My birth stories: The arrival of Little Miss

This post probably should have been one of my first! It’s one I’ve been meaning to write for absolutely ages. There are so many little details that I don’t want to forget as the years pass by – almost four already. So, with it now being Little Miss’s birthday month, here it finally is – her birth story.

My birth stories 1

It all began on Tuesday 27 March – three days before both my birthday and due date. I woke early that morning with a mild crampy feeling and when I went to the loo, realised I’d had a show.

I knew this didn’t necessarily mean I would go into proper labour instantly, and even if I did it was likely to take a while, so we carried on as usual. I’d read the books and been to NCT classes, I knew what I was doing – or so I thought!

The husband went to work and I went over to my morning midwife appointment as planned. I was still only getting the odd crampy sensation at that point. This continued throughout the day and by about 4pm the pains were starting to feel more intense though still very bearable.

Things carried on much the same that night. We let the hospital know and they predicted they would probably be seeing me in the morning. I bounced on a birth ball a bit while watching TV. At some point late that night I think I cracked open the TENS machine. I felt excited but calm, in control and relieved that something was happening as I’d been dreading the prospect of going overdue – though had assumed I would as I wasn’t convinced they had my dates right.

I slept a bit that night, not wonderfully but  I managed to get some rest. Then we got through the morning – using the TENS machine, distracting myself, keeping mobile like I’d read in the books and learnt in the classes. This was ok, I thought. I can cope with this (it gets more interesting later!).

After lunch we both felt it must be time to go the hospital. My contractions were getting stronger and closer together. This must be it, I thought. And dare I say it, I was probably feeling ever so slightly smug at how well I thought I was dealing with what, I thought, by now must be full-on labour pain.

Only two centimetres – you’re kidding me!

And so we arrived at the antenatal day unit. The midwife examined me and pronounced that yes I was in the ‘early’ stages of labour – and congratulated me on being two centimetres dilated. TWO! She seemed happy with that. I definitely was not! Two measly centremetres! And then it started to dawn on me that I was not as in control as I thought. My sense of calm was somewhat premature. My body was only just getting started. Sh*t!

The midwife initially suggested we went home for a bit. But given that we were over half an hour drive each way from the hospital (and the husband was pretty nervous about the possibility of an in-car, roadside delivery), there was no way either of us planned on leaving that hospital.

So she moved to plan B and offered to give me a sweep to try and speed things along.

Let’s just say it did the trick.We were sent off to walk around the hospital corridors for an hour or so to see how things went. They went painfully! After several episodes of me leaning over various walls, ledges and garden benches as the pain started to overwhelm me, it became obvious that the sweep was having the desired effect.

By the time we went back to the antenatal assessment ward I was feeling sick and pretty desperate. They offered me gas and air, which I couldn’t get my hands on quick enough. I was hot and sweaty and have vague memories of pretty much stripping off by the bed, cubicle curtains wide open, not giving a damn who could see me!

I feel sorry for the women who were on the ward for observation that day and not yet in labour. I didn’t do a very good job of selling it to them. My sense of self-awareness had long left the building! A healthy dose of realism was all I had to offer.

They hooked me up to monitor to check the baby’s heart rate and my husband did an annoying thing I’ve since seen repeated by other men on One Born Every Minute. He kept looking at the machine and telling me when contractions were starting to build from the change in the wiggly line. The only useful aspect of this was his being able to suggest when one might be coming to an end.

Anyway, while I might have scared/annoyed/amused the other women on the antenatal ward, my hollering finally got me admitted to the labour ward (And, on a serious note, I do stand by it as  a coping mechanism – yelling propelled me through the birth of my second baby too!).

Making an entrance on the delivery suite…

So at 5pm exactly, my labour was finally deemed ‘established’ and I was granted access to the delivery suite. One of the first things I did when I got into my room? Threw up down the back of the bed! That’s gratitude. The midwives, as they were throughout, were wonderful and kind and quickly cleared everything up without a murmour.

At this point I seriously started to question my all-natural birth plan and ability to get through labour without stronger pain relief. I started to make inquiries about what an epidural would entail. They put my name on the waiting list for an anaesthetist to come and see me. It was suddenly so much more appealing.

It was incredibly busy that night on the labour ward – we were later told that we were the last to be admitted and if we’d been any later we would have ended up being transferred to another hospital. And it wouldn’t have even been one of the next closest hospitals as they were full too. We could have ended up in London or over in Kent.

As it was, the busyness helped me. With the delivery suite at full capacity and several emergency c-sections happening, there wouldn’t be an anaesthetist free to see me any time soon. This, it transpired, was a turn of luck (I know that might seem an odd choice of words). It forced my hand and put me back on track with our original plan. My mindset had to shift – knuckle down and get on with it, the pain will pass.

By the time an anaesthetist became available, I’d got through the hardest bit, with the unflinching support of my husband. I had been very sick and had struggled to keep any fluids down for a few hours, which hadn’t helped when I was wavering. But at some point I was offered a drip to rehydrate me, which was a huge help. I got some strength back, felt more in control again and, knowing I’d now got to 8cm dilated, I was happy enough to carry on as I was.

Finally she’s here

FirstPictureLittleMissAt 9.49pm our baby, a beautiful daughter, was finally born (we hadn’t found out the sex beforehand). My hospital notes described my time in labour as just 4 hours 49 minutes – I beg to differ! But, overall, I can look back and say I was blessed with a straightforward, intervention-free delivery.

Looking at my notes from the time, apparently my waters didn’t break until 9.15pm and the second stage of labour (the pushing bit) lasted 29 minutes.To me that last bit, which I’d expected to find hardest, wasn’t so bad. Knowing I was so close made me feel so much better. The time went quickly.

Little Miss was perfect, weighing 7lb 8oz (3.4 kg). She aced her Apgar score – 9 at one minute and ten at five minutes once her little hands had pinked up. It was wonderful to be able to hold her straight away.

Of course, we were completely elated. And overwhelmingly relieved that she’d arrived safely. I’d found pregnancy a huge mental challenge. Physically everything had been fine but having suffered a late miscarriage 16 months before, I had been terrified that things could go wrong. Much of the time I just counted down the days, willing myself through it.

I was amazed at how quickly we decided on her name. We’d had a clear front runner for a boy – which we used two years later – but several potential girl’s names were on our list and we’d by no means made up our minds. Beforehand it had felt like a such a big decision to grapple with, hence we had decided to wait until we saw her. I imagined it taking hours, possibly days, so we were both surprised when very quickly we had a moment of clarity and agreed within the first five minutes of her arrival.

Our first night

After an hour or so finishing up in the delivery room, I was wheeled through to the post natal ward. I was given the option of walking round – hell no! I’ve just pushed a baby out thank you, I’ll be putting my feet up now, thanks!

I got settled on the ward and then all too soon the husband had to leave. Well, he was politely thrown out as those were the hospital rules back then.

I remember having a hunger like I’ve never felt before. Mars Bars were consumed – along with all the other energy-rich snacks I’d packed, thinking I’d be eating them during labour.

Then alone on the ward, once I’d satisfied my chocolate craving, the enormity of it all hit me. That night was such a mixture of feelings. I felt pretty  invincible, amazed that I had got through it all unscathed and without an epidural. I felt proud of what my body had achieved. I had, with my husband of course (as he’ll be reading this!), created the tiny little, living, breathing, perfect human bundle laying next to me in her hospital crib.

But along with the euphoria, I also felt a huge feeling of responsibility. Of course, I expected this but you can’t quite imagine it until you’re finally left alone with your new arrival.

Within twenty minutes of me finally laying back in bed to try and rest and get some sleep, Little Miss gave me an ill-timed dose of reality on the joys of parenthood to come when she suddenly started coughing and spluttering and threw up a load of phlegmy green muck. “Ah yes,” said my friend, who’d given birth to her third daughter the day before me, when I replied to a text later in the middle of the night “that happened to me, they don’t warn you about that”. Too right they don’t. For a moment I was terrified that Little Miss was seriously ill. But apparently it’s very normal, she was just clearing out nine months of muck. And so began the first of many outfit/bedding changes/clean up jobs.

Hard work.jpg

After that, I was too scared to sleep in case Little Miss needed me again. So I vowed to stay awake all night – and ordered three new parent books on Amazon in the early hours! I was on the hunt for the best possible manual to go with this new thing in our lives

I was relieved when morning came. I managed to successfully navigate through breastfeeding and a major nappy change, and then Daddy came back. Little Miss passed all her checks and we waited to be discharged to go home – which took all day as the place was so busy. Both sets of grandparents and one new aunty and uncle came to the hospital. I continued to be absolutely ravenous and wolfed down all available food!

FirstDay

Finally, almost 24 hours after her birth, we  left the hospital. Little Miss looking far too small for her car seat, me sat in the back next to her. On the drive home I finally got some rest. And then our parenthood journey truly began.

Car seat

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The joys of toddler singing… part two

Toddler singing part twoOver the last week Little Mister has started to find his singing voice! Ok, so it’s not really proper singing yet, more repeating certain lines, but he is attempting to follow a tune. And it is so cute.

His current repertoire is very heavily influenced by his older sister – Let it Go from Frozen being his favourite. He gave us a few rounds of that one in the early hours of the morning on Saturday night but it was so sweet we instantly forgave him for keeping us awake. He’s also tried to copy Little Miss singing along to Angelina Ballerina.

Little Miss has always been a little singer and as a baby loved being sung to from just a few weeks old – amazingly even by us! She was singing the Angelina Ballerina theme tune at the top of her voice as she pedalled along happily on her little bike on Sunday afternoon. I loved the way she was so content in herself, so unselfconscious, in her element, in her own little world.

I’ve been told that singing is a sign of a happy child. I really hope so. I hope they’ll always sing and always feel secure in themselves to do so.

Hearing Little Mister  trying to sing in his cot reminded me of a post I wrote about his sister almost two (gulp, two?) years ago. She’d started to her sing herself to sleep with Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. Hence I called this post ‘part 2’ as we’re getting to enjoy those magical moments all over again.

Little Mister seems to be just as keen on music as his sister’s always been. For a long time now he’s responded to hearing music by starting to sway or do a little dance. He definitely responds to rhythm, perhaps even more than she did. Nursery often tell us how much he loves the singing they do there too.

So I’m loving sharing music with them both at the moment. We got into the party spirit on Spotify over the weekend, meaning both children now know how to do a Conga! An essential life skill, I say, and a standard at every family wedding we went to back in the 1980s. You’ve got to love a bit of Black Lace. Who remembers them? Superman also went down well. I’ve yet to even break out Agadoo.

Anyway – I’m getting sidetracked by the nostalgic cheese – the new-found singing ability is obviously all part of Little Mister developing his language skills. At nursery they say he holds little conversations between the toy animals when he’s playing with them.

He copies so much of what he hears now. My current favourite is “leave it!” which makes me laugh even when it probably shouldn’t. It’s usually said during nappy changes.

And on that note, it’s getting late so I’m going to take my own advice and call it a night!

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First hair cuts, his and hers …

This weekend marked a major milestone for both our little people – their first haircuts. Neither of our offspring have had the fastest growing locks. Little Miss in particular really had very little hair until she was almost two. Looking back on pictures from this time two years ago, her hair seems so very short still. You’d never guess it now. She has such a beautiful head of golden, auburn waves.

Little Mister had more hair than his sister at birth and was darker but most of his fell out when he was a few months old. His locks have definitely grown back quicker than hers and it was his increasingly unruly fringe that finally spurred us into action. I was forever pushing his hair away from his eyes, plus, for the first time ever, somebody thought he was a girl the other week!

So off we went on Saturday – family outing! Little Miss, at age 3 and 10 months, gamely took to the chair first. She loves doing ‘grown-up’ things and was happy to sit up high and be pampered as long as it was just a trim. We’d promised her it would still be long. She’s such a girly girl and adores having long hair. And I still remember being quite traumatised when my mum had my long, curly toddler locks lopped off at a similar age – apparently she faced a daily battle sorting out my barnet.

First haircuts photo collage

Little Miss sat perfectly while her hair was  trimmed and tidied up, and the stylist became her new  best friend when she offered to finish off with an ‘Elsa plait’ from Frozen. As if Little Miss would ever refuse! I, on the other hand, was a bit nervous knowing I’m unlikely to ever be able to recreate the look at home. A skill to add to the to-do list, perhaps?

Little Mister, at 19 months, was not quite as keen as his sister but, with the help of Peppa Pig on the stylist’s mobile, he sat on Daddy’s lap and got through it.

We’re still getting used to his new look – he did have quite a thorough cropping. The hairdresser did check we were ok with her taking off his baby curls at the back. I hadn’t been prepared for it to be put like that and wavered for a moment but practicality won through. And we saved those curls in an envelope! (along with some of his sister’s trimmings).

He does look much smarter now and it’s much easier to look after now. We were having to blow dry it after every bath or shower! In some ways, he actually seems younger. It takes us back to last summer before it grew so long. But, of course, he is soooo much bigger.

So there we have it, another new experience.

Finished first haircuts

Looking sharp! The finished results

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News flash: The boy hates pancakes!

My girl loves pancakesA few weeks ago Little Mister encountered his first ever pancakes. Given his usual ferocious appetite for food, we’d assumed he would love them as much as his sister always has. But he wouldn’t touch them!

He rejected the savoury option with ham and cheese. He even turned down the sweet delights of a chocolate spread filled desert pancake, which even the fussiest toddler would probably have struggled to refuse.

Just a fluke, we thought. He’d been a bit under the weather and, unusually for him, had been less fussed about food in general that weekend.

This is a boy can demolish a banana in a few bites. Who’s renowned for almost always eating thirds at nursery. Who screams if dinner is running late. And has been known to sob uncontrollably when pudding has finished, especially if it’s apple crumble!

I can count on one hand the foods he won’t eat. Actually, right now, pancakes is really the only thing I can think of!
Pancakes boy

This time two years ago his sister, who was a similar age to him now, was pleading for ‘more pancakes please! She had a complete meltdown when her Shrove Tuesday pancakes finished. I’d assumed her brother would be the same and then some. Boy versus pancakes is what I’d envisaged.

Alas, no. Today at nursery he consumed his usual thirds of ‘herby cod’ (his older sister only managed ‘most’ of her first helping). But the pudding column of his food chart read, for the first time ever I think, ‘none’. Apparently hardly any of the current contingent of babies ‘got’ pancakes.

At home tonight we tried again. Third time lucky, we thought. No way, he thought. He looked at his pancake with suspicion. He poked it a bit, licked some of the honey off, then pushed his plate away and said ‘no’. He would not be persuaded otherwise. He clamped his mouth shut and looked at me as if I was a complete idiot for even thinking he might want to eat what had been put in front of him.

I had thought I was going to have to add a footnote to this post saying he’d had a last minute change of heart. As I started writing this he wavered slightly. Unprompted, he did have a nibble of the then cold pancake which we’d left on the table. He still looked suspicious and was mainly playing with it but, at last, a piece did at least pass his lips!

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Little Mister at 18 months: words, wonder and, er, wee-wees!

One of the main reasons I started this blog was to record some of those magical little moments in our young family’s life. Things that will become a little more hazy as the years pass.

Well, on New Year’s Day our little man turned 18 months (sorry son that it perhaps didn’t have quite the same fanfare that your sister’s 1.5 year birthday did, what with it being just after Christmas and all that!). But 18 months he turned and that certainly warrants an update on our second, not-so-little, bundle of fun.

Little Mister at 18 Months

The last month or so has really seen him finding his voice and he’s increasingly stringing words together into simple little sentences – well, more often than not polite-ish demands. He’ll repeat almost anything you ask him (careful!) and, as I say, he’s definitely getting better at expressing what he wants! One of the first requests was “out please” (manners maketh man!) when he’d finished a meal and was done with his highchair. Predictably enough, many of his new phrases revolve around food – “Daddy, me cake” while pointing at the kitchen was said last week!

He loves to perform a mini role call, going through all the people in the room, pointing at them and saying their name. When his sister and I had to spend a night away in hospital recently (more on that in another post), he went round the house looking for her and calling her name.

As well as the cute stuff, “no!” and “mine!” are also being squealed more and more regularly!

Food, glorious food!

20160122_183709_resized

Who needs a spoon? A whole hand is much quicker!

As hinted earlier, his love of and capacity for food remains a constant source of wonder. While he is very easy to feed – he will eat pretty much anything (including foliage!) – meal times have become more stressful of late. We pretty much face a race against time to get our food into us before he finishes his because woe betide we dare have food left on our plates when he has none.

His meal times currently end with a Greek flourish when, unless intercepted, he hurls his plate to the floor. This is often followed by a dramatic meltdown when he realises there really is no more food coming. The end of a nice pudding is the worst. He stood in a corner sobbing uncontrollably for a good ten minutes when the crumble ran out on Sunday night! A week ago he lay sprawled on the floor in despair at the end of strawberry frozen yoghurt.

But he is the most lovable, soppy little boy too. He’s always keen for a cuddle and the way he says mummy and snuggles in makes my heart melt. He’s especially affectionate when he’s wrapped in a towel, fresh from the bath. He gives kisses now too, although he tends to open his mouth  and make a noise rather than pucker up properly.

His hair is getting longer and it won’t be long before he needs his first cut. He was referred to as a ‘her’ for the first time ever last week! He’ll probably be joined at the salon by his big sister, who has also never seen a hairdresser and is due a bit of a trim.

Sibling love – and rivalry

Little Miss recently told us that she wanted her brother to be a girl! But on the whole they get along pretty well. They looked very cute in the shower together tonight. Little Miss holding his hand to keep him safe and sharing the shower nozzle with him, which she had in the other hand. A few weeks ago at nursery we were told that she and a friend had been pushing him around in a little car when the older children joined the little ones for playtime. And she definitely looks out for him when we’re out and about and other children are around.

That said, his increasing independence and ability to get involved in whatever she’s doing can be a source of frustration for her. He loves to copy her and has started taking her dolls. He calls all of them Wah Wah (the name of her favourite doll) and is also keen on pushing a buggy around. Thankfully Little Miss got a new one for Christmas so he has kind of inherited her old one. It stops some of their scraps. Just some of them! If one has something then invariably the other one will decide they want it so the squabbles are certainly on the increase.

Little Mister also loves pottering around the play kitchen, building with the shared Lego and pushing cars around while saying “brum”. He’s also become keen on stickers, although tends to make a mess with them, he’ll happily scribble and he’s become a whizz with all of the different shape sorters we have in the house.

Everything new is a source of wonder for him. It’s a lovely stage. And he so wants to help and join in with everything. one of his latest things is to get his breakfast bowl out of the cupboard. Quickly followed by getting his sister’s and taking it to her while calling her name – see they do love each other!

He still hates having his nappy done, unless distracted, and seems so much stronger in his refusals than she was. But we think he is possibly becoming aware of when he wees. Maybe a fluke but he definitely now knows the word and what it’s associated with.

I didn’t really want to end on nappy etiquette but I could go on and on here and it’s getting late! Hopefully in the coming weeks I’ll be able to get into a more regular writing habit again – I don’t want my next post to be when Little Miss turns four! Yes, that next birthday is rapidly approaching and I’m feeling a bit emotional about it! Catch up again soon.

 

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