Herstory and thanks

Well it’s been a week since Nipper 3.0 landed in our lives and as a friend of mine said a few years ago after giving birth to a girl after two boys, “It’s the icing on the cake”. Mind you she went on to add a cherry since! I’m saying nothing!

I want  to write briefly about Ada’s arrival last week as I did for the boys. I’ve always done this for a few reasons: so I don’t forget; because I like to hear other women’s stories and I know how strong the need to talk about it is; and for future Ada who might read herself one day.

Don’t worry there won’t be any gory details because there are none but also because that’s not my style.

Like many women will say I can’t really put a finger on when things started. Probably things had been in motion since a week previously but I suppose being woken up in the wee small hours of Monday morning by contractions made me think that something might happen that day. However when I was expecting Nipper 2.0 I rang Himself so many times and asked him to come home only for the contractions to lose steam that I vowed this time I wouldn’t say a word until I was absolutely sure. Anyway as Monday pushed on I didn’t have any more contractions and I relaxed at home with Nipper 1.0 who was recovering from a very nasty tummy bug. I was pretty tired after dealing with that on Saturday night and all day Sunday. On Monday afternoon however I decided he was well enough to go for a walk and that it would do me no harm at all to get out too: cabin fever had set in after hurting my back had kept me housebound the previous week. Mind you neither he nor I needed to walk quite so much and by the time we got to the creche to pick up Nipper 2.0 both of us were tired and cranky. I had quite a few contractions en route but walking often brings them on only for them to dissipate once you stop moving so still I wasn’t sure. I was also feeling really nauseous and genuinely thought, “Oh no I’ve got Nipper 1.0’s tummy bug!”

We walked home complaining all the way and I decided when I got home I would ring Himself and ask him to skip his yoga because I felt so weird. But lo! when we arrived home there he was. I said I was feeling yuck and retired to the bed. I started tracking my contractions then. I used an iPhone app called Labor Mate – I think it’s about 79c. I tested a few but I liked this one the best. I set my autolock to 3 minutes and, pregnant ladies, you will be relieved to read that not one of my contractions ever lasted longer than the autolock. In other words all my contractions were far shorter than three minutes. Happy days!

So Himself fed the Nippers and put them to bed and then came in to see how I was. I told him then that I was pretty definitely in labour and that he should ring my parents. It was about 8.30. My dad came over just after 9pm and amused himself prepping his show for Wednesday I’m told. I actually didn’t see him until we were heading out the door. It was so nice to be in my own bedroom with Himself in familiar surroundings, low lighting, soft carpet, my yoga ball, my own bathroom, my own tunes. Between this time and when we left for the hospital my contractions became more intense but I also had pleasant, calm periods between them where I completely relaxed and even dozed a little.

Mum arrived over at around 11pm and after Himself appraised her of the situation, she thought we should leave. After de-icing the inside and the outside of the car (!) we drove down to the Coombe and arrived just before 11.30pm. My lovely cousin Rosemary found it amusing that I “foursquared” my arrival at the Coombe but there was method in my madness. I knew that many of my friends and family would see this update on either Twitter or Facebook. (Nothing to do with the fact that I wished to retain my title as Mayor of the Coombe… :))

It was right after this that my waters broke and things really took off. While there was 31 hours between my waters breaking and Nipper 1.0 arriving and about the same amount of minutes for Nipper 2.0 who was induced, I figured it would be somewhere in between with Nipper 3.0. Not at all! She was born 38 minutes later just inside the delivery suite.

So it was quick in the end! I only had one panicky period when I wanted to push but the midwives wouldn’t say yes or no to me. I think they were afraid like me that I wasn’t completely ready. Around this time they tried to get me to take some gas and air, something I had never used. As someone who completely relies on my yoga breathing to get me through my labours this was the worst thing they could do because it involves breathing in through the mouth and I was trying to control my breathing by breathing in through my nose and out through my mouth. Himself was a rock, trying to get me to calm down while also trying to reason with them and basically tell them no. I think their intention was to try and slow things down so they could make sure I was ready but nature took it’s course and a lilac coloured Ada arrived after about 3 pushes.

I’m completely smitten of course and we think she’s completely gorgeous (but are aware of the fact that everyone else just thinks she looks like a squidgy baby) and all is going well. Naturally I had a couple of ropey days when the milk was coming in and I’m still quite tired but all in all I can’t complain. I have plenty of visitors and as I always say that’s one of my most favourite things about having a baby: it’s such a sociable time!

I want to take this opportunity to thank a few people. A big thanks to Himself of course who is just brilliant. I won’t go on. He knows 🙂 I would also like to thank my parents for being on call and ready to help whenever we needed (and for the imminent arrival of the breadmaking machine 🙂 ). A big thanks to Abigail and Jor for looking after the boys while I was at my yoga classes. Thanks also to Grats & EJ for the company, to Mammy MacCabe and Aged Uncle P for the babysitting, bolognese and lemon cake. Thanks for everyone who has called in before and since she arrived: I love company! Thanks to Irish Betty in Brooklyn for the truly gorgeous flowers and remembering that gerberas are my favourites!

I would also like to thank Anne L’Henoret, my yoga teacher, for her inspiring and relaxing classes in the last few weeks. I would recommend to any mum-to-be to try and get a space in Anne’s class. While they are yoga classes, there’s a lot more to them to inspire confidence in your changing body and to assure you that you can deal with the challenge and adventure ahead. Please contact Anne at 087 9545777 to check availability. My classes were in the lovely Seraph Studios but I know she runs classes elsewhere too. Thanks also to Tots2Teens for pointing me in Anne’s direction! By the way if you are attending in Holles St. the antenatal yoga classes there are also excellent but book up quickly too.

I would also like to thank all of you! My family and friends, online and off, who jollied me along in the weeks coming up to the birth when I sorely needed it. Thank you all very much for calls, texts, emails, IMs, comments, and tweets congratulating us on Ada’s arrival. I’m sorry if I didn’t manage to reply to you all individually but it meant so much to me and Himself too!

I know now you would expect me to thank the team in the Coombe and I do thank them for doing their job. I know that the patients they deal with do not always have as easy pregnancies and births as mine. However, as a general rule I did feel that all those that I met were just doing their job. I felt like I was no more than a patient number and a chart. I couldn’t fault their work but I felt that the care could have been a bit more woman focused and a lot less of “that’s just the way we do it in this hospital.” To be fair this may well have been because that’s all that was humanly possible for them given the resource issues in the healthcare system but I don’t know, I felt it was a cultural thing; that it was part of the culture of the hospital. Maybe I’m being too naive but conversely maybe they are too wary. There were, of course, one or two who went the extra mile for me (I’m thinking of the community midwife who finally bit the bullet and just brought me upstairs to see the delivery suite after months of my asking. The irony of it is of course I was there for all of 30 minutes, most of which was after I had delivered!) I don’t mean to be mean-spirited, I am trying to be constructive, but after the personable, friendly and knowledgeable treatment I received on the Domino Scheme in NMH Holles St. it was a bit of a disappointment. As an example, I was trying to find out would there be a shower available to me during labour and should I bring my own towels. All academic queries as it turned out but the midwife told me she didn’t know because she didn’t work on the labour ward. She works in the hospital but hadn’t informed herself or been informed about the system in the labour ward. The mind boggles. As I have mentioned previously I understand that a Domino scheme will soon be available in the Coombe (although from my conversations with the staff there are varying levels of certainty about that) and I really hope that this initiative will help them realise the benefits to both the hospital and its clients of a woman centred approach to antenatal, intrapartum and postnatal care.

Lastly a number of people asked me where we got Ada’s name. She is named after Ada Lovelace, Lord Byron’s only legitimate child and first computer programmer. We had decided on the name months ago but coincidentally a friend of mine contacted me last week to let me know about Ada Lovelace Day on March 24th. Bloggers are encouraged to write about women in technology and science on March 24th in order to celebrate their contribution in this field. There’s just under 10 days to go so bloggers, tweeters, facebookers – get your thinking caps on and plan your post for March 24th.

And now duty calls!

Navel gazing

I am so self absorbed these days. Much as I was back in June 2006 as I counted the days until Nipper 2.0’s arrival or not as the case was then. You would think I would make the most of this time blogging and casting over on The Rosie View but I managed to completely banjax my back last Monday and couldn’t sit or lie down comfortably for about 5 days. I don’t generally have a bad back so this was my first experience of the excruciating pain that can be experienced and I readily admit I was blubbing like a baby. All I could take for the pain was Panadol! Thankfully by Friday it seemed to have eased off and I started thinking “Hey I could do this whole birth thing!”. Then the next thing you know Nipper 1.0 spends all Saturday night puking on the half hour so by the time 6am came around on Sunday the two of us got up (Himself having done the lion’s share of pajama and bed changing during the night.) So yesterday I was exhasusted again and hopeful not to go into labour as much for my own energy levels as for Himself’s.

So time is hanging heavy on my hands and my feet and my belly. I found a photo of myself at 40 weeks on Nipper 2.0 and created the collage below because as mentioned I’m very self absorbed these days. The silhouette on the left is me in 2006 and the silhouette on the right is me yesterday. I reckon I looked bigger in 2006!

I know many of you are waiting for our news so here’s a song to keep you amused in the meantime 🙂 A great iconic female singer for International Women’s Day.

Good news for mums-to-be

The Coombe Women
Photo right owned by MarianF55 (ccOn a recent visit to the Coombe Women’s Hospital for an antenatal appointment with my midwife she shared some great news with me. We were chatting about this and that and she told me that she had done her training on the Domino Scheme in the National Maternity Hospital in Holles St. This is the scheme under which I had Nipper 1.0 and 2.0. Domino stands for Domiciliary/ In and Out. It means that mothers on the scheme can have their babies at home or go in, have their baby and then go home within 6 to 12 hours if everything checks out. These schemes are woman centred and open only to women with uncomplicated pregnancies (e.g. no first timers over 35, no multiple pregnancies, no previous caesarean etc.) Expectant mothers are looked after by a team of midwives but if required can always be referred to a specialist.

I found my experience on the Domino Scheme in Holles st. really empowering and the quality of care was top notch considering the Victorian-era hospital in which they work. I never had to wait for an appointment and in fact when I opted for a home birth in my second pregnancy I had all my appointments at home. Can you imagine if these schemes were available to women all over Ireland how much time would be saved? Surely the recent Swine Flu “epidemic” underlines the need to keep at risk groups from congregating? There will of course always be women who need specialist care and there will of course always be women who think they need special care but I feel the Domino scheme gave me very special care.

Anyway the good news is that the Coombe have finally got the go-ahead for their Domino Scheme and will start taking bookings soon for August/ September babies. So if you have just found out you are pregnant and you are outside the catchment for the Rotunda or Holles St. give the Coombe a ring and book yourself in. You won’t regret it!

(Oh and yes I have great plans for a post about the poor state of websites and the pathetic use of online services among health care services in Ireland.)

Reassure yo’self: do a first aid course

A long overdue blog post. Story of my life. I have been in four hospitals this week between suspected I don’t know what that required our GP sending us to Crumlin Children’s Hospital, minor surgery in James and an antenatal on the same day and then back to Tallaght Hospitals today for my H1N1 booster. God I hate hospitals!

This may be one of the reasons I was attracted to the idea of a paediatric first aid course. I really, truly meant to do one before Nipper 1.0 was born and that was 6 years ago. So when Tots2Teens invited me to attend their Paediatric First Aid Course in Bewleys Hotel Ballsbridge at the beginning of November I jumped at the chance.

bobIt was a day long course and there were about 15 people on the course. There were a mix of parents but many childcare workers. There were only 2 men there and of course Bob (see left). The childcare workers were, for the most part, doing refresher courses. It was amazing to find out from them how much had changed in paediatric first aid since their original training.

The course was very comprehensive and the trainer whose name escapes me really knew his stuff. I did feel at times that he was just going through the slides. He also tended to presume we understood what he was talking about, jargon and acronyms and such. However he was so likable, straightforward and obviously into the topic that those criticisms didn’t matter.

I worried (and here’s a crazy thing to worry about) that attending the course would make me very worried and if there is one thing that drives me mad it’s worrisome parents. Yes sometimes I think other parents don’t think I worry enough but Nipper 1.0 is so bloody cautious that we’re safe enough I think. That is definitely not the case with Nipper 2.0 so there has been some close shaves in the last year and a half! My main feeling on completing the course (for which I got a cert!) was a feeling of reassurance. I really think confidence is a vital element of parenting so if you think you might panic at the sight of your child’s blood or broken bones (Yikes!) I would definitely recommend this course. If nothing else it will give you the confidence to assess and deal with emergency situations involving your children. But it’s more than just paediatric first aid. The emphasis is on kids but much of the theory is generic while the practical exercises (and there was plenty of them!) focus on children where different.

I am also very grateful to Martina in Tots2Teens for sorting me out with some suggested Antenatal Yoga Class. She sent me details of the Seraph Yoga Centre on Heytesbury St. I started there on Wednesday evening and it was brilliant. It was a little more energetic that my previous yoga classes in Holles St. (which if you are a patient there I would strongly recommend too). That said I had no aches and pains the next day although because of my minor surgery earlier that day I was taking it easy. I also had my antenatal earlier that day and when I told the midwife that I was starting my yoga that evening she said, “You always know the women who have done yoga in the labour ward.” I found the confidence (there it is again!) and techniques I gained in yoga really helped in both my labours. Antenatal yoga helps focus your mind and body on the upcoming event and the poses are specially chosen to help relieve the stresses of pregnancy and labour.

The class in Seraph is taught by a woman name Anne and as soon as I arrived she said, “I know you from somewhere.” She didn’t seem very familiar so I said you might know my sister Abigail. (Although we think we’re very different many people get us mixed up.) Turns out she volunteers for Oxfam (as well as being a great yoga instructor) and was there when Abigail performed at Oxjam last year. In fact I was there too and she did recognise me! Here’s a video I made of Abigail playing at Oxjam last year. Enjoy!