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My Hyper-Mobile Child

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So it turns out that Ruby has hyper-mobility. This is something that I had never heard of until Ruby was diagnosed with it and yet, I found out that it’s something that I also have, although not to the same extent as Ruby. Someone who suffers from hyper-mobility is basically really flexible, there are differing degrees of it…Ruby is super flexible, like rubber. If you go to pick her up under her arms she’ll basically slide out of your hands if you’re not aware that she has it. I first noticed that something was up with her joints when she was about four or five months old. I noticed that when she was held up in someones arms, that her arms would bend right back behind her, same with her legs when changing her nappies. Considering her birth story, I of course jumped to all sorts of conclusions as to what could be causing this. So when she was called for her six month check up I mentioned it to the health nurse who took a quick look at her. She checked her joints and confirmed that she had hyper-mobility. She explained that it meant that Ruby’s joints were more flexible than what is deemed normal and that it is normally hereditary. So with that she checked both myself and my mother (who came to the appointment with me). She said that we both had it. My mam had it only slightly in her arms and elbows and I had it in my arms, elbows, lower back and hips. And like Ruby I was always really flexible as a child. So the nurse said that Ruby would need to attend physio to assess how much she would be affected by hyper-mobility. Initially I thought that it just meant that she would be really flexible. I had visions off sending her off to be an amazing gymnast or something. But apparently there are a whole host of other problems that can occur because of this condition, depending on its severity. Some of the other problems that can sometimes occur are as follows:

  • Late learning to sit, sit with a very rounded back or W-sit.
  • Skip crawling and bottom shuffle instead.
  • Walk later than normal.
  • Hate tummy time.
  • Avoid activities that are new or require effort and may have sensory issues.
  • Develop coordination and attention problems as they get older.
  • Develop digestive system problems.
  • More prone to develop dyspraxia as a result of low muscle tone.
  • More vulnerable to injury.
  • Suffer from extreme tiredness.
  • Have limbs that appear to be floppy and weak.
  • Pain in the knees, fingers, hips, elbows and lower back.
  • Joints can dislocate easily.
  • Hyperelastic (very stretchy) skin that bruises easily.
  • If there is a more widespread effect on the body, it can usually involve conditions or syndromes like Marfan or Ehlers-Danlos syndrome.

textgram_1492461824So far Ruby doesn’t seem to be affected by too many of the above symptoms, but we will have to watch her for a lot of the other symptoms as she gets older. It’s important to remember that people who have this may never have any other symptoms besides being really flexible. Hopefully this will be the same for Ruby. I didn’t even know I had it and I don’t think it has effected me in any ill way that has effected my quality of life. Looking back now, perhaps the digestive problems I have and being tired all the time have something to do with my own level of hyper-mobility, but at this stage of my life I am not going to go looking into it!  As for Ruby, she was a bit late on her gross motor skills – she was late to roll, sit, crawl and walk. But she was, and still is ahead in her fine motor skills, language and communication skills. She didn’t start crawling until a week before her first birthday and she didn’t walk until she was 18 months. But at that stage we were doing work with her at home that was given to us by the physiotherapist in order to help strengthen her muscles. So if we weren’t doing that, it could have been a lot later. She 100% hated tummy time – although, this is something that I think most babies hate. The only way we could get her to do it was on my bed.  We will have to keep a close eye on her – apparently hyper-mobile children can plateau at any stage in their development. She definitely has low muscle tone as a result – her muscles feel like jelly if you touch them and if you wave her arms around they go really floppy. But at the same time, she is a strong as an Ox and always has been.

textgram_1492461970Thankfully at her last physio check up everything was spot on. I have to bring her back when she is two, by which time the physio said she should be climbing the stairs without my assistance, jumping and kicking a ball. She said if she is able to do all of these things, and as long as nothing else pops up in the mean time, that she would be happy to discharge her, which is fantastic news. So hopefully everything will balance out. I am sure I will document it here should anything else develop. I just wanted to share this as I don’t think it is something that people are aware of – I mean, I suffer from it and didn’t even know about it! Please feel free to contact me if your little ones have hyper-mobility. I would love to hear other peoples views and experiences on the topic.

*Update* October 2017

So Ruby just had her check up for her hypermobilty. For this check up the physio wanted Ruby to be able to kick a ball, climb the stairs with little to no help, run and to jump. She was able to do three out of the four requirements. She can’t really jump yet but she is trying very hard. The physio was pleased with this as she is only gone 26 months and is still a little young to jump properly. The muscles in her legs have strengthened and her hypermobilty has lessoned in this area. However she is still hypermobile in her feet and ankles, which can make her trip a lot so I have to ensure she is wearing shoes with the correct foot support and her hands and wrists are very mobile. But thankfully the physio was so happy with her progress that she has discharged her from the service. She has asked me to watch out for anything out of the ordinary and if the tripping increases to come back. But overall we are all delighted with her progress!!

Until the next blog.

Orla the Irish Mammy xx

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To Boob or Not to Boob. 

breastfeeding meme 1Before I get into this blog post, I just want to stress that I am neither pro-breastfeeding or pro-bottle – I am of the view point of fed is best. The most important thing is that your baby is fed,  regardless of whether it’s done by the boob or bottle. Not everyone is able to breastfeed, both mother and sometimes baby too, every circumstance is different. I feel that sometimes we are too quick to judge before knowing the full story. Even before I was pregnant with Ruby I had made up my mind that I would breastfeed. I thought that it was something that was easy (little did I know then!). My sister breastfed and even though she had some problems with it, I was still determined to give it ago. But what really made me determined to do so was when I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes while pregnant with Ruby at approximately 32 weeks. I had to attend a lifestyle class in the Coombe, where myself and some other ladies were given a talk on how to make better food choices and what foods effected blood sugars etc, as well as being shown how to check our bloods. I found the whole thing extremely daunting. But I thought that if people who actually had diabetes had to eat this way and document so many things every day of their life’s, that surely I could do the same for a few months for the health of my unborn baby.

At the end of this session another nurse came in to chat to us about breast feeding. She said that we 100% had to breastfeed, we didn’t really have a choice in the matter – I have to say, I didn’t really agree with how she approached the talk. I felt like breast feeding was being forced on me as such, and that’s after I had already made the decision to breastfeed. God knows how the other women in the room were feeling if they hadn’t made their mind up yet. We were told that breastfeeding would help to regulate babies blood sugars once born (gestational diabetes babies have to have their bloods checked twice after birth to make sure there are no problems), and that it would help them with their weight in later life, along with passing on nutrients etc on to the baby. I knew a lot of this information already. But because I had this nurse telling me all of this in a force fed sort of way, I felt that I had to breastfeed and that was it. We were told that if we couldn’t make the breastfeeding classes in the Coombe, that it would be covered in the antenatal class that we would attend. I would have loved to have attended the breastfeeding classes in the Coombe, but unfortunately they were on a Wednesday morning and with a very busy full time job I felt that I couldn’t take more time off to go, so I decided to go with whatever information I was given in the antenatal class. This was mistake number one – I should have gone to the breast feeding classes! Due to work and both myself and Andy’s availability, we decided to do a day long antenatal class, but the lady who was giving it ran out of time and never covered anything to do with breast feeding. So the first time I ‘properly’ covered anything to do with breast feeding was when the midwife put Ruby on my boob after I gave birth to her. This was at the end of a very long and tiring 18 hour labour at 3.30 in the morning, so anything she was telling me or showing me went in one ear and out the other.

breast feeding meme 4So my next attempt was about four hours later when the nurses woke me and said that I needed to feed her as they wanted to check her blood sugars. I was in a room where all but one lady was breastfeeding so for some reason I felt like I had to deliver. So I picked up Ruby and tried my best to remember what the nurse had showed me just a few hours earlier, but sure I hadn’t really a notion of what to do. Ruby was roaring so wouldn’t latch on….not that I new how to do that correctly either, I think I was just trying to put my boob in her mouth and was hoping for the best. A few minutes later I completely broke down crying. I felt like every other mother in the room was looking at me and I remember clearly thinking “they must think I’m a terrible mother because I can’t feed my child”. I was so worried too about needing to feed her as she needed to get her sugars done. So I rang the bell beside my bed and a few minutes later a health nurse came in and pulled the curtain around me and asked me what was wrong. I just broke down crying.  I explained that I was just so tired, physically and mentally from the labour and I felt so overwhelmed and that I couldn’t feed my baby. I have to say, she was really nice and tried her best to reassure me. She said that she would send one of the nurses on the ward to come and properly show me how to breastfeed in a few minutes. But, of course that never happened. So I was sitting on my bed trying to feed Ruby while waiting for a nurse who would never come. In the end I asked for a bottle of formula. I told myself that she needed to be fed regardless of how I had to do it. Breastfeeding clearing wasn’t working for me so the bottle would do until I figured it out. She hoovered the bottle – she must have been starving. But it was a few more days before I actually got to give breastfeeding a go because Ruby had to be taken up to the high dependency ward (you can read all about that story here). So I was told that I would have to start pumping so that she could get some colostrum. The idea of pumping hadn’t even crossed my mind, so I went down to the hospital shop and bought the parts for the pumping machine that I needed. I found pumping so much more easier and it turns out I had a massive amount of colostrum and when my milk came in, I had a huge supply of it.  The only problem was that there was only one machine on my ward and one on the high dependency ward so it was a carefully planned out plan of attack as to who could get to them first. Because of this, one of the nurses suggested hand pumping for the occasions where there were no machines available. Again, I had no idea how to do this. So I was randomly squeezing my boob this way and that to no effect. So I asked one of the nurses to help. She said to put boiling water on two nappies and to place one on each boob to help with the let down of milk which would make it easier. She said that she would be with me in a few minutes after that to show me how to do it. But again, the nurse didn’t return. I walked around that ward a few times to try and find her, I saw her alright but it was like she was trying to avoid me. I was so annoyed over this, it was the second time a nurse said they would help me and then just didn’t bother following up on it.  So I just kept pumping like a demon and in the end my mam bought me my own pump so that I could use it when ever I needed to.

So by the time I was allowed to try breastfeed Ruby again, I still had no clue how to do it correctly. They had started to feed her my milk via a small bottle and I just explained that I really wanted to try and breastfeed. So the nurse on Ruby’s ward said that she would ring my phone when it was time to feed her (this was during the night). So I’d hop out of bed and Run up to the ward to try and breastfeed. The nurse didn’t actually show me how to hold her or give me any assistance really. I’d barely start and she’d whip Ruby off me to bottle feed her. She just said that it wasn’t working and to go and pump instead. It was the same nurses for most of the next day too and she acted the same way at each feed. By the time the shift was changing again the following evening, I was so up set by the whole thing and I felt like such a failure. By pure luck, the nurse who was taking over was an expert in breastfeeding. I explained that I had been trying since the night before without much luck and that this was something that I really wanted to do. So she promised me that she would try her very best to get breastfeeding established for me. She was so helpful. Each time we tried for ages, she showed me the correct positions to hold Ruby and we discovered what suited both myself and Ruby best. She introduced me to a breastfeeding pillow, which was a game changer. Each time we got a little bit better at it. She totally man handled by boobs but to be honest, at this point I didn’t care. I was just so happy that someone was was actually willing to spend the time helping me. Ruby seemed to be having huge difficulty with latching on so the nurse checked for for tongue tie. It turned out that she had a severe case of it – it was so severe that it was pulling her tongue inwards in the middle and she also had a lip tie as well. So the poor child wasn’t having any luck. So morning time came and the nurse said that we were almost there. She suggested that I go to the shop and get some nipple shields to make latching on a bit easier for her – as well as Ruby’s tongue and lip ties, I had a really inverted nipple which also didn’t help matters. So I got the shields as soon as the shop opened and by lunch time we were breastfeeding. I was beyond delighted. All it took was that one nurse to take the time to help me. Before we were both discharged, I asked the doctor if I needed to get anything done with Ruby’s tongue and lip ties. He said that he didn’t think so but to get my doctor to have a look at it at her 6 week check up and to go from there.

So we were home for four days before we had to take a trip up to Crumlin Children’s Hospital with Ruby (click here to read more about that story). The breastfeeding had been going ok at home. But as soon  as I got to the hospital, I was there on the first night trying to breastfeed when they told me to start pumping again. I can’t remember what the reason was, I don’t think there was one really, they told me. In hindsight I should have said no, that I wanted to stick with beast feeding. So I started pumping again, but by the time we got home again I just couldn’t re-establish breastfeeding on my own. So I continued with pumping and told myself that she was still getting breast milk, just via a bottle instead. I lasted just under 8 weeks before my milk dried up. I tried to pump every three hours to keep my supply up but eventually at each pumping session I was producing less and less milk. In the end I was getting maybe two feeds in a day. I couldn’t keep it up. I was getting up ahead of Ruby’s scheduled feeds to try and pump what little milk I had left (the pumping and feeding schedules had become out of sync), then by the time I was finished with pumping, it was time to feed Ruby and long term I just couldn’t sustain that kind of schedule. So I decided to use up what ever breast milk I had left in the freezer and I slowly weaned Ruby onto formula milk.

breastfeeding meme 3During those eight weeks though, I noticed that while I was feeding her breast milk via a bottle, that she was having trouble even sucking/latching on to the bottle so I brought her to the doctor to take a look at her tongue and lip tie. My doctor said it was very bad and that it would most definitely affect her eating and speech when she was older. So we were advised to get the ties snipped. We brought Ruby when she was eleven weeks old to a specialist named Dr Dermot Murnane who did a fantastic job. If I had have been told how severe it was by the doctor when I actually asked him in the hospital, I would have gotten the procedure done straight away – maybe I would have had a better chance at breastfeeding Ruby. If I ever have any more babies with tongue tie, it’s something that I will definitely get done again. Also during this time, I brought Ruby to a breast feeding group in the health centre, more so to keep an eye on her weight. I spoke to the health nurses about the difficulties I was having with breast feeding and filled her in on Ruby’s story. Her answer was something along the lines of ‘well sometimes if you’re under that much pressure it can effect your supply’. That was it. There was nothing else offered regarding help with re-establishing breastfeeding – baring in mind this was still within the 8 weeks before my milk supply stopped. I got no advice on where to go or who to talk to. All she gave me was a little flyer with tips to help with breast feeding – all of which I was already doing. I just felt that there wasn’t a lot of help given or available to me for breastfeeding. I think that the nurses etc just expect that if your breastfeeding that you can just go and do it and if you happen to have any problems along the way, deal with it yourself. I found that there was very little advice available to me from the time I was in hospital right up until I could no longer breastfeed. I don’t think there are enough resources out there for women. I know there are websites etc that explain how to go about it. But I mean there is very little hands on help out there – unless you can afford to go to a lactation consultant. Of which was never mentioned to me as an option when I was in hospital. As I mentioned above, breastfeeding isn’t for everyone, whether it’s by choice or not, which is absolutely fine. You need to do what is best for mother and baby. But I think that if it’s something you decide to do, that there should be at least more help out there. Just because it’s something that is natural, doesn’t mean that it will happen naturally for mother or baby. Maybe I am wrong, but all I can draw my opinion upon is my own experience on the matter. Hopefully, if I ever give Ruby a little brother or sister, that my experience will be far better and easier than it was with Ruby. Here’s hoping.

Until the next blog.

The Irish Mammy xx

 

P.S. Here is a link to Breastfeeding.ie for anyone who is interested.

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Different hospital, same story…

img-20151018-wa0002-1There we were – four days after we had finally gotten to bring our little beauty home – running around the house like lunatics trying to make the place look presentable before the public health nurse arrived to check on Ruby. Myself and Andy both looked like zombies. We were only getting about one and half hours sleep (if we were lucky) between Ruby’s naps. During the day it wasn’t too bad as my parents were living next door, so my mam was in and out all day long helping out. But night time was torture. Ruby would wake and I would get up to feed her. I was breastfeeding, so unfortunately Andy couldn’t help in this department. Between the two of us we would try and wind her. Andy would then change her. We would all go to sleep and the process would start over again. I was probably getting maybe an hours sleep each time. I was still worried about Ruby and I had some anxiety every time I had to put her down to sleep. I spent most of my time watching her sleep and checking her breathing. Which was still really rapid from the *TTN and the previous day I had noticed that her feet were going blue again. At the time I just put an extra pair of socks on her thinking her feet were just cold – surely it couldn’t have been the **cynosis that she had after the birth, the hospital had said she was in the all clear.

So the health nurse arrived and checked Ruby out. I had to fill her in on Ruby’s condition after the labour. It was then that I mentioned to her about Ruby’s feet being blue the day beforehand, and the fact that her breathing was still really rapid. So she checked all of these things out for herself. Even though she was good in all other departments, the nurse wasn’t happy about her rapid breathing and blue feet. So she sent us off to my doctor in order to get a letter so that we could bring Ruby to Crumlin’s Children Hospital. She suggested that we waste no time in doing so. I quickly packed a bag for Ruby and phoned the doctor, who sent us immediately up to Crumlin.

I couldn’t believe it. Four days home and we were already on our way back to the hospital with her. I had no idea what to expect. She was seen very quickly once we had filled any required forms out. She was only 11 days old at this stage, so they didn’t want to leave her in the waiting area where she might pick up an infection. At about 5 pm we were brought into a small observation room where she was once again hooked up to a pulse-oximeter, which is a machine to monitor oxygen levels in your blood. We were told to count how many breaths she was taking in every 60 seconds. It was a long wait, with lots of doctors and nurses checking her out, but she was eventually admitted to one of the wards shortly after midnight. Only one parent was aloud to stay, so since I was breastfeeding I stayed. Andy had to drive all the way home to Kildare as there was no availability in the Ronald McDonald House.

That night felt like it would never end. There were no mother and baby rooms left on the ward we were admitted to. There was just one cot available in a room with another very sick little baby (the nurses spent the whole night coming in and out to tend to that little baby, he seemed so sick). As there were no mother and baby rooms free, I had to sleep on a reclining chair beside Ruby’s cot. As well as the machine to monitor Ruby’s oxygen levels, she was also hooked up to a respiratory monitor to make sure that she didn’t stop breathing at any stage. Twice during the night the breath monitor went off to indicate that she had stopped breathing. I was sleeping both times (more like dozing) but I got such a fright, because when the machine goes off, all the nurses on the ward just dropped what they are doing and rushed to which ever machine is going off. Thankfully it wasn’t anything serious, she had just stopped a little bit longer than what was normal. They kept both of the monitors on for Ruby’s entire hospital stay. The breathing monitor only went off one other time while we were there. But you can see why I had some anxiety when it came to putting her to sleep!!

The next morning, the doctor assigned to Ruby came in to have a chat with me. She spoke to me again about the TTN and cynosis she had when she was born. She explained that the TTN normally lasted about 3 days after birth. Since Ruby still seemed to be suffering from it, she wanted to run some tests to ensure she had no hidden problems that could be causing her trouble. She also explained that her feet were more than likely blue due to her breathing being a little bit more laboured than normal. So over the next few days Ruby was scheduled to have a mountain of tests. I can’t remember all of them, but some included a chest x-ray, heart echo, blood tests and loads more. It was four days worth of tests.

Later that day, at about lunch time, we were moved to our own mother and baby room on the same ward. I was so happy – I don’t think I could have managed another night sleeping on a reclining chair. I basically didn’t get any sleep the night before – I got such a fright when the breathing monitors went off that I couldn’t relax enough to nod off to sleep. So I really needed some kind of a normal bed to get even a small amount of sleep. Including Ruby’s cot, the new room consisted of a pull out bed with pillows and a blanket for me, a sink and TV. It felt like luxury compared to how I had spent the previous night. The only down side was that the room was like a fish bowl. Glass on very side. Understandable, as it was a children’s hospital, so the nurses would need to be able to see into and gain access to all the rooms. But not so great when its situated right beside the nurses station and you are trying to breast feed – I felt like I was being gawked at the whole time. The second day, I was also told to start pumping again. So again, I started pumping like a mad woman. But unfortunately, after we came home I wasn’t able to establish breast feeding again on my own, so I kept up pumping and fed Ruby breast milk from a bottle. Truth be told, this was the beginning of the end for my milk supply. But more on that in another post.

The next few days were a mixture of sheer exhaustion, lots of coffee, scheduled pumping, endless shows of tipping point on the TV and lots of worrying. Poor Andy would stay until about 10 or 11 pm, drive home, and was up again the next morning for 9 am. I spent so much time in the room with Ruby that the nurses used to have to make me leave so that I could get a coffee and some fresh air. It was so hard to leave her, even for the shortest amount of time. But finally on the fourth day, once all of the tests had been done and all of the results were clear, we were told we could take Ruby home. They found nothing wrong with her that could be causing her to have rapid breathing. The doctors said that it was either just the way that she was breathing or the TTN was just taking longer to go away. They said if she ever had breathing difficulties where she was struggling to breath to bring her back in, but they were confident that she would be fine. It was like a big weight had been lifted off my shoulders. Her breathing did settle, but it took a few weeks. But it took more than a few weeks for my anxiety to go away every time I had to put her to sleep. To be honest, that anxiety is probably still there a little – she’s 18 months old now and I still use a video monitor when she sleeps! But it keeps me at ease and Ruby’s none the wiser with the monitor in the room.

I have to say a huge thank you to the staff in Crumlin Hospital, they really were great. They do such a fantastic job, not only looking after very sick children, but the parents too! Thankfully (and touch wood), Ruby hasn’t had any issues with it since. Besides the odd cough or cold, she’s been great! But it was a very scary start. Everyone has their own birth story to tell and while there are stories more serious than Ruby’s, it was still a very stressful and traumatic time for both myself and my Andy. Especially as first time parents when every is new and scary anyway!

Until the next blog,

Orla The Irish Mammy x

 

*TTN – Transient Tachypnen of the Newborn: A respiratory problem that can be seen in newborns shortly after delivery. It can last up to three days and is caused by the slow absorption of fluid in the lungs. This fluid makes taking in oxygen harder and the baby has to breath faster to compensate. (Www.stanfordchildrens.org)

** Cynosis – When parts of the body turn blue because oxygen cannot be carried around the body efficiently. 

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Ruby’s Birth Story – Part 3

There I was, sitting up in my bed with my mam to the left of me and my future mother-in-Law to my right. Ruby was sleeping in her little crib just beside my bed and Andy was down in the cafe getting me a much needed coffee. I remember feeling so utterly and unbelievably tired. I had never felt anything like it before and I couldn’t begin to imagine how I was ever going to recover from the ordeal of the pervious day and night. I ached all over, I could barely move and to be honest, I still felt a bit out of it. Like I was in the twilight zone. I must have really looked out of it too, because my mam had just said that she thought I was in shock!! But no, I was just feeling like I had been hit by a brick wall. But soon enough, visiting time was over for the morning. Everyone left and made their way down to the cafe for lunch and left me to eat mine and get some much needed rest. So after I finished my lunch (which was really awful – as was all the food we got), I fed, changed and put Ruby down to sleep and rested for a while.

During this time the nurses were in and out to check my stats and drip. I was still on the medication that I needed to help my uterus contract normally and once that was finished, I was due to start on another antibiotic because of my temperature spike during labour. A student baby doctor had already routinely been in to check on Ruby twice that morning. Both times it was mentioned to him about Ruby’s blue arms and legs, which seemed to be getting worse. But he kept saying that it was nothing to worry about. But I had a gut feeling that something wasn’t right. I was still having no luck with breastfeeding and any formula I was giving her wasn’t staying down. So later in the evening, when a nurse from my diabetic team came in to tell me that Ruby’s blood sugars were all normal, I mentioned my concerns to her and what the other doctor had said. She said to leave it with her and that she would see if a more senior doctor would come and take a look at her. So most of the evening went by with no visit from anyone besides the on duty nurses to routine check my blood pressure etc. I remember saying to Andy that I think they have forgotten about Ruby. But eventually at about 6.30 or 7pm, a doctor popped in. She spoke to both my self and Andy about our concerns and took a quick look at her. She explained how she wanted to take her down to a small examination room at the end of the ward so that she could have a better look at her. So she took Ruby off to be examined and told us that she would be back to us with any findings that she might have. In the mean time, my sister and my dad arrived to see Ruby. I kept telling them that she was only gone for an examination and that she would be back soon. Little did we know that it would be another week before they would get to meet her! So at about 8pm the doctor arrived back to the ward, without Ruby. At that point, she explained that she wasn’t receiving enough oxygen throughout her body, which was causing parts of her body to go blue. So she had sent her up to the high dependency unit and that we could go up and see her at 9pm once they had her set up with oxygen. I remember that I started to shake really badly all over, like when you are really cold. I think it was shock or something. When you have a baby, you abviously hope and pray that everything will be ok. But I didn’t really think that something bad would actually happen.

We both got such a shock when we went up to see her. I wasn’t expecting her to be in an incubator. She had a feeding tube in her nose and wires coming out of her everywhere. I wasn’t allowed to hold her. I just burst out crying. I couldn’t stop. There was a nurse there explaining everything to us. I didn’t hear a single word. Thankfully Andy is an EMT and was able to explain it all to me the next morning. We weren’t allowed to stay very long. So I went back to my bed and Andy had to go home as visiting hours were long over. I cried myself to sleep. The next morning I went up to the ward as soon as I had my morning check up, along with Andy who came up extra early. When we got up to the ward there was a new nurse there named George. He explained everything to us in a little more detail. Ruby was started on an antibiotic during the night. He said it was just precautionary in case there was an infection and they had taken blood samples so that her blood cultures could be checked. She would stay on the antibiotics until the results came back. He had also been giving her some sugar water too! He asked if I was breastfeeding, and if I was that I should start to pump as she wasn’t to be taken out of the incubator. He said that I needed to get as much of my colostrum into her as possible. It didn’t even occur to me that I could pump when I was first having problems with feeding her. So I was sent down to the shop to buy all the equipment needed to use the pumping machine on Ruby’s ward. And so I started my extremely scheduled pumping regime. And apparently,  I was producing a huge amount of colostrum. It was like my body knew that Ruby really needed it. And once she started to get it, she really started to improve. The only way I could feed her was by standing beside her incubator with one hand inside holding up a tube which was attached to her feeding tube. So over the next few days I pretty much spent all of my time with Ruby. I would go straight after my morning check up and not return until about 9pm. After that I spent the night pumping every 2/3 hours. I was a women on a mission. I really wanted to breastfeed, and since I couldn’t, I was going to give pumping a damn good try. And it turns out I had a massive supply. In the meantime, the nurses on my ward noticed that I had kind of gone missing. On the third day there was a phonecall up to Ruby’s ward asking if I was there. Of course I was. I was asked very politely to come back to my ward. They said that it was obviously ok for me to be up with Ruby, but just asked that I come back for my other three check ups.

img-20151018-wa0010On the third day we got confirmation that Ruby’s blood cultures were all clear. So she was taken off antibiotics and we could now hold her to feed her. It was amazing to be able to hold her again. We were told that if she handled being held for longer periods, that she would be taken out of the incubator and brought into the special care baby room which was next door. And of course my little lady did just that. So on the Monday morning we went into the new ward. Her oxygen levels were still being monitored with a device and she had a feeding tube in still. But later that day we were told to try her on a bottle of breast milk – which she devoured. From that night on I was told to try and establish breastfeeding. That first night was a disaster. I came up to the ward every three hours and each time was an utter fail. The midwife on duty wasn’t a great help either. It seemed like if Ruby didn’t latch on straight away, that she told me to stop and go back to bed. I was so disheartened.  I tried all through the next day with the same results. Then, at that nights shift change, I happened to be there trying, and failing miserably at feeding Ruby. The new on call nurse came up to me and stopped me straight away. For starters, I was holding her wrong and I had no support pillow. She brought me out one and started to show me a few different feeding positions. She was so lovely and reassuring. This was exactly the type of nurse I needed. By the next morning she told me that I had inverted nipples, especially on the right. And that Ruby had a severe case of tongue tie, which makes feeding really difficult. So I was told to try using nipple shields the next time I fed Ruby. As soon as the shop down stairs opened I got some. I won’t say that they worked straight away, but by lunch time we had both mastered the art of breast feeding. I was delighted! We were told that Ruby could go home on Thursday 20th – 7 days after she was born. But before we could go, we had to be shown how to give Ruby a bath and we had to attend a first aid class.

img-20151018-wa0006The whole time Ruby was in the high dependency and special care baby wards, the doctors had been very vague about Ruby’s condition. It was like they weren’t fully sure what was wrong with her. They never really fully gave us an explanation. The nearest one we got was – “she is failing to thrive outside of the womb”!! It wasn’t until I got her hospital release papers that I discovered she was suffering from *TTN and **Cynosis. TTN is only suppose to last about 3 days but for some reason Ruby was still having problems with it for a number of weeks after delivery. I have to say though that the staff in the Coombe Hospital, especially in the high dependency wards, were amazing. There was one nurse we dealt with the most, George. He was fantastic. Absolutely amazing at his job. He was so reassuring and so good with the babies. He explained everything so clearly too and had no problems answering any questions that we had. I don’t think I’ll ever forget him.

So at 3pm on Thursday 20th of August, we got to bring our little beauty home. I was terrified to leave the security of the hospital, but happy to get home and start our little family together. I was so exhausted that I slept the whole way home with Ruby. Once we arrived home, we were greeted by our parents, brothers and sisters and their kids. They had balloons and banners everywhere, and my mam had gotten the biggest and tallest baby hamper I had ever seen! It was such a wonderful reception to arrive home to. I wish I could say that we had no more hospital visits. But Ruby had one more hospital stay ahead of her. Something that I will write about in my next blog. I hope that you have enjoyed reading Ruby’s Birth Story and I really hope that I haven’t turned anyone off having babies! It really is a wonderful experience!

Until the next blog.

Orla the Irish Mammy x

*TTN – Transient Tachypnen of the Newborn: A respiratory problem that can be seen in newborns shortly after delivery. It can last up to three days and is caused by the slow absorption of fluid in the lungs. This fluid makes taking in oxygen harder and the baby has to breath faster to compensate. (Www.stanfordchildrens.org)

** Cynosis – When parts of the body turn blue because oxygen cannot be carried around the body efficiently. 

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Ruby’s Birth Story – Part 2

August 12th 2015, my goddaughter and niece, Mollys 4th birthday. It was looking like there would be a strong possibility that my daughter and niece would share the same birthday. If not, Ruby’s birthday would be a day after Mollys – funny, as my birthday is actually the day before Mollys mam, my sister Michelle. As I ate the breakfast that was served to me in the delivery suite – a banana, toast and my one coffee of the day – I remember thinking how lovely it would be if Molly and Ruby shared the same birthday and if not, how cool it would be if their birthdays fell in the same way that both myself and my sisters did. I also remember thinking “I wonder how Michelle’s attempt at the Doc.Mac Stuffins cake went that Molly had asked for”. Ever since I made Mollys birthday cake for her 3rd birthday – a three tier pink castle – Molly had requested that I make her 4th birthday party cake. A Doc. Mac Stuffins Lambie Cake. Something I had happily agreed too – I had been looking forward to the challenge that making this cake would bring. However, two days before my inducement, when it was pretty obvious that I wasn’t going anywhere until my bundle of joy was born, I got a panicked phone call from my sister asking “how the hell am I going to make a Lambie cake?!”. I had every faith that she could pull it off and sent her some pictures for inspiration, along with some notes on how I was planning to do it. (In the end she bought one). Ultimately I missed Mollys party as it was on the 12th, my inducement date. That is also why Andy was later than the agreed time of 10am, he was at the party dropping off Mollys presents! He rocked up at 11am when everything was well and truely kicking off.

So, after my breakfast, I was hooked up to every monitor possible and placed on a drip to kick start the labour. About twenty minutes after that my waters were broken. Let’s just say that that was something I wasn’t prepared for! I just thought whenever your waters broke that that was it. Wrong. Everyime you move, there’s more. It just doesn’t stop. I found it so uncomfortable, and trying to get off the bed and to the bathroom was a nightmare. At this stage I foolishly remember thinking “gosh, this isn’t too bad, I’ve no pains at all yet”. But, I spoke too soon. Shorty after this I started to feel little pains that felt like they were traveling up from my pelvis and into the centre of my stomach. Very quickly the pains intensified with very little time between each contraction. I was adement that I didn’t want to be lying in bed, so the best that my lovely mid-wife, Sonya, could do for me was place me on a Pilates ball sitting right under my monitor. This did help a little. At this stage I was starting to worry as Andy hadn’t shown up yet and things seemed to be moving faster than I expected.

Eventually, an hour later than we had agreed, Andy arrived. I was so relieved and I immediately felt a little relaxed. Well, as much as could be expected. But the contractions were starting to get really bad and the position I was sitting in wasn’t having a great affect on Ruby’s heart rate. So, much to my disappointment, I was moved up onto the bed in a upright seated position and given gas and air. As a result of the gas and air, the next 6-7 hours are kind of a blur. I remember parts of it. I remember constant pain and thoughts of “God, I didn’t think it would be this hard!” Along with, “Orla, you can’t get an epidural or else you’ll loose the bet with Andy and have to fork out €100!”. I remember having no space between my contractions to regroup, all this time I was still only at 2-4 cm. It got so unbearable that Andy had to politely ask them to turn the speed of the drip down. They did, however I don’t remember it making much of a difference. So eventually after eight hours on gas and air I hit a wall. I just realised that at 5cm, it was only going to get harder and more unbearable. So I asked for an epidural. By the look on Andys face when I asked for it, he was relieved. The pain was tremendous. I asked him if I had to pay the bet and of course he said no. I also couldn’t believed that I had actually asked for epidural. The thought of a needle going into my spine terrified me. But the pain was worse.

It took what seemed like forever for the anaesthesiologist to arrive. When she did, I sat up on the bed and did everything they asked me to. I wasn’t allowed to use the gas and air when they were administering the epidural and I wasn’t aloud to move if I got any contractions. Of course, I got two huge and very painful ones during the procedure. It was awful trying to stay still. But once it was in, they got me to lie down on my side while it worked it’s way to the lower part of my body and then the other side so that it would spread out evenly. They told me stop using the gas and air at this time too. It was then that Andy filled me in on all the crazy stuff I had been saying for the past eight hours while drugged up on gas and air. Apparently I was half out of it, when not screaming the place down. And having conversations with imaginary people who weren’t in the room. To be honest, I half remember some of it. What I remember most is kind of half dreaming and having a conversation in my dream and then coming through a little and trying to continue the so called converstion with Andy! Funny when you think about it, but also very embarrassing.

Now that the epidural was in, I really thought it was going to be plain sailing until they told me it was time to push. I really thought that I would be able to sit up and read a magazine or something. Again, I was so wrong. I was pain free for less than an hour and then I started to get pressure pains from the contractions which were every bit as painful as the contractions themselves. I couldn’t believe it. I was still at 5cm and remained there for a very long time while the pressure pains where at their worst. I begged the nurses to turn up my epidural drip. So while I waited for the anaesthesiologist to come back and access me, the nurses put me back on the gas and air which helped hugely. When the anaesthesiologist arrived, I remember she came up really close to my face, with such pity in her eyes and asked me in a really sobby way,”so are you in a lot of pain?” – I nearly knocked her out! Of course I was! She could hear me screaming with the pain. Why did she think she had been called back up? Then she asked me if I was using my top up button for the epidural and I said no, because I was saving it for when I really needed it. Well, she looked at me as if I had ten heads. Apparently there was a button I could press every 20 minutes to top up the pain relief – but only to a certain level so that you could never accidentally overdose. Now, I remember the nurse saying something to me about that when I was still under the effects of the gas and air. However, in my dosed up state I misheard her and thought you could only use it the one time. I have a really clear memory of thinking – jeez, I better save that so! Needless to say, I was slightly embarrassed at my mistake and so annoyed with myself. Andy quickly took the button and spent every twenty minutes until it was time to push, pressing the top-up button. I have to say it did help a little, especially paired with the gas and air. I could still feel the pressure pains but they much easier to bare.

At some stage between 12am and 3am on the 13th, my temperature spiked and the nurses started flustering around me and I had to be started on antibiotics via a drip. Apparently this is something that can happen when you’ve been in labour for so long with broken waters. I’ve since been told that you ideally shouldn’t be in labour for more than 16 hours with your waters broken as it isn’t the best for baby, hence why my temperature was spiking as I was in the 16th hour of a dry labour. At this stage I also heard the nurses start to talk about a Caesarian section. Knowing what I know now, they probably should have gone ahead and done the section at that stage. But for some reason they didn’t. Two hours after this, after 18 hours of  a dry labour, it was time to push. I was exhausted, but at the same time it felt like the time had flown by. So the midwifes helped me into position and I started pushing. They also turned down my epidural slightly so that I could feel my contractions to help me push with more efficiency. I didn’t do too bad, I had her out in 40 minutes. However, it could have been longer if the lovely midwife from Cavan hadn’t of come in. You could tell she had been a midwife for years and new exactly what she was doing. She was so confident…and scary! In a good way. She told me to stop screaming, to put my chin on my chest and to hold onto my legs tighter. I did. You could tell that there would be no messing with her. And about 5 minutes after, my beautiful Ruby Rose was welcomed into the world at 3.13am on August 2015 weighting 8.11. In that moment I just remember feeling a huge tidal wave of relief. That she was here, the labour was over and that I actually did it! I got to hold her straight away for skin to skin contact. It was absolutely the best moment in my life. Love at first sight is a real thing.

The midwifes took her to weigh her and check her Apgar score. Once they had a little nappy on her they asked if Andy would like to hold her. He said no! He was too scared. But between myself and the midwife, we got him to hold her for a few minutes. All the while I was delivering my placenta – which I forgot had to be done! I was also being hooked up to yet another drip. It was something to make sure that my uterus contracted correctly after the delivery due to the position and size of my fibroid. Ruby was then given back to me so that I could have a go at breastfeeding her. It kind of worked, but not really (the main problem I faced during my breastfeeding journey – a story for another blog).

Eventually I was given some tea and toast and then myself and Ruby were wheeled down to our ward. Andy was told to go home. Even though I was absolutely exhausted, I was terrified to go to sleep as I wanted to make sure Ruby was alright. But eventually I passed out somewhere around 5am. At 7am I was woken by the nurses and told that I needed to feed Ruby so that they could check her blood sugars. Something that is routine when the mother has had gestational diabetes. So I sat up and gave it ago. Something that I horribly failed at. Ruby was roaring and I couldn’t get her to latch on. To be honest, I had no idea how to do it. So I rang the bell and one of the nurses came in. Whoever she was, she was lovely. I completely broke down crying. I was tired, overwhelmed and upset that I couldn’t feed Ruby. I was also worried because she needed to be fed so she could have her sugars checked. I had already texted my mam to come up to the hospital. I wasn’t coping very well really. I felt like I had been hit by a bus. So when she got to the hospital she suggested to just give Ruby formula so that she could be checked out and continue to try breastfeeding. I had been thinking about doing that anyway, so I was delighted that she was also suggesting it. So that morning my mammy stayed with me, helped me shower, change and feed Ruby. Like any good Irish mammy, she looked after me well. Andy came back at about twelve with his mam. Everyone took turns with Ruby and helped me out. I am so glad my mam was there, as she was the one who spotted one or two issues with Ruby and mentioned her concerns to every doctor who came to do routine checks on her. Thankfully she did, as I don’t think I would have noticed Ruby’s blue arms and legs as soon as mam did. But I will go into that story in my final birth story post. We had a long and scary three weeks ahead of us. But thankfully with the support of each other and family, we got through it.

Until the next blog.

The Irish Mammy x

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Ruby’s Birth Story – Part 1

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Tuesday 3rd August 2105, a day I remember well. I couldn’t believe what I was looking at. I never thought anyone’s feet, let alone my own, could swell up so much. I had traveled down to Waterford for a weeks holiday with my parents, sister and her children. A quiet little holiday before Ruby Rose arrived into the world. We choose to go to Waterford simply because it was far enough away to create the feeling of a proper holiday but near enough for Andy to get me to the hospital should Ruby decide to arrive earlier than expected. I wasn’t due until August 26th, so no one really though we’d have any problems. Little did we know.

I had been experiencing slightly blurred vision the previous two days before hand, but thought nothing of it as my eye sight is fairly rubbish anyway. But then with the expansion of my feet the morning of the 3rd (they were literally as big as hobbit feet!) I began to worry a little bit and decided I’d should mention it to my mam, who immediately thought it was preeclampsia – meaning you can suffer from high blood pressure and apparently hobbit sized feet! So I spent the next day or two with my feet elevated as much as possible, with the hope that the swelling would go down. I was due to go home on Friday the 7th for a routine doctors appointment so I decided that I would just mention it then.

So Friday morning came and myself and Andy headed back to Newbridge for my appointment. At this stage the swelling was alternating between very swollen to not quite swollen, but it never really went down. At this stage my feet were really beginning to hurt, especially when walking and it felt like the skin on my feet was being stretched to its limit. Needless to say, my doctor took one look at me and confirmed preeclampsia. She also did some tests which showed protein in my urine. So I was  quickly shipped up to the Coombe Women and Infants Hospital in Dublin with a doctors letter. I was seen fairly quickly and a number of tests were done and some checks on Ruby. I was told that I would have to be admitted to do a 24 hour urine check to confirm preeclampsia. Even though they were pretty sure I had it.  But before I could be admitted my consultant had to come and check me out. This was at 7pm. I was sent out to a waiting room to wait there until he came. He arrived shortly after 12.30 am and didn’t even assess me. He just looked at my chart. This was extremely frustrating as I was waiting in a tiny room that fitted only four chairs in it. I had no where to put my feet up (which were now so swollen that they looked purple and I could no longer walk on them without help from Andy). I was also exhausted. By the time I got into a bed, it was between 1.00 and 1.30 am.

7am the next morning, I was woken and told that I needed to start the 24 hour urine test. As it was over the weekend I finally had a confirmation that it was definitely preeclampsia on Monday 10th at morning rounds. I had to spend most of my time with my feet elevated to help bring down the swelling which had started to travel up my legs to my knees. They also had to monitor my blood pressure very closely.  To top things off, my 37 week baby bump was measuring at 42weeks! It didn’t really help that I’m only 5ft and I had a large fibroid just outside my womb. Depending on where they are positioned, fibroids can make a baby bump bigger than it really is. Just to be sure, I was sent off for a scan to make sure there was no excess fluid. With everything thing that had happened so far, this really didn’t help with my nerves. But luckily, the bump was all baby. She was measuring very big, and tall. Her stomach measurements were a bit bigger than average – due to my gestational diabetes. So they began to talk about induction. I was a bit gutted as I really wanted to try for a natural birth (even though everyone kept telling me that I wouldn’t be able for it!).  I really wanted to be able to move around and try different positions and only wanted to use gas and air. Andy even had a €100 bet with me that I would beg for epidural – I made him a counter €100 bet that I wouldn’t need one. Mostly because of the idea of having to put a needle in my spine! The idea really terrified me! I also figured that if my sister can push out two babies with just gas and air that so could I. But it wasn’t to be. Because of the gestational diabetes and preeclampsia, I had to be monitored at all times during my labour. So I spent most of that Tuesday and Wednesday trying to get my head around the induction and what it entailed. I also spent much of my time bouncing up and down on a pilates ball that one of the midwife’s gave me to use – to help to encourage the baby’s head to move down and into the correct birthing position. I had no idea when I was going to be induced, I was just told it would happen at some stage.

On the Tuesday morning, during rounds, I was given a sweep by one of the female doctors on my medical team. To see how “favourable” I was – I had no idea how painful it would be. I remember thinking after it, that if I can’t handle that, how will I ever handle labour! But the doctor was lovely and explained that I was already starting to dilate and that things were looking good. But I still had no confirmation as to when I was to be induced. I had thought that if I was lucky, I’d be called on the Thursday or Friday. But 6.30 am on Wednesday morning I was woken up by one of the midwifes on duty and told that it was time. I got such a shock that I started to panic about trying to pack my bags for the delivery suite and I was worried about how long it would take Andy to get up to the hospital from home. The midwife calmed me down and assured me it would still be a while before everything kicked off. So with her advice, I waddled off down the corridor to my delivery suit. I rang Andy and filled him in on the situation. He told me that he would be up at the hospital at around 10am. Things would just be starting to kick off by then. Safe with the knowledge that Andy would be with me by the time any pains would start, I ate the breakfast that was brought to me, tried to keep myself as calm as possible and let the nurses set me up for the day ahead. But you will have to wait until part two for he rest of that story.

Until the next blog.

The Irish Mammy x

Parenting

Wait…you’re not pregnant? Gulp

About this time (8pm) two years ago I was busy scrubbing out my oven. Cleaning, and I mean MAJOR cleaning, seems to be something that I tend to do in times of shock, upset or sheer panic! In this instance it was due to pure shock and a little bit of panic, if I’m honest. I had just found out that I was about 4-5 weeks pregnant.

Its funny though, if you really listen to your body, it can tell you exactly what’s going on without taking any tests at all. I’d say about three weeks prior, while driving to work, I developed an awful feeling of nausea. This happened for about three mornings in a row and I remember thinking “gosh I’m not pregnant? Ah sure I couldn’t be”. And that was that. I pushed the thought to the back of my mind. But slowly as the weeks went on, even though I wasn’t feeling very nauseous, my body was giving me major signals that something was definitely going on. I was due the old monthlies about four days before Christmas Eve. And even though I had a really strong gut feeling that in fact I probably was pregnant, I said I’d wait to see if they showed. Four days in and no sign. I knew. But I still pushed off taking the dreaded pregnancy test. Cause you know, that made it real. And technically it wasn’t real until the test was done and showed those two little lines.

So Christmas Day came. I didn’t enjoy it at all. All I could think of was taking the dreaded test. I was even thinking of putting it off until after New Year’s Eve. But to be honest, with the knowledge that I would probably be out having a few drinks on New Year’s Eve and the possibility of being pregnant – my conscious wouldn’t allow me. So the next morning, St. Stephen’s Day 2014, as soon as the shops were open I set off to buy a pregnancy test (I bought six and did every single one of them! – just to be sure!). And just as I thought, they were all positive and telling me I was approximately 4-5 weeks along. I was numb. Then I realised that I had to tell Andy. So, later that night, after I had finished cleaning my now sparkling  oven, I asked Andy to come into the kitchen because I needed to talk to him about something. I must have been acting strange or had a funny look on my face, because before I even opened my mouth he said “wait…you’re not pregnant are you?”. And with that I broke down crying, and I mean bawled my eyes out. The stress and fear that I had been bottling up over the last few weeks just came pouring out. I think it was also the realisation of hearing someone else say it aloud that made it more real to me. I have to say, Andy was great about it. Any fear and panic that he was feeling, defiantly didn’t show. He was exactly what I needed. We had a long chat about everything late into the night and over the next week, discussing all our options. In the end we decided that this was something that we both wanted. It was something we had already started to bring up in conversation nearly a year previous. We just hadn’t planned on it happening so soon! But they say everything happens for a reason. Something I firmly believe.

The next seven weeks were pretty tough. We decided not to tell anyone until we had our 12 week scan. Just to make sure that everything was ok and was going to plan. But hiding the fact that I was expecting was incredibly hard. I had severe morning sickness – or in my case, all day sickness. From about six weeks until around 16 weeks was very bad. The drive to work in the mornings was particularly tough. Let’s just say I had to pull the car over at least twice every morning. The only food I seemed to be able to keep down were ginger biscuits first thing in the morning and porraige (just about). The trick was to eat little and often – to stop any vomiting sessions. But nothing worked for the nausea. The only time I craved anything was during these months. I craved Eddie Rockets M50 burgers and chicken super noodles!! Not the best thing to be eating, but they stayed down!

So the 12 week scan day arrived. I was weighed, measured and asked every question under the sun and it turned out I was a week further along than I thought. I was 13 weeks and due on the 26th of August. So we headed home to tell our families. They were shocked as they hadn’t expected it so soon, but happy. My mam had her suspicions – mammies alway know. So I spent the next months working every hour under the sun, reading every pregnancy book available and sleeping! I was so tired. I would come in from work and pretty much sleep on the couch until bed time and sleep again until morning. Although, for the last two months of the pregnancy I had insomnia. I would wake up at about 2am in the morning and fall back to sleep at about 5.30/6am and sure then I was up at 7am for work. I was beyond exhausted.

I also found out that I had developed pregnancy diabetes. Something I was very upset about. EVERYTHING I ate had to be monitored and carefully selected. I found this the toughest part of the pregnancy (well, second toughest after the morning sickness). But it was worth it for the health of my baby. The good news though, was that it went away once Ruby arrived – within two hours after she was born. But it kind of messed up my birth plan. I had an idea that I wanted to move around and change positions etc and to have as natural a delivery as possible. But because of the diabetes I had to be monitored during the delivery at all times. So that idea went out the window fairly quickly. But that story is for my next blog. Lets just say, things didn’t go quite to plan in the run up to, during or after my pregnancy.

Until the next blog.

The Irish Mammy x