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Big changes about to happen in the world of BB. She is reaching out and trying to pull herself up on everything, even in the bath. She’s a wriggly rolly girl who is extra pleased at her new found angles and frustrated at the same time about the angles she can’t quite reach. The percentage of time spent smiling and laughing in a day is considerably higher than before. Go BB!

No let-up on the early morning poo front, sadly. I have been trying to alter the pattern with what I give her to eat, but no change yet. Every morning at around 4.30 – 5.00 like clockwork. Waa waa waaaaa! Good morning, my smelly daughter.

Right now she is having a nap. I love these days where the two naps are a good hour and a half. (Doesn’t happen that often) Hopefully that means she will be a happy bubbly girl till bedtime and sleep well tonight. That’s the theory.

This morning we went on the tube with the sling to the music shop where I used to work. We got some guitar strings for a great kid’s size guitar I found in the charity shop on my road for next to nothing. It got a bit too late to head home for lunch so we sat outside a café and shared a jacket potato with tuna. She spoke to passers by in her ‘ledledledl’ language. They spoke back. Its so much fun now I can feed her proper food. And on the way back, she drank out of a straw for the first time. How exciting a person’s life is, when it is full of firsts.

Another first is hurtling towards us – we have got her passport and on Saturday we are taking her out of the country. On a ferry to France. With her teenage half brother. Oh, but there’s so much to DO! And when BB’s awake, no time in which to do it. As I write, she is sweetly playing in her cot, I’ve been listening to her slowly waking up on the monitor for the last ten minutes. What a cutie. Better post this now.

By the way, her bike seat was a roaring success. I took her into town and she squealed with excitement all the way there and back.


Parents tentative at first, baby looking like the cat who got the cream. This is going to be so much more fun than pushing a buggy. Trips are being planned. I wonder if you can get a mirror to check in in on babe – or whether it’s best in any case to just concentrate on what’s in front of you!

10 months have passed since that exhausted cosy morning, and I guess that’s a good summing up of life with our baby – Exhausting and cosy. She carried on guzzling and soon transformed from the skinny, furry one into the chubby, round, pink one. Day and night melted into each other and formed one incoherent, sleepless haze. Now having obsessively read countless books and web pages I recognise my child as one who ‘resists sleep’. 10 months and 50,000 books later I’d say we’re just about sorting it. Just trying to convince her now that 4 a.m. is not morning, and definitely not time to have a poo.

She has many nicknames, Coco-le-Schmo, Geggy McSmeggy, Smeggles, Poopy, Boobles lasted a while, but there was one coined by Dad when she was sitting in his arms as a tiny lump. He looked down and said, ‘Blibiblob’. It has stuck and the whole family call her some permutation of it. Blibs, Blob, Blibi. So for the purpose of this blog she shall henceforth be known as BB.

BB was born with a fuzzy head of very dark hair which she then proceeded to rub off, initially till from the back it looked like she was wearing a Toupee. Exhibit A:

Then went further till just one little collection of strands remained that even our wriggly, resist-sleepy baby couldn’t get to. This remained a long dark lock and the rest of her hair grew back a sandy blonde.

I’m amazed every day at this almost unbearable, impossible mother love which just grows and grows and threatens to swamp everything else. I remember a friend telling me about it after the birth of her third child, that there’s ‘nothing like it’, but I didn’t understand till it happened to me. How can you imagine something like that? Now her behaviour is getting more and more complex, she has an infinite number of smiles and the one that she shows on recognition of me swells my heart till it nearly bursts.

The other over-arching theme of a new baby is responsibility. You can’t have any time off (especially breastfeeders!), you can’t have a lie in, you can’t stop because you’re ill, it is endless. Baby comes first every time. It has got a lot easier, but the question that has followed everything I’ve done for BB  since that first morning and probably now till the day I die is – ‘Did I do the right thing?’

BB on her birthday.

I got my first proper contraction at about 11pm. Then another a few minutes later. Then another. What happened to the slow build-up when you have to preserve your energy and rest between contractions? We were diligently timing them, but they were just coming thick and fast. I got in the bath, Dad called the midwife who told him to call an hour later and see how we got on.

I had my home-made flapjacks, salted peanuts, orange juice, Lucozade sport and other snacks for me, Dad and the midwife out on the kitchen table. We put a futon mattress covered with dust sheets, then soft blankets on the floor in the living room. On this I had my two big cushions and gym ball to lean on. A pile of clean towels on the table, low lights throughout the house.

I can’t remember well enough to describe how the contractions felt, but I know the pain was in my lower back as I could cope with them as long as Dad was massaging the base of my spine.

Dad duly called the midwife again at 12 and she said she was on her way.  Breathing out slowly an imagined golden thread (yoga teacher’s advice) wasn’t doing it for me anymore and I realised that a long audible sigh helped control the pain. These long audible sighs carried on through the night, and transformed into long, extremely audible bellows. If I heard myself getting too high pitched I forced the pitch lower, stopping myself losing control. I think it was the thought of losing control that scared me most. What scared Dad the most was the time spent waiting for the midwife to arrive, she eventually appeared at 2am. Those two hours were very long for him. For me they whizzed by. I was concentrating on not losing it.

She examined me, I was 4 cms dilated. I was really pleased. But then hours went past – I divided my time between the cushions, the loo and the bath, contractions getting stronger and stronger, poor old Dad following me around, not allowed any time off. There was no change, the baby had hardly moved.

I remember the midwife needed me on my back for examinations, which was unbearably painful and almost impossible during the contractions which were relentless. There was no time to eat or drink anything and towards the morning I was becoming exhausted.

I wasn’t aware of it at the time, but afterwards the midwife told me the baby had been facing the wrong way, ‘back to back’. That was why it hurt so much in my lower back and also why the baby hadn’t budged. She had to turn first before she could come down. The midwife was concerned she wouldn’t turn, but eventually she did, and after many hours of contractions and no movement I think she came down for the final stage quite quickly (I think!)

When I did my stints in the bathroom, the midwife didn’t follow us in there, so me and Dad (and baby) were on our own. Dad recalls – and I do too – that about halfway through my labour, I was sitting in the bath and I said to him, ‘I don’t think I can do this again’. I think I felt that I could cope with it as long as I knew I never had to go through it ever again! I also recall one time a contraction started and Dad didn’t immediately jump to massage me. He was sitting right next to me, but I let out a loud, long and desperate, ‘WHERE ARE YOU?!’

The midwife said I would feel the baby get lower but I didn’t really feel any change. I kept looking down at my enormous belly thinking what a physical impossibility it was for the contents of that belly to get through where they had to get through. Then suddenly she was apparently a lot lower and I was being urged to push.

The impossibility of my big, round unaltered belly remained and this little babe was having trouble coming out. I had almost reached a state of total exhaustion. Even when the midwife told me to reach down and feel the emerging baby’s head, all furry, it just seemed to reinforce the impossibility of the whole thing. I think I was there for about 45 minutes with baby’s head half-way out. It was EXCRUTIATING! No sign of the gas and air that I had been promised. I remember saying ‘I can’t do it’, several times, and the midwife saying, ‘you have to’. I was squatting, supported by Dad who was sitting behind me. When a contraction came, the midwife told me to push, and Dad with his head behind mine was pushing with me. Eeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaauuuuuuunnnnnnnnnnnnnggghhhh! Afterwards I commended him on this good idea of his which I had found very encouraging, and he said he wasn’t aware at the time that he was doing it!

The midwife laid an assortment of terrifying looking scissors on the floor just in front of my intimate parts. Sweet Jesus! (Throughout my upbringing, my mother had put the fear of God into me about the dreaded episiotomy). The midwife said, ‘you’re not pushing enough, and for long enough.’ It felt like I couldn’t possibly do more. Then she said, ‘Be angry.’ I wasn’t feeling anything like anger, but somehow this helped me understand what I needed to do. So at the end of each push when it felt like I couldn’t do any more, I screamed at the top of my lungs and gave it everything I had. This is how I managed it, and at 7.17 am, we became three as a tiny girl at last slithered out into the universe and came up for a cuddle.

Dad had tears in his eyes and I think the first thing I said to my daughter was, ‘I knew you were furry’. She still had fur on her back, shoulders and ears. The midwife cut the umbilical cord with a pair of the terrifying scissors. Baby was handed over to Dad, and I was guided over to the sofa to rest. It was a dark, peaceful morning, the world was just waking. The gas fire was on, I watched the midwife weigh the baby and dress her tiny form in a vest, babygrow and hat to preserve her body heat. She had been through a lot waiting to be born. I had used up every last bit of energy in my body. I couldn’t sit up without blacking out. The baby was brought to me, I rolled onto my side. She was placed on my breast and at once began to suckle. When the midwife wanted her to change sides, I couldn’t really get up enough to turn around, so the baby was placed on a pillow and commenced feeding from the upper deck. She lay there, a tiny, skinny, furry body in suit and hat hungrily nibbling on her exhausted, naked mother who was drifting in and out of dreams.

So that was my homebirth. No tricky travelling to and from hospital, just the peace of familiar surroundings. The midwife left us with our new tiny person and we transferred to the bed and spent all day there.  I didn’t get the rush of euphoria I had read and been told about at the point of birth. I was physically and mentally shattered. The sight of my daughter provoked a calm wonder in me. It wasn’t till a lot later when I sang to her in bed and she fell asleep that I got my tears of joy.

A few hours after the birth another midwife came to see us, then another the next day. Oh and I forgot this detail – our midwife did come back that day and while she was here, she started looking around the room and asked, ‘did I leave the placenta here?’ We said we hadn’t seen it. Later, we found it in a bucket with a lid on that I had got ready but never needed. When we saw her again, we didn’t mention it, and she didn’t ask!

dmc@dressmecaroline.com; cathmeir@hotmail.com; artygerty@hotmail.com; carey.catherine@yahoo.co.uk; celia.kent@classicfm.net

My lovely American friend (the one who got married) made this animation for Bubble.

Its been a while, but I’ve been busy. The following is what happens when you’re looking for things in other people’s trousers. This is a summary of my journey to the other side.

Dec

Got married on a snowy day when unbeknownst to us, there was the tiniest twinkle that made us three in total standing there instead of two.

Jan

I’m pregnant! Here began the constant weetabix eating, the copious snacks taken on every journey, the early nights, the slumping in a heap of nausea and exhaustion.

Voiced that I’d always fancied a home birth if ever I was to have a baby. Dad not keen, decided on birth centre as halfway house.

Feb

This is the coldest winter ever and I feel sick- but my boobs are growing and sex is great!

Watched an energetic thing the size of a newt jumping up and down and spinning around. Dad thought he saw a little willy.

12 weeks came and went, no sign of an end to winter or nausea.

March

The first antenatal class. It was a ‘look after yourself’ one that the partners weren’t invited to. Very good and informative, not the pointless waste of time I was convinced it was going to be. When the nurse asked if we had any questions, a woman put her hand up and said, ‘when will I have to stop lifting things? I’m not sure how long I can do my job.’ The nurse replied, ‘that depends what you are lifting, what do you do?’ and the woman replied (bearing in mind we are pretty much in central London), ‘I’m a blacksmith’. Straight up! I kid you not. Nobody laughed, but I bet like me they were all laughing inside.

Last gig with the band that changed my life, Gabby Young and Other Animals. Emotions running wild.

Sang in a lunchtime concert with the chamber choir, Tredici. The last one for me for a while.

There is one band where being pregnant was never an issue, I was in the majority as two-thirds of us were pregnant. The Mange Tout Mamas! We played at the TUC building where we rounded off an International Women’s Day event with a rousing chorus of ‘We are Family’. Indeed.

When out on my bike, I used to think of the small developing thing that was travelling with me. It struck me that for these months, whatever I was doing, I was never alone. I would feel the baby’s presence keenly when I was cycling, or in the warm seclusion of a bath. It was on my bike when I was ruminating on a fact which I’d read that at this point the baby had see-through skin. The lyrics of a song began to formulate around this in my head.

Talking of reading things, I was forever looking at week-by-week pregnancy guides in various books people had leant me, on different websites and the freebies I got from the hospital. It was exciting to find out what was going on in there, and I hungrily lapped up all the information I could get my hands on. But it had its drawbacks, like being told ‘by now you should be feeling a whole lot better’ when you feel awful, and the point at which they say you should be feeling your baby move. I felt nothing till a good few weeks after they told me I would. I was impatient for the sensation and started to worry, which of course was completely pointless and when it happened it was wonderful.

Played in Claire Benjamin‘s night, ‘Electric Lady Lounge’ along with a trumpeter and saw player. Fay Presto was the headline act, and she told my favourite joke of 2010.

‘I asked my niece what she wanted for her birthday. She replied, “an Action Man for my Barbie”. I told her, “Barbie doesn’t come with Action Man, she comes with Ken”. “No,” she said, “Barbie fakes it with Ken, she comes with Action Man.”‘

Boom boom!

I noticed that when you go out for a night where you would usually be necking back the booze, and you stay completely sober, you kind of feel a little tipsy anyway, with the vibe of the people around you. I returned home late all wired and full of stories, and had to convince Dad I had only had water all night.

16 weeks came and went, no sign of an end to winter or nausea.

April

I’m getting fatter!

Loved lying quiet and still on my back, waiting for little movements and kicks.

Choir trip to Madrid singing Beethoven’s 9th –  last concert with the Philharmonia Chorus for a while. Sat right behind the French horns hoping baby would hear, knowing it would feel vibrations. First proper heat of the year. Lovely. Slightly overdid walking through the city in a balmy evening with my super-fit friend. The next day every muscle in my body ached.

The 14th – a big day. We saw our lazy baby take a big yawn on screen. No little willy. Its a girl!

20 weeks came and went, nausea lifted, the skies cleared. Thank God, thank God. Goodbye sickness!

Hello mega heartburn.

May

Fatter still, starting to feel ungainly. The only time when I felt normal, free and healthy was when I was whizzing along on my bike. My daily routine involved quite a lot of this back then. People began to have concerns and I was constantly having to explain myself. But not everyone was doomy. Some thought it was sensible and impressive!

Baby seems to get hiccups every morning.

Took part in the recording of Tricity Vogue’s album, ‘The Blue Lady Sings.’

Recorded some music for my friend’s wedding in the US (accordion now quite heavy on my bump. Remember that, girls – if you get pregnant it will hamper your ability to play accordion – THINK TWICE) and wrote a round for her congregation to sing as she and her groom arrived. I made a recording of this to send to her guests so they could learn it. An angel in the form of a friend of hers who is also a composer made it happen. They had three conductors, no less! The result is on youtube, I was proud of them all.

After lots of reading, started to think about homebirth again. Wasn’t sure if Dad could be persuaded though.

June


Played in the last Tricity Vogue Slinktet gig. Enjoyed playing the part of a jilted lover for one of the songs in my rotund state.

Gave half my pupils away to another piano teacher. A weight off my shoulders. Things are getting serious now!

Antenatal classes. A large number of pregnant people (I wonder what the collective term is?) and partners crammed into a stiflingly hot room, having to sit still and take in two hours of information. But all the talk of the importance of a calm environment and this phrase from the midwife – ‘Giving birth is a state of mind’ made Dad comment afterwards that maybe a homebirth is not such a bad idea. Hooray!

July

Its official – I want to have a homebirth. I want to be in intimate familiar surroundings and not have to make a trip outdoors halfway through my labour. I asked the midwife at my check-up who said someone would ring me. ‘They’re very keen to find people who want a homebirth’. I wait but no one rings. I ring and ring different numbers from on my notes, leave messages, people promise I’ll get a call back. I don’t. How frustrating.

Played at my mum’s exhibition in Brick Lane with Kath Tait. As I was pregnant and she was menopausal, she suggested we call ourselves ‘Hormonal Imbalance’. Great to play with Kath again, and to get some guitar in before things change. My girl is having the widest range of music to float around to!

Recorded my song, ‘Bubble’ which was inspired by the thought of a tiny girl with the see-through skin.

August

 

I finally made contact and met my midwife – a very sweet, very laid-back West Indian Lady. She will now come to see me at home every week till we give her the call that the show has begun. Very exciting.

I’m cleaning everything, I’m putting up shelves, I’m painting dodgy bits of wall, I’m doing my tax, I’m sewing spongy underlay on the back of the living room rug, I’m making flapjacks, I’m washing and sorting into sizes a HUGE bundle of baby clothes I’ve been given from my friend with five kids who are all under seven years old.

Gave myself groin strain by reaching for something high up, one foot on a wicker chair, the other on a slightly higher, wobbly table. The stupidity of it was made more so by the fact I’d already been warned in no uncertain terms about it months ago by a friend on the choir tour. Her pregnant sister had got groin strain previously and she didn’t stop badgering me about it. Then I went swimming thinking it would help, but it made it worse and I had to just stop moving for two days. ‘Idiot’, I told myself. ‘so far along without a hiccup and then you go and arse things up this close to the birth’. It was painful, but it didn’t last.

Due date came, due date went.

September

Come on already! Baby was still no-where near engaged. Every week I had seen the midwife and confidently said, ‘I think her head is engaged’ – ‘no, it isn’t’. Poo. Dad’s off work. We’re doing long walks, I’m eating curry.

This pretty addition leant to me by a friend which I placed at the foot of my bed greeted me emptily every morning. It did not help my state of mind!

I’m bombarded with texts and emails asking for any news. There is no news, I’m in limbo. Bets are placed on various dates which all sail by uneventfully. I wanted her to have the birthday 8/9/10. She didn’t. On the 9th, we went for a waddle round Kew Gardens. I no longer believed I was going to have a baby at all. Later that night….