Posts Tagged ‘sleep’

Sleep. There is no substitute. Shot down by Pre eclampsia.

Written by admin on February 4th, 2011. Posted in In the Hospital

Sleep. That elusive of most enjoyed human needs when you become “mummy”. Sleep. Oh treasured moments of peaceful rest.

When you have just experienced the joy of giving birth whether natural or by cesarean, at the end of it your little baby is safely in your arms helpless, hopeful, needing you. Who can sleep at a time like this?

I sat in bed watching them awestruck. I have two baby girls. I have TWO baby girls. As each of them woke for the breast I loved every moment of nourishing them and holding them close feeling them relax with a total sense of security. I would lay one daughter down and sit….and watch….and wait…in contented amazement. Time slipped by as I fed each of them separately throughout the night. Rarely did they wake together and rarely did I ask the nurses for help. Occasionally one had not finished burping before the other woke and I begrudgingly took her out to a nurse at the desk and asked them to burp her for me. Relinquishing my grasp and heading back to the room to feed the other. Luckily my door was directly in front of the desk because that was the only way I could bear handing them over! Though it seemed to work out nicely most times. I would feed and burp one and then feed and burp the other, then sit, and smile, watching them sleep. Then I’d blink and daylight would be breaking with the mutterings and movements of breakfast carts being wheeled around the ward. “Morning already? Oooh I wonder what’s for breakfast! I love those little bread rolls.” I’d eat the roll with jam and the cereal and right on cue my girls would wake up for their feed. I was in heaven! It felt as though everything was going right. I’d feed and change them and then my partner and mother would arrive around 8:00 or 9:00am. Smoooooth. “Did you have a good night?” they’d ask. “Wonderful! So lovely being with my girls” I said every day…until the fourth evening everything came to an abrupt halt.

It seems I’d neglected to schedule my own sleep somewhere in those first 3 nights and days of motherhood….and I was about to pay for it, big time. While my parents-in-law were visiting just before 6:00pm on the fourth night I started to slump down and my head started constricting and hurting. My shoulders seized up and I couldn’t talk. Seeing the bad state I was in they quickly left to let Gerard tend to me. I cried but crying hurt even more. I slumped down on the bed and Gerard called out to the nurses for help. They came along, “What seems to be the problem”. “I have a migraine, help me, help me“. Is all I could manage to say. I was sweating and crying and couldn’t sit up if my life depended on it. A little ole thing called sleep. You don’t know what it’s worth till your body is so far in the red it decides to shut you down to make it’s point crystal clear! They gave me some sort of pain pill that only just took the edge off it. Gerard told the nurses, “I’m not going home. I’m staying right here. She’s going to sleep and I’m going to look after the babies”. He wheeled their cribs out and ordered me to stay put. Not that I could have gotten out of bed to chase him. And even though the rules are all visitors OUT by 6:00pm the nurses had obviously let him stay because around 4 hours later Gerard brought the girls back into the room screaming their little hearts out. “I’m sorry baby I’ve tried to comfort them to let you sleep as long as I could”. I’d gathered just enough sleep to function again. I sat up groggy but insistent, “Bring them here!! I have to feed them!” and after feeding them slumped back down still in a very bad way. A few hours later after begging for a doctor to come and prescribe something more they finally arrived around 1:00am and gave me an injection which relieved the pain and helped me sleep again. But I endured the irritating, mind bending feeling of being submerged in a watery tunnel for the next 3 days. That’s the only way I could describe it to my family and doctors.

My first point is this, relish in the very special precious hours and days of your new role as mummy but even if you have to force yourself to sleep, figure out a way to do it and do it! I normally have a low blood pressure of around 100/80 sometimes as low as 90/70 but it had skyrocketed to 165 /120 and they said I most likely developed pre eclampsia after the birth. Which coupled with my own adrenaline and excitement may have accounted for my being able to last 3 nights without sleep!

Looking back at my baby diary though and the photos of me after 32 weeks I was retaining ridiculous amounts of fluid (the skin on my feet stung it was stretched so far) and I have no memory of my urine being tested at antenatal appointments for higher than normal protein. My blood pressure was also elevated to about 130/90 which was high for me but in the doctors eyes not an issue. It is quite possible that I developed pre eclampsia well before the birth (at 38 weeks 5 days) but no one did the ‘routine’ tests for it. Given that pre eclampsia can lead to reduced blood flow to the uterus affecting the growth of your baby, possible placental abruption, organ damage (liver, kidneys and brain) and clotting and seizures for the mother, this was a very dangerous and potentially fatal oversight.

So my second point is this, research everything that should be getting done at your antenatal appointments and if they don’t organise it as a matter of course, ask them to. We utilised the public health system which meant lengthy waits at the antenatal appointments and an obvious oversight of routine tests that should have been performed. Given I expressed my discomfort to the doctors of the massive amounts of fluid retention it was quite negligent not to run the pre eclampsia test.

It’s vitally important to be aware of the warning signs of pre eclampsia so that you can alert your caregiver and get treated as soon as possible. The alternative could be bleak. I was very lucky.

New Mums’ Sleep Challenge

Written by admin on January 20th, 2011. Posted in Sleep Challenges

Wow. Where to begin on this topic! If you’re truly lucky like one of my friends, you’re in the elite few and your baby may be sleeping in 5 hour bursts at the age of 4 weeks. Or if you’re like most of us you’re in the same dinky boat as nearly everyone else and your little one is waking every 2 hours, give/take. This is ‘normal’. I say normal loosely because what’s normal for one baby is not normal for another. Let’s say ‘average’.

We were blessed with twins so we had the usual issues of one waking the other. We found they woke every 1.5 – 2 hours throughout the night. I breastfed the girls perched on a twin feeding pillow with the help of my mum who stayed with us for the first six weeks. Sometimes they would wake about a half hour apart and I fed them separately one by one. This made it easy not having to rip off all my clothes from the waist up in the middle of winter to don the sexy (but cold) twin feeding pillow but it meant I had only a 1/2 hour chance to grab a wink or two before the next feed. Usually I had a 30-45min window to sleep every 2 hours. I can tell you after a few weeks of having shallow, broken sleep, you may be feeling slightly lost, foggy or irritable. The classic and well known catchphrase “Baby Brain” is thrown around. It’s not Baby Brain. When I was dossing on a mate’s floor in London years ago, woken up constantly throughout the night by flatmates coming and going, I had the same lost, foggy feeling trying to function throughout the day. It isn’t baby brain. It’s sleep deprivation! I couldn’t find files at work or get my head together to be anywhere half as efficient as normal. You need sleep. Period. So don’t decide to mop the floor or hang washing out when you have the golden opportunity for a half hour nap with your baby during the day. Women push, push, push and we think we have this vast untapped reserve of energy that will never run out. Oh faux pas! It will, and when you need it most, like wind-down for night time and making dinner. 4:00pm was my brick wall. I didn’t know whether I was Arthur or Shirley Temple! NAP. Nap every single chance you can get without a morsel of guilt!