When 2 became 3. A birth story.

I love reading birth stories, I read so many when I was expecting my first.  Everyone’s experiences are all so different.  Both my labours although fairly similar were also different in many ways.  After each of my labours I made sure to find the time to write my birth stories so I could also one day share them.  Here is my first…

My contractions started whilst I was at home on the Thursday afternoon, three days before my due date. At first they were really mild and as I hadn’t had any cramps or Braxton Hicks up to this point I assumed it was probably nothing and carried on as normal (sat on my bum watching reruns of GBBO). By 9pm the pains hadn’t subsided, in fact they were now worse so I began timing them…you know, just in case. We went to bed as normal and I managed to sleep until 3am. My contractions were now stronger and coming more frequently but were certainly not regular or close enough that I felt we needed to call the hospital. At this point my waters hadn’t broken and I had had no other signs that I was in labour. At 5am (Friday) I decided to get up try and manage the pain on my birthing ball. We called the maternity triage line at 7am as I still wasn’t 100% sure ‘this was it’ as I hadn’t had any other signs. The midwife I spoke to was lovely, really reassuring. She told me that this was all normal and to take some paracetamol and to have a bath and that we didn’t need to go in until the contractions were much closer together. We tried the Tens machine for a few hours but as the contractions weren’t in my back I didn’t find that it helped at all with the pain. The contractions continued throughout the day and very gradually did begin to get longer and more frequent. By 9pm (Friday) the contractions were about a minute long and happening every 6 minutes and because they were still not frequent enough we decided to go to bed. After being in bed for all of about 30 minutes, the contractions started to became more painful and I was starting to experience a pain in between them too. We called the maternity ward again and because of the pain I was experiencing they asked us to come in. We arrived at the hospital and went straight to the Midwife Led Unit where I was examined by a midwife, she did all the checks and everything was fine with the baby although she told me I was still only in the early stage of labour. It wasn’t clear why I was experiencing this pain between the contractions so I was taken downstairs to the labour ward where a doctor offered me some diamorphine to cope with the pain which I accepted.  This allowed me to get some rest and I think I might have slept a little.  Around 5am (Saturday) I was examined and was told I was 6cm dilated and since the pain had subsided I was allowed back up to the Midwife Led Unit. Whilst in Midwife Led Unit I used the bath and gas and air to cope with the pain. As my waters still hadn’t gone the midwife decided to break them for me, hoping to speed things along. Things progressed quite slowly and by 3:30pm I had reached 9cm, after this point my contractions slowed right down and around 5pm they decided that I should go back down to the labour ward. By this time I was well and truly knackered! Once I was on the labour ward I was examined again and told I had an ‘anterior lip’ which basically meant part of my cervix had folded back on itself meaning that I was unlikely to get to 10cm (and be allowed to push) without the help of the hormone drip to increase my contractions which I gladly accepted. I think by this point I had become immune to the effects of gas and air and I asked for an epidural.  After the epidural was administered I didn’t feel ANY pain (Halleujah!) and as my contractions increased I was able to relax and get some energy back. Once I reached 10cm they allowed me to start pushing. I pushed for an hour but she was getting stuck as her head wasn’t in the right position. Baby was monitored the whole time I was on the labour ward and her heartbeat was consistent and she didn’t show any signs of distress, in fact each midwife that checked the monitor commented on how calm she had been throughout. At this point the doctor told me that as she was stuck he wanted to prep me for theatre, he wanted to try forceps and if that didn’t work they would have to do a caesarean. The theatre team were all fantastic and all so nice.  I’m not sure if it was all the drugs or just delirious from being so tired but I felt like they were all my best friends! They were all really reassuring and really calm which meant that I didn’t panic.  It did really help knowing beforehand (thanks to my NCT classes) that if we had to go to theatre that I should expect a lot of people in theatre with us.  After 5 or 6 pushes our baby girl was pulled into the world using forceps a few minutes before 9pm Saturday night weighing 7lb 14oz.
I obviously would have preferred not to have had her via forceps but she got away very lightly and barely had a mark on her. The couple of small bruises she did have disappeared after a few days. She also didn’t seem to suffer from any head pain afterwards either. I stayed in hospital for the Saturday night and was discharged the following day.  If I’m honest, it did take me a few weeks to recover from the pain as I think I had quite a bit of internal bruising from the forceps. It’s not something I had really given much thought to beforehand and I found it really frustrating in the beginning as I had expected to be up and out of the house and some days I could barely move around the house because of the pain. It took me three weeks before I was even comfortable to drive so was housebound for a little while which wasn’t ideal.  As disappointed as I was that my labour hadn’t really gone to plan I am extremely appreciative to all the staff at the Royal Berkshire Hospital.  Every single person we dealt with (there was a LOT) during our stay were brilliant.  From the first phone call to triage, to the midwives, to the theatre team and to the staff on the ward later who helped me with every single feed.  I will always be eternally grateful.

Why it took becoming a parent for me to care about feminism (cringe)

kate nash

I’m ashamed to admit that before I became a parent I was not a feminist.  In fact I knew, or even cared little about it (WTF).  I am angry at myself for this, it’s majorly embarrassing.  Having always worked in a male dominated environment, for some reason I found it easier to succumb to the views of the people around me rather than to fight against them.

Breaking News: You can be a feminist without being a man-hater.  Yeah I know, who knew? The definition of Feminism is simply ‘the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes’. In laymen’s terms – we are equal.

Like most parents, from the moment I fell pregnant I began to imagine the life he or she would lead.  I wanted my child to have countless opportunities throughout his or her life.  It wasn’t until I really thought about it that the realisation hit me that it was possible that my son or daughter may not be given certain opportunities because of their sex.  It was absurd to me and it became crystal clear that if I didn’t start to change my opinions that I would only be passing on my pitiful views to my son or daughter.  I think it’s important to note that if we had had a son instead I would have also wanted him to grow up understanding that gender equality is imperative and I would have taught him to have equal respect for women and his male peers.

I strive to be a positive role model for my daughter and aim to help her to grow into a strong and confident woman.  It’s important that she understands that she has been born into a life where anything is possible and that her gender does not define her.  Opportunities will not be given or hindered because of she is female.

Last week I decided to watch the new series of The Apprentice.  I was APPALLED (yes the capitalisation really is necessary in this instance) to hear contestant Sarah Dale insisting that her team dress up in skirts, nice dresses, high heels and make up as she felt that it would mean the public buy more of the items that they were tasked with selling.  Really? REALLY? UGH. I have no words.  How Karen Brady didn’t string her up I don’t know.  I saw a comment on Facebook that said ‘If somebody had been as racist as she had been sexist they would have been booted off of the show’.  In the boardroom at the end of the programme her comments were not discussed and she was not reprimanded for her ludicrous demands.  Why?  As a woman trying to get ahead in business she really isn’t going to get very far with those views.  I’m really hoping Sir Alan Sugar makes an example of her very soon.  It’s when things like this happen that make me realise how far I have come and how much my views have changed since having my daughter as I was so incredibly angry with what she was saying.

As a mother I feel as though I should be the one teaching my daughter however, on reflection I feel that actually my daughter is the one who has taught me such a huge life lesson and in fact i’m sure she will continue to do so in many different ways.

Autumn Activities for the Little People

squashes-pumpkinsStruggling for ideas to entertain the family now that summer has packed its bag and headed south? Here are some of the things we’ll be getting up to and I’ve also thrown in some additional suggestions to keep your sprogs smiling through to bonfire night.

Harvest Festival Party |It’s been months since everybody managed to get together from our NCT group.  Thankfully we were all available for this coming weekend and we’ll be meeting up at one of the other couple’s home to celebrate all the babies turning 1 (wait, can I still call them babies after turning 1?).  Since every children’s party should have a theme, we’ve decided to turn the belated birthday bash into a mini harvest festival.  We’re each going to bring an autumn themed dish so the hosts aren’t lumbered with all the catering as well as the tidying up! I’m yet to decide what we’re going to take but I expect it will have some type of squash in it.  With regards to costumes I had considered dressing up ‘Pops’ (my little one) as a pumpkin but she’s so petite I’m not sure she’d look quite right.  Perhaps a corn on the cob would be more appropriate? Does anybody have any other ideas for Harvest Festival themed fancy dress suitable for a very petite 1 year old?

Conker, Autumn Leaves and Pine Cone Collecting | Last weekend we looked after our two nephews (5 years and 18 months).  We decided to head out first thing with them to the local park thinking that it would be the best place to run off some energy.  I took a carrier bag along with us and once we’d done all the sliding down slides, swinging on swings and see-sawing on the see-saw the kids wanted, we headed to the edge of the park and filled the bag with all the conkers we could find.  The two little ones were more interested in the pine cone collecting which is probably just as well since I’ve heard that conkers are poisonous and A-pops still puts everything in her mouth! I now have several pots dotted around the house filled with pine cones and my eldest nephew has a pretty impressive conker collection.  You could also collect a bunch of autumn leaves and use them to make an autumn picture or display once you’re home if you’re feeling creative.

Squash and Pumpkin Festival | This year we’ll be going to The Squash and Pumpkin Festival at Hardwick Estate, Whitchurch on Thames.  We went last year and had a brilliant day. This year it sounds like they are planning on pretty much the same kind of family fun.  They’ve promised a farmers market, craft activities, local food, licensed bar, children’s entertainment, live music and a carved pumpkin competition.  Who said festivals were just for the summer? If you’re local I’d recommend you check it out.

Halloween Party | There’s no way I could do a run-down of family activities for October and not include a Halloween party.  I’m yet to actually decide what we’re doing for Halloween but it’s sure to involve dressing up and Halloween themed food! Last year there was a Macmillan coffee morning around Halloween, is that happening this year?  I think perhaps I’ll just throw one anyway? Any excuse to dress the kids up and eat cake, right?  I’m also planning on decorating the house this year so look out for a future Halloween themed decorations post.

Parent Visits and Sunday Lunches | As I mentioned in my Autumn post when the weather turns it really makes me crave a roast dinner. It’s been ages since I had a roast at my mum and dad’s so I think I’ll be dropping heavy hints next time we speak about heading over to theirs one Sunday for lunch.  They’re unlikely to say no if it means getting a visit from their only favourite grandchild.

National trust | Check out your local National Trust venue for Harvest Festival or Halloween themed events.

And for when the weather is rubbish…

Movie time | The plus side of those earlier dark nights is that when you close the curtains it is actually dark inside now!  Draw those curtains, pop that popcorn (or rice cakes for younger children) and stick on a movie if you have children who are able sit still throughout a whole film.

Baking | I’m a Great British Bake Off fan ok? It’s great and I’m actually a bit sad that this week it’s the last one.  I’ve recently dug my Hummingbird Bakery cook book out and started baking again so Mr G and I have something to feast on whilst we watch the show every Wednesday night.  Yes we’re THAT rock and roll.  Over the next few weeks I’m planning on trying my hand at baking with pumpkin.  Expect pictures of pumpkin pie and pumpkin cupcakes on my Instagram very soon!

I’d love to hear about any other ideas for family days out or activities for October, please drop me a comment…