New blog!

As promised, there’s a new blog for motherhood stuff.

You can find it here: http://thegeriatricmother.wordpress.com/2012/05/25/a-quick-intro/

Hope you enjoy it

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This is how it ends… and starts

So this blog had to have an end. I will join the ranks of parent bloggers out there but I will set up a separate blog for it. In the meantime, this is how it ends.

With the date set for induction on the Sunday, I’d resigned myself. And then woke on Friday morning at 4am to what was unmistakably a contraction.

The advice I’d been given for labour boiled down to: relax. One friend advised not thinking, letting my body dictate and trusting myself. Not stressing. So I lay there, no point waking the hubby at this stage; the contractions were uncomfortable but not painful yet. What no-one tells you about early onset labour is how much it makes you fart. Not surprising when you think about it – your insides are being squeezed – but still. So it was best he wasn’t awake. Or he may have stayed asleep due to the gases…

By lunchtime we were told to go into hospital to be checked out. And then came home again – though not before a spot of birdwatching at the hospital: 2 red legged partridges and a heron being chased by a crow. Back to relax.

I took a bath and lay down to watch the cricket. As Andrew Strauss made 50 runs the contractions got a lot stronger. We were admitted at 5pm – a wristband made it official. 13 hours in and counting.

I started taking gas and air – it makes you feel drunk. I can’t remember the last time I was drunk, a while, obviously, but joked that with this feeling and the wristband, so far it was like Glastonbury. That was about to change.

They ran the birth pool for me and it was lovely. I Am Kloot, Elbow, Sarabeth Tucek and others on the CD playlist I’d made; low lighting; warm water… drifting off…

Vomit. Inevitable.

I said in an earlier post that I didn’t want to write about poo in the bath didn’t I? Oh well.

There I was standing in a pool of it. Not mine – the baby was discharging meconium. The birth plan was scrapped – we both had to be monitored which meant strapping me to a bed with sensors on my belly.

The rest of the process is a little blurry to me. These things I remember. Our midwife – Caroline – was fantastic and stayed with us all the time, calling in support as and when. I stuck to the gas and air, gnawing at the mouthpiece at times, and my husband stuck to me, tending all my calls for water, holding my hand and talking to me. At some point the pain was too much and I asked for diamorphine. They wouldn’t give it to me. “It might impede your progress – we’re still monitoring her but we don’t want to be sadistic so have paracetamol and codeine instead. You’ll feel pain but won’t mind it so much.”

Uh-huh.

Later, she improved and I was allowed the diamorphine. My overriding thought was how difficult it was to keep my eyes open. In fact, that’s my main memory – worrying about not being able to see my husband, only to feel him or hear him. I didn’t remember details of other things until a couple of days later – the catheters, the episiotomy, the anaesthetic, the numbers of people telling me how good I was at pushing – these things came back afterwards. At the time I must have thought I knew what was going on but frankly I didn’t.

She was sideways and wouldn’t turn round to come out easily so had to be born by ventouse – a suction cap on the head which my husband described as “industrial looking”. I didn’t see it – probably just as well. The midwife’s first words as the head came out apparently were: “look how big it is!” And once that was out, she didn’t stop.

It wasn’t a bad labour – many women go through worse, I know that. My husband told me I was brave but I didn’t feel it. You know that in order to end it you have to finish the job and there’s no alternative. You just have to get on with it. It sounds terrible but my main thoughts during it all were of, and for, him – I kept thanking him for being there and telling how glad I was that we were together.

So now she’s here. And this pregnancy blog must end. There will be more but as I say, they’ll be on a separate page – details will follow. I hope this has been as interesting to read as it was for me to write – thanks to all of you who have commented and contributed thoughts. This is how it ends.

And this is also how it starts.

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Midwife-sanctioned lovin’

A week after the due date and the midwife comes round to talk to me about induction and to offer a membrane sweep. She arrives with a second midwife who is shadowing her for community work (and who, weirdly, has never seen maternity notes before…). They sit in my dining room, make me laugh while taking my blood pressure so have to do it twice and then the shadowee talks me through the induction process. They leave a leaflet with all the details on – the closing paragraph reads “Induced labour is often more painful than natural labour…”

The midwife and I go upstairs for the sweep. I have been recently finding the baby really heavy, especially when turning over in bed and, as much as I’m enjoying time off work, it does feel like a waste of maternity leave not to have a baby. Plus I got two emails today from baby clubs celebrating Week 1 of my new baby. Clearly it’s not their fault and both emails contain disclaimers but it’s still really galling to read the subject matter when I check my email. So all in all I’m pretty keen on doing anything to speed stuff up.

It’s not as uncomfortable as you’d imagine, to be honest, though I did start wondering how terrifying it would be to be training as a midwife and have to do this for the first time. Take your mind off it and all that. But no luck. My cervix is not in quite the right place so she couldn’t reach far enough to get her finger in very well. She did confirm that the cervix has started to prepare itself for birth but she didn’t seem very optimistic about how much longer it would be. She could also feel the baby’s head which is as low as it can get without coming out.

Back downstairs they confirmed that they’ve booked me into the hospital on Sunday for induction and told me what to do on the day. And then they prepared to leave. The midwife said “keep on doing what you’re doing – walks and stuff.” The trainee turned to me and said “Sex! That’s the thing you need! Nice to meet you!” and they left.

I feel a bit of a failure to be honest. I’ve spent the afternoon feeling useless and weepy. And the baby has decided this afternoon is when she will move about the most, rubbing it in about how comfy she is in there. I am soothing my troubled hopeless mood with hot chocolate pudding and, despite pooh-poohing the old wives’ tales, considering anything in an increasingly desperate state. Though I guess midwife-sanctioned sex is a nice place to start.

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Waiting… D-Day + 5

I’ve never been good at waiting. I’m never late and get very annoyed by people who are. I know it’s different with babies as she doesn’t know when she’s supposed to come out, after all, but come on… I’d imagine for women who enjoy pregnancy this bit is difficult; for those of us who’ve hated it, it’s a nightmare. As I’ve been subconsciously thinking there was the possibility of her being early even while acknowledging that many first babies are late, I’ve been pretty much expecting labour for 3 1/2 weeks now.

So off to the midwife this week for a standard check up. All is well except that I’m still pregnant.

“Do you feel it’s gone quickly?” the midwife asks and laughs when I reply that it feels like it’s been forever. But it does – morning sickness feels a long way away, let alone a non-pregnant state.

Friends and family have been calling, emailing or messaging more than usual. I get concerned about calling either set of parents away from the usual times in case we get them all excited for no reason.

And everyone’s suggesting old wives’ tales as a way of helping her along. I’m ignoring most of them – I can’t imagine eating an entire pineapple while having sex and acupuncture will actually make a difference, although it would be a challenge I suppose.

Aside from those, I have been trying to prepare for labour and an active birth by walking a lot and massaging my perineum (it’s supposed to help prevent tearing). I won’t go into details about the second item but let me say this: the instructions on how to do it don’t take into account how hard it is to insert digits where they’re needed when you’ve a bloody great bump in the way.

Walking has helped though. We’ve been to National Trust places and nature reserves and round parks and cemeteries and who knows where this week. The baby finally moved down into position on Thursday. My husband was delighted to see how it affected my walking and announced my waddling style to all in the supermarket. The sod.

And it does feel like other things are happening too – I’ve been dizzy and nauseous for periods of time, presumably from the hormones, so something’s going on. But still nothing.

On Tuesday, a week after the due date, a midwife will visit to do a membrane sweep. A friend reliably informs me it’s less like a sweep and more like a rummage. But let’s hope it does something – I don’t think my feeble bones can handle much more of heaving this lump around.

It may not be my normal midwife though, which bothers me a little bit. It’s silly really, of course they have a rota for stuff like this, and they’ve all been very nice so far, but her manner suits me more than the others so if someone’s got to rummage around up there, I’d rather it was her. Can’t be helped.

I did say I wouldn’t complain if the sun shone didn’t I? Oh dear.

I now need to mentally prepare myself for the possibility of this lasting another week.

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Lucy Jordan and the biological clock

I am very nearly the same age as Lucy Jordan when she “bowed a curtsey to the night”. I too, will never drive through Paris with the warm wind in my hair.*

I mention this as a friend, several months younger than me, is having concerns. She wants to pursue her career and to travel more but she is recently married and also wants to have a baby. Her main concern seems to be feeling secure enough to have the baby while simultaneously being worried about feeling trapped and restricting her from doing what she wants.

We both went to a girls’ grammar school which spent quite some time building up our expectations of what we could achieve in life – huge aspirations were the norm even if we were unable to articulate exactly what those were. Even for someone like me, who had very little idea of what career I wanted to pursue, it was accepted that I would go to university and that something brilliant would appear to me. The one person in our year who didn’t want to go to university got all sorts of pressure to change her mind. (She didn’t – good on her)

I imagine that most of us from school (I hardly keep in touch with any of them so I don’t know) are pursuing noble, useful, worthy professions like teaching, civil service, local government and so on. Nothing wrong with any of those, except they don’t strike me as the kind of thing our teachers were telling us we could achieve.

So where do babies fit into this? For our teachers, of course, they didn’t. Career paths were mapped out, families didn’t fit in or maybe they assumed that we’d work that bit out without help. For my friend it’s perhaps more of a dilemma than for me – she has a career, I have a job. I’m quite happy to take time off to have a baby. It won’t have much of an impact on my career, as it does for so many women, because I don’t really have any prospects in my current role. A new job is where the prospects will lie and that will have to wait for a little while till I get the hang of being a mum. But for her, there’s a risk in having a baby – her career may well be affected.

The worst thing about hitting your mid-thirties is the dreaded biological clock. There is a time limit to having babies and we’re up against it. And how I hate it – the phrase, the pressure, the added health worries, everything. I had a phase last year where I sat in self loathing, looking back at my teens and twenties, feeling like I’d wasted all that time by not doing more with it. I got over this eventually but not before seriously contemplating going to the doctor’s and talking about possible depression. But I think these things are related – the worries about wasting time and being trapped by a baby are real, even to career-less types, and therefore more to women who have real prospects.

A recent survey found that many young women were actively looking to have babies and be stay-at-home mums as a lifestyle choice because having a job was dull or that they worried about the “having it all” attitude that encompasses women today. I find this pretty depressing. It sums up a lot of modern society for me and not in a good way. For obvious reasons work is one of the most important things to us in today’s society yet there seem to be few people who actively enjoy work – it’s supposed to be dull and we’re supposed to just get on with it. Productivity is the most important thing – bank holidays are criticised for losing the economy money as we take a day off work, unemployed people are vilified in the press and by politicians for being scroungers, despite the economic climate and so on.

And what about men? Surely there are as many men out there who’d love to take time off work to be with their families but don’t feel that they can. Once again, I don’t have any answers, I’m just lamenting how unimaginative we’ve become – seemingly trapped in these roles and too scared to find any creative solutions. Is this a developed society or have we just been lulled by dull jobs, TV and consumer culture into finding no other way to live? In the meantime, women who are too young to know the lessons of Lucy Jordan see her trap as a desirable outcome for themselves.

* For those asking, it’s a Marianne Faithfull song – look it up! Feminism IS relevant!

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D Day

It’s the due date today. Statistics tell you that only 3, 5 or 11% of babies are born on the due date (yet again, the stats are a little mixed…) so you shouldn’t really get your hopes up but it’s hard having something to focus on that then doesn’t happen. And it seems highly unlikely that she will arrive today. So unlikely that we are about to head out on a day trip and meal.

I’m really impatient now. It’s got more to do with almost constant uncomfortable-ness than any maternal longing to meet the baby. Perhaps I should be longing to meet her but frankly, it would be easier to long if my back wasn’t aching and my pelvis didn’t feel like it was about to crack in two.

We have a midwife appointment on Friday but they’re not allowed to do anything to help speed things up till a week after the due date so it will be a normal check up. Unless the seemingly impossible happens and she decides to come along before then. I think it’s going to be another week.

There is nothing I can do about this but it doesn’t stop it being frustrating anyway. Of course, it’s the fact that there’s nothing I can do that’s the most frustrating thing about it all. The fabled recommendations don’t really do anything – it’s just something comforting that people tell you. You need several gallons of raspberry leaf tea each day or curry so spicy it makes your stomach violently contract. Perhaps it’s just me, but the idea of eating something that may mess with your body so close to a time when I will be straining to expel the baby just doesn’t strike me as a good idea, even if I could manage food that spicy which I can’t.

So in the meantime I’m trying to keep busy – lots of projects, things to make for the baby, writing, research and lots of walking. It would be a lot easier to wait if the weather was a leetle warmer though, could I make some kind of pact with the weather gods? I won’t complain but please send the sun!

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Sums up all I’ve been worried about…

parentingbytheseatofmypants

Right, this princess shit has to end and it has to end right fucking now.

I follow the fantastic PinkStinks blog because I think they do great work on trying to smash gender stereotypes and alert parents to the widening gender divide between boys and girls. The blog is well worth a look if you haven’t seen it and the two sisters that started it are fabulous.

PinkStinks posted a link to an article on the kidzworld.com website (note to self, anytime a “z” replaces an “s” in a word, you are going to see something zhitty,) called “15 Ways To Be A Modern-day Princess.”  The article , written by the actor and singer Julie Andrews and her daughter and writing partner Emma, was in celebration of “National Princess Week” and sponsored by Target and Walt Disney.

The whole thing is fucking rotten. There is virtually  nothing valuable in it…

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