What a week…welcome Samuel!

imageSorry for the long silence, it has been quite a week! We welcomed Samuel into the world at 20:00 last Friday – it’s hard to believe he’s nearly a week old already.

I’m delighted to report that we pretty much had the birth we were after, which I’m coming to realise is a rarity. The birth centre was unstaffed, but we nabbed the last room in the delivery suite with a pool, so I was happy…I only spent an hour and a half in it though! Things moved along very rapidly with the aid of the pool and gas & air and, only 4 hours after arriving at Epsom, we had Samuel in our arms.

Despite the straightforward delivery, we unfortunately had a 4 day hospital stay and didn’t arrive home until Wednesday afternoon. Poor little Sam had jaundice, so this had to be monitored and eventually treated with 24 hours in a uv blanket to bring his levels down.

Now we’re home it already seems like a distant memory, but there were times that I felt like I was going mad – it’s hard not being allowed to go home (or outside – apparently it snowed one day!?), especially since Carl couldn’t stay over, meaning I had an 11-12 hour stint on my own each night. Fortunately, the slightly elongated stay meant that we made friends with other couples on the ward who were also being kept in and we all supported each other. Carl, as always, was just phenomenal. My constant support and rock through the ‘day 3 hormones’ and moments when I felt overwhelmed.

I intend to go through bits of our stay during further blog posts and the (minor) issues we faced and had to deal with during this time. My thanks go to all of the midwives, nurses and students at Epsom; they were just fantastic and unendingly supportive.

So…now the hard work begins!!

Being sensitive of due dates

imageDid you know that only 3-4% of babies are actually born on their due date? I’m of the opinion that parents-to-be should be given a due week or even month…! It’s always a guess (albeit an educated one) by the health professionals and most babies don’t get the memo about when they’re expected!

Whenever friends of mine reach their due date, I pretty much leave them alone until I receive news that their little one has been born. It’s not that I don’t care or that I’m not thinking of them; I am simply aware that they will have many people asking if there is news or how they’re getting on. I’ve always imagined this can be pretty frustrating. Now I’m very nearly in that position myself, I believe it could be pretty soul destroying (a direct quote from a friend who was 9 days overdue). Pregnancy lasts a long time and most women (and men!) are more than ready to meet their baby by the time their due date rolls around.

So, my advice (and plea) to my friends is as follows… I know you’re thinking of us and we know you want to hear positive news, but we would really appreciate it if you held off the ‘any update?’ texts tomorrow… When we have news, we’ll shout it from the rooftops. If I don’t reply immediately to a message, this is likely because I’m fairly terrible at replying, so no need to start speculating! Have no doubt, we’re very keen to announce news…so just bear with us until Bud decides to show up.

Thank you for all of your support, just remember we have up to another 2 weeks to go so just say hi or let us know what you’re up to!

Looking forward to the fast approaching future

With less than 3 weeks to go, I have now been home for just over 3 weeks…scary isn’t it; in less than the amount of time I’ve been home, we will have a baby!

While I still miss the routine of a working day, my thoughts have very much turned forward to after Bud is born. I haven’t thought about my daily calendars and spreadsheets in 2 weeks, so I must be adjusting!

Our preparations are coming along well, all we need to do is wash (and find…) the crib sheets and check we know how to fit the car seat. The nursery is yet to be furnished and decorated, but Bud won’t be in there for months so it’s not urgent. It’s all pearly white and ready to be dressed beautifully.

The crib arrived yesterday, so we’ll get that put up tonight ready for the big moment! Along with the travel system dilemma, which crib to buy took a lot of research and discussion. I’m going to dedicate my next blog post to this decision making process…there are so many options.

My dreams have started to include elements of what our life might be like, although I am sure they’re just wishful thinking! I am well ready to meet our little one now and every little twinge I feel makes me go “ooh, are we going now?”. What surprises me is that I have (at this moment) no fear of this moment, I’m excited about being there. 9 months is a long time to grow a person and look after someone you haven’t met yet!!

Nearly into the breech

What a 24 hours or so.

Yesterday, we had our 36 week appointment. Good blood pressure (me), good heartbeat (Bud); all was great until the midwife said the sentence which shattered my dreams: “Your baby is breech”.

Why now? Why SO close to the end when it’s harder for babies to turn back naturally? Since they started checking the position, Bud has always been head down, why turn now!?

I don’t think she had any idea of the emotions this set off, or maybe she would have been a bit less blunt. As it was, she picked up my Birth Preference form, flicked through it while glancing at all my ‘natural birth’ tick boxes and said “well, this might all have to change” before signing it. Sensitivity, not always highly rated amongst those in the medical profession!

Barely holding myself together, we finished up…and just about made it outside before I fell apart. All at once, all I could see were my natural birth preferences flying out of the window. My future suddenly seemed full of midwives and doctors recommending a Caesarean section and us having to battle to have it any other way…potentially with no other option being considered. Certainly, they would never let me near a birthing pool.

Irrationally, alongside being upset I was even angry with our poor unborn child, frustrated with my body for doing pregnancy wrong and annoyed with myself for apparently not being able to take my own advice. I kept repeating Jude’s words from our NCT classes: “Breech is just another version of normal”…but it didn’t help. Carl was so supportive and generally amazing, but I sank into misery.

I like plans and it seems that however much I say “my preferences are flexible…”, this might be something I will struggle with in reality; they feel like solid plans to me. However, the cause of this breakdown may simply be because I really don’t want a c-section, not unless it’s deemed medically necessary for mine or Bud’s health on the day. I’d rather not have that choice made for me weeks in advance.

After a long afternoon of tears, (thank goodness for Jude sending me a really supportive email, which calmed me somewhat) and a stress-induced migraine which kept me awake during the night, we had the scan this afternoon.

Upon arriving at the hospital, it seemed that I hadn’t been properly booked in, nor had any paperwork been sent over by yesterday’s midwife. Thankfully, the receptionist and our 20-week sonographer Stephanie were excellent and managed to slot us in after a half an hour or so wait.

Bud is firmly head down. Panic over.

Once that had sunk in, it was so good having another scan and getting another peek at our little wriggler! Fat belly (although still within the limits of what’s ok….just…), long legs (no surprise there) and now with hair! Hopefully it will only be a couple more weeks or so until we meet our little one.

Close up on Bud's face and arm

Close up on Bud’s face and arm

I really want to have a hug and apologise for being so stressed yesterday and for blaming an unborn baby for its position potentially not meeting my (not so flexible) requirements.

Now I will spend the rest of my pregnant time actually preparing myself for a change of circumstances if I am, for any reason, unable to have the labour and birth I’ve prepared myself for. Maybe I’ll re-read my earlier post ‘Choices’ and follow my own advice.

It’s been a little wake up call, which was perhaps needed to remind me that pregnancy doesn’t always go like clockwork.

As said by Jude many times, “babies haven’t read the manual”. 

Gender guesses and why parents-to-be should be spared them

We’re waiting for a surprise. We’re on ‘Team Yellow’.

However you choose to phrase it, we don’t know the sex of the baby.

36 week bump

36 week bump

Not many of my friends have had babies but, whenever I’ve seen someone pregnant, it has never crossed my mind to either hazard a guess at the gender of their baby or to ask if they know what they’re having. If the couple wanted me to know, they would share. Maybe I’m old fashioned that way!

This isn’t to say I necessarily mind the inevitable guesses – I’m continually amused to see that there is generally a (wait for it…) 50/50 split in the predictions (shock!) – most of the time it doesn’t bother me. However, there are some people who I just ‘know’ that, if their guess is right, will be all “Yeah, I knew that”…and that drives me crazy. It almost makes me think that if we have another, we should find out the sex simply so we can say “Yes, we know. No, we aren’t telling” and maybe we’ll be left alone. (FYI, this is a terrible reason to find out).

My advice to non-parents or people who need to be right (you do know if you’re one of them!)…keep your guesses to yourself and, when the baby is born, be pleased for the new parents, with no mention of whether you were ‘right’ or not. The parents have just been through labour and are likely completely overwhelmed with their new addition.

With only 4 weeks to go, we’re likely more curious than anyone and going round in circles about names, decorating decisions and the like. Let us enjoy these final weeks of the unknown, and then be pleased for us once we have our baby in our arms and announce the news.

“To NCT or not to NCT…that is the question”

Ok, so I might have slightly misquoted Shakespeare there but I’m sure he would have no objection to me borrowing the phrase.

Hospitals offer free ante-natal classes, so we initially wondered what we would gain from a paid class.

First, the major advantage was that the other couples attending would be more local – our hospital is Epsom, so it was unlikely we would meet local couples (Capel is a good 35 minutes away). Second, the classes are smaller. Third, and the real sell for us…they were so highly recommended by everyone we knew who had attended them.

I have heard a mixture of opinions on NCT classes and all I can say is that it must depend on your teacher and group. Our class was lovely and we all seemed to be around the same age, lived in local villages and we immediately clicked. Jude Palmer, our teacher, was/is brilliant (and is an amazing baker!!). I can’t really praise her highly enough; knowledgable, easy to talk to, never pushed opinions on us as she took us through our labour options, enthusiastic and comfortable talking about anything. Also a doula and mother of three, Jude has a tonne of experience around pregnancy and birth, which is very comforting when you have any questions!

Your enjoyment probably depends on your reasons for being there. I’ve always been keen to enter the hospital with no real clue and learn about labour on the day. After one NCT class I suddenly found that a) there were more options than I’d heard of (TENS machines, pethidine and water birth being 3 new ones to me) and b) knowledge is power. If you have an idea of what you want, but also about the alternatives, then labour is likely to be a lot less stressful if you have to deviate from your plan.

What I also liked was that it gave the dads a chance to talk together and bond. Women are more naturally chatty and will share their feelings (a general life rule!) but it gave the men the opportunity to talk openly with others in the same position. One of our early exercises involved the women writing down how they hoped labour would be, and the men writing what they hoped to do. It was incredibly touching to see answers like ‘support her’, ‘keep her safe’, ‘understand what’s going on’…and so on. In this environment, the men felt comfortable to come clean with their feelings, discuss their anxieties and what they would like to learn. Turns out that men think about it all just as much as we do and like to know what’s going on so they can help, rather than watching and feeling helpless.

Jude took us all through relaxation exercises – doing a variety so we could all find out what works best for us – massages the men could give and different ways they could help alleviate any pain, physically hold our bumps to lighten the load, and morally support us.

We covered more in those sessions than I can begin to go through here but the best compliment I can pay Jude is probably my previous post ‘Choices’. It is based on what I learned and the information we were given – I would never have felt so confident or sure of what I would like prior to the course.

So, look into the options and ask people local to you about their classes, or even get specific teacher recommendations. Or make use of the free hospital ante-natal classes. Whatever you decide, I would advise going to some form of class to meet other parents to be and to learn as much as you can. You’ll be glad you did!

Coming soon…I’ve been off work for a week and a half now and I miss my outlook calendar and trusty spreadsheet. How am I coping!? x

Home Alone week 1 is complete

Today concludes my first full week at home on maternity leave and what a lovely week it has been. We had our maternity ward tour on Monday evening – we’re booked in to Epsom – which reaffirmed our decision to make use of their new midwife led birth centre if at all possible. It felt ‘right’ when we walked in there. Our final pre-natal NCT class took place on Tuesday night and it was my 34 week appointment yesterday, so it’s been very baby-centred!

The last few days have been a big adjustment to a new – short term! – slower pace of life. Getting lie ins while I can, enjoying freshly made fruit smoothies (I would thoroughly recommend a Nutribullet to anyone, I’ll also be using it to make baby food in the future) and doing odd bits of housework, while generally relaxing and putting my feet up whenever I feel tired or get either belly or back ache.

It is strange not ‘needing’ to do anything during the day; I’m so used to planning my day out with to do lists (re-written each day…while also leaving a couple of items on that can be immediately ticked off! You know you do the same!).

I have long lists of things I would like to get on with but, you know what, by 35 weeks pregnant you just need to take the days at whatever pace you can manage. I would like to be dancing round the house singing my head off while painting, decorating and cleaning the whole place from top to bottom….but I do not have the energy to do so and that is ok. I just try to keep on top of the washing up and clothes washing and have the place neat for when Carl gets home, helping him out where I can. It doesn’t seem like much, but it’s a lot more help than I was able to give for the first 5 months of pregnancy!

I make small goals for each day, beyond simply getting up, having a shower and getting dressed, so that at least I have accomplished something. Today, it was opening my favourite spreadsheet and updating our accounts so we know what we have to spend on house purchases and the nursery (happy payday – does any other payday feel quite so good as the first one after Christmas?) and, in a minute, I am going to head out for a walk. When I’m back, if my back isn’t hurting too much, I will start cutting material for a patchwork quilt I’m going to make Bud. If my back hurts, I will lie down and read until Carl arrives home. Such is the life of a pregnant woman. It’s tiring and you shouldn’t feel bad about getting rest while you can.

Now…walk time…and it’s not looking appealing as the trees are blowing all round. Fresh air is very necessary though and it is so important to remain at least a bit active; there’s nothing like the feel of wind on your cheeks to wake you up!

Oh, and I will treat myself to a big mug of hot chocolate when I get home; sometimes an incentive is essential!!

Then this happens and it gets even harder…!

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x

Make pregnant friends…who due both before and after you

Rather than writing a ‘day by day’ blog, I am simply going to pick up whatever is on my mind that day, interspersed with updates of how we’re getting on.

So, why are pregnant friends important? Firstly, they UNDERSTAND. Others will try and will offer tips/advice (unwanted from those without experience) or empathy (always welcome if you’re feeling rough), but they won’t really understand what you’re going through.

However, when you find out you’re pregnant, you will no doubt start spotting other pregnant women wherever you look; in the street or on facebook, be they strangers, friends or acquaintances. In the early days, knowing people who are further along than you can be a real lifeline. When I suffered with morning sickness until 23 or so weeks, knowing someone who was the same kept me sane in a world where all I could see were women who glowed and danced their way through pregnancy. Other women are wonderful sources of comfort and tips…You can find out when other peoples’ belly buttons popped out and watch yours obsessively…or is that just me??

But then what happens? They have their babies and you’re still pregnant.

I speak from experience when I say that you will be over the moon for them, adore looking through all the newborn photos and love hearing about how naturally they’ve taken to parenthood.

But what you also feel is a form of envy. Firstly, they have met their baby! What greater moment, it’s what we’re all waiting for. Secondly, and let’s be honest here, whether you are scared of labour or – like me – accept it as an inevitability, you will be envious that they have it over and done with!!

If you have friends due after you then you can continue talking pregnancy to them and hopefully pass along tips and advice from your experience. You won’t feel alone and like everyone else is settling into the life you’re unable to prepare yourself fully for, while waddling around getting bored of the wearing the same 3 outfits in rotation because you’ve tried to buy as little as possible in a bid to be frugal…and swearing that if there’s a next time, you will own more than 2 pairs of maternity jeans.

I would recommend ante-natal or NCT classes for this reason alone, if you don’t have any friends due around the same time as you. They will make you feel normal and it is so refreshing talking to others in the exact same position as you. I will go into NCT classes and why we’ve loved them in greater depth another time.

That’s all for today, I’ll be back with something lighter soon! x