Twenty Six Point Two

My Marathon 👟 London 2017.

I’m not a runner.

At school I used to hate PE, I used to forge notes from my parents with excuses about ‘bad period pains’ to get out of sports lessons.

In my 20s I discovered running – I was bad at first, really bad! I couldn’t run for 30 seconds, but I persevered. I built up a little at a time, until it stopped being hard, and became enjoyable.

Then I had two kids – bye bye fitness.

I decided to start running again in August 2016, when Hattie had just turned two. It was suddenly much harder. I was always tired, I was really unfit, I struggled to find time. It was disheartening to run just 1km and have to stop several times. 

I signed up to run the Virgin Money London Marathon in October 2016. 

I’m a member of a Facebook group called ‘Run Mummy Run’ (RMR), and all the girls who’d applied for ballet places were finding out if they’d been accepted. There was a buzz of excitement in the group. Caught up in the passion of my fellow running mummies, I had a look to see if charity places were available for the Tuberous Sclerosis Association, as Emi has this rare genetic disease. I signed up in a moment of madness, never thinking I’d get a place – I’d only started running again after having children in August 2016, and was only up to 7km.

Two weeks later I got an email saying I’d been accepted – shit!

I started training straight away, and created a 6 month training plan for myself. On Christmas Eve I ran my first half marathon, by the end of Jan I was up to 17 miles.

Training was a bit of a roller coaster of emotions. Some days were easy, the runs were effortless and the miles flew past. Some runs were tough – really tough! I started to realise that long runs are about will power much more than fitness, it’s so easy to just stop and go home, or to walk. Carrying on is a battle of wills rather than fitness – if my mind was willing, my legs would follow. 

I started using Pinterest to save motivational phrases, and used these on my long runs when things got tough. My favourite was “Sky above me, Earth below me, Fire within me”. 

I pictured a flame inside me, and when I felt my resolve fading, I used it to push my negative emotions and doubt away. It didn’t always work. Some runs the darkness won, I stopped, I cried, I walked home.

But the more I ran, the stronger my little flame became. 

 The week after my 17 mile run, the first week in February, injury struck! My right leg – the infamous ITBS  (ileotibial band syndrome- also known as ‘runners knee’) 😣. 

I rested, saw a physio but the pain was still there and I couldn’t go further than about 5 miles. I then visited my friend who’s a sports physio who did some ‘cupping’ and showed me how to use KT tape – it worked, hoorah!

I’d lost 5 weeks of training though, so I had to build back up. I managed to get back up to 20 miles pain free – woo hoo!

It seemed apt that the theme for these years marathon was #reasontorun. My reason was Emi, her strength and her courage. She is my superhero. She was diagnosed with Tuberous Sclerosis Complex at just 4 months old when she started having seizures. She doesn’t let this condition impact her in the slightest.

As she loves superheroes, I told her if I raised my £2000 charity target, she could choose my running outfit. She chose batman – her favourite superhero! 

23rd April 2017:

Marathon Day arrived – I was a bag of nerves.  By right knee was meticulously taped up, I was loaded with carbs and fluids. I was terrified.

I arrived at the red start, and chatted to a few RMR girls in the toilet queue. We then made our way to pen 9. 

The race started, but I didn’t get to the start until 10:33. I started my Garmin and I was off.
The weeks of doubt faded away, my legs just took over and I powered forward – my little flame was strong! I kept speeding up, so forced myself to slow to 12 min miles. 

A lot of people start races too fast and burn out. My mantra was “In the first half don’t be an idiot, in the second half don’t be a wimp!”

My plan was to start slow and steady, then build up the pace after mile 18 to do negative splits and hopefully get to the finish at around 5:30. During endurance runs you naturally start to slow down as fatigue kicks in. Negative splits means that you actually force yourself to speed up towards the end so that your pace per mile is faster. 

The crowds were AMAZING, people were cheering my name, and cheering batlady, batgirl and batmummy! I got cheers and shouted outs from other RMR girls, and shouted “Run Mummy Run!” every time I saw spotty socks, a a sparkly skirt or a tattoo. I got to 5 miles at exactly 60 mins and felt amazing. My pace was perfect, my body felt strong and my flame felt bright! 

At mile 10 my left knee started to hurt. 100s of training miles and my left knee had never ever hurt! 😣 The pain felt scarily familiar – it was just like ITBS.
I kept going to St John’s ambulance at mile 11. I waved a volunteer down and they took me off to her course to check me out. The first aider wanted a doctor to see me, so I sat and waited about 15 minutes. I checked my phone and was amazed by the number of people who were tracking me and I was on the verge of tears. The doctor arrived and confirmed it was probably ITBS. He said there was nothing he could do mid race. He told me there was no shame in bowing out due to injury.
I sat, had a good hard think, and made a decision – then burst into tears. 

A lovely first aid lady came up to me and asked if I was upset because I was pulling out of the race, and I explained I was upset because I was going to carry on, and it was going to hurt. She gave me a hug and said “Go on Gal!”
I limped back to the track, took a few deep breaths and set off again. It hurt to walk, and run, so I thought I may as well run. I’d lost 10 mins in a toilet queue, and 20 mins at St John’s ambulance. I was way behind my target, but I started running again. It hurt, but I could bare it, just.
I looked down again to my Garmin for pace – 17 min miles, this was not good. I was actually running slower than some of the walkers. I kept going, gritting my teeth through the pain and limp-running onwards. I started to count down to the next 5km markers as I knew these would help update my tracking markers  – knowing people at home were following kept me going.
I got to Tower Bridge – the crowds were amazing. They could see I was limping and screamed my name to keep me going. Tears ran down my face. I then hit the runners coming the other way – this was hard! It made me realise how far I’d still got to go. I put my music on and tried not to look at them. 
13.2 arrived, half way. The pain was still there, but it wasn’t getting worse – I kept going.
The Isle of Dogs was hard. I could feel my little flame getting smaller and smaller as darkness and doubt started to creep in. The mile markers seemed so far apart. I saw Andrew at mile 16 which gave me a massive boost, after a teary hug I carried on.

I knew the RMR Cheer Point was at 19 so I aimed for that. I saw Andrew at 18 and a lovely lady screamed “Run Mummy Run!”
I rounded a corner just before mile 19 and the RMR cheer squad were there! They all screamed my name and cheered! I sprinted over to them and fell into the arms of a wonderful lady, sobbing and snotting all over her. They were amazing! 

They gave me some orange and sent me on my way. My flame was burning bright again. I’d done two thirds – I could finish! 

Then came the underpass. It was dark, cold, quiet and almost deserted. I’d been running for over 6 hours. Fear, pain and fatigue caught up with me. My little light spluttered in futility and died. I stopped dead. I couldn’t think how to make my legs move. Tears ran down my face and I felt lost.

A lovely RMR lady in spotty socks shuffled up to me and told me to keep going. 
I drew every last bit of strength and will power, thinking about why I was running. I pictured my beautiful girls following my progress, I pictured my family and friends tracking me.

I put one shaky leg in front of the other, and pushed forward. My little flame spluttered back to life. I was going to get that medal if it killed me! 
I was painfully slow – 18 min miles and still running! I got overtaken by Mr blobby and some rhinos. 
I emerged from the tunnel onto the embankment where the bright sunshine and the roar of the crowds hit me! 
Mile 24 –  I saw Andrew trying to run alongside me through the crowds. 
Mile 25 – I gritted my teeth so hard my face hurt and I picked up the pace. My entire left leg was screaming in pain.

Suddenly Buckingham Palace was in front of me, then I saw a big red sign – 200 meters to go. 

I drew on strength and determination that I didn’t know I had, and I actually growled as I threw everything forward! 

Suddenly my little flame burst into an almighty roaring fire. I sprinted with everything I had left – I overtook the rhino and Mr blobby and powered to the finish! 

I stumbled over the finish mat and stood there for and few seconds. My knee was agony. I felt my leg beginning to give way and thought was going to fall – but then a man put a meddle around my neck! It was cold and suprisingly heavy. I burst into tears and hugged him!
It hurt so much. It took everything I had, and strength I didn’t know existed.

I’m so glad I kept going. It would have been amazing to see what time I could have got without an injury, but I have no regrets!

I faced a marathon. It kicked my ass, but in the end I won! 

This is my #reasontorun run. If you’d like to donate to this amazing charity, please follow the link below 💚

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Sarah-CherryTree

A Good Man

A blog in the life of Ginger Webster

What are the qualities that make a man ‘good’?;
Is it to act in a way that he should?

Movies tell us that good men are strong;
To be sexy and edgy is where they belong.

A wild lover and frantic in bed;
An image that modern literature has fed.

Songs will sing that men should be heroes;
Their lover supported and protected from foes.

Some would say he is good with tools;
Maybe this is how he abides by the rules?

If romance is dead and gone away;
Then a thoughtful man, is a ‘keeper’ they say.

The list above seems an epic task;
A little too much for anyone to ask.

The pressure to meet this unreasonable need;
Is a stressful life for any to lead.

Here is an idea I wish to tender,
Good or bad does not link to gender.

Being courteous to others whenever you…

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The Beginning of Slinging

My last week at work, 37 weeks pregnant with my first baby, and I was beginning to suffer. It had been a long shift and I had moved a chair near the till so I could sit down for a few minutes and rest my swollen feet.

The shop door opened and in swept a mother. This lady wasn’t like normal mothers I’d seen, she was draped in a dazzling rainbow of fabric with her toddler tied to her chest. I watched mesmerised as she sashayed past me, the beautiful free ends of rainbow fabric flowing behind her. 

 

 
What was this baby carrier? I needed to know more!

Stalking the Rainbow Mummy was proving to be difficult, I tried to subtlety get a better view, but in my heavily pregnant state made this difficult. 

I slowly, and quietly waddled towards her – a Ninja hippo on a mission.

 

 
I followed her to the cat food aisle. With the pretence of arranging tons of Gourmet, I watched Rainbow Mummy out of the corner of my eye. 

Whilst browsing cat biscuits with one hand, she was talking animatedly to the blonde haired tot tied to her. The little girl was beaming up at her mum, their faces inches apart. They had the same golden hair and smiling blue eyes, and in that moment I felt like an intruder in a sacred shared moment. 

I was desperate to ask more, but didn’t know how to approach Rainbow Mummy. Although she looked friendly and approachable, I didn’t know how she’d feel if I asked her about her carrier. Would she think I was rude for asking? Would she jealously guard the information about the Rainbow Carrier?

Suddenly she turned and looked at me. The desire to know more must have been etched across my face. Rainbow Mummy smiled at me and made her way over to where I was standing.

“Look, that lady has got a baby in her tummy!” She said enthusiastically to her toddler. 

I grinned at her in gratitude, the ice had been broken.

I didn’t know what to call the Rainbow! Would I offend her if I referred to it as the wrong thing? 

“I like your, erm….” I gestured frantically to the carrier “erm, rainbow thingy!”

Rainbow Mummy smiled.

“It’s a sling, a woven sling!”

Gleaning information about the sling from Rainbow Mummy wasn’t a problem. She spoke animatedly and with passion. I felt as though I’d just had a sneaky peak in to some kind of secret society as she used a myriad of words and phrases I’d never heard of before – babywearing, Girasol, size 6, hemp blends…

Hours later at home, as I Googled some of the terms Rainbow Mummy had mentioned, the initial magic of my encounter began to fade – these woven slings seemed expensive – many starting at over £100. I felt slightly dismayed. I had already purchased a high street baby carrier – one of the structured ruck-sack style carriers. Surely this would be just as good as a bit of material?

I still felt as though I was missing out though, so I asked for advice on one of the Facebook Babywearing Forums. I was recommended to try a Victoria Slinglady (VSL) creation, as a cheap introduction into the world of slings. After browsing the VSL website I decided upon a simple dark blue cotton non-stretchy wrap.

When my VSL arrived, I felt underwhelmed – it was just a long blue bit of material. Comparing it to the high street carrier it looked feeble, pathetic – it certainly didn’t look or feel like something I could comfortably carry a baby in. I washed it and stored it away with the rest of my baby items, doubting very much that I’d actually use it.

Following the dramatic arrival of Gruffalo Girl, I was in a lot of pain due to an emergency cesarean section. It was therefore several days before I could manage more than a few steps without being in agony. 

When I’d been home a couple of days, I thought I’d give my high street carrier ago. After about 20 minutes of sweating and faffing about with a zillion more buckles than was necessary, I got Gruffalo Girl into the carrier. She seemed happy, but the carrier wasn’t particularly comfortable for me. After about 20 minutes I could feel it pulling and digging into my shoulders, and I could feel pressure in my stomach muscles, where my c-section scar was situated. I felt disappointed. I had pictured carrying Gruffalo Girl miles whilst we explored the countryside on long dog walks. If this carrier was uncomfortable now, what would it be like as she grew?

A few days later, I thought I’d give the VSL a try. A watched a few tutorials and decided to do a pocket wrap cross carry (PWCC). This type of carrier is usually reserved for stretchy slings, but I thought it would be easier for me to try, as it allowed me to tie it before I put Gruffalo Girl in, and then just tighten it up. 

Although the instructions looked complicated, it was actually surprisingly easy to tie. I placed Gruffalo Girl into the carrier and tightened it up.

The material spread Gruffalo Girl’s weight evenly across my back and shoulders, so much so that she felt completely weightless. Bending my head forward, her head was the perfect height for me to kiss.

Suddenly I understood.

As soon as I laid eyes on Gruffalo Girl, I knew my life had changed beyond anything I could imagine. I felt so much love for this little person that I wanted to spend every second of every day cuddling her. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to do that – I had other responsibilities such as cooking, cleaning, walking the dog. 

The sling suddenly meant that I didn’t have to choose. I could cuddle her and kiss her whilst walking the dog, eating my lunch, making the bed. It was almost like having my bump back.

 

Victoria Slinglady Non-stretchy

 
The closeness that babywearing gave me was similar to the feeling I got whilst breastfeeding. 

After a few months of using the VSL every day, I decided it was time to invest in a new sling. I needed something for when the VSL was in the wash. I stared browsing the budget woven carriers (starting at around £40 – £50), and decided I would get an Ellaroo

Browsing the beautiful fabrics available, it suddenly made sense to me why some women were spending £100s, even £1000s on Woven slings.

When you become a mother your identity changes. Your life revolves around this tiny little person you’ve created, and every single decision you make is centered on your baby. Even my clothing choices depended on how easy it was to breastfeed in!

Browsing the fabric and pattern choices for the Ellaroo, I could finally see a way that I could get my own identity back. Although the purpose of the sling would be to keep my baby close, the fabric choice was something just for me! I could use the slings to help me rebuild my new identity, to express my own individuality and personality.

Within moments of this realisation I had ordered three Ellaroo slings – Christiane, Limona and Bule

 

Ellaroo ‘Christiane’


 

Ellaroo ‘Limona’

 

Ellaroo ‘Bule’

   

My addiction to Woven slings had begun…

  

Hollid – More About The Imaginary Menace 

Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against imaginary friends – in fact I had two of my own.

My first was a pig, who had the fantastically original name of ‘Pig’. Pig disappeared and was replaced by Fred, a friendly giant who stuck around for several years. Fred also appeared several years before the 1991 Rik Mayall film Drop Dead Fred (I’m considering sueing for Copyright). 

Drop Dead Fred (1991)

As far as imaginary friends go, Fred was pretty great. He was kind and sweet, and he used to stand outside my bedroom window and keep me safe. Fred’s best friend was another giant called Pooley, who was my sister’s imaginary friend. She also had an imaginary friend called Little Yellowy – who was a small yellow pencil crayon, but that’s another story!

It’s bizarre, but I can still remember what Fred looked like. Being a giant he was obviously quiet big. He used to wear dark green clothes, and had a big, kind, doughy face.

I thought it would be interesting to find out a bit more about Hollid, so I asked Gruffalo Girl to tell me some more about him.

I’m not going to lie – my discoveries are pretty terrifying!

When I asked Gruffalo Girl what Hollid looks like: 

“He wears black boots, he has a round fat brown body, he wears a purple skirt, orange top, blue hat, his hair is pink orange and purple, and his eyes are like pools or terrible fire!”

He sounds to me like a transgender Gruffalo. 

The scary bit is when I asked her what he does for a job:

“When mummy has been looking after the babies, Hollid comes and takes them away and buries them under the stones at the top of the world”

Sounds like a script for a horror film!! 

Based on this discription, one of my friends, who writes the blog Universally Challenged, drew her own interpretation of Hollid.

 

Hollid, by Challenge Nat

  

Hollid, by Challenge Nat

 
I asked Gruffalo Girl if these artist impressions of Hollid were correct…

She said that they weren’t. These pictures are scary, and Hollid isn’t scary – he’s funny!

I asked Gruffalo Girl if she could draw a picture of Hollid – this is what she drew:

Hollid, by Gruffalo Girl (Hollid is the big character in the middle, the smaller things round the outside are his children – who can fly!)

Hands up who’s scared!
  
If you want to know more about Hollid, check out my blog post Hollid – The Imaginary Menace!

Keep Them Close

Close.

The epitome of Babywearing.

Close. 

Babywearing keeps my babies physically close. We are touching, bound together, we are one.

Close. 

Babywearing keeps us biologically close. Skin to skin stimulates oxytocin production, the ‘love’ hormone. It’s allows me to respond immediately to my child’s needs.

 

Artist K Berggren

 
Close.

Babywearing creates a spiritual closeness, creating a bond that transcends time and distance. Our bond is so strong that the security and love borne from keeping them close, remains even when we are far apart.
 
** All pictures in this blog post are by the amazingly talented K. Berggren. Check out her website for more beautiful and intimate moments of motherhood.

The Night Feed

The shrill sound cuts through my dream like a dagger! I yank myself ferociously through the cottony veils of sleep, and find myself standing dazed next to my bed.

My baby is awake.

I look blankly at the baby monitors for a moment, it takes a couple of seconds for my tired brain to decifer which of the girls the cry is coming from.

Hattie Cat.

I stagger zombie-like to her bedroom, my mummy instincts add speed that my exhausted body wouldn’t normally be able to cope with so soon after waking.

It’s almost pitch black in her room, but I can see her wiggling around her cot, trussed up in her sleeping bag like a little grub. Her eyes are shut, she’s still mostly asleep, but she’s looking for me. Her small keening cries call directly to my heart in a way that words never could, and her message is crystal clear – “mummy, I need you!”

I pick her up and hold her small body close, she tucks herself into me, but doesn’t relax. She is restless, searching. She wants milk.

I don’t know if she’s hungry or just needing comfort. I don’t care which it is, but it’s a need that I can satisfy, so I do just that.

I sit down on the spare bed , next to her cot, and get myself comfortable, a pillow propped behind me. I pull my pajama top down, and she homes in on me, like a heat-seeking missile, and latches on.

I wince for a moment as she sucks viciously and pummels my flesh with her tiny hands. Little fists punch me, and needle like nails claw at me. Her mouth is like an industrial vaccuum. I grit my teeth, knowing this will only last a moment.

I feel my breast harden and tighten, and the distinct tingle which signals my milk let down.

Hattie pulls back a moment, and then desperately starts rhymically swallowing, as the first cascade of milk pours into her mouth. Her hands stop their frantic attack on me, and instead hold me in a death grip. Her breathing is snatched gasps between frantic swallows.

Slowly, her drinking begins to change. The swallowing slows down into a calmer rhythm.

Suck suck suck suck swallow

Suck suck suck suck swallow

 

Artist: K Berggren

 

We lay together in our cocoon of darkness, joined at such a basic and primitive level.

Slowly, so slowly that I barely notice it, her small body begins to relax and I feel the tension ebbing away from her. Vice like fingers start to soften their grip until they are just resting gently on me, a delicate warm pad of velvet. The sucking is now accompanied by slow, deep and even breaths.

Suck suck suck suck swallow

 

Artist: K Berggren

 

I gently bend my head so that I can kiss her tender skin. Soft silken hair tickles my nose as I deeply breathe in the unique sent of my baby. 

I treasure this moment in the deep, dark of the night. It’s quiet and still, and full of a love so deep that I can barely contain it.

The night is ours.

Long minutes blend together until the sucking has almost disappeared. Soft butterfly sucks now lap away at me, drawing away the fat-rich milk, abundant in its magic sleepy hormones. 

I feel my own body relax and begin to succumb to the intoxicating pull of sleep.

She is almost still now, her breath barely more than a delicate whisper in the shadows. Her whole form becomes floppy and limp, like a rag doll. 

Artist: K Berggren

I slowly stand, cradling her against me for a moment longer, before I lay her softly in her cot. She snuffles and grunts for a few second, a small protest that our connection is broken, for now. 

I reset the baby monitor and stagger drunkenly back to bed.

At 12 months old many experts say she should be sleeping through the night, but I wouldn’t change our night feeds for the world. 
** All artwork on this page is from the extremely talented K Berggren. Check out her website

Hattie Cat Makes an Entrance!

My Birth Story 2.0

As my due date approached for my second baby I was feeling apprehensive. I’d been through an ordeal to give birth to her sister, and even though the consultants were happy for me to try for a VBAC (vaginal birth after cessarian), I was still scared something could go wrong again.


With Gruffalo Girl’s birth, I hadn’t even considered what I would do if I had to have any emergency procedures, so my birth plan was sparse.

This time I had accounted for every possibility and written down exactly what I wanted to happen. I wanted to feel like I was in control of the situation.

But more than anything, I wanted my VBAC. During Gruffalo Girl’s birth, I felt my body had failed me. It couldn’t even accomplish something as simple as safely delivering my baby. I hated my body for letting me down, and I felt as though I failed at being a woman and a mother.

I hoped a VBAC would go some way to repairing my damaged self-image.

SONY DSCSONY DSC

Friday 20th June 2014

Due date!

From the early hours of the morning, I starting getting quite intense painful tightenings. I didn’t think anything of it at this stage, as this had happened 3-4 times a week for about 6 weeks, and I’d been in hospital a few times with ‘false labour’, ‘early labour’ and ‘slow labour’, (basically I think the midwives didn’t really know what was happening, aside from the fact that I was having contractions, but it wasn’t yet labour). I was fed up of going into hospital, getting strapped to monitors for hours, being poked and prodded then getting sent home. I therefore vowed I would not go back to hospital again unless I was 100% certain that the baby was coming!

Pains continued through the night with no real pattern, varying from 10-30 apart, but they were waking me up.

In the morning I decided to take Gruffalo Girl out shoe shopping to take my mind off the pains, which continued with no real pattern, but were getting more intense.

At 4:30pm I decided to pop over to my mums, which is a 5 min walk away. Pains were coming at exactly 30 mins, but getting worse.

Between 4:30pm and 7:00pm they jumped to every 15 mins, then 10, then 5 mins!

At 7:00pm I asked my sister to walk home with me as I was scared of it just being me and Gruffalo Girl. I had 3 contractions on the way home and I was on my hands and knees on the pavement (much to my sister’s utter embarrassment), but I was still unwilling to believe this was actual labour.

When I got home I had a beast of a contraction, that floored me! The pressure was unbearable and I thought my insides we’re going to burst! I started the contraction timer app on my phone, just before 3 minutes had elapsed another one hit me – I was screaming in pain. I suddenly had no doubt, this was it!

I phoned the labour ward to tell them I was coming in, and phoned my mum to come and watch Gruffalo Girl.

The 5 minute drive to the hospital was torture, the contractions were coming every 2.5-3 minutes and I was only a just coping with the pain!

I arrived at hospital and the fear hit me – what if they just strapped me to the monitor for hours again? What if I got stuck at 1-2cm for ever (like Gruffalo Girl’s birth)?

I walked into the maternity ward and another contraction hit – I was down on the floor roaring like a crazed lion.

As soon as the midwife behind the desk saw me she sent me straight to a delivery suite. Two midwives came in and they examined me. I was terrified, what If they said I was only 1-2cm? What if this was false labour, again?

I waiting with baited breath, but the midwife announced with a smile that it was good news – I was 6-7cm with bulging waters!

Hoorah!!!!

I asked if I could use the pool, but was told it was in use, so I used the birthing ball and gas and air.

As we approached midnight I was doing ok. Yes, it bloody hurt, and I was only just managing the pain, but I was managing it.

I’d studied hyponobirthing during my pregnancy this time round, and I found implementing these techniques helped. I tried to me mindful of my body, and concentrate on what it was doing and what I was going to achieve, rather than getting overwhelmed by the pain.

My biggest hurdle was fear, I felt it at the edge of my awareness, and I was determined to not let it consume me. I had a mantra from Frank Herbert’s Dune running through my mind on repeat:

Saturday 21st June 2014 – Summer Solstice

40+1

Just after midnight the pain changed. I can’t even describe exactly how it changes, the pain and pressure were just as intense, but something just felt different. I could remember that my mum had told me that it felt different when it was time to push, so I asked the midwives if it was time. They said that I was the only one who would know, so I decided to give it a try.

It took me a few contractions to get my head around pushing, but I realised when I was pushing correctly the pain decreased dramatically.

The sensation was bizarre, I could actually feel my baby slowly moving down the birth canal – and she felt HUGE!

I tried to remain calm and use hypno techniques, but every so often I lost it and started screaming like a banshee that I couldn’t do it, and throwing the mouthpiece of the gas and air across the room!

The midwives and Mr X were amazing, and along with a quick panicked phone call to my mum,  I was able to keep going.

I’d been pushing for around 2 hours, and the midwives mentioned that if the baby wasn’t born soon the consultant would be coming in to the room. I started pushing with renewed vigour – I was determined to do it on my own this time.

Thankfully I was almost done. At around 2am, the pain changed and turned into an intense burn! I had reached the ring of fire!

At this point the fear won. I was terrified! The feeling was horrific! I knew it was the baby crowing, but it felt like a red hot football was wedged inside me. I was in agony, and I was terrified if I pushed any more the pain would increase. At this point I made a desperate request for an epidural. One of the midwives just laughed and said I didn’t need one as my baby would be born in just a few more pushes. Knowing I was almost at the end gave me the last bit of resolve I needed.

I pushed through the burn…

I must not fear

I must not fear

It didn’t actually get any worse.

At 2:07 the head was born.

One of the midwives said to me:

“One more push, and your baby will be out.”

This is the point when I stopped listening. One more push and it was over, done!

The midwife was still talking – saying something about going slow and steady and panting.

I ignored her – I had one thing on my mind.

PUSH.

When the final contraction came I gave it every single ounce of strength I had left, ignoring the midwives cries to slow down.

PUSH

As I was braced on all fours, I suddenly felt something shoot out from me, and without realising what was happened a baby was passed between my legs. I stared in complete shock and amazement.

I had done it.

Somebody asked if it was a boy or girl. I looked at the tiny person beneath me and my mind went blank – how on earth was a supposed to know if it was a boy or a girl????

“It’s a girl” One of the midwives whispered in my ear.

Harriet Caitlin was born at 2:08am on Saturday 21st June 2014. She weighed the same as her sister did, 7lb 7oz.

I had immediate skin to skin and she guzzled on the boob within 5 mins, and then continued to have milk whilst I delivered the placenta and got examined by the doctor.

I got a pretty bad second degree tear and required lots of stitches. This was caused by Hattie Cat’s shoulder being born too fast (due to me ignoring the midwives).

I was sore and exhausted, but extremely happy! My little family was complete.

My body didn’t fail me this time round – I got my VBAC.


    

The Dramatic Arrival of Gruffalo Girl

My Birth Story

I suppose I was slightly niave, I didn’t think birth would be a problem. I was nervous about it, the same way I suppose all first time parents are, but only because I didn’t know what to expect. I also knew it would be painful, but I believed it was a pain I could deal with – after all, the pain was bringing my baby into the world.

I’d coped with everything else my pregnancy had thrown at me, birth was just the final step, and as my due date approached I started to feel excited.

I was aware complications could happen during labour, but I was certain mine would be straight forward. I was fit and healty, and I was stubborn enough to deal with the pain, without the need for an epidural. The thought of being confined to my back whilst in labour filled me with dread, so I was determined to have a quick, active labour with no drugs and as little intervention as possible. I was so certain things would go smoothly, that I didn’t even mention contingency measures in my birth plan. After all, I wasn’t going to be one of those women  who couldn’t cope and ended up with a C section!

5th May 2012

39+6 weeks pregnant

I’d been having frequent Braxton Hicks contractions throughout the pregnancy, so when they started again the day before  my due date, I didn’t think anything of it. The Hubby (Mr X) was at a football match (the last Sheffield Wednesday game of the season), so I had gone to my parents house for the day, just so that I wasn’t alone if the baby decided to arrive.

At 11am we noticed that the Braxton Hicks were in a rough pattern, so my mum (who was beginning to get excited) suggested we start to time them. They were coming like clockwork – every 10 minutes! I found them uncomfortable, the pain was like bad period pain, but the tightening and pressure were the worst bit. I found myself breathing through the worst part to allow me to deal with the intense feeling, but it wasn’t too bad. By this stage I was still in denial that it was actual labour, as it was nothing worse than the Braxton Hicks I’d been experiencing since about 18 weeks gestation.

My mum made chilli for lunch (one of my favourite meals), but I found it hard to eat it. My appetite had gone, and I felt restless. I couldn’t stop pacing.

My 2pm the tightening were still happening, but we’re now every 8-9 minutes. I started to mentally prepare myself for the fact that is could be it!

By 4/5pm they were every 7 minutes, and the pressure had gone up a notch. I was having to grab hold of something for the worst part – the sofa, my parents work tops – anything I could dig my nails into would do! I sent Mr X a text message asking him to come and get me straight from the football match, as this could be it (he was planning on hanging out with friends at the pubs near the ground for a bit afterwards).

When Mr X picked me up at 6pm my mum was bounding about like an excited puppy, as she believed the baby’s arrival was imminent. I still wasn’t completely convinced.

The drive from my parents house to our house was about an hour, with a 40 minutes stretch on the M1. As we got onto the motorway the tightenings kicked up a gear again, and were now coming every 6 minutes. The pressure in my uterus felt like my insides were being squeezed my a giant claw. I was still managing to breath through them,  but I was struggling to get into a comfortable position with the constraints of the car seat and seat belt.

It was at this point that I knew this was the real thing. As soon as we arrived home I gave the labour ward a call. They said I could come in to get checked over, but as the contractions were still 6 minutes apart there was no rush. Mr X insisted I had a sandwich before we set off, so I forced myself to eat despite having no appetite! We checked, and double checked the hospital bags, grabbed my maternity notes and set off on the 15 minute drive to the hospital.

Although I had a slight touch of nerves, I was predominantly excited – we could be leaving the hospital with our baby in a few hours!

On arrival I was put on a bed in the ward and examined by a midwife. The examination was awful, and felt very similar to a smear test. I awaited the verdict with baited breath…

1-2cm!

I’m not going to deny it, at this stage I was pretty disappointed. 1-2cm meant that I’d potentially got about another 12 hours to go.

The midwife was lovely and friendly, and told us there was no need to stay in hospital at this point, but we were welcome to stay if we wanted to. I was advised to try and get some sleep, but if I couldn’t sleep I should stay active. As I was coping with the contractions, we decided to head home.

It was now about 8pm, and I felt too restless to sleep so we decided to take Brodie (our crazy collie) for a walk. The walk was hard work, the contractions were now every 5 minutes and were getting quite painful. I was struggling to just breath through the most painful part. Contractions come in a wave, you can feel it slowly building – a culmination of pain and pressure that gets more and more intense until it reaches a crescendo, then it peters out until finally the contraction is over. I was having to really grit my teeth through the most painful part, the peak of the wave.

We got home and Mr X went to bed, he’d been on nights the previous night, so was knackered. I decided to have a bath to see if the warm water would help. Just before getting into the bath I went to the loo. There was a ‘plop’, and I looked in the toilet to discover I’d lost my mucus plug. This is as gross as it sounds. It was a rough spherical shape, about the diameter of a 50p. It looked to be comprised of slime and blood, like a giant bloody bogey!

From horrorpedia.com

Despite its grim appearance, I was actually excited to see it as it meant labour was progressing – maybe I’d be about 4cm now?

The bath didn’t help, I was too restless and I couldn’t get comfortable so I got out. I tried to watch a bit of TV but couldn’t concentrate on anything through the pain of the contractions. By 11pm I gave up and went up to bed with the intention of trying to get a bit of sleep between contractions. At this point I took two paracetamols as advised by the midwife, but they appeared to be as useful as a chocolate teapot!

I laid in bed, maternity pillow wedged between by legs and against by body, and tried my best to sleep.

6th May 2012

40 weeks pregnant – due date!

I’d been trying to sleep for about 3 hours, and only managed to doze for a few minutes at a time before a contraction woke me. At around 2am I started to time my contractions again – they didn’t feel any worse, but were coming every 3-4 minutes, and lasting about 60 seconds. At 2:30am I phoned the labour ward, and they told to come in so they could see how I was progressing.

I woke Mr X, we got dressed, got in the car and made our way back to hospital and to the labour ward. I was taken to a bed where I laid legs akimbo for another examination, and anxiously awaited the verdict…


1-2 cm!

1-2 frikkin cm!

Still!

What the actual f@ck!?!

What was my body playing at?

I couldn’t believe I had nothing to show for all this pain! What had all these contractions been doing? They certainly hadn’t been causing my cervix to dilate!

I was gutted!

We went back home. I was going to get this baby out one way or another, so I sent Mr X back to bed, grabbed my birthing ball and bounced, and bounced, then for good measure I bounced some more.

Nothing changed.

At about 9am Mr X got up. We decided we should get dressed and showered, because surely things were bound to pick up pace soon. I got ready first, then got back on the birthing ball for some more bouncing.

At about 11:00am, whilst Mr X was upstairs getting dressed, something changed. I was sat on the sofa having yet another contraction. At the peak of the contraction my bump went rock hard, then it seemed to roll beneath my hands. As this happened the pain and pressure changed, and it felt as though my lower spine was being crushed. It was agony. I actually screamed, and in a desperate attempt to escape the pain, I found myself crawling up the back of the sofa. Mr X ran down stairs just as the contraction was finishing. I told him we needed to go back to hospital, surely pain like this meant the baby’s arrival was imminent.

We had just got in the car when the next contraction came – again it was agony. It felt as though my back was being ripped apart, and the pressure in my hips and lower spine was almost unbearable. I was drenched in sweat and with each contraction I was letting out a primal growl.

We arrived at the labour ward, but as I’d already been examined twice recently, they didn’t want to examine me again  just yet. The midwife had a feel of my bump and explained that the baby had turned ‘back to back’ (also known and occiput posterior, or ‘OP’ presentation).

This means that instead of the baby’s head facing towards my tummy in an anterior position (meaning it’s head was in an optimum position to press against my cervix) the baby’s back was towards my spine, meaning that each contraction forced the baby against my back and hips! This explained the increase in pain and the change in pressure.

They thought it would be better to keep me in, as the baby was hopefully only a few hours away. I tried my best to keep active – primarily by bouncing and rocking on the birthing ball and marching up and down a spiral staircase. I was only just coping with the contractions, they were pushing me to the very limit of my pain threshold, but I still refused any pain relief.

I wasn’t trying to be a martyr, I had good reasons for refusing pain meds:

The drugs that can be given during labour are limited, and all have side effects that that I wasn’t happy about.

1) An epidural completely numbs you, but it means you have to lay on your back, which is naturally not a great position to give birth. This means in most cases labour takes longer as you haven’t got gravity on your side . It also has other potential risks – such as messing with your blood pressure, possible spinal/nerve damage, and an increased chance of a c section. Plus there is an enormous scary needle!!


2) Aside from the epidural, all the pain relief options for labour have a possible side effect of nausea. I seem to respond particularly badly to the emetic effects of opiods, and if there is a chance of being sick, I WILL be sick.

3) Most of the pain meds available have side effects that can make you spaced out, sedated and can even cause hallucinations. I didn’t want to be ‘out of my head’ when my baby was born, and I was pretty sure I’d react badly to these meds. I’d previously been given Tramadol to help with the pain of a small operation that was done under local anaesthetic (it was to remove a botched up contraceptive implant, which had accidentally been placed into my bicep muscle). I was given Tramadol to help with the pain whilst it was healing. I had two tablets of a pretty low dose – within half an hour I was off my head. I thought my living room light was emitting floating diamonds that were being eaten by my dog, and I spent the whole day desperate for a wee, as I daren’t go into the bathroom as I though there was a monkey in there!

So enduring the pain as best I could, I soldiered on.

At about 6pm Sunday evening Mr X and I were both exhausted, so we decided to invite my mum to be a second birth partner.

When she arrived I was struggling to cope, so I decided to try the gas and air. Gas and air, or Entonox is a mixture of oxygen and nitrous oxide, and is also known as laughing gas – I quickly found out why. I few deep breaths through the Darth Vadar mouthpiece and I was on all fours in fits of giggles. It felt like all the good bits of getting drunk – the fuzzy lightheadedness, the blurry slurry happy feeling! I loved it!!!!

from concok.com

It didn’t take away the pain of my contraction, but it gave me something else to focus on, and it helped me to distance myself slightly from what was happening.

At about 8pm it was time to get examined again. I knew from the severity of the pain I must be quite far along.

I laid back again, toking away on the wonderful Entonox whilst the midwife prodded away at my insides, and waited with trepidation for the verdict…

from themescompany.com

1-2 cm!!!

This had to be a joke?!

How the hell could I still be 1-2cm.

At this point I lost it. I was tired, I was scared, my whole body hurt, I’d been in labour 32 hours and nothing had happened. I started to feel the first icy prickles of panic. I laid on the bed and sobbed.

The midwife explained that because the baby was back to back, labour had slowed down and and become more painful.

I was barely keeping my growing terror under control – this wasn’t how my labour was supposed to happen!

Mum, Mr X and the Entonox managed to keep me just calm enough to cope with the contractions as we entered the second night of labour!

7th May 2012

40+1 weeks pregnant 

I was tired, more tired then I’d ever been in my life, I was existing in a haze that was punctuated only by the excruciating pain of the contractions. Minutes and hours blurred together and time held no meaning.

By 3am my body was started to feel the impact. A doctor appeared to tell me I was dehydrated and he needed to get some fluids into me ASAP or labour wouldn’t progress. I was also told I needed some sleep.

I really didn’t want to go down the drug route, but after lots of pressure from the doctor and the midwives, I was eventually persuaded to have one dose of diamorphine with some anti-sickness meds, just so I could get a few hours sleep whilst the fluid drip kicked in. The diamorphine took away some of the pain, and I managed to get about 3 hours sleep between contractions, but it made me sick – despite the anti-sickness injection. I was angry with the doctor as I knew this would happen.

Even more fluids were required to balance my frequent vomiting.
At about 8am Monday morning it was time for yet another examination. This time the midwife also broke my waters. This was a bizarre sensation, it felt like I was peeing myself!

The verdict of the examination wasn’t good. I was only 4cm!

I was devastated and lay on the examination bed crying. I was scared, frustrated, and increasingly feeling that control was  spinning away from me. By this time the diamorphine had worn off and the gas and air was having no effect! I was yelling and growling my way through contractions and trying anything to take the pain away – including getting mum and Mr X to push against my back, and even pushing my back against the cold sink in the bathroom.

Despite the fluid drip I was still dehydrated, and they were struggling to get a trace on the baby’s heart so they moved me from the midwife led unit to the labour suite.

Whilst I was in the bathroom, pressing my back against the cold sink and screaming my way through another contraction, a team of doctors appeared. This didn’t feel good, there were 4 of them, dressed in scrubs and wearing surgical caps.

They told me they were worried about me and the baby as my temperature was going up, and they needed to speed things up. They wanted to put me on Synoctin and antibiotics. They also wanted to give me an epidural!! I was really against this, but they explained I was moving around so much with each contraction that if they gave me the Synoctin without an epi, then if there were more complications and I had to go to theatre they wouldn’t be able to do the epidural and they would have to use general anaesthetic – so I reluctantly agreed. I sobbed as they put the epidural in, as I hated losing control, and it was completely against my birth plan.

So I laid in bed with an epidural in, a drip containing fluids, antibiotics and Synoctin, feeling pretty miserable.

At 5pm something amazing happened. My examination showed I had finally reached 10cm – hooray!!!

Suddenly I felt back in control as I knew this was something I could do. The doctors told me to rest for an hour before pushing and they left me with Mr X and mum to try and relax.

At 6pm Monday evening I was allowed to push – eventually. The midwife and student midwife (who were amazing) let me know when to start pushing, and I gave it everything I had. With each contraction I was doing 3 huge pushes. The midwives and doctors said my pushing was some of the best they had ever seen – unfortunately the baby wasn’t moving. My temperature was still going up, and they were really struggling to keep a trace on the baby’s heartbeat. The doctor said she would give me an hour to push before they intervened.

In that hour I gave it everything I had, and I was told I was doing amazingly well – but the baby didn’t budge.

At about 6:45 a team of doctors came in – they said they would have to take me to theatre! They wanted to try and turn the baby, and if that didn’t work they would have to do an emergency C-section. I was absolutely heart broken. This was my worst nightmare and I was terrified. I sat sobbing as they read the consent form to me. I hated the lack of control and the fact that I wouldn’t be able to deliver my baby by myself. Signing over control of the most important event of my life was utterly devastating. As soon as the form was signed it was all stations go – about 10 people appeared from nowhere! Somebody put me in a surgical gown, another person took off my nail-varnish, the anaesthetist was topping up my epidural whilst other people were topping up my drip. My mum was crying by this stage. I told my mum to phone my dad and ask my dad and sisters to come to hospital so that she wouldn’t be on her own. By this stage I felt numb. The amount of people and the bustle was overwhelming, and the fact my mum was crying was beyond terrifying!

I was wheeled to theatre and transferred to a different bed. Mr X appeared in scrubs and a sticker saying he was the daddy. More drugs were injected into the epidural, my feet were placed in stirrups and a screen was put up. After feeling lots of weird sensations between my legs I was told they had managed to turn the baby and I was allowed to push again. I gave it absolutely everything, but after 4 contractions there was still no movement, and the doctors said my body was just too exhausted, so they were going to perform an emergency cesarean.

The epidural was topped up even more – I hung onto Mr X’s hand as I felt the horrible tugging and pulling sensations in my stomach. I asked the midwife how long it would take and she said I would hear a sucking sensation just before the baby was born. A few moments into the operation I heard the sucking – the midwife smiled and said that my baby was nearly out.

Suddenly they lifted my baby up over the screen, and I could see a little purple head and upper arms. Mr X said  “Its a girl”, and he was grinning at me! Then she cried and I burst into tears.

After 58 harrowing hours of labour, my baby girl was finally here. They wrapped her in a towel and brought her over to show me. It was the most amazing moment of my life. She looked at me with her big blue eyes and I was instantly in love with her. She was then taken over to another part of the room where she was weighed and measured, then she was placed in Mr X’s arms as they stitched me up. I asked somebody to tell my mum, and a nurse went out to tell her.

Emily Charlotte, the Gruffalo Girl, arrived at 7:07pm on Monday 7th May weighing 7lb 7oz.

I was wheeled to recovery and my daughter was placed in my arms for the first time. We had skin to skin and just stared at each other for about 20 minutes. I knew then that she was worth every second of pain, and I would do it all again a million times for her.


    

Hollid – The Imaginary Menace

Hollid is a twat!

I try not to be judgmental, and give people time to redeem themselves – but Hollid is a complete and utter knobber!

He’s selfish, cruel and messy – despite the fact he isn’t real!

Hollid is Gruffalo Girl’s imaginary ‘friend’, although the term friend may not be applicable in this case.

He appeared about 10 weeks ago.

At first I thought it was sweet as as saw her chatting away and giggling to somebody I couldn’t see, but it didn’t take long for the dark side of Hollid to show himself.

In the time we have known Hollid he has told Gruffalo Girl to hit her sister and her friends, he told her to poo on the windowsill, he makes her throw her food on the floor so he can eat it.

He’s worst at night though – he’s told Gruffalo Girl several times that she doesn’t have to go to sleep, and if she does go to sleep, he wakes her up by being evil.

She has woken screaming so far for the following reasons:

– Hollid has put wolves in her drawers

– Hollid has put flies in her bed.

– Hollid has been posting bees through a letter box in her bedroom.

– Hollid has put a ladybird in her hair!

He has also made me doubt my own sanity. I’m pretty sure when you find yourself standing outside your daughter’s bedroom at 3am arguing with an imaginary friend, it may be time to consider a mental health assessment 😐

Concerning Hobbits

I should, I suppose, introduce myself – I am a Hobbit!

It may surprise you to learn that the little folk, borne from the imagination of JJR Tolkien are, in fact, real and living among us.

I fist suspected my true lineage the first time my dad read ‘The Hobbit’ to me. I would have been about 7 years old. I have always been small – in fact, for as long as I can remember I’ve been infamous for it. I’ve constantly been affectionately referred to as the ‘little one’, ‘squirt’, ‘titch’, etc. It was therefore refreshing to hear a story where the central protagonist was the smallest character!

‘Saruman believes it is only great power that can hold evil in check. But that is not what I have found. I’ve found it is the small things, everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keeps the darkness at bay. Simple acts of kindness and love.’

– JRR Tolkien, The Hobbit.

Initially my affiliation with hobbits was just about the height, but then I discovered I had much more in common – especially with the likes of Bilbo Baggins. Like Mr Baggins, I am fond of home comforts, I enjoy good food and good company. I love being in the garden, and being at one with nature. But I also have a keen sense of adventure – I like exploring and taking a risk, which I attribute to my ‘Tookish’ side. I find I am often at odds with these two sides, the desire for both homely comforts and wild adventure fight a continuous battle in my subconscious.

This is why I consider myself a Hobbit.