Monday, November 28, 2011

Taking a look at our lives

So, I didn't post every day.

On Tuesday, having spent Friday at home getting read for DD's visit, the weekend home as he was here, and Monday home as it was foggy and our lunch date cancelled, both BB and I were slightly crazy with cabin fever.

Every day when BB and I come down stairs, I open the curtains and we greet the day. I am always careful not to express any value judgements at the weather, and use the same voice to greet the rain as I do the sun, but on Tuesday I couldn't manage this. Rain, rain - hideous, horrible, miserable, grumpy, isolating rain! No walks for us then. No fresh air, no exercise, no chance to see something different! And here was me considering the idea of working from home. We obviously need to be sure we are not home too much.

About 20 miles away from here there is a large indoor shopping centre, with some lovely Christmas lights up, you can walk in the dry, drink coffee... We called up Grandma and Gramps and set off for our little outing.

On Wednesday a mini disatser occurred - BB popped the poppers on his hammock! I have known for a while now that his time in it was coming to an end as he is getting too big, and has almost worked out how to grab the sides and pull himself up. This means he needs a new place to have day time naps. He has a cot, a place that he goes to several times daily, afer every nappy change for example as it is a safe place to plonk him while I wash my hands, find clean clothes etc. However, I have been trying to get him to sleep in there for a couple of weeks now, but to no avail. So since wednesday we have been searching for a new sleep solution. We didn't find it yet.

We did a couple of long journeys in the car at the weekend and they were great - an hour and half sleep each day, but still we have no solution for the house. We have tried the cot again, my bed, where he sleeps at night, his bouncer, a cosy little corner with his blanket and a cuddly toy on the sofa, but no. I nurse him to sleep but as soon as I put him down he wakes. I have carried him around in the sling but he is now way too curious about all the things I am doing to sleep.

No sleep means a grumpy baby who needs constant attention. Therefore I have done even less than usual. Trying to package up and send the few clothes that I sold on ebay was a huge challenge. Today I have been tryng to research something on the internet for a friend which was equally difficult. Hopefully we'll get a breakthrough soon. I am sitting on the bed typing this and he is laying next to me. He keeps dropping off. I am hoping he learns to put himself to sleep soon.

These things combined have made me realise that working from home will be hard for two reasons. One, we may go mad, and two, I just don't have the time!

P.S. It took 4 days to write this!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Your age is a danger to your health!

Somewhat ironically after blogging yesterday about my grey hair reversing, I received a letter this morning from my GP. It goes something like this...

Dear Me!
We would like to invite you for a HEALTH CHECK. 
This is beacuse you are now in an AGE RANGE that puts you at INCREASED RISK of VASCULAR DISEASE
You can find out about services that SUPPORT YOU in your CHANGE FOR LIFE...
Once we have your results back we will calculate your RISK SCORE
Actions will include a discussion of your lifestyle and appropriate TREATMENT

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

I officially feel old!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Grey Hair Reversal

So, it's now more than 6 weeks since I had my hair dyed, yet on looking in the mirror I see that the usual grey line at the roots is not there... there are some greys of course, but nowhere near as many as usual. I asked my sister to check, just in case (since turning 40 a couple of weeks ago) my eyesight is failing me. She agreed - considerably less grey!

What is going on?

Of course - I googled it!

Can grey hair turn be reversed?

It seems that it can be. Stopping smoking and drinking, taking folic acid (since before I was pregnant), and brewers yeast (in the lactation cookies I ate in BB's early days) are apparently all things that can help reverse grey hair!

Maybe I wont be the white haired mum at the school gate after all!

A Working Experiment

So, BB is 4 months old now and it's time I started thinking about going back to work...

Do I want to?

Well, maybe, a little bit. It could be nice to have some stimulation and challenges other than those of keeping on top of the washing, cleaning, cooking, playtime and nappies. But at the same time I don't want to miss out on any time with my little guy. I had a baby because I wanted to be a mum - not because I wanted someone else to take care of him. Plus, I have spoken to a couple of childminders - nice and well meaning I have no doubt, but they do have different ideas to me...

There's also the guilt. I'd feel guilty if I worked. Unfortunately this is a double edged sword as I would also feel guilty if I didn't. Despite paying in to the UK benefit system, even during the 10 years I lived overseas, it somehow feels wrong to live off the state. Then at the same time the logical part of my brain says that it is OK - it wont be forever, just while BB is little. Once he starts school I am determined that I will model being a working mum, but in the meantime, being a mum who is at home caring for her little one is more important to me.

So what are my options? Firstly I have been offered 0.4 of a full time role at my old work until July only. Not my old job, but a job at least. They did point out that this 0.4 of full time did not mean 2 days though - it could even be spread over 5 days. I think the truth is that they don't really want me back so they are making the offer unattractive. Reality is that the funding for my role disappeared in the government 'austerity measures' . They have failed to return my calls about it since June! Do I want to work there in these circumstances? Possibly not! But I did enjoy my work before, and I had some nice colleagues, I could talk about stuff other than poop and puke! If I did this job, by the time I paid childcare and lost some benefits, I would be slightly worse off than if I didn't work at all!

Another alternative would be to work from home doing a similar thing (helping year 11 students get their maths GCSE). I could have a babysitter take care of Arthur at home and students could come here. In reality though, between school finishing and then getting Arthur's tea and bath time, I could probably only see one student a day. If I did this I would be WORSE off.

So, as trying to work out how I feel about this wasn't helping me to decide - how about a more logical, practical, financial look at the situation.

In summary it looks like this

A - do no work
B - A little work (tutoring from home)
C - A little more work (go back to my old work place)
? - If only I knew what this was!

It seems that neither B nor C make financial or practical sense. There would be nothing financially gained for sacrificing my time, away from BB. So, I either do nothing, or I have to do MORE work or different, more FRUITFUL work to be better off.

In reality I don't think more work is a good option. Already it is a challenge to fit everything in, by everything that is all the household chores, plus a weekly swim class for BB, a post natal pilates class for me whilst BB enjoys a lovely creche, a visit to nana, and we try to squeeze in some form of mum and baby meet up once a week. Just this week we missed the pilates as we had to get ready for DD to come for the weekend. More work would mean missing more things, not good for BB (or me for that matter).

So, can I work smarter? Is there something else I could do? An internet business perhaps, that I do in the free moments, while BB plays or sleeps. I am exploring ideas... and I welcome yours!!!

Meantime, I am going to try and find out just how much time I have. Hence the "Working Experiment". I am going to see how much I could achieve online in a week. I am aiming for at least one blog post a day, and some items sold on ebay, and my business ideas written up, and some research done on importing goods from Oz, selling herbal remedies, online selling, drop shipping, how to make money on ebay...

We'll see how we go.

To start with, this post was started about 4 and a half hours ago, but I have fed, played with and bathed BB in that time too... I didn't manage to feed myself properly thought - I just munched on cheese and bickies - so off to get some real food!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

No Cook Coffee Cake


Here is the recipe as it is in mum's book. I doubled it the last time I made it (my 40th Birthday) as it just sounded too small. Perhaps this is why we are all fatter than we used to be!

Ingredients

75g butter
75g caster sugar
40g cocoa
50g flakes almonds
1 egg
250 ml strong black coffee
1 tbsp sherry
1 tbsp milk
about 8 trifle sponges
300ml double cream

Method

Cream butter and sugar, beat in cocoa, nuts, egg and 1 tbsp coffee
Line base of a 1lb loaf tine with grease proof paper
Mix together the rest of the coffee with the sherry and milk
Dip 3 trifle sponges and place in base of tin
Top with the creamed mixture
Dip and place another layer of sponges on top and then press down
Chill overnight
Turn out and coat with whipped fresh cream and decorate with whatever you choose (eg almonds, cherries, chocolate buttons

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Our trip in the train with a pram

Yesterday we were meeting friends for lunch in the next town - just one stop away on the train. Parking at our destination is always tricky, with most places giving you just 2 hours - not long enough for a lunch with 5 mums and 5 babies I can assure you!

So, to ease the parking worries, to give me a little lard burning activity walking to and from the station, because I have a belief that we should all try and use public transport if it is available, and so to check out the ease of using public transport with a pram for future reference, we thought we's give the train a try.

As there is a limit to the amount of time that BB will stay in the pram without being fed, and also because we had to call in to the post office to collect a parcel, I made the decision to take the car to the station at this end. Unfortunately all the free parking near the station was full. Parking was £2.30, but the machine didn't give change, so for us it was £2.50.

The ticket office is on the opposite side of the tracks to the platform we needed. There is no underpass or access to the other side for wheelchairs or prams. You have to exit the station, walk out through the car parks to the road, go over the level crossing and then back in through the car parks on the other side. So we got our ticket first (£8.10), and headed out for our hike around to the other side.

We made it, but not in time for the train. I had anticipated that this could happen - there was another in half an hour that would still get us there on time. I needed the loo! Guess where? Yes, you are right, on the opposite platform! I didn't bother going on the hike again (we may have missed the next train if we did) but opted for some pelvic floor practice instead. Also - I don't think there is a large loo or one with disabled access anyway, and I was not prepared to leave BB outside on the platform!

Our train came and some nice young women allowed us to get on first. BB slept for most of the way and didn't make a murmer. After just 15 mins our destination was in sight. But we were at a standstill - waiting for a platform apparently.

After 25 mins, our 18 minute journey was complete - we had arrived. Through the underpass and out to the other side where there is a disabled loo. Locked. You need a special key. Which I don't have.

So, we head to a nearby supermarket. Relief at last. I also notice that their car park offers free parking for 3 hours! 


We then walk up the hill into town and have a fabulous lunch with the mummies and babies - none of whom were crazy enough to arrive by train. Within 3 hours we are back in the loo at the afore mentioned supermarket. I buy some crumpets and a newspaper to show my gratitude for their facilities and check the car parking terms once more before we head back to the station.

BB cries inconsolably for half of the journey but eventually he stops and enjoys the ride, gazing with awe out of the window as the world moves by. We reach our destination and as we are leaving the train we are offered help for the first time - by an old man with a walking stick!!! I guess he knows how it is.

So in summary:

To go in the car 
Cost £6.00 approx in fuel, free parking, wear and tear on car not accounted for, time taken for journey, approx 30 mins each way on average.

To go by train
Cost £8.10 for the fare, £2.50 for parking (could be reduced to £2.30 if I had the right change or nothing if we were able to walk from this end too - maybe when BB is a bit older that could work, or in summer when it's not too cold to feed al fresco). Average time taken for journey, including delays, 1 hour and ten minutes (would increase by half an hour if we walked from this end).

Conclusion
The car is the easiest, the cheapest, and the most convenient. BB's cries don't affect the general public - in reality he would have slept in the car. The train is great, but sadly for novelty and not convenience. We'll do it again, but not in a hurry. On a plus, I do know of a 3 hour car park...

P.S. I tried to find an image of a pram and a train to accompany this post... I could only find 2, both Australian, somehow it didn't seem right to use them!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Too cute!

The Spewy Baby Story

Like many new parents it seems, I have been paying close attention to all things that come out of my baby and wonder  "Is this 'normal' or not?"


BB spews ALOT! I noticed this early on, and actually photographed a pile of sick that he brought up onto the changing mat to show the midwife when he was just a few days old. "Yes," I was told, "perfectly normal!".


A couple of weeks later I had the same conversation with a health visitor - once again, the same answer, "Yes it's normal, don't worry"


But the spewing continued, and as BB grew, so did the piles of vomit, and I did worry. At times he fired it quite a long way - projecting vomit across Tesco's, over the car, the floor... and me of course. He seemed to have a bit of wind and I thought that perhaps this was what made him vomit so. Perhaps if we could get the wind up he wouldn't spew so much. Having exhausted all physical methods, we then tried a well known brand of drops to help with this. But they only made the spewing worse, so we stopped this after just a few tries.

The first person to acknowledge that what we had here was not normal was my best friend who was visiting from Oz. As BB deposited the entire contents of his stomach over her and the floor at about 3 1/2 weeks old, she commented that was NOT normal.

Mmm, I thought not.

BB was gaining weight just fine, so I knew it wasn't a huge concern. I found on a website somewhere, something a little bit comforting - "...if your baby is thriving, don't worry - it's a laundry problem, not a medical one".  


Mmm, I'm pleased about that, but still - it's not normal... is it?


I started to wonder if it was something I was eating. So, I opened my awareness to that idea - it seemed that perhaps he was worse on the days that I ate lots of dairy. I was eating lots of yoghurt at the time, a quick, easy, healthy and calcium rich food that I could grab from the fridge between feeds, nappy changes and everything else that is the first few weeks of a newborn. I was also getting re-aquainted with blue cheese and brie - two of the things I missed the most during my pregnancy.

When I saw the doctor at our six week check up, he also said he thought it nothing serious due to BB obviously thriving. However, the fact that the vomiting was sometimes projectile could be a cause for concern. I had come across pyloric stenosis on google searches and so I knew this, though there were other symptoms with that that BB definitely didn't have... Anyway, the doctor decided that it was best to refer us to a paediatrician, just to be sure it was nothing serious.

We were given an appointment a month away, but a couple of days later we received a phone call from the paediatrician saying to come the next day. They thought it something they best check sooner rather than later. When we got there the regular guy had been called away and there was a stand in. She watched BB feed and spew, and asked how long it was since he last fed. It had been about 2.5 hours. She then said that the problem was that he wasn't hungry "babies should feed every 3 hours - you are feeding him too often, you need to get him on a schedule!" She then said that there were other ways that I could interact with my baby besides feeding him ( I was offended by that - like I don't!!!).  As she escorted me out of the room she called out to the receptionist "Hey, xxx, you have kids, what do you suggest this woman does to make her baby go 3 hours between feeds?" They hummed and haaahed, and then came up with giving the baby a dummy or water!

Quite upset, traumatised, offended and unheard I headed home. I started thinking about this idea of a 3 hour schedule. How could that work with our lives? we couldn't regularly feed at 12 because of swimming on Mondays, nor 1 because of baby massage on Tuesdays, nor 11 because of my exercise class. I quite like how our eating times fit in with our lives, developed based on when we are hungry and when we are busy. Still, I supposed I should try.

BB had other ideas though. When we got home I fed him, and told him that he had to wait 3 hours until the next feed. An hour later he was crying for more. I tried to hold off and let him cry, but after what seemed like forever (maybe less than a minute in reality) I gave in. Then again an hour later we played the same game. It was as though he was protesting and saying "No way" as he normally lasts at least an hour and half, often 2 hours, sometimes more. My mum and nan were here. We had a quick discussion about it. They both agreed he seemed hungry. I thought about the journey we had been on so far with this whole spewy thing. It had emerged that little and often was a far better strategy. As I thought back, the woman in the paediatricians office had really told me nothing, nor listened to anything I said. In fact it was like she had just walked in off the street. She even had to ask the receptionist for ideas (something which has been brought to my attention since is that this was misconduct due to breaking patient confidentiality). So, collectively we decided it best to ignore all that she said.

Still the mystery of the spewy baby continued. I gave up dairy for a while and thought it was better... Then a monster spew after days without dairy made me think perhaps I was wrong. I ate dairy again and it seemed worse, I stopped again, but the spewing continued... I discovered the hard way that "non-dairy" does not mean "dairy free". In fact, generally it seems to mean "contains lots of yucky additives made from milk protein" - they seem to be the worst offender. So, having become aware of all the hidden dairy I could now be really good... but still he would spew.



It seemed he was worse after feeding from the left boob than he was from the right... After a few days of observing that this definitely seemed to be true I became quite paranoid about my left boob. Was it making bad milk? Finally, in the middle of the night, during a feed, I googled it from my phone - would you believe this actually was the key to finding out what was going on.

Apparently babies with reflux are better when laying on thier left. When feeding from the left breast, BB was laying on his right. I googled reflux and came across this infant reflux screening quiz . This could be it! BB had several of the symptoms.

As the next few days went by, I noticed other things - he did have a cough, not related to illness. I had ignored this at first though he had a cold, and the Tracy Hogg book (grrrr! maybe more on that in a later post!) talks of a false cough when baby wants attention.

A few days after that we made it to Tummy Trouble where my diagnosis was confirmed. Finally we had an explaination, and some ideas of how to help BB. It turns out that sleeping with his head raised, as he had been doing in the hammock , and being carried in a sling are two of the best ways to releive symptoms - perhaps, along with his healthy growth, this is why it took us a while to diagnose what was going on. There were also foods that could cause the reflux response, which included dairy - but other foods, such as tomatoes and citrus were also common triggers.

Finally it all made sense. Several of the ocassions when he had been really bad were after he had been in the pram, laying flat. Luckily the pram we purchased can be tilted, so we did this making a huge difference. He may be sensitive to dairy, but not only dairy, there were other things too. He was a thriving happy spitter, and feeding little and often made sense.

I can't describe how much weight was lifted just by knowing what was wrong. I was comforted by the knowlege that it was nothing serious life threatening, equipped with some strategies to deal with it, and full of new ideas.

Just for the record, 6 weeks later (last Monday) we returned to the paediatrician, but only because I forgot to cancel the appointment.  Instead of the woman off the street that we met before we saw the real guy. The first thing he said was this sounds like reflux! He was great, really examined BB and checked other things while we were there, talked about differences between individuals, agreed with demand feeding little and often... it was like he knew something about babies!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Blog fright!

OK -so, it's official.

I have blog fright!

That is that I have so much to blog about I don't know where to start. The thought of it is way to overwhelming for me even to begin, hence the long absence.

So this is just a post to get me through the fear, and to get me started again.

BB is now 9 weeks and 1 day old. He is growing so fast and has moved in to 3-6 month clothes already. He has been on his first holiday, his first boat trip, (his first trip overseas in fact as we went to the Isle of Wight!) his first train ride (ok, so it was a miniature railway in some gardens).

We also started swimming lessons, baby massage, pilates for mummies, weightwatchers (also for mummies! - I have just passed the halfway mark re losing my pregnancy weight - encouraging, except that most of that was lost in the birthing process - but hey! I'm giving myself 9 months to lose it, but I wouldn't mind if it happened a bit faster than that!)

In general I am finding this being a mummy thing is great - it's not been as hard as I thought it would be that's for sure - though there have been some challenges. I'll write more on those later... BB is a delight, and generally a very happy little boy.

So, I hope you are all healthy and happy out there. I will post more soon...

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Our Birth Story



Sorry for the delay in posting the news - I have been busy playing with my new son who is 3 weeks old today. Several people have been asking to hear the birth story, and so here it is. Be warned, it's long!

It all started on the Sunday, though at a fairly slow pace - my first signs that my little guy would be a fairly laid back little being. I woke up with cramps and then discovered that the mucus plug had started to disintegrate. After a while I noticed that there were times when the cramps hurt more than others... I thought this might be early signs of contractions and that perhaps something might be happening.

I went to bed early on Sunday night just in case. It was a good plan as the cramps were actually enough to wake me at 2 am. I tried timing the intervals between the cramps but it was hard to do - there was a dull ache there all the time which got worse for a bit, but it was really hard to tell where the worse bit (potentially a contraction) started and finished, but it seemed like they were lasting about 2 1/2 mins every 8 minutes or so.

After a while I got up and ate and watched a bit of TV. The cramps became less frequent and less intense so I went back to bed. I slept through the 'contractions' so you get the idea that they weren't that painful! I decided to let donor daddy (DD) and the doula know what was going on, even though things didn't really seem that imminent to me. 

People started saying that I was in early labour and that things could all speed up at any minute - I still didn't really feel like that was the case - but these people had children and I didn't, so I decided that perhaps I should listen to them. I could now see how people manage to record massively long labours though - I decided not to start timing yet! 

DD was encouraged by the women at his work to get himself here as soon as possible, and so he arrived early evening on the Monday. That night too, the contractions were more intense than in the day - I didn't get a wink of sleep. Tuesday came and went, DD busied himself in the kitchen, making me meals for the freezer, I tried to rest. My doula came too to see how I was going. Between them they made me eat and sleep. I took some painkillers that night and managed to sleep between contractions which was great.

And so came Wednesday. Now, things were starting to hurt quite a bit now and I began to feel like I wanted to hurry this baby along. DD drove me over to my parents house where I proceeded to walk around the garden. Then I went to see the reflexologist and massage therapist that I had been seeing throughout my pregnancy. On the drive there the contractions seemed worse, on the drive back they seemed worse still. I was thinking they might calm down once I was out of the car, but no!

So, we took a final photo of Mr Bump
Last ever photo of Mr Bump - 41 + 1
And DD busied himself planing things in the garden, whilst I had contractions on the wheelie bin



I hung out at home for as long as I could and eventually went into hospital in the early hours of Thursday morning. I was 5 cm on arrival. All was well at this stage and I was admitted into the midwife led birthing unit. After a couple of hours the pool was free and so I moved into there. I had no other pain relief still at this stage and the contractions were fairly strong but I could just about manage them with breathing. 

I did have incredible back pain though, the baby was actually back to back, and on examination they found that and my labour had not progressed at all since my arrival. Due to his position the baby couldn't break my waters and so they had to be broken artificially. This made the contractions incredibly strong - I would say that I rapidly went to 10cm after this, though the whole thing is in fact a blur. I needed pain relief and despite having said I wouldn't have pethidine, it seemed like I would be completely giving in to go straight to an epidural, and so I accepted the pethidine offer. 

Turns out I am one of those people for whom pethidine has no effect... so then it was time for the epidural, it seemed to take forever for the anaethetist to arrive as he had emergencies to deal with. Eventually he came, and the epidural was inserted - but it only numbed half of my body. So he had to come back. After turning me over and trying to make it drain into the other side (!), and topping me up, eventually it was taking effect on both sides. 
By this time I think I had been at 10cm for a while. Baby's heart beat was getting slower and slower when I had contractions and the staff were starting to worry - they did some tests on the baby's oxygen levels and they came back "borderline". Suddenly we were and emergency and baby had to be out within an hour - we were on our way to theatre! 
This was a horrible hour, but somehow I managed to stay focussed on the task in hand and ignore all the people rushing about and prepping up in the theatre. I just kept repeating to myself that I was in one of the best hospitals in the country and I just had to get this baby out... 
I could feel nothing but had to learn to push - with the help of one of the midwives I learned to tell when I was having a contraction by feeling it in the the top of my uterus with my hand and then we practiced pushing so that I knew, even without feeling, which ones were effective. Once we actually got to the point where the rest of the team were ready to help bring my baby out it didn't take too many pushes, combined with the pulls of ventouse to bring the Baby Boy (BB) out. 

First photo of the little guy


It took him a while to cry, he needed help to breathe and had to have mucus sucked out of his lungs and was fairly unresponsive at first - I was panicking, but eventually was told that he was fine. It wasn't the birth I was hoping for, but I am happy with it all the same. Little man got here safely and I couldn't ask for more than that!



I know know that his APGAR score was 6 at 1min, 8 at 5 min and 9 at 10 mins - so really, after all that he is a very healthy baby. His weight was 7lb 2.5oz (3.255kg).
BB and I have our first look at each other
He changed really quickly as his head became less cone like and his wrinkles ironed out.

3 hours old
6 hours old
We came home before he was even 24 hours old. 
Just before we left hospital
Many thanks to my doula and to DD for their support throughout the whole event, and to the excellent staff at Hinchingbrooke Hospital

Saturday, July 16, 2011

A new gadget

On Wednesday my new energy monitor arrived. I have been waiting for this, and if I am honest it was one of the things that persuaded me to switch energy companies - well I do love a new gadget.

For those not familiar with the monitors, essentially you just install a transmitter in your meter box, which connects around your live cable, and this sends a signal to a unit in your house. You then program the device with the unit price that you pay for your electricity and the display tells you how much energy is being used in your home at any one time. I really is as simple as that.

What follows is of course hours of fun as you run around the house turning things on and off to see how much your consumption goes up and down.

Here are a couple of items that I knew used a lot of power, but still the actual amount was a surprise.

Firstly, turning on this lamp


just a single halogen bulb, turns my monthly estimated monthly bill from this

    to this

That's £30 a month for one light.

This lamp,

which has an energy efficient bulb, costs just £2.06 a month. A much bigger difference than I thought.

Apparently, on the Jeremy Vine show (which I can't actually bear to listen myself -I always switch stations at this time) they were using the number of solar panels required to boil a kettle as a scaremongering argument against renewable energy (for overseas readers this is a daily show of 'whinging pom heaven' on national radio, where members of the [sometimes ignorant] public phone in and moan about the issues of the day). Anyway, when telling my mum of how much entertainment my new monitoring gadget was providing she told me about the show. Now, I know a kettle uses a large amount of energy for a short period of time to boil water, and so I decided to check out what happens on the monitor when you boil the kettle. Are you ready for this?


Yes, that does say £400! An increase of £387 per month - just for turning on a half filled kettle - thankfully we don't permanently boil the kettle! 

I would say there is definitely an argument for solar panels so that we use the cash we make on feed in tariff when we are not boiling the kettle to pay for the energy we use when do! There is quite an attractive deal here for that, if you are rich enough to buy the panels in the first place!

This brings me to a current issue in Oz -  I think I am mpressed by initiatives in my other country regarding the carbon tax - seems simple, market regulated and fair



correct me if I'm wrong!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

40 weeks - and a few days more...

Well, I passed the 40 week mark and the Blissful baby hasn't joined us yet. Apparently he's been fully engaged and ready to go for over a week now, but I guess he just doesn't feel like yet. A bit of laid back Aussie in there I think. Perhaps he's waiting for the sun to shine again.

I am quite happy and not too worried yet. After all the craziness of work, renovations and uni, I am enjoying a few extra days of rest. I saw the midwife today and all is well. My blood pressure is the same as it was pre-pregnancy when I was fit and healthy and had the ability to run 5km. This is great news as it means they are more than happy to leave me alone for another week. She did offer to book me in for induction but I declined, we can talk about that next week if he hasn't emerged.

Baby is all good too. Apparently he has a long body which he must get from daddy as it certainly isn't from me - even with his head fully engaged his bum is in my ribs!

Here's what bump looks like at 40 weeks.

40 weeks + 1
I think it has dropped a bit since the 37 week shot. I measured my 'waist' on the day I turned 40 weeks too! 48" or 122cm... hmmm

People have started to guess when bubba will arrive - my mum says he will arrive on a Sunday, though she didn't say which Sunday. Her theory is based on the fact that she, the eldest in our family, was born on a Tuesday, my dad on a Wednesday, me (her first born) on a Thursday, her 2nd on a Friday and the 3rd on a Saturday. Grandchild number 1 shall therefore arrive on a Sunday - well, it's as good a theory as any!

Meanwhile, I have more time to practice patience... Though having said that, I came home from the midwife today and wrote a new To Do list, may as well make the most of my time...

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Stepping into the light

Well, I am really feeling as though I have emerged from that dark, dusty tunnel and stepped out into the golden sunlight. Though I may be tired, swollen and huge, it feels great!

37 1/2 weeks
All my uni stuff was completed a day ahead of my self imposed schedule and posted off last Monday.

The tiler finished the kitchen and I am happy to say that I really like it now that it's done.


The builder came and put hooks up for the hammock


I have one hook in the nursery, one in the study, one in the lounge and one in my room, just over my bed so that I can rock him to sleep without actually moving (theoretically!).

I had to have a little chuckle to myself too - the neighbours that have never spoken to me, some even totally blanked me, have suddenly taken an interest in me now that I am so obviously pregnant. I think they could be curious as to how I could manage to get pregnant as I obviously live alone.  The delightful lady at the shop said "So was it a mistake?" and another neighbour said "Oh, I bet that was a surprise!" I do wonder what they are thinking. They have of course observed lots of [trades]men coming and going from my house in the last few months! I did finish sewing the net curtains before I hung the chain over my bed for the hammock - I hope this didn't stifle their imaginations!


I do find it slightly bizarre that my story is out there on the internet but that the neighbours close by have no idea. That said, my next door neighbour has known of the plan since before I even started trying to conceive and applauds the whole concept, and next door-but-one, a fabulous lady who I think could become a great friend, congratulated me, no questions asked, and gave me some really nice baby clothes.

Now that all the house preparation and study is out of the way, I am starting to get ready to have a baby. I have been a bit of a headless chook with all that has been going on, and so have made a real effort in the last week to relax and chill, to ground myself and begin to focus on introducing a new little being to the planet in the gentlest and calmest way that I can.

I am hoping that I can get through the birth without any nasty drugs or interventions, in a birthing centre with midwife led care. I have a great doula friend and the baby's daddy to support me during the birth. I feel quite lucky with this support, and also with the facility, as all evidence suggests that it is one of the best places in the country to have a baby.

It sounds bizarre, but although I have known for 35 weeks now that there is a baby growing inside me, I have found it really hard to comprehend that my bump is going to turn into a babe in my arms. I love my bump. I love feeling the kicks, punches and bum wiggles, and watching my belly dance. I like how he sometimes makes the covers move on my bed. I am constantly stroking him. Although it has sometimes been hard, and at times I have felt terrible, I have loved being pregnant. It is a joy to nurture a new life inside you, and I am constantly amazed at what my body can do.

Last week when I was packing my hospital bag, I began to comprehend that finally I am going to have a baby. The moment came as I worked through the list of things to pack and came to the part that said 'soft toy for the baby'. Now, at first I thought that perhaps I wouldn't bother with that, I don't think that baby will really take much notice of it. But then I had a second thought that it could be nice, and so went to the cot to carefully select a toy. I picked this little guy


as he is new (bought especially for Mr Bump by my auntie), soft, small and cute. As I picked him up and looked at him I began to cry and cry. I am actually going to have a child. I still can't quite believe that my dream is coming true... but I am getting there.

I've also had a couple of really vivid dreams in the last few days. The first was that a little hand stretched through the skin of my belly grabbed my finger, and the second dream was of his face appearing though my belly. Both signs that I am getting ready to meet my little man I think.

Can't wait to meet you my little one.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Is that a light I see, through the dusty haze?

Firstly, thanks to everyone that has contacted me to check that I am OK. I am really touched by the care and support of my virtual network.

In answer to that question, yes I am ok. I have just been totally snowed under with trying to get things done here so that I can have a baby! Caught up in real life instead of my online one I guess, which some may say is a good thing. Personally, having a few moments to sit down and reflect and blog would be my preference.

So - LOTS has happened since my last update. Things are starting to come together. I am working my way through the dust.

The Kitchen
Having the kitchen done was a major upheaval. Of course all of the contents of the cupboards had to come out, so they ended up filling the lounge. Then the new kitchen units arrived, and these had to be stored in the lounge too. This actually meant that I couldn't even move through the space, never mind find a place to sit. And of course I had no cooking facilities either, and at times no gas or electricity. Fortunately my mum and dad live close by and they were kind enough to put me up for a couple of weeks while it was all happening. I did come back regularly and look at how things were going. I am regretting now that I didn't take step by step photographs, but at the time I found it all so overwhelming and depressing I couldn't even photograph the state of the place.  Anyway - basically it has gone from this


To this


To be honest, I am not too sure what I think of it. Maybe the tiles are too orange. Initially I was going to have some green in there, but I decided against it. Perhaps it would have been better. Ah well - once I get all the stuff back on the benches and the grout goes in it will be fine. To be honest, I am almost past caring at this point - I just want it over with!

The tiler will be back to do the grout on Thursday, and after that it should be COMPLETE!

The Laundry
This is also being tiled today and will be grouted and FINISHED on Thursday

The Bathroom
The shower is now fully functioning with hot water which is fabulous. They are coming to lay the floor on Friday and then that will be DONE too!

Nursery
Everything got moved from the old study leaving it free to become the nursery. I bought a  very disappointing and flimsy wardrobe (the carpenter added some reinforcement in the form of corner braces so it is not quite so bad now, but still...) Although the internet is a great place to buy things most of the time, sometimes it really would pay to look at what you are purchasing first. I got my revenge with the online review though!

I managed to find a cot on ebay for a good price and bought a new mattress. I also got lots of baby clothes and cloth nappies (Motherease, for the interested!) from ebay and from some lovely friends and rellies, washed them all and put them away. It was so lovely to see all those little clothes  and nappies on the line, and I do find myself looking in the door every now and again.






















The quilt on the cot just arrived this weekend and was made by baby's grandmother on daddy's side. Not only is it beautiful, it is also a wonderful gesture which shows that, despite the extraordinary circumstances, baby is welcome in their family too - that means so much!



With this, I can conclude that the nursery is READY!

The big clean
I can assure you that you don't have this much building work done in your house without creating a huge amount of dust. When I moved back in after the kitchen was finished the place was a nightmare to say the least - you could hardly tell the colour of the carpet or the lounge suite. So, I set to work, washing and ironing seat covers and curtains, and cleaning carpets... I did totally wear myself out and suffer for it, but it was worth it to spend a day relaxing in a clean lounge. 

I still have a few house jobs to do. Once the tiler has finished there will be some touching up to be done on the paintwork, and I still have few cleaning and moving and tidying things to do to get everything into it's home, hooks to put up and that sort of thing, but really THE END IS IN SIGHT!

Finishing work
I have also finished work, a little over a week ago now, and although this may be earlier than most people finish, I was actually ready for it. It was also good timing as I ran out of students! With the first paper of the GCSE maths exam taking place yesterday and paper 2 on Thursday, my services are not required until next year. I have high hopes for this year's group too. I really feel that many of the students that I worked with could have made the jump from a D to a C. I am looking forward to results day to find out how they all did.

Concluding my studies
A final thing that I want to get to get finished prior to munchkin's entry in to the world is my studies. I have been going to uni on weekends and in school holidays for the past year to do a course that will make me a qualified maths specialist. I have just 2 more days to attend, finishing next week, and the essays and exams to complete. My plan is to have the whole thing completed by 21st June. Having done all of the coursework, the presentation and completed 2 of the 4 essays (one of them in the last 2 days!) I am confident that this will happen too. 

Feeling lousy and lucky all at once
Last week I commuted to London 3 days in a row for uni, getting up at 5.30 am and catching the 6.43am train.  The week left me completely drained of energy and enthusiasm, with legs and feet that more closely resembled those of an elephant than of a human being, and along with that, a feeling of total overwhelm that I will never be though all of this and recovered in time to have a baby. To top it all off, I then developed a stinking cold.

On Friday afternoon, baby daddy arrived and we started sorting out the final things we need to do to be baby ready. This included things like buying a car seat, and writing the birth preferences. He also did heaps of jobs for me, like plant things in my garden, which has become incredibly difficult with an enormous belly... We trawled around the shops trying to buy the final items until I was dead on my elephant feet and could look no more. On Sunday, he sent me an email with details of an order for everything else on the list, which he had found, bought, and arranged to be delivered to my house. What an amazing guy. I cried with relief/joy/gratitude when the email came though.

Then, just a couple of hours later, another email from my friend and doula, answering all my questions about the birth preferences. She makes all the difference, knowing she will be there makes me so much more relaxed about the whole process. I know she will support me, encourage me, advise me and defend me and it all so very reassuring.

So, with the cold, the hormones and the fatigue, Sunday was an interesting day emotionally. Despite feeling lousy, I have a gorgeous friend to help me with the birth, an amazing baby daddy, and a beautiful baby wriggling in my belly, so I also feel like the luckiest girl in the world!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Crazy World

Sorry for the serious post, but this is something that I feel the need to say...

I don't know about you, but I am struggling with this whole idea of celebrating the death of another, no matter who, or what they may have done.

Rather than rejoice in the demise of another, I found I actually shed a tear. Not for him personally may I add, but it makes me sad for the world - that this is what we have become. Is there no end to this cycle of madness?

Thanks to a friend, I do now have the words to express how I feel. They are not my words, but those of Martin Luther King.

‎"I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that." - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr

Thanks MLK - and thank you Holi for sharing those words with me.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The tiredness and tedium of a third trimester building project - and other stuff

I think I can definitely say that the tiredness of the third trimester has set in. The combination of sleepless nights, carrying a water melon and some reasonably hard physical labour for a desk jobber, is starting to take it's toll. I am trying to pace myself, but it is hard when there is so much to do.

There has been progress since the last post.

Here are all the books in their new home -I'm not showing the rest of the room as the floor is covered in things for the new kitchen.


At the moment the books are just plonked on the shelves, waiting for me to have time to sort them more appropriately. I am enjoying their randomness at the moment though. My favourite shelf is the third one down in the middle - this houses a wonderfully eclectic range of publications which include The Holy Bible, Knock Yourself Up, Teach Yourself Recorder, a bit of economic theory, some James Lovelock, some Thich Nhat Hanh, and Frankie Bolye's autobiography! 

The cloakroom is done - with the exception of the floor. I now have a place for coats and shoes for the first time since I moved in, and some shelves that aren't even full yet - bet that wont take long!


Moving the shelves out of the old office meant that the nursery to be was now empty, enabling me to get to work on filling the holes where the shelves came from and painting the wall. This is now complete and the wardrobe and drawers have been ordered... 

The bathroom saw a little progress this week too. I am amazed at how long this has taken. When I was getting quotes I was told it could take a week - here we are a month in! Not too much more to do, but I hesitate to put a finish date on it. Soon I hope -  can't wait to have a shower instead of having to maneuver my incredible bulk in and out of the bath tub every day.




















The water is connected in the laundry and downstairs loo now, the washing machine has moved to it's new home and the tumble dryer arrives tomorrow.

Work on the kitchen still hasn't started - it was supposed to be this week, but now it is next... once again I have given up on the idea of a finish date. Just SOOON PLEEEEASE!!!!!

I am slowly getting the garden going too. The potatoes are growing like crazy, the strawberries are in flower, the salad leaves are coming along nicely and I have enough tomato plants to start a nursery. I am trying to pluck up the courage to plant the sweet peas along the chicken fence but I fear I will be committing be planticide when I do. I sewed courgette, butternut squash and two types of climbing bean in the propagator today and attacked a few weeds with my hoe.

Today I washed my car, for what I have decided is the last time before bubba joins us - basically because there is a big dirty line down the middle of the roof that I could't reach! Ah well - the rest looks better, but I think next time it will be Jo's carwash!

Other events this week include losing my job! When having the discussion about maternity leave and my return to work it was dropped in to the conversation that our project funding will end in July and none of the team have jobs! Grand! To make it a little worse, no one had bothered to tell us - they assumed we knew (hmmm, so one wonders what the meeting we had just before the holidays about all the new paperwork processes and procedures they are bringing in for us next year was all about!). So, it was left to me to break the news to my colleagues which was less than fun, one person just resigned from a permanent job just before Easter to join us full time. I think the conditions of my maternity leave are that they have to offer me something, but I don't know what this will be yet. 19 more working days left BTW - and counting!

I also started my childbirth classes. The teacher is fab and so considerate too. She rang me the day before and asked if I was ok with the fact that everyone else was in couples, and to warn me that there would be lots of talk about 'dads'. I managed to reassure her that my baby has a dad too, and that I will be well supported in the delivery suite, which I think is what she was most worried about. She also mentioned that one of the couples was coming from March, and would you believe it I know them!  Well the guy at least. His parents and my parents were friends when we were little kiddies ourselves. We worked out that we met when we were about 4 and hadn't seen each other since leaving school. The class was really good too, a brilliant combination of laid back, informative and fun. The other couples all seem lovely and I do hope I make some new friends. Two of the women share the same due date as me.

It is starting to feel a bit more real that there is a baby in there. I now have pretty much everything baby needs, including his clothes. Really looking forward to meeting him now and find myself laying in bed, imagining him gurgling next to me.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Mr Greedy, Mr Bump and all their little helpers

So, I think it is pretty obvious who is playing Mr Greedy in this story!


My mum took this photo today so that we could send it to daddy, and I have to say even I was surprised at how big I look. Amazingly my enormous belly is not too much of a problem in a day to day situation, though bending down is quite tricky, and I have been attempting to do that quite a lot lately.

Although we didn't see anything of the plumber, carpenter or tiler this week, I am lucky enough to have had several helpers and a little more progress has been made on the house. The painter came on Monday and Tuesday and completed all the painting in the laundry, study and cloakroom, and on Wednesday my mum and dad came to help with building the flat pack furniture for the study and moving books down the stairs. With any luck,  by the end of Easter weekend, the old study will be totally cleared and ready for me to start making it into a room for the baby and the cloakroom will have shelves and hooks.

I am also getting a little bit more ready to have a baby. On Monday I went to visit the hospital (Hinchingbrooke) where Mr Bump will be born. It is lovely. I am hoping to stay low risk so that I can use the midwife only unit. Another amazing helper came along on the visit with me. I feel so very very lucky as I have a friend who is both a practicing doula and trainee midwife, who is supporting me for this whole journey. She came on the hospital visit and asked the questions I didn't even know I needed to ask and then came home with me for the night to help me with the birth plan. She is awesome, and I feel so so fortunate to have her by my side. The comfort, security and support that I have just from knowing that she is there with me is the most amazing gift for which I will be eternally grateful.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Developments downstairs

So, the bathroom may have come to a halt with the main man on his holidays, but there has been progress in other areas.

Thanks to loads of people helping out, including my mum and dad, and a friend who came for half a day's painting in exchange for 6 eggs, 3 tomato plants, and some beer, it is starting to come together and look as though it may possibly get finished one day.

The floor is down in the new bit


The doors are on


The bench top and sink are in (washing machine and tumble dryer will go under here)


The new toilet and handbasin is fitted (but not yet connected)


The old toilet has been removed, plumbing all sealed off and hidden away.


Plans for next week are for the painter to do the woodwork in the new bit and treat the doors. Then he will smarten up the old loo, which is aspiring to become a cloakroom very soon. I will be busy making flat pack shelving up for the new study and moving things in. Hopefully by the end of next week I'll have a functioning new study and new cloakroom...

... then I'll be able to get started on the nursery, which really isn't such a huge task, more about clearing a space and getting all the baby stuff in one room so that I can see what I have and what I need.

Feeling so much better about it all now.

The end is in sight!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Spreading Happiness - or should that be Blissfulness?

Following an interesting interaction with people preaching doom and gloom at me at my front my door, a little facebook conversation among friends resulted in me posting my thoughts on happiness. You see, my door knockers are waiting for God to fix things. They believe that the world is going in a downhill spiral and that we face certain doom because there are not enough people asking God to sort the world out. I told them that I thought people may be able to do something too, and was immediately shot down. According to my visitors, we can't do anything but believe and trust in God!

Now, don't get me wrong, my gripe is not with people that believe or trust in God, that's totally fine, but those people who are passive, and do nothing for themselves or others and expect God to do it all - now they really get my goat. Surely a few little human helpers on earth would be a good thing right? Lots of them would be better!

And then there is the philosophy that goes with focussing on doom and gloom, or on the brighter side of life. We have a choice of what to focus our energy on. In Australia I was lucky enough to work with a great organisation called OzGreen. Whilst working with their YouthLEAD program I learned a phrase that they share with all participants; "Where you put your energy GROWS" .  In my experience this is most definitely true. So, shall we choose to grow doom and gloom or happiness? Well, I know my thoughts on that. Where you put your energy is your choice.






As if to reinforce the growth of my happiness theory, no sooner had I posted my comment referencing this on Facebook, than an item came on the radio about Action for Happiness - a new mass movement for social change being launched today. Their website is currently receiving an overwhelming number of hits, but when you can get on, take a look. There is an article Let the Happiness In in the Guardian too, and a video on YouTube



and another talk I found on the TED website



So, lets all go forth and create a little happiness today.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Grape Thing


Yes I know, not a very sophisitcated name, but this is how it's known in our family.



Ingredients

A packet of sponge fingers
Almond cordial*
Bunch of green grapes
300-400ml double cream
1 -2 tbsp demerara sugar

Method

Place sponge fingers in the bottom of a flan dish to cover base
Soak with cordial/almond essence mix
Wash grapes and cut each in half (remove pips if they have any)
Place grapes, cut side down, to cover the sponge finger layer
Whip cream and spread over the top to cover grapes
Sprinkle the sugar over the top of the cream
Place under a medium grill to melt the sugar
WARNING: you need to watch this - if you leave it too long the cream will melt and you'll have a disaster - remove as soon as the sugar starts to blend in to the cream
Chill in the fridge (overnight if possible)

*this can be hard to find - substitute with almond essence and other fluid such as sherry or another nice cordial - the one pictured used Morelo Cherry cordial which worked quite well

Friday, April 8, 2011

One day to go on the bathroom - it will be a miracle if actually happens

So, this is how the bathroom looks as I leave it this morning. The tiles that are in place so far all went on on Wednesday. The tiler was unable to achieve anything in the bathroom on Thursday due to the carpenter and plumber working in there. The plumber has fitted the toilet (though I had to call him out at 9.30 pm last night as it was leaking!) and the bath is plumbed in, and there is water to the shower but it is not fitted yet.


The carpenter got the units in and the bench top fitted.


I am liking how it's looking, but I don't think it will be done today!

Yet to do:
  • fix the leaking loo
  • put in waste for the sink
  • tile the remaining 2 walls, including the fiddly bits like round the window, door and recess.
  • grout all of the tiles
  • move the pipes for the radiator
  • install radiator
  • put in shower
  • replace floor
  • add fixtures and fittings (shower rail loo roll holder etc)
and two weeks before the builder/tiler returns...  Perhaps I will be pleasantly surprised/amazed.

FX

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Bathroom Blitz

For those wanting before, during and after photos of the bathroom - here we go...

4th April am

This is before. Not too bad you may say (I am thinking that now!!!) but, I had no shower, no storage space, the toilet didn't flush  - and it was pink!

4th April am


In all honesty I wouldn't have bothered if it weren't for wanting a shower. To put a shower in I needed to tile above the bath, and the tiles would be different, so I had to change all the tiles.  Plus I needed a new loo, and would like a cupboard under the sink and so the idea of ripping out the whole lot and starting again was born. I should have a bit more space too as it was possible to knock out the fake wall so we can move the toilet and sink back 8" or so.

4th April pm

By the time I got home on Monday night the old bathroom suite was in the back yard, the tiles off, the fake wall gone, the new bath installed, and the shower pipes in place.

4th April pm
Bill the builder came on Tuesday - not much appears to have changed, but he plastered some bits and prepared the surface ready to tile.

April 5th pm

5th April pm

He has 3 days to get it done before he goes on his hols.


Will he do it?