Saturday, 31 December 2011

Christmas eating

And another Christmas! McBaby had two Christmases as we were invited down to a secret location to MrM's parents' house for a Christmas meal. The secret location was in fact MARGATE but McBaby, with great comedy timing, produced the loudest parps I've ever heard every time I said the name of the place.

I was a bit nervous about spending the day with the grandparents. Lovely as they are, they have a habit of saying inappropriate things from time to time. MrsM's first question to me after the birth was not "how is the baby?" or "how are you?" but "how many stitches did you have?"

She also made me laugh by telling me that she was psychic; she always knew it was a boy and she knew when I'd gone into labour. This might be because she called, regular as clockwork, at 12.30pm on Sunday and MrM ended the conversation quite quickly without telling her why!

However, I need not have worried. We had a wonderful day with them and little man was absolutely laden with fabulous presents. He's a very lucky boy who won't have to go clothes shopping for a while!

He was an angel in the car on the way down and back and also behaved impeccably when he had his last midwife visit. She weighed him and dispelled my fear that I had not been feeding him enough. Most babies add half an ounce in weight per day. McBaby had gained 13oz in 6 days.

So it's been a great end to 2011 and we're excited about what 2012 holds for us. Happy New Year everyone!!

Monday, 26 December 2011

Christmas


Mr Baby is nearly a week old and is providing us with endless amusement. He is growing before our eyes, looks more like a baby than a mole and has started smiling. He has stopped doing his random movements where he suddenly jumps and then spreads his arms out, but has started filling nappies full of a substance that looks like Maille Mustard.




Our first Christmas with a baby in the house has seen MrM and I almost constantly blubbing. We both had calls from friends who were virtually in tears telling us what a special day we were going to have; I cried when I read MrM's card to the baby and cried when I opened a present from MrM to the baby. We've also been touched by the most incredible generosity; a lovely top for the baby from some friends, a hand-knitted cardigan made by MrM's cousin, a pair of Ugg boots from my mum and lots of beautiful Santa outfits from various friends and family.

Hope you had a lovely Christmas too!

Saturday, 24 December 2011

First night

My husband apparently heard me shout "I'm not dead" from the next room and came in to see if I was ok. After this hugely embarrassing incident, everything started to become more normal. The baby was checked over by a doctor and chose this moment to do his first proper poo in addition to the tarry like substance that he had also produced.

I had an injection and a cup of tea and we were told that an overnight stay was not in fact required. I was also reassured that I would have torn if I had given birth in the hospital and the home birth was not a contributory factor. In fact, being at home at kept me calm and relaxed meaning that our baby was extremely placid and content.

It was so wonderful to see my dad holding him too having driven up from miles away. Apparently the last bit through Reading had taken more than the rest of the journey though. Dad seemed impressed that the baby looked well filled out and not, to quote my sister, "like an old man or a bird". Or in less polite company, "like a testicle." He also told me about some interesting Josephs in our family tree including heroes of war and a bare knuckle boxer.

Then we were allowed home which hit me when the midwife called down the reception to let the security guard know that we were leaving with a baby. We drove home and prepared to put the little man in his crib. He. Would. Not. Go.

Now, we see that he can be quite persuasive and he spends the first night in the bed with us. Not even 12 hours old and we have failed our first test as parents.

Is there such a thing as too much gas and air?

During the birth I supped on gas and air to take the edge off the contractions. The key point here is that I only used it when I needed it. Now in hospital, surely the worst was over. The baby is here and I am being sewn up by a truly lovely lady. We had a lovely chat and she told me that she wasn't going to reveal exactly how many stitches I needed, but to relax and breathe in when required. When required. I ignored this and just used it as oxygen.

MrM took the baby into the next room and my dad arrived to meet the little chap who by now we have named Joseph.

I didn't feel any pain. In fact, I started to hallucinate. I recall drifting off to some music on the radio and then I appeared in 1986 which was the last time I used gas and air as a youngster at the dentist in Weymouth. I was back at the dentist and remember hearing the same music that was on the radio back then. I realised that my life had come full circle and that I had now died on the table under the lights, leaving a newborn son and husband.

There was a knock at the door. "Elle est morte" I heard the midwife say to the person who had knocked.

I SCREAMED. I then leapt off the table (still being stitched remember).

"I'm not dead!!"

The midwife reassured me and I pawed at her face to ensure she was real. "Am I in Weymouth or Reading?" I asked.

"You're in Reading," she said. "You've just had a baby and I am stitching you up".

"I'm not dead?" I asked 600 times.

I don't know who was more surprised, but she managed to calm me down and continued to stitch me, blood everywhere. "But you said 'elle est morte' in French" I squealed.

"No, I said 'It's Marta'. Marta was knocking on the door to see if you wanted tea and toast after the stitches".

She contined to stitch me up.

I decided not to continue with the gas and air this time.

Baby boy

After pushing out the baby and then the placenta, the midwives take me upstairs to examine me and then both look to each other to do the stitching. It emerges that neither of them does stitching, so they have to call another midwife.

While she's waiting, the baby is weighed (8lb 12) and all the checks are done. We've got a healthy baby and I just can't stop admiring his beautiful eyes. He really has soft skin, long, feminine hands with delicate fingers and long toes. All of these features are inherited from his dad.

Another midwife arrives and surveys the damage. Much like my house, which looks like a murder scene, things downstairs do not look good. Worse than usual in fact. Apparently I have a third degree tear which will involve being taken to hospital by ambulance and an overnight stay. I can't believe what I'm hearing as I feel great considering that I've just pushed an 8lb12oz baby through a part of my body I used to like.

I feed the baby and wait for the ambulance. Two lovely paramedics arrive, a lady who tells me not to keep giving birth to boys if you want a girl as it will mean that you end up with 6 children, and a man who keeps showing me his namebadge and winking when I say we've not decided on a baby name yet.

The baby goes in a car seat and he and I travel to Reading in an ambulance with a very worried MrM following behind in his car. The traffic is horrific, reminding me why I chose a homebirth in the first place, and I have my first sleep in weeks.

We arrive at the hospital and I'm taken into a room where I'm sewn up. MrM takes the baby into another room and what happens next deserves its own post as I am so embarrassed. I shall write it down so it's not in my head, send it out to cyberspace and try never to think about it ever again. See you on the other side!

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Labour.....

It had been going on for a while, but things started for sure on Saturday night. I got into bed and started having contractions which were bearable at first. After lying in bed for a couple of hour, they were worsening, so I went downstairs and filled a hot water bottle to put on my back before waking MrM up solely so he could time them as I had no idea how regular they were.

The answer is that they weren't very regular. They were all over the place - some 10 minutes apart, some two minutes. Some were bearable, some not so much!

I found the best way to deal with them was to bounce on my ball and breathe in and out calmly. This worked for about 22 hours but then I was convinced that I must be nearly fully dilated and that the baby was on its way, so MrM called the midwife.

And what a lovely midwife! Kate was immensely sweet and patient given that she'd arrived at 4am. She examined me and I was an enormous 1cm dilated. I felt ludicrous but apparently the cervix was totally effaced, so there was so gain for the discomfort.

Kate went home and I continued to bounce on the ball which gave incredible relief. Why bouncing around on a giant ball should make me feel better, I don't know, but it seemed to complement the breathing techniques well, along with MrM rubbing my back.

Mindful that our doula had raved and raved about how amazing and awesome another lady in our homebirth group had been, I felt like a bit of a failure first thing in the morning, but asked if the midwife could return and this time bring some gas and air with her as I was feeling tired and fed up and wanted to take the edge off the pain.

We chatted and she encouraged lots while making notes now and again. I've since read these through and they reveal such things as the banana I ate for energy at 9am and that I went to the loo an hour later.

Things were getting more intense with the contractions getting closer together. I recall staring so intently at the equipment that the supplier's phone number is etched on my brain. (It's 01707 652270 should you require any Entonox).

I remember they then became unbearable and I started shouting into the mouthpiece, trying not to think about how amazing other people had been while giving birth to 10 pounders. What a failure I am!

Then the midwife was replaced by another with the same name. It's now about 11am and I am listening to the radio to find out that Kim Jong-Il had died, causing me to make an inappropriate comment about reincarnation which did not please MrM one bit. Then there was a programme on about home births and your first night with your baby.

I was now saying that I couldn't do this and ready to strangle the amazing home birth lady. Bah.

Time ticks by, I recall another midwife arriving and also one of the midwife's husbands appearing at the door asking for a parking permit while I was grunting and thinking I must be imagining it. I wasn't!

I have my show and the midwife ruptures my waters as we're nearly ready to go. I grunt my way back down to the birth pool which is providing great relief but is starting to deflate quite badly giving me nothing to lean on.

Then the pressure starts. It's horrendous. I stop relaxing which I'd been trying hard to do and look to the midwife for advice. She's sending a text.

"HELP ME!" I scream. "Just do what your body says", she tells me. Hmmmm.

Anyway, I start to make noises like a zoo animal and wonder what the neighbours must think. Apparently on one side, they've left their front door open. Great.

The midwives chat about how busy it is in Sainsbury's and I start to make my complaint that I was promised drugs that never arrived. "You're so close now", they laugh.

Then, it happens, the head comes out. It's just awful - pressure and tearing pains. And that's just what I do to MrM's hand! There are two people giving me conflicting advice and I panic and give an almighty push which sees both of them nearly drown with a tidal wave of water and our baby torpedo across the pool. I am stunned although panicky that there's a cord around his neck.

But he's beautiful! His eyes are open and he looks happy, bizarrely. He's purplish, but perfectly formed and within seconds I see that he looks like my mum!

Welcome the world little one!

Friday, 16 December 2011

Emigration

By the time you read this, I'll have gone. I'm off to a place where people don't cycle at you at speed when you're 9 months pregnant forcing you to leap into the road and into the path of a manic white van man. I'll be somewhere where a motorist doesn't wind down his window to call you a fat **** when you have the audacity to think he's going to stop at a zebra crossing and where women don't put their hands over their screaming child's mouth, telling them to "shut it" in the post office.

All of this after a night of no sleep and before 10am in the lovely town where I live.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

The last GP appointment...

....which is exactly what I called my previous visit..

After a night of thinking the baby was on its way as I had backache, stomach ache, leg ache and even hand ache, I just wanted to sleep but we got up and pegged it to get to the surgery for our 8.10am appointment - 30 minutes before the GP turned up, so lucky that we hurried...

MY tummy felt very tight, so I am still convinced it's imminent. The doctor says all looks ok but did however talk about induction without once mentioning the actual word. He asked me about my previous appointment with the midwife which didn't go too well and insisted that I see her next week. She had written "neg" in my notes. I asked if this was good and the doctor looked puzzled. " 'Negative' " is always good news, isn't it?" he asked. Since then, I've made a list of about 100 items where I do not want to hear the word "negative".

He wished us well and said he hoped all would go "swimmingly" and I went to make an appointment with the midwife - next available date? The 29th!!

This is my fault as I should have done this last time I was here, but I was certain that the baby would be here by now. How in touch with my own body I am!

Anyway, I left my number and she called a few minutes later when I was at the checkout at the supermarket ensuring that I got bonus loyalty points for reusing my own bag. She said that though she couldn't see me, I could drop in to the centre at "the Newbury".

"The Newbury?"
"Yes"
"Where's that?"
"The garden centre"
"It's in the garden centre?"
"No, it's near the garden centre"
"Which garden centre?"
"The one in Thatcham"
"You turn left at the roundabout and it's there."
"Oh! You mean the hospital?"
"Yes. It's called the Newbury but it's in Thatcham."

Will do....

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Christmas party

Last night was our office Christmas party. I was not invited, though the guy who started last week was, the girl who started a month ago and also a guy who left in April! Nothing like feeling loved, eh?

However, my grumbles about this subsided when I was lying in bed and felt a very strong contraction! That's odd, I thought. Don't they start slowly and build up? Yes, they do.

What I had felt was actually MrM rolling over and taking a bit of my pyjama top with him.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Off you go to work!

Quite helpfully, MrM's NEW phone has been playing up so when I call him, it goes straight to voicemail and he doesn't realise I've phoned for hours. Fortunately, nothing is about to happen that entails calling him urgently....

Anyway, it meant this morning that he'd used the alarm on my mobile to get him up at 6.30am. I felt terrible sending him off to work to earn a crust while I stay at home doing not very much. My constant trips to the loo and continual tossing and turning are keeping him awake. And while he's at work, I'm spending afternoons sleeping - I feel a massive conflict between resting (as I won't get much sleep in the next few months) and getting things done. But sleep is impossible when you're the size of a whale and can't get comfortable in any position at all. I can't seem to switch my mind off either. The dream I had last night where the baby was French set me off down a rabbit hole of existential thoughts - what makes a baby French? COuld our baby be French? Why French?

Yesterday afternoon, after wasting the day (although to be fair, the weather wasn't exactly enticing), I spoke to someone who said she'd never been at a birth. I am wondering now if she witnessed a preview as while we were chatting, I missed being hit by a speeding car by about an inch (I'm not as nimble as I used to be) and I unleashed a torrent of ridiculous language. I'm not very good at swearing.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Excitement!

We were due to meet some friends at 6pm last night, so of course at about 5.30pm, I had a severe flare-up of SPD - so disabling that I couldn't get out of bed (I was having a disco nap!) and had to be rolled out in a most unladylike manner by MrM who managed to keep a straight face.

Perhaps it was just sheer laziness, as once I was out and had come down the stairs on my hands and knees, I seemed to be ok, although it took us a frustrating 20 minutes to walk the short distance into town. After a very amusing evening out, I was woken up at about 1am by again, what felt like period pains, which rumbled on, patternless, until about 6am. I felt really excited and really good about myself (after losing confidence in myself and the birth a couple of days ago after being let down, and stressed by someone to whom I'd paid £200 - half of a month's maternity pay - specifically to keep me calm!) - in fact the sensations were much easier to cope with than MrM's polyphonic snoring.

"I am going to meet the little one today!" I thought! And on its due date too! But by the time MrM woke up at 7am, there was no sign of anything at all. Perhaps I'd dreamt the whole thing? Or perhaps it was my dinner?

It then started again at about 9am (brought on, I believe by the list of name suggestions that my Mum sent me - I shouldn't laugh too much or be surprised at these given the appalling names that she and my dad came up with for me) but has petered out once again - but not before poor MrM felt the need to rearrange the dining room to make me comfortable. I think I've cried wolf too many times about it now - MrM is not going to believe me when it actually happens.

Friday, 9 December 2011

The power of a positive word

In a week where I've lost my faith in my ability to give birth thanks to being made to feel stressed and like a failure because I've only done a couple of hours' paid work while wonderwomen all around who are giving birth and getting top marks in their MBA/a Master's/an Open University degree, I cannot thank my friend enough for a simple text I got today which has lifted my spirits. It simply says: "You looked fab yesterday and very chilled about your impending arrival. You will be fine."

I bet she has no idea how much better that has made me feel. We pregnant women are very sensitive!

Electrocution

In its short life, my poor unborn child has been flattened by a speeding pavement cyclist, has fallen down some steps and today got electrocuted by our toaster (which is less than a year old). It let out a massive bang and sent a shock up my arm which made the poor little bean jump. I think it's fine though as s/he has been moving about ever since.

Normally when this kind of thing happens, I don't hesitate to visit to pay a visit to the fuse box. However, today, with uncustomary caution, I wanted to double check I was doing the right thing as it wasn't just me in mild peril, so I tried to call to MrM. He didn't answer, so I called someone else for their electrical expertise, not noticing that MrM tried to call me seven times during the course of the conversation. When I finally spoke to him, he was in the car on his way home, thinking (for the second time in 12 hours) that the baby was on its way.

Sorry MrM - from MrsM and the toaster xxxx

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

"You'll need a boy to complete your family.."

Apparently the inappropriate things that people say to you when you're pregnant continue once you've had the baby. I met my friend today (a mother of three girls - two of whom are twins) and moaned about the things that people say to me including today's selection:

Person 1: "Would you like me to be at the birth?"
Me: "That's a kind offer but I'm worried that I might swear at you without realising!"
Person 1: "You could perhaps try not to swear?"
Me: "Yes, I could! Good thinking!!"

Person 2 on 'chat': "I'm ringing you now."
Me - (9 months pregnant remember) - "My phone's upstairs. I'm not rushing up there as it always stops ringing when I get there."
Person 2: "Run, run!"

Person 3 - a friend who has greeted me thus every time she's seen me for the past few months: "You look MASSIVE!!!"

Person 4: "So do you know what it is yet?"
Me: "Interesting use of the word 'yet'. No, I'm not going to find out."
Person 4: "Is your nursery ready yet?"

Person 5 (a relative of MrM who previously asked me to find out if we were having a boy or girl so she could buy a baby hat in the appropriate colour): "Have you had the baby yet?"
Me: "I hand-on-heart hereby promise that I will call you when it's born. I will CALL you! Call YOU!"

But it won't end when the bean's here. My friend tells me that people constantly ask her if she's hoping for a boy next to "complete the set". Or they ask: "Were they conceived by IVF?" How that is anyone's business I don't know! Or "Are there twins in your family?" Or "are they identical?" Or "how do you tell them apart" - to which she replies, "by their poos."

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Stupid things I've done today.....

1. Got up early.

2. Went to Basingstoke.

3. Watched this episode of Peep Show....www.channel4.com/programmes/peep-show/4od Not recommended if you're 9 months pregnant.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

The shame

MrM: "Where's the van key?"

Me: "In my handbag"

MrM: "Don't get up, I'll get it....AAAAAAAAAARGH!"

Me: "What's wrong?"

MrM: "Someone's left a pot of wee in your handbag".

Ah yes, that would have been me. Oops.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

4/5

If the midwife who I saw this morning is the one who attends the birth then I'm pretty sure the baby isn't coming out.

For some reason I had a visit with the doctor and the midwife today -someone told me to book an appointment with both. The appointment with the GP was straightforward and it looks like the baby is 4/5 engaged. When I asked if that meant it was coming soon, the doctor seemed to find that hilariously funny.

"It's not going to be today", he laughed in between snorts of laughter.

He said that he'd spoken to the midwife and she is meant to bring pethidine with her so I shouldn't worry about it. Why do I not feel remotely reassured by that?

He asked me to create a sample since I hadn't brought one. I did think about it before I left the house, but the only thing I could see to put it into was a Bart Simpson mug, so I didn't bother. I produced one at the surgery and presented it to the receptionist who told me to take it into the midwife.

I did. She said she didn't want it. She did a test on it and then handed it back to me as if I'd offered it to her for Christmas. "I don't want it", she said.

She then said that I wasn't supposed to see the doctor today and that as I'd been to see him I didn't need to see her. Fine by me! "I didn't make two appointments just to annoy you, " I said - "someone told me to."

"No they didn't" she said.

"I've already apologised to the doctor for wasting his time", I added.

Talking to me like a simpleton, she said she would write down on my notes that I must only see the GP in two weeks' time.

"In case you don't understand", she said. GGRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Raspberry Leaf Tea



Am waiting for the doctor and the midwife to communicate with each other as we have come up against a little obstacle when it comes to having pain relief at the home birth. The midwife says the GP should prescribe it and the GP says that the midwife will bring it. Meanwhile, I am wondering if I can cope without it!

I actually am hoping not to use it - just thought it would be helpful to have for peace of mind!

Have brewed up a nice cup of Raspberry Leaf Tea while this sorts itself out...


It's commonly believed that drinking raspberry leaf tea or taking raspberry leaf tablets will help to induce labour and as such this supplement is taken by many a pregnant woman keen to speed up their baby's arrival into the world. Unfortunately this is a misconception; raspberry leaf tea doesn't actually help to bring on labour at all. Having said this it is thought to have many other benefits for the birthing process and has been used as a labour-aid for hundreds of years.

Raspberry leaf tea is nutrient rich and contains many of the vitamins and minerals necessary for a healthy pregnancy including vitamins A, C, E and B, magnesium, calcium and iron. Consuming raspberry leaf tea not only helps mother and baby to get all the nutrients they need but can also help to replenish a new mothers stores after the birth.

Raspberry leaf tea also contains the alkaloid 'fragine' which is said to strengthen and tone the muscles of the uterus, helping them to contract more efficiently during labour. Research has found that taking raspberry leaf during the weeks prior to delivery helps to shorten the second stage of labour by making contractions more effective. Some studies have also found that it reduces the need for an assisted delivery (i.e. an emergency cesarean or use of forceps or ventouse).

Sipping raspberry leaf tea during and after the birth is also said to help the uterus contract back down to size, reduce after birth bleeding and help initiate the let down of breastmilk.

While there hasn't been a huge amount of research into this area, the general consensus does seem to be that drinking raspberry leaf tea during the latter stages of pregnancy can help to make for a 'better' labour with few side effects.

How to take raspberry leaf tea

Raspberry leaf tea can be taken in tea bag, loose leaf, tablet or tincture form and is available from most herbalists and health food stores.

It is advisable to wait until the 32nd week of pregnancy before trying raspberry leaf tea as there is a concern that consumption before this time in the more fragile, earlier stages of pregnancy could lead to problems. Once you have reached the 32nd week of your pregnancy you could begin with one cup of raspberry leaf tea a day and gradually increase up to 4 cups or tables a day (although this may vary in accordance with the strength of the blend and the manufacturers' instructions).

Monday, 28 November 2011

Pushchair

My sister has been amazing with ensuring that we have everything we need for the arrival. She has been incredible. The last time I went to see her, one of her lovely friends supplied us with a car seat (which MrM installed into his car when I was out yesterday - what a sweetie), lots of toys and a pregnancy pillow which has brought sweet, sweet sleep back to me.

Thank you sis!

The only thing I need now is a pushchair. So poor MrM gave up his lunch hour today and we met at the retail park. Who says romance is dead?

What I haven't mentioned here is that we were here on Saturday but it was so busy and someone in a brand new Merc was so rude to me (after stealing our parking space as he was in a desperate rush to get to Homebase) that I lost my temper (for the second time in a week - hormones?). I think the phrase "threw my toys out of the pram" is doubly apt here. I refused to go shopping, I didn't get out of the van and I think I may have stamped my foot. Cake was all that I wanted at that moment.

So, this little tantrum meant that we were back at the retail park again today. I met MrM in Mothercare. Now is this the most ironic use of the word "care" in a shop's name? The last time we were here, I think I mentioned that one shop assistant refused to give me an invitation for their late night shopping night; another quoted "elf and safety" at one of my family members and when I called their head office to complain they were not remotely interested.

So why did I go back??? Is it because it's virtually the only place in town that sells pushchairs? We looked at the display for a while and in the meantime, a shop assistant watched our increasing bafflement with her arms folded.

After a while, MrM asked her for help which seems to astonish her. Still with her arms folded, she guided us around the selection, using the word "obviously" all the time.

"Obviously this is for rough terrain".

"obviously this is the car seat and it unclips"

"Obviously this folds up small to go in a boot"

"Obviously you don't have enough money for this one here."

I jest about the last one, but "obviously I am going to buy our pushchair somewhere else" may have popped out of my mouth. All I wanted was something simple. If you have to spend 10 minutes explaining how to fold it, then it's too complicated. We're going to stick to the sling until I find a way of buying a pushchair that doesn't involve a trip to the retail park or cost more than £200. Think my wonderful sister has spoiled me....

Last NHS class

These free classes have been surprisingly informative and as this was the last one, MrM agreed to accompany me.

Everyone in the class is offered a drink and he happens to select tea in a branded mug that says "VAGIFEM" on the outside. I find this much funnier than he does.

Today's session is about the possible complications and various pain relief options which are enough to make you want to close your legs, your eyes and your ears.

We're all handed a piece of equipment to represent the start of the chain of interventions that take place if your baby is late or not progressing as it should. She explains how induction is done - via a pessary, and I'm given a hospital gown that somehow scares the bejesus out of me - that is until I pass it along and get given something that looks like a cross between an instrument of torture and a crochet hook.

"For breaking your water" the midwife explains.

Then she shows us a razor, a ventouse suction cup, a catheter, an epidural and other items. I know the session is not designed to scare us, rather to let you know what could be expected, but I lose all of the confidence that I've been building up. I've been feeling relatively calm about the birth, but somehow I now have developed this feeling that I just can't do it.

We're then talked through the different pain relief options.

TENS machines, entonox (one side effect is that you say silly things - as if I don't do that already), pethidine/diamorphine (which I might not actually be allowed at home - wish someone had told me this earlier!) and epidurals/Caesarians.

However, my doubts in my ability seem to lift slightly in my bid to avoid an epidural or a Caesarian. I can't imagine having a massive needle put in my back (especially as my mum remarked that she had one when I was born and it didn't work) and really can't even think about the idea of a catheter or a Caesarian- with lots of people in the room and the fact that you can feel the sensations in your womb.

Why did I not look into this BEFORE? Adoption is one analgesic that appeals today....

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Fear release

As part of our hypnobirthing course, I had a one-to-one session to finally release any fears about the birth. It actually dawned on me how far I'd come as I feel ok about this now and it's the next 18 years that I am now worrying about.

It was a wonderful session which started with a gentle talk on some of the fears that I'd written down. Some of these I'd already dispelled myself and the others seemed to be a bit silly after talking them through. I was then asked to crumple up the paper and throw it away.

I then had a very deep relaxation session which was so intense that I firstly woke myself up with a snore, then my fingers went tingly and then finally I started crying and dribbled all over the blanket. I am such a disgrace sometimes that this puts all of my stupid fears into context.

I should add though that these were happy tears. Claire addressed the baby and talked through the birth and its first moments. The baby responded with some strong kicks and some really visible wiggling proving beyond doubt that it knew what she was saying. She talked about how the baby's mum and dad will love it so much and do everything we can for it and at that moment I imagined MrM holding it for the first time. I know he and I will be very emotional when we hold it for the first time and lo - that's when the tears wouldn't stop!

Despite the total embarrassment, I actually felt a million times better afterwards. Think we're nearly ready to go!

Working bumps breastfeeding

Tonight was my third breast feeding session but there's still lots to learn!

Breastfeeding, the Mum's perspective
Covering:


•The realities of breastfeeding
•How to prepare for breastfeeding your baby
•Dads and breastfeeding - you're important too!
•Practical tips for positioning
•What to wear
•Feeding in public
•What to buy
•Where to get help & support


Thank you so much for coming tonight. I hope you found it useful and helped make breastfeeding a little more real if possible.

Good luck to those of you due in the next few weeks.


We'd covered positioning in the past, but I found tonight's session practical and memorable - hopefully. Apparently youtube is a great source of useful videos and tips on putting your baby tummy-to-tummy and tilting the baby's head back with your hand cupping its head.

The cross cradle position: use a cushion to raise the baby to the nipple and hold the back of its neck.

However the best one and one for me looks like "biological nurturing" where you simply lie back and let the baby crawl to feed itself. Easy!

There's also the rugby ball hold for larger ladies (ahem - me) or if you've had a Caesarian or if the baby hurts on one side.

She also demonstrated feeding while you lie down which again looks perfect for me as it implies minimal effort.

What I was also interested in that was also covered was the UK Association of Milk Banks http://ukamb.org/. It seemed a bit wasteful to me to throw expressed milk down the sink, so you can actually donate it to hospitals and milk banks.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

The baby's coming!!!

Or so I thought....

On Friday morning I absolutely and completely lost my temper. The previous day had seen our road under traffic management and roadworks everywhere. However, there was not one workman to be seen. I called Thames Water to find out why the road was still half closed (thereby causing irate motorists to sit outside my window revving with their radios blasting when I was trying to write a lengthy press release). I had a conversation with a woman who wanted to know my name, address, phone number and whether or not I owned the house. She got annoyed when I was whether it was relevant that I owned the house (I told her I don't, which is true as technically, the bank owns it), and she got even MORE annoyed when I asked her for her name, address, phone number and whether or not she owned her house.

Anyway, the upshot was that the roadworks disappeared fairly quickly. The next thing that happened of course was that people started speeding at about 80mph past our house. One of them missed me by an inch causing me to flail my arms, screaming and resembling an obese windmill.

And then my belly started seizing up. It felt like someone was pulling my insides in and took my breath away. The good thing is that I live in Newbury and the people are so wonderful that when they seem a woman lying the road in distress...they do absolutely nothing.

Nothing.

In fact, one person sped up, and again, nearly flattened me.

I inched back into the house where the "contractions" faded and I didn't get any more. I am now prepared for the real thing. The people of Newbury however, are not.

Babycalm

I've been so focused on the labour and birth that I forgot that we're going to be parents!

I can only cope with one thing at a time, so we have booked onto a course to ensure that our baby (once it arrives) is calm and relaxed...

www.clairebushell.co.uk/babycalm/

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Home appointment

The new midwife came round to the house today to terrify me. Did I say that? I mean she came round to the house to check that the dining room and my body are ready for the birth of the little bean.

I'd actually taken the little one to a gig last night where it seemed that it shares the same taste in music, dancing vigorously to a folky band that I love. When I got home to tell MrM, he put his hand on my belly and the baby gave such a massive kick that it took his breath away and slightly scared him! It was doing much the same this morning, much to her amusement.

So it transpired this morning that my eating meat has fortunately helped increase my iron to acceptable levels, so the home birth looks like a goer. Or is it? The midwife said she wanted to make me aware that if there aren't enough staff on duty, then into hospital I go. She also said she wasn't entirely sure whether I was going to get any pain relief -good thing I checked! I have to ask the doctor who will prescribe it and then I have to return what's left to the pharmacy as they don't seem to trust me with it! Believe me, I am only going to use it if necessary. The point was to know it's there for peace of mind.

In other news, not long to go at work. My successor has been appointed and my boss told me to book him in at our client for an induction. Not the best word to use in my earshot at the moment.....

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Penultimate antenatal class

I decided that the way to meet as many prospective parents as possible, it would be a good idea to attend all of the antenatal classes I could get my hands on, so even though we finished the NCT ones last week, I attended an NHS birth skills class. To get a rare return on my tax, you see.

MrM decided he couldn't take any more, so he agreed to stay at home and do some DIY. This discussion meant that I was late for the class, so turned up to where I thought it was but found a darkened room with people huddled around a table having a meeting.

It wasn't until I walked away and got called in that I realised this was the class. Are NHS cuts so bad that lights may not be switched on?

So in the dark, I took more notice about WHEN you call the hospital. I have been told this loads of times but have zoned out, thinking that this is MrM's job to remember and implement.

However, this is what I learned:

Stay at home for the latent bit. Contractions are erratic.

Then they get strong and regular and occur every three minutes lasting for a minute. This is when you call the hospital to let them know you're coming in.

Also go in if the waters break or the colour is brown or green.

Go in if the pain is unbearable.

Go in if there are fewer than 10 kicks from the baby in 10 hours.

Go in if you're bleeding or feeling unwell.

What else did I learn today?

1. Put towels and blankets in the car just in case you give birth on the way. Apparently this is very unusual.

2. Labour lasts on average 10 to 20 hours.

3. That they give you a PARKING PERMIT!! If I had known this I might not have gone for a home birth ;)

Friday, 11 November 2011

Bounty website

There are many, many websites dedicated to supporting you throughout your pregnancy. I signed up for lots but ultimately, I find them terrifying!

I do like Bounty though and today while refreshing my brain at work between writing press releases, came across the gender predictor. You enter your age and the month the baby is due.


This is what they said.....



We'll see!

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

The birth plan!

I have wondered whether it's sensible to put my birth plan here, but to heck with it, it's called "a plan" and we all know what happens to the best laid plans.

So here it is in all of its glory. I'd be intrigued to know how closely the birth of your child resembled the plan and what you would do differently next time. If there is indeed a next time.....

Comments welcome!!



General wishes: If all is well with the baby, we'd like to do all we can to give birth at home in a water pool.I'm going to try to keep active where possible and would like to try to have the baby naturally if at all possible, but this being my first, I think it might be sensible to have gas and air, and pethidine on hand just in case.



My main concern is that the baby is healthy.



I have attended a hypnobirthing course and would like to try, as far as possible, to give birth naturally if everything is going well.



I don't mind medical interventions if they are necessary for the well-being of the baby, but would like to be consulted beforehand. If I am not in a position to decide, MrM will step in. We're going to try to keep the atmosphere as calm and peaceful as possible. We might have a Hypnobirthing CD or some music. If it's at night, we'll try to keep the room dim with low lights and candles so I can concentrate. It would be very much appreciated by me if people could talk in reasonably low tones.



We'd request, please, that inducement is only used if the onset of labour is unusually delayed and the baby is in danger. We'd like to consider natural means of inducement; only considering other procedures as a last resort.



If we do need to go to hospital, this would only be if things weren't going to plan, and so we will do whatever it takes to keep the baby healthy.



We'd like to keep the number of people present as low as possible - only MrM and where appropriate, the doula. We'd like to ensure that anyone who is present is cheerful - I will do my best with this too!! We'd also like to minimise discussion on pain tolerance and pain levels where possible, and we'd like as few monitor cables and equipment as possible.



Second stage: As far as possible, I would like to try to breathe the baby out rather than push. I'd obviously like to take our time if possible to avoid tearing. We'd like MrM to catch the baby and if intervention is required (surgical etc), we'd like him to stay with the baby.



Third stage - I am happy to have this induced by injection.



Baby care: If the baby is healthy, I would like to hold him/her as soon as possible before the admin tasks - no need to wipe down etc. I would like MrM to tell me if it's a boy or a girl and to cut the cord (if he is happy to do so) once it's stopped pulsating. I would like the baby to receive Vitamin K orally if possible.



Thank you very much for reading this and for your support.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Last NCT class

We learned all there is to learn about breast-feeding on one afternoon and the next session was post-labour. Which actually sounded to me more horrendous than the birth itself.

After learning about post natal depression, how to spot it and what you can do, we then cheered ourselves up by learning how to change a nappy, how to bathe the baby how to put the baby into its cot to avoid cot death, and how to put it in a sling.



Also how to place them on a roller coaster....



Then we said goodbye and wished each other luck. We will be meeting again - with babies - in the new year!

Friday, 4 November 2011

Breastfeeding

So no tea for me today, and this reminder comes just as I'd bought four massive boxes of teabags (there were on a two for one offer and I thought I'd get through them in no time). I am probably even tetchier than usual as a result.

So unarmed with a fortifying cuppa, I have just opened an email from the course facilitator of this weekend's NCT breastfeeding session. I emailed to let her know in advance that I am coming on my own as MrM is away - just in case there are any partner activities (and also so she doesn't think I'm a single mum. Why this appeared to matter to me yesterday, I don't know. I blame it on the lack of tea).

She sent me a nice reply saying that I could bring someone else if I wanted. It's a very sad reflection on me that I cannot think of one suitable friend from this area who would sit with me patiently through a three-hour session on breast feeding!

Anyone free on Saturday afternoon?!

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Steak!

Disaster! If my iron levels don't improve, then I will not be allowed to have a home birth (for fear of increased likelihood of blood loss).

So this former vegetarian is going to have to eat steak for dinner more often. I think the tea has sneaked back into my diet too, and this has been stopping my body from absorbing the iron that I've been taking religiously.

I've got a few days before my next blood test and think I might even eat the iron and ironing board to improve my chances. It's not like I use them for anything else.

In other news, the previous midwife has disappeared and been replaced. The new one is nice - although I must, must, must remember to double check that there will be some sort of pain relief as she said that pethidine wasn't really used anymore and she wasn't sure how to obtain the diamorphine. Hope she doesn't forget!

The new midwife is coming to check the house in a couple of weeks' time to verify its suitability for a homebirth. Better get cleaning.

"Mumpreneurs"

That's such an awful neologism, but fits last night quite well. The NCT organised an evening where local businesses could showcase their products - they were so lovely that it's almost a relief that I have no money and couldn't buy anything.

It's amazing to see how mums have looked at what they needed to look after their babies and the businesses that have evolved as a result. It means that there are some great businesses with useful products that their founders are passionate about.

The first was Boori
www.boori.co.uk a company that supplies nursery furniture to national companies such as John Lewis. Their cot looked so solid, yet homely and comfortable.

There was a lady from Berkshire Nappies
www.berkshirenappies.co.uk who brought reuseable nappies so I have booked a free two-week trial.

There were some lovely artists - Smallprint jewellery http://www.smallprint.com/ who make keepsakes of the baby's little feet in silver, and likewise, the Little Casting Company
www.littlecastingcompany.co.uk/casting.html who makes casts of the baby's hands, feet and even your pregnant belly (can't imagine she has enough plaster for my enormous bump!)

There were some lovely Snuggisnoozer baby bean bags
www.snuggisnoozer.co.uk
there were so many people looking at these, that I didn't get the opportunity to ask how much they were, and one of the ladies from this stall looked for all the world like the lovely mum who gave me a baby crib, but with dark hair. She didn't appear to recognise me, so just a coincidental doppleganger I think!

There was also a fabulous company called Not Pink
www.notpink.co.uk which is just what I'd been talking about the day before - why is everything for baby girls in garish PINK? They had some lovely products and I had to fight my shopping urges so I didn't buy everything!

Last but not least, Claire who ran our hypnobirthing course and who looks after the local home birth group displayed her range of Neal's Yard products http://www.nealsyardremedies.com and very kindly gave me a couple of samples because she noticed that I was the only person who didn't win anything in the raffle! It smells absolutely divine and it was very sweet of her to notice! I think I got there too early and all of my raffle tickets had ended up at the bottom of the pots!

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Last scan

MrM spent most of the morning waiting for our last scan to see if the placenta has moved out of the way as our last visit showed that there was a chance that I'd have to have a Caesarean. We spent more than an hour waiting and just 5 minutes having the scan, but the good news is that it has moved!

The funny thing is that the baby is quite big (about 5 and a half pounds), so this scan revealed less of its appearance than the previous two. However, the sonographer (or stenographer as MrM called her - I had visions of her typing out everything we said while we were being scanned), remarked that the baby was scowling, but I couldn't see this for some reason.

MrM attributed the baby's scowling to a woman in the waiting room who brought in a little girl with her and then proceeded to ignore her while she called her friend, giving her a vivid description of Sunday when she "see Loretta, that f***ing b****". She continued in this vein for a good hour which was not the most pleasant thing to witness.

Talking of cringeing, MrM's dad has a knack of saying strange things to me. I have been avoiding him throughout the pregnancy, as I was worried he might make an inappropriate comment. He didn't. The first thing he said when I saw him was "How is everything down below?" That's restrained by his standards!

On the same evening, one of MrM's very drunk relatives came over to me and said: "Who the f*** are you?" which isn't the fastest way of endearing yourself to me. He then asked if he could put his hand on my belly. I was just about to give a very clear answer, when MrM wobbled over and said: "Of course!" while lifting my scarf out of the way.

Monday, 31 October 2011

First NCT class

After a night of people constantly asking us why we weren't finding out if we were having a girl or a boy it was a relief to be among couples in the same boat.

"Don't you know? Why don't you know? Aren't you going to find out? We want to buy you a hat and don't know whether to get blue or pink???" etc etc ad nauseum. ARRGH! Don't buy us a hat - just let us have our surprise!!!

Anyway, we were in good company the following day when we attended our first NCT class. Half of the people in our class don't know what they're having either.

It was a useful session with lots of quite detailed information about what to expect - in as far as you can expect anything as everyone is different!

It was quite good fun too, with each man in the group being asked to wear a rucksack on their front to get an idea of how heavy it is to carry a baby around in your womb all day!

The first thing we were asked to do was to get into order of birth date. I initially disputed this because I said that the date was irrelevant and that I'd only been telling people the month. Ironically, I think this might have been the point that was being made. Only 3% of babies arrive on their due date and I am basically ignoring it, despite people wanting to know the exact day (and time?) - it will come when it comes!

We also learned that a very quick labour is not the brilliant experience we are all wishing for and we were asked to make a list of things that will help bring on labour.

pineapple (apparently you need to eat 3-6 of these though and they must be fresh!)
hot bath
Raspberry leaf tea (me)
walking (me)
bouncing
Lavender/clary sage (me)

Swimming
Pressure points
Acupuncture
Shock
Full moon(me)

and two which might aggravate your stomach and therefore clear the way:

Spicy food including curry and ghee
Castor oil

Others include walking up stairs sideways and going out on a bike on cobbles. The mind boggles.

One man pointed out that curry, beer and sex was his ideal night out and how they got the baby in the first place!

MrM's family

8.02pm MrM's mum: "It's definitely a boy - I carried the same way as you with both of my sons!"

8.12pm MrM's cousin: "OMG! Your bump is exactly the same shape as mine was with my three! You're definitely having a girl!"

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

It's a girl!

Well, so my subconscious seems to think as I had a very vivid dream about having a baby girl last night! The funny thing was that I was asleep in my dream, which I didn't think was possible. I woke up, found a baby girl in my arms (who I couldn't remember giving birth to) and then couldn't find my way out of the hospital.

She wasn't wearing socks, I didn't have a hospital bag or phone, but there was a letter from MrM's mum saying "ANOTHER grand-daughter" and MrM wasn't with me, BUT I distinctly recall that I wasn't sore at all. I hope this bodes well!

Monday, 24 October 2011

Another doctor's appointment

All seems to be progressing well with the little one; we're now at 33 weeks and correspondingly, the baby measures 33cm. Its head is 1/5th engaged and the heartbeat sounds strong.

It always amuses me that when I proffer up my obese stomach for MrM to feel a kick, he touches so gently and complains that I'm hurting the baby when I urge him to press down properly to get a feel of the wriggles and movements that are constantly going on in there. The doctor, on the other hand, has a good rummage around my stomach, pressing down firmly, as if weighing up which piece of steak to go for.

WHile he was very jovial and jokey this morning, our appointments do feel like very awkward first dates - especially as he stares a lot and has a tendency to ask me the same questions repeatedly.

"How are your ankles?"

"And your ankles are ok?"

"No swelling in the ankles then?"

Saturday, 22 October 2011

CHildbirth without fear


This ground-breaking book is amazing and has influenced childbirth gurus such as Janet Balaskas, Sheila Kitzinger, Michel Odent and Ina May Gaskin.

It was written in the 1940s by Grantly Dick-Read, an English obsetrician who caused controversy on its publication. It has absolutely changed childbirth as he realised that there was something wrong with traditional methods of delivering babies with too much emphasis on intervention and anesthetics.

It explains the history of childbirth and the one scene that sticks in my mind takes place in a hovel with a woman in labour under an old, dirty skirt. When it comes to delivery, she gently refuses the chloroform that's used and has a natural, discomfort-free birth.

"As I was about to leave, I asked her why she would not use the mask.....She shyly turned to me and said: "It didn't hurt. It wasn't meant to, was it, doctor?"

He starts to ponder why one woman should suffer while another doesn't and comes to the conclusion that it's fear that causes women to constrict their muscles. It's a brilliant read and should be more famous!

A new car



This little chap is one in a month. I'd just bought him a toy car which I'd just wrapped before I'd seen that someone has purchased this beauty!

Am so glad I saw this before I handed the present over! Now what shall I get him?

HELP me please!!

Friday, 21 October 2011

Parents Week Fayre

Another month has passed and it was the local home birth group meeting last night. Although there was no one there who'd just had a home birth and therefore able to tell their story, it was an interesting meeting with two doulas and a trainee midwife.

However, what I did find interesting was an event I happened to spot in this week's newspaper's listings. It was called Parents Week Fayre and provided info on raising children with stalls from council groups such as the toy library, Newbury College, info on nurseries and local support groups. On my way out, I noticed a sign pointing to another part of the community centre where there were talks. I caught the end of one on drugs (where they demonstrated that the further they go down the chain of sale, the smaller the proportion of actual drugs and the more Ajax/baby milk/baby powder there is in it.

Unfortunately, I was the only person there for the first talk, so it was really a chat between me and a lovely lady from the council who talked to me about the government's initiative to remind parents about parenting in the same way that they're reminded to eat five pieces of fruit and vegetables a day.

The checklist reads:

1. Read to your child for at least 15 minutes a day.

I'd like to think that this should be obvious, but I guess when you get busier that this could get neglected. Not only is it valuable learning and together time, but reading helps children develop their vocabulary, their memory development and their literacy.

2. PLay with your child on the floor for 10 minutes a day

Again this is obvious, but the point is that you get down to the same level as your child, helping them with the "serve and return" of communication and relationships. It helps them build happy memories.

3. Talk to your child with the TV off for 20 minutes a day.

MrM and I have been discussing for some time whether or not we should get rid of the TV. Funnily enough, the lady leading the discussion said: "The children at school who don't have TVs are always...."

I interjected (and I don't normally do this!) "geniuses"!! At that same moment, the adjective she came up with was "weird".

She suggested that if you monitor TV viewing and watch it together, then rather than making the child goggle-eyed, it can provide something to discuss and ask questions about.

4. Have a positive attitude towards your child and praise them frequently.

She suggest telling them what to do, rather than what not to do, congratulate them on being good and ensure you praise them for effort as well as ability.

5. Give your child a nutritious daily diet.

I was munching on the free biscuits when we came to this one....

Parents of the year....

This has been floating around the interweb. I feel much better now! Having said that, what's not to love about the woman on the Segway - that's ingenius!!
































Thursday, 20 October 2011

The Waterbirth Book




The Waterbirth Book by Janet Balaskas is going back to the library today - it's been a useful read and has made me feel better about my decision to try to have the baby in a water pool.

I remember at school when I suffered terribly from period pains that matron suggested that I get into a bath in sickbay and I remember the pain relief almost gave me a sense of euphoria. I would say that swimming is my favourite sport as well, so I think water really is the place for me.

This book tells of women in the South Pacific giving birth in shallow sea water and how waterbirths have become increasingly more popular since the 1980s. The book recommends not getting in until you're 5cm dilated (which involved an examination I guess - boo) but that it gives you a bit of privacy in your own private birth space. It also helps you maintain certain birth positions such as kneeling, squatting and standing up by providing buoyancy and helps with blood pressure and relaxation. Giving birth in water means you're less likely to tear as the water helps soten the area around the baby's head.

Some recommendations:

1. Pregnancy must be of normal term.

2. There must be only one baby.

3. Baby must be in a head-down position.

4. Spontaneous rupture of membranes must have been less than 24 hours ago.

All I need to do now is ensure we can fill the pool up and not get the carpet too wet!

Big Issue

I got admonished by the Eastern European Big Issue seller in town just now because I'd bought this week's copy from another vendor. I did apologise, although I didn't realise that she and I had agreed to be exclusive - that awkward place in an early relationship I guess.

I think she felt a bit bad for being a bit rude, as she then brightened and congratulated me on being pregnant (I have been trying to disguise it recently but the bump has reached a size where it can now qualify for its own postcode.)

"Are you having a boy or a girl?" she asked.

"I don't know yet," I said.

She looked disgusted. "Haven't you been to hospital?"

This is about the 20th time this week I've been given the "what's wrong with you" look for not finding out. A few years ago, this was not an option - you found out on the day of the birth! I don't mind change and technological advancement and have no quibble with people who want to know in advance (except those who terminate because the sex is "wrong", obviously), but are there no surprises left in life anymore?

I can imagine on the day of the birth - "it's a girl!" -
"Yes, we know - you told us after the scan!"

Would you/did you find out? Are you happy you did/didn't?

Car

I've been asked to hand my company car back while I'm on maternity leave. This is a bit of a pain as my car is brilliantly safe and has all the requisite ISOFIX safety points. I'll now be driving an ageing camper van which has no seatbelts in the back and I fear was manufactured before ISOFIX was invented! Am looking forward to exploring this later today - but have a funny feeling that a baby seat and the front seat of the van will not be compatible.

This is not the end of the world however, as I think life without a car will be strangely liberating - not to say cheaper! I did cope happily living in Hong Kong, Toronto and Tokyo without transport, although the town where we live does not really have transport infrastructure to compare! I still feel terrible dumping my mum at the bus station here to get a bus to Oxford (which is about 20 miles away). Hours later when I went to pick her up, she revealed that there was no such thing as a bus to Oxford from here and that she'd spent the day in our local shopping centre!!

How have you coped with walking and public transport with a young baby? Any tips would be welcome!!

Monday, 17 October 2011

Football and yoga

The baby seems to enjoy sticking its foot up behind my ribs which is, needless to say, fairly uncomfortable. MrM didn't appreciate quite how painful until I explained that it felt like a rolling pin sticking out lengthways. However, I went to another yoga session which seemed to help...for a while.

The teacher is on her third pregnancy which is a good sign and I really enjoyed a birth story that she read out from someone who advocated dancing throughout the labour. For some reason, I pictured her doing the "mashed potato" around the house, but I think it's the slow dance that you can do with your husband, and general movement that helps.

The yoga really seems to be helping with learning how to control the breathing which I hope in turn will prove invaluable for the labour. I do seem to sleep better after a yoga session and have been enjoying the wonderful "Yoga in pregnancy" book that my sister bought for me.

It also seems to be helping with the pelvic pain that has got progressively worse this week. Think it's a sign to slow down!

Last hypnobirthing class

So we should be set! Five classes have flown by and we've come to the end of the course. The final class was a good one with a birth rehearsal that made us all feel a bit more relaxed and ready. Having said that, we watched a video of a hypnobirthing class and I made a comment about how noisy the woman was and how I'd like to achieve a state of higher relaxation and I got told off by MrM when I got home!

Apart from that, we've been left to continue practising our breathing and visualisation techniques, before speaking to two couples who came in with their babies having completed the course recently. One couple coped very well, despite having some horrendous news the day before the birth, and while the other couple's experience wasn't perfect, it was interesting to note that the course had empowered them and prevented them from going down a highly medicalised route. The moral of the story here was to speak up if you're not happy with the hospital's decision, as they will take notice and try to accomodate your wishes.

The two babies were incredibly cute, so another plus is that if the birth isn't too pleasant, it will be well worth it in the end....

Thursday, 13 October 2011

SPD/Pelvic Girdle Pain

While my hypnobirthing teacher would disagree, I say there's no harm in getting used to a bit of pain in anticipation of "B"-Day!

So it's with a bit of relief actually that I recently discovered that the grinding pain I've had in my pelvis for the past couple of months is a normal side effect of pregnancy and even has a name - SPD.

This has been noticeably worse this week as I've done lots of driving, walking and stretching to paint various nooks and crannies around our house. It seems to be at its worst when I get out of bed or turn over, and as I crawled in agony to the bathroom at 3am this morning, MrM wasn't sure whether I needed help or to be laughed at.

Apparently, massage can help and there is a range of eyepopping gadgets that you can buy to help, from a "monkey pole" to help you turn over at night, to long handled sponges for washing your feet. Somehow when I looked at this shopping list, I decided that the pain wasn't actually that bad....


If you have the same, try this:
http://www.babycentre.co.uk/pregnancy/antenatalhealth/physicalhealth/pelvicpain/

and

www.pelvicpartnership.org.uk

Slings and roundabouts

I managed to find yet another facet of having a baby that I am absolutely clueless about - last night's trip to "Working Bumps" was a session with an improbably young mother-of-three who talked us through four different types of sling.

Armed with a very helpful baby, she demonstated the "close" wrap first. I think this is my favourite, although it looks like a two-man job to tie it up and get the baby in it. I can imagine that after struggling to get the baby in it, it will then be time to get it out again to change its nappy....

www.greenjellyshop.co.uk/Baby-Slings-and-Carriers/Stretchy-baby-wraps/Close-Baby-Carrier/prod_114.html

Not sure what they were trying to say here: "The design of the carrier ensures that the......."

The next was the Mei tai sling which looks quite secure; a ring sling (www.littlepossums.co.uk/slings/ring-slings.htm), which seems to put more pressure on one shoulder than the other. I already get that from my handbag, so perhaps if I put it over the other shoulder, there's a balance to be gained here.

The last one was the wrap www.bigmamaslings.co.uk/zen-cart/moby-wrap-sling-p-346.html, which was simply made of a long, strong piece of material. I worry about tying the knots tightly enough, but this could be the one for me.

The lady who demonstrated, was using a real baby, so I felt had to rush through the demos a little bit, but she was very helpful and great at answering practical questions, and also recommended waiting until the baby arrives before buying one, to ensure that the baby is happy with it as well.

She also suggested that those baby carriers that look quite robust are better for going out rather than staying in the house as they restrict your movement and make it difficult to bend over. I am thinking about getting a sling so that I can clean, cook and do all of the things that I used to do!

To stop myself from laughing while one prospective dad wrestled with a doll, I went to get a glass of water. The sight of this dad picking the "baby" up by the neck, and dislocating its leg to get it into the sling made me laugh so much (probably because it hit so close to home and that's what I'll end up doing with the real thing), was just so funny that I thought I'd move away rather than appear to be rude.

The lid of the water said "please ensure you lift the lid before pouring" which I read but ignored for some reason. The upshot was water EVERYWHERE, ensuring that all eyes were on me, not the wrestler Big Daddy, with one person asking me if my waters had broken....

Monday, 10 October 2011

Labour pain

I've got a long list of affirmations that I must type out and stick around the house when I've got a mo, but in the meantime, I thought I would note down some of the observations about labour pain that I've just been reading:

1. It WILL stop when the baby arrives!

2. It's "productive pain"

3. There are pain free bits

4. Your body is producing endorphins to manage the pain

5. Drugs ARE an option - there are no prizes for not taking them if you need them!!

The other list that caught my eye in this book was the list of natural feelings after the birth. Women are usually:

1. Thrilled that it's over.

2. Worried about the baby

3. Surprised at the look, feel and funny smell of the baby.

4. AStonished that a real baby came out.

5. Relieved that they haven't split in two

6. Worried about their partner

7. Immediately ready to call relatives!

8. Now ready to panic about what to do next!

Phew.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

1950s midwifery

I was working ooooop north this week and so had the opportunity to go and see a very dear friend of my mum. She (not my mum!) is 95 and one of the nicest people I've ever had the pleasure of meeting. She's super fit, her mind is active (she was able to correct the directions that her daughter had given me to the restaurant we went to), and until last year was jetting off on holiday all over the world.

Unfortunately, she had a couple of heart issues a month or so ago, although she looked very well when I saw her. This problem meant that she spent a week in hospital, where she told me she struggled to do nothing but stay in bed. One of the nurses asked her when she had last spent any time in hospital.

"1939" she said, which is when she had her first child. Her second was born at home, as was the norm in those days, so she was very interested when I told her that my big plan was to avoid the hospital.

When you think these days that you call the midwife and they ask you to wait until it's unbearable before you drive in, it's incredible to hear about the old days. Often, a husband would appear at the house (no phone lines back then) having arrived by horse and cart after being dispatched by a wife in labour.

My lovely grandma was a rural midwife who would often cycle to houses or climb mountains on foot - sometimes by torchlight, deliver a baby and return home. We climbed one of these recently in daylight and I kept falling into the bog and got so bitten by midges, wet and miserable that I didn't make it to the summit, but retired to the pub to wait for everyone else.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

The one where I interrupt a relaxation session

More hypnobirthing today and I was quite pleased that some of the others questioned whether it was working and whether we were doing it "right".

Even the teacher felt that way when she first started it, but watching more birth videos and seeing a woman breathe out her baby and immediately say she "enjoyed it and would do it again" was reassuring.

We did another deep relaxation, and I could feel my fingers tingling, the sensation of the teacher's words drifting away and then "RING!" - much to my mortification, my phone rang!!

I could have sworn I'd turned it off! I ran out of the room to turn it off and came back in almost in tears at my stupidity. However, the teacher was keen to let it go and kept talking. What a fool I am.

I did feel a bit better at the end of the session when two of the dads put their chairs back fully reclined and were snoring in sync which made the mums laugh!

Breast feeding class



I think it's the first time that I've been accompanied anywhere by Big Ted, but nonetheless, he was the one who came with me to a class today.

The class was on how to feed your baby, and was held at our local hospital in meeting room 1. I remember this distinctly because meeting room 1 was the very last room that I entered as no one thought it pertinent to tell you where meeting 1 was. Still nice to get a tour of the hospital and all of its wards.

After I'd settled in arriving breathlessly in the room, we were invited to tell everyone our names, due date and where you were having the baby. As I was vague about my due date, I thought I'd be ultra specific about the place.

"We're hoping to have the baby at home", I said, adding: "in the dining room".

The class was brilliant, and facilitated by a very funny and lively midwife who advocated breastfeeding for the following reasons:

Babies who breastfeed have fewer instances of diarrhoea and vomiting
Fewer chest and ear infections
Babies tend not to be so fussy about new food
Less likely to be constipated
Less likely to be obese
Less likely to develop eczema.

It's also good for the mother too as it costs less, helps with bonding and lowers the risk of cancer. Happily for fat ol' me, it also helps with weightloss.

So if that's the case, why doesn't everyone do it?

Well, there are problems with drugs being passed on and sometimes it can be painful, so the next part of the class was to show that if does indeed hurt, there are ways of improving positions and latching on to ensure it feels natural.

With the help of a knitted breast, we were shown how to get into position and how to hold the baby. The baby be positioned "nose-to-nipple" and should get a big mouthful of breast from underneath the nipple. Its chin should press into the breast and his/her cheeks should stay rounded during sucking, while rhythmically swallowing.

Now that's where Big Ted came in. He was the only teddy that I could find in the house and a good three times bigger than any of the other dolls and teddies that other people had brought.

"If your baby is that big, that I hate to tell you that you're not going to be having it in your dining room," the midwife joked.

We were then shown how to express milk - amazing to think of the body's ability to do this when necessary - and then with a nappy of the knitted variety, were shown what the poo will look like.

A brilliant session - so much more useful and interesting than I'd anticipated!

More info here:

www.laleche.org.uk

www.babyfriendly.org.uk

Monday, 3 October 2011

MrM comes to Hypnobirthing

It was my third class and the first one that MrM could attend. It's amazing how much better and more supported I felt with him there, and he blended right in, getting on well with the other dads and doing a fabulous job when it came to one bit of the class where our partners read from a piece of paper so the mums could do the relaxation technique.

The dads were also invited to practise "Light touch massage" and the two techniques combined nearly sent me off to sleep, so relaxed was I!

After watching a lovely gentle birth, where the couple was so completely relaxed that the baby was born with what appeared to be a smile on its face, we realised the importance of creating a mix tape in anticipation of the birth. This particular couple in th video favoured Elton John which had MrM singing "Tiny Dancer" all the way home!!

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Congratulations

A lovely message from someone I know - I shall focus on this when times get difficult!!

It says: "Thrilled for you both - best time of your life. Pass my congrats on to MrM too - you'll make fabulous parents - lucky baby to be chosen from the shelf for you two. Can't wait to meet the little one."

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

What's the sieve for?



I have booked a doula to mop my brow during the birth and last night she came around for dinner to meet MrM for the first time. I wanted to ensure they did not get along at all so that they'd argue during the birth and it would take my mind off what I'm supposed to be doing.

Gah - they got on really well.

MrM and I fired lots of questions at her, and I went through my list of things to pack. I am not planning to go to hospital, and if I have a bag ready to go, to my mind, this will ensure that it's not needed! She also outlined some things that we'd need to have about the house; ice cubes, buckets, arnica cream, maternity pads...yes, yes, yes, thousands, thanks to my sister who stocked me up last week!

Then she asked me if we had a sieve.

Oh no, we don't use them, we've got tea bags I said, thinking she was talking about a tea strainer.

She laughed and explained what is was for, making my face fall.

"It's not a big deal" she said.

But it IS! I remember having to write a story for the local paper about a little boy who did a poo at the swimming pool, necessitating an evacuation (of the pool, I mean!) and the closure of the pool for cleaning. So it is something I would like to avoid.

No sieves please, we're British.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Pamper evening

The pamper evening organised by the NCT was fabulous and could not have come at a better time! Fortunately it did turn about to be the chance to try out various treatments and not an evening about nappies!

I had a very gentle back, neck and shoulder massage which helped with my stressful week at work, and I also enjoyed a bit of reflexology which I actually found much more beneficial - probably because the bump gets in the way of massages at the moment. AS well as being relaxing, the therapist claimed that regular reflexology treatments can reduce the length of labour by FOUR HOURS!!

It's quite expensive, but if that's true, it would be worth coughing up! Although I haven't got anything to moan about as everything has gone smoothly so far, I haven't had a proper night's sleep for a week now as the baby (which has previously been playing football in the womb) now seems to be kicking the ball against my ribs, so having a nice foot massage is just the ticket!

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Wedgie

Look at this advert:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=CDKQ9YWlwBo

How easy does it look to change a nappy? There's no disposal of the soiled one, no crying, no wriggling, no need to take the nappy off and put it back again and no wrestling with poppers to get at it in the first place.

I make it sound awful, but I offered to change my nephew's nappy this morning. I was blessed as it was wet but not dirty, and he kept smiling for my three attempts.

The first time I put it on the wrong way round. The second time, the nappy fell down when I stood him up and the third time was perfect! Or so I thought. Fortunately, before a code brown situation, my sister noticed that lil nephew's buttocks were on display and that I had given him a wedgie.

I look forward to telling MrM that I obviously won't be changing any nappies when our little one arrives as I have no natural aptitude for it!

Thank you sis!

It's Christmas here at the McBaby household! I could not feel more prepared for the little one after a visit from my sister and her lovely little boy. She's been actively sourcing great things for me that were preloved by the nephew, his cousins and friends with babies of the same age. My living room now boasts a chair, a car seat, a pushchair, lots of clothes, a breast pump (at least that's what I think it is; it could equally be for sticking Garfield toys in the rear window of the car?).

Not only did she provide it, she also delivered it to the house! This is fantastic - this stuff would cost thousands, but here it is all free and in great condition. And as well as obtaining free bits and bobs, she drove me to Mothercare where she stocked me up on more goodies, such as pads, toys and nappies (meanwhile, under our dad's guardianship, the nephew stocked up on bruises! Two in an hour on his little forehead while he was exploring various displays!). SHe also talked me through things that would be useful, explained that some things aren't necessary and suggested makes and brands that she got on well with.

This is so useful. It can be utterly mind boggling to stand in a baby shop, not knowing where to start! My sister was a million times more helpful than the staff in the shop and has a second career awaiting in personal shopping services for first time mums!

I am ready now. All I need is a baby!

Monday, 19 September 2011

The role of the dad

MrM is away for a couple of weeks and I've sorely missed him. Not only is he lovely company, but he's been great with ensuring my bump is moisturised, and that he talks to the baby, either reading to it, singing to it, or telling the baby how loved it is (and will be).

So it made me laugh to read a list in a great, practical book, called "Blooming birth". (I initially thought it said "Blooming birth", in the style of "Merry Blooming Christmas" www.youtube.com/watch?v=upu1TslhOHE but I now realise it's blooming as in flowers...

It's an extremely practical book - it pulls no punches in telling you that labour is blooming hard work and will hurt. It also contains advice that I hadn't heard before, such as how you'll need to take your contact lenses out when in labout, and advice on going to the toilet after the birth. Pretty gruesome, but better to know now than be unpleasantly surprised later on.

anyway, here's their list for the father when labour begins:

1. Be sure to do practical things such as driving your partner (gently) to the hospital.

2. Pack the camera and take pictures.

3. Mop your partner's brow.

4. Don't chat through contractions.

5. Don't forget to eat and then faint

6. Don't boss her around.

7. DOn't watch the baby coming out so intently that you forget about your partner.

8.Encourage her to adopt positions that are gravity friendly

9. Guard her space and ensure she gets what she wants, such as peace and quiet.

10. Ask questions if she's not able to, but don't get caught up in facts and figures.

11. Encourage her, especially through interventions.

12. Most importantly; be there and tell her you love her.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Circus Mum

www.circusmums.com

I met the utterly fabulous Circus Mum the other day - her blog is named to reflect the juggling, tightrope walking, somersaulting and clowning that goes with being a working mum. She made me howl with laughter with tales of her three-year-old daughter who insists on telling people that she's five, and made me realise for the first time that there is life after the birth! I've been so focused on being pregnant and getting through the birth that I'd forgotten that I was going to have a baby and also that this baby will grow into a child!

Circus Mum's daughter, the Princess, is quite a character, having forced HER to sit on the naughty step to contemplate how she'd interrupted her daughter; and unbelievably at the age of eight months, initiated an escape down the stairs having clambered out of her cot by stacking up her toys so she could climb up.

I'm looking forward to being able to share some of these stories in the not-too-distant future! In the meantime though, this is a lovely post from Circus Mum which sums up how I feel about forthcoming parenthood!!

http://www.circusmums.com/2010/10/omg-i-have-kid.html

The Streak and Peter Rabbit

I was away with work last week and picked up some children's books - ostensibly for the baby, but really for me.

One of these was Peter Rabbit which MrM then proceeded to read to the bump with great creativity. I enjoyed it. I think the baby did too, although if it really had been listening as intently as its mum, it would jumped more overtly at the appearance of Mr MacGregor wielding a rake and shouting "Stop thief!"

Having said that, Beatrix Potter's masterpiece went down better than an excerpt from "Principles of Financial Management" the week before, and the reading is something I want to encourage. I am an absolute book fiend and MrM would be if he had more time on his hands. We would like the baby to go in the same direction, but perhaps avoiding the route marked "geek" which was where I went.

I then happened to spot this article in the Guardian Family section about a girl whose father read to her every night until she went to University. It didn't seem to do her any harm....

www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2011/sep/10/alice-ozma-dad-read-every-night?INTCMP=SRCH

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Save the Children blogging conference

Thanks to the fabulous blogger katetakes5.blogspot.com I happen to be at a conference organised by Save the Children to promote blogging and their "No Child Born to Die" campaign.

I have realised that I have been completely self indulgent over the last few months. I nodded sagely when I heard on the radio that there is a shortage of 4,700 midwives in the UK. Try multiplying that by a factor of 10 in the world's poorest countries. We've been hearing stories today on women in Africa who have to walk for four hours to get to their nearest hospital when their child is sick. Or they can take the bus to get immunisations - the cost of the bus being a week's wages. When they get there, they have to camp in the hospital grounds while the child gets treatment.

Food for thought. I am not going to complain again about any midwifery services I receive....

Friday, 16 September 2011

The tube

Someone gave up their seat on the tube for me! I was so stunned that I laughed and said I was fine. What an upstanding young man. I hope his mum was pleased.

Home birth story

MrM and I trotted off into town for the monthly meeting of local people who are interested in home births. We thought there would be lots of people, but it was just us and a couple with a newborn. They'd kindly come back to share their experiences of how it all went and this is the kind of story I need to hear more often!

The little one had a very unusual name and it's one that I had suggested to MrM only to get his usual disdainful response! I still really like it though and it really suited this lovely little chap. The couple seemed pleased with my endorsement too!

It was the husband's first child and the wife's second. It appeared that she'd not had the best experience first time round, but boy did she make up for it this time. Labour lasted three hours and sounded painless with the midwife being supportive although she arrived just minutes before the baby made his appearance. It sounded so peaceful and idyllic and it was clear that the baby was calm and happy thanks to his wonderful entrance.

As well as describing this, they had practical advice for MrM on filling up the pool, calling the hospital and registering the birth.

Well worth attending; only a shame that more people didn't hear the story.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Head down.

Just had a very positive meeting with our midwife. MrM as ever, accompanied me, after calling his office to tell them that he would be a bit late because he had a midwife appointment, which caused one or two raised eyebrows in his office.

Blood pressure is ok, baby's heartbeat is strong, the baby measures exactly what it should - despite the midwife noticing a massive change in the size of my bump! I told the midwife about a little mishap that I had last week and reassured me with a little giggle that you can't snap the baby's spine by bending over too fast - sounds ridiculous but I'd been lying awake worrying about it. I do my best worrying at night.

She was extremely receptive to our home birth and very positive about our hypnobirthing, saying that the last two she did were lovely. She did ask me if we had CDs and said that they start to drive you mad if you keep replaying them; something which had occured to me when I put mine on repeat to get me to sleep the other night!

Monday, 12 September 2011

Parenting by Modern Family



I remember a friend of mine being surprised that I knew what a Braxton-Hicks contraction was when she was telling me about her recent experience. I just nodded sagely and didn't tell her that my knowledge of these came from Friends! Thanks Rachel!

www.youtube.com/watch?v=NW-Pfcrt3JI

Now I have my own little one coming, I've now noticed just how much of my knowledge comes from watching TV! Take Modern Family for example, one of my favourite US comedies, and its parenting tips:

1. www.youtube.com/watch?v=6KMOwBBT6iA

Be down with the kids. As Phil calls it: "Peerenting".

2. www.youtube.com/watch?v=dhwV1x18fdo

That MrM and I need to paint a mural in the nursery so the baby knows that we're always watching over it.

3. www.youtube.com/watch?v=MHZNOYF4WO0

If you want a girl and get a boy, best not to put make up on him...

4. No need to be dramatic when the family meets the baby for the first time...

www.youtube.com/watch?v=nkr3Pi6ipvg

5. ....Or when you accidentally lock the baby in the car: www.youtube.com/watch?v=FEq9kTyIXCU&NR=1

6. "you just stare down at them; let the eyes do the work"

www.youtube.com/watch?v=jy-BZb1-5ZI

7. Encourage your children to follow in the same career footsteps as you:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=ipas_8BwWUc

8. Don't take children to a horror movie...

9. You can shoot your children to punish them...

10. Most importantly...99% is just showing up....