This is a guest post from someone I know in real life. She is also a first time mum and wanted to share her story to help other mums. I’ve previously shared my stories of how Autumn fell critically ill at 2 weeks old, my subsequent anxiety and how we had to give up breastfeeding. However, a lot of mums have a tough time in one way or another.
This powerful story discusses bleeding in early pregnancy, labour with some complications, bonding issues, tongue tie and a failed tongue tie procedure once the baby was born. Please be warned that it may be triggering for some.
I am a first time mum; this is my experience with my difficulties with breast feeding and tongue tie mixed with all those hormones and emotions.
It all started when my partner and I decided to start trying to have a baby as of the 1st June 2015. We thought it was going to take some time to fall pregnant due to my periods being a bit hit and miss. I secretly hoped that it would happen quickly so every month I took a test and watched patiently for the test to tell me the outcome. June: negative, July: negative, August: negative, September: negative. Every month, disappointment spread through me. Not to mention my periods had started off normal but then between August and September started taking a nose dive on being regular. We both took that as confirmation we were in for a wait for that special moment to happen.
October went as fast as it came. I was busy at work and moving the remainder of my partners belongings from his parents into our home. At this point we had had the house for a year! But this was the month that my partner proposed. I was over the moon and could not stop looking at the ring and thinking about our special day when we would be husband and wife.
Weeks passed and it was not until I was having my hair done that I suddenly got shooting pains in my right side. The next day I still had the pains in my side and thought it could be the start of my period, but two days later nothing had appeared. I therefore thought that there was no harm in doing a pregnancy test.
I had the expectation of just seeing the one line as I had seen with the previous test, but what I saw took my breath away and had to grab hold of the sink for support. There were two lines appearing on the test.
I cannot remember how long I stood there looking at the test in disbelief. I felt sick, faint and panic spread though me. I had wanted this so much but suddenly I was questioning if this was right? Was I ready? I managed to compose myself and got showered and dressed ready for work. My partner got up and I wondered if I should tell him then or wait until he returned home from work. In the kitchen before I was about to leave for work I had an overwhelming urge to tell him. I asked him how much he loved me and told him that he would have to love me a little bit more. He looked confused, until I told him I was pregnant. His reaction was perfect and I will never forget the look on his face. His reaction reassured me that I could do this, we could do this.
It was so weird to go to work having just found out this life changing news. Keeping it a secret when all I wanted to do was shout it from the roof top.
That weekend we had friends to stay for bonfire night. It was so difficult not to tell them. We were excited; however little did we know that three days later we would be sitting in A&E wondering if we were losing our baby.
In the early hours of Wednesday morning, I suddenly awoke to a feeling of being wet. I rushed to the toilet to find I was losing some blood. If it had been spotting I would not have been so worried, but it was more than that. I called out for my partner. He rushed in and I told him what had happened. I cleaned myself up and sat in the bathroom and cried, whilst holding onto my partner not wanting to let him go. I could not believe that my worst nightmare could be coming true.
Eventually I returned back to bed and drifted off into an uneasy sleep.
As soon as the doctors opened, I called and was told to go straight to A&E. At A&E they asked what had happened and took blood and a urine samples, before sending us to the early labour ward. We sat and waited and eventually a nurse came and took down what had happened again. We then waited and waited for the test results to come back. A couple of doctors spoke to me, but the main results had still not come back. About 3pm we saw another doctor who had the results and confirmed I was still pregnant, however he wanted me to have a scan and booked me in for an emergency scan on the Friday.
Thursday disappeared into a blur and finally Friday arrived. The scan was carried out and to our relief they confirmed we were still pregnant. The baby looked like a peanut, so from that moment our baby would be known as peanut. We were over the moon to find out our baby was still alive. The doctors explained that they believed the foetus had bruised my womb and this is what had caused the bleeding.
I had no further complications throughout my pregnancy; however, I remained cautious throughout the whole time, checking my knickers every time I visited the toilet. The reality of potentially losing my baby stayed with me every day and I felt like I did not fully connect to the bump, just in case the unthinkable happened.
Being pregnant is a feeling that you cannot explain or put down in words. I thought I would be able to continue with my everyday life as before. To a degree I succeeded, apart from the constipation which kicked in at 4 months pregnant and the ever growing bump which started to slow me down. The last trimester did start taking its toll on me, with water retention, carpal tunnel in my fingers and tiredness. My weight went from 9 stone to 11. Chocolate became my addiction (which may have contributed to weight) and I had naps through the day on a weekend and after work on a weekday. I only worked a 10 minute walk from home, yet that walk was more than I could cope with, so I drove to work every day.
I decided to go on maternity leave the day of my due date. Yes I know, a stupid idea, which thankfully worked out for me. Before I knew it my last day of work arrived. I said goodbye to my friends and work colleagues and left work to start my new journey. I felt lost without having somewhere to be, so all I had to keep me occupied was housework. The house ended up being spotless. Four days later there was still no baby; however, I thought I was having light contractions.
On day 5 in the morning I visited the chemist to collect a prescription and it was hard going. By 2pm I knew why. My contractions had started. The contractions were 5 minutes apart and lasting about 40 seconds. I called the hospital and they recommended I took some paracetamol and call my partner to return home. As this was a first pregnancy, they said baby could come at any time. They also told me to have a warm bath. I decided to wait for my partner to come home as I really did not think I could have got out of the bath on my own and by the time my partner would have arrived home, I would have turned into a prune.
My partner arrived home and helped me into the bath. I only had one contraction while I was in the bath but this was the calm before the storm. An hour later my contractions were back and more painful than ever.
I managed to eat some dinner, but by 8pm the contractions were so painful and my partner contacted the ward. The midwife wanted to talk to me and all I could do is yell “No, I can’t talk” to my partner. The midwife told us to come in to be assessed. We were lucky as the hospital was only a 10 minute drive away.
We were shown to a room on the unit. I felt really lucky; it was the biggest room. I was told I could use one of the pool rooms and was allocated the bigger of the two.
Upon examination she told me I was already 4cm. I was so shocked! I did an hour on gas and air in the room and was given an anti-sickness injection. By 11pm I was told I could get into the pool, so we moved my belongings to the room and I got into the pool. I continued with the gas and air, until suddenly I came over feeling really sick and asked my partner to quickly find a bowl. In the nick of time he found the bowl and I threw up, filling two bowls. So much for the anti-sickness injection!
The midwife confirmed I was at 8 to 9cm, which put an end to my secret thoughts of an epidural. I had protested about having one all through my pregnancy but I knew that they would not provide an epidural this far into the birth. Soon I found I was at the point of pushing. I could only just get my feet to reach the other end of the pool to stabilize myself. In retrospect I should have got out of the pool and gone for a normal birth. The pool was so big and I could not get comfortable.
The midwife announced that the baby had loads of hair, but within seconds her voice changed and told me to quickly get out of the pool. The baby had pooed inside me.
In my head I was thinking how on earth I am going to get out of this pool. I couldn’t be lifted out; the midwives were not allowed to help. I somehow managed this task and lay on the bed in the pool room. The midwife told me to do some pushes so she could see how far the baby was coming down. Unfortunately the baby was still springing back up.
Next thing I knew, another bed was rushed in and Iwas told to get on it. Seriously? Mid labour and pushing and I have to change beds again. Towels were thrown on me and we were rushed up to delivery suite. I was then told to climb onto yet another bed. From this point forward the details became a little hazy.
I am told that I was pushing for about an hour in the delivery room. I remember them removing parts of the bed to ensure the midwives could see what was going on. My partner respected my wishes and stood by my head. The pain and the pressure was so immense. It felt like every contraction merged into another contraction with no break.
Due to lack of funding in the area the anti-natal classes were cancelled, so I was flying blind. The midwife was telling me to push, so I pushed but I was puffing out my cheeks. The midwife and my partner were telling me off and told me to push into my bum. I really thought my whole insides were going to fall out, until finally the end was near. They told me the head is out and with the next contraction really push. So I pushed hard and felt them twist my baby out. My partner said he could still see our baby come into the world from where he was standing.
Next thing I knew, they had put my baby on my chest. I turned to my partner who told me we had a baby boy.
I never wanted the baby with all the gross stuff on them put straight on my chest. But when it came to it I really didn’t mind as I only had a bikini top on.
I remember them sorting out where my partner needed to cut the cord. However, they said it would need to be done quickly as they need to get my son checked to ensure he had not swallowed any of the poo. I sort of remember my partner cutting the cord and then my son was gone.
The midwives returned my son quickly and put him on my chest however I was so hot. I asked for my partner to take my son off me. I was thinking that I can’t hold him in case I passed out, and I needed my son to be kept safe. I knew that my partner could keep him safe.
I was then told that they need to deliver the placenta. I remember them pushing on my stomach and a tug and the placenta was out. However, seconds later I felt a gush of fluid come away. Next thing, the alarm was sounded and I was aware of lots of people come rushing in. My partner said six people entered the room. I am not sure if I was conscious or not all the time through the next three hours but I only remember little bits. Later I found out I had lost 760ml of blood. A blood clot had been forming right behind the placenta, which is why when the placenta came away, so did the blood.
I remember a lady putting a cannula in my wrist and them telling me that they are giving my some fluids of some sort. Later I was told I was given two lots of fluids, medicine to assist with the contracting of the uterus and because I felt so sick, a doctor prescribed me an anti-sickness drug which was also administered through the cannula.
The midwife put my legs in the stirrups to check for any damage and told me I had a second degree tear and that I required four stitches. She asked if that was okay. “Yeah, whatever” was going through my head. At this point they could have done anything to me and I would not have cared. I felt sick, tired and drained from the blood loss.
I remember looking to my left and seeing my partner holding our son. Then another time I looked over and saw my son was in the crib kicking the covers off of him. One of the assistants said to my son “You are a wiggler”. My partner told her that I am always kicking off the covers and that he must take after me. It made me smile.
After a while when the anti-sickness drug had done its magic, I had the sudden urge to pee. I was not able to get to a toilet, so they got me a cardboard potty. My partner and the trainee midwife helped me onto it. I sat there for a while and I turned to my partner and said “I can’t go”. I was thinking “Oh my god what if I can’t pee, I might explode”. Eventually it happened and I had never peed for that long in my life. The trainee midwife took the potty away and checked how much fluid I passed.
One of the assistants brought up my belongings from the pool room ready for me to be transferred to a ward.
As I was feeling better and the bleeding had subsided quite a bit, the midwife helped me put on my knickers with a pad. And guess what? I was told to get myself into a wheel chair. At this point I really felt like I needed a biscuit to help my sugar levels or I really felt I would collapse under the weight of me. I had a chocolate digestive and a drink of water and was helped on to the chair.
My son and I were then moved onto the ward. Due to the loss of blood they would not let me go back to the unit down stairs. I was then told to get up and get on another bed.
My partner then got me settled. For a while I sat there mulling over the past few hours but I needed to pee again and as I moved I felt another gush. My partner called over an assistant as it had leaked everywhere. The staff on call that day were amazing. They changed all the bedding so that when I returned from the toilet it was all fresh. The midwife came and visited me and advised that I may be like this for a few days.
When they say all dignity goes out the window during child birth, I would have to disagree slightly. The staff were so good and they ensure your dignity is kept the best they can. At the end of the day, these were professionals looking after and ensuring the safety of the baby and I.
The midwives told me to try and breast feed my son for the first time. He latched on the right side and stayed there for hour. It was a very weird feeling. However, by the time he was done my nipple was sore.
The paediatrician checked out my baby and we had regular checks of blood pressure and pulse through the day. They also did a hearing check in my baby and the results were a fail but was told not to worry and that they would come by the next morning and try again. I was not worried or surprised as I had to have grommets twice when I was small.
They told me I could go home, however I wanted to ensure I was confident with breast feeding. I told the midwives and the assistants that it was a bit painful. They helped me with the latch and only once I had a feed that did not hurt. I thought it was part of the process as your nipples are used to being tugged and sucked that much.
My stay in the hospital was pleasant. The ward allowed partners to say all night if they wished, however I told my partner to go home and get some sleep. He had been awake from 7am Tuesday morning until he got into bed at 11pm Wednesday evening. I was lucky enough to have a couple of hours sleep during the day on Wednesday and was able to get a couple of hours of sleep between feeds.
Thursday morning arrived and I was looking forward to going home. When my partner arrived, the hearing people also arrived and were able to get a reading. This time, my son passed. I then went and had a shower and washed my matted hair. Never under estimate how much a shower can do to make you feel better, but exhaust you as well!
A lady then arrived from Bounty who takes pictures of your baby and you have a no obligation to buy them. But we thought it would be something special to keep and share with the family. When we finished it was time to leave. I had already been discharged about 9am and it was now 12 noon, so we could just go.
We arrived home with our son and we woke him up to feed, as he had fed at about 6am and he had not woken up since. We had been to wake him every three hours as he would not wake up. This was because babies use so much energy coming into the world, that they need to catch up with their sleep. We tried waking him at midnight for a feed but he would not wake. I panicked and called the ward. They told me to strip him naked. This eventually worked. From that point onwards he woke every two hours for a feed.
My partner’s parents visited on the Saturday to meet our son and his aunt and uncle as well. My parents were due to visit on the Sunday.
Every time I breast feed it hurt, getting more and more painful. So I carried on doing it until the Sunday morning when I was crying because the pain was so bad. I was so disappointed in myself that I could not carry on. My partner popped out and got some pre made formula so we could bottle feed our son.
To top things off, my parents were looking after my dog. Mum would keep in touch and find out how I was doing and I kept asking if she could look after her a bit longer. As every day went on my mum sounded more and more frustrated with me, as she no longer wanted my dog at her house. So on Sunday they came to visit our son, bringing my dog over to visit and meet the baby. However; she was going to return back to my parents’ house. I was already so upset I could not feed my child, but felt so guilty leaving my dog with my parents and having my mum frustrated with me.
The midwives visited on the Thursday and Saturday after the birth. I asked them about the breast feeding and they viewed him feeding and confirmed latch was good. They all checked him for tongue tie. I finally saw the midwife was I had seen prior to the birth and she said as long as baby is fed then it doesn’t matter which way you do it breast or bottle. She also checked for tongue tie and confirmed he did not have it.
Quickly, breast feeding reduced over half. It was a struggle every day trying to deal with the reality of the situation that I was unable to carry on feeding my son.
It was time for the health visitor to visit. Guess what? She was all about the boob. She suggested I visit a breast feeding clinic. I visited the doctors on the Wednesday; while I was at the surgery the doctor checked my son like the midwives had done for tongue tie. She confirmed there was no tongue tie.
The day after visiting the doctors, I went to the breast feeding clinic. I waited three and a half hours to see the lactation lady. My partner and I were on the verge of just leaving, when it was finally our turn. When she checked my baby, we told her how many people had checked him and told us it was the latch.
She examined him by putting her finger in his mouth. To my horror she told us he did have tongue tie and she said it was quite noticeable. She could not understand why everyone said he had not. We agreed to be referred to Kings College Hospital; however she said I would have to increase the amount I was breast feeding to be able to have the procedure done. She told me to try the nipple shield and try a breast pump.
I spent the next four or five days trying to breast feed as much as possible but even with the shield it the breast feeding hurt and the amount of milk I could express was reducing at a rapid rate.
On the 9th August, we visited the weight clinic as instructed by our health visitor. That morning I was having a really down day as I had given myself a blister on the side of my nipple from pumping and was really struggling try to get the breast feeding increased. So I saw the health visitor at the centre and she went through why I was upset. I explained I felt such pressure to try and breast feed most of the time and express milk to increase my supply in time for the procedure. She told me there is no point in getting yourself so upset over this. She could see how much I wanted to breast feed, but she told me to do what I could. As long as I have been trying and keeping the milk there, if the procedure worked I could gradually increase the breastfeeding.
The appointment was provided when my son was 6 weeks old. So five and a half weeks later of the decrease in breast feeding, with lots of failed diagnoses, the day came. A day of hope.
My partner and I had been at a wedding the night before so drove back to his parents where our son had been staying. We arrived there with plenty of time to spare. When we arrived at his parents, his mum said asked if we wanted some company. I didn’t feel I could say no.
What you should know is my partners mother is currently battling cancer of the liver and pancrease. The diagnosis is that they can never remove the cancer; it’s never going away. So I said it was fine, as my partner does not get to see or spend time with her often.
We travelled by train to Kings College hospital, and it turned out my son was the second eldest in the group of 6. So his turn was number 5. They took us, (except my partners mum), into a room. The specialist checked him and confirmed a tongue tie. She asked us some questions in regards to how much I was breast feeding him and asked us to sign the consent form.
The staff told me to wait in the side room and my partner returned to the waiting room. I was confused by this as no one else’s partners were sent back to the waiting room. I then could hear my son screaming and one of the staff came in the side room where I sat, and asked for another pair of hands as they had a difficult child on their hands. I knew it was my boy. He was so strong and has always been a wiggler. Then I heard a painful scream; I could hear that he was hurting. The nurses then they brought him in and asked me to get him latched on the boob. I tried the left side but there was so much blood. So they applied further pressure and told me to try the other side. He finally latched on the left. The staff asked me if I was okay; the shocked and horror must on shown on my face. I told them I was fine, even though I really was not.
There was one other woman who was in the room breast feeding with me and when she left, they said my partner could join me. I told him what had happened, and said that I just wanted to cry. I was able to breast feed for 45 minutes. Once my baby had finished we got his clothes back on, but while we were doing this the fire alarm sounded. We collected up the rest of our stuff and returned to the waiting room where my partner’s mum was waiting with the pushchair. We exited the building quickly and the staff member who had been with us, said if we were finished then we could go. So we left and returned to the station. My son decided he was hungry on the train, but I have never been comfortable feeding in public, so we gave him a pre-made bottle, which was sterile unlike the powder we usually mix up.
Once we returned to his parent’s house I attempted to breast feed again, however it was really painful and only managed to breast feed for 10 minutes. My son needed food, so again I gave him a bottle with formula. Now, when I say the breast feeding was really painful, this was more pain than I had ever previously felt through breast feeding.
While I was feeding him, my partner and his parents kept telling me to go and get some food. All I wanted to do was to feed my child. I did not want food, I wanted to know my son was fed one way or another. I also wanted to go home cry, relax and process the day’s events.
I had let my son down again. I had put him through a procedure that so far had not worked. He was still upset and I was trying to calm him. While trying to calm my son, I still had the constant pestering to eat. “You need to eat to keep breastfeeding and keep your strength up”. I had gone past eating, and the continued pestering did not help. I dug my heels in. I was very upset by the day’s events and being pressured to eat was really not helping. My partner got cross with me and left me to it for a while. I really just wanted to go home, so my partner finally agreed and we got our stuff together and left.
When we finally returned home after 9pm, my boy was hungry again. I tried breast feeding again but the pain was excruciating. I had no choice – the formula was used again. Once he was finished and I was burping him, the tears started to fall and would not stop. My partner came up stairs to find me crying my eyes out holding our child. He said nothing and just took my son from me.
At this point, I already felt like I had failed my son. For my partner to take him away, saying nothing made me feel like he didn’t think I could look after our child. I composed myself and un-packed our bags and put everything away. When I went down stairs saw the living room light was off. I had enough; I walked out of the house. I needed air away from the situation from the pressure and disappointment. For those 10 minutes I could clear my head ready to try and talk to my partner.
When I returned home, my partner was worried and cross. “Where did you go? You scared me”he said. I told him I needed air. He told me “You don’t talk to me”. I replied that it was hard to find the words to say how I feel. We ended up chatting for a while and we went to bed.
I spoke to a couple of friends who tried breast feeding; one succeeded and one moved on to bottle.
Unfortunately for me the tongue tie procedure did not work, I persisted in trying to get my son to breast feed for a number of weeks, however 10 minutes was more than I could bear. My friend who had done a course on breast feeding came over to my house and confirmed the latch was good. So eventually, a few weeks later, I gave up and moved my son fully on to the bottle.
Sometimes the tongue tie procedure does not work especially for the length in time we had to wait for the procedure to take place. Early diagnosis is key, to have a good go at breast feeding. Sadly for my son it was too late as he had got used to a bottle.
It is a shame that there are not more lactation consultants especially in the hospitals and I believe that more training is required for midwives and doctors.
The health visitor knew I was struggling with my feelings so she suggested, I try going to a baby group for under 1s. However all the children were 5 months upwards. My boy was only 7 weeks and toys are not interesting to him yet and just sat in my arms looking at everything. I know the groups are supposed to help get mums together talking however at that moment I felt I had nothing in common with the other mums as their children were months older.
Throughout the whole pregnancy and birth I have struggled to talk and find the right words to describe how I felt. So this has led to frustrations with my partner and disagreements. After talking to my friend who had two different pregnancy’s and two different births, I have been able to understand why I have felt so down.
It was while I was speaking to my friend who was going through a divorce that she told me that she had been advised to write down her feelings. So therefore I decided to write down everything that had happened, to help me cope with all these new emotions. I must say, I felt a million times better after putting pen to paper.
I found looking at other mums with pictures of their babies an hour after the birth, that I was filled with jealousy. I don’t remember looking at my son properly for about three hours after the birth and finally had a cuddle when I was on the ward. So not only did I not bond with my bump, I have not bonded very quickly with my little boy. I blame myself for the blood loss and blame myself for not being able to breastfeed.
I think back and maybe I should have insisted for someone to take a closer look to check for tongue tie. I don’t feel like a bad mum though, as I am trying my hardest to work out what my son needs and to fulfil his needs quickly. Where some women have an expectation for the birth and beat themselves up when the birth plan goes out of the window, I had an expectation to be able to feed my son from the breast and beat myself up because of that. Some days were better than others, however I got frustrated quickly with everything.
I was getting so frustrated with my partner for leaving my boy crying and carrying on playing on his phone or iPad, when my son needed feeding or a cuddle. Sometimes it delayed bath time. However, I noticed he was been a lot quicker to tend to our boy’s needs since we had our talk. I know my partner has struggled with how down I have been, as he has not been able to help or fix the issues of the breastfeeding problems or understand what I have been going through.
Although I have been frustrated with him, his support has outweighed the frustrations I have had with him. He has stood by me through everything I have been through. He is my best friend and the one person I want when I am down. We don’t have to say anything, but his cuddles goes a long way to make me feel better.
We were one of the lucky ones, as our son established a routine quickly and from 2 months old he started sleeping through the night.
The journey of creating a child to the child being born is a long, tough journey full of lessons learned, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. All the feelings and experiences I have gone through has made me a better person. Would I go through it again? We will have to see, but at the moment it’s not something I wish to repeat. My boy has become my world and I love my son, fiancé and dog all the same, and I hope I can devote my time equally to all three.
Four years ago my grandfather was taken from me and my family. My partner and I watched him fade away, and as he faded my heart broke. When my son arrived, I remember my partner turning to me and saying how our son looks just like my Grandad.
My son has certainly helped the healing of my broken heart.