Disney Matter!

Hey-ho! We’re off to Florida tomorrow! Theme parks. Mega meals. Disney characters. Fun in the sun (Hopefully). My hubbie has packed his suitcase – I’ve packed for the rest of us! So let’s hope it’s all there.

Hubbie  says the largest bags of all are under his eyes!! Well, Yes, I agree with him. Baby Charlotte is still not sleeping through the night  and it’s taking its toll on our looks! So nothing new. It’s just living with  constant light sleep, peppered by us awakening when she is not awake (but you do anyway), and then being pulled from any deep sleep by her gentle whimpering which starts to crescendo into cries, intermittent, then gradually into a constant shrieking if left unattended for more than 5 minutes. Charlotte has learned to roll over onto her stomach but cannot move from this position yet. Most of her night wakes are due to the fact she is on her tummy and frustrated. She needs moved back to lying on her back but by the time I’ve dragged myself out of bed she is all but awake. I rush her into my bedroom to feed and comfort her and promptly lay her by my side and we both fall asleep somewhere between 3 and 5 in the morning. A bad habit! She can then sleep to after eight o’clock. Sweet.

So a nine hour plane journey awaits us from Glasgow to Orlando. The kids are so excited. We are going on holiday with one of my sisters and her family, and her friend and daughter.  We will be one of those families whom people want to avoid on planes.  A bunch of noisy, excited, lively, hyper children – a  lovely 7 month old child who rarely sleeps during the day (unless in the car or pram),  an 11yr old, 10 yr old, 9yr old, two 8yr olds and a  7 yr old –  all super animated and, most likely, hyperventilating at the very thought of stepping foot in Florida!

I’ve been to Orlando  a few times in the past  –  but not with so many children. This will be a different type of holiday to that enjoyed in the past. Not a bad thing. Just need to be more organised e.g. I’ve ordered pre-made milk formula and feed from the pharmacy at the airport to avoid any issues with liquid allowance as  we go through the necessary security checks. I’ve packed enough nappies to ensure we are covered for every eventuality! I’ve brought teething gel, teething toys (Charlotte has two teeth growing in now), soft toys, squeaky toys, comfort toys etc.  My older kids have suitcases packed with clothes for any kind of weather! Reports state that sun to thunder and lightning is forecast for our two week break!  But Disney awaits, Disney matter about the weather!

So looks like we’re all set to go. Taxis are ordered for the short journey to the airport early morning.

Ha! What can go wrong! 

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Things They Don’t Tell You

The reality of being an older – 5 decade old – mum is that even the doctors aren’t 100% sure what is likely to happen hormone-wise after the birth. At my 6 week check-up I asked the doctor when, and if,  my menstrual cycle would return. Would I go back to normal  or would the birth and all the artificial hormones I’d taken leading up to it, kick start the peri-menopause?

‘Good question’ she said. She wasn’t sure. I guess everyone is different but surely there must be a general rule of thumb about what is likely to happen. So I’m finding out as it happens!

My reality is that my cycle took 14 weeks to re-commence followed by another cycle 8 weeks then 6 weeks later….so I’m assuming I’ll return to a monthly regular drumbeat at some point. But who knows.

My thick pregnancy head of hair has now started thinning 4 months after Charlotte was born  (gently pointed out by my sympathetic hairdresser!) which wasn’t much of a surprise . My c-section  scar twinges uncomfortably every so often depending on what I lean against and what abdominal exercises I undertake! Not much of a shock.

What was somewhat surprising  was my teen acne has returned in full glory!

Good grief! I’ve got a persistent array of zits/ plukes/spots on my chin which an over-the-counter – acne gel will not shift!! That’s 3 months now of stubborn bumps! No-one tells you these unglamorous hormonal side effects.  I feel like the Oldest Teen In Town. Often it feels like these zits shine like a beacon for all to see. Now and again they sneakily start to withdraw, then when you have a planned meeting with the school teacher or a night out with friends, they  protrude proudly,  daring you to tackle them knowing they are there for the long term! (And it wont be a pretty sight if you do give it a go!)

I used to get the odd zit now and again  in my thirties and forties   – I called them wine spots  due to my penchant for a nice glass of wine 😊 but these  babies have got a life of their own and are bloody  obstinate.

Anyway, the best news is that Charlotte is now in her own cot bed in her own room and actually slept through the night for the first time last night! Wahey! Maybe my zits will fade now that I can get a decent night’s sleep. More wine please!

Happy Baby Pose

I have to say that Charlotte is a contented baby. She has her moments, as you would expect, but given half the chance, she can be found lying on her back clutching at her feet and bringing them to her chest, gurgling away cutely.

My youngest son finds Charlotte in this pose extremely amusing and adorable and squeals with pleasure (still!) each time he sees her doing so.

She now drools immensely going through several bibs per day soaking them with the continuous flow of water dripping from her gums. She is in the habit of pulling her feet to her mouth and sucking intensely on her chosen big toe which must give her some comfort!

I laugh inwardly at this move, as for the last 6 weeks the last track in my Body Balance class asks us to lie down on our mat in ‘happy baby pose’ wrapping our fingers round our big toes and pulling our feet to our chest. The idea is to relax and stretch out the hamstrings a little whilst massaging our lower back. (Always the risk of some trapped wind escaping at this time, I must point out!)

 I’m always so tempted to see if I can manage to get one of my big toes in my mouth, like Charlotte! Although the prospect of tasting a sweaty foot with a big toe of hard skin is not appealing!

I’ve regained my flexibility since her birth although I’ve not attempted much cardio workouts yet. My post C-section body needed to heal completely and I’ve avoided any aerobic activity to date.  My last venture into the park for a jog two weeks ago resulted in a pulled lower calf which took a few days to go away. I still do 20 mins walk on the machine in the gym several times a week usually after my Body Balance or Body Pump class. Re-introducing cardio is next on my list as I need to combat the pounds that are creeping back on thanks to my sweet tooth and love of chocolate!

I’ll keep up the happy baby pose but will add some cardio to compliment it……one of these days 😊

Sleep is Over-rated!

Well, my little treasure is 3 months old now, adored by all who come into contact with her! Her brothers and sister absolutely love her and have been a great help  –  asking to feed her, hold her, cuddle her. I have been heart warmed by their response.  The only thing is …. she has never, EVER, slept more than 3 hours in a row during the night. A few months previously, an ante-natal nurse advised a group of us expectant mums that our babies would keep a similar pattern to that in the womb, once they were born. My daughter was always very active at night but I assumed,  naively, that she would soon resort to ‘normal’ day/night behaviour! How wrong was I.

So, 3 months on,  I have had one night of unbroken sleep (family friends offered to take Charlotte for one night to let us catch up with some well needed beauty sleep) and all nights before and since have been regulated by wake up calls around 2am, 4am and 6 am –  the only blessing is that the waking periods around these times have shortened (Yeah!!!) from 45 mins of feeding and winding to 15 mins or so. I’m grateful! So grateful!

And I’m proud to say I’ve managed to function on minimal sleep –  although I don’t understand why. I still need to get my 3 children to school and back, do shopping , ironing, housework etc. I don’t nap during the day…. never have done; not my style, and choose to go to my body balance and body pump classes in the mornings when I can. Super important for both mind and body!

Having lost both sets of parents over recent years, my husband and I are very fortunate that we have two good baby sitters –  an aunt and family friend who are so willing to take my little bundle of joy for a couple of hours. She’s a real tonic to them.

Don’t get me wrong, the lack of sleep does mean that concentration dips from time to time! However, although I’ve not absentmindedly left my baby behind in the local shopping mall, I have managed to:

  1. Leave my driver car door wide open for 2 hours in the car park whilst visiting my aunt in Dumbarton, my handbag lying on the floor in the back (to the good people of Dumbarton, I thank you for not being tempted to make off with any of the contents I’d generously left for anyone to take!)
  2. Put a washing through its whole cycle and hanging it up before realising that I’d never added any detergent! I actually found myself considering whether I would get away with it. Er no! Did not pass the smell test!  (I’m sure that won’t be the last time I do that )
  3. Undress to take a shower and put my bundle of clothes down the toilet and shut the lid before realising it wasn’t the washing basket (Well, I didn’t flush so that’s a bonus!)

Well, maybe I should take a nap! As I speak my little cherub is dozing peacefully on her playmat and is likely to do so into the early hours…until she awakens for her habitual feeds and burping! She has no daytime routine, but has stuck well to her nocturnal schedule – no matter what!

And It Had Been So Easy!

My pregnancy had been straightforward, only frequent nausea superseded by stinging heartburn had been the price to carry my little angel. She  hadn’t caused me any worry or alarm. In fact,  my Consultant stated that he was impressed at my healthy blood pressure at each clinic visit as well as my level of fitness and energy. I was secretly smug, feeling I had proved that older mums can have a good pregnancy, especially if they live a consistently healthy(ish) lifestyle prior to falling pregnant.

I ended up spending 6 days in hospital after my little girl was born at 10.04 on 11th March. She was  small and fragile, but healthy. I was, and still am, grateful for this little treasure who has chosen to live with our family and who trusts us to raise her and guide her in life!

I was taken down to theatre around 8pm later that evening after I’d started to bleed in bouts (post partum haemorrhage). In my naivety, I thought this was  something that was common to most new mums and ‘had to be done’ as a precaution. My baby was wheeled  down behind me, as were my belongings,  and all placed in one corner of the room. She slept the whole way and for a number of hours later.

Once in the room, a team of nurses swarmed around me and I was hooked up to various machines. There was little small talk. I was asked several times what my little girl was called, but I explained that my husband and I couldn’t agree on a name yet! As I gazed around the room I was impressed at the teamwork of the nurses and the efficiency with which they carried out their roles. Each new the part they were playing.  I wasn’t aware what they were giving me but I know they said my name each time they administered a fluid into my veins and told me what it was. A doctor, who never made eye contact, advised a speculum was being inserted to catch the flow of blood to measure it ….a nurse stated they had collected 500 ml…….900 ml…..now a 1000 ml…..I heard them announcing the time certain medicines were injected (9pm , then 9.30, don’t remember much after that). I noticed a nurse was vigorously massaging my stomach for the entire time and I thought that this action should hurt as I’d had my C-section only hours before. I didn’t feel a thing! It hadn’t dawned on me that I had been given a strong painkilling drug! I was given gas & air and every inhaled breath made me feel lightheaded and drowsy. I felt I was drifting off and remember thinking that this is strong stuff!  I looked over at my sleeping bundle of joy wondering if my condition could be fatal and would she be left without her mother. I thought I can’t die without giving her a name. ‘Charlotte’ I said to the nearest nurse ‘Her name is Charlotte’.

I wasn’t sure where this name came from as it wasn’t on my top 5, nor my husband’s,  but it felt right.

Then a nurse told me I was being given warm fluid to raise my body temperature.  I realised I was sweating. I asked her outright if my condition was dangerous as my thoughts had turned to my own mother who had not survived a hospital operation two years before, and had been given a warm fluid in intensive care to warm her cold body as she lay unconscious, the family around her willing her to survive. She couldn’t and didn’t.

‘Could this be fatal?’ I asked a nurse, as I looked down at the large pools of blood spilled over my bed sheet, over my legs, splattered on the cabinet next to the nurses, then looked back to my young daughter, sleeping soundly. ‘I have up to 7 shots of this anti-clotting drug I can give you. You’ve only needed two  shots so far’, she said. ‘That sounds fairly positive’, I thought to myself.

I was given oxygen to inhale alongside the air and gas. Time stood still for me.  One by one the nurses left the area, including one who had been splatted on the face by my blood caused by an over zealous ‘collection’  by the overseeing  doctor who had been manually lifting the fluid into bowls to be accounted for. ‘Yuk!’ I thought ‘Poor lady!’

Then it was over. I lay in recovery for a few hours , then was asked if I was able to walk around before being taken back to the maternity ward. So at 3am I found myself gingerly shuffling  up and down the corridor feeling proud of my attempts.

I was back in a ward around 4am. Disorientated. Tired. Sore. And Charlotte wanted fed!

Despite my mini-drama, I was woken at 05.30 by a soft tapping against my bed…the daily ward cleaning was underway and a brusque Auxiliary was mopping around me, the head of her mop gently brushing against my bed frame. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. No long lie-ins for me in this ward. Well, better get used to it!! Preparation for things to come as a new mum!

 

 

 

She Has Arrived

There are no scheduled Caesarian operations on Saturdays – only Mon to Fri –  but I was advised that mine would happen at some point that day and to be prepared to go to theatre at 9am in case I should be taken first. Weekends are reserved for emergencies.  So I psyched myself up for a potential delivery in the morning, which could be pushed back anytime into the rest of the day.

Showered and fasted, I walked with a nurse to theatre to the floor below before 9am whilst the porter put all my belongings on my bed and wheeled it behind us. My sister was arriving at 8.30 am at the house to let my husband come to the hospital. We are lucky in that we live only a few minutes drive away. My husband arrived and was asked to change into theatre clothes as I was getting wired up to monitors, blood pressure machines and being given step by step information on the spinal anaesthesia procedure. The topic of C-sections had been covered at one of my ante-natal classes so I was comfortable with the process.

Once the fluid was administered into my spine, the anaesthetist stated that I would feel my bottom getting warm –  a sign that the epidural was starting to work. In a few moments I sure did feel the warm heat travel through my bottom and then I couldn’t feel my legs.

Everything then happened very quickly… a large screen went up, and off they went. My squeamish husband sunk low into his chair afraid he might catch a glimpse of the operation taking place on the other side! Whilst I, on the other hand,  had noticed that if I gazed up into the lights I could see about twenty small mirrors reflecting the procedure and my curiosity got the better of me. I could see in miniature what they were doing to me but all I could feel was a slight tugging! Strange!  Then the pressure in my stomach lifted and I said to my husband “She’s out”. Only a few minutes had passed by since the first incision.

Then the glorious sound of her crying loudly could be heard behind the screen as she was taken over to one side of the room to be checked and weighed. My husband was asked to cut her chord (which I knew he wanted to do but would find it grotesque at the same time!)

The midwife exclaimed that the baby had peed on her hand. “Well both her lungs and waterworks are in good working order”, I thought.

As the doctor sewed me back together, the baby was wrapped up and brought over to us. Small, adorable, healthy, perfect……a precious gift. Weighing in at 6llbs 7oz, she was like a delicate doll.

I couldn’t hug her as I was still strapped up to monitors with both my arms outstretched, but the nurse put her head next to mine and I felt the warmth of her cheek against my own and a tear stung my eye.

The dream I dared not dream had come true. The hankering to have my own child, although abated over the years, did not truly go away, and I had held the vision and belief that it could happen for me one day. She has completed our family. I love my adopted children. They are ours and are part of us. This little lady has arrived to cement the team and, although only early days, has brought so much love and excitement into our family unit, it has made me so proud to have held dear my conviction to have a baby …. it’s just that it happened for me later in life !

 

 

Ready Steady…..No Go!

On Tuesday, the Consultant advised that the best way forward was to come in to the hospital later in the week to be induced. The baby’s growth had slowed down slightly and since it was near my dues date, why not help the little lady along! Also, because I was an older mum I would not have gone past my due date anyway (which was the following week).

Well, I had had no twinges or signs that she was ready to come into the world but I trusted the process and assumed that was the best way forward.

We explained to the children that mummy would go into hospital on Thursday afternoon and the likelihood is that their little sister would be born some time on Friday afternoon or evening. How excited they were!

With a little intrepidation my husband and I set off to our local hospital, checked in, so to speak, and settled down to listening to  a sonography recording of the baby’s heartbeat. This was to establish a baseline heart rate of the baby before any drugs were administered to induce labour.  My husband left to pick up the kids from after school and I settled down to the comforting sound of my baby’s heartbeat which echoed round the ward of 4 beds. Except my little one didn’t like the strap round my tummy nor the echo it made around her in the womb, and she certainly didn’t stay still. So much so, she moved, kicked and jumped so much that instead of a 20 minute data gathering exercise, I was strapped to the machine for over 2 hours as nurses and a doctor peered at my readings trying to work out the baseline line as she wasn’t for settling down!

Eventually I was good to go, and a kindly nurse administered the first pessary so deep inside, she could have tickled my tonsils. Time went by and I was asked if I wanted any painkillers. Indeed I had no need of any. Six hours later I was back on the sonography machine. “It can take up to 3 attempts before your body is ready to deliver the baby”, I was advised. This time a rather burly nurse who, I can only describe as having hands like a builder, administered the 2nd pessary with such force she brought tears to my eyes as her thick fingers pushed deep inside to position the drug at the back of my cervix. That was unpleasant!

Well attempt number 2 did not work (administered around midnight) nor did number 3 (around 7 in the morning, by Nurse Builder Hands!). When the doctor suggested I could try a 4th time, I felt my eyes water at the very suggestion of it and declined. I deduced that if it hadn’t worked at this point, it ain’t gonna work at all!  My next option was a C-section which could be carried out the following day.

As I lay on my hospital bed, between Thursday afternoon and Saturday morning, two ladies had given birth naturally from  my ward and I was privee to their intimate groans and weeping as their pain took over before they were wheeled swiftly to another part of the building to deliver their babies. The sound of nearby newly borns crying echoed around the wards in the wee small hours.  The sound of short bursts of activity in the corridors as women were wheeled to the labour suite throughout the night moaning or crying out made me feel like my little girl was never going to come out naturally. Nor was she ready to!

I knew I would not have a good night’s sleep for a long, long time.