Un-pregnant

I’m meant to be having a post-birth hormonal crash about now, but instead I’m manic. Instead of lying awake sorting out clever turns of phrase that will be lost by morning, I’m taking advantage of both kids being asleep to write the end of my pregnancy story before it fades away.

CJ and I only ever planned to have two kids, and have never felt the need to question that decision (the closest we came was during first trimester with Louisette, when pregnancy first showed its horror and there was SO MUCH pregnancy still to go). Now that TJ (the artist formerly known as Puggle) is born, the pregnancy monster lies passed out and helpless at my feet. We will be Taking Measures to ensure it never rises again. Metaphorically speaking, we’ll be decapitating it with a sacred blade; staking, salting and burning the corpse; and burying the pieces at a crossroads.

I love my kids with an overwhelming passion – but I love not being pregnant almost as much.

When Louisette was born, I live blogged the entire labor (with assistance from CJ and my sister) and then wrote a 5000-word epic of the labor experience. I’m one of those writers who doesn’t feel like something is real until it’s been described – and it seems my second labor is rattling around asking for the same treatment. There is a time pressure, too – people say “You forget what it’s like” about labor, and I believe that there’s some kind of chemical going on that makes sure that is true. I remember last time feeling like the memories of labor were being siphoned away from me (not that I minded too much – after all, I’d written the story and was happy to move on).

For TJ, the labor story really began with Louisette. After she was born, certain aspects of pregnancy lingered, and the threat of another nightmare pregnancy loomed large in many decisions (both large and small – I bought a really nice exercise bike so I could still exercise even if all I could do was a couple of minutes; I grew out my fringe because I’d be too sick to take twenty seconds to straighten it; I started using an electric toothbrush to minimise nausea; I bought a thermomix so cooking was simpler; we bought a house with no internal stairs to torment an exhausted and sore pregnant lady – all these were incredibly useful). Since Louisette’s conception over three years ago I’ve been in pain and/or illness more often than not. The worst side-effect post-pregnancy has been that the same hormone that loosens muscles for birth (which it does VERY well – you’ll notice I have NO permanent side effects from either birth) . . . loosens muscles. My hips have been a huge issue, falling and twisting out of place both during and between pregnancies. Walking hurts, and turning over in bed (already an unwieldy process) has hurt so much for so long that I grew into the habit of counting the hours until dawn, when I could give up on sleep and start another day.

So, muscle pain. That’s a problem.

Also, food. After Louisette was born I had really gross and chronic digestive issues and had to have a colonoscopy (everyone else there was retirement age, which I told myself meant that my fat bum would look comparatively good to the male stranger who’d be taking far too close a look at it) and was told to go on a low FODMAP diet. Essentially, my body has issues with every form of sugar other than glucose – so all dairy, starch, fruit and vegetables MIGHT be an issue. The good thing about the low FODMAP diet is that all things are permissible in small quantities. The bad thing is that it’s immensely complex – not only does it involve hundreds of food intolerances, it varies from person to person. There are lists of the most to least likely illness-causing foods, but ultimately someone on a low FODMAP diet has to take a LOT of time to work out what they can and can’t eat. This was a big factor in my getting pregnant sooner than we originally planned (we were going to wait until Louisette was toilet trained, which definitely would have made this pregnancy easier – sure enough, with a very sick mum, Louisette didn’t respond at all well to toilet training and we ultimately gave up until later) – there was no point in me working out what I could and could’t eat when I’d just get pregnant and shake everything up all over again.

I didn’t gain all that much long-term weight from Louisette’s pregnancy, but I wanted so badly to be a bit closer to the healthy weight range that I tried over and over to lose weight, with disastrous results. Not only did I gain 20 kilos AFTER she was born (okay, half of that was from the stress of buying and moving into the new house) but every time I lose a few kilos I became sick (presumably because losing weight + broken sleep due to a small child = fail). On one of those occasions (Louisette was nine months old) I had bronchitis. The coughing combined with my still-far-too-loose muscles resulted in a prolapsed uterus (that is, my womb shifted position and stuck). It wasn’t really a big deal except for when I stood or walked somewhere. Sooooo. . . . . even a tiny bit of walking has been difficult for two and a half years. What laughs.

There was one other very obvious change in my health since Louisette was born: my seven years of mental illness was over. I gave her life, but she also gave me life. For the first time, I became a functioning adult. There are certain things I’m still super neurotic about – one reason I can’t sleep right now is that I’m going to Canberra Hospital tomorrow, and the parking is so bad that I’m literally phobic about it – and I’ve discovered that every time I get physically sick or in pain (eg when my hip is particularly bad) the mental illness returns. BUT fundamentally my mental health is about average. I could stay up all night trying to find a way to express how good that is, but I won’t. Because I have a new baby and that would be crazy 🙂

As a result of the above, I was obese going into my second pregnancy. I accepted that it was unlikely to be pretty, but since I couldn’t fix my health until I’d finished wrecking it (by having babies), I realised delaying the next child would probably just leave me MORE obese. So we began trying for baby #2, and were blessed to score a goal (as it were) first time. We weren’t in a great financial position (having just bought a house and thermomix!) but oh well.

I found out I was pregnant before I was even four weeks along (that is, before my period was late), and had already noticed weight gain. Throughout the pregnancy, people have commented with breathless startlement at the size of my belly, and have been saying, “Any day now, huh?” since I was five months along. This was all quite amusing to me, and I was at peace with the possibility of an emergency C-section. Last time was a natural birth, and I knew how lucky I was. I didn’t expect to be so lucky twice (spoiler alert: I wasn’t).

Thanks in large part to a workmate doing 90% of my job in addition to her own, I managed to scrape through at work for all of first trimester – ultimately meaning that I qualify for the paid parental leave scheme, worth $10,000. Which, due to loss of income/loss of ability to eat normally/loss of ability to look after Louisette (and the list goes on) for all of 2014, pretty much exactly covers the amount of debt caused solely by the pregnancy (luckily, the way I parent, kids don’t cost all that much).

Like the first pregnancy, I was extremely nauseous for the entire time, and in a lot of pain. The nausea wasn’t quite as bad (but bad enough, believe me), but the pain was a LOT worse. For months now I’ve been doing well if I slept for a two-hour period before waking up. The lack of sleep plus hormones meant that I was VERY miserable (being sick of course meant that I was back in mental illness land), and quickly saw signs of impending psychosis. My grip on reality loosened. Sometimes I saw food on TV and was about to walk across the room and eat it; other times it was difficult to sort my dreams (wacko pregnancy dreams, too) from reality. A couple of weeks ago, inspired by TJ’s remarkably strong kicking from inside my belly (I could tell by looking at my stomach if he was using his arms or legs, because of the size of the lumps he created THROUGH MY SKIN), I dreamt that I had a condition called “pregnancy rats” in which live adult rats lived in my stomach, co-existing with the baby and unable to be removed until after the birth. For several hours I didn’t realise this was not a real thing (I had it shelved under, “Yet another gross and unsolvable bit of pregnancy crap”).

In addition to wacky mental issues, I had carpal tunnel syndrome (no big deal compared to the rest), migraines (usually “silent” fortunately, but I generally had some kind of visual issue and/or hallucination daily for eight months – weird floating kaleidoscope shapes, or everything including Louisette looking green), incontinence, and an irritable uterus (meaning I’d get genuine contractions if I did certain things, such as walk or get overheated, and my likelihood of a premmie was higher than the norm).

The back pain was less this pregnancy (possibly because I had daily warm baths from the halfway point onwards due to the hip and leg pain).

And then came the diabetes. I tested positive at 29 weeks, and that was when this pregnancy officially became worse than the first. Believe me, that’s a big call. Believe me, I was right. Already nauseous and on a low FODMAP diet, I now was on a diabetes diet. I was already struggling to eat three not-completely-crap meals a day, and diabetes was the last thing I needed. Oh, and I was already struggling not to become an abusive mum to Louisette, and GOING ON A DIET is NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT a good idea. From that point on, as I tried NOT to doom my second child to a variety of health problems, I was physically ill roughly once a day as I tried and failed to find healthy foods that I was able to eat. Ultimately I found a few, but not enough to last a single day’s worth of meals and snacks.

I tapped even more heavily into the kindness of our friends and family in order to keep Louisette safe from her own mum. My misery and rage didn’t feel like it was under control. Shockingly, this did not help me feel better about life. Nor did it help that, even with loads of insulin and medical support, I never did get my blood sugars under control. So I had all the high blood sugar rubbish plus horrific mother guilt as I simultaneously failed to look after both my kids. Louisette had had a lot of bad days since I first became pregnant, but the instant I was diagnosed with diabetes her worst days became statistically normal (one of my friends who I invited over specifically to help me not snap was unable to cope himself and had to take a break elsewhere before coming back). And my inability to cope with diabetes for a few months was possibly sentencing my innocent unborn son to a lifetime of the disease – plus a host of other potential complications.

So, that sucked. By the end of the pregnancy I was doing blood tests and injections eight times a day (at specific, nausea-inducing and sleep-breaking times). One of the needles (a blood thinner to prevent potentially deadly clots) was an inch long, needed to be pushed in and pulled out because of the needle size, and left bruises. I’d inject it just before lunch because it sometimes made me dizzy. Over time, I filled half of a two-litre juice bottle with discarded sharps.

Other than food issues, the worst part was that the second I was on insulin (which was within days) I was ripped from both the birth centre program (I never saw my midwife again) and even my hospital. Every woman with insulin-dependent gestational diabetes has to go through Canberra Hospital’s public system, because that’s the only hospital with enough diabetes specialists to have someone on hand at all hours of day and night. The horrible irony was that I’d begun at the CH birth centre and left it when the Belconnen birth centre was completed. I would have loved so much to go through the Belco centre!!

From then until now, I’ve seen fifty or sixty different medical professionals instead of my one primary midwife (with three backups to make sure someone I knew was taking care of me during labor). I rarely saw the same person twice. Home visits stopped, meaning that I had to do all my checkups at the hated Canberra Hospital. (I was physically unable to do so, so CJ – under pressure from understaffing at work – had to take time off to physically take me there and back every single time. Even sitting in the car as a passenger was enough to make me sicker for up to three days.) I didn’t understand the public hospital system and no-one explained it to me (or seemed to even grasp the big picture themselves – stupid stuff like getting a list of necessary supplies for labor took months of constant active seeking on my part). I felt incredibly alone.

And then, at 34 weeks, I went into labor. I like to think I’d never endanger my children’s health, but diabetes had already proved THAT wrong. So I sat in hospital – alone most of the time, because my stay ended up being four days – in a potent mix of pain and hope and concern; hoping TJ would be fine, but hoping he’d be born early so I could get better and Louisette could be safe and happy and so our friends and family didn’t have to continue doing so much for me for another month. I was given medication to rapidly mature TJ’s lungs and to stall labor. On the Friday night I had moderately painful contractions five minutes apart for seven hours, and called in CJ and my sister, convinced that the moment had come. It was a sickeningly different experience to my painful-but-happy labor with Louisette. TJ’s medication course wasn’t done until the following morning, so I was given three types of medicine to try to stop the labor, and I stayed in bed rather than moving around (moving helps with pain, and tends to progress the labor). The midwife on shift at the time was snarky (mostly because I snarked at her first, having just had someone confiscate all my medicine so it could be officially administered by staff – taking my power away and giving it to people with more important things to do than keep track of my minutiae), and even CJ and my sister clearly just wanted to go home and go to sleep. I knew I was already partly dilated, but an internal exam was too risky for TJ so I had to trust my judgement (the same judgement that wasn’t entirely sure I was really in labor with Louisette even when I’d been up all night and was five cm dilated). Finally they did an internal exam and. . . nothing had changed. I was still 1cm dilated.

That was not a good night.

The stay in hospital was interesting. I liked that something novel was happening pregnancy-wise, and that it looked like I’d have a baby any second. I’d never stayed in hospital before, so even the food was quite interesting. I was incredibly impressed with virtually all the staff – particularly how rapidly so many of them were able to establish a rapport with me in the few minutes before they had to go do something else. It was overwhelmingly clear, however, that the hospital is overcrowded and understaffed. I was constantly getting told, “You need such-and-such. I’ll take care of that for you” and then hearing nothing more about such-and-such ever again, even when I patiently asked about it every few hours (generally to a different person each time). I’d packed in a hurry and between contractions, expecting to either be told, “You are stupid. Go home at once” or, “Uh oh, your baby is coming today!” – rather than the reality of sitting around on the verge for four days, then going home – so I hadn’t brought the panadeine that was keeping my migraines from developing into the usual migraine pattern of 3 days of agony. I let staff know about the panadeine, and they assured me they’d take care of it.

They didn’t. And it turns out that the anti-labor meds often cause headaches. So I had a migraine for six hours that I didn’t need to have. (Despite the fact that his cuts to health haven’t taken effect yet, I blame Tony Abbott. At the moment, it would be unAustralian not to.) That kind of thing happened all day, every day – and indeed, every visit. My feeling of being alone grew sharper, and so did my awareness that family and friends – including CJ – were worn out from taking care of me. (It’s worth noting that no-one ever complained, not even CJ.)

Then I went home, still having contractions (and other symptoms, including a cough developing into bronchitis – absolute torture with muscle sensitivity and bladder weakness). Getting through the day was always so, so hard. I knew my cough would stay with me (I don’t get better from illness while pregnant) and was scared I’d have a C-section and then bust the stitches by coughing.

And the weeks passed.

I made an educated guess that I would have an induction on Thursday 12 June, at 38 and a half weeks (one of the risks of induction is getting the due date wrong and inducing too early, so the extra half week seemed a good idea, plus it was a day care day for Louisette so it all worked) but after a particularly long break from reality (the pregnancy rats) I decided to try and see if I could book in the Monday instead. Unfortunately, Monday 9 June was a public holiday. And my sister works on Tuesday and Wednesday. I hatched an unlikely scheme of being induced on 6 June instead – two days before I reached 38 weeks. (Incidentally, the hospital doesn’t book inductions until two weeks beforehand, AND assures patients that they are “highly likely” to get bumped on the day if it’s busy – which it always is, eg. CJ and TJ and I actually had to shift rooms twice between midnight and 7am last Saturday – the 7 hours after TJ was born!)

In a gloriously unexpected twist, the staff said yes. With that, six days was shaved off my pregnancy. That remains one of the happiest moments of the pregnancy (during which I had more public meltdowns than I can remember distinctly enough to count). I was almost as scared of getting bumped as I was of dealing with a C-section. (The C-section itself sounded like a really interesting experience – way better than labor – but the idea of being helpless and in pain for ANOTHER 6-8 weeks, right when Louisette most needed reassurance and TJ most needed care, horrified me.)

The babysitters were prepped; the day arrived. We were booked in for 7am. We sat in a public kitchenette for about an hour, then in a birthing room for another hour or two (including a really long period of time measuring TJ’s stats – my belly was far too big for the measuring devices to stay in place, and the midwife was too busy to use a better method). CJ and my sister and I played a game of Settlers as we waited for the doctor to arrive. I won the game.

Finally, after five hours, the induction began – my water was broken. It hurt a fair bit and was really a slow leak rather than a big gush. My muscle pain was very bad and so it hurt to move, but I couldn’t stay still. TJ’s head was sitting on my urethra, meaning that I was painfully busting to go to the toilet, but physically unable to do so properly (while still having bodily fluids dripping down my legs, which really grossed me out). I was on a massive drip to stay hydrated (via a big giant canula needle that took three tries to get in, and had to get placed in my hand – an awkward position – until twelve hours after the birth), and TJ was monitored by a thing stuck painfully to his head, with a cord coming out that was taped to my leg. Louisette LOVES doctors, hospitals, and even injections (seriously, including her own!) and I remember thinking how fascinated she’d be by it all.

TJ’s heartbeat immediately showed distress, and they sped up my saline drip in hopes that it was merely dehydration. My stomach was rumbling with hunger – CJ was already on his way to buy me food – when I was advised to stop eating or drinking because a C-section was likely if TJ didn’t calm down. He was badly positioned (posterior) too – likely to do a lot of damage on the way out, and take a long time. My sister and CJ had some food and we talked about C-sections. I was already exhausted from the long morning, and in pain (as usual), so a part of me didn’t mind that I’d be facing another 6-8 weeks of being a useless parent with constant pain (and therefore continuing mental issues). The likelihood of C-section remained for an hour – then TJ’s heart rate calmed and we were (probably) in the clear.

They started the syntocin drip around 2pm. The contractions intensified pretty soon, and the monitor (still strapped to my belly) was showing them as being 2-3 times more powerful than the lotsa-contractions Friday of the month before – but they weren’t nearly so painful. Wacky and awesome. TJ shifted into a better position. Things were looking good.

Things changed fast. The contractions got somewhat painful, and I felt awful. With Louisette, I felt basically fine between contractions. With TJ, I still felt awful – so much muscle pain – and I was so angry at all I’d already been through since getting diabetes. I wanted to scream abuse at CJ and my sister, and I wanted to burn down the hospital and everyone in it. CJ and my sister took turns pressing on, massaging, and applying a heat pack to my back, which was the only form of pain killer that I had (other than Panadol; I was not allowed to use the bath, which had been super effective with Louisette). I could tell they were helping, but it felt like their touch was causing the contractions – a bit like the worst massage ever. My body went into “can’t handle this” mode, shaking so violently I wanted to cry out in pain from that alone. (With Louisette, I started shaking at around 8cm, when she was relatively close to arrival).

Things HAD to be progressing fast (some people have their baby induced in an hour). I was beginning to think an epidural might be a good idea (interesting, since I never once felt like an epidural the first time I was in labor). Badly in need of encouragement around 4pm (and sad to know there was now virtually no chance Louisette could meet her brother that day), I said I was thinking about an epidural, and asked for them to do the planned internal exam around 4:45 instead of 5pm.

I barely made it to the internal exam without just screaming for an epidural, and at no point did an epidural NOT seem like an excellent idea. The midwife and CJ and my sister were all trying to gently encourage me onto another path – since I was “doing so well” (which I most definitely was NOT).

The exam showed that I was only 2.5cm – not even in established labor. Gah! The midwife tried to convince me that my cervix was doing wonderful and useful things, but I wasn’t having a bar of it. I gave it a little more thought, then said firmly and calmly that I wanted an epidural as soon as possible.

Of course the doctor was busy.

The next hour was a special kind of awful. The muscle pain and bitter misery continued to increase, and the shaking hurt. I felt like my body was going into shock. The contractions grew stronger, and closer together – and I knew that every minute of pain was now utterly pointless. This did not improve my mood.

At last the doctor arrived and began talking to me about the benefits and hazards of an epidural. This is the point in movies where a women grabs the doctor by the front of their shirt and screams, “Give me the epidural NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

I listed a few benefits and risks off the top of my head, and the doctor, impressed, began to sterilise herself ready for the procedure. She emphasised the need for me to stay absolutely still (yes, while shaking uncontrollably and having contractions that made me want to kill all humans). This is of course vital when one is injecting someone’s spine with a giant needle. (Re-read that sentence, and you’ll know why not everyone chooses the epidural route. There’s a fairly self-explanatory danger of permanent paralysis involved, among other things.)

She started with a little needle to numb the area (genuinely little), then inserted the main one (which didn’t hurt), telling me what was happening and keeping CJ and my sister on the opposite side of the bed, not allowed to touch me other than holding my hands and helping brace my shoulders to try and prevent movement. I still don’t how it happened, but for some reason the shaking stopped and the contractions didn’t make me writhe in pain. To this day, I don’t feel like my lack of motion was due to any control on my part. I guess it was a miracle. Whatever it was, I’m grateful.

The whole procedure took about twenty minutes, then I was given a button to press any time I felt the slightest contractionyness. I started to feel a bit better, and therefore calmer. You’re basically not allowed to move after an epidural – you have to lie on your back until it’s time to push. As the pain decreased, I was able to be comfortable on my back – heck, just comfortable – for the first time in over six months. It was great! A lot of women feel like an epidural takes their control away. I felt like it put me back in control, for the first time in months. It was glorious.

I said as much to CJ and my sister, and advised both of them to get epidurals at their earliest convenience. My sister watched the monitor and sometimes told me, “You’re having a contraction. A big one.”

“Really?” I said. “Huh. Cool.”

Every so often I felt a flutter of movement in my belly and pushed the button. CJ and I both dozed and my sister played on her ipad. My skin itched in patches, but it was equal parts amusing and annoying. That five hours was AWESOME. The midwife came in at 11pm, did an internal exam, and told me I was fully dilated.

“Huh,” I said. “Cool.”

I liked the idea of having TJ on 6/6th, and asked if that was still possible.

“Yep.”

“Huh,” I said. “Cool.”

She said she’d come back in half an hour and we’d do some pushing. CJ, my sister and I grinned at each other and talked about whether CJ’s boss (who we like a lot, and who’d bet on 6/6th) would win the pool at his work.

Then my brother in law phoned my sister. One of their two little girls was very sick – sick enough that he wanted her to come home immediately in case they needed to rush to hospital. At that stage I was far more concerned about their family than my own, but I still felt that my sister should stay with me for an extra hour and get the job done – I said so, and began figuring out ways to do her “tasks” (informing our immediate family of the good news, taking photos, etc) without her so she could leave as soon as possible after the birth (in the end, she didn’t even get to hold TJ before she went home – and her daughter had taken a turn for the better, so all was well except for an understandably pissed husband). She told her husband how close we were, and that she would be home soon – but not immediately.

The midwife came in and asked if I’d like to start pushing “now” (11:30pm) or in half an hour. Of course I said now – and asked for a reminder of why forceps were bad (other than the, “Why are you sticking giant metal salad tongs up my privates?” factor) – and was reminded that it can hurt the baby.

And so I started to push.

I mentioned that I’d pushed from a kneeling position last time, and it had worked really well (because gravity etc – giving birth in a bed is handy for staff, but not generally so great for the process itself). She said we’d try pushing from a lying down position and see how it went.

Pushing was so, so weird. I had some sensation, but not much. I could move my feet and tell when something firmly touched me – but it felt like even that small amount of sensation was a long, long way away. I discovered with Louisette that pushing is a bit of a knack. Pushing during an epidural was also a knack – but I literally felt like I was doing nothing at all. Trying REALLY, REALLY hard to follow instructions, but having absolutely no idea what was going on. It was a bit like that game when one person puts their hands behind their back and another person supplies their arms from behind a sheet. They try to work together, but the person with active arms just has to hope for the best. I at least had a midwife saying, “Yes that’s right you’ve got it” or “Push down. Down into the bed.”

After a bit we switched to a kneeling position – in the adjustable beds, the head stands up so high I could lean my arms on it for support. I had enough sensation to feel TJ’s head coming out, and he was close enough to the exit that I could tell when my pushing helped him move further out – but there was still absolutely no pain. (That’s not quite true; I was working so hard on pushing that my head ached. The midwife, CJ, and my sister were all extremely helpful – all around me, holding me steady and even holding me up sometimes.) It was still exhausting, and I struggled to continue putting my all into those difficult, phantom pushes. I knew TJ’s head was close enough to easily touch from the outside, but I couldn’t reach him around my giant belly. Still, he was coming. I just had to keep going, and hope my body didn’t give up on me in the meantime.

Then – sploosh! TJ fell out of me onto the bed, all in one go.

“He’s perfect!” my sister cried out. “He’s so beautiful!”

“Oh, wow,” said CJ. “Hello there little man.”

I tried to turn around to see him and couldn’t, because my body was too awkward. The others cooed over him, delighted. Then at last the midwife passed him up through my legs (the afterbirth was still inside, attached by the umbilical cord) and up into my arms. He was GORGEOUS, with a perfect head of pitch-black hair and a highly vocal complaint about his day.

We looked at the clock and it said 12:01. My sister very cleverly produced her phone, which said 11:59 – and we took that as the official time (probably more accurate than a cheap hospital clock anyway). “Rest Upon Me Still” by Eluvia – his Uncle Bil’s band – was playing as TJ arrived.

And that’s how my son was born.

——————————————————————————

That was Friday night; today is Tuesday. For the first two days my muscle pain was even worse than during pregnancy. Yesterday it had improved to the point that I was better off. It’s still improving (I’m also still nauseous, which is especially annoying – but also improving). Right now it feels like I’ve been moving house all day (sore arms, very sore back), and have also been punched twice in the chest and three times in the stomach (after doing a thousand sit-ups on some kind of stupid dare). I still cough a bit, which in the moment makes me feel as if someone is simultaneously kicking me in the back, stomach and crotch. But my lady parts are in surprisingly good shape (despite having only slightly less stitches than last time), my migraines are gone, and – gloriously – I have no more diabetes. I do have “afterpains” (that is, contractions), but they’re both useful (organs moving back into place and so on) and already fading.

Today CJ dropped me at the mailbox on our way home from a checkup and I walked the rest of the way into the house; a distance great enough to feel that I’d pushed myself physically but hadn’t pushed far enough to do damage. Perhaps tomorrow I’ll be able to walk there and back.

My giant belly has largely remained. A lot of that will shrink as the excess fluids in my body are slowly cycled out of my system in the next week or two. But some will remain, and that does suck. I really don’t need to spend the rest of my life being constantly congratulated on my obvious pregnancy (it seriously has happened around once a month since Louisette was born, and I’m WAY bigger now).

TJ is particularly bad at breastfeeding, and my pre-milk and milk supply is particularly low (both possible epidural side effects – increased by my decision to safeguard his blood sugar levels by giving him bottles very early on), so it’s unlikely my half-hearted breastfeeding attempts will continue for long (we’ve had two decent feeds out of a dozen attempts, including one which had me crying in frustration and pain – it’s very difficult to get comfortable while breastfeeding, and I was already barely walking). I made a decision long ago not to put myself through all the rubbish I suffered trying to produce more milk for Louisette – the truth is that I hate breastfeeding, and love the security and convenience of bottle feeding. So that’s fine.

Generally a new mum has a massive hormonal crash 3-4 days after a birth, and also suddenly (painfully) produces loads of milk. Neither of those things has ever happened to me. In fact I’m high as a kite on happy hormones (and of course the relief to not be pregnant any more, or ever again). It really is a honeymoon period – the chemical signature is similar, including the smug conviction that the rest of the world has yet to experience this brilliant thing, and must be told all about it at once (ahem). Today I got teary listening to “I am a poor man” by FLAP in the car (“I am a poor man/ But I am not ashamed/ I’ve got you on my mind instead of money on my brain”) because it’s SO romantic and it’s JUST LIKE US. Ah, hormones. It’s good to have you working for me for once.

Louisette has been all sweetness, gentleness and light. She’s so happy to be a big sister that she’s developed a new laugh since TJ was born.

I’m pretty happy myself 🙂

(Photos later; Mummy need go sleep time now.)

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