Sep 13, 2014

A little update + the best trip ever in the most beautiful town in the most beautiful country

So we hung out here last weekend...
[Our view of Lake Wakatipu from the Crown Range. iPhone photos for the win!]
We had planned a ski trip with some family members from the South Island before Ella was even born, but actually getting there and surviving the 1.5 hour flight with our 3 month old baby was kind of amazing. After all the feeding issues we've been going through, it felt like the most needed holiday ever, and boy did it deliver.

[Golden hour by the lake in Wanaka]
I thought going on holiday with this little poppet would be stressful and not really feel like a holiday, but it did and everything was amazing. 

From the Spring skiing at Cardrona... (best learner slopes EVER and so user friendly + zero queues):
[Cardrona Ski field, looking out over the Remarkables mountain range with not another soul in sight] the family time with just the 3 of us...
[Picnic by the lake in Wanaka]
 ...and the adventures that we went on by just following our noses and driving through fords and along back country roads...
Matukituki River
[My loves discovering the Matukituki river on an accidental adventure... Don't mind the cow!]
... everything was perfect. The skies were blue and sunny every day and the poppet was completely cool almost all the time. I mean she was just a happy little bundle of love and cuddles. Never mind that since we returned home she has been a bit crazy at times... (teething already??).

We also ate so much good good gooooood food and ate our last meal at Botswana Butchery which is nothing like what it sounds and only the fanciest fancy pants restaurant ever. Obviously we brought the standard down a little bit by sitting at the candlelit table mixing up bottles of milk for our little bean sprout who was hanging out in the carseat by our feet.

I thought writing this post as a reminder of the awesome time we had and what a sweet sweet blessing the trip was would be a good idea. I'm so thankful for this trip. I know it's a cliche but... it was good for the soul! The totally drained and emotionally exhausted mamma-soul, that is.

(If you are wondering how life is going in crazy town (aka breastfeeding-ville) as per my last post... it's going ok :) Noone can prepare you for the trauma of attempting to breastfeed a tongue-tied baby for 3 months. But without going into a whole nother topic filled with boobie-jargon, let's just say we are doing the best we can and I'm allowing myself to be ok with bottle feeding.)

Aug 20, 2014

Everything you never wanted to know about tongue ties and breastfeeding

I have literally been trying to type this post for 5 days.... wish me luck.

***Warning: this post contains lots of mummy-jargon. If you don't want to read about breastfeeding in great detail, turn back now!***

Everyone tells you that motherhood is hard. And it is hard - but in ways that you couldn't prepare for even if you knew what was coming.

Our sweet little bundle of happiness starting getting a little bit aggro whilst feeding when she was about a week and a half old. I felt like something was really wrong but I didn't have the jargon or experience to really know or explain what was happening. I googled "why is my baby crying during feeds" more times than I can count, and the possible reasons were so numerous it was overwhelming. I started painfully eliminating all the possible suspects - we bought reflux medication incase it was silent reflux (also known as GERD which stands for Gastrointestinal something something); I applied antifungal gel incase the white film on her tongue was the problem; burped her furiously; and ruled out over-supply and hyperactive letdown.

In a few short weeks I was swimming in a sea of scary terms and my brain was so, so tired of trouble shooting. I just wished someone would come and feed my baby for me. Like a wet-nurse from the olden days...

I sought help from Plunket, a breastfeeding clinic, midwife, and ran it past the pediatrician, but no-one really was any help. They suggested the things I had already ruled out and it just made me feel more hopeless.

Ella's screaming during feeds got worse and there was a point where I never saw her happy - from the moment I tried to feed her after waking, until she cried herself to sleep, she was unhappy. The only time she seemed herself was when she first woke up (before the feed) or when she was distracted by something else.

I KNEW this was not my baby. Her natural personality is one of the sweetest and most placid around. But she was only a few weeks old and people told me 'it's normal for them to get more fussy around this time'.

She started to be permanently overtired because she wouldn't fall asleep for naps. I NOW realise this was because she wasn't feeding properly. At the time however, I thought maybe she wasn't feeding properly because she was too tired. And I thought that meant I should be sleep-training her. Which I attempted for a while but it was horrible - try putting a hungry baby to bed and see what happens!

All this time I didn't realise know if she even WANTED to feed or not. I thought maybe she wasn't hungry.... but then it she started doing it on every. single. feed and I realised she must be hungry but something, something, SOMETHING was stopping her from feeding.

One day I took a video and it wasn't until then that it really hit me how bad it was. The video showed her latching on, trying to swallow, pulling off, screaming.... and screaming and screaming. It was horrible to watch and realise that this is what I'd been putting up with for, umm, 9 weeks!

The next day we splurged for a private lactation consultant. I'd been on the waiting list for a free Plunket appointment but the waits were several weeks.

Anyway, the consultant popped a finger in Ella's mouth as soon as she arrived, and immediately declared a tongue tie, a lip tie, and a high palate.
(Interestingly, tongue ties are a controversial topic in the medical realm with some doctor's calling it 'a bit of a fad' and saying it doesn't affect feeding... I joined a support group and let me tell you that the evidence from these women about the effect on feeding is overwhelming!)

From there we went in for laser surgery for Ella. It was horrible and we both felt pretty shaken after witnessing it. But... I was glad to have found a diagnosis and so relieved that I would soon be able to feed my child without all those issues. You know, because feeding your baby is a built-in instinct and it kills you to be unable to do it!
My happy girl on the morning of the surgery. Actually tho, she was really antsy that day and soiled 4 whole outfits before the surgery. It's almost like she knew what was coming. :s

Well, that was 12 days ago and I'm still struggling to get this girl fed.... she gets so frustrated and upset when she's trying to feed and now we have further issues thanks to a low milk supply (caused by the bad feeding because breastmilk is a supply-and-demand issue) and the fact that she is now accustomed to a bottle. Tongue-tied babies can drink easily from a bottle but not from a boob - bottle is easier and doesn't use the tongue as much.

What is the point of this post?
Well, no point yet... except that I'm praying that in a few days I'll be able to report back with some kind of success story, or that at least someone out there can relate and feel less alone?!

I currently spent my entire days pumping milk until I feel like my nipples are falling off, supplementing Ella's measly diet with stinky formula (literally it smells like poo. How??), and attempting to breastfeed her which can take 3 hours or more each time because.. well I don't know why. Either because the supply is low or because she can't suck properly. Hopefully the consultant can shed some light on that tomorrow...

I never would have guessed 3 months ago that breastfeeding could be so spirit-crushing. But it is really, really hard. I don't even know if I'm explaining it right because this issue has been my daily bread for 12 weeks now and I can't remember what 'normal people' know about it...

Motherhood is rough!

If you have a tongue tie success (or survival) story I'd love to hear.

P.S You have just witnessed the day my home-decor blog become about breastfeeding. Congrats


Jul 8, 2014

Home these days

A quick little post with a peek of our abode. And by abode I mean couch, I.E the place where I now live day in day out with a baby on the boob.

I attempted to add some kind of intentional colour to this room recently - which meant literally going downstairs and opening up my massive cushion stash then throwing anything with the colour pink in it onto the couch.

I just feel like pink these days, you know?

{Toy box + bouncinette won't be going anywhere anytime soon}

The husband picked these baby-pink camellias off our camellia bush the other day. They are so pretty.

Here's my breastfeeding den - note the quilt which serves a very functional purpose with my pooping, milk dribbling, peeing little darling.

{Does the pink cushion really go with the quilt? Perhaps not. But... pink!}
 This room gets a whole tonne of sunlight which I love and makes long hours here feel so much nicer. I just sit on that quilt and dream about putting artwork over the couch and getting built-in shelving for the tv wall (not pictured because it's pretty lame) that could also hold all our books! Which are currently filling the office.

This is by no means a "Here's our living room decorated!" post because it's not... but I'm pretty happy with this progress for now.

Not shown: the basket hidden behind the couch which contents including but not limited to: breast pump ("the milking machine"), water bottle (because I'm constantly parched when feeding), towel for kick-time and mid-feed changes, and some spare nappies. Super glam!

Jul 1, 2014

Facts {Life with a newborn}

I figured since I am an expert at newborn parenthood after one whole month I would write this blog post with all my tips and inside-knowhow to surviving those first few weeks with a brand new baby.


I have no idea how to survive those first few weeks - I'm still in denial that we've got through 4 of them. One month already? I feel like I was pregnant for an eternity (my entire life) (same thing) and then yesterday I gave birth and now we have a one-month old baby because of a magical time warp.

Do you want to see what happens to a baby when you blink?

It goes from this...

{Nyaww! A tiny, floppy, wrinkly, squished-up and SO milk drunk 2.5 day old baby that can't even fit it's newborn clothes yet}

... to this:
{Practically a grown woman.}

I used to hear mum's harp on about how looking at photos of their babies makes them all weepy because they are growing up... so sad, too bad, blah blah blah.
And here I am getting teary eyed when I spy all those awful grainy phone photos from her first 2 days on earth taken in a messy hospital room when she was brand new and I didn't know anything about anything.

Fact: when you drive past the hospital where your baby was born, you will never think "Remember that car trip we took in the middle of the night when we were racing here and I was having contractions and then I screamed when they wheeled me into the foyer and the security guard made a joke about it and I was like shut up I'm giving birth followed by the most painful experience of my life and I'm SO TRAUMATISED remember that???"
You won't think that.
You'll think, "Remember that car trip we took in the middle of the night and then how we experienced that incredible journey of birth and MY DAUGHTER CAME OUT OF MY BELLY and she was so small and red and squished up and cute remember that?????"

[first day of life]

The human brain is weird sometimes.

People will say "If giving birth hurts so much then why do people have more than one kid?"
Answer: Because MAKING HUMANS.
Ok, enough of the capitals...

Fact: Week 2 of a baby's life can be a little bit like middle school. I.E - ugly phase. Baby acne, balding on top ala male-pattern-baldness (leaving a mullet of hair at the back...), dry skin peeling off, bogeys.... the list goes on.

Fact: As the mother you literally can't see any of the above.
[And even the chronic designer in you doesn't care that your child is wearing every clashing colour and pattern at once and has an ugly hat on their head. Because the hat is warm and... hello... your baby.]

Fact: You have probably never in your entire life experienced the concern and distress you feel when your baby is upset for an unknown reason. If they are not feeding right, not acting right, not sleeping right... it's killer. If your baby is crying, you can't concentrate on anything else. Not because of the noise, but because of some maternal animal instinct that is way stronger than you ever anticipated.

[Little munchkin...]
Fact: babies feed for 2 reasons. One is to eat, and one is for comfort. Total comfort eaters. Now I know where it all began...
Result: sore boobies.

[It had to be done]
Luxury = when someone else is at home and you can have a shower with the door closed! Closed I said! Yay!
Not luxury = when the skin on your hands starts peeling off from all the laundry detergent and poop-washing.

When you are not sleeping and the baby is crying and you FINALLY get them to sleep and then you creep back into bed after round 3 of settling the baby, and you think she is actually asleep this time, and you lay your head on the pillow only to hear..... your husband snoring.
Oh, the humanity.
Cue angry foot-stabbing and blanket jerking.

Jun 9, 2014


*this is the longest post I've ever written. 'Birth story' for those who love them is below in the second half of this post.*

We met our baby girl 4 days after her due date, in the middle of the night, after an intense but brief labour.

She was the tiniest, pinkest thing I had ever seen, screaming at the top of her lungs with a quivering jaw and floppy wet limbs.

The rest of that night she slept on my belly, curled up like a snail, and I just lay there in the hospital room feeling exhausted but not sleeping and snapping horrible dark grainy iPhone pictures.

In the morning our family came and I realise in hindsight that I was barely dressed and there was blood on the bedding where we were showing off our little treasure, but somehow that didn't even register as embarrassing. I guess when you have spent the night giving birth your perspective on decency and presentation changes... :)

I didn't sleep that night, or the next, and eventually a hospital midwife came and took our sweet girl away from me for a few hours so I could rest. What a blessing - 3 hours sleep was Christmas. We stayed 3 nights in hospital on top of the night when she was born. I wanted to go home after 1 or 2 because those long nights alone in a hospital bed, trying to figure out what your baby needs from you, while your husband sleeps in your huge bed at home are kind of miserable in a precious sort of way. Actually, Ella was and is a pretty good sleeper, but I was so wired, with so many thoughts and feelings in my head that it was hard to sleep anyway.

I ended up staying the full 4 days after some complications on the 3rd day. What can I say, I am still a bit traumatised by it -we must have pushed the emergency call button 3 times that day and I thank God that the right staff member/s happened to be on duty at the time. At one point I was lying on my back sucking on the gas and crying with several people poking and prodding me and that was definitely a low point. Everything from a migraine to the wrong meds to unspeakable gore happened that day; let's not get detailed.

On day 4 we took our baby home.
What a journey.
Until you have a baby yourself I don't think you can comprehend the significance of that short car journey with your precious cargo in the backseat. It was one of those perfectly beautiful days - the last day of autumn and the sun was so bright but the air was so cold. I haven't felt cold the entire time I was pregnant so I loved it. The whole way as we drove I kept thinking "the last time we made this trip I was in labour; Ella was in my belly; we hadn't met our girl; we had no idea what was coming." It was bizarrely special and overwhelming.

We cranked up all the heaters in our house and my husband had gone to huge effort to make the house nice and welcoming for me and our baby, but in honesty I barely noticed. I was so tired and in such a daze that I could barely shift my focus away from the massive life change we were experiencing. That night Ella fell asleep on my legs and we spent the next hour or 2 trying to figure out what to dress her in for bed, and how to make her bed, arranging and rearranging the layers of blankets with no idea whether she should have a sheet or be wrapped or whether it was safe to put blankets on her or how many blankets she would need? And while it sounds trivial, there were crocodile tears shed over the stress of those small decisions. I was so tired I could barely think. I just wished one of the hospital midwives would show up and tell us what to do.

On day 5 we were a little over ambitious and attempted to go out on a family picnic with our girl. We thought it would be fun to walk her around in her stroller and get some fresh air and take in some views. Har har. It took us hours to get ready to leave - finally we had packed a picnic and navigated our way through the baby carseat buckles and stroller assembly. When we got to our destination, we realised we had forgotten the bread (aka our meal), the wind was absolutely too freezing for our newborn, and I was in too much pain to walk anywhere. Rookies.

That was a lot of writing about the days since her birth.
It's better now. We are getting into a routine, and she is one of the sweetest most content babies I have met. I could gush for pages about how I love her and how she is showered in love from us and our families; how her funny faces make us laugh; how her little gasping cry breaks my brand-new-mummy heart; but you have probably heard those sort of cliches from other new parents and they will always just be cliches until you have your own and realise it's all true.

Maybe I should talk about the labour. I'm leaving this until the end so if you are disturbed by the topic of birth-giving.... exit now.

This is only my experience. If I have learnt anything about babies and pregnancy and labour, it's that there are not really any norms. My pregnancy was hellish, while others are sweet and smooth-sailing. My labour was brief, while others are.... not so.

I was due to give birth on Saturday but apart from a few Braxton Hicks (fake, painless contractions that feel like a tightening across your abdomen) there was nothing happening. We kept ourselves busy that day and I think we went out for brunch in town. Weirdly, I know that we had a lot of quality time and lots of dates and outings before Ella was born (we purposely tried to make the most of every minute) but I actually don't remember what we did.

Come Wednesday I was 3 days overdue but everything was as normal and I didn't feel any different. We decided to go and get a DVD out that night so we drove down to hire one. I was having those annoying Braxton Hicks again and didn't feel like hauling my heavy body from the car so Calum ducked into the store himself. Then I decided I really wanted some dark chocolate biscuits (unusual for me) and waited in the car again while Calum bought some TimTams. The Braxton Hicks were really uncomfortable and I kept shifting my weight and trying to loosen the seatbelt which was already loose. It wasn't exactly painful but, like I said, a tightening feeling around the belly.

We got home and I voted to watch the movie in bed because lying down just seemed so much easier than sitting up. Calum kept saying "You might be going into labour!" and getting all excited and I would roll my eyes and be like "These are just Braxton Hicks. Trust me, it's nothing. If it was labour I would know about it. Now pass me those TimTams."

After about 10 minutes of the movie I realised I had no idea what I was watching. I kept squirming and shuffling around trying to get comfortable and we started timing these fake contractions to find that they were in fact coming at steady 3 minute intervals and lasting about 5 seconds each.

Calum texted the midwife to tell her I was having 5 second contractions (lol) and she replied that if it was truly the start of labour we were in for a long night. She told us to go to bed, take a paracetamol, and get in touch in the morning if it was still going. So we flicked out the lights and nestled down for a nice sleep.
(FYI for context: Labour isn't really considered all-go unless your contractions are lasting a minute each, and coming every 3-4 minutes.)

In our antenatal classes we were warned how long labour can take the first time. Like, brace yourself for 16 hours kind of thing. We were encouraged to stay at home as long as possible since you have so many hours to get through. We were told how labour would start SLOWly and there would be plenty of time to get prepared. Our tutor even mentioned we should still go to any appointments we had made or still go on a lunch date with our friends during that early stage of SLOW labour. We made birth plans and included things like: having a long bath; watching a movie to distract yourself; packing up last-minute things into your hospital bag; massage; etc.


Within 5 minute of turning out the lights, I was just beginning to drift off, when I felt a sudden boot in my lower abdomen and HIT THE DECK. I mean actually rolled out of bed and dropped to the floor yelling and mashing my face into the mattress. It hit so fast that I didn't even know what was happening. Calum was startled out of his sleep and kept asking me "What's wrong? What's happening? How are you feeling? Are you ok?" and I was like STOP ASKING QUESTIONS AND USE YOUR INITIATIVE which is code for "I feel that I am in labour, kindly please call the midwife and request her assistance whilst running me a bath"

I got into the bath which I thought would be amazingly soothing on my cramping belly but actually it was just awkward - for some reason the pain that was hitting me every 3 minutes was the kind that requires you to physically brace yourself on something and instead I was flopping around like a beached whale with nothing to hold. After about 3 contractions I was like screw this get me out! And the husband near broke his back trying to haul this large mammal out of that tub.
Calum had the bright idea of timing the contractions and while they were still coming every 3 minutes, they were lasting 45seconds to a minute each. We felt like we had literally just talked to the midwife and we felt bad annoying her again so late in the evening. But the timing of the contractions was concerning so Calum paged her and she agreed to come check me out, but told him not to get his hopes up because it was unlikely that I was very far progressed, it being so early.
I don't think she really believed they were lasting a minute already, but she came round just to be nice.
She was greeted with wailing and huffing breaths and loud yells and she probably thought "Geez this girl is being a tad dramatic isn't she. It's only been an hour!"

At this point I had somehow ended up on a swiss ball rocking back and forth (so I did learn something from those antenatal class videos!) and hollering like nobody's business. Interestingly I am usually pretty quiet and I never would have pictured myself as a hollerer. But there I was, hollering my little lungs out. And spewing at the same time, also.

The midwife looked at me and got me on the bed to do the exam, which is a nice term for what it is.
After a minute she was like "Ok....  you are about to have a baby."

And that is how we ended up not having time to drive to Wellington hospital, and not having time to remember to pack the things we were going to add, and most definitely not having time for a massage or a bath.
Instead we ran (I hobbled in-between contractions) down the stairs and somehow we found ourselves racing to Kenepuru birthing units and next thing I knew I was whizzing across the carpark in a wheelchair and then, somehow, ended up in a delivery room on yet another swiss ball, stubbornly refusing to get off of it.

My birth plan included a hot tub and a potential water birth. So someone dutifully filled this big blow-up jacuzzi in the bathroom while I suffered in silence (kidding) and they put me on the gas.
I did not like the gas - it did nothing for the pain but instead it made my skin tingly and crawly all over and I felt awful but you can be certain I clutched that gas tube for dear life because it distracted me a fraction of a degree. And I remember my husband rubbing heat packs on my lower back but I had no idea until yesterday that he was running back and forth down the corridor for the entire labour to heat them in the microwave. I honestly thought he was there with me the whole time.

And I remember him asking me if I wanted pain killers, and I remember thinking STOP ASKING QUESTIONS because I just wanted to focus, focus, get through the next contraction, breathe, get through the next, and so on. I think I had my eyes closed the entire time because for some reason contractions take a lot of concentration.

And then the contractions got more intense and I was leaning back on the ball and my husband was trying for dear life to hold me up because I couldn't hold myself up and nope, I had no idea about this until a conversation last night when he told me.

Now this whole time, I was waiting for the midwife, who knows all things, to tell me when I was 10cm dilated so that I could push. Because you can't push until 10cm. But she didn't tell me and suddenly I heard myself saying "The baby's coming" because I just knew that that "bearing-down" feeling could only mean one thing and I felt like my body was starting to push without my permission anyway.

Nek minnut, I was up on the bed and I kept asking "Can I push yet?"
And the midwife was like "If you need to push, honeybun, then push."

So I did. And it hurt. And I screamed. Not hollered, screamed. After 3 pushes there was still no baby and being the stubborn woman that I am I made a pact with myself that on the next contraction I would get. this. baby. out. because I was sick of pushing and it hurt so much and I wanted it to be over and it felt like I would be pushing for the rest of my life.

Long story (involving the emergency button being pressed) short, the baby was there about one second later and I was STUNNED to see a little person looking at me and screaming and suddenly being laid on my chest.

And I was also stunned by the aftermath of birth - the fact that contractions continue after birth to get the placenta out; the absolute total mess that is everywhere especially all over me (literally covered in dried baby poop and blood. Somehow I just hadn't considered there would be mess like that.); the fact that they put you back on the gas (not again!) in order to examine you; the pain that follows childbirth (when you assume it should all be over); and so on.

So many things I could not be prepared for.

It was not quite 1am and there we were with our girl, a complete mess, and totally elated.

And the rest is already written at the top of this page.

Welcome to the world little Ella! We could not be happier.

May 27, 2014

Nursery progress...

So I'm still intact - our baby was not born during the weekend. It's nice to not be in excruciating pain, but its a bit weird not knowing when it's going to hit.

So although our nursery isn't 'finished' I decided to take some pictures this morning and share them here. The great news is that I don't have to get dressed or put on makeup to do this. I don't know if I have reinforced enough how much I dread putting on my maternity jeans. Them jeans being basically the only pregnant clothing available at the time, ever, along with perhaps 2 tops that I wear on rotation. Urg.
I digress...

We've tried to keep this room gender-neutral and also when I think about it, the only thing we bought new  was the cot ('crib' if you're American). The drawers were a second-hand find but they anger my sensitive pregnant nose because they absolutely stink of old-lady-perfume. I scrubbed them out and still no luck. I don't know if I can bear to curse my baby with clothes that smell like that but for now it's our only option.

You know how when you are not pregnant you see all these adorable nursery rooms on Pinterest or wherever and you think "I must save all these pictures for when I am knocked up! I will have the most perfect baby's room in the universe!" and then one day you find yourself impregnated, with neither the means nor the energy to actually implement that dream design in your head, and instead you have an awkward-shaped little room with bad-taste carpet, horrible window pelmets, and a really awful wardrobe that you're never going to post a photo of in your 'nursery progress' blog post?
And then you see other people doing their 'nursery reveal' weeks before their baby is due and it is impeccable but you are too tired/sore/beached to be jealous?

Anyway, here are some snapshots.

Nursery decor

That circus painting is from my childhood and it really needs a new frame because this one is literally falling off. One day...

Nursery decor

Nursery decor

For the record, these photos make the room look better than it is. Just saying. See, that is the power of the crop tool.
Ugly wardobe *crop*
Excessive green carpet *crop*
Yellow ancient light switches *crop*

Then again, it's come a long way. You can see the before-and-after paint job here.

I couldn't do much to crop out the really-old-discoloured-chair-with-a-duvet-on-it situation, but I'm not going to apologise because me and that duvet are like *this*. 

Nursery decor

Nursery decor

So, that's our nursery. And maybe one day if we replace the doors and carpet and perhaps redo the armchair, I hope to show you a completed 'reveal'.
Until then, we have a baby to meet :)