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First at fifty

Observations of life as a first time, full term pregnant 50- something, fit, fab, femme!

Little Kicks Inside

Well, as humans, we like to share our views and ideas with others and we also have a natural curiosity to know how others live their lives…..social media allows us to  dip in and out of others’ realities looking for inspiration, advice, hope or just a good chuckle! My blog is now ‘out there’ sent with my good intentions to do just that …… inform, amuse and/or horrify (if you are of that disposition) of the realities of having my first bundle of joy at the ripe old-ish age of 50. Whilst juggling life, of course.

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Sleep is Over-rated!

Well, my little treasure is 3 months old now, adored by all who come into contact with her! Her brothers and sister absolutely love her and have been a great help  –  asking to feed her, hold her, cuddle her. I have been heart warmed by their response.  The only thing is …. she has never, EVER, slept more than 3 hours in a row during the night. A few months previously, an ante-natal nurse advised a group of us expectant mums that our babies would keep a similar pattern to that in the womb, once they were born. My daughter was always very active at night but I assumed,  naively, that she would soon resort to ‘normal’ day/night behaviour! How wrong was I.

So, 3 months on,  I have had one night of unbroken sleep (family friends offered to take Charlotte for one night to let us catch up with some well needed beauty sleep) and all nights before and since have been regulated by wake up calls around 2am, 4am and 6 am –  the only blessing is that the waking periods around these times have shortened (Yeah!!!) from 45 mins of feeding and winding to 15 mins or so. I’m grateful! So grateful!

And I’m proud to say I’ve managed to function on minimal sleep –  although I don’t understand why. I still need to get my 3 children to school and back, do shopping , ironing, housework etc. I don’t nap during the day…. never have done; not my style, and choose to go to my body balance and body pump classes in the mornings when I can. Super important for both mind and body!

Having lost both sets of parents over recent years, my husband and I are very fortunate that we have two good baby sitters –  an aunt and family friend who are so willing to take my little bundle of joy for a couple of hours. She’s a real tonic to them.

Don’t get me wrong, the lack of sleep does mean that concentration dips from time to time! However, although I’ve not absentmindedly left my baby behind in the local shopping mall, I have managed to:

  1. Leave my driver car door wide open for 2 hours in the car park whilst visiting my aunt in Dumbarton, my handbag lying on the floor in the back (to the good people of Dumbarton, I thank you for not being tempted to make off with any of the contents I’d generously left for anyone to take!)
  2. Put a washing through its whole cycle and hanging it up before realising that I’d never added any detergent! I actually found myself considering whether I would get away with it. Er no! Did not pass the smell test!  (I’m sure that won’t be the last time I do that )
  3. Undress to take a shower and put my bundle of clothes down the toilet and shut the lid before realising it wasn’t the washing basket (Well, I didn’t flush so that’s a bonus!)

Well, maybe I should take a nap! As I speak my little cherub is dozing peacefully on her playmat and is likely to do so into the early hours…until she awakens for her habitual feeds and burping! She has no daytime routine, but has stuck well to her nocturnal schedule – no matter what!

And It Had Been So Easy!

My pregnancy had been straightforward, only frequent nausea superseded by stinging heartburn had been the price to carry my little angel. She  hadn’t caused me any worry or alarm. In fact,  my Consultant stated that he was impressed at my healthy blood pressure at each clinic visit as well as my level of fitness and energy. I was secretly smug, feeling I had proved that older mums can have a good pregnancy, especially if they live a consistently healthy(ish) lifestyle prior to falling pregnant.

I ended up spending 6 days in hospital after my little girl was born at 10.04 on 11th March. She was  small and fragile, but healthy. I was, and still am, grateful for this little treasure who has chosen to live with our family and who trusts us to raise her and guide her in life!

I was taken down to theatre around 8pm later that evening after I’d started to bleed in bouts (post partum haemorrhage). In my naivety, I thought this was  something that was common to most new mums and ‘had to be done’ as a precaution. My baby was wheeled  down behind me, as were my belongings,  and all placed in one corner of the room. She slept the whole way and for a number of hours later.

Once in the room, a team of nurses swarmed around me and I was hooked up to various machines. There was little small talk. I was asked several times what my little girl was called, but I explained that my husband and I couldn’t agree on a name yet! As I gazed around the room I was impressed at the teamwork of the nurses and the efficiency with which they carried out their roles. Each new the part they were playing.  I wasn’t aware what they were giving me but I know they said my name each time they administered a fluid into my veins and told me what it was. A doctor, who never made eye contact, advised a speculum was being inserted to catch the flow of blood to measure it ….a nurse stated they had collected 500 ml…….900 ml…..now a 1000 ml…..I heard them announcing the time certain medicines were injected (9pm , then 9.30, don’t remember much after that). I noticed a nurse was vigorously massaging my stomach for the entire time and I thought that this action should hurt as I’d had my C-section only hours before. I didn’t feel a thing! It hadn’t dawned on me that I had been given a strong painkilling drug! I was given gas & air and every inhaled breath made me feel lightheaded and drowsy. I felt I was drifting off and remember thinking that this is strong stuff!  I looked over at my sleeping bundle of joy wondering if my condition could be fatal and would she be left without her mother. I thought I can’t die without giving her a name. ‘Charlotte’ I said to the nearest nurse ‘Her name is Charlotte’.

I wasn’t sure where this name came from as it wasn’t on my top 5, nor my husband’s,  but it felt right.

Then a nurse told me I was being given warm fluid to raise my body temperature.  I realised I was sweating. I asked her outright if my condition was dangerous as my thoughts had turned to my own mother who had not survived a hospital operation two years before, and had been given a warm fluid in intensive care to warm her cold body as she lay unconscious, the family around her willing her to survive. She couldn’t and didn’t.

‘Could this be fatal?’ I asked a nurse, as I looked down at the large pools of blood spilled over my bed sheet, over my legs, splattered on the cabinet next to the nurses, then looked back to my young daughter, sleeping soundly. ‘I have up to 7 shots of this anti-clotting drug I can give you. You’ve only needed two  shots so far’, she said. ‘That sounds fairly positive’, I thought to myself.

I was given oxygen to inhale alongside the air and gas. Time stood still for me.  One by one the nurses left the area, including one who had been splatted on the face by my blood caused by an over zealous ‘collection’  by the overseeing  doctor who had been manually lifting the fluid into bowls to be accounted for. ‘Yuk!’ I thought ‘Poor lady!’

Then it was over. I lay in recovery for a few hours , then was asked if I was able to walk around before being taken back to the maternity ward. So at 3am I found myself gingerly shuffling  up and down the corridor feeling proud of my attempts.

I was back in a ward around 4am. Disorientated. Tired. Sore. And Charlotte wanted fed!

Despite my mini-drama, I was woken at 05.30 by a soft tapping against my bed…the daily ward cleaning was underway and a brusque Auxiliary was mopping around me, the head of her mop gently brushing against my bed frame. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. No long lie-ins for me in this ward. Well, better get used to it!! Preparation for things to come as a new mum!

 

 

 

She Has Arrived

There are no scheduled Caesarian operations on Saturdays – only Mon to Fri –  but I was advised that mine would happen at some point that day and to be prepared to go to theatre at 9am in case I should be taken first. Weekends are reserved for emergencies.  So I psyched myself up for a potential delivery in the morning, which could be pushed back anytime into the rest of the day.

Showered and fasted, I walked with a nurse to theatre to the floor below before 9am whilst the porter put all my belongings on my bed and wheeled it behind us. My sister was arriving at 8.30 am at the house to let my husband come to the hospital. We are lucky in that we live only a few minutes drive away. My husband arrived and was asked to change into theatre clothes as I was getting wired up to monitors, blood pressure machines and being given step by step information on the spinal anaesthesia procedure. The topic of C-sections had been covered at one of my ante-natal classes so I was comfortable with the process.

Once the fluid was administered into my spine, the anaesthetist stated that I would feel my bottom getting warm –  a sign that the epidural was starting to work. In a few moments I sure did feel the warm heat travel through my bottom and then I couldn’t feel my legs.

Everything then happened very quickly… a large screen went up, and off they went. My squeamish husband sunk low into his chair afraid he might catch a glimpse of the operation taking place on the other side! Whilst I, on the other hand,  had noticed that if I gazed up into the lights I could see about twenty small mirrors reflecting the procedure and my curiosity got the better of me. I could see in miniature what they were doing to me but all I could feel was a slight tugging! Strange!  Then the pressure in my stomach lifted and I said to my husband “She’s out”. Only a few minutes had passed by since the first incision.

Then the glorious sound of her crying loudly could be heard behind the screen as she was taken over to one side of the room to be checked and weighed. My husband was asked to cut her chord (which I knew he wanted to do but would find it grotesque at the same time!)

The midwife exclaimed that the baby had peed on her hand. “Well both her lungs and waterworks are in good working order”, I thought.

As the doctor sewed me back together, the baby was wrapped up and brought over to us. Small, adorable, healthy, perfect……a precious gift. Weighing in at 6llbs 7oz, she was like a delicate doll.

I couldn’t hug her as I was still strapped up to monitors with both my arms outstretched, but the nurse put her head next to mine and I felt the warmth of her cheek against my own and a tear stung my eye.

The dream I dared not dream had come true. The hankering to have my own child, although abated over the years, did not truly go away, and I had held the vision and belief that it could happen for me one day. She has completed our family. I love my adopted children. They are ours and are part of us. This little lady has arrived to cement the team and, although only early days, has brought so much love and excitement into our family unit, it has made me so proud to have held dear my conviction to have a baby …. it’s just that it happened for me later in life !

 

 

Ready Steady…..No Go!

On Tuesday, the Consultant advised that the best way forward was to come in to the hospital later in the week to be induced. The baby’s growth had slowed down slightly and since it was near my dues date, why not help the little lady along! Also, because I was an older mum I would not have gone past my due date anyway (which was the following week).

Well, I had had no twinges or signs that she was ready to come into the world but I trusted the process and assumed that was the best way forward.

We explained to the children that mummy would go into hospital on Thursday afternoon and the likelihood is that their little sister would be born some time on Friday afternoon or evening. How excited they were!

With a little intrepidation my husband and I set off to our local hospital, checked in, so to speak, and settled down to listening to  a sonography recording of the baby’s heartbeat. This was to establish a baseline heart rate of the baby before any drugs were administered to induce labour.  My husband left to pick up the kids from after school and I settled down to the comforting sound of my baby’s heartbeat which echoed round the ward of 4 beds. Except my little one didn’t like the strap round my tummy nor the echo it made around her in the womb, and she certainly didn’t stay still. So much so, she moved, kicked and jumped so much so that instead of a 20 minute data gathering exercise, I was strapped to the machine for over 2 hours as nurses and a doctor peered at my readings trying to work out the baseline line as she wasn’t for settling down!

Eventually I was good to go, and a kindly nurse administered the first pessary so deep inside, she could have tickled my tonsils. Time went by and I was asked if I wanted any painkillers. Indeed I had no need of any. Six hours later I was back on the sonography machine. “It can take up to 3 attempts before your body is ready to deliver the baby”, I was advised. This time a rather burly nurse who, I can only describe as having hands like a builder, administered the 2nd pessary with such force she brought tears to my eyes as her thick fingers pushed deep inside to position the drug at the back of my cervix. That was unpleasant!

Well attempt number 2 did not work (administered around midnight) nor did number 3 (around 7 in the morning, by Nurse Builder Hands!). When the doctor suggested I could try a 4th time, I felt my eyes water at the very suggestion of it and declined. I deduced that if it hadn’t worked at this point, it ain’t gonna work at all!  My next option was a C-section which could be carried out the following day.

As I lay on my hospital bed, between Thursday afternoon and Saturday morning, two ladies had given birth naturally from  my ward and I was privee to their intimate groans and weeping as their pain took over before they were wheeled swiftly to another part of the building to deliver their babies. The sound of nearby newly borns crying echoed around the wards in the wee small hours.  The sound of short bursts of activity in the corridors as women were wheeled to the labour suite throughout the night moaning or crying out made me feel like my little girl was never going to come out naturally. Nor was she ready to!

I knew I would not have a good night’s sleep for a long, long time.

 

 

Head – Engaged!

Less that two weeks to go and finally her head has settled in the downwards position. In the post, so to speak. Preparing to make her appearance. I guess this is what they call the ‘drop’. The baby has shifted to my lower regions, nestling comfortably on my bladder. Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been experiencing tightening Braxon Hicks ‘contractions’ on an adhoc basis, most noticeably in the supermarket mid-shop last week, which then lasted for the rest of the evening bringing nausea as a companion. However, no major side-effects that I’ve not experienced before. Heartburn is not so intense now. Happy days!

I continue with my light exercise Mon-Fri mornings, including my Body Balance classes. These are so good for stretching and balance. No matter how run down, tired or ‘out of sorts’ I feel before a class, I feel great by the end of each session. For me, fitness has always been part of my life and I’m determined to keep it up to the (messy?) end 🙂 of my pregnancy. No doubt to the concerned looks of my fellow exercisers!

The thing is,  I’m supposed to be taking a daily ‘baby’ Aspirin to reduce the possibility of clots and pre-eclampsia, so this is my way of keeping the circulation moving! Whenever I took an aspirin tablet in the past I had nose bleeds early morning which I’ve never had before, so, to me, aspirin is not required. My blood pressure is excellent and no swelling on feet or hands.

Running around after 3 children (11, 8 & 7) is also a good way of keeping active! The food doesn’t shop for itself, neither does the washing, ironing or housework kindly arrange to be completed without manual intervention! Kids clubs and hobbies continue as usual and my husband and I are often going in opposite directions to deposit a keen swimmer, footballer or dancer at their chosen clubs!

Anyway, life will change forever shortly. And the little kicks on my right hand side below my ribs remind me it won’t be long now.

 

 

 

Bunged Up!

I’m not a vain person but I had been wondering lately when I should book a wax appointment prior to the birth! I’ve got roughly 4 weeks to go before the main event and looking more like Chewbacca from the waist down every day!

I’m sure when I’m actually in labour these trivial thoughts and vanities will be instantly dismissed. However, seeing I’ve still got headspace for a prep list prior to hospital, then why not indulge myself! I booked an appointment for the following Friday!

My Plan B was to keep a new tube of VEET handy to splurge on my hirsute form if I was caught out, with the hope I would be able to stand long enough in the shower to wash it off before heading to the hospital!

Well, Plan B was put into action at the weekend late into the evening when the family, including my husband, were sound asleep in bed. I was tapping on my computer when the urge for the loo took hold. I felt I had to evacuate my bowels and the pain and contractions were so strong I ended up on my hands and knees for some relief!  In fact, I would have stood on my head if  (a) I was able to and (b) it would have helped!!

I wasn’t sure what to do…. call Triage for some medical advice….I could be early stages of labour? Or rush up to the bathroom cabinet, slap on VEET and defuzz as best as I could between the painful bowel contractions and the (slightly relieving) Child’s Yoga Pose!

The latter was carried out in military fashion – yes – despite having to hit the floor in Child’s Pose on several occasions to relieve the pain.

At this point , I wasn’t caring how even/ uneven the spread of hair removing cream was deposited, only that it was distributed thickly where required!

Time passed slowly and painfully  before I had one of the most excruciating bowel movements, certainly in my recent history!

Ah, labour seemed not to have started at all. I was, in fact, very bunged up!!

The iron tablets prescribed  in Week 28 had brought a side effect I had ignored on the leaflet. My penchant for sweet , usually chocolate, nibbles had added to the condition.  My aversion to green vegetables due to my many months of nausea with a dash of a sour, metallic taste in my month had contributed to one very sluggish digestive system. Of course, the baby would be comfortable sitting on top of it, adding to the pressure put upon my enlarging gut!

Ouch! Constipation. Relieved I went to bed. The family none the wiser! My legs mostly hair-free!

The evening’s activity had now introduced another ailment which I had avoided up to this point! One that might require the use of a rubber ring when sitting! However, to keep some of my diminishing dignity intact, I’ll keep THAT one to myself!

Oh  –  Must remember to cancel my wax appointment for Friday!

 

Heartburn for Two

Sometimes there is no elegant way to let out the trapped air that builds up in the small nut sized stomach space left by the bump. Belching like a navvy is no way ladylike but it’s gotta come out somehow. The sound effects are worse when sitting so any activity involving standing is light relief. Hence, the impressive amount of ironing I’m getting through these days! I’ve also mastered eating meals standing up.

It’s when you rift in public not having realised what you’ve done, in that moment,  and carry on as if this is normal behaviour.  The scary thing is part of me doesn’t care whilst one half finds it amusing and the other is somewhat shocked at my uncouth behaviour 🙂 Oh, how dignity slowly ebbs away in this natural state of motherhood.

Rennie’s do help me, and the orange ones give me a sweet buzz! For a while.

Still, I count my blessings!  Major nausea may have subsided at week 28 for heartburn and indigestion to take their turn, but I pride myself on having no back-ache or swollen extremities. Luck, genes or the adherence to a light fitness schedule, who knows, but I can still balance on one leg and perform a downward dog without too much bother! And the chilled out  music played during classes is just loud enough to mask the emitting air forced out by the gentle movements designed to stretch and balance various body parts.

Sweet release. Inner smile 😉