The A-Z of my first year as a mammy

Xander is 13 months old now (!) so I thought that I would compile a list of some of my feelings, experiences and other odds and ends…..

  • A is for adoration,amazement and awe.

My overriding emotion this past year has been pure awe that I produced this miraculous little munchkin. Still not quite sure how that happened. Yeah I know how he got in there,and I definitely recall his entrance to the world,but I haven’t yet got over how amazing he is.

  • B is for beautiful.

I may be biased but my little boy was the most beautiful baby and is now growing into being a very cute little toddler.

  • C is for cuddles.

So many snuggles,hugs and squishes. I’m banking them up for when he’s 13 and doesn’t want any!

  • D is for dummies.

We didn’t want to use them,now we have ones in the shape of moustaches and lips. Strangely proud moment when Xander learnt how to put his dodie in his own mouth. Now to teach him to do it at 2am!

  • E is for excitement.

I get so excited whenever Xander learns how to do something new. His latest achievement is walking with his push-train.

  • F is for fear.

I spent a lot of the first weeks in fear.Was I feeding him enough? Was he sleeping too much /too little?  Did his cord look ok? Would I drown him if I bathed him? What did his different cries mean?. These have quietened over the months as me and Xander have got to know each other and I have learnt baby skills.

  • G is for gratitude.

Me and Chris waited 4.5 years for Xander. He is a little whirlwind of mischeviousness that enriches every part of our lives.

  • H is for hope.

In the early days,hope that there was more to motherhood than crying, pooing and constant boobing.   Now hopeful optimism and looking forward to the toddler years!

  • I is for innocence.

Childish innocence is beyond adorable. Seeing Xander’s eyes light up when he plays with a new toy or learns something and looks so proud of himself warms my heart.

  • J is for jumperoo.

The amazing baby activity centre to entertain your little one. Other notable baby items include the bumbo seat,stacking cups,a fish slice,a water bottle,a pastry brush, a pan and a box lid. And yes I know most of them are not strictly baby toys. My Xander is a funny little onion.

  • K is for kids

…and not just my own. I know so many little monsters nowadays and their different little personalities and likes and dislikes is so interesting to watch.

  • L is for love.

I am fairly astonished by the amount of love I have for my baby. I didn’t know I had it in me! I always thought that I wasn’t a very maternal person and didn’t know when I was younger if I even wanted to be a mother. I now cant imagine not being one!

  • M is for milky boobs.

The first few months were controlled by milky boobs and everything centred around 2-3 hourly feed times. Now,we can be more flexible but Xander still loves his booby milk….long may it continue!

  • N is for nappies.

So many nappies! When Xander was first born we changed his bum every time he wanted fed….in those first few weeks that was every hour…we soon cottoned on and started to use less. We now use both disposables and cloth bums and find it works well for us having the combination.

  • O is for oblivious.

This one is for the daddies and how they can sometimes be oblivious to things which mammies are not….like sticky fingers, bills that need paying, not having enough wipes, bin being full. Luckily Chris is very supportive and does his fair share in the house and with Xander. There’s still things he doesn’t even seem to see though!

  • P is for parenting

You think you know in your head what type of parent you are going to be. You don’t. But its ok. We went with the flow and although its different from what we expected it suits us down to the ground.

  • Q is for quality.

I have been very lucky to have 13 months of time which I have been able to devote entirely to my little man, I am very grateful for this special quality time.

  • R is for rocking chair.

I got my Ikea rocker second hand when Xander was a couple of months old and it was great. This was before I figured out how to breastfeed lying down and it made all the difference. No more nights sat on a hard uncomfortable chair!

  • S is sick.

The first time Xander projectile vomited was a panicky moment. Then it happens a few days later….and you’re over it. Unless its a continual sickness its not a worry.

  • T is for toes.(and fingers!)

This little piggy went to market, round and round the garden, tommy thumb. Xander loves little rhymes and loves getting his feet tickled. Plus I just love baby toes!

  • U is for umbilical cord.

No one can describe quite how disgusting they get before they fall off. When Xanders finally fell off I was so grossed out by it I didn’t even want to touch it to put it in the bin!

  • V is for Victory!

I got this far….he’s still alive…and seems to be doing well. Yeay me and Chris!

  • W is for whining.

Xander is one now and we are entering the whining phase. When he wants attention and he’s not getting it Xander can do a good old whine. So we are now going through a phase of ‘no its not all about you Xander….!

  • X is for Xander

Goes without saying!

  • Y is for yummy.

Weaning is great fun but if you have a baby like Xander who likes to throw food also very very messy! Xander loves food especially cheese and tomatoes. He also loves smearing food all over his face and magicking it so that it reappears 6 hours later behind his ears that had been cleaned.

  • Z is for zzzzz….

I’ve had many a sleepless night ( 2.5 hours a night for 4 weeks anyone?!) since Xander was born and foresee many in the future with teething, childhood illnesses, potty training etc. but I’m no longer as daunted by tiredness as I once was. Bring it on!

What were your biggest emotions/thoughts/words of your child’s first year? Comment below!

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A year of firsts

Born
One minute…. first cry
Two minutes…. first cuddles with mammy
Five minutes…. first meets daddy
Ten min…. meets nana barney
Half hour…. first weight measurement
One hour…. first breast feed followed by first sleep
12 hours old…. first pooey nappy
19 hours old…. met grandma Mavis
Two days old…. first car trip and first day home
Two and a bit days old…. met uncle Chris, auntie Hel, nana Rosie and granddad George
Three days old…. first top and tail
8 days old…. first bath
9 days old…. first trip round local streets
10 days old…. first trip supermarket
11 days old…. first baby group
16 days old…. first meal out pizza express
17 days old….first nature walk
3 weeks old…. first left alone with just daddy
One month old…. first took expressed milk from bottle, first smiled and chuckled, first baby wearing
A month and a half…. first had a dummy, first read stories together
2 months old…. first swim
3 months old…. first cold
3 months old…. first partial roll and first true giggle and first train journey, first holiday(Gretna Green)
3.5 months old….first time Xander was left for 3.5 hours with daddy
4 months old…. first trip to Santa
5 Months old…. started using cloth bums
5.5 months old…. first Christmas
6 months old…. first full roll, first solids(carrot),first babbling mamam bababa
7 months old…. first tooth bottom right hand side
7.5 months old…. sitting unaided
8 months old…. first co-sleeping for full night
8.5 months old…. first clapping, first backwards crawl
9 months old…. first time playing peekaboo by himself, first fairground ride, first time at beach
10 months old…. first time rolling toy car along floor
10.5 months old…. first crawl, first cruising along furniture, first explore (inverkip)
11 months old…. first aided steps, first beach trip, first settling in day with childminder
11.5 months old…. first beer festival, first painting, first plane flight
12 months old…. first birthday, first sugary cake

To finish….Xanders first year in numbers

7.42pm….time born
10.07.14….date born
19 hours….length of labour

7lb 8oz/23 inches….weight/length born

22lb 11.5oz/29 inches….weight/length now

What a difference a year makes…..

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Slinging my baby

More commonly known as babywearing.

Before Xander was born I thought I might babywear at some point but didn’t think too much about it,just bought a supermarket carrier and stored it away in readiness.

Just a few short weeks after he was born I quickly realised supermarket carriers may not be the best way to go. The first time we tried to use it,he was swamped. Chris was carrying him,he was too low down(definitely not within kissable distance) and his face looked squashed into daddy’s chest.  We walked down the street,we didn’t feel he was safe and promptly walked home 5 minutes later. It dawned that not all baby carriers are made equal,or were right for us.

Through my tiredness haze in the early days of mothering I somehow discovered that wraps are quite good for newborns and merrily clicked away to purchase one. It duly arrived a couple of days later and I was at first horrified by the apparent reams of material.

How was I supposed to wrap it ?

How did I make Xander secure in it?

The answer was practise. And YouTube. I watched several videos of people wrapping their children and spent a long time stood in the living room flinging bundles of cloth every which way before feeling proficient enough to actually dare insert my beloved child into the swathes. Then some further time honing my skills to ensure that was Xander sat high enough/tight enough/comfortable enough.

Getting used to babywearing
Getting used to babywearing

It was a revelation. I was soon able to do the dishes whilst babywearing. Put the washing out. Eat. Nurse. Little man was quite content being close to mammy and I had both hands free. I felt very proud walking to the shop with him in his pouch, curled up snug like a little joey.

The wrap was a miracle worker when he was a bit upset….put him in the wrap and he immediately settled. Then Xander grew bigger. He weighed more and was longer. As happens with babies this seemed to occur overnight, without me noticing. One day he was suddenly too big for the wrap,it was too stretchy for his current size and he now wriggled…..he could possibly escape!

Whilst researching different types of slings for older babies I reluctantly used the supermarket carrier. It was unwieldy and uncomfortable for us both,but useful as a stopgap. So, I asked friends,I read blogs( a good one is http://www.wrapyouinlove.com if you’re thinking of starting to babywear and http://www.nct.org.uk/parenting/sling-safety for safety guidance ), I went to a sling meet. We considered ring slings,mei tais,buckles,half buckles. I was taken with ring slings for a while but was undecided. Eventually I purchased a dotty patterned mei tai when Xander was around 9 months.

Urban explore with mei tai
Urban explore with mei tai

We love it.

It took almost no time to get the hang of tying it.

We have used it to go on short walks,to baby groups,the shops,parks,urban explores and many more times. I can walk for an hour using the mei tai and Xander will still be content.

As a mammy I now find babywearing an invaluable asset to have in my parenting toolbox. It calms Xander down being close to me. It helps him feel content and loved. It is convenient. It makes me happy having him close. It enables me to take him places I wouldn’t otherwise be able to (dense woods and wastelands are not exactly pram friendly!).

It makes sense to me.

I don’t babywear all the time. I also use the buggy a lot. The freedom to choose between the two of which is most suitable for the days activity assists me in looking after Xander.

The only question is,what next….ring sling or buckles???

The Great Bus Debacle

It happened when Xander was 3 months old.  I felt humiliated, belittled and endangered. Nothing before or since has made me feel this way as a mother.

At that age Xander was still in the carrycot part of his pram and had not progressed to the pushchair ‘sit up’ style.

This being so, his pram did not at this point, fold down. To enable any of it to fold, the carrycot had to be removed ( a two-handed job) and then the chassis could be folded.

I had made other,shorter bus journeys with Xander already, all were fine, no incidents.

On the morning in question I got the X10 bus from Gateshead bus station to Middlesbrough to visit relatives, and  there was no problem on the way there.
I put the pram in the wheelchair/buggy bay with the brakes on, and sat next to it. Xander sat on my lap. Nothing was said nor did I expect it to be.

After a lovely day seeing my nana and various aunties and cousins ( my longest solo trip so far with my newborn son) I went to get on an X10  bus to get home. There was a different driver than on the outgoing journey and I was nearly not let on the bus. The manner in which I was allowed onto the bus was traumatising.

The driver made me dismantle the whole pram, saying that they’re not supposed to let you keep them up even if they’re not folding buggies . I tried to explain to him that it was a full carrycot pram not a foldable pushchair style buggy but to no avail, he pretty much wasn’t listening to me. I explained that I had put the pram in the designated space on the first journey and that it had not obstructed anyone or caused any issues. I also explained that I did not have any other means of getting myself and my son home, and if I went to stay at a relatives house nearby I had none of his clothes, nappies, wipes, bedding or anything else. The driver shrugged and said I could fold it or get off the bus.

Nearly in tears at this point and anxious to get home, I started to try to disassemble the pram. I only managed to dismantle the pram successfully when one of the other passengers helped, as you can’t do it one handed and there was no where to put my son, who could not yet sit unaided so could not sit on a chair whilst I sorted the pram.

I then ended up sat for a nearly 90 minute journey with my small son, changing bag and handbag in my arms with my feet and legs spread out trying not to let the bits of my dismantled pram fly around the bus ( as there was no where to put them I had to try and wedge them in between seats). When the pram is in one piece the changing bag and handbag can rest on the handles. The brakes are on and its stationary. Dismantled, I ended up with 2 loose, large bits of moulded plastic, metal and material in free fall around the bus aisles and all my luggage to hold as well as my son. Breastfeeding Xander when he got hungry on the trip I found near impossible.

Upon arrival back to Gateshead I had to once again rely on the compassion of strangers to enable me to put the pram back together and alight from the bus. I was a nervous wreck.

I went home and promptly sent off a complaint email to the bus operators regarding my treatment specifying two main points.

1. If they do not allow full carrycot prams on their buses this should be specified before the outbound journey. I recommended that they should not be allowing vulnerable new mothers to travel in one direction with a possibility they may not be ‘authorised’ to travel back the other way. Either you allow full carrycot style prams or you don’t. However, you should not be expecting mothers to take apart their prams when they have nowhere to put their child.

2. They should allow full carrycot prams on the bus as long as the brake is on and the child removed, it is no different to allowing wheelchairs. This is discrimination.

I also described  2 crash scenarios:

1. Pram was as per driver demand dismantled and sliding around the bus in bits, owner of pram sat holding baby, handbag, change bag. Bus crashes, pram and mother go flying. Not only are mother and baby likely seriously hurt, rest of passengers likely trapped/delayed due to bits of pram that have come loose and blocking walkway.

2. Pram parked with brake on in wheelchair spot. Mother sat beside it, child on knee. Bus crashes. baby and mother jolted but safe, get off bus safely. No risk to other passengers in any way.

Over several emails to which the  bus company replied, they said the second bus driver was in the right. The bus company thinks that it is irrelevant whether your pram needs to be folded down or dismantled. They ‘insist’ they are doing it for our safety?! No comment was made as to the pram vs wheelchair point.

Is it any wonder that I rarely get the bus and walk wherever I can with the pram??

Mammy friends- saviours

One of the things that has really helped me through my motherhood journey so far is my mammy friends.

They used to say that the parents don’t raise the child,the village does. In today’s world,that just isn’t possible. I am lucky,my mam is always on the end of the phone when I need her. However you do need people that are a few steps away (either physically or online) for friendship,baby discussions and just general sounding boards.

I imagine that as contemporary mammies we all create our own modern villages,a mix of local mams and internet mams,to best suit our personalities and parenting methods.

Let me introduce my village – these invaluable ladies who fall into a handful of camps. Namely, friends I already had that have got older children,Xanders online aunties, and new friends I have met since Xander’s birth.

I have a few friends with older children,some of the girls from work and school have kids and one of my besties has three aged 6-13. Paula is the grand dame of my village – she has a lot of experience of being a mammy,and is one of my oldest friends (22 years!) and I trusted her to be one of Xander’s first babysitters when I went for a date night with Chris. Whilst she cheekily thinks I’m a bit of a hippie (her words) as our parenting philosophies are sometimes quite different, I believe that my becoming a mother has made us closer.

Another of my besties is like the young mam of the village as her baby is the youngest. She had her first baby at the end of 2014,Xander being 5 months older than Claire’s Emily. I feel that going through first time motherhood at almost the same time has strengthened our bond. Our ideas on raising children are fairly similar,and we can have a good long chat about the hows and whys of all things baby related as well as the usual husband/work/diets standard friend conversations . I hope that I am providing a good sounding board for her,as all my mammy friends have been doing for me!

I then have the ladies on my online baby forum. These girls are virtual aunties and all have babies roughly the same age as Xander,so we are going through the same experiences at the same time. This means that there is a wealth of knowledge and shared ideas. My BC ladies have been so helpful for sharing their wisdom,laughs and pics of their beautiful babies. Also a total lifesaver in the early hours of the morning when I have been up feeding Xander….there’s always someone awake to chat to!

The village then becomes more local with my mammies from baby groups. I feel very grateful to have met Faye and baby Violet, Sarah and baby Emily. I met them when Xander was less than 2 weeks old at my first ever baby social. They were really friendly and welcoming and over the next few months they showed me the best baby groups in our area,the best baby classes to take Xander to and we now meet every week. Also,more recently Oivan and baby Ada,also from local baby groups who we meet with weekly. Violet, Emily and Ada are a few months older than Xander so it is amazingly useful as I can see what Xander is likely to be accomplishing fairly soon and use the girls as a sounding board if I have any questions about something Xander is doing. I love that Xander is getting these opportunities to socialise with babies his age too,he has recently started interacting with them more,stealing their dummies,batting his hands at them ,it’s so cute! I doubt I would have ever met these girls before Xander,yet they are firm friends and we are there for each other. 

So thanks girls,you’ve all been great so far and I hope we continue to help and encourage each other as well as providing laughs and cheering up when needed as our children all grow up! Mammies in the present day need their villages just as much as mammies used to and I’m happy you’re all in mine!

What do you think about the value of mammy friends today? Comment and let me know!

Strangers intrude,sorry….not sorry.

When you have a baby everybody and his brother thinks they are entitled to give you unsolicited advice. From your family and your friends to random people in the street,on the bus,in shops. It starts ‘I’m sorry,but I think your baby is ….cold/hungry/teething/tired’. I can tell you now, they were not sorry,they wanted to interfere.

Does anyone else just want to scream ‘f@#! off’ when strangers feel that they have the right to question you? Why can’t I tell them what I think they should do with their suggestions? Why do I stand there going ‘no,he’s not cold,actually he has a snow suit and 2 blankets on’ or ‘I don’t think he is hungry,I’ve just fed him’ to ‘yes,I know he is tired,I am trying to get him to sleep’. Justifying whatever I am doing at that point in time.

Even worse is when people question your parenting choices rather than just making lighthearted comments. Looking at you inquiringly when you breastfeed your 9 month old. ‘Oh is he not on bottles yet?’. Er,no. He is exclusively breastfed and long will it continue. ‘Is he not heavy to carry in that thing?’. Yes. It’s called a sling. He is heavy,but it’s distributed and you get used to the weight. ‘Surely you can give the baby just half this bag of crisps?’. No thank you, I don’t want him to have too much junk food when he’s little. Then you are looked at as if you are from outer space. You have just proved you are a radical!

Yes, it does irritate when people I don’t know want to put their oar in. Sometimes even people I do know are guilty of this (which doesn’t bother me as much). Normally I am polite and cheerful in my reply.For regardless of how nicely I may respond and explain my choices, I am bringing Xander up my way. You will not change my mind. Yes I appreciate you probably did it differently yourself if you’re a parent. Or that you once read something/heard something and think I should be told. You are entitled to your opinion. However so am I.

Guess what? I did my own research,before Xander was born and more since. I am competent enough to make my own decisions. I am confident enough in my mothering instincts that I know what is best for my child. And if I do need advice I’m not going to want the opinion of stranger at bus or next door but five neighbour. I will discuss it with my husband,my mam,my besties,my mummy friends.

Watch what you say please people. If you haven’t got a nice comment and you don’t know the mother, keep it to yourself.

I’m lucky,I’ve had a lot of pleasant and uplifting remarks directed to me and Xander when I have been out and about (more feel good than criticisms). Whoever you are and regardless of whether I know you,if you want to tell me that Xander is adorable,cheeky,a delight,has beautiful eyes etc,I would love to speak to you. So to those who have approached my with positive comments,compliments for my son and what I call ‘little loves’, please keep them coming. They make my day 🙂

Overcoming setbacks

Before I gave birth there was one thing that I was 100% sure of- I was going to breastfeed. I didn’t think it would necessarily be easy,I had read about mastitis,cracked nipples,latch problems etc. I knew it might take patience and practice. However I knew I wanted to breastfeed and was already very passionate about it. In addition to the documented benefits,breastfeeding would also reduce Xander’s risk of developing coeliac disease (which I have had for 6 years).

It turned out to be much more difficult than I had imagined,mentally and physically. Me and Xander were admitted to the postnatal ward for assistance getting Xander’s birth weight up. His salts were low and he was jaundiced. Up till this point I thought he had been feeding fine,I had some issues with his position but that was it.

It turns out I had not been making enough milk,so Xander had to be given a top up of formula straight away at hospital,administered by syringe through a tube in his nose. Seeing him lying in the plastic cot with the tube attached broke my heart. Xander having any formula whatsoever,regardless of the small amount,caused me great anguish.

When Chris left that night I was bereft of emotion. I had spent the evening expressing milk and getting only 5ml each time, trying to breast feed and watching my child get top ups of artificial milk. I cried. My whole being told me that I was a total failure as a woman. This was something my body should be able to do. It was supposed to be natural. I felt my boobs were useless. I felt unfeminine and that I had let my son down at the first step. I hated that he had to have a top up,I didn’t want anything artificial in him. Chris told me I wasn’t a failure. So did my mam. The nurses explained that my milk was slow coming in due to Xander’s traumatic birth.

None of this helped. I don’t think anyone could have. I just felt totally worthless as a woman . How could I be a good mother if I couldn’t even feed my child? The knowledge that lots of women feed formula didn’t help,I knew breast was best. I was determined Xander would have the best,even if it broke me.

It very nearly did break me. The next 5 days were a relentless heartbreaking climb,mentally it was kind of my Everest. My supply came in dribbles,from being able to express a disheartening 5ml to 9ml,plateauing at 10ml.  Rising finally to 21ml which,frankly, was a triumph. The nurses were mostly supportive except for the odd one suggesting ‘you could just try him with some bottled formula’. No. I couldn’t. I wouldn’t. I refused. I was determined. I was going to feed my child exclusively and I didn’t care how unrelentingly demanding, fatiguing and, strangely, tedious the journey was. I perservered.

When me and Xander were finally released I couldn’t have been more proud if I had won gold at the Olympics. He had put on a few ounces,breastfeeding was established with a good latch and no formula in sight! And now I knew….I was ready for whatever motherhood could throw at me.

Early days,bleeding and catheters

My diary from this period is disjointed,written in haphazard half sentences and indecipherable shorthand. I blame the lack of sleep,it’s amazing what your mind does when you have had 2 hrs sleep in about 48 hours.

So there I was 11pm on the night of Xanders birth,alone in the hospital. My mam and Chris had not long left. I felt very distanced from reality.

I laid in the bed on the post natal ward,catheterised,attached to 2 drips,cut and sewn back together,bruised and still dizzy from the drugs and 1200ml blood loss. Next to me in his plastic cot,my son lay,a tiny helpless being. He was also raw from his explusion,his head bent out of shape by the forceps. I couldn’t understand why no one had washed him. There he was,in his first babygro,hair matted with birthing juices.

We made it through that first night. I spent most of it in shock, watching Xander,stroking him and wondering if I was ‘allowed’ to pick him up and cuddle him. As if someone would come and tell me off if I disturbed him. I had not yet grasped that I was in control. I didn’t feel old enough to have a baby. Yes,I had wanted one. Yes, I had been pregnant. Somehow though I had not truly believed I would actually have a child at the end of it. I had had 9 months to prepare,however every fibre of my being was still stunned that my body had produced an actual living being.

Early the next morning my catheter was removed then shortly after,reinstated as my bladder wasn’t draining properly. My last drop of dignity. We tried to establish breastfeeding (more on this later!) and were visited by my mam and Mavis,my mother in law. Xander spent most of this first day asleep.

We were sent home just after lunchtime. I was bleeding very heavily,still catheterised,dazed and bewildered. My foof was swollen and sore,my bum too. My nether regions felt as though they didn’t belong to me. I was headachey,thirsty and very hungry. I needed constant reassurance. Chris and mam complied.   My close family visited including my nana,grandad,my brother and his wife. The state I was in its a good thing we are all so close!

The next few days were a haze of trying to breastfeed and trying to sleep. Neither task easy. Have you tried to sleep with a catheter bag hanging over the side of your bed whilst being on edge listening for your new born? It’s almost not worth it. Then a trip back to hospital for catheter removal. The relief of being able to pee naturally was short lived,as I realised it burned my stitches.

I enjoyed my first meal of dippy eggs and soldiers since becoming pregnant,a joint effort from mam and Chris. My best friend made a surprise,much appreciated visit from Stevenage. Xander spent these first days on the boob and asleep. We frantically changed his bum every couple of hours lest any urine contaminate his skin. Me and Chris took great delight in all his little wriggles,squeaks,kicks and noises,pleased that he seemed content. We were captivated by him.

Soon it was time for midwife checks via a home visit. Xander was discovered to have lost 12% of his body weight. We are admitted back to hospital. I am a failure.

Birthing part 2: drugs and blood

This post could easily have been titled ‘How did women in days gone by ever survive birthing’.

It was 7.30am ish when,after being admitted to the delivery suite, I went on gas and air. The pain eased…for a millisecond. It didn’t touch the sides of the pain. And I was sucking down big gulps. Regularly. So much that the midwife told me I was taking too much and to slow down. At some point during this my mam arrived,and I said (snarled?grunted?) to her ‘You didn’t tell me it would be this bad’.

All thoughts of a natural birth flew out of the window and at 9am I gave in,said I was struggling and I was given diamorphine. Sidenote….that stuff makes you feel like you’re having an out of body experience. My mam and Chris put an ( unused, clean) urine potty on my head. They thought it was hilarious. I barely noticed.

For a few hours I coped,with the additional help of water papules,getting to 7cm dilated. At some point the midwives discovered that Xander was back to back.

Then the downwards descent started and the pain got worse. Much worse. Horrifically worse. I thought I was being ripped apart and that my whole nether regions were very slowly,agonisingly being stripped away from the rest of my body. I started begging for an epidural. The midwife tried to encourage that I could manage without. My body disagreed,every inch of my womb and groin screaming in torment.

Not long after the epidural was administered,I started pushing. Xander kept moving down the birth canal with each push,but as he was back to back I couldn’t quite get him out. I have a brain condition where I have excess fluid on the brain,which meant that after an hour medically I wasn’t allowed to push any longer for safety reasons.

The horrors continued. I was a hairs breadth from having a caesarean. To get Xander out I was cut and forceps were used. I bled. Lots. Then some more. Followed by a further expulsion. Hubby looked faint when he saw all the bed and floor covered in blood. I wasn’t too worried….Then I saw my mam (a nurse) also looked uneasy,just as the emergency button was pushed and many many doctors rushed in. ‘This is it’ I thought ‘I’m going to die’.

And then,after 19 hours of labour at 7.42pm Xander was placed on my chest. A tiny,vernix covered,squalling,wrinkly creature,bruised and squished by his journey into existence.

There were no words. No tears. Just awe. Shock. Love. Amazement. I had created a baby. He was real. Breathing,suckling,grabbing my finger. An actual human being that belonged to me and Chris.

Through the medication haze I knew that all the pain had been worth it,it was even negligible, because this little bundle was my whole world. The phrase the miracle of birth finally hit home as it dawned on me that biggest part of me was now living outside my body.

And so I began to live in my new world. With strange new feelings,experiences and priorities. Simultaneously my mind was racing…. ‘Crap,am I ready for this?!’ and ‘This is it,I have everything I ever wanted’….