Oh no, the sleep regression has started!

So I feel as though I’ve been a bit spoiled lately, compared to some other mums. Our little man was starting to sleep through the night on and off from about 8 weeks old, which was way back at the end of November.

It wasn’t every night at first, but when it started becoming more regular, there was a simultaneous relief between myself and Craig that things did in fact get easier, even with a colicky baby. As the hours of continuous evening sleep slowly seeped back into our systems, we began feeling more human again. I especially enjoyed regaining my ability to finish sentences and not break concentration/yawn in the middle of important conversations.

I don’t want to sound smug, as I know we were very lucky that the wee man started developing that routine so young. I know mums that have 8 and 9 month olds, even 2 year olds, that still don’t sleep through the night and need to wake up for a feed. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all plain sailing either; the first few nights saw us both remain sleepless as we expected baby M to wake. And 99% of nights see us getting up to find a dummy 2-3 times, but believe me there’s a world of difference between semi-consciously shoving a dummy into a stirring baby’s mouth and going straight back to sleep, than being woken up twice a night for almost an hour at a time as baby cries, feeds, winds and changes.

So it’s fair to say we’ve enjoyed some sort of variation on normality for the last couple of months. Sure it’s less sleep than we got pre-child, but it’s something we’re managing well. Or at least we were until this last week. Aside from the initial shock of broken sleep in the first few weeks as a new parent, nothing else deals quite such a devastating blow than having to wake up for random and unexpected night feeds when you’re used to almost getting your 7 hours a night again.

It honestly felt like we were going back to square one again, and I felt far from thrilled about it. First it was 2am, then 4am the next night, with no warning or level of hunger or alertness to gauge. It was like being a new mum again, only dad was back at work and couldn’t catch up on his sleep the next day. Neither could mum to be honest, but that was more down to the wee one’s social calendar being fuller than a TOWIE cast members.

I’d heard about sleep regression from friends, and had read about it in the baby books and apps and countless online articles that exist to simultaneously put our minds at ease and fuel our anxiety as new parents. Basically, it’s thought that from around 4 months old, babies can develop what’s known as sleep regression, i.e. they start waking up again through the night where they may otherwise have slept through. There’s no known reason for it to happen, and is referred to as something akin to growth spurts or teething pains – unpredictable and something we just have to ride out. However with growth spurts and teething there are usually little tried and tested methods to fix it, such as upping the volume of milk/food for baby or offering a form of pain relief. But there’s no such magical cure for sleep regression.

So I guess I’ll continue to function on little sleep for now, whilst rambling along and not making any sense by the time I reach the end of my blog post…

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A Thortful Valentine’s Day

When it comes to Valentine’s day, or any occasion in fact, I love giving a good card. Whether it be punny, sentimental or an in-joke, I like to give a card with meaning to it.

This is why I love online card sites which offer the chance to personalise cards, and can usually offer something better than the average high street store. When I was looking for a Valentine’s card this year for my other half, I came across the site Thortful. Friends had used it before and raved about it, so I decided to give their selection a try.

Self-proclaimed home of up and coming creatives, Thortful is different from your average card website as it contains collections from independent artists, businesses and general creatives. I’m all for supporting individual talent and creativity, and like to know that I’m getting something a bit more individual, with more heart in it than mass produced, samey rubbish from supermarkets and the like.

There are loads of collections on Thortful for pretty much any occasion, and I immediately came across a range I knew my other half would love. I would show you it, but it’s not Valentine’s day yet and I don’t want to ruin the surprise! Here’s a picture of the sturdy (and not so love-like) grey envelope though. The card I chose was by JG Artwork, run by mother and entrepreneur Jodie Gaul.

Another great positive about this site is that the card I ordered arrived literally the next day via Royal Mail, when had only purchased the card in the middle of the afternoon. Automatic next day delivery is ideal for me as I can’t always usually guarantee that I’ll be able to get out to get a card, or even remember a birthday until the last minute thanks to baby brain!

If you’re now intrigued by Thortful, why not have a look for yourself? If you buy anything via this link, you’ll also get 30% off. It’s worth mentioning that this isn’t a sponsored post, and I don’t receive my commission for this. It’s merely an incentive offered to all customers after purchase. Friends can get 30% off via a certain link, whilst the customer gets a discount on their next order. It’s handy, because I for one will definitely be going back to them for another card in the near future!

January Roundup: So Many Firsts!

So starting the year we didn’t really have any resolutions in our household, but we did anticipate an exciting year of firsts ahead. With baby M only a couple of months old at the turn of the year, we knew we had loads of new and exciting things to expect in 2018.

It’s only the beginning of February, and already he has accomplished (not sure that’s the right word. Learned probably?) so much in the past month. From first tastes to first rolls, here’s how our January went:

First food
I know all the guidelines say not to wean your child until at least 4 months, with the official government line being 6 months and not a minute before. However I’m pretty sure the government officials deciding that didn’t have a 17lb, 3 month old baby who was gubbing 40oz of milk a day with his belly physically rumbling at every feed. And that was him on hungry baby milk! So around 15 weeks we started introducing first tastes – fruit purees and spoonfuls of baby rice here and there. It’s been a fun and mixed journey (more poo chat for another day!) but it’s safe to say he’s been far more content and satisfied since he’s started the slow and steady journey to solids.

First massage
Baby massage was always something I was keen to sign baby M up for, as I’d heard that it’s meant to work wonders for colicky babies. Unfortunately, I was unable to book onto the free massage block at the local library (if you’re not fast you’re very much last in these situations!) but I didn’t let that deter me. So I went in search of some other classes around the area, and came across Teddy’s Baby Massage, which was advertised in my local Costa. After speaking to Michelle who runs the classes, we were able to secure the last spot in the Helensburgh block for January. Our first class was on 10th January and we haven’t looked back since. I’ll be sad when these classes come to an end next week, but with a handy massage guide and plenty of oil, the wee man will feel the benefit long after thanks to plenty of home massages.

First hartbeeps
I’ve already written about Hartbeeps, the baby play and development classes, and it’s something that the wee fella absolutely loves. With songs, nursery rhymes, toys and dress up, it keeps him totally entertained and stimulated for the full hour so he’s ready for a much needed rest afterwards! I’m looking forward to Baby M progressing through other Hartbeeps classes, Baby Beeps and Happy House, as he grows.

First yoga
We ran into the same issue with the local, free, Baby yoga classes as we did with massage – block of classes were fully booked on the day they went online for registration. In this instance, I decided to add our names to the waiting list, to see if anything would come of it. I wasn’t as fussed about yoga as I was for massage, though I’d heard there were some great benefits for development of bones and motor skills, as well as moves that would help ease the dreaded wind pains. Luckily, we got a notification near the end of the month to say that there was now a space for us. We missed the first half of the block but still had our first class in January with one more left to go. Since we started, I noticed a great difference in the wee man’s movements and am pretty convinced that baby yoga helped us achieve the next first!

First roll
Ok so it happened just last week on the 31st, but that’s still January! We were at our weekly baby massage class when the wee surprise occurred. It was time for the back massage section of the class, which usually pains Baby M as he hates tummy time if it lasts any longer than 20 seconds. However, much to my delight, he seemed quite happy on his tummy. No screams, no rigid body. And then it happened. He just rolled right back over onto his back. Convinced it was a fluke, I tried not to make a big deal out of it, and carefully placed the little wriggler back on his tummy. As I attempted to continue the back massage he did it again! So far he’s refused to do it when any of his family are watching, and if he’s on his back he can only get as far as rolling onto his side before he gets stuck, but we’re getting there!

First bookbug
Bookbug is yet another local, free service in the area for which spaces are like gold dust. As you can imagine, this early bird was not early enough and so didn’t quite catch the worm. Though yet again, a few weeks into the current block, we were notified to say that we were top of the waiting list and a space had opened up. Bookbug is exactly as the name suggests, a class that encourages your little ones to become book bugs. As far as I know it seems to be a government initiative, with sessions held at libraries up and down the country. For 45 minutes nursery rhymes are sung, babies and toddlers play games and of course sit down for some story time. It turns out the wee man’s big cousin, who’s just turned one, is also at the same bookbug class, so there’s a familiar face for mum and baby!

I can’t believe we’ve accomplished so many firsts in January, it means I’ll need to reevaluate the “firsts list” for the rest of the year already!

Hartbeeps Mother and Baby Classes

So rather than new year, new me, I started 2018 focusing on all the new great things baby M could, should and would hopefully do in his first year of life (see 2018: A Year of Firsts). One of the main things I wanted baby M to experience was play and interaction with other babies, which is where Hartbeeps comes in.

I’d been looking at various classes, including the council baby massage and yoga classes which ultimately book out in about 5 seconds flat (where are these parents that are so bloody organised?!) So decided to see what else was on offer in our area. Hartbeeps immediately caught my attention as it focuses on baby play and letting them learn and explore at their own pace. Whilst other classes also offer this, it felt a bit different from the yoga and massage which focus on tested techniques with specific results – for example, some massage elements help digestion, breathing and so on, whilst some yoga moves help with the development of things like rolling, coordination and so on. So Hartbeeps essentially seemed like a break from all of that and a chance for baby M to have an hour to play with mum and a bunch of fun songs and toys to boot.

First impressions
Our first class was on 12th January and I didn’t really know what to expect. I knew there would be songs and bright colours but that was about it. Laura, the instructor, (or teacher? I’m not sure what the right term is!) was so friendly and welcoming right from the off. She explained the class was about mum and baby and not to worry about things like running late or sleeping babies. She also made it clear that this was a place for both mum and baby to forget about whatever else was going on that day or in general – no worries about laundry or groceries or visitors or anything. This class is designed as an escape for mum just as much as for baby.

What happens at class
Doesn’t necessarily stay at class. Parents are encouraged to continue play outside and sing the songs at home. Though part of the reason I signed up for Baby Bells is that it’s so easy not to play that way at home. Things like phonecalls and listen and cooking and all sorts distract us from getting completely lost in play. Also, I feel like I should always be doing something else. Play is most definitely vital for babies needs, growth and development but I was brought up to believe that play was what you did after all the other work/chores/school etc were finished. So I’m usually doing a load of washing or tidying up around baby M while we’ve got toys and playmats and all sorts out. I feel bad if I do and bad if I don’t!

Everything at Baby Bells was laid out and colourful, with mats arranged in a circle round the room. There are soft fleecy mats for baby to lie on and lovely circular ones for mum’s to plonk our bums on. In the centre of the room is the sparkly sunshine, containing a trove of baby fun underneath. With actual baby bells* and bubble machines and lights and feathers and much more, it’s hard to see how babies couldn’t get all their senses going at these classes.

*sleigh bells on a rattle

Baby benefits
Each class has it’s own theme, whether that be pirates and treasure or dinosaurs or anything in between. Songs and play then follow that theme. Basically each class is good for their imagination as no two weeks are the same. Some songs do get repeated (this is good for memory) but generally the set up remains the same with the journey different each time.

  • Songs are sung with actions which can include baby yoga or massage techniques, brilliant for development. There are familiar nursery rhymes like round and round the garden.
  • Dress up is one of my favourite parts not least because it provides a great photo opportunity. From sweatpants to frogs eyes and dinosaur tails, dress up accessories do wonders for the imagination and senses with new and different textures to touch
  • Tummy time each week over the big tummy ring, your lap or with a towel; however baby is comfiest. There are light-up toys, mirrors, shiny paper and different textures to discover
  • Quiet time at the end of class which involves putting out all the lights and having a lovely projected display, personal lights, bubbles and lullabies. This is perfect for calming baby after an exciting class and getting them ready for a nice long nap afterwards (thank you Hartbeeps!)

All in all, both Baby M and I absolutely loved Hartbeeps and now can’t wait for a Friday morning to go and play. All of the above benefits plus meeting other mums and babies makes for a happy wee boy and a happy mum going into the weekend. If there are Hartbeeps classes in your area I would strongly recommend giving them a go, particularly if you have someone like Laura taking the class.

 

Returning to Exercise After Having a Baby

One thing I was really craving during pregnancy wasn’t food related, oddly. Towards the 8 month Mark, when I’d given up my exercise classes, I would have given anything to be able to do a sit up or a burpee. And I bloody hate burpees.

I was craving this and general exercise to the point where I would get quite down if I couldn’t so much as get out for a walk in a day. So my 6 week post-partum check up couldn’t come quick enough for me after baby M arrived.

Quite literally the next day I’d booked myself into an exercise class for that night. Having not been in 4 months, I was apprehensive as to how much my body had changed and was no longer capable of doing, so I decided to ease myself back in with Clubbercise.

Clubbercise is one of my favourite ways to exercise because It’s so much fun that it doesn’t feel like a chore of a workout. You get all the cardio alongside some basic toning, while raving to some top club tunes with glowsticks, whistles and UV lights.

First time back
My first class back was in mid November, and as suspected it was a bit more breathless than I’d been used to but overall it was a lot like I’d imagined it would be. Some of the routines were still lodged in my brain from months ago so that was helpful and reassuring.

One thing I was shocked to realise though is how much your pelvic floor exercises matter. If I hadn’t been squeezing those exercises in (No pun intended) where I could, there easily would have been a mess on the floor to contend with. This is especially true for Clubbercise as there’s a lot of jumping around and raving, and let’s just say I felt the pressure a couple of times on my first day back!

Diving in deep
After I’d done a couple of Clubbercise classes, my instructor announced she was running a new fitness class; Deep Hau2. Full of – you guessed it – deep house music, this workout focuses more on your core and toning, using interval training but at a much lower intensity than something like metafit. I was eager to get back to toning, not liking or wanting to get used to the sagging tummy I’d been left with post-pregnancy.

The only trouble is, this class takes place straight after Clubbercise. Not wanting to back out of my favourite night of the week, I’d signed up to both classes when Deep Hau2 started in mid-December. Oh dear Lord it hurt. Double and even triple classes back to back were a fun challenge pre-pregnancy, and something I felt confident doing even up to around 6 months pregnant. However after only 3 real attempts at working out, the combination of Deep Hau2 exercises (think planks, press ups and other stomach-killing moves) and extended period of workout left me defeated. I tried my best but realistically probably only did about 1.5 press ups and felt like I’d been assaulted the next day.

I love to push myself and know that it’s better to try and struggle than not to bother, but boy was that a reality check on my fitness levels. There’s no doubt about it my body has done some incredible things in the last 12 months but it will take a lot of work to get to the same level of fitness I had this time last year.

New year, new expectations

So going into 2018, I decided to take things a little more gradually. On Wednesday I returned to Clubbercise which was just the cardio boost needed to beat those winter blues. Today I had planned to return to Pound; another one of my favourites which uses weighted “Ripstix” (giant green drumsticks) to help you tone as you rock out to some fab tunes. However it seems the winter flu bug has struck and the class was cancelled. So instead I carted myself off to Piyo at 8.45am on a Saturday. Ordinarily an achievement in itself, exercising at that time on a Saturday doesn’t feel so early when you’ve been up since 6am.

Piyo is a combination of Pilates and Yoga (geddit?) which helps improve core strength, flexibilty and balance. As a bit of a Pilates virgin, I was keen to see what the fuss was about, not to mention try to get back some flexibility post-baby. It was interesting to see how much of my body could still actually bend and stretch, though a bit depressing to find out all the bits I couldn’t do. The most difficult bits were definitely the burpees and anything involving pulling myself up from downward dog/low lunging positions. But I’ll get there, as long as I keep going back and pushing myself that bit further each time.

Next up is Strong by Zumba, on Monday. Related to Zumba only in name so I’m told, this class is more high intensity training in time to the music. I’m not confident I’ll be able to do a whole lot, but I am confident I’ll give everything a try at the least. If there are no more posts after today, you’ll know it has defeated me!

2018: A Year of Firsts

Happy New Year! How did it get to 2018 already? In fairness, the last month has flown by in an unexpected rush, with Christmas and lack of laptop (and other things which I’ll get to later) taking most of the blame for lack of posting in December.

But, it’s a new year so to new beginnings and all that. Whilst I’m not exactly proclaiming any specific resolutions as such, I am preaching positivity and fairly excited for the year ahead. There’s a lot to look forward to, including many firsts to come.

2017 had its fair share of ups and downs, but also many firsts along the way, like having my first baby and all the wonderful firsts that come with the first few months of parenthood. Sure, first dirty nappy and first hospital trip weren’t exactly highlights, but they were necessary and all part of that new parent experience. However there’s still plenty to look forward to in 2018, both with baby M and without.

Here are the firsts that top the list:

First swim, massage and yoga
There are a wealth of great baby classes out there which both help baby’s development and allow mum’s to meet other parents. The most popular in my area are baby yoga, baby massage and baby swimming lessons. Due to baby M’s birthday falling at the beginning of October, he was unable to start any of these classes in 2017, as by the time he was old enough, everything was beginning to wind down for the festive season. I’m excited for him to experience these classes, in particular massage, as this is meant to be extremely useful for colicky babies. I’m also open to any other fun and useful classes that would help with baby’s development, stimulation and just generally to make him some baby friends!

First sleep in his cot
Due to some pretty unforseen circumstances, we haven’t been able to try baby M in his big boy cot bed yet, not even just for a trial. However, he’s growing at such a rapid rate, I can’t see him fitting in his moses basket much longer. By the end of January he should hopefully be sleeping in his cot bed, and finally getting to enjoy the mobile attached to it too!

First tooth
Already baby M is teething, with dribble and soaking mittens a constant factor of daily life. If those were the only symptoms of teething, I wouldn’t care if he didn’t cut his first tooth till 2019! Unfortunately his teething also comes with pain, meaning a routine of discomfort, bonjela and unexpected cries of pain in the middle of the night, which are, quite frankly, heart breaking. He’s too small for teething rings as they don’t quite fit in his mouth yet, so seeing his first tooth appear and knowing that’s the beginning of the end of his mouth pain will be a great moment.

First day back at work
Ok, so this first won’t officially happen till June, but I’m both excited and terrified of the prospect of it (much the same way I felt about labour and the anticipation of motherhood if I’m honest!) On the one hand I can’t wait to get stuck back in, catching up with colleagues, clients and cracking on with the workload. Yet on the other I’m worried I’ll have more separation anxiety that the wee one will! Hopefully I’ll be able to squeeze in some KITT days, meaning I can ease back into the workplace in a less dramatic or stressful faahion.

First family trip
I’m not visualising Disneyland or anything yet. In fact, we haven’t even got anything planned. But I’d like to take a trip with the other half and baby M this year, even if it’s just for one or two days away at the other end of Scotland. Every time we leave the house it feels like we’re packing for a holiday anyway, so we might as well take a wee break before I make that proper return to work.

First family home
This one is more of an ideal world scenario rather than anything. At the moment we have a 2 bedroom flat, which is absolutely fine, but not what either myself or other half visualise when we picture “family home”. The flat itself was great for the first 2 years but you never know how un-family friendly your home is until you have kids! Clunky old external stairs make for less than fun pram time, complicated bathroom layouts make for difficult bath time for baby M and just generally we’ve found that there isn’t anywhere near enough storage space for all the stuff that comes with babies. So, if all goes to plan and we can both save and see somewhere we fall in love with (front and back doors with a kid-friendly yard are goals), then hopefully we will have our first proper family home.

Other exciting firsts I’m looking forward to are baby’s first steps, first words and first experience with food! Although I’m not looking forward to the first new nappies after the latter! Plus each child grows at their own pace so if my boy wants to be lazy, or doesn’t find anything worth talking about in 2018, I won’t sweat it.

Hope you all have a great year of firsts or new experiences too, however big or small!

7 Things I’ve Learned in my First Month as a Parent

1. You can sing pretty much anything to a baby
And you will. Starting off quite sensibly with nursery rhymes, I quickly realised I’d forgotten many of those a long time ago. This resorted in singing some of my favourite songs, then singing a basic running commentary of life. It’s amazing just how much singing about wiping drool or putting on shoes can calm a baby.

2. Poo is a hot topic
I can honestly say I’ve never talked about poo so much in my life – and I suffer from IBS! Pre-arrival of baby M, we were warned by a friend that all myself and the other half would find to talk to each other about would be baby M, and his bowel movements in particular. We didnt believe her. Not only is it something which we both discuss, it seems like an open topic of discussion amongst grandparents, relatives and fellow parents. From first poo (an experience in itself) to different consistencies and even times or places to poo, I have found myself talking about the poo of someone else far more than I ever thought I would.

3. It’s easier to tell your partner off through your children
Not very practical, helpful or mature, but it’s quite therapeutic to the sleep deprived new mother. Things like “don’t cry because daddy hasn’t done the dishes” or “we can’t do X because daddy has left Y dirty/a mess” are favourites. Bonus points for also turning into a song a-la point 1.

4. You may call your child names
In a state of exhaustion, parenting confusion or frustration, you may find yourself calling your child names. Or maybe that’s just me. A particularly hard-going evening saw me call baby M an arsehole when he wouldn’t stop crying after a 5am feed,  and decided to skite his dirty nappy across my bed.

5. Sleep is currency
Another thing we were warned about was the daily sleep debate that would ensue as we tried to get used to a sleep deprived life. After a couple of weeks of bickering over who’s had most sleep, the other half and I have learned to use sleep as currency. This goes something along the lines of me exchanging a lie-in in the morning to get up with baby at 6am, letting daddy sleep on while we get up and start our day. In return, he will exchange an early night for a later feed while I take my weary ass to bed, or vice versa. It’s all about working together and realising that actually it’s just not practical to always wake, sleep or even watch TV together any more.

6. It’s not always possible to sleep while they are sleeping
The advice given from countless health professionals, books and well-meaning relatives is unfortunately not always practical. Yes, by all means sleep when your child sleeps if you can. But in the first few days, possibly weeks, you will find your home turn into a local Starbucks as friends, family, colleagues and friends of grandparents all pop by for a cuppa and a cuddle. While it’s lovely that everyone wants to meet your bundle of joy (who doesn’t love a cuddle from a newborn?) It can also be frustrating when they come at the only time your baby is willing to sleep soundly for more than half an hour. It’s not the fault of visitors or anyone really, as newborns are so unpredictable, but it doesn’t stop you wishing you could trade places with the little angel in the Moses basket as they snore while you prop your eyelids open with matchstick trying to entertain visitors that don’t want to waken said angel.

7. Babies make the weirdest noises
Like, really weird noises that I hope my baby eventually grows out of. I’m not just talking sighs or whimpers in his sleep either – those may be annoying, but they’re not that weird. It’s the smacking sounds with the mouth, clicking, nasal noises and more that will inevitably wake you up and see you hovering over their crib using the light of your phone to make sure all their body parts are still in the same place, and that they are still, in fact, breathing. Meanwhile, they couldn’t care less, probably dreaming about swimming in a bath of milk.

Of course every day as a new parent is a learning curve, and there’s far more to wrap your head around, adapt to and learn from – no matter how many books you read or fellow parents you speak to. So no doubt there will be another similar post when baby M has reached 2 months and uncovered at least 7 more unexpected changes to our lives.

The Arrival of Baby M

Despite his due date of 27th September, Baby M decided to make a dramatically late entrance to the world on 6th October 2017. A whole 9 days late, I was beginning to think he would never come out. Or worse still – the whole pregnancy was a rouse and I actually justgot really fat! But alas, after much waiting, mostly impatiently, he decided to arrive on his terms over a week late.  This is the story of his arrival, blood, guts and all. So be warned, if you’re squeamish, you should probably scroll to the next post!

Sweep sweep

As Baby M continued to be rather stubborn in his willingness (or lack of) to greet us, the midwives offered me a sweep. This is a slightly invasive examination involving a prodding experience, in order to try and bring on the motions of labour. It’s a fairly routine practice, and I was told I would be allowed up to 3 of these “sweeps” before I’d reach the 42 weeks and have to be induced.
Sweep 1 couldnt be completed as my cervix was tilted and therefore not in the right position. Then, at 8 days overdue, or 41 weeks plus a day, I was offered another sweep. The midwife this time wasn’t so forthcoming and didn’t even want to do the examination in the first place. She then told me that baby’s head wasn’t in the right position (it must have jumped back out from the previous fortnight where he was engaged) and there was no point in the sweep, as allegedly my body wasn’t ready. However,  unbeknown to her or myself, 24 hours later I would be well on the way to meeting baby M.

Contraction reaction

I woke around 2am with what can only be described as a combination of period pain and food poisoning pains. My stomach was constantly flipping and I wasn’t sure whether I was going to be sick or my bowels were about to have a serious evacuation.
I went to the loo for about the 3rd time that night and tried to get back to sleep. I got a couple of half hour naps but ultimately the pain kept coming in waves and getting stronger, not allowing me to sleep.

Around 3.45am I gave in and decided I probably wasn’t going to get much more sleep. ‘Surely this must be what contractions feel like?’ I told myself. After a quick consultation with doctor Google, my suspicions were confirmed, though there was still a slight possibility this could be Braxton Hicks. Between ante natal classes, conversations with midwives and the countless pregnancy literature provided, I knew this was only the very early stage of labour – if that. The first thing to do, I was told, is to take paracetomol, which I then duly did.

Next on the list of ‘early labour management at home’ is taking a bath. I felt ridiculous running a bath at 4am, so decided to leave that option for a little while. Instead, I started to time my contractions for frequency and length. Disappointingly, the contractions were not lasting long enough, or happening frequently enough, to bother a midwife or get my hospital bag. More disappointingly, the painkillers didn’t seem to be touching the sides. It didn’t bode well for the rest of labour for me.

Sorry, you can’t shower for work

Eventually, as the pain became stronger, I decided to run a bath. By this point it was 6am which I found to be far more reasonable than 4am, and in all honesty I was hoping for a miracle pain reliever as there was still some time to go before I could take any more ineffective painkillers. There was just one problem – the other half was due up for work within the next 15 minutes or so. He had wisely crawled off to the spare baby’s room at some point during one of my early toilet trips, so I had to creep in and wake him early.

My opening gambit wasn’t ‘I’m in labour,  we’re finally getting to meet our baby,’ but instead, ‘sorry, you can’t shower for work because I’ve ran a bath.’ The other half was undoubtedly confused by this, not knowing what time it was or what planet he was on. So I followed up with the pains I’d been having and how I hadn’t wanted to wake him up in case it wasn’t real labour, meaning he’d have to go to work exhausted.

Some advice please

After establishing that I probably should have woken baby daddy up at some point, and after a long soak in the bath (still timing my contractions), I decided to call the midwives for some advice. Mainly I was hoping here that they would tell me to come straight in and that my baby would be born within the hour,  but that wasn’t to be. As the local hospital midwives only work shifts of 8am to 8pm, with others simply on call during the other half of the day, I had to phone Royal Alexandra Hospital to let them determine whether I needed to speak to an on call midwife or not.

They were very pleasant and took note of my symptoms, contraction times and so on, letting me know the on-call midwife would call me back. By the time she did so, it was after 7am. She was again, very pleasant and explained I should take paracetomol and have a bath at this stage. She also mentioned that as she lived about 40 minutes away from the hospital, I would be better to wait on the midwives coming in at 8am, and give them a call then. It certainly made sense, but it was definitely the longest hour of my life – up until that point.

How many centimeters?

By 9am, I had spoken to the midwives at the local hospital and they had said I could come up for an examination to see how far along I was, and if it was worth keeping me in. Imagine my hormonal dismay when I was met with the midwife from the previous day – the one who didn’t even want to do a sweep. Again,  she seemed disinterested in my situation (she had been told by the other midwife so didn’t need to hear me explain again), and that she didn’t really feel I could be in labour based on the day before.

After a quick feel (I’ve been sexually harassed by strangers in bars for longer), she proceeded to tell me that not only would I be going home, but if I called again and wasn’t in established labour, that I’d have to go to the Royal Alexandra Hospital to have my baby, which shocked me. Apparently, as I’d already made 2 phonecalls which didn’t result in established labour,  this was the standard practice. By this point I’d felt cheated, as nobody had mentioned this on the phone or at any point during check ups or classes. Not only that, I’d felt that it should only have counted as a single call, as it was the on-call midwife who told me to call back purely based on the timing of my phone call. Had I phoned earlier or later, they would have invited me for an examination then!

So, without so much as a figure of dilated centimeters or any reassurance, the other half and I trundled home at 9.30am with just a painkiller to keep me going.

Time for reinforcements

Feeling deflated, hormonal and still in so much pain, it was time to call in the reinforcements, aka my mother. I had already messaged her around bathtime, along with my dad, as I knew they would be up for work. Except my mum had the day off – oops!

It was around noon by the time she had arrived, and I’d already managed another bath by that point. It helped slightly, but definitely wasn’t as effective this time round. By now, the contractions were getting longer and stronger, with myself,  other half and mum all timing them. Speaking to mum helped me cope a bit, even if just to calm me down and slightly distract from the agony running through my body every other minute. Just speaking to someone who had been there before and could sympathise and offer their story (even if the story is nearly 30 years old) helped me make it past lunchtime.

Back to hospital

Around 4 hours had passed since my deflated return from hospital,  and it was at that point I decided I couldn’t take any more and then didn’t care where baby M was born, as long as he was born soon! So I used up my cherished phonecall and made the short trip back to the hospital. Same midwife, same old story – but this time my mum was there. She made clear her grievances, particularly with regards to the midwife’s attitude towards my waters. They hadn’t broken yet, which was one of the main reasons I think I wasn’t taken seriously by her. My mum explained that her waters never broke naturally with either of her kids – the doctors had to break them both times.  In fact, my brother was born less than half an hour after my mums waters had been broken.

In that community maternity unit, their primary focus is on the most natural labour, so they don’t like to break waters. Though the second midwife conceded they would if they had to. What constitutes as serious enough to ‘have to’ eludes me. But it was decided that I could stay in that hospital, with my favourite midwife stating that they would examine me until at least half 3.

Can I get the drugs yet?

With a time frame to aim for, the other half and I settled into the room and switched on some daytime telly. Apparently I can still do maths whilst in serious pain, managing to play along with the sums on Countdown. A couple of TV shows and chocolate eclairs (the sweets, not the cakes) later, my pain and contractions were now not subsiding at all. At this point I was allowed gas and air, which at first felt like it wasn’t touching the pain, but after a while I started to feel the floatiness which helped detract from the pain if nothing else.

As promised, I was examined at half 3 to find out I was 4 centimeters dilated already.  The midwife was shocked and surprised. I wasn’t.  At this point I was advised to chill out for a little while longer. Asking if I could have pethidine, I was told to wait until 6pm when they would reexamine me and determine how far I was, as they didn’t want to give me the drug too early.

I took another bath – I have honestly never been so clean in my life – which the other half had to help me out of. Baby’s heartbeat and my blood pressure were also checked in the bath. The audience as I tried to wash/relax was odd and unnerving, but something I suppose I’ll have to get used to with a child now.

I also threw up, which is a side effect of gas and air. It wasn’t pretty but I at least managed to contain it in a sick bowl. My solution to this was to eat popcorn to line my stomach and keep my strength up,  as it was light. I blame the gas and air.

By this point I was clinging onto my dignity and my other half. My body was doing things I wasn’t entirely comfortable with, and I was still in increasing pain. It was only half 5. I couldn’t bear it, not even for another half an hour. The more sober, pain-free half called the midwives. I needed that examination pronto.

To my relief, and the midwife’s shock, I was 8cm dilated by that point. My waters still hadn’t broken, and there were a couple of centimeters to go before we were anywhere near pushing. ‘Can I have the drugs now?’ I half questioned, half stated sarcastically. ‘Yes, you can have the pethidine now,’ the midwife replied calmly, ushering the other duty midwife to retrieve the injection.

I feel like I need a poo

The pethidine took a short while to kick in but it wasn’t some miracle pain reliever. Instead, it just sort of took me back to the lesser contraction pains of a few hours previous. It was at this point I took to the floor, positioning myself on all fours on a mattress, leaning over a giant beanbag. My hips were constantly swaying and my left hand tightly gripped to the gas and air tube.

It was at this point I started to feel the overwhelming urge to poo, which I promptly declared to the midwives. Apparently all was normal and that was my body getting ready to push – but I should not push yet. After all, my waters STILL hadn’t broken. So there I was, bum in the air, head on a bean bag sooking the life out of the gas and air, trying not to move my bowels or my baby, despite my body having other feelings towards the situation.

Thinking a different position would help, I stood up to give my knees and insides a break. I managed about a whole 2 minutes on my feet before I thought I was going to wet myself. Then, before I could stop it, a rush of mucusey, bloody water flooded my feet and the surrounding floor. Finally, my waters had broken.

Do you want to delIver standing up?

By now, it was just before 8pm and the midwives were getting ready to change shifts. Before they left, my favourite midwife asked if I wanted to deliver standing up.  At the time I thought that was a ridiculous thing to ask and simply replied with a whining ‘no’ in between trying to control my urge to push.  But now I realise it was probably more to do with the fact that baby M was due to make an impending appearance,  and if I didn’t move then he would simply start coming out while I was standing,  leaving me no choice.

So I quickly hopped on the bed – well as quick as a heavily pregnant woman in severe pain can hop onto things – and the midwives positioned me properly using pillows. Still holding tightly to my gas and air with one hand, the other half came over and took my free hand. Not realising until now that this could be a pain relief/sharing option, I started to squeeze as I contracted, probably almost crushing the poor sods fingers.

In a bit of a blur, the midwives changed over and I was encouraged to push.  I wasn’t really sure what I was doing at this point, quite high from all the drugs and having tried to stop pushing for the last hour. With some encouragement from the midwife on how not to lose my voice, but rather direct my push down my body, we started to get somewhere.

This is the part where my other half could probably tell you more than I could, as I wasn’t in the most sober frame of mind and didn’t exactly have the best view (or maybe I did?). But let’s just say after a short while pushing, and a couple of worries about the size of baby M’s head, he arrived just over half an hour after my waters broke at 8.29pm. Happy, healthy and quite big, we shared some skin to skin before being moved to another room so the midwives could clean up the massacre. And his big head didn’t do too much damage either, with mum needing just one stitch – result!

5 Things I’ve Been Doing While Waiting on Baby

When it came to choosing my maternity leave start date, I erred on the side of caution as an unassuming first time mum. I chose to use a weeks’ annual leave, followed by just over 2 weeks of mat leave before my due date, allowing myself time to get organised and to be prepared for a baby that could make an appearance at any point post 37 weeks.

As my due date has come and gone – and everything in the house has been routinely cleaned back to front several times – I’ve been twiddling my thumbs looking for ways to fill the time that don’t consist of continuously re-organising baby’s wardrobe/changing station/furniture arrangements.

1 – Updating my address book

Every Christmas I promise myself I’m going to be more organised when it comes to sending cards. Every year I fail, panic-ask for addresses, and usually end up either missing the postal deadline or forgetting to reach those further away friends. If they are more organised, maybe I’ve got a return address from their card. This has been helpfully torn from the envelope and tossed inside an address book with no rhyme or reason for it. Well not any more! My beautiful cupcake-design address book has been utilised to its purpose. Although friends, if you’re reading this, please don’t move ever again so I don’t need to change this.

2 – Clearing out old coats and shoes

This is probably something most people do at this time of year, out of habit as the seasons change. However I’ve been known to routinely buy new winter coats and boots etc, without throwing the old ones out. I’m not sure if this is due to a hoarders mentality, sentimental attachment to the items or a sheer panic of “but what if I NEED it one freezing day?” but it’s led to the instability of a coat stand and a collection of boots with heels that slope at angles Lady GaGa would be proud of. At any rate, most of these things don’t fit any more so it was satisfying to see them go.

3 – Christmas shopping

Admittedly, I don’t normally need an excuse to be doing this, and in actual fact the end of September is probably when I’d start looking at gift ideas anyway. With a few birthdays close to Christmas, plus the whole family to buy for, planning and budgeting for this time of year has always been something I’ve been cautious of, but even more so this year where I might be too pre-occupied to make the most of the Black Friday sales. Plus, searching for cute “from baby” gifts to grandparents/uncles is so much fun.

4 – General life admin

I’ve always been putting off getting a smart meter as its a fuss of organisation and change. Similarly I’ve been with the same energy provider since we moved here (well they do give us pre-sale to some great concerts…) as well as things like home insurance, banks, TV providers and other things Martin Lewis tells you to shop around for. So now is my chance to get my ducks in a row and maybe see if I can be getting a better deal elsewhere – as those savings will come in handy when my weekly grocery shop doubles to accommodate nappies, wipes and so on.

5 – Trying every old wives tale in the book

Ok so I’ve mostly been using my time productively (sort of). But I’m still disappointed that I don’t currently have a wee sleep thief in my arms to cuddle and care for. So over the past week or so I’ve been trying any advice anyone can give me on how to get this lazy little boy moving. I’ve been for literal walks in the park, bounced for hours on an exercise ball, eaten a range of spicy foods – you name it! Still, he appears to be quite comfy in his not-so-little nook. If anyone has any other unusual labour-inducing tips to share, I’d be only too happy to give them a go!

Receiving Scotland’s Baby Box

One of the best initiatives outlined by the Scottish Government in recent years (aside from free prescriptions or the abolition of tuition fees for Scottish students) has been the provision of a baby box for every child born in Scotland. Borrowed from a similar provision in Finland, the box aims to ensure each child born in the country receives the same start in life.

Scotland-baby-box

The initiative was trialled at the beginning of 2017, rolling out for all babies born in the country on or after 15th August 2017. As baby M was due on 27th September, I was lucky enough to be able to sign up for one of the first baby boxes. Many people may not agree with my choice to sign up for this – it’s not compulsory – but I agree with the sentiment and the equality factor behind this. No, I may not need every single item in the box, because, yes, I can afford to buy things for my child, but the box is more than a handout or symbol of welfare. It offers every child in the country the opportunity to have the same start in life with the same items, guidance and removal of stigma for receiving any such box.

What’s in the box?

Loads of people I know are curious as to what you receive in the box, and in all honesty I’m highly impressed with everything that’s there. The basic needs of your child are met for the first few months – with clothing, somewhere to sleep, play, learning and much more.

Baby-box-clothingThere are various items of clothing ranging in sizes from newborn to 3-6 months. From bright bottoms to beautifully patterned sleepsuits and a fleece jacket, all events are catered for. Clothing also includes socks, mittens and a cotton hat, so your child will always be fully dressed and cosy if need be.

Whilst sleep is obviously catered to through the box itself, complete with mattress, there’s a sling/wrap inside to ensure you can carry baby around even without an expensive pram or travel system. Plus you’ll also find a travel changing mat in there for when you decide to take baby into the outside world, and there are a few handy muslins tucked in there for feeding time too.

In addition to sleep, travel and warmth, the box also contains various useful items for bathing. From a cute duck sponge to practical hooded towel, bathtime for baby can be fun. There’s also a handy thermometer to test the water temperature, and some nail files to trim baby’s nails afterwards.

Magic-book-first-bookPlay is also an important part of the baby box, which comes complete with a play mat, highland cow comforter, teether and books. With both an interactive play book and a first story book, babies can play and learn from day one.

There are also some practical items for parents, including condoms(!), alongside things like tips for how mum can breastfeed and express, maternity pads, ideas for games to play with your child and activities to keep their wee minds stimulated. It wouldn’t be a government box without some important information too, on things like how to use the box, mental health help and information on guidance for mothers.

All things being equal

I absolutely love that the box contains the same items for every single child, with gender neutral clothing to boot. Whether you’re a young parent, first-time parent or have done it all before, your child gets the same treatment as every other, and you get the same information and support too. I know not everyone has to accept a box, and if you find that you’re in a position that you already have everything inside it, then fair enough. However I’d strongly encourage everyone eligible to sign up for one, to give each child the fair and equal start they deserve in life, regardless of class, family makeup or anything else.