It's a strange feeling having someone come into your hospital room and say, 'are you ready?' and for you to walk down to theatre, with a gown covering your bare bum, about to meet your baby. It felt like the longest and shortest walk of my life, butterflies and nerves and excitement all rolled into one.
Right up until the c-section date, I was willing myself to go into labour naturally. I'm not ashamed to say I cried the night before because I felt a sense of loss. Like I didn't get to have the birth I always wanted. I was overwhelmed, hormonal and because of my previous birth experiences I did feel this feeling of loss, I can't describe it really. But when I walked into the hospital ward I was greeted by one of the midwives who was with me when Elijah had the cord prolapse and was by my side when I was rushed into theatre. She recognised us both and seeing her just made everything feel like we were right where we were supposed to be. And I realised that although this feeling of loss was a valid emotion to have and I may always feel it slightly, what has always mattered was that all of my babies arrive into the world safely. And that I really was where I was supposed be and baby number 3 was meant to arrive into the world this way.
I'd been fasting since 6.30am and arrived at midday and was told as I have gestational diabetes I should be second on list but ended up being last. My blood sugars dropped and had a hypo so was given glucose tablets but within the hour, around 4pm, a lovely health care assistant walked in and said - 'are you ready?' She grabbed baby’s cot and we walked down to surgery. Like I said, it's such a surreal moment and I will never forget it. I felt really nervous and quite scared, more because I didn't know what to expect. My last section was so quick and I was put under general anaesthetic within minutes so have no memory of it. The nurse looking after me was so lovely and turned out she was ex-Army, military wife and her brother was a serving Royal Marine who my husband knew so we all just chatted and laughed like we'd known each other for years which kept my nerves down. It all did feel so surgical to start with which sounds ridiculous to say and it did make me feel that sense of 'I wish it hadn't come to surgery,' for a few moments but that didn't last. I sat on the theatre table and the worst part wasn't the local anaesthetic or spinal, couldn't feel those - it was the freezing cold spray they put on your back! They laid me down and a sheet was put up and I could hear the surgeon talking to a student, 'let's begin'. Was so bizarre to hear them talking about 'oh there is the bowel,' 'move this to one side' and I could feel pressure and them moving around down there but no pain. The weirdest feeling! Then I heard suction and the anaesthetist said 'that's your waters breaking'. And I wanted to cry. They kept asking if I was OK as I think I looked terrified throughout but my husband was talking for England so I felt calm knowing he was there. So beyond grateful he was home and by my side. Then all of a sudden I heard this cry. This tiny beautiful cry. They tried to lift the screen down but we couldn't quite see and they laughed as the baby was kicking away! The nurse popped her head round the sheet and said, 'it's a boy'. And my heart just burst. Within seconds he was lying on my chest, tucked into my gown and I just cried. The relief after quite a tough pregnancy and my previous experiences and the feeling of having your baby placed on your chest for the first time, there is no other feeling like it. No feeling will ever come close. I felt a mix of sadness too as something that will always upset me was I never got this moment with Elijah. That I never held him first, I didn't hear him cry his first cry and the first time I saw him was waking up from the c-section. But as I said earlier, all boys arriving safely in the end, through completely different births is all that matters.
He felt so tiny in my arms compared to Rafe and Elijah and I just couldn't stop crying. Chris took him away with the midwife while they finished the surgery and then I was moved to recovery. They gave me some fresh orange juice and after only drinking water through the pregnancy (gestational diabetes I will not miss you) was like drinking a cold glass of wine in a beer garden on a lush summer's day. Bliss. He was sucking his hand so knew he was hungry so the midwife came and helped me latch him on. Which again was one of those moments where time stood still. I wanted to remember this moment so much as with Rafe I was still in shock and terrified as I didn't have a clue what I was doing and with Elijah I don't remember it at all as still out of it, which does break my heart. So this was an amazing moment and he fed so well. And through the night he passed all his blood sugars which was a relief.
We were moved back to our room and the undignified part of bed baths, blood, unbelievable pain, vomiting and pads stuck to your bum began. But I won't go into that in detail!
So a different experience but such a beautiful one. Calm, relaxed, with some laughs, crying and just overwhelming love. C-sections really can be beautiful. And it was exactly how Tristan Jude was meant to enter the world. Our final jigsaw piece.
Elijah's Birth Story: https://www.themarinewifeandmum.com/blog/my-birth-story4528001
Rafe's Birth Story: https://www.themarinewifeandmum.com/blog/my-birth-story
1. YOU WERE NEVER FAT
You will look back at old photos and say ‘if only I looked like that now!' Until you have a baby bump stopping you from seeing your vagina and feet, you realise how much you wish you had been kind to your pre-pregnancy body.
2. WOMEN'S BODIES ARE AMAZING
You will appreciate your body much more. Carrying a baby, giving birth – whether that be VBAC or c-section, it is incredible what a woman’s body is capable of.
3. YOU WERE NEVER TIRED
So remember when you didn’t have kids and you used to say to your friends with kids you were tired? They weren’t looking at you in sympathy, they wanted to punch you in the face. You were never tired. Five-hours sleep is a blessing.
4. YOU JUDGED
You know that woman in a restaurant looking at you because your kids have an iPad? You too judged. You thought you would parent differently. You will never know how much an iPad can save your life until you know!
5. 2.30AM IS NO LONGER COOL
Rolling in at 2.30am with a kebab stuck to your hair was once a sign of a good night but when you see 2.30am now, it means cluster feeding, or sleep regressions, or teething, or an angry toddler wanting you to sing Fireman Sam.
6. YOU’VE NEVER HAD A HANGOVER THAT HURTS
You thought you’d had epic hangovers before but having a hangover with children who want to jump on your head at 6am when you’re hungover is a hurt like no other. Hangovers and kids to do mix.
7. YOU BECOME A POO EXPERT
Is it black? Is it green? Yellow? Oooh, a bit mustardy that one. WOW, that’s a massive poo their kid – high five!
8. A QUIET NIGHT IS NOT BORING
Gone are the days you would be itching to get to the pub over a night in-front of the TV but sometimes leaving the house and having to brush your hair is more of an effort than you can imagine.
9. QUICKIES AREN’T WANT THEY USED TO BE
A good old quickie with your partner isn’t as fun as it used to be. It’s an eye on the door and the baby monitor – you know, passion at its best. (Soz mum!)
10. YOU’RE NOT THE MUM YOU THOUGHT YOU WOULD BE
And that’s ok. You’re the mum you were supposed to be. Nothing can prepare you for having children. You're a superhero.
Always loved an old wives' tale to predict the gender of baby! Not because I particularly believe in them but just a bit of fun. Especially some of the weirder ones! I did this exact list with Rafe - and predicted boy pretty unanimously, with Elijah it was neck and neck but girl won by one - so obviously those old wives' were wrong that time. And this time - it's a pretty unanimous....
Old Wives Tale #1: Heart Rate
If the baby’s heart rate is above 140 bpm, it is said that the baby will be a girl. If it is under 140 bpm, then it will be a boy. (Baby number 3's heart rate has been above 140). Prediction outcome: GIRL
Old Wives Tale #2: Shape of Belly
If you are carrying high with a big, round belly, you are having a girl. If you are carrying low with a smaller belly that sticks straight out, it’s a boy. (I feel quite high this time round – I think!) Prediction outcome: GIRL
Old Wives Tale #3: Ring Test
Using a string, hang your wedding ring over your pregnant belly. You are having a girl if the ring swings back and forth and it’s a boy if it swings in a circle. (This never works for me! Sometimes looks like it’s in a circle, other times back and forth). Prediction outcome: INCONCLUSIVE
Old Wives Tale #4: Acne
If you have acne while pregnant, it’s a girl. It’s thought that acne during pregnancy is caused by the extra hormones. (I’m lucky and have had no acne/spots). Prediction outcome: BOY
Old Wives Tale #5: Cravings
People believe that if you are craving salty foods while pregnant, you can count on having a boy. If you crave sweets, fruit, and orange juice, you are having a little girl. (Oranges, give me all the oranges! And anything sweet but no change there really! Just can't have most of what I'm craving now). Prediction outcome: GIRL
Old Wives Tale #6: Skin under Left Eye
The eye test is when a “V” or “branches” appear when you pull down the skin under your left eye. If you see a “V” or “branches” in the white part, you’re having a girl. (This is just bizarre – but I guess I see branches...) Prediction outcome: GIRL
Old Wives Tale #7: Time of Conception
The person that is most aggressive in bed at the time of conception is the opposite of what the baby will be. (I feel like nobody needs to know the answer to this one!) Prediction outcome: INCONCLUSIVE
Old Wives Tale #8: Legs
If your legs get really big, you’re having a boy. If your legs stay in shape and lean, it’s a girl. (I’ve put on weight on my thighs – but haven’t changed shape massively). Prediction outcome: GIRL
Old Wives Tale #9: Moodiness
If you are really moody, you are having a girl since you have extra girl hormones in you. (I think we know the answer to this one!) Prediction outcome: GIRL
Old Wives Tale #10: Chinese Gender Chart
The Chinese Gender Chart claims to have an accuracy rate of over 90%. It is based on how old the mother is at conception and the month that she conceived. Find out your prediction/or whether the Chinese Chart was right about your baby's gender here: https://www.thebump.com/chinese-gender-chart) Prediction outcome: BOY
Old Wives Tale #11: Mum's Beauty
You are having a girl if your beauty disappears during pregnancy. It is said that the girl “steals” the mother’s beauty. If you think that pregnancy has never made you look more beautiful, a little boy it is. (I ain’t blooming that’s for sure). Prediction outcome: GIRL
Old Wives Tale #12: Dream of Sex of Baby
If you have dreams that you are having a boy, you will have a girl. If you dream about having a girl, it will be a boy. Dreams show the opposite of what you are having. (I keep dreaming we are having a girl!) Prediction outcome: BOY
Old Wives Tale #13: Clumsy vs. Graceful
If the pregnant woman is graceful throughout her pregnancy, she’s having a girl. If she becomes clumsy, she’s having a boy. (I'm clumsy and don’t think I have a graceful bone in my body – never mind when I’m pregnant). Prediction outcome: BOY
Old Wives Tale #14: Side You Most Rest On
If a pregnant woman prefers to lay on her left side, she’s having a boy. If she prefers resting on her right side, she’s having a girl. Prediction outcome: BOY
Old Wives Tale #15: Dad’s Weight Gain
If the dad-to-be gains weight while you are pregnant, it’s a girl. If he doesn’t gain weight, you’re having a boy. Prediction outcome: BOY
Old Wives Tale #16: Breast Test
If a pregnant woman’s left breast is larger than the right breast, she’s having a girl. If the right breast is larger, it’s a boy. Prediction outcome: GIRL
Old Wives Tale #17: What Do You Think?
71% of the time, the mom-to-be knows what she is having. Prediction outcome: BOY
Old Wives Tale #18: Morning Sickness
If you had a smooth pregnancy with no morning sickness, it’s a boy. If you were sick or felt really nauseous during your pregnancy, count on a girl. (Pretty awful sickness this time round). Prediction outcome: GIRL
Old Wives Tale #19: Areolae
If your areolae have darkened, it’s a boy. If they haven't, it’s a girl. Prediction outcome: BOY
Old Wives Tale #20: Protein
When a pregnant woman craves meat and cheese, count on a boy. Prediction outcome: GIRL
Old Wives Tale #21: Feet
Are your feet colder now that you are pregnant? If so, you just might be having a boy. If your feet have stayed the same before pregnancy and during, you’re having a little girl. Prediction outcome: BOY
Old Wives Tale #22: Headaches
If you are having headaches, you might be carrying a boy. Prediction outcome: GIRL
Old Wives Tale #23: Baby Names
It is said that when you can only think of specific names for a boy or a girl, you will have that particularly baby. (We have our girl name, only one we have loved since pregnant with Rafe and two names for a boy). Prediction outcome: GIRL
Old Wives Tale #24: Urine
What colour is your pee? If it is bright yellow, you will have a little boy. If your urine is a dull yellow, plan on a girl. Prediction outcome: GIRL
It looks like….it’s a GIRL! Pretty sure we have a trio of boys on our hands but time will tell!
1. ARE YOU GOING TO TRY FOR ANOTHER?
Hang on love, I’m currently sat on a rubber ring with my vagina doing an impression of James and the Giant peach, I’d rather not have sex again thanks.
2. ARE THEY A GOOD BABY? DO THEY SLEEP WELL?
What is a ‘bad’ baby? Also, ‘sleeping well’ does not equate a good baby – most newborns don’t sleep so we don’t need the extra guilt of – what am I doing wrong?
3. SLEEP WHEN THE BABY SLEEPS
One I always wish I could do, but one that seems impossible.
4. BABY DOESN'T LOOK ANYTHING LIKE YOU!
Another kick in the giant peach love, thank you. Well aware I’ve done all the hard work but baby comes out looking the spit of their dad - who has useless nipples might I add.
5. HAVE YOU TRIED PUTTING THEM DOWN DROWSY OR AWAKE?
HAHAHAHAHA what is this wizardry you speak of?
6. SO YOU'LL WANT A BOY/GIRL NEXT TIME?
Nope, if we are lucky to be able to have or want another baby then as long as baby is healthy we will be happy. (Cue looks of disbelief).
7. OH WE HAD NONE OF THIS WHEN I HAD A BABY AND WE MANAGED!
Yes, but you also used to put whiskey on baby's gums to help them to sleep so things change hun.
8. YOU LOOK TIRED!
I'm aware I resemble the bird lady from Home Alone but don’t need reminded.
9. YOU'LL MAKE A ROD FOR YOUR OWN BACK!
What by holding my baby too much? Co-sleeping? Boobing baby to sleep? Doing whatever I can to get some sleep or make baby feel safe? Rod my back up then pet!
10. YOU'VE GOT YOUR HANDS FULL!
No shit Sherlock, make me a cuppa then.
1. YOU’RE HUGE! YOU’RE TINY! ARE YOU SURE IT ISN’T TWINS?
Why when you are pregnant and probably feeling at times the most vulnerable and whale-like do people feel like they can actually say anything to you – especially about the way you look? Jog on Karen.
2. CAN I TOUCH YOUR BUMP?
Why do strangers ask or even worse, don’t ask whether they can feel your bump? Then you have to do the awkward grin and move away slowly in silent rage.
3. BEST GET YOUR SLEEP IN NOW/YOU’LL NEVER SLEEP AGAIN
Thank you for your words of wisdom, so very helpful to hear this.
4. SO YOU’LL WANT IT TO BE A BOY/GIRL?
If you have already have a boy, people will immediately think you want a girl and vice versa.
5. GINGER BISCUITS WILL HELP WITH THE SICKNESS
Is this ever true?! And do people actually eat ginger biscuits for fun?
6. WHEN I WAS PREGNANT IN THE 1800’S…
Things have changed hun, A LOT since you were pregnant. I’m glad it was easy for you and you were running marathons right up until your due date but I’m just going to sit here and shovel Ben and Jerry’s into my face ok?
7. SHOULD YOU BE EATING THAT?
Should you really be asking me that? Because now you will feel the pregnancy rage. Run now.
8. LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT MY LABOUR...
So it’s natural for you to want to know about people’s labour stories – the good and bad. But equally when someone tells you a horror story – or that it is ‘easy’ – you wish you never asked.
9. YOU’RE NOT GOING TO NAME THE BABY A WEIRD NAME ARE YOU?
Like what? The name we have actually chosen.
10. HAVEN’T YOU HAD YOUR BABY YET?
Nope, pretty sure I’m still pregnant you moron.
1. I’M FINE
The first few days of lack of sleep and you are running on adrenaline and coffee and weirdly think that you could climb Everest if you didn’t feel like you have sand in your eyes.
2. OBSESSIVE GOOGLING
Now baby or toddler is awake and you’re shushing or singing Twinkle Twinkle for the 50th time, you have time to google. ‘Is there a four-month sleep regression?' Short answer: Run for your life. ‘Sleep programmes for babies.’ ‘Why is my toddler an a-hole?’ ‘Will I ever sleep again?’
3. THAT’S IT, I MEAN BUSINESS
Are you even a mum if you haven’t stormed into the bedroom and thought right – this is it! YOU WILL NOT BEAT ME. Then ultimately they win every time. What? You want a drink of water? You want to come into my bed? Ok, come on darling child.
4. DO ANYTHING TO GET SOME SLEEP
Before kids: ‘I will never let my child sleep in my bed.’ Erm, ok. After kids and desperate for sleep – YOU DO ANYTHING. Sleep on the floor, the chair, upside down, do an ancient sleep dance at 2am to see if that works.
5. EYEBALL COFFEE
6. TWO HOURS IS A DREAM
Pre-kids, a rough night was 6-hours sleep – after kids, 2 hours and you wake up ready to climb a mountain, playing the Rocky theme tune.
7. REALITY CHECK
'Oh but these really are the best days of our lives,' as baby holds you face while they sleep then two hours later you are kicked in the face.
8. HUSBAND HATE
Isn’t it incredible that man has evolved to be able to sleep through a baby crying, a toddler shouting about Thomas the Tank engine at 2am and a woman on the edge, ready to divorce them if they snore any louder? Incredible really.
9. LIFT HEAD OFF PILLOW
Just when you think you can’t do another night of no sleep and lift your head off the pillow, you can and you do.
10. IT’S NOT FOREVER
It’s tough. Like, down to the bottom of your soul tough. But whatever regression or phase they are going through, it does end. I think they say you don’t sleep for the first four years of your child’s life so you know, one day we will sleep again. Seriously though, be kind to yourself. PLEASE ASK FOR SUPPORT. Exhaustion has a way of creeping up on you so never be ashamed to say you need help. And we’ve all kicked our partners ‘accidentally’ in the night harder than we ‘meant to’.
Staring at the clock at 2am while nursing, rocking, singing Twinkle Twinkle on repeat can feel so lonely. Motherhood can feel lonely - but remember how many others are up with you at 2am. You are never alone.
2. LOSS OF IDENTITY
'I'm not me. I'm not 'just' mum. I'm in-between struggling with losing my old self and creating a new identity.'
Everyone else gets to be fun dad, grandma, grandad, aunt or uncle and you're mum who is holding everything together and some days you feel you can't just sit back and enjoy it all like everyone else can.
Am I a good mum? Am I doing this right? Are they not sleeping because I've done something wrong? Should I be doing more? It's a vicious circle of questioning and googling (don't do it!) in the night.
5. MUM GUILT
You feel guilty about feeling guilt about being guilty. And judged - you can feel judged for a lot of the parent decisions you make, but remember how powerful your instinct is, you know what is right for your baby/child. Also, everyone can be shouty mum.
Don't compare your life, your child or the mum you are, to what you see on social media. They're just snippets of moments, we treasure many moments but some days are not moments you want to hashtag making memories. (Four month sleep regression).
Some mum's fit into their pre-pregnancy jeans straight away, others will never fit in them again. Either way, your body has grown and birthed a human and you should be proud - and DO NOT COMPARE! You are beautiful - yes even with dry shampoo and tired eyes.
8. MOTHER'S INSTINCT
The overwhelming love you have for you child/children is indescribable. You would literally walk to the ends of the earth to make sure they come to no harm. Even when they're poking you in the face at 2am.
Permanently exhausted. What is sleep?
Me time is having a poo in peace. But it's so important - don't feel guilty for wanting or needing sometime on your own, to not be mum. We all need that.
1. HUSBAND/PARTNER HATE
A friend told me until you have a baby, you never realise how much you hate your husband. 😂 Obviously hate is a strong word but the minor things that may have irritated you slightly, or were maybe endearing pre-kids, will make you want to breathe fire.
You will stare at your partner in the night as they snore away, with their useless nipples while you are up for another night feed and you will feel resentment – and also resentful that seemingly, their life has not dramatically changed, yet yours is truly unrecognisable.
3. FALL IN LOVE
Even though their nipples are useless, seeing them hold your baby for the first time and the look in their eyes, makes you fall in love with them all over again.
4. JUST ‘MUM AND DAD'
The fun-loving couple pre-kids can feel like a distant memory and you look at photos of you pre-kids and that couple is unrecognisable. You become so focused on being mum and dad, you lose your ‘couple identity’ – but it's not lost.
5. DATE NIGHTS
Your life naturally revolves around your children, so much of your time is spent as a family. And a quality date night can be just sitting on the sofa in silence looking at the baby monitor, hoping you get some sleep.
Speaking of exhaustion, you’re knackered. But it will become a competition over who is more tired.
7. LET’S (NOT) GET PHYSICAL
You can feel totally 'touched out', especially in the early days, so it can be the last thing on your mind.
A mother’s focus becomes her new baby and although unintentional, your partner is not at the forefront of your mind anymore so is naturally side-lined.
9. BICKER MORE
Whose turn it is to put the wheelie bin out can start World War 3, the little things around the house that never used to matter, matter a lot!
10. BE KIND TO EACH OTHER
It is undoubtedly a life changing time in both your lives but it is important to remind yourselves sometimes that the reason baby/s are here – is because of your love for each other. Your relationship changes, but doesn't have to be for the worst. Make time for each other through the exhaustion and remember you’re not just mum and dad. And talk to each other, never stop talking to each other.
1. THERE IS NO CHILL
Sitting down to have a hot cup of tea is a pipe dream as from 5am, 6am if you’re lucky, you are on your toes running after two little people with zero boundaries or fear – and zero chill. They don’t stop. Ever.
2. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS ‘ADULT’ TV
Your life is Moana, Mr Tumble, Bob the Builder, YouTube videos of other people’s kids opening a Kinder egg toy. There will be a Disney song or theme tune in your head right now. CAN HE FIX IT? YOU BET YOUR LIFE HE CAN.
3. SNACKS FOR DAYS
They need feeding constantly, like two bodybuilders in training. Just when you think they can’t still be hungry, they want another snack.
4. CONSTANTLY SHOUTING ‘DON’T DO…'
Don’t climb up there. Don’t hit the TV. Don’t bite. Don’t eat mud, stones, dog hair. Don’t say that naughty word mammy just said. It’s a constant battle to keep your toddlers from injuring themselves and their first words being a swear word.
5. OH, THEY’VE BANGED THEIR HEAD AGAIN
If one hasn’t fallen off something or tripped over or banged their head at some point today – it’s a good day.
6. RING SIDE AT WWE
Two toddlers inevitably means having to break up wrestling matches daily. Some days you feel like you are ring side watching two WWE superstars.
7. WILD AND FERAL
You go from never wanting to tame their wildness and freedom – to wrestling a questionable lump of 'mud' out of their hands while you chase them in a mix of rage and wonder at how fast little legs can run.
8. SLEEP ISN’T AN OPTION
If one is sleeping great, the other one won’t be and just when you think you’ve turned a corner another sleep regression hits you in the face.
9. YOU MISS MILESTONES
You miss important milestones of one toddler as you’re too busy trying pull the other off a chair, a table, the kitchen bench.
10. THEY’RE INTENSE
Toddlers are fearless, wild and at times, the most annoying little people you will ever meet – but they can be loving – fiercely loving. When they stop for just a second to give you a cuddle, you are reminded you don’t want to run away and life with two toddlers can be tough – but you wouldn’t change a thing. Well maybe eating mud.
You will find rather than the initial reaction being, congratulations – you get ‘are you mad?!’
2. ARE YOU HOPING FOR A GIRL/BOY?
If you have two of both, you will inevitably be asked whether you want or have been trying for the opposite sex. (What will be will be as long as baby is healthy that's all that matters. Happy to have a trio of boys and if a girl comes into the mix - well, what do I do with a girl?!)
3. BIGGER QUICKER
By 12-weeks I’m sure I looked 20 weeks and the pregnancy waddle comes much quicker than first time round.
On top of having 'two kids exhausted' plus pregnancy tired you’re pretty much well, knackered all the time.
5. NO TIME FOR REST
First pregnancy: Oooh, it’s the weekend, going to have a lovely afternoon nap. HAHAHA, those were the days.
6. MILESTONES ARE MISSED
The what size vegetable is my baby now? milestones are missed and you feel guilty for it – and you have little or no bump photos this time round. (Remind myself to take more photos!)
7. BLINK AND YOU’RE HALF WAY
The 12-week scan first time round seemed to take forever to come round, now you blink and it’s your 20-week scan.
8. YOU FORGET YOU’RE PREGNANT
You’re so busy with one and two and everything else – you sometimes forget you are growing a tiny human, though the growing bump and facial hair remind you.
You go from wanting time to go even faster to meet baby, to wanting time to slow down as you want to soak it all in – but then feel guilty for forgetting to soak it all in.
10. KICKS ARE STILL AS MAGICAL
Baby number 1, 2, 3 – or if you go on to have more babies, nothing will ever EVER beat the moments you feel your baby kick. It’s indescribable and reminds you how lucky you are.
Royal Marine Wife. Mum to Rafe.