A Birth Story

Posted on 18 September, 2016

At five in the morning on the 30th of May 2016 I woke up feeling odd. I didn’t feel any contractions, my waters hadn’t broken there were no twinges of any kind I just felt like something was going to happen. Being exactly one week overdue I had lived with this sense of imminence for about 4 weeks now and generally nothing happened. But I felt like wandering so I got up and went to the bathroom. After pottering in the bathroom for a few minutes I decided I definitely wasn’t in labour but I wasn’t ready to give up hope just yet. I turned over the toothbrush timer over and stood in the Goddess yoga pose for three minutes while the sand made it’s way to bottom of the timer. After the three minutes I re-assessed. In the mirror I saw a  41 week pregnant woman squatting in her bathroom at five in the morning when she could be asleep or at least trying to sleep. So I made my way back to bed. I sat at the edge of the bed and began arranging my complicated system of pillows which I had patented in late pregnancy to try to sleep. As soon as I sat on the bed my waters broke, although burst is probably a more accurate description. Surrounded by a litre of water I decided to turn on a light. Steve bolted upright as though he’d been electrocuted.After Steve shouted “What? What’s happening? Whats going on?” for a few minutes everyone calmed down and we decided to ring the midwife at the hospital. She said as to relax, have a shower, make some breakfast and then make my way to the hospital in my own time. The midwife said they will confirm at the hospital if my waters have broken or not and in all likelihood I will be sent home again to labour at home.So, that’s what we did. Steve called his parents who came over to wait in the house for Ewan to wake up.  I showered and started to feel the first contractions (about 5;20am), nothing major, they only lasted for a few seconds but it was enough for me to start thinking it was ‘Game On!’ He made me breakfast, stripped the bed and we both went about the house being giddy. I was also relieved. I had been induced three years ago with Ewan and I was excited that labour had started naturally this time.

On my first visit to Cork University Hospital with this pregnancy I had signed up for the Domino Scheme (something that wasn’t available in Cork when I had Ewan). The Dominio Scheme is a midwife led scheme for people who want to have a natural birth in the hospital. The main reason I signed up for it was that if all went well with the labour then baby and I could be home within six hours of giving birth. To me this was ideal. There were moments during the labour with Ewan when I was very glad to have a medical team right there and I was relieved to be in a hospital  but there was nothing about staying in the hospital overnight that I wanted to replicate. The sooner I could be back in my own bed the better.

Another reason I had picked the Dominio Scheme was that there was a small number of midwives so the idea is by the time you get to labour you have met the midwife who will be delivering your baby. But because it’s a small team of midwives who run the scheme there is only one Domino midwife on duty in the hospital at a time. So when we arrived in the hospital, at about half past six in the morning, the Domino midwife was busy helping someone else in labour and no one really knew what to do with me. I was admitted to the emergency section of the hospital and they hooked me up to a trace machine to listen to the babies heart beat. Contractions were getting stronger at this point and I had to be as still as I could manage and that wasn’t easy. After 20 minutes or so they knew baby was doing well and I was free to move around again. Once I had the freedom to move around again I was cheery again and ready to deal with contractions.

Looking back at the first time around I felt a bit conned by hypnobirthing. In hindsight I had really latched on to the premise that pain is a state of mind and with the right breathing and relaxation I could feel the contractions or surges as waves of pressure rather than pain. However, if you have ever stepped into the induction ward in CUMH with more beeping machines than any one room can handle you realise that the pressure to get out of that room does not lend itself to relaxation. So when I did feel pain during my first labour I didn’t put it down to the fact that I was in the middle of a long induced labour. Instead I felt like I was doing it wrong, I felt like I was failing to relax and so this pain was a result of me not feeling relaxed and ready enough. Somehow I had ignored a key piece of information during my first pregnancy. That is labour hurts but the very longest that pain lasts is three minutes and then your body rests. It’s not a lingering pain,it comes in a wave and passes, there are no contractions hangovers after each one. Once it’s done, it’s done. At this point they were lasting about a minute and a half yes they were painful but they were not cripplingly so and every one of these was bringing my baby a tiny tiny bit closer to us. That was my focus. I knew I didn’t want these contractions to stop. I wanted them to get stronger because the stronger they became the nearer baby was. The contractions needed to keep going and I was willing them on.

Standing circling my hips was the most comfortable position for me and labouring in that position was really managable. By now it was about seven o’clock in the morning, maybe later, Steve and I waited in the emergency waiting room while I held on to the flip lid of a bin during contractions! I wasn’t in any rush to go back into the emergency room so this limbo while they figured out what to do with someone in the Dominio scheme when there was no Dominio midwife suited me perfectly.

We spent our time between contractions talking about how Ewan would be delighted showing his grandparents where we keep the breakfast stuff  and then we made awkward conversation with a couple from Mallow who wanted to know if I thought this was the real thing or a trial run. I thought this better be the real deal because I was doing great at this but if this was a trail run and some elaborate water prank played by Steve  then I was going to be in trouble  when it came to the real thing. At about half seven or so the midwife in the emergency room called me in to do an examination. I think the intention had been to send me home to labour,  which I would have been happy with because our conversation with the Mallow couple had come to an awkward close when I started to ignore them. When she did examine me she panicked, “You’re four centimetres, you shouldn’t be here at all, you need to go down to the labour room.” I laughed at her tone. She sounded like I had deliberately tricked her. It had taken me two days to get to four centimetres in my first labour so to be sent to the labour ward after only two hours in labour made me very happy indeed.

I decided to walk down to the labour ward rather than get the lift. This really worked. With each step I could feel the contractions getting stronger by the time we got down to the labour ward the contractions were a lot stronger and coming faster together. It was twenty to eight and I was told that although I wanted to use the pool I would have to wait for the Domino midwife to start her shift at 8. Waiting for her to start her shift, do whatever paper work was needed and maybe examine me before I could get in the pool meant the pool was seeming further and further away and it all felt like needless red tape. I replied without a shred of politeness “Could YOU not fill the pool!”. Not my finest moment but Steve reckons she took it well and ran away with sufficient speed. I never saw her again but she did fill the pool.

In the next few minutes I got two pieces of good news. First the midwife coming on duty was Linda. I had met Linda at the Domino Scheme ante natal classes and she had won me over by bringing baked goods to the classes and generally being a wonderful warm person.She is one of those people who you just know you can trust. She is warm and calm and the midwife I had clicked with the most. The relief to know it was her that was going to be there to help deliver my baby made me feel so glad that I had chosen the scheme and excited that everything was slotting into place. She started her shift early by which time the pool was ready and the water was warm.

Getting into the pool was heavenly. All the good things you hear about labouring in water are true. The warmth of the water is so relaxing. Being in a room without machines, with mosaic tiles and dimmed lighting makes you feel like you’re on a weird spa day rather than in a hospital. But for me I think the reason I enjoyed getting into the pool was the feeling that I had made. I got to the end of the pregnancy without pre-eclampsia, I had got to the end of the pregnancy full stop. I was in labour, this baby was coming. The early miscarriage before this pregnancy made me doubt this pregnancy for a long time. But my body had done it. It had carried a health baby to full term whose heart beat was measuring consistently strong  and regular. This was a body I could trust. I was with the man I trust implicitly and when I opened my eyes after each contraction they met the eyes of the midwife who  I had wanted to be here ,who I trusted. I felt safe and ready.

From here time does that odd paradox where the hours seem to wheeeesh by but at the same time I was aware that things are happening slowly. From getting into the pool at about ten past eight in the morning nothing felt rushed, no one pointed to the clock things just went the way they went. The trainee midwife was excellent at reading the babies heart beat while I was in the pool I was free to move as little or as much as I wanted. The policy of midwives on the Dominio scheme is to let you lead. If you and baby are doing well then they just go with it. So when I wanted to get out of the pool she helped me out, when I wanted back in she helped me in. When I wanted to suck on the gas and air tube as though my life depended on it she helped me out. This might seem like a small thing but having the freedom to move around, squat, stand, move in the water,  felt really good. Having had my first labour as a two day event with a lot of time being glued to the bed when I needed to be monitoured it made me feel in control and at ease to move around as and when I wanted . It also helped me relaxing knowing I didn’t need to be monitored to the same degree. They checked the baby’s heartbeat  with a mobile device  so I didn’t have to be hooked up to anything.

During the labour not much went on in my head. Other than thinking how much I liked the water all I kept repeating in my head to breathe out longer than breathing in. Most breathing techniques can be summed up with that and it worked for me.  I had practiced lots of breathing rhythms with both yoga and hynpobirthing but during labour I found counting too annoying and also I got frustrated if my breathe didn’t make the designated number. I also stuck with one image of blowing a bubble very slowly and very carefully. In the ante- natal class Linda (the same Linda who was smiling at me from the edge of the pool)  had given us all bubbles and tasked us to blow the biggest bubble we could. The slow long breath that you need to blow a decent bubble was perfect for labour and who doesn’t like bubbles!

And so that’s how labour went, me breathing long breathes imagining bubbles, warm water in the pool, labouring on the toilet, labouring on a mat on the floor on my hands and kness, squatting,leaning against an excercise ball, some empty wretching,a relaxation CD, sucking on the gas and air tube with determination, banging the gas and air tube off the side of the pool to get the water out, the sound of running warm water against my back and a lot of hip circling and moving, and when I needed it Steve’s hand in mine. This was going better than I had hoped but at some point I started to notice that time was ticking on and I wanted to know how close I was. Linda asked if I’d like to be examined and I jumped at the chance. This was at about 2:45 pm and I was fully dialated. She said I could feel the top of the head on the next contraction. When people told me that midwives offered that I always thought why would you want to do that but this was my ninth hour of labour and feeling the top of the baby’s head was literally like feeling the light at the end of the tunnel. As I felt the head I started to think that this was it. The baby was coming. I thought once I could feel the head that one or two more pushes and baby would be in our arms but that wasn’t the case. I was out of the pool and squatting on a mat. Waiting for contractions to come felt like years and they were so brief I felt let down. I knew I needed long contractions to get this baby out but baby seemed perfectly happy to stay where he or she was.

Then came a series of contractions running into each other like backed up traffic. One after the other. Still squatting I tried to stay with each one. I was thinking everything at this point. I was listening to Steve’s voice and thinking he sounded excited and nervous. I was thinking of Ewan and how he changed our lives. I was thinking of my friends not so pleasant description of her birth. I thought of a blog about a woman who spelled the names of her children in her head during each contraction. But when it came to the end of her labour she couldn’t remember how to spell their names or barely think what their names were. Then I felt a burning sensation  and I thought of the song Ring of Fire. Then I remembered it was by Johnny Cash. I sang it in my head. “It burns burns burns the ring of fire”. At that strange moment where the pain was intense I had that clarity. It sounds mad but remembering the words, the singer, the title made me feel in control. I am here.  The pain hasn’t won over and made me lose my words. I’m still here. I’m so close to having my baby here and I can feel it all.

I was holding onto a pole which was by the steps into the pool. With my feet pushing down into the mat on the floor I raised myself slightly and squatted down again. This baby was coming. Voices raised, I squeezed the metal pole and handed myself over to the surges. Linda said in the next contraction your baby will be here. She said she would help me lift the baby to me. I don’t know how she said it or what noises I made in return to let her know I was ready but with the next surge my baby slid from me and I raised her body to my chest.I remember the movement of it. I couldn’t say how Linda had helped me or who was sitting, standing, squatting where but the sensation of losing the baby from my body and with one swoop feeling her delicate weight against my chest was breathtaking. She was here. It was without question the fullest I am ever likely to feel in my life.  Our baby was here.

She was born at 3:33pm on the 30th of May and weighed 9 pounds 1 ounce. But at the time we didn’t know any of that. We didn’t check what gender she was, no one weighed her, we didn’t even marvel at the red hues in her hair. Instead we reacted to the the changing tones of voices. Linda and the student midwife Sarah were rubbing her briskly. Freya was quiet and blue. She didn’t cry. They shook her hands, spoke loudly to her and rubbed her back vigorously. At first I didn’t pay much heed but as they continued doing it I looked at Steve. He too started rubbing her anxiously. She was now a purple colour and still did not make a noise. I thought she was just calm. I wanted everyone to stop. But the longer the jostling continued the more my mind started to wander to where I wasn’t allowing it to go. Within moments she gave me what has since become her trademark face of pained irritation. Through rose tinted glasses I saw her as annoyed by the fuss but perfectly calm and well. Steve later said the change of tones was because she seemed listless and her colour was not good. But within moments she made the noises they had wanted to hear. She coloured as she was meant to and she lay on us.

Everything seemed to stop after the birth. There was no medical team around. Freya wasn’t taken from us to be weighed or dressed. Linda left us to it and Steve and I held her for two hours on the floor of the pool room. It was bliss. Our baby girl was here.

To hold her undisturbed for that long without having to worry about getting her dressed, moving ourselves or do anything other than gaze at her was a joy. Life has moved up a gear since she was born and time to stare at her uninterrupted is brief. Steve and I seem to be constantly busy but for those first few hours we had nothing to do but hold her and gaze at her.

In time we made our way for me to get stitches then up to the ward to wait for discharge. The nurses on the ward were fantastic at lining up all the right people so that Freya and I could get every check that was needed and we could go home as I had wanted.

We said goodbye to Linda and at 10:00pm we left for home. As I walked to the car it felt surreal only hours before Freya had come into the world now we were bringing her out into the night. It was a balmy night and I felt glad that her first introduction to the world was one of heat and comfort. We drove like elderly snails home and made ourselves some breakfast. it’s hard to know what to eat at half ten at night when you’ve just had a baby. Ewan was with his grandparents and we stayed up as long as our tired bodies let us stare at her.

Every morning of her first week a midwife from the Dominio Scheme called to see us. When I signed up for the scheme my main concern was getting home quickly after the birth. What I hadn’t planned for or thought about was how nurtured I would feel after the birth. Being visited every morning meant that any little niggles or questions that I had about Freya or myself were dealt with. She was so well cared for and checked by this community of women that I partly wanted to keep them around. But when Friday came I was ready to say my goodbyes to the morning visits and settle into life as a family of four. A family of four. I still get a kick from saying that!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Breastfeeding in vintage clothes

Posted on 12 August, 2016

One of the biggest hurdles for me with breastfeeding is figuring out what to wear. My favourite styles are vintage shift dress, actually shift dresses of all kinds and almost everything else I wear has a boat neckline. To breastfeed in most of my clothes would involve sitting in my underwear with a dress scrunched up around my neck. Not a great look.  While breastfeeding vests under my tops and a pair of jeans seems to solve a lot of problems I miss the joy of a nice dresses. The big reason I favour dresses is that it is one choice and I’m done. Only one item that needs to be clean and dry. You don’t have to match anything with anything. I repeat one thing and I’m done. That’s the way to do it.

Plus a good dress makes me happy.

For the moment I am choosing to breastfeeding and while it’s going well I don’t plan on investing in a new wardrobe to facilitate feeding for a few months. So my mission was to buy a few vintage pieces that I can wear when I’m not breastfeeding but which also allow me to get my boobs out at a moments notice !  By Jove I think I’ve got it.

Turns out all you really need to rock a breastfeeding vintage dress is buttons. Well that and some give in the material but essentially buttons do the job. Also Cork has such great vintage shops that I managed to buy vintage and local, score!

First up is this seventies number from Turquoise Flamingo. I LOVE this dress. It’s really comfy, light enough to wear now and in the winter some tights will give it another lease of life.

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Generally, I do wear shoes but it was early in the morning with a small window of opportunity so the search for my sandals was abandoned.

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In real life I wear it with a giant black nappy changing bag but for the picture I added a dainty bag that I picked up from Mother Jones Flea Market.

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The second dress I’ve found is this pink beauty from Mercury Goes Retrograde. It’s impossible for me to go into this shop and not buy something. Trust me I’ve tried and it is actually impossible!

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In the few weeks that I have owned this vintage gem I have worn it to a wedding, the supermarket, the beach and Freya’s naming ceremony making it the best catch-all dress of all time.

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Vintage skirts and shirts are next on my wish list.

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Six week myth

Posted on 3 August, 2016

When Ewan was born we fell for the six week myth in a big way. Never fear we thought, this tiredness will settle into a manageable routine  at 6 weeks. He will be a social smiling, musically attentive bundle of joy in a home where routine  reigns supreme.

This myth is a powerful one not just because every baby book in the world perpetuates it but because you really really want to believe it. If your baby is coming up to six weeks and this post has the potential to burst your bubble then please be assured that plenty of parents have told me they thought things “settled down” at six weeks. I however am wondering how the publishing companies have got to them to feed the lie so convincingly.

Contre to the popular belief that life will once again “fall into place” at six weeks I am more inclined to believe that life unravels a little when your baby reached six weeks.

With both Ewan and Freya I floated about for the six weeks of their lives. Everything was amazing. I viewed the birth as transformative, night feeds were a chance to gaze at their beautiful squidgy faces, getting them changed after another nappy failure was a chance to seem them in an even cuter outfit.

I read once that while filming the tv series Moonlighting the camera lens was smeared with a light layer of vaseline to give Cybil Shepard a soft focus and  hazey glow. For me life for the first six weeks had  that same vaseline lens quality. I remember one night of feeding Freya at 3am, 5am and 7am declaring chirpily that we had a great nights sleep. I really believed it too. Some people call it a love bubble, some say its hormones either way after six weeks it popped.

Freya is now 8 weeks old and I can fully declare that a cumulative tiredness has hit hard. Don’t get me wrong, by any standard Freya has been an incredible baby. This is not bias on my part it is just a fact! She spent seven hours in a fancy pants hotel while I eked out every last drop from my afternoon tea and didn’t cry once.(Admittedly I did put a breast in her mouth anytime she considered making a sound but you do what you need to when there is cake involved!).  When all is well she goes to bed at about 10:30pm and feeds once sometime in the dark confusing hours of the night and will wake again at about 7am. She is simply fantastic. But the fact remains it is still so hard. The bags under my eyes have joined together to make one large puffy bruised coloured hold all. I no longer rejoice at changing her outfit. Instead I struggle to remember what still fits her and why I was getting her dressed in the first place.

Now if the books said at six weeks you will feel so tired it will take you three laps of the house to remember what it is you went looking for then I would buy that book! This time around I knew a routine doesn’t fall from the sky and I wasn’t expecting the final piece of the routine jigsaw to slot into place and it certainly didn’t. My only parenting wisdom I have acquired in the last three years seems to be it’s bloody awful and heart swellingly amazing all in the one day. Once you realise that then it takes a bucket load of pressure of.  If I stand over Freya with a list of expectations of behaviors and routines no one wins. If I hibernate on the days it starts off badly we’d never do anything. So instead I’m going with the classic “winging it” approach and so far we have a household of four people who have no routine, are wrecked but happy.

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Out and about as four

Posted on 27 June, 2016

Last weekend the four of us headed to a friends wedding in Spanish Point, County Clare. In the week leading up to the wedding I planned every other outing with military precision. I have spent a disproportionate amount of lot of time figuring out the best order to get the children in and out of the car safely! There are only two of them and I may well be in danger of over thinking things but don’t worry I have thought about that too. The secret, it seems, to over thinking things is to do something that you could truly worry about. Thereby giving yourself so many things to worry about that you’ll just have no choice just to stop worrying about them because there simply isn’t enough time to worry about all the things you want to worry about. See,simple!

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Here is a brief snap shot of my pre-wedding worries . What if Freya freaks out in the car for the whole journey whicgh in turn causes Ewan to freak out and everyone arrives traumatised? How long should three week old babies be in a car seat? How will I keep Ewan quiet in the church? What if he starts asking loudly if God is real? What if both children scream the place down and no one can hear the priest? Would people mind me breastfeeding in the church? Who would object? The priest would hardly ask me to stop in the middle of his sermon, would he? Can I definitely breast feed in the dress I picked out? What will I do with my hair? How will we all get to sleep in the one hotel room? Will it be dangerous to drive home the next day when no one has slept? Did I definitely book the hotel room? I never got a confirmation email. It is definitely booked, I remember ringing but did she definitely say we had it booked?

The list went on until eventually my mind melted in a puddle on the floor. I decided to step over the brain puddle and go anyway.

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And so two parents, a three year old and a three week year old hit the road and had a blast. No one freaked out in the car. We had to duck out in the middle of the ceremony when both children decided at the same time that they had had enough but we did get to see the wonderful couple  take their vows and we made it back in to see them sign the register. Freya didn’t need a feed in the church but as it turns out I would have felt very comfortable feeding her in the church. My hair had a tough time battling with West Clare winds but it turns out that didn’t matter either. We all slept like logs. Freya slept a whooping six and a half hours between her feeds and Ewan didn’t stir until half eight which is a definite record for him.

When you put aside the logistics and the “what ifs” there is the fact that my friend got married and I got to witness it. She made a life long commitment to her wonderful husband, and he to her, and we got to be a tiny part of it. It would have been pretty easy to stay at home  in our pajamas but I’m so glad we didn’t.

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Freya

Posted on 5 June, 2016

In the space of a week baby Freya has changed our lives immeasurably. As she is our second child the anticipation before her birth was very different. When I was expecting Ewan I was so excited to jump into the unknown that I prepared, nested and imagined for months on end how it would all be. Expecting Freya I didn’t focus on the pregnancy to the same extent. This time I let it happen and watched it unfold rather than anticipating each next step. I will admit that my excitement about the birth was tempered with a large amount of trepidation. As the pregnancy moved on I started to remember what true exhaustion felt like and wondered how I would manage the feeling of depletion and an energetic three year old at the same time. I worried about my patience evaporating and me losing my cool with Ewan and everyone around me.  I worried about  how Steve and I would survive the first few months of complete change that a second child would bring.

I could still worry about all these things but something else happened that I had forgotten all about. I had forgotten what it feels like to feel a rush of love for someone new, our baby girl.  Whispering “I love you “to Freya as I kiss her head I’m left over thrown, lost for a second or two with only her. The weight of those words feel so heavy that sometimes they get caught in my throat. Over the week the realisation sinks in that I will love her forever.  Even when she doesn’t ask for it, want it or need it I will always feel it for her. Like the incessant blue bottle fly who refuses to fly out the window my love will hang in the air, never pausing, never relenting ( although hopefully less annoying!)

I feel this love for Ewan but yet I never stopped to imagine that I could feel it again. Maybe because I couldn’t have imagined it. I couldn’t replicate or dream of this feeling because it’s unimaginable that it would have happened again. It knocked me sideways the first time surely I’d have developed some immunity, some protection against its strength but I have no resistance. I am, once again, over thrown.

I stare at her as her eyes roll with the joy of milk and think she’s complete perfection,just  like her brother before her. The worries, the delusional tiredness, the tensions can wait because this is not a week for those things. This is a week for Freya.

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We need some practice with getting four of us into one picture!

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Baby Moon

Posted on 7 May, 2016

Back in 2013 Steve and I thought we were at the height of originality when we came up with the idea of having a night away just to hang out and relax together before our lives would be changed forever by the little baby growing inside me. According to everyone in the world it was going to be a big change and so some time together to hunker down and just enjoy each others company seemed like a good sensible idea. Once we announced our plan a friend said a “oh a babymoon. Nice” Hold on, a what? Apparently there is a whole term for a night (or two) away before a baby arrives. Not so original it would  seem!

So this time around with the help of Grandparents, original idea or not,  we arranged a night away for the two of us. This time we know the level of change that’s coming our way so we pushed the boat out and thought if we are doing this lets do it in style. So we booked Ballyvolane House. It’s a big old house in East Cork that I have been drooling over for about 4 years. The internet can be a terrible thing filled with beautiful, jealousy inducing photos of places you’ll never go. But given that the house is  in Cork I felt it wasn’t beyond the  realm of possibility that I would get to visit  this alluring place at some point in my life. So for years I fed my obsession with searching #Ballyvolanehouse on  Instagram at regular intervals and drilling anyone who had visited  there for information. Now that I’ve finally been I can say safely it was well worth the wait.

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I knew it would look great but it came with a few unexpected quirks too (some things wouldn’t be for everyone). Firstly, the bedrooms only lock from the inside so when you leave the room you can’t lock the door.We were only staying for a night so the worst thing someone could have stolen from us was our toothbrushes.I was willing to accept that level of risk. Plus there are only 6 guest bedrooms in the house so if something suspicious had happened I had envisaged an elaborate real-life game of Cluedo would have solved the mystery.

The next surprise is that everyone staying, and possibly some locals booked in for dinner, all eat together at one long table. Both Steve and I were apprehensive about this. Mainly because making chit chat on your break seems like a lot of effort but it turned out really well. The table of 18 people chattered,clinked and ate our way through a 3 and a half hour epic meal. The food was so heavenly that we are going  to frame the menu and I seriously doubt that I’ll ever forget the lemon tart and brown bread ice cream combo not to mention a Wild Garlic Soup that melted a little place in my heart in a way that I thought a soup could never do!!

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The next curiosity was that they have an Honesty Bar. You can take anything you want from their extremely well stocked bar, including Bertha’s Gin that they brew onsite, and they trust you to write down what you’ve had. As a pregnant lady and a partner who isn’t drinking in case I go into labour any second now we didn’t dive in but we were honest about our one sparking water! I know we’re wild!

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Honesty Bar

The last surprise is that their dogs come running after you at the first sight of a walk around the grounds. Which when battling with heartburn walks are a necessity rather than an optional extra! I don’t often get to hang out with dogs but  I definitely see the attraction! My stick throwing skills need a bit of practice and all five dogs definitely favoured Steve over me for this task.

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Our adopted friend Wriggle and a caravan used as a drinks bar for events

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While outside was nice I definitely enjoyed swanning around the house as the best part of the trip. Prepare for a photo onslaught if the quantity of photos break your internet I’m sorry (well not really) I simply can’t help myself.

Here we go….

 

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In less than 12 hours I had two baths. I was a very clean and happy customer!

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Me trying to look angelic!

Now that you’ve been bombard you with a selection of the million of photos I took I will answer the burning question I’m sure you are all thinking.”Yeah it looks nice but does the bedroom have somewhere for a big pregnant woman to hide so she can scare her partner?”.The answer is a resounding Yes! Although oddly he wasn’t scared by my grinning BOO!

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Easter hunts and disappointments

Posted on 27 March, 2016

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If this Easter has thought me anything it’s that my toddler handles disappointment much better this 32 week pregnant woman!

Saturday’s schedule was all laid out we were going to an Easter hunt with Peter Rabbit. The build up for this hunt was epic. We were reading Peter Rabbit, watching the cartoon, talking about it daily. Ewan had a list of things he wanted to bring with him to show Peter Rabbit ( a carrot and a little rabbit light his cousins sent him!) It was all systems go on Saturday morning!

That was until they cancelled it two hours before hand because of rain!  I was devastated!  stood in the pouring rain declaring that it wasn’t bad enough to cancel. I predicted breaking the heart of our nearly 3 year old. The angst of letting him down was more than my pregnancy hormones could take! Ewan  however took it just fine. “Okay” was pretty much his response. We were convinced he didn’t understand gravity of the situation and explained again. “We’ll do a hunt at home in the garden” we promised hoping to ease the devastation he was clearly feeling somewhere deep deep in his soul. “Okay” was again response. After a beat he checked, “Can I wear my wellies in the garden?” When he got a “yeah sure”  he was as pumped about our homemade hunt as he had been about the other plan.

And so with about a five minute prep we headed into the garden to find some very badly hidden chocolates.

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We got a bout of sunshine (see the weather really wasn’t so bad!) and he was thrilled with his foraging skills!

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The chocolate covered face explains how the rest of the day went.

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My theory is proven again by this mornings venture into making hot cross buns. Last night I hastily read a recipe for hot cross buns and thought that would be a lovely thing for the 3.75 of us to do together on Easter Sunday.

This morning I went again for the big build up. I showed Ewan the recipe in the paper. I made him wait for something to eat because these hot cross buns were going to be amazing and he would need his full appetite to appreciate them. I sang the Hot Cross Bun song on loop. The whole works! Once we started into making them I discovered they have to rise for one hour. Then you shape the dough into buns, then they rise for another hour! Then you bake them for nearly an hour!

I read the recipe out loud. I read it to myself. I read it out loud again while I ran my finger under the words. Finally it sunk in.”Nearly three hours” I exclaimed! “What? These are about 20 cents each in Lidl. How can Lidl afford to charge 20 cent for something that takes three hours to make? They’re only buns, how would they need three hours!” The rant went on. Ewan shrugged his shoulder and said “We have to wait” and off he went.

After one hour of waiting I suggested a walk. It turns out no-one in the house is willing to argue with a hungry pregnant woman so despite bursts of hail stones we set out. While I managed to keep the rant to an internal one at this point I was still in shock at a few insolence of the newspaper not to highlight in giant capitals that these so called buns take three hours to make. Ewan went about his day, finding chocolate where he could. He had forgot we’d even made dough in the morning. By the oven timer finally went the hot cross buns came as a magic surprise to him!

Who would have thought toddlers could be zen? Turns out as long as there’s chocolate somewhere to be found nothing else bears worrying about. He might very well be on to something!

 

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1st Pregnancy versus this time round

Posted on 15 March, 2016

As some of you may know I LOVED  my first pregnancy. As this pregnancy moves on (I’m 30 weeks now) I’m noticing some distinct differences between my first and second pregnancy.

1) During my first pregnancy I could have been categorised myself as a keen over-sharer. I would seek people out to talk to about being pregnant. When I exhausted my family, friends, colleagues and  neighbours with details of how I was feeling about everything pregnancy related I turned my attention to strangers. A stranger might innocently comment ” Oh when’s the big day?” Only to get greeted with a barrage of information” It’s the 18th of April. I’ve been feeling really well. Well, actually I had a bout of sickness at the start ( I was sick once and liked to tell everyone!) but I’m feeling much better. We don’t know the sex but for some reason I think it’s a girl ( I was wrong) We’re getting the room ready now. We’ve done the ante natal classes in the hospital and I’m trying out hypnobirthing too. Have you heard of it? No, well  let me tell you all about it…. “. The poor unsuspecting stranger who only popped out to Dunnes for milk got a blow by blow account of my pregnancy, my birthing plan and room colour choices.

This time around I’m struggling to remember I’m pregnant. Recently, someone asked me the same question”When’s the big day?”. My head raced, I’m not getting married, who is getting married that I know. Helen is. They don’t know Helen why is this stranger asking me when Helen is getting married. What big day, what are the talking about. Seeing the complete confusion on my face they asked “When is the baby due?” Once the penny dropped  I eventually replied “Ooohhh, The 23rd of May”. Despite the fact that it’s now the middle of March I’m still insisting that it’s ages away and that I have plenty of time to be thinking baby at some stage!

2) At 30 weeks pregnant in my first pregnancy babies room looked like this …

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Walls were being dry lined and painted. Vintage floor boards were sourced to replace the wonky ones. Nightly debates about colour palettes were part of the routine. We had more unisex baby grows than Mothercare, all ready to go into the newly purchased Ikea dresser.

With this pregnancy I have bought one adorable baby grow  despite the fact that for some reason we threw out most of Ewan’s old ones. This lonely baby grow  lives in the utility room under a bag of potatoes because we don’t yet have a drawer cleared for babies things. Baby will be sleeping in our room and we assume that all the pieces of the crib are somewhere to be found in the attic.

Despite the facts that we’re not in full throttle preparation mode and that the bump is significantly unphotographed in comparison to the first pregnancy I still get a little belly flop of giddiness any time I say “family of four!”.

For babies part he or she is making sure their place at the table  is being set in my mind. Wriggling, stretching,kicking and bouncing  his or her way through the day and night. Life is busy with a nearly three year old but the little life in my belly makes sure that they draw my mind back to them with their extremely athletic activities!

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Hasty 30 week snap shot!

A dirty weekend (of sorts)

Posted on 15 February, 2016

Planning a weekend away on a tiny island  in the Atlantic in the middle of February is a risky move. But if you waited for the weather you’d never go anywhere in Ireland. So we packed all the rain gear we owned and headed to Heir Island. Ewan asked to pack his sunglasses. He’s read books about holidays and thinks that such items are needed. We packed them with mocking grins the night before. Little did we know the child is a weather forecasting prodegy. Steve and I squinted our way down the windy roads of West Cork to the pier only to be greeted with the brightest green sea I’ve ever seen.

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Ewan’s packing choices were vindicated!

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We spent the weekend finding shells, drinking tea, cosying by the fire and helping Ewan out of giant puddles. No matter what wet gear, welly combo we put him in he managed to find a muddy puddle big enough to drench his trousers and socks underneath. Squelching home for food the, sponging wellies and drying them with the hair dryer before the next walk became the pattern of the day. It turns out 4 tracksuit bottoms, one rain suit and waterproof ski pants are not enough for two days away. Who would have known! Our muddy weekend made for a very dirty weekend but not in the traditional meaning of the phrase.

Despite the fact that it’s only about two hours from Cork it feels like we’ve had a real break. Sun, sea, bitter coldness, rain and mud what more could you ask for from a weekend.

I already want to go back!

Here are some of our photos if you’d like a look.

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Some news

Posted on 3 February, 2016

After months of biting my tongue I can now finally get back to blogging without the urge to blurt it all out! I am delighted to tell you that I am 24 weeks pregnant and eating constantly! We are thrilled and looking forward to the end of May with excitement and a big tinge of trepidation at the idea of suddenly being a family of four.

We had an early miscarriage at 8 weeks in June last year. It knocked the wind out of me and it has meant that I met the news of this pregnancy with worry clouding the excitement. But as time has gone on I have very slowly started to trust that it’s going to be okay. For the last few weeks I have started to feel confident in my body again.

Here are a few photos from when I was 19 weeks pregnant. I took photos then because I was having a good hair day! Plus I decided if I was going to brave maternity dungarees then I might as well commit fully and put the pictures on the internet!

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Ewan is fully on board (in theory!) When we first told him he came out with stories that I wasn’t going to have a baby I was going to have a fish. Or there was another version where he conceded I was going to have a baby but the baby would have antlers. Since then we’ve taken him to see a scan and confirmed there’s no fish or antlers. Now runs up to cuddle the bump which is both surprising and cute. He also has taken to talking to the baby in voice much like this whale voiceWe have no idea where that came from but it I hope he keeps it up!

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