Monday, 31 August 2009

August? September? October?

So, let’s move on with the continuing saga of will she or won’t she give birth early?

On Saturday morning, right from getting up, I had mild (very mild) contraction-like pains. They were almost exactly every six minutes apart (and, in fact, might well have been, if I’d been using a clock with seconds on it to time them).

I pottered around for a bit and sat down in the bathroom with Rosemary while she was having her bath, keeping a log. After I’d timed them for an hour, I thought I’d better wake Chris up. He took over with Rosemary, while I lay down and continued timing them (because Braxton Hicks are supposed to go away with moving about or lying down, so I wanted to rule them out before calling the hospital). I continued timing for another 45 minutes and they kept up the 6-minute interval. Pain levels were 2 or 3 on a scale of 1 to 10.

In the end I decided to call the hospital, particularly as I’d had a show last week (little bit of a show on Wednesday and much more of one on Friday, after traipsing round town getting hospital bag stuff). They said at this stage (33 weeks + 3 days), it would be best to come in, particularly as they were coming after a show. This time, my sister came with me and Chris took Rosemary into town to buy a birthday present and lunchbox and the shopping. He had the mobile and would be able to call my mum to take over if necessary.

So, yet again, it was a case of being strapped to a monitor to check Eleanor’s heartbeat and measure the contractions. As it turned out, they only showed up as slight blips – not really registerable as proper contractions. Ho hum. The midwives were very nice and both said I’d done the right thing to call and were clear that I should call back with any other concerns and they could talk through them on the phone before needing to come in. Had to wait for a long time for the doctor to come round, who had a quick feel of the bump and said I could go home. No internal or swab this time, which I was surprised at as the midwives had suggested the doctor would probably want to take a swab because I’d had a show. But really, who’s going to complain about not having an internal examination?!

So off we trotted home again (my aunt, Emma, drove us there and waiting while we were in there and drove us back again). The pains had stopped by this point, but I now had a continual stitch-like pain at the bottom of the bump – the doctor had said I should take some paracetemol, so I did and the pain was gone within an hour or so of getting home.

Yesterday (Sunday), I woke up feeling great – thanks in large part to Chris getting up with Rosemary so I could have a lie-in. I decided that Eleanor wasn’t going to be super-early and that it was time to relax and just go with the flow. Everything is ready, so she can come when she’s ready to and it’s time to stop worrying about whether it’s going to be in August, before 37 weeks or whatever. She will come when she’s ready.

The day was quite a busy one. Took Rosemary to a birthday party (thanks to Emma and her car again) and went and sat at Emma’s house for a couple of hours until it was time to pick Rosemary up again (party was next door to Emma’s). Emma was expecting her eldest son home for a visit, so was busy baking bread and preparing dinner and so on and Rupert (Rosemary’s cousin) had been upset that Rosemary was only there for five minutes and then went off to the party, so I suggested Rupert come round to play at ours and have dinner with us for a few hours.

Yes, I’m crazy. Two small children (one three and one two) running around screaming for a few hours and getting every other toy out, especially those that have lots of bits that can be spread around the floor. Chris came and tidied up just after we got home (Rosemary had already made a big mess in the morning before we went off to the party), but it didn’t last very long. There were moments of calm, such as when they both sat down to play with the Happyland toys, and a couple of requests to read a book. And dinner time was fine, with both of them eating lots of food and taking plenty of time over it.

I did end up having to pick Rosemary up twice and Rupert up once. Rosemary because she was climbing inside her toy box thing, which isn’t strong enough to hold her safely (and refusing to get out); then again when she was doing something else dangerous and refusing to stop. Rupert when he fell and hurt himself and needed some Arnica cream.

While Chris was putting Rosemary to bed, I decided that I would try to tidy the living room up, as he’d already done it once that day and he’s been doing pretty much all the housework for a good few weeks now. I was mostly sat on the floor, shuffling about to gather bits and pieces to go in bags and boxes and so on. There was some bending down and lifting, but nothing too heavy. It was pretty exhausting, but I was very pleased that I managed to do it (funny what you can feel proud of when you’re doing practically nothing at all!).

Then I decided to watch Becoming Jane. I’d made a concerted decision not to watch at the cinema or get it out from Blockbusters, because I didn’t think I’d be able to watch it. I’m a big Jane Austen fan and have read biographies and letters and so on, as well as the books and I knew it took a lot a liberties, but I’d always said I’d give it a go if it was on terrestrial TV. I actually quite enjoyed it as well – by watching it as a period romance and forgetting, for the most part, that it was supposed to be about a real person.

Anyway… there’s a point to all this rambling – I don’t normally blog detailed accounts of my days! All the time I was watching, I was having pains. Considerably worse pains than the ones I had on Saturday, and with very definite bump hardenings – to the point where I was starting to feel embarrassed about wasting the midwives’ and doctor’s time. I walked around a bit and sat up straight and lay down and changed my position a lot. I didn’t time them, so don’t know if they were regular, but they certainly felt closer to proper contractions. Instead of sitting with a timer and piece of paper, I decided to go to bed when the film finished and see if I could sleep – they would probably just go away. In the meantime I warned Chris and also called my sister, to tell her to keep her mobile on and next to her bed in case she needed to run round her in the middle of the night. I also took some paracetemol

Well… I’m still here. Did get some sleep. Woke up a lot, but more about not getting comfortable than actual pains. Don’t seem to be having any this morning. So I’m thinking they were probably down to the extra physical exertion yesterday of running around of two small children and then, more to the point, picking up after them.

I’m back to being relaxed and waiting to see what happens though, while I think the August birth is quite unlikely (only a few hours left now, after all), she is probably still going to come before 37 weeks (am 33 + 5 today).

Watch this space…

Thursday, 27 August 2009

My current obsession

I have a whole bunch of posts half-written, half-thought, half-planned. I have reviews to type up, posts about back to school (or nursery school and playgroup), posts about the cuteness that is Rosemary, posts about the disobedient stubborn wilfulness that is Rosemary, posts about my daughter coming home and calling me ‘Maman’, not through any of my efforts to help her be a linguist like her mum, but because she watched some Muzzy episodes at my mum’s, posts about how I wish the summer holidays had been less about foisting Rosemary on my (very willing) mum and more about doing fun things together… and probably a meme or two.

But… none of this will come out, because my every waking moment these days is filled with my conviction that Eleanor is going to arrive early. Very early. For the first time, pretty much since her conception, she is overtaking other things and people in my head. About time, I suppose. But I can’t help wondering if this worry isn’t a little unhealthy. Could I actually bring on an early birth through worry?

So… here is the evidence:

  • Rosemary was early (36+5), which means there is a slightly higher chance that Eleanor will be too. Very slight.
  • I had some early contractions (very mild, but regular) at the start of July (also had early contractions with Rosemary).
  • I had a show last night. Which really doesn’t mean much at all. Rosemary arrived within a week of my show. Some women don’t have (or notice) a show, some have it shortly before labour and some have it weeks and weeks before labour. Sometimes the plug can even reform and break up multiple times.
  • I’m fairly certain she has engaged now. Yes, I know, I said that a few weeks ago and was wrong. But this time, the bump shape has changed and my muffin top is back. The first time my muffin top made an appearance was when Rosemary engaged. My midwife told me it would go away after the birth – huh! The last month or two is the first time it’s gone away, because the bump has been big enough and round enough to disguise it, I suppose. So… maybe I’m right this time. Even if I am, that also doesn’t mean anything. While it is more common for babies to engage shortly before labour in second and subsequent babies, there are plenty that do so well before the birth.
  • I had a sudden nesting urge today. Couldn’t get motivated to work (deadline not close enough!) and instead had the need to go and clear out drawers in Rosemary’s wardrobe for Eleanor’s clothes to go and dig out Rosemary’s old blankets. I almost put the baby clothes Chris got down from the loft the other day in the washing machine, but Rosemary came home then. Oh and I wrote a hospital bag list. OK. Maybe that doesn’t count as nesting.
  • My scalp is itchy. Oxytocin gives me an itchy scalp. I spent more than two years breastfeeding Rosemary and scratching my scalp to shreds (not quite – but not far off) every time I did. Oxytocin levels increase before labour. Don’t they? Or maybe it’s just during labour.
  • I knew Rosemary was going to be early. I knew she was going to arrive during the week when all my emergency drivers were on holiday, as was my sister (second birth partner) and my midwife. I had my show and knew she was engaged and knew she was going to arrive within that week. To the point where I gave Eva an envelope with the train fare to get her back here, because I thought she would need to rush back. And I was right. Of course, that’s probably hindsight. I was probably convinced 50 other times during the pregnancy. I just remembered that particular time, because I was right. I am convinced Eleanor is going to arrive in August. I have been for a while, though I’ve been hoping that’s not the case, because that would be too early. She would probably be fine, but she would definitely need to spend time in SCBU. I feel like I am as convinced as I was with Rosemary. I’m seeing signs in every little thing (look up at all that). I am more convinced since the show and, if I were a betting woman (well, other than the lottery), I’d be putting my money on Sunday 30 August. Oh and my midwife is on holiday.

So… there you go. This is what is going on in my head at the moment. This is what I’m binging (doesn’t sound quite the same as googling, does it?). This is a lot of what I’m tweeting about (that and how little sleep I’m getting most nights). This is what I’m talking about in Facebook status updates. This is what is taking me to the October Antenatal club on Babyworld more than I’ve frequented it through the whole pregnancy. And now this is what I’m blogging about.

I think you may be lucky to see anything different here before this little girl arrives, whether it’s on Sunday, at 37 weeks, at 40 weeks or at (please, no) 42 weeks. Sorry!

Saturday, 22 August 2009

The Mercedes Benz Pelvic Floor

To the tune of Janis Joplin’s Mercedes Benz.


Oh Lord, won't you buy me a new pelvic floor?
I did all my exercises, I wish I'd done more
Worked hard on my clenches, though it was a chore,
So Lord, won't you buy me a new pelvic floor?

Oh Lord, won't you help me to hold in my pee?
I don't want Tena Lady Pads, I'm not eighty-three.
Fifty-two times a day, I already wee.
So oh Lord, won't you help me to hold in my pee?

Oh Lord, get this baby away from my blad.
I can't take the kicks, Lord, I'll go oh so mad.
Prove that you love me and don't make me sad.
Oh Lord, get this baby away from my blad.

Oh Lord, won't you buy me a new pelvic floor?
I did all my exercises, but wish I'd done more
Worked hard on my clenches, though it was such a chore,
So Lord, won't you buy me a new pelvic floor?

That's it!

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Playdough maths

We were just sitting at the dining table, after dinner, playing with the playdough(*), while Chris took the dog out for his evening walk. One of my favourite things to do with playdough is roll it into balls (adventurous, I know). I find it quite a soothing activity and love getting the balls as round and smooth as possible.

I was doing this, almost without thinking, while glancing at my Google Reader to catch up on a few blogs (as you do) and passing the finished balls to Rosemary.

At some point I noticed that she was counting the balls, each time I gave her a new one. And counting them properly, which is something she’s only recently got quite good at – she used to be very impatient and either skip items or count one item three or four times. The next ball I finished, I held it up and asked ‘If we put this one down, how many do you think there will be? If there are four balls now. What comes after four?’ ‘Five!’ ‘That’s right. Shall we count them and see if we’re right?’ ‘Yes!’ ‘One, two, three, four, five. Yes! We’re right!’ ‘Yay! Four and one make five. Is there any more playdough?’ ‘Here you go.’ and so on and so on, until we got to ten. Then she started putting them into the jar while counting them and then taking them out and handing them to me and counting them.

At some point during this, it suddenly occurred to me that we were doing maths. You know, simple addition. Wow – how exciting is that? I’ve been waiting all my life for a child who will enjoy doing maths with me. And it’s starting already. I do hope we can keep up her interest, so that she lets me join in with her algebra with her, too, when the time comes.

What spontaneous learning activities have you come up with recently? Is there something you’re really looking forward to doing with your children when they’re ready?


(*) Technically, it’s called Soft Stuff, as it’s the dough from the Early Learning Centre. You can read my review of the Bumper Activity Jar over at The Great Toy Guide, if you like.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

We can take turns, can’t we?

Yesterday, Rosemary had her first play date. Well, it was the first time she had a friend round to play, rather than a cousin or a younger child of one of my friends. N goes to the same playgroup and lives round the corner, and they’ve got on extremely well ever since they first walked up the hill together. N and her one-year-old sister and mum came to Rosemary’s birthday last week (the only other child there was Rosemary’s cousin, due to my being very disorganised), but yesterday was a proper play date (I think, unless I have the definition wrong!), where N came round to play on her own.

They played very well together. I was able to get the dishwasher filled, a load of washing on and caught up on the recycling. I even managed to sit on the stoop and catch up on my Google Reader items, while they played in the new sandpit. There were a couple of incidents, where they were both going for the same thing – for example, I was reading a book to them and dropped it and they were both trying to be so helpful that they bumped heads and both cried about the other one picking up the book; my solution was to drop another book for Rosemary to pick. But, for the most part they were very nice to each other, and I heard lots of ‘We can share, can’t we?’ and ‘You can use the rolling pin now and then I can use it when you’ve finished.’ and ‘I’ll play with this baby, and you can play with this one or this one, if you like’ and ‘We’re best friends, aren’t we?’ N was very polite, asking me (“Rosemary’s Mummy”) if it was OK to play with things before getting them out and was fine if I said we couldn’t get something out.

They did a fair bit of imaginative play together – babies, doctors, picnics, going to the beach, shops – and they played in the sandpit, played with the playdough, did some sticking and had some stories. There was pretty much no floor visible by the time N’s mum arrived to pick her up, but it was worth it to witness such lovely co-operative play. N didn’t want to go home when her mum turned up, and Rosemary didn’t want her to go. They both started to get a bit grumpy, then, arguing over some stickers and a few other little things – but clearly because they were disappointed and a bit tired by then. Rosemary will be going round to N’s house on Thursday.

All in all, it was very successful and did only take me about 15 minutes to tidy up the living room after Rosemary had gone to bed. I hope there are many more play dates to come – with N and with other children from playgroup. (As an added bonus, N’s mum is very nice, too, and I think she may be my first playgroup/school mum friend. So it is possible, after all. Though it was actually Chris who got her phone number for me.)

Do you enjoy having your children’s friends round to play, or is it a nuisance? Do they have local friends you can call at the last minute to suggest a play date, or is it all organised months in advance? Do you have any tips for continued play date success?

Friday, 7 August 2009

The Big Sleep (issue)

Kim Hong from Fleishman Hillard sent me a Pampers Golden Sleep Kit recently. It contained:

  • Golden Sleep Guide
  • Fairy fabric conditioner
  • Golden Sleep ‘Taggies’ sleep comforter
  • Golden Sleep CD of lullabies
  • £1 Pampers vouchers

If you want a chance to win a kit of your own, you can fill out a 5-minute survey. There is also an opportunity to go on board the Golden Sleep Train, which you’ll find at:

  • Westfield Shopping Centre, London (this weekend)
  • Trafford Shopping Centre, Manchester (Saturday and Sunday 16-17 August)
  • Silverburn Shopping Centre, Glasgow (Saturday and Sunday 22-23 August).

So… this kit got me thinking about sleep issues and how we will help Eleanor to sleep. The booklet has a bunch of tips, most of which made me nod and say ‘Yes, that’s a good idea.’ and almost none of which we did with Rosemary. The one that got me in particular was:

Babies should be helped to learn how to fall asleep alone. If a baby can do this at at naps and bedtime, it will help them to go back to sleep after waking during the night (self-soothing).

Yeah. We didn’t do that. And, as we had been warned by most people, from health visitors, to grandparents, to friends, we had issues for a long time. Rosemary nursed to sleep almost exclusively. It took a concerted effort on Chris’ part to get her to go to sleep in the evening without mummy milk. Unless she fell asleep in her buggy, she pretty much never went down for a nap without it and gave up her afternoon nap at the same time as she stopped having milk. And she has only just started regularly sleeping through the night and still has some nights where she’ll wake a few times.

I didn’t really mind it for the first year, as I am of the opinion that there’s nothing wrong with comforting a baby, however they need it. I dislike people saying you’re spoiling a baby by letting her nap on you or people talking about using your nipples as dummies (ahem, it’s the other way round; the dummies are nipple substitutes). But after a year, it did get a bit annoying and also somewhat constricting – not really possible to go out for a drink with friends, for example, unless it was for about two hours before bedtime (which wasn’t until 10pm in those days).

So, the plan is to try to do better for Eleanor (and me – let’s face it) and help her learn to fall asleep herself, as well as accustoming her to sleeping among lots of noise (well, she’ll have to really, with a little sister as energetic as Rosemary).

But there’s a problem. The closer I get to holding her in my arms, the further removed I get from this plan and the closer I get to my needs and desires to provide comfort in whatever way she needs it, even if that means nursing to sleep. And, well, you know, nursing to sleep has some great benefits, especially in the middle of the night. You produce this great hormone that not only helps the baby go back to sleep, but also helps you get back to sleep. Fantastic. I didn’t really mind being woken up a couple of times a night when I knew I would be able to get back to sleep really easily. It’s really easy to comfort your baby by sticking a boob in her mouth. She was pretty fine with all her jabs, because the second it was over she had a breastfeed, and often went to sleep. Don’t know how she’ll cope with the next lot – chocolate probably. And I’m remembering how lovely it was to have her fall asleep on me, or next to me if we were having a lie-down feed. It was a beautiful feeling to be able to give her the peace of dropping off to sleep.

Hopefully Chris will be able to remind me about all the things I disliked to about nursing to sleep. I’m sure there were plenty.

So… what do you think? Train them up for self-soothing as early as possible? Nurse to sleep as much as possible?


Alice Johnstone from Seventy Seven PR sent me a pack of Derma H2O’s new product Water Wipes recently. Water Wipes contain 99.9% water and 0.1% grapefruit seed extract, and nothing else. They are therefore completely suitable for use on newborns. Once opened they last for a minimum of three months. Oh yes, and they’re completely biodegradable.

What I would have given to have something like this when Rosemary was a baby. Cotton wool and warm water is fine and not too much hassle at home, but when you’re out and about it is such a faff. And even at home, the idea that you could occasionally just pull a wipe out of a packet, especially in the middle of the night, is very appealing.

If you have a small baby or are expecting one soon, I would really recommend buying a pack of these. They’re available from some Boots stores and from and The only issue, really, is that they aren’t cheap, at £4.49 for a pack of 72 wipes. We usually get a pack of (80, I think) Simple wipes for around £1. But there’s no way I’d use them on a baby.

So… I’m keeping the pack I was sent for when Eleanor is born and will probably buy another pack, too. But I’ll most likely stick to the cotton wool and warm water at home (unless I’m really tired!). There will be a pack in my hospital bag, and in Eleanor’s changing bag. (Hmm, wonder if I still have any of the many changing bags I bought for Rosemary, or if I’ll get the opportunity to buy a new one.)