Today Violet has completed her first term at school. What a rollercoaster it’s been!

She started in September excited but very nervous and it took her a little while to settle. She found saying goodbye in the playground very difficult and there were tears every morning for a couple of weeks. All of a sudden one morning she walked in without crying! I felt so so relieved that we had reached this point and it hadn’t taken too long for her to settle. Violet really loves being at school. She loves playing, eating her lunch, singing, drawing, learning new letters, exploring in forest school and getting to know her new friends. By far the highlight of the term was seeing her nativity last week. She sang all of the sweet little songs enthusiastically and I loved watching her do all the actions!

Violet has had a lot to contend with this term. We welcomed her little brother Felix into the family in October. As much as Violet adores her baby brother and is very good at helping me out with him, it has taken me away from her a little. I rarely do bedtime and story time is a juggle with her craving a book before bed while Felix wants to feed. We have worked hard on her reading and her progress has astounded me. When she concentrates she really can read! The last couple of weeks I have been reading The Twits to her. Her first introduction to Roald Dahl and first proper story book. She’s found it unbelievable that 2 people can be that awful to each other!

I took her to a cafe for an end-of-term treat of hot chocolate and cake.

I asked her of all the things she has done at school what was her favourite. She had a think and then said “writing letters”. I often find her at home copying words from books and writing a random collection of letters and then asking what words she has made.

Violet is complex. Friends and family will know about my endless questions about her. But she’s my number one girl who has made me so so proud over the last couple of months. She’s started her school life so positively and genuinely loves going. I couldn’t ask for more in that respect.

Oh and look, she lost her first tooth at the age of 4 and a half. That’s pretty early I think!

Here’s to a nice Christmas break and then starting the new year with continued enthusiasm.

Unbelievably Felix is now 2 weeks old. Time has flown and I really cannot imagine life without him in it. He feels like the most special baby, I just adore him! I felt the same with Violet and Ezra but I am so relaxed this time it’s reflecting really positively on my outlook. Before these newborn days become just a memory I need to record how Felix has got to grips with life on the outside.

Feeding
Felix is a little pro at breastfeeding! After the complications, worries and difficulties with Violet and Ezra I really hoped my third baby would just get it. At the hospital a student midwife took the time to help me with positioning and the latch. She helped me so much and I felt really confident that Felix also knew what he was doing. He fed every couple of hours for the first 48 hours and before I knew it my milk came in. The sense of achievement was immense!

On the 4th night he fed from 11pm until 5am! This hasn’t been repeated thankfully and nights are going pretty well. On day 5 Felix had lost 6.5% of his birth weight. The midwives told me this was really good and to carry on as we are. On day 10 he had gained 120g and on day 14 he gained a further 240g (8oz)! These figures are so rewarding and give me confidence every day that we are succeeding.

Being able to go out without bottles or concerns that he will not feed well from me is so liberating. So far I have breastfed him in a pub, in the park and during our registering of his birth appointment. As tiring as it is taking up the feeding responsibility all myself, I am really loving our journey so far.

Sleeping
The first week was pretty exhausting. Night time cluster feeds, sore breasts, a baby who wanted to be held all night…. But Felix and I have now found our way and I think we are getting maximum sleep at the moment.

Generally our routine in the evenings is for me to feed Felix until he goes to sleep some time after 9pm. I then give him to Joe while I go to bed for a couple of hours. It’s nice for me to have a bit of baby free time and also lovely for Joe to have a cuddle with his son. Joe then brings him to me when he wakes and I feed him. Felix settles nicely when he is swaddled so I do this and then we cosleep. Cosleeping was not something I planned to do but it seems to be working really well so for now this is best. He wakes around 3am and 6am for feeds. I can’t complain.

During the day Felix loves cuddles but he also sleeps really soundly in the Sleepyhead. He doesn’t seem as keen to sleep in it during the night though!

Violet and Ezra
Violet and Ezra adore their baby brother!! There hasn’t been a hint of jealousy and both have been really gentle with him. Violet asks to hold him quite a lot and if he is unsettled she sings him songs and holds his hands. It’s adorable!

Ezra asks to “see Fee-ix” all the time. He strokes him and says “ello” in a high pitched voice when he wakes from a nap. Sometimes he even wants to give him a “cuggle”.

I hope this happy state remains and Joe’s return to work next week isn’t too hard on Ezra (or me!!).

So we are happy. Life is wonderful with Felix in it. This baby moon has been blissful and I really believe I have soaked in every moment. I’ll remember these first days forever.

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.

Dear Ezra

Things are changing. Can you sense it? The house suddenly has all this baby stuff in it and Mummy and Daddy have been busily changing your bedroom around so you can share with Sissy. There’s bunk beds and soon you’ll be moved out of your cosy cot into a great big bed! We hope you like it.

There’s lots going on.

Because in the next week or so you will become a big brother. You won’t be the baby of the house any more. You’ll have to learn to wait. And share. Mummy and Daddy will still be there for you. But for a while it will feel like the baby comes first. Don’t worry. Everything will settle down as we get to know him.

He already knows a lot about us. He has heard you and Sissy chatting, laughing, singing and shouting for the last 9 months! He knows your voice! He has felt you climbing on him and he has even felt those gentle strokes you’ve given him. But we need to learn what he likes and doesn’t like.

I will need your help. Keep giving me your beautiful smiles and kisses. Sometimes they will be just the pick me up Mummy needs. Keep making me laugh with your dancing and funny faces. They will bring me out of a low point in an instant. Keep being the amazing sunny boy you are.

We will still have our special bond. We will still cuddle and mess around like before.

Don’t resent your little brother. He will become your best friend, you’ll see. He will look up to you in the same way you look up to Violet. He will adore you.

For this short time though, don’t worry. We will find our way and our new normal as a family of 5.

Keep being my perfect Ezra.

Love

Mummy x

I am now mum to a school aged child.  I find this really astounding that I have a child who goes to school!  It doesn’t seem that long ago that I was at school, but time flies and here we are!

Over the summer Joe and I spent a lot of time carefully and gently preparing Violet for school.  She was not looking forward to leaving pre-school and the thought of going somewhere new with new people essentially terrified her.  Also there was the fact that none of her close friends from pre-school were going to her school.  I felt immense pressure to strike the right balance getting her school-ready mentally whilst not freaking her out to the point she would refuse to even entertain the idea!

The school were really great with the preparations.  She had a 90 minute session in her classroom with her teachers and peers in July whilst us parents were ushered to a separate building to await feedback.  She hesitated at the door but somehow agreed to stay without upset.  I walked away from the classroom in amazement.  As I collected her she seemed relaxed and happy.  I could not have asked for a better outcome and told her how proud I was!

One of the mums set up 3 meet-ups in the local playground so that the children could familiarise themselves with eachother and hopefully form the beginnings of some important friendships.  Undoubtedly Violet gained some confidence from her little brother being there – she likes to be protective of him when out and about – and again she amazed me by playing a little with some of the girls.

We chatted to Violet about what her teacher would be like.  We almost created an image of her in Violet’s head and talked about her as if they were already friends.  We were trying to make her teacher familiar to her despite them only having met briefly.  The hope was that this key person in her life would be someone she already liked and felt comfortable with.

Then there were practical things like getting herself dressed and going to the toilet independently, being able to carry her plate with food on it and being able to use a knife.  All things that for a summer-born child are quite challenging.

We shopped for her uniform together and let her choose her own shoes.  We were hoping that it allowed her to feel like she was in control of the process rather than having it done to her.  She was genuinely excited about wearing her school uniform and proudly showed it to friends and family.

Everything seemed to be going really well.  She had gone from huge anxiety and worry about school to more acceptable and understandable nerves about starting a new phase in her life.  Joe and I kept putting ourselves in her shoes to try and imagine how she was feeling.  We talked positively, were up-beat but also discussed her concerns with true empathy.  It wasn’t right to just dismiss her genuine emotions as ‘being silly’.

The first day of school came.  Violet was prepared.  We were prepared.  And I’ll fill you in on the start of infant school in another post.

 Have your kids started at a new school this year?  Did you feel like you had to go through the same level of careful preparations as us?  How have they settled into their new routines?