Happy Halloween!

7.30am this morning found me stood teetering on the edge of our dining table stringing lime green (?!) cobwebs from the curtain pole while the boys ate their cereal and looked on bemused.

Those who know me will already be aware of my feelings about Halloween but for those who aren’t familiar, it goes a little something like this:


The house is now decorated with aforementioned cobwebs complete with plastic spiders, spooky tinsel and a random toy bat to add to the ambience. ¬†Toby was extremely excited about the idea of pumpkin carving whilst Rudy had his morning nap (which he’s yet to wake up from…) but when it came to it he refused to scoop out the innards declaring it “TOO STINKY!” So i did both the scooping and the carving and wow, pumpkin carving is a serious upper body workout! My arms are still aching as i type. Toby did ‘design’ his own though- his requirement was “Eyes…and a nose…and a smiley scary mouth, all wiggly!”

Only daytime shots i’m afraid but i’m hopeful their spook-factor will increase after dark with the aid of a tealight or two ūüėČ

We’ve only got the two pumpkins but i’m considering an afternoon stroll to the shop to get more once Rudy eventually wakes up that is!

I’m working tonight but planning a spot of teatime trick-of-treating before the boys’ bedtime and may even wear my witches hat in to work ūüôā

Happy Halloween / Merry Samhain everyone!

Date Night

Last night Chris and i left the house, together sans children, for the 1st time in over 3 years on our first ever, post-children Date Night! :O

We had tickets to see Bat for Lashes, who apparently aren’t as well known as i thought because almost everyone i say that to is like “Huh? Who now?” Anyway, she was playing at Manchester Cathedral and we’ve had the tickets, and the babysitting arrangements in place for a loooong time now.

Our best friends Emma and Ben came over and sat for us.  We all had dinner together and then put the boys to bed in what was possibly the speediest manner ever, threw on some clothes that did not have any snot, baby vomit or smears of food on and rang for a taxi.  Toby stayed asleep all night, as he does usually but Rudy was up three times (we were out for about four hours maximum).  He is full of a cold today though so i am thinking it probably had more to do with that, rather than him feeling abandoned or anything (or at least my Mummy Guilt hopes so!)

In the few days preceeding Date Night when my excitement bubbled over and i just had to tell people about it’s impending arrival, i got some pretty strange responses. ¬†Mostly it was along the lines of “WTF?! THREE YEARS?!” but i also had three separate individuals say to me “Well, be careful or you might be having a surprise in 9 months time!” which is possibly a bit of an inappropriate thing to say depending on the kind of relationship you have with the person in question, or at least i think so anyway, and also demonstrates a complete misunderstanding of what Date Night is actually about. I.e. time to reconnect as a couple outside in the actual world.

Other people wondered (aloud) what we would have to talk about besides the kids. ¬†Admittedly this is an area which may take some practice (and once in three years doesn’t really cut it when it comes to practice i don’t think!) In the taxi on the way to the gig we chatted about poo. ¬†Specifically, whether or not Rudy had done one that day and if not, would he do one whilst we were out and throw Emma and Ben for a loop, after we’d told them he doesn’t need nappy changes during the night?! ¬†Once we came to a conclusion (that he had in fact pooped that day after all) i said “So this is a romantic conversation huh?!” and we decided we should probably stop talking about such matters…after which a looooong silence followed. ¬†Haha. ¬†Later, on the bus on the way home (feeling less flush, having forgotten how expensive having a social life is) we chatted about shifts…”What are you working again next week? Oh yeah, and what am i working?! Ah shit, that sucks…” ¬†Again, majorly romantic. ¬†It’s probably a good thing that the most part of the date itself involved listening to live music so minimal conversation (“Another drink?!”) was required.

The gig itself was brilliant. ¬†She is really good live and the venue definitely added something (I’ve never ¬†been inside the cathedral before, let alone for a gig).

There was a minute, during the support act, when the lead singer’s mic went off, and the lights came up, and there was some chatting and then she announced “apparently, there was a fire…but there isn’t anymore!” and Chris and i chuckled at how much of a SIGN FROM THE UNIVERSE that would have been, if our first night out together in over three years ended in a fire in one of Manchester’s most historic buildings after we’d been there for a grand total of about 30 minutes!

There was so much i’d forgotten, it was like stepping into an old pair of shoes and finding they still fit and wondering why you don’t wear them more often. ¬†I bought drinks, i checked my coat, i laughed at with Chris, i watched other people, i listened to music, really actually listened to it. ¬†I’d forgotten what it is like to feel the bass reverberate through your entire being and to dance because you want to not because a 3 year old is demanding you to!

All in all it was a really good night.  We both had a lot of fun, the boys were fine, Emma and Ben did a great job of trying to settle Rudy and also washed dishes and tended to my (poor ailing) plants while they were here! I am marking it as a huge success and Chris already wants to know when we are going to do it again.

Look, no children anywhere in sight! Crazy!
How random is this?! A ko’d mannequin in a shop window in town, it totally cracked us up on the way home, maybe you had to be there (and have consumed beer)?!

It started with a kiss…

(Disclaimer: Not our actual first kiss! As the mistletoe suggests, this photo was in fact taken in December 2004)

Chris and i have been together for eight years as of today. ¬†Yep it’s our anniversary ūüôā

We’re not married (i may have mentioned that before) so other folk don’t tend to pay much heed and/or buy us cards or presents, which is a bummer as who doesn’t like receiving random gifts?! ūüėČ but we try to make an occasion of it when we can, or in busier years (last year for example, when we had a 23 month old toddler and a 6 day old baby!) we at least acknowledge it to each other and take a minute to reflect on everything we’ve been through together.

It’s been a helluva eight years actually, four house moves (!), four pregnancies, two children, a dog, a cat, one degree course and one diploma completed and another in progress, three funerals and a couple of weddings, and let’s not forget we introduced our friends to each other so there’ll be another wedding next year ūüėČ ¬†And that’s just the big stuff. ¬†To say we’ve been busy would be a bit of an understatement! They have, without a doubt, been the best eight years of my life.

I have no idea what the next eight years will hold for us, but i know that whatever it is, good or bad, will be made better by having Chris in my life.


Rudy’s Birthday in Pictures

(Mostly. ¬†There will be a few words but i can’t guarantee their quality as i really am rather tired!)

 We baked a cake (and licked the spoon)
Presents were wrapped and the living room ‘prepped’
And then it was The Big Day!
The inflatable rabbit bouncer is a present from Chris’s sister Emma, Toby has rather randomly named it “Nibbles” which i can only assume is inspired somehow by the name of Charlie and Lola’s pet rat that they have for like, 2 episodes before it dies?!
We had pancakes with maple syrup for breakfast
Presents were unwrapped and played with
Some faster than others. This gadget set from ELC had about ninety plastic threads holding each item in place, i swear you’d think they were ACTUAL car keys and ACTUAL smart phone, they so badly wanted to prevent anyone from stealing them. ¬†I snapped this shot of Chris exasperated, trying to remove all the tags while Toby repeated “Open it Daddy, Daddy open it, Open it Daddy” over and over and Rudy waaaaailed! ¬†Then Chris yelled at me and told me to put my phone down and be helpful instead *pout*
We weren’t going to do the whole “sibling gets a present on the other one’s birthday” thing, but then changed our minds at the last minute and wrapped up a Doctors Kit we bought for Toby a few weeks back…
You’ll notice i went to great lengths to look the part of an actual sick person, with the lank hair, dull spotty skin, dark circles around my eyes and old dressing gown and PJs combo. ¬†Method Acting, that’s what it was.
(After a shower) we used self-timer and my new gorilla-pod thingy to take this family portrait, which is my new favourite photo ūüôā

Then we went to our local soft play area, Anchors Away in Reddish for lunch and to play for a couple of hours, which both boys loved.

They spent ages in this little ‘house’ in the baby area, opening and closing the door, ringing the door ‘bell’ (squeaker) and posting imaginary mail and playing peekaboo through the letterbox.
We went back home for brief nap for Rudy and drinks for the rest of us and then went back out to Rudy’s Aquababies lesson, where he got dunked and had “Happy Birthday” sang to him for the first time ūüôā
And the day ended with chocolate cake, as all good birthdays should ūüėČ
Rudy is 1!

Rudyard’s Birth Story

This time last year i was in labour.  Chris was inflating the birthing pool.  Our 23 month old Tobias was fast asleep in his bed and our unborn baby Rudyard was on his way!

It’s actually insane to me, how quickly this last 12 months has flown. ¬†I thought Toby’s 1st birthday came around fast but that was nothing compared to the speed at which tomorrow seems to have arrived.

Obviously 12 months is 1 year and each year passes as quickly (or slowly) as another. ¬†But it certainly doesn’t feel that way!

There really is nothing like your child’s very first birthday to get you feeling all nostalgic and sentimental and deep. ¬†For Mums anyway. ¬†Maybe not so much for Dads. ¬†Chris is a fairly sensitive guy i’d say, but as deep and meaningful as he got this evening was to ask me “Which would you rather be doing…wrapping presents and writing birthday messages on chalkboards like you are doing tonight…or being in labour?”

My answer was wrapping presents and writing birthday messages on chalkboards…”but only because i get to drink red wine while i do it.” ¬†Unlike during labour. ¬†When consumption of alcohol is generally frowned upon. ¬†Although the taking of more hardcore substances encouraged?! Go figure.

Anyway that got me thinking about my labour and Rudy’s birth and i realised i haven’t yet shared his birth story here. ¬†Although it’s in the public domain elsewhere as i posted it to a couple of the parenting forums i use but i thought it might be nice to revisit it anyway.

This is my original and unedited birth story, written within days of Rudy’s arrival.

So, grab a cuppa (better make it a pot actually…well i was contracting for a while you know!) and a hobnob (or again, perhaps a packet may be more appropriate, we could be here for sometime!) and enjoy ūüôā

Alternatively. ¬†If birth is Not Your Thing. ¬†Then feel free to read the first line and last paragraph and then take yourself off to bed. ¬†It is after all, getting rather late ūüėČ

Rudyard Jonathan Holland

Born  at 38 weeks and 4 days gestation on Tuesday 11/10/11 at 3.16am weighing 2.855kg (6lb 6oz)

At 12:47am on Monday 10th October I woke up to a tightening.  I had another about 8-9 minutes later, then a few at 7 minutes apart, then a few at 5 minutes apart.  After an hour i started using the contraction timer on my phone- but i couIdn’t get the hang of it at all- I kept dithering about whether or not a contraction was building and then pressing it too late, and then forgetting to press it again to say the contraction had stopped!
Sitting in bed timing contractions while Chris snoozed was getting a little dull and uncomfortable so I moved downstairs to the sofa for a bit.  At one point they were every 3 minutes or so and I thought maybe I should wake Chris but then almost as soon as I thought it, they spaced out again.  Soon they were back to being 8 minutes apart, and I decided enough was enough and went back to bed!
Unfortunately, Toby had other ideas and woke up!¬† It was about 3.30am ish i think, and i heard him pad across his room saying “Mimmy?! Mimmy?!” I went to his door and he was stood at his safety gate saying “stairs” which is what he says in the morning when he wants to get up! So i had to tell him, no, it was in fact still bedtime!!¬† He wasn’t impressed but settled down when i got into bed with him.
Trouble is, his tiny single bed was SO uncomfortable at 38 weeks pregnant! And he was really wide awake- so at 4.35am when i was still lying there and he was still not asleep and i was still contracting, i got a bit cross about the fact Chris was peacefully snoozing away in the other room with our double bed all to himself! So i yelled at him to come and take over from me in trying to persuade Toby back to sleep, and i went and lay down in our bed.
I had no idea how frequently the contractions were coming but i knew they weren’t as close as they had been so decided to just try to sleep.¬† I did sleep but was faintly aware they were still going on. When i woke up it was 8.30am and Chris and Toby were still fast asleep in Toby’s bed, and Chris was supposed to be leaving for uni at 9am! Initially when i first woke i thought everything had stopped, but then i had a contraction sat up in bed and felt relieved that things were still happening.¬† Chris and Toby woke up and at first Chris was frantically getting dressed to quickly head in for his morning lecture, then i decided to go pee and had a ‘show’. ¬†I¬†told Chris and he changed his mind about rushing into uni and decided to see how things progressed throughout the morning.
The contractions were still very mild but started coming every 10 minutes throughout the morning and I was getting a lot of pressure and stabby pains in my cervix.  I also went full into nesting and organising mode and by 10.30am had washed up, cleaned the kitchen, emptied the kitchen bin, put a load of washing on and hoovered the entire of downstairs!
I continued to have irregular contractions all day on Monday.¬† At times they would get into a pattern, of being consistently a set distance apart but then they would go a little crazy and coming at random intervals.¬† Then in the early afternoon they started to come 6 minutes apart for a whole hour and i thought- yes, this is it! But again they then died away and came back at random intervals.¬† Late afternoon i started to get tetchy.¬† Toby hadn’t napped all day and i think he was getting frustrated with how distracted both Chris and i were and was wanting a lot of attention from me and to be picked up and cuddled, which was tricky as i was trying to spend time on my ball to encourage things along.¬† We’d had a grocery delivery booked in for between 2 and 4pm and it arrived around 3.30ish, so we had all that to unpack and then Chris and Toby had something to eat and watched some TV and i tried to zone out a little bit and concentrate on what was happening with my body.¬† I thought, and hoped, things would progress once Toby was safely tucked in bed asleep and it turns out, i was right! ūüėČ
When Chris took Toby up for his bath and milk they were coming around 5 minutes apart and lasting 30 seconds, when he came back down they were still the same, which i took to be a good sign as it meant they hadn’t dwindled off again.¬† I got off my ball and started to pace up and down the living room and at around 9.30pm they started to come every 3 minutes (still lasting around 30 seconds ish) I decided that once they had been reliably coming every 3 minutes for an hour i would ring the midwives.¬† After an hour though i still doubted it was the real thing and was worried they would become irregular again or that i’d be ringing the midwives too soon and i didn’t want to be ‘faffed’ with unnecessarily, so decided to wait another half an hour.¬† By 11pm i felt that although they weren’t any closer together, they were getting stronger, and some were lasting longer too, a couple were around 40-50 seconds long and i had started needing to breathe through them.¬† At this stage i was still pacing the living room floor and then when one would start to build i’d grab on to the bookcase or windowsill (depending on which side of the room i was closest to!) and i’d lean over and sway a little, or squat a little and breathe through it.¬† I wasn’t making any noise at this stage but i did sometimes feel like i needed to close my eyes.¬† Chris had started to inflate the pool.
I rang the number i had been given and spoke to a receptionist who took my details.¬† 5 minutes later a midwife called Pam rang back and asked me a few questions- she wanted to know how long i’d been contracting for, and how often they were coming.¬† She asked if it was my first baby so i told her no, my second and she asked if anyone had been out to see me during the day so i said no, we hadn’t called anyone until now.¬† She said she’d come out to see me but that in the meantime she advised i take some paracetamol to take the edge off (I didn’t)
She arrived at midnight, the contractions were still the same at this stage.¬† She told me that’d she’d noticed i had a student caseholder, Heather, and had called her and left a voicemail and that Heather had rung her back and was on her way as well.¬† I was really pleased about that because i’d seen Heather for a lot of my antenatal appointments and thought she was really lovely and would be a reassuring presence and familiar face, and i trusted that she was on board with our birth plan to stay home and do things as natural as possible.
Heather had told me that when i rang in labour i should remember to let the midwife know that i had a student caseholder but i had totally forgotten in the heat of the moment so i was glad Pam had figured it out herself.¬† She looked over my notes and read our birth plan.¬† She told me she would just take my blood pressure and leave the rest of the ‘assessment’ to Heather when she arrived.¬† My bp came back ridiculously high, it’s usually around 110/70 or so, and was 150/110! ¬†That was during a contraction though so Pam repeated it a couple of minutes later and it was 130/95, so still high but better! I said that i seemed to have trouble with the mini electronic bp machines and that it might be better to take it manually so she said she’d have to see if she had her manual sphyg and stethoscope in the car.
Then Heather arrived, so she nipped out to get it.¬† Heather was very excited and when she repeated my bp manually it was fine- around 120/80 i think.¬† She listened in to baby’s HR with the doppler and said he was very happy and not at all bothered by anything that had been going on all day.¬†Then Pam asked if i would consent to an internal examination so they could see where i was up to.¬† I said yes as i was keen to know if the irregular contractions all day had actually done anything.¬† I said “but if i am 1cm then i don’t want to know!” and Pam pointed out that even if they didn’t tell me, i would probably guess when they started to put their coats back on! Heather performed the VE and found me to be “2cm and stretchy but with a slightly thicker cervix to one side”.¬† She told me she’d given me a good sweep while she was there and had pulled away a big bit of plug so that would hopefully get things moving.
Pam said she felt it would be unwise for me to stay up all night pacing the floors and trying to encourage things to move along as it could possibly still be a long while before things started to hot up and she didn’t want me to run out of energy.¬† She advised taking some paracetamol and going to bed to rest and reassured me that this was the real thing and i didn’t need to worry about things stopping and that i would wake up when things properly got going.¬† She said if i couldn’t sleep i should at least try to have a warm bath.¬† I felt slightly disheartened, i admit, but i agreed with her and sleep didn’t seem like such a bad idea.
During their visit Toby had woken up and started to cry so Chris was upstairs trying to settle him back into bed when they left and he had no idea what had happened or what they’d said or anything like that.
Chris came back down after about half an hour to report that Toby was refusing to go back to sleep and wanted to know what he should do?! He also wanted to know what the midwives had said so i told him.  At this point i was still contracting, although i had stopped timing them, but they were feeling stronger than they had been when Heather and Pam had been here and i started making a little moaning noise towards the end of each one.
I said to Chris he should put Toby in our bed and i’d come up too and we should all just snuggle down and try to sleep and if i couldn’t then i’d take a bath.¬† I was really struggling to see how i’d be able to sleep with contractions so close together though when they seemed to be picking up in strength too.¬† Nevertheless i went up the stairs and went for a wee, and then headed into the bedroom, Toby and Chris were there, and then i had a really big contraction.¬† I got on my knees on the floor and leant over the side of the bed and moaned through it.¬† I told Chris i thought i needed my tens machine and that i’d take that paracetamol now after all. I pulled my t shirt off (i had a little crop top underneath) and when Chris came back i asked him to put the tens on.¬† He couldn’t remember where the pads went and neither could i.¬† I told him that someone had scanned me a copy of their instructions on one of the forums and i needed my laptop if he wanted to see it, so he went back downstairs to get the laptop.
I was moaning through my contractions and starting to worry that Toby would be getting distressed.¬† He didn’t seem upset but kept saying “Mimmy?!” and he wanted me to get in the bed with him but i didn’t feel like i could move from where i was.
Eventually, the tens was on, i had taken my painkillers and had a drink of apple juice and i was just kneeling there, contracting and moaning into my t shirt that i’d taken off and scrumpled up and was burying my face in to at each contraction.¬† I remarked to Chris it would be more helpful if it had chloroform or something on it! Haha.
I had sent my best friend Emma a message when the midwives had left telling them what had been said and she’d texted back saying that sounded good and did we want her to head over?¬†¬†At that time i had thought no, probably not, because the plan had been for me to go to bed and sleep, but i had thankfully never got round to actually telling her that, because i now felt that we did need her, especially since Toby was wide awake and i was becoming more vocal.¬† I told Chris to ring her and ask her to come.¬† She asked if she should bring anything and apparently i specifically said not to forget the tealights for the oil burner?! (We had some clary sage and lavender essential oil to burn)
Pam and Heather had said i should ring them back if anything changed, like if contractions got stronger or my waters broke, or if baby stopped moving or if i was worried or had any questions about anything.
I started wondering at what point i should call them.¬† Things were starting to feel intense but i was all too aware that it hadn’t been hardly any time since they had left and that it was unlikely i’d progressed all that much since.
To be honest, time once i got upstairs all went a bit hazy, i think i retreated into myself and just tried to get through each contraction as it happened.¬† I knew they were close together but since we’d stopped timing them i didn’t know any specifics.¬† They were definitely getting longer and stronger though. As one died away i mooed to Chris “I think i need my natal hypnotherapeeeeeeeeee now!” and he fetched me my ipod.¬† I tried to listen to the “excitement phase” track on the labour companion cd, which is recommended for when you know you’re in labour and having regular contractions, but almost immediately it was annoying me.¬† The rhythm of her speech didn’t match up to the rhythm/intensity of my contractions and i decided i’d rather just listen to the relaxing birth music.¬† In hindsight i was definitely listening to the wrong track and should have been listening to the “serious phase” track at that point but i wasn’t to know!
Chris and Toby were snuggled up in bed together watching Cbeebies on the laptop.¬† I was worried that the noises i was making would be traumatising Toby and suggested to Chris i go downstairs but he said not until Emma arrived as he didn’t want me to be on my own down there.¬† Then some time after i suggested he should go start filling the pool but again, he said not until Emma arrived as he didn’t want to leave me with Toby on my own.¬† I told Chris i felt cold and he covered me with a fluffy blanket i’d put out for the baby, but i told him “no take it off, that’s for the baby!” so he covered me with my dressing gown instead.
Emma arrived, i’m not sure what time it was, and she came up and settled down on the bed with Toby and Toby was really excited to see her, and i was relieved because it had started to all feel like a bit too much with just me and Chris on our own with Toby.¬† She saw me go through a contraction and then said that she’d fetched the tealights but that she guessed it had gone past that point now?! I said “yes, definitely, unless you’re planning on setting fire to me with them to put me out of my misery?!” Haha.
Chris went downstairs and started to fill the pool.¬† At some point i said to Emma, “i think Chris should ring the midwives now.”¬† In my head i was thinking that i had nothing to lose by calling them as the contractions were becoming really overwhelming. I was definitely worried that i’d seem like a wuss, and that they would be thinking “we only just left her and she’s ringing back already!” but i decided to myself that if they came, and i was still only 3 or 4cms then obviously i had very poor coping strategies in labour and i would just have to face up to that and opt to transfer in for more pain relief.¬† And if they came and i’d progressed well, well then it would be reassuring to know and good to have them around as it felt like things were happening faster than i’d expected.
Chris called the midwives at 2.20am (i only know that because our phone logs calls!) and Pam rang back 5 minutes later, he told them that things were progressing and that i wasn’t coping as well.¬† Pam misheard and thought he said “things are progressing and i’m not coping” and was having a laugh with him about that.¬† She told him they would head back out.¬† He came upstairs to tell me and i said i needed a wee.¬† I took myself off to the bathroom and had a very horrible and loud contraction on the toilet and briefly considered knocking my head against the bathroom sink to dull the pain!
I then felt i should really get down the stairs or i never would! And i was still worrying about the amount of noise i was making and the effect on Toby, but remember both Chris and Emma reassuring me that he wasn’t in the slightest bit bothered!
Chris was still filling the pool but Emma went to get him so he could help me down the stairs.¬† I didn’t make it very far- just to the little half-landing between our room and Toby’s room and then had a massive contraction, i said “It’s too late!” and grabbed on to Chris and basically hung from his neck and mooed down his ear until the worst of it was over and then we quickly got down the stairs.
Once downstairs i flung myself on to the sofa, on my knees and leant over the back of it and buried my face into a cushion.¬† Chris finished up filling the pool.¬† I remember a few things, like that i felt very cold and then very hot and i started to feel slightly sick so Chris fetched a bucket over and put it by the side of the sofa, although i never actually needed it.¬† I remember asking him what time it was and how long it had been since he rang the midwives and he told me hang on, i’ll check, and then said it had been 20 minutes, which depressed me because i thought, well it will still be a while until they get here then.¬† I told him that my ipod was annoying me, because it was getting tangled with my tens cables and the headphones kept falling out of my ears!¬† He asked me if i wanted my ipod on the speakers on the hi-fi instead and i didn’t understand but then he repeated the question and i said yes, so he started playing the relaxing birth music through the speakers.
I told him i really wanted to get in the pool and he said it was ready for me and that i should do if that’s what i wanted, but for some reason i was very worried it would turn out to be too soon and that it would make things slow down or stop, so i wanted the midwives to give me the ok first.¬† Chris reassured me that i seemed to be really progressing well and i should just go with my instincts but i felt safe over the back of the sofa, and moving seemed like it would be almost impossible so i said “no, not until the midwives get here”.¬† I think i was mostly worried that if i got in, and then they arrived and i had to get out to be examined that would feel worse than not being in at all- if that makes sense?!
Chris suggested we at least get me ready to get in the pool, and i said “what do you mean?!” and he said “well, let’s get your pants off for a start!” but apparently i refused and said i didn’t want my bare bum to be the first thing that greeted the midwives when they walked through the front door (In my defence, our front door was basically right off the street and as we didn’t have a hallway you walk straight into the living room and the sofa had been pushed right in front of the door- so my bare bum really would have been the first thing they saw!)
I had some real stinking contractions leaning over the back of the sofa, and as a couple of them built i remember i said “Chris! Help!” but it was funny because even as i was saying it, i was quite calmly thinking that there was nothing anyone could to do to help and i just had to get on with it.¬† Chris responded by massaging my lower back, at times i said “thank you, that helps” and at other times, if he was too late starting the massage and tried to start to touch me at the height of a contraction i would say “no no no!” Poor guy probably didn’t know what to do with himself!
I started to feel a bit like i was grunting at the end of each contraction, and like i was physically moving my legs wider apart.  I had the sensation that the baby felt like it was trying to come out of my actual bum.
The midwives arrived at 3.05am,¬† i heard car doors slamming and Chris said “they’re here” They arrived and having heard me contracting from the street they got straight to work.¬† Heather said “you’ve not been messing around have you?!” and Pam said “can we listen in to baby and check you and then we’ll get you in the pool?” and i said “yes” but they wanted me to lie back on the sofa for the VE and just as i moved to lie down i had another contraction, so i threw myself back up on to my knees and in the process yanked one of the cables out of the tens machine.¬† So i was frantically trying to gesticulate that my tens had come unattached (because i couldn’t talk through the contraction) but no one knew what i was on about, and Chris , bless him, thought i meant “please press boost!” so was pressing the boost button for me, and it wasn’t even attached! Once the contraction was over i managed to say that it wasn’t attached.¬† At first Pam thought i meant one of the sticky pads on my back had come off, but then i said “nooo!” and eventually everyone got what i meant and found the stray cable and attached me back up.¬† I’m not even sure that the tens was making much of a difference to the pain to be honest but i didn’t have any other pain relief and i liked the feeling of control it gave me, being able to press that boost button!
I told everyone that it felt like “this baby is trying to come out of my bum!” and Pam said that was good and that maybe my waters were about to go.¬† She asked if she could do the VE now and i managed to lie down and Chris held my hand.¬† Pam said i was “a good 8 to 9cms so i’d done really well” ¬†I have never felt so relieved in my life, i thought “i’m not a wuss after all!” and i said “Chris i am so glad, i thought you were going to come back and tell me i was 3cms!” and Heather and Pam both laughed and said it was obvious to them from when they arrived that i was further than that.¬† She also told me my membranes were bulging and that baby’s head was at a slight angle but not to worry as everything would just rotate around and happen naturally as things progressed.
Pam went out to the car to get the rest of their supplies, the gas and air for e.g. and delivery pack (we had a homebirth kit dropped off the week before but it only had very rudimentary stuff in like gloves, inco pads, a bucket for the placenta etc)
I was kneeling up on the sofa again and Heather listened in to baby’s heart rate which was fine.and started to take my tens pads off ready for me to get in the pool, but i said “no not yet another one is coming!” so she stopped unpeeling the pads.¬† I then felt, very suddenly and definitely that the baby was coming NOW and i said to Chris, who was at my head-end “the baby is coming” and because he’d heard Pam say that my membranes were bulging he said “i know, i know it’s the waters” and i said¬† “I really need some pain relief” and both Chris and Heather were saying “It’s ok, we’re going to get you in the pool now” and I said “No, i’m pushing!” and both Chris and Heather were reassuring me that it was probably the waters about to go and then Heather said “the head is there!” and i knew i was right. I had that feeling of being at the top of a rollercoaster and knowing it’s going to go down whether you like it or not and it’s too late to get off! I knew this baby had to come out and that the gas and air was still on it’s way in from Pam’s car and that there was nothing i could do about it now!¬† I had the temptation to just really give a massive push as i knew that would get it over and done with but i was thinking quite rationally inside “you don’t want to tear!”¬†
Pam came back into the house and was greeted by, according to Chris, a terrified looking Heather and himself and the sight of the baby’s head crowning. Chris told me Heather seemed to be out of her depth but i didn’t feel frightened at all and thought she sounded extremely calm, as the contraction built up she was telling me “blow it away, that’s right, blow it away” and although i felt grunty and pushy i did try to poof poof poof and sort of pant/breathe through it, as i really didn’t want to tear.¬† I never got the full on “I need to push!” sensation with Toby so it was really quite an interesting experience for me having that incredible urge, and i now understand why people say it’s like vomiting downwards- there’s nothing you can do to stop it happening, even if people tell you to!
Heather told me that baby was coming out in his waters and Pam told me that was lucky ūüôā¬† From where he was standing Chris didn’t see him in his waters and Heather told me afterwards that they broke naturally as he was born.
With that one contraction i pushed and both head and body were born and (according to Chris) Pam caught the baby and placed him on the sofa.¬† No one had any gloves on and the delivery pack wasn’t open.¬† We seemed to have caught everyone, including ourselves, by surprise!
Chris said “he’s here he’s here!” and i was saying “Is he okay is he okay?” and then “where is he?!” because i was kneeling forward still and so he was behind me.¬† I didn’t hear him cry right away but from where he was standing Chris told¬† me afterwards that he hadn’t been worried because he could see him moving his arms and opening and closing his mouth trying to cry.
It seemed to take me a couple of minutes but with some help i managed to work out how to sit back without squashing him or getting tangled and i got to meet my beautiful little guy.
He was quite gurgly and mucusy at first because of coming out in his waters i guess, he seemed as surprised to be here as the rest of us were! His apgars were 10 and 10 though and he was a lovely colour right away.
I started to talk to him and say “Hey, hello little guy” and then i said “He is definitely a boy isn’t he?!” and Heather and Chris both reassured me he was but i had a peek under the blanket to check, just in case! Haha.
The cord was still attached and Pam said “am i right in thinking you wanted a natural 3rd stage?” so i said yes, please and then she said “Chris, i think the placenta is right there anyway” and Heather looked between my legs and said she could see it, i gave one push and she guided it out with the cord and it just plopped on to the sofa.¬† Heather was kneeling on the floor checking it over when just then Emma appeared at the door and said “What happened?!”
She told us later that she’d heard a baby crying and thought “no way!” but then when it carried on she’d figured she should come and check to see if she was going mad! Toby was at the top of the stairs saying “Memma? Memma?” so Chris fetched him down to meet his brother. He said “Baby!” but then got distracted almost immediately by the giant pool in the middle of the room!
Heather double-checked with Pam that the cord didn’t need double clamping before cutting as it had stopped pulsating and the placenta had come away and Pam said that yes, just one clamp was fine and they asked Chris if he wanted to do it and he said yes and cut the cord.
At some point, i can’t remember when, Pam had called a second midwife, Sally, who then called back on our house phone just after Rudy was born and Pam went into the kitchen to talk to her and tell her she wasn’t needed after all.
The next couple of hours are a blur really.  I mostly sat and had skin to skin with Rudy on the sofa whilst the midwives did a bit of paperwork and whilst Toby played with his toy cars on the side of the pool (occasionally dropping them in!) and we all just chatted.   Heather and Pam discussed what to put for the second stage, as Pam felt strongly that there had been a definite rim of cervix left at 3.10am but Rudy was born at 3.16am, so they left it as unrecorded.  They recorded the length of first stage as being 5 hours and 46 minutes (from when i told them my contractions became regular) and the third stage as being 4 minutes.
After some bitching afterpains (worse than the labour itself by a long way i’d say!), a quick examination to see if i’d torn (1st degree tear, no stitches needed happily!) and a brief feed on Rudy’s part everyone left and at 6am the four of us went to bed for a couple of hours. ¬†Despite the craziness of the night Toby was then awake again at 8.30am and we began our day (and life!) as a family of four ūüôā

Lessons Learned

There’s definitely something about Mondays you know. ¬†You’d assume the reason it’s the most-hated day of the week is to do with it being the start of another working week, waking up to an alarm after two days of lazy lie ins, the rush hour traffic etc. ¬†But if so, how can it be the case that those of us who aren’t participants in the rat race, also experience utterly crappy Mondays too?

Monday was crappy.

Let us talk no more about it and move swiftly on to today. ¬†Tuesday. ¬†In which it feels like we did very little and yet i achieved lots. ¬†First up, i discovered that the house must not be as much of a tip as i worry it is, as it’s possible to get it looking pretty much ship-shape by neglecting my children for a few hours. ¬†They watched Cbeebies and¬†played made a mess with lego in Toby’s room, while i zoomed around, doing all the stuff i never seem to get chance to when i’m working, like mopping upstairs. ¬†There’s something therapeutic about mopping, i’ve decided. ¬†Most of the time in life i feel like i’m lost at sea, flailing my arms wildly, treading water and occasionally bobbing under and getting mouthfuls of nasty salt water but when i’m mopping, i feel calm and serene. ¬†I have a purpose. All Is Well With The World. ¬†Well, maybe not quite that far. ¬†But at least the floors are clean ūüėČ

The boys both wanted to help me with the housework, although i’m not at all certain Rudy grasps the purpose of a sweeping brush:

Later we had an indoor picnic:

It was an epic fail. ¬†Mere seconds after i snapped that picture Toby declared he didn’t like his sandwich and Rudy started clambering around on the blanket standing on everyone’s food and stealing mouthfuls from everyone’s drinks. ¬†I persevered on both accounts for a short time before losing patience with it all, strapping Rudy into his highchair (whatever gave me the idea he’d sit still and eat without being forced i have no idea) and entering into toddler bargaining mode with Toby. ¬†It’s something i never thought i’d do, and that we do try to avoid on the whole, but recently the whole food thing is just bugging the crap out of me! He barely eats a thing, and there’s so much waste. ¬†I don’t serve him vast swathes of food that would explain why he turns so much of it down. ¬†He’s just so damn picky at the minute and i worry he’s going to get rickets or some such thing. ¬†So we made a deal, whereby he had to eat some sandwich or else he wasn’t getting a chocolate eyeball. ¬†Yeah, you read correct. ¬†Chocolate eyeball.

We had a house inspection, an odd affair that consisted of a guy i’ve never met coming round and snapping a few photos of each room (i’m guessing to compare the pics with the ones on our photographic inventory thingy?) Anyway that only took a few minutes but in the time he was here he managed to wake Rudy up 30 minutes in to his afternoon nap which was tremendous. ¬†And he didn’t even photograph the freshly mopped upstairs floors either *sigh*

Then we had a grocery delivery. ¬†I love the first couple of hours after you’ve had your food shopping delivered- the fridge freezer is packed and the cupboards bursting and you can kid yourself it will last for days and days- weeks even! You’re going to eat like kings. ¬†And then you come to make dinner and don’t have a clue what to have. ¬†So you eat a snack (or two) while you’re trying to decide…and then a couple more whilst actually making it…and suddenly the cupboards aren’t as full as they were…

I started to unpack the fruit and veg. ¬†It was all in one bag and had been helpfully labelled with stickers “LEEK”, “PARSNIP” (just in case i wasn’t sure what i was looking at maybe?!)

Toby said it was “Just like Mr Bloom’s Nursery!” Although i’m not sure the following contraband appears in the show…
I’m in full-on grizzly bear hibernation mode at the minute. ¬†To see me eat you’d certainly assume i was attempting to lay down fat stores to see me through a harsh winter anyway. ¬†I just can’t get enough junk. ¬†There aren’t enough hours in the day for me to consume the amount of treats i want to eat. ¬†I got my comeuppance this morning though, sneakily pinching one of Toby’s chocolate eyeballs and then almost choking to death on it. ¬†It was discreet let me tell you. ¬†Like taking candy from a baby- and then getting a swift kick in the ass from karma. ¬†Stealing chocolate from your own children: Not Recommended.
Today Toby learned that bats sleep upside down (He has a new toy bat. ¬†Not a new toy bat in the sense that he had an old toy bat that needed replacing. ¬†Just a toy bat. Period.) He insisted it had to sleep “on it’s tummy” but i corrected him. ¬†He then suggested bats eat people. ¬†I told him that i thought that actually they might eat fruit. ¬†He served his bat a “pretend apple”. ¬†But both he and i seemed less convinced on that little fact.
Rudy learned that he likes TV.  Specifically Raa Raa The Lion:
He attempted to feed himself a yoghurt with a spoon for the first time:
And he also learned to climb on to the sofa. (I have a photo of that too but he’s stark naked in it so not one for the public domain!)
And me? Well aside from learning the names of some fairly common vegetables (Thanks Sainsburys!), and that i’m not as slovenly as i think i am, i also learned that i am capable of being a “glass half full person” when i really try. ¬†Case in point- this morning i tripped and spilled a cup of coffee everywhere. ¬†I could have sighed and swore, and wondered “why me”but instead i thought “At least i haven’t mopped the floor yet!” ¬†See- i’m getting there! ūüėČ

Preparations for Celebrations

Today i went into our loft for the first time. ¬†Chris has been up and down a few times since we moved here in June but today i actually had to venture up there myself. ¬†Chris was home, and assisted me with the tricky part (assembling the ladders, moving the hatch, turning the light on, climbing back down and re-assembling the ladders in a different fashion) but i had to be the one to go in as i was looking for a certain *something* and i couldn’t remember what bag/box/general packaging it was in to describe it to Chris.

The *something* was halloween outfits for the boys. ¬†Which i did eventually find in a huge ELC carrier bag full of other totally random stuff, including a pair of curtains, Christmas baby clothes and millions and millions of pairs of GIANT knickers from when i was pregnant with the boys. Haha. ¬†Not sure what the logic was when i was packing that bag up, clearly it happened towards the end of the house moving process when i’d all but lost my tiny mind.

In any case, i was delighted to discover that Toby still fits in his (2-3 years) costume from last year and Rudy will fit in Toby’s (9-12 month) costume from two years ago, so they are both sorted for halloween costumes this year and very cute they will be too ūüėČ

I also discovered our halloween party box full of decorations and accessories from the big halloween party we held a few years ago (BC- Before Children) but most of that stuff is waaaaay too ghoulish for delicate minds so will be going back up in the loft pronto. ¬†I kept out the glow-in-the-dark Halloween tinsel though ūüėČ

The actual main reason for going up into the loft was to get the hats. scarves, and gloves that i’d wisely decided we “wouldn’t need for aaaages” back down as the temperature has really dropped here this past week.

We went to playgroup for the first time in a few weeks yesterday and on the walk there Toby faced the dilemma of many-a-preschooler, as his hands were freezing but if he put them in his pockets he wouldn’t be able to hold on to the pram and would likely fall off the buggy board at the next kerb. ¬†Luckily we came up with a short-term solution where i put my hands over his to warm them, but i decided then and there that the time really had come and we had to go up and retrieve the winter woolies today.

Aside from our halloween and general winter preparations there are of course the birthday preparations!!! I can’t believe Rudy is going to be a whole year old next week. ¬†It’s crazy how the time has flown. ¬†And yet at the same time it does feel a very long time ago that i was pregnant with him. ¬†Not sure how that works. ¬†I think time, or rather a person’s perception of, is just a funny thing.

They are having a joint party this year (i’m not sure if i have maybe mentioned that here before) so i don’t have that much to do in the way of actual party prep really, just pay someone else and turn up on the day and enjoy the celebrations (or at least that’s the plan!) but the party isn’t on either of their actual birthdays so now i am racking my brains thinking of something we can do on the actual day to mark the occasion without going over the top given that he’s also having a party (if that makes sense?!) I really want to do something that is fun for Rudy rather than fun for us (although if we could think of something that fulfilled both of those criteria it would be better obviously!)

Something fun for us that will also entertain a paper-eating, bookcase-climbing, potty/toilet/toilet brush obsessed, cat tormenting, happy little hooligan?…Hmm…this will require some thought!