When three became four: an almost drama free birth

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29 August. That’s the date I was told we should expect baby girl to arrive into this world. And because Ralphie was a week late, I was fairly sure we’d be having another September baby.

So when I sat at work feeling a bit funny just under two weeks before, it didn’t cross my mind that I could be going into labour imminently. Thankfully my gut instinct kicked in as I did have a quick rush around Boots at lunchtime to grab some bits for the as yet unpacked hospital bag. And I handed over a couple of tasks at work that had been playing on my mind.

A two mile walk home, play with Ralphie and dinner, and I was feeling progressively more uncomfortable. I asked Ryan if he thought it could be something…”You probably just need a big poo!” he said.

By 9pm I was fairly certain it was happening and I started hurriedly packing my hospital bag. In I went under the stairs to dig out the newborn clothes, the carry cot, the Snuzpod mattress. Ryan thought I was mental. But by 11.30pm the feeling was unmistakeable. Bugger!

As I lay in bed to ride out the early pain, Ralphie woke up, crying out. I went in to check on him and he was visibly distressed and wanted a cuddle. We sat together in the dark and I found myself crying as I realised this was our last little moment together before baby arrived. I hope he didn’t see, but it was like he knew, because he gripped extra hard, and two minutes after putting him back in bed, he was crying out again.

When mum and dad arrived in the early hours after I put in the nervous call to wake them up (imagine if I wasn’t actually in labour!), Ralphie was wide awake and raring to go. This never happens.

As I gritted my teeth and clung onto a bit of living room door frame through those early contractions, Ralphie performed while mum, dad and Ryan sat drinking tea. It was such a weird occasion!

Eventually we got the boy back into bed and called the hospital. We were off.

Already, only a week on since I began labour and I’m struggling to describe the feeling of those contractions, other than that they were totally unbearable! Deep breathing helped, but they were long and I had little respite between each one…about a minute or so.  Other times they blended together completely.

When they first examined me and told me I was only 3cm, I was so disappointed. I didn’t know how long I would be able to cope physically while saving enough strength at the end for what I hoped would be the big push.

At 9.30am on Thursday after I got past 4cm they said I could have an epidural. Heaven to my ears! Never has so much willpower enabled me to stay so damn still through those contractions so they could fit the tube. And then…relief!

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It was a long old wait, spiced up a little by the fact the epidural pump stopped working around lunchtime, bringing back that horrendous wave of pain.

Mum and Ryan kept me well hydrated and in high spirits. At times I felt more sorry for them as their chairs looked so uncomfortable. At least I was in bed!

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Finally, at around 6.30pm I was ready to push. I was nervous, excited…I didn’t know what to expect.

At first when I was pushing I couldn’t feel what I was meant to be doing. I was cross with myself as although I’d been reducing my intake of local anaesthetic, I still couldn’t feel much. And then there it was…that sensation of having to push out a massive football!

Mum, Ryan and the midwife could see baby’s head and were willing me on. Everything clicked into place and I knew what I needed to do. It was the most overwhelming, incredible experience. One minute I could feel the hardest ball of pressure and then…whoosh…she was here!

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And that should really be the end of it. But it seems that I am quite incapable of giving birth without some element of drama.

This time, I proceeded to suddenly lose almost three litres of blood (over half of my body’s blood volume; almost two large bottles’ worth of Coca-Cola) – gushing all over the floor.

Needless to say I don’t remember much. The room was flooded with people. I vomited and Ryan said I went totally delirious, talking about watering the plant pots. In that foggy haze of panic (and not just for my unwatered plants!), what I do remember thinking was that I going to lose my uterus or not be able to see my beautiful babies grow up.

After what seemed like an age, and probably even more so for mum and Ryan, I was stitched back up (by a lady called Maureen who had the most impeccably styled hair and a fabulous no-nonsense attitude. She proceeded to look after me all night). It’d been over an hour since I’d held my baby and I was worried she hadn’t had a feed.

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But feed she did. And slowly the colour came back into everyone’s faces as we calmed down and processed the ordeal. Well…apart from me. I remained looking ghost like for a good few days after. I still think I could benefit from a little extra blusher now!

Did I genuinely think I was going to lose my life? No. It wasn’t my time. But 17 August 2017 will forever remain one of the most glorious and terrifying days of my life.

Most importantly, she’s here. My August baby…Lily Rose. And my, what a beauty she is!

Welcome to the world, little one.

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Five telltale signs that you’re expecting

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In case you haven’t heard the news already, baby number two is on the way! 20 weeks on the way, in fact, and counting. I don’t where the time is going!

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while. I remember when I started up this blog it was something that I thought people would want to read about. Until you know for sure, how on earth can you tell when you’re pregnant?? Are there any little hints and clues to help you out before you can take the test? It was something I googled far too much the first time around. I was a little bit obsessed. I had an app, I checked the forums. And do you know what? None of it helped! When I fell pregnant, I just knew. I had a gut feeling. This time it was even more obvious.

Thinking about it, though, there were some fairly clear telltale signs to help me out before I finally bought that cheeky white stick for confirmation (I left it three weeks by the way. Check out the willpower!). It was a funny time to be in limbo. Christmas – the season of goodwill and plenty of booze. Cue some sneaky drink swapping (Ryan was more than game!) and plenty of lame excuses. Not to mention the following…

Pass me the water

Thirsty. Oh so thirsty! I didn’t get that metallic taste that some people report, but what I did get was a really dry mouth. I still have it, to be fair. It won’t go away. I can down as much water as I like, but I still feel like I’ve got a sponge in my mouth.

Time for a lie down

Maybe it was all the festivities getting on top of me, but I could seriously have curled up and slept for a week. The tiredness hit me like a wave. I’m not a daytime nap kind of girl, but in those early weeks I couldn’t help but drop off. Thankfully Ralphie joined me too.

Emotional wreck

It doesn’t take much to make me cry. But weeping over the fact that Ryan didn’t want to come to the cinema with me, even though there was nothing on that either of us wanted to watch. What a fool! I cried a lot. Some of it for legitimate reasons, but most of the time not. I do want to go to the cinema now, though. Please someone take me to see Beauty and the Beast! And then I can cry over that too!

Keep that away from me

If there’s one thing you should know about me is that I love love love curry. Seriously, I could eat that stuff for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day. It’s only serious willpower and my bowels (sorry!) that stop me. Oh and it turns out pregnancy does too. We had a takeaway curry delivered a good few weeks back and I couldn’t touch it. The smell, everything, made my stomach churn. Worry not, I’m over it now! Normal service has resumed.

Bump

Ok, I know this one is cheating, because it’s the most obvious sign going! And hopefully by the time you get a bump you already know you’re expecting. But seriously, I was not expecting to show so soon this time around. Apart from shouting about it now on social media, I’ve been fairly coy about this pregnancy so far. We waited until after the 12 week scan to tell most people, including my lovely mum and dad (I’m a chicken. What can I say?!). I waited even longer to tell work. 17 weeks to be exact. Turns out that most of them had suspected for weeks. The baggy tops and lack of coffee were quite a giveaway. And now there’s no hiding it. This bump of mine is huge!

Question is, am I growing a baby boy or baby girl? We get to find out very soon and I can’t bloomin’ wait!

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Empathy: the perils of a wet bathroom floor

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I took a tumble today. Nothing serious. But it did hurt. And it made me realise I’m not that steady on my feet after all!

Ralphie was sat on our bed watching Postman Pat. Don’t judge. He loves it (although is he the only one? I can’t find decent Pat toys anywhere!). And it means I can shower in peace. Anyway, watching in the mirror as I brushed my teeth, I saw him stand up, grin at me and proceed to walk backwards towards the edge of the bed. “STOP!” I shrieked. At the same time, arms outstretched, toothbrush still in hand, I launched myself out of the bathroom to grab him. Except I didn’t make it. I fell flat on my face.

Maybe it was because he saw me fall. Maybe it was because I shouted “Fuuuuuuuck!!!!!” Maybe it was the shock of seeing his half naked mother hurling through the air towards him. Or maybe it was because he was genuinely concerned. Whatever it was, he stopped suddenly in his tracks and sobbed.

I like to think I took one for the team. I whacked my knee and scraped my side. But he didn’t fall off the bed. I think we both ended up having a little cry at the shock of it all.

And you would think that would have been the end of it. It nearly was.

Ten minutes later, after emptying the contents of my bedside table onto the floor, into the bathroom he trotted. The floor was still wet and… you guessed it. Whooooooooooosh! Those little legs of his shot out from underneath him and before I could leap to his rescue he was lying flat on his back.

He took it well to be fair. Thankfully he doesn’t have far to fall. And his arms helped to break the worst of it. But you know that moment of dreaded silence before they unleash their cries…argh I hate it!

Daddy plays football on a Sunday morning. Usually it’s him fishing for sympathy as he recounts bad tackles and shows off his war wounds. Today, I think he was far safer running around outside in the aftermath of Storm Doris (what a pain she has been!). Us? We’re steering clear of the bathroom and that damn wet floor for a good while!

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Eat, sleep, play, repeat, and then repeat some more

It has dawned on me that I can’t really call myself a blogger if I don’t blog that much. The truth of the matter is that I find myself writing most nights, just not for this. And it’s a real shame, because Ralphie is providing me with more blogging material than ever. He is such good fun. However, I have a bone to pick…

I remember watching The Teletubbies with my sister when she was younger (the first time it came around) and getting ever so frustrated when they repeated everything. I thought to myself, just get on with it! But alas, those little televisions would flicker away and they would keep playing the same video reel again and again.

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Turns out it’s because little ones like it. And now I understand, because I’ve got a little repeat Ralph of my own.

His favourite thing is to go and open the fridge a MILLION times a day. But he’s also partial to Postman Pat on repeat, me tickling him again and again, daddy chasing him around and around, the same book over and over. Basically, anything he likes, he wants to repeat to his heart’s content. For the most part, I’m more than happy to play along.

Take tonight, for example. I employ numerous distraction techniques to make the bedtime change as smooth as possible. He’s tired, he’s a bit ratty and the last thing he wants me to do is put a clean nappy and fresh pyjamas on. The torture! So we have cuddly toys, we have songs, and we have the classic round-a-round the garden. This evening we were also driving around his Duplo train and as I handed him to Daddy for bedtime milk, all he wanted was for us to drive that bloomin’ Duplo train up and down his tummy, noises and all. Ten minutes I lasted. And it was worth it for his shrieks of delight. But I also happened to be extremely hungry!

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So what’s a mother to do? How long will this repeat stage last? How do I endure this without completely losing my marbles? And will it not make Ralphie a bit mad too?

For me, the only answer for now is sleep. Eat, sleep, play and then I’m all ready to repeat. It’s a good job he gives me a smile like this every morning!

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Christmas work do 2017: a sober(ish) affair

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I got a free pass on Friday afternoon to go out for my work Christmas do. I tempted my dad over with freshly baked sausage rolls (he’s very cheap compared to nursery fees!) and off I went.

I knew I would have a drink or two. It’s my first in a while that I have been able to drink. But when I found myself downing my second shot (vanilla vodka and Cointreau – it was horrible), the little voice in my head sternly told me to stop, and I reached for the water. It’s a far cry from the year I puked into someone’s pint and staggered home. I’ve never liked to be a conventional boss!

The taxi journey home was weird.

To start with, it was very early. 6pm. I hopped into a car, and the guy straight away asked me how old I was. Peculiar. I asked why he needed to know and he said that the taxi office had radioed over and said I was underage. Seriously?! I spent the rest of the journey trying to convince the guy that I am, in fact, 29. “I’m a mother, don’t you know!” He didn’t believe me. I left the car shaking my head. First impressions are a funny thing.

And if the water hadn’t already started doing its job sobering me up, Ralphie chucking his dinner all over me certainly did the trick. He’s had a horrid cough and has been quite off his food. I’ve always been proud of his communications skills, but really? A simply head shake would have done the trick, matey.

Ryan thankfully stepped in to help with bathtime. A few direct splashes in the face later and my make up was pretty much off. And even though I had eaten a two course meal (I missed the starter) only hours earlier, it would have been rude not to have eaten the takeaway curry. It’s basically our Friday religion.

You know what, I didn’t even have a hangover in the morning. I feel almost human. Please remind me of this very wise approach to drinking the next time I am out.

Taking stock: my new life as a working mum

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This Thursday just gone, I will have been back at work 11 weeks. Friends and family ask me how it’s going, and I usually find myself shrugging at them and saying “it’s fine.”

It is.

And actually, I recognise that I’m very lucky. I’ve been fortunate to be able to go back part time to my old role as an editor. Ralphie spends two days a week at nursery and another day with my dad, and he seems to be loving it. Which means that two days a week we have mummy-baby time. We play around the house together, we head out for walks, we go to baby groups and we meet up with friends.

Weekends with Ryan at home pass us by in a flash. And then we’re doing it all over again. Back to the routine. Is this really it?

But rather than complain, I have started to try and do something about it. Just under a month ago I launched a new little venture I’ve been working on. It’s something I feel very passionate about – and I have to really because to fit it in between life, being a mum and everything else, I tend to work on it late into the evenings.

It’s called Small Baby and I got the idea for it from doing this blog. Basically, it’s an online magazine that shows off some of the best small businesses creating cool stuff for children. Some would say it’s a bit of an indulgence. And I suppose it is. I’m not even going to deny that my insta feed is a glorified wish list! But it has a greater purpose too. I want to give a voice to the brave people (who usually happen to be mums) who have taken the gamble and decided to set up their own business so they can be around for their children and provide for their family. To them, every purchase, every customer shows them that they’ve done the right thing. And I want to celebrate that.

If you fancy popping over and having a read, it would mean the world. It would also provide a welcome boost to my readership figures, which I’m desperately trying to grow!

I’m frustrated I haven’t been able to post on here as regularly as before. But I’m still writing. In fact, I’m writing more than ever! Every day and every night. Hopefully, one day those words will get me where I want to be, wherever that is!

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Lost in a moment

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Life has sped up again. It’s like someone has taken a remote control, pointed it at us, and fast forwarded at 30x speed. I don’t know whether I’m coming or going.

It hasn’t been an easy few weeks. Managing the transition from maternity leave to work, from baby to toddler, not to mention the onslaught of bugs that has left us all snotty, bleary eyed, wheezing wrecks – it has, in all honesty, taken its toll. I don’t think any of us can quite remember what it’s like to feel well.

But we’re hanging on in there and in between the daily grind, we’re still having plenty of fun. And at least I’m not crying when I leave Ralphie anymore. The guilt lingers, but thankfully the tears have dried up!

Since Ralphie’s birthday, it has been all change again. I know I probably say it every time, but I think this is my favourite stage yet. He is so damn cheeky, and I love it. He knows exactly what I’m saying to him, and if it’s no (i.e. please don’t pull my hair or chuck your cup on the floor for the 100th time), he cocks his head to the side and gives me a little grin.

His language is coming on in leaps and bounds. He can say mama, dada, grandad, nana (much to my mum’s disappointment as she wants to be grandma), again, more, yes (he actually says “da”) and a whole load of other babble that we haven’t been able to translate yet.

Waving is his new favourite thing. He waves to get mine and his dad’s attention, he waves goodbye (usually when the person has turned their back and gone), and he waves at strangers in the street before giving them the cheesiest of grins. This boy loves attention and he knows how to get it!

Now at 13 months, it’s looking pretty unlikely that Ralphie’s going to be an early walker! But he is walking around as much as he can – he scales walls, doors, the washing machine, the sofa. It won’t be long, and I’m not rushing him. The fast breathing noises he makes as he crawls are too funny.

We use an app called Moment Garden to share photos of Ralphie with close friends and family. My photo sharing endeavour is endless, I know! One thing this app does is send a daily update with a moment from a year ago today. Ryan has turned into a broody mess as he reminisces about our tiny little squidge that used to placidly lie there and smile up at us. I miss those days too, but motherhood has taught me to appreciate the now. I was a rubbish planner before, and now I’m even worse. Because all I’m trying to do is enjoy today and remember it all. Time, you are a scary thing.

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