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My Nana

Despite Christmas being lovely and a happy day as we had April home, Boxing Day was far from it.

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Me and my Nana when she was well

 

I have mentioned previously that both mine and Phil’s Nana’s were in hospital.  My Nana has been in and out of hospital for some time.  She managed to visit me in Carlisle hospital before I was taken to Middlesbrough, but soon after she ended up in hospital herself.  We’ve never really quite known what was making her poorly, but she gradually kept getting worse.

Whenever she goes into hospital her memory starts to fade and she would talk about the past a lot and be very confused; the onset of dimentia, but this is not surprising at the ripe old age of 101.  She always knew who we were, but couldn’t remember details day to day.

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Choosing her wedding outfit

I was very close to my Nana, so was very hard when I was in hospital not seeing her and at that point she was too poorly to come and visit me or April when we were back in Carlisle.  I managed to get to see her a few times, but this was not always easy when I had to be at the hospital with April all the time.  She was very confused about what had happened to us and couldn’t understand why she hadn’t seen April, so we had to keep reminding her that she was a poorly baby.  I printed out some photos of us both in the hospital, which she had on her wall, so she could remember where we were.

It got to a point where she was well enough to leave hospital, but not well enough to go home, so the sad decision was made that she needed to go into a care home.

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100th Birthday

She went into the care home on the 23rd December.  She settled in quite well, so I went to see her on Christmas Eve.  I’d not taken April to see her in the hospital as we couldn’t risk her getting any infections going into the hospital.  I was hoping that once my Nana had been in the home for a week or so, she’d be well enough to take out and bring April to meet her.  She kept asking about April

Unfortunately my Nana didn’t make it that long and passed away on Boxing Day.  I spent a bit of time with her, but she was barely conscious. I held her hand and said my goodbyes.  It was heart breaking, though I knew it was for the best as she has been tired for a long time.  I got married in 2014 and I really didn’t think she would make that, so the fact she got this far was amazing.

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Trip to Whitby 2015

My Nana knew that more than anything in the world I wanted a baby, so the day I told her I was pregnant she almost jumped out of her chair and hugged me so tight!

I am devastated that my Nana never got to meet April, but I feel like she was making way for a new life and her memory will live on in April.

Rest in peace my beautiful Nana xxx

Minnie Jackson 1914-2015

 

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Christmas Shenannigans

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Bottle the size of April

The past week has gone so quickly and I’ve not had chance to write any blog posts.  BY the time I get up in the morning, feed April, get ready, have breakfast and do my jobs, the day is half way through and then before I know it night time is here.  Like most parents will know time just isn’t yours any more!

So, I though I’d write one big blog post and try to summarise it all.

April is doing well and we’ve taken her out a couple of times.  The weather has been pretty rubbish, so it hasn’t been very often and Phil and I often work as a tag team, one of us feeding April, the other one popping out for groceries etc.  The couple of times we have taken her out it seems to be to the pub (opps – for food, not drink rest assured!)

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My first trip out

After coming to terms with starting April on formula, we managed to get some on prescription.  She is on a special formula for pre-term babies, which has everything she needs to continue growing well.  We managed to get her to 9 weeks exactly on breast milk and then started formula on saturday.  She has been a bit grouchy since, but as the health visitor explained, formula is quite differnt from breast milk and takes a lot longer for her to digest.  She might get tummy ache more and have bigger poos.  Oh and crikey does she have bigger poos.  I know this is pretty minging, but on breast milk it is yellow and runny, but on prem formula it is thicker, stodgier and green blergh!  I did get a shock when I checked her nappy for the first time!

I’ve come to terms with not breast feeding her now, but when she is squelling I just want to pop her on my boob my for comfort.  I’m sure cuddles will do just as well!

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Our little handful

We had to take April back to Carlisle hospital for a routine blood test.  Bless her, she is so good and still only gives a little squeal.  It also gave us an opportunity to visit the Special care unit again and say thank you toi the nurses who had looked after April.  Later that day we had a call from the hospital to say April’s white blood cell count is a little low, which means her immune system is more vulnerable.  The doctor advised if her temperature went to 38 degrees we needed to get her to hospital right away.  Touch wood she has been fine, but again reminds us of how precious and vulnerable she is.  Back to hospital in 4 weeks for more checks.

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Christmas morning

Christmas was lovely.  It was an opportunity for me to put on a nice dress and feel more human.  Phil told me I looked beautiful, which when you’ve been living in Bridget Jones knickers and baggy clothes with greasy hair for then past 3 months was lovely!  I felt quite emotional in the morning…we had our beautiful little baby girl at home with us.  We never thought that would happen, so it was the best Christmas present we could have given each other.

We had both sets of parents coming over.  We hadn’t wanted a stressful Christmas with loads of work, so we did the turkey, Phil’s Mum brought starters and desserts and my Mam rustled up the veggies.  The 2 weeks since April had been home I’d had to get into action and get present buying.  We’d not bought much, as we didn’t rerally feel much like celebrating, so it was all stations go once April was home.  Amazon loved me!

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Champagne celebrations

The day was complete when Eve arrived and we spent the next 4 hours (yes, 4 HOURS!!!!) opening gifts.  By the time we got to presents for me and Phil we couldn’t really be bothered.  April got some lovely gifts – and has a better wardrobe full of clothes than me.  Although hardly anything fits her still, but she will have lots of lovely things to wear over the next year!

The health visitor has been a couple of times and April continues to steadily put on weight.  She is now 5lb 9oz, so she has really done well on the breast milk and we hope she continues to grow and make progress!

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Two little princesses

The 29th December was her due date – it felt like quite a milestone.  At this point we can start watching April’s development a little more – we now have to think of her as a newborn; not as a 9 week old baby.  If you compared her with another 9 week old baby they might be smiling and gurling, whereas April won’t be that far on yet.  Saying that she has had stimulation outside the womb, which a newborn wouldn’t so we may see her doing things  sooner.  Hopefully a smile in 4-6 weeks according to the health visitor, however we are sure she is smiling already!

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April’s current baby vest compared to a 3-6 month vest

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A sad day

 

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Sleeping beauty

Sunday wasn’t a great day.  Since bringing April home I had been so happy that nothing could bring me down, but all of a sudden everything hit me and my emotions were all over the place and the smallest thing would set me off.  It was the first time I’d had a proper lie in…until 10.30am.  I was due to get up at 8am, but slept through my alarm and before I knew it it was mid morning.  Don’t ask me why, but I felt really upset and guilty at having a lie in.  It was the first time I’d missed 2 feeds in a row since coming home.  I must be crazy as I obviously need the sleep.

The next thing to consume my emotions was the breast feeding/expressing, which was on my mind all day.  As I’ve posted before April is so small that breast feeding is very difficult for her.  During her last week in hospital I spent all my time working on breast feeding…I had nothing else to do.  It could sometimes take 2 hours and then she would still need a bottle top up.  I was finding that doing this at home was getting harder and particulalry when we’d have visitors.  I decided to step up my expressing again…only problem is my milk production had decreased as I’d not been doing it as much with breast feeding.  I then proceeded to start worrying about it and feeling guilty about not breast feeding and panicing that I wouldn’t have enough breast milk for April.  I started trying to express every 2-3 hours again, but in reality this is not as easy as it sounds and soon realised that when sitting for half an hour and only producing 30ml (compared to my previous 115ml) I wasn’t going to get far.

I sought advice from friends, health visitor etc and decided that for my own sanity we would use up all the expressed breast milk we had frozen and then use formula.  Like many people have told me and what I need to keep reminding myself is that I managed to give April  9 weeks of breast milk, which was the best start possible for her and also when my body wasn’t ready for it and she wasn’t meant to be here.  Some people who have a term baby with no problems don’t even try, so at least I can feel prooud of what I have achieved!

Finally, what was probably the saddest thing that set me off crying was hearing the news that a premature baby had died.  Heidi Louchlin – a lady who had breast Cancer had to have her baby prematurely at 28 weeks.  Baby Ally Louise died after 8 days.  It brought home how precious April is and how lucky we are to have her home with us…and even here at all.

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Venturing outside

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8 weeks old today

We’ve had a nice couple of days.  Phil finished for Christmas on Thursday, so has been at home with us.  We were told not to take April out for a week or so to help her settle in at home and to avoid infections etc and alsothe bad weather.  I’ve been at home pretty much all week, but Friday afternoon we decided to venture out…

…and the first place we took her – the local pub.  We have a respectable local pub – not the type where down and outs take their kids!  It was a chance for us to go for a nice lunch and celebrate April being home.  I even had a tiny bit of prosecco in my orange juice…best thing I’ve drank in months!  We also tested out our new pram.  Not quite prepared yet with all the kit and caboodle i.e a changing bag, but we improvised.  We got April all layered up and tucked in and she didn’t make a peep until we got home!  I think she liked being a ‘lady what lunched’

The health visitor also came on Friday morning.  Another opportuity to talk through things…the complexities of having a prem baby, medication, feeding, development, my mental health etc.  And to get her weighed.  There is a worry she doesn’t grow as well as she could being so premature and with changes in her feeding routine.  However, we don’t need to worry as she is now 4lb 11oz!  So, she is doing great and continues to make progress. She actually seems big to us now, but when you look at all the clothes she’s been given hardly anything fits her and we’re having to wash things a lot as she’s only got a handful of outfits that actually fit!

I was finding that night feeds were tricky.  She could be on the breast for 1-2 hours, but then still need a bottle top up.  She just can’t seem to get the grasp of feeding for very long.  We made the decision to give her expressed breast milk via a bottle in the night and breast/bottle in the day.  We have a special teet for prems, which is meant to be like a nipple and help them to get used to sucking. We’ve still got quite a stock of expressed breast milk, which helps us continue to give her breast milk without putting pressure on her to go on the breast.  Hopefully she’ll get better soon – practice makes perfect!

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Visit from cousin Jay

Last night when I was feeding her, well about 3am this morning, I had her propped up on my knee, whilst I bottle fed her.  She wqas quite happy sucking away.  All of a sudden I felt something runny and picked my hand up to investigate and it was coevred in poo!  I look down further and it was all over my legs and dripping on the carpet.  agggghhh…she was quickly moved to the changing mat, while I scrubbed the floor and wiped myself clean.  Typically, April remained clean!  I’m sure I’ll have more ‘poo’ stories to embarrass her when she’s older!

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Liberated

This may sound funny, but today I felt free and liberated as it was the first time I drove since my C-section. Officially I could drive from about 6 weeks, but with going backwards and forwards to Carlisle hospital there was no need for me to drive, when other people could take me.

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Shhhhhh

I had a doctors appointment, so would drive myself (while April stayed at home with Nana Linda) – I thought it would feel a bit weird getting behind the wheel, but it was like riding a bike. I had to go up the dual carriageway and it felt good to drive and go fast again…silly I know, but having that tiny bit of independance back after 2 long months felt so good. My sister in law asked me if it was odd leaving her, but to be honest I was fine as every day I had to leave her in hospital, so I have got used to it.

 

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It’s a hard life

My early appointment with my GP was also postive. I’ve been recording my own blood pressure the past couple of weeks and the readings seemed OK (to the untrained eye) and compared to what they have been good for me. The doctor seemed to think so too. I’ve been on quite high medication to control my blood pressure since I gave birth. Recently it has been making me feel rather perculiar and I’ve not really been 100% since I was poorly. I’ve been ridiculously hot and my skin burning bright red, my feet swell and I’ve been having dizzy turns. However, the doctor has halved some of my medication (the one that makes me feel dodgy) for a week and then I’ll come off it the week after (if the readings are still OK). I will remain on the other drug, but hopefully reduce the amount I take. So, things are cetainly moving in the right direction!

 

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Special cuddles with Eve

April has been a bit grizzly the past few days. I’ve beebn having problems feeding her. I’ll pop her on the breast, but as she is still so small so finds it hard to suck and gets very tired. I give her about half an hour and then a bottle top up with my expressed breast milk. I am so pleased that I persevered when she was first born as supplies are still good. Although I just don’t seem like I can fill her up on the breast and she always needs a bottle top up. I’ll keep persisting!

 

 

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Twinkle Twinkle curtains

Those that know me well, know that I find it difficult to sit and do nothing. The day I went into hospital I had some material delivered for April’s nursey as I was going to make soft furnishings as I couldn’t find just what I wanted for her room. Today was the day when I got cracking and produced a set of curtains…finally a bit of privacy when I am breast feeding

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Settling in

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Cuddles with Eve

 

So, for the first time in 2 months I’ve had time at home.  I’ve not been in hospital or had to travel to hospital, which has been quite a novelty.  The two us of us have had a lovely couple of days getting used to being at home and trying to find a routine.  Phil has done a great job of sorting things in the house while I’ve been out of action, but there is nothing like getting back on top of things and feeling more in control again!

Yesterday the health visitor came to visit us.  It was lovely talking over things and not crying about it!  She was very understanding and being a midwife previously understood all about the complexities of pre-eclampsia and premature babies.

She explained that although April is almost 8 weeks old developmental wise she is still only 38 weeks gestation, so we can’t expect her to be as developed as another 8 week old baby.  We will always need to bear this in mind as she gets older.

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Sleeping buddies

April has been a bit grouchy; particularly in the night.  She’s always had a problem with wind…or lack of it.  I just can’t wind her at all, she curls up, screams and I can’t settle her unless she falls asleep.  She tends to pump loads and rarely burps…I’ve used a whole bottle of infacol trying to get her to burp! The health visitor explained this is quite common in premature babies.  The enzymes in her stomach haven’t fully developed yet, so it is hard for her to digest the milk she is having, therefore gets a sore tummy.  I try giving her a little massage, but also bought some gripe water today, so we’ll see if that works.  At the moment she is pooping for Britain and I’m going through micro nappies like they’re going out of fashion…it’s like a river down there sometimes!

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Getting rid of the boogies

A couple of weeks back April had a little cold and ever since she has been really bunged up.  I’ve started giving her saline spray up her nose to try and flush the boogies out.  Hopefully if we can get her breathing a little better she might find it easier breast feeding.

April was weighed again for the first time at home and she continues to put on weight; now clocking in at 4lb 8oz!  I’m still trying to get a balance between breast feeding and giving expressed breast milk in a bottle.  While I’m at home I’ll give her the breast, but on the occasion we have visitors or need to go out I’m happy to give her a bottle.  The health visitor told me how good it is that I have expressed as many people who have prem babies give up.  I wouldn’t blame them to be honest as it really is hard work.  It’s not like breast feeding a term baby. For one my boobs weren’t ready to start producing milk and I had to coax it out and secondly April has had to learn.  She is still very small, so finds it hard.  I have to use a nipple shield on most occasions, which makes it easier for her.  Over the next few weeks she’ll keep getting stronger…like I said before we can’t compare her with a term 8 weeks old baby, who would probably be well on their way now.

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Cuddles with Daddy

The health visitor also went through a family tree with me to find out more about our family history.  She was mostly interested in the learning disabilities/dyslexia that affects a few people in my family.  She said this is something to look out for in the future.  We may face many obstacles with April’s development in the future…or we may have no issues.  She is a little fighter and according to the professor in Middlesbrough hospital is a ‘text book’ prem – progressing as she should, so we are confident she’ll continue to progress well in the future…it’s just good to be awre of these things as she gets older.

Anyway, I am looking forward to spending more time with April, getting her nursery ready and making the most of being home again.

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First day at home

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My new blanket

It was out first proper day at home today and it was lovely.  April had a good night’s sleep.  She only woke up at 4am and fed quickly; a lot quicker than when we were in hospital.  She didn’t wake up until after 7am as well, although kept me awake with her gurgling sounds from about 6am.

When we were all up, Phil baked us croissants for breakfast and we had a nice chilled morning.  It was the first time since going into hospital all those weeks ago that I was able to do little things like dye my hair, pluck my eye brows, put on nice body butter and make myself feel nice…and the first time in 2 months I’d not been inside a hospital!

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Bath time

Once I’d got myself all preened it was April’s turn.  There had been a certain smell in SCBU and in April’s cot.  It was a smell I smelt constantly; it was on my clothes and never left me.  They can’t use smelly things in the hospital and particularly with prem babies.  As we were caught short and April came early, we don’t have a bath for her, so I decided to bathe her in the sink…well if it was good for me as a baby it is good enough for April.  I filled the bathroom sink with water and Johnsons baby bath.  I wasn’t sure if April would like it again, but she fit in the sink perfectly and splashed around – she loved it!

I was able to put baby moisturiser on her and dress her in a cute outfit to greet her visitors…and did she have visitors.  We decided to lock ourselves in today and just ask close family to come round.  We had a few hours of visits and many many cuddles.  It just feels so nice to get home.  I’ve finally been able to clean my bathroom, put up new baby cards and begin to think about sorting April’s Nursery out.  I think I’m going to enjoy this mummy malarkey.

Here are some photos of our visitors today…