Monday, January 28, 2013

Baby number two

Bringing Molly into this world and through her first ten days has mainly taught me three things.

1. I specialise in making babies who don't know how to be born.
2. Once born, despite the best of intentions, they're not very competent at figuring out how to keep themselves alive.
3. If I were in another time and/or place I'd be screwed.

Labour started naturally this time, and progressed steadily, helped along admittedly by a drip and waters being broken for me to spare the caesarian scar a lengthy period of contractions. It was only when fully dilated and the urge to push became overwhelming that the midwives brought in the doctor and with worried frowns explained the problem. Again, those words, 'back to back', 'not engaged', 'stuck' were uttered and again, that sinking realisation that my body would need to be cut open to let the baby out.

Once safely extracted, I was whisked off to recovery again while Marek was left holding the baby. Again we were separated for those first couple of precious hours, and the absence of skin to skin contact, the all-important early bonding that they bang on about being so fundamental to breastfeeding hung over us. I was reminded of Elsie's difficult first month. The repeating cycle of try to feed-fail to feed-bottle feed expressed milk-express milk for next time was the hardest test I've ever faced, but one we ultimately passed.

To my surprise though, for those first days Molly was a great feeder. She latched on and despite obvious problems in positioning, which left me with bleeding sore nipples, managed to feed for six days, and grow. Pleased with our progress, a midwife suggested I ask to leave a day early so I could get back to my little family. Having done this, the feeding suddenly stopped. Molly stopped latching on. She sucked but failed to extricate any milk. Frantic calls followed to the midwife, the leche league, friends and family. After a frustrating afternoon trying to get her latched on again came the sad acceptance that we were going to have to get back into the training cycle we perfected for Elsie.

When the midwife visit confirmed weight loss, there was no alternative. We committed to the programme. We try and feed. Molly sometimes latches on but mostly does not. After a session of encouraging, cajoling, re-positioning and ultimately frustration, we give her a bottle of expressed milk which she gulps down with relief. Then I stick myself on the machine and try not to think of cows.

Molly has a head start over her older sister. She has at least known how to feed, which Elsie never did. Whatever happened to disrupt our little munchkin, I'm full of hope that a few days will sort her out and she will uncover the missing piece of this puzzle. Until then, after saying I would never express another ml, I'm resigned to the fact that we do ridiculous things for our children when we think it's important. After a month of hassle, I breastfed Elsie for a year and got a lot out of it. What's a couple of weeks from my life in the grand scheme of things? I couldn't do less for this baby than I did for the first. On we go.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

40 weeks tomorrow

Christmas was wonderful, despite Marek succumbing to a 40 degree fever and spending the festive season in bed. It was a long-held family tradition of mine to watch Christmas unfold from the sofa, lying in my pyjamas, so it's sweet really that he took on this role from me, and allowed me to watch Christmas unfold from the sofa, dressed, but belly heavy and unmoving for much of the time the visitors rushed about preparing, entertaining, enjoying...

New Year was quiet, apart from the neighbours epic firework hour, which Elsie slept right through. We did stay up but apart from a quick new year peck and a glass of alcohol-free fizz for me, didn't celebrate like in days gone by.

Now we've managed to keep the baby in place past these markers though, we're keen to get her out. There is something in people's eyes as they walk past me in the street - partly impressed by the very size of the bump, partly terrified that they might be witness to the experience of bump becoming baby. The check-out girl who said 'courage, Madame,' with a mix of real pity and understanding in her eyes; the lady who took a seat next to me in a cafe and raved about 'the joy ahead'; the constant enquiries from friends and relatives - they are all well-meaning and make me feel we should enjoy this anticipation, but I have had enough of this stage. I want to meet her.

Past days have had their fair share of aches and stretchings, contractions start and stop, and I wake in the night, my hopes raised, only to fall asleep again and wake up as normal with Elsie's 'Mummy?' at 7 on the dot.

Marek has got himself a promotion at work. Elsie has moved to her big girl's bed without a murmur of dissent. Everyone's moving onwards and upwards apart from me and my bump. Out you come girl, time to face the world.