The search for relief

I am now onto my third medication trial in this search for relief from migraines. I’m also in my ninth month of daily migraines with inadequate pain relief.

The first medication to be trialed was an anti-depressant called Effexor. It had no effect at all.

Many of the migraine preventative medications are actually medications for other conditions which have a well documented side effect or reducing migraines. So far I’ve tried an anti-depressant, an anticonvulsant, and now a beta blocker. I was able to try the anti-depressant whilst pregnant, but then I had to wait until I was no longer pregnant or breastfeeding in order to try other medications. This meant there was a 6 month break between medication trials where it was purely about pain management with medications safe to use in pregnancy.

I weaned SnuggleBub to formula at 4 weeks, 2 days and started Topamax the same day (anticonvulsant). Topamax didn’t help the migraines, but it did give me dizzy spells. Bonus! Now I am trialing Propranolol (beta blocker). It’s been nearly three weeks and there has been no effect on the migraines. I have been extremely tired (because that’s what you need when you’ve got a new baby: medication-induced fatigue to go with the sleep deprivation!), and experiencing moments of I-can’t-stand-right-now light-headedness, and dizzyness. While all this fun is going on, one of my pain relief medications has decreased in effectiveness leaving me with just 2-3 days a week where I can take effective pain relief medication.

The next review is in July. If things don’t improve with the beta blocker, then I believe the next step is botox treatment. When it was first mentioned as a possibility, all I could think is that I don’t want my children growing up with an expressionless mummy. Over the past few months I’ve decided that they will be far better off with an mummy who can’t show expressions rather than a mummy who just can’t feel at times. Because that’s what it is like on a bad day for me; I can’t feel, empathise, sympathise or care much at all about anything. My whole self is occupied with getting through the pain and trying not to snap and bite at everyone when really it’s the migraine that I want to snap and bite and tear into 1000 smithereens. Did I mention that I get really cranky with the migraines too?!

 

Almost five

It is hard to believe but Monsieur will turn five next week. (Note: This post was started in early April…things got busy, new bub and all, so I am just getting back to it now, mid-June!)

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Sleep: I don’t know that this even needs mentioning anymore! He did start wanting snuggles at night after stories, so we have a routine where some nights I snuggle with him after lights out, and some nights R snuggles with him. He started this around second term last year, so I think it started as a way to get some time with us at the end of the day. It is quite nice. Sometimes he’ll talk about things that take his fancy, or things that are on his mind. Sometimes we’ll meditate together and sometimes he just wants to be held until he falls asleep. It can br brutal for R and I though, on the occasions where we fall asleep too, as it is hard to do anything afterward with all the sleep chemicals running around in our brains. He also went through a stage of coming into our room in the morning and climbing into bed next to me for morning snuggles. That was nice, but reasonably short-lived. Now, if he wakes before we do, he will often creep into the hallway with Lucky and Snuggle Doon and his torch, and start reading books in the hallway!

Food: Fruit and yoghurt continue to be favourites. He has an ongoing thing with his grandad where he “steals” Grandad’s yoghurt whenever we stay with them! Usually he “steals” Grandad’s fruit as well! This year at kinder they are doing BBQ Fridays; every week one or two kinder parents goes in and cooks the BBQ lunch for the kinder kids. Often when I pick him up on a Friday, all the kids are outside and music is playing and there is a real Friday feel. Monsieur quickly decided that BBQ Friday days called for a special dinner too, usually chosen by him. We’d imagined at some point doing special meals, like tacos or pizza, on Fridays, so it fits in well.

Language: Monsieur is coming up with very long, involved stories now, often using aspects of movies or stories or things that he has heard. I love to listen to him playing in his room as he creates stories, often doing the different voices of characters, or telling his cars or toys things that they can and can’t do. He is really interested in reading too, and is constantly amazing me with the words that he can read or recognise already. I haven’t really been working with him on reading skills, so I was wondering where it was coming from. His kinder does some reading and writing but I don’t think it is strongly emphasised as it is a play-based learning kinder. Then the other day I was watching him on the iPad and realised that all the educational apps I’ve put on are paying off! He was using one of the apps that are designed to teach reading. It seems to be working! Well. It made me feel a lot more positive about the amount of iPad time he has been getting these past few months! I’ve also bought some ABC Reading Eggs activity books and started going through one with him today. He really enjoys activities like circling all the objects that start with a particular letter. On that note, I discovered the other day that he is a perfect age to start playing “I Spy”. He is pretty good at sounding out words and working out what the starting letter is. For our part, we stay away from words starting with consonant digraphs (sh, ch th, etc) or silent letters!

General Development:

Monsieur can get himself completely dressed and undressed now. He is becoming more and more independent, and talks about doing things “like you guys” – since his baby sister arrived he is definitely lining himself up with the grown-ups more. Although he has commented that he’s glad that he’s not a grown-up because he gets to eat his dinner hot and doesn’t have to change nappies! Astute!

Favourites: He has developed a love for Beanie Boos – a soft toy collection which are popular amongst his peers. They are pretty cute, I must admit. He still loves trains, although has not been playing with them this past month. R also commented that the train expo in March this year didn’t seem to captivate Monsieur in quite the same way it has in previous year. Maybe we are coming to the end of the train obsession.  Or maybe he has just been so occupied with all the new toys and activities given to him as various birthday presents, and we’re about to head back to the frequent train track building.

We borrowed some Magnatiles (magnetic building tiles) from the toy library which have been a huge hit with him. It is exciting to see him constructing and creating with them. He is also getting into Lego more, and starting to just pull out his Lego boxes and make things.

He enjoys listening to audio books and podcasts in the car, specifically one podcast made for children called “Sparkle Stories”. Until recently we have just had short audio books in the car, books by Julia Donaldson, “Hairy McClary” and “Grug”, but I borrowed “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” from the library and he has been listening to that for the past two weeks.

He loves to read. On the weekends he is usually the first one up and will happily settle himself in the hallway for some reading whilst he waits for us to wake up.

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He loves our cat, Shakti; he alternates between wishing she was his cat and just calling her his cat! He adores cats and often pretends to be a kitten. He had a kitten party for his birthday.

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Other creatures he pretends to be include: Pinkachu the pokemon (we know that it is Pikachu, but he is convinced that it is Pinkachu!), Kikki the cat, Sparkles the kitten, Fantasia the unicorn. We have to remember which one he is and call him by the correct name. He has such a vivid imagination.

Six weeks, second time round

When Monsieur was six weeks old, I forced myself to get out my big camera, go to the park and take some photos. I had to make myself look at him. Stop the feed-pump-rock-walk-no sleep cycle and actually look at him and appreciate him and spend time with him. It was hard. It was forced. It didn’t come naturally. I was exhausted. I trudged to the park with the pram. I skipped the post-feed pump so we could go to the park – our usual routine did not allow enough time to be gone for that long; I may have even fed him at the park and skipped the next pump as well. It was like playing hookey so I could enjoy my son. I knew that I was supposed to be enjoying my son. Everyone told me so. Mostly I remember that day being really cold. I felt awkward being out with him, awkward with the camera. I had no idea how to take a photo of us together and I had absolutely no idea how I was meant to be enjoying this baby. I loved him so much, but I wasn’t really enjoying him. He seemed so fragile and tiny and I was so scared that I would break him.

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It is so different with SnuggleBub. My big camera is out. Photos are happening naturally. I lose time just being with her. There is much to be said for experience and sleep. Second time round truly is something special. I am enjoying this baby. I finally understand how people can enjoy this stage and I am so grateful to have this chance to experience it. It is so sweet and lovely and I am not afraid that I will accidentally break her!

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Nine years!!

9 years ago two friends went on their first official date. There have been lots of “best dates” since then, but no better decisions that one! Marriage, children, house – none of it was on the cards or even remotely on my radar…until R came along. I had a rocking single life, and in the past nine years R has shown me that married life can also rock.

My Love and my Light, every single day.

2007

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2008 – Wedding photos by David Anthony Williams

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2009

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2010

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2011

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2012

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2013

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2014

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2015

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2016

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Breastfeeding – The Sequel!

Here I am again, attached to the pump, a machine that I both love and hate.

It has been a very different experience this time around. It helps so much knowing what to expect and being able to prepare. I started expressing colostrum in January and freezing it, ready for SnuggleBub. I didn’t expect to get much milk (due to a breast reduction in my early twenties) and wanted to avoid starving our baby in her first week, as we unintentionally had with Monsieur.

I also knew that I had a short amount of time in which I could breastfeed. I have been in a holding pattern with the migraines, having tried the medications that were safe to use during pregnancy. There are more medications that I can try, however they cannot be recommended as safe for use during pregnancy and breastfeeding, so I have been waiting until I was no longer pregnant or breastfeeding before trying them. I wanted to breastfeed for 3-4 weeks, but knew that I would be stopping in order to get onto new medication after that.

Even if the time wasn’t limited by my desire to get onto new medication, it would have been very hard to maintain milk supply once I was doing the kinder run and getting back into full routine. I need to pump regularly to increase and maintain supply, which does not mix well with getting out and doing things, such as kinder runs. So far, I’ve just been at home so it has been easy to maintain a pumping schedule.

After the birth, SnuggleBub wasn’t able to breastfeed effectively, but we were able to express enough colostrum to fill her tummy for the first day. We always knew that she would be fed both breast milk and formula, so when the midwife offered that first night to take her to the night nursery, we asked that they feed her formula rather than bring her back for feeding during the night.

Our daughter’s start in life was very different from our son’s. She didn’t lose more than the recommended 10% of birth weight, she never had urate crystals in her nappies and most notably of all, she slept. She slept well and soundly, her stomach full.

I was also able to express good quantities of colostrum, thanks to all the expressing that I’d been doing in previous weeks. It made me wonder why it’s not recommended to express colostrum from 37 weeks. I am sure that it helped my milk come in, plus I had a store of colostrum to help feed SnuggleBub while we waited for my milk to come in. Surely this would make those first few days easier for a number of mums and bubs.

We started off breastfeeding for the first 10 days or so, but found that it wasn’t working well. She was having trouble latching properly. We sometimes, but not always, had success using a nipple shield – which contrary to what the name implies is not actually used for protecting the nipple; rather it is used to give the baby a decent nipple to latch on to, when a mum’s nipples are a bit flat and awkward for latching. I started to notice that she wouldn’t settle after a “good” breastfeeding session, and it took constant effort to keep reattaching her. However when she had EBM (expressed breast milk) via a bottle, she would settle easily and quickly.

Given that I was not going to be continuing with breastfeeding long-term anyway, I decided, with encouragement from my extremely supportive MCHN (Maternal and Child Health Nurse), to stop trying to breastfeed and instead just feed her EBM and formula via bottles.

The first 24 hours after deciding that, I hit my first big down over the whole breastfeeding-not-working thing, unable to stop crying and feeling like a failure. My supply dropped in that 24 hours and it just felt so cruel withholding the breast when she searched for it.

Fortunately that first down only lasted an evening, and shortly after that my supply increased again and has held reasonably steady at 250-300ml per day. I even had a small win (in my eyes) when she had a pooey nappy that was like the nappy of an exclusively breastfed baby. I felt so chuffed! Again, past experience made me so much more prepared. I asked my MIL to make lactation biscuits and stocked up on nuts and oat bars and porridge with coconut in it – all foods meant to increase milk supply. I’m sure that that has all helped too.

Last week I had my first experience of mastitis, which was awful. Last time I would get blocked ducts that would stay blocked for ages, due, I suspect, to scar tissue within my breasts. However, I never came down with mastitis. I assumed that it would be the same this time. No such luck. Developing mastitis meant that I couldn’t start weaning off the pump as I had planned. And now that I can start weaning, I find that I don’t want to. I want to keep giving SnuggleBub as much breastmilk as I can for this remaining week, but after that I don’t want to pump and dump.

Pumping for me is not as easy as just hooking up to the breast pump and letting it work its milking magic. I need to help the milk come out with fairly vigorous massage and hand expressing at the same time. This is what caused my wrist issues last time, and my wrists are none too happy with me right now. But it is for such a short time, I feel compelled to do the absolute best that I can.

So whilst I am still pumping, and semi encouraging milk supply to stay the same at the very least, I am also now looking into ways to deliberately halt milk supply. I never thought I would want to do that, but here we are. I want to give SnuggleBub as much breastmilk as I can, which means not starting to wean off the pump. I don’t want to pump and dump the breastmilk once I am on new medication, and I don’t want to get mastitis again. Drying up my milk supply seems like the best option.

I am not looking forward to the hormone dip once I stop pumping. It is brutal and harsh and tells my heart that I’ve failed when my head knows that isn’t true. I intend to self medicate with lots of chocolate until my hormones stabilise again! Most of all, I am not looking forward to the tears that just well up. I had so many tears last time, but I didn’t have a five year old around who was aware and concerned. Monsieur has seen enough of my tears with the migraines over the past few months; he doesn’t need to see more. At least this time I know that there is a massive hormone shift which just makes everything so blue, and, most importantly, I know that it will pass.

I wish it was different for me. I so wish that I could breastfeed. Bottles are a lot more hassle, as is pumping. It would be so nice to have my baby’s source of nourishment on hand at all times, no prep needed. This time though, we have a system in place; a system that took us several months to work out last time. When SnuggleBub and I arrived home from hospital, R had already set up the bottle station:

  
I shake my head thinking about last time; the mad rush to go and buy bottles and formula, sterilising everything in a big pot on the stove, always heating up the formula. This time we knew that an electric steriliser is worth the money (plus we had kept ours from last time) and babies are perfectly happy with room temperature formula. Past experience has made this time round a much better experience overall. I look back now and can’t believe that I managed to pump for 16 weeks. Making it to four weeks feels like a huge achievement this time.

M o r e   i n f o
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