Fibro Mama Pregnancy Diaries: Weeks 11-14

weeks 11.14In week 11 I went away for my sister’s graduation, that meant planes (always mess me up), long days and a different bed.

Surprisingly, my morning sickness flared up the day before 11 weeks and stayed up while I was away (I slept poorly and was quite sore). I was also hungry every two hours, I really got tired of figuring out what to eat.

My back was not a happy camper. The entire spine seemed mad at me! My neck was it’s normal, stiff and sore self and my low back was intense. I experienced a burning sensation along the lower back most of the day and night and needed to lie on a double folded winter duvet to be comfortable. My upper back went into spasm semi-regularly. My usual physiotherapist suggested I see a physio who specialised in women’s health.

Our nuchal scan (assessing the risk for some genetic diseases) was scheduled for week 13, as this week enabled my husband to make it. He got to see the baby for the first time.

I met the second of the team of two midwives who looked after me, filled in many forms and heard my precious baby’s heartbeat.

My energy levels did get a little better as week 12 progressed toward week 13, but I was still super tired and struggling with sleep. The nausea receded and the hunger became less of an issue, which was a big relief!

As my pregnancy would span winter and spring, and the baby would arrive in summer, I had quite a few seasons to address for my maternity wardrobe. I purchased three maternity/nursing bras, two pairs of maternity jeans, two tops with long sleeves and a coat. I intended to buy a few nursing tops in summer.

It had gotten more exciting and more calm once we made it to the second trimester.


I wrote these posts during my pregnancy so that I could share what it was like to do pregnancy with Fibromyalgia, you might also like these:

Second Trimester, The Second Time

Fibro Mama Pregnancy Diaries 4-6 Weeks

Fibro Mama Pregnancy Diaries 7-10 Weeks

Fibro Mama Pregnancy Diaries 7-10 Weeks

Week seven was when things started to turn around a little. I had been rather sick in week six and had managed to claw my way back by eating every two or three hours, going to bed early and limiting activity.fibro mama pregnancy diaries 7.10

I had lost 1.5kg in the previous week, so actually spent weeks 6-7 lighter than I had managed in years.

My favourite foods, which I devoured unreservedly, were olives, hashbrowns, eggs, salmon and cheese. I still found comfort in marmite toast and wheatbix. I also found that I didn’t get hungry, so much as starving all of a sudden!

Nu, Coop and I managed to return to semi-regular 20 minute walks which took a bit of my limited energy levels, but really helped my body. I also utilised my Pilates resistance band and did some gentle arm and leg work, focusing on stretching. My swissball was useful for pelvic circles to keep my lower back moving.

I didn’t remember sleep being so hard last time! I struggled a lot, going to bed exhausted, but taking ages to get comfortable. And waking about 5am, in pain, only dozing from then. It takes three pillows and an extra duvet under my body to help my low back.

When I could avoid doing too much, my neck was much better. Almost less of a problem than my lower back.

At week eight baby was officially considered a fetus and was about the size of a kidney bean. I met the midwife and had a dating scan. Nu came with me and was enthralled by the little peanut. He told dada that he “saw the baba on the TV”.

At week nine I experienced an increase in fatigue, which caused a day of being bed bound and then evened out again. It seemed my body takes a day or two at each surge of hormones!


I wrote these posts during my pregnancy so that I could share what it was like to do pregnancy with Fibromyalgia, you might also like these:

Second Trimester, The Second Time

Pregnancy, the First Eight Weeks – this is from my first pregnancy

Week Ten, Blessed – also from my first pregnancy

Fibro Mama Pregnancy Diaries 4-6 Weeks

I knew something was up when I wanted vegetable soup for dessert one night. Sure enough, the next morning I tested for a big fat positive.fibro mama pregnancy diaries

Baby number two was on it’s way.

I had had a low back burn for a week, this was my new, awful PMS symptom since back labour with Nu. In addition to this I was mildly nauseas and had a mad craving for meat (I’m not usually meat’s biggest fan).

Spearmint flavoured mints and ginger lozenges were really helpful for controlling the nausea in these weeks.

Continuing as I began, I had vegetable soup everyday and my regular fruit and vegetable smoothie in the morning.

Luckily, the week before I found out I had finished a work contract and had decided to give myself a rest, I was running on empty. So the following week was somewhat blissful with less neck pain.

The fatigue was something else. A constant sleepiness. Yet an inability to sleep for long periods of time (Fibromyalgia usual-ness for me) and daylight savings ruining my mornings (waking at 6, the old 7) was rough. I was in bed by 9 each night to read and then sleep early.

Meditation was delicious, 30 minutes (when I could get a break from the toddler) was really nice for the pain and fatigue.
I did this one a lot – Float Away Stress: Relaxation for Pregnancy and Childbirth

Our walks stayed at 20-30 minutes and that was quite enough.

With all the physical impacts I found it useful to stay focused on the miraculous aspects of pregnancy…the highlight of week five was that baby’s tiny heart begins to beat! I was very excited to hear it and see it!


I wrote these posts throughout my pregnancy to share what it was like to do pregnancy with Fibromyalgia. You may also find these posts helpful:

Fibro Mama Tools for Managing Early Pregnancy Symptoms

Second Trimester, The Second Time

Pregnancy, the First Eight Weeks – This is from my first pregnancy!

Nursing with Fibromyalgia: My Experience and Some Research

Like many areas of living with Fibromyalgia, I have found there to be little information on nursing with Fibromyalgia. There are a few articles, like this one on Fibromyalgia Symptoms that mentions research but provides no links, “Numerous studies have been done evaluating how fibromyalgia influences breastfeeding. These studies all indicate that it is very hard to breastfeed with fibromyalgia.”Nursing with Fibromyalgia

The Fibromyalgia Health Center on WebMD posted an article in 2004 referencing a new study about nursing with Fibromyalgia.  This study was very small, with just nine mothers included:

“All nine women felt that they were not successful in their attempts to breastfeed, and felt frustrated,” Schaefer writes. Difficulties included muscle soreness, pain, and stiffness; fatigue; a perceived shortage of breast milk; and sore nipples.”

The article lists a few tips from the study which includes good nutrition, proper rest and paying attention to where and how you are nursing.

Having had two children now, I thought I would share my experience. As with all areas of this illness, my experience may not be the same as another’s with Fibromyalgia, so my difficulties do not translate to all women with Fibromyalgia.

With both children I found nursing extremely painful, I had cracked and sore nipples from the second day cluster feeding with both babies. Both times, it took a long time for them to recover. Expressing was less painful, but still resulted in sore breasts.

The differences in situations were extreme.

With Nu, we found he was excessively windy and by week two we were going back and forward to doctors at the after hours centre. At last, at week three, we were sent to the hospital and there they found that he had pyloric stenosis – a thickened sphincter that wouldn’t let food out of the stomach to be digested, so it was forced back up and out of his mouth in projectile vomiting. After several days in hospital and a small operation, we came home and found that he doubled the amount he was taking at each feed. My supply couldn’t keep up, despite pumping three hourly the entire time he was in the hospital, my supply decreased in real numbers and relative numbers. I managed to keep him exclusively on breast milk until eight weeks. At this point whenever it was time to express, I would cry, so I knew it was time to finish up. I was just tired and sore and Nu was not a very settled baby and so cried the entire time I tried to express.

I was so relieved when parenting no longer needed to include my breasts. I am proud that I managed to give him such a good start in life, but I also wish I had given up sooner, but the pressure on mothers to breastfeed is enormous, even my expressing rather than feeding directly was seen as failure. My doctor and my Plunket Nurse were both supportive as they understood the Fibromyalgia and how hard I had tried.

With W I managed to persevere a little longer. My right breast got so sore and cracked from the second day cluster feeding that when I first tried to express, I expressed blood in the milk, it was a frightening sight! I persevered with the one side for another week before that became too sore (this guy is a rough feeder and liked to pull away with it clenched between his gums). I expressed four hourly during the day and once in the middle of the night (that was hard to leave baby sleeping after giving him a bottle and stay awake). My supply stayed static no matter what I did to try to increase it, so by week four, I was only just producing enough from both breasts for one feed. Luckily I had a lot of frozen milk from the first weeks of expressing.

This time I knew it didn’t have to be all or nothing (this is an important message for all mamas, you can mix feed!), I had more knowledge and therefore more power. I also ignored any messages of my being deficient or not trying hard enough. I managed to add in a physical feed each evening after he had spent the previous few hours having more regular bottles in his nightly cluster feed, this meant I didn’t have to worry about him not getting enough and he got some comfort from it at the end of a long day. It hurt, but swapping which breast I gave him each night helped me to cope. I worked with my midwife to reduce to a few feeds a day of my milk and add in formula for the shortfall. My plan was to give him whatever breast milk I could, for as long as I could.

As we know, plans do not always work out. Little W developed reflux and vomited my milk and got very sore. Through long weeks of trial and error we found that I could feed him directly (my measly 40 ml or so) followed immediately by a bottle of thickened formula, reducing the vomiting to spills and the gas pains greatly decreased. At seven weeks I was still managing to mix feed, with the miniscule supply I produced.

Due to the very different positions in my health and a lot more knowledge and confidence, I believe it was slightly easier the second time around. However, by 12 weeks my supply had completely dried up. I was really happy that I had been able to provide him with these vital nutrients for that long. I was also happy to not have to deal with expressing, feeding and bottles – it had begun to feel like my whole life revolved around his feeding. And at this time my life turned to revolving around his sleep, or lack of!

My tips would mirror what most nursing women are told:

  • Try to rest as much as you can
  • Try to eat as well as you can
  • Drink lots of water
  • Make yourself as comfortable as possible when you feed
  • Know that whatever you manage to give your baby is awesome and that you cannot fail. You will be a great mama whether you feed physically, by expressed breast milk or by formula. A fed baby and a happy mama are both minimum requirements. (Your well being counts as much as baby’s and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!)

I’d love to hear about your experiences with nursing with Fibromaylgia, if only so that others have something to read when they Google about it.

What Every New Mama Needs

Whether you have a chronic illness or not, there is one thing a new mama seems to need…Reassurance that it will get better.

And it will.

It may not be at six weeks, or three months, or whatever magic age you hear touted. But it will get better.IMG_20170308_110851

One day they will sleep through the night, they’ll eat by themselves, they’ll play independently.

You’re in the trenches of motherhood, knee deep in milk and poop and tears, for such a short time. One day you’ll look up and realise it’s over. It’s better.

Your baby will learn to self settle when they’re ready. They’ll get the hang of feeding. They’ll cry less.

Enjoy those smiles that light up even the darkest of sleepless days. Enjoy the soft baby skin, the chubby cheeks, the sweet wrist rolls. I am!

Fibro Mama Baby Diaries: The First Month

I fell in love the moment they put him on my chest. Despite the doctors dealing with my excessive bleeding and then stitching me up, I was lost in my son. He calmly laid on my chest and looked at me as I drank him in. fibro-mama-baby-diaries-month-one
I didn’t get that with Nu because he had been taken for some medical attention immediately.
I was blown away by these first precious moments. My boy, who I had worked so hard to meet, was here. After some time cataloguing all his fingers and toes and marvelling at this creature, we managed a full first feed. I thought things would be easier this time.
But again I found that after nearly 39 weeks of pregnancy and 32 hours of labour, breastfeeding is a real kick in the pants!
The second day cluster feeding led to a mangled nipple on one side, so I had to feed the baby from one and express from the other from day three.
It didn’t fully heal and the other side got very sore from overuse, so by week two I was expressing exclusively.
My energy levels and pain didn’t help production, so baby outgrew the amount I could produce per feed by three and a half weeks. Far from being stressed, I knew that it didn’t have to be all or nothing. I had the tools to mix feed so that he could continue to have breastmilk for as long as I could produce any.
Far from being the “easy” baby I’d hoped for after Nu and his being hospitalized for week three, W didn’t like to sleep in his Moses basket and only slept in my arms or on my husband’s chest for the first couple of weeks. By week three we did manage to get him to sleep in the basket after his last feed and until his 4am feed (when he wanted to stay with mama).
My body coped really well until both my husband and I hit the wall at three and a half weeks. Baby had a few days of extreme fussiness, hungry but gassy is not a good combination.
But I persevered with my coping mechanisms – quick meditations whenever I could, heat pack, ibuprofen, stretching and hot showers.
In addition to the Fibromyalgia, general post-birth pains and sleeplessness, I received a name for the severe low back and pelvis pain I had been experiencing: symphisis pubis disorder. Basically, my pelvis spread a little too far, probably due to the prolonged labour and having to use the stirrups. This made things difficult as I couldn’t spread my legs very far apart – no squatting, no stepping over things, keeping my legs together when getting out of bed etc. I had been so looking forward to being able to sleep on my back again, but this wasn’t possible yet. My physio suggested pelvic tilts and to see my doctor if it hadn’t gotten better by six weeks.
Nu adjusted really well to being a big brother. The sleep habits we instilled in him saved us as he slept from 7.30pm to 7am and then had a nap in the afternoon. Our constant refrain was “quieter!” As he speaks so loudly and gets very excited. He gives many kisses to baby and likes to help to feed him.
Pregnancy, labour and the first weeks seem much like rugby…You can plan all you like and utilise all the tools at your disposal, but in the end you have to put your head down and run in! I’m just super thankful for Husband and his help, because I don’t know if I could have coped without him.

Coping with a Toddler (Fibro or not!)

This post has been a long time coming. I haven’t felt like I was coping these past few months. But we’re here, so that’s winning.

Toddlers seem to have an abundance of energy that I could only dream of. If only Nu would lend me some, maybe it would be easier.

The big thing for me (on the days I’m not working) is to get him active in the morning, when I’m most able and he’s not so tired either. This way the afternoon can be a more relaxed affair.

I am slowly learning that I’ll never feel like I’m coping if I’m putting too much of my energy elsewhere (like work), so my balance needs to be kept in check.

IMG_20160101_144754

Drawing & stickers

Here’s a few tips I’ve gleaned in dealing with a toddler:

  1. Accept help – my husband takes a turn in the morning when he’s not at work, I never get back to sleep, but it’s a break. If grandparents want a visit, give them the toddler and run away!
  2. Enjoy them – this may be the sweetest age, Nu says things like “want some mama hug”.
  3. Play dough, stickers, colouring in to keep them occupied for 10 minutes.
  4. Outside – even checking the mail and watering the garden can seem exciting.
  5. Park – even if you need to drive there, the park is a great and free way to burn off toddler energy.
  6. Routine – my son is a routine boy and we have a loose but similar routine for each night, this helped when bedtime got foggy at the sleep regression.
  7. Setting -first thing, before I get him up, I set up some of his toys seductively. This may buy 10 minutes of independent play! I also swap toys around regularly.
  8. Rest when the toddler rests (if you’re home with them) – on the days I’m home I will do Yoga Nidra before anything else when he naps.
  9. Library, zoo, beach, local attractions – there are options for all energy ranges. Nu loves animals, so we’ve been to the zoo a few times.
  10. Read – when you’re super exhausted and sore, lie or sit down (surrounded by cushions if need be) and read all of their books.
  11. Movies – my guy won’t sit through anything longer than a minute, but if this diversion works for your kids then lie down immediately!
  12. Play dates – another energetic creature can occupy yours! Mamas can chat. Win-win.
  13. Pick your battles. Save your energy for the ones that count.
  14. Consistency, set boundaries and always stick to them.
  15. Don’t forget yourself, keep experimenting and keep practicing your wellness techniques. 

The last few are the result of a thread on my Facebook page, some amazing fibro mamas gave me some advice:

17. Educational games on a tablet – lie down and rest while they sit with you and play.
18. Have a bath together – get some toys or bath paints and let them play while you enjoy the warmth on your muscles.
19. Create a toddler-proof room that you can let them free and self-direct their play, sit back and enjoy their gorgeousness (do you do that? I’ve been known to stare at my boy and just grin lol)
20. Don’t always tidy up. The toys will be back out! Sometimes let the laundry and dishes be.
21. Take time out. Go for a coffee alone. Or a massage. Or a walk. Just go!PhotoGrid_1453879893082

Mostly I think having a toddler is a bit like a newborn, in that you might need to just put your head down and push through, however there are definitely more tools in the arsenal to keep them occupied now.

Have you got anything to add to the list?

Some Fun with the A to Z Survey

I found this on Counting My Spoons, who in turn found it on another blog; this survey seems to have done the rounds a fair way around the Internet world. So, just for fun, I have filled it in. 
 
A to Z Survey

A – Age: 29
B – Biggest Fear: Hopelessness and that my symptoms would worsen to the point that I couldn’t even attempt a “normal” life.
C – Current Time: 11.30am
D – Drink You Had Last: A coffee using my Nespresso machine with Chai spices thrown in.
E – Easiest Person To Talk To: My husband and the middle of my brothers.
F – Favorite Song: If That’s What it Takes by Celine Dion.
G – Grossest Memory: Fresh in my mind! My son and I are down with a bad cold at the moment and he keeps coughing until he gags. A few nights ago he actually vomited, over me, him, his cot and the floor. I took off his clothes, my dressing gown and then he puked again. Off went the last of the clothes and we had to clean up orange/red (he’d had pasta and sauce for dinner) vomit with a very upset baby.
H – Hometown: Born in Hamilton, New Zealand. We moved down to Hastings and then to Wellington for 20 years and then up to Auckland. I consider Wellington my hometown, despite never wanting to live there again!
I – In Love With: My baby boy. My husband. My dog.

J – Jealous Of: People who can go to sleep and wake up refreshed.
K – Kindest Person You Know: My husband.
L – Longest Relationship: My husband and I have been together for two years, this is the only relationship that counts, it’s forever 🙂
M – Middle Name: Nicole.
N – Number of Siblings: Four!
O – One Wish: To be healed of the pain and fatigue.
P – Person You Spoke To On The Phone Last: My mum.
Q – Question You’re Always Asked: “You don’t work full time?” Mostly by people who have no idea that chronic pain and fatigue make living tough enough, but to do it and be a good mama is even harder, then to add more than 20 hours of work – no thanks!
R – Reason To Smile: My baby. Even thinking about him makes me grin.
S – Song You Last Sang: “Here I am, Lord” the last of the four songs I always sing to my son when he is getting ready to go to sleep.
T – Time You Woke Up: 7.30am
U – Underwear Color: Black.
V – Vacation Destination: Doable and planned: Tauranga, New Zealand (my nana is there). Potentially doable but on the long-term list: Europe. Most dreamed of: Somewhere warm with a spa!
W – Worst Habit: Pushing on when I know my energy levels are gone and I’ll pay for it later.
X – X-Rays You’ve Had: Last, my back. Previously, pretty much everywhere, mostly my neck and back though.
Y – Your Favorite Food: Burgers. Mmm burger…
Z – Zodiac Sign: Libra, but I’m not really into that stuff.

Spirited Toddler

My boy is 15 months old! I’m shocked at his growth. It seems like he is mastering new skills daily. He will babble to himself while turning the pages of his favourite books. He gets his shoes when we ask for them. His eating has finally gotten better, he is eating a lot more and more widely.

For better or for worse, there have been more than a few alarming signs that he’s turned into a high-spirited toddler:

*The plank when we try to put him into the pushchair or carseat
*The tantrum when he doesn’t get something he wants
*Only one nap
*Feeding time resembles the zoo more than a civilised dinner table – there is food on the floor, wall, table and down my sleeve
*He has more energy than me
*Toys hold appeal for about 30 seconds
*He gets bored when we go for a walk with the pushchair
*He is super excited by couch cushions on the floor

Here are some things I’ve found to help cope with a (super) busy toddler:

*Encourage physical activity – let them walk outside, take them to a park or find a cafe with a play area suitable for younger toddlers. My guy loves it when I put the couch cushions on the floor, he will throw himself on them and roll around happily.
*Take multiple things to keep hands busy when you have to go out (walks, lunches, supermarket) from food to toys.
*Preempt bad behaviour -notice what sets them off and avoid it, plan ahead and don’t give in to tantrums, even in public (we had a situation in the chemist but I held my ground and let people look while I strapped him in and distracted him).
*Have a safe zone, our lounge is almost “no free”, he has plenty of toys and there is little damage he can do while I go to the bathroom (if he doesn’t come too!) etc.
*Sensory play can be helpful. Water, bubbles, squishy balls, anything to utilise the senses.
*Take rest for yourself. It’s tempting (read: I always do) to squish the chores or things you need to get done into that blessed one hour or so of nap, but you’ll feel nicer if you rest. I also like to spend some time on the floor, letting him play around, while I read – mental time out.

Have you got anything to add to this list?

Wading Through the Options

Everyday we are faced with multiple choices. For people with limited energy (fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome and other fatigue inducing illnesses), these can take their toll.

I am faced with the best choice for work going forward. Balancing many factors, with my baby and my wellness being top, isn’t easy.

I live my life doing innumerable cost to benefit calculations. Is my energy worth that outcome? Sometimes it’s pure forecast, can I cope with that based on what I know?

They don’t need to be complex. Just a simple check in with yourself.

Do I think this is worth my energy? Is it making me feel well or less well?

Work has taken on a new definition since I went back as a mama. It’s the place I go when I’m not sick and I’ve juggled my baby’s sick care arrangements.

In two and a half months we have both had a bad cold, he’s had a gastro bug and we’ve both been hit badly by a major virus. I’ve had three days off work, my husband’s had the same and my mother and father in law have done a day each.

After much deliberation, I’ve decided to pursue some further study (by correspondence) and try contracting again. This way I have complete flexibility over my working hours while my little guy is young and I keep gently building my career.

There’s many other times when a check in or cost/benefit analysis can be beneficial.

For socialising it can be helpful to factor in social benefits (distraction and connection) to yourself, benefits to your partner (they get to have some fun) and your energy needs. Perhaps there could be a compromise.

It can be hard to ensure you weigh the options properly (scared of pain, seeing past the exhaustion, negative emotions). This will require some soul searching and some experimenting. But this approach can be a part of your patchwork quilt to living well.

I want to be wise in my choices (so as not to cause extra pain and fatigue) but I don’t want to miss out on life. Particularly when it comes to my son. So my weighting is usually bias in his direction, but that’s my conscious choice.

Work will always come second to him. And both will always be factored in my cost/benefit analysis.