Sunday, 2 March 2014

Marlene's Birth: The Friend's Eye View

There were a lot of people at Marlene's birth; me, Ingo, Leelah, my Mum and Dad and my wonderful friend Sam. Oh and two midwives. Party time!

I have known Sam for only three years but our friendship is incredibly deep having both gone through several life changing experiences during this relatively short time. We met just before I got pregnant with Leelah and she massaged me through that pregnancy so she has an extra special bond with Leelah that is as strong as any family connection, in fact I would go as far as to say I see her as part of my family. Once again, with Marlene's pregnancy and the failed pregnancy before that, Sam has been with me every step of the way offering me love and support. She is also a brilliant, naturally gifted massage therapist and with her strong sense of empathy, compassion and intuition I wanted her to share in the experience of Marlene's birth... 

Here is her story.

Sharmila phoned me at around 6:30am. “I think something is happening, but if it’s not then we can just hang out and then go out for breakfast”. Seemed a reasonable enough request to me.

Having massaged Sharmila through all of her pregnancies, I knew that she was very in tune with her baby and what was going on in her body. The night before we’d talked about ‘letting go of pregnancy’. If she was ready to call me, then I was almost certain that she was ready to give birth. There was no point hanging around. I threw some clothes on, grabbed my own pre-organised ‘birth bag’ (ingredients for the placenta smoothie – yes, really – and some decent Gin & Tonic to wet the baby’s head), de-iced the car and got the hell over to Bishopston. Fast. 

As a massage therapist, I’ve seen many women for ante and post-natal massage, read a lot of books and heard a lot of birth stories, but this was the first time I’d attended a home birth. I was excited and nervous at the same time. It’s a huge honour to be present at any birth and I wondered how I might feel witnessing this powerful process. I’m pretty clued up about the stages of labour, but with every woman and birth being so different there were many variables to consider. Many of the people I’d spoken to had warned me about how it might feel to see such a close friend in pain. I felt as ready as I could be for this experience.

I’m interested in how Doulas ‘mother the mother’ but I wondered how it would work with both Ingo and I supporting Sharmila at the birth, after all this was one of the most intimate moments they would ever experience together.  As it happened, there was very little for me to worry about. From the moment I arrived the three of us instinctively found our flow. I very quickly let go of what was going on in my head and tuned in to what was going on with mother and baby. Ingo and I worked alongside each other to give Sharmila all the love, support and comfort she needed to birth this beautiful little girl into the world.

When I arrived Sharmila’s contractions were already pretty frequent. I got hands-on straight away as Ingo finished getting the pool ready. As soon as I put my hands on her back I switched out of head-mode and into body-mode and began sensing what it was that I needed to do. Trusting my intuition implicity. We started to breathe together, deeply. Long. Deep. Exhales. Releasing the jaw. Letting go of the breath. Encouraging the baby to move through her body.

Some of the most incredibly intimate moments were during those early stages when it was just the three of us. Ingo was soothing Sharmila’s face and arms and as I used massage to release the pressure in her back. We were all breathing together, working together to give mother and baby everything they needed to make this powerful transition. The room was ready, beautiful music playing and we savoured every moment of this early stage. Feeling love, connection and above all a deep sense of serenity.

As the contractions got more intense I took a back seat, giving Ingo the space to be closer to Sharmila. I can’t even begin to tell you how much love there was in that house that day.

It wasn’t long before Sharmila was ready to enter pool. The midwives had arrived and were going through their usual checks. They wanted her on her back for examination but I could see that Sharmila just wanted to get into the water and birth this baby.

Once Sharmila was in the pool Ingo held her closely as he gently bathed her back in warm water. I was totally captivated by the beauty of this moment. By this point Sharmila had retreated inside herself ready to move through the final stages of labour. She had gone completely quiet and all I could hear was the lapping of the water and the most incredibly moving music as I became acutely aware of what was happening. I heard one of the midwives say ‘just let the baby gently float to the surface and when you’re ready, bring her to your breast’. I couldn’t believe that the baby had been born. It was such an incredibly beautiful and magical moment. Mother and baby were calm, peaceful and swathed in love as they lost themselves in these first few precious moments together.

Realising what was happening, I ran downstairs and shouted ‘Come! Now! The baby is here!’ Sharmila’s parents came running up the stairs with Leelah. I grabbed her from Jim and rushed to the side of the pool. We cuddled tightly as I crouched down and lifted her up so she could see. Tears began to seep from the corners of my eyes as I saw Sharmila with the newborn at her chest. “Leelah,” I said, “say hello to your baby sister.”

After the serenity of birth came a whirlwind of activity… 

Midwives checking mother and baby. 
Ingo and I holding Sharmila up…legs like jelly as she prepared to birth the placenta. 
Ingo and I having a high-five to celebrate. 
Sharmila off her tits on gas and air with legs spread on the sofa as the midwife puts in a stitch. 
Holding Marlene’s little legs up in the air as Ingo put on her first nappy. 
Downstairs with mum… cackling away like witches as we whizzed up a placenta smoothie whilst Sharmila showered and nestled down with Marlene for her very first feeds. 
Cuddles with Leelah. Cuddles with Marlene.
Lunch with the family as mum and baby got skin on skin.
Planning to bury the remaining placenta at Granny Elizabeth's grave in Cornwall.
Quiet time with mum and baby.

An incredible and magical morning that I wouldn’t have missed for the world. I left the house with no idea where the day could go after such a powerful experience. True to myself, I headed for the Lido. Sitting in the sauna sharing my first birth experience with mums of all ages helped me to connect in with an experience that was as ancient and instinctual as life itself. 

There is no honour greater than to witness the birth of new life. A life-changing moment, for all of us, forever.

Thank you Sam.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

The Birth of Marlene: A Father's Eye View

If you have already read my version of Marlene's birth (if not you can read it here) then you will know that there were a lot of people present to welcome her into the world a few weeks ago. It always fascinates me to hear other peoples experiences of the same event. I asked my husband, Ingo and my friend Sam, both present at Marlene's birth, to write about it from the perspectives. None of us read each other's accounts before writing our own and it has been interesting to see the differences in perception of time and sequence of events. It is also incredibly moving for me to read their stories and to understand how witnessing something as powerful as birth impacts our relationships. 

First up is Ingo - he wrote this a couple of weeks ago and me laugh and cry in equal measure. Thank you my love:

"Week 4 after birth. My body hurts, my brain is fried, I am confused, highly irritable and I am fucking knackered. I invented a new word for this: 'fackered'. I am also at times ecstatic and happy. So, this is probably not the ideal starting point to finally write down my 'birth story' but hey... let's go!

Right.. a confession right from the start: I can't remember much. Well, I can remember a lot of snapshots.. flashes.. like a long paparazzi attack - but I find it hard to remember the whole thing as one chronological process. We had a full house this time. Sharmila's parents, Little Leelah, our good friend Sam [a female Sam @misssamlacey], two midwifes and myself. There should have also been two 'One Born Every Minute' producer/camera people but they thank god ballsed it all up and we told them at the last minute not to bother. I don't think there would have been enough room in our 'birth lounge' anyway. So, there we were, well prepared, birth pool fully blown up, sitting there like a midget bouncy castle, ready for attack, with all of the experience of a previous successful home birth, and I was still very nervous and but also excited and relieved that this whole waiting game period was finally about to come to it's natural end. It was the eve of the battle, die Ruhe vor dem Sturm.

Here's what I remember, not what really happened, just what I can now recall:

Me thinking "I can smell it - just like the first time - I can feel that it's just about to happen".

Sharmila calling me upstairs, telling me that 'there is definitely something going on'.

Filling the pool with water, trying to get that water temperature just right but that's not easy because we don't have a mixer tap that is small enough to fit on the connector that came with the hire pool, so the hose is now connected to the hot tap and I need to do that whole pool-filling in a clever way, meaning that I need to think about how much hot water I need to put in now and how much space I need to leave for a cold water top up so the pool is just filled up to the correct height while taking into account the time that will now pass until Sharmila will actually go into the pool, then realising that that's actually totally out of my control, so I desperately try to keep that bloody pool at the right temperature. At some point I just run up and down the stairs, numerous times, down to the kitchen tap and upstairs again, with a massive white plastic bucket, trying to get too cold water out of the pool and new, hotter water back in, always trying to keep that temperature right. Now here's a great tip for you: Put that birth pool hose on a mixer tap.

Sharmila kneeling over a bouncing ball, me massaging/rubbing her lower back, telling her that she's doing great and everything is just fine.

Icelandic music that I've never heard before on repeat. Candles. Water bottle. Lower back rubbing.

Sam doing the same while I run down with another bucket of water.

Midwifes arriving, the main one IS GERMAN [lol], me offering tea but they don't want any.

Sharmila doing some new style brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr noises, riding the waves. More back rubbing.

Midwife suggesting to enter the pool, me worrying that the temperature now might not be right.

Hectic adding of hot water to bring up the pool temperature.

Sharmila in the pool, the in-laws in and out of the lounge, Sharmila's mum with a camera, like a miniature war reporter. Looking back now, I can't really remember what they did. I think they mostly looked after Little Leelah. And Sharmila's dad helped me with the pool saga.

Sharmila still in the pool, then suddenly, MUCH quicker than I suspected.. OOOOOOOH something is happening now... I CAN SEE THE HEAD OF A BABY COMING UP UNDER THE WATER


..and there she is, Marlene. All the Anspannung is suddenly falling off me, it's a total rush now, looking at her little face, looking at Sharmila, this massive wave of relieve and happiness washing over me, people around me, all these people suddenly, Little Leelah shouting "THE BABY THE BABY", Sharmila's mum shooting pics, Sharmila still in the pool, now holding Marlene who is already aiming for a boob. There is an electric atmosphere in this room.. ecstatic, happy faces.

Then slowly back to business.. me cutting the cord, joking that it will feel again like cutting off a pinky finger.. Marlene getting cleaned and weighed, Sharmila moving to the sofa, all the after birth business, placenta, getting stiched up, finally nicking some gas&air.. it really gets very foggy now.. me obviously holding Marlene.. just happy."

Sunday, 9 February 2014

The Birth of Marlene: A Mother's Eye View

The night before my due date I wrote two blog posts, one celebrating my pregnancies and one saying goodbye to a miraculous body that I would never see or feel again.

I don't know if it was just that the due date was the next day, or my motherly instinct screaming out to me that things were ripening up nicely, but the night before we also decided that it would be a wise move to ready the lounge for the birth so that Ingo wasn't inflating the pool or moving sofas while I was trying to focus on breathing through contractions.

My due date, Saturday 11th January, came and although I was experiencing some pretty intense Braxton Hicks there was no sign of an imminent labour. We spent the day playing with Leelah, headed out to the park in the sunshine and generally enjoyed each other's company.

On Sunday morning I woke up at 6am and stumbled, bleary eyed, to the toilet for a wee, all pretty normal in the latter stages of this pregnancy. I snuggled back into bed and started to drift off, vaguely aware of my stomach hardening and tightening through an intense wave of Braxton Hicks contractions. Through the early morning doziness I started to become more conscious that the tightening was changing, like a band round my pelvis and under my bump, not just the indiscriminate hardening of Braxton Hicks. I lay still and quiet in the dark and focused my attention on my body and my baby girl, who was moving gently inside my uterus.

Then the intense tightening came again and this time I knew that my body was readying itself for labour.

I checked the time. Two short, painless contractions in 30 minutes, not much to go on but enough for me to get excited. Ingo was already half awake so I let him know that I thought I was starting to go into labour but I wasn't totally sure. I put on some relaxing music, snuggled back into bed and I sent a text saying STAND BY to my dear friend Sam, who I wanted to be at the birth as she had been an incredible support physically and emotionally through both pregnancies and the first years of Leelah's life.

Then another wave of sensation hit and this time it was stronger again. It was 6.40am and I decided to call Sam and told her to get on her way round just in case, even if I wasn't in labour I said we could have a cuppa and some breakfast together.

We headed downstairs and I let my parents, who were staying with us, know that I was about to call the midwife even though I wasn't in the three contractions within 10 minutes zone. I had been roughly timing contractions and by 6.50am they were lasting one minute and coming every six minutes. Definitely regular and getting closer together with each contraction, things were progressing fast.

I called the midwife at 7am as we really wanted them with us this time. I had a brief chat and filled them in on my previous birth with Leelah and the fact that things where moving quickly this time and that I (and Ingo!) would appreciate someone coming out as soon as possible. The midwife on call phoned back quickly and reassured me

that she and her colleague woud be with us within 40 minutes. At this point Ingo had a brief panic as he thought it might be too late. I reassured him that the contractions were too far apart and not at all painful so I was sure they would be here on time.

At this point I was on top of the contractions, using my ball on all fours and doing farty horse lips to the crescendo of the contractions (thanks Mitch at Birthology for this tip), and singing and sighing as the waves subsided. Ingo stayed with me and massaged my lower back and spine each time while my Dad sorted out the pool and my Mum wandered about purposefully with her camera.

Sam arrived at 7.15am and by then contractions had increased in intensity and were coming every five minutes. I was heading rapidly into established labour and I was still happy and relaxed between contractions, laughing and joking with Sam and Ingo. As each contraction began I knelt down, hugged the ball and swayed my hips while they massaged my back, I focused right into the sensations allowing myself to completely acknowledge and understand what was happening to my body and my baby. I remember my Mum walking in mid contraction and complaining that her camera flash wasn't working! Not really the most important thing on my mind at that moment and I chose a couple of colourful words to let her know. Sorry Mum.

At 7.45am the first midwife arrived followed closely by the second midwife at 7.55am. They took my blood pressure and listened to baby, all wonderful.

Then everything accelerated, and slowed down all at the same time...

I became less aware of what was going on around me and more focused on the contractions and my breathing. Flashes of what was happening seeped into my awareness:

Hearing my Mum take Leelah, my two year old daughter, downstairs into the kitchen for breakfast.
Hearing Leelah's sweet voice saying "Mummy is busy and she's singing" and "Mummy is letting the baby out in the pool".
Ingo running up and down the stairs with my Dad, bringing boiled water up from the kitchen for the pool.
Hearing Ingo ordering my Dad not to take away the big saucepan with handles as that was my sick bucket.
Seeing Ingo standing by the pool dripping with sweat.
On all fours hugging my ball.
Being massaged by Ingo and Sam, soothing hands helping me ride through the contractions.
Hugging Ingo through a contraction.

By 8.15am I couldn't stand up at all as the contractions were continuous, so I crawled about on the floor making horse noises and loud ahhhhhhhh singing sounds. Ah hello transition.

Suddenly the sensations changed and I told the midwives I could feel Marlene bearing down and I wanted to get in the pool quickly, the tell tale pressure in my lower back and bum told me everything I needed to know. I was ready, she was ready. But the midwife wanted me to quickly lie on my back so she could check I was fully dilated. I looked at her incredulously and declared I CANNOT LIE ON MY BACK I WANT TO PUSH. I was calm but the thought of lying down was pretty abhorrent. In a brief pause in contractions I reluctantly rolled over and a swift examination confirmed that I was fully dilated after only an hour and 10 minutes of active labour.

It was time to enter the water.

I swiftly stripped off and clambered into the pool and almost immediately was swept up in a powerful pushing sensation. I fell silent and leant against the side of the pool, my arms around Ingo's neck as he washed water over my back.

I focused right into the sensation, all my concentration flowing down to my baby imagining her travelling down and out. It was such a powerful feeling. I heard the midwives and Ingo gently encouraging me. No need to push as I felt her move down. I just breathed deeply down, down into my body. Then the sensation subsided and I came back to the room, a few minutes later and after two more powerful pushing contractions I felt Marlene crown, a burning sensation which receded as the contraction slowed and she gently retreated.

As I came up out of the contraction I realised my parents and daughter were by the pool alongside my husband and Sam. Leelah my beautiful, perfect first daughter was right in front of me watching as with one final powerful contraction Marlene, her baby sister, floated out into the pool and I scooped her gently to the surface.

Her tiny face up turned, so peaceful and calm.

I gently drew her head to my chest, both of us buoyed by the water. Slowly she opened her eyes and mouth and drew her first deep breath. I looked up at the faces around me full of tears, smiles and joy.

Welcome to the world tiny girl.

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Saying Goodbye to Pregnancy

In yesterday's post I mentioned that this will be the last time I go through pregnancy. As the final hours and days of this pregnancy rolled by I found myself wishing to preserve and share the incredible change in my body that has created, nurtured and carried two lives into this world. The pregnant body is often hidden away and yet it is also treated as a free for all, commented on and critiqued in the media and complete strangers feel they can remark openly about your size or even touch your burgeoning bump.

The transformation of the female body during pregnancy is nothing short of astonishing, both inside and out. I love this animation from the Museum of Science & Industry in Chicago of the internal changes as the mother's organs make way for the growing baby. It is amazing that our bodies can cope with such dramatic and swift change.

I can honestly say that despite the stretchmarks and aching hips I have felt more body confident during pregnancy than at any other time in my life. I only hope that I can take this feeling of empowerment and confidence into my post pregnancy life.

So as I bid a bittersweet farewell to this pregnancy I also look forward to the new journey my body will take over the course of my life as a mother.

Photo by Benjamin Robert Muir

Thank you to my dear friend Sam Lacey (@misssamlacey) who took these three photos for me and who is a constant source of support, love and light in my life.

I really wanted to blog a photo that included the transformation of the bump and breasts but sadly I decided against it as I don't want the image to be misused. It is a shame as it is an incredibly powerful image and probably the best one from the set that Sam took. But at least I have it to look back on.

Thanks also to Corinne of Motherhood Journeys blog who inspired me with this post 

Pregnancy: The Final Countdown

Back through the fogs of time, in April of last year, a sperm and and egg met up for a date in my uterus and our second daughter mitosis-ed into existence.


So here I am in the final hours or days of this pregnancy, today is the ESTIMATED due date for Nugget's arrival. Of course that's just an ESTIMATED due date so I have been on standby for the last three weeks and will continue to be patient as a saint until she arrives – so long as that's in the next week :-) I don't believe in a baby being early or late just that if all is going well they will come when they come. No sweeps, curries or pineapples for me, just good old relaxation time... and as much sleep as possible.

Since I joined Twitter 2 years ago, the day after Leelah was born, I have read a plethora of pregnancy related blogs and articles. So many of them titled The Truth About Pregnancy. An odd title I always think as surely it should be The Truth About MY Pregnancy. If there's one thing I have learnt through my journey to parenthood it's that everyone has a different truth, a different story to tell. So how has pregnancy been for me, what is my truth about pregnancy?

As it turns out it seems that I am either really lucky with pregnancy or really unlucky. My first miscarriage in October 2010 was a missed miscarriage and was a terrible shock but thankfully immediately after that awful 12 week scan I miscarried naturally so was spared medical intervention. My second pregnancy resulted in our beautiful daughter Leelah who was born in January 2012. As pregnancies go it was as trouble free as you can get and I basked in  nine months of glowing skin and a blooming belly, big, bouncy hair, yoga, swimming and massage.

23 weeks with Leelah in September 2011
25 weeks with Leelah, October 2011

29 weeks with Leelah, November 2011
35 weeks with Leelah, Decmber 2011
38 weeks with Leelah, Christmas Day 2011
Pregnancy three was bad from the start, I felt drained and depressed for the first 12 weeks and at the scan was confronted with a waving kicking baby with an enlarged bladder (you can read my post about this here). Three weeks down the line at 15 weeks and I was in the room of doom swallowing a pill to end the tiny life inside me and two days later it passed out of me and into a cardboard bowl in the toilet... that's the harsh reality. We didn't dwell on this passing, we didn't name our baby or give it a 'life' but we still remember it all. We coped by talking openly and by sharing our experience. It shouldn't be taboo and increasingly I am finding that people are willing to talk about miscarriage and failed or terminated pregnancies. This can only be a good thing.

Two months later, in April of 2013, I peed on a stick in my downstairs toilet and did a little jig of joy as the tell tale digital display announced 2-3 weeks pregnant. WHOOOP! But also ARGH, another 10 weeks of waiting to see if this baby would be staying the course. Having had two failed miscarriages the wait for scans is a testing and emotional time but having a gorgeous toddler to distract you is the perfect antidote.

I had planned to blog week by week about pregnancy but in the end I spent time setting up my own massage therapy business (relax restore revive), training to further my knowledge of working with pregnancy and postnatal women and spending time with Little L. Also my pregnancy seemed too uneventful, I won't lie, it's been wonderful, I have felt great all the way through. As with Leelah this pregnancy has been beautiful and blooming.

First Trimester

No nausea. Phewee. Just an aversion in the early days to the smell of meat cooking, even slow roast pulled pork.

Overwhelming, brick to the head tiredness in the first few weeks. Napping with Little L became a common theme during this pregnancy and one I cherished dearly.

Gas, a lot of gas. I grew a big, bloated belly which made me look 18 weeks pregnancy at only nine weeks pregnant. I gave my Dad a run for his money on the flatulence and belching front I can tell you.

Feeling Nugget wriggling around as early as 12 weeks, a whole seven weeks earlier than with Little L.

The 12 Week Scan and Testing for Chromosomal Abnormalities

I find the language around all this so tricky. We chose to have the triple screening test this time round as we already have a child and with Mr B being quite a bit older than me we felt that we wouldn't be able to cope long term with a child that wasn't... 'normal'... I mean what the hell is normal, what does that actually mean? It sounds so awful and wrong to say it like that. We didn't really know what we would do if the results of all this came back as confirming abnormalities. It would either mean we were prepared for our child or we would terminate. We would cross the decision making bridge if we had to.

Our risk factor came back as 1/57 (anything that comes back as 1/150 or below means you are considered high risk). Nothing on screen had indicated that there was anything to worry about, it was all about the number crunching but this meant we were given the option of a CVS test (Chronic Villus Sample) being taken from the placental tissue or waiting until 15 weeks for an Amniocentesis. Initially we went for the CVS but the baby was hanging out in front of the placenta and waving at us so we ditched that. Seeing that spirited little nugget of life bobbing around made me feel utterly positive that this little one was fine so we waited a couple of weeks to have the Amniocentesis as there is marginally less risk of having a miscarriage with an Amnio.

Compared to the CVS I had with the previous pregnancy the Amnio was a walk in the park. The needle for the CVS had been of comedic proportions, like something in an alien abduction and I needed local anesthetic for the puncture site. The Amnio needle was a dainty thing and was over very quickly, we watched on the screen as it entered the amniotic fluid, far away from, yet so close to, our baby.

A couple of days wait and the call to tell us that everything was 'normal', my instinct had been proven right. A week later we received a lovely little card telling us the gender of the baby, which we opened together with Little L. Another girl. Sisters. With possibly the same birthday! Happy days.

Second Trimester

My second trimester was fuelled with energy and I threw myself into my business and spending quality time with Little L.

I had a phase of two weeks in the early second trimester where I only ate yellow foods: Pasta and cheese sauce, potatoes with loads of butter, grapefruits, banana milkshake, crunchy nut cornflakes. I went through this again in the late second trimester. Love those yellow foods.

Spitting blood. As I viewed the daily massacre in my bathroom sink cleaning my teeth became a lot like an episode of True Blood. Bleeding gums have stayed with me on and off during both pregnancies.

The nerves and joy of the 20 week scan. A healthy little Nugget waving and kicking.

Around 25 weeks I started to grow into my bump so instead of feeling huge and floppy I started to feel a lovely round, rubbable bump.

26 weeks with Nugget, October 2013
Braxton Hicks contractions started around 25 weeks, shrink wrapping Nugget and giving me the hardest stomach I will ever have. Not sure doing The Plank every day for a year will get me a belly that hard.

The 10 week break. Second time round and I didn't see a Midwife from 18 weeks to 28 weeks. Left to your own devices for several weeks, getting on with the general business of growing a baby, time really flies.

Third Trimester

28 week blood tests. Healthy iron levels (most likely due to the amount of black pudding I consume) but there were some questions about antibodies found in my blood, which meant I was referred to a consultant at the antenatal clinic. After two weeks of wondering whether I would be able to have a home birth or not it turned out that the Midwife had been over cautious and the Consultant said that were no antibodies present that could harm Nugget and that it was probably just a virus I was carrying at the time. Relief. However the Midwives have still decided to take blood from the cord and from me after birth just to be sure, which I appreciate.
30 weeks with Nugget, November 2013. Before and after breakfast!
Night time hip ache and nocturnal toilet trips. The hips got really bad around 30 weeks, so my nightly toilet trips saw me hobbling to the loo like a stiff old lady. Thankfully the combination of chiropractor and massage worked and now it's just the toilet trips that get me out of bed at night.

Nugget engaged at around 34 weeks and has stayed in a firm head down, left occiput anterior position which is perfect for birth, she then dropped even further down at around 38 weeks so this time round I have got the 'waddle' and a heavy grinding in my pelvis... trust me that's not as good as it sounds.

39 weeks with Nugget, January 2014

And really that's it, nothing more to report other than Nugget has grown, the bump has grown, my body has changed. And what a beautiful body it is. I love my pregnant body. The miracle of growing a life and the miracle of our bodies. It really is incredible.

I might also mention that I get all the good hormonal stuff when I am pregnant. I am calmer, more patient (most of the time) and feel very content and in love with the world. I have also eaten quite a lot of cake.

All that remains now is the final countdown to #binkypop

Friday, 18 October 2013

The one where I might get naked on national TV

Some of you may know already that One Born Every Minute is being filmed in Bristol's Southmead Hospital RIGHT NOW - literally there could be a baby being born under the spotlight as I type. Until November the production team will have their rig up in Southmead's maternity ward and at the newly opened Cossham Birth Centre.

Filming in Cossham Birth Centre is a new direction for the programme which has been somewhat associated with 'on the back medicalised hospital birth pumped full of drugs'. To be fair not all the births it features are like that at all but there is definitely room to show a wider variety of births and to get out of the hospital wards.

But even bigger changes are afoot and this year OBEM will be featuring home births for the first time, yes that's right home births. Now I don't know about you but I have watched pretty much every series of OBEM and I found it particularly useful in the run up to Leelah's birth. I mean witnessing birth isn't an every day occurrence for most of us and certainly few of us are privileged enough to be present as another person's birth unfolds. Watching the series made me understand so many things about what we go through as women and as partners. It demystified so many elements of birth for me and made me confident that I could do it too, it also made me not want to give birth in a hospital, I just don't like them and to me birth wasn't about being treated, it was about what nature gifted me with, about nurture and the comfort of home. I am also lazy and the thought of rousing myself into a taxi in the middle of labour just didn't appeal.

I digress.

So after I had given birth to Leelah at home (you can read about our amazing, funny, wonderful story here on Emma's blog ) I watched OBEM with different eyes and one incredible birth experience behind me. I said to Mr B: "It's such a shame they don't have any home births on this series isn't it?" I said it like a bloody parrot every time I watched it, then one day I said: "Well I would do it, I wouldn't mind sharing our home birth on something like this".

Then I forgot about it... until a couple of months ago when a Twitter friend Retweeted me into a Tweet from the OBEM  production team saying that they were looking for people planning a home birth in Bristol between August - November 2013. Well that put us out of the running, or so I thought. As it turns out home births don't need to adhere to the strict production schedule because they don't rely on a big rig up and only involve a tripod, a camera and one camera person. Simple. So....

I knew I wanted to do it. I was fortunate enough to have had other people share their wonderful birth experiences with me and each and every one was different but equally inspiring. Hearing those stories helped me believe in my own strength and empowered me to embrace the gift that mother nature gave me. It also helped Mr B and that is just as important in my eyes. The experience of the birth partner is also hugely important to see and share. To me doing OBEM would be a way to share a natural and beautiful experience with many people, to demystify and empower other people to believe they can do it too and that there is nothing to fear. It's not for everyone and I understand that but there are people who just don't even think about a home birth or that birth doesn't have to be hard and torturous, many people have only ever had one option presented to them PAIN SUFFERING HOSPITAL. We've come to dread birth and I think that is really a shame as it isn't always that way.

Bloody hell I am rambling off again.

Just like with having a home birth the first time round it is Mr B who had the doubts, not about being at home but about having someone else there with us... and not just someone else but millions of people. How would it affect me, him, the baby, the process of birth? I know it is going to be different to our birth experience with Leelah, every birth is different but I feel ready and able to share our birth experience if it will help other people find strength and inspiration to choose the birth they want without fear and anxiety.

So we've said yes. We will do it. We've met two of the team at our house (a female producer and female camera operator) and talked it through at length. Mr B and I have talked it through. We can pull out at any time if we aren't comfortable.

Is it going to change the atmosphere of giving birth at home? Who can say how it will be, it's all just speculation after all. Last time there was a point when three young male paramedics were discussing my record collection with me as I lay stark bonkers naked on the floor laughing between contractions.

I don't mind people being there if they bring the right energy to the space.

Birth is about celebration to me, I was as high as the stars last time.

Who knows what the birth of little nugget will bring but I am ready to share her birth and our experience.

Would you be willing to share your birth experience on camera. How do you feel about programmes like One Born Every Minute? Am I wise to be flashing my all and sundry to the world?

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Guest Post: The waiting game

Today I am very pleased to welcome the lovely Corinne to my little space on the blogosphere. She normally blogs over at Motherhood Journeys but she is having a battle with technical gremlins at the moment, which means her blog is out of action for now and she needs a space to let off some steam... so I was more than happy to provide a platform for her to do so. 

Corinne was a great support to me earlier this year when we had to make the difficult decision to terminate a pregnancy at 15 weeks, you can read about that here. She helped me through a difficult time and reading her blog and her story gave me strength to make the decisions that were right for us regardless of what others might think. I have been both moved and inspired by her emotional strength during her current pregnancy as that too has not been easy. She is an awesome woman so without further ado over to Corinne:

My blog is playing up and I can't access it, strangely some people can access it and others can't. It's driving me nuts and all the things I'd usually blog about are backing up in my brain and I'm a bit worried about it starting to leak out of my ears... A guest post seemed to be the safest way forward, so thank you Mrs B for letting me post this on your blog.

Of course, now it comes to actually writing my mind has gone a bit blank and I wonder how much whinging I can get away with on someone else's blog? (Answer - as much as you like, Mrs B). If you don't know me or my blog, my name is Corinne (@MotherScuffer on Twitter) and I blog about my life as a Mum to 3 boys. I am currently pregnant with boy number 4 and this is my biggest whinge source at the moment, I usually love being pregnant but I'm struggling this time and would quite like to stop being pregnant soon.

So, here I am at 34 weeks and 5 days pregnant. A combination of pregnancy exhaustion, insomnia and a heart murmur means that I'm pretty much stuck at home bored out of my mind trying to entertain 2 small children who are equally fed up of being stuck indoors with a really dull mummy. I want him out. But I know he's not at term so obviously I don't want him out, but I'd like to fast forward 2 weeks and 2 days and for him to pop out. If I knew he was going to arrive at 37 weeks I'd probably be coping a little bit better, but as all of my boys have arrived 10 days past their due date I know that this little one is more likely to arrive in October instead. October feels a long way off. Oh, I know in the big scheme of things it's not that far off, but like I said, I'm whinging.

Then there's the other side of me that remembers that I'm actually going to go through labour and have a baby. This little one has a brain condition called Agenesis of the Corpus Collosum, which basically means the 2 sides of his brain aren't connected and he's likely to have developmental issues. There's also an increased risk of him not being able to breathe after birth so I'm a bit worried about that.

An amazing MRI image of Scuffer Boy Number 4 at 29 weeks

We'll need to stay in hospital for a few days after he's born so he can have checks done, I've never had to stay in before and that feels a bit strange. Gareth (my husband) is due to start a new job in a couple of weeks and we're not sure if he'll get time off when the baby arrives. I don't think he's even told them I'm expecting a baby yet! I'm trying not to think too much about childcare issues and just think we'll sort something out when it comes to it.

Then I remember that I'm going to be bringing an actual newborn baby home. I'm so excited about being able to sleep and walk and breathe that I sort of forget that I'm going to have a baby to look after. I wonder how I'll manage a 4 year old, 2 year old and a baby. Again, I know I will but if I think about it too much I get a bit overwhelemed and have to stick my fingers in my ear and sing "lalalalala" very loudly.

I think what this basically boils down to is that I have too much time on my hands while I am a bit housebound so I am over-thinking everything. This has been a stressful pregnancy with all the extra tests and things, so the main thing for me is wanting to hold my baby boy in my arms and to know that he's OK and he's safe. I'm sure I will look back on this time and forget how hard it was, forget how the time dragged as I waited for him to arrive and then I will turn to my husband and ask "shall we try for another?"