Labour – Part Two

So, now we were at hospital and we made our way slowly up to the birth centre. A midwife(maybe – I didn’t know at this point who was who) let us in and we were asked to sit and wait for a while. It seemed like an eternity but was probably 20-30 minutes before someone came to get us and took us to a side room. There my wife was assessed by the on-duty midwife whilst I tried to help make her comfortable and get through the next while.

This room was a normal room as far as I recall. No fancy birthing bed and no pool, either. The midwife did her checks and my wife was 5 cm dilated. So yay, we didn’t need to go back home and labour was properly established. This relived me massively. I believed we would be given the delta between contractions but I still worried we’d be sent back as we weren’t far enough along. By now it had started in my head, and the car journey was such a hassle for my wife that I really don’t think I could have taken a knock-back!

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Castor oil. Can help induce labour but really it’s here because Google wasn’t helping my ‘icky birth’ search and this looked cool

I made the room as comfortable as I could. I put on some hypnobirthing background music, I got some food ready and some drinks. I was helping my wife stand, sit, lie as she wanted (mainly the former two – lying was bad as that would not help the labour now would it? Gravity is your friend…). I was doing as much as I could think of too help, and responding immediately to her needs. She was focused on labour; I was focused on making that as comfortable as I could.

My wife mentioned to the midwife that she had wanted a pool. So this was going to be setup for us, and would take a while. In the meantime we stayed where we were and periodically upped the Tens machine, did various hypnobirthing exercises and let the midwife check us from time to time. In a couple of hours we moved to 6 cm dilation. Not the pace we’d hoped for but still good progress.

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Yep, a birthing pool. Move along…

As part of this labour started to get real. I don’t want to go into details nor do I need to. But being a very intense biological event it puts stress on the human body. I knew this. I had accepted it. My advice to any man is accept, expect and deal. It’s reality and part of the birth of your child. It is not icky, scary or anything else. You need to be there for your wife/partner. Get over it ahead of time, or straight away. You frankly do not matter. If you pass out and fall over? That’s where you’ll stay. And you’ll be no help to the Mum nor will you see the birth. Pull yourself together, man.

The Tens machine’s limitations were starting to show. Gas and air was requested and provided. I avoided trying any which must be the first time in the history of man that the male birth partner has not partaken. To be fair even had I wanted to (I was focused on helping, not getting air-drunk thanks very much) there wouldn’t have been much time. Contractions were between 2 and 3 minutes and that gaseous cocktail was needed elsewhere…

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Believe it or not my search term for this was ‘midwife dilation’. The mind boggles.

At that moment, around 7, the pool was ready and we moved rooms. I gathered what I could and the midwives/assistants helped with the rest. Oh, and my pregnant wife of course! I think the birthing pool, and what I guess is act III of our labour can come in a third post…

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Paternity leave ends today

Wow. That went so fast. Today my little girl is two week’s old. And tomorrow, I go back to work. That’s rather rubbish.

My life has been turned upside down by this whirlwind little girl. It’s been exciting, hard, happy and sad. Bonding is still in progress but I find myself doing things I didn’t expect to and going back to work takes my wind out.

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Ahem.

I think back to that wonderful day, just two weeks ago. I got to cut the cord. I saw my baby come out into the world all grey and pink and covered in stuff and I asked whether she was a boy or a girl and I was invited to take a look. I did, hurriedly, thought I worked it out and told my wife. Her exclamation of ‘we have a daughter’ in a overly happy, hushed tone betraying her exhaustion was magical.

At that point my wife got to hold our little girl for a short while before being taken to theatre. In this time our little one showed the world she was able to do her business all over Mummy, and then she was mine for the next hour or so until Mum was ok to hold her once more. I had no idea what I was doing. I have little more now.

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If I must.

I hold her, I pick her up, I twist her around and I don’t know if I’m doing it right. I’m trying though. Trying to do the best for my daughter.

Now, back to work – leaving Mummy and child to look after each other during the day. We’ll see how that goes! I look forward to the evenings, and nights, no matter how hard.

It’s been a while…

I know, I’m sorry. I haven’t posted here for a long time. Various reasons for it, but no excuses. Last time I posted we were on holiday. I say holiday, it was m ore a militaristic exercise in getting stuff done. Largely in prep for baby-time. Anyway, back to work tired me out no end. Get used to it I guess – but still. Then I didn’t really have anything to say and then stuff at home got real and that needed focus. It still dos but I have some time to give a quick idea about what we’ve been up to.

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I keep pointing this out…

Lots, frankly. We now have an unopened car seat and travel system. We have a painted nursery and two new cars. We have new doors and they’re unpainted for all kinds of reasons I can’t get into. We’ve started antenatal classes and we’re 35 weeks’ pregnant today. We’ve annoyed the grandparents and made them happy. We’ve seen our close friends give birth to a boy – not literally you realise. My wife’s on holiday ahead of her maternity leave. Baby is more active than a fidget-monster (takes after Dad there) and I read to baby really rather regularly. We’ve been on a proper holiday, for 3 days, which was lovely. My wife now has a cold and with the heat she is not doing well. I’m cooking the best food I can and she’s eating whatever she can.  I did surprise my wife too by knowing what a mucous plug was at the antenatal class…(amazingly and chucklesomely I knew this thanks to a football forum!).

Can I just say here my wife is awesome? She’s amazing. She sits there worrying about what she hasn’t done as opposed to everything she has done, along with all the grief her body and the cold is giving her. Amazing.

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Well, if it happens, it’s not my fault!!!

We have nightlights and we’re using them in readiness. I’ve asked my boss how the whole ‘baby’s coming – bye!’ thing works. I’m making contingencies in case I’m not at work to do key things I’m responsible for. I’m excited, slightly wary and waiting for the fear to kick in. Doesn’t matter mind, as a day or two working through it all and survival mode will activate. Sorted.

There must be more but frankly life is busy. But you know what? If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you might miss it. This is one of those moments, if fleeting. It’s pretty cool.

Baby Preparation: Exhausting!

So today we got up early to drive to Westfield shopping centre in London for a Mamas & Papas parents to be event. A two-hour slot in which we would hear talks on various topics and have the undivided attention of the staff to help us get over the hump of all our parenting questions. Or so it was sold to us. In reality it was helpful overall, but very much a mixed bag.

The drive there wasn’t wonderful to be fair. Westfield is expanding significantly, such that the usual way into the car park was closed. We knew this and expected diversion signs / help to get to the current entrance. The diversion signage was just about the worst ever. Each time we had options the signs confused us. An example: Diversion – Westfield car park to the left. OK we thought. 50 yards down the road was another diversion sign though. Left lane commercial vehicles; right lane other vehicles – both for Westfield. OK, straight on. But that took us past the car park and away from Westfield meaning we had to find a way back around and start again. Every sign before and after relating to the diversion was equally confusing. Still, we got there in the end.

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Well, all the leaves are brown of course

We needn’t have worried. Mamas & Papas staff hadn’t turned up, or at least six hadn’t. They all arrived by around 10:06 when the shop had been due to open at 10. As it opened we were given event information by a kind staff member, it’s just she had no knowledge of what was going on that day. Awesome. We got a goodie bag though. And then started the looking around and the talks.

We were there to get more car seat and travel system information and to look at cot beds as well as chests of drawers with changing stations. The car seat and travel system stuff was helpful, in addition to our two-hour session at John Lewis last week (which was intense but amazingly helpful – the fact you can sign up for a free two-hour personal information session is amazing. For car seats and travel systems I cannot recommend it highly enough), giving us a very clear idea of what we want and need.

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John Lewis used penguins in their Christmas commercial a few years’ back. This is a penguin we know very well.

Seeing the furniture was helpful too if only to see that the one we liked the look of was rather flimsy. Whether this was because it was poorly put together or just well-worn as a demo was unclear. We asked but no-one was quite sure. It’s put us off that for now though – we’ll look elsewhere and then make a call.

I’m sure more happened. But this, plus a coffee break and then lunch took us all the way to 2.30 PM and it was time to home and give my wife some well-earned rest.

Oh baby, the places you’ll go!

Last night I read to our baby for the very first time. This was amazingly awesome. We haven’t yet met our baby but I was still reading to he or she. I hadn’t known this was a thing before, but I’m glad now that I do.

I think I even impressed Mummy as I was able to sight-read the book first time without error, and even some actual inflexion in my voice where required, despite having not read it before ever, at all. Go me – yay!

I would recommend it to all Dads to be. It’s great fun. I plan on doing it quite a bit more.

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This is Horton. He hears a who.

Travelling with work

You know what’s kinda awesome when you’re younger? Travelling with work. It’s exciting, isn’t it? You get to go to places you haven’t been, that you love going to or that you think could be awesome. The reality is often that you fly in, sit in an office and fly out, but even with that you probably get a nice meal and/or drinks at the airport on your company.

As you get older you might still appreciate this. One thing which makes the excitement rather less though is having to travel when your pregnant wife is left behind.

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It was not like this I assure you

I went to the US on Monday and got back this Friday. The trip was productive and totally worth it from a work POV, despite the fact that two days’ travelling (it was the mid-US so had connections and stuff) was incredibly hard work (and on Saturday morning still is, although I feel much more normal than 24 hrs ago!). But I had to leave my wife behind. I just wanted to be with her, and our baby. Helping to look after her – especially in this heat. It was quite rubbish.

My job requires some travel. Many do. This is fine. But I want to keep that to a minimum. I want to be with my pregnant wife now, and my wife and child in the future.

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Hopefully this was my wife’s point of view whilst I was away!

Time to buy some baby stuff

Starting with the car seat! Tomorrow my wife and I have an appointment at John Lewis to spend 2 hours talking car seats. We need it. My number one baby prep priority is this. I want to get my wife and child home safely as soon as possible. For that I need a car seat. I spent a weekend researching them as detailed here, but tomorrow we do some ‘in the flesh’ work.

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This looks a decent foundation

It’s hard, isn’t it? One hard thing is knowing what you need. I think we’re getting around that. Car seat, pram/travel system, somewhere to sleep and a changing centre. Bosh. Everything else is gravy, right? We’ve just been offered a Moses basket from a colleague of my wife, very kindly. All we need is a new mattress.

I’m excited to get stuff. In a week or so (once I’m back from a work trip to he US) we have other appointments with Mamas and Papas, and Mothercare. We’d hope from those to either buy some bigger stuff, and/or know what we NEED (and want) overall. Awesome.

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Or maybe this? Honestly I’ve not really looked at them…but they seemed an appropriate image to pick.

We probably need to think about names now…AND TOYS!!!

Hypnobirthing, or how I learned to stop worrying and love the birth

Really I’m not sure how much I had thought about the birth yet, let alone worry about it, but I always seem to write titles analogous to Dr. Strangelove. Some might say I can’t fight in here because this is the war room but hey, you know.

I digress. What I really wanted to talk about is the day my wife and I had yesterday. We were in a Hypnobirthing class ran by Mindful Mamas. It was a really good day, providing useful information, tools and support as we look towards the birth of our baby and how to make it as great an experience as possible, rather than the horrible one we’re conditioned to expect by British society.

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Honestly hypnobirthing is nothing like what this chap does!

As a man I’ve spent my life knowing very little about the actuality of birth. What I do know is what I’ve gleaned from very British people talking about it (oooh it’s so painful, and lasts ages and the only reason you have another is because you forget what it was like) and TV or film. It seems that whilst all of this can happen, it doesn’t need to happen. Birth can be swift, pleasent, amazing and anywhere in-between. The key is to help yourselves get it as far as possible to the good side of the spectrum. We can’t predict what will happen but we can prepare to achieve what we want.

That’s where hypnobirthing comes in. It’s not sciencey mumbo jumbo. It’s not all about being hypnotised. It’s just a mindset, some tools and help and support to get you through the big day and beyond. It is based on actual science though.

Birth can be split into four stages:

  1. Opening / Transition
  2. Pushing / Crowning
  3. Placenta
  4. Babymoon

The first part if the long and slow part, and the part where all the contractions are felt. The transition is the point at which most Mums seek out that epidural, or decide they’re off. It’s all to do with hormones unsurprisingly. But, before that, part 1 is all about Oxytocin versus Adrenaline. You want the former and not the latter. The former will make you feel happier, physically better and so on. How do we drive the production of that and hinder adrenaline? By focusing and relaxing. It’s not easy, but that’s where the tools come in.

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Simple really – use the techniques to remain calm and relaxed, feel the oxy flow and enjoy!

Really they are just ways of relaxing – perhaps by deep breathing, or by conditioning certain items, sounds and so on to remind you of good times. I won’t go into detail but one or more of the techniques will work for your partner and therein lies the path to success.

This all feels like a self-help blog post doesn’t it? Pah. The point is hypnobirthing is easy to do. It will help. It might not solve everything but it will definitely lead to a better birth. From my point of view I can see how I can help my wife here and also a little more knowledge is now present about the day itself, and what I can do. I encourage everyone to go on a course, or read the book here. My wife and I are much more relaxed about birth now, and at the very least – if we had taken nothing else away from yesterday – it was great to hear stories about good births and how it doesn’t have to be horrible.

Car Seats: Rather Complicated!

I have been reading about car seats over the past few days. This is my personal number one priority given we have passed V-day and were our baby to arrive we wouldn’t be allowed home without a car seat. It’s really rather complicated though, thanks to all the myriad options, ever-changing regulations and possibility of using it as part of a travel system.
Here’s a precis of what I have learnt to save you doing so, but with some links if you want to read more:
  • Group 0+ takes you from birth to 13Kg / 15 months.
  • After that we would need a second car seat – you can get one to cover group 0-1 (age 4), but this is heavier of course, not so good for travel systems and probably not great comfort for a tiny baby.
  • Lie-flat car seats exist, and are better for the child. You can keep the child in that for as long as you like, as effectively it’s the same as being in a cot (babies need to lie flat to promote development and ensure proper breathing).
  • All car seats are heavy! But there are lighter ones…
  • Isofix connectivity and/or seatbelts are how you fix a seat to a car.
  • Often an isofix base is an additional expense.
  • Currently all children up to 9 Kg must be rear-facing; rear-facing is recommended for as long as possible. i-size ensures rear-facing until 13 Kg / 15 months, but as mentioned a group 0+ seat takes you this far anyway.
  • Any car seat will have limitations as to which travel system it fits.

 

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This looks immense but is it safe?

Here are some links to read more about the above:
—————————————————————————-
I have looked at a few and listed below are ones which appeal to me, why they appeal and why they might not. I’ll provide the main review link I was using:
Very common brand and therefore well-known performance, and I believe more choices of travel system. Weighs 4.5 Kg though which is top-end. Not lie-flat.
Extra safety protection on the sides. 4.2 Kg. Multiple travel system options. Not lie-flat.
A Group 0 – 1 seat! It’s been rated a test winner by Stiwa in Germany so we know it’s well-regarded from safety POV. Swivels so you can more easily put baby in the seat in car. Stays in car though – not usable as a carry cot type thing, i.e. not part of a travel system.
Very light! 3.3 Kg. Combines with same company’s travel systems (I think), but again they do a light system (7.6 Kg). Not lie-flat.
i-size. Lie-flat. Heavy – 4.9 Kg, and big.
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Choose your car seat first – perhaps with travel systems in mind – then finalise your travel system choice.

Some parting thoughts:
Safety is paramount but all of these, and others are very safe. You (and us right now) need then to think about what’s important – weight, lying flat, travel system flexibility.

A Separated Future?

Today the world awoke to learn that The united Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland has voted to leave the EU, with a 51.9 to 48.1% majority.

My wife and I, plus many of our friends and family have been trying to get our heads around this news and the many ramifications that might come from it. Some things have started already – my particular favourites being the drop in sterling, the drop in share prices and the various Leave voters explaining how they didn’t think their vote would have an impact and now they regret it and are fearful for their futures. Oh, and Cornwall demanding the UK government matches the current subsidy they get from the EU, which they voted to leave.

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Our future PM? This is the man we must hope can lead the post-EU plan and help make the best ever from the situation we’re in

What’s a little more pertinent is the fact that later this year, all being well, our child will be born into this country and this country is accelerating towards its inexorable fall from great empire to insignificant island.

However, that’s not a very productive way of looking at it, is it? I mean, yes, so much looks like it will go bad. But I want our child to have all the good. So let’s take a little time to get over this, then watch our political leaders swap around. Let’s watch strong leaders take their place at the top of the tree and let’s listen to their plans and let them know what’s good and not so good. Let’s make the most of the hand we’ve been dealt by yesterday’s vote and make the most of it. Let’s make the future the best it can be. For us, and our children. We might be separated from the future Unites States of Europe but we might be able to retain some of the greatness we have had. Or we can move to Iceland.

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See, Iceland it is!