5 things I wish I’d known before having a baby

Before Toby was born I read loads of pregnancy and baby books. I went to antenatal classes with my husband. I signed up for all the ‘your baby this week’ emails…basically I did my research. That’s just the kind of person I am; I liked to be informed and therefore hopefully be prepared. But it turns out no amount of research can actually prepare you for that first night at home with a newborn. I’ve now had two babies and I thought I’d share some things I wish I’d known before having a baby.

5 things I wish I'd known before having a baby Read more

Review: aden + anais muslin bodysuit

Every parent knows how useful a muslin cloth can be, especially if you’ve got a sicky or reflux baby like Gabe. We go through several every day! They also come in useful as makeshift bibs, blankets, changing mats…you name it, a muslin is always a useful thing to have around. I first heard of aden + anais when Toby was small – they are very well known for their muslin swaddle blankets. What I didn’t know until recently, when the lovely people behind Mummy and Little Me got in touch, was that as well as their muslin blankets, sleeping bags, bibs and various other products, aden + anais have also recently launched a range of baby clothes made from their super soft muslin.

aden + anais

We were sent a kimono style long-sleeved bodysuit for Gabe to try, in a fab blue star print (and I do love a star!). As I expected the muslin material is really soft, and it just gets softer with every wash. It is made with 5% spandex so has a slight stretch to it as well – essential for a wriggly baby! The kimono style means it is really easy to put on said wriggly baby too – it has poppers on both sides of the body meaning it opens out completely and you don’t have to try and pull anything over the baby’s head.

We were sent the bodysuit in 3-6 months, and it fits Gabe really well at 4 months. There isn’t a huge amount of growing room left in it for him but he is a pretty big baby and is growing out of most of his 3-6 month clothes now so I would say it is true to size.

aden + anais bodysuit

Gabe looks really comfortable in his aden + anais bodysuit and I love how the material is so soft against his skin. At £19 it is perhaps on the expensive side for a bodysuit but it is really great quality and would definitely last for a second baby. I think it would make a lovely gift for a new baby too, and is something that little bit different.

You can see some of the other products in the aden + anais range on Mummy and Little Me… I’m tempted to get some of the muslin sleepsuits in the range – I think they will be really great for the warmer weather in the summer.

**Disclosure: I was sent the featured product in return for this review. All opinions are my own.

We're going on an adventure

Gabriel is three months old

I swear it was only two minutes since I was writing Gabe’s two month update – time really does fly with a baby in the house! So what has Gabe been getting up to now he’s three months old?

three months old

He continues to grow, although he’s not quite as big as Toby was at the same age. I had him weighed nearly two weeks ago and he was 12lb 1oz so I’m sure he’s more than that now. He’s also moving into all 3-6 month clothes, after growing out of the last of the bigger 0-3 month sleepsuits. We just got a bag of Toby’s old clothes down out of the loft so I’m going to swap everything over tomorrow…and then see if I can justify any more shopping, but I think probably not!

Although I said in Gabe’s two month update that I had finished breastfeeding altogether I actually carried on giving the odd comfort feed for a few more weeks and I think he was close to 11 weeks when he had his last breastfeed. He is now usually having five bottles a day, and amazingly for the last three nights he hasn’t had a night feed at all! Yep, he has slept from 7 pm to around 6 am for the last three nights! I am under no illusion that this is likely to be a permanent situation, after all Toby slept for a solid 13 hours every night from being 10 weeks old… until he was 18 weeks old and then he never slept consistently again until he was two! However, it’s a promising sign that he can do and I can only live in hope that it carries on. I’m certainly enjoying not having to get up in the night for the moment.

slept through the night

Day time naps are going quite as well but we are making some progress there. Gabe does usually have at least one nap a day in his crib, sometimes more, and his other naps are either in the car or on my lap while I watch TV when Toby is at nursery in the afternoons. Some naps in his crib he manages two hours but more often it’s between 45 minutes and an hour. There is a sure fire way to get him to have a long nap and that is for me to have a nap with him in bed…which is lovely, but not always practical! Anyway, I’m just going to keep persevering and hopefully he’ll get into more of a nap routine soon. It’s hard to know how much of a role Gabe’s reflux his having on his ability (or inability) to nap. It’s difficult to get the timings of his feeds right – if I put him down too soon after a feed then he’s just sick, but if I wait too long then he gets over tired or starts to get hungry again. His reflux does seem to be mostly under control now – he’s still on Gaviscon and ranitidine. He still struggles after feeds sometimes, crying with pain, and it seems some days he’s much more sick than others, but on the whole he doesn’t seem too bothered by it.

We’re still not getting loads of smiles but it is lovely when he does. He’s definitely a lot more aware of what is going on around him now and will watch as we move around the room. He’s starting to grab at the toys on his bouncy chair now, and even manages to get them sometimes too. He’s making moves towards trying to roll over from his back to his front too, although I think he’s quite a way off actually doing it yet.

grabbing toys

I think that’s about it for this month. I still can’t believe how fast time is going. We already don’t have a tiny newborn, and I bet it’ll seem like no time at all until he’s rolling over, sitting up, and then we’ll be weaning before we know it! I think I said last month that I don’t want to wish the time away but I’m very excited for what is soon to come.

0-3 months

Gabriel is two months old

Two months old already. As life continues at breakneck pace it seems like Gabe has been a part of our family for much longer than two months now. He certainly doesn’t look like the tiny baby who arrived onto our living room floor back in August! As I’ve mentioned in some of my weekly Living Arrows posts we are slowly figuring things out and settling into some sort of routine. I’m still finding some days a struggle looking after Gabe and Toby – there’s still quite a lot of CBeebies getting watched but everyone is surviving and I’m just telling myself that Toby is learning some really important life lessons from Bing and Mr Tumble.

Head up

If you read my post a few weeks ago about the beginning of the end for breastfeeding you’ll already know that we were slowly heading towards completely bottle feeding. Well, I last breastfed Gabe on Friday, and it worked wonders on Thursday night when he was really unsettled after having his first immunisations, but these have only been comfort feeds and he is getting all his nutrition now from formula. I’m pleased we made to eight weeks with him getting at least some breast milk but I’m also happy that we have made the right decision for all of us as a family. Gabe is still suffering from reflux and giving him bottles means he can have Gaviscon much more easily. He’s also taking ranitidine which helps to control the acid. We seem to have things under control with the reflux, and although I’m sad he has to suffer from it at all, at least we’re managing it. And he’s gaining weight well – he was up to 10 lb 4.5 oz on Thursday, which means he’s put on 2 lb in as many weeks! He’s almost growing out of some of his 0-3 sleepsuits now too – his feet are right in the bottom, especially when he’s got a big cloth nappy on at night. Speaking of cloth nappies Gabe still hasn’t worn a disposable since he was three days old and he’s now too big for some of the newborn nappies so he’s graduated to the birth to potty ones and so both he and Toby are wearing the same nappies and I’m having to wash them nearly every day – time for some nappy shopping I think!

Bottle feeding Gabe has helped us get into a routine of feeds roughly every three hours through the day with naps in between (in theory). I’m trying my best to get Gabe to nap in his crib at home but a lot of the time I just end up putting him in our Lillebaby carrier which seems to have magical properties that send him straight to sleep. I actually think I could get him to nap in his crib more if I could spend ten or fifteen minutes settling him but I can’t leave Toby roaming the house for that long on his own so if Gabe doesn’t fall asleep within five minutes then into the carrier he goes! He’s sleeping very well at night though which is brilliant. We’ve now got our bedtime routine pretty much down and both boys are usually in bed asleep by 7:30 pm. Gabe will then generally sleep until somewhere between midnight and 3 am. His wake ups have been getting a bit earlier lately but I can sometimes put him off for another hour with a dummy and a rub on the back – that’s when having the co-sleeper crib really comes into its own. I’m usually up with him for an hour – he tends to drink his milk with a break in the middle for a burp and a nappy change. I had a few nights a week or so ago when I was up with him for two hours but thankfully we seem to back to an hour again now. After that he then sleeps until about 6 am and I’m not sure whether he might sleep a bit longer but Barry has to get up for work then and I think that maybe disturbs him. Whilst Gabe is sharing a room with us (and he will be for a while yet because we don’t really have any other options) there’s not a lot we can do about it anyway.

First smile

We starting to get a lot more smiles now which is so lovely. He doesn’t smile that often but when he does treat you to one it lights up his whole face. I still can’t tell if he’s got dimples like Toby though! He’s very alert now and always looking around to see what’s going on. He’s also a lot happier just to sit in his bouncy chair for a while which makes a world of difference to me – I can usually manage to eat my breakfast without a baby strapped to my front at least!

I’m trying not to wish away these newborn days but I can’t help but look forward to the next few months as Gabe continues to develop and starts to interact a bit more. I’m hoping that as that happens Toby might start to find him a bit more interesting too and they can amuse each other rather than constantly demanding my attention (although I am well aware that that is going to carry on for years yet!)

Two months old

So, at two months old Gabe is well and truly a part of the family now. I’m proud of myself that I’m coping with two kids and despite some tough days we are all getting along just fine!


Breastfeeding: The beginning of the end

I’ve tried. No one can say I haven’t tried. But as I sit here at 5 am having been feeding a baby for the last hour and twenty minutes I think this is the beginning of the end for breastfeeding and me.

In fact, the beginning of the end was probably when I gave Gabe formula when he was just a day old. Or maybe it was when I started using nipple shields on his second feed. Or perhaps when a second or third bottle in the day became the norm rather than the exception about a week ago. Who knows?

I think maybe though that breastfeeding and me are just not meant to be. For me it’s just not the wonderful experience all the breastfeeding literature and baby books tell you it’s going to be. In fact, dare I say it, I simply don’t like it. I don’t feel any special bond with my baby as we sit ‘enjoying’ those breastfeeding cuddles. What I often feel is pain (because yes, even seven weeks on, with nipple shields, it still hurts half the time), and frustration that it takes so long to feed a baby in the way nature intended when I could bottle feed him in a third of the time. I don’t know, maybe cave women didn’t have much to do with their days so they could sit around feeding all day but I have a toddler to look after and a house to run and I just can’t sustain breastfeeding my baby for endless hours of every day.

I know everyone talks about the convenience of breastfeeding; no bottles to wash and sterilise, no formula to prepare, no need to plan ahead because you’ve always got milk on tap, and I suppose it is all those things but when every feed takes over an hour, feeding in public involves trying to get a baby latched on to a nipple shield without showing everyone your entire boob…then suddenly it’s not that convenient after all.

So I don’t really know where we’re going to go from here. I guess I’ll just take it one day at a time. Gabe is already getting half his feeds from a bottle and I reckon by the time he gets to 8 weeks old we won’t be breastfeeding at all.

And yes, it makes me a bit sad. I really hoped that breastfeeding was going to work out for us this time. By Toby’s six week check I wasn’t breastfeeding him at all so we’ve already made it further than that. So Toby was formula fed from about five weeks and he’s turned out OK and I’m sure Gabe will too. There’s still plenty to be proud of; that we made it this far, that I’ve managed to breastfeed in the park, and in the Night Garden(!), that I’ve tried my best to find a balance that works for all of us. I think I just need to accept that breastfeeding and me are not meant to be. But no one can say I didn’t try.

Breastfeeding and me

Gabriel is one month old

One month old already, and what a month it’s been! I’m not going to lie, this month has been really hard, but I’ve already written about that here.


There have been some lovely moments this month too like seeing Toby giving his brother a kiss on the head is adorable, and he often does it without any prompting. Toby has also learnt to say ‘Gabe’ now too and when he sees him in the morning or after nursery he says ‘hello Gabe’ – too cute! And although they have been a bit few and far between, those newborn snuggles are very sweet too.

Gabe is mostly still just feeding and sleeping (although mostly feeding!). We are still breastfeeding, but have introduced a bottle of formula at about 7pm so Barry can give him that while I put Toby in bed. We might have to give another bottle of formula during the day too as although Gabe is gaining weight it’s not quite as much as we would like. He was 7lb 3oz yesterday which is only 6oz more than when he was born and he has dropped from between the 9th and 25th centiles down to the 2nd. Considering the amount he is feeding he should really be putting on a bit more weight. I really do want to carry on with the breastfeeding but if he needs formula then I’m not going to beat myself up about it. I went to see a lactation consultant yesterday and she was great. She checked Gabe for any issues and basically said it seems like I’m producing quite a lot of milk but because Gabe isn’t that good at getting the milk from me yet that’s why he’s always wanting to feed and isn’t gaining that much weight. She gave me some things to try to see if we can improve matters and hopefully as Gabe gets bigger he’ll get better at feeding too.

We still think Gabe has silent reflux as well – he’s now on ranitidine (which is the same medicine Toby has) but it’s difficult to know if it’s really making any difference. We found he was starting to bring up most of the feed when we used normal formula so have now switched to anti-reflux formula which is much better.

So there have been a few issues to contend with, and probably one of the hardest months of my life, but Gabe is starting to be awake and alert a bit more now and I know it won’t be too long before he will start interacting more too. It makes the difficult bits a lot easier to deal with when you at least get a smile for your troubles!

Nobody said it was easy. . .

I’ve just spent another day sat on the sofa trapped underneath a feeding baby. When, after several hours, I finally seem to fill him up he sleeps, but wakes the minute I try to move him off my lap. And so I sit, playing endless games of Candy Crush or refreshing my Twitter feed for the hundredth time. 

Barry has been doing a fantastic job of getting Toby up, dressed and fed, of playing with him, of deflecting his never ending requests for apple. I try and encourage Toby to sit with me for a cuddle, or get a book for us to read together, but it seems that while mummy is constantly hidden by a baby who never seems to move from her knee, Toby prefers to keep his distance. Sometimes he can be persuaded to give me a cuddle before he goes off to nursery for the afternoon but often a quick ‘bye’ from the doorway is all I get. 

And so I sit some more, I sit while my husband brings me sandwiches, and biscuits, and cups of tea that I drink luke warm for fear of spilling them on the baby. He goes shopping, does laundry and spends what seems like hours of everyday keeping on top of the endless washing up. 

In the early evening I usually manage to snatch 15 minutes to put Toby to bed, after Barry has done the hard part of getting him ready, and then he spends the time I’m with Toby trying to comfort a crying baby who won’t be comforted because daddy doesn’t have boobs to provide milk on tap. 

After some more sitting, and eating my dinner from a plate precariously balanced on the edge of a feeding pillow, I spend the night trying to catch snatches of sleep in between moving a baby from one side to the other and sleeping without moving, constantly tense in case by letting my baby sleep next to me I some how end up hurting him. If we’re lucky Toby stays asleep, but if not I have to listen to him crying for me whilst his daddy does his best to calm him and get him back to sleep. 

And then the morning comes and we start all over again. 

Barry goes back to work on Monday and I have no idea how I am going to get myself and the two boys up, dressed and fed, entertain Toby all morning and then get him to nursery in the afternoon. I anticipate a lot of tears from all of us. 

We didn’t come into this situation with our eyes shut. We knew having another baby, when Toby was only just two, would be difficult.  

Nobody said it would be easy…I just didn’t realise it would be this hard. 


Gabriel is one week old

I can hardly believe it but Gabriel (or Gabe as we have taken to calling him) has been here a whole week. I know everyone says this but on the one hand it hardly seems a minute since he was born but on the other it feels like he’s been part of our family forever.

one week old

There have been lots of lovely moments this week, but it has been very hard at times too. A couple of weeks ago Barry and I were lying in bed and we were trying to remember how difficult we found the first few weeks with Toby. We were thinking if we tried to remember we would be more prepared and able to cope this time round. And I kind of think we are. It’s certainly not quite as much as a shock as having a baby for the first time and some things, like changing nappies, bathing and dressing are a lot easier this time round. But there are lots of things that are just as hard.The lack of sleep doesn’t get any easier, and this time we’ve got the worry that Toby will wake up in the night too and then we have him to deal with too. He’s only woken up on two nights since Gabe arrived but both times he was up for almost two hours. I was feeding Gabe so couldn’t go to him but when Barry went to him he was just sobbing ‘mummy, mummy, mummy’ over and over. I was trying to feed Gabe, which I had been doing pretty much constantly for the previous nine or ten hours. He was fussing and wouldn’t latch on, Toby was crying, I was crying… Listening to both my babies crying for me at the same time and not being able to help either of them was I think the single hardest thing I have ever done. Eventually we decided that Barry would give Gabe a little bit of formula so I could go to Toby and get him settled and back asleep. Not the ideal solution but it was the best we could do at the time.

Generally though Toby has been an absolute superstar with his new brother this week. He was a little shy around him the first few days and I think he was quite confused about how he got here, and that he didn’t go away. But he has been so gentle with him, giving him kisses and bringing him toys. It’s just adorable. His language has come on even more this week too. He’s being very helpful, taking cups back to the kitchen and putting things in the bin, all accompanied by his new phrase and the cutest thing I’ve heard – ‘I will do it’. This weekend, for the first time ever, Toby just fell asleep next to me on the sofa. He has only ever napped in his cot or in the car or buggy, and hasn’t been napping at all for the last month or so. Maybe he got the idea from his brother that a nap on mummy’s knee would be a good idea!

sleeping babies

Anyway, this is supposed to be a post about Gabe, not Toby! On the whole Gabe seems to be a pretty contented, settled baby so far. He won’t sleep anywhere except lying on my breastfeeding pillow, either on someone’s knee or on the sofa. We’ve tried putting him like that in his crib (which I know is not a great solution either) but he just seems to wake up straight away. This means that since he was born either Barry or I have been awake the whole time, with the exception of a couple of hours when Gabe has managed to sleep in our bed and we have both slept too. I know that not wanting to be put down is all part and parcel of being a newborn and I’m trying not to get too stressed about it for now but I do hope we can find some way for us all to get some sleep at the same time before Barry has to go back to work in a few weeks.

I’m really pleased with how breastfeeding is going so far with Gabe. I didn’t have a great time of breastfeeding Toby (you can read about it here if you’re interested) so I was hoping we would have more success this time. I’ve still had difficulty getting him to latch, just like I did with Toby – I think it’s just a combination of small babies and my anatomy. I started using nipple shields on the first day this time though, which has helped enormously. Gabe can feed without too much trouble and I have avoided my nipples being shredded. I saw one of the NHS breastfeeding support workers last week and even she, after watching and trying help me get Gabe to latch just said ‘you know what, if it means that you carry on breastfeeding then just use the shields for now’. We also supplemented with formula a few times before my milk came in. Again, from experience with Toby I didn’t want Gabe to lose too much weight and I could tell he was struggling to be satisfied just from my colostrum and my milk didn’t come in properly until about day 5. So feeding itself is going well but we have been having epic cluster feeds every night which are quite hard to cope with. On Friday night I started feeding Gabe at about half four in the afternoon and I don’t think I had more than half an hour between feeds until 12 hours later! We’ve settled into a bit of a routine now in that I feed breastfeed as much as Gabe wants through the evening, usually manage a couple of hours sleep between about 9 and 11pm then feed again until about 2am. At this point Gabe has been getting really fussy and hard to latch on and I’ve reached my limit of being able to stay awake so we give him a little bit of formula and that seems to settle him enough to sleep until the morning. Hopefully as he gets a bit bigger we might be able to stop these top ups, or I am also going to trying to express a bit so we can give him expressed milk instead of formula. For now though I’m just happy that I am managing to breastfeed at all, and for the most part without any real problems.

I’m going to leave it there for now – it’s been a difficult first week at times but it’s also been amazing to see this little boy who I have been carrying for the last nine months and I’m very happy that our family is now a happy family of four. I’ll leave you with this picture of my boys in their matching nappies – I’m so pleased that we got Gabe in cloth nappies from the first week – and they’re so cute!

matching nappies

Gabriel: a home birth story

So, you can read about what happened in the run up to labour in this post and I’m going to continue the story here…

Give us a wink

Having told Barry and my parents I didn’t think anything was going to happen that night we went to bed at about 10pm and I was hoping labour might start the next morning when Toby was in nursery and we’d had a full night’s sleep. But as I lay in the dark I realised that the cramps I’d been having earlier were perhaps getting a bit stronger and more regular. I found the contraction timer on my pregnancy app and counted as I had three mild contractions over the next 20 minutes. The procedure for a home birth was that I call the consultant led unit at the hospital who would get in touch with the on call midwife. I decided it was probably a good idea to give them a ring and let them know what was happening.

I spoke to the hospital at about 10:40 pm and they said they would get the on call midwife to give me a ring. By the time she rang 40 minutes later my contractions were 5-6 minutes apart and with my history of a quick labour she decided she better get changed back out of her pyjamas and come over. While we were waiting for the midwife we got together all the things I’d prepared and put a waterproof mattress protector and old sheet over the sofa, just in case my waters decided to go when I wasn’t expecting it!

The midwife arrived not long after midnight. After a quick chat she felt my tummy – the baby was still head down and well engaged. She then listened in to the baby’s heartbeat. His heart rate was a little low – it should be between 120 and 150 bpm and the baby’s was only 104. Heart rates in babies fluctuate a lot though so the midwife said she would do an internal examination then check again. The internal revealed my cervix was soft and thinned but still only 1-2cm dilated. I knew this didn’t mean much though – with Toby I went from 3cm to having him 3 hours later so I knew this time things could progress just as quickly if not quicker.

The midwife checked the heart rate again. It was up slightly but still only 108 bpm. At this point the midwife advised us that if the heart rate didn’t pick up soon then we would be better off in hospital so he could be more closely monitored. I decided it was probably a good time to get my mum and dad over so they could watch Toby if I did need to go in.

Of course when the midwife checked again just after I hung up the baby’s heart rate was up to something like 126 bpm and it stayed up there for the rest of my labour! While all this was happening my contractions were still coming and getting a bit stronger each time. I was coping fine with the pain at this point just using the breathing techniques I had been taught at the pregnancy yoga classes I went to. The midwife decided we would probably be OK to stay at home so she started unpacking all the kit she needed. There was quite a lot of bumping and banging and Toby actually woke up and cried at one point but thankfully he got himself back to sleep quickly.

Over the next hour we found a Star Wars documentary to watch – a bit random I know but there’s not much on TV in the early hours of the morning. I had a go at bouncing on my birthing ball which was comfortable between contractions but I actually found standing up and leaning on the arm of the sofa whilst rocking my hips was the most comfortable place to have a contraction for this part, I had my TENS machine on by now too but only on about level 4 on the first programme (of which there were 3, and they went up to level 50!), I concentrated on my breathing and pressed the boost button every time I contracted, which was getting to be more and more frequently. The midwife was still checking the baby’s heart rate with the doppler every 15 minutes. It stayed in the normal range which was great but pressing the doppler into my bump started to get really uncomfortable and annoying!

About 1:30 am my mum and dad turned up. After a quick hello they headed upstairs to bed (although my mum didn’t actually sleep for the rest of the night – I suppose it must be quite weird listening to your daughter give birth and be wondering what is happening.) Around this point Barry cleared space on the living room floor in front of the sofa and covered the floor with some waterproof mats we used to use when Toby was weaning, along with an old sheet and some towels. I took up the position where I ended up staying for most of the rest of my labour – kneeling in front of the sofa, leaning forward onto a cushion. This was the same position I had Toby in too – I guess that’s just what works for me. I think when I made the move to this position the midwife realised that things were really moving along so she called the second midwife who arrived about 45 minutes later.

I think at about 2:30 I decided I couldn’t manage just breathing through the contractions any more and got the gas and air. I also got Barry to come and sit next to me so I could squeeze his hand, and I put him in charge of pressing the boost button on the TENS machine as it was starting to annoy me trying to find it every time (by this point I was on the second programme at about level 10). He was also in charge of dispensing Jelly Babies! I started to relax with the effects of the gas and air – I remember saying to Barry ‘I didn’t tell you this last time but it is like being drunk’ to which he replied ‘yeah, you told me that last time’. I also found it funny at this point that because I was leaning over in quite a short night shirt everyone could see my bum! I actually got quite chatty at this point, in between the contractions which were coming thick and fast, sometimes without a break in between them at all. I was moaning a bit at the height of the contractions but I did try and remember a couple of things I’d read in Ina May Gaskin’s ‘A Guide to Childbirth’; firstly that keeping an open and relaxed mouth would help the cervix open and relax too, and that low pitched noises would help me do this. A couple of times I caught myself clamping my teeth down on the gas and air mouth piece so I made a conscious effort to relax my jaw.

Some time after 3 am I started to really feel my cervix opening up. I think this was the point last time that I heard myself saying ‘I can’t do this!’ This time in my determination to be more positive I was saying ‘I can do this’. I was still on my knees, leaning on my arms on the sofa. I remember the midwife asking if I was feeling ‘pushy’ and I said no but on the next contraction I started pushing. The midwives were getting together all the things they would need once the baby was born, and they put some of those absorbent mats underneath me. After a few more contractions the midwife said she could see my waters bulging and then I think on the next contraction they went, splashing below me. According to Barry it was quite dramatic. Another couple of pushes (and some pretty loud screaming from me – how Toby didn’t wake up I will never know!) saw the head come out and one more and the body followed. At 3:43 am, after about 6 hours of active labour, our second son, Gabriel, was born.

Just born

The midwife caught him and passed him up between my legs. One of the first things I said was ‘he looks just like Toby’. I knelt and looked at him for a little while then the midwife helped me turn over to sit down. By this time the cord had stopped pulsating so the midwife tied on the cord tie I had made and Barry got to cut the cord. I was planning on having the syntometrine injection for a managed third stage but the second midwife asked if I would rather just wait and see if the placenta came on its own and within a few minutes and couple of small pushes it did. The midwife then checked me for any damage, I got away with just a small graze at the front – exactly the same as with Toby. I’m glad I make babies with small heads!

First kiss

I moved up to the sofa with Gabriel wrapped in a towel, which he had already filled with meconium that was getting all over his legs and feet as well as his bum! Barry went upstairs to let my mum and dad know the news and my mum came down to say hello. She chatted to the midwives while they filled in all their paperwork and me and Barry got to know our son. I managed to get Gabriel to latch on to feed fairly quickly which I was really pleased about as I’d found it so difficult with Toby. A while later the midwives weighed Gabriel – he was 6lb 13oz, just 3oz more than his brother had been.

First feed

Barry held Gabriel under his t-shirt for some skin to skin while I managed to go through to the loo and get cleaned up a bit. Just before this I had been really shaky. I didn’t feel unwell or cold but I just couldn’t stop my legs in particular shaking and jerking. Apparently it can happen because of all the adrenaline that is in your body after giving birth. My blood pressure was fine though so I had a banana and plenty of water and soon started to feel OK again.

Funny face

The second midwife left some time around 5 am and then by 6 am everything was cleared up and both midwives had left. Half an hour later Toby woke up so Barry went and got him dressed then brought him downstairs to meet his new brother. My dad made an appearance as well – he’d slept through the whole thing too! This was the main reason I had wanted a home birth; not because I had any particular desire to actually give birth at home but because within a couple of hours of having my baby I was in my living room with all my family around me.

A few hours old

So that’s it, the birth story of baby Gabriel. I’m sure there are bits I’ve missed out but it’s long enough as it is! I don’t claim to be any kind of expert now but if you have any questions about what it is like to have a home birth then I will do my best to help.

I’m sure I’ll be writing plenty more about life with a newborn too but for now, as I finish writing this, Gabe is sleeping beside me, he is almost 6 days old and he is adorable. He hasn’t done much except eat and sleep for the last week. Toby wasn’t quite sure about this new arrival for a few days but now seems to love his little brother already and is being so lovely with him. He comes over and gives him such a gentle kiss on the head while I am feeding, and he brings him toys to look at. Today he even gave him both his muslins – Toby uses muslins as his comforters and is very protective of them so that’s a massive thing for him!

We’re all very happy in our new family of four. Now if we could all just work on getting a bit more sleep….


Gabriel: the lead up to labour 

I started off trying to write my birth story but it ended up being really long so I have split it up and this post is about the lead up to the birth of baby Gabriel. If you have been following my blog lately you’ll know I have been pregnant with my second baby. Despite my first pregnancy ending with the arrival of the lovely Toby after 38 weeks and 6 days of pregnancy and me being convinced this one would arrive early too, last week I made it to my due date and 40 weeks pregnant.

After a lot of deliberation, and a long wait to see if my previously low lying placenta would cooperate and move out of the way, I was booked for a home birth and had all the kit delivered by the NHS at about 36 weeks although I wouldn’t be allowed to stay at home for the birth unless I reached 38 weeks. Logistically we had a few issues about how we would make sure Toby was looked after if I stayed at home, or if I had to transfer to hospital as we don’t have any family nearby. We were very grateful that my mum and dad were happy to come up with their caravan and be on standby on a campsite about half an hour away, although I think they were hoping for an early arrival but instead they had to wait over two weeks to meet their newest grandson…

I saw the community midwife who I have been seeing throughout my pregnancy on my due date, she offered me a sweep which I refused and then wished me well as she would be on holiday for the next week. Saturday came and went and then on Sunday morning I decided I was fed up of just sitting about the house waiting and even though my pelvis was still making walking really painful we decided to head to the beach to let Toby have a run around. He wasn’t entirely convinced about how much fun the beach is but that’s another story. After some fresh air and chasing birds (that bit was just Toby) we headed back up the steps to the car park and home for some lunch.

Pregnant at the beach

I still didn’t feel like labour was imminent until I went to the loo when we got home and realised I had had a ‘bloody show’. I knew that it could still be days before labour started but I was happy that I knew something was starting to happen at least. I gave my mum a ring to let her know and put them on standby in case something did happen – it’s a good job I wasn’t ringing to say I was in labour though as my dad was off walking up a big hill somewhere at the time!

We carried on our afternoon as normal, I was feeling a few period pain like cramps but nothing different to I’d been having for the last few weeks and certainly nothing I would call contractions. We decided we should probably clear some space in our office/ spare room so we could open out the sofa bed if we needed my parents to come and stay.

As the evening went on I was feeling more cramps but still not really contractions and nothing regular and I told Barry I didn’t think anything would happen overnight so about 10pm we headed up to bed to try and get some sleep…

You can read the rest of Gabriel’s birth story here.