30 weeks pregnant 

Today I’m 30 weeks pregnant and despite the big bump, I still can’t believe it in a way!

 

30 weeks pregnant
30 weeks pregnant
 
Since my last pregnancy update…

-we had a 20 week and then 24 week scan and consultant appointment with the fetal medicine department. Everything looks ok, heart is looking good and baby was measuring fine (short legs like his mum!) but of course they can’t give us the 100% ok that baby won’t be born with a genetic disorder as we had a high nuchal fold at the start (but we’re feeling relaxed about it)

-sometime after that appointment I’ve lost my maternity notes/folder… Most annoying thing is all our scan photos were in there 😦 need to try and get it sorted/copied before our next consultant appointment at 33 weeks 

-the last two weeks I was signed off work with a chest infection, it really hit me – was bed/sofa-bound for most of the time and even now I have a lingering cold and cough which is doing my head in!

– I started doing pregnancy yoga (with PureYoga who I did mother&baby yoga with) and managed to make it to one Fitbump class which was great, hope I can make it to a few more!

Getting ready for baby 

I’m disorganised at the best of times but I’ll blame the chest infection on the fact we are SO unprepared for this baby! I keep thinking we already have everything we need but actually we need to:

  • Buy some newborn outfits, and dig out W’s newborn stuff from the loft
  • Buy a Moses basket (I quite fancy getting a Snuzpod/next-to-me)
  • Create some storage space for baby’s clothes/stuff
  • Buy some 0 size nappies
  • Get some replacement parts for my Medela swing pump
  • Pick up the car seat from friends who are donating us theirs 
  • Pack hospital bags
  • Confirm my leaving date in work
  • Work out how many days a week we’ll need the childminder for W while I’m on maternity (any advice on this most welcome!)
  • Remember how to give birth!

On the last point, this is where I feel totally unprepared! I’m sure by this time last time around we’d gone to NHS antenatal classes, I was doing a NCT breathing (and stretching) class and reading lots of magazines and books about labour. 

This time I’ve not any of that! After debating whether or not to attend an NCT refresher class, we can’t make that date anyway! And I feel like I’ve left it too late to join a 6week Daisy birthing course.

So I’ll just have to do lots of reading… Oh and watching One Born Every Minute!

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Newborn baby boy number 2’s wish list 

newborn wish list.jpgWhen we were expecting first time around, we were given and lent quite a bit of stuff but still feels like we bought a lot. This time around it feels like we hardly need to buy anything…. So I got to daydreaming about all the things we would buy if money was no object 😀

Cosatto Air Travel System (£450)

We have a perfectly decent Bugaboo Chameleon which we bought second-hand and is now probably about 7 years old. As much as I love it and the bargain price we paid for it (£350) I’ve always fancied trying the Cosatto range, I love their vibrant fabrics and bright colours and this one is my fave…

 

cossatto air travel system

cossatto air travel system

iCandy Peach blossom double (£1,180)

So far I’ve ruled out buying a double stroller, I’m hoping I can carry baby in a sling while W’s in his pushchair (he loves walking/running most of the time anyway) but if we do need to get one I’d love the iCandy version. Quite a few of the other ones I’ve seen have the baby carrycot very low down, close to the floor, which I don’t like the idea of, whereas this one looks great!

 

iCandy pearl double buggy
iCandy pearl double buggy

 

IKEA Poang rocking chair (£100-120)

Last time around I really regretted not having a rocking chair for all those night feeds. Alas, we have no space for one but if we did, I would go for the IKEA one as I think it does a fab job of being comfy, functional AND stylish!

 

ikea poang rocking chair
ikea poang rocking chair

 

Chicco next-to-me (£150)

The one thing we do actually need this time around is a Moses basket as we borrowed one last time. We’ll probably go for a relatively cheap, basic one but if money was no object I’d love to try one of the co-sleepers like the Snuzpod, Bednest or the Chicco next-to-me (the latter of which seems the most affordable, and I love this ‘circles’ print you can buy it in. I’ve heard they’re really handy for nightfeeds, and saving your back!

 

chicco next-to-me in circles
chicco next-to-me in circles

Sleepyhead Portable Deluxe Baby Pod (£99)

W took a while (8 months or so) to sleep through and I came across this during one of many online research sessions when I was trying to discover the secret to sleeping through! This was mentioned in a few forums etc, and I haven’t heard anything bad about it. I did wonder why it costs so much more than the very popular Poddle pods (about £30-£40) but you can only use the Poddle pod for baby’s day naps whereas the Sleepyhead you would use in their cot at night.

 

Aden & Anais muslin sheets (£19.95 for 3)

And finally…. If money was no object I’d stock up on muslin sheets not from the local supermarket but from the very aspirational Aden & Anais. I have no idea why they cost so much, and whether they’re worth the extra money (to be fair I have heard they’re much bigger than standard muslins) but they look very cute 🙂

aden   anais muslin sheets
aden anais muslin sheets
So there we have it! If you’ve tried any of the above I’d love to hear from you about them (just in case our lotto numbers come in!) thanks for calling by x

To NCT or not to NCT?

When I was pregnant last time around, to prepare for giving birth we went to the NHS antenatal classes, I went to pregnancy yoga weekly, I read lots of books, magazines and blogs. It was the only time I could watch ‘One born every minute’ (couldn’t stomach it before or after!) We decided against paying for the NCT antenatal classes as we didn’t feel like we needed them, and they seemed like an extravagance.

Fast forward two years, and I can’t believe I’m contemplating this, but I’m thinking of doing NCT…. To buy some new friends!!

image

See, most of the mums I’ve met since having W who had done NCT generally agreed that the classes were ok but the best thing about it was the new lifelong friends they’d met…. Often the dads as well as the mums.

When I was on maternity leave last time around I was lucky to know about 5 people that were also off, who I did meet up with from time-to-time. I met some lovely people at the long list of classes I did, but never felt quite confident enough to suggest meeting up for a coffee/play date. Quite a few of these lovely people were already in NCT groups (they’d met at the classes) and they seemed like clans… impenetrable. Inseparable.

So I was quite envious of them at times. They were in whatsapp groups and messaged each other daily and during the night feeds. I can’t complain, whenever I felt lonely or was having a bad day, there was always a friend I could text who would understand exactly what I was going through… And I remember Twitter chats with other night feeders fondly…. But did I miss out? These little sisterhoods where you’re all going though the same issues, at the same time.

Due to the nature of NCT and the cost of the courses, I think you’d generally find like-minded people so a good chance of getting on with them, actually I only know one person who didn’t gel with her NCT group (but her OH bonded well with the dads so it was still worthwhile!)

I have plenty of friends, some with children, some without. I have a couple of close friends who’ll be off on maternity leave when I am. I’ll make plenty of new friends when W and his little brother go to school….

…but I’m still leaning towards the NCT class! It’s crazy, it will cost at least £100 at a time when we’re trying to save money. We had a positive birth experience last time around and don’t feel like we need more antenatal training (although the the refresher courses do cover topics like sibling rivalry too!)

Do you know what all this is about? FOMO (fear of missing out!), and so far FOMO is winning but I’ll see how I feel in a few weeks time 🙂

What would you do?!

 

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When a 12 week scan doesn’t go to plan

We were so blasé, sat there waiting this time, we’d been through this before, we knew what to expect, it would be fine!

We got called into the scan and quickly saw our baby wriggling away on the monitor. Relief. Everything’s fine, we smiled and joked while the radiographer took his measurements.

‘I can’t quite get the baby into the right position, can you sit outside for a bit and I’ll call you back in?’

No problem, we thought, still happy that he/she was wriggling too much to be caught on camera!

We get called back in and scanned again. We get told the nuchal fold is reading high (3.9mm when the safe cut-off is 3.5mm).

We get put in another room so we don’t have to sit in a corridor with all the happy parents-to-be. Midwife comes in. Basically tells us that the odds are that there’s a 75% chance that there’s something wrong with the baby… 50% genetic, 25% something wrong with the heart… So a 25% chance that baby is ‘normal’.

World falls apart.

She tells us our next options are an amnio or something similar. She says we’re referred to the ‘fetal medicine dept’ who we’ll hear from in a few days.

That evening I think we both felt pretty numb, as we both googled away I found there’s a private blood test (nifty) you can have for £500 which will tell you about odds of genetic disorder. (I think this the one now being rolled out in the NHS). A couple of days later I had that, they also scanned us again but said that baby was measuring at 11 weeks so too early to read the nuchal fold.

A week of agonising waiting… we’d agreed to take everything step by step and not make any decisions until we had some hard facts, we couldn’t make decisions based on odds. So I tried not to think about (thought about it at all the time) whether we’d have to terminate the pregnancy due to a life-limiting disorder, or whether we could raise a child with Down’s syndrome.

The test came back good, baby had 3million to one odds of having Down’s or another couple of major genetic disorders. Relief but nerves and uncertainty still prevailed.

A week later we had our first appointment at the fetal medicine department – another scan (this time I was actually at 12 weeks!) and an appointment with the consultant. He said the nuchal reading was now within the safe range, but because they’d spotted it earlier we were still at risk. He estimated that the 75% had dropped down to maybe 25% which would drop down further if the 20 week scan went ok.

He wanted to see us again before Christmas, so I was about 15 weeks. Again, happy with the nuchal fold and a short chat with him gave us much-needed confidence, he thought the odds of there being something wrong were now down to 10%-15%.
We finally started telling people, and could finally start believing that this was happening, we could start bonding with the baby.

So it’s been a very odd start to the pregnancy, if I’d known my dates I wouldn’t have had that first scan at 10 weeks with that reading. If I was a year younger (I’m 35) I wouldn’t be classed as high risk and my poor odds would have been much better. On the plus side, at 20 weeks pregnant I’ve already had 5 scans, 5 chances to see our beautiful wriggly baby. I’ll now get a scan every month, great service from our beloved NHS!

Above all, I can only be grateful. Hopefully we will have a happy ending, our odds are good. I know so many people don’t get their happy ending. I can’t for one minute try to put myself in their shoes, but those few weeks of uncertainty were enough to make me very lucky and blessed that we’ve got this far.

Announcement: 20 weeks pregnant!

We’re 20 weeks pregnant!

I haven’t blogged about it sooner as we had a stressful start which I’ll write about soon enough but we’ve got to the 20 week point and things are looking good 🙂

All being well we’ll be having another little boy in June, a month after W turns 2 🙂

This pregnancy has been so different so far, stressful start aside, I’m not keeping track of the size/developments each week and only taken one bump photo!
Also I had morning sickness this time around which I’d not had before (so assumed it might be a girl, wrong!!)

First time around I was so scared of labour and how I’d deal/bond with my baby. This time around my fears are much more logistical… How will we cope with 2?! How can we survive on less sleep?!!

Of course we’re super-excited and even little W kisses my belly and says ‘baby’ so we think he’s a little bit excited too 🙂

 

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My maternity photo shoot (a year ago!)

This time last year I was heavily pregnant and had a maternity photoshoot just a few days before I ended up giving birth! Apart from the tiredness and achiness, I LOVED being pregnant, and loved how I looked so I wanted to celebrate this with getting some decent photos 🙂

I chose the photographer, Leah Roberts, via a friend’s recommendation – I’d seen the amazing newborn shoot she’d done for them (she did our wonderful newborn pics too)

I arranged to meet her for the shoot in Ynysangharad park in Pontypridd and I showed her some of the bump photos I liked via Pinterest, as you can see I prefer ones that show off the bump more than the mum’s face etc…

So, here’s some of the beautiful photos I ended up with…. regular readers will know that I have one as the main image on my blog… here’s my faves….

Me and my bump
Me and my bump
Bump close-up!
Bump close-up!
Me and my bump
Me and my bump
Bump photoshoot
Bump photoshoot
bump and I!
bump and I!

I literally got hundreds of photos from the shoot, plus black and white versions of all of them – but I didn’t want to bombard you, and like I said – these are my faves! They bring back very happy memories and emotions from a year ago – while I loved being pregnant, I was very nervous about giving birth and becoming a mum!

What do you think? Did you have a bump photoshoot? Share your links if you did, I’d love to see them 🙂 Or maybe you disagree with the whole concept?!

REVIEW: Clarins Mum-to-be spa treatment

When I left work to start maternity leave, one of the lovely gifts I was given by my colleagues was a ‘mum-to-be treatment’ at  Clarins in Debenhams, Cardiff. It’s a busy place (and I had to change my appointment a couple of times) so I only had this last week – obviously I’m not a mum-to-be anymore but they said it would still be good for new mums… and wasn’t it just!

The Consultation

I arrived early and met my therapist Jenna, she went through a good consultation e.g. where I needed focus (e.g. lower back pain instead of water retention which is no longer an issue), how I like my massages (firm!) and what skin-type I have (it’s been a bit claggy since having baby W – I think it’s all the breastfeeding hormones!). We seemed to build a rapport early on, and I think she’d put anyone at ease – she was lovely!

Lovely gift - Clarins mother-to-be treatment
Lovely gift – Clarins mother-to-be treatment

The Treatment

The treatment started with a back massage – despite me saying that my lower back needed the most attention, she found lots of knots in my upper back and tried her best to get them out (I think I need a few more sessions!!).

Then on to the longest part of the treatment – a facial – including cleanse, scrub etc and then ending with a face mask. She tried to use products that I didn’t already have, but even the ones I do have always feels better when they’re applied with a bit of care by someone else!

While the mask was on, she gave me an arm, hand, leg and foot massage which was lovely and if I had have been heavily pregnant the leg rub would have gone down a treat!

The Result

I felt relaxed and glowing afterwards, and I could feel and smell those lovely products on me all day (glad I had it done in the morning!). I’d highly recommend this place – it’s a little oasis in the city centre, and I’d defo see Jenna again.

The treatment costs £49 and says it lasts 1hr 15mins. In total (with the pre- and post- consultation) I was in there for nearly 2 hours which is great value for money! Jenna went through the products and special offers with me but it never felt like a hard sell, she gave me the list to take away.

Clarins vs Decleor mother-to-be treatments  

You might recall that I had a Decleor mum-to-be treatment in Center Parcs – both are similarly priced, both feature a facial and massage with their range of top end products, both were great in terms of the therapists and rooms….. but Decleor’s treatment included a mask for your bump which was a really cute touch and felt lovely! Clarins, take note 🙂

Either way, a lovely treat for a mum-to-be or new mum. Did you have any spa treatments when you were pregnant or as a new mum?

Small print: I wasn’t asked to review or write this, I just wanted to share my experience with you!

13 tips for mums-to-be: things that I wish I’d been told!

Your whole pregnancy and early days of motherhood are filled with tips and advice that other parents give you, most are really useful (e.g. buy lots of muslin squares) but not all are true (e.g. ‘sleep when baby sleeps’ isn’t helpful when your baby sleeps best while you’re walking him up a big hill or driving down the M4!)

Anyway this got me thinking about things I WASN’T told but wish I had been!

  1. Get fit – as soon as you find out you’re pregnant (ideally before, if you’re planning!) get as fit as you can – in the third trimester I had some real achy days where I ached from head to toe, and by then it was too late to do anything apart from pregnancy yoga – I should have done lots of swimming…. Being fit will also prepare you for labour which is the biggest workout of your life!
  2. Bump photos/Cinemama –  I used an app called CineMama which joined all my bump photos into a little video – a nice little momento of your pregnancy journey 🙂 (I wish I had taken more/better photos – I was always in my PJ’s lol!)
  3. Join a community – ok so this is a tip I was given (but only by one person so it doesn’t count!) which was to join a Facebook group called ‘Due in May 2014’ which I did and it ended up being a great resource where you could ask stupid questions that you might not want to ask friends/family etc. And actually even more than, you could see questions that other members were asking that you hadn’t even thought of! By now it feels like a proper little community and I would recommend you find something similar whether it be Facebook, forums or *gasp* a real-life group!
  4. Everyone tells you to stock up on nappies and fill your freezer etc but I think you should also stock up on everything from loo roll, toothpaste, cat food to shower gel – your ‘nesting’ time is a perfect time to do this and fill up all your cupboards so that in the first few weeks you only need to worry about getting fresh food in – the more prep you can do in those last few weeks of pregnancy, the easier the first few weeks of parenthood will be!
  5. Leave tags on stuff/keep packaging – during that nesting period you will have the urge to make your nursery as beautiful as possible even though the little munchkin won’t be in there for another few months…. in doing so, I took some bedding, blankets out of its packaging but I’ve since realised we won’t need it as we were given so many so I could have taken them back. Ditto clothes – I would never exchange any gifts, but I could have exchanged stuff I’d bought that we wouldn’t end up needing….
  6. Get your screwdriver kit handy – for some reason, everything from our play gym to our sleep aid needs a screwdriver to change the batteries which reminds me…..
  7. Buy a range of batteries when you’re doing #4! AA, AAA, C, D… the list of battery types in baby equipment is endless!
  8. Get a copy of your yellow folder – when you’re pregnant, you get given a folder to take to every appointment. This becomes a record of your bump and scan measurements, and details of your labour…. when you’re signed off by the midwife about 10 days post-labour, she will take this folder with her and I so wish I had taken a copy before she had… so many memories!
  9. Breastfeeding is messy and smelly – you will get it all over your clothes and bedding! I was given all sorts of breastfeeding hints before baby arrived but nobody told me about the mess, or leakage… or random spraying! (Still well worth it mind!)
  10. The nights will be surreal – In those early few weeks I used to wake so often thinking that baby W was still on me, and said to my other half on a few occasions ‘can you take him off me?’ even though he was sound asleep in his basket! The sleepless nights are tough, but you’ll cope and get used to it!
  11. Poo comes out in the rain – despite having an expensive washing machine, the best thing I’ve found to get poo out of muslins and clothes is to leave them out in the rain- I think it’s the combination of UV light and volume of water that does it!
  12. Don’t buy too many shoes until baby has arrived – my shoe size has gone up one and when I mentioned this on Facebook and Twitter, turns out it’s quite common for your shoe size to go up or for your feet to get wider while/after you have a baby! (Wonder if it’s because you’ll be carrying a heavy load?!)
  13. Your beautiful baby might be spotty, have gammy eyes and have skin falling off – this is all normal during the first few weeks and will all clear up 🙂

Mums – have you got any tips/things that you learnt the hard way to add to this list?!

Mums' Days

Bye bye maternity clothes – a journey through my maternity wardrobe

My maternity wardrobe and things I learnt about maternity clothes along the way…

8 weeks post-labour and I can fit into (most of) my pre-pregnancy clothes so it’s with mixed emotions that I pack away my maternity clothes.

Initially I was hoping not to buy ANY maternity clothes as I just planned to buy everything a size bigger than normal, that I’d be able to wear post-labour too… (thought maternity clothes were a waste of money)

Then a friend lent me a big bag of maternity clothes and I learnt my first lessons:

  • how comfy maternity jeans are
  • how flattering maternity tops/dresses can be around your bump (as opposed to just buying bigger sizes in non-maternity)

That was around January (5 months pregnant) and in Feb we booked a late deal to Tenerife. Panic ensued as:
-I didn’t fit into any of my shorts or summer dresses!
-Shops were only just starting to sell summer-wear eek!

So my first experience of buying maternity wear was a few holiday items….

Maternity holiday clothes - Tankini and Denim shorts from JoJo MamanLeBebe
Maternity holiday clothes – Tankini and Denim shorts from JoJo MamanLeBebe
Maternity bikini bottoms vs pre-maternity!
Maternity bikini bottoms vs pre-maternity!

 

Tankini from JoJo Maman LeBeBe on babymoon in Tenerife!Tankini from JoJo Maman LeBeBe on babymoon in Tenerife!
Tankini from JoJo Maman LeBeBe on babymoon in Tenerife!Tankini from JoJo Maman LeBeBe on babymoon in Tenerife!

While I was shopping for these, I decided to bite the bullet and get some maternity items and here’s some of my faves…

My maternity essentials - jeans from H&M
My maternity essentials – jeans from H and M

It’s lucky I bought the jeans as when I left for Tenerife I was still in my ‘normal’ jeans, but by the time I left (helped by all-inclusive food!) I couldn’t get into them! I wore these for about 95% of the rest of my pregnancy days (my workplace has a casual dress code)… love them!

My fave maternity tops - (L) New Look, (R) Red Herring at Debenhams
My fave maternity tops – (L) New Look, (R) Red Herring at Debenhams
canal-side Bean at 38+1 weeks
Bean wearing Red Herring butterfly top, canal side!

These were my staple tops to go with the jeans, both very flattering, comfy and functional and to mix it up I could accessorise with different scarves etc.. the one below I loved as well, I’m a fan of Hello Kitty and loads of people thought I’d bought a Hello kitty top! I also bought some basic vests from H&M which I could wear with various non-maternity cardies.

Cat print maternity top from Red Herring @ Debenhams
Cat print maternity top from Red Herring @ Debenhams
Red Herring maternity top - fabric close-up
Red Herring maternity top – fabric close-up

I loved these prints at Red Herring – as well as the butterfly print top, I got the dress in the same print – the fabric on the dress was much thicker, so very good quality – would last a long time and wish I had worn it a few more times now….

Red Herring (Debenhams) butterfly print maternity dress
Red Herring (Debenhams) butterfly print maternity dress
butterfly dress from Red Herring
butterfly dress from Red Herring

Those items are the only new items I bought (I did buy a few non-maternity items in larger sizes too)… total cost of those items was probably about £150 but then did get slightly addicted to eBay as I was too tight to buy any more new items! I spent about £60 on the following items…

Here’s some of my fave eBay items:

Fave eBay purchases (L) Mothercare jumper (R) T-shirt from New Look
Fave eBay purchases (L) Mothercare jumper (R) T-shirt from New Look

This summer dress was a perfect beach/cover-up dress for our babymoon – very comfy! I had packed it in my hospital bag as a comfy coming home outfit but wore my pj bottoms in the end!

Summer maternity dress from Mammas and Papas via eBay
Summer maternity dress from Mammas and Papas via eBay

This Dorothy Perkins dress was fine for work… I loved the fabric (you can’t see it in this bad photo sorry!) but always had to wear a cardie over it as I didn’t like the puffy shoulders. The Red Herring dress was a fave, perfect for our holiday and I wish I’d worn it more post-holiday 😦

Maternity dresses from eBay - L (Dorothy Perkins) - R (Red Herring at Debenhams)
Maternity dresses from eBay – L (Dorothy Perkins) – R (Red Herring at Debenhams)
I LOVE the fabric and sequin detail on the Red Herring dress
I LOVE the fabric and sequin detail on the Red Herring dress

This T-shirt is another fave – I ended up wearing it throughout my labour! Excellent quality, love the print and the cut was not too tight.

Maternity t-shirt from ebay (Next)
Maternity t-shirt from ebay (Next)

And some poor decisions – dresses I didn’t wear as the weather wasn’t as nice as hoped by May!

Maternity dresses from eBay I didn't wear: (L) Asos (R) Mothercare
Maternity dresses from eBay I didn’t wear: (L) Asos (R) Mothercare

The cape- style coat looked awful on me and this was one lesson I learnt about maternity clothes:
Things that don’t suit you pre-maternity probably won’t suit you during maternity!

New Look maternity cape coat - lovely and great quality but would never suit me!
New Look maternity cape coat – lovely and great quality but would never suit me!

Other thoughts I had:

  • Why don’t retailers sell jeans in different length sizes? Do we suddenly all become the same height when pregnant? (No, I had to pay to get those H&M jeans taken up!!)
  • On all those dresses above, I found the bottom half unflattering, they all allowed plenty of room for my expanding bum but in doing so made it look bigger than it was! (Whereas the jeans were v flattering which is probably why I lived in them!)
  • I know I didn’t buy a large amount and there’s lots more available (at a price perhaps) but I did find the choices quite limited and boring… Lots of stripes, lots of plain stuff, not enough quirky/cool prints (more of those butterfly fabrics for example)… when some of the shops like New Look tried to use nice prints, I felt that the fabrics felt a bit cheap (you can’t win!). As you can see from above -I think Red Herring do this well, so more from them would be great!

So there we have it, end of an era, it’s all going up to the loft… Apart from those jeans ( still SO comfy!!) and my special purchase… The t-shirt I ended up wearing for labour… Has too many memories to go into the loft and still looks ok as a loose t-shirt!

How did you find maternity clothes? How much did you spend? What were your favourite maternity shops?!

My birth story

Here we go… grab a cuppa as this is likely to be a long one… It’s taken me nearly 7 weeks to write 😉

If you were following my pregnancy updates, you’ll know:
– I was suffering from high blood pressure
– I was hoping for as natural a birth as possible

Routine high blood pressure check

So at 39+6 (may 1st 2014) I went for a regular BP check and consultant appointment at the hospital (3pm). My other half was with me, and unusually we’d gone in 1 car rather than meeting there in separate cars…. handy because… my blood pressure was ‘through the roof’ (I think it was about 180/110)…..
Suddenly from a routine check, we were in a small, hot room with about 5 staff telling me I needed to get my BP down… funnily enough, that had the opposite effect so after a quick chat with the doctor (which randomly included her checking my reflexes!) I was put in a wheelchair (more randomness as I was still feeling absolutely fine!!) and wheeled up to a delivery suite in the consultant-led unit!

Induction #1

Despite me telling my OH over the last few weeks that I wouldn’t let them keep me in, and I didn’t want to get induced as it was unnatural… when I was hooked up and was being told by a consultant and midwife that they wanted to induce me because of the risks to my health if I went home (fit/stroke if it turned into pre-eclampsia) I really felt like I couldn’t say no and that this was the best result all round.

I remember saying to her that I’d never get through labour if I couldn’t handle the pain of the sweep, but she explained that my cervix was still tucked up well out of reach and wasn’t quite soft yet hence the uncomfortable feeling (which passed immediately after).  (I’d also been given Lobetemol tablets to reduce my blood pressure)

 

Lol @ 'vaginal delivery system'!
Lol @ ‘vaginal delivery system’!

That was about 7pm and while she was doing that, dear OH was getting me my bags from home and a McDonald’s for dinner 🙂

Waiting….

Then we had to wait….. my OH went home about 9-10pm and at 11pm I was moved to a ward which they call the ‘induction ward’… nothing was happening so I was hoping for sleep…

Alas, they were waking me up to check my BP every few hours… and I was surprised to hear other women being induced, and then going into labour. There were only a couple of women on the ward but with just curtains between us you could hear everything including the loud, chavvy couple who turned up about midnight and shouted updates out of the window at their family below before going into labour about 3 and moving upstairs at 4….

More waiting…

So Friday morning (due date) nothing had happened and I knew I had to wait til 7pm before they’d induce me again. I sent my OH to work but we had a walk around the hospital before and after work. In the meantime I’d discovered the hospital had free WIFI so I downloaded the Great Gatsby and watched that, downloaded loads of music for labour (didn’t end up listening to any of it!) read some magazines, ate the (surprisingly ok) hospital food and just chilled.

Hospital food!
Hospital food!

Considering the panic when they admitted me the day before, they left me to my own devices on this day and only checked my blood pressure a couple of times!

So far this was all quite surreal – I’d gotten a bit emotional before getting induced as it was all just such a shock and everything had happened so quickly. Despite the bad night’s sleep I was starting to think it was a good idea they’d brought me in as just being in hospital and hearing other women go into labour was at least preparing me for my labour and I guess ‘normalising’ the hospital experience for me (I’d never been in hospital before!)

Induction #2

Friday 7pm, lovely Rachel informed me that she couldn’t induce me again yet as the delivery suites were all busy so we’d have to wait a few hours… She took my pessary out, gave me another sweep and said my cervix had softened slightly but still wasn’t dilated…

So more waiting… can’t even remember much about that evening but again, didn’t get much (any?) sleep and at 2am Rachel woke me to monitor my blood pressure and contractions and then induced me again at 3am (this time was a gel as opposed to a pessary, which can then be given every 6 hours) – by this point I was 1cm dilated and had started losing a bit of my plug.

Heartbeat and Contractions
Heartbeat and Contractions

Here we go……

At 6am, things started happening… I started getting cramps, I had some diarrhoea and as I was on the floor hugging a birth ball, I threw up… my body was getting ready. I called my OH and he arrived in time for me to get an anti- sickness jab about 7am and saw (smelled!) my waters break about 8am. (I was on the bed, I heard a loud pop and then felt a huge gush… very strange feeling!)

From what I remember the next couple of hours were among the toughest – due to being monitored I had to stay on the bed, despite me always having wanted to walk around in the early labour stages. My contractions were getting stronger, but I had to wait to be seen by a doctor… when they’d finally done their rounds and came to see me the paper in the monitoring machine had run out so they had to refill it and wait for longer… aarghhgh!

I think I’d just started on the gas and air when they came back in, checked my monitored results, checked me over and by now I was 3-4cm dilated so they were happy to send me up to delivery. This was about 10am.

TENS, Gas and air

In the delivery suite, we met and clicked straight away with our lovely midwife Laura. The 3 of us seemed to work well as a team, my OH was fantastic – he was in charge of holding the gas and air, and giving me water, rubbing my back etc.

I forgot to say, we’d put a TENS machine on my back a few hours prior – we didn’t really use it properly as after a while I stopped pressing the ‘boost’ button but we left it on during the entire labour on a low setting – it was a strange sensation but I’m pretty sure it took away the lower back pain that I’d started getting when my contractions had started.

At this point I have to tell you I thought gas and air was AMAZING – I never expected it to be so effective but I loved it and loved the slightly woozy/high feeling I got 🙂

If we timed inhaling it right, I could get through a contraction without feeling any pain. If we mis-timed it then I felt it but it wasn’t too bad (I say that now!!). The only issue I had with it, is that in all my yoga classes we’d been practising long breaths out, but using gas and air I was told to take a long breath in and a short breath out, so I did get a bit confused on occasion!

Not long to go…

By 11-11.30am I was 7-8cm dilated (so things had progressed very well and quickly all morning!)…..I asked if I needed any stronger pain relief but the midwife was confident I’d get through it on gas and air as I’d gotten this far. I vaguely remember that every contraction I was getting the urge to push and she kept telling me to hold it back…

By 12/12.30 I was fully dilated and ready to push 🙂

Cue me panicking after holding in the urge for so long… ‘I don’t know how to push!!’

And despite my preparation into calm, natural labour – from somewhere I got this instinct to be pushing as hard as I could (including having my OH in a headlock!) and as loudly as I could (I vaguely remember sounding like a very loud, primal animal!) .

Again, similarly to the induction ward, in the delivery suite I’d been on my back on the bed for the most part hooked up to the machine. (At some point as baby got lower down- I the baby’s head was hooked up with a monitor to mor accurately keep an eye on their heartrate. During this pushing stage she was happy to take me off the monitor, and ecncouraged me to try some different positions. Despite me practising these in yoga, and telling my OH that I didn’t want to give birth lying down, it’s funny how you get hit by a confidence crisis – and as I’d been lying down for so long it felt like the right place to be!

Here he is!

Luckily he got me to stand up so we did some pushing with me leaning on the bed (and him) I’d been pushing for about 40-45 minutes when she told us that the head was about to come out and it might sting a bit… 3more pushes and he was out… our beautiful baby boy was born at 1.35pm – what a wonderful, life-changing feeling! We didn’t know if we were having a girl or boy but had guessed it was a girl all the way through so it was a real surprise that it was a boy 🙂

He was perfect – healthy and gorgeous! (Weighing 7lb 2oz) Me on the other hand….

Epidural and 3rd degree tears

Laura gave me the jab and delivered the placenta while baby was on my chest. I remember seeing the placenta (yuck!) but I don’t remember delivering it – my OH tells me I was in lots of pain. Once the placenta was out, Laura tells me I’ve torn and goes to get a doctor  for a second opinion…

Turns out I had 3rd degree tears – ouch! Again, I don’t really remember the pain and it’s funny that very early on in my pregnancy, tearing was one of my fears but the reality didn’t seem that bad (oh thank you gas and air!)

I had also lost a lot of blood (not sure how much – my records weren’t updated properly) so was starting to feel faint/tired on top of the woozy feeling. To stitch me up they needed to take me into theatre and give me an epidural.

I couldn’t believe the irony! I got through labour just on gas and air, but was now going to be given an epidural!!! Again, going into theatre was another fear… I was in there for an hour and half in total (it takes a while to make sure the epidural has worked) and I must say I had an excellent team in there – they made me feel so at ease, and we were joking around and chatting (I guess they do this to make sure I stay alert etc but for me it was relaxing!)

Finally, I’m stitched up and on a recovery ward where daddy and a hungry baby were waiting for me. On top of worrying about me, daddy had to put a nappy on and clothe our baby while I was in theatre 9he had to run to the car first as the post-labour bag was in there!), and vacate the room with all of our bags… also as baby was hungry he’d been suckling on daddy’s finger, nose and neck, bless!

 

image

Finally we were a family, and over the next few hours both sets of grandparents came to visit. I had to stay in overnight, with baby next to me, in a shared ward (so cue 3rd night on no sleep with babies crying!!) – again, a special time just me and him and me feeding and holding him.

I had a catheter in and also had the pleasure of getting cleaned by nurses (by this point I have NO dignity left!) and didn’t get out of bed until the next morning by which point I was desperate to come home – after packing all those toiletries I didn’t use any of them as I just wanted a shower at home! We had to wait a while to be discharged – originally they wanted me to have a ‘bowel movement’ first but I think they wanted the bed just as bad so after handing me a huge bag of medicines, we came home about 3pm – just over 24 hours after giving birth 🙂

Post-labour diet
Post-labour diet

This story is so long it needs a summary!:

  • Everyone tells you this and it’s true – there’s no point having a very prescribed birth plan as anything can happen and you just have to go with the flow!
  • I felt some disappointment at having to use gas and air (who was I kidding that I could just breathe my way through it!) and tearing (did I not push right? Did I not do enough pelvic floors?) even though we think he came out with his hand next to his face so it couldn’t be avoided – anyway, we can’t feel any disappointment – labour isn’t a competition against yourself – once baby is out, safe and sound, forget about the how’s and why’s and just focus on your beautiful little bundle of joy 🙂
  • I think trying to stay calm and stay positive helped me get through labour – I recommend NCT pregnancy yoga for this!
  • Us mums-to-be getting our hospital bags prepared – I guarantee you that you won’t use half of the stuff in there and you will think of stuff you didn’t pack! My essential items were drinking straws (I drank a lot of water all the way through labour), hair bands, face mists and a hanky with lavender oil on which I sniffed regularly during labour.
  • A huge thank you to all the staff at UHW, Cardiff – I feel like I had excellent care and having gone through induction, gas and air and an epidural I feel like I will be ready for anything if I have another baby!
  • An even bigger thank you to my other half – he was the dream birth partner, soothing and motivating me, supporting me and being practical by holding the gas and air, giving me water etc! Thank you and I love you so much x x x

If you’re still reading this, wow! Thanks for reading, if you’d like to read more birth stories check out this round-up of blogger birth stories that I compiled.