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 yesterday...one 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 damn...it 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.