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

My (Second) Birth Story

We have now welcomed our amazing, beautiful little girl into the world and here is how it happened.

I suppose I should start where my last post left off, where the induction is concerned…

Thanks to the lateness of the appointment we managed to get DS nicely settled before we had to go. G came round at 1900 to watch him and off we went.

We arrived at hospital at 2030 and waited in maternity triage. About 2130 we got called through onto triage and met Kirsty the MW who would be looking after me at this stage of the induction process. 

She explained that I’d have to be monitored for half an hour then have a VE, a scan to check Baby was head down and then I’d have a pessary inserted to soften cervix and that this would be in for 24 hours before being taken to labour ward and put on the hormone drip, Syntocinon if nothing happened beforehand!!!

24 hours?

We don’t have childcare for more than tonight and tomorrow!!!

Cue panic and begging to just go straight on drop. She said that unless I was ‘favourable‘ then I would have to have the pessary.

The next hour I spent pleading silently with my cervix that it would be favourable.

Thankfully I was, it was. I was 6cm dilated so given the news that I’d go straight down to labour ward and onto the hormone drip as soon as they were ready for me which should be an hour or so so we tried to grab an hour’s shut eye, it was gone midnight by this point.


A lovely MW called Georgie came and fetched us about 0130 and immediately we got on. Her little boy Charlie was born 5 days after DS so we instantly had plenty to talk about.

We were settled into birthing room number 5 and brought teas and coffees to keep us going, we were both pretty exhausted by this point.

At about 0230 a doctor came to fit a cannula and the drip was fitted and activated by about 0300 and Georgie assured me baby would be here by 6!!

This wasn’t the case.

Despite having regular and strong (according to the machines) contractions everyone was amazed that I just couldn’t feel anything. All I can explain it as was a tightening of my outer stomach muscles like you get with a TENS machine, nothing deep within

I went from 2ml/hour to 4, to 8, to 12 then back down to 8 to prevent too many.

At this point Georgie mentioned that she thought she had felt what could have been an ear when she examined me meaning that Peanut’s head could be slightly turned meaning it wasn’t properly engaged and pushing onto my cervix thus causing this stalled progress.

If this continued then I was aware that there was a very real possibility of me having to have a c-sec.

I continued to bounce on the birthing ball, walk around the room and when OH discovered a wireless speaker behind the curtain we put on some music so I started to dance quite vigorously to desperately try and shift baby’s head.


At approximately 0750 as Georgie neared the end of her shift she told me she was going to crank up the hormone and upped it to 16 then her replacement, Lynne, turned up and she handed over to her.

We were so lucky with midwives as Lynne, too was a great laugh and we managed to have a bit of a chat about my birth plan and what my preferences were.

At 0840 the first proper contraction hit and boy it was a doozy. I literally went from 0-1000 in one contraction. Lynne asked what position I’d like to be in and I replied not on my back between pelvis cracking contraction pains. At this point she got me on the bed where I climbed up and onto my knees grabbing the handrails on the ‘back’ of the bed.

I heard her tell me to push when I felt the urge which I was amazed about as thought I can’t have dilated that quickly but within a contraction I heard her opening the delivery pack and I was pushing.

Within half an hour, at 0913 I birthed Peanut’s head and two minutes later, at 0915 I gave birth.

It took a few seconds for her to cry which felt like a lifetime then a sobbing OH told me it was a girl!!!

That moment will be etched on my brain forever. 

A girl. 

Our family is complete. 

No pain relief but yogic breathing and a natural (barring the hormone induction) birth with no intervention. I felt every single centimetre of her descent, of her crowning and of her being born, a sensation I didn’t have with DS due to having put myself in some zen like state for the labouring hours and having been deadened ‘down there’ due to an episiotomy. Although I never got to have the water birth I would have so liked I couldn’t have asked for a better outcome, all considered.

Although having another boy would have been absolutely fine with me I think I possibly would have felt the need to try for another and with our advancing years and the time it takes us to conceive and with the risks of more miscarriages and complications due to my age I think the risks of doing so need to be considered. We’ve successfully rolled the dice twice now with a perfect outcome each time, and even though in an ideal world I would have loved three children, it’s time I stopped tempting fate and now we have one of each I don’t feel a need to risk it. 

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.