Saturday, December 25, 2010

Ze year in review

It did not suck.
Unlike 2008 to be honest.
2009 was pretty good. 2010 was pretty good too.

Bring on 2011 though.

1. What did you do in 2010 that you'd never done before?
Gave birth.
Celebrated my first anniversary.
Turned 30.
Bought a Pulsar.
Signed a new lease to stay here for a 2nd year.
Grew a garden successfully.
Took time off work and study and just *was*.
Learnt lots about parks, toys, plastic, clothes and lots of other things.

2. Did you keep your new year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
This means I'd have to go find my resolutions. I had to dig around to find them too! They were:
- Give birth in my home
- Reach out to people and find some more irl friends
- Put my personal happiness and that of my family, above other things
- Spend less time on the internet
- Take a photo a day

I did pretty well as I achieved #1-#4. I completely forgot about #5 though so maybe this year? Now that I have an amazing camera and Lightroom.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Oh wow did they ever! I think there were a dozen new childerbeasts around me. I gave birth so that's pretty close as well.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
No. No one close to me has died recently to be honest.

5. What countries did you visit?
None. Sad that but I was busy ;).

6. What would you like to have in 2011 that you lacked in 2010?
Resolution for my injury case, better fitness and toned calves, less debt, a finished degree, less clutter (that's an oximoron I think? because that's less of something that's asking about what more that I want).

7. What date from 2010 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
12th of March - the day I became a mama.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Homebirthing my babe, without drugs and without help beyond great midwifery care. Breastfeeding her for 9 and a half months so far. Going back to work with a small child.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Still having a LOT of clutter. Not having my fitness back.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
No I've enjoyed rather rude health this year. Recovering from birth was harder than I thought, and I've had niggling hangovers from my injury but apart from that (oh and a broken toe) I've been healthy.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Thelma the Thermomix.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Julie Gillard - the first female elected prime minister of this fair country. My TheHusband who has weathered hormones, broken sleep and still loves me for who I am, failings and frayed bits and all.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Bronwyn, the mother who just isn't to me. It's her loss in the end but I doubt she realises just how much her appalling behaviour is distressing to so many people. The court system in South Australia which is pursuing a witch hunt of homebirth and may see us leave the country because of it.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Thelma, a new car, debt because my injury means that it's still going to take me 5 years to finish my degree and start earning $$. Food of the Good Sort.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Having a baby! A new diary. Thelma.

16. What song will always remind you of 2010?
Isn't she lovely? by Idea of North as that was what I listened to in the shower after giving birth. Forevermore by Katie Hertzig as I have used it for montages and other things that remind me of the people who are in my life forevermore.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. happier or sadder? Happier.
ii. thinner or fatter? Substantially less fat but that's baby weight rather than any value judgement.
iii. richer or poorer? Richer I think. Not only in the eosoterical measure of richness but also some savings, more shares and less debt kind of way.

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Drunk tea. Eaten Vietnamese food. Listened to music. Sung.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Worried about being a mama.

20. How will you be spending Christmas?
We sang carols at the Adelaide Rowing Club this morning and I'm about to put the turkey rolls and veges in the oven to have for dinner.

21. Did you fall in love in 2010?
With my baby, yes! With myself too. And TheHusband - he is an awesome husband and papa.

22. How many one-night stands?
None this year to report - I'd rather sleep than have sex at the moment. Ask me next year ;).

23. What was your favorite TV program?
Dr Who. Can't WAIT for the Boxing Day special either!!!!!!

24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
Yep and I'm adult enough to admit that.

25. What was the best book you read?
Raising your spirited child - doesn't really apply to my babe but it is a great parenting book.

26. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Katie Hertzig.

27. What did you want and get?
To feel like I have a clue about parenting.

28. What was your favorite film of this year?
Can't say I watched many sadly.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 30 and had a pre-birthday birthday in February. I had dinner with friends and got a SURPRISE combined gift from Kate of a KitchenAid.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Having my lawyer involvement finished. It's not even the money that that'd be nice, just conclusion to the damn thing.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2010?
Comfort, pants for bending, tops for feeding, dark colours or patterns so I can hide spills, and easy clean. Also good for wearing a wrap over.

32. What kept you sane?
Friends like Lori, Kelly, Kaz, Bec and Nic. Wine. Joyous Birth. Wine. 

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Colin Firth. I plan on spending the afternoon with him today too. It's Tradition!

34. Who did you miss?
So many people. Interstaters, too busy'ers, overseas'ers.

35. Who was the best new person you met?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Famous last words

Sigh. One of these days I will just know that when I'm passionate about something - a package is late in the mail, I've not heard back from x about y, something or other hasn't happened - that I'm just a day early! Because the day after my last post I got a call saying that Sally could get in for 2 days a week in the new year. So that's 2 days of it sorted. I could have panicked and said no, I need all days! but I feel the universe saying take this, it's all I could sort out at short notice, can that tide you over til I fill in the gaps? And so I am.

I went down yesterday to fill in the paperwork and today she had a trial in the morning of an hour. Or should I say that I had a trial because really, she thinks it's awesome and a lot of fun. I dropped her off, filled in more forms (about her routine, which made me twitch cause it's all very soft an flexible and not set times, and also about her food - breastfed baby so no milk, water is ok, doesn't like banana, drinks out of a cup but not a bottle), went to visit a dear friend, then went back and collected her and we went home.

Cue the whole "Ugh am I doing the right thing? Should she still be mostly-breastfed at this age? Can they cope with that? How is she going to go to sleep when she's not breastfed to sleep by me, or in a sling with TheHusband or Alice? Will she eat lots there? And affect our breastfeeding relationship? Or eat nothing? Can we afford this? We can't afford for me not to finish school but at what price to Sally? Will it be a good thing? I think it will be but is that my needing it to be ok rather than it actually being ok." And also all the feeling judged (not in a bad way but in a normal human way) by her, her outfit, her routine and development, her habits and peculiarities.

On the upside, the carers seemed really open to hearing everything I had to say about Sally and her eating and routine. They are also happy to do cloth nappies, which thrills my little heart. 

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Big changes afoot

This is a complicated post. Maybe grab tea before trying to read?

I have been on the hunt for childcare for Sally. Ugh. How do you choose? I asked some local friends for their recommendations and had a few names to try. The advice I got was to turn up unannounced and explain that you wanted to have a look. So I did that. And to go with my gut.

Well I did that. The first one I went to - well, let's just say that I wanted to go there myself. They have dirt. And gardens. And chickens and bunnies. And attachment theories. And lots of play equipment. Healthy food. Carers holding babes as they slept because they felt safer there. Patience.

And a 6-12 month waiting list. Sigh.

The next one I went to, was different. No natural light. No grass - just fake grass. No sky either. Just big sunshades. And the redeeming feature offered to me by the office manager was that they were recently enrolled in a new formula trial.

But I could get in immediately.

Sigh. Ugh. Fuck. SUCH hard things to find someone to do some of the raising of my child. Because that's what I think childcare is.

So I had to look very closely at why I need childcare. I have to renew my first aid certificate which will take a day. I am blessed to have friends who would help me out with that. But I also have to do a metric fuckload of placement next year to finish the groundhog day / never ending story / degree that never ends. Yup I'm enrolled to go back to school next year to finish two subjects to finish it. They are two 1/2 semester subjects though, so lots of work, and LOTS of placement. And TheHusband can't take enough leave to cover all of it. And I have to finish this damn degree next year.

The other thing is that Sally LOVES to be around other children. Especially childerbeasts of her own age. Loves it. And it'll be fabulous for her to have a carer beyond me and TheHusband. And stimulation and so forth. Plus having 2 days to do stuff is going to be interesting. I don't know what I'll do with myself but I'll tell you about it.

Anyway, the complicated part of this is that I feel, ever so urgently, the need to push on and finish this degree so I can move on into the industry. Or not. I have that small dream as well - to do my breastfeeding counsellor and community educator training with the Australian Breastfeeding Association, do a doula course and some childbirth education work, do more photography, and then go and do everything except register but do some work still with women and birthing.

You see, homebirth is under attack in another forum with the decision yesterday of the Supreme Court that the assistant coroner can investigate a stillbirth because there were signs of life. I can't imagine how traumatic those words would be for a mother to hear that her child had signs of life, when she has made some kind of peace perhaps with the past and that her midwife did all she could to help her birth the baby alive. But from a midwifery point of view, this is world-changing. When someone is mentioned in the same decision as manslaughter because they attended a birth that ended badly, it makes me stop and think about whether this is a situation that I want in on as an independant midwife.

I got into this when I didn't have a plan B (hell I didn't even have a plan A!) and now it looks that I might need another plan.

Friday, December 10, 2010

What the duece!?

Is anyone else having a crazy time at the moment?
  • A forum I'm on has had somewhat trying times at the moment. Yes, a forum. So no, not the real world. Except it is part of the real world for me as I made the transition to being friends with my local members while I was pregnant and newly mama'd. A change was made recently that has completely upended the way things were and perhaps not in a bad way, as change is often a good thing, but it's been done inelegantly and brusqely and has upset quite a few people.
  • Work is going through a huge period of transition with a new management team and lots of changes to the team. Which is fine as I embrace change and would rather not waste energy against changes but rather adapt to them as they come. I am also there 12 hours a week out of 90-odd that the business trades, so it's easy for me not to be involved.
  • A Supreme Court case here in South Australia was decided that will upend the definitions of life and death as we know it, and will change midwifery. This is tied with changes to registration and qualification of midwives in this country as well. HUGE changes but well-blogged about elsewhere.
It's almost like the universe has plucked people out of situations where there is a tension in the system, but the players in said system are not willing or able to back down from their position and so the systems have stagnated. The universe has then replaced those players with people who are going to do something completely different. So a manager making big decisions and not going along with the way things used to be, a moderator making changes to how things were running completely out of left field, a court making a right-wing decision about something that has huge implications for so many things.

My bet is that it has something to do with the pending lunar eclipse and solstice together on the 21st. Between then and the fairy moon in July 2011 though, I'd hold onto my floatie and try to stay afloat on the surging storm that will boil away underneath you. If you're caught up in it, take a deep breath and swim with the current, like in a rip, until you get to calmer water.

On the other hand, I felt my life click and settle onto me bone-deep yesterday. It's a life I like, as mama and wife and employee and student and feng shui learner and life coach to my friends and interior decorator and painter and so on. So much so that I finally, some 18 months after doing so legally, changed my voicemail greeting today to change my name to my married one.

Friday, December 3, 2010

What kind of parent am I?

We are what is called "natural parents" which is kind of crazy cause it's, ah, natural for anyone to be a parent right? It's because we practice "natural parenting" - the crazy idea that our child is, from birth, human. We parent in response to our child and consciously. I try to stop and think "What am I thinking", even to the point of saying it out loud when I need a moment to think about how I'm going to react to something that is presented to me.

From the Natural Parent Network, there are a few goals that sum up what we're on about. We prepared for our pregnancy and birth consciously. That meant actually talking (a lot) about having a child and consciously deciding to conceive. This didn't mean that we timed it and planned it to the nth degree but we did decide to welcome a child at a given time and it was right for us. We maintained our relatively healthy and active lifestyle and were very educated about the best healthcare provider for us and the best birth and plans for feeding and having a newborn.

Exclusive breastfeeding here! After a whole lot of dramas in getting going, we have stuck it out and I plan to keep feeding until she wants to stop. If that's when she's 2, ok. If it's night feeds to sleep at 4, great. I am happy to follow her lead. Same with introducing normal food. We have followed her lead on that entirely. She gave us very clear signals about wanting to eat (open mouth, zombie noises, reaching for it) and has taken to a few things with gusto. We eat homemade mostly, organic some of the times and consciously most of the time - and this trend is increasing as we move towards more organics as well with summer approaching.

We have the "crazy" notion that our child is not trying to manipulate us but is trying to communicate. She rarely cries unless hurt. She sleeps with us because it's easier as well as safer and warmer. The need for physical contact is clear with her and she is cuddley and comforted by our presence. We try to watch our language and as parents we often talk about the parenting we see around us and how it fits with our philosophy. We discipline gently, baby wear as much as possible, demand feed, have something of a rhythm each day but nothing like a routine, are fairly laid back and try to spend much of our day enjoying life, not working or cleaning or studying.

We are trialling a calendar where everything goes on it. Work, play, commitments, gym, rent day, birthdays, pay day. Everything.

We have one car and try not to use it every day. We eat organic where we can, cook from scratch a lot, choose eco-friendly, cloth nappy, support local growers, are passioate about homebirth and avoiding plastic, practice holistic health care (minimal doctors, well researched choices about vaccination, good food and exercise, are getting more into herbs and essential oils, visit a chiropractor, get regular massages, gave birth naturally, are trying not to gender our child at this early age but give her clothes of all colours and toys of all kinds.

We both have good body images and don't smoke, drink in moderation, enjoy life and listen to music.
And this from the Natural Parent website:

Above all, natural parenting is making the choice to develop a deep bond with your children and family based on mutual respect. An attached child grows into a mature and interdependent individual who understands how to develop healthy, secure relationships with others.

Monday, November 8, 2010

And it comes to a screeching halt

Left shoulder has flared up badly. Typing is hard and painful so a month of blogging aint gonna happen. I am seeing a new physio tomorrow so I hope to have some answers that aren't the fears that I have - that I am going to go back to the very dark place I was in 2 years ago with the pain and disability. There have been tears and upsets as it's impacting on looking after Sally and breastfeeding which is why I hate and rail so much at this.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Day 05 – Your definition of love

Is holding me while I cry and telling me that you hear my tears.
The look on my babe's face when I come back to her.
How I feel about dumplings, about good white wine, and about food in general.
Is being accepted and welcomed for who I am and being looked up to for it, not in spite of it.
Always knowing that you're there to reach out to if I need you.
The warm completeness I have when I'm with friends and family.
Knowing that I have both, and am both.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Day 04 – Your music

I love music! I need music for company during the day when I'm home alone, and love the digital TV's ABC Classic FM station. I like a mix of music though. Some of my favourites at the moment would be:
  • Elena Kats-Chernin, composer of Wild Swans and other pieces
  • Katie Herzig
  • Anything from the 1990s
  • Anything with a decent backbeat or bass line
  • Most of what I've sung of the choral variety
  • Dixie Chicks
Which is funny, as I don't like listening to choral music and especially detest organ music where there's a bit of organ, and a bit of choir, and a bit more organ.

I've been singing in AICSA choirs since 1997 on and off. I've sung in choirs in Canberra, Adelaide and Sydney as well as attending annual festivals of the choirs from around the whole country in Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne a couple of times, Adelaide and Hobart. I am a first soprano but also have sung alto a couple of times. I don't tend to sing solos or small groups due to some really traumatic experiences - I have a good ensemble voice.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

It's that time of the year again...

Now that Beltane is over, I can think about the end of the year. Solstice, Christmas, Giftmas, Hanukkah, Yule is on its way! So how will you celebrate this year? What do you celebrate? And how will you survive emotionally, financially, logistically and happily?

We don't celebrate Christmas per se. We will celebrate the Solstice on 21/12 (it's a partial lunar eclipse this year!!!!) with dinner and presents, and Christmas Day is whatever rolls. If DH's family organises something and invites us then joy, we'll go. But I refuse to (a) organise (b) host (c) poke people to get organised, seeing as we don't really "do" it, and if it's left too late we will just do our traditional slow-cooker turkey roll, roast veges or bbq'd, alcohol and a Colin Firth movie festival at home on the day. We have an open house at some stage as well for all orphans or escapees from the insanity that is/can be Christmas Day.

We are handmaking most of our gifts this year. Here is a great list of gifts to make for toddlers and babies. I have bought Sally some play silks and shhhhh I have already thought about what to get TheHusband and YAY for the exchange rate! cause it means I can get him what I want to. We sat down in October and put down 5 things we wanted each, in case we needed inspiration. And wrote a list for Sally of things we would be happy for her to get - wooden blocks, books, that kind of thing.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

NaNoBloMo Day 02 - Your first love

His name was Eward and he and his sister Jane were in my class. He smelled nice and was kind. He had lovely eyelashes and before I knew it we were trading our sandwiches - my plum jam for his strawberry.

We were 7 or 8? and I remember it being different to how I felt about my family or friends. I think there may have been kiss-chasey involved at some point too.

Monday, November 1, 2010

NaNoBloMo Day 01 - Introduce Myself

Hi! My name is Emma and I am 30. I am a complex, complicated soul who has had several lives already, which when I tell you about something like my previous jobs you'll question whether I'm just 30 or a pathological liar.

I am one of 5 children. I am a wife, and mama to one beautiful baby girl. I am a hearth witch in development, an avid cook, the proud owner of my sanity and working on squishing my Inner Good Girl and being true to myself and authentic. That means that I'm working on not pleasing people but being true to myself.

I don't have a good imagination. If you've met me in person you'd probably doubt this as I'm a creative crafty type. I've previously cut all my hair off and dyed in pink and purple - I'm planning a few chunks of colour in the near future. I'm all kinds of strange but mostly my "strange" is because I don't comply with what you think I should.

I may or may not shave my legs. I'm kind of lacking in the hair growing arena - even after 6 months my leg hair is only 1cm ish long, which is kind of sad. I have dry skin post-pregnancy so shaved them so I could moisturise properly. But I'm slack about shaving them so the hair will grow as it wants.

My hair grows fast. I have more than my fair share of it. I don't suffer from hayfever, I birthed my babe at home, I don't have a sweet tooth and do not like chocolate. I am a hopeless romantic and struggle to reconcile my intense independence and feminist ways with accepting that I am the heart of my household and if I don't lead then it ain't going to happen.

I am sensitive and observant and intuitive. I have a level of prescience that fluctuates and annoys me mostly because I don't take it seriosuly and often only in hindsight am aware of what I knew. I am insanely smart and skipped a few years at school. I do not like flying insects. I love to sing, I can't read music very well despite 14 years of singing in choirs and more than that prior to learn the flute. I have a crazy memory for things like the Prime Ministers of Australia (learned in year 7) and songs and music that I've not seen for years.

I have a very womanly body, even more so after carrying and feeding a child. I have wide feet and strangely crumpled little toes. I have chronic injuries from an accident 3 and a bit years ago, but have decided that enough is enough and I need to move on from that. I am sensitive to my hormones so pregnancy, postpartum, breastfeeding and so on has been a drag. I'm 5'6" tall, not especially fit but have a penchant for skirts and a preppy look. I hate jeans shopping with a passion, buy shoes occassionally and am not very hard on my possessions so still have awesome shoes that are 5-6 years old.

I left home at 16, have lived in a lot of cities, hail from Sydney but now live in Adelaide, and my favourite season in Autumn.

If I had to sum myself up right now, I'd say I'm a mama who practices gentle/attachment parenting, cloth nappying, breastfeeding, co-sleeping and loving her babe to piece, a student midwife, an aspirational herbal/aromatherapy healer, a budding photographer, a lover of tea, a great cook, avid writer and sometimes knitter. Pleased to meet you!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Thirty days has September, April, June and November

So I'm doing NaNoBloMo again this year. For 30 days I'll blog every day. Just as a prewarning, here's what I'll talk about. Yeah I have a plan, stolen from someone else so I guess that makes it a meme. Sue me.

Day 01 - Introduce yourself
Day 02 – Your first love
Day 03 – Your parents
Day 04 – Your music
Day 05 – Your definition of love
Day 06 – Your hobbies
Day 07 – Your best friend
Day 08 – A precious item
Day 09 – Your beliefs
Day 10 – An inspiration
Day 11 – Your siblings
Day 12 – What’s in your bag
Day 13 – Your mode of transportation
Day 14 – Where you live
Day 15 – Something you love about yourself
Day 16 – Your first kiss
Day 17 – Your favourite memory
Day 18 – Your favourite birthday
Day 19 – Something you regret
Day 20 – Your morning routine
Day 21 – Your job and/or schooling
Day 22 – Something that upsets you
Day 23 – Something that makes you feel better
Day 24 – Something that makes you cry
Day 25 – Your sleeping habits
Day 26 – Your fears
Day 27 – Your favourite place
Day 28 – Something that you miss
Day 29 – Your favourite foods/drinks
Day 30 – Your aspirations

Off I go!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Nine meals away from anarchy

Work with me here - this is a bit of a rambling path of a post.

I recently heard a radio interview with someone from CHOICE magazine about their Shonky awards and the main part that I heard was their critique of Coles' Feed a Family of 4 for under $10 promotion. CHOICE said:

Shonky for ten-buck blow-out goes to... Coles

When we were culling our list of nominees down to a manageable eight, the clouds of conundrum hovered over Coles: so many potential Shonky awards, but which one to give?(snip) However, we decided to give the Shonky for its loaves-and-fishes $10 meals, where you can supposedly make some Curtis Stone MasterCreation to feed four people for less than $10 – provided, it turns out, if you happen to have some of the stuff in your pantry already and you manage to convince Coles to let you buy two cloves of garlic or one bay leaf. We calculated Curtis’ $7.76 Coq au vin would cost $37.74 if you bought all the necessary ingredients – including the integral half-litre of vin, which somehow wasn’t included in the $7.76 (though you’d perhaps hope not for that price). And it wasn't just that recipe - the $9.99 Chicken Tikka Masala set us back $39.74.
And the person from CHOICE being interviewed snickered and chortled about "who has that well-stocked a pantry" and "why would you have half the ingredients in your pantry when a supermarket is just around the corner" and so on. The interviewer agreed with her, all the while agreeing that it was unreasonable to have things like wine, stock, herbs, spices, garlic and so forth on hand.

I take a lot of pride in our pantry. I should take a photo of it to put here but for now I can tell you that I could probably feed my family for about 3 weeks on what is in there, maybe more. I have flour, sugar, salt, yeast, milk, cream, pulses and lentils and beans, vegetables, pasta, rice, tinned tomatoes and a whole lot of other things that are stocked in there. If I had a larder I would be serious about stockpiling our food. We also have a chest freezer full of meat. With a Thermomix now, we don't need to have food precooked so much - just a few bits and pieces in the freezer for a true emergency or for someone else to feed us with, rather than heat-and-eat meals.

This is for two reasons. Firstly, our income can be a bit cyclical and when we've got more income, we can stock up on things and "save" that way.

Secondly, as peaktavists, we are sure that at some point soon we will have an energy crisis that will mean there will be a problem with food supply, even here in Adelaide in an established first world country. It happened in the UK just this year. And it will happen here in Australia sometime soon. Milk and bread will go first. Then fruit and vegetables. Then canned and frozen goods, toilet paper, first aid/pain relief and packaged items like pasta and chocolate.

I recently heard another discussion, on the ABC so I should be able to add it in later, about organic food and food security - which, like water security, will be buzz words of 2011 I think - and someone spoke about the situation where any country is only 9 meals away from anarchy. Some say it's only 4 meals though.  

And so - we have a well-stocked pantry. I'm working on building it into a larder, with extra things like toilet paper and spices. We have a "zombie store" as well - extra long lasting foods, in tins, as well as water and toilet paper. For the impending zombia apocalypse. We have a garden that will hopefully produce more than just spinach soon. We have friends with eggs, and we have skills to trade.

And that is what is going to help us. I can bake, and I have a recipe book - or a dozen - because yes, I do use the internet for a lot of recipes but in the real world one day the internet might not be there. I can make soap, make a lotion, make a cream, make a balm. I have good aromatherapy knowledge and a stock of oils to use. I have books to refer to for first aid as well as the skills. I have a strong TheHusband who can do all kinds of mechanical and labouring type things. We try to be low maintenance in general with our health and wellbeing.

And so, I maintain a pantry. Just in case one day we can't access the superpantry, just-in-time, don't worry I'll just pop out and get some life that is being foisted on us. It's not paranoia, but a form of saving for a rainy day.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

How to peel peas like a monkey

The other day when I was shelling peas - oh have you seen them!

They are beautiful and the first blush of Spring on my palatte.

And then I mangled the end of one too many.

And I thought there has to be a better way. And of course, you may have seen the banana thing that's going around on YouTube.

And guess what?

It works really well. And you can open down one side and pull them out.

OR unzip so you have the on either side and it looks really cute.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Inside me is an organised person wanting out!

A few weeks ago, I realised something. I'm not organised despite thinking that I am! I'm not neat, or tidy. I am clean, but not fastidious. My house is not a shrine to anything but was getting a hint of clutter. And why? Well being me, I did dig into the "why" of it and came up with... I'm a perfectionist. Can't clean the fridge because I won't be able to do it perfectly. Can't fold the washing or clean the bath because it won't be perfect.

Which is silly now that I write it out. But that's how I felt when I really dug into it. So I signed up for FlyLady. There, I said it. I signed up for a pep talk about how to shine my sink. Why did I do that, you ask? Well I had to admit to myself that what we were doing as a family wasn't really working. Expecting TheHusband to actually take charge and do stuff and ask me to do stuff and have Expectations about housework and food and bill paying and money and so on wasn't going to happen.

As an aside, I did dig into what I had this expectation that he would have Expectations of me. And it came down to cheese sandwiches. My mother as far as I can remember didn't make me lunch as a child. I had an (ingrained? socially developed? reasonable?) expectation that I would have my lunch made, or a cake made for the end of year picnic, or something like that, and if I think on it all I can remember is being disappointed by not having lunch, and not having a cake.

Maybe my dislike of sweets comes from there? Hmmmmmm... not everything is a Thing though. Back to what I was saying.

So I can remember going to school without lunch, and to dance classes on a Saturday and not having lunch. Of looking longingly at the children who were getting KFC for lunch and maybe being able to scrimp a chip from them. Of wishing I had money but never having it to have lunch like that. So I came to hate lunch and still struggle with it now. But I love sandwiches if they're freshly made and interesting and have always had a thing for cheese sandwiches.

So I had an expectation of something from my mother. And didn't get it. And so have always had a thing about what I think parents/husbands/partners should be and do and it was not met and I carried that disappointment into my marriage. But it wasn't working. The housework wasn't getting done because I was expecting TheHusband to ask me to do it and then I could get all het up about not doing it because it wasn't My Job to do it! It should be shared! Equally!!

But this is not the case in reality. I had to be ok with being in charge. I've struggled with being in charge in our family as my mother was nasty about being in charge of our family and it was her way or none. But I bit the bullet the other day and took! charge! We now have a rhythm to our week, a new budget, a cleaner house, the energy to do stuff and a Thermomix on the way.

Rhythm? WTF is that? Well, I refuse to say routine. But I was so caught up by my need to do something perfectly and totally that I couldn't start. But knowing on Monday that I clean the bathroom for 15 minutes and that's it, and on Thursday I do the food shopping and errands, and Tuesday the markets and cooking/baking, and Saturday is family day, and what vaguely we're having for dinner each night and suddenly instead of me feeling like the house is overwhelming me, it is cleaner and neater and easier to straighten up in 15 minute bouts. I now relish my days at home, enjoy having a clean kitchen to wake up to, know that our garage sale is coming and things will be cleared out of the garage then, have cleared out my closet and now have clothes to wear and can find them, and am generally happier.

I have also done things that I've been meaning to.
I bought an address book and have written people's addresses down.
I have written out the months of the year and whose birthdays are where, what things happen in what months (bike rides, festivals etc), and things to look forward to.
I have written all over our calendar and now need to think about one for 2011.
I've made notes about the whole family's sizes and preferences, listed 5 ideas for each of us for Giftmas should people ask, written out our gift list for said festival and planned my makings and buyings so that it won't be a huge drain on us. 

I've also looked more into my spiritual side, how to celebrate things the way we want to, how to celebrate Sally's first Summer Solstice, tarot, herbs and healing and I even cast on a new project which is not useful or needed - a shawl no less!

Now to clear out my blog feed, purge my knitting UFOs, have a garage sale and enjoy living more in the day than previously.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

I've started a few posts...

But thought I'd actually post this time.
  • I feel weird atm. I've been trying to work out a balance of St Johns Wort, an anti-anxiety tea, bush flower essences, exercise, relaxation ad sleep. And I think I've found a sweet spot this week but have been struggling a bit with anxiety and the black dog sniffing around.
  • Sally is awesome. She has learnt how to click her tongue, is raising her arms when she wants up, requests a 7pm bedtime, has trialled a few solids and is a ham! most of the time. She's not crawling but can roll with determination and is doing an inchworm kind of thing. I'm planning on taking her to swimming lessons come summer too. She's nearly 7 months old!
  • I think I'll become a hearth witch when I grow up.
  • We tidied the garage today and are going to have a garage sale in early November. We have so much stuff to just get rid of and there's no point holding onto the clutter when it's sucking energy out of our lives. So the extra furniture, excess linen now that we've upsized our bed, extra clothes, couches, books and so on will go for cheap or to a good home.
  • TheHusband and I sat down today and wrote lists of our basic measurements for clothes, preferences for foods and drinks, and shoe sizes. Makes shopping a bit easier. Also wrote a list of things we would like for Giftmas. Given that we don't celebrate it and it's going to be "fun" to navigate it with a Childerbeast this year, I thought we'd get it early with some ideas for the inevitable questions.
  • We're going to get photos taken of us as a family and gift them to people. And for our close friends who won't care for that, I have evil plans afoot! involving food and buttons.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

10 things I plan to do in the next little while

Ooooooh a 3 year plan. Exciting, isn't it? Well, further to my 101 things to do in 1001 days, which I'm halfway through or thereabouts on the calendar but only 1/3rd of the way through!!, I'm feeling the need to revisit, reconsider and rewrite. Yes I will admit that there are things on that list that I don't want to do anymore (blue high heels? What was I thinking??), and things that I want to add and focus on. So I'll update my list, and am going to write another one eventually because that's #101 on my list.

But in the meantime, here are 10 other things I want to achieve before the end of 2012.
  1. Complete my Bachelor of Midwifery
  2. Study to be a breastfeeding counsellor with the Australian Breastfeeding Association
  3. Become an accredited child birth educator
  4. And maybe do a breastfeeding course too
  5. Learn how to use my Nikon D40
  6. Learn how to edit my photos
  7. Run a course in babywearing (that's something percolating at the moment)
  8. Master my breadmachine
  9. Work out Who Am I
  10. Enjoy Summer :)

Friday, September 3, 2010

Branching out into a new form of expression

Yesterday I dropped the car off at the mechanic and walked home with Sally on my back. I had packed my camera into my bag as I left the house - it was a minimal bag with no baby stuff, my keys/wallet/mobile triad, water, sunglasses. camera.


I took my time and wended my way through the suburbs back to my house. It was a short walk (3-4km perhaps?) and lovely mild Spring weather.

Sally went to sleep on my back pretty quickly and so I was even less inclined to hurry home. We'd had a pretty ordinary night as she's cutting another tooth and going through a brain growth phase. At just less than 6 months she is now adept at rolling over back-->front and is mobile. Not crawling or creeping but enough so she can move and throw up on my boot this afternoon though.

I took the opportunity to use my camera (which is just a point and shoot Sony DSC-W180) and test out its marco function.

I love taking photos and this week I bought a "new" camera which has upgraded me from "I take photos" to "maybe I'm a photographer". I bought a second hand Nikon D40 from a professional photographer with an extra two batteries, 18-55 Nikkor lens, charger, strap and a UV filter.

I want to be knowledgeable about photography and cameras and so forth but I also want to just explore an artform. I'm not artistic at all. I'm crafty and creative but art, not so much. Is photography an artform? Not prepared to open that can o' worms right here but is this the artform that I've been looking for?

Oh yeah, back to the photographs. This one above is awesome - I loved the dew and didn't realise it had a bug in it as well but I will get into Lightroom and see how much I can blow it up.

So for giftmas this year, expect photographs from me :). And yes please for photography tips, or suggestions of equipment or things to photograph. I like little things, and flowers because of their colours. And rainbows. I'm not brave enough to get into photographing people yet but I want to!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

10 things I planned to do today... and the things that I did do

Funny how a day at home with plans to clean and neaten and Do Things goes to pot, hey. Here's my delusional list and my actual:
  1. Clean the kitchen benches
  2. Make the bed
  3. Tidy the bedroom - clean the bedhead off, dust, sweep
  4. Do a load of nappies
  5. Fold Sally's clothes
  6. And the nappies
  7. And the basket of adult clothes
  8. Clean up the freezer and see what's in there
  9. Bake a cake
  10. Tidy up the loungeroom 
It's a delusional list. I have a 5 month old babe. It's not like I was going to get all of these things done! Even on a good day. Do I have overblown ideas about my productivity, or am I slack? Cause what I have done is:
  1. Load of nappies
  2. Load of adult clothes
  3. Showered and bathed us both
  4. Run the dishwasher
  5. Spent 2+ hours boobing on the couch
  6. Twice
  7. Bought a "new" camera and learned lots about it
  8. Didn't go crazy in the grey cold weather that replaced the hint of Spring we had a few days ago
  9. Played on the floor
  10. Cleaned off the bedhead, tidied the bedroom floor and played with Sally
I know, it doesn't matter. The house is fine and lived in. Sally is happy, fed, carried, loved and safe (and asleep atm). I am dressed and even have shoes on!

I watched Oprah today and the segment was about OCD. One woman had a lot of issues with cleanliness and shared that she spent 5 hours a day cleaning the house. Her house was spotless and unlivedin and I thought huh I'm not doing too badly to have a house that is a work in progress and I don't spend any where near that amount a day and if that's what it takes then I'm not doing that.

I did start a post yonks ago about why we have clean houses. It's no longer to avoid disease or keep vermin down (past a point, of course). Beyond hygiene, is there any need to obsess about a clean house? And is having a bathroom with hair on the floor, a bit of dust on the ducks, a smidge of scale on the glass - which is still cleaned each week or so - a sign of a bad housekeeper? A bad person? A bad parent? Is disorder and clutter a bad thing as well? Is it disorder and clutter or just how I live my life? Yes I can find things that I don't use very often if they're in the right place but things I use all the time just live close to where I use them.


Monday, August 30, 2010

A new blog to love on

I love me a wee little blog.

Source: Wee Folk Art
Wee Folk Art is the most amazing and engrossing blog. They have inspired me to do the Friday photo as well. But in the meantime, go look over their threads about homeschooling, the seasons, craft, homecraft etc.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

By the time I've bought mostly organic, near-whole, Australian grown/made/produced, fish safe, whale safe, chemical free and ethically produced - I'm exhausted!

Or also known as "whole foods don't have nutrition panels" - why we try to buy products that have no nutritional information on them.

It's exhausting. What do you fight for? Australian grown, made and produced? Imported but certified organic? Locally but conventionally produced? It's so hard to make these judgements but it helps to have a heirachy.

My personal bent is that it is locally produced. I won't buy produce from other countries - it is just wrong to eat things that are flown in from across the world. I preferentially buy locally made organic produce, but that's not always available.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

How about that election...

No it's not a post about the election. It's been written about so much better in so many other places. But what it does mean is that we are seriously thinking about emigrating somewhere else. Not just because The Mad Monk may get into power - that won't be known for a while yet. And not just because the whole country has gone crazy and can't decide whether it's Arthur or Martha. But also there is so much crap going around in midwifery and women's health and primary vs tertiary health and control of midwifery and women's choices and SO MANY OTHER THINGS that we are considering seriously moving to New Zealand.

And before Cluttercut smothers me with excited yays, it's still a plan. I might get a graduate position with the Women's and Children's Hospital, or work at the local private hospital instead. I need to provide for my family and independant midwifery is just so up in the air and conflicted at the moment that I can't see a way forward with it right now, just a whole lot more confusion and paperwork and nastiness. Practicing as an indy could be exposed and dangerous and at some point, the past 4 years (going to be 5 by the time I finish) of being supported by TheHusband means that I have to also think about giving something back to my family.

So a rough plan is to make plans for the next year and a half, finish my degree and qualify, then move.

Hahahahaha *wipes tears away* yes I make it sounds easy.

I would get a job over there and perhaps TheHusband would be a SAHP (stay at home papa) or else Sally could be cared for (hmmmm nanny perhaps?) and he could work at Bunnings over there. Or do something with the PhD of Doom that should be finished by the end of the month (bwahahahahahahahahahahahaha I'll be over here rolling on the floor laughing about that one). 

So many things to think about. How to pay for it? Can I take my kitty, who's gone everywhere around the country but is 11 years old and I'm not sure if she will be ok with moving countries but how can I leave her behind?

Do we sell our worldly possessions and start again over there? Do we ship stuff over? What's important enough to warrant doing that with (books and clothes only?) and what can stay behind (furniture obviously)?

Are we going permanently? Stepping away from our family and community here and into an unknown? How do we work out where to move to?

Advice? Don't do it? Do it do it do it? Watch this tag for more development.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Ever feel like you're stalking someone?

I bought a baby hat pattern book for knitting a while ago:

Source: Amanda Keys
Go to (and to buy it!)

And now I've stalked her blog and entered a competition to win an Itti Bitti prize pack:

Source: Amanda Keys Photography
Which feels like a joining of several paths - I've met Amanda through knitting in Sydney many moons ago, and I love that book, and I adore those nappies.

So either that's weird, or I need to get out more :).

Sunday, July 18, 2010

10 things I have to do this week

Ugh - I'm feeling a tad anxious as I have a HUGE list of things to do this week. So writing them down will help me sleep better.

1. Pay for and pick up our new car!!!!
     It's new to us - 2002 Nissan Pulsar. Which means Saffy is for sale:

    2. Get Saffy detailed, serviced and that little scratch buffed out.
    3. Deposit cheques (ugh I hate having to do that!).
    4. Call my psychologist and get an appointment.
    5. Call my massage therapist and do the same.
    6. Restart my gym membership and go back to classes and aqua and swimming.
    7. Post a lot of packages - yarn, Calorimetry, pattern books, purple shoes, letters, duck charms,
    8. Wait for our tax returns!!!!
    9. Wait for lots of packages and letters to arrive - damn AustPost is sucking the proverbial atm.
    10. Prep for our Christmas in July celebration for next weekend:
    * Menu thoughts? Turkey roll I reckon, and lots of vegetables, and mulled apple juice for drinks.

    Thursday, July 8, 2010

    Reflections on my birth - and reasons why I would always birth at home

    I was the first to touch her.
    I was the first to hold her and smell her.
    No one made her cry or worry and the look on her face when she was born was just priceless and serene and so calm.
    She opened those big blue eyes and connected with me so solidly.
    I couldn't believe that I'd climbed my Everest and roared a baby earthside.

    Interestingly as well, my blessingway tie ended up very felted and tights around my left wrist by the end of this process (in and out of the shower, and then in the hot pool). It was a relief to cut it off today, on day 2, as it was tight and had done its job. It was gorgeous and amazing while I had it though. It is in Sally's box file now.

    In reflection, my training only kicked in once I'd birthed and was worrying about the blood loss and placenta - before that I was just a woman doing what a woman does. Julie wasn't keen on doing anything about my placenta but I was done, and sore, and tired and just wanted the process complete. I have since printed my placenta, and cut up the smaller lobe for a placenta remedy (frozen in pieces to take every day) and the larger bit frozen for Sally to have planted in a wine barrel. We will find a tree that is fruiting around her birthday and plant it over the placenta once rotted down. That way we can always take it with us when we move.

    I never had any strict plans for this birth beyond “at home” and “no drugs” and “it's probably all normal and I have a care provider to keep watch”. I was happy to take it as it came and in the end, that's what I did. Perhaps I took it too easy and didn't realise that things were taking a long time relative to the timeline of rushed births I've experienced in hospitals.

    I wouldn't say that I enjoyed the process but it was such a huge experience that it's taken me months to write this story. Julie ended up doing way more than I thought she would, and I think she went beyond what she normally does in a birth as well. There were several examinations, and the water injection, and the intervention to get Sally to tip her head down, and to protect my perinium etc, and the surprisingly managed third stage. But for me, the alternative of transferring wasn't even considered. And these were things that I welcomed as I couldn't work around them, or through them, and when a solution was offered I considered it and either chose it or rejected it and was never pressured to do anything.

    Julie wasn't there to save me. She walked the journey beside me in a way I never really understood before. She was attentive without being invasive or dictatorial, and I love that of her. She helped my support people be there for me – I wouldn't trade that for the world – and encouraged TheHusband to be there with me rather than hanging back, but in the end just let me get on with it.

    In the cold light of day and in debriefing, I am pretty sure of a few things. If I'd been in hospital, I would have (a) begged for pain relief (b) been offered pain relief instead of support (c) had a c-section (d) had a different outcome if my membranes had been ruptured artificially (due to the succenturiate placenta) and (e) been a mess at the end of it. Instead I can stand tall and say:


    Labour started: 2am 11/03/2010
    Established slowly but hard work from: 4pm 11/03/2010
    Pushing: 3am ish 12/03/2010
    Birth: 6:43am 12/03/2010

    Tuesday, July 6, 2010

    Do you have a uniform?

    In the past year, I've gone from uni student to being a little pregnant, heavily pregnant, newly a mama and now basically back to where I was beforehand. Well that's not entirely true - I am now a size up from where I was before but given it's my beautiful childbearing hips that have changed shape, and my lovely baby-feeding breasts that have also gotten in on the party, I'm not complaining!

    So on the weekend I went to a clothes swap, where a lot of my size 10 tops and dresses went to a good home and my size 7.5 shoes to the same home, while I picked up a couple of tops, two dresses, some light pants, a singlet or two and some flat shoes. I got rid of two pairs of court shoes for a few other things, and a scarf or two I think. I feel that I got as good as I gave, which is important as it's all in my head - there's no measuring or transacting going on with this, just people contributing then taking.

    Anyway, what I did notice in the clothes that I chose, is that I have a uniform. Something like, during Winter:
    • jeans and a fitted top and a vest
    • jeans and a dress
    • skirt, knee high socks, Mary Jane shoes and a top, with or without a vest
    • pants and v-neck sweater
    • skivvy and vest and long swishy skirt
    Very preppy I guess, if I had to describe it. It makes shopping easy as I found the other day - I bought a vest to replace my outgrew from ones, and suddenly I had an entirely NEW wardrobe for winter. If I need a new pair of shoes, it's a pair of Mary Janes or sneakers. A new top - of a few colours (bright jewel colours), perhaps black or white at a pinch. It makes me life easy and I think I look good.

    So what's your uniform?

    Monday, July 5, 2010

    More about yesterday's post - that AJOG article

    Which can be read here.Just a short point while I eat dinner. The exclusions for this study:
    To identify a low obstetrical risk population, we excluded multiple gestations, preterm deliveries <37 weeks, smokers, women with pregestational or gestational diabetes, chronic hypertension, hypertensive disorders of pregnancy, or prior cesarean. Demographics included maternal age, race, education, and timeliness of registering for prenatal care. Maternal morbidity measures in this low-risk population included chorioamnionitis (clinical diagnosis of chorioamnionitis during labor made by delivery attendant, usually includes 1 of the following: fever, uterine tenderness and/or irritability, leukocytosis, fetal tachycardia, any maternal temperature 38°C [100.4°F]), fetal intolerance of labor (in utero resuscitative measures, eg, any of the following: maternal position change, oxygen administration to the mother, intravenous fluids administered to the mother, amnioinfusion, support of maternal blood pressure, and administration of uterine relaxing agents; further fetal assessment includes any of the following: scalp pH, scalp stimulation, acoustic stimulation; operative delivery is operative intervention to shorten time to delivery of the fetus, eg, forceps, vacuum, or cesarean delivery), prolonged labor (labor that progresses slowly and lasts for >20 hours), precipitous labor (labor that progresses rapidly and lasts for <3 hours), and meconium staining (staining of the amniotic fluid caused by passage of fetal bowel contents during labor and/or at delivery that is more than enough to cause a greenish color change of an otherwise clear fluid). Newborn morbidity included assisted ventilation (infant given manual breaths for any duration with bag and mask or bag and endotracheal tube within the first several minutes from birth, excludes oxygen only and laryngoscopy for aspiration of meconium), assisted ventilation >6 hours (infant given mechanical ventilation [breathing assistance] by any method for <6 hours, includes conventional, high-frequency, and/or continuous positive pressure), birth injury (defined as present immediately following delivery or manifesting soon after delivery, includes any bony fracture or weakness or loss of sensation but excludes fractured clavicles and transient facial nerve palsy; soft tissue hemorrhage requiring evaluation and/or treatment, includes subgaleal [progressive extravasation within the scalp] hemorrhage, giant cephalohematoma, extensive truncal, facial, and/or extremity ecchymosis accompanied by evidence of anemia and/or hypovolemia and/or hypotension; solid organ hemorrhage, includes subcapsular hematoma of the liver, fractures of the spleen, or adrenal hematoma), neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) admission (admission into a facility or unit staffed and equipped to provide continuous mechanical ventilatory support for a newborn), seizures (seizure is any involuntary repetitive, convulsive movement or behavior; serious neurologic dysfunction is severe alteration of alertness, such as obtundation, stupor, or coma, ie, hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, excludes lethargy or hypotonia in the absence of other neurologic findings, excludes symptoms associated with central nervous system congenital anomalies), 5-minute Apgar
    score <7, and birthweight <2500 g.
     Way to go for reinforcing lots of "risk factors" not supported by research. And why exclude fractured clavicles and transient facial palsy?

    Sunday, July 4, 2010

    Shame on you, Auntie

    On Stateline last week, there was a snippet about calls to change laws over stillbirth investigations (link is to video with sound). In a shocking example of "jouranlism", the story went from a woman who wanted her interuterine fetal death at 28 weeks (I'm guessing there - she said "7 months") investigated for some kind of explaination, to a beat up about homebirth. The woman's horrible experience had NOTHING to do with homebirth - she was under the care of a hospital and birthed there.

    The tenuous bow that seems to have been drawn between these two stories was that one woman had her baby die in her pregnancy, and another had her baby die during birth, and that latter woman was birthing at home. The case of the latter woman has now rocked the entire concept of "life" because the assistant coroner seems to have an axe to grind about homebirth.

    The findings of the case make for interesting reading (go on, read it - it's only 14 neatly formatted and well spaced pages). The assistant coroner seems to have ignored eminent experts in the area of cardio-thoracic medicine and has decided that something akin to the heat left in a boiled kettle, now constitutes life. Instead of leaving the Spencer-Kock family to grieve and live their lives, the decision has been made that their baby was in fact alive at some point and therefore is a "person" under the law and so the coroner has jurisdiction to investigate the death and make recommendations under other laws, like criminal law, against people involved.

    This is a scary, scary path to go down. Life has to begin somewhere, just as it has to end somewhere. Funnily enough, the definition of life and the definition of death aren't the same thing - one can be dead but a teeny bit alive as is the case of organ donors. But the line in the sand has always been that "signs of life" be seen in a baby - heartbeat, breath, movement, crying, reaction to stimulus. If these are absent, and the baby is stillborn (oh how my heart aches to write that), then no investigation can be held, no charges laid, no blame attributed. This is a two-edged sword, no doubt - but it also means that until that baby is apart from its mother and is alive, it is not a person. Augh it's confusing and I'm sure someone has been offended by the way I've put it.

    Anyway Lavender, as the president of the AMA in SA, then claimed in the Stateline article (yes I was getting back to my point) that homebirth is 7 times more likely to result in a baby's death, which is (a) not true, (b) not supported by any research the whole freaking world over, and (c) not what the recent Flinders University research said. The "data point" that Lavender is referring to ERRONOUSLY is the one I've previously blogged about and kind of indicates that not only is he an idiot, but he also didn't bother reading the study and only read the press release.

    Add to that recent beat ups about homebirth being more dangerous with triple the neonatal (first month - hardly a lot to do with homebirth) death rate, which is hard to comment on as the actual study doesn't come out until September, and there is a lot of attack on the process from many sides. Add to that changes here in Australia to registration and insurance for midwives and you have a very muddy water from which to sup. I'm sure there's a line there about babies and bathwater but meh, I can't be bothered.

    What I can be bothered with though is to say to the ABC - shame on you for such appalling and upsetting and shallow "journalism". You didn't check the facts, you didn't bother getting any other side of the story, you didn't stop to question what agendas might be being wheeled through your "story" and you certainly didn't bother to notice that a story about stillbirth suddenly turned into a witchhunt for homebirth.

    And you didn't stop to think about what this means. Let's say that all stillbirths from 28 weeks onwards get investigated. That is a lot of deaths, firstly, because not all pregnancies end in a live baby. So the coroner is now overwhelmed with them. And what if the parents do not want an investigation? What if the answer is that someone is to blame, that something could have been done, that something could have changed the course of events? How would that help the family? Instead of supporting them, financially and socially, they'll be dragged through the courts. The coroner could then autopsy babies, which means that parts of their bodies can be kept for analysis.

    And the funny thing is that hospitals, where 98% of births occur, will suddenly have to be party to many more inquests. And for what?

    From Medscape Medical News

    Less Medical Intervention for Home Birth Linked to Increased Neonatal Mortality Rate

    Laurie Barclay, MD

    July 2, 2010 — Less medical intervention during planned home birth is associated with a tripling of the neonatal mortality rate vs planned hospital birth, according to the results of a systematic review and meta-analysis reported online first July 1 and will appear in the September 10 print issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

    "The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists does not support home birth, citing safety concerns and lack of rigorous scientific study," write Joseph R. Wax, MD, from Maine Medical Center in Portland, and colleagues. "We sought to systematically review the medical literature on the maternal and newborn safety of planned home vs planned hospital birth."

    Selection criteria for the meta-analysis were English-language peer-reviewed publications from developed Western nations, in which maternal and newborn outcomes were reported by planned delivery location. The investigators calculated summary odds ratios with 95% confidence intervals for these outcomes.

    Compared with planned hospital births, fewer maternal interventions were associated with planned home births, including epidural analgesia, electronic fetal heart rate monitoring, episiotomy, and operative delivery. Women who delivered at home had lower rates of lacerations, hemorrhage, and infections, and their offspring had lower rates of prematurity, low birth weight, and assisted newborn ventilation.

    Perinatal mortality rates were similar for planned home and hospital births, but neonatal mortality rates were significantly higher with planned home births.

    "Less medical intervention during planned home birth is associated with a tripling of the neonatal mortality rate," the study authors write.

    Limitations of this study include those inherent in the included studies, self-selection of women for home birth, and insufficient data for some outcomes.

    "Future research needs to be directed at identifying contributors to and reducing the apparently excessive neonatal mortality among planned home births," the study authors conclude. "Data regarding maternal mortality, maternal and newborn readmission rates and indications, and newborn neurologic injury are insufficient for evaluation and comparison.... Ideally, the results of such work will contribute to an obstetric and newborn best practices model benefiting women and children regardless of chosen birth location."

    The study authors have disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

    Am J Obstet Gynecol. Published online July 1, 2010.

    Thursday, July 1, 2010

    My birth story - homebirth for a first-timer

    This is REALLY long so grab a cup of tea and settle in. It's not your usual light-hearted approach to a birth story, and it's not particularly emotional either - but it is very real to me.

    10 March: Wednesday night I had a rehearsal for a concert that I'd been rehearsing in since November last year, and had dinner beforehand with friends including one with whom I'd been discussing motherhood and such things via email but hadn't seen in 5 years! I ate a large meal for the first time in ages. Rehearsal was fun and enjoyable, and I sat through the whole thing feeling very zen and with a smile on my face. I felt quite floaty and away with the fairies, struggling to concentrate on the music, and very calm. Puggles had been quiet for a few days and was low in my pelvis, resting on my thighs as I walked up stairs or sat to rehearse. It made it easier to sing though without a baby in my diaphragm!

    11 March: At 2am on Thursday morning, I woke up from a deep sleep with an ache in my belly. I got up to go to the toilet, as TheHusband was coming to bed then, and went back to bed and put the radio on. I then had more regular pangs through the next hour – about 4 of them before the BBC shut off after an hour, so 15-minutely. I had visualised the ideal birth and it would be after a decent night's sleep, so after an hour or so of this I went and built a nest on the lounge with a pile of pillows, and slept through more of them until morning. When I woke up I was craving a hot breakfast, and TheHusband insisted on making me scrambled eggs and spaghetti on toast, with coffee. I mentioned that something was going on, and that we might have a baby today, but I was in denial in a big was as I was 39+2 at this stage and as a primip I expected to gestate longer yet!

    I'm not sure when my membranes ruptured. It doesn't matter but I do know that I didn't have a big pop or gush of water. I also didn't lose a mucous plug in a clearly defined way – I did have a lot of mucous, and a bit of old blood tinged in one wipe, but no clear bloody show either.

    About 10:30am I called my midwife Julie Garrat to let her know that things were maybe starting to happen. I was still in denial at this stage but wanted her there for the birth and to let her know that I might need to cancel our antenatal appointment for the next day. She talked to me for about 10 minutes and I only had to lightly breathe through one during that time and I knew she was listening to me to gauge how I going, which was “easy” at this stage.

    I wandered around home, mostly wanting to be alone but also enjoying the quiet company of TheHusband and housemate / almost sisterfriend / fellow midwife Alice. We put on some movies in the couch room, and sat around watching Monsters Inc. I had to stand and sway through contractions but was dressed in a skirt and t-shirt still, barefoot in a gorgeous Autumn day. I had a glass of iced tea and a glass of water and some lipbalm, and an altar set up. I ate Clinkers and mint leaves, and Alice made popcorn which I ate a few pieces of, daintily and slowly. I had lit my candles and wrapped some of my blessingway yarn around the idol that Heather had given me when we were trying to conceive, and a heap of paper cranes left over from my blessingway.

    I had downloaded an app on my iPod that I was using to time contractions by this stage to distract myself from them. They were 5-8 minutely and I soon couldn't talk through them but had to close my eyes and breathe.

    Alice suggested we do a belly cast of my last day pregnant and even now, looking at it, I can't believe I was ever that big! I had a few contractions while in the cast which were good because it helped the otherwise stubborn cast to come off! I'd forgotten how much hairier I was with pregnancy and hadn't used quite enough Vaseline on some areas.

    After the cast was off, I went and showered very thoroughly to remove the last of the Vaseline and plaster. I still had remnants of my blessingway henna and it was a wish of mine as well to birth with that on me. As I washed in the shower, the last of the henna faded and this was a huge transition point for me mentally to admit to myself that maybe I was in labour, before my edd or not.

    I thought that I'd not be going to rehearsal that night or lunch with friends, but I did send TheHusband on his way to the lunch as I didn't want to be watched too much or to entertain anyone. After TheHusband left I got the WiiFit out and weighed myself, because I was curious as to how much I'd lose in giving birth.

    I gave several groups of friends the heads up that things were starting and knew that candles were lit and thoughts sent to support me on my way. I love all the people I told because no one bugged me later that day!

    Alice made lunch at this point and after dithering about whether I wanted it or not, I ended up eating a rather large bowl of meatballs and pasta. I was starting to feel spacey and wanting my own space, so it was good timing when Alice told me she was going to the gym that afternoon. My sister sent a text to see if I was free for a coffee, and when I told her I was in labour she arranged to visit to drop of her video camera. She came and sat for a little while but I shortly asked her to leave because I didn't need the distraction.

    I set up my birth space in a room I didn't expect to use – the couch room, with tv and open doors and lots of couches. There was a table and a bit of wall to put affirmations and blessings and words of wisdom on the wall and candles and essential oils – kunzea and lavender and rose – and plenty of room for water and lollies and lipbalm and everything else I wanted. I took the time to go outside and paint some words on fabric to remind me – surrender, open, breath. I spent some time outside swaying and breathing through more contractions. They really weren't fading and Puggles was still wriggling around and things were getting more real.

    I sent TheHusband a text to ask him to come home soon and he did – he brought home some mail, and I suggested he call his section leader and let him know he wouldn't be at rehearsal that night. I printed out my (as yet unfinished - never did write the transfer bit of it!) birth plan and talked with him about what I wanted. Some of the things I dismissed as I covered them – I was not in the mind space to quilt, for example. But most of it was still relevant and I was glad to discuss it with people between contractions.

    I gave TheHusband the task of timing contractions and we watched another movie (one of the Harry Potters) and I continued to contract. They weren't slowing and were changing and at some point I said that I needed to let go of the feeling of being a pretender and embrace the fact that I was actually in labour, and just go about being in labour.

    I had wanted the fitball blown up before labour, and of course tried sitting on that but couldn't. The one contraction that I had on there was far too painful and felt wrong, so I hauled myself up for every single other one. It was good later on to lean over but NOT to sit on! The one time that TheHusband tried to help me through one on the ball was the only time I forcefully pushed him away and couldn't stand to have him in my space.

    Julie called back in the afternoon to see if I wanted her, and I said that things weren't going to get interesting until the sun went down, which proved to be right. I was in the shower when she called, swaying between contractions but not vocal. Still didn't want her there. My paternal grandmother also called my mobile I think during this shower as well, and TheHusband chatted to her as I was in no place to chat!

    I had expected Julie to visit at some point between those two phonecalls but in hindsight it wasn't up to her to invite herself over, and I had to work out that I didn't need a tick of approval that I was in labour. I had to work that out for myself and tell Julie that this was for real. This was the first step in a journey during my labour, a journey to being completely in my body.

    I had earlier that day sent Kate an email with subject header “Wolf” (as in crying wolf cause I was in denial, remember?) – I still was in denial about this! I let her know something might have been happening. I'd just seen her a few days earlier and said next time I saw her it'd be to have a baby, and that came back to remind me that I knew that things were happening. Some texts went back and forth with Kate about when to come over, and I sent her to dinner with friends rather than rushing over. She turned up about 7pm I think and made some comment about something (must ask her what) and I swore at her. It was then that I realised I really was concentrating to get through contractions and not really coming out of it when I was done.

    I retreated to the shower for relief and peace, and it was glorious. I was just enjoying the last of the afternoon sun lighting up the window and wall and ducks on the wall, which are a lime green and the gorgeous clear blue that I've associated with Puggles this whole pregnancy. It was apparently a gorgeous sunset but I was in the shower when the sun disappeared so saw it in reflection, and I shed some tears at something. I've no idea what but it was another change.

    Julie turned up around the 8pm point and my support people trooped to unpack the car. It was the last interruption that I was anticipating and now, my birth team was complete. I felt like a circle closed when the front door shut and the contractions stepped up again.

    Julie came into the bathroom and talked to me through some contractions. I was bending my knees / squatting a little with each, and hanging off the glass in the shower, trying to open up. I looked up after a contraction and Julie was gone, which was fine by me – I shut the door and was glad not to have to ask to be left alone. TheHusband had set up my ipod in its player on the bathroom bench, and a playlist of Idea of North, and the songs went on as I kept patiently riding each out. They were starting to hurt and the endorphins were catching me half dozing in the corner of the shower. I tried to sway with the contractions, but that didn't work. I tried to have the water on my belly and found that the sensation was too much on my skin and my breasts. It was best if I leaned on the glass and rested my forehead on the glass and just breathed. Closing my eyes helped too.

    The contractions kept going in the same spot – across my belly, under the edge of my bump. They were just contractions – nothing like period pain, but deep and visceral feelings of opening. Not a cramp, not a baby hug or a rush or whatever else you wanted to call them. They were undeniable and overwhelming and regular and so normal.

    Up until this point it's all pretty clear what was going on. Each contraction would pass and I'd regroup. After Julie arrived it gets a bit blurry. I was surrendering to the journey and had left my glasses off in the shower, and didn't put them back on until after the birth.

    Julie checked in and listened to bub's heart beat. I was getting upset and anxious and her heartbeat was higher than normal. That gave me the courage to regroup and let the contractions pass through me, over me, via me, rather than fighting them each time and tensing up. They didn't get easier but it did help to know that I was doing my first thing as a mama to calm the fuck down and just go with it.

    I got out of the shower and was contracting back in the couch room, with Julie doing some effleurage on me which felt ah-maz-ing.

    My birth team were at work blowing the pool up. I felt like throwing up at this point. The pump made a loud squeaky wheezy sound which got me out of my zone but it was comforting to know that normal stuff was going on around me. I threw up a little of lunch. TheHusband cleaned up and got back to blowing up the pool. Julie watched for a while as I swayed, naked, in the couch room still. My team discovered, after starting to fill the pool, that there was a liner to put in it. Julie left me alone and went to supervise the emptying of the pool and the lining of it. I wanted a change but didn't know what I wanted and I felt that the pool being filled would be another step in my journey. No prescribed marking my progress – no VEs, little listening to babe, no blood pressure or touching me in any way other than support – but another step somewhere.


    I was hanging out for that pool to be filled and for me to get into it. Well a part of me was – most of me was just waiting for each contraction to come and then go. I counted 9 breaths for each, knowing it would pass before I got to 9. Then it took 11. The number of cranes on my altar. Then more. Then I forgot to open my eyes to see the cranes, and the number got higher. I would open my eyes after a contraction and look at the words on the wall and read the poems and the inspirations, look at the candle and the crowning head that was there, and then close my eyes and have another one.

    I brushed my teeth and got back in the shower, and the contractions changed again. These hurt. Hurt in a way I couldn't escape or deal with. It hurt so much that I started to think about saying “enough”. I thought about an epidural. Surgery. Transferring. Anything to make this stop. It hurt in a way I can't convey – I couldn't go up, I couldn't go down, I couldn't go around or through. I couldn't do it anymore. I made bargains. I tried to stay with “just this one”. I tried to breathe and it wasn't working anymore. It hurt so much that I wanted off. I wanted out. My voice rose, and I could feel myself panicking. The contractions slowed and I rested in the corner of the shower, water hitting me and a small part of my mind had a moment to discuss this with my psyche after each contraction.

    Transferring meant getting out of the shower.


    It meant getting dressed.


    It meant getting into a car and going somewhere and being examined and fighting and justifying and crying and blood and pain and more payment than I was willing to make for the off chance of relief. Contraction.

    Plus I didn't want relief – I wanted it to change and me to be able to go back to coping with it.



    I stood there in the corner and thought that it would take a couple of hours and a lot of things before I could have any promise of relief and that wasn't guaranteed and I didn't want to give in to what wasn't going to be an easy way out.


    And so I just kept going. And it did change. Never knew that about labour - that it doesn't just get worse. It gets different. It really is a journey.

    Eventually the pool was filled and I could get in. That feeling, of warm water and embrace, was like an orgasm. The contractions faded away, almost surprised to see some lovely happy smiles and feelings from me in the midst of their awesome and fearsome strength. Not for long though of course but enough for me to gather my strength and turn a bend in my journey. In the light of the bargaining I'd just been doing this was blessed relief!

    My team gathered to support me as the night wore on. It was midnight ish by this stage. Kate knit. Alice watched and held the space and videod. TheHusband was my rock – he pulled up the stool for the piano, next to the pool and fed me water, Gatorade, whatever I wanted. I was down to one word directions and sounded a little whiney at times - “water”, “hot”, “cold”, and so on.

    Why couldn't people read my mind?

    Why did I have to come out of deep in myself to ask for these things?

    The water was a tad cool, and the team set about working out how to get it hotter without it overflowing. I moved at one point and the hot water flashed across my legs and it really hurt. In a different way. I was upset that someone would do that! Offended even! In sharing that it hurt (I think I said “ow” in a different way I guess) I did pick up that my support team were a little uncomfortable with how I was going. This gave me pause – was I just going with it? Was it ok? Was Puggles ok still? Was I doing this right? Was I getting closer? I remember blinking and seeing the room with new eyes and a bit of fear. And then another contraction came and I was back into it.

    Julie suggested turning off the lights and everyone settling in for a bit – Alice went for a nap, TheHusband stayed, Kate rested, and Julie lay on the couch in the other corner and napped.

    I worked on in the water, in the blessed gloom.

    I was hot. A fan appeared.

    I wanted to brush my teeth again – TheHusband helped.


    I was cold. The water was fixed.

    My team responded to me and I worked on. They rested as well, which helped me to be ok to keep people up.

    It did strike me as amusing at this point that they could just go and lie down and rest – oh, to rest! To sleep! To give in and go away from the awful and majestic task master that is labour.

    By this stage I'd been awake for a long time and was tired. I was starting to feel very worn and upset at this. Julie got me out of the pool and insisted on tucking me into bed – a change of scenery and energy. I was singing a loud birth song with each contraction, and my throat was getting sore. Julie heated up two heat packs, tucked me into bed with my husband's arms around me and left me for a while. Contractions continued and they hurt. Oh, how they hurt. I would sleep between them but would wake up, back arched and in agony, every few minutes. I was lying on my bed, on my left hand side, lights off and a little scared that I couldn't cope.

    At this point I was scared at the pain to come and the pushing taking more out of me and I was way too out of the moment to continue on. I lasted about half an hour in bed before saying it was a stupidly bad idea and got back into the pool. Slowly by this stage but the pool was where it was at. I got back in pool – I can't tell you whether I ran or hobbled, whether I contracted or didn't on the way there. I knelt in the pool and faced my husband who was seated outside the pool waiting for me to need him.

    I suddenly felt pushy and gave a little trial one. It hurt in a different way and I was disappointed! Where was the joy of pushing? Where was the change from pain to pleasure? Disappointed! Just a little of course – I was also rather amused to discover the true meaning of not being able to resist. I had an inkling that something wasn't going perfectly or easily but no one mentioned anything so I just continued to take it one at a time. I rested between the contractions, leaning against the pool side. They slowed quite a lot. Sometimes I napped, only to slip down the pool side and feel my face touch the water and waking me up. Mostly I rested. Sometimes I tried to ignore the first hint of a gathering contraction and of course, ignoring it didn't work and instead I'd be caught unprepared for the contraction and is hurt so much more. But I was tired and not able to always stay on top of when they were coming.

    The pain was back with a vengeance. Some of the contractions hurt in a different way and my SI joints were starting to hurt, especially my left one which I'd separated 3 years earlier. This scared me but it just hurt, rather than really really hurting in a way I couldn't cope with. I waved my hands and TheHusband was there for me. I pulled on him as I pushed – a position that he held without complaint for 4 more hours (which I really regretted for a week as my L shoulder, only 12 months on from reconstructive surgery, really ached and meant I could only feed using my R arm) and that I used for every contraction unless I forgot and then I needed him. Alice was there a few times when he stepped away and a contraction caught me sooner than anticipated. I was careful not to squeeze quite as hard on her hands because the strength in my hands was awesome.

    As discussed during my pregnancy, Julie offered sterile water injections into my back because she could see (from the fact that every third or so contraction I was bolt upright, hand digging into my back, head thrown back and obviosuly in a lot of pain) that it might help. I nodded my head, convinced I would be able to stand the pain (she did warn me that it was horrible) and admitting to myself that my fear of this stage was that my pelvis, injured a few years ago, would not cope with this. Some of the contractions had me still kneeling and ok with bearing down, opening up and pushing down. Others had me kneeling up with my pelvis thrust forward, head thrown back and howling with pain through them. Julie got out her equipment, checked again that I was sure I wanted this as the relief would be awesome but it would hurt a lot, and at that stage I didn't care. I wanted something to change. She touched my sacrum on the right, the left, then higher up my back, perhaps showing my support people where she was going to inject the water under my skin. And said she'd wait for a contraction and that I'd have to come to her side of the pool for it.

    Sweet mother fucking OW – it was like being stung by a huge pissed off wasp with a hangover, an attitude, and a point to prove. It was like being whipped with hot snapping sizzling fat. It hurt WAY more than a contraction did! I cried out in pain, real pain, and scooted away from her. Shaking my head and whimpering, I said no more. No. No. NO. It made me cry a little but it did work. I only regret that I didn't ask her to put it in my left SI joint first on the off chance that I couldn't cope with more than one, because it did work really well. So much so that later contractions, with Puggles moving down, had me pressing on my left SI joint only.

    It was about 3am by this stage I think – not having glasses on meant I couldn't actually see the clocks.

    (As an aside, in debriefing this with Julie afterwards, it seems at some point the conversation was had between my support people and Julie about how I was going. There was concern about me not wanting to do this anymore and wanting to help but Julie told them that this was what I wanted and that it was all normal. I'm glad that I didn't know this at the time!)

    With the pain and the pushing and the time and everything, I had to focus on bringing my voice down rather than letting it get higher and higher. Julie did suggest at this point too to change the word I was using. I'm a little amused to say that it was just a simple "ow" at that point because it helped to make an o sound then to close it out with a w. It made sense to me at this point but mentally wasn't that great was it? Julie suggested trying something else – so I tried instead to say “roar” which was funny to me even then, because talking about it meant I'd come out of my labour land and considered this at a very high level. So my roar started as a teeny tiny pretend roar and it wasn't until I got back into labour land that I got my ROAR going. So when I say I roared my baby earthside I really did!)

    I was pushing with most contractions now, and running from the wrong kind of pain with the odd one. Julie suggested I reach down and find where Puggles was – Puggle's head was an inch inside my vagina. With a push it came down a bit further and went back up. It felt amazing. I was making progress. I was birthing.

    I pushed for an hour with no more progress though. I was to find out later that this wasn't really pushing though – it was going with feeling but being pulled through the wave of pain, with bub sitting on my pelvic floor and perinium all the while. In hindsight I was waiting for it to take me along for the ride and that wasn't enough.

    Julie listened with the Doppler and was suddenly alert – it was easy to hear a heartbeat over the anterior shoulder, but also with just a little movement in direction, to hear the cord. She wondered aloud whether this was something to be worried about, but listening to Puggles there was no hint of the cord being compressed, so on we went. She did encourage me to move around though and got me to lie on my back and float for a little while. She suggested TheHusband get into the pool with me to hold me but I didn't want him in my space at this stage. I didn't want help. I didn't want anyone to do it with me or for me. I wanted to be able to say I did it myself. I floated on my back.

    With a push she commented to Alice that she could see a bit of a cervical lip coming down with bub's head. She asked me to see if I could feel that but I couldn't tell anything apart from where I stopped and a piece of head - oh that endless piece of head! - started so reluctantly sh did a vaginal exam to see what was going on, and pushed it back easily. She suggested moving around to an open squat. I didn't want to move from the comfortable position I was in. She suggested I stand up – I did to try it out, but immediately sank back into the water with a whimper as that hurt too much and felt wrong with a babe between my pelvis to be standing up. I moved around into a squat. That worked really well but my progress was starting to sink in. Or not as the case was.

    (As an aside – this VE also revealed that bub's head was deflexed and was slightly crooked. I had to keep going because until my uterus had contracted down enough to hold Puggles against my perineum so Julie could help her to flex. But I had to keep going to get to that point. She didn't tell me at that point as there was no need to and it would only have frightened me to hear "deflexed head" and "brow presentation" mentioned, damn training be damned!)

    I returned to my squat and kept going with the pushing. Another hour passed. Julie commented that I was leaking colostrum and that was a good sign. I felt a little bit of a burn – was that the ring of fire? The burning passed. No ring of fire. No baby born into my hands. The pushes were inconsistent and so frustrating – sometimes I needed to arch my back, sometimes lean forward, sometimes lean back. Sometimes I bore down and opened and felt my back bulge. Other times I didn't know where to push or how. I know Puggles was trying to change position but it was so frustrating. I started to get upset with this. I wanted help. There was no help to offer me. And then I said those magical words.

    I can't do this anymore.

    I cried. I wailed. I'd been pushing for 3 hours by this stage. I was so upset and still going but just couldn't do it anymore. Julie looked me in the eyes and said that it wasn't that I couldn't. She could see that I could. And I was doing it. I'd gotten this far. But I didn't want to anymore. I didn't want to and it was ok to say that. But I was doing it and would do it. And I was getting closer.

    I sat with this for a while. Turned it over in my head. Considered that yes, I didn't want to go on. It was hard and it was harder than I thought. I had hit my limit and just over there, on the other side of some amazingly high barrier, was my womanhood and motherhood and power and goddess-like ability to birth and I was stuck, over here in normal land. Oh goddess I had to get through that, over that, into that. I've never pushed myself like I had to push through that barrier. It was 6 o'clock in the morning by this stage. I was exhausted and so tired and knew I was running on the last of my reserves. I was running in front of the last of the “easy” labour, where my body was pushing me onwards, and needed it to end or else other eventualities were waiting for me once the sun rose.

    I've never felt so scared of a sunrise nor as invigorated.

    I turned around for a change in scenery and because the lining on the other side of the pool was coming a bit loose with me leaning over it for hours. TheHusband came around and sat again on the stool.

    I opened my eyes and did the scariest thing ever – I looked into my husband's eyes, the father of the child I was working to birth, and drew strength from him.

    His cool blue eyes locked onto mine and looked back into my soul. It was scary how deep he looked into me and where we went in that little while of pushing.

    It gave me strength and I pushed and pushed and pushed like there was no tomorrow because there wasn't for me.

    I could see the clock over TheHusband's shoulder and shook the last of the “floating along with the labour” off and swore to myself that Puggles would be born before dawn. I was born at dawn myself and could see the sky start to lighten. I knew in my brain that I could not do this in the daylight. This kind of power and pain and challenge was a creature of the night and in the daylight I would be undone.

    I pushed.

    The clock ticked.

    The world turned and the sun rose.

    I pushed more.

    Julie got closer and did a vaginal examination to help Puggles flex her head, then supported my perinium which gave way at some point close to her birthing but without support would probably have gone further than the second degree tear that I ended up with.

    I felt no ring of fire but I did feel more fullness in my vagina which spurred me on.

    I pushed and held and pushed and held.

    Puggles progressed.

    I celebrated.

    I thought about all the women before me, and the future that I faced. I suddenly realised, at about 6:30am, that I was scared of being a mother. I was so afraid of repeating my past and I was so not ready to be a mother. I cried. I said all of that and more.

    Then I pushed. I took another breath and I pushed.

    I looked into TheHusband's eyes and I pushed.

    I waited between contractions, feeling Puggles wriggle for the last times inside me, and waited for the next contraction.

    I took a breath, and held on to TheHusband's hands. Her head crowned and stayed there.

    Julie said pant. I tried. She said to reach down and feel her shoulders. I reached down and could still just feel head. Thankfully my vagina wasn't in full view - there aren't any photos or video of any of this and I'm happy with that! - so she was just guessing at what was going on. But I certainly didn't feel shoulders.

    Why oh why did I only ever feel head? Hard and round and never ending. And then a pop. I took my other hand from TheHusband's and felt around quickly. You can see it on the video as I did it. I exclaimed “ears!” because it was the first soft thing of my baby's that I could feel. Julie asked if I could just feel ears and I checked around – no cord and yes, ears! My support people laughed and relaxed. TheHusband's hands were on my shoulders supporting me. I pushed and she wriggled which felt all sorts of wrong. I stopped and just let my hands rest there. Another little push and swoosh pop – she was out. I picked her up and she was here.

    I was so relieved that I was crying without tears, from the sheer relief of being at the end of that journey. She looked into my eyes immediately that I picked her up, and then looked at TheHusband as if to say “Ah I'm home”. After a little while I wanted to check what I had birthed – people were quick to reassure me that they hadn't seen. I had, as I picked her up, and was sure we had a daughter. But I stood on that threshold because it was again the unknown. I lifted her leg and shared her sex with TheHusband and again cried tears of relief that it was over. I was really uncomfortable in the position I was but her cord was short so I scooted over in the pool to sit on the seat and share some bonding with TheHusband. Puggles had not made a peep and was pink almost immediately – APGARS of 9 and 10! – and was just so beautiful to behold.

    Julie had gotten TheHusband to get a hat which was put on her head, and Alice was working to heat up some towels. The heater was on too as the room was quite cold. I was beholding the miracle I'd achieved and others were buzzing around. TheHusband made a heap of phonecalls – to his parents, to my dad and step-mum, and so on.

    The sun finally rose.

    I requested a cup of something hot and sweet. The water changed to rose colour. I sipped something hot while I took in her sweet face and little rosebud lips and amazing smell. Towels were changed and I started to feel SO tired that I was slipping off the little seat and into the water. After a while, I started to get really uncomfortable and wanted to get out. But Puggle's cord was fairly short so I could barely lift her to my navel. Which made getting out of the pool a challenge. The placenta had still not birthed and I was starting to feel odd, so I decided to cut the cord and hand Puggles over to TheHusband. This was about an hour after she was born. Cord was clamped – had completely forgotten about the cord tie that I'd made! - and I cut the cord.

    No one else even asked. I climbed out of the pool and went to sit on the loo and wee. Ooooooh how good is that first post-birth wee?

    I passed a heap of clots at that stage as well, and thought it was my placenta but when Alice peeked she said no the cord was still dangling down. Which was good as I was sad at the thought of my placenta ending up in the loo rather than being able to be used. I was starting to get cold and really come back into the reality of being so tired, and starting to feel a bit ill. Julie came to check on me and my placenta and I asked her to help me out with it. She had me try to push it out but it wasn't coming, and I was starting to worry about the blood. She wasn't but I insisted on something to help so syntometrine was given in my left thigh and a few minutes later the placenta birthed. That kind of hurt to be honest and I was aware of my tears by that stage!

    The placenta went into a bowl and I went into the shower. Oh glorious shower! Julie brought my placenta in to have a look at it and it was so beautiful to behold. She then tucked me and Sally in to bed and got Alice to hold the torch. Yep it needed stitching and the worst part of that process was the local anaesthetic. Then tugging and so forth as I tried to stay awake. Kate left before this started and TheHusband was in bed with me as well, first dressing Puggles and then cuddling us both. Suturing done, a feed was in order but I was so sleepy by that stage and Puggles' mouth small and her lip tucked under that I ended up falling asleep cuddled up instead!

    The washing was put on, some tidying done, Julie left (looking a little worse for wear) and Alice made me toast with peanut butter before crawling off to bed too! I sent a heap of texts to my friends to tell them the news and received some very excited ones back.