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Grace’s birth story

This week my husband returned to work, I have been “signed off” by the midwife and I am solo with a 2.5yr old and a 2.5 wk old – I am pretty sure I’m not qualified but here we are and I am the responsible adult in charge – eek!  As part of being “signed off” all my maternity notes get handed back to reside in the deepest, darkest archives somewhere at the District Hospital.  The only time they will resurface will be if I have another baby – so that would be never!  I have copied a few pages related to my labour, delivery and first day – primarily as I was either on my own or unconscious for the majority! 

To tell this birth story properly I need to rewind to the evening on Sunday 11th October.  I was nearly a week overdue but started having contractions which were notable and regular about 7mins apart, so I had some supper and went to bed.  Having been here before I know I needed rest, energy and stamina and when we need to get going the pain will wake me!  I woke at 7:30am-ish on Monday morning to my lil’ H chiming “morning mummy, can I come upstairs?” through the baby monitor, still niggly tummy pains but less strong and about every 10 mins apart, these got stronger & closer throughout Monday until they were about every 5mins apart by tea time, again I went to bed, thinking “it” will wake me.  “It” didn’t, again my lil’ H did and again contractions had eased and slowed back to 8 mins – grrr is the polite, blogable version of my language.  Now at 8 days overdue my language and personality was at all time unpleasant low, limiting myself to contact with family and only the best of friends minimised the potentially catastrophic impact my mood could have had – think PMS times a million! 

Tuesday was a repeat of the same but I was much more uncomfortable in the evening and was woken a number of times, at 2am I phoned the maternity unit and took myself off on my own to be checked out having not been seen by a midwife for nearly a week.  I was bothered by disrupting my lil’ H and putting other people out I didn’t want to call my parents to come over and it be a “false alarm” but I was experiencing a level of discomfort, not pain though like last time.  So luckily for me our neighbours are in their early 20’s, gaming, partying, living life as you do in your 20’s and I could see they were up – a quick text and I had a lift to the hospital on the proviso I did not have the baby en route which I promised not to!

My maternity notes read “Mrs Lancaster admitted self to maternity unit complaining of abdominal pain: 40wks+9days” the underlining of my pregnancy timeline says it all really!  I think I was so resigned and fed up with being late I just didn’t think labour nor baby would ever come!  Not sure what exactly I did think was happening, abdominal pains?  I mean please Claire, come on!  In hindsight with what then followed I think the truth is that I was so preoccupied about not disrupting lil’ H that I just couldn’t relax enough and give myself up to labour with my toddler around so simply by being in the maternity unit I felt safe, I knew H was safe at home with his Dad and perhaps everything was then how I needed it to be to for me to progress my labour and deliver my baby. 

The usual checks followed – blood pressure, temperature, contraction monitor, baby heartbeat listen in, of course a good old feel up of the bump and the internal poke about!  Contractions were 6 mins and of a decent strength but I was still only 2cm dilated, I had been that for the last 6 weeks since my previous false start trip to the unit, having spent days in latent labour for it not to have done progressed anything was just gutting.  I was so tired, I needed sleep but couldn’t through the tightenings, I had some diamorphine, I texted Mr L to say no action will text if any change, relaxed and zoned out.  The next thing I remember was loads of people coming in to my cubical, the midwife saying “nothing to worry about we just want to do a quick scan to check baby’s position” – looking back there were too many people in there for it to be routine and they had the monitor turned away from me – I think they may have thought something unthinkable had happened because very quickly the midwife said “baby is fine, look here is her heartbeat” she then explained baby’s position was making it difficult to monitor her heartbeat.  I now know that was because she was in a back to back position, wedged on the right hand side of my pelvis – my notes read “BIG BABY Malposition ROP” the capital letters and underlining are yet another sign post to where we were heading! 

I rested & got some sleep too and in the morning I felt much better, brighter and stronger.  I was still contracting though, at 8:15am I called Mr L and said I was going to have some breakfast and get a cab home.  Midwife said she’d like me to stay for a few more hours as the contractions were still about 5 mins apart.  This is when it all seemed to go at warp speed, I got up walked to the midwives station and got a piece of toast.  I walked back to my cubicle, sat down and felt taken over, it felt like contractions were coming thick, fast and strong and they were every 2-3 minutes apart lasting about 90 seconds each.  Focus, breathe, focus, breathe, focus, then I realised someone was holding my hand it was the lovely midwife Cheryl, she took one look and set the wheels in motion to get me off the labour assessment ward (where I was most probably huffing, puffing and mooing the fear of god into a number of first time mums to be!) and into a delivery room – unable to walk I was whizzed round in a wheelchair.  I texted Mr at 8:45am “get here now” he replied “to pick you up with H?” I managed “in delivery” – bearing in mind my chipper telephone conversation with him some 30mins earlier it would be fair to say this came as a shock!  I will write a separate post on the fall out from these texts!

So here I am in the delivery room just me, the midwife and the consultant – solo wasn’t part of the plan!  Monitoring the baby’s heartbeat again proved concerning as it was intermittent and when it was tracing it was decelerating.  I was re-examined and shocked to be informed I was fully dilated at 10cm!  I give total credit to getting to 10cm whilst honestly “still waiting for things to get going” to hypnobirthing, the book & MP3’s from Tums2Mums and again I will write a separate post specifically about my experience with these techniques, they rock!  My waters still hadn’t broken and to improve monitoring they wanted to put a monitor on baby’s head, they broke my waters and they were black and green with thick muconium, not good.  I remember the glance exchanged between consultant and midwife and a few coded comments.  The midwife put a canular in my hand “just in case we need to move things along a bit”, I remember the consultant was struggling to get the monitor on baby’s head because “baby has lots of hair” and I remember thinking “oh crap I’m way further along than I thought!”  Mr L arrived just before 10am and the room seemed to just fill up with people, signs were increasing that baby was distressed and a fetal blood sample was taken, I now know this measures the acidity of the blood, with 7.5 being neutral a result below 7.3 is the start of acidosis, the process & positions required to get the sample were lets just say challenging but achieved!  Everything was going at 100 miles an hour, there were now, three midwifes including the head of midwifery, the consultant, the head of obstetrics, an anaesthetist and a student midwife who’s first day ever in a hospital it was – oh what a choice of delivery for your first!  I was told we may need to move fast when the result comes back and it may be we need to do a c-section.  The result came back just after 10:25am and it was not good at 7.2.  An alarm/bell was sounded.  “Mrs Lancaster we need to deliver your baby now by c-section, we dont have time for a spinal you need to take this tablet, drink this and understand there are risks associated with any general anaesthetic and surgical procedure … please read this and sign here” I needed to date the consent and I didn’t know the date – the consultant said ” its a very important date 14th October – its your baby’s birthdate, I will do everything to make sure you are all ok”.  Next thing I was off down the corridor on a bed unaware it wasn’t a shopping trolley with wonky wheels, I heard “have the pediatric crash team been called?” “yes there’s one team here and another on the way” which made my blood run cold but thankfully there was just no time to think.  I thought Mr L was behind me & looked back but I just saw doors closing and I was in the theatre and swiftly moved from bed to table.  A face appeared introducing himself as the anaesthetist he explained for speed he would have to press on my throat which may be uncomfortable and asked me to count backwards from 10 – he did press on my throat and I remember counting 10 then thinking holy crap he’s going to strangle me … and then I came round in the recovery room, was told everything was fine, a baby girl weighing 9lb 5oz.  I just remember seeing her all wrapped up in a blanket, exclaiming “NINE POUND FIVE!” and drifting straight back to sleep which was how I stayed for the majority of the next six hours! 

Grace Eloise Lancaster was born by emergency caesarean section under a general anaesthetic on Wednesday 14th October 2009 at 10:36am less than 10 minutes after the test result identified a potentially life threatening problem, she weighed 9lb 5oz and our life story together starts now …



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Baby weight sweep stake!

Inspired by the sweepstake OMG We’re Pregnant is running for guessing the arrival date & time of their first baby who is due later in October I thought a guess the baby weight sweepstake would be fun! 

So here you go, here is the bump, note head excluded due to lack of care or inclination to do hair or make up – I’m sparing you that for your own good people I assure you!


With a week to go, due this time next week Monday 5th October, so I am potentially looking at a further three weeks (please god no!) already one false start behind me, a reflexology appointment booked for tomorrow morning and a membrane sweep booked on Friday I feel arrival is imminent.  But what will she weigh?! 

OK, the facts – its a girl, she’s my second baby, my bump measures about 40 weeks, my first baby was a boy and arrived weighing 6lb 15oz (3.14kg)

Winner wins max smug points!  Sorry no prize but if anyone has anything they’d like to donate as a prize, please do drop me an email and we can change that – claire@dandelionlounge.co.uk

Baby weights in pounds and ounces, conversions will be done with the google calculator, all entries need to be in the comments for this post please!

Good luck!  Happy Guessing!


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The Hospital Bags

OMG its time to pack the hospital bag!  I have 31 days to go to due date and until Monday that felt a lifetime away.  My friend S is due 17 days before me and in my head (completely illogically I might add) I was “in the clear” until her baby arrived.  On Monday I missed a call from S and then got a text saying … “my waters broke last night” … OMG that’s 18 days early!  WTF early is not in “the plan”! 

I called S and I think I just may have just swore at her as my own panic took hold – I just kept thinking it can’t be her now because that means its me next!  Early was so not in either of our plans that I had to do a dash to the doctors to collect her Pethidine prescription, just in case, as she was planning a homebirth.  Then over to Boots to collect her tens machine, got both, sorted ready to go and I guess baby changed its mind because nothing happened & S was induction bound at 8am on Wednesday morning.  All went well and to wrap up on the cause of my panic buying the contents of my hospital bag, S gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, Sadie Suzanne, who arrived weighing 6lb 5oz in the afternoon on Wednesday 2nd September.  Everyone is doing great and couldn’t be happier and I’m going for a squeeze of the newbie later today! 

So if number two were to arrive early like it happened for S we’re talking about me having 13 days to go.  That is a whole lot less than 31, that is like the week after next and that eventuality I am totally and completely not ready for.  On reflection I think the truth is that my preparations for my first baby were more than excessive but that for baby number two I’ve been as disproportionately unprepared as I was over-prepared last time.  Over at OMG We’re Pregnant she’s packing her bags for beans arrival so having read her list and the recommended post by Kelly at A Place of My Own  I have been galvanised into packing my bags and there are four of them for me this time … mine, Mr L’s, baby number two’s (I think that has become her nickname, its crap isn’t it?!) and big brother to be, H. 

Here are the lists – have I got it covered?  Do you have suggestions/recomendations/alternatives – I’d love to hear them from you. 

For me, mum to be
1 x Maternity notes and birth wishes
1 x Baggy T-shirt for labour & delivery (destination – the bin!)
1 x Pyjama’s, dressing gown & flip flops/slippers
5 x knickers (old – again destination the bin!)
1 x nursing bra
2 x sox
12 x Maternity towels (need 70 in total but not planning to stay in long & can always send home for more)
1 x change of clothes, still maternity mind, to go home!
1 x Washbag – hairbrush, bobbles/clips, toothbrush & paste, shampoo & conditioner, showergel, deodorant
1 x Make-up bag – waterproof mascara, tinted moisturiser, lippy (played this game before – far too many hideous photos taken of me to mention, going to make a concerted effort this time!)
1 x Bath towel
Labour “accessories” – tens machine, homeopathic kit, chocolate, 8 hour cream, Evian water spray, flannel
1 x baby gift for the big brother to be (H can’t read so I am safe to share that baby is bringing him “cranky the crane”)

For Mr L
Shorts, t-shirt, underwear & sox
Drink & snacks
Stuff to share the news with – camera & video camera (charged!) and iPhone & charger
Money, in coin form for parking & vending machines!

For Baby Number Two
3 x vests/bodysuits
2 x babygros
1 x nightdress
2 x cardigans
1 x swaddling blanket
1 x packet of newborn nappies
1 x hat
1 x pair of scratch mits
1 x car seat & blanket

For Big Brother to be, H
Bound for Grandma’s house with his trunki packed with …
4 x t-shirts
3 x trousers
3 x vests
3 x sox
2 x Pyjamas
1 x “yoo-hoo”, 1 x George – favourite teddy sleeping buddies!
4 x dummies
Shoes, wellies, coat & waterproofs
Pull ups & bedtime nappies
Baby monitor

So that’s the lists made, this weekend will see the bags packed then next on my “to do list” is to properly stop, sit down and put some thought into my birth plan wishes – we all know it doesn’t go to plan!

Please, please, please lovely visitors and readers let me know your thoughts, suggestions and do point out any oversights – I will appreciate them all!

Very many thanks, Claire x


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Pee + Two blue lines = Pregnant

A call for contributions from http://www.amothersecrets.com via http://www.perfectlyhappymum.com has inspired me to cast my mind back to 2006, my pre-pregnancy and baby days and the moments when I found out I was pregnant, first time around with the bump formally known as “Baby Boo”, now known as H and also this my current bump.  No nickname yet and unlikely to get one given we’ve less than 7 weeks to go!  So here are my stories of how I found out I was pregnant, both the first, and this, the last time! 

The first timeMy husband, R, and I decided back in 2005 that next year would be the year we would try for a family, so dutifully packed as much “last chance” stuff in as possible into 2005 arriving hung-over but ciggie and contraception free in 2006!

We both worked away from home and each other a lot at the time, add to that a series of skiing trips, stag and hen do’s and our main conception challenge was our work and social lives! Anyway it was the August bank holiday weekend and we had good friends coming up from London to stay for the weekend, a long time planned weekend and hugely anticipated bender, always fabulous times. I felt fine, but I had noticed a metallic taste in my mouth for a few days (I had the books so knew this could be an early pregnancy symptom). That said we were 7-8 months down the line of this trying for a baby business (closer to 12 months and a trip to the doctor for further investigations, than only just started) and I was silently aware that I may be starting to imagine pregnancy symptoms, in other words desperation was secretly, silently starting to creep in!

So minus 1 hour to the arrival of our friends and a great bender of a bank holiday weekend, I thought I’d better do a quick test “just in case” a conflicted trip to the loo – aware of the weekend I would miss out on if it was positive. I did the test, handed it to R declaring “I don’t expect it to be positive but just in case” I sat back down to my glass of wine. Less than a minute later, one sip no less, R handed it back to me with a smile, a kiss and my first “congratulations”.

I spent the rest of my bank holiday weekend with good friends and this great secret, nursing glasses of drinks and surreptitiously losing them on tables or passing them to R for consumption! That marked the start of my pregnancy which culminated in the safe arrival of H 40 weeks later.

This, the second (and last!) timeYou may not agree, but I think having a second baby is a much bigger decision than having the first. That said life as you knew it has been entirely revolutionised to the point of being unrecognisable by the arrival of the first, so adding another babe to the mix isn’t going to be the same life changing experience as it was first time round. Check back with me after October 2009 for the reality of that statement!

So round about when H was 18 months old, walking, starting to talk, growing in size, confidence and independence – my baby was more toddler than baby – sniff! The subject of baby number two started to get some airtime between me and hubby. Having booked a fab place away for New Year with friends and their daughter who was the same age as H in the Cotswolds, I was adamant that having been either pregnant or with baby under one for the last two festive seasons I would not be pregnant this New Year! No sir-ee, my long awaited festive fest would not be compromised by a blue line on a pregnancy test, absolutely not, no way José! But we agreed to give up contraception for our New Year resolution (please note no ciggies to give up this time!)

My surprise Christmas gift was a shopping trip to Milan with two great girlfriends, including my pal, S, who I was letting my hair down with most successfully with at New Year! OK, a quick intro, these two girlfriends are great girlfriends. We’ve not been friends for a huge amount of time, only since being pregnant (I met S at NCT) and from our babies being tiny (me and S met J at the post natal classes I nicknamed “Baby school” when the bubs were a few weeks old) . Anyway tickets, hotel reservations & guide books received and gold stars handed out to the husbands for initiative & co-ordination we were in early January and planning shopping, restaurants, lunch destinations and places to be seen with Martini’s with and J discovers she is pregnant. Fabulous news of course, but a weekend trip to Milan is a tough call in those first few early weeks. We had a fabulous time, we had lie ins, shopped a lot for both babes and ourselves, had lie ins, ate very expensive gelatos, had lie-ins and S and I drank martini’s – a lot! Did I mention we had lie ins?!

So we get back and the following week S appears for the weekly Wednesday morning maracas session, looking a bit, shall we say peaky, and announces that she’s just found out she’s pregnant too! Martinis – Oops! Again fabulous news of course, but you know what in sneaked a teeny bit of jealousy, my two Bessie mummy friends were going to be in newbie territory and I was going to be left out. Nasty Mr Jealousy was quickly followed by a more familiar and equally unpleasant face, Mr Desperation. It was later that week that I took the last bits and pieces out of the suitcase which had been slovenly left on the bedroom floor (I was born to have more domestic help than I have I’m sure of it!) and unpacked the tampons I had taken to Milan … I repeat unpacked the tampons I had taken to Milan … when was I due on? Was I in fact late? How had that fact managed to escape me?!

We hadn’t even been trying long enough to get to the buying test stage so had none in! So a test was purchased in the next supermarket shop, I did the test when H was in bed and like the first time handed to R for interpretation. Again, seconds later, there they were, two thick, very blue lines. We were both so shocked we found ourselves laughing and in disbelief we also did the second test which confirmed both the pregnancy and that unbeknown to us three girls on tour in Milan, Martini’s in hand, we were all pregnant at the same time again but this time for the second time!


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Getting ready for baby number two

I am 31 weeks pregnant, my due date is 5th October and according to my iPhone I have 62 days left to my due date – that sounds organised doesn’t it?  But I am so not organised.  So not ready.  Getting ready for baby number two is what I am SUPPOSED to be doing, but I actually, weirdly don’t really know where to start.  I feel so not ready that today it actually scared me! 

What little time I have when my 2 year old is sleeping is filled with project managing house renovations, trying to work out how to prepare my toddler for the imminent arrival, getting the Christmas 2009 collection for Dandelion Lounge finalised and general anxiety about “hitting reset” and rewinding to where we were two and a bit years ago being responsible for a newborn life.  Add my bestest little guy, H, into that equation and I can’t see how life will add up from October onwards.  Life at Lancaster Mews since H arrived has revolved around him and his routine, so who’s routine is going to be followed when there are two, very different routines, needs and agenda’s?  How the devil do you prepare for and do that?  Answers on a postcard/comment box please! 

So to my getting ready list … OK so I have “the stuff”  – the moses basket, the cot, car seat etc.  I have some experience – I know which way round a nappy goes, that babes cry and eventually I’ll start to understand why and to make sure the frill isn’t tucked in to the inner liner on nappies to help avoid busting nappies (one of my top tips for first time mums that one!).   But this time getting ready isn’t about stuff or just about me and Mr L its about H.  Its a teeny bit about delivery and a lot about making it right and positive for my toddler H.  The latter I really don’t know where to start with.

I know me, H and Mr L all survived labour & delivery.  I know it was a long 36 hours.  I know gas & air doesn’t start to kick in until inhale number 10 so I know to start just before the contraction begins (another top tip!)  I know I couldn’t have loved anyone more than the anaesthetist who gave me my epidural after 28hours and that in the end it was all worth it, but that is about it.  I have successfully blanked everything else from my brain.  I also know that I wrote in my diary on the day I gave birth …*Remember c-section planned next time* – I left myself a message – surely I did this for a reason?! 


First time round Mr L and I spent 2 hours a week for 9 weeks attending NCT classes, learning all about the choices and options.  As yet I have yet to pick up a pregnancy book.  I have loads and they are all still in the loft – first time around I knew exactly the size of my foetus, embryo, baby throughout my 40 weeks in relation to various, generally edible items, from coffee beans, to plums, to apples to grapefruit etc.  This time I have to check my iPhone between nursery runs, toddler classes, play dates, phone calls, work, home and the odd occasional splash of a social life!

Last time labour started and I went to hospital around 1am, we can’t just go to hospital with a toddler in the house!  I really don’t  want to be seen by, or subject my parents to, having to see me in labour.  So I am hoping that I will go into labour on either a Monday, Tuesday or Thursday morning between (9am & 1pm) while H is at nursery.  That way Mr L can simply call the Grandparents to pick him up, we simply shimmy off to the hospital when we’re ready, welcome baby number two and return home with new babe in arms to little H who’s had a fabulous day and possibly overnight sleepover with his Grandparents.  Is that a plan?  No it clearly isn’t but that is all I’ve got right now, so if you’re listening to me reviewing this post out loud baby number two – Monday, Tuesday or Thursday morning work for us, and that includes you – OK?  Please?  OMG I am begging my unborn child to do things, next I’ll be attempting bribery with colostrum, the power has already shifted, she already holds all the cards!

Whilst pregnant in 2007 I turned my office into H’s nursery which is to be “baby number two’s” nursery – choose baby name is on the to do list!  Now H is being promoted to what was, until a few weeks ago, our guest room and I am just putting the finishing touches to his big boys bedroom with his own “big bed”!  I plan to move him from nursery to bedroom and from cot to bed hopefully next week (blackout blinds & John Lewis permitting!)   Also at 27 months want to tackle potty training, that may afford me a few nappy free weeks before I return to 12 a day – but wondering if I have left it too close to a new sibling arriving?  Had planned to start on Thursday but now H has come down with a virus & it feels unfair to try to start if he’s under the weather, sigh!  Definitely one that needs more thought! 

Well you know what I feel better just having blogged this out, I’m sure all these things will happen, in their own time and if they don’t they don’t … but deep down, well not that deep at all really, I am a planner and I would them all to be done, quickly, easily and preferably by now! 

Anyway I am signing off for another restless, uncomfortable, dare I say it “bumpy” night ahead!  More to come on the ever evolving “to do”, “to get”, “to order” lists I create as I count down the … 62, nearly 61 days to baby number two … all advice, warnings, tales & recommendations received with mucho thanks!


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Its a boy! New safe arrival for Charlotte Church.

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Tips for your Christmas photos

The pumpkins have been carved and the fireworks are in the biscuit tin ready to go!  I am still to choose the Christmas photo and thought I would share some of my tips for choosing the perfect photo for to your Christmas card, photo insert or birth announcement: 


  • Choose a Christmas card design that reflects you and your family
  • If you like a few you could order more than one design or have both a card and a photo insert
  • Select a coordinating photo that’s sweet and simple—avoid busy backgrounds or too much action
  • Think about the colours on both your photo and your card design —black and white photos tend to look best with a brightly coloured design, and you will want to avoid using a sepia toned photo with a brown card
  • Keep it simple—too many frills or colors will ruin the elegance of your message!
  • Make sure you’re camera is on the highest quality setting on your digital camera, ideally try to ensure the resolution is 300 and the image size is at least 800 x 1200 pixels

Can’t wait to see your festive choices!

Claire x


P.s.  Don’t forget to place your orders by Friday 14th November 2008 on www.dandelionlounge.co.uk for delivery before December (Friday 5th December 2008 for delivery before Christmas)

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