Wanted: a better mood

I write this post whilst struggling to get to sleep. I thought hard about writing this  but I guess a blog is here to talk about what’s going on and how you’re feeling.

Well, at the moment I feel like crap. I feel like I’m just existing, and not living life at all. I’m wandering from one day to the next and just trying to make it through another day.

The hardest part is trying hard to not let Amelia see how I feel because all she wants to do is hang out with me and play, and be happy. It’s not her fault because I’ve felt like this much longer than she’s been around. I knew before she arrived that it’d be harder when she was here because I’d have to fill our time with something other than work.

I’ve lived in my current hometown now for 6 years. I moved to be with my husband, and as such had no-one other than him to move here for. I’ve spent the last six years training and working hard, and using that as the excuse when I realise that, though I have plenty of acquaintances, I haven’t really made any best friends. I could really do with one of those nearby right now.

Perhaps I don’t have the right personality for it but I always suspected it would be really tough being a new mum and trying to find people in similar situations. Rightly or wrongly I didn’t go to any antenatal groups. My reasoning to everyone at the time was that I didn’t need to pay for a course to tell me stuff I could read elsewhere. The truth – I kind of knew that everyone in the group would get on well and that somehow, eventually, I would end up on the sidelines. I didn’t want to feel like that so I didn’t put myself out there at all.

We tried baby groups and I’d have casual chats with other mums but it never went further than that, though I could see friendships evolving around me. I’ve watched friends have their babies, move house and make loads of friends to meet up with. But somehow I’ve just not managed it. I guess it’s something to do with me and my personality.

But I think what I’m finding really tough now is that I feel this pressure to conjure up some friends to make Amelia’s life more fun, and to allow her to grow up making friends easily, and having other children to play with. I love Amelia dearly but at the moment our conversations are still fairly one-sided!  And our lack of people to hang out with in the day, has led to me going out with her less and less. Put it this way – today we didn’t even get dressed. I don’t really know where to take her when it’s just there two of us because it just adds to this feeling of loneliness watching other mums out together, enjoying good company. 

I feel like I need to simply pull myself together but I have no idea where to start. All advice is greatly received (especially since I’d really like to be able to sleep whilst Amelia is sleeping peacefully). And sorry for the really crappy depressing post. I promise to make the next one more cheery.

Just when we thought we had cracked the routine, the clocks went back!

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The road to a routine (both day and night) has been a long and rocky one! If I look back over the last several months I would say we got a bedtime routine in place early from just a few weeks old. By this I mean she had a set bedtime, and became noticeably ready to sleep at a similar time each evening. But with the daytime I didn’t notice any kind of routine emerging until she was around four months old.  By this time I had found that I could put her down in her bouncer with a comforter and she would doze off, but there were no set times that this would happen. I was working off things I had read about babies’ sleep/wake cycles and was aware that she was likely to be ready to sleep after 90 – 120 minutes of being awake. So I would aim to get her to sleep at these intervals. But as she reached four months old I started to be aware of her sleep signals – eyes rubbing, flopping head to one side, a whinge that sounded like her batteries running low, and redness around her eyebrows. I think it started to fall into place one day when I needed to shower so I put her back in her crib with a toy to play with (or more accurately, chew) and she fell asleep. I then found that if I put her in the crib around the same time each morning she would settle herself off to sleep.  As the month progressed I started to do the same when she was tired in the afternoon, and then if she was a little tired after lunch. I saw a trend emerging with times and that’s how we reached our current routine. She wakes around 7am, naps from around 9am for about and hour or so, half and hour to an hour at lunch and then another hour or so from around 3.30 – 4.30pm. Originally she would have a full two hours in the morning and hour and a half in the afternoon. Her naps have shortened as the months have passed.

During this period her bedtime pattern was still very up and down. I noticed that putting her bed at 7pm was the only real constant. She would sleep for a variable length of time and then whenever she woke after this sleep she would wake every four hours without fail. So say she woke at 11pm she would then wake at 3am and then 7am. If she woke at 1am then would wake at 5am, and so on. We tried dream feeds at 11pm but this had no effect on helping her skip the early hours feed. Around four months of age she started waking every couple of hours again. This arose shortly after she began refusing bottle feeds. It was a tough time. I revisited our Sleepsense guide that we had used previously. This advised to give it at least ten minutes before intervening when she woke at night, as often babies will settle themselves back to sleep. This was a tough few nights. I had been quick to respond to her waking prior to this in order to minimise disruption to Daddy’s sleep. We were both being woken by her whimpering at times, and ten minutes at 3am is a very long time! However, she would mostly fall back to sleep with no further assistance or input from us. After our trip away in September we made the decision to move her into her own room. She was almost six months old. She slept for 12 hours. She murmured a couple of times but didn’t need a feed or any help from us. This has been the trend since, with the exception of illness and bouts of constipation. She sometimes wakes a little earlier at 6am but feeds and then snoozes a little longer.

But last night the clocks went back. We were staying with friends and were in the same room with her. She went to bed a little later than usual. She woke at 4.30am and needed a feed. She then woke at 6.30ish new time. Tonight we have put her to bed at 7.30pm and are hopeful that she will sleep through until 7am tomorrow. I did read about clocks changing and suggestions to gradually alter their routines but 15 minutes every couple of days, for example. But she happily stayed up later this evening so we will see how things go!

I think one thing we have always tried to do with Amelia is to remain flexible. Sticking to rigid routines does not really fit with our lifestyle and outlook on parenting. The only time we get into a situation is where she misses out on proper daytime naps. So where possible I prefer to be at home for at least one of them. She is so interested in the world now that getting her to nap out and about is quite difficult. She will fall asleep in her buggy, or in the car. But we are regularly stop/starting or moving her in and out of the car she just wakes each time and gets gradually more tired and annoyed. Its pretty understandable, I would be pretty frustrated if my sleep was continually disturbed! I we decide to go out for dinner then we will do her bedtime routine (dinner, bath, pyjamas and milk) then put her into the car seat and off we go. This usually works fine. We then put her straight into her cot on our return.

Having a routine has made such a difference for all of us. I know roughly when we can safely be out and about without her getting too tired. I know when I will have a bit of time to do the chores and make any calls I need to. Our baby groups fit in around her nap times. Plus I cannot express just how much better I feel getting a full nights sleep most of the time. It took me some time to adjust to not waking every couple of hours wondering if she was ok. It took time to stop creeping in to check on her! I now find that I don’t really wake to her murmurs in the night. Life just seems calmer!

The next step is to work on her getting to sleep a bit more easily if we are out and about. Any tips or suggestions welcome? I also wanted to reassure anyone struggling with their own or baby’s sleep – it will get better!

The best dressed award goes to…

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This week is Halloween week. I really wasn’t planning on dressing her up in a costume. I had thought it might be a bit too cliché to dress my little baby up in an outfit for every occasion without her having a choice. But then our baby signing class instructor advised us that the week of Halloween would be a chance to dress up. Knowing this was a game changer. If we had a reason to dress her up then we couldn’t pass on the opportunity. Then came the need to find a costume. I wanted something she would look cute in. I googled ‘baby Halloween costumes’. There were many numerous toddler options but not quite so many baby options. Options ranged from laugh out loud fluffy monster outfits to simple babygros’ with slogans on. I was very tempted by the extravagant options. I could only imagine the picture opportunities being great. My rational side kicked in, however, and I realised that it was a one-time item that was not reusable. I really didn’t need to spend over the odds on an outfit. I have never spent that much on one item of clothing for her! So I resolved that I would find something simple. This narrowed the range even further. It was looking like the most likely choice was a skeleton or a pumpkin. I couldn’t bring myself to get the skeleton outfit because it was simply not anatomically accurate enough for the doctor in me. A pumpkin it was!

So at our next food shop I picked up the pumpkin outfit in her side and waited for the opportunity to dress her in it. Yesterday came and I dressed her in the babygro part, waiting until after lunch to add the extra pieces of the costume, including the matching slippers. As I did my usual trick of leaving it to the last minute to leave I rushed the rest of the outfit on. She was perhaps a little on the tired side but she was not chuffed with the additions to the outfit, and not best pleased when I decided to add pigtails to complete the outfit! Grumpy was an understatement. She looked at me like I was the meanest mummy ever. In all honesty, I should have expected this. I am not a fan of fancy dress myself, and given the option would avoid it at all costs. So why was I expecting her to willingly be dressed up like a pumpkin?

She did look cute though! The shoes admittedly came off within about two minutes of arriving at the group. The other babies all looked pretty cute in their outfits – skeletons, peapod, bumblebee, etc! Obviously Amelia was the best dressed. We have entered the best costume category and await the result due on the weekend!

On reflection – did I need to dress her up? The answer is a tough one. It’s probably a no. But a little part of me thinks that had I not bothered, Amelia might come to me one day and ask me why I didn’t dress her up for her first Halloween. I think we all secretly love those ‘embarrassing’ pictures of us when we were little. Will I do it again? Well I have already been tempted by some festive themed sleepsuits and a Christmas sweater, and I can’t say I wont be tempted by a little elf outfit or a Mrs Claus costume.

I guess at the end of the day these little ones are at our mercy every day. I don’t know what age Amelia will be able to have some say over what she wears but so far she goes along with all my choices! In the past she has performed a few ‘dirty protests’. By that I mean I have dressed her and within minutes she has presented me with one of her poo-losions, giving me no choice but to change her outfit. I don’t have any photos of myself as a child wearing a Halloween or Christmas outfit. Though I do have many pictures of me wearing what I can only describe as ‘frightful’ sweaters, shell-suits and luminous Lycra cycling shorts. Possibly the worst were the matching outfits with my little sister who was four years younger. I think she would agree with this.

 

Have you got plans to dress your little one up for Halloween or Christmas? Or is every day fancy dress day?

 

The glamorous world of motherhood!

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Apologies in advance if this post seems to be somewhat of a rant! In all honesty it kind of is!

Maternity leave has brought about being awake at times of the day when there are few people to chat to, such as 4am. Or when you have a couple of minutes to yourself (admittedly I try to use this time to go to the toilet, or pretending to go to the toilet for a bit of peace). I have found that at these times I don’t have enough time to read a novel, or my eyes just wont stay open enough to concentrate on anything serious. Instead I find myself on Twitter or the Daily Mail TV and showbiz section reading trash.  It is here that I find myself feeling frustrated. Frustrated seeing all the celebrity new mums. The most refreshing story I could read would be a celebrity mum admitting that motherhood is not easy.

Reading articles about mum’s doing press tours with a two-week old, theatre runs with a six-month old and public engagements with a young baby does not do justice to how much work goes in to being a new mum. Unless I had a completely different experience to every other mum. I personally think Amelia is a pretty easy-going baby and we have it good. But if I look at all these women looking glamorous, dressed-up and looking as though they never had a baby I start to think perhaps I’m making a meal out of motherhood! Seeing photos of a celebrity on holiday just weeks after the birth of their baby with a flat tummy, no stretch marks and perfectly toned bum and thighs leaves me feeling inadequate. Admittedly I never had a flat stomach or super toned body as my baseline, but I wasn’t overweight. I couldn’t fit into my old clothes for the first 3-4 months after she was born. But then I didn’t want to get glammed up. Honestly, you’d be lucky to have seen me out of my pyjamas before noon. I also had to think about the practicalities of what I would wear because I might have to breastfeed at any moment.

This brings me to my next question – how many celebrity mothers genuinely breastfeed exclusively or at all? I couldn’t be away from Amelia for much time at all for the first three months or so. She was feeding so frequently, and if she took expressed milk then I needed to be expressing at regular intervals in order to not have breasts that felt as if they were ready to explode and so that I could produce enough milk to keep her fed. Again, maybe I just made more of breastfeeding than I needed to. Perhaps that’s why I’m in a state of anxiety wondering if she will be ok in nursery since she rarely accepts milk from a bottle any more.

I guess we don’t see what’s going on behind the scenes, and who they have helping – relatives, nannies, and personal trainers – and perhaps this makes life a little easier. We also don’t see whether they have been forced to undertake such work commitments via contracts, etc. Plus I don’t need abs of steel to make a living. I don’t know whether celebrities claim statutory maternity pay. I guess not in most cases. Perhaps I also need to consider how they really feel about their situations. Maybe they’d like to be at home spending every minute with their little one and not worrying about how they look. But in order to keep the jobs coming in they must work hard to get back to their pre-pregnancy appearance. Plus, in some cases they probably have more opportunity to take their children with them to work. Once I return to work it wont be possible for me to have Amelia waiting on the sidelines whilst I am carrying out surgeries.

All I can hope is that all the new mother’s, or mothers-to-be, out there appreciate that being a new mum is not a breeze. It is not about looking fresh-faced and perfect, or having the perfect figure within weeks. It’s about learning how to look after your little one and making the most of this period of time. It’s about sitting in your pyjamas as much or as little as you’d like. It’s about eating whatever you need to get you through the day (or whatever’s in the house), feeding your baby in whatever manner suits you and them best and doing the best you can. Whatever you’re doing, it’s most likely the right thing!

 

There’s no ‘I’ in Mummy

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I must apologise for a quiet week in the blogging world. It had been a busy week. Amelia had her Auntie come to stay and play, and mummy left her for a whole seven or so hours. This had never been done before, and there was a lot of fear since she became fussy over having milk from a bottle. I needn’t have worried and I suspect the day was more traumatic for me than her. I came home\e to find her having a great time! We had a lovely day all together on Wednesday, and even stayed out later than usual, with Amelia having her dinner out too. Daddy was away on a course for the night so it had been a very girly affair. Daddy, Amelia and I were going to be going away on the Friday so I had spent some time getting everything ready to pack on Thursday morning. I appreciate that this really was a bit last minute. My sister confirmed this with the look she gave me when I told her I hadn’t packed yet. She’s right, and I will learn from this error…hopefully. All was going well (busy, but well) until Thursday afternoon. I realised that I had left home without my coat and it was a wet, cool day. As we drove in the car I suddenly felt really shivery and cold. Though I seemed to be the only one feeling like this. Clearly it was down to having just one cup of tea several hours earlier. Even the husband thought it was that simple. He made me a double strength tea, with a sugar in for good measure. But it didn’t work. The sore throat I’d woken with, and believed was just due to catching too many flies overnight, was the start of a cold. Not ideal. I hadn’t packed. The husband could see the situation arising and took matters into his own hands. He forced us to pack the big pile of stuff into a bag.

The next day I woke still feeling ill, and with an even sorer throat. At this point in the past I would have shut down and gone in to all but essential behaviour mode. But Amelia woke at her usual time, and Daddy had to get to work earlier than usual. I had to suck it up and get on with the day…at 7am. As I slowly walked to the kitchen in a way that might be likened to what Amelia might look like when she takes her first steps I felt awful. The only thing I would most like to do is get back in bed, pull the duvet right up and sleep for the rest of the day, with someone bringing me cups of tea on a regular basis. However, I was sat at the kitchen table feeling exceptionally sorry for myself, with Amelia looking at me with eyes that said ‘Please can I have some porridge?’ And so the day progressed. We visited Grandpa over lunch, where Amelia decided she didn’t want to make having a nap an easy process. She got grumpy, and I got more tired. Grandpa noticed a bit of muck in one of her eyes. It didn’t look much. Anyway she finally fell asleep, as did I. I’m pretty sure Grandpa was thinking we were not the best company ever!

On our return home I knew we had the other set of Grandparents popping by. I had thought it would be a good time to put the last bits together – the nappy bag, etc. However, I didn’t realise just how rotten I felt. So I did this by sitting down every 5 minutes or so.  We finally got on the road at Amelia’s bedtime, as we try to do when we have to go somewhere in the evening. By the time we arrived at our hotel, Amelia had woken and was grumpy. Her eyes looked sticky. She was not happy and it was hard to get her to sleep. I had fallen asleep early too. Then just before midnight we were rudely awoken by her cries. I could barely function. Daddy tried his best but she was screaming and screaming. Even breastfeeding wouldn’t settle her, which could only indicate illness. Normally the breast calms her down easily. So we dosed her with medicine. She woke again in the morning extremely upset again. I knew it was going to be a difficult day. I could barely eat, and walking was even taking its toll. With us both dosed up on Paracetamol for the next 48hours we were in a sorry state. I can only apologise to anyone in the neighbouring hotel room. But luckily my cold is now on the way out and her eyes are getting better. Neither of us are requiring medicine to make it through the day.

These last few days have been an eye-opener (pardon the pun!). I wouldn’t say that I am a wimp where illness is concerned but being unwell and having to be ‘on-call’ for Amelia 24/7 was tough. Especially since she was ill too. It really solidified the point that I am living primarily to care for someone else at the moment. I have no problem with this, but I can safely say that anyone out there living as a single parent, or with a long-term condition is doing an amazing job. I am truly grateful to have had the husband around, and for it to have been a few days only. The husband was in fact a great help – looking after Amelia, dragging me through the weekend, and allowing me to have a pity party at times. I don’t look forward to the winter, and the prospect or more times like this!

Not another bag!

 

thumb_IMG_8858_1024I have always had a close relationship with bags. From the necessity of having a new backpack for school each year and the best bag possible for my PE kit, to even the finer details like which pencil case I would next need. It was bordering on an addiction. I haven’t told many people this story, so you’re in on a shameful secret I hold. Only a few months after starting work and meeting some of my now best buddies I saw that Gap were collaborating with Mulberry to create a limited edition bag. It was great value at something like £60 compared to the few hundred pounds you’d otherwise spend on a Mulberry Bayswater handbag. This was my chance to own a Bayswater, albeit in red. But I could rock a red handbag right? It was around Christmas time, on a Saturday when Oxford Street was closing the road to traffic for a Christmas shopping event. I managed to convince some of the girls to come with me, knowing that the only way I’d get on of the Bayswater bags was to queue. I have never before, and never since, queued for fashion.  We took the train into London, hopped on the tube and joined the queue that curved around two corners. The time finally came for our chance to get in there. Everyone knew it was about hunting down the bag. It was right there in front of my eyes…but it was red corduroy. I grabbed it and instantly realised it was nowhere near what I had imagined. Yeah it had the features of a Bayswater, but it really wasn’t what I was looking for. It also wasn’t really worth that much money. I carried it around for a while wondering how I would break it to the girls that I didn’t really want it. I considered buying it anyway out of guilt for forcing them to get up so early on a Saturday morning and standing in a queue in cold weather. Eventually I admitted it, and to my relief they were glad. They too thought it wasn’t worth it and had been considering saying something to me. It’s taken some time, and willpower, but I no longer have such obsessions with bags. I have a trusted small selection, and cannot recall the last time I purchased one.

So when the time came that I would have to consider trading my usual bag for a nappy bag, I was certain I needed to make the right purchase. I needed one that was practical yet stylish. Good value yet reliable.  I spent a lot of time on Google searching ‘best nappy bags’, ‘most practical changing bags’, etc. I looked at things like the Mother and Baby awards shortlist, read other blogs, Mumsnet, etc.

I shortened it down to two brands – Pacapod and Storksak. I had seen a lot of women with the Yummy Mummy bags, and whilst I thought they looked cute I wasn’t sure how the Husband would feel about carrying it on his shoulder. This also ruled out a lot of patterned styles. These two brands had plenty of neutral styles and colours. After some further research I had pretty much settled on a leather Storksak bag. I had some vouchers, and thought they would contribute nicely. I made the mistake of taking someone rational with me when I went to buy it though. In my head I had thought that it was a leather bag, nice enough to carry on using after it no longer was required as a changing bag. That, though fairly steep in price, it was going to last a while, and therefore good value. Though we were in agreement that it was a nice bag, it was highlighted that it was quite expensive and perhaps I already own other bags I may revert to using once I no longer need to carry a changing bag around. True, I thought. So I found a happy medium with the Storksak Bobby.

Am I pleased with the bag? Yes is the definitive answer. I love it. It is a great size, with a removable bottle holder bag and a nice little changing mat. It has plenty of compartments and is not too bulky. It is big enough that I packed it as her hospital bag when preparing for her birth. Whilst breastfeeding I used the bottle pouch as a compartment for storing all the necessary bits for nappy change time.

What do I keep in the bag?

In the end pockets I always have some tissues on one side, and her Sippy cup in the other one. I have several nappies, which I always top up at the end of the day, along with some Metanium everyday cream and a pack of wipes. I also keep a few little nappy disposal bags in case we can’t dispose of the nappy immediately or, in the cases of poolosions occurring, we can put any soiled clothes in one. With this in mind I always keep a spare change of clothes –vest, leggings and t-shirt. These are often one size too small if we have been lucky not to have such an incident since she has grown into the next size. There’s a little pacifier case, which I store a hairclip in so we can get her hair out of her face if need be. I the bottle pouch I keep a selection of food pouches, a fabric Gro Company travel highchair, a bib and a spoon. There’s always a toy or two, a muslin cloth and a comforter. Just lately we’ve been adding a little coat into the mix too! What’s in there for me? I have learnt to travel light with just a purse, phone and a pen! My bag when I go out without her now looks very empty compared to all the paraphernalia I used to require.

Would I change anything about the bag? Sometimes I do find I can’t always zip it up unless I have packed it just right. That’s usually down to the bottle pouch being probably just a little bigger than it needs to be. I don’t regret not getting a leather one. If I had a leather one it would be filthy and water stained. We have been caught in showers, I have taken this bag to the beach, she had vomited on it, etc. It still looks just fine. A leather one would probably look pretty tatty by now!

 

Which changing bag do you own? Would you recommend it?

Looking back to ‘D’ day

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Home…after a long day!

I thought now would be a good time to look back to the 24 hours that changed our lives. It’s been about 12 months and it’s still fresh enough that I can be subjective, yet long ago enough that I can be more objective!

Amelia arrived exactly two weeks earlier than her due date. Something I was not really expecting but was a pleasant surprise. From the time we were given my EDD (estimated delivery date) we added two weeks to it. Term can mean anything from 37-42 weeks, and many people we knew had been overdue. So we decided to plan for 42 weeks and anything sooner would be a bonus. As such I had considered what I would want to happen should she still not have arrived by the time they would be looking to offer an induction of labour.

I tried to avoid spending too much time thinking about the actual delivery and how it might pan out. It was difficult to imagine that day arriving and it going smoothly. This was simply based on the experience that I’d had as a doctor, and that (in the UK anyway) we very little involvement in straightforward pregnancies and deliveries. This role being undertaken by all the excellent midwives out there. As such the births I had witnessed tended to be more complicated, protracted and intervention based. There had been many long, drawn out inductions that had failed to produce a satisfactory outcome, and emergency caesareans in the middle of the night for one reason or another. I desperately didn’t want to have a long and complicated delivery. I also wanted as much control over the process as possible. (See here for more about how I chose to retain control over the birth) I lived in hope that the relatively short, easy labours experienced by my own mother and sisters would be an inherited trait, and that I would get lucky and pop Amelia out with ease!

The day before her arrival was a day where I didn’t really stop. My dad and some friends of his were kindly doing some work to lower a big hedge we have. I was assigned to the role of supplying drinks and food. I went over the top – making quiche (not my most successful attempt) and cake. I should have been doing more sitting around with my feet up as I was getting tired. The reason for my continued activity was guilt at them working so hard and me not being able to get involved. I am excellent at garden demolition work! Then as they went to dispose of some of the sawn off branches I took an opportunity to help. I thought I could perhaps just rake up some of the leaves and put them in the bag for waste. It wasn’t too heavy duty and they wouldn’t know, as they’d be gone. So I got to work raking leaves, ending up on my hands and knees, scooping leaves into the bag. A celebratory meal out ensued at the local pub.

It was the early hours of the morning when I woke to use the bathroom, at the same time that had been my usual wake up call for the last three or so months. But this time I couldn’t hold it. Suddenly my pelvic floor had given up on me. It’d been doing so well. Then it dawned on me that perhaps I hadn’t suddenly become incontinent and that maybe this was my waters breaking. Upon inspection it was pinkish, and didn’t have a smell of urine. Excited that I wasn’t incontinent but nervous because I wasn’t sure if it should be pink I woke my husband who called the labour ward for advice. It must’ve been a rare quieter night as they offered for me to come down and get checked over.

We packed my bag into the car and set off to the hospital calmly but with some excitement in the air. After being checked over, confirming that my waters had broken but my cervix wasn’t dilated we were booked in to be reassessed should contractions not start, and sent home to wait it out. If the contractions started we should let them know when they were regular, strong and I was having about 3 every 10 minutes. Off we went. As we left the hospital I began to get what felt like period cramps, which were completely bearable. We stopped via the McDonalds drive-thru that we passed on our way home. This was an inspired move that would get us through the next 12 hours! On reaching home I took a Paracetamol and tried to sleep. But as the time passed, quickly, the cramps began to come more regularly and intensely. By 7am I was out of bed and hunched over my gym ball. We had only got home at 4.30am. By 8am I was finding them really uncomfortable and they were coming thick and fast. We decided it was time to return to the hospital. The husband went to fit the car seat in whilst I tried to shower. I am not entirely certain why this seemed a good idea. I spent quite a bit of time knelt in the shower wondering how I’d get back out and dressed! But I did and we set back off to the hospital. This time the journey wasn’t as laid back. The 15 minute journey seemed to take forever, and we could only think about reaching there and being told that I wasn’t that far along, and being sent home to wait longer.

At the labour ward waiting area I clung to a rail and tried to act cool in front of heavily pregnant women who weren’t in labour. I didn’t want them to see what labour looked like! Again we waited for what seemed like an eternity for a midwife. We had chosen to use the midwife led birth centre. The rooms were not set up like a delivery suite. There was no bed, just some beanbags on the floor and some kind of swing-type thing. I changed into a nightie and then proceeded to hunch over a beanbag, where I would spend the next few hours! Our midwife asked about pain relief and I was tempted to ask for anything and everything. The husband suggested we start with gas and air. A part of me wanted to beat him up for suggesting this when I desired something stronger to erase the pain I was feeling. Again, looking back it was a good choice because the labour continued to progress quickly. At admission I was 5cm dilated. The midwife came in and out. By around 12.30 things were getting to be unbearable. I had the overwhelming feeling that I needed to poo. I can only describe it as having the worst tummy bug ever mixed with irritable bowel syndrome. The midwife returned and was, I think, in slight disbelief that I could be close to the 2nd stage as it’d only been 2 hours thereabouts since I was 5cm dilated. We, too, were unconvinced I could be anything more than 7-8cm having been taught that it is 1cm an hour. We had prepared for it to be 3pm before I’d be close to pushing. However, re-examining me I was fully dilated. So she let me start pushing. I was still on a beanbag on the floor, and spent an hour with the three of us on the floor willing this baby to get out! I was pushing as hard as I could and trying to make the most of the moments between contractions when I could have a little respite. It got to a point where the midwife injected me with some local anaesthetic, preparing to perform an episiotomy, when her and my husband willed me to make one last really, really big push, and finally her head popped out. The came the shoulders and suddenly a baby was plopped on my chest, crying loudly. I was in a state of shock and relief! She’d arrived, and the pain suddenly subsided!

Everything from that moment on was so much better. I needed some stitches, and the place looked a bit like a crime scene from blood but who cared! The gas and air worked well to tolerate the stitches, along with some local anaesthetic.

I had a really good birth. It was a positive experience and made me realise that it is possible to have a straightforward labour. Yes the tear was painful and problematic for a little while afterwards but I didn’t expect to get through the delivery without one. I am so thankful that it progressed quickly, but glad I was able to keep as mobile for as long as possible, since I think this helped it move along. I was also glad to not need any big cannulas and needles. Don’t get me wrong – had the labour taken much longer I would’ve accepted anything on offer and probably opted for an epidural. We opted for an early discharge, so by bedtime we were home again, and a family of three. Life has not been the same since, but is wonderful!

How was your birth experience? Was it what you expected or hoped for?