My Labour Story

3 May 2017

My due date of March 11th came and went with no signs of Peanut joining the world any time soon. Three days later, I had an appointment at my hospital to discuss options as my blood pressure had risen suddenly and an induction was booked for 6 days time. I had always been opposed to induction, as the idea of having labour started artificially scared me somewhat, and truthfully, I really wanted things to get going on their own. 'Baby will come when baby is ready' was how I'd always focused my mindset. However, having an induction booked as a plan b meant that Dan could plan things with his work should I get that far, and it gave us an idea of when we would be finally meeting our baby.

6 days flew by, and Dan and I made sure we went on a final date night to eat Nandos and go to the cinema to see the new Beauty and the Beast. I had some twinges over the weekend along with some bleeding, but nothing happened. It was obvious that the induction was looking likely.

Monday 20th March

Dan went off to work as normal because we didn't know what time I'd be called into hospital. I rung at 8am and was told to make my way in for 1pm. My hospital bags had been packed for weeks, so I didn't really have anything to prep beforehand. In fact, I had a really nice, extra long shower, blow dried my hair and watched lots of Pretty Little Liars to keep me nice and chilled before heading into hospital. Dan arrived home at midday and we made our way to the maternity department.

I was given a private room with en suite and we made ourselves comfortable. A midwife came and took some blood and put me on the monitor to check Peanut's heart rate - all of which was fine. They then began the induction - for me, this was a pessary called 'Propess', which is basically a teeny tiny flat tampon that's left inside of you for 24 hours to get labour going gradually. Whilst they started the induction, I was also told I was already 2cm dilated which was positive! I was advised to walk lots to help the pessary do its thing and to keep active around the hospital grounds. Dan and I ended up walking around the hospital not really knowing where to go or what to do, and hoping for contractions to really get going start. During the afternoon, I was moved to a 6 bed ward (slightly disappointing because the en suite was such a bonus!) and I just read lots of magazines and had a few naps.

At 9pm, all partners had to leave to go home. This was where I had my first lot of tears. I didn't want Dan to go home! What if something happened overnight? Would Dan be ok at home on his own? I've never been bothered about staying in hospitals on my own before, but this time seemed different. We had been anticipating the birth of our baby for so long, and with impending contractions, I just wanted him with me. Fortunately, I had a fantastic midwife called Nicky and she let Dan stay until 10pm. We had a big cuddle and kiss, and he said he'd be back first thing in the morning, unless something happened before. Once he'd gone, I snuggled down under the sheet, read some of my magazine and got ready for hopefully my last broken nights sleep.

Tuesday 21st March

I woke at 6am to very slight contractions and couldn't help feeling disappointed. Why was it taking so long? I still had over 6 hours of this pessary and it certainly didn't feel like I was in active labour. Dan returned back to hospital at 7:30am and we went for another walk around the hospital and grabbed some breakfast. At 10am, my Mum popped by with some Clarins goodies and some fresh towels so I could have a nice shower, and she also brought Max along to say hello who was obviously missing me greatly. I had a long, hot shower and remember wondering if this would be the last time I carefully climbed in and out of a bathtub with a massive bump in front of me.

At 2pm, a midwife came and checked my pessary, but it was nowhere to be found. It must have dropped out when I went to the loo at some point, and this would explain why I hadn't had any mega contractions yet! I was SO frustrated, my blood pressure went up and I had a good sob to Dan. When would we get to meet our baby?! A senior midwife came and started the second phase of the induction - this was another pessary, but this time it was a dissolvable tablet called 'Prostin' that takes 6 hours to work. I was still 2cm dilated and told to carry on walking around the hospital grounds. Around 7pm, my Dad popped to the hospital to see me and brought Dan some food to keep him going. At this point, only family and limited friends knew that I was in hospital so I was dodging all 'Any baby yet?' questions like the plague! In fact, my last ever pregnant selfie was sent to Victoria, so consider yourself lucky girl! At 10:30pm, midwife Nicky put me back on the monitor for 45 mins. I was getting significant contractions according to the monitor but they weren't painful at all and I just carried on reading through them. Once all of my checks were done, Dan left at midnight (Nicky was amazing and let him stay for all important things). I told him to get some sleep but I'd ring him if there was any progress, as Nicky had told me that my waters would be broken in the morning if nothing else happened overnight.

Wednesday 22nd March

Once Dan had gone, I settled down in my hospital bed and decided to read about Disney trivia to take my mind off the contractions which were coming in thick and fast, but at this point were very doable. Around 1am, I was reading about Pocahontas (I know...classic Tamsin) when suddenly I felt a spurt of water in my Tinkerbell pjs. Could this be my waters? I got out of bed and suddenly it was like Niagara Falls between my legs - yes, this was definitely my waters! Nicky came and put me back on the monitor to check Peanut, and I was suddenly very aware that I was now just casually sat in my underwear with a giant maternity pad on, feeling water just gush out of me. Nice! At 2am, Nicky told me to call Dan and my Mum (my other birthing partner) and tell them to get into hospital asap as I would be going to Labour Ward at 3am. I remember wanting to punch the air - YES. This was IT. This was MY TIME!

I chilled in the corridor of the maternity department until 3am when Dan and my Mum turned up drinking freshly brewed Costa Coffee's (priorities to keep them awake obviously!) My Mum was telling me how she'd been flashed by a speeding camera on the way to the hospital, and Dan felt sick with excitement and nerves. Nicky took us to our room on Labour Ward and wished us luck. I felt so sad to say goodbye to her as she'd looked after me for 3 days, but my new midwife, EJ came and said hello and I liked her straight away. Contractions were still doable at this point but were pretty painful. I found the most comfortable position was standing up and leaning over the bed so that's what I did.

Around 4am, contractions got heavier and I started with gas and air. Let me tell you now, gas and air is a wonderful thing! It made me so dehydrated but it worked wonders. Contractions were full on at this point and Dan, my Mum and EJ were talking me through them. I was using my hypnobirthing techniques and went very much into myself - I took myself off to another location in my head, breathed through everything, and used the breaks in contractions to my advantage - to really, really rest before it all started up again.

From this point, everything gets far more hazy. The midwife said it was like I was in a coma at points because I was so focused on my breathing and hypnobirthing. I was 5cm and I remember saying that I was getting lots of pressure in my bum. EJ told me it was far too early to push and to carry on what I was doing. Dan and my Mum carried on talking me through my contractions, and before I knew it, the room was saying 'wow Tamsin, you're just over 9cm!' I'd gone from 5cm to pretty much fully dilated in over an hour. I then got on the bed on all fours, and began to throw up all over Dan. EJ got really excited and said that being sick was great news because it meant I was nearly ready to start pushing. I remember everyone laughing at me because I'd been drinking blue isotonic sports drinks to keep me going, and it looked like I was throwing up WKD Blue.

By this point, the need to push was unbearable. And I mean really unbearable, like nothing I'd ever experienced. EJ gave me the heads up that if I wanted to push, I now could. FINALLY! Dan helped me onto my back and I began to push. I remember feeling so emotional at this point - pushing meant my baby was nearly here, but my pregnancy was almost over. However, I focused on pushing with support from Dan, my Mum and EJ and a few more midwives joined the room for extra support. Within minutes of pushing, I could hear people saying 'the baby has hair!' and that made me push harder. A doctor came in the room with some surgical instruments and I remember getting a bit teary at this point because I realised that they were going to give me a small episiotomy. However, I would have let them cut my left leg off at this point if it meant me getting to finally meet my baby.

I felt nothing of the episiotomy thanks to a minor injection, and with help from the ventouse, Peanut arrived in 2 final pushes. Suddenly, baby was on my chest and I was sobbing my heart out. Dan then said 'We have a girl!' and we both cried our eyes out together. My mum then cried with me saying 'You did it! You got your Disney Princess!' It was the best and most overwhelming moment of my life.

Grace Lilian Gardner joined the world 11 days past her due date, weighed 8lbs exactly and was an extremely contented baby from the second she was born. Dan snuggled into her whilst the midwife gave me a couple of tiny stitches, and she was back in my arms within 20 minutes or so. My labour was only 4 hours, was swift and problem free, and I had a healthy baby in my arms - I couldn't ask for more.

Whilst I was being stitched, I said 'I would do that again. Not tomorrow, but I'd do it all again.' And it's true. I would do it all again. Labour hurts but it's so, so doable. I fully believe that preparation helps so much, and I actually enjoyed the experience. I still get emotional thinking about it now, but wow, what a journey!

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Welcome to the world, Grace

5 April 2017

Well, this post really does seem a long time coming!

Introducing Grace Lilian Gardner.

Born on 22nd March 2017 at 07:46am, weighing 8lbs exactly.

I'm very excited and proud to introduce you all to my little Peanut, who turned out to be Team Pink! Gracie is 14 days old today, and it's been a whirlwind two weeks since she entered this big wide world.

Being a mother is by far the best thing I've ever had the privilege of doing so far in my life, and so far, everything is going unbelievably well. Grace sleeps like a dream (usually through the night too...I know. What a star!) and is such a calm and contented baby. Our midwife was really impressed with Grace's development and her focus is incredible. Not only that, but she's breastfeeding really well, and is near to being back at her birth weight within 2 weeks.

Dan and I are utterly besotted as you can imagine. In fact, Dan has gone back to work today as his paternity leave has sadly drawn to a close, and he's already sad not to be around every day. In his two weeks off, Dan was such a source of support. I had a drink in my hands without asking for one, he cooked every single meal, tidied every single room in the house, and probably did more wash loads in 14 days than he's done in his life! I'm exceptionally lucky to have such an incredible fiancee and father to our girly.

Today is mine and Grace's first day just the two of us, and so far, so good! We've been for a nice walk with Max, and I didn't find the pram/dog lead mix as stressful as I thought I would. I've put on two washloads, written thank you cards to family and friends for our beautiful gifts for Grace and have done some online shopping. I'm actually pretty impressed with myself! We're now eagerly awaiting Dan to get home from work so he can have a snuggle with Gracie and we can have a nice dinner together and take Max to the park to throw a ball for him.

I've had lots of people asking if I will be posting about my labour story, and I will be! So keep an eye out for that this weekend. I can't wait to tell you all about it, as I actually really enjoyed labour and would do it again in a heartbeat!

Thank you all so, so much for your love and well wishes on the birth of our little Gracie. It's utterly amazing to have our Peanut here in the flesh and get to breath that wonderful baby smell in every day. I hope you join us for our new journey as parents on the blog!

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Thoughts on being 'overdue'

20 March 2017

I'm going to be pregnant forever.

That's what it feels like right now anyway. I genuinely feel like April the I've been growing a baby for over 15 months. In fact, April the Giraffe may possibly beat me at giving birth (it's still a possibility).

Before I became pregnant, I was oblivious to a lot of things, and now I know that the phrase 'due date' is probably the most annoying phrase in the world. A 'due date' suggests that something is expected on that date, much like a parcel. But my baby isn't an order, and it isn't something that you can choose to be delivered by express delivery at a certain time. It's a living, breathing, tiny human and only your body can decide when it's ready for baby to meet the world.

For that reason, I've spent the whole of my pregnancy calling my 'due date' my 'guess date', because essentially, that's all it really is. A guess.

I've always focused on the mantra that baby will come when baby is ready. There is no point trying to wish baby to be here if the time is not right as that would be no good for me and definitely no good for baby. It needs to be a natural process, and if our bodies are so incredible that they can grow a human life, then our bodies are clever enough to deliver when ready.

However, it can get frustrating waiting around. You start to doubt your own body. Am I able to do this? Is my body doing what it's meant to be doing? Why have others gone into labour and I haven't yet? I think all of these questions are normal really. When you've spent 9 months waiting for the best present of your life, it's only natural that the excitement can turn to angst. A baby will have to come eventually, and whether it's today, tomorrow or Saturday, baby will come.

So, according to my 'guess date', I'm now overdue by 9 days. I'm uncomfortable, tired, anxious and emotional, yet still positive and smiling.

I've tried to focus on just relaxing, spending time with Dan, walking little Max and making sure absolutely everything is ready for Peanut's arrival. I've had my hair done. I've eaten about 40 million Nandos. I went and saw the new Beauty and the Beast and ate fresh pineapple throughout.

Every day I go and stand in the nursery and just take it all in. It's ready and waiting, we're ready and waiting!

I've lost count of how many times I've hoovered, the kitchen is constantly being cleaned, and the hospital bags are waiting by the door. There's only so long left and I know the end of being pregnant is finally near. This crazy 9 month journey that has kept me on my toes (and sometimes face down into a toilet bowl) is nearly over.

I'm just going to savour nurturing my bump whilst I can, until bump turns into baby.

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Home Improvements: Garden Edition

14 March 2017

Has anyone been spying the glimpse of sunshine we've had recently? I didn't need to wear my coat whilst walking Max and I genuinely could have done with sunglasses when I was driving at points. Yesterday, I sat down at our family allotment with my Mum whilst she planted some asparagus (I would have helped but, y'know...being pregnant and overdue sucks.) It was glorious just sitting there in the sun, feeling the warmth on my face. I could actually feel the vitamin D soaking into my skin. Total bliss. It was a wonderful hint that Spring is on the way, and that Summer will follow soon after. Dan and I are so excited, that we've booked not one, but two Summer holidays. I know - mega keen!

But more on those another day.

With the weather changing, it's been hard not to think about sprucing up the outdoor regions of our house. In all honesty, there's not much that we need to do as we have a lot of communal areas that are taken care by a management team, but I love planning things for my parents garden. With a new baby arriving to the family, they've already been planning moving bits around the garden to make way for all sorts of kids toys and even a little wendy house!

We already have a hot tub, so I think the next big investment would be some really decent garden furniture. I've always loved cosy & comfy rattan chairs so this would be on my to-buy list. It would be lovely to have a barbecue with friends and then relax back with a glass of pimms - perfect!

Speaking of barbecues - you really don't need to have an incredible one to be an outdoor cooking connoisseur. Dan and I have created some serious food masterpieces from some basic disposable barbecues in the past and I'm pretty sure many of you have too! However, this bbq meets fire pit would definitely be one of my Summer wishlist buys. The fact that it's slightly lower to the ground and round means that it's a natural gathering point for family and friends. You can just imagine everyone sitting round it, tucking into hot dogs and homemade burgers keeping toasty warm as the coals burn. Ideal scenario in my opinion.

Kind of a kid like wishlist item, but I've always wanted one of these inflatable outdoor lounger chairs to relax in. This would be ideal for camping too as you can just take it with you wherever you go. I'd have to be careful of Max's little claws though or the whole thing would just go pop! He loves sunbathing as much as I do you see.

Does anyone have any plans to spruce up their garden for this Summer? I'd love to know your recommendations for fire pits, although I think that bbq/firepit might be an incredible buy!

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Pregnancy: what I'll miss & what I won't miss

10 March 2017

Would you believe it, but my due date is tomorrow. I'd like to say that it's crept up on Dan and I, but it really hasn't. The date has snowballed towards us at the rate of an avalanche, and even though we're ready for Peanut to arrive and frustrated with waiting for what seems like forever, it can be quite overwhelming too. I must have gone over my hospital bags 5 times, and I will stand in the nursery and just look around for minutes at a time. It's a surreal phase in my life.

One of the questions that you get asked often with pregnancy is 'have you enjoyed it?' It's an interesting question actually, as I don't think any woman goes through pregnancy without any troubles, big or small. 9 months seems a long time, yet somehow it's short too. Your body goes through so much and it's a time that is totally 100% life changing. One day, you're pregnant, and the next day, you're not and you have this little bundle of joy to look after. It's actually a very bizarre concept when you think about it. It got me thinking about the things that I'm going to miss about pregnancy and the things that I'm not going to miss so much.

Things I'll Miss

  • Knowing you're imperative to nourishing and growing a new life which you and your love have created. There's nothing quite like it.
  • Feeling baby move inside you - from the earliest flutters to the largest of kicks where it genuinely takes your breath away (and can sometimes even hurt!)
  • Planning for the future - Dan and I have loved decorating the nursery, booking our holidays and speaking to airlines about purchasing a baby ticket once they've arrived, discussing what schools they may go to in the years to come.
  • Watching your body change - it's sometimes been hard, but for the most part, it is absolutely incredible. Not a day has gone past without me thinking 'wow, I have a baby inside of me.'
  • Taking weekly bump photos - if you feel like you haven't grown a bump, then weekly bump photos are the way to confirm that you have! 
  • Listening to baby's heartbeat - this is overwhelmingly amazing. The first time Dan and I heard it, we just couldn't believe it. That was our baby, and it's little heart! Beating fast and strong. I've saved all the recordings to my phone, and we even have the heartbeat inside of a teddy bear for us to play back.
  • Friendliness of strangers - this might seem weird, but so many people want to chat to you when you're pregnant. Every shop you go in, the staff seem to want to ask you what you're having, when you're due, if you have long left etc. It's really lovely.
  • The anticipation of what's to come - even on a bad day, knowing that in a couple of months/weeks/days I will have my baby is the most incredible feeling. It makes every day worth it. 
  • Nourishing my bump with oils and butters - there is something lovely about giving your bump a mini massage every day and looking after the skin. It feels like you're cuddling your baby somehow.

Things I Won't Miss

  • Constant worry - OK, I know this one won't go away once the baby is here, but it will be a different type of worry. The worry you have whilst pregnant (particularly in the first trimester) can be all consuming. Is the baby ok? Should I be eating this? The list goes on, and all you want to know is that your baby is doing fine.
  • Sickness/nausea - Not everyone gets this in pregnancy, and if you don't then you're lucky, but I've suffered with this a lot in the last 9 months. In the early days where you have no bump, it can be very embarrassing if you don't get to a toilet in time (this has happened to me many times) and people assume you have a massive hangover. Not only this, but the nausea knocks you for six. There were days I couldn't lift my head without feeling like I was going to fall over.
  • Needing the toilet all the time - This is no joke, I mean all the time. As baby gets bigger, your bladder gets more squashed, which means you end up needing the loo constantly. I'm looking forward to having my bladder back to it's normal size and not planning shopping trips around public loos, believe me!
  • Feeling uncomfortable - this gets worse as the pregnancy goes on, and I cannot remember the last time I had a decent sleep. Whether it's back pain, tummy pain, side pain, pelvic pain, or general discomfort, it does make your life very, very hard sometimes.
  • Sleeping on your side - I naturally sleep on my stomach, so this has been hard to adapt to. You're not recommended to sleep on your back either, which means you can only sleep on your sides, preferably your left side. It's not a natural way to sleep for me so I've had to train myself to do it, and it hasn't been nice!
  • Heartburn - I'd never experienced it before pregnancy. Trust me, it. is. horrible.
  • Strangers touching your bump - I don't know why randomers feel the need to touch your bump, but they do. And by the time they're asking 'can I feel your bump?' their hands are already on you. It actually feels very invasive.
  • The way your body just says no to foods - this really does happen. My body has hardly let me eat meat the whole way through this pregnancy, and even wouldn't let me eat avocados for a month or two. I know. The horror.
  • Not being able to eat/drink certain foods - I cannot wait for a massive cheeseboard, washed down with a nice glass of red wine. 
  • Needing assistance all the time - it feels like it's been forever since I was able to get in and out of the bath on my own. And don't even get me started on putting on socks and shoes.
  • Not being able to see my feet - this is similar to the point above and causes all sorts of problems.

I'm sure many other women can relate to this. Pregnancy is a crazy journey of ups and downs. Just as it starts, you get nearer to the end. All I know is that I wouldn't have changed my pregnancy for the world, and I'm just really ready to meet little Peanut now.

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