Friday, 30 October 2009

Remembering

C is the spit of her big brother. She has the same velvety head with its soft covering of black fuzz, the same lips with a tiny milk blister forming in the bow, and the same newborn blue eyes. Is it any wonder then that I'm spending most of my time telling her she's a 'good boy'?

Must. Remember. Baby. Is. A. Girl.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

C

48 hours ago I was tossing and turning in bed, trying to find a comfy position for my giant bump, now I have two children, and it being almost 3 am as I type this (and 6 am as I finish it, one fingered and with a rest inbetween) of course we are sleepless again. Sitting on the sofa breastfeeding my little girl*, I wouldn't swap it for the world.

So you know the key facts, which are that she arrived quickly, but safely, at home, but I wouldn't be a good blogger if I left you hanging like that would I?! Let's talk details (again, squeamish types look away now).

It seems that after all that hanging around, once she had decided to come out C just couldn't wait. I spent most of the morning of her birth pottering around, wondering if the crampy 'Braxton Hicks' feelings I had would come to anything. Around 10 I called my husband and said I thought there might be pattern and did he want to come home. In the back of my mind I did worry that I might be dragging him away from his beloved office for a false alarm. Yes I could now predict that my bump would tighten every five minutes or so for about 20 seconds at a time, but it didn't hurt. I put it to the back of my mind though and carried on with some chores. Putting the cover back onto our Maxi Cosi carseat was probably my proudest achievement, a task that's almost impossible to accomplish even when not in labour.

My Mum arrived for a long arranged date to play with T. I told her things felt like they were getting started and she arranged to take him on a bus and tram adventure to her house, giving me some space and peace and meaning I could relax even if the tightenings turned out to be just another trick my overdue body was playing on me. At 11.30 they left and I went upstairs for a lie down.

Once on the bed I felt the tightenings ramp up. I put on my iPod and listened to Marie Mongan's Rainbow Relaxation, the hypnobirthing script which had lulled me to sleep almost every night for the past four months. The practice paid off, and although the cramps were getting harder to ignore I was managing to breathe through them with ease, inflating an imaginary balloon with each contraction, counting up and down to 20.

It's only because of the script that I am able to time much of what happened with the rest of my labour. I stayed on the bed, on all fours, breathing through two plays of the Rainbow Relaxation, a total of 50 minutes. I heard my husband call the midwife to warn her I was in early labour, and start to organise the birthing pool, the low hum of the pump intruding into my headphones.

Then suddenly whatever I was doing stopped working. The Rainbow Relaxation started for a third time, but the surges were so strong I could now no longer concentrate on the breathing. From far away I could hear myself groaning, and knew the contractions were suddenly much closer together. I called for my husband who, although having completed nine tenths of the hypnobirthing course with a look of disdain on his face, remarkably managed to coach me back into the correct pattern, which helped, albeit temporarily. Despite my clinging to him for dear life, he left to call the midwife again and ask her to start the 15 minute journey from the hospital to our house. He returned and I hung my arms around his neck, levering myself off the bed in a desperate attempt to relieve some of the pressure I was feeling at the bottom of my bump. My waters went all over the bedroom carpet.

Despite being encouraged to get back onto the bed (which in hindsight was probably my husband's futile attempt to protect the new landing carpet from, erm, leakage) I demanded to go to the toilet, hobbling doubled over to the bathroom. The pressure was too great to allow me to sit on the loo, so I got onto the floor.

'I'm pushing'
'No you're not'
'I am, I can't stop it'
'Calm down, the midwife will be here in a minute'

More of my waters released

'I can feel the head'
'No you can't'
'I can, I can feel it, the baby's coming'
'Stop touching it you might do some damage'
'I'm pushing!'
'Hold on, the midwife's on her way'

'I need to stand up'
'You'll slip on the wet floor and hurt yourself, stay down there'

I hoiked myself up on the sink

'The baby's coming ... catch her'
'HEEEEEEEELLLP!'

And so C was delivered into her disbelieving father's arms. His shout for help was answered by the midwife who had just arrived and let herself in through the (thankfully open) front door. She came up the stairs to hear the baby's first cries and began a well rehearsed operation to get us wrapped, warmed and fully checked out. The time was 12.45 pm, just an hour and a quarter after I'd gone for that first lie down, and we were back in bed, this time plus one. More towels than I thought we owned were called into service. Sadly though I'm not sure the landing carpet will ever recover.

I did it. I had my homebirth. The baby arrived safely. No pain relief. I am superwoman!

*learning to BF lying down is high on my list this time. T didn't get the hang of it until around three months when he was a bit bigger and I realised the joy of feeding and sleeping at the same time. C had her first feed lying on a pillow next to me, but it's been hit and miss since. Still, I shouldn't complain, it's not like we're not going to get chance to practice is it?!

Monday, 26 October 2009

She's here!

Baby C, named for her great grandma who sadly never had chance to meet her, was born at home this afternoon. Her entrance was a little unorthodox, after only just over an hour of active labour she was delivered on the bathroom floor by Daddy as the midwife let herself into the front door! She cried straight away, weighs 8lb 4oz and is feeding beautifully. More details once we've got our heads round it all.

Oh, and I never made the acupuncture.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

40+9

This baby is officially more lazy than her brother. He'd managed to find his way out by 3.35 am on the 289th day of my pregnancy. Today, as the clock ticks down towards day 290, I am officially fed up.

My inlaws are visiting from Essex this weekend. It's their 40th wedding anniversary and my brother and sister in law, niece and nephew are in tow. They're staying elsewhere (they wouldn't all fit in the house, even if we didn't have all of the birth pool paraphenalia hanging around the place, plus I don't want anyone seeing me in this intense hormonal state!) and there's no denying they would have loved to have been meeting the baby today. Not as much as I would have been of course!

As the days pass, I'm finding it harder to manage the emotions of being VHP (Very Heavily Pregnant) and absolutely concede I am harder still to live with. My husband has done both of the weekend get ups with our lively toddler. Yesterday, knowing I hadn't slept well, he took him to the Museum of Science and Industry for some train time, even managing to feed him lunch, take him to play with friends and pick up a yummy M&S tea on the way home. As they walked through the door, happy and tired, having had a full day to nap, read and catch up with guilty TV pleasures, of course I cried at the fact that I'd 'missed them' and moaned about being lonely. Talk about a kick in the teeth. Contrary, or hormonal, barely covers it. But despite being well aware of how irrational I was being, I was unable to stop the tears from coming.

Today I have tried to spend the baby out. The Boden Spring preview, replacing a lost baby toy via ebay and a massively expensive but lovely to look at baby seat thing. I am still pregnant. Poor and pregnant in fact.

Tomorrow, sweep number two and acupuncture. Oh, and my Mum. I think this is a 'my head on her lap' occasion.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

40+8

Yesterday, in another attempt to get the baby moving, we went with friends to play in the snow at Chill Factore in Manchester. T loved the special children's area, especially the super fast slide, giant building blocks and being dragged around at high speed in a kid-sized innertube.

Once I had managed to pull on the snowboots provided (even I couldn't justify wearing my Birkies in the snow, despite the fact they're infinitely easier to wear, not requiring bump navigation like 'proper' shoes) I surprised myself by managing to enjoy it. You'd have to be really, really grumpy (+10? +11?) not to be cheered by a squeal of excited toddlers. Plus I had a giant hot chocolate with marshmallows afterwards.

Of course what you all want to know is whether the cold and exertion managed to encourage the baby to head for the exit. Although I went to bed early, my bump firm and with some familiar PMT style backache, this morning I am definitely very much still pregnant. Snow baby news I'm afraid.

Friday, 23 October 2009

Lines 2

On Monday 9th February, I was seeing lines. This morning, as I got up for the seventeenth post-midnight wee and caught sight of my giant, low-slung bump in the bathroom mirror, I was seeing lines of a different sort.

Oh yes, after two pregnancies, more than 18 months of growing babies, in what will be my last week of child carrying I have finally succumbed to the dreaded stretch marks.

I've not been completely immune until now of course. My thighs bear the tell-tale silvery spider tracks of having once been a size 10. That was a long time ago though, as evidenced by the fact they've faded to almost nothing. The new lines on my tummy - which until now has been pillowy, white and clear - are angry, red and raw, showing that as I approach the end of my tether, my skin has reached the end of its too.

Come on now, one week late is just not cricket. BABY OUT!

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Dick van Dyke

If you are squeamish, please look away now. Similarly, if you don't want to know me in a kind of intimate gynacological way, STOP READING. Now, don't say I didn't warn you.

The baby has still not made an appearance. I am 40 weeks and six days pregnant today, which is somewhere between seven and eight on the frustration scale. T was nine days late. I keep being told that I'll have a sense of humour failure just before I go into labour. I don't like to keep reminding people that I don't have much of a sense of humour anyway (especially as it appears I'm managing to get away with it) but I do believe that by Sunday, should the little one not have made an appearance, I'll be lying on the floor, screeching toddler style and thumping my fists.

I remember that the NCT classes we took during my first pregnancy told us that women in the final stages of giving birth often claimed that they 'couldn't do it' and 'wanted to go home'. I distinctly remember trying out those words an hour or so after I'd arrived in hospital, in the hope that by some sort of midwife magic I'd end up being further along than I thought. I wasn't of course. I'm not sure whether the same reverse psychology would work with tantrums though? Maybe if I force one out it will, well, force the other one out too! Got to be worth a try.

In the mean time I am trying a variety of old wives tales to try and get my labour started. Curry? Check. Raspberry Leaf Tea to tone the uterus? Check. Evening Primrose Oil to soften the cervix? Check. Bouncing on the birthing ball to move the baby down into the correct position? Check. Realising it's impossible to browse the internet whilst doing so and falling off, more than once? Check. I have drawn the line at pineapple, mainly because you need to eat 27 whole ones within 20 minutes of them having fallen from the tree or something for the specific enzyme to have any effect, and there aren't any pineapple trees in Ramsbottom.

Yesterday it was time to get a bit more brutal, and after an appointment with the midwife I volunteered for a membrane sweep. To my disappointment this didn't mean her bursting into a verse of 'Chim chiminey, Chim chiminey, Chim chim cher-ee!' whilst Dick van Dyke kicked up his heels in the corner, but did involve a quick rummage about and some cervix related news. Not great. Despite the baby's head being very low (good sign) the route out is posterior and 'unfavourable' (bad sign) and I might have a bit of a wait yet.

On the plus side the baby seems very happy in there. She's wriggly, although less so as she runs out of room, with a lovely strong heartbeat. My blood pressure is normal, which is astounding frankly given the amount of time I've dedicated to stressing over WHY SHE HASN'T COME OUT YET.

If I manage to get past the weekend without having given birth, Monday promises another sweep plus acupuncture in an attempt to get the baby moving. In the mean time, pass me that ice-cream, and budge up, I need a nap.

Loser

I didn't win anything in the Manchester Blog Awards but to be fair I hadn't really expected to, and it was lovely, and surprising, just to be nominated.

Special congratulations go to fellow Mummy blogger (who's much more eloquent than me of course!) My Shitty Twenties who won in not just one but two categories. Her writing is warm and witty and I'd highly recommend you bob over there for a read through some of her posts.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Manchester Blog Awards 2

It's the Manchester Blog Awards tonight. Much as I'd love to be at Band on the Wall with the rest of the nominees to hear the results of the judge's vote, I am the size of half a house and wary of going out after dark in case I sneeze and the baby pops out or something. They've only just done up BOTW, I'm pretty sure they wouldn't appreciate the mess on their nice new floor.

So best of luck to those nominated, there are some tremendous writers out there and I've loved discovering new blogs through the shortlist. I'm heading to bed shortly and will report the results in the morning.

Oh my ...

When T is learning to say something new there is always a lot of repetition.
When T is learning to say .... no, not really.

On the way to and from nursery we drive over the high road which has a fantastic view of Scout Moor, our friendly local wind farm. On clear days, the statuesque blades rotate gently against the blue sky. We've not quite got as far as 'turbine' yet but T is very taken by the giant white battlements protecting our Lancashire village from the Pennine hills ... 'look Mummy, windmills, turning round and round'.

As his language and understanding become more sophisticated, there is more to say. As the road dips down past the traffic lights and we enter the final stretch home T used to say 'windmills gone!', to which my reply is now 'they've not gone, we just can't see them any more'.

And thus it starts. 'Mummy say it ... mummy say it ... mummy say it' and I repeat the sentence up to ten times, T listening to the words, rolling them in his mouth, until he's confident enough to repeat them back to me - 'not gone, can't see them any more ... I DID IT!' followed by clapping.

It's not black and white though of course, and sometimes there are words and phrases I have to repeat only once or twice before he takes them and runs with them, whether I want him to or not.

I picked T up from nursery yesterday and strapped him into the carseat. We began the usual 'way home' routine, talking about what he'd done that day, choosing which way to go at the traffic lights ('turn RIGHT Mummy') and discussing what to have for tea. Then it started. Giggling. Not normal giggling, the soft rumble as I tickle a round toddler tummy or kiss a sensitive little boy's neck, but naughty giggling. Crafty giggling.

'What's the matter T?'
'Oh my ...' (dissolves into fits of laughter)
'Pardon?'
I was laughing myself now, toddler enthusiasm being pretty infectious
'Oh my ... oh my ... oh my ...' (he was gasping for breath by this point) 'Oh my ... BOLLOCKS!'

Yes, I am that parent, the one who, once or twice (honestly!) might have used a curse word within my child's hearing. I might sometimes say 'oh my god' too and so, of course, he has combined the two into a whole new level of maternal humiliation. Not just swearing, but creative swearing! T was inordinately pleased once he'd got the words out, and even had the gumption to try the 'Mummy say it' line.

I did the obvious of course, talked at his level about 'naughty words' which he shouldn't say, but didn't make too much of the issue, not wanting to encourage his contrary side into repeating his new phase at grandma, or (worse) nursery. Then, as he tucked into his tea, I buried my head in a cushion and laughed and laughed, and resolved to watch my words much more carefully from now on.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

40+4

Massive congratulations to blog friend Muddling Along Mummy who, despite a hugely difficult pregnancy, has given birth to a beautiful baby girl.

Meanwhile I am tapping my fingers and still waiting for our baby to make an appearance.

When asked how old he is, T insists that he is 'free' (as in the number, rather than available for customers John Inman style). It brings its problems of course. In reality he's a petite just-two year old, still wearing trousers designed for six to nine month old babies, but he has ideas above his station. One of these is that he can reach the pedals and self-propel some of the pre-school bikes in the nursery playground. He can't of course. Well, we thought he couldn't. Last week, perched on the very edge of the seat, he managed to push his tiptoes onto the pedals and went. His face was the very picture of glee, I'd imagine there was cackling. Then, disaster. In an attempt to steer away from a group of his friends of course T lost control and tipped onto the soft-surface, the bike falling on top of him.

When I went to do the nursery pick-up, T had a lovely pink cheekbone, over the weekend that's developed into a cracking shiner. Yes, my little boy has a black eye. He's remarkably unbothered by the whole thing, except to stick out his bottom lip whenever anyone asks about it, giving his face a rub and saying 'ouchie'. Drama Queen, much? It's telling that as nursery were frantically trying to apply a cold compress post-bump he was all pumping legs crying and reaching for 'my bike' as one of the big girls rode off into the sunset.

Anyway, a black eye would surely spoil the 'new baby meets big brother' photos, which is why, I tell myself, 'baby dister' is still tucked up warm an snug inside. T's eye is now a lovely lemon and lime colour, which I reckon gives us only another couple more days to wait.

In this overdue no man's land, my hormones mean I can justify anything!

Sunday, 18 October 2009

40+2

And I feel like I have stepped out of the back of the wardrobe and into a sort of Baby Narnia. Always pregnant but never giving birth. Weep.

Sadly there isn't anyone to ply me with Turkish Delight to make me feel better, but at least it isn't snowing. This is a Very Good Thing given I can reach down past the bump to pull/zip on winter boots and am STILL wearing my summer Birkies which are falling apart on my feet.

Come on baby, it's time to come out to meet Mummy now.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Adventures in Speech

I really should have started a diary for things like this, I'm so worried about forgetting all of the little sentences which make me say 'wow!'

I still have T's incomplete baby record book to fill in at some point though, so perhaps I'm getting ahead of myelf. In the mean time, some recent speech gems ...

T's pyjama bottoms are much too long. I helped him pull them on, then jokingly tugged them up under his armpits. 'Oooh look, Simon Cowell trousers' I said (cue husband sniggers). T looked at me scathingly. 'No Mummy, I'm a fisherman!'

On walking down the stairs: 'I want to hold the bannister'. At the bottom of the stairs: 'bye bye bannister!' (where do they pick up words like this from?!)

When not wanting to go to nursery: 'I want a Mummy cuddle ... on the sofa ... sitting down ... and CBeebies'. SO much more effective than a 'refusing to get dressed' tantrum!

My little boy is growing up so quickly. And look, it's my due date, and I haven't even mentioned it once .....

Monday, 12 October 2009

Something's-going-on-itis

Yes, I know it's a bit of a mouthful, but I didn't make it up. After a couple of days of not being quite himself, nursery have made the official diagnosis. There is something going on and T knows all about it.

I'm talking about the baby of course. Sorry, I am aware, in a sort of 'had slightly too much to drink' kind of way, that I am going on and on about my pregnancy and the impending arrival at the moment and that people are probably willing me to shut up, but in a 'Pinot Grigio has my tongue' kind of way I'm also utterly unable to stop.

Anyway, I know that older siblings can 'regress' when a new baby comes along. Although T's showing a willingness to potty train, we've deliberately held back, moving from my beloved cloth stash to extortionately priced Bob the Builder branded pull-up nappy pants, meaning he can use the big boy toilet when the mood takes him but I'm not constantly worried about keeping the living room carpet dry. In the next couple of weeks (days?!) I'll be changing a lot of nappies. An extra few shouldn't be too much of an issue. We'll tackle training proper once we're more settled. Perhaps around the time he'll be five?

There is no denying though that despite his fierce independence and constantly improving language skills T is very keen on reminding me that he's the baby at the moment. His new favourite phrase is 'I want a mummy cuddle', followed by a leap at speed into my arms whence he clings on like one of those clip on koala toys. No amount of pressing his shoulder blades together can persuade him to release the iron grip, which sometimes also involves licking my neck.

He's developed a fascination with my breasts, hardly surprising given they were a source of food and comfort for more than sixteen months of his life, but worrying when his rummaging down my front pulls my baggy maternity tops down to my navel, exposing me to passers by. Still, the koala cling-on does do a good job of disguising that.

Each morning drop-off at nursery and bedtime kiss goodnight has been wet with tears, and our bed home to three (and 3/4!) for much of the last week.

Then, the final straw. I woke T from his nap (that's one baby habit I'll be very happy for him to keep!) and took a strangely quiet boy downstairs. We sat together at the table, ready for lunch before our afternoon music class. He started to cry. I asked what was wrong.

'Mummmmmmeeeeeeeeee, I want a dodie*'

Right. My two year old son, who never took a dummy, even when we set aside our rubber soother snobbery and desperately held it in to stop the constant crying/feeding/crying cycle, now wants something to suck on.

We never got to our music class. Instead I let my boy cling to me, feeling his sobbing chest heave against mine and his tears drop onto my front. We stuck together on the sofa, and I murmured into his ear, stroking his hair. There are big changes coming. I'm a grown-up, with a bump, and a husband to moan at, and to be honest I'm pretty terrified. Why should my two year old feel any differently.

Something's going on. But are we ready for it?

*colloquial for dummy

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Goodbye

How do you explain death to a toddler?

My son is a lucky boy. He has a full complement of grandparents in rude health who adore him, and is cosseted in a family web of safety and security. I would do anything within my power to protect him from sadness or harm. I hold his hand as we descend the stairs, and when bad dreams wake him in the night even in my elephantine state I'm willing to shove up a bit so he can go back to sleep in his preferred comfort position, snuggled up on the edge of Daddy's pillow holding a fistful of my hair.

I realise this could be so much worse - my husband lost his beloved grandmother earlier this year - but we have been faced with the loss of one of the family pets, and at just over two, T 'knows'.

The rabbits predated the boy of course. Five and a half years ago with a patch of grass and too much time on our hands we relieved a colleague of two unwanted baby dwarf lops. When we arrived to pick up our new arrivals the mother (human, not rabbit obviously, this not being Watership Down) said 'I know I'm biased, but they're really bonny bunnies', and Bonny and Bigwig (OK, so maybe it was a little Watership Down) were named.

We lost Bonny a few years ago, before T was born, and replaced him with Bernadette, a completely bonkers rescue rabbit fond of chasing her own tail and trying to escape. Bigwig, older, slower and more sensible, was always T's favourite, happy to sit on the grass and be stretched towards, crawled towards and eventually toddled towards, always darting out of the way at just the right moment, leaving my boy giggling in a heap in the garden. T could say Bigwig long before he could say 'raddit'.

In the way of all things though, Bigwig had grown old and tired. As the weather cooled this autumn and he failed to fatten and fluff up in preparation for the winter ahead, we knew the end was in sight. He wasn't eating or cleaning himself and had a horrible recurring eye infection. Obviously miserable, we sadly made the decision to have him put down. My husband, tears in his eyes, made the trip to the vet yesterday morning and buried Bigwig alongside Bonny, under the rosebush in the front garden.

But how to explain to T?

I definitely didn't want to say that our missing pet had 'gone to sleep', potentially leaving our toddler terrified of closing his eyes, but talk of stars and heaven doesn't sit particularly well with our agnosticism. With T's diary stuffed full of hospital and clinic appointments, I was similarly loathe to tell him that the vet (or the 'rabbit doctor' as he calls him) couldn't make Bigwig better, which was why he hadn't come home. So what to say? Luckily, two wet days mean we haven't been out in the garden since yesterday morning. T hasn't yet noticed his furry friend's absence, buying my husband and I another day to get our story straight before the inevitable questions.

In need of a change of scenery, we trudged around the Trafford Centre yesterday afternoon. Dodging the hyper-keen early Christmas shoppers, we took T to John Lewis to choose a new toy as a present for his baby sister. Once he had been persuaded away from the big red buses, he selected a super soft, snowy white, floppy eared bunny. Snuggling it close to his chest he said 'like Bigwig, for baby'. And that made us smile.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

It's not a competition ...

... words which are only spoken when it IS of course.

There is sickness in the B household. After being deaf in one ear for more than a week, I finally dragged myself to the doctor yesterday to be diagnosed with an ear and throat infection and be prescribed antibiotics in a bid to get me 'tip top' for labour. Yes, those were the doctor's actual words. I stepped through the sliding doors and into 1950.

Not to be outdone, my husband is also off work sick. He has aching muscles and (again) a sore throat. Thankfully the lack of a temperature means it's unlikely to be Swine Flu, and having checked him carefully for rashes and forced him to look into the heart of one of our energy saving bulbs until he saw spots for a good few hours, I'm pretty sure it's nothing more sinister. After a phone consultation, his doctor prescribed ibuprofen, which is an over the counter drug. I am adamant therefore that he is Not As Sick As Me. I got a real prescription and everything. And that's before taking my almost 39 weeks of pregnancy into account.

He's not having any of it of course. We follow each other around the house, coughing pathetically, draping ourselves over the sofa, fighting over who gets the most room and who has to get up to make the drinks. We nap, and quarrel over the duvet, best pillows and whose wriggling has caused the stretchy bottom sheet to come away, leaving us lying on the raw sheeny mattress underneath. When the baby monitor squarks we argue whether 'poorly and on maternity leave' trumps 'poorly and tired', and the loser both gets to give our son his breakfast and later craftily deposit him on the bed with the still sleeping parent whilst sneaking off to the bathroom for a bit of respite and to gloat.

As I sigh heavily, turning over and yanking my share of the duvet from wherever he's squirreled it, waiting for the antibiotics to kick in, I say a silent prayer of thanks for the fact my husband is, underneath it all, a real workaholic, and planning to go back into the office tomorrow. He can't be that sick then. And I need a drink. This is one competition I'm not going to lose!

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Practicalities

I finally finished work on Thursday evening at 37+6 days pregnant. 37 weeks is considered 'term' and had I gone into labour at any point over the last week or so I'd have still been able to have my planned homebirth. The midwife visited on Monday, and having given our house and bump the green light (ambulance access in case of emergency, baby in the correct position) gave me a list of things to procure before B-day. Although of course I could go ahead without, these are the little items which apparently will make the whole business a lot simpler.

Some of the orders weren't a surprise, plenty of towels is perhaps one of the oldest labour cliches, and we have already procured a packet of B&Q decorator's sheets to waterproof the lounge floor. We seem to own a plethora of buckets, but I wanted a new one which hadn't previously been used to clean the bathroom floor or for a hungover husband to vomit in. I was confused when it was suggested I procure 'a large piece of tupperware' for the placenta though. Apparently this is so it can be inspected, if required, before disposal. Tupperware? Tupperware? Much as the thought of my baby's internal life support system fascinates me (last time I paid the dinner plate sized cartoon red blood cell scant regard, much to my regret when I eventually came round from the birth) am I really going to want to wash out its container, and perhaps retell the tale whilst producing a large portion of fruit salad in the same box at a family picnic? I have settled for a large plastic box which once held washing tablets.

The box sits in the living room, along with a large brown envelope containing the surgical gloves the midwife will wear to deliver the baby and a sterilised mouth piece for the Entonox which, I am assured, will be provided at the requisite time. There are two small vials of Syntometrine in the fridge, should the placenta need a little help in its journey from uterus to outside world, and one of Vitamin K on the windowsill. We have a pool, pump, liner and even (to my husband's disgust) a sieve.

All we need now is the baby!

Friday, 2 October 2009

Manchester Blog Awards

I'm surprised and of course very pleased to have been nominated in the Best New Blog category at the 2009 Manchester Blog Awards. There are some supremely talented Manc-based writers out there, and I'm amazed that my hormonal child-centered ramblings have found a small space amongst them.

If you nominated me, thank you. If you're a new visitor, directed here from the shortlist, welcome and I hope you enjoy the read. If you're an old visitor, I hope my newly commenced maternity leave means I'll be able to post more often very soon.

The results will be announced at a do at Band on the Wall on October 21. If baby two has not put in an appearance by then I hope to be able to make it.

Pizza

My mother is a technophobe. In the years since we bought her first (and only) mobile phone it is telling that she's only had to top up the credit twice. It pains me to say it, but she might as well carry a small-ish stone around in her handbag, so rarely is it switched on, within earshot or of any practical use whatsoever.

Actually I am doing her a great disservice. When it comes to the crunch, with a mammoth effort (quite possibly involving roping in one of the errant teens hanging out behind her house) she can compose and send a text message. There have been precisely three ... the first (under my tutelage) said 'dear eve i luv you mum', the extra letter in love and any punctuation being a step too far. The second was to my husband after he'd left a message to tell her my first labour was relatively advanced and we were heading to hospital, and said 'on my way'. The third, a couple of weeks ago, was the longest yet. 'In America there is a bumper sticker which says home delivery is for pizzas'.

I am 38 weeks pregnant and planning a home birth for my second child, and the text is indicative of a general parental rumbling which has become louder as B-day becomes closer, disapproval nudging just beneath the surface that I am about to attempt something foolhardy, risky and somehow just a little unsavoury.

I'm not of course. Earlier this year, a study of more than half a million women demonstrated that 'low risk' labours supervised by a midwife are just as safe at home as they are in hospital. Given my baby is head down, in the correct position and I've had a previous vaginal birth I see little reason to trouble the soon-to-be-condemned maternity unit at Fairfield Hospital. I've been loaned a birth pool, and there's no risk that someone else will be in it at the critical moment, and have my midwife's approval. Anecdotal evidence suggests that being at home amid familiar surroundings helps promote the release of oxytocin, the happy hormone which helps labour progress naturally.

So why are there still so many doubters? I think for so many women, indeed generations of women, including my mother, home birth is just totally removed from their sphere of experience. They can't see why anyone wouldn't want to rock up at a lovely clean, white hospital filled with experienced professionals and hard drugs and give birth to a baby without having to worry about getting blood on the carpet. My Mum's concerns are that her grandchild and first born daughter get through labour as safely as possible, and to her, that means surrendering to the consultant-led unit, with its monitors, lights and beeps. And until more women choose to give birth at home, nudging the percentage of births from 2.something upwards, how can I be expected to to change her mind?

I'm treating the situation diplomatically of course. I laughed at the text and continue to remind my Mum that should the remainder of my pregnancy deviate from the norm I will of course reasess whether a home birth is still the right choice. As I type this on my sofa though, I look around the room filled with photos, toys and familiar clutter and know that, given half a chance, this is where I would like my daughter to be born. Straight into the heart of the family who are desperate to meet her.

And being at home, if I have a sudden mid-labour urge for a deep pan with extra pepperoni, I can, from my own phone of course, order a pizza.