My Postpartum Reality: Baby #2

This is my postpartum reality. 6am. After a night of tossing and turning while my babies slept. Up several times through the night, once even to find that I’ve wet myself. Yep 21, and I’ve wet myself. So 6am, I’m in a bath of Epsom salt with my 2 year old.

Recurring bouts of vaginal thrush has my head in a mess. A constant burn. A constant itch. I say vaginal because nipple thrush can also be really common postpartum, though I don’t have that type. I can fix it for a day or so with creams and tablets only it comes right back again. I’ve had ten weeks with only the occasional day of relief. And a fantastic doctor truly searching for solutions.

I haven’t brought myself to write about this yet because it’s “taboo” and talking about my nether regions apparently makes people uncomfortable, but I’m a sharer. And I suppose if this kind of discussion makes you uncomfortable then you can always leave the page.

It’s a silent struggle. Because physically I look very well for someone who had a baby 10 weeks ago. But this is the reality of postpartum for a lot of mums, you might not see the change or the the pain they’re in. Yet, they persevere.

This is in no way a comparison, or to say I have it worse. Some women definitely have it worse, and I am so incredibly thankful to have had largely beautiful experiences birthing my children. Though that doesn’t change the fact that I find intimacy incredibly difficult now, and that my patience is almost constantly thin because of the burning feeling I’m dealing with in the background. At the moment, my life is different because of childbirth although it may not look it, and I’m still learning ways to manage these new challenges my body presents. I can’t even begin to imagine how much more difficult this journey is for women who didn’t get the birth they wanted, or the body they anticipated to have afterward.

So please remember be patient and to be understanding. Not all battles are visible, especially on this postpartum road. We’re all walking our own lanes but to have one another to fall back on, even if it’s just to cry to, makes an incredible difference, no matter how we brought our babies into the world, or how we feel about our bodies afterward.

Physically, otherwise, I feel stronger. Stronger than I did 10 weeks ago, though still lacking the strength I once had to enjoy sport and exercise the way I used to, but I’ll get there.

I can’t help but think about the women who have longer harder journeys of recovery, and send them all the love I can muster. I see you, I get it, I know you’ll make it to the other side of this. Pregnancy, labour, birth and motherhood, it’s hard. But you’re stronger than you realise and that little baby you have in your arms… YOU are what love is to them. You are all they know and they love you like nothing else in this entire world exists (because they don’t know that anything else exists haha) but still, it is a deep, gravity defying love all the same. You’ll make it through this

And if you ever need someone to talk to, my inbox will always be open.

Xo Emily @ Loving Little One

Matilda Joan: My Second Natural Childbirth Story

I struggle to find the words to justify just how incredibly lucky I feel to be sitting down to write something so positive in regards to childbirth again. I really truly thought you couldn’t possibly be so lucky twice. Perhaps it’s the stigma around childbirth, and the “scary” that is portrayed as the norm. Or maybe I was just doubly nervous because it was no longer just me and the baby to stress over but also our Violet as well.

But here I am, having made it to the other side of the waiting, sitting in awe of the human body and all of its capabilities. As well as in awe of the tiny little human we’ve created that somehow has filled our hearts with twice the amount of love we thought possible.

The real story of my labours always seem to begin in the lead up. Just like with Violet I spent a large chunk of the weeks prior very uncomfortable; experiencing early labour. Constant tightenings that I was unsure of being Braxton-Hicks Contractions or real ones, for days on end. Nausea hit me like a ton of bricks once or twice as well, which caught me by surprise as it had never happened with Violet. I could just SENSE things were moving along, but the frustration lay within the not knowing. Was I close? Would my waters break first again? If they don’t how will I know I’m in labour?

I had had a couple of really, really tough nights in the week before. Going to bed with pains thinking for certain I would wake up in labour, and then being slightly disappointed when I didn’t. At the time it felt like I was experiencing all of this pain and discomfort for nothing as nothing had progressed.

Despite it all, I really tried to focus on this pregnancy being completely seperate and different to my pregnancy with Violet. Having already been through it once does give you a certain feeling of expectation, one I very much tried to avoid. Because Violet had made her entrance by 37 and a half weeks, a small part of me expected this pregnancy to be the same, and a large part of me was tired and over it by the time 37 and a half weeks came and went. We knew she would come when she was ready though, so I spent a lot of my time distracting myself and trying to be at peace with the fact that I couldn’t control when she would be born. And pretty much as soon as I relaxed and accepted this I felt much better, at least mentally.

It wasn’t long after the acceptance (sounds dramatic right?) when things really started to heat up. It was like my body had finally had a chance to relax and so she knew it was time.

Pains through the night was nothing unusual for me at this point, but on Tuesday night (13/11/18) I found myself up at a really odd hour on the toilet. Toilet trips of course were also nothing new, but things felt different. And about 30 minutes later I lost my mucus plug. I didn’t think too much of it, as I’d already lost pieces of it the week prior, so I chucked a liner on and went back to bed. Funnily enough, Vi had also woken (which is unusual for her) so she was lying in bed with Dan, as I hopped back into bed with them I’d told him I lost my plug.

When we woke up on Wednesday morning Dan mentioned how he’d had a weird dream that I’d said I’d lost my plug, and we had a laugh over the fact that it wasn’t a dream. That’s when I noticed more pressure down below than I’d noticed before.

I tried to go about the day as normally as possible, I didn’t want to get my hopes up as I’d done the week prior, so we went into town to take Vi to the Drs and then went for a browse around the shops. While we were there I noticed the pressure worsening, and whilst Dan was in a store I took Vi to the parents room so I could change her and go to the toilet myself. (This might be tmi so skip over if you don’t like talk of bodily fluids) I realised that I had been having slightly brown discharge throughout the day, but noticed it more so this time as there was more and more of it.

At this point, it was the first time I’d thought to ring the maternity unit. My waters broke before anything had begun with Violet, so I really didn’t know what to expect of labour beginning any other way. They’d said it was normal, especially if I’d lost my plug and that things may progress but there was no reason to come to the ward.

Again, trying to continue the day as normal we headed to squash for the evening. I noticed how uncomfortable I was beginning to feel, not with tightenings or anything, but just feeling “off”. Mum and dad had offered to take Violet to their place in case things progressed during the night but I didn’t want to jinx it, so we brought her home with us.

I’d had regular pains start pretty much as soon as we’d eaten dinner. But they weren’t strong enough to feel confident that it was actual labour beginning. So we did the bedtime routine with Violet, and we watched some of “that 70s show” just in case things heated up, but they didn’t, so we took ourselves off to bed at about 9:30.

I woke up at midnight to slightly heavier contractions, to the point where I couldn’t sleep through them. So I got up and timed them for an hour or so to see if it was worth ringing the ward again, I cleaned the kitchen at the same time for something to do, mainly because I didn’t want to come back from having a baby to a messy house hahaha.

(About 1am on the 15th- in labour)

My contractions with Violet never really regulated properly, and they didn’t this time around either. But they did get more intense, so I phoned in to let them know things were progressing. And of course right after I did, they tapered off. As frustrating as it was, I was a little relieved. I was able to take some Panadol to take the edge off and sleep for another 4 hours until 5am.

This time when I woke up I knew things were moving, I had to stop to breathe through each contraction. I gave myself two hours, two hours of comfort at home. I went outside to breathe in the morning air, and then came back inside to make myself some breakfast: scrambled eggs. Half way through, Vi woke up. And I was kind of glad she did. We got a full 40 minutes together, eating eggs and talking about her little sister who was coming to see us soon. Each time a contraction would start I’d hug Vi and tell her how much I loved her, and continue to hold her until it was over. It sounds sappy and cliche but it really truly helped.

(5:45am, labouring with my little love)

After a short while I went to wake Dan up and let him know it was almost time. I rang mum and asked her to come around to watch Vi, and by 7:15 I was ready to make the 20 minute car trip to the hospital. I lapped the house 3 times, procrastinating getting in and making the drive. Mainly because I knew it would be the last time just us three would be in the house. As we drove away, Vi stood in the driveway with nanny waving us off. I was teary, teary because it was my last moments with Vi as an only child, teary because we were about to meet our second beautiful little girl, and teary because well… hormones.

The drive was surprisingly okay. I hated sitting through contractions with Vi, this time it was uncomfortable but not unbearable. Mainly because we didn’t labour at home as long as I did with Violet, just because we didn’t want to risk me giving birth on the side of the road.

We got to the hospital at about 7:45. The bigger rooms were taken and unfortunately the birth pool was too. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed, but I was also just so excited to meet our little girl that it didn’t bother me as much as I thought it would.

So, in our little room with the diffuser running and some calming music on an occasionally skippy CD player, Dan and I sat, paced, bounced and mostly, just chatted our way to meeting our daughter. I think that was my favourite part. It was just Dan and I and an empty room, something that we haven’t had really at all since Violet was born. It was almost like we were giddy teenagers again, he always takes every chance he can to make me laugh, and it was honestly exactly what I needed through those few hours. The contractions were strong and intense, but the pain was almost halved by the fact that I could just stand there in his arms and breathe through the process my body was going through. And even laugh at some points during contractions, which admittedly hurt more, but filled my heart to the brim.

We had an amazing midwife as well who was happy to let us do our own thing, but still checked in enough for us to feel comfortable about my care. At about 11am she came in to do some obs and monitor for a little, just as she finished and as I moved to hop off the bed my waters broke. From here the contractions intensified again. I opted to say put on the exercise ball for a few more contractions before moving to my safe space again- the shower!

She set up some oils and Dan turned on some calming music on his phone, we turned all the lights off and moved the exercise ball in. This was my zone, my place. The space I knew I’d welcome my daughter into the world.

It’s funny, because although this was the exact same position I brought Violet into the world in, it was so different. Instead of feeling out of body, I felt entirely present. Breathing through each contraction and coming up for air each time- with Violet I felt like I was sucked into one long wave of pain with no time to breathe, this was totally different.

I buzzed the midwife in when I felt the incredible pressure I remember feeling before Vi was born, and with 3 contractions and 3 pushes at 12:16pm on Wednesday the 15th of November, our little Matilda Joan was born swiftly into our arms. Into a room so full of love it was almost bursting at the seams.

Mum and dad brought Violet in as soon as Dan let them know Matilda was here. I was euphoric, I didn’t feel exhausted at all. And when Vi came into the room it was like everything I’d ever wished for was right in front of me.

(Completely in love)

I can’t thank Daniel enough for everything he has done and continues to do for us. His love and strength has always been my guiding light and this was even more evident during my labour with Matilda. My world is everything it is because of him. Our girls are the best thing that has ever happened to us, and I am so incredibly grateful to have him by my side through these momentous times, even if he does make me laugh in the middle of a contraction at 9cms dilated.

Xo Emily @ Loving Little One

Violet Rae Cook: A Natural Birth story by a young mum

“In the end, the only thing you truly feel is infinite, incredible love”

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I’ve debated with myself all week on whether or not I would write (and post) Violet’s birth story. But today, a week after her birth, it just feels right. If birth stories aren’t really your thing you can stop reading now, I promise I won’t be offended, and nor will Violet.

I guess with these things you should start with the beginning, but to be totally honest, if you’ve been keeping up with my Bump Updates, you’d know I really can’t pinpoint exactly when it began. Violet joined us at 37+5 weeks gestation, but I’d had ‘pre-labour’ symptoms from about 34-35 weeks, things like losing my mucus plug, lightning crotch, more intense Braxton Hicks contractions, you know… all the things I had been complaining about.

The whole week before labour I definitely felt like something was building up, I was sleeping ALL THE TIME, I was having nights of constant Braxton Hicks (confusing me as to whether it was real labour or not) and to be honest with you, I was losing my mind. I had no way of knowing if the things I had been experiencing were actually a sign labour was near, or if I’d be experiencing these things for the next 2-4 weeks.

I guess if I could choose myself a point to say “thats when I knew” I’d probably say about 8pm on Saturday the 4th of February. Cooking chicken Parmy (classic aussie) with Dan in the kitchen, I had the biggest contraction I’d ever felt, not just a slight pain, a breath taking, eye watering contraction. I had to grab Dan to stay upright. Afterward though I definitely played it down, both in my head and to Dan. As we were eating dinner I remember saying, “yeah it really hurt, but like, I still don’t really know… you know?”. We finished dinner and went to bed, only for me to wake up to awful back pain at around 2am. I rang my mum at around 3:30, crying. Crying because I was in pain, crying because I wasn’t sure if it was actually labour, and crying because if it wasn’t labour I couldn’t deal with it for the next few weeks. She calmed me, told me to take some panadol, try to sleep and to ring her when I woke up- from there we’d figure out if it was labour and whether or not she needed to fly down.

“And when I say my waters broke… I can tell you they really damn broke. Like a bloody waterfall”

Well I didn’t need to wait long to know if she really needed to come down and if it really was labour, because the next morning about half an hour after I had woken up my waters broke. And when I say my waters broke… I can tell you they really damn broke. Like a bloody waterfall, all over the brand new mattress (lucky we’d thought ahead and made sure to have a mattress protector on the bed). One second I was lying there laughing at a dumb video on Facebook with Dan and the next second I was a human fire hose. When I told him my waters broke he asked me if I was sure, and I laughed at him as I whipped the sheets down and showed him the pool of fluid I was practically swimming in. Right. Ring mum. She needs to get here. Ring the midwife. We’re having a damn baby.

The next couple of hours were super nerve wracking, contractions hadn’t really kicked in but I was having regular tightenings, and I was also pretty worried about whether my mum would make it in time. We went into hospital at around 9:30am for a quick foetal monitoring and to check if it was my waters that had gone. Laughs, especially considering I needed two towels to get to the damn hospital. It was my waters, and everything was completely normal with baby. Ring mum. She’s got a flight for 12noon. Go home. Rest. Come back when contractions are painful and less than 5 minutes apart.

“They were getting more intense for sure, the kind of intense that makes you contemplate strangling small animals”

The next 10 hours were pretty uneventful, tightenings were becoming more regular but they were still just that- tightenings, not real contractions. Mum arrived around 2, Relief. Only at around 6pm did we really start to measure things and much to our frustrations they were all over the place. 5 minutes apart, 4 minutes apart, 4 minutes apart, 7 minutes apart, 5 minutes apart, 15 minutes apart… They were getting more intense for sure, the kind of intense that makes you contemplate strangling small animals. But they weren’t close enough together. So we waited and waited and waited until I decided they were painful enough to warrant going into hospital at 11:30pm. Arrive at hospital. Foetal monitoring for half an hour. All normal. Zero centimetres Dilated. ZERO CENTIMETRES DILATED. Tears. Home. Sleep.

We got home at around 2am, said our goodnights and went to bed. The midwife had given me some sleeping pills to get some sleep, that lasted all of about an hour before I was woken up by definitely stronger, more painful contractions. I couldn’t stay lying down through them, for a few contractions I stayed in bed, sitting up for each contraction and then lying back down and trying to fall back to sleep. Impossible. By 3:30am I was up, I decided to use this time to labour on my own, I needed the time to focus on letting my body do what it needed to do. I hopped in the shower for about 10 minutes. the hot water helped, but then I felt like I needed to walk through the contractions, so I got out and paced the kitchen for what felt like hours, stopping to breathe through every contraction like I’d ran a marathon, this woke my mum up. By this time it was around 4:15am. Mum helped me through the contractions, encouraged me to sit when I could to save energy, but the problem was, when I sat and a contraction came on I felt pressure in my bottom (If you’ve had a baby you know pressure in your bottom gives you the urge to push, and being still at home I DID NOT WANT THIS). 4:45am Back in the shower. Breathe through contractions. Getting stronger. 5am Dan wakes up helps me through contractions. 5:30am still in the shower. Getting a LOT stronger. Call the midwife. 6:30am leave for hospital.

I can still pinpoint the two exact places I had contractions in the car on the way to the hospital on the 7 minute drive, it felt like 7 hours. Our hospital has it’s birth centre on the second story and an awfully slow elevator so the stairs were our best option. I cried at the bottom of the stairs mid contraction, because it hurt, because I really didn’t want to walk up the stairs but mostly because I knew that the next time I’d be walking these stairs I would have a baby in my arms. Dan held my hand, mum rubbed my back and we got up them.

Once we got up into a birthing suite I was sat on the bed for more monitoring, all was normal and contractions were strong and regular, yes. But sitting on that bed for contractions was not where I wanted to be, advice: move through contractions! I couldn’t at this time as I needed antibiotics, just because my water had been broken for more than 18 hrs (normal standard procedure for such occasions), and they gave me them via drip. After the drip was finished I was given an internal: 5cm dilated. I wasn’t disappointed nor optimistic. I was focused. Move me to the shower. Knees on the ground. Leaning on exercise ball. Hot water on back. Perfect. Exactly where I felt I needed to be.

By the time I was in the shower it was nearing 8am, mum had called the rest of the birth team and told them I was 5cm, so we could expect a baby by lunch time, but maybe later. So they went and got some breakfast and made their way over. Contractions were intense, very intense, but I didn’t want to move from where I was. Not for gas and air, not for any other form of pain relief. The hot water was doing everything it needed to do for me. Dan kept the water on my back the whole hour, and slowly but surely contractions got closer and closer together. Around 8:45 I started to panic a little, I felt a very very intense need to push, and I was panicking because not even 2 hours before I was only 5cm, so I can’t be ready to push, can I? The midwife reassured me that if I felt like I needed to push then I could. So I did. Contractions weren’t contractions anymore, it was one long single contraction and it wasn’t ending. Dan, let go of her hand you need to help catch your daughter. Mum, hold my hand. I can’t do this. Yes you can. We can see her head, Emily. Touch it. You can do this. Yes, I can. I’m doing this.

“I’m told I pushed for around 15 minutes, but I can tell you now, it felt like eternity and at the same time it felt like seconds”

I’m told I pushed for around 15 minutes, but I can tell you now, it felt like eternity and at the same time it felt like seconds. Absolutely nothing compares to those last few pushes. The last few seconds of being just me, Em, before I became a mother. The amount of love you feel through every second of the pain is indescribable. And the massive feeling of release when your child enters the world and is brought up into your arms is utterly incredible. At 9:12am on February 6th 2017, Daniel caught his daughter and helped scoop her down through my legs and onto my chest. And we all cried. She was here. She was healthy. She was all ours. And about a minute later my mum held my face and said to me “Can you just tell us one thing? What is her name?” and Dan and I replied together, with the most love either of us have ever felt

“Violet Rae”

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