21.10

Cider-with-Rosie-Arlo-Louis-3

It feels as though this post has been a long time coming…mainly because my little boy himself took his sweet time to arrive! And it’s a long post in itself, too, since this labour was another long one just like my first! Ready? Time to settle in…

Like every woman who has ever been pregnant, I felt I was on tenterhooks during the final few weeks of those long 9 months. The pregnancy had felt so different to Ottilie’s- instead of getting 38 weeks and finding out that I had a baby who was breech, as I did with her, Arlo (or as I feel I should refer to him, ‘the baby’, given we didn’t then know his sex!) had been engaged since week 35. The Braxton Hicks were strong and constant, and since I’d gone into labour on my due date with Ottilie, I hoped and expected that perhaps this baby would follow suit with a timely, or even early, arrival.

But my due date came and my due date went, sadly unmarked by the arrival of our baby. I’d had a sweep from my midwife that morning which set off a day of regular tightenings, but they frustratingly tailed off to nothing at bedtime. You can imagine what mood that left this grumpy pregnant lady in!

~ ~

Wednesday 10th October, 40+5.

The day I went into labour was such a lovely one. It was bright, crisp, and sunny, and at Ottilie’s request we spent the morning in town together, drinking juice and eating pasta in the cafe and watching buses driving up and down the high street. I was looking forward to seeing our lovely midwife later that day, not least because being with the home birth team meant all my antenatal appointments were at home and accompanied by plenty of tea and biscuits!

I had another sweep done at the appointment, and then spent the afternoon stomping round the fields with the dogs and bouncing endlessly on my birth ball. Surges had begun almost immediately following the sweep, and by the time I’d put Ottilie to bed, eaten dinner (Pasta! I carbed up!!), and then bounced on my birth ball for a couple of hours, they were coming every 5-10 minutes and I knew they were the real deal. We set up the room with tea lights, lavender oil misting from my diffuser, dim lighting and gentle music, and at 10pm Jason began to inflate the birth pool and called my Mum to come round so that someone was here for Ottie if things ramped up fast. I felt like Christmas morning had arrived, knowing that our little baby was finally on its way!

As the evening wore on and I got tired, we decided to go to bed to try and get some rest. I learnt during my first labour how exhausting it is to contract for days on end, and having a feeling that I was in for another lengthy one, we decided to strategise! I’ll admit though that I did have a wobble here, convinced that if I were to lay down and rest the surges would die off all together and I’d have wasted everyone’s time. But though that night whilst I slept the surges slowed to every half hour or so, they were still enough to wake me up and required a little breathing and concentration to get through…

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Thursday 11th October.

We woke the following morning and while I had breakfast with Ottie and my Mum, Jason got the final few bits ready for Ottilie’s sleepover at Grandma’s house. I paced round the kitchen as the surges began to ramp up again in frequency and intensity, and around mid-morning, once we’d waved goodbye to Ottilie knowing she’d be a sister the next time we saw her, they’d kicked up another notch and I was making full use of the ‘up breathing’ technique and visualisations I learnt on my hypnobirth course.

That day we walked, and walked, and walked! I wanted to try and stay active to bring the baby down, and as we walked through the fields that I’d paced so many times trying to bring the labour on, I reminded myself over and over to welcome each surge with open arms. The mantra ‘Every surge brings me closer to meeting my baby’ went over and over in my head, and I truly was glad each time I could feel one approaching! Which was a positive, as at times whilst we walked they were coming every two minutes and lasting a minute each time! I held tight onto Jason whilst breathing strongly through each surge, rocking my hips back and forth to release the tightness and pressure in my lower belly.

But over the course of the day the surges would increase and decrease in intensity and frequency, even easing off to every 10-15 minutes at times which was so incredibly frustrating! I text my midwife, Heather, asking what to do, and her advice was to rest, not think too much about it, and to call her when things had increased to a level where I knew I needed her there. I wasn’t sure I’d know when that moment was…but she was right!

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Friday 12th October.

At around 1am, I knew. I’d been laying on the bed on my side trying to sleep, and the surges had become so strong I was pulling down hard on the bed frame as each one came on. I’d begun to sink into that ‘labour zone’, where time slips past in flashes and you start to retreat inside yourself. Jason phoned Heather, and she was with us just a few surges later.

I remember laying on the bed whilst she monitored a few of my surges, and then said the magic words ‘Do you want to get in the pool?’

The relief from the water was complete and utter bliss. I didn’t realise how heavy my belly felt until the water took the weight of it, and though the surges were getting stronger and stronger at an overwhelming pace by now, it was such a peaceful time during the labour. We had candles burning and classical music playing, I was overjoyed that things were going ‘right’, and between surges we were chatting with Heather and the lovely second midwife about how Jason and I had met and how it was my Grandma who gave us the nudge to be together! It was honestly an wonderful experience, and I was so so happy!

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After a couple of hours the surges began to change and I had started to get a strong downwards pressure, and so Heather suggested checking how dilated I was as my body had started to bear down with each surge already. It came as a shock (and slightly devastating for me at that point!!) then to find out I was only 3cm! It was the first sign that things weren’t going exactly to plan.

In order to get some rest and help my body relax and dilate, I had an injection of Meptid (a home birth-friendly version of Pethedine), which strangely didn’t do anything other than intensify my surges massively! As I was laying down in bed they became relentless, every two minutes apart and each one lasting seemingly forever. The pressure in my pelvis was becoming so strong I found it hard to focus on my breathing, and though I didn’t feel like I could push intentionally yet it felt as though the baby was trying to force its way out already! Jason and Heather sat with me on our bedroom floor, and I tried to keep control of my breathing and focus as each surge came and went.

I remember getting up to use the loo, and as I left the bathroom the biggest surge yet hit and I couldn’t stay standing through it. My whole body was bearing down, and Heather told me my baby was on its way! We went back downstairs and I returned to the pool, and I couldn’t help but make loud mooing sounds with the intensity of each surge.

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I’m not quite sure how long passed, but it felt as though something changed. Up until this point I’d been welcoming each surge, despite how intense they were, but they suddenly became unbearable. In my mind’s eye they went from intensity to pain, from surge to contraction- I felt as though I could barely think straight with how quickly they’d changed. It was as though my body was simultaneously trying both to push and not push at the same time, and an examination showed I was still only 5cm which didn’t match with what my body was doing.

I think in that moment we all knew that something wasn’t right, and so an ambulance was called. Enduring that bumpy journey with contractions coming every two minutes and no pain relief (gas didn’t work for me at all!) was probably the worst part of my entire labour! I was desperate to keep my hips raised in the air to try and take the pressure of the baby’s head out of my pelvis, but was stuck laid down on my side on the stretcher. I had to just close my eyes tight and get through each contraction one at a time.

~ ~ ~

 

When we arrived in hospital, I had an epidural to try and encourage my body to relax. It was only a small dose so I could still feel all the contractions and never lost any control of my legs, but it was enough to knock the edge off the surges and the most blessed relief of my life!!

Not long after, our midwife started trying to listen to the baby’s heartbeat. As she passed the wand low over my pelvis where I knew it’d been picked up through all of the intermittent monitoring we’d had at home, I remember thinking to myself how faint and slow it sounded.

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An emergency buzzer was pressed, and in an instant the room filled with people. The baby’s heart rate had dipped to around 50bpm and wasn’t picking back up, and all of a sudden, less than an hour after I’d been labouring in the comfort and quiet of my home, I was being prepped for a crash Caesarian section under general anaesthetic and Jason was told he wouldn’t be able to be in the room whilst his baby was delivered. I felt totally numb and in shock in that moment, and just had my eyes fixed to the monitor showing the baby’s heartrate praying that it would come back up again.

I’ve never been so relieved in my life as I was when that number started to rise, when I was laying in theatre on the bed. After conducting some tests and an examination that somehow showed, despite all the stress we’d been under I was now fully dilated, the consultant decided that so long as the baby’s heartrate continued to be stable I should try and deliver naturally.

So with no time at all to breathe, I was back in a delivery room and told I was going to be laid flat, would have forceps used to deliver my baby, and since the small initial epidural I’d had had worn off, a big top up was suggested too! In that moment, I felt I took back some control over my birth experience. I politely declined all three of those things, and asked to be given chance to deliver my baby myself. The consultant agreed I could have 10 minutes to push unassisted, but that after that point an instrumental delivery would be needed to get baby out quickly.

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And so with forceps threatened, I’ve never worked so hard in my LIFE!

It took every scrap of strength I had, but within ten minutes of starting to push, my baby was out! And a quick peep showed Jason and I that we had a baby boy! He’d been born with the cord around his neck, and so after being put on my chest very briefly was taken outside to be given a puff of oxygen and a check over by a paediatrician, but almost immediately after being taken from the room we heard his wonderfully loud, strong cry, and my baby boy was back in my arms within just a minute of his arrival.

It was heaven, feeling the warmth of his soft pink skin on mine and seeing his little dark eyes blinking away. He looked so much like his sister, and the relief of having him safe in our arms was overwhelming.

Arlo Louis, 9.9lbs, born at 12.27pm on Friday 12th October <3

~ ~ ~

And so, despite all the challenges we faced, I’m so proud of what I accomplished with the arrival of our beautiful baby boy. I’ll admit though that I’ve shed a fair few tears over how far from a gentle, intimate home birth it turned out to be, over how scary it was seeing things go wrong so quickly, and over what my body went through in having to deliver such a surprisingly big baby in such a pressured environment. But all in all, I came away from the experience feeling empowered by the strength it took to deliver him, and by the knowledge and ability hypnobirthing gave Jason and I to speak up for ourselves and our choices even in a high-stress environment. And spending the vast majority of the labour at home was absolutely amazing, and an experience I would recommend in a heartbeat.

This last week has been complete heaven- falling in love with our baby boy, seeing Ottilie cuddle her baby brother and watching how he turns his head to the sound of her voice, breastfeeding, evenings spent with a warm little bundle snoozing on my chest, and finding our feet as a family of four.

~ ~ ~

Welcome to the world, baby Arlo! We’re so glad you’re here <3

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26.09

Cider-with-Rosie-vegetable-patch-September-2

Oh September. What a month you’ve been! I feel as though I’ve barely set foot in the vegetable patch, other than quick trips down here and there to collect veg for dinner or pick kale for a smoothie on Ottie’s request (I know, so middle class ;).

What with being nine months pregnant and having a baby the size of a watermelon getting in the way of pretty much my every move, the nights drawing in so fast now we’re moving into autumn, plus work and all the last minute preparations that come the month before a baby is due, it’s become so tricky to keep on top of the gardening lately!

In fact, it’s made me feel kind of sad at times seeing the weeds growing as fast as the vegetables in amongst the neat rows I planted back in spring, slug damage galore on some of the brassicas thanks to the nettles providing such a perfect hiding place for them along the bed-edges, and caterpillars eating away unchecked at a few of the kale plants.

But I’m trying to remind myself not to fret too much, that I can only do what I can do, and that even the biggest of weeds can be pulled up come next spring!

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We’re moving into the season of brassicas now, and it’s so satisfying watching them grow. Most of the kales and swedes were netted until just a few weeks ago, but since they seemed to be fast outgrowing their tunnels I braved removing the netting, and for the most part they’ve been fine!

To take us into the colder months, I’m growing a few different types of brassicas- ‘Cavolo Nero’ and ‘Red Devil’ kale, ‘Filderkraut’ and ‘Savoy’ cabbages, and a variety of swede promisingly called ‘Best Of All’! I’ve found kale such a satisfying thing to grow this year- being able to nip outside and pick three or four big, iron-rich dark green leaves to go alongside my meals is amazing, and the taste is a world away from the bags of pre-chopped, dried out curly kale I used to buy from the supermarket! I’m really, really hoping it lasts the winter…

The swedes I maaaay have gone overboard on- if they all grow to full size, we’ll have a good 10 or so to harvest later in the year! And beyond carrot and swede mash, I’m not that sure what I’ll do with them…answers on a postcard please!

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The promise of leeks to come…

I can’t say that our leek harvest will be particularly large, but it will be exciting nonetheless! We’ve maybe got 8-10 leeks that have made the grade- next year I’ll know to sow 10x as many, and also that they like a lot of water during hot weather to keep them from frazzling!

Still, I grew them and they’ll be delicious just for that fact alone I’m sure. I’m thinking of cooking them into some sort of gratin with potatoes and a creamy sauce, which is making my mouth water just thinking about it…

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This time of year is just so colourful isn’t it? What with the trees beginning to change colour and lose their leaves, the bright pink and red and yellow Swiss chard stems, and dark ruby of the beetroot leaves, the garden’s looking just as beautiful as it did back in the height of summer.

I’m excited to see the beetroot I planted as a second crop (after my failed attempt at onions…) do so well! They should be ready to pick around December time, and will accompany many a meal of sausage and mash I’m sure. I’ve grown them in multi-seed clumps again, with up to four beetroot seedlings per position. As they grow I just pick out the largest from each group, leaving the others to grow on longer. It’s worked so well the rest of the year, and has provided more food per row from the soil than traditional spacing!

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The Borlotti bean crop is still coming along, though since I’m leaving them to dry and only after the beans themselves instead of the pods, it feels like the most meagre harvest so far! But they do look so beautiful hanging from their teepee, and the dried beans will make a lovely addition to soup or a stew later this winter I’m sure.

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Perhaps the vegetable I’m most excited about though are my prize butternut squashes! Ironically of the two plants I have growing, it’s the that seemed to be lagging behind for weeks on end that’s suddenly put on a burst of growth and produced three full size fruits. They still have a little way to go before they’re that familiar tan colour and so ready for picking, so I’m just praying the weather doesn’t get too cold and nip them with frost before they fully ripen!

We’ve already had a mini butternut squash from the other plant already, which we cooked into a massaman curry a few nights ago with lots of coconut milk and some homegrown carrots too. It was the most delicious thing, creamy and warming and the squash itself was soft as butter too! I was so proud, ha!

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And that’s the round up for my little vegetable patch this month! I’ve managed to snatch some time in the last few days to pull up weeds, tidy up all the mess that had gathered round the edges of the beds throughout the summer, and just generally do a little maintenance before the weather turns truly cold (and before I pop!).

Our jobs for the coming couple of months are more about maintenance and preparation for next year- we’ve got compost to order ready for mulching all the beds over, two new 1x4metre beds to fill ready for raspberry canes going in later this winter, and four bulbs garlic to plant too! I’ve promised Ottilie she can help with that job, so I’m looking forward to a half hour of gardening soon with my favourite girl <3

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Posted in AUTUMN, COUNTRYSIDE LIFE, EATING SEASONALLY, GARDENING, KITCHEN GARDEN

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21.09

Cider-with-Rosie-birth-bag-6

Ahh, the infamous hospital bag. Subject of approximately seven thousand threads on Mumsnet, countless Youtube videos, and a source of (totally unnecessary, but very much real) anxiety for Mums-to-be from the third trimester onwards!

I actually loved packing my hospital bag ready for having Ottilie, and found it appealed just nicely to the side of me that’s super organised and totally into neat folding and careful planning and buying cute miniature beauty products, thank you very much. And I was so happy to find that when I’d had my baby girl, literally every single item in my bag was used and not a single thing was unnecessary or missing!

This time round I’ve worked from basically the same packing list as last time, but with a few tweaks…based mainly around the fact that I’m hoping not to have to go into hospital at all! I’m planning, preparing for, and hoping to have a calm, tranquil home birth with this baby, and have also been using hypnobirthing as a way of preparing for baby’s arrival.

The principles of hypnobirthing, and of home birthing too, encourage creating a safe, familiar, comfortable space in which to give birth as opposed to the traditional brightly lit, impersonal, medicalised environment of a hospital. Of course, there are countless different reasons why giving birth in hospital is brilliant and I wouldn’t change the experience I had with Ottilie, but am hoping that staying at home and nestling down in the comfort of my living room this time around will make the experience of birth all that much gentler for both me and baby.

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THE ‘DURING BIRTH’ KIT

This selection of bits is packed up into a small cosmetics bag, and is what I plan on using whilst I’m in labour to create a comfortable, cosy environment. The string lights were a Tiger find and look so pretty when lit up, I’ve got a couple of packs of electric tea lights for dotting around the room, and some essential oils (lavender and bergamot for relaxation, and clary sage to encourage or strengthen contractions if needed) to use in my diffuser. Crucially, all these items can be taken with us to use in hospital if needed too!

On the more practical end of the scale, I’ve got packed some earphones (I’m planning on listening to the positive pregnancy affirmations from my hypnobirth course, because I find them so relaxing), Magicool spray (a GODSEND when you’re burning hot in labour!), hair bands (for the obligatory top knot), and lip balm because gas and air makes your lips so dry!

The other things I’m packing for use during labour are:
Hospital notes
A bikini and old sports bra (dependent on what I fancy wearing, and where I deliver)
A water bottle and straw
Lucozade sports drinks
Snacks (Nakd bars, some sweets, and grapes…if we ever manage to make a punnet last longer than a day in this house, that is!)
A TENS machine (I didn’t use one first time round but have heard great things about them!)

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ALL THINGS POST-NATAL…

So, this is where stuff gets SERIOUS. Basically, the main things you’ll need post-natally are all absorbent (and super sexy…). Breast pads (I’ve bought some lovely washable Little Lambs ones this time round, but have a couple of disposable Lansinoh ones in my bag just in case I need them), maternity pads (last time I loved the Boots ones but am trying a brand called Naturacare this time- I’m sceptical of how thick and chunky they are BUT they are biodegradable!), and on the advice of my midwife for wearing immediately after giving birth, Tena pants! See, I told you, all about the sexiness right now.

Cosmetics-wise, I didn’t expect to care about how I looked after having Ottilie but was surprised to find I did! Well, it was more how I * felt * that mattered, and so I’ve packed a small cosmetics bag for this birth just like I did for last time. Some cotton pads and cleansing water (I remember it feeling so good to wash my face last time after having been hot and clammy for about 48 hours solid beforehand!!), moisturiser, some light foundation and mascara, and a bottle of the Roget + Gallet Rose shower gel that my lovely aunt bought me after having Ottilie that made those first few post-natal showers feel extra relaxing and luxurious!

On top of the above, I’ve also got packed:
Two sets of pyjamas, one short and vest top set and one heavier-weight set.
Nursing bra and vest top
Comfy joggers for wearing after giving birth/going home, if we happen to transfer in
A new cosy but lightweight dressing gown
Dark towels…dark for obvious reasons!!
Big pants
Lansinoh nipple cream (the BEST for dealing with any early days feeding soreness!)

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FOR THE NEW ARRIVAL!

And this is the best part! Baby things! I’m keeping my packing fairly minimal, just like last time- just a few basic bits to have on hand for when baby makes his or her arrival! Of course, if all goes well and we do birth at home most of it will just be unpacked straight away and won’t be needed immediately, but it’s good to have it all together and organised just in case we do end up in hospital for whatever reason.

So, in the bag for little one is…

A pack of size 1 Kit + Kin nappies (my favourite biodegradable nappy brand!)
1x pack of Water Wipes
A cellular blanket and large swaddling blanket
2 muslins
1 hat for right after birth
3 sleepsuits and 3 vests (rolled up into little outfit bundles, because they’re much easier to find and grab when needed that way!)
A knitted cardigan and hat.

~ ~ ~

And last but not least, let’s briefly chat about home birth specific stuff! I’m borrowing a birth pool, pump, and tap connectors via a home birth community group that runs in my area, and then have bought a liner and hose via Birth Pool in a Box.

I’ve also got put aside, on advice from my midwife…
-  Plenty of dark towels in varying sizes, for both me and baby after I’ve delivered
- Absorbent bed pads, for protecting soft furnishings from any blood or amniotic fluid (what an image!)
- Large plastic ground sheeting to cover and protect the (CREAM!!) carpet in our living room, where I hope to give birth

I’ve also stocked our freezer full of homemade cake and cookie dough balls, so that we’ve got plenty of sweet treats to enjoy during and afterwards AND to share with our wonderful midwives too!

~ ~ ~

And that, as they say, is that! I’ve had so many questions about home birth via my Instagram already, and though I of course can’t vouch for the experience itself yet, I hope that this post helps anyone trying to pack and prepare for one! And, bar the last few items, it’s exactly the same as I had packed for my planned hospital birth with Ottie too. I’d love to know if it helps you if you’re planning or packing your birth bag right now… or if I’ve forgotten anything vital!

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21.09

Cider-with-Rosie-10-things-2

1. Finally having my birth bag all packed and organised! Ready when you are, baby…

2. Having a husband who came home from town a week and a half ago to tell me he’d booked me a pedicure for last Friday morning. The best gift ever for this Mama whose feet are so tired and sore by the end of each day!

3. Cake. Cake for morning treat, cake for an afternoon treat, cake after dinner. Basically cake eaten at any point during the day is a winner in my book, because sugary carbs are aallllll I want to eat these days…

4. Swimming with Ottie. I’d not been with her in ages, and she’s just as much of a fish as ever! She’s decided she likes using arm bands now, and is swimming by herself when she wears them which is amazing to see!

5. Slow cooked garlic runner beans. The recipe idea was from a River Cottage cookbook, and it’s so delicious!

6. A super chic ensemble comprising a pair of maternity leggings, one of Jason’s T shirts, and an oversized supersoft jumper. Bliss!

7. Taking the dogs for an evening walk, with a bag in hand of course for blackberry-picking on the way! It feels so good to blow the cobwebs away with some crisp evening air, and lovely to see the dogs bombing around so happily too.

8. Big bowls of pasta for dinner, eaten with tons of sautéed kale and Swiss chard from the garden.

9. The start of the new school term bringing with it the reopening of playgroups and toddler classes, plus a quietening down of soft plays as so many children return to school. Win win!

10. Ottie’s frequent exclamations of ‘I love you baby! I want to kiss you baby!’ which make my heart melt into a puddle <3

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Posted in 10 THINGS

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