Predicting the Sex

image
According to the Chinese Roslyn was a girl. So was sandy though…

When we had Sandy we didn’t find out the sex. We went the whole pregnancy with people assuring us it was a boy. In fact, they were so vociferous those early assertions that I didn’t really feel I “just knew” what sex it was. But I did say boy nonetheless, even though I wasn’t sure, and indeed he was. As I have said before, when the baby was placed on my chest I asked “what is he?”, that was how set in stone it was that he was a boy.

With Roslyn we did find out the sex. The main reason I said I wanted to find out was to see what our family would be, knowing it was the last child we planned to have. Honestly though, I’ve never felt so sure of anything in feeling she was a girl. And this was long before the scans told me, actually, it was before I had even confirmed I was pregnant. We took a test I knew was probably too early and got a negative result. That night I lay in bed and said to stuart “I just FEEL pregnant, and I think it’s a girl”. I spent the rest of the pregnancy (until we confirmed with the scan) totally convinced it was a girl, and saying so to people but not as strongly as I felt it, lest I look a fool! We decided to find out the sex at the 20 week scan and were told it was most likely a girl but she was lying up against the placenta so the sonographer couldn’t tell 100%. We confirmed her sex at the 30 weeks with a 3d scan. When she came out we didn’t need to check and were more concerned with how like Sandy she looked!

Anyway, I’ve been looking forward to doing a post on sex predictors. Those old wives tales which claim to tell you if you are having a boy or a girl. Having had one of each I can do a little anecdotal and totally inaccurate research into their reliability 😉

First things first, morning sickness. It’s said that morning sickness is little or none for a boy, and bad for a girl. For me this is kind of true as Sandy’s morning sickness was nothing compared to the hell of Roslyn’s. Mind you know, I wouldn’t describe sandy’s as “little or none”, just horrible compared to Roslyn’s dire. I do think there is a genetic aspect to this though as my mum had horrific morning sickness with me and not too bad with my brother, despite me being her first child. Might just be the way we carry them!

Speaking of carrying them, there is the whole carrying high or low adage. However I don’t think I have the ability to carry high or low just to carry in the only darn space available in my tiny torso. I’m not so tall you see. However there is also the all out front being a boy, carrying around being a girl thing, which was true for me and again my mum before me!

Here’s one that didn’t work though. Craving sugar is meant to mean a girl and salty a boy. I’m a right sugar fiend (read addict) and I lost it through both pregnancies. So no difference there.

Another that is accurate for me: acne. Girls are meant to “steal their mothers beauty” and result in a spotty preggo, whereas boys don’t. True that as my skin was better than ever with sandy and hellish with Roslyn.

Apparently if you are having a boy you get much more clumsy, and with a girl you are graceful. That’s a pile of rubbish because I was walking into walls and spontaneously ungripping my hands all the way through both my pregnancies.

There is one about hairy legs but I will admit to basically never shaving them when pregnant so it’s a moot point.

Here’s another that fails me. Round face for a girl, long face for a boy. I had a dinner plate face with sandy, not so much with Roslyn. I think that was down to swelling though.

So, in conclusion, the researcher finds that some of these were accurate and some weren’t, how useful! I would advise mothers to be to use them for a laugh and then just to trust their gut.

I do want to mention how my pregnancies differed though, and in what ways I felt this might have anything to do with the sex. Firstly the morning sickness being so much worse was a big one. It wasn’t just that it was worse it is that it was different, harder to cope with. Secondly, my emotional state. I was far more emotional and up and down with Roslyn, and a lot more depressed feeling on days, especially to do with the woes of pregnancy. I seemed to not be able to handle all the crap stuff quite so well this time. I did carry wider with Roslyn but what was most noticeable was that I gained far less weight in water. My swelling wasn’t nearly so bad and I had no where near the dinner plate face I had with sandy! And, as I said, my gut. I just knew it was a girl and I knew it was different. That’s all I can really say!

It would be a really really tiny (insignificant) silver lining to being pregnant with a third to be able to compare again, having one of each already, but honestly? I think I will just take my researcher lab coat and goggles off now and go back to the nursing tops and raybans.

Advertisements

Four Generations of Women

IMG_6579

On Monday my Grandmother met her great granddaughter for the first time.

IMG_6581

She shares a name with her (Constance is her first name, Roslyn’s middle name).

IMG_6582

And it was a good day for my Gran. She watched Sandy running and she loved Roslyn, barely wanting to give her back after her cuddle.

IMG_6583

IMG_6584

IMG_6586

My mum was there and my aunts joined us too. So here we all are for a group shot.

IMG_6587

Four generations of women in one room. Perfect.

IMG_6588

I won’t add much more here as I have another post planned but here are a few shots of me and my daughter this week. I’ve been spending as much time as possible just inhaling her while she’s still so small…

IMG_6590

IMG_6595

IMG_6602

IMG_6604

Homebirth: my lowdown

When I first decided to have a homebirth there weren’t many worries which flooded my mind. I suppose it was because all my worries centred on what happened with Sandy’s birth, and so a natural, pain free home birth didn’t seem worrisome to me I’m the slightest. Saying that, I had considered homebirth first time round and decided against it. I didn’t decide against it because I thought it would be dangerous or that I couldn’t do it; more because I only came to the idea in the third trimester by which point I felt it was too late to change my birth plan. However there were certain issues surrounding homebirth which I know would have been concerns for me first time round. So I will use these concerns to evaluate my homebirth and hopefully give insight into the event for anyone interested in it as a birth choice in the future.

Safety

You can do research into homebirth to find that it is no less safe than birth in a hospital. These statistics refer to mortality and physical health issues and are quite reassuring. From a personal point of view though I felt secure in the fact that I was only a few miles from the hospital, should anything drastic happen. A lot of people I have discussed homebirth with who have already had a baby have spoken of not wanting a homebirth for their subsequent babies because of issues which occurred in their first birth which required things only the hospital could provide. This includes distress for the baby resulting in emergency c sections. They express a lot of thankfulness at being in hospital already so nothing bad happened. However, there are two things to add to this. Firstly that in the course of a homebirth the midwives take precautions to ensure that at the first signs of anything being worrying a transfer would be made. Thus while a bad situation may warrant the necessity of a hospital, being at home doesn’t necessarily mean that the point at which the emergency action needs taken the labouring woman would still be at home. Secondly homebirths by their nature involve little or no intervention. Statistics show that being in hospital as opposed to a midwife led unit or a homebirth increase intervention. What’s more, intervention results in more intervention and often medical events such as c sections evolve from situations in which intervention has made them necessary. For example, whereas at home a mother may progress in labour well (with familiarly surroundings allowing this) at hospital the same mother may fail to progress due to the environment. She may choose to have an epidural which is then proven to increase the necessity of further intervention to get the baby out. Thus if an emergency section was required it may leave the mother feeling as though it was a good job she wasn’t labouring at home, when she needed an emergency section, when in actuality her labour may not have followed that path had it been at home. I firmly believe the lack of intervention of any sort in my labour, and indeed my antenatal care (including vaginal examinations and sweeps) allowed for a simple birthing at home, a birth which was safe, and safe guarded by my midwife. What’s more, avoiding the potential for intervention also avoids the potential for a lot of birth trauma which often stems from not being in control of the situation and not being listened to. Having a homebirth certainly lowers the risk of both of these issues. It’s important to remember that a healthy baby is not the only necessary outcome of a positive birth experience, the health of the mother is important too, and that includes mental wellbeing.

Pain relief

As I touched on, pain relieve is a big choice in labour. I remember at NCT classes first time around in depth discussions of the choices, the pros and cons of each. It’s totally understandable that some women choose certain forms of pain relief and that is totally fine! However, a concern for someone considering homebirth may well be that they will want pain relief that cannot be provided at home. The first thing to mention is that, even if that is a concern, it does not negate homebirth as an option. Just because a woman MAY want pain releif, doesn’t mean she shouldn’t see how she does without at home, with the option of a transfer later.

Secondly, what I found was that not having the option was, rather than stressful, actually empowering. I remember being in transition and telling Allison and Stuart I couldn’t do it and that I wanted to go to sleep, but not once did I demand the drugs, nor did I demand to be transferred. And it wasn’t because it wasn’t sore (believe me it was!) it was because it didn’t occur to me that it was an option. By which I mean although I knew it was still there in existence, there wasn’t any gas and air or pethidine in my house and of course an epidural only occurs in hospital, so I didn’t hanker after things that weren’t there. I think if I had been in too much pain I would have asked but for me anyway labour pain isn’t too sore, it is just at the very limit of soreness that you can handle, and no more, that’s the beauty of it. I liken it to the fact (for me) that you are less likely to eat unhealthy food if it’s not in the house. If someone waves a big bar of chocolate under your nose of course you will want it much more than you want the bar of chocolate you know is in the shop up the road. So I had an entirely pain relief free labour, not because I was dead set on it, but because that’s the way it went down, and I feel that it was naturally meant to do that. I mean, I was going to take paracetamol at one point but I started feeling nauseous, so even then my body declined!

Practicalities

This was perhaps the biggest concern for us. Not that we wouldn’t manage, just to get it all prepared in time. The most important thing was the pool, and as I wrote about in my birth story, it was only just ready in time. I recommend keeping it inflated after your trial run so that’s one less thing to do. I also recommend having an extra pool technician available. My dad was here to look after sandy should he wake but proved much more useful on pool duty topping up the hose efforts with buckets of water. If it wasn’t for him we wouldn’t have had it in time!

As for other items needed there was a lot of stuff I never used. The biggies are shower curtains or tarps to protect furnishings, and towels, lots and lots of towels. As for clear up it really wasn’t bad, Allison and carrie took care of most things. The only real clean up needing done was to wash the many dirty towels (of course you can chuck them if desired though a 90 degree wash will clean them fine) and deal with the pool. Stuart was stunned at the wonders of physics as he siphoned the pool successfully. Ok the contents of the pool aren’t exactly delightful after the birth but it just drained into our garden. He then only had to remove and throw away the liner of the pool and deflate it. Job done. Our living room was back to normal the same day.

The actual experience

I’m so proud of myself for having had a natural, pain relief free, home water birth. I know there are a lot of people who would feel I was bragging but I’m not. Well, I am, but only in comparison to my first birth. For me this was a healing experience, righting the wrongs of the first labour I endured. How do I characterise my home birth? Firstly, fast. Partly this is because it was a second baby but I also attribute the easy progression through the stages of labour and my text book birth to the familiar surroundings and people involved. Secondly, at ease. There was a distinct lack of fear in this labour. Not only a lack of fear at the process and success of the labour but also at anything bad which happened first time around occurring again. This I put down to having a midwife who maintained a safe environment for me whilst knowing my wishes, and primarily not being in hospital where I change from in control of the situation (it being my home!) to a guest who is told what to do and where to go. Finally, normal. My birth was so normal. It was entirely unremarkable. Not only that but the immediate aftermath too. I had a shower in my own bathroom and got into bed with my husband and newborn while my son slept next door. There’s nothing more normal than that.

Recovery (both of us)

I have recovered so much quicker this time around. Granted I had an epidural last time and was in an uncomfortable postnatal ward for five days so it makes sense but I was able to avoid stitches due to the continuity of care my midwife provides and my tear has healed so fast. The relationship with my baby has been perfect and and she has been a feeding champ. I believe the straightforward birth allowed her to come out as nature intended, aware and ready to form a great bond with me and feed well. Allison was amazed to see changing poo from her at 33hours old and her cord came off quickly too. The feeding also facilitated my recovery. The after pains were bad for a reason as my uterus contracted back down far more efficiently and quickly than with Sandy. I’m three weeks postnatal now and feel almost back to myself, it’s fabulous.

So in conclusion I would advise anyone to look at home birth. I didn’t know if I could do it and warned myself that I may still end up in hospital. On the other hand I succeeded not because I was ridiculously steadfast in my expectations which is good. I think I managed to do a good job of having a firm birth plan but an open mind about its being fulfilled. I’d recommend that even those unsure but interested aim for a homebirth in the knowledge they can transfer to hospital at any point. No-one knows how any particular woman will manage any particular labour. They may well surprise themselves. It would be disappointing to think women were having their babies in hospital just in case a very unlikely complication occurred, or merely because they weren’t sure they could birth at home successfully. It’d be better for them to aim for a home birth with the option to go to hospital. And as for those mothers who are set on a home birth, good luck. You will do amazingly well whatever happens, trust your body and your baby, you were made to do this.

If anyone has any questions about home birth or independent midwifery please just let me know, leave a message or contact me through the link at the top of the page.

Flying Solo

What’s this? A post full of Instagram pictures? Could the baby be sleeping on me by any chance, rendering me unable to get photos from the dslr uploaded? Why yes. Yes she is.

image

This picture was taken last night after ten minutes of chatting and walking with her. It’s funny how mighty I can feel when she falls asleep. I was so proud of myself to stuart and we got dinner up and put the TV on and then oh, some wind, of course she’s awake again, cue another two hours of fighting sleep and squirming on and off the boob until she finally gives up and zonks out. SIGH.

image

I’m not going to lie, it’s still hard going this newborn business. It’s much less stressful this time, granted. I’m not suffering from any form of mental anguish though so that helps. But it’s still hard. It’s hard to spend an hour settling her (involving nonstop movement, frantic crying and puking from over feeding) only to get 20 measly minutes of terribly light sleep and then have to repeat the whole fandango again until that early to bed chilled evening has evaporated and it’s 10pm and oh my god just go to sleep so I can too.

image

Breathe. Breathe. At least she does sleep when she finally goes down unlike sandy.

Mind you, she then proceeds to make dinosaur noises all. Night. Long. And no, you can’t sleep through them. MORE SIGH.

image

I guess that’s what it’s all about though. The newborn malarkey. I keep on thinking I should be treasuring these moments more. And then I sniff her head and smell that smell and look at her little smooshy face and know I am treasuring it. That’s important because this is the last time for me, but I’m still feeling mightily ok with that. The silver lining of it all going so fast is that the hard stuff passes quicker too. The fussy evenings and the cluster feeding, it won’t always be there.

image

So we’ve had two whole days just the three of us now.

Highlights:

– Roslyn sleeping in her chair while I literally blitzed the house like a headless chicken
– Sandy being a champ and going down for his nap while she slept in her sling, even though it meant a rather awkward dropping of his perfect body into the cot while I tried not to bash the baby’s head off the rails.
– Only one crying baby in the car scenario, quickly fixed by some slip road hard shoulder in car feeding with the hazards on. Oh my the juggling we’ve done.

Lowlights
– Every single time my poor boy needs a cuddle and I’ve got a baby on my boob or strapped to my chest and he puts his lovely arms out to me and sees he can’t quite get those close neck cuddles we both want. It’s hard.

In fact, never mind the lowlights, there is only one, and that’s having to split myself between the pair of them.

image

I resent being unable to give my all to Sandy. I resent her inability to settle without a feed, even when she’s full, and that sandy wants me and has to put up with just a part of me. Yesterday I was feeding her lying down and he lay on my legs and put his head on my thigh and took my hand and put it in his because he knew that was all he could get of me. I hate that he has to compromise, he’s just so little to be so reasonable.

image

And I hate that I can’t dedicate myself to the newborn cause again. I can’t let it consume me like before. I can’t just sit on the couch with her all day and feed and hug and stare. I’m constantly fobbing her off on stuart, family, visitors, hoping she won’t need fed for ten minutes so I can shower or stick on a washing or feed sandy.

image

So yeah, I’m not going to lie, it’s tough. Ok the house is tidy(ish) and the “all fed and none dead” motto is upheld and my teeth are brushed so on the surface of it we look like a pretty together threesome. We are managing well, practically. But we are still adjusting emotionally and it is a definite work in progress. Bear with us!

Newborn survival: week 2

IMG_6297

IMG_6306

Thank god for the sling.

IMG_6313

IMG_6327

I mean it. What would I be doing without it? We are in the first four weeks here. I have a little lady who does not like to be put down. Seriously, she can be out for the count and ever so gently moved to a perfectly prepared cot/reclined seat/uber comfy and supportive beanbag and within a minute she’s cottoned on. Why can’t I hear mummy’s heartbeat? I imagine she says. Why can’t I feel her body heat? And she knows her milk supply isn’t close and oh no, no chance I’m going to settle here then. Even if she’s awake and fully fed there’s no way she wants to chill out anywhere but, well my chest. The car seat she tolerates, when it’s moving. Only then, and I think she knows it’s essential travel and then it stops moving and boom! Get me out of here she yells.

IMG_6335

It’s all good. It’s all normal. I hold her, I love to hold her little squishy body. If I had the choice I would hold her all day, just sit with her in my arms. But alas alack little dear, you aren’t the only squishy body I’ve known. There’s a little less squishy one I am betrothed to already, and he needs me too.

IMG_6336

So, I repeat, thank god for the sling.

IMG_6339

In other news Sandy has not been himself. That’s actually a major understatement. He’s been so different. Everyone keeps telling me it’s normal, to be expected, that he will adjust. But I don’t want him to adjust. It breaks my heart that this thing he didn’t ask for demands him to alter himself before we alter ourselves.

IMG_6359

But it has happened and it’s breaking my heart to see him become a different boy. He won’t be the same boy he was before, and that can’t be helped, but it’s a horrible loss. Or it seems that way at the moment. Maybe I will look back on it and call it an evolution but right now it feels as though the old Sandy, the ‘mummy and Sandy’ Sandy, is gone. It hurts that I caused that.

IMG_6376

He bit my toe. Then he laughed. He has hit a few times. He does something bad, laughs, continues. We tell him off and he hits himself on the head. I hate this negative attention seeking. I hate that we can’t give him enough attention to require him to not to act out like this. Seeing him resorting to it? That hurts too.

IMG_6392

We’ve been trying to treat him as kindly as possible. He’s been so sensitive and emotional. I try to explain things to him and to give him all I can. It’s tough going. I just hope we can ease him through with as much care as possible.

IMG_6393

IMG_6402

IMG_6406

As for this one? We are doing ok. She sleeps well, but is often hard to get to sleep. The last few nights have become a bit traumatic, feeding til she pukes, then feeding some more. Eventually settling on stuart for half an hour before repeating the whole puke cycle. It lasts a few hours. When she does sleep she’s amazing. I’m initiating operation dummy. She doesn’t seem able to comfort suck without intaking a lot of milk.

IMG_6407

IMG_6408

IMG_6428

We’ve done a lot of at home things. Garden times, trying to keep sandy entertained. I think this has contributed to him feeling so out of sorts. That and Stuart being off, not that he hasn’t enjoyed him being here, but it’s unusual, you know?

IMG_6439

IMG_6447

IMG_6457

IMG_6463

IMG_6468

Stuart is back at work now. We survived our first day just the three of us too. Right now I’m sat here in my third hour of trying to get Roslyn to sleep longer than ten minutes. It’s exhausting. So enjoy some pictures and wish me luck…

IMG_6473

IMG_6476

IMG_6477

IMG_6478

IMG_6479

IMG_6483

IMG_6485

IMG_6492

IMG_6498

IMG_6500

IMG_6509

IMG_6515

IMG_6528

IMG_6535

IMG_6550

IMG_6558

IMG_6560

IMG_6565

Roslyn Constance: Birth Story

I was so impatient this time around. That’s what comes from a combination of knowing what’s coming and having your first arrive at 38 weeks. At 35 weeks I was texting my midwife, Allison, of period feelings, stabby cervix pains, backache. It came to nothing of course. As I neared my due date I felt nothing. I felt like the most unlaboury pregnant woman in the world. The due date passed.

Funnily enough I was due at the same time as many other people I know, or know of. Two bloggers I follow, two Internet friends, and my friend Jill who I met at NCT classes when I was expecting Sandy. She’d been due the same week as me then and was due a week after me now. The bloggers went first and then the internet friends. Nothing happened to me. On Sunday I was 40+2 and miserable. I felt sick. And emotional, so emotional. My skin had been dire for weeks and it had suddenly cleared up. The next day I felt normal again. On Tuesday 6th May I awoke to a text from Jill who had birthed her second son that morning at 39+ weeks. Now it was just me left and I felt nothing.

tumblr_n557shoQe31qcjh8ho1_400

I put Sandy down for his nap that day and planned a trip to IKEA with him that afternoon, for meatballs. It’s one of my happy places. I read my book and rested and felt quite at ease. As we drove towards the motorway that afternoon I felt a tightening. I welcomed it, a Braxton hicks contraction, at least signs of some form of preparation. I noted the time on the clock on my dashboard. 2:34pm.

I was worried of going too far overdue. Induction was the root of all evil in my mind. Of course I knew if I got to 42 weeks I didn’t have to say yes to anything, we could wait and see, and of course that’s what my logical mind would have done. But as much as I was afraid of the induction process by now I was more afraid of my lack of patience. Here I was at 40+4 and so far beyond happy about still being pregnant that I had no doubts that the offer of a fool proof entrance to labour, and thus the end of nine months of being pregnant, would entice me. It would shimmer and shine to me and I could see myself as a magpie, unable to avert my gaze. As it was though it never came to that. It is actually kind of silly to think of that situation. If I went that overdue I would in actuality have probably been fine with it, and felt as I did before my due date. My baby knew when to come, and though I didn’t know she was coming that day I shouldn’t have needed to worry.

tumblr_n557y8zTuD1qcjh8ho1_400

As Sandy and I drove to IKEA I felt calm and noted with interest the return of these tightenings between every five and fifteen minutes. They weren’t sore at all, just, well, tight. Like someone wrapping your belly in a giant elastic and pulling it. I embraced the feeling. We got to IKEA and Sandy climbed the stairs like a big boy, holding both my hands. He pushed the tray trolley around the queue dividers and sat on my hip as we took our meatballs to the till. He picked out my drink (fizzy apple) and I his (fruit smoothie) and we ate. He scooped the mashed potato himself and I ate the meatballs he didn’t want and I realised he wasn’t a baby anymore; a realisation I’d been making daily for weeks by then. I’d expected the contractions to have gone now. At 35 weeks what aches I’d had were confined to the car. One part of me wanted to go back and drive and drive and drive. But I didn’t. I felt a touch of serenity enter me. How very odd, I don’t seem to be a serene person in the slightest. Sandy ate his strawberry tart. We put the trays away. He freaked out in the toilets.

tumblr_n557varZvo1qcjh8ho1_400

I maintain now that IKEA brought on my labour. It’s a place that I love. I know a lot of people find it stressful – my husband included- but I relish it. The show area upstairs where you see the made up rooms and decorated spaces, plain wooden things painted and ideas flourishing. How I would love to work there, as the person setting up these spaces. Sandy ran around the kids bit, drawing on broads, sitting on seats, playing with abacuses and dipping in and out of play tents. I looked for a duvet cover for him with cars on, but there wasn’t one. He found his favourite mock bedroom and drove the cars down the ramp on the garage. I sat on the little toddler bed and felt uncomfortable with gas and tightenings. I began to consider it could mean something.

tumblr_n55onqUFcV1qcjh8ho1_400

The last time I was at IKEA it was just me and my brother. He came across a toy badger wearing pyjamas and demanded we buy it for Sandy. By the time we got to the check out far away he wanted one for himself too. I went back up and got it for him. There had only been two of them. There were baskets filled with other soft characters, but only two badgers, sitting at a kids table display on the wall. We bought them both. Sandy’s is called Boris. On one antenatal visit Allison came upstairs to see Sandy as he got up from nap time and he offered her Boris; she was quite taken. So as I began early labour in the midst of the children’s department of IKEA I searched for a badger for her, a sort of in joke, mostly a thank you. We only found bears wearing waistcoats, but it worked. In the end that’s all we ended up buying and we left the shop not long after. IKEA is a fabulous place to be when you don’t need to get anything, and what’s more it’s a brilliant adventure for a toddler. We went to the play park outside and Sandy blew me away, and a grandmother who was there with her three charges, with his ability to climb the rope ladder to the slide (a feat that really was suited at children far older than him). I sat on the bench, laden with my bump, and corrected his mistakes with my voice. He was careful, I was proud. The grandmother was taken with him and the oldest of her grandchildren helped Sandy as he climbed. She didn’t ask about my bump, and I was grateful.

tumblr_n55s971sBI1qcjh8ho1_400

I then realised it was nearing five o’clock and text Stuart that we would be home late. As we drove I contracted again and the car did bring them closer. We were stuck in traffic on the m8, an accident, but mostly rubber necking, it being on the hard shoulder as we passed. I took the M74 anyway and cut back up to the m8 at ballieston, cheekily pulling in at the last minute. I figured if I was ever allowed it was now, as I laboured in the car. As each tightening came I focused on welcoming them. I relaxed myself and tried to embrace the pain, I encouraged them, told them to do their job. As Allison texted me later, each one was bringing the baby closer.

By the time we got home I told stuart I was still contracting and he was quite excited, though not convinced, and neither was I. Was it early labour? Yes, I was fairly certain. Would stuart be off work the next day? Of that I was dubious. I was under 3cm dilated with Sandy for days. At 6pm I text Allison a heads up message and she told me later she had gone to bed at 7 just incase. She told me to carb load. We put Sandy to bed and as we read his story and I kissed his soft temple I did wonder if it was the last time we would do that to him as a single child. Dinner was pasta as ordered and by the time it was eaten and I was going to try and sleep the contractions were getting painful enough that I couldn’t doze off. I sent stuart to the couch to catch some sleep and told him I would get him if I needed him. That was 8:30pm, when in my notes it says my labour officially started.

I watched some David Attenborough documentary on DVD and didn’t concentrate on it. I tried to lay down and conserve energy but couldn’t. Much like Sandy’s labour, I stood through nearly every contraction, swaying, breathing. By 10pm I roused Stuart and told him I needed him. Much like sandy’s labour he rubbed my back through each contraction. I fished out the baby books and wrote in them. Stuart managed to write in Sandy’s but not the new baby’s as by that time he was monitoring contractions. With sandy there are reels and reels of paper with timings, in my dad’s hand. This time there is barely a sheet of a4, in Stuarts hand. They were regular. Sometime around then sandy woke. Stuart got him milk and I hugged him in the dark of his bedroom before he was put back down. I told him he’d be a big brother soon. I smelled his hair, felt his cushy hands gripping round my neck. It seemed unreal.

tumblr_n563b5nzti1qcjh8ho1_400

By the time 11pm came I made the uneasy decision to call my Dad over. I hadn’t been convinced but suddenly I wanted him. He was to look after sandy in case he awoke. I felt strongly the need to get sandy looked after because I was no longer able to do so myself and stuart needed not to be torn between the two of us. I was establishing. I had my show. Things ramped up, and the memories start to blur a little.

Stuart started getting the birth pool ready. It was still blown up from the trial run which was a good decision otherwise it wouldn’t have been ready in time. As it was it barely was ready anyway. He darted between making room for it’s being taken downstairs and helping me through contractions. They were getting sorer. That hour passed quickly. I was upstairs swaying, in the dark of the bedroom, breathing, and writing down timings until my brain found it too much of a burden to keep doing so. Stuart had gotten the pool up in the living room, moved the furniture out the way, laid down sheets and gotten Alison’s kit in there. He lit two candles; they were still burning by the time it was daylight the next morning. Something happened then at the back of 12 and I started to feel sick. I wished I hadn’t eaten my dinner though in hindsight it’s a good thing I had energy wise. I was shaking. I contracted in the dark in our en suite bathroom sure I was going to vomit. I didn’t. I had felt like this before, in sandy’s labour, when things were getting too hard to cope with. I wish I’d known then what was happening, I with I’d just stayed at home and things might have gone down the way they did this time. Ah, hindsight, how we all hate you. I called Allison and she listened to me down the phone. She asked did I want her to come, I told her I didn’t know, that I was scared that they would tail off. She offered to call back in half an hour. I said I didn’t know what she should do. She listened a few more minutes, then said she was coming over. She told me the shaking and sick feeling was me having established. I couldn’t believe that for some reason. She left at half 12 and arrived at just after 1am. Between the call and her arrival my dad came. Stuart and he worked tirelessly on the pool. Sandy slept. I swayed and told them it wasn’t going to be ready in time as the water trickled into the massive space, ridiculously slowly. Dad and stuart spoke about the pool and I shushed them as I started a contraction. Dad whispered instead and I yelled. How very typical of a labouring woman. Things were getting much more intense. Stuart needed to rub my back during contractions. Counter pressure. He did.

When Allison arrived the first thing she did was tell me how brilliant my t shirt was. For my birthday last year (when I was in early pregnancy) stuart presented me with tickets to see Yes, on my due date. He purchased them before we found out. It was one of the first things I told Allison at our initial meeting, that we weren’t sure if I’d be making it to that gig. As it turned out our baby let me go and danced through the whole thing in utero. Stuart bought me a t shirt from the merch stall, the psychedelic tie dye one. And here I was labouring in it. I found it the next morning, discarded on the couch in a pile, removed in haste.

Allison spent half an hour monitoring me, timing contractions. She took my pulse and temperature. I can honestly say that’s the full extent of observations made, there was no need to do otherwise, a far cry from the endless monitoring and vaginal examinations of sandy’s labour. No wonder women so often feel violated post birth when that is the norm. It wasn’t much later that I started to freak out. The pain became insurmountable. I couldn’t breathe it away. The NCT advice of candle breaths and blowing up balloons went out the window. On each breath I blew out in anger at the pain. I shouted no. Allison told me to shout yes and I shouted back no even louder. I had welcomed those early contractions and now I was fighting them off with all my might. Stuart was still working on the pool but as the contractions got closer and he wasn’t at my back immediately I screamed for him. “Where are you!?” I yelled, “why aren’t you here!?” He had been literally four steps away in the kitchen. I chastised him. Poor man. He pummelled my back and I yelled at him again, for pushing me forward. “I’m not” he said. Turns out I’d been pushing back into him, he told me later. I had Allison in front of me holding up her hands as I put my hands on hers and pushed her away. It went on like this for a while. In between contractions I shook and felt weak, as though the ground beneath me was melting away. Someone had put down the old single mattress with sheets on it, I presume in case the pool wasn’t ready in time. I wanted so unbelievably badly to lie on it but I couldn’t. I couldn’t even sit down. The pressure was unbearable. As these contractions came thick and fast I asked if it was a quick labour and Allison said yes, it was. As they started I began saying “no, no, no”. I told them to go away in much more explicit terms and then I became the textbook transitional labouring woman. I couldn’t do it anymore, I told them. I was going to bed, I wanted to go to sleep and I would. I wasn’t doing it anymore. Quite. I think even in the midst of it I knew I was being typical and it annoyed me, I could see Allison and Stuarts faces, I could tell they knew it was normal and expected. I knew I was in transition, I asked if I would get the rest and be thankful break in the labour before the pushing stage, I was told maybe.

It was five to one. My waters broke and they were clear. Stuart told Allison the pool was 35 degrees centigrade. I looked at it and saw it full. I suddenly realised and asked could I get in. I could, and did. I’m not going to say the relief was incredible. I contracted as soon as I was in and it hurt just as much as before and it was hard not to be standing up but kneeling. Stuart rubbed my back nonetheless as I writhed around in pain. As soon as it passed though, that is when the pool came into its own. The shaking that I’d felt in between, the incredible weakness and fragility, it went. I sat in the pool with my head against the side and relaxed. It was the first rest I’d had. As it turns out that was pretty much the only one I got. I asked Allison for my break. I demanded it. Where is it? When do I get to rest? She said it didn’t always happen. She told me I was resting between contractions. I felt ridiculously fobbed off by my own body, where was my break!? Allison monitored the baby (she had time only to do so twice, with a hand held Doppler) and she was fine. She told me something about what a fabulous position she was in and I said I didn’t care. The next contraction came. The noise I was making (and yes, I was noisy) must have changed because she asked if I felt pushy. I did. Stuart donned his trunks.

I was in the pool for fifteen minutes in total before she was out. Ten of those were pushing. I think she came in three contractions. I was only just aware of stuart being beside me now, braving the already colourful water to be with me. I flopped over the edge of the pool. What a fabulous creation it is, allowing such a brilliant, buoyant support for a perfect labouring position, hands and knees without the pressure on the upper limbs. I started to push. It’s a weird sensation. It didn’t feel like I thought it would. I was told there would be relief in the pushing not the pain of contracting but the pain was all still there only now there was this incredible pressure as she came down. I pushed and felt as though I was splitting. But the time she was beginning to crown it was unbearable. “Oh my god this is so uncomfortable” I shouted. In between contractions felt so wrong, like constipation you could never imagine. Yet I knew it was a person there, a baby, my baby. I asked if she would be out soon and was told of course. I asked if I should push between contractions and was told to do what my body wanted. True to form, Allison was the facilitator of my birthing our daughter, much as she had told me she would be. I always remember her saying to me “I don’t deliver your baby, you do, I just ensure the birth environment is safe”. And she did. My baby’s eyebrows were visible and I contracted. Allison told me to pant and I did, and I did and then I couldn’t bear it anymore so I pushed harder and I tore and I knew it but, wow, I really just didn’t care. The ring of fire wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought, and I took that burning feeling over the pressure happily. That gap between the head coming out and the next contraction was the most uncomfortable I’ve ever been. “Will she come out on the next push?” I asked. Allison told me yes, probably and I said “thank f***” and she repeated the sentiment matter of fact with a hint of amusement in her voice. The contraction came. I pushed. The immense pressure turned to relief as I felt my baby’s body slide out. I’m sure I expressed my relief in some manner but I can’t remember exactly how right now. All I know is it was the best feeling in the world to have achieved it.

I was shell shocked. Stuart had caught her and passed her up between my legs to me and I was surprised to have to do something when all I wanted to do was collapse in a lovely feeling of relief. Then I realised what it had all been for again and I took my baby. I pulled her up through the water and she still had her caul on her, though ruptured. I pulled it from off her head and took her in my arms. I turned and the three of us looked at her. She looked like sandy. I saw it immediately and so did stuart and it was incredible. As Allison had advised us she was slower to start breathing than sandy had been. Water babies often are as the receptors on their face that detect air and encourage them to breathe weren’t exposed to air while she crowned. It took her a minute or two. Allison noted her cord pulsing, and placed my hand on her chest to feel her tiny heart beating. We blew on her face. She was about to set up oxygen just in case when she cried. She was, and is, perfect.

IMG_5991

It was now that Carrie, Allison’s second on call midwife arrived, she came in and found us in the pool with the baby in our arms. I’d been warned the second on call doesn’t always make it on time. Typical of second babies apparently. I began to feel rather uncomfortable having torn and really wanted out of the pool and to lie on the mattress. It beckoned me. But Roslyn’s cord was still pulsing blood into her. We were going to wait but in the end managed to get me out with her cord still attached. I lay on the mattress and stuart held Roslyn. When the cord stopped pulsing he cut it, something he never got to do with sandy. We kept the scissors.

After that I felt the contractions for the placenta coming. I’d been lying down and felt I needed up. As I sat up I felt a contraction come, I asked should I push, I did, and there was a massive plop as it came out in a oner. Just as much relief as when Roslyn had emerged followed and I finally felt empty. I was then set up on the sofa with Roslyn who proceeded to feed very efficiently. My tear was checked and allowed to heal without stitches due to it being straight. Allison and stuart took Roslyn to get a nappy and clothes and her oral vitamin k, while I showered and got into my pyjamas. I can’t tell you how good it was to have all I needed on hand and then to get into my own bed with my husband and new baby. We dozed and Allison and carrie tidied up. Allison popped on to check our vitals which were fine. My dad settled sandy back to sleep when he woke at 3am. The next morning we awoke and it was bright and we told the rest of the immediate family and then Sandy met his sister.

tumblr_n58r5rFsBY1qcjh8ho1_400

It was fast. My, it was fast. After sandy’s epic three day affair I couldn’t believe my midwife was here only for an hour before she arrived, or that the pool was only ready minutes before I was pushing. In some ways though it seems as though it was all timed to perfection by nature, or our own natures’ telling us what to do. Roslyn came into the world without fuss and she’s not made much of a fuss since she’s been here. I don’t think it was as emotional as sandy’s birth, but what with the trauma and PTSD that followed his, I’m very happy for the more muted, but poignant nonetheless, emotions that followed Roslyn’s arrival. It took until the second feed for me to really see her, to see who she was and to feel that bond. I really can’t speak highly enough of my midwife, my dad and of course my ever amazing husband. It was the birth I planned and the birth I wished for and I couldn’t be happier with how it went.

tumblr_n59d43L32C1qcjh8ho1_400

tumblr_n58ub7GmOm1qcjh8ho1_400

tumblr_n5ajy4TM3b1qcjh8ho1_400

Couldn’t Feel More Like a Mum if I Tried…

Last night Roslyn slept 3hrs, 3.5hrs, 3hrs, 1.5hrs. I don’t think Sandy was even sleeping that well at seven months. Did we get a sleepy one? Cross everything for me please.

image

So last night Sandy was up. I was sleeping between my other two and I realised Stuart had gone. Sandy was crying quite hard as he got a bottle for him downstairs. I was just about to leave Roslyn to go to him when I heard Stuart get there. It’s horrible being pulled two directions.

image

image

So I was settling back down knowing the quiet was Stuart giving him milk. Then I heard screaming. Proper scared screaming. And stuart saying things to him. And I jumped up and found the poor lad on his daddy’s shoulder finishing up being sick. We’ve only had one proper sick incident before and it ended up with sick in the cot, on the mattress, the sheets, the toys, the blankets, the floor, my arm, my leg, my hair, Sandy’s sleeping bag, pyjamas, face, hands, arms, hair…. Yeah you get the picture. The exact situation I have feared with much intensity would happen with a newborn baby in tow.

image

Somehow we lucked out though. The sick landed squarely in the cot, only hitting the sheets, and a little bit on Stuart’s clothing and Sandy’s sleeping bag. There was barely even any on Sandy. And Roslyn quite calmly slept through the whole ordeal and cleanup mission, mostly performed by a loving – if slightly disgusted – Dad. And by slept calmly I mean moaned and groaned like a monster but hey, that’s how she rolls.

Anyway, hugging that sick smelling boy and then picking out pjs for stuart as he put him back down, and lying in next to the little girl who actually sleeps made me feel awful grateful and more like a mum than ever.

I got up this morning having fed her back down and had 45 minutes to myself downstairs before Sandy woke up. I cleaned everything, prepared breakfast and generally planned the day (which involves getting the mot done, which coincidentally ran out the day Roslyn was born). Then I thought, you know, maybe I can do this. I am Mum head me roar. Or at least tersely cajole the tantruming toddler while I one armedly feed the newborn.

Birth post coming soon I promise.

Newborn Survival: Week 1

IMG_6028

Wow, it’s been a lot different from last time. So much less change, so much less anxiety. Many more skills honed long ago which are invaluable now. To think that I didn’t learn to settle Sandy to sleep until he was 7 months old! I just fed and fed and fed and freaked out when he was full and still not sleeping…

IMG_6036

I suppose not everything works for everyone but there are certain things that we are doing now which are, and have been, life savers.

IMG_6045

Número uno… The big one. The main thing. The only piece of advice I would unfailingly give any new breast feeding mum.

FEED LYING DOWN.

When we were in hospital with sandy we were forbidden from even holding them in bed practically, never mind feeding in there. Seriously though? You are expected to face an eight hour cluster feeding marathon on a chair, awake? Ha ha ha. I laugh in their faces. Mwaha! Get that baby and get into bed. Follow the guidelines for safety but feed and sleep and sleep and sleep. No numb bum, and you can rest, even if you aren’t asleep.

IMG_6046

Number two… Closely linked to number one: cosleeping. A lot of people freak out at that idea, but if you follow the guidelines like I said its not risky. It’s natural. Well, it blinking well feels natural. You know what else it feels like? Nothing, because you are asleep. Actually, I’m getting as good sleep as when pregnant, if not better. Roslyn settles beside me, and I can feed her, fall asleep, wake up and find her unlatched and snoozing, and then roll away and stretch out a bit. The less said about the amount of room Stuart has in the bed the better but never mind that for now. Sleep is sleep, enough said.

IMG_6050

Know that those grunting, groaning, dinosaur noises they are making are normal. “Sleeps like a baby” what a statement. It’s only accurate if it means twisting, straining and moaning every ten minutes the whole night long. With sandy I found it so hard to sleep through the noise and I was convinced he wasn’t asleep at every noise he made. Ok I had PTSD and didn’t know it so that didn’t help but this time I leave her to it. I know the difference between a noise and a cry. Seems so simple but somehow that flummoxed me first time out.

IMG_6055

Next up… The sling thing. They are magic. Sling fanatics (and I do mean fanatics) say they have sleepy dust woven into them. I’m not sure I’m that fanciful but their power to settle is amazing. It’s the tightness, the closeness to mum or dad, the body heat, the temperature, the frogleg position… Basically it is the womb on the outside. It’s like being pregnant again without the jarring hips, aching back and swollen everything. Ten minutes of a walk in their and the zzzs will flow. No joke. Life saver.

IMG_6058

Another. Husbands. Wow, I cannot tell you how grateful I am to have this man to help me. We joke always of his minimal role in her making, but what he lacks in actually forming her, he makes up for in everything else. He’s in the kitchen right now letting sandy get himself, the kitchen and him soaked. Sandy’s having an impromptu bath in the sink. I just heard “ok I will take my shirt off if you want to wash my belly”. He changes, he winds, he fetches EVERYTHING… He’s super husband! He even caught the baby as she popped out of me, sitting in a pink pool of bodily fluids, for goodness sake!

IMG_6074

Ok now I am freaking out slightly at how I’m going to cope with two at home alone when he’s back to work next week…

IMG_6102

…and about the fact my mot may be overdue and I keep forgetting to look out my ownership documents to check…

IMG_6115

Breathe, breathe. The babies are happy, that’s all I can do right now. Try and keep that pressure to a minimum.

IMG_6120

IMG_6127

IMG_6134

IMG_6142

IMG_6147

IMG_6149

IMG_6154

IMG_6159

IMG_6163

IMG_6166

IMG_6169

IMG_6178

IMG_6182

IMG_6231

IMG_6242

IMG_6251

IMG_6252

IMG_6255

IMG_6260

IMG_6281

More: know hormones are there. They are real, they are immense, they are messing you up. Baby blues exist. I’ve panicked. It’s the same time every day. It is usually fear over how sandy is coping. Cry cry cry. It’s all normal. Just work through it and find comfort in the normal. Cuddle that toddler, work with the routine, watch the Beatles anthology. Phew.

IMG_6287

And as a final note a few practical things:

– Get a fab mother to make you meals in tubs and fill your fridge for that first week
– Get the same mother and mother in law to take away washing and bring it back. Especially if the weather isn’t allowing anything you wash to dry.
– Sports bottle of water for breast feeding. Oh my god the thirst. Africa thirst I call it, probably inappropriately.
– Frozen toddler meals you made in advance of the baby. Yep, yep.

We are surviving here. Quite well actually. I’m scared I jinxed it now. Take it back! Take it back! Ahhhhh!

When Sandy Met Baba

There are lots of defining moments in life. The birth of my first born was of course one of those. Sandy came and it was the most life altering change imaginable. When Roslyn emerged and joined us it was distinctly less earth shattering, as though she just did it herself and made little fuss of it. At first it shocked me that I wasn’t crying when I held her, or able to continue my life as I knew it as she started hers. The day after she was born I was downstairs packing sandy’s lunch up as if nothing had even happened.

IMG_5992

But the profoundness is there. It came not with her arrival but with her taking her place within our family.

IMG_5996

As new parents of Sandy, Stuart and I stumbled through parenthood on gangly legs and struggled to cope with the immensity of the change. We became a family of sorts, but a lot of the time it felt as though we were all three of us babies, just trying to adjust to a new world.

IMG_5998

It never felt like we were a family though, and I suppose it makes sense as we knew we were not yet complete. People often have set ideas of how many children they will have. Maybe I was unimaginative in wanting two because I came from a family of two. Stuart comes from three, and wanted three. After Sandy he told me that we could just have one, that I didn’t have to go through it again for him. That’s what birth trauma does to you! But I knew we weren’t complete and so did he and I couldn’t imagine Sandy without a sibling.

IMG_6000

And so we did it again. And I suffered through the hell of pregnancy again, nine long months and four more days and then she came and suddenly, we all fit.

IMG_6002

And even though the birth was perfect and there are no scars only a little surprise at the speed, I know we are done. Roslyn has completed us. I feel like a family. We sat on the couch yesterday watching toy story (sandy’s current obsession). Sandy was in my arms and Roslyn in Stuart’s. I couldn’t feel more whole. And there is something to say for symmetry, even down to the four cats, two boys, two girls.

IMG_6005

I don’t know if I would feel differently with two boys. Would I want more just to get a girl? I’d say I doubt it and I said it through the pregnancy that I wouldn’t be having more. And I’m sitting here, firm in my decision. Roslyn makes us the family I’ve always known we would be.

IMG_6008

IMG_6009

IMG_6011

IMG_6017

So how did Sandy take it? Well he’s known I had a baba in my tummy for a while. And he knew that baba would sleep in the Moses basket. He woke at 6am that morning, four short hours after her dramatic arrival. We placed her in the basket and went to his room. I picked him up and hugged him. I’d hugged him the night before at 10pm, labouring, and told him he would be a big brother. The last time I hugged him he was a single child, now he wasn’t. I carried him through and told him that the baba was here and he saw her. His face lit up and he squealed in delight. “Baba!” He said. Then we leaned him in. “Do you want to give baba a kiss?” “Mwah, mwah!” And my heart melted.

IMG_6024

And that was it. Family complete.

IMG_6140

I wouldn’t say that everything has been smooth sailing per se. The initial meeting was brilliant but as soon as Sandy realised she wouldn’t be remaining in the basket, and would indeed be glued to my chest pretty much, he made his feelings known. I was rejected. I tried to go to him any time I had free arms but he shunned me. It was horrible. Later he did the same to stuart. The only time he wasn’t like that was if Roslyn was upstairs and he forgot about her, then we were friends again.

IMG_6267

We made the mistake of letting him go away from the house too much those first few days. He had meant to be away those three days as it happened but we shouldn’t have. We took the easy option to cope with the change. By Friday I suddenly realised. My milk was coming in and I cried and cried, bring him home, bring him home, he should be here. He came home and he has been here. It’s not been the easiest, but we are together.

IMG_6268

I still feel I have failed him though everyone assures me I hadn’t and that the adjustment has to occur no matter what. I just want to make it as smooth as I can for him. I hate to see him hurt. He was watching toy story and at the bit where buzz tries to fly, falls and breaks his arm, I feel him shudder in my arms. Big sobs, big tears. Cuddles. He’s 21 months old and he knows its sad and he is sad and it breaks my heart to feel him hurt.

IMG_6271

But it’s not all been bad. These moments are isolated and I mention them because they are remarkable, not because they dominate. They upset me, but on the whole he has been good. In fact this weekend has turned around for Sandy. He’s had fun, he’s been in his garden. He loves his baba. He poured water over her red belly as the three of us had a bath. He kisses her and asks for her.

IMG_6274

My milk is in and supply is up and I’ve snuck downstairs of a morning with Sandy, leaving Roslyn and Stuart in bed asleep. We eat coco pops and play with cars. I tidy and he helps me. It’s like it’s always been and I can feel routine mending wounds. He sits on me and watches the television and I feel like there is a link where we touch and we pass healing through to each other. He is so big. But he’s still a baby too.

IMG_6276

And that’s where we are. Getting there. I think it’s been harder on Sandy because he is used to having me unconditionally, and often. It will take time, that I know. I love them both so much. He knows he can come to me and share me with her now. He wedges himself in beside me as I feed her. Lies his head on me and I hold his perfect hands and smell his hair. My boy and my girl. My whole world.

IMG_6278

Early Days

So here I am. Reporting from the other side. One week in (almost). In fact it is now 7.5hours short of a week of the first Braxton hicks that marks the very beginning of labour. But that’s the birth story and I will save that for another post shortly. I’m currently in bed with two of my top three. Stuart and Roslyn are zonked out next to me. It’s been a good night of 2-3hour stretches of sleep. I really just can’t stress how much easier it is second time round where you can say, “oh, so she’s got wind and won’t settle, we’ll I know she will EVENTUALLY so I’m not going to get upset about it”. Also, my favourite, “I will just feed her here in the bed and then we can all go to sleep”. Stupid institutionalising NHS last time. This time people keep asking stuart “is Helen home yet?” To which he can gleefully reply that I never left!

image

I can hear Sandy over the monitor now. Roslyn has just been fed so I’m going to keep this short and take him downstairs for some one on one time. Suffice to say he’s been a little taken aback by the change. He loves his sister and is so happy to see her and kiss her, but he was not happy with not having unfettered access to stuart and I. Especially me as I’ve been feeding alllll the time. But he’s getting there. I’ll post about that in due course too. I feel like we are healing each other slowly and that’s what he needs. So we will go downstairs shortly, split some coco pops and tidy the house, keeping things normal.

image

We obviously have a lot of other photos from the dslr to post, but I just wanted to throw up a few snaps of the past week. Themes? Sore nipples. Multi tasking. Ready meals. Soaking up love from two little meat bags we made. It’s been good.

image

The sun is shining which is a good sign. Sandy can play in the garden this morning and I can get some much needed washing dry. Bring on a proper first outing as a family of four this afternoon. I feel so complete already!

image