The Fourth Trimester

I have been very ranty and giving out a lot  of late and have been told I am too self- deprecating…………

So here we go, something I learned to be very good at.

The new one- a few hours old.

The new one- a few hours old.

I enjoyed the newborn stage with all my children. With my first child it was a mix of awe, panic, sleep deprivation and wonder. With my second it was just as wondrous but we worried  way too much about making sure the first-born wasn’t excluded . When my third was born, I was fully relaxed and I enjoyed that time even though it was chaotic with three children under four but I know with all three of them I put unrealistic expectations on myself and I got stressed or worried about things that I really shouldn’t have. Then came the new one who is now four months old and finally I mastered the fourth trimester.

Granted I had some luck on my side, her birth was awesome and I think as a result of that everything in the first couple of weeks just fell into place. The high after she was born lasted a lot longer this time, every day, I wondered would the bad crash and all the hormonal tears arrive but they never did, life was easy. I had no physical side affects, no physical recovery and feeding was completely problem free and remains to be. Luck has definitely been with me this time as well as experience.

I don’t think she knew she had been born for the first ten or so days of her life. We took a lot of baths together and she would curl up in the bath with my hand under her head and sleep, every so often moving her hands and legs around slowly. She looked like how I imagine babies look like in the womb. She slept a lot the first ten days, I watched her sleep some of the time and I slept some of the time. Her brother and sisters held her tiny hands and she was kissed a lot.

Real life resumed but for the first time I said yes to absolutely everything that was offered. People brought food, friends and family helped out with the school runs. Some days I got dressed and went out because I wanted to, some days I had to. Other days I got back into bed with her. I done what I wanted most of the time.  When my other children were born, I turned down a lot of offer of help, stupidly. I think I thought I had some point to prove, that I could manage or something ridiculous. I could manage this time too but jesus help is brilliant, I said yes to everything that allowed me more time to sit on the couch with the baby or lie on the couch with the baby or sit and eat all the food with the baby on my lap. I didn’t quite conquer the whole sleep when your baby sleeps but I definitely conquered watch box sets when your baby sleeps and eat more food when your baby sleeps.

HMC2

I also learned to just say no this time to things I couldn’t go to. I remember having a complete meltdown in my bedroom a couple of weeks after one of my babies was born. Trying to express, trying to find something to wear, trying not to cry because actually I didn’t want to attend a party I had said I would go to. I have learned that friends will understand if you just say no I can’t make it. No excuses just no and that has made things easier.

I also learned ,out of necessity, that I can just leave the house with the baby and a nappy and a muslin. We have hardly used the pram yet at all this time, we just carry her everywhere. She is tiny. This is fine.

The husband looked after me a lot. He came home from work and cleaned and cooked and done everything. I think our maternity leave is ok in Ireland of course it could be better but its ok but we really need paid paternity leave. Someone needs to fix this. The husband didn’t get enough time to sit and just look at the baby like I did.

Just everything this time has been stress free and easy and really just lovely. The only difficult part was naming her ( she had four different names and was six weeks old before a final one was decided upon, I am not proud of this)  Some of this comes from me being older and having more confidence in myself and a lot of it comes from experience. I am a little sad though that it took me four goes to fully get this stage right. I am loath to give parenting advice because I vary from good to average to pretty damn poor at parenting depending on the day but I do wish I could go back and tell the me of 8, 6 and 4 years ago how to enjoy the newborn stage fully because its goes so fast.

HMC1

 

I would tell myself to forget about other people expectations and advice, I would tell myself to lie to strangers when they ask is it your first baby and to say its my fourth. When you tell people its your fourth baby, they don’t give the advice so much, its deadly. I would tell myself to just sit and look at the baby, count her eyelashes, hold her tiny fingers, have more baths with her, say yes if people want to feed you, say no if you don’t want to go somewhere, don’t stress and worry about what;s going to happen after maternity leave because it wont change any circumstance, don’t be the only one to watch out for pnd and know if happens it can be fixed and just be still and be kind to yourself.

In some cultures it is common for the new mother to have a period of time after giving birth to heal and rest and do nothing. Mothers or mothers in-law move in with the new mother to help her with her baby and ensure she gets to rest. Now, I love my mother and mother in law greatly but we would kill each other if we had to live with each other but I love the idea of the new mother having to do as little as possible. I am going to make a much bigger effort in future to offer to help anyone I know who has a baby, I think everyone should do that more. Just drop in food or offer to help with a school run or buy them something just for them. I am very grateful to everyone who done this for me this time and I am so grateful for my beautiful, perfect baby. I am very fortunate. Bring on the next stage, my last newborn experience rocked.

HMC4

 

 

An Open Letter To Persil About My Eyeball Injury

Dear Persil,

I am writing to you about your non bio small and mighty washing detergent. See Exhibit A below.

Exhibit A

Exhibit A

Firstly, let me tell you a bit about myself. I am an Irish mother of four living in Dublin. I spend an awful lot of money on washing detergent because my children love dirt and I spend a significant proportion of my time washing clothes. I will admit to being fickle in my washing powder choices and will mostly purchase whatever is on offer but nonetheless I am a loyal enough Persil consumer over the years.

Dublin is currently in the middle of a heatwave. It is pretty disgustingly hot, truth be told, but the one advantage is that there is great drying out. Ireland in the sun means there are thousands of Irish people stipping beds, curtains, seat covers and washing them right now to get the full benefit of the great drying.  I digress……..

Let me tell me about my morning, Persil. My youngest daughter is two months old. She was due to get her first vaccinations earlier this month. Our GP runs a ridiculously busy  surgery so you can imagine my delight, when I phoned this morning to be told, that there was nobody there this morning and if I came down quickly, the doctor could administer the vaccinations then and there with no wait time. This is such a rare occurance and so much better than having to sit around waiting in a doctors waiting room with four children in the oppressive heat. I was delighted, then my luck changed.

I decided I would put a wash on before we ran out the door and took out my recently purchased bottle of Persil Small and Mighty whilst telling the kids to get their shoes on and hurry up. As you well know there is a top on the bottle which you need to remove before using. Please see exhibit B below.

Exhibit B

Exhibit B

Its a tricky little bugger and requires some force to get out but out it came and with it came a small dollop of the detergent. This dollop, which I can confirm , is indeed very small and very mighty, shot out of the bottle at great speed into my eyeball.  MY EYEBALL.

I cannot begin to explain the shocking excruciating pain. It was like a thousand burning forks being stabbed into my eyeball. Persil, I am not bad with pain. I recently gave birth at home with no medical assistance or pain relief. The pain of your small and mighty detergent shooting into my eye was more horrendous. I screamed. I wailed. I considered trying to remove my eye myself to make the pain stop. My eldest daughter got me some tissue and my boy offered to get me a plaster. Thankfully they were more amused than scared by my blood curdling screams. I am pretty lax about swearing around the kids but never use proper really foul language. Until today. Today they may have learned the c word.   I wanted to curl up into a ball and scream continously but the doctor was waiting…….

So I loaded my children into the car and off we went. It is only a short drive to our GP. Persil, have you ever noticed when your are concentrating on one sense, your other senses are compromised? For example if I am trying to read a road sign, I need to lower down the car radio. In this instance because I was concentrating so much on trying to see properly , my sense of smell failed me. I got to the doctor, my injured eye was now bright red, bloodshot and throbbing with pain and it was only when I took the baby out of her carseat did I notice she had  had a rather explosive poo. You know the type that soaks through a nappy and  clothes. The doctor took one look at me- Bedraggled, red eyed, surrounded by children, weary. Weary and it was only 9.45am. I had to change the baby on the doctors examination table. I then had to strip the table and the baby because they were destroyed. I too was covered in poo at this point but I didn’t have the option to strip, athough had I, it may have distracted from my hideous looking eye.

The baby then got her vaccinations. Did I mention she is my fourth baby? It doesn’t get any easier watching a needle being plunged into your tiny baby’s soft little thigh and the accompanying look of horror on her face when the pain hits her. She wailed. I cried. Then because of her wailing, my boobs started to leak, badly. The severe eye injury had distracted me and I had forgotten to put on breast bads. So baby screaming, other three children watching, me red eyed, still in pain, covered in poo and breast milk. You still with me? Good.

The doctor asked what was wrong with our eyes……. I looked around confused. My four year old daughter were wearing 3D glasses with the lens removed. I hadn’t noticed. I explained there was nothing wrong . He asked when she had gotten glasses. He asked what had happened my eye. I tried to explain  but it was all too much at this stage and I didn’t want him to touch my eye or explain about my four year old’s fashion statements. I don’t like anything or anybody touching my eyes,Persil. We got up to go. I was broken at this stage. The pain was getting worse.I considered giving in, telling the doctor what happened and getting a referral for the eye hospital and then like magic, the tiny drop of detergent, rolled out of my eye. Very small and very mighty. The pain eased. We came home. The 4 year old got out her doctors set and used the fake otoscope to check my “very sore fooking eye”. She has repeatedly banged this against my eye over the last hour.

Persil, it hasn’t been a very good morning. To be fair there is a warning on the bottle to say keep out of eyes. I did keep it away from eyes. It was a good two feet from my eyes, when it shot out and attacked my eyeball. Perhaps you would consider adding a warning or maybe a line under the kind to skin on the packinging. How about “kind next to skin, fucking horrible to eyeballs?”

Kind to skin, very unkind to eyeballs

Kind to skin, very unkind to eyeballs

Best regards,

From a broken person who thankfully still ,just about, has two functioning eyes.

 

The Cold Never Bothered Me Anyway

Dublin.July 17th. Temperature: 1000c

Ok slight exaggeration but this week is warm. Sticky warm. Cloudy then sunny but consistent sticky heat. In typical Irish fashion, I am moaning. The kids are moaning, everyone is moaning. The 8 year old sat down beside me and burst into tears. I asked her what was wrong. She was too warm so she cried. I almost joined in.

Also how do people in hot countries keep their babies out of the sun without resorting to Mission Impossible style movements. I had to walk sideways with the buggy in the park yesterday, sideways most of the time, then straight, then sideways again to avoid the rays. I looked like I was hammered. I am sure people were thinking oh look at the woman she has clearly hit the bottle because she can’t handle all her children. I was swigging a bottle of water, they probably thought it was vodka as I stumbled along sideways.

The baby has gotten new super magical powers with the heat. She doesn’t need to sleep. She has just given up on it. Here she is at midnight last night. I didn’t photograph 1am, 2.45am, 4am, 4.53am……….

team no sleep

Apparently the rain is coming back tomorrow but its to stay warm. That will be even better. Excessive heat and rain. Yay.

 

Now look what I’ve done, put that song back in your head. Sorry about that.

breast

Boobs Vs Blow

The new one is 8 weeks old now. We are emerging from the lovely newborn stage. A thought struck me recently, breastfeeding has many similarities with getting stoned especially in the early days, I would imagine*

* if I leave out an I imagine or an apparently make sure to add it in, in your head.

 

breast

 

The High

You spend a lot of time on the couch or in bed, feeling relaxed. Two hormones are responsible for milk production,prolactin and oxytocin. You are swamped in these hormones. Prolactin is known as the mothering hormone, it’s the one that makes you feel sleepy and relaxed. Oxytocin is known as the love hormone, this is the one that gives you that falling in love high. Combined, well they can leave you in that delicious loved up dazed and content state. I have always found breastfeeding a huge de-stresser. Some times ( and there are many) when it all gets too much, I sit down, I feed the baby and all is ok with the world again. You’ve got to love feeling relaxed, mood enhanced, lying on the couchness. It could be compared to feeling high. The high and relaxation one might get from cannabis.

Mindless TV

With all the lying around, you need the remote control in hand. Similar to how one might need the remote to watch mindless tv or a movie or boxset when stoned.

The Munchies

Dear god, the munchies I get when feeding, especially at the beginning, are unbelievable. I can and do eat everything. Food tastes amazing, especially after having nine months of food tasting like sawdust. All the food, I love all the food. Apparently, when stoned, all the food is also amazing.

The Naps

Obviously with all the eating, mindless tv and eating, naps are required. I believe naps are also nice when high and its easier to drift off.

The Doing As Little As Possible- ness 

Did you ever see a stoner scrubbing a bathroom or ironing? Me either. Same when you are establishing breastfeeding. You HAVE to be on the couch or in bed tucked up with your baby with breaks for eating and the mindless tv.

How Breastfeeding and Getting Stoned Differ

  • Breastfeeding- very healthy. Smoking joints- not so healthy.
  • Breastfeeding- free. Buying cannabis can be pricey to achieve the same level of highness several times per day.
  • Breastfeeding – easily accessible. Cannabis not so much. If I wanted to buy drugs now, how would I even do that? And even if I did find a dealer, sure Id have to bring all my kids with me in my bus. That would be frowned upon, I would imagine.
  • Breastfeeding- legal. Getting stoned- illegal.
  • Breastfeeding- mostly all the food is handed to you. Stoned- you would need a slave ( also illegal) to continuously get you food or you would have to get it yourself and this would really cut into your on the couch, watching tv time.
  • Weight- you can get away with eating a lot more food due to the extra calories needed when feeding, again, especially when establishing feeding. Eating all the food when stoned leads to rapid weight gain.** For example, I know someone who went to Amsterdam for four days after they got married. They had been dieting to try to fit into  their wedding dress.  They may have broken a world record in rapid weight gain and managed to gain 10 pounds as a result of those four days.

** may or may not be me.

 

In conclusion, in my experience, breastfeeding provides many many of the advantages to getting high and none of the downsides that regular drug use can bring about.

Boobs rock.

boob may

The Time When I Had An Unplanned Homebirth

 

I need to record this for posterity and because I  will have no hospital notes to look back on in years to come…….Writing this took a whole lot longer than the actual birth. 

Throughout my pregnancy I had two concerns. One ,the concern that all mothers have, is the baby going to be ok. My second concern was about the labour and delivery. My other three children had all arrived before due date and my labours had gotten progressively faster with each child. During my second trimester I was over thinking the possible birth scenarios. I looked into having a homebirth but previous complications after the birth of my son ruled me out. I questioned the midwives at length at each antenatal appointment about fourth time labours, fast labours and the likelihood of me having a fast labour with this child. They reassured me, told me not to hang about and that to ring for a police escort if needed. I spoke to the husband in great detail about the possibility he might miss the birth or what if the baby was born before we got to the hospital. He listened. The midwives listened. Other people listened to me. I assume they got tired of me banging on about it but they listened all the same. When I hit the third trimester I stopped obsessing so much about it, I knew my options were leave for the hospital immediately or phone for an ambulance if I thought I needed it. My previous labour lasted about 80-90 minutes, maybe this one would be the same. I pushed aside thoughts of being here alone with three children and in full-blown labour and gave into the what will be will be.

My other children all arrived before their due date. I got it into my head this one would arrive on May 1st, a full two weeks early. She didn’t. I spent that week quite sick. There was a lot of vomiting, a ridiculous amount of bitching and moaning and many naps. I had a midwife appointment on May 1st and nothing seemed to be happening. I was relieved. I had an infection in my gum, no energy and was a moany cow. So the bank holiday weekend rolled around, I had many naps and took many texts and phonecalls from family

“Did you have the baby yet” they asked hourly.

“Shit yes, I did, god, did I forgot to tell you” I replied

“Really” said they

“No not fucking really. I would mention it if I gave birth” I replied by text or call, whatever medium the unlucky family member had chosen to contact me by  that hour. I generally then slammed the phone down and burst into tears or a vitriol filled rant or both. I was joyous that weekend. By the Sunday, I began to feel like I was overdue. My previous child had arrived by this stage of pregnancy so in my head this child should have.

The husband reasonably pointed out that the actual due date was still ten days away and that I could in fact be pregnant for another couple of weeks. Helpful. I took to the bed for a while after that statement was issued.

I started to analyse the signs then that baby might be imminent and came to the conclusion that the only sign a baby is about to be born is that there is a head crowning. There are no definite signs.

The midwife at my last appointment had gone on and on about how sex was a great natural way to bring on labour. Pfffttttt. I was ginormous, exhausted, hormonal and demonic. There was going to be no sex.  I spent the bank holiday weekend mostly napping and bouncing on my ball whilst my children walked around with dolls stuffed up their jumpers, rubbing their backs pretending they were pregnant and generally taking the piss out of me. The husband spent the weekend tip toeing around my various moods and demands.

So the weekend passed. On Monday evening, the kids went to bed, I bounced on the stupid ball, The husband was watching the stupid snooker final on the tv. I looked down at my stomach and noticed it was tightening and then stopping again. This kept happening but there was zero pain so I didn’t think any thing of it. I went to bed. The tightening kept happening but still no pain. I got a feeling that maybe something might happen so I got up again. I spent a couple of hours wandering the house, watching crap middle of the night tv, napping and waiting. Still no pain. By 5am the baby hadn’t been moving a lot so I decided I would wait an hour and go into hospital and get checked out. I  decided 6am was a reasonable time to wake my mother in law and we could go to hospital before rush hour started. Woke the husband and we pottered about making lunches and I laid out the three piles of school clothes. The boy came downstairs at 6.15am and we chatted. I phoned mother in law, no answer. Still no sign of labour. I considered maybe my “feeling” was off and that we should go no where. Then the following happened:

6.25am- went into the bathroom, hit by a pain, followed forty seconds later by another one.

6.27am- pain after pain after pain after pain.  I barricaded myself into downstairs bathroom.

6.30am- husband knocked on door and asked should he ring an ambulance. I believe my exact words where “don’t be so fucking ridiculous

6.32am- walked into hall, looked out at car, realised there was no way I was going anywhere and kindly requested husband ring an ambulance.

Over the following ten minutes. I stayed in the bathroom alone.  I remember shouting for some paracetamol at one stage, because you know paracetamol would have sorted the full-blown non stop contractions, right out.For once I was somewhat organised with regards packing my hospital bag. So organised I had gotten the husband to put them in the car.  The paracetamol was packed in the hospital bag in the car, no wonder the husband couldn’t find them but sure it gave him something do to.  I could hear my mother in law arriving and the children moving around and getting ready and then leaving.  When they left, I stood and looked at myself in the mirror and decided I would have the baby now. Just like that, like I done this everyday.  I don’t think I felt an overwhelming need to push more an overwhelming need for the pain to stop.I was very calm and felt very in control and had zero fear.  This was the first labour I went through where I did not hit the “Sweet Jesus. Make It Stop. I CANNOT DO IT” stage. I called the husband and asked him to get more towels. He did. He then went back to doing whatever he was doing. I got down on the ground and pushed, once. I felt the baby’s head,so, called the husband back. Then we had the most surreal conversation

I need you to get down on the floor with me

Ok

I am going to push now and the baby is going to come and you need to catch her

Ok” he replied. I will be forever grateful for his complete calmness too.

It was very quiet.  I pushed. The baby arrived. The husband caught her. It was blissfully simple. She was just there, wide eyes staring around, covered in mess, spiky hair and looking to , our untrained eyes, as she should. We wrapped her up in towels. I sat down on the floor, she started to cry, we probably did too.

Total time from first pain to her arrival about 18 minutes. Whilst her birth at home was unplanned it was ideal. No bright lights, no negotiation or politics, no unfamiliar faces or hospital rooms.She arrived at 6.44am into a completely quiet peaceful house with her parents pretending they knew what they were doing. It could not have been more perfect.

The ambulance arrived ten minutes later, for all our sakes, I am glad they did not arrive before hand.They said at least 14 times “Glad you didn’t give birth in the back of the ambulance” .  They didn’t exactly blue light it here and there were no sirens. To be fair , when the husband rang 999, I assume the dispatcher asked how long I had been having pains and he probably was sniggering with his hand over the phone when the husband replied five minutes. The paramedic asked the husbands permission for me to cut the cord ( seriously). I sent the husband to get me knickers upstairs, he came back with a thong, seriously again. Coincidentally the same thong I naively wore into hospital to have my first daughter 8 years earlier. I kept them as they are lucky knickers but not to actually wear them again and certainly not to wear them after just giving birth. The big huge knickers were safely packed in the hospital bag, in the car, obviously, to teach me some lesson for trying to pretend to be an organised person. I think I possibly waved the ginormous maternity pad at him and the thong  and asked him how they would possibly work.  I digress. The paramedics arrival ruined the calmness clearly. They asked was the baby a boy or a girl. A girl we both said. Then the husband looked at me, neither of us had thought to check was she actually a girl, we couldn’t take our eyes off her face. Familiar but new  and so ridiculously beautiful and perfect.

We went to hospital, we got checked over, we came home shortly afterwards.

We lost a lot of towels and gained another perfect child and a sensational amazing memory. It was incredible.

The new one- a few hours old.

The new one- a few hours old.

 

Things I Had Forgotten About Life With A Newborn

The new one arrived last week. She is perfection. It has been over four years since I had a newborn, I had forgotten a lot.

The recognition once she arrived. Another one who looked the same as her sisters and brother did when born. It was instant, the feeling that she was always meant to be here with us.

The tiny hands and feet.

The recounting of her birth story to everyone who comes to meet her.

The difficulty of getting curled up arms and legs into a babygro that is too big.

That every stranger we meet when out, asks about her.

Watching her sisters and brother with her and their excitement at her being here.

That food has gone from tasting bland and horrible to tasting amazing. All of it. All the food. I have eaten more in the last ten days than I did in the previous two months. I love all the food.

How big the four-year old hands seem when she is holding the new ones hand.

The downright craziness of my public health nurse and how impressively she has honed her stalking skills in the last four years.

That even though this is our fourth, strapping a car seat into car sometimes still requires an engineering degree to do it right.

That my boobs are twice the size they were two weeks ago.

The piles of laundry.

The high after giving birth that is better than all the drugs in the world.

Saying “the six of us”. SIX.

That there is no need to watch tv, we watch her instead.

All the emotions in the space of five minutes. All of them. Exhausting. Also, the patience of my husband for handling this pretty remarkably.

The fact that is so bloody hard to name a child. Obviously we had 8 months to choose a name. It still took an additional ten days after she was born and it’s still not registered so not set in stone.

The nappies, all the nappies.

The distance breast milk can travel. From boob to far side of room in .37 seconds.

That the tiredness now is a million times better than the tiredness when being heavily pregnant.

That having a huge bubble bath with a tiny baby is possibly the nicest thing in the world.

The wonder.

baba