The 1st July and I have decided to take part in Camp NaNoWriMo again. The first time I took part I followed the traditional November rules for NaNoWriMo – 50,000 words of a novel in 30 days – despite Camp offering the flexibility to do other things and to set your own word counts. This time though I feel it is far important to me personally to just write. And write anything. So my plan for the next month is to write approximately 1613 words every day, be it a blog post, short story, article, even letter. It is a good opportunity to get those writing muscles working again and to experiment with different styles and genres.
I had to kick start the month with a blog post as it has been a good couple of weeks and a lot has happened it the meantime. I am writing of course about the arrival of baby number 2 at 12.47 on the 20th June, a tiny little boy of 7lb 8oz (average, I know, but compared to his big brother’s 10lb 10oz he is like a baby doll). We have called him Charlie Adam, a name long decided on, and he is referred to most commonly as Baby Charlie because this is what Harry has always called him and it has stuck, for now. James and I both agree that he is the spitting image of Harry – although where Harry is more like James, Charlie is more like me, in terms of colouring.
Despite their similarities, particularly their expressions, they could not be more different. Harry, probably because he was so big and it was a really hot summer, most likely because he was my first and I was waiting for that maternal instinct to kick in, cried a lot, fed a lot (and threw up most of those feeds because he was too greedy). He would barely let me put him down, he would never fall asleep by himself (and still won’t). Dirty wet nappies never seemed to bother him. Charlie, in comparison, is so quiet. He will happily lie in the bouncer or on the playmat and take in everything that is going on around him. Even on his first day he was fascinated by the noises outside the hospital window. Sirens, drilling, voices, music. When he’s hungry he just grizzles to let me know, but already he is like clockwork every three hours so he doesn’t even need to do that. I can put him down in his cot with his eyes wide open and when I go to check on him he’ll be sound asleep. But the one thing that does make him scream his head off is a wet or dirty nappy!
Of course, there was the difference too in their births. Harry was born around 56 hours after my water’s broke by emergency caesarean. By the time he was in my arms, everything was a blur. Yet I’ve always been amazed at how quickly he latched on to feed, especially when you hear about how many mums who have had more traumatic births really struggle with feeding. With Charlie I was given the choice of having an elective caesarean and I went for it. I couldn’t stand the possibility of going through everything I went through with Harry only to end up in the same place.
The two experiences couldn’t have been more different. James and I arrived at the hospital at 7.15am and were shown into a room, basically a delivery suite but for our purpose it wasn’t quite the right word! Our assigned midwife did all the various tests and we were visited by the anaesthetist, surgeon and cord blood donor people. Basically though we were just waiting until it was our turn. I think we were fourth in queue, although that could have been influenced by any emergencies that came up, but there weren’t. We were finally called at about midday, though I cannot remember precisely. I think the strangest feeling of that day though was walking down the corridor in a hospital gown and kissing James before I went into the theatre. James had to go to a special room to get changed and wait some more while I was given the spinal epidural. Of course, I had to have a little bit of drama, nearly passing out when they inserted the cannula in my hand after which they had to wait for my blood pressure to rise again. This took forever and even after Charlie was born it took it’s time returning to normal!
The moment of Charlie’s birth was surreal. With Harry I was feeling a bit out of it and felt very weary and emotional. With Charlie I just felt emotional. I’d asked beforehand about having skin-to-skin in theatre but the midwife had said it wasn’t always practical. As it happened, I would have struggled. I first held him when I was in recovery and, as I had always feared, he did not want to latch on straightaway like Harry had done. It didn’t help that my blood pressure cuff was in the way and I couldn’t hold him the other way any easier because of the cannula. One helpful midwife, not the one who had been in theatre, sensed my difficulty and helped me out a bit until he had it. I think that was the key difference between Harry and Charlie’s births though – Charlie’s was far more impersonal. Don’t get me wrong, the staff were brilliant, particularly the anaesthetist, but I couldn’t help feeling like a product in a production line, a name on a list.
Things were different once I was up on the ward, the same ward in fact where I had been with Harry, except this time I had a private room. Goodness knows how they work all that out; I kept waiting for the moment someone came along to say ‘by the way, we’re moving you to another room now’. But having my own room was wonderful. Having a catheter and cannula (not so much the cannula) in were bearable too as when meal times came around I didn’t have to go get it myself. My own room was also great for when Harry came to visit – I can just imagine him if I had been in a shared room! And it was good for sleep, as much as good sleep comes with a newborn. As with Harry, I found the second night to be the worst – partially attributed to midsummer madness. Of course, waking baby isn’t so bad until you count in the comings and goings of midwifes, nursery nurses, paediatricians, midwifes dispensing painkillers, support staff taking your blood pressure ten million times at 1 o’clock in the morning just so they don’t have to wake you up every hour for the rest of the night. Even so, I could never imagine going home straight after giving birth. The time in hospital is invaluable.
Harry has really taken to his baby brother. He is keen to pick out what clothes Charlie wears, although as a typical 4-year-old he keeps trying to insist that the bodysuit goes on top of the sleepsuit. He will go to Charlie before me when he wakes up in the morning and holds his hand for a moment before the desire for mummy cuddles takes over. He always kisses Charlie good night and will happily sit beside the bouncer holding Charlie’s hand while he sucks his thumb. What he hates though is when I am feeding him. He could have had my sole attention for the past two hours but as soon as Charlie is feeding all he wants is for me to play in his room with him. And feeding Charlie isn’t easy and hasn’t particularly got any easier, although at least not I know why as the community midwife on her first visit after I got out of hospital discovered he had mild tongue-tie (two days later the midwife noticed he was jaundiced so we still have not been discharged as they have to do a two week review for that!).
There was a day or two where I thought we’d got round the tongue-tie. We seemed to get the right angle or something. But that didn’t last long. I find that when he is feeding on the right he struggles to latch on but once he is feeding he is fine; it is the opposite for the left as he will latch on OK but keeps slipping off until he finally gets it. I guess the hunger must get too much that he works through it. As for me, it isn’t painful, although slightly uncomfortable at times. The midwife told me that the tongue-tie can be snipped if necessary, for example if he is struggling to gain weight – although based on his first weighing that won’t be an issue! From my own research online I would rather it didn’t come to this. As it is only mild it is likely that the tongue-tie will get snipped itself when he is a bit older through biting down on a toy or hard food, for example, and so won’t have any long-term effect on speech. The procedure itself sounds relatively simple and painless but if it can be avoided then I would rather avoid it!
As I finish writing this he has finished, rather successfully, his feed and is lying fast asleep on my lap with one of those little grins on his face that always make me thing of chasing rabbits, although most likely it is just wind. It always makes me wonder what goes through a baby’s head when they sleep.