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Posts Tagged ‘labour’

The ‘How-To’ of Parenting

In It's My Year, It's Only Words on 07/01/2012 at 16:57

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It’s funny, since learning I was pregnant and then, nine months later, becoming a parent, my social circle has evolved to largely include fellow mothers, my conversation rotates around issues of nappy contents, which supermarkets are having sales on said nappies, weaning, sleep patterns, buggy model… Believe me, I could go on for days! And my sense of self-judgement has been questioned.

Mothers, and especially new mothers, are an interesting breed – we doubt ourselves constantly, look for reassurance on an almost daily basis and feel guilty over every action we have a hand in …and yet, ultimately we believe we are the only ones who know what is best for our child. Like lionesses fiercely protecting our cubs, occasionally we may look to the rest of the pride for help, but mainly we alone are the ones we rely on to make the right decisions.

We all do things differently. Some mothers are convinced that rigid routine is the way forward while others fly by the seat of their elasticated pants; some mothers feed their babies by bottle while others are staunch advocates of ‘breast is best’; some mothers know every nursery rhyme that was ever written while others rely on the musical numbers from their own childhoods – in the end, the differences are irrelevant because that is what makes us human but the most important thing and the one thing we have in common is the mere fact that we are all mothers.

Every mother I meet has her own way, her own neuroses and methods and while a handful choose to judge the practice of their parental peers – shooting loaded looks when they discover that Rudy goes to bed whenever he chooses to go to sleep while their little one is safely tucked away at 7pm sharp every night – the rest of us acknowledge that there is no right way to parent, there is just the way we each know how.

Motherhood, and indeed parenthood, is a remarkable adventure and one I am honoured to be taking. Being entrusted with the welfare of another person and the opportunity to enable them to realise their potential, their dreams and their own happiness – it is a huge responsibility but one that is hugely rewarding and exciting. Every step is paved with scary moments and moments that are wonderful and we want to share every single one.

Though we are all different, and may agree to disagree on a number of points, the truth is that my best references for ‘mothering’ are my fellow mums. They are the ones I call on for support, advice and reassurance. Because it is their experience, whether 30 years worth or just 3 weeks, that is so invaluable as I learn from how they have handled everything from labour to teething to potty training and beyond.

There is no ‘how-to’ for being a parent but you can always ask for directions along the way.

26 and Pregnant: Should I Stay or Should I Go?

In It's My Year, It's Only Words on 05/05/2012 at 17:06

The first time you leave your baby is one of those moments plagued with reluctance, anxiety and emotion. It throws up any number of concerns and you find yourself concocting excuse after excuse as to why you shouldn’t go out and leave your child.

From that amazing ultrasound scan to meeting her for the first time at the end of an exhausting and painful labour, any thought for yourself (and anyone else) goes right out the window as your life becomes about this little person that started life inside you. So how can you leave her, even for a second?

This week was mine and my husbands’s second wedding anniversary and tonight we have asked my mother to babysit for a couple of hours so we can go on a date and enjoy a meal which we will eat at the same time as each other and not gobble down at record pace.

I – who have had great problem with expressing – have pumped out two bottles of breast milk which are in the fridge should baby get hungry in my absence. However, this past week she’s had a cold and on two occasions has refused to take a bottle from both myself and my husband. This does not bode well…

In addition, as a pleasant development in my otherwise peaceful daughter, she is now showing signs of reflux; arching her back, crying and being unable to settle easily.

All these things have only increased my reluctance to leave her, albeit for a short time. Add to that my anal control complex over how someone else will change her nappy, attend to her needs and of course feed her, and you can see why I may have trouble detaching for one evening.

I know that an evening being a couple is both necessary and a rare luxury to be treasured and I know that I need to learn to relax when it comes to my baby, but it is a difficult thing to consider when she’s barely been apart from me since she was born. The responsibility and love you feel for your child, particularly when they are so small and helpless, is overwhelming so the thought of not being there to tend to their every need – even for a short time – is unthinkable.

But, though I adore my daughter more than words can say, I also love her Daddy and so for him – and yes, for me – I will entrust her care for one evening to my mother who at a similar point in my young life did the same with me. After all, everyone needs a bit of romance in their lives …especially exhausted new parents!

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26 and Pregnant: Mum’s the Word

In It's My Year, It's Only Words on 03/28/2012 at 07:51

So firstly, apologies for my delayed silence… I had a baby.

Yes, four and a half weeks ago I spent 27 hours pushing out my 8lb 8oz daughter, Miss Denny Lily (a.k.a the best thing to ever happen to me)! Four days past my official due date, and following a session of acupuncture and reflexology, numerous long walks, Indian food, sex and every other trick in the book, I went into labour. I won’t go into too much detail (this is not an episode of One Born Every Minute) but suffice to say, my “water birth” lasted about as long as I could handle the pain and then I was crying out for an epidural. The gas and air made me – the non-drinker or smoker or anything else in the substance category – completely high, which was a rather pleasant experience; so much so I was actually laughing through my contractions while I sat in the large birthing pool bath watched over by my husband and midwife! But the pain got too much so I ended up giving birth exactly as I said I wouldn’t – in a bed, strapped to a monitor, with an epidural… and boy, that was the greatest thing ever! I got to 8cm on gas and air alone but my marathon ordeal was too much for me and the pure bliss of pain free contractions after so many hours or agony was the ultimate relief.

Then came my reward at 3.35am – having convinced myself throughout the pregnancy that I was expecting a boy – it was the most incredible surprise to meet my daughter at the end of 9 months. Deep down I had wanted my first to be a girl and 26 years after my mother gave birth to me at the Royal Free, I delivered my daughter in the same hospital.

I had no idea just how overwhelming the experience would be but I am overcome with love for this tiny person who is quite honestly the most beautiful creature I have ever seen.

The first night we spent in the hospital, her and I, as she startled us by stopping breathing shortly after birth when I attempted breastfeeding for the first time (poor kid didn’t know what to do with herself when her mother shoved her double D’s at her face!). That night was traumatic to say the least – she cried, I cried, I called the midwife every 3 minutes to help me figure out what to do, my lovely ward-mate and one fantastic midwife helped me through and finally at 4.30am, after two days of no sleep she settled and I fell asleep with her in my arms.

Once home I lasted barely 24 hours before rushing back to the hospital when on day 3 she became drowsy after I administered myself with codeine to help the pain of after-birth. She was fine, I stuck to paracetamol from then on and the source of my hormonal overload made itself clear that evening when I woke to discover milk leaking from my breasts. Having a baby is life changing and I don’t use this term lightly – it’s terrifying, amazing, frustrating, exhausting, overwhelming, surreal, fantastic and unique for every mother and father.

Every day presents a new challenge but every day gets a little bit easier as you learn more about this little person you brought into the world and grow in confidence. My incredible friend who shared the post-natal ward with me that night comforted me with the knowledge that though I felt helpless and distraught at my own incapability that first night, I would become the expert on my child and I would know more about her than anyone and that despite the crying etc she loved me… and she was right.

Stay tuned as I reveal how I solved the issue of the supermarket shop, learned how to multitask and more…

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26 and Pregnant: What to Expect, When You’re Expecting…

In It's My Year on 02/21/2012 at 07:30

 

Great Expectations

 

Good morning all and happy Pancake Day! It seems in our house we’re not having maple syrup on top of our battered creations but frustrations on top of frustrations. Try as we might not to hold our baby to its scheduled due date, a teensy bit of hope escaped our well-practiced facade over the weekend as a result of experiencing one of the expected signs of labour… the loss of the cervical plug. Sorry, I know you didn’t order a side of mucous with your breakfast.

 

Family got over-excited, facebook traffic went into overdrive and husband and I attempted every known trick in the book to urge things along… to no avail. Baby is apparently perfectly happy in utero.

 

I understand that those who care about us are simply excited to meet our imminent arrival, as are we, however there is an undue amount of pressure inadvertently placed on the expectant parents as the due date nears and passes. Though most are aware of nature’s unpredictability, particularly in the business of baby-making, they still expect things to flow seamlessly. But our baby is not being baked over at Domino’s who have a wonderful track record of delivering pizza ahead of their 35-40 minute predictions; he or she is being baked in my human oven which frustratingly comes without a reliable timer.

 

I have allowed myself to ‘expect’ my stork-bought purchase sooner rather than later thanks in part to medical personnel in the know intimating that delivery is around the corner, but like my new iPhone which O2 promised to deliver next day, the given time came and went more than once before I was able to hold my new device in my hands. And in the business of baby, there is no courier service to call and complain to if you are kept waiting.

 

I am aware that the longer baby remains ensconced in utero, the longer husband and I have to sleep through the night, watch television undisturbed amongst other activities, eat and spend quality couple time; however, there comes a point when you have both come through the 9 month period of pregnancy and like any event that you have been waiting for, curiosity and excitement, and most of all, expectation, get the better of you.

 

Add to that my own personal anxieties about the possibility of labour having to be induced and is it any wonder we’re hoping every day for that first tell-tale contraction. Aside from missing out on the excitement of spontaneous labour, induction for me heralds a whole host of potential problems not least the fact that baby clearly is being forced out against his or her will thus possibly requiring extra medical intervention. Plus there is the issue of how I had intended on giving birth – ideally in the water – however with induction this scenario is less likely, due to my needing to be constantly monitored throughout the labouring process.

 

Of course, my first priority is my baby’s wellbeing and whatever must be to ensure that, will be the path I allow myself to follow, but in the meantime I must find ways to distract myself from the lack of labour pains (not including the ones that come in the form of well-meaning loved ones “checking in” every day!).

 

I guess I must try to remember my father’s wise words, not to expect anything, as difficult as that may be when I am in fact “expecting”.

 

26 and Pregnant: The Due Date

In It's My Year, It's Only Words on 02/01/2012 at 11:11

The end is in sight!

I have decided to dedicate today’s posting to the elusive “due date” – the magic day that supposedly heralds the arrival of baby. However, it is an estimation, a prod at guesswork, an assumption based on menstrual cycles, conception dates and ovulation timings rather than a hard and fast fact. It simply acts as a rough guide to when at the latter end of one’s 9-10 month pregnancy one can expect to welcome their newborn.

Of course, babies as a rule are unpredictable, and can appear far earlier than expected or stubbornly remain ensconced in utero until medical intervention forces them out into the world. My own due date is less than three weeks away however it has not hit me that within the next month – should baby arrive fashionably late – I will be an actual mum. Pregnancy has brought out my needy side as I indulge in the over-protective cocoon of my husband’s attentions due to the mere fact that I am now carrying his child (he is of course always protective, loving and attentive but more so in the past 9 months). I confess, I want to make the most of this precious time when I am still the centre of his world and can be selfish in my desires for his affection.

Similarly, friends and family, and colleagues (and the odd commuter) have noticeably treated me with more care since I got knocked up and while at times it can be frustrating when they won’t let me carry anything, or get up onto a chair to rifle through my own kitchen cupboards or gasp in concern when I crawl under my desk to retrieve my abandoned Kurt Geiger heels; it is also sort of wonderful to be made such a fuss of.

As my due date approaches, the level of my husband and friends and family’s attention has mounted and the excitement of this period in my life has reached its peak (finally). Seriously, I cannot believe February has arrived. Though, being the type-A control freak that I am, the unpredictable nature of this event is mildly concerning to me. Thoughts such as, what if it snows and blocks the taxi getting me to the hospital; what if the baby arrives on the 29th February and thus only celebrates his/her birthday every four years; what if the baby arrives before I have my legs waxed; what if the baby is late and I have to be induced – fill my head constantly. My mother finds it hilarious and pointed out her mirth last weekend, declaring: “Finally, something Hadassah can’t control.” Yes, hilarious mother.

But it’s true. We plan and we organise as best we can, control freak persona or not, but really nothing can prepare us for how our lives are going to change and it all starts with the birth itself. I have of course written my ‘birth plan’ all the while knowing that there is a very good chance of said plan veering wildly off course. Friends who have had babies in the past few months have advised that the best thing is not to have any plan and go in with an open mind because in matters of bringing new life into the world one must expect the unexpected. A friend who, throughout her pregnancy, was set on receiving every drug available ended up with a short labour (under 5 hours) and only pethadine and entonox (gas and air), while another was utterly convinced she would deliver early only to go almost two weeks over her due date – we have no idea of how we will feel, how the labour will progress (or not), what the capacity of our chosen hospital/birthing centre will be or when the baby will choose to arrive. The best advice any expectant couple can receive is this… go with the flow.

Sounds simple – and probably at odds with my character – but it is the method I am undertaking and will continue to follow, from bed, birth and beyond… So “due date” you will not be my foe, for I will take you with a pinch of salt. Baby Hine will make his or her debut when the time is right and that will just have to do for me.

26 and Pregnant: That’s Just Swell

In It's My Year, It's Only Words on 01/30/2012 at 12:51

Already running rings around me!

So I always used to wonder why a lot of heavily pregnant women were without their wedding and engagement rings… now I know.

Thanks to changing body temperature, fluid retention and raging hormones; body parts swell, jewellery gets stuck and stress levels soar. At least that has been my experience. Discussing early on the potential need to remove my rings in the latter stages of pregnancy with a fellow mum-to-be I scoffed at the thought, narcissistically admiring the slender fingers that have always garnered me compliments and assumptions of piano-playing skill (I’ve never played piano in my life). Reluctant to remove the white gold and diamond affirmations of my married status, I decided to only take them off if absolutely necessary.

The weekend of my baby shower I gave them a test removal, testing out the nakedness of my wedding finger. Getting them off with only a trace of difficulty I decided that with only a few weeks to go it was probably best to take them off until after the birth so I made a plan to purchase a silver chain in the week and until then the rings stayed put.

I noticed the rings of a fellow antenatal-yogi hanging from a chain around her neck on the Tuesday night and when I asked her about it she advised me that it was probably wise to do the same as her sister’s rings had become embedded during labour… eek! So Wednesday after work I stopped in at a jewellers in West Hampstead and bought myself a chain.

Deciding to wait until the following morning to retrieve the rings, assuming they would be least swollen at the start of the day I congratulated myself on my forward-planning and went to sleep. Thursday morning in the bathroom and I suddenly realised I may have been a tad optimistic. Despite copious amounts of soap and warm water my engagement ring was stubbornly refusing to glide off my finger. Enlisting the brute strength of my husband he succeeded in pulling it off while I yowled in agony. However, this victory was short-lived as the yanking had aggravated the finger making it swell to three times its size, and turned it an angry red. Not only that, but the now swollen digit was holding my wedding band captive with no signs of relase. My husband yanked again but the pain was too much. It wouldn’t budge.

In the office that morning, unable to concentrate on anything but my poorly finger, I put out an SOS via social networking channels and put in a call to my father – the ever-practical voice of reason – who instructed me to hold my hand up in the air to allow the fluid to drain away and reduce the swelling and then to dip my hand in oil whereby the ring would come off. Okay, so at my desk there I sat with my hand in the air attracting odd looks from colleagues who thought I must have gone temporarily deranged and convinced myself I was back at school. My mother-in-law, on seeing my facebook plea, called and suggested wrapping my finger in cotton wool and sliding the ring over it. Seeing a similar solution using dental floss on a pregnancy blog, I hauled a colleague next door to Boots where we hurriedly purchased a box of floss and a pot of Vaseline. Wrapping the floss around my finger it quickly turned a nasty blue and convinced I was about to die/pass out/watch my finger drop off, we hurried over to the pharmacist who expertly removed the floss and suggested I sit and calm down. His advice was to forget about it, let the swelling reduce and try again later or have it cut off. (The ring, not my finger. Just to clarify.)

A jeweller next to the office took one look at my finger and immediately jumped to cut it off but I backed away quickly and said I would wait and see… a.k.a. ‘stay the hell away from my wedding ring with those tools, dude’. He also refused to meld it back together, saying there was no point as my fingers may never return to their original size post-baby. Right, so my only option is to saw my wedding band in two and store the two halves until two months after I’ve given birth… ummm, nah, I don’t think so.

Holding a cold compress to my finger for the rest of the day, the ring refused to budge for the following 48 hours, including a visit to the midwife who had no secret tricks up her medical sleeves and was quite frankly useless to my predicament. In fact she only succeeded in panicking me more at the thought of potentially losing my finger along with my precious piece of jewellery. Great.

Then a miracle occurred. Spending Saturday cooking with my mother to stock up my freezer with nutritious meals for post-labour, I relaxed. Off out we went for dinner with my husband and brother and leaving them in line for a table I went to the loo (of course) and having washed my hands, I stood beneath the dryer and thought I’d give the ring a test swivel. So I swivelled, gently, and swivelled some more, and lo and behold the ring came off! Onto the chain it went to join its diamond mate and off I went back to my family with my naked finger proudly held up to show them.

I felt as though I had won the lottery.

Now all I need is for my legs to be waxed (appointment is booked for the Friday) and I am totally baby ready. Bring it on! I got the rings off, labour will be a doddle…

26 and Pregnant: The Baby Shower

In It's My Year, Let them eat cake! on 01/24/2012 at 09:59

The rollercoaster ride that is pregnancy is beginning its heady descent as the final few weeks set in, though the rollercoaster ride that is currently occupying my hormones is still in full swing!

My amazing friends, family and hubby put on the most wonderful baby shower for me this past weekend, complete with beautifully crafted cupcake tower cake – courtesy of the über-talented Heather at www.completelycakes.co.uk – and a cake made entirely of nappies, crafted by my lovely Stephanie!!

Completely Cute

Now, as a bonafide control freak, you can imagine that the two friends – and future godmothers – assigned to organise my shower had to cope with my micro-management of guest-list, activities and more; though thankfully, as we have been best friends for many years, they are by now used to me and I am relieved to say, are still my BFFs!! They arrived to set up as I was ordered to remain in the kitchen buttering scones and for the most part, I did as I was told. Though I find it rather difficult to relinquish control over my own personal space and had to be told on more than one occasion to just sit down!

We played the traditional ‘Guess the baby’ as everyone was tasked with bringing a baby photo of themselves and people chatted and dug in to the feast laid out on my dining table, which comprised my homemade brownies, fruit platters, my auntie’s homemade oatmeal and raisin biscuits, Stephanie’s nappy pin biscuits, scones with cream and jam, chocolates and cupcakes. Not to mention as much apple juice, tea and coffee as we could drink.

Speaking of tea…

Having just stocked up on enough raspberry leaf tea* to fulfil my quota of three cups a day for the next four weeks, my already fragile state was utterly thrown when my mother began serving it as fruit tea to some of the guests at my shower. Losing the plot temporarily I ran to the bathroom to collect myself and when I emerged my hubby had been fetched from watching football at our neighbours to placate me with a hug. Satisfied that I was calmer and having witnessed my apology to my mother, he returned to the sporting haven upstairs and the shower resumed.

Designer Baby

 

The godmothers provided plain white baby-gros to pairs and groups, along with fabric and colouring pens, and people were then left to craft their own designs with slogans from ‘When I grow up I’m going to be famous’ to ‘BYOB’ and an array of inventive designs. And then it was time for the gifts. I was blown away by everything as I unwrapped beautiful clothes, keepsakes, books and toys – as well as a few pampering products for me. It occurred to me just how much love my baby will be surrounded by and how lucky I am to have such wonderful friends and family who made me feel so special and loved – despite the fact that my hormones can on occasion turn me into Mumzilla!! 

So this is really to say THANK YOU to everyone who made that day in particular so fabulous – you all know who you are!! And to the few who couldn’t make it – I can’t wait to introduce you to my little bubba when s/he arrives… 

*Raspberry Leaf Tea is taken as a natural aid in order to strengthen the muscles of the uterus to make for a more effective labour.