Motherhood

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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Them, now… December 2015

So here we are, almost at Christmas! It will be Little Mister’s second festive season and Little Misses’ fourth – and her last as a proper toddler before starting school next year (deep breaths!). Today our baby boy (rapidly turning into a feisty toddler himself) turns 17 months old, and a few days ago our his sister turned three years and 8 months. It’s been too long since I wrote a post just about them, their ever developing little personalities and their lovely little quirks. So here’s a snapshot of what they are both like right now, so I can look back and remember details that might otherwise become a hazy blur.

Them now.jpg

The last month or so has really seen Little Mister finding his voice. He’s saying new things every day and yesterday strang together what I think might have been his first mini sentence –“bib on”. All important to him as it signals that food is imminent!

His early words, other than Mum-mum and Dada (now quite clearly being said as Daddee) included banana (said as “mana” and now generally requested at the end of every meal!), “mulk” (milk) and “more” (again, important at meal times!). He’s also really keen on animals, using “baa” for sheep, “woo” or “woof” for dog and “neigh” for horse. And tiger and duck are also popular. He gets very animated about his animals, it’s so cute. Monkeys are also a favourite too.

Our little man certainly knows his own mind now too, demanding to be let “out” of his cot, buggy or highchair as soon as he’s fed up (or fed in the case of the latter).

He’s learnt that his sister’s favourite dolly is called Wah Wah and he’ll say that too whenever he gets his hands on her. All dolls are called Wah Wah as far as he’s concerned. And he quite likes to play with them at the moment. This is probably because he generally likes to get involved in whatever little Miss is doing but possibly also because he’s learnt he can wind her up a bit by doing so. We’ve had quite a few skirmishes lately over Wah Wah and her accompanying buggy!

But despite the daily tussles, he loves his sister really and now says her name and has started to call out to her, which is lovely to hear. Although they are in separate rooms at nursery they sometimes meet in the outside play area and last week I was told Little Miss and her friend had been playing with Little Mister, pushing him around in a Crazy Coupe car. Cue lots of warm fuzzy feelings!

Siblings autumn 2015

His first fumbling footsteps seem so long ago now. He can still be a bit wobbly on his feet but he’ll happily run across a room shouting “go, go go!”. Apparently he also does this at nursery while chasing two young lady friends!

He’s already trying to jump and is a keen climber, which keeps us on our toes. Having an older sibling to copy has made him far more daring than she was at his age. Being much bigger and a boy probably also has something to do with it. Given half a chance he’ll be stod up on one of our little wooden toddler chairs, grinning with delight, arms aloft, wobbling precariously. “Get down” is becoming a common parental phrase. He also loves climbing up on his sister’s bed and the other morning we caught the pair of them stood up by their window, drawing on the steamed up pane. It’s definitely a case of double trouble now!

Sharing a room

Little Mister finally moved out of our room at the end of September (having enjoyed a much extended stay compared to his sister). In our little two-bedroom house, he now shares with Little Miss and so far it’s been great. We’ve heard her talking to him in the mornings and him trying to communicate back, it’s very sweet.

We recently redecorated to give the room a new identity for the both of them, with sunny yellow walls, grey as an accent colour and star prints on the curtains and new toy basket. We just have some new wall stickers to add now as a finishing touch.

Not-so-little Little Miss

She’s still one of the more petite ones for her age but it feels like Little Miss has grown up such a lot this year and the last few weeks have seen us visiting schools and applying for places for next September.

Like any three year old, she asks lots of questions about the world around her – including this week why her brother’s ‘bottom’ is different to hers! I’m surprised she hasn’t asked that one before. She also asked how I got her ‘out of my tummy’ when she was a baby – a lot of hard work I replied!

Her games have become increasingly imaginative and I would love to be a fly on the wall at nursery where some of the most creative scenarios seem to originate. She’s also starting to get a bit better at incorporating her little brother into some of her role play and he in turn is becoming a more able participant (for five minutes or so at least!). She likes to pretend he’s her pet dog and take him for walks using the rein on her old backpack. And he’s very happy to run up and down barking enthusiastically! I must film it to bring out when they’re older.

Her drawings are becoming more detailed. She recently did her first family portrait of us – see the masterpiece below. I am far left, looking rather serious. Daddy is far right, hanging upside down. This was, apparently, not a mistake!

Family portrait

I wouldn’t be surprised if she really did draw Daddy upside down as a joke. She is quite the little comedienne and has been from an early age. She will say things to be deliberately funny or silly.

And she says a lot. It’s amazing to think that this time two years ago she was only really just starting to talk. She still can’t always say her Fs properly, pronouncing them as P instead which leads to the somewhat amusing use of “pox” instead of fox, “pish pingers” for fish fingers and one of her favourite songs in Frozen (which she adores right now) is “Por the Pirst Time in Porever!”

I’m looking forward to a Christmas where she understands just that little bit more than last time and really appreciates all the magic. It’s such a blessing to have two small children at this time of year – even if life does feel a bit like a hamster wheel at times.

Categories: Motherhood, Mummy memories, Toddlerdom | Leave a comment

Motherhood is bad for your barnet!

In the shower this morning my mind, as usual, started to wonder. Some days I could put the world to rights while standing alone (yes alone!) under that wonderful, warm running water. On this particular occasion, though, my thoughts turned to hair…

Motherhood is bad for your hair

Today was a no-wash day. I’d have quite liked to but, as is so often the case now, there wasn’t enough time. Back in the days when I was young and childless my locks were washed every day without fail. Sometimes twice if I was going out on the town that night or had been to the gym (ha!).

In those days I only had a very vague idea of what dry shampoo was. My mum had mentioned it once. I’d certainly never used it.

Back then I also thought nothing of regularly spending a hundred quid in a hairdressing salon. Full head of foil high and low lights, cut and blow dry? Yes please. And of course I’ll blow an extra twenty quid on a fancy shampoo and styling product combo that I don’t really need! And I’d do this every 3 months or so.

Fast forward to now? My hair gets chopped once every six months at best, if I’m lucky and/or remember. Basically, once it gets long enough to become really annoying. High

And it is just a cut – a dry cut for twenty quid at a salon in town where I know I can pretty much walk in off the street at a moment’s notice, ie when the stars align, I’m getting desperate and Little Mister decides to nap or the husband can take the kids for half an hour.

Yes, my hair has definitely been a casualty of children. And incidentally, I was also one of those who missed out on the promised so-called pregnancy boost to hair – my maternal locks were more limp and greasy than thick and glossy and once the babies were here I then spent weeks molting like an overgrown household pet!

So it seems, for me at least, that motherhood isn’t great for your hair.

Lady at hair dressers

Living the dream! (Not me, in case anyone was seriously wondering!)

Pic credits: freedigitalphotos.net/StuartMiles and Marin

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Working mum woes…

Today, juggling motherhood with work has felt difficult. Balancing my priorities and responsibilities has felt almost impossible and I’m left with the feeling that I haven’t been able to perform either of my roles as well as I’d have liked. I’ve felt tired, guilty, frustrated and overwhelmed.

Poor Little Mister isn’t very well. He’s been fighting a temperature and is so miserable. My usually happy, busy little boy has been floored by a nasty virus. Really, I should have been at home with him.

Working Mum WoesThe problem is that working part-time, Monday to Wednesday, means that missing today would have made my short working week even shorter. With some big deadlines looming and the two recent Bank Holidays having already curtailed my hours, staying at home didn’t feel like an option.

Having only recently returned from maternity leave, I do feel under pressure to prove myself again. My work is important to me and, of course, I want others to value what I’m doing. After almost a year out of the office, I want to show that I can still have an impact and am good at what I do. I want to feel good at what I do again.

But my brain just wasn’t feeling it today. After a broken night responding to the little man’s distressed cries, my thoughts were sluggish. My creative juices just wouldn’t flow and any flourish that I might have had in the past felt totally diminished.

I’d arrived late, thanks in the main to an unhelpful fit of willfulness from my toddler. The persistent rain and traffic that seemed to be conspiring against me didn’t help matters either. And Little Mister was never far from my thoughts, even though he was safely at home being looked after perfectly well by Daddy who was in a better position than me to take the work hit.

I know we probably did the right thing today. That I at least was able to get something, rather than nothing, done and be present among my colleagues. But my inner critic keeps telling me that if I’m going to spend a day away from my sick child then I really should have made it count. I should have been firing on all cylinders, producing dazzling copy. I can’t help but feel like I’ve failed all round.

I know I’m being over dramatic and that I’ve heaped this pressure on myself – why do we do that? I know that my colleagues probably didn’t notice that I was struggling to be productive and that I still have time to ‘pull it out of the bag’ before next week. I know today could have been so much worse on so many levels. That I should, and do, feel grateful for all the good things.

As can be said about so many things in parenthood, I know this will pass. It will all be ok. Tomorrow is another day.

Has anyone else been struggling with the juggle this week? Do let me know any tips

Image: Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Categories: Mind matters, Motherhood, Working mum | Tags: , | 12 Comments

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

Categories: Baby days, Motherhood, Mummy memories | Leave a comment

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