Baby days

My birth stories: The arrival of Little Miss

This post probably should have been one of my first! It’s one I’ve been meaning to write for absolutely ages. There are so many little details that I don’t want to forget as the years pass by – almost four already. So, with it now being Little Miss’s birthday month, here it finally is – her birth story.

My birth stories 1

It all began on Tuesday 27 March – three days before both my birthday and due date. I woke early that morning with a mild crampy feeling and when I went to the loo, realised I’d had a show.

I knew this didn’t necessarily mean I would go into proper labour instantly, and even if I did it was likely to take a while, so we carried on as usual. I’d read the books and been to NCT classes, I knew what I was doing – or so I thought!

The husband went to work and I went over to my morning midwife appointment as planned. I was still only getting the odd crampy sensation at that point. This continued throughout the day and by about 4pm the pains were starting to feel more intense though still very bearable.

Things carried on much the same that night. We let the hospital know and they predicted they would probably be seeing me in the morning. I bounced on a birth ball a bit while watching TV. At some point late that night I think I cracked open the TENS machine. I felt excited but calm, in control and relieved that something was happening as I’d been dreading the prospect of going overdue – though had assumed I would as I wasn’t convinced they had my dates right.

I slept a bit that night, not wonderfully but  I managed to get some rest. Then we got through the morning – using the TENS machine, distracting myself, keeping mobile like I’d read in the books and learnt in the classes. This was ok, I thought. I can cope with this (it gets more interesting later!).

After lunch we both felt it must be time to go the hospital. My contractions were getting stronger and closer together. This must be it, I thought. And dare I say it, I was probably feeling ever so slightly smug at how well I thought I was dealing with what, I thought, by now must be full-on labour pain.

Only two centimetres – you’re kidding me!

And so we arrived at the antenatal day unit. The midwife examined me and pronounced that yes I was in the ‘early’ stages of labour – and congratulated me on being two centimetres dilated. TWO! She seemed happy with that. I definitely was not! Two measly centremetres! And then it started to dawn on me that I was not as in control as I thought. My sense of calm was somewhat premature. My body was only just getting started. Sh*t!

The midwife initially suggested we went home for a bit. But given that we were over half an hour drive each way from the hospital (and the husband was pretty nervous about the possibility of an in-car, roadside delivery), there was no way either of us planned on leaving that hospital.

So she moved to plan B and offered to give me a sweep to try and speed things along.

Let’s just say it did the trick.We were sent off to walk around the hospital corridors for an hour or so to see how things went. They went painfully! After several episodes of me leaning over various walls, ledges and garden benches as the pain started to overwhelm me, it became obvious that the sweep was having the desired effect.

By the time we went back to the antenatal assessment ward I was feeling sick and pretty desperate. They offered me gas and air, which I couldn’t get my hands on quick enough. I was hot and sweaty and have vague memories of pretty much stripping off by the bed, cubicle curtains wide open, not giving a damn who could see me!

I feel sorry for the women who were on the ward for observation that day and not yet in labour. I didn’t do a very good job of selling it to them. My sense of self-awareness had long left the building! A healthy dose of realism was all I had to offer.

They hooked me up to monitor to check the baby’s heart rate and my husband did an annoying thing I’ve since seen repeated by other men on One Born Every Minute. He kept looking at the machine and telling me when contractions were starting to build from the change in the wiggly line. The only useful aspect of this was his being able to suggest when one might be coming to an end.

Anyway, while I might have scared/annoyed/amused the other women on the antenatal ward, my hollering finally got me admitted to the labour ward (And, on a serious note, I do stand by it as  a coping mechanism – yelling propelled me through the birth of my second baby too!).

Making an entrance on the delivery suite…

So at 5pm exactly, my labour was finally deemed ‘established’ and I was granted access to the delivery suite. One of the first things I did when I got into my room? Threw up down the back of the bed! That’s gratitude. The midwives, as they were throughout, were wonderful and kind and quickly cleared everything up without a murmour.

At this point I seriously started to question my all-natural birth plan and ability to get through labour without stronger pain relief. I started to make inquiries about what an epidural would entail. They put my name on the waiting list for an anaesthetist to come and see me. It was suddenly so much more appealing.

It was incredibly busy that night on the labour ward – we were later told that we were the last to be admitted and if we’d been any later we would have ended up being transferred to another hospital. And it wouldn’t have even been one of the next closest hospitals as they were full too. We could have ended up in London or over in Kent.

As it was, the busyness helped me. With the delivery suite at full capacity and several emergency c-sections happening, there wouldn’t be an anaesthetist free to see me any time soon. This, it transpired, was a turn of luck (I know that might seem an odd choice of words). It forced my hand and put me back on track with our original plan. My mindset had to shift – knuckle down and get on with it, the pain will pass.

By the time an anaesthetist became available, I’d got through the hardest bit, with the unflinching support of my husband. I had been very sick and had struggled to keep any fluids down for a few hours, which hadn’t helped when I was wavering. But at some point I was offered a drip to rehydrate me, which was a huge help. I got some strength back, felt more in control again and, knowing I’d now got to 8cm dilated, I was happy enough to carry on as I was.

Finally she’s here

FirstPictureLittleMissAt 9.49pm our baby, a beautiful daughter, was finally born (we hadn’t found out the sex beforehand). My hospital notes described my time in labour as just 4 hours 49 minutes – I beg to differ! But, overall, I can look back and say I was blessed with a straightforward, intervention-free delivery.

Looking at my notes from the time, apparently my waters didn’t break until 9.15pm and the second stage of labour (the pushing bit) lasted 29 minutes.To me that last bit, which I’d expected to find hardest, wasn’t so bad. Knowing I was so close made me feel so much better. The time went quickly.

Little Miss was perfect, weighing 7lb 8oz (3.4 kg). She aced her Apgar score – 9 at one minute and ten at five minutes once her little hands had pinked up. It was wonderful to be able to hold her straight away.

Of course, we were completely elated. And overwhelmingly relieved that she’d arrived safely. I’d found pregnancy a huge mental challenge. Physically everything had been fine but having suffered a late miscarriage 16 months before, I had been terrified that things could go wrong. Much of the time I just counted down the days, willing myself through it.

I was amazed at how quickly we decided on her name. We’d had a clear front runner for a boy – which we used two years later – but several potential girl’s names were on our list and we’d by no means made up our minds. Beforehand it had felt like a such a big decision to grapple with, hence we had decided to wait until we saw her. I imagined it taking hours, possibly days, so we were both surprised when very quickly we had a moment of clarity and agreed within the first five minutes of her arrival.

Our first night

After an hour or so finishing up in the delivery room, I was wheeled through to the post natal ward. I was given the option of walking round – hell no! I’ve just pushed a baby out thank you, I’ll be putting my feet up now, thanks!

I got settled on the ward and then all too soon the husband had to leave. Well, he was politely thrown out as those were the hospital rules back then.

I remember having a hunger like I’ve never felt before. Mars Bars were consumed – along with all the other energy-rich snacks I’d packed, thinking I’d be eating them during labour.

Then alone on the ward, once I’d satisfied my chocolate craving, the enormity of it all hit me. That night was such a mixture of feelings. I felt pretty  invincible, amazed that I had got through it all unscathed and without an epidural. I felt proud of what my body had achieved. I had, with my husband of course (as he’ll be reading this!), created the tiny little, living, breathing, perfect human bundle laying next to me in her hospital crib.

But along with the euphoria, I also felt a huge feeling of responsibility. Of course, I expected this but you can’t quite imagine it until you’re finally left alone with your new arrival.

Within twenty minutes of me finally laying back in bed to try and rest and get some sleep, Little Miss gave me an ill-timed dose of reality on the joys of parenthood to come when she suddenly started coughing and spluttering and threw up a load of phlegmy green muck. “Ah yes,” said my friend, who’d given birth to her third daughter the day before me, when I replied to a text later in the middle of the night “that happened to me, they don’t warn you about that”. Too right they don’t. For a moment I was terrified that Little Miss was seriously ill. But apparently it’s very normal, she was just clearing out nine months of muck. And so began the first of many outfit/bedding changes/clean up jobs.

Hard work.jpg

After that, I was too scared to sleep in case Little Miss needed me again. So I vowed to stay awake all night – and ordered three new parent books on Amazon in the early hours! I was on the hunt for the best possible manual to go with this new thing in our lives

I was relieved when morning came. I managed to successfully navigate through breastfeeding and a major nappy change, and then Daddy came back. Little Miss passed all her checks and we waited to be discharged to go home – which took all day as the place was so busy. Both sets of grandparents and one new aunty and uncle came to the hospital. I continued to be absolutely ravenous and wolfed down all available food!

FirstDay

Finally, almost 24 hours after her birth, we  left the hospital. Little Miss looking far too small for her car seat, me sat in the back next to her. On the drive home I finally got some rest. And then our parenthood journey truly began.

Car seat

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Five things my kids are (or were) scared of

Babies are funny little creatures, aren’t they? There are plenty of things in their world that they really ought to be a bit more apprehensive about. Creating your own new ‘pond dipping’ game in the toilet your big sister just peed in could result in injury a tummy ache, for example (Yes, my son did this at the weekend). Attempting to scramble upstairs every time you spot the gate open when you can barely walk may well turn out to be a bad idea. Trying to poke your chubby little fingers into a plug socket could give you a nasty surprise. And putting small pebbles from the beach straight into your mouth is never going to make you popular with Mummy.

Yes, right now my 13-month-old son is just a bit of a liability. So it makes me chuckle to think of some of the things he actually perceives as a genuine threat and to remember some of those Little Miss struggled with too.

1. Men with beards – both my two have struggled with this one and to an extent I do agree – I’m not a beard-lover myself (sorry to all those I’ve just alienated!). That said, I’ve yet to burst into tears at the sight of one! Our best beard-related wobbly was when the vicar, a youngish, friendly and very non-scary man of God, came to visit us ahead of Little Mister’s Baptism. Baby boy took one look at him and screamed. He then clung onto me for the entire visit while continuing to glare suspiciously at our hirsute houseguest.

George Pig armbands

These bad boys are clearly terrifying!

2. A pair of George Pig armbands – we’re trying to get into a regular family swimming routine and bought these for Little Mister a couple of weeks ago. When I first took them out of the box and started to blow them up, his bottom lip started to tremble. When I cheerfully tried to show them to him he moved away and started to cry! This was repeated for a good half hour every time the offending inflatable came anywhere near him! He has now grudgingly accepted them. All very random.

3. Hand driers – Probably a more common baby phobia than the previous one. Little Miss used to be terrified of them, especially the Xlerator ones. I can recall being at a family gathering at a posh golf club when she was five months old. We’d taken her off to sort out a ‘special’ nappy and I forgot about The Fear. I returned back into a room full of seldom-seen, well-wishing relatives with a screaming, traumatised baby. Parenting fail.

Henry Hoover

Help, it’s looking at me Mummy!

4. The hoover – Little Miss used to panic when it came out at the end of the day at nursery. She was concerned by Henry Hoovers. Maybe it was the face. I can remember her seeing one in a shopping centre and quizzing me about where it was going and having to give it a ridiculously wide berth. Even now, if I’m hoovering at home she hops up on the bed out of the way – although she has softened somewhat now and does like to have a go at pushing it herself (teach them young I say!).

5. Andy at nursery – Linked to the above, for Little Miss at least. Our kids go to a lovely nursery and at the end of the day the owner’s husband, Andy, who looks after all the maintenance, comes round to do the cleaning. When Little Miss was smaller it became a running joke that she didn’t like Andy. He tried not to take offence, it was the hoover! Well, now it seems that her younger brother also takes exception to the appearance of Andy too. We’re not even sure it’s because of the hoover as he’s always seemed fascinated by that at home. Andy tells us he’s trying not to get a complex. And he doesn’t even have a beard!

Five things my kids are scared ofImage credit: freedigitalimages.net/Phaitoon

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A classic for the family album!

Meal times are always interesting with a baby and a toddler sat at the table.

What might have caused Little Mister’s distress, I hear you ask? The discovery that there really is no more yogurt left in his bowl, that’s what. The indignity!

I’d thought his sister was just smiling nicely for a photo but maybe there’s some smugness as well. Clearly she still has pudding left to enjoy.

Love it!

WickedWeds_3Picture copyright http://www.mummystodolist.com

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Happy first birthday Little Mister

The end of June and beginning of July was already a busy time for birthdays in our family and then last year we added the most important celebration of them all to our somewhat crowded calendar (sorry husband, mother-in-law, brother-in-law and niece!). On July 1st 2014 our big, beautiful baby boy arrived – all 9-and-a-half pounds of him!

And now our darling, loving, funny, cheeky Little Mister is one. In many ways it feels like he’s been here forever but, thinking back now, it also feels like time has flown  too. I know everybody says that but it’s true.

This time last year we were in the midst of a heatwave and had taken to sleeping downstairs in the lounge with our precious new arrival as we felt our bedroom was just too hot for a newborn.

This year, again, the weather has been pretty warm lately and Little Mister’s birthday was one of the hottest days of the year so far. With the good weather, time off work and several different events and outings during birthday week, it felt like we stretched out the celebrations and the party atmosphere.

Happy first birthday

It started with a picnic in the park with family and a few close friends the weekend before the big day.

Everyone loves a picnic and the sun shone brightly for ours. We found the perfect spot under a shady tree, hung up the birthday bunting and a super-shiny foil balloon (baby treasure!) and spent a lovely, relaxed afternoon.

The older kids were able to run around and play, while the littlest ones crawled around on blankets. Mummy even managed to have a stubby beer!

Little Mister held court in his prince charming bib sat on our highchair booster seat, unintentionally like a little throne – we used it to keep the little monkey in one place while we ate!

Of course, birthdays mean cake. Little Mister has always loved his food. And he definitely loves cake. He hadn’t really had it much before now but he’s quickly got the hang of it. These days he likes to point at things he wants and the appearance of cake heralds a lot of serious pointing. For his picnic Daddy made two (show off!). One baby-friendly banana-based one with strawberries and cream cheese icing, and a sticky chocolate one.

Little Mister cake

Little Mister loved the cake – didn’t take his eyes off it until a piece arrived in front of him. But even sweeter was his reaction to people singing to him. He loves music and especially loved being sung to. So, so cute. Cake and singing is definitely a winning combination for this little boy!

His actual birthday was on a Wednesday but I took the Tuesday off work as well (meaning I did a one-day week!) and we had a day together on our own while Little Miss was at nursery. We rarely get to hang out just the two of us now I’m back at work so it was nice to just relax and enjoy the little man’s company.

By the time the big day finally arrived, he had become very accustomed to opening presents – it must have been the third or fourth day in a row that gifts had miraculously appeared in front of him! As you can see, he had an incredibly keen present-opening assistant in the form of his big sister. I imagine by this time next year he won’t be quite so obliging about having her help. And, yes, he is sitting on the present in the first picture!Little Mister Birthday Collage 2

His main gift from us was a new set of wheels – a Little Tykes 4-in-one trike. We’ve taken him out on it a few times now and he seems to enjoy it. At the moment we use it with him strapped in (the seat belt takes this mummy a good few minutes to fathom as it’s a pretty secure five-point one) and the parent handle is nice and easy to push and steer. I always try to buy things that are going to last as long as possible so I love the fact that this can be adapted to grow with him over the next couple of years. Right now, it’s been lovely to be able to go out all together pushing him on the trike and his sister on the bike she had for her birthday.

He also had two fab Duplo sets – Combine and Create Cars and a construction site one – an ELC Light and Sounds Emergency Centre and a Light and Sounds Police Car. Quite a strong car theme emerging – and I try not to gender stereotype – but he really does seem to enjoy them and has been pushing anything car-like along the floor for a while now. My mum got him a tent and tunnel set (that his sister can’t wait to play with!) and he also got some great new shirts – including an incredibly funky purple dinosaur one by Tu. Can’t wait to wear that on holiday (it’s a bit big at the moment). In short, he was nicely spoiled.

Little Mister Birthday Collage 1

Cards, presents and breakfast sorted, we headed out for a day at Fisher’s Farm Park, just down the road from us here in West Sussex. I’ve been wanting to go for a while now and we had the perfect day for it. Midweek prices are that little bit lower and the attractions a bit less busy. And the weather was lovely, meaning we got to make use of the little splash park there – worth bringing the swimming cozies for – and enjoy another birthday picnic!

Fisher’s probably deserves a whole post to itself, so I’ll add that to my blog to-do list, but in short we had a lovely day there. There was plenty to keep both a one and a three year old entertained and I can see us spending many fun-filled days here as they grow up (there are lots of more adventurous attractions for older kids too). We all enjoyed cooling off in the Splash Attack water zone. It did seem calmer and more toddler-friendly in the morning before the bigger kids took over en mass later on (it’s not huge and there were quite a few school groups there that day). We went on a tractor/trailer ride around the farm, past the animals, and Little Miss loved the pedal cars, two small fairground rides and the bumpy Barrel Bugs ride. We also had fun on the outdoor trampolines and then later on in the indoor soft play. We quickly ran out of time to do and see everything – I know Little Miss would have loved to see The Enchanted Woods (had she known about them!). And we barely looked at, let alone touch, the actual farm animals! There is an Animal Encounters Barn and shows and sessions throughout the day. So we will have to go back soon.

Fishers Farm birthday collage

Once home we enjoyed a ‘birthday burgers’ tea and another cake to round off the day. We also had our shower, for want of a better description, explode just as we came to the end of our meal! We heard a loud pop upstairs followed by water gushing out of the wall! So while our tired little ones slept, Mummy and Daddy spent the rest of the evening speaking to a plumber, filling up jugs as the mains supply had to go off for the night, cleaning up the mess and hoping our damp and leaking living room ceiling didn’t fall down! It didn’t and it all got sorted but I sure could have done with a shower at the end of such a hot, busy day! Lucky I was still in a buoyant mood.

Birthday cake

So now he’s into his second year and before I go, here are a few things about him now that I don’t want to forget.

Little Mister at one…

Likes:

Food (we’ve yet to find anything he really dislikes! He especially loves tomatoes, yoghurt and bananas), eating loudly to show his appreciation, climbing (even though he’s not quite walking), forbidden areas (stairs, the kitchen when the oven’s on, open doors, plug sockets), mobile phones and the remote control, bath time and splashing, cuddles, music, biting (hopefully it’s just a stage!), music, snatching people’s glasses, saying ‘yeah’, waving, clapping, dancing, pressing buttons (especially on noisy books and doorbells!.

Dislikes:

Nappy changes, the word ‘no’, unfamiliar men (especially ones with beards!).

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Little Mister at nine months

Little Mister at 9 monthsSo, the Little Man is now just over nine months old . We’ve enjoyed a whole three quarters of a year in his wonderful company. And – deep breath – today is his first full day at nursery… Mummy may be feeling just a little bit emotional right now!

This morning, for the first time, we dropped both children off. I cried in the car park afterwards! I now have two whole days to myself before returning to work three days a week from Monday. The house is so quiet! I’m sitting drinking a coffee while typing at the laptop during daylight hours for the first time in ages. And I’m trying to resist the urge to call nursery and check he ate his breakfast ok! Hopefully he’ll be settling down for his nap now so I’ll at least give them a chance to see how that goes first. Little Mister in cot

Right now time seems to speed up yet also slow down at whim. On the one hand, it feels like he’s been here forever. Last summer and those blurry newborn days seem so long ago. The weeks pass so quickly. But it also feels like so much has happened between then and now that it can’t possibly have gone that fast.

At nine months, Little Mister is such a cheeky little chap. He makes us laugh all the time. He is loud and full of energy. Always busy, a real little explorer and incredibly nosy. Even nosier than his sister – and she doesn’t miss a trick.

He chatters, squeals, shouts and growls. A lot. The growling seems to be a bit of a speciality. There’s excited growling, especially when music is playing or he’s found something good to play with, and then there’s his trying to get to sleep growling. The latter is somewhat less appealing when it’s performed in the early hours.

He can now commando crawl at great speed across a room. If he spots something he wants, especially something he shouldn’t really have, he will launch himself forward to grab it. He’s also pretty good at reaching up and it won’t be long before he’ll be pulling himself up properly on the furniture.

While his sister was generally more calm and cautious, slow and steady, he wants to have everything, to be everywhere. Everything is a source of wonder. He has no fear! Peepo But he still loves a Mummy cuddle. I adore the way he comes over to me and puts up his chubby little hands up to be picked up. The way his little face lights up when I come back in the room. Yesterday he had been fine during his induction session at nursery but as soon as I came back he pushed his lunch aside, which he had been happily eating, and cried for me to come and get him from his highchair. I was touched (if not feeling just a bit guilty) that he chose me over food!

He now has five teeth, the latest ones being his top two and just a few days ago we realised a third bottom one had popped through, which probably explains why he woke up suddenly and was very upset the night before. He is a great eater and with his new gnashers is increasingly keen to feed himself more finger food. He rarely turns anything down but especially seems to enjoy a home-cooked, mashed up roast dinner. And he gets very animated about his favourite dessert, yogurt.

Jungle gym play

He loves the bath, which he and his sister generally now share. He’s always eager to get in, kicking his legs in excitement as we carry him through. He loves all the toys, is perfectly happy for us to pour cups of water over his head and his speciality is splashing with Little Miss. I can’t wait to take him swimming soon.

He and Little Miss are getting a bit better at playing together these days. She will get down on the floor and crawl with him, which is very cute. And yesterday she was desperate for him to join her in her pink fairy castle wendy house! Hopefully as they get older they will become real little buddies.

So what else has he been up to since his last update at seven months? Well, the end of February saw a very special day, his Baptism. We all attend the local church we were married in and his sister was also Baptised there at a similar age so it was lovely to welcome him into the church family and share the occasion with our relatives and friends.

Little Mister

He took it all in his stride. No tears! Clearly he loves water. If he could have touched it, or better still got in and splashed he probably would have!

That said, we had wondered how happy he would be on the day as he had been very suspicious of the vicar when he came to visit us at home. I think it may have been a beard and/or black-framed glasses issue! Both our children have seemed to have a bit of a dislike for these, especially when in combo! Either way, he’d looked terrified and burst into tears on that home visit – how to make someone feel incredibly guilty! But when it came to the big day, that particular vicar was unwell (hopefully nothing to do with my offspring!) and the other vicar, who is probably a more familiar and definitely un-bearded face, stepped in.

We had a lovely little gathering afterwards and he received some beautiful gifts, which both he and his sister loved unwrapping. A special mention also to my talented mother-in-law, who once again made us a beautiful and very, very moreish Christening cake.

March saw another landmark in any baby’s life, his first go on a swing! Needless to say, our little daredevil loved it and the higher you push him the more likely he is to squeal with delight. His sister has also enjoyed having a go at pushing him. It makes trips to the park much more fun, although when we’re a trio the logistics are a starting to get a bit more complex.First swingThe end of March saw our first family mini-break, a trip to Peppa Pig World to mark his sister’s third birthday – more on those events to come in another post! He enjoyed the rides, of course, but was a bit less enamoured by the unfamiliar travel cot on our first night away.

Late March/early April is always going to be a busy but wonderful time for celebrations. There are now three family birthdays; Little Miss, mine two days later and also one of his cousins around the same time. Then it’s Easter. I couldn’t resist the blue bunny ears for his first Easter! His sister had pink and I somehow ended up in a spare pair of white ones my mum brought down. They look especially fetching worn with pyjamas!Easter bunny

All in all, it’s been a busy few weeks and life as we know it is all set to change yet again now I’m going back to work. My baby boy is getting bigger and more able all the time and I know that nursery will keep him fantastically entertained on the two days he’s there. I’m looking forward to summertime activities with our little clan – last year I was hugely pregnant for half of it. I want to grab every opportunity for fun and treasure every little moment as I know they pass fast. But for now, at least, he’s still my big-little baby!
Sleepy Little Mister

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