10 things I never thought I’d be willing to do before having a child

“Stop writing about having a child and get a life” My daughter is pretty much taking up the limited amount of brain I have at the moment so you better get used to reading about her much more from now on! A number of times in the six weeks since giving birth I’ve done things that have really surprised me. Whilst there are lots of unusual/gross things parents have to do, these are things that I’m actually willing to do. I’m no expert but I’m slowly getting used to the fact that when you have a kid, you don’t have the time or the energy to think “is there a less icky/embarrassing way of doing this?” you just do it as quickly and efficiently as humanly possible because otherwise you’re never going to get anything done.

  1. Touching someone else’s bodily fluids. So most parents have no choice over doing this sometimes i.e. getting pee’d/pooped/sicked on. But I have touched poo and wee voluntarily. Let me explain. Me and my husband have been using washable nappies from bambino mio and usually, you put the cloth nappy into a cover, put a very thin compostable insert on top to catch the solids and away you go. However, what no body told us was that in the first week or so, baby poo is way too liquidy for the thin insert to be any kind of use, the poo just goes right through to the nappy and then you have to wash it which yes, if you don’t want it to take hours does involve gritting your teeth and rubbing at it with your hands. What we ended up doing was just not putting in the thin insert for that first week and a bit and then using them when we noticed that the poo became more solid. It’s really not that bad, please don’t let this put you off washable nappies! The difference in our daughters skin using them compared to the few times that we’ve had to use disposables is remarkable and they’re so much better for the environment!
  2. Analysing someone else’s bodily fluids. I’m sure other parents can relate to this. In the first two weeks we constantly looked closely at our daughters poo to make sure nothing strange was going on. If we did see something out of the ordinary, we’d call each other over to get a second opinion and sometimes google the abnormality as well. It wasn’t a rare sight in our house to walk in on a nappy change and find one of us bent low over the nappy, closely analysing its contents. This doesn’t happen a lot anymore but I guarantee we’ll start doing it again once she’s on solids!
  3. Getting private parts of my body out in public. If you didn’t think I was talking about breast feeding, I’m worried for you. The first few times I had to feed publicly, I did the whole putting the blanket over my shoulder thing but that takes so much time and I always accidentally expose myself anyway. Now, I of course do it as discreetly as possible but without the cloth. I’ve since come to terms with 2 facts; 1, it’s not the end of the world if a stranger sees my nipple and 2, most people know what you’r doing as soon as you have a screaming baby and are fiddling around underneath your top and usually have the decency to look away whilst your child is trying to latch on.
  4. Going to see a male doctor for a private parts problem. Before I was pregnant, I used to ask specifically for a female doctor if I had a problem for which they would have to look at a private part of my body. Well the doctors surgery in my village has a sit and wait service in which you turn up and literally sit and wait for your turn to be seen by the one doctor that’s working that day. (It’s since changed to normal timed appointments). To the best of my knowledge, there are only male doctors working at my surgery so I just have to deal with it. I would not waste the limited time I have going through the sit and wait service (which can have you in that waiting room for hours) seeing that there’s a male doctor and leaving to come back another day in the hopes that I’ll bag a female doctor at some point.
  5. Putting off going to the toilet so you can sleep. This one I have experienced multiple times, the last one -at the time of writing- being last night. You need to drink lots of water in order to produce a good supply of milk and keep yourself healthy if you’re breastfeeding so naturally, after breastfeeding, I often need the toilet but sometimes if I’m tired enough I won’t go because in my sleepy night-time mind, I’d rather get that 1 extra minute of sleep than empty my bowels.
  6. Picking someone else’s nose. Babies can’t get rid of things blocking their nose very easily (sometimes they sneeze to clear the air ways but that’s about it) and they only exclusively breathe through their nose as they have no idea this can be done through their mouth. So when I can hear that my baby has difficulty getting air through her tiny tubes or I can see something stuck in there, I will definitely try and help her out!
  7. Sacrificing personal hygiene. I’ve gone days without showering, brushing teeth and changing clothes (see below). And this all in favor of taking care of my child. That sounds like a really great, noble thing to do but it’s really not. If I’m not taken care of sufficiently well, then my ability to take care of my child goes down, so it’s a bit of a double edged sword.
  8. Wearing gross clothes. This goes for both me and my child. before I had her, I thought I’d change her clothes the minute sick gets on them but unless the substance comes out of the other end, I’ll tend to keep the clothes on her for as long as possible because a) she hates getting her clothes changed so it’s a nightmare and b) although we have enough clothes to fill a small shop, we always seem to run out. As for me, I’ve gone the whole day with poop on my jeans and sick all down my top, and multiple days with the same leaked milk-stained bra while I try and find the time to get the other ones in the wash. Milk stains don’t sound too bad but it smells AWFUL. I’ve learned the hard way that old milk is old milk no matter what animal it comes from!
  9. Preparing to leave the house an hour earlier than we have to. Now, although it sounds crazy, I encourage other parents to adopt the same technique- we haven’t been late to anything since she was born so far! For example: “so, we need to be there by 10, we’d usually leave at about 9:15, so we’ll plan on leaving at 8:15” this then accounts for last minute breastfeeding, struggles with the car seat, poo explosions, ect.
  10. Wasting electricity. This one mainly refers to the use of a hairdryer to calm our child down. My husband LOVES having the hairdryer on-not to dry his hair but to just have the warm air pointed at him- but it’s a waste so before we had our child, he had it onfor a little while for a treat on the weekend. It’s the simple things. But it seems that our child has the same love of hairdryers for the “white noise” type of sound it creates. We use it waaayyy more now and couldn’t care less about the electricity bill!
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10 things I never thought I’d be willing be willing to do before having a child

“Stop writing about having a child and get a life” My daughter is pretty much taking up the limited amount of brain I have at the moment so you better get used to reading about her much more from now on! A number of times in the six weeks since giving birth I’ve done things that have really surprised me. Whilst there are lots of unusual/gross things parents have to do, these are things that I’m actually willing to do. I’m no expert but I’m slowly getting used to the fact that when you have a kid, you don’t have the time or the energy to think “is there a less icky/embarrassing way of doing this?” you just do it as quickly and efficiently as humanly possible because otherwise you’re never going to get anything done.

  1. Touching someone else’s bodily fluids. So most parents have no choice over doing this sometimes i.e. getting pee’d/pooped/sicked on. But I have touched poo and wee voluntarily. Let me explain. Me and my husband have been using washable nappies from bambino mio and usually, you put the cloth nappy into a cover, put a very thin compostable insert on top to catch the solids and away you go. However, what no body told us was that in the first week or so, baby poo is way too liquidy for the thin insert to be any kind of use, the poo just goes right through to the nappy and then you have to wash it which yes, if you don’t want it to take hours does involve gritting your teeth and rubbing at it with your hands. What we ended up doing was just not putting in the thin insert for that first week and a bit and then using them when we noticed that the poo became more solid. It’s really not that bad, please don’t let this put you off washable nappies! The difference in our daughters skin using them compared to the few times that we’ve had to use disposables is remarkable and they’re so much better for the environment!
  2. Analysing someone else’s bodily fluids. I’m sure other parents can relate to this. In the first two weeks we constantly looked closely at our daughters poo to make sure nothing strange was going on. If we did see something out of the ordinary, we’d call each other over to get a second opinion and sometimes google the abnormality as well. It wasn’t a rare sight in our house to walk in on a nappy change and find one of us bent low over the nappy, closely analysing its contents. This doesn’t happen a lot anymore but I guarantee we’ll start doing it again once she’s on solids!
  3. Getting private parts of my body out in public. If you didn’t think I was talking about breast feeding, I’m worried for you. The first few times I had to feed publicly, I did the whole putting the blanket over my shoulder thing but that takes so much time and I always accidentally expose myself anyway. Now, I of course do it as discreetly as possible but without the cloth. I’ve since come to terms with 2 facts; 1, it’s not the end of the world if a stranger sees my nipple and 2, most people know what you’r doing as soon as you have a screaming baby and are fiddling around underneath your top and usually have the decency to look away whilst your child is trying to latch on.
  4. Going to see a male doctor for a private parts problem. Before I was pregnant, I used to ask specifically for a female doctor if I had a problem for which they would have to look at a private part of my body. Well the doctors surgery in my village has a sit and wait service in which you turn up and literally sit and wait for your turn to be seen by the one doctor that’s working that day. (It’s since changed to normal timed appointments). To the best of my knowledge, there are only male doctors working at my surgery so I just have to deal with it. I would not waste the limited time I have going through the sit and wait service (which can have you in that waiting room for hours) seeing that there’s a male doctor and leaving to come back another day in the hopes that I’ll bag a female doctor at some point.
  5. Putting off going to the toilet so you can sleep. This one I have experienced multiple times, the last one -at the time of writing- being last night. You need to drink lots of water in order to produce a good supply of milk and keep yourself healthy if you’re breastfeeding so naturally, after breastfeeding, I often need the toilet but sometimes if I’m tired enough I won’t go because in my sleepy night-time mind, I’d rather get that 1 extra minute of sleep than empty my bowels.
  6. Picking someone else’s nose. Babies can’t get rid of things blocking their nose very easily (sometimes they sneeze to clear the air ways but that’s about it) and they only exclusively breathe through their nose as they have no idea this can be done through their mouth. So when I can hear that my baby has difficulty getting air through her tiny tubes or I can see something stuck in there, I will definitely try and help her out!
  7. Sacrificing personal hygiene. I’ve gone days without showering, brushing teeth and changing clothes (see below). And this all in favor of taking care of my child. That sounds like a really great, noble thing to do but it’s really not. If I’m not taken care of sufficiently well, then my ability to take care of my child goes down, so it’s a bit of a double edged sword.
  8. Wearing gross clothes. This goes for both me and my child. before I had her, I thought I’d change her clothes the minute sick gets on them but unless the substance comes out of the other end, I’ll tend to keep the clothes on her for as long as possible because a) she hates getting her clothes changed so it’s a nightmare and b) although we have enough clothes to fill a small shop, we always seem to run out. As for me, I’ve gone the whole day with poop on my jeans and sick all down my top, and multiple days with the same leaked milk-stained bra while I try and find the time to get the other ones in the wash. Milk stains don’t sound too bad but it smells AWFUL. I’ve learned the hard way that old milk is old milk no matter what animal it comes from!
  9. Preparing to leave the house an hour earlier than we have to. Now, although it sounds crazy, I encourage other parents to adopt the same technique- we haven’t been late to anything since she was born so far! For example: “so, we need to be there by 10, we’d usually leave at about 9:15, so we’ll plan on leaving at 8:15” this then accounts for last minute breastfeeding, struggles with the car seat, poo explosions, ect.
  10. Wasting electricity. This one mainly refers to the use of a hairdryer to calm our child down. My husband LOVES having the hairdryer on-not to dry his hair but to just have the warm air pointed at him- but it’s a waste so before we had our child, he had it onfor a little while for a treat on the weekend. It’s the simple things. But it seems that our child has the same love of hairdryers for the “white noise” type of sound it creates. We use it waaayyy more now and couldn’t care less about the electricity bill!

Postnatal recovery- what is it really like?

So I’ve written about the birth of my daughter, Matilda (you can read it here) . But what happens afterwards? Obviously, what happened to me isn’t exactly what’s going to happen to all of us who’ve given birth as every birth and body is different but for me, it helped to know what I might be in for. And just to say, postnatal recovery is mainly about vaginas,  butts and boobs so if you don’t want to hear about mine, stop reading now! I will try to keep the gory details to a minimum, though!

So for context and comparison; I’m a healthy (relatively, haha) 23 year old who doesn’t do any regular exercise apart from a short walk every day and I had stitches and quite significant blood loss from the birth.

I had to stay in Hospital for a night and a day after the birth so the doctors and midwives could keep a catheter in and monitor my immediate recovery. Catheters are the bane of my existence for the sheer fact that it was annoying!  But we’ll get to that later. My husband Roman stayed with me until 9 and left so he could get as much sleep as possible to support me well the next day- he’d have to try and sleep in a chair otherwise. This was a very good decision! We also had my parents over to visit in the evening which was lovely. I had been up all of the night before, in labour, so I was exhausted but I just couldn’t sleep. No matter how tired I am, I can’t seem to fall asleep unless these things apply: it’s dark and it’s quiet. I was in a hospital, alarms going off all the time, people talking in the corridors, lights all over the place and having visits every 4 hours to give me medication. On top of this, I had a baby to look after!

Needless to say, it wasn’t a pretty night for either me or Matilda. I tried to change her nappy on two occasions but after those two, I just gave up and called the midwife to do it. To explain why, I have to illustrate the joy of having a catheter in after giving birth. Many of you reading will know that a catheter is a tiny tube connected to your urethra to help you go to the toilet. I had to have one as I had little to no feeling in that area of my body from the stitches. Many of you will also know that after birth, you will have what is essentially quite a heavy period for up to 6 weeks. So, to change Matilda’s nappy, I had to get out of bed (a task in itself after birth) grab everything I needed, catheter included and hobble over. This sounds easy but remember, there was a tube coming out of my underwear, creating a sort of fireman’s pole for the blood to travel out of my underwear and down onto my legs. The first or second time I stood up to change Matilda, I felt a steady stream going down my legs, my underwear was soaked and there was blood on the bed. I called the midwife to get my bed changed and in my sleep deprived post-birth brain, I had no clue what to do with myself so I just stood there. The midwife came and all I could think to say was “help!” and she told me not to worry about getting blood on the floor, just change my underwear there and clean myself up with baby wipes whilst she attended to Matilda. I was also so tired that I was afraid that I would fall over if I got up again and that, of course, wouldn’t help anybody.

I am breastfeeding as well and for the first two of three days after birth, I found it incredibly painful. I did have breastfeeding support but they said that Matilda’s latch was perfect so I didn’t think to try anything different. My only saving grace was that I was in no pain from the stitches, it was just quite uncomfortable. So after a tiring, painful and messy night, I was so glad to have a well rested Roman back! A lot of the doctors who came told me to get some sleep but telling me to get some sleep under bright lights and having another doctor or midwife come visit me within half an hour of the last one takes the biscuit.

I was desperate to go home but had to complete a number of checks, among them was the dignified task of urinating three separate times into a cardboard bowl and showing it to someone. I was nervous as I’d heard peeing after birth could sting, especially if you’d torn. But I was determined to do it without pouring water down there at the same time so the midwife could get a good look at my pee and I’d be able to go home sooner rather than later. I gritted my teeth and tensed up before doing it but miraculously, there was no pain! I walked (or hobbled) back and proudly pressed the button to call the midwife so she could look at it, feeling very much like a cat who’d brought in something dead from the garden.

We were let home in the evening and I had to sit with my legs on the chair in the back of the car so’s to upset my privates as little as possible. On the way out of the hospital, my husband was going at half of his usual speed and I still had to ask him to slow down. I was SO happy to be home! Roman made me a bacon and brie open sandwich (I’d missed Brie a LOT when pregnant.) I had forgotten to take my most recent bought of pain meds so got quite uncomfortable and after I took them, I went into a deep, deep sleep for about 3 hours whilst Matilda also slept. Then Roman had to wake me to feed her! He said he had to rouse me three times over to get me to properly wake up.

So the first day in the hospital, I’m not going to lie, it was terrible. I hate hospitals. But in terms of my health, I was doing surprisingly well! The first day at home, Sunday, was absolute bliss, just going through the motions of taking care of a child and really enjoying not being pregnant anymore. I had a shower which felt AMAZING! My pee’s were still painless and generally, I was feeling great apart from the breast feeding. My breasts were hurt quite badly at this point from painful feeds so I was putting on nipple cream after every feed but I didn’t mind, I was just glad that I was able to feed Matilda. A midwife came around and all seemed fine until she asked the dreaded question: “have you had a bowel movement?”. No, I hadn’t. Someone was to call me in the morning to make sure I’d had one and if I hadn’t, I was to go and see a doctor. I was so scared that the doctor would have to put something in me -be it his or her fingers or anything else- to do an examination, that I upped my dose of laxative slightly and vowed to have a bowel movement before anyone called.

Chaps. The first poop after childbirth is no joke. After pushing out a baby, the last thing you want to do is push something else out of a much less stretchy hole. At least for childbirth you’re dilated! But I’d read on forums that it’s never as bad as you think it is so I sat myself down, held a wad of toilet paper to the front of my privates, did “down breathing” from my hypnobirthing book (it’s supposed to be used to push a baby out but it’s more than appropriate for a difficult poop) and every time I felt any discomfort I’d remind myself to push through it in my head whilst saying “It’s not as bad as you think it is” out loud. Around 20 minutes later, I came out victorious. My husband congratulated me and I felt like a hero! And yes, I can confirm that it feels fine, it didn’t hurt at all. Since then, I’ve been able to gradually reduce my dose of laxative and now I’m not taking it at all.

In terms of breastfeeding, one night the pain was getting so bad that I had begun to dread feeding Matilda. So that night I did tons of research. I found out that because it painful all the way through the feed and my nipple was coming out shaped sort of like a new lipstick that somehow the latch was bad even though I’d been told otherwise. I looked at different holds and saw the “football hold” and decided to try it. It was the first of many painless feeds and now, although everyone who sees me feed her says it looks weird, I can feed her without grimacing so I couldn’t care less what it looks like.

And last but not least, the dreaded *area*. Well, as I said, it hasn’t actually been that bad! The first few days I had to dab at it instead of wiping after going to the toilet, couldn’t walk faster than an overgrown snail and had to sit down very gingerly. There was a little swelling and I thought it looked a bit weird but the midwife had a look and said that it’s all normal and would go back to how it was soon. After 10 days, I can now sit down without grimacing, I can wipe like a normal person and I can walk as apposed to shuffling around like an extra on the set of a zombie apocalypse film. The bleeding isn’t bad but then again, I have a very heavy period when I’m not pregnant so it may seem horrendous to you! (Seriously, on my period, the strongest tampon usually lasts about 2-3 hours. When on a normal- heavy period it should last at least 6).

All in all, I feel on top of the world! I’ve been more productive, motivated and generally happier than I was even before I was pregnant. It hasn’t all be sunshine and daffodils and I am quite nervous for when my husband goes back to work but for now, post natal recovery has treated me very well and I hope it is/will be/has been the same for you!

 

Labour and delivery story- positive vaginal hypnobirth

Before I begin, I will say that although I had a vaginal birth with virtually no pain relief and no help, all births are amazing. I am going to talk about how empowering it was but I think all births can be empowering. Elective C section? I salute you. Vaginal with epidural? You’re amazing. So please don’t think I’m being all “vaginal is the only way to feel good about your birth” because I’m really not. Also, the hypnobirthing I did was from reading “The Hypnobirthing Book” by Katherine Graves and doing the exercises in there. I’m not calling contractions “surges” as I didn’t find this particularly helpful. Right! Get your raspberry leaf tea ready, this is going to be a long one!

On Thursday at 1pm, the day before giving birth, we had an appointment to talk about induction options as I was so-called “over-due” (full term +9 days). I wanted to wait as long as possible but by this point, I’d become very upset everyday that I had gone over and no amount of positive affirmations seemed to hep me through. When we talked about options like inductions and C sections, the doctor gave us loads of information to mull over but we were still a bit unsure. The doctor was lovely and was really patient with us. She could see that neither option appealed to us and offered me a sweep and examination, explaining that it would get us even more information about where my body was at and potentially being able to break my waters instead of having a proper induction. I accepted. This is the first test of hypnobirthing. It’s the chance to say “no” if you don’t want intervention but also to make informed decisions and ask questions if you do want intervention. I accepted because I wanted to know how far along I was. She did the examination and sweep, and to my utter relief she said that my body had progressed well, I was 1cm dilated and my cervix was soft. Because of this, induction would probably not be necessary and if I didn’t go into labour over the weekend, I could just get my waters broken. This sounded great to me as I was really struggling with after-due-date-pregnancy and it sounded a lot nicer than either waiting an age or getting induced. We booked breaking the waters for the following Tuesday and the doctor also said that if I was uncomfortable with it at all, I could still decline the waters breaking, which I already knew from practicing hypnobirthing but was reassuring to hear all the same.

Right after the examination, my whole body started to shake uncontrollably and we went home at 3pm. I was pretty sure I was having contractions but because I felt discomfort in my bump every day for about 3 weeks prior to this, I was unsure and was happy for my husband Roman to go to work. I started timing the contractions and was feeling them mainly in my back, it was very easy to deal with and I played “Animal crossing new leaf” to keep me calm and happy.

For the next two hours, I was absolutely beside myself with happiness, I can’t quite explain the joy it brought me to know that I had finally gone into labour! Even righting this, I’m almost being brought to happy tears remembering how giddy I was! I was laughing at everything and even smiling through contractions. Roman came home at 6 and finished off his work ready for paternity leave. I was able to keep busy, preparing an order of photos from Aldi and looking at funny things on Buzzfeed. I called the birth center to let them know that I had gone into labour and they told me to call back when the contractions were 4 minutes apart and I had to breathe through them.

At 9, we put on one of our favourite films “Howl’s moving castle” and I started to find the contractions quite hard. I became a little negative and worried at this as they weren’t regular. I was thinking that I wasn’t quite cut out for hypnobirthing as I thought contractions were supposed to be tough only when they were regular. Roman reassured me that I was doing well and we went up bed to try and get some rest. He read some hypnobirthing relaxation scripts which really calmed me down. We said a special prayer (we’re members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day saints) to reassure me that things were going well, I went to the loo and got into bed.

For the next hour and twenty minutes, I tried my best to get to sleep but I couldn’t. I was coping pretty well though, doing my up breathing and just hoping that Roman could get some sleep at least so he could be the best support possible when I really needed him. I found it good to say to myself “Let’s just get to 11pm.” and then “let’s just get to 11:30” and so on. It worked really well as time was going by really fast and each time, I was surprised and proud of myself that I’d gotten to the next time without waking Roman!

At 1am I gave up on sleep. Unfortunately, it was just bad timing! This is what I would describe as the “dark stage” which I’ve stolen from another hypnobirthing story I’ve watched. I like this description because I had to wake Roman as I was finding things quite difficult and our environment was of course, dark. On top of that, I then called the birth centre again as contractions were on average 4 minutes apart. “Surely, things have progressed nicely” I thought. I was worried that they would say I wasn’t ready yet and it was perhaps this worry that gave me one of the shortest contractions I’d had whilst on the phone to them- just lasting 30 seconds. They said I hadn’t progressed enough and was advised to take paracetamol, get in a bath and call back when the contractions were all  the same length for about an hour. This really upset me but Roman was a great support and started running the bath at 2am.

I found the bath really uncomfortable as it didn’t cover my bump and lying down wasn’t very nice. The paracetamol also didn’t seem to do much. We tried watching “A Knight’s Tale” (a comedy) but this didn’t work either. This was were I really thought I wasn’t made for hypnobirthing as they always say that baths and laughter are the best pain relief and I felt I wasn’t doing well with contractions- I would use the word “pain” for them at this point. I don’t know why I thought this, hypnobirthing is meant to be about giving you a positive experience, whatever happens to you during birth. You don’t *have to* be a certain way, everything is your choice. But I’m a very literal person and took it that I had to like all the things it suggested. I tried going on all fours as that is hypnobirthing recommended but that didn’t work either and I was getting very negative. Roman kept encouraging me, telling me I was doing great and that I looked really calm. This was really reassuring! He was also saying “one more step to getting Jellybean” with each contraction -Jellybean is what we called our baby as we didn’t know her gender yet. This was great and I began to breath through contractions whilst also breathing out positive affirmations such as “it’s good”, “one more step” and “you’ve done loads of these now, you can get through another one”. This calmed me down quite a bit.

I had a second bought of “bloody show” at 4 am and my body was shaking uncontrollably. I vomited which felt good until I started another contraction, haha! Roman got me some apple room spray to smell on a cloth which was lovely. Then, I had bright blood and I realized that I hadn’t felt Jellybean move in a while. The contractions were consistent, lasting a minute and ten seconds so we called the birth centre and told them about the blood. Nothing at this point could’ve stopped those contractions! I had to breath through them without talking and sometimes making “moo” sounds as I’d heard that from a different hypnobirthing course- the positive birthing company with Siobhan.

I held my stomach, looked at Roman and said whilst crying “Jellybean”. I had always been worried about having a still birth and the bright blood and lack of movement  wasn’t helping with these negative thoughts. I was scared. Roman knew what I meant,  bent down, took my shoulders in his hands, looked me right in the eye and said “Elisabeth, Jellybean is going to be fine”. I didn’t know at the time but Roman had the strangest feeling that what he was telling me was completely true and it was perhaps the confidence in his eyes that calmed me right down. I was also reduced down to basically a child by this point- labour does strange things to you! So I think I would’ve believed anything and done anything he asked from this moment on!

The birth centre team told me to come in right away and I was SO relieved! Roman got together the things in the car whilst I got dressed, I was nervous about the car ride because the sitting position is apparently one of the worst for labour and we were a good half an hour from the hospital but as soon as I got into the car, I felt… relief! Bliss! Somehow, my body and my baby loved that position above everything else. I would now consider my contractions as “uncomfortable”, not “painful” and I felt Jellybean move. Now it all made sense as to why I wasn’t dealing too well with contractions before- I’d never even considered this position! We got into the hospital and couldn’t go into the birth centre because of my bleed but I didn’t actually notice, I thought we were in the birth centre as the room was quite spacious and I thought this was only a feature in birth centre rooms! I had to sit on the bed which was sort of folded up on a “chair” setting  because they had to monitor Jellybean with a strap round my stomach. I knew that having a proper bleed in labour is no laughing matter so I was happy about hearing her heartbeat. I also miraculously found the bed in this position really comfortable!

I will say here that after the birth, Roman told me we weren’t actually in the centre and for some reason that really upset me as in the hypnobirthing book, Katherine Graves is really quite negative about anything other than birth centres or home births so again, I thought I’d failed at having a “hypnobirth”. I now have no idea why I thought this. I was happy in that room- happier than I’d been at home, even. A “hypnobirth” can be any birth, not just in a birth centre or at home, I’d taken Katherine Grave’s advice more as an order.

Anyway, we were at the hospital around 5:30 am. The midwife offered an examination which I declined- I didn’t particularly enjoy the sweep examination the day before and wasn’t ready to re-live that experience, especially in labour! The midwife was a little grumpy at this and I said in desperation- remembering from hypnobirthing that I had the right to decline no matter how grumpy the midwife was- “I don’t want any hands up there!”. And she grumbled something about wanting to know what pain relief I wanted, I said “birth pool” and she explained that because of needing to monitor me from the bleed, I couldn’t go in the water. I wasn’t that bothered about pain relief to be honest though and just wanted to be left alone so I took the gas and air more to keep her happy than me!

I will say here that it was right at the end of this midwife’s shift, they have 12 hour shifts which are incredibly taxing with not much time for rest or food. That’s not fun. So to have a woman come in and wail at you about not putting your hand up her when you’re tired and hungry… I honestly don’t blame her at all!

Here, it would’ve really helped me, I think, to look at some of the funny tumblr posts that I’d printed out but both me and Roman had completely forgotten about them! I breathed gas and air through a contraction and it didn’t do anything at all apart from making me feel dizzy and even more delirious. I was still finding the contractions surprisingly deal with-able and found that holding onto the handle of the gas and air and squeezing it was more effective than actually breathing it in! Roman asked if I wanted to hold the ears of a “Totoro” toy we’d brought because it was softer and thought it might be more comfortable but I was happier with the hard plastic. Then our midwife passed us onto another one so she could end her shift. This midwife oggled at me not using the gas and air through contractions and asked what course we’d been on, Roman told her and she said she’d actually been trained by Katherine Graves! Her name is Claire and she was absolutely brilliant! I felt the urge to push at 8am and Claire, without examining me, told me to follow any urge I felt. I didn’t need telling- I couldn’t have stopped the urge if I’d tried! My stomach clenched all on it’s own, but much like vomiting or doing a big poo, I kind of had to “let” my body push, I had to release it. But I couldn’t have stopped it. It’s indescribable. I did this release by doing down breathing from the Hypnobirthing book which helped immensely.

It was around here that was my husband’s favourite part of the labour. For a while I had been staring at two plugs that had their wires crossed with the way they were placed in the socket which had annoyed me for aaaages! I told Claire and although she found it very funny, she was obviously very experienced with crazy labouring women and asked me if I’d like them switched round. Call me OCD-y but her switching them round gave me more relief than breathing in the gas and air ever did!

I can’t remember what time, but somewhere between 8 and 10am I became very tired and frustrated. The pushing wasn’t really doing anything and Claire asked if I’d like an examination to see how far I’d progressed, I accepted and I was at 9cm, almost 10! This motivated me a LOT and Claire really encouraged me to push as much as I could. I did, but only with the pushes that came automatically. I had to have an in and out catheter at this point because I’d consumed a lot of water and pushing a baby out on a full bladder is never a good idea. Also, my body had literally forgotten how to pee! I had no idea that could happen!

At about 9:30 Claire told me I should push harder and for longer as me and Jellybean were both getting a bit too tired from being in the pushing faze for so long- most women only push for about 20 minutes to half an hour, I’d been at it for an hour. I had previously not wanted coached pushing as I’d heard that this was often the cause of tearing but at this point, I didn’t care, I wanted Jellybean out and my body wasn’t telling me to do it for long enough. I really needed that coached pushing and it felt good to do something a little stronger than what my body was telling me to do! I tried a squatting position on a birthing stool but neither me or Jellybean were liking it, her heart rate went down, and I got back onto the bed. These were more things that mine and my babies body were doing that was completely the opposite of most hypnobirthing experiences.

At 10, doctors came in to talk about giving me some “help” (episiotomy or ventouse) as I’d been pushing for a very long time now- 2 hours and both me and Jellybean were getting extremely tired by this point. My husband told me afterwards that Claire had told the doctors to be calm and positive before they talked to me. Episiotomy seemed to be better but I’d put in my birth notes that episiotomy’s really scared me and the look of panic in my eyes must’ve reminded Claire of this as she said “I know it scares you, but with the way you’ve been pushing now, baby will be out before you need to have one” and I knew that I could decline an episiotomy at any time, so I was more or less happy to have the anesthetic injection just in case I did need to have one.

The potential episiotomy gave me the strength to push harder and longer than I’d ever done before. Claire and all the doctors were quite literally cheering me on! They said “almost there now! We can see the head, baby’s got tons of hair!” I was over the moon and started singing “almost there” from princess and the frog. I could touch her head with my fingers but didn’t quite know that it was the head and with the next few pushes, she was out! I felt quite a bit of pain at the point of her coming and was saying “ow ow ow” but Claire telling me to push through the pain made it (almost) go away as I felt her arrive into the world.

I had done it. I felt incredible, tired and delirious all at once! Claire asked who wanted to announce the gender and we’d originally wanted Roman to announce it but he wasn’t at the right angle and asked Claire to do it instead as he was just too excited to go and look. It felt right, Claire had been so amazing this whole way through. She also cut the cord. “it’s a girl!” A girl?! I had for sure thought it was a boy! I said her name, Matilda, and had- in my opinion- a well earned skin to skin cuddle.

I had to have an examination to determine if I had tears and I genuinely thought I hadn’t torn at all. I don’t want to scare anyone but I’m not going to lie, that examination was harder than the actual birth. I used gas and air through it but again, it didn’t particularly help, it was more of a distraction than anything else. But as I said, it didn’t bother me- I had my daughter. I was also happy for them to do the examination so they could do a properly good job with the stitches so I could have a good recovery and knowing that that was why this was happening got me through it. They brought me into theater to get stitched up, I was more concerned about the spinal block than the tears but all the doctors were so supportive after I told them I was scared. I remember a Scottish Lady, Suzy I think, who held my hand through the spinal block and when it was done, I felt really calm and relaxed. People touching me under that anesthetic felt really funny and I was actually able to laugh through the experience! Suzy(?) sat next to me the whole time and I was encouraged to sleep but I just couldn’t with all the people around me so we talked and shared funny stories. They were honestly some of the loveliest people and I’m so grateful to every one of them.

So there we are. I was wheeled back to Roman who had just had a glorious 2 hours of skin to skin bonding with Matilda and I believe that really helped their bonding- she is so content with Roman even when she’s hungry.

To conclude, the thing I’ve found with hypnobirthing is, don’t be too literal. Always be open to changes. I thought I *had* to be all-natural, birth centre, positive all throughout the birth, no coached pushing ect. and that if I wasn’t, I’d somehow failed. My birth on a whole was extremely positive and empowering but I did have wobbles, I found parts of it painful and sad and because of that, I thought I’d failed. But now that I’ve had time to think and mull things over, it was a great birth! Just because I had some wobbles doesn’t mean I’m bad at hypnobirthing. Just because I would describe bits of it using “painful” instead of “uncomfortable” doesn’t mean I don’t have a positive story to tell. And if you’re an overdue Mum struggling, please feel my deep sympathy for you! As Matilda’s Grandad has said to us “it’s your baby exercising their independent thinking” 😀

Here are some of my favourite hypnobirthing stories:

We need to take the fear out of birth

Just a disclaimer: I haven’t given birth… But I’m going to soon and so I just thought I’d share my experience comparing how I felt towards labour in childhood/teenage years to how I feel about it now.

When I was in Primary school I was told by someone, I have no idea who, that birth was the worst pain anyone could ever feel. This was meant to be “education”. I came home and cried to my Mum about how I never ever wanted to get pregnant because I was so scared about birth, especially tearing. I told her that I would just have to adopt instead. Ever since then although my thoughts about getting pregnant were different, I was still absolutely terrified of giving birth. My childhood and teenage years were filled with horror stories about birth and how excruciating it is. Not from my Mum mind you, she tried to make me feel better about it but didn’t succeed. I hadn’t heard of one good experience of birth and heard that the only good bit was “you get to hold your baby afterwards”.

Can I ask one thing: Mothers, why would you do this to other people if you’ve had a bad experience? I get why you would want other people to feel “prepared” and such but there’s a difference in sharing your experience and making people scared. One of my friends put it into a good analogy: if you had a bad experience getting, say, a filling in your tooth and then someone you know told you they were getting one, you wouldn’t say to them “oh, it’s the worst, you’re going to hate it!” would you? I would hope that you would keep quiet or say “ah, you’ll be fine”. Because scaring someone about an experience they can’t back out of is just plain mean! Besides, it doesn’t mean your friend is going to have a bad experience. I’ve had four fillings and a replacement, all of them where different experiences.

Here’s the similarity: not all births are bad. I genuinely didn’t know this FACT until about 9 months ago when I started researching about birth because I got pregnant and was like “welp, this is gonna suck better prepare for what a terrible time I’m gonna have”. How sad is that? I thought that no matter what, birth HAD to be painful and terrifying and that was that. Until I started watching a Mum on YouTube called Louise Pentland. She was pregnant with her second child and was scared because she’d had an awful first birth experience. It was so bad that she came away from it with PTSD. So her plan was to go into a private hospital, get a c-section and get pampered and have a lovely time. Until she found out about Hypnobirthing.

She thought “wow, that sounds weird and hippy-ish” but had such a bad time previously she thought that there was no harm in looking into it. Hypnobirthing isn’t like that. It’s actually very logical. I personally think they should change the name because it puts a lot of people off. Hypnobirthing is the teaching that birth and pregnancy is not an illness that needs to be cured, it’s a natural process your body goes through. Hypnobirthing  gives a mother the chance to have a natural, calm and empowering birth experience. Louise took some classes and at the end of her pregnancy had a wonderful water birth  with no pain relief- not even gas and air. This absolutely blew my mind! Who knew that birth could be described as a good experience?

So I too, looked into hypnobirthing. I watched video after video on YouTube of positive, hypnobirthing labors and was amazed that most women described birth to be one of the best experiences of their lives. Don’t get me wrong, they don’t hide the fact that labour can be difficult and hard, that’s why it’s called labour. And some women who do hypnobirthing do feel some pain during labor. But certainly not in the way that I’d heard of in my childhood and teenage years.

Let me explain to you how it works. Pain is what happens when your body registers that something is wrong and it needs to put a stop to it. Like if you were to put you hand on something hot, your brain is like “well, this is damaging to my skin, I better put a stop to this” and sends all sorts of signals to tell the body to stop doing what it’s doing. Tell me the logic then, behind birth being painful? The body needs to give birth, birth is what it’s been preparing for for 9 months. Why then would the brain suddenly think it’s appropriate to tell the body that the experience needs to stop?

But some people DO feel lots and lots of pain in birth, I hear you cry! Shhhhh, I’m getting to that. So yes, some people have a terrible birth experience. But most of the time, that’s because they’re terrified and think it’s going to be bad. It’s the fear response. When you feel fear, your brain first freezes and then gives you two choices: fight, or flight. You can’t run from birth, it’s going to happen. So the other option: fight. Your brain tries to fight off this experience and becomes tense. Whereas if you’re calm and relaxed, your brain thinks “ah yes, this is that birth thing that I have to do now” and your body gives in to the motions and you’re much more likely to have a positive experience. It’s easiest to illustrate this with an injection. The nurse always tells you to relax because it’s proven to be much less painful that way. It’s the same with birth.

This is all put very simply, there’s way better explanations elsewhere. But what I’m trying to say is, why would we teach people that birth is inevitably bad when that’s simply not true? Why would we scare people when their experience could be very different to yours? Why do we all feel so negatively towards a process that your body was literally made for? It’s like pooping. We don’t have a really hard time pooping and come out of it thinking that all poops are bad, do we? We think “well, that was strange” because we know that pooping is a natural experience that’s meant to happen easily and efficiently. Why isn’t it the same for birth? Even when I tell this to people, they sneer and don’t believe me. They think they know that birth just HAS to be bad. Well, my views have changed. Go and change yours.

10 things you can easily do to help the environment

Recently, me and my husband have started a kind of “let’s save the planet” craze. I thought it was going to be super hard and expensive but the changes we’ve made are actually quite easy and although costly in the beginning, most save tons of money in the long run. The whole idea is to both buy less things and throw away less things. Here’s 10 things we’ve thought of that can make a difference to our planet and also our pocket! I don’t want to ‘preach’ to you though, if you can’t make any changes, this is a judgement- free zone. (I have not been sponsored by any of the brands mentioned but if they’d like to, I would be very happy, hehe!)

  1. Re-usable nappies (diapers) – I could bang on about the benefits of re-usable nappies until the cows come home and I’ve not even given birth yet! The best way is to start with them from the beginning and be determined to always use them- that way you get used to them and not disposables. But never fear, you can start any time! We’ve gone for “bambino mio”. I thought the idea of cloth nappies was to literally use just one piece of cloth and safety pin it on -old-school style- which I thought sounded hard and gross! But that’s not what the deal is any more. As you can see from the pictures, they go on the same as disposables and you wash the cloth that goes inside making for an easy and clean solution. An added bonus is the cute patterns they come in! Now for the numbers: disposables take 300 years to de-compose and rank as number 3 in occupying landfills which are already overflowing. The average baby uses a minimum of 1,500 nappies a year. Now think of how many people with babies or children you know. That’s a LOT of nappies! 3
  2. Composting – I used to find composting disgusting because of the smell and the potential need to touch food waste. But we’ve now bought a little bin from Blackwall called the “Bokashi bin”. When you use this one, it doesn’t smell at all and it comes with a little tool to push down the waste so you don’t have to touch anything gross, you then put special powder on top of your waste which helps decompose it quicker. It also has a little tap at the bottom for when you’ve filled it- you turn the tap and out comes liquid from the things in your bin, you can put this down all of your drains and down the toilet to help prevent algae build-up and control odours! (just make sure to put your liquid in a re-used bottle, hehe.) It’s an investment really worth making.10
  3. Re-usable bags – This one should be very obvious by now. There is really no excuse for using flimsy plastic throw-away bags when you shop apart from “I forgot to bring my re-usable bag”. Over 44% of sea birds have choked on or gotten tangled up in plastic bags. What’s more, Research conducted in Sydney Harbour in 2014 found plastic nanoparticles in the flesh of fish that are among the species caught for human consumption, meaning that these plastics are beginning to work their way up the food chain and onto your plate. That was 5 years ago, imagine how much worse it’s gotten. 6.jpg
  4. Re-usable water bottles and straws – The bottles pictured here are plastic. Apologies, we bought them when we were noobs. But even these are better than the disposable bottles. The whole point is buying less things and throwing away less things so if you want a hard Plastic water bottle over a metal one, I’m not judging, I’m just happy you’re making a difference. And the straws. I don’t need to show you the horrible video of someone pulling a plastic straw out of a turtles nose, I think everyone has gotten the gist by now, but you may not know what the alternative is. I hate paper straws but there are glass or metal straws that you can wash with a small brush (which usually comes with the straws you buy) and re-use again and again, they’re not dirty or inconvenient, they’re great! And now we don’t ever have to buy straws again!

     

  5. Re-use packaging, gift bags and paper – Recently, I had a baby shower and I got loads of gift bags, I cut off the labels and have stored them away to re-use. I also got some tissue paper in these bags, I threw away the ripped up sheets and folded up the nice sheets ready to re-use. Now I don’t have to panic when someone has a birthday, they’ve not been added to landfill (yet) and I’ve saved TONS of money! Also, do you make lists? Or need paper to write on ever? Cut up cereal boxes, keep letters and cut up birthday cards ready to be re-used for writing on. The best part? You can then re-cycle them when you’re finished. When you get a delivery in a box, you can keep that too for when you need a box for a parcel. Re-use sealed bags that some clothing items come in. The possibilities are truly endless.
  6. Bar hand soap instead of pump-action hand soap – Most bar soaps now come in paper packaging that you can re-cycle instead of the plastic bottle that pump-action soaps come in. It’s a very easy change, a no-brainer.
  7. Hang up wet clothes instead of using a dryer – It takes more effort and sometimes I do just use the dryer but this is another easy change that also saves you tons of money. 2
  8. Wash clothes on 30 degrees when possible – Again, an easy, money-saving change. The only things you can’t do this with are stained clothes and clothes that specifically require a higher temperature but that’s quite rare. It doesn’t mean your clothes will be less clean, it just means you’re being nicer to the planet.
  9. Use less fuel when driving – Most cars now have a system where you can look at how much fuel you’re consuming and can give you tips on how to consume less. If you don’t have one of these, the main thing I’ve noticed is using the highest gear possible, within reason. For example, in our car going at 30 miles an hour when we’re driving on a flat or downward sloping road, we can use 4th gear. I don’t know much about cars so saving fuel may be different for your car but please consider looking at your cars fuel consumption information. It saves fuel and therefore the planet and your pocket!
  10. Buy what you can at farm shops – This has so many good implications but the one bad thing is that it does cost a tiny bit more. We have found though that by using farm shops and local butchers, we eat less meat because of the added expense, so it’s better for you! One good thing is that hardly any farm shops use plastic packaging, you take the produce and put it in a recyclable paper bag. Another is that you can get the exact amount of produce you need, therefore reducing the amount of food you waste. You’ll support you’re local businesses. You’re supporting home-grown produce, instead of produce that’s been shipped and driven by fuel-chomping boats and trucks. If you eat meat, you’ll be supporting the use of happy animals who have lead relatively normal lives. The good things about shopping from farmers or other small local businesses are never ending so if you can afford it, please give it a try! And if you don’t think you can afford it, maybe go and have a look and see how much of an added expense it really is- we were pleasantly surprised.

If you want to make any of these changes, just make sure you use up all of the things you have now before you buy any products mentioned. The popular saying is in this order for a reason, reduce, re-use, re-cycle: Reduce first, then re-use where possible, then recycle where possible. If you found any of these interesting or useful, I’d be happy to do another one of these types of posts, we’ve done loads of other things! And I’d be happy to answer any questions as well 🙂

 

 

Rewind

So, I just watched YouTube rewind for 2018 and I have a lot to say. First of all, if you don’t know, YouTube rewind is a video the site makes every year to commemorate the biggest events on the site for that year. Usually it predominantly features the biggest content creators, new up and coming content creators, memes and popular music. I genuinely look forward to rewind every year, it’s a chance to look back at the best moments and have some nostalgia. Apparently, they don’t want that for us any more!

Let’s look at one of the most skewed things about this years rewind, the confusing choice of people involved and people not involved. Pewdiepie, the sites biggest content creator, currently with a whopping 74 million subs and counting, who has held that title for 5 years did not feature. It’s a massive slap in the face. What kind of a thank you is it to not include someone who’s bringing so many viewers in? Granted, he had a poor year last year with a lot controversial, messy content (in my opinion). But that was last year. He has had an incredible time in 2018, his content has really shined and he’s getting more and more popular every day thanks to easily the biggest sub count battles in YouTube history: Pewdiepie vs. T-series. You would think that the most influential person on the site would at least make an appearance but no. We got his chair, animated by Jaidenanimations (bless her soul) but not so much as a second of his actual face. It’s like doing an appreciation video for authors and not involving J.K.Rowling.

Shane Dawson wasn’t there, another confusing choice since he made perhaps the biggest YouTube series the site has ever gotten, a look into the mind of another YouTuber Jake Paul. Yes, the series got a lot backlash. Yes, it was quite controversial. But on the whole, it was mind blowing, interesting, entertaining and the amount of time and effort that went into it was incredible. It literally changed YouTube and it’s content forever. It was easily one of the craziest things that happened on the site this year and it didn’t even get featured. I know that he doesn’t usually like to be featured in things like this but at least a nod to it would have been nice.

However, who can forget everyone’s favourite YouTube star, Will Smith? Yes, that’s right! You all know and love Will and his difficult rise to fame on the site… no? He’s not even a youtuber? He was already a celebrity? He’s probably never edited a video in his life? Oh. *cough* Well, at least there’s Ninja, who could forget him, huh? What’s that you say? He’s literally famous for making it big on a streaming site called twitch? Which also happens to be one of YouTube’s biggest competitors? Playing a game that also got famous on twitch? Hmmmm…

I watch a lot of YouTube. I can’t seem to go a day without it. I’ve accepted that in most rewinds, I don’t know a lot of people featured, it’s a BIG site. But I felt like I hardly knew anything in this years rewind. To find out, I actually watched the previous rewinds and marked down how many things I recognised. ….And, to be fair, in all three rewinds, I marked 32 things. So, I obviously recognised the same amount of things, the problem was, the things in this years rewind didn’t make as much impact on me as the previous years. Whilst watching the other videos, I’d mark down things and think “aaah, yeah, that was great” and remember being involved in the thing in some way as a viewer. Compared to watching this years and thinking “Yes, I recognise it.” That was it. I recognised things but hardly ever did I know the name of what I was marking, and hardly ever did I know why it was in there.

Basically, what I’m trying to say is, being relevant is more important to me than anything else. It seems that whoever made rewind this year, didn’t even watch the most popular YouTube content. They didn’t actually pay attention to what the people want even though that was the whole premise of the video (which they totally took from Dan and Phil’s tour and didn’t even feature them for it).  The other rewinds made me happy and nostalgic (for the most part) this years rewind just made me angry. There’s always going to be things that you personally want in rewind and you always have to go in there not expecting much but this took the biscuit.

Then, *sigh* there’s the bit where some youtubers are around a campfire talking about all the things they think were worth a shout-out. Like Asian representation, working Mums, women, Mental health ect. YouTube is very obviously just trying to pander to the audience here and, just like all the other times, it doesn’t work. It just upsets people, or at least me. I don’t like it when companies try to shove things down my throat. I’m speaking as a woman with mental health issues, two of the things spoken about here. I’m not saying it’s not important to talk about these things but I’m saying a YouTube rewind video is not the place to do it. It’s just so obvious that they’re only including things like this because they know that the site will gain favor with more mainstream media and as a person who finds two of the things mentioned here relevant to them, I honestly find it insulting. I’d rather they spent their time and money actually doing things towards these issues elsewhere on the site. It was so over the top, random and unnecessary.

For me, rewind should be the site’s way of saying “thank you” to the creators, topics and viewers that gave the most to the site. After all, YouTube would literally be nothing without it’s creators or content. And it’s because rewind itself is an advertisement. This was what YouTube thought you SHOULD want to see, according to advertisers who are going to be financially supporting the site. Which makes little sense since advertisers wouldn’t be funding the site if it didn’t have any content so to have such little nod to the actual content is very strange. You only have to look at the like to dislike ratio on the video (currently 877K likes, to 1.8M dislikes) to see that they didn’t “give the people what they want” at all and marketing it as such is just insulting.