So Christmas was a wonderful blur. Rafe was spoilt rotten and we had a lovely time with family and catching up with friends. He didn't have a clue what was going on but loved being shoved in a Christmas outfit everyday....It was such a notable difference for me though - obviously. There were no late nights, or hangovers - or singing All I want for Christmas is You badly after a bottle of wine. (Those were the days.) And I did feel a little sorry for myself when Rafe was still feeding so I told people to start Christmas dinner without me and I heard clinking of glasses and everyone saying 'Merry Christmas!' as I was trying to shove a boob into a very fussy baby. (Another wonder week). But next Christmas I'll start on the wine before Santa comes so it's okay. Unless as my MIL said: "You may have another one by then." HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.
And we'll leave it at that.
But it really was an extra special Christmas and it's crazy to think that this time last year, Rafe was just a twinkle in his dad's eye so to speak. 🙈 Rafe got some lovely presents, one of my favourites’ was from my SIL. She made a box with quotes around the side, one included: "Children are made readers on the laps of their parents." And inside was the full collection of The Chronicles of Narnia, Winnie the Pooh and Beatrix Potter. Made me quite emotional.
I genuinely don't know what day it is most days due to exhaustion but Christmas has made it worse. I knew I'd hit an exhaustion wall when it took me five attempts to put my knickers on. I kept putting them on back to front until in the end I had to have a word with myself. "For fuck sake woman - pull yourself together." Then the following night I put Rafe's baby grow on the wrong way (legs in arms and arms in legs). And because it's Christmas I really wanted to try and stay up past 10pm. Managed one night so felt hardcore but regretted it immediately when Rafe woke up not long after I'd dozed off. I think your body gets used to the exhaustion in a way but then there are some days when you just can't quite put your kickers on the right way. Remember lie-ins? And sleeping eight glorious uninterrupted hours? Yup, me either.....
Talking about exhaustion - I have to talk about the fear of waking your sleeping baby. That feeling deep in your stomach when you're about to doze off as you think you've got him to sleep then PING. He's wide-awake. HIYA MUM. I feel like I have become pretty skilled at getting Rafe down with absolute silence. Although the other day, after bath time and boobie time, Rafe was zonked out after an unsettled hour. I'd managed to put him in his sleeping bag without waking him (an amazing invention but getting one on without waking up your baby should be an Olympic sport) and I popped him on my chest as a shuffled down the bed, avoiding all my pillows, like a fucking ninja. Put him down, looked up to God and mouthed - THANK YOU, then turned around and kicked a bag full of clothes that were under the bed. TING. Wide-wake. Cue sobbing in the corner of the room - from me, not Rafe. I think it's different when you wake the baby up by accident but God help if somebody else does it. I thought pregnancy rage was bad but 'little sleep for mum rage' is a different level. It's been like Grand Central station at my parent's house over Christmas and the other night around midnight I was woken up by my dad's snoring which I genuinely think could be used as a repetitive noise in getting SAS soldiers to break under pressure. Then my brother and his girlfriend were only brushing their teeth but it sounded like they were having a mini rave in the bathroom. Then the sheer panic/rage came. I knew Rafe was close to waking for a feed and was desperate for a few extra winks. Only thing on par with never waking a sleeping baby is waking a new mum who hasn't slept in three months. So I did what any normal person would do and that was to mutter "are they fucking kidding me?" under my breath and imagine going into the kitchen in the morning and grabbing some pots and pans, banging them together while screaming LALALALA, just to make sure they are woken up. Thankfully Rafe was zonked out. And I think my poor husband was just thankful my rage wasn't directed at him for once. Until the morning when he was banging around the bedroom trying to find gym clothes. "If you wake him up I will fucking kill you." Nothing too drastic. Or this is the best one. I get Rafe settled finally, start walking downstairs to see my brother turn on the HOOVER. The hoover!!!! And he woke Rafe up. So I grabbed him by the hair like we were five again. It worked. So basically if you wake me or Rafe up I will end you.
Rafe's been going through his third development leap called 'the world of smooth transitions' (check out the wonder weeks app/book - fascinating) which has meant he has been extra fussy but he's coming on so well and managed to hold his head up on his own the other day. And grab a rattle. It's amazing how proud you feel! He's becoming a proper little person - who still hates naps. But I just bloody love him. His smiles literally are the best thing in the world. And my favourite thing is in the morning when he wakes and you go over to see him, he does the cutest little smile you have ever seen.
As I mentioned in my previous post - Rafe saw a consultant at the Freeman Hospital on Friday. She said that it is still borderline whether he needs surgery but will see him again in two months. The hole is 4mm but she said he is safe and reassured us to have a good New Year and it was good news that she was not referring him for emergency surgery. I still got upset as it's just such a worry but trying to remain positive. He's putting on weight (12Ib 2oz) and is alert (loves to wriggle and keeps kicking his legs) and you wouldn't think he was poorly. So just need to think of the positives - rather than dwell on the fact he may need surgery. And once again he was a trooper being poked and prodded by the doctor and charmed the nurses with his smile. Thank you so much for all your well wishes - means so much.
So wanting to end on a positive! I can't believe we are about to go into 2018 - how fast has this year gone?! I still can't quite believe we made a baby - and he's here! What a year. They say becoming a mum is the most amazing, rewarding job in the world - but it's the toughest. And I couldn't agree more. So looking forward to the little fella reaching new milestones and sharing with you all along the way. So Happy New Year to you all - please have a drink for me!! xxx
My friend put it perfectly when she said: "When you have a baby you realise how much you hate your husband....a little." I hear you! Case in point: Husband comes in the other day after staying on camp as was boozing till 4am. Rafe had been fussy all morning, I'd not had a shower and had scared the Avon lady half to death when I went to the door looking like Hagrid with nappies down my top (to prevent leaking - not a fashion statement) and Rafe was due a feed but just wanted to scream. Husband smells like a stale pub floor and he asks: "Will you go get me a KFC?" ERM Sorry what? "I just thought you might want to get out the house while I look after the dog and Rafe - it's a nice gesture." OH WOW. THANK YOU! I'd love to spend any free time I have driving to KFC. Jog on pet. Know what I mean now? Teeny bit of hate.
So we moved back to the North East on the weekend. Was slightly stressful but my dad was a hero and helped us move. The car journey wasn't too bad. Just had to stop a couple of times to feed Rafe in the back of the car. Only ended up flashing my boobs to a handful of lorry drivers so it was a good day. I think Rafe got motion sickness or was really unsettled as that evening he projectile vomited for the first time all over Chris. 🙈 Was so sad to leave Arbroath as had such an amazing time there and met some lovely people. It will always hold a special place in my heart as it was our first married home and of course where Rafe was born. We are staying with my parents until we save some money and find a house. They are thrilled to have their Grandson and our dog stay with them - not so excited about me I think....🙈We've been away for so long it still hasn't hit me we are staying for good. So used to thinking we have a few days to rush around and see as many people as possible and then leave. So It's just lovely to be back in Geordieland!
I had my haircut on Tuesday. It was so good to feel almost human again. I was a bit traumatised as had to get quite a bit taken off as my hair is falling out and keeps getting matted. Another delightful thing to deal with postpartum. Apparently it will get worse when I stop breastfeeding - the joys. I was quite anxious as it was the longest I had left Rafe and although it was only for a few hours I missed him. But at the same time, it was so nice to get pampered and have a good gossip. And to not look like I'd been dragged through a hedge backwards - like I do most days. After I scared the Avon lady the other day (no joke - I went to the door and told her to wait as needed to grab keys but when I got back she was half way up the street 😂) I thought I best look in the mirror. The person that looked back at me I barely recognised. I had one eyebrow. My hair looked like straw and was matted on the top of my head. I had two nappies stuffed into a stained with milk nursing top I'd had on for days. The hairs on my chin that appeared when I was pregnant (cheers hormones) were still there. (How am I still married?) My legs were as hairy as my husband's. My grey hair could give Philip Schofield a run for his money. My tummy still looked like a bag of sand. I had bags under my eyes and blotchy skin. I basically looked like shit. People say you need to look after yourself once baby arrives but you are the bottom of your priority list. I haven't the energy to shave my legs. The few times I've worn makeup felt like an epic to do. I've never been one to wear makeup everyday but I did enjoy getting dressed up for a night out. Getting dressed up now is washing and brushing my hair. But I must say, it felt so good to get my hair done. Just need to take a lawnmower to my legs, get waxed, fix my eyebrows, pluck my chin (FML) and wear a top that doesn't open at the front or sides and I will be me again. Oh and to lose another stone and a half. (Diet starts after Christmas obviously.) Although my mum did tell me I have lost weight - well she said I didn't have a fat face anymore so good to know I had a fat face before. Cheers mum.
We have an appointment at the Freeman Hospital next Friday to find out more about the hole in Rafe's heart. I feel worried but glad we get to speak to a consultant before the New Year so I will keep you updated.
This will be my last post before Christmas (how fast has this year gone?) so just wanted to wish you all a Merry Christmas. Hope you all have a great one and eat as much as I plan to do. And please get drunk for me! (He still won't take a bottle 😩) So excited for our first family Christmas with the little one - makes my favourite time of year even more special.
I had a clogged milk duct this week which was a joy. The last one I had I was able to massage out but this was a stubborn motherfucker. So I was panicking thinking it could get infected, trying all sorts. Massage, hot compress...then I read on a forum for mums that if you get on all fours and dangle your boob in baby's mouth to nurse - gravity will help out. No joke. Well I tried it. For a few minutes...but one, I haven't exercised in over two months so how on earth someone can hold their body like that, while holding their breast in place is a hero or an Olympian. Two, it feels ridiculous - especially when your baby is looking at you with a slightly traumatised look and your husband is laughing beside you and taking photos. And three - I REALLY felt like a cow. Did it work? Well I managed five minutes and my husband got a good fifty photos. I mean if it's worked for you - great - but I think I might give that mum's forum a miss from now on....
As well as milk duct drama, which is still on going to be honest, (Please can I get some advice on how to get these out and prevent them? So painful at the moment. I think it's because Rafe is going longer in the night some nights, but then up all night the next few nights so my boobs don't know what's going on. So I have confused boobs as my SIL put it. Really suffering today and currently lying down with a hot water bottle on my boob. Really REALLY don't want to get mastitis - help!!!) we've been going through a Wonder Week. Signs your baby is going through this include - Clinginess, Crankiness and Crying. So really great stuff. Let me tell you there's nothing fucking wonderful about them. Okay, I take that back as it means Rafe has reached a milestone and a leap forward in his development. He's been smiling away, kicking his little legs all day long. Honestly melts my heart. But along with that he's been extremely whiny - especially on the boob. Crying, coming off, crying. Won't be put down. No naps during the day. Just pretty exhausting really. I downloaded the Wonder Week app which is great as tells you all about your baby's development and what to expect. Good news...There are also sunny weeks apparently! I can't wait for those...I'm hoping him not going down for a nap is just due to his leap in development but would appreciate any help to get him down. We've normally been letting him sleep downstairs but want to try and get into a routine (wishful thinking) and get him upstairs for nap time. I'm looking for the signs (yawning, rubbing eyes), shushing him, putting him down but as soon as he's down he's wide awake. Just won't settle at all. So at night he's a treat. So overtired and difficult to settle. I literally have been putting my head into the pillow and screaming. Dramatic I know.
My husband and I had our first date night since Rafe arrived. I say date and I say night but it was three hours in the afternoon between feeds. It's been tough on us both these past few weeks and with not living close to our parents, we haven't had time to slip away for an hour or so to spend time on our own. In the nine weeks since Rafe has graced this earth, we've been out for a 45-minute walk together alone - and a trip to the supermarket. So wild. And real quality time together. It sounds silly to say this but we both miss each other. And I should be and I am so so so grateful I've had him home as he was due to be away for the first six weeks, which would have been a laugh a minute. But I hardly see him. He'll go to work and then as soon as he gets in, I'll go out with the dog for a quick walk and a break. Then I'll try and eat something before bath time depending on whether Rafe needs feeding again. Chris normally does bath time while I get my pj's on and sorted for the evening feeds. Rafe is still feeding constantly from about 6.30 to between 8-9pm. I used to sit in darkness to try and keep everything quiet and calm for Rafe but then I think I started to lose the plot a little. So I put my headphones on and watch Netflix. A whole new meaning to Netflix and chill. Once Rafe has had enough, Chris then comes up to wind and settle him while I try and either eat or have a cup of tea downstairs. Then I try and stay up but I'm normally so tired I head to bed. Chris will stay in our room till the first night feed and then go into the other room to get some sleep if he's got work the next day. So I don't think we've had a proper conversation or chill out time in a long time to be honest. I really miss our evenings on the sofa watching crap TV. You really don't realise how much a baby will impact even the smallest of things (sofa time) - and the biggest, (your marriage). My whole focus is Rafe which I know is Chris's too but it can be quite all consuming for the mum I think. Well for me anyway. Not in a bad way but like nobody else really matters. Sometimes I'm having conversation with someone and won't even be listening because I'll be thinking about Rafe's next feed, how he's slept, my confused boobs. Even when we were out I was worrying about him. But had a lovely meal which we hoovered up in seconds and wait for it.....I had my first glass of wine!!!!! PRAISE THE LORD. After a lot of research and talking to other mums who have breastfed, I know one glass will not do any harm as long as I spaced it out between feeds and I wasn't eye balling vodka or having tequila shots (the dream). Did I enjoy it? Yes - and no. I was so worried (still) about having just one that I didn't finish it and drank four pints of water alongside it. 😂 So a really relaxing glass of wine. Just what I needed....The quicker he can try and take a bottle of my expressed milk the better. But he just out right refuses a bottle. (Give me a break son!) But getting back to the date afternoon - it was lovely. Just can't quite remember the times where we'd be doing nothing on a Friday night, chilling on the sofa and turn to each other and say shall we go out? Then regret going out the next day as I wake up with crisp packets on my face and a hangover from hell - those were the glory days.
Finally, enough of my moaning - or shall we just say honesty...? Had such an amazing response to my last blog about breastfeeding. Reading all your comments made me quite emotional. Just so good to know people can relate to what I'm writing and hopefully I am helping in some way. But if any of you can solve my milk duct, non-napping baby who won't take a bottle and reassure me one glass of wine is okay - that would be great!
So after eight weeks of literally BLOOD, SWEAT AND TEARS, breastfeeding has finally clicked. But it's been an uphill battle and still has its moments. And for me, I just wish I'd known the reality of breastfeeding when I was pregnant. The exhaustion. The tears. The pain. Wanting to give up. And it wasn't about being discouraged, but just so I didn't feel so shell-shocked - or lonely - or just totally overwhelmed. So what do I wish I'd known?
When I was crying uncontrollably (or ugly crying) in the night during week one when the little one wouldn't latch on, breastfeeding 'clicking' felt like an impossible task. Like maybe it will never click for me. Maybe I wasn't meant to breastfeed. Maybe I just hate it. And it's been hard - with many moments of wanting to give up. But with a lot of encouragement (thank you friends, family and readers of my blog ❤️) and a slight obsession to keep going, we got there. So if you're reading this and you're at the ugly crying stage - hang on in there - it does get better. You'll still be exhausted and not know your own name some days - I can't promise miracles. But you'll get there. And your nipples will survive - although may never look the same again. Jury is out on that one. It's been such a struggle for me as you've all read. By far the most challenging thing I've ever done. And it still has its moments. Like being poorly and breastfeeding - not fun. I've had a head cold since Rafe got out of hospital. Been slightly paranoid about Rafe getting poorly again so actually been walking around with a surgical paper mask over my face. Yes - I know. Madness. I've been needing to rest as much as possible but it's been hard when I need to feed Rafe every two hours. I was so poorly one day I literally couldn't lift my head off the pillow but had to, and I feel bad saying it but I dreaded having to breastfeed. But my husband has been a great help (as always) just wish we'd introduced a bottle (of expressed milk) sooner but being in hospital has set us back. I really wanted to give up this week but didn't want to make the decision when ill.
So take away being poorly - it's still been difficult. Although people have contacted me now to talk about their struggles which has been great as it makes you realise you're not alone, I wish I'd known how hard it would be when I was pregnant. I know nothing can really prepare you but just so I had an idea. In one of the antenatal classes on infant feeding - and this is nothing against midwives, they're amazing, I just wish I'd had more info. We were given a doll and told a good way for baby to latch on, the huge benefits of breastfeeding and how it was easier and cheaper than bottle feeding. I just wish I'd been told that some people (not everyone) really struggle - for up to 12 weeks or more, to really get the hang of it. And then instead of just leaving it at that, go into more detail on some of the struggles you may face. Not to scare - to prepare. That should be the new breastfeeding slogan! This is what I would have told myself from my own experience....
I really could go on and on....
I think a turning point for me was when Rafe was being tube fed, I kept worrying he would struggle to feed on the breast and I wouldn't be able to feed him myself and that made me so sad. I really missed nursing him. So knowing I missed it, I knew then that breastfeeding was something I really wanted to do and I just needed to persevere. I think you really need to be able to make an informed choice either way and not be made to feel guilty whatever you decide. Although a lot of my guilt and pressure has come from me. It's difficult as I don't quite know who can tell women about the true reality of breastfeeding (me!) but they need to know it can be very hard - and you're not alone - you may struggle for weeks and that's okay. It's not about putting people off breastfeeding - I hope I'm not doing that. At the end of the day, I'm still going after all the many tears and hurdles along the way! I just hope I can help those who are on day 5 at 3am struggling to get their baby to latch on and feeling alone, or they've had a day of non-stop cluster feeding – to know that it's normal to feel like that/go through that stage - but it does get easier and better. Just takes practice - and a hell of a lot of nipple cream.
I just wanted to also thank everyone for the kind messages of love and support while Rafe's been in hospital. He's back to his milk monstering self and is smiling and cooing away which is just a blessing. A bit of a waiting game until his next consultant appointment about his heart but trying to remain positive.
Much love x
Royal Marine Wife. Mum to Rafe.