A Letter to my Daughter

Parenting

You are truly beautiful. Inside and out. Some people will say this doesn’t matter, some will say it’s all that matters. For me, it is important that you know I believe you to be perfect. I want you to be confident in yourself and feel certain that no matter where you go or who you face, you are enough. In every single way.

To my beautiful daughter,

As I lay here and watch you sleep, my heart bursts with love for you.

I cannot believe that someone so perfect in every way is mine. Mine to look after, to nurture, to teach and to watch grow.

I lay here wondering how I can make your path through life the happiest, most fulfilling and most satisfying journey you could possibly take.

There are so many lessons you will learn in life, so many experiences that I won’t be able to prepare you for, but there are also many wisdoms I can impart, many lessons I can share and some important affirmations you should start believing as soon as you understand what they mean.

Let me first start by telling you that you are strong, you are kind, you are clever and you are beautiful. You are my little warrior princess who, against all the odds, became everything we never knew we were missing. You are also very loved, by so many people and as you grow, so will everyone’s love for you.

Strength can be shown in many ways. We know already that you have a great inner strength; a determination that defies your tiny size and tiny age. And this strength will grow as you do. You must always use it to be supportive, to help others, to earn respect and to achieve wonderful things. Be strong in everything you do, but don’t be afraid to show weakness. Asking for help is also a sign of strength. Emotions are there to be shared and in doing so you will learn so much about both yourself and your friends and family.

Kindness is a trait that I will be reinforcing with you throughout your life. By being kind to others you will always be surrounded by love. Know how important it is to share, to listen, to talk and to be a friend. By being a friend to others, they will be friends to you. Our lives are enriched so much by the friends we choose to share them with.

Being clever isn’t judged solely on academic ability or the results you achieve in tests and competitions. Being clever is about finding your passions and pursuing them. Learning from everything you do and everyone you meet and taking a genuine interest in the world around you. Take pride in your achievements, no matter how small, while at the same time remaining humble and gracious. There are already so many wonderful people in your life who can teach you so much! Listen to what they say, learn from what they do and you will have a wealth of knowledge and a wider understanding of the world around you.

You are truly beautiful. Inside and out. Some people will say this doesn’t matter, some will say it’s all that matters. For me, it is important that you know I believe you to be perfect. I want you to be confident in yourself and feel certain that no matter where you go or who you face, you are enough. In every single way.

I will always be here for you. To hold your hand, to give you a cuddle, to sing you a song, to play games, to teach you to cook, to dance, to ride a bike, to plait your hair, to kiss it better when it hurts, to talk to, to share with and to love you with all my heart.

All I want for you is health, happiness and contentment and it is my goal, as your mummy, to help you find these things as you create your own path through the incredibly exciting life ahead of you.

Remember to always be true to yourself. Follow your own fashions and dance your own dance. There isn’t another you anywhere in the world, so show the world who you are and why you’re so special.

All my love, forever.

Your Mummy x

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CBeebies Bedtime Hour

Parenting

Last week CBeebies created quite a media storm by starting their bedtime ‘hour’ (now 75 minutes) fifteen minutes earlier, at 5.45pm.

Parents across the UK are up in arms because they cannot understand who is starting bedtime at this time or how.

So what do I think?

I love it!

Little V is allowed to watch a little bit of television after she’s eaten her tea and before she has her bath. Tea time is generally between 5 and 5.15 and we go upstairs for bath time between 6 and 6.30. From there, we don’t come back downstairs again as it’s the start of the bedtime routine – bath, pjs, story, sleep.

The new show that is being broadcast on CBeebies at 5.45 is absolutely perfect. It’s a sweet little puppetry story called ‘Moon and Me‘ all about going to sleep. Now, call me crazy, but that is exactly what I want Little V to see before she heads upstairs to start her own little bedtime ritual! It’s calm, it’s child-friendly and it’s very gentle viewing. A stark comparison to some of the other programs in the so-called ‘bedtime hour’ which I’m sure were created to get little ones overexcited and dancing around the room.

Of course, it is every parent’s choice what time they put their little ones to bed, but I personally value an early bedtime.

We have lots of fun during the day, my little girly (who has just turned two) has a nap just before lunch and isn’t allowed to sleep in the afternoon. I then find that by the time bath and bedtime comes round she is more than ready to settle down and welcomes the calm routine that we have established.

It’s just one point of view and by no means are any of the stances on this right or wrong – children’s routines (or lack thereof) are very personal and we all have to do what works for us, but I have to say I’m thrilled with CBeebies new scheduling and I will welcome the addition of Pepi Nana, Moon Baby and their friends as a new part of our bedtime routine.

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Who is Little V?

Parenting

IMG_1879Here she is! My raison d’être, my little ray of sunshine and the sparkliest thing in my entire life.

Little V arrived two years ago on a cold night at the end of January and turned my whole world upside down. I have never known such a feeling of complete fulfilment and cannot imagine a world without her in it.

She is so full of life – the epitome of ‘vivacious’, she is dramatic, talkative, creative, brave, adventurous, sociable and incredibly caring. Her wit, understanding and eloquence is far beyond her two tiny years and she can already command a busy dinner table and cheekily joins in with conversations that we don’t even know she’s listening to!

What is this feeling called love?

Whether I’m cooking, cleaning, tidying, working, chilling out or just going about my every day life, Little V is right beside me wanting to learn, copy and join in with everything I do. She helps me makes the beds every morning, she wipes round the bath and rinses down the sink, she tidies up her little kitchen and makes sure that the Play Doh goes back in the box so it doesn’t dry up while she goes off to play with something else. Yet, on the other hand, she’s quite wild! She’s so free spirited and most definitely has mind of her own. I can tell that there will be many battles of wills ahead – we already lock horns on occasion and she’s hardly turned 2!

So there we have it, Little V. My miniature bestie, my mini-me and the sunshine that lights up every single day.

A Big Bed for a Little Girl

Parenting

It’s no secret if you follow us on Instagram that we’ve been having a little bit of trouble getting Violetta down to sleep recently! 

With the arrival of the heatwave came the demise of her incredible bedtime routine. My calm, easygoing girl who was being popped in her cot awake and seeing herself off to sleep suddenly became clingy, unsettled and impossible to leave at bedtime. To begin with I put it down to the heat and we tried all the usual suggestions, but absolutely nothing made it possible to put her in her cot without total hysterics and my fear that she was just getting herself too worked up. So I got her travel cot mattress and popped it next to her cot and she fell asleep there before being moved across. 

I kept telling myself that everything with children is just a phase and that this one will pass, but it was getting harder and harder to loose my evenings to laying on the mattress until she fell asleep. I do most of my work after she’s gone to bed and that time had gone, meaning I was having to work while she occupied herself during the day. 

So something had to change. I thought about it long and hard before realising that it was the constraints of the cot causing the problem, not the falling asleep. 

So yesterday Violetta and I went shopping together. We bought her a special cot pillow and some new pjs and then we went home and took the side off her cot, together. 

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She was so excited by the time the cot was a bed that I had barely got the duvet and pillow in place before she was climbing in and role-playing bedtime! She went to bed. All her toys went to bed. Mummy didn’t get a look in! Then when Nana arrived for tea, Violetta proudly showed her new bed and how it was to be used. IMG_8519

We also decided that yesterday was the day to say bye bye to the bedtime bottle. So Violetta had her bath, popped on her new pjs and came downstairs to a very special cup of warm milk with a paper straw. She absolutely loved it and straight afterwards said night night and headed off upstairs. 

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I wish that enthusiasm continued. Despite being happy to get into bed, she wasn’t so happy to stay there, but with some gentle persuasion and cuddles from Nellie, she eventually settled. And guess what, she did a solid 12 hours! The longest she’s slept in such a long time! Even after she woke up she waited nicely in bed until we went to get her. 

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And this evening? After a ten minute story and a little back tickle from Mummy, this little dolly was asleep in her big bed and (touch wood) hasn’t moved yet!

I don’t know how tonight will go and I know that some people will think I’ve done this too soon, but I know my little girl and I know she was ready. Here’s hoping the 12 hour nights continue!

ps. Just look at her first pair of slippers!!

Cot Bed: Mamas and Papas

PJs: White Company and Mothercare

Slippers: Mothercare

Bedding: White Company

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It’s the Summer Holidays!

Child's Play, Parenting

It’s the summer holidays! Shout it from the roof tops!! This is my first real summer holiday with a little toddler in tow (last year I worked throughout – and while I plan to work a fair amount this summer I will be limiting it to 2/3 days a week and giving my little one my undivided attention the rest of the time).

So we’re one week in and already having so much fun.

The funny thing is that we haven’t actually gone out and done a lot yet, but we have just really really enjoyed each other’s company.

We’ve planted some little flowers in our garden, re-organised her toy room and nursery to make them the ultimate play spaces for her, done some drawing, cooked dinner together, gone out for coffees, seen friends (old and new!) and family and played, played, played!

Violetta’s language skills are changing every single day and it is truly incredible to witness. She takes absolutely everything in and suddenly comes out with something totally unexpected. Today, for example, she came and asked me for a cup of tea. I was in fits of giggles, but she must have heard the adults around her talking about having a cuppa and decided that she wanted one too, at a later date in a totally new context. When I declined the cup of tea, she just said ‘ok Mummy, sandwich please’. She’s got a seriously fun little personality on her and a really wicked sense of humour.

I’ll keep you updated as to the fun and games we get up to over the summer, but for now here’s a pretty little picture of Violetta with some of my favourite flowers.

The Baby Show – Photoshoot

Child's Play, Parenting

A couple of weeks ago we were in Italy on holiday and one evening, while in the apartment earlier than everyone else thanks to a sleeping baby, I started browsing Facebook.  Scrolling through a lot of noise, my attention was drawn to a post from The Baby Show (who I have been following since falling pregnant with Violetta) regarding a competition they were running to find the face of The Baby Show 2018).

We’ve dabbled a bit in baby modelling and Violetta is represented by Kids London Ltd. She’s attended a couple of professional shoots for Baby London Magazine and Children Salon and was down to the final two for the new John Lewis advert, but we don’t push it and just take things on as, when and if they come up.

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Photographer: Sue Greetham

This competition seemed like a fun one to enter; simply sending off two photos of Violetta with a little story about her. I checked hubby was happy for me to enter her and sent it off. To be completely honest, I didn’t give it another thought as out of all the entries they were bound to receive, I doubted Violetta would be noticed.

I was wrong!

I received a call saying that she had been selected as one of nine finalists and we were asked to attend a photoshoot from which the winner will be chosen.

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Photo Credit: The Baby Show instagram account

This was such an exciting phone call and I was beyond excited to take Violetta along for her big opportunity. I was also acutely aware that the last time she had a photo shoot she could only just sit, there was no fidget-bottomed, dance loving, into everything toddler to contend with!

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Baby London Magazine Photoshoot

We had an early start and had to ride a rush hour tube across London. Violetta decided to start her shmoozing early; making choo choo train noises, waving at all the commuters (and lavishing big smiles on those who waved back) and saying ‘bye bye everybody’ every time we pulled into a station. It was pretty amusing. After a false start getting on the wrong train and then ending up on a platform in the wrong direction, we made it to the studios and headed down to meet the lovely team.

There are a lot of people involved in a baby photo shoot; more than you’d imagine! After introductions to the ten or so team members we were invited to make ourselves comfortable. We were given a wonderful goody bag with a toy dragon from Mamas and Papas (which on the train home I discovered Violetta had named Peter, I’m guessing after the photographer1), a Mam bottle, a railway book, a flannel and a huge bottle of aloe vera moisturiser. What a lucky girl!

Violetta made sure everyone said hello to her on a cheeky little set walkabout and then it was time to see the stylist. Fitted out with a super cute JoJo Maman Bebe outfit which fitted into the theme of the shoot (top secret at the moment, so I promised not to share that bit!) she was ready to go.

Now, as I mentioned, I had no idea how Miss V was going to behave on set, but I had my fingers crossed that my usually well behaved girly would be on top form for the lovely photographer.

Thankfully, she was, although we had great difficulty trying to get her to sit still in the middle of the set and smile. Who knew toddlers find it somewhat tricky to do that when surrounded by new and exciting toys, a white canvas and a very flashy camera!

We had 45 minutes to see if we could get a good picture and believe me when I tell you that Violetta tested out every single part of the set; the toys, the props, the adult sized hat, the tripod, the backing and even the photographers very expensive professional camera. He was incredibly kind and they had the room in fits of giggles when she worked out which button took a photo and then went on to take a whole series of selfies!

About half way through the shoot she snuggled down with a pillow and said ‘ni-night everybody’ before pretending to be asleep. A cheeky snack break was in order followed by more fun and games, songs, dances and twirling. I had a little peek over the producers shoulder and saw a fabulous photo of her reaching up to the sky (something she’s learnt to do in Mummy’s Tiny Feet dance classes).

Photo Credit: The Baby Show instagram

We were made to feel so welcome and involved and I absolutely loved the positive attitude of the team who were running the shoot. Believe it or not, I was even asked to take part in an interview for The Sunday Times news review magazine about parenting in a digital age. Who knows whether I’ll make the final piece, but what a wonderful opportunity to be given nevertheless.

If you are thinking of entering your little one into a competition or pursuing some baby modelling for them, I would say go for it! Violetta loved her experience today and had a fantastic time meeting new people and experiencing something very unlike her usual everyday. Whether she wins or not, I’m proud of her for being the sweet, fun, cute, giggly and forthright little toddler that she is and for confidently playing up for the little crowd of onlookers at the shoot.

If you are wondering where I stand on bringing my child up in a digital age of parenting, I’ll blog about that another time and I’ll let you know if I make it into the article and how Violetta gets on with this competition too!

Feel free to ask any questions, especially if you are thinking of getting your little one involved in something like this!

 

 

Travelling with a Toddler

baby, Parenting

Violetta is now 16 months and travelling with her now is a whole new ball game!

Her Papa’s extended family live in a rural town near Rome in Italy and it was finally time to take our little lady our there to visit everybody.

Before we left I decided it would be best to pack a capsule wardrobe of clothes for her that she could wear whatever the weather. This turned out to be a brilliant idea as while we were away we ended up treating her to some new clothes and my careful packing meant that we had plenty of space to bring things back where her nappies had been!

The other sensible thing I did before leaving was to ensure that all our things fitted in two suitcases and two backpacks. This left us hands free for the airport and meant that once we’d dropped off the suitcases and car seat (I’m very particular about car safety and would never travel without this) we were able to focus on Violetta and letting her have a lovely wander around the airport before being confined on the plane.

In my hand luggage bag I packed a lot of nibbly healthy snacks for Violetta to occupy her during the flight, as well as a book with lots of flaps, a soft toy bunny, some wooden zoo animals in a tin and my iPad which I had downloaded a couple of fun children’s programmes on that didn’t require the sound to be too loud for Violetta to enjoy watching them. This was all we needed for the 2 hour flight, as by the time we took into account take off and landing, we really only had to occupy Violetta for 1.5 hours, which was easily done with snacks and games along with a little bit of screen time.

Being in our own home in Subiaco was an absolute blessing as we had everything we needed on hand and were able to be independent about food, bedtime, chill out time, etc. Sleeping in a separate room to Violetta also meant that she was able to sleep through the night and follow roughly her normal pattern (although the day she decided to lay in until 9.45 was particularly wonderful!).

While we were away Violetta was an absolute star; walking everywhere, chatting to everyone and generally fitting in with what we wanted to do. I am always quite strict about her routine and we loosely followed it while we were away – always ensuring she had her nice long nap in the afternoon and didn’t go to bed too late (although of course later than normal as that’s part of the fun of being on holiday!).

By the end of the trip our little pickle was saying hello to everyone in Italian and had developed a new self-confidence with her walking and communication.

Our mini Italian adventure has definitely given me a new level of confidence with regard to traveling with a child and I’m already planning our return visit!

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The Quest for the Perfect Work/Life Balance

entrepreneur, Lifestyle, Parenting

What do you do when you know you have it in you to do great things, affect people’s lives in a positive way through your work and build a successful company that can grow as you do, but you can’t work out how to find the hours in the day to do it?

If you know the answer to this, please help!

I chose to start a business from scratch in my early twenties, in order for it to be sustainable when I went on to have my family. I know I am capable of growing it to a fantastic place as I have done that before. I had a set back when I fell pregnant as I also fell ill. At that time things changed and I had to dramatically scale back.

Since having my daughter just over a year ago I have worked slowly but surely on the business and focused on making sure that what is on offer is exceptional quality for my clients.

So why this post? I know I can do more. I am capable of it and I am ready for it. I want to do what I used to do; I want to grow the business, I want to inspire more children to realise their passion for the arts and I want to be respected in my field for the work I do.

I am not alone, I’m sure (I imagine many other working mums feel this way too). I just can’t seem to work out how to balance everything to the best effect!

I have taken the choice not to put my 14 month old in a nursery 5 days a week as that’s not what I want for her (or me) at the moment. If you follow my Instagram account you’ll know that we have an absolute ball together and I cherish being able to be there with her so much of the time. I do have childcare 2 (sometimes 3) days a week from her lovely grandparents, but I seem to find I have to use that time for a million and one jobs on top of working and the teaching I do on those days.

So I guess what I’m wondering is; how do I do it? How do I achieve the perfect work/life balance? How do I give everything I want to to my young family while putting everything I can into my established business? How do I make the most of my natural maternal instinct while also using my intellectual capacity to achieve in the workplace? How do I juggle being the best mum, wife and company director I can be, while still having time to be a good friend and be good to myself?

The answer is I don’t yet know.

But I plan to embark on a bit of a journey of discovery as these things all mean a lot to me and as we only live once I am determined to give it my best shot.

I imagine some of this reflection has come about thanks to my imminent thirtieth birthday! Maybe soon I’ll be older and wiser! I’ll keep you posted 😉

Victoria x

No Sleep for Mummy!

Parenting

Since her first birthday, Little V has decided that sleeping at night is totally overrated.

She’s never been an amazing sleeper, but I’ve never complained about having to get up two or three times a night to resettle her for another 4-6 hour stint. It’s always been a case of a cheeky little feed and snuggle and down she goes, no fuss.

But it would appear that now she’s hit the grand old age of one, she’s turned into a little nighttime diva. She goes down ok at bedtime, after her bath, story and milk, but that’s the only good part of this story!

My little lady will then wake every 1.5-2 hours throughout the night and get herself in a total state, requiring a lot of calming, cuddles and milk to get her back to sleep. Once she’s back asleep she simply won’t be put down. Last night I spend 2.5 hours in the nursing chair with her snuggled in my lap and she spent 2 hours in my bed (from 4am, when I despaired and really needed to sleep too).

My night owl then wakes up for the day at 5/5.30 am. She doesn’t seem to understand that this wouldn’t be ok, even if she slept for ten hours straight beforehand. Let alone that on 5 hours of very broken sleep this mummy is not equipped to start the day at that time!

It’s as if the little pickle knows that I’ve upped my work commitments and am studying towards an exam and that Daddy can’t help because he’s so busy at work, so she just wants to see how little sleep a mummy really needs.

Love her to absolute pieces, but I seriously wish she’d go back to her old ways of 2/3 little stirs a night!

Is there anything I can do?!

What have you tried when your little one has a sleep regression?

I’m open to all suggestions!

One tired Mummy x

My Birth Story

Parenting

The Story of the Birth of Little V.

To begin with let me give you a little bit of context. I had a very unusual pregnancy. Due to a catalogue of pre-existing autoimmune conditions, I was placed under the high risk team at St Thomas’s Hospital in London.  Early on in the pregnancy I became very poorly and was in and out of hospital for appointments and check ups 3-5 times a week, with no clear answer as to what it was that was making me so ill.

At 21 weeks it was discovered that I had a condition called hyperparathyroidism which put mine and my baby’s lives at risk. I was immediately admitted to hospital for round the clock care and had a lifesaving operation at 25 weeks. (If you’d like to read more about this, you can find it by clicking this link.)

Following the operation I had continuous check ups a couple of times a week and was in ADU (the ante-natal daycare unit) for suspected pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes and anaemia. I also had a number of infections which had to be monitored.

So that’s the background, and nowI’m trying to decide where to begin. It’s a little bit confusing as I was in hospital 3-5 times a week for my whole pregnancy and was always going to be induced if the baby hadn’t made an appearance by my due date.

The week before I was due, I was up at hospital on Wednesday morning having my usual tests, when some of the bloods came back as showing signs of infection. It was decided (at 2am on the Thursday morning) that I would be admitted to the ante-natal ward later that day to be induced. Hubby and I headed home to get some sleep and were told to be back at the hospital at 10am on Thursday.

We arrived at the ante-natal ward, a home from home for me having spent a lot of my pregnancy there. I was familiar with all the staff and felt like I was in very safe hands with people who knew me well. At this point in time my overriding feeling was one of excitement. I was finally going to meet the little person who, against all the odds, had thrived throughout the pregnancy and was going to be joining our family imminently. Naïvely, I thought that being induced meant the baby would be there the next day at the very latest.

How wrong was I!

The first step of an induction is a pessary. This is a small, flat device that looks like a little label on a tampon string. It has to be inserted into the cervix and the idea is that it kick-starts contractions. I had been 1cm dilated for about a week and baby’s head was quite low so, ever the optimist, I thought this would be it and we’d be off.

Hubby and I had agreed that he would be staying with me throughout, as we had no idea how quickly things would happen, home was a good 40 minute drive away in normal traffic, at rush hour we had no idea how long the journey would take. He was set up in my little area with a reclining chair, a pillow and a blanket. Sillily we didn’t pack him any PJs or really consider how uncomfortable his time in hospital with me would be. We will definitely do that differently next time round.

Anyway, late that night the first pessary was inserted and we sat back and waited. When you start an induction you are hooked up to a machine that measures your contractions as well as the baby’s heartbeat. The next morning the machine was showing signs that I was having contractions every few minutes, but I couldn’t feel them and when examined I hadn’t dilated at all.
The next stage is a gel, which is in a plastic syringe and is also put into the cervix. This was when things started to happen. Within an hour of the gel being inserted, the contractions began in earnest. I was having two 4 minute contractions in ten minutes and was realising that they hurt! On examination on Friday evening I had dilated to 4cm and was told we’d give it overnight to see how far I went, whilst being checked on regularly. At this point I was in quite a lot of pain and was offered gas and air. I gave it a go, but I’ve never been one for feeling out of control or woozy and quickly rejected it in favour of paracetamol.

The pain was intensifying and I started to feel a little vulnerable. We weren’t sure whether my waters had broken (they can break just a little bit, before the full on release) and I wasn’t in control of my body – a situation I’m not too good at handling! I had a chat to the lovely midwife on duty and we agreed I’d be moved through to the delivery room. This differed from the ward as it was a room with an en-suite and a 1:1 midwife, as opposed to the ward of 4 sharing a bathroom (which someone’s other half thought it was ok to use frequently – not ideal and not really allowed!).

Throughout my pregnancy I had been looked after by the high risk midwifery team and I had got to know them really well, but none of them were available that night. As I was wheeled through to the delivery ward, I heard the ante-natal midwife say that there was an ‘over-anxious patient’ and asking who would be allocated to me. On reflection, this was more than likely to ensure I had an understanding midwife who would put me at ease. At the time, however, it felt like I was being judged and criticised and that the team were being warned about me. I was heartbroken and felt very scared, as I wasn’t sure what to do with the fear that was building up. Having had a long stay in hospital and being operated on, I had a huge fear of the unknown and any medical intervention.

The first thing that the midwife said was that it was time to put a canular in. To say I have a phobia of these would be a massive understatement, but I knew it was a necessity. What I didn’t count on was the fact that I would need a very big one inserted ‘incase I ended up in theatre’. That, for me, was the most frightening prospect and one that I hadn’t worked through properly. My fear of this was, in fact, so great that when a role play of the c-section theatre was acted out at our NCT classes, I had to leave the room and was very shaken and upset at the prospect of having to consider this an option.  All I could do was hope that it didn’t come to that. At this point it was also decided that the contractions weren’t progressing and that it was time to use the hormone drip.

The next 12 hours are quite a blur. I know that my room was changed as they couldn’t run a warm bath in the first room I was allocated. I know that I did start having some gas and air at some point. I know that I had really wanted to move around to encourage the labour, but that for some reason I didn’t.
The next morning a new shift came on and I was encouraged to have a bath. That didn’t take much pursuading – I love a bath. It was absolute heaven and total relief from the pain of the contractions (I’m sure the gas and air was also helping, although it was making me feel totally out of it). I had originally wanted a water birth and I guess this was a nod to what that would be like and has definitely made me want one next time.

Eventually, after a lot of reheating, I had to get out the bath. The rest of the story is quite a blur for me, so I’ll do my best to share the bits I know. At some point I was put on a drip as there was a concern that I was becoming dehydrated. I was drinking as much as I could, but was being sick constantly. I had 2 anti-sickness injections, neither of which worked. I was put on anti-biotics for 24 hours, I still don’t actually know why. At one point a very lovely midwife came to cover a break and had access to aromatherapy oils. That helped massively as it was a little bit of normality and comfort in what was proving to be quite a crazy journey. My waters were broken after the bath.

For the next shift, my midwife was joined by a student midwife in her final year. She was my little guardian angel. She held my hand, spoke to me when I wasn’t in the middle of a contraction and generally offered a huge amount of support. She enabled my husband to go for a lunch break without worrying about me and was so positive and kind throughout, at no time making me feel like I wasn’t justified in the way I felt (pretty helpless, out of control and in a huge amount of pain).

This was all on Saturday. By 6pm I still hadn’t fully dilated so the hormone drip was increased. At this point I could no longer cope with the pain and went from being vehemently against an Epidural (with a phobia of cannulas the thought of having one in my spine was something I couldn’t even consider), to begging the midwife to let me have one. The anaesthetist who I had met earlier in the pregnancy came along, reassured me and inserted the line.

The next midwife came on duty shortly after this and after reading as many of my notes as she could (my maternity book was like a novel by the end of the pregnancy) she was the most compassionate and understanding midwife. I started her shift with an apology for the state of me and how emotional I was, she reassured me, told me I was incredibly strong and doing such an amazing job, and generally made me feel more confident and have a little bit of belief in myself, for the first time since the ‘anxious patient’ comment the night before.

At this point, I hadn’t eaten since Thursday and was unable to keep any fluids down, I was being violently sick every hour or so and hadn’t been able to move from the bed for a long time, especially since having had the epidural (and a catheter fitted, I forgot that bit!). Finally, at about 11pm, my midwife said that I was fully dilated. We had to stop the hormone drip, wait for an hour and then it would be time to push.

I was told to rest, sleep a bit if I could, the midwife went back to reading through my notes and hubby sat in the chair and got a little shut eye too.

Fifteen minutes later I was woken up by the midwife who was asking me to roll onto my side. I couldn’t do this due to the epidural, so she had to help me. The reason for this was that my baby’s heartbeat was no longer being picked up by the monitor. After what felt like a long time but in reality can only of been a matter of seconds, the emergency alarm was pressed and the medical team rushed in. This included doctors, nurses, midwives and a postnatal crash team. To say I was frightened doesn’t touch on how I was feeling. It felt like my worst nightmares were being realised. I had heard this alarm during my stay on the ante-natal ward and hadn’t been able to get it out my mind – now it was being pressed for me.

The team were phenomenal – my legs were put in stirrups, my notes had been read (I’d requested forceps not ventouse and the Doctor in charge knew that already) and an episiotomy was performed. I was told to push, the forceps were used and my baby girl was pulled into the world. Blue and puffy with a black eye from her brutal delivery.  And then she breathed. And then she screamed. It was the biggest relief I have ever felt in my life.

I had previously opted to have the injection immediately after the baby was born to speed up the delivery of the placenta. This was done, but I don’t remember it. I remember the Doctor doing my stitches and my husband taking our baby to put her nappy on and dress her. I remember begging for my canular to be removed. I remember feeling like I was going to die and the midwife saying she shouldn’t have taken my canular out yet. I remember being given a hot chocolate (and nothing to eat because there were no gluten free biscuits or toast) and thinking it tasted so good, then throwing it straight up again, and I remember needing to sleep.

My birth story breaks my heart. It wasn’t what I wanted. I didn’t want perfect, but I didn’t think it would be so scary, overwhelming, long and out of my control. I thought I’d be cuddling my baby afterwards and not handing her straight to my husband and then not remembering the next four hours. I knew it would hurt, I knew it would be a feat of endurance and pain tolerance, I just didn’t know how much.

Here’s hoping the next one is everything this one wasn’t!

I’m sharing this because I felt so wildly under-prepared for what a birth could entail. I would prefer to go into a situation like this knowing the possibilities (and not just the standard ones that we learn about at ante-natal class) so that if they happened to me, I wouldn’t be taken by surprise. I still believe that until you go through certain experiences in your life, no amount of reading or talking can prepare you for what you will face, but I also know that with an arsenal of knowledge and possibilities in your mind, the fear is less when the situation arises.

If you have any questions about any part of my birth story, want to know more about anything I’ve mentioned or just want a chat about your birth (one you’ve had or one you will have) feel free to get in touch.

Here’s the happy ending to the craziest year of my life:

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