Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Our feeding journey

E is now just over 7 months old. In general she is a very smiley, happy, shouty baby who sits beautifully and is interested in everything (particularly the things she isn't allowed!). She has started to fill out, to get chubby legs and a little buddha belly. But it's taken a while to get here.

I talked about our early breastfeeding journey here, and I'm pleased to say we're still breastfeeding to this day. But it hasn't been an easy journey in terms of giving E the nutrition she needs to keep her gaining weight as laid out in the WHO charts. E stuck roughly to the 50th centile line from birth until around 8 weeks, but started to slip down centile lines, finally dropping as low as the 9th centile at 17 weeks. I think part of our problem was the huge amounts of conflicting advice given to us by the healthcare professionals. Every time I saw a health visitor they told me I should be feeding E differently: "you should offer both breasts at each feed", "she's getting lazy and waiting to be offered the other breast and not taking the hind milk, so you should only offer one breast for three hours, then switch", "you MUST offer both breasts" etc etc until I was completely confused. I felt like I was constantly being criticised.

At 18 weeks, the doctor and health visitor decided the lack of solid weight gain, the crying, the eczema, and the wind were due to a milk protein allergy. I was told to cut out all dairy and soya to see what happened. I can tell you now, your diet is extremely restricted when you have to avoid both- they are present in so much food. Had I been at home it may have been a bit easier, but unfortunately the week after cutting the dairy out, my Grandmother suddenly declined in health. We spent a week away from home, sitting with her in her final few days. A privilege to be with her at the end, but a hard time. E spent the week sleeping in a drawer. I reached the end of my resources of strength: full time childcare, cooking for various family members, and many hours in a small room, all the while with a seriously restricted diet took their toll- I lost 2kg in a week. If my Dad had not been there, taking E on tours around the gardens of the home, I think I may have fallen apart. On the day she died, my Grandfather on the other side suddenly also passed away. The weeks that followed involved a lot of travelling around for funerals, not easy for a 4 month old, especially as my milk supply took a hit.

Despite initially thinking the dairy-removal had helped, I soon had reservations. Sleep problems returned with a vengeance- probably due to disrupted routines- and we went back to a lot of the old problems. As she turned five months old, we hit an all time emotional low, and we knew things had to change. The next day, we risked giving E some formula. With 100,000 times as much milk protein than breastmilk, we weren't sure what to expect. Absolutely nothing happened. We gave it to her a midday to allow time to see any reactions. It felt very strange feeding it to her, but she didn't seem bothered, and as soon as I had, I felt a weight lift. I had been putting so much pressure on myself to breastfeed, and E was struggling and pretty unhappy. Now she had drunk her first formula, and nothing untoward had happened. Looking back, that first formula feed was a turning point. I slowly reintroduced dairy to my diet.

At about 5 and a half months we introduced solids, much to E's delight. She certainly made it clear she was ready for food. One occasion that sticks in the mind is her practically leaping out of arms to get across the table to grab a banana muffin, promptly digging out a huge handful and shoving it in her mouth. She delighted in each new puree, although the first mouthful was always given a comedic mouth-puckered face, before she eagerly opened her mouth for more. As she started to eat more food, the pressure on my milk supply reduced and she always seemed satisfied with the milk she got. We could feel (and see) the weight starting to go on, and E became happier and happier (other than during a bout of tonsillitis). When she was 30 weeks old, I took her back to get weighed, just to officially see the more healthy weight. She has gone up to the 30th centile, while her length is on the 70th centile, a great improvement. While I am glad to have had her weighted, I won't be going back for a while, as yet again I felt criticised for going to the health visitor, and I think we're better off on our own path, away from conflicting and critical advice.

This week E threw up a few times and now has a cold. Mealtimes have turned into a disaster zone of crying and food refusal. It took half an hour to coax a single bite of cereal out of her this morning, and she is screaming at the offer of pretty much everything other than petit filous! I'm hoping this is simply an illness-related temporary setback, as I can't bear for food to become a battleground once again.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The monster in the night

Three weeks ago we had a wonderful moment- E slept through the night. And did so for two more weeks. I cherished every single hour of those sleeps, hoping it would last.

But sadly a week ago E stopped sleeping solidly for those 10 magical hours. Instead we have gained a monster in the night. We are still putting her down around 8, but she wakes for a feed around 1, and then can stay awake for anything up to three hours. She then wakes again by 6 or 7 and is ready for the day to start. We are getting a block of three hours sleep ourselves, followed by three awake, followed by two asleep. Not enough.

She has terrible wind and stomach cramps, which we think may be waking her/ keeping her awake. Every night at the moment involves gripe water, a lot of shushing and swaying, and a lot of resentment. That is the hardest bit, knowing I resent my daughter. Those long hours in the night seem never-ending, and I just want to scream at her. It doesn't help that day time naps are a battle too, and much of the day seems to be spent with E grizzling and crying. She no longer wants to play on her playmat, or be put down at all. All in all I am feeling pretty exhausted and worn down, my coping mechanisms not helped by the sleep deprivation.

Amongst this, we do have magical moments, glimpses of our happy baby. Yesterday, she laughed for the first time when a raspberry was blown on her tummy. She gives beautiful smiles, particularly when out and about in her pushchair. Her favourite game is to give a big smile and gurgle, then act all coy and hide her face. Although less frequent, she still burbles and talks away at times. She has started to splash in the bath, and her hand-eye coordination is getting better. I try to appreciate these moments, remembering how much I love E, trying not to hold the sleep torment against her. But it is hard.

I just want to get rid of our monster in the night, and get our happy E back.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014


the screaming seems endless
i can't take it a moment longer
i put you in your basket and walk away


walk back and lift you out
cuddle you to me
you eventually calm down
your eyelids droop
your head slides to one side

soon you are asleep

and i stare in wonder at your smallness
how in years to come i will look back
remember you scrunched up on me asleep
your eyelids so thin
mouth hanging open slightly
your soft breathing
your beauty

and i cherish this moment

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Falling in love

I always thought I'd have children. Two in fact. I'd love being pregnant, give birth, and fall in love with my baby. But in reality it wasn't quite like that. 

The birth wasn't as I'd hoped. A hemorrhage left me with severe anaemia, and pretty much out of it. I struggled to drink, to eat, to function. I even fell asleep with food in my mouth, sat upright in a chair. I was re-hospitalised two days after going home, a frightening experience. None of this helped me bond with my new daughter. 

Two minutes after E was born, she was taken from me as I started to haemorrhage. She cwtched skin to skin with the other-half-of-us instead, something that gave him a massive leap ahead with his bonding with her. He fell in love instantly. I simply struggled to stay conscious. When calm ensued once more, my tiredness combined with blood loss meant that although I managed to feed E, all I could think about was the need to sleep. I didn't really see E until the next morning, this tiny girl with masses of dark hair and rosebud lips. 

Looking back, the next few days are blurred in my mind, hazed over by my illness. I fed E, changed her when the other-half-of-us wasn't there, and cuddled her when she cried. Instinct took over, and I gave her as much care as I could, while not really being with it. Day three was my personal hell, the night even worse. Extreme tiredness and painful feeding led to a huge internal battle with myself- wanting to leave but needing to stay. I am sad now that I missed this precious time being properly with her, yet so glad I battled on through. 

Don't get me wrong. I felt an attachment to her. I wanted to feed her, to care for her. I just didn't feel the overwhelming love I expected. 

As my iron levels increased, and I slowly returned to myself, I began to get to know this little person for the first time, to soak her in. I saw her personality, her tucked up legs, her tiny nails. I saw her eyes, her hands, heard her strong newborn cry. As the days passed, and we got to know each other more and more, I started to like her, to love her. 

I had to fall in love with my baby girl, a process over days and weeks, not minutes or hours. I had to learn about her, get to know her, and feel better in myself before I truly started to fiercely love her. 


Feeding and some of the views we've had

E has been solely breastfed from birth until now (8 weeks 3 days and counting). For me this statement comes with a great sense of achievement, mainly due to the fact that I didn't give up. It is not that I believe she has to be breastfed, rather that I kept going with it despite everything. Some women can't breastfeed, or find it too difficult, for so many reasons. As far as I'm concerned you need a happy mummy to have a happy baby, and the method of feeding is mostly irrelevant.

I decided early on I wanted to breastfeed. I am inherently lazy, and the idea of having to sterilise bottles, get water at the right temperature, and mix the formula before each feed, seemed rather too much effort! Add into that the cost of a tin of milk, as well as the other benefits of breastfeeding, and I decided I would give it as good a go as I could.

We didn't get off to the best start. After my haemorrhage, I was barely with it for days, if not weeks. I struggled to even feed myself. The other-half-of-us literally did everything (other than overnight in hospital when he wasn't allowed to stay) for the first two weeks. Yet I battled on with the feeding. The midwives in the hospital were amazing, and kept helping me latch her on every time I asked in the first 48 hours. To start with I found it really painful and alien. Lansinoh lanolin was my saviour, keeping the soreness to a just about tolerable level, although I do remember crying during feeding a fair few times.

Overnight on day three was one of the worse nights of my life, and it took all my willpower not to give in. One factor may have been that we had no formula and there are no 24 hour supermarkets here, so there was no other feeding option, but I would like to think that my stubborn nature also helped me through.

E loves to feed. At times she would barely go an hour between feeds (from the start of one feed to the start of the next), not aiding my soreness. A friend tried to help stretch her time between feeds one weekend, but I couldn't bear the crying, and felt that she knew when she needed food so I should just feed her. Now she can go around 2 hours most of the time, more if she sleeps, and about 6 hours at night. Our main issue now is her writhing around as she feeds, mainly due to wind.

I have tried never to let feeding get in the way of doing things. As we demand feed, letting E choose when she wants food, I can never plan what we do around her feeding, and so quickly became used to feeding wherever we are. We have fed in cafes, in the car, on the beach, perched on rocks, sat on the floor... anywhere and everywhere!

Some things that have helped me:
  • Nipple cream - using lanolin to help sore nipples really is amazing
  • Relatching - knowing how to detach her in the early days and trying again to get a less painful latch really did lead to less stressful (and painful) feeds
  • Sleep! - Now she can go 6 hours between feeds at night, giving me a much longer period of sleep, I am much more able to deal with any stresses during feeding
  • Time - It is true, the first few weeks are the hardest, and it really does get easier
  • Good breast pads - Lansinoh pads seem to work best for me as they stick in place better, are larger, and much more absorbent than other brands
  • A dummy - E is what the midwife called a 'sucky' baby. She suffers terrible wind and finds sucking a huge comfort. When we realised some of her feeding was simply a comforting device, we introduced a dummy at a month old to take off some of the pressure. It has really helped!
Now I can even say that I enjoy feeding her at times, listening to the little noises she makes, and wondering at this little amazing creature who was born knowing how to suckle. 

Eight weeks in

E is now 8 weeks old! She has started to chat away and gives glorious smiles. We are well and truly in love.

She loves to stand up, held by the hands and look around. In fact she enjoys watching everything so much she rarely wants to sleep during the day. At some points we've gone 13 hours with only a couple of 10 minute catnaps! She takes everything in, rewarding the things she likes with a broad smile. The downside of course is that she gets overtired and then gets herself very wound up and upset, making it even harder to get her off to sleep. Somehow though we are still doing well at going to sleep at night after her 11 or 11:30 feed, sleeping through to 5 or 6.

Her noises have started to widen both in the sounds she makes and the volume. She certainly likes to make herself known. My favourite is currently an 'nnn gehhh' sound.

We have her 8 week immunisations tomorrow. I'll be interested to see how she copes.

Monday, June 2, 2014

The birth story I didn't want

My birth story isn't the one I wanted. I didn't really make a birth plan, other than liking the idea of a water birth, but even so I felt let down by the reality of what happened.

A week or so before my due date, the baby started to shudder and have strange movements. After speaking to the midwife I had to go into hospital to be assessed. Monitoring of the baby's heart rate produced no evidence of a problem (other than the movements causing the monitor to disconnect during the one episode recorded), and I was sent home. I had to return two days later for further monitoring, again with no problems seen, and again in another two days to see the consultant. At this point I was told they would induce me the following day, 'just in case'.

I was given no option in the matter. With hindsight I wish I could have refused, but hindsight isn't there at the time. I felt that I had to follow a medical professional's opinion, and knew that if I refused and there was something wrong with my baby, I would never forgive myself. I did ask about increased risks etc with induction, but was told there were no real drawbacks for me, and I could still have a water birth if I wanted. I went home, repacked my bags, and spent a last quiet evening with the other-half-of-us. I didn't do any research into induction, for which on one hand I'm grateful I didn't know what was coming, and on the other hand wish I'd been prepared for the reality of induction.

The following morning, after a delayed start due to the number of women already giving birth, we headed to the hospital. In a way it was nice to travel calmly with no rush, but looking back now I realise I expected and almost wanted that middle-of-the-night hospital dash of excitement and fear, just one of the many parts of my 'expected' labour that didn't happen.

Once at the hospital, things were slow to start with. I had a pessary inserted, and a sweep given at the same time (with the comment that they were surprised I hadn't been given a sweep prior- another thing I regret not having happened). For a few hours not much happened, and the other-half-of-us and I whiled away the time chatting together (with a walk to M&S to get some food!) until he had to return home. As night approached, contractions started with a vengeance. By 1am they were under 3 minutes apart and lasting over a minute each, and there was no chance of sleep. With my TENS machine going I, paced the corridors for most of the night, something I apparently became known for by the staff: various midwives later commented on how they'd seen me wearing a groove in the floor that night. I think I coped pretty well at this stage, thinking that things were surely progressing.

In the light of day, with an internal examination, a hard reality hit: nothing had happened. The cervix was still in pretty much the same state as before I had had a single contraction. I felt defeated, as if all those hours had been for nothing. I now know that induced labours tend to have more painful contractions for longer than non-induced labours, a fact I wasn't aware of at the time. I simply felt I had let myself down in some way. To make matters worse for my mentality, I was also informed that induced labours have to be monitored throughout, and therefore I was not allowed a water birth. At around 6am I was encouraged to have a bath to see if that helped. I sat in it and cried my eyes out.

As the contractions continued to build I was moved into a private room. The other-half-of-us soon arrived; my rock and support back with me. I finally accepted painkillers (paracetamol), and as the pain increased, tried gas and air. It did not agree with me. As soon as I started breathing it in, I felt dizzy. I had to stop breathing it as soon as I reached the peak of the contraction to prevent myself passing out, but this meant half of each contraction with no pain relief. The midwife commented she never wanted to see me take recreational drugs as I reacted so strongly to gas and air! A trip to the (ensuite) toilet was a mission, supported by the other-half-of-us, and those contractions made me miss the gas and air even with the effect it had on me.

After what seemed like eternity and an infinite number of contractions, an internal examination at around midday revealed I was at 3-4 cm dilated. Again I simply felt defeated, as if all this pain was achieving so little. I told the other-half-of-us I was done, that I couldn't go on. I was moved to a delivery room, now labour counted as 'established', involving a slow stagger along the hall, basically held upright by the other-half-of-us, gown hanging open for all to see! Once in the delivery room, an epidural was suggested. At first I held back, having decided previously I wanted to avoid one, but soon gave in as I realised I was in no fit state to carry on otherwise. It turns out the midwife had already ordered the epidural before I consented, knowing that it was the best plan of action for me, but she did an amazing job of still making me feel I had made the decision myself, that I still had some kind of control over my labour. My mentality had hit a new low, and I needed a new plan.

I am led to believe that the epidural had to be placed twice as the first did not work very well. All I remember is the torment of having to keep still while contraction after contraction raged. I clung onto the other-half-of-us for dear life! But what a difference once it started to work. I could have kissed the anesthetist. With each trickle of icy water on my thighs feeling less and less cold, the pain of each contraction began to ease. I felt like I had re-entered my mind again, like I could think better without the cloud of hellish pain. At this point I apparently turned back into me, and started apologising to the midwife and the other-half-of-us for my behaviour. The next few hours are the time I remember least of the labour. With the pain reduced, I watched the contractions roll past on the monitor, drank water, and calmed right down.

At 4pm, the next internal revealed I was almost fully dilated. I felt such relief. What a difference those four hours had made. I was told we would wait another hour for the last tiny bit of cervix to move out of the way, but before the hour was up the midwife said she couldn't wait any longer and checked again. Now fully dilated, I was at the pushing stage.

This bit was tricky having had an epidural. In theory I understood how I needed to push. In practice, pushing when you can't feel your bottom is hard! I had already stopped topping up my epidural, and as time went on and it began to wear off, I could feel more and more. After an hour, a doctor appeared. She told me I hadn't pushed baby far enough down the birth canal and would need to go to surgery to have a ventouse delivery, which would probably not work and then I would have no option but to have a cesarean. She gave me 20 minutes to see what progress I could make on my own. I am told as soon as she left the room I stated "do not let that woman cut me", although I have no recollection of that!

At this point, a team of amazing midwifes entered the room. My cheering squad gave me the support and guidance I needed, showing me exactly how to push. Helped by the extra feeling I had back, I got the hang of it, and soon was told they could see that my baby had lots of hair! I was encouraged to feel the head, to feel the physical progress I had made, and it really did help. Knowing that my baby was so close gave me the mental capacity to push as I had never pushed before, to really give it my all. By the time the doctor returned she stated I could have a ventouse delivery in the room, but my cheering squad encouraged me to keep at it and push baby out myself. I ended up having an episiotomy, but pushed my baby out unaided, the only part of my labour I am proud of. And what relief I felt once the head was out, knowing I had reached the peak of pain and baby was almost here!

My baby was placed on my chest, and the other-half-of-us cut the cord. He then informed me, in a somewhat bewildered way that it was a girl! We had convinced ourselves we were having a boy, even though we had kept the gender as a surprise for this moment, and so were both a little surprised. As we gazed at her, trying to take her in as she started to suckle, I could feel the placenta being pulled gently out (it felt so much bigger than I expected), and I relaxed. This would be that moment, after all the pain and hard work, where the other-half-of-us and I got to meet properly our new daughter, to bond as a family.

But this did not happen. The placenta was out two minutes after I gave birth, and seconds later, I started to haemorrhage.

Within seconds every midwife on duty plus the registrar and consultant were in the room. I am told the call button sounded like a submersing submarine siren, that everyone in the room needed clean shoes and trousers afterwards, and other gruesome details I won't share here. I lost a litre and a half of blood. I remember trying to focus on the ceiling tiles, willing myself to remain conscious, my logic being I couldn't be dead if I could still see the ceiling! A doctor put a canula in my arm, and I could feel blood running down my arm from it and dripping on the floor. Someone had their fingers in me to stop the blood flow, which eventually got packed and stitched up. I cannot fault the care I got, with one midwife stood next to my head explaining what was going on, and my midwife through labour staying and holding my hand. Throughout, the other-half-of-us was sat in the corner, holding our new baby against his bare chest.

Eventually the room emptied, crisis over. I was washed down with a flannel, and the lights were dimmed. I'm not sure whether I had the baby back at this point, or later when I was transferred to a four-bed ward. The blood loss combined with tiredness meant I felt completely out of it. There were long pauses between me being asked a question, computing it, coming up with an answer and saying it aloud. I managed to feed the baby, judging from the feeding chart of her cot, but I remember little of it. Hours later, a doctor came to remove the packing still inside, having been stuck in surgery until this point. Thankfully he declared as was well. It was now 2am or so, and I desperately needed sleep but couldn't switch off- I remember asking the other-half-of-us for sedation! In the end, after the other-half-of-us had left for the night, a wonderful midwife took our new addition away for a few hours, promising to bring her back if she needed feeding, and at last I fell asleep.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Welcome to the world baby girl!

Baby E was born on 6th April at 7.03 pm, weighing 7 lb 10 oz. A beautiful, healthy baby girl. 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The waiting game

I spent what felt like most of last night awake, wondering if I was going into labour. And for some reason it made me feel really stressed out, not knowing whether this was actually going to be the day or not. In the end the other-half-of-us plugged me into my ipod to try to relax. I spent the time remembering so many little things we have done together over the years, all the amazing times we've had together, perhaps triggered by the music I was listening to. And as I relaxed, suddenly my backache vanished, leaving me feeling like a pile of jelly (and a little let down that this wasn't 'it').

It's a hard game this unknown timing. If only the waiting was more like this:

Fiji 2007

Wednesday, April 2, 2014


When I first fell pregnant, all of my and the other-half-of-us's grandparents were still alive. Our potential baby would have eight great-grandparents! Nine months later, one is sadly no longer with us, one completely lost to dementia, one in hospital with recently diagnosed dementia, one struggling generally after a successful operation to remove lung cancer, and one with a fractured pelvis in hospital. The fragility of life has never been highlighted so much to me. As we wait to welcome our new generation of family, the lights are dimming for people so important to us throughout our lives.

My grandparents have inspired me and taught me so much, and it makes me so sad that they aren't likely to be able to do the same for my children. Poetry, art, music, games and books from one side; DIY, gardening, walking and baking from the other. And above all, the amazing love and encouragement they have given us from the moment we were born. I just hope I can pass on at least some of these things to this person-to-be.

Yet among the sadness, there is still joy. The baby already has a series of cardigans and jackets and a wonderful bobble hat knitted specially by one great-grandmother, with more to come. It has hand-me-down great-grannie knits from when I was a baby. It has a nursery inspired by birds, a love of which has been passed down through almost all of the great-grandparents, including artwork and singing soft toys inherited from the other-half-of-us's 'Gampy' who died only a few months ago. And we can still introduce this great-grandbaby to seven great-grandparents! What an amazing thought.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

37 Weeks

We are suddenly at 37 weeks. This baby bear would count as full term if (s)he decided to make an appearance today. In some ways it seems like I have been pregnant for a long time, in others I still don't feel ready for this arrival.

We now have a pushchair in the hall, cot in the nursery, moses basket ready to go in our bedroom, and hospital bags packed. We still do not have a complete bathroom, with a half tiled shower enclosure, although the sink, toilet and bath are all in. I think I'll relax as soon as the shower is in working order and I no longer have to beg shower use off friends!

I am still working, although think I will stop at 38 weeks as I think this little one has engaged, making walking around all day a little less comfortable! I have been enjoying getting to know new people around here, and baking lots of interesting cakes, muffins, quiches, and meals. I think I'll miss working in the cafe, especially the company.

Endings and beginnings

3rd March 2014. As I drove westwards, into the setting sun, it really hit that one chapter of my life had finished, and another was beginning. It seemed both a suitable ending and beginning, watching the golden sun sink below the horizon and fill the sky with a wonderful palette of changing colours as I drove away from one part of my life, towards the next adventure.

The last four and a half years have been some of the toughest moments of my life, the most testing, yet the time I have made some of the best friendships I will ever make, and had some life changing experiences. In October 2009, I started my PhD, living on my own for the first time in my life, in a new city, knowing no-one. Slowly settling in to the work, I made some friends who will always be part of my life, never to be replaced, no matter how far apart we are.

Svalbard adventures

In early 2010 I spent six weeks living on Svalbard in the Arctic, attending the University Centre in Svalbard for a glaciology course. Driving skidoos across sea ice and snow covered fjord edges, visiting the frozen-in calving faces of glaciers, walking inside glaciers in incredible ice caves, learning to cross country ski up and down glaciers, watching the northern lights in all their splendour, seeing a polar bear in the wild, making brilliant friends, and really just experiencing life in an altogether extreme environment. At the time I documented this in another blog which can still be seen at

The fjords of southeast Greenland
At the end of summer 2010, I made a field trip to southeast Greenland, visiting the most remote places I have ever been. Some of the fjords have only ever seen only a handful of people, out of helicopter range, with no settlements along their shores. This experience will never leave me, living in a rusty old fishing boat, conducting studies of the depth and structure of the water column. The light was ever changing, never the same twice, a photographers' paradise. The most amazing landscapes, lit in the most stunning ways, incredible sunrises and sunsets, northern lights, rolling fog, crackling sea-ice, icebergs crashing on the hull, incredible silence and stillness, rolling waves, sudden storms, amazingly sculpted icebergs, howling huskies, whales, dolphins, dead seals, abandoned villages, a helicopter over the glacier...colours, sounds, smells and experiences never to be forgotten. Definitely an experience that cannot have been had as a tourist.

Fast forward through data collection, analysis, conferences (including La Jolla, California), trips to Cambridge to look at old photo archives, trips to Oban for oceanographic analysis assistance, teaching, reading of many many papers, an infinitely long amount of time writing, submission, waiting, the viva, corrections, submission, final approval, printing and binding, and the final handing in of the bound thesis, and we arrive in March 2014, nearly four and a half years after this journey began.

Today I have started clearing up the computer. Deleting all the old permutations of my thesis, all the work-in-progress figures and keeping only the main files for the future. I have recycled endless old notes and papers, and we are finally gaining some much needed space in the house. Now as Dr., I go on to the new chapter, becoming a mother, and may it be just as amazing an experience, but with hopefully a little less stress!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014


Go to sleep, Mum,

I won’t stop breathing
suddenly, in the night.

Go to sleep, I won’t
climb out of my cot and
tumble downstairs.

Mum, I won’t swallow
the pills the doctor gave you or
put hairpins in electric
sockets, just go to sleep.

I won’t cry
when you take me to school and leave me:
I’ll be happy with other children
my own age.

Sleep, Mum, sleep.
I won’t
fall in the pond, play with matches,
run under a lorry or even consider
sweets from strangers.

No, I won’t
give you a lot of lip,
not like some.

I won’t sniff glue,
fail all my exams,
get myself/
my girlfriend pregnant.
I’ll work hard and get a steady/
really worthwhile job.
I promise, go to sleep.

I'll never forget
to drop in/phone/write
and if
I need any milk, I’ll yell.

- Rosemary Norman

Source: Goodwin, D 2002, 101 Poems That Could Save Your Life: An Anthology of Emotional First Aid, Harper.

Six weeks to go

How time flies. I am now 34 weeks pregnant, and suddenly time seems to be running out before the arrival of our first baby.

But if anything life has got busier recently. I have now had all the corrections signed off for my thesis so my Ph.D. is finally all finished, but I have just taken on two jobs to get in some extra cash before baby. Nearly a year and a half with no second income after my bursary ended has certainly taken it's toll on our finances. In between working in a cafe baking cakes and serving coffees, and filling in during half term in a local shop, I'm on my feet more now than at any other stage of my pregnancy.

We are also full flow on our latest house project - the bathroom. We bought a suite nearly a year ago in a sale, and it has lived in the nursery-to-be ever since. As we would quite like to have our baby things sorted before too long, the bathroom suddenly became a priority. I has been our hardest project to date.

As it now stands we have a bath, toilet, much needed extractor fan, and new towel radiator connected. No sink, no tiles, no flooring. We sill have the old shower in place, but this will soon go once the bath is fully functional.

In ten days we had overnight visitors on nine of them! How wonderful to see so many family and friends, but not ideal with an incomplete bathroom, and especially with only one toilet. It has also meant the renovation has slowed almost to a halt. So we have to move it up a gear now to get it all done.

And then we can start on our nursery. I just hope we have enough time.

Monday, February 24, 2014

A nicer type of rain...

This last weekend I had my baby shower, a wonderful afternoon tea and games organised by my sisters. The theme we chose was children's books, and each guest was invited to bring along their favourite childhood book to make a library for the baby. Each book was presented with an owl bookplate, and will make a wonderful collection for the years to come.

I also had a fantastic nappy cake, full of amazingly useful and lovely gifts from toiletries to toys, beautifully presented and tied up with wonderful royal blue vintage ribbon. We are planning to use reusable nappies, although not for the first few weeks, and even the nappy choice to make the cake was perfect for me, being biodegradable nappies.

With some of my closest friends spread across the globe and unable to make the journey to West Wales from Canada, Peru, New Zealand and Scotland, the gathering was small, but still perfect.

While fizz and tea flowed, and red velvet cupcakes, shortbread, cheese scones, 'baby feet' gingerbread, and a 'baby in the cot' cake were consumed, we played a variety of games. These included guessing the the arrival date, weight and sex of the baby, putting a towelling nappy on a teddy (surprisingly difficult when it has a tail!), guessing the size of my bump, a famous babies quiz, and remembering lines from nursery rhymes. Prizes were baby themed sweets: milk bottles and jelly dummies.

I was touched to see the book character decorations that I made for my sister's baby shower two years previous, made a reappearance at mine.

A fantastic afternoon, and part of a lovely weekend with my family.