A little trip to the hospital

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I was hoping that my next post was continuing from the last but that was before Elbie decided to get sick.

Elbie’s sleeping habits over night are pretty terrible if I’m putting it politely but Tuesday night was particularly bad. It’s not unusual for her to wake every hour but at least she will last until 6am. So she did her usual waking every hour, hideous I know (that routine I was previously talking about isn’t working out for us so far), but then did not go back to sleep after waking at 3am. As you can imagine I was not much impressed with her alertness at this ungodly hour but I did what any mother would do. I dragged myself downstairs, child in one arm and eye rubbing with the other hand muttering to myself how tired I was as if someone somewhere would feel sorry for me. Elbie can nearly always be nursed to sleep so I thought that this was what was going to happen and eventually we could head back up and catch some more Zs. Instead of falling back to sleep though I found myself dealing with a monster code brown which required a full strip and bath. Though unusual for Elbie to create such a mess over night she seemed fine and enjoyed her 4am bath.

Later in the morning I could see Elbie was getting tired and was rubbing her eyes which made me very happy as I knew that was also my cue for a nap. We headed upstairs and I put her in her cot and I laid down on the sofa bed next to her. The moment my head hit the pillow which was bliss for all of a millisecond I heard Elbie be sick. It’s funny how fast you can move once becoming a parent, I even surprised myself. As I went to pick her up vomit came out of her like a space rocket and covered her, her cot and me. She looked a bit startled but otherwise fine. I began the clear up process and laid her down. This was where things changed. She looked at me and started to make a strange gurgling noise so I instantly picked her up so that she was upright and she started retching up bile, this happened a few more times so I picked up my phone shaking and trying to stay calm. Eddie was sick a few weeks ago, people get sick all of the time and it’s horrible but it is OK. I would not have needed to tell myself to stay calm if anyone else was being sick, it’s part of my job after all. I would make a pretty crappy nurse if I panicked every time someone was vomiting. But this was my baby. My tiny precious baby who had never been unwell before and couldn’t protect her airway or tell me if she felt dehydrated. I called our GP and made an appointment. They were very good and managed to find me a slot straight away. Elbie continued to vomit bile every 5-10 minutes and when I put her down to get dressed myself she suddenly became very drowsy and limp. This was when I dialled 999. Calling an ambulance is not something I would do lightly but I was not going to take any risks with my baby’s health. I held her close keeping a constant eye and reassuring her while I waited for the paramedics. They were with us in minutes. By this point Elbie seemed to have stopped vomiting and had her eyes open more although still very flat. I instantly felt silly for calling an ambulance out as to anyone else she probably looked fine, they don’t know what her personality is usually like and to them this could be the norm. She even gave them a smile. They were incredible and very thorough with assessing her and told me that I had done the right thing. I had done the right thing, I wouldn’t have done anything differently and right then she started the retching again. Although I didn’t want Elbie to be sick I was glad that she had done it in front of the paramedics so that they could see. It was heartbreaking watching her little body curl but she was so brave and didn’t cry once, I think that may have been due to exhaustion more than bravery but I will stick with it. Anyway off we went in the back of the ambulance and this was where mummy had to try to not be sick!

I knew that Elbie was unwell and needed medical observation which was why we were taken in but I also knew that nothing was seriously wrong with her. At this point I knew all I could do was cuddle her. The innate feeling of protection over your child is almost overwhelming and something I have never experienced before having Elbie. While my nurses hat stayed on my motherly instincts were most definitely ruling that day.

After 4 hours of observation and keeping her feed down we were allowed to come back home where we had lots of snuggles and kisses. I can’t thank the paramedics, doctors and nurses enough for their kindness and dedication to their jobs. They were all fantastic and made me so proud to be a nurse and part of the NHS.

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Dear Elbie #3

Dear Elbie,

Today has been a bit of a roller coaster and if I’m honest you scared the shit out of daddy and I. Sorry for swearing chicken but that is exactly what you did. You had a very unsettled night and had me up at 3am including the need for a bath at 4am but I now know why. You were poorly.

 
You got to experience your first ambulance ride this morning but also hopefully your last. You managed to fall asleep on me in the back of the ambulance and I couldn’t take my eyes off you. I knew you were going to be OK and that it wasn’t anything serious but I had this overwhelming feeling of love and the need to protect you. You are so tiny and vulnerable and so unbelievably reliant on us which both fill me with terror and pride at the same time. You are our whole world and here you were all snuggled in my lap exhausted and sick. All I wanted was to have the ability to take it away and make you better but all I could offer you were safe arms to hold you in and a whole lot of love. I’m hoping this was enough and the paramedics, doctors and nurses picked up the rest.

 
You are now home and I am feeling extremely grateful. Tonight you are going to be smothered with kisses and cuddles whether you like it or not.

 
Love mummy xx

Dear Elbie #2

​Dear Elbie,

Well today has been an eventful day for you and a day of twos. Firstly I must show you my appreciation for napping for two hours this morning. Plus you only woke me up every two hours over night rather than your recent hourly awakenings. So thank you. Of course daddy thinks this is down to him as he looked after and fed you last night. I’m hoping it’s the start of something new.

Now for the main events of the day. Today you learnt two new skills which you have tirelessly been trying to master. 

Skill number one – I’m not entirely sure we can call it a skill but we will anyway. You worked out that you can put your toes into your mouth and suck on them like a lollypop. This is very cute and impressive all at the same time. 

Skill number two – you rolled from your back to your front, not just once but twice and with no assistance. I squealed and you just smiled at me. Then looking very pleased with yourself you stayed on your front and continued to play with Rhonda Rabbit. 

What a clever girl. Two skills in one day. Maybe all this development will tire you out and you will sleep well tonight? We will see…

Well done you.

Love mummy xx

Combination feeding

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I could write a thousand posts on “mum guilt” and I probably will, as it is something that I feel most days. Ranging from feeling guilty that I have left her nappy on for an hour or two too long, to having a pang of guilt because I haven’t looked at her in five minutes to take in how beautiful she is. Mum guilt is everywhere. It particularly comes into play when it comes to feeding.

I have been exclusively breastfeeding for four months now and planned to do so until Elbie was at least six months old. This for me was not due to the pressures put on by society and all of the midwife advice we were constantly been given but because as parents this was what we decided we wanted to do, or so we thought. I am a nurse and I do strongly believe that breast is best, that is what we have boobs for right? Although when I was pregnant I said that when the time came we would try to breastfeed but if for some reason we couldn’t then so be it, we had tried. I also felt very strongly and still do, that as a woman it is our right to decide which way to feed our babies and no one should ever make us feel guilty about our choices. After all we are all just trying to do the best for our little munchkins. So why did I have a massive surge of mum guilt when Eddie and I discussed the idea of combination feeding?! It’s not like we had decided to start starving our child or force feed her poison, we were toying with the idea of giving her a different source of nutrient. If I’m honest I’m not sure why I feel guilty. Is it solely because I feel like I have broken a promise of feeding until at least six months or is it because of other pressures put on by society? Most likely though it is a bit of both.

I recently read a couple of articles that were published in the Guardian about the UK having the lowest breast feeding rates in the world. With figures published in the Lancet showing that just 0.5% of British children are breastfed until the age of 12 months compared to 98% of Scandinavian countries. That is a massive difference! They went on to discuss that some of the possible reasons for this is that although we are told breast is best there is actually little out there to support women to breastfeed. The public are also not keen on seeing women breast feed in public which to me is completely absurd. I have to say if anyone tried to tell me not to breastfeed in public they will wish that they have never said anything at all. I feel very strongly about being able to feed your baby wherever they need feeding but that is for another post. We live in Brighton so I think we are slightly shielded to the rest of the country as we are lucky enough to live in a very open minded city but I think it is actually the opposite here, you might get a funny look if you weren’t breastfeeding. Along with the reasons above there is also the added pressures of trying to form a routine (we all know about that) and to feed at certain times of the day which is difficult when breastfeeding. There are a multitude of reasons why women decide to not breastfeed their babies or combination feed and no which way is right or wrong.

With all of this in mind and my nagging mum guilt I brought up the topic with a few of my mummy friends who all said without doubt that I was being ridiculous and should do whatever was best for us a family. Of course I already knew this and probably would have still gone ahead anyway but a part of me needed approval from my peers. Silly I know. We have now started to introduce the odd bottle of formula here and there for Elbie and my guilt has subsided because I know she is a healthy happy baby getting all the right stuff that she needs to grow up to be a super strong big human. I havent discussed the reasons why we wanted to start combination feeding so in my next post I will explain this.

Pressures around feeding are so strong even when you think you are resistant to it but at the end of the day as long as my baby is healthy that is all that matters. So say good bye to mum guilt, for now anyway.

 

Dear Elbie #1

Dear Elbie,

This is the first of hopefully many letters to you. One day you will be old enough to read through all of your letters along with this blog. Sometimes I’m sure you will be embarrassed but most of all I hope they will fill you with all of the love that I have for you.

Right now you are one day off from being four months old! Where has the time gone? It feels like it was only yesterday that we were bringing you, a tiny little bundle home from the hospital in the rain but also feeling like we have never been without you.

While I write this you are asleep on my lap after having a big feed. You were very hungry and not surprising after your busy morning. This morning we took you for your very first swimming lesson. I sat on the side, my heart bursting with pride watching you swim with daddy. Daddy accidentally put your swimming costume on back to front but don’t worry I don’t think anyone noticed. You mainly enjoyed putting the floating rubber balls in your mouth although I’m sure this will change next week when you do your first submersion!

This is just a little letter for now. I hope you are enjoying your much deserved nap my little chicken.

Love mummy xx

Routines

20160616_141339-1Elbie and I are now day three into our second week on our own. This is pretty good going considering Elbie will be four months old on Sunday. We have been spoiled over the summer with Eddie being a teacher and having the whole summer off. It has been incredible to be able to spend so much of our first few months as a family together and know we are very lucky to have had that time. It has been one big holiday for the three of us and with holidays comes freedom and no routine. Of course this is a great thing and there is no one who would say that they would prefer to be stuck in a routine over a carefree holiday, especially Eddie and I. Before Elbie came along we were both mad about not letting the baby rule our life and getting ourselves stuck in routines. It’s just a baby right, they have to fit in with our lives not the other way round. Well I still believe that the baby has to fit in with us but I have now realised that we also have to make some changes to fit in with them too. Eddie and I are social creatures and often get cabin fever pretty quickly so the thought of having routines that interfered with our social lives was something of a nightmare for us. That is before we experienced sleepless nights and the four month sleep regression hit.

Elbie was a great sleeper and started sleeping through the night at around six weeks old and then consistently sleeping through at eight weeks which lasted until she was fourteen weeks old. She teased me with offering me my sleep back but only to then take it away again. I knew it wouldn’t last as she is a baby after all but boy its exhausting. Being a nurse I was used to doing night shifts and long hours which mostly left me being tired all of the time. So I thought I would handle the sleepless nights well and had a head start on most new mums. I could not have been more wrong. Absolutely NOTHING prepares you for the sleepless nights. There is a reason why sleep deprivation is used as a form of torture, because that is exactly what it is. At the moment I exclusively breast feed Elbie so Eddie can’t help much. He has done a few of the nights with expressed milk but we soon realised that Elbie falls asleep much quicker on the boob than she does with a bottle so it was just easier for me to do the night feeds. Eddie doesn’t get off completely though as he often gets up with her first thing to give me a much needed sleep in. We have worked well as a tag team throughout the summer but now with Eddie back at work he can no longer give me those extra hours in bed, so this is where the problem lies. I like my sleep and I would like to get some of it back and it turns out that babies like routine.

Although we have come to the realisation that we need some sort of routine we are definitely not a Gina Ford style family. Parent led schedules are way too rigid and do not fit in with our lifestyle. I don’t eat at the same time everyday so I don’t see how I should expect my baby too either. Yes we have rough times of the day but generally we eat when we are hungry. Saying this though I do feel that Elbie needs some sort of structure and I am most certainly not judging parents who do decide parent led is for them. Baby led or “Attachment Parenting” seems to be a little more suited to us as I tend to let Elbie guide me to when she wants certain things. I feed on demand and I put her down for a nap, or at least attempt to when I can see certain cues that tell me she is getting tired. Although I am leaning towards baby led routines in my sleep deprived desperation I went to the library to borrow some baby sleep books which have helped a little, albeit seeminly very unrealistic at this point. I have found Your Baby Week by Week by Simon Cave and Dr Caroline Fertleman pretty useful which I was lent while pregnant. This book has given me a rough idea on how much sleep Elbie should be needing throughout the day and I have combined it so far with a loose routine which seems to be suiting us all as a family, even if we have to say goodbye to our late evenings out for now.

Everyday is a learning curve with this little one and it is still early days but I’m going to try and stick this whole routine thing out as I have definitely seen some small improvements. Elbie still isn’t sleeping well but things are starting to become a bit more predictable with the routine. Despite all of this I’m sure this will change again soon as that is one thing I have learnt so far is that babies like to change things up just when you get used to it! Watch this space.