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My list of newborn essentials

My dear premature baby, Sienna, is already 10 weeks old (I can’t actually believe it).

Feels like yesterday that she was born. She is growing so nicely and has recently started smiling!

I had a newborn essentials list for Erin, but have found quite a few extra things available now and also my needs have changed, considering that Sienna was born very early is a summer baby.

So here’s my list of newborn essentials for every new mom:

  • Size 0 Huggies nappies worked best, I just folded the front over due to Sienna being so small
  • Pampers Premium (once she outgrew Size 0), I have ALWAYS been a pampers premium fan, these nappies just don’t leak
  • Johnsons wipes, I prefer the ones that aren’t fragranced
  • Bennets bum cream – so affordable but just such good cream, the BIG tub is the best!
  • Cotton cuddles swaddling blanket from My Nesi. Not too hot for summer babies, but helps to keep baby swaddled. So soft!
  • Good carry cot. I find this so handy. Sienna sleeps in her carry cot during the day, it clips onto her pram, so we push her around the house and take her wherever we are going. The trendz for kidz is the best pram and carry cot combo, just LOVE it!
  • Tiny love rocker, it has a mobile with songs to stimulate her and then a vibrate function to give her a slight massage ūüôā
  • Good bibs, we go through so many bibs a day, you need good ones that are absorbent, NOT those plastic ones ūüė¶
  • D¬†drops – I never used this for Erin, but due to Sienna being prem the paed recommended good vitamins. The D drops are so good for her Vitamin D intake (which she obviously doesn’t get much of, as she doesn’t lie in the sun)
  • Sleep positioner – I loved these when Erin was a newborn and I still love them. They are so very handy and help keep baby in correct position
  • Sterimar for babies – great to keep the nose moist and helps baby sneeze, if needed

Mums, do you have any newborn essentials you would like to add to the list?

Bennets Huggies Johnsons Pampers Sterimar Tiny love

This is not a sponsored post

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Breast is NOT always best

Disclaimer – Very controversial post. If you judge people who don’t breastfeed their baby, I suggest you don’t read this, or try and be more open minded. This is merely my opinion, not medically proven, just my experience.

A few minutes after Erin was born I had a nurse (complete stranger) squeeze my nipples and place Erin on my breast to feed her, this was my first and wonderful (she says with a sarcastic voice) experience of breastfeeding.

The week that followed the following happened:

  • My milk came in and my breasts were as big (if not bigger) than Dolly Parton’s breasts
  • It felt like needles in my nipples every time Erin sucked
  • I had cabbage leaves in my bra for engorgement
  • The one night I woke up thinking that I would lose my left breast, as it was so hard – Erin¬†refused to¬†suck on it for 48 hours
  • I had my midwife come and push approximately 2L of milk out of my breasts, using facecloths that were placed in boiling hot water
  • Woke up most nights in a pool of milk, as my breasts were leaking so much

I endured all this because society (and people’s opinions) led me to believe that I was a bad mother if I did not breastfeed my baby.¬† I carried on with this lonely (as I normally sat in Erin’s room behind closed doors while feeding) task for about four months. After four months I started getting TERRIBLE hormonal headaches and HAD TO (Hallelujah) stop breastfeeding.¬† Now I at least had an excuse and people stopped judging me. “Oh well if it’s for a medical reason that you had to stop, then that’s okay”.

At the time I was very na√Įve and actually cared what other people thought of me. But looking back I am infuriated by how people judged me and how (from the second my child was conceived) others thought that my body, my breasts, by tummy were open for public scrutiny – WHAT????

Regardless of all of the above, I really wanted to breastfeed Sienna. I was hoping that my experience would be a better one. So I made sure I was prepared. I bought a state of the art breast pump, enough breast pads to last me months, storage bags. My mother in law bought me a beautiful feeding shawl. I was good to go.

When Sienna was born VERY prematurely, the nurses told me that I could express and that they would feed her through the feeding tube with my milk and they would¬†supplement with¬†formula if I couldn’t produce enough. I had enough milk, but not as much as the first time round. Think it was due to Sienna being in NICU.

Sienna’s neighbor in NICU was born at 35 weeks and was crying her eyes out non stop as the mother had forbidden the nurses to give the baby formula. The mothers colostrum had not come in yet and the baby was being starved. After HOURS of crying the nurses eventually called the mother and begged her and she gave them “permission” to give formula.

A friend acquaintance (who had also had a premature baby)¬†popped in when Sienna was a week old (still in NICU) and she asked whether I was breastfeeding, to which I answered “yes”.¬† She then said something that I don’t think I will ever forgot. “Oh well that is the least you can do for your premature baby”. I must be honest that was one of the most shocking things I had heard in a long time. I wonder why that was the least I could do? As if it was MY fault that she was prem, or that she would be disadvantaged in an AWFUL way if, God forbid. formula were to touch her lips.

Regardless I carried on “breastfeeding” (expressing and bottle feeding my milk) Sienna. She came home after 12 days in NICU. The morning of day 14 she started vomiting – a lot. I changed her nappy at 5am and found BLOOD in her stool. I took her to the ER immediately and my paed said he suspects¬†it’s something called Colitis. It basically means Sienna was allergic to something I was eating. My paed suggested I stop breast feeding and use formula for 48 hours, then go back to breast milk. I had a small tin of NAN HA in the cupboard and gave that to Sienna – she LOVED it! After 48 hours I started the breast milk again and she just wouldn’t drink it, she hated the taste. So I decided to STOP BREASTFEEDING. Oh my word I said it!

I was sad for a day, not quite sure why though, but I felt a bit sad.

Last week Sienna got sick and she had to be hospitalized. She had a virus, that she contracted from Erin, kids get sick.¬† She did not get sick because I didn’t breastfeed her (as a friend had implied) she got sick because her sister made her sick!

Now that I’m not breastfeeding her anymore I feel like I have my body back. I feel less like a cow that needs to express every four hours. I feel so much more flexible, as¬†my family loves giving her a bottle, which gives me time to go to bootcamp, shops etc.¬† I feel no pain, no painful let down reflex, no needles in my nipples, no cracked nipples. I feel like I’m being a better mother to Erin – the time that I would’ve been expressing, I’m spending with her.

Damien always used to say to me “bottle fed babies also make it to adult hood” and I am just so grateful that I have a husband who supports and respects my decision, and doesn’t judge me.

Am I a bad mother for not breastfeeding my premature baby – HELL NO! I am the ABSOLUTE BEST MOTHER IN THE WORLD TO SIENNA AND ERIN and I do not need to justify to anyone else why my kids are not breastfed/ breastfed for a limited period.

PS Sienna is thriving on NAN and is picking up about 300-400 grams a WEEK!

To all those mothers out there who chose (or had to stop) not to breastfeed their babies, good for you! Breast is NOT always best!

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No two children (or pregnancies) are the same

Before I had children, people always used to tell me, no two children are the same and no two pregnancies are the same. I never really used to think much about that comment until I was pregnant, and especially until my second child was born.  I did a little (real accountant) spreadsheet below to illustrate the differences between my two children and pregnancies.  My mum also told me that I would love my second child just as much as my first. I could never fathom that concept before 14 November 2015, but the second I saw Sienna I understood it.

PS – I am by no means comparing them, as if they competing against each other, this is merely for me to document their differences.

Erin pregnancy Sienna pregnancy
Slight nausea and vomiting Extreme nausea and vomiting – hospitalisation type
Extreme, can’t keep eyes open exhaustion Not too tired
Picked up 9kgs Stopped weighing at 15kgs
No swelling at all Swelling EVERYWHERE
General great health Felt sick the entire time
Hardly any braxton hicks MANY braxton hicks
Never went into labour Went into pre term labour
Had Erin at 39 w elective Caesar Had Sienna 32 w emergency Caesar
Baby Erin Baby Sienna
2.88kgs, 51cm 2.065kgs, 45cm
8:45am 9:45am
Winter baby Summer baby
Born 100% healthy NICU, as pre term
Went home after 2 days Went home after 12 days
Breast fed Bottle fed
Loved swaddling Doesn’t like being swaddled
LOVED dummy! No dummy
Blue eyes One blue, one brown ūüôā
Cried when she was bathed LOVES bath time
Cried a normal amount Hardly cries
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40 weeks today!!! Sienna Faith, I ADORE you!

Wow, so so much has happened since the last time I have written a post, I hardly even know where to start.

It’s no secret that we struggled to fall pregnant with Sienna and no secret that I really didn’t have an easy pregnancy, but what happened next, came as a complete surprise and changed who I am forever. This is my birth story – Sienna Faith.

iPhone 2015 4114

The first week of November 2015 Damien went to China, I was 31 weeks pregnant. When he asked me whether he could go to China or not, I said “sure there’s NO way I’ll give birth to Sienna when I’m 31 weeks, that’s too early”, so he went to China. On the Thursday I felt shooting pains going up into my cervix, so I was worried and went to my hospital where I was scheduled to give birth to Sienna to do a Stress test. They put the machines on my belly and said everything is 100% fine, no sign of labour, but that I should take things easy in terms of stress, work etc. Of course I never listened (I hardly ever do – defiant nature I guess) and carried on as normal, stress, long hours, tight deadlines etc.

I always felt in my heart that my second baby would come early, but I was thinking maybe, 36/ 37 weeks….

Damien returned from China on the Sunday and JHB was experiencing yet ANOTHER heat wave, I was hot, bothered, miserable and HUGE! I was thrilled that Damien was home, after a week away, as I don’t cope very well without my soul mate nearby.

Monday we all started work as usual and the deadlines got more hectic, requirements from head office more intense and my hours longer. By Thursday (32 weeks exactly, 12 November 2015) I was pooped, not even having time to go to the bathroom or to buy lunch. I remember asking a friend to get me a pie and a tab РYUK! I was about to leave to go home, swim and continue working from home and went to the bathroom before I left (as I always do). I looked down and just saw RED everywhere, I panicked to say the least.

iPhone 2015 3646 (On our babymoon in Plett.)

I phoned Damien and asked him what to do. He said to go to the nearest hospital. So I drove myself to Morningside Medi clinic (not where our doctor is, but close to work and close to home). I was crying as I was driving and praying at the same time, “Dear God, please protect this baby”. I couldn’t feel her move and the fear of losing her was all I could think about. I phoned my mum on the way and all she could say was “stay on the phone, stay on the phone until you get to the ER.” I ran in and shouted “I’m 32 weeks pregnant and bleeding”. The staff were so efficient and helpful and got me to the gynae’s rooms within minutes. I met Dr Andre and the first thing he said with a smile was “Oh no man, why are you crying, everything will be ok”.

He started examining me and found that Sienna was still fine, amniotic fluid fine and that she was not in danger. I was 32 weeks and she was a enormous 2.10kgs! That’s huge for me, as Erin was only 2.88kgs at 39 weeks. He explained everything to me in a calm manner and said that I’ll be admitted to be monitored over night. I remember my midwife telling me that I have placenta previa, but not a severe case of it. My original gynae confirmed that it was not a serious case but that the placenta was low and that she would monitor it.

I spent the night in hospital in the labour ward, but first underwent an MRI as I lost my speech and my entire right vision was blurry – BLOODY scary! I remember thinking, I’ve never gone into labour before, but not being able to speak and losing your vision just doesn’t sound right. Side note – for anyone about to undergo an MRI, wow, that space is SMALL (and I’m not a big person). If you have claustrophobia, I suggest they knock you out before they do it and the NOISE. Must’ve been one of my scariest experiences of my life, but I had to be brave, for me and more importantly for my unborn baby.

 

I was wheeled back to my room around 10pm when the nurse put the monitors on my tummy again – to check for contractions. I was about to fall asleep and thinking, yay tomorrow I can go home, when the nurse came in with a drip tray and put a drip in my hand. She said that I had started contractions and that the medicine in the drip would stop the contractions. Dr Andre sent me an sms to say MRI all clear – yay, nothing serious!! I remember lying in the labour ward feeling so so alone, but so calm and realizing that God has this, this is out of my control.

I felt safe knowing that I was in the best hands possible. The nursing staff were so kind to me and the doctors treated me with such care. My new gynae (that I’d only met by chance) is one of the most caring people I had met. He assured me that everything was going to be fine, he even gave me his cell phone number and said I could phone him anytime, even in the middle of the night – something not many doctors do.

iPhone 2015 4675

The next morning I woke up positive, I’m going home today. Well, not quite…

Dr Andre walked in and said that due to the bleeding and possible tearing of the placenta combined with early contractions that they’ll need to do the c section within the next 48 hours. He asked me which Paed I would like to which I answered Dr Dimitri (he’s Erin’s paed and also one of the kindest people you’ll ever come across). They both spoke to me and said that her c section would be tomorrow – Saturday 14 November 2016 at 9am.

I remember looking down at my phone and having many missed calls and about 20 unread messages, so I started replying and sifting through them, just as an OCD a type personality would do ūüôā Then I got on the phone to Damien and told him the news. He was very shocked and said “I haven’t even decided on a name yet”. This was not supposed to be, it was not how we planned. But it WAS how it was supposed to be – How God planned!

I phoned my mum to tell her the news and to ask her to buy prem nappies and prem clothes. I messaged as many spiritual mentors as possible, asking them to pray for me and having this extreme sense of calm come over me. People came to visit, so many I can hardly remember who was there, but each of them said, Amy you are so so calm. It was a supernatural calm that came over me for sure, as anyone know knows me knows I AM NOT CALM.

Sam came to do my nails, as I couldn’t have a c section¬†without my nails looking good. My mum blowed dried my hair the morning of the operation. My make up wasn’t entirely as I had hoped, but then again, nothing was as planned. At least the bags were packed (as I’m organized like that ūüôā )

iPhone 2015 4678

I never slept a wink on the evening of the 13th November 2015, I’m normally a VERY good sleeper.

The morning arrived and I remember singing “This is the day that the Lord has made, we shall rejoice and be glad in it” My folks arrived first, both very excited (putting on their brave faces for me, but I knew inside they were very worried). Damien and Erin arrived 30 minutes before the operation and I could see in their eyes, neither of them slept well. Erin looked amazing in her Elsa dress from China!

iPhone 2015 4701

The nurses prepped me, doctors spoke to me and I was wheeled off. Unfortunately the spinal block never worked and I needed general anesthetic. But by God’s grace, Sienna Faith Westerman was born at 32 weeks at 9:45am on 14 November 2015! 2.065kgs and 45cm tall, she is PERFECT!!!

iPhone 2015 4729

I never got to see her on 14 November 2015, but when I saw photos of her I was immediately in love! She was sent to NICU where she spent the first 12 days of her life. More about my NICU experience in another post.

8 weeks early, yet perfect, Sienna Faith, I ADORE YOU!