Postpartum Joint Pain, breastfeeding & more travels

My blood test results all came back within the normal range – however, I am still missing some results, so not all questions have been answered. The doctor wasn’t sure why the results hadn’t come back yet or if those particular tests were ever done. But so far my rheumatoid arthritis factor, insulin and inflammation levels, they are all within the normal range.  That’s a relief to hear that it is unlikely to be rheumatoid arthritis.  So the doctor who called me with the results (not my doctor because she was on leave) prescribed me naproxen to see if that would help alleviate. The drugs made no difference, I took them for a week but no change.  I still wake up in the morning very stiff, sore and in pain in my hands, wrists, toes, ankles and knees.  And then throughout the day my fingers will be noticeably sore at various points unless I keep them moving.  So the current theory remains – postpartum joint pain, crazy hormones, and apparently my body is unlikely to return to normal until after I stop breastfeeding.

Some things people in my breastfeeding support group who had experienced similar suggested – cutting out grains (apparently causes inflammation), vitamin D supplements, chiropractor and naturopathic doctor.  I’m inclined to find a naturopathic doctor.  Part of my brain has been tempted to stop breastfeeding as a result of the pain, but then I figure what if it has nothing to do with breastfeeding?  Then I’d be stopping for no reason, and I’d regret it.  And I’m not going to do that just yet.

I’ve been on work travels again, to Paris this time, and it was another reminder of how much of a pain in the ass pumping is.  Dragging the pump, parts, storage, sanitizing stuff, special bag, hands free bra and cover, through airport security, across the Atlantic and to my host office is tiresome.  Trying to remember to make sure I have everything in my bag, cleaning out the bottles and parts, proper storage and handling, dumping milk I can’t store, it gets tedious, especially doing all this in another country.  One of my colleagues said he was impressed I am still doing it, but I said I’m probably more stupid than impressive.

I’m only pumping three times a day now, I should definitely be doing four pumps because my supply has suffered, so I’m supplementing a couple of ounces a day.  Whilst I have been on my travels Chris has been feeding Aviana milk from my frozen stash.  I managed to build up 6.5 days supply from May to July back when I had a couple of ounces to freeze at the end of the week.  I am hoping I can replace the four days supply with milk I’ve been pumping whilst in Paris – I’m currently carrying with me about 70oz home in my checked luggage.  I’m hoping it all survives the journey, because my days of any over-supply are gone.  I’ve had a little bit of success at increasing my supply with lactation cookies, body armour drink mother’s milk tea, but only managed to get an extra 1-2oz per day, so I’ve been short a few ozs still.  I don’t want to stress over it, so I’m not going to go to extra ordinary lengths to get my supply back up.  The only other thing I might try is consider renting a hospital grade pump to see if that makes a difference; my pump is second hand, so there is a slight chance it’s losing its power and has not been removing the milk enough. Exclusively pumping is HARD!  My hats off to all of you who do it all the time.  I’m not sure I would have survived this long if it hadn’t been for the facebook group ‘exclusively pumping mamas’.

Speaking of travels, this time was harder to leave Aviana than it was when I last travelled in May.  Mostly, because I feel like she notices when I am there or not, but also because I generally miss her more!  I also miss Chris too and get jealous of them having fun together.  My next work trip is in October, but this time I am taking Aviana with me because I have two conferences in the UK, but I would be leaving Chris behind for two weeks!  I will be flying transatlantic on my own with a 9.5 month old, who is on the verge of being mobile.  I swore I wouldn’t fly again on my own with a baby!  Am I crazy?  Probably. No, definitely. BUT it’s a great opportunity to take Aviana back to see family and friends, so I will seize this as a positive opportunity and try not to worry about the possibility of a few (several) hours of hell.

Currently, Aviana and I are not sitting together on the transatlantic flight because we have two different classes of tickets (in economy!).  American airlines have not been very helpful when I called them to see if we could get seats together in the ones designed for infants, but the woman on the phone said “you need to do it online otherwise I have to charge you $50 to do it on the phone or wait to check in”.  Clearly this woman was not understanding the fact that I couldn’t do it online and waiting to check in would probably mean the chances of us sitting together would be zero – and oh, did I mention I am with my 9 MONTH OLD BABY?!?!  She couldn’t understand why I paid for a seat anyway, was her attitude.  Clearly she hasn’t flown transatlantic with a baby before.  I was at work so didn’t have time to complain, accepted it in typical British fashion.  So now I reckon I will be sat in the middle of a row pissing other passengers off with my squirming, crying baby on a red eye.  But I have a plan – I’ve put my seat in the ‘extra leg room’ seat (I get it for free because of my airline miles status)…and am hoping someone traveling on their own who is currently sat next to Aviana will jump at the chance to swap with me to get extra leg room.  IT’S SOOOOO STUPID.

Wish me luck!!!

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Memory boxes for bereaved parents

Trigger warning – baby loss.

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Every year my local infertility support group’s Miscarriage and Infant Loss group come together to create small boxes of love at times of loss. The group is raising funds to provide future families of loss with the gift of bereavement/memory boxes. These boxes include things like journals, canvas and ink pads for hand & foot prints, memory candles, baby rings and keepsake jewelry, handmade baby blankets and hats as well as resources and letters of encouragement from other mothers who have faced a similar loss. The cost of each kit is roughly around $25 and their goal is to raise enough to provide several kits to various local hospitals who aid families in the unthinkable and tragic moments of infant loss at birth or shortly after. These boxes are provided at the hospital at the time of birth or passing and aid in creating memory items that families will cherish for a lifetime.

If you would like to donate anything or to sponsor a box for $25 in honor of your angel baby, you can do so at this link….

https://www.youcaring.com/bereavedparents-894639

It’s such a beautiful thing and means a lot to so many bereaved parents ❤️ thank you X

Tips for camping with an infant

Based on our camping trip last weekend, here are some tips for camping with an infant…..

  1. Don’t do it. Haha, just kidding…DO DO IT!!! Just bite the bullet. We had so many comments from fellow campers saying they wish they had done it with their kids sooner like we were.
  2. Try it out at a local camp site. It will be less stressful knowing that you can just pack up and be home within an hour if it is that terrible!
  3. Buy a pop-up tent to reduce putting up, take down time. We bought this one from Walmart for $120. We had it up and ready in 2 minutes. No fighting about which pole goes in what bit! https://www.walmart.com/ip/Ozark-Trail-13-x-9-x-72-Instant-Cabin-Tent-Sleeps-8/55196307ip/Ozark-Trail-13-x-9-x-72-Instant-Cabin-Tent-Sleeps-8/55196307
  4. Take a pack n play. Now, I have heard ideas of taking an inflatable paddling pool, or a bassinet, but Aviana would have freaked if we lay her down to sleep in any of these!!
  5. Take your white noise machine to drown out the sounds of bugs and animals, as well as the drunken loud mouthed dad shouting at his son to behave otherwise he will get a beating (yeh he was LOUD).
  6. Practice taking your infant into a shower before you go on your trip because there won’t be any baths! Or take a crap load of baby wipes.
  7. Take a crap load of baby wipes!
  8. Pack clothes for baby for every season possible. The hardest thing was trying to figure out what to put her in at night time. She normally wears a wearable blanket with a sleep suit and onesie, but our house is warm. So it was a challenge to find the right number of layers for what would have been mid 60s. Turned out it was a lot warmer than that in the end so she was fine in a thin fleece wearable blanket! And don’t forget to pack long sleeves and trousers even if it is going to be hot because of those darned mosquitoes!!!
  9. Leave the pushchair/stroller at home, because you will look silly tying to push even the baby joggers through all that mud!! Baby wearing is a must!
  10. Get dirty, let them play with leaves and pine cones…it’s an amazing sensory experience! Of which be cautious not to over load their senses too much.

We had a great weekend at Kiptopeke state park, the mozzies attacked Chris a bit more than me, he’s like a mosquito magnet! We also got attacked by horse flies on the beach, that kind of ruined the beauty of its peace and serenity! But Aviana did dip her toes in the sea and didn’t completely freak out! She slept very well and even napped during the day. Bonus! We even had our first family holiday ice cream adventure (ok so she had a fruit ice Lilly – the outshine ones made with real fruit, but full of fruit sugars!!! ).

Will we do it again? Yes!! Next proper camping adventure will probably be when we go to the US west coast next year! Can’t wait! I know she will be older and there will be different challenges (crappy weather!) but hopefully we now have a bit of confidence that we can do it!

The surprising fact about breastfeeding in the UK vs USA

I wrote this a while ago, but for some reason it didn’t publish!!!! Breastfeeding week was 1-7 Aug! Whoops. Better late than never!

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Did you know last week was breastfeeding week?  The week is dedicated to the celebration of breastfeeding and marks the anniversary of the signing of the innocenti declaration where governments pledge to protect, promote and support breastfeeding.  So this reminded me about a surprising fact I read recently:

Only one in 200 British women (0.5 per cent) are still breastfeeding a year after becoming mothers. The figure is 23 per cent in Germany and 27 per cent in the United States. *

I am British, but live in Virginia, USA and so it is interesting to see these kind of statistics.   I was surprised because I believed it would actually be the other way around.

Why is it that the UK figures are so much lower than the US? It surely can’t be because of returning back to work because maternity leave in the UK is far more generous than the US.  It has to be other cultural factors??  Seeing as I get to see two sides of the coin it got me thinking….

I have breastfed my daughter for the past 7 months and I’ve never had a bad experience with our choice to breastfeed in either country.  However, that doesn’t mean that others haven’t.  Having said that, I have experienced the ‘unsaid’.  Those ‘looks’ of disgust or staring.  Sometimes it’s other people’s actions, not necessarily words that make our experiences as breastfeeding parents challenging.

Breastfeeding in public.  Although there are horror stories of women being harassed for breastfeeding in public in both countries, I have never been harrassed personally.  In fact, in my local mall I regularly nursed in whilst on maternity leavegained media attention over a woman wrongly told by a security guard to go and feed her baby in the family room.  I don’t cover up when I nurse, the only times I have used a cover was when Aviana was in her distracted phase of nursing, but this was in an act of desperation to get my baby to feed, not because I felt uncomfortable nursing in public.  Some babies just won’t nurse covered up, Aviana is one of them.  Breastfeeding mothers should feel comfortable nursing however they wish and wherever they need to feed, covered or not.

In the US I have had the looks of disgust as I nurse.  In the UK I have also had those looks…however, they are far more ‘polite’ in their overtness of disgust, it’s hard to explain the difference, but I can see it!  Mostly, people don’t see me nursing and so just carry on with their day.  That’s the way it should be. Everyone just gets on with their day.

This was the fact that stunned me the most: “More people in the UK believe that smacking is acceptable than believe that breastfeeding in public is okay.” wow! I am going back to the UK in October and taking Aviana with me. She will be 10 months old, very different to a newborn baby. I wonder what reactions I will get there if I nurse her in public compared to when she was just 6 months old, the last time we were there?

Perhaps it’s just an awareness issue or misperceptions? I don’t know….but it sure is interesting. what are your thoughts? What have you experienced as a nursing mother? Or as an observer? Are you surprised by these statistics?

(By the way I respect however you choose to feed your babies and in by no means intend this to be a criticism for formula feeding…I am also fully aware this is a tough subject for women who wanted to breastfeed, but can’t for whatever reason. I have to supplement Aviana with formula as well as breastfeed)

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Here is what international breastfeeding week promotes…
Breastfeeding is vital to the healthy growth and development of infants.
It also has important implications for the health of mothers.
WHO and UNICEF recommend:
∙ Initiation of breastfeeding within the first hour of life
∙ Exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months is the optimal way of feeding
infants. Exclusive breastfeeding – the infant only receives breastmilk
without any additional food or drink, not even water
∙ Breastfeeding on demand
∙ No use of boles, teats or pacifiers
∙ After 6 months, infants should receive
complementary foods with continued
breastfeeding up to 2 years of age or beyond

*According to a study published in the Lancet in January 2016

Happiness is….

After my less than happy post the other day I thought I'd take a walk on the happy side and think about the past few days!

Happiness is…

…my 8 month old daughter having fits of laughter over the seemingly unobvious.

…the snuggles in bed with my husband, daughter and BOTH cats!

…seeing my daughter peer round a corner first thing in the morning and we when she sees me, grins from ear to ear as if I'm the best thing since Breastmilk.

…my husband getting deservedly promoted to director. And his nice pay rise with it.

…the sunshine after a few days of tropical storm related miserable rain.

…knowing that our newly laid (DIY) patio weathered the tropical storm rains!!!

…discovering that a graham cracker (or digestive biscuit) layered with lemon curd and Greek yoghurt on top is just as tasty as a lemon cheesecake without the hassle of making one, if not better. Seriously yum.

…watching my daughter eat a pickle spear for the first time. She loved it!!! (Weirdo)

Infertility round 2

Caught between a rock and a hard place is what I would call planning for a second child after dealing with infertility the first time around. And we are not even at the stage of planning number two, we are still at the early stage of deciding whether we want a number two child.

Let's go back to times before we faced infertility. The times when we were naive to think getting pregnant was the easy, fun part, and it was the subsequent pregnancy and beyond that would be the more challenging part of growing our family. I'm pretty sure we would have said that our family would ideally consist of two children, a dog and a cat (or two). Today, if you asked us what our family would look like in several years time, I wouldn't be able to tell you because I just can't imagine it right now.

Today, I can't imagine Aviana playing with a sibling in the garden, showing them how to throw and catch a ball, or holding her baby brother or sister in hospital, asking THAT question 'where do babies come from?' or her poking my tummy and proudly saying to random people that mummy is having a baby. I can't see it. I don't want to see it. Because if I see it, I think it, I feel it and if it never happens, it will tear me up forever. But sometimes my mind does wonder there and I try not to cry over the fact that it is so distant and fuzzy. The future is so murky.

And yet, I am better prepared than I was before Aviana became part of our lives. Today I know I am infertile, I know what the chances of getting pregnant again are, I'm an infertility warrior, this isn't my first rodeo!

Somedays, I'm positive and hopeful….perhaps my hormones have 'reset' and I'll get pregnant without medical intervention, we have a frozen embryo I won't need to stimulate again, I now know all the IVF tricks of the trade, it would be a piece of cake!

And other days, I'm down and negative…I'm getting closer to 40 than 30, my eggs are even poorer quality than they were before, we only have ONE embryo in the freezer-it's got a 50% chance of surviving the thaw, there is a good chance I will have another IUGR pregnancy, we will be doing this with a toddler, I'm not sure I can cope with another IVF stimulation and suffer from OHSS. And then there is the risk of pregnancy loss, An ectopic pregnancy was a cruel experience.

And the negative is winning at the moment, infertility round two doesn't look good to me. I don't want to waste the precious time I have with Aviana whilst she is this small worrying about infertility. I'm not sure where this is going, but knowing I managed to survive that infertility journey the first time and looking back at that mountain, I'm not sure I can do it all over again.

What’s that hiding under there?

I went to pick up Aviana from daycare and she was one of three babies left. Her teacher was sat in the chair with Aviana and another baby in their bouncers being bounced up and down by her feet. The third baby was napping. The teacher looked like she was at the end of her tether and was about to burst into tears!

It was clear the teacher had zero energy, she looked at me and said in a serious voice, 'if you had gotten her 5 minutes earlier it was a sea of tears'. So I put on my 'hospital surgery slippers' to cover my shoes and went to pick up Aviana. It was clear Aviana was an unhappy bunny! She had not napped ALL day!!!! So it was unsurprising she was a grumpster!

The teacher told me Aviana had been pulling at her left ear all day, so I said she's probably teething! The teacher didn't seem to think so…so I thought nothing of it and thought I will watch out for possible ear infection symptoms.

Later that night throughout the night Aviana woke a couple of times crying out loud briefly before going back to sleep. Nothing that required us to get up and check on her.

Later after another day of crappy napping at daycare I noticed a little white bump!!! Was it a tooth hiding there???

Well what do you think??? Looks like one to me!

And there you have it, first tooth appearance. I feel bad that daycare took the brunt of her teething fussiness for this particular one because we didn't realise at home that anything was different, but I'm secretly glad!!!!

By the way, Aviana finds her new tooth funny to feel with her tongue so she has taken to sticking it out over the tooth a lot!! It's cute but makes her look a little silly!

Dear Mum…

Dear Mum,

Thank you for helping us in every way that you do with Aviana.

Thank you for not being judgemental in how we choose to parent and supporting us in all our decisions. Even if they don't always align with what you would choose.

Thank you for your well considered advice on becoming new parents. We know you have lots of experience raising me and my brothers over the past 34 years, yet you recognise that it's been 18 years since you raised a newborn baby and things in the medical world have changed since then. But babies are still babies and the way you love them and show that love hasn't changed over those years. So your experience and advice matters still.

Thank you for loving Aviana, and spoiling her too. She's only been in this world for eight months or so yet she is so loved. And distance doesn't matter as much as you think because she now can show you that she appreciates that love with an excited smile and coo at you on FaceTime. It's quite clear!

I'm grateful that you are not a baby boomer grandparent like what is described in this article…Here about grandparent baby boomers …I don't think you are loathe to give help, but rather the complete opposite!

It's hard living thousands of miles away from you, so thank you for offering to do all that you can despite the fact. We miss you greatly and hope distance doesn't stop the love from ever growing.

I wanted you to know, granny, that you are appreciated by all of us and are grateful to have you, lots of love Xxx

Even if you are a crazy plane spotter!!!

I need some answers!!!

Unexplained infertility, unexplained Intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR), unexplained bowel problems – aka Irritable Bowel Syndrome, the bucket for all unknown bowel problems. Now I'm potentially facing unexplained joint pain and stiffness…I really hope that doesn't become the case, because I'm going to be pissed if I don't get answers!

Today I went to the doctor's because I have been experiencing progressively worse joint pain and stiffness for the past 4 months or so. A couple of months ago at my annual medical exam I mentioned that I had been experiencing numbness and tingling in my hands and feet. My doc said it was probably carpal tunnel syndrome, it's not uncommon after pregnancy as the body changes shape to experience this. She told me to try ibuprofen and if that didn't make a difference to come back and see her. I tried the ibuprofen and it didn't work. Without any sign of improvement I decided it was time to go back.

I wake up in the mornings stiff and sore in my hands, feet and more recently, my knees. It's most painful in my hands and it takes about 10 minutes or so to warm my joints up to move properly. I get out of bed and hobble as if I'm an old person. It's not getting better, in fact I say it's just getting worse as I feel sore from it during the day now. This week my little finger on my left hand locked stiff after waking up, it only lasted a few moments. But still, that's pretty freaky. I don't dare pick up Aviana as soon as I've woken up in case I were to drop her, in fact I probably wouldn't be able to lift her anyway.

The doctor thinks it is probably postpartum related because I'm breastfeeding still and my periods haven't returned yet. She's running some tests to rule out other things like Rheumatoid Arthritis, but because I don't have other symptoms she doesn't think it will be that. That would suck a lot if I have that.

Whatever it is I really hope they figure out what's going on because I am BORED of doctors not being able to tell me why I get this crap!!

Things I didn’t know I could do until I had a baby

Things I didn't know I could do until I had a baby….

…Undress myself with one hand whilst holding my baby to go pee…

…Redress myself with one hand whilst holding my baby after peeing. MUCH HARDER!

…Eat a plate of food in 2 minutes (actually I learned this skill in the military but it was only 5 minutes then!)

…Have the patience of a saint – whilst my baby slaps me in the mouth, pokes my eye out and scratches my chest whilst she nurses (no she doesn't do this on purpose, she's just a baby!)

…Have the balancing skills of a world champion gymnast…because my baby is precious cargo and I don't want to walk up the stairs for the umpteenth time.

And so the list begins!! Everyday is a school day as a new parent!!! What are your new found skills? What new skills do I have to look forward to as my baby turns into a toddler?