Let me just take off my wrist splints…

… oh, talk dirty to me.

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Lots of things happened to my body when I had Aifric… but one thing I didn’t expect or prepare for was the possibility of getting Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) from holding and breastfeeding her.

It totally took me by surprise in January. In the same week that I discovered it would take me a lot longer to recover from our labour that I had initially thought, I started getting pins and needles in my thumb, index and middle fingers on both my hands with shooting pains in my forearms. I found it increasingly difficult to hold Aifric each day and feed her – sometimes my fingers were so numb that it felt like they were rubber. I was completely thrown… it was not our best week by any stretch of the imagination. There were a lot of tears. From me.

As I had been doing for the past 8 weeks of Aifric’s life, I turned to Dr Google for advice (I did also go to my GP, don’t worry)… and turns out there is actually not a huge amount of information about getting CTS from breastfeeding on the internet. I found this article which was helpful but apart from that, not a lot.

So I came up with various ways to cope with it and keep feeding Aifric myself. Some days are good, some days are more tricky. But I thought it might help others if I write down the things I have been doing to make life a little easier.

So for anyone else who is suffering from CTS since having a baby, and finding it hard to manage, here are the things I have done to try to navigate through it:

  • Wear wrist splints at night: when you are sleeping your wrists fall into unusual positions – I found the more I bent my wrists – and kept them bent – the worse the pins and needles, the numbness, and pain – so wearing these every night help keep my arms straight when sleeping and let my wrists rest. They are from Amazon, are great and cost £8.99 each. I got medium. When you’re sleep deprived and miserable, you’ll throw money at anything that makes your life better and these are WELL WORTH it… plus compared to the price of everything else you pay for when you have a baby, these cost pennies
  • If you have a partner, ask them to do the first lift of the day: Simon picks Aifric up in the morning whilst I take off my splints and move my wrists to get them going again. Picking Aifric up first thing was hard initially and I was worried I was going to drop her, but this way it means I can feel confident that I will be able to hold her and also Simon gets the lovely first smiles of the day – and the first nappy!
  • Don’t worry if you are on your own solo-parenting: the times that Simon was away or had to go to work early (before the two of us got up) I just set my alarm 10 minutes or so before I knew Aifric was going to wake so that I could take the splints off and move my wrists. This is if you know when your baby is going to wake up… it’s a total lottery so the times that she woke before my alarm… well, she just had to lie there for a couple of minutes… much better that she’s a bit (!) grizzly than I try to pick her up when I could drop her. Going to the toilet is a good thing to do as you are away from your crying baby for a couple of minutes and warming up your arms!
  • Pile up the cushions! I use a load of cushions to breastfeed Aifric – then use this one from John Lewis on top of the cushions and Aifric on top – so she is literally elevated, lying across me and I don’t have to use my arms at all… she’s just lounging and feeding – like a Queen – it’s incredibly decadent
  • Bring a blanket with you when you go out: keep one in your baby bag so when you’re feeding out and about you can put that on your lap and pile it up with your coat/jumper and create your own makeshift cushions to continue the decadent feeding in public
  • Limit writing long messages on WhatsApp or iMessage: the more I used my thumbs to write messages, the more uncomfortable my hands and arms felt. If you have a computer, use web WhatsApp then you can use your fingers to type your long messages to your pals (when you get a spare moment to write all those long messages… I roll my eyes at this)
  • Use your fingers to scroll through Instagram and Facebook rather than your thumbs: same as point above – seems obvious but when you’re breastfeeding, I bet you’re on your phone…!
  • Manage the way you carry your baby: I used to carry Aifric around the place in one arm – using my hand as a seat… this exacerbated the whole thing. I loved carrying her like this as she could sit there watching the world and watching what we were doing but no, carry your baby in the most comfortable way that isn’t going to have your wrist bent for a long period of time

That’s what I have been doing so far… if you have any tips or can think of any other things that would help then comment below as I would be super keen to know them!

One final thing is that it will get better: it took about a week to two weeks for the initial pain to go and now it’s just tingly and sometimes achy so I am going to continue doing the things that make it easier, and continue trying to feed Aifric myself. It’s working for now, but if it gets too much then we’ll look into other options… happy mum, happy baby and all that.

xF

*PHOTO: my sexy wrist splints

So Aifric’s in her own room…

… and I am bereft.

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It happened suddenly and without warning. I thought it would be the kind of thing we’d talk about, we’d prepare for, we’d work up to, I would talk her through it, Simon would talk me through it, we’d get there together. As a unit.

Then suddenly, on a Friday night, she went and did it all by herself. Simon and I ate spaghetti on the sofa, watching District 9 whilst Aifric slept in her Sleepyhead in her room. For a number of nights we had been trying to get her down by 8pm. She’s a social animal and only happy when hanging out with the grown-ups. The plan on this particular night was the same as before – milk, story, settle, sleep – and then wake her in a few hours to feed her again and put her down in OUR room in her Moses basket for her long sleep. Except we didn’t wake her for her final feed – not because we’re bad parents but because she was sleeping and we felt maybe she didn’t need that last feed… at some point before she’s 18 she’d have to drop that 10pm feed (the milk feed… I am sure by the time she’s 18 she’ll be doing a different kind of 10pm feed). I JUST DIDN’T REALISE IT WOULD BE THEN, ON THAT FRIDAY NIGHT.

And she stayed sleeping. We discussed what we would do – we quickly made a plan. I’d go to bed, Simon would have a few games on the Playstation, he’d see what would happen, and if she were to wake, he’d get me and I’d feed her and if not… then happy days.

Apart from… NOT HAPPY DAYS. Because now she’s left. She’s moved out of home. She’s saddled up her horse and is riding west into the sunset, silhouetted against that golden light in her tiny grobag like in an old western movie. Basically she’s gone slightly down the hall into the room next to ours and I am left standing alone at our bedroom door, forlorn and weepy. I can see it all happening before my very eyes. She’ll be drinking in a park with BOYS before we know it and then going to University and I’ll be left crying my eyes out driving back down the M1 after dropping her off.

I need to calm down, have a glass of wine and embrace the fact that our evenings are finally ours.

xF

*I still worry she’s too young (read: I am not ready for this) but Simon tells me she’s an independent woman and so who am I to argue with that?!

**PHOTO: Aifric catching all the zzzs in her own bed

20 things I’d rather do than…

… massage my episiotomy scar.

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I know I have to do it and it’d be better for me in the long run but if I actually manage to get 5 minutes free (and that’s how long I have been told to do it for each day) then there are many MANY more things I’d rather be doing. In fact, I have written them down… here…

  1. Drink a cup of tea whilst it’s hot. In fact, I’ll take luke warm
  2. Read about all the different reasons why people think Taylor Swift is a victim
  3. Eat an entire packet of Party Rings (reckon I would actually have 2 minutes spare)
  4. Lie very still and stare into space
  5. Clean out all the bottles of creams and cleansing lotions under the sink in our ensuite that I will now never have the time to use
  6. Do the same in the main bathroom
  7. Throw out any tops that don’t bring me ‘joy’
  8. Write Aifric’s thank you cards (apologies to everyone who so kindly gave us a gift and are yet to receive a thank you card… that’s everyone FYI).
  9. Look at Victoria Beckham’s Instagram stories
  10. Watch my own Instagram stories
  11. Look at houses I know I can’t afford on rightmove.co.uk
  12. Look at houses I think I can afford on rightmove.co.uk
  13. Imagine what it would be like to live in houses I found on nos 12 and 13 on rightmove.co.uk
  14. Repeat nos 12, 13 and 14 of this list on Zoopla.co.uk
  15. Look at pictures of Aifric when she was born and get teary at how ‘they grow up so fast’
  16. Read about the mean girls culture that destroyed SATC
  17. Design a phone cover with my initials on the back (SO basic)
  18. Eat an entire packet of Oreos (wonder if I can do it quicker than a packet of Party Rings…)
  19. Time self eating entire packet of Oreos. Then time self eating entire packet of Party Rings. Compare notes
  20. Write this list

So. I am running out of ‘other things I could be doing’… just going to quickly eat a packet of Oreos and Party Rings and check I haven’t missed any houses on Right Move… and then Zoopla.

xF

*PHOTO: all the things I would rather do…

Starbucks is SO basic…

… unless you’re a new mum juggling a wriggling baby, a breastfeeding apron, something to rest said baby on, nipple shields, your coffee, your phone, your buggy, your coat, your gloves, your headphones… everything you own… and then it’s bloody brilliant!

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Before I had Aifric, the quest for the perfect flat white was true and real. It was life. Some were too cold (they were never too hot). Some were weak. Some were too small. Some were just right. All were drunk at wobbly tables with wooden chairs in tiny little brunch places – where the avocado is ripe and smashed, the eggs are runny, the tap water has cucumber in it and the waiting staff have rolled up trousers (DUDE, it’s WINTER. In ENGLAND. Cover up your ankles, for the love of God).

Then along came Aifric. And things changed…

  • Experience number 1. These places don’t have changing tables. And the floor of the toilets are concrete (WTF?) so we had a little change on a concrete floor. There were screams. Ah-ha! I know what will calm this screaming, naked, pint-sized dictator. The hand-dryer! Bingo! Oh, it’s one of those hand-dryers that only work if you hold your hand directly underneath it. And it’s about half a foot away from where I’m changing Aifric. Cue the little dance of back and forth: change Aifric – she screams – stretch hand under hand-dryer – silence – continue to change Aifric – she screams – stretch hand under hand-dryer – silence… you get the picture.
  • Experience number 2. Ordered a delicious flat white. Sat in the window seat. Holding Aifric. Wearing my Vans. The epitome of cool, chilled out Mum. Hipster-chic. But it was feeding time. The table was wobbly. It wasn’t a normal height (what is that about?!). There wasn’t enough space between the rickety chair and the table to place a baby. Aifric was getting restless. I was getting sweaty. The breast-feeding apron was choking me. The nipple shields were welded together for no other reason than sheer disobedience. Aifric started to cry. I couldn’t blame her. I felt like doing the same. We collectively somehow slightly nudged the table. Only slightly, but remember – it’s wobbly because it’s a COOL TABLE. The flat white spilt. MY FLAT WHITE. We were now in danger zone. God knows how we managed it but Aifric fed, my shoulders fell down about a metre and a lovely waitress mopped up my poor flat white.
  • Experience number 3. ‘Hi, what can I get you today?’ ‘Oh, hello – please could we just have plain sourdough bread with butter? More than happy to pay the full amount for all the extra shizzle you want to serve it with, but we’d just like sourdough with butter. Thanks so much’. Waiter with rolled up trousers and a woollen jumper (you keep your upper half warm but let your ankles go cold? What even is this?!) scuttles to kitchen. Returns. ‘I am really sorry but we can only serve the sourdough toasted’. Mouth. Drops. Open. Let me tell you – there is nothing to tip a new sleep-deprived Mum over the edge right into crazy town than refusing to serve her simple bread and butter. I think my exact sarcastic words were ‘oh wow, how interesting – you buy your Sourdough already toasted?’ As a new mum I thought I’d win in these situations. Turns out chefs are probably the only group in society who do not bow down to new mums. (I hasten to mention that before asking for sourdough we were refused a toasted muffin… it’s on the menu but will ONLY be served with all the other shizzle. Because it’s a COOL MUFFIN).
  • Experience number 4. Stools. High-stools. Backless high-stools. Stools you have to take a running leap at to get on, and then have to hold your breath, close your eyes and jump back down to Earth to get off. Ever tried to balance a breast-feeding baby on one of those stools? I needn’t go into any more detail on that one.
  • Experience number 5. Pram can only just fit in the door, make it to the counter, sit at the first table. If it’s free. If it’s not, move on. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

So now we actively seek out Starbucks – we sniff out the Pike Place Roast like a Kardashian can sniff out a reality TV show opportunity. The green and white two-tailed mermaid is a beacon of hope – our Dame in shining armour.

It’s warm. It’s big. The tables are well spaced. They are sturdy. They are flat. They are straight. The chairs – well, there is a CHOICE. Armchair, normal chair, padded bench – with a BACK. The aisles are wide. There is a changing table. It’s safe, it’s comfortable, it’s welcoming. It’s always open.

And guess what… they serve a flat white.

xF

*PHOTO: Aifric being burped at a Starbucks… LOOK HOW HAPPY SHE IS

Full Disclosure.

I am Faye.

I am mum to Aifric. I am wife to Simon. I am a daughter. I am a sister. I am a friend. I am a Showbiz Correspondent. I am a daughter-in-law. I am a sister-in-law.

I love doing exercise and feeling athletic (although those days are long loooong behind me). I like croissants. I like reading. I like music. I can’t allow biscuits in the house as I have been known to eat an entire packet of Oreos in less time than it takes a kettle to boil – totally RUINING the ‘let’s have a cuppa and biscuit’ experience. I am not sure I have every truly experienced that. I really did not enjoy being pregnant. I really did not enjoy labour. But I love being a mum. I very much enjoy gin, prosecco, brunch and Taylor Swift – all of which I have been reliably informed are the four key components of being ‘basic’ – but they make me happy so I welcome and embrace ‘basic-ness’ with open arms. I do not like mushrooms. That may seem a little odd to include here but in the interest of full disclosure, I feel it’s important to be honest with you, as mushroom-chat is not welcome here and therefore you must go elsewhere for any fungi-based opinions. I had to wear a mushroom hat on my Hen Do and I am still getting over the trauma of it.

I decided to set up ‘Not-So-Showbiz Mum’ because I went from a world of red carpets, award shows and entertainment interviews to a world of toxic-mustard poos, chats about vaginas and bottoms, nipple shields and Napisan. Which was a pretty sharp gear-change. My Google searches have gone from ‘why do people think Taylor Swift is a victim?’ to ‘what does green baby poo mean’?

To be honest, I am pretty surprised that Apple / the ‘general internet people’ (??) haven’t launched an investigation into the whereabouts of my supposedly stolen phone.

I really enjoy blogs and Instagram accounts by other mums such as The Unmumsy Mum, Mother of Daughters, Dress Like A Mum and Mother Pukka. Despite the fact that you are never, ever alone when you become a Mum (EVER… I have had a fair few wees with a baby sitting on my knee), being a Mum can, ironically, feel quite lonely. I have had lots of thoughts and ideas and feelings over the last 11 weeks of being a Mum and so I have decided to put them all down in one place. You may not agree with them or you may totally get what I am saying but nevertheless, here we are.

So that’s me in a nutshell… but first and foremost, I am Faye.

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