Stretch and Sweep (37 Weeks + 4)

This is an outtake of a diary I kept during my pregnancy…

It is the 4th April 2017, my mummy’s birthday and the day for my stretch and sweep at the MW.

She told me straight away if baby isn’t engaged and cervix isn’t favourable she won’t even bother trying.

Secretly I was hoping that my cervix wasn’t favourable and it wouldn’t happen. But it was, very favourable, and I did have it done and now I’m quietly shitting myself.

MW said I was 2-3 cm dilated already, but this could be down to the fact I’ve already had a baby. That my cervix was soft and my waters were bulging which means she thinks if my waters were to be broken then labour would ensue. 

Baby’s head is nicely engaged but not touching cervix due to bubble of waters between head and cervix which is why she thought if waters break I would go into spontaneous labour.

The actual sweep itself was almost verging on brutal. She did warn me she wasn’t gentle, but crikey…. that?!

Since this I have been having cramps and I’m still having them now, 8 hours later.

I’ve frantically sewn up the shawl, washed it and it’s now drying.

I’m panicking because I’ve still so much to do and I’m worried tonight will be the night… I’m just not sure whether these cramps are something, or nothing.

Now Noah is settled for the night (please god let him sleep all night tonight) I’m going to go and sit and time these cramps and see if there is any order to them.

A baby tonight?

Eek! Who knows?!

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Pregnancy, Second Time Round

I say second, it’s actually the sixth, what I should have said was the second successful pregnancy.

It really couldn’t have been more different with our little lady than with Noah, from start to finish!

I suppose I should start at the very beginning, to coin a phrase. 

On the 16th August 2016 after a stop/start period I took my sixth positive pregnancy test and so it began. The anxiety, the excitement, the hope, the fear, the desperate need to be positive and enjoy this, my final pregnancy but the reality that negative thoughts can’t help but plague me to somehow protect me, should the worse happen.

I was 4 weeks and 4 days pregnant at this point, my due date being 22nd April 2017.

The weird bleeding I had on and off for a week 28 days into my cycle didn’t help make me feel at ease that this pregnancy would be fruitful, but I needn’t have worried as I sit here penning this 14 months later.

The sickness (well nausea) started at 5 weeks which, unlike Noah, started at wake up and lasted until 9-10PM which was far from ideal when I had Noah to entertain aswell as trying to keep it secret. This continued until I was about 15 weeks. With Noah I felt nauseous for a few hours in the afternoon and stopped at about 12 weeks.

From the moment the nausea started I went off pretty much EVERYTHING healthy. Vegetables and salad, which were my key foods with Noah, literally turned my stomach. I am not joking when I say I lived off chocolate and carbs. I had lost all my (Noah) baby weight just prior to my BFP, to say I piled it on with some additional is an understatement, but that’s another story for another day.

I started to show at 9 weeks (16 with Noah) and I just grew and grew and grew. I was massive by 38 weeks and very grateful that she arrived early as I don’t doubt I would have had a late 9Iber.

Barring a trapped nerve in my neck that caused me excruciating pain for about 10 weeks of the pregnancy and the usual aches and pains that are associated with it all went ok. I wasn’t as fit or as healthy as I was with Noah, nausea and lack of time stopped me from taking regular exercise other than walking. Prenatal yoga which I did religiously with Noah was undertaken about a dozen times.

I had extra growth scans thanks to the enormity of my bump, also a diabetic test which came back negative (I did have my doubts considering my appalling diet).

Couldn’t find a 38 week for Noah so used 36 as a comparison

Looking at the above comparison you can see I carried very differently with both my babies yet at the time I’d have said it was the same. With Noah I was convinced right at the beginning he was a boy, this time round I had no inkling whatsoever.

This time baby behaved at the anomaly scan, and all scans following so we didn’t know the gender (Noah defied us and made sure we knew, even though we didn’t want to).

Noah was a turner and wriggler when in the womb. This little monkey was fighting to get out from the moment I started to feel her move at 10 weeks, it was like being attacked from the inside with really sharp jabs and kicks, there were no worries with her as she didn’t have as much down time as Noah did, which would send me into a panic.

I should have known she was going to be a girl just from the differences.

Of course my age caused issues nearer to my due date and I was shocked to hear from one of the consultants that they would want to induce me at 38 weeks. I wasn’t really prepared for this as I was told 40weeks with Noah and he came three days early and I was gearing up for the same this time and had no worry that I could try and bring baby on a couple of days early but two whole weeks? I knew baby would never naturally arrive two weeks early.

Induction has never sat well with me, the thought of artificially introducing hormones into my system quite frankly scares the living crap out of me. However the thought of putting my baby at risk is non-negotiable. See my dilemma?
My consultant knew my worries and agreed, at my 36 week appointment, to go with what I wanted which was to check my placenta at 38 weeks to check for any sign of degradation and then go in regularly for Doppler tests to check on its health until 40 weeks when I would then have an induction. By way of a compromise he gave the midwife written ‘permission’ to do whatever she could to get things moving naturally beforehand so on my mum’s birthday, the 4th April 2017 at 37 weeks + 4, I trotted off to the midwife where she performed a stretch and sweep (I’ve written a full account of the process here).

This started a process I wish I had never started. Cramps started pretty much straight away meaning I frantically sewed up the shawl my mum had knitted me before she passed away years ago convinced baby was coming that night. By the evening they were forming a regular pattern so put everyone who was going to be involved in Noah’s care were put on high alert. The early hours of the next morning the contractions stopped.

Contractions continued on and off for the next few days and I can’t tell you how stressed, worried and upsetting it was and on Friday 7th April I went for my final consultant appointment at Exeter to have my placental health scan, however I had at this stage decided that I was going to just say book me in and get this baby out.

I was contracting every 5 minutes by the time I saw the consultant though so he booked me in to be induced on the following Monday and sent me to be examined by the midwife incase baby was already on its way. I was 3cm and told to go home and wait. 

I sobbed all the way home.

Contractions kept coming every 5 minutes, though not painful they were annoying. That night at 2030 whilst saying goodbye to my friend’s partner at the front door my waters broke but due to the annoying ceasing of my contractions the hospital told me to go in the next day (Saturday 8th April) at 9pm to start the induction process as they can’t let pregnancies continue longer than 24 hours after water break. My treatment by the on call community midwives based at Truro was appalling and the whole debacle was quite simply horrifically upsetting but that’s another story for another time.

Needless to say nothing happened the next day, except leaking waters pretty much continuously, so off we trotted to get induced at 9 that evening, the 8th April.

The below pictures were taken the evening of my induction. I was 38 weeks + 1

An Announcement

A little late, almost 6 months late to be exact, and more for the benefit of those who don’t know us personally (or on social media) but here it is, short but sweet.

On the 9th of April 2017 at exactly 9.15AM, weighing in at a remarkable 8Ib 4oz we welcomed to the world our beautiful baby daughter.

Two weeks early, she has blessed our lives and completed our little family. 

First Trip to the Theatre

On the 18th March Noah got his very first experience of the theatre and it was an absolute success.

For Christmas, Auntie had bought us tickets to see the ‘Direct from the West End’ stage performance of The Tiger Who Came To Tea (one of Noah’s favourite books) at the Northcott Theatre in Exeter. We had lunch with Auntie and David before the performance and from the moment he saw the stage he was captivated.

In fact the look of sheer wonderment when the performers took to the stage left both David and I blubbing like babies, thank god the lights were low at this stage.

His expressions were awe inspiring and I found myself studying his reactions to nearly everything, thus missing a large part of the performance itself. He eagerly got involved with the audience involvement pieces and was leaping around with the best of them, when it came to ‘Tigercise’


The actors; Abbey Norman (Sophie), Harry Howle (Daddy, Tiger and others) and Ashley Tucker (Mummy) were perfectly cast and worked with child audience wonderfully even from the first moment where they entered the auditorium silently, then slowly built their voices up so as not to scare or frighten the youngsters.

They were simply brilliant.

As was Noah. I was worried that maybe an hour having to sit still would be a bit too much, that his attention would dwindle and he’d lose interest but I really had no cause for concern. He was, quite simply mesmerised.

So that’s that, his theatre days have started. I am now on the mailing list for Northcott and will be eagerly looking out for more children’s productions.

I’m a little upset that we’ve missed out on seeing the Northern Ballet’s performance of Goldilocks and the Three Bears as it is now fully booked anywhere near here. He would have LOVED that, but hopefully we’ll get to see another child’s ballet before too long.

The Most Successful Session Yet

That’s what Mrs White said when I picked Noah up from Pre-School on Monday. To say I breathed a sigh of relief is an understatement given the sheer hell we went through to get him there that morning.

From the moment I mentioned the ‘S’ word, as it’s become known as in this house, that morning we had the most heartbreaking tears, sobs and begging to not send him.

I mentioned it to Miss Brown as I attempted to ‘drop’ him off (seeing as he wouldn’t declamp himself from my hip for half an hour). I also mentioned the nightmares and the dread he expressed when the ‘S’ word was mentioned.

On pick up Mrs White said those immortal words. I could have cried with joy. Noah was so excited to show me all the drawings he had done whilst he was there and couldn’t wait to tell me about the trip they will go on next week. Mrs W suggested we move his Froday session to Tuesday afternoon but this would mean him finishing at 5.30, this unfortunately is half an hour past his tea time and only an hour before bed so I think we’re going to stick with the Monday and Froday for a couple of weeks before we do that.

On driving past the school he cheerily waved singing, “Goodbye school, see you next time”. My heart skipped with joy. 

Until we got home to put his well earned stickers on his reward chart….

Then he said he’s not going again. Lol

Monday Activities and Treats

Friday (today) started hopefully. I didn’t mention school until he did which was when I started getting him dressed at about 7.15. No tears. I said we could go swimming afterwards as a treat, still no tears. Then they came, thick and fast, accompanied by the most heart wrenching sobs and begs. I managed to pacify him, sort of, with a few episodes of Ruby and Max before we left in a deluge of tears and snot.

I had decided that I was going to leave him fairly quickly today, prolonging the inevitable wasn’t working so I paid up the money for his trip and gave him the biggest of hugs, told him I loved him very much and pushed him away from towards Mrs White and left, I felt terrible.

As I got to the school gate I felt a tap on my shoulder and it was one of the staff who had come out to tell me that Noah had stopped crying and was playing already, the quickest he has settled yet. Perhaps we are turning that corner after all.

On pick up I arrived ten minutes early so spent 5 minutes peeking through the window and watched, with delight, Noah playing ‘walk the plank’ off the low window sills with the other children. It was lovely to have this fly on the wall opportunity to observe him without him knowing I was there. He was smiling and enjoying himself so much, my heart exploded. After I rang the bell I could here them tell Noah it was me and it still took several minutes for him to come, Miss Brown said what a wonderful day he had. I really couldn’t be happier. 

He had earned two stickers, which we put on his award chart along with two more that we match for school days.

It’s been an hour since we’ve been home and he hasn’t mentioned not going back. In fact he’s getting excited about the school trip on Monday so hopefully that’ll get us through Monday morning’s possible trauma.

We just need to crack these tearful send offs now, for both our sanity.

Friday rewards

Pre-School Day 4

Protocol at Noah’s school states that you can’t send your child for the first 48 hours of any vomiting episode which has meant we’ve had to keep him off today. 

This, for him, is the best news EVER but now I’m worrying about the knock on effects this will have. He is still struggling with the concept of school and any gap in his attendance will just prolong this process and I so desperately want him to settle in there as quickly as possible. 

We have to go to Exeter next Friday which we can’t change so this means he’ll have another day off then and it’s beginning to worry me a little.

How on earth do you make them want to go to school? I thought he’d love it, I truly didn’t envisage this

Pre-School

Today I dropped you off for your third session at pre-school.

You started your regular, twice a week, session at St Petroc’s Pre-School on the 9th January.

To say I’ve been dreading you starting at pre-school is an understatement. You’ve never been left with anyone other than myself or your Daddy, apart from on two short occasions and it’s times like this I feel dreadful that you’ve missed out on having grandparents that are; a) alive or b) live close enough that you know them well enough for you to stay with for any length of time. There’s nothing I can do about this unfortunately, but this means that I fear you’re probably suffering separation anxiety a little more than on average.

The taster sessions went ok, though after we left you for the second one you became quite fixated on the whole, leaving you thing and this has, and continues to be our biggest hurdle.

Day 1

Both myself and Daddy dropped you off for your first day at school and although you asked us not to go, on the whole you seemed ok, especially when I spotted the Treasure Chest and Miss Brown kindly got it down only to discover it was FULL of pirate paraphernalia. That was you suitably absorbed enough for us to say our goodbyes and leave. I’m not ashamed to say we cried in the foyer, we hung your bag on your own little peg and I pretty much sobbed all the way home. 


I felt lost without you and filled my time with doing some yoga, had a bath and did some housework and what seemed like a lifetime later (4 hours), I picked you up.

I got there 5 minutes early and met the lady that runs the early years, who was lovely, and told me that you had experienced a couple of wobbles but, with the help of Bing, and distraction, you recovered ok and that you had been hanging about with another new boy called Carson and you had both been a great distraction to each other as he had been missing his mummy too. On seeing me you burst into tears which broke my heart all over again and you came over trying to hide your tears behind the pictures you had drawn. You gave me the biggest hug and practically dragged me out the door telling me you had got two stickers for being a ‘good boy’ and ‘helping tidy up’. You said you had fun, but categorically told me that you weren’t going to go back.



We went for a swim at Splash as a treat afterwards where we had a great time for over 2 hours.

Day 2

All started fairly well until I put your coat on and you asked me where we were going. As soon as I said school you fell apart. You begged me and sobbed all the way down there. It broke me. I couldn’t keep it together in the car, I felt so guilty. You clung to me as I walked to the front door and refused to let me go. Ms White was there that morning and you were the first in but nothing would calm you. I desperately tried to hold it together in there, we found things that might distract you but you were inconsolable. In the end I had to go and Ms White took you away from me. I’m so sorry I had to leave quickly my darling boy because I didn’t want you to see me fall apart. The guilt I felt was incredible. If I was leaving you there to go to work I would have a valid reason, but to leave you there for no reason made me feel like the worst parent ever. I pretty much sobbed on and off, all morning until I went to pick you up.

I wish I could explain to you in a way that you understood, why it’s important for you to attend pre-school. I really don’t want you to have to start big school full time without ever having experienced that sort of setting. That would be just dreadful.

There were no tears when I picked you up this time (despite mummy being told off for not providing wellies, which were actually in your bag, and waterproofs despite it not being wet) You told me you had been playing outside on your own, had been told you weren’t allowed in the mud kitchen and that you had got two more stickers. You were also covered in blue ink so you must have done some drawing at some point in the session.

Afterwards we went to the toy shop to buy a treat, and much to my amazement you went for the much cheaper option of what I was going to get you. You did state, however, you weren’t going to go back to school, ever!


Day 3 (today)

This started a bit more positively, we discussed starting a reward chart with you, where you can collect all the stickers you earn from school, add them to ones you can earn at home, and when you fill it up you can buy something you want. I said that we could make the chart after school and this seemed to help but the closer we got to leaving, the more you said you didn’t want me to leave, I ended up telling a heinous lie. 

I told you that I would wait for you in the car outside but that you wouldn’t be able to come and see me but you’d know I was close by and you’d know what I’d be doing. This meant you trotted into school without one complaint and sat down and played with Isabelle, said goodbye and didn’t even watch me leave. When I got into the foyer I heard you start to cry but Miss Brown was ever so nice and I could hear her comfort you and tell you that you were being a brave boy, to which you agreed. 

I left and walked home, sobbing all the way. I felt dreadful. I felt terrible that I’d lied to you. I envisaged all manner of scenarios where this lie would unravel and really hurt you. I knew the teachers would probably say it was a terrible thing to do, and that by doing so I was going to mess you up mentally forever. I just thought, in that moment, that it’d make it easier for both of us and help you through the session.

On picking you up we had no tears, thogh you certainly looked like you had been crying. The teacher told me that you had a few wobbles through the morning and that unless you were with one of them, or absorbed in something, then you become a bit lost and they are the moments you wobbled. This made me feel terrible. I hate the thought that you feel lonely, lost and sad. I wanted school to be a positive and fun experience. I wanted you to love it. I just wish you had a couple of your friends in your class, I thought you’d make a friend quicker. I thought lots of things, I hoped for lots of things and although I know that you will find your place eventually, I really hoped it’d come easier to you.

The teacher said that you sat beautifully for story time and enjoyed the book and although you sat for snacks, you didn’t eat anything. You made gingerbread men and must have done some drawing at some point because you were covered in orange pen today. Song time was a bit of a disappointment as you angrily announced that you weren’t allowed to sing Jingle Bells because Miss Brown said it wasn’t Christmas anymore. I said that next time you should ask for Wind the Bobbin Up or Wheels on the Bus. You got 1 sticker today for helping tidy up.


We went home and you said you had fun but didn’t want to go back and asked if I’d stayed in the car, I knew this lie would come back and bite me, I really didn’t want to have to continue the bloody thing. Anyway, we went home and made your reward chart and stuck all your stickers on it and here’s hoping for a more successful session on Friday.


Dear God, let it get easier. I’m not sure my nerves can cope with much more of this. I actually don’t know who dreads it more, you or me?

The 3rd Party

On Saturday 26th November you had your birthday party to celebrate you turning 3 years old.

I don’t think I’ll ever find these stress free but it was all worth it in the end. It would appear the party was a hit, you and your friends seemed to enjoy yourself and there were no major traumas.

For months now you have wanted a pirate theme and I had such amazing and wonderful ideas for it. As we had to hire a room at the Parkhouse Centre a lot of these ideas weren’t possible but I tried to make the room look as bright as I could with pirate flags, banners and bunting alongside the inflatable palm trees and LOTS of balloons that Coral immediately gathered up into one giant cluster which became the most sought after item of the party.


We had hired some equipment from the toy library for the day, you had the whirligig (which was Luka’s firm favourite), the Thomas roller coaster (which everyone fought over), a big slide and a ball pit. The latter I actually got in for the babies to use but it soon became apparent that none of you are too old for some pit action, especially you who went running towards it and dive bombed into it, much to everyone’s surprise, not least your father.

The pass the parcel wasn’t as successful this year, there were only a few that actually sat down patiently for the whole thing, everytime the parcel came to you I had to wrestle the parcel out of your vice like grip because you thought it was your present and wouldn’t grasp the concept that it was for everyone. In the end we opened one of your other presents just to stop you sulking. A famous Lesley Gore song sprung to mind in that instant.


The Guests:
Coral, Mila, Luka, Leo & Toby, Roo & Harvey, Grayson & Cooper, Finn, Blake, Theo & Sandy, Connor

The Food:

I kept this to a minimum this year as there was so much waste last year. We had Cheese sandwiches, Marmite sandwiches and Ham sandwiches. Crudités and houmous. Cheese straws. Bread sticks. Crisps. Fruit. Matchsticks. Chocolate coins littered the table for treasure and of course the cake.

Gemma had made the most amazing fruit bowl out of a melon which got an awful lot of attention, she is very clever.


The Cake:

I’d spent a long time deciding on a cake and settled on a 3 dimensional Pirate Ship which I’ll write a separate post about as a few people have asked for details. As it goes it wasn’t that horrific to do in the end but it didn’t quite look how I had it in my mind’s eye, but for a first attempt I was quite pleased with how it turned out. Besides, you loved it and that was the best and biggest compliment I could have ever got.


I love you my beautiful boy. Happy Party Day.

Happy 3rd Birthday

It still amazes me that you have been part of our lives for a whole three years already. On one hand it seems like you’ve always been part of my life and I can’t remember what life was like without you being in it and yet on the other hand it only feels like yesterday that you were born.

Everyday you amaze us, everyday you bring such joy and happiness to our lives, everyday I’m so thankful that we’ve been blessed with you, our gorgeous, most precious gift. You continue to thrive, you are developing the most wonderful personality which can be both brilliant, and not quite so much. You are stubborn and headstrong, kind, loving and caring in equal measures.

Today (Tuesday) you turned three and the pure delight on your face when you opened the door to the lounge and saw all your presents and balloons was just magical. You’ve been telling anyone who’ll listen that you are turning three (p: fwee) for weeks now and today is the day.


We are having a family day today as you’re having a party on Saturday so that your friends can all come. Despite you waking up with a stinking cold, the day started (early, as is the norm) with opening your main presents from us (the rest hadn’t arrived, despite paying extra to get them here on time), Uncle Daniel, Auntie and Auntie Ann and a bit later in the morning (at a more socially acceptable time) your Granny and Grandad came to help you celebrate and brought you their gifts then we had a wander into town and had a birthday tea cake at Wroes where everyone wished you a happy birthday. You were so in awe.


Because the weather wasn’t that great in the afternoon we all went to Splash and you had your very first Waves session with Daddy. You delighted in jumping over the waves and kept shaking off Daddy’s protective hand because you wanted to be a big boy and do it yourself. Daddy also swallowed his fears and took you on the slide, to say you loved it is a real understatement, we heard you screaming and laughing from the moment you sat down at the top to the moment you shot out the bottom shouting “More! More!”, it was truly delightful watching you having such a wonderful time and I’m so glad Granny and Grandad got to see it too.

 

I think the excitement took its toll on you mind, because at the end of swimming however, you suddenly felt really poorly so we got you dressed and took you home. I think you’d probably drunk a bit too much pool water, along with your water and it made you feel a bit icky, by the time we got home you were feeling a little better.

Back at home we had a little birthday tea with Granny and Grandad and we sang you Happy Birthday and gave you your first  (of two) cake. I made the same as I did for your first birthday so that you could have slice. Once more you delighted in blowing out the candles so I had to relight them… several times.


The Presents:

From Mummy and Daddy:

  • Playmobil Pirate Ship
  • Pop up Pirate
  • Jigsaws
  • Pirate costume
  • Jim Jams
  • Dressing Gown
  • Playdoh


Auntie:

  • Playmobil Fire Engine

Auntie Ann:

  • Playmobil Ambulance

Uncle Dan, Auntie Sam, Ella and Tommy:

  • Playdoh Icecream Treats
  • Playdoh Cake Party
  • Playdoh Sweet Shoppe Cookie Creations

Uncle Simon & Auntie Jacqueline:

  • £££

Andrea:

  • £££

Great Granny Pat:

  • £££

Granny & Grandad:

  • Playmobil Landscaper
  • Dinosaurs
  • Personalised Bag Chain

Gemma, Seb, Leo and Toby:

  • Playdoh Activity Table
  • Pirates Sticker Book

All in all it was a quietly busy and successful day and all I hope is that you enjoyed every minute of it my beautiful, darling boy.

We love you to the moon and back, and beyond.