Birth Story Of The Week – Gillian and Eliza

Hope you all had a great Bank Holiday weekend, the sunshine kept on shining and today is my first day back at work after having a delightful 10 days off. I haven’t missed my pager but I have missed seeing my women and lovely colleagues. Being at home with both the girls has made me realise how bloody hard it is. Kudos to all you stay at home Mamas, there were some days where I thought ‘I’d rather be at work’ but as we all got use to lazy mornings in our pj’s I started to see what great little girls they are turning out to be. And as their age gap of 3 and a half years seems to be getting smaller, they really now played with each other. Something I haven’t noticed properly before; wonderful imaginary camping games, babies, hospitals, ballet lessons, schools, Sylvanians. You name it they played it. It was gorgeous to watch and made me realise how much they love each other.

Proud as punch

Proud as punch of these two

This weeks birth story come from Gillian who writes the great parenting website A baby on board . Funnily enough Gillian gave birth in the same hospital where I work. Here she shares her story.

Blog: A Baby on Board

Twiiter: gill_crawshaw

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“I received such amazing care from midwives, both in the hospital (despite it being incredibly busy) and from the community midwife team at my doctors surgery (who came out to our house for three weeks after we’d taken Eliza home from the hospital). I’m lucky that I had access to such great care, as I know that so many people aren’t so fortunate.

I have to tell you; you’re already 10 cm dilated, and your baby will be here before your epidural. You are going to have to deliver her without it,” the midwife said to me to my horror, mere minutes after we finally made it to a delivery room. “Now, do you feel ready to push?’

But before we move on to Eliza’s imminent – and unexpectedly speedy – arrival, let’s rewind back to the start. It actually began with a false start, on my due date, with an induction that progressed as far as the King’s College Hospital labour ward waiting room. At this point I’d had two sweeps and everyone was convinced I’d spontaneously go into labour. But she stayed stubbornly put, so we went in for an induction as planned – but were then sent straight home due to an unprecedented south London baby boom meaning there were no free beds. “You didn’t expect to actually have a baby on your due date did you?” a midwife said wryly.

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The next day we were back, although I was convinced we’d be turned away again, right up until Alex and I were ushered into one of the beds in the induction bay. After monitoring, they gave me the induction drugs via propess and told us to expect a long wait as nothing was likely to happen for at least 24 hours.

Yet the early evening dinner brought with it back-ache and stomach cramps. “Sounds promising!” said a midwife when I mentioned it, although she was soon contradicted by the doctor, who said it was too soon to be anything more than pre-labour pains and Braxton Hicks.

The pain quickly got so bad that I couldn’t get comfortable at all, and nothing – lying down, walking, my long-practised labour breathing – seemed to help. Alex tried using the contraction timing app we’d downloaded, but as there was no start or end point to the pain, we figured I couldn’t possibly be in labour. Wrong, wrong, wrong, as it turned out.

The midwife gave me some paracetamol and hooked me up to the monitor; the delivery ward was still so busy that she was needed elsewhere and left us alone until midnight. After one look at the monitor printout she called the doctor back, as it turned out that the pain was actually off-the-scale back-to-back contractions with no gap in between, and I was now 3cm dilated.

We all had a laugh about how I was a ‘difficult’ patient, as the doctor said that due to the method of induction they wouldn’t have expected anything to happen until morning. It stopped being quite so funny when she told me even though I was in so much pain I couldn’t have an epidural until I was 4cm and a delivery room was free; however, they said they’d check me again in four hours and let me have gas and air. This really helped, and encouraged by the tantalising promise of imminent proper pain relief, I lay on the bed feeling blissfully relaxed. Alex even had a brief amount of sleep on a special ‘dad mat’ on the floor.

This didn’t last long. At about 2am I realised that I was no longer feeling any relief from the gas and air and the constant pain was getting worse. There were still two hours to wait until my next examination, but the midwife reluctantly checked me, and was as surprised as we were to find that I’d actually dilated to 6cm.

Epidural time, at last! However, at that point there were still no available labour rooms as the hospital was so busy, so we had to wait. By the time they moved someone out of a room – one of the longest hours of my life later – I was pretty convinced I was going to give birth then and there, on the induction ward, with three other women in the beds around me (sorry! to these women, I was you a few months earlier).

As they finally pushed my bed down the corridor I started feeling the most intense physical pressure, and my body started automatically pushing. My waters broke in dramatic fashion as we got to the room, and I was pretty sure this didn’t bode well for any more pain relief. I was right; the doctor swiftly checked me again and it turned out I’d gone from 6cm to 10cm in an hour and would just have to get on with it.

So push I did. I was so focused on getting the baby out that I don’t remember this part being anywhere near as painful as the lead-up (even though they took the gas and air off me, to my absolute horror). Pushing took either five minutes or five hours in my head; Alex says it was more like half an hour. Towards the end the midwife was concerned as the baby’s heartbeat kept dropping off the monitor and she calmly instructed me to “get this baby out NOW.” So just before 4am I gave the final push, and, with both hands by her face, out flew Eliza.

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It’s funny, I had planned and prepared so much in the weeks leading up to the birth; all the usual first time mum worry about random things like what to wear and what songs would go on my pushing playlist. However, when it came down to it I didn’t even get the chance to change out of the stripy top that I went into the hospital in, and she was born to the sound of Magic FM on the radio.

My first thoughts on seeing Eliza were surprise at the amount of hair she had, and how beautiful her tiny face was. I cried when I first held her, and one thing I clearly remember is that Elton John’s ‘Your Song’ was playing at the time, the words of which seemed fittingly perfect for such a life-changing moment.

There was a medium amount of post-birth drama; I’d lost a worrying amount of blood, there were some placenta issues, and then there was all the fun of stitches. However this was all sorted eventually and the hospital midwife left us while we waited for my community midwife to take over (she was actually supposed to deliver the baby, but as it had all happened so quickly there was no time).

So for a brief period it was just the three of us, alone in the moment. And while we held Eliza, Alex and I sat looking in complete awe and amazement at the baby we’d created.”

Birth Story of The Week – Charlotte and Lil

This is major, I’m on annual leave. The pager and work phone are both turned off and we’re going camping in a few days to Dorset. I’m not particularly into sleeping under canvas (excluding a good old festie) but there’s hot showers, electric sockets for hair dryers and iphone chargers and the weather forecast is looking good! I’ve just spent a great 4 days at my Mum’s who lives by the sea in Whitstable. The sun shone, Marnie loved the beach and I finally got to hang out with the amazing Charlotte and Lil. Charlotte writes the brilliant blog I’m Only Saying What You’re Thinking  and she is even better in real life. Especially after we devoured a bottle of red in the local tapas restaurant and almost wet ourselves laughing and forgetting that we are responsible Mamas over G&T’s. Ahem. Charlotte agreed (sober) that she would finally share her birth story and true to her word she did despite coming down with a cold. That girl is card core and she’s only 5ft 2. Respect!

Blog: onlysayingwhatyourethinking

Twitter: yesimcharlotte

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‘It’s been almost two and a half years now since I gave birth, although technically I’m probably not allowed to use that term, seeing as she didn’t actually come out of my vagina.

In my head, I thought she’d be early. Not dangerously early, just a week or two. My pregnancy wasn’t much fun so I wished the majority of it away. I was devastated to reach day seven past my due date. And then on day ten, they took my whinging arse in to induce me. But that kid would not shift.

After a few attempts at getting her out using drugs, my contractions finally started two days after I’d been admitted. The pain was bearable at first, like a wave of ouch every now and then. But soon after it all got a bit mental so I asked for the Pethidine. I waited patiently for it to kick in but nothing. So they whisked me round to the delivery suite to break my waters. I was all baby, which was a bit terrifying. I wondered how the hell I was supposed to push her out. The contractions were coming thick and fast and I was so tired that I just wanted the pain to go away. Not at all bothered about the thought of an epidural (I have a needle phobia), I asked the midwife to hit me up. Twenty minutes later, after keeping scarily still during a painful contraction while the anaesthetist inserted the needle in to my spine, I was swimming around the room (although not literally, you understand – I was paralysed from the waist down). I only knew I was having contractions by looking at the monitor. I cannot begin to explain how heavenly it felt, pushing that button to top up the pain relief. I was hooked.

After a while, the contractions started to get worryingly closer together and my baby’s heart rate was very fast so they gave me more drugs to slow them down. Seven hours after it all began, I was told that they were concerned as the baby’s heart rate showed no signs of slowing. I was six centimetres dilated and she’d got stuck. My hips might be wide but this kid wasn’t going anywhere. Time for a C-section, they said. From the moment they admitted me to hospital four days prior, I knew this was how the story was going to end. Call it Mother’s intuition. I was ready for sleep by the time they’d gowned up. I remember my husband telling me to stay awake and promising me a Mulberry bag (of course, I never got my ‘push’ present…). I just wanted to curl and snooze but before I knew it I heard a shrill scream.

At 4:12am on 7th April, they pulled her out of the cosy little nook she’d spent almost nine months in. She was not happy.  7lb 8oz of perfect, pink flesh. I don’t remember much after this, other than I was moved into a recovery room, given a shot of morphine (it tasted of vodka and blackcurrant), and nibbled on toast, which I violently threw back up. The midwife cleaned me up and passed me the little monster who had made my pregnancy hell. My first thought? ‘Oh fucking hell, now what?’.

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At the time, I was so high on drugs that I felt a bit like a robot. I didn’t feel or think much at all. My birth experience still feels so surreal but it’s only now I can see just how delicious it really was. As I write this, my two and a half year old naps beside me. And I wish, I wish so hard that I could be transported back to those mental few days, just so I could soak it all up again. Because although I didn’t think so then, those were the most amazing few days of my life.’

 

24 hours On Call

What a little flurry of excitement it has been since Monday morning! Having had a child free weekend recovering from my horrible mouth infection (which I spent mainly snoozing on the sofa and watching re runs of Friends episodes), I was all geared up for a full day back at work on being on call by myself. Not quite as full on as I had expected!

Monday 9am: Up, dressed, 2 kids dressed, 2 breakfasts gobbled, 2 pack lunches made, 2 drop offs and full of beans ready for what the day might bring. I spoke to one of my women who had been niggling (a midwife term meaning irregular contractions but not yet establishing) all weekend but no sign of baby. My other 2 colleagues were at the hospital handing over from a birth they had over night so I did a few antenatal visits then popped over to see my woman in early labour. After a cup of tea and a full midwives assessment, I found her to be 9cm dilated! A little surprising for us all but thrilling for her and her husband so plans were made to go to the local hospital and we bagged a room with a pool. 5 hours later there was no sign of baby and with my energy levels flagging my lovely colleague arrived to take over so I could go home to rest.

Monday 5pm: Kids home from holiday club and nursery, husband with a bad back, tea being made whilst my mind was thinking about my poor woman at hospital. Gobbled down a bowl of pasta pesto (essential carbs) and off I went back to the hospital to take over from my colleague for the night

Monday 7pm: Arrived back at the hospital to be met with the news that we were going to theatre for a ‘trial’, A trial means the doctors need to perform an assisted delivery (ventouse or forceps) but in theatre in case it doesn’t work they are in the right place to perform a caesarean section.

Monday 7:30pm: Baby Martha weighing a whopping 9lbs was born with a little assistance but not a caesarean thank goodness! Mum and Dad thrilled! Midwife thrilled but the night was still young.

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Monday 11:30pm: Pager goes off to notify me that one of our women is in labour. I finish my notes take my lady to the postnatal ward and gear up my energy for another labour. Glad I have carbs in my system! The labour in surprisingly quick but lots of ‘you can do its’ and ‘one more push and your baby will be here’. Phew I was wacked but looked forward to getting home and hitting my pillow. Sleep is most definitely not for the weak. When I’m on call I try to forget that my pager can alarm me at any moment and I put it on the other side of the room. Out of sight out of mind.

Tuesday 1:30am: I’m finally in bed, fast asleep.

Tuesday 4:09am: Pager goes off. I jolt up in bed. Takes me a few second to realise what this means. The pager message tells me one our women is in labour at home and needs me. Luckily it’s just around the corner, so I’m up dressed and in her bathroom by 4:20. She is in strong labour and this is her second baby so the birth is imminent. Her amazing husband finds towels, an old rug and plastic sheeting to protect the carpet. A second midwife arrives and by 5:30am a beautiful baby girl is born in the family bedroom. The morning light fills the room and tears of joy wept by all us soak our grinning cheeks as the woman cries ‘I did it’. Tea and Jaffa cakes are shared as we all embrace what an incredible job she has done and how lucky us midwives are to be have been part of it all. Granny and Grandpa arrive and the big brother awakes to great his new baby sister. It was really a perfect setting.

Tuesday 6:30am: My adrenaline starts to fade and the sheer exhaustion of the last 21 hours kicks in. With the family safely tucked up in bed, my colleague arrives on her bike to take the placenta away with her (yes really!) and I leave with my half empty delivery kit.

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Tuesday 07:30am: I’m back in my bed again and the girls are up and bouncing with excitement eager to hear all about my night. They love hearing about the baby catching Mummy has been doing. Eventually my husband (the unsung hero of this all) took them off to nursery and holiday club and with my eye patch and ear plugs firmly in place, I could finally go to sleep. But not without thinking of this moto brilliantly printed on a bag given to me as a present from one of my women.

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Birth Story Of The Week – Steph and Jonah

Urrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. Wisdom teeth removal has been no walk in the park. I’ve had one of the worst weeks of my life. First I developed something called a ‘dry socket’ which if any of you have had then you’ll understand the pain I have experienced. And then my dentist was flooded on Wednesday by a freak burst water main and they are closed for another week! So I carried on with really strong pain killers from my GP which made me so drowsy I could barely work so had to stop being on call. And then when the pain hit the point where I was thinking ‘If I had a gun I’d shoot myself in the head’ my husband took me to A&E at 11pm and we waited 3 hours to see a doctor to tell me I had a raging infection in my mouth and started me on a course on 2 different antibiotics. Phew, so here I am feeling better at last and giving you lovely lot another fabulous birth story. This weeks comes from Steph who had both her children at home.

Blog: littleeandbean

Twiiter: Steph

Steph and Jonah

‘Finding out I was pregnant with my second baby was a happy surprise, little did I realise that element of surprise would become a theme – I can honestly say the birth  wasn’t what I’d anticipated, in fact I still feel a little shell-shocked when I replay events in my head. Our first baby, Elijah, appeared 5 days early after a fairly calm 15 hour labour, which I spent almost entirely in water. Knowing that subsequent labours tend to be shorter I figured our second baby would arrive in less than 15 hours (for some reason 10 hours seemed like a good number!) and I fully expected to give birth in the pool because it felt like absolute bliss with Elijah.

Now I realise (after two quite different birth experiences) it’s impossible to predict how birth will pan out. One thing I can say for sure is that the deep breathing techniques and birth affirmations I practiced during both pregnancies definitely helped. And more than anything, the support and encouragement of my husband got me through; I certainly wouldn’t have stayed as calm without him.

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Three days before my due date I decided to get an early night. I was tired and emotional (looking back I think this was a sign that things were stirring) and I thought a long sleep would do me good. I went to bed at about 9pm and got a text from my sister checking how I was. Unfortunately being so highly strung it opened the floodgates and I replied with lots of very long, rambling messages about how low I was feeling. My poor sister! She attempted to calm me down but by the time I’d poured my heart out it was about midnight and I was feeling more unhinged than ever. I listened to a hypnobirthing relaxation track and fell asleep. Then at about 1.30am I felt the oddest popping sensation – it was partly a noise and partly a feeling. I’d been asleep so I couldn’t be sure that it wasn’t a dream. My waters didn’t break naturally during Elijah’s birth so I wasn’t sure what it felt like, but the ‘pop pop’ was strange enough for me to go to the loo to investigate.

There was no Niagara Falls moment but I was pretty convinced that my waters had broken, & I was having uncomfortable tightenings so I went downstairs to let Joe know that things might be kicking off. I got to the living room and managed to tell him I thought my waters had gone before feeling a large trickle and running upstairs to sit on a towel. By this point (and I’m talking just a few minutes from when I’d woken up) the tightenings felt more like surges and were quite uncomfortable, so I started timing them on my iPhone app. Joe told me to call the birth unit to let them know what was going on even though I was sure we were in the very early stages of labour and that they wouldn’t be interested. As it happens when I looked at my contraction timer they were happening every couple of minutes and lasting for 30 to 40 seconds at a time. I couldn’t for the life of me remember how long they needed to be but I was pretty sure the regularity implied labour was establishing. I called the unit but wasn’t able to talk much as the surges were so intense. At this point I remember thinking that either my pain threshold had decreased dramatically since Elijah’s birth or that I’d just forgotten what it felt like. It was only an hour in and it was so intense.

After speaking to the birth unit who said they’d send out a midwife I decided to get in the bath. The water had been amazing pain relief during my first birth so I expected to climb in and feel the discomfort trail off for a bit. This didn’t happen. Even in the warm water I was rocking and trying hard to breathe through the surges. Then, all of a sudden and quite dramatically I needed the toilet. I knew this was my body telling me baby was coming. I hobbled to the loo and found myself clinging onto the towels hanging off the back of the door and bearing down. I was confused. I wondered if I was being dramatic and if I just need to calm down. I focused on my breathing and tried my hardest not to overreact. I was still bearing down. We decided I needed to head downstairs so as not to wake Elijah. I managed to peg it down the stairs in between surges and promptly threw myself onto the living room floor on all 4s and on top of Joe. By this point Joe and I were both a bit bewildered. Neither of said anything but I knew we were as confused as each other by what was happening. It was an hour-ish since I’d been woken by the ‘pops’ and now I was flat out on all 4s, unable to talk and half-humming, half-mooing through the surges. I was panicking, thinking that I’d forgotten the reality of birth, that I had at least another 10 hours to go, how would I cope?! I could feel burning. Joe could sense my panic (he’s since told me that by this point he could see the head!) so he told me to breathe, focus on the baby, stay calm, to stop resisting and to work with my body.

Then, thankfully, the midwife and a lovely trainee turned up. All of a sudden the room was a hive of activity. The first midwife was on the phone to the second who hadn’t made it to the house. She lifted up my towel and I heard her say “the vertex is being delivered”. Shit, that’s the head, I thought. At this point I remember saying out loud “right, ok” in a very calm way, as if to jolt myself into action. This is actually happening.

The trainee told me if I felt a bit pushy I should go with it. I’d felt a LOT pushy sat on the toilet half an hour previously, but I hadn’t believed what my body was telling me. I wanted to avoid forced pushing at all costs so I waited for those primitive, intense, expulsive surges and just let my body do what it needed to. I ‘hummed’ and ‘mooed’ the head out. Short break. Then, I hummed and mooed the slippery body out. Bean was born; 3 days early, on dry land and so very quickly.

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The time from those dreamlike ‘pop pops’ to little Jonah being passed to me was an astonishing hour and a half. We hadn’t had time to fill up the birth pool, and we were in such a state of shock that we forgot to take a photo until a good few hours after the birth. I was in shock, Joe was in shock, the midwives were in shock – the second midwife hadn’t made it in time for the birth, she did catch me delivering the placenta, but I’m guessing that experience wasn’t quite as thrilling! Joe kept laughing at what had happened, the trainee midwife seemed quite emotional, and they were joking that I hadn’t needed them. Me? I sat slumped by the sofa, glancing every so often at our quiet, dark-haired boy and my gorgeous, elated husband and felt like I’d had a supernatural experience. I didn’t laugh or cry. It was as though all my emotions and feelings had been turned down to mute. I felt like I’d been completely overwhelmed by my own body. Like the rational, thinking, feeling, me had been shoved violently to one side by the primitive me. I was in awe.

Joe waited for the cord to stop pulsating before cutting it and then midwives gave me a few stitches while I chugged down as much gas and air as possible – I LOVE that stuff and as I didn’t get a chance to use it during the birth I figured I deserved a good go afterwards.

Elijah was still asleep, miraculously he hadn’t stirred once and we hadn’t needed to call on anyone to collect him which was my biggest worry. So Joe and I had a few lovely hours to snuggle in bed and process Jonah’s whirlwind birth. People often comment on how lucky I was to have such a quick birth but I do feel sorry for little Jonah – he shot out of my body so quickly I can’t help but think it must have been traumatic for him, and I’m convinced it had some part to play in the terrible colic he suffered during his first months. Now, thankfully, he’s a much happier little boy. Nothing compares to the love and joy I feel when I watch him with his brother. He’s such a perfect part of our family, it’s as though our happy surprise was always meant to be.’

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Birth Story of The Week – Ruth and Amalia

It’s been a bit of a rubbish couple of days for me as I had to have 2 impacted wisdom teeth removed under a general anaesthetic on Friday. Ouch is all I can say! Seriously underestimated how horrible I would be feeling still after 3 days plus look like a hamster who has been punched in the face. For those of you who follow me on Instagram, you would have seen how I tried to rock my neon orange painted nails with the stunning NHS hospital gown prior to surgery (seriously when is someone going to re-design those?).  But don’t worry any after shots of my face have been censored out for your benefit. Lets just say dark glasses, plenty of concealer and codeine are my friends this week. On a more positive note, having the surgery in the hospital I work under confirmed my total faith of the wonderful NHS staff. The nurses, anaesthetists and doctors were all fantastic and the ward was spotless. We really don’t know how lucky we are to have the NHS in this country.

This weeks birth story is pretty amazing. It’s a real gem as Ruth planned to have her second baby at home knowing her baby was in the breech position (bum first). Here is her story.

Twitter: RuthSabrosa

Website: ruthsabrosa.com

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‘At 38 weeks pregnant I hired independent midwives to help me have a physiological breech birth at home because my local hospital was not supportive of my choices and wanted me to opt for a caesarean. Four weeks and 3 days later my beautiful baby daughter was born at home in record fast timing and it was the most natural and rewarding experience of my life. I have Natal Hypnotherapy and Maya midwives to thank for that. Natal Hypnotherapy gave me the confidence to trust my body and believe in my ability to give birth naturally and Maya midwives supported me, allowing me to trust my instincts and listen to my body before and during the birth. Here is a brief summary of my story:

I had always planned a home birth for my second baby but when I found out she was breech, I was told by the hospital this would be impossible and after an unsuccessful attempt at turning her (ECV) I was given no other option but to have a caesarean. I was distraught, I knew I could deliver this baby normally but was shocked that the hospital were so keen on c-section. They wouldn’t let me leave without consenting to this even though I told them I wanted to explore my options. I was 38 weeks pregnant at this stage and if they had their way I would have had a c-section one week later but I knew baby wasn’t ready and after careful thought and research I told them I wanted to wait and to cancel the caesarean. The majority of staff were not supportive of my choice so I began a quest to find an independent midwife.

Several phone calls later I came across the wonderful Maya midwives, who happened to be experienced in vaginal breech birth and very keen to support me. I was overjoyed and it meant there was a greater chance I could have the home birth I so desperately wanted for my baby.  I withdrew from NHS care and had regular visits from the midwives to check baby’s heart rate etc. and then it was just a waiting game.  I began listening to my Natal Hypnotherapy prepare for home birth CD again every day, sometimes two or three times a day and I made a poster for my bedroom wall with affirmations and other positive thoughts about the birth.

My due date (20th September) came and went and then a week later there were still no labour signs. The midwives advised that I didn’t do anything to augment the labour, such as acupuncture or reflexology because breech babies must come when they are ready if they are going to come at all. So I waited and waited.  Natal Hypnotherapy helped me to remain calm, relaxed and focused at this stressful time when friends and family were growing increasingly concerned. When I reached 42 weeks I decided to go to hospital for a scan and CTG monitoring to make sure everything was ok. The doctors said baby was doing really well and couldn’t find anything at all wrong but would be happier if I’d have a c-section the next day. My instincts told me to wait a little longer and so I agreed to come back two days later for more CTG monitoring. In the meantime I began to prepare myself for the caesarean (by listening to the Natal Hypnotherapy CD) as it was becoming increasingly likely that I might have to give in at some point. Again the CTG monitoring showed that everything was fine but I agreed to go in the next day for my bloods to be taken in case the caesarean was necessary. Although I was more prepared for it, I couldn’t understand how my body could grow this baby, keep her nourished for 9 months and then just abandon her and me when it was time to be born.

That very night I woke at 4am with contractions that felt ‘different’ to the Braxton hicks I’d been having for weeks so I called the midwife, Andy, and she arrived an hour later. I wasn’t in any pain at all but had been preparing for this for months using Natal Hypnotherapy so didn’t really expect to be. There was about an hour where the contractions were really intense but at no time painful and our daughter was born two and a half hours later (bum first) at 7:30. Andy said it was the quickest birth she’d ever seen, so quick that Viv, the second midwife missed it! I was glad I called Andy when I did.  I used only a TENS machine and Natal Hypnotherapy techniques and our beautiful breech baby daughter, Amália Rose, was born calmly and peacefully in our bedroom. Her birthday is 7th October 2012, 17 days past the due date. I couldn’t have hoped for a better outcome, I am so glad that I trusted my instincts and my baby and that I had the support of such wonderful midwives. I will treasure that moment forever.’IMG_3066DSCF9555IMG_3484

Your Postnatal Body – The Truth

No one really wants to hear the truth. Your new hair cut you spent a ridiculous amount of money on doesn’t suit you. Your child is the devil and I don’t want her to play with my daughter any more. I’m not that keen on your boring husband so we would rather not come for dinner again. The meal you spent hours slaving over tastes like cardboard and I’m craving beans on toast. You get the gist, no one ever wants to hear that. So we all keep hush.

And then there’s the things no one tells you about when your’re pregnant, like a sort of extra added ‘Surprise’ once you’ve popped. And you would never dare tell other pregnant women any of these things, nope, everyone must discover them for themselves. As we all know ‘The first rule of Fight Club is: You do not talk about Fight Club’For example a wonderful friend once described having a bath when her baby was a few weeks old. Upon leaving the bath she said ‘It felt like I was taking half the bath water away with me’. I laughed till I cried because that’s exactly what it feels like, all roomy and well, wider down there even though this doesn’t last forever. *does 50 pelvic floors as she types*

Another area that us Mama’s don’t really talk about is our tummies and we certainly don’t show them to anyone. I for one am always trying to disguise mine, flatten with a pair of Spanx, wear a lot of black, constantly breathing in when in public. In fact ANYTHING to make mine look flatter. Now, if I’m completely honest with you all I never had a flat or toned tummy before having children. It was always a bit wobbly but now it has a mind of it’s own. It folds in 3 places when I sit down. My belly button is wide enough to fit a pound coin in it (yes I’ve tried) and the little black star tattoo I had done aged 16 to piss off my parents now resembles a meteorite. That will teach me.

After seeing Kate Middleton’s postpartum tummy as she emerged with Prince George last week, I whooped and cheered and thanked her for embracing her tummy in that gorgeous polka dot dress. Because that’s what you look like the day after you’ve had a baby! It then got me thinking, why are we so ashamed of what our bodies look like after doing something so incredible? Why do I cringe at the thought of wearing a bikini at the local Lido when it was 30 degrees last week? What has celebrity culture done to make us Mamas feel any less of ourselves after such a major life changing event?  (OK magazine I’m talking to you). We should all be immensely proud of what we have achieved. Each and every one of us. American artist Jade Beall has done just that and photographed women’s post baby bodies in a series of beautiful images, capturing what a powerful thing the female body is. Her photos went viral last week and I finally felt at last people can really see what women look like after having children. Her photos inspired me to write this post and photograph my tummy.

2 children aged 6 and 2

Mama to 2 aged 6 and 2.5

Then I wondered, would anyone else want to reveal theirs? A few Instagram, Twitter, Facebook requests later and my inbox was filling up with amazing tummy shots! I couldn’t believe it. Your stories about your scars and stretch marks moved me to tears. All of you said no matter what state your tummy was in, you ALL felt hugely proud of what it had achieved And so you bloody well should. Here are the results.

‘You’re body is not ruined; You’re a goddamn tiger who earned her stripes’

A huge thank you to each and every one of you that has contributed to this post, you are all tigers in my eyes.

Image (6)

Image (3) Image (4) Image

From Left to right

Row 1: 1 child age 1.5, 1 child age 6 months,

Row 2: 1 child age 1.5 and 12 weeks pregnant, 2 children age 2.5 and 9 months

Row 3: 2 children age 2 and 6 months, 2 children age 2 and 4 months

Row 4: 2 children age 5 and 3, 2 children age 2.5 and 1

Row 5: 1 child age 1.5, 1 child age 1.5

Row 6: 2 children age 3 and 10 weeks, 2 children age 5 and 3

Row 7: 1 child age 1, 2 children age 2 and 6 weeks

Row 8: 3 children age 8, 3 and 7 months, 2 children age 2 and 6 months

Row 9: 2 children age 4 and 3 months, 2 children age 4 and 3

Row 10: 1 child age 5 months, 2 children age 4 and 3,

Row 11: 3 children 6.5, 4.5 and 19 months, 3 children age 8, 6 and 4

Row 12: 1 child age 6 months, 2 children age 4 and 2.