Sunday, 31 January 2010


Our little lady C (LLC) finally arrived on Wednesday evening. I am glowing – well, maybe I’m more pale, tired, sore and partially engorged – but my heart is glowing and bursting with love for Chris and my beautiful daughter.

Not surprisingly, things didn’t go as planned, but you already know that I didn’t plan on being 42 + 5 weeks pregnant when she arrived. Yes, I had hoped for a home birth; this was no longer an option after 42 weeks through the NHS. I hoped my body would commence labor unassisted; in the end, I was induced due to elevated blood pressure at my daily monitoring appointment on Tuesday afternoon.

But none of that matters. As my expectations and anticipations of labor faded into reality, conviction and flexibility proved not crashing boars but my stepping stones for bringing the little lady into the world.

The good doctor met with me on Tuesday afternoon following my daily monitoring session and decided to admit me for induction there and then. Though I had prepared myself that induction could be on the cards and had my hospital bag packed in the car, I didn’t expect an immediate admission. Chris and I had just been discussing Mexican for dinner. Everything suddenly seemed surreal, overwhelming, scary.

I spent Tuesday evening in the hospital without any “action,” as my uterus appeared to be contracting, yet I didn’t feel anything getting longer/stronger. The doctors decided to wait until the morning to re-evaluate my progress and how to commence my induction. There was talk of first a pessary, then another, then an oxytocin drip depending on my progress. The doctors suggested I consider an epidural as a therapeutic measure for my raised blood pressure. I said I hoped to avoid this but would keep an open mind. My “birth plan” faded to gray. I barely slept a wink.

Wednesday morning I moved to the labor ward. The doctor administered a pessary gel and left me with a midwife to be examined in 6 hours. As it turned out, this pessary was all my body needed to kick-start labor and no other steps of induction were needed. Within 2 hours I had dilated to 6cm and from there, things moved quickly, so much so that at first I thought I was constipated!

Constipated you ask? For me the contractions were not the intense period pains I had expected but rather a massive, unforgiving wave of downwards pressure that would culminate in an urge to push. Since I was induced they kept me on an electronic fetal monitor most of the time but let me move a bit and kneel on the bed positioned as an L and rock my hips. While you usually can’t shut me up, throughout the experience I went into myself, used my yoga breathing to get through contractions and closed my eyes in between them. Chris was amazing; he rubbed my back and stayed by my side the whole time. I didn’t have an epidural, entonox or any other form of pain relief.

Then it was time to push...the baby was still high in my pelvis when I began but after about an hour her head was visible. Though my contractions had eased, the unforgiving pressure against which I pushed felt impregnable. I now had two midwives and a doctor with me, all of whom kept telling me to push, push, push, harder, longer, stronger! I was like "I need to breathe!" Near the end I felt an immense burn and stretch but they kept yelling to push so I did as I was told. In the last minutes, LLC’s heart rate started to drop so the doctor decided to “get her out now" with a ventouse. She did an episiotomy, hooked on the ventouse, I pushed and she pulled and out she came within under a minute. I could not feel the cut.

Chris said the cord had gotten wrapped around her head but they got it off immediately and put her on me. Everything burst into color.

Monday, 25 January 2010

The Good Doctor, the Madwife and My Second Home

I feel like the hospital has become my second home. And I like my home better. On the way to my daily monitoring appointments, Chris and I scheme about what £5 purchase we can make in the Sainsburys (big supermarket for those in the US) next to the hospital in order to get our £2 parking lot fee refunded.

But then you’re spending £5 rather than £2, you ask? My math skills haven’t totally gone out the window (they were there to start with but never mind) – we decided to pare down our weekly shop so we could continue our purchases throughout the week and not throw away £2 a day on parking fees. You can see we put a lot of thought into this; our days are all too exciting.

Why do we park in Sainsburys in the first place? It’s impossible to get parked in the hospital lot and the minimum, non-refundable fee is £2 for a space. I think it’s out of order, but local government loves pay-and-display (i.e. metered parking) and there’s no break for the sick, stressed or weary.

We chose daily monitoring, however, so who am I to complain? (Even though I just did). But anyway...

The little lady appears to be thriving from her daily monitoring “trace.” Over the weekend when we were monitored on the labor ward, one of the resident doctors, aka the good doctor, decided to perform a 3D scan (sonogram) for us as a spur of the moment thing. He confirmed that all looked well with baby, had a thorough chat about our decision to hold off on induction for now, and also referred me for a full growth scan in radiology, which I was originally told was not an option. I had that second scan today.  It confirmed that the little lady is active, a healthy size with normal placenta flow and amniotic fluid levels.

Knowing that she is thriving supports our decision that nature will take its course when she's ready. I’m more uncomfortable by the day, I have lots of pressure down there, I have frequent Braxton Hicks – all signs things are moving in the right direction. Still, with each day that goes by I am conscious that I don't want to leave her in there too long.... I am booked to meet my consultant doctor for the first time tomorrow (the attending of the good doctor that I saw over the weekend), so it will be interesting to see what he says after seeing me, the scans and baby’s trace.

The good doctor again showed me that not all doctors are keen to push a strictly medical policy route. I am impressed with this aspect of my pre-natal care, as I suspected I would face more push back for policy’s sake. I haven’t. Perhaps many wouldn’t ask for monitoring in the first place, but I have, and I’m grateful that I've been supported and reviewed as an individual case.

The madwife (that’s how she introduced herself to us – haha, not really that funny) proved the one fly in the ointment of my waiting game of late. Buxom and matronly, she busted into my appointment room and interrupted my scan by the good doctor by spouting off a number of frightening statistics about post-date stillborns, crystallized placentas and over-baked babies. I may be hormonal and emotional but her bedside manner really left a lot to be desired.

Hello woman, you just don’t say that! The real kicker is I’m not even sure why she came into my appointment room in the first place since she left after this diatribe of gloom and never returned. She may have been following up for another midwife who took baby’s trace earlier – I’m not sure.

I’ve read up on post-date risks and the other midwives and doctors I’ve seen of late have discussed them with me. I may stick to my guns but I’m all ears to the medical professionals when they speak objectively and relevantly as they’ve all done but for this tactless scare-mongering madwife.

I bit my tongue during her speech but it was pretty off-putting. Its best that I didn’t see her again as I’m not sure my pregnancy hormones would have remained at bay for one more dose of her medicine!

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Fortunes – In my cookie, and in blogging

My fortune cookie yesterday read: “Your wish will be granted after a long delay.” Does that mean labor will start today? I’m saving this one.

And now a word on blogging fortunes, in reference to a tag from insightful parenting blog/site Angels and Urchins in response to a Communities, cliques and a new meme. This meme asks bloggers to share three of their favourite, newly discovered blogging reads in an effort to share great content. I thought the meme was a fine idea, and made the following comment on my impressions of starting out in the blogosphere on the original post by Who’s the Mummy:

"I am also fairly new on the blogging scene. It can be overwhelming at times but I find the further I dabble the more I get to grips with how to share my own stories, discover the fantastic content of others and network in general. For me it's a gradual process. I blog because I love writing and hope others can relate/connect to my posts. I sometimes need to remind myself that there is a balance to be had between gaining traffic and worrying about how to get noticed amongst the masses when I'd rather focus on actually writing. Memes like this help create that balance - thank you."

Thank you Angels and Urchins for bringing this meme back to me. While bouncing on my birthing ball, I’ve recently been reading the following three excellent blogs:

A Day in the Life with Baby V – a beautifully written chronicle of a mother’s quest to balance motherhood, marriage, career and fitness

Young & Younger – a witty and spirited account of a first time mum to twins – her nursery photos are gorgeous too!

Single Motherhood Challenges – the honest and touching ins and outs of a young single mum and her little boy

I’d like to tag Mid-Atlantic English, Loving & Supporting Mamas and The Dotterel with this meme; their blogs are also excellent and no doubt they'll have some other blogging gems to share.

Friday, 22 January 2010

Going against the grain

Like a hesitant child, I dangle my feet in midair off the side of the hospital bed and feel slightly out of my depth. I’m not a child though; I’m 42 weeks pregnant and in keeping with my decision to go with the flow, am at the hospital for my first session of daily fetal monitoring.

I slowly take in the whir of unfamiliar bleeps, pulses and machinery and hope that I’m doing the right thing. I hope when they hook me up their not going to detect something is awry with baby, who thus far appears good as gold, just a bit too comfortable in her uterine home. I hope that maybe I’ll give birth tonight and this henceforth daily process will be restricted to today.

The midwife approaches and straps me up to two sensors; one records the little lady’s heartbeat, one records my uterine activity. I hope you’re okay with this little lady….and hmmm, I wonder if it might pick up the increased cramping and Braxton Hicks-like tightening I’ve been getting? 

I try to read my book but find my eyes keep straying to the monitor, which is printing out my “trace.” When I think trace I think CSI. Man, my mind is all over the shop. Chris has joined me for this appointment and pops his head around the bed to see how I am and to have a look at the monitor. The little lady gives me a kick; it’s comforting to hear her continual heartbeat thump thumping away.

Half an hour later, the midwife reviews my trace and confirms that I appear to have a very active and contented little baby. She also confirms that I’m having regular uterine contraction-like activity, which has got to be a positive sign. I’ll need to come in for monitoring over the weekend on the labor ward. She reminds me to phone in if I feel any decline in fetal movement, but she says all looks well.

Chris and I leave – we managed to get in and out within an hour – score! I’m on my way home for more bouncing on my ball rather than remaining in the hospital for an induction just because I’ve hit the 42 week mark.

I must reiterate that I’m not opposed to induction but have read it can be distressing for baby, particularly if my body isn’t ripe and ready for birth. We’ll have to assess our situation day by day, but I feel confident that we’ve made the right decision.

The further post date I go, the more it will play at my mind that the time is ticking, that my placenta may no longer be optimal and that maybe I should just book the induction. Still I don’t believe that because I’ve now hit 42 weeks that my body will suddenly morph into an inhospitable home for baby. This is why I’ve opted for monitoring, so we can check up on her day by day and hopefully give my body a few extra days to break up her tea party so she’ll come out and meet us.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Looks can be deceiving: the My Object Meme

This is my first dabble with memes, inspired by The Dotterel who opened up his meme to the masses... (FYI a meme is when another blogger posts on a topic and then invites other bloggers to write a post on the same topic – I’m finally in the loop after some confusion!)

Anyway, this meme is about choosing an object that tells the story of my family and/or me.

So I’ve chosen my worn and weathered, comfy and cozy, not aesthetically but always emotionally pleasing Russell Athletic sweatshirt. Before you scrunch up your nose or question whether my pregnancy hormones have finally led me off the deep end, I’ll explain.

Chris and I are not chronic hoarders but sporadic hoarders all the same. We both glean significance from a range of random little tidbits like my heart-shaped rock, his House of Lords whiskey and the first hand-written letters that we exchanged while living across the ocean from each other.....

This Russell Athletic sweatshirt stands out from our motley of “special objects,” as a symbol of togetherness, hope and unadorned contentment. More than an old item of clothing, it’s a sweatshirt that holds good memories of past, even when the going was tough and it still comforts me in the here and now.

This sweatshirt belonged to Chris and he gave it to me when I was 19 or 20 and we were in the midst of a long distance relationship. If you’ve ever done long distance, you will sympathize with the overwhelming, stifling emotion of wanting to reach out and hold your special someone’s hand and knowing that it’s not to be for some time. We were both at University, just on different sides of the Atlantic. Not close friends but many others questioned our fidelity and challenged me about pursuing a long distance relationship at my age.

I must have known back then that Chris and I were the real deal, for I never felt threatened by these obnoxious remarks, just frustrated that I wasn’t with my guy. Day in day out, I had a little piece/scent of him in this Russell Athletic sweatshirt. It didn’t matter that it was three sizes too big, worn out and faded – to me it was a piece of Chris, our solidarity, a sign of hope for good times to come. I didn’t wear it out much but it was always there for me to come home to.

Fast forward to the present, the sweatshirt moved back to England with me in 2002 and continues to be a near and dear symbol of the special bond that Chris and I have and that changed my life really. Now that I’m pregnant with the little lady (still pregnant) it’s the perfect size for bump and me to fit into physically, and emotionally its magic and the bond it represents has extended from the two of us to the three of us and the new life balance we are soon to carve out.

If you passed me on the street in my Russell Athletic sweatshirt you wouldn’t blink an eye aside from possibly noting that I am one heavily pregnant lady in a big old sweatshirt. And that’s okay – it just goes to show that the magic for each of us comes in unexpected places.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Going with the Flow

I may feel a bit more uncomfortable by day (maybe this is a good sign??) but my mantra this week is to just "go with the flow."  I'm ignoring that I'm almost two weeks past my due date.  In a moment of weakness I asked myself if my body is hormonally defunct and not programed for birth, but then I got a grip and reminded myself that all pregnant women are designed to give birth eventually and besides being ridiculous, it was presumptuous to consider myself a special exception.  I'm not nuts, I promise you...

I've been pretty successful at not dwelling on when it's all going to kick off this week, but at the same time have done a few more things to encourage the little lady to flow on out of me.  These include:
  • Another curry with Chris - we are taking advantage of our "only us" time while trying to spice up my system.  This meal - a Madras main - was spicier and tastier than the Rogan dish I had last week.
  • I ate another pineapple - yum, I do love pineapple
  • I went for induction acupuncture - I visited a therapist highly recommended by my yoga teacher in hopes of opening up channels of energy within....I'd never been for acupuncture and don't really understand the science behind it, but I did find the session relaxing, soothing and pleasant.  I could barely see/feel the needles, even when the therapist stimulated them throughout the session.  He explained that his induction technique is more stimulative and less relaxing than other forms of acupuncture, but he was very gentle all the same and no part of the procedure was uncomfortable.
  • I went for a second membrane sweep - again, this was more uncomfortable than painful, and generated similar symptoms to my last sweep.  Unfortunately there didn't appear to be many changes down below - baby's head is engaged but not fully, cervix is soft but posterior - but the midwife said she did a thorough sweep and that things could change quickly once my body decides it's ready for birth.
  • I busted out my high heeled boots for walking - I've been walking a lot but reverted to flats as pregnancy progressed.  With all the snow and ice of late, any type of heel was out of the question.  But now that the roads are clear, I decided some extra clunking and thumping a la heels might combine with gravity to suit my "baby please drop down further in my pelvis" purposes.  
  • My butt is totally the shape of my Pilates, now birthing ball - if I'm sitting at home, I'm on that ball.  I may not have used the ball for years but with the amount of time I've clocked on it recently, it is totally worth the investment!
Though the NHS policy is to induce labor by 42 weeks, following my midwife sweep today I spoke with the doctor at hospital who agreed that as all appears well with baby/me, I can delay induction provided I come in for daily, 45 minute fetal monitoring.  That means if I don't give birth by Friday, I begin the monitoring. If the monitoring shows all is well, I can continue down this route until I give birth or decide to be induced.  The midwife/doctor answered my questions and listened to my thoughts objectively. 

Maybe something will shift before Friday, but if not I'm going to give my body and baby a few more days to go with the flow before deciding in favor of induction.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Every Little Bit Makes a Difference

I promised to post on another topic rather than my labor waiting game, and today would like to share a post from Heather at Notes for Lapland highlighting a much bigger issue: the Bloggers for Haiti ShelterBox campaign started by English Mum for survivors of the traumatic earthquake that rocked Haiti last week.

Sitting in my South London home, it’s hard to imagine the entire fabric of my life and that of hundreds of thousands of my neighbours being ripped to shreds in an instant by forces of nature. Unfortunately in this crazy world natural disasters like this do happen, and as we all know, did just happen in Haiti.

I’m not currently rolling in dough but every £1 and $1 donated for towards this effort will make a difference and I will be making a donation tonight.  Lately I've been thinking a lot about the responsibility of giving my little one a solid start in life; herein lies an opportunity to help give a another person further from home another much needed start.

Hear Hear to the blogosphere for spreading the word about this valuable effort. Tons of bloggers have made similar posts; please continue to spread the word/make a donation if you haven’t already!

More specifics about the ShelterBox are below; to donate please visit the Bloggers For Haiti JustGiving page

A ShelterBox

Each box costs an average of £490 including all materials, packing, storage and distribution to individual recipients worldwide. Based on six months use only this equates to 27 pence per person per day.

At the heart of every ShelterBox is a ten-person tent. It is custom made for ShelterBox by Vango, one of the world’s leading tent manufacturers, and is designed to withstand extreme temperatures, high winds and heavy rainfall. Internally, each tent has privacy partitions that allow recipients to divide the space as they see fit.

A smile
Every box contains a children’s pack containing drawing books, crayons and pens. For children who have lostmost, if not all, their possessions, these small gifts are treasured.

Warmth and protection
In addition to the tent, the boxes contain a range of other survival equipment including thermal blankets and insulated ground sheets, essential in areas where temperatures plummet at nightfall. Where malaria is prevalent mosquito nets are supplied, as well a life saving means of water purification. Water supplies often become contaminated after a major disaster, as infrastructure and sanitation systems are destroyed, this presents a secondary but no less dangerous threat to survivors than the initial disaster itself.

Self sufficiency
A basic tool kit containing a hammer, axe, saw, trenching shovel, hoe head, pliers and wire cutters can be found in every box. These items enable people to improve their immediate environment, by chopping firewood or digging a latrine, for example. Then, when it is possible, to start repairing or rebuilding the home they were forced to leave.

Fit for purpose
Every item is durable, practical and brand new. The box itself is lightweight and waterproof and has been used for a variety of purposes in the past - from water and food storage containers to a cot for a newly born baby.

A heart to the home
A key piece in every box is either a wood burning or multi-fuel stove - that can burn anything from diesel to old paint. This provides the heart of the new home where water is boiled, food is cooked and families congregate. In addition, there are pans, utensils, bowls, mugs and water storage containers.

We keep a broad range of equipment in stock so we can adapt the contents of a box to a specific disaster. For example, following the Javanese earthquake in 2006, when some resources were available locally or could be salvaged from one storey buildings, the overwhelming need was for shelter – so we just sent tents, packing two in each box.

Donating couldn't be easier. Simply go to Bloggers For Haiti JustGiving page.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

No News Unfortunately Means No News...

My recent silence unfortunately isn't down to exciting baby news - it's more to do with me trying to get out and about and keep my mind occupied with thoughts other than is labor going to start?

I've been spending a lot of time on my birthing ball (probably why I don't look overly amused on it here at 40 weeks + 9) and attempting all the old wives tales in the book alongside trying to maintain the "life as normal" mindset.  I've been moderately successful at this and when I get a little wacked out, Chris sings "Tears of a Clown" to me and that makes me feel better.  I'm soon to have a baby for goodness sake; I need to keep things in perspective.  Can I blame my moments of frustration on those pregnancy hormones?

Meanwhile Rico our dear cat has taken up residence in our Moses Basket, much to my irritation.  I love that cat but I don't want his hair all over little lady's bed.  We've covered it with a towel and a long piece of cardboard as a temporary solution.  Chris thinks once she's in it, he'll find it less appealing.

I won't say much tonight but wanted to check in....more to come tomorrow and not on the topic of labor and birth unless something does go down tonight!

Friday, 15 January 2010

Sweep, Sweep, Sweep but Still No Peep

I had my first membrane sweep today – I say first because I’m booked in for a second on Wednesday of next week. Maybe I won’t need that, but from today’s prognosis it appears that labor is not yet directly around the corner for me. As you can imagine, this was not the news I was hoping for. Let’s hope that appearances are deceiving in this instance!

Without going into TMI overload, as of this morning my cervix was still posterior and it took three attempts for a midwife to reach it to perform the sweep (though one midwife said her short fingers didn’t help the situation). On a positive note, it was also very soft and cooperative once the sweep got underway. I didn’t find the procedure painful; more uncomfortable but I never imagined that a midwife rummaging in my inners would feel like a treat.

Following the procedure I had a some show (also positive) and was sent home with instructions to eat more curry and pineapple, to bounce on my ball, walk but not tire myself and to have sex. The midwives are not shy and retiring – they tell it like it is.

I’m trying to keep my chin up. I would have loved to hear that I looked ripe and ready for labor imminently, but it sounds like I’m moving in the right direction so I need to focus on that.

I have one more week on the NHS to attempt a home birth.  Though I'd like to do this, I've always prepared myself that this plan might not come off.  What I'm struggling with more is that once I hit 42 weeks the standard NHS procedure is to induce labor.  I'm not looking to fight medical advice, but if all is well with baby at that time I can't help wondering if that's an indication that my body isn't ready.  My first priority is to bring our daughter into the world safely and I would not turn a blind eye to induction in the case of any health concerns for baby/me. Yet if all appears well, the push to induce "just because you are two weeks past your due date" when due dates are known to be a faulty science frustrates me.

I don't know if I sound like I'm losing site of the bigger's just after preparing to attempt labor as naturally as possible, induction means using intervention to kick off the very event and that's not something that appeals to me.  But we'll cross that bridge if I come to it and hopefully I won't.  As of now I am grateful that all is well with our little one.  Come on out baby - we want to meet you!

Thursday, 14 January 2010

The One Where My Water's Broke

Nope, this wasn't a Friends episode, this was a My Bed episode this morning when I woke to feel something slippery in between my legs.

I couldn't believe it!  Did my water's break?  Was labor actually about to happen?  I was sure I hadn't wet myself and my leg was damp.  This could only mean one thing...

My heart started to thunder in my chest and I tentatively woke up Chris.  "Chris, I think my water's may have broken.  My leg's wet.  Feel my leg."

Chris isn't a morning person but that got him up in a flash!  "Really?" he gave me a careful look while I shoved my leg towards him.  But then his expression of half shock/half excitement faded as he examined my leg.  "I don't think your water's broke.  If they had there would probably be more fluid and there's nothing on the bed, just this little bit on your leg.  I think this is just sweat."

Say WHAT?  Sweat?!  But actually....that kind of made sense.  I hauled my body out of bed and dashed, alright waddled, down to the bathroom to explore further.   No, I wasn't damp down there.  No, there wasn't any trickle to indicate my water's were broken...just my legs, slightly sticky from rubbing together under my night dress thing.

What an anti-climax I'm telling you.....I wasn't in labor.....I'm just an uncomfortable, nearly 41 weeks pregnant lady with sweaty legs as my big body attempts to regulate its temperature in the night.  Wah.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

The Waiting Game

I’m not playing the waiting game; I’ve convinced myself that I might as well have a month left of my pregnancy. Sure.

That’s why I just took a walk around the block, bounced on my ball for over an hour, ate practically a whole pineapple and am going for a curry tonight.

Actually though, I’m feeling pretty calm and though I’m making my way through many of the old wives tales in the book, I’m feeling overall positive this week. Let’s hope this high lingers.

Getting out of the house continues to be my savior. Monday I went swimming and had a great chat with an 8 month pregnant lady at the gym….It was a refreshing swim and I felt good, however I did finally suspended my membership, earning a few raised eyebrows when the staff heard when I was due!

Yesterday I met up with the other girls in my NCT group – all still pregnant but one who has recently had a lovely little boy. Having lunch and hanging out with others at a similar stage of this pregnancy journey is reassuring, supportive and fun. We lucked out and have a great group of ladies who are going through a similar life shift, have a laugh together and have no qualms about leaning on each other as we simultaneously stagger into the abyss that is parenthood. It felt good to be out and to be social. I then topped off the day at pregnancy yoga, which continues to be relaxing for body and mind.

So now I sit a temple of calm, full of pineapple but not too full for a spicy curry tonight. Actually, food is today’s theme since I promised Chris I’d make him some banana chocolate chip muffins. We’ll enjoy them, and hopefully they will keep the midwives well fed for our imminent home birth – how’s that for positive thinking?!

Thanks everyone for the continued support!

Monday, 11 January 2010

Baby, look at all the fun you're missing!

Getting out of the house this weekend was extremely therapeutic! After three days housebound due to my ice rink of a road, Chris and I took advantage of the weekend's slightly milder temperatures to go play in the snow. We're really just two big kids at heart - it took a lot of restraint and my burgeoning coat to remind Chris that he can't peg me (and baby) directly with snowballs! These pics were taken 2 days after my due date.

I know it's nice and warm inside me, but look at all the fun our little lady is missing out on! Not one to be left out, she continues to put in some solid kick boxes of her own. I'm also experiencing increase pelvic pressure and little zings in my groin that occasionally radiate down my leg. Nothing, however, is getting longer, stronger and closer together. For as many times as contractions are described to me, I still feel like I'm not going to know when they are actually here because of all these growing sensations. But I'm assured I will know when the show gets on the road. Let's hope it's soon. Thank you everyone for your encouragement and well wishes!

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Politicians Go Loco

I got a real kick out of The Sunday Times’ 'Daddy knows best' article about Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg infuriating parenting expert Gina Ford by calling her strict routine parenting approach “absolute nonsense.”

How ironic. Extracting a real opinion from a politician is usually as effective as beating your head against a brick wall, so it’s stunning that Clegg made this honest dish without blinking an eye – or considering the affect it might have on the 2 million voters who swear by Ford’s routines.

I haven’t read Ford’s The Contented Little Baby Book. In line with Clegg’s criticism, it sounds too rigid for my tastes. Thus far, I’ve stuck with Tracy Hogg’s Baby Whisperer book, which advocates a more fluid but structured daily routine for baby. Who knows if Tracy’s advice will work for me; what does work for me might not work for the next mom; it’s all a matter of personal choice really. As The Times quotes Ford: “We live in a democracy, and parents are entitled to choose whatever style of parenting they wish.” I couldn’t agree more.

While I applaud Clegg for sharing a real opinion, he probably put another nail in his political coffin by doing so through his brazen lack of tact. Whatever happened to middle ground?

Meanwhile the nanny state reared its head in Scotland, where Glasgow City Council has ordered that children under 16 (not 6, not 8, not even 10 but 16!!!) must be in sight of their parents anywhere on licensed premises, including in the lavatory. Restaurateurs by and large abhor the decision but are worried about losing their licenses if they don’t comply with it.

Has the City Council gone loco? I’m sorry, but I don’t want to bump into a 15 year-old boy in a Glasgow loo while I'm relieving myself or even freshening up because he’s out for lunch with his mama and needs her to take him to the toilet. More so, how embarrassing for him!

Clearly The Sunday Times kept me entertained today while I continue to wait for our little lady to come on out....

Saturday, 9 January 2010

My Pumpkin in Winter Wonderland

A message for our little lady who is still safe and sound within me:

My mom sometimes calls me Pumpkin
Now I have one of my own - you
Defining my contour
In the essence of my heart
At the forefront of my mind

I'm ready to meet you
At least as ready as I'll ever be
I'm rushing like a river with anticipation
Then settling like the snowflakes with disbelief
I'm in my own Winter Wonderland

Where my hands often tingle
Not from the cold
Where patience is a virtue
And suspense is grudgingly a friend
The best relationships often take time to take shape

So Chris and I went walking
Treated ourselves to some cake
Took care to stay steady
Amidst the emotional, icy plain
Of our Winter Wonderland

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Due Date Tomorrow but No News Yet....

I just finished my second cup of raspberry leaf tea for the day. I read about its uterine stimulating qualities in one of my pregnancy updates and kept meaning to buy some. I didn’t get around to it until earlier this week, so hopefully I’m not too late to reap its supposed rewards!

I know that less than 4% or so of babies are born on their due date. Still, I can’t help the emotional and mental attachment I’ve developed about has been my lighthouse on the horizon, the destination circled in red on my pregnancy map, the day that I’m expecting to meet my baby.

I’ve been known to say “never expect anything.” Now is about the time I take my own advice. I feel like a ticking bomb that could go off any moment. Hopefully this tea will help! Friends also have suggested a mix natural labor inducing activities like cuddling, hot curry, sex, walking, climbing stairs, castor oil and, ahem, ingesting semen... Suffice to say, some of these suggestions are more appealing than others! Anyone else have any others to share?

It also doesn’t help that the recent cold front has turned my road to a solid sheet of ice and left me housebound. You know I like to get out and about in some respect daily and this weather is totally cramping my style....not bringing on period-like labor cramps....grrrr. But I’m not stir crazy or anything....just a picture of calm. I’m certain the oxytocin must be flowing. I told Chris this weather will most likely secure our home birth but that he may be doing the delivery if the midwives can’t get here in time. But maybe I shouldn’t joke about such things...

Meanwhile, Chris and I are not the only ones in suspense. Calls, texts and emails are rolling in daily from family and friends wishing me well and asking about progress. Thank you everyone – I wish I had exciting news to share but as of now, I don’t. I will keep you posted, I promise.

So home alone, I chat to the little lady and encourage her to make herself known. I’ve let her know she may be real cozy in there, but that she’ll still be close to me once she comes out. In fact, LH shared this Times 2 article with me on the benefits of baby slings, which we both have and are excited about trying out. Interestingly, the article also discusses the popularity of sling movement in the USA alongside its growing popularity here in the UK. Provided Chris and I can get ours strapped on properly, I’m hoping our Sleepy Wrap (pictured) may prove soothing to our little lady. So far she’s not buying this argument but I’ll keep on trying and maybe she'll come out to play.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Truthful Tuesdays – When Losing Actually Means Winning

Confessions from a Working Mom

This post is for Elizabeth of Confessions From A Working Mom, who asks fellow bloggers to share a new truth each Tuesday. This week, she asked:

“Have you ever lost something….and came out a winner?”

This was an easy ask for me. As soon as I became pregnant, I lost my ability to be selfish. Now I don’t think I’m an overly self-centered person and Chris and I take on the world as a team and all that jazz BUT I never before had a human being’s life physically depend on me in a manner that led me to change many small but personal elements of my daily life. These changes, though subtle in isolation, speak to the pretty big new responsibility of birthing and raising another person; helping them to grow and put good back into this wild and wonderful world.

In pregnancy I said goodbye to brie, my figure, medium rare steaks, running (at about 25 weeks) and glasses of red …. but these losses are temporary and the reward we get, our little lady, reduce these sacrifices to the influence of a grain of sand.

In the longer term, as Chris and I look to carve out our new life balance, we won’t just be thinking about what we want, but about what we want for our family and how to still “do our own thing” within that greater and all important context. I keep mentioning this is important to us – it is – but we realize that it won’t just be us anymore, like it’s always been. That loss is slightly bittersweet when I think of all the little random things we do together (from spur of the moment runs in the dark to drinking a bottle of wine and then another to lazy weekend lay-ins) without another care in the world.

Now we’ll have a care. Our daughter. But you know what? We consciously made this choice and I wouldn’t trade the fact I’m pregnant and that we’re having a little girl and entering a new life chapter for the world. So our loss is really more our gain. For I’m sure life is soon to take on new, exhilarating dimensions that I won’t quite understand until they’re unraveling before me.

Monday, 4 January 2010

Birth Choice Pulled into the Political Playground

Pre-election campaigning kicked off full force in the UK as we entered 2010 and the Tories promise “real childbirth choice” as one of their political selling points.

Today the BBC reports on Conservative leader David Cameron’s bid for new maternity networks that would supposedly better link local childbirth services and better meet mothers’ needs. This feature comes as part of wider plan for improved NHS services without spending cuts.

Both Labour and the Liberal Democrats question the Tories spending promises, but without entering the full political fray, what I see as interesting is the Tories’ attempt to capture the mummy vote by promising rather ambiguous plans for improved childbirth choice as one of their campaign features. In fact the BBC article highlights the Royal College of Midwives as saying service changes were already underway and the Conservative offerings appear no drastically different.

Get ready for some questioning about this Cameron – I think mums are a bit too smart to be conned by campaign mumbo jumbo that looks sweet but lacks substance. Let’s have a bit more detail please!

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Rear Views can be Deceiving

In tribute to Baby of Dirty Dancing, “I am now carrying a watermelon.” Yes I am.

Yesterday the midwife said the not-so-little melon appears to be dropping in my pelvis but probably has more progress to make from the position of her heartbeat. She told me all looked well and to go away and chill out. I’m trying.

Since gravity is my friend and I’m trying to stay as active as possible, I took advantage of today’s bright sunny morning to do my power walk around the neighbourhood. The cool air felt refreshing, helped clear my head and gave me an extra spring in my step.

Then, to top off my “see-saw up” mood came a cat call and honk from....can you other than a young guy in white van! I was pleased for such attention with a tiny bump at 17 weeks pregnant so you can imagine my delight at this late-pregnancy honk. I’m not sure whether I took more pleasure in the compliment on my rear view or the look that must have crossed that dude’s face when he kept driving and caught a glimpse my watermelon! I bet that was priceless.

Is it sad that I am excited to still be deemed worthy of cat calls by men in white vans? Probably, but I’ll take what I can get now. Chris says I’m still attractive but he’s my husband and that’s his job :)

Saturday, 2 January 2010

I’m Off to see the Midwife, the Wonderful Midwife of Oz….

Okay, it’s not the Wonderful Midwife of Oz….it’s my Wonderful Midwife of London who I’m hoping will tell me the little lady is nicely engaged and will be making her out of womb appearance shortly!

I’m 39 weeks pregnant. I’m starting to feel more uncomfortable. I feel like a beached whale in bed – it really is easier to turn over by flipping on all fours instead of hauling the weight of my body from side to side. I have a sketchy stomach, possibly a sign that things may kick off soon though this could be wishful thinking on my part.

I’m also getting lots of pressure down below, though the baby is still managing to kickbox like a prize fighter under my bust line. Chris and I have taken to watching my belly ripple in waves on a daily basis. I guess she feels cramped too.

Here’s my week 39 picture, taken in the last moments of 2009 before bed. We stayed up for the strike of midnight but we were in bed, worn out by but a game of scrabble.

So I’m hoping Midwife L, who has been extremely supportive to me throughout my pregnancy and who I haven't seen for two weeks (in the US by this stage I'd be having weekly checkups but here in the UK they are bi-weekly) may be able to offer some words of solace and confirmation of progress. Keep your fingers crossed please.