This was originally the blog of a first-time Mum to remember the ups and downs of my pregnancy - and chart the first year of my daughter's life. But I've kept it going, and am now a mother of two! More than anything, it helps me to get to sleep once I've emptied my brain of issues and concerns and emotions onto the laptop.
If you're reading this and also a mum- or dad-to-be, first time parent, or just someone who's thinking about it - I hope it gives a little insight into one person's experiences - good and bad....

Thursday, 30 June 2011


It's very hard to believe we've only been home five days and that Charlotte is still less than a week old. It feels like she's been with us for far longer - which makes it hard to cut ourselves some slack on the few issues that aren't quite going right.

The first night passed much as I think we expected it - a lot of feeding, a couple of hours kip as she slept in the Moses basket next to us, and yet more feeding. But by night two it changed dramatically, and she would not get off to sleep and never seemed full from feeding.

It really wasn't helped by the heatwave - our flat was in the high 20s Celsius - and I think a perfect storm of that, me only having colostrum still, and her thirst in the heat made for a horrible night. In the end we cracked and gave her a tiny bit of formula because I just couldn't seem to quench her thirst or hunger, and it put her right out to sleep for a good couple of hours.

We didn't beat ourselves up about the miniscule bit of formula we gave her - and she's been feeding very well on me since then (so far... please don't make that a famous last words moment). The following day/night - when my proper milk still wasn't fully in - we reverted to a tiny bit of boiled, cooled water - once she'd had all she could from me. Again - we know it's not recommended and we haven't had to resort to it since, but the heat and not having my proper milk put us in a really difficult position.

Looking for advice on the internet and in magazines/books we had lying around really didn't help. There's so much militant "you must not do this and that" and so much conflicting advice, it started to drive us mad. So from now on I'm making a point of banning myself from internet forums and so-called expert books, and listening only to my parents, in-laws, close Mum friends and my instincts.

And it's not just the internet posse who can't decide on what's the right thing to do in certain circumstances. As experienced throughout my pregnancy, even the health professionals within the same NHS Trust can't seem to make their minds up. We've had so much conflicting advice from our various midwives on issues as far ranging as the big 'water issue' to whether to use a mild baby cleaning product in the bath. What one has told us in the hospital, another has disputed on a home visit. It's truly ridiculous.

But the feeding seems to have been going well since my proper milk started coming in, so that's good progress. Charlotte seems perfectly satisfied after a good feed most of the time - falling fast asleep or seeming content if she stays awake, and there are plenty of wet and pooy nappies (thanks to OH for dealing with these most of the time!).

The one big problem we've got at the moment is where she'll sleep. She's refusing to go down in the Moses basket since that first night, and will only sleep on one of us, which is really not ideal. We're working in very much of a tag-team shift pattern, so there's always one of us with her while the other snatches an hour or two of sleep. It's something we're already trying to address by trying various tips to get her to settle in the basket, but for now we're thinking 'one step at a time' and if we can get the feeding and other things right first by the end of week three, then we'll concentrate on getting her to sleep anywhere other than on us, as that's a really bad and hard habit to have to break.

However, ten years of shift work - including nightshifts and six years of starting at 4am - means I'm quite happy and comfortable being up all through the night with her. And surviving on the odd hour of sleep here and there. In fact I've really enjoyed the middle of the last two nights - between 1am and 4am it's dark and peaceful and I just stare at our wonderful, beautiful daughter trying to make out all her little movements and needs, thinking she'll never be this tiny ever again - while she feeds and sleeps on me.

So for now - we just have to keep reminding ourselves of all the positives steps we're making every day. The two midwife visits we've had have been absolutely fine; she's lost her small bit of jaundice; the feeding's going well; we've given her a bath; we've had two successful trips out of the flat - including a full hour in her pram this morning when she was as good as gold.

Tiny baby steps - we'll get her sleeping somewhere other than on us eventually, but we really are doing OK considering it's just the first week.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011


OK - so look away now if you're squeamish. But frankly if you're reading a blog about childbirth, I don't know what else you expect!

As previously mentioned, my labour started just a matter of hours after a sweep at my 41 week ante-natal check-up. Pretty painful and unpleasant, but it obviously did the trick. In fact the midwife told me I was already about 2cm dilated and my cervix was very soft, so it really was just a matter of time.

Started getting cramps after we went for a walk and out for some lunch, and by late afternoon they'd turned into definite contractions lasting around 40 seconds every 5 minutes. We attached the TENS machine, and it certainly seemed to help a little - though I'm not 100% convinced that it wasn't more of a placebo effect. Having said that, it got me through to well into the established phase of my labour.

We headed to the hospital at around 8pm, and I'm frankly glad I've never got to go back to that maternity unit ever again. When we arrived at least three midwives told us they thought we should be in the birthing centre as it looked like I wanted a more natural delivery - despite clearly saying on my birth plan that I wanted to be in the delivery ward. They said "but you want to use a birthing pool and there isn't one here" - there bloody well is: we were shown it on our tour a few weeks ago, and then proceeded to walk straight past the room labelled 'Birthing Pool Room' on the way to my labour room.

That pretty much set the tone for the rest of our experience there. We were left on our own for up to 2 hours, while my contractions were getting stronger and stronger, but no one was checking me. I was throwing up a lot - so we saw more of the cleaner than any midwife at that stage as I didn't have a bucket big enough to throw up into. And when we did see any midwives they seemed more concerned with when their next break was or how long left of their shifts.

When a midwife did eventually come to stay with us - Orla - she was next to useless. She couldn't even operate the bed properly and didn't seem to be checking me much at all. Much of the next bit is now a bit of a blur - in fact I'm having to ask OH a lot of what actually happened, as clearly my brain has already blocked the worst bits out!

I was put on permanent monitoring, and also opted for gas and air at this point as the TENS wasn't doing enough for the pain.  But as Orla wasn't checking the monitoring devices correctly, which a couple of times had slipped out, she kept insisting I wasn't contracting - when I very much was. As a result it appears she didn't ever realise quite how far dilated I was, and it was getting harder and harder for me to resist the urge to push - probably because I was supposed to be pushing.

Eventually, I was allowed to push - and for an hour and half I kept being told they could see the top of the head, with hair, but our Little Monkey just wasn't coming. A doctor was called in, and decided I need a ventouse delivery, which would require a cut. All things I was really trying to avoid - but knew I had to have if she was to come out safely.

As the decision was made all a bit late, I don't think the anesthetic injection had kicked in enough and for some reason the gas and air was taken away at the later stages of pushing, so I could feel them cutting, OH says I made more noise for that than anything. And then the ventouse failed - twice. Turns out a piece of the equipment was broken, and while a midwife went out to get another piece I managed to push our baby out by myself (albeit with a bit more of a cut).

And out came a beautiful baby girl.

Well, acutally she wasn't so beautiful at first - she pooed EVERYWHERE, lots. So it took quite a while for the midwives to clean her up, and there was a little concern over her heartbeat, but that stabilised. While they were sorting her out, I was being stitched up which took ages, and I had more gas and air for that stage than any other. She screamed for ages and ages - and it was GREAT to hear!

My OH - who throughout the 8 hour labour was an incredible support (giving me water [which I constantly threw up] and dampening me down with a cool flannel [of all the stuff we'd packed to help me through, that proved to be the most useful] eventually got the first cuddles after helping dress her.

While she was being sorted out I made a decision on her name, and when OH brought her over to me I asked him if he had any thoughts. We both agreed that our original, top of the list name for a girl would suit perfectly - so Charlotte Jane it is.

Several hours - and more incompetence and bitching among the midwives later - I was sent down to the shared post-natal ward. I stayed in for about 36 hours in the end - with virtually no sleep. The woman next to me was either howling in pain or snoring ridiculously loudly. Plus Charlotte needed constant feeding to help her off to sleep, but I got there eventually. In fact I surprised myself how well the breastfeeding went right from the start.

I seemed to have the bare minimum of checks from the midwives and doctors - so  I was pushing to be discharged as soon as possible. And so on Saturday lunchtime, we took our baby daughter home...

Monday, 27 June 2011


Charlotte Jane - born 0434 on 24th June, 2011; weighing 7lb.

With the little feeding monster likely to wake for her next feed at any moment, this will be very brief until I have time to write a couple of more detailed blogs about her birth and the first few days.

Hours after a sweep at the ante-natal clinic on Thursday my labour started - we were in hospital by 8pm that night, and she arrived 8 and half hours later.  TENS machine and gas and air only, two failed attempts at a ventouse delivery - and she came out with all my might.

Since then it's been three days of feeding, feeding, feeding - not helped by the ridiculously hot weather which means she's more de-hydrated than usual. But breastfeeding seems to be going really well so far. Had really positive and reassuring home visits from a midwife and breastfeeding woman.

Just need to get her to sleep for more than 2 hours at a time so I can get a tiny bit of sleep. A grand total of about 7 hours since Thursday is not good.

Will fill in the details at a later date - but until then, Welcome to the world, Charlotte... x

Wednesday, 22 June 2011


I have taken up drinking Raspberry Leaf tea. I know it's more useful longer term for strengthening the uterine muscles than actually bringing on labour - but I'm totally off curry and would have to eat seven whole pineapples if that other old wives' tale is to have any effect. The tea's actually really nice, but no effects yet.

Also been walking lots to try to encourage the Little Monkey it's time to come out. Had the most obvious, but still totally painless, Braxton Hicks on Sunday evening after a particularly long walk - so I'll try to keep that up (if it ever stops raining). Had plenty of helpful suggestions from friends who've also been overdue - everything from watching a film that makes me cry to doing a jigsaw puzzle on my hands and knees on the floor!

We're very well aware that the average first baby is 8 days late (which begs the question of why bother with a due date instead of something like a 'due week') - but it doesn't make it any easier. I think both me and my OH are passed the impatient stage, and both feel more like it's just never going to happen and I'm going to be in a perpetual state of pregnancy for ever more!

The excitement and belief that there'll actually be a baby here soon has certainly gone. As has my feeling of being ready for labour and birth. That's slowly ebbing away as the days go on. As time ticks on I also find myself getting some darker thoughts if he/she stays in there too long - what if they're in distress and doesn't get out in time; what if my placenta suddenly stops supplying him/her with everything they need; and worse.

But the painless Braxton Hicks also make me occasionally have a wild notion that perhaps I'll be the first woman to have a totally pain-free labour and birth! Yeah right.

Still getting plenty of movement from the Little Monkey - and I keep telling him/her that there's far more room outside to stretch and kick and making all the big movements that he/she's still doing inside my tummy...!

So, still waiting - we know it could still be another week before the midwives decide whether I should be induced. Until then, I think I'll stick the kettle on for another cup of Raspberry Leaf tea....

Saturday, 18 June 2011


Yes - month ten. As not unexpected I am overdue. I'm not really that surprised, despite earlier being convinced the Little Monkey was going to come early. I know the vast majority of first-borns are late. But it means days more fending off calls and texts from family to see if there's any news. IF THERE'S ANY NEWS WE'LL TELL YOU! Had lots of well-meaning messages from friends too, which is nice, but clearly veiled as "any news?"!

Over the last few days I keep swinging from emotion to emotion within hours. One minute I'm feeling desperately impatient and want it all to kick off immediately - then I'm feeling quite happy to still be pregnant and don't want anything to happen just yet. Then I'll be feeling really anxious and nervous about labour and birth and don't want it to happen at all - and then I'll be more pragmatic, reminding myself the Little Monkey will come when they're ready - whether that means being induced or any second now.

It's all the not knowing that's unsettling. Yet on the other hand, not an awful lot has changed in the last few weeks. I may be a bit bigger and slower, but don't really feel much different, and so it doesn't really feel like  the birth is imminent. Having said that, at my GP's appointment this week she told me the baby's another fifth engaged - 3/5 into my pelvis - which is a good sign. We've just been carrying on as usual - been out a couple of times this week which has been really good, espcially chatting with friends about stuff other than babies and pregnancy.

We have a midwife appointment on Thursday where it's likely I'll have a sweep and discuss the possibility of being induced. Unless of course, it's all happened before then...

Thursday, 16 June 2011


Well, it's my due date today - and I'm really trying not to set too much stall by it or get too fixated on it. I have a pregnancy massage booked and we're seeing friends for dinner, to keep me busy. But it's very hard not to feel impatient, anxious and apprehensive.

I don't think it's helped that I'd convinced myself our Little Monkey would come early.  Now I'm thinking it could still be another 2 weeks, which makes me feel pretty despondent. The hardest thing is just not knowing how it's all going to kick off - will my waters break, will I have a show, will the contractions just start? The not knowing and constantly being on alert to any sign is frustrating.

But I keep trying to remind myself our Little Monkey will come when and how he/she is ready. And that I should rest up and enjoy myself while I can. Easier said than done though.

I have been sleeping pretty well - but I do wonder if I'm setting myself up for a fall. Everyone keeps telling me to sleep as much as I can - but surely if your body gets used to loads of sleep it's only going to make it harder once the wee one comes along and I start getting very little. Having worked anti-social hours for years, I've been used to snatching the odd hour or two of sleep here and there - and your body is almost trained to do it over time. To me, that seems a more sensible approach, as I'm sure the extra hours I'm getting now don't store up in my body for future use.

So now we're just waiting.

Thursday, 9 June 2011


I have been in some discomfort this week - for the first time all pregnancy really. But it's not in my back, tummy or legs - but in my bottom. I won't go into too much information, but the dreaded 'Hs' (see week 36) are getting worse, more painful and making it harder for me to get comfortable and sleep.

It's the first time that I've started to feel that I'd like the Little Monkey to come sooner rather than later. His/her movements are so big that I'm sure he/she's trying to get out! I still really enjoy feeling all the squirming, kicking etc - but I just hope they're not in any distress.

Booking lots of stuff to keep me occupied next week, so I'm not so focused on my due date - from a mortgage review to dinner with friends. Still very aware the Little Monkey could potentially be a full three weeks away though, and I keep telling myself he/she will come when and how it decides.

Some lovely news from my close friend and colleague who was expecting twins - she had 2 gorgeous wee boys this week. Sounds like she's had a tough first few days, and I don't envy her the stress of two, but looking at her photos made me bawl my eyes out and make me want our Little Monkey to put in their appearance really soon...

Thursday, 2 June 2011


We have a new catchphrase in our flat - "Ooops". My clumsiness has got worse in recent weeks. I am forever dropping stuff, made all the more annoying by the effort it takes to bend over and pick things up!

But generally, with just two weeks until my due date, all seems to be progressing fine. No ailments to speak of other than a continuation of the minor side-effects previously mentioned - the only new(ish) thing is a constant need for the loo. But I'm told me bladder is now being squashed almost flat by the Little Monkey, so that's no surprise.

Getting a little fed up of people telling me how I must be feeling. "Oh, you probably feel like a whale" - No. "You must be desperate for the baby to come now" - No. "You must be bored waiting around" - No. I'm still keeping myself nice and busy - swimming, walking, reading, housework. I've now been off work for a month, and haven't missed it at all.

Went bowling for a friend's birthday the other week, and so many people kept questioning if I should be bowling "in my condition", and telling me to be careful etc. By the end of the evening I wanted to talk about anything other than my bump/pregnancy/baby as I was sick of answering the same questions over and over again to new acquaintances.

My OH has done a fantastic job of the nursery - it's pretty much done now. Just waiting for a nursing chair to arrive - and the baby of course! A few people have said the chairs are a waste of money, but as I'm going to be spending an awful lot of time in the nursery (OH works from home and has commandeered the living room) it makes sense for me to have comfy and practical chair in there.

Caught up with a few friends with babies/toddlers, and my parents, this week which was lovely - everyone seems so excited for us. Probably the last time I'll venture too far from home for a while, as it really feels like we're on countdown now - anytime between now and a month, I guess. I'm just now really intrigued as to what that first contraction or early labour REALLY feels like. All the stuff I've read says I'll just know, but having got this far without any type of pain - not even Braxton Hicks - it truly is the unknown.