I had another piece that I was going to post today (or three days ago, actually) about how wonderful I think it is that Instagram is trialling the hiding of ‘likes’. I had a whole spiel ready to publish but now, it all seems irrelevant. […]
Guaranteed, at least once a day someone will come up to me and ask me, “So is he a good baby?” I cannot tell you how sick of that question I am – not just because I get asked it so often, but because when […]
Samantha Michelle Fishburn and I went to high school together. We were in the same Maths and PDHPE classes together. We crossed paths regularly, saw each other every day, but we were never close, we were never friends. We both sat with different groups of girls, finding our place not only within the school walls but also in the larger sense. It were the days that we spent at Riverside Girls High School that set us up for everything that we had no idea was coming our way.
Since Hunter has been born, Sam has been one of our biggest cheerleaders. Everything that I have posted about Hunter and about motherhood, Sam has been right there, supporting us. When things have been tough, it has been her words that have really helped through. Being a mother has brought me so many beautiful thing apart from my incredible son, and one of them is definitely the new friendship that I have found with Sam. It has also confirmed why I continue to push forward with this site, this brand and the huge goals I have for it; there is nothing more important than having support, love and a community around you.
Samantha had a very different birth story to what I did, and it is the first time that I have really had an insight into what some families go through when welcoming their child into this world. Pete and I are grateful each and every day that Hunter was born without complication. He was healthy, happy and we were able to take him home the day after he was born. Though I feel lucky and honoured and so very thankful every day for Hunter’s health and wellbeing, before hearing Sam’s story I think I was naive about anything else outside of my own experience.
If there is only one post that you ever read on this site, let it be this one.
Thank you Sam for being so vulnerable, open, raw and honest; thank you for allowing me the opportunity to share your story here, today. Hunter and I think the world of you.
“It’s amazing how much one tiny human can teach you about yourself and about life in such a short space of time. When my waters broke at 32 weeks (conveniently in the hospital) and my 3rd and final bubba Alaric Alexander John was born, I don’t think it really set in how much of a profound effect he would have on my life. Alaric was born at 10:55pm on the 3rd of November, 2018. He was due on the 28th of December, 2018 I barely got to hold, let alone lay eyes on him until nearly two hours later. My first real glimpses of him were via text message from my husband who I had sent down to the NICU with Alaric. Whilst he was born a nice 5lb, he was actually quite a skinny little man with his little noodle arms and chicken legs. He didn’t have eyebrows or eyelashes but he did have an amazing head of hair. As every mum thinks of their child, to me, he was perfect. My first time seeing Alaric didn’t even feel real, it was hard to comprehend that a few hours ago I was at home pregnant with at least another five weeks of pregnancy left to go. But here he was.
I think the big thing people don’t understand about having a baby in NICU/SCN, is that even though you can’t physically do too much for them in terms of picking them up and cuddling and loving them, it is more of an emotional roller coaster. It is physically and mentally exhausting. IThe unknown is overwhelming. It is lonely.
I mean, I had so many people checking in and wanting updates and making sure I didn’t need anything. I had my mums group on facebook chatting away in our private group chat, but it was so hard to know what to say – you just dont want to talk to people after a while because honestly, unless you’ve been through this journey (and every prem journey is different), you can’t even begin to understand the emotions that the family is going through. I had no idea what to say about anything to anyone.
We were in our own little bubble; Alaric and I. Having a husband, a hoard of dogs and two kids already at home who needed me, my heart was always in two places. I missed my big kids, but they were okay. Their teachers at daycare were showering them in love and my husband was managing to hold down the fort, so I stayed with Alaric as much as I could.
The big thing though was milk.. despite being tiny, this bubba ATE. He was fed every three hours via tube for the first two weeks before he was truly trying to breastfeed. So, when I wasn’t sitting with Alaric or looking after myself or sleeping, I was pumping milk. For any of you needing to do this, a few key tips that helped me were:
1. A good TV series is a must! It kept me awake and made the time pass a hell of alot faster especially at 2am when I was playing the nodding dog game.
2. Water!! Lots of water – I swear I was part camel with the amount I was consuming.
3. SNACKS!! Nearly 6 months post partum and I still wake nearly every night at 3am and I’m starving!!! You are feeding a human being, you need to feed you too! Screw the diet! If you want pizza at 3am – EAT THE PIZZA!! My personal snack of choice was biscuits – oreos and 100s and 1000s biscuits specifically.
4. The amount you pump and produce is not an indicator of your supply – honestly every drop is awesome. So be it 1ml or 100ml, mama you are amazing.
I did have to supplement Alaric with formula for the first 48 hours as I was beyond exhausted and the lack of sleep combined with everything else, my boobs went on strike until I looked after me. From then on though, it was as my husband dubbed it “Bessie-the-Cow” time every 3 hours. I am very pro breastfeeding, but at the same time I also am in full support of ‘informed is best’. As long as you have the correct information for the different options that support your choice then no one should judge what you choose. All babies need to eat and as I’ve witnessed, breastfeeding isn’t always possible for everyone. We were allowed to cuddle Alaric once a day for a short period – prems often have trouble regulating and holding their body temperature, so you are encouraged to embrace kangaroo or skin to skin cuddles which also helps build a bond. I lived for these moments; just the peace and serenity, the amazing newborn smell – everything. I let my husband enjoy the first cuddle because he was on limited visiting time as the hospital was a 45 minute drive from home and his work schedule was jammed packed. But when my time came it was beyond worth the wait.
The hardest thing I ever had to do though, was go home empty handed.
Nine days as an inpatient at the hospital, I had stayed beyond my allowable days and since we were considered local (yep, 50km one way is local), it was time for me to head home and make the daily trek to see Alaric and drop milk off until a place at our local closer hospital became available now that he was older and more stable. I remember bawling my eyes out because as I was leaving the hospital there were other families wheeling their babies out of the ward and to their cars. I remember waving to my ward mate who was heading home with her third little girl as our cars crossed paths. It felt weird – I walked in pregnant and I was leaving not pregnant with no baby. I knew it wasnt forever but it was definitely one of the harder things I have ever had to do.
Despite not having a newborn at home, you don’t get alot of sleep as the parent of a prem – continually missing him, thinking and worrying about him and expressing milk, mixed in with the daily grind of being a mum and chief dog wrangler. I was relieved the day that we were transferred to a smaller nursery in our local hospital which was only 20 minutes from home. This meant that in the six hours between breastfeeds (we started at one breastfeed a day then gradually progressed to two tube feeds, to one suck feed to two suck feeds to a tube, to alternate feeds to all suck feeds) I was able to pop home, do housework and get groceries, whatever was needed. It also meant that I could go up to the hospital after dinner when the other kids were in bed. We managed to introduce some kind of balance and routine going where I didn’t feel like the entire burden was on my husband.
One of the many perks of this unit were that there were fewer nurses so you got to know them and they pretty much became your other family, the other mums that were there became your people and you’d make small talk and celebrate the successes no matter how small. I introduced the phrase of “think fat thoughts” when it came time for weigh-ins so we would be forever willing each baby to be just a bit heavier every weigh. I was blessed to make actual friends with two other mums in the nursery – one who was actually next to me in the bigger hospital with her twins and another whose little boy was born three days after Alaric. It was good because they had been living the same life so we were able to trade stories of bad food to embarrassing labour issues. It made the days much more enjoyable and we still talk and catch up now.
It’s just so amazing seeing how much they’ve all grown and changed. Miracle Babies Organisation also run local playgroups which we are a regular fixture of and it’s so amazing seeing so many little fighters flourishing. I always look forward to going because it’s a place where being a preemie is totally normal. The nurses in this unit encouraged us to be hands on and cuddle our babies and learn as much as we could so we were confident coming home. We were taught the daily supplement routine and how to give them pentavite (NOTE TO ANY FUTURE PREEMIE MUMS – PENTAVITE STINKS!! You will NEVER forget the smell) and we were given power to make decisions in regards to things like top-up feeds etc. They were really trying to give us our control and confidence back so we were ready to handle anything once we were discharged.
At 35+3 weeks, or 24 days old, the doctors discharged us from the hospital.
I burst into tears and continued to bawl for 20 minutes upon hearing this. He was tiny, only weighing about 500g heavier than his birth weight and I had NO IDEA what I was doing. I was beyond terrified. I was used to big chunky babies, not this tiny human who pretty much fit in the palm of my hand. I really didn’t feel ready to leave the safety of the hospital and the nurses – hell, we had only become wire-free 24 hours earlier. I was scared of the outside world, its germs and the people. My nurse of the day, Kerrie, just kept handing me tissues telling me I could stay if I wanted, they weren’t kicking me out. I knew though that my kids wanted their baby brother to come home. My husband wanted more than a 50% wife, and I was over expressing and the constant travel. I wanted to be able to stay in my pyjamas all day and just cuddle my baby on my couch. So home we went..
The day after he was discharged we had his tounge tie revised and released and a general visit with the lactation consultant who was empowering and made me feel like I had a handle on this. Every day got a little easier, every day the anxiety lessened as Alaric continued to gain weight and grow. Oh and for any preemie mums – the explanation as to why your baby is so tiny despite their age becomes a second nature conversation as well as the comments about the chubby cheeks that most seem to get. I cannot go anywhere without soneone commenting about my little chubba bubba’s cheeks.
Alaric is, as of the 3rd of May, six months old or four months corrected. In the short six months of his life, he has been through more than most adults – CPAP, two rounds of phototherapy for jaundice, countless blood tests, lumbar puncture, two further hospital admissions – one for meningitis entrovirus and one for CMV -IVs/cannulas of varying natures, visits to various specialists including a paediatric Opthamologist in Sydney (we have a review in June to see if he needs glasses).
He loves bath time, his siblings and our big pointer, Romeo. Bibs are our fashion accessory with the continual reflux issues. We started in 00000 and now fit 000 and a few 00 pieces despite weighing nearly 8kg (no idea where it’s hiding). He has just started to roll and has the most amazing smile, it literally makes everything better no matter what. Me as a mum and as a person, I have grown and learnt so much about myself. I am consistent with my daily meds now, whereas before I could be a little sporadic. I know the routes to the hospitals like the back of my hand, more medical terminology than I’d like and I’ve learnt that even the smallest beings can teach you about strength and bravery, and that preemies are true superheroes. I’ve learnt patience and that babies (and kids) do everything in their own time and not before. I’ve learnt kindness, love and compassion from total strangers. Most importantly, I’ve learnt that I can handle more than I know and that I’m actually a strong person even when I feel completely broken.
To the mama sitting with their baby in the NICU/SCN – it does get better, you are amazing and you have been blessed with your own little superhero. It is okay to cry, even those big, heaving cries.
To the baby in the nursery – keep on fighting, you are loved more than you’ll ever know.
Over the course of your pregnancy and well after your little human is born, people will tell you what you will need to buy, what you will need to have on hand and what you SIMPLY CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT. I did a couple of google searches throughout the pregnancy: “baby shower gift registry ideas,” “things you need for baby,” “what should I buy before my baby arrives?”, “what to pack in hospital bag.”
I was a bit of a google slut.
But to tell you the truth, there were a lot of things that everyone says you should have, and even more things that no one tells you will most definitely need. Like gripe water. “What the fuck is gripe water?” I hear you all asking. Well, I still have no idea what it is, but what I do know is that every single mama should purchase a bottle of gripe water before bubba is born.
So yes, gripe water is definitely something that you should buy. You can get it from any pharmacy and it helps your little one with wind – and trust me, your baby will need all the help they can get when it comes to wind. Hunter absolutely hates the taste of it, even though we only give him a couple of drops with a syringe at a time (it’s kind of cute though because he squishes up his face and shakes his head). Hunter gets almost instant relief from it, so I would definitely recommend every mum and dad have a bottle of it in their arsenal because seeing your child with wind knowing that there is nothing you can really do to help is heartbreaking.
Children’s panadol might seem like an obvious one, but not only did I not even think to buy some, no one else suggested it either. Hunter had his six-week-old immunisations a week and a half ago and it was possibly one of the most awful, traumatic and horrible moments of my life. Your little one will get two needles, one in each leg administered simultaneously, as well a an oral medication that they drink. Hunter wasn’t too bad once I calmed him down after the initial pain of the needles, but what I wasn’t expecting was how uncomfortable, in pain and sick it was going to make him that night.
Pete and I tried everything to settle and calm him for about four hours that night and even still, Hunter screamed like neither of us had ever experienced before. Just after 8pm, Pete made an emergency run to a 24-hour pharmacy to get some children’s panadol. About twenty minutes after we gave Hunter the dose, he passed out and almost slept through the night.
Hunter also loves a dummy spit – not a tantrum, an actual dummy spit. From a bout two weeks onwards, Hunter figured out that he could launch his dummy out of his mouth with his hands. Pete and I have both been hit in the face with his dummy, and let me tell you, there is a bit of force behind it! More often than not, Hunter will only suck his dummy for a minute or two before he doesn’t want it and that meant that we kept losing his dummy, or having to pick it up off the floor and wash it before he would immediately do it again. Pete jumped onto ebay and discovered a really sweet brand of dummy chain. We ordered two dummy chains from The Dreamy Fox – one of them is a camo-print fabric chain (because Pete wants Hunter to dress exclusively in camo) and the other is a soft beaded chain with Hunter’s name on it. Once again, a dummy chain is something that no one mentioned to us, but ever since we bought them it has made life so much easier. I realise that that sounds dramatic, like how could a dummy chain possibly improve quality of life, but trust me, it does.
There is a post coming soon dedicated to breastfeeding (because trust me, it deserves its own post), but I will say here and now that every mum could benefit from having a hand or electric breast pump. Again, I will go into more detail in my breastfeeding post, but having the option of expressing and having a bottle on hand for emergencies will put your mind so at ease. I have a friend who is pretty much only breastfeeding her daughter, however she uses a breast pump express and freeze it. I haven’t frozen any yet because Hunter just drinks and drinks and drinks and drinks; my friend said that she expresses mainly to ensure her daughter has milk in case anything happens to her, or she gets sick. That kind of foresight is not something that I had encountered yet, but it is so true.
Socks are another thing that I didn’t buy, but definitely needed. Luckily, we were gifted some at our baby shower but I still needed to buy him more. There are some of you out there who will think that I am maybe a little bit stupid for not realising how many pairs of socks a baby needs, but I just assumed that the onesies would be enough. Nope, definitely invest in all of the socks. Bubbas can’t regulate their temperature and I have noticed that Hunter’s feet and hands are always cold. I try and dress him in tops and onesies that have hand covers stitched into them and always make sure that his feet are covered.
Cotton muslin wraps are a staple for any new mum, but something that Pete and I found was that most of the ones that we bought and that people bought us were too small. Sure, they fit around Hunter’s little body, but they aren’t big enough to stop him from kicking and stretching out of them. The ones that you buy from K-mart and Big W are the cheap, small variety and though we have about ten of those ones, I mainly use them to wipe breastmilk off my stomach (because I have learned that breastmilk just goes fucking everywhere). Where possible, I strongly suggest that you buy larger muslin wraps, about 1m x 1m, because you can wrap your little one up super tight and they won’t kick out of it!
A carrier is another thing that I couldn’t live without. I was lucky enough to be gifted an amazing carrier from Baby Bjorn and I use it at least once every day. I use it when I do the grocery shopping because how am I meant to push a pram and a trolley at the same time? The carrier is insanely comfortable and holds Hunter really close to my chest which means that 90% of the time, he sleeps through the entire grocery shop. Not only that, when Hunter won’t settle and I can’t get him to sleep, or if he simply isn’t tired and I have things to do around the house, I put the carrier on and am able to do whatever it is that needs doing. Most of the time, even if he isn’t due for a sleep, my movements will rock him into a deep sleep.
Other than that, I would strongly advise new mothers to purchase the following: instant coffee, a Netflix or Stan subscription, books, extra laundry detergent (because all I ever do is the washing), candles and whatever the hell else you want or nee to buy to get you through.
You got this, mama.
There is so much about motherhood that I have learned and discovered over these last (almost) eight weeks. Things I have learned about parenthood, about my son, my partner, our families and myself. I have also mastered doing absolutely everything with one hand, holding Hunter […]
Thirty-eight weeks today. It doesn’t seem real, while at the same time it definitely feels like the pregnancy should be over and done with. This last month has been the most challenging and the most incredible period of time for so many different (and completely […]
It is almost unbelievable to me that we are all now in the year that my son is to be born. I know that that is making the new year all about me, but for the moment, the imminent arrival of our little man is my world, my everything, my every waking moment.
On the nights of both the 29th and the 30th of December, out of nowhere and at the same time each of the nights, I was experiencing insanely powerful and almost unbearable stabs of pain in my left ovary. The pain shot down into my pelvis and all the way down my left leg until it reached my toes. The pain was akin to what I felt last year when I had a cyst on my right ovary that then haemorrhaged (when I went to emergency when that happened, the nurse said that the pain I was experiencing was the closest comparison to childbirth that they have been able to make). The first night it happened, I didn’t think too much of it – I knew that it meant that I had reached some new phase in the pregnancy (even though I had no idea what was causing the pain), and with the pain so similar to what I had felt the year before I found myself wondering, “Am I in labour?”
I breathed through the pain and about four hours of Bub moving really intensely, everything started to calm down. The following night at around the same time, the very same pains and rapid movements came flooding back – but this time, it was even more full on. My pain threshold has always been good, really good actually, but the pain was so severe that I yelled out in pain with each wave of it and then burst into tears. I managed to remain calm and breathe, but it was absolutely excruciating. I called mum and described the pain to her and she said that it wasn’t anything that she had ever experienced which, you know, made me feel just SO confident and fine and not at all concerned..
Once again, after about four hours and fifty-six different positions, Bub finally settled down and I was able to get to sleep. The next morning was New Years Eve and as soon as I woke up, the discomfort woke with me. Before Pete and I made the trek down to Clarke’s Point to settle in for the long wait for the fireworks, I called the birth unit at RNSH and told them about the pain I had been experiencing and described Bub’s change of movements. We got called into hospital.
Long story short, everything is fine – actually, better than fine. His movements were measured against his heart rate for about an hour and then the doctor came to give me an all-over check. The pain that I had experienced and the two nights of extreme movement was Bub getting into position to be born. His head is now fully engaged in my cervix, he is ready to be born. The movements are feeling more powerful and painful simply because of how strong he is and because of the different position he is in now they felt extremely foreign. The pain that I was feeling my ovary were his little fists and elbows ferociously punching my ligaments, muscles and nerves which is why I felt it all the way down my leg and in my groin. All very normal we were told. On top of that, to help him get into position I was experiencing waves of Braxton Hicks contractions and breathing into the pain actually allowed him to move. It was my first foray into what labour is going to be like and I tell you what – I am so fucking excited for it.
The new kinds of movements have been so exciting, the pain has been exhilarating in its own way and this whole new stage, the final stage, is the most fun, educational and magical time of my life so far. I also need to mention how amazing Pete has been throughout all of this. I may be the oblivious new mama, but he is just as oblivious. He is the oblivious new papa. Considering that he has never been through this before, absolutely everything that he has done over the past week has been absolutely perfect. He has allowed me to deal with my pain however I need to, helping me when I require it. He has reassured me that he is right there with me. When the discomfort has become too much he has lay next to me and rubbed my belly lightly, whispering to our son (more like pleading with him to let me relax). He sat with me patiently at hospital and always has the aircon on at home. Pete has been the most supportive, loving and understanding partner throughout this whole process and I could not be more grateful, nor more excited to see him as the beautiful father he was always going to be.
I feel that I have spoken about 2018 enough. Most of you can gather that it was a tough one – and it was so for a lot of people. It was a big year that was full of unexpected happenings and transformation. For me, this year has taught me more than I ever envisioned. I have been taught patience and trust, surrender and understanding. Last year I grieved the loss of a child and the loss of my sister-in-law. Last year I met my soul sister and watched her walk down the aisle. Last year I made two of the best friends I have ever made after landing the job I have been working towards my entire life. Last year I met my soul mate and he gave me the greatest gifts of all – love, understanding, laughter, some amazing bottles of whiskey and the gift of our beautiful, healthy, charismatic, adorable son.
Although we are only three days into this new year, for Pete and I they have already been three of the most wonderful days. Each and every day is different in our home and I have come to love that about our little family – him, me, our one-eyed cat, our goof of a dog and our over-active child who it seems cannot wait to escape my womb. This year has already brought its challenges too. Today is the first official day of my maternity leave and I feel way out of my depth and lost. I have had no motivation to write and what has taken its place is the pressure to write. When I was still working full-time, creating this website and filling it with content was such a pleasure, it was and remains my absolute world.. but now that I am without an income, it is so much more than that. I so desperately want The (Oblivious) New Mama to be everything that I have been envisioning over the past few months, and that in itself has been dangerous thinking because all of a sudden I’m not writing for pleasure or for my love of it, I am writing it with expectation. No, no, no. I have been working all day to come to terms with the fact that it is okay that I feel this pressure – I have never done the whole maternity leave thing before so it isn’t that surprising that it feels weird, right? Also the holiday period threw me, as it does everyone, and I have been rather preoccupied with the whole about to give birth thing. I know that I need to take the pressure off and write for the absolute love and joy that it brings me. I have loved writing to you, my audience, and I don’t plan on ever stopping.
I promise you that there are things in the works, there are draft posts sitting in the backend of my website and ideas scrawled all throughout my notebook. This year is going to be a big one, and though I cannot expect anything from my writing (it doesn’t deserve that kind of pressure), I am expecting big, great, wondrous, inconceivable things to happen this year.
So, from my lounge where I sit right now with both a fan and a portable air conditioner pointed at me while I continue to exist about seven degrees hotter than anyone else I want to thank you all for making my 2018 so healing and humbling and I look forward to connecting with each and every one of you in 2019. And even more so, I cannot wait to introduce you to our beautiful baby boy.