Thursday, 24 July 2014

Labour, Delivery and Our Newest Addition!

Life has a whole new meaning.  

When I published my last blog post, I knew I was going to be headed to the Midwife for a membrane sweep (if you've never heard of one, let me tell you, they are the most uncomfortable things in the entire world), and I knew that it would be the start of the end.

I started contractions at 5:30 am on Tuesday.  They were consistent, painful and increasing in both intensity and pace.  We phoned the labour ward and they said we could come up for a check.

Much to my disappointment, I was only 3cm dilated and the contractions had started decreasing once we got there.  The midwives were great and said I could come back later or stay on and wait things out.  I didn't feel like I needed any pain relief, so we opted to return home.  But first - we had a little sit down/contraction fest in the Hospital Costa Coffee to socialise with some of the other doctors.  On hindsight, what the hell were we thinking?!

The wait at home was long.  Eventually, I decided to take a warm bath to ease some of the pain.  Ease the pain?  Try erase the pain.  I felt nothing and didn't understand how this was possible.

A final bump shot before heading to hospital

A friend of ours advised us to get some calories - Coke and ice cream and anything else I fancied.  Sure enough, that made a difference.  The contractions started again and by that time, the day was pretty much done.  I went to bed and tried to get some sleep.  

By 1:00 AM, the contractions had returned with a vengeance. B and I made our way back to the hospital (and in case anyone is wondering, the road in and out of our village is the BUMPIEST most HORRIBLE road in the entire world).  I was only 4 cm dilated (seriously?!) but we decided to wait it out at hospital. 

The rest of the night went something like this (I'm told, as I have no recollection of anything):

I bounced on a ball.
Contractions carried on and I used gas and air to relieve some of the pain.
At 4:00 AM I had Pethidine.
I slept between contractions.
At 7:00 AM I asked for an Epidural.  As the anaesthetist was in surgery, they said they would give me another dose of Pethidine as there could be a long wait before the Epidural. 
At 7:30 I had the epidural.  This was followed by what B claimed was very normal sounding, half finished sentences.
Around 2:30pm I was finally fully dilated and was ready to start pushing.   I was relatively pain free due to the epidural, although there was a small patch which wasn't covered just on the right side of my bump.  I thought I was getting along fine until the midwife said Baby's heartbeat was increasing.

Within about two minutes the room was swarming with people - Doctors, midwives, who knows who else.

The Doctor said they wanted to take me to theatre for an instrumental delivery but it was not guaranteed to be successful and I may need a Caesarian - or I could just opt for the Caesarian.  B and I both agreed we wanted what was safest for Baby, and opted for the emergency Caesarian.

The next ten minutes were a blur, but I remember them more vividly than the previous 35 hours of labour.  I had the Epidural removed and a Spinal Block put in.  I signed a waver agreeing to a blood transfusion if need be.  B was shown a room where he could change into scrubs.  I was put into a hospital gown.  Some of B's colleagues came to lend a hand as they heard it was me who needed the section.

I wanted to cry out of fear, but at the same time I wanted it all to be over.

The theatre was busy, with an anaesthetists doctors and nurses all doing what is totally normal on a day to day basis. To me, it was like stepping into a medical drama. 

A blue sheet was placed in front of me so that I couldn't see beyond my chest.  B was with me, holding my hand.  I was given a catheter.  There was a dry erase board behind his head with different stats - time of start, blood loss, number of instruments used. 

Ice packs.  Ice packs were constantly being used to ensure I couldn't feel below my chest.  People were everywhere.  There was an awful lot of pushing and pulling and whilst I couldn't feel anything, I knew from the rocking back and forth there was something quite dramatic going on behind that blue sheet.  B said baby had to be pushed back up and pulled up and out of the incision that had been made.  

I started to feel tired and breathless, almost like I was going in and out of consciousness.  B kept talking to me, but everything felt dark.  I vomited - B said it was because spinal block effects.

I asked if he thought Baby was a boy or girl.  I was still sure it was a boy.  And then I felt a sudden lifting and lightening.  B, who had been looking beyond the blue curtain looked at me and said "I think I know what our baby is."  I asked if it was a boy or girl but didn't hear the answer - I was too busy listening for a cough or a cry.  Some indication that baby was alright.  I finally heard it.  

B was called over to cut the cord and my midwife came over and said the baby was just perfect, another nurse said Baby was just fine, and I shouldn't worry because she was beautiful.

"It's a she?"

I couldn't feel anything due to the trauma of that labour and delivery, but I felt my heart.  
Not pain or love, but a feeling of total and utter completeness.  


B lowered her down so I could kiss her head and he cradled our little one whilst I was stitched back up and brought into the recovery room.  After an agonising wait, I was finally given my sweet baby girl for the first time.

Emma Rose was born 17 July 2014 at 3:51 PM.  

I said this was going to be a whole new adventure. I never knew just how much of an adventure it could be.  I cannot wait to show you.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

The lessons I've learnt whilst being Pregnant

40 weeks.  Geeze.  It sounds like no time at all, but it has felt like 2 years!  I've spent the past few weeks of maternity leave thinking about those 40 weeks - the highs and lows - the adorable and gross - all of it.  

Pregnancy is a life changing time - not just because you are preparing for a little bundle of joy, but because you are changing.  It's taken me nearly 30 years to work out who I am, and over the course of a few weeks, I am a completely different person.  

I've learnt a few lessons though out my time of being pregnant, and before Baby McBerry makes his or her arrival, I thought I would share them here.

1. Think you understand pregnancy?  Think again.

Pregnancy kicks your ass - I mean REALLY kicks your ass - and all current mothers know this. They just don't tell you all of those little gems that are too unspeakable/embarrassing/horrific until it's too late. The world just wouldn't repopulate if women shared all of the dirty little secrets of least I think that's the maternal game.

I have experienced loads of fun "symptoms" and when I mention them to my friends who have had children (in horror I say these things), they all smile - knowingly - and recall their similar encounters.  I feel like pregnancy has been this great big secret which you aren't allowed to fully know until you have been there.  I'm sorry - but I'm incredibly empathetic.  I can totally appreciate all of these things without having to go through it myself.    I'm thinking "THANKS FOR THE HEADS UP!" but at the same time "get it" a whole lot more having experienced it for myself.

2. As good of intentions as you have - some things just don't go according to plan....others do.  

I was going to be really fit and healthy during pregnancy - eating right and exercising. I was dead set on antenatal yoga and going for walks. I was going to ensure my diet was balanced, I wasn't going to drink coffee or alcohol and I was going to ensure I was eating all of those "Folic Friendly" foods to ensure Baby McBerry had the best whilst growing up. 

Did this "healthy living" happen?  
Of course not. 

Hyperemesis destroyed any chance of me doing much of anything.  I ate crap - why?  Because unhealthy, salty snack foods were all I could eat. The very thought of salad had me running for the toilet for months.  Tortilla chips, on the other hand, they went down a treat.

Yoga?  Yea right- we live in the middle of freaking nowhere.  The only chance I was going to have to get to yoga was if I quit my job (because everything is offered at 10:30 on a Tuesday - full time working women clearly don't need antenatal support) or if I got a bank loan to pay for the travel costs of getting to a class - the nearest an hour away.  Youtube classes worked for awhile....but that is nowhere near as a good or helpful as the real thing. 

I also vowed to not put anything into my system which I didn't want to pass along to Baby.  Medication for instance.  
I was on a lot of drugs to control the nausea and vomiting - and I was on them for about three months.    The drugs were needed to stop my vomiting.  End of.  If I didn't take the medication, I would have ended up in hospital a lot more often.  

Can you imagine the damage of not being able to keep anything down? The effects of dehydration and a lack of nutrients were far more scary to think about than a drug which doesn't cross the placenta.  At the end of the day, medicine has come a long way - if B tells me it's ok, I'm sure it's ok. 

3. Bonding doesn't come naturally

I've got two weeks to go and I'm still up and 2:00 AM and wondering how on earth I'm going to be a mother.  I'm not a mother.  I'm Jen.  They've got the wrong person because "mama" is just not me. 

 I was worried I was going to be a terrible mother as I didn't feel connected to the baby.  I did a lot of reading and you know what I found out?

Plenty of women don't have that connection.  In fact, many who suffered with sickness as I had actually admitting to disliking the baby (GASP).  This isn't a sign that they will be a bad mother, nor is it any cause to call Child Protective Services.

Bonding takes time.  For me, a lot of my bonding came from writing this blog - especially my letters.  I dedicated all of my thoughts - not half of them with the other half thinking about dinner or work - to Baby.  I became more aware of movement and found myself starting feel that warmth of motherhood - but mostly looking forward to it.  Silly things like taking a bath or doing Baby McBerry's laundry or decorating the nursery made me feel like this is all really happening and it's all going to be just fine.  I still don't feel ready - but ask me again in a few weeks - I'm sure I'll have a different idea about Baby McB. 

4.  Those protruding limbs are the coolest thing you will ever experience - FACT

At first, this scared the bejesus out of me.  It was sometimes painful when Baby stretched and it's foot was attempting to puncture my bladder.  But lo and behold - I have grown to love it (probably the only thing about pregnancy I have loved).  So many women have told me that they felt a real sense of loss when baby was in their arms as opposed to in their womb.  I can totally appreciate that.  That sense of loneliness after spending 40 weeks or so as "two."

5.  No one has any idea what they are doing.  Really.

I felt so stupid as I didn't  don't know anything about babies. I've not been around babies - I don't typically get to have cuddles or need to change nappies.  I don't dress or bathe them - and I hardly ever have to buy for them.  All of my friends in America had babies when I moved to England - the friends I have in England either have older children or haven't gotten to that stage just yet.  Everyone makes everything look so easy - but even they admit it - No one knows what the heck they are doing.

I don't care how many times you have changed a nappy.  You don't know how to change YOUR baby's nappy until it comes out and you try it a couple of times.  Dressing them?  Bathing them?  It's all the same.  You can't possibly know until you try.  ALL babies are different.  ALL babies like their own thing.  People look like they know what they are doing, but they are just at petrified and panicked as I am.  And they have practiced. A lot. 

6.  You will feel horrible about yourself.  And that's OK.

Controversial or not.  Women say they feel fat when they are pregnant.  I know it's not "fat" - but "fat" is how you feel.  You are swollen. You are heavy.  You are struggling to walk.  It takes so much effort to roll over in bed. You can't fit into anything - clothes, shoes, SOCKS.  You just feel fat and horrible. Your hair is doing something you can't even describe whilst your skin is spotty.  You are getting loads of stretch marks all over and skin tags keep popping up and there is just no stopping them!

It's exhausting.

Pregnancy glow? That's a load of rubbish. I care about my appearance and I have found it difficult to get bigger.  I have cried over how I look in the mirror.  I have cringed whilst watching a CCTV clip where I saw myself waddle across the school courtyard.  I don't look like me - I'm someone else - and I don't like it.

With that said, I have beamed with pride when I have found a maternity outfit which actually makes me look good.  I've learnt to tame my hair. I've found makeup which makes my skin look more alive. I've worked it out. I can't do anything about my belly or chest or feet but I will be able to soon.  Everyone says we should feel beautiful, but the reality is we won't feel like that until we figure "beauty" out for ourselves.  Yes, we are gorgeous and strong and we should be proud - but we also need to realise that for ourselves.

7.  It's a members only club. But you are welcomed with open arms. 

There's something about babies that just makes people more talkative or interested. I've felt so accepted into the "mum community" from the second my belly began to show. People will talk to you in the grocery store over the type of formula that worked for them. They will give you tips on how to save money or how to make life a bit easier. They will ask about how you're feeling and genuinely be interested. They will offer advice or pearls of wisdom -- all in an attempt to put you at ease rather than lecture you. They wish you luck when you tell them your due date was yesterday.  People DO look out for you - make sure you don't trip or ask if you need things carried or offer you a seat. People get it. It's actually a great feeling. 

My mom and Me - nearly 30 years ago.

I think Baby McBerry will be gracing us with it's presence any day now, and then we will be headed down a whole new path:  parenthood.  I cannot wait to see what is in store for us. Whether it be good or bad, it will be an adventure and B and I are totally ready for it.

Thank you to everyone for your support and your kind words throughout the past nine months.   You have made it all so much easier and I've felt part of a huge, virtual family - always getting advice and encouragement when I needed it.  Stay tuned for our Reflections about Baby!

We shall see you all when we are officially a Party of THREE!

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Forty weeks and STILL PREGNANT

How far along:  FORTY Weeks!  Woo hoo!
Weight Gain:   36 pounds.  That's enough really. 
Maternity Clothes: I'm beyond sick of them.  I miss my normal shirts and shoes. I'll keep the maternity jeans though. They are just plain comfy. 
Stretch Marks:  Sides, boobs and nice new ones appearing around my belly button....I'm loving them, can you tell?
Belly Button: Turning a lovely shade of purple....and constantly sticking out like a little tongue....the mockery!!
Queasy or Sick:   Nausea - especially in the night. Heartburn is particularly awful (hello, new BFF Gaviscon). Vomit just hanging out.  General grouchiness and catty behaviour?  Pregnancy rage is back and it's back with a vengeance. 
Sleep:  What a joke. It's a serious design fault that you lose the ability to sleep when you deserve it the most. I'm getting very little (if any) and definitely not enough. 
Best Moment of the Week:  B finally has his American Visa. Thank goodness for that process being over!  Now we just need to sort Baby out as an American/Brit.  How cool is that?
Worst Moment of the Week:  Being stuck inside for most of the week due to the foul weather - cold and rainy in mid July. I especially love how my car window was left open - I cannot believe how absorbent those seats are.  I'm sure moving to England was a good idea....remind me again why I did it?
Miss Anything:  I miss everything about not being pregnant. 
Movement:  Of course. Baby is just reminding me that it's squatting and has no intention of vacating my uterus any time soon.  
Cravings:   Feeling like a human being again. 
Looking forward to:  NOT being pregnant!

 I was totally convinced baby would make an early appearance. In fact, it never crossed my mind that I could go OVER my due date. 

And here we are. 

We've prepared and then prepared again - just because we had time. Some of the things we have done in preparation for Baby McB has been batch cooking and scouting for baby clothes.

We have always been into batch cooking, as this was a great way to eat whilst living apart and a great way to save money.  We've made Shepherds Pie (with Quorn mince instead of beef), Breakfast Egg and Veggie wraps and Breakfast Egg and (veggie) Sausage sandwiches.  I'm also planning a Lasagna, Thai Green Curry and Bolognese sauce.

The freezer is packed, which isn't hard to do here in England where you don't get much space in your basic fridge-freezer. I'm looking forward to some easy meals once our hands are full - hopefully we have the time and will about us to ensure the freezer meals keep replenishing!

And even more exciting than the food - the sales are on!  Baby clothes are on sale, summer clothes are dwindling down (never mind we never got to wear them here in rainy England) and - oh, the excitement - Autumn clothes are out!! 

The downside - all of these great clothes are gendered!  Oh, how I wish we knew if baby is a boy or a girl!  I have my guess, but I'm not sure it's worth stocking up on some of these gorgeous finds only to have to return half of them!  These are my favourites at the moment: 

Boat ShoesVarsity CardiganGiletStriped Body SuitsNavy and White CardiganCheck overallsMint Polo OnesieStriped Onesie
(Some of the links aren't working properly in spite of my many efforts to load and upload the links! Apologies!)

I cannot wait to do some proper shopping!

So the waiting game continues! I'm pretty uncomfortable, not sleeping, feeling stretched, strained and just plain exhausted.

Come on, Baby McBerry.  We're all so excited to meet you!

In the meantime, Friends is on Comedy Central and they are having a Pregnancy marathon!  Slightly ironic....but geese, I totally get it!!

Let's hope this is my LAST Pregnancy post!

Sunday, 6 July 2014

39 Weeks and Maternity Leave Fun

How far along:  Thirty-nine Weeks!
Weight Gain:  pounds!
Maternity Clothes:   I miss my normal clothes.
Stretch Marks:  I knew my luck would run out eventually.  My sides have little purple lines creeping up them.  I'm gutted.  Despite all of my efforts with the Weleda oil, the stretch marks have finally won.  Everyone always says they appear right at the end - you think you've gotten away with it but you are very wrong.
Belly Button: belly looks like one big, giant breast.
Queasy or Sick:   Feeling pretty good!  I worked a bit too hard Friday, causing me to be really sore and achey for the rest of the evening and all day Saturday.  
Sleep:  There is a serious design flaw here....
Best Moment of the Week:   Around midweek I started to get into the swing of Maternity Leave.  B was off work so we had a lunch date at the Castle Rising Tea Rooms followed by some jaunts in and around school.
Worst Moment of the Week:  Monday - Day one of Maternity Leave as I didn't know what to do with myself! Plus FRIDAY - the 4th of July!  I hate being away for one of my favourite holidays.  I miss the fireworks and BBQs and Bocce tournaments!
Miss Anything:  I've been dying for blue cheese gnocchi bake.  B used to make this for me back during our dating days and I have a real hankering for this dish.  Can you picture it with a nice glass of white wine?? Mmmmm....
Cravings:   Twizzlers.  It seems every time I phone my parents or my brother, someone is eating Twizzler pull and peels.  I LOVE them.  I miss them.  I can't get them.  Therefore - I want them.
Looking forward to: Baby time.  Come on, baby....Mama is getting uncomfortable and you are quite heavy.

I'm one of those very fortunate people who gets a great deal of time off for my maternity leave.  I stopped work two weeks before my due date and it's been - interesting.   As I feel pretty good - energised and generally in good spirits - I felt so incredibly guilty for not being at work.  I try to not miss work - predominantly because I feel like it's more effort to NOT be there.  

But  this is guilt free - you genuinely aren't meant to be working - time off.  

While at lunch, I actually felt like I was skiving!

I spent most of the time twiddling my thumbs, waiting for baby to arrive or something drastic to happen in order to break how mundane the days have been.  That's teacher guilt for you.

So far, my maternity leave has looked a little like this:

Sweep the kitchen floor
Scrub kitchen surfaces/sink
Empty the Dishwasher
Midwife appointment - all looking good with Baby!
A jolly into town to buy Raspberry Leaf capsules and agave
Write all birthday cards for July and August
Coffee at home with Georgie and Samuel  (limited work chat - more mum talk)
Sweep the kitchen floor
Trip to Boots for makeup wipes and hair ties.....and some nappies and wipes (sale!)
Stroll around Mothercare....just in case waters wanted a good place to break
Watch ChoccywoccyDooDah - I am addicted!
Blogging in the sunshine
Research baby clothes (I love this and this)
Check work emails....just to see what's going on
Sweep kitchen floor
Chase a butterfly around the lounge, urging it towards one of the many open windows
Glare out the window at workers drilling the sidewalk
Bake and decorate a cake (see below)
Buy a fan
Sweep the kitchen floor

Now - for that cake....
Our friend's Heidi and Toby had a joint 40th (or rather 80s/th) Birthday Party on Saturday.  Heidi asked me to make the cake and being bored on Maternity Leave, I was up for some excitement.  

I had a few ideas, but in the end I abandoned everything and just did what I thought was best.  I've never made a cake for 60 people, so I was a bit horrified by the amount of sugar, chocolate and butter I went through.

Heidi and B got involved in the icing and decorating process!

All in all, I'm happy with the finished product.  I had a horrible time with this cake as 
1) I hate square cakes
2) It was TOO HOT to do much of anything with icing or fondant.  My hands were boiling, the house was boiling, things were just wasn't a good experience.

But it went down a TREAT, so that to me is mission accomplished!!