Road Rage

I can’t believe I haven’t done a post with that title before, it seems impossible. Maybe I have, but I’m sorry- this stuff is like poison- you’ve got to squeeze it out of the wound as soon as possible.

Basically, having spent over 4.5 hours driving around Greater Manchester today, I can quite honestly say that there is not one of you crazy bastards on the roads, that I would trust my life with.

It’s like you all got behind the wheel today, saw the torrential rain and thought “hmm, what can I do to make these hazardous driving conditions even more treacherous?…”

A bit of middle-lane driving perhaps?

A spot of undertaking on the waterlogged motorway?

Maybe I should just ignore these lane closure signs- yes, all ten of them, as difficult as that may be, and then pull in right in front of you at the very last minute nearly taking out your front passenger side?

I’ve got it! Perhaps I could sit completely stationary on this beautiful yellow grid someone has painted in the middle of this junction. Yay- yellow is my favouritest colour, la la la, I wonder why everyone is braying their horn at me?

I swear, one guy pulled up so close behind me at the traffic lights this evening, that I wasn’t sure if he had spatial awareness issues or was making a move on me. It was that intimate.

Guys. All of you, do me a favour: Go home. Park up your BMW/Landrover/Nissan/Audi (yes, even audi drivers are getting in on the action these days. It’s catching!)

Then very carefully, and very deliberately flush your keys down the toilet BEFORE YOU KILL US ALL.

Birth Story- Revisited

The original, written a few days after the actual event is already here on the blog, but exactly 3 years on I felt like revisiting it afresh.

So, here goes:

The Birth of Rudy

I woke up at 12.47am on Monday the 10th October to a contraction. Another one followed 8 minutes after.  I was 38 weeks and 3 days pregnant and I thought “this is it, here we go…”

I had a “show” at around 8.30 that morning, and I continued to have irregular contractions all day Monday.  At times they would be regular for an hour or so, and then become irregular again.  We burnt clary sage oil, and I spent a lot of time bouncing on my birthing ball, or later pacing the living room.  For most of the day I was excited and happy but by early evening I began to feel a bit tetchy.  I had a feeling things would possibly ramp up once Toby, who was almost 2 at the time, went to bed and sure enough, they did.

By 9.30 that evening I was contracting every 3 minutes.  At around 11pm I called the midwives and about an hour later, a midwife P and my case-loading student midwife H arrived.  P read my birth plan (H had seen it a couple of weeks before), and took my blood pressure.  I agreed to a VE, mostly out of curiosity, and H declared my cervix to be “2cms and stretchy”  They both left shortly after, recommending that I try to rest or have a warm bath and call them back if I needed anything.

More or less as soon as I heard their car pull away I had my strongest contraction up to that point, and had to grab on to the bookcase for support and moan through it.  I almost felt like running to the front door and yelling “come back!” but felt like that was ridiculous.

It was clear that the plan to relax, either in the bath or in bed wouldn’t work, so Chris ended up watching cbeebies in bed on the laptop with Toby whilst I knelt on the bedroom floor, leaning over the side of the bed, contracting regularly and moo-ing into my balled-up t-shirt.

At some point Chris hooked me up to my tens machine and fetched me a couple of paracetamol and a glass of apple juice.  My friend Emma made her way over and when she arrived she took over from Chris looking after Toby, so that he could go downstairs and start filling the birth pool.

At some point I told Emma that I wanted Chris to call the midwives, and at 2.20am he did.  Around the same time, I decided I’d better get down the stairs or I never would, and once down there I found a comfortable spot kneeling on the sofa, leaning over the back.

I didn’t really experience transition as such but I did have a brief period of time where I felt very hot and then very cold, and slightly queasy, so asked Chris for a bucket, which he put by the side of me, although by that time the feeling was gone.  I also got a bit narky briefly, annoyed that my headphone cables were tangling with my tens machine cables, so in the end Chris put my relaxing birth music on the hi-fi instead.

The pool was ready but I was aware the midwives were on their way back and that they’d probably want to examine me when they arrived.  I detested the idea of getting in the water and then having to get out so decided to stay put, unaware of how advanced things were.

Chris told me afterwards that he knew things were happening quickly because he recognised the noises I was making from Toby’s birth, and that he was really anxious that not only were the midwives not there yet, but that I hadn’t even taken my pants off at that point.

The contractions were strong and steady now, and took all my concentration but I was still perfectly happy and lucid between each one, and could hold a conversation (arguing with Chris that if I took my pants off, my bare ass would be the first thing to greet the midwives as they came through the door).

At 3.05am I heard car doors slamming, and knew that P and H were back.  They said they could hear me contracting from the street (oops, sorry everyone in Leve I guess!) and asked if they could examine me and check baby’s heart rate before I got in the pool, which I agreed to, although they had to wait for a sufficient gap between contractions for the VE.

P estimated my cervix at 8-9cms and went out to the car to get supplies (I was feeling quite happy at the prospect of some gas and air at this point) whilst H started removing my tens machine so I could get in the water.

At which point I told her to stop, because “the baby is coming”.

Both her and Chris thought I meant in the wider “the baby will soon be here” sense, and were all “yes, yes…we know…we’re getting you in the pool now..” to which I replied “No, I mean, the baby is coming NOW”

H thought perhaps the pressure I was feeling was my waters about to break but she looked anyway and lo and behold, there was a head (told you so!)

Chris said she seemed kind of panicked and out of her depth at this point (he was at my head end, she was at the other, so they were facing each other, but all I could see was Chris’s face and the living room wall behind the sofa) but I didn’t pick up on that at all, I thought she sounded really calm as she told me that baby was being born in his waters, which was considered lucky.  She asked me to “blow” the contraction away.  I shook my head but tried it anyway.

There was nothing to be done for it though, I understood then what people meant when they had told me that the second stage of labour is like vomiting downwards- you know it’s about to happen and there is nothing you can do to stop it!  P came back from the car and was greeted by a crowning baby, Chris said she didn’t even have time to get her gloves on.  I don’t think I even pushed, there was just one mighty contraction and then there he was- born at 3.16am.  Apparently his waters broke as he was born- I so wish I could have seen it from the other side!  I still couldn’t see him, but everyone assured me he was fine, and then helped me to sit back without squashing him, and we had skin to skin.

P confirmed what she’d read in our birth plan- that I wanted a natural third stage, and I said yes.  H then said she thought the placenta was already ‘there’, and asked me to give a little push.  I did and ta daaaa, away came the placenta.  The cord had already stopped pulsing so Chris cut it, and then Rudy had a feed.

At some point Emma, who had been stunned to hear a baby crying came down to confirm she hadn’t lost her mind, and Chris went to fetch Toby downstairs as well, so he could meet his baby brother.  Both P and H completed their paperwork whilst me and Rudy snuggled and Toby played with his toy cars on the side of the birth pool (occasionally dropping them in).  There was some lighthearted discussion about what to record the times as, since things had progressed so quickly.  In the end they settled on:

1st stage: 5 hours, 46 minutes

2nd stage: unrecordable

3rd stage: 4 minutes.

For me labour began in my mind with the first contraction so the whole thing from start to finish was 26 hours, 33 minutes.  Before the midwives left Rudy had his vitamin k injection and was weighed, I was checked for tears (1st degree- no need for stitches, which I was truly delighted about!) and I went upstairs for the obligatory pee and to get a fresh nightie on.

Emma killed a spider for me, brought me a glass of water and some paracetamol (for the bitching afterpains), had a quick snuggle with Rudy and then headed home to bed.  Rudy had a good feed and then at about 6am we all went to bed too.

Toby was up a mere two and half hours later and so began our life as a family of four!

People think I am joking, or crazy (or both!) when I say that I enjoyed my second labour and birth.  A lot of people ask “didn’t it hurt?” and the answer, for me, is that yes, it was intensely painful.  But the intense part of that, for me is key.  It wasn’t frantic “shit, I’ve chopped one of my fingers off with a kitchen knife: searing pain and panic!” or “argh, my leg is broken, this feels wrong and horrible and I’m quite worried”.  In the whole 26 hours and 33 minutes, I never once felt frightened, scared, or even worried.  I felt very calm (excepting perhaps one contraction just before he was born when my tens cable came unplugged and I may have slightly, bit Chris’s hand…shhh!) and I felt confident that everything was happening as it should, and that both me and my baby were safe- and we were.

I can’t honestly say it was my “dream” birth or even perfectly to plan, as clearly we had inflated a birth pool for a reason!  Also with the wonder of hindsight, I’d like to have tweaked a couple of things, including maybe using my placenta in some way- even if just to do placenta prints and/or bury it somewhere.  BUT it was awesome, and in a way, it was perfect, because everything just happened, without me needing to think or act, it just was.  And I loved every minute.

Full Disclosure

In my last fostering update I remarked that the whole process had been quite a slow one up to that point.  Apparently that was some kind of incantation, because since then it’s been a whirlwind of activity.

It’s fantastic that things are moving steadily now- DBS checks are underway, our medicals have been completed, and we’re a few sessions in to the assessment process with our social worker who is visiting us weekly to quiz us on EVERY SINGLE THING THAT HAS EVER HAPPENED TO US.  Which, as I’m sure I’ve said before, is basically what the Form F1 (which goes to the fostering panel at the end of all this) is made up of.  It’s like a very in-depth life history.  And when I say very in-depth, I really mean it.

Last week our social worker’s visit lasted four hours, and that was exclusively about my childhood/family.  Chris was in bed after a night shift, Toby was in school, and Rudy was playing with stickle bricks/lego/playdoh (well, it was four hours long).

And it’s not just the Form F1 that is thorough- each of our medicals took over an hour, and covered pretty much every single ailment we’d ever had. Plus waist and hip measurements (no really), a breast examination (that’s me, not Chris) and an eye test (during which it became apparent that I’m pretty much blind, and should really wear my glasses more often, or, you know ALWAYS).

Of course, it makes perfect sense that the assessment process is so invasive, as you’re going to be dealing with and caring for extremely vulnerable children and you’ll be in a position of incredible trust and responsibility, so I’m not for one minute suggesting that it’s over-zealous for them to want to know every little thing.  That doesn’t mean it doesn’t feel weird though.  To discuss every little detail of your life with someone you only met a few weeks ago, and who is going to be presenting all those details in a report to a panel of strangers.  To have your personal measurements and medical history scribbled down and sent away to some uber-doc who then signs you off as either fit to foster or not.  That last bit is especially weird, as I already have two children.  So if I’m healthy enough to care for them, you’d assume that would apply to foster children also, no?

In any case that’s where we’re at right now- disclosing everything and then when there’s nothing left to disclose, we will go to panel.