Tag Archives: natural childbirth

Thoughts on my unmedicated birth 

Sam’s birth story here. Caroline’s here and here and here.20151011_041329In no way do I want to put anyone off having an unmedicated birth (by which I mean no epidural or pitocin). In fact, the recovery was so easy, and my inherent (and unempirical) resistance to pharmaceutical intervention means that were I to give birth again (which Wes says I absolutely won’t, sob) I would probably go the unmedicated route if possible.

That being said, I feel the most prevalent birth stories we here are (1) I had an unmedicated birth and it was beautiful and magical and what birth should be and (2) I had a medicated birth and it was disappointing / I’m ashamed / I’m traumatized / I feel like a failure. These stories are followed by a smattering of (3) I had a medicated birth and it went well but was nothing to write home about. I just want to add another story: (4) I had an unmedicated birth and it was fine, but I didn’t like it as much as my medicated birth.

The thing I most didn’t like was the lack of control. Towards the end my body was doing things (pushing, screaming) without me even knowing it was happening. Looking back. I feel like I acted like some crazed animal. Which is fine, it’s just not my preference. Some people love this aspect of birth – they use words like ‘primal’ and dig getting back to their raw nature. I’m actually kind of embarrassed now, and I feel awkward going back to my OB. This is even though my head tells me repeatedly that I acted like 90% of laboring / birthing women, and indeed many. many pro-unediacted birth people have told me they did exactly the same and loved it. It’s fine, I just preferred Sam’s birth where I could answer questions calmly, where I decided when to push (as I got the epidural at a full 10 cm – aside of a lip – I actually lay down for 30 minutes while complete to let the epi wear off a little before pushing),  and so on. Having my water broken by my OB with Sam was a little awkward, but it was definitely preferable in my mind to suddenly finding water all over the floor and on my legs and on the birthing ball and so on. At the time I felt bad I couldn’t help clear it up – I was even about to but I got slammed with double peak contractions, os just splashed around in my own amniotic fluid. Delightful.

Yes, I like to be in control. Yes, I have a lot of social anxiety – and sure these are the factors. I’m not saying there isn’t a reason, just that for whatever reason, an unmedicated birth was awkward to me.

I also, against traditional or prevalent dialogue, I found it in no way empowering. The short story of my birth went like this: Turn up in hospital, ask for epidural, beg for epidural, can’t get it, have to give birth without it. I understand this is super common, in fact our Bradley teaching told us that the reason it is “husband coached” childbirth is that this will happen, and you will pretty much not be able to get through it without someone stepping in and preventing pain relief (which is obviously not true, because people do it on their own all the time, but the gist is there).  Or, since the real begging for pain relief comes near the end, it’s too late anyway. So. In a nutshell, for many people, unmedicated births go something like:

I want X.

You can’t have X.

This is opposite of empowerment to me. Just to explain my definition of empowerment, it generally goes:

I want X.

Here is X.

 

Me with a medal. A day I (and my high school sports teachers) thought we would never see

Me with a medal. A day I (and my high school sports teachers) thought we would never see

Finally, I thought I would feel all proud of myself for doing this amazing feat. Sort of like how I felt after my first 10K. Time and time again birth stories finished with women saying “and I realized my strength”. Right. I screamed and wailed and wanted it to stop and my body did it’s own thing regardless. I mean, it did it very well, don’t get me wrong. But it didn’t require any mental strength or fortitude on my part. No matter how painful those contractions are, it’s not like you can turn them off and you won’t die, so you will get through them. And that baby is coming out – I am pretty sure there are almost no stories of C-sections because the mother gave up pushing (babies getting stuck is a different issue). Your body is just going to push it out whatever. So, yes, it is very cool that bodies can do this but really, just making a kiddo and having it enter the world is the cool and amazing part. I didn’t feel ‘amazingly strong’ after giving birth.

My "it's over. It's actually over" face.

My “it’s over. It’s actually over” face.

Perhaps it helps that I didn’t have any negative effects from my epidural. I could walk and squat with it, and move about. It was effective, but I was not numb. I felt the urge to push appropriately, and after the baby came out felt the same emotion as an unmedicated birth (honestly? My first thought both times was: Thank f*ck that it over. For Sam because he took so long and I was worried they would do an emergency C-section, and for Caroline because: no more pain!). And that is not everyone’s experience with an epidural, so maybe you don’t want to take the risk. And I say all this having had two amazing and faultless birth teams both times. And I could have prepared better for Caroline’s birth and prepared Wes better and we could have handled it all a bit differently (although, as I say, most unmedicated birth stories seem to be quite similar). But of course, yymv.

There was a sort of stunned silence after Caroline’s birth from my husband and I. It had been so quick, and so… violent is the word I would use. I honestly felt a little shocked and mad at the world. I think Wes knew, because the first thing he said when they placed Caroline on my chest was “Hey – you got the natural birth you wanted” [he uses natural… I think all births are natural and use the less loaded medicated vs. unmedicated]. And it’s all good. My kiddos are here and healthy, I don’t dwell on either birth, feel positively about very many aspects of both (especially that my teams respected my choices – now that is empowerment -, that they had very baby centered approaches and that they never ever got frustrated with me, in fact, both times they treated it like this was their only birth not the 5th of the day…) and am generally a happy camper.

I would go unmedicated again. But I wouldn’t look forward to it, like I would look forward to a medicated birth.

 

Advertisements

Caroline’s birth story – pt 2

Read part 1 here.

Before I get to the real nitty gritty of the delivery, I have realized I can’t describe Caroline’s birth story without acknowledging my state of mind of going into it, because I have realized that it is inherently part of the story. Although it had every medical intervention possible short of a C-section, Sam’s birth went well. Due to an undiagnosed case of von willebrands (plus I suspect, some bad luck), the post-birth part did not go well. Aside from brief outbursts of emotion, this was something I realize now that I chose not to fully process.

In part, I think it is hard to process something that you are unconscious, or heavily medicated, for. In larger part, it is frankly easier, if more cowardly, to go into something that nearly killed you last time pretending that it didn’t nearly kill you last time. The first sign that I might in some sort of denial may be that I refused to believe I had von willebrands for a while. OK, I still don’t really believe it, but I do accept my smart hematologist’s edict that we have to treat me as if I have it, given my “history”. But as mild von willebrands essentially needs no treatment in day to day life, that issue didn’t rear its head too often.

Another sign might have been that if someone brought up how close the call had come, I was genuinely shocked and surprised, and little awkward. I remember my friend Taylor saying on Sam’s birthday “Hey – it’s the anniversary of you surviving!” and I just kind of stared open mouthed like a guppy at feeding time, and then scowled and changed the subject. And when I transferred to my new OB (Dr. Dryden) the nurses muttered to each other “Dryden saved her” – and I just scowled again and labelled them as “over dramatic”. But again, this was not something that often came up – people don’t generally like to bring up nasty medical experiences (at least, not if they want to keep their friends…).

Things started to change when (1) expert people telling me how serious the situation really had been; and (2) having to prepare to give birth again. When I saw my OB at my first trimester appointment she brought up my chart and started stutter as she read the history saying “I can see you had a massive transfusion“. I did. Massive transfusions are not good (well.. they are good, it’s just the situations requiring them is not good), and when I initially told people about my birth experience I would say “As I went to OR I just remember the words ‘massive transfusion protocol'”. But then I decided that I probably dreamed that, or made it up for dramatic effect. So I was kind of shocked to hear the surgeon in charge of the birth state it. And see it there in my notes for all to see.

During that visit, my OB said to me “You’re lucky to be able to have another child!” and I said “well… it’s due to YOU” and she looked confused and I reminded her “You were the one who delivered my son… you saved me and my uterus by using a new procedure… you sewed the balloon into my cervix which hadn’t been done before.. right?” and the light dawned, and her eyes went wide with recognition and then a kind of fear and I’ll never forget her saying “Oh my God… it’s you… you’re you… You came back!” [aside: of course I came back – she was the most awesome surgeon ever! And my kiddo is the greatest kiddo ever]. I nodded and my OB – my extremely experienced OB who seems to specialize in high risk cases – said “I will never forget your birth”. Seeing how seriously she took the situation was not something my “it was no big deal” mindset was ready for. I looked her straight in the eyes and said “It’s fine… you did great last time with no warning, I have no worries about this time with plenty of warning… I trust you completely”. Then I pretty much packed up my things and left. Which was nice for my OB, but essentially what I was saying was “I don’t want to think about this, or deal with it, so I am shutting the whole conversation down”.

The I vowed not to think about birth until I hit the second trimester and the highest risk of miscarriage passed. And then, at that point, I would start to think things like “do I want an epidural?” and never really get very far with my answers. And suddenly I was 35 weeks and it was my beautiful baby shower and I was telling people that ‘yes, I was totally ready for everything” but when they got to specifics ‘no, I had not bought diapers yet…’ and ‘no I had not packed my hospital bags..’ and ‘no, I had not sorted the nursery’ and ‘no, no, no’. And that triggered something in me… some deep seated awareness that holy crap, I was actually going to have to do this again. And suddenly the darkest recesses of my mind took over and would pipe up at inopportune times. Like when I was reading Sam a book, something deep in my mind would say “I hope that if you die someone will tell Sam that his Mum used to read him books and do all he silly voices with him..”. I would squash the thought but later on the voice would say “If you die, hopefully people will tell your children ‘she loved you so much, she risked everything to bring you into this world'”. It wa startling to me how strong these thoughts were.

The next day I was in Starbucks and I had to walk past my hospital and while standing in line waiting for ‘the usual’ [tall decaff PSL, no whip, just one pump of syrup] I began to shake and cry and it is very awkward when heavily pregnant women start silently bawling in public because no one thinks they can ignore them and everyone thinks it is about the baby and tries to help . And when strangers asked if I was OK, it’s not like I could regale them with the whole birth history that I was trying to deny….

It’s funny, looking back, I don’t think I truly accepted what happened after Sam’s birth until after Caroline’s birth. I was taken up to a postpartum recovery room, and the nurse in the room said “Have you given birth here before?” and I said “Yes! Almost three years to the day I delivered my son here” and she said “OK, I am going to be honest… I knew that… I remember you… No one will ever forget your birth” and I thought “Geez… even nurses not involved in the situation are freaked out about this”. And my OB came by to visit me, and everything was perfect (and as you’ll find out in part 3 she has been utterly amazing in the birth) and I was holding my sweet Caroline and fully recovered within about an hour and my OB could finally say “I’ll just never forget your first birth… it’s just emblazoned in my memory and I can’t shift it”. And I thought ‘crap.. it really was that bad’.

So I didn’t finalize the process before Caroline came along, but I did begin to accept that I was utterly freaked out about giving birth again – not necessarily because I thought the same thing would happen, but because I realized that anything could happen. So I began to accept that I was scared, and angry. I was angry at my body for letting me down. My strong, half marathon and tough mudder running body builders body. And I was angry at the ‘natural birth’ community. I was angry at their message that ‘women were made to do this and should just trust their bodies’ (because where would that have got me? Let’s say it: dead is where) and even more angry at my treatment after birth. Basically, from all the natural birth communities I engaged with while pregnant, suddenly not one of them wanted to share my birth story, which left me feeling excluded and shunned. And then angry that by purposefully denying these stories, some parts of the natural birth community are lying to their followers: they simply discount the very real, and very rare, dangers rather than acknowledge them and allow women and their partners to make informed choices.

It was a tough few weeks and probably contributed to a lot of the depression I suffered with at the end of Caroline’s pregnancy (not something I have admitted before). I was scared and felt trapped – trapped into having to do something I was scared of. But, the reason that this is so part of Caroline’s birth is that I eschewed all thinking about actual birth before going into labor (in fact, possibly while in labor, which is why I didn’t accept I was until I was fully in transition. Although sleeping through labor definitely has some up sides…). Consequently, I didn’t have any kind of plan for what I would do in labor. At all. I just ticked the ‘no epidural’ box on my hospital pre-addmission forms and that was it.

So, I went into the delivery room really quite unprepared…

I’m glad I have written this down now. I am still 28% hippie and believe in things like the damages of repressed emotions, so I am glad to have written it down and am now able to really move onwards an upwards.

 

How to be supportive of women’s birthing choices

*Note: throughout I got tired of writing ‘women and their partners and families’, so I just wrote ‘women’. But I do believe wholeheartedly that birth decisions affect the whole family, and so should be a somewhat group decision.

Ah, the Mummy wars. Just as we might be close to reaching some kind of rapprochement over one issue (breastfeeding), we really hammer into a new one: birth. For the unenlightened, a war is indeed brewing. On one extreme, you have the group who think that any intervention is ‘birth rape’ (not kidding…). On the other side, perhaps as a backlash, you have the women claiming that allowing any kind of pain in childbirth is anti-feminist, and women who don’t give birth in a hospital are baby killers. It’s just another incarnation of the nipple waving breastfeeding sluts vs. the poisoning lazy formula feeders debate.

It would be nice if we could just ignore this. Let the extremists be extreme, and live in a happy middle road. But the knock on effect is that women are becoming miserable – people feel judged and found wanting, guilty, denied a right, some even feel violated for a medical professional doing their best. While I support attempts to improve medical care, and thus women’s birthing experiences, this does not seem the right way to go about it. I understand that is hard when people think they are fighting risk to babies, or denial of rights to women – both highly passionate issues – but it seems to me that the path we are going down is not working. Families and caregivers need to unite in support of one and another to enable informed choices and happiness with those. That’s not the same as inaction, nor will it lead to stagnation. I believe that within this modus operandi, there is still room for encouraging change and I also believe it is the way to help women and their partners make better choice.

Here is how I try to be supportive of all birthing choices:

(1) Everyone: Be realistic and scientific.

Don’t lie. Home birthers: admit that the risks to mother and child are higher (but very small) and note openly that scientific evidence shows that epidurals at the right time do not increase C-section rates. Hospital birthers: be open: yes, a C-section is more likely, even when other factors are controlled for. Yes, pitocin increases the likelihood one will want an epidural, and not due to this, also increases the likelihood of a C-section. Be honest: you are more in the doctor’s hands, and you may be pressured to make an alternative choice. Home birthers: women in hospital may also not be pressured to make choices against their will and may work with professionals who are incredibly dedicated to following their birth wishes.

I have seen both done. At my Bradley classes (a natural birth class), our instructor was having a home birth. In the discussion about risks and benefits she noted that the risk were higher, but in absolute terms extremely minimal. She told us to go away, read, and make our own decisions. When my OB told me I needed an induction and I was resistant, she honestly talked through the increase in C-section occurrence. She told me to go away, think and read, and make my own decision.

Only by talking through openly and honestly about the facts and figures can women* make informed choices, and research ways to mitigate unwanted outcomes. When my OB was open about the increase in C-section risk with pitocin, I was able to research how to deal with this, and constructed a careful plan which took 2 days to effect, but resulted in a vaginal birth.

beliefs

(2) Anti-home birthers: Accept that you cannot save all of the babies, all of the time.

It can be a very emotive subject, and anti-home birthers usually cite the well-documented and reliable statistics of increased mortality with home birth. It is a tiny increase, but the pleading ‘won’t you please think of the children’, often accompanied by a picture of a stillbirth, can be very compelling. But here is the thing: home birth is not the last bastion of child (or maternal) risk. Children are starving to death, being shot to death in war, being shot to death because of lax safety, dying of vaccine preventable diseases, dying of non preventable diseases, dying because the basic standard of medical care is not uniformly distributed across economic strata in the US. That’s not to say that we should be cavalier about infant mortality, but some perspective helps. If you are not pouring equal amount of vocal outrage into all causes of child suffering (especially given how many more children die from these other causes, than from home birth), I would ask you to reconsider your reasons for championing an anti-home stance.

(3) Home birthers: to use your own words: anyone could do it.

If forced to, then I am pretty sure (but have not checked the empirical evidence) that anyone could deal with the pain of childbirth. Some people choose to have an epidural (or other pain relief) and there is nothing ‘weak’ about it. It’s just a choice, like the one to go to Kroger vs. Fiesta (or Tesco vs. Sainsburys for my dear UK readers), and should not have a value judgement attached to it.

(4) Anti-home birthers: We all take risks with our child.

Accept it, we all take unnecessary risks with our child. To anyone taking a ‘holier than thou’ approach to their child rearing I could point out preventable risks you take. Take your child in a car? Increased risk!! Why not stay at home or within walking distance until the child is 16 ?  You might say: that’s not practical, the benefit outweighs the unrealistic cost.

Sure – to *you*. There are people, I am sure, who follow this (small number though they are).  Ultimately: you don’t know the cost to someone of going into hospital. You don’t know their fears and needs, and how strong they are. You cannot judge for someone else whether the costs outweigh the benefits, because you don’t know them.

(4) Home birthers: We all take risks with our child.

You may tout increased bonding for a drug free childbirth, or a cite the evidence that some aspects of pain relief get to the baby and affect their immediate post-birth presentation. But again, you will do something that is sub optimal for your child’s development (although defining that is tricky), sometimes out of ignorance (and so some education is OK), but sometimes because to you and your family judge the benefit to be greater than the cost, as above. And that’s OK.

I could go on, but it has been (for me) a long post. I will always choose a hospital birth. I will always research and learn, but I will always reach an agreement with my trained medical professional. If I can’t do that, I will seek out a medical professional with whom I can, because this provider is obviously not right for me. For my birth, I agreed to an unwanted induction, but I worked out a fairly long and complicated plan for doing everything I could to ensure a vaginal birth. Indeed, this was necessary, if I had not worked with my OB on devising a 2-day induction, I would have been one of the ‘C-sections after a day on pit’ statistics.

That being said, if I had had a C-section, I hope I would have worked with my provider and still have thought it a wonderful experience. Many aspects of my birth sucked (or at least the aftermath), but I am delighted with the whole experience. Shit happens. But I got this thing out of it:

P1000780

My plea: chill, relax, channel your energy / outrage somewhere else [send refugees donations, volunteer at your local hospital, whatever], remember that you are not a bat, and don’t know what it is like to be a bat. Gain some perspective: birth is important, but it is just one aspect of a whole lifetime of wonderful experiences.

Peace. Love. Babies.

 

Goodbye second trimester….

Or, as this post could be called “In which Lekki gets on her soap box again”.

According to this handy little calculator (which is also very helpful at helping me pretend not to be a completely useless-mother-to be and thus be able to actually answer the question “how far along are you?”) my third trimester begins anywhere from August 4th – August 9th. I.e. soon. It has been a while since I last blogged about my pregnancy – but you can take this as a good thing: basically I have been having too much of a rip roaringly good time traveling to NYC, entertaining the bestie on her sojourn to Houston, and working hard. OK, maybe the last one is not so good… I have also not had too much to blog about: straight forward as this pregnancy has gone. I did have lots of growing bump pics, but then some evil-knevil stole my phone and took them away from me. I hope s/he gets some serious guilt when he sees a bunch of bump and ultrasound pics, now lost forever. But… that’s by the by… let’s see how we are doing:

So, I am *checks calculator* 26 weeks and 4 days… 3 months to go! The baby is viable (woo-hoo), so come on out FW (but not like, just yet, or anything). The bump is pretty good, I have gone from this:

End of the first trimester

to this:

20 weeks

To this:

End of second trimester – 27 weeks

with weight gain at a healthy 13 lbs (and rising!).

My comfort level is pretty good. Have had one or two issues: while walking in New York I got this ‘orrible shooting pain down my back through my butt to my knee that made it impossible to walk – in fact made it only possible to literally collapse, thank goodness for NYC cabs everywhere. Mmmmmm…. sciatica. An exercise-based management technique has helped no end. Oh, and I had a night of false labour last week, which is waaaaaaay earlier than expected. Which was terrifying as I DID NOT HAVE MEDICAL INSURANCE TO CHECK EVERYTHING WAS OK, which Republicans think is just fine, as insurance companies should be allowed to exclude ‘pre-existing conditions’. Cough. Basically I woke up in the middle of the night with lower back cramps that radiated to my lower belly. The pain was impressive, and no amount of rocking / ball sitting / walking / curling up and sobbing relieved it. A quick internet search (because, yes, when you have no medical care Google is your only friend) revealed that it was likely heightened by dehydration so I drank 60 oz of water, lay on my left side, and eventually it eased allowing me to sleep for brief 10 minute snatches in between loo trips, marred only by my reassessment of the decision to attempt a natural birth. As you can imagine, I was a rockstar at work the next day.

I have, however, found an OB / GYN. Which was not as easy as it sounds. You think it would be, as you are basically saying “hey, in the US, people massively overpay per person for worse health outcomes, because they are afraid of government interference… so I would like to have you paid vast amounts to not give me the most effective care. Please”. Piece of cake, right?  Nope, because I have had a ‘gap in care’ and so am ‘high risk’ and no one wants to take me. After yelling ‘so you are going to deal with my LACK of care, by denying me more care?’ and  ‘Just to get this straight: you think that I may have some uncontrolled health conditions that could make the birth complex, difficult and expensive. So instead of treating them early and turning a complex, difficult and expensive birth (which the state has to pay for legally, as it is ’emergency care’) into a simpler, easier, less expensive birth… you are going to let them run amok and so become a more complex, more difficult and more expensive birth?’. After receiving several affirmatives, the Women’s Healthcare Specialists of Houston took me on. Hoorah. But in the process of which, I had to do all sorts of promising and faxing of records and proving that I and little Firework, are, to the best of my knowledge, exceptionally healthy. Because you know, we eat right, sleep well, do regular exercise yada yada yada. The ob / gyns all opined that the only reason I had had such an easy pregnancy so far was because I was in, and had maintained, excellent athletic shape. Yeah… that exercise and athletic shape thing. So, in other news, I have got my ever expanding butt off the sofa for the first time in 9 weeks (where has the time gone??) and completed 2 yoga classes, one strength class and 2 ‘runs’.

When I say run, I mean going from 8.5 min miles to 10 min miles. And from 15K to 2.5K.

Post run sweatiness

Included for Walter’s confused expression; he is thinking “I didn’t know whales ran?!?”. Also ignore my terrible hair – there was pre-dye gook in it, and so it looks straw like and straw coloured.

And by ‘strength’ I mean lifting 10lb dumbells and then collapsing on the floor to oogle at John Stewart on my iPad.

John Stewart, lookin’ smokin’ and saying smart things… as he does.

But, it is a start. And Wes is working on the diet, sneaking vegetables into my meals and snacks without me protesting:

“Would you like a chip, Lekki?”

“Mmmm… yes please…. wait, this chip is surprisingly green and ungreasy and kale like”.

He made kale chips.

Wes’ kale chips – actually really delicious

Apart from the potential health hazard of the inherent shock at ‘the-McDonald’s-employees-miss-me-when-I-don’t-go-daily-Wesley’ making kale chips I am sure it is overall a good thing.

So… we have also been receiving awesome, awesome baby clothes and gifts. I absolutely LOVE everything everyone has bought for us.

Oh, and we have been doing the nursery (I was reminded of this as Holly managed to send babygros that matched the nursery perfectly. Cool.). Too early ye say? Well, probs not, as FW is due early Nov, I have a grant due mid-Oct, and am traveling for the last 3 weeks of Sept (work)… and possibly have another grant due mid Sept. So, working backwards, this means the nursery needs to be done by late August: 3 weeks’ time.  Thus we have a lovely grey nursery courtesy of my excellent paint-choosing skills, and Wesley’s excellent paint-applying skills

Dark, but soft, grey walls and our awesome changing table which was given to us!

and a sketch of a mural which I am going to attempt to paint. Yup, the girl who failed basic art at school is going to freestyle it on a wall.Results to come… (good or bad).

The nursery theme is clearly grey & white, with yellow and blue accents (to come) so we have these pics I made too:

Not sure if I want to redo these to make them tidier or not

Can’t wait to meet the little ‘un!

Anything Etsy can do…

My blog writing partner tonight.

Saturday

What a weekend. I got up Saturday, excited about the start of our Bradley classes. Bradley is a 12-week birthing course, designed to prepare the couple as a whole for a natural childbirth. 12 weeks seems a long time (one 2 hour class per week), but Bradley’s rationale is that the woman is preparing for a intense endurance exercise which you should try to enter at peak performance, which takes time – a lot of 5K programs are designed to be conducted over 12 weeks; and heck, running 5K (which I first did with no prep) is quicker and easier than giving birth. So, Bradley is designed to teach you optimal nutrition, exercises for fitness, and also proper relaxation. It is also partner / couple-  centric. The idea being that the ‘other half’ supports the labouring woman with full understanding through helping with positions, breathing and massage. When she transitions and wants to give up, it is him that stops her giving in too early. Maybe it is too much… all this ‘preparation’ – after all, didn’t women just give birth without preparation since forever, and don’t women still do it all the time now? Sure, but Wes and figured a few things:

(1) Babies are bigger, our fitness is not as optimal, and our endurance is probably lower than ‘since forever’

(2) Sure, women do it all the time without preparation; but intervention rates are soaring, and many people do not report a happy experience (many do). Why not prepare to make it as good / positive of an experience as possible?

(3) This is a good way for Wes to be involved: reading blogs and talking to girlfriends about birth over coffee is not exactly his style… coming along and learning how to be useful is

(4) The social / emotional aspects are appealing. We are both looking forward to learning massage and relaxation together, and to meeting some people here in Houston (more on that later).

Plus, it is only $250 for 12 weeks… pretty impressive. The only annoying thing, was that I was preparing for a 2.30 class… kind of annoying time. It basically makes it hard to do anything in the morning or afternoon: midday would have suited me better. But, hey ho, I decided to do a manicure in preparation:

RCM Envelope Please

For my birthday, my Mum got me a whole gel polish kit. Gel nail polish is awesome: you apply a basecoat, 2 coats of polish and a top coat, allowing each one to ‘cure’ (read: dry completely) for 45 secs under an LED light. The polish is extremely chip resistant, and your nails tend to be fairly protected against flaking and breaking.

After the final coat was on, I looked up the address for the Bradley class, and found that it was at 12.30 after all. Score one for having a better time, lose one for having missed the class. I was mortified. I texted our class leader to apologise and she was ever so sweet, saying we could come on Monday evening to learn the exercises for the week. Phew.

Not sure what I did after that: tidy up, unpack from NYC, sort and clean out the bathroom. Then I felt at a loose end… which is odd as I have plenty of hobbies I can do at any time: reading, working, gardening, exploring Houston, piano playing, movie watching… but none appealed. Going and getting some craft stuff to start to make things for Firework’s nursery appealed, but didn’t ‘click’ I just felt lonely. I realised: I miss female company. Mostly, I miss hiking with Stella or David, going and playing with Sasha, Liam and Rachel (who will do anything with me), cinema trips and chats with Kat and my bookgroup 😦 It’s fine; we have only been in Houston 6 weeks, and building up those sorts of friendships takes time. But… I do miss it. So, Wes came with me to Hobby Lobby and patiently waited an hour (OK, patiently waited 40 mins, then was a pest for 20 😉 ) while I got some craft stuff. Dinner out, and then home to organize all my craft stuff. Everything put in neat draws and filed away before bed.

For the crafting

Meanwhile… Wes was back in the attic trying to locate the source of water dripping through our ceiling. Joy.

Sunday

Sunday was… dramatic. We left for church in separate cars so that I could go to IKEA after and Wes could go to Home Depot so he could solve the dripping water, which by now was staining our ceiling, causing little holes in it, and threatening to ruin our new laminate floor. More joy.

Wes left 5 mins before me, and then I got stuck at a train crossing for ages. So. I was surprised when Wes was not at church. Very surprised. I called him – no answer. I couldn’t fathom why he had not called if there was a problem… or why he was not answering now. Unless she had been in a horrible accident. So bad, he could not even call to tell me. Cue slow tears descending into complete hysterics as a further 4 minutes passed. Then Wes turned up… no explanation. He forgot to charge his phone and had made his way there. Must have gone a different route. It took me a full 15 minutes to calm down… I do blame hormones.

So, off I went to IKEA. I hate IKEA. The whole thing is stressful. I hate most things in there. I 1/2 believe that Satan sends his minions for training there on a Sunday. BUT, my beloved Clio is coming out, and staying in Firework’s currently empty, save a beautiful changing table, room (also currently called ‘Clio’s room’). She must at least have bed linen and blinds. Blinds are hella expensive (if you want them to look decent), except at IKEA. So, in the interests of Clio sleeping, in something other than bright morning light, I braved IKEA.

It all went quite swimmingly, with me hankering after this for FW’s room:

For the nursing

until I got to the actual blinds. The walls are going to be a fairly dark grey. I could not picture wooden blinds against that. I just couldn’t. I had been all set on them, now I couldn’t see it. I called Wes. 45 minutes I spent discussing / researching blinds and alternately thinking I might like white drapes against the grey. Wes said everything right; from offering opinion, to saying ‘if you like something, get it and I will love it – really, this is your room’. But, I was overwhelmed. Possibly precipitated by the fact I had just fallen down the stairs (shoe broke as I was descending) and in an attempt to protect the bump had bruised my ass (isn’t there enough cushioning there now??) and smashed my teeth into the railing, I just dissolved into more tears draped over a stack of blinds. Not a few – but streaming, snot inducing, dress staining tears. The sight was quite pathetic: pregnant woman in floaty floral peasant-style dress, with broken flip flops weeping into the textiles at IKEA. I grabbed dark grey roller blinds, white drapes, fixing and high tailed it out of there.

To decide on the way home that maybe white blinds would be best.

Which made me cry.

I made it home. Just. My broken and emotional state was faced with the news that the plumbing is up the spout, can’t be fixed until we can get someone in, we can’t get someone in until we speak to the people who deal with our home warranty and so no air conditioning for us. Let me repeat: no air conditioning. It is some 90-100 degrees during the day and 80-100% humidity. NO. AIR. CONDITIONING.

Yes, this is a story of first world problems… but… still.

Wes took me out to buy me a craft table from Walmart ($35 steal) and insisted I bough a ‘chocolate turtle cake’ and bottle of wine. He is a wise man. I went up and crafted myself into calmness (see? I need Bradley. I need to learn how to relax). I am quite pleased with what I made for FW’s room (not Clio’s room, she shall be spared the infantile decor):

To be bookends?

I will make several of these into a tableau

and came down somewhat better. If not. Hear my no air con plea? Yeah. Hot. Comfort food of pizza, and turtle cake and wine later, and I was ready to tackle my plants, which had survived my NYC trip with varying success. They had dried out somewhat, and needed restaking – sadly, some of the stems had snapped under the weight of the leaves 😦 Hoping that they can regrow?

Quite a forest here – hoping they will be ready to acclimatise soon, and be put outside for increasing periods of the day.

So, as above, my seeds grown in a mixture of potting soil and perlite were doing very well. My seeds grown in peat pots, not so much:

Ugh.

But, whatever the outcome, gardening further calmed me. I am now sitting downstairs (it is slightly cooler) on a made up bed, with the dregs of my wine, preparing to read this:

Walter is sitting with me. He got into my chocolate Philadelphia and ate a pot of it, and would have been told off, had he not been looking so ridiculous:

My pot

So proud was he of his steal, that he carried the empty pot EVERYWHERE with him, even into bed with me.

Oh, some good news though. 2 crafting episodes, 1 IKEA trip, 1 gardening trip and 2 sorting binges and check out my manicure:

LOVE gel nail polish 🙂