NICU Talk

When breast is less…

Breast feeding my first born was a labour of love. My want to breast feed, turned into a had to breast feed, as I was kindly made redundant out of the blue shortly before giving birth. Suddenly, the thought of buying expensive formulas just didn’t make sense when Mother Nature had blessed me with good old gold top. Needless to say, I breast fed Little T until he was 9 months old. He grew strong, he grew healthy and even today, 7 years on, I can count on one hand the amount of times he’s been ill or visited the doctor in his young life. For that, I thank you breast milk.

Fast forward 6 years, my financial circumstance may be somewhat different but from the word go I wanted Baby J to have the same fantastic start to life as his brother did. Throw in being born 13 weeks premature, and once again, want became had. I had to give him those drops of gold.

Breast feeding a premature baby is far from easy. But I was astonished at how my body, with the suddenness of my son being brought into the world, wanted to breastfeed. With the help of a wonderful midwife and my husband (of all people) I was able to express those first precious drops of breast milk less than 25 hours after my emergency c section. Incredible. Yes, I was being milked like a cow from both angles, but it was worth every second.

If only the rest had been that simple. Long story short, despite three hourly expressing, stress got the better of me and I struggled with my supply. My initially willing body had done its job, and was now taking a back seat. ‘Try not to stress’ was the dreaded phrase I heard so many times during our NICU stay. Easier said than done. One of the most over used, ironic phrases I’ve ever heard. In the early weeks I just about managed to keep up with demands, but no sooner did I think I’d got ahead of myself with EBM, the nurses would smile sweetly and tell me his feeds had increased. Pleased as I was, the milk cow inside of me cried. But eventually, I managed to produce enough just enough milk to allow Baby J to start breast feeding. He took his first full feed at just 32 weeks. Oh the mind baffles at these tiny miracles!

We floated along with our heads above the water until we finally left the NICU. I had already accepted the fact at about week 5 that Baby J would have to be subsidised with formula, something which the stubborn side of me was dead against to begin with before common sense prevailed. Yes, he was going to have formula which was against all my principals; but he was still having a fair amount of breast milk from me and I was doing the very best I could. Expressing around the clock with a baby in NICU, young child at home and the weight of the world on your shoulders is plain hard work.

Neurotic expressing continued once we got home, followed by a slight static period of weight gain which my Health Visitor put down to the breast feeding. I was quite aware my milk supply wasn’t the same Niagara Falls it had been with Little T, I felt somewhat deflated by the phrase, ‘because your supply is low’ being brandished at these almost daily weight checks. My strong overall impression was, my HV didn’t want me to breast feed. At this point I was doing one breast feed per day, ‘top ups’ in between feeds if necessary and endless expressing. It seems liked a real contrast to the push towards breast feeding we hear endlessly about. The stubborn Capricorn in me took action with a trip to the doctors and that’s where Mr Domperidone came in.

Oh Domperidone. Marvellous Domperidone. Now whilst I’m well aware that various health related issues are linked to this drug, I simply want to pass on my breast feeding experience with it. For me, Domperidone was a god send. In little over a week my supply went through the roof, from expressing 20ml at a time to 70ml per sitting. When I put Baby J to the breast, I could hear him gulping on full mouth fulls of milk then gently dropping off into a milk coma. A wonderful feeling for any breast feeding Mum. Domperidone to me was a game changer. It made me believe again in what my body could do and gave me so much joy in seeing my son feed. But what comes up, must come down. Once my 30 day supply came to an end, so did the milk. A real blow. Hugely frustrating as it was that I couldn’t continue with the prescription, I had already anticipated that our relationship would come to an end.

With days of finishing the course of Domperidone, my supply started to dwindle again. Baby J was still rooting after a feed. Back to square one. As a last ditch effort, I decided to turn to Moringa supplements, as recommended by a breast feeding consultant. So knocking back these little green pills twice a day, as well as taking fenugreek tablets washed down with litres of oat milk, became my new habit. I’d actually been taking fenugreek for quite some time before Domperidone with little effect, but since I’d bought them, I figured I’d finish them.

Amazingly, after a few days, my milk supply increased again. Not quite to the dizzy heights of Domperidone, but near enough. Moringa you beauty. I’m not sure whether this is pot luck or coincidence, or whether actually I might be onto something, but this little ritual seems to be working for me. Breast feeding hasn’t come easy for me this time around but whilst I’m able to produce enough even for one feed, I’ll continue to keep feeding my son these precious drops. For Baby J, the medical complications that came with prematurity are my driving force behind making sure he gets the protection and goodness of breast milk. Brain development being at the heart of it.

One day I may look back and question why I’ve flogged myself silly to enable me to continue to breast feed, but right now it matters. The body might not be willing but the head is determined to prove it wrong!

Mum time, Uncategorized

Post pregnancy skin care

Goodbye rosy glow…

Well it’s fair to say that pregnancy glow has well and truly left me now. Yet another stolen product of prematurity! I was one of those lucky ones who, according to my friends, had a rosy look to the face and an extra twinkle in the eye, something all the money and face creams in the world can’t buy. And whilst I think my friends were quite complimentary (perhaps a little too much at times) I did inwardly love what pregnancy did for my skin.

Fast forward a few months…well for a start, I’m no longer pregnant. This winter has been horrendously cold and grim, and on top of that I spent all hours of the day between November and January in NICU. The stuffy, dry air conditioned air in NICU certainly did my skin no favours, and let’s face it, skin care is the last thing on anyones minds when faced with that situation. My day to day survival relied heavily on drinking gallons of tea, grabbing (not so healthy) snacks on the go and classing exercise as the walk from the car to the unit. And just for good measure throw in a load of changing hormones stress and lack of sleep and the result?! Dull, dry and tired (oh so tired!) skin.

Now that home life has resumed, I have decided to try to get back on top of my skin. Being home means having a minute or two during the day to actually think about myself without being consumed with guilt for doing so. My skin care routine is, without a doubt, basic. And for any beauty addict out there whose cringing behind their 5 step beauty regime (which yes I’m very jealous of!) I’ll be the first to admit it’s probably all wrong! BUT it’s quick, simple and more importantly, it works for me. Back in my twenties, I would spend horrendous amounts of money on gorgeous products in the hope of making my skin flawless. Now I just want to have skin that looks healthy and gets me through the day! Oh how times change. Whilst I won’t bore anyone with my step by step beauty regime (did I mention it’s pretty basic?!) I wanted to share the 3 main products which I’m loving right now.

What’s on my face?

The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension

I’ve been using this little gem for about a month now and it’s packed with vitamin C, perfect for revitalising dull, tired skin AND fantastic as an anti ageing product. I’ve always been a fan of vitamin C products and this doesn’t disappoint. I apply it before moisturiser in the morning, and it gives a real tingle to the skin. Not for everyone I may add. It has a grainy texture which again, wouldn’t be to everyones taste, but I for one am not offended by it. My skin has definitely regained some glow back since using this. And the best part of it…It’s as cheap as chips! Just £4.90. Perfect for maternity leave pockets. The Ordinary is a brand that has been on my radar for a while now, and their products are incredibly pocket friendly but pack a real punch. Don’t be fooled by the price tag! Have a gander at their website for more information (Be warned, you may end up with many products in your basket)

http://www.theordinary.com

Piz Buin Face Cream 50+ SPF

It’s no secret that sun cream is skin saviour staple, but recently I’ve ignored this skin product super hero. Before maternity leave, I was quite committed to slapping sun cream on my face (well during summer anyway) as I work outside in all elements. But this has been another missed step for me recently. So I headed to my local Boots to invest in a good high factor sun cream specifically for the face (I hate the greasy feeling that sun creams often leave) and found this little gem for only £6.00. I was amazed at the price difference in facial sun creams just by going between two separate aisles – head to the beauty aisles and you’ll pay at least twice as much for a sun cream as you will if you look in the sun cream aisle. Anyway, back to Puiz Buin…I’ve only been using this a few days and I’m really impressed with the none greasy texture, and how quickly it soaks into the skin. No streaky white marks or over powering sun cream smell. Now just to stay disciplined in incorporating it into my daily winter routine!

http://www.boots.com/piz-buin

Nivea Daily Essentials 24 Hour Moisturising Day Cream 

On a recent trip to another city with Baby J for an impromptu scan, I ended up staying over for a few days, and needed to buy a moisturiser to see me through (The joys of prematurity again!) A quick dash to the local Tesco landed me with this (literally the only face moisturiser they stocked) and I have to say, for £2.00, this isn’t half bad! It has a lovely soft texture that leaves the skin feeling well moisturised, but again, none greasy. I have naturally oily skin and avoided greasy textures like the plague so was well prepared to ditch my cheap buy once I got home. But still I find myself reaching for it every morning. The dryness which my skin has suffered over the past few months has already improved. I’ll be sticking with this for the time being at least.

http://www.nivea.co.uk

So there you are, three cheap and cheerful products that are helping me to find that lovely rosy glow again. And all under £10.00. Bonus!
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Mum time

Behind the blog…

Thirty something year old wife and mum of one (Little T) who was expecting to become a mum of two, in February 2018. Baby J joined us without warning in November 2017. Premature babies were those cute, tiny babies who wore little Innocent smoothie sized hats that you read about in magazines. They happened to other people. They didn’t happen to me. And yet here I was, mother to a 27 weeker.

So three months have past and the dreaded NICU journey is over and life goes on. Every day I am thankful that we came out the other side of it. Yet now we face a whole other journey, as our family gets used to the tornado that having a premature baby throws at you. This is my personal journey of life, and my lifestyle, outside of the NICU as we try to get back to being just another ‘normal’ family.