I’ve had so many ‘Ask Bec’ questions relating to having my baby Billie (conception, routines, breastfeeding etc), that I thought I’d put most of the info together in one post. So far, she has been an absolute dream and I cannot believe how much different my experience has been this time compared to last.
If you’ve been following this blog from the early days you’d know that I wasn’t really a fan of newborns. In fact I claimed them to be ‘semi-torturous’ (read earlier post here). Having had my second child now and so far at almost 2 weeks old, she has been perfect and I have found it much easier. Now this really got me thinking about how hard it is being a first time parent compared to a second time. In a nutshell (and I don’t want to jinx myself here) everything has been easier and I feel bloody fantastic. I am getting 7-8 hours sleep a night, leaving the house every day, putting on make-up, getting out of my pj’s (this didn’t happen with Oscar for weeks!) and generally just going about my everyday life with a new baby in tow. I wasn’t expecting this!
With Oscar I remember not really leaving the house until he was 6 weeks old. Forget achieving anything during the day- my hours were spent feeding, burping, settling, mopping up vomit and generally just feeling exhausted and anxious about whether my life would ever go back to normal. Would I ever sleep for more than 4 hours again? Is my gorgeous baby getting enough food? Am I expressing too much/too little? Should I switch to formula to help him sleep? Is my breastmilk causing him reflux? When will he sleep through the night? Will I ever be able to leave the house without taking an hour just to get out of the front door? Argh- while he was a happy, healthy baby, I found the adjustment huge and was dreading the newborn stage with Billie. However, with experience behind me, she has been a breeze and it is largely due to the fact that I know what I’m doing. I’m far less anxious (like, not at all) and am really living in the moment. I am loving the night feeds and early mornings as I know she’ll be a big girl soon and sleeping through the night so I’m cherishing this newborn stage instead of wishing it away like I did with Oscar. I remember with Oscar, my husband and I would look at each other after another sleepless night and say “we are never, ever having another kid ever again,” although this changed as soon as he hit 6 weeks. With Billie, I was hitting my husband up for a third baby straight after delivering her (like literally within a couple of minutes). I just loved meeting our precious bundle and want to do it over and over again.
So a comparison between my two experiences below:
Oscar- Pretty uneventful pregnancy. Felt a little tired at the start, no morning sickness or nausea and I exercised up until I had him. My only complaint would be my large abdominal separation at around 8cm. He was 7 days early and came naturally.
Billie- I felt perhaps a tad nauseas in the beginning but nothing to complain about. I was EXHAUSTED around the 28 week mark and caught a virus and had a really sore back. I thought I’d slipped a disc but it turned out to be viral and I was ordered to take my foot of the accelerator and slow down as I was working so much and was too busy. As her head was engaged from so early on I had shocking spasms near the cervix for the last 2 months and literally had to go to the toilet every 15 minutes- gah! My abdominal separation got to 8cm again but thank god, was already down to 2cm the day after I delivered her (thank you SRC Recovery Shorts).
Oscar- Run of the mill delivery. Waters broke at home and contractions started immediately, had an epidural 5 hours in and he was delivered 2 hours later so a 7 hour labour in total.
Billie- I was induced 10 days early as I had reduced amniotic fluid around the baby which was discovered at my 38 week scan. Given she was full term (aka fully cooked) and ready to go, my Obstetrician induced me on Saturday morning, Feb 1st. It was so lovely finding out in our Friday arvo appointment that I was to be induced the next morning as it meant my husband and I could go home, get the house in order (wash dishes, vacuum, clean sheets, do the washing etc) and organise for my mother and father-in-law to come over first thing Saturday morning and look after Oscar. It felt like Xmas Eve going to bed on the Friday knowing that we would meet our baby in the morning. I woke up on the Saturday, we had a coffee and drove in to the hospital- how civilised! No emergency, no Punt Rd traffic and I was going to get my epidural! haha. I had requested for the anaesthetist to be there when I got there to put the epidural in straight away- no mucking around this time. So for all those that asked- yes, I got my epidural in time. After my epi was in, Len, my Ob came in to put the gel on my cervix to start the induction but when he checked me I was already 1cm dilated. This was great as it meant I was about to come into labour naturally anyway and that Billie was more than ready to come out. So he broke my waters and away I went. Billie was delivered 3 hours later. I didn’t feel a thing. It was perfect. The epidural took longer to wear off than my actual labour. Len said I might be doing a Punt Rd delivery next time as it will be quicker again- eek!
Post Birth pain/feeding:
Oscar- OUCH is all I can say. Side lying was definitely my ‘go-to’ position for 2 weeks post birth and forget standing up, I literally felt like my insides would fall out. There was nobody getting more use out of that ice machine at the Freemasons than me. Everything was on fire, I couldn’t sit, I couldn’t stand- gosh it hurt! After a couple of weeks I was up and about and all good.
Billie- I was dreading my epidural wearing off because I knew the pain was coming but then…. nothing. I could not believe it- I felt amazing. I could sit on my bottom, stand, move around, squat, sit cross legged on the floor and play trucks with Oscar straight after birth. The midwife came in and her eyes almost popped out of her head, “What are you doing down there?!” she asked. “Umm, playing trucks?” I replied. haha. I didn’t have a single Panadol or any ice at all in my recovery- I still can’t believe that I squeezed a baby out of there given the non existent post birth pain factor. Weird huh?
What I did need a panadol for was my after birth contractions when I was breastfeeding Billie- woah mumma! My Ob and midwife warned me that because my labour was so quick and because it was my second baby, the after birth contractions might be pretty intense. Mine were through the roof but I couldn’t complain about them- I’d had a pain free experience so far so it was about time I sucked up some of the strong stuff!
Oscar- I felt a mix of emotions after delivering Oscar. Bewilderment, anxiety, stress, elation, gratitude, happiness. I was quite overwhelmed by the fact I’d brought a new person into the world and had no idea what I was doing. I’m a control freak and my life is planned out like nobody’s business. To have this baby who I couldn’t control and whose very survival depended on me was overwhelming. Throw in sleepless nights and hormones and by day 4 post birth, boy did I cry. Like I cried ALL day. I didn’t even know what I was crying about- I think I was laughing at myself through most of it because it got quite comical how crappy I was feeling. Oh yes, those baby blues kicked my ass! My mum warned me about them and my girlfriends too, “Oh you just wait until day 3,4,5- your milk comes in and your hormones go crazy. You become a blubbering mess.” Umm tick, tick, tick. By day 5/6 I was ok- thank god.
Billie- I was waiting for the hormones to send me crazy again but it didn’t happen this time. My milk came in and I felt fine. I remember I had a little teary the night she was born when I was with her by myself in my hospital room. They were happy tears as I just felt so lucky. Too lucky in fact. I felt extremely grateful for the fact that I now had two beautiful, healthy children, a loving husband and a supportive family. I felt lucky to have access to the best hospital and the most wonderful Obstetrician and midwife on the planet. I felt blessed to have had a quick, pain free birth and a gorgeous baby girl- a GIRL!!! I also felt super duper lucky that I’d be taking my new little family home to our brand new house in our wonderful suburb in the best city in the world. Then I felt sad for the people who can’t conceive, who have sick children, who have no home or food and are subjected to all sorts of terrible life conditions. As I looked down at my little girl I felt like the luckiest lady in the world and it’s a feeling I will never take for granted.
Oscar- Ahhh what a nightmare. I hated breastfeeding him. We didn’t ‘gel’ very well. I had an over supply of milk and he had trouble latching on. I got mastitis and hated not knowing how many mls he was getting at feeds. He seemed to react to foods I ate and would scream while I tried to feed him. Gosh it was stressful. I hired a hospital grade breast pump and would express 3-4 times a day and bottle feed him my breastmilk so I could keep tabs of exactly how many mls he’d had (remember I said I was a control freak?). In hindsight, expressing was the worst thing I could have done. I became a slave to that bloody pump and it was shocking for my boobs. They hurt so much. Breasts are made to feed babies, not pumps. As I was expressing so much my breasts were always so full of milk as I kept tricking my brain into producing more and more which is what I didn’t need. My husband would feed Oscar a bottle of formula at 10pm every night so I could go to bed early and Oscar would sleep for a longer time as his tummy would be fuller for longer. I gave up breastfeeding at 6 weeks as it was too hard, was stressing me out and once I got the mastitis, that was the final nail in the coffin. I felt relieved when I made the decision to move exclusively to formula.
Billie- Breastfeeding is a dream! She is so good at it and we are a great team. She feeds every 3-4 hours and my husband gives her a bottle of formula every night at 10pm so I can go to bed early. I do not express at all, I simply just don’t feed her at 10pm and my breasts get very full by my next feed (like popping and leaking everywhere) but I don’t mind at all. They have settled down so much and are half the size they were when I was feeding Oscar. Billie is getting plenty of breast milk and put on 15% of her body weight in the last week alone- she is getting plenty. I love that she takes the bottle at 10pm as it gives me a rest and also means that she’ll be easy for family members to look after in the future as the bottle is no problem for her. One of my top tips would be getting the bottle into your babies early if you plan on going out, working, attending a function without your baby etc. I think the reason Billie is going so well breast feeding is because I’m so relaxed about it and am enjoying the bonding time with her.
Oscar and Billie: I use the same routine and it’s simple. Feed 3-4 hourly during the day. If they are asleep I will wake them and feed them- they need the calories. The sooner they put on weight the sooner they’ll be able to sustain sleeping for longer periods at night. I like to manipulate the sleep times so that they are shorter during the day (by feeding them every 3-4 hours) and letting them go longer at night. Billie is almost 2 weeks old and is sleeping anywhere from 5-7 hours straight overnight.
Oscar- I slept with one right by my side. That annoying thing kept me up all night even when he was sleeping. Gosh babies are noisy! Every movement or sound I’d be studying the monitor when I should have been sleeping- Oscar didn’t need me, he wasn’t crying. When he did cry I could hear him from down the hall way anyway. That monitor was almost as bad as the breast pump! Good riddance.
Billie- No baby monitor. I don’t need to hear her little noises or grizzles throughout the night. When she cries and needs me I hear her from my bedroom. This ensures I have a solid night’s sleep. Much better!