Thursday, 27 March 2014

Got a little bit tongue-tied?

Well hello again!

Two posts in one week? You can tell that the little man is in bed and that Mr P is away!

Following on from my post yesterday, I've been meaning to write a post about tongue tie in babies and share our experience with Master P as it is something that we really struggled with, and something that we felt we didn't get a lot of support with. I am hoping that new parents find my honest and reflective post useful.

Tongue-tie, what is it? 
Tongue-tie is a problem that occurs in babies who have a tight piece of skin between the underside of their tongue and the floor of their mouth. Tongue-tie is a birth defect that affects 3-10% of newborn babies. It is more common in boys than girls. The medical name for tongue-tie is ankyloglossia, and the piece of skin joining the tongue to the base of the mouth is called the lingual frenulum.

Normally, the tongue is loosely attached to the base of the mouth with a piece of skin called the lingual frenulum. In babies with tongue-tie, this piece of skin is unusually short and tight, restricting the tongue’s movement. This prevents the baby from feeding properly and also causes problems for the mother.

To breastfeed successfully, the baby needs to latch on to both breast tissue and nipple, and the baby's tongue needs to cover the lower gum so the nipple is protected from damage. Babies with tongue-tie are not able to open their mouths wide enough to latch on to their mother's breast properly.

They tend to slide off the breast and chomp on the nipple with their gums. This is very painful and the mother's nipples can become sore, with ulcers and bleeding. Some babies feed poorly and get tired, but they soon become hungry and want to feed again. In most cases, these feeding difficulties mean the baby fails to gain much weight.

For more information, check out the NHS website.

Our story
To set the scene, Master P was born three weeks early as I was diagnosed with preeclampsia. Luckily,  I was able to have a natural birth. With the birth plan rapidly going out of the window, I was hoping that after delivery, our new arrival would be placed of my chest to breastfeed, allow the cord to finish pulsating and to deliver the placenta naturally. This went out the window as well. No sooner as our new arrival had been delivered, he was quickly taken from me and given to daddy as I suffered a substantial postpartum hemorrhage. 

It wasn't until a good few hours after he was born that Master P was returned to me to try to establish breastfeeding. During my pregnancy I was adamant that I wanted to breastfeed for as long as possible and had no worries about feeding in public. That's what my boobs were for, a source of nourishment for our baby. Plus you cannot avoid the constant bombardment of, 'you are going to breastfeed aren't you, breast is best!'... yes I know that! 

The first few days we couldn't get Master P to latch on. I had more midwives manually 'milk' me than I can remember, collecting precious drops of colostrum via a pipette to give to our new baby. 

We finally got Master P to latch on, but his weight had dropped substantially so we had to stay in hospital to allow him to regain weight, deal with his jaundice and allow me to have a blood transfusion. Due to his weight loss, we were advised to 'combination' feed him so we had to top him up with some formula after each feed. The midwives were happy with his latch by the end of the week after watching him feed. But I was still waiting for my milk to come in and I suffered with terrible cracked nipples. 

After a week in hospital, we were allowed home. I was suffering with anaemia which took me a good 6 weeks before I even remotely started to feel human again, and I was still combination feeding Master P. Each feed was taking an hour and a half as I was breastfeeding from both sides and then having to top Master P up with formula as he never seem satisfied with breastfeeding. I just got on with it and accepted it. 

The community midwives and health visitors were happy with viewing Master P's latch when they came to see me, yet I just didn't feel right. Something wasn't right. Call it maternal instinct, I don't know? I expressed my concern to the health visitor that I wasn't convinced that my milk had come in. I was told 'not to be silly dear, all women have milk and you can feed your baby'. Yet Master P would fuss at the boob, latch on, latch off, suck hard, fall asleep, get frustrated, cry and scream at me. 

Now, I don't have the biggest boobs in the world (as my dear father would say, more than a handful is a waste), and I had hoped that during pregnancy I might have grown in that department. They stayed the same. Nothing changed. Even after childbirth. I would hear other new mothers talk about 'the let down', waking with swollen and hard boobs, leaking all over the place, expressing and filling up a beaker with 2-6oz into 10minutes. I had nothing and experienced nothing. Whether this was related to the anaemia, I'll never know. 

Yet the health visitor ensured me that my milk would come in. I tried massage, lactation diets, eating this eating that, hot showers, drinking plenty of fluid, staying calm and relaxed, expressing between feeds to encourage supply. After 20 minutes of expressing, I would end up with 10ml.... I even went on a 'babymoon' with Master P and I hid away in the house for a few days for a nursing vacation! It ended up with both mummy and baby being very unhappy, mummy experiencing painful blanched nipples and both of us in tears. My baby was hungry. 

Whilst this was going on for 5 weeks, I spoke to several breastfeeding consultants over the phone, the midwives at the hospital and the health visitors, who all advised me to keep going and that everything was normal. Yet deep down, my instincts were still telling me different. 

I was desperate to breastfeed. I wanted to solely breastfeed Master P, yet we still had to top him up with formula after every feed. I felt like a failure and a prisoner in my own home as each feed was taking forever. 

I couldn't breastfeed my own baby. 

As a mother, that is one of the most awful and gut-wrenching emotion that I have ever felt. I started to dread Master P waking up. I started to resent having to feed him. I didn't feel the maternal bond when he was on my breast. I felt like a bad mother. I felt a failure. 

I was broken by the end of the fifth week. I don't think Mr P could cope with any more tears. We debated if we should go over completely to the bottle, though Master P, even on the bottle, would dribble and have problems feeding. The guilt about going over to the bottle was unbelievable. 

Enough was enough. I called in the cavalry and spoke with our local NCT lactation consultant who invited me to her house that very day to assess the situation. Within 15minutes of being there and watching us breastfeed, she informed me that Master P had posterior tongue-tie. This is why I was having blanched nipples; why my baby wasn't feeding from me. She recommend me to the feeding specialist at the hospital.

So, the next day we saw the feeding specialist who did a raft of tests on Master P and confirmed that he had quite a severe posterior tongue-tie which is why he wasn't feeding and why I had very sore nipples. Basically Master P's tongue was flat and couldn't reach forward to cup the nipple and he would just suck with his mouth.

Sadly, there was no-one at the Great Western Hospital who could perform the simple operation of snipping the frenulum and that the only other person in Wiltshire who was qualified couldn't take any more referrals. We were informed that the Ear, Nose and Throat Department in the hospital might do the procedure, but this was very unlikely as they weren't really familiar with the procedure and the impact on infant feeding. Not all NHS Hospitals offer this procedure. We were advised to go private if we wanted it dealt with and found a suitably qualified lactation consultant who could provide the support and carry out the procedure for us in our own home. We are now proud owners of the most expensive pair of surgical scissors which carried out the procedure...£180.00!

The lactation consultant came out to see us the following week, and carried out the procedure at our home. We were asked lots of questions about the pregnancy, the birth and what had been happening over the past 5 weeks. When it came to the procedure, Master P was swaddled and held by Mr P whilst the consultant did the quick snip on his tongue and Master P was placed straight on my boob as breastmilk is sterile and ideal for healing the cut. It was quick, and relatively painless. Master P was very good and didn't cry. The cut healed very quickly. Over the next few weeks we had to do various tongue exercises with Master P and encourage him to stick his tongue out. Basically, he had to relearn how to suck and latch on. 

The lactation consultant advised us to take Master P to a cranial osteopath as he had a tendency to favour the right side and we also discovered that his jaw was very tight which had an impact on feeding and latching. After a few sessions, Master P was 'realigned' and much happier and more comfortable with feeding.

After the procedure, I tried to carry on breastfeeding, but sadly, the milk wasn't there. We made the decision to go over to the bottle completely which for me, was a very hard decision. But at the end of the day, we needed a happy baby and a happy mummy. And now we have that, and I enjoy feeding Master P.  

Hindsight is a wonderful thing. If I knew what I knew now and could go back, I could have prevented a lot of stress, tears, and frustration. I wanted to share my experience with you as whilst I was going through this living nightmare in the first few precious months or our newborns life, I couldn't find much information on the internet of other peoples experiences. 

I asked for advice and help on some of the parenting websites and forums who all shunned me for combination feeding and even considering moving to the bottle completely. I felt unwelcome at my local breastfeeding group for having to combination feed as the bottle was 'sinful' and 'unnatural'. I was informed at the hospital that Master P didn't have tongue-tie. How was that missed? 

Last month, a very interesting article regarding tongue-tie, its recognition and support for parents was published on the BBC News website, after being raised as a significant issue by the NCT. 

And funnily enough, the more new mothers I speak to, the more stories of similar experiences I am uncovering. There seems to be a lot of us out there suffering in silence, and we shouldn't be. I do think that there is a gaping hole in the information given to parents at feeding workshops regarding problems that you could experience with feeding. 

Even though I still have a deep guilt embedded in me for having to bottle feed our son, and admire those women out there who are breastfeeding, we should never judge those who are bottle feeding babies as we do not know their circumstances. Clearly, breast is best where possible, but sadly it isn't always possible for every mother to do so. 

Go with your maternal instincts if you feel that something isn't right when it comes to feeding. Seek help and actually see in person, a lactation consultant. You should have someone in your area who can come and see you, either NCT or Le Leche League, and they don't charge. 

Stay strong. You are never alone. 

xxxx



Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Reflecting

Hi Peeps,

Can you believe that Master P is now 6 1/2 months old? Seriously, how'd that happen? He has grown so much (stupid comment really as that is what babies do!), and we really are amazed at the rate of development in the little guy.

I've been thinking about my much neglected blog, my neglected kitchen, and my neglected crafting of late which has really inspired me to try to make some time to start making and doing things again, and clearly writing blog posts! I had so many visions about writing posts about motherhood, our experiences, weaning recipes and how to make cute baby items before Master P arrived. What a fool was I to imagine that I would have (spare) time on my hands!

So, I am taking some time to reflect on our journey over the past 6 months. And boy, what a journey it has been.

I remember saying to Mr P prior to the immanent arrival that I felt ready as a women and as a wife to  enter motherhood and stay at home for the first year of our child's life. I was ready to be the good mother, the good wife and look after the two special people in my life. I clearly had too many visions of "the good life". No matter how many classes you attend, books and websites you read, conversations that you have with other mums and mums-to-be, nothing, and I mean nothing can actually prepare you for the real thing. Mr P and I had spent the past 12 years together in ignorant bliss, selfishly doing what we wanted when we wanted. Oh, how that has changed!

Whilst I was pregnant we'd have conversations with other parents-to-be on how we were all going to raise our babies and what we were and weren't going to do.
- We were adamant that we weren't going to use dummies. That lasted 8 weeks after a very fretful night with an inconsolable and over stimulated baby; 6 months in, and he doesn't use them anymore. At the time, it was a god-send and served a purpose.
- I was adamant that I wanted to breastfeed as long as possible. However, both baby and I had various  difficulties and in the end we ended up having to bottle feed after a very long and stressful 8 weeks. I was guilt ridden and still feel pangs of guilt now, but at least I now have a happy and healthy baby.
- We were going to set a routine from the early days... that went out the window within the first few weeks and after we let this "idea" go, Master P set his own routine and you can gauge your watch by him. We had to relax and go with the flow. The only structure that we installed is bath and bedtime which works for everyone.

As first time parents, "naive" and "steep learning curve" come to mind!

But when it comes to it, and I am talking childbirth here...as a women you don't really have time to adjust once you have given birth. There is your baby: get on with it.  Ok, where's the manual? Oh, there isn't one? Shit! And just as you and your body is recovering from childbirth (which does need and take time to heal both mentally and physically) you somehow hope that the maternal switch has automatically been switched to the 'on' position.

You envisage that life carries on in its own merry way with the addition of your perfect bundle. Then the worries and insecurities set in... am I feeding my baby correctly; is the latch ok; is the baby getting enough milk; what do I do if the baby cries when I'm out; what do I do if the baby does a massive poo which leaks everywhere whilst I am out; what if I get criticised for bottle feeding; what if I get criticised for breastfeeding in public (I've seen it happen - sob); why won't my baby sleep; why is my baby sleeping all the time; should I swaddle or not; will I ever get my body back; will we ever have sex again?... the list goes on.

It took me 6 weeks to be able to leave the house on my own. It didn't help that I had been poorly after the arrival. I had previously thought that I would be swanning down the road with my newborn in the pram within the first week, soaking up the late summer sun. How wrong was I? I was sent into a blind panic the first time I had to go out with just me and the little one. My security net of Mr P wasn't there to hold my hand. I only had to walk 1/4 mile up the road to the doctors surgery! Now, I don't think twice about going out and can do the fastest turn around with the carseat/nappy bag prep going!

However, I really don't think I would have remained as sane as I have if I hadn't had made such good friends with my girls from the antenatal yoga class and NCT class, and literally forcing myself out of the house post-baby to go to playgroup and eventually mums fitness classes. It is only by attending these classes, baring souls and sharing experiences with other new mums that has actually allowed us to feel 'normal' and also what are babies are doing is 'normal'!

Though there is something strange about being pregnant and becoming a mum. As soon as we found out that I was expecting, I suddenly started noticing lots of pregnant women.... I thought the whole world was pregnant with me! And as soon as you become a mum, you suddenly start noticing more and more buggies, babies, toddlers and pregnant women.....and sometimes you just feel like you are another statistic and another bedraggled mum pushing a pram. At the end of the day, you are the most important person in your baby's life and you are doing a great job!

Now that we are at the end of the first 6 months, some mums that I know have returned back to work (weeps) and the rest of us are gearing up to go back in the forthcoming months. I have 5 1/2 months before I return to work and it is the furthest thing from my mind at the moment. As much as I love my job, I actually long to stay at home for the first 2-3 years to look after our son...but reality hits, like the bills, the mortgage, the reducing Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) each month. I sometimes wonder if the government has got it wrong and that they should encourage and support mothers who want to stay home for those first precious and important years where we nurture and develop our babies into little people rather than hand them over into childcare. But then on the other hand, I know many who are itching to get back to work. The whole SMP / Return to Work scenario is a can of worms in itself and not a debate I have the energy for at the moment.

But no matter what parenthood throws at you, you work through the ups and downs. It is hard, yet very rewarding and even to this day we still marvel over the little boy that we 'made with love' asleep in his cot each night. I still can't believe that I am a mother; that Mr P is a father and that we are a family.

You quickly learn and distinguish between the different cries that your baby makes. You relish those precious moments when they are snuggled up on your chest, fast asleep. You get better and faster at changing nappies. You become the queen of multi-tasking and manage to function on less sleep than you had when you were at university!

So, my top ten tips for new mums would be:
1. People say, "when baby sleeps, mum sleeps". Seriously. DO IT! And don't nap on the sofa watching trash TV. Going to sleep in the bed is much better for you.
2. Let other people help you with chores and cooking. Stop being so damn house proud!
3. Find out where your local playgroups are and go. You may need to attend a few before you find the right one that is for you, but being around other new mums and support workers is invaluable to keeping you sane.
4. Ensure that you communicate how you are feeling with your partner if you are struggling. Raising a child is a joint responsibility.
5. If you are experiencing problems with breastfeeding, seek advice from the wealth of breastfeeding support that is out there.
6. Eat healthily and drink plenty of water. You need to look after yourself. Try not to get hung up about your body image. You've just been through childbirth - give yourself a break! You look fab!
7. If you are struggling with a crying baby, take a break. Pass them to someone else if you can or if you are alone, put them somewhere safe like their cot and take 5-10minutes. It's ok to cry, you aren't a failure. Scream into a pillow if you need to let off steam; grab a cup of tea and sit quietly in the garden; do some deep and relaxing breathing. Call a friend and talk.
8. Add some structure to your week and try to make sure that you do one thing a day, even if it is just going out for a walk. Being home alone with a baby all day is exhausting.
9. Take time out for yourself. Have your hair cut, go for a coffee, get a pedicure. And don't feel guilty for taking time out. It's hard work being a mum.
10. Never be afraid to ask for help.

So, what lies in the next 6 months ahead of us? We're just getting into weening and teething and moving and grabbing and babbling! Just when you get used to it, it all changes.... watch this space!


Would I do it again? Hell yeah... let me just get over the first one!!!!




Wednesday, 8 January 2014

I'm still here!

Well hello people!

First of all, Happy New Year to you all!

You are probably wondering what's happened to me since I haven't posted since the end of August 2013! Ooops! Well, my hands have been slightly full....

As you know, we were expecting our first child at the end of September 2013 and I was just about to start maternity leave at the end of August with the intention of writing lots of wonderful blog posts of all the craft stuff I was making for the nursery prior to the bumps arrival....

It didn't work out like that I am afraid!

After my first week into maternity leave and being busy nesting, cleaning and filling the freezer with pre-cooked dinners, the bump decided make an early arrival!

Mr P and I are delighted to inform you that we welcomed a healthy little boy to the world on the 10th September 2013, three weeks early! Unfortunately I was diagnosed with pre-eclampsia so there wasn't much option! Master P was delivered naturally but then poor mummy suffered a postpartum hemorrhage so we had to stay in hospital for a week before we were allowed home.

It's been 16 weeks now and Master P is growing away nicely and I'm fully recovered. We have a great routine and I am now starting to get a little bit of time back into my life to hopefully finish those unfinished nursery projects  (not that Master P would have noticed!) and start those ones that have been swishing around in my head whilst up feeding at 4am!

Master P is a real delight and we are very proud of him. His arrival has totally changed our outlook on life. It's amazing what an effect such a little person can have on you! Each day we see changes in our little boy, both mentally and physically. He's such a happy little chap, babbling and laughing all the time!

Whilst we cherish the newborn days dearly, I am so excited about his development and teaching him to cook, learning about food, getting messy with craft projects, grubbing around in the garden, learning to ride a bike and so forth. Each second of his life is so precious!

So, hopefully I will be able to get blogging again this year and get back to baking and sewing under the watchful and curious eyes of Master P!

With lots of hugs,

Nic xoxoxo




Sunday, 25 August 2013

Bank Holiday Sewing

Hello peeps,

Everyone having a good bank holiday?

We're having a lazy day today. We woke up to rain and decided to stay in our comfys and chill.

I had ordered some micro terry towelling fleece to make some dribble bib bandanas for the new arrival... Only 5 weeks to go now! 

There are loads of free templates on the internet and I adapted one that I came across.

The bibs are easy to make and I've used Prym no-sew popper clasps instead of Velcro. They are really easy to attach and gives a more professional finish.

The towelling cost £10 for a metre and the fabric is from my stash... So each bib cost less than £1.50 to make! 

Good ole Ted has been roped in for some modelling....




Ted also modelled my latest finished knitting project.... I still need to pick up some buttons to finish it off! 



Enjoy the rest of the weekend!!!

Nic and bump xx

Monday, 24 June 2013

The Wedding Cake

Howdy folks,

Sorry I've been a bit quiet of late. I had been busy working on a wedding cake for clients, Kate and Matt, who got married last month. Congratulations!

I was delighted to make their wedding cake for them and they have kindly allowed me to share some photos of the final masterpiece!

So, what did the bride want? Well, all can be revealed now.... Kate requested a three tier wedding cake which was made up of a 12" Chocolate Sponge, a 9" Lemon Sponge with homemade lemon curd and a 6" plain sponge with strawberry jam and buttercream! Lovely combinations!

At our initial meeting Kate came prepared and had photos of what design she wanted. After her consultation she eventually went for simple white fondant icing with floral decorations to match her flowers. I made sugar roses and lilies with ivy leaves and we matched the ribbon to the bridesmaid dresses. It was such a simple yet elegant design.

It took me 6 weeks to make all of the flowers, and to also make spares as I know how delicate sugar flowers are (and how clumsy I can be sometimes - blame the pregnancy!). I was delighted with the outcome as I know how am I so uber critical of my own work. The sponge cakes were made two days before the wedding to allow for icing and assembly.

My primary concern was getting the cake to the venue. It is amazing how heavy three sponge cakes with icing and cake boards can be! Luckily, Mr P drove to the venue with me and precious cargo sitting in the back of the car. He was kind enough to carry the cake in, but he was rather scared of dropping it!

So, here are some photos of the cake and the flowers for you to look at. The cake was very well received and Kate very kindly send me a beautiful photo of her and her new husband cutting the cake on their big day!

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Thank you, Kate and Matt, for allowing me to make your wedding cake!

Cheerio,

Nic xoxoxo