A Leeds based lifestyle blog written by Claire Chircop.

Sunday, 27 January 2019

My first month of motherhood.


Mum, mother, mam, mammy, whatever you want to call it; I've been rocking this motherhood lark for a whole month now, and wow what a journey it's been! There have been ups and downs & it’s been the hardest, yet the most rewarding month of my life to which I’m still trying to get my head around. I definitely feel like I’m winging motherhood, but here’s what I’ve picked up so far.

Sleep.
There's no question about it, the sleep deprivation when you have a newborn is real & whenever we've introduced people to Amelia it's always the first thing they ask. That's of course after cooing over her for a good twenty minutes, because (and I don’t mean to boast but) she’s definitely the cutest baby ever. The thing with Amelia is that when she gets into bed she's such a good sleeper, it's just getting her in there which can be tricky. During the night she can go 4-5 hours without waking, meaning Dan & I are still getting a decent amount of sleep. Heck, some nights I'm getting more kip than I would when I was at work, which I’m definitely thankful for. Five weeks in & I feel like we're finally sussing out the best way to get her in the Moses basket as she seems to be settle much easier, however we're both very aware that this could change at any given moment. Babies can be very unpredictable!

My relationship with Dan.
Seeing Dan being a father is honestly the best thing - I love it! Last week while I was in the bathroom mid pee, I overheard him singing to Amelia downstairs and I had a little moment to myself where I was thinking 'how on Earth did I get so lucky?' I must have been a saint in a past life! We're still at the stage where we're being very polite with each other, which to be honest I thought would be long gone by now, I thought we’d be screaming and getting frustrated with one another, but we make the best team… And fingers crossed, long may it continue that way.

Routine.
We've read that newborns are unable to get into a routine until they're around 6 weeks old, so when it comes to it we've been living our lives dictated by Amelia... You could say that we’re slaves to our baby. From day one we’ve written down times of feeds, how much she was feeding and how many bum changes we’ve done. It’s been super handy as first and foremost as new parents we’ve suddenly become the most forgetful people in the world, but secondly its super interesting to see correlations, and even though we haven’t lived each day by a routine, if you go by our notes it seems we are already sort of on our way there. Over the next couple of weeks I’m wanting to get a little bit stricter with feed times and a sleeping routine as the dream would be to put Amelia to bed a couple of hours before we go up. We absolutely love the bones of her, but it’d be nice for Dan & I to have a couple of hours to ourselves on an evening. If you have any tips for this please holler them my way.

Finding time.
I think I was quite na├»ve pre-Amelia, I had it in my head that I was going to girl boss maternity leave & it was going to be time for me to finally get my shit together. Now however I’m five weeks in and I can already see it being totally unproductive and flashing before my eyes - it’ll be over before I know it if I’m not careful. My days go super quickly as I’m constantly thinking when the next feed or nappy change will be; I don’t particularly look at the clock anymore as my day is more judged by how many bottles Amelia’s had, for example 5:00pm is now ‘5 bottles in’, six if she’s been particularly grizzly. I’ve also found that everything takes ten times longer with a baby in tow, if I’ve got to be somewhere I’ll make sure I set off an hour in advance, firstly because I hate lateness, but secondly because you never know when the next poo explosion is going to happen. Baby butts are unpredictably deadly.

Juggling the baby & the dog.
If you think finding time to do your own thing with a baby is hard, imagine having a super energetic, super boisterous lemon beagle to contend with too. Willow’s taken to Amelia so well though and I’m so pleased it came so naturally for her as I was really worried to begin with. Worried that puppy would feel left out or pushed aside. And worried that she was going to resent this new bundle of joy we were bringing home. Truth is I needn’t have worried, I just needed to get smart. Iordered a baby wrap from Joy & Joe which has been an absolute Godsend forwalking Willow, and if there’s one thing I could recommend to new parents or parents to be it’d be that! I just wrap it around myself, slot Amelia in and away we go, not only is it super handy for getting shit done, it’s also a way for me to sneak a couple of extra cuddles.

Meltdowns.
In honour of being 100% honest about motherhood, I wanted to just touch upon how difficult I’ve found it at times. There have been a handful of moments where I’ve sobbed uncontrollably because I’ve had moments of madness where I’ve thought I’m not cut out to be a mum. I’ve only had a handful of meltdowns, and said moments of madness have always occurred during the night, when Amelia’s trying her best to scream the house down and I’m feeling shitty about myself through sleep deprivation and exhaustion. Understandably it just all gets a bit much sometimes and the only thing I can do is let go, get all of my emotions out, have a damn good cry and start over again. I don’t know about you but when I need to cry, I NEED to have a good cry. There’s something about totally letting go & succumbing to your emotions, heck it almost feels like cleansing. Once that’s done with though I find it really easy to get my head back in the game and tackle whatever life has to throw at me. But yes, there have been hard times, ridiculously hard times, but they’re all 100% worth it for our sometimes spawn of Satan, sometimes angelic little girl.

Like I say, I definitely feel like I’m winging this whole motherhood thing and yes some days are easy and what I’d call a piece of piss, but others have been really hard, and I think it’s good to talk about those really hard times. I’d like to think I portray a really real life online when it comes to being a mum, my Instagram photos are super cute yes, but the messages behind them are really real and it’s amazingly heart warming to get a conversation going because truth is, we’re all in this together. Nobody really knows what they’re doing, and if they say they do then they’re lying, so reach out to your parent friends, ask for advice & talk about the hard times. We’re all here to help each other.

What do you think is the hardest thing about being a parent?

Claire.X


Have you read my child birth posts?
My labour story - Welcome to the world Amelia May Chircop.
Did hypnobirthing work for me?
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Sunday, 20 January 2019

Did hypnobirthing work for me?

It wasn't long after finding out I was pregnant that I'd decided I wanted to try hypnobirthing when it came to delivering our baby. I wanted to keep my birth plan as natural as possible & for me hypnobirthing felt like the best option... But did it work for me?
What is hypnobirthing?

Hypnobirthing is a method of pain management used throughout labour and birth which involves a mixture of visualisation, relaxation, meditation and deep breathing techniques.

Visualisation includes both picturing how you want the birth of your baby to play out as well as taking yourself away to a 'happy place' and imagining a peaceful and calm setting. Relaxation and meditation techniques are also used to stay in tune with your body, concentrate on the task in hand and eliminate any extra noise or distractions around you. Controlled breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth helps to stay calm and reduce stress through labour, it also gives you something to concentrate on and distract yourself from the discomfort of labour. Hypnobirthing encourages you to get into a confident mindset with positive affirmations such as 'I trust my body' or 'each surge brings my baby closer to me'... Basically whatever works for you to go into birth confidently and positively. 

Scientifically these techniques help manage adrenaline which is the stress hormone our bodies naturally produce when it's put in a 'fight or flight' type situation. We want to reduce the amount of adrenaline in our bodies as it works against Oxytocin, otherwise known as the happy chemical we produce during labour which helps progress the entire child birthing process.

Managing this stress both before and during child birth is said to reduce the fear & sometimes even the pain associated with labour.

Misconceptions of hypnobirthing.

There's limited research into hypnobirthing and from what's been discovered it only seems to work for half the women who practice it. With this and hypnobirthing only being a relatively new concept, it means the process carries with it a lot of misconceptions.

The vast majority of opinions are that the birthing process is 'hyped up', Storm believes 'people are under the illusion that if you just breathe, it won't hurt' which to be honest, I totally understand! Fortunately for me I didn't go into childbirth naively, I knew it was going to hurt like hell & that it'd be the hardest thing I'd ever done - Which it totally was btw! This however didn't stop me using hypnobirthing techniques during labour. The thing about hypnobirthing is that you don't have to follow it by the book, you can take elements from it & use them however you like to create a perfect birthing experience, which is exactly what Kirsty did, she didn't use all of the birthing techniques 'other than reminding herself of several positive affirmations.' There are no rules... Basically whatever works for you to go into birth confidently and positively.

Before baby was born we went to an antenatal class at the hospital where the midwife's opinion on hypnobirthing was that it's a 'hippy an new wave' technique. She advised at the time that it's not for everyone & that it came with a lot of misconceptions and even though she started the conversation in a negative manner she actually finished the conversation in a well rounded, educated way.

Thankfully I hadn't been subject to too many negative opinions when it came to my birthing choice, to be honest the vast majority of people I'd spoken to hadn't even heard of hypnobirthing. It was nice actually to educate other people on the techniques, give others another view on childbirth & open up a new discussion.
Did hypnobirthing work for me?

So the question you've all been waiting for... Did this hippy, new wave birthing technique work for me?... I'd actually say yes!

Before going into labour I'd practiced visualisation along with the breathing techniques and I could definitely see how it would work during childbirth, however when it came to it for me I really struggled with the visualisation side of things. Understandably there was too much going on at the time for my brain to take me away to my 'happy place'. The breathing techniques worked wonders, however I couldn't not concentrate on the fact a baby was coming out of my vagina. Focusing on my breathing was the only thing that got me through giving birth... That and gas & air!

For me hypnobirthing worked more before the birth, don't get me wrong focusing on my breathing throughout labour worked amazingly well, I just think getting myself into the right mindset before the big day was brilliant. I went into it using positive affirmations, knowing that my body could do it.... I trusted my body & what it was capable of.

I'd like to think I'm pretty chilled & laid back, so a lot of the hypnobirthing techniques came pretty naturally to me. I had & still do have a 'what will be, will be' attitude towards childbirth which to be honest I think is the only way hypnobirthing works. Even though I went into labour with a very positive mindset, I knew that if something was going to go wrong, or if something didn't follow 'my plan' then it'd be okay in the end... I was going to meet our baby & in the grand scheme of things that's all that matters.

Have you heard of hypnobirthing before? Do you think it would, or did it work for you?

Claire. X

Have you read anything from my pregnancy series?
My labour story.
Things I'm looking forward to post pregnancy.
My newfound appreciation for pregnant women & what I've learnt along the way.

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Friday, 11 January 2019

My Labour Story - Welcome To The World Amelia May Chircop.

*Trigger Warning - Graphic childbirth content*

My labour story starts off bright and early at 3am Saturday 22nd December 2018, and lasted a grand total of 22 hours before we welcomed our little girl into the world. But for today's tale I'm going to be taking things a little further back to Monday 17th December 2018... My little one's due date.
I remember feeling quite anxious on the run up to baby's due date. Dan & I were both fully aware baby could arrive safely anytime between 37-42 weeks however for me particularly I found having the specific date at the back of my mind to be quite pressuring. I was counting down the days to the due date expecting to feel different and expecting my body to give me a sign, but nothing showed. I was googling every single little symptom and seeing if that correlated with going into labour... Which of course it did. Everything relates to going into labour according to Doctor Google. 

It was frustrating - But something I had no control over.

I'd booked in to see my midwife on the due date, Monday 17th December with the hope to have a membrane sweep to try and get things moving. So there I was Monday morning, legs flopped, vagina out for the world to see & I had what I can only describe as an aggressive fingering. Unfortunately said fingering was more of an internal examination rather than a membrane sweep, as my cervix hadn't even began to open. I remember feeling so disappointed at the time - Disappointed that my body wasn't quite ready to push this baby out of me.

Again... It was frustrating - But something I had no control over.

Four of what I can only describe as the longest days of our lives had passed and baby was still showing no signs of budging, and at this point we were fully anticipating the arrival of a Christmas day baby - Something we didn't particularly want, but something we'd grown to accept.

That was until 3am the next day!
I woke with cramping pains in my stomach, believed it to be the beginning of contractions and then instantly convinced myself it was nothing. I felt like I'd been waiting for such a long time for contractions to show, that I didn't want to get too ahead of myself and be left disappointed if it was just a case of a jippy tummy. Thankfully three hours later of on and off pains and after continuous googling of what contractions are supposed to feel like, I'd decided to wake Dan with the words 'I think it's happening!'

At this point I was getting contractions every ten minutes or so, but they weren't painful - It was more of an ache. In fact Dan found it bizarre that as I'd be having one I'd just be getting on with my normal day to day life, my facial expressions wouldn't change & I could easily talk through them... At this point, this whole labour thing was a breeze!

It wasn't until around 3pm, so 12 hours later that these 'easy contractions' started to feel more painful and come more regularly. I could still talk through them which meant they weren't currently as bad as what they were going to become, but they certainly knocked me for six. Each contraction left me frozen, but from practicing hypnobirthing I was getting through them purely through concentrating on breathing and getting into my own happy head space.

We'd previously called the hospital to let them know what was happening, but decided to drive in to LGI around 4pm. Here I had another internal examination where I was told I'd dilated to 2cm and we had the option to either come home and rest or have a wander around the hospital for a few hours to see how I progressed. We'd decided to come home, I popped myself in the bath and waited it out for another couple of hours until Dan said he couldn't bear seeing me in that much pain anymore and that he was taking me back to the hospital. I remember at the time thinking we'd be wasting the hosiptal's time but in hindsight it was the best thing we could have done.

Another internal examination later and I'd progressed to 4cm which in the space of a couple of hours I was told was pretty speedy. Yay cervix! And at this point we were taken through to the delivery suite where shit got real!
We were welcomed by the midwife who'd be delivering our baby and were instantly offered tea, biscuits and sandwiches - It was almost as if we were entering a B&B!.. Albeit a clinical, white wash walled B&B.

A couple of hours had passed and the pains were ramping up  at this point, contractions were coming every couple of minutes and lasting for a minute if not more at a time, but they were still what I'd describe as bearable. I'd had no pain relief at this point yet but could definitely see that I'd be asking for some pretty sharpish. I'd always wanted to try and deliver my baby as naturally as possible, however was very much aware that if I needed pain relief or medical intervention, I needed to do what was best for both baby and for myself.
My first dose of pain relief came in the form of gas & air - The midwife had needed to pop my waters, which I can only describe as feeling like I'd peed my pants, but this release of pressure now came with an intense wave of pain whenever I'd have a contraction. The midwife explained that this was because baby had nothing to bounce off & the pain I was feeling was little baby bones moving down the birth canal hitting my pelvis. Ouch! I'd needed to have my waters broken so they could attach an electronic fetal heart rate monitor to baby's head. Her heart rate was a little all over the place at one point and the midwives were unsure if it was just down to her being an active and wriggly baby or if it was something more serious. Thankfully our precious one is a little wriggler!

I'd heard a lot of things about gas & air, mainly from people saying it had made them feel quite sick or woozy, but I can honestly say I don't think it had that much of an effect on me - If anything I was using it as a distraction. Essentially it was something else for me to concentrate on rather than an 8lb baby making it's way out of my vagina. Eeek!

Before going into labour I'd always thought as soon as I got to 10cm dilated, I'd have some sort of indication from the midwife and then I'd be told to push... But this didn't happen for me. Something inside me just told me to start pushing. I'm not sure if I was at 10cm or not, but from the way my body was contracting, I knew it was time! It's really amazing what the human body can do. I've never experienced child birth before, but somehow my body just knew what to do... Even if my mind didn't.

At this point it'd just gone midnight & I'd already been in labour for 21 hours, but I knew the end was in sight - The midwife had said our baby would be with us in the next hour and it was this feeling that made my whole mindset switch. Something in my brain took over, eliminated the pain & I turned into some kind of wonder woman. My head was one million percent in the game & I knew I had to just crack on with the task in hand... Because soon We'd be meeting our little girl.

This feeling was like nothing I'd ever experienced before, however if you can imagine what it's like to pass a baby through the birth canal and out of the vagina, then it's exactly that feeling! It's painful yes, but it's an amazing experience to feel like you're actually getting somewhere rather than just having contractions every couple of minutes. The end was in sight!
A short while passed and as promised our little girl made an appearance at 1.35am on Sunday 23rd December. After 41 long weeks our baby was finally here & our lives would never be the same again!

My labour story is extremely positive, in fact shortly after delivering Amelia I remember the whoosh of emotions, one of which was 'I could do that again!'... Granted maybe not anytime soon, but the whole experience made me feel like a force to be reckoned with & if I could do this, I could do anything!

If you've got this far, thank you! You're 1400 words in & deserve some kind of medal!

Claire.X

Have you read my previous pregnancy posts?
Lifestyle | The third trimester.
Lifestyle | The second trimester.
Lifestyle | The first trimester.
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