For my three little loves

My favourite pastime, my favourite view,
Is the view that I get when I’m watching you.
The shape of your lips, the curve of your nose,
The kink in your ear, and the size of your toes.
All of the faces, all of the sounds,
Your cheeky chuckles, to your little frowns.
The way that you wriggle, the warmth that you bring,
Watching you sleep, it’s my favourite thing.
Cuddled up on me, feeling your breath,
Your little hairs, that tickle my neck.
The way that you fit, so well on my chest,
For it is me, who you know best.
You heard my heart beat, from the inside,
You are the reason, I am filled with pride.
My perfect baby, my perfect love,
I can’t help but think, you were sent from above.
I know you need me, but if only you knew,
How much it was, that I needed you.

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Posy’s birth story

It wasn’t until about week twenty of my pregnancy that I let myself think about the birth and how it was going to happen. Quite frankly my last birth wasn’t the most pleasant experience. I never wrote about it for that simple reason, and if I am completely honest I wanted to forget it. Forget how I was scared after Maisie was born because I was bleeding so heavily, forget how the doctor was telling me to grab her and I couldn’t move my body beyond shaking, forget how sick the drugs had left me feeling and how I felt like I was going to drop Maisie when I finally held her. I left the hospital with a beautiful baby who I loved with all my heart, but I also left the memory of her birth there as well. Maisie’s birth, although in comparison to many others was quite straight forward, was not something that I was wanting to relive or wanted to experience again this time around.

I spent a lot of time reading positive birth stories, and in my head I had imagined a birth where I was able to get through with no intervention or pain relief, this was to be my last pregnancy and birth, and for me, I wanted to know that I had tried to have as natural labour as possible. I didn’t tell anyone that this was my plan. I don’t even think I said it out loud, for fear of jinxing myself or setting up a birth plan that I couldn’t stick to, so I had my hopes but having known what had happened the last two times I was unsure of what would happen on the day.

Then we got to the end of the pregnancy and the word induction started getting thrown around. Having being diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes and having had two previous large babies there was concern about this baby’s size so letting me go “too far over” was not in the doctor’s plans. Reluctantly we booked an induction date but as it was at 40 + 4 I was doubtful that I would even reach it and truly thought that induction was not something that I would ever have to know about.
40 weeks came and went, no baby.
40 + 3 serious contractions, no baby.
40 + 4 doctor’s appointment at 9.20am and was sent straight up to the maternity ward to be induced and “start the process”.
So, it was happening, induction.
Not the way that I had imagined that this baby would come into the world but the way it was happening all the same. To say I was emotional about the whole situation was an understatement. I was teary from the get go, and just kept thinking that this isn’t how I wanted this to happen, but as Duncan kept telling me it was just a different way of going about it. The baby was finally on their way and we were about to start our new life.

Having not had any experience with being induced, I did not know how my body would react or what was going to happen, I was anxious because I had read induction can be intense and quick or it can fail and result in caesarian, so I really didn’t know how the next few days were going to pan out.
After the gel was put in the contractions started quickly but they were mild. Nothing more than period pains, this went on all day, slowly progressing in intensity but nothing that made me think that it was baby day. That night we went out for dinner, Duncan enjoying his Thai while I enjoyed my contractions. We went back to hospital and spent the night, knowing that tomorrow was going to be our baby’s birthday. That was a strange feeling, we have never known the day before the actual day came, and going to sleep knowing that our baby’s birthday was going to be the 22nd of August was (even though the contractions were happening) a hard concept to grasp.
Surprisingly, I was able to sleep.

At 5am I woke to stronger contractions but knowing it was going to be a big day I tried to get some more rest and was woken by the midwife at about 6.30 to get ready for the Doctor to come around and break my waters. I got up, washed my face, did my hair and had my cannulas put in. All quite civilized really. Not like the births I had known or you see on TV.
The doctor came around and broke my waters, I had had this done for both my previous births so this was not an unknown thing for me, small hook, trickle of water, done. We went back to our room to get all the things we wanted to take to the delivery suite and there it was, the Hollywood moment, a huge burst of pressure and splash! My waters poured out just like you see in the movies, I just stood there frozen, told Duncan to get towels and we mopped me up and the puddle I had created. We gathered up our things, went back around to the suite and waited, the contractions were increasing in intensity and I had hoped this would mean that I wouldn’t have to be hooked up to the Syntocin drip but I wasn’t so lucky. Breaking my waters had not initiated the labour as quickly as they would have liked so the drip was attached.

At this stage it was about 8am, I was now hooked up to a drip and a foetal monitor which tracked both the baby’s heartrate and my uterine activity. Luckily the foetal monitor could be used wirelessly so I didn’t initially feel too trapped by all my wires. I was able to hop in the shower and ease the contractions, I was managing the pain well, Duncan and I were still laughing, we were chatting between contractions and we were getting excited that things were finally moving along.

By 9am the contractions, although I thought they had, hadn’t increased enough so another dose of Syntocin was administered and by 9.30 I was technically in labour.
Regular, painful contractions.
By this stage I had gotten out of the shower and was hooked back up to the machine to monitor the baby. I sat on the fit ball and decided that I needed a distraction. We put on an episode of Game of Thrones. Strange choice? Yes, possibly but it provided the distraction that I needed. One episode was enough and by this stage I was really feeling the labour progress. By this stage I was kneeling over the fit ball and the change in position really helped. Duncan sat beside me and we just waited, me breathing through my contractions and telling myself that I could do this, Duncan massaging my back and doing what he could. We chatted and watched the monitor show my contractions increase as time passed and I told Duncan repeatedly that I was emotional about this being the last time I got to do this.
I wasn’t scared of labour anymore. It was happening, I was coping, I felt strong, excited and ready to meet the baby.

By about 11.30 I started to get a bit restless, I felt pressure and started to feel as if I could push. I asked our midwife, Celine, who I haven’t mentioned yet but who was absolutely amazing, when I would be examined, what was going to happen. My last two labours were really monitored, I was constantly checked, I was told constantly how many cms I was every few hours and this one I hadn’t been checked once. By this stage I knew I was close to fully dilated, I had had thoughts of wanting to go home, wanting to just get up leave and go check on Leo and Maisie at home, I knew those thoughts run through your head close to the end and that was my rationale, I had to be close to this baby because those thoughts were filling my head. Celine informed me that most likely at 12.30 she would check me and if I needed it she may have to administer more of the drip but she didn’t think that was likely and we would have a baby by then. She wasn’t wrong. Pretty soon after that conversation I felt like I needed to push, or as I put it so delicately on the day, like I need to poo, and for fear of Duncan seeing me do exactly that I went to the toilet (for some reason I still thought we had some mystery in our marriage). He came to the bathroom with me anyway just in case the baby decided to come in there so the mystery is well and truly dead.

This is where we got to the fun part- skip this paragraph if you aren’t into finer details.
After sitting on the loo to no avail, standing up for each contraction and resting on the toilet seat in between I started to think that the last thing I wanted this baby to do was to be born into a toilet bowl I walked out and climbed up on to the bed. I asked Celine to examine me because I was pushing and nothing was happening, I needed to know what was going on, sure enough I was the tiniest bit away from being ready to go, she told me to try not to push if I could, and ride out the contractions. I lay on my side, Duncan next to me and I wrapped my arm around his tummy. I had an almighty contraction and I knew this was it. It was time to push. I was doing this and I was ready to meet our baby.
I had no idea what time it was, I have no idea how many pushes it took all I know is with each push I squeezed Duncan and he made me feel safe and as calm as I could be. I was so hot, the cold towel that a nurse handed me was, in that moment, the best thing that had ever been handed to me, and Celine kept reminding me to breathe.
“I can do this, I am doing this, I can do this” I told myself.
Some deep breaths and a few big pushes and the head was out. Still on my side I felt the urge to push again and there was shoulders and then the baby. There was the tiniest moment of silence and then the cry. The most beautiful sound in the world. I rolled myself on to my back and the baby was placed on my chest. She was here and she was perfect.

Posy Tess was born at 1.11pm, 3.89kg – our littlest baby yet – and absolutely (I’ll say it again) perfect.FullSizeRender (9)She attached and fed almost instantly, it was beautiful and so effortless for her, the rest of the birth to me was a blur. All I could think was she was here, she was safe and healthy and I had done it. I was so proud of myself, I looked up at Duncan and he was staring at Posy the biggest smile on his face and his eyes filled with tears, little did he know how much having him to hold helped me and got me through the hard parts.
We stayed in our little bubble, skin on skin for about an hour, staring at our new perfect daughter, all the questions we had over the last nine months about who she would be had started to be answered and our life would never be the same again.
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I loved my birth of Posy. I have never been one to think my births as beautiful because mine had left me feeling exhausted, drained and shaken, but this truly was. It was everything I had imagined birth to be, it was amazing, it was empowering and it was the best experience of my life.
I am so grateful for my husband, Duncan, and the support he gave me, although at times he may have felt helpless, he was everything that I needed and I am so thankful that he was wherever I needed him to be. And to the midwife that I will never forget, Celine, words cannot describe how incredibly happy I was that she was paired with us that day. She was the most wonderful guide when I needed guidance, and the reassurance when I needed reassurance, not to mention I think I would’ve forgotten to breathe had she not reminded me to do so.

Before Posy, I looked at birth as a daunting experience and when the clouds of anxiety crept into my head I was surrounded by good people who made me feel strong, safe and capable. I was able to tell myself that I was strong, safe and capable and I truly think that belief gave me the birth that I had so quietly hoped for.
I may still be in the post birth euphoria stage, or maybe it is because it is my last baby and I am being overly sentimental, but I know that I will always look back on Posy’s birth in a positive light. I will be proud and remember the beauty and the magical feeling that filled the room the moment she entered the world.

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When in doubt, Hug It Out.

Just before two years old there is this unexplainable disruption in your perfectly behaved child’s perfect behaviour…. Well at least the disruption has happened in our household.
My little girl is now throwing her first tantrums, full blown, body slamming, ear splitting screaming, big fat tears filled tantrums. I forgot about this. She was our easy baby. She has spent her life mesmerised by her older brother, she is happy, she is joyful and she is just a truly, beautiful child (not that her brother wasn’t, she has just been an absolute breeze).

I forgot that this would happen, or even that this does happen.
I forgot about the terrible twos.
Leo was hit hard by the “twos” and I got used to the screaming, kicking, protesting and body strength stronger than my own pretty quickly.
Because I wasn’t ready I found myself getting frustrated, angry even, (why are you like this child?), I didn’t take the time to deal with her, I didn’t know what to do. I spent the first few days of meltdowns sending pestering ‘you don’t know what this is like’ text messages to my husband, I felt sorry for myself having such “difficult” children, and to be honest I ended all those days in tears, wishing I could be at work or somewhere where it would be easier.
Then after day three I changed perspective. I had had enough. And when I say enough, I do not mean enough of the tantrums, because from previous ‘terrible two’ experience I know they are staying with us for a while. I had had enough of feeling like a bad mum, of feeling guilty because I lost my temper or because I didn’t know how to look after my own children in that moment.

So I changed tactics.

My original tactic of ignoring the screaming, crying, fitting toddler was leaving both of us feeling absolutely terrible so I adopted what I call the Hug it Out method. I am proud of many things that I have learnt and adapted to in this parenting journey so far, but, I must say this has proved one of my greatest plans yet.
So obviously, hugging a screaming, crying, back arching child is near on impossible, so my plan worked like this. Let child cry it out, tell them you will cuddle them when they are ready, and then when they have calmed a touch, hug it out and hug them tight.
This works for us. This has been working for us for a week and a half, and in toddler years that pretty much makes me a seasoned pro, so let me tell you why I think this is the best way to deal with a diabolical meltdown.
1. It forces you to stop, slow down and relax.
2. Feeling you relax, relaxes the child… well it relaxes mine anyway.
3. (And most importantly) It reminds you how little they are. That they are still a baby, your baby, and sometimes all they need is their Mum or Dad holding them tight.

Yes, there are moments where this will not work, there are still moments where the tantrum has just gone too far and there is nothing you can do but wait. Those moments are still pretty tough, but my recent change in techniques have given me a new perspective and I am so glad.
I was in a miserable place, where my husband would leave for work and I would dread what she would lose it over first, I wasn’t enjoying my toddler and all the amazing things that are happening with her at this age. I had forgotten that she has only been here for twenty months, she is little, tiny, she may have a temper and gaining more of an attitude every day, but she is still my happy, joyful, beautiful baby and Hugging It Out cleared the fog and allowed me to see that again.

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Side note – Now when she is mid tantrum instead of screaming ‘NO! NO! NO!’ she yells out ‘Cuddle Cuddle Cuddle’ so I can only assume she loves the closeness and calmness that is brings too.

What’s in a name?… 2nd edition

Two years ago to this day I wrote a blog post called ‘What’s in a name?’. Now I find myself, finding difficulty in exactly the same thing, never would I have predicted two years ago that this would be the case, but hooray for us, here we are…

We are five weeks from baby three, meaning we have known about this baby for thirty-five weeks. We know that it is coming, the bag is packed, the cot is built, the car seat is going in the car next week, I am getting to the extremely uncomfortable stage, yet still we do not know what to call this baby.

Maybe it is because we are both serial procrastinators, maybe it is because it is most likely the last child we will get to name, maybe it is because we are extremely picky, or maybe it is a combination of all the above and we kind of feel like we exhausted our options with the first two.
Having one girl and one boy and very short lists will do that.
We have gone from having a girl and a boy option, birthing a boy, saving the girls name, naming our second that girls name without really having a definite boys name in mind. And now, when it comes to the third, we are simply stuck.
Our names have changed as many times as the weeks have. We have gone from loving a name and knowing the baby’s name (depending on gender) to seriously considering letting Leo name his new little brother or sister.

The fact that some people find joy in this part baffles me, I find it confusing, slightly stressful and a touch frustrating. Not being able to agree with Duncan being the frustrating part. We have both had names that we have immediately dismissed that were suggested by the other. Neither of us want to settle and nor should either of us have to.

When we named our first we antagonised over every single detail;
– What does that name sound like on an adult?
– Is that name professional enough if they become some sort of big-wig?
– How does it sound with our last name?
– Is it too popular/is it too different?
What if everyone else hates it?

We used to think there was so much to consider, now we are naming the third our details have come down to two things;
Do we love it?
– Does it sound ok with the other two children’s names?

This time, naming our baby, I am less concerned about what people will think of our choice than I ever have been before. I am less concerned about what the name sounds like on an adult or how professional it sounds because a) people name their babies all kinds of crazy stuff these days, and b) they will grow in to and become whatever we decide to name them. My biggest concern is finding that name that we both undoubtedly love – note to all parents to be, this is the hard part.

So here we sit, approximately thirty-five-ish days from D-day and a list of about seven or eight names for each gender.
With each day we become more ruthless with our eliminations, and we both are currently sitting pretty evenly with our favourties, in fact, I think we are about 80% decided now. But if I have learnt anything in the last thirty-five weeks, it is that, we can love a name for weeks and weeks and suddenly it no longer feels or sounds right, so it is scrapped.
We will get there, the nights where I lay awake going through name options are becoming less and less and in my head, I am starting to see our future with our little (insert secret name options here). We may not know how or when they will come, but one thing I do know is that this baby will have a name on its birthday and it will be the most perfect name for our perfect little soul, (but Baby if you could give us a few more weeks to make sure we are sure then that would be appreciated – Thanks, see you soon x).

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Three year olds are the best… for the most part.

Having a three-year old is like walking a very wobbly tightrope, it is quite possibly my least and most favourite age, where one minute you are dealing with a breakdown of epic proportions over something as trivial as which jocks to put on, and the next they are telling you they love you and love spending time with you.

Over the past month I have found myself googling more about behavior and mental health than I think I ever have in my life as a parent. Don’t worry, according to my research, Leo does not have a psychological condition, he is just a normal little kid trying to work out how to deal with this world around him and all the emotions that it brings (although some days I still question if I should have things checked out…just in case). It is a rollercoaster and I now finally understand the term “threenager”.

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There is always something; the newborn haze, terrible twos and now threenagers. (Apparently there is also a thing called a ‘fournado’ but we will deal with that when we get to it.) Basically, this is parenting, each stage brings its own quirks and none of us have any idea what we are doing or how we did it once we are through it. Each stage just comes and goes, we survive, our kids survive, and we just do what we can while we can, whatever works.

Now as I am typing this, using the word “threenager”, as if Leo has developed this terrible sulky teenage-esque attitude and behavior, of course he is behaving perfectly, sitting next to me colouring nicely, while his sister sleeps peacefully in her room. You would look at this picture and think I have it all together, this is easy and I am creating this vision of a hard to deal with child when really, I have an angel.
But that is what it is like.
Most days, in fact probably 80-90% of the time, I have this angel. A beautiful boy who uses his manners, who does what he is told, who is a good helper, who plays nicely with his sister and is happy.
Then there is the other 10-20% of the time, it’s amazing how this small amount of time can cloud a whole day of beautiful behavior, but it does. This 10-20% has led me to say things like “this is my least favourite part” and “I don’t know what to do anymore”. Where I usually have a boy who uses his manners I now have one who yells “NO!” and tells me his manners were given to another little boy at preschool. Where I usually have a happy little boy, I have one who tells me he is sad and annoyed at everything and there is nothing I can do about it, I have a child who tells me he doesn’t like me under his breath and who thinks my cooking is yuck (these are the ones that hurt the most). A child who cracks it any time we try to go anywhere, then when we do get somewhere he spends the first fifteen minutes sulking, turns out to realise wherever we have gone is not that bad, and then cracks it to an even greater extent when we leave. It makes becoming housebound seem oh so appealing, but anyone who has spent a few days housebound with two children under three knows that is not the best option for anyone.

The thing that we probably didn’t think too much about when having our children so close together was the fact that we will get through each hard part with one child only to have that exact part following close behind with the next child. In some ways it is good, meet the time of adversity fresh and prepared, knowing that it is all just a phase, a phase that is not full-time and a phase that, in the scheme of things, doesn’t last that long. But on the days where we are really being pushed it makes us wonder what on earth we were thinking in having three children under four.

Fortunately, I think we are at the back-end of this phase. The difficult toddler fights are around less and less, and Leo is returning to his sweet normal self, who causes me to google less and enjoy him more. We still have our moments. I am practicing new tactics of dealing with tantrums, they don’t bother me nearly as much as they once did and in the moments they do bother me, I remind myself of the time Leo came home from preschool, ran to the kitchen and yelled excitedly “Yay! You bought weetbix! And milk! You replenished everything! This is the best day EVER!” No adult would ever react to me getting groceries like that, and it’s one of the many reasons, that even in their really difficult and testing moments, three-year olds are still the best thing to happen to any household.

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