Thursday 16 June 2016

Introducing Connie Scarlett Bishop: Birth Story & Breast vs Bottle debacle

One week ago today at 4:39am my beautiful baby girl made her super-speedy entrance into the world. 

Connie Scarlett Bishop 
Born at 4:39am on 9th June 2016
Weighing 8lb 3oz

Meet Connie Scarlett Bishop - our beautiful baby girl!

The Birth

Six days late, she hadn't seemed in much of a hurry to come out and meet us, until last Wednesday in the early hours, when at 1:50am my contractions started. 

I was determined to labour at home for as long as possible, and obviously had no idea how long or short my labour would be, but in a matter of just two hours my irregular contractions suddenly dramatically intensified and we found ourselves having to make a rather dramatic rush to the hospital. 

I entered the Delivery Suite at 4.33am after the most insane car journey of my life, and she was delivered naturally within just 6 minutes of our arrival! 

Thank goodness for lack of traffic at that time in the morning, otherwise she'd have undoubtedly been born in the car!! 

I do love me a bit of drama! 

My 'Summary of Birth' notes - Duration of labour: 6m

A few minutes after delivery - Mummy and Connie

Mummy's little squishy! Connie - a few minutes old. 

A few hours after delivery - just waiting to be discharged. 

I managed the labour on 2 paracetamol at home, and then some gas & air for the very short amount of time I was in the delivery suite. The whole birth was a complete shock after the 30+ hour nightmare of Bert's birth (failed epidural, emergency forceps delivery, huge blood loss etc). A week on and it still hasn't really sunk in. 

She came naturally with just a few contractions in the delivery suite, and there were no complications. After delivering the placenta and having some stitches I was able to eat some breakfast, freshen up with a shower and start to get prepared to come home. 

Coming Home

I feel so blessed to have had such a remarkably different birth this time around, and I was genuinely pinching myself when just an hour after arriving at the hospital I was sat with my baby in my arms, sipping a mug of hot sweet tea and eating marmalade toast! We were discharged at 11:30 am that very same morning, and I was at home eating lunch with my lovely family around me on the very day she was born - how incredible!

I was even more thankful that Bert was none the wiser to the whole thing: he slept soundly while I laboured at home, and then blissfully unaware of my dash to the delivery suite - Bert snoozed on while his Grandad held the fort at home. He awoke at 8:15am to his two Nannies who told him his baby sister had arrived, and he'd barely had a chance to swallow his breakfast before Mummy, Daddy and baby Connie arrived home to meet him. 

Welcome home Connie B! 


Sibling love! 

He greeted her with lots of coos and ahh's and isn't she cute? He said 'Hello Darling!' to her completely unprompted, and then went on to ask her 'Connie, do you like Gorillas?' (he is rather fond of animals you see!)... the whole experience was just magical. And I have to say that one week in Bert has been a complete dream with his new baby sister - kissing her, cooing over her, being incredibly gentle, and always seeming so happy to see her. 

Long may it last!! 

Newborn Bert vs. newborn Connie - aren't they alike? 

What a family portrait! Hahaha! #toddlerlife

This first week has gone by in quite a haze - we've been so lucky with a ton of support from family and friends, the most beautiful cards and gifts arriving in streams each day, along with plenty of visitors all desperate for some newborn snuggles. We're obviously knackered, show me parents of a newborn who aren't...but we're loving it and we're so acutely aware of how super-fast these newborn days go and that they'll be over in a flash. We are trying hard to soak up every moment of Liam's 2 week paternity-leave (one week to go!) and we're relishing the slow pace of life at home together until we have to return back to the grind of work, routine and 'normality'. 

Our little squishy! 

Of course, this last week hasn't been all blissful newborn snuggles and milk-drunk has been horrendously tough at times too and it would be irresponsible of me not to talk about the tough bits too. 

Breast vs. Bottle 

Aside from the multiple stitches and the pain that ensues, the three slipped discs in my back that were naturally badly affected by another labour...I also had a pretty horrendous time attempting to establish breast feeding. With Bert, I was unable to breast feed him due to him having a very severe tongue tie...we bottle fed him from the off and to be honest, after such a touch and go labour spread over so many hours I was too exhausted to even think about it that much. This time round I had really hoped to be able to try and breast feed, so I was chuffed to bits when just minutes after having my stitches Connie had latched on and proceeded to feed from me for nearly an hour and a half (greedy baby!) Perhaps foolishly I had thought I'd cracked it instantly. 

Two days in I was yet to sleep because she was feeding twice an hour, every boobs were huge, hard, lumpy, my nipples were cracked and bleeding, and my back was the worst it has been in a long time due to being sat upright in a chair constantly feeding. One of the things I stupidly hadn't considered about breast feeding was how all the responsibility (obviously) would fall to me - no one could help me to feed her, no one could sleep for me, and aside from bringing me plenty of tea, pain killers and giving me some moral support, I was on my own.

Whether it be down to hormones, or my naturally anxious nature, I also found it crazily hard to get my head around not ever knowing how much milk Connie was getting from me, and whether she was getting enough. With Albert we'd been able to keep track of exactly how many ounces of milk he was taking at each feed, and I felt totally reassured by the numbers. This time I just felt panicked and afraid that I wasn't doing enough for her. 

The pain in my boobs and my back got worse, the sleep deprivation ensued and by the evening of day four I was a crying heap on the floor. I knew deep down that I would really struggle to maintain breast feeding long-term with my back in the state it is (I'm in need of spinal fusion surgery), and with a toddler to look after and a business to run I was starting to get panicked about how on earth I could possibly maintain feeding her alone. I read up tons about the possibility of expressing milk and combination feeding, I chatted to lots of friends who have managed to successfully breastfeed, but in the end, I just knew that I couldn't continue. 

Yes, it was a selfish decision - it was to save my own pain, to make my routine and day to day easier, it was because I want shared responsibility of feeding, and I want reassurance from the numbers that bottle feeding brings, I stopped because I was completely and utterly exhausted and needed a break, I wanted to sleep and I could feel my mental health taking a tremendous battering, and that scared me.

I'm a firm believer in happy mum = happy baby, and honestly, those first four days with Connie really were marred by the breast feeding experience. Maybe it would have got easier had I pressed on, but maybe it wouldn't, and I genuinely couldn't take even another feed. I was dreading each and every one and I didn't want that to be the feelings I was experiencing when holding my beautiful daughter in my arms. 

So, the bottles were sterilised, the Perfect Prep machine ordered (they are MAGIC!), the Aptamil powder was opened and I headed to bed for a blissful 6 hour sleep while Liam took over. He was so relieved by my decision - he hadn't wanted to pressure me either way, but once I had decided to stop breast feeding he had admitted how hard he was finding it, and how much he was missing being able to be hands-on with the feeding. 

Three days on, and I know it was the right decision for us as family. She took to the bottle effortlessly and now she's more settled, content and sleeping for longer, she's going 4 hours between each feed, I know she's getting enough milk and everyone has been able to give her a feed. I've been able to sleep for longer than 15 minute cat-naps and I'm beginning to feel human again. My back is starting to ease a little and I'm no longer dreading feeds. My boobs are still horrendously sore - your milk drying up is not a pleasant process, but hopefully I'm past the worst of it. I've got my body back, and I'm excited to be back in control again. 

I have a new-found deep respect for any mother who is able to maintain breast feeding long-term, I think you are amazing, I really do. Maybe it comes more naturally to some, but I'm damned sure it is pretty blooming horrendous for most women, and you're made of tough stuff if you continue past those first few days. 

Her favourite place to sleep! 

Mummy and Connie, feeling much more human after we switched to bottle feeding. 

I'm excited for our final week all together at home as a family of four before Liam returns to work. We're looking forward to more visitors, plenty more cakes and biscuits to fuel the night feeds, and a lovely family BBQ at my in-laws' on Sunday to celebrate Father's Day. 

Just some of Connie's visitors over the past week, lucky girl! 

We had a cute tea party on Sunday for the Queen's 90th Birthday - I love this photo we snapped, such a fun one to look back on. 

As ever, I've taken a million photographs and have so enjoyed sharing them with everyone. Social media is a wonderful thing, and I've been so overwhelmed by all the amazing comments, love and support that's been extended to us through my social profiles. Who doesn't love a cute bit of baby spam, eh? 

newborn feet

baby jeans
Jeans and shoe socks...jeez! Cutness overload Connie! 

Four cousins.... Connie (6 days), Andreas (8 months), Albert (2 years 10 months), Paris (3 years 11 months) 

Today (Day 7) was Connie's first outing and Bert's first ride in the double buggy - it was nothing glamorous, just a walk to the post office and Tesco for supplies, but it was great to get out, get some exercise and some fresh air. I love our Cosatto double buggy, it's fab! 

**Some of you might wonder why we even need a double buggy with Bert being nearly 3 and totally capable of walking now - but we need it because I don't drive and so we walk absolutely everywhere in Bedford...I can't expect Bert to walk the miles I do, or stand on a buggy board for often 45 minute+ walks so for now a double buggy will be the answer when I'm out and about with the both of them.**

My world: Connie and Bert in their double buggy ready for an exciting trip to Tesco! Ha! 

Right, I'll leave it there for now as I've waffled on enough - but I wanted to get this post written and published asap - I hoped that the sooner I got it down the more raw the feelings and emotions would be. I know I'll love to look back at this in years to come and remember those first heady newborn days and all that they bring!

Mrs B