A post for posterity

Thing 2 has arrived, at 9:37 on 21st May, and we have decided to call her Matilda Jane. With that and James, I guess people could be forgiven for thinking that we’re Roald Dahl fanatics, though that thought only occurred to me later.

Suddenly my little microbe looks like a giant – and I’m reminded once again that newborn babies’ heads smell like toasted nuts.

Here’s a pic from this morning. Imagine spending your days like this…


Suffice to say I have already pic-spammed Facebook with this sort of thing…

Her Hawaiian Tropics colouring is due to the fact that she has jaundice. Apparently this will go away by itself as a result of breastfeeding and daylight so there’s every possibility she’ll take on her mother’s deathly pallor in a few weeks’ time.

Meanwhile we’re all busy playing the ‘who does she look like?‘ game, which comes up with varied answers depending on what face she’s pulling. In repose, she occasionally looks like James as a baby – other times not at all. Sometimes when she’s awake I see a resemblance to her daddy, albeit without the ears – but others have suggested a newborn resemblance to Natalie, Helena and Uncle Alistair. Lets face it, the honest truth is that a lot of the time she looks like the unholy love child of Ena Sharples and Mrs Overall. (We’re just a tad less inclined to get the camera out for those gurning faces.)

This week has passed in a sort of surreal baby-fug. Mostly spent trapped under the girlbot while trying to enjoy a 3-day weekend with James, without him feeling overlooked or ignored. That’s easier said than done. By the bank holiday, it felt like we were descending into a stir-crazy domestic chaos, with James getting out toys, books, stickers and mess at 3x the speed and frequency with which G and I could put it all away. Thank god for a blessed play date yesterday, which he really enjoyed. Now he’s back at nursery and it’s amazing how much calmer and easier everything is. I’ve actually been able to tidy up a bit and write this blog post, for a start.

As for the op, I felt oddly nervous on the day but all went well – and the first day/night in hospital felt very similar to last time. You really lose all sense of time. I think it’s a combination of being unable to leave the bed in a searingly hot ward where the lights are on all day and night – and where something medical apparently needs to happen every hour on the hour…  hence you’re either feeding the baby or someone is giving you pills or checking your blood pressure or taking a blood sample (at 3am? Why?).  The rest of the time I dozed, on and off, amid the moans and whimpers of fellow patients begging for painkillers. Of the four ladies on my ward, I think I must have got off lightly. (Any doubts I had about my birth plan went out of the window when I had to listen to the woman next to me being counselled about her 3rd degree tearing – gargh!)

The next morning G brought James in to meet his sister, and it was just lovely to see him. He’s really in love with the baby and has been an absolute sweetheart about the whole thing.

Afterwards I had to hang around in bed for quite a few hours before we ticked enough boxes to be discharged – but we made it home in the afternoon, which was great.

As for the baby, she is now 5 days old and I’m waiting for a midwife visit, where I expect she’ll be prodded, pricked and weighed. Hopefully all will be well on the weight front. She was 6lb 13oz at birth, and seems to be a good eater (though there is easily as much coming out of the other end as there is going in).

Last night was the first time since her birth that I was able to put her down to sleep in her bedside crib.  She actually slept for a blessed 5 hours – hallelujah! Prior to that, she’s been feeding every 1-2 hours and has objected within seconds every time I put her down, even when she was already fast asleep. Hence I’ve had to cuddle her all night long with me propped up in bed against the pillows.

Oh, the joys of breastfeeding. Seriously – how come none of the how-to articles ever depict the mother biting down on a twig? It would be far more realistic than the dreamy depictions of mother and baby in boob-related bliss.

As I recall, James was fed largely to a soundtrack of groaning and shrieking.  I suppose if I’m honest it’s not quite that bad with Matilda. This time around I don’t have any visible war wounds but, dear god, the first week has had its moments. On the positive side, I think it’s already starting to get a bit easier, and some credit may be due to these silver hub caps, which I’ve been wearing since day one.  Unfortunately they’re obscenely moulded and make me look like I’m wearing a pair of giant comedy fake boobs under my clothing but… after last time, I reckoned that anything was worth a try.

I showed them to the midwife on day 2 and she was not disparaging about them and, as I say, things seem to be a bit better than with James, so I shall keep on with them and see how we go. Apologies, as ever, for the TMI.

Other than that I feel generally pretty good. My painkillers run out today, but I think that’s ok. Also (I’m afraid to type it without touching wood) but I seem to have escaped the despairing descent into day-3 baby blues this time around.  Last time I was a mess… I wonder why this one is different? Hmmm…

Well that’s all I can think of right now but I’m sure there are a hundred more rambles on their way imminently – and I’m getting quite adept at typing one-handed.

PS – I need to come up with a new blog name. Suggestions on a postcard, please…

Posted in Along came Matilda, Life of James, Pregnancy & Birth | 3 Comments

The day after tomorrow

It’s a little bit weird knowing the exact day that you’re going to give birth. Certainly a different experience from last time. In 48 hrs I will, theoretically, be holding Thing 2 in my arms. I don’t know why I feel so calm about it really, I seem to lack either anxiety or excitement – I’m just feeling uber-relaxed and sanguine about it all.  G appears to feel more or less the same – all of his anxiety is reserved for getting through a ton of work before she arrives, rather than the arrival itself.

However I think the mental hormones are really starting to kick in. I can’t be allowed near anything remotely tear-jerking right now (e.g. had to re-do my mascara yesterday after listening to In The Ghetto by Elvis). Also I’m looking kind of puffy and weird all over. G and I held hands yesterday on the way back from his birthday lunch and he told me that it felt like holding a stranger’s hand, because my fingers are swollen and fatter than usual.  Same goes for my feet (good god, how I yearned to take my shoes off) and even my nose looks a bit puffy and swollen this week. Suffice to say none of my extremities are at their most attractive.

Thing 2 hardly seems to be moving at all lately – I keep having to prod and tap and jiggle the bump until I get a reaction… just to be sure that she’s alive in there.  I imagine it’s pretty annoying, from her perspective – especially as she was probably asleep and is really cramped up in there. But never mind.

Today I had my last pre-op appointment, where they took blood samples and told me what to expect. I have pills to take the night before and again at 6am on the big day – and after that it’s nil by mouth. I have to be at the labour ward at 7:15am… and, as long as no emergencies occur that bump me down the queue, my procedure could apparently start as early as 8:30am and finish around 2pm.

That elapsed timing sounds WAY longer than last time. I swear the whole business of getting James out and sewing me back up was done in the space of an hour. But, then again, it was an emergency procedure and I was already hooked up to an epidural, which probably made everything go quicker.  I guess I’ll just have to wait and see what happens on Thurs. I’ve been told that, all being well, they’ll send me home between 24 and 48 hours after the op. I’m kind of hoping for 24 on the dot, but I suppose I’d better pack for the possibility of 48.

Oh, packing…  why is it such a drag to do? It’s on my to-do-list for today, along with eternal laundry loads and a range of weird and wonderful things that you feel compelled to do before going in for a procedure…  like epilating to within an inch of your life, buying flowers for the house, cutting your fingernails short, removing nail varnish and (in my case) cutting my own hair.

That last one is actually a freak occurrence. I’ve been meaning to get it done before the birth but have been too feckless and disorganised to arrange an appointment. So, this morning, I thought what the hell and lopped a few inches off the ends with my super-expensive dressmaking scissors and – actually – I think I did an ok job. As far as I can tell it doesn’t really look any different to when I get it done at a salon.  (I may well be kidding myself – hence I shall be asking a reliable friend to check whether it also looks ok from the back or is in fact a heinous hatchet job!)

As for Thing 1, I have a feeling his intense excitement about the baby may have burned out several weeks ago, but he is nevertheless looking forward to the big day. He still talks to the baby often and insists on kissing the bump goodnight every evening, and telling her that he loves her, which is v sweet.  But I do fear that he’s going to be mighty disappointed by the reality…

In preparation, he’s been given the responsible role of cat monitor. His job is to make sure that the cats are not allowed in our bedroom at any time or on any of the baby’s stuff.  He’s taken to it very well and is currently doing an obsessive job of keeping our bedroom door closed and shooing cats away as and when needed. He’s also fully expecting to be my little helper for nappies and is aware that his other important job is to make sure that his 8,000 tiny animal toys are not allowed anywhere near his sister. Here’s hoping that one lasts. (In the meantime we have entered into talks with carpenter Pops about the possibility of a wooden box with a lid for secure storage of 8,000 tiny plastic choking hazards.)

The boybot had his first visit to his future school on Saturday as it was their May Fair. It was a hell of a lot more impressive than the school fairs G and I remember from our youth… (e.g. they had huge bouncy castles and a go-karting track and a Back To The Future show being run by a minor celebrity dad).

Early on I started to worry that it had been a mistake to take the boy along – I think we underestimated how freaked out and intimidated he might be by the profusion of ferocious 10-year-old boys that were racing about and play fighting and hogging every fairground game. But I think his intimidation eased somewhat when we took him to the part of the school for reception children and he saw his future classroom and all of the children’s bags on pegs, just like they have at nursery. He also had a rummage in a box of books that he liked the look of and saw the separate, secure playground for the 4 and 5 year olds. Since then G and I have had a letter inviting us to a series of school meetings ahead of him starting reception, so I expect we’ll learn more as we go on about how best to prepare them.

Eep! A seriously loud hail storm has started outside…  it’s hard to carry on typing while the window beside me sounds like it’s being battered by marbles. So I shall say goodbye for now and – y’know – see you on the other side…


Posted in Life of James, Pregnancy & Birth | 1 Comment

The meanest cat in old Twickenham town

Whoo! I slept until 9:50 this morning! An unprecedented lie-in. I can remember looking at my clock around 2-ish, 4-ish and 6-ish, and thinking each time about giving in and getting up – but I must have zonked back into a coma at some point.

Usually James comes and bounces about on me at 7-ish and prises my eyelids open and asks me to sort out his bottom or get him dressed for nursery or something, but I think G must have intervened today. Blessings on him!

crib1In other news, I think we’re now technically ready with everything we need for Thing 2, even though G and I would both really prefer to postpone her arrival for another 6 months or so.

Yesterday I indulged in 1/2 hour of flatpack glee and put together the bedside crib.  It’s almost identical to the one we had for James, which was a god-send for night feeding.

crib2I’ve assembled it on it’s smallest setting for now but it can be expanded to a larger mattress if she gets too big for it. Also we can lower the mattress/raise the sides once she’s old enough to roll about or sit up. I’m not sure whether or not to bother with the canopy – it looks so much smaller and less obtrusive in my bedroom without it. Hmmm.

For naps, we’ve also got a lovely little moses basket on a rocking stand in the living room, which was donated to us by one of our NCT friends. So – suffice to say – Thing 2 has plenty of places to sleep.  Lets just hope that she’s more prone to doing so than her brother ever was.

Speaking of whom…  he had a fun weekend and seemed to be wearing his angel pants for the whole of it, despite both of us feeling a bit under the weather. I lugged him around some Spring fairs as promised and he had a playdate with some of his little NCT pals, which always makes him happy. And we bought several nice books and he met “the REAL Elsa” …bless!

Erin and James with Elsa

Getting their faces painted seems to be their favourite thing ever right now and, as usual, Jimmy begged to be a boar or a warthog but had to make do with being a leopard.

The lady who did the face painting was amazing! After our interminable experience the other week I was braced for an eternal queue of doom, but this woman rocketed through children at unfeasible speed. I swear she banged out each child’s full face paint in less than a minute, creating a butterfly or a big cat using a few fast dabs of a sponge and some deft, confident strokes of a paintbrush.

I thought Jimmy’s leopard face was really impressive, albeit a bit scary-looking. His pal Leo was done up as a brilliant and more mild-mannered tiger. I tried to take some progress pics as a reminder and I swear I have to look twice at some of these pics to work out who’s who – James and Leo have always been peas in a pod.

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Anyway, inspired as I always am by people who are good at things, I now have a desire to get better at face painting. I reckon it would be a fun little treat to do on summer weekends, though it’s not a skill that I have very high hopes for. My previous halloween-themed attempts on the boy have always turned out a bit ropey and I found an eyeliner pencil to be much more forgiving than face paints when I did his Mr Fox whiskers. But anyway I’ve ordered some proper sponges and an instruction book from Amazon. (Not that it will include a warthog – tsk).

In bump news, I’ve had a few occasions lately of tummy-doom – or mega-intense feelings in the lower bump, usually late in the evening, and thinking “uh-oh…  not yet!”  but it’s always a false alarm. I guess it must be braxton hicks or something, though I never had those with James so was unprepared for them. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Thing 2 will just stay put until her scheduled date next week as I really don’t want her coming any earlier.

Also it’s G’s birthday before then and we’d love to squeeze in one last evening out – or a long, lazy birthday lunch at one of our local restaurants…

On a similar note, I’ve planned a birthday party for the boybot. Having decided a while back that there’s no way I’m doing a repeat of last year’s colossal but shonky efforts, especially with Thing 2 there to hinder me, we’ve gone for a ready-made woodland-themed party for him at a lovely local venue. We’re running it as a shared party with a little girl from nursery whose birthday is a week apart from his, which works out brilliantly from a financial point of view, especially as they have the same circle of friends. The other mum has offered to do the food and my job is to do the party bags and balloons. That I can manage.

However – woe is me- I also have the job of hand-writing the invitations, which I ought to do today, really. But – I don’t know what my problem is with hand-writing cards – I’d rather do pretty much anything other than this. I’d rather be working down a mine, or cleaning the loo, or gouging my eyes out or something. But never mind, I shall grit my teeth and put on a rousing rendition of We Shall Overcome

Last, but not least, I’m still having dreamy thoughts about that house in Taunton. G even went and had a look around it last weekend and said it is just as lovely – if not more so – than it looks in the pics. The only down sides are a small back garden (courtyard style) and the fact that Taunton is 8 gazillion miles away from London. Hmm. The trouble with falling in love is that you tend to throw those sort of rational objections out of the window with never a second thought.

Given the hopelessness of our timing right now, what’s most likely to happen is that someone else will nab it while I’m laid up on milkmaid duty and I’ll pout and moan about it and then G and I will drift along for several more months until we either bite the bullet and do up our loft or find another unfeasible house of romantic gorgeousness in the sticks to drool over.  Only time will tell…

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50 shades of meh

So tired of…

  • Not sleeping
  • Not being allowed any useful medications
  • Getting back-ache from 5 minutes of ironing
  • Wanting to sit down after 5 minutes of walking anywhere
  • The direct correlation between fervour to sort the house out and lack of energy to do it
  • Post-election navel gazing (I really need to turn off the talking voices now)

I had to go to hosp yesterday for an MRSA screening in prep for the c-section. They only wanted a nasal swab and it was over in 5 minutes, but I swear that 5-minute appointment has somehow given me a lurgy. Ever since I got back home I’ve been totally blocked up and completely unable to breathe except through my mouth…  and hence even less able to sleep. It’s driving me MAD!

I’ve reached the stage of tiredness in which I’m a domestic hazard who forgets to turn hobs off and ruins loads of laundry.

Can you really not have a Lemsip at 37 1/2 weeks?  Alas, the internet tells me no. (Do I trust the internet?)

And how come it’s such a grey day today? What happened to our spring sunshine?

I hope it picks up a bit as I’m planning to entertain the Microbe this weekend by taking him to a series of May fairs on local greens. Last year I gave him some coins to spend and he had a whale of a time buying book and toy tat from stalls. I hope he manages not to come home with an enormous toy crocodile this time.

tauntonG is going to be away helping Natalie & co with their house-move to Taunton. He’s also started pimping Taunton houses at me… like this dreamy 5-bedroom pad that costs less than a 2-bedroom flat in our road.

If ever there was a time to appeal to one’s nesting instinct… I’ve been in fantasy house mode for days. (Hmm. Do I really want a one-way ticket to a town I know nothing about and have never even visited?)


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Urg. Just over 2 weeks to go… and I feel totally unready in every possible way.

It’s not just the domestic stuff (woe to the fact that I have failed to redecorate the flat!)  It’s the emotional stuff too. As long as Thing 2 stays in there she is a conceptual being and remains very easy to look after. But once she comes out I’ll turn into a crazed hormonal teary person all over again…  and sometimes G and I just can’t imagine having enough love and affection left to spare for a whole ‘nother person on top of The Microbe.

I suppose these are pretty common fears.

At least I’ve finally got round to ordering newborn size nappies from Ocado …and have started to think about what to put in my hospital bag, It’s slightly different with a c-section (e.g. I won’t be bothering with a labour playlist or a TENS machine this time) but otherwise most of the stuff that people recommend packing is the same.  A friend of mine had a a c-section in the same hospital last year and told me that, these days, they like to send you home after 24 hours – which is great news. I remember DYING to come home last time, just for want of a lovely shower and to get changed, as it felt like I’d been in there forever.

She also told me that, with the second c-section, they cut out the old scar and join up the skin on either side of it to make a new one. Hooray for an unexpected nip and tuck! I was fearful that I’d end up with an even less appealing scar than the one I’ve already got. It never did fade into that invisible silver line that that the midwives predicted, but still looks like someone drew on me with a pink sharpie.

I sometimes wonder whether I’ve made the right decision re: the whole caesarian thing… especially it turns out that Thing 2 is not going to be such a scary heffalump as first thought. But – I reckon it’s best to stick to the plan now – and it does at least take away any stress of uncertainty.

I’m still itching to get on and build the crib for our bedroom… but first I have to complete the penance of clearing out and reshuffling some drawer space. Groan.  Also nesting is doing weird things to me this week. I can’t stop making unnecessary pillowcases and pointless quilts that Thing 2 won’t even have a use for until she’s about 2 years old…

And the Lakeland website has suddenly taken on an almost pornographic allure – I keep looking lustfully at things like clothes airers. Seriously…

In saner news, we had a visit from Helena and Ben on Sunday – possibly the last for quite some time, as they’re moving to the deep SW next weekend and we’re probably more likely to visit them next time. Microbe loves seeing them, despite the fact that the three of them are like chalk, cheese and some other incompatible substance.

For example, I had to laugh when, ten minutes after arrival, the three of them huddled around me in the living room and all talked at once, with none of them listing to one another. Two miniature Davids (Beckham and Attenborough) and Princess Ennui…

Helena was badgering me to get her started with a sewing kit that she’d found in James’s sewing box, while James was simultaneously attempting to show her some nerdy detail in his latest animal book – and Ben was desperately trying to convince James to play football. Hence we had a harmonious 3-way chorus of:

Helena: “I want to do this one. I like this colour. I don’t like pink any more. Blue and green are my favourite colours now. Ok I’ve had enough now, can you finish. it?

James: “Helena, look! This is called a Linsang! It’s like a cat and it lives in the rainforest!

Ben: “James! James! James! Lets play football! James! James! James! Lets play football!

But then we took the three of them out to a brilliant nature-themed kids’ event in Twickenham and they had a fab time playing together, with never a difference between them.

A few pics…

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N N N N Nineteen

Eep! Thing 2 is due in 19 days. That’s not even 3 weeks away. Where did the time go? I seem to have become distracted by unnecessary sewing and have failed to do even half of the domestic stuff I was planning. Argh.

She had her final scan yesterday and it was actually quite an interesting one. G and I mentioned to the ultrasound operator that we were a bit sceptical about the supposed largeness of the baby, an assertion that seems to be based entirely on unscientific midwife-prodding. It just seems really unlikely that someone as little as me would have a large baby – hence we’ve been suspecting that they haven’t taken into account the relative smallness of my torso and the extreme up-frontness of the bump position.

Anyway it looks as though we’re right – according to the ultrasound evidence she’s not large at all. In fact she’s likely to be smaller than the microbe at birth, especially as she’ll be born several weeks earlier than the was. He was 7lb 2 oz and 2 weeks late, whereas she’s currently just over 6 pounds and will be a week early.  (I have a feeling I was something like 6.5lbs myself, so I reckon she’ll be a dink like me).

Oops, and now I’ve just noticed that I have to stop typing and run off to a baby shower for a friend who’s due the same week as me…  toodle pip!


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Is it the clumpy way he walks?

Hooray! I saw Babs Woodhouse today at my 36 week bump-prodding appointment. She was my favourite midwife when I was pregnant with James but this is the first time I’ve seen her this time.

I’m not sure she’d be everyone’s cup of tea – she’s 50% briskness, 50% cheeriness and 0% nonsense. Her opening gambit to me, all those years ago with James, was:  “I hope you haven’t got a LUDICROUS new-age birth plan? Oh good. I can see that you’re far too sensible for that.

Suffice to say she hasn’t changed.  I fully expected to be patted on the rump on my way out today and told I was a “good girl“. As it was, the appointment lasted all of 5 minutes. She prodded the bump and said “So! All booked in for your c-section? Jolly good – because that’s definitely a bigger baby than the last one and you don’t want a repeat of that palaver.

And that, apparently, was that.

In Microbe news, his obsession with Frozen has reached three-times-a-day proportions. When he’s not begging to watch it, he’s driving G and me nuts by singing the songs and obsessing about what the lyrics mean.

His favourite is the troll song ‘He’s a bit of a fixer upper‘ which makes him laugh every single time. He also likes to sing along to ‘Let It Go‘ in a diva-ish fashion, especially when Elsa gets to the flouncy bit where she says “the cold never bothered me anyway!

As Disney films go, I think it’s one of the better ones. The songs have a stage musical quality to them and it also has the distinction of being the first story ever to captivate the boybot without involving  talking animals. I’m delighted to see him gripped by a story about human females for a change. (I have a suspicion that he likes Anna because she reminds him a bit of Helena).

In school news, I was sad to discover that none of the boybot’s nursery pals got an offer at the same primary school as him. The vast majority seem to have fallen into the catchment for the much larger CofE school just down the road – and the rest are going private.

Such is the way in the baby-boomer suburbs. Outside of London, I see property ads claiming to be “within a 5 mile catchment” of some school or other. In these parts the catchment is measured in metres. With three state primaries all within a 5-minute walk of one another, it pretty much comes down to which end of the road you live on – and 500 metres would rule you out for most of them.

Still – it’s only reception year – so I’m sure the boy will make lots of new pals when he starts.

In bump news, my chocaholism has gone through the roof. And I don’t mean posh, grown-up chocolate with a high cocoa content. I’m mainlining Dairy Milk and giant Toblerones. And occasional bowls of Ready Brek made with double cream. Mmmm. (I honestly don’t know whether this baby is big because I can’t stop stuffing sugar and fat into my body or vice versa.)

I made up for it slightly last week by cleaning like a lunatic. The sort of cliched 3rd trimester cleaning where you find yourself crawling about on the floor in order to properly clean the back of the toilet cistern. The next job on my list, when I can be bothered, is to throw lots of things away. I desperately need a wardrobe cull – and could do with some therapy for my recent shopping problem for Thing 2.  I don’t know why I’ve lost the plot in this regard. I’m pretty sure James started life with little more than a 7-pack of babygrows. I must have been far more sensible back then.

On a more frivolous note, I’m really going to miss having freckles. I LOVE them! I had them with James but they faded soon afterwards. That and thick hair. I wish you could hang onto the good symptoms and just get rid of the rubbish ones afterwards. Pah.


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