Mamatography Week 12: The One That's (Almost) All About Squidgy

There’s a lot of newborn newness in this post, so you know… hold on to your uterus and all that!

75/366 – Beauty and the Baby 

I may not be very artistic, but tell me I don’t make beautiful babies?


76/366 – Pretty Princess

What to say. I think she’s gorgeous. Pixie-like, fine and beautiful.

77/366 – Volunteering

Image one is Squidgy’s first day of volunteering for the NCT – not bad at four days old! Meanwhile Ameli inspects the sale items… before dragging it out to us and saying ‘Daddy, I want this one!’ Not that we were looking to buy toys, but she spent so much time inspecting and choosing we couldn’t refuse!

78/366 – Mothering Sunday

It’s Mother’s Day in the UK. It’s my 3rd Mother’s day and it’s the first I’ve actually spent with my own mother in many, many years. We had the inlaws come over too, so we had a lovely day with three mothers and our four children and two of our spouses to share it with. What a lovely memory.

79/366 – My Girls

At the park, I’m sitting with Squidgy, breathing in her newness. Ameli floors me with her beautiful eyes. I just love them. The last picture is not exactly tandem feeding. It’s Ameli nursing, and the baby a bit miserable, so I lay her down on Ameli, who put her arm around her sister and cuddled with her. I adore my eldest daughter. I adore her even more for being such an awesome big sister.

80/366 – Fun Times

I’m not sure who had more fun at Fizzy Kids – Ameli or Nana… She loves having someone around to just focus on her. It makes me a little sad, but there you have it… I hope I can go back to doing this with her in a few weeks time.

81/366 – Footprints and Fingers

I did this with Ameli, when she was just a few weeks old, and we’ve done the same now with the Squidgelicious One. She, unlike her sister, didn’t flinch or make a sound. Ameli will say she wants to play in mud, then cry because she has mud on her. She hates being dirty. She did even as a newborn. Squidgy has no such qualms. She just sleeps.

Thanks for joining us for our week in pictures! Do stop by the other participants for a flavour of what the week looks like for mamas around the world!

 Please consider nominating us for best pregnancy blog, best baby blog, or best ‘family life’ blog in the MADS awards. You have to nominate someone as blogger of the year first – feel free to nominate us there too!

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Birth Control Options Overview

As you know, we’ve just had our second baby, and while pregnancy and childbirth have been possibly the two most incredible experiences in a pretty full and eventful life, Hyperemesis Gravidarum has dictated that I won’t be having any more babies. It’s just too strenuous on my body and my family.  Which means for the first time in four years I’m having to think of birth control again.

I was on the contraceptive pill until 2003 and had problems with complete lack of appetite for a number of years. I moved to the UK and went on a local tri-phasal contraceptive pill and gained three dress sizes in three months. As a result I have definite fears of going back onto a hormonal pill.

I’ve asked a few of my friends to share their experiences with birth control with us over the next few weeks, and today Jorje from Mama Jorje starts us off with an overview of the different types of birth control she’s used or researched.

Thanks Jorje!

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I am not a medical professional. This post is based on my own research and experience.

Condoms

A large pile of condoms

Condoms are probably the most common form of barrier birth control. They’re available in different materials, sizes, and textures! I have never met a man that would prefer this form of birth control if they had any option at all. I only dated one man that didn’t seem to mind using condoms and I married him.

Conceptrol is a vaginal contraceptive gel. It is a spermicide you insert before sex. For even greater pregnancy prevention, you can use this gel in conjunction with condoms. I’m certain most men would prefer this gel to condoms (no numbness), but some men are allergic to Nonoxynol-9 (the spermicide).

I’m going to tell you from personal experience, you have to insert the gel before sex. Inserting it after sex is lazy and not nearly as effective. Yes, I’m speaking from experience here!

Hormonal Pills

This is, for me, what comes to mind when you hear “birth control.” I think of it as the most common form of birth control, although it doesn’t protect against any STDs. I was on hormonal birth control for a few years. There are an awful lot of side effects that can happen. You might gain weight, have headaches, acne, and mood swings. There are several versions on the market. The difference is in the specific hormones used and the amounts / balance of those hormones. There are pills on the market now that can limit your menses (period) to 4 times per year or less!

My general opinion after being on birth control pills, especially as a bit of a hippie, is that it is not nice to mess with Mother Nature. I understand some medical problems may need to be treated with hormones, but otherwise… I don’t think we should mess with hormones.

Pulling Out

This would technically be called coitus interruptus. There is some debate over whether pre-ejaculate contains sperm and can result in pregnancy, but no studies have shown this to be the case. There have not been many studies, though. The usual problem is not pulling out in time.

Depo-Provera® (The Injection)

In my early 20s, Depo-Provera was new on the market. My best friend and I decided to give it a “shot,” so to speak. This product is from Pfizer and is an injection. One shot provides hormonal birth control for 3 months. We both experienced the same results: absolute disinterest in sex. Neither of us wanted our husbands to touch us at all. So… it worked great as a contraceptive! No sex = no baby. Shoot, by that logic, it even protects against STDs! I sincerely doubt Depo-Provera gave all women the same issue. Since it is hormonal, I suspect you might experience the same side effects listed under hormonal pills above.

I never went back for any further shots, but my friend did. She thought maybe it was just an initial problem, but she continued to experience disinterest in sex for an additional three months after her second shot.

Years later I participated in a medical study for women with sexual dysfunction. There was some suspicion that some of my problem (not achieving orgasm) may have been a result of having used this product.

Essure®

After having Sasha 2 years ago, we decided we were done having children. I researched Essure as a fairly new permanent birth control on the market. Here is the (very) basic rundown: The doctor goes in through your cervix and places 2 small pieces of metal that look very much like the springs out of ink pens into the openings of your fallopian tubes. Over a month or so, your fallopian tube grows to the metal, closing off the tubes with scar tissue. Then the doctor goes back in, using fluid and x-ray, to make sure your tubes are successfully completely closed.

This procedure is considered even less invasive than vasectomy. It seems a little invasive to me, but considering that they don’t have to cut you at all, I can see how it would be considered non-invasive.

I went for the preliminary appointment and had one problem with the process. They wanted to give me several drugs before the procedure. Normally I wouldn’t have a problem with the drugs they wanted to give me, but I was breastfeeding. The office assured me that the drugs were fine for nursing mothers, but I’m very selective and restrictive about drugs, especially when pregnant or nursing.

After deciding against Essure (until later, at least), I opted for an IUD.

Mirena®

Paragard® IUD

This is my ParaGard® IUD after removing it myself at home.

There are two IUDs on the market. The first and most commonly used IUD is the Mirena, which is hormonal. An IUD is a small plastic “T” that sits in your cervix and provides time release hormones for 5 years. You can have it removed at any time and get pregnant just as quickly as you could if you were on any other hormonal birth control. Considering the hormone angle, I knew this was not the product for me.

During my research, I found a lot of women felt a lot of negative emotions while this IUD was in place. Some women were so desperate to be rid of it that they remove the IUD themselves at home.

ParaGard®

The second IUD available is also a small plastic “T” that sits in your cervix. This one, however, is wrapped in copper and hormone-free. Because there are no hormones, you can start trying to conceive the same day it is removed. It can also last up to 10 years!

We later decided we wanted to try to conceive one more child, preferably a boy. After some online research (see Mirena above), we agreed I would attempt to remove this IUD myself at home. I’m sure any doctor would strongly advise against this! It took me about 5 seconds!

Lactation

The idea with this form of birth control is that it is nature’s way of spacing babies. While lactating, you are presumably not menstruating. This is not, however, fool proof. Your ovulation cycle can return before your first menses. It is absolutely possible to conceive while breastfeeding.

Natural Family Planning

I’ve practiced this one, but used it more in an effort to convince my ex-husband to try to conceive a son. The basis here is to monitor your cycle and your body to determine when, exactly, you ovulate. You can conceive several days before through several days after ovulation. I charted my menses and mucous on my cervix. You can find several programs, books and charts out there to help you track your data. Natural Family Planning is not just a form of preventing pregnancy, but also a system to use when trying to conceive. Controlling birth doesn’t necessarily mean preventing it, right?

Vasectomy

This is a commonly known permanent form of birth control. Generally, the man is given some Valium to calm his nerves prior to the procedure. He is then given a topical numbing shot in the testicles. The doctor then makes a very small incision (or two) through which he finds the vas deferens (the tube that transports sperm). He then snips and removes a small section of the tube.

I was amazed when my husband volunteered to have this procedure, since he had previously been against it. There are lots of horror stories out there, but the procedure is really not that bad! Men just have a tendency to “talk it up.” He had to refrain from sex for about 5 days while he healed. You will also be advised to use a secondary form of birth control for 2-3 months until all sperm are cleared from your system. At that time, you’ll take a semen sample to a lab to be tested for sperm content. If you still have a normal amount of sperm, you may have to repeat the procedure.

Vasectomies are considered permanent, but they are reversible.

Tubal Ligation

Tubal Ligation seems to be very common among women who are having a cesarean section. It is very convenient to have your “tubes tied” while the doctor already had you cut open. This form of permanent birth control is much more invasive than a vasectomy because they have to cut further into a woman. The doctor makes two incisions, then severs the fallopian tubes.

NuvaRing and Wedding Rings

NuvaRing® (+wedding bands)

Tubal ligation is considered permanent, but it is reversible.

There are a few more hormonal and non-hormonal birth control methods available on the market. You can find out more through your personal doctor or Planned Parenthood.

Regardless of which form of birth control you choose, I sincerely recommend you research possible side effects. Even if you don’t think there are side effects with your chosen form, research it. There may be issues that hadn’t occurred to you.

 

 

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Check back again over the next few weeks as other contributors share their experiences with some of these methods of contraception.

Birth Story Of Aviya – 13 March 2012

Our Squidgy girl’s birth story is a little bit of a lot of things. It’s still quite raw in my head, and this will probably all come out a bit rambly, but… it is what it is. It was imperfect, and yet perfect too. It was perfectly different. Perhaps that’s the first lesson I’ve had to learn in parenting two children. Perfectly different.  For a short birth, this is a long story. Here it is:

Squidgy, who is as yet unnamed, was born at 17:23 in water in our living room at home on 13 March 2012. She weighed 4.2kg, or 9lb 6oz, with a head circumference of 37.5 cm and length of 56cm. So,  yes. A rather big baby. By scan dates she was 42 weeks and 5 days gestation. By my dates she was 40 weeks and 5 days. Her placenta was fine and she was still covered in vernix and not at all wrinkled or looking like an overdue baby.

Her birth story started a few weeks before, but her labour day started at 3:45 on Tuesday morning when I woke up with contractions that were strong enough that I was moaning in my sleep and realised that I was disturbing Ameli, who was in bed next to me. I went downstairs and tried to write a letter to Squidgy, but I had said everything there was for me to say in the weeks of waiting, so instead I sat on the birth ball, did figure of eight’s and popped the TENS machine on to help me through pretty strong, but well separated contractions. I lay down on the sofa to sleep, and the contractions stopped for a while, waking me every half hour or so, till Ameli came downstairs.

I kept the TENS machine going, but started getting Ameli ready for nursery – I figured contractions were far enough apart that she’d  not miss anything by going to nursery.  She went, and I did my work for the day, and sent a few emails and finalised a few things. I didn’t expect things to progress too quickly, and figured there was still time, so I didn’t do too much preparation.

Ameli got home and her and daddy went for a lie down, during which time my contractions were powerful, but still about 11 minutes apart. I just relaxed on the sofa or the birth ball, and did a lot of dancing in the lounge during contractions, swishing my hips and doing figure of eights and focusing on my breathing.

Martin had partially inflated the birthpool in the morning, and I was starting to feel it was going to become necessary sooner rather than later. I finished inflating it, and cleared the lounge, preparing it for the midwives.

I let my midwives, both of who were off duty for the day, know that I was in labour, and then let the on call midwife, Deanna, who I had never met before know that I was in labour, but that there was no rush.  I had had a session of acupressure the evening before with a newish friend, Rhiannon, and had discovered that she was actually training to be a Doula and that she needed a few more clients before qualifying, so I’d said I’d let her know when I was in labour, and if she wanted to come over, she’d be welcome to. So, I let her know and she replied saying ‘Can I say that I’m secretly hoping to make it to support you!? I have felt so drawn to you the last week, it’s such a strong emotion to feel compelled to support a birthing woman!” Her reply excited me, and flooded me with energy and I looked forward to having her there. Also because I didn’t know who was going to be attending, midwife wise, I was happy to have someone impartial that I could trust – someone who wasn’t emotionally invested in the birth of a child or grandchild.

When Ameli woke up at 15:30, we went into the kitchen and started baking the cake in a jar that I had prepared a few weeks before. While we were in the kitchen, I became increasingly insistent that my husband needed to start filling the pool, which he began to do. And it’s about here that things started unravelling. Martin tried to attach the water fitting for filling the pool. When we’d tested it all, we’d had a different kitchen tap, but it has recently been refitted and suddenly our fitting didn’t fit the tap! He started fixing it to make it fit, and needed another pair of hands, so I called my mother downstairs to help him while I finished making the cake.  My contractions had suddenly gone from every 11 or so minutes to every 2 to 3 minutes, and I started feeling like I was bearing down. I phoned Deanna and told her I think we’re progressing fast. I let Rhiannon know, and at 15:33 she said she was on her way.

Just after 16:00 I tweeted that we’d made a cake and it was in the oven. I was in the lounge. My mother was drying her hair upstairs and Martin was still working on the pool. I was contracting and couldn’t sit on the birth ball anymore for the pressure. I leaned over the back of the sofa, but became concerned that my waters might break over the sofa. I moved onto the floor, because I was pretty certain that I was now bearing down, but I wasn’t sure. Somehow I felt uncertain, because no one else was concerned. Everyone else seemed to be busy with other things, and I had Ameli with me saying  “Are you breathing mama? Are you breathing?”

It was around this time that I became aware of Rhiannon arriving, and she immediately managed Ameli by asking her if she could go upstairs and get her favourite book, I think! I had another contraction before I could even recover from the previous one, and I told Rhiannon that I needed them to fill the bath because they weren’t going to get the pool filled in time.  At this point the midwife arrived and there was such a rush of activity, I started feeling quite panicked. I stood up, contracted, leaning in to Rhiannon, and changed into what I would be wearing in the pool.

I climbed in the pool and Rhiannon gave me something homeopathic so that I wouldn’t be sick from the gas and air Deanna had set up. Amazingly, I wasn’t. I didn’t have any reaction to it at all, in fact. Not even the wooziness I experienced with Ameli.

Ameli got in the pool with me and was very excited by everything going on. We were still filling the pool, I was having definite pushing moves, my husband was somewhere, sorting out the video camera, (which I noticed at one point near the end, and realised you couldn’t actually see anything. I’d intended to have it with a room view, rather than just on me, but had obviously never communicated this to anyone else! I meant to say something, but had a contraction and forgot about it) and my mom was somewhere in the room with one or two midwives – somewhere during all this, Tanya, my midwife who was on a day off, had arrived.

Ameli started wanting to do all sorts in the pool and I felt the need to go inwards and have space, so asked for her to be removed. She was not happy, and my mother grabbed her and took her upstairs to redress her. She screamed fiercely, which unsettled me, but they were back soon enough, and my mom started doing the activity pack with her. This pack was an absolute winner in my view-from-the-pool. There was enough to keep her busy, but she was able to be a part of what was going on. She was able to stick her head over the pool and see what was going on, but not having to be an active part of it. She didn’t watch Squidgy being born, but saw her raised out the water.  I was very happy with her ‘involvement’ in her sister’s birth.

Martin finally came and stood by me. He’d finally gotten the water up to the right level, and was able to be with me. I rested my head on his hand and told him I’d missed him. He’d been my rock in Ameli’s birth, and this time we just weren’t ready and I’d been doing it without him. He helped me breathe properly again and was available to me and meeting my needs in birth. I am very lucky to have him as a birth, and life, partner.

At this point, however, I was feeling frantic. Everything had moved so fast – the last hour had seen three people arrive, a pool filled, Ameli in the pool and back out again and somewhere the beeping of the oven to say the cake was ready too! – I lay in the pool pushing, thinking ‘No, no, no! I’m not ready! I need to focus. This hurts. Why does it hurt! It didn’t hurt last time!

I couldn’t understand where the pain was coming from. I know that sounds odd to most people, but there was no pain in the transition at Ameli’s birth. I was so calm, I was so focussed, it was so different. I said I needed everyone to be quiet because I couldn’t focus and the room did quiet down, albeit temporarily. I asked Martin to change the MP3 player from the hypnobirthing CD which I was just not able to focus on, to music. The effect was immediate. I was able to focus in on the music, sing along to the song and focus all my attention inwards. I felt immediately calmer, and my pain level actually halved. It was amazing relief being able to just internalise, and visualise. At one stage Rhiannon and my mother were singing along with me and I remember having my eyes closed and thinking they sounded like angels.

I also remember feeling my waters break very near the end – in fact I think Squidgy may have crowned just after. It was an odd feeling, like a ‘POP’ but I couldn’t say anything to anyone, I wanted to wave my arms and point, but I couldn’t move my arms, instead my legs jerked up and down. My eyes were closed, but I imagine I looked like chicken thighs jerking about. When I finally could speak again, I told them my waters had gone.

Everyone worries about pooing during birth, and at one point, I know I must have because I remember someone saying ‘where’s the sieve’ and I actually giggled to myself – although quite possibly only I heard it – because I saw the words from an article I read by Ina May Gaskin floating in front of my eyes “Where there’s maternal poop, there’s usually a little head that follows”.  I was excited about the baby head and choose not to think of the poop.

It wasn’t much later when Rhiannon said that they could see the baby’s head. I was surprised. I knew I was in transition, I knew it was happening, but again, it was so fast. It was as if I stopped fighting and started going with what was happening. I felt myself stop fighting it. It had been about an hour since everyone had arrived, but once I’d been able to focus in on what was happening inside myself, it took minutes – maybe 15 and Squidgy birthed herself the way her sister had. All at once.

When I felt her head, I said I want to pick her up myself, I didn’t want anyone else to touch my baby first.  Once she was born I remember someone telling me to pick her up, that I had to pick her up now, and I remember not moving, but thinking ‘no, not yet’. I think I mumbled something about ‘Where’s the cord’. Ameli had the cord wrapped around her neck twice, and we cut it straight away as we couldn’t get it unwrapped. I didn’t want the same to happen again.

That wasn’t a problem this time, however, and I picked my baby up out the water and put her on my chest. I asked for her towel to be given to me, and my mom handed it over to me. I wrapped her in it in the pool and we waited for the cord to stop pulsing.

She nursed pretty much immediately, I had some Angelica Root to help the placenta release and sat in the pool looking at my little…. Well, I had to look twice, because I had been so sure she was going to be a boy, but instead we had another little girl! I was so surprised – but we are both really happy to have another girl.

The placenta came shortly after the baby, and again, I was surprised by it. I ‘birthed’ this placenta, rather than it popping out. It was a strange feeling.

Martin cut the cord when it had stopped pulsing, and Rhiannon whisked the placenta off to the kitchen, ready for processing (I have had it encapsulated.) Ameli came to look at her sister properly, and her first words on the matter were “Can it walk?”

We all had a good chuckle.

From there it’s all a bit of a blur. The baby was weighed and weighed again, because we thought there was something wrong with the scale. She was so much heavier than we thought. I had a quick check, and then had a shower. Rhiannon made me a smoothie, and Deanna wrote her notes. My mom looked after both my children – BOTH MY CHILDREN!! – while I was finishing up (actually I have no idea what happened while I was showering, now I think about it) but when I came downstairs, my mom had the baby and Ameli was playing with her puzzles.

Deanna left, Martin made me some pasta, I shared the news with the world, and then went upstairs to bed. My mom called my dad and showed him the baby, by which time I’d fallen asleep. Someone, I think Martin, brought her back in to me, and so we slept, through the night, as newborns tend to do.

I woke in the morning, staring at this little piece of magic lying next to me, awed that we’re here again, that we’ve done this again, and blessed beyond measure. Not only the mother of two amazing beings, each so individual, but also a woman, an owner of my birthing experiences, floored once again by the magnitude and raw power of birth, proud beyond measure to be a member of the female gender and fiercely protective over the power that comes with it.

 

Birth Story of Squidgy – 13 March 2012

Our Squidgy girl’s birth story is a little bit of a lot of things. It’s still quite raw in my head, and this will probably all come out a bit rambly, but… it is what it is. It was imperfect, and yet perfect too. It was perfectly different. Perhaps that’s the first lesson I’ve had to learn in parenting two children. Perfectly different.  For a short birth, this is a long story. Here it is:

Squidgy, who is as yet unnamed, was born at 17:23 in water in our living room at home on 13 March 2012. She weighed 4.2kg, or 9lb 6oz, with a head circumference of 37.5 cm and length of 56cm. So,  yes. A rather big baby. By scan dates she was 42 weeks and 5 days gestation. By my dates she was 40 weeks and 5 days. Her placenta was fine and she was still covered in vernix and not at all wrinkled or looking like an overdue baby.

Her birth story started a few weeks before, but her labour day started at 3:45 on Tuesday morning when I woke up with contractions that were strong enough that I was moaning in my sleep and realised that I was disturbing Ameli, who was in bed next to me. I went downstairs and tried to write a letter to Squidgy, but I had said everything there was for me to say in the weeks of waiting, so instead I sat on the birth ball, did figure of eight’s and popped the TENS machine on to help me through pretty strong, but well separated contractions. I lay down on the sofa to sleep, and the contractions stopped for a while, waking me every half hour or so, till Ameli came downstairs.

I kept the TENS machine going, but started getting Ameli ready for nursery – I figured contractions were far enough apart that she’d  not miss anything by going to nursery.  She went, and I did my work for the day, and sent a few emails and finalised a few things. I didn’t expect things to progress too quickly, and figured there was still time, so I didn’t do too much preparation.

Ameli got home and her and daddy went for a lie down, during which time my contractions were powerful, but still about 11 minutes apart. I just relaxed on the sofa or the birth ball, and did a lot of dancing in the lounge during contractions, swishing my hips and doing figure of eights and focusing on my breathing.

Martin had partially inflated the birthpool in the morning, and I was starting to feel it was going to become necessary sooner rather than later. I finished inflating it, and cleared the lounge, preparing it for the midwives.

I let my midwives, both of who were off duty for the day, know that I was in labour, and then let the on call midwife, Deanna, who I had never met before know that I was in labour, but that there was no rush.  I had had a session of acupressure the evening before with a newish friend, Rhiannon, and had discovered that she was actually training to be a Doula and that she needed a few more clients before qualifying, so I’d said I’d let her know when I was in labour, and if she wanted to come over, she’d be welcome to. So, I let her know and she replied saying ‘Can I say that I’m secretly hoping to make it to support you!? I have felt so drawn to you the last week, it’s such a strong emotion to feel compelled to support a birthing woman!” Her reply excited me, and flooded me with energy and I looked forward to having her there. Also because I didn’t know who was going to be attending, midwife wise, I was happy to have someone impartial that I could trust – someone who wasn’t emotionally invested in the birth of a child or grandchild.

When Ameli woke up at 15:30, we went into the kitchen and started baking the cake in a jar that I had prepared a few weeks before. While we were in the kitchen, I became increasingly insistent that my husband needed to start filling the pool, which he began to do. And it’s about here that things started unravelling. Martin tried to attach the water fitting for filling the pool. When we’d tested it all, we’d had a different kitchen tap, but it has recently been refitted and suddenly our fitting didn’t fit the tap! He started fixing it to make it fit, and needed another pair of hands, so I called my mother downstairs to help him while I finished making the cake.  My contractions had suddenly gone from every 11 or so minutes to every 2 to 3 minutes, and I started feeling like I was bearing down. I phoned Deanna and told her I think we’re progressing fast. I let Rhiannon know, and at 15:33 she said she was on her way.

Just after 16:00 I tweeted that we’d made a cake and it was in the oven. I was in the lounge. My mother was drying her hair upstairs and Martin was still working on the pool. I was contracting and couldn’t sit on the birth ball anymore for the pressure. I leaned over the back of the sofa, but became concerned that my waters might break over the sofa. I moved onto the floor, because I was pretty certain that I was now bearing down, but I wasn’t sure. Somehow I felt uncertain, because no one else was concerned. Everyone else seemed to be busy with other things, and I had Ameli with me saying  “Are you breathing mama? Are you breathing?”

It was around this time that I became aware of Rhiannon arriving, and she immediately managed Ameli by asking her if she could go upstairs and get her favourite book, I think! I had another contraction before I could even recover from the previous one, and I told Rhiannon that I needed them to fill the bath because they weren’t going to get the pool filled in time.  At this point the midwife arrived and there was such a rush of activity, I started feeling quite panicked. I stood up, contracted, leaning in to Rhiannon, and changed into what I would be wearing in the pool.

I climbed in the pool and Rhiannon gave me something homeopathic so that I wouldn’t be sick from the gas and air Deanna had set up. Amazingly, I wasn’t. I didn’t have any reaction to it at all, in fact. Not even the wooziness I experienced with Ameli.

Ameli got in the pool with me and was very excited by everything going on. We were still filling the pool, I was having definite pushing moves, my husband was somewhere, sorting out the video camera, (which I noticed at one point near the end, and realised you couldn’t actually see anything. I’d intended to have it with a room view, rather than just on me, but had obviously never communicated this to anyone else! I meant to say something, but had a contraction and forgot about it) and my mom was somewhere in the room with one or two midwives – somewhere during all this, Tanya, my midwife who was on a day off, had arrived.

Ameli started wanting to do all sorts in the pool and I felt the need to go inwards and have space, so asked for her to be removed. She was not happy, and my mother grabbed her and took her upstairs to redress her. She screamed fiercely, which unsettled me, but they were back soon enough, and my mom started doing the activity pack with her. This pack was an absolute winner in my view-from-the-pool. There was enough to keep her busy, but she was able to be a part of what was going on. She was able to stick her head over the pool and see what was going on, but not having to be an active part of it. She didn’t watch Squidgy being born, but saw her raised out the water.  I was very happy with her ‘involvement’ in her sister’s birth.

Martin finally came and stood by me. He’d finally gotten the water up to the right level, and was able to be with me. I rested my head on his hand and told him I’d missed him. He’d been my rock in Ameli’s birth, and this time we just weren’t ready and I’d been doing it without him. He helped me breathe properly again and was available to me and meeting my needs in birth. I am very lucky to have him as a birth, and life, partner.

At this point, however, I was feeling frantic. Everything had moved so fast – the last hour had seen three people arrive, a pool filled, Ameli in the pool and back out again and somewhere the beeping of the oven to say the cake was ready too! – I lay in the pool pushing, thinking ‘No, no, no! I’m not ready! I need to focus. This hurts. Why does it hurt! It didn’t hurt last time!

I couldn’t understand where the pain was coming from. I know that sounds odd to most people, but there was no pain in the transition at Ameli’s birth. I was so calm, I was so focussed, it was so different. I said I needed everyone to be quiet because I couldn’t focus and the room did quiet down, albeit temporarily. I asked Martin to change the MP3 player from the hypnobirthing CD which I was just not able to focus on, to music. The effect was immediate. I was able to focus in on the music, sing along to the song and focus all my attention inwards. I felt immediately calmer, and my pain level actually halved. It was amazing relief being able to just internalise, and visualise. At one stage Rhiannon and my mother were singing along with me and I remember having my eyes closed and thinking they sounded like angels.

I also remember feeling my waters break very near the end – in fact I think Squidgy may have crowned just after. It was an odd feeling, like a ‘POP’ but I couldn’t say anything to anyone, I wanted to wave my arms and point, but I couldn’t move my arms, instead my legs jerked up and down. My eyes were closed, but I imagine I looked like chicken thighs jerking about. When I finally could speak again, I told them my waters had gone.

Everyone worries about pooing during birth, and at one point, I know I must have because I remember someone saying ‘where’s the sieve’ and I actually giggled to myself – although quite possibly only I heard it – because I saw the words from an article I read by Ina May Gaskin floating in front of my eyes “Where there’s maternal poop, there’s usually a little head that follows”.  I was excited about the baby head and choose not to think of the poop.

It wasn’t much later when Rhiannon said that they could see the baby’s head. I was surprised. I knew I was in transition, I knew it was happening, but again, it was so fast. It was as if I stopped fighting and started going with what was happening. I felt myself stop fighting it. It had been about an hour since everyone had arrived, but once I’d been able to focus in on what was happening inside myself, it took minutes – maybe 15 and Squidgy birthed herself the way her sister had. All at once.

When I felt her head, I said I want to pick her up myself, I didn’t want anyone else to touch my baby first.  Once she was born I remember someone telling me to pick her up, that I had to pick her up now, and I remember not moving, but thinking ‘no, not yet’. I think I mumbled something about ‘Where’s the cord’. Ameli had the cord wrapped around her neck twice, and we cut it straight away as we couldn’t get it unwrapped. I didn’t want the same to happen again.

That wasn’t a problem this time, however, and I picked my baby up out the water and put her on my chest. I asked for her towel to be given to me, and my mom handed it over to me. I wrapped her in it in the pool and we waited for the cord to stop pulsing.

She nursed pretty much immediately, I had some Angelica Root to help the placenta release and sat in the pool looking at my little…. Well, I had to look twice, because I had been so sure she was going to be a boy, but instead we had another little girl! I was so surprised – but we are both really happy to have another girl.

The placenta came shortly after the baby, and again, I was surprised by it. I ‘birthed’ this placenta, rather than it popping out. It was a strange feeling.

Martin cut the cord when it had stopped pulsing, and Rhiannon whisked the placenta off to the kitchen, ready for processing (I have had it encapsulated.) Ameli came to look at her sister properly, and her first words on the matter were “Can it walk?”

We all had a good chuckle.

From there it’s all a bit of a blur. The baby was weighed and weighed again, because we thought there was something wrong with the scale. She was so much heavier than we thought. I had a quick check, and then had a shower. Rhiannon made me a smoothie, and Deanna wrote her notes. My mom looked after both my children – BOTH MY CHILDREN!! – while I was finishing up (actually I have no idea what happened while I was showering, now I think about it) but when I came downstairs, my mom had the baby and Ameli was playing with her puzzles.

Deanna left, Martin made me some pasta, I shared the news with the world, and then went upstairs to bed. My mom called my dad and showed him the baby, by which time I’d fallen asleep. Someone, I think Martin, brought her back in to me, and so we slept, through the night, as newborns tend to do.

I woke in the morning, staring at this little piece of magic lying next to me, awed that we’re here again, that we’ve done this again, and blessed beyond measure. Not only the mother of two amazing beings, each so individual, but also a woman, an owner of my birthing experiences, floored once again by the magnitude and raw power of birth, proud beyond measure to be a member of the female gender and fiercely protective over the power that comes with it.

(I’ll write more another time about what I’ve learned from this birth, as there’s a lot. Also about our experience of an older sibling at a birth, and how birth preparation affected the birth.)

 

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Activity Pack Ideas For Older Siblings At A Birth

Preparing for childbirth is a huge hit and miss activity. There’s only so much planning, reading, preparation and thought you can put into it, and then you have to step back and let nature do her thing. Now throw a toddler in the mix and you have a whole new ball game.

I’ve been planning and preparing a home birth in the hope of having my two year old daughter present. We’ve read books to prepare. We’ve spoken about it. We’ve watched birth videos. I tried to do yoga with her in the room. She rode me like a donkey.  Really. There’s just no accounting for a two year old’s frame of mind. So really, when it comes to planning to have a toddler at the birth of a sibling, it’s taken every ounce of my pre-child project and event management professional experience to come up with a plan. And in true project management style, here’s a graph to show you what I’ve realised:

Jokes aside though, that 1% that I have ‘under control’ includes having someone here to keep Ameli entertained when I go into labour and need my husband by my side.  As I write this I’m having random contractions, and my ‘person’  – my sister – is still six days from arriving to look after Ameli!

I have, however, done what I can to prepare. I’ve prepared a Birth Activity Bag with some things that I know with supervision and attention will keep Ameli busy for some time. Since I have no idea how long labour will be, and I have no idea whether she’ll be awake or not, I have no idea if there’s enough here, or too much, but whatever’s left over will be great to share together and keep her entertained while I’m learning to breastfeed a new baby. (By the time you read this, I may have answers to all these questions!)

In our Birth Activity Bag, we have:

  • A colouring book of trains with wax crayons
  • A colouring and sticker book – Ameli loves stickers and they can keep her busy for hours. There are only about twenty stickers for this book, and I’m still tempted to buy her another, bulkier pack of stickers.
  • An unusual ‘pop out’ book. She can pop out all the pieces and build a 3D carousel. This one will need a bit of guidance, but once it’s built I imagine she’ll have great fun playing with it for a while.
  • A six-in-one box of puzzles I’ve taken out and individually wrapped so that she can be given them separately over time.
  • A construction kit which will require supervision, but should be fun too.
  • Dyed Pasta for threading
  • A sticker pack, which I’m sure will end up all over the pool, lounge and house!
  • A prepared jar of cake mix, so you can bake a birthday cake together for baby in early labour.

These are all things we’ve bought new for the occasion, but in reality, they don’t have to be.

  • I’ve also put a few LEGO pieces in a baggie as LEGO always provides a few minutes of fun
  • I will also add the homebirth books we’ve been reading so she can look at them during the birth, for comparison, so to speak!

Some other suggestions I’ve been offered or thought of, but haven’t yet put together are:

  • a digital camera (for a slightly older child – I’d worry Ameli might dip it in the birth pool!)
  • a photo book of the older child with plenty of pictures of them with mama and daddy – something to look through together.
  • a paddling pool next to the birthpool for her to pop in and out of.
  • a favourite DVD, a bag of ready made popcorn and refreshing drink.
These are my currently totally theoretical ideas for keeping a toddler entertained during a homebirth.
If you’d like more ideas for Activity Bags, whether for birth, travel or just rainy days, it turns out there’s a world of activity packs to explore.  Check out my Pinterest board for  Toddler Activity Bags. You’ll (all) be busy for hours!
If you can think of anything else that would work well, please share your suggestions below!

Announcing: Squidgy Is Here

If you follow on Facebook or Twitter, this is going to be old news to you now, but Squidgy is here!! And she’s a girl! What a surprise!! I was really expecting a boy, for some reason!

She was born yesterday, 13 March at 17:23 – that’s 5:23 PM for my American friends – weighing in at an astonishing 4.2 kg, or 9lb6oz. We made them weigh her again, because I didn’t believe that could be right. My bump was so small compared to with Ameli.

Full birth story to follow, but we’re very excited, happy and ecstatic to have had our home water birth, despite being at 42 weeks and 5 days according to the scan dates!

Thank you everyone for your support…

 

13 March 2012 – A Good Day For A Birthday?

So many of my friends and family are far away and won’t be able to share in this baby’s birth with us. I’m not sure how much I’ll update here today, or how much will need to be edited or spell checked later. I know when it gets to the thick of it, I’ll be focused inwards, and not sharing what’s going on… but in the meantime, writing is my therapy. It keeps me calm, and focused. Lucky you, eh? 😉

Last night – I went to an NCT committee meeting after my acupressure, and felt strengthening random contractions, but nothing worth writing home about. Arrived home, did some work, and wondered if Tuesday might be the day.

3:45 am – I got out of bed because I was moaning through contractions and starting to disturb Ameli’s sleep.  I couldn’t sleep anymore, so went downstairs to do figure of 8’s on my birth ball. I got out the TENS machine and strapped myself up. I don’t remember the early contractions with Ameli being this intense.

First Contractons

5:20 something am – Fall asleep, contractions die down, waking about every half hour with a strong contraction.

8:30am – Ameli comes downstairs wanting milk. Breastfeeding stimulates contractions, definitely! We go about our morning, Ameli gets ready for nursery, I wash my hair – hanging upside down mid contraction is not fun. Thank heavens for the TENS machine.

9:30 am- My mother takes Ameli to nursery. I sit on the sofa getting some work done. Every time I stand up I have contractions. Have some things to finish before having a baby. Also need to put new Moses basket together. It arrived this morning. Good timing! These contractions are more like the second day of contractions with Ameli were. It’s definitely going faster.

10:15 am – Realise neither of my midwives are on call today. Need to contact someone else, but I’ve never met her.

10:51 am – Decide to publish this live on blog because I’m having to chat in too many groups and Facebook pages and Twitter accounts and what not. Will update here till I get in the pool. Then probably Twitter if anything.

11:20 am – Birthpool is up. Martin’s gone to fetch Ameli at nursery. Hypnobirthing CD on in background. Excitement currently coursing through my bones. Feeling so peaceful and happy.

12:52 – Updating to say there are no updates. Contractions have settled in at about 10 minutes apart for now. Ameli’s home from nursery and having a nap. My unofficial Doula is on standby. Midwife I’ve never spoken to knew who I am and was elated to hear I’m contracting, which was very sweet. No news for now is… well, no news!

15:00 – Contractions intense, but still about 10 minutes apart. Waiting for Ameli to wake so we can bake the birthday cake for the baby.

15:30 – Ameli awake, heading into the kitchen to do our cake in a jar for baby’s birthday. I have a contraction pretty much every time I stand up, so this should get things going. Have asked DH to start filling the pool. They’re all saying it’s too early. I’m not so sure it is.

Learning Colours – Make A ‘Book Of Colours’

Continuing on our current theme of colours, and learning colours, we decided to make a ‘book of colours. This took a little bit of ‘setting up’ on my part, but it wasn’t too hard.

  • First I had to make a ‘book’. You could use a ready made one.
  • Then I had to prepare each page, which I simply did by writing the names of the colours in the right colours on each page. (Children learn lower case letters first, if I recall, so I wrote it all in lower case).
  • I cut loads of pictures of different colours from magazines. Ours are a bit dull as we’re not magazine subscribers, apart from one natural parenting oriented magazine, Juno, which doesn’t really have masses of pictures and I don’t want to cut up, so we just used catalogues that come through the door and pile up in the recycling.) You could print pictures, but this seems a waste of resources to me.
  • Our first colour was red so I found all the red crayons, pencils, markers, and pens (and a paint, which hubby vetoed at the last minute!) and laid them all out, ready for use.
  • Daddy sat with Ameli and for about an hour, they drew and coloured and pasted together, using and repeating the name of the colour red a myriad of times. They dug through all the cut out pictures looking for red pictures, and glued them, and coloured around them. (Daddy doing most of the drawing, of course!)
  • And over a number of days, we’ve introduced a new colour each day, and repeated the process. (Not consecutive days though – we’ve been alternating the Book of Colours with other colour based games too as we don’t want it to seem like a chore!)

Aside from being a good indoor activity, a great way to stay entertained, and a fun thing to do together, it’s made a vast difference to Ameli’s recognition of colours.

For other colour book ideas, check out these then amalgamate the ideas to suit your own needs!

Mamatography Week 9: Visitors And Waiting

It’s been an odd old week. There’s been so much ‘to do’ yet I only do it little bits at a time and as a result, the list never gets smaller. Just looking around now, there are things I should be doing and yet I’m not. I’m sitting here…resting!

54/366 – Thlippers

My sister arrived and brought a bunch of presents for Ameli. The froggy slippers were among them and Ameli loves them. Since Deshaine arrived I’ve hardly had any time with Ameli… she just adores her aunt!

55/366 – Painting Planes

Aunty Deshaine brought a wooden model kit over with her, and we were amazed at how easily Ameli put it together, then proceded to pain it and decorate it with stickers. She loved doing it and it was great fun for her and her aunty to do together.

56/366 – Soft Play

I’m 40 weeks and two days pregnant, according to the charts, and Ameli still wants to be running around! Oh, why don’t toddlers go into nesting too? Anyway, this particular day, this particular girl had not one pregnant mama, but three adults with her to entertain her. I just sat and watched the play as Aunty Deshaine and Daddy climbed and clambered along! 57/366 – Coloured Rice

We’re learning colours at the moment, and this is one of our projects. I’ll tell you more about it another day, but I thought it looked rather pretty like this. 58/366 – Smiley Sue

That’s a beautiful face, even when it’s all scrunched up. 59/366 – Memory Game

My sister and Ameli playing ‘Memory’ with Disney cards she brought along. We were shocked by how amazingly good Ameli’s recollection and grasp of this game were. 60/366 – Forest Nursery

Ameli and Nana at Forest Nursery looking at worms. What fun. Thanks for joining us for our week in pictures! Please stop by and visit the other Mamatography contributors!

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