My natural almost water birth story


Image by girlguyed via Flickr

With just 11 weeks to go till the due date of baby Boyo, I’ve been reflecting on my previous birth experience with Babe (now two and a half) and thinking forward towards my next natural birth experience. Being me, I want to do it even better this time around…details to cover another day. But today I’m going to share with you my birth story that casts back to December 2008.

There is something about bringing a baby into the world, how ever you do it, that earns you some respect. The other week my optician told me this story of when he was about eight, and the sudden realisation that he would never have to give birth – he was over the moon, never more glad to be the one planting the seed over growing it. That moment seems to stick very clearly in his mind, but there is part of me that wanted to share with him that it is the most amazing thing to be able to do – yes painful, but still the best day of my life.

Once I’d gone through labor and successfully naturally brought my little girl into the world over two and a half years ago I felt that I have deservedly earned my way into ‘the club’ and had gained a supreme amount of respect from my awe-struck husband (and I in return had been pleasantly surprised by his amazing part in the labor process too). I was totally impressed by what my body was capable of and my strength of mind (I thought I had it in me, but wasn’t totally sure).

Water birth but not quite
I wanted a water birth, for many reasons. Primarily because it is a more gentle way of bringing your little one into the world. Transition from the peacefulness of the womb, to water and then to nursing in mama’s arms. Not straight out into the bright lights of a hospital room.

That part of the plan didn’t work out because Babe was in an odd position, they seemed to think the shoulder was twisted a bit, so we need to try other options and positions ie sitting on the commode (lovely I know, not the serene vision of labor I had in mind). But I got to spend a good couple of hours in the pool during the final part of my first stage of labor, through transition and into the early stages of the second part of labor. It was a great distraction and definitely a good pain reliever.

No drugs
If you had asked me before being pregnant if I wanted to labor without drugs I would have said…

No way, I want all the drugs they can give me!

I thought all people who embarked on labor without drugs were out of their mind, on some masochistic trip.

But then I started reading and realised that a drugged up labor is not all it’s cracked up to be. So I decided on a natural birth, except for gas and air. And as it happened I had a great time on gas and air, should have some of that stuff at home. I even had a bit too much at one point and took myself on one amazing oxygen deprived elated trip, thinking delusionally that I had given birth to Babe. Instead I had passed something else that daddy had to scoop out the pool with a net (I am saying no more).

It was not my precious child…I had to do another four and a half hours of pushing for that. Yes it was a very long second stage of labor and I was so lucky to have a totaly awesome midwife that didn’t ship me off to theatre after an hour. Even when Babe’s heart beat began to slow down, not to a risky level (but enough to concern hubby), we carried on.

So this is how the story goes

At a week overdue my midwife came by my house and gave me a sweep (not the supermarket kind with Dale Winton, the membrane parting thing, I’m not going into the details here as I’m trying to stay away from the gory details stuff). That was a Friday, come the Sunday morning I was unsure if my waters had broken, no big flooding but signs, so we trundled off to the hospital. The doctor concluded that he thought my hind waters had broken. This was the first I’d heard of hind waters, I thought there was one big bag of water and that was that. With that I was informed that if I didn’t go into labor over the next 24 hours I was going to need to be induced….argh induced.

I did not want to be induced
Apart from the horrible sudden arrival of painful labor, it meant that I would need to be plugged up to monitoring equipment. Electricity and water don’t mix, so this was going to put an end to my chances of a water birth. So at midday we went home and I thought positive labor thoughts…ie come on you little sod, you need to start making your way now or they are going to evict you. Baby you have been evicted, please leave the big mama house.

Labour starts at 3pm
I was on the phone to my friend and suspected that contractions may have started, these were more intense than the  Braxton Hicks I’d been experiencing to date. By 6pm I was fairly confident that this was early labor – yay! By 9pm I was totally sure this was labor – double yay, bring it on. No pain no gain! Daddy went off to bed at about 10.30pm and I paced around the living room trying furiously to finish off the baby jumper I was knitting.

By around midnight I called the hospital and they explained that I should try to lie down and get some rest. I didn’t want rest, I wanted to walk this baby out of me. But they warned me it could be a long time yet, so I heeded their advice. But lying down the contractions seemed so much more painful and less frequent, and I didn’t want them to slow down, I wanted them to speed up. For the next few hours I swapped between lying down and walking around trying to conserve my energy – I had no idea what a marathon was in store for me.

Bath time
At around 2am/3am I decided to have a bath. I’d been holding this back until I really needed it – trying to pace myself through the pain relieving options so I didn’t end up in the early stages of labor insisting on an epidural. Around this time daddy got up and started timing and logging the contractions. In his true style these were timed precisely on his phone and logged on an Excel spreadsheet.

TENS machine
So I’d done the bath option, finished the jumper and decided it was time to move onto the next level of pain relief – the TENS machine. This was around 4am/5am. After the sticking and testing was complete and I was in a better pain relieved place I called the hospital again. Much to my joy they said now was the time to come in.

Off to the hospital we go
We got there about 6am, although its only about 10 minutes away it took me a while to get myself together and actually maneuvered into the car. Things weren’t progressing quickly so I lay on a bed waiting for time to pass listening to the radio – this was to be a long four hours of waiting. Finally at 10am they said they would break my waters, (the main one this time) and recommended I go and walk around to get labor going, or I might need to be induced. The threat of eviction seemed to do it every time. While hanging out by the cafe BIG contractions started and I hobbled back with daddy back to the labor ward. Once there I was much relieved to find out the single birth pool and room was available and I was getting it. I wanted to get in that pool NOW. So the midwife filled the pool and daddy put on some music from my choice collection. It was Adele’s first album and it turned out that album would run on loop for the whole day. Listening to that CD is now always very special for me.

At noon the main midwife was called back from her lunch early as the lesser experienced midwife thought things were escalating and the baby was on its way. I had to endure a good four and a half hours plus of full on pushing until she appeared at 5.04pm. In the end I gave birth on a bed on my back. Not at all want I had envisioned and hoped for, but I’d not had any intervention so that was good enough for me.

Clear the room it’s our time
I’d made this clear in my birthplan that after the basics had been done, cord cut, placenta delivered etc, I wanted everyone to leave the room so daddy, mummy and baby could have some quiet time together. Then I had the dreaded hour of stitches, the less said about that the better. It’s just not gracious and altogether horrible. But I had my baby and that’s all that mattered.

Yes labor was the most painful thing I’ve ever had to endure, but at the same time it’s one of the most wonderful natural and beautiful things, definitely the best day of my life.

Finally I left hospital the next morning – and so the story of Babe begins.


Family fairy dancing

Jumping Beans at Exeter Phoenix Centre

Last Saturday I took Babe along to a dance class. Now I’m not one of those pushy mamas that believes we should push our little ones into ballet and playing the piano as soon as they can point their toes or splay their fingers. But I liked the idea of this class, just 30 minutes jiggling around to some music – more of a musical movement play session really.

My friend introduced me to this class held at the local arts centre (Exeter Phoenix) called Jumping Beans. The teacher is really relaxed and great with the little ones and parents can join in. As my friend and I (with our daughters) were the only ones present, we had a good old flail about too. In fact I think we were more puffed-out than our girlies.

Family fairy dancing
It’s funny how toddlers memories work. All of a sudden out of the blue, last night Babe declared that she wanted to do ‘dance class’. So I raided my sieve like prego brain for whole dances with music and worlds that I could remember. She didn’t like the Jungle, I was crap at Dingle Dangle Scarecrow, so we got hooked on the fairy dance game. And everyone had to join in, including daddy. Chasing round the room like a fairies, catching fairies.

I love moments like this, were child play spontaneously embraces the whole house.

This is the tea time fun I like 🙂

Craft Projects with a Toddler

I’m really not sure who gets more enjoyment and satisfaction out of doing little craft projects, Babe or I. But I don’t think its such a bad thing if the balance tips over my way a bit more, surely its healthy for Babe to observe mama enjoying a wholesome activity for a change. Rather than watching my joy at going shopping or eating cake?

I thought I’d share with you a couple of our recent projects and activities. I might be a bit deluded if I thought we might inspire you, but we can live in hopes. By the chance that you do become inspired, please do let me know.

One of the great things about doing crafts and things with a toddler is that no matter how crappy the results turn out, its fine cause you can blame it on the child. Now if I told you I had made these on my own then you would just think, OMG she really shouldn’t give up her day job. For the record, I did not do these on my own, I could do a marginally better job without toddler sabotage or meddling.

Kiddy crafts suit me down to the ground, as expectations are low.

Salt Dough Mobile

I think there is still room for improvement with this, I just started to get a little bored and felt overcome my a sensetation of “oh it’ll do”. All ideas for improvements welcome, but I’m not going near the drill, and yes I can use it but have no vice to hold the wood. And it’s hardly a way to get a toddler involved. I don’t think she is quite ready for real power tools.

So this is what we did

1) Made salt dough using the instructions on the Make It & Mend It website here.

2) Used christmas star cookie cutters and a small storage pot to create the circles. Did some hearts too, but forgot to stab holes in those before letting it harden, so they will be used as token little gifts to go in birthday cards.

You can shove the salt dough cut outs in a low oven for four hours, but I couldn’t justify the electricity so I left them in the airing cupboard for 3/4 days which worked a treat.

3) Cut a length of wood
I only had a garden cane in the garage so I hacked about a third off the end of a short cane, no animals or children were hurt in the process you’ll be glad to know. I wanted to put holes through the cane but realised this would only work using the drill…and I’ve already explained the problem there.

4) Tie coloured cord around salt dough shapes and tie onto wood. You could use ribbon, but I found this coloured cord stuff in our local sewing shop which I think looks a tiny bit better. For this one we used three different colours of 1 metre length.

Finally tie some string (but if you had more cord I think that would be better), at each end of the wooden strip so you can hang the mobile.


He’s an ugly bugly but I hope kinda cute in a scrubby sort of way. He evolved over the course of about three weeks combining sticking, painting and paper mache.

So this is what we did

1) Get a smallish box (Oats So Simple 10 Sachet box used here) and cut up two egg boxes to create each leg/foot and glue on. For the nose/mouth glue onto one end a yogurt pot. For the tail base use a small toilet roll inner and stick on making flaps from some of the end of the tube. For spikes use the other separator bits of the egg boxes and glue on top.

Use the other egg box bits to make the eyes and eye lids.

At this point everything is very fragile…so some paper mache is in order.

2) Paper mache
This is basic paper mache, I’m not talking about making paper mache pulp for sculpting with. Tear paper up and just stick it on with some PVA glue. Messy and lots of fun…this is surprisingly therapeutic when a toddler is not smearing glue all over the tabletop and attempting to eat the paper.

Newspaper is ordinarily recommended, but I didn’t have any so used a local kids centre newsletter instead. Paper was a bit too good quality which made tearing hard work but I liked the orange colour so it was worth it.

Once you’ve left it to dry out for about a day you can crack on with the decorating.

3) Monster body art
We only had finger paints and a pastry brush but that sufficed I think. Once this was dry we stuck on purple hearts for the body, dried pasta on the spines, buttons in the eye sockets, stars on the eye lids and feathers for the ears.

Finally we stuck strips of wool onto the toilet roll tube tail.

And that was that…onto the next project – ideas please.

Teething Toddler and Thoughts of Chicken Pox


Image by Maralinga in WA via Flickr

Today I’m jaded, I just want to sit and eat crisps (current prego craving) and sleep. But I have to work…but that’s life. It’s the hum drum of parenting with young children, but it doesn’t stop me moaning.

The reason is not sleepless nights from needing to pee for the nth time, restless legs, heartburn or back ache from being 28 weeks pregnant – but my poor little sausage who is teething with the mean ol molars. She’s a grump in the morning, a grump in the evening and restless at night. This has been brewing for a while, she has had good and bad days over the last month or so, but it’s come to a head this week.

Just to start my week off on a not so good note, Sunday night Babe had a temperature all night. Strangely while she was restless and wanted mama and the comfort of num nums (mummy milk), she was surprisingly chipper. Come getting up in the morning and tea time later, she was in a needy grumpy way. Last night was an improvement but still not great. This morning is no better, grumpy and whiney. Poor thing.

There are times like this I am thankful to still be nursing my toddler…the nighttime instant cure-all. 

If I was to count my blessings, which I should be I know, I’d be thankful that this is not happening in three/four months time when I also have a new baby to contend with.

Should we go hunt down chickenpox?
So this brings me around to another topic. Babe has not yet had chicken pox, it’s going around. Should I take her to go hang out with some pox ridden other poor child so she can get it out the way before we have a baby in the house or just let fate do its worst? My midwife yesterday mentioned that it might be something worth considering and a colleague last week said that at 2.5 years old, now would actually be a good time – if there ever is a good time to get chicken pox that is. For reference both hubby and I have had it, that was a childhood illness I will never forget.

What’s Going on Spain? Poor Habiba & Alma

This morning I lay in bed snuggling and nursing with Babe that little longer, having read the latest updates on the Spanish breastfeeding Habiba & Alma story.

If you’ve not heard about it, then I implore you to click on a few of the links below and find out more.

A mother has had her baby daughter of 15 months taken away from her because she continued to breastfeed. Now you might expect this from a country renowned for its diabolical human rights, but we are talking about Spain* here. A fellow member of the EU, a place we go on our holidays to, a country that we get lots of fruit and veg from where the pretty tanned people live. Not a country that separates mother from baby just for continuing to breastfeed!

I’ve been holding off blogging about this for a week. As at first I wasnt sure if they might have separated Habiba and her baby for some other reason. I didn’t want to be part of a false rumour mill. But observing all the details unfold, as medical professionals and lawyers get involved I now believe that this is true.

Babe has been extra clingy to nurse this morning, maybe she understands too? In fact when I got up this morning she hollered “oy more num nums mummy”.

The latest update on the story is that Habiba was allowed to see Alma her baby girl yesterday. When Alma rooted around to be nursed, the orderly shouted “no”…

I cannot imagine what it would be like to:

a) have my child taken away from me
b) to be able to then see her and not be able to comfort her in the most loving and nurturing way possible

If I didn’t work I would be one of those mamas protesting this week. My second best is this blog post, to at least help in a very small way to spread the awareness of this awful story.

If you are a nurturing parent, that values your own parenting choices then please support and follow the We Are All Habiba facebook page.

Today I’m thankful that I live in a country that does not scorn on me (heavily) for my extended breastfeeding. My doctor and midwife both support MY decision to nurture my child this way.

* Sorry about previous references to Morroco, this has now been updated.

Troublesome Toddler Evenings

chorizo sausage.

Image via Wikipedia

The other night was one of those evenings that really tested my patience. I am kinda proud, my patience has really come on leaps and bounds, I just wish the rest of the household had personally developed in the same way.

Babe was troublesome the whole evening. From picking her up from the childminders to nursing off to sleep late on in the evening. If you are a parent some of this will be all to familiar to you. If you are yet to be or still contemplating the child thing, back away now. This could create some significant mental blockers to the idea of child rearing.

Nap time unbetweenies
Babe is currently in the process of transitioning from not needing a nap at all, but not quite. She can often get to 4pm – 5pm and then conks out. This is a nightmare time for a nap, right next to dinner and late enough to make her stay up till way gone 9pm. Not good for a pregnant mama that needs her sleep and would appreciate a bit of chill out time too. Last night was the same, I did manage to wake her up after 35 minutes to eat some tea and then she went back to sleep for another 20 winks. But that meant she didn’t settle down till way gone 9.30pm.

Dinner cooking chaos
Cooking dinner with a toddler around at the best of times can be challenging, even when hubby is around to keep her distracted. But when all the wee one wants is mummy, then it gets tough. Yes daddy can cook, but I guess I’ve just slipped back into doing it most of the time (no fault of his). But to put an end to this I have bought him Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals for Fathers Day.

Monday night was one of those evenings when it got tricky
I’d already opted for quick and easy omelette with potatoes, that I also know is a sure thing with Babe.

I had done all the chopping and grating, scrubbing and washing in advance while Babe slept, but was waiting until hubby got in the door before throwing it all in the pans. I had tried to rouse Babe from her nap, unsuccessfully. When eventually I did get her to wake up, she was a grumpy little monster that would only be placated by nursing.

Sadly with the big baby bump I can no longer nurse and cook tea with her in the Ergo or Mei Tai carriers.

Instead picture this, Babe perched on the kitchen side stooping down to me to nurse, while I leaned over and hurled an omelette into the pan. In between she would catch sight of a mushroom or some chorizo and yomp it down…non nom nom, she lurves mushrooms and chorizo. So that was her tea, pretty much all of the organic portabelo mushrooms (which I’d be saving to really enjoy), half the chorizo and later on some boiled potatoes with mayonnaise – with every other mouthful washed down with some mummy milk.

I know some of you will think we are mad…but I would rather do this juggling act, than let my grouchy sleepy toddler wail for 20 minutes and be wound up for the rest of the evening. At least after the tea time juggle she was a happy bunny.

The childminder has been given strict instructions today, if you can get her to sleep 30 minutes before mama comes along, do. If not, I guess the same is in store for me tonight.

3 Months Due Today – Preparations Behind

Hearts and butterflies for a boy

Falling behind schedule….that’s my life at the moment – work, home, everything. Playing catch-up is not a practice I like to live by.

If we are going by due date and calendar month, I can officially say we have three months to get our ship in order before baby Boyo is due to hit the decks. The shopping has not yet begun (apart from a vesty thing from Gap’s sale) and we have generally done very little to get anywhere near ready. The naming debate continues and so it goes on…

Making old new
But I did make a start last week, by dying various items suitable for boy blue. A few items still look a bit girly like the bib and vesty thing shown in the picture above, but who’s going to notice or be bothered. The movement of bringing up gender neutral kids (so they can decide themselves WTF!) would love these items I’m sure.

I’m well impressed by Dylon’s machine dyes, the colour is even, it was no hassle and it went much further than the packet said. Given that I had put double the quantity of clothes in the dye batch to achieve a strong navy colour I thought it would come out a pale blue. I was a little fearful that some residue might come out in clothes I washed afterwards, but the whites I did today so far have no traces…although I’ve yet to empty the machine totally so perhaps I’m jumping the gun on that a little.

Getting big
I am big honest, it’s kind of nice when people ask when I’m due and say I’m so small,  but on the other hand I just want them to acknowledge how pregnant I really do look. Only really hubby is good at this, but in a bad way. His way with words is not great, and these things usually come out sounding like an insult. If he strikes me at a particularly hormonal moment, I don’t respond well. Which usually goes like this “I am NOT fat, I’m lovely pregnant round. See this, just the baby bump OK…OK, so shut it!”

Lesson peoples: Do not cross the hormonal pregnant woman. It gets so much worse than this believe me.