There are many things about parenting that you can’t possibly understand before the baby arrives. For instance, the hours you spent choosing exactly the right travel system should’ve been spent choosing a really good sling. Also, that nursing bras are a bit grim. However pretty they are these days, they will never be as nice as your underwired, low cut, pre pregnancy bras.

The only one I own that I won’t be burning when all this breastfeeding lark is over is my Bravado Body Silk Bra. When I read a blog review that has nothing bad to say about a product I always find myself raising an eyebrow, so in the spirit of full disclosure I should tell you that although Bravado provided me with a bra, free of charge, to review, I already owned the same style, bought by my own pennies and it is one of my maternity and breastfeeding essentials.

The Bravado Body Silk Nursing Bra is a perfect nursing bra for nighttime or even just a lazy comfy day at home. One of the things I hated about breastfeeding was having to wear a bra at night and the times I did skip it, in the early days at least, I was punished with leaky boobs and rather damp pyjamas. Once I bought this bra though I really didn’t mind.

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It is so comfortable to wear that I have used it even when not pregnant or breastfeeding and it was perfect for doing my evening pregnancy yoga practice. I’ll admit, It’s not going to give you the kind of support you need for jogging, but for nighttime wear it is perfect. It has a wide, soft and stretchy band for around the body, which fits snugly, but doesn’t cut into you, like some. The material used for the cups is soft and seamless and it comes with removable inserts to pad the bra, should you wish to.

The other thing you don’t realise varies from bra to bra before you start feeding is how easy the bra cup is to unclip. When you have a wiggly hungry baby to feed, particularly at 2am when you are half asleep, you need a bra that is going to unclip easily and with one hand. You would think that would be given, but i can assure you I have bras that need two hands to unhook. Useless. Not this one though. The clips open when needed and stay closed when they should.

The updated version is now available in a much wider range of colours and the hot pink I was sent isn’t usually what I’d pick up, but I love that it goes with my new post pregnancy pyjamas. I can chuck it in a colours wash without it turning grey.

The new version also comes with an adaptor, so that when the breastfeeding days are over it can be just a normal bra, with no clip on the cup. Normally I’d wonder why you’d want to keep a nursing bra, but seeing as this is the only nursing bra I own that didn’t get packed away after each pregnancy I think the chances of me continuing to wear it are extremely high.

It’s such a relief, at the end of each day to remove my grim, nursing bra and replace it with this one. Thank you Bravado.

I have had two incident free hospital births, nothing to complain about, all very special and lovely, with excellent care givers, however, now I have been able to have the home birth that I’d wanted since before Nano was born, I can see why people rave about them. Frankly I could and probably will bore on about it for ever.

After a false start on Thursday 27th February, where I even packed the children off to my Dad’s and had a midwife visit to check out my mild, regular contractions, I spent Friday with my Dad and Stepmum relaxing and I was sure nothing was happening. Even though I was three days overdue, I was convinced that the baby was staying put until well into the following week.

Friday evening I started feeling what I thought were Braxton hicks pains and I had a show. Still, I knew that it could be days before anything happened, so I toddled off to bed thinking that if things really were serious, I’d soon not be able to sleep. I woke at 11:15 and knew things were real this time. I timed the now more painful contractions for 30 minutes and phoned the midwives.

By the time they arrived an hour later we were already feeling the benefits of being at home. Mckdaddy had showered, emptied the dishwasher and made an espresso. I’d tidied the lounge a bit and got some music on. There was no rushing to get out of the house or move the children to my Dad’s. I had thought I would want them out of the house as soon as possible, but I was more than happy to leave them sleeping and see how things progressed. In fact, it felt like a comfort to have them tucked up in their beds.

Things pootled along for an hour or so. The midwives and their student retreated to another room to give me some space. They were so hands off, it was brilliant. No examinations to tell how dilated I was, no instructions, just encouraging me to do what my body told me and the occasional check of the baby’s heartbeat. Mckdaddy and I went for a walk to move things along and it felt so strange to be walking down our street in the early hours of the morning, waiting for our baby to arrive, so peaceful and low key. It was then that I finally believed it really was happening and was happening at home and felt quite excited, something I had never felt before.

Contractions started getting more serious when we got back, but again the midwives quietly left me to it, while at the same time preparing the room for a baby. They simply took their cues from how I behaved and the noises I made. We realised I hadn’t packed a hat for the baby and so Mckdaddy had to go to Nano’s room to get one, he also lifted Mini Mck for his usual nighttime wee. I was concerned they’d wake, but still surprisingly happy for them to stay put for the time being.

By this stage contractions were coming quickly and strongly. I felt able to recover between each one, but was losing my breathe during them and leaning into Mckdaddy, who was trying to remind me to breathe. I was still managing with just my tens machine, albeit on boost all the time now. Baby clothes were being put on the radiator and I could hear one of the midwives telling the student what she’d need to do when the baby arrived. I remember feeling that it was far too soon for such preparations.

I was wrong. Suddenly everything moved very quickly, too quickly for me to gather myself and I felt overwhelmed. I couldn’t focus and any visualisation and relaxation techniques I had been using disappeared. I had been determined not to crumble at the end, but I was saying I couldn’t do it and the anticipation of the pain ahead made me panicky. The midwife assured me afterwards that most women say similar.

I’m not sure what happened first, me saying I needed to push, the urge to push or my waters finally breaking. All three seemed to happen with one immense contraction. However, after that I knew I needed to push and on the next contraction, accompanied by a low, guttural animal like noise from me, the head was born. I was kneeling and bent forward on the sofa. I could feel the head resting on my leg, still, warm and heavy. I’ll be honest, it was a fairly unpleasant sensation and freaked me out a little. Everything seemed to stop and I complained I just wanted it to be over. The midwife assured me that on the next contraction it would be and I only needed to wait a few moments. I could hear them urgently telling the student to get her gloves on and with little pain I pushed my baby out on the next contraction. She came out quite blue, perfectly normal for such a quick delivery, the second stage of labour had taken no more than five minutes. Time had taken on a strange rhythm for me. We had gone out for a walk at around 2am and I would have guessed that no more than an hour had passed, however she was born at 4:23am. I asked what sex the baby was and they told me to look for myself, rather than being told. I looked down and saw we had a girl, although I did wonder if I was imagining it and had to ask if I was right.

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The placenta delivered immediately after, so the cord was cut. I felt weak and shaky, in shock perhaps and so, even though they had passed her to me as quickly as possible, I couldn’t hold her and asked Mckdaddy to take her. A home delivery meant he was so much more and in control and he said holding her so early, ending up with blood on his top, was fantastic.

I settled myself on the sofa and after the very painful examination, my daughter was passed to me and put skin to skin. The euphoria already wiping away the pain of labour. The midwives cleared everything away and took themselves off to another room. It wasn’t long before she began to sniffle for milk and I latched her on for her first feed, in my own living room. Mckdaddy made me a cup of proper tea, in my own cup and I just gazed in wonder. Even though I was 4 days over my due date, I was still amazed that she was here and even more amazed that she was a she.

Around 90 minutes old

Around 90 minutes old

At around 5:30 I heard Mini Mck moving around, he came downstairs and one of the midwives bought him in. He didn’t ask why there were 3 strangers in the house or what Mummy was doing on the sofa. He simply said “I need a poo and the stool isn’t there for me to reach the light.” By this point Mckdaddy was holding Lady Mck wrapped in a towel and I pointed her out to MM. He coo’ed and stroked her head for a minute and then said “I still need a poo.” By 6am both boys were downstairs. playing with the toys the ‘baby’ had given them and being generally noisy and excited. I hadn’t even had a shower yet. Real life was simply carrying on around me. It was both surreal and wonderful.

I made a couple of phone calls and because it was 7:30 on a Saturday morning my Dad thought I was phoning to ask him to look after the children because I was in labour. It was fabulous to be able to tell him I had already had a baby and that she was here safe and sound.

Once the midwives had left, Lady Mck and I moved upstairs. She had been weighed and dressed. I had showered and changed. We got in bed and stayed there for the rest of the day. Mckdaddy took the boys out for breakfast and later went out to get a haircut, while my Dad and Stepmum took MM and Nano out for the day. It seemed so normal and yet so momentous.

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36 hours and feeding like a pro

36 hours and feeding like a pro

We stayed in our peaceful, restful cocoon for days, Lady Mck and I not straying far from the bed for long. No waiting to leave hospital or dealing with car seats and traffic and parking charges.

There was something just a little bit special about being at home and I am so thankful that this time it all worked out as planned, in fact apart from the fact we had virtually no sleep for 36 hours, it was better than planned. Children sleeping soundly and all done in one night. I’m not sure it could get much better than that.

This time last week I was feeling a few mild tightenings in my swollen belly and listening to my natal hypnotherapy download for the last time. A few hours later, to my continuing surprise, our daughter was born. Eve Kathleen, or Lady Mck as she will be known here, arrived at home, weighing 7lb 2oz, healthy and happily.

There will be posts to come about my first home birth and how we are adjusting to being a family of five, but for now, we are all, all four of us, completely in love and I am discovering that I actually quite like baby girl’s clothes, even when they do have a bit of pink on them….

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I am so grateful to have received  MADS award nominations, especially in categories that had never even crossed my mind, such as Blog of the Year and Blog Writer of the Year. The fact that one person, at least, comes here for the writing is just the most lovely compliment. Thank you to anyone who has thought of me and if you haven’t voted yet and feel you could include me then please click on the badge over to the right. It has also made me feel that I am slacking on the blogging front and that I owe you a post, so the kick in the pants in most welcome too. Thank you again.

I am a contrary creature, always have been. My parents often tell that the way to get me to do something was to ask me to do the opposite “You don’t need a coat, do you Emily?” “You don’t need a wee before we leave the house, do you?”. It seems I am no different nearly forty years later.

I have passed my due date and I feel healthier and happier than I have for almost the whole pregnancy. It helps that I am not ill for the first time in weeks and most of the annoying pregnancy side effects have eased a bit.  A sense of calm has descended on me, just as everyone is commenting on how fed up I must be feeling and how I must just want baby to hurry up and be born. I shrug and tell them it will come when it comes.

Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t had a change of personality, I often do the shrugging through gritted teeth, as frankly I’d rather not dwell on when it is arriving, or answer questions about whether anything is happening, or if I have felt the baby drop…….blah blah blah. Remaining in a Zen like state takes a bit of work, as I wrote last time we were in this position. What I want is to be distracted, not do much and hibernate a bit. It seems that it is everyone else who is fixated on when the baby will appear and I am just quietly waiting, telling myself that due dates are estimated and don’t mean much at all.

Of course I have days when I am very tired and achey and nothing gets done and even on good days like today, when I have surprising energy to begin with and the sun is shining, by the time Mckdaddy gets home and we tackle bedtime, I am weary and longing for a warm bath and bed.

Maybe all of this calm just means I am ready. I have scrubbed enough skirting boards, folded enough baby clothes and made enough lists and that I am ready for what is to come, whenever that may be.

Now seems a good time to thank all of you who either comment here or chat with me on twitter for all your fantastic support while I’ve been pregnant. I’ve made no secret of the fact that I am not a glowing pregnant type and this space has been invaluable over the past year, while we tried, failed and then succeeded. The online world gives us an opportunity to say things we wouldn’t always feel we could say in our real lives and there is always someone to say that they get it. The fact that most of you find a way to say that with wit, humour and kindness makes it all the more precious. Thank you.

Hopefully next time I post it will be with baby news, or at least a completed baby blanket! Either way I will have something new to show you.

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I can’t seem to write. This is the third post I have started this week, the other two are too hideous to edit and will probably sit forever in my drafts folder, I don’t tend to ‘do’ drafts that never get published. It’s all very weird.

I want to record this time, this strange limbo time, when the baby could come tomorrow or could be another 3 or more weeks. So much seems to have been happening and yet nothing has happened at all. So much to process in my head and so much to do and yet suddenly as soon as I sit in front of a screen, all the lucid thoughts and words fall out of my head and not via the ends of my fingers either.

Perhaps it is a reflection of this strange, nothing-y waiting time. Life is carrying on as normal, but slightly not normal. A stasis like bubble surrounds me, as much as I try to swat it away, it returns. Nothing to do but wait and yet so much seems to need doing, so many things being added to the ‘Before the baby comes’ list.

At 36 weeks ago, I went for an extra scan. There was some question mark over the baby’s growth and more worryingly for me, at least, whether it was breech. Ironically, this scan was arranged at the Midwife’s home visit to discuss preparations for my requested home birth. I had done virtually nothing to prepare for the arrival of an actual baby, either to be born at home or in a hospital. There is nothing quite like the prospect of a c-section to push you into action and so for a few days I found myself frantically collecting home birth supplies, such as dust sheets (yes, really!)  and old linen and towels, whilst at the same time stocking the freezer and cupboards in case I was unable to drive for weeks after the birth.

Thankfully, I just have a baby with a boney, head like bottom and it is head down and ready to go. I decided that preparing for a possible c-section could only help those early newborn days, even if I didn’t have one and have been amazed at how much I have now achieved in a small space of time. My freezer is full to bursting, baby clothes have been washed, dried, folded and put into drawers, car seats covers have been washed and all put in the car to see what fits where and my labour bag is packed.

I have taken to calling it a labour bag as opposed to a hospital bag in an attempt to be positive about actually managing to have a home birth. It contains all the things we will need for labour and afterwards for the baby. I just hope I get to use it at home and not have to take it to the hospital.

In addition to this I have found that suddenly the car has to be cleaned and the skirting boards needs to be washed. The craft cupboard absolutely cannot be left any longer and needs sorting. My theory about nesting is that is just a long succession of distraction techniques, because while I busy myself doing all of these things and satisfyingly crossing things off my list, I am really spending a lot of time thinking about giving birth, wondering when, how, how long it will take and how I will handle. Veering from thinking I will be calm and collected and then being convinced that I will fly into a ridiculous panic. Underlying all this, I suppose, is the thought that I just want it here, safe and well and so the sooner that can happen the better.

I said at the beginning that I was struggling to write and I still feel that way, hence no obvious end to this post. I guess that’s indicative too, as at the moment I have no endings, only waiting. Hopefully I shall soon be able to show you a completed, hooky project, something with a proper full stop……….

MAD Blog Awards

The MADS blog awards 2014 are open for nominations. I shall definitely be nominating some of my favourite blogs and would love you consider me in any category that you think appropriate. I know I’ve moaned a lot about being pregnant, but I like to think I’ve portrayed it’s ups and downs in an honest way, much as I will those baby days. Although, if you’re a new visitor, please read some other posts. Frankly this one is just the ramblings of a heavily pregnant woman with writer’s block. As much as it makes me cringe to ask for votes, I saw a tweet from Grace Dent asking for votes in the Glamour Awards today. If she can do it, so can I. 

About six weeks ago at my Midwife appointment, I mentioned I was struggling with the emotional side of being pregnant. I had been prompted to do so by a few comments and tweets I had after one of my recent posts, so decided to be brave and speak up. The Midwife was very lovely and sympathetic and made all the right noises about how I am not the only one who feels this way, but the sum total of her actual practical help was that I could, if I wanted to, make an appointment with a GP, who would discuss the possibility of medication. So, really, no practical help at all. I am not keen to start medication while pregnant and at the time only had three months of being pregnant left, so the thought of spending that time trying to find the right medication didn’t appeal to me.

Understandably I felt pretty despondent, but mainly I felt very much alone. Very much that this was down to me to get through and no-one else could really help, which is kind of true. Obviously there are lovely lovely friends, family and a brilliant partner, who are on hand for a chat or a pregnancy related moan, but mostly there isn’t an awful lot they can say or do. I am pregnant, there is an end point and that’s about it really. Added to this is the fact that actually I don’t always want to be moaning about things, contrary to what you may think as a reader of this blog. I want my friends to distract me, to make me laugh, just to not bloody think about all the things that are swirling around my head.

That night, as I lay in the bath, mulling over the day and feeling isolated from everyone, something happened that made me think a little differently. The baby kicked. Something that happens often, sometimes I am too busy to notice, but this kick seemed so well timed. It reminded me that I am not really in this alone, in fact at the moment, I am never truly alone. My baby is always with me, growing, developing, moving around and it is my job to take care of myself as much as I can. No-one else in the world can do this job for this baby right now. I am not really alone anyway, but my baby really does only has me to rely on.

It occurred to me that I have given so little thought to the actual baby. I had been rushing around so much that there was no connection there, no mindfulness, just irritation. So, I vowed straight away that each day I would spend some time on my baby. Call it connecting, thinking, whatever you like, but each day I would take, sometimes only a few moments, to acknowledge it’s presence. It seems like such a stupid thing to say. How can I not acknowledge it? It’s there, an ever-growing, moving bump, but mostly I give it very little thought, it is just there.

It could be by practicing some anti-natal yoga, or a relaxation or my most recent idea, making a blanket for the baby. There is something very special about using my skills with a hook and yarn to create something that will one day wrap around an actual person. For me, making something for someone is an act of love and has become an important ritual for all my babies to have something made by me before they arrive. Some days, though, it may be as quick and simple as placing my hands on my bump as it kicks and really feeling each movement, closing my eyes and taking some deep breaths.

I still struggle and some days are full of worry and anxiety, but I certainly have more of a sense of what this is all for, what is to come and what that means for me. I think perhaps I am quite good at coping, when I know it is down to me to do so. I become quite resilient and discovering that the only help available was medication actually clarified things for me. For a few more weeks, at least, it’s just me and this baby doing this pregnancy thing and that’s just fine.

If there is one piece of advice I would dare give to a first time, expectant mother it would be to take some decent maternity leave before the baby comes, if you can. You will never, ever have that time to yourself again and I think it’s actually quite an important luxury to spend some time preparing yourself for a new baby.  Even if you have time off work with subsequent children and the older ones are in childcare, I am almost certain it will not be the same, with the early wake ups and nursery runs to contend with.

When I was expecting Nano, Mckdaddy took Mini Mck to a family party in the Midlands during a school holiday and I had one night and almost two days to view as my maternity leave. I can’t remember what I did exactly, I am sure it would have involved yarn, but I do remember it was pretty wonderful.

So, I floated the idea of a similar plan this time and Mckdaddy kind of ran with it, opting instead for a shorter drive to the coast and a couple of nights away with the children on a weekend so that I can have a ‘Mini Maternity Leave’ and so this weekend I shall have two days and two nights in my house, on my own.

Time alone, in my own house, is one of the things that I crave the most. I often feel that I just would like a break from my children and yet now it is here I am conflicted and nervous. Certainly, NOT dreading it, but I have a strange feeling in my stomach when I think of returning to a dark, empty house after waving them off.

A little of me would like to share it with them. A couple of days cosied up near the sea, with bracing, stone throwing walks on the beach, fish and chips, sampling the local crab and snuggling up with some films sounds just lovely, but I also know that this break is much needed and I am excited to have that time for myself. I have plans, lots of plans. There is a pile of sewing projects that I’ve been building up, lots of bonnety TV that is waiting to be watched and at least two crochet projects that I want to get on with. Oh, and the food will be delicious and all the things I like and rarely have. I’m thinking Moules Marinieres, steak and chips, croissants for breakfast and brilliant elevenses. Finally, there will be plenty of time for sleeping. For months I have been telling myself to get more sleep and go to bed earlier and have failed miserably. Suddenly that is not an issue and I happily rush to bed by 9:30 every night. Sleeping is all I want to do and cannot sit down for more than 10 minutes without feeling myself dropping off. It is quite ridiculous.

So, I have plenty to look forward to and to keep me busy, but it seems that motherhood is visceral. However much I logically know that a break will be great and they will hardly be gone for any time at all, I still feel a pull when I think of them going. That feeling in my stomach isn’t because I will be bored or that I desperately want to go with them, it is because my babies will not be near me, they will be out of my reach and that feels strange. I can’t quite imagine seeing them leave and knowing how to behave when I get back home. Their rooms will be empty. I will not be able to go and watch them sleeping or just hear Mini Mck snoring from outside his door. The house will be quiet and still. Such a luxury, but such an oddity.

I am fairly certain that once they have gone and I am in the swing of my ‘maternity leave’ I will love it, the time will fly and next week I will crave some peace again, but until I am in the moment and only thinking of it, it feels disconcerting, like a pair of jeans that just don’t quite fit right.

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