And then there were three

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I’m beyond happy to share with you that Elijah Philip Paul Durdin arrived safely with us a week ago at 7.59am on Saturday 21st February weighing 8 lb 9.5oz at 41 weeks and 2 days gestation.

He was born at home in front of a roaring fire (a detail that I mention because it reminds me of the book about home birth for kids – Hello Baby –
and makes me smile) after a very quick labour. The midwives just about made it here and the kids only just missed it! I wouldn’t have minded if they were still here but given what then happened, it was probably just as well that they had gone.

I attempted for the third time, and failed for the third time, to have a physiological third stage (to deliver the placenta naturally) but this time with more serious consequences as I had to transfer to hospital in an ambulance for a retained placenta. A third was delivered with the cord but the rest stayed stubbornly inside. I was speedily transferred and was whisked to surgery to have a spinal block and manual removal. All was well but I lost about 30% of my blood volume and was quite tachycardic (heart rate was up in the 160’s at one point during recovery) so I stayed in overnight before coming home on Sunday.

I’ll tell the whole birth story properly at some point in the future but thought I’d just do a quick update to explain my radio silence. Recovery has been harder than I expected, turns out losing a third of your blood takes it toll on you, who knew?! I’ve been on serious bed rest, haven’t left the house yet and still feel dizzy and weak if I spend too much time on my feet. But I am far from gloomy. The oxytocin is flowing in our house! Elijah is a gorgeous, calm little soul. He’s feeding well, very relaxed and very loved! Sophia and Isaac are loving on him hard, lots of cuddling and helping us are being done. Isaac is a bit emotional and clingy but that’s to be expected.

I’m also feeling incredibly blessed for the support of family and friends. From Mum who dropped everything and jumped on a train to look after the big two last weekend to the Church folk who have fed us all week with their meal rota, to Laurie for taking the kids at very short notice at 6.30 in the morning before Mum arrived to the wonderful wonderful Fab who has also stocked our freezer with meals, taken the kids out and just been absolutely amazing and then all our other good friends who have offered practical help, support and company. Thank you to you all! But my biggest thank you goes out to Dan. He has been beyond incredible, looking after all 5 of us and the house, continuing to do home ed bits with Sophia, being clung to like glue by a slightly insecure Isaac, taking the big two to their groups, changing nappies, cuddling Elijah so I can have a bath in peace, hoovering, feeding, cleaning, emotionally supporting and even managing to fit in his weights still 😉 A true super husband! I just wish I could repay him with more than words. Thank you husbot, I love you!

And I’ll leave you on that sappy note with some pictures from our first week.

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Always the joker!

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Pregnancy Diary: 40 weeks

Today I am 40 weeks and 2 days pregnant.
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Baby is now on average 51 cm long and is ready for life outside the womb, he or she will be able to find their thumb and suck it, much as they’ll be able to root for milk once they’re skinside. In theory he or she will be shedding vernix (the greasy substance that has covered their skin in utero) from this point but I’ve heard plenty of anecdotal stories of ‘late’ babies arriving still covered in the stuff. I meant to say much earlier that I’ve been pulling these facts from http://www.babycentre.co.uk each week, not just thin air! Very bad form on my part for not referencing them each time though so my sincere apologies for that.

I also need to apologise for posting this on Valentine’s Day, not the most romantic post but maybe it’ll give you some light relief from a newsfeed chockablock with pictures of roses, chocolates and peoples declarations of undying love for their spouses. (I managed a card for Dan and he took the kids out for the afternoon so I could rest, that’s love for ya 😉 )

I realise I missed posting during 39 weeks completely. That was partly on purpose, both Isaac and Sophia arrived at 39 weeks and 5 days (as I’ve mentioned before) so I arrogantly assumed this one would be the same or earlier I think so kept thinking I wouldn’t need to do another pregnancy post. It was also partly because this baby is a complete tease and I’ve had a lot of stop start contractions and niggles so kept thinking I was in early labour so there wasn’t any point in posting.

As it is, I’m still pregnant for now. I’m swinging wildly between thinking birth is very imminent and that the baby is staying inside forever. Somewhere in between the two obviously being the case! It’s odd having gone past my ‘due date’, although we all know that it is a fairly arbitrary date in the 5 weeks of being considered term. I read a reassuring article on the BBC this week which says that only 4% of woman deliver on their due date, 60% in the two weeks either side and goes on to encourage us to stop placing so much emphasis on one date. I was already in this school or thought but especially now, it was nice to read!

So not much else to say I’m afraid. Standard end of pregnancy symptoms here, feeling tired and heavy, more (practise) contractions..etc..etc But the excitement and anticipation is also mounting in the whole family…each morning Sophia is disappointed that the baby hasn’t been born in the night! But I’d better leave you all to your romantic evenings and go and spend time with the husbot, before another gorgeous ting person arrives and steals our attention!

Be well, big love to you all!

As good as new

This was the phrase Sophia clung on to this weekend as we started actually trying to make our gardens look presentable. She kept saying she wanted them to look ‘as good as new’ just like ‘last summer in our garden’. Given that our last two gardens have been, in their own ways, ridiculously picturesque in comparison to our current one, I’m hoping she doesn’t have too high standards!! I’m just aiming for weed free, tidy, some nice flowers and hopefully successful vegetable growing.

The process started with a visit from Mum and Dad on Friday with their hedge trimmer. They very kindly cut back all our massively overgrown hedges and instantly, the garden looked better. They took half a dozen rubble sacks filled with trimmings with them and over the weekend Sophia and I started filling heavy duty black bags with the rest to take to the tip for recycling. We’re not finished yet but the front garden certainly looks much better (I just wish I had thought to take a before picture).
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By no means a thing of beauty...

Now we just need to finish tidying the back garden and then we can start to think about what we’re going to plant and where.

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Definitely not a place of beauty!

Whilst we worked Sophia chatted to me about what she thought we should plant. She was keen on nasturtiums but they can spread so easily and need a lot of pruning so I wasn’t so sure. I agreed with her on sunflowers and daffodils though. We’ve dug up an ugly shrub in the back garden to make room for a fruit tree and I promised the kids it could be plum so I need to find a self propagating variety and probably sooner rather than later now it’s warm.

There is a lovely bay tree and a big lavender bush already and we do seem to attract a lot of birds which is lovely to see-a particularly confident blackbird often appears for berries and worms from all the currently exposed earth. Our grow-your-own-potatoes pack arrived this weekend so come March we can get started with experimenting with growing potatoes in pots and I need to sort through my harvested and left over seeds from last year to see what else we can grow. I think we’ll definitely do peas, pumpkins, tomatoes, salad and strawberries but that might be all we manage this year by the time new baby haze is over and we’ve got the garden into a usable state. That’s OK though, it’ll be enough to keep us outside and busy but not too much that we get overwhelmed and it all goes to pot.

It was so nice being outside and not instantly wanting to go back into the warm, a real reminder that winter isn’t permanent. Spring is definitely in the air. We hear the birds singing in our garden each morning, the skies are lighter when we wake and I’ve even spotted some early daffodils peeking through. It’s a good time of year and after 3 months of hibernation I’m looking forward to getting out more. The kids are definitely ready to as well, this last week or so their energy levels have been high and they’ve been bouncing off the walls! I’m especially glad to be back in Topsham as spring arrives. With the park, RSPB marshes, river and cycle paths in such close vicinity, it’s great to know that I will be able to easily get out with three(!) children and spend some quality time outside with them in our gorgeous Devonian surroundings.

Hope this finds you all well and enjoying these first gorgeous sunny spring days. I’d love to hear all about your gardening plans as the new growing season approaches. What’s going on in your garden?

Pregnancy Diary: 38 weeks

Today I am 38 weeks and 5 days pregnant.
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Baby is apparently between 6.6 and 7lb by now (although this is obviously a very generic average as both Sophia and Isaac at 39 weeks and 5 days were over 8 and a half pounds and I find it hard to believe they could put on 2 pounds in just a week!) and his or her organ systems are fully developed and ready to go!

I’m not going to lie, I was hoping not to write this post. I was hoping my next post in this series would be announcing the birth. I know that bubba will arrive when he or she is ready and that I can’t rush things and should be savouring the last few days and weeks(? I hope not!) of pregnancy but I’m just getting so tired and uncomfortable that it is hard to. My right leg keeps going into painful spasms where it joins my hip and I have been incredibly breathless and tired. I just want to meet little one and to be able to walk freely around the house and town again without having to have ridiculously frequent breaks to sit down!

I do apologise for the negativity but I figure this should be a honest account of the pregnancy. I’m actually not really down in the dumps though, I feel really happy and positive at the moment. After a spate of post Christmas intense bickering, the kids have been getting on really well the last week or so which makes life feel a lot easier and more chilled out. We’ve been doing a good amount of structured learning to satisfy Sophia and making the most of hibernating through the cold by curling up under a blanket and reading copious amounts of books which leaves all three of us content and relaxed. I think I’d definitely rather be heavily pregnant in the winter than the summer when we would all want to be out enjoying sun, sea and sand rather than being home bodies.

So despite the impatience and uncomfortableness, the good vibes are winning out (hurray!) I’m excited about the birth but finding peace with not knowing when it’ll happen. So, maybe I’ll be back next week with another update and maybe I won’t but either way, that’s ok.

Until then, stay warm and happy!

Balancing heart and head

I’ve been thinking about voting recently. Even though the general election isn’t until May it’s inevitable that the media is going to become increasingly saturated with various election promises, predictions and general coverage. And this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, deciding who to vote for should be a well informed and carefully thought out decision. But we do need to be able to look past the popularity contest put on by politicians and facilitated by the media, forget about tactical voting and make decisions that we really believe in.

It can be easy just to vote for the party you always have out of familiarity or to choose the person who appeals to you most or even to decide not to vote (though the government is now trying to encourage people to vote through compulsory registration) but perhaps this time it’s worth taking the time to make sure that you cast your vote for a party whose policies you actually support and agree with. After all, by voting you are helping to shape the future of our country for the next four years. A good place to start is with the website www.voteforpolicies.org.uk, a neutral resource designed to encourage you to think beyond personalities and actually consider party policies. There is a handy survey you can take that tells you whose policies you support without knowing which party they belong to at the time of choosing.

Although it was created for the 2010 election, they have updated it for the upcoming election this year. And interestingly, the results so far from over half a million completed surveys put the Green Party in the lead with 27.75%, followed by Labour, Liberal Democrats and then the Conservatives. Reassuringly (at least in my opinion), UKIP and the BNP are trailing behind everyone else with 11.71% and 9.87% respectively.

The rising popularity of the Green Party (dubbed the ‘green surge’) is simultaneously encouraging and depressing. Encouraging in that more and more people are recognising them as a party that is genuinely committed to the welfare of the average citizen, the environment and equality and depressing in that it is quite likely that a lot of these people will still resort to tactical voting or vote for another party with the frame of mind that a vote for the Green Party won’t make a difference in the scheme of things. But if everyone who genuinely wanted to vote Green, did, it would make a difference, both on a national and local scale. We might start to see change in the quality of life for some of the poorest in our society, more care and consideration taken to protect our environment, a stop to the privatisation of the NHS and a more democratic and accountable political culture. In short, a better life for all of us living in the United Kingdom.

But I didn’t start this post with the intention of pushing the Green Party down your throats. No political party will appeal to everyone and no one party is perfect. I do think they are the most attractive option we have but you, of course, are entitled to your own opinion. No. My intention was to try and encourage you to make an informed choice come May and if you weren’t planning on voting to urge you not to waste your vote and to make the effort. Our country may not be amazing but we are so privileged and blessed to live in a society where we can vote, to have a democratic government (even if the democratic mechanisms themselves are somewhat flawed). We shouldn’t take this for granted. We need to think beyond ourselves, to try and perceive the bigger picture. And if we don’t like what we see, we should strive to vote in such a way that if the party we support does gain power, their bigger picture will be more palatable. We should follow our hearts in voting for the policies that would create a country we’d like to live in whilst using our heads to wade through the platitudes and meaningless rhetoric to figure out what parties actually stand for and what they are actually going to do if elected.

An article entitled ‘Follow your convictions – this could be the end of the politics of fear’ by George Monbiot has been trending on social media over the last week and it was reading this that inspired me to write this post today. I’ll leave you with a poignant question that he asks in it that those frustrated with the current political environment should take notice of and meditate on as we start to decide who will be getting our vote come May;

‘We cannot create a successful alternative to the parties that have betrayed us until we start voting for it. Do we start walking or just keep talking about the journey we might one day take?’