Baby Boy: Birth Story

Baby boy is nearly six weeks old so I think if I don’t get on and write his birth story now I might not get round to it at all.  I have written here about the week or so leading up to his arrival – this is what happened next.  After the weekend during which I became increasingly certain that the birth was imminent, I went to bed reasonably early on the Sunday but had an entirely sleepless night.  I was having mild contractions on and off, and then at five to six in the morning I had one which was unmistakably the real thing.  As my last labour had lasted under six hours, I thought that this one might be similar but it wasn’t at all.  The build up was very slow and though I was having quite a lot of contractions, they weren’t at all regular.  Paul took the children to his mum’s house, and then we went out to buy a car seat.  (First baby: spend weeks deliberating and researching options, then about an hour in the shop comparing models and fabrics before making a decision.  Fifth baby:  look in shed, discover a mouse has eaten the old one, drive to shop, make a dramatic entrance – “I’m in labour and I need a car seat right now!” – buy the brand you know is good in the colour they happen to have in stock and drive away ten minutes later.)  After that we spent most of the day doing housework to pass the time so by the end of it the house looked tidier than it has done for a while!  My friend Sarah came and kept me company too, and made some inroads into my enormous ironing pile.  As soon as I knew I was pregnant, I had asked her to be my birth partner because she always makes me feel calm in any situation and I knew if she was there I’d be okay whatever happened.  There’s lots of research to show that having a female birth partner improves outcomes, as summarised in this article from the Evidence Based Birth website.  It’s about having a doula, which can be a good option for many people, though I’d say that if you have a friend willing to stay with you that is even better.  The key thing seems to be the continuous support of someone who will not leave your side throughout your labour.

“Overall, women who received continuous support were more likely to have spontaneous vaginal births and less likely to have any pain medication, epidurals, negative feelings about childbirth, vacuum or forceps-assisted births, and C-sections. In addition, their labors were shorter by about 40 minutes and their babies were less likely to have low Apgar scores at birth.”

But I digress!  Back to the story…

Towards the end of the day, as the contractions were not any more regular, Sarah went home and Paul and I had a curry which I hoped might help to speed things up.  At about 9pm I decided I might as well go to bed and see if I could sleep.  I didn’t have high hopes, but in fact I managed about four hours.  After that I was up for a while, then went back to bed and got about another hour of light sleep in the early morning.  So when I got up on Tuesday I felt a lot better than I had throughout Monday, and a lot more ready to get on with the business of having a baby!

I spent some time making arrangements for the children to be looked after as Paul’s mum couldn’t have them for a second night, and Sarah came round again once her children were in school.  Throughout the morning, the contractions became more intense and frequent, though still not regular and around the middle of the day we rang the labour ward.  I was fairly sure it was too early to go in and stay but I wanted some reassurance that baby was okay after more than 24 hours of labour.  So we went in, but as expected we were able to return home after a short period of monitoring because baby was fine.

At some point I decided it was time to start using the Tens machine which really helped as the contractions were getting stronger.  It was hard to know when to go back to the hospital.  I didn’t want a repeat of last time (when I had to go in an ambulance and baby was born 20 minutes after I arrived!) but I knew if I went in too early I would get stressed and everything would slow down.  Sarah went home for a while to see her children after school, and then came back a couple of hours later because I suddenly got the feeling I needed to go in straight away.  We left at 7pm (I know this because the Archers was starting on the radio as we set off) and I had several very strong contractions on the way there.

Once I arrived, my contractions slowed down a bit as is often the case in hospital.  I had to have continuous monitoring because of the gestational diabetes, which was a bit annoying but I knew I could work round it.  At first I felt better standing up and moving around, but after a while I was too tired and I just wanted to lie down for a while.  I definitely didn’t want to get stuck on my back, but I felt I needed to save my strength for the last bit so I managed for a while by turning onto my side every time I had a contraction.  By this time I was also using gas and air, which was very effective in combination with the Tens machine.

I’m not sure how it looked to others but at this point I still felt pretty calm.  But very tired, that’s the main thing I remember, and just hoping baby boy would come soon.  One thing I’ve learnt about giving birth though, is that when you get to the point that you suddenly feel you can’t go on any longer, that’s when you are really close to the end.  I suddenly knew I had to be in a more upright position, so I turned round and knelt on the bed.  Looking back it doesn’t seem that it was much longer after that, though I don’t know the exact timings.  After a little while my waters broke and with the next contraction I started to push.  I remember thinking that was a bit half-hearted, I need to do better than that.  So with one more contraction and a more coordinated push, baby boy was born at 9.08pm.

Baby boy birth day 1

After a rather frantic rush to get my clothes off and turn round I held him skin to skin as quickly as I could, and it was perfect.  He was perfect.  We waited until the cord stopped pulsating, and then Paul cut it.  I can’t remember exactly what happened in what order after that.  I delivered the placenta, and then I had to have stitches.  That’s always pretty unpleasant, but three things helped me get through it – gas and air, the calming presence of Paul and Sarah and cuddles from baby boy.  And I fed him very soon after the birth, and then on and off for about an hour.  Took lots of photos, enjoyed the best cup of tea ever (even if I had to drink it lukewarm because baby boy was attached) and ate lots of toast.  Eventually he stopped feeding for long enough to be weighed and he was 6lb 11oz.

Baby Boy Birth Day 2

I was very lucky to have a calm and peaceful birth and, although I would have liked to be at home, I’m grateful to the staff at St Helier who were, as always, excellent.  I had a lovely midwife and student who were a great team.  Sarah was a fantastic birth partner, as I knew she would be.  Afterwards, the midwife asked if we’d known each other for a long time because she noticed the communication between us was instinctive and we didn’t need to talk much.  That’s exactly why it worked so well.  And Paul was calm and supportive as always.  And I loved seeing the boy having his first cuddles with daddy who managed (for the first time in five babies) not to fall asleep in the chair after the birth.  I am thankful that it all went so well, even though I didn’t get to try out the Calm Birth School hypnobirthing techniques because baby boy arrived before I’d managed to go through the course.  If you’re a bit more organised than me, then you should definitely try it though because from what I have seen the course is brilliant and it provides a really good network of support too.

baby boy birth day 3

I’ve had this post in draft for too long thinking I would write about the rest of my 24 hours in hospital, but I think I’ll have to leave that part of the story for another day.

baby boy first feed

Welcome to the world baby boy!  We love you xx

 

 

The Calm Birth School

Towards the end of my pregnancy, I was offered the opportunity to review The Calm Birth School, an online course teaching hypnobirthing techniques.  The course takes four weeks to complete, and I knew there was a chance I wouldn’t manage all of it as I was already about 35 weeks pregnant when I signed up.  In fact, a combination of my lack of organisation and baby boy’s early arrival meant that I didn’t get very far with it, but I have seen enough to know that is something I would definitely recommend.

The course includes video modules, digital handbooks, mp3s and online support from the course leaders and other members of the group.  I only got as far as watching the welcome video, and the first teaching video, so I didn’t get to the point of putting the techniques into practice, but my initial impressions were very positive.

In the welcome video, Suzy Ashworth and Hollie de Cruz, the founders of the Calm Birth School introduce themselves and explain what the course covers.  These are the key points:

  • no such thing as a perfect birth
  • no place for perfectionism
  • focus on creating a positive birth experience
  • trust your body and your baby
  • breathing techniques
  • the science of birth
  • release your fears
  • support from Suzy and Hollie

I also watched Class 1 Module 1 – Physiology and Psychology of Birth, but I was a little distracted as there was a lot of noise in the background from my other children who were needing some attention.  I got to the part where you are supposed to practise the breathing techniques, and I did try, but the noise level rose to the extent that I couldn’t hear the video so I gave up, thinking I would come back to it later.  Of course I didn’t, which is the story of my life, so all I got was a tantalising glimpse of how useful the course could be if I’d managed to devote some time to it.

One of the features of the course which I particularly liked was the online support available, in the form of a facebook group, and direct contact with the Suzy and Hollie if needed.  Again I’ve been somewhat on the sidelines, but I’ve been observing the group and it is lovely and positive, and I believe the support and encouragement could make all the difference particularly to first time mothers who may be getting more negative messages about birth from other sources.  As with the course as a whole, the group clearly promotes the idea that it is possible to achieve a calm birth but it’s not about perfection, and giving birth is not something you can fail at.

baby boy first feed

As for my own experience, I had a lovely calm birth this time round, which I will be writing about separately.  After a difficult birth the first time, and a moderately difficult one the second time, I’ve had three really positive experiences thanks to the support of friends and things I have learnt along the way.  But I do wish I’d had something like the Calm Birth School to help me prepare during my first pregnancy, and I highly recommend it to anyone, particularly first time parents or those who have had a difficult birth before.  I’d like to say thank you to Suzy and Hollie for letting me access the course and join the group.  I’m sorry I didn’t make more use of it but I think you are doing a brilliant job and I will be recommending you to every pregnant person I meet!

I was given free access to The Calm Birth School course materials and support group for the purpose of this review.

 

 

 

Pregnancy Diary: the Last Week

The last pregnancy diary post I published was at 36 weeks and 2 days.  Just over a week later I went into labour, and baby boy was born at 37 weeks and 4 days.  In the last post I wrote that I was “hoping that the increase in intensity and frequency of the Braxton Hicks contractions doesn’t mean baby is going to come too soon.  A bit early would be okay, but not this early please baby, I am so not organised.”  I never really did get organised, but I think what was most worrying me was the idea of giving birth before 37 weeks.

The first couple of days of the last week of the pregnancy were quite difficult, because the Braxton Hicks were really painful and frequent, and I was just exhausted.  I felt a bit better on the Wednesday as we had the final growth scan which was lovely.  It was very reassuring to see baby boy, and know he was okay, and a very normal weight of approximately 6lbs at that point.

I remember saying to a few people the weekend before that I wouldn’t mind giving birth early, but not before I’d had my pre-baby hair appointment!  That was on the Thursday, and was very relaxing.  It also marked the end of week 36, as I was exactly 37 weeks on the Friday.

Pre-baby hairdo

Hair Done – baby can come now!

37 weeks

37 weeks

I would have been very glad to know, when I took those photos, that I only had to wait four more days before meeting baby boy.  There was just one more obligation that had to be fulfilled first and that was Messy Church, which Paul and I were running on the Saturday.  The theme was the Nativity, and the children were hoping that the baby would be born in time to be Jesus, but I wasn’t quite so keen on that idea!

After Messy Church was over, I went home thoroughly exhausted but feeling that now baby could come when he was ready, and even though we weren’t organised it wouldn’t really matter that much.  So when I had a show that evening, and realised that my instinct was right that he really was coming soon, I felt reasonably calm about it.  I went to church on Sunday in a positive mood, wearing my favourite maternity dress and feeling rather fabulous.  I was also pretty sure I was showing off the bump for the last time, and it turns out I was right.  (I’m not counting the following two days spent in scruffy but comfortable clothes while I was in labour!)  After the service I mentioned to a couple of people that I thought baby was imminent, and later that day I finally got round to packing my hospital bag.  Once that was done I tried to go to bed early, but unfortunately couldn’t sleep at all.  I had contractions on and off throughout the night, and though they weren’t distinctly different from the Braxton Hicks, I had the feeling that they were gradually changing.  At five to six in the morning I had a contraction that was much more intense, and I knew from that point that I was definitely in labour, though still in the early stages.

And now, baby boy is demanding my attention so I will have to save his birth story for another day.

Baby Boy – Birth Day

Baby boy arrived at 9.08 pm on Tuesday 16th December, two and a half weeks before his due date, weighing 6lb 11oz.  I have lots more to say, and thousands more photos to choose from, but for now here are a few photos from his birth day.

Baby boy birth day 1

Baby Boy Birth Day 2

baby boy birth day 3

Mindfulness and Staying Afloat

It’s been a difficult few days, and I’ve been very glad of the 31 days of mindfulness to keep me going.  I’ve enjoyed looking at the variety of photos on Instagram, and especially reading Leigh’s latest blog post on mindfulness which I found very helpful.  Two things in particular jumped out at me.  Firstly, the encouragement to “be kinder to myself” – like Leigh I have good friends who tell me this, and like her I also find it very difficult.  But I am trying.  Secondly, the advice to “accept however I am feeling, whether that feeling is happy, sad or anything in between.”  I am working on that too, and it helps to focus on small positives without allowing negatives to take over and cloud the view.

mindfulness 2

So these are my latest four days of minfulness.

Day 5 – It was a rather up and down day, but it ended well.  I spent a relaxing evening having Turkish takeaway with a very special friend who always makes me feel better about everything, but I didn’t have a photo of that.  So instead I took a picture of my favourite blanket when I came home and snuggled up on the sofa with the lovely husband.

Day 6 – a long, tiring day at the church fair, but the children had a good time and I enjoyed twenty minutes of peace and quiet in the chapel in the midst of it all.  There was a sort of “lucky dip” basket of blessings to take away, and I love the one I picked out.

Day 7 – another tiring day, and too much on my mind in the evening, but I tried to focus on something positive, and I chose the cushion which I bought at the church fair.   I love the fabric, which came from Dublin.   Pretty things make me happy – it just takes a bit of mindfulness to pay attention to them!

Day 8 – I have been trying to rest today, after getting worried that the contractions were becoming more intense and frequent as a result of doing too much at the weekend.  The children have been very good at entertaining themselves (I am doing my best not to get stressed about the resulting mess!) and I have been reading a book that I bought at the church fair, One Good Turn, by Kate Atkinson.  I am really enjoying it and I need to keep making time to read – it’s hard to fit it in most days, but worth it.

I’m still struggling a bit, very tired and the pains are still quite bad, though definitely less frequent after a more restful day.  But I am surviving, just managing to stay afloat and sometimes that is enough.  So I’m off to bed to read another chapter of my book and try not to worry about anything that I can’t solve right now.

Pregnancy Diary: 36 Weeks

Today I am 36 weeks and 2 days pregnant.

36 weeks

Baby is: the size of a large canteloupe, about 6lbs and 19-22 inches long.

I am: hoping that the increase in intensity and frequency of the Braxton Hicks contractions doesn’t mean baby is going to come too soon.  A bit early would be okay, but not this early please baby, I am so not organised.  But at least I have made a start.  Yesterday I bought some of the things I need for my hospital bag.  Still quite a way to go, and not sure when I can next get out shopping, but I feel better for having bought nappies at least, and a few other bits and pieces.  I can see how it’s going to go – fifth babies do not get the same treatment as first babies, but I need to do a bit better.  So far I have two vests and three sleepsuits from the charity shop (thanks mum) but nothing else in the newborn size.  I’m all for a bit of minimalism but I seem to remember that babies go through more clothes than that in a day!

31 Days of Mindfulness: the first four days

I love this idea from Leigh who blogs at Headspace Perspective – 31 days of mindfulness to counteract the stress of December.  I am not sure how far I’ll get through the 31 days.  It probably depends on whether baby decides to arrive early or not.  But I’m going to try my best.  I’ve been joining in on Instagram, and I’ll try and blog about it every few days.  If nothing else, it will lead to an eclectic selection of photos randomly juxtaposed!

mindfulness 1

Day 1 – the notebook was a present from a very lovely friend and I’ve been using it to write down things that I’m thankful for.   I don’t manage it every day, but whenever I do it makes me feel better.

Day 2 – after a long and tiring day of feeling unwell, and having painful Braxton Hicks contractions, I was very much cheered up by Tiddler singing Jingle Bells to the bump.

Day 3 – trying not to be quite so cross about the very existence of December and making an effort to remember what Advent is meant to be about.

Day 4 – today was another really difficult day, and the contractions were worse again.  Feeling a bit better now since the lovely husband came home and ran me a bath, even if he did have to pull me out of it too!

And if that all isn’t enough, I just need to remind myself that despite the combination of December stress and late pregnancy stress, the denouement of both will be A BABY!  I am so blessed.  I don’t have to look far to find something to be thankful for.

“I prayed for this child and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him.” 1 Samuel 1:27

Pregnancy Diary: 35 Weeks

Today I am 35 Weeks and 3 days pregnant.

35 weeks

Baby is: about the size of a honeydew melon, approximately 5.5 lbs, and 20 inches long.

I am: very tired today but mainly because I went to the theatre in London last night, which was brilliant, and is a better reason for feeling tired than just general pregnancy exhaustion.  I’m still having painful Braxton Hicks contractions pretty much all the time, but my back is a bit better so I’m managing to get a bit more done.  Too tired to think of anything else to say – it doesn’t feel like there’s much else to report, and no news is probably good news!

War Horse review

This post is written by Owl.

war horse

Recently Mummy and I went to see the play of War Horse in London. We took the train from where we live that terminated at London Victoria. Soon, after a tube train ride, we were walking to the theatre.  Once we had found it, as we had some time left, we went to an Italian restaurant for supper and I had a delicious pizza. Soon the show started and we watched the play. The story is about a boy called Albert and a horse called Joey who meet when Albert’s father brings Joey home from an auction. However, after Albert grew up with Joey, his father sells Joey to the army and Albert goes on a journey to find him. Some time ago Mummy read me the book by Michael Morpurgo (on which the play is based) and the play is the same as the book except for one thing: in the book the story is told from the viewpoint of Joey, and you can’t get that in a play. Overall, I think the play is really good, and I recommend that you watch it. Just make sure you’ve read the book first!

Pregnancy Diary: 34 Weeks

Today I am 34 weeks and 4 days pregnant.

34 weeks

Baby is: as big as a pineapple.  He has been wriggling around a lot and I feel a bit more comfortable so I think that foot is out of my ribs for now.

I am: feeling quite calm right now so it’s probably best to write this before that changes!  My back pain got a lot worse at the end of last week, and has continued to be quite bad over the weekend, so this week got off to a horrible start.  But, although it’s still painful, I think it’s slightly better today than it was and my movement is not quite so restricted.  I’m hoping that the improvement continues so I can get some housework done because it’s horrible watching the chaos build up, and the stress of that makes everything else harder to deal with.  I’m still not sleeping much either – all the usual reasons, with leg cramps thrown into the mix as well.

I had an appointment at the hospital clinic today, and was seen separately by a nurse, a midwife and a consultant, after which I had to have some blood tests.  By the end of it I couldn’t wait to get out of there.  It was stressful for a lot of reasons.  The clinic was running late and Paul had to go back and collect Tiddler from preschool, so I was on my own which always seems to be when things go wrong.  I found out I have protein and leukocytes in my urine, so that has to be checked out.  Probably just a UTI, but the protein thing makes me nervous as it is a sign of pre-eclampsia.  I’m sure they would have mentioned if my blood pressure was high though (in the stress of the moment I forgot to ask), so it’s not very likely to be that.

It took the midwife a really long time to find the baby’s heartbeat too, which was horrible, but she did find it in the end and everything seems to be fine.  Then I saw the consultant, who said, as I suspected, that I need to start taking Metformin because my early morning sugars have been either borderline or a little bit high.  It’s really disappointing, as my sugars have been fine after meals and it seems very marginal.  The consequence is no home birth, no midwife-led unit and the possibility of continuous monitoring in labour.  I’m not looking forward to the prospect of another hospital birth,  but I know the positions that work for me, and I know that it’s possible to be monitored without lying on a bed so I will just have to be assertive – or maybe Paul will!

So after all that, and with a sore back and two sore arms (one from the blood tests today, the other from the whooping cough injection I had yesterday) it’s surprising that I am still feeling calm but at the moment I am.  I think that bizarrely the fact that this baby is already causing trouble (like the rest of them, I’m tempted to add) somehow makes me more sure than ever that he’s entirely meant to be.  The thing about children is that they drive you a little bit crazy a lot of the time, but then they catch you out by being completely amazing and lovely and you forgive them.  I’m sitting on the sofa, the house has finally gone quiet so I’ve got time to pay attention to the smallest one who is moving around reassuringly and I’m quite enjoying watching my bump.  I’m so looking forward to meeting him, and I know all this trouble will definitely be worth it.