Preparing for a Realistic Birth.

I’m not going to lie I spend a LOT of time at the moment thinking about Labour! I am 38 weeks pregnant baby’s head is engaged, my hospital bag is packed, my sister is on standby to babysit, we are ready to go whenever this lil munchkin calls time!! The thought of giving birth again fills me with both overwhelming anxiety and utter excitement. I have had three vaginal deliveries, I know I can push out a baby, I know how earth-stoppingly incredible it is when your baby emerges and you become a mummy for the first time or again. But I also know that I do not handle the pain of child-birth well; I have always wanted to manage on just gas and air and have always had to have pethidine to get me through the 2nd stage. I have always wanted a water birth or at least to be able to get into the birthing pool during labour and have always encountered some little complication which has prevented this. To be totally honest I have always felt like I haven’t remained in control during my labours and been left with a feeling of disappointment in myself.

This is my last baby, my last pregnancy and my very last labour, so what am I hoping to achieve? I am trying to prepare myself for a ‘realistic birth’. In an ideal world I would love to have a water birth. I imagine a really calm atmosphere, me in the birthing pool, just Rich and a midwife in the room maybe some music on and most importantly me feeling like I am in control. I would love to feel empowered in my labour; a strong, confident mama who believes in her own abilities to birth her baby!! But there is also the flip-side; what I don’t want. I don’t want to have a C-section the thought of being cut open completely freaks me out, I have the upmost respect for all the mums who go through that!! I don’t want to experience any significant complications in labour or to have to stay in hospital once the baby is born. The thought of being away from Archer when he is so young and extremely clingy still is a real worry for me. And possibly most obviously I want to birth a healthy baby.

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So going back to my 3 previous labours while no I haven’t achieved my “ideal birth” I have been incredibly fortunate to avoid all the things I’ve wanted to (aside from staying in hospital 2 nights with Archer because he was so tiny). I am incredibly grateful for having experienced 3 straightforward births which have produced 3 healthy babies. So with my last impending labour I am reminding myself of this. My one failing in my 3 previous labours has been feeling disappointed in myself; I am not going to allow myself to feel that after this labour because I struggled or cried or needed strong pain relief to get me through it. Labour is bloody hard work, it’s incredibly painful and at times totally overwhelming. No woman is less of a superhero because of the level pain relief they require to get through it. No woman is less of a heroin if she requires assistance in any form to make sure both herself and her baby stay safe and healthy. Just like the baby born every labour is unique it cannot be compared to any other labour. Whether you pushed out a baby with no pain relief at home, you had every drug available in hospital or your baby was delivered by C-section it’s irrelevant. You made and birthed a baby and that makes you one hell of a…….I couldn’t think of which world to use here that does it justice which is stupid because of course it’s Mother/Mama/Mummy.
Charlie xx

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Low Birth Weight Baby: My littlest love

As the arrival of baby number 4 is only weeks away we have been doing the standard get the baby clothes out of the loft for a good wash thing. Like all parents we started looking through the little baby vests and got that pang for how little our baby once was and how quick the time has gone. There are, however, a number of vests and baby grows in our box which aren’t little they are tiny. Because our Archer was really tiny when he was born. He weighed 4 lbs 14. Now Archer wasn’t a prem baby; he was born at full term, I was 39 weeks and a day. Ultimately Arch was healthy, something we are incredibly grateful for but having a low birth weight baby has brought some challenges for us and I wanted to share my experience for others mums who may go through this.

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Archer’s first vest, this was baggy!!

Firstly Archer was kept in hospital for 2 nights to keep an eye on his blood sugar levels; medical staff also insisted on giving him top-up formula feeds after I had feed him. This was difficult because as a family we weren’t really prepared for me and the baby to have to stay in hospital and I felt really guilty leaving my 2 older boys at home. In terms of feeding I knew he was feeding really well from me and I had committed to not letting him go longer than 2 hours without a feed because I wanted to exclusively breastfeed him myself. Yet the medical staff still insisted on the formula top-ups, I ultimately trusted their medical judgement but I didn’t feel that they way this is done is particularly supportive of the mother. A healthcare assistant came and sat on the end of my bed and fed Archer. Now I hold my hands up to being an insanely possessive mother but having a women I didn’t know feeding, cuddling and cooing over my new-born upset me.

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My big boys with one day old Archer in the hospital.

I don’t feel that having a low birth weight has affected Archer, he has developed totally in line with his age; he’s just always been small, on the 9th percentile for growth. The only area we have struggled with slightly is feeding. While he has always fed really well, he has been very sensitive to certain foods and suffered from reflux. While I was breastfeeding him I had to give up a number of foods because he just couldn’t tolerate them, including all spicy foods, cheese and coffee (coffee that was a killer for me exhausted mum of 3!!) Again when we weaned him he loved his food but he would get tummy aches after certain foods and we had to be very aware of what we gave him and try to keep an eye on what upset his little belly. There is of course no way of knowing if this was down to his low birth weight or not.

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My beautiful little baby boy with his Daddy

There are a number of reasons why a baby can have a low birth weight and the 3 main categories were explained to us as being some kind of infection during pregnancy, a health condition in baby or a fault in the placenta. We have never known the reason for Archer being so tiny, both him and me were healthy throughout pregnancy, no infection was ever picked up and they tested my placenta which all came back normal. As a mum of a low birth weight baby there are things I have found difficult. Firstly I had major mum guilt that I hadn’t done my ‘job’ properly in growing our baby. I worried that maybe other people thought I hadn’t eaten properly throughout my pregnancy or done something that had caused this. I do realise now that’s silly and I know none of my friends or family blamed me. Yet as a mum I did feel this sense of my body having failed in a way but the truth is it didn’t. You can do everything you’re meant to and sometimes things don’t go exactly as they should and not even the experts know why.

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Beautiful Boy, tiny but perfect

My advice to other mums who have a low birth weight baby; firstly the chances are there’s nothing you did wrong. Secondly you might not ever get an answer as to why it’s happened, and while this can be frustrating it’s also just life; us humans don’t know everything we forget that sometimes. Thirdly while you may face challenges with your baby because of their low birth weight so do all mums with their babies. These challenges simply vary, all babies are so wonderfully unique and that’s part of motherhood. It doesn’t seem to matter how hard or overwhelming we find things, we stand tall and face them down. There seems to be this unbelievable strength in us mothers when it comes to our children. Don’t forget that all you amazing mamas out there.

Charlie x

Baby Names

I love talking about baby names!! I can’t help it. I must drive my hubby insane because from the minute I know I’m pregnant that is all I want to discuss. It’s so exciting, with so much possibility. I wanted to share with you the little stories behind how each of our 3 boys got their names.

Starting with my eldest Finley, I was certain I was having a boy with Fin so we never settled on a girl’s name but we had Alfie picked out quite early on. That was until a lady I worked with told me her daughter had had a baby boy which they were going to call Finley but changed their minds when he was born. I really hadn’t heard the name Finley before this but as soon as I did I fell in love with the name. It means fair hero/warrior, which couldn’t be more fitting because Fin came along at a time when I felt lost in my life. He was my little hero and put me right on the path I was meant to be on. Now with Ethan I was snuggled up one evening watching ‘One Tree Hill’ like a proper grown up!! When the story line saw one of the main characters look after a baby that needed a serious heart operation and obviously the doctor who performed this was amazing and utterly gorgeous. After the operation he finally reveals his first name “Ethan” well that was it, that’s the name for my next son!! And if EB had turned out to be a girl we would have suck with the E and named him Eva. Then with bump number 3 we had our girl’s name all picked out; both Rich and I both loved Maggie. But I really struggled throughout my third pregnancy to find a boy’s name I loved as much as the other two. When I came up with Archer Rich wasn’t totally convinced. Now Archer’s labour actually started on Saturday the 21st of November, the last day under the Scorpio star sign. Sagittarius starts on the 22nd and is the centaur shooting an arrow. So I got Rich to agree that if the baby wasn’t born until the Sunday and was a boy we had to name him Archer. It would be a sign from the stars, and so it was.

There are so many things to consider when it comes to naming your baby: Will their name grow with them throughout their lives? Will their name pick up unwanted connotations? Does it work with their surname and other siblings names? Then when you have found your perfect baby name you have to get your other half to agree (which if he’s anything like mine is sometimes the hardest part!!) I can understand why some parents might find that responsibility overwhelming. But it is an incredible privilege, a gift from you that your child carries with them their whole life. A gift that you have deliberated about, desperate to get it right, desperate to find the ‘perfect name’ for your most precious entity. You give your child the title to their story.

Just for fun I have complied a list of my top 5 boy’s and girl’s names for our final instalment (I have broached the subject apparently 4 children is Rich’s limit haha!).

Girls
  1. Maggie
  2. Luna
  3. Winter
  4. Willow
  5. Quinn
Boys
  1. Noah
  2. Eli
  3. Lochlan
  4. Cooper
  5. Dexter

I would love to know what you guys think of them and if you have any other name suggestions please let me know, thank you.

Charlie.

Lets talk about Sex (after) Baby!!

OK so let’s rewind a little bit. Back to when we first met our spouses, before all the parenthood and responsibility got involved when it was just the two of you. When I met my husband what drew me to him was the way he looked, it was a physical attraction and I’m going to hazard a guess that’s the same for the majority of us. Now let’s go a little primal for a second; as grownups that very quickly turns into a sexual attraction, it’s an animal instinct. So you find someone sexy, they find you sexy, which often makes you feel sexy and then there’s a whole lot of sexy sex – we get it it’s all very sexy!!! Then those precious, life altering, little blessings otherwise known as our children come along and very often the sex makes a sharp exit out the door labelled ‘I’m sorry you’re a parent you don’t get to have fun anymore!!’ I want to shout “Wait!! Come back!!!!”I definitely did not sign the bit in the parenting contract where I agreed to give up my sex life!!

It seems to me there is a strong presumption that we women are the ones saying no to sex, that we simply have no need or desire for it. And that’s crap! It’s not that we don’t want to have sex but the reality is after having a baby it takes time for your body to heal, you’re exhausted and then there are all the physical and emotional changes to adjust to. The actual physical changes that your body goes through during and post pregnancy are immense; as the owner of that body your total lack of control is extremely difficult to adjust to. Don’t get me wrong being pregnant is an amazing gift, it’s what forges the incredible bond that you have with your child. You grew that baby; your body created that life, it sustained them, it protected them and it brought them into this world. But that doesn’t alter the fact that the entire process is also undeniably overwhelming. Compacted by the fact that our society continues to celebrate women based on a ‘smaller is better’ size scale; your newly enlarged figure can leave you feeling less Victoria secret model and more Mrs Potato-head in a bra.

So how do we get our sex lives back? While this undoubtedly takes two, (funny that!) both you and your partner have to work together. I honestly believe we as women have to take the first step in attempting to come to terms with the changes we have undergone physically and emotionally. And it’s important to point out these aren’t necessarily negative changes but any change requires adjustment. One of the biggest difficulties I have experience after having babies is regaining my confidence. Having seen my body change; the body that my husband fell in lust with, I no longer felt comfortable in my own skin, let alone sexy. Yet often it’s the smallest things which can start the ball rolling in making big differences. Half an hour in a bubble bath, a manicure, getting your hair done or just a bloody nap!! This isn’t about the way you look, it’s about the way you feel. It’s about acknowledging that you are important, that you deserve to be pampered and have time and money spent on you. Give yourself permission to be a priority, you do deserve it!!

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But let’s not forget those men, because they have such an integral part to play in all of this (and I don’t just mean the sex). If the men in our lives are also craving their sex lives back they need to do a little bit of leg work. So listen up fellas; men need to support their partners and build up their confidence as a whole. It’s not just about telling your spouse she looks beautiful, it’s about reassuring her that she’s doing an a amazing job in this all-consuming role of motherhood for which there is little preparation. It’s about encouraging her to take a break and coming to her aid when it all gets too much, because it does and it will. If you want to rediscover your passion as a ‘parent couple’ you have to adapt your relationship to fulfil the fresh needs of each other, now as parents. Remember to be patient with one another, it may simply take time and that’s OK. 

Being a mother shouldn’t prevent us from feeling like attractive, sexual women; the two don’t oppose each-other. You can be both. You are both. You can love and nurture your children, while also being passionate and intimate with your spouse. Being a mother is the very embodiment of womanhood but likewise so is your sexuality; your children wouldn’t exist without it. So embrace both; they are equally part of the incredibly beautiful, multifaceted experience which is being a woman.  

Charlie.

Some News

I really want to get back to this whole blog writing thing, so I thought why not kick things off by sharing some news I have been keeping (sort of) to myself……………Baby Holland number 4 is cooking!! Honestly writing baby number 4 gives me mild palpitations. I am very excited to be expecting another baby, although at the same time slightly terrified!! (totally normal right?)

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Apparently that’s a leg!!

I’m not sure how many of you will be surprised by this news but you might be wondering why go for number 4? Well there is quite a big gap between Ethan (no 2) and Archer (no 3), 6 years. Now the 2 older boys are incredibly close; they are without a doubt best friends, they share everything from their room to the hobbies to their secrets. Don’t get me wrong they still argue, Eb gets annoyed at Fin bossing him around and every now and then the brotherly love emotion boils over into full blown I’m going to wrestle you to death!! As a mum I feel incredibly blessed that they have such a great bond but at the same time I do worry that their relationship will only act to remind Archer what he doesn’t have.

I actually don’t think the greatest impact of Archer having or not having another sibling will be felt until he’s older. Right now it suits him down to the ground being the boss, I mean baby and having 2 big brothers to perform his every command!! I have no idea how Arch is going to react to having to share the limelight or his mummy when this baby comes along. The thing is, just as Archer is hitting the teenage years his big brothers will be at an age when they are likely to be heading out of the nest. So when Archer hits the age when his parents are ruining his life by asking how his day was, they’re who hes going to be stuck with. And I don’t want him to feel lonely during what for a lot of kids is a really hard, confusing time. I want him to have that confidant, that source of consolation and when things are really shit that person to beat the hell out of – all the things a sibling is.

There are of course all the worries that goes with having 4 children. My hubby is the practical one, he worries about finances and whether the car is big enough. You know ‘Man stuff’. We do have a 7 seater but he’s looking into mini-vans (I’m not driving a bloody mini-van and trying to park it!!) I’m not sure how many children he thinks we’re having, I promise I’m only cooking 1 and this is the last one!!

I’m worrying about whether or not each of our children will get the time and attention they need and deserve. Will the older 2 boys feel overlooked because of the all too obvious demands of a toddler and baby? But then when I’m panicking that my children will feel unloved and resent their noisy, hand-me-down, make do childhood I remember all the positives. I love watching my boys play together, I love watching them grow up and develop their characters. I love my home being full of laughter and that wholly unique and utterly insane perspective of the world which only children have. And for them; they will out-number us 2:1, they will always have the upper-hand!! Yes it’s hard and I’m pretty sure its about to get a whole lot harder but ultimately I love being a mum.

So my 3 beautiful boys are going to have to make space for one more sibling in the picture and in their lives.

Charlie.