucky a dream (breast) feed.
Our days too revolve around my pumping schedule..every two hours for about five to ten minutes.
The good news is,that I am very almost caught up with the whole "supply and demand" thing, and over the past two days Ernest has only had 30ml of the evil cow stuff.*
I could probably rant on and on about how thouroughly shitty it is not breastfeeding, (and I know Ernest is getting my milk, but I don't feel like I'm breastfeeding) and I expect it's a theme I'll be returning to lots, but for now let me just say that it breaks my heart when I'm feeding him from a bottle and I get a let down reflex.
Still, as Woody reminded me (not that I really needed reminding anyway) just a few short weeks ago I wasn't even sure Ernest would be here in my arms, and if I have to pump and feed him my milk that way that's just what I have to do.
I remember this time last year bargaining with the Universe, asking for Florence "Even if I've missed the first four weeks of her life", "Even if I can't breastfeed". I'd have had her back, and I still would.
The breastfeeding thing is still shit though, really really shit.
Oh yes, and the carrot flowers? With all the chaos of the past five weeks our carrots, and our salad all bolted,the slugs ate most of my flowers and the lawn is knee high!
* I don't use this term to offend any formula feeders out there, it's just my personal opinion.
I knew having another baby wasn't going to fix everything, I knew it was going to be hard. I've always known Ernest was never going to be Florence.They are two very seperate little people, and having Ernest here reminds me every day of everything I didn't know about Florence, everything I will never know.
I still feel such guilt and shame that Florence died, that somehow I let her down. I know logically that's not true, but I feel it. She grew inside me, I birthed her, and that's just how I feel.
Then there is the guilt that Ernest was birthed too soon, that because no one could guarantee he'd be born healthy if he went to term that it was safer to evict him three weeks early. That being early meant his jaundice was so bad and that he's struggled with breastfeeding.
He's gaining weight now, I can see him filling out, growing out of his first clothes, but that doesn't stop my mind occasionally wandering off. I catch myself wondering what clothes we'd bury him in if we had to, which toy we'd choose to put in his coffin....I guess that's normal for a babylost parent?
I've had moments where I've been convinced that Mother Nature/the universe/whatever was trying to take him away, why else would he be struggling so with breastfeeding?
I think I sound like a crazy lady. I met my health visitor a week or so ago, and she has that head tilt and look in her eyes like she thinks I'm crazy too, and I'm even careful what I say to her.
Maybe I sound ungrateful. I'm not, I'm very aware of just how lucky we are to have Ernest. He is a joy.
I'm just so scared for him. I'm not alone either. I wake up sometimes and Woody is leaning over Ernest and I, "just checking". Even the children worry. They ask questions I'm certain children who haven't cradled their dead sister in their arms don't ask.
I hold Ernest in my arms, or in the sling and I breath in his delicious scent, as deep as I can, trying to hold onto it. Florence never had time to smell so divine. I tried to smell her,but she was gone.
I can imagine the non babylost reading this and thinking poor Ernest is in the shadow of his dead sister. I guess he is, and will always be. There will always be his birthday followed by hers.This time of year will always be full of ghosts. I will always be sad. Ernest will only know the bereaved me, not the Mummy I was before.
I hope he'll always know just how precious he is to all of us though. I hope he'll know how special he is, and how loved he is for him.
While pumping this morning, this was my view. Perfect to get the oxytocin flowing and then the milk. x
I don't expect to be back to anything creative yet, quite honestly if I'm showered and dressed by lunch time these days it's a miracle. Goodness only knows how I'm going to cope in September when I have to be out of the house by 8.30!
I generally aim low, and at the end of each day count up the things I have achieved,(getting dressed for example ) and try not to think about the things I haven't, ignoring the dust bunnies and general crud building up around the house, anyway it's the summer holidays the house is meant to be a mess.
I'm lucky really that my big girls are willing to do some chores for small bribes...urmm I mean pocket money!
I have, however knitted a sleeve. Ernest was napping, and I was not attatched to the damn breast pump, and I actually knitted a whole sleeve, ok it was a whole baby sleeve, but a sleeve nonetheless. If I'm lucky I might finish the cardigan I started in hospital before it's too small for Ernest.
I had to put this vest on him this morning because I don't think it's going to fit for long.
Ernest is four weeks old today, and he's actually grown out of something..two little t shirts to be precise. They are washed and folded neatly.
Four weeks and I'm really behind with thank yous. We've had so many lovely cards and gifts arrive over the past few weeks, and I've sent some email thank yous, but still not printed out and sent any cards. Gosh, I've not even had time to send my computer less Mother any photos yet...sorry Mum! (Even though you can't see this.)
So, if you've sent a card or a gift please know it's been greatly appreciated, and I will get around to saying thank you properly just as soon as I can. Meanwhile I hope you'll accept this bloggy thank you.
We had decided at my 36 week appointment that 37 weeks would be a good time to induce labour. My doctor even suggested that we could induce right away, but that I would need to have steroid injections to give baby boy's lungs a little help if we did. I didn't want to do that, so we set a date for 15th July, with close monitoring until then.
A year previously I never thought I'd be discussing induction of labour, or even contemplating a hospital birth, but when you birth a baby and then that baby dies, and no one really knows why, a lot of things you never thought you'd be doing become reality.
My doctor held my hand as I sobbed “I just think every kick might be his last, and there are no guarantees, and I'm trying to be logical...”
15th July came around, India went off to school as usual,Woody and the younger children dropped me at the hospital at 8.30am, and then Woody took the children to school before coming back to the hospital to keep me company.
I was being induced on the delivery suite as I was considered “high risk”. When Woody arrived I was still in the waiting room. There was another woman waiting with her husband and friend. They were chatting excitedly, but she looked nearly as scared as me.
I was trying not to listen to their loud chatter, especially when the conversation turned to a relative whose baby was stillborn.
Eventually we were shown to a tiny room, with horrid dark blue painted walls,a shared bathroom and a view of a brick wall. This was my cell for the next two days!
I'd decided a week earlier that the only way to get through the induction and birth was to tuck Florence away in a cosy part of my brain for a while. She'd surface often, but was tucked away again before I could really start to think.
I had one dose of prostin gel on that first day, Woody and I half expected things to happen pretty quickly, and my midwife, Mary (who had gone on call for me) had warned all the delivery staff that I'm a slow burner, but when I go it's fast, so they were all on alert.
Woody and I walked around the hospital, we drank tea,I bounced on my ball, and I began knitting a cardigan for baby boy (in some gorgeous Noro I'd bought in a sale), hoping he'd arrive before I could finish it. (it's still unfinished)
When it was clear by tea time that nothing much was happening, Woody went home to check on the children who were being looked after by his father and step mother.
While he was gone, Mary kept me company, and told me that the doctors were reluctant to give me another dose of prostin to work overnight and thought a sweep might get things going, and if possible they might break my waters. She said she was going to go home for her tea, but a sweep might work fast, and she wanted to be ready to catch a baby.
Mary and her colleague waited for Woody to return before doing the sweep. Baby boy was too high to break the waters, so it was decided to let me rest. Woody went home, and I tried to settle down for the evening.
My yoga teacher had talked me through using Emotional Freedom Technique, and I found this invaluable that night, it really helped me to calm my nerves about impending labour.
The next morning Mary arrived early, she was popping off on her rounds of home visits, but was on call to come back to me any time. I was so reassured to know she was there for me.
My bereavement midwife also came to say hello and give me a hug.
I did feel very well taken care of, all of the staff on the delivery suite were great.
The second dose of prostin gel was inserted that morning, and that meant more walking, more bouncing on the ball, more knitting...but not much of anything else.
Actually I was having fairly strong contractions, but nothing I couldn't live with. Mary joked with me about how tough I am. She'd look at the monitor and say “Jeanette can you feel that one?”, and I'd reply “yes, but it's nothing.”
That afternoon I decided I'd better update a couple of close friends who I knew by now might be panicking, so texted to let them know all was well. Throughout the entire induction process baby boy's heartbeat was steady, he was obviously calm and happy.
I also took myself off to the beach. One of my favourite relaxations at yoga had been the beach meditations, and my yoga teacher had given me copies of the beach soundtrack, so I popped on my headphones and went off to the beach.
My beach is Christians beach, it's sunset, and I'm walking barefoot in the surf, in the distance I can see my Dad and he's holding Florence in his arms, showing her the sea and the sunset. I see they are happy together. I don't try to reach them, I know I can't. I sit down on the sand and feel the warmth of the sun and the breeze on my skin, and I listen to the waves.
Around tea time the doctors decide it's time to break my waters, it's painful and I'm surprised Mary had any hand left I squeezed it so hard.(I also used the golden thread breathing technique I'd learned at yoga to get through all the examinations I had.) The doctor thinks there is meconium in the waters, but Mary (my midwife) and I disagree, as I'd been having a show of similar consistency for a couple of days. He agrees but doesn't want to take any chances and wants me monitored throughout labour. Baby boy's heartbeat was still very stable, and the doctor did say he thought it might be old meconium if it was at all, but I guess my history meant he was being super careful.
We braced ourselves for action stations once my waters broke, but again nothing much happened, a few fairly erratic strong contractions that I was starting to need to breath through , but it was decided that the syntocinon drip was our next step.
Mary wrapped a blanket around me and we moved to the delivery room, a lovely light airy room with a view over the town and off in the peak district.
I remember saying that I felt a bit silly in my big pink knickers with my dress tucked into my bra, and the monitor strapped to my belly, and Mary telling me not to be so daft.
I parked myself on the birthing ball and waited for the drip to be set up. This was when I had a brief little cry, and wondered out loud how I'd ended up here, strapped to monitors and drips instead of safe at home, but then I knew exactly how.
As soon as the drip was in place things got pretty serious, I was quickly having very regular very intense contractions. I was coping with my yoga breathing, but Mary pointed out where the gas and air was if I decided I needed it.
I was alternating between the birthing ball and standing rocking my hips at this point.
I needn't have worried about staying mobile, Mary made sure I was mobile despite the monitor and drip. She had Woody hold the monitor in place throughout.
The contractions were very intense, and after a while I decided to try some gas and air. I'd forgotten just how bloomin lovely that stuff is! Although my yoga breathing was great at breathing out the pain, the gas and air just took that edge off and made everything a bit more comfortable. I was giggling to myself as I could hear my yoga teachers voice in my head “breath out to prepare for gas and air” !
I was getting tired standing, so asked Mary if we could pull the bed out and I could kneel on the bed leaning over the back, as I remembered that was how I laboured with Eden, my last hospital birth eleven years ago.
There was a bit of a muddle while furniture was rearranged, but it all worked out, and I could rest between contractions over the back of the bed.
More confusion followed when I decided I needed a wee, and trailed off to the loo with Mary and Woody in tow holding the drip and monitor.
I had two awful contractions in the loo without the lovely gas and air, and buried my face in Mary's shoulder breathing through them before heading back to the bed and my previous position.
I vaguely remember Mary joking with Woody about what a lightweight I was with the gas and air, and how she could tell I wasn't much of a drinker.
I also remember thinking I could feel baby boy moving down into my pelvis, and Woody panicking because he'd lost the heartbeat on the monitor, and Mary telling him she thought baby boy had moved down.
Then I could feel him crowning, and I knew this was it. I started shouting “Come on baby, come on baby!” Three contractions and he was out, pink and screaming.
Mary helped me turn around and pick him up. He was so tiny, and so pink, and so cross!
I think I said to Woody “he's alive, he's here, he's alive”. Woody was grinning and saying “yes yes yes”.
Ernest George was born at 9.10pm on 16th July 2010 after a I hour and 45 minute labour.
Woody helped take my dress off and I held our baby boy Ernest skin to skin.
Mary said we both looked shell shocked. We were, and probably still are to a certain extent.
After the placenta was delivered, Woody and I were left alone with Ernest for some bonding time, before being settled in on the maternity ward for the night.
Woody went home around 1am. I spent the night just staring at Ernest and watching the dawn break over the hills in the distance.
Ernest is very almost back to his birthweight, so my midwife has just said goodbye. I gave her a little gift but told her not to open it until she got home because I might cry.
She lives close by, I'm bound to see her around and about and I've told her she's always welcome for a cuppa, but I'm going to miss her.
She is always going to be a very special person to our family, she knew Florence, she caught her with Woody and she held her in the ambulance, stayed with me at the hospital, and has been a wonderful support to us over the past year.
She has held my hand through difficult appointments, and had her hands squeezed to mush through some horrible examinations. She's been a shoulder to cry on, and someone I've never had to explain too much to, she just knows.
I'm lucky to have had her help me birth two of my beautiful children.
I've been thinking a lot about goodbyes. A year ago yesterday we went to the funeral home to say goodbye to Florence.I remember so vividly how she looked, and how cold her little hands were, and how I wanted to scoop her up and run away with her.
Tomorrow it will be a year since her funeral. I hope the sun shines tomorrow like it did last year.We miss her so much.
I just wish I could have Florence here with Ernest, but I could never have both.
I had to seperate Florence away, put her in a little cosy corner of my mind, while I dealt with the physicality of being induced and giving birth. I allowed myself one weakness as Ernest was crowning, and cried out for him, "Come on Baby!".
He arrived and I was in shock, I didn't sleep for two days afraid he'd be gone any second.
Then, before I could start to breath again we were in hospital on her day, no space for tears, Ernest needed me strong.
Another hospital stay, more blood tests, bloody breastfeeding shit, pumping and bottles and just well shit, but I still can't cry. I can't scream and shout and smash things up because I've got to be bloody brave (I hate that word!)and I've got to get through all this, and I will too, I have to.
I just need to stamp my feet a little, let it out just a little then put the lid on as tight as I can.
I just want to breastfeed, and maybe then I can cry for what can never be. x
Ernest has been with us to visit Florence twice now. I guess it'll be very normal for him to visit his big sister he never knew.
Yesterday he slept cosied up in his car seat while I arranged Florence's roses.
He was sleeping off another hospital visit.
The tongue snip went very well, but more blood samples and general messing about was more than either of us could stand.
There are no miracles yet, but we remain hopeful.
He has at least gained some weight, so things are looking up.
Today I have that horrible nervous tumbling inside. It's weighing day and it's tongue snipping day.
Oh how I hate those scales, the way his tiny pink body reacts to the cold plastic and he flings out his arms instinctively. The dread in the pit of my stomach as I wait for the digital readout to settle.
I can hear my voice in my head from the old me, waffling something about "watching the baby not the scales", but the truth is he lost a *lot* of weight. (I stopped remembering after the first 1lb).
My poor wee baby was only getting enough calories to keep himself alive. I'm ashamed I didn't notice. The shock that he was here and alive was clouding my vision.
The shock is slowly lifting, and I even found myself looking forward the other day.Only into next month, and only for a moment, but I told Woody and he said he'd done the same thing too, for the first time since Florence was born.
Yesterday we managed to fit a walk in the park into our pumping and feeding schedule. We went to a local National Trust park. (We promised the big ones ice cream.)
I wasn't prepared for the smiles and admiring looks and comments and questions from passers by as they spotted Ernest snuggled in his sling.
I felt so exposed and so close to tears, they can't see Florence, they can't see all that has gone before, all that brought this beautiful baby to us. Why should they?
Oh my goodness, how that hurts though. I can't even really explain how.
All I know is I wanted to just hold him even tighter, and shield him from the world.
Before we left the park,I breastfed Ernest in the car and then he needed his bottle of mama milk, and I hid below the dashboard. I didn't want anyone to see I was bottlefeeding.
I am ashamed that we are struggling, and I know that I shouldn't be. Lots of people struggle, and there's no shame in that, but I do feel like I'm failing at something I was always so very good at.
Maybe it's the hormones, or maybe it's the shadow of a dead baby, but it's shame I feel.
I guess I just have to feel it and then let it go, and get on with dealing with the problem.
The tongue snip is this afternoon. I'm hoping for the miracle feeding solution I keep reading about, but I'm realistic. Ernest's tongue tie is not severe, but it's impacting enough to cause problems, so the snip is advised.
I can hope though, right?
Hope has kept me going this past year. x