Thursday, 12 March 2015

The Baby Daze

It is March which means that my little Baby Roo is two months old. 10 weeks today to be precise. It is that weird stage where we could not imagine life without him, yet in so many ways he still feels like such a fresh addition to the family.

The past 10 weeks have been intense, full-on, crying-inducing hard and crying-inducing amazing. Being a second child and born in the depth of the winter has meant that Baby Roo has had to deal with a fair few bugs and colds, but I am hoping that Spring will come soon and with it a whole new lease of life made of long, warm and sunny days. I'm also hoping for my brain to start shedding the baby daze* and for my body to start shedding the baby weight.

*Baby Daze: permanent state of tiredness often associated with emotional high and lows. Typical sign of person afflicted by baby daze is the fact that said person goes to sleep exhausted, feeling as if she has done a million and one things that day, especially a lot of heavy lifting and rocking as her back is in agony. Despite this extreme tired mental and physical state, said person's home is a mess, there is no food to eat and often no essentials in the house whatsoever. Emails remain unanswered and to-do lists are now the length of the Earth circumference. Times 24.

Week 1 to 5: Deep in the Daze

Week 1: Mr H and Miss G were at home on paternity leave and school holidays respectively and Baby Roo had no choice but to quietly slot in into family life, meals out and 4 year old birthday parties included. None of these daily activities phased him in the slightest as he was born adamant that the day was for sleeping and the night for being half awake and squirming on his parents' chest. Oh joy! 

Week 2: With Mr H and Miss G back at work and school respectively, Baby Roo found a new unsuspecting victim to his 'do-not-dare-to-put-me-down' antics. The Mothership arrived from Italy bringing inevitable stress and much needed help since I had a terrible gastric flu that saw me totally wiped out of action for day 10 and 11 of Baby Roo's life.

Week 3: The original plan was for the Mothership to stay in London for a week to help me with Miss G's school run, but we had to ask her to stay longer as the germs invaded us again, this time in the form of Miss G's tonsillitis. I will never forget one night when Mr H stayed with Miss G who kept vomiting everywhere, whilst I was up all night with Baby Roo who had pretty much an exploding poo every hour. Oh, how we regretted having kids at 4:30am when Mr H and I met in the laundry room whilst trying to start yet another wash!

Week 4: The real test. The school run with a baby who had no feeding schedule and a 4 years old who was still adjusting to having a brother and who wanted to stay at home with him rather than go to school. There has been screams. Mostly mine, some Miss G's, hardly any by Baby Roo. Thank God he is as chilled as a baby can be. 

Week 5: My brother and his wife visit from Italy. Both Baby Roo and Miss G were real show offs behaving impeccably for their visitors. Baby Roo also finally started to understand that nights are for sleeping and not for pooing. All the tourist activities during the day plus the sleep deprivation at night made me very close to collapse out of exhaustion, but I endured it all dreaming of Half Term and a slow down in pace of our weekly schedule.

Week 6 to 10: Lifting myself out of the Daze

Week 6: Calling for divorce! Baby Roo remained remarkably good natured and mostly happy, but with a strong Koala-bear attitude to life. He would scream and protest the very moment he was not living and sleeping on me or Mr H, so when Mr H sprang 4 nights out for work I very nearly called a solicitor asking for divorce! Putting an overtired 4 year old to bed plus keeping an exhausted baby up past his bedtime so that his sister could have a bedtime story was hellish. Times 4! 

Week 7: Mr H used the week of Half Term as his second week of paternity leave and we spent it as a family of four, with Miss G totally and utterly relishing our time together. Baby Roo kept his trademark of being a very relaxed baby and made no fuss of our trip to the theatre to watch Charlie and Lola, nor he minded going for lunch at Miss G's favourite sushi restaurant. He endured countless hours of his sister squeezing and holding him and totally loved it! When he started to say "Ggggoo" she convinced herself that he was trying to learn her name and she couldn't be more impressed with him if he tried.

Week 8: The germs came back! Baby Roo caught his first cold and he was very frustrated with it. He couldn't feed properly for a week and he was up hourly at night trying to eat. I got exhausted of it all pretty quickly and ended up with a very high fever for three days and night, plus a horrid cold and cough. I didn't remember feeling that hot and shivery since being a child and the daily limit of 8 paracetamols that a breastfeeding mother can take did not even scratch the surface. Miss G caught the high fever from me and was home from school for a whole 3 days which were utter hell as I wasn't well whilst she would be bouncing on the wall after each dose of medication. 

Week 9: Everyone is back to health, but our nanny is going away for a couple of months and it downs on me that life is about to get a lot harder without nanny M who has been helping me with the kids a couple of afternoons a week. Rather than dwell in my misery I have decided to join a new gym so that I can get back to swimming whilst Miss G is in school and Baby Roo is at the gym creche. Fingers crossed this plan will work as I need at least one or two hours a day when I don't have a baby or/and a child with me. And with this very realisation I think that I am finally out of the baby daze and committed to find a space to be just me, not pregnant me nor mother-of-a-newborn me. Just me, undefined by my kids. Wish me luck.

Friday, 13 February 2015

Welcome Baby Roo - Part Two - Meeting His Sister

Less than 24 hours since he was born, Baby Roo took his first black cab and headed off home to meet his big sister. She was incredibly excited. The moment we arrived home, she went to wash her hands and screamed "I want to stroke him and hug him, mamma!". She was terribly sweet and he was very mellow and so their friendship began.

That very same afternoon, Miss G helped with nappy change and insisted on pushing Roo's pushchair when we took a quick stroll around the block.

On January 3rd I woke up at home for the first time since the baby's arrival and within minutes of opening my eyes Baby Roo and Miss G joined Mr H and I in bed. Four of us in bed on a lazy Saturday morning, this is what happiness is all about and hopefully I will enjoy this sort of mornings for years to come. Shortly afterwards I witnessed Miss G read a story to Baby Roo and my heart melted. Perhaps it was the tiredness or the lack of sleep or the baby hormones, but I confess that I might have even shed a tear. Or two.

She wants to kiss him before she leaves for school and as soon as she comes back. She can't wait for him to move into her room, her bed even, if she had a choice.

Despite all her kisses and her sometimes suffocating cuddles, he just stares at her, fascinated, in awe. I never thought that babies did or understood much, but it is undeniable that he knows who she is. For Miss G, and for her only, he turns his head around. If we are on the floor and she moves from his left to right, he moves his head to find her. It's the start of a truly fascinating bond and now I understand why they say that a sibling is the best gift you can give a child. I can now see what people mean by that and I feel incredibly lucky to have two children. Incredibly lucky.

When Baby Roo is going to be older, I will tell him the tales of how his sister gave him his first 'top and tail' and his first bath and she did it with such love and tenderness that we were all amazed by it. Not a hint of jealousy as the fuss was all on her little brother. I am proud of my big girl and how understanding she is.

And when he was all clean she rolled around with him in bed to his utter awe as usual. And his gaze never leaves her when she is around. And she doesn't miss an opportunity to pull funny faces at me when I try to capture these moments...she is 4 after all!

Aged 5 weeks, Baby Roo had his third bottle - the only one during the day - as I was out for a friend's party and Mr H was looking after the kids. And yes, you guessed it, Miss G did not let Mr H feed her little brother as she wanted to do it, of course.

And just look how metrosexual Baby Roo is in his pink cashmere jumper, yet another 'advantage' oh having a big sister ;)

Friday, 16 January 2015

Welcome Baby Roo - Part One

At last Baby Roo joined our family and the little man is two whole weeks today. It has been a whirlwind of emotions and events and finally here I am to pen it down so I won't forget these eventful days in years to come. 

It might be a long post so feel free to leave or grab a cup of coffee and stick around for a peek in our lives. Here are the details of how the H household has gone from 3 to 4.

Baby Roo versus Father Christmas 
Baby Roo was in a race with Santa all along. His due date was December 28th and Miss G was convinced that he'd beat Father Christmas. My heavily pregnant self was hoping for an early arrival. The school run at 39 week pregnant was not fun. My logistic-obsessed self was hoping to avoid the 25th as, let's face it, it's a bit of a downer for a big sister if mummy is not around on Christmas day and it's a bit of a crap birthday for the little boy too. 

If I was honest to myself I knew, however, that Baby Roo was going to be late. His sister was nearly 2 weeks late. I was born way past my due date and, let's face it, this family is never on time, let alone early! We are not built that way.

Baby Roo - The Position Drama
Since about the 16th week of my pregnancy, Baby Roo had been firmly anchored on my right hand side. He was a very active baby, but it was as if the left side of my belly was not of interest. Worryingly, just like his big sister, Baby Roo was back to back throughout the whole pregnancy. This caused concern as Miss G suffered badly from a back to back birth and I was very keen to avoid another cry baby as a result of a back to back delivery. My GP was also concerned about his position but luckily at the 40 weeks check up he had slightly shifted, which gave us all a bit of hope.

Baby Roo - The Waiting Game
Just like with my last pregnancy, I hated every single text and email asking me about news of the baby. 'No, he's not here yet, can you please fuck right off? Don't you think that my heavily pregnant self is much keener than you to get this watermelon out of my body to meet my son?' 

With no family around and an older sibling to look after once labour happened, the waiting game was also a logistical headache. I had local friends on stand-by and our nanny as my main carer for Miss G whilst I would be in hospital, but every night I was basically hoping that my son would arrive at sociable hours. Miss G was a relative fast labour for a first child (12 hours) and I was dreading a too-fast labour for Baby Roo when my neighbour had her home-birthed second child in 2 hours. 2 hours! 

Baby Roo - The Coolest Birthday
Here comes December 31st and, half asleep watching the fireworks on TV, I realised that my baby was waiting for 2015 to be born. I went to bed shortly after midnight. After a good night sleep, my waters broke at 8am on New Years Day. I knew then that my baby had waited for January 1st, which as birthdays go it is a pretty cool date. He'll be sure to be partying at the start of his birthday for years to come. And to possibly be waking up hangover for some of those years too. Cheers, Baby Roo!

Baby Roo - The Birth Story
When my waters broke at 8am I decided to run in the shower knowing that labour might start soon. I know, I'm weird like that, but cleanliness is next to godliness in my book. By 9:30 I was in early labour and I called the hospital. Luckily they asked me to go in to be checked as I don't think I could have laboured comfortably in front of my worried 4 year old daughter. After waking up Miss G's Godmother and my nanny (oops), I packed a few things and waited for them to arrive and then left for the hospital with Mr H.

The taxi ride to UCL Hospital at 10:15 on New Year's Day morning was eerily quiet and beautifully sunny. A good omen, I hoped. It turns out I was right. Someone up there was looking out for me and my baby.

Once in hospital things went a bit downhill when they realised that there was meconium in my waters and my Birthing Centre plan was soon out of the question. This startled me mentally. I wanted my baby out. I wanted him safe. Now. I was not relaxed as I was for Miss G's birth, I was instead scared that something could be wrong with him.

The Labour Ward was not where I had hoped to give birth and I hated every minute of those bands that they put across your belly to monitor the baby. I did not feel free to move and do as I pleased, but of course I wanted my son to be monitored. It felt as I was not in control of my birth already. 

My midwife Constance was great though. She was very warm and made me comfortable with the change of my birth plan. After a short while, she had to leave me to supervise the ward and here comes my new midwife...Julio Cesar! A bold Spanish man with a thick accent. I was not sure about him at first, but he reassured me that he had just came from the Birthing Centre and he was going to give me the birth I wanted as far as it was safe for my baby. Not entirely true.

It didn't take long for me to go into established labour and the contractions started to come thick and fast and painful! Julio encouraged me to take Gas and Air 'because it only stays in your body for 20 seconds and would take the edge of the pain out'. I agreed and with a few puffs I was hooked to the pain relief. Nothing wrong in this per se, but I was originally keen to have a natural birth and deep inside myself I knew that drugs would mess with my mental ability to cope and endure the journey.

Sometimes past midday I thought I was ready to push the baby out, but Julio told me I was only 5 centimetres dilated. He told me it would be another 5 hours of labour at least and soon after came another suggestion for pain relief. He suggested an epidural or diamorphine 'as it will give you a break and make you rest'. Knowing I didn't want an epidural, I said yes to diamorphine when he reassured me that it would only stay in my system and for 4 hours or so. What I should have done instead of taking the drug, was listening to my body as I knew it wasn't going to take 4 or 5 hours for my baby to arrive. It has happened now, I'm at peace with it, but it's only now that I realise that diamorphine is actual medical heroin! Freaking heroin! 

At this point my active birth became a lying-in-bed-tripping birth. I was stoned and relaxed but also a bit anxious as I didn't feel in control anymore. Within an hour I felt ready to push again and, to Julio's surprise I was 9 cms dilated. An hour into my 4 hours on diamorphine. I panicked about my baby having the drug in its system and affecting his breathing and wellbeing. Constance, my first midwife, came in the room and I literally begged her to stay. Begged, implored, cried for her to stay. And she did.

Baby Roo was born at 14:43 with both Julio and Costance at my side. And Mr H, of course. 

Baby Roo - The Miracle Baby
When Roo was born, I saw the face of the midwife turn white and I knew something was wrong. Very wrong. I knew that he had managed to turn himself and he was not back to back like his sister so I thought that the diamorphine or the meconium had made him really ill. Constance kept her cool and calmly told me that he had a knot on his umbilical cord, but that he seemed well. The baby doctor came in swiftly and soon confirmed that all was OK with my giant 4.25 kg baby (9.36 pounds!). 

The rush of happiness made the heroin diamorphine wear off and I held him, cuddled him, tried to feed him and kissed him. I then showered and asked to be allowed to go home, but because of the meconium in my waters I was told that this would have not been possible.

Once all was calm and my big baby was in my arms, Julio explained that the knot in his umbilical cord was very tight and would have been there for weeks. He then calmly said that we were very lucky that such a big and overdue baby had no consequence from that knot. We then learned that a true knot in the cord is often the reason for a stillborn child towards the last few weeks of pregnancy. The fact that Baby Roo came later than his due date made it even more of a miracle. It has taken me two weeks of him being in the world to finally truly process this information. 

Baby Roo - a few hours old

I love you Baby Roo. 
You have already defeated the odds, 
may the good fortune stay with you forever.


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