Six Months of Awesomeness

I’ve had my precious boy for six months.

So I think it’s time to take a minute and recognise how awesome I am for getting here.

I survived pregnancy with symptoms wildly exacerbated by the fibro. I also got married and found out I was severely iron deficient at week 28. The entire third trimester in which my back hurt so much that I couldn’t sit down for long periods of time.

I endured the labour and delivery, which included 20 hours of the worst back pain I’ve ever known. And the physical recovery that spanned further months afterward.

At week three, when my boy went back into hospital with an unknown problem that ended up requiring a minor operation, I coped. The nights that I stayed with him, not sleeping because he was vomiting so forcefully and so regularly. The nights that I stayed at home and expressed every three hours so that I would have food for him when he was ready.

Everything that is part of the new mama experience, not sleeping and not resting enough.

I’ve done it. I’ve conquered it. For many of those days I had a sore neck, headaches, nausea, aching legs and back and shoulders. For more still I was tired right down to my bones. For some I had an upset stomach,  if my neck was super bad I’d also be dizzy.

I am so unbelievably proud of myself.

I’ve also learnt so many things and developed as a person.

If you’re in that battle that is a new baby or pregnancy, know that you can do it. One day at a time, one step at a time. You will get through it. Remember to look after yourself, you need your strength to look after your beautiful baby.

Mama’s who have done the baby journey with additional issues are AMAZING!

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God Gave This Baby to Me

If you could articulate just what is involved in having a newborn baby, people would think it’s impossible. The sheer amount of hours spent awake, the guessing games, trying to feed this being, trying to guess what the crying means, the laundry it creates…it’s a lot.

But it is one of life’s odd paradoxes. For me it was the worst and best time of my life.

I’ve always been honest with how hard it has been for me, especially with the additional pain and fatigue. But at the same time, I am so in love with this little guy.

It has been the most amazing learning curve.

God gave this baby to me.

That’s a huge responsibility!

I have been looking back at photos and there are some taken on the second, third and fourth days. These are days I couldn’t sleep, baby struggled with getting enough food and then the wind it caused. I had tremendous amounts of pain. Yet in these photos I am transfixed by the little guy. I am absolutely in awe of him.

That’s what people tend to remember years later.

I’m unsure if I could do it all over again. If I could handle the physicality of having another child and if I could manage everything plus the little guy I already have been given.

He’s my blessing. He’s been a lot of work and it’s still going. But he was given to me. And I thank God for him everyday.


This is an old post when I was first blogging, if you would to see more posts, search the Category bar for “baby” and “parenting”. You might also like my Pregnancy and Fibromyalgia resource page.

Success Where I Can Take It

My little guy has been rather hard for about six weeks now. First he had a virus, then his tummy was upset from the virus and he had lactose free formula for several weeks. During this time he began waking multiple times in the night. And most recently his sleeping habits during the day have deteriorated.

Last night, after another epic one hour battle to get to sleep, he had a 10pm dream feed and then didn’t wake again until 7am! I was so happy when I woke up!

This morning he was so happy and spent a good 10 minutes on his play mat alone. This is something that went out the window with his virus, independent time.

So I’m having a rather nice morning, leaving my boy to my parents so I can go to the Physio. I also got a coffee on my way – it is delicious.

Thankful for a nice morning after a hard period!

A Letter to Midwives

I remember it vividly. Sitting in a low, grey chair, behind a curtain with a double breast pump at work, tears streaming down my face. I started crying that morning and couldn’t stop.

It was three days after a hard pregnancy and delivery, and I’d had very little sleep.

The midwife said my fibromyalgia must be pretty bad.

I didn’t say anything at the time, but I can’t stop thinking about it.

I want to tell her that it’s not.

I usually cope very well. But she saw me on one of the worst days of my life. After a pregnancy of increasing pain and decreasing sleep. After a hard labour. After three days of very little sleep, with a baby who couldn’t get enough food from me. Hideous pain in my breasts and in my stitches. To top it off my husband wasn’t allowed to stay. So I was alone with this baby from 9pm to 9am.

The midwives on the nightshift didn’t help very much. They latched baby on and left. They didn’t see the pain caused by his latch becoming shallower as he drank. If I took him off to try to re latch, he’d refuse it.

On that last day the best things happened. And only because I couldn’t stop crying.

They taught me to express milk for my baby to drink via the bottle. This meant I was able to see that my baby had enough food, that I could bother my very sore breasts only three-hourly and that I had an element of control.

This enabled me to give my baby breastmilk for eight weeks, instead of just that first week.

We need options. I was committed to feeding my baby, but I needed the option to help me do that. I am so thankful for this, so thankful that they were not judgemental. Cos damn, breastfeeding hurt me!

They also let my husband stay on the final night.

He is why I managed. We took turns feeding, so I got some sleep. I also had a person to experience it all with me. Alone, in pain, with a screaming baby is not a key for coping.

What I want to tell all midwives is that my fibromyalgia isn’t so bad. But there are people who have it worse.

Please educate yourselves so that you can help. Even if you know enough to know that the husband or a support person needs to stay to help.

A person with fibromyalgia is likely to have a higher perception of the pain.
They are more likely to have had a very painful pregnancy.
They are more prone to emotional changes – when you’re in a lot of pain and so tired you can’t think straight, you can’t keep your emotions on an even keel.

So please know this. Please be aware. We need a little extra help.

Teething Baby

I’ve taken an unexpected break from posting, my baby has required all of my energy and then some for a few weeks. He’s been teething and had a virus, which led to him being on lactose free formula for a while to rebalance his tum.

He’s needed a lot of mama cuddles and decided that independent time is currently not an option.

So I’m going with it.

He’s getting a vaccination tomorrow to protect him from potential exposure to illnesses that are more prevalent where his father’s family come from. Apparently he’ll be quite sore for a while. Next week he will be having his five month vaccinations.

So I fully expect my attention and energy to be on him. This is what motherhood is, especially as a mama with fibro/CFS, you give your limited energy pennies to your precious little buddy.

My neck has been a bit sad and I’ve been almost overwhelmingly tired from two weeks of either not enough sleep or just enough sleep. It’s hard to catch up when you never have more than your functioning quota. Mine’s 8-9 hours, this makes life nicer for me.

This is a useful piece of advice. Find your ideal sleeping quota and strive for it. Now that my boy is pretty set in his 7ish to 6am night routine (waking once or twice) he won’t increase this, even when he’s up a long time in the night. This means that some nights now, I get less sleep than I did when he woke four-hourly!

If you can get away with it, if necessary, take all the time you need to get your quota. Even if you spend 12 hours trying to get 8 broken hours, it’s worth it!

Tips to Cope With a Fussy Baby When You’re Sore

It’s hard enough to be a mama with a fussy baby, let alone when you’re sore and beyond exhausted. Having a new baby is a soul-stretching time, you find the bottom of your energy reserves. They require a lot of love, time, energy and guesswork.

Here are my tips to cope with a fussy baby when you are getting to the end of that tether.

tips to cope with a fussy baby when you're sore

When your baby is fussy and you can’t fix it (they’re not hungry, windy, have a dirty nappy etc.), and you’re beside yourself, give these suggestions a try:

  1. Sit on floor with them – play with them, distract them with every toy you can think of. This will buy you some time and give your (possibly) aching shoulders a rest from carrying baby.
  2. Sing or play lullabies and make it a dance party (even if you’re sitting).
  3. Bath time – water play can calm young ones right now. Get some bubbles and toys and go for it. You could even make the bath deep enough for you and get in with them. I used to leave the baby towel laid out on the bathmat ready for when we got out and put my dressing gown over my towel while I dress them.
  4. Take a gentle walk – if they’re soothed by the pushchair you can take a short walk. It might put them to sleep. Or at least give you some time off. You’ll also get the benefits of fresh air.
  5. Jolly jumper – when they’re big enough this can buy you another 10 minutes. Or an activity center they can sit in. See my post on necessary baby items for suggestions.
  6. Rocking chair – when you’re too tired to jiggle and sway this is a lifesaver!
  7. Swaddle and lie down – when your reserves are at the end and you’re too sore to try the rocking, swaying or singing anymore, swaddle baby tightly and lie down. Whether they’re in their cot or with you in bed.
  8. Call in the cavalry – is there someone you can call for some help?

If they’re not going to sleep or calming down and you need more rest, stay in bed for 15 minutes. You can’t care for the baby if you’re over your limit. Perhaps put on a guided meditation to follow for 10-15 minutes to supercharge the rest.

Other posts for parenting with chronic illness:

Tips for Coping with a Newborn and Fibromyalgia (Chronic Pain and Chronic Fatigue)

Pumping or Expressing for Your Baby: Parenting (Fibromyalgia or Not)

How to Cope with Two Tiny Children, Symphysis Pubis Disorder and Fibromyalgia

And please remember it will pass. They will grow up and the inexplicable crying will pass. You’ll make it!

Let us know your tips to add to the list?

Women, Jobs and Babies

Even with a fantastic husband, the burden of care of our baby is on me.

I never thought too much about feminism until I had a baby. I was, and remain grateful to the women pioneers who enabled me to vote, work and be independent.

Simone de Beauvoir believed that the two keys for safeguarding women’s freedom are paid work and contraception. (Deborah G. Felder’s analysis in A Bookshelf of Our Own p.137)

But now that I’m a mama I’m feeling the burden of being “allowed” to work. It’s expected. It’s necessary for our economic survival.

There hasn’t yet been a shift in the balance of responsibility for children.

I will still be the main caregiver.

I must somehow get up to him in the middle of the night, get up early, get him ready, work, get him through the evening grumps until his bedtime and somehow fit in some housework! (Never mind any hobbies – how I miss reading for longer than 10 minute stints!)

All while having chronic pain and fatigue – that is aggravated by my work.
I’m somewhat lucky, in that I am currently contracting and can earn (just) enough to enable me to work 20-25 hours. But full time would be ideal in helping to pay down a mortgage that’s had three interest rate rises this year.

Unfortunately I can’t physically cope with full time work. This is something my husband struggles with in living with me and the fibro/chronic fatigue.

The current circumstances are hard enough for me physically – my husband working 10 hour shifts, coming home exhausted, and me with our baby nearly 24/7.

In addition to this, there is an expectation that women breastfeed until baby is six or even 12 months.

Where are we to get the energy from? How are we to exercise? See friends? Pursue a hobby?

I have no answers. But this superwoman expectation is ridiculous.

Winter

Our home is feeling the grip of winter. The grey, the wind and the rain pull me down. The cold seeps into my centre and even my bones are cold and tired.
pivotcon.com
pivotcon.com

I’m finding that the sleep deprivation that comes with the mama territory, plus the fullness of the job of keeping my little being, and the cold of winter are conspiring to bring me down.

The fatigue and lethargy I’m experiencing is even chipping away at my goals and desires.

In my years battling fibro/chronic fatigue, I have (proudly) managed to accomplish much. The secret is passion, huge amounts of passion.

Now I am consumed with my boy. He is a challenge, he is tiring, he is the most exquisite creature I have ever laid eyes upon – but he is all-consuming.

Added to this, my husband is working 10 hour shifts on a rotating cycle of nights, days and weekends (in a fairly physical job). So he is exhausted.

So my most immediate goal is surviving winter. Keep warm. Retain energy. Love my boys. Spring will soon be here.

Sometimes

Sometimes you have hard days. Sometimes you have so many that they form a week.

Sometimes it is so hard you want to cry.

Just as you think you’re coping, he changes and you have to readjust again.

Right when you think you could reintroduce some work so your company’s work opportunities don’t vanish, he shows you that he’s your (more than) full time job.

Sometimes parenthood is the hardest job in the world.

Today is sometimes.

Things They Didn’t Tell Me

Having a baby is a constant barrage of new experiences. From learning you’re pregnant to the first almost full night’s sleep in months there are millions of things to learn. If I choose to do it again, there’s a lot I’ll change with the power of knowledge.
Here’s a few things I’ve learnt that they didn’t tell me:
  • The beginning of your pregnancy can feel like the beginning stages of your period (therefore you keep thinking it’s coming, when it’s not).
  • Nothing can prepare you for the fatigue you suffer in the first trimester (not even having chronic fatigue for years).
  • They say the second trimester is the “golden” trimester – they lied. (The fatigue didn’t recede and the pain increased with my size from week 24.)
  • It’s not discomfort, it’s pain.
  • Labour is not always made up of contained plots of pain that slowly increases in intensity. You can have severe, unrelenting backache the entire labour, in addition to the contractions (which can start with a bang at 5 minutes apart).
  • Labour is not necessarily the worst part. After 24 hours the baby begins to scream. And doesn’t stop. You need to produce milk for this tiny dictator.
  • You need to care for the baby in between running to the bathroom in order to deal with the profuse bleeding (they didn’t exaggerate about that) and hope the alkalising stuff worked so that your poor stitches don’t burn – on almost no sleep.
  • Breastfeeding DOES hurt. (And. although you will be judged, choose what works for you and your baby, we have choices now, so use them – a fantastic piece of advice from my midwife)
  • It’s so so so hard to smile and nod at unwanted advice, particularly when it’s to feed your baby -who is actually desperately windy.
  • Your stitches, while healed after several weeks, will still ache when you’re tired. Which is almost all of the time.
  • How gobsmacked you will be when your small tyrant, who kept you up most of the night, smiles properly for the first time.
  • There are no words that can describe how you feel when your baby begins watching you for sustained periods and responds to your smiles, words and touch.

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I am so in love with my boy. I can’t believe he is mine! But I am in no rush to replicate the process!