On Thursday 13th October 2016 I gave birth to Felix Otso Len. My third child and second son.

Here is my birth story.
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I had put Ezra to bed and was just in the process of getting Violet to bed at 7:30pm. I was feeling good. Not too tired or achy and I was enjoying my first week of maternity leave.

As I asked Violet to get into bed I felt what I would describe as a ‘shift’ inside me. Almost as if the baby had jumped. My waters had gone. I popped a pad in and carried on with Violet’s routine. I suggested she let me sing a very short song that evening and she obliged! As I said goodnight I gave her extra kisses and told her I loved her a few more times. It felt poignant that she was about to get another little brother.

I left her room and tried to keep my emotions in check. This was all happening about a week sooner than I had mentally prepared. Thankfully we had all of the equipment we needed for the planned home birth.

I went downstairs and called Joe who was at a phonics meeting at school. He said everyone cheered when he said he had to leave! Then I rang my mum as she was on standby to deal with the children. Next I called the MLU but they didn’t have any record of me being booked in for a home birth. I said I had an arrangement for IV antibiotics to be done at home (i’m GBS positive). The midwife was confused and said she would find out and ring me back. I didn’t feel alarmed, just that Tuesday I had seen a midwife who ran through that would happen and she wrote everything down in my notes.
I then went to the kitchen and unloaded the dishwasher! I felt ashamed that the midwife would see a messy kitchen. Isn’t it daft what we do…?

Contractions started mildly. Joe ran in and busily started clearing out the living room of kids toys and sorting out the pool. At about 8pm my mum arrived. The contractions were steadily increasing in intensity every time and the gaps were becoming less. Joe asked my mum to time them for me. There didn’t seem to be much build up to each contraction. Just a few seconds before they peaked and remained intense.

The MLU rang and wanted to clarify what I was having for the home birth.  They had no record of me having had the risk assessment done or any booking of me. I reiterated what had been arranged: midwife to bring a bag of IV antibiotics to our house where a canula would be sited and I’d receive the medicine. She said she would go away and double check. I didn’t have headspace to feel concerned because I purely wanted to focus my mind and energies on each contraction.

Joe continued to fill the pool in the living room while I laboured in the kitchen. I was concentrating hard on my breathing. Trying with all my might to keep the breaths long and focused. I swayed my hips side to side, round and round. I wanted to make each contraction count. Didn’t want to tense myself. It was difficult but I felt positive. I did start to wonder what was happening with my home birth. Where was the midwife? I felt like I was progressing quite fast.

Joe finished filling the pool and called the MLU again. Joe told them that I was labouring quickly. He asked for a midwife to come to our house as soon as possible.

Soon after 9pm a midwife came. I was reaching my limits of pain tolerance. She said to Joe that I needed to be transferred to hospital as I needed to have the antibiotics done there. Joe was frustrated….it was madness at this stage to change the plans and why had our booking been lost?? She started to explain the risks to baby. Joe interrupted her saying there’s no way we would put our baby at risk and had gone ahead with the home birth plans as a suitable workaround had been suggested to us which mitigated the risk. We aren’t the type of people to bullishly ignore medical advice. The midwife immediately backed down and understood there had been a mess-up and we were not in the wrong at all. She called for an ambulance.

The second midwife arrived. I was asked to go to the sofa to be examined. Laying down was agony. I was 6cm. As I got up to sitting another contraction hit and I panicked.  I felt stuck between contraction pain and the discomfort of my position. As soon as it faded I got on the floor wedged between the pool and the wall! I had my chest laying on the sofa. That contraction on the sofa seemed to have changed things because I suddenly felt some surges to push. It wasn’t overwhelming but definitely something had happened. I was given the gas and air which was a relief. Two ambulances arrived and the midwife asked me to stand. As I started to get up I felt the baby descend and enter the birth canal. I shouted “no he’s coming out!” And got back on the floor. The midwife squeezed herself between the pool and the wall and told me not to push as I was ‘only’ 6cm. I knew I wasn’t.  I knew he was coming. She asked me to stand as I needed to get in the ambulance. The next contraction came and all I could do was push. The urge was primal. I heard the midwife say “OK I’ve had a visual”. She said I really needed to get on the sofa as being on the floor in that tiny space was no good for birth! I heaved myself onto the sofa, head stuffed into a pillow, gas and air in my mouth. Despite being in pain it felt like a relief to have the urges to push. I felt excited that this was almost over and I was so close to meeting my baby. I breathed in as much gas as I could. It really took the edge off the stingy crowning pain. The midwife asked me to gently push. I did as she said and his head was born. There seemed to be a long pause until the next contraction. But I sucked the gas hard and he was born at 9:44pm!

The midwife gave him a rub down. He didn’t cry immediately. He seemed a little shocked by the speed of the birth. But then he responded and started to cry. My cord was quite short as when she passed him through my legs he only reached my tummy! This is compared to Ezra who had a cord so long the midwives described it like a skipping rope! I layed on my side and had skin to skin with him. I was still a little high on gas and to be honest a bit shocked myself by the speed and intensity. The cord was left to pulsate. As we needed to transfer to hospital I agreed to have the injection for the placenta rather than wait as I had planned. It came away quickly. Felix was wrapped up and given to Joe for his first cuddle. I remember the paramedics putting a tiny hat on his head and my mum got a towel as an extra layer to wrap him in.

While everybody was preparing for the hospital transfer I sat on the sofa in a bit of a daze. Everything felt a bit frantic and not as I had envisioned. There were 5 paramedics stood in my hallway with the stretcher on the drive!

We were blue-lighted to hospital. I was able to finally speak to the midwife and explain what had been arranged and booked. I assured her that I would never put his health at risk through sheer bloody mindedness to have a home birth.  Yes I wanted the experience and it felt like the right thing to do with already having 2 children. But if I had been told otherwise I wouldn’t have forced the issue. She understood. Apologised for the situation and seemed to fully appreciate where we were coming from. It was looking as though Felix would need to have IV antibiotics himself.

We arrived at hospital and a paediatric doctor said they would not give antibiotics yet but do observations every 2 hours and if he showed any signs of infection then go ahead with an IV.
I fed Felix successfully and finally got to look at him properly. He was so so beautiful. The love rush hit me. He stole my heart in that moment.

The 2 hourly obs were all normal. I couldn’t sleep at all because of the euphoria flowing through me.

We were discharged at 4pm on Friday and came home to a very happy family.

Felix was 7lb 13oz at birth and 55cm long. He is my smallest baby so far and even feels it. Newborn clothes are baggy on him which is unheard of for my other 2 big lumps!

The midwife has recommended that we make a complaint as the home birth wasn’t the best use of their time or paramedic time. I understand where she’s coming from. Now it’s all done I don’t want to kick up a stink. Me and Felix are healthy and I did get to birth him at home. I suspect he may have come in the car or something if we had driven to hospital which is one of my nightmares!

2 hours start to finish. I can’t believe it. Only a tiny tear and no stitches. I have to say all in all I had a positive, if incredibly intense, birth.

It was my birthday this week. I was really very spoilt by Joe! I got my lovely Storksak Elizabeth bag back in August but he also arranged to have one of Violet’s drawings made into a brooch. It’s not just any old drawing, this is me with the baby in my tummy!

I’m not huge into jewellery. I wear my rings, a bracelet I was given by a dear friend for my 18th birthday and a simple necklace chain. I tend to wear child-friendly jewellery I don’t need to take off. So although I appreciate beautiful jewellery I don’t always have much chance to wear it. And I suppose this makes presents quite tricky for Joe. But he really got this spot on. A beautiful reminder of my third pregnancy and my daughter’s precious drawing turned into something I will treasure! This is now proudly pinned to my blazer and won’t be coming off! It fits my jewellery wearing criteria perfectly!

If that wasn’t enough, Joe also arranged a babysitter for Saturday night and booked us a table at a Michelin star restaurant in Tunbridge Wells called Thackeray’s. This was the first time a friend had babysat the children and for me felt like a really big deal. There are very few people I could leave the children with. But Katie at Curious Little Teapot is one of my favourite people and I knew would cope just fine with whatever these 2 little terrors would throw at her!

Getting dressed up was fun. After all it’s not something I get to do too often! Violet was my makeup sidekick. She just loves watching me put it on, asks a ridiculous number of questions and also tries to help me! I had powder applied to my neck, back and she even used the brushes to do some dusting!! Oh well…!

After some last minute wobbles from Violet about us going out we left. The restaurant was only half an hour away in the car but the trusty sat-nav didn’t quite take us to the door! Eventually after about 4 U-turns we found Thackeray’s.

The atmosphere was so relaxed and friendly. We have been to a few Michelin star restaurants previously which have been more trendy but I really think this one suited us the best for how down-to-earth everything seemed yet the quality was still first class.

There were 3 menus; a tasting menu, a menu exceptional and a market menu. We chose from the market menu.

As you can see, the selection is not huge so as I don’t eat cheese and foie gras doesn’t really appeal I was a little forced towards the rabbit as a starter. I had never tried rabbit before. But what better way to try it for the first time than when it is cooked at its best!

Oh my goodness, it was divine! Very light and delicate in flavour. So tender. And the scallop was delicious. I had chosen very well, and now I will look out for rabbit again on a menu! Joe had the trout which he couldn’t praise highly enough. Goat’s cheese and beetroot are 2 of his favourite things.

For my main I chose the pork.

This dish was just so yummy. I am no food critic so my descriptions are probably super basic, but ‘yummy’ and ‘scrumptious’ really sum this dish up. I have really started to enjoy mushrooms in this pregnancy so to find a giant mushroom on my plate was an added bonus!

Joe had the turbot.

He said it was an amazing dish and the subtle curry flavours were sublime. We were both so happy with our meals so far!

Here’s the desert menu:

I had a hard time choosing, I could have eaten it all! But eventually I went for the raspberry delice and Joe chose the cheesecake. Both of us were so happy with our selections. We tasted eachothere but were both glad we chose what we had.

Isn’t it pretty! Really refreshing, delicious and the perfect way to round off my birthday treat. Except it wasn’t the end!

Joe and I had such a great evening out. We try to have child-free time as much as is practical and acceptable. It’s important for us to be a couple. Husband and wife. Not just mum and dad. Last night was perfect and another fantastic experience trying new food cooked by the best.

Thank you Joe for being an amazing husband. And thank you Katie for being an awesome friend!

If you get the chance to visit this restaurant then DO!!!

I’m a born and bred Greenwich girl. Literally.

I just love it. And the older I get the more and more I appreciate this beautiful pocket of London.

As a child I remember going to Greenwich Park with friends for picnics, playing ‘it’, hide and seek, sitting on our skateboards and zooming down the hills. Greenwich evokes many happy childhood memories for me. Then as I got a bit older I started discovering the vibrant village and buzzing market. I loved strolling through by all the stalls, making sure I always stopped at my favourite jewellery shop on the corner. And in more recent years I have really enjoyed the food market, my favourite being the teriyaki stand!

Yesterday we arranged to meet Joe’s sister and boyfriend at Greenwich. It had been too long since we had last been to Greenwich together so it felt just brilliant to walk through the park and look at the amazing view of the City. We met up at the Cutty Sark. Joe, Violet and Ezra played chase while I sat down for a breather  (i’m 5 weeks away from having this baby now!). Ezra enjoyed running after the pigeons, exclaiming “LOOK” as if these birds were the most amazing thing he had ever seen. To a 21 month old I guess they were!

Once my sister-in-law and her partner arrived we headed to the market to get some food.

I had my sights firmly set on the teriyaki stall and could practically taste the fresh squid in anticipation. Joe was looking forward to some fresh salmon. To my utter shock and huge disappointment the stand wasn’t there!!!! There was sushi, Portuguese pastries, gluten-free cakes, vegan and raw food but NO fresh squid!!!!!! In the end I got a chorizo bread and Joe had a lentil lasagne. They were both very good but I still feel sad that my favourite food wasn’t available. I wonder if it has gone for good or this was just a blip. Does anyone know?

For pudding I had some Nutella and strawberry pancakes!

This definitely lifted my spirits!

I also visited the drinks stand and got myself a watermelon juice. Joe had a fresh lemonade and gin!

We then walked to the park. Autumn has arrived which I’m not-so-secretly quite happy about. The 30degree heat in London was starting to get to me and I was struggling to cope. This cooler, fresher weather is certainly much more manageable. With autumn the leaves are turning crunchy and one of my favourite things to do with the children is collect conkers. Greenwich Park was abundant with conker trees and we spent a lovely time squashing the fallen shells and popping out bright, shiny conkers. Violet quickly filled any available space in the bottom of the pushchair with beautiful marbled conkers. Ezra also loved running around the trees with a conker in each hand showing anybody who would listen!

Finally we walked over to the playground. This was updated about 2 years ago. Gone are the usual metal framed swings and climbing frames and now there are huge wooden frames, swings, play houses and covered walkways.

The playground really is excellent, with plenty of picnic tables, grass areas, a little cafe and well serviced toilet facilities.

Our last stop in the playground was the sandpit. This is the same sandpit I played in as a little girl so I am fond of it despite not being a huge fan of sand! There is a water pump the children can use to get water into one area of the sand and there seemed to be a lot of buckets and spades which were for general use. Violet and Ezra both really loved pottering about in the sand.

We then trudged up the hill and headed for our car. I could easily have spent so much more time in the park, it’s so huge and there is loads to explore. But for us it was home time.

I absolutely loved our trip to Greenwich and will make sure we go back soon.
Have you been recently? What were your favourite places to visit? And any ideas where the teriyaki stall has gone?!
Capturing Moments

I’m typing half of this on the plane. On my left is Joe with a finally sleeping Ezra on his lap.

And on my right is Violet engrossed in Frozen.

This morning we made our way by bus, train and shuttle bus from Bromley to London Luton Airport. The whole journey went very smoothly. The kids were, on the whole, really good. Violet has surpassed herself with the number of questions she has asked today and it’s only 2pm!
Once we got to Luton we joined a long queue at check-in to drop our suitcase. I’m not sure if this is usual but there was only 1 desk servicing ALL Ryanair flights. But we had given ourselves so much extra time that this didn’t worry us. Ezra ran around the lane-ropes for all of the other unmanned desks and Violet did her best at being patient (we are learning this word and the meaning…!)

Once we had dropped our luggage we made our way to security. We made sure we poured out the water from their drinking cups and I had already put all of our smaller liquids in 2 little sandwich bags. So imagine my surprise when security took my 2 little sandwich bags and told me that they are not in the correct bags and therefore I cannot have my items back!!!!!! I was told that as they do not seal shut and are not the correct dimensions as dictated by the Civil Aviation Authority they would not give my liquids back to me. I had to go to a vending machine and pay £1 for a kinder egg type container which had 2 CORRECT plastic bags. Except I didn’t have £1 on me, and neither did Joe. Queue Joe dashing off into the departure area to find a cashpoint and then spend the money to get some change. Anyway, I could then buy the kinder egg and put my liquids from my carefully assembled sandwich bags into these official bags. Security didn’t even re-scan them. The official bags did not make ANY difference.

So that’s a big lesson learnt and tip for flying….Luton airport do not supply plastic bags for free as Gatwick and Heathrow do. You have to buy them. Despite them making no difference to the checks carried out. This is the clause for getting your liquids back!

Anyway, we then found a hot sweaty bench to sit on (Luton is undergoing building works so there is a real lack of any comfortable seating and ventilation seems to be at a minimum). We scoffed our homemade sandwiches and all of a sudden it was time to go to our gate. I made a pit stop at Pret a Mange to ask for some warm milk for Ezra. The assistant said I didn’t need to pay and it was free. Wow – what excellent customer service. I also bought 4 croissants for the flight.

We boarded the flight and it took off on time. Violet swiftly got into Frozen for the 100th time. Ezra twisted and turned on Joe’s lap for an hour and then all of a sudden looked up at his daddy and snuggled his face into Joe’s neck. Asleep.

The flight went better than we could have expected with a 4 and 1 year old.  At 30 weeks pregnant I discovered I cannot bring the fold-away table down without it touching my bump (I don’t like things touching my baby bump).

So now we are here. Let the summer holidays begin!

I’ve taken a bit of a hiatus from the blog for the last couple of months. It wasn’t exactly a planned break, but something huge was happening in my life. Something which I had to wait to talk about to anyone apart from Joe.

We are having another baby!
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We have been lucky enough to conceive very quickly with all of my pregnancies but I have previously miscarried 2 babies. So far my pregnancy history has been;
Miscarry, Violet, Miscarry, Ezra.
So as I saw the faint second line appear on the pregnancy test I had a mixture of elation, love, excitement and a chill of anxious nerves. If I was to follow the pattern, I felt like I would lose this pregnancy. But no, this baby is for keeps. We will get to meet this little life. For now all I know is that s/he is healthy and growing well. That’s all. Yet we will have a lifetime of knowing each other better than anyone else! It’s quite mad to think that right now I barely have time to even think about this life growing inside me, with 2 other children to look after. But in a few short months this baby will become my #1 for a while. My primary focus!

This may well be our last baby.  Joe is quite sure about that but I am still undecided. Emotionally I cannot say how I will feel. Will I just ‘know’ when my family is complete? So, just in case it is our last baby I am trying to savour every big moment of the pregnancy. Even down to how I told Joe! I’m not sure how but I kept it a secret for 2 whole weeks after I saw the positive on the test, but I did. I ordered 3 t-shirts from a lovely shop on etsy. Thing 1 for Violet, Thing 2 for Ezra and a tiny little 1 month old size Thing 3 for baby. Joe and I celebrated our anniversary at the end of February and were able to go out and have a whole day together while my in laws had the children (who were both wearing their special t-shirts!). Over lunch I gave Joe his anniversary present. He opened it and held the Thing 3 top. A few seconds went by and then he twigged! I had tears in my eyes, he was so happy! The relief for me was unreal. Keeping this secret had been so difficult but for that reaction it was worth it.

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The first trimester has been very difficult for me. Mind numbing nausea and fatigue. I had exhaustion with Violet and Ezra but the nausea this time has been hard to cope with. I would get to about 2pm every day and feel my brain literally switch off. Just focusing my eyes and reading a line of text was so tricky. Thankfully that has now passed and at 19 weeks I’m feeling pretty good.

I have felt this baby kicking since 9 weeks. I felt Violet at 15 weeks, Ezra at 11 and this baby at 9. It was actually very reassuring to go to the 12 week scan and at least know there was a live baby in there as I could feel the wiggles already.

So that’s my huge, massive, amazing news. In less than 5 months we will become a family of 5 💜💙💛