Saturday, 31 July 2010

My Girl's Seven!

On 19th July my darling eldest daughter turned seven. It's such a cliche but I can't believe how quickly she has grown up. I guess if cliches weren't so true and relevant they wouldn't be cliches as no one would say them.

She is such a kind, loving, intelligent, funny, beautiful girl. She makes my heart swell with pride.

Els had a birthday treat with me on Sunday (the day before her birthday). - pony riding at a lovely equestrian centre in Checkendon

and then three of her best gal pals over for junk food and birthday cake.

I couldn't face an actual party due to having a newborn to care for plus the fact that J had a lad's night out in London and wouldn't be around to help until noon. Anyhow, she didn't seem to mind that the celebrations were fairly low key this year.

I nearly made a hash of Nigella's Victoria Sponge recipe (oven too hot) but managed to disguise the obverly brown crust with pink buttercream icing and jelly sweets. The cake was a big hit thank god!

She opened her pressies on Monday (her birthday) before school and then her dad took her and a few friends to the Build a Bear shop in the Oracle. There are distinct advantages in having two families (two birthday celebrations, two Christmasses!).

Monday, 26 July 2010

Birthing Alicia

Hmm, my newborn is now five, nearly six, weeks old and although I've visualised myself many times blogging about her birth - and other events of the last few weeks - I haven't quite managed to act. Shame, as I've now told the story so many times I am no longer gagging to give a blow-by-blow account. However, I do want to record at least an outline of the day, or rather dayS plural, for posterity. So here goes...

I got the birth I'd hoped for. It was a lot longer than I'd imagined but I kept calm throughout, apart from a slightly panicky/'I want to give up' 20 mins towards the end (when I was probably in transition). I also dealt with the pain incredibly well considering a) it bloody hurt way more than I remembered b) I had a LOT of strong contractions over a 27 hour period - although, insultingly, I was only in 'established labour' for 10 hours c) if I stub my toe the whole world knows about it - I would consider my pain threshold to be fairly low.

Yes, not even a toot of gas and air passed my lips. Well, not till afterwards when my nether regions got aquainted with needle and thread. I put this down to the hypnobirthing course and CDs helping me to be relaxed and to deal with the pain without fear, the wonderful nurturing warmth of the birthing pool, and the amazing support of lovely hubby J and fab friend and birthing partner Sarada.

Oh, and I found that blowing on the outbreath, mooing and making low, loud 'ooooh, aahh, eeh' noises helped me cope through the contractions. Unfortunately, my voice is still not quite back to normal as I was quite vocal throughout the 27+ hours and had only just recovered from a rather persistent cold so my poor ole vocal chords took quite a bashing.

The contractions were all in my back and greatly soothed by massage, heat packs and encouraging words. Thankfully, I had a wonderful sense of time distortion which meant my one minute contractions felt like ten seconds and the two or three minute pauses in between became twenty minute rest breaks, so much so that I even fell asleep during them!

J had really set up the sitting room beautifully. He'd cleared some of the furniture to the garden shed to create space, covered the floor with cotton sheets on top of plastic sheeting, set up 12 hours of chillout music on the Ipod (which we had to replay!), inflated and filled the pool, dimmed the lights and had Roman Chamomile essential oil burning in the oil burner. Deeply relaxing.

I was often encouraged by Mary the midwife to get out of the pool and walk around to speed things up (hah!) but much preferred languishing in the warm water and trancing out in my liquid labourland. Around 3am on Thursday morning (17th June, my niece Sulis's birthday) I got out and went to the bedroom, doubled over cushions on the bed and was massaged and soothed by John through a particularly painful set of contractions. Then - at last! - my waters went with a 'pop' and I got back in the pool hugely encouraged by this sign of progress.

A few hours later I was pushing with all my might, contrary to my birth plan and the hypnobirthing exortation to 'breathe your baby out'. No way Jose. I wanted to PUSH and had no faith that breathing would get my little lady to make her entrance into the world. So push I did, and I was surprised to find that this stage was completely pain free and actually quite satisfying. I didn't even experience the 'ring of fire', just a mild stinging sensation as she crowned.

Reaching down to feel her head was a beautiful moment. I was excited and relieved that it would all be over soon. As it turned out, not as soon as I'd have liked. I was pushing hard for about an hour and Alicia was half way out with just her head and shoulders in the water for ages. Luckily, I'd watched quite a few water births on You Tube and knew that babies could hang around in the water for ages without their being any risk of drowning - they don't breathe until they're immersed in air.

So, there I was with my baby half in and half out for quite some time. I started to lose fiath that she would come out at all and in desperation asked 'can someone please just pull her out. I can't do this any more'. Mary asked me to stand up and both midwives helped me out of the pool, as I scissored my legs over the sides the rest of Alicia slid out in a gush and Mary caught her and passed her to me. My slippery little baby! I clung to her and just thought 'thank god she's finally here'.

I looked up into J's eyes and saw..abject fear. Not quite what I was expecting. I noticed the midwives' eyes had also widened in surprise and seconds later I found out why. Mary said, 'Anna, we may have to take you into hospital, you've lost more blood than we would like.' Oh, so that was the gush then. Not actually a gush but a haemorrhage. I had my baby in my arms was still in the floaty world of labourland so this turn of events didn't bother me in the slightest. J however was clearly shocked.

A quick injection in my shaking leg to help clot the blood and I was allowed to stay at home. Yay! Here we are a few minutes later...

A job well done by all!

See my previous post for pictures of Alicia looking distinctly less blue..

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Alicia Lily

My gorgeous daughter, Alicia Lily Higgs, was born at 6am on 17th June at home into water. More about the birth later (it went well, no pain relief thanks to hypnobirthing and the support of my fab birth companions John and Sarada - but it was tough at times and took bloody ages!).

Here are some photos of our little angel...

with big sister Ella...

with mummy and daddy...

milk drunk...