Why I love the newborn stage

Yes, I said it. The disturbed sleep, the black, tar-like nappies, the uncomfortable feeling of trying to sit down while your nether regions haven’t healed yet. I love this stage the most.

Once the dust had settled and we’d got our heads around being a family of four, I fell in love with the newborn phase of Rory’s life, just as I had with Isla. And yes, this is a strange opinion, but I’ll tell you why.

As one of my closest friends put it, right now Rory pretty much is in a routine of eat-sleep-poop-repeat, which means excursions out of the house are quite easy as he just sleeps the majority of the time. He feeds every 3-4 hours so it’s relatively simple to plan a trip out between his feeds. I even managed a day out shopping and doing lunch with my mother-in-law when he was two weeks old and he either slept happily in his pram, or watched the world go by. So much easier than keeping tabs on a toddler who wants to touch everything, not hold my hand, and decides halfway round that she doesn’t want to walk anymore.

Plus newborn sleep is brilliant. The average newborn sleeps up to 18 hours a day and we’re lucky that when Rory sleeps, he sleeps. Very deeply, and for a good couple of hours at a time, which means a good amount of downtime for mummy. I can either get jobs done (I’ve even been able to vacuum around him!), eat, enjoy a hot cup of tea, or actually catch up on some sleep – like you’re always being told to. Plus newborn sleepy cuddles are just the best!

Give it a few months and he’ll be napping a lot less, and will be a lot more active, so that cuppa will be left abandoned on a high shelf while I’m chasing a crawling/toddling baby around the house. Right now, I also don’t have to worry that if I pop him in his Moses basket and turn my back for a second, when I look back he’ll have crawled out and will be trying to climb into the washing machine, which I’m enjoying while it lasts.

Because don’t get me wrong, i’m under absolutely no illusions that these blissful, quiet hours will last. I’m very aware that this is the calm before the storm, and that babies can change in a heartbeat from happy, sleepy babies who feed like clockwork to angry little sleep thieves who just want to cry for hours on end. With Isla, that change came on New Years Day 2016 when she turned 4 months old, and then BAM!! Four month sleep regression hit, and Isla stopped sleeping. At all. And because she was overtired, she was miserable as hell, which meant trips out of the house were very stressful and consisted of her screaming her head off, making this exhausted mummy frustrated and weepy.

Then once we were past the sleep regression, Isla started crawling and developing so quickly, so our days were spent trying to stop her crawling under the coffee table and keep her clever little mind active.

So that’s why I’m making the most of these quiet days where I’m actually able to enjoy a hot brew and an episode or two of Game of Thrones. Where I don’t have to worry about packing little pots of puréed food on a trip to the supermarket in case he gets peckish. Right now, just whipping out a boob will be enough to settle him. But not for long!

The old saying goes that mums should “enjoy every minute”, so that’s what I’m doing right now. And hoping that the day it all changes won’t come too soon, as I love sleepy cuddles with Rory. I love watching him sleep and feeling him snuggle into me when he’s feeding. I love watching him flap his little arms and legs around when he’s on his playmat. He’s a little treasure, and I’d love to keep him as the little snuggle bunny he is now!


A tale of two births

They say that no birth is ever the same, and indeed, there were many differences between Isla’s birth and our son’s (yes, it’s a boy!)

While Isla was born nine days late, had to be induced due to reduced movements, and the birth in total lasted 41 hours, Rory James came into the world on August 6th – on his due date – after my waters broke at home, and the labour in total lasted just 12 hours 46 minutes. Recovery wise Rory’s has been better too, as I needed an episiotomy and a lot of stitches with Isla, but just had a small graze with Rory so I was able to sit down without wincing just 2 days postpartum.

I’ll take you back to Sunday August 5th. My wonderful cousin was visiting and staying overnight with her son as we’d made plans to take the kids to a farm park nearby the next day as a last outing before baby decided to join us. (She’d also agreed to be on standby back at home in case I went into labour and we needed someone to care for Isla, so it was lucky that she was here with us and we didn’t need to worry about getting her here in a hurry!)

“Babies never come on their due dates” we said, “it’ll be fine, and all the walking around might even help get things going!” Famous last words…

At 11.50pm, I was woken up by a popping sound and my waters broke all over our bed! So I rang the labour ward at hospital, explained the situation and that I was Group B Strep positive, and was told to come in straight away. We woke my very excited cousin and explained the situation, and off we went into hospital, which is a half hour drive away.

My contractions started in the car and continued once we were taken to our room, and I cracked on with bouncing on the birthing ball and focused on breathing through them. I had my first lot of GBS antibiotics at around 3am, and then again at 7am as per protocol, and I can’t tell you how relieved I was that I’d had the proper dose in time to protect my baby, as sometimes labours happen so quick that there isn’t time for both doses.

Come 8am though, my contractions were getting more intense but weren’t getting more frequent so I was given drugs to move things along, and bloody hell, they really kicked up a notch then! I got hold of the gas and air and was bouncing on my ball for dear life, and I swear I don’t remember my contractions with Isla’s birth being so intense.

But just 4 hours later and 22 minutes of pushing, our little boy was born. I was so exhausted with Isla’s birth I don’t remember her actually being born, and towards the end I didn’t feel as in control as I’d had diamorphine and due to my episiotomy, I couldn’t actually feel much of anything.

But just being on the gas and air I felt more with it (and definitely felt those bloody contractions!!) and clearly remember seeing Rory for the first time – it was amazing. His skinny, wrinkly little arms and legs, his mass of blonde hair, his tiny little fingers, everything.

So although my labour with Isla was altogether a positive one, Rory’s was even more positive. It was shorter, I felt more in control, and actually remember seeing him come into the world.

But rest assured, never again! We’ve got our two children, one of each, and we’re done!


Second child syndrome?

So here we are, officially on countdown to the arrival of baby number two. Baby’s ETA is in five days and counting, and I’m hoping this one makes an appearance sooner rather than later as the heatwave we’ve had over the past month has made this pregnancy rather uncomfortable to say the least. Coping with 30degree heat at 38/39 weeks pregnant isn’t fun, but it won’t be long now until we’ll have an almost three year old and almost a newborn. Blooming eck!

I seriously have no idea where these past few years have gone. It seems like only yesterday we were eagerly anticipating Isla’s arrival, and now she’s a child and we’re about to be joined by another. Scary.

I’ve been wondering a lot while I’ve been on maternity leave what number 2 will be like, in looks and personality. And while I know all children are different, and there’s not much you can do on that front, I’d be thrilled if number 2 is like his/her big sister.

I’m trying desperately not to sound like I’m bragging, but Isla is what you’d call a “good” child (gah, don’t you just hate that expression?!). She has slept through the night since she was 6 months old, eats pretty much anything you put in front of her, is incredibly polite and loves people, does as she’s told (most of the time!) and is really well behaved in public. She’s also really clever, has been potty trained since she was 2 and a half, can dress herself, and she’s a proper little chatterbox, to the extent that her nursery teachers have said her speech is quite advanced for her age.

Which is just a few reasons why I’m so nervous that baby #2 is going to be a nightmare! The amount of Facebook posts I’ve seen proclaiming that good first children are just nature’s way of lulling you into a false sense of security is staggering, plus I have several friends and family members whose second/third children have been non-sleepers, bad feeders, more naughty, or all of the above.

While we plan to raise #2 exactly the same as Isla, again I’m aware that every child is different and that the odds of us having another child as “good” as Isla are dodgy. But we can hope – it’s that hope which makes parents go back for round 2 isn’t it?!

Hopefully my next blog post will be to herald the arrival of number 2, and I hope I’ll be able to say that my second labour was as positive an experience as my first. But as a previous blog explained, I’m Group B Strep positive so I’m just hoping against hope that baby is healthy…keep everything crossed for us!


A bit about Group B Strep

What do the hand-held notes of a worrying pregnancy for a chronic worrier look like? This: 👇🏻

While I’m know I’m incredibly lucky that my notes haven’t been slapped with a big “high risk” sticker, like some of my friends, the journey behind these stickers have caused no end of panic and stress for someone who worries a lot, like me.

At 30 weeks, on May Bank Holiday, our normally very wriggly baby stopped moving. All day. I tried everything that he/she normally responds to, such as drinking water, lying on my left side, and even playing The Greatest Showman soundtrack (the kid has excellent taste in music!) but nothing. I was terrified and after a call to my antenatal unit, was told to come in and be monitored. Thankfully, and by sheer Sod’s law, baby started kicking up a storm as soon as we arrived and, feeling better, I was sent on my way.

Then, 6 days later, it happened again. This time, after being monitored and ascertaining that baby was fine, I was sent for a scan the next day to check cord blood flow and fluid around the baby. Thankfully, these also came back fine.

Then a week after the second period of reduced movement, baby stopped moving again. So back in I went for more monitoring and scans, which again all came back fine, and my midwife put it down to baby hiding behind my anterior placenta/being a contrary little sod.

Then not long after, my midwife rang to say that a routine urine test at my last appointment had shown I had Group B Strep. I didn’t know much about it except that it can be fatal to babies, so naturally I was terrified.

As it turns out, about 1 in 5 women carries Group B Strep, and it’s not normally picked up as it’s not routinely tested for on the NHS because it’s rarely a problem unless it is passed on to the baby. If it is, then it can cause sepsis, pneumonia, or worse.

Thankfully the doctors assured me that the important thing is that they know about it, so both me and baby will be protected as much as possible. I would just need intravenous antibiotics during labour, 4 hours apart, and baby would be monitored for around 24 hours after birth, and as long as we get at least one dose of antibiotics at least 2 hours before birth, there was just a 1 in 3,000 chance that baby would get it. But my anxieties haven’t stopped me worrying that our baby will be poorly, or worse, and because I’m the carrier, that it will be all my fault. I may have even had it with Isla, but as it comes and goes, I’ll never know.

But when I posted about GBS in one of my mummy Facebook groups, I had a huge amount of reassuring comments from other mums (over 70!) who all said they’d tested positive, had antibiotics, and both had been totally fine. It seems that the most important thing is that it’s picked up, so the doctors can treat it.

At least some good has come out of my worrying pregnancy – a good friend of mine has ordered a private test for Group B Strep (it’s not offered on the NHS) and as many of my friends had never even heard of it, it also feels good to be spreading the word about it.

It does beg the question though – if it can be life threatening for babies, why aren’t mums routinely screened for it? Mine was picked up in a standard urine test, so how hard could it be to just make it a routine check if it means babies’ lives are saved!?


Not long left…

There’s no doubt pregnancy is a beautiful and miraculous thing, and there’s a lot to be said about bringing another life into the world. Yes it’s a magical time, but here’s also moments when you just want to scream “GET OUT OF ME YOU LITTLE SOD!!”

I have to admit, as I’m nearing the end of this pregnancy, I’m feeling quite bittersweet about it. We’ve decided that this will be our second and last baby, so this will (hopefully) be my last pregnancy and, while there’s some things I’ll miss about being pregnant, there’s no denying I also wish I could turn the clock forward a few weeks towards my due date!

Here’s a few things I’ll miss about being pregnant, and some things I definitely won’t…

  • Little baby kicks – there’s no nicer feeling for me than feeling my baby wriggling around inside my belly. In those moments, it feels like we’re the only two people in the world and we’re sharing a little moment, especially when the baby responds to our voices. Isla loves kissing my belly and enjoys blowing raspberries on my tummy to get him/her to move, and I love that baby responds to her as well.
  • The nice comments – I know it’s a bit egotistical, but people definitely are nicer to you when you’re pregnant and I’ll admit, part of me actually likes the attention sometimes. And people definitely treat you with kid gloves – open doors for you, pick things up off the floor when you drop them (which I’m very grateful for!) and offer to bring you drinks if you’ve (finally) made yourself comfortable and don’t want to move for a while. Nice!
  • Knowing you’re bringing a new life into the world – yes it’s soppy, but the miracle of life does amaze me. The growing of a baby and birthing from it fills me with wonder, what our bodies can do to create a new life is incredible.

What won’t I miss? Well….

  • The aches and pains – yes, growing a baby is wonderful, but the strain it puts on our bodies is bloody hard. I’ve really struggled with this pregnancy, especially with insomnia, back pain and sickness well past the 20 week mark. Now I’m 34 weeks, I can’t walk far at all before my belly and back start to hurt and I end up sweating like a heaving beast. Which leads me on to…
  • Being restricted – bless her, Isla is a really good girl and understands that mummy can’t do certain things because of the baby in her tummy, but I hate not being able to do things with her that I could earlier. For example, I love taking her to the park and swimming, but I can’t do these things on my own as I can’t lift her up or carry her – as I found out a couple of weeks ago when I took her to an adventure playground and she climbed up a slide and got stuck and I couldn’t get her down! Thankfully, another parent came to our rescue, but it frustrated me that I can’t be the parent I want to be to Isla , and won’t be able to for a while as I’ll be on Planet Newborn for a while.
  • The lack of sleep – yes, I know I should be getting used to not sleeping well, but juggling working full time (which includes 80 mile round trip of a commute) with an excitable toddler means I’m constantly shattered, yet I’m so uncomfortable with my aforementioned bad back and massive belly that I can’t sleep, plus the multiple trips to the loo all hours of the night. Fun.
  • Missing my favourite things – I know it’s only for 9 months, but who can honestly say they don’t miss having a glass of something naughty when they’re pregnant? And yes, without wanting to sound like I have a drink problem, I have missed not being able to have a Pimms or a glass of prosecco in this lovely weather. And I also love desserts like cheesecake and tiramisu, which are both off limits too. Hubs and I have got a bottle of our favourite wine chilling in the fridge ready for when I’m able to drink again!
  • The not-so-nice comments – yes, most people have been lovely and have told me how well I’m looking in this pregnancy, but there’s always the odd one comment that makes you feel like shit. “Ooooh yes you’re big all over with this one aren’t you?” was one, “Gosh you look very big and tired today dear” was another. Charming.

But hey, enough of my moaning. It’s all worth it in the end, and I can’t wait to meet our baby. Just wish he’d get a move on…


The bump, the toddler, and me 🤢😴😃😡😭

So here we are, pregnancy number 2, and as this will be our second and final baby, I’m determined to enjoy this pregnancy.

Except it’s really bloody hard to enjoy this one so far…

When I was pregnant with Isla, I was tired all the time and was constantly sick, morning, noon and night, right up until 21 weeks. But at least I was able to rest a bit and didn’t have a toddler to chase after. Without wanting to sound whiny, this pregnancy is so much harder than my first.

I’ve got the crushing exhaustion and sickness as before, but there’s a huge variety of food and drink that triggers the sickness this time – spicy food, rich food, any hot drinks, dairy (even butter on toast or milk on cereal is a no-no) – and I’ve also been blessed with insomnia this time. Because I’m so tired, I’m asleep by 9pm most nights, which in turn then means I’m awake at 3/4am and can’t sleep for love nor money, so I’m exhausted by 8pm, and so the cycle continues.

Whether Hubs agrees with this or not is debatable, but I didn’t really have mood swings with my first pregnancy, but this time around, my moods have been up and down more than a whore’s drawers, as my mum would have said. It’s not fun.

The positives? This time my skin and hair are less greasy and my hair feels thicker, which I didn’t have first time around.

I’m also so excited that we’re completing our family, and despite the icky symptoms, I am loving being pregnant again. Being able to feel the baby wriggling inside me is a magical feeling.’

And the biggest positive? Isla is so excited to be a big sister. She kisses my bump and says hello to the baby all the time, and has been telling everyone that “mummy has a baby in her tummy”. Thankfully, she doesn’t seem to have a preference over whether she has a brother or sister, which is just as well since we’re not finding out what we’re having this time, but that’s another story…


Ding ding, round 2…

Remember how, pretty much 18 months ago, I said I wouldn’t be having any more kids because of how tough my first pregnancy was and blah blah blah?

Yeah, that didn’t last.

Roughly about 6 months after I published that blog post, I woke up one morning and just decided I desperately wanted another baby. Like, right now. All of the reasons I said to stay on just the one child went right out of the window.

So Hubs and I talked and decided that as we had problems conceiving Isla, we should probably get a move on if we wanted to try again, as my PCOS would probably have gotten worse over the past 3 years. So I made an appointment with the lovely gynaecologist who helped us conceive Isla (with the right medication you understand, no funny business…) and he put me on Clomid, as he did before, and we started trying in May last year.

Only this time, Round 2 proved to be more problematic. The first three cycles were unsuccessful, and the multiple negative pregnancy tests I took each month were incredibly disheartening. I went back to my gynaecologist for various tests which showed I was ovulating, so I was given three more cycles of clomid and it was just a case of “keep going.” I started using a fertility app to track my cycles and scrutinised any signs that I might be ovulating each month, putting ridiculous pressure on us to “get it right”.

Two more unsuccessful cycles followed, and by October, after I got my period at work and had a little cry in the office toilets, I was beginning to panic. I’d already read a lot of websites about secondary infertility (yes, I know…) and was so worried it wouldn’t happen for us. I know how lucky we are to already have our beautiful girl, but I felt like a failure for not being able to give her a brother or sister.

So in November, we decided to get Hubs’ swimmers tested, which meant that we’d have to “abstain” for a week before the test. This week happened to fall during my fertile period, so in my eyes, November was a write-off to try properly. Or was it…?

On December 1st, my period was a day late. And I knew. I just knew. Just as had happened with Isla, the second we stopped “trying”, it happened. It just goes to show that putting too much pressure on yourself only makes it harder. If you’re struggling to conceive, take a break from it and try to relax, and maybe, just maybe…

So here we are, 20 weeks along with baby number 2. And remember I was concerned that being pregnant and coping with crushing exhaustion and constant sickness while running after a toddler would be incredibly tough? I was right. This pregnancy is much tougher than my first! But more on that later, I’ve rambled on long enough here!