Friday 20 November 2009

the world must be ending, because i have crafted

So thank the gods that Caroline passed along a Bo Peep costume because what the HELL was I thinking? I never would have had time to make pantaloons, but - and this is the scary part - I did manage to make the hat. Me! I sewed something! Without a pattern! Amazingly, it only went slightly wrong. Hat v. 1 went in the bin because I didn't pull the elastic tight enough. Hat v. 2 is the one in the photo, and I'm so pleased (and astounded) at how well it turned out. It did end up being ever so slightly too small (I had to make it when Mia was in bed, so couldn't do a fitting), but it'll do the job for today. Oh and note to self: do the hem/lace border BEFORE sewing the elastic in next time. You goob.

Jack wore blue to school today for Anti Bullying day. As soon as I told him he could wear something blue, the Ben10 t-shirt appeared with a huge grin. When I told Mia that she was going to wear a costume today, she shouted "YAY! Costume!" She was thrilled to be Little Miss "Muffin".

And so, I have crafted. And no one got hurt. I know; I'm scared, too.

Monday 16 November 2009

i am not martha stewart

I'm going to attempt to sew this week. Mia's nursery is fundraising for Children in Need on Friday; they're having the kids dress up as nursery rhyme characters for sponsorship. I got the bright idea to dress her up as Little Miss Muffet, then got the even brighter idea to sew a little cap and bloomers for the costume. How hard could it be, I asked myself? The hat's going to be like a shower cap with a frilly lace border, and the bloomers are simple trousers with an elastic waist and lace cuffs. Yup. Simple.

What I need to remind myself is that I'm not crafty, no matter how much I'd like to think I have some sort of (deeply) hidden talent for such things. I did three scrapbook pages for Mia and lost interest, but I still quite like all the sparkly bits and sticky letters I bought for it. I have three unfinished knitting projects on the go, and without exagerrating, one of them has gone from a birth present to a first birthday present. I have an undecorated belly cast shoved up on a shelf in a closet. The last time I tried to decorate cupcakes, the decorations stuck to the plate and crumbled into dust when I tried to remove them. I am not crafty. I must be stopped.

Ooh but you know, that fabric advent calendar I saw looks like a cinch to make. How hard could it be?

Friday 23 October 2009


So, what have I been up to lately? I've been knitting tiny little hats for chariddy, which is a bit ridiculous considering the fact that I've got three embarassingly late projects still on the needles. I'm not kidding. I still haven't finished a blanket I started knitting when I was pregnant with Mia. I'm hoping that the tiny hats knitting will inspire me to finish the other projects. Now that the weather's gone cold and rainy, knitting indoors doesn't seem like a bad way to spend a little time each day.

Speaking of the weather, I actually enjoy it when it starts to get cooler because it means it's crockpot, stew, and slow roasting time. I love summer food - meats and fish grilled on the BBQ, salads, plates of cold meat and cheese - but there's something so comforting about autumnal foods. Everything slows down, we spend more time at home (or at least I do now that I'm on leave), and what I cook reflects this. Slow roasted shoulder of lamb and pork, beef and Guinness stew, braised beef skirt, chicken curry, a big pot of chilli simmering on the stove. Roasted butternut squash, sauteed kale, roasted carrots. Things made from pumpkin, roast chicken, homemade soup. The sort of food you want to take to bed with you and cuddle under the duvet. Which I don't do, because I'm clumsy and would end up with a bedful of dinner. And it would be a little bit weird.

I took Jack to see "Up" last weekend, and it was wonderful. Very similar to Wall-E with its quieter moments and several scenes without dialogue, and beautifully rendered. It's not quite as innovative as Wall-E in terms of storyline and concept, but it's still a fantastic alternative to the usual mindless kiddie fare. I also recommend "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs", which isn't nearly as thought-provoking, but is hilarious and brilliantly animated. Thank the gods that children's films are often bearable and even enjoyable for adults these days.

And we've all had a stomach bug (minus Jack.) That is all.

Thursday 15 October 2009

october 15

Lighting a candle tonight for "Squeak" and all the other little ones lost, at 7pm tonight. For more info, see

Tuesday 13 October 2009

where's this blog going? (and will it send me a postcard?)

Okay, so here I am finally updating this woefully out of date blog. Hi. How have you been? Great, me too.

I've come to realise that this blog was becoming a "what are my kids up to now" type of thing, which isn't interesting to that many people and was getting more difficult to update. I'm going to keep track of all the milestones and funny/cute/interesting things my kids are saying and doing, but probably not on this blog. I don't particularly want to maintain an electronic baby book. The day-to-day funnies tend to get included with my Facebook statuses (statii?), and I think I'll keep it that way. This isn't to say that I won't ever talk about my kids on this blog - that would be impossible - but it's not the only thing I want to talk about and I don't really want this to specifically be a "mummy blog".

This will be a more general blog about whatever's drifting around my addled brain. It might be mummy-related, it might be food-related (most likely), or it could be about a more general issue like why the hell those Irish twins made it to the final three on "X Factor". Seriously, what was Louis thinking?! It's a joke; surely some genuinely talented groups didn't make it through as a result. What was I talking about? Oh, yes. The blog.

It's nothing too earth-shattering, really. I just wanted to let anyone who's still reading this know what's up and that I will indeed still blog. Ithankyew.


You may have noticed that my usual link now points to my revamped blog on Blogger. This is fine. Don't panic. I've just decided to transfer everything to Blogger to keep life simple and to reduce the bandwidth/data storage on my main server (which costs me money). The wittydomainname domain will live on, and I may do something with it one day, but for now everything will be here on Blogger. Old links will point to this page, so no need to update bookmarks unless you want to be extra tidy.

More blogging to come as soon as I'm done feeding Isla. One-handed typing is such a pain!

Saturday 12 September 2009

super duper monsters!

We had the pleasure of receiving a copy of the film "Monsters Inc" on fancypants Blu-ray to review. We had an older copy already that had been watched a zillion times and was well-loved, so Jack was incredibly excited to see a new edition arrive in the post. However, the excitement turned to disappointment when he realised that it wasn't actually a new "Monsters Inc" film. "It's the same movie," he said sadly. 4-year-olds simply don't appreciate the technological thrill of Blu-ray, I tell you.

Despite the sadness, we all enjoyed the film for the zillionth and one time. I was very much looking forward to comparing the quality of the animation to the original, and it really was wonderful. Sully's fur was one of the earliest successful renditions of hair in CGI (hair is notoriously difficult to animate realistically, along with fabric and light), and it looked even more vibrant and lustrous in Blu-ray. There is an amazing depth to Blu-ray films, and the difference is obvious for this particular film. It's almost like watching it in 3D. Very impressive and worth getting a new copy on Blu-ray. My complaint about a lot of these Disney Blu-ray re-releases is that many of them just don't benefit from the new format. This one does, in spades.

The film itself has always been one of my favourites. In fact, I first saw it in the cinema with friends long before I had kids. We all laughed out loud and I'm a little ashamed to admit that even back then the last few scenes made me teary. It's everything you expect in a good Pixar film: witty dialogue, an imaginative storyline, and something to keep both children and adults entertained.

Here's the "official" blurb from the Disney folks themselves (therefore, any spelling/grammatical errors are theirs entirely, I must hasten to add):

The Disney Blu-ray disc is known as ‘magic in high definition’ – the picture quality is far superior to that of a DVD and the capacity for interactive extras is greater (basically you get more to play around with). Blu-ray Players also have what’s known as ‘backwards capability’ which means you can watch your old DVD’s on them too – so if you do decide you’re ready to upgrade from your DVD player you won’t have stacks of unwanted DVD’s lying around!

And some excerpts to enjoy:

Tuesday 8 September 2009


Oooh and I forgot to mention an important milestone - Mia's toilet training! She started the bank holiday weekend (nice weather/lots of time spent outdoors + in-laws here to lend a hand = good time to ditch the nappies) and has been doing really well. After two days of lots of accidents, she seemed to get the hang of it. Now she can stay dry the whole day, as long as we don't leave it too long between toilet visits - especially when we're out and about. But remarkably, she now tells us she needs the toilet and even takes herself and gets started on her own. That kid will do anything for stickers, I tell you. I'm very proud of my big girl!


Two months old! TWO MONTHS old! I'll blink and she'll be driving my car next! Amazing. Isla is a lovely, happy little baby and (please please please don't let me jinx this) she's been sleeping really well at night. Generally she has a feed at around 11pm, then wakes anywhere from 5-6am. A nice block of sleep keeps mummy sane. She's smiley and chit-chatty, cuddly, and sweet. I still stare at her sometimes and marvel that she's ours. Look what we made! Aren't genes neat?

My first baby, my big boy, started school last Friday. I cried, just a little - and waited to do so until after he was safely out of sight in his classroom to avoid embarrassing him (yet.) He loves school, and I'm so glad. He's only on short days for this week, but he comes home totally exhausted from using his brain much more than usual. His daily report on what he did at school that day usually involves who got in trouble and what they did, minute detail about what was consumed for lunch, and the fact that he received no time outs. I love that his day now has some sort of structure and that he's in very capable hands. He's made new friends already, and greets me at the end of the day with a huge running-start hug and a smile to match. His teacher is lovely; in fact, everyone we've met at the school so far has been lovely. Even the other mums chitchat to me. Really! Friendly small talk! After all these years of being snubbed by various mothers in various settings, I'm now being approached and spoken to! Oh, I'm all agog.

We're still working out the routine, sorting out how to get three children (and myself) ready for the day. School means having to be somewhere at a precise time, so I need to get my butt in gear every day. But having said this, I absolutely love doing the school run. Jack, Isla, and I walk to school together, having a nice chat during some very rare "alone" (I realise Isla's there with us, but she's not really contributing much to the conversation, bless her) time. I love our conversations; they're hilarious and sometimes surreal. Jack found a tile spacer (it's plastic and cross-shaped) on the pavement on the way home. Holding it so it looked like a plus sign, he said, "If you hold it this way, it's Jesus' cross." Turning it slightly on an angle, he said, "If you hold it this way, it's where you find treasure." Funny 'cos it's true. Incidentally, I'm wondering when the nice Church of England school people will discover that we're not at all religious. We'll just lay low for now. Shhhh.

It's good to have something to force me to be up and ready for the day by a certain time, and it's wonderful to have a morning stroll each day. Blows away the cobwebs, as they say.

I've got a million and one (some of them non-mummy) blog posts whirring around in my foggy-brained head, that I will get around to typing out at some point. Maybe next week when Jack's on full days. I definitely need to do a Blu-ray review soon, so expect that in the next day or so!

Wednesday 26 August 2009


Whoa. There went another three weeks. Dude, where's my time? This is seriously getting scary.

So, since last time, Isla's given us her first smile (at four weeks), we've had lots of fun days and evenings with friends, and Isla's already outgrown a whole set of clothing. So long newborn, hello 0-3. At the last weigh in a week ago, she was 11 lbs...which is what Mia weighed at 3 months. Yup.

We had our six week appointment with a new lady doctor who was lovely, but slightly irritating. "You're VERY brave!" she gasped when reading my notes and seeing I had a home birth, followed by another wide-mouthed expression of shock when I informed her that I breastfed Mia for 19 months. Yes, I know that homebirths and extended breastfeeding are quite rare but she's a doctor, for goodness sake. She really shouldn't be so dumbstruck by these notions. What's interesting is that I've received the most understanding about my mad hippy ways from elderly women. None have been taken aback about Isla being born at home, almost all of them ask "Are you feeding her yourself?", and many have been complimentary about my sling, saying what a clever idea it is. A lot of what we now consider the norm is actually quite recent, in terms of modern history. Formula feeding and hospital births have only become common since the 2nd world war, so I think this is why many older women aren't fazed at all by what's now become unusual. All this to say, it's been nice to chat to people who don't think I'm a complete lunatic.

Life has been good. Hectic, but good. I'm in the midst of some strange postnatal nesting phase, scrubbing things down, clearing out cupboards, organising, and getting around to all those things that have been sadly neglected for months. I've hacked back the jungle that was our garden (and many thanks to Paul for digging up that hideous grass stuff around the pond and tidying up the border), cleaned out the pantry and kitchen cupboards (farewell bottle of tarragon that expired in 2005), gone through the kids' toys and books and donated unused things to charity, put the kids' toys in the lounge in large plastic boxes (I discovered that the kids would get out every toy and dump it two seconds later when they were out in open boxes), cleared out my wardrobe, and put together a stack of stuff ready for eBay. I've backed up my photos on to DVD - frighteningly, I hadn't done this since the end of last year. I bought decorating supplies to finish up the belly cast with the kids. I finally put a live plant in the pot by the front door (now taking bets to see how long it survives.) I planted more veg for the autumn season. I made a huge batch of roasted vegetable salsa from the lovely tomatoes I've harvested from the plant my father-in-law gave me. I might even get around to finishing that blanket I started to knit when I was pregnant with Mia. Whoop!

Good thing I just got a Bialetti coffee maker to keep myself powered by lattes.

Wednesday 5 August 2009

one month

Four weeks have gone by since Isla's birth, and I really have no clue where the time has gone. Paul returned to work today; it truly doesn't feel like he's been off for a month. On the plus side, if time keeps flying as it has, Christmas and our holiday to California next Easter will be here before we know it. Isla is brilliant and I swear her eyes are turning brown already. I seem to recall that Jack's had a hint of brown quite early on as well. My little milk guzzler is one ounce shy of 10lbs (although this was a week ago, so she's likely over 10lbs now) which means she put on 10oz since the week before. I might be crazy (no, really!) but I think she's been smiling at me. Not gas, I mean proper smiling. I'm sure I got some true smiles from her over the weekend. Whatever they are, they're adorable.

Her sleep is still unpredictable, although she tends to only wake once during the night on the most part. If I feed her at 11 or midnight, she usually wakes again at 2 or 3, then again at 6 or 7 which is when I get up for the day (along with the rest of the house.) So, I'm still not getting a huge amount of sleep but it's better than nothing - or the nights when she wakes every 1 or 2 hours, as she did on Monday night. Breastfeeding continues to go well, although I find it strange how awkward it was at first (and still is a bit). I forgot how difficult it can be to get a newborn latched on and stay latched on, and how it's a little trickier to get the baby into a good position because of their lack of head control. It's made feeding in public very fumbly at times, and oddly, I sometimes find myself feeling very self conscious about it. I was sitting right at the front window at Loch Fyne restaurant in Bluewater on Monday, breastfeeding away. Once Isla was latched on and I got my clothing arranged around her, I was fine. But at first, I felt very awkward and paranoid that people were staring aghast at this woman with her boob out (although it wasn't) in a restaurant. It's funny how I got to the point of not caring at all with Mia and have reverted to feeling shy about breastfeeding with Isla.

I finally realised that the painful latching I've experienced with all three children in the first two weeks has nothing to do with the latching itself - it's from "let down". I could never figure out why breastfeeding hurt so much when midwives were assuring me that my latch was absolutely fine. All the books claim that if it hurts, you're not doing it right. Well bully to the books, because I figured out that the initial, toe-curling pain I used to get with each latch was from the milk coming in. The tingly sensation you get when the milk starts to flow is usually painless (maybe a little uncomfy, but not enough to make you gasp) but for some reason, mine is very painful for the first two weeks. It feels like sharp pins and needles right behind my nipples that subsides after a moment, and after chatting to Jane about it, I found out that this isn't unusual and does tend to go away after two weeks or so. Who knew? So anyway, the pain is gone now and for those of you experiencing the same thing (or who may once they give birth), just try to get through those first couple of weeks and know that it will probably get a whole lot better soon after. And Lansinoh is your best friend.

I'm experimenting with various cloth nappies for Isla as I attempt to find something economical and effective. Mia's still in nappies although I'm hoping it won't be for much longer. In the meantime, Isla can't really Mia's nappies because I don't have enough for both, and I really don't want to spend much on new ones for only a few months' use. I think I'm going to use bamboo squares, as they seem to be absorbent enough and fairly inexpensive. Terry squares are another option I'm going to try, and they're even cheaper - around £1-2 per nappy. I love them...they make Isla look like the baby on the Fairy soap packaging.

My big girl had her very first haircut last week in Nanna's kitchen by a lovely lady called Angela who cuts my mother-in-law's hair. Although Mia wasn't too keen on the concept at first, she quickly went very quiet and sat still while Angela cut her hair. For the next few days, she couldn't stop talking about "my haircup!" I've got one of Mia's "curls" to stick in the baby book now. She looks so different with a fringe. At least she's looking a lot less mullety now that the back and front have been shortened a little. My little pixie!

We had a lovely break down at the in-laws' and did quite a bit while we were away. We went to Howlett's zoo (the gorilla enclosure is fantastic), met up with a friend and her adorable boy at the Museum of Kent Life (which is very much like Thurleigh Farm, the kids loved it), had a cream tea, ate lots of yummy BBQ food at my brother and sister-in-laws', took Jack to see "G-Force" and ate at Loch Fyne, and managed to catch a little bit of sunshine during our stay.

So, today it's just Isla and I as life returns to normal. Now we find a new routine and settle into life as a family of five. And maybe try to get a little sleep in between.

Sunday 19 July 2009

in brief

Good stuff:
  • Loving breastfeeding again. I missed it.

  • Getting little blocks of sleep in between feeds.

  • I've lost 1st 8lbs (22 lbs) since Isla's birth. I think I'll only have about 1st (14lbs) to lose once all the water weight is out of me.

  • My feet look normal again and my rings are back on my finger.

  • Overhearing a young guy at Tesco on a crowded Saturday shouting in frustration "See, THIS is why I do my shopping online!!"

  • Not having to pay for parking at Hinchingbrooke Hospital.

  • Mia saying "I love you" to me and asking for "tuddles".

  • Jack telling me that I'm his best mummy.

Sucky stuff:
  • I've got a bad cold (I think) and feel pretty rough. I'm very afraid of swine flu, not for me, but for Isla.

  • The weather. Apparently summer's over now.

  • The distinct lack of anything interesting on television lately.

  • Smoked brie from Sainsburys. It doesn't taste of smoke and the brie itself isn't very nice. Definitely give this one a miss.

  • There are things I need to do/plant in the veg patch, but the weather won't let me. The veg patch taunts me from the kitchen window daily.

  • Not getting around to booking that last pedicure before Isla arrived.

  • Still having to wear maternity clothes.

Tuesday 14 July 2009

day 6

Well, what a (almost) week Isla's had! Since my last post, she's sprouted a bellybutton (her cord stump fell off at some point on Sunday night), had her first bath, sorted out a 4 hourly feeding routine (fingers crossed), and received her NHS number so she's officially In The System in terms of healthcare. She had her GP check on Friday, after much confusion on the part of a receptionist whose brain exploded trying to figure out how to cope with a lack of paperwork because I used an independent midwife. The doctor was absolutely fantastic with her (I think he may have done the 6 week check for Mia and I) and Mia had a grand time playing with toys and making the doctor's table go up and down. Bed goes up, bed goes down.

Breastfeeding is going well. As I mentioned, Isla has discovered the joys of a full milky meal (vs. the superfood snack of colostrum) and feeds every 4 hours or so. My milk came in overnight late Thursday, and I'm so thrilled that engorgement has passed me by again this time. I don't even leak, which is very odd for me. Odd, but good. I've had two nights with little stretches of unbroken sleep, which has been bliss. Although it takes her quite a while to feed (around 45 minutes in total, including a nappy change), she feeds well and it keeps her belly full for a few hours. It really does make a world of difference when you can doze for a good three hours in a row.

On Saturday, I had my usual Day 3 Postnatal Hormonal Crash. This is the point at which something awful happens hormonally (no clue what - probably a big drop in pregnancy hormones, which I also experienced on day 3 after miscarrying) that causes you to turn into a lunatic for a short while. It's like PMS times a thousand with really bad jet lag. I was so exhausted; I couldn't even see straight. I had zero patience for anything, and every tiny thing stressed me out to no end. Despite this, I was fine when friends came to visit although I didn't feel entirely coherent. I didn't have a great night on Saturday, but felt a million times better on Sunday morning. We went to our local pub to meet up with friends for a birthday celebration and post fun run BBQ. It was a brilliant, brilliant afternoon. The weather was gorgeous, Isla got attention and cuddles from loads of people, and the kids (all THREE of them) had the best sleep that night in ages. Yesterday, we ventured out to Tesco in Bar Hill where I ran, with arms outstretched, towards the cheese aisle and filled our trolley with soft and/or unpasturised treats. If I could, I would have leapt into the air, done a somersault, and dived headfirst into the brie section. As we walked down the next aisle, I realised that I could also now have cured meats. With glee, I grabbed packages of salami, parma ham, and cured beef. Lunch was mighty, mighty fine let me tell you.

Now, about her name. To save a bit of time and confusion, please note that:
a) Her name is pronounced "eye-lah", like Isla Fisher the actress.
b) No, she wasn't named for Isla Fisher.
c) No, we didn't realise that Isla is an anagram of Lisa until after she was born and Paul was typing it out.

I can't tell you how many times all of these points have come up. It doesn't upset me at all, it's just funny because none of this crossed our minds since we came up with her name several months ago. It never occurred to me that people wouldn't know how to pronounce Isla (particularly our American family and friends) and I most definitely didn't name her "after" me! 'Cos you know, if I wanted to do that, she'd just be Lisa Junior. Or Lisa the Second. Or Lisette? Perhaps Mini Me. Her middle name, Catherine, is after my mom (although she's a Catharine, after St Catharine's, Ontario, her birthplace) and Paul's late Nan. If this baby was a boy, he would have been Ewan Michael (although I was also leaning towards Ewan Andrew.) We came up with Isla and Ewan by going through baby name web sites and happened to pick two Scottish names. The selection of Ewan may have been slightly influenced by my "admiration" for Ewan McGregor, I admit. Michael is both Paul and his Dad's middle name and I've always had a positive association with that name. We also contemplated Andrew after Paul's oldest brother.

And that now brings you up to date. Like I said, busy week.

Friday 10 July 2009

day two

Wow, still reeling from the transition of going from baby in belly to baby out of belly. When I woke in the very early hours of Wednesday morning, one of my first thoughts was how sad I'd be to not be pregnant anymore. Although I was ready - REALLY ready - to give birth and feeling hugely uncomfortable, knowing it was my final few hours of being pregnant was very bittersweet. But right now, I rejoice in the lack of heartburn, I embrace the absence of stabbing pubic bone pain, and I'm giddy knowing that I can climb the stairs and get out of bed to go to the loo without grimacing in agony. My feet are almost normal size again. I rolled on my tummy last night, just because I can (although it felt very weird on my partially-deflated belly and I couldn't sleep like that). I ATE A WHOLE WEDGE OF BRIE. Celebrate good times, c'mon!

Now, the following paragraph shouldn't be read if you're eating nor should it be read by anyone who hasn't given birth or the squeamish. Today, my biggest accomplishment has been achieved: The First Post Partum Poo. Some of you will nod your head sagely in agreement (and some will be saying out loud, "Is this woman blogging about HER OWN POO?!?!"), the first toilet trip after a birth is always the scariest. After I had Jack, no one informed me that a spinal block does exactly that - it cements you up for a good week afterwards. I was so terrified to go to the toilet for fear of my stitches bursting open like that scene in "Empire Strikes Back" when Luke slices open that alien llama thingy to climb inside. After I had Mia, I was nervous because I had a tear and no matter how many times Laura reassured me that it was impossible to do any further damage to the tear, it was still very scary. Also, the pushing brought back some negative flashbacks to the chaos from the birth. This time, I was a pro. A real poop trooper. I went, and it was fine. And there was much rejoicing.

Right, so those of you who left us a paragraph ago, please feel free to rejoin the group. Welcome back! Isla is fabulous, she's got a shock of jet black hair and a look on her face that says "But it was really nice in there. Why did you make me come out?" Jack is wonderful with her, doting on Isla as much as he did with Mia. He gently strokes her head and gives her kisses, and loves to cuddle her. Mia takes somewhat of an interest in her, but I don't think she really knows what to make of her. So far, her interactions with her little sister have involved poking all of her facial features while identifying them (e.g. "Isla's eye. Isla's cheek. Isla's hair.") and picking up every object that belongs to her and asking "What's that?" I think maybe she'll grow on Mia eventually.

I've had no sleep in three nights, so I'm feeling incredibly exhausted and unable to cope well with three little ones. Thankfully Paul has been getting more sleep than I have, and has been absolutely wonderful at taking over a lot of the work, making sure I keep some of my sanity. Until Isla works out that the big yellow thing in the sky means it's time to be awake and the big grey thing in the sky means it's time to sleep, I'm going to have quite a few more sleepless night. And on that note, I better go upstairs and try to shut my eyes for a few minutes before the night shift starts.

Wednesday 8 July 2009

here she is...

Very proudly introducing Isla Catherine, born at home today at 1:30pm. Amazingly, she weighed in at 8lbs 11 1/2 oz. Who knew I was growing such a big bird in there?! No wonder I was having problems walking anywhere in the last weeks. Stretched out abs combined with a heavy baby means walking like a cowboy. Anyway, she's here. She's absolutely beautiful. And I'm so happy.

I told Paul to get the pool as close to ready as possible. I knew this wasn't going to fizzle out and that I would give birth today. I ate some toast and cheese with Jack, had some tea, and more toast with jam a little later. It was all I could stomach, but I knew I had to have something in my belly or else it would be like running a marathon after a fast.

Jane arrived at around 9:30 this morning, when contractions were every 3 minutes or so but still manageable. The pain was very low (mostly around the area of the pelvis at the front where you'd feel SPD pain) but would sometimes shift to my lower back...which of course had me worried because of the back labour fear. I asked Jane if it was normal to feel contractions in the back even if the baby isn't posterior, and she reassured me that it was. Oh how lovely to have her there; she held my lavender wheat pack thingy to my back during contractions, gently stroked my back, and told me how brilliantly I was doing. And you know, I did do brilliantly. I'm so proud at how well I coped this time. No screaming, no hysteria, and far, far less pain felt. Even Mr. TENS became my good friend and actually worked. Maybe it was because I avoided back labour and maybe it was because labour build up gradually, but I coped. I made low, primal noises through the strongest contractions and breathed my way through the weaker ones. I think towards the end I did something resembling Inuit throat singing (but done very badly and only singing about four notes over and over), but it got me through. In between contractions (yes! I had breaks!!), I was perfectly lucid and felt absolutely fine. I cannot be anywhere near giving birth, I thought. I feel far too good. But then my pelvis felt very heavy during contractions and I was starting to get the urge to push. Already? Nah!

I wasn't desperate to get into the pool this time, I just felt it was time. To my surprise, I pushed through the next contraction and felt a very small pop - for the first time, I felt my waters break. It was like a small bubble breaking, probably because I was in the water (how tidy!) Jane told me that I had meconium in my waters, which meant it would be best if I birthed on dry land. She said the baby's heart rate was absolutely fine and stable, but I was worried. I knew that meconium was bad, and I worried that if I couldn't get this baby out fast enough, it would mean a hospital transfer. I was nervous about birthing out of the pool; I love the privacy and comfort of the warm water. I stood at first, leaning on the side of the pool for the next contraction then leaning on the sofa for the one following. I stood in a squatting position, and it was really not comfy. I pushed and pushed, and by this point, I did scream a little because I was afraid. I looked down and saw more meconium had come out, and I cried "My okay, baby". Jane suggested that I get on my knees and rest my upper body on the sofa, and that was better. I was still panicked and just wanted to get the baby out safely, so in between grunting and growling in frustration, I shouted "COME ON, BABY!!"

Not that shocking when you know her weight, but at the time I was taken aback at how difficult it was to push her out and how much it was hurting. I do think the panic made it worse though. Jane told me to breathe through the contractions instead of pushing, and let them do the work of getting her head out - which worked like a charm. She pressed a warm flannel against my perineum as Isla's head crowned, and it felt fantastic. The next contraction, her body started to come out...and that's when Jane noticed that the cord was around her neck. She got her untangled, and I pushed her out with the next contraction. Isla cried right away and scored a 9 on her first Apgar, so she passed with flying colours. Jane told me to go back on my heels and she passed Isla to me through my knees. "It's a girl!" I said in a slight state of shock. We'd been so sure she would be a boy. "Hello beautiful girl. My beautiful girl!" I said over and over.

I sat with her for a while, coaxed her to feed (which she did, brilliantly), and had a lovely cuddle. Paul asked what I wanted to eat, and I requested two runny poached eggs on toast. Beeyootiful. I had a shower, but really didn't feel as great as I did after I had Mia. I hurt. Quite a lot, and still do. My stomach feels like I've done 1,000 crunches, my back is a little sore, I'm still walking like a cowboy, and I'm exhausted. The afterpains are much stronger (which is apparently common with each birth), so when I feed Isla I feel like I'm in early labour again. Even when I'm not feeding her, I'm getting strong period pains every now and then.

But having said that, and having gone through my notes to see how quickly everything went, I'm really pleased. Exhausted, but pleased. And on that note, my little girl is calling and so is my bed.

hello again

Hoo boy, these contractions are getting much more uncomfy. It feels like trapped wind (gas) - rather sharp, but all concentrated low down. I'm guessing these contractions are helping me dilate/efface and that's why I'm feeling everything very low. Still coming every 5 mins or so, but I'm now feeling more pressure with each one. I've just had a bloody show too, so this is all good. Feeling pretty nauseous at the moment, which isn't filling me with joy. I've got tea, toast, and Ranitidine in my system so hopefully that'll keep my stomach happy. What I'm not feeling (so far) is intense back pain - fingers crossed. My lower back does ache, but the wheaty microwavy pack thingy is working well.

I'm tired, though. I don't know if it's possible to rest, but I think I need to try.

what's happenin'

Still having contractions 5 mins apart, but they're getting stronger. I can breathe through them fairly easily and talk through them (sort of). I'm eating and drinking while I've still got the stomach for it, and just chilling as much as possible.

Jack is adorable - he's been up since 5 (Mia cried out and woke him up) and he's so excited. Paul inflated the pool and Jack "helped" by tidying up his toys. He was talking about the baby and speculating about when he (Jack keeps referring to the baby as a "he" now) will appear. He's been taking photos with his camera, so at least this time I'll have pictures of me in early labour! I am determined to get more photos this time, for sure.

Whoa, they're getting stronger. Better tell Paul to fill the pool, even if just part way. There ain't no way I'm getting in that thing fully dilated when it's still filling, I can tell you that right now.

something...maybe? or gas

It's 3:56am and I'm downstairs with a microwaved lavender pack thingy on my back and feeling crampy. Nothing too dramatic and even though I'm timing the pains (Contraction Master now has an application for the iPhone and Touch, whee!), they're not really distinct enough to call contractions. I can feel them start, but no clear finish; the cramping lingers and fades away very, very gradually to a dull, period pain type thing. I did manage to get a couple of hours of sleep upstairs, but the cramping kept waking me up. I felt a strong need to come down here so I could get myself comfy without disturbing Paul.

Junior Mint is wriggling a bit and when I was upstairs, I thought I could feel (almost wrote "him" here - hmmm) the baby poking me out the front with little limbs. Which would be bad because that would mean s/he's posterior. I'm attempting to do a pelvic floor release move to help ensure the baby gets into a good position (not precisely at this moment. I'm not that talented.) I'm going to get on my ball and do the hula in a moment.

Well okay, in the time it's taken me to type this, I'm getting more "proper" contractions. More like strong Braxton Hicks (tightenings) in the bottom part of my bump.

Rock on! Let's get this show on the road!

Tuesday 7 July 2009


Oh my gods, I'm so fed up right now. I'm feeling that irrational irritability that you only get during hormonal times in your life, like the week before your period when you want to throttle old people at Tesco for abandoning their trolleys right in front of you as you try to get past. Well, except that's every trip to Tesco for me. But you get what I mean.

I've been feeling shitty for most of the day, but a short nap this evening and a delicious supper made by Paul really put me in good spirits. And then the good spirits buggered off and left me feeling shitty again. So right now, I'm sitting here thinking about how annoyed I am that I'm having no signs of labour whatsoever and feeling incredibly wound up. I'm tired, but don't want to go to bed. Argh. Just argh. I'm barely "overdue", so why am I so pissed off?

My reflexology lady is at the complimentary health centre tomorrow; maybe I'll see if I can book a relaxing session with her. I just feel so stressed right now, and I hate it. I was feeling zen and chilled up until today, but now every muscle in my body is tense. Not even baked good are helping. That's bad.

Hopefully, I'll have something more pleasant to talk about tomorrow...or the banana bread will have finally kicked in.


So not only is it a full moon tody, but it's a penumbral lunar eclipse. Whatever the hell that means. I'm hoping it means "the time at which babies are born with ease and peacefulness, particularly if you live in Godmanchester, UK".

*mutter grumble*

I just can't shut my brain off at night lately. I'm exhausted, but I lie there and my brain goes whirrrr whirrr whirrrrrrrrr for ages and won't let me sleep, like I've had too many double espressos. So last night, I couldn't fall asleep until past midnight and was woken at 5am by Mia shouting "DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAADDYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!" over and over. I'm in such a pissy mood today, it's a good thing I'm alone. Well, alone with the dog - but don't worry, I won't take out my foul mood on him. I'm incredibly nauseous, still a little crampy, and everything hurts.

This baby better be popping out soon, or I'm gonna go postal.

Monday 6 July 2009

splutter fizzle pfffttt

I've been having more Braxton Hicks contractions today than usual, and this evening, they got crampier and were accompanied by lower back pain. And then they fizzled out. Whoopdidoo. I'm still having some very, very small twinges at the moment but nothing more than mild period pains with a little backache. I do think that things are gearing up, though. This is definitely different to the usual Braxton Hicks and I just get the sense that this is the beginning - but the very early stages with quite a way to go. It's just nice to feel something happening, whatever this something is.

I've been absolutely ravenous today, and I take that as a sign that my body wants me to store up energy and feed it well. Apparently this meant a large amount of Kettle Chips with hummous this afternoon. What, it's protein?! Oh shush, don't look at me like that.

For now, I'm going to try and get some sleep and relax as much as possible. If anything exciting happens, I'll be sure to update here.

full moons and full bellies

So, these may quite possibly be the last belly shots. Taken by Paul yesterday, on my due date:

Speaking of due dates, the date Jane came up with is actually the 7th. I'm not sure why her spinning wheel thingy differs to online due date predictors I found (both based on ovulation date), but I could say that I'm not yet due. It is a full moon tomorrow, so you just never know. Jack informed me this morning that I would have the baby "in two sleeps", and then advised me to "Take care of the baby, mummy" as he left for nursery. On Saturday, Mia put her mouth right up to my bare belly and shouted, "BABY OUT NOW!" I'm sure all of this coaxing will help somehow.

Sunday 5 July 2009


Well, here we are. It's my due date! Isn't it exciting? Yeah, it's not really been that thrilling for me, either. Only 3% of women give birth on their due date, and yet I've found myself having to tell umpteen people that no, I haven't pushed Junior Mint out yet. Actually, I've been doing this since BEFORE my due date and it's getting a little tiring. If I go quiet on Facebook for a few hours, the flurries of messages come in. But then, to be honest and little less grumpy about it, it's nice that people care and are excited about the baby coming. I think I'd rather get the messages than have no one be interested.

So no, no signs of baby yet but I'm not all that surprised. I really didn't want to go into labour this weekend and take Jane away from her family business, as I mentioned in my last post. Now that she's back, I feel much more relaxed about it and this may get things going. On the other hand, apparently third babies are very unpredictable. I've heard that they're slow to get going but once labour kicks off, it's all very quick. My personal opinion is that every birth is different, so I'm no more enlightened about how this one will go as I was when I was pregnant with Jack.

The good news is, I feel ready. I'm happy, I'm relaxed, I'm looking forward to meeting the baby. I'm also quite happy to have another few days to myself. I dunno. I'm thinking Tuesday. Monday to chill and Tuesday to have a baby. Yeah, that would work.

Friday 3 July 2009


Here's my daily update, but it's not very exciting. Same old, same old. No signs of labour but hey, I'm not even due yet. I forgot to mention that my midwife will be out of town from tomorrow morning until Sunday late afternoon. She'll still be within reasonable distance (2 hours vs. 1 normally) but she's attending a personal family-related ceremony and I truly don't want her to have to leave it to be here. So, I'm hoping that nothing happens until late Sunday night at the very earliest.

I oscillate between excitement and "Why the hell am I doing THIS again?!" on an almost hourly basis. I'm really excited about meeting the baby and finding out if it's a Junior Mint or a Junior Mintella. I'm actually pretty geared up to go into labour and being somewhat competitive with myself, I want to do it "right" this time and try not to scream the entire neighbourhood down. But then when I get a slightly more intense Braxton Hicks contraction, my first thought is "Oh, no." There are some worries in the back of my head, and I think this is the reason for my slight anxiety.

First and foremost, I do NOT want back labour again. No thank you. Tried it, didn't like it. Didn't even get a t-shirt afterwards. The baby is currently sitting with his/her back to my left, but facing a little more forward that towards my back. This worries me. I'm doing all I can to ensure good fetal positioning, but I can't help but wonder if this one's going to spin posterior as well. Second, I'm worried about the kids when I'm in labour/giving birth. Ideally, they'll sleep through the whole thing or be at nursery, but obviously there's no guarantee. I'm hoping that it won't involve a late night handover to one of our friends, or that it'll all kick off while they're having their Cheerios and watching TV on a weekend morning. Very thankfully, we have several friends who have offered to have the kids anytime day or night. This is a huge reassurance and I'm so grateful for their kindness. So we are covered in many ways, but I still worry about it. Third, the pain. Boy oh boy, did I not cope well last time. You'd think that having been there before you'd be less afraid of the pain, but because I do remember what it was like, I'm freaking out a bit about it. But having said that, I must keep in mind that a) it was back labour (did I mention that back labour SUCKS ASS?) and b) I was in a panic because my midwife couldn't attend and I was waiting for one I'd never met...who only arrived an hour before Mia did.

I can cope. I can do this. I did it before. I still vividly remember the incredibly wonderful feeling of Mia being born and the extreme elation the moment she came out. Kissing her tiny little grumpy face and holding her close to me in the water. I have the photo of her just newly born on our bedroom wall; maybe I should put it by the pool to inspire me. The photo, a big piece of brie, and a painting of a soft egg. Ah yes, that should do it.

Thursday 2 July 2009

my feet are deflating

So, I had a reflexology session yesterday with a lady called Caroline that I see at the complimentary health centre, and a bonus session at home courtesy of my good friend Caroline today. So that's two Carolines who have massaged my uterine point in the past two days. Woohoo! That's gotta do something! It's just so nice to have my feet feeling and looking somewhat normal at the moment, and reflexology always makes me feel super chilled afterwards. Very, very nice.

My midwife appointment today went well. Everything's fine with me and Junior Mint, s/he's a little more engaged than last week but still has a lot of wriggle room, and Jane thinks s/he'll be around the same weight as Mia. So now I'm thinking girl. So much for mother's intuition; I have none. These past few weeks seem to be following the same pattern as my pregnancy with Mia (a couple of weeks of feeling hideous, followed by a week of feeling energetic and relaxed), so I'm thinking that birth day may be coming next week. But I'm in no rush, despite the awful heat and my inability to waddle more than a few feet at a time. I'm still enjoying the quiet days alone, the chance for an afternoon nap, and the feeling of my last baby rolling around in my belly. I do feel ready for the birth, just not in a mad rush to get there.

My current prediction is that things will start to kick off over the weekend and baby will arrive at some point next week. We shall see!

Tuesday 30 June 2009

sweaty betty

Hooooooooooooooo it's hot! Hot hot hot! In England! Who would have thought. Although I can't say I'm thrilled about the temperature because I've got a little furnace living in my belly right now, I am really pleased to see the sun shining every day. It's really filled me with energy; it's fantastic.

As you all know, I'm going for my second home birth/VBAC. I think I explained this before when I was pregnant with Mia, but it's worth repeating for those newer to my blog. I used to think that people who birthed at home were very, very brave and a little bit nuts. Because really, why would you want to be so far away from a building full of doctors and pain-relieving drugs? When I was pregnant with Jack, I wanted to have a birth that was as natural as possible in a hospital setting, and would go for the epidural if necessary. Ideally, I wanted to try a water birth and labour med-free. This isn't how things turned out and because of the experience, I knew that I just didn't feel comfortable in a hospital setting and would much rather be at home, surrounded by the familiar.

I know that this option is still fairly unconventional and not for everyone, but what I want to stress is that I'm not at all anti-hospital, or think that you can't have a good birth experience with the NHS. What's important to me is that a woman gives birth how and where she feels safest, based on an informed decision. I do hope, that in some way, my birth stories can help someone feel a little more confident and more able to say no if something doesn't feel right. After a bad birth experience, you lose a lot of faith in your body and your confidence plummets. What I learned is that our bodies sometimes just know what to do and that birth can be an instinctive, natural, empowering event. I amazed myself when I had Mia, truly.

But this isn't all about praising myself for having had a successful VBAC. What I am praising is how good it feels to have been in control, to have done what I felt was best and end up happy with the outcome. So that is really what I wish for all mothers - however and wherever those babies are born.

Monday 29 June 2009

penguin lady, coming through

From this morning, me in my bloated glory:

You know it's bad when your friend says to you, "Wow! Your feet are so swollen!" when they are ten times better than they were over the weekend. Awful...I'm having such a hard time bending at the ankle and they feel so tight. I had weird lumpy bumps on my shins last night and if I had my leg against something or had something on it, it left a rather massive dent. Mmmm nice. It's all down to the heat and humidity lately, and there's no break in sight - this week is supposed to be a scorcher.

If you need me, I'll be in Mia's paddling pool in the back garden.

Saturday 27 June 2009

the end is nigh

Had a lot of contractions last night, that were crampier than usual (of the "am I having contractions or did I eat something dodgy?" variety.) All I kept thinking of was my mother-in-law telling me that she thought the same thing the night she had Paul, and out he popped just a few hours later. Paul asked if he should get the pool ready, but the discomfort was pretty mild and I didn't think anything was going to happen soon. As it happened, they did fizzle out by the time I went to bed although I had a few more through the night that woke me up. Since waking this morning, I've had more similar cramping off and on. I had a little burst of energy (and I do mean little) yesterday, and I tidied Jack and Mia's room and the kitchen, and did some cooking. Been feeling a bit more energetic today as well, but I haven't accomplished anything. I just get a feeling that things are starting. I have no idea if the birth will be soon, but I have a strong sense that my body's gearing up. The next sign, if Mia's birth is anything to go by, will be getting upset at thoroughly irrational things and feeling hugely fed up with the world in general. Stay tuned.

Just read a mind-boggling message on the World's Most Annoying Pregnancy and Mothering site (why do I still go there? I must be a masochist.) A fellow July mum-to-be now has an induction scheduled because her ankles are swollen. Her doctor doesn't want her to "develop pre-eclampsia at the last minute". Yup. Because her ankles are swollen. Doesn't have high blood pressure, protein in the urine, or any other symptoms that should be of concern, just fat ankles. Do some OBs not need to attend medical school at some point? I do despair.

Friday 26 June 2009


ThinkParents has very kindly sent copies of two films for us to review: "Bedtime Stories" and "Bolt", both by Disney and now featuring a duo DVD/Blu-Ray pack. Why you need to purchase both, is beyond me. Why you'd want a Disney film like these two on Blu-Ray is also beyond me (although I can understand its merit for restored classic Disney films.) We don't have a Blu-Ray player - yet - so I can only comment on the regular DVD versions of both films.

"Bedtime Stories" had so much potential; the charm and humour of Adam Sandler mixed in with an inventive storyline, and a little Russell Brand thrown into the mix. Sadly, the film just didn't deliver. Yes, I did chuckle a little at some of Brand's scenes, but otherwise the humour was thin and the script was heavily cliched. Jack sat and watched most of it, but lost interest by the end. His favourite bit was the hamster (you'll see a similar theme when I discuss "Bolt"), but I don't feel like he was particularly captivated by this film. It could be that it's a bit "advanced" for a 4-year-old or it simply lacked the action and visuals of, for example, a Pixar film. The true test of a film's success in this house is whether or not it gets requested again (and again and again) by Jack. So far, we've just seen it the once.

"Bolt" is fast-paced, well animated, and cleverly written with a creative plot to boot. There is enough humour to keep parents and children happy, and enough action to keep kids interested. We've seen this one many times now, which goes to show how much Jack enjoys it - particularly the hamster. I wouldn't put it in the award-winning category of a film like "Wall-E", but it's one we don't mind having on repeat.

Thursday 25 June 2009

feelin' groovy

What a difference a good night's sleep can make - I feel a million dollars today. Yesterday evening, I realised with great joy that I no longer felt like throwing up and didn't have hideous heartburn. Whoop! I not only had a nap in the afternoon, I fell asleep shortly after 10 that night, and only woke once for a loo break before getting up for the day at 8:30. Today, I can eat normally (although still not massive quantities or anything too spicy or exciting) and I'm not nauseous or plagued with reflux. It's just so damn good to feel human today, and the weather is absolutely glorious. I'm ready to give birth now.

Maybe it has to do with finally taking care of loose ends yesterday. I packed a bag for me and the baby just in case we need to transfer to hospital, and gathered together a few bits and bobs for labour and brought them downstairs. I did realise that I'd completely overlooked a few essentials, however - like muslins (burp cloths). What the hell did I do with the bazillion muslins I had for Mia? Did I give them away? Why on earth would I give some poor soul a bunch of used muslins? Anyway, a quick trip to Mothercare should sort that out. Otherwise, I'm all set. I just need the baby to come out now, preferably while our children are asleep or in nursery.

Had a great midwife appointment today. Everything is absolutely fine and baby has just started to engage. Jane did a belly cast on me, and it turned out really well. It was so relaxing to have plaster slathered on me, as weird as that sounds. It is slightly alarming to see the enormous girth of my belly in the form of a cast, though. I'm huge! You people were right! I'd like the kids to help decorate it, maybe get them to do hand prints and Jack can draw a little picture. Not quite sure how else to decorate it, so I'll need to think about that one. I'm going to hang it in Mia's room, as that's where the baby will go eventually. I'm glad I did it - this is my final pregnancy (no, really) and I think it's a lovely way to remember it.

Well. Roll on, labour.

Wednesday 24 June 2009

(Early) Canada Day BBQ

On Saturday, we had an early Canada Day BBQ with around 50 adults and kids in attendance. Yes, we're mad. Thankfully, my superduper fantastic in-laws were here to help. They did so much, it was amazing. We all had a brilliant time and Caroline made her best beaver pinata yet! The gods of good weather smiled on us (although they did piddle a little on us at one point) and Paul made absolutely delicious food. He did ribs and pulled chicken on the smoker, and grilled sausages, burgers, and spicy lamb kebabs. He followed my Super Secret Homemade BBQ Sauce recipe (okay, not that secret - it's in my recipe binder) and made a gorgeous sauce for the ribs and chicken. The annoying thing about being hugely pregnant is the fact that baby takes up all your valuable stomach space, making pigging out impossible. I managed a burger and kebab, with a little salad. I had to eat in installments, so I was able to sample a rib and one sausage with supper. As usual, we bought far too much food and now have a freezerful of uncooked sausages and burgers, and a year's supply of bread rolls.

I decided to make a cake for Mia's birthday along with some cupcakes. The cake went very well, thanks to Nigella's failsafe Victoria sponge recipe and huge globs of fresh cream, strawberries, and good quality strawberry jam. The cupcakes, on the other hand, went very badly. They tasted fine, but a decorator I am not. I painstakingly cut out a bazillion icing daisies the night before and put them on plates overnight, only to discover in the morning that most of them stuck. When I tried to remove them, they crumbled. I swore. A lot. I salvaged enough to decorate sparingly, armed with the knowledge that greaseproof paper will be my friend next time. I also didn't realise that I should lop off the tops of any cakes that went pointy in the oven, making them nice and level for icing. Argh...just argh. Here's a photo that makes it all look much better than reality.

(Early) Canada Day BBQ

The rest of the day's photos can be seen here.

Monday 22 June 2009

ah, it must be that time

I'm so glad that I've kept a blog documenting my past pregnancies because it's reassuring to know that what I'm feeling right now is typical for me. That is to say, I'm going through the "Exhausted, Achey, Heartburny, Feeling Like Shit" phase that always seems to hit me two weeks before my due date. Last night, I had such bad heartburn that 300mg of Ranitidine didn't touch it and it was awful even when I was sitting upright. I stayed up late, catching up on recorded episodes of Big Brother (which I did at this same point when I was pregnant with Mia) and fought the nausea until the wee hours. This morning, I burst into tears from exhaustion and frustration. Jack said "Why are you sad, Mummy?" and Mia toddled over and said "What happen, Mummy?" and they both gave me a cuddle. You just can't feel shitty when you're being cuddled, really. I've been off work for three weeks now, the first two were spent suffering with a hideous cold and the third taking care of my little girl as she endured a tummy bug. I'm tired and haven't really had a day feeling good and relaxed. It's just catching up with me.

In happier news, we did a trial run of the pool and I'm pleased to have finally gone through it to make sure everything's okay.

Birth Pool "Rehearsal"

Jack enjoyed it:

Birth Pool "Rehearsal"

And Mia got ready for a dip:

Birth Pool "Rehearsal"

but ended up going for a nap instead. The pool is the same make as the one I borrowed from Caroline last time (Birth Pool in a Box), but this is the larger version and I really love it. It feels very roomy and slightly less claustrophobic than the mini, and it has a seat! You know, for those moments when you just want to sit back and have a margarita while you're in labour. It really is fantastic and only takes about 15 minutes longer to fill (about an hour in total.) So, it's a relief to have this done and dusted and know that we're all set for the birth now. Um...still need to pack a hospital bag just in case, though. Never did get around to it for Mia, but I don't want to push my luck this time. I felt like it would "jinx" me somehow, but if we do end up transferring this time I want to know that everything is there for Paul to grab.

Off to see if I've got sushi ingredients because as I said when I was pregnant with Mia, sushi always makes me feel better. Plus, I've got ice cream in the freezer. I think I'm all set now.

Friday 19 June 2009

Wearing mummy's shoes

Two years ago today, in the early hours of the morning, my baby girl was born. I pulled her up to the surface of the water, examined her squished little head and kissed her face a million times. She was so tiny! The newborn sleepsuits were too big; I'd have to go to Mothercare and get some "early baby" ones. We snuggled on the sofa, ate breakfast cooked by Paul, and listened to the birds as the sun started to come up. It was a beautiful day, and she slept peacefully in my arms.

Today, Mia and I are cuddling on the sofa while she sleeps in my arms. A little bigger now (but still a size smaller than her age) and getting over a nasty tummy bug. The sun is shining, the house is silent except for the chirping of the birds, and Paul made my breakfast this morning.

Happy 2nd birthday, my beautiful Mimi. My heart aches seeing you so sick, but in a way it's incredibly sweet to have a cuddly tiny girl again for the time being. Get better, bunny. I love you with all my heart.

Wednesday 17 June 2009


Yes, still here and still keeping everything firmly clenched until at least Sunday. Saw Jane today and all is well: blood pressure and wee both fine, baby still has its back to my left and still head down (but not engaged, hallelujah), measuring on time, and she estimates (with the caveat that palpitation is very vague at best) that the baby weighs around 7lbs at the moment. So now I think boy because Mia was only 6 1/2 lbs at birth but Jack was close to 8. Meh, who knows.

We had a really good chat about my labour/birth anxieties and went through some breathing and visualisation techniques. I've been feeling quite stressed about going into labour; memories of the negative aspects of Mia's birth have been coming back to me in flashes. Talking through it all with Jane helped enormously. I realised that much of what made my last labour so intense was the sense of panic (because my midwife was attending another birth and I had to wait for someone I'd never met), fear (never having laboured before), and the shock that labour was not at all like those fecking books said it would be like. Contractions don't always "ebb and flow", you lying bastards! But in all seriousness, I didn't realise that sometimes you don't get much of a break between contractions (particularly with back labour) and if you start fighting each one in a state of panic, it makes the pain much worse. I need to focus on the positive this time, and find a way to keep more control. I like having a strategy in place; it's making me feel more confident.

Still having a ton of Braxton Hicks, probably more so lately because I had a physically tough day yesterday taking care of poorly Mia. She's got a stomach bug (and good god, do I not want that) and I spent every 1/2 hr cleaning up, changing her, changing myself, and taking her up and down the stairs all day. She's much better today, thankfully. It's so very sad to see her unwell, especially when she keeps reminding me in a very tiny voice, "I'm poorly." My poor cuddlebunny.

And finally, despite having a rather spicy and utterly delicious meal at Cocum in Cambridge on Monday night, I didn't go into labour. Go me!

Friday 12 June 2009


I've been having contractions since last night. Nothing to worry about, but enough to make me shake my finger at my belly and say "You stay in there until at least next Sunday!!" I've had a lot of Braxton Hicks this pregnancy full stop, but last night they were sort of crampier than the usual tightenings. Enough to prevent me from going to bed at a decent time and to keep waking me through the night. I've had a few more off and on today, but they're not getting more intense or frequent. I suppose these probably are Braxton Hicks that are more uncomfy this time around, what with everything being heavier and saggier these days. Anyway, I need to hold out until at least Tuesday when Jane is bringing a new liner for the pool and the TENS machine. Friday is Mia's birthday and Saturday is our early Canada Day BBQ. I don't think guests are really going to want to eat sausages and burgers while I give birth in the pool next to them.

Erm. Maybe curry on Monday night is a bad idea. Remind me to order something mild, girls!

Thursday 11 June 2009

we shall have a fishy on a little dishy

The sun has reappeared today, and with it, a much better day for this mama. I'm still coughing quite a lot, but not nearly as much as before. I had reflexology yesterday afternoon and she did warn me that I might cough more initially (as my chest clears) and boy...was she right. But after a couple of small bouts of coughing through the night, I've been pretty good today. Thanks to my midwife, I have a top tip for coughing when you've pulled a muscle in your bump: either sit up and curl yourself up as much as you can, or if you're lying down, bring your knees up to your chest before coughing (or curl up on your side, which is what I did last night.) Works a treat!

Speaking of my midwife, I forgot to mention my thoroughly uneventful appointment on Tuesday. Despite feeling like hell and worrying about my blood pressure (I'm swelling a bit now and my wedding rings have come off, and I've had some killer headaches), all was absolutely fine. Jane thinks my bump has dropped since last time, but baby isn't engaged yet (not surprising) and still has lots of wriggle room. She dropped off the pool and we talked about what would happen should I go into labour from this point onwards. She is happy to support me for a home birth at this point - I've been having irrational fears of going into labour early - so it's good to know that I'm now in the home stretch without having to worry about whether or not I can stay at home.

I had a lovely, civilised lunch with my friend Susan today at a local pub (Brampton Mill.) Service was polite but excruciatingly slow. It wasn't too much of a problem as we weren't in a rush, but it wasn't busy enough or understaffed to warrant such slow service. I'm slightly more forgiving about things like this if the food is good and thankfully, the food was very good. I had fish and chips (surprisingly light and crispy batter), with a banoffee cheesecake and latte for dessert. Helloooooo carb city! I'm gonna have sausages for fingers and toes tonight, hoo yeah. The pub itself has been very nicely refurbished, with a lovely view of the river behind. The menu is quite varied (not overwhelmingly so), but if you're looking for sandwiches and jacket potatoes, you'll need to go elsewhere. I would go back because the food was nice, but not if I'm in a rush.

And now, I have a very important decision to make: take a nap or sit out in the sunny garden? Ah, I lead such a tough life.

Monday 8 June 2009


Here I am, at 36 weeks:

I hasten to add, I don't normally wear leggings and tight tops either around the house or outdoors. It's what I'm wearing under a pinafore dress today, which I removed to get a good bump shot. So yes, 36 weeks as of more week to full term. Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.

Still feeling pretty dreadful but not quite as hideous today. I slept from 11pm to 6am without waking up to cough up a lung every hour. Go me! I do think this cold is subsiding, which is great news. I'm so tired, but so grateful that I've got the days to myself to rest.

Blue Belt Boy In other news, my wonderful boy got his blue belt yesterday after passing his karate grading. Sadly, I couldn't attend the grading because I was feeling so ill, but Paul said that Jack did very well. I'm so proud of him! He asked Paul for a snack afterwards and Paul told him that he'd have to change out of his uniform and brand new blue belt before eating. After careful consideration, Jack decided that he'd forgo the snack and keep the cool uniform on for a little while longer. Mia admired Jack's new belt and seemed very pleased at his achievement. Either that, or she was just mimicking us and likes the colour blue.

Mia's been talking up a storm lately, it's amazing. She's trying so very hard to speak in detailed sentences, telling us elaborate tales of nursery events and Jasper's adventures in the kitchen. The stories come out two words at a time, with hand gestures and pauses as she tries to think of more words. Whenever I take off her nappy, she dances around saying "I naked! I naked!" and if I hurt myself, she says "What happen, Mummy?" with a look of deep concern. When I tell her what I've done (it's usually something involving my belly and painful ligaments), she'll say "Oh dear" and rub the affected area better. She can count to 10, sings songs, and wants to know what everything's called. Everything. Often seconds after you've just told her what something is, she'll ask several more times "What's that?" It's like she's saying "Tell me that word again because either I wasn't listening to your answer or I'm a bit skeptical about the accuracy of your response." She's growing up so fast; she's even doing poos on the toilet (and asking to use it beforehand.) She's been doing this for a while now and although I'm not jumping ahead to get her toilet trained at the moment, I'm really pleased that she's shown an interest.

Jack is also growing up at an alarming rate, and I know that I'll be one of those lunatic mothers crying at the gates when he starts "big school" in September. I love our conversations, which are usually fairly elaborate if not a little surreal. He doesn't have dreams, he has "adventures." So first thing each morning, we're informed about his adventures from the night before (usually involving friends from nursery or Ben10.) He's so tolerant of his little sister, who has recently become what they call "A Handful". He shares his toys (whether that was his original plan or not), puts up with her climbing all over him, and still loves giving her kisses and cuddles.

He's decided that he's going to help daddy fill the pool when the baby comes, and we've been having lots of chats about things that may happen when mummy's in labour. I've really been trying to reassure him about any noises I might make, as I was rather screamy when I had Mia and I don't want him to be frightened. I explained that I might make a lot of noise when the baby comes and Jack asked why. "Erm...because having a baby is very hard work and sometimes you need to make noise to help the baby come out," I explained. "It's sort of like having a very big poo. You know how you sometimes have to make a noise when you poo?" At which point, both children got into a squatting stance with clenched fists, made loud grunting noises while squeezing their eyes shut, then laughed hysterically. Maybe they won't be so frightened by the birth, after all.

Thursday 4 June 2009


I have so many things to complain about, I don't even know where to begin. I seem to recall that I went through a similar "Everything Hurts and I Feel Shitty" phase when I was pregnant with Jack and Mia as well, so I'm sure it'll all get better in time. But for now, I'm getting progressively more pissed off by the day at a sinus/chest cold that won't go away (and because of it, I haven't been able to taste anything since last Saturday) and pelvic/back pain. I don't think it's SPD because it's not constant and my mobility isn't as limited as it probably would be with SPD, but hurts. It's at its worst in the first part of the day and at the end of the day. When I stand, I get a sharp pain in the front of my pelvis and I'm also getting a lot of lower backache. And this cold...oh, this godforsaken cold. My head feels like it's going to explode and non-stop coughing when you've got sore, stretchy ligaments SUCKS.

Moan, moan, whine, whine.

The pain I can deal with because I've got a whole lot of nothing on the calendar most days, so I can spend the day on the sofa. The cold and not being able to taste anything is diabolical. Eating has become a miserable experience; I'm just eating to fill my stomach, but I have no appetite. I'm not eating as much as usual, which means the heartburn is all cranky now. Ranitidine is helping a little, but I constantly feel the reflux sitting in my chest. What is the point of having delicious things in my fridge and cupboards when I can't taste anything?! So very vexed.

But anyway, on the plus side, the sun is shining and I have the day to myself. Oh and I can breathe through one nostril at the moment. Happy days.

Tuesday 2 June 2009


Sweet merciful crap, I'm going to have a baby in another month or so. I'm a bit sad that it's all going by so quickly, especially when I've got the urge to purchase summery maternity wear. It's been so lovely and warm lately, and I'm sweltering hot in my jeans. I need skirts and shorts or something. But there is no point whatsoever in buying clothing if I'm only going to wear it for another few weeks. Right? RIGHT? Oh, someone take my Internet access and debit card away from me!

Had a midwife appointment today with my "backup midwife" Valerie as Jane is on holiday this week. I met Valerie when I was pregnant with Mia, and it was lovely to see her again. Nothing eventful to report from my appointment, which is good news. Everything is as it should be, baby's heartbeat chugging away at 135-150. I've recently had a strong feeling that this baby is a girl. I know, I know, I've been saying boy up until now, but for some reason I'm getting girl vibes. When I think of our boy name, I like it, but don't love it. I really love our girl name. That's usually the tip-off. But then I dunno...I can envision Mia with two brothers by her side. I say it will go 50-50 either way.

So as I said, it's been gorgeous and sunny here lately which has meant it's summer food season in the Durbin household. Paul's been grilling up a storm on the BBQ, cooking us fantastic burgers, sausages, spatchcock chicken, butterflied leg of lamb, steaks, and grilled veggies for salads. He did some ribs on the smoker on Saturday that were to die for. I can't get enough of grilled courgette salad: sliced very thinly on the mandolin, grilled, then tossed with extra virgin olive oil, chopped fresh mint and red chilli, season, and add a squeeze of lemon juice (and sometimes sprinkled with goat's cheese) while still warm. I did a grilled corn salad the other day that was delicious: either grill corn still in the husk until browned or boil 4 husked corn cobs for 3 minutes and then put on the grill to slightly brown on all sides, cut the corn from the cob and toss with grilled peppers (both regular peppers and chilli), chopped spring onion, fresh lime juice, chopped coriander, olive oil, and season. Both salads are still delicious the next day or even the day after. It's all been about grilled meats and fish with grilled vegetable things around here lately. If only I could wash it all down with a jug of Pimms.

And now, I'm off to sit in the garden and stick my feet in the kids' paddling pool. Ah, summer.

Sunday 31 May 2009

biggus bumpus

On the left, 35 weeks with Junior Mint. On the right, 34 weeks with Mia.
Photobucket Photobucket

Thursday 28 May 2009

hi ho, hi ho, it's off on leave i go

Just a few hours ago, I finished my last "day" of work. *dances* Oh my, I am so very happy. Everything hurts right now and I've got a hideous cold (just for shits and giggles), so going into the office has been a real chore lately. I'm having a lot of problems standing and walking without feeling sharp pains in the front of my pelvis, and this cold is making every muscle hurt right now. I'm having problems sleeping because of all of this, plus I'm experiencing that "I've just had 10 shots of espresso" feeling at nighttime that I get every pregnancy at some point. Welcome to Afternoon Napville, population: ME.

It's all a little surreal, though. I always feel like I'm just on holiday for the first week or so of maternity leave and find it difficult to switch gears so quickly. And the thought of giving birth in another 5 weeks or so...gads. Time has truly flown. I still find it very difficult to equate this wriggling baby bump with an actual newborn baby, and am somewhat in denial about the whole baby coming out of my belly thing. I'm still looking forward to labour and birth, but I cannot get my head around having another little baby in our family. I know I went through this when I was pregnant with Mia too, though. You get so used to life a certain way that it becomes difficult to imagine anything else. But of course, it all becomes very natural and you can't remember what life was like before.

And now, I nap. Nite nite.

Tuesday 19 May 2009

bits n' bobs

Had a midwife appointment today with the lovely Jane. I've been feeling pretty rough lately (exhausted, nauseous, dizzy, headachey, and generally very, very crappy) so I'm glad I saw her today. My blood pressure was higher than usual, but not high (120/78, normally 120/70). I had a small trace of glucose in my wee sample today, but she thinks her peesticks are at fault because they might be a little out of date. She's not worried about it at the moment, and will test me again in a week. She took some blood to check iron levels, so I'll get the results tomorrow. In the meantime, I'm taking Floridex to see if that helps with my energy levels (or complete lack of.)

Baby is fine, head down with his/her back to my left side, I'm measuring 2 weeks behind (so pffffffffttttttt to the people who keep commenting about how huge I am!), and the heart rate was 130-136.

Still feeling pretty crappy at the moment, but I'm just about to take a nap. I'm not in the office today, I hasten to add. Mia had a rotten night last night, which I'm sure isn't helping. It was kind of cute - she kept waking up crying and going "Cuddle! Cuddle!" Well, cute up until the 10th time she did it in the span of an hour. Thankfully, I have a wonderful husband who spent the night in the bed next to her cot so that we could all get a little sleep.

Speaking of which, night night.

Baby Shower

On (North American) Mother's Day, my very lovely girly friends threw a baby shower for me at Caroline's house. It was an absolutely gorgeous day, filled with sunshine and lots and lots of chocolate! The theme was chocolate and mint (for Junior Mint - get it? No? Oh come on!) and all the guests were asked to bring food containing one or both ingredients. Most people went the sweet route and my god...I was in sugar heaven! Chocolate mint cake, mint Bailey's cheesecake, minty-iced cupcakes, brownies, and more minty chocolates than you could shake a stick at. YUM. We also had kebabs with minty sauce, minty pasta salads, and a chickpea and mint salad just to balance out all the sugar. We had chocolate-scented candles, chocolate face masks, peppermint foot spray, and minty green nail polish.

I was so surprised and touched to receive gifts - they just aren't the "done thing" here before baby arrives. I know how weird it must have been for people to buy things for the baby (and how difficult because we're not finding out the sex this time until the birth.) The girls bought a load of adorable clothes, little toys, and a custom made Junior Mint sleepsuit (see photo)!

Caroline got a friend of hers to do Indian head massages and Hopi ear candle therapy (don't ask - I'm still not sure what this involves, but I have images of my friends with birthday candles melting away in their ears.) The massage was heavenly! It was a chilled, fun, sunshiney day. I cannot thank my friends enough.

The day before, Paul and I went up to Peterborough for a 3D scan. It was AMAZING! I was worried that we'd see an accidental willy/hooha shot, but because the baby was quite big at that point (32 weeks), the sonographer just had to stay focussed on the face to avoid giving the gender away. For the first few minutes, Junior Mint hid his/her face hidden behind the arms completely. The stinker. I had to roll over onto my side and jiggle my belly around (not pretty) to coax the arms away. Finally, we saw the little button nose and chubby cheeks and got some amazing shots:


We're still thinking boy, although the smiley photo really reminds me of Mia.

Tuesday 12 May 2009

excessive consumption of whine

First, let me just say that the baby in my pregnancy ticker at the top of this page is mooning us. It must be a boy.

You know how people say that everything happens sooner the more babies you have? It's true. I've now reached the stage where everything annoys me to no end. I expect I'll soon enter the "Muttering to Myself in an Annoyed Fashion Over Things Like the Dishwasher Being Loaded Incorrectly" phase.

These things annoy me:
-people saying how huge I am/gasping in horror when I say I still have two months to go/asking if I was "this big" with Jack and Mia. Stop it. Stop it now.
-being hungry ALL THE TIME. And not having what I want to eat readily available.
-waking up every hour to roll myself over because whatever side I'm lying on has gone numb and/or is painful.
-being at work.
-having arms like a t-rex and not being able to reach anything because my belly's in the way.
-my bellybutton is starting to turn into an outy. That's never happened before. I don't like it; it creeps me out.
-constant Braxton Hicks.
-stupid posts written by stupid people on pregnancy web sites.

I'm starting to freak out a little about having three children, too. Mostly the logistics of it. I'm going to have to do the school run starting in September because Paul will not be able to leave work early enough, and I may have to do this with two other children in tow. The current plan is to greatly reduce Mia's hours at nursery after we're settled into life with a newborn, so I'll likely have her and the baby with me when I go get Jack. That's a lot of child juggling. Thankfully, the school is just a short walk up the road so it's not really that difficult to do...but then it's the thought of having all three kids, on my own, for a few hours a day before Paul gets home. Where am I going to find the energy? I'm old. I don't have much left to give.

But otherwise, everything's peachy, thanks. I'm still feeling a zen-like calm about the birth, and counting the days to maternity leave (8 1/2 more working days.) In the meantime, I just need to chill. And eat an entire cheesecake. That's definitely make me feel better.

Thursday 7 May 2009

still here

I don't know why I'm so horrible at blogging lately. I've got BlogBlock. It could be because I tend to post notes, links, or status updates on Facebook every day, it doesn't leave a lot to say here. But then one of the main points of this blog is for me to look back on this all one day and marvel at the wonders of the past...and to give my children something to be really, really embarrassed about in the future.

So, here I am. Feeling pretty darn good at just over 31 weeks, remarkably calm about the upcoming birth. Every now and then, Paul and I experience a mild case of "Holy Shit, We're Having Another Baby" panic, but mostly we're okay. I really haven't had much to complain about this pregnancy (not that it stops me), and I'm still very much looking forward to the birth. At the moment, I'm looking forward to maternity leave - starting three weeks from this very day. Afternoon naps! Getting caught up on the 12 episodes of Desperate Housewives on my Virgin box! Going shopping - alone! Afternoon cake with my girlfriends! Lovely, can't wait.

My baby shower is on Sunday at Caroline's house, which is so fabulous. I never expected one (I was thrilled to have one for Mia, but didn't think I'd get another this time as they're not really the "done thing" here) and I was so touched when the girls offered to throw one for me. All I know is that it'll involve sitting outside, eating, and a massage. What more could a girl need? I've got to do some experimental cookie making (and eating, for test purposes only) tomorrow for the goody bags. I don't think I've ever made shaped sugar cookies before. I'm trusting Nigella on this one, so fingers crossed.

The baby is wriggling loads, which amuses my little boy to no end. Mia now says "Baby kick!" when she looks at my belly. She also likes to say "Baby milk" and hike up my top, but thankfully she's only been doing this at home. I don't think Mia really gets what's going on and what she's in for in two months, but Jack seems to be more aware of his impending sibling (who he is sure is a girl and that we will call Olivia.) Liz loaned me a great book called "There's a House in Mummy's Tummy" about a pregnant mummy, that both Jack and Mia love. Although now Jack is convinced that there's a television in my "tummy house", because he claims that the baby is in there watching TV. Judging by how huge and heavy I feel right now, he might be right.

As I said, I'm feeling good on the most part. The only complaints I have are heartburn (same old, same old), aches and pains every now and then, and constant Braxton Hicks. I surprised myself when I realised that I'm still lifting Mia in and out of the cot (it doesn't have a drop-down side) because I stopped doing this at 20 weeks with Jack. At that point, he was 2 and we moved him to his bed because I just couldn't bend and lift him anymore. Mia's such a wee thing, she's pretty easy to lift.

I'm due two months from today. TWO MONTHS. How mental is that?

Wednesday 22 April 2009

Easter bunny went THAT way!

Goodness, it's been a while. Hello. How have you been?

In case you were wondering what the Fat Duck stuff was doing on the baby blog, it's because I plan on just having one blog from now on. I orginally divided up the blogs into baby/non-baby topics for fear of boring the pants off of people who really didn't care to read about my adventures in motherhood, but I find myself with very few non-mummy things to say. Plus, I'm really crappy at multitasking at the moment, so it shall be one blog from now on.

So until I get another free moment to blog properly, please enjoy this photo of my daughter stuffing her face with Easter chocolate. That's my girl!

Thursday 2 April 2009

we were fat duckers

The Fat Duck in Bray is run by Heston Blumenthal, made famous by television here and made infamous by devising snail porridge. His three-starred Michelin restaurant has been voted the "2nd Best Restaurant in the World", coming behind the legendary El Bulli in Spain. He is probably best compared to Thomas Keller of French Laundry in Napa, Calfornia. Creator, part scientist/part alchemist, and oddly, somewhat of a sex symbol. I'd been looking forward to this for two months; my birthday meal had finally come.

Dinner at the Fat Duck
This is a view of the dining room, along with the mumbliest waiter in the world. I'm not joking, I was reading lips at one point and was thisclose to begging him to switch to French in the hopes I might be able to catch a few more words.

Dinner at the Fat Duck
The menu for us to take home, complete with a Fat Duck wax stamp.

We went for the tasting menu, and Paul had the wine tasting menu with it. Here is my lengthy, but hopefully useful "review" of our epic meal.

NITRO-GREEN TEA AND LIME MOUSSE: I didn't have time to take a photo because it had to be eaten immediately. A waiter came to our table and squirted an artfully dispensed blob of egg white and lime on a spoon, then placed it in a container of liquid nitrogen (which is something like -150C). It floated on top like a poached egg for a few seconds, then the waiter placed it on a plate and dusted it with green tea powder. We were instructed to pop it into the mouth in one, and I felt it dissolve immediately into a bite of cold slush. It was to refresh the mouth and clean the palate, which it certainly did.

Dinner at the Fat Duck
POMMERY GRAIN MUSTARD ICE CREAM, RED CABBAGE GAZPACHO: Once your brain realises not to expect something sweet, the ice cream becomes a little more enjoyable. The first bite was unpleasant, dominated by the grain mustard and incredibly odd when your eyes see a quenelle of ice cream but your mouth experiences something completely savoury. The next few bites were more enjoyable; however, the flavours didn't work for me at all.

Dinner at the Fat Duck
Dinner at the Fat Duck
JELLY OF QUAIL, LANGOUSTINE CREAM, PARFAIT OF FOIE GRAS, OAK MOSS AND TRUFFLE TOAST: Now this is what we came for: theatre, amazement, surprise, and incredibly intense flavours. The first stage is a moss-flavoured film placed on the tongue and left to dissolve, which tasted wonderfully earthy without actually tasting like moss (or what you'd expect moss to taste like, never having eaten it myself.) Liquid nitrogen was poured on a small platform filled with fresh moss, to give the effect of being in the woods on a misty morning. The parfait was astounding; so dense with flavour and surprisingly filling. The tiny, thin, delicate toast provided a lovely contrasting texture.

Dinner at the Fat Duck
SNAIL PORRIDGE: The famous snail porridge, which did frighten me when placed in front of me. I wasn't too bothered about the snails, but the lurid green mush underneath them scared me slightly. It tasted delicious, again, deeply savoury and rich, and topped with crispy fennel. The snails were tender (I always think of my last experience of escargot as being akin to eating erasers sauteed in garlic butter) and the porridge beautifully flavoured. I do think the porridge is there more for novelty than for taste as it's not quite identifiable and heavily disguised by the rest of the ingredients.

Dinner at the Fat Duck
ROAST FOIE GRAS "BENZALDEHYDE" (Almond Fluid Gel, Cherry, Chamomile): Beautiful, delicate, and again, completely surprising. You'd never expect bakewell tart to go with fois gras, but it was perfect.

Dinner at the Fat Duck
Dinner at the Fat Duck
Dinner at the Fat Duck
"SOUND OF THE SEA": Definitely more for entertainment than adventures in haute cuisine, "Sound of the Sea" comes with an iPod Nano playing sounds of the seaside. Paul's wine tasting selection was sake for this dish, which I fully understood as the flavours very much reminded me of Japanese food. The "plate" was lined with foam representing the foam left behind after a wave comes in (which didn't taste of anything), "sand" made of tapioca and eels (more frightening than it sounds; it was mostly just salty), three different kinds of fish (mackerel, yellowtail, and another fish that has slipped our minds), and varieties of seaweed underneath. I got it; it's the seaside. What I didn't get was the "wow factor" or a lot of flavour.

Dinner at the Fat Duck
SALMON POACHED IN LIQUORICE GEL (Artichokes, Vanilla Mayonnaise and “Manni” Olive Oil): It did look much more beautiful than this, but I forgot to take a photo before digging in. The liquorice wasn't detectible in the gel, which is probably a good thing. Salmon wrapped in an Allsort wasn't going to do it for me; thankfully, it was simply a delicately cooked piece of fresh fish. The vanilla mayonnaise was light and went well with the salmon. The servers shaved liquorice on top of the dish and added drops of olive oil, however these too weren't detectable. The pink flecks on the plate is grapefruit, which was wonderfully fresh in the mouth.

Dinner at the Fat Duck
BALLOTINE OF ANJOU PIGEON (Black Pudding “made to order”, Pickling Brine and Spiced Juices): Black pudding doesn't thrill me at the best of times, let alone when it appears as a glistening teardropped-smear on my plate, but I tried it with the pigeon anyway. Alone, it was very rich and didn't taste pleasant. With the pigeon, it blended well. The pigeon was incredibly tender and moist, and the crispy "crackling" (forgot to ask what it was made from) was light as a feather. By this point, I was starting to get full and this dish felt a bit heavy in my stomach.

Dinner at the Fat Duck
HOT AND ICED TEA: This has got to be most the bizarre thing I've ever experienced; half of my mouth filled with warm Earl Grey tea and the other with cold. Bizarre, but sensational. I think the tea had honey and lemon in it, and it was a lovely "refresher" after the dense feeling left after eating the pigeon.

Dinner at the Fat Duck
MRS MARSHALL’S MARGARET CORNET: Mrs Marshall, unlike Mrs Beeton, wrote and tested her own recipes in the Victorian era (so the small booklet we received before this course told us.) She was an early Blumenthal in drag, coming up with the idea to cook food with various gasses. This was her ice cream recipe, made from apple. I can live with foam, I'm getting used to jelly cubes, but I really can't get my head around salt used with dessert. Somewhere on this cone was a layer of salt, and it was an unpleasant surprise. I've been presented with salt on a dessert before (lemon tart with vanilla salt at the Old Bridge) and it made me wince then. I just don't get it, or what it's supposed to do for me.

Dinner at the Fat Duck
PINE SHERBET FOUNTAIN (PRE-HIT): Sherbet to us North Americans is that white powdery sugar you find in Lik-M-Aid or those sweets that involved a firecracker-shaped paper tubes of powdered sugar with a liquorice stick for dipping. The concept of pine sugar makes me think of sweet floor cleaner, but this wasn't the case at all. The taste is difficult to describe, but mostly it was sweet with a wonderful hit of vanilla from the vanilla "stick" in the middle of the sherbet. Again, this was another palate-cleansing course before the final desserts.

Dinner at the Fat Duck
MANGO AND DOUGLAS FIR PUREE (Bavarois of Lychee and Mango, Blackcurrant Sorbet, Blackcurrant and Green Peppercorn Jelly): Again, fearful of car freshener-flavoured food, I was hesitant about this one - particularly as the douglas fir was actually visible on top of the bavarois. And again, thankfully, it wasn't the case at all. The blackcurrent sorbet was intense and refreshing, with a sliver of (what I assumed was) dehydrated blackcurrent on top. The bavarois was delicate and light, not overly sweet.

And at this point, my camera battery died and just for fun, my phone also died. We had no photo-taking abilities, much to my huge disappointment.

PARSNIP CEREAL: The server chirped "Good morning!" and placed a miniature box of cereal in a bowl in front of us, with a small jug of milk. Both were made from parsnips, creating a tiny bowl of parsnip "corn flakes". Funny, cute, but pointless. It tasted like parsnips (which is fine, I like parsnips), et alors? This was another novelty course.

NITRO-SCRAMBLED EGG AND BACON ICE CREAM (Pain Perdu, Tea Jelly): This was undoubtedly another highlight of the evening, simply because it tasted sublime and provided entertainment. Tableside, no less. A server again bid us a "good morning" and cracked an "egg" into a pot. I say "egg" because although the outer shell was definitely once a chicken's egg, the inside was a pre-prepared liquid that had been injected inside. Once again, our friend liquid nitrogen appeared to "cook" the egg. The server stirred the mixture with a wooden spoon and announced that it was scrambled eggs. Another server placed a plate with the pain perdue and a razor-thin slice of bacon in front of the other server, who topped it with the scrambled eggs. I was absolutely taken aback and delighted at the flavour of the eggs; sweet with a hint of smoky bacon. The pain perdu was sweet, crunchy on the outside, and light inside. Beautiful - I would have gladly eaten a large slab of this in lieu of the three courses that preceded.

PETITS FOURS (Mandarin Aerated Chocolate, Violet Tartlet, Apple Pie Caramel in "Edible" Wrapper): I was presented with a plate of petite fours with "Happy Birthday" written on it. I can only speculate that Heston had anything to do with it. Let's just say he did and move on. Paul had an additional cheese course, and managed to pick the smelliest, ooziest cheeses of the lot.

I caught a glimpse of what I think was the man himself. He had been there earlier in the day for the lunch service (according to our fellow B&B guests at breakfast this morning) so I may not have been imagining things.

So what did we think overall? We loved the experience, we're thrilled that we did it, but it's not something we necessarily need to do again. It was gloriously extravagant (don't ask what the final bill was), service was perfect, and we're just not going to get a chance to do something like this very often in life. If we were to go again, we'd order a la carte. The table behind us did that, and their food looked delicious and a little more accessible (and less gimmicky.) We smiled from the first course until we left, noting in amazement that we'd just spent almost four hours eating. How often do parents get to do that? Fantastic; a real treat.