Thursday, 25 November 2010


The weather forecast said 'snow Friday' but we awoke to a light mantle of white today, and despite attempts for the sky to clear and for blue to take over, it's snowed on and off all morning.  It would be so exciting if we had snowy weather right through to the middle of January, like we did last year: although last year it didn't start until 18th December.

The children were, naturally, excited and started planning snowmen, snow angels and so forth: I think they will be sadly disappointed unless there is another, heavier, fall tonight.  Daughter was out in the garden straight after breakfast, her red school fleece and pink Dora the Explorer scarf, hat and gloves bright against the white background.  I watched her from the window a bit, just enjoying the sight of her happily making footprints.  Eventually I tapped on the window, getting a broad grin in response and the information that she was making footprints to the treasure (well, I hope when she finds it she lets me have a share!).

I've been fairly busy since I last wrote a blog post though I can't completely remember what I've been doing.  My parents (the Aged Parents or APs) came up for a long weekend, so there wasn't much time for sitting at the computer then.  On Tuesday I met up with Friend L. down in Kendal: we were saying how much we liked Kendal, though I think we were both a bit disappointed with the Chocolate House, where we met.  The display about the process of making chocolate was reminiscent of my Mum's college coursework on coffee beans (i.e. large boards/sheets of paper with photos and then labels stuck on) and partly hidden by screens as they were storing their christmas stuff up there: in addition we hadn't realised that if we'd gone in the shop first we would have got our hot chocolate drinks for free.  I thought the hot chocolate itself was disappointing too: it didn't taste any different from the Cadbury's powdered hot chocolate; and the range of chocolates in the shop wasn't anything special.  However it was nice to see L. and to wander around the shops, including the new K Shoes Outlet centre, and I did buy some pink champagne truffles for the teachers at school.

Yesterday I had another growth scan at the hospital and also, unexpectedly, saw one of the Obstreticians, which was a bonus.  The growth scan was excellent: the baby is now about 5lb, having had a good growth spurt, and just under the 50th centile, and the amniotic fluid was measuring about 17cc (as opposed to 8cc when they said it was a bit low).  I also had a chat about delivery options with the Dr. and am coming back round to the idea of a planned caesarean section, which I hope would mean that I have the baby between Christmas and New Year (while we have Brother-in-Law and Wife-to-Be staying, so babysitters on hand, and also so the baby gets the £250 child trust fund money before the Government abolishes it on 1st Jan.!).

I bumped into one of the Dads from school on my way out of the hospital: there's an outside chance he could be my anaethetist when I go in to have the baby.  He was saying, as the Dr. had already said, that a section is the lowest risk option for the baby.  As far as I'm concerned that's really the deciding factor: whatever is best for the baby.  I have an appointment with my usual consultant on Monday, when all will be finalised.  So only 4-5 weeks to wait and then the Little Guy will be here!

Yesterday afternoon I met up with Running Friend A. at Off the Wall.  As ever it was great to see her: she's such a positive, cheerful person, as I know I've written before.  We were both laughing at one point as I was on the phone to Husband and the baby was sticking his bottom or something out so much that R.F.A. could see it as well.  Later in the bath I was laughing again, as my stomach was quite lopsided from him doing the same.  It's weird though!

Off to teach Daughter's class a christmas carol ready for next week this afternoon: and I said that if there was time I'd take the Gruffalo song as well.  She's now a star ('the Star') in the nativity play: the teacher caught me after school yesterday as apparently Daughter had been in tears about being 'only' the narrator, so she's now the narrator and the Star.  This weekend I need to make a glittery star costume.... trust her to get her own way and to end up being something glittery and also very noticeable.  Son is a mouse in his play, though he was going to suggest to the teacher that maybe he could be a ferret.  I'm not quite sure whether I'm expected to be making him a costume: he said he would borrow Daughter's fur coat.

I didn't managed to get to school nativity plays last year or the year before, so am really looking forward to going this year.  This weekend I'm planning on putting the lights up in our apple tree... next weekend the tree... and of course I need to get the advent calendar ready for Wednesday.  Christmas means so much more and is so much more exciting now I have children, and can share in their excitement: and I've just managed to create an extra 5 years for myself by having a third child!

Monday, 15 November 2010


Early evening on Friday I was in the delivery suite!  No, my waters hadn't broken and I hadn't gone into labour: but I hadn't felt the baby move since very early that morning, and then not very much, and he had hardly moved the day, despite the fact that I was sitting down relatively still both days.  I had phoned the Community Midwife to ask whether I should go in, and the one around at the time - bless her - had phoned back to say she thought I should go in to be checked, especially bearing in mind the low amniotic fluid.  She had also phoned the delivery suite so they expected me.

It was strange going into one of the rooms in the delivery suite, knowing that in a few weeks' time I'll be in there giving birth.  The baby had made a few half-hearted movements in the car on the way in, but still I was filled with apprehension.  I needn't have been.  As soon as I reclined back on the bed (I do think beds where you can raise the back and rest at whatever angle you like are fab.) and was attached to the monitor he began wriggling like mad: and didn't stop for a good 25 minutes.  It was as if he had been saving it all up until he could show off to the midwife!

The midwife was lovely: in fact so lovely that I shall break my self-imposed 'anonymity rule' and mention her name here: Navia Ghafoor.  She didn't once make me feel that I was being a paranoid pregnant woman and what was more she also told me that she'd read my notes and that although the amniotic fluid was low, it was only slightly low - at the bottom of the 'normal' range - as opposed to nearly all gone (which was what I had imagined from the conversation last Monday).  She also did various other tests as well, all of which were normal, and brought me a lovely weak cup of tea.

I had taken a book in to read but in fact lying there listening to the baby's heartbeat, concentrating on his movements and pressing a button whenever he moved, were all I needed to keep me occupied.  His good strong heartbeat was music to my ears and I didn't care about the slight discomfort from his rather vigorous movements.

He eventually calmed down enough that the midwife could also get a sense of his resting heartbeat, and I went home: not only reassured but tearfully happy.

Today I had another scan to check the amniotic fluid and the flow from the placenta to the baby: the amniotic fluid, I was delighted to hear, had increased: from 8 to 11 something (why they didn't think to tell me the actual figures last week I don't know, though I suppose I would have worried anyway) and the doppler (the flow) absolutely fine.  Meanwhile I have more photos of the little guy and have scanned one in.  It shows his face, with his hand(s) on the left and his eyes clearly looking straight out of the photo.  I hope his mouth and nose won't look so squished once he's born: his nose looks decidedly piggy!

Meanwhile I'm back in for another growth scan next week, and due to see the consultant the week after to discuss delivery.  I'm beginning to think that a caesarean before Christmas wouldn't be such a bad thing, and would even be rather exciting.  I'm looking forward to meeting this little boy.  I got the baby clothes I've been given out of the cupboard today, to start to sort through them and put some in my hospital bag.  Maybe I should also treat myself to a travel set of facial care to take into hospital......  Husband and I are going to Newcastle on Friday and I'm sure John Lewis will have something I'd like!

What was also lovely was that just as I was leaving the hospital today the midwife I had seen last week came up and asked how things were, so I was able to tell her the amniotic fluid had increased.  She looked really pleased.  I thought it was touching that she recognised me and bothered to ask.  There are distinct advantages to going to a small hospital.

Of course I came away feeling full of beans and thinking that perhaps I could sing in the choir concerts after all: but I know in reality that I made the right decision.  I have been getting more physically tired with this pregnancy than I remember with the other two, and getting stinging pains in my stomach, and I think I would just feel pressurised if I knew I had a solo coming up and even knowing I had to stand up for a couple of hours in a concert.  I hope I can get to the concert in Brampton to hear the choir though: it would be nice to be in the audience for a change, though I'm sure I'm going to feel very jealous of whomever sings 'my' solo!  So long as everything continues OK I shall go ahead with my Grade 7 exam however: I'm not singing for as long and it's during the day rather than in the evening.

Otherwise, apart from maybe a bit of swimming, I'm going to use the next couple of months/five or six weeks as a good excuse just to take things easy: perhaps something I'm not very good at!

Wednesday, 10 November 2010


Well, on the highest fells at least.

I knew winter was really here when there were reports yesterday of snow on high ground and there it was, visibly, in Cumbria.  Brampton Fell and the northernmost end of the Pennines seem to have lost their covering today and its looking rather grey on what I think may be Hevellyn and Blencathra, which we see as we drive towards the motorway, but even so it's a sure sign that we are no longer in autumn but that winter has arrived.  The fact that the car thermometer said minus something when we left for school yesterday was another clue.

I love this weather.  It's sunny so everything is a mixture of green, gold and blue, and the low temperature doesn't bother me at all because it's always possible to put on extra layers of clothes (in fact I don't even have the heating on in the house as I write this: it seems rather self-indulgent to put the heating on during the day when only I am in).

My mood has improved somewhat because we've also heard that the Tax Credits people do not now expect us to repay them £1,400 - a figure which they agreed over a year ago we shouldn't have to repay, but which for some reason didn't get updated on our records, so now, when we need the money most, we've been getting hardly anything.  I also heard from the Job Centre that I am eligible for Maternity Allowance, which is a huge relief - rather than an income of c.£120 per month I shall be getting c.£120 per week for up to 39 weeks.  I really hadn't wanted to have to start applying for jobs with a newborn baby and to have to be considering putting the baby into nursery at 3 months old.  Funny how the relief about the money has made me feel generally more optimistic and energetic, despite a second particularly bad night's sleep, lying awake wondering how much the baby would move.

I even feel less annoyed with the hospital than I did.  The Community Midwife had - for a second time in this pregnancy - arranged for a Dr. to call me with more details about the low amniotic fluid.  Nobody bothered to phone me, so I called this morning.  I was put through to a midwife who, quite frankly, made me feel as if I was making a fuss about nothing, and who could give me no extra information.  To her maybe she sees this all the time and it's nothing to worry about: for me it is the first time I've experienced it, I'm worried anyway because of my age and because I know of two people who had very late stillborn babies, and also I don't know anyone else who has had low amniotic fluid.  The most reassuring person was a lady from choir who bothered to phone me, who's a retired midwife and was able to say that they see it quite a bit, and that because of my age they'll be keeping an extra eye on me.  I can't decide whether to write a letter to the AnteNatal clinic complaining, and copy it to the Community Midwife; whether to phone the Community Midwife again; or whether just to wait until Monday when I go back in and I get to see 'my' normal consultant as well.  I'm tempted by the first.

Meanwhile on the singing front it was quite a relief not to have to worry about going to choir last night.  I almost fell asleep at 8pm anyway, and did finally turn out the light at 10pm.  I had a slight sore throat from doing about half an hour's singing practice but I also felt boosted by the fact that MJ, who quite often accompanies me and who came round to practice a Mozart aria I'm singing in school in a few weeks, said that I sang Mozart well/it suited my voice (or something confidence-boosting along those lines anyway!).  I'm now thinking definitely of entering 'Porgi Amor' for Carlisle Festival next March and also perhaps doing something from the C Minor Mass.  There is also a duet I want to sing with WT, one of the basses at choir, and a trio I'd like to do with him and with MT (the girl I sang 'Sull'Aria' with last year, when we came second).  So it could be quite a Mozart-fest if I get my way!

People have been so lovely and supportive, and choir have been very understanding about my giving up so early (I had sworn blindly that I was determined to keep going up until the end of term).  Humans are capable of so much kindness, and a little kindness can go a long way: why then can we also be so thoughtless and sometimes cruel beyond imagining?

Monday, 8 November 2010


Mixed results - and feelings - from my growth scan today.  The baby's growing as he should, along his line: on target to be the same weight at full term as Son and Daughter.  His heart is beating well, he's moving around fine, and flow from the placenta looked OK.  But the amniotic fluid is very low so I have to go back next week for another scan (just of the fluid) and for a doppler, which measures the flow through the umbilical cord I think: the reason being that if the fluid gets too low the cord can become compressed, and then the baby doesn't get enough oxygen etc.

At the moment he would still be very premature if born and I would need to be given some steroids to get his lungs to mature if it looked as if they were going to have to deliver him.  On the other hand, apparently the level of fluid could increase again by next week: so fingers crossed!

Because I've been feeling a little tired recently - which I put down to lower iron levels and subsequent to this cold, which I still haven't shaken off completely - I've been wondering for the past couple of weeks whether my determination to keep singing right up until Christmas is the right decision.  I mentioned to the hospital midwife today that I get a stinging pain if I'm standing up/walking around/singing for a long time, and she said maybe it was time for me to slow up a bit and take things more easily.  I think the thing is that because the physical effect is on me - rather than the baby - I don't want to give in, whereas because the low amniotic fluid could have an effect on the baby I'm somewhat more worried.  It reminds me of when Daughter developed a wonky heartbeat: it made me take the decision to give up work a bit earlier than I had originally intended.  And I have to say that in some ways just getting Son and Daughter into school in the morning is enough to deal with sometimes!  Frequently I mean to take a rest in the afternoon but then by the time the afternoon arrives and I've had lunch (usually late), before I know it I need to be out to fetch the children from school.  At weekends I spend an extra couple of hours in bed reading when I can: I always feel so lazy doing so especially when I'm aware of the 101 things which need doing round the house and garden, and which I really feel I have little excuse not to do: I was doing decorating at 38/39 weeks pregnant with Son.  After all, women in poor countries carry on working in the fields right up until the birth of their babies sometimes.  But then I guess the infant mortality rate is quite a bit higher than here...

In other words I shall feel pathetic if I stop choir but on the other hand I shall feel even worse if I let them down at the 11th hour or if I sing my solo really badly.  I just hope the baby - and the amniotic fluid - hang on long enough to let me do my Grade 7 exam on 9th December (and there's an added complication: the choir concerts are only a couple of days after that so if I can do one then theoretically I should be able to do the other: but perhaps having only one thing to concentrate on would be best). 

Dutch Friend M. sent me a lovely text which I want to quote here just because I want to keep it and treasure it: 'Fwiw, your physical state of wellness as well as the way you carry your pregnancy leave me (53) in awe and with a slight envy ;-)'.  What a lovely thing to say: likewise Sister-in-Law-to-be has also been incredibly supportive.  Maybe rather than thinking that I'm being lazy I should just indulge these last couple of months (or slightly less) and relax.

Am still waiting to hear about Child Tax Credit, Maternity Allowance, review of our Council Tax banding and also posted off the form for a Sure Start Maternity Grant this morning: fingers crossed we have positive news in relation to those as otherwise I'm also going to have to start job-hunting as soon as the baby's born!

It's looking as if he could be a pre-Christmas baby at this rate (and more likely an elective caesarian than a trial of labour I think): next week will provide better information.

Friday, 5 November 2010


I was planning a quiet day today: a bacon sandwich in Jacobites, then opening a savings account at the Cumberland for Daughter (my children have far more money than I do), then coming home and doing nothing much: possibly the ironing.

I have a growth scan on Monday as the baby was measuring small at the midwives yesterday, and also I'm still, pathetically, feeling a bit tired and washed out with this cold which is lingering on.

Instead of Jacobites I went to Off the Wall and it was serendipitous that I did.  Running Friend A. was in there with a friend of hers whom I keep bumping into (I first met her at the Langholm Drs run) and they invited me to gatecrash and sit down with them.  Running Friend A. is always lovely and cheery anyway: she manages to appear positive even when she's not necessarily feeling wonderful.  In addition speaking to them both about growth scans, maternity allowance and so forth was really helpful.

Another friend who lives just down the road from me then appeared as well, with her two youngest children who are 8 months and 2 and a half and both gorgeous.  She is one of the people who has so kindly given or lent me piles of baby stuff, but also she had lots of growth scans and worries with her pregnancies.  Despite this her daughter was 7lb 1oz when she was born and her 3rd child, a little boy, 7st 4oz: both perfectly normal and healthy.  She was one of the people who was reassuring about having an amnio: I was really pleased to bump into her as I thought she'd also be reassuring about growth, and she was.  After all, this baby has a good heartbeat and is wriggling around a fair amount: more so now than a few weeks ago even I think.  He's even squirming as I write.  Running Friend A. had of course had the opposite experience: growth scans because they thought her baby was too big!

The most uncomfortable thing for me now is singing: I get a temporary but stinging ache at the top of my stomach after singing, and if feels as if the baby is pushing against his surroundings (i.e. me).  Also, with feeling rather sluggish with this cold I've got I don't really feel energetic and enthusiastic enough to sing well, and if I sing for too long get a sore throat: but I so badly want to do well in my Grade 7 and also want to sing my short solo well in choir's christmas concerts: I'm also going into school to sing 'Porgi Amor' to them, talk to them about Mozart/Vienna/Opera and teach them a christmas carol.

Off the Wall is advertising for musicians for Friday evenings, so I've had a brief chat with them about that and need to follow it up in more detail, subject to finding an accompanist with a relatively portable electric piano.  Pity I haven't got my demo CDs done yet.

The lady in the Building Society was lovely, and along with Running Friend A. is on the hot dog stand at the Brampton Fireworks this evening.  I think we may go there rather than to Hayton, so long as the children don't object too much: it might be less muddy as it's up a hill, we can walk there, and it's got food as well as the bonfire and fireworks.

I came home from the middle of Brampton feeling - again - really part of the local community.  I know quite a few people locally in all sorts of capacities.  And I don't feel claustraphobic, nor as if everyone knows my business: there's enough space around us that we can escape people if we want to.  If anyone had ever told me that I'd end up living in a town which is smaller than the village I grew up in and hated, in a relatively unpopulated part of the UK, I'd have laughed at them: but then 10 years ago if anyone had told me I'd end up with 3 children I would also have laughed at them.  I love it here and I have no regrets whatsoever about the way my life has changed, although I'm glad that I've done the things I did when I was younger (well, most of them!): living in London, being a holiday rep. in France and Norway, having a good career.

As Carlisle Living quoted me as saying when they printed my interview (though these weren't my exact words): 'I'm in a good place'.  And that's not only emotionally, but physically as well.

Added the next day:
Fireworks footnote!
We then went to fireworks up at Brampton School yesterday evening, with Special Friend M., Pregnant Friend C. and their sons: and bumped into more people we knew up there.  The bonfire was in the shape of a boat, the fireworks were great, and the rain had stopped: there were also hot dogs for sale and I believe a pig roast, though all I bought in the end was a hot dog for Son (served by the lady from the Building Society).  Son got over his disappointment at not going to Hayton fireworks and seeing other school friends, and it was an enjoyable evening.  When Son came in for a cuddle this morning he was telling me which fireworks he liked the best and demonstrating what noises they made.  Today is a glorious, relatively dry autumn day: the colours are now distinctly a fiery yellow and orange rather than green.