Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Weird Geneological Coincidence

I was talking to my mother on the telephone this evening and having exhausted the topic of Amelia's spots (and my sister's; Claire is worried that she's got chicken pox now. I do so hope not!), we meandered onto family trees. A few days ago, I recorded that my mother had discovered that Amelia's Great Great Grandmother also had the name Beatrice as a middle name. Tonight, my mother was looking at her birth and death certificates and realised that Laura Beatrice Bayliss died on 18th January (1938), i.e. on Amelia's birthday. Weird coincidence eh?

Spots

Amelia now has spots everywhere: lots in her hair, one right on the cartilage of her left ear, many on her thighs, lower legs and nappy area and perhaps one beneath her left eye-lid (her eye is gummy, like conjunctivitis). More are sprouting all the time. I look at them and just want to burst into tears.

I spoke to the most senior doctor in our practice today (about her eye) and he wanted to double-check with a pediatrician at the hospital about whether she should be receiving anti-viral drugs; he rang back later to say that she should be old enough (at two weeks!) to fight it off herself and that they didn't think she needed the anti-virals. Sheep and I are trying to view this as a good sign. Our task remains the same: keep a careful watch over her for any changes. No fever yet.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Chicken Pox Again

How to say this? Amelia has chicken pox. She is 12 days old today and she's got chicken pox. I feel dreadful; I feel that I should have been able to prevent this somehow. I certainly missed the spots! She has a big blister-spot about a cm below her tummy-button, which has literally been staring me in the face every time I've changed her nappy over the last 24 hours. It only took Sheep to change one nappy for him to be suspicious about the blister, which I'd been blithely ignoring (I thought that perhaps I'd pinched her skin when fixing one of the snap-poppers on her cloth nappies).

When we had a closer look at her at about 7:30 this evening, we noticed a number of additional blister-spots predominantly from her waist downwards and a number of 'pimples' around her torso. She even has some in her hair and a blister on her ear. Once I'd finished reading to Barnaby, I came downstairs and rang my mother. I'd been anxious, at this stage, but not overly so. However she was and kept asking if I knew the risks given that Amelia is so young. I promised her I would have a look on the Internet and see what it said about chicken pox and newborn babies. What I read alarmed me sufficiently that I called the doctor immediately; they said that I should take her to the hospital straight away to see the emergency doctor (MK-doc).

By this stage, I was a little upset and didn't feel in any state to drive to the hospital myself (particularly as Sheep would have to stay at home with Barnaby and we've still not fitted her car-seat yet). I started looking for taxi numbers and Sheep suggested I call my sister and brother-in-law (Claire and Julian); he was concerned that I should have someone else with me. In the end, they offered to come and get me and take us both to the hospital. (Again, Claire and Julian save the day!).

The long and short of it, is that the doctor confirmed that Amelia does have chicken pox. Essentially it can be dangerous in a baby as young as her, but so far there are no causes for concern. We do need to monitor her diligently; we need to watch out for any changes in her temperature, feeding habits and general demeanor. If any of these change, especially her temperature, we need to call our doctor again. He said that is it highly likely that she will get a fever with it, and she is too young for us to treat this at home. However, there is also a good chance that she will have a much milder version of the chicken pox, given that she should have had some antibodies from me, particularly as I am breatfeeding (in fact the probability of her having got it is so slight: what bad luck!!!!!). We are going to keep a good eye on her tonight and given her propensity to sleep through the night, we've decided to set the alarm clock so that we can check her temperature regularly through the night.

On other news front, although everything else pales into insignificance besides this news, Barnaby was back at nursery today and was very pleased to be back. He seems to be alright now (except he's developed a slight cough as well - as has Amelia, I hate to say!). He came home bearing gifts/cards from nursery, for him and for Amelia. To think, I was hoping that we'd start getting into a routine now...

Sunday, January 29, 2006

First Outing

Jenni was still here today. Incidentally, she took some photos and if anyone is interested, they can be found at http://www.flickr.com/photos/jinty/sets/72057594055868448/

At lunch time we decided to eat out! We (Jenni, Sheep, Barnaby, Amelia and I) walked about a mile to a Chinese restaurant overlooking a nearby lake. We actually had a lovely time; both Barnaby and Amelia were very well behaved! It was very nice to get out of the house as well. I also found the walk quite easy going, given that has been the longest walk I've taken since the birth. We had forgotten, or hadn't realised, that today was the start of Chinese New Year (the Year of the Dog; It is Year 4703 by the Chinese calendar), so the restaurant was decorated for the New Year. When I was paying the bill, the waiter asked me if both the children were ours and when I said yes, then asked if Amelia was a girl. He then commented on our good fortune to have had one of each. He said that the Chinese word for 'good' was written as a pictogram of two parts: one part means 'boy' and the other part means 'girl', so the combination of girl+boy=good! I must check to see if this is true :)

Then, mid-afternoon, we had a quick visit from our friends from Islington, Jon and Lynda (and their children, Jack, Jess and Bella) who had been in the neighborhood, skiing on the indoor snowslope, Xscape. They came, bearing amongst other things, home-made chocolate brownies. It was so lovely to see them, albeit briefly.

On the subject of gifts, I have in my posession a book on parenting, which used to belong to my maternal grandparents and in the back my grandfather meticulously documented numerous facts about my mother (Amelia's grandmother) as a baby, one of which was the cards, gifts and greetings she received at birth. 65 years later, it makes very interesting reading. So I thought I should document the cards and gifts that we/Amelia has been sent (insomuch as she might find this of interest later!). In no particular order, we've received cards from:

Michael, Gabrielle, Raffi and Julia Dalton (Amelia's uncle, aunt and cousins)
Sean and Jo Burlington
Valerie (our midwife)
Jon, Lynda, Jack, Jess and Bella Branch
Derek and Jackie Dalton (Amelia's paternal grandparents)
Lucy Kimbell
Claire Conroy and Julian Askham (Amelia's aunt and uncle)
Drusilla Bayliss (Amelia's 'Nannny')
David and Julienne Hanson (they also sent a separate 'Big Brother' card to Barnaby)
Friends at Milton Keynes Quaker Meeting
Magda Mavridou, Kaveh Shafiei and Rodrigo Mora (three of Ruth's PhD students)
Caroline Woodbridge
Emm, Nick, Joe and Esme Barnes
From the residents of the cottage at Lodge Trust (where my mother works)
Eleanor, Bruce and Pippa from Milton Keynes Quaker Meeting
Gemma Grace (Barnaby's nursery key-worker) (she also sent a separate 'Big Brother' card to Barnaby)

There have been too many email greetings to list :)

In terms of gifts, again in no particular order:

Alan Conroy (Amelia's maternal grandfather) and Begona Lopez Moreno (her step grandmother) - baby clothes
Michael, Gabrielle, Raffi and Julia Dalton - baby clothes
Caroline Woodbridge - flowers, teddy bear and balloon
The Bartlett School of Graduate Studies - big bouquet of flowers
David and Julienne Hanson - flowers, baby clothes, 'big brother' rosette and lamb full of chocolates for Barnaby
Emm, Nick, Joe and Esme Barnes - big food parcel for a hungry breastfeeding mother!
Jon, Lynda, Jack, Jess and Bella Branch - baby clothes and homemade brownies
Drusilla Bayliss (maternal grandmother) - little grey rabbit cuddly toy
Christoph Hoelscher and Kerstin - little lamb that plays a lullaby-melody
Gemma Grace (Barnaby's nursery key-worker) - baby clothes and two 'Thomas the Tank Engine' books for Barnaby

Having written the above list, I feel even more guilty about not yet having sent out any 'Thank You' cards. This is one of my tasks for this week! (If you are reading this and feeling piqued about not yet being properly thanked, please bear with me!)

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Saturday Stuff

Well, today was the day that Leif left, although he ended up leaving much later than originally planned. Also, our friend Jenni is here visiting. Jenni arrived about 1:30 and Leif left about 4:00. I must say, once again, how wonderful it was having Leif here. This evening, during dinner, I was having a cuddle with Barnaby who was saying, "I love you, Mummy" and "I love Daddy" and then he said "I love Leif", so clearly he's had a good time with Leif this week. Unfortunately, as an update on Barnaby's state of health, I must say his hearing has been a lot worse today than it has previously been. Poor Barnaby!

Amelia had another good night, sleeping more than 5 hours again. I actually had trouble waking her to feed this morning. I only hope that she is getting enough food during the day to compensate. What does Jenni think of her? "She looks like a baby!", so there you go, it's official: she is a baby. Anyway, Jenni has taken some photos of Amelia, so perhaps we might be able to put some pictures of her online somewhere soon. (Since we've mislaid our digital camera battery recharger, we've been reduced to using Sheep's phone (and have been having formatting problems with those images too!))

What else? I was thinking today about families; there is no doubt that we are actually a family now. I mean, when you have only one child, you are still predominantly a couple (66.67% of the 'family unit' are the original couple): a couple with an 'apendage', if you like. But, by the time that you have a second child, there is no escaping the fact that you are, unequivocally, a family. The 'couple' part of the 'family' are now no longer dominant, although admitedly, not yet in the minority either. And, by the time you have three children, you, the couple, are decidely in the minority!

Final thought for the day. I keep getting really nervous going up and down stairs with Amelia and even if I am simply walking across the landing upstairs, close to the balustrade. I never noticed this phenomenon with Barnaby, as we did everthing on the ground floor of our Atlanta house (our bedroom, the bathroom, etc were all on the same level). I wonder if this is some primal, biological angst. I mean, mothers must be pre-programmed to try and protect their newborn, but it's still quite unnerving to get mildly anxious everytime I am in close proximity to a vertical drop. I wonder if there is a word for this? Postnatal vertigo, perhaps?

Friday, January 27, 2006

Names

My mother telephoned today. She'd been looking through boxes of family photographs trying to find a particular picture of me that she remembered (and thought looked like Amelia). While she was looking she came across a number of family birth/death certificates, including that of her maternal grandmother. Well, I knew that my maternal grandmother was called Emily Laura (Manton) and 'Amelia' is nominally related to 'Emily' (A medieval derivation of Emilia; Emily itself being too popular at the moment!). My mother knew that her grandmother was called Laura, what she didn't know until she found her certificate was that her grandmother's full name was Laura Beatrice (Bayliss) that is to say, she didn't know that her middle name was also Beatrice. So, inadvertently, Amelia Beatrice is named after her great grandmother (the Amelia/Emily part) and her great great grandmother (the Beatrice part). So, the female line goes something like this...

Sarah Ann Baylis
Laura Beatrice Bayliss
Emily Laura Manton
Drusilla Bayliss Beardsmore
Ruth Alison Conroy
Amelia Beatrice Conroy Dalton

Update on Barnaby's Doctor's Appointment

Well, it looks like Barnaby's had three ailments simultaneously. The doctor confirmed today that he's got fluid/an infection in his inner ear. As it happens, he was complaining of severe ear-ache the weekend before Amelia was born. It will also account for him repeatedly seeming to ignore us (his nursery have also complained of his apparent inattention), his speaking/shouting louder than usual and his falling over yesterday. The doctor wants to try a "wait and see" approach, and doesn't want to prescribe antibiotics yet. But did mention that, if it persists, we will need to take him back in a couple of weeks at which point he might need to see an ear, nose and throat specialist, and could even need to have a grommit fitted. Obviously, I hope it clears up on its own. In the meantime, with his dizziness/falling over I guess we need to be careful with him going up and down stairs!

The doctor thought that yesterday's vomit and fever was more likely related to the flu that Sheep and I have had. So poor Barnaby's had chicken pox, an ear infection and the flu, all concurrently.

On a more cheerful note, Amelia slept through the night last night :) She finished a feed at 12:20 and at 5:20 I started to try and wake her up (which took a whole 15 minutes!). I think she would have easily slept until after 6:00 had I not intervened. So - five hours sleep, that constitutes sleeping through the night for a newborn! It's so nice of her to be this considerate, given Barnaby's woes at the moment. What a thoughtful girl.

Barnaby's night was less idyllic, I hardly need say. He had a raging fever again at midnight (just as I was finished Amelia's midnight feed, Sheep was administering Calpol to Barnaby), and slept with us all night. Our bed isn't all that big, and this morning I awoke to find Sheep stretched out horizontally along the foot of the bed, just to get some room! Good news is that Barnaby's fever hasn't returned this morning and I conclude it's just been a 24 hour thing like Sheep and I had.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Bad Luck (or Viruses) Come in Threes

I spoke to my mother yesterday evening and told her about the fact that Sheep and I had both had coughs/colds/flu and after being suitably sympathetic she remarked that if Barnaby's chicken pox was one instantiation of bad luck and our flu a second then a third unlucky event was on its way! Of course, one could dispute her maths insomuch as our colds/flu could be counted as two separate and distinct events not one, but this pedantry aside, I am much inclined to blame her for today's events (Joke!!!!).

Banaby now has a second virus to add to his menagerie. We should have suspected something when he was waking on the hour last night (poor Sheep!). Anyway, all was OK this morning, except that Barnaby kept falling over unexpectedly (backwards!) then at noon he suddenly curls up on Sheep and falls asleep. On waking later, we take his temperature and its 39.6°F (about 103°C). Then he complains of a stomach ache and is promptly sick. This, combined with the falling over, caused us to be more than a little worried. I called the doctor's surgery and was lucky enough to speak to the doctor who had first diagnosed his chicken pox. We discussed whether the fever could be associated with the chicken pox or whether it was something new. She said that, given it was already the eighth day after his spots appeared, it was unlikely that the fever was due to the chicken pox. She said that since the fever was responding to paracetamol and we were doing all the right things, it was probably just another virus and that we shouldn't worry. However, Sheep is particularly anxious about his "falling over", and so we're going to try and make a doctors appointment for him in the morning.

Then, just before tea-time, Amelia managed a spectacular, almost projectile vomit. The rational part of me is sure that this is just an extreme version of 'spitting up', but we can't help but wonder if this is the start of her own version of Barnaby's virus (and is this the same flu/cold virus we've had? Who knows?).

All in all, we're all a bit low today. Once again, thank goodness for Leif - at least Sheep got some respite (and catch-up sleep) today. Talking of whom, I am concerned about Sheep; he's been a bit grumpy and short-tempered ever since Amelia was born. (Short-tempered with Barnaby more than anyone else). Now, this is so unlike Sheep, who, ordinarily, is the most laid-back person I know, that I am worried. We were talking about it over dinner and Sheep asks, half-jokingly, if there is such a thing as post-natal depression for men? Interesting question - I have started to check this out on the Internet and looks like there is. However, he also says he is worried about his PhD and add to that his sleep deprivation, perhaps it's all easily explained. I wish I knew how I could help though.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

I Forgot to Mention...

I put on a non-maternity pair of trousers today!

First Bath

We've all had a good day, I think! Barnaby slept through the night for the first time since he got chicken pox, so I think his spots are not itching so much. Amelia is really only having one feed mid-night, so sleep is really easy (oh would that this could continue!). Just think, she was only born a week ago today and already feels like she's been part of the family for a while!

Valerie came this afternoon and we gave Amelia her first proper bath (instead of "topping & tailing"). Sheep captured the highlights on video :) Barnaby helped out, washing her feet and legs for me! Now her hair has been properly washed, it's all fluffy and downy... The really great news is that after her bath Valerie weighed her; she is now 3700 gms, which is 8 lbs 2 oz, so she has not only regained her birth weight (after just a week), but gained a couple of ounces too! So, we're doing something right.

Her skin is still quite wrinkly and cracked, but her hands and feet are a lot better since applying the Aquaphor.

Sheep is still feeling a bit ill - he took advantage of Leif being here to sleep until noon, so hopefully will be feeling a bit better soon.

Barnaby's had a great day with Leif; he's been to the playground, played with his Omagles (building a space rocket), slept and ate well. Thank goodness for Leif!

Thoughts on Amellia's name - Barnaby predominantly refers to her as "That Baby" - "What's THAT BABY doing now?", if he does call her by name, he calls her Meela (or should that be written Mila?). Sheep quite likes this as a nickname. Actually, I like Milly. Other short versions of Amelia are Amy (Ami, Ame?) and Mel. But for Barnaby it's definitely Meela :)

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Peace Reigns

Leif arrived just over an hour ago. For the first time in three days, Barnaby is dressed (he has a lot of spots round his waist and groin and has been adamant about not putting on trousers or pants over the last two days) and now Leif has taken him out for a walk! Sheep has decided he might be getting my flu and has gone to lie down for an hour. I actually feel a little better today (until I cough - and I'm sure you can imagine where that hurts!). I hope it was only a 24 hour thing and if Sheep has the same today, that he'll be feeling better soon.

I rang Barnaby's nursery today to let them know that he wont be back until, probably, next Monday (Leif can stay until Friday/Saturday). They said that Barnaby's group, "The Squirrels" has been hit very badly. Of the 11 squirrels, 9 are off with chicken pox! So they have 3 assistants looking after 2 children today.

I swear Amelia smiled at me today (and in response to me smiling at her). I know she's not meant to be able to do this yet, BUT she can track a moving object and lift her head on her own, all of which she's not meant to be able to do until well into her second month, so why not smile as well? I keep being surprised at what she can do that Barnaby couldn't do, but, of course, she's has a three week head-start on him (which is almost a month) so perhaps I shouldn't be all that surprised.

She had a very good night last night; she fed at midnight, 3:30ish and 7:30ish. Quite civilised really. I'd be extremely happy if she keeps up this pattern. She is feeding more during the day, which is perfect. If it wasn't for a splitting headache I'd be feeling quite euphoric! (Sheep even remarked that I was looking positively svelte this morning, but then ruined the effect by adding the rider that this was relative to how I was looking last week).

So glad Leif is here - it's so quiet!

Monday, January 23, 2006

Feeling Lousy

Well, I'm off to bed soon. I think I've got the flu/cold. We rang Valerie (just to be on the safe side), who thought it might be a fever associated with my milk coming in (what used to be called a "milk fever", a long time ago); then I started coughing down the phone and she agreed it sounded more like a cold/flu. I am coughing, have a headache, bones ache, feeling shivery (although I don't think I have a fever). According to Valerie, the important thing is to keep feeding Amelia, however bad I feel. (Although trying to not to cough over her at the same time is a challenge.) However, Leif is arriving in the morning, so Sheep can then look after me if need be. What a sorry household we are, with Barnaby's chicken pox as well.

A little other news - Amelia's hands and feet are starting to look much better after using the Aquaphor on it (I've applied it twice today). Also, sometime between leaving the hospital this morning and arriving home, her cord-stump dropped off. This was slightly early and so it's a bit 'gooey' underneath (and smelly, of course). I think it got disturbed by the waist-band of her nappy. I've also started to try to massage/manipulate her left leg, which has very, very mild talipes. Valerie had showed me how to massage it, and the paediatrician, this morning, showed me some more exercises I could do. Personally, I think she just got very 'squashed' towards the end and that it will wear off soon (but I will also try the massaging).

Anyway, all for now - off to bed!

The Dimple

It's official: the dimple is nothing more than a dimple! As my friend Emm remarked, "The sort of dimple that a lover exclaims over in delight in 18 years time." Amelia and I braved the hospital this morning, and apart from some confusion over her lack of hospital ID number ("What do you mean, born at home? Why?), everything is fine! More later.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Quiet Sunday

Well, a calmish sort of day. My mother left at the crack of dawn:too early for us to say goodbye. Barnaby had a bad night with his itchy spots and Sheep has been suffering today as a consequence. Amelia stopped producing meconium last night, so we switched to cloth nappies at midnight. My milk has also come in, so we're set to go.

The appointment at the Paediatric Assessment Unit is at 9:30 tomorrow and I'll be taking Amelia on my own; it's not a good place for toddlers with chicken pox and if Sheep comes, so does Barnaby! Will post results tomorrow, but I'm being optimistic about the outcome.

Valerie, our midwife came this afternoon. Everything OK. She did a heelprick test on Amelia. Her hands (Amelia's not Valerie's) and feet are still painfully cracked, and I had tried rubbing olive oil onto them, to no avail. Valerie recommended something stronger and we are now using a cream we got in the USA called aquaphor. Hopefully, this will work. It was only the fact that she was so late that she is so wrinkly and cracked.

Finally, we are finding it tough with Banaby at home and his pox :) Tonight we called Leif, Banaby's former nanny, and begged him to drop everything and come and help out. Amazingly, he's arriving on Tuesday morning! So our cavalry is on it's way.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

The 15 Minute Poo & other Miscellany

The 15 Minute Poo

At midnight of day two (Thursday night), I was changing her and she'd produced this huge meconium-poo, which, being so sticky took time and patience to remove. This task almost at an end, she started producing another. Good timing!, I thought, not having yet replaced the nappy. I repeat step one. Again, at the end of this second clean, she produces yet another - I glance at my watch and it's 12:15. For the next few minutes she manages to produce another poo, as if on cue, every time all traces of it's predecessor are removed. I almost cannot match the rate of cotton-wool to poo. When finally this marathon race of poo versus cotton-wool and water has finished, I again look at my watch and note to my astonishment that a full FIFTEEN MINUTES has passed. I am in complete awe of her being able to sustain this for a full quarter of an hour.

When is a Dimple a Simple Dimple?

On a more serious note, Amelia has a dimple at the base of her spine, known as a sacral dimple; this sort of dimple is sometimes the only external evidence of a tiny defect known as spina bifida occulta (the most common and least serious form of spina bifida). Our midwife noted it at birth and so did our GP when we took her for her routine check-up yesterday. She's been referred to the Paediatric Day Assessment Unit at Milton Keynes General Hospital and we have an appointment for 9:30 on Monday morning. To be honest, in all probability, it will be nothing - just a simple dimple, but it's clearly better to get it checked out (and if there is any doubt they will do a scan of her spine). And, even if it is spina bifida occulta, it may have little or no affect upon her, as it is so mild. Aparently, 1.4% of all babies have a sacral dimple that is not indicative of underlying spinal abnormalities. Anyway, will post more about this on Monday morning after the appointment.

The Sitz Bath

I've had my sitz baths (note the plural). What I forgot to mention in my earlier post was that as well as boiling up the herbs for 30 minutes, you also needed to include two bulbs (not cloves, but whole bulbs!) of garlic to the herbal stew and then sit in it!. I was joking with Sheep about marinating my 'bits' - it's a good job that Sheep's not going to be getting too close over the next few days! (Although the foul looking mixture did not smell as bad as I feared, once it had been boiled up!). Did it do any good? Who knows? If anyone is at all inspired to try this out after reading this post, our midwife got it from the Active Birth Centre http://www.activebirthcentre.com/shopping/herbBATH.shtml

My Role as Cordon Sanitaire

With Barnaby's chickenpox still waxing (I don't think the rate of new spots has peaked yet), he's feeling increasingly grumpy, particularly at night. In fact, he is probably causing us more sleeplessness than Amelia is. One solution is to let him come into our bed, as and when he wants to, which ordinarily we wouldn't have a problem with. However, our GP warned us to try to avoid too much physical contact between him and Amelia while he is still infectious. Naturally, I am also breastfeeding her during the night and equally naturally am doing this in bed too. My solution is to try to ensure that I am between the two of them at all times, acting as a sort of cordon sanitaire. This sounds all well and good and mostly seems to be working (the true goal being getting enough sleep for Sheep and I), however, I'd bargained without Barnaby waking up and delightedly discovering Amelia being fed by me and wanting to get as close as possible to the two of us. Clearly my diplomatic skills need honing some more.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

First Night

Valerie came back to check up on us at 6:00 in the evening, yesterday. The rest of the evening pretty much followed Barnaby's usual evening routine and he settled down well; a calm evening followed. We blithely went to bed, thinking that we might have a reasonable night ahead (given the usual amount of feeds/changes of course!). How wrong could we have been? Essentially from midnight, Amelia didn't really sleep. All she wanted to do was feed; I am sure she wasn't really ravenous: I am pretty sure it was just comfort suckling for the better part, but the upshot was the same - no sleep for me; sheep got some sleep.

This morning, Barnaby had another doctor's appointment and, yes, he does have chicken pox. So, it is unlikely that he will be at nursery at all next week. We need to wait until no new spots appear and all the existing ones have passed from blisters to scabs. This can be about a week and he's infectious during all this time.

I think Sheep was suffering from the lack of sleep more than me. Perhaps, because I'm still full of adrenalin and endorphins from the birth - he has no such thing to keep him buoyed up. Anyway, he found Barnaby very difficult to cope with this morning - and, I admit, he was difficult to get ready to go to the doctors. Of course, after last night, Amelia was angelic today, sleeping and feeding. When Barnaby went off for his afternoon nap at 2:00, we all just took to bed and got a couple of hours sleep. Valerie came to visit again at 5:00. She left me some herbs for a sitz bath (calendula flowers, St. John's wart leaves and comfrey), which I mean to try soon, this evening. Unfortunately, I've had little time, what with lack of sleep and Barnaby, to look after myself much. And, as Valerie reminded me, I need to ensure that I do so.

Tomorrow we have an appointment with our GP, who will do a full check on Amelia. Apparently, they used to come out for home births, but no longer. The GP's surgery is about a mile away and Valerie said I shouldn't even think about walking that far yet and she doesn't advise me to drive yet! We weren't sure what to do, but my mother is coming tomorrow for two days to help out and has offered to drive us there instead.

We had some lovely surprises today. First, a delivery of flowers, a balloon and a teddy bear from our friend Caroline (Barnaby was convinced that the balloon was for him, a notion of which we did nothing to dissuade him). Then, our friend, Julienne, who lives round the corner, dropped by at the end of the day, with cards, a big brother badge and a gift for Barnaby, more flowers for me and a wonderful outfit from Gap. Sadly, I didn't see Julienne, as I was upstairs with Valerie when she visited.

Enough for now - I'm feeling quite cheerful (and maybe it's the endorphins again!), Sheep is feeling worse than me, but on the whole, he's pretty much in a good mood too.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Hello World & Chicken Pox

Amelia Beatrice Conroy Dalton was born at 10:28 am in the living room of our home. She weighed 8 pounds (3629 grams) and is perfect - 5 fingers and 5 toes!

So what happened last night? We called the midwife about 4ish in the morning and called my sister and brother-in-law at the same time. Barnaby had woken up and refused (quite understandably, in my view) to go back to sleep. Sheep was finding it hard to cope with Barnaby's and my conflicting demands on his attention and so we asked them to come round and help out. My sister and brother-in-law arrived first and immediately took control of Barnaby in the kitchen (initially playing with Postman Pat stickers). He actually ended up staying up all night and didn't sleep at all! He put in the odd appearance, in the living room, but not after I got into the second stage. Our midwife, Valerie, arrived shortly after they did.

When Valerie arrived (4:15), my contractions were about 4 minutes apart and this was pretty consistent until the end. According to Valerie's copious notes (!), I was feeling "shaky and nauseous" at 5:00; at 5:25 I was sick. At 5:55 I went upstairs for a bath - this was relaxing and whiled away another half hour or so. My sister came to chat to me for a bit in the bath, as did both Sheep and Valerie at various points. I was back downstairs at 6:30 (vomited again at 6:40). At 6:50, my sister drove my brother-in-law home so that he could go to work (after playing with Barnaby for nearly 3 hours!). So, for a while, Sheep was looking after Barnaby again, while he waited for my sister to return. Valerie comments in her notes that, during this time, Barnaby was in the kitchen watching "The Clangers" on DVD! (Something I'd already forgotten).

At 8:15 my sister took Barnaby to nursery (having been awake and extremely active since about 3:00) and at 8:40 they call back to say that they suspect that he has chickenpox and can we go and collect him! And I am just starting to transition into stage two. Luckily my sister was still here, so she goes to collect him from nursery and takes him straight to the doctor to check and advise on implications to newborn baby (since I've had it and I am breastfeeding, Amelia should get some of my immunity).

Valerie records that I began to feel urges to push at 9:15. All evening she has been monitoring Amelia's heart rate and it is perfectly normal. She notes first sight of head at 9:40. Her head is born at 10:24: the rest of her at 10:28. For all of this time, I was on my knees leaning on a birthing ball, so as she was born, Valerie passed her up through my legs and onto my stomach. She started suckling pretty quickly and before the cord was cut. We waited a long time for the placenta to be delivered before cutting the cord. After about an hour and no delivery of the placenta, the cord was clamped and Sheep cut it (Barnaby, back from the doctors, was tentatively offering to do so). At 12:55, when still the placenta had not been delivered, Valerie gave me an injection that meant that she could "pull" it out; the placenta was delivered at 12:58. At this point I finally had a long, hot bath - bliss.

Valerie left us at 1:30 - after fishing me out of the bath and tucking me into bed (literally!) with Sheep, Barnaby and Amelia! We all slept until 3:30, when my father telephoned.

She is a bit wrinkly, being so late (Valerie noted that the placenta looked "old") and her head a bit misshapen, but that will change over the next few days.

She has about as much hair as Barnaby had (and looks the same; brown at the moment, but could be blond like him later). Her nose also looks a bit his, but it's too early to see any resemblance to any one else yet. I do think that her features look quite fine!

On the whole, we're tired but ok. Worried about Barnaby's tentative chickenpox diagnosis (we have to take him back tomorrow and if it's confirmed he'll be off nursery for two weeks!!!). Could do with a good night's sleep. Amelia is feeding wonderfully; she's a breastfeeding natural! We tired but happy. And we managed a relaxed, drug-free home birth!

Midwife coming

Contractions 3-5 mins. Barnaby awake and being super-difficult. Sheep short with him; I can't pay him any attention. Sister and brother-in-law arrived. Taken charge of Barnaby, thank goodness; playing with Postman Pat stickers in kitchen. Midwife due any moment. This will probably be last post for a while. Contractions coming too fast.

Is this the Start?

We got to bed about 11:30, read until midnight. I don't think either of us really slept though, more dozed/rested. Lot of movement at 1:00, contractions started at 1:30. It's hard to time them, as there are a lot of relatively painless ones, that all run together, plus a lot of lower back pain which obcures everything. However, trying to time the 'big' ones, they seem to be about 8/9 minutes apart. We called the midwife a little after 1:30, just to pre-warn her, but haven't asked her to come out yet (frankly, given all of the previous false alarms, I can't help wanting to wait until it really does seem like it's continuing). We've just moved downstairs for more space - will probably watch a DVD again for a bit. Only problem is that Barnaby is restless - he's woken up a few times. If this progresses and he is still restless we might need to get my sister round to look to him. More later.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Last Raspberry Leaf Tea of the day

Just sitting down to drink my last raspberry tea of the day. Nothing happening yet. It's coming up to 11:00 and we're probably off to bed after this. What are the odds on anything happening tonight? Well, if I start posting again in the early hours, the answer will be 'high'. Given the time now, all I think that we can safely say that the 17th January will not be her birthday.

Waiting again

It's coming up to four hours since my waters broke and nothing. Well, we're not too surprized, all of this week I've been having strong and regular contractions between midnight and about 3:00am only to have it all stop again. So, we think that if anything is to happen tonight it will start around then.

Of course, my fear now, is that this labour will be a case of history repeating itself; that nothing will happen and then I will be under even more pressure to be induced because of the risk of infection. However, in the USA I was induced after only 18 hours after my waters breaking; I believe that most UK hospitals/doctors will be willing to wait up to 48 hours (by which time more than 90% of women will have gone into labour naturally anyway). We did discuss this scenario extensively with our midwife, given the tendency for subsequent pregnancies to follow the pattern of previous ones. Luckily, Valerie is fairly replaxed about waiting. I am meant to be monitoring my temperature every 4 hours, to be alert for signs of infection though.

I just spoke to our midwife, Valerie, on the phone and persuaded her she didn't need to come out yet. I think that the best plan for this evening is for us all to get some rest (her too!). To be honest, everything is fine. I am filling a sanitary towel every half hour or so with fluid, but it all looks fine (no signs of blood or meconium). And apart from the inconvenience/indignity of it (and what in labour is not undignified?) I feel pretty good and well-rested.

It's interesting - initially, I smelt it, to check it didn't smell 'foul' (this is advised in some books/guides), as disgusting as this sounds. And it's funny, although I've only smelt the smell of amniotic fluid once before, I immediately recognised it as being the same smell! What a strange memory-aide smell is.

So what are our plans for this evening? Barnaby has just fallen asleep (8:55), the house is clean, the washing up is done. There's nothing on TV, so we'll probably watch a DVD. Probably "Blackpool".

Sheep's just come downstairs and I've asked him what his mood is. He says, "excited". One way or another, this baby's coming out in the next 48 hours (or so)!

Waters Broken...

...at least I think so (It wasn't half as dramatic as last time). This happened around 5:00 this evening. I was actually lying in bed, waking up from a little nap. I thought 'something' had happened, but, of course, was lying down. I called to Sheep and he told me to stay lying down until he brought a bucket! (Very resourceful, he is.) We managed to catch about one or two cupfulls of the gush, and it all seems OK - right colour and not smelly :) So, now the waiting game starts in ernest. Nothing's happening yet. With Barnaby, I was induced 18 hours after my waters broke (and during which time nothing had happened), so the clock is definitely ticking now. Of course, Barnaby was early - I am much further along this time, so perhaps things will start naturally this time: I should be optimistic. I do hope it does. Today I am 40 weeks +9 (and she's already had 18 days longer 'inside' than B!). I've rang Valerie, our midwife and she might pop over later this evening, regardless of any action, just to check things out. In the meantime, I have to monitor her movements. Am just waiting for Sheep to bring Barnaby home from nursery. Sheep seems quite excited that something is happening at last! He's found all of this inaction a bit trying, I think.

Final thought - if she's born tomorrow, she'll share her birthday (18th) with my father, Alan :) More later, as and when something happens. (Here's a thought - how far through labour and contractions can I keep typing?)

Monday, January 16, 2006

Reflexology 2

Well, the deed is done; I've had my first reflexology session! To my amazement, it did last a whole hour! The reflexologist meticulously went over all different parts of the foot - apparently focussing on my 'reproductive areas'! (I did manage not to giggle). The only time I went 'ow' was when she was apparently applying pressure to the part of the foot that corresponds to my lower back (and I do have lower back problems, although, to be fair, I did *also* mention that to her at the beginning of the session). I now, more or less, know when the 'uterus' point is. (In fact, for the curious, here is an illustration I found online http://www.reflexologyinstitute.com/images_career/CHART-BERNARDIN-INSET-1-350.jpg - it's the green area). However, am I any less sceptical now? I don't think so. I will admit that it was relaxing enough (and perhaps that, in itself, is important if you are beyond your due date - relax, chill out, don't get stressed!).

Bizarrely and perversely, Sheep and I almost hope that nothing happens tonight, just so that we can be proved right that reflexology is a load of bunk.

Given that last statement, I *did* promise to return for a session of acupuncture towards the end of the week (Thursday or Friday probably), should nothing have happened by then! (Given, that I am also a fervent needle-phobe, this is no mean commitment!).

While I was being 'reflexed' - Sheep bought yet another fresh pineapple! We're also down to my last raspberry leaf tea bag. On the list of ten things our midwife said we could try, we've only two thing left - 'stretching and sweeping', which our midwife wants to try on Wednesday (40 weeks + 10 days) 18th January and 'nipple stimulation'. Not keen on the 'stretch and sweep' concept, but given that I DO know what oxytocin & pitocin-induced labour is like (Barnaby) this is, at least, marginally preferable!

Reflexology

Sitting drinking raspberry tea again. Today lamb2 (or Micro-lamb), since Barnaby was our first 'lamb', will be 274 days old (since her conception on April 17th). This is also, 8 months, 30 days excluding the end date and, according to http://www.timeanddate.com/ (I love this website!).

274 days can be converted to one of these units:
23,673,600 seconds
394,560 minutes
6,576 hours
39 weeks (rounded down)

We're off to see a reflexologist at 3:30 this afternoon, which I am deeply sceptical about (on the other hand, I am also horrified at the prospect of induction). Apparently you have a pressure point somewhere near your ankle which can 'get things going'. The appointment is for a whole hour! Can someone really press your ankle for a full hour? I hope I don't get the giggles. I am hoping that it might at least be relaxing and, frankly, it's something to do - we're sitting twiddling our thumbs. We now tried the raspberry leaf tea, fresh pineapple, curries and sex (not necessarily all at the same time), so might as well give this a go.

Why are we waiting?

41 weeks today. D-day plus 7. The midwife says that the doctors *may* want to induce at +10 although the policy of our local hospital is to wait until +14, so we can ward them off for a bit. Really don't want another induction. REALLY! Wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. Just finished another mug of raspberry leaf tea and preparing to go to bed for three hours of insomnia plus contractions (as per the last few nights). Feeling low, fragile, emotional.