Wearing a baby

Since I had Sid, I kept looking at people with slings and carriers and thinking that they looked pretty cool- sort of cosmopolitan hippy-ish… I liked it- I wanted to be a cosmopolitan hippy. Early on in the newborn days, I decided to take the plunge and got a Close Caboo. On first viewing it was a good buy- not mega expensive, unlike some of the more structured rucksacky style carriers, easy to put on (just like a tshirt, then plonk the baby in the front) and was sort of handy. I even took Sid to the zoo at three weeks old in it. Well, I took him in the pram, but when he got grizzly, I plomped him in the caboo and he was a happy man. (Side note- I’m not mental for taking a three week old to the zoo- My sister had cheap tickets, and I love the zoo- its not that I particularly thought he’d enjoy it, but at that stage in his life, he was very much just coming along for the ride with me!)

Unfortunately for me, the caboo wasn’t the best in the early days because… well, Sid didn’t really like it that much-  if you caught him at the right moment, brilliant, but on the whole, he quite liked being able to have a kick around and being snuggled in to me didn’t let him do that. So it got consigned to a shelf in the front room, until he was about three months old when, with his excellent head control I decided to give it another go. We used it for short trips, like if I just wanted a few bits in the supermarket, and even tried it once with him facing forward, when I popped round the corner to pick up a curry (that was a bit of a disaster- I don’t care what the manufacturers say, front facing isn’t good- it pulls your centre of gravity all off because babies, well, mine, at least, want to look down at the floor) and it was all going ok, until Sid got just that liiiittle bit too heavy. He’s still well within the weight limits, but a combo of the stretchy material and my ample hips meant that he was slipping down. If I left him to his own devices, he’d probably be down by my knees by the end of a trip, so instead we had to do a lot of readjusting and so I decided to look for something else.

Mainly because they were cheap (only twenty quid in Mothercare), I decided to get a Rockin baby pouch because as well as being cheap, they were sized, which I thought might combat the wide hip problem, and made of non-stretchy fabric, which I hoped would stop the wee man from slipping. Got home, decided the faffing about with zips was too much for me, returned to Mothercare and switched it for a Rockin baby sling instead. This one is a long piece of fabric which you loop through two rings to create a circle and wear over one shoulder with the baby tucked inside. I’m making it sound simple, and it was in a way,  but there were no instructions included in the box and I ended up having to look for a video on youtube to work out how to thread it.

Again it’s only good for short journeys as it does pull on the old shoulders a bit, and unlike the caboo, where there are basically leg holes, the baby stays inside because his own weight is pulling the fabric taught, which although very secure once everything’s well adjusted, does feel a bit precarious. What’s cool though is it comes in some nice patterns, and there’s a pocket at the bottom of the fabric which I’ve been using to stash a muslin in for sickboy. I’m very much enjoying wearing him, but if I’m honest, there might be a better carrier out there for me yet!

Being a judgypants

I’ve made an executive decision to stop being such a judgypants. We all do it, don’t we- it’s just too easy (and too much fun) to bitch about people particularly, I’ve found, in the realms of parenting.

Case in point- I was talking to a friend about how her new daughter was sleeping, and she said the only way any of them can get a night’s sleep is if the baby slept laying on her front on her mum or dad’s chest. In my head I thought ‘for pity’s sakes, what a ridiculous way to live your life- just put her down and let her cry’, while thinking in my second head  (yeah, I have two- what of it?!) ‘shut up Gem, you’d never just let Sid cry if you could comfort him- you’re not Gina sodding Ford’. Outside of my head, I asked if that meant that my friend or her hubby could get a decent night’s sleep, and she said yep, they slept fine- they weren’t being woken up by a crying baby, they weren’t worried about her being on her front in her cot, and they’d got pretty used to sleeping laying on their backs. And that was when I decided to stop judging other people’s choices.

While I think there’s nothing worse than people that are absolute martyrs (you know the type ‘woe is me my life is so difficult, but oh no I couldn’t possibly do anything to change it, that would be too easy’), if someone’s doing something that works for them, who cares if it isn’t the way I’d choose to do it

Officially entering babyland

I can’t believe it, but I have a tiny weeny week-and-a-bit old baby!

I’ve a hell of a lot to update you on, but let’s start with an introduction- Sidney John was born on Monday 9th February 2015, at 1:26am, weighing 6lb 10oz.

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I’ll be honest, it’s been a bit of a crazy first week, so plenty to update, but I’m going to start off with LABOUR DAY before it fades into oblivion- the memories are already becoming hazy!

So, look away if you are squeamish- here’s the timeline.

Sunday 8th February

10:00- Just a normal day in our house, plans are made to go to Mark’s mum and dad’s for dinner, to take a load of cardboard to the dump, do a bit of tidying and go to Tescos. You know, normal Sunday stuff

12:00- Dump run completed, we walk around Tescos with me feeling increasingly uncomfortable and in need of getting back to the sofa. Once we’re home, we faff about tidying up, I do the dusting (was getting a bit paranoid about going into labour, and a midwife coming over and judging me on my messy house!), fit the car seat base in the car, put the pram up and then realise that the car seat itself (a loaner from my sister) is a bit grubby, so wash the covers out in the bath. Have a couple of ‘shows’ of blood tinged mucus. Feel a little bit excited- offer to show Mark. He declines.  This could be it- the shows usually mean something’s going to start happening in the next few days

17:00- Still feeling pretty uncomfortable, I decide not to go to the inlaws for dinner, and Mark pops over for an hour to pick up a couple of plates of food for us. While he’s out, I start thinking ‘is this it’?’ as I’d been increasingly feeling ok, then a bit rubbish on and off all day. I download a contraction timing app for my phone and tell myself it’s probably Braxton Hicks, rather than the real deal, as up to then I’d had no pains or warning signs, but lo and behold, every six minutes or so for a whole hour, there are waves of something… not quite pain- discomfort is the best word I have.

18:00- Mark comes back, I tell him I think this maybe possibly could be go time, but I’m not sure, so we settle down on the sofa to watch an episode of the Last Leg that we’d recorded, and I practice one of the hypnobirthing breathing techniques that I’d learned every time the discomfort came: In for 4, out for 7 which helps give me something to concentrate on and seemed to do the trick. I leave Mark in charge of the app, just so someone else could confirm that I’ve not been making the whole thing up and spend a lot of time in the loo after every wave

19:30- Admitting to myself something may be happening we call the hospital to find out what we need to do. The community midwives are only available on their phone until 6, so after that, you call triage, and they find out who should be coming out to you for home births… I wait with baited breath while they faff about trying to find out what the procedure is. I’m not overly convinced they know what to do!

19:50- A lovely midwife calls- she lives about 20 minutes away, but is the person on call for home births. I seem to be doing OK-the contraction timer is being switched on every five minutes or so, but I’m still feeling pretty calm and sure there is loads of time, so tell her I’ll give her a call when I want her to come out.

20:10- Another wave, another trip to the loo… and oh my goodness, that looks like quite a lot of blood. I’m sure its not a show, this is proper blood. I call the midwife back, sounding calmer than I feel, and she says to pop over to triage at the nearby hospital (a mere five minutes from our house), and if all is well, they’ll let me come back home, but it’s best to be on the safe side, right?

20:30- After a fair amount of faffing from Mark (who was just about to put his apple crumble in the microwave, and looked at it longingly as we left… I meanwhile never had bothered to eat my dinner!) we get to triage, I wee in a pot, and wait in a waiting room, standing up and leaning on my forearms on a handily placed stretch of wall as the waves came. Mark plays a blinder, reminding me to carry on with the breathing techniques and rubbing my back, which really really helps. After a bit of a wait, we are seen, I have a trace, which has to be repeated because I was so uncomfortable lying on my back, that I moved, which meant the trace didn’t pick the baby up properly. Mark and I play boggle on my phone as a distraction from what’s going on. I lose twice- most unusual! A helpful midwife tells me she doesn’t think I’m in proper labour yet as the trace isn’t showing that I’m in enough pain… not sure how the trace knows this…

21:30- A more helpful doctor comes and examines me- and finds me to be four centimetres dilated. Whoop! I finally admit to myself that I’m really actually in labour, we’re turfed out of the cubicle to the waiting room again, and I call my mum to tell her that I’m not going to be able to baby sit my niece and nephew tomorrow! I enquire as to whether I’ll be able to go home for home birth as planned. The doctor doesn’t seem to think it’s a problem, but the midwife has other ideas, and after a bit of a battle between them, they advise me to stay put. I weigh it up and decide to stay. Talk is made of going up to the swanky midwife led unit upstairs

22:30- We’re still in the corridor. I’m feeling increadingly uncomfortable, am doing a lot of pacing of the corridor, feeling extremely self conscious as I lean against the wall, whimpering for my back to be rubbed, while Mark repeatedly asks if we’re going to be admitted. A final threat that we’re just going to go home and call out the midwife to there seems to perk them up a bit and I’m taken to a side room for another exam. 6ish centimetres dilated now. New doctor informs me she’s just given me a sweep, which I’m a bit miffed about- is there really any reason to give a sweep to someone who is already 6cm down the line??!

After a brief discussion it looks like they might not admit me to the midwife led unit, as they think I’m too small. Thankfully, I’m still feeling coherent enough to explain that if they look in my notes, I’m still under midwife-led care, having been discharged by a doctor twice because although I’m measuring small the baby is fine. They believe me and we’re taken up to the mecca that is the midwife led unit by Kelsey, who I’m told will be in charge of things.

23:00- Mark pops back out to the car to get the bags. I panic quietly to myself the whole time he’s gone, try for my 25th wee of the day and find I can’t go. Another midwife rubs my back a bit too hard, and I pray that Mark will return imminently so he can do the job instead. ‘Will you want to get in the pool?’ they ask. Yeah, why not, thinks I, so that’s filled up. Because I’d only bought my ’emergency transfer’ bag, and had never planned to be going in a pool, I realise I’d have to just go in in my bra. I incomprehensibly announce I could wear my knickers too, but am sensibly told that it might make it a bit tricky to do examinations.

The room is just as swanky as promised- low lighting, a vague smell of lavender, comfy chairs and this weird s-shaped sofa thing. I switch between a gym ball, leaning over the bed, up against the wall, slumping in the chair, curling up on the sofa. I move about a lot! I accept a cup of tea from someone that was offering one. I am nothing if not British and always accept tea in times of crisis. This doesn’t get drunk. I ask for fizzy drinks instead, so Mark pops off to get me a bottle from the machine in the corridor. Things really start to hot up, and I just can’t get comfortable. Kelsey points out I’m in labour… Comfortable probably isnt going to come into it for a while! Carry on breathing- in for 4, out for 7… Mark reminds me when I forget. I forget quite a bit! I threaten to throw up. A little paper bowl thingy is bought, but in spite of a bit of retching, no sick is forthcoming. Am told I’m doing amazingly repeatedly, and hear various people commenting on how well i’m doing… Wonder vaguely if they say that to everyone

Monday 9th February
00:25- Am leaning up against the wall when my waters go with a loud pop. I tell the midwives ‘wow that was a really loud pop’… they smile and humour me, strip off my wet clothes and tell me the pool’s ready. I practically run to it in my bra and hop in. Oh my god, it’s awesome- water is an amazing pain killer! I feel immediately more comfortable. They get me to try out some different positions, and eventually I settle on being on all fours. Pains are coming pretty thick and fast now, but just fade to nothing in between- it’s really weird!

01:01- (I can be quite specific, it’s in my notes!). The urge to push comes on. I crap myself (in the mental sense… but yes, also in the literal sense)- surely I’ve not been in labour for long enough- first labours are meant to be long… what’s all that about?! The midwives reassure me that that’s fine, I can push, but also, stop thrashing about in the pool, woman, you’re going to throw all the water out, and we can’t examine you if you’re creating tidal waves. I realise I’m panicking and manage to claw back some of my composure with more breathing.

Then commences a mere 25 minutes of pushing (And swearing, and making mad gutteral noises). Nothing at all really- some people have to go through hours of that. In an act of true love, when I say ‘Mark, my back’s cold and it hurts… could you splash the water on my back’, he unflinchingly obliges and I later realise he’s had to put his hands in the pooey water.

I spend a lot of time with my head down, resting my forehead on a towel on the side of the pool, pausing in the brief gaps between contractions for sips of coke through a straw. I can remember my face getting hot because of the steam from the pool, and wiping my nose on the towel. Subtle! I look up at some point and my two midwives have magically transformed into four. It was a really quiet night in the unit, so I’m sure most people wouldn’t have had four midwives on hand!

For the last month of pregnancy, I’d been listening to a hypnobirthing ‘affirmations’ MP3 every day, and had written down the ones that I’d really liked. The one that resonated the most was the only one I remember in the end- ‘my surges cannot be stronger than me, because they are me’- I took a hell of a lot of comfort from that in the pushing bit.

I tell the midwives to shout at me if I was trying to push the head out too fast, because I really really didn’t want to tear, and they oblige. I think I breathe it out pretty slowly. The whole process feels like pooing fire.  Mark, after a bit of encouragement, goes down to the business end to watch the head coming out, and I can remember a lot of midwives cooing because my boy had so much blonde hair- must be pretty rare in newborn babies!

01:26- after a bit of bobbing in and out at the entrance, I finally manage to push him out. I’d been told earlier on that in waterbirths, the midwives don’t really touch you, save for checking the baby’s heart beat periodically (they check what’s happening down there with the aid of a torch and a mirror, I later found out), so I was given the option to be the first person to touch my baby- It was pretty freaking amazing, actually- I give birth to him into the water, and after scrabbling around and nearly sitting on him (nothing graceful in my world, unfortunately), manage to pluck him out and we sit together in the goo-filled water for a cuddle until the cord stops pulsing. My main man has a little cry, but nothing major, and looks out at the world as happy as larry.

Cord cut, I ask if it might be easier to have the injection to do the ‘third stage’ of placenta delivery. Kathy, midwife number three, points out that I’d done the whole thing without any drugs, so what was the point of slinging some artificial hormones into the mix now? I take her point, and proceed au naturel. It takes about half an hour, probably could have been quicker, but I keep expecting my body to tell me what to do, or to push or something, but my body does bugger all, and it turns out you need to kind of poo out your placenta. We get there in the end, and Kelsey flicks a faceful of blood at herself- it’s the second time in as many days that has happened to her, apparently.

Mark, meanwhile, is indulging in a bit of father-son skin to skin time.

01:57- It’s all over… well, almost. I waddle over to the bed for a cuddle and an inspection of my nethers. My son’s first act of love is to enter the world with one hand up to his face and I end up with a second degree tear. Hooray! An hour wait is mooted before they can stitch me up, so after a brief bit of baby weighing and some initial tests I have another cuddle and Sarah helps me with the dark art of breast feeding. I’m not sure we get it… Sid, as he’s been formally named by this point doesn’t really seem to be that up on it either… We eventually get him latched on and me and Mark stare at him for ages feeling a little bit awestruck

03:00- Kathy returns with another midwife, Laura, and a syringe of anaesthetic. Time to stitch me up. I’m really not looking forward to that and oh dear lord the anaesthetic going in HURTS! I make a lot of ‘nyarg’ noises, and Kathy encourages me breathe through it. In the end the actual stitching bit was fine though. As a final flourish, I have some painkillers pushed up my bum and go off for a shower.

03:30- We’re installed in a little room of our own, with tea and toast, our son is sound asleep in one of those weird plastic crib thingys and I call my mum to give her the news, while Mark does the same to his parents. Its all a little bit weird, but eventually we drift off for a brief hour of shut-eye (Mark has a mad, non-comfortable fold out chair bed thing, me a surprisingly comfortable hospital bed- hospital pillows are brilliant!).

08:00-12:00- A bit of a flurry of activity- Sid has his initial check over by a midwife- our hearts were in our mouths when she seemed to spend an inordinately long amount of time listening to his heart- one ear’s worth of hearing test is done, and a clinic appointment booked for the second ear (nothing to worry about, apparently), more tea and toast is served, and the first poo is cleaned up – not as bad as everyone was making out, to be honest- it was like marmite. Sid’s core temperature isn’t high enough, so I indulge in a little more skin to skin, while having another go at breast feeding. He’s pretty uninterested again, and I’m shown how to hand express, which we collect up and syringe into him.

At about midday we’re told we’re able to go home, but in true NHS stylee, the printer breaks, and for some reason I have been given two hospital numbers, so until IT sort their shit out we’re going nowhere

14:00- I have a power nap, and eventually at two, we are discharged and set free into the world. Feel a bit wobbly walking through the corridors, but so glad to be going home to start our new life as three.

Week 22- getting organised

This week was basically a week of spending… 20 week scan over, I felt brave enough to buy some stuff!

-I bought my first practical items of baby stuff- a multi pack of tshirty things with the poppers underneath and two packets of wet wipes. The glamour!

-We picked up the new car (well,  the new old car) – it’s lovely, and the boot is fricking huge. Plus it has a rear view mirror, a feature sadly lacking in our last automobile

-With the new car and is massive boot we high tailed it to mothercare to buy bedroom furniture that was in the sale,  only to be told that it was delivery only.  Meaning the boot didn’t get used and we’ve already missed the delivery driver with the mattress twice what with WORKING 9-5 MONDAY TO FRIDAY. So now we have to drive past bloody mothercare to collect it from the citylink depot. Beginning to think mothercare are are load of idiots.

-Plans were made for the bathroom.  No money spent as yet,  but bloke to move boiler and electrician have been booked and we started looking at toilets and tiles, that sort of stuff

As well as the spending, Elvis (yeah, we’ve been calling the baby Elvis- even when I didn’t know is it was a boy, he was Elvis, mainly because we like nicknames) has been getting into a little routine of basically ignoring me for most of the morning, kicking a bit in the afternoon and evening,  but only when I’m not expecting it and never more than once in quick succession so if I get a hand down to see if I can feel anything from the outside he gets bored and hides, then curling up in a little ball for a snooze at night.  I know this because when I wake up for one of my many night time wees there’s always a weird hard lump there which I can only assume must be his bum sticking out.

Oh and Mark gave me his cold. Thanks Mark. It’s not properly kicked in yet,  but I can feel the sore throat and runny nose descending upon me. Time for some hot squash, I think.  Hot squash cures everything

A new arrival

Two days ago heralded the arrival of a new niece- One Lyla Mary Tolan- here she is with her big brother Fin. Strange coincidence number one- Lyla and Fin share a birthday. Strange coincidence number two- so do their mum (my little sister Lauren), and I!- Seriously, what are the odds?! We should have put some money on it

Yesterday Mark and I  made our way over to see Lauren and her hubby Jordan, and the kids, decked out with flowers, birthday presents, and belated shrove tuesday pancakes.

A bit of dinner, a bit of pancake eating and some football later, when they were just getting Fin into his pyjamas, disaster strikes- The sort of vomming not seen since the Exorcist. Poor old Jordan (my brother in law) got covered and Fin was having a right old mare, so they trooped off upstairs for a clean up session.

Now, me and Mark are not what you would call responsible adults, preferring to spend the majority of our down time watching cartoons and eating pizza, and so were more than happy to spend some time hosing all the lumps out of the front room carpet, while trying not to gag too much, rather than having to worry about calming down a distraught two year old, so were quietly congratulating ourselves on getting the better deal, when we realised that we’d been left in charge of Lyla, who was merrily snoozing on the sofa. Cue five minutes of standing over her suspiciously and a conversation that went thus:
mark’is she cold?
me-‘how can you tell?’
mark-‘i have no idea’
me- ‘well lets get a blanket’
mark-‘but the blankets are covered in sick’
me-‘errrm, ok lets use a teatowel’

then a bit later
mark-‘she looks ridiculous in that teatowel…maybe you should pick her up
‘me- ‘no, you pick her up’
mark- ‘okay okay’… deep breath
me-‘aren’t you meant to support the head?’

followed by
mark- ‘oh bugger, she’s been sick on me’
me-‘errrm, there are some baby wipes down here- it says theyre sensitive ones…
mark- ‘I don’t think you can use them on babies faces’
me- ‘errrmmm….ok, well lets take her sicky clothes off
then 30 seconds of chuckle brothers-esque to me-to-you-ing, by which point we were no further forward and Lyla was looking at us wondering what the hell was going on

Thankfully, my sister came back downstairs then and relieved us from our inept pseudo-parenting. I honestly don’t know how parents do it- It must just be a 24-7 panic that you’re doing something wrong and blagging your way through it- Do they deliver an instruction manual with the placenta, perhaps? Here’s hoping, or I might never know what to do!