Sunday, December 11, 2011

Damsons. And an admission.

We got loads of Damsons/Plums this year, and they were delicious! I made some damson compote, too, we use it in our porridge, on pancakes, bread... And I froze some and put some into jars... 
We gave lots of them away to friends, and there are still a good few on the tree, a real bumper harvest! It's been a real fruit year, so we got to eat lots of delicious fruit that we'd never have bought in the shops (fruit are quite expensive here). Redcurrants, gooseberries, tiny strawberries, blackberries and plums did well, our cherry tree had all of four cherries, three of which were eaten by the birds!

...This post has been half written for a good two months! I have been finding it very hard lately, just getting through the day and putting dinner on the table. I've been diagnosed with osteoporosis, lost yet more weight and am still nursing my gorgeous boy, I feel very, very drained! I haven't really written anything, or knit or made. Ti is crawling and cruising and Emm is her usual energetic self, and sometimes not as kind as I'd like, to her little brother, so 100% attention at all times is required, then in the evening I seem to catch up with housework and paperwork and then fall into bed or stare at the TV for an hour. I might have to take a break from blogging!

I know there are a few of you that read my few and far between posts, stay tuned I hope to be back when the childrearing has become a little easier, or when I'm back to work! Lunchbreaks and commutes should facilitate some writing!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Friday, October 14, 2011


Here the girls are 'camping' in the garden, with sofa cushions,
crochet blankets and a lot of teddies.

Friday, September 16, 2011

nature tray

Today we played with and arranged the treasures from yesterday's
'nature walk'. Emm had fun, I think! So glad we got that walk in
yesterday, when we had glorious sunshine, today has been terrible, it
was bucketing down!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Afternoon on the beach

a few hours of sand and sunshine

less than a week...

then myself and the kids will be off to Germany! I'm feeling weird about it, we're going for five weeks this time! P was supposed to get two weeks of work to come along towards the end, but now it looks like he can only get one. We'll really be missing him! 

It's weird leaving the house behind for five weeks, too, here I am struggling every day to keep the place tidy, and as clean as necessary, and to cook nutritious tasty meals, and to carve out as much time as possible for cuddles and playing. To go home to stay in the little apartment attached to my parents' house, a bedroom, bathroom and sitting room, no kitchen! With virtually no cleaning or cooking  and in theory endless time to spend with my kids and family, but in practice there'll be a bit of a struggle between my mum and me, her trying to be my mum and do it all, and me trying to be a good daughter and try and do as much as I can... It was a bit like this two years ago (less so last year as all day morning sickness, a stomach bug and crazy hot weather had me weak as a kitten most of the time!). I love my parents to bits, yet to actually be under their roof for an extended period of time always turns out to be much more idyllic in my head. But coming home for five weeks is something I feel I owe my parents, a chance to get to know their grandchildren. And for Ti and Emm to play with their cousins, and to make a connection to their mum's country and language. I'll be able to do it this year and next, and then my break will be over! 

I am looking forward to it though, especially as my sister is due a baby at the end of next week! 

This weekend will be outings, and takeout, and I will try and fill the freezer with some more nice dinners on Monday and Tuesday, so my poor abandoned husband won't be eating frozen pizzas every night! And then I have to pack the suitcase and nappy bag, and mentally prepare to flying with a toddler and a baby (It was hard enough last year, with just Emm, this time I have two, and Ti has just started solids, and found his voice, and using it to screech and shout a lot! 

There's also the Neurology appointment for him, on Tuesday, I have some niggling concerns about his development, but am hoping it's all within the range of normal. It's a routine check up appointment because of his 'abnormal eye movements' in March. Thankfully those have disappeared since the last check up, but it just made me a lot more aware of any possible problems... 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

the garden

Reading this I was longing for a farm, and a serious vegetable garden (and proper summers!). 

We're not serious gardeners and put very little work in, but our tiny 30x30ft garden grows lavender, rosemary, thyme, oregano, chives, parsley, sage and bay; damsons, cherries (about 10 cherries on the tree this year, 9 eaten by birds, one shared excitedly!) gooseberries (green and red), elderberries, blackberries, redcurrants, some alpine strawberries and rhubarb. There's also a small vegetable patch with potatoes, pak choi, garlic, swiss chards, radishes and a few different kinds of beans. Only enough for a little taste, but fun, nonetheless. We have flowers, too, lilac, marigolds, nasturtiums, mexican orange blossom, giant daisies. On this little patch of garden we also have a two ducks, a small duckhouse, a shed, a lawn, two clothes lines, a pebbled path and a wood chipped patio, a few chairs, a bench, a small table, a swing seat and a little slide for Emm. 

Sometimes I crave the serene tidiness of other peoples landscaped gardens, but then, I love being out in ours! Pulling the odd weed, feeding the ducks, hanging out the laundry, looking for a little contribution to dinner... And while some of our friends have lots of brightly coloured toys in their little outdoor space, Emm seems to always find something to do in ours! Looking for eggs, and berries, examining pebbles and plants, drawing with chalk, having picnics, sliding, driving her little car and loading up the trailer, playing with a bowl of water and some cups... 

It's our connection to nature, unusual and a little messy, but fun, and relaxing, and ours!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

visiting the grandparents

We're back from a nice and relaxed visit with the grandparents, to
admire the new 6pd 4oz girl cousin, and to see off P's brother, who is
going to Canada for a year.The kids had such a great time again, they
love each other so much! Emm's two big cousins were fighting over who
got to sit next to her, for every meal! We're hoping to have the two
of them over for a sleepover next week, to give their parents and tiny
new sister a little babymoon time.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Emm's birthday present for her little friend

This was a last minute project. Emm drew on coloured paper with her favourite pencils ('Stabilo 3-in-1') then we printed some photos from a playdate (using a polaroid 'pogo' printer) and stuck them on. She picked some decorations and sparkly bits and we stuck them onto the picture, and onto an IKEA 'NITTYA' frame.
Her friend shouted "I love it, I love it!" when she unwrapped it.
Happy faces all round!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

freshly picked recurrants


Emm's getting to the age where playdates are starting to slowly go
from really hard work to a pleasure to watch!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Emm's arrival

I was searching my blog and realised I hadn't posted Emm's birth story before! Thankfully I still had it saved in an email, so here it is!

This is the story of my 4 hour labour, using TENS and 'gas and air', no epidural. During pregnancy I listened to a relaxation CD, did antenatal yoga and generally tried to stay as positive as possible! one of the things I kept telling myself was that I was going to go a few days early and have a quick and easy labour, and it worked! 

The last week before my due date I was getting quite fed up with being pregnant, and started to go for long walks, and to 'hang' over my gym ball while watching DVDs. 5 days before the due date I got a pedicure, cheery bright pink toenails. I went for a walk, had a green thai curry, a small glass of red wine and a relaxing bath and went to bed really relaxed, although i didn't sleep well as thoughts of my whole life changing soon went through my head. 

I woke up at 3.30am with wet knickers, but there wasn't a big puddle or anything, so i wasn't on high alert, i went to the bathroom for a wee and at that point i realised that maybe this was really it! deciding not to panic just yet i went back to bed, but soon felt another little bit of liquid, so got up again and put in a sanitary pad. i woke my husband, who sleepily said that i might want to call the midwives, which i did. we called them around 4, i think, they asked did i have contractions and when i said no i was advised to come in at 8 in the morning to get checked out. my husband went back to sleep, and i tried to do the same, but was too excited. after a while i started to notice contractions. i went for a shower and they were getting stronger. i found the hot shower really good for the contractions.

When i came out i phoned the midwives again, and they said to come in at eight unless i found the contractions hard to cope with or they come regularly for about 2 hours. i asked my husband to get the TENS machine, which unfortunately we hadn't looked at before! there were quite a few different modes and levels on it, but after a while we figured out the two for contractions and in between contractions, and i used them at level one.

At some point i got sick, but i didn't bring up any food, just liquid. i found sitting on the toilet to be comfortable, i actually thought i needed to go, but in hindsight that was probably the pressure from the baby's head! the other position i liked was on my knees, i knelt in front of the bed and also on an armchair. my husband offered me the relaxation CDs but i didn't want them, i was too busy breathing deeply and staying calm! i tried to remember as much as i could from my antenatal yoga classes, while reciting some of the affirmations from the CD in my head.

I don't remember actual times, but i know by half 6 i found it harder to cope with the contractions. i tried to find a comfortable position and found on my knees, rocking my pelvis, to be good, i spent some time kneeling on one of the armchairs, holding on to the back of it. i also tried hanging onto my husband, the smell of his jumper really calmed me down and made me feel safe, but i was too conscious of being heavy and didn't want to lean on him too much. i sent him around the house to throw the last few things into my hospital bag, get a towel for the car seat and to hurry. we phoned the hospital to say we were coming in and finally were ready to go at 7.

Luckily we were going against morning traffic! i don't remember much about the drive, except, a morcheeba CD playing, using the TENS machine and an unplanned stop. after hearing all the stories of people arriving in hospital being told that those pains were nothing yet, i didn't want to go too high up on the TENS settings, i stuck to 1 and 2 while we were in the car. on the motorway my husband started asking about exits, but i was kind of busy breathing through my contractions, so i couldn't help him! he took one exit too early, but that was OK, as the pressure was getting so strong, i had to get off the seat! i got him to pull over and i got on my knees in front of the passenger seat, leaning with my arms on the seat. the urge to push was getting really strong but i remembered about panting, thank god, and got busy doing that, while my husband made his way through the town. i was getting a little worried about how strong the contractions were but felt quite calm and sure that everything was going OK.

We got to the hospital and my husband drove right up to the hospital entrance, in between two contractions i got out of the car and he went off to park it (thankfully they let him park only a few meters away). I got just about through the double doors and the next contraction hit and i was on my hands and knees panting and groaning. it was about half 7 and some midwives were arriving for their shift, they asked 'are you all right?' and i said 'i need to get to the maternity ward!' they were really quick and got me a wheelchair and i was being whisked away to the elevators. At this point I was using the 3rd out of the 5 TENS machine settings. we got out at the normal delivery ward and when i saw the sign on the door i shouted 'sorry, no, MLU please!' back we went to the elevator, where my husband had now arrived as well.

In the MLU i got out of the wheelchair and onto the bed, again on my hands and knees (lying on my back just didn't occur to me!), and a midwife examined me. She declared me 9 cm and i was just so glad that this was really labour! She also listened to the baby's heart beat, which was going strong. There was no time to fill the lovely big bath tub. The midwives got a birthing mat and a bean bag out, and i leaned on the bean bag rotating my hips like i'd learned in yoga class, and keeping my voice in the lower registers, again a tip from my yoga teacher and from the book 'ina may's guide to childbirth'. I asked for gas and air, and loved it! especially as the TENS machine stopped working when one ofthe patches came loose on my back! instead of relief it was delivering little shocks! i don't know how many more contractions there were, but it all happened quite fast. a midwive said 'we're gonna see this baby real soon'. The pushing lasted about 20 minutes, i think that's what it said in my notes. It wasn't so much that I was pushing, it was more my womb pushing the baby out, there was nothing i could do to stop it and nothing i could have done to make the pushing stronger, i was just doing my groaning and lowing and breathing the gas and air! i felt a burning sensation and the head was born, a full head of dark hair. with the next push (i don't know exactly, to be honest, but it all went very fast) she was coming out kicking and screaming and she was bright pink (apgar scores 10)! She was 6 pounds 7 ounces (2.920 kg) and born at 8.20 am.

my little one was rubbed dry and i turned around and she was put on my chest. I had requested to let the cord stop pulsating before cutting it (even reminded the midwife about 'expectently managed third stage' in between pushes) but there was some confusion because of my negative rhesus factor and I got the injection! I wasn't too happy about this, but I probably would have needed the injection anyways, as I had a little bleed. The placenta was delivered soon after. I had a 2nd degree tear and a doctor (the first gynae i saw during the whole pregnancy!) came to do the stitches. I was on the bed for those, with a blanket over me and my little girl, to keep us warm, and a midwife helped me put her to my breast. I held on to the gas and air for the stitches, and i got a second injection because the bleed hadn't quite stopped.

When the gynae was finished with the stitches, I got some lovely tea and toast, and then, while my husband held our daughter, i went for a nice hot shower and after that my husband and i spent the next few hours looking at our gorgeous daughter in wonder!

these are the things that i think worked for me: 
- antenatal yoga 
- relaxation CD ('gentlebirth') 
- staying calm and relaxed during labour
- staying leaning forward during labour 
- hot shower 
- gas and air
- being on my hands and knees for the pushing stage
- making all the sounds i felt i needed to make, no matter how silly they might sound 
- trusting my body to do its thing

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Ti's arrival

I finally finished writing his birth story, although, four and a half months on, a lot of the fine detail is already blurry.

In the last week before birth, I often caught P looking at me funny, and often when I said 'I'm 38 weeks, that could mean it'll be another 4 weeks before we meet the baby!' he'd answer 'I think it'll be a matter of days, rather than weeks.' Apparently my behaviour changed, and I'd often be a bit 'spaced', sometimes I'd flush and complain about the heat in the room quite suddenly, and there were increasingly vivid nightmares and dreams. 

In the last days before Ti's arrival I crossed the last few important things off my mental to do list, like doing the pediatric first aid course I'd signed up for, spending a fun day with Emm, and getting her feet measured, and I realised I felt ready and calm now (even though I still had about 2 weeks to go to the due date). Instead of cleaning and tidying, which was badly needed, I curled up on the sofa with the laptop, and wrote shopping lists and updated the document I'd written for who would end up minding Emm while we were going to Hospital, and printed the labour document that my yoga teacher from the last pregnancy had written. We went to bed quite late, but even so, I decided to put on the hypnobirthing tracks and listen to them as I went to sleep. I woke up when it was already on the last track, the relaxation music, and switched it off. Straight back to sleep I had some more vivid dreams.

Around a quarter past three Emm. woke up and I got out of bed to bring her back to hers and lift her in. As I got up from kneeling in front of her bed I felt a trickle of fluid. I went to the bathroom and was pretty sure my waters had started to go! I spent half an hour getting pads, checking everything was in the hospital bag and reading the TENS machine instructions, and plugging in the cables. As there still was no sign of contractions I went back to bed, too excited to really sleep but wisely getting some rest while I could
At 4.25 I felt a tiny contraction, with a little gush of fluid, and knew it was time to act. I woke P, and called the midwives 5 minutes later. They said to come in, but not to rush or panic. P and I debated whether we should call my neighbour straight away and decided to wait till five, unless I got contractions beforehand. He had a shave, and I a wash (I didn't want to risk a shower as that had really kick started my contractions the last time, and we did want to be sure to make it in time!) We got the bags downstairs, and got Emm's buggy and nappy bag ready. 

At 5, just as I'd called my neighbour to come over, I got another bit of fluid, and just before she arrived 15 minutes later, I got the first contraction! I stayed kneeling on a pillow, leaning over my birth ball. My brilliantly efficient neighbour made us some tea and toast while P put the TENS machine pads on my back and put the bags and some towels into the car. I got to grips with the TENS settings and plugged my headphones in, for the hypnobirthing tracks on my phone. We had a little chat about Emm and what she would make of it all, and she reassured me that labour and birth would go just fine. Just as P and I were about to get into the car, around half six, Emm woke up! We said good bye and told her where we were headed and that she would go across the road for a play date. She was alright with it all, even though we could tell she found it all very confusing, being let out of the house in her pyjamas while it was pitch dark outside! 

I started to get very irritable in the car, but the half hour journey passed quickly while I concentrated on the contractions and listened to the gentlebirth tracks. Outside the hospital I got out at the door while P parked the car. I stood and waited when a porter asked if I needed a wheelchair. I was being all polite saying 'No thanks, I'm fine' when the next contraction arrived and I quickly changed my mind. By the time P got back to me I already sat in a wheelchair, feeling rather fragile! 

When we arrived at the birthing room I got even more irritated, realising the nurse I didn't like and the midwife that annoyed me both were on duty. She asked to examine me, (The examination was worse than any of the contractions) and said I was only 3 cm dilated and the baby was with its back to my back. I got up from the lying down position as soon as I was allowed, I seem to not be able to bear lying down on my back when I'm in labour. I started to get a little worried at this point. With Emm I'd arrived in hospital 9 cm dilated and didn't feel much different to now! How would I cope with hours and hours of contractions this strong?

Back labour can take a long time, so I sent P off to find cheaper parking for the car, and worried some more about how long this labour was going to last. The midwife asked lots of questions and she was a bit hard of hearing, so I had to repeat myself, I was getting more and more irritable.  Thankfully P came back soon. I got to kneel / sit on my feet on the bed, starting to feel unbearably hot, and getting dizzy. P helped me to the bathroom to go for a wee, and i was starting to feel sick on top of dizzy. The contractions were coming quite regularly, I'm not sure how far apart, maybe 3 minutes? My TENS machine was still doing its job. 

I wanted to use the beanbags and mat, so the midwives had all this set up by the time I came back into the room. (This must have been around 8, as that is when they change shifts, so there were several midwives) I leaned sideways on a beanbag for a few contractions, feeling very dizzy and spaced in between. The cables of TENS machine and headphones were annoying me, and at some point I handed P the phone and headphones.

The midwives asked did I want gas and air and a few times I said 'No, it's too early, I'll try to wait', turning up the TENS machine a little and breathing as calmly as I could, very much in my own head and taking very little notice of anything around me, coping well with the contractions

I thought I was going to be sick and P handed me a bowl, but I didn't bring anything up. 
Then I felt a very strong contraction, where I moaned loudly and asked for the gas and air. I turned to a sitting position, leaning back into the beanbag. I felt a strong urge to push. I sucked the gas and air. The midwives said 'you can push now', I said 'but you said I'm only 3cm! It's too early' They assured me I was OK. I wanted to turn to kneel and lean on the beanbag, but I somehow couldn't and stayed sitting. 

I kept very calm and breathed deeply and let the baby come down with the next few contractions, taking gas and air with each. I never held my breath, just breathed. I felt the burning sensation and blew out the air gently and breathed slowly, and the head was born, and with the next contraction my little boy was out! At 8.15, pink and screaming, and clean like just out of the bath! The midwives dried him off a little and put him on my belly. After the cord had finished pulsing they clamped it, and the proud dad got to cut the cord. I brought my baby boy up to my breast and after a minute or so he started to suckle. The contractions were quite painful, and the placenta came out soon, no oxitocin shot needed.
Like I'd been warned, the afterpains were much more painful than with my first birth! I held on to the gas and air for a bit, and especially for when the midwife checked for tears. Thankfully I just had some superficial grazes and a small first degree tear, and needed no stitches. They said I did really well, and asked if I did yoga. (I had only done 5 or so yoga classes this time around, but still remembered a lot from my last pregnancy, and I think the gentlebirth CDs helped a lot, too) I remember being told that I was 'very controlled, breathing the baby down very controlled and gently'. The student midwife was especially enthusiastic and looked really happy.

I spent a long time leaning back into the bean bag, my husband holding my hand, my boy cuddled close to me, him drinking, then sleeping, then drinking again. We had a blanket over him to keep us warm. At some point I was getting too uncomfortable and asked to go to the bed. P took our boy and put a nappy and clothes on him. A midwife weighed him, 7pds 4 oz! 

Seeing the clean sheets on the bed I decided to have a shower first, and it was great to have the shower room ensuite. I stayed in the shower for as long as I could, but my legs started to feel tired after a while, so I quickly dried off, put clean clothes on and got into bed. A nurse brought tea and toast, and apart from the breathtakingly painful afterpains I was quite chipper and awake! I finally took the nurses up on the offer of painkillers, as I still had to 'breathe through' each contraction. 

It took P and me a good while to decide on the name, as we had a shortlist, and had to look at him, and try out the names, before we were sure which one was right. As he looked so wise and thoughtful we decided on Tadhg (poet). It was lovely to have the hour, or was it more, with naked little Ti on my belly straight after the birth, we were very much left in peace by the staff. 

What could have been better? 

- The midwife examining me should have given me a choice of how I wanted to be examined, I wouldn't be surprised if I had been more than 3cm when I arrived, and tightened up a little when I had to lie back and endure the painful examination. When I arrived at the hospital for Emm's birth I already had a strong urge to push and just didn't lie down but knelt on all fours on the bed, and that hadn't been painful.

- Being told that I was 3cm sent me into a bit of a panic, as I'd felt further along before, and worried about many hours ahead of me, with the baby facing the wrong way, too. I think I would have done better if I hadn't known, and maybe quicker, too. I very much felt in transition shortly after the exam, so I'm slightly doubtful if I really was only 3cm dilated. 
It also worried me when so soon after I was told to push, because that number was still going through my mind. It might have helped if I had been reassured that I could be dilating very fast and that indeed I should allow myself to bear down. 

- Being asked lots of questions by a midwife that's a good two or three meters away, repeatedly, because she can't hear the answers, is very irritating for a labouring woman. A hearing aid, coming closer, or waiting for my husband would have helped. A lot of those questions could have been answered by my husband. 

- There was no shower head, and while i was able to 'hose myself down' with hot water, a proper shower would have been so much better! Apparently it's some new regulation to do with legionars' disease...

What was good?

I was privileged, not many women in Ireland get the choice to have this kind of birth, and I'm greatful to have had access to the great 'Midwifery Led Unit'. 

- a healthy baby boy with not a scratch on him, knowing he arrived gently and with noboby pulling at him

- being able to stay in the one room, for labour, birth and afterwards. I can't imagine how painful and stressful it must be to move to a different ward to give birth when contractions are so close together, and then to move again afterwards.

-being able to move around and chose my positions

-TENS, gentlebirth, and some gas and air towards the end

-knowing my husband wasn't going to be upset with me being irritable! 

-being able to breathe the baby down gently, and getting no tears! 

-my wishes regarding cord clamping, cutting and third stage management being respected this time. 

about 45 min old

about 12 hours old

about 36 hours old and home with his sister