Second pregnancy – a whole new experience!

Being pregnant again has made me reminisce about my pregnancy with Archie and although physically my pregnancies have been very similar so far, it’s a completely different experience to the first time! I thought I’d share on the blog why this time it’s been a whole new ball game.

second pregnancy

  • Tired, tired and tired again
    • Running around after an active toddler whilst being pregnant is making me more physically tired than I think I’ve ever been in my life. I honestly feel like I have the body of a 100 year-old – I’m constantly creaking and groaning!! I do remember feeling tired the first time round but I also spent most of my weekends catching up on sleep and resting which is definitely a thing of the past now…!
  • Goodbye maternity leave
    • Last time I managed to plan a nice chunk of time off as part of my maternity leave before Archie came along (in hindsight I didn’t make the most of it so for any first time mamas out there please enjoy every second – indulge in those long baths, stay in bed all day, go to the cinema, enjoy those last date nights with your partner etc.). But this time round, it’s clearly very different and I won’t be having any time off (from being a full-time mum) before the new baby arrives which is a slightly daunting prospect.
  • Time flies
    • If you’d have asked me last time how many weeks I was and what size baby was I could have told you in quite a bit of detail and on size in so many different variations of fruit, veg, household objects etc.! This time, the weeks just seem to be flying by and I can barely remember what day of the week it is, never mind what my due date is!
  • Less time to think about the new baby
    • Until recently (when the physical side has taken over and is a constant reminder!) it’s been so easy to forget I’m having another baby as my whole world is completely focused on Archie and when I have thought about it my focus is mostly on the impact on Arch rather than the baby itself. This is such a contrast to my first pregnancy when I became a bit obsessed – all I thought about was meeting my baby and what he/she would be like.
  • Less focused on labour
    • First time round I thought about the birth a lot and even our antenatal classes focused on labour and having a birth plan. It sounds crazy but shortly after having Archie I remember thinking “Phew, the hard part is over”! Little did I know that the hardest was definitely yet to come. So this time round, I think it’s only natural to think about it less and I’m trying to maintain an attitude of “I did it once, so I can do it again” even though I’m fully aware the experiences could be very different.
  • More focused on life after birth
    • Linked to the point above, having struggled to cope with the huge changes to my life first time round, my attention has mostly been on how I’ll cope with 2 children and trying to envisage the changes to come. In theory, it shouldn’t be such a shock this time as I’m very used to being a stay-at-home mum now and some of our structure will stay in place as we work around Archie’s routine. But the prospect of bedtime and getting out of the house with a toddler and newborn does terrify me so they will be the first few things I’ll be trying to crack (any tips welcome!).
  • Mum guilt
    • The moment you become pregnant with your second, it’s natural to feel mum guilt and I’m sure it’s not something that will be going any time soon. For every hospital appointment I have to go to, for the moments I feel too tired to play, every time I think about my attention being split, it’s so hard not to feel guilty about the impact on Archie. But I do keep reminding myself that to grow up with a sibling will be so good for him and it will be well worth it in the long run.

 

10 things I would tell my pregnant self

With pregnancy comes a whole host of emotions. As much as it’s one of the most exciting times of your life, it’s easy to spend a lot of time worrying about things that are largely out of your control. Here are 10 things I would tell my pregnant self….

pregnant self

  1. Forget about your due date – this is so much easier said than done but if you can find a way to relieve the pressure of your due date then your last few weeks of being pregnant will be a much more enjoyable experience (Read my earlier post – The Waiting Game – to learn from my mistake on this!).
  2. Set up all “baby” equipment and practice, practice, practice– trust me, there is nothing worse than venturing out for the first time with your baby and realising that you can’t put the pram up/ down. Or needing to sterilise bottles/ breast pump and getting into a state because your sleep-deprived mind can’t read the instructions. You might feel silly doing it without a baby in tow but it will be a lot easier than trying to work it when said baby is there with you, and mostly crying at you in frustration (babies are not overly patient in my experience!).
  3. Try not to stress too much about labour – whatever happens you will find a way of getting through labour – whether that’s with pain relief or without, vaginal or C-section, home or hospital birth and so on. None of it really matters in the end as long as you and your baby are OK. And as much as having a rough plan of how you’d like it to go is useful, it’s most likely going to deviate away from that at some point so try to just go with what happens in the moment and be confident in your own ability.
  4. Enjoy the time before your baby gets here – sometimes it’s easy to think solely about the future when you’re expecting but it’s also important to live in the here and now. Your world is about to be turned upside and there are a huge amount of positives that go along with that. But there’s likely to be a few parts of your “old” life that you’ll miss – time to yourself, date nights with your partner, lie-ins etc. – so try to just enjoy those last few moments as much as you can.
  5. Don’t underestimate your instincts – this goes for both during labour and when your baby is here. You know your body and your baby better than anyone so trust your gut no matter what anyone tells you.
  6. There’s no need to over-plan – I remember visiting a number of nurseries when I was heavily pregnant and spending so much time worrying about how I’d cope when I went back to work. And I hadn’t even met my baby yet! Just take each stage as it comes because you may feel differently when it actually happens and no one can predict the future.
  7. The hardest trimester is yet to come – this isn’t meant to scare you but just a reminder that you’ll go through a lot in the fourth trimester – your body will still be recovering, you will deal with a ridiculous number of hormones and you will be trying to work out how to keep your baby happy (/alive). Be kind to yourself. Accept it’s not going to be an easy road but that it’s just a phase and it will get easier.
  8. Remember you’re not alone – sometimes it feels like you need to do everything yourself to be a good mum but it’s just not true. You will need the support of your family and friends. Whether that’s physical support through helping with day-to-day tasks or mental support by being someone you can talk to. Finding mummy friends with similar aged babies is also really helpful. I’ve made a couple of life-long friends in my NCT group who have saved my sanity on many an occasion and just having that reassurance that you’re not alone in your thoughts/ feelings will be such a godsend.
  9. Have a breastfeeding back-up plan – health professionals (and probably many others) will tell you that if you really want to breastfeed you can. But what they often forget is that there are 2 parties to satisfy here and you can’t always predict what your baby is going to do or how you’re going to feel when the time comes. Have a back-up supply of things you will need to bottle feed (bottles, steriliser, and formula) just in case.
  10. Believe in yourself – go into motherhood with confidence, knowing that you can do this. Yes you’ll get things wrong along the way but so does everyone. There will be plenty of differing advice/ opinions from those around you but have the confidence to do what you feel is best and don’t be afraid to go against the crowd.

Hospital bag checklist

A year ago today I was neurotically packing my hospital bag in fear of going into labour early. Karma would have it that Archie was 2 weeks late and I needed to be induced but hey hindsight is a wonderful thing! So I thought I’d share my list in the hope that it’s useful for anyone who’s expecting.

hospital bag

Mummy’s bag:

  • Hospital notes – essential that you don’t forget these, so put them on the top of your bag
  • Birth plan – in reality you probably won’t refer to this in labour but it made me feel better to have something written down
  • Pyjamas – loose, dark and ideally with an open neck for skin-skin / nursing
  • Night-shirt – to potentially wear during labour
  • Maternity pads – my advice here is to get Tena Nights – not the most glamorous purchase but way better than the standard maternity pads which are too thin
  • Big black knickers – don’t be embarrassed, the more Bridget Jones style the better! These are useful for a couple of weeks post labour too so it’s worth buying a couple of packs – the ones from Primark or a supermarket work fine
  • Nursing bra – if planning on breastfeeding
  • Breast pads – you probably won’t use these until your milk supply kicks in (around 2-3 days after birth) but pack a couple just in case
  • Slippers – for walking around the ward
  • Flip flops (optional) – for using the shower
  • 1 change of clothes – for travelling home in so make sure they’re loose, dark, comfortable and warm
  • Pillow (optional)– not essential but it reminded me of home and was way more comfortable than the hospital ones
  • Tens machine (optional) – I hired one for £5 from Boots but didn’t use– apparently useful for the early stages of labour though
  • Phone, charger and earphones – in case you want to listen to music and/ or update family/ friends
  • Warm slipper socks (optional) – this is a personal one because I hate having cold feet (and despite not wanting to wear any clothes during labour I refused to take these off!!)
  • Ear plugs and eye mask – useful for when you’re in the ward
  • Food/ snacks – don’t go overboard as there’s likely to be a café nearby but your favourite biscuits/ crisps/ chocolates will keep you in good spirits. I did find though that having a box of chocolates by my bed and offered to staff went down well and ensured we didn’t get forgotten about!
  • Toiletries
    • Hair brush
    • Hair ties
    • Toothbrush and toothpaste
    • Lip balm
    • Face wash/ wipes
    • Body wash
    • Shampoo/ conditioner
    • Hand sanitiser
    • Tissues
    • Deodorant
    • Nipple cream (if breastfeeding) – Lansinoh is great
    • Dry shampoo
    • Relaxation oil (e.g. lavender)

Baby’s bag:

  • Nappies (pack of size 1 should be fine)
  • Wipes (don’t bother with cotton wool)
  • A few nappy sacks
  • 3 vests (long or short sleeve)
  • 3 sleepsuits (with mitts in-built)
  • 2 muslin cloths
  • Blanket

Going home:

  • Car seat
  • Hat
  • 1 cardigan
  • Warm blanket

If your partner needs to stay overnight with you then he/ she might need a few essentials too. If there’s anything you think I’ve missed then please do let me know!

2018: A year of firsts

Unsurprisingly 2018 has been a year of firsts for our family – particularly for Archie. As the year draws to a close I thought it would be a good time to reflect and summarise all our little monkey has achieved.

firsts

From top left to bottom right:

January – First time being late! Let’s hope it’s not in his nature.

February – First breath and the day I became a mummy.

March – First smile. 5 weeks in and finally some positive feedback!

April – First night away from home – a weekend with our friends in Center Parcs.

May – First swimming lesson – Daddy particularly enjoyed the “dunking”!

June – First giggles – still my favourite ever sound. This month also included his first day away from mummy, his first night in his big cot and the first time he rolled over.

July – First night without his sleepyhead – when we realised he actually prefers sleeping on his tummy.

August – First time sitting up unaided. He also clapped for the first time this month which is his favourite party trick to date!

September – First time he stood up in his cot – I noticed it on the monitor when he was meant to be asleep! This month he also properly crawled for the first time.

October – First time abroad – we ventured to Tenerife on a 4.5 hour flight (it was interesting….!).

November – First time on the swings – and they were a definite hit.

December – First steps – also his first Christmas and the month he said his first words (dada, mumma and nana (banana)).

Wow what a year. I can’t believe he’s so close to being a toddler (where did my baby go!). It’s been the most life-changing year of my life to date and I can’t wait to see what 2019 has in store for us. Wishing you all a healthy and happy one.

My birth story: Induction

Following weeks of hoping my baby would come on his own accord, it was clear my labour needed a bit of a kick-start. I was booked in for the ‘dreaded’ induction and had to accept, like many, it wasn’t going to be the birth I’d originally hoped for.

induction

Forget the ‘due date’

As I headed off on maternity leave, I remember lots of people telling me not to focus too much on my due date and to just accept my baby might come at any point. And yes as great as that is in theory they might as well have told me to never eat Dairy Milk again because I wasn’t going to listen!

I remember being fixated on the fact that I was going to go into labour early. I have no idea why although it was probably an attempt to prepare myself in case it did. So when my due date came and went I felt disappointed but also a bit relieved because it delayed the prospect of labour (like most women I was terrified!).

As the days continued to tick by I remember the midwives booking me in for an induction and reassuring me that it was just a back-up plan and probably wouldn’t be necessary. The mere fact that they assured me of this made me think that induction was probably not a good thing and when I read some of the horror stories online this just confirmed it. It became my main aim to go into labour naturally and to do anything to avoid being induced.

So I did all the usual things – rubbed copious amounts of clary sage onto my tummy, drank litres of raspberry leaf tea, endured 2 sweeps, bounced up and down on my exercise ball until I felt dizzy and went for a casual 3 mile walk at least once or twice a day.

Off to a bad start

Unfortunately despite my best efforts, it was clear this little monkey wasn’t going to come out on his own accord and on the Saturday I headed to the hospital to start the induction process.

When we first arrived the midwife told me that they wouldn’t be starting anything until about 7 hours later because the ward was completely overrun and we needed to sit and wait. She showed us to my bed (which hadn’t even been made yet) and I could just feel myself welling up. The 5 other women in the room (in various different stages of labour) must have thought I was a complete wuss. I have such a fear of hospitals and when telling the midwife this she just said I should get used to it because I would probably be here for at least a few nights. Her whole attitude basically said ‘given the number of people, you’re lucky to be here in the first place, stop being ungrateful’. And so naturally I burst into tears and acted like a complete baby! I really wasn’t sure whether I could go through with it and the midwife reminded me it was my choice and I could just go home and  wait for things to progress naturally if I’d wanted. But this went against any professional advice I’d received and I didn’t want to put my baby in any danger.

Luckily for me, my husband intervened (if you’ve read my breastfeeding story you’ll see he’s very good at this). He took her to the side and persuaded her to let us check in but that I could then go home for a few hours and come back when they were ready to start the induction process. So we went home, my husband ran me a bath, I ate a big bar of chocolate and we had a big heart-to-heart about how exciting it was going to be to meet our baby and how a few short days in hospital would feel like nothing in the future.

Being induced

At about 5pm we re-entered the hospital and the midwife stuck to her word by sticking me straight on the monitor and talking us through the procedure. After being monitored for a while she was happy that baby was doing ok and we could get started. In went the pessary and then we just had to wait for something to happen. She told me that if the pessary was working (often it doesn’t work first time) then I should feel period pains which would then move to my tummy (aka contractions).

Now the timings here are a little blurred so bear with me but a short while after the pessary was inserted the period pains were getting seriously strong and I had a constant urge to use the toilet. I requested for the pessary to be removed and at that point I was 2cm dilated so the midwife said I was in the early stages of labour.

The pain was getting incredibly intense and the time between the period pains was getting shorter and shorter (they hadn’t moved to my tummy so I was convinced they weren’t contractions at this point but looking back I now know they were!). I started demanding an epidural (to anyone who would listen!!). I remember thinking if I can’t cope at this early stage, then how will I be able to cope when I’m in the thick of it (so to speak).

The midwife said I couldn’t have an epidural until I was 4cm dilated and given she’d only just examined me (40 mins ago) she advised me against another examination and told me to have a bath.

But something just didn’t feel right so I was adamant she did. About 5 mins later, she looked completely shocked, declared I was 9cm dilated and said that I needed to get to the labour ward as soon as possible. She rushed out to get a wheelchair and my poor husband ran around trying to get our belongings together whilst computing what she’d just said.

When I got to the labour ward, I was 10cm dilated (the pushing stage), and I felt much calmer. In fact I didn’t want the epidural after all which was lucky because it was too late for me to have it anyway. I just kept thinking I’m about to meet my baby and I won’t have to stay in this hospital for much longer (win win!). It took about 2 hours of pushing but when Archie was finally placed into my arms, I felt this overwhelming feeling of relief and happiness. He was everything I’d been hoping for – a beautiful healthy baby. And although it sounds ridiculously soppy every ounce of pain and anxiety was worth it.

The ‘ideal’ labour

Since meeting other mums I’ve realised that I’m not in the minority – many women don’t have the labour they envisage. I think part of this is because there’s this ideology that a good labour needs to be completely natural and in your control, which isn’t always possible (or desirable).

If you’re pregnant and reading this I’m assuming this is quite a scary prospect – it’s the fear of the unknown which is often the most challenging part. But know that even if it doesn’t turn out how you planned it, it doesn’t mean you’re going to have a ‘bad’ labour. I’m not sure what defines a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ labour anyway to be honest (I’ve never heard anyone refer to the former). It’s a process you have to go through to have a baby which let’s face it is never going to be the most enjoyable experience. But if you can, try to focus on the fact you’re about to meet your baby and at some point you will look back and think it was all completely worth it.

The waiting game (2 weeks overdue)

A fortnight. 2 weeks. 14 days. 336 hours. It may not seem like a long amount of time in the grand scheme of things but if anyone’s been overdue then you’ll know that it feels like a lifetime.

shallow focus of clear hourglass
Photo by Jordan Benton on Pexels.com

Planning the ‘ideal’ waiting time

Before I had Archie I commuted daily from London which resulted in about 3 hours of travelling every day. This quickly took its toll when I was heavily pregnant so I decided to give myself a few weeks off before baby arrived to enjoy ‘nesting’ and to put my feet up. Unfortunately what I hadn’t anticipated was Archie being super comfy and deciding he didn’t want to come out on his own accord (read my induction story here).

What was supposed to be a few blissful weeks turned into me at first suddenly panicking that baby might come early (I know the irony – for some reason my head couldn’t contemplate it in the opposite scenario!!). So week 1 consisted of me buying a few final bits I needed, putting some finishing touches to the nursery, doing a deep clean of the kitchen and doing all the crazy things someone does when in ‘nesting’ mode.

After that I had 4 weeks. Of just waiting. And willing something to happen. Whilst at the same time becoming more and more terrified at the prospect of labour.

The concerned friends and family

As my due date came and went, I started to receive daily messages from my friends and family asking me if I’d had the baby yet, had any twinges, any inkling as to when it might happen? I mean I’d never known anyone be so interested in my life – the pure definition of peer pressure!

To highlight the issue further, I was part of an NCT whatsapp group with 7 other women who had all given birth to their babies 9 days before Archie decided to make his appearance! I read detailed comparisons of how their baby was sleeping, feeding, pooing and everything else in between. All I wanted to do was actually meet mine!

As the time passed I began to have some irrational thoughts.  Maybe I would never meet my baby? Maybe I wasn’t even pregnant to begin with? I mean that sounds ridiculous now but at the time I honestly thought I would have a permanent bump and would be rocking maternity clothes forever (with those wonderful elasticated waist bands maybe it wouldn’t have been such a bad thing!).

I spent so much time worrying that I forgot to just enjoy it. To embrace the quiet and alone time. The excitement of meeting my baby.

I don’t want to sugar coat it too much because the reality is it can be very uncomfortable at the end of pregnancy. But I’d like to think if I ever got the chance to re-live it I’d eat my weight in Cadbury’s chocolate – when you’re pregnant there’s no such thing as overeating – and watch all my favourite Xmas films – because how can anyone be stressed watching Elf?!