Sex in Pregnancy

Sex in Pregnancy

It can’t be easy for guys. When you are trying to conceive you spend months bonking like lusty teens, demanding that they are ‘up for it’ the moment you get wind of the fact you are ovulating. Then, having use them to get impregnated, your libido promptly disappears, possively not to be seen again for a very long long time.

But this doesn’t have to be the case Lisa Williams of The Hot Bed Collective reveals all about her pregnancy sex life:

I had a horrendous pregnancy, with hyperemesis gravidarum plaguing the first four months. Sex was the last thing on my mind after a day of vomiting into every passing flowerbed. But once that was over, something amazing happened: sex became more fun than it ever had before. And here’s why…

  •  My body amazed me:

  •  Like 99.9% of women, I have body image issues and feel about as comfortable naked as I would be taking a shit in the middle of Waterloo station. I don’t own a full-length mirror, and I’m a lights-off-during-sex-unless-I’m-extremely-drunk-or-on-holiday kind of girl.

  • But pregnancy genuinely made me admire everything my biology was capable of. Not only that, but the growing bump was something I could celebrate, instead of thinking I’d overdone it on the carbs and/or beer again.

  • It was liberating having sex while in a body I didn’t want to cover up with a duvet for once.

  • I marvelled at how much easier it would be to enjoy sex if I was body-confident/a bloke, which made me a bit sad at the same time.

  •  It’s liberating:

  •  It’s no coincidence that I felt inspired and able to launch the Hotbed Collective (a movement to promote funny and open dialogue around sex in long-term relationships) while pregnant.

  • I’m a prude living in a prudish country and, if I wasn’t olive skinned, any mention of sex would have had me blushing like a sundried tomato.

  • But, if you’re up the duff, you can’t usually avoid the fact that you’ve had sex at least once, so any feelings of shame or embarrassment about the topic were taken away.

  • It was liberating for me, and has opened up a hotbed of topics which I’ve found other women – and many men – want to talk or learn about too.

  •  It’s hot:

  • I don’t know whether it was the hormones or the lack of hangovers, but I had some of the hottest sex while pregnant.

  • Maybe it was the hedonist thrill of doing something entirely for pleasure and not procreation’s sake which made most of my pregnancy sex so good, but either way we weren’t complaining.

  • I’ve heard that many women try things they haven’t tried before while pregnant, and isn’t that brilliant? I’ve also read that sexy sex during pregnancy can sometimes make a woman lactate a little bit, although disappointingly, that never happened to me

  • Never has time felt so long:

  •  There’s something about the tiny stretch between being pregnant and having a newborn which feels as if it’s three years long.

  • Your life, body and emotions change overnight or, if like me you have a planned c-section, in minutes.

  • So while I felt tired and spherical towards the end of pregnancy, it was nothing compared to the total body apocalypse which came afterwards: birth recovery, intense sleep deprivation and the overwhelming weight of responsibility, not to mention the body blow that is breastfeeding, combined to make me feel as sexy as a plate of offal.

  • So while we had a ‘farewell shag’ in the last few days, knowing it might be six weeks or six years before we did it again, once the baby was here sex was so far off the cards it was slightly comical to even imagine it: sex memories were like faded seaside postcards, and sex itself was about as inviting as dip in the Channel.

  • As for the sex which happens after the baby arrives; well that’s a whole other article…

My Daughter Audrey and Down and Syndrome

My Daughter Audrey and Down and Syndrome


I love all the list I receive, I find other people’s stories fascinating, but only a few make me dig deep and think about my own perspective on something as much as this one.

Vicky AKA @vickywooandadreyboo is mother of two children; Audrey (4 and a half) and Rex (2). Audrey has Down’s Syndrome, which is a “naturally occurring chromosomal arrangement”. Here Vicky talks about what it’s like to unexpectedly have a child with special needs:

  • I strongly believe that if we as a society were more inclusive and if “difference” was widely represented in the media, Down’s Syndrome could be just something that some people have, rather than something we actively “screen” for. People with Down’s Syndrome can have some developmental delays, varied health issues and a learning disability, but the spectrum is so wide and education has come such a long way, that most live very fulfilling lives.

  •  Audrey’s DS was a surprise and I’m always brutally honest about this – not a welcome one. My mind went crazy with depressing thoughts of how this had ruined everything, as if we would never have fun, people would avoid us, we would suddenly be a “special needs” family and my child at that moment was a disappointment.

  • My husband held her first, wrapped in a towel. I caught a peek of her eyes and I thought I saw it then… they laid her on me for skin to skin and when I looked at her face all I saw was Down’s Syndrome.

  •  It’s likened to grieving; you grieve for the child you imagined you would have; you have to come to terms with the new path you are taking. But what you’ve lost is an imagined child, an imagined future – so there’s no need to grieve, nothing is actually lost. You have a baby you can embrace, you just have to realise you will love them for who they are, not who you thought they might be.unnamed

  • Now I completely see her for who she is: my daughter. My Audrey. All that I dreamed of and more. A gentle, thoughtful human being who makes us laugh and makes me proud every single day. She truly inspires me.

  • In many ways I do like to bang the drum about how she is “just like any other 4 year old”, she likes Disney films, she loves reading books and playing with dolls. She likes pizza and ice cream and being on the swings at the park.

  • But she is not like her typical peers – she is unsteady on her feet and finds climbing a challenge. She stutters sometimes trying to get words out and she prefers interacting with adults to other children.

  • We have to write a report for school explaining why she will need additional support.

  • I have to sit in a room of professionals and listen to them talk of her “severe delays”. I take her for blood tests and hold her arm out whilst they rummage for a vein. She still isn’t potty trained. She didn’t walk until she was 3.

  • Despite the challenges; I wouldn’t change her. It took me a little while actually. My husband was quicker to embrace it all, the good and the bad.

  • I wanted to erase the Down’s Syndrome in those early days. I wanted her to have a “normal” life. As time went on, it became clear that without Down’s Syndrome, she would be a completely different child and now we love her for who she is, how could we change her? Her quirks, her glasses, her beautiful eyes – they come from her having this condition and they have made her perfect.unnamed-3

  • And we gave her a baby brother. I have to say that having my second child (Rex), gave me a new perspective on those early feelings; it wasn’t all the shock of the Down’s Syndrome that made me feel distant, confused – that’s just having a baby. I think shell-shock is a reasonable reaction to a tiny human arriving from your body!

  • Once we came out of the dark times of Rex’s newborn phase (he wasn’t the best sleeper!), well, we now find ourselves with: two walking, talking siblings!

  • Full of love and support for one another as well as a load of tears and shoving and pushing over a balloon/cardboard tube/plastic cup! Hurrah! Turns out, they interact just like any other siblings do.

  • To recognise World Down’s Syndrome Day, I want to leave you with this; a woman who finds out prenatally that her unborn baby has Down’s Syndrome, can terminate at up to 40 weeks…That’s right, at FULL TERM; if it is deemed the baby has a “severe disability” it’s at the “doctor’s discretion” what conditions fall under this category, I believe cleft palate is still included). 9 out of 10 woman who find out prenatally their baby has Down’s Syndrome, choose to abort.

  • This is why I share our life.

  • This is why we (the DS community) fight for inclusion.

  • I’m pro-choice, but an informed choice. I wouldn’t want anyone to base a decision on an out-dated view of what it’s like to have a child with learning disability.

  • My life is so rich and interesting and happy because of Audrey; when I first saw her face I felt so much fear, now I look at that face everyday and I see so much promise. It’s exciting. 

  • I truly believe she will make a difference in this world. In fact, she already has.

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Read more

Our Adoption Story

Our Adoption Story

Adoption stories make me emotional, because they are such a special, unique journey. I love the idea of destiny and people who suppose to end up together.

But it’s not all fairytale stuff. You see, parenting is challenging, but doing so with child who has not been given an equal start in life, means the difficult bits all the more extreme.

This list from a Mother who needs to remain anonymous, sheds light on the whole picture:

  • My son was born to a woman who did not have the skills or support to safely raise her own children.

  • The enormity of this weighs on me often, but I must put it aside most of the time.

  • It was most definitely love at first sight. His gorgeous eyes and curls. He was going to be mine.

  • My son was brain damaged in utero by stress chemicals, drugs and alcohol. He also has genetic neurodisabilities, namely Autism and ADHD.

  • He was, I believe, let down by the care system responsible for him before he came to us as a young toddler. He was a sad, scared little man.

  • He really looks and can present, sometimes, as any other young child does.

  • But he’s not. The world is not a safe place in his eyes.

  • I love my son absolutely and desperately. I am hugely (maybe over) protective of him.

  • At the same time I acknowledge that he is a difficult child to manage.

  • My eyes have been opened to the unimaginably complex world of disability/SEN. We all have equal opportunities? Rubbish.

  • I myself have been labelled as anxious and difficult.

  • Sometimes I wish I could pick us up and go hide on some island with only animals for company.

  • Or send him to a lovely special school where his needs will be understood better.

  • But then I wonder if I will have done my job, to try and see my son find his place in the community.

  • He desperately wants to be loved and accepted, as any child does, his behaviour makes this difficult.

  • And yet this needs to happen so that he can let go of some of his fear of the world. We privileged, perceptive adults need to show we love and care for him despite his troubles, before he can begin to trust.

  • He needs near constant supervision and support to manage in social situations.

  • I’m sorry that he can sometimes physically and emotionally hurt other children, really sorry.

  • He also hurts me, sometimes seriously.

  • However, I’m unlikely to explain his difficulties to you in this situation if you confront me, he is lashing out because he is confused, hurt and scared. His first relationship did not set him in good stead for being kind, and trusting of others.

  • I’m also unlikely to divulge the hours of therapy we undertake. Talking, animal, music, play, therapies we’ve done/do them. Or the huge number of professionals involved in our life. Or the medical interventions we are trying.

  • I worry for his and our future as a family, and yet I have a huge sense of purpose. There is nothing I wouldn’t sacrifice to see him achieve a sense of fulfilment in his life. He has already made so many strides.

  • I appreciate every smile, hug, laugh, act of friendship, small achievement at school he makes.

  • I am so grateful.

  • I am finding ways to cope better myself. Spending time with the right people, avoiding others. Yoga, investing more time in my marriage, doing things for myself. Not sweating every little thing my son gets wrong every minute of every day.

  • So if you see a parent struggling with their child, please be tolerant, please be accepting, please be kind.

  • Every family copes with their own difficulties, their own story, their own stresses.

  • Even better, be our friend.

  • I will keep loving and trying, trying and loving, and defending my son no matter what.

**If you enjoyed this you might also like this list: ‘Gay Dads and Their Adoption Story‘.**

Struggling to Speak

Struggling to Speak

Lots of this list is very familiar. Bertie suffered with persistent ear infections until just before his 2nd birthday when he had grommets fitted (on Woody’s due date!). It was truly transformative for his health and also his speech.

Laura Bentley shares her experience with her sons language development:

  • We all know it is a bad idea to compare our children to others but sometimes the comparison is what you need to support your concerns.

  • We noticed from about 1 onwards that our son wasn’t able to say as much as his friends could and he never repeated what we said to him in that parroting way kids do.

  • I compared him to everyone! Girls, boys, younger kids, fictional characters and even Peppa Pig. Damn that Peppa is a chatter. Even now, at 4, I still compare him to all those brilliant kids on ‘The Secret Life Of…’!

  • At 2 he could say around 30 words, but not very intelligibly, and he was considered to be in the 11-16 months range for communication skills.

  • We started to get worried, especially when some of his friends were talking in full sentences and the extent of his vocabulary was to say ‘biiii daa’ if he saw a lot of cars coming.

  • At his 2 year check the health visitor suggested there might be an underlying problem with his hearing and so we got into the system to wait for an ENT referral.

  • A few months passed in which he had numerous hearing tests, Drs appointments and a first visit with an NHS speech therapist.

  • The speech therapist told us to wait until after the hearing test diagnosis for more treatment with them, which was disappointing to say the least, but that is the way the system works.

  • The diagnosis was eventually glue ear ‘bi-laterally’ meaning he couldn’t hear properly in both ears, hence the lack of speech. He had essentially been hearing through a muffled barrier for, we suspect, a year or so.

  • In all honesty a hearing problem felt like something we could deal with and fix, as I had started to worry about more serious developmental issues being the cause.

  • He needed grommets fitted to open up the ear passages which had become blocked with sticky mucus after the normal onslaught of kid bugs/colds over his first couple of winters at nursery. He had the operation just after he turned 3. It was routine and only took 15 minutes but he still needed general anesthetic which was a huge heart wrencher for us.

  • Holding your child as they ‘go under’ is awful but makes you so grateful for the amazing work the NHS do on limited resources; all the staff we dealt with were kind and caring.

  • Also trying to explain to your 3yr old that they can’t have breakfast or even a drink was fun. I didn’t want to eat as a sign of solidarity but that made us both very grumpy so I mainlined coffee to steady my nerves about the op.

  • I expected his hearing to improve overnight, as many of the success stories I’d heard had claimed their kids’ speech was transformed by grommets.

  • It took him a lot longer!

  • We had hearing reviews a few months after the op and thankfully his hearing is now perfect (but he is still SO LOUD!).

  • We had a telephone consultation with the NHS speech therapy centre and they thought his continuing issues would sort themselves out over time.

  •  That meant we weren’t eligible for NHS speech therapy (I think due to under funding).

  • We would have had to have waited until summer 2018 before he could receive any, in preparation for starting school.

  • It was my husband who pushed for the private therapy, which initially I didn’t want. I think I had my head in the sand about his (lack of) progress.

  • Ultimately we didn’t want to wait and let him get further behind, so we made the decision to start private therapy in April this year. Nearly 8 months on we are finally cracking it!

  • His assessment with the speech therapist identified his exact struggles. He couldn’t say a lot of the letter sounds and especially struggled to finish words (known as ‘fronting’), for example ‘buh’ instead of ‘bus’ and ‘ha’ for hat. This stemmed from having to listen extra hard to a word and then his brain not being able to catch the whole thing.

  • He also replaced the beginning of words if he couldn’t say them, such as ‘dop’ for ‘shop’ and ‘binduh’ for ‘finger.’

  • ‘Father Christmas’ was a particular challenge but he got round it by rubbing his belly and saying ‘ho ho ho’ instead!

  • The speech therapy is fun; it is based around play and phonics and we can replicate it at home. It is a shame that the NHS weren’t able to help us but our private speech and language therapist has been so amazing.

  • A lot of his problems were resolved by a technique called ‘aural bombardment’ which means listening to the problem sound in a focussed session.

  • He can now say most of the sounds he was missing before, except for the tricky ‘S’ and finishes all his words really clearly. But it is still a conscious effort for him and takes a lot of practice and repetition.

  • His vocabulary and sentence structure have vastly improved and he is doing so well; friends and nursery staff have also noticed the change which is great.

  • Thankfully none of this affected him outwardly. He was(is) sociable, funny and expressive and I think even more so, because he’s had to work harder to get people to understand him.

  • His confidence has stayed high and he even performed a ‘joke’ on the children’s stage at Wilderness festival in the summer even though it made no sense. But people are kind and they laughed! I was so proud.

  • If you have any concerns about your child’s speech then let your doctor or health visitor know as soon as you can. It takes a long time to get the operation for grommets in our experience, so the sooner you are in the system the better.

  • Speech therapy takes a lot of patience and is hugely frustrating for you and your child if you are not making progress. We hit that block in the summer, so had a break for a few weeks before coming back to it fresher and ready to go again.

  • Most importantly they will get there in the end!

How to Deal with Judgement

How to Deal with Judgement


Who doesn’t want to know how to deal with judgement? Half the time I feel empowered and confident and unaffected by other people’s views. But it only takes one bad nights or sleep to send me the other-way, suddenly I’m full of self doubt, awash with insecurities.

Which is why when Clinical psychologist Emma Murphy AKA @thepsychologymum offered to write this list, I jumped at the chance:

Lets face it we’ve all experienced judgement: from the tutting at a tantruming child, the unwanted advice implying you are doing it all wrong, to the downright nasty comments condemning you as a person. Since venturing onto social media earlier this year I’ve noticed judgment has been a key theme: people passing judgement from behind the safety of their faceless electronic device about you as a person, the choices people make, the type of mum you are or simply the type of pasta sauce you feed your child.

Judgement has also been a key theme throughout my time as a clinical psychologist: from the mum trying to manage her children’s behaviour on the bus, to the man with a brain injury walking down the street, to the lady in a wheelchair due to a recent amputation. They all experienced judgmental comments which impacted on them. The theme comes up time and time again as judgement can be hurtful, shameful and upsetting and can impact on our emotions, confidence, identity and behaviour. It’s important then to consider how you deal with judgement so you can minimise the impact on yourself, which is why I was inspired to write this list. This list is based as much on the advice the people I have worked with have given me, as I have given them.

  • Don’t Jump to Conclusions. Firstly consider if the person is actually judging you. Are they merely expressing an opinion rather than passing judgement? There’s a difference between saying “I worry about children’s lives being put online without their consent” to “Mums who put their children online are thoughtless and insensitive”. The first is an opinion. Yes it might be different to yours, but it’s not really judgemental. The second is making a value based assumption or judgement about somebody else, in a harsh or critical way, often based on minimal information. i.e. being judgmental. From my experience online @mother_pukka responds well to differences in opinion by being open to them and replying eloquently by expressing her opinion in response.  Screen Shot 2018-03-03 at 17.13.18

  • Watch out for sensitive spots. If we are sensitive to something, then we can be hyper vigilant for this happening. And lets face it who isn’t sensitive to being told they are a crap parent, when we often feel like that ourselves? This can lead us to misinterpret events or comments as we are sensitive to this potential threat. This, combined with the fact that our brains can make mistakes when we try to read minds, means that sometimes we think people are judging, when they are actually thinking something totally different instead.

  • Don’t be the judger! Make sure your sensitivity or emotional reaction doesn’t make you the judger. I’ve seen this happen online when there is a virtual witch hunt for someone just because they state a different, but perfectly reasonable, non-critical and non-judgemental opinion. Ironically it turns out the people assuming the comment was judgmental end up actually being judgemental! When someone makes a comment that raises your emotions STOP, calm down and take stock. Think about whether it really is judgmental and how you can respond,  before you rush in and judge them back!

  • Depersonalise the judgment. Okay, we’ve decided this person is being judgemental, so what do we do now? Firstly, remember, we all make judgements about people, situations and events all the time. We live in a complex world and it gives us a short hand way to make sense of the vast amounts of information coming at us. We compute this information according to the frameworks of understanding already in our brain. You will be making judgements too, although sometimes you won’t even realise you are doing so. Remind yourself that this person’s brain is working as brains need to: making a quick decision about complex information so they can understand it along with what’s already in their brain. And brains make lots of mistakes in computing information. Amongst the millions of judgements we are all making, we all get it wrong sometimes.

  • People see what they already believe. Your mum probably told you that judgement says more about the person making the judgement than the person on the receiving end. She was a wise women, your mum. When we make judgements we fit partial information into a framework that already exists in our mind. Remind yourself the person judging is understanding the minimal information about you based on what they believe or have experienced. This was shown very nicely in a psychological experiment where two groups of people with opposing opinions were given a neutral news article. Both groups thought the article backed up their opinion… really it backed up neither. We really do see what we believe!

  • Focus on intent not judgement. Judgements aren’t always meant to be critical or shaming, although that’s how they often feel. Sometimes they can even be well intended, but ill conceived. Sometimes they may reflect a lack of knowledge, a generational belief, a cultural belief or just the life experience of that person. If this is the case, then trying to understand the motivation or reasoning behind the statements can help depersonalise it and take the edge off the impact.

  • Whose anxiety is it anyway? @mumologist (another clinical psychologist on instagram) speaks about how judgement often arise from that person’s anxiety about their own experiences or decisions. This can push people into judging other people’s choices as wrong to validate their own decisions. It’s a form of cognitive bias to justify your own decisions. So don’t let this persons anxiety become yours- metaphorically push it back to them where it belongs.  Screen Shot 2018-03-03 at 17.13.59.png

  • They do not know the whole story! Would it be fair to make a judgment about how good game of thrones is by just watching one dragon hatch from an egg? Of course not:  this one scene doesn’t provide enough information about the whole seven series.  Similarly judgments about you are usually based on a snapshot of your life. This one snippet is not representative of your entire complex life and the conclusions are therefore not valid and do not mean anything about you as person.

  • Grey tinted glasses. We are far more likely to notice negative information, because it is threatening and stands out. Try to maintain perspective: this is (hopefully) ONE person or comment, amongst lots of other more positive experiences. Don’t let those grey tinted glasses make you discard all the other more helpful, positive and contradictory comments and experiences. Notice them, remember them, focus on them  and use them to balance out, and hopefully outweigh, that judgement.

  • Generalisation across the nation. Often we can generalise judgment to assume it means something wider than it actually does. So one person thought an Instagram post was rubbish? Does this mean you are rubbish or that everybody must think you’re an idiot? Probably not. Often our brains have jumped to these generalised conclusions before we notice they have done it. Keep the judgment in context and don’t generalise them to mean more than they actually do. One person saying one statement does not represent the view of many people nor represent the type of person you are.

  • Thoughts V Facts. How we respond emotionally to a judgement depends on how we interpret the judgement and the meaning we give it. When a judgment impacts on you (often the clue is a strong emotion such as shame) try to notice what you are thinking. Remember that thoughts are not facts. Noticing your thoughts means you can choose how to respond to them, either by deciding not to engage with the thought or tackling it more directly by challenging it to come up with a more objective thought.

  • Delete, block, walk. Sometimes it’s quite clear that judgements are downright nasty. Is it worth your energy dealing with this? Will it have any positive effect if you do? Passing it off as a horrible experience, managing any emotional impact it has on you, discarding the comment or walking away and moving on is usually the most helpful thing you can do. This means you don’t maintain your focus on this experience and your brain is free to use your energy to focus on thoughts and behaviours which make you feel good instead.

  • Respond with caution. Some people find a pithy comment or a witty retort can help them feel less helpless and more in control of the situation when they experience judgement. However, I would only recommend this strategy if you are confident you will get the desired response as this can be a risky strategy. In the case of someone being downright rude or nasty, you do not know how the person will respond and it may make the situation worse or could even be dangerous.  Consider if you really want to use your energy and time responding, when it is unlikely you will change this persons behaviour or opinion and it maintains focus on the unpleasant experience for a longer time. Sometimes a stock response in your head, which you do not actually say out loud, can have the same effect of making you feel more empowered or in control ( **** off you judgmental **** is an effective inner statement for me).

  • Don’t let judgement define you. This judgment is not part of you and it does not represent who you are. Do not let a minority of people define you, who you are and who you will become. Do not allow these comments to be incorporated into your identity and view of yourself as a person. You are far, far more than these judgments.

  • Don’t let fear of judgement stop you. Everybody is judging all the time, good and bad. You will never avoid judgement no matter what you do. Avoiding doing things for fear of judgement is unhelpful and narrows what you can and will do. It’s better to have a plan for how to deal with judgement when you do face it (hint: here’s a 16 point plan to start with) so you feel confident that you will be able to handle it when it comes.

  • Lets end with a (true) cliche or two. Remember people will always judge, no matter what you do. So make sure your life is guided by your values and beliefs not the beliefs of other people. Do what you want to do and be the person you want to be rather than what you think other people will approve of. You can never please everyone so make the choices and lead the life that work for you instead!Screen Shot 2018-03-03 at 17.11.29.png

Greta’s Birthstory

Greta’s Birthstory


Apologies if this isn’t my most poetic piece of writing. I’ve been trying to jot it down during breastfeeds, so as to document it while still fresh in my mind. But being woken every two hours doesn’t do wonders for your creativity or spelling…

For background I had a negative birth experience with Bertie: an induction, lots of blood loss and impersonal, unemotional care throughout. 

My experience with Woody couldn’t have been more different. A was under the care of a wonderful community team, so had one midwife for most of my appointments and my labour. I also gave birth at home using only hypnobirthing technics learned via the brilliant @theyesmummum.

 My plan was to aim for the same third time round, here’s how it played out:

  • I went overdue with both boys. Both were born at 41+1 by my dates (although Bertie actually showed up at 41+6 according to the scan dates).

  • When I found out I was pregnant for a third time I PROMISED myself I’d shift my due date by a week and not get stressed when I went ‘over’ again.

  • Did I heck. I did the opposite. I counted down to 40 weeks and every day I went past  it I got more and more uptight.

  • It was like Groundhog Day. Here’s a blog post I wrote in 2016 called ‘Going Overdue Mad me Mental‘. All those feelings all over again.

  • I felt like a coiled spring. Struggling with constant low-level anxiety and awash with hormones. Not to mention the huge bump!

  • The best comparison I can give is it’s like standing at the top of a black run skiing (yes, that’s right I’ve been watching ALOT of the Winter Olympics). You know you are capable of skiing the run, as soon as you put that first turn in you’ll be fine, but nobody enjoys standing looking over a sheer drop indefinitely.

  • I digress.

  • Not surprisingly I asked the Midwife to give me a sweep as early as possible.

  • Sweeps have a bad rep. But I don’t find them too bad. Perhaps that says something about my fanny? Or just that I’ve had them when things are ‘ready’ down there.

  • Imagine my joy when she performed one at 40 weeks and discovered I was 2cm dilated, soft and favourable! Also it was a mega full moon the next day, so I was hopeful, excited even, that we were ‘game on’.

  • But no.

  • The wait continued.

  • For another week!

  • I had a sweep at 40 +4. Then another ‘vigorous’ one at 41 weeks (my midwife was as keen to get this bubba shifting as I was). 

  • I knew almost immediately it had done the job. I felt heavy and emotional. 

  •  I had contractions all that night. But given the stop start nature of the last few weeks, I wasn’t entirely sure it was the real deal. So instead focused on getting some kip.

  • Also I was worried about what we’d do with the boys at 3 am. I’m convinced my body waited until the coast was clear. As soon as the boys were at school/preschool the next morning I breathed a sigh of relief and gave my uterus permission to do its thing!

  • Ben and I tried going for a walk to get things moving. But being out in the hustle and bustle of Peckham had the opposite effect, it slowed everything down, so we headed home.

  • Back indoors a weird calm descended. Things ramped up. I was having to breathe through surges. 

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  • At this point I insisted Ben get up on the kitchen unit and clean the tiles behind the oven. They had been bugging me for weeks, it was the very last item on my  Nesting To Do List! Suddenly it was vital that it was done NOW.

  • Meanwhile I didn’t want to sit down. Instead I stomped up and down the living room.  

  • Every time a surge hit I told myself to embrace it. I got through each one by counting in for 4 out for 8, 4 times over (the longest a contraction lasts is a minute);

  • I also found lifting my arms up in an elaborate wave helped. In my mind I was encouraging my uterus to pull-upwards and open my cervix.  In retrospect I must have looked totally bonkers. But you gotta do what works! 

  • Perhaps it was the mental arm-waving or the deep breathing, but at around 11.30am we made the decision to organise for the boys to be picked up from school (just in case we couldn’t make it).

  • Ben then took their over night stuff to my sisters in Camberwell.  What should have been at 25 minute round-trip took the best part of an hour, because he got stuck behind the bin lorry on the way home.

  • I spent that time trying to distract myself.

  • I sniffed a rag with Neals Yard Remedies ‘Women’s Balance‘ essential oil on.

  • I listened to my brother Charlie Cunningham’s music.

  • I kept emptying my bladder (TMI). This had been a stumbling block in my previous labours. Third time I learned to go as soon as a contraction ended, to avoid having one mid-flow – which hurts!

  • I coninuted to text my midwife with updates. All very rational. I didn’t want to waste her time and get her round under false pretences!IMG_9044

  • When Ben eventually returned, with a bunch of flowers, which I was a bit (very) ungrateful for. To be fair its quite a weird, albeit lovely, to present someone with a bouquet whilst they are in active stage labour! 

  • From there we both continued pottering about in our own space.

  • I attempted to read the paper. He blew up the birth pool and made lunch: a toad-in-the-hole sandwich for him (as gross as it sounds). Ham and cheese on toast for me. Which I demolished! Telling myself it was good to keep my reserves up, but also feeling worried that if I still had an appetite then maybe I wasn’t in ‘hard core labour yet’ (or maybe I am just greedy).

  • Time for a bath. It shifted things up a gear. The contractions started coming with some downward pressure.

  • By the time I got out of the water I felt discombobulated. Less in control. Still in a towel, I came downstairs and snapped at Ben “I’m further along with this labour than you think you know.” A bizarre but probably accurate thing to say!

  • I didn’t realise it at the time but I think I was in transition because we had a very weird conversation about whether or not to call the midwife. I felt anxious that she’d arrive and discover it was a false alarm.  Yup totally irrational, especially as I was feeling the urge to poo – which is a tell-tell sign baby isn’t too far off.

  • Ben begun timing the contractions, turns out they were 3 in 10 minutes lasting at least 45 seconds.

  • But still we didn’t make the call.

  • Not sure why now?

  • A distraction technic? 

  • Maybe it was a reflection of how calm and confident we felt?

  • Another 20 minutes of watching and waiting.

  • At 2.15 we decided there was nothing to lose in asking the midwife to come over and assess me. 

  • Little did I know, but she’d been waiting just round the corner in the car reading the paper, so arrived very promptly.

  • I was now in an upright kneeling position on the sofa. Contractions were long and intense. And I was beginning to moo.

  • It’s the first time I thought to myself “I’m really not enjoying this”.  

  • Ben was filling the pool with water and having been very ‘inward’ and happily dealing with things by myself until then, I suddenly needed him by my side.

  • Sadie (my midwife) managed to check babies heart beat once. But no sooner has she done that than I was asking to go in the pool.

  • Off came my clothes.

  • As I got in my waters went. The relief.

  • Only briefly. Those almighty surges resumed.

  • Unbeknown to me Ben was texting Clemmie Hooper aka @mother_of_daughters, who was due to be my second Midwife, telling her to run from the train station.

  • Sadie had arrived at 2.30.

  • Clemmie at 3.00.

  • Greta came into the world in the water at 3.05

  • The pushing stage was utterly out of my control.  I can only describe it as going ‘beyond’ – going through the pain and the fullness and the logic of a baby coming out of your fanny, safe in the knowledge that the end was in sight!

  • I grabbed my baby girl and pulled her up onto my chest.

  • So calm she was almost asleep. I couldn’t believe it had happened. There she was,  in my arms covered on vernix.

  • I had been worried about my placenta too. But that followed not long after (before being put in a Tupperware ready to be encapsulated).

  • I want to cry as I write this.

  • I feel so proud of my body for what it’s capable of.

  • I’m in awe of my mind. I’d forgotten what a mental battle labour is. People talk about the physical act, which is of course insane.  But for me it was the head space that was tough:

  • Remembering to trust my body. Blocking out niggling worries about how long it might go on for or what could go wrong and instead focusing on the peaceful bits between surges.

  •  I feel proud that Ben and I did so much of it ‘just the two of us’.

  • And (excuse me while I indulge my inner hippie) that we were able to create such sacred, safe, controlled, calm environment. At one point we even discussed how it was “a bit boring”.

  • Being in our home. With my fave candles burning. My choice of music playing. My kids stuff around me. Even Derek our dog was there. So so special.

  • In the haze of the first few weeks of Greta’s life I have played that day over and over in my head. Labour is incredibly challenging on so many levels – physically, emotionally, psychologically but it is the ultimate articulation of the miracle of life.

  • My 3 births are my 3 greatest achievements. There is nothing like the relief, elation and joy of those hours post-labour. 

  • Truly, one of the few times where nothing else in the world matters.

  • And then there’s pleasure of eating (scoffing) that pizza afterwards! It truly is the Food of the Gods.

Sepsis. A Silent Killer.

Sepsis. A Silent Killer.

unnamed-12Here’s the truth. I’d much rather bury my head in the sand about all the diseases, illnesses and accidents-waiting-to-happen that could strike the moment you walk out the door.  But, in reality its much better to be informed, which is why I’m really grateful to Leanne for sharing her experience of Sepsis:

Sepsis the silent killer.

Every year, 150,000 people in the UK develop sepsis. Of those, 44,000 die. 

  • I hope that this list can help to educate us on what a infection or kidney stones can do if left un treated.

  • In my case it led to sepsis.

  • A illness that can be fatal.

  • Here is my story of sepsis.

  • I hope it inspires you to always listen to your body. Protect it and look after it.

  • I was very ill for a few days after having kidney stones.

  • I had a very high temperature, severe shivers and chills.

  • I was extremely sick and disoriented.

  • My little girl was saying hello to me and waving and yet I apparently had no idea.

  • I was like this for a week at home getting prescriptions of pain killers offered to me via GP telephone appointments.

  • I was just to ill to collect them. So instead hid at home.

  • I took a nasty turn one evening whilst watching tv. My temperature soared and my body shook so much I just closed my eyes and thought I would die. I just wanted it all to pass.

  • My partner rang an ambulance and they decided to take me into hospital, and I was left on a ward. Scared, unaware of what was happening and in pain.

  • After hours of pain and not much communication I was taken to theatre where I assumed the kidney stones would be removed and I also assumed the kidney stones were what was causing me to feel this way.

  • I can’t tell you how I felt, it was just terrible and I still have flashbacks of those moments. It’s these moments that changed me.

  • The unknown, the waiting, the sudden pain. The person I was was slowly being eaten up.unnamed-11

  • I woke up in intensive care thinking the stones were out and I could go home. How wrong I was. I was in a room wires coming out of my body from every direction.

  • I didn’t really know what was happening I could see people but in moments all I could see were what I assume were hallucinations.

  • I can still see them and remember them so clearly. Yet it amazes me that it was actually me experiencing all this. I had no recollection of the day or time. My time sitting doing nothing day and night didn’t phase me as I was not really there.. 

  • I was here for a few more days. It was a strange experience. I didn’t know much about what had happened to me. A doctor came in and told me I was lucky to be alive and he asked me if I had seen the gates? I just laughed nervously.. Looking back it all seems like a dream or more so a nightmare.

  • When I was finally allowed to shower alone I could hardly stand. So I sat on a chair in the shower a mirror opposite me. My body was thin and my skin was grey. My face was gaunt and yellow. I remember kissing my arms and thinking how lucky I was. I then began to cry because I could not lift my arms to wash my hair. It hurt, everything hurt. I wanted to lay down. I was in lots of indescribable pain. I did not understand why I couldn’t do ordinary tasks.

  • This was all severe sepsis.Now some people loose limbs, parts of their face. I left it late in catching it as I was so unaware of what it was. But I was so lucky.

  • I was left frightened. I still am.Could it happen again? am I ok? Will my children be ok if I’m ill again? It’s a never ending battle in my mind. I am now 29. I’ve learnt it can happen to anyone, any age. I was always such a carefree lady I was angry that I had become scared and panicky.

  • Since then I have had another child. Bodies are amazing! I still suffer from sudden panic, dizziness, I still find my time in intensive care hard to comprehend. The experience haunts me almost 3 years on.

  • You know your body. Sepsis can take many forms but in my case these were the symptoms: A high temperate, bad smelling urine, tummy and back pain, nausea, vomiting and dizziness.   

  • If you feel like something is wrong go to the GP and get antibiotics, or take yourself straight to hospital. Bodies are amazing you can survive if you catch it in time and the doctors are aware of what sepsis is and it’s signs. 

  • Raising awareness of sepsis is key and I really hope that I have done this in writing this list. It’s also a reminder to us all to always be kind as you never know what a person may of gone through. We are all heros fighting our own little battles.unnamed-13