Birth Story: Smushface

After Nookie’s birth I vowed next time would be different: this time I would be prepared. I would have a home birth, and I would be in control! I did my research… boy did I do my research. I read book after book, article after article, devouring information on natural pain relief methods, coping with contractions, etc. I don’t think I could have been more prepared.

As my due date came and went I started to get impatient. I knew enough about induction to know I wasn’t being induced, and would just have to be patient. Thankfully my midwife respected my wishes. I was tortured by twinge after twinge: night after night of Braxton-Hicks contractions that would build and build and then slow down and stop. But I waited…

Finally on the morning of 26th October, at about 1.30am, a week after my due date, I awoke to the sensation of leaking waters. I knew this was it. I leapt out of bed, into the bathroom, and proceeded to stand there while my waters gushed. I couldn’t get out the bathroom for about ten minutes! Finally I woke my partner and he started to get things ready: filling the pool, laying tarpaulin, etc. I called my best friend, who would be attending to take care of Nookie as she wanted to see her sister born, and then called the midwives, who advised me to ring again in an hour when I started having contractions. Two minutes after I got off the phone my contractions started in earnest: about five minutes apart. I rung them back and they set off straight away.

In the meantime I ate a cereal bar, started drinking isotonic drinks, and walked about. When a contraction came I would lean over a chair and breathe through it. They were no where near as painful as I remembered from having Nookie! I felt calm and in control. It never even occurred to me to ask for pain relief when the midwives arrived. I’d been determined to do without it anyway, but even if I hadn’t I really didn’t feel it was necessary.

When the midwives arrived I was examined and said to be 3cm dilated. By now the contractions were about three minutes apart and building in intensity. My friend Tanya woke Nookie and she came down to watch the action with interest, in between watching cartoons. I continued to walk about, leaning on the chair when I needed to. Unfortunately the birthing pool ended up not being used. Because the water pressure from the hot tap wasn’t very strong, Hedgehog had filled it from the cold water tap and was topping it up with boiling water from the kettle to bring the temperature up. It never got high enough for me to get in! Three hours after my waters had broken I started getting a lot of pressure and the urge to push, but I was kind of in denial. I took myself off to the shower to cool down, but almost immediately I had another huge contraction with a strong pushing urge and knew this was it! I got straight back out of the shower, told the midwives the baby was coming, and we set up on the sofa so my baby could be born.

I was on my hands and knees, leaning over the chair arm. Hedgehog sat in front of me and held my hands. As the contractions came I bore down, followed my instincts, and went with the rushes. I wouldn’t say I really strained or pushed as such at first, but more tried to relax my body and let the contractions do their work. Nookie and Tanya watched the whole thing. Nookie was fascinated. I don’t remember hitting transition or anything like that. I had no doubts in my mind that I could do this. I just relaxed, stayed calm, and kept reassuring myself that I could do this… that my body could do it’s work.

It hurt of course. But I knew this bit would be over soon and I would have my baby in my arms. Again, it never occurred to me to ask for pain relief. I couldn’t really ask for anything at this point. I was very focused… in a world of my own, not really taking notice of what was going on around me. In between contractions I kept drinking, and letting my body rest. Finally I couldn’t help but push and with just a handful of really strong contractions and pushes, I welcomed my daughter into the world. She was born at exactly 5am: the second stage had lasted thirty minutes. She appeared there in front of me, and I lifted her myself and hugged her tightly. I’d done it! Me. I’ve never been so proud in my life.

We delayed cord clamping, and forty-five minutes later I pushed out the placenta with a little bit of assistance from the midwife. I laid there the whole time with my daughter in my arms, and breastfed her as much as she would take. She looked around at the world. Her beautiful eyes. Nookie was absorbed by her.

When Nookie was born I distinctly remember an immediate fierce love for her, like my whole life suddenly had meaning. I didn’t get that this time. It was a softer, gentler type of knowing that I loved this little person, just as much as I love Nookie. There was no momentous change in perspective: just the knowledge that I had my baby and I loved her.

Smushface was 9lb 2 ounces. I had no tears or damage to my perineum at all, despite her big size. This birth couldn’t have been more different to Nookie’s, and I’m so glad I did it my way. I feel like I could conquer the world now!



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Welcome to the World!!!

Ladies and Gentlemen… can I introduce you to my new daughter (who will henceforth be referred to as “Smushface” – Nookie’s pet name for her). 9lb 2 ounces of joy. Isn’t she beautiful?! She was born one week ago today, at home as planned. It was one of the greatest moments of my life.

(She looks exactly like Nookie when she was a baby, except has brown hair!)

I’ll post the birth story shortly, but for now I’ll just say it was an extremely joyful occasion. It’s been a rough week since she was born though. When she was three days old she was diagnosed with jaundice and we had to spend a very miserable and stressful 36 hours in hospital so she could have photo-therapy. Nookie was very upset at being separated from us, and now freaks out when the midwife visits, as though someone is going to take her mummy and baby sister away again. She was a little traumatised by watching her sister have a blood test too.. she really loves her baby sister and is very protective of her.

Also, I now appear to have developed mastitis. Smushface isn’t as much of a boobie-monster as Nookie was, and doesn’t feed anywhere near enough to drain my engorged breasts. I think I’m producing enough milk to feed a whole army! I keep expressing to take the edge off, but it’s not enough. My breasts are extremely painful. I’ll see how I go over the next 24 hours and then go to see the doctor tomorrow if necessary.

So yeh, ups and downs. The challenge of having another small person to take care of is a little overwhelming, but Nookie is being as patient and understanding as she’s able (and she’s being great!). She doesn’t seem at all jealous of her baby sister, but still resents having to wait sometimes whilst I’m feeding her. I guess that’s something we’ll all have to adjust to.

Sister snuggles

Sister snuggles


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This Pregnancy: The Final Stretch

I’m now 36 weeks pregnant. Phew. I’ve made it to the very last bit… not too much longer to wait. In a few days I’ll officially be classed as full-term and able to look forward to my home birth. Yippee!

I’m so excited to have this baby. So excited to labour in my own home, with Nookie there, in my own way. To see if I have the strength to give birth without intervention, naturally. I feel like it’s something I just have to do. I can’t wait.

All is set now. The obstetrician, despite reservations and expressing his disapproval of home birth in general, and in my case in particular, has grudgingly given me his support. The midwife came out yesterday to do my home visit and go through my birth plan. She’s dropping off the box of her supplies within the next few days. We’re nearly there.

And I can’t wait to get this baby out! I’m fed up of being in pain and tired. My pelvis and back pretty much permanently hurt now, and doing anything at all is getting to be a chore. I know it’s my last pregnancy and I should be savouring these last few weeks, but honestly, I’ll be glad when it’s over. Being pregnant is not fun. Yes, feeling the baby moving inside is magical, and I will miss that. But being permanently uncomfortable and sore just sucks. It’s a means to an end. I’m not one of those women who enjoys being pregnant. To me, having my child in my arms is the point. And for that I’d go through just about anything. :)

36 weeks pregnant

36 weeks pregnant

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Letters to Littles, September 2014

Dear Nookie

You recently turned four. FOUR! How did the time fly by so quickly?! And oh my what a mature, compassionate, kind person you are. Everyone who knows you remarks on how polite and helpful you are. When your younger friends need help or are running off you’re right there offering a helping hand or helping to bring them back. You’re a delightful, trustworthy child. I couldn’t ask for more.

You still have your moments. There are still hard days. You’re still demanding at times and try my patience. But you’re four. That’s okay. I’m not expecting miracles. I know you still struggle to manage big emotions and understand the world. But generally you amaze me with your understanding, patience and caring attitude.

A while ago one of my friends commented that the toddler she knew has grown up and that you’re such a joy to be around. She’s right. When we’re out and about I know I can trust you not to run off. In the shops you’ll help me with the shopping, and can be trusted to go get something I’ve forgotten by yourself. Your maturity is astounding. Today I said to you that I don’t want you to grow up; that I want you to be four forever. You looked at me with such sympathy and understanding and said “but I will grow up mummy. It’s okay.” How you melt my heart.

And in a few weeks you’ll have a baby sister. You’re so excited. Every day you talk about “smush-face”, as you’ve nicknamed her, with such joy. You promise me you’ll help me to take care of her and talk about the games you’ll play together when she’s old enough. I’m glad we had these four years together without another child. And in a way I feel truly sad that I’ll have to share my attention with another. I’ll miss it just being you, me and daddy. I’m crying just writing that. But I know when the baby comes I’ll feel differently. And I know how much you’ll love having a little sister. I bet you’ll be an amazing big sister!

As for what you love at this age, nothing has really changed. You still love to climb and run. You still love zombies and monsters. You love to watch Halloween make-up tutorials on YouTube and practice on yourself and others. You love Scooby Doo and Spongebob Squarepants. You love theme parks and fairground rides. You prefer to be naked. You still eat a diet largely consisting of crisps and chocolate. Ha ha. And you still need to be in my presence 24 hours a day. Which is tough sometimes. But to be honest I feel lost without you too, so I don’t mind too much.

Don’t ever change my darling. Continue to be a free spirit. Challenge me and make me grow. Live life passionately and follow your dreams. I’m with you every step of the way, basking in your presence.

I love you


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Seriously, Just Be Quiet

One of the most valuable parenting skills I’ve learned is actually one of the simplest you could imagine. You wanna know what it is? Keeping my mouth shut. This one action has proved so valuable in so many situations. Let me explain.

Today Nookie and I were at a play centre. They had these trays of that squishy jelly stuff with a load of various animal toys in there, as well as spades, funnels, etc. I sat and watched her play in silence for quite some time, only joining in her various games when she wanted me to. Otherwise I just watched her (as I’d been asked to). Then another little girl came along to play. The difference between her mother’s parenting style and mine was immediately apparent. But I was most amazed by the amount she interfered in her child’s play!

Every few seconds she was trying to redirect her play in some way. Asking her questions about which animals were in the tray, which colours she was using, trying to get her to play some other thing to what she was. I found it quite bizarre and amazing. Why the need to constantly quiz?! Why not just sit and watch your child play? Observe the ways they’re learning and figuring out for themselves? Your child will learn the names of animals. There’s no need to constantly quiz them! Just let them get on with it.

Silence has it’s other uses. Quite often Nookie has done something to annoy me and just taking a few seconds of keeping my mouth shut, rather than being reactionary, has helped me to have a quiet word with myself, establish what’s actually going on, and think of a better solution than shouting or getting angry.

There’s also all the times where she’s trying to figure something out and I’ve been tempted to step in, but instead have chosen to remain silent and let her figure it out for herself.

Talk to your children. Have conversations with them all the time. Interact with them and wonder with them. But please, parents, learn too when to keep your mouth shut! Sometimes being quiet really is the best thing you can do.

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