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Fibro Mama Pregnancy Diaries: The Delivery

It’s been nearly a year since I had my second baby. It has taken this long to touch up and post all of my pregnancy diaries! You can find all of these posts on my Fibro Mama Pregnancy Diaries page

The deliveryMy birth story wasn’t exactly what I wanted but it was better than the first one.

32 hours of extreme back pain and painful contractions produced a beautiful 3.1 kg baby.

I couldn’t get to 4 centimetres dilation at home like you’re supposed to. I managed to wait until 3 centimetres at which point I needed help. We found out in the end the reason for the pain and lack of dilation that baby had the cord wrapped around him three times, probably stopping him from engaging.

It took a lot of intervention to get him down and out, but I managed to do it without a cesarean.

While it was a long, hard, painful labour, I can clearly recall the care of the many professionals I encountered, my midwife being the lead. I felt looked after and that my baby was being carefully monitored. The after care, during which I haemorrhaged, was also spectacular. This is what I remember the most from my experience. And it was dramatically different from my first labour, for this I’m grateful.

We spent a night in hospital, where I had fluids and an iron transfusion, and a night at a maternity centre. My pain levels in my low back and glutes were through the roof until we got home and I could move freely from comfortable bed to comfortable chair (and take pain killers less rigidly, but still according to instructions). It wasn’t until I saw the physiotherapist at four weeks that we realised I had symphisis pubis disorder which meant my pelvis spread too far, presumably due to the prolonged back labour. This caused severe pain at first and gradually reduced to mild with reduced range of movement and lots of pelvic tilts.

As it is with childbirth, so it is with fibromyalgia, we are all different and we can’t look for “normal” because there is no normal. There are patterns, but there’s no normal.

We must learn to listen to our body and trust that little voice that guides us. It can take some time to hear it, as there are plenty of louder voices itching to tell us what to do. But, if we pay attention, we will know what to do.

I knew I couldn’t cope any longer and that the pain was abnormal for so early in the labour. I will always be thankful that I pushed to go in and that the midwife listened.

Likewise, I am so thankful that I learned to hear my little voice and to regard myself as the expert with my experience of Fibromyalgia. And as the result of listening to this voice in labour is a healthy baby, the outcome of listening with Fibromyalgia is much better health.

 


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Dear Future Daddies

Dear Future Daddies

Congratulations! This is going to be such a soul-stretching, exciting time in your life. Your relationship will be tested and strengthened. You’ll learn more about yourself in these months than your whole life combined.

I have a request for you. Please, please, please be your partner’s champion.

Support her in her pregnancy. You’ll never know the pain and energy drain that pregnancy is. But try to be compassionate. 

Be her rock in the delivery. She will be in the worst pain imaginable. You need to be the safety in her storm. There will be decisions to make and there may be people you need to remove from the room. Do your homework, solidify your partner’s wishes beforehand and try to help her stick to them (unless it’s her who wants to change!).

In the first few weeks at home with your precious, potentially persistently crying bundle, be your wife’s superhero. She is recovering from delivery, she is learning to feed, she is beyond exhausted and there will be a deluge of well-meaning advice.

Be the guard dog. Limit visitors. Avoid them in the first two weeks if you can. And limit their time while they’re there. Watch your partner. If she seems tired or like she just wants to deal with the baby without prying eyes, send them off.

Be her advocate. No matter how you choose to feed your baby, advocate for her. Support this. Yes, breast milk is best. But there are many options and it is a two person relationship – mama and baby are equally important here.

If breast feeding doesn’t work or your wife hates it or your baby doesn’t take to it – whatever reason, then you support the formula route too.

It is your job to protect her from the people that would give their two cents worth. Choose your people to listen to and help your wife say, “we’re following the advice of…(gp, midwife, plunket nurse, mother etc)”

Your attitude and your support will be vital for your new mama. If she must fight you too, it will be the hardest time in the world for her. She won’t enjoy it. She won’t feel loved. She’ll feel alone. There will be some fluctuating hormones, this is the time to support her and honour her feelings. If she cries, hold her. If she feels bombarded, fix it. If she feels happy, celebrate with her.

Of course, you’re important too. I’m just offering the perspective of a new mama with fibromyalgia. What I wished for myself and didn’t always get. 

Good luck!

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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.

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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!

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Delivered

We were blessed with our beautiful baby boy on 19 April, born after 37 weeks and 3 days.
I awoke with a shock at midnight on Good Friday with severe back pain and contractions. To cut a 19 hour story short, the extreme back pain lasted the entire labour, the epidural failed, he was the wrong way round and had his head in an awkward position. He was born weighing a healthy 7 pd 7oz.

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Unfortunately he had a problem with wind from the beginning, which degenerated into severe vomiting by his 18th day. On his third week anniversary he was admitted into hospital for tests that eventually revealed he had pyloric stenosis. An operation to trim the muscle in his stomach that had gotten too thick (a problem for about 3 in 1000 babies, predominantly in first born boys) enabled food to pass from the stomach to the intestines again.

At last, just before his fourth week begins, we can take him home and effectively meet him and learn all about him again. He’s like a new baby.

I am so in love with this little being!

My pain and fatigue levels were doing rather well up until our second hospital stay. With the stress of my precious baby being sick and sleepless nights ensuring he didn’t choke on his vomit, a flare up has ensued. But, thank God for my husband! He has done most of the night shifts at the hospital so I can sleep and express breast milk for baby. I never could have survived if not for him. He has been AMAZING!

The combination of my husband’s help, choosing to express and then feed via the bottle and my mother-in-law cooking our meals has enabled me to survive and enjoy my baby. I am so thankful, so blessed, so happy.

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