Dear Bea…

Dear Bea…

Dear Bea,

Our bundle of energy, joy, distraction from all the shit in this world…

Today is your half birthday.

What an adventure it has been so far! I never could have imagined that you would fill up all my little cracks and help me feel alive again.684E7048-8183-479C-9754-71819C4BE675

You came along when I needed you.

Like a gift. To me. To your Father. To our family. And dare I say it; to the world.

You are destined for great things. Until then I will hold you, and love you and teach you how to make the most of this world. I wanted to teach you about the world but so far you have really taught the world about you!

You tumbled into our lives- chaotically. In true Bea fashion… you did it “Your Way!” I wasn’t ready, as you made me double over with what I thought was “just back pain!” at first… but you were announcing that you were ready to BE! I was always so connected to you from the start. Your cord was not just a biological structure, it has joined us together and bound us for the rest of my life.

I always wondered why you punished my body throughout my pregnancy. My body had never been tested to the limits as much as the seven months I carried you. Some days it was almost impossible to get out of bed. I think only other Mothers will understand this. It is exhausting incubating and cultivating a tiny life force inside you on the daily!

I was scared every…day…. 99DD2D41-AAAE-4E6C-9E93-AF82F2BBDE1BScared that I wouldn’t get to meet you. Scared that my body would fail you. I was terrified every scan appointment that I wouldn’t see that flicker of a heartbeat on screen or hear your response to my call. “Are you there little one” “Yes I am!” you would triumphantly announce. And I could breathe again… and tick off another calendar day. Counting down to “V Day” (or your viability day at 24 weeks!)

I was sick more than I care to remember. Morning….elevens’s…afternoon…evening sick! The sickness was indiscriminate and it came whenever it felt like it!

The first trimester was the hardest. The fatigue gripped my whole body. Your vessel. At your whim. Everything was controlled by you. But I lived for those times you would pummel me. I felt you roll and respond to hot drinks, changing my body position to (try and) get comfy or when I slowed down enough to make sure you were still okay if I had encountered a stressful day at work. You were there.

I loved getting in the bath and watching you wriggle. I loved calling myself a Human Submarine. It made me chuckle every time. I am sure it wore thin with Mr G. It was almost like an alien creature was inside… ready to burst out! You whirled and flipped. You were a night owl. I felt you most between The Witching  Hours… you woke me up every morning between 2&4am!

I hated the times I had to rush into the triage unit because you were having a “lazy moment”. We practically lived in the hospital for the last few weeks that you were in my tummy!! I knew that you would come early. You were ready to meet me. You were ready to explore the world. I don’t think I was ready for you though.

I have never known such a strong yet tiny person. You refused to stay put for your second set of steroid injections! But your body was more developed than we could have imagined. You were a medical marvel and the junior doctors would visit you on their rounds every morning. You were quite the star on the ward! They even wrote a medical case study on you!

The moment you were placed on my chest  I fell in the deepest love I have ever known. You were tiny but fierce. You were a perfectly formed human in a more condensed space. 4lbs 8.5oz! You let out your battle cry to prove that you were a little warrior and you would take on this world. I was lucky that we were able to do delayed cord clamping (which would have been on the birth plan I never got the chance to write for you) so we were connected just that little bit longer…

It was hard to let you go… metaphorically and physically.IMG_2879

You were whisked away to the NICU after twenty minutes. I was greedy and wanted MORE time with you. I was so worried that you wouldn’t love me if you couldn’t be with me straight away. It was the hardest thing to be wheeled off to the Transitional Care Ward without you.

I was a Mother with no baby in my arms. Instead you were being held by the nurses  in NICU. And you were connected to machines with wires to help your underdeveloped lA833B9D8-50B4-49AA-B686-B9C45EAFC846ungs.

Bleep. Bleep. Bleep.

I hated seeing you in your tiny incubator. Your see through box. Like a tiny doll kept in a toy box. You were under phototherapy lights to treat your jaundice so you wore a tiny blindfold to protect your eyes. You were connected to an IV drip. They wedged a cannula in your fragile arm. It looked so painful. I winced for you. Our poorly little Bubba. And all we could do was watch you from the outside.

You surprised us all by how fast you sped out of NICU and Special Care. There was nothing wrong with the inside of your body. Luckily the X-ray didn’t come back with anything unnerving after there was a grey spot found on a scan. It was a tense time. All I thought about were all the horrible eventualities of a preterm body that was just too little to survive. But you did. You thrived!

18 days trapped in the hospital was tough… but you were tougher and you pulled me through my biggest trials and tribulations. It made me realise that I was cut out to be a Mummy and a bloody good one at that!

These 6 months have been the hardest but the best times (so far!) and I have learnt so much about myself. I had just no idea how overwhelming it would all be especially as I had never factored in such a premature birth. As well as learning to “Mum” I also had to learn how to be a NICU Mum. I had to learn how to feed you through your tube which was very daunting. So many things could have gone wrong (especially in my sleep deprived state)… but they didn’t. And we worked together to get each other home!

Your early days were not easy. No version of Motherhood is easy. It is not for the faint of heart that’s for sure! But our sense of “nornal” was particularly peculiar. We muddled through. On one hand I couldn’t enjoy the guilty pleasures of newborn time where Mummies may ordinarily have time to catch up on terrible day time TV because I was on crazy pump/feed/care schedule for YOU. Everything I did was for you. I learnt true altruism during our hospital stay. I no longer mattered.9C32A726-162C-4146-BD5E-F880C37B3E1C.jpeg

The start our my journey as a Mother didn’t go quite to plan. It was hard. I cried, and cried and cried. For nearly 3 weeks there were times I didn’t know what day it was. Was it 1,3 or 5am? It didn’t really matter because for three torturous days I was without you. I couldn’t hold you and rock you. Go cheek to cheek with you. Blow raspberries on your soft belly skin. All I could do was watch you and pump milk for you. I hoped that you knew I was sat there, up all night just looking at you and loving you into full health.

I didn’t want to put clothes on you for those early days because I was scared that I would break you. Your limbs could have easily snapped- or at least it looked that way!

You grew and you continued to develop your hilarious personality. It has not been easy but it has been worth it. You have been difficult. Those developmental leaps have knocked me flying on several occasions. On those cluster feeds I literally thought my body could give you no more. But we started to get comfortable in a routine of no-routine. I wanted to spend as much time with you in the way you chose to do so because there are years to enforce an adult regime. I am not disciplined enough to stick to a routine nor would I expect you to be a little robot. You are my sassy, switched-on, funny and loving little girl. I respect you as your own person, and what a person you are becoming.

6 months in and I am exhausted yet overjoyed. Overwhelmed but not just in a negative way…. overwhelmed with feelings of bliss and love. Some days are good, some days are great, some days are bad and some are normal, but ordinary days are little blessings and times to take stock of all I now have as a Mummy.

You make me proud every day. You keep me on my toes. You drive me crazy. I want to spend every minute of the day with you but sometimes I want to run away, but then I feel so guilty because you flash me your gummy smile and it turns me to mush. Your laughs fill up my soul and I realise that I was meant for this life and we will navigate this journey together. You are mine and I am yours!

You are certainly my daughter. You are stubborn, you are wild and you love life. It wasn’t the easiest start kid but I wouldn’t have changed anything (well maybe I would kept you in a bit longer to cook if my body would allow it!) it would have meant you wouldn’t have had to experience the discomfort of a NICU start. I hope you don’t remember the beginning and the trauma hasn’t lasted. It doesn’t seem like this is the case.

I feel so lucky because your default setting is “smiles”!

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Other Mums have said their little ones do not smile like you. You were a smiler from the start. (I knew it wasn’t just gas!!!)

I can’t wait to see what the next six months bring. More love. More laughter. More milestones. I will support you and make each day a happy one as best I can. You are the centre of my universe. I revolve around you. I hope you know. I hope one day you will look back and appreciate what I have done for you or at least just know I loved you with my whole being.

You made me a Mummy again, and you made me a better person. Thank you for the memories so far.

Happy half birthday Darling. My pocket rocket! My reason to get up and attack every day with gusto and love in my heart.

I love you to the moon and back.

Your Momma Bear x

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Know Better… Do Better: Car Seat Safety.

Know Better… Do Better: Car Seat Safety.

It absolutely boggles my mind that with the wealth of support available and the body of work that has been done on child passenger safety, that parents are still putting their child’s lives at risk every time they pop them in their automobile.

I often see tiny humans wobbling about in ill-fitting car seats; parents unaware of the dangers of their child’s seat not reaching minimum standards, whizzing past and it turns my stomach. I don’t know whether it is because I have come face to face with human mortality that I am now a stickler for health and safety and making sure any baby product protects my Little Bea, and I make sure to ask the right questions to get the answers that matter!

We are only parents all trying to do the best for our children! We are not experts and policy and guidelines are frequently changing with best practice improving and sadly information gleamed from the statistics we are ignorant to (that involve children’s death.)

Are we doing enough as a Nation to take Car Seat Safety seriously enough? Are we failing our children when we are not getting the most basic safety credentials correct in the first place? The way I see it, I wouldn’t trust a stranger to care for Bea in the manner of which my Husband, close family and I do. Putting your child in a car seat with a history that you don’t know about is essentially the same. With more seats being purchased second-hand online there has been, and will likely be again an increase in serious injury and child deaths on Britain’s roads… all because a large majority of car seats in use are not fit for purpose because they are incorrectly fitted, are not suitable for size and weight of the child or not meant for a particular make/model of the car.

Parents/Grandparents want the best for their children/grandchildren and that should extend to outside the home and on the road more specifically. With such a plethora of designs and makes available it is no wonder that we can be bamboozled by car seats. One basic requirement should be ISOFIX child seat securing points which have come as standard with newer cars for a long time now. This means that the seat is bolted into the frame of the car and is not entirely dependent on the adult seatbelt’s tightness around it. This provides stability essentially from the ground up! ISOFIX is always the safest starting point.



I was internally screaming just the other week when I saw a little girl (who must have been no older than 9 months old) being strapped into a forward facing seat! Babies should be rear facing (legally) for 15 months then it is recommended to remain rear facing if possible until 4 years old. Obviously this may not be practical for every family, but for a year and a quarter our children should be rear facing because this offers maximum protection against the most dangerous types of collisions!

We are using a combination seat for Bea- the Joie EveryStage Car Seat as it is suitable from birth to 12 years old so is a real investment piece. In all honesty when we were bringing home our tiny 5 pounder even the adjustable padding didn’t quite cut it for a teenie-tiny baby, but it has grown well with her and easy to adapt to her growing body. It has won several Parents Choice Gold Awards and is a name I trust in the baby arena.

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Children are safest staying in the lower stage seat for as long as possible. Though it sounds extremely obvious seats may be fitted correctly but if the child isn’t strapped in safely, then they will not be adequately protected. The harness will not fit correctly if the child remains in puffy coats/extra layers. The straps must be levels with the child’s shoulders and tightened to allow for just one finger distance between the child and the harness at collar bone level.

I think it is essential that parents & grandparents practice installing the car seat multiple times, and get an idea of best practice for getting their little one in the car first and foremost safely and happily. Nannie H used a YouTube video created by the car seat manufacturer to learn how to install the seat and we sat in my living room putting Bea in the seat in the middle of the floor (the seat that she has does not have an ISOFIX base and her ancient vehicle doesn’t have the ISOFIX compatibility!!) – but she would not even think about putting her precious  granddaughter in the car without knowing exactly how the seat worked and that it was the safest it could be as let manufacturing guidelines and the law.

Here are some questions you should be asking yourself whilst shopping for your car seat (a handy Which? Guide) and don’t be afraid to ask for a demo in store because the car seat needs to make sense to you.

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Car seat Safety is a very important aspect of your little ones every day life so it is paramount that you get it RIGHT. It is a matter of life and death! There needs to be a much more intense focus on it as statistics have historically been grim and have made my toes curl! It is not a sexy topic, but it is something I have become very passionate about. Having had my own child I am much more aware of the world around me and will do anything to ensure the highest quality of care for our little Bea.

There is a wealth of information out there and laws are put into place for a reason. So I say if we know better (from reports, tests, compiled research around a topic) we owe it to our children to do better and use that information!

#StaySweet (& Safe!)

– Bea’s Mummy x

Ain’t no Shame in my Combi Feeding Game!

Ain’t no Shame in my Combi Feeding Game!

I was adamant that I would embark on the breastfeeding journey & nourish our little lady with my golden elixir of life. I thought it would be easy… I thought it would be idyllic and beautiful, and I thought I would enjoy it…

There is so much misinformation out there and more agendas than you can shake a stick at in a hospital environment (which is where I ended up being held hostage very much against my own will for eighteen long days) and mine and Bea’s start was very rocky with a punishing routine, very little support for breastfeeding (staff were pro breastfeeding in their discourse but not in action) and my extreme exhaustion.

The circumstances of Bea’s arrival into the world meant that my body was not yet ready to produce its own brand milk and in all honesty, in the whirlwind and shock of coming into hospital to deliver my child seven weeks early I had not even considered the possibility that I would not be ready to breastfeed!

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Amazingly my milk did come in the day following Bea’s birth. She was being looked after in the NICU and was being fed through an IV. This meant that there wasn’t the opportunity for the medical staff to attempt to enforce a formula policy on me because I was able to provide for my child as soon as she fought herself off the drip and blipping machines.

It was gruelling though and so soul destroying on Day 0 (Bea’s Birth day), as I hand expressed to no avail. I questioned why my body continues to let me down (I had now not gone to full term in two out of two pregnancies!) and because of the very early arrival I may have had to wait up to five days for my milk to come in!! After every unsuccessful hand expressing session I wondered if I was even cut out to be a Mum (crazy thoughts whizz through your mind when you have so much time to kill without your baby in your arms!)

I was advised on Day 1 (the day following Bea’s Birth) that I could use the industrial Madela pump to encourage my milk to come in. It certainly was an odd experience as it tugged roughly at my mamories, set to initiate status. The pump almost moo’ed in sympathy with me as I felt like a prize milker! It was so depressing and hilarious all at once as I sat eating my breakfast; toast in one hand and pump in the other.

Truly when you have a child any shred of dignity disappears, and eventually it came to pass that I would just sit there in my room (no shroud, not hiding away) with breasts fully exposed at various points of the day! One poor Midwife didn’t meet me fully clothed and without a breast out until the end of the first week of our stay & he joked upon that meeting “well it’s nice to meet you and not just your boobs!”

The expressing was a great success and by Day 1 I had collected colostrum (that precious liquid gold) to feed my child. It was only 2ml per session (I pumped every 2-4 hours in between the 4 hourly feeds) but I could not have been more proud of myself! I would run into the NICU and deliver my premium commodity to the nurse on duty! I would squeal in excitement “Special Delivery!” (I am sure this probably wore thin after a few days but each time the lovely lady on duty would humor me!)

By Day 2 Bea was being topped up with my milk and amazingly was out of NICU Care by the third day! This was when I was first allowed to feed her through her tube and felt on top of the world as the liquid disappeared inside our beautiful baby! I knew it was my milk that fortified her body and made her strong.

It was amazing to see the increase in milk supply over the first week and its change in consistency and colour to ensure it was delivering all my babies needs. To this day I find it incredible that our milk provides exactly what our babies solicit and changes to meet these requirements! There is a reason that “breast is best” scientifically- there is no use in denying that as “fed” is the minimum standard, but there is already such a body of work on this topic that for this post I do not aim to get into debate. The purpose of this post is to highlight the positives of combination feeding as there seems to be far less conversation about it!

For my almost 3 weeks in hospital I had to solely express as Bea was unable to latch due to a myriad of issues and circumstances from her own biology to the nurture (or lack there of) aspect. I have so much respect for those Mothers who express/pump to feed because I was shattered from this lifestyle by a month and a half in. I continued expressing until Bea finally took to the boob in June but still had my expressed breast milk as “back up” in the fridge and found time to express here and there, where possible.

Due to my utter exhaustion I had to battle through low supply not once, not twice but THREE times in hospital. Each time I pumped and could not seem to exceed 50ml it felt like a punch to my gut and I nearly gave up. The one thing that kept me going was Bea and her recovery. It was unlikely that I would be getting out of the hospital with her fully breastfeeding but I was going stir crazy after week 2 and just wanted to get our family home and back to some sort of normality.

The caviat for escaping was Bea to be drinking at least 50% of her bottle 50% of the daily feed schedule. An “easy way out” was to leave hospital with her feeding tube in which was NO option for me. She may not have been breastfeeding but I was determined she would be feeding well enough that she could sustain herself and would not need any further hospital care.

Essentially a bottle was the first experience Bea had of eating food in a normal capacity ie: not straight into her tummy. In one respect bottle feeding was so much easier in the hospital setting than ‘real life’ because all the equipment was ready to use- no sterilising bottles or waiting for formula to cool. I would just express into a sterile bottle but then I had the added dimension of tube feeding (which I had to get medically signed off on). It was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do in my life. On minimal sleep I had to ensure our baby was fed safely.

Tube feeding also involves an element where you have to extract your own child’s stomach contents to test the ph levels and ensure it is safe to feed. Before every feed I would have to syringe Bea’s feeding tube and test it on litmus papers. It would have to present itself the correct colouration before I could proceed with her feed and sometimes where the milk was absorbed from the last feed it could take two to four attempts.

Bea’s condition was improving after a mystery viral infection (which was never actually solved as to what it was, having had the medical staff mention possible herpes or sepsis!) She had finally had a chest X-ray after badgering the medical staff to get it booked in. This took over five days to complete, and in that time I was beside myself, trying to convince myself that she didn’t have a clot on her lung after a preliminary X-Ray had shown a dark spot clinging on somewhere between her vital organs (heart and lungs).

Oddly my sense of “normality” became tied up with my Express/Feed routine which I had altered to a more on demand basis (keen to move toward some kind of routine that would be more breastfeeding compatible.) As previously mentioned Express Feeding is difficult. I barely had time in the day to look after myself, I had however been put off bathing after the clot that joined me in the tub the day after giving birth! (People tell you that you will bleed but not the full extent…) I was starting to feel like a dairy cow more and more as they days passed in a blur.

I had soon realised that the staff were not going to come to me when I wanted to attempt breastfeeding Bea so my mum came to look after us for a week, taking the time to help me get Bea latching. Bea was defying all odds and the usual conventions of a premmie baby (medical marvel. The trainee doctors even used her as a medical case study and would come and visit us every morning as part of the doctors rounds to note her progress!) I was thrilled when we both managed a five minute feed. It felt like such a breakthrough and made me feel like I was capable of feeding her how I wanted to! I would tell the Outreach Team that I would still be breastfeeding Bea and not having to rely on expressing.

With sheer determination Bea was feeding without her nose tube around the 27th April and I reckon I was getting on the last nerve of a few of the ladies on the Ward, who I think found me difficult with my constant questions and stubbornness about how I wanted to feed. I was almost militant that Bea would not be fed formula unless completely necessary to her survival. It crushed my the first time I had to top her up with SMA milk when my supply had dwindled.

When we were finally released on 5th May, the light at the end of our long hospital tunnel otherwise known as our Outreach Team fully supported my Boob Mission! On their weekly visits they would support my breastfeeding endeavours and helped me formulate Bea and I’s best practice for feeding! (We did not get on with the regular feeding positions.)

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I was exclusively breastfeeding by June, but found I had a very love/hate relationship with it. When it was going well I was on top of the world but then those leaps would change everything. Just when I thought we had cracked it we would experience a set back such as the sweltering Summer heat, cluster feeding, low supply (again) & extended fussy periods of time!

I threatened to stop breastfeeding almost every week… but didn’t because I honestly had found such a sense of pride in being able to exclusively provide everything my child needed to thrive.

My favourite feeds are the first and last of the day because they are in sync, quiet and stress free. I call them our “Sleepy Feeds” and we both pretty much doze through them and our bodies just do what they are meant to do. I started to find that my supply dipped around 3pm & 7pm feeds and we believed that Bea had “Intellectual Collic” (we had never heard of it either before wondering why she was being a Tinker every evening between 6pm-8pm). This is where I started introducing a formula bottle feed and that quickly improved our evening routine and seemed to “fix” the crying/fussy issue.

By no means was this an “easy way out” because I was wracked with guilt each time Bea had “fake milk” instead of mine. I battled with feelings of not being good enough but my husband reminded me that I had been breastfeeding three times longer than he had anticipated. I think in all honesty a lot of people either didn’t think I would end up breastfeeding at all or I would maybe do a few weeks then pack it in!

I had expressed for over a month, then exclusively breastfed for over two months. I will admit that I didn’t love breastfeeding most the time but any time I was close to quitting I would remind myself of the benefits to both Bea and I and how close it made me feel to Bea when she was feeding well.

Going into her fifth month we have a few more formula bottles in the day now. Some days I still feel such guilt that I couldn’t fully sustain her on my breastmilk… but I guess “Mum Guilt” is felt from all angles. Mums are pressured in all capacities. Everyone has their opinion on what is “the right way” but really you have to find your own best lives and live it and let other mums do the same!!! Never try to shame them for their choices when all we are all trying to do is bring up healthy and happy little people.

I am confident in the fact that Bea will never enjoy formula as much as my breast milk so it makes our feeds so much more special as I see her excitement in coming to me for comfort and her meal! There’s not that much information readily given about combination feeding so Bea and I have pretty much just worked it out for ourselves.

I believe that there isn’t such a side effect as “nipple confusion” because Bea KNOWS where the ‘Good Stuff’ comes from. She can just be somewhat lazy and prefer the convenience of a bottle at times. I feel that I continued with breastfeeding because I ended up relaxing on the “all-or-nothing” approach to it.

Instead of fighting with Bea to breastfeed her, I know that she can quite happily have a prepared bottle and I am no less of a breastfeeding Momma for it! I am sure the very militant breastfeeders would disagree with me. I feel that combi/mixed feeders are perhaps judged the most and judgement of any kind, of any Mother needs to stop now because sometimes we just need a little bit of support.

Breastfeeding is NOT easy, despite it being natural. Expressing is certainly NOT easy, exclusively bottle feeding is NOT easy. I feel that combi feeding offers Bea and I a sense of flexibility and a safety net for me knowing that in one way or another my child will be getting enough to eat over the course of the day and she is happy. As with most things now Bea dictates how she wants to be fed at the time. I just make sure I have a sterilised bottle ready to go then we make our decision there and then as the need to feed kicks in.

I enjoy the freedom to feed in the best possible way. I do feel bad to admit it but I don’t think I was fully cut out for exclusively breastfeeding (I am too impatient!) but that’s okay. Just feed your child and love your child. I know that Bea doesn’t just love me because I feed her… it’s all the other things too! Combi feeding affords you the opportunity to continue breastfeeding if you perhaps thought the intensity wasn’t for you.

I think there needs to be more infotnation about the mixed feeding method to give Mums another way. Feeding is not a “us and them” game and I traverse between the two worlds. I was a loud and proud breastfeeder for 4 months (as I count the expressing method too) and now I am a breastfeeder with some back up.

Have you ever felt singled out as a combi feeder? Is mixed feeding an option that your health visitor discussed with you? Did you have an issue with breastfeeding when you wanted to feed in this way? I look forward to your opinions on MIXED FEEDING only- no attack’s on breast of formula feeding please!

 

#StaySweet

Love Bea’s Mummy x

Bea & I: The Buzz.

Bea & I: The Buzz.

There is nothing better in life than seeing those big, blue eyes stare up at me full of wonder and love. You wonder how you could love this little person more each day, but somehow you can and it defies all laws of nature, space and the universe. With every ounce of my being I am in utter love with this little girl. She is a gift!

No really she is. I do not hyperbolise (yet!) The things my mind and body have had to endure (how can nature be both so amazing and cruel in one swift blow?) on this journey toward Motherhood. I will not beat about the bush. Like 1 in 4 pregnancies our first son came into the corporeal world as a sleeping child. It was traumatic and shattered my heart into a million shards. “But why me?” I questioned everything about myself as I had failed to carry our little boy safely into the world. I blamed my body, every little thing I had done, and did so until the pathology results came back with the conclusion of Placenta Abruption.

I went into spontaneous labour with our little Mylo on 3rd June 2017 and I honestly have never felt so much pain in my life, as I delivered our boy in our bathroom, the only reason I think I survived was because of the support of my husband who held my shaking body until the paramedics arrived.

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Mylo Patrick Raymond Goddard was 21 weeks gestation and he was beautiful. So fragile, so tiny. I cradled him like any other child but I would never hear his cries, watch him take his first breath (and all those first moments disappeared from my life which is quite a big thing to get your head around- especially on a cocktail of meds to keep you alive & heal the physical trauma!) and I would never see his beautiful eyes full of wonder at the world around him. I do always wonder what colour his eyes would have been and whether they would be as brilliant blue as Bea’s. (If you would like to read my guest blog about Mylo and childloss click here.)

Needless to say when we had our BFP (Big fat positive) in October of 2017 we were terrified to go through it all again but ever the optimist, I was determined to enjoy this pregnancy and celebrate each day as a day closer to welcoming Mylo’s sibling into the world. 24 weeks seemed so far away – this being the point at which a child is “viable” (urrrggghh such a clinical world) and their personage is medically recognised. After everything that had previously happened I had learnt the sobering lesson that there is no “safe point” in pregnancy.

Unlike my first pregnancy I was hit with terrible Morning (elevenses, afternoon, supper & nighttime) sickness!! Some days it was crippling. My body had not been my own for half a year and after the loss it had taken longer than I expected to heal. I was always exhausted and the fear stuck in my throat like microscopic but deadly daggers or a thousand Crunchy Nature Valley bars!!

I was consultant lead due to my previous circumstances so I was lucky to see our baby grow and move and live within me a few extra times. These moments were previous to me. We got to the 12 week scan and I couldn’t help but think how similar it looked to our precious little Mylo… then my next thought was “oh god this baby is going to be the spitting image of their Father again!!!”  (When Mylo was born all I saw in his features was Daddy. Only my pouty lips bore genetic resemblence to me, of which I was pretty pissed about having been the one to carry him and didn’t really feel like there was a 50/50 aesthetic split!!!)

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This pregnancy we decided that we would find out the gender of our Baby Rainbow 🌈- I think in part this was so that I could feel as much atratchment to this little person as possible because one of my most nagging worries was that following a loss I would struggle to love this tiny human being as much as I loved our son (it sounds very silly but parents of loss definitely think very differently – see my post on How to Deal with Parents of Childloss).

The way that my body felt that it had done the rounds with Mike Tyson on the daily and the all too often debilitating heart burn I was 100% certain that we had a little lady on the way.

Loss takes its toll on all those close family members that surround you (they lose a nephew & grandson too!) so my Mother in particular having lost her FIRST grandchild wanted to throw her whole being into the lead up of welcoming our little Rainbow. At 16 weeks we had gone in for a growth scan and the sonographer asked whether we wanted her to reveal the gender. It was decided that Daddy Bear and I would not be informed but Nannie H would be the first to learn the gender so she could throw us a Gender Reveal event (see post on My Favourite Moments of Pregnancy.)

Turns out a Mummy Bear is super in sync with their baby and body and I was right. A little girl!!! I knew she would lift up our lives and as the term Rainbow Baby suggests would add the colour back into our grey, stormy worlds. I vowed though that I would love this little lady not just as the sister to her Angel Brother but inspite of that as her own person; never in the shadow of Mylo.

Piece by piece & Bump Photo by Bump Photo she filled up my world and I planned (though not fast enough it would seem!) in between moments of serious panic. Remember when the whole of Britain came to a snowy standstill in March?! I had faux contractions and was sure that I was going into early labour again!! “Not now!” I willed my body as 1) I was only 26 weeks pregnant and b) I wasn’t sure we would have even been able to safely make the journey to the hospital. I wasn’t! I breathed a sigh of relief and congratulated my body for managing to keep this little lady in place.

The calm was short lived as just two weeks later I was back at the hospital Triage Ward having lost my plug!!! I was terrified and on countdown to D-Day (Delivery Day!!!) as I was all too aware that our child could be making her appearance in a matter of weeks.

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The nursery was not complete and we threw my Baby Shower at the end of March. I knew my body was coming closer to birth. I practiced my pelvic floor exercises and ate healthily to nourish myself and the baby until the end. I knew that I was unlikely to make it to Week 38 (where they had said I would need to be induced because of my gestational diabetes- oh yes all the fun!) but I don’t think anyone would have predicted the Birth Day commencing in week 33!!!

Just the previous day I had been hooked up to a machine because of reduced movements (ALWAYS GO TO THE HOSPITAL IF YOU NOTICE REDUCED MOVEMENTS. IT IS A MISNOMER THAT THE BABIES MOVEMENTS SLOW DOWN TOWARDS BIRTH – THEY SHOULD HOLD TO THE PATTERN THAT YOU HAVE NOTED ALL ALONG!) My hospital had been so patient with me. I had been in with reduced movements twice before. I practically lived at the hospital during my very short lived third trimester! But they always echoed “If you ever feel that something is different/wrong come up to the hospital. You can come up every day”.

So there I was starting to show signs of contractions on the 16th April… not that they told me that. All I knew was that the baby had a strong heartbeat so I just continued on as normal. I was back at work the next day and smashing our targets and providing the best customer service all whilst in labour! I never realised that I had such a high pain threshold. I thought I just had a bad back. But all of a sudden I felt the internal workings which echoed my delivery of Mylo. That’s when we hot footed to the hospital. I was 33 + 3 and foolishly had not even packed my hospital bag in preparation for an early labour. She was seven weeks early!!!

As far as my labour went, it was textbook. It was just the circumstances surrounding it that were unusual! The staff didn’t seem to think I was in labour as I was handling myself so well and tried to pass my labour signs off as a UTI!!! I was having none of it, but there was a ward of screaming ladies who were making it quite obvious they were in labour… (it turns out the loudest screamer actually delivered her baby hours after me!!!) After a slight pester because I now felt what I assumed were my contractions, the speculum confirmed that I was in fact in active labour, I was 5cm dilated & they could feel my babies grad behind my waters which incidentally broke naturally whilst I was on the bed. It really is one of the weirdest but best feelings in the world! I think it surprised my husband how far it shot off the end of the bed!!!

I am hopped up on Gas and Air and the staff are trying to slow my labour as I had only managed to have one of the steroid shots for the babies lungs. I remember worrying that because the second could not be administered that our baby would have terrible breathing problems.

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**** SPOILERS!**** She didn’t because after just seven pushes she entered the world and made her first war cry to the world! This fierce Warrior Girl was loud and perfect. Tiny. But perfect. She lay on my chest and I fell in love. We shared a moment of reassurance and bliss- everything was going to be okay! I needn’t  have worried that she wasn’t going to make it. She was promptly whisked off to be hooked up to machines to ensure that she made a prompt recovery from the trauma of being too early!!!

Our little Beatrice Carys Bow Goddard spent just two days in the NICU, being treated for jaundice under the phototherapy lights then moved on to Special Care for a further day before coming to me on the Transitional Ward where we stayed for a further 15 days of utter stir-crazy inducing time. It was much like a work camp with the intense routine of expressing milk, changing the babies nappy, feeding the baby, feeding myself then repeating Express/change/feed for a 4 hourly routine day and night! Through my sleep deprivation, tube feeding and tears (mainly mine!!) Bea thrived when I cared for her.

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Sadly the care on the ward was very hit or miss (mostly miss!) and there were so many contending staff agendas and very little cohesive help and frustratingly very little breastfeeding support. Oh yeah… I forgot to mention I had to feed my child mum expresses breast milk through a nose tube for 12 days which involves syringing samples from her stomach to test her ph levels to make sure her tube was able to be used for feeding. Any incorrect move, particularly in terms of feeding could have had disastrous consequences!! Couple this with caring for such a tiny baby (she was only 4lbs 8.5oz at birth then dropped after this!!!) the first few weeks of her life were quite miserable for me.

Despite the tough start she inspired me to fight on and be the best Mother I could be because she was kicking ass at Person-ing!!! It was the least I could do for her!!!

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Fast forward 5 months and our girl has thrived and brought us so much happiness! She now weighs in at 10lbs2oz at the last weight check (03.09.18) and is hitting all her milestones! It is often disconcerting for people out and about to see such a tiny baby doing all the things she is because she still only looks a few months old if that!! I am forever having people saying “oh she most be a new one?!” and then I launch into our Premmie story. There is no denying she is a bit of a special baby and of course even more special to those of us who know exactly why!

She certainly has done and continues to do things HER way! Which is fine, it keeps me on my toes and I count my blessings that she has made me the Mother I am today.

I suppose I should introduce myself a little?!! I am Bea’s Mummy as I am mostly known now. Or Amber. I have worked various jobs which have failed to rock my world quite as much as being a Mummy! This is my favourite job to date and it is something that I am now going to be doing for the rest of my life.

Other than Bea, I have a passion for writing, travelling & cooking. My love of creating saw me attain a degree in English Literature, Philosophy and Ethics and an elective in Education. Biggest waste of time and money in all honesty. People have been pestering me to take my writing further for years and years and years but I have previously been “too busy”. A terrible attitude I realise having now thrown myself into Motherhood. I am now Mum Busy… and that is the busiest I have ever been but because it is the most important part of my identity now I thought I would silence the nagging by charting mine & Bea’s Adventures together.

I refer to it as bumbling through the hoods together. By Hoods I mean Motherhood/Childhood. I hope it is something that we can both look back on and smile and for her to know that she saved my life and for that I will be eternally thankful. I loved her from the start and I will until the end.

I hope this blog will be a useful resource for other Momma Bears and plan to review relevant brands and products that will make #TheMomLife that little bit easier to navigate. We are in this together!!

If you have any ideas about what you would like to see please do contact me. As I love to put word into the world I also guest blog (see my interview with Rhubarb The Bird with whom Bea represents.)

Lets be a MumBrigade. Keep Calm! You’re a Mum and may the odds be forever in your favour!

#StaySweet

-Bea’s Mummy.