Monday, 31 March 2014


Very soon after the delivery of the placenta we were left on our own until around 8am when the new midwife was on shift.

The midwife (Sue) who had been with me through labour was fantastic. She said that she used to be a community midwife and had realised that I’d wanted a similar environment to the homebirths she had done, based on wanting to be on the floor with mood lighting. She was very intuitive and I made sure to thank her as she made it such a good experience for me. She said that I’d make the perfect candidate for a home birth.

Shall I think about a home birth for our next baby? I think I was calmer once I got to hospital knowing that I had all of the medical help there if required. As much as it would have been nice to save travelling to and from hospital, it just felt right to be there and probably saved a bit of a clean-up at home too! I was very lucky to have my own room and no time on a ward, so perhaps had I been in hospital for longer a homebirth would be tempting.

The next midwife came in and was a little more of the overly sweet, patronising kind – I’m so glad I didn’t have her for the delivery! She said that I could go by 11am providing I could pee and the baby was fine. I got up almost immediately to pee, determined not to go on to the ward! I then just had to wait for the doctor to check Hugo. They also had to check his blood group from the cord as I am O- blood type. He was O+ so I had to have another injection.

Mum and Dad had left shortly after the delivery to go back to ours to sleep and Adi’s parents popped over to meet Hugo. I spent time trying to feed him and had the F.A.B. breastfeeding 'angel's' advice and guidance to help. There was no signal so Adi left the room a few times to update family, but I couldn’t get in touch with anyone which felt odd!

It took a long time for a doctor to examine Hugo and she also asked for a 2nd opinion on his heart so we weren't done until about 2pm. By lunch my sister was with us, having driven straight up from London. Hugo also did his first poo which was incredible! When they say ‘tar-like’ they aren’t kidding!

Just as we were able to go, we realised that the car seats straps were too short. It took Adi and Layla two degrees, Google, an instruction booklet and about half an hour to figure it out! It was a good job Layla was with us as she figured it out in the end.

As far as births go I had an 'easy birth' however I have told Adi that he can't say that, as it's still giving birth and called labour for a reason! In Adi's words I 'nailed it'.

I honestly believe that you can help yourself. I remained calm and went into my own zone, ignoring my surroundings and trying to focus on managing the pain. I tried not to panic or get stressed and I followed my body's lead.

Before I left hospital I already knew I’d go through it again, it’s amazing how hormones and a baby at the end of it make you forget the pain.

my birth story

For some reason I seem to enjoy going over the birth in my head and aloud to anyone who shows the slightest bit of interest. I think it's part of my body's way of coming to terms with the huge ordeal and reflecting on what it's just been through.

I may regret this post, but for now I've decided that writing everything down may help me to prepare for future births and for my friends and others to have a true step by step account of what I consider to be the best possible birth I could've hoped for.

I would certainly not consider myself an 'earth mother', however I do feel that going with nature makes sense. On the other hand, I also think evolution is wonderful and we as humans have made things easier and safer for ourselves, so it would be silly to (as an example) turn down medical help, just as it would be to turn down pain relief if I felt I needed it. 

The birth 'plan'
The more research I did prior to childbirth, through NCT classes, reading and watching One Born Every Minute, the more I realised that the best way to handle it was to not have a birth 'plan' but a birth 'wish list' and for Adi to be aware of it, so that he would be able to manage the situation and allow me to get in the zone and focus on labour.

It went something like this:
- to stay at home until it's recommended to go into hospital when contractions are 5cm apart
- to make myself comfortable at home, using the bed and having a bath
- to try to cope on Gas and Air, avoiding drugs that transfer to the baby and an epidural so that I am able to push instinctively
- to have a water birth to ease the pain and have a calming affect on me and the baby
- to push on all fours, to work with gravity and be close to the floor, rather than on my back on a bed
- to opt for the injection to release the placenta - the only part of modern intervention that I felt made sense as it reduces the risk of infection and allow me to bond better with the baby immediately
- to dim the lights and be in a darkened room without invasive and migraine inducing hospital lighting
- to be cool, using a wet flannel, water spray and fan
- for the midwife to talk as little as possible and for Adi to be assertive if the midwife was frustrating me!
- to have the option of my mum in the room, but not if it didn't feel right
- if something happened that meant that the baby and I had to be separated, for Adi to stay with baby and for mum to stay with me
- to have skin on skin ASAP after the birth and to try feeding as soon as possible

The birth 

Stage one
4pm, Friday 21st March: The contractions I'd been feeling over the previous few days were now strong enough and low enough for me to begin timing them. I was sure things were progressing and had joked with family that he would be born on the 22nd (the date of my dad and brothers birthday's). My body must have known, as my thoughts were different to all of the false alarms and thoughts that I'd had previously, I was more certain. The contractions stopped after a couple of hours, but I was still sure things were moving in the right direction.

7pm: Adi and I set off to his parents for fish and chips.

7.06pm: I felt a fairly strong contraction in the car unlike those I'd felt over the previous couple of days. Instinctively I knew that was the start and put it in my contraction timer app.

7.45pm: I felt the next contraction at Adi's parents, from this point onwards they began to come faster, but sporadic, between 30 minutes and 10 minutes apart. They weren't painful but they would stop me in my tracks and I had to stand up to walk around during one or two. 

21.25pm: We left Adi's parents and I called my mum and dad to let them know that things had started.

10.15pm: I had a bath and contractions continued but were slowing down.

11.30pm: I called the hospital to tell them that contractions were every 6-10 minutes apart, they told me to take paracetamol and wait until they were 3cm apart to go to hospital. As we'd always been told to wait until 5 minutes apart this was added stress for both Adi and I, as we were unsure when exactly to go in. The midwife said to have a bath and take paracetamol. 

11.35pm: We rang my parents to tell them that it was definitely labour so that they could set off. We decided that they should both come and could sleep in the spare room should the labour slow down.

12pm: Adi put the tens machine on me to try and relieve the pain of contractions and have it on for when they got more painful. It made no difference whatsoever and so we took it off a while later. 

1.30am: My parents arrived. We all decided to go upstairs to try and sleep in-between contractions.

2am: As soon as my head hit the pillow the contractions began to get unbearable. I was shaking uncontrollably and rolling around the bed. Adi had to start counting through each contractions for me, which really helped me to focus on getting through one at a time and knowing that the pain wasn't going to last much longer.

2.14am: I rang the hospital again to ask to go in as I was really struggling, but they said not to go until contractions were closer together or if my waters had broke (which I didn't think had). At that point they were sporadic, but between 5 and 10 mins apart. At this point I had a couple of paracetamol.

Almost as soon as I'd got off the phone they started coming faster and were between 4 and 5 minutes apart. I should have used my instincts but as the midwife had said not to go in I didn't. I also lost track of the timings because I was focused on just getting through each contraction.

3am: Contractions had been 4 minutes apart from the previous phone call and I'd just had one 2 minutes from the last. I went to the loo and had a tiny bit of blood on the tissue. I shouted to Adi that it was time to go and the next contraction came after 2 minues again.

*Just a reminder that Adi was still counting up to 60 during every contraction! Sometimes it didn't feel like they were coming to an end quick enough, so I'd count quicker and at one point it got up to 78 seconds. I just waved my arm as a signal or grunted for him to start and stop - speech wasn't easy at this point.

3.22am: It had taken us some time to get me into the car and comfortable. I called the hospital from the car, having set off a couple of minutes earlier. Dad was in the back of our car ready to take me in while Adi parked and mum was in her own car following.

3.33am: We arrived at the hospital and I stopped timing the contractions on my app. They were still approximately every 2 minutes.

the last contractions on my app
Adi dropped us off at the main entrance and went to park. Dad walked me up to the labour ward. That walk felt like miles, there were no wheelchairs available, no one on reception and I'd never been to the labour suite before. Luckily a nurse was returning from her break and was able to guide us. I had to stop walking for each contraction and get as close to the floor as possible, which I knew was a sign that things were quite far along. 

When we got into the labour reception I was put in a wheelchair and taken to be examined. Dad left the room and Adi arrived just after. Mum also came in but in no uncertain terms I shouted 'get out' - I obviously hadn't completely lost my dignity at that point!

I was straight away given gas and air which was the first real relief I'd felt. I definitely could have used that earlier, in hindsight waiting until contractions were 2 minutes apart was too long, but I was determined to follow the advice of the midwife and not arrive at the hospital too soon.

The midwife examined me and said that I was 8cm and my waters had broken (which is a mystery!). I said 'thank fuck' as I knew I hadn't got much more to go and felt like it was coming to an end!

I asked for a water birth but was told that the pool hadn't been cleaned from the previous birth. Instead they ran me a bath. Mum said that the midwife didn't even check to see if the pool was ready as I was too far along at that point and almost ready to push. 

They also asked about pain relief but I said if I'd managed to get to 8cm without anything, I felt able to cope on gas and air for the birth. Soon after I got up to say I needed the loo but the midwife said that was a sign that I needed to start pushing.

Stage two
Adi asked for the lights to be dimmed and I asked to be on all fours. The midwife set up the matt and beanbag on the floor. Adi was at my head with a flannel to cool me down and the midwife sat quietly behind me, occassionally using the Doppler to check the babies heart and talking if I needed to know something. She said to just go with what my body was telling me. 

When the pushing stage started she asked me not to use the gas and air and forewarned me that it would burn. Although it was burning, it was almost a relief that I could push and the pain had changed. 

I was now using the flannel as a bit in my mouth to scream in to and grabbing the beanbag to try and hold on to something. I also held one leg in the air (like a dog peeing) as it felt like I was opening as wide as I could and helping the baby out. Adi helped hold my leg up at one point and was almost covered in mucus (quickly wiped away by the nurse!) I also asked him to tie my hair back but that was a bit too much for him (!) - it did prove useful to hold on to it though. 

I was much louder than I'd imagined, screaming deeply with animalistic sounds. I went into a completely instinctive state to scream out the pain.

There were points that I didn't feel able to cope much more, but the midwife was encouraging as she could see the baby's head (she mentioned dark hair) and had told me not to panic when she could see me starting to lose it which snapped me back into focus.

At 5.02am the baby's head was out, the next few seconds felt like an eternity, until my next contraction where I was able to push his body was finally out at 5.03am.
skin to skin immediately after the birth
Stage three
The baby was laid in-between my legs, on one side, slightly bluefish in colour. There was no noise until the midwife had removed the cord that was around his neck and even then only a tiny whimpery cry.

At that point I just wanted to be on the bed with the cord gone and have skin on skin contact with the baby. It felt odd having the cord dangling in-between my legs. Adi didn't want to cut the cord and nor did I so we asked the midwife to cut it and help me on to the bed with baby.

The delivery of the placenta was almost as difficult as the birth. I used gas and air to get through it, which took the midwife some time as it didn't want to detach. I'm so glad I had the injection to remove it when I did, it allowed me to breath a sigh of relief, hold my baby and be left in peace for some time.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

what a difference a day makes

I started writing this last week but didn't get around to posting it. Lots has happened since then so it now seems insignificant, but it was the last day spent with mum before becoming a mum myself, and one I want to remember.

Wednesday should have been a shit day. It set itself up to be. I was awake from 4am, incredibly tired and frustrated with another dull, lonely day ahead of me. The night before Adi and I were sure labour was imminent. We'd been for a walk, played on the swings, had a curry and contractions were starting. I felt like my waters broke on the loo at 4am and timed contractions that were getting closer together through until the morning.

It turned out to be nothing.

I had to stay awake for a midwife appointment which was another frustration. The girl before me went into labour (my insides were crying why wasn't that me!!) which meant I didn't see my own midwife and had to wait a long time for another to arrive. It was a frantic appointment with four people in the room and I was given vague dates for sweeps and inductions which was making them seem more of a possibility. With the lack of sleep I was just frustrated and wanting the baby to come!

It's amazing how you can battle through tiredness and turn things around if you choose to. I'd chatted to my mum in the morning to keep her in the loop that I thought things may be starting, but at about that time things ground to a halt and I realised that it was fuss over nothing. Mum decided to come up to see me after work anyway and I'm so glad she did. She can always sense when I'm in need of perking up.

We went to the cafe in my village (which is entitled to it's own post soon as it's basically the reason why I'm living here) for a late lunch, cake and a chat before heading to a park in the next town to us. It was my first visit to Springfield Park in Rothwell and it will be a great place to go with bump. It has a massive play area, tennis courts, picnic benches, exotic birds, a stream that we can play Pooh Sticks in, a garden area and it's pretty expansive - we only covered a tiny bit of it. Although we're living in countryside, I love parks and it's one of the things I miss about London. My closest park was Brockwell and this one reminded me of it with the hill and gardens.

We had a walk and some time on the swings before picking up some essentials from the high street, a couple of books for bump from a charity shop and some daffodils. Although it wasn't the first day of Spring, it really felt like it with the scent of blossom, flowers in bloom, sunshine and a refreshing (okay pretty windy) breeze.

We finished our day with a nap before Adi came home. It felt so good to tuck up and nap because I'd actually warranted one, rather than just napping for napping's sake.

Adi and I headed over to friends for the evening, it's great to be able to pop over now we're only 20mins away and rounded off a perfect day.

Sometimes you have to force yourself out to enjoy some simple pleasures and get those endorphins flowing. Thanks mum x

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

final weeks as two heartbeats

Yesterday was supposedly my due date. Although only 5% of babies are born on this day it's still a very odd feeling to count down to something for 40 weeks for absolutely nothing to happen!

I finished work a month ago. Had I not been moving into a new house in a new city I would've worked longer, but that said, the tiredness in pregnancy has been like nothing I've experienced before and I think my body has appreciated a rest. I've had the house to focus on which made the first few weeks go by very quickly, but I'm starting to get a little fed up, rattling around in the house on my own.

I had wonderful ideas of spending this time putting together photo albums, sorting through music, reading, watching box sets such as breaking bad, getting crafty with leftover fabric, exploring my new area, baking and generally being productive, but endless episodes of Kirstie and Phil's house programmes, afternoon naps and sorting the house/ cleaning (?!) have been more the reality. 

My current state of mind is being in limbo. I don't feel able to go more than half an hour from home just in case these Braxton Hicks contractions turn into the real deal and I'm not venturing out much, if at all on my own. For the last couple of weeks I have thought everything is a sign. I'm constantly googling what something could mean. This means that every night I'm sure labour will start because of a 'sign' I've had, so every morning I wake with disappointment that I'm not in pain or in a pool of 'water'! On the upside I'm quickly able to remind myself that I've had another good nights sleep, something which I'm told will soon be a distant memory.

I'm not too worried about trying to induce labour, but the sooner he arrives the smaller he will be and induction isn't as appealing because I'd like the most natural birth possible. I'm also ready to just get on with it and let the baby teach me what I need to know rather than thinking too much about what I should know! Contractions have been much stronger over the last week and I've had a few crampy feelings similar to period pains, so with any luck he won't be too much longer.. 

Sunday, 16 March 2014

soaking up the skies

I can never get enough of a beautiful sunset. Because they don't last, they set my heart racing and I just want to drink them up before they go. When I'm away, finding the perfect location to watch the sun go down is always a must.

Over the last two evenings from my living room and bedroom I've been able to view the most amazing red skies over the treetops. The view may not be quite as spectacular as some locations, but the positioning of our house means that there is a perfect gap where no houses sit to admire the view from the comfort of my bed or sofa. 

I'd love to capture a stunning sunset image to go in our bathroom, so I'll try to get out into the Yorkshire countryside at some point and get some tips from photographer friends. I particularly love the light shining through bare branches of trees, which reminds me of stencilling at school. 

For the time being, knowing that impending motherhood won't allow me to get out and about much in the evenings, I'm very happy to discover that I can soak up the skies from the comfort of home. 

Friday, 14 March 2014

maternity modelling

Adi's oldest friend Sam is a photographer in his spare time. He was keen to take some maternity shots to try out some new ideas on me, so came over a couple of weeks ago for the day with his lovely wife and kids in tow.

I have to say that the idea of getting my belly out isn't something I'm used to. Like my mum says, I've never had a flat stomach, even when I did a lot of dancing I always had a somewhat rotund belly. I think for that reason I decided to go for it, because I was actually proud of my bump and for once in my life didn't care what it looked like, just what was in it!

Sam set up a studio in our living room to begin with and we started with a few shots in casual clothes. I was pretty nervous to begin with, not helped with a new haircut that I wasn't too pleased with, but Sam has a way of making you laugh and putting you at ease.

Before I knew it I was walking about in one of Adi's shirts, with a boob tube as a skirt, climbing in to the loft in the search of an old tutu (inspired by a photo on pinterest). We had fun recreating some shots that we'd found and although I'm not one for props and gimmicks, some of them turned out to be my favourites.


After the indoor shots Adi returned from work and we went for a walk along the river near to our house to get some of us both. These are much more my normal style and will be a great memory of us enjoying the bump. Have a look at Sam's website for some more shots, I've also been informed that there will be more to come so watch this space!

It was a lovely day and great to spend time with friends who we didn't see much of while living down south. Not to mention the parenting lessons we learned on the day - it's safe to say I slept solidly that night!

birthday baking

For Adi's last two birthdays I baked him these chocolate cakes:

This year I didn't really feel up to baking and his mum kindly brought over a chocolate cake earlier in the week, so I decided to try and do a Monica. Adi loves flapjack, or in his words 'crunch'. His gran used to make crunchy flapjack, whereas I've been brought up on the chewy variety. I've always kept to my ways and made it how my mum does and how I like it, but being his birthday, I thought I'd try to work out how to make a crispy version more like his gran's, who is sadly no longer here to pass on her recipe and cooking wisdom.

A quick Google search suggested that it wasn't rocket science. All I had to do was use a shallow tray, put it on the top shelf rather than in the middle of the oven and bake for a bit longer. The cooling process should also be done in the tin rather than on the cooling rack.

I used the recipe from the Stork cookery book - a book that both my mum and nanna use and the way baking is done in our family - with margarine rather than butter and an extra dollop of golden syrup for good measure.

I was pleasantly surprised with the outcome from my first attempt. I came downstairs today and Adi had already sneakily tried a bit and said that it was great and a better attempt than his mum's (sorry Bev). He even insisted I leave the crumbly bits from the tin that he was picking at.

I'm not going to leave it there and will try to work out how to get it even closer to his gran's, I'm thinking she probably used butter so that may be a start. If you have any suggestions or recipes let me know!

*If you're thinking of trying crispy flapjack a word of advice, ensure the tray is very well greased and that you cut well around the sides before cooling. I had to resort to a pizza cutter to get it out of the tin at the sides which I don't think my tray is best pleased about.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

nine long months

Each stage of pregnancy soon made me forget the last and as the bump could be making an arrival any day now, I want to write down some memories from the experience so that I don't forget them.

The decision to have a baby when we did was one of the most unplanned, yet planned things I've ever done. We were living with parents, I was in a contract job, Adi was commuting from Notts to London and we barely saw much of each other. I'm not usually a risk taker, but we decided to go for it anyway and hadn't imagined it would happen quite as quickly as it did!

The picture above was in the very early days before everyone knew. I'm not sure I feel like I've bonded with the baby yet and don't think I will until he's here, but it made me feel an even closer bond with Adi immediately.

Some of the highlights:
  • Telling friends and family, in particular my parents as they will be grandparents for the first time and my mum is an overly-excitable person!
  • Seeing the baby on the monitor during scans, realising he had boys bits and hearing his heartbeat, it's so magical, freaky, special and scary all rolled together.
  • Finding that I wasn't the massive mamma to be I thought I would be (until the last two weeks anyway)!
  • Feeling the bump kick and move. The best moment was when he moved in response to Adi's rendition of 'In The Jungle' from the Lion King. We're yet to figure out if he was kicking him away or kicking along. Mumford and Sons also seemed to be a favourite, I wonder if that'll be the same when he hears it outside of the womb!
  • Dylan's bond with me and the bump.
  • Choosing a name, it's such an important decision but Adi and I agreed on a name very quickly which helped turn the bump into a little person inside of me.
  • Generous hand-me-downs/ purchase bargains so that I haven't had to splash out too much.
  • Pregnancy jeans, they are the comfiest things ever. I hope I can continue to wear mine for some time to come..
Some of the harder bits:
  • Sore boobs - although I doubt that was anything in comparison to breastfeeding - I'll wait and see.
  • Nausea and sickness, 17 weeks of it to be precise (although half a stone weight loss was worrying at the time, it turned out to be a pleasant upside).
  • Back ache, with a physically demanding time at work and a house move rolled in with it.
  • Heartburn, gas, belching and burping!
  • Pelvic pain, turning over in bed becomes an ordeal and you would not believe how often in life you need to stand on one leg. 
  • Increased hormones making job-changes and house purchases even more stressful.
  • Shopping for a nursing bra. Seriously, if the Department for Health would like to encourage more people to breastfeed, working with bra manufacturers would be a good start. I managed to find this one in Bravissimo which the model pulls off, but the bra works with, instead of against gravity, as well as stretching you out sideways, so the look on me is somewhat different. 
I'll wrap up, apparently 9 months is a very long time for one post. All in all I've had a pretty smooth ride. At the time the nausea was horrendous but I've been very lucky.

turning point

Life is currently at a turning point.

I'm 39 weeks + 3 days pregnant. Last year I made a massive decision to leave a life I loved in London so that we could buy a house and settle to have children nearer my family in Nottingham. Yet I'm currently sat in my new house in a village just outside of Leeds, feeling somewhat overwhelmed and in limbo, far away from friends, my favourite city of London and not quite on the doorstep of my family. This was never in my plan and planning is in my bones, but I've come to realise that you have to just go with life and wherever it takes you.

I've decided to write a blog so that I have a space for me. I know that in the next few days or weeks, I'll not just be Sasha any more, I'll be a mum and my identity will therefore change. I'm often a grass is greener kind of girl, but I hope writing helps me to reflect on my own life and ensure I remember the things that make me happy.

So here's to my new life and living each day a little fuller.

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