The First 4 Months

It has been absolutely impossible to post regularly since my little girl was born in June. I had so much I wanted to share but I have had A LOT going on so I knew it would have to be 1 big post with it all in. Even as I am writing this post I am not sure how far through I will get before having to change another nappy! Fingers crossed I can actually post this in a semi-decent time frame as time is going far too quick **spoiler alert** nope…I started this post when she was 3 months! I wish it would slow down as I am just so besotted with my little girl and I am already missing her newborn days as they were gone in a flash!

Since this is baby number 3 (1 angel baby) and I have an almost 6 year old boy, I am not a new mum. I have done this before but wow things have changed so quick in such a short space of time. I feel like I am learning it all again but I have found this time to be a little more relaxed. If I am honest I am enjoying it this time round a lot more than I did with my little boy. Please don’t think that is because I love this baby more as that is not the case. With my little boy I was so obsessed with him but I was a nervous wreck. I also never left the house and lived in this little bubble just him and I. I struggled badly with anxiety and although he was very cared for I wasn’t very kind to myself. You can read all about what I went through here.

I think I have much much thicker skin than I did back then and I have learned not to care so much about stuff that isn’t important. I honestly believe having my little angel Elijah last year made me like this. He is the reason I am better this time around. Lets face it, going through that and coming out the other side is going to give you thicker skin and a different perspective on things. Don’t get me wrong, things haven’t been easy and there have been some seriously shitty times 100%. I have found I have more patience and more confidence with this baby and I have been able to push myself on a regular basis.

Starting at the beginning… after giving birth to my little girl, we finally got to take her home late on Father’s day. I was so relieved to be home and surprisingly I was doing okay considering I hadn’t had a single shred of sleep since well before I had her. I had to stay in the hospital for an extra few days because my little angel had jaundice and had to have photo therapy treatment. I had never seen this being done before and at first it looked really scary. If anyone else’s baby has to have this, don’t panic, its just like a little sun bed for your baby.

For the photo therapy, they lie pretty much naked under a blue light or on a blue light mattress. They wear this adorable but heartbreaking mask on their face to cover their eyes. Its really sad as you have just had a baby and want to see their beautiful face but they need to be on this blue light as long as possible, for at least 12 hours. Obviously you get them out for feeding and nappy changes but that’s it really. I hated having to limit my cuddles but I just prayed that she would only need this 1 round of treatment. The blue light helps them break down the excess bilirubin which will leave the body via wet and dirty nappies. You will notice their poo go green because of this but it is perfectly normal. The midwives will usually do a blood test to check the levels of bilirubin after 6 hours and then again at 12 hours. If the levels are below treatment line baby doesn’t need any more.

Indiana only needed 1 round of photo therapy and they were happy her levels were low enough. The jaundice did make her very sleepy however and although she would breastfeed a bit she wasn’t waking up frequently enough and she would just sleep when trying to put her on to the breast. She had to be tube fed, which really upset me. She wasn’t bothered at all but it’s never nice seeing such a tiny baby with tubes in their nose. This was necessary however as she wasn’t getting enough milk and was rapidly losing weight.

I was started on a routine of setting my alarm for every 3 hours and attempting to breastfeed her. Once she had finished I would then feed her a top up via a tube. I would then change her nappy about a million times as she never stopped! Finally I would then use a breast pump to express milk and try build up my supply, with baby not feeding very much. After cleaning, sterilising the breast pump, labelling the milk, walking along the corridor to put the milk in the fridge I would probably have 1 hour if that left to try and fit in some sleep before my next alarm would go off. That was impossible and I just didn’t have any. I stayed up and binge watched Love Island and films instead.

Once the hospital were happy with my routine and that she was eating enough they removed the tubes. They then kept me in to monitor me doing the same routine but using a tiny bottle to give her a top up of my milk. Things were going well so I was allowed to finally go home! I was so happy to be home but I was a nervous wreck. She was a tiny bit premature and so sleepy and I was so worried about making sure this routine worked and felt like it was all on me. My husband of course would help whenever he could but he couldn’t breastfeed or express milk so it felt like I had to do everything. He did do a lot of the nappies though which really helped!

With my son I couldn’t breastfeed him. He would have my milk from a bottle which meant my husband could help and we shared it all 50/50. This was a new experience for me, breastfeeding. At first I remember thinking well this is absolute shit. I used to look at my husband snoring away on a night and feel super pissed off and angry. It wasn’t his fault but I couldn’t help feeling sorry for myself and giving him the death stare because of his totally useless nipples and his ability to sleep soundly whilst I was up with baby all night. I’m not going to lie, giving in with breastfeeding entered my mind on more than one occasion. I will be writing a post on my breastfeeding experience soon!

Due to becoming a recluse with my son when he was born I was absolutely determined not to let that happen to me again. I didn’t want to hide away and do nothing so I made sure to push myself. The following day after I got home from the hospital I went in to my work and dropped my work phone off and went to say hi to the team. They all thought I was mad being out and about with my 3 day old baby. I actually quite enjoyed popping out with her and even managed to grab my little boy from school with her. My husband was at home doing some work but I felt totally fine getting him so I told him to stand down. The mums at the gates seemed shocked to see me there so soon but I honestly think this really made a difference to me.

I carried on going out each day even if it was just to do the school run or have a browse around the shops. I kept my alarms on my phone for feeding her and made sure I was back home for feeds. It was too awkward to do that out and about just yet. Each day I went out I could feel myself getting more and more confident to do more with her. I did notice that she was still looking very yellow and she seemed to be getting even more sleepy however. I had an appointment with the midwife a couple of days after coming out of hospital so I mentioned this to her. She said she thought her colouring was okay but she could see I was stressing so she took some bloods and sent them to the hospital. I just had a gut instinct that she wasn’t right even though so many people, including my husband thought she was fine.

Later on that day I received a phone call and it was the hospital saying they had her blood results back and she needs to come in for photo therapy as her bilirubin levels were very high again. So when she was around 5 days old we were admitted back to hospital. We went to Durham hospital this time as this is nearer where we live. I gave birth to her at a hospital in Newcastle due to being monitored there when pregnant. This meant that Durham hospital didn’t have all of our information and we had to go through everything over and over which was a bit of a pain.

I had to stay in over night with my little princess as she had the photo therapy again. She was really quite poorly and not feeding well at all. I was still trying to keep up the routine I had going and managing on absolutely no sleep still. I had to stay in hospital with her for a few nights again whilst we made sure she was better and that she was feeding a bit better. She was having to drink my milk via a bottle mainly as she was too tired to breastfeed. The second night I was there a nurse could see that I was running on no sleep at all and religiously following my exhausting routine. She helped feed baby and then told me to ditch the breast pump this time and get some sleep. I managed to get a couple of hours in before I had to feed again and I was glad to get those couple of hours.

When we finally got home I had 1 day of chill in the house as I was feeling quite drained. I then went back to going out and about, keeping myself busy. Over the weekend my son broke out in a rash. It was a sandpaper type rash and he had bright pink cheeks. I instantly started panicking and thought it must be Scarlet fever/slapped cheek. He had a sore throat and cold type symptoms. I couldn’t believe it! He hadn’t been ill in months and then we had a newborn and he was instantly ill. It was so hard to keep him away from her. I knew he had been kissing her right before I spotted the rash and the damage was already done. I didn’t want him to feel pushed out either and I knew these early days of bonding were so important. I just told him that he had a cold and not to kiss her. I also hoped my milk would protect her if it was what I thought.

In the end we believed that Reid just had a viral thing as he didn’t end up with the ‘strawberry tongue’ but unfortunately this meant little miss ended up with a sore throat. Only 2 weeks old and already had her first virus. The poor little thing was very upset but otherwise was fine. I then started noticing later on that week that her wee was smelling funny. The smell was familiar as my son used to have urine infections as a baby and had kidney reflux. We always had to be super vigilant in case he had any as it could quickly lead to a kidney infection. It smelled exactly the same as when he had a UTI.

I was so confident that she had a urine infection so I got a sample and an appointment at the GP straight away. It’s not my first rodeo so I skipped the whole process you normally do when collecting wee from a baby. I knew from past experience drawing the wee from the pad sometimes ended up being a dud sample and I had to go through the whole process again , no thanks! I decided to do a clean catch instead and just sat patiently ready with the bottle to catch the wee. It’s not the most fun I’ve ever had and it is like watching paint dry for 20+ mins but it’s worth it to only have to submit the one sample.

The GP dip tested the sample and surprise surprise she had an infection along with a bit of a high temp. There was nothing I could give her and I was just told to keep an eye on her. She was screaming quite a lot but was still so sleepy so on the weekend again I ran 111 and was sent to the hospital for observations. They checked her over and said that she did have a sore throat. We went through the whole past history again as they still didn’t have records. They said since my son had kidney reflux when he was younger and since she has had a urine infection she will need to have tests for reflux. I was a bit gutted about this because they really aren’t nice but I guess I was expecting them to say that. Those tests actually ended up coming back fine which was a relief!

After blood tests and observations I was happy to hear that her bilirubin levels were still fine so she did not need any more treatment for jaundice. They decided that she just needed to be monitored for the time being and that we could eventually go home. I was exhausted as I was in hospital more than I was at home and I was getting very fed up. I stayed strong throughout but I was really feeling pants about the whole thing. I just wanted to enjoy my newborn. I was missing my little boy too and was worried that he would think I was too busy with the baby to be with him. I didn’t want him to resent the baby or feel left out.

My poor little girl had been on antibiotics since birth. She had to change to different ones and even after a week of being on an antibiotic for her urine infection I could tell it wasn’t going away. I was waiting for the further test results to come back on the urine as it had been sent away. I eventually got a phone call after a whole week later to say that they need to change her antibiotic as it wasn’t right for the infection she had. So that week of treatment was just a waste of time effectively.

As I noticed the jaundice getting a little better I noticed she was starting to eat more and starting to make more noise and wake more. We were finally discharged from the midwives when she was 3/4 weeks old as they were happy she had gained enough weight. Her care was then to be taken over by health visitors. They also said I could drop her top ups now as she seems to be getting enough. At first this seemed great but by about 4 -6 weeks she started getting very upset and was almost impossible to console. She would scream and cry and look like she was in pain all the time. I forgot to mention earlier that since birth her dirty nappies have always been a concern for us. She always had extremely runny and ridiculously frequent dirty nappies. I am talking 30+ a day! We were always told that it was normal but we knew it wasn’t. She just seemed so unhappy and since her weight gain was perfect we knew it wasn’t lack of milk.

One day I rang 111 again when her crying was getting so bad and she had a bit of blood in her poo and her poo’s were mostly bright green all the time. She had also projectile vomited a couple of times. They sent me to out of hours and the Dr said she thinks baby has colic. I didn’t really feel like this was right but went out to buy some Infacol anyway and went home. Infacol didn’t do anything for little miss, she was still exactly the same. The following day after going to out of hours I decided to go see the GP. I told them I just wanted a second opinion and their opinion was that she had gastroenteritis. I still didn’t feel right with this diagnosis. He referred me to the hospital again to ‘put my mind at rest’. Here I was again, off to the hospital for the umpteenth time and I just knew they would be thinking, oh God not her again.

We were seen by many paed Dr’s. The first said it sounded like reflux and I thought, ok, this could possibly be right. I had done my research and to be honest I always thought she had silent reflux. I did think that everything she had tummy troubles wise actually sounded like a cows milk allergy and reflux but I was alwayssssss shot down by everyone when I mentioned the allergy. I begrudgingly accepted that it might just be reflux and at least we were getting somewhere. I still felt like there was something else though and they couldn’t tell me why she was getting blood in her stools.

A second Dr came to see Indie and when I mentioned what the last one said he shook his head and said, no, no I think it is just gastroenteritis. He was confident it couldn’t be reflux and no way it was a cows milk allergy as she wasn’t losing weight. By this point I was losing the will to live. I knew it wasn’t gatroenteritis and it felt like it was something that she’d had since birth that was progressing. It didn’t appear to me that she had just caught a bug or like it was new symptoms as such. I was really getting fed up and I felt like no one was really listening to me. Eventually after lots of tests they decided to stick with gastro and send us home. I was given the advice of, if she is still having blood in her poo in 2 weeks time go back to GP. That was it, I felt totally helpless and had a very very unhappy baby. It was so upsetting.

Things just weren’t improving and by the time she was 8 weeks old I went to see a nurse practitioner at my surgery. I told her everything right from the beginning and before I could say what I thought was wrong she said ‘I think she has a cows milk allergy’. I burst out with THANK YOU! in a ‘finally someone has said it’ kind of way. She said that it didn’t matter if she wasn’t losing weight and that she can still have an allergy. She then said I need to cut out cows milk and also soy from my diet. Apparently it is the protein in cows milk that is the issue and soy proteins are actually very similar. My initial thought was, brilliant, a health care professional is on the same page as me now! My next thought was….ah crap, that’s me stopping breastfeeding then. How on earth am I meant to cut out both of those things, it just won’t work.

After leaving the Dr surgery it was like a switch was flipped. I started talking myself in to trying to cut out dairy and soy. I thought I was all ready to give in, but a big part of me, sub consciously wasn’t allowing it. I still had it in my head that this would never work but I thought, why not just give it a go. Can’t hurt to try I guess. So here I was about to embark on a journey I hadn’t been on before. One that would see me asking for the allergy books in restaurants and packet reading. Getting excited when I found a dairy/soy-free alternative that actually tasted good and willingly paying fortunes for it!

The first week was the most difficult. It’s quite scary being responsible for your child’s allergy. Knowing that If I mess up it would hurt her. It was already upsetting to know that it would take around 6 weeks for the proteins to leave both our systems. So even though I vowed that day to stop eating it, she would still suffer for weeks yet. This messed with my head a bit as I felt like I was sacrificing myself to help her and she was still poorly and unhappy. It did make you want to give in some days. The stubborn part of me wouldn’t allow myself to. Sometimes being stubborn can be great. It’s almost like I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it as I didn’t believe I could.

I joined a few groups on Facebook for CMPA (cows milk protein allergies) which really helped. It was nice to find a community of people who were going through the same thing as myself. They shared so many tips and we all joined in the excitement when someone found something good that was dairy free. We would all run out and buy it and buy it in bulk! I learned so much and it was so interesting to see what is actually in food products. There were so many things that included either milk or soy and some of them really surprised me! It also shocked me at how much shops got away with overpricing ‘free from’ stuff. I found so many dairy-free and soy-free items that were just normal items in the shop. They were always a ‘may contain’ but unless you have severe life threatening reactions, it’s pointless avoiding may contains. Even ‘Free from’ stuff becomes a may contain once it is put in your fridge/cupboard with items that are not free from allergens.

It’s amazing home many items in the shops you can find that actually are ok to eat. One example is a Ms Molly’s cake from Tesco which is a very common party cake. It doesn’t contain any milk or soy when you check the ingredients. It contains eggs but eggs are not dairy so that is fine for us. It is a good size and only around £4. Whereas a ‘free from’ much smaller cake which tastes pretty awful was £7! Another example is bourbon biscuits. They are chocolate so you automatically think, chocolate biscuits will contain dairy. But most actually don’t, especially the cheap unbranded ones. I will make sure to write a post about some great dairy and soy free finds!

The toughest challenge was eating out. Everything always had cheese on or in it. I love pizza and pasts when out and 90% of the time this was not possible. I am already quite fussy as it is so I was so limited in restaurants. I hated asking for the allergy book and it always added a good 20 mins on to ordering food. Cue the eye roll when you mentioned the allergy and asked for the book. Some restaurants were better than others and I soon got over feeling like an inconvenience. More often than not though I did feel like people were pretty helpful. My favourite was pizza express who actually have a vegan cheese and their pizza bases are dairy and soy free so I had an amazing pizza there. I also had a pretty good experience at a brewers fair who created me a bespoke meal to suit my allergies! Pizza hut were also great and accommodating.

Once I hit about 4 weeks of cutting out both dairy and soy from my diet I noticed quite a big change in Indie. She stopped crying as much and her nappies started looking a more normal colour instead of hulk green! It was amazing the change in her and how much more settled she was. I felt like everything was getting better and like things were starting to look up. We had a good few weeks and I felt like I could start relaxing a bit. Her weight gain was perfect and health visitors were very happy, commenting on how she was the most smiley baby ever. She was sleeping longer and longer on a night. Sleeping 6 hours, then sleeping 8 hours and I was told not to wake her as she her weight is perfect and she seems happy. I thought great, dream baby!

A few weeks later Indie started sleeping a bit longer, it got to 11 hours which I thought was a very long time! I was reassured that if her weight gain was good and she was doing lots of wet and dirty nappies then there was no reason to be worried. plus he always woke with a smile and seemed perfect otherwise. I noticed that she would wake after a super long sleep and never seem starving and would often only eat a very small amount and then drift back off to sleep. In fact she never ever seemed that hungry and rarely asked for food. She just wanted to sleep all the time and seemed so content. It got to the point where I was worried but also confused. Surely babies are meant to tell you they are hungry. Why is she sleeping all night and most of the day and eating very little. But yet she doesn’t appear ill etc. In fact it was like she was the happiest she had ever been.

I mentioned my worries to the health visitor and she said she would weigh her. If her weight was fine then I didn’t need to worry. Unfortunately this time she had dropped a bit. I remember feeling a bit sick when the HV told me. I thought, oh no, I have failed. She reassured me that she may be going through a growth spurt or teething or feeling under the weather and it may pass. She said babies weight goes up and down all the time and not to panic too much. We decided to just monitor it but I was now back to being on edge again and back to stressing over her. She told me not to let her go more than 8 hours on a night and continue to try feed her 3-4 hours through the day.

I stuck to my routine as much as I could but it was like Indiana just wasn’t too bothered about food. She would eat the bare minimum. Just enough to not ever be dehydrated. She was still so happy but still so sleepy, I just didn;t know what was going on .I went back and fourth to the gp and on the wed went twice in 1 day! I didn’t want to assume she was fine in case she wasn’t. She was eating less and less each day. I didn’t feel right ignoring it and just waiting too get her weighed again soon. Eventually after my 4th visit to the GP I was finally sent to hospital. Yay, back there again!

The hospital was so busy with sick and injured children. It was quite awful to see. Sitting in a tiny waiting room with children covered in sick and, children with croup and very upset little ones. It became so cramped to the point people couldn’t fit in and I decided to get out of there and sit in the corridor. I decided to give people who needed it more a seat and also selfishly I didn’t want to be stuck in a room with all of those bugs and viruses. I had too much going on as it is and didn’t want Indiana catching something else. I was quite glad I did get out of there as it was approximately 3 hours before we were seen.

Indie was examined by a Dr and they decided that we should be monitored over the weekend to see how she is feeding. They wanted to do some basic tests again to rule out a few things but no one could understand her behaviour. All scratching their heads not really sure what to say. Luckily I had brought a bag in and come prepared as I expected to be kept in. In a way I was quite glad to be staying in as at least this way I wasn’t being fobbed off. It was upsetting leaving my son YET AGAIN to go to hospital with his little sis though. My husband was also fed up of me always being at hospital with her. Each hospital stay was so expensive as the parking costs so much, paying for food etc. whilst you are there and so on. The only saving grace I suppose was that breastfeeding mums get fed. But due to my dairy and soy free diet there often wasn’t much if anything I could have. So I ended up spending still.

The Dr decided that I should go back to when Indiana was a newborn and feed every 3-4 hours and use a breast pump in between. I remember thinking ah no, I have done my time of no sleep and this whole routine is torture. Obviously I was willing to do what was necessary but it was a hard few days in hospital! She didn’t really eat very much through the night but I continued to force feeds on her and she did eat a bit more. She never stopped smiling the whole time we were there and everyone fell in love with her. Even in the middle of the night when she was fast asleep and they would come in to do her obs and wake her up, through sleepy tired eyes he would still give big smiles to whoever was there.

The Dr’s continued to scratch their heads and couldn’t work out why she was doing what she was doing. They all commented on the fact that she looked so healthy and happy and how apart from her weight she was perfect in every way. Her weight loss wasn’t huge but was still a loss at the end of the day. They decided that after a few days I should go home and continue to get her weighed and keep trying to feed her more often. I was glad to be home but felt frustrated that we were no further forward as usual.

Indie continued being sleepy and not eating much most days but would have the odd good day where she seemed to eat a bit more. Slowly she began to up the amount she ate and after a week she had gained weight quite well. She seemed more unhappy now however and unsettled. It’s like she was at her happiest when she wasn’t feeding as much. It was the most bizarre thing ever and I couldn’t wrap my head around it.

I took her to a breastfeeding cafe which I had never done before as there was a woman there who was very experienced with babies and allergies. She said it sounded like there is still something in my diet that is upsetting her and it’s almost like when she ate less she felt better hence why she was happier. She said that now she is eating a bit more it must be causing her discomfort and that is why she is not as settled. It made complete sense! Obviously I couldn’t not feed her and had to make sure she was eating enough but it was heartbreaking to think that after all of this she still isn’t completely better. She did agree that it sounds like cutting out the dairy and soy has made a massive difference but believes there is something else she must have a mild allergy to.

The lady told me that it would be pointless trying to cut everything out my diet and to just continue as I was doing. She said that once I start weaning her this is when we can experiment and find out what it is that she doesn’t tolerate. We can introduce things to her one by one until we see what is upsetting her. She also said that some babies grow out of their dairy intolerance by 6 months so when I see the dietician they will sow me how to go up the milk ladder with her. It was nice to actually have someone understand and make so much sense! She was more helpful than every single health care professional I had seen so far!

Roll on to today and little miss is finally eating more. She still loves her sleep and I have to wake her up for food but she is doing better! Her tummy isn’t completely right but she is overall pretty happy so things are OK at the moment. Well….that was until bloody chicken pox hit our household!!! I mean, come on, can’t we have a break??!! My son who is 6 has been round chicken pox so many times and never got it. He hactually had a blood test that showed immunity to it so we smugly thought he wouldn’t get it But nope, we had a new baby and bam he brings chicken pox to the table. Bless, it wasn’t his fault of course and it’s been really sad to see my first baby so poorly and his beautiful face absolutely covered. He is out the other side of it now and we are just waiting for that last spot to scab over!

2 Weeks stuck at home with a 3 month old and a poorly spotty 6 year old had been…well…pretty crap. To say I was stressing that Indie would get it was an understatement. I was so worried, but I ended up just getting to the point where I was like, just get spotty already! If she was going to have it could we please just get the ball rolling so we can get passed this! Yep…the spots did come…she was covered! It all really wan’t great timing however. This month was my husband’s birthday, a wedding the weekend after then my son’s birthday on Halloween and also his birthday party the first weekend of November. The one month we actually have lots of things on, and it had to be THIS month! Luckily we are coming out of the other side and I am kinda glad now that they have both got it out of the way!

I could laugh at the shitty luck we have had but then it’s nothing new to us. We have had bad luck as long as I can remember but we are still here and I have to remember we can get through anything. Did my husband losing his job this year whilst I am pregnant and about to go on maternity pay and his car going for MOT and being a write off stop us (only a few of the things that happened this year)? No it didn’t , we are still fighting every day and it’s hard but we will never stop fighting.

The bad luck has been going on for a while now! We lost our baby boy last year whilst my mum was also having a mastectomy followed by her having many hospital stays that included meningitis not once but TWICE! Which then lead to her having to close her company as she had battled with her health and keeping her business going and it was just too much. Watching her lose what she worked hard for, having to go through hell whilst my husband now losing his job (he worked for her), still grieving the loss of my son whilst worrying about this next baby and also trying not to be a shitty mother to the child I already have. It really has been tough…but as they say, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Well we should be the hulk family by now in that case…

It hasn’t all been doom and gloom however as we have done some lovely things in the school holidays with the kiddies and made memories. It was hard financially for us and also tough giving birth in June and then having an energetic 6 year old at home for 6 weeks not long after having a new baby. I tried my best and we even managed to squeeze in a cheapy little holiday in the UK for 3 nights. I will be writing a post also on what we got up to in the holidays (hopefully very soon).

My little princess is getting bigger and bigger each day and is growing far too fast! We all adore her so much and can’t imagine not having her! She has really tested us over these last 4 months but she is worth every bit of stress. I am so excited for her first Christmas this year! Trying to narrow down the photos to share in this post was almost impossible as I must take a gazillion each day of her and her brother! I tried my best pick to some of my favs!

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