Friday, December 18, 2009

apologies! update:

First, I'd like to apologise for neglecting you all! I'm in awe if all you bloggers still managing to regularly post in the run up to Christmas, I'm finding it impossible! December is sort of busy for us at the best of times (both mine and Boy's birthdays, plus HID and my anniversary) then throw into the mix two under twos, one of which is attached to the breast 90% of the time, and then a scary hospital stay with said littlest one, it's been blogland to the back burner! I've only just got the Christmas decorations up, latest ever I think. Thank you to everyone who sent get well wishes to Missis, she is doing fairly well, still coughing, it's a slow thing.

Avid readers may be aware that Missis is exceptionally tiny, I'm well used to strangers asking me if she was premature when they find out her age, and looking bemused when they discover she was average weight at birth. Well, I had her weighed just before she fell ill (well, she had her mild cold at that point) and she was 8lb7, and I was told to return in two weeks, to be on the safe side. I would usually refuse, but she is tiny, and better safe than sorry. But then she got ill, and didn't feed as much. Well, I didn't need the health visitor telling me she'd lost, most babies do during illness, she seemed fine, so I put it off for three weeks to give her a chance to catch up.

I took her this week, and was a little unsettled to find my friendly breastfeeding volunteer not present; she would have been my back up person when the hv's started on their weight/formula before I'd even got Missis undressed, I'm making my excuses: "she had a cold, it was a chest infection, antibiotics, hospital two nights, nebuliser, x-rays, bronchioloitis, she will have lost probably..." on and on I blabbed. Well, the scales told a different story, a story I knew, in reality, to be true, one of a healthy, happy Missis. She had put on a whole pound! She hadn't even wavered off her curve. She's almost four months old now, and many babies weigh more than her 9lb7 when they are born. I decided to get out Boy's little red (childhood development) book and have a look at his weight at that age.

I know I can't make direct comparisons, as in our area, there are new weight charts now, with the curves based on breastfed and not formula fed babies, which works for us. Plus, even brothers and sisters, no matter how alike they seem, are not the same person. At the same age, Boy weighed 13lb4, so a lot heavier, bear in mind he was combine fed from 4 weeks, and exclusively formula fed at 4 months. But looking at the newborn stage, Boy dropped so much weight, he fell through four centiles. Missis only ever fell one. Yes, it took her ages to regain her birthweight, but now she's doing so well. I've been asked to return again in two or three weeks, but I'm not sure if I will. I know what a healthy baby looks like. I don't have a lot of time on my hands now I have two under twos, and it's such a hassle dragging two tots to the health centre. She will grow at her own pace, she's a little dot, but she's perfect.

In other news, I turned 25 a few days ago. I was ready to let it pass by unnoticed. It's not that I mind getting older, I really don't have much opinion on the matter, it's just that I have no interest in birthdays now I have children. People ask me what I want, I only want things for them. And it's so close to Christmas, my head is filled with making their Christmases great. But my mum wanted to do something.

She had a great idea, taking the children to a soft play area! She invited my cousin who has a 6m old, and I invited some friends I'd made via Boy, who both handily have children Boy's age. Mum and I took turns holding a sleeping Missis, and running round playing and having fun with Boy and his little friends. It was a different kind of birthday, but the mother I am today loved it, it was my idea of a fun afternoon. Plus, it snowed! Can't ask for more on your birthday eh?

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Thursday, December 17, 2009


Thursday, December 03, 2009

Sick Child

My twelve week old daughter has had a cold for three weeks. Last week, on Sunday morning, the emergency doctor said she had a chest infection, the antibiotics for which ended a week later. Within 24hrs, her breathing had deteriorated, and while at a lecture with her in a sling on my chest, I was no longer happy and called the emergency doctor again. This was 10pm, and by 11pm I was struggling to keep my voice steady as a friendly red-headed doctor at the local children's ward told me my tiny baby needed an x-ray to rule out pneumonia. HID was at home with Boy, I was all alone, and frightened for her and terrified of my own responsibility.

Her chest concaved under her ribs with every laboured breath. Her paler-than-usual skin was mottled and her eyes were red with huge dark circles. I looked at her and cursed myself for not bringing her sooner. The main reason I started to worry was that she'd stopped fighting. Not crying when she was put down, or during nappy changes, or putting on her coat, it just wasn't like her!

Monday night: I held her and fed her while she endured test after test, finally at 3am, they showed us to a side room, it could be contagious bronchilolitis (not bronchitis, my Boy had it a few times, once at 6m old which warranted an overnight stay in hospital). They put her tiny, wheezing body into a huge metal cot and put up a parents' bed for me. Again, she failed to complain, up til now, the strong willed little lady had only ever slept alone (with no one touching her, i.e. not in a sling or right beside me in bed) for twenty minutes, and never knowingly. For the next three hours, I lept up at every cough, stir and constant beep of her sats monitoring machine which went off every time her heart rate peaked or her oxygen levels dipped. Beep, beep, beep, all night. I comforted her the best way I knew how, I put her to the breast. Oddly, the staff began to record whenever I fed her, and duration or each feed.

The x-ray showed a shadow on her lung, a partial lung collapse. The doctor found a heart murmur too, apparently minor, but horrible to hear. She needed nebulisers every 8hrs, a scary and loud oxygen mask with inhaler-type drugs to widen her airways. I tried to ensure she was deeply sleeping or on the breast, with her big blue eyes wide in surprise at the loud noise next to her ear. It wasn't easy to feed her with a wire attached to her foot, or change her nappy, and I couldn't even walk around the small room swaying her as I would comfort her at home, and putting her in the sling wasn't an option either. I think I needed the sling more than she did. I hated holding her over my arm while she coughed until she was sick.

On Tuesday morning, I congratulated myself for keeping an emergency bag in the boot of my car with a selection of nappies, vests and babygrows, for both babies. I didn't however have such emergency items for myself, so I rang HID and asked him to bring a few things, a breastpump included, as Missis wasn't taking as much as usual and I had a few blocked milk ducts. The last thing I needed was mastitis, and the nurses didn't seem to understand why I needed to express, they were talking about supplementing Missis with the expressed milk. I was more than happy with the way she was feeding, which was almost as normal, pretty good considering she was struggling to breathe, but they still insisted in recording every feed (well, every one they saw, I certainly wasn't wasting my time writing down feeds when I could have been sleeping.)

The hospital's feeding specialist arrived with a breastpump just before HID did and cut to the chase.

"I don't know what people have been telling you, but you just need to breastfeed your daughter. The doctors sometimes get nervous when they can't see how much is going in, but you need to ignore them, you know best."

This woman and I were on the same page. I explained about my mastitis worries, and she showed me how the pump worked, apologising that none of the equipment was sterile, meaning we would have to throw the milk away. I saved it in a sippy cup for Boy, who is old enough not to worry about sterile stuff. The specialist and I laughed at the irony of expressing into a cow&gate glass bottle, since the medela one had gone missing, and joking "it's as bad as eating a nestle chocolate bar!", she really was great.

While she was there, HID arrived with Boy in a sling on his back. I was pretty sure that no visitors other than parents were allowed, the nurses must have missed him up on Daddy's back, but gosh was I glad to see a little ray on sunshine in that dark and sad room. He spent half an hour cheerfully shouting "beeeee!" whenever Missis' heart and oxygen monitor went off, tripping over wires, jumping on my bed, pointing to my elongated nipple in my breast pump, and drawing on the sheets with a rogue crayon in the nappy bag.

Soon after, they left owing to small boys and confined spaces and the things that happen. I busied myself with basic tasks whenever Missis didn't need me, which wasn't often, like eating, or brushing my teeth, or, heartbreakingly, nipping to the loo. This involved leaving her to power walk as fast as possible off the ward to the parent's toilets, weeing at breakneck speed, and then the agonising wait at the intercom while the nurses find time to let you back on to the secure ward, all the while, hoping she wasn't awake, crying, in distress, or god forbid, had taken a turn for the worse in my short-as-possible absence.

That night, bronchiolitis was the confirmed diagnosis, and we were moved out of our private room to a contagious bronchi-ward, with three other sick babies. They were all much older, much sicker, and much louder. But the mums were the loudest. All I wanted to do at 7pm was sleep, but the mums just chatted and chatted. I suppose after 9 days (which is long they had been in) they had become institutionalised to a certain extent, it was like being in university halls. I didn't fit in there either. I was amazed how often their sick and crying babies were scolded and told things like "stop being silly now!" and left in their cots to cry. I hated putting Missis down even for a second, even when she was sleeping or contented. They all watched their individual tv's, and looked at me strangely for not wanting mine on.

It was here I learned from another mum I was receiving free hospital meals because I was breastfeeding, god bless the nhs. That night, I ignored the cot and fed Missis in bed with me and slept with her, having to sit up to feed from my left side as her wires would not stretch that far. The nurses tried to make me put her down, but she was getting better and was having none of it. I was too tired to sit in the chair to feed, I was afraid I'd drop her. But the nurses were convinced her high heart rate was due to bedsharing, even though each time I put her down, it rocketed and her oxygen levels dipped. We both got much more sleep on Tuesday night.

I was convinced we'd be allowed home, the other mums kept talking about their babies being "off oxygen" for however many hours was the key to going home, Missis had never needed any! Sure enough, we were discharged by 3pm with an inhaler.

At 9pm last night, I was re-packing my bag as she seemed to deteriorate, but it was a false alarm, and now her only symptom is a cough that will last a month. The relief is indescribable. And I caught up on my sleep no problem. The worst thing about the whole experience was not having HID with me. He had to care for Boy in my absense. But when Boy was laying in that hospital cot, all those months ago, I had HID by my side to make me strong, and this week I had to find that strength all by myself. I missed him so much.