Baby Purchases I Should Have Made

Claire is 3.5 months old now, and has left newborn-hood behind while growing bigger every single day.

I sense she's going to be an emotional little poppet as she grows up - because she's either delightfully happy, or she's frightfully sad/angry. Life in the extremes; it's a real thing. When she was younger, I felt she would have quite a zen personality, she seemed so happy to go with the flow of things. Now that she's showing more of her personality, I am eating my words. She knows what she likes.. and what she doesn't like.

Unfortunately for me, those things involve sleeping, cars, being out of your arms... meaning I've not been getting much done around these parts, and that leaving the house is quite the challenge. That said - baby cuddles. Is there anything sweeter?

Now that we're a few months in, there are a few things I wish I'd purchased earlier to help with baby #2. It's probably too late to get them now, as they'd only be helpful for a short time anyway, but if we were ever to get to go through this again {wishful thinking?} OR if they should happen to fall from the sky into our laps, I think they'd come in very handy.

#1: A new breast pump

I kept my Medela Swing Maxi (double electric pump) from when Georgia was born - hoping I wouldn't have to use it with this baby. But, surprise! When Claire was having all of the issues early on, and when my boobs were so shredded from 8 weeks of tongue tie feeding, the pump soon became my best friend. Unfortunately for me, at almost four years old, it's pretty lack luster now. The suction is really poor, I've done all the troubleshooting to help it, and it's just not working. There are so many new, hospital grade pumps on the market now, I wish I'd just turfed the old one & purchased a new one.

#2: A padded swing

We borrowed a swing from my brother, but Claire is NOT a fan. Thing is, it's not the proper, cushioned, newborn-type swing, it's more of just a standard recliner seat that rocks. She was never comfortable in there & slid around a lot, so there was none of that blissful newborn swing napping that I've heard about from nearly every other baby in existence. I think if it had better padding & neck support, or potentially even the option to rock from side-to-side, she would have liked it better.

#3: A White Noise Machine

We currently use an old iPod docking station that has white noise options available as backgrounds, but we really need something that's portable and can go from room to room. We've only recently moved it out of Georgia's room and into ours - not that it's helped much with Claire's terrible sleep so far. There may still be time to invest in a good one... if I can convince hubby that it's worth trying.

Hindsight, eh? In the meantime... here is the reason I've been so busy and left my blog a little abandoned lately. This ray of sunshine // ball of emotions, she makes me smile every day. And throw in her bossy and fiesty and gorgeous big sister, and I am so happy... and so tired... and so lucky.

2016: The Year That Was

Happy New Year! I'm only a week late. :)

Reading last year's review post makes me sad - the place I was in was such a sad and frustrated one, and it was so, so lonely. If you'd told me that in a year's time, things would have been so much better, I wouldn't have believed you - how could it? But I was proved wrong. 2016 brought us hope.

I'm following the same format as years gone by - (2006200720082009, 2010, 2011201220132014 & 2015)

1. What did you do in 2016 that you’d never done before? 
Became a mama of two.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year? Surprisingly, yes! I vowed to get pregnant - and we did! :) 

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? I did! And it was wonderful. 

4. Did anyone close to you die? Not this year.

5. What countries did you visit? None. We stayed close to home.

6. What would you like to have in 2017 that you lacked in 2016? A little more patience.

7. What dates from 2016 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? January 28th, when we transferred Olaf. April 12th, when we found out that Olaf was a healthy baby GIRL. September 30th, when she was born & when Georgia became a big sister.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
 With the help of bedrest, family and a good doctor, I managed to bake Claire until she was ready to be kicked out - and then thanks to a fast labour, I gave birth to her naturally.

9. What was your biggest failure? Wishing time away - now I wish it would slow down!

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? No.

11. What was the best thing you bought? We extended our deck and added a pergola.

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration? Oh, my lovely husband. I've said it before, how lucky I am - but this year took the cake. Not only did he take care of Georgia AND look after me during my weeks of hospital bedrest, he did it while starting a new job. He has continued to step it up and help us all adjust to being a family of four. My Mum has also been a rockstar this year. Very proud of her.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed? Quite a few people.

14. Where did most of your money go? IVF, pregnancy, baby stuff, pergola.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
BABY OMG BABY.

16. What song will always remind you of 2016? 
Turning Page - Sleeping at Last

I've waited a hundred years
But I'd wait a million more for you
Nothing prepared me for
What the privilege of being yours would do

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
(a) Happier or Sadder? Happier.
(b) Thinner or Fatter? Fatter.
(c) Richer or Poorer? Poorer.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of? Sleeping - I miss it.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of? Stressing out - trying not to sweat the small stuff.

20. How did you spend Christmas in 2016? With our little family, once again. :) 

21. Did you fall in love in 2016? My heart expanded even more this year.
22. How many one-night stands? I'm too old for these questions now, I fear.

23. What was your favourite TV program? The favourite this year was Westworld.

24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year? Yes.

25. What was the best book you read? I've been embarrassingly slack on the book front this year. I did enjoy 'The Girl on the Train' earlier in the year.

26. What was your greatest musical discovery? Well, they're new to ME - Straight No Chaser. I listened to them a lot at Christmas time.

27. What did you want and get? My sweet Claire.

28. What did you want and not get? Time and understanding.

29. What was your favourite film of this year? Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I turned 32 this year, and we spent the day at the park with Georgia, at 29 weeks pregnant!

31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? Having family things work out differently.

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2016? Stretchy maternity clothes!

33. What kept you sane? Friends, family & the internet.

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? I quite like looking at the guy from the Divergent/Insurgent movies.

35. What political issue stirred you the most? Donald fucking Trump.

36. Who did you miss? I miss my Dad.

37. Who was the best new person you met? My lovely new Mum friends, who have been so lovely this year and got me through the crazy newborn days that I had almost forgotten about.

38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2016. You've got this.

39. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year. “Welcome to the planet, welcome to existence. Everyone's here, everyone's here. Everybody's watching you now, everybody waits for you now.. What happens next?"

40. What are your resolutions for 2017? I'm planning on letting go of the small stuff, and living in the moment with the family I never thought I'd have. :) 

Happy New Year, friends. 

The Difference a Year Makes

It's almost Christmas time! As I sit here and look at my slightly neglected blog - sorry, blame the baby! - the tree is flickering in the background and the decorations are up.. I keep thinking about what a year it's been.

This time last year, I was in a bad place. I was excited for the season, because I adore experiencing it through Georgia's eyes, but I was completely ready for the year to be over. I had just had my third miscarriage, and we were no closer to expanding our family. I spent December exploring other options for us, and my hopes were very low.

Little did I know that just the following month, we would see another positive pregnancy test, one that would stay, and grow, and develop into the tiny human who is snoring in her bouncer at my feet.

This Christmas, our family grew by two feet. This beautiful girl, she's the miracle I dreamed for last year - a sidekick for Georgia, a partner in crime. Claire is a gift, that's for sure. I'm so excited to be here.


On Hating the Car

Some days I think I'm doing okay with the whole 'keeping two small children alive' thing - and some days, I feel like I'm barely keeping my head above water.

Throw in two medical procedures in three weeks, and it's been pretty tiring. First Claire's tongue tie, then Georgia's tonsillectomy/adenoidectomy, and we're all still in the recovery phase. It's been full on.
Both girls have come out the other side and are on the mend - which makes all the stress worthwhile. But I'll admit, it's left me feeling a little a whole lot frazzled. This mama needs a drink, a massage & a night out on her own.. stat!
The big kid is a 50/50 mixture of sweetness and attitude, serious attitude. When she's good, she's very very good, but when she's bad... oy. Brace yourself. She can be hard work - and requires a lot of patience.

The little kid is a ball of smooshy squishness and is absolutely adorable. I still can't believe she's here. She's turning out a lot like her sister; in that when she's happy, she's delightful. But when she's not happy? We ALL hear about it. In fact, half the street probably hears about it. Girl's got lungs.
The hardest thing about life with the two girls right now is going anywhere. Not because I can't cope with the two, or that they're hard when they're out - that's going ok for the most part, and getting out of the house is good for everyone. No, it's the way we get there.
You see, Claire hates the car.
HATES IT.
Not just dislikes, not just fussy; I'm talking hates it with the intensity of a thousand white-hot suns. Our car rides are filled with ear piercing yells and screams, crying that builds up to fever pitch, that cannot be soothed until she's out of that hell on wheels.
Unfortunately for us, we're in the car a fair bit, especially on the hour round trip to Georgia's daycare. I literally have to brace myself at every traffic light.
I've tried nearly everything I can think of: with additional head support, with the head support removed from the car seat, car shades on the window, lullaby music, white noise on repeat, a mirror for her to see me, dangly toys, no dangly toys, dummy in (doesn't last long), her vibrating elephant doll that acts as a soother, air conditioning on arctic levels to ensure she's not sweating. I've even been to the doctor to make sure she's physically okay - and she's got the all clear.
It doesn't matter if I stop the car to comfort her; nothing works until I actually remove her from the car. And if I cuddle or feed to soothe, it's all well & good... until we get her back in, and she starts all over again. 
Has anyone else had a car-hater? I'm quite prepared to try anything to help her out of this phase. 

Two Months Old

What a doozy of a month this was!

Claire didn't put on a great deal of weight in the first half of this month, likely due to her tongue tie issues. It's been just over a week and she's feeding a lot better - so hopefully she'll just keep on gaining at a  healthy pace from here on in.

My little baby is not a newborn anymore - she's smiling, responding to you when you talk, watching Georgia like a hawk. It's lovely seeing her interact with her environment, her bouncer toys, and even the cats!

That said, those glorious sleepy newborn days are also gone, meaning she's awake a lot more and wants to be snuggled ALL THE TIME. Which is totally fine by me (babyyyyyyyyyyhugs) but means that poor hubby comes home to an empty dinner table more than I'd like to admit. Cereal for tea, anyone?

Claire has glorious munchable thighs, just like her sister had. In some respects, she's so much like her - in others, she's completely different. If I had a dollar for every time someone compared the two girls and exclaim that 'they look nothing alike!' I think I'd be a millionaire... and she's only 8 weeks old.

Yep, she's certainly different - she's her own little person, after all. And I LOVE it!

Tongue Tied

Turns out, I was right. In short: Claire had a pretty obvious tongue tie, which was 70% restricted & affecting her feeding.

Her checkup with the paediatrician was fairly boring - which was a good thing! Even after telling him about my breastfeeding concerns, he brushed off the idea of a tongue/lip tie, and barely even looked inside her mouth. I thought he might take me seriously when he weighed her & she was showing fairly slow growth on the charts.
She was 4.1kg at birth, 3.8kg on hospital discharge, and at 7-weeks old, she weighed in at 4.8kg. That means, she's gained an average of 100g a week (a 700g difference) which is under what they'd like her to be at. She's gone from being on the 97th percentile at birth, to under the 50th percentile now. It's not that average is bad; it's just that the drop has been consistent every week. 
Despite this, and despite me sharing that the pain from post-breastfeeding was bad enough to consider giving up, the paediatrician told me to 'just persevere until she hits six months, as that's a good age to aim for while feeding.' 
Are you kidding me? I left that appointment fuming. To disregard our breastfeeding troubles like that, to a Mum who has done this before and KNOWS something isn't right... well, it wasn't a great feeling.
That same afternoon, I rang a qualified Lactation Consultant who specialised in feeding issues and ties, and got an appointment for the following week. That was on Monday.
We had a lengthy consultation, and she spent a lot of time watching Claire feed, and performing an oral examination to see what was going on inside of her mouth. She commended us on feeding and gaining as she had been, and declared that Claire was working the hardest she could to feed well - but despite all of our efforts getting her latch as deep as possible, it was still too shallow to be fully effective.
Claire had a tongue tie that was fairly restricted. She could poke her tongue down, but couldn't reach it up or sideways. She wasn't forming an adequate seal at the base of the breast while feeding, and she was constantly running out of energy because of all the reattaching she had to do to keep up with the feed. She's also got an extremely high palate - likely not helped by the tongue tie - meaning she was never able to draw my nipple as far back as it needed to be.
The LC showed me a few tips to help us continue as we were, with Claire opening her mouth as far as she could to feed; but she also gave me the option to get information about the frenectomy procedure too, so that I could make a decision as to what to do next. I decided to go ahead with that option, and we had it done that same day.
The procedure itself was over with quickly, but not particularly pleasant. We opted to go the scissor route, and so it was fast - but bloody. Claire was a real champion; I was a mess! She fed straight after it was done, and fell asleep not long after that - leaving me covered in breastmilk mixed with blood. (I forgot how much mouth wounds bleed!)
It's been four full days since her tongue tie was revised, and she's definitely feeding better. Her mouth is open, her latch is wider, and she's coming on/off the breast a lot less. It's too early to say whether it's been a lifesaver for myself, but it'll take time to perfect everything - the trick will be whether we can encourage her to change her habits and become more efficient, which should in turn help with the overuse of my nipples that has been leading to vasospasms. We will see! 
All in all, it's been a good learning experience - and it's shown that I need to trust my mama-bear instincts more. :)

Update: I forgot to mention- they observed her upper lip too, and while she has quite a thick frenulum, it is not impacting her feeding and is very flexible, so that was declared completely normal & did not require revising.

Boob Talk

I'm going to talk about boobs for a bit, so if that's not your thing, feel free to skedaddle for a bit. :)

So - breastfeeding.

A bit of backstory: When Georgia was born, she ended up in special care from that first day. We never had skin to skin time at the beginning, and when we were finally allowed to attempt breastfeeding, she never mastered how to latch on to the nipple. It took her a long time to develop her suck reflex, and we were never able to feed without a nipple shield. Due to this combination, our journey was always going to be a rocky one. We battled on though; expressing for top ups after each feed, 3-hourly feeds for what felt like months, using messy shields - and we happily made it to that magical 12 month mark.

Needless to say, I was wary of how feeding would go with Claire. It was different this time; we had a good hour of cuddles post-birth, she latched straight on to my boob immediately, and even though there were a few days in special care with formula bottles, she still managed to breastfeed too - and my milk came in just before we were both discharged from hospital.

It's been anything but easy, though. So far, we've gone through extended engorgement, crappy latching (adjusted thanks to lots of help), on/off feeds, forceful letdowns, oral thrush, and breast pain in the form of nipple vasospasms - agony!

It's been a bit of a vicious cycle:

Wear breast pads all the time, so you don't leak all over the place with every letdown.
Don't wear breast pads, or change them frequently, because they can hold in moisture & exacerbate thrush.
Let your nipples dry naturally after breastfeeding to help the thrush disappear.
But then don't do that, because dry cool air will cause you to have painful vasospasms.
Use lanolin cream as soon as you're done feeding, to keep nipples from drying out.
But then we're back to wearing breast pads, in fear of ruining all of your clothing.

Good lord, this is ridiculous! Boobs, man. What's a girl to do?

Anyway - we've done our thrush treatment and both of us seem fine now. We're back into the 'keep boosies warm at all times' stage, meaning as soon as I'm done with a feed, I whack on the lanolin ointment, and make sure I have breast warming pads in my bra to keep things at a warm temperature. I've also been prescribed nifedipine to see if that helps combat the circulation issues that are causing the vasospasms

Her feeding has definitely improved since those early weeks. When Claire was two weeks old, it was bad - really bad. There were multiple nights where I was up in the wee hours, sitting in the rocking chair and sobbing my heart out, because she was hurting me, my breasts were throbbing, and couldn't we just do formula? My poor husband felt so helpless. Lack of sleep makes everything seem so, so hard. I got a lot of help after that point, and we kept moving forward - making sure she is only feeding with a deeper latch, taking her off if it's even slightly uncomfortable, and feeding off the least sensitive breast first.

It's a lot better now.

The only lingering issue I have is the vasospasms - but I'm trying to combat that with everything I've got. It is uncomfortable, but it's manageable.

I'm meeting with Claire's pediatrician next week & we're going to re-examine her for tongue tie, to see if that's been the cause of some of the issues - but we got the all clear at birth and at our 2-week check, so I don't expect much to come of it. The research seems to be varied; some practitioners don't believe it to be an issue, others don't bother with them unless they're very severe. We'll see what he says.

Whatever happens, I'm grateful to so far have a decent supply that is feeding Claire nicely, and I'm happy she's not stuck using a shield constantly. I've also been expressing (just once a day, after her morning feed) so I have a little bit frozen in case I need a break. We're six weeks in & still going, and that's something. Now to see how the journey goes from here on in!

Did you struggle with breastfeeding? Any hints, or tips, or suggestions for this mama? :)

One Month Old

I think it's safe to say that this past month has been the fastest one in history.

Claire turned 1 month old - and is an absolute delight.

I was so excited to be taking her monthly pictures, like I did with her big sister - and even more so when she decided to take that opportunity to turn some tummy time into roly-poly time. Best of all, I caught it on video. Such a clever little chicken. :)

These next few weeks are likely to be pretty busy. We have both her and my 6-week appointments with our specialists, and Georgia has an appointment of her own, visiting an ENT specialist that she's been on a waiting list for.

One thing's for sure - second babies have to learn to go with the flow. I've carted Claire out and about constantly, and the infant capsule has been getting a great workout between the car and the pram. Definitely worth the investment!

The Newborn Haze

Somehow I blinked and Claire hit three weeks old and counting. That's almost a month old.

A MONTH OLD.

Whaaaat? I swear I was just walking in to the hospital for my induction yesterday.. and now it's nearly November.

Just look how much she's grown!
The last few weeks have been a blur. A happy blur, emotional blur, exhausted blur, full of surprises blur.
***
Flailing hands and fumbling breastfeeds.
Plenty of snuggles and sniffing that sweet newborn scent in her hair.
Heart exploding moments watching these two girls get to know each other.
Sobbing moments in the wee hours of the morning, trying to re-learn how this all works.
Face twitches and cheeky smiles while she drifts off to sleep.
Hours spent memorising her face, taking in every feature of this new little person, who is so different to what I imagined, but so exactly what I had been dreaming of for the longest time.
***
I have so much to say, and no energy to say it all.
Let me just tell you this right now: I've never been so tired, or so happy, in my entire life.. and I'm loving it.
These moments are worth all of the heartache and the disappointment and the frustration. I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

Claire's Birth - part iv {birth and post-birth}

The pushing stage felt weirdly good - weird, because it still hurt like hell, but good because it gave me something to focus on.

I remember sobbing and begging my doctor to 'not let me tear!' and 'please don't let her get stuck!' - both of which were my biggest fears about the labour itself, aside from the baby being okay. We had discussed both of these at length in prior appointments, which is why my OB gave me the option of having the epidural at the beginning of the induction - but it was too late now, and my doctor just kept guiding me through it. Jase was alongside me holding my hand because I was a nervous wreck, so he didn't get to witness the whole experience first-hand like he did with Georgia's birth.

Having the baby without an epidural felt so, so different. It was hard and it was painful, but it felt really amazing at the same time - even though I was so terrified of the aftermath. I just wanted our little baby out and safely out; the rest didn't matter. After a few pushes, her head was born - and she'd managed to turn herself during the labour to present face-down, thank goodness! Not long after, the rest of her followed. I heard my doctor exclaim that she was indeed 'a good size!'

(Random gas-induced hallucination for good measure: have you ever watched an episode of One Born Every Minute? Well, it's been a ritual for me during both pregnancies to go on a binge-watching spree in the third trimester, perhaps to mentally prepare myself for my labours? When a baby is about to be born, there's this music that plays - just an instrumental sound really - well, as I was pushing the baby out, that music was going through my head, as if I were a Mum featured on the show.)

They placed her up onto my chest immediately, and wrapped her in a towel - and the first thing I saw was her dark, dark hair. We were expecting another brunette like Georgia - but our newest little lady had a crop of pitch black hair that was twice as thick as what her sister's was. Since her birth, it's the first thing that people have commented on - so much hair!

This is my 'I just pushed this kid out with no epidural' stunned face. Also featuring: my trusty gas nozzle.

I was still half anticipating someone to have to take her away from me, that she'd end up in Special Care, so when they told me I could enjoy some skin to skin time and just soak it all up, I wasn't quite sure what to do. I snuggled that sweet baby girl fiercely, let me tell you! Hubby got to cut her cord {again, something he missed out on doing last time} and then we just sat together and soaked it all in.

The doctor checked everything out downstairs, and gave me some good news - I didn't tear! I was so relieved, I could have cried. He said he'd check again once the placenta was delivered {which was pretty uncomfortable, and which I was glad to still have the gas & air tube for} - and when he did, he said that all looked very well, and that there was a slight internal graze that would heal on its own; no stitches required. I couldn't believe it!

They don't generally weigh the babies right there in delivery suite, preferring to do it in the nursery for their initial checks - but the OB was curious to see her weight. We were all guessing the high 3's - so somewhere around 3.8 or 3.9kg. The scales in the room showed her as 4.070kg. I grew a 4kg+ baby in there - oh my gosh. Lots of 'ooohs' and 'aaahs' and I was pretty damn relieved that I had trusted my OB's intuition and had the induction based on her size, because she would have been a very large baby if we'd left it another 2-3 weeks for spontaneous delivery. He then bid us goodbye, and headed back to his office.

(I found out later from another Mum who was waiting in his rooms for her 11am appointment, that my OB had literally sprinted out of his office and down the hallway after receiving a phone call - she commented that she had never seen him move that fast before. That was just before 11am... and I delivered the baby at 11:04am. Thank goodness his rooms are located across the road from the hospital!)

Our little girl - Claire - was amazing. Ten fingers, ten toes, smooshy cheeks and rolls for days. She latched on and breastfed within the first few minutes. Nobody rushed us, which I'm grateful for. I got up to shower and hubby had some skin to skin time with Claire in the recliner, and then we bid farewell to the delivery suite and headed to the ward. First stop: the nursery!

They organised her official weight and measurement check here, and on their scales, Claire weighed 4.140kg. Even bigger than we had thought! She was 49cm long and a gorgeous dark pink/red colour. All checks aside, they let us wander down to our room - our room! We had a baby in our room!

That afternoon, Georgia got to visit her baby sister - and my heart just about exploded with happiness.

How could we be this lucky? After all the heartache, all the scares this pregnancy, the bedrest, the anxiety, the fear... I got to witness my daughter becoming a big sister. Everything was worth it for this moment alone.
We had an uneventful first few days together, but then Claire's jaundice levels started rising, and on Day 3 she was admitted to Special Care for time under the bilirubin lights. It was really upsetting for me, after the tease of her being in the room with us.. but she was such a content little baby, and she spent the entire two days snoring peacefully with her little sunglasses on. We stayed an extra night in hospital afterwards to ensure her feeding continued to take off {as she'd needed to supplement with formula while in the SCN, as extra hydration kicks the jaundice faster} and then we were released home.

Home! With my daughters - DAUGHTERS! Oh, man. Is this real?

So there you have it: a successful induction, a two-hour labour with no time for pain relief apart from gas and air, a good sized and healthy baby girl - and finally, a family of four.
It feels like she's been here all along.

Missed part of Claire's birth story? 





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