Sorry I’ve been busy…

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A radio silence can only mean one thing. My waiting game is over and I’ve had my baby!

Our gorgeous baby boy Adam arrived in the early hours of last Monday morning after a total of 23 hrs since my waters broke.

I had been planning a home birth for months and practising hypno birthing as well as yoga to help with relaxation and breathing for pain relief.

I had an amazing labour, that’s all I can say. The contractions did build in intensity but I felt so safe and relaxed in my own home, with a total of 3 amazing midwives over the course of the day and my amazing husband keeping me motivated and looked after.

I went from the yoga ball to tens at about 1pm, then got in the pool about 8 – the relief! – before deciding to honk on some gas and air at around 12midnight.

I loved the pool, set up in my nursery with fairy lights and soothing music. But after several hours in it the midwives encouraged me to follow my body, but the pushing/bearing down urge wasn’t strong.

They examined me and to my absolute horror I was not fully dilated, only 9cm and Adam was approaching from an awkward angle making the pain worse and the contractions less productive. They were amazed I had done that long without drugs but asked me to think about how long I had been labouring.

I weighed up how long I might have to go and in the end we decided to go to hospital for an epidural. Once there I couldn’t stay still for the epi and Adam had a wee drop in heart rate… A section was decided on.

The relief from the spinal block was unreal. The operation was standard and my experience has been fine… I have absolutely no regrets as this was the best delivery possible for me and my baby, who as it turned out was totally back to back!

Those hours I spent at home were some of the most profound and powerful of my life, the connection to my husband and my home were strengthened in a way I just don’t think would have happened in hospital.

Most importantly I do not consider this a ‘failed’ home birth. I might not have delivered at home but my labour is a wonderful memory I will always treasure. I marvel now at my own strength – meeting Adam at the end of it all was just out of this world and I wouldn’t change a thing.

I wanted to document this story and share it in case it inspires, comforts or reassures anyone. Maybe you’re thinking of having a home birth – I’d say go for it, don’t be nervous. It could be the most meaningful experience of your life. If there’s even a hint of need for you to transfer to hospital your midwife won’t waste a second. I didn’t deliver at home but I loved the security and familiarity that came with my labour.

And maybe you’re scared of labour. Don’t be. It’s an awesome experience – I felt so in control and able to just ‘blow the contractions away’ as a friend suggested. I used breathing techniques from yoga and hypno birthing to help and they really did – the first noise I made in pain was in the hospital just before they decided I needed a c section – 22 hrs in!

If I can do it, anybody can. I felt empowered and strong and I will always have that as my lasting memory. The operation was a blur, and recovery has been okay. I’m getting a bit stronger every day and being the mum of such a beautiful wee boy definitely helps.

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Nesting, nesting, 1 2 3

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Today’s blog is brought to you by the letter N – as in ‘nesting’. Now anyone who knows me will be doubled over at the thought of me on my hands and knees scrubbing the kitchen floor. It’s hopefully a little easier to visualise me industriously making useful things whilst creating a lot of mess.

My current project is all about reusable baby wipes. Yup. Glamourous.

The ‘cheeky wipes’ system is very clever and also quite expensive. I have inherited a dose of terry squares and I decided to copy that system, putting my ever so basic sewing skills to good use.

Here’s how it works: you have two clip-close Tupperware boxes and two ‘wet bags’ for when you’re out and about. One container or bag holds the ‘fresh’ wipes, which are usually steeped in an antiseptic solution eg water with essential oils or even chamomile tea. The other container is for your ‘mucky’ wipes, and you can either use another solution eg tea tree oil to cancel out whiffs, or just seal it up until you can deposit the wipes into your nappy laundry bin.

The wipes are just cotton, bamboo or microfibre and the boxes are literally the Tupperware tubs you see for £1 each in Poundland. I decided to be thrifty and try to make my own rather than spend a (not unreasonable) £30-odd for a new set. Well, I have the raw materials here in the flat!

I started by cutting out a shape that fits nicely into my Tupperware so I don’t have to double them up. I found that grease proof paper works well as a pattern template! I’ve got as far as cutting a whole load out, and will run a simple zigzag stitch around them to stop them fraying. If I had an overlocker (the holy grail of seamstresses worldwide) I’d use it to do a more thorough job.

Will post pics of the finished job- in the meantime here is the pattern cutting:

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Time slows down, speeds up, clocks go back… Dr Who would be impressed.


What’s been happening in the world of Ruth? Lots, of course. No baby just yet but if the little blighter does turn up early we’ll just about be sorted. Sigh of relief that can be heard from outer space.

I’ve finished work! That’s a funny one to get your head around – after working full time since the day I left education (working part time and sometimes full time throughout that too since the age of 18) suddenly not having a job to go to each day is a strange one. I’m not really on holiday, but I’m not ill. And the baby isn’t here yet to keep me busy so I’ve been filling up my days with lots of lovely catch ups with friends, short and gaspy walks to nearby locations such as John Lewis, and basic sewing projects that have taken up hours and yielded fairly little. And Yoga. And baking. And a wee bit of resting too.

The rest/activity ratio is about to swing dramatically as I’ve just about had enough of ‘keeping myself busy’. I’m lucky to have this time off work before I meet my baby so I’m bloody well going to enjoy it without feeling guilty or lazy for doing as little as possible. Today is officially the first day I’ve not gone outside yet! I’m going out later on to a halloween party so not feeling like a recluse yet. I’ve done three loads of washing (watch as anyone who knows me reels in shock), hoovered, tidied up the spare room and kitchen and emptied the dishwasher. These simple tasks are quite hard work when you’re almost 37 weeks pregnant, have a baby headbutting your bladder whilst kicking you in the lungs, and have hips that feel they’ll give way at any moment. As for picking things up off the floor by hand, that is so last month. I now use my toes to lift a lot of stuff.

So the first two weeks of maternity leave have made a mockery of the concept of time. Receiving my beautiful hand made baby blanket and a gorgeous Narcissus bouquet from my colleagues on my last day feels like months ago. And at the same time it’s like I walked out of there only yesterday! “You’ll lose track of time” Jamie helpfully and knowingly piped up last night. This terrifies me! I need to let go, and not let it bother me. I shall get a diary and keep all my appointments in it rather than in my well oiled machine of a brain. My poor brain. It’s in for a shock I think.

Aside from becoming a time lord, I am upbeat and optimistic about the next few weeks and finally getting to meet our baby boy or girl! I’m carefully filtering negative birth stories, comments and ‘advice’ and focusing on doing things the way that suits us best. We’re stocked up on real nappies (a good lot of second hand and some shiny new ones too) and I’m heading over to the Changeworks Nappuccino next week for a blether with some cloth nappy mums and dads to get some advice. We’ve received lots of ‘pre-loved’ baby clothes from friends and colleagues who’ve recently had their own little babies, and even got a beautiful cot mobile from a friend who was given two for his little girl – we’re very lucky indeed! Our baby will be well kitted out between these nearly new offerings and the lovely gifts we’ve received from friends and family.

Still happy we’ve not made too giant an impact on the environment (yet) as lots of our stuff is pre-loved, nearly new, reusable or at the very least biodegradable. Hopefully this cancels out some of the tumble-drying I’ll have to do over the winter!

And on that happy note, I have to go and walk around – seizing up here! Oh alright then, here’s a pic:36 Weeker

And here are the beautiful flowers I got from work:

Flowers from Narcissus

The mothership

I’ve developed my own gravitational pull now. I’m kidding of course but it’s no joke – I am officially massive. I have hit the 31 week mark and the bump measures 30 cm, which is pretty much bang on what it should be (thankyouverymuch) – but it feels like it really can’t get any bigger. Can it?

Despite me slowing down physically, the world still appears to be turning. Jamie has really driven forward our to-do list and has decorated, built furniture, replaced door handles, sorted through boxes and boxes of stuff, organised and reorganised cupboards, found space for things, hoovered, washed and tidied like a total champion.

Men at workI have feebly washed a few plates and done the odd trip to the supermarket, and written a lot of lists. I’ve also been in charge of Online Shopping. I was busy reclining yesterday and leaving Jamie to his own devices when he called me in to check out the nursery…

It’s been painted for a few weeks; the carpet arrived a couple of weeks ago and the last of our IKEA order got delivered yesterday. It’s also been home to some ‘misc’ items that were waiting to be rehomed or gumtree’d. I wasn’t prepared for the sight that met me when I walked in. Not only had he built the cot, he’d cleared everything out, lit the lamp and put up a few little things to start making it a real person’s room: NurseryI sat in my red chair to take the pic above (which is why you can see my slippers!). You can also see the freaky Cliff Richard calendar hanging on the back of the door. Cliff won’t be watching over Baby Gray, that’s for sure. What a beautiful room.

Its amazing making this sort of progress – it brings us closer to meeting our baby one step at a time; finishing up at work will also be a milestone – I’ve now got less than four weeks to go! Far from feeling guilty or sheepish about stopping work at 35 weeks, I am delighted to be gifting myself some ‘me time’ and some time to rest and prepare for motherhood at my own pace. I will be far from idle – there are loads of baby clothes to wash and sort, bits and bobs to purchase, and lists to make 🙂 I’ll also be practicing my hypnobirthing techniques (laugh if you want – but if you’re pregnant I strongly suggest you buy the book!) and attending late-pregnancy yoga classes just off Broughton Street. I’m expecting a visit from my Mum too.

I’ll also be busy filling our freezer with batch-cooked meals to help feed us when we’re busy/exhausted/bewildered in the first few weeks. As someone who tries hard to eat well and avoid food waste I love the thought of having good nutritional (and tasty) meals in our freezer as a result of forward planning. So far I’ve made extra and bagged some bolognese, two curries, some chilli and some vegetable soup, not to mention some sliced bagels – great for popping straight into the toaster. This will save us a lot of money and energy at a time when cooking and eating are just about fueling your body rather than gastronomy.

On the ‘green’ front, things are going well (despite August’s surrendering to IKEA) and our thrifty low carbon leanings have been well served by the generosity of friends who’ve happily passed on all sorts of things. We’ve hardly bought any baby clothes, having received loads from other parents. We’ve also inherited a baby monitor, bath seat, bumbo chair (wtf is that?), car seat, bike seat, baby sling/carrier and giant bundle of cloth nappies. All without spending a penny! Most other stuff has been bought on eBay or Gumtree, including our beautiful pram (AKA travel system) and cute ‘buggy snuggle‘ – we are saving ourselves plenty of money, and in the process we are keeping our carbon footprint down too. I’m particularly pleased that we’ve got some adorable cloth nappies – the cash saving (between £500 and £1000 per baby!) is one thing, but knowing we’ll be diverting an unbelieveable 120 black bin bags full of dirty nappies away from landfill is a great thought. Working at Changeworks I know that it’s not something to be scared of – we run a real nappy project! I’m lucky to have a fantastic source of support, and intend to use one of their trial packs or lending kits so we can try out various types and see what works best for us. We’ve been given a range by friends – some Bambino Mio, a few Tots Bots, Little Lambs and a load of plain terry squares. I’m also looking forward to going along to the Changeworks ‘Nappuccino‘ coffee mornings once we’re ready.

I’m really looking forward to:

  • Bending at the waist again
  • Being able to put socks and shoes on while breathing at the same time
  • Not caring where I park as I know I’ll be able to get back in the car
  • Getting comfortable in bed, on the sofa, at work, anywhere
  • Going back in the sauna
  • Eating runny cheese and pate
  • Having a few G&Ts
  • Seeing myself in the mirror and recognising my body
  • Wearing REAL CLOTHES and having more than 6 outfits
  • Going for a long walk without a sense of dread

Until that time comes, I am stranded in the body of a giant flump. Here is me at 30 weeks:30 weeksOh, I went to the amazing Lush Spa recently for a treatment called The Spell; it was beyond my wildest dreams! I am usually skeptical and critical of this sort of thing, because I happen to know the best masseur in the business who doesn’t need a spa or any hocus pocus to make you feel good (Hi Yossi). The Spell was incredible though – just enough theatre to make it really interesting, but not too much to overshadow the good solid skill that went into the treatment itself. It’s primarly a foot massage/spa but includes hot stones and a head massage in the frankly stunning surroundings of Edinburgh’s Lush Spa. The spa is set in the basement of the Princes Street store and is like a witch’s kitchen – that’s the best way I can describe it. They gave me a beautiful little affirmation as a keepsake – and I think it’s very apt for my journey at the moment:

Lush Spa

Tea party and bumpdate

As I no longer indulge in late night boozing, I was in bed pretty early last night. We were out for my husband’s birthday and went to a gig with some good mates, and I surprised myself by staying alert and happy til well after the band finished!

It may have had something to do with Jamie calling the venue to reserve us a booth at the gig, so I wasn’t forced to stand about getting jostled; instead I had space to sit and get brought soft drinks by all our lovely friends. I really enjoyed getting dressed up in a lovely black and white dress (given to me by a colleague) and putting on some thick eyeliner and red lippy. Everyone told me I looked great, and even if they were just being nice it felt brilliant! Jamie’s been so great, I couldn’t ask for a more considerate husband.

Anyway after bailing about 10:45pm I was up with the lark this morning -Jamie’s actual birthday (and my Mum’s too funnily enough)- to wrap a pressie, blow up a few balloons and pin a birthday banner to our fireplace. It wasn’t the biggest gesture but Jamie was really touched when he finally surfaced, a little rough round the edges.

We invited his mum and dad round for a birthday tea, and I really enjoyed putting together a high-tea style ‘spread’ of sandwiches, cakes, tea, juice and strawberries. I love an excuse to use some of my vintage tableware and my lack of hangover meant I put in 100% effort!

In between housework, catering, blowing up balloons and paying attention to my hung over birthday boy I found the time to take a bump pic too. Am now collapsed on the sofa and Jr is pulling back flips – I can SEE it moving! I thought that was a myth – I was wrong!

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The day we grew up

Wow. Today is Saturday. Six months ago we would be waking up about now, perhaps fighting off a bit of a headache after a few jars the night before. Our to do list, if one existed, might have said ‘buy papers’ or at its most strenuous ‘big shop’.

Today’s has a plethora of grown up stuff on it, as baby-prep is finally kicking off. We are off to a baby sale thing (I mentioned Jack and Jill markets before), then to IKEA (can our relationship handle it?) for a look at some other stuff. We are hoping to buy a pram and a cot today.
BUT that’s not all; we are also going to look for a sofa bed and some new carpet for the spare room, AKA THE BABY’S ROOM!

And Jamie tells me there is football on at 5:15pm. Are there enough hours in the day to accomplish this? Hmmm. If I don’t drop dead from exhaustion first, we may just do it.

Weekends used to be leisurely affairs. Now they’re for life admin and catching up on all the housework I’m too knackered to do during the week.

And it’s August, so naturally I’m fending off ‘offers’ from friends wanting to come and visit. It’s funny, in Edinburgh I think friend visits jump about 300% during the festival. Normally I love this but am just wrecked this year, and being teetotal doesn’t help me feel much empathy for my party-seeking friends. Still, Sunday will see the arrival of our last house guest (if we can help it) before the baby comes.

Anyway I’ve got to go and do a few things before we set off- I’ve been up for hours of course- so here’s the almost 25 wks bump pic:

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The budget bucket list thing

I heard from a friend and fellow blogger Amy about this moneysupermarket bucket list thing. Amy wrote a lovely blog setting out some of her wishes for memories she wanted to create for her family.

I have to confess I’m a bit like her – I don’t crave world travel (although I wouldn’t turn down the chance) and with a baby on the way I’m not sure what my priorities will look like even in a year or so.

So, what should I put down on this hypothetical bucket list? I read up and found we are invited to choose a ‘budget’ and an ‘extravagant’ option. Here goes.

Budget:

Manage to kit out my new baby and always provide everything he or she needs – without breaking the bank or going against my green values.

Get to Donegal every year – like Amy I have some treasured memories of family holidays there. It’s a magical place.

Manage to resist hitting my cat with a shovel when she wakes me up at 4:30am. In about 16 weeks time this is going to become a major problem and my husband is already hiding all the heavy throwable objects that might otherwise be within my reach.

Extravagant: you know what? If I was totally unfettered and didn’t feel society’s pressure and the pressure of needing to make ends meet I would actually go freelance as a copywriter. It’ll take some balls, but one day I think I’ll do it. I will save up enough to take the plunge; drum up some business and invest a wee bit of cash in a good website with some decent SEO, a professional portfolio to show clients and maybe even some business cards (recycled paper of course). Of course as I mentioned things will be changing a lot quite soon and I hadn’t really expected to be… expecting… so soon. My career is taking a back seat for a while, but with £2,000 I could spread my wings a bit and start the journey to self sufficiency.

You never know, we could end up in a house with a garden and chickens, and maybe even a bathroom with a window!

*sigh* I guess that’s my bucket list. I’m being very practical with it but that’s what happens when £2k is waved under my nose these days.

Adulthood! Argh!

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