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New Mum Must-Haves

Monday, 28 November 2016
I obsessively searched for check lists in the final weeks before my due date. Did I have everything in my hospital bag? Did I have enough nappies, bottles, wipes? What else did I need? As it turns out, I had everything I needed for the baby. Too much, if anything (especially when it came to my hospital bag). However, there's a few things that I wish I'd organised for myself before having the baby that would have made new-mum life a bit easier.

1. Lounge wear - The chances are you'll spend the first few days, at least, indoors. No one wants to hang out wearing jeans and 'proper clothes' and you'll probably be stuck in the limbo between maternity and normal clothes anyway. At the same time, I'd feel like a total slob wearing pjs all day. Get some comfy lounge wear for your first few weeks - think leggings or joggers, hoodies, baggy t-shirts. Something that makes you feel like you 'got dressed', even if it's suspiciously close to pyjamas.

2. Easy Outfits - When you're finally ready to leave the house, chances are you won't want to (or have time to) start trying to put an acceptable outfit together. You'll want something comfortable, but a step up from the loungewear in point 1. I've lived in baggy jumpers and jumper dresses in the last few weeks and it takes me seconds to pull something together. I'd also highly recommend some kind of hat. I can't tell you how much use I've had from mine in the last few weeks. It means I can skip doing my hair, and it somewhat covers my sleep deprived face when I'm taking Oliver out for a walk!

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3. Snacks - Again, time for yourself is limited especially if your watching the baby alone. Try and have some snacks in the house that don't need any preparation. Even toast and tea can be a huge effort when you've only got one hand free. If you're breastfeeding or have a baby sleeping on you, you might find yourself sitting in one spot on the couch for a few hours so have some easy snacks to hand to keep you going.

4. TV and Entertainment - As above, you might find yourself sitting in the same spot for a while or awake at times in the night when the only thing on television is old episodes of The Bill or a repeat of Homes under the Hammer (which you probably watched already that morning). Use the time to start watching a new series on Netflix or find some new YouTubers to watch. I've become obsessed in parenting videos and have probably watched every video that comes under 'newborn tips'..

5. Easy, quick and portable make-up - This follows the same theme as above. You'll appreciate being able to cut your 'getting ready' time when it's already taken an hour to get everything together for the baby. At the moment, I wear the same basic make-up every day and I've got everything I need in a make-up bag which means I can lift it and do my make-up anywhere in the house, whether that's on the bed when Olivers napping on me, or while I'm sitting on the floor rocking his bouncy chair with my foot.

What were your essentials in the newborn days?


The First Month of Motherhood

Thursday, 17 November 2016
It's been one month since Oliver arrived and our lives changed in the biggest possible way. Most new mums say how this time flies by but for me, so much has happened that it's hard to believe that my 'old life' was only four weeks ago. Just four weeks ago, I was waddling around with a huge bump, lying awake with heartburn every night and wondering when my little boy would show up. It sounds ridiculous, but I spent 9 months waiting to meet my baby and when I first set eyes on him, my first reaction was total shock. I've grown a new person in my tummy. And now I'm his mum. 

My first month as a mother has had it's ups and downs. It's been hard, there's no denying that but its also been absolutely amazing and even throughout the stressful times, there's always this constant feeling of love and happiness that I have him. I was on the verge of tears one night at 4am - Oliver was crying and I was so sleep deprived that I wasn't even sure if I was awake or dreaming, but even though I felt so worn out, I was just staring at his face and my heart was just melting at how much I love him.

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Oliver's First Month

When Oliver was first born, he latched on straight away and breastfed like a pro. I hadn't planned to breastfeed, I hadn't really planned anything. I just thought I'd see how it goes, give breastfeeding a go and if it doesn't work, give him a bottle. As it turned out, Oliver knew his stuff and we didn't really need any help at all. Everything was going well for the first 3/4 days - he lost 4 ounces after birth, but was back to his birth weight within 4 days (which is quicker than average) so we knew he was feeding well. Oliver was a hungry boy, and would want fed every hour but by day 6, he was constantly looking for milk and after three sleepless nights where he was attached to me all night, I was losing my mind. I was crying, he was crying if he wasn't feeding. I wasn't sleeping at all. After a mental breakdown or two, I decided that we'd all be happier if we switched to bottle feeding. I cried with guilt at giving up (the sleep deprivation didn't help) but after his first bottle, he was actually full. He stopped crying for more milk and seemed so content. We were able to go out for a walk without worrying that he'd cry for milk the whole time. It was a huge relief and I knew it was the right decision. He's now taking 3-5oz every 3 hours and has the cutest little double chin to show for it.

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Oliver still needs to be held or cuddled all the time. He falls asleep in my arms without any problem, but as soon as he gets put down he wakes up and cries until he's picked up again. In the first couple of weeks, I'd spend the whole night repeating this process until morning when we'd both be exhausted. He'd fall straight into a deep sleep as soon as he lay on my chest, so one night I gave in. I wedged cushions and pillows under each side of me so I'd be unable to move if I tried, sat almost upright with my pillows behind me and let him sleep on my chest while I dozed. He slept for 4 hours straight before waking up for a bottle and we've been co-sleeping since then. I'm a really light sleeper and wake up with every little grunt that he makes, but I'd rather that than the alternative. I know it can't last forever, and I know there's lots of warnings about bed-sharing but at the moment, it's getting us through the first few weeks. I felt so guilty about it at first, but after speaking to other mums about it, I was surprised to find how many of them had done the exact same for the first few weeks. I'm trying to phase it out by getting him used to lying himself during the day and hope he'll be in his crib in the next couple of weeks. So far, we've managed 15 minutes straight in the bouncy chair - progress!

My First Month

It took a good two weeks to get over the physical effects of child birth. I won't go into too much detail as that might be a whole other post but let's just say stitches are hell on earth and I had no idea how sore they would be afterwards. In the first two weeks, I also developed PUPPS rash. Normally this appears in the last trimester and disappears after the birth. For me, it started the day after. It started with itching on my belly and behind my knees, and within two days I was covered in a red, raised rash that made me want to scratch my skin off. It was all over my legs, bum, belly and arms. I ended sleeping with wet toilet paper over my skin to try and soothe it. The doctor gave me steroid cream which did little to help. I did some research on line and found a link between the rash and the hormones released when breastfeeding and when I did eventually phase out the breastfeeding, the rash started to clear up. 

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The last two weeks have been much better. I'm physically recovered. My belly is back to 'normal' although I definitely need to get to the gym after Christmas. I've lost just over two stone since the day before I had Oliver which, other than baby and placenta, was mostly water I think. I was really swollen in the last few weeks of pregnancy - my feet were huge, my hands were huge and my face resembled the sarcastic moon emoji. A few days after the birth, I looked in the mirror and it actually looked like my face again! I still have weight to lose to get back into my pre-pregnancy jeans - I'm hoping all the long walks with the pram will help with that and I'm not stressing about it too much. 

Everything else aside, I absolutely love not being pregnant anymore. I'm now appreciating the little things like being able to get up from the couch unassisted and not having constant heartburn. 

Overall, it's been a difficult but amazing month for my new little family and we're excited to see what next month has in store for us! 

***

Remember you can follow my life with Oliver over on my instagram @maisymeowblog 

Do you have any tips for getting a newborn to sleep in his crib?

My Birth Story

Monday, 14 November 2016
Oliver Jack Wells - born Thursday 20th October at 6.28pm, weighing 6 pounds.

Here's the birth story - grab a cup of tea and make yourself comfy because it's a long one!


I finished work at 37 weeks and decided to spend my days going for long walks, and trying every old wives tale under the sun to get things moving. I'd spent the Tuesday and Wednesday out walking and had some lower back pain and the occasional pain that felt a bit like trapped wind in my back. I'd accepted that I'd probably go overdue though so I wasn't getting my hopes up too much.

On Wednesday 19th October, I was at home with Andy watching telly and bouncing on my birthing ball as per usual. I was shattered but since I'd been feeling so awful the last few days and was looking exhausted, I went for a long bath, put on some fake bake, painted my nails and washed my hair. When I went to bed, I had the full on fake-tan face and jokingly tweeted that I'd be in trouble if I went into labour during the night. If that wasn't tempting fate then I don't know what is!

I woke up at 1.30am, got up to go to the toilet and stood staring in disbelief as I watched my waters break onto the bathroom floor. TMI alert - there was a lot of water. Enough that I had time to shout on Andy, who then came through and joined in on the staring. We both had this look of horror/excitement on our faces. It was still a week until my due date! I phoned the hospital who said we had to come up to get checked, so I had a quick shower (to get rid of all the tan) and we headed in. I was shaking - not sure whether it was fear, excitement or both.

The hospital confirmed my waters had gone but that I definitely wasn't in labour. No dilation, no contractions .. nothing. I was to go home and wait to see if anything would happen and if not, they'd schedule me for an induction the following day. Luckily, on the way home I could already feel things happening. Again, it felt like trapped wind in my back and would come and go every now and then. There was no chance I was going back to sleep, so I lay awake until 6am when I just gave in, got up and cleaned the house from top to bottom. Nothing like a bit of last minute nesting!


By 8am, the contractions were coming thick and fast. I had planned to spend as much time at home as possible, but was also scared about waiting too long so we decided it was time to go to the hospital about 10am. At this point, I couldn't talk through contractions and they were every 2/3 minutes and last about 1 minute to 1 minute 30. I was already crying through a few of them by this point! 

When we arrived, I was praying that they'd tell me I was at least 5cm. When they told me I was 2cm, I was terrified. If this was 2cm, then what on earth is 10cm going to be like?! She also told me that my baby was lying 'back to back'. I'd read about that, and knew it was the most painful way to deliver, but the midwife played it down and said it's common and the baby usually turns before he comes out. I still don't know if he did it or not. That midwife had given me some gas and air to calm me down before she checked me and when I asked if I could hang on to it, she said 'wait until your further along before you use pain relief, you'll understand why later..'. Those words hung in the air for a while after she left and made me feel ten times more scared for what was to come. 

Luckily, they let me stay in and sent me to the labour ward to wait it out. I was offered paracetamol and a bath, but neither helped and an hour and a half later, I caved and asked for the epidural. My plan was to try and go without the epidural mainly because I'm terrified of getting a catheter, which seems daft in the grand scheme of things I know. The midwife offered to check my progress first, and I nearly cried with happiness when she told me I was 8cm. She was shocked too, and said how amazing it was that I'd got to that point without any pain relief..I'd only been there an hour and a half!  If I'd gone from 2cm to 8cm zo quickly then I could be pushing soon, I thought, so I didn't want the epidural. I had a whole new sense of energy as they took me up to the delivery room. 


I had to get to 10cm and I had gas and air which helped a little at this point. The contractions were getting so strong and about two hours later, I remember the feeling changed. At the end of every contraction, I was pushing. It wasn't by choice, it felt like my body was doing this on it's own and I was really worried that I was doing myself damage by pushing too early but at the same time, I literally couldn't stop it. The midwife who was with us offered to check me again and this was the moment when everything changed. It started with her telling me she'd check see if we could safely start pushing, and ended with her telling me that a mistake had been made earlier and I was actually only 6cm at this point. My heart broke and I felt so helpless. I was back to square one. Not only was it unsafe for me to push, but I had a good few hours of these awful contractions ahead of me. At this point, I wanted all the pain medication. I was physically and mentally exhausted and knew I couldn't possibly go through hours and hours of this. 

What I didn't realise, was how long an epidural would take. Even when the anesthetist showed up, he took ages to get started. Slowly and calmly telling me all the ins and outs of the procedure, while I was crying in pain and begging him to get started. I was lying on the bed shouting in agony - yes, I was that person from One Born Every Minute who you can hear outside the ward. It was the involuntary pushing at the end of each contraction that hurt the most and I felt like I just wanted to run away from the pain.

The epidural process was horrendous. It took so long, and since I was perched on the side of the bed hunched over a pillow, the contraction pain was much stronger than before. The only thing that kept me going was thinking how each contraction could be the last one I could feel. The anesthetist said it could be around 15 minutes before the numbness kicks in, but half an hour later my contractions were stronger than ever and I could feel everything. The doctors checked me from head to toe and around an hour later, they confirmed that the epidural had failed. All that, and no pain relief. I'd actually added more pain to the process, and still had to endure the contractions but with a huge needle in my back. I didn't realise an epidural could fail. The doctor said 'it happens sometimes' and offered to try again but there was no way I was going through that process again. I didn't even have the energy to talk. I was just lying there terrified for the next contraction and staring at the clock trying to set myself a goal to make it too. 

My body was still pushing with every contraction - no matter how much the midwife told me to breathe out and relax, I couldn't control it. She checked me around 5.45pm and told me that I'd finally reached 10cm and could start properly pushing now. I'd always imagined getting to this point and feeling so relieved, but in reality I was so exhausted and delirious by this point that I didn't really acknowledge it .. I'd been 'pushing' for hours anyway!

The next 40 minutes were a blur. I had always tried to imagine what giving birth would actually feel like, but it was nothing like I'd imagined. It was just the oddest feeling and I'd never be able to explain it. When his head was out, I could actually feel him moving. And the feeling when the final push got him out was the biggest relief ever.

And there he was. This tiny little baby with a head of thick, dark hair staring up at us. He had a really short umbillical cord, so I had to deliver the placenta before I could hold him but that only took a few minutes.

I'm actually welling up when I'm writing this, thinking about the first time I held him. It was the best feeling ever and I can safely say it still hasn't stopped. I've spent hours and hours just staring at his face, wondering how on earth we made him. Despite my huge bump, he weighed a tiny 6 pounds. He has been an absolute angel since that day and although it's a total cliche, no matter how awful the labour (and the pregnancy) was, I would do it ten times over for him. Welcome to the world Oliver! 



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