A birth story

A birth story

It seems a bit strange to be writing about my birth experience when Toby is already four months old but it seems that a blog primarily about being a mum would be incomplete without a record of how my baby arrived in our family. I am also finding as the weeks and months pass I am forgetting some of what happened so I want to write it down before it disappears from my memory altogether!

I had a straightforward pregnancy really. I had nausea constantly from about week 6 to week 12 but I was only actually sick twice. From about 30 weeks I had quite severe pain in my hips but it came and went and only usually lasted a minute or two when it was there. Other than that I was just really tired, which wasn’t helped by the fact that I was still teaching (and on my feet for a lot of the day) right up to 37 weeks. And whereas in some jobs your colleagues might make allowances because you’re pregnant, teenage kids show no such sympathy!

My bump was measuring a couple of centimetres big throughout most of my pregnancy. I got really fed up with everyone asking me if I was sure it wasn’t twins, or telling me I was going to have a massive baby. I’m still not sure how measuring the outside of a bump can be at all accurate or useful – I know some of my bump was definitely due to excessive cake consumption and nothing to do with the size of my baby.

Anyway, to the birth. I had somewhat ill-advisedly decided to work right up until the end of the summer term, which took me to 37 weeks pregnant. I was really glad that the last couple of weeks of term were pretty quiet – I was huge, and knackered! If I had made it to my due date I would have had almost three weeks of summer holiday to relax and prepare myself. As it turned out Toby had different ideas! Eleven days after we broke up was sitting on the sofa with my husband and we were discussing whether we would be able to go to the recording of a comedy TV show which we had tickets for the next day. I got up to go to the loo and just before I got there my waters broke all over the kitchen floor! Decision made.

I wasn’t having any contractions or other signs of labour but after a quick call to the hospital they asked us to go in so I could be monitored. So at 11 pm we made our way to the maternity unit. We were there an hour or so while I was put on a monitor. The baby was doing fine and they could detect some mild contractions but nothing much was happening. The midwife advised us that their policy was to allow 72 hours after waters breaking for labour to start naturally before induction. Apparently after 72 hours there is a much greater risk of infection. So we were sent home with an induction booked for 3 days later and appointments to come in and be monitored on the days in between. I was so weird going home that night thinking that our baby could arrive at any time and would definitely be with us by the weekend.

The next day I was still leaking amniotic fluid but no sign of any contractions so we went back to the hospital in the afternoon as planned. While we were there one of the midwives came and said they were very busy on the day my induction was booked so would I mind being induced the next day instead. Now, I know some women maybe just want to get their baby out as soon as they can but I was keen to avoid an induction if I could help it. They seemed quite put out when I said no and tried to get me to change my mind, telling me I’d have to wait until the evening to come in on the planned induction day but I stood my ground and I’m glad I did. There was no medical reason to induce me earlier than planned, the baby was doing fine and I was only at 38 + 5 weeks so I didn’t want to rush him out if I didn’t need to. So off we went home again for another evening of waiting.

Luckily we didn’t have to wait too long. About 5 am the next day I woke up with a bit of a crampy feeling under my bump and in my back. I quite often woke up feeling a bit sore though so I wasn’t sure whether this was really the start of something. I drifted off back to sleep for another hour but when I woke up again the pain was still there. I decided to get up but told the hubby to stay in bed – if this was the start of labour then he needed as much sleep as he could get. I had some breakfast and watched a bit of TV but over the next hour or so the pains were getting stronger and I decided this was definitely labour. I started using an app on my phone to time the contractions and when they were about six minutes apart rang the hospital. I explained what was happening and they told me I could go in if I wanted but it was probably best if I stayed at home as long as I could. The hubby was up by this point – I had taken some paracetamol (which was doing nothing!) and was kneeling on the floor trying to do the breathing I’d learnt at pregnancy yoga. I think about half an hour after the initial call to the hospital I decided we weren’t waiting at home any more. The contractions were coming every three minutes by this point. The hospital was about half an hour’s drive away and I knew it was only going to get more uncomfortable the longer we waited. So we got our things together and set off.

We arrived at the hospital about 10 am and after settling us in one of the delivery rooms the midwife examined me. I was 3 cm dilated. She also gave me a sweep during the examination to ‘help things along’ and told me it was unlikely we’d see a baby before tea time and they would check me again in four hours. They contractions seemed be coming more frequently and more strongly, I wasn’t sure I could cope with another four hours of that! My birth plan was to try and avoid pain relief if I could; I had wanted to use the birthing pool for my delivery but the midwife explained that because of my waters having gone two days before I would need antibiotics via a drip during the labour to prevent any infection in me or the baby. I couldn’t go in the pool with a cannula in my hand so they would have to take it out then reinsert it a few times during the labour. I’d only had a drip once before and the cannula was really uncomfortable so I didn’t fancy that and decided to abandon the birth pool idea.

The midwife suggested I try getting in the bath instead. After about ten minutes though I gave up on that too – this was in July when we were in the middle of a heat wave. I was too hot in the bath and it wasn’t deep enough to cover my bump anyway. So I got out and tried to find some way of getting comfortable. I eventually found that kneeling up, hanging over the back of the bed seemed to be the most comfortable. It was now about 11:30 am and the contractions seemed to pretty much constant to me. There was no way this baby was waiting until tea time. The hubby had been doing a great job helping me with breathing through the contractions and rubbing my back but the pain was getting unbearable. I had a TENS machine on but that wasn’t doing much apart from giving me a button to push. I needed something stronger so we called for the midwife and got the gas and air hooked up. After that it gets a bit hazy for me – I kind of went into a world of my own, just sucking on the gas and air, occasionally asking for water, and just trying my best to cope with the pain. At some point during this stage I had to turn over on to my back while they put the cannula in my hand. It was excruciating – I have no idea how anyone manages to give birth lying flat on their back!

Anyway, I think maybe an hour passed before I felt the urge to start pushing (although as I think is quite common in labour I wasn’t sure at first if I wanted to start pushing the baby out or if I just needed a poo!). ‘Just do what you need to do’ advised the midwife. So I started pushing. The next bit didn’t really take very long. At first the baby’s head would come down then pop back up again after the contraction. Towards the end I had to stop using the gas and air because I was actually doing it so well I was breathing away the contractions. So with a couple more gas-free pushes Toby arrived in the world at 12:58 pm.

It was then a bit of a manoeuvre to turn from kneeling facing the back of the bed to lying down with Toby still attached by the umbilical cord! We managed it though and had immediate skin to skin contact while we waited for the cord to stop pulsating before the hubby cut it. He wasn’t sure if he would want to but then decided he might regret it if he’d had the opportunity but not done it. I had a managed third stage which was over in a few minutes without me really realising and I was massively relieved to have got away with out needing any stitches.

So, I didn’t need my induction after all. From the first twinge to the arrival of our beautiful baby took just eight hours. All the midwives seemed quite surprised at how quickly it had gone. In fact they said if I have another baby I should go to hospital as soon as I feel the first pain of labour because a second baby is likely to arrive even quicker! I never did get my antibiotics either. After they had put the cannula in my hand they didn’t have time to get them prescribed by one of the doctors before Toby was born. So I could have used the birthing pool after all!

I know I was very lucky to have such a straight forward pregnancy and labour. I honestly don’t know how women cope with labours that go on for days! Any longer and I think I would have been begging for an epidural. We spent one night in hospital so Toby could be monitored for infection and then although they were trying to get us to stay another night so we could get breastfeeding properly established I thought we were doing OK and just wanted to go home. So that was it. About 30 hours after we first arrived, we went back home taking our new baby with us.

A birth story

In the news: Paid to breastfeed

My social media has been awash with outrage today over a story that women in a pilot study are going to be ‘paid to breastfeed’. I’m not going to explain the whole thing here; chances are if you’re reading this it’s because you are already aware of the story and the resulting furore. (If not you can read the BBC news story here). It’s worth noting that although this has been a massive story in my timelines today it didn’t even make the main headlines on the BBC News app and was tucked away in the health section.

Anyway, it seems everyone is having their say so I thought I’d get my two penn’eth in while it’s still a hot topic. I’ve already written about my breastfeeding story so I’m not going to go into all the details again but suffice to say I really wanted to breastfeed my son and I would love to still be doing it now.

Would the chance to get £200 of shopping vouchers helped me to carry on? Probably not. I just wasn’t producing enough milk to exclusively breastfeed. Chances are that missing out on the vouchers would just have added to the feeling that I was some how failing my son.

However, would the possibility of me losing those vouchers meant that the midwife would have been less eager to suggest top up formula feeds when my baby was only three days old? Possibly.

Would the very presence of a scheme designed (in whatever misguided way) to encourage me to continue breastfeeding have led to me receiving more support in order to do that? Quite probably.

I think that Becky over at The Laughing Owls made a good point in her post on the matter – it sometimes seems health visitors and midwives are so concerned with a mother’s mental health that they pussyfoot around the issue of breastfeeding rather than providing encouragement and support. I remember repeatedly just being told I needed to do what was best for me, even if that meant stopping breastfeeding altogether, rather than being given encouragement to continue.

I’m sure most people reading this would agree that we would rather see money spent on training midwives and health visitors to better support breastfeeding, or on more specialist support workers, or more peer support groups, than as a direct financial incentive to try and get mothers to breastfeed and I’ll admit my first reaction was to join in the outrage going on all around me…

But this is where I’m going to make my, perhaps controversial, point. It’s a point I’ve not seen made in any of the blogs or comments I’ve read today (although I’ll admit I’ve not read even half of what has been written). You see, in amongst all the outrage I think we might have missed the point. This pilot scheme (and let’s remember it is only a pilot) isn’t aimed at me. It isn’t aimed at all the people who I follow on Twitter or Facebook. It isn’t aimed at women like me who really wanted to breastfeed but couldn’t, or even at women who considered all the pros and cons and then made a perfectly legitimate and informed decision to bottle feed their baby. This scheme is aimed at mothers in (and I quote the BBC) ‘deprived’ areas…

The areas have been chosen because they have such low breastfeeding rates. On average just one in four mothers are breastfeeding by the six- to eight-week mark compared with a national average of 55%.

So, this scheme is aimed at mothers who often don’t even try to breastfeed or if they do then they don’t keep it up for long. And maybe this pilot will show that for these women, a financial incentive, which I’m sure must be coupled with some sort of increased support from the midwives and health visitors who are to monitor the scheme, will help encourage them to breastfeed when otherwise they wouldn’t have done. And in my mind that can’t be a bad thing.

Toby is four months old!

Four months old baby
Four months! I can’t believe Toby is four months old. One the one hand it seems to have flown by but on the other he seems to have been with us forever!

Toby is developing so fast these days so I’m planning a monthly update to keep a track of where he’s up to.

He is holding his head really well now. He can sit in his Bumbo seat although does still seem to list to one side a bit. He also takes his weight on his legs really well and likes to stand with support.

Tummy time continues to go well – Toby has been able to lift his head since he was born pretty much but he now pushes up on his arms and has just figured out he can move them to reach for stuff. He does get frustrated on his tummy though – I think because he really wants to move but can’t yet! He’s rolled over from his front to his back on his own twice now but I think it was more luck than really on purpose. Toby is suffering a bit from plagiocephaly, or flat head, so we have to try and get him on his tummy or sitting up as much as possible when he’s awake to give it the best chance we can of growing into a more normal shape.

Toby has recently found his voice a lot more and likes to make lots of babbling noises but no distinct syllables yet. Although a few weeks ago he did very clearly just say ‘A’ but he hasn’t done it since! His chatting makes me laugh so much – he always seems quite serious about it. So cute.

No teeth yet – one of the babies from our NCT class has two already. And no real signs that they are imminent either. Toby is quite dribbley but he doesn’t really chew on anything and has only just started putting things in his mouth. I’ve started doing a bit of research about weaning but we’re planning on leaving that to as near six months as we can.

He can grasp toys and things fairly accurately and his now learning to let them go as well. We’re pretty sure he’s going to be left handed though as he really seems to favour hitting or grabbing toys on his bouncy chair or baby gym with his left hand.

And lastly, sleep. Toby is still sleeping through the night; about 14 hours usually, and hopefully that won’t change any time soon! The nap situation is improving too and I’ve managed to get him to have a nap of between one and two hours every afternoon this week.

So that’s it really. At four months old Toby seems to learn something new every day so I wonder where he’ll be when we get to five months?

Review: Nappykind Boutique

Nappykind boutique - Baby leggings and legwarmers
As you know if you’ve been reading this blog, Toby is a cloth bum baby. I’d seen other reviews of baby legwarmers suggesting they are a useful purchase for cloth nappy wearing babies and although I wasn’t convinced they would be that useful, particularly for a baby boy, I was interested to give them a try.

So when the lovely people at Nappykind Boutique offered me the chance to try some out I decided to give them a go. I was given a discount code to order whatever I wanted from the website so I chose the Huggalugs By The Ocean legwarmers and then I couldn’t resist the Cow Jumped Over The Moon leggings. (Both items seemed to have disappeared from the website so I am guessing they are out of stock at the moment.)

The Details

The legwarmers retail at £7.99 which to be honest is a bit expensive – but Nappykind have plenty of their own brand legwarmers from £1.99. The Huggalugs are very good quality though – they are soft and washed very well. Although the legwarmers are one size and sold as fitting ‘babies and kids’, at only 4 months they are quite big on Toby just now. They stay up without any trouble (and without leaving any marks on his skin) but because the cuff at the bottom is loose they to tend to slip over his feet leaving them flapping around. They do look very cute though and Toby seemed happy enough to wear them.

Nappykind boutique - Baby legwarmers

The leggings are what you would expect – there are quite a lot of different styles available, all with cute designs on the bum! I ordered the 6-12 months size as Toby is quite long and his cloth bum takes up a fair bit of room! The leggings are still quite loose but stay on fine and at least they’ve got plenty of room to grow into. I was a little disappointed with the quality of the leggings compared to to legwarmers – the label was quite scratchy and not sewn in properly and there are quite a lot of loose threads on the reverse of the pattern. However at only £3.99 I thought they were reasonably priced. They have held up OK in the wash too.

Nappykind boutique - The Cow Jumped Over The Moon Baby Leggings

The Pros

Both the legwarmers and leggings look very cute and they are useful for putting on around the house – although I can’t really see myself taking Toby out in them. I think though,as he gets more mobile, they should be good as they don’t restrict his movement at all like dungarees or jeans might. There are also none of the problems I have with getting trousers to fit over his big cloth bum!

The Cons

None really – they are definitely more of a ‘nice to have’ rather than essential items. I can see both the legwarmers and leggings being more useful for a little girl. The legwarmers would be a great alternative to tights under a dress, and you would be able to show off the cute bum designs on the leggings under a dress too.

I have to say as well that the legwarmers are sold (not just by Nappykind but all over) as being great for quick nappy changes. But with my wriggly little baby I wouldn’t risk leaving them on during a change as he would be bound to get them dirty as soon as his nappy was undone!

The Verdict

Nappykind Boutique have a great range of legwarmers, leggings and other baby items (hats, shoes, cloth nappies) and they are all very reasonably priced. The only thing that slightly let down the service for me was that my order took two weeks to arrive (to be fair this was due to a supplier issue and they thought I had received an email about it but I hadn’t) and the parcels were sent using second class large letter stamps which would be fine if I hadn’t been charged £3.20 for shipping. Having said all that I believe Nappykind Boutique is run by two university students and is a fairly new business so I’d be happy to buy from them again in future.

**Disclaimer: I received a discount on the purchase of these items in order to write this review and was able to keep them. However, all opinions are my own.

Grabbing toys (The Ordinary Moments #1)

I’ve been reading a lot of other blogs lately and I’ve seen a lot of them linking up with Katie’s {The Ordinary Moments} linky over at Mummy Daddy Me. It seems like a really nice idea to record not just the big milestones but some of the ordinary stuff too.

So here’s my ordinary moments for this week – although actually they’re kind of big moments too!

grabbing toys
I grabbed it!

We got this baby gym when Toby was only about 6 weeks old – at first he didn’t really like it because he couldn’t reach any of the toys. Then he started being able to hit the toys but would get bored quite quickly. A few weeks ago he managed to grab the toys occasionally. This week he is pretty much grabbing toys on his first try and yesterday he not only grabbed one but managed to pull it into his mouth too.

Which leads us on to this one taken this morning…

grabbing toys
I got it in my mouth!

Up until the last few days the only thing Toby has been interested in putting in his mouth is his fingers or sometimes a muslin. Everyone always says babies put everything in their mouths but Toby hasn’t seemed to bothered. But I think it’s starting – for the first time today the teething toy went straight in and he chewed on it for quite a while. Maybe it won’t be too long before we start seeing some teeth!

mummy daddy me

Let the battle commence! (Or ‘Time to shift the baby weight’)

I’ve battled with my weight since my teens. I wrote about it quite a lot on my other blog in my pre-baby days.

My weight issues explained
Up the ladder
And down the snake
The pre-wedding plan

So essentially, before I met the Mr I lost 3 stone with Lighter Life. I then put some of it back on, lost some again in time for our wedding and then put more back on (with the help of a three week honeymoon in America!). And then I got pregnant…

36 weeks pregnant with a lot of baby weight
My massive baby bump

For the first three months of pregnancy I felt sick constantly. I was only actually sick twice so I count myself as one of the lucky ones, but the only way to ease the nausea was to eat. And eat I did. Then the nausea went away but I kept eating. I loved my pregnant body. For the first time in a lot of years I was proud to show off my tummy. But for the first time in years I also ate whatever I wanted without feeling guilty about it. With the result I put on 3 stone over the course of my pregnancy (and I was already a stone over my ‘happy weight’ before I started!). As you can see from the picture I got pretty big – everyone was convinced I was going to have a massive baby but in the end he was only 6lb 10oz.

I lost a stone over night when I gave birth but that was 4 months ago and I still weigh the same now.

I think 4 months is long enough for my ‘I’ve just had a baby, I don’t need to lose weight yet’ rational so the time has come to start doing something about it. It’s time to shift the baby weight. I always say that my problem isn’t what I eat for my meals (apart from the not-so-occasional-lately take-away) but all the chocolate that I eat in between. Being on maternity leave has also seemed to include a lot more cake than before too!

So, here’s the plan. I need a bit of motivation so I’m going to post my progress here each month. I’m not going to go on any crazy diet (I’ve done enough of those in my time) and I’m not going to turn to an organised weight loss group (although I’ve done those before too). I’m just going to be sensible with what I eat and I’ve downloaded the free My Fitness Pal app to keep track of my daily calorie intake and any exercise I do.

So here’s my starting stats:

Weight: 13st 8lb (That actually makes me feel a bit sick to type)

Waist: 37 inches

Hips: 45.5 inches

Bust: 42 inches

Let the battle commence; it’s time to shift the baby weight – wish me luck!

Toby goes to sleep (or not!)

Toby goes to sleep
Nap time

Sleep. That illusive beast that all new parents seem to obsess about. I have to admit, I love my sleep. Before I was a mum it wasn’t unheard of for me to sleep for 12 hours or more (at least at the weekends when I didn’t have to go to work). I can nap pretty much anywhere and any time. Long car journeys or flights are no problem for me – I just sleep. So sleep, or lack of it, was one of the things that worried me most about being a new parent.

In in the early days there definitely was a lot of sleep deprivation…


I’m going to get this bit out up front, and if you hate me for it then I totally understand if you don’t carry on reading. Toby is almost 17 weeks old and has been sleeping through the night for the last 5 weeks or so. And when I say he sleeps through the night I mean from about 6:30pm until about 8am (or sometimes even later). No waking up. No dream feeds. Just sleeping. And then he doesn’t even cry when he wakes up. Just lies there sucking his thumb and chilling out until one of us goes to get him up. This is what we are usually greeted by in the morning…

Baby sleep
Morning mum!

To be honest I think most of this is just down to good luck. We did start a bedtime routine of bath, feed, bed quite early on and we moved him into his own room when he was about 6 weeks old which helped us stop disturbing one another. We have always tried to put Toby into his cot awake so he has learnt to go to sleep on his own but apart from that I think we have just been lucky to have a baby who sleeps.

This wasn’t always the case though. Until we got Toby’s reflux under control with the proper medication his feeding and sleeping were all over the place. He wouldn’t feed very much in one go and so needed to be fed every couple of hours day and night. But once he could feed comfortably and take more at each feed he could go longer between feeds and his night time sleep started getting better. We did briefly experiment with a dream feed when we went to bed but then I read The Sensational Baby Sleep Plan** by Alison Scott-Wright which pointed out that waking a baby to feed him when you are trying to get him to sleep is somewhat counter-productive. I know dream feeds work for some people and I’m all for doing whatever works for you but it never seemed to make Toby sleep any longer anyway.

So, however we managed it (or rather Toby managed it!) we have a baby who sleeps fantastically at night. We have our evenings to ourselves and we get a full night’s sleep. And for that I am eternally grateful. But now we need to work on the aspects of Toby’s sleep that aren’t so great…the day time naps.

We do quite a lot of different activities during the week – Baby Sensory on a Monday, Bookbug at the library on Tuesday, swimming on Wednesday, meet another mum for a walk and coffee on Thursday – and this has meant that I haven’t really given Toby any consistency in his day time naps. He sleeps really well in his buggy or in the car but I really struggle to get him to nap for more that half an hour or so at home. Seeing as how his night time sleeping seems pretty sorted (although I am prepared for the fact that we might well go back to square one when teething starts) I’ve decided to try and get some sort of regularity into day time naps. We are starting with a post-lunch nap at about 12pm. My plan is to feed Toby, take him upstairs, clean nappy, curtains closed, into sleeping bag and then hopefully sleep! I was prepared for this to be quite hard work but actually for the last two days the plan has gone like a dream. Yesterday I put Toby down and he slept without any fuss for 90 minutes. As I write this he has been asleep for just over an hour! I’m sure there must be something wrong though – it can’t be this easy! Fingers crossed though that he is just going to accept this new nap and I’ll actually get an hour or two during the day to get stuff done.

So does sleep come easy in your house? Do you have a routine of bedtime and nap times or do you just let your little one take the lead? I don’t want to get into such a rigid routine that we can never go anywhere or do anything but I think I need some structure to the day and Toby needs to be given the best possible chance of sleeping when he needs it.

**I picked this book up in a charity shop and bought it because it has a great chapter about reflux but the sleep advice is pretty common sense and I found it quite useful too.


Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Well, things have got off to a flying start in the world of Toby Goes Bananas! I’m amazed and delighted by the number of people who have read, commented, liked, followed and all the rest off it. And so the latest addition to the blog is (hopefully) the chance to follow on Bloglovin’ too…that is if I’ve managed to do this right!

Thanks for all the support so far and hopefully here’s to many more posts to come.