From Mrs. to mummy

**Please let me say again that this was my experience, however you may interpret it as being too dramatic or not dramatic enough, for me this is how it was and how I felt at the time**

I feel like I should begin this post with a little background first. As I’ve mentioned in my previous blog post my mother is a Neonatal Intensive Care nurse and has been for the last 25 years. Now this has put me in the company of other nurses, midwives, registrars, doctors etc. for as long as I can remember. So I have heard it all, and also well equipped on what to expect in a hospital.

I chose to give birth in the hospital my mother had worked in for many years, and one where many of her friends, some who have known me since I was 12, still do work there. This gave me confidence that should any complications arise with my baby he would be in excellent hands. I also knew not to go into labour with some long utopic idea of what my labour journey should be like. So my birth plan read as follows:

I am going into it with an open mind. Ideally I would like my plan to be as follows:

I would like to labour at home for as long as possible with the aid of my hypno-birthing, music and TENs machine.I would like to be in the birthing centre. To have an active labour. The use of Entonox only as a method of pain relief. If the pain gets a bit much then the use of diamorphene.If, for any reason, I need to be moved onto the ward then that is fine too. Open mind.

That was my birth plan. Short right? I have heard stories of birth plans being pages long, detailing every part of a labour journey. And I’ll be honest, it would be lovely to be able to map out your journey to the last detail, but lets face it life doesn’t work that way. Our bodies decide to do their own thing and react in ways we cannot predict sometimes, and delivering a baby is definitely one of those times you CANNOT predict ANYTHING! So, now that we have the basics down, lets get into what happened on my journey to delivering my little boy.

My labour had initially begun at 1am on the 15th of February. But it wasn’t until 6pm on the 15th that I actually decided to go into hospital. I had decided to labour at home all day on the 15th to be comfortable, to be able to move around, to eat and sleep and relax. I also wanted my husband and mum to be more relaxed than for all of us to be cooped up in hospital for longer than needed.

So 6pm, off we went to hospital! I was examined and I was 4cms dilated and so admitted into the birthing centre.

The contractions were strong and getting closer together, I was bouncing on a ball, squatting on the floor, lying down and doing all sorts to ease the pain and to breath through it. I had the help on Entonox, but after a while it began to make me feel very nauseous so I had to use it sparingly.

At 10:30pm I was examined again to check my progress. Here is where things get interesting. The examination was so painful, it was probably the only time during my entire labour and delivery that I cried. And this was just the start! I screamed for the midwife to stop, and she very patiently waited for me to settle down. She explained to me that as much as she would love me to have a natural birth it just wouldn’t be possible. The pain would be far too much. My cervix was up and to the left, which meant my baby was not engaging down directly and evenly against my cervix. Her advice was for me to get admitted onto the ward and deliver with the help of an epidural.

Now, remember my birth plan? Open mind. It is key. I smiled, held my husbands hand, and said lets do this. And by 11pm I was on the 4th floor admitted.

At 11:50pm my first epidural was administered. From the stories I had heard I was expecting it to be painful, for the needle to really hurt, but I couldn’t feel a thing. Amazing! Now to just wait for it to kick in!

My waters hadn’t broken naturally, so by 2am (Now the 16th of February) my midwife broke my waters. Couldn’t feel a thing thanks to the epidural! I felt great, and to top it off she told me I was 7cms dilated! WOHOO!! Baby on the way! I was in no pain, waters broken, and dilated with not much to go! So far going amazing! All going so well I decided to drift off and take a nap, because hey, why not!

At 3:50am I was given a water drip because I was getting dehydrated, and I believe I went through 3 bags of water drips through this! Yikes!

My midwife did another check by 4:15am and I was now 8cms dilated, and at 4:30am I was given a cintocinon drip. At this point in time by baby was facing the wrong way, but my midwife wasn’t worried because there was still time for him to turn around.

By 6am the doctors wanted to start a foetal scalp monitoring. Because my waters had been broken for so long, just to ensure that baby wasn’t distressed in any way. And boy did my midwife have a job getting that done! Turns out my baby had a head full of hair making it very difficult to get the monitor to stick to his head. Me on the inside – LOL of course he does!

By 6:50am I was fully dilated and soon ready with the urge to push. Now here is where it all goes upside down and slightly horrible for me.

Because I was running on an empty stomach from the night before, on drips and epidural, not allowed to eat, I was being sick. Lovely I know, but its all part of the territory! Not only that, by 8am when my active pushing began I was suddenly in unbearable pain.

I can remember humming loudly to distract myself from the pain, not able to focus on what anyone was saying to me. The room was full at one point with doctors and nurses trying to decide what to do, to see where I was at. Questions were being asked to me, and I couldn’t focus on anyone. The pain was so bad that I had to beg my husband to make a fist and hard push up against my right hip every time he saw a contraction coming on the monitor. As much as he hated doing it, it is what I needed at the time. I needed his fist to dull the pain.

They realised that my epidural had failed on my right side. So while my left side was pain free, all the contraction pain was being concentrated down my right side. They knew that just another epidural wasn’t going to do it. So I got a concoction of a second epidural PLUS a spinal block at 9:40am. Spinal blocks are usually only given for C-section births.

I was too far along now for a C-section, so I just had to wait it out and trust my body and those around me to do what was needed. Now, this was all fine and well, but it still wouldn’t help my baby out as he was now stuck in the same spot despite me pushing for a long while.

By 10:20am my husband made the decision for me to get an episiotomy and instrumental forceps delivery of our baby. The reason being that my little one had the cord around his neck, so every time I was pushing through a contraction he would get yanked back up again thanks to the cord. So the necessary interventions were, well, necessary.

Not long after, out into the world, our little pride and joy!

Now this whole journey of mine was traumatic, painful, scary and exhausting. But in the end, once they placed my baby on my chest for the first time, all was magically forgotten. It was as if I had never gone through any of the pain, as if he had just beamed out of me onto my chest with no bother at all. Isn’t it strange? How a woman’s body and mind just automatically make that switch from unbearable pain to unconditional tear flowing love for a child you are looking at for the first time? That look, that sensation, their little voice and cry and breaths, it just takes away everything that preceded that moment. I could now proudly call myself a mother. Our family was complete.

Until next time xoxo

5 main struggles as a first time mom

Hi again, and thank for you for sticking around. As I continue my journey I thought today I would share with the main struggles I faced with my little one in the first year. Again, these are my struggles, every mom will have her own and there is no right or wrong to it. But I hope reading this it will let you know that you are not alone, and maybe find something useful that may help you on your journey.

1) The road to recovery

I had a long labour, and to me it felt like an eternity! I remember it all starting at around 1am on the 15th of February. I knew they were contractions and not false alarms but I didn’t see the point in waking up my husband or mother just yet. But by 5am the house was awake and it all began. Me thinking the 15th would be the day! But nope, not until 16th morning did my little one finally decide to make an appearance with a lot of intervention and help from some amazing professionals.  So, considering my labour was long and complicated, my recovery also took a bit longer than we all bargained for.

The first 6 weeks of my sons’ life I struggled to leave the house. I could barely walk, sitting and standing were suddenly the most painful tasks in the world, and going to the toilet? Oh Lord don’t ask! The reason being I had an episiotomy. But not just because of that alone, I was also recovering from 2 epidurals AND a spinal block. I know right, holy shit indeed. And for me this was hard. As much as I look at myself as a strong woman whose pain threshold is relatively acceptable, when it comes to things like this… OUCH OUCH OUCH!!!

My mom, bless her soul, helped my husband and I out through the first 2 months while I got back on my feet. And my dear husband spent his paternity leave bonding with our baby and making sure I was ok. I spent a lot of the time either in bed or lying on the sofa. Mom and hubby made sure baby was washed and changed and all that good stuff till I found the strength to get into it. I was just there as his feeding machine.

My recovery took a while, but it was made much easier by my two little helpers. Looking back now, I know if we ever do have another child, what I would want from the hospital would be different to make my recovery a little easier.

 

2) My 100% breastfed baby

Now this subject gets a lot from all sides. And honestly, my opinion, there is no right or wrong. Whether mums choose to breastfeed, bottle feed or do a combination of both, in the end it is all about what keeps your baby healthy and you happy and healthy. It has to suit both of you, your lifestyle, and as long as your baby gets what they need who’s to judge?

I chose to 100% breastfeed my baby. Meaning no bottles and no pacifiers at all. Just me. And yes it is bloody hard, but it is also extremely personal and is so rewarding for me.

The struggles that come with this territory go down 2 categories. The first your husband. What I mean by this is that you understand early on that you will be the one doing all the waking up through nights and days. I couldn’t expect my husband to wake up at 2am and feed him now could I! So I accepted that. I knew I was the only who would be able to pacify him in his cranky moments because I chose to not give him a pacifier. I was his human walking pacifier whenever he needed it. So again, daddy time was cuddles and playtime and mommy was there for the serious, cranky, hungry, sleepy moments. But I wouldn’t change it for the world.

The second category is that of family. Now, when I had my son, I was hoping for alone time with him and my hubby to bond and become a family…but your extended family will have other ideas. Being of Indian origin, the concept of personal space and allowing a new mom to recover in peace and quiet is somewhat of an alien concept. So the questions of bottles had to be answered multiple times. Explaining why no one could baby sit because he would need me every couple hours. Making people understand that breastfeeding isn’t some weird strange concept but a natural part of becoming a mother. Giving them facts on breastfeeding and the benefits it has for the mother and for the baby. The willpower it takes to not breakdown when you get questioned about every decision you make is immense.

Now I know you’re thinking but my mother was with us for the first 2 months. Yes she was, but you see my mom is a neonatal intensive care nurse. Jackpot right? Who better to have at home with me? And she is the biggest advocate for “Breast is Best”. So, I had to learn to just drown out the noise and tell myself that I am doing what I chose to, and what I felt was best for my baby.

 

3) Sleeping habits

What I have observed so far is that babies who get bottles of formula tend to sleep better and longer than those who don’t. Am I right? Because I chose to completely breastfeed my son I had to get ready for sleepless nights, and even now though he is 11 months old and solids too he still doesn’t sleep through the night.

When a baby is at that new born phase they wake up every hour or so, their tummies are tiny. This then graduates to every couple of hours, then every 3 hours. Then when they get to about 4 or 5 months it stretches to every 5 every hours. This is how my son was anyway. And as I introduced solids and water to him the feeding has come down gradually to where he now only feeds early morning, around 10pm and in the middle of the night. But this hasn’t helped with his sleeping.   The amount I used to stress myself out and have endless conversations with my mom and dad about what I could do to help him sleep better just led to anxiety. So I’ve decided, no more stressing about it! Just give it time, take it a week at a time, a night at a time, and just let him grow and learn naturally. Anyone else out there face this? Share you thoughts or any suggestions you have, they are always welcome.

 

4) Terrible colic

How heart breaking is it to watch your weeks old baby deal with trapped wind! Oh how I cried and I had never been more grateful that my mother was there to help. From Infacol to gripe water to baby massage, whatever would work! It would mostly happen at night of course, because who needs sleep?! I would fall asleep on my moms’ bed and she would just pace up and down the hallway with my son in the dark, gentle bouncing motions and little pats to help him burp or fart out the trapped air. And whenever he needed a top up feed I would get a nudge and be ready to feed. Its such a painful thing to watch your baby go through, but thankfully 2 weeks later we started seeing the light at the end of the tunnel and his little self was able to burp up much easier himself.

 

5) Eating and the weaning process

This topic too has a lot of sides to it. Baby led, spoon fed, combination. The information that gets thrown at you is just mind boggling! And where do you start?!? I remember endless calls to my health visitor for advice and guidance, reading numerous recipe and weaning books to help me through this. The do’s and don’ts can be daunting. So I did what suited us best, a combination of the two. He would hold solid food and I would feed him the rest.

I am not particularly one for big messes, so the idea of every meal time turning into baby messy play didn’t quite appeal to me. But the one thing I did do through this process is to cook all his food myself. Only now have I started introducing packaged pouches and other bits for babies to him.

What made things easier for you?

 

These were my main struggles, the things I found slightly harder to deal with but got there in the end. What you realise about yourself through this journey is that you have a lot to give. You as a mother can never do wrong by your baby. Instincts kick in you didn’t know you had, and whatever it takes to ensure your little one grows happily and in a healthy way you will make happen.

I hope this was a little useful to you, and I would love for you to leave your thoughts for me to read. What did you struggle with and what helped you?

Until next time xoxo

My start to motherhood

What can I say about 2017? In all honesty it has been the biggest roller coaster year of my life. It is the year I learnt a different kind of love, found a new purpose, and also lost a part of myself.

Giving birth to a child is the single hardest thing any woman will do in her life. Undoubtedly it does something to you on the inside and you walk out of that hospital a completely different woman. I can tell you now that having a child has changed me. I put my son first above all else, including my husband and myself. It’s about the baby and the baby alone. And 11 months into this phenomenal journey of motherhood I have learnt a few things, and also observed a few things. Now keep in mind, what I am sharing with you is my personal experience, for every one of us mums this story will read differently and your journey undoubtedly will vary to mine. I just have this burning desire to share my side of the story and hope that you reading this find it amusing but also relatable to some extent. So, here’s what I’ve found so far:

1) EVERYONE has an opinion. And boy do I mean everyone! Never before in my life have I had so many people comment and bluntly tell me how things should be done. And I’m talking about opinions you didn’t ask for. From parents to in-laws, to friends who don’t even have children! Heck even the postman will find it in him to tell you how to be a mother or how a child should be raised. From how to feed them, how to teach them to how they should sleep or develop, everyone will have their opinion and gladly give it to you.

2) You can never be prepared for the kind of mother you will be. You know that conversation you have with your friends late at night where you idealise yourselves as parents in the distant future? Where you are the perfect mom with the well kept house, a baby that sleeps for 10 hours and you maintain a certain lifestyle? The one where you are on top of everything and nothing can rock your boat? Ya that conversation… how’s that going? I’ll tell you how mine is going, my boat sunk! I learnt that once baby is here and in your arms it is all back to square one. So, lets not set ourselves up for disappointment ladies, there is no perfect way to be a mom, there is just you and how YOU choose to be with YOUR baby.

3) There is nothing wrong with putting your baby first. The number of women who immediately say “My career and life is equally important to me right now” – really? This is something I, on a personal level, cannot relate to. This first year of your child’s life will never come back. The little warm cuddles of a tiny baby, the first time they begin to smile, when they begin to laugh and get their little personalities, the eating and crawling and teeth and walking…you don’t get it back. So please don’t be in a hurry…savour every moment of it, bask in its cuteness and embrace the warm and fuzzy bubble of motherhood.

4) Baby groups are amazing! Those first 9 months can be hard! Especially once your little one hits 4 months and wants to start doing stuff. Not only does this get you out of the house, but it’s great bonding between you and your baby. I did a lot with my son in his first 7 months. From baby massage, baby yoga, baby art class, music class with singing and dancing to swimming! It kept us nice and busy. You also meet some amazing moms and dads who are going through exactly what you are, and that kind of support keeps you sane and gives you the will power to keep going.

5) This is the biggest point, and something I will talk more about in another blog post. Childbirth is a B****. My biggest advice, just go with the flow. Don’t be that know it all woman and set yourself up for major disappointment. Let the professionals do what they need to in order to keep you and your baby safe. That’s not to say don’t have a plan. Have a plan, birth plans are a great way to think things through. Mine was short but changed quickly due to circumstance and my birth story is something I would like to share with you soon.

6) You do not have to be perfect on day 1. Like I said earlier, forget the house and all else, just focus on you and your baby. You’ve been through enough bringing them into this world, so take the time to just recover and be with your baby.

7) People will pass judgement. Oh boy do they! Is he not sleeping? Oh dear… he is still in your room? Hmmm… Oh he doesn’t eat himself? Tut tut! My response to all of this… F OFF! Just drown out the noise – you are doing an amazing job and doing your best and that is all that matters.

For the most part I love being a mom. Yes I said most part, and I know you will feel the same. Of course I have days where I feel great, but I also have my down days where I feel depressed sometimes and wish I could undo it all. It’s natural to feel this way. It is an extremely difficult journey, and nothing prepares you for it. And when you are in a position like me where you do 90% of the parenting because your husband works crazy hours with his job, the judgements and comments are harder to swallow and staying positive seems impossible sometimes.   I found myself moving away from crowds and becoming closer with my parents. They are my biggest supporters and always manage to lift my spirits. I still have my tiny fist of friends and my 3 amazing new mommy friends from our antenatal classes who keep me staying positive and reassure me that I am doing a good job with my little one. And lets face it, every new mom out there needs to be reminded that they are doing amazing… agree?

Now, with 3 weeks left of my maternity leave, I find myself feeling nervous and terrified at the thought of not seeing my son for 3 days a week while I’m at work. Crazy right? As much as I am excited to have those few hours a day away from being on mommy duty, I am also sad that he is at that point of his journey of not needing mommy 24 hours a day. This is why I say, savour every moment. My boy will be 1 next month and if you had asked me last February if I thought this point would come…I would have said never. And here it is, my little baby is a crawling babbling toddler ready for his first steps into the system we call life.

Taking the plunge

Hello and welcome!  My name is Aradhana, nice to meet you all! A little frightening if I’m honest, I’m new to blogging, and there seemed no better time than now to take the plunge.   Forgive me if this space at this time is not perfect, I shall learn as I go and improve on it day by day.

A little about me then to begin with!  I am a 29 soon to be 30 year old woman. I am a wife to the love of my life who is a sound engineer and mother to an 11 month old baby boy. I am a quarter Irish and three quarters Indian…a mix which gives me just the right amount of weird, attitude, Indian charm and Irish nuttiness to keep everyone intrigued.   I was born and raised in India by my father and lived with him till I was 16. I then moved to live with my mother in England…. and now I’m married with a baby boy and happily settled enjoying every minute.
The reason I’ve been wanting to blog is this: I have experienced so much in my life, been through my fair share of ups and downs and enough excitement that I’m bursting to share it with someone…the world even. My hope? That this helps, inspires, provides some answers to some of you who are maybe struggling with what I did through my journey. Hopefully my story will help you cope and manage situations which are tricky similar to what I have been through.  I would love this space to be a place of open conversation, for mums and dads to stay strong together, and a space to just be you.

 

And so my blogging journey begins. I am by no means trying to lay down a book of answers and give anyone the best advice on earth. I am simply sharing my story and I hope you will accept me for me. I would love your feedback, suggestions and comments. If its positive great! If negative that’s ok too, we can’t all agree on everything.
I hope you visit again and I look forward to seeing where this journey takes me.

All for now xoxo