The End

This blog is now closed. The story continues over on Flip Flops and Flying Carpets.

Thank you for reading.

The Other Side of the Story

Today marks one month since Emily was born. I can barely believe it myself. She's already taken over our world. To mark the occasion, I thought I'd share something rather special with you all. A while back, just after I wrote my birth story to be exact, I asked David to write his take on it. It took a bit of reminding but this morning I found it in my inbox. Unsurprisingly, it brought me to tears. You may find it interesting, as I did, to read the "other side" of the story - everyone says men feel helpless during the birth, but what exactly goes through their minds?

"I always expected that assisting at the birth of my daughter was going to be a surreal, if not almost an “out-of-body” experience. As much as I enjoyed the final result and as in love as I am with my daughter, I don’t think I want to go through that sort of experience again anytime soon.

"If I could summarise the experience in a few words they’d be “worry”, “helplessness”, “determination”, “hope” and finally “joy” and they are in order (although the first four are just one big hotch-potch of emotion coursing through your being throughout).

"From when Clare went into labour the mix of worry and hope dominated my being. It is absolutely awful to watch the person you love beyond comprehension go through any sort of pain, but this was just another level. The most disturbing part for me was knowing that there was nothing I could do about it, and very little I could do to help. The helplessness made me angry, the anger made me determined and the determination actually helped me to try and be as supportive and as useful as I could be. At that stage anything is better than nothing. I wasn’t doing much, but by helping Clare concentrate on her breathing I seemed to be helping and that alone kept me sane.

"I’m a worrier by nature, and for those of us who worry, this event is pretty much up there in terms of levels of importance. Is my wife going to be OK? Is the baby OK? All questions that ran through my mind a million times a minute.

"But Clare was a trooper, she dug into reserves I hoped she’d have and when it seemed like those reserves were running low then she’d dig some more. In all honesty, I couldn’t have done it (it’s a cliché but its true – and I consider myself to have a high pain tolerance). I couldn’t have come anywhere close to doing it but as much as I hated seeing Clare hurt, I would’ve hated not being there to help her through it, so I stuck by her every second of the experience. She was my focus.

"When Emily was born I cried. In fact, out of the three of us I was the only one crying (Emily screamed once and then pretty much went quiet). She was perfect (they both were), 10 fingers, 10 toes, a fully formed body, strong beating heart, and a beautiful face that takes my breath away every time I look at it. I cried with joy and then I cried some more with relief. My baby was here and she was healthy, my wife had had the natural birth she wanted and she was healthy too.

"I couldn’t believe it when the complications started to develop. It just seemed so trivial to get stuck on the third stage. An unjust, ironic, slap in the face. I knew how dangerous it could be but I kept my head down, concentrated on Emily and prayed. Clare again was such a trooper, braving her fears. I can’t explain how proud of her I am for having gone through it all the way she did. Not once was she selfish, not once did she shy away from her responsibilities as a mother, she took it all on the chin and stayed strong and focussed. She countered everything they threw at her and when things finally resolved themselves, and Emily could go back into her mother’s arms a wave of exhaustion swept over me. Rich, I know, that I should say that I was exhausted by it all, but I was. You are so emotionally invested in it all, it is so nervewracking being there for all of it and being able to affect absolutely nothing (except for maybe, your partner’s mood).

"Sure, I made Clare smile (even laugh) a couple of times, I held her hand, I pushed (yes, stupidly, I was pushing, don’t ask me why, but I thought it was appropriate at the time) when she pushed at the end, but the credit for this lies squarely with her. I was a spectator at the birth of my daughter. Clare did all the work and delivered us with a healthy, perfect, baby daughter. For that, she will always have my gratitude, my love and my admiration.

"I have two beautiful, high maintenance (I complain about it but deep down I wouldn’t have it any other way) women in my life and I feel like the luckiest man on earth."

I don't think it needs to be said - Emily and I are the luckiest girls alive ;)

Little Drummer Girl

We always knew Emily loved music. Her response to it when she was "inside" was always amazing (remember her 22-week scan?!). So it only made sense that music would come in handy when trying to get her to sleep.

I put on some Norah Jones, thinking something quiet would encourage relaxation.

I couldn't have been more wrong. David came to the rescue (she was howling and doing an excellent job of resisting sleep) and put on some Five for Fighting. She was asleep within a few songs.

Coincidence, you say?

He played the same songs a few nights in a row - and got the same reaction. He also noticed that the quieter songs are the ones that make her restless. The kid loves a good drumbeat! (And it's got to be LOUD!)

She also loves Jai Ho off the Slumdog Millionaire soundtrack. And the latest, the Chicago soundtrack. She was fast asleep by the end of All That Jazz.

There'll be no classic "bedtime CDs" for this baby then! I'll be trying some tribal music next...

PS She's 4 weeks today!

Staying Healthy

It's been a manic few days. And to top it all off, I've been unwell - fever, flu symptoms, dehydration, exhaustion. I'm not entirely sure what it all was, but suffice it to say it was no fun and I was in no position to take care of Emily, making me all the more grateful to have my mother and David around to take care of both me and the baby!

I had a visit from my Health Visitor on Monday, who in not so many words "told me off" for not taking care of myself. She was more than right to do so. My idea of breakfast since Emily arrived has been a coffee and two biscuits, which will keep me going until 2pm when I might (if I'm lucky) remember to eat something you might consider a light snack (eg a slice of pitta bread with cheese), and then be too exhausted by dinner-time to actually even contemplate eating anything.

Let's face it, not very healthy. It's not exactly surprising I got sick. She advised me to have a cereal (like Weetabix, which I love) and orange juice for breakfast from now on. Cereal because of the iron it contains, orange juice because it helps the body absorb the iron.

I intend to make more of an effort from here on. Having said that, I know I'm not the only new mother having "time to eat" problems. We tend to focus all our energy on the new arrival and completely forget about ourselves. Gone are the days when we can plan lavish meals that take up hours of our day. The trick, realistically speaking, is to stock up on healthy snacks that keep us going. And remember to eat them.

So here's to that. Yet another aspect of this journey I've embarked on. Any tips are, as always, welcome! :)




My mum is here at the moment, helping me with practical things like giving Emily her first bath (pictured), which I am pleased to report Emily enjoyed very much! Tomorrow, Emily will be three weeks old. I always knew I'd love being a mummy but I never for a minute imagined I'd love it this much. I feel complete. No matter what, I cannot get enough of this little one. I only wish I could freeze certain moments in time.

This Valentine's Day is a very different one. There are no indoor picnics being planned, probably not much time at all for David and myself to spend together (he's officially returned to work after 2 weeks of paternity leave today!), but it's such a special one because it's our first Valentine's Day as a family. I have the two people I love most in the world around me, my mother is on her way over tomorrow for some moral support and general assistance, I have some great friends who make life so much happier... I need nothing else this moment in time ♥


One Cushion

Do you remember me mentioning that when my waters broke, I was writing a blog post? Well, this was it ;)

27th January 2011

I come from a very creative family. My mother sews and paints, my grandmothers knit and sew, make jewellery and all sorts of crafts, my grandfather actually ran a crochet business when he gave up work as a journalist. My other grandfather could draw and was into woodwork, my dad plays the guitar and is an excellent photographer, my sister is an artist in her own right... You catch my drift.

I was no exception. When I was young, I could sew, knit, crochet, tapestry, cross-stitch, draw, paint, you name it. I wasn't ever going to make history, but I could get by.

Over the years, it all stopped. The extent of my "talent" became mostly limited to saving the odd pair of trousers from the horrible fate that is a loose hem. I pour over etsy now in awe - not just at the things there are on there, but also at people's ability and patience to get it all done. I got lazy and forgot how much I actually enjoy creating things. The computer played a big part in the downfall - I'm still creative on the computer, but it isn't quite the same thing as good old-fashioned creating, is it?

Lately I began to realise how much I actually miss making things. I've bought books overflowing with ideas, gorgeous pieces of material, I even finally bought a proper sewing box and filled it right to the brim. (I wouldn't want to be caught unawares.) And then everything sat there, untouched (unless, of course, a hem needed fixing).

So it is with great pride that I present to you the product of yet more hours waiting for the baby to decide it's time. With some leftover material I had lying around from the nursery curtains (yes the second pair is now hemmed and waiting to be hung), I decided to make a cushion cover to go with said curtains.

Hand-sewn and based on no particular pattern other than something very sketchy in my head, I give you... one pretty cushion.


(You might argue it's just a rectangular shape, nothing really to it, not very special. Mock if you wish... my pride is unfazed!)

Also, I made this for dinner this evening - try it!

It's somewhat surreal reading this again now, so much has changed :) And I *am* glad my creative juices got going, if for an afternoon - it might be a while before I get the chance again!

[first image]

Newborn Photoshoot


Do you remember my amazing maternity pictures? Well Nataliya came round our way on Saturday and took some pictures of Emily. I can't even begin to explain how thrilled I am with the result...


Do you blame me for being completely besotted with this little pea? :)

Emily's Birth Story

I wasn't sure whether or not to write this post, but due to a very overwhelming positive response from friends, I've decided to go ahead with it. I understand it may not be to everyone's taste, and of course understand if you do not wish to read it, but either way... this is Emily's Birth Story. And apologies in advance, this will probably be long!

My Birth Plan was simple: I wanted a natural birth with no drugs and as little intervention as possible.

As mentioned, my waters broke at 19.30 on the 27th January, 39 weeks and 2 days into the pregnancy. I'd never expected this to happen as, despite it being your classic movie start of labour, it's in fact only about 15% of women whose waters break before being in active labour. So when it happened, although there was not a shred of doubt in my mind as to what had happened, I was quite stunned and confused as to what to do. I was also very excited... She was coming.

I hurried into the bathroom where I stood in the bathtub, fully clothed, shaking, and trying to call David. I eventually got hold of him, "My water's gone, COME HOME!" and then tried figuring out what to do with my drenched clothes.

There were no contractions as yet. Even the Braxton Hicks that had been quite constant throughout the day had died down. Still, I knew the "rule" is to call the hospital and let them know what's happened. They asked me to go in around 22.30 as they were quite busy and since I was in no pain anyway.

So we went in. Baby was monitored for a while and everything was fine, but there were still no contractions and my cervix was still very much closed, so I was sent home and an induction booked for 9pm the next day.

We got home at 1am. At 1.30am, the contractions started, mostly 7 minutes apart but not always regular, so I didn't really take much notice of them. I let David sleep, had my paracetamol and a hot drink and tried to relax. Didn't get very far. It all got pretty intense and by 3am I woke David up for company, unable to manage the pain on my lonesome any longer, but not quite grasping that I was in fact in labour already.

Somewhere during the night we got the TENS machine going, which really helped as the contractions got stronger and closer together. Around 5am I began to lose control, unable to breathe through the contractions on my own any longer. I began crying and feeling very sorry for myself. David took over and from that point onwards, he was with me through every contraction, making me focus, making me breathe. I'd never have gotten through without him. That is a fact.

By 8:30am they were coming every 4-5 mins, so we called the hospital, who told us to head in. By the time we got me dressed and left the house, they were 3 minutes apart. Not a pleasant drive!

I was by then, 5cm dilated, and therefore in established labour. I was led to a delivery suite where I was introduced to Denise and Sky, the two midwives who would see me through to the end and were absolute stars.

The contractions were by this time hitting violently every couple of minutes or less, but I was still coping on the TENS (though no one was going to pry that thing out of my hands anytime soon!) until about 11.30am when I moved on to Entonox (gas & air), contractions by then coming less than one minute apart. By midday, I started feeling the need to push, and - quick check later - yupp, fully dilated. This was it.

Baby had turned back-to-back, meaning it was going to be more difficult. Lovely. Two hours later, we'd managed to get her to turn over, I was exhausted and although Baby's heart rate remained steady throughout (good girl), there were doctors knocking on the door every couple of minutes to take me to theatre for a forceps/ventouse delivery, but the midwives bought me as much time as possible. Eventually, at 14.00 they told me I had 15 minutes to have this baby and they wouldn't be able to buy me any more time after that. I was giving up, I was exhausted and felt like it was all going nowhere. I didn't even have any patience for the gas & air mouthpiece any longer, so that was discarded. Then suddenly the feeling changed and I knew she was about to be born, so there was some newfound energy and with 4 of my 15 minutes to spare, Emily was born.

The umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck and she didn't cry immediately, but she was fully alert. She was placed onto my chest, skin to skin and right away, she looked up at me with these massive black eyes and I knew she knew who I was. I don't think I'll ever forget that moment and that feeling.

I'd opted for a natural placenta delivery and for the cord to stop pulsating before it was cut, figuring I was in no rush. So we took it easy. I wasn't warm enough to keep Emily warm, so she was transferred to David for warmth where she remained for the next few hours while everything went haywire! Thing was, after 2 hours of waiting, there was still no sign of the placenta. I wasn't at that stage aware of how dangerous the situation was getting, possibly still on a euphoric high from the birth itself and just too tired to register much else.

A catheter was inserted to empty my bladder in case it was interfering with the placenta, but it made no difference. I was given a syntometrine injection, which did nothing. Again, the doctors came into the picture and they put me on a syntocinon drip and prepped me for theatre. There was not much else to do as the placenta was beginning to tear and any tugging would have made the situation all the more serious. Needless to say, I was not impressed. Having managed the completely natural birth I wanted so much, the last thing I wanted was so end up in theatre because of the placenta. On top of that, those of you who know me well will also know of my needle phobia, so this was all quite a big deal for me. I was scared but I wasn't about to put my life in danger because of a 'silly' phobia. I knew that if it came to it, I'd just deal with it.

In the end, the registrar had one last go (er, manually) before I was taken into theatre and that was what did it - placenta was finally out. Further examination revealed a very deep first degree tear. I needed a few stitches. Again, not impressed!

By this time it was about 6pm and we were just getting round to contacting family and friends to announce Emily's safe arrival. I'd planned to be in touch with friends during the labour - having expected it to be much more drawn out than it was - but in the end, even my hospital bag was left untouched! There just wasn't time for anything!

As crazy as it may sound, it was an amazing experience. Sure, it hurt and sure, there were moments I felt I couldn't go on. But today as I sit here writing this, I have this strange desire to go back to the 28th January, if I could, and relive it all minute by minute, pain and all. Even with all the complications that could have gotten ugly, I still consider it to be one of the most positive experiences of my life. I consider myself incredibly lucky to have had David there by my side being the rock that he was - and I am (I can't and won't deny it) also incredibly proud of myself. It gives me all the more confidence to begin this new life of ours as a unit of three.

1 - 10.30am, in very good spirits between contractions!
2 - Seconds after Emily's birth
3 - David with Emily after we'd dressed her, around 7pm

[Read David's side of the story!]