Archive | April, 2014

Reflux II: The Revenge

27 Apr

My second baby is now 3 weeks old and early this morning we did the sleep-deprived-new-parent dash to A&E. Following his pneumothorax and associated breathing problems at birth, some rapid and shallow breathing and grunting had me worried.

The baby, as is usual in these circumstances, seemed absolutely fine and dandy as he was examined by a health care assistant, then a nurse, a doctor and finally the paediatric registrar on duty.

His oxygen levels were good, he’s feeding, pooing, weeing, waking, all the things they ask for. No rash, no temperature, no turning blue. All good. The paediatrician quizzed me about his feeding behaviours and drops the bombshell I hadn’t been expecting.

It sounds like reflux.

Now, I know of this beast. My daughter suffered terribly with reflux for months. She was medicated and gavisconed. I spent weeks constantly smelling ever so slightly of vomit. The was vomit on my sofa, my carpet, in my shoes, on my cat. My washing machine and tumble drier were my greatest allies. And now we are here again.


Reflux, in an otherwise healthy, sturdy baby isn’t dangerous in any way, but it is bleak as bleak can be. Seeing your newborn in discomfort and pain is horrible. The 3 hour feeding schedule is gruelling. Refluxy babies benefit from a ‘little and often’ approach to milk. My (not so little) lad does not appreciate this at all. Hs used to demanding food and getting as much as he wants. The 90ml servings he’s now receiving are not hitting the spot. He’s miserable. I’m not far behind him. 😦

Although I suffered this fresh hell with my daughter, I’m not so anxious this time round. My girl was a scrawny little thing. My boy is 5kg at 3weeks old, and he should only have been born last Monday. He will cope, as will I. We both might get regurgitated milk in our ears and hair, but as with everything This Too Shall Pass. I’m never more than 50cm away from a packet of wet wipes.

I’m trying to look at the positives. His breathing is fine. He’s big and strong. I’ve done this before and I can do it again. We will survive.

The sleep deprivation is the biggest problem. At 3am everything seems so terrible, so hard to deal with. It’s easy to feel resentment, to feel helpless and hopeless, but with the early light of a new day I always realise I can do this. I have to.

I get up, get dressed, put laundry and eyeliner on and get on with my day. It’s not easy, but it’s doable. So I’m doing it.

I’m so glad I bought my husband a fancy coffee machine at Christmas.


Breast is Best: II. One mum vs the NHS.

9 Apr

My baby was born 3 days ago and has spent those precious, irretrievable days in an incubator. Uncuddled, barely touched by me for the first day of his life, attached to tubes, wires, monitors, flashing numbers and alarms.

He is now getting better and I change his nappy through little windows in the side of the plastic box like something from the Crystal Maze. I get him out to quickly feed him, smelling him, gently squeezing him and looking into his barely open shark eyes.

The SCBU staff are helping me to establish breastfeeding. Because as the NHS constantly preach BREAST IS BEST. It’s getting there. Slowly. It’s complicated.

It’s about to get more complicated. Or a lot less complicated. I’m not sure.
The post natal ward want to discharge me and send me home, 5 miles away, 3 days after an emergency caesarian section, with swollen legs and high blood pressure. And with a sick baby in an incubator downstairs.

I can not drive following my surgery. I’d need to walk for 15 minutes (it’d probably currently take me 25 at least) and take 2 busses to get here on public transport. It’d take at least an hour, much longer at rush hour.

My baby is being fed on demand and at least every 4 hours. How is this supposed to work?

So far, my imminent eviction is a “discussion” that needs to be had. I understand they need the bed but I’m not going to give it up easily.

Leaving the hospital will make breastfeeding nigh on impossible to establish. There are rooms attached to SCBU for women in my situation, but they are apparently full.

It’s been hard enough living on a postnatal ward with an empty cot at my bedside. It’s cruel to expect me to leave.

I will blog again when I have more information, but if the NHS is directly responsible for preventing me from breastfeeding my sick baby I will kick up a big, loud fuss.

I will not go quietly.

More to follow.


Handle with (Special) Care.

8 Apr

Inglorious Baby #2 arrived on Sunday, after much drama. As expected, he’s a big lad, weighing a healthy 9lb 8oz. But unfortunately, healthy isn’t fully accurate.

Now for the science bit. My son has a pneumothorax, which is where air becomes trapped inside the chest cavity, preventing the lungs from working properly. He’s in SCBU, in an incubator, covered in wires, hooked up to monitors and being fed via a glucose drip. Thank god he’s a chunky monkey. He looks twice the size of most of the other teeny tiny babies in the ITU.

The staff in SCBU have all been lovely. A good mix of practical, no-nonsense efficiency and caring emotional support. I’ve needed lots of both.

Being on a post natal ward when you have no baby at your bedside is tough to say the least. It’s heartbreaking. And as my husband is caring for Inglorious Toddler, I’m mostly on my own. I can handle it, mostly. I have the occasional wobble where I sit in the bathroom and cry. Thankfully the ward is quiet so I’m not sharing my room with any mums and babies. This could change at any time. I’ll jump off the bridge when I come to it. For now, at least I have a little bit of peace (and windows that open, therefore winning the hospital bed lottery).

The worst bit by far is not having the close. He’s 2 locked doors, a lift and a corridor away. Not being able to pick him up when he cries wrenches at my soul. Instinct yells at you to comfort your newborn and hold him tight, but all I can do is stroke his soft skin through a little window in his incubator. He grips my finger like a vice.

I’m hoping he’ll be well enough to spend a little longer our of his oxygen tank today. Trying to establish breastfeeding was hard enough for me last time without the added obstacles of an emergency c-section and SCBU standing in our way. I will do my best. That’s all I can do.

Positives are coming though. Baby is now wearing clothes! Well a vest, but that’s progress. The tube into his tummy to remove the mucus and gunk has been removed (as he kept removing it himself anyway) and he made a much more concerted effort to latch on this morning.

Of course I’m hoping for steady improvements but I’m also trying to chase away any dark thoughts of a rapid decline or some other unforeseen crisis.

It’s a difficult time, but as I said in my last post, you cope because you have to.

More soon.

Oh, and chin up.