Round 2 – ding, ding!!

No quicker than you could shake your tail feather we are due again with baby number 2. Okay so people have left shorter gaps than us but I still call my first one ‘baby’ (not sure that will ever stop) and we’re intrigued to see whether she’ll be a caring big sister or develop green eyes. Sibling rivalry to be covered another time I think!

So this time, we’re much more relaxed and not interrogating our apps and books each week on what the latest developments should be but I do sometimes look at just the one I’ve installed on my phone this time which tells me that our baby is the size of a bell pepper/ capsicum right now. Hmm yummy – like that they’re all food related… when our first was born she was so scrumptious we did threaten to eat her a few times :)

More musings to come. Must promise to not be so slack this time! Over and out for now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Getting crafty!

A crafty afternoon spent today at Creative Biscuit in South Woodford with the NCT group painting two heart shaped pottery plaques complete with baby footprints to gift to the grandparents as keepsakes.  Here they are before being fired in the kiln and the finished product will be ready to pick up in just a few days. Very exciting!

Heart shaped plaques

I’ll be back to pick up my goodies and maybe to have another go minus baby for one of their monthly late painting nights. A great concept and with homemade goodies to eat, it’s a lovely place to hang out and unleash your creative side.

[UPDATED]

Here’s the finished product a few days later after being glazed and 18hrs in the kiln!!

Finished footprints

Cutting the cord

Today’s press carried a story about cutting the umbilical cord too early. It is beneficial to keep the cord attached after birth until it stops pulsating to enable the blood from the placenta to travel to the baby which then prevents anaemia and iron deficiencies. I learnt this in our NCT classes but hadn’t realised that NHS practice and NICE guidelines call for the cord to be cut straight away and according to the article most births are still performed this way. My own experience in an NHS ward was total support and proactive encouragement to let the cord pulsate and since we were in a position to we did, before daddy cut the cord.  On the other extreme you could opt for a lotus birth where the cord and placenta are left attached until they naturally detach 3 to 10 days later. What was your experience?

Sunny days, everythings a-ok!

The recent burst of sunny days and being deluged by nursery rhymes that I’m rapidly relearning (with the actions and faces) resulted in the Sesame Street theme tune rotating around my head but also the chance to get some much needed vitamin D and take the little one out and about on a few trips.

Her first adventure was a meet up with a few other babies in Greenwich Park. There’s lots of public transport options to get there but we drove and parking up on a weekday was pretty easy. The pay and display is currently 30p per 15 minutes (pricey but convenient) and we entered on Charlton Way parking in Greenwich Park Car Park South not far from the Observatory.

We kicked off with a walk to see if we could find some deer in the Wilderness Deer Park who were lurking in the distance.

Wilderness Deer Park

Taking in the view from the top we then headed downhill for a yummy lunch at the Maritime Museum Café. It’s pram friendly and there are changing facilities inside. On a warmer day a picnic is a great plan and there’s lots of green space to plant yourself on.

View from Greenwich Park

Of course after coming all the way downhill after a quick jaunt around Greenwich Market, we trekked back up hill, buggies in hand, for an ultimate thigh workout. Great for new mums trying to shed the pounds!

Greenwich Market

If you have time, a walk around the pretty shops in Blackheath Village are also enticing. We definitely plan to go back on another sunny day as we literally just scratched the surface of all there is to see and do in Greenwich!

Sometimes only retail therapy will do

Becoming a parent is definitely like joining an unofficial club of sorts. On a recent rainy day retail therapy trip to Westfield Stratford I discovered how easy shopping can be with a baby.  Despite the fact that it was the last day of the Easter holiday’s and the parents and kids were out in force, I managed to navigate through the aisles with relative ease and got the biggest changing rooms going in the shops I tried clothes on in. After mostly wearing maternity clothes and slowly getting back in to my old clothes it was nice to update the wardrobe a bit! Prints are definitely having their moment at the moment!

The best discovery was the existence of ‘Parent Rooms‘ – something I never knew I’d be so grateful for! There are three in the main shopping centre and the larger department stores (M&S & John Lewis) have smaller ones too so you’re never too far should you be faced with the prospect of screaming bambino! The Westfield ones have breast feeding and bottle feeding rooms, couched areas with food warming facilities, nappy changing stations, parent and child toilets, a play area and CBeebies on the television. Brilliant! Just one gripe was the door itself wasn’t clearly signposted… maybe that was on purpose though to preserve the sanctuary of the ‘club’!

Here’s what they look like!

Private breastfeeding room - great chair!

Westfield private breastfeeding room – great chair!

Play area, parent rest area and nappy changing units

Westfield play area, parent rest area and nappy changing units

Nappy changing unit

Westfield nappy changing unit

John Lewis nappy changing area

John Lewis nappy changing area

Shared breastfeeding room

John Lewis shared breastfeeding room

The birth

Everyone I know who has given birth recently have all had varying experiences of the labour itself, the teams assisting on the birth and the afterbirth. What we did have in common was that most of us did not actually follow our birth plans. I never made it to the Queen’s Birth Centre in the end but managed an induced midwife led birth on a couple of paracetamol and gas and air with the help of the lovely midwife Isabel and my husband in the labour room. They empowered me to control the environment with the dimmed lighting I wanted, put my play list on rotation and helped me try a few birthing positions other than sitting up in a bed. Unfortunately I was also wired up to a baby heartbeat monitor the whole time and a cannula for water and just in case surgery was an outcome.

It all started with the induction at 9am on Thursday morning recommended by the community midwife at 10 days plus my due date (I’d love to debate more on whether that was entirely necessary at some point). A new outpatient induction had just been introduced but with the condition that all goes well during an initial monitoring period. In my case, I didn’t get to take the propess and go home until labour started as we’d intended. The propess pessary works over a 24 hour period slowly releasing to soften the cervix. While the drug doesn’t work for everyone with prostin being the usual follow up drug, my contractions began at 7pm on the same day. By midnight strong contractions less than 5 minutes apart had begun in the antenatal ward and it was time to recall the husband and walk over to the labour room. A ‘normal’ first stage of labour can take up to 12 hours and in my case it took 4 hours with the second stage of delivery taking 2 hours. With the timings so compressed so was the time I had to manage any build up of the painful contractions. Gas and air were my new best friends at this point! Not having been on a bender in quite some time, four puffs later I was in a kind of very temporary drunken haze.

By the second stage the gas and air began to not be as effective in managing the pain but it was something to distract away from the intensity of it all. I actually remember falling asleep every now and again in between contractions with the sheer exhaustion of it all. Just before 6am the next day there she was, head first, eyes apparently wide open gazing around the room before the relatively easy bit of pushing out the body. She’s remained so curious to this day! And through all the pain there is the most amazing high of being in love with your baby and yes I’d do it all over again (the oxytocin effect)!

Happy seven week birthday little one! Off we go to Westfield to celebrate (and get some new shoes!)…

Then and Now

A belated welcome!

Hello new life of parenthood and welcome to our mesmerising baby girl who is seven weeks old tomorrow… how time has literally flown by!! Well we’ve survived an induction (she was 11 days late), labour, umpteen visitors and on the plus side, the eye bags are improving and as spring is finally springing, we are enjoying getting out and about and meeting lots of other wonderful babies. So there’s lots to continue talking about here and as time permits I’m looking forward to blogging more!

130 million babies

As we begin week 41 (still no baby in sight), I took a look at a documentary film about childbirth by director Brian Hill. This was not for the squeamish and I might have timed the viewing a bit better post my own pending labour experience, however it made me feel very lucky to live where I do. In a world where 130 million babies are born each year, this is a purposely hard-hitting film set in Sierra Leone, Cambodia and America.

In Sierra Leone, women and babies die during childbirth at some of the highest rates in the world from issues that could have been resolved with a relatively simple procedure. The doctor in the film repeats a few times that Sierra Leone is a rich country. Its wealth stems from natural resources such as diamonds and iron but this wealth is poorly distributed.

In America, 1 in 3 children will grow up to be obese, infant mortality is high for some sectors of society and this film looks in particular at a homeless family welcoming a new addition to their fold. In Cambodia, the spirit of an abused mother and her son is touching as their story is told. Here it is sheer poverty that impacts the ability of the mother to feed and educate her children.

Warning – once again, this is not for the squeamish but is intended to stoke your anger – just a little! As Brian Hill says: “There is enough money to go around and there are enough resources to ensure that every women should be able to give birth in a safe and clean environment, attended by skilled health professionals.”

Happy V-Day

No not that one, the other one! If you haven’t heard about it already, today is the 15 year anniversary of V-Day ending violence against women. This year Eve asks us to dance, rise and demand an end to violence.

So whether you’re joining in a Harlem Shake flash mob, doing it Gangnam style or just waddling like me, happy V-Day to you. If you’re in the UK you can join in the latest events here.

By the by, we are obviously now post-term and there is only so much cake I can bake before I’ve eaten my body weight in the stuff… more spice and raspberry leaf tea tonight!

2 milestones

Today we hit two BIG milestones. First of all it’s our baby’s due date and we’ve been having lots of ‘chats’ with baby about how we’re more than ready to meet our little one. I’m also trying to avoid tomorrow’s prospect/offer of a membrane sweep when I see my midwife tomorrow!

Secondly, this weekend I hit a six month milestone of daily year long yoga practice which for the most part I’ve managed to do in some form each day despite growing ever bigger. Our group (the Sadhana crew) were reflecting on the effects of practicing seemingly simple but very precise sequences from the Yogamonks method each day. We reconvene for one weekend each month to progress the practice and talk about our experiences with our teacher. This weekend we discovered that even those of us that weren’t well versed or read on the classic theories and teachings of yoga were already experiencing things like the 8 limbs of yoga and how our movement has a ripple effect on the 5 bodies. The beauty of our practice is that our experiences seem very organic through our commitment. What’s in it for me? This question gets easier to answer with each day and for me it is to be curious, to allow and to discover my connections within myself and to others including my baby who I consider ‘an other’ rather than a half mini-me with as much honesty as I can muster. It’s sometimes hard to explain to anyone not on this journey but a nice analogy from this weekend was that it’s like hearing all the birds sing and once you hear it’s hard to stop listening!

I was reminded of an experience on retreat in May/June last year in Cartagena, Spain with some of the Sadhana crew, some of whom I’d met for the first time when this baby was just a seed in its first few weeks of life. Our challenge was to swim to this rock from the shore (it’s further than it looks!). I remember the cameraderie rather than the competition that it could have been. As our group bond grows stronger, I’d like to say thank you to these lovely, precious people in my life, to our teachers, their teachers and to my husband who gives me space, time, quiet and encouragement to keep going when I’m not with you all. R xx

To the rock