My Birthing Story – A Vaginal Birth with Induction and No Pain Meds

PC Diary @ 38 Weeks 3 Days – The Final Entry

20 Dec: Preparing to expand our Family to 3.  My Tuesday 20th December started out with uncertainty – uncertainty as to when exactly I would be admitted to hospital to start the induction process.  Chris took the whole day off work and we planned for it to be our last day together as a family of 2.  It started with a visit to my Obstetrician to check the status of my cervix.  I was still only 2cm dilated and 70% effaced.  This meant that my doctor wanted me to be admitted to hospital later that evening to ripen my cervix.  So Chris and I decided to finally do something we always talk about doing but never got round to doing – take a trip to Cracker Barrel for lunch.  Yes, four years in Virginia and we had yet to visit a Cracker Barrel!  We stuffed ourselves as if it was our last meal ever.

It was very surreal knowing that I was going to start labour imminently.  The final hours before I called the hospital to check if I should come in were beautiful.  Chris and I shared a candle lit bath together and relaxed.  Afterwards we sat down together and put together a birthing music playlist.  We went through all my music, reminised over our various wedding playlists and created a 5 hour mix of chilled out tunes.  This proved to be one of the best things we could have done together.

20 Dec 7PM – It was time to call the hospital – but it was shift change so no one knew if I should come in.  Eventually at 9PM the hospital told me to come in….and to make sure I had eaten because as soon as I was admitted I would not be allowed to eat!!!! We grabbed our hospital bags and got in the car, the 15 minute drive to the hospital was quiet, I noticed all the Christmas lights for the first time.  This was not how I had imagined my labour to begin; I had imagined being in the midst of contractions, sat on a towel just in case my waters broke.  Instead, my head was full of questions about what was going to happen, how my birth story would play out, my head was surprisingly clear.

20 Dec 9PM: Cervical Ripening.  I checked into the maternity unit, I had already pre-registered at the hospital so I just needed to show my insurance card, ID and sign one more form.  I was tagged with various bracelets and shown to my room.  The room was a lot bigger than I remembered from our hospital tour we had taken several months ago.  It had a fancy bed that moved into all sorts of positions, various monitors for baby and mother, a crib with a radiant heater, a shower room and a sofa bed for Chris to sleep on.


20 Dec 10PM – The nurses prepared me by hooking me up to the baby monitoring system round my belly, and put an Intravenous lock in ready to administer whatever drugs I would need, if needed. They took some basic medical history information and looked over my Birth plan.  It can be summed up as “please don’t ask me if I want pain meds, I will request them” but in general I was flexible and mentally prepared to go with the flow as my labour progresses. As this is my first time, I couldn’t possibly know what is or isn’t right for me, and every birth is different anyway.  The nurses thought that was very practical and good for my mental health.

The nurse put in the Cervadil ripening agent, it was on a string like a tampon.  She wasn’t able to use lubricant so it was incredibly painful.  She couldn’t find my cervix easily because the baby’s head was so low, she had to get around the head.  Once that hell was over, I was not allowed to get up from bed for an hour.  I needed to pee after ten minutes of the cervadil being inserted, the next 50 minutes I spent watching the clock, more hell.  The nurse came in to check my vitals every hour.  It was a sleepless night. Chris got about 4 or 5 hours broken sleep, however I probably only got about 2 hours sleep in sum total.  This was mostly because every time I rolled over baby’s heart rate monitor fell off baby and the Nurse would come running in!  Every time I needed to pee I had to unplug the monitor. I think I got up to pee about 8 times through the night.  Let’s just say I was not feeling refreshed in the morning.

21 Dec 5 AM: A rude awakening.  I woke up at around 5 AM with strong contractions, they were different to the contractions I have experienced throughout my pregnancy.  Things were moving along, there was a good chance that I was actually starting to shift into active labour just from the cervadil.

21 Dec 7AM: Cervix check. It was shift change, so the obstetrician came into check on me, with my contractions getting stronger she said she could do a cervix check and get the cervadil out sooner if I liked.  I felt like things had probably progressed over night because I was really uncomfortable and had to stinger contractions.  Again, not being able to use lubricant removed the cervadil and the OB checked my cervix.  I had progressed only to 2.5cm 90% effaced, she was looking for better progress than that, so she stuffed the cervadil back in me and said it could come out at 10AM – the whole 12 hours since it was inserted.  It felt like she was literally stuffing me with a dry towel, she made me bleed and I cried in pain.  I wished at that point that I could have had the non-FDA approved drug for cervix ripening misroprostol instead because I have used these before for my previous Dilation and Curettage procedures.  Ah well, I digress….

21 Dec 9AM: Active Labour. I started to experience longer stronger and more frequent contractions, about 4-5 minutes apart.  The contractions were becoming more painful and I couldn’t talk during the contraction and needed to concentrate.  These were the type of contractions that we had learned about in birthing class that were the ones I would feel as I would go into active labour and would need make my way into the hospital.  We ummed and ahhed about when to get our Doula, Sharon, to come in.  My contractions started to really need me to move into new positions and I was feeling like we would benefit from her support sooner rather than later, so we called Sharon at 9.40AM, and she arrived almost 20 minutes later.
21 Dec 10 AM: cervidil removed.  The cervidil was removed, I felt massive relief that it was out, but really sore from it being in me and with another cervix check I was now 3cm dilated. I was offered an hours break from the monitoring before starting the next stage of the labour where contractions would be induced from the drug Pitocin –  it mimics the hormone oxytocin which is what causes the contractions to develop.  We decided to take a 30 minute break to keep the ball rolling.  I was taken off the monitor and my ‘break’ consisted of taking a nice warm shower and feeding me up with a breakfast cereal bar, some haribo gummies and some really big glugs of water.  But I was still getting contractions during my ‘break’!  The shower was lovely and warming, it really helped me to relax and feel refreshed, ready to really focus on my breathing and thinking about my baby moving down the birth canal.

When the time came to end my break, I was put back on the monitor, the nurse surprised me and said I didn’t need to go on the pitocin because my contractions were looking strong and good and that I had entered active labour on my own.  I was thrilled at this because avoiding Pitocin was highly desirable for me and my goal to make this birth without pain medication if possible.

Our Doula: Sharon. So we got on with progressing my labour.  Sharon helped us try different positions to get baby moving. Having Sharon coach both of us through this labour was incredible. It felt so natural and she made me feel calm and comfortable with everything that we tried. Sharon wasn’t solely focused on me, she also made sure Chris was ready and prepared for everything that was going on and how he could help me. Her guidance was like a conductor of a symphony orchestra, there was never any hesitation and always deliberate consideration in her coaching style. At no point did I ever think, what on earth is going on or I don’t like what is happening here.  

Chris remembered to put our music playlist on. This was one of the best distractions and ways to keep me focused and relaxed in between contractions. Sometimes I even sang along to songs, maybe not out loud (or maybe I did I cant remember everything perfectly!), but mostly in my head. It helped me with my breathing as I listened to the rhythm of the music playing.

Active labour progresses. We tried almost all the positions possible that we had seen in our handout from the birthing class, and more that Sharon showed us. I think we used every single birthing prop that the hospital owned throughout my whole labour!! I was so grateful for all the effort the nurses put in to getting the things I needed for me. Their support was relentless.

Standing position – I held onto Chris/Sharon’s shoulders and swayed through the contractions.


Lunging to the side position – I really liked this, it was hard work, but I felt like the deep lunge was helping my baby move with the gravity. I placed one foot on a foot stool and Chris took my weight, with Sharon close by to help as I leaned over him into the lunge.

Sitting on the toilet position – I quickly discovered when I went to go pee that this position was intense on my body. Sharon helped me put both my feet wide apart on two foot steps. 

My contractions here were really painful and deep, but this was a good thing according to Sharon.  I trusted her, but it was one of my least favourite positions. I came to be afraid of the toilet!!! Sharon told me early on that as soon as it gets too comfortable she wants me to change position so we can progress the labour! At this point I really was starting to feel like I needed to poo, but I had pooed earlier in the morning three times already, I couldn’t possibly have any more poo left in me?!

Sitting on the Birthing stool position – With my back to the bed, leaning on Chris in between contractions, Sharon was able to massage my back. Again, another challenging position, but it allowed me to relax in between contractions. Poor Chris was getting a real good work out by this time!!


Birthing stool in shower position – Sharon could tell I was getting tired and wanted me to take a break. She suggested taking a shower using the Wireless monitor. It was logistically challenging to make sure the wireless monitor didnt get wet but we sussed it. This actually didn’t work out as well as first time I showered because I got too cold.

The Nurses all commented on how warm the room was compared to many other women, yet I was cold a lot, I had to frequently snuggle in my fleecey dressing gown.  It was white and amazingly throughout the whole labour didn’t get any blood or other bodily fluids on it, I think because Sharon and Chris were taking good care of me.

Apparently at around 1PM Chris and Sharon had a discussion on when I’d deliver – Sharon hazarded a guess for 2.30 PM….hahaha my baby had other ideas…

Walking – at 2PM with the wireless monitor still on I was able to take a walk down the corridor. But then my contractions really had started to slow down.  I met my OB in the corridor, she told me because contractions were slowing down she suggested I needed to to go on the Pitocin to move the show on the road.  So I agreed and had another Cervix check – I was still only 3cm dilated.  It was Frustrating to hear this, but Sharon explained how not to get disheartened and how to get over that mental state. I was given IV fluids and the Pitocin was administered. I started with a dose of 2, then every 30 minutes my dose went up by 2…I think the maximum dose I got to was 10, but I don’t really remember. This also meant that I was limited where I could go as I had the drip following me – moving into different positions became a logisitcal nightmare! But Chris, Sharon and my nurse worked hard to help me at every stage. Their support was relentless.

Side lying down position – I took ‘rests’ in side position with and without the peanut ball.  I truly hated having a contraction in the side position even though I was getting rest.

Sitting on Birthing ball – I sat on the Birthing ball leaning on the end of bed, Chris sat on the bed coaching me and Sharon sat behind me, massaging my back.This was a good position for me, I felt like I was progressing my baby girl down but was comfortable on my bum and back.


Squatting position – Oh this position was painful and hard work, even though all my weight was on Chris as I squatted.  It was lots of Hard work for Chris!  He was getting a good work out!!!

21 Dec 5PM: Transition Phase: The pain was getting really intense.  My Contractions were 1-3 minutes apart lasting a minute and sometimes longer.  I started to really grunt through the contractions, trying not to wail like a banshee and breathe deeply.  Sometimes it felt like I couldnt breathe.  Sometimes I hyperventilated. But Baby was having decelerations at the right times of my contractions indicating that the next stage of labour might be very soon.  I was spotting brown blood – a good sign for my labour progressing.

Soon the baby started to struggle and her heart rate was dropping. The nurse gave me oxygen and that helped baby.


Sharon told Chris to get dinner before it was too late – he brought back a salad because it was the only thing he knew I wouldn’t be jealous of!

I rested whilst he got dinner, sat up right with feet together and knees out.


On all fours on bed position. I got on all fours leaning over the birthing ball on the bed in between contractions, and sat upright on my knees wide open during contractions.


When I shifted back to the birthing stool I felt a warm dribbley gush; I wasnt sure if it was blood or my waters breaking.  It was my waters breaking.  So I had another Cervix check – this time I was 7cm, and still felt really frustrated because contractions were so intense and I felt like I should be closer.


I really was near the point of no return for pain meds, I wasn’t aware of when that was exactly, but I really appreciated my whole team for respecting my wishes and not asking me.


There came a point when all I could hear on the monitor was my baby’s heart rate decelerating, I was really concerned for baby and I said out loud – please do what ever it takes to keep my baby safe! – everyone said of course we will!!! Ebony was my nurse for most of my labour, she was wonderful and even wore a Christmas necklace that lit up! It was a shame she had to leave as her shift ended because I was only at it for another two hours, but that’s the way it has to be.


They started to bring in all the equipment needed for delivery.  Seeing this happen, I began to feel like I could do this, I had renewed energy!!!  But I found it so hard to breathe through the contractions, every time I started to hyperventilate I thought about my anchor point – somewhere at the top of some beautiful rocky mountains. I remembered from all that I’ve read that the end is near when you feel like you are on the edge of almost dying. Knowing that helped me continue through the pain.


The nurse asked me if I could feel any thing different and that I had to tell them if I could.  But I didn’t know what ‘different’ felt like, I had felt ‘different’ for the past 90 minutes like I wanted to poo and squeeze this baby out!  I was starting to feel frustrated because I couldn’t understand what I should be feeling.  Every other contraction I felt like I was vomiting poo out of my stomach but through my bum.  So it was time to check my cervix again.

Second stage: Pushing – Another cervix check and I was fully dilated.  It was time to push.  Sharon was explaining to me how pushing was going to feel.  I don’t remember how it happened but I was moved to a lying down position and told that when I felt a contraction I could start to push. But that concept was completely Alien to me. I had no idea what ‘pushing’ should be like. Chris and my Doula grabbed a leg each and pulled them almost back with my knees almost up to my head as I held onto my thighs (trying not to squeeze them). I needed to take a deep breathe in and squeeze from my backside, sort of aiming the squeeze downwards, counting down to ten without screaming or making a noise as I pushed, breathing out as I squeezed really, really hard.  I managed this about two or three times per contraction.  It was hard work. After the contraction stopped  my legs were lowered down and I took a breather, using the oxygen because I was feeling dizzy, I needed to keep breathing.


The room was slowly filling up with various people, I couldn’t tell you how many people were in the room at that point, but now I knew why the room was so big.  I was told not to worry, but the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) team were there just in case, because we knew that my baby would be small and could have problems.  It didn’t worry me, it made me feel in good hands.

It was hard sometimes to tell when a contraction was coming, they felt less intense than what I had been feeling for the past few hours.  After several pushes my Obstetrician arrived and she started giving directions.  My baby’s heart rate was decelerating, so in between contractions I was shifted and rolled to my left side because the baby didn’t like me being on my back for long.  It was terrifying.  All I could think of was getting this far and having to have an emergency Cesarean to get her out.  I was so determined to push her out and that is all I could think of as I pushed through the pain.

My doctor explained to me that I wasn’t quite fully dilated so she helped pull my cervix down so that the baby could get it’s head through, it was so, so painful.  She was guiding me how to push every time. Everyone in the room was helping me, counting down from ten and encouraged me to keep pushing hard. Eventually she told me I had just two more big pushes, she needed to get baby out ASAP, so she was going to use the vacuum.  We had seen one of these in our birthing class, so I wasn’t afraid of it, just relieved that baby stood a chance of getting out safely, even if it meant help.  My doctor put the vacuum on baby, the tugging that pursued afterwards was incredibly memorable and painful.  One more really big push, I was struggling to feel the timing of the contractions, I felt a big tug from the doctor as she used the vacuum to help baby come out.

The feeling of my baby coming out was amazing, I could feel everything, it didn’t hurt anything close to what I had felt the past 12 hours.  It was an almost euphoric feeling rushing through me.  The pain was now irrelevant. After 37 minutes of pushing, my baby was finally placed on my tummy, she was so warm, wet and gooey.  I looked at my baby, I didn’t cry like I thought I would, I was in complete awe at what had just happened.  The umbilical cord was prepared and Chris cut it, and the baby was taken quickly to the heater to be checked over.


I started shaking uncontrollably, I was so cold.  But my doctor said this was normal, it was my adrenaline gone crazy.  I was trying to watch what was happening to my baby.  Chris went to the baby to watch what was going on.


Meanwhile with another contraction I pushed and delivered my placenta, it came out quite easily. I was then quickly stitched up by my doctor because I had a second degree tear.  All of this was part of the labour far more painful than I had anticipated! Although it was mostly a blur, I was exhausted, but on a complete high.


21 Dec 9.21PM: Welcome baby!!!  And there she was – she was still a girl!  She arrived into the world at 2112 on 12/21 (or 21/12).  She was placed on me for the golden hour of skin to skin.  I cannot explain the feeling of love running through me, the relief that she was finally in my arms.  After everything we had been through over the past few years to get her here, she was now safe in my arms.


Sharon and Chris helped me with getting her latched on to my breast and she started to feed.  I was so incredibly overwhelmed to be able to breastfeed in that moment.



It took us a few hours to name her, but we finally agreed upon Aviana Ruby! 

Thank yous. I would like to say a big thank you to all the staff on duty during my labour and delivery at Sentara Princess Anne Hospital and Virginia Beach OBGYN-this team did everything they could for us to safely bring Aviana to us. And of course Sharon from Hampton Roads Doulas, I doubt I would have been able to do it without her amazing skills and knowledge! Finally, my wonderful husband Chris, my partner in crime and my biggest rock in my life, you were incredibly strong through all of this. Thank you, thank you, thank you XX 

Our little Christmas Pudding has arrived

I never thought the end of my Pudding club hunt would come at Christmas. In the UK we typically have Christmas pudding as our dessert at Christmas dinner. I don’t think this could be the most apt end to 2016 on the Great Pudding Club Hunt.

 Aviana Ruby arrived safely on 21st December at 9.21PM (21/12 @ 21:12!!!!) weighing a teeny 5lbs 1oz and measuring a staggering 19.5″ long!!!! 

I will write my birth story another time but quickly here is what happened. I was admitted to the hospital at 9PM on Tuesday 20th December, to be induced at 38 weeks because the doctors felt Aviana would thrive better outside of my body as she was suffering from intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR). I was given Cervidil to ripen my cervix, the doctor likes it to be in for 12 hrs before it is removed (it’s kind of like a tampon thing that hurts like hell). On Wednesday 21st at 10AM our doula arrived and the cervidil was removed. I began labour naturally, so the doctors held off giving me Pitocin, but unfortunately at around lunchtime my contractions slowed down and I had to start the Pitocin induction. 

The contractions got stronger and harder and more painful, but Chris and my Doula coached me through the pain. We tried almost every birthing toy in the box in the hospital and every position possible to survive without pain meds. I started pushing at about 8.45PM. Unfortunately several times Aviana’s heart rate was decelerating dangerously and there were a couple of moments when it looked like C-section was on the cards. At one point all I could think of was do whatever is best for my baby to survive, I don’t care what needs to be done, just save my baby! 

I only pushed for 37mins, but this was mostly because her head was so low already and a lot of amazing work from the team, I was coached to push and she had to be vacuumed out. The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) team were on standby – a terrifying feeling – but they weren’t needed in the end. The feeling of her coming out in the last and final push was euphoric. She was a lovely sticky warm gooey mess and she was placed on my abdomen and Chris cut the cord. Yes she was tiny and super skinny, but her APGAR scores were 8 & 9!! So amazing. We were able to do skin to skin after she was thoroughly checked and NICU team sent away. I was also able to breastfeed within the first hour too. 

On Friday 23rd at lunchtime, we were all discharged from the hospital. Having a pain med free vaginal birth meant I was able to leave earlier than was expected. Many people were surprised at how healthy Aviana was and how quickly we were allowed to leave! When we left Aviana was just 4lbs 12oz. On Christmas Eve we followed up with our pediatrician and she weighed just 4lbs 8ozs, my milk hadn’t come in by then, so we are supplementing breastfeeding with some formula now, hoping she starts to thrive.

Aviana Ruby truly is the best Christmas gift I could ever receive. We have been so fortunate that things have worked out so well despite hurdles thrown at us along the way. My heart is simply full of extreme gratefulness and happiness to finally meet Aviana, AKA Rocky, AKA my little sweet Christmas pudding.

Wishing all of you a Christmas full of love and joy XX

Champagne for Breakfast?

People ask me all the time – What have you craved this pregnancy?  And I can’t answer them, except with what food do I have aversions to….

….Roast chicken, BBQ pizza, lettuce leaves (especially Arugula/Rocket), herby tomato sauces.

In the past few weeks I have slowly been able to add these foods back into my diet.  Except for lettuce leaves.  I am hoping that after Rocky arrives that I get my appetite back for salad!

But interestingly what has also happened in the past few weeks I have woken up with a craving!  Yes I have finally experienced a craving!  This craving appears with no warning, it is sudden, there is nothing around me that makes me think oooooh I fancy some of that, it just appears in my head.  I can smell it, I can taste it, I can imagine it in my hand, I can imagine it slipping down my throat and satisfying my big brain itch I have for…..CHAMPAGNE!  FOR BREAKFAST!!!!

I promise you drinking champagne for breakfast is not something I would ordinarily do…ever really…except for in a bucks fizz or a mimosa.

The cool, crisp bubbles slipping down my throat, making me feel a little giddy from the alcohol has been my one and only craving so far.  And as this is a craving I really shouldn’t be satisfying at this later stage of my pregnancy, I have not given into it. Not that I have champagne lying around my house or that I could go out at at the crack of dawn to buy some – which is just as well really because if Chris woke up to find me drinking champagne (on my own) with my cereal and toast for breakfast, I think he would send me to the mad house!

Rocky….your eviction notice has been handed to you – mummy needs some champagne! Stat!


A slightly cheerier note

Some of you have already voted on Instagram….but I am intrigued what my non IG friends think!  Which is your favourite name?


Matilda means “Powerful fighter”, Aviana means “Fresh”, Evelyn means “Optimistic”

Interestingly, Matilda Lucie came out high from Instagram, but when we have verbally said the list, most people prefer Aviana Ruby.  Maybe it’s the way we say it and people pronounce it differently when they read it compared to hearing it.

Chris has a favourite out of the three names, I don’t really have a preference, I like them all.  We will decide when we see Rocky’s face!  BTW Chris….’squishy placenta face’ is not a good name, the kids at school will be mean.  Although, not sure there are any worse names they could call her than that!

It’s quite a responsibility choosing a name for your child!!!

Same old story – it’s just unexplained

PC Diary @38Weeks 0 Days

The unknown doctor came in, shook our hands and looked at us in turn, he looked concerned.  But after a strange pregnant pause he managed to get the words out….”Everything looks good with the flow to and from the placenta”. Phew…a sigh of relief! From the look on his face, we both thought he was going to say something bad.  Another awkward pregnant pause and he said to us “We don’t know why your baby is measuring small.” (This doctor had very a very strange and awkward bedside manner)

Chris and I had bets on how this appointment with the Maternal Fetal Medicine (MFM) specialist would go.  We both bet it would be ‘unexplained’, because that just seems to be the way the cookie crumbles with us.  Unexplained infertility has done that to us, it has better prepared us for accepting the unknown.  By the way the unknown SUCKS.  But nevertheless, we seem to be able to handle it a lot better now.  We think that the doctor was expecting us to give him a hard time about not knowing why Rocky is measuring small.  But instead we just said, OK so there is nothing obviously seriously wrong? Although, she was even further behind than our past growth scan in the 3rd percentile (She was in the 5th percentile the week before), but these measurements have error inaccuracies, especially at this late stage of the pregnancy. There was no denying the fact that she is still very small and behind.

The doctor recommended that she be delivered in my 38th week so we can get her out of me and feed her up.  Later that day I went back to my OBGYN for another non-stress test and an ultrasound to check on my amniotic fluid levels.  All was looking good.

It was an emotional roller coaster day of nerves and relief.  We don’t know exactly how healthy Rocky will be when she arrives into the world and what the impact of the growth restriction has been on her, if any.  Perhaps my anemia was the culprit, perhaps it has been my bowel problems not getting the right nutrition to her or perhaps she is just a naturally skinny thing.  We don’t know, but that’s OK, because we are going to meet her very soon and hold her in our arms.

At my next appointment with my Obstetrician we talked about the induction process.  We had been penciled in to arrive at the hospital on the evening of the 20th December to have my cervix ‘ripened’ overnight.  Rocky is currently head down and engaged at Stage 0 right now, and I am still 1cm dilated and 50% effaced, which is a good thing and may mean I don’t need to have my cervix ripened.  If that is the case, then I may be asked to come into the hospital in the morning of the 21st December and they will put straight onto the drug Pitocin (it mimics oxytocin, the hormone which causes contractions).  The doctor warned us how long this process can take 12-24 hrs, and there is no way of knowing how my body will respond.  Sometimes a small baby can be a good thing and time can go quicker and I may have an easier time pushing her out!  Or sometimes not….  they will keep a close monitor on Rocky because sometimes growth restricted babies struggle to keep their heart rate up during contractions.  If Rocky’s heart rate decelerates then there is a very good chance I would end up having a cesarean section.  But the great news is, there is no reason for me to not have a vaginal birth.

My birth plan is that I wish to avoid pain medication at all costs.  However, I am now being induced using Pitocin and this can cause contractions to be a lot stronger and successive far quicker than a natural labor would be.  This means that there is a higher chance of this being painful!  My current feelings are that I will try my dammed hardest to not ask for the pain meds – in whatever form.  Chris is well versed in my desire, and my doula will be there to help me get through it too.  Although I want a vaginal birth, I have spent some time thinking about how to cope with an unexpected c-section.  I am now feeling ready for that moment because I know Rocky’s health is the most important thing to think about.  Luckily I will be on one of my favourite obstetrician’s service that day and I feel like I can trust her.

All this being said, the past week has been strange.  I had some plans for my maternity leave…I was excited to be taking some time to myself and thought 4 weeks before Rocky’s arrival I would have some time to do these things – Christmas dinners with friends and colleagues, executive development program study, knitting, Christmas card writing, email sorting, Christmas shopping, housework, blogging and more.  But with being on ‘rest’, many doctors appointments and not knowing what is going on has actually been exhausting and I have done very little on this list.  Even the things that don’t require me to leave the house for I haven’t been able to focus on, I have just been lethargic and brainless.  It doesn’t help that I am not even sleeping well and having lots of pregnancy related nightmares.  I might be physically well rested, but my brain sure isn’t.

Finally, just one more thing.  Now when people say to me, oh you look so good for 37/38 weeks pregnant…I actually feel bad inside.  I now know that my bump is small and I have put on little weight to the detriment of Rocky.  Until I meet her and hold her safely in my arms, that guilt is not going to stop, no matter how much people will tell me it’s not my fault.

But guys….I am almost at the end of all this…I am on the brink of exploding with happiness about that!

From a High to a Low: Fetal growth restriction

My obstetric appointment didn’t go quite as exactly as hoped for.  The doctor measured the fundal height and asked me if I had an ultrasound yet, I said no.  So she said well you are going to have one today, you are measuring a small.  Since I entered the third trimester I have had comments about my small bump, but the doctors say that because I am tall and have a long torso Rocky has more room upwards which is why I don’t go outwards.  But then there is my weight issue, I have only put on 1lb in the past 8 weeks.

The doctor did a pelvic exam and Rocky’s head is very low down (yeh my poor bladder knows this well!), she had troubles getting to my cervix – ouchie that hurt a lot!  I am 1cm dilated (how much the cervix is open, from 0-10cm) and 50% effaced (how much the cervix is thinned and shortened that means the cervix can dilate more ready for labour, from 0-100%.).  Well that doesn’t mean much at 36 weeks and is perfectly fine.

I had more blood drawn and we headed in for our ultrasound.  Really at this point in the pregnancy it is very difficult to tell body part from body part.  These technicians are very skilled!  She pointed out a head of hair….really it looked like white mess and I couldn’t tell there was even a head!  As she measured Rocky’s tummy, the size was measuring 29 weeks and 30 weeks…she took the measurement several times, and everytime is showed between 29-30 weeks, way behind.  But when she measured her thigh bone it measured spot on 36 weeks.  Rocky’s head is way down in my pelvis so she had a hard time getting a measurement, but when she did it measured 36 weeks.  With all these measurements, this meant that Rocky is weighing in at 4lbs 10oz – just under the 5th percentile for 36 weeks. Anything less than the 10th percentile is considered as growth restricted.  Her tummy size is in the less than 1 percentile. That is scary.  The technician confirmed that yes she was weighing in small, so went to give the results to the doctor.

We were then sent to have non-stress test.  I had heard about these, where you wear two monitors, one that measures contraction strength, the other the baby’s heartbeat.  You sit in a chair, relax and press a buzzer every time you feel the baby move.  This monitoring goes on for at least 20 minutes depending on how active the baby is, assessing baby’s reactivity and changes in heartbeat.  Rocky performed well!

After the non-stress test the doctor came back and explained her thinking.  Rocky has asymmetrical intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR).  Asymmetrical means that her head and length is normal, but not the stomach.  In more than 70% of cases, this indicates a likely problem with the flow to and from the placenta and baby not getting enough oxygen or nutrients.  Rocky diverts the energy for growing the brain and bones, meaning that the liver and fat build up doesn’t happen, which is why her tummy is so skinny. This form of intrauterine growth restriction usually occurs in the third trimester. (The other form of growth restriction is symmetric where the baby is small all over).  There are other causes of this type of restriction, but most of those we can rule out.  So we need to rule out the placenta problem and I have to go to Maternal Fetal Medicine specialist to have a special ultrasound to look at the flow to and from the placenta using a doppler.  The catch is I have to wait for an appointment.  The doctor said that I will be induced in either week 38 or 39 because the baby will do better outside my body.  But if I have placenta problems she will want to induce me ASAP.

I am now on twice weekly appointments including a non stress test twice a week and an ultrasound to keep an eye on Rocky…particularly as the amniotic fluid might reduce over the coming weeks they want to monitor that and ensure that Rocky isn’t struggling getting the oxygen she needs.

I am also on ‘rest’ not bed rest exactly, but just resting and preserving all energy for Rocky.  So I would have been signed off work if I wasn’t on maternity leave already.

There is no medical intervention that will stop this from happening, all that can be done is that we are both monitored closely and assess the right time to deliver Rocky.

What does this all mean for my labour, delivery and Rocky’s health?  We don’t know.  We know that there is an increased risk of her having problems during labour, I am more likely to need a cesarean section, there is an increased risk of still birth and perinatal mortality, she is also likely to have a number of health problems after being born in both the short and long term, or she may just be perfectly fine…but life is like a box of chocolates and you don’t know what you are going to get.

I have to remember and keep telling myself that there is nothing I did to cause this and that Rocky needs us to be strong and positive to help her make it into this world safely.

Now I just wait for my appointment with the specialist.  Until we know the placenta issue, we are helpless and not knowing is quite frankly scary 😦

Maternity Photo Shoot Session

I ummed about doing a maternity photo shoot, especially as Chris has done some maternity photo shoots before, I wasn’t sure if he would be offended that I didn’t want him to take the photos.  But actually it made a whole lot of sense to hire a photographer because it would have been challenging and time consuming for Chris to run a shoot with both of us being in the photos!  So I selected five photographers in the local area that I liked their style, then let Chris choose the one…after all they would have high standards to live up to, and for me personally, I just like the pictures and have no clue what is actually good quality or not!  I didn’t tell Chris how much each one cost, but let’s just say, he did pick the most expensive.  Of course her photos were pretty amazing, so they demand a higher price naturally!  Each photographer offers various options and so it is difficult sometimes to compare prices, but the one Chris chose was definitely going to cost us a bit more.  But I am very glad we went with her because she made it so easy…if you are in the hampton roads area, I highly recommend her…

We chose our shoot location as First Landing State Park (it got it’s name from where the settlers first landed in the US, then moved up the bay to Jamestowne).  We love this park a lot and discovered this particular location when our family came to visit earlier this year.  It has a small beach, a swamp and some of the most incredible spanish moss you have ever seen.  With it being fall, the colours were spectacular, and luckily for us, the weather was perfect…the sun was out without a cloud in the sky – the lighting is quite a challenge for a photographer so I have been told, but our photographer had no problems creating some beautiful memories for us.  Chris went at around the same time the week before to scout out some spots he thought would work at that time of day, it was such a good idea because he really found some unique spots!

Deciding what to wear was a bit of a challenge because of the Virginia weather you never really know you are going to get!  Fortunately, it was warm enough to wear just a shirt and jeans.  By the way, my bump was still not really prevalent even though I was 32 weeks, so it was just as well I was wearing something light and tight for the silhouette and laying down shots!  I was considering wearing a dark purple top, and I am so glad I didn’t in the end!

So here are some of my favourites…all photos by Melissa Bliss Photography!!

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Now I’m feeling ready!!

PC Diary @ 36 weeks 2 days… R-26 days

What a whirlwind of a past ten days or so.  It may have been crazy, but every minute was worth it!

First of all, I owe a few people some passwords for my last blog.  I forgot that with almost 200 followers on wordpress and a few more  who follow from instagram and facebook that maybe they would like to read my password protected blog and I would need to reply to every email request – whoopsie  (embarrassed face!)

Here is why it has been a whirlwind…

Doulas!  We met our two Doulas, they work in pairs to make sure that one of them is available when the time comes to meet Rocky.  We have hired them for the birth and 50 hours of post-partum support.  They are perfect for us.  We left it very late to finally select who we wanted, we meet them again later this week to go through our birthing plan and any other questions we have.

Thanksgiving.  I hope you all had a lovely thanksgiving!  It is a holiday that doesn’t mean anything particularly special to us, so it is a little bit strange to celebrate.  But we were kindly invited to join our friends for a fabulous Turkey dinner.  Nom nom nom…

Boudoir Maternity Shoot.  Chris and I researched, prepared and then did my maternity shoot, boudoir style.  Although I won’t be showing any of the more risque pics, I will definitely share some of them with you on a separate post!  Chris did a fantastic job, and he really enjoyed it too.  I was nervous we would fight about it, but nope it was just fun!  Like it should be too ;-p

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One of my faves!

Infant care class.  We thought we had better educate ourselves on how to actually look after a newborn baby!  Although much of it we mostly knew already, we did learn some handy little hints and tips.  Also it was helpful to know things we might expect to see as soon as the baby is born, what is normal and what is not normal.  We also got a neat little book too ‘The Joy of parenthood – your personal journey through newborn care’.

Transatlantic visitors.  A friend of ours was visiting the US for work, so we did the proper thing and took him and his colleague to a Southern style restaurant, and of course ate fried chicken skins, pickles, chicken coated fried bacon, burgers and meatloaf! It was so good to catch up.  I felt a bit homesick talking about our friends back in the UK and how everyone is doing 😦

Breastfeeding class.  We had to go to another hospital for this class because all the ones being run at our hospital were full.  Within the first five minutes the consultant told us that ‘you may have difficulties breastfeeding if you had difficulties getting pregnant’.  What the?!?! I had never heard this before.  I was a little bit surprised and it threw me off concentrating on the beginning of the class.  I didn’t question the consultant and thought I may ask her afterwards more about what she had said, but when it came to the end of the evening I was exhausted and just wanted to go home.  This class threw a lot of new terms and info at us in the space of three hours.  The consultant barely stopped to breathe let alone let us poor preggers people go pee!  But it was really useful and very glad we both went.  Another free book and some free nursing goodies to go.  The group of doulas we went with have a lactation consultant who will come to my house if we need to, so that is handy.

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Weekend Child birthing class.  Another intense education session!  We had a very passionate nurse who was excellent at making the class practical and interesting.  It really helped us firm up our birth plan together and worth every minute.  I practically cried at every film where they showed the actual birth!!!!

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Birthing positivity board

Housewarming, baby and birthday party.  This was our big party to celebrate our new home, semi-baby shower-esque style celebrations, and both our birthdays.  We have been preparing the past few weeks, knowing how chaotic the past week would be.  We were expecting about 80 or so people, fortunately they didn’t all arrive at once, and at one point we probably had about 20 kids running around!  It was so much fun to have everyone there.  I was truly overwhelmed with all the gifts and cards we received.  I’m kind of glad I didn’t have a baby shower after all, I think I would have just blubbered my way through it.

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Haha someone guessed 14th Jan!!!!

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The post party chaos 🙂

Maternity leave.  It was my last week at work, so I tried to wrap things up as best I could.  It was a little strange because not all of my branch was in the office, so there wasn’t really a formal goodbye.  Technically my maternity leave started today!!! Although I will be going back for the plethora of Christmas parties that are happening, assuming Rocky doesn’t arrive early.  And I will be going back in to the office every other week for a lunchtime toastmasters club meet whenever I can to keep up my public speaking skills!  When the baby comes, Chris will work from home those days and I will get to escape the baby for a few hours.  I started my leave off to a good start by getting up at the same time as Chris as he got ready for work, then after I showered I accidentally fell asleep for 1.5hrs!  I did some relaxing yoga (it felt soooooo good to stretch), adult colouring in, an episode of scandal, ate left over party food, washed all of Rocky’s new clothes and did some shopping.  Will I keep up this good balance of chillaxing with productivity?!?! I have my suspicions not….!

Pregnancy symptoms.  Lower back pain is plaguing me along with my hemorrhoids getting a whole lot worse.  They are now super big 😦  I am on my weekly obstetric appointments now so I’ll see what the doc says tomorrow, but I fear there will be little that can be done.  I think that when I go into labour they are almost certain to burst.  And I still haven’t put any more weight on, I’m sticking around the 140-141lbs mark.  I don’t understand how it is possible, my tummy is getting bigger and I’m eating plenty!

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36 weeks and feeling prepared!

Phew… has been crazy, but I am feeling really ready for Rocky to arrive now.  Not much longer til she is considered full term! Wooohoooo!!!!




Little reminders – bad and good

PC Diary @ 32W 6D

For some reason I have had little reminders of the Brussels airport terror attacks…perhaps it is because it is my last transatlantic flight before I go on maternity leave…or perhaps it is my hormone overloaded glass cage of emotions more as I get closer to R-Day*.  I get very brief moments of re-experiencing events of that day.  The feeling of my heart in my mouth, the feeling of not knowing if I will see Chris again, the feeling of the heat from the blast run over the back of my head, the feeling of the aches from all the shaking and shivering.  These thoughts have been fleeting as my eyes well up with tears for just a moment, but then I get a kick or a contraction and I remember where I am now and where my near future will be, the tears don’t flow and I move on in my thoughts.

I am very excited to not have any more work travels ahead of me, I think flying transatlantic at almost 33 weeks is a little too much for me.  First of all, I got the all clear from the doc to fly to Luxembourg this week, however, I didn’t know that flying with British Airways they would want a doctor’s note to say I am fit to fly after 28 weeks pregnant. Whoops.  I discovered this the day I was die to fly.  American is who I normally fly with, they don’t need anything until 36 weeks so I didn’t think to check the third leg of my flight would be OK.  So I wore my black baggy sweater and didn’t do up my big black coat…you could only tell I was pregnant if I waddled or stood with my bump out.  I managed to hide it both ways and no one noticed I was pregnant and I was never asked for a doctor’s note!  Phew!  Got away with that one.  I had read online of women who had been turned away for not having a note when flying with BA.

Secondly, because of what happened last time I flew, I have been conscious of all contractions, pains, and strange bodily behaviours as potential indicators of labour.  I had several nights of terrible sleep because I couldn’t get comfortable in the hotel bed, the pillows and mattress were terrible…and one night I got the shivers, shakes and bad upset stomach, as if I was coming down with either the flu or had food poisoning.  I was exhausted after several nights of bad sleep.  I started to worry that Rocky might be suffering…although she has been extremely active the past week.  She has definitely shifted head further down and legs up.  If I am not lying down or sitting laid back I can feel her pushing down a lot more into my pelvis and my poor bladder is suffering.  Also, my hemorrhoids have got worse, they haven’t burst (fortunately), but they have got bigger and sorer as I had constipation followed by upset tummy.  Quite frankly my bum is totally fed up with my bowels!!!!

So that is all my negative thoughts for the day.  Now for some more of the positive to keep balanced….

My travels took me briefly to the UK with two layovers at London Heathrow meaning I got to see my parents, brothers (one of whom is about to turn 18!!! OH MY how did that happen??!) and a friend.  I was reminded of all things British and Christmas!  I love all Christmassy food and drinks! I know it’s quite a way away, but I felt festive.  Rocky was also spoilt with some lovely gifts, my bag barely closed!

I discovered Le Tote!  A little late….but it is a great source of maternity clothes.  I think I will write a separate post about this because it is well worth explaining some more why I like it.

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32 weeks 3 days

*Rocky’s expected delivery due  date!

Rocky – keep baking in there please!!!

No alcohol for you!

PC dairy @ 31 weeks 6 days

I guess the time has come where I am obviously pregnant.  Today on my journey across the pond everyone has made comments or asked me about my bump.

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My halloween costume hides my bump – kind of!

Things that people have said to me today…

“Would you like me to put you on the upgrade wait list?”

“Are you sure I can’t get you a water or ginger ale?”

“When is the baby due?”

“Let me get that for you…”

“No alcohol for you!”  Wait….what?!

I checked into the American Airlines business lounge and the lady didn’t offer me a coupon for a free drink at the bar (which is something ordinarily you get), in fact she went so far to say as “no alcohol for you…!” Ummmm I paused for a second flabberghasted ‘yeh….I guess none for me, thanks’.  Awkward.  Thanks lady for policing my alcohol intake.

I’ve actually had these strong hints a few times…waitresses asking me, can I get you a water or soda?  Rather than, can I get you a drink or a beer?

When I went for my 30 week check up with my OB, the nurse asked me…”When did you last binge drink?”, followed by “Do you drink alcohol?”.  I was taken aback, because I answered all these questions when I first signed up to the clinic and I wasn’t expecting them now.  Also, because I am sure that anyone who had binged drinked at 30 weeks pregnant, probably wouldn’t be honest and deny it.

I’m not going to lie, I have had a few sips of alcohol here and there in this pregnancy – some weeks I will have nothing at all, others I may enjoy a small half glass of wine or one or two non-alcoholic beers (because non alcoholic beers do contain a very small amount of alcohol) at the weekend.  I drink them slowly, with dinner and I never want any more than that anyway.

In Germany the other week I was given a free shot of Limoncello after dinner and a coupon for a shot of tequila.  That was a bit too much for me….I gave them to other people.  But the point is that they didn’t blink an eye about it.  In fact in some parts of Italy, doctors recommend a glass of red wine to help keep the blood pressure low in third trimester.

Isn’t it funny how different beliefs and perceptions can be about what is right and wrong in pregnancy?  There is much research to support both sides of the argument, and all we are talking about is ‘light drinking’…and so the jury is still out.  For me, the odd sip of alcohol here and there is OK and I certainly do not condone drinking heavily whilst pregnant where there are clear linkages with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.

(**Waiting for all the critical comments to come flooding in….**)