Friday, 26 October 2012

What have you done today to make you feel proud?

Be inspired by Operation Christmas Child – the charity that asks you to fill a shoebox with toys to send off to needy children abroad. Or make a difference closer to home by giving filled shoeboxes to local homeless shelters or charities. Talk to your child about what people might need and include a drawing or a note. Visit or simply click on the link below...


Thursday, 25 October 2012

FRUSTRATION and the art of nobbling

After school today Esme was playing Frustration with a friend, Max. She had already overturned his counter (or nobbled him as we call it), but burst into tears at the prospect of being nobbled in return.

Sportsmanship is a new concept in her world and clearly she doesn't want to lose, so she decided to throw a massive wobbler and stop Max and his winning streak that way instead. Tables turned quickly however when Max also began to howl, exclaiming, 'Esme, let me nobble you back.'

Now, not only does Esme need a lesson in losing, but she also needs her half term holiday that's fast approaching. Her mother meanwhile, needs to pour herself another glass of wine.

The screaming (2) - Homeopathic remedy for baby tummy troubles

Esme Grace’s start was repeated on the diet/allergy front by her sister Sofia Faith, three years down the line. Sofia was born and the colic kicked in two days after. She also screamed non-stop, and ended up on Baby Gaviscon and the ever so expensive Neocate formula. 

The very attractive and very fabulous paediatric consultant highlighted the not so very attractive and not so very fabulous fact that to have one allergic baby was rotten luck, but to have two, was just rotten.

Before I move on from the dietary ailments of my children, I want to share with you the homeopathic remedy named COLOCYNTH. I tried all the lotions and potions in the world to ease baby number two’s tummy before having to result to prescription formula. None of them worked, but colocynth helped.

The screaming (1) - An inconsolable baby IS in pain

Esme was a delicate flower. And even a wizard cranial osteopath couldn't help when it came to her tummy. 

By now she'd had gastrointeritis which had led to rotovirus, which her consultant explained to me had left her stomach lining in shreds. Proof of this was the green diarrohea she passed for the first six months of her life. To make matters worse, she was lactose intolerant and allergic to dairy as well. 

From around the three month mark Esme stopped gaining weight, my feeding her was failing, even with my being on a dairy free diet, and it was then that she was put on to a prescription hypo-allergenic formula. In all, she didn't tolerate dairy for eighteen months. And in the meantime, the symptoms were severe colic and reflux. But silent reflux with no vomitting, where the pain just sits and burns within.

The first four months of her life, she cried every day for almost all the time. I would try to feed her and she would arch her back in agony. She was inconsolable. She wouldn't take a dummy. She was uncomfortable being held. She never napped. She just screamed. 

In the end, so did I. 

I remember the day I finally broke down, yelling while pacing, 'I never signed up for this. I don't want this. I can't do this any longer.' 

Bizarrely, that same day, her crying ceased.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

The magic man - A post on Cranial Osteopathy

Ok, Mac is fixed again, so onwards and upwards, oh and downwards... 

For me, life with a newborn at home was very up and down. One of the ups was taking Esme to see a simply quite lovely man. No, not her consultant, but a cranial osteopath named Chris Grey.

I wasn’t sure about cranial osteopathy, but this guy came highly recommended by the maternity matron. And as far as I was concerned, anything she suggested was definitely worth checking out. 

All I knew was that in those very early days when I held Esme, she screamed. When Simon held Esme, she screamed. In fact, when anyone held Esme, she pretty much screamed. Accept for that is, Chris Grey. The cranial osteopath. Who also became known in our house as the magic man.

Digressing randomly… I wish the magic man to be my grandpop in a future life. Along with Professor Robert Winston as the other one.

Anyway, the magic man. Picture this… ever so slightly wild hair, bright corduroy trousers, a floral waistcoat, piccolo in hand, sat beneath a Bodhi tree. Throw in a soft approach, calm aura, overall scruffiness and complete befuddlement, and you pretty much have Chris Grey.

His work place named The Wishing Well, oozes serenity. Not an ounce of technology can be found within it, only endearment and humanity. Oh and a bloody great cranial osteopath. For we entered the Wishing Well totally sceptic, and stepped out totally convinced. It was just plain weird how Esme stopped crying immediately he took her. What did he do? He asked for my pregnancy history and Esme’s birth experience and then ever so gently massaged and manipulated her little head and body.  Remarkably, it helped.

For more info on this subject, there's a great book:
'Osteopathy for children', written by Elizabeth C Hayden D.O.
ISBN 0 9532542 0 8 

Chris Grey 
The Wishing Well, 

PH: 01730 233802



Tuesday, 23 October 2012

And where we are right now

My work is going well, there is lots happening and that is all super great - accept my Mac is misbehaving. Am on a curve here and typing this post on my mobile. Curious to see if I (techy twit complete) can make it function...

Meanwhile Fia (1YO) unwell, tale includes more A&E, and inhaler, has all slowed the blog thing down but once my Mac is fixed I'll be on it again. 

Back soon...

Sunday, 21 October 2012

And so... 'Down to earth with a bump' concludes

And so, these posts about my pregnancy with Esme and her birth ‘Down to earth with a bump’ conclude. For my bump was born, was home, and was now… a living nightmare. (Her constant screaming did not stop). 

Meanwhile, I cannot post tonight as I'm done in. Why ever did I suggest a jaegerbomb prior to dinner and then follow it up with copious amounts of bubbles, still prior to dinner? Oh dear. It's been a long long day. I've embeded myself in my kids for most of it, taking comfort from the delight they bring me. Now though, I need bed. Goodnight.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Down to earth with a bump (31) - All tissued out

This was the term given to when the cannula had run its course and needed to be replaced. It was also a term I came to dread. Esme had had them everywhere on her body, lasting a couple of days max, eventually all had tissued out. As I carried her towards the SCBU, I was aware that the next cannula was to be inserted in the top of her head. I walked slowly. Tears fell fast.

I had left the clear perspex cot on wheels behind this time. I wanted to hold my baby close. Matron soon put pay to that. I was stopped short in my tracks. “Where’s the cot Emma? You know Esme should always be transported in the cot to the SCBU.” I pulled my baby in tighter to me, “But I wanted to hold her this time.” She could see I was in bits and led me to a side room. Someone collected Esme as I collected myself. The Matron helped enormously; placating, reassuring, soothing.

Very quickly after, a consultant appeared. He came in the room quietly. He had a kind face and smiled with his eyes. Bald as a coot mind. I later found out he was a father of five. So it’s true then: the follically challenged are fertile men.

God he was attractive, not in a catalogue way. Perhaps it was simply a case of – I’m not sure what it is called actually, but I can liken it to Stockholm Syndrome, where the captured falls in love with the captor, a psychological phenomenon, a traumatic bonding.

Anyway, here was a man who saved Esme from having to have a cannula inserted in her head. Here was a man who thought that ten days of intravenous antibiotics were enough. Here was a man willing to override his peers’ prescription of 14 days. Here was a man that was the most human example of a doctor I’ve ever met.

I was drawn to him that very moment. And then when he discharged us later that same day, I knew I’d fallen completely.

After being discharged we took Esme to see her consultant regularly for a couple of years. I wonder if Simon noticed my skirts getting shorter in length every visit? I know the doctor never did. Shame! 

Note from author: Irrational thoughts are most definitely allowed as blog content…

Friday, 19 October 2012

What have you done today to make you feel proud? - Extra Special Care (II)

BLISS, the special care baby charity, provides vital support and care to premature and sick babies and their families across the UK. 

Any donations will be truly appreciated. Thank you.

The BLISS Parent Support Helpline is 0500 618 140 or you can visit

Down to earth with a bump (30) - Extra Special Care (I)

Although she appeared to be fine, there was always the question hanging over us. And then there was another question. Do you want your baby to continue with the intravenous antibiotics or do you want to take her home and wait for signs of meningitis to appear? I think we chose to do what any new parent put in that position would chose; to carry on. 

In hindsight would I have continued with the drugs? I’m actually not sure I would have done. As a result of such strong antibiotics at birth, and so many of them, Esme was left with a weakened immune system that would see us back at hospital only two weeks after being discharged. And then for her entire first year of life we were back and forth. It was difficult. But one thing is for sure, the staff at the hospital, and especially the dedicated SCBU team, helped lessen that degree of difficulty. 

The next post is to support all their dedication and hard work.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Down to earth with a bump (29) Was it meningitis?

Was it or wasn’t it? Truth is, we’ll never know for sure as the lumbar puncture was missed. Not carried out. And it would appear that having a baby born in to the world on a Friday at nearly midnight was the reason. Communication never seems to be relayed in quite the same way as it does between staff Mon-Thurs’s. So anyway, the lumbar puncture never happened (there is a short window when it can be carried out in a newborn – between birth and 48 hours old) and obviously I was sort of happy about that. But then again not, as we never did know the full extent of what was wrong with her. To be honest, I hung on to the fact that compared to some of those babies in the SCBU, Esme quite honestly appeared to be fine.

Cake Lingerie, have your cake and eat it - Ugly no more...

While I am on the subject of ugly nursing bras, check out cakelingerie for some amazingly beautiful ones.

Down to earth with a bump (28) - Kahunas and cabbages

It has to be savoy. And it has to be kept in the fridge. But let me tell you this, if you are struggling with massive kahunas like I was, then these cabbage leaves are a most effective remedy. They help by cooling down burning boobies as well as relieving extraordinairily rock hard milk ducts. Of course seeing a green cabbage leaf poking out of a fat strapped nursing bra is not particularly sightly, but hey, you’ve just had a baby, so I very much doubt you will care about that. And besides the bras to reign these milkers in are usually so ugly that a cabbage leaf within them is hardly going to matter.

Down to earth with a bump (27) - Friends and lettuces

Simon came and went according to the hospital’s visiting hours, but always as he left, a hollowness arrived. I hated being away from him as I never knew when a doctor would appear to talk to me about my baby’s health; her future. 

It was no surprise that I found some solace by taking up with two mums on the ward. Both mums of twins born the same time as Esme, Andrea was opposite and Elinor was next to. Andrea’s baby girls were on the ward. Elinor’s baby boys were in special care. Esme was on the ward as they had run out of room in the SCBU (Special Care Baby Unit), but had to be taken for visits night and day for checks and intravenous antibiotics. Together through all the ups and downs, the three of us laughed and cried.

This particular day I write about was day three of our stay, day three being the notorious baby blues day when hormones are all over the shop. Tears one minute, joy the next, in short hysteria rules. For Elinor, Andrea and myself, day three was also side salad day:

Everyone knows that hospital food is crap. Well it was a source of great hilarity seeing the food put in front of us every meal. But on day three when Elinor’s lunch arrived, we could not stop laughing. You see, she’d ordered a side salad with her main. The tray was presented to her and immediately she started to chuckle. She gulped for breath before managing to announce, “Look at my side salad!” There, in the palm of her hand, lay one languishing limp lettuce leaf.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Bedtime musings of a 4YO

So tonight at bedtime...

Esme: 'Mummy, is pooh a bad word?'

Me: 'Not really darling, why do you ask?'

Esme: 'Well, Oscar came up to me at lunchtime and whispered 'pooh' in my ear and then ran away again.

Me: 'He's such a boy that Oscar.' (Snigger snigger).

Down to earth with a bump (26) Has my newborn baby meningitis?

In the end, because of her tiny veins, we were told they’d been unable to put the line in either hand, and so had gone in through one of Esme’s feet. Instead of being able to comfort her, I found myself given a pair of scissors to cut the left foot out of her tiny sleep suit. 

At that precise point, it all hit me. 
Like the title of this tale, I came crashing down to earth with a bump

It seemed so wrong to have to destroy this perfect garment. It had never been worn. And only a short time prior, as I had packed it in my hospital bag, I'd imagined my baby in it, its newborn form, so brand new, so perfect. But our reality was far from perfect. 

I came to intently dislike that flip-flop. It was always there, a clumsy reminder that all was not well. Everything about it was so unfunny. That rubber sole protected the tube that erupted out of the top of Esme’s just born foot.

It was another hour before I was able to hold Esme again. 

Eventually she came back from special care, each hand black and blue, badly bruised. In a hauntingly comical way, her foot wore, what looked like her first sandal.

Thanks to the one legged sleep suit, Esme’s newly bandaged foot with its flip-flop protector now had the room it required as I dressed her for the first time. 

Still we had no idea what lay ahead for her. All we knew was that her first lot of blood tests proved she was very sick. Esme had a high white blood cell count indicating extreme infection. They told us this was more than likely meningitis. She was to have a lumbar puncture to find out exactly what the infection was, oh and countless bloods taken. From those ever so tiny veins.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Down to earth with a bump (25) - In someone else’s hands

So here I am, unable to bond with my bump for most of its term and then holding my new baby in my arms for long enough to know that I don’t ever want her out of them again, when BANG! She’s taken away. I had only just got her. I was only just waking up to the feeling of wanting her.

Having my baby removed from me remains a blur. I was on such a high from having given birth that I went along with everything in a very surreal bubble; one that totally denied the seriousness of the situation.

I first heard her scream when the doctor tried to fit a cannula in to her tiny form. I didn’t like it at all and tears sprung to my eyes. Her veins were too delicate, and so tiny, the cannula wouldn’t go in. It couldn’t go in. Yet it had to be done. But the doctor couldn’t manage it, and it was left aside for another more senior paediatric doctor to insert. And when he did, she screamed some more.

That screaming only served to reinforce my fragile bond with her and as I wiped away the tears that fell, Simon held me and I him. We were both so helpless. And both so desperate to comfort our new baby. But as we were left standing together in the background, she was taken away to Special Care.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Down to earth with a bump (24) - When baby is removed

My waters had ruptured a week before I gave birth to Esme, and she had been inside me for all that time, exposed to infection and getting drier by the day.

The risk of infection became a reality once the placenta was born; for so too was a big bag of puss. And even with all the antibiotics I had been flushed with during the birth as a precaution for both of us, our new baby daughter needed a whole lot more, for the bag of puss indicated a serious infection. I still had absolutely no clue of any of this as I stared at the bundle of beauty within my arms.

Esme had been so shocked by her delivery that she never did cry. She was of course, perfect, all 6lbs 15 of her, (hardly an elephant). As she fed from me, minutes old, it struck me how clean she was. And how dry. But of course dry, she had been in the womb losing water. And as a consequence she was quite sick. And as a consequence, she would be removed from me after only one hour of having her.

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Down to earth with a bump (23) Welcome Esme Grace


Our baby girl was born at 11:48pm on August 29, 2008.
She was named almost immediately.
Simon chose Esme. I chose Grace.
She was a part of the two of us.

This little being whom I had spent nine months trying to bond with, was placed on my jelly belly tummy with her eyes wide, staring at me. I was totally amazed, and could not stop staring right back. And it was at that magical moment, that the first love to bond her and I together began. Here was my baby. My Esme Grace. So teeny. So helpless. So dependent on me. So in need of me. Just as perhaps, I was in need of her, after all.

What have you done today to make you feel proud?

Add The Hunger Site to your Bookmarks bar. 

Did you know that for every visit and click received at, the site’s sponsors will donate a 230g portion of rice to hungry people in one of 74 developing countries? Do it now please.

Friday, 12 October 2012

Down to earth with a bump (22) - A labour of love (6)

Fact: 16% of all births end up in a ventouse delivery

The baby's head was down far enough for the doctor to know what her next move would be: Assisted delivery in the form of ventouse. This was the last hope for our baby, prior to surgery. Simon and I were all too aware of how many midwives appeared to be in our room all of a sudden.

Simon tells me how the registrar attached the ventouse cap to the baby’s skull and then pulled. No, tugged. Get this. The doctor that delivered our baby, did so with one leg up on the bed to get herself a good purchase, literally yanking the ventouse with her entire body weight. But… What gets to me most of all when I revisit this part of the birth, is that all of that tremendous pressure was not just pulling on the ventouse. It was pulling on our baby’s head.

Down to earth with a bump (21) - To reflect and then to reflect

They say it can help spur you on. Give you renewed energy. BUT If someone tells you to look at your baby’s head as it is in the process of being born, I personally would definitely advise you against it. OMG. I was SO freaked out. Bless! What I don’t think helped the situation was that our baby was actually born back to back, never did turn and consequently came out face up. Or should I type, purple face up? Eyes wide staring, purple face up? It was the worst thing I could ever have done. SO Alien.

Friends, I love ya!

Mates are important, and at times there's just SO much going on with life's everyday minutiae detail, they often get left behind. I just wanted to say, I may not speak with you every day, or see some of you very often at all, but God I love ya! xxx

And Em, cheers for the positive feedback on this blog... I hope your amazing midwife training is going well. Let me know if you have any great stories to add to Down to earth with a bump!

Down to earth with a bump (20) - A labour of love (5)

Quite quickly the midwife Penny told us that the baby was presenting the wrong way, and back to back and induced, meant I wasn’t in for an easy labour. There and then she advised me to have an epidural. I didn’t need telling twice and the anaesthetist was called.

As the drugs to induce me kicked in, so did the contractions. They were fast and furious without any let up. I remember thinking I was supposed to get a break between them to have a breather. But no break came. My baby was being forced out. I’m not sure how happy it was about it, as the monitor relayed obvious fetal distress.

I thought I was going to vomit just as the anaesthetist arrived. He gave me the epidural and its relief was instant. For the next couple of hours Fleetwood Mac and other various favourites kept us company. Midwives came in and out to look at the monitor. A watchful eye was kept on baby.

I lost count of the amount of hands that went up inside me to check the babe’s progress. The first I endured with total dignity. Pre-epidural I was altogether stoic as she announced, “It has a lot of hair, I can feel its head,” I wanted to yell, “Really? I’m surprised you can’t feel my tonsils.”

After that, my dignity left as one after another they had a rummage (yes rummage) to see if I was dilating well. And then to get a colleague to check that yes, I was indeed dilating well. In fact a bit too well really. I went from 1cm to 8cms at break neck speed. They were baffled and couldn’t quite believe it, hence another arm (yes arm) travelled up to measure me.

‘You’re doing really well’ was something I heard a lot. Why don’t you have a rest now, try and get some sleep? It had been four hours since I'd been induced. As if. What I actually needed was to poo. Thank goodness I was hooked up to a drip that moved with me. Clever stuff these mobile epidurals. Shut out the pain and deaden your upper torso, but at the same time allow you to shuffle around on working legs. Amazing.

“You don’t need to pooh but to push,” came the knowing tone of the lead midwife who announced I was already fully dilated. And so, just like that, instead of sleeping, it was time to get busy. 

I don’t remember all of it. I do remember snippets. I remember Simon making me laugh – totally unintentionally. He had a nice cool flannel and was intent on using it. But surely everyone knows that you mop the woman’s brow when the contraction ends, not begins? Brilliant. That’s it actually, just brilliant: That in the middle of something so serious, you can find such humour. I love the fact that it was at times, funny. Except then, it wasn’t.

Baby was stuck and needed help. Its little heartbeat was being monitored and was ‘distressed.’ Such a bitter description, ‘distressed.’ Like a ship about to sail in to rocks. An S.O.S. before it all goes horribly wrong.

So the doc was called. She gave me a stern talking to and told me I was heading for a c section unless I got my baby out in the next few moments. The music was turned off. I tried so bloody hard. I pushed and pushed for my baby but got nowhere. Baby was still in the wrong position and now most definitely stuck.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Egg Egg Egg

Yey! Today we are a VERY happy household. 

Fia (mischeivious 13-month-old) tolerated egg for the first time. 

You most probably have no idea just how fabulously BIG that is in our little world.

Lots of love to all the Mother hens out there!

Down to earth with a bump (19) - A labour of love (4)

Surprisingly I slept well and surprisingly I was a picture of calm in the morning. We got in the car and made the drive back to the hospital. I began to feel sick on the way and by the time we arrived, Simon told me I looked white, completely drained. Nice.

As we went up in the lift I thought I was going to throw up. We walked through the doors on to the labour ward and the first person I saw was one of my community midwives, I was so relieved. I summoned my voice and said hello, telling her I was so pleased to see her on shift. To my dismay she told me she had just finished an extraordinarily long night and was soon to be on her way home. “Oh,” the relief left me in an instant. “I’m here to be induced at 8’o’clock.” “Oh no you’re not,” she smiled, "there are no beds available.”

Simon said it was as if someone had just brushed over my face with pink paint. For in that moment, all the colour came flooding back in to my cheeks. “Oh that is good news,” I grinned. She smiled. “You will have to sit in the waiting room with a few others until a bed comes available. Sorry.”

Simon then put his two pennies in, saying: “I think you should know Emma’s membranes ruptured a week ago.” Calmly she replied, “Right, then you jump the queue and go ahead of the woman whose waters broke three days ago.”

Bizarrely, I felt like we had won a prize in a raffle at that point. We walked to the waiting room and glanced through the door. A few others? It was packed. All you could see were bumps and legs everywhere. A number of anxious faces glanced back.

I couldn’t do it; it would have turned me in to a complete fruit loop waiting in there with nothing but silence to keep us company, besides there was nowhere to sit. We arranged with someone on the desk that we would be waiting somewhere within the hospital grounds and gave them our mobile number. We promised we would not go home, but be there for when we were called. When would that be? They couldn’t be sure.

Four hours later we were sat in the car listening to music in the car park. It was all a bit surreal. Waiting. Here even at the hospital, just waiting. My baby hardly kicked at all. It too, seemed to know it was waiting. Waiting for the final hurdle. And then the phone rang. And this time I was ready. I was calm. All was good. Nothing had changed, but time had elapsed and I was now prepared.

I sat on the bed and the new midwife introduced herself. She was called Penny, and she was brilliant. I knew it would be ok. She tuned me in to the monitor and put a cannula in to my wrist. There was no doubt about it, this time I was ready.

Down to earth with a bump (18) - Labour of love (3)

Simon and I sat in a room on the labour ward for four whole hours before a doctor was available. We were left alone all that time. I have to say those four hours were the most horrendous of my entire pregnancy, for a woman somewhere close by screamed and yelled throughout, revealing her agony in the most distressing way. I didn’t like it and putting my fingers in my ears did not make it go away. My excitement dissipated and I was no longer calm. Instead I was completely terrified and my body reacted accordingly. My labour slowed until my contractions stopped altogether.

A doctor finally examined me and told me I was to be induced that night. We needed to get things going as our baby was in danger, having been in the womb with no water for so long. ‘I can’t be induced tonight, it’s so late and I’m already exhausted (scared shitless). I hardly slept at all last night and I need to go home. (Scared shitless). Please. Pleeeeeease,’ I begged. Defeated, the doc booked us in for an 8am slot. I couldn’t wait to get out of there.

As adrenalin dipped, hunger surged and it dawned on us we hadn’t eaten for hours.
‘Let’s stop at the Thai restaurant.’
‘Do you think it’s still open?’

Thankfully it was and thankfully it was reasonably empty. Although a large group of Americans lingered, enjoying themselves, clearly toasted. Our drinks arrived as we studied the menu wondering what to eat, when suddenly I felt a contraction. What on earth was I thinking? How could I possibly eat a meal at gone ten at night, when I was being induced the next morning? More contractions kicked in. My emotions immediately did a u-turn and I lost my appetite instantaneously to be replaced with pain and panic. I whispered to Simon, ‘We have to go.’ He looked blankly at me. (If you can help it, never come between a hungry man and his meal, or if you do, don’t expect him to have fast brain output).
‘I’m having contractions again. I want to go home.’
‘Oh babe, but we're about to order.’
‘I can’t eat Simon, what am I thinking? Sorry hun, I have some pasta at home, can you cope with that instead.' A pain hit. 'I have to go.’ Poor sod tries the awkward waiter angle.
‘What do I say to the waiter?’
The waiter was nearing. I composed myself. ‘I’m ever so sorry. You see, I’m having a baby. We really need to leave.’ The waiter nodded and smiled and held out his arm to help me up. He was gracious and discreet which I was so thankful for. My bump was so overwhelmingly huge, I usually could feel the stares everywhere I went. 

Unfortunately, I was to become a spectacle yet, as one of the Americans tuned in to what was happening, and made his announcement at the top of his voice, ‘Oh my God, you’re having the baby. Hey, she’s having the baby. Everyone, the baby is coming, the baby is coming.’ Well, I didn’t know where to put myself. Simon steered me towards the door and away from the table of cherry-faced and very loud tourists, who clearly couldn’t quite believe the anecdote they would now be able to share back home. They whooped and wowed, clapping me as I went, with cheers of good luck and encouragement. Bewildered, we closed the door on the noise.

At home, I got in the bath and sunk down so the water was around my neck. My belly floated above. I closed my eyes so I couldn’t see it.

Down to earth with a bump (17) - A labour of love (2)

Thursday morning was spent timing contractions and walking back and forth. By mid-afternoon Simon made me phone the labour ward. We got there about five o’clock and I was immediately hooked up to a monitor. Yes labour was happening and yes, my waters had broken.

The news that they were broken truly astounded me. I realised that this meant that actually, they had more than likely been broken since our crap flask of tea experience, six days before. 

I relayed this to the midwife, tears streaming. I then remembered that at my last check the midwife had not insisted on examining me but had accepted my ‘I’m not sure. I think it’s wee,’ explanation. 

Huh, the explanation of a first time pregnant woman. Surely there’s a lesson to be learnt there? Yes, indeed, but I didn’t know at this point, just how much of a lesson.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

What have you done today to make you feel proud?

Okay, you can start by watching this movie...

This is Evie's story.

Evie is a little girl from my town, who just like my daughter Esme Grace, started school this September.

Please listen to her parents tell their story in the film, and if you would like to help, by either donating to the charity Action for A-T, or by passing the story on to others you know to help raise awareness, then that would be amazing. 

Thank you!

Down to earth with a bump (16) - Labour of love (1)

The next couple of days came and went. I pruned roses, cleaned cupboards, washed the floors, bounced on my birthing ball and continued to lay on my left like you do, aware that I’d have moments when it was as if the baby’s head was coming out already.

I woke up and picked a new spot - the only thing glowing in my complexion. I had a wee and looked in the loo to see what I thought may be the mucus plug sitting there. 

Mum came up for the day and we went for coffee. The woman in the shop asked how many days left to go? I told her, minus five. I was aware my back was really aching.

We went out for lunch in a nearby pub and the backache intensified. I told mum I thought it may all be starting up. I was excited and proud and relieved all at once. I ate my food still not really sure, but that night, contractions came in slow waves like really strong period pains. I phoned the hospital who advised me to take paracetamol and go to sleep. I did take the tablets. I didn’t sleep a wink.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

PLEASE do NOT compromise your baby's health

Have your membranes ruptured?

Contrary to what many women think, this is not as clear cut as it seems. Yes, many women experience a tremendous gush when their waters break, but it is not always like that.

In my situation only my hind waters had broken, and hence I leaked a teeny bit of water every so often. It was easy to assume it was urine. More so, because I expected it to be far more obvious than it was. Niagra Falls style. You know; how they do it in the movies.

If your waters have gone and you aren't sure, then there really is no time left to ponder about it. You need to find out straight away. If they are broken, then your baby ought to be delivered as soon as possible, for once that protective seal is no longer intact, baby's health is compromised.

If you are in any doubt at all, please ask your midwife to check for you. 
It could make all the difference.

Down to earth with a bump (15) - A WAITING GAME

Fact: Babies are more likely to be born eight days over their due date, than at any other time.

It was a bank holiday weekend when my due date came and went. By Saturday afternoon, we were already desperate to get out of the house. I was slowly going out of my mind. I must have slowly been sending Simon out of his.

We went to a nearby beauty spot with a flask of tea and sat to admire the view but it was terrible weather and we couldn’t see a thing. Our flask of tea tasted like crap too. We headed back.

It was not long after being home, I felt a wet trickle in my knickers. I changed, feeling a little heady. Could this be my waters? No, nothing else trickled out, I concluded that it was my rubbish pelvic floor. I was carrying an elephant after all.

A few days later I was at the health centre for a check. Unfortunately, both my usual midwives were on holiday. I sat in the waiting room, waiting for a midwife, waiting for my baby. I wanted to wait there much longer to be honest, but one arrived and ushered me in to the room. I told her I was over my due date and she asked if my waters had broken? I hesitated, “No. Yes. No. I don’t think so, but I’m not sure. No, it was probably just wee.”

If I could do it all again, here’s the point where I now stand up and say forcefully, "Well seeing as I’m not sure, hadn't you better check?”

But no, I just sat there.
“Okay, we will see you back here in a few days for a sweep then,” came the reply. 

And with that, more than content to be out of there, I was on my way.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Down to earth with a bump (14) TICKLED PINK & PINK OR BLUE? (I)

I was wobbling back from somewhere and hot and tired, I’d treated myself to a cab. It was not far at all, but far enough for this exchange…

Taxi driver: Wow. How long have you got to go?
Me: Not long now.
Taxi driver: What’s your due date then?
Me: 23rd August
Taxi driver: That’s my birthday.
Me: Really. Well if it’s a boy, we could call it after you, what’s your name?
Taxi driver: Barry.
Me: Then again, maybe not.
I paid up and shut the door, tickled pink. 


I convinced myself it was a boy. Well if it was going to weigh in at over nine-pound; it had to be. It would be great to have a boy for Simon’s sake - pass on the name and all that. I chose not to listen to the distant voice inside my head that reminded me I wanted a girl.
The days went by and we drew ever closer to the highlighted date in the diary.
23 Aug 2008 = our baby due.
And then... we bypassed it.
23 Aug 2008 = our baby due.

Down to earth with a bump (13) - MATERNITY LEAVE

Yes. It made all the difference. Finishing work at 34 weeks seemed early to some; but it was the best thing I could have done. Not having to be on that train platform early every morning for a two-hour journey in to the office; as if I would really miss that.

I didn’t miss the stress, the deadlines or the demands. The freedom was a novelty; I never once succumbed to boredom or felt fed up. I remember my brother's wife saying to me, “You’ll never get this time back, so make the most of it.” I think that was the single most helpful advice I received in all nine months! Here was my ‘last chance for everything scenario,’ so enjoy it I did. Having time to focus on what lay ahead and not on what I was doing for the magazine was weird as well as refreshing.

And wonderfully, I did begin to feel some sort of excitement at the impending arrival of my baby. Yes, finally!

That missing maternal instinct began to reveal itself in the strangest of places: While sitting in the rocking chair in the newly painted nursery. While looking at the washing line full of tiny white baby clothes swinging in the breeze. While stroking my ever rounder belly. I suddenly felt more content than ever.

We decorated the nursery in true expectant parent textbook style. Me in dungarees with non-toxic paint in my hair. Simon whistling with a pencil behind his ear. Photos taken (me in profile of course). We worked excitedly and watched as the room morphed in to something suitably neutral.

Shopping for baby was something that happened in the final four weeks. It wasn’t a case of leaving it too late; it was a case of leaving it until I was ready. I had finally got my head round the fact that we were having a baby. Round the fact that the moses basket in the corner of the room would soon be right up against our bed with a baby in it. Round the fact that the huge weight in my belly would soon be held in my arms.

I talked to it a lot in those last weeks. I stroked it a lot. In fact so much that I may have made up for the other eight months of not. Baby would push up in my ribs and down in my groin emphasising its size. I knew it was tall and I assumed that meant big. The midwives told me to expect at least a nine-pounder. I winced at the thought. But where as I had always been so worried about the birth, I now took on a calm perspective. After all, it had to come out, it was happening one way or another whether I liked it or not. So I stopped panicking and started to look forward.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Down to earth with a bump (12) - HORMONES AT WORK (II)

It was about a month before my due date and my family were up visiting. It was warm and I was waddling, now due in less than a month. My dad and I were walking back towards the play park to meet my nephews; we could hear them amongst the many other children, all screaming with delight.

Inside my head I heard those same screams on replay. I stopped walking and turned to my Dad. Tears streamed down my face. "Dad," I said, "I’m not sure I even want this baby."

I fell in to his arms and sobbed.

Down to earth with a bump (11) - ANTENATAL CLASSES

It was with a light-hearted approach that we entered the room at the health centre. Lots of pregnant couples sat and watched as we fell through the door, (I ask myself are we always late?) anyway, already we were a marked couple.

We listened as a midwife talked about labour, pain relief and things that could go wrong in general. The seriousness of it all was far too much for me to handle down to the fact that I was already worked up about the birth of my extraordinairily long-legged baby. Nerves took over and as a result I found all manner of things amusing when clearly I shouldn’t have. To make it worse, Simon thought it all bloody hilarious too.

When we were asked if we could think of something to take to the hospital, I replied ‘camera’ and Simon said ‘video’ at the very same time. The two of us sat with silly grins on our faces. And it's not even as though we were trying to be clever. It was clearly not what the midwife required (she was thinking maternity pads and newborn nappies); and we were both shot down pretty quickly with her best ‘go to the back of the class’ look. 

All joking aside, it actually was well worth attending, as was the huffy puffy session we later found ourselves at. Yes, whatever you do, for goodness sakes don’t miss the huffy puffy session. The comedy factor in that class is second to none.

Hindsight required here: That very same midwife that shot us a look, much further down the line became someone I learnt to trust, confide and laugh with. A lot.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Down to earth with a bump (10) - IS PREGNANCY DIFFICULT? (II)

My lack of maternal instinct worried me. I only hoped that giving up work in a few weeks would make all the difference. It would certainly help with the blatant tiredness.

This morning was a struggle after waking several times through the night. I first woke to pee, but couldn’t get out of bed to do so. Presumably the baby's position and my very full bladder were to blame. But when I went to get up, I simply couldn't. Instead I yelped with pain. 

Poor Simon, his night is also interrupted many times and I wonder how long it will be before we are in separate rooms? Then again, he does love feeling the baby kick him in the back as we fall asleep spooning.

Anyway, my needing to pee... He offered to hoist me up and out but in the time that would have taken I knew I would have already wet the bed. So I found myself in the strangest position where being on all fours featured heavily. Very heavily. When I did wee, ah, relief was mine – and maybe the baby’s too, for it shot out in several different directions. And while I am on the subject… how difficult is it to wipe these days?

Several other disturbances all eventually came to a head at 4am when I lay wide-awake feeling baby wriggle and stretch. It struck me how baby must be getting longer for it seemed to find pockets of space in my womb that had previously lain untouched. Like a pita bread which gently unsticks and opens up, a foot or a hand would make its way in to new territory. This particular time it felt like an arm was curling right around my waist.

Eventually at 6am when Simon left for work, I fell in to a deep sleep. He rang at 7.30 and was pleased that I’d managed to drop off again. I was far too groggy to agree. And then I realised I was against the clock. A quick shower, food and clothes, and yey, I was almost out the door. I had to leave now if I was to make my train. Coat on. Door open. I sneezed. I shouted. Too late, my knickers were already wet.

I do my kegal's. My pelvic floor isn’t that bad? Is it? I felt utterly hopeless and not for the first time I thought to myself, wouldn't it be nice to own MY body again.

Meanwhile, I changed my underwear and rushed (sort of) to the station. Red faced, panting and looking as if I was in labour, I studied the arrival/departure board only to see that my train had been cancelled. I waited, sat sturdy on the now very busy platform, thinking about how utterly unfair life could be at times. Get over it Emma. I started to think about the parentcraft class Simon and I would attend that evening. What on earth would that bring? 

Hopefully, other like-minded fat women, who pissed in their pants when they sneezed.

Friday, 5 October 2012

Down to earth with a bump (9) WHAT MATERNAL INSTINCT?

Three things made me question it.
1) The baby shop
I was with a colleague on lunch break when she remarked she wanted to go in to a baby shop to buy a gift for a friend of hers who had just given birth. I trailed in after her in a bit of a daydream only to pick up some of the tiny garments on display. In an instant, the realisation that my bump was not just a bump, hit me. There was in fact a baby in there. A baby that would soon need clothing. Astonishingly, I fled the store.

2) The pregnant woman on the train
Simon and I were travelling back from London together, when we met a good friend we had not seen in ages. Him and his luggage joined us, he took the last seat in a packed train carriage. It was one of those scenarios where you are so pleased to see the other, you end up lost in the moment, forgetting where you are. The fact that we were surrounded by other commuters only dawned on us after a very loud and happy hello.

I think out of everyone in the carriage that evening, it must have been particularly bad for the pregnant woman squashed against the window beside our friend Mark and his many packages. She could do nothing but stare out of the window, subjected to our conversation based on six months of catch-up.

Mark was obviously intrigued by my large belly and asked all manner of frank questions about the pregnancy and looming parenthood. How did I feel about becoming a mother? That one hung mid-air for a moment, ‘til I decided to be as equally frank.
“Honestly, right now I’m not looking forward to it. I think I will be a rubbish mum and I can’t get at all excited about it, I just can’t, no matter how hard I try. In fact the more I think about it, the more I dread it.”

My honesty clearly baffled Mark. The pregnant woman to his right continued to stare out the window. I kept looking her way to see if she reacted to my comment, but she didn’t respond. Probably felt like it wasn’t her place to. Either that, or was so saddened by what she had heard, she couldn’t bring herself to.

The three of us nattered away and pulled in to Guildford in no time at all. It was her stop. She got up and edged around us. As she passed me, she said: “If it is any consolation, I feel entirely the same way.”

Well I never. She had no idea just how much of a consolation it was.

3) A room full of oestrogen – or was it just me?
It was on a routine visit to the midwives clinic when I found myself sat with eight other pregnant women in the waiting room. All various stages and sizes. Two of the women each had a child with them. Another didn’t, but reliably informed us that she had two children at home with her mum. She then reliably informed us on a whole host of other things too. After all, she was on her third pregnancy, which meant she was near enough a midwife herself right?

She did not stop talking. But that wasn’t the problem. It was the biggest load of crap that spewed out of her mouth that was. She went on and on. The thing was, none of the other women were responding to her. They all, like me, seemed rather embarrassed.

When eventually she said, ‘You lot on your first pregnancies need to face facts. You ARE going to gain the weight, so you may as well eat the doughnuts,’ I had to say something. ‘Actually, I don’t agree, you’re obviously less likely to gain the weight if you don’t eat the doughnuts, than if you do (you stupid cow).’

Thankfully, at that moment she was called in to see the midwife and as she left the room a few of the other women smiled at me. And just like that, we all joined ranks and started to chat.

I sat listening to how excited they all were at being pregnant and the thought of having a baby. I didn’t feel like that. They had all been shopping and bought several things for their expected poppet. I had not. I had not bought anything. They all sat rubbing their tummies. I thought how I rarely did. 
Like I said, what maternal instinct?

Thursday, 4 October 2012

So to end today's shitty happenings, a smile...

...Esme Grace is dressed up as Cinderella and is wearing a rather annoying necklace which when squeezed repeats and repeats and repeats in the most awful American accent: "I'm Cinderella." Of course she loves it and is now in full pantomime mode. 

I'm fully aware that she is Cinders, but am not prepared for the fact that poor Sofia has entered in to the fray. And she introduces Sofia so matter of factly: "This is my ugly sister."

I'm sure I can still smell it

Like I had tried to mention before, today started after a particularly bad night with my cheeky 1YO who had been playing on and off all 7 hours and at some point in her play had been having so much fun she had pooped. No wonder she didn't sleep properly. Anyway the poop went undetected until it plopped on to the floor at my feet much to my surprise at 6am. Oh goodness. So yes, started shitty. You just don't need that prior to coffee. You just don't need that at any point though I suppose. Kids and poo. I don't think it is possible to have one without the other. Is it?

Poo is all around me

Here we go again, I've had not a lot of sleep thanks to Sofia Faith (1YO) playing most of the night. What on earth is that all about?

Oh shite, said 1YO just climbed up on the 4YO’s seriously slippery chair and has a look of defiance. I ought to do this later…

Down to earth with a bump (8) - IS PREGNANCY DIFFICULT? (I)

Coming back from the doctor having been in for piles and an eye infection, that marvellous holiday to Mauritius seemed an age ago. I was so tired. Of course my commute was taking its toll but the disturbed nights didn’t help.

I awoke yet again with the dawn chorus. I opened my eyes and saw the moses basket that now stood in the corner of the room. It was quiet and still with a little pair of cream booties sat inside. I couldn’t help it but all I could think about was the crying that would emanate from it in what was only six weeks away. Ughhh. So tired and the baby wasn’t even here yet. No wonder that month off work before baby arrives is recommended.

But that month before baby arrives is in fact ‘the last chance for everything’ scenario. Last chance to watch daytime TV for as long as you want. Last chance to go for coffee and read the paper from front to back. Last chance to be on your own for as long as you like. Last chance to get your hair cut (ever).

It dawned on me with the dawn chorus that I was once again having difficulty accepting the fact that a baby was coming.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Down to earth with a bump (7) - AND THEN THE BUMP GREW SOME MORE


Back to reality and my bump continued to grow at an alarming rate through to about the seven-month mark before finally slowing down. It was around this time that I, also began to slow down. Not surprisingly my hop skip and jump subsided and was replaced with a most unsexy waddle. I was far more tired and feeling nauseas again in the mornings. My sleep was always disturbed. My bladder was rubbish and I would pee like a racehorse through the night. Cramp in my legs would often wake me. Heartburn would kill me. And then if all this wasn’t enough, there were the Quentin Tarrentino genre of dreams; horrendously vivid and mostly about the birth.

One odd thing about these dreams; the baby’s sex was never determined. Which leads me on to say, we had absolutely no idea what we were having. A baby. A 50/50 chance. Boy or girl, who could tell?

It was after one of those four weddings I mentioned that we had an unexpected house guest come to stay for a week. Sharon was a long lost cousin of my new sister-in-law who was over for the celebration and to see a bit of Blighty. She had never set foot out of Antipodea.

Here she was, typically Australian, fun and big hearted, no holds- barred asking me to take my wedding ring off. Before I knew what was coming next, she plucked a hair out of my head. Tugging at it to get a good long one.

Hair in hand, she threaded my ring on to it before letting it hover over my bump. And then we waited. And waited. The ring began to rock back and forth like a pendulum. This she told us meant we were having a boy. (Apparently if it swings round in a circular motion you are having a girl).


Tom had always been forward with his language development. So being able to express himself from a very early age it ought not have not come as such a surprise when he voiced his opinion on the sex of our unborn baby.

‘You have a baby in your tummy Auntie Em. When will it come out? I want to see it.’
‘Not for a while yet Tom. It has to grow a little more before it is ready to come out.’
‘Auntie Em, it is a girl.’

And just like that my nephew joined ranks with the many others who told us what they thought it was. It is amusing to say the least. I mean, they have a one out of two chance of being right don’t they? But some people are adamant.

‘Ooh, you are all upfront, it’s a boy.’
My friend was all upfront with both of her pregnancies and she had a girl each time.

‘Ooh, you are carrying high, it’s got to be a girl.’
Rubbish. I believe every woman is built differently and depending on how your womb sits, will depend on the shape you are and how you carry.

Some women talk about knowing what they are having. The intuition they feel is incredibly strong towards the sex. Not me.

Some couples find out. We didn’t want to. We blurted out, ‘We don’t want to know,’ as we fell through the door of the sonographer’s room. I’m glad we agreed on that. Surely not agreeing would be the start of something altogether more difficult than a pregnancy?