Oliver and the Seven Dwarfs.

Anybody that knew me pre motherhood will know how much I loved sleep. I could sleep 14 hours straight and not feel like I’d wasted anytime, I had afternoon naps whenever possible, I’ve slept at work, found it very easy to sleep in cars, trains or planes! I loved sleep! So a lot of people are shocked when I tell them I’m awake at 6-7am, up and active in the mornings during the week and in work by midday on a Saturday (I used to go in for 4pm!) so for this blog I’m going to write about stages/ emotions around sleeping and change of sleep patterns with a new baby. This blog will hopefully reassure new or expectant mothers that it really doesn’t last long! Oliver is nearly 3 months now and I have a consistent sleep pattern. (By the way, I’ve worked in nightclubs for the past 10 years so these timings aren’t as late as they seem, I’ve spent many years getting in at 4am and getting up after 12.)

Sleepy.
You will be tired. Very tired in the first few weeks. If you’re lucky enough to have a short labour I imagine it would be slightly easier but if you’re a 3-dayer like me then the first couple of days are so weird because you’ll be so sleep deprived but I didn’t find it easy to sleep because I kept waking up just to look at him.

Dopey.
I had many nights where I felt drunk! It’s like your brain and body want to do completely different things. I woke up a few times because he was crying and my brain and all my natural instincts were saying, “Get up and feed him or cuddle him or something!” But my body was saying, “No, I’m asleep!”

Grumpy.
The best advice I can give to new parents is… Work as a team! Don’t resent each other if one gets more sleep and don’t turn it into a competition, “I’ve done 2 nappies today, it’s your turn, I did 2am feed, get up!” Etc. It will not help! During the first week or so at home I would wake up and be really Grumpy with David for this stupid reason, he was asleep and I was tired and awake. Not really worth arguing over is it? He quickly realised that I was so tired from doing the night feeds and decided he’d get up slightly earlier for work and take over the first morning feed. That helped me so much because it just meant I didn’t have to worry when he cried in the morning, I knew Dave would see to him. I’d still wake up but not getting up straight away or dozing made a big difference. If you’re breastfeeding express one of the feeds and have a routine where you work together so you both get some sleep. Remember that women are generally more in tune to a babies cry so it makes sense for us to do the night feeds because the men probably won’t wake up if they’re in a deep sleep. Then that will cause an argument when you end up doing HIS feed. As well as being good for you as a couple, it’s good for you both to bond with baby. Feeding is a bonding experience for babies so seeing you both do it is really good for the baby.

Doc.
Ok, so this is the wise old owl “shethinkssheknowseverythingaboutbabies” section. Again I would like to stress, this is only based on my experience but if my experience can help a new mother then I’m pleased to help. So, by the time Oliver was 8 weeks old we were sleeping 6 hours straight and had an established routine. I didn’t want to write about it straight away incase I was just having a lucky few days but over a month later we are still in the same bedtime routine and Oliver seems to understand what’s going on. In the first few weeks we had no set feeding schedule so that didn’t help because I’d never know when he’d get hungry, I was initially breastfeeding on demand but moved to formula after being drugged up and in hospital for over a week. So he is now on a formula schedule and feeds roughly the same time everyday, this will happen with breastfed babies after a while so don’t resort to formula if you don’t have to.

Once we knew when he’d be hungry, we knew when we’d have gaps to sleep. So initially he was on a rough 10, 2, 6 am/pm schedule and I’d do 2am, Dave 6am. Then we changed the times so his last bottle was 11pm then we’d go to bed. After a few days he started falling asleep halfway through his 3am, so I started reducing the amount he had at 3am and increased his 11pm and 7am so he wouldn’t wake up hungry. He started sleeping til 5am, then 6am and now we generally get to about half 6-7 before he wakes up. We’ve also noticed that he’s stopped crying for his bottle, he just wakes up and shouts like he’s saying, “Hello, I’m awake, I think it’s bottle time now!”

Now we have a proper bedtime routine and he goes along with it! Pyjamas on and clean nappy around 9pm, then chill out time watching TV or just relaxing and cuddles, he usually has a little sleep. The room is kept dark and quiet so he can relax. Then bottle at 11, clean nappy and into bed with his mobile on and he just drifts off to sleep on his own. In the early days he wouldn’t sleep unless I cuddled him to sleep then he’d instantly wake up when I put him down. You have got to be patient with a baby, they’ve spent 9 months being snuggled up and now you expect them to sleep in a cot with all this space around them? It must be scary for them! You’ve got to help them understand they’re in the big wide world now! Snuggle pods/ blankets really helped Ollie learn to sleep on his own.

Happy.
Everything is suddenly a lot easier and happier when everyone gets some sleep. It is really important to take time establishing a routine if you want a happy household. Babies do not know the difference between day and night, we need to teach them. When I talk about timings, it is only a guide. We don’t live in a regimented strict routine, it is the routine that is more important than the time. Ollie will sleep just as well if we do the nappy, bottle, mobile routine at 11, 11.15 or 12. And please don’t think I leave him crying and hungry if he wants a bottle, if he’s hungry earlier he gets fed. However, because of the routine he is generally hungry at the same time everyday. Just like we’re hungry in the morning, lunchtime and teatime. Having a schedule does make everything easier, it means he can go to his Nan’s or aunties and I can tell them when he’ll be hungry rather than them trying to figure him out! I can go out and know how many bottles to take just in the same way adults might go out and plan to get lunch while they’re out.

Some people are against schedules for babies, it is not nasty or neglectful to put structure and stability into a child’s life. Is it nasty that schools have lunchtime at the same time everyday?

Sneezy.
One problem that I experienced with this lovely bedtime routine is, Ollie snores really loud! So he’s all relaxed and peaceful and I’ve now got two lots of snoring going on and I can’t sleep. I asked the doctor about Ollie’s snuffly nose and he said it’s perfectly normal. They just have narrow airways so they get blocked easily. As he grows it will get better. He did prescribe some saline drops for him to help clear his nose so sometimes he has a couple of drops before bed and it helps unblock his nose.

Bashful.
My final tip on getting some sleep with a new baby is don’t be shy! Ask family for help. Ollie has had a few sleepovers at my moms, my sisters have stayed at my house to do one of the feeds, his Grandma and Grandad looked after him on the weekend of my sisters wedding. You’ll find that they actually like helping. All of your family want to bond with your baby so give them time to get to know each other and give yourself time to sleep!

And why we’re on the Bashful subject, don’t be shy about sharing my blog!

If any expectant/ new mothers have any questions please ask. If any mothers have any other tips or advice please comment.

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10th July 2014.

imageWelcome to the world Oliver Eden-Sangwell. Weighed 8.5lbs born at Birmingham Women’s Hospital at 11.57am. What a lovely little baby he is. He is so perfect, his arrival on the other hand wasn’t so perfect!

I have been very lucky during this pregnancy. I escaped morning sickness, getting fat, minimal stretch marks and basically had a smooth pregnancy with no complaints other than heartburn and dead legs (minor issues really!) So my punishment for being so cool and lucky throughout…. THREE days of labour. Every method of birth attempted!

So this is how he entered the world. For a start, he was due 28th June but decided to make us all wait. I went to bed on Monday 7th July about 11.30pm. By 1.30am- 2am I was awake with horrible back ache, I don’t know why but I knew it was different to previous back aches. I was constantly going to the toilet too and then noticed I was having a show. It was like pink Vaseline coming out of me in bits. By 3am this was all still going on so I decided to have a bath to cure the back ache. It did help a lot. So I was able to go back to bed for a bit. I woke Dave up just before 4am and told him I was going into labour but no need to get up yet, still in early stages. So I managed to get a bit a rest but around 5am ish I was getting mild contractions in my back but fairly regularly probably around every 15 mins. It was only in my back though so I thought, well it’s not proper labour til my stomach contracts! (WRONG!) I discovered how to breathe through them (despite being worried that I can’t breathe when Shell asked me to blow a balloon up about a week before and Dave pointed out I probably should’ve gone to ante-natal classes – trust me, if you have a labour like mine classes will disappear out your head) so yeh it turns out I can breathe and breathed through my back contractions and slept probably two-three hours. I had a midwife appointment that afternoon anyway so I decided to chill out til then so I just rested and kept breathing. My mom came round about 1.30pm and we went to midwife with Dave too. Midwife said I’d made a lot of progress and my cervix was soft and about 2cm dilated so not classed as active til 4cm so just stay home and relax until it’s unbearable.

So I went home and my back kept contracting and I kept thinking any minute now it will move to my stomach and things will really get going. Still no. Watched a bit of TV with a heat pack and hot water bottle and it soothed the pain a bit. Then they seemed to be getting stronger and closer but still all in my back so I thought if I go to hospital they’ll just send me home! So I had another bath and it felt like the contractions stopped, they were just being soothed but it really helped I stayed lying on my side in the bath for ages. Shell came round because she was worried about me so she was giving me advice on how to breath and just chatting. And she liked being in charge of the contraction app! About 9pm the contractions were every 6-12 mins lasting almost a minute but still in my back. Mom, Dave and Shell were all saying go and get checked but I just felt like I’d get sent home. My midwife said every 5 mins is active labour. The pain was getting pretty bad so in the end I agreed to get checked but expected to be coming home. I was checked and was now 3cm, by 10pm! They said it is normal for labour to be this slow. I was going to but sent home but my blood pressure was too high. They kept checking but it wasn’t going down. I was still having bits of bloody show though so I knew that was the cause but they kept me in overnight as it’s a sign a pre- eclampsia so they had to keep an eye on me!

By the time I went up to the ward it was 1.30am, Weds 9th July. I was 3.5cm dilated and still contracting only in my back. They gave me a dose of pethidine to numb the pain so I could sleep. I was knocked out for about 2 hours and then woke up feeling contractions but not pain. Then the drugs started to wear off and about 5am poor Dave was back on back rubbing duties, he must have hardly any skin left! He’s been so nice all along. He slept upright in a stupid little chair, he looked so uncomfortable.

So Weds, I was left on the ward ALLLLL day! Still having painful back contractions but irregular. I’d have them every 10 mins, then every 4, then 15, there was just no pattern. So they knew I wasn’t progressing enough to go to delivery suite. I was starting to get bored and annoyed I felt like they should’ve helped by inducing me or giving me pain medicine or something! I managed to nap through a few contractions though. And I had another bath which helped! I was starting to master the breathing and then the bad ones kicked in, every 5 mins, lasting at least a min each, making me wanna cry each time! So midwife checked me and I was finally 4cm and active labour. So I could finally go and be looked after properly! This was about 2am Thurs 10th July. I went to to delivery suite, I couldn’t go to birth centre as planned because of my BP which meant – no pool! But also meant – better drugs! I said I just wanted gas and air until it was unbearable (that was Shell’s advice)! Dave was so good as my birthing partner, somehow he understood the contractions machine better than the midwives and was telling me when to breath the gas and air in and basically taking most of my pains away. I decided I was going to have pethidine when it got too painful. I didn’t want epidural and the midwives said I was coping well so I’d be ok. So that was the plan. I decided I’d wait til I was examined down below and decided if I’d got to 5cm, I’d have the drugs. They only check every 4 hours to reduce chance of infection so I guess it was around 6ish when they checked. I was SEVEN CM! I was shocked I’d got so far. So I decided to have to drugs. The midwife said I have a high pain threshold because I didn’t even flinch for the injection in my bum. Oh yeh and my contractions were still all in my back, really painful but my stomach felt ok!

I was spaced out after the injection, it was great because I slept through some strong pains. Dave was talking to me and in my head I was having a conversation but apparently i didn’t answer! I think my mom was there by this point but I was so dozy.

Around 10am (I think) he was basically ready to be born, I was fully dilated but had to try different positions to help ease him down. At one point I was quite comfortable but baby wasn’t and the midwife knew the cord was causing problems so she made me move quick! Oh yeh at some point in this drugged stage my waters broke, there was a proper gush it felt so weird!

The midwives were telling me to push and I was doing really well and he was so close. I really was trying but I just felt like nothing was happening! It turned out baby was back to back so he wasn’t coming out easily! They had to call a doctor in who tried to move him but he wasn’t budging so he said I had to go the theatre for forceps delivery. At this point I didn’t care I was saying, “Just get him out it’s taking too long!” He said it might to to emergency c- section if forceps don’t work. The anesthetist came in and was going through the legal consent crap and I was saying, “Can we just do it!” She had to explain everything first! Then I was rushed to theatre and sat up, Dave was in charge of giving me gas and air and I had an epidural and within seconds my stomach down went to jelly then nothing! I could see a reflection in one of the lights and could see them moving my legs but couldn’t feel a thing. They tried forceps but he wasn’t coming out so said they’ll have to c-section. I really didn’t care! My midwife was lovely, sat by me all through explaining what was going on. Dave was sitting there too making everyone laugh! He was finally out and the surgeon lifted him over the little screen and he was really chubby I said no wonder he didn’t fit out of me! They went and cleaned him then brought him over and Dave held him and I was just looking at him. He was perfect. He kept trying to open his little eyes but it was too bright! Then Dave took him to meet the grandparents and I was cleaned up and stitched back together.

I said from the start my body will know what to do when I’m in labour and I think I did pretty well. I handled the contractions for a long time but when it came to pushing I could just feel it wasn’t right, it felt like nothing was happening! When for the previous 3 days I knew something was happening but I just felt like there was no point in pushing. Well I was right because I would’ve been ripped or in real bad pain if I’d forced him out!

But… 3 days later he is definitely worth the pain! He is a perfect little boy. Everybody loves him already. I love being a mom already. I love my little family with Dave and I love my bigger family. He has the best grandparents! Both sets have been so supportive all along and they love him. His aunties have been so good, leaving work early to see me and almost fighting over who gets to hold him! His cousins are going to be so much fun. Jake wants to teach him Geography and patted him on the head and said, “Good boy!” When he farted! And I’ve got so many lovely friends who have been sending lovely messages. Thank you everyone I love my new life as a mom. I’ll keep blogging but probably not once a week!