Friday, 11 March 2011

A Photo for Friday

Proving Sam truly is my rainbow baby

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Open Letter

Dear Baby Wipe Manufacturers,

Can you all please take a little more care over the positioning of the picture of the baby on your packets so that it does not always look as though he or she has a big string of wipes coming out of his/her nose or mouth.

Thank you!



Saturday, 1 January 2011

All My Children

My eldest child was born on a sunny day in March 2007, but I was a mother long before that. I was a mother the first time I saw a faint line appear on a pregnancy test, some three years earlier. I was a mother when my first furbaby won my heart and we took him home to save him from the pile of rabbits and other guinea pigs that were climbing on top of him. I was a mother when I finally saw a baby with a heartbeat on an ultrasound. Just because my first child was born almost 4 years ago, doesn't mean I was not already a mother before she arrived in the world.

I want to talk about all of my children. Not just the three that I carried in my womb for nine months, but the ones who couldn't hold on for long enough, and the ones who may be covered in fur but still are my babiesnone the less.

I have wanted to share the story of each of mychildren for a long time but never found the strength and energy to write about them all. I didn't make any new year's resolutions as such but I did promise myself that in 2011 I would share the story of each and every one. Over the next couple of months, that's what I'm going to do.

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Attack of the Clones

Plenty of siblings look alike. When I look at people's siggies on JustMommies I can often see strong resemblances between their children. I have always known my girls were incredibly similar - they have even been mistaken for twins! But now there's a new face to add to the brood and again the resemblance is so strong. My kids look like clones - I realised just how much when I uploaded my Christmas pics.

These photos were all taken around 2-4 weeks old...

First, Angelica:

And Natasha.....

and finally Sam:

I can't wait to see how many similarities and differences they develop as time goes on!

Sunday, 26 December 2010

I *Heart* Christmas!

One fraught and stressful year almost at an end.

The treatment? One lovely, quiet, perfect family Christmas.

Merry Christmas!!

Sunday, 19 December 2010

When Breast Isn't Best

Since we got home Sam and I have managed to get into a good supplementing routine. After the initial difficulties in hospital he has taken to breastfeeding like a pro and has also taken to bottles to give me a break so I can continue recuperating from the CFS relapse I've suffered over the last year.

Yesterday it was clear he was entering a growth spurt - he was one very hungry young man and spent most of the day on my breast. Later in the day I decided to make him up a bottle so I could have a break as I was feeling drained and set off into the kitchen to do so.

From back in the lounge I heard Sam grumbling and Angelica getting concerned about him.

"He needs to latch on, I think," she advised, like an expert on breastfeeding.

The response from my husband wasn't quite what I was expecting to hear.

"Angelica, only mummy can breastfeed Sam. And pull your jumper down!"

There are some things a big sister just isn't able to help with, no matter how much they might love their siblings.

Friday, 17 December 2010

Sam's Birth Story

This is Sam' birth story, and it is going to be long. I know, maybe unnecessarily so, but I am so upset by some of the things that happened that I just want to get them out so they stop bothering me so much. There may also be an unhealthy amount of information about the state of the hospital cuisine. Hey, I need to raise awareness of this horrible plight!

Warning: This post may contain graphic details and photos - of hospital food. Do not read if you have a weak stomach!

I went for an elective c-section this time. It was not a decision I made lightly. It was a decision I agonised over for a long time. I have M.E./CFS (Chronic fatigue syndrome) and this has affected my previous labours. With my eldest, I went through 24 hours of labour and my muscles stopped working so I couldn't push. I ended up with an emergency C-section. My birth experience was horrible and going through both labour and a major operation left me with a severe relapse that lasted months. I spent much of Angelica's first months stuck in bed and it really affected my bond with her in the early days.

With Natasha I went through over 25 hours of labour. My muscles stopped working again and I could not push. They started prepping me for a c-section but one person on the medical team wanted to try ventouse (suction) first and, amazingly, Natasha was born by suction-assisted VBAC. Because I had only been through labour and not a section as well my health was far better afterwards and I recovered quickly.

During this pregnancy I started to suffer a severe relapse. It actually started before my pregnancy. When I lost Daisy I had complications and lost a lot of blood which triggered the start of the relapse. I then had a couple of really nasty viruses and full-on flu - the flu coincided with finding out I was pregnant with Sam (on April Fool's Day - oh man, never announce your BFP on April fool's day, I spent the whole pregnancy terrified people thought it was some kind of joke.) and I just went downhill from there.

The last couple of months before Sam arrived I was housebound a lot of the time, and when I did go out I couldn't go far. By the end of the pregnancy I couldn't walk some days and I had absolutely no strength in my body. I knew if I went through labour I would not be able to push and would probably end up with a c-section again. The thought of spending Sam's first months bed bound terrified me so I made a reluctant decision to opt for a c-section and hope that just going through the section without labour would make it easier to recuperate afterwards. As soon as I made the decision, utter relief washed over me. I knew that it was the right thing to do, for me and for Sam.

I changed hospitals after I had Angelica. When I had Natasha I went to a different one and had a totally different birth experience. Her birth was so positive and happy, I have not one bad memory of her arrival, despite being hospital phobic. The same hospital was so supportive and sensitive when I lost Daisy and went through subsequent chemical pregnancies. When I fell pregnant with Sam and my GP actually told me to 'come back in 2 weeks if I was still pregnant' (I am still spitting venom about that) I called the hospital and they booked me in for an early scan without hesitation, giving me a second one 2 weeks later for my own piece of mind. They also gave me three extra growth scans although I was too sick to attend them all and put me under a consultant for my medical issues.

Somewhere around September, things began to change. I had a couple of midwife appts that left me feeling... worried. And annoyed. Looking back, this came at around the time some of the key personnel in the antenatal dept changed. The atmosphere and attitude just changed. When I had my last consultant appointment to confirm that I wanted a scheduled c-section the whole attitude was different. At my last appt before that in August the consultant told me that I would be supported with either a VBAC or a c-section because with my medical history there was no clear-cut winner and the decision was up to me.

When I made that decision, the consultant (a different one) put me under pressure to change my mind. She absolutely terrified me, telling me that a repeat section was far more traumatic than a first caesarean and even using the line, "Imagine how selfish you will feel when you go home and you have a jealous toddler who wants to be cuddled and you can't even pick her up?" (I'd like to point out that picking up my girls for a cuddle was about the first thing I did when I got home).

I was in tears over the way she spoke. She tried to insinuate I was 'scared of labour' and that I was only asking for a section because I'd had previous bad experiences. When she finally agreed to book me for a section she admitted they'd had a meeting the day before where they'd been told they needed to cut the number of elective c-sections.

After that appt I awaited info from the hospital with times and information about my c-section but it never came. I eventually called the hospital and apparently there had been an oversight and my info hadn't been sent. I was supposed to have had an appointment the week before the booked section for bloods and to be given some tablets to take on the day of the section but I'd received no info at all, so I was told I'd have to go in early on the day of my section to receive the meds and have the blood tests. Great - so I'd get to hang around for hours in hospital before I even got anywhere near the section - goody!

On the morning of Tuesday 7th I awoke knowing Sam was going to be in my arms by the end of the day. If you have never had an elective c-section I can tell you it was a VERY weird feeling indeed. We'd had a heavy snowfall the week before and it was still causing chaos on the roads.

I was heading to my section alone. We had no one to look after the girls so my DH could not be with me. I had always known that was likely to be the case and was prepared for that but saying goodbye that morning was horrible and I left home in floods of tears. Yeah, floods of tears became a theme over the next few days :rolleyes: The cold winter air almost froze them as they fell on the way to the taxi rank outside the station. I had to queue because there were no taxis that morning and by the time I got to the front of the queue I was horrified to see the most annoying taxi driver that often took me to work was the one I would have to put up with for a 40 minute journey to hospital!

scratch that... a 40 minute journey turned into an hour and a half journey as the traffic got worse and worse. I tried to block out the annoying comments from the driver who wouldn't get the hint when I asked him to let me have some time in peace to prepare for the day ahead and insisted in engaging me in conversation about how deeply a traffic cone was covered in snow instead.

When I finally got to the hospital I could hardly walk and took a long time to get to the delivery suite. Eventually I went to the reception area and apologised profusely for being so late. I was led to a dull room with a TV, had a ton of blood taken and was left on my own for hours.

It wasn't nice. I watched some total crud on TV while I was waiting. I could have just done with a check-in to see if I was OK every now and then. I hadn't been allowed anything to eat or drink since midnight so by lunchtime I was very dehydrated, couldn't sit up and had a killer headache. The anaesthetist came by sometime in the early afternoon and asked me a bunch of questions I couldn't seem to answer.

Then the surgeon came round and it was hate at first sight :angry: I'm sorry but he was one of those really smarmy people who believed he truly was some kind of deity! He asked me how I was feeling so I said I was nervous. When you're on the verge of an operation that's got to be normal, right? Not according to the surgeon - he gave me a smug smile, asked why I was nervous and then told me I had no right to be nervous because he was 'the top man' (yeah, his words, not mine) and had performed some three thousand c-sections and 'hadn't lost a patient yet' :angry: Yeah, that's going to set my mind at ease!

I was eventually led by a midwife to the operating theatre and sat on the table where they started to prepare me for the spinal and epidural. I didn't quite understand what they were talking about but they put 2 lines in because one would last longer than the other? I'm not an expert in anaesthesia, unfortunately! They kept trying to put me into a position I was having real trouble holding and telling me to keep my chin pressed against my chest when suddenly they all lined up in front of me because of some new initiative from the world health authority that meant everyone present had to introduce themselves to me. I felt like a complete numbskull, repeatedly shaking the hand of someone whose shoes were the only part I could see.

There were a couple of other people in the medical team - an aged surgeon who reminded me of Santa Claus without the beard, and a second - and attractive - female anaesthetist who at least served as a distraction ;)

Once the line was in they laid me on the table and kept spraying me with spray to ask if it felt cold and poking me with something sharp to ask if I could feel it. I was alarmed that when I said I could still feel them they fluffed over it, saying "Oh, it'll start working soon, it'll be OK."

The radio was on in the room and I was excited to know what song would be playing as Sam was born. When Natasha was born, the song 'Waiting for a Girl like You' by Foreigner was playing and I have never, ever forgotten that magic moment. I cry every time I hear that song. I couldn't wait to find out what Sam’s special song would be. As it turned out, the section was more complicated than expected so I had a while to wait, but while they were preparing the song 'I Got A Feeling' by Black Eyed Peas came on the radio. I'm not a fan of the Black Eyed Peas really, it's not my kind of music, but this particular song had a special meaning to me as I linked it with an early loss I had last December. I had not actually heard the song all the way through from the day I lost the pregnancy until the day I delivered Sam. The coincidence made me cry again, I couldn't help it.

One of the medical team said, "Things are going to start moving quickly now," and he wasn't kidding. The screen was put up so I couldn't see what was happening and the next thing I knew they were beginning the c-section. The aged surgeon seemed to be taking very little part in proceedings, instead he sat behind me marvelling about how he and I were the only people he knew who had 2 middle names and how unusual that was, while I tried hard to listen to what was going on around the other end of the table.

I can't remember the order of how things happened but I remember I started to feel pain and I said it was hurting. They kept telling me I must mean that I felt 'pressure' but I didn't, the spinal hadn't taken properly on one side (but the epi didn't work fully with Natasha either). Then they started basically jumping up and down, pressing on my rib cage. By this point I was pretty scared, I had no idea what was going on and they weren't telling me. Because the spinal didn't travel that high my ribs were really painful as they continued to push and jump, I had no idea what was going on and I kept shouting in pain and then apologising because I felt bad for doing so.

Blood splattered all over the sheet in front of me, yeah - lovely memory. Things seemed to be getting frantic and I heard someone say forceps. I was so confused, I'd never heard of using forceps for a c-section before and I had no idea what was going on.

Suddenly someone said he was out and someone brought him over to my side of the sheet for a split second to see him before whisking him away. He was blue and wasn't breathing. I was absolutely terrified now and tried desperately to hear what was going on because no one was telling me much, but all I could hear was that Sam's arrival music had been 'I Kissed A Girl' by Katie Perry. Not quite as sentimental as Natasha's...

Then I heard him cry, and the sound was the most beautiful thing I had ever heard. By the time they brought him to me there were tears just streaming down my face. They said I could hold him for a moment before they weighed him and really I don't remember much apart from feeling him in my arms and seeing his little face crying non-stop. The song on the radio changed to Easy Like Sunday Morning and I hugged him and held him and just never wanted to let go.

Various people on the medical team were estimating his weight to be around 9lb from his size, but when they took him to weigh him he was a respectable 8lb 1oz. He was cleaned up and brought back to me to hold while they started to stitch me up but the feeling had returned bigtime and I kept shouting and telling them I was feeling what they were doing until finally someone topped up the meds.

Sam did not stop crying and screaming in distress. He didn't stop for the next 2 days, in fact. I had been looking forward to his first feed but when they tried to get him to latch on he became extremely distressed. He hated skin to skin, too. He cried louder and louder and no one was helping me to try to get him to latch properly or calm him down. They wheeled me to recovery and left me for more than an hour with Sam screaming at the top of his lungs. I couldn't calm him down at all and I was starting to get as distressed as he was. There was a clock in my field of vision so I know how long I was there for and it was well over an hour.

Eventually a midwife came in. I said he hadn't stopped screaming and he was too upset to latch on. I asked her to help me; to either get some colostrum flowing for him to taste and smell or to help me change position, but the first words out of her mouth were,

"What formula do you want him to have?"

I thought I'd misheard. I didn't understand. I asked her what she meant and she said she needed to give him formula if he wasn't feeding. I told her I needed help to GET him to feed, I couldn't move so I couldn't try a different position and I couldn't manage to hand-express. She just asked me again about formula. I am so angry about this - don't get me wrong, I am in no way anti-formula - my eldest never really took to breastfeeding so after a week or so she was a formula baby and is the healthiest person I know. Natasha was a BF natural and BF regularly until she was 2, and occasionally since, but I still supplemented with formula because it gave me a rest, which was important with my CFS.

But that is the issue, right there - *I* chose when and where to start supplementing, and not until my supply had been established.

I asked why she needed to give him formula, if it was a medical reason, maybe blood sugar levels? All she said was,

"Well he doesn't want your breast, he'll have to feed some other way."

She picked him up and took him away. No, I did not give permission. I should have fought but I was exhausted, I couldn't move and I kept trying to tell myself they knew best. I couldn't see my baby boy but I could hear him choking as she fed him. I just wanted to scream - what happened to that wonderful, supportive hospital I had Natasha at just over 2 years ago?

She brought him back and he was screaming again. She laid him next to me, did nothing to help soothe him and disappeared for another hour. He screamed non-stop, no matter what I did. When she came back she picked him up and started repeating over and over, "Aw, he doesn't want mummy. Doesn't want mummy! Why you don't want mummy?" He stopped crying as she walked with him and she started boasting about how he liked her better. I was in a mess, I started crying and asked her to stop saying that because even if she meant it as a joke it was hurtful. She just laughed and kept saying, "He wants me, he doesn't want mummy!"

She took him out of my sight, without my permission, and went to show him to the other midwives, telling them that he didn't want mummy and wanted to stay with her. The other midwives were all laughing and saying "You'll have to give him back some time!"

She brought him back eventually and I asked her to pass me my bag so I could get my phone and tell Steve that Sam was here safely. I asked if it was possible for someone to take a photo of me with Sam as I'd had no one with me to take one and she just said, "Why would you want a picture of him screaming at you?"

I'd lost a lot of blood and was in recovery for a while. I received a blood transfusion and a horrible tasting dose of liquid morphine, ugh. Eventually it was nearer 9 than anything when I was taken to the ward. Sam had not stopped screaming and I was terrified he would be 'that' baby - the one everyone hated for crying all night. There was one other woman in the room who was pretty nasty. She constantly complained about Sam and how he was giving her a headache. She made snidey comments to everyone that came in.

I buzzed for help and said I needed someone to try to get Sam to latch on and feed and that I was unhappy he'd been given formula. The midwife gave a half-hearted effort to latch him on, then said, "Well, if he's used to formula I'll give him another feed." She took him away and I couldn't really do anything to stop her.

When she brought him back I noticed for the first time the injuries on Sam's head from the forceps :cry: No wonder he was so distressed, he had been constantly placed on the side of his head with the worst damage, he must have been in so much pain :cry:

I spent the next few hours trying to get someone to take a look at his head. At one point someone took him away and I thought the paediatrician was going to look at him but instead they brought him back and told me they'd given him more formula :angry: I know the time was just after 3 because I looked at my phone and saw the time.

Eventually someone gave him some paracetamol and I laid him on my chest with his head resting on the good side. For the first time he calmed down a little and drifted in and out of sleep for the next couple of hours but woke up crying every ten minutes or so again. I didn't dare fall asleep in case he fell off of me so by this point I'd had no sleep and nothing to eat or drink for over 24 hours. I kept being promised toast but it never seemed to happen. When it eventually arrived the toast was cold and the butter they gave me to spread on it was straight out the fridge :angry: Yeah, try spreading that! I basically had cold toast with butter molehills.

Around half past six when Sam had been screaming for a long time I buzzed for help and asked if someone could help me try once again to get him to feed. The midwife asked me when he last fed and I said he'd been taken away earlier and given formula without my permission. She went away to check the time and came back at some point later to tell me he'd been fed at 4 and wouldn't be hungry yet :confused:

I told her I knew for sure he had NOT been fed at 4 because I knew what time they brought him back to me. She got cross with me and argued that there would not any mistakes on the feeding sheet, then told me he wasn't hungry either way and I needed to learn to recognise the hunger cues.

At this point I started to realise I was on my own. The one thing that happened when Natasha was born was that she was hungry all night and fed ALL night, despite the midwives telling me she was not hungry because she'd only fed a couple of hours earlier. I persevered with other ways to soothe her until I just gave in to my instincts and let her feed all night long. That, I think, was when I realised that my motherly instincts were more important than the medical knowledge and feeding schedule that the midwives were going by and from then on I trusted myself so much more to know what was best for my children. I have never forgotten that night. It was one of the most important milestones to me in terms of being a mother.

Now I knew Sam was hungry, hurting and terribly distressed but no one wanted to help him to feel better. I had never felt so alone or frustrated.

Around 7 breakfast was brought over. I love how they ask you what you want without telling you what they've got :angry: I opted for Weetabix and toast and once again was served cold toast with butter molehills, and weetabix without enough milk to cover them. Mmmm, delicious...

Wednesday was just a horrible day. Sam screamed the whole day. Every time he went to sleep for a few moments, as soon as anyone laid him down he woke back up. He was clearly hungry and hurting still. Meanwhile I was being forced to take painkillers, even though I was not in very much pain. When I asked what they were I was treated like I was the patient from hell and simply told I needed them and would regret it if I didn't take them - while I am sure they meant 'you will be in pain if you don't take them' it sounded for all the world like some kind of B-movie threat!

As no one would take a photo of me with Sam, I had to try taking one myself by holding my camera at a distance. I have about 30 pics of half of Sam's head or the top of my shoulder, or just of the pillow or wall. But this photo, I love. It may not be great quality but I love it none the less.

Through the morning various midwives did various things. This included more formula being given against my will. Every time I said I wanted to breastfeed and I wasn't happy I was told, "well, if he's not breastfeeding then he has to eat something," but none of them were trying to help me get him to breastfeed. At one point I asked for help to get up to go to the toilet and as soon as I stood up I felt violently sick and dizzy. I thought it was from the blood loss at first but then I realised the feelings were very familiar. When I asked someone to find out what painkillers I'd been given I found out that I had been given one that I'd previously had awful side effects from when I took them for my endometriosis and had been flagged up in my medical notes not to be given. Someone made some vague mention of being given paracetamol instead from then on and the next time around this was true, but by the evening the tramadol was back in the pot :angry: so I just pocketed the painkillers from them on to dispose of later.

Every thing I said, all day, was 'wrong'. One time Sam actually started rooting for my breast and I was so overjoyed and tried to latch him on but the midwife that was there at the time told me I was wrong, that he wasn't rooting properly and wasn't hungry anyway :cry: And when he was chomping on his hands I said he was hungry and I wanted to try to feed him but the midwife said that this wasn't a proper hunger cue. Then I was told that he was too used to formula now and I shouldn’t try to breastfed because it was upsetting him too much.

The canula (sp?) in my hand was going dodgy because it kept getting caught, it was bleeding and sore and I could hardly hold Sam but thy refused to take it out because they said I would need a further blood transfusion later on. While I was trying to settle him for the millionth time a screaming row blew up in the corridor where a couple were walking out because they had been kept waiting for hours to be discharged and not long after a second couple did the same. A third couple launched a scathing attack on the staff at their own discharge, they could have been expressing my own views.

"I had my first child here two years ago and everyone was so supportive and helpful. What happened to this place?"

That was the milder portion of the rant.

Around lunchtime I was brought my main course under one of these silver platter things. I can't remember the real word for them so I have been calling them Silver 'Ta-Da' Things. When you are served food like this, it looks like it's gonna be pretty tasty, right?

Yeah, well, next time you're confronted with a silver ta-da thing please make sure you do not lift the lid to reveal...

Yes. Lasagne and boiled white rice. Cold lasagne and boiled white rice to be precise. Oh my goodness, as a culinary combination I really can't see it catching on. Honestly.

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention the poo pudding:

Around the early afternoon one midwife came over to try to take Sam to give him more formula. I got very upset with her and told her that I was so unhappy about the way everyone had been treating us and she went off on a tangent by saying "Well, you refused to hand express so formula is the only other option" (At no point had I refused to hand express; I have tried this with all of my children and I just can't get the right motion. I explained this to her earlier and asked that someone try showing me again so that I could try, but nothing ever came of my request.)

I was so upset and furious, I started crying and said no one was trying to help us. She asked me what I wanted and I just said I wanted to go home. I'd totally had enough, I felt like a terrible mother who didn't know anything. She started saying that I was in the best place if I was having so much trouble with feeding and settling Sam and I really let rip at her. I told her at home I have support and help, that in hospital no one was helping me to BF (TOTALLY against hospital policy) or treat Sam's bad head.

I know I went off on a complete tangent but I gave her a full and total picture of what my home is like. I told her that I have health problems with CFS (at which point she tried to interrupt by telling me at least I 'wasn't as bad' as her colleague who'd had to change to another department because of her CFS so I countered by telling her I had to quit my job altogether - I didn't want a pity party, I was trying to paint a picture here!) and that my husband's health is also not great but that it didn't matter because we shared everything.

I missed my little world so much I was in floods of tears as I told her about my two beautiful girls who I love so much, my three silly, soft, fuzzy guinea pigs who make us smile and laugh, the work that I now do from home that I enjoy so much, the unique relationship I share with my husband and how much fun it is with us both working from home so we get to spend time with the girls, share out the responsibilities, spend long evenings sitting and working together while we chat and watch TV - I just told her how much I love my life and all the people in it, and that all I wanted was to be able to get back to them with Sam so that he spent his first days with love, support and tenderness instead of being taken away from me every 4 hours without my permission and crying in distress non-stop.

By the end, the midwife went very quiet, then she said she would speak to the one in charge that day about maybe getting released the next day.

The afternoon went pretty much as the morning had done. I tried in vain to get Sam to latch on, this time on my own because it was clear I wasn't going to get any support. I felt so isolated, my blackberry wouldn't even connect so I didn't even have the option of trying to search for information that could help. I kept being told a transfusion was imminent but it never quite happened, the same with more paracetamol for Sam. It was almost evening by the time they agreed to give him more, and he briefly settled again.

I finally managed to call Steve for a short time that evening, after the horrible woman had been discharged and I had the room to myself, but I couldn't tell him how bad things were. Hearing my girls in the background brought tears back to my eyes and talking to Angelica truly made me cry. I certainly wasn't in the mood for dinner when they brought round some kind of cold, sweet soup I couldn't even force a mouthful of because it was so rancid, nor the alleged BLT sandwich that had no L or T in it, and very little B either. It was all soggy bacon fat, no meat, and there was one random piece of cucumber inside it too.

By the time the evening came I was at my lowest point. I just couldn't stop crying for a long time. Sam was hurting and upset again and was clearly hungry too. Eventually a very hot, slightly gothy midwife came round, introduced herself and said she was the head of the night shift.

She was my guardian angel that night.

She asked me how things were going and I just told her honestly that things were going terribly. I told her I wanted to breastfeed but the choice had been taken out of my hands and because of the head wounds Sam was now linking BFing with hurting. I told her I was devastated about the way things had gone.

She said to me,

"Well, you're very lucky because ....... (name of midwife I can't remember) is working tonight and she's fantastic with lactation issues. I will ask her to come and help you out."

After all the other hollow promises I didn't think anything would come of it but five minutes later a second, very attractive midwife came in the room and said she would do all she could to help us. She tried a few different positions, then asked what formula they had been giving Sam. I thought it was going to end up like all the other times but instead she brought over a small pot of formula and a syringe. She put a few drops of formula in Sam's mouth to get him interested and few on my nipple.

Then he latched on.

I just started bawling all over again. I was so scared it was too late and that my milk wouldn't come in properly but I was so happy to see him finally trying. I just pulled together as much courage as I could and when the first midwife came back I told her that I wanted to go home the next day. After he scathing looks and comments others had given me for saying this I was expecting her to do the same but she said,

"Well, if there's no medical reason to stay in then I think mothers and babies are better off at home where they are relaxed. I will leave a request for the person who takes the shift tomorrow that you wish to be discharged so they can arrange the necessary checks and let you go home."

Here started Project [I]Bluff My Way Home [/I]with my 'I'm Fine!" face which I have used in the past!

A couple of hours passed and Sam was getting very upset again. His head must have still been hurting and I hated seeing him so upset. I was scared of trying this but I knew how to help him feel better. So I got the cu of formula and the syringe, put a few drops in his mouth and some on my breast, and just hoped.

Then this happened.

It was the most beautiful sight I'd ever seen.

I was about 3 in the morning by now and neither Sam nor I had been to sleep. I hadn't slept in 48 hours an Sam had barely had any either. I just called the night a write-off for sleep at this point and concentrated on getting him to feed as much as I could instead. Some time around 4 he actually started to dose off. I couldn’t believe it! I carefully laid him down...

And an almighty, constant ringing began.


Instantly Sam was awake and screaming. I couldn't blame him - the din made me want to scream too!

I waited to see what happened next. It sounded like a fire alarm of some sort but no one seemed to be evacuating us. I cradled Sam and tried to calm him down as I waited for further instructions, not that any came. I ventured out the room and to the midwives' station to ask what was going on.

"Oh, there's a fire in the children’s ward," one of them said casually, "no where near us."

Oh great! That was comforting!

It was about 30 minutes when the alarm finally stopped and it took me until 6 to calm Sam down. In the meanwhile, a new patient with her baby was wheeled in and I was terrified that Sam would upset her too, but she was really nice.

around half six, Sam looked like he might be falling asleep so i tried settling him in bed with me. This was the juncture at which they chose to reset the alarm, causing it to go off again for another 5 minutes, just long enough to make Sam scream again!

I finally got him settled again around an hour later, laid him down beside me and closed my eyes. For the first time it looked like I was actually gong to get some sleep!


"Good morning! What do you want for breakfast?"


Two dry weetabix and some butter molehills later...

When that day's head midwife came round I put on my best 'I'm fine!' face and reiterated my need to go home. Luckily she agreed and the wheels were set in motion. As long as Sam and I both passed our medical checks I would be leaving that afternoon!

I actually don't remember that much about Thursday except for using my 'I'm fine' face a lot. My spirits had risen by 110% just by knowing the wheels were in motion and I was going home with my little boy. Sam was still incredibly upset all day, the only time he wasn't crying was when he was feeding, which he was now doing from my breast without needing to put formula on there. I was getting so worried about what life would be like when we got home if he cried all of the time. I started to panic about having another night with no sleep and about whether his first couple of days had disturbed Sam so much that he would always be this way.

Lunch was served soon and under the silver ta-da thing, guess what I found?

Yes, more lovely lasagne and boiled rice :( And more poo pudding.

Sam was checked over, I was checked over and we both had the all-clear. I texted Steve to let him know what time he could come with his brother to pick us up and I started packing my bags up again, just so eager to get back to my family. Eventually the time came and Steve appeared at the door. I just wanted to cry with joy, I had missed him so, so much. We just hugged and kissed, and he finally got to hold Sam. I kept warning him Sam was very disturbed and we might have a lot of trouble settling him, and eventually my discharge was complete - we were off!

It is perhaps very telling that Sam cried in the car until we got to the gates of the hospital, as soon as we passed through them he fell asleep, properly asleep, for the first time ever. He slept all the way home, and all through the evening he dozed on and off. That night, he slept in his Moses basket until half past 2, then he came in bed with us where he slept soundly for 4 hours. When I went to the bathroom after giving him his first bottle (bottle, not cup - which one of the midwives actually said to me you 'let them drink until they start to choke' - I wish I was joking) I realised my t-shirt was soaking wet. My milk had come in. I cried with relief - we'd won that battle.

Since he left the hospital I haven't heard him cry or scream once. He gives a shriek for attention, he chatters away when he wakes up in the night and we are pretty good at spotting when he needs changing or to be fed before he gets upset. He is a totally different baby, a placid and fun little soul whose sisters are doting on him and fascinated by his every move. He has fitted in to the household so well it is like he has always been here. It was a very long journey to reach this stage - TTC, pregnancy and birth were all difficult but life with my growing family has never been easier or happier.

Somehow this has not put me off of having one more. In fact, I think the opposite has happened. We had been talking about having number 4 for a while but knew we'd have to see how we felt after Sam arrived to know for sure if we wanted another or if our family was complete. Now Sam is here, we both feel there is one more empty space that needs to be filled.

In a way I am glad we are going to try for another because I would hate for this experience to be my last memory of labour and birth. We are going to be NTNP for a while and if after a year nothing has happened then we will TTC again, but I have a feeling things will be easier this time. There were a lot of parallels between Sam and Angelica - both took a long time to conceive with complications and losses along the way, both pregnancies were difficult and both had traumatic birth experiences. With Natasha, things were so different. She was our planned surprise - she just 'happened', my pregnancy was far easier and her whole birth experience was very positive I just can't shake the feeling that things will be easier this time around, just like with Natasha.

Whatever happens in the future, I feel incredibly blessed to have my beautiful boy home with me to join my special family. We are not a conventional bunch by any means, but we are happy and have a lot of love to share. I can't wait for all the adventures that lay ahead with Sam :wub: