One Year On – A Family Portrait

This time last year, I was midway through the IVF process. My life revolved around Dr’s appointments, ultrasounds and injections. Oh, the injections – there were so many! In total I injected myself for 14 weeks every single day – sometimes even twice a day. That’s around 126 injections I administered into my own skin. I remember wincing at the first ever one, pointing the needle towards my tummy and looking away as I did it. It got easier over time. All I can say if that our baby was so very wanted, I longed for her and I knew she would be so loved. Every needle, every headache, every moment of anxiety, apprehension and fear was worth it a hundred times over.

So, that brings us to now –  a year later we are officially a family of four – the wonders of science!! So to celebrate how far we’ve come and our gorgeous supergirl Ultra Violet, we marked the occasion by having our very first family photoshoot.

The photos were taken by the very talented Brighton based photographer Kitty Wheeler Shaw. I’d seen her work on Aine’s blog and thought her style would suit us all perfectly. I know I’m a blogger, but I’m actually pretty shy in front of the camera and V is even more so. Anything that included awkward posing would just bit a disaster. Instead, Kitty just hung out with us and we played with Violet in the nursery, then down on the beach and you’d almost forget she was there, we were so comfortable. I’m so pleased we did it and were able to capture photos with Violet while she was so small, even in the few weeks since the shoot she looks different already!

Anyway, enough of me – I’ll let the photos speak for themselves!

Big thanks to Kitty for taking such beautiful photos of us. If you like her work, you can see lots more and get in touch with her via her website or Instagram.

Violet’s Birth Story

Right, here we go – it’s time to share the story of how my beautiful Ultra Violet came into the world. Before I gave birth, I loved reading other peoples birth stories, so I hope you find mine interesting too. I didn’t end up having the birth I planned for, but people always told me to be flexible on my birth plan (not that I listened! So if you fancy a good laugh, read my birth plan after this). I have mixed feelings about how Violet entered the world, birth is a really emotional process with so much to think about, but ultimately, she’s here, she’s happy and healthy and in my arms, so whichever way it happened – we did it! So, grab yourself a cuppa – this is going to be a lengthy one, so get yourself comfy and have a read!

A BLUSTERY WALK ON THE BEACH….

On the morning of Thursday 23rd February, I had a midwife appointment in the morning to have what’s called a stretch and Sweep.  It’s not the most pleasant of procedures but it’s supposed to kick start labour so as I was now overdue at 40+4, I was happy to go ahead with it and see what would happen. I went to my appointment and the midwife told me as a first time Mum it’s unlikely it would do anything, however as she examined me she was surprised to see that I was already 2cm dilated and apparently favourable (whatever that means!). She said she was surprised I wasn’t in labour already and if I wanted to trigger it I should head home and hand express (this gets the oxytocin flowing) and also to go for a walk on a pebbly beach as apparently this ‘jiggles’ the babies head downwards and into the right position.

So I did just that – it was the day of Storm Doris, with gale force winds and the rain pouring, I was determined to follow the midwives advice, so I dragged Robbie out of his bed and we went for what I can only describe as the most blustery walk we’ve ever been on along the beach – although it soon turned into a disaster! Robbie (who is not usually allowed on the beach) was over excited by his sudden freedom to roam and pulled me in every direction, the biting wind cut into my face making my eyes and nose water, I was also very off-balance being so heavily pregnant, so decided after 10 minutes this was a bad idea and turned around to walk home when I suddenly grabbed my tummy as the first pain of a contraction jolted through my lower back and hips. I thought to myself, ‘this can’t be happening now’ and just thought it was a one off – I stumbled onwards, trying to climb a steep slope of pebbles which tumbled under my feet, putting me back to square one. Feeling in a panic I shouted at Robbie to pull me up the bank and he yanked his lead and got us onto the flat, phew! Within a couple of minutes I found myself hunched over a wall, breathing through another pain and shortly after came another – I was definitely in labour.

I got home and got everything ready – putting my hospital bag by the door I laid across my birthing ball on the living room floor to manage the contractions –  counting each one using an app and practicing my hypnobirthing techniques to get by. I thought this part would be a long stretch, so I was surprised to see on my app that contractions were coming about 3 minutes apart at this point! Things were happening much quicker than I expected. I called Vee who came home immediately and called the hospital for advice, fully expecting them to tell me to stay at home, but they told me I needed to come in! I was shocked, I’d only been in labour for around an hour and a half at this point!

OFF TO THE HOSPITAL…

We drove to the hospital, which was only 15 minutes away but the drive was horrific as I couldn’t sit in the seat, every contraction I’d pull my bum off the seat holding the handles on the roof, things were going so quickly! Upon arriving at the hospital I had to wait in the maternity triage waiting room for around 20-30 minutes whilst I waited to be seen. In this time things were ramping up all the time, I arrived managing to cope with contractions but within 5 minutes I was laying on a mat on the floor, rolling on a birthing ball and starting to struggle with the pain. There were other pregnant women in the waiting room (who weren’t in labour)  so in the end a midwife came and put a screen around me, probably so I could stop scaring all the other patients – OOPS!

I was FINALLY taken to a room on the labour ward and examined – the midwife looked confused and said she was surprised to find I was still only 2cm dilated. It was a kick in the teeth, I was in so much pain, how could this be? She then felt my tummy and said Violet was in the back-to-back positioning, which was why contractions were so sore. She apologised but said I couldn’t stay on the labour ward and I was bumped back downstairs onto the antenatal ward to wait it out. I asked if I could have pain relief and the only thing they would give me was pethidine – despite me writing ‘DO NOT OFFER PETHIDINE’ on my birth plan, I would have taken anything at this point so accepted it, mainly as the midwife said I could have a 3 hour sleep to prepare for ‘proper labour later’ so I agreed if it was going to be that good and completely knock me out!!

Well, it was totally pointless as it did NOTHING. I went onto the antenatal ward and with every contraction I writhed around, trying my best to remember hypnobirthing and breathing techniques but really I was uncomfortable. I felt so on edge about being on a ward (with others in the beds next to me) and had a midwife that was totally unsympathetic and unfriendly towards me. I feel like this is the real turning point in my whole experience. Before I was placed on the ward, I was in my zone, riding out the contractions, they were painful but I had coping techniques, but being on the ward with everyone looking at me and a really unhelpful, unreassuring midwife, things just went out of control and I lost grip and the fear set in.

Within an hour or so, I found myself absolutely howling the ward down during each contraction. I didn’t think I’d be a loud kind of person and I felt so embarrassed but with every contraction the only way I could cope would be to shout and scream with the pain. I begged the midwife to examine me at this point, but she stated for a new mum there would be no chance I would have dilated at all and I needed to just carry on. This was just the worst feeling in the world, I couldn’t believe the pain and I would only be at 2cm. At this point, I’m so grateful as another midwife came onto the ward and noticed me howling in pain, I asked again if she would examine me and I can remember her words ‘Oh Lyndsay, you are a superwoman, you are 7cm! You need to be on the labour ward!‘. Suddenly everything changed, they wheeled the gas and air over and suddenly my bed was flying through the corridors with Vee running alongside me, I couldn’t lay on my back so I was on all fours screaming as another contraction came and we burst through the doors of the labour ward. It was like something from a movie, I felt really surreal but I was so pleased that midwife recognised my screaming and helped me, if she hadn’t I think I’d have been pushing on the antenatal ward before the other midwife had paid me any attention!

ESTABLISHED LABOUR…. BABIES COMING!!

Arriving into my room on the labour ward, I had around 5/6 midwives trying to calm me down. The experience of being left on the ward with no pain relief and the midwife that wouldn’t believe me (I just KNEW I was more than 2cm!) had really upset my balance and I struggled to calm myself, screaming through contractions at the top of my voice, even though they kept trying to calm me, it was just involuntary – like a primal animal in pain, the noises just came out my mouth. As I had on my birth plan that I wanted a water birth the midwives offered to go and start running the water, but I kept screaming that I wanted an epidural. They did their best to talk me into a water birth but I was just past the point of any help and screamed, I couldn’t see how the water would help me at this point. I think I even said to a midwife ‘I just want to be put down in the vets!!‘ which after it was all over we had a giggle about!

Finally, the anaesthetist came to give me my epidural and I couldn’t have been happier to see her. She went through a list of risks including being totally paralysed and I remember saying ‘don’t care, don’t care, don’t care‘ to each point – haha I am clearly very polite when in labour! ;). The procedure itself was absolutely fine, I didn’t feel a thing. I can only remember having to sit really still during a contraction being the hard bit, I remember in my mind fighting the urge to move and thinking ‘move and you get paralysed’ – that definitely kept me on the spot. Once it was in, they set me up on the bed and within around 10-20 minutes I felt it take hold and suddenly every last bit of the pain had gone – I could literally feel NOTHING. It was amazing and the best thing I could have done at that moment in time. My heart rate slowed from the panic I’d been in and I sat for the first time and had a chat with the midwife, explained I am not usually crazy screaming lady and kept apologising for the random things I was coming out with, I think I also told the anaesthetist I wanted to hug her.

 I then realised I was really hungry so they brought me some sandwiches and a little cheesecake. It was honestly the best cheesecake I’ve ever eaten!

Eating a cheesecake at 10cm – who’d have thought it! 

 They examined me again and I was coming up to 10cm, but I needed to wait a couple of hours until it was time to push as this is the procedure after an epidural. At this point they broke my waters and noticed meconium in the waters, so with a very worried face, the midwife disappeared and a Dr was called in and I was told there would be extra monitoring needed and also a machine was wheeled in, which they called a ‘spaceship’ but I later found out this was a resuscitator for after she was born – glad they didn’t tell me this at the time!

IT’S TIME TO PUSH!

I can remember they told me I’d start pushing around 1am, as the time ticked by I couldn’t wait for this moment, I was about to meet my baby! After a couple of hours it was finally time – the midwife explained where and how to push and with my next contraction I gave it a good go. With the epidural I found it pretty tricky as I couldn’t feel exactly where to push, but after a few goes and some guidance I was told I was doing it right. I thought at this point I would push a few times and the baby would be here, but this bit went on for a LONG time.

Two hours went by, pushing with every contraction and there was still no sign of baby. At this point the midwife started to look quite stressed, after looking at the monitor she left the room to get a Dr as she noticed babies heart rate was starting to drop. At this point everyone started to get quite serious and worried, although they kept telling us everything was ok. They were already on edge about the meconium, so now with a low heart rate they were starting to panic.

Suddenly there were about 10 people in the room and I was being instructed to push by the Dr, saying ‘Your baby is in distress, push like I’ve never pushed before!!’. Everyone was encouraging me, but with the worry of the baby in distress, my contractions completely slowed, almost to a total stop – so the midwives were instructed to set up the drip to give my contractions a boost. This bit all seems like a blur really, I can remember Vee shouting ‘just give her a C-section’ and her being told it was too late and they were going to try and assist her into the world by ventouse. The next thing I knew, a contraction came and I pushed as hard as I possibly could, I could also see the Dr pulling with all her might too.

I didn’t actually expect anything to happen but suddenly this tiny baby was coming towards me and was placed on my chest for all of 5 seconds, all I saw was the back of her head as I burst into tears and within seconds she was whisked into the machine they called the ‘spaceship’. I remember saying to Vee ‘I didn’t see her face, I didn’t see her face!’ so Vee went over to see her properly and check she was ok – whilst she was there she took a photo for me, so I saw her face on my camera first as the medical team did everything they needed to do. It wasn’t quite the magical birth moment I imagined, but the relief of knowing she was safe and hearing her cry was all that mattered at this point.

WELCOME TO THE WORLD, VIOLET

Finally, after the panic calmed and the finished their checks on Violet, she was placed on my chest for our first skin-to-skin contact and this has got to be the most surreal moment in my life. I don’t think anyone that has given birth can quite explain the feeling when you first hold your baby, but it was like I felt my whole life change forever in that very moment. The love, relief and happiness was just overwhelming, I think I just sat in awe of this tiny bundle and sobbed and sobbed, staring at her in total disbelief that I had created a tiny human that would now depend on me forever. Also, the relief that we had made it – the 18 months of trying to conceive, our IVF journey, 9 months of pregnancy and 15 hours of labour – she was finally here.

After what seemed like chaos, we were left in our room which was on the 13th floor with beautiful views over Brighton beach and the pier. Watching the sun rise over the city, I fed her for the first time and she latched perfectly – it was just meant to be and a beautiful moment I will never forget.

MY THOUGHTS, AFTER THE STORM…

I feel like Violet’s birth was a storm, it was the day of Storm Doris, so maybe a fast and furious birth was apt for that day. After the birth, I’m filled with mixed feelings about what happened. They say you need to be flexible with your birth plan and I really thought I was -but afterwards there have been a couple of things that have played on my mind.

Firstly, I was so disappointed in myself that after  I did the hypnobirthing course, I lost sight of my techniques and couldn’t regain control once I’d got to that point, at the beginning I was doing so well but I feel like my experience on the antenatal ward really let my fear kick in and once I lost control that was it, I just spiralled. I think if I could give anyone advice about giving birth it would be to try and keep as calm as possible, the fear and panic really changed things for me and I wish I’d have kept my head together.

I also wonder if I could have avoided so much medical intervention if I’d have just gone with the water birth and not had an epidural. I can’t help but feel guilty about that, especially as Violet ended up with jaundice (which was likely caused by the big bruise on her head from the suction cup). It’s hard not to feel guilty, that I’d caused a long labour that put her into distress, when my body was ready to do it quickly without causing her such harm.

I know I’m being hard on myself but seeing her in distress and then being treated for jaundice was so hard to see too. Plus I think it’s only natural to feel ‘Mummy guilt’ about things, all Mum’s do it. At the end of the day, our little girl, Violet, arrived safe and well in the end. Yes, we were slightly bruised and battered, but she will recover and before we know it, my labour will be a distant memory and only the memories of seeing her face for the same time and feeding her at sunrise will stick in my mind.

THE END

So, that’s our story. I couldn’t feel more blessed to have such a gorgeous baby girl, she was so loved and wanted, even before she was conceived, now she’s asleep in my arms as I type this. Vee was the best birth partner I could have asked for and supported me through every contraction and held my hand as I pushed our baby into the world. I also thought the team at the Royal Sussex County Hospital (minus one midwife, ha!) were fantastic. We were kept in 6 days and we had amazing support throughout the time with Violet’s jaundice, plus plenty of breastfeeding guidance and support (even at 3am) plus they were just generally lovely too.

I look forward to sharing our life together as a family on the blog and documenting Violet’s life as she grows! So, here she is….

Introducing Violet Sandra Britton – Born 24th February 2017 at 02:54am, weighing 6lbs 2oz.

Introducing Violet

You may have noticed things have been rather quiet around here…. That is because Violet Sandra arrived on 24th February 2017 and has turned our lives upside down! After a traumatic birth, she arrived into the world at 02:54am and life has not been the same since. I cannot imagine life without her now, our connection and bond was instant and I haven’t looked back since. Since her birth we were in hospital for quite a while, she needed some extra treatment for jaundice so it’s been a long and bumpy journey so far, but I’m pleased to say we are all well now and settling in at home, finally. I want to share our story but bear with me – we are quietly muddling through a sleep hazed adventure of learning to care for our new bundle. She worries us, surprises us and makes us laugh and smile in different ways every day. I don’t think I’ve felt love like this before, it’s something you cannot put into words. We are just taking each day as it comes and adjusting to our new pace of life. It really is a rollercoaster ride I couldn’t ever have predicted!

So, before she wakes for her next feed (which could be any second, she’s just started wiggling next to me!) I’ll leave you with the some gorgeous snaps of her first days. I’ve been sharing more daily over on Instagram too (@fizzypeaches). When she gives me a moment, I’m looking forward to sharing our birth story and her first update!

 

Violet Sandra – Born 24th February 2017 at 02:54am

Weighing 6lbs 2oz

Rachel’s Rainbow Baby Birth Story

 

Next up for my Mama Stories Blogger Takeover, I welcome Rachel! She writes at RachelBustin.com. I really wanted to feature her as a guest poster as I was touched by her difficult story of trying-to-conceive and then a tricky birth too. It’s all worth it though as her little girl is just gorgeous! Here is her story…… 

My husband and I had been trying for a baby for nearly 3 years before I found out it was a viable pregnancy. I use the word viable because that’s what I wanted to hear for all those years. Our journey to become parents has been hard. In 2013 we got married and I found out I was pregnant when we got back from our honeymoon. Unfortunately this pregnancy wasn’t meant to be and I miscarried 12 weeks later.

Our second and third pregnancies were not meant to be either. After the third miscarriage on 14th February 2015 we decided to have a break. If it wasn’t meant to be, it wasn’t meant to be for us.

In May 2015 I started being sick. Feeling generally unwell, tired, grouchy and snappy. I had a niggling feeling that I just may be pregnant. I didn’t want to believe it because of all the heartbreak we had been through. I couldn’t get my hopes up again……

I found an old pregnancy test tucked away in the bathroom. I had used so many over the past few years that I already had a plentiful stash hidden out of sight.

It was positive. It was one of those ones that told me I was 4 weeks+ pregnant. I screamed for my husband downstairs and he came running up. We both sat there for ages letting it sink in.

This time we were going to be alright. I just knew it. I had an early scan straight away due to my previous history and when I saw the heartbeat I cried with happiness.

My pregnancy was just perfect. I have always had slightly low blood pressure so that was the only thing they kept an eye on and I had to take a low dose aspirin throughout as my BMI was over the threshold. But apart from that I sailed through it all. Feeling contented. Happy. Looking forward to meeting my baby girl.

Before I knew it I was going on maternity leave. I left work at 32 weeks as I had 5 weeks holiday to take before my maternity leave began. Those weeks I was busy cleaning, preparing and waiting. My due date came and went. Baby girl was obviously happy and contented in my belly and didn’t want to come out. We had waited so long for her, but I knew she was worth the wait.

12 days after my due date I went in to be induced. It was 8am Saturday morning nearly exactly a year ago today. Storm Imogen was raging. I felt like an elephant but nearly got blown off my feet walking to the maternity unit from the carpark. My husband was loaded like a pack horse with all our things and we were both drenched by the time we got there.

They started me on the pessary to get my cervix relaxed and going. This did not work. We were wondering around the hospital all weekend trying to get things going. At tea time Sunday they decided to take me up to delivery to start the drip. At least in the delivery room we had a TV. The hours went by and still nothing. I was only dilated 4cm so they decided to break my waters to see if this would help me progress. My husband all the while was enjoying watching the Superbowl eating a McDonalds. I was starving but not allowed to eat anything.

By Monday morning I was still only dilated 4cm and I had the maximum from the drip so they made the decision that I had to have a c-section. I ended up having the two things I didn’t want. A c-section and an epidural. I was so tired and hadn’t slept since Saturday night and was accommodating to anything at this point.

I was taken down to theatre and baby girl was born at 14:29 on the Monday. I didn’t get to hold her for a while as they ushered my husband and baby to the room next door while they tried to stop me bleeding. I had lost well over 4 pints of blood by the time they finished. Due to my rare blood group they managed to recyle my lost blood and clean it before I had it put back in. I can tell you it made me feel so much better after. I’m positive they would not have let me go home the next day if they hadn’t done that!

Now here we are a year later with a happy, contented, walking toddler who means the world to us.

Thanks to Lyndsay at Fizzy Peaches for allowing me to share my story with your readers! 

 

3 Important Post-Baby Self Care Tips

It’s time for another post for my Mama Stories Blogger Takeover series! Today I’m excited to welcome Chelle, a friend and a fellow Brighton Blogger. I have known for a few years now both on the blog and in person through blog events and suchlike! She is an absolute inspiration and superwoman – juggling life with 3 kids, a blog and her own business, I don’t know where she finds the time in the day, but she does! She wanted to discuss all things ‘self-care’ today – a really important topic for new Mum’s…. so, over to Chelle! 

You’ve had the baby and now what? Well mostly you are in this newborn haze and it’s gone from being all about you looking after the bump to a newborn baby with irregular sleep patterns.

It can be easy to neglect yourself and just throw yourself into parenthood, after all it is a really exciting and new adventure that you are all embarking on and it takes a lot of training! But you are just as important Mama and there are simple things you can do to make you feel a bit more refreshed, especially if you have a raver baby like I have.

GET READY FOR THE DAY

Always make time to get washed and dressed. Of course the odd lazy PJ day wont go amiss but I always feel more on the ball when I have made that effort. Pop the baby in your partners arms, a bouncer and then just go to spend 10 minutes having a wash and choosing an outfit for the day. I always pop on a bit of mascara and lip balm as it make my face look a little more alive. You may need a little concealor but it’s not necessary to hide that sleep deprivation.

PREPARE FOOD IN ADVANCE

If your partner is making a lunch for work get them to do you one too. I always found that having something there that was easy to grab meant that I ate. Left to my own devices there is always a distraction whether it be trapped under a sleeping baby or thinking I needed to get on top of housework. You need to nourish your body to make sure it can survive the newborn haze.

GET SOME FRESH AIR

Get out of the house and get some fresh air. It’s not just good for you but good for baby too. As soon as you feel able may plans for lunch dates or simple strolls around you home town. Create a little home bucket list of places you have ventured to nearby and start simple memories of maternity leave. The baby will sleep, wake, pop whereever you are and won’t really know much of their surroundings other than you so take this time for you. I have ventured and tried most breakfasts in Brighton during my 3 maternity leaves!

These are really simple tips but they are the start of you remembering that it is OK to make time for yourself. Yes your world should revolve around baby but a good mantra to keep is You cant look after baby if you aren’t looking after you. It’s ok to have some you time Mama!

Chelle writes over at ChelleMcCann.com about self care and lifestyle. After having her 3rd child she was diagnosed as having PND and is using self care and journalling to make sense of the motherhood haze.