Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Post-natal Treats

A little while ago I blogged about the things I was looking forward to post-birth. I forgot a couple of minor points.

Number 5 on the list, I was sceptical about. I mentioned that I was looking forward to a good night's sleep... but of course it wasn't likely to happen with a newborn baby in the room. Thankfully, I had at least one good night's sleep in the week leading up to the birth... so I guess that's going to have to last me for a while.

What I had specifically forgotten is that there's a tendency to sleep a little lighter with a baby in the room. I'm always conscious of keeping one ear on alert. And as this baby has been particularly keen on sleeping in mummy's arms, there have been a few nights of having to remain conscious enough not to move in my sleep. Which resulted in some early day serious sleep deprivation.

The other, arguably worse, point that I was completely foolish to forget was number 6. I was looking forward to cuddling the toddler without worrying about him kicking me in the bump. Well, as worrying as that was, it wasn't anywhere near as painful as him giving me a good squeeze around the chest now. My poor swollen bosom.

It's not just at cuddle time that I have to fear for my mammories, he likes to kiss his little brother often and has a tendency to 'lean' on mummy in order to reach. OUCH!

As for the rest of the list though, I can happily say I have completed every item on it and most enjoyed the boiled egg, brie and grape baguette and the laying flat on my back. It certainly helps with the chronic shoulder ache!

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Baby Blues

So many posts to write and so little time...

I had the baby. Did you notice? I was on twitter (@InceyWinceyMum) from waters breaking on Friday evening until I was rushed onto the labour ward at 6.15pm on Saturday 4th December. Elliot was born just 45 minutes later and InceyDaddy had taken a photo and posted it for me 5 minutes later.

But we'll cover the birth story later. If I don't talk about the here and now, NOW, I'll miss out on it entirely. And there is SO much going on here and now as anyone who's ever been a new parent will understand.

Well the 4th day baby blues really kicked in yesterday. I think I got them on day 3 last time. But I was also forced to plug myself into a breast pump 8 times a day from the day after Felix was born, so maybe my milk came in sooner.

I could tell my milk was beginning to come in on Tuesday evening and on Wednesday morning, after another night of very little sleep, I just lay in bed crying. I wanted to stay there all day, try to sleep and cry some more. I was getting ready to give up. I just needed to sleep and then I knew everything would be better, but when breastfeeding, you can't just walk away from the baby for a few hours. Although I was beginning to consider the alternatives so that I could have those precious few hours to recuperate.

You see, the last time I slept properly was a week ago. Then, I spent a night in labour, a night on a labour ward with a new baby who slept, but other people's babies keeping me awake, then it was Elliot's turn to keep me up. And as he doesn't seem to be able to settle in his own bed (only at night, he's fine in the day), he's been in bed with me every night since. You just don't sleep the same when you have the responsibility of keeping a tiny baby safe in your arms. Deep sleep just doesn't happen.

He was still in bed with me last night, but I did finally sleep a little better. Maybe the tiredness got the better of me.

Therefore, even if the 'baby blues' wasn't a given part of having a new baby, I think I'd have been feeling pretty low yesterday.

On top of the lack of sleep, I also have this horrendous pain in my shoulder. I completely forgot about this for a few days (probably due to the quantity of pain relief I was taking) but my shoulder hurt before I went into labour. No idea what I might have done to it but it is, of course, getting much worse now I'm carrying a baby around and tensing up all the time! Even yawning makes it hurt.

And I miss my toddler. Now I'm back home and I'm with him, I still miss him. I miss him being the centre of my world. He seems to have reciprocated my lack of attention which means it's even more difficult for me to spend time with him when I'm available. At least he seems to adore his little brother.

This morning's little outburst of tears was the polar opposite... I lay in bed with my new baby in my arms and my toddler cuddled in next to me and I started blubbing because I'm so fortunate. I have two amazing little boys who I love very much.

I guess I shall just succumb to the emotional roller coaster of the next few days and look forward to everything settling down soon.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Man Flu and a Show

I have man flu. It's official. I know it's just a cold, but it's the worst cold I've ever had. Have been totally knocked for six and want to just wallow in bed all day.

I woke up feeling fine on Thursday, but by the end of the day it was already 'really bad'. And I barely slept Thursday night. Friday was spent snoozing on the sofa, napping and then off to bed early. Not that I went to sleep early. I reckon I got about 4 hours sleep for the 4th night running and today have been feeling just as terrible.

Only this morning, whilst daddy and toddler were out burning off some energy at soft play and in the snow, I had a show.

It wasn't quite how I expected a show to be (of course last time, my waters broke and that was the first I knew that anything was happening). I noticed a bit of colour in my undies (sorry fellas) so had a good look at the loo roll when I went for a wee. Nothing. Stood up and there sunk down at the bottom of the water was a lightly red/brown squiggly looking thing. Eeek!

So after texting hubby with the good news, I settled myself back in bed and started timing contractions. Not for the first time. They seemed to be fairly regular at 15 minute intervals, but after hubby got home, I missed a couple, or they didn't happen. Eventually I decided that sleep was the best thing for me so I went off for my nap and ignored anything else. Haven't really noticed anything since either. But at least a show suggests it's going to happen soon.

Maybe, if my body is really good to me, it will recover from man flu before it goes into labour.

Although, now I've had a sign that it's imminent, I'm quite excited at the prospect of having a November baby instead of adding to the endless birthdays in the month of December. Fingers crossed.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

A step backwards?

So as I read on facebook about how my next door neighbour has successfully potty trained her boy who is 6 months younger than mine, I am considering taking the backwards step of returning my toddler from his big boy's bed to his cot.

Is this a bad idea?

He loves his big bed but only uses it at night time as there was no way he was going to stay put in it for his midday nap. So he still has the cot in his bedroom and sleeps in it every day. But his night time departures from the big bed seem to be on the increase and as I, at 37 weeks pregnant, become more and more in need of my sleep, I can't help but think it would be easier if he was back in the cot and unable to get out.

If there seemed to be a reason for his night time wanderings, a bad dream, loss of a toy, too cold, I would be more lenient. But I honestly think he's just stirring a little and then getting out of bed because he can. He comes straight to our room, straight to my side of the bed (well, it is nearest the door) and tries to climb in with me.

And do you know what... in the middle of the night when I don't have the energy to wake up and return him, I'd happily let him snuggle up and stay with me. If only that were possible. Unfortunately, my toddler and co-sleeping just don't go together. He thinks our bed is for playing in. On the odd occasion we've given him the chance to sleep with us, he's got more and more wriggly and more and more awake until we've had a big fight on our hands to get him back in his room and asleep.

I just can't help but think, that when there's a new baby in the house, disturbing everyone by crying, that the night time escapades will just increase and be more difficult to deal with. But is returning to the cot cheating? Is it likely to cause further problems when the time comes that the new baby needs the cot? Will it confuse him to his detriment?

Monday, 8 November 2010

The Little Long Lost Luxuries

Whilst in the depths of late pregnancy, experiencing fatness like I have never experienced before, I thought I'd cheer myself up with a little list. It also whiled away some of the hours spent sitting around in hospital last week (the ones where I wasn't asleep anyway).

So here are the Top Ten things I'm looking forward to when I'm no longer pregnant. And I've not mentioned anything about the baby, cause that's a bit obvious (and I'm not the gushy type)!!

1. A brie and grape baguette - I'm craving it purely because I can't have it.

2. Laying flat on my back - I manage about 5 mins at the moment before I feel bad about squashing whichever artery it is and reducing everyone's blood flow.

3. Reaching my feet - not struggling to put shoes on.

4. Boiled egg and soldiers - in my new egg cups I got from Jamie at Home. Y.U.M.

5. A good night's sleep - ok, I'll have a newborn, who am I kidding?!? One day, maybe.

6. Cuddling my toddler without fearing for my bump - those kicky legs are just WAY out of control.

7. Walking upstairs without having to rest at the top - seriously exhausting work. If only we had a downstairs loo.

8. Being able to distinguish where ankle stops and foot begins - actually, they're not that badly swollen at the moment, but I'm sure this will soon change again.

9. Picking things up from the floor - well it'd be nice if I had no need to, but with a small child and small toys, it's an inevitable task. And one that is almost a complete physical impossibility at present.

10. Having my husband at home for a few days - it may not be the pleasant, relaxing experience I'm hoping for but it'll be nice to have adult company for a few days running anyway as I'm not managing to get out so much anymore.

Anyone else who's expecting... what are you missing the most or looking forward to post-birth?

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Remember Remember the 4th of November

Thursday 4 November started off as a seemingly normal day. I was happily making some lunch for the husband to take to work (point-scoring) when I suddenly needed to take a break to sit down.

Then I went to the loo. Then I went for a lie-down.

Something wasn't right. I just felt extra tired and had a bit of lower backache and.... oh, hang on. I'm not, I can't be...

I hinted to Paul that I didn't want him to go to work. I cried a lot. And eventually we agreed he would go to the office and get his laptop, call me and if I still wanted him home, he'd come back and could work from here if needs be.

Well, I called him and said I'd just had a bout of diarrhoea and he jumped straight in the car to come back to me, knowing this could be a real sign of impending labour.

I was having a few contractions, probably just braxton hicks, but the thing I couldn't figure out, was that I felt really really sick too. I wasn't really sure if this happens in labour and it hadn't happened to me last time. In the meantime I completely emptied my bowels and we called the hospital. They suggested it could be an upset tummy and I should hang on at home for a while, if contractions started coming regularly and more painfully then I should go in.

Then I was sick. Real 'body trying to empty itself' sick. And I felt a lot better. I sat downstairs and watched a bit of telly with the poor neglected toddler and when he'd had his lunch and headed off for a nap, I headed off to bed too. I was still having contractions, but assumed they were just braxton hicks and tried to get some rest to see if they calmed down.

My next vomit was so intense - and with nothing left in my stomach to come out - that I woke the toddler prematurely from his nap. Several more vomits followed, each one coming on so suddenly that I was glad to have the sick bucket to hand on my dash to the bathroom.

We started timing the contractions at about 4pm and for the next 3 hours they didn't stop. But they weren't regular. Sometimes the gap would be 2 minutes, sometimes 10. But they did not stop. We rang the community midwife who insisted we go to hospital so we arranged childcare, and off we went.

The car journey seemed to make the contractions more regular, frequent and intense. At this point I was feeling really glad we'd decided to go. But once we got into hospital and they'd taken a swab (yes, more probing down below), they confirmed that I was not in labour and it was probably the irritation of the tummy bug making my womb contract.

A doctor fitted me up with a canular in my wrist and due to my dislike of blood, the discomfort it caused and my predisposed vomit situation, I threw up whilst he took samples from me. Then I was hooked up to a drip to rehydrate me as my urine sample was showing all sorts of nasty things from the bug and the total lack of anything else in me.

Eventually, after a very long wait (and dull for Paul as I'd drifted off to sleep), I was moved down to the maternity ward at midnight. Paul came home (where he had to sleep in a musty old sleeping bag as mum hadn't been able to find our spare duvet!!) and I got a bit of sleep whilst sweltering in the heat, unable to get to a window as I was connected to things.

Friday was spent at hospital having a few checks, sleeping lots, eating a bit at a time and awaiting discharge home. Around lunchtime, my urine showed that I was still burning off my own body fat (I know, sounds like a positive thing, but really it's quite bad) instead of burning off sugar so I was asked to stay in until teatime to provide another sample for checking. But given my odd love for hospital food, this was hardly a problem for me.

And I managed to get home just in time for the boy's bedtime - not that he was exactly thrilled to see me. He'd been having far too much fun with Nanny and Grandad all day as I'd sent Paul off to the wedding we were supposed to be attending! Still, I got a bit of a cuddle and time to sit on the sofa eating little snacks.

I can safely say that having a tummy bug is not a pleasant experience ever, but particularly this late in pregnancy. I am relieved, however, not to have given birth prematurely again.

This time next week, it'll be a different matter. I just want to pass the 36 week marker (next Weds) then I'm happy to pop as soon as possible as the sooner he comes out, the smaller he'll be. And small babies fit out much more easily!

Monday, 25 October 2010

Could it be tomorrow?

This time last pregnancy I was struggling my way through what seemed like a very long day.

Having left work the day before, I spent the morning of my first day's maternity leave putting together a stand for our moses basket which we hadn't yet bought(!) and in the afternoon, we did a bit of shopping for nursery furnishings. Well, we did a very small amount of shopping as I was way too tired and had to give up and come home.

Then, the next day, I gave birth. At 33weeks+6days gestation, over 6 weeks early.

So will I be repeating this premature birthing option tomorrow? I doubt it. Despite the extreme tiredness I am feeling today, there is no reason for me to give birth prematurely this time and I am nowhere near the size yet that I was last time. And, thankfully, neither are my ankles!! My tiredness today can be put down to a toddler who didn't sleep well last night and a big old shopping trip on Saturday. Well, we need to be prepared for Christmas early if anyone's to get any gifts this year!

So from 4pm tomorrow, I hope to be venturing into the unknown phase of late pregnancy. Given how huge and heavy I already feel most days, I'm not expecting to take much enjoyment from this, but it will be a new experience for me!

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

A Spanner in the Naming Work

We had a back up name for Felix... just in case he didn't look like a Felix when he was born (do babies look like any name?). So you'd think it would have been easy to choose a name for our second born having found out at the 20-week scan that it's another boy.

Well, it would have been easy, we still love the second name we chose, Elliot. Only, Felix has a friend called Elliot. Well, ok, I have a mummy friend who's little boy, Elliot is exactly a week younger than Felix and was also premature. We met through Sing and Sign classes and still see each other at least every fortnight with a couple of other mummy friends.

The thing is, we didn't feel the same way about any of the other names we came up with. There was one, but it just doesn't work with our surname. So we resolved to call the baby Elliot. I fully intended to mention this to Elliot's mummy before I give birth, but we haven't seen her for a couple of weeks now and at the weekend, I found out why.

She had been having contractions on and off all week... yes she's pregnant too and this time her due date is about 2 weeks ahead of mine. Yesterday, I got a text from her. She has given birth to a little girl, about the same prematurity as Elliot was. No name had yet been decided.

Today, I am told by a mutual friend that they have called their little baby girl Imogen.




So I have resolved that I can no longer be friends with her as I'll be 'copying' all her children's names. And that is the end of that. GAH!

Monday, 18 October 2010

Hospital Bag

I learnt from my first birth, which was 6 weeks premature, that if the baby comes early, you don’t necessarily need to provide anything for them in the first few days - the hospital will see you through (bless ‘em). So when thinking about what I need to have packed ready to go, it’s all about me, me me.

When (and if) I reach 35 weeks, I’ll pop some basic baby bits in a separate bag. Three vests/bodysuits, three sleepsuits, a cardigan, a hat, coat (do we have one? eek), travel blanket, three muslin cloths, a pack of nappies and a handful of cotton wool. That should do it for an overnight visit.

As for me, well... When heading into hospital to give birth, you need to pack as if you’re going to stay somewhere overnight (that’s pretty heavy packing in my book) and you also need to try to pre-empt what you will want, or need whilst in labour. Pretty difficult if you’ve never done it before and actually still pretty difficult if you have.

I had a pretty straight-forward first labour (apart from the prematurity aspect) and fully intend for this one to be the same (I’m sure I will now be punished for saying that). I’m going to attempt to list everything I will be packing, some items will undoubtedly be thrown in last minute, and then I’m going to actually go and pack most of it. Hopefully, my list may be of some help to any first-timers out there. Old-timers might also be able to point out anything I’ve stupidly forgotten.

  • Maternity notes, kind of vital.
  • Toiletries - handy tip for the shower, a 2in1 shampoo as there will be no time to relax. I’ll be in a rush to return to the baby. Hairbrush and tummy oil are included in this section.
  • Makeup - I didn’t bother with makeup last time, but as I hope to leave hospital the next day this time, I figure it might be nice to leave looking my normal self. Maybe.
  • Two pairs of pyjamas (in case I bleed all over the first pair), slippers and a dressing gown.
  • A Pillow for a better night’s sleep - not that you really sleep when you have a new baby to gaze at.
  • An oh-so-attractive hairband to keep my hair out of my face whilst I’m pushing. Who needs the distraction?
  • Snacks and drinks. For me and for my husband. Yes there’s a shop, but no, I do not want to be left on my own whilst you go and buy yourself a sandwich. And if the midwife is mean and says I can’t have a meal “just in case”, I’ll damn well be eating something the second she leaves the room.
  • Phone charger. I’ll be busy tweeting as well as texting all my friends and family. I don’t think I’d be happy if I had to wait until I got home to tell you all about it.
  • Camera. Obviously. Maybe not my professional one though as I won’t let my husband use it.
  • Disposable (or just old) pants and maternity pads.
  • Notepad and pen - for moments of boredom and to write down what items husband needs to bring me from home (and where he will find them).
  • Something to wear whilst giving birth. Not that I made it out of my normal clothes last time. Not until baby was out anyway.
  • Magazine or other entertainment, to help while away the hours if it’s not instant
  • Clean clothes. That’ll be maternity jeans, breastfeeding top and bra and something warm to wear over it all. And a few pairs of socks. No cold feet here thank you.
  • Gift for the toddler. The baby is going to be bringing a present for his big brother (straight from the womb) so I’ll be taking this to hospital in case he comes to visit.

Enough talking about it, I’m actually going to go and pack some of it now. About time too.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Time to get ready...

At 32 weeks pregnant, I've suddenly realised how unprepared I am for the arrival of a new baby.

I mean, if it happened now, I think I'd have to go to hospital alone and leave my husband behind, ravaging the loft for baby clothes and bedding.

Now don't get me wrong, I wasn't exactly ready first time round. When Felix turned up unexpectedly at 34 weeks, we had no bed for him, no car seat and the nursery was most definitely not ready. We got family sent off to buy the relevant items for us asap so we were ready when he finally left hospital 11 days later and the nursery possibly got decorated when he was about 6 months old. Could have been later.

I feel a little bit panicked at what I still have to do this time. And I probably shouldn't, but this is what I think needs sorting out:

- Last year's tax return. Cause I am NOT going to be able to concentrate on it with a new baby.
- Baby clothes need bringing out of the loft and washing.
- The nursery at least needs to be emptied of our rubbish and have a chest of drawers full of freshly laundered clothes, muslin cloths and nappies.
- Might be nice to paint the nursery too, but not essential pre-birth.
- Pushchair. I haven't yet decided if I will buy a double buggy, get a buggy board for the rubbish pushchair we have (which I'm sure isn't suitable from birth), make the toddler walk everywhere, use a baby sling, or just not go out full stop (this seems very likely).
- My hospital bag. I have old (i.e. disposable without being disposables) pants and maternity pads in a plastic bag. Erm, that's about it. I know I had an 'emergency' bag packed before this point last time, as I had to use the damn thing when my waters broke early.
- It might be an idea to speak to a few people about childcare. Make a note of what dates they're available so I'm not left ringing round various different people for an hour whilst trying to cope with early labour.
- Buy a new baby monitor... toddler broke ours and I don't think I'll be so happy to have the new baby downstairs with me all day with a toddler around to poke the baby awake.

There are other little jobs which I'd like to get done... but I'm realistic about my chances of getting enough peace and quiet from the toddler to actually do them. I guess it's about time I focussed on these bigger jobs and got them done. Or, at the very least, order the husband to get them done.

Anything you think I've forgotten?

Monday, 4 October 2010

My name is Rachael and I am a Twitterholic

I got asked on Twitter if I wanted to be tagged in a meme about being a Twitter addict. I'd like to think that I'm not a full on addict, but I did find I was easily able to answer all of the questions asked in this meme... so I thought maybe I should give in and admit it is a big part of my life. I have been known to get a bit distressed if I haven't been on for a few hours.

The original Twitterholic post was by Kate at The Five Fs and I was tagged by Garry at The Blog Up North - so go have a read of their addiction admission posts too.

I do enjoy using twitter. I think for someone who spends their day alone, or in the company of a small person who doesn't speak (or I suppose any small people as the conversation is never quite the same as with an adult) it's a fantastic social tool. I think it has many business benefits (although my own use is personal with only the odd bit of business thrown in) and has helped keep me in touch with a PR world I've pretty much left behind. The idea of Kate's meme is that she has posed 5 questions. So here goes...

When did you join twitter?
Using I can confirm that the date was February 4th 2009. Over 18 months ago. Eek!

Why did you join twitter?
My husband had already joined, he likes to think he's at the cutting edge of all things 'cool'. I'd heard bits and pieces and wasn't sure of the appeal of something that was "like the status updates on Facebook". But then Moyles started talking about it one morning on the radio and signed up that day. Does that make me too much of a Chris Moyles fan?

Anyway, Twitter is something you have to stick at for a while before it becomes your friend.

Who was your first follower? Who did you follow first?
My first follower was my husband, thanks love. My second was Stephen Fry. Slightly more interesting. And my third, an old friend from the PR world. So should I tell you all about my husband? Nah, boring.

I'm surprised to find that the first person I followed was actually Jonathan Ross. Then my husband, Chris Moyles and Stephen Fry. Again, not a lot I can tell you about any of them. It is fair to say that to begin with it was largely only celebs that I followed. I don't read celeb mags and have always been 'the last to know'... but not anymore. I'm way ahead of my friends finding out the gossip these days and usually in a far more accurate manner as I've had it straight from the horse's mouth (or fingertips).

I don't follow many people. I like to keep up to date with what's going on in my twitter world, and the more people you follow the more impossible this is. I'm not really using it to try to make friends so I don't feel the need to follow back. If someone's tweets look entertaining and like they might brighten an otherwise dull day, then I'll follow. If they stop tweeting regularly or get boring, I stop following. Some people might find this offensive, but it suits my usage.

Do you have any celebrities following you or have you ever had a DM from a celebrity?
Wooooh yay, chance to show off. As already mentioned, Stephen Fry follows me. In the early days I saw him asking that people who wanted him to follow them use a certain hashtag or phrase, so I tried it. And lo, the next day, I had a new follower! Shortly after this, he was talking about the Kindle and how it won't replace books when I challenged him and said that the DVD had replaced video, video had replaced that beta wotnot and CDs had replaced tapes (now CDs are also becoming a thing of the past). He responded to this, but not with an @reply, so although I will take it that he was engaging in a conversation directly with me, it could be that many people challenged him on the subject at the same time. Obviously, mine would have been the best tweet though.

Other followers you may have heard of include Annabel Karmel and Jamie Oliver. I do work for Jamie Oliver (sort of) so it's only fair he follows me really. When I did my first Jamie at Home party, I tweeted him to let him know how I got on (like he cares) and he tweeted me back saying "Well done babe...". I was a bit over-excited by this, mainly cause he called me babe. Ha ha!

Davina McCall has tweeted me a few times but has also sent me a DM. She reported that she was going to see Tap Dogs and I asked her when and told her which performance I was going to that weekend. Her DM simply said "me too, but don't tell". I didn't tell a soul (except hubby) until the day when I told my girlfriends that we had to keep our eyes peeled!

Have also had a couple of tweets from Sara Cox. I didn't favourite these (stupid) and am suffering from baby brain so can't remember what they were about or what she said. Suffice to say, I surprised her in some way and she responded with a real Cox-ism. Loved it!

If you could follow anyone (alive, dead, fictional) on Twitter, who would it be?
I'm not really one for answering this kind of question. But I'll have a good think for you. There are a few celebrities who it would be nice to follow if they actually tweeted themselves. Having official updates is handy for business, but twitter is a way to get personal with the public and it'd be great if they got in on the act.

Fictional - well, wouldn't Harry Potter's tweets be the most interesting read ever? There are a few soap characters who's lives are so full of drama I'm sure they'd be entertaining, although maybe a little too depressing? I don't really watch any soaps so I couldn't choose a favourite. Obviously I'm obsessed with the life of Elizabeth Bennet... but suspect her tweets would be pretty dull most of the time. "Practising the piano whilst Darcy's out shooting", "Reading a novel", "dining with neighbours this evening". Ok, actually I found those quite interesting. Twitter would certainly help to pass the time for her!

It would also be nice if some of my best friends tweeted as I'd feel a bit more in the loop with their daily lives. But then it's also nice to be able to vent about them somewhere knowing they're not going to read it. So bit of a double-edged sword, that one.

Which came first Twitter or Blog?
Easy. Twitter did. That PR friend I mentioned in my first 3 followers, @howard_jones, he did a #ff for me recommending that I follow Sally Whittle. She writes a mummy blog Who's The Mummy and it made me chuckle so much that I started to think about writing my own blog. I missed writing and thought it'd be a nice way to help me remember the early years of motherhood. I finally started the blog when I suspected I was pregnant for the second time. I wrote a pregnancy diary first time around for a friend who was living abroad and I liked the idea of doing something similar.

And here we are.

I am supposed to tag other people to take on this meme, but as I'm not sure I could call anyone I know a twitterholic (other than those of you who have already been tagged), I think I will leave it to you, dear readers, if you want to continue the theme. Do post a link to your meme here if you take up the challenge. And do try to keep it a little shorter than mine. I go on a bit, don't I?

Monday, 20 September 2010

Multi-tasking Mums

Ok, so it's a well known fact that mum's are amazing at multi-tasking, right?

This morning, I lazed in bed until gone 9am as I have a pretty bad cold and my husband kindly gave me the opportunity by dealing with the two year old until he had to go to work. I was expecting a casual day today so eventually had some breakfast and a quick shower.

At 10am, I got a call from our choir secretary. I sing with The Chanterelles, a national ladies choir who originated from a youth choir in Leicestershire - which of course, I was in. Would I be free to be interviewed LIVE on BBC Radio Leicester this morning... erm, well, I'm free, but I have no voice and a toddler to entertain. For some reason, I still said yes.

So I called the radio to say yes I'll do it and gave them my number. Then I got the macbook fired up and did some intense last minute research so that I wouldn't be caught out for not knowing my subject!

At 10.35, I decided to do a quick stinky nappy change - risky, but I thought necessary as I didn't know how long I'd be gone for once I was 'on air'. I changed him in front of the TV and pressed play on the DVD just as I pulled his trousers back up. Taking the stinky nappy to the kitchen thinking I'd just chuck it out of the back door and then prepare myself, my phone rang.


The lady on the other end said, "Hi, thanks for doing this, I'll just put you through to Tony."

I was expecting at least a short off-air chat in which I could get myself somewhere with good phone signal, grab a drink (for emergency coughing situations), a tissue (for emergency sniffing situations), my computer (for emergency notes, if asked) and my notebook with the info I wanted to cover.

No. I was put straight through to the studio. So I grabbed the aforementioned articles and legged it upstairs. Arriving in my bedroom I realised I had lost my breath from the fast movements and hoped to god he wasn't going to come to me straight away.

After a few minutes listening, I was introduced and had a short chat with the presenter and two members of the band Blake, with whom we are performing on Friday 1st October. They even got me to sing - I was cringing at the lack of tone in my poorly voice.

Interview over, I calmly returned downstairs and was thankful to find the toddler happily sitting watching his DVD. Honestly, there is no better babysitter than the TV on some occasions.

Here's a link to the interview, Start listening from 1:35 for the interview.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Boy/Girl? Who cares?

Well, I do, actually. I've been inspired to write this blogpost as I thought my comment on Garry from the BlogUpNorth's post might go on a little too long.

I made no secret when I first got pregnant that I really wanted a girl. Really really wanted a girl. At my 20-week scan, when they showed me what looked rather distinctly like male genitalia on the screen, I cried. They also informed me that my ovarian cyst was not only still there, but also, no smaller, which was bad news and slightly scary. This may have had a small impact on my crying, but I know it wasn't wholly responsible.

At my 20-week scan this time around, I yet again saw what was clearly male genitalia. Having told myself and anyone who cared to listen, that I didn't mind what sex baby we had this time (as we wanted 3 anyway), I was surprised to find my eyes fill up with water once more and my heart sink a little. I had obviously been harbouring a secret desire which I hadn't even registered myself.

We had always intended to try for a third, but now, I feel there is a little pressure as I still want a daughter so much. What will I do if I end up with three boys? Try again? I doubt it. It's not just that I want a girl... I have this notion that boys are harder work and am already nervous about how I'm going to cope with two of them. Let alone three.

Maybe I should try to explain why I feel such a strong desire for a girl.

I am one of two children. My brother is older than me. Many people say it's nice to have an older brother as he looks after you. Does he? Really? I'm sure there are many long-forgotten instances when my big brother did look out for me in some way, but he certainly didn't stand up for me at school if I needed it and I don't ever particularly remember feeling protected by him at home either. Maybe I have a selective memory as we're not very close these days.

I thought a family with an older sister would be nice, so that she could take a slightly motherly caring role as the oldest. Maybe I was still deluded and there was as much chance of this happening as an older brother protecting his younger siblings. It probably just depends on the individuals.

I also, could only ever envisage myself as a mother to a daughter. Of course, now I have a gorgeous little boy that has changed. But factors such as dealing with puberty also come into play. I've been through female puberty so can deal with explaining it. Male puberty - eek! I dearly hope that my boys will be close enough to me that they can talk to me about anything and I can deal with it. But I feel it would have been much easier with a girl. Been there, done it.

To justify that I think it's OK to have a preference let me continue: I've always been a bit concerned that I'm far too blasé about having children, full stop. Especially as I now only have one ovary. (I confess, I expected it to take a little longer to get pregnant with one ovary gone. I did NOT expect it to happen so instantly. But maybe this gives me good cause to be blasé.) I certainly don't think I, or anyone else should go around worrying about whether or not they'll be able to have children before they've even tried. Worrying for no reason does no-one any good.

I expected to be able to have children. Like I had some sort of right. Having been through the birth process (and such a good experience of it too), I do feel a little more humbled and incredibly honoured that I have been able to have children, both physically able and also finding that right moment in life and the right partner. Not everyone has that chance. So yes, I do understand it being offensive to get concerned about something so trivial as the sex of your child.

Of course, I would prioritise having a healthy baby over having one of my chosen gender. But could we not say that those of us who show a preference for gender are actually no worse than those who wish only for a 'healthy' baby. I mean, define healthy. Many people have children with disabilities or maybe just allergies. They still love their children but would they have been criticised for saying whilst pregnant "I don't mind the gender as long as it's healthy"?

I don't think we should judge people for expressing a gender preference unless it actually affects the way they feel about the child once it has arrived. I see no reason why older children should be offended by their parents wanting a 'different one' this time, if they are part of a happy, loving family. I will have no problem telling my eldest that I had wanted a girl first... but I shall be careful to explain that he was no disappointment. Just not how I would have planned it had planning been an option.

And when I am out exhibiting my two boys in the next few years, I also won't have a problem with people asking if we'll be trying again for a girl - because we will be. One day. If I'm lucky enough to have a third and it's a boy again, I will be gutted and yet still appreciate that I'm a very fortunate person. Any child of mine will be thoroughly loved, no matter how different the child is to what I had hoped.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Advice from an old veteran

Two of my best friends (there's a group of six of us from school who are still really close) are pregnant with their first child. Aside being more pregnant than both of them, I've also been there and done it all before... and survived the first two years, just. Thinking about offering them helpful insights and gems of advice has made me reflect a little. So here goes with my top tips for new mums-to-be.

1. The birth is the easy bit
I think many people spend pregnancy worrying mainly about getting a huge baby out through a relatively small hole. Of course, they do also worry about how they will cope afterwards, but I think for most, birth is the most scary part. It's not. It's really not.

2. How to have a good birth
Research beforehand, be that reading, antenatal classes, talking to people, watching TV births, etc., so you understand what is going to happen and know what your options and preferences are. Then, stay calm and in control.

3. Be strict with early-day visitors
If someone turns up uninvited, don't let them in. If you've already made certain decisions about how you're going to raise your baby, don't let things slip just cause you've got visitors. Ask for help, get people doing your shopping, cooking for you and cleaning the house. Tell them they can have a short cuddle before handing baby over, otherwise, 2 hours later, you'll be screaming inside to have your baby back in YOUR arms, willing it to be ready for a feed so the visitor says "I think (s)he needs mummy".

4. Don't buy everything you see
We still had things to buy when Felix turned up 6 weeks early. It was a blessing in disguise shopping wise, as we ended up ONLY buying what we needed. We could have wasted a lot of money on things that marketing people tell you a new baby needs.

5. Stick at the breastfeeding - for selfish reasons if nothing else
There is no better way to lose your baby belly and it's so much easier than carrying around bottles and sterilising stuff and boiling water and separate milk powder. But remember, it is tough to begin with. You've never done it before and the baby's never done it before either. Ask for help straight away if you're struggling as the longer you leave it the more difficult it will become. The best nipple cream in the world is breastmilk. After each feed, squeeze a little more out, rub in and leave to air dry. Easier to do this when no-one's around!!

6. Set good habits early
It's easier to take a dummy away from a 6 month old than a 1 year old. It's easier to take away a dummy from a 1 year old than an 18 month old. As hard as it seems to teach them to sleep on their own, it's easier to do it early. But... give yourself a break. You have to take the easy option sometimes. Don't punish yourself when you do, just get the good habits back on track as soon as you feel up to it.

7. Make friends with people with children the same age
One of the girls (who lives locally) is due to give birth about 4 months after me. So we'll both have babies at the same time. But 4 months in baby terms is massive. You need to have other mums to chat to who are going through the SAME things as you at the SAME time. For sympathy, understanding, advice and for comparing (in a positive way!).

8. Let your partner work things out for himself
As a mother, you tend to be the main carer for your newborn. You learn the best way to do things and when there's a small, helpless child screaming its lungs out, it's tooooo tempting to shove the father out of the way and do it yourself. But he has to learn the same way you have learned, by trial and error. Not just by being told by you what works and what doesn't. Sometimes, you have to walk away and leave them to figure it out.

9. Walk away
Talking about walking away, when the crying won't stop and you're losing your patience, put the child down somewhere safe, walk away and don't return until you are calm. Crying isn't going to harm the child. Your anger might.

10. Enjoy every minute of it
At the end of a tough day, try to smile about the positives. As cliche as it is, they do grow up quickly and you'll never get back the days of them being totally helpless and being cuddled as and when YOU choose! One day, they'll be off to school and then, leaving home. Eeek!

I really hope that my friends will come to me for help. I tried to be open with them when I did it all for the first time and not just pretend that everything was rosy all the time. Without having experienced it themselves, I suspect sometimes they just thought I was being a moaner, but it's really important to get it off your chest and not bottle it up. Being a parent is tough. But it's also the best thing in the world.

Friday, 27 August 2010

Approaching the Third Trimester

I'm 25 weeks pregnant and after a trip to hospital earlier this week am becoming increasingly aware of it.

On measuring my fundal height (a measurement from pubic bone to the top of your womb, supposed to be roughly 1cm per week) the midwife told me that I'm a little big for my dates and that means I will start to become uncomfortable soon. No sh*t sherlock.

The last couple of weeks have seen some amazingly large kicks, many either straight up into my ribs or straight down towards my vagina (hang on baby, you're not supposed to be heading down there just yet). Sitting forwards or upright makes me feel all squashed and not only am I finding sleeping more and more uncomfortable, with hip pain kicking in quickly but I now officially have to get up every night for a mid-sleep wee break.

I'm not looking forward to these increasing night-time wakings and wanderings as the temperature drops yet further (yes, the heating has already been on in this house). I can now look forward to not sleeping a whole night in one go until, oooh, about April next year I'd say. Wonderful.

On the more positive side, it's nice for hubby and other people to be able to feel the newbie squirming around and practising his martial arts on me. The afternoon of waiting in hospital gave us a nice bit of child-free time to talk baby names and plan a bit for the next few months. We also discussed if I should maybe be laying off the work a little more. Husband rightly pointed out that I do a full time job anyway (unpaid as raising a child is, it's just as much hard work and far more physically tiring than any office job) and there's no way first pregnancy that I'd have even considered going out to work in the evening after being in the office all day.

I think there is an element of me that needs the work though. It's a bit of time to myself and socialising with other adults without discussing children at all! I've decided to frequently remind myself not to try to take on too much and otherwise, just take it as it comes and see what happens.

Plus, I'm also going to get an 'emergency' hospital bag packed this weekend. Just in case. Experience tells me that an early baby doesn't need anything taking in to hospital so I can just pack an overnight/birth bag for myself and rest assured that I am prepared for now!

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

A Trip to the Hospital

Oh I forgot how much I love being in hospital. No, I'm not being sarcastic. I know. I'm a complete freak.

It's annoying that they're always running late and everything takes an age, but they do look after you. And sometimes, I think it's just nice that you've been forced to just STOP and sit down for a while. Only if someone else is taking care of the child, of course.

Well I had a little jaunt to the hospital today as after ringing the midwife (spoiler: disgusting pregnancy-related girly comment fast approaching) about some brown discharge I'd had (I DID warn you), she asked me to go in just to be on the safe side.

It actually started almost two weeks ago, but was very pale and not a lot. I made a call then and was advised not to worry but to get back in contact if it increased, was combined with pain or became a more fresh blood colour. This morning, we were out shopping and when I got home and dashed up to the loo, I was surprised to see a much darker stain in my underwear. Still not a large quantity, but much more "beginning of period" looking.

So I called, talked them through everything, including previous premature birth, and I was asked to go in, not to rush or panic, but to go in to be checked. Oh, and to take a bag in with me just in case.

No not take a handbag. That'd be an overnight/giving birth type bag thing. Eek!

I called hubby, managed to find someone who was free to babysit (Yay for school holidays and parents who are teachers!) and went off to pop some things in a bag. Now this did get me feeling a bit weird. Last time I calmly got my hospital bag ready and headed off to the delivery ward, I gave birth.

I'm only 25 weeks, I can't give birth. Oh god. Shush, it's fine, you're not going to give birth and there's not going to be anything wrong. It's perfectly normal discharge/light blood loss and you're just going as it's better to be safe.

We arrived (after struggling to find parking as it was 'visiting time' - grrr) and headed on up to the ward... "is this where we came?" I asked, "I don't remember this bit". We arrived at triage "oh yeah, I remember this bit, and that toilet, I got well acquainted with that toilet", and were appointed a room. I went off to the loo to provide a urine sample and pretty quickly had a midwife come and take my blood pressure too. All's fine.

A little wait and then another midwife came to have a feel "you're measuring a little large for your dates" - no surprise there then - and a listen to baby's heartbeat. All's fine. "We just have to wait for the doctor to come and do an internal examination, just to establish where the blood is coming from. He's in theatre at the moment so you might have a little wait."

Well, we arrived at the hospital at 3pm... at 5pm a lovely midwife asked if we'd like a drink, or maybe a piece of fruit. Or a sandwich - my eyes lit up. So I had me the same sandwich I had the night I gave birth to Felix and I yummed it down at an alarming 'new breastfeeding mother' speed. I like hospital food. I love it. Someone else makes it. And it's simple and traditional. Ahhhh.

It was 7pm by the time the doctor came to see me. He opened me up (yeah baby), then opened me up a bit further (ooooh) and then moved the speculum around a bit so he could have a good look (ok, that hurts a little). The midwife reminded me to breath!! He took a swab as well (well why not? I did skive my last Prem Prevention appointment as they were taking too long... errmm, am I contradicting myself now?) and explained how the lining of the cervix comes outside of the womb a little and is like a raw surface. It can be caused to bleed by all sorts of minor disturbances, intercourse (I should be so lucky), a bowel movement passing by (erm, ok), etc. The blood then pools somewhere in the vagina and when it comes out, is a brownish colour because it's a little older.

Fine. Exactly what I thought, nothing to worry about.

So my notes got written up and off we went to the car park where hubby had moved the car to. Only there was a fire engine blocking the exit and, ooh firemen trying to break into a car and, hang on, what's going on? Security wouldn't let us into the car park as a car had exploded a couple of times (under the bonnet, not like a terrorist thing) and was still smoking away.

So after 4 hours hanging round at the hospital just for reassurance, we had to cower under a tree in the rain for another 10 minutes (yeah, only 10, what am I moaning about?) waiting to be allowed to get to our car.

I just feel a bit bad for my dad who was babysitting really. It was all a bit of a shock for him I think and he was supposed to be working this evening. Ooops. But then, these things happen.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

The Gallery: A Photo I'm Proud Of

I have finally remembered (in time) to join in with Tara Cain, from Sticky Fingers', photography blog, The Gallery. Now I just have to remember to join in every week... and sometimes maybe even use it as an excuse to go out and take a NEW photo.

The prompt this week - A Photo I'm Proud Of - was an easy one for me. Although the first photo that sprang to mind was from only a couple of months ago when we went to the zoo for my 2 year old's birthday, that one was mainly down to the bird standing in exactly the right place... the spotlight the sun was creating through the foliage.

However, the one I've gone for in the end is from three years ago. I took it at my friend's wedding. I was pretty pleased with it myself but other people raving about it has seriously increased its value in my own mind! Her brother asked me to be his wedding photographer as a result of this one photo, which he described as the best photo of the day (despite there having been a professional there too).

I guess, in a round about way, this photo is responsible for me becoming a "professional" photographer - it still sounds odd referring to myself as such. And for that reason, here is the photo I am most proud of:

Monday, 23 August 2010

Why I Love Baby Signing

When Felix was 9 months old, we went to see the health visitor for a developmental review. She asked if he was babbling yet... although a very vocal child, I knew he wasn't babbling the way others way or the way that it's described in the text book. So, she recommended that we might find baby signing useful if his speech was a little delayed.

I'd heard of baby signing and had been put off by a lady who seemed like a real 'earth mother' (in a bad way) and lead a singing session whilst singing horrendously out of tune. But on the health visitor's advice, I was willing to give it a go and could totally understand the benefits of having a child who WAS able to communicate even if he couldn't talk.

I contacted the mums from my antenatal group (that group where I only made it to one class before giving birth!) and found that two of them had signed up to Sing and Sign a little way from where we live, but not a bad journey. So we joined them.

The first term, Felix ran riot in class, poking all the other children in the face, climbing over the teacher and the other mums (he's not shy, my boy) and exploring every inch of the room. He didn't pay much attention to the signs or the singing but seemed to enjoy class. And after thinking I was doing fine just occasionally going out to do things, I quickly began to see Sing and Sign class as the highlight of the week. Nothing would get in the way of me going out and *deep breath* talking to other adults! Paying for the term in advance really worked for me!!

Term 1 was followed by summer holidays. We saw our teacher once and whilst flicking through a book, she swore blind Felix had signed 'elephant' to her. I thought she was being optimistic, but sure enough, a couple of days later, I was showing him the book, and he waved his arm about enthusiastically as soon as he saw the elephant. He was signing!

As I had already decided to become a teacher, when we went back to do our second term, we did both the baby and the toddler stage at the same time (so I could learn as much as possible, as fast as possible). Felix's age and walking stage meant he was on the cusp of moving up a stage anyway, so it worked out well for us - although it was a slightly long afternoon for him!

He picked up sign after sign and LOVED class. Sometimes he'd have a little dance, once in a blue moon he'd actually sit with me and be cuddly whilst enjoying the songs, and he was ALWAYS the first one to the front when there were any toys or excitement to be had!

At his 2 year old developmental check, I admitted that I knew he was behind with his speech. The average 2 year old is saying approx 50 words apparently, Felix had just 10-15 words. But, and this is why signing is so amazing, his communication skills were brilliant. He can tell us what he wants, he can tell us what he has seen that has interested him and he understands everything we say (of course, sometimes he chooses to ignore it). We could tell that his language development was brilliant too by his occasional combinations of signs or signs and spoken words.

Almost 2 months on and his words are coming along slowly. He's picking up more and more but even still, when the words are sometimes a little bit unclear - was that 'bear' or 'baa'? - we can find out the meaning by adding in a sign.

We have our own sceptical moments, and plenty of comments from others... "Would he be speaking more if he couldn't communicate by signs?". Maybe he would. We will never know. But life would be a LOT more difficult if he didn't speak AND he didn't sign. And the evidence was there early that he wouldn't be speaking so I definitely think we did the right thing.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

The Terrible Twos

I've been feeling like a terrible parent a lot recently. I keep losing my temper and really shouting at Felix. I realise I am probably still setting my expectations of his capabilities and cooperation too high, but knowing this hasn't yet worked in changing my behaviour.

I can't decide what has led to my loss of patience. Is it the pregnancy hormones? Or the fact I've been busy working? Has this interfered with quality time spent with him to such an extent that he absolutely cannot behave for me now? Is his behaviour actually getting worse or is it just my tolerance levels?

I'm desperate to find the time to re-read some of Toddler Taming. Hopefully, this will do the same for me as the first time I read it. Remind me that he is NOT an adult and cannot be expected to behave like one. That his behaviour is perfectly normal and I have to get more clever if I want to manipulate it. And mainly, to remind me to remain calm and patient.

I want to provide a few examples of what he's been doing to make me so angry, but I know that all will sound pathetic once written down. It's things like, getting ALL of his toys out at once (see, pathetic - ALL kids do that, right?) and throwing unwanted food on the floor (doesn't really take long to clean up, does it?) and ignoring me as I try to pleasantly distract and entice him away from doing something I really don't want him to do, until I have to march over to him and physically remove him from the activity.

It's getting me down. I get cross with myself for getting cross with him. And then I try to make up for it by spending time playing with him and he rejects my attempts, pushes me away and makes me cross again. Then I get upset. It's becoming a bit of a repetitive circle.

Monday, 26 July 2010

A Surprise Birth

I promised Kathryn over at I Know I Need To Stop Talking that I would blog my birth story for her to read as she psyches herself up for her second birth. And I thought it would be quite a cathartic thing to do today whilst I'm trying not to be ungrateful at the discovery that I'm carrying a second boy (who likes girls anyway?).

I had complications with my first pregnancy. Well, I say that, but I never ever considered them to be complications with my actual pregnancy. Just something they picked up on at my first scan which was a complication with my own body. I had a large cystic mass on one of my ovaries (which is another post waiting to happen) and was monitored closely from my second scan onwards.

I also measured 6 weeks ahead of my dates. My mum did too with both pregnancies. She said my brother and I grew large quickly and then slowed down in the last few weeks. But the chances are, my extra size was due to the cyst, it was pretty large. This didn't concern me at the time. The cyst was to be dealt with separately, once the baby had been born.

On a Sunday morning, just two days after I finished work and went onto maternity leave, I woke at 6am for a toilet trip. This was probably the second one of the night as at 34 weeks pregnant, there isn't much room left for your bladder to fill up - and that's without a huge ovary getting in the way too.

At 7am, I sat bolt upright in panic as I felt liquid escaping from between my legs. How could it be wee, it couldn't be wee, I'd only just been to the loo. My husband woke and asked me what was wrong. "I think my waters just broke."

"What?" he responded.

"Well it can't be wee, I only went for a wee an hour ago."

I waddled off to sit on the loo. Nothing else happened so I texted my Aunt who is a midwife to ask how I could check if it was my waters or not (other than smelling it, as your waters are odourless. Your wee, generally, is not!).

A bit worried, we went back to bed, with a towel underneath me, just in case. As I settled myself back against the pillow, GUSH. "Oh my god, it IS my waters, oh my god."

I hobbled back to the bathroom, dripping across the landing. My aunt called me but I didn't answer as we were already ringing the hospital. I texted her to let her know and she wished me luck.

The most classic moment of the day, had to be my husband telling the triage midwife "my waters have broken, err, I mean my WIFE's waters have broken". Bless him, it was all a bit unexpected and we'd only just woken up too!

Anyway, I maintained my calm demeanour, knowing that breaking waters THIS premature didn't necessarily mean baby was on its way out. I might in fact be stuck in hospital for weeks to protect the poor mite from infection now its sack was open. So I packed plenty of entertainment into the pre-prepared emergency version of my hospital bag.

We set off for hospital around 8am, having called or texted or parents and siblings, but no-one else. I hadn't had any breakfast, mainly as I was too shocked to eat, but also as a just in case style precaution. In the car, I felt two minor back ache type pains, like the dull ache of a period pain and I felt a slight need to poo too. Hmmm, this could mean I'm going to give birth today, I thought.

The midwife in triage was lovely. She had a look and said she thought it was my waters but they'd have to get a doctor to come and check. In the meantime, I was strapped up for fetal heart monitoring and to measure contractions. Paul and I started to play a little game, called 'guess when and IF I'm having a contraction'. I would say "I think I can feel something now" and he'd watch the numbers rising on the monitor. I was pleasantly surprised at how painless this all was, but I guess most people don't even realise they're in labour at this stage.

The doctor checked and confirmed that my waters had gone and I was about 3cm dilated. I was going to give birth... maybe not that day, but nevertheless, 6 weeks early. I ran Paul through a verbal version of my birth plan as I hadn't got round to writing it yet.

After a couple of trips to the loo for bowel evacuation (which I insisted Paul accompany me on, poor guy), we were transferred to a delivery suite at midday. Thankfully, they had managed to find a space on the neonatal ward for my premature baby, otherwise we would have been sent to another county to give birth! Eeek!

The contractions started to get painful around 1pm. Our new midwife, who had banned me from eating (cow, I was very hungry), gave me some paracetamol to take (seriously... paracetamol???) which I nearly vomited straight back up. Shortly after this, a nice man from neonatal came to try to explain what potential complications might arise with a baby this premature (I'd been given a steroid injection to help his lungs finish developing, but it didn't look like he was going to be staying inside long enough for this to take effect) and what care he might require. I confess, I heard none of what he said as I was contracting the whole time he was talking and gripping onto my chair for dear life.

I tried having a bit of a walk around (and risking the monitors slipping off) but actually found it was much more comfortable sitting in my big chair with the arms to squeeze whilst I concentrated on breathing my way through my contractions.

By 2pm, I'd asked for the gas and air and was happily puffing my way through each contraction. It didn't have quite the giggly effect on me that it did when I broke my wrist way back when. But it certainly did the job for taking the edge off the pain.

By about 3pm, the midwife suggested I might like to climb onto the bed and she would fetch a doctor to re-examine me. It must have been 3.30pm by the time this happened and I was told I was 10cm (thank god, because I was not going to put up with someone inserting their hand that far inside of me again, thank you very much). (Honestly, how do they do it?).

The urge to push followed swiftly. I like to blame this next fact on having only made the first of my antenatal classes (the second class was due the next day), but my first push was a bit pathetic. Well, really, I'd never done this before. With a bit of gentle coaching from the midwife about putting my chin on my chest, holding my breath and pushing everything down into my bottom area, I started to make some progress. I may also have squeezed the tube to the gas and air a little too hard and broken it. Never mind how Paul's hand felt, he deserved to share the pain.

Another hard push and a burning sensation and there was a head between my legs. As exciting as this was, I have to describe it as one of THE most unusual experiences of my life. Apparently there were quite a lot of people in the room at the time, neonatal nurses and the like. I only knew there was me, Paul, the midwife, and a head between my legs. It turned. I can't blame it, I wouldn't want to be staring at someone's anus either. Another push (or two? do you really expect me to remember THAT much detail?) and he was out (4pm on the dot), cord snipped, bundled into blankets held by the neonatal doctor and whooshed off to the other side of the room.

For what seemed like a very long moment, I forgot about the baby and just grinned from ear to ear. I did it. I just pushed a baby out... I gave birth. I AM AMAZING. Ooh, how's the baby? Is he ok? Is he breathing? God, is he... ahhhhh, my baby just cried. Ahhh.

It was about 20 minutes before they brought him over to me for a cuddle. They explained he had a little bit of a grunt as he breathed but otherwise seemed pretty healthy. Hubby took 3 photos and then he was taken off to special care. It was nearly 3 hours before we saw him again. Possibly the only downside to having a premature baby in my honest opinion.

I loved the way I was gradually eased into being a mum by the constant help and support of the nurses. I loved my stay in hospital for the rest of the week, being cooked for and cleaned up after. I didn't love leaving hospital 5 days later and leaving him there, but on the upside, I got a full night's sleep in my own bed. For 4 nights actually. A little chance to recover from the birth before 'rooming in' with him on the neonatal ward and finally bringing him home 12 days after he was born. I have no idea how people cope if they get sent home the day, or the day after they give birth. How do they know what to do? I can't fault the care we had and I truly wouldn't change it. I would only ask, to be able to hold him straight away and to get stitched up, washed, notes completed (my midwife was in no rush) and upstairs to see him again a little faster.

Back to the delivery suite. My little Felix was wheeled off to the neonatal ward and the midwife jabbed me with my Vitamin K. Holding on to the umbilical cord, the midwife told me to push. I'd already forgotten how. She let go of the cord, unfortunately, just as I remembered how to push. Husband couldn't stop laughing at the way she had to catch the flying placenta that came at her. Easy. My job was done.

I had a minor tear, so she said something or other about stitching me up and I felt a bit confused when she thanked me for allowing her... then as I saw the shaking hand with needle and thread rising from my genitals, I began to realise, she was still fairly inexperienced at this. Oh god. She's shaking with nerves. I'm going to be a complete mess.

I am not. My husband claims she did an excellent job. I try not to question him too much on this. I think you should leave it there too.

I waited around for them to finish cleaning the bathroom before I took a shower, cleaning myself very tentatively. I felt no pain, just very tender. What does one expect?

Then we waited. And waited. Until eventually we went off upstairs, me milking it in a wheelchair, to see our little boy. Where someone jabbed a needle in his foot and made me cry.

I feel very lucky that I had such an easy birth. Just 8 hours from the first contraction to Felix's introduction to life outside the womb. And a nice small 6lb 2oz baby (not small for his prematurity, but small for pushing out). Finger's crossed, this one isn't too much more difficult. I know I've had practice now, but another amazing experience would be much appreciated. I have never been more proud of myself.

Boys, Boys, Boys

I'm going to keep this short as I don't want to appear too ungrateful but I can't blog about my pregnancy and not even mention my 2nd scan, can I?

So, it would appear (ok, it was rather obvious actually) that I'm having a second little boy.

I've been telling everyone that I don't really have a preference this time, but my reaction tells me I did. I wanted my first so much to be a girl but thought having two boys would be nice for them... but now the pressure is on for the third child to be a girl. I'm not sure I could go on to have a fourth.

At least I don't feel as upset by it as I did first time round (sorry Felix, I wouldn't change you for the world now). Just a bit surprised and a little bit disappointed.

As for the REAL purpose of the 20 week anomaly scan, everything is good and healthy. He has an above average sized tummy (that's from daddy's side of the family, I think you'll find), and a short leg (both of us are shorties) and very cute little feet.

Friday, 16 July 2010

What am I?

I'm finding myself very torn at the moment and it's probably down to being so busy.

I can't remember the last time I did a sensible grocery shop. At most, I've managed to plan one home-made meal for a week and bought the ingredients I need for that... the rest has been pot luck. It's not very me. And I'm definitely missing the home-cooked food. The husband hasn't dared to complain, but I'm sure he's missing it too.

There are other housewifely/mummy things I want to be doing and I just don't seem to have time. I'm not even THAT busy with work. But I know I'm not putting the time and effort needed into my sales business and I still have a PR work assignment hanging over me that I was given mid-June. I don't feel I can make any plans (social or domestic) whilst I have this work still to do. I never get round to doing anything in the evenings either as I just want to go to bed early.

I can't help but think I will have to give something up if I really want to maintain the balance between being a full-time mum and doing a bit of work on the side. As it was only ever meant to be a bit of work. Not a full-on part-time job. But what I would give up, I just don't know.

Maybe when there's a new baby here, that might dictate what work is easier to do and therefore what I should be sensible about and give up. But can I manage another 5 months of pregnancy at this level of being busy? I'm already struggling to fit the sleep in...

My time management sucks, so maybe I just need to pull myself together and start planning my day in military detail. And actually get up in the morning!

Moan over. Back to daydreaming about the housewifely life I'd like to lead.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

See you tomorrow x

Although I am both employed and self-employed, I really consider myself to still be a full-time mum, who just happens to do a bit of work on the side. My toddler spends just one day a week in nursery, so the majority of the time, I'm on parent duty.

I think, therefore, and because I am happy to do so, that I can be forgiven for having the occasional bit of time off. The odd night away. It's almost bound to happen as my main group of friends are all still childless (although one is now very happily pregnant - about 4 weeks behind me). I've had a hen do this year, a wedding, a weekend or two away with my (now, award-winning) choir... and in two weeks time I will be having another night away as I'm working at a wedding in Kent and don't want the fear factor of driving down on the morning (imagine their photographer not turning up due to bad traffic!?!).

It doesn't happen that often, and usually I'll see my boy on one day, stay away for the night and see him again the next day. He always stays at home with daddy, so is in perfectly capable hands (although, oddly, injuries always seem to occur whilst I am away) and is more than happy. But I am still worrying about it a little. Not enough to give up my time off. No chance.

This weekend, I left on Friday afternoon and got back in the early hours of Sunday morning. 1.30am to be precise. I think it was the first time ever, I'd not seen Felix for a whole day. I missed him. But I was also having fun and knew I'd be back with him soon enough.

He woke early on Saturday, didn't go to sleep well that night, and woke early on Sunday morning too (although the silver lining to this is that I got to see him sooner than expected and share a quick cuddle, before I crept back into bed and wallowed there for the rest of the morning). I've been a bit worried that his lack of sleeping may have been because he was worried that mummy had gone and might not come back.

There is no evidence that he felt like this and he's been sleeping badly for a few weeks, although not really waking early. I just feel a little pang of guilt and a little bit of worry that my absence might confuse him. With another full day without seeing him coming up at the end of the month, I'm wondering if I should try not to have anymore full days away for some time.

I am probably worrying unnecessarily, as always.

Monday, 28 June 2010

I feel violated

I got probed today in places that a pregnant lady should not be probed (not until the baby's on its way out anyway).

When I was told I had been booked into the Prematurity Prevention Clinic, I was a little surprised and a little offended actually. Alright so no-one can ever say for sure why Felix was born 6 weeks premature, but it was bound to be the lack of space in there. I had a huge ovarian cyst in there and was showing 6 weeks ahead of my dates because of it. He just didn't have room to grow.

So I was offended that I needed to be told how to prevent another premature birth. I'd already been told I wasn't considered to be 'at risk'. But I'm not the kind of person to tell the medical profession that I know better, so I did as I was told and went along to my special 'class' this afternoon.

"Have you brought a urine sample?", errmmm, no. Why do I need a urine sample? No-one told me to bring a urine sample. Are we all going to look at our wee together in this class? Ewww.

So I went to the loo with a pot (and didn't realise there was no toilet roll until after I'd peed all over my hand. typical) and then sat in the waiting room. Well, I couldn't see anything that looked like a classroom, just lots of small consulting rooms. Hmmm, have I got something terribly wrong here?

I got called into a room by a nurse and finally had this whole Prem Prevention thing explained to me. They will basically be monitoring me to check for infections or something to help prevent a premature birth. Well, as I was a little shocked to be told that I was going to be swabbed at any moment, I felt the need to explain my belief about my previous premature birth. It didn't matter, the appointments are routinely made.

So she tested my urine (all clear) and took my blood pressure (just right) and then she left the room so that I could get undressed. I thought I was going to some boring class to be preached at about stuff that wasn't relevant to me. And there I was, getting my kit off.

Apparently I'll be going back for at least two more of these delightful internal examinations. I think it would have been really nice if someone had taken the trouble to explain it to me before I arrived.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Doctor, Doctor

We (well, I) made three visits to our doctor's surgery on three consecutive working days this week. Good job their waiting room is so nice.

Felix was a little under the weather last week so after a couple of vomits and four days with a temperature (it did vanish occasionally), we went to see the doc. He had a peek in Felix's ears and diagnosed an ear infection. Again. More antibiotics.

On Monday, we went for his 2 year old developmental review. Very exciting. "Do you have any concerns?", the health visitor asked. Well, I am NOT concerned, but I know that his speech is behind (way behind) so I explained that I am confident he communicates well (signing mainly) and that his language development is also fine, just that his verbal skills leave a little to be desired. I also made it clear that I was not concerned by this, I was just aware of it. He says approx 10-15 words and the average at this age is 50 words.

So she asked about his hearing, which I am also certain is fine, and about ear infections. Ah. Now we have it. Yes, he does seem to be prone to ear infections.

Well, apparently, regular ear infections, or even (gasp) glue ear, can mean that the child doesn't hear certain sounds clearly - which would explain why his C or K sound is more of a tongue click (think horse feet sound effects). We have therefore been referred for a hearing test.

On the whole, it was a lovely review of his progress. Some of the questions she asked made me feel very proud and like a good parent (how rarely do health visitors achieve this?) and she made a couple of good suggestions to solve our problem areas, such as teeth cleaning.

The next day, I had a midwife appointment. It was my birthday and I knew she was going to take blood (for the down's screening test) so I persuaded my mum to come with me to hold my hand. I am so relieved she did. Just talking about random things made the whole experience a lot more bearable and stopped the midwife from telling me all about my veins - ewww!

After the midwife had felt my tummy and 'oooh'ed at how large I am already (how rude), I asked if we would listen to the heart. I couldn't remember when this would happen and thought my mum would love the experience. Of course, now I know, this isn't normally recommended until 28 weeks (wow, that's late) but as I asked, she consented. And she found it straight away. Bless. My mum's face was a picture. Sometimes you forget what joy you bring your parents by producing a grandchild for them. Her reaction was the perfect reminder.

Monday, 14 June 2010

Stop the car I need a weewee

So I had this situation for a week or so where I couldn't wee - might as well jump right in and say it. If you can't take this directness, you certainly can't take what's going to follow. Look away now.

It seems, touch wood, to have disappeared again. I remember from my first pregnancy, that if I didn't go to the loo regularly and I let myself get desperate, I would have problems weeing at all. I could sit on the toilet, absolutely bursting and nothing would happen. Except a few tears streaming down my cheeks with the stress/discomfort of it all.

And from just before we went on holiday to the time of my scan (the EXACT time of my scan) this awful symptom (or should we call it a side-effect?) came back to taunt me in pregnancy number two.

Now imagine the scene. We are disembarking the ferry... quick wee and into the car. Sit in the car, sit in the car, sit in the car, ooh we're moving, depart the ferry. Lovely. Queue for passport control, wait a bit, wait a bit more, a little more, yay, we're through and off on our journey. It didn't take too long actually (much faster than UK passport control), but it did add to the planned two hour journey time.

The SatNav took us on a weird windy route, away from all major French roads. So no service stations with toilets. There were villages where we could have stopped, if we were feeling brave, but we were not. We had a sleeping toddler and we did NOT wish him to wake up, so on we went as I bravely announced "I'll be fine, I can hold it a little longer."

I was lying. I needed to go. Now. So I got out a nappy.

I can't quite believe that I am going to relay this story. Deep breath.

So, I managed to wriggle the nappy inside my pants, trousers and seatbelt - no mean feat. I made sure the stretchy bits were spread wide and kept my hand around my crotch so that the nappy stayed in place and there was no risk of leakage. I sat as upright as possible and let my urge to wee translate into a bodily function. Nothing.

I thought this was my clever body telling me that weeing with your clothes on, whilst sitting in a moving car was not really the 'done thing'. I felt a little bit proud of myself.

Nonetheless, I altered my position and tried again. Nothing. By this time we were approaching a village. A few people may have walked by so I tried to disguise the situation as best I could and waited for the next opportune area of countryside.

Here we go... countryside, no-one around, "just let go body, just let go". Nothing. Husband was beginning to find it funny by now, well, ok, he found it funny to begin with and I swore him to absolute secrecy - Hi honey, please don't tell your family still, that'd be weird. He did offer some kind help and encouragement by making running water type sounds, pssssssss, for example. Yep, he tried to help. Nothing.

He stopped finding it funny when I made a really serious effort after another village and ended up in tears. Not upset tears, just the falling out of your eyes kind that you can't help when something hurts so much. It wasn't like actual pain either (in case you're wondering if I had some kind of infection - trust me, it wasn't the same), just grrrrr, 'wee, damn you' tears!

Eventually, and mainly because hubby was lost, we stopped in a layby. I undid my seatbelt turned around and knelt on the seat (many people choose this position for giving birth, I believe) and concentrated so hard, that a teeny tiny little wee trickled out and into the nappy. Hubby asked if I was 'doing it', "shut up", I responded with ferocious concentration. A little more wee. Toddler woke up and looked straight at me, husband congratulated him on witnessing this epic moment in his mother's life. A little bit more wee. Then I got nervous about how much I was doing and if the nappy could take it so I stopped. I felt a little relief but still needed the toilet. Thankfully this was enough to see me to our arrival at our holiday resort (let's not name it here as I really don't think they'd enjoy the publicity).

Husband was dispatched from the car with a not very full nappy to dispose of in the roadside bin. And on with the journey.

The weeing situation seemed to get worse throughout the holiday, in that, I wouldn't even need to get 'desperate' to find I would sit on the loo and have nothing come out (apart from a few tears). I was making plans to ask the sonographer at my first scan to check the positioning of my bladder and urethra as I thought it must be trapped somewhere by the baby.

The journey back home in the UK was worse. Husband wisely announced "there'll be services on the M25, we'll stop there". Incorrect husband. There are no services on that section of the M25 and it would appear that the junction to the M1 is also closed right now with major queues backing up. Out came the nappy once again. Pointlessly as nothing happened. Thank christ for Toddington Services.

I continued to have problems peeing that weekend and when we went for our scan on the Monday where I had to have a full bladder (?!?!?!?!? do they not REALISE how difficult it is to keep your bladder full for half an hour when you're pregnant?!?), the NHS were typically running late (I should point out right now that I LOVE the NHS and am a massive fan of hospital food, they're just late. always. fact.). The poor sonographer noticed that I 'danced' into the room and asked if I needed to go. He had a quick look at the baby, reported that my bladder was too full and I should go and empty it. I apologised that I might be 'a while', left... and Lo!, I sat down on the loo and the floodgates literally opened. I think I may have had another little cry, of relief this time.

And it seems to have been fixed ever since. So... have a good laugh, confess if you've ever weed in a nappy yourself and sympathise with me if you had problems weeing during pregnancy too. Please nicely, as I'm still a little shocked that I am sharing such an embarrassing encounter with the entire WWW. Eeeek!