Monday, April 26, 2010

What NOT to expect the first year

Parents may be familiar with the "manual" for babies called What to Expect the first year. It's essential reading for when you want to verify why the baby has spots on his nose, or confirm whether the color of that last bowel movement really is normal, and other such things. We have pulled out our copy with Noah but it certain hasn't had as much page-turning as it did with Blake. The second time around does kind of feel a bit like riding a bike in terms of remembering how to do it. As for riding a bike, I'm still not ready to do that!

Anyway, dear readers, what you should probably not expect from me is many posts, as in this newfound world of Matt being back to work, and Noah now being a bit more of a wakeful babe, I just won't have much time I think! I'll try of course, but don't hold your breath. (and oh, What to Expect tells us that, by the way, some babies do hold their's normal and they'll stop doing it).

A pic from today...

Sunday, April 25, 2010


I hope she won't mind me sharing, but Granny Bishy penned a beautiful poem about Noah's birth and the current affairs that followed his arrival. Like Noah was, the poem is currently untitled but I love it - it sums up so well the two weeks we've had. Granny Karla did manage to get home on Friday and we miss her although we are glad that her flight got to go and she was on it, for her sake!

Long awaited little brother
Thought he'd try to be no bother
So arrived one April morning
Whilst (caught in queue) his dad was parking.

All done and dusted in one morn
Homeward soon LB was borne
Older brother whooped with glee
As did grannies K and B.

Emails flew around the world
About the sleeping baby curled
So calmly in his little cot
Unnamed - but caring not a jot.

Meanwhile beneath the earth in Iceland
Something fiery was stirring
Soon to make the same swift exit
And leave the tourists all in transit.

So gradually LB awoke
And through a kind of 'blaa-aah' he spoke.
He queried then what was his name
(Whilst friends and relatives did the same.)

So 'Noah Thomas' was proclaimed
And suddenly up north there rained
A sort of fine but gritty dust
Shot from deep within earth's crust

It seemed a harmless kind of cloud
But more than EU laws allowed
So not a vapour trail was seen
In azure skies, silent, serene.

Though K was anxious to be gone
And talk over events with John
She made the most of her forced stay
And just resumed her holiday.

And travellers though truly stranded
Explored more fully where they'd landed
Accepting now that sometimes fate
Will force us patiently to wait.

And as towards the skies we looked
(Wondering about plane seats booked)
We heard the sound of birds and bees
And saw buds opening on trees.

And so it was that Noah's birth
Coincided with the earth
Sending us a sort of sign
To enjoy the world and take our time.

He tried to come with little fuss.
Events then forced a change in us.
We shall remember NT's birth
As a blest time of peace on earth.

Happy Birthday Will!

I got a bit muddled up because of the fact that they live in Australia and computing time zones is difficult, but Friday was Will's birthday! Most of the crowd hits 35 this year - halfway to 70 or a third of the way to 105, however you want to look at it!
I hope that Raina and Scarlet spoiled you, William, and that you had a great day.


You have probably seen the slogan WWJD? but currently in my household I am feeling like a supergoddess mother (sure it won't last!) after asking myself the question WWLD? If you're asking yourself who "L" is, I'm referring to our baby whisperer Lin Elderkin and harkening back to the time when we had to take steps to save my sanity related to Blake's sleeping patterns.

So why am I feeling so good, you may ask? Well, for the second day in a row - and the first time in the 4 months that we have been here in this house - Blake is having a daytime nap in his cot. Not in the car, and not in his stroller, but in his cot. In his sleep sack. With the curtains drawn. I feel powerful! The early morning wakings still continue, which mean that by about mid-morning he is so strung out and tired that he becomes impossible. Enter Lin's advice (good thing the pregnancy forgetfulness has cleared out) from over a year ago and presto, sleeping 2-year-old! In the last minute or so of my getting Blake into the cot, Noah - in his Moses basket - woke up, so it's not like it's all R&R here for me, but this is real progress!

In the meantime, I wonder if there is a word for that moment in time, when as a mother you're just about to finish up the chores you're doing and have just started to contemplate what you would do with a few minutes of time to yourself while the baby(ies) sleep, and they choose that very moment to wake up. There must be a word. Metimethwarted? Soclosetopeacebutnocigar? I welcome your suggestions!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Laundry super-efficiency

Readers may be familiar with my continual struggles with the laundry basket, but in fact I have a new laundry-related problem. We have now reached a stage where Blake chooses what he wants to wear, so I moved some of the contents of his drawers around so that he can get to the drawers with pants/trousers, shirts, and socks in them. The problem is that I am so on top of the laundry these days that pretty much every other day the clothes get cycled back in, and while in itself this isn't a problem, Blake's dress sense creates one. He absolutely loves loves loves two items in his wardrobe: the orange t-shirt with vehicles on the front, and a pair of brown fleece trousers. He loves them so much that he chooses them every time he sees them, and I'm sure that nursery wonder if we own any other clothes! I counted the numbers of cords, jeans and khakis that he has, and the answer is 16 pairs in his current size - and as mentioned, he wears pretty much two or three pairs of bottoms in a given week. Matt got so fed up yesterday of not being able to get in the drawer that he put about half the things away. With the recent good weather, I think it's probably time to abandon the fleece to the storage closet. I just have to remember to not let them make their way back to the drawer. And so if clothes make the man, a mother's efficiency with the laundry makes the boy's clothing choice possible. Let's see what he'll pick next as his favorites!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Back when he was BLT

I didn't post these at the time because to me it seemed like I would be giving the game away (as when I saw them I honestly felt like I was meeting the baby the images were so clear), but here are some amazing scan photos from when Noah was 36 weeks. I had to have an additional scan at King's and I didn't realize it but it was a 4D scan and the sonographer gave me all these extra shots. The one on its own shows a pretty acrobatic pose where you can see his foot right beside his head!

And Blake gets a chance too

Today was yet another glorious sunny day in London. We have been so spoiled by the weather over the past 2 weeks that it is going to be a shock when it rains again! We spent a family day out, with Blake wanting to wet Noah's head as well; he got his chance with a big glass of orange juice at the local Harvester restaurant. Matt thought this would be a good "family lunch" so we treated ourselves to the all-you-can-eat salad bar. Noah slept through lunch but then had a big feed and looked like a little drunk afterwards.

We then went for a really nice walk in Dulwich Wood (even I, with my reputation for not liking walking, enjoyed it). Blake decided midway that he just didn't want to wear his trousers (do this exhibitionist tendencies possibly get transmitted in DNA? I really have started to wonder...)

Granny Karla returned back from Granny Bishy's in the afternoon, and Matt fulfilled his fatherly duties by filling a sandbox which he constructed yesterday. Blake is going to have fun in that this summer. We enjoyed seeing planes going overhead - to me it seemed appropriate to have them stand out so much in the cloudless blue sky, and they seem triumphantly a little bit louder, but maybe that's just because we hadn't heard them for about a week!

After a week of constantly monitoring the news about the situation in the skies, we do think Granny K will fly home tomorrow morning. She will be glad to get home, no doubt. We have enjoyed having her but now the return to normal is soon upon us with Matt's return to work on Monday. I am definitely nervous about how I'll cope in the mornings and evenings and on Thursdays, but like everything, I'm sure I'll manage and that we'll do fine. We couldn't have asked for a more lovely two weeks.

Pint of OJ please...

After overindulging on the finest "house white"...

Hey, where did my trousers go?

One day someone will thank me for insisting on a self-timer family photo...

The original "Sweet Boy"

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Wetting the baby's head

As is tradition, Matt was due a trip to the pub to "wet the baby's head." His energy levels and the logistical challenges of looking after 2 children meant that he wasn't going to get to do a big night out with the boys, so he had to settle with lunch and a pint with me at the Northcote on trendy Northcote Road in Clapham Junction while Blake was at nursery. It was very Yummy Mummy-ville over there so I was glad I at least managed the foundation and eyeliner I didn't! Hopefully one of these days Matt will get to meet up with the boys but now at least Noah's head has been wet!

Monday, April 19, 2010

My relegation battle

Yesterday I tried to be a bit better about the need to wake up and attempt to get ready, as I will have to do when Matt goes back to work on Monday. It reminded me a bit of the current situation in the UK soccer Premier League, where one team out of 20 will be crowned champion, and three teams will be relegated to the lower division (to be replaced by 3 teams from the next division down who will be promoted to the Premier League). The battle for the top, and the battle to "avoid the drop" are tight at the moment, and I thought about all the activities in my morning toilette and what will likely stay and what will have to go. Here's the rundown:

  • Teeth-brushing: I do have standards, so brushing my teeth will be something I should always manage to do
  • Getting dressed: No promises about how "put together" I'll look, but some clothes are obviously a basic requirement
  • Application of stretch mark cream: I did not fare very well in the stretch mark department with Noah, so I hope to keep this 30-second activity in the morning and evening

Safety not certain

  • Shower: I have always been someone who needed to take a shower in the morning as opposed to bathing in the evening, to help get me going. Even it's a quick one, I hope to get to keep the shower.
  • Makeup: Not that I wear much makeup as it is, but I am going to aim to at least put on eyeliner, as it should help draw focus away from the dark circles under my eyes. Foundation is also currently in because my skin has gone CRAZY like a teenager's and I desperately need the cover-up.
Already relegated
  • Drying my hair: an activity that will just have be reserved for "special occasions"
Maybe this mix will allow me time to make a quick cup of that powerful energy drink known as coffee. That alone may have to be my "Breakfast of Champions."

Forces of nature

The volume of the noises emitted from an infant's bottom are truly amazing. A few days ago Noah brought the room to a standstill after expressing some digestive freedom. Bringing Blake to a standstill is no mean feat, but it was quite funny to see Blake's reaction and to then see him and Matt share a laugh over the "poo" noises. I thought to myself, "Ah, life with boys...what fun I have ahead..."

The major eruption that we are concerned with, however, is the one that has brought the UK air traffic to a halt since Thursday. Granny Karla was due to return home to North Carolina today, but the eruption of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland and the resulting volcanic ash and the potential damage to aircraft has meant that she - along with everyone else trying to leave or enter the UK and other European countries by air - is grounded until at least Friday. Every morning we check to see what the updates are but the news never seems to change. Although she has loved being here she is now ready to get home to see Grandpa John, and I think we're aware that we need to try to start some sort of routine that doesn't involve her generous help of looking after Blake from 6:00 am until we manage to wake ourselves from slumber. I was up and showered by 7:30 today which I thought was impressive, but then we decided to keep Blake home from nursery because he has the sounds of a cold and a rash on his face, which is probably either sunburn, a bad reaction to sunscreen, or a bit of both.

We can feel relieved that she is safe, does not have any medical conditions that necessitate her getting home, and that she has a place to stay that is free of charge, but she still seems ready to go home so I feel for her. I also feel for all the people who are affected - others who can't get home to their families, people who missed travelling to weddings, funerals, etc (I watched with pity the story of a couple who were stranded in Dubai so used Skype to "be with" all their wedding guests in the UK. Although they were saying that it was an amazing day, I just know that they must be heartbroken that the day they had probably spent a lot of time and money planning happened without them actually physically being there...shame).

Let's hope the forces of nature ease up and we can all start to start our "normal" life. Though with a baby, the definition of "normal" certainly is loose. A bit like a certain little person's digestive system at the moment...

Sunday, April 18, 2010

We are front page on! LT is one of the first people I know who ever maintained a website, well before the times of where blog sites made it easy, so it is always an honor to make it on to their site.

The end of the babymoon?!

In her The Contented Little Baby Book, Gina Ford describes the first week or two of a newborn's life as the "babymoon" period. The implication is that you are supposed to relax and enjoy a time which you will never get to have back again, those first few days of your little one's life while the family adjusts to the new arrival. [nb: Gina Ford is very contentious in the mothering circles because she suggests a strict regime for the baby, and never having had children herself, parents who tend to be more "baby-led" liken her to a Nazi. We have her book because we seem to have every book, and I just happened to be looking up something about how often babies should sleep in the first few days because I was starting to get worried about Noah's extended periods of being conked out.]

Anyway, we have enjoyed a blissful babymoon in the past week, but I do fear that the babymoon is over! We had our first day of Blake being home from nursery on Thursday, which I can only describe as rather full-on (and led me to question how in the world I will ever cope on Thursdays when Matt goes back to work). Following the excitement of the cousins' visit on Friday, it has been a pretty exhausting weekend as we really don't have any sort of semblance of a structure to the days and Blake quickly turned on Saturday from the "Little Kicker" to the "Little Dissenter." Absolutely everything seemed to be met with "NO! MommyDaddy DON'T DO that!" Pointed finger and all...Time Out is not quite working and I have to keep reminding myself to be calm with him so as not to reiterate this bossy attitude of which he is so fond.

He also stopped saying he was "so glad" about his brother's presence to trying to shove the pacifier into his mouth, and he has a new act where he applies part of his body to a part of Noah (e.g. Blake's head to Noah's hand) and then jerks back in pretend pain - as if Noah's ultrasoft finger somehow hurt a strand of Blake's hair. My heart does go out to Blake as I know he's only reacting in exactly the way a 25-month-old should react, but it is sure is tiring to be constantly battling to get him to cooperate. Being back at nursery tomorrow will be good for him.

We also had our "re-entry" into Clueless Parent Land, when for the first time ever in his short life Noah was crying inconsolably, from about 8:00-10:00 pm last night. I remember reading about this time as being called the "Unhappy Hour" as many infants just need to do a reboot of their systems which manifests itself as crying which is difficult to placate. I frantically logged on to Google colic, newborn tummy pain, newborn frequency of feeds, and other such things as we tried to figure out whether it was trapped wind, too much sugary foremilk, or just what we concluded it was in the end, which was general "I'm a baby and only a week old and I just need to cry for a bit." The reassuring thing is that we do remember Blake having these nights, although I think after the blissful long sleeps and general good disposition that Noah has shown so far, it was just a shock to us!

I concluded that the babymoon might just be over, but fortunately we had a decent night apart from another 5:30 am wake-up from Blake. I really don't know what the solution to that one is, so if anyone has any tips on how to make a 2-year-old sleep past the pre-dawn hours, please do share it. I guess the good news is that if we use the honeymoon to babymoon analogy, the happy times certainly didn't end for Matt and me when we got back after our wedding - they only really started, you could say, and no doubt this will be the same.

Here is Noah looking peacefully gorgeous while relaxing in Granny Karla's arms:

One man and the stumps that wouldn't beat him

Noah's cord stump fell off on Friday, which in itself isn't a newsworthy event. It was, however, a very welcome and undramatic removal in comparison to what Blake's did, which was hang on and on forever and stink so badly that Matt felt too nauseated to be near him when it was exposed. I felt very excited for Matt that he wouldn't have to go through that again.

Speaking of stumps, Matt finally achieved victory over a tree stump that didn't get removed entirely while the "official" garden clearance man was here. The idea is to put a shed in the corner of the garden which gets little to no light, but unfortunately a pretty large stump didn't get completely uprooted which would have made achieving a flat surface difficult. Matt had been out trying to dig it out since Tuesday; I personally think he liked making several trips to different hardware shops to purchase the right tools. It started off as a hopeful 2-hour project, and as each day went on and Matt spent "just another 2 hours" on it - hoping that it needed just another hour or two - he became more determined to get rid of it on his own as opposed to having to call in outside help. On Saturday Blake and I went out to check on him and the outcome still didn't look certain. He was using a digging bar and some sort of small hand saw, and although he had made progress, it still seemed as if the roots were very deep. I was pleased that Blake and I were out there when all of a sudden, Matt gave it a kick and said he thought he got it. Blake and I clapped and cheered: the massive stump was out of the ground!

Right now I have to do a lot of my blogging in my head before I actually find time to sit down and type things up, but I was pleased to find the connection between these two events, and to be able to report that Matt wouldn't let any stumps get the better of him. Fittingly, in the game of cricket, the term for the end of the day's play is "stumps." As we watched a bit of the Indian Premier League of cricket yesterday and I tried to teach Blake the hand movements associated with the scoring (4's and 6's) and wickets, I reflected on how it had been a pretty big weekend in the stumps department. I think it's fair to say that Team Lyons was victorious!

Some men get photos of them holding prize catches after fishing...not my husband!

Our "Little Kicker"

Blake had his second week of Little Kickers football yesterday. Last Saturday he wouldn't put on the "uniform" before leaving the house, and he insisted on changing out of it after the session, so I didn't get to see him in it. Yesterday he agreed to put it on before going, and when he walked into our bedroom I was so proud of him. I am a total Soccer Mom, already! Apparently only about 30 minutes of the 45-minute session are enjoyable for Matt and Blake, because the time concludes with some sort of drill where each child goes up to try for goals, which means that the others just have to sit and watch and clap as it goes through the whole 12-child line-up. Blake evidently has trouble with this concept of waiting patiently and watching all the other kids, so the drill turns into a wrestling match with Matt as Matt attempts to restrain Blake from running all over the place. I hope to go next week and see what it's like!

Here is the Little Kicker contemplating who he would play for: England or the USA...

Lyons cousins meet

On Friday Tom and Lykke came to visit so all the Lyons cousins got to meet. Blake had a blast playing with Emma who is 5 months his senior, and it was interesting to see how big 5-month-old Maya is in comparison to Noah. Arranging a picture with them all looking, with their eyes open, was a little complicated, but we kind of managed. It was great to have the Lyons pride all together.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Sleeping bunny

One of the songs sung at all the library rhyme times in the UK is called "Sleeping Bunnies" and it starts off in a lullaby fashion with the lines
See the little bunnies sleeping til it's nearly noon
Shall we wake them, with a merry tune?
Oh so still, are they ill?
Wake up soon...

And then, after a moment or two, all the toddlers stand up and start jumping around and it gets a bit frantic with the chorus, Hop little bunnies, hop, hop, hop, hop little bunnies, hop, hop, hop...

I'm thinking about this now because we are in the midst of a sleep marathon with Noah - Blake never slept very much as we remember so this is incredibly exciting that we might have a sleeper on our hands. I had better not write too much as no doubt I will jinx it, but it has been a very calm week since he arrived. Hard to believe that one week ago he had just come and we were thinking about coming home...!

Bill Cosby recounts the story of Noah

A pretty amusing take on the story of Noah, courtesy of my Uncle Jim:

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Brother has a name!

We have decided on a name: Noah Thomas Lyons. Noah for no particular reason apart from liking the sound of it, and Thomas for Matt's brother, and also liking the sound of it!

Hopefully it suits him...

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Shot of the day

As they'll probably get called a lot, "my boys"...

Blake meeting his brother

RIP, Colin the fish

Chris and Anna's fighting fish Colin has passed away. He was a great fish and we enjoyed having him as a houseguest back in June last year. He was quiet, polite and just went about his business. May you be happy in the big fish tank in the sky.

Toughen up, titties!

Someone had told me that the thought of having a toddler and a baby was actually worse than the reality of it, and I guess so far that is proving true for us. I am still feeling quite excited at the manner of Brother's birth and the fact that he and I both came through it well. Being a second-time parent is proving easier in certain departments, that's for sure. So many of those anxieties that we had with Blake are just gone, in that we know that Brother will eventually stop crying, breastfeeding is less daunting, and generally it just seems like whatever comes up, we can handle. Here are just a few observations from the last 5 days:

- Having a newborn is definitely easier when you didn't lose half your body's blood. I feel tired because of broken nighttime sleep and because Brother has his days and his nights a bit mixed up, but generally I feel like a million dollars compared to after Blake's birth.

- Two things I did last Thursday were to eat nearly a whole fresh pineapple and to eat the leftovers of a curry that earlier in the week I had thought too spicy. Both these things are supposed to encourage the onset of labour, so I can perhaps vouch for them.

- Life's timing is funny. Our next-door neighbors started a loft conversion on Monday, so the past two days, ideally a time of calm and serenity while the baby sleeps a lot, have been filled with the cacophony of steel girders being drilled into the wall between our houses, and a crane in the front moving the beams up and over the house. But, what can you do? It helps ease my guilt (not that I have much this time around) about the crying baby, and I hope that this initial part is the loudest and that things will quieten down soon enough.

- A newborn is precious. Brother's cries so far sound like a couple of things: a baby fox and a guinea pig (I didn't think they made noises but Matt claims they do). It's amazing to get reacquainted with all the lovely newborn attributes - the jerky arm movements when they sleep, the way you can see their eyes rolling back in their heads behind their eyelids, the yawning and stretching, the murky eyes that are still just adjusting to the world, the frowning in their sleep, the satisfaction after a feed, the skinny little legs - so hard to believe they eventually carry the efforts of an energetic toddler...

- As for big bro, Blake is really handling things well, I think. He has tried to help give Brother his dummy and generally loves to pat him on his head. Matt said Blake was a little reluctant to go to nursery this morning which makes me sad, but he brought home a lovely bouquet of flowers to me yesterday from the nursery, which was really sweet. He loves to say "I like my brother, MommyDaddy", and it seems so strange to me to look at Blake and think that just over a week ago, he was still my "little baby". All of a sudden he's a grown-up little boy. Sigh...

- I feel I've given Matt a gift in the form of a normal paternity leave. There will be an election in the UK on May 6th, and one of the things that Labour is proposing is to extend paternity leave from 2 to 4 weeks. I know it must seem like such a short amount of time for the father to be off, but I feel at least lucky that we get to have a relatively normal period of time together and that he can worry less about us and try to take advantage of being at home.

- Breastfeeding hurts! Even though I'm pretty sure we're doing it right and I feel about 200% more confident this time around. Blake was a very strong sucker but Brother could probably patent his motion to help the vacuum companies develop a super-duper power hoover. Thank god for Lansinoh, but Brother, relax! And titties, toughen up! Please!

- I still haven't quite learned to rest while the baby is resting. And so I'll just wrap this up as Brother stirs from a nap.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Welcome to the world, Brother Lyons!

Friday, April 9th was a beautiful day in London. The sun was shining, spring flowers were out, and little did I know but within a few hours of waking, we would be proud parents of a gorgeous baby boy, a brother for Blake.

A lot is written about the mental preparedness of an expectant mother, and one of the things that I had been conscious about during my pregnancy was trying to ensure that I was not carrying any anxiety into this labour following all the hardship and trauma of Blake's birth. Matt and I had done our hypnobirthing course a couple of weeks ago to try to help me be relaxed, but since the course we had not done as much practice breathing as we should have, preferring instead to just collapse into sleep at the end of a long day.

The two weeks since I finished work had not exactly been the most relaxing, namely due to some work we were having done to our garden/yard to get it all cleared out of dead trees, weeds, have a small pond filled and some fences replaced and generally try to get it to a point where we could start to even imagine it with grass, plants, a new shed, and hosting barbecues. Work on this began two weeks ago and was expected to take 5 days, but with some typical workman delays and the long Easter weekend, my due date arrived and things were not finished off. I said to the guy on Thursday morning that I really needed him to just wrap things up so that I could have my baby - and fortunately he obliged.

I had also been experiencing some problems with hearing out of my right ear due to a build-up of wax (gross, I know), but I was due on Thursday to go see the nurse to get it syringed and cleared out. On Thursday at about 9:30 am they phoned to say that the nurse was out sick so they would have to cancel the appointment, and couldn't tell me when it could be rescheduled for. I think the person I was speaking to on the phone must have been slightly surprised at my reaction, which was to wail, "Noooooo! You can't cancel on me!" I then explained that I was 40 weeks pregnant and being unable to hear meant that I was not in the right frame of mind - or hearing - to have a baby, and that I really needed this done. She recommended a nearby walk-in clininc who she thought could see me, so Mom and Blake and I headed over. Again, luck was with me and someone was able to do the syringing, and I could hear again! That night I finally went to bed feeling like I was ready, although I had seen the midwife on Wednesday and she thought after feeling my tummy that it was still about a week away. She let me know that they would only let me go 10 days over my due date and we discussed the option of a sweep at the hospital for some time this week to try to get things started if nothing had happened naturally. As it was, we needn't have considered it...

On Friday, Blake was back to his early bird ways and was up at 5:45. Mom got up and played with him and Matt headed off to work pretty early, and I went back to sleep until about 7:30. I woke up and thought to myself that with the radiant sunshine, it would be a nice day to have a baby! But I still didn't think it would be that day really.

Around 7:45 the postman rang with a special delivery letter - it was from work and a few things went through my mind, first that it was maybe a gift voucher or something (although I had already received a lovely one already so I didn't think it was that), and secondly that I really hoped it was not a letter telling me I had lost my job! Turns out it was a note from our CEO congratulating me on 10 years of service; I will hit my anniversary in May. I had a quick bite of breakfast but by about 8:15 had actually started to feel a bit odd, having to go to the bathroom a few times more than normal. Mom headed out with Blake to take him to nursery and I phoned Matt at 8:35 to say that I wasn't sure but that I thought things might have started. We agreed I would phone him an hour later with a status update. I did a few things on the computer: with 5 weeks left in the UK football season, I am leading in my work's fantasy league, so I could not neglect to check my team for the weekend! I also quickly checked my email - in a reply to Raina I wrapped up with these lines:
"...despite the 40 weeks passing in a very different way to the way they did with Blake, the feelings right at the last seem pretty familiar - excitement at the thought of bringing a new life into the world, anticipation at seeing what he/she looks like, some trepidation at how life is going to change, curiosity at when and how it is going to get started, but overall just this feeling of "Oh wow, what an amazing thing to be happening..." I decided not to write that I thought I was in early labour, but I could tell by the tightenings in my stomach that I was. That was 9:03 am.
One of the reasons I fell for Matt is that he's a very wise man, and he proved this when he phoned back at about 9:05 (30 minutes ahead of the hour being up!) to say that he was coming home, and that if nothing happened then he could do some work. I then went upstairs and had a bath and felt that relaxed me a little bit. I think I was having contractions about 5-8 minutes apart at this stage, and after about half an hour in the bath I decided to get out and get dressed. When it came to that time, however, I actually decided I needed to just try to lie down on the bed and deal with the contractions which were now more frequent and stronger. I got a cold washcloth for my face and lay down, and all the while I tried to remember to breathe. At about 10:10 I started to wonder where Matt was and thought about calling him, but fortunately he arrived shortly after. He came into the bedroom and I told him I thought he should maybe time between the contractions, and the first ones he timed at 4 minutes apart. He phoned the hospital and after the question to which he replied "second" (presumably, what number baby is this?) they said to come in. In the meantime I watched the next contraction clock up on his phone timer as less than a minute after the previous one, which kind of shocked me. I couldn't find any shoes to put on so just put on my slippers, and we got in the car and headed off following good luck wishes from Mom, who had been out in the back cleaning one of the old fence panels.

We got pretty lucky all things considered on the traffic front, as it was now about 11:00 on a Friday and for the most part we got to the hospital in about the time it usually takes to get there. It could have been better, but it could have been worse. Unfortunately the Gods of the Hospital Car Park were not with us, though, as there was a queue to get into the parking lot. Matt asked me if I wanted him to drop me off or go with him to park the car, and I said that I thought I had better go in. I must have looked quite a sight in my sweatpants and slippers, moving very slowly through the entrance holding just my hospital notes and wearing a pretty pained expression on my sweaty face. I remember noticing as I walked through the main entrance that the time was about 11:10. I needed to go to the 4th floor and saw some people getting in an elevator so asked them to hold it. Once at the Labour Ward I gave my name and after a short wait - thank goodness - I was shown to room 1, which had just been cleaned. I know because the floor was still wet from having just been mopped. Although there was a bed in the room, I immediately went and leaned on an armchair by the window, on my knees, thinking that would be a comfortable position. By now nothing was comfortable, though, and after only a few minutes I started to call out for help because I was having a very strong urge to push. At this point nobody was in the room with me - I am sure they just thought they had a lot more time to do their normal check-in procedure - and I wasn't really capable of standing up to try to ring a bell or get somebody. I kind of went "out of body" at this point and thought to myself that I was going to just have the baby there on my own. I considered for a minute whether I thought there was any way I could hold off until Matt got there but I just don't think it was possible. A midwife then came in and asked me if anyone had taken my blood pressure, and I replied that no, nobody had, but that I thought I needed to push. This seemed to take her by surprise, but within a minute or so there were about 4 people there, and someone helped put a mat underneath me. Just after the mat was down I felt I had to push and whoosh, my water broke. They helped me get my sweatpants off and then I just had to push again. The midwife was telling me to push from my bottom which I did - I felt at the time that I did a really good job with that push - and then I heard her say that the baby's head was out. Wow, I thought, I did it. I could feel that I needed to push again to get the body out but I asked first, "Should I push?" and she said yes, and then it was done. I looked behind me and there on the mat was a perfect little, slightly grey, baby, with a calm, perfect face; she announced it was a boy. He was quiet for a while so I asked if he was ok and she said he was fine, and then I just kneeled there feeling the most unbelievable feelings that it had been so quick and that I had made it through. I think I probably thought more than once, Did that just happen? A few minutes later, I looked up to see Matt coming through the door, and I heard them take him to the baby who was wrapped in a towel. Matt asked "Are you a boy or a girl?" and that made me smile. I got to feed the baby pretty quickly after, and then I did have to have a few stitches which was by far the most difficult part of the whole experience. The baby weighed in at 3.79 kg, which we worked out was 8lbs, 6 oz, and he was very very cute. It was hard not to make comparisons to Blake; I felt they looked similar but that this baby's cheeks looked chubbier. On the whole I was feeling on the most incredible high and just kept expressing disbelief at how quick it had been. I saw later on my notes that my time admitted was 11:20 and time delivered, 11:30.

By 3:00 I was tired but just couldn't keep my eyes closed, and I was sore and slightly weak but also feeling extremely strong and so energized. By then they had let us know that we would be able to leave on a 6-hour transfer, so we started to get excited about the thought of going home [nb: for US readers, this may seem like a very short stay in the hospital, but they say as long as the delivery was normal and that mother and baby are both seeming ok, you can go after 6 hours. You are then seen again at either home or the hospital soon after - in our case a "community midwife" came on Saturday about 1:00 to check the baby and just see how we're doing, and we'll go tomorrow to the hospital to have the baby get a few checks. On Wednesday the midwife will come again to the house to give a shot to the baby, and then we'll probably get one other visit from a health visitor in a week or so. So, yes, it is quick, and doesn't always happen that way, but it sure was nice to spend that first night at home this time around, especially with Blake at home]. At 7:30 pm we got to go, and it was wonderful to think that Blake would not have really had to worry about where we were or miss us for his bedtime.

As for the big brother, when we got home he was very excited to see us and was about to eat some fish fingers and chips prepared by his grannies - Matt's Mum had arrived at about 3:00. Matt then came in with the baby and Blake got really excited, jumping around and saying "That's my brother, that's my brother!" He was very sweet. We also got Blake a toy tool kit from the baby which Blake really liked, so that part all went very well. While we finalize a name, the baby is being called "Brother" (and is sometimes called "Maya", Blake's 5-month-old cousin). The more time goes on, Brother Lyons sounds quite nice, actually! I think we'll reach a conclusion on the name pretty soon, though.

And then, just like that, it was time to go to bed, the bed I had just woken up in a mere 16 hours before as a 40-week pregnant woman. I was so wired that I was wide awake til finally drifting off at about 3:00 am, even though the baby was doing exactly what he was supposed to be doing and had just been sleeping pretty much since being born.

And so, April 9th, 2010 was a truly glorious day, the date of an amazing event, and mercifully "Brother's" birth was a lot easier on us all than Blake's was. It certainly was quicker, no doubt about that.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Happy Birthday, William!

Happy 1st birthday on Wednesday to our godson, William Cook! Hope you have a fabulous day- it is hard to believe it was a whole year ago that you arrived...

Self awareness, and audio deficiency

Today will not go down as a highlight in the days of my pre-BLT maternity leave. Several reasons....for the past couple of months, I have been primarily trying to lie on my left side in bed, and unfortunately coincidentally my right ear has become completely blocked with wax. This has come in handy at times, such as early morning when I am still on my left side, and unable to hear out of my right ear, thus leaving Matt to respond to the "Daddy" calls from Blake's room. Usually, hearing is restored within an hour or so of waking, but for some reason today that just didn't happen and I spent the whole day unable to hear out of my right ear. I can conclusively say that this is an EXTREMELY annoying state to be in, and I felt like a senior citizen with very bad balance all day and was thus in a very bad mood. I am seeing a nurse on Thursday to get it irrigated so really hope that a) I make it til the appointment at 3:00 pm on Thursday, and that b) it works and I can hear again.
Speaking of irrigation and other landscaping issues, the saga of our yard clearance continues and I am led (unusually for me, I'll admit) to evoke famous poetry in the form of Robert Frost's "Mending Wall," best known for its line: "Good fences make good neighbors." A week ago a guy started clearing out all the trees and junk out of our little garden, filled the scummy pond, and put up fences, but today there was some debate about how straight the fence should be. I fully acknowledge that I have high standards, so I was a bit torn about knowing what to do when that high standard - or even a basic straight line - was not met. Evidently our neighbors to the left also have exacting standards so we've been in touch with them about ensuring they're happy with the end result of the fence (as of yesterday, they were not).
At any rate, in previous management-type training courses I've been on, one of the things I acknowledge about myself that I aim for is Conflict Avoidance and the Restoration of Harmony, and in terms of working with builders, this is not ideal. Having to go outside to ask a nice guy who's just spent an hour putting up a fence - unevenly - why it isn't even stresses me out. So between my blocked ear and having to try to reason with about 5 differing levels of a brand-new fence, I just did not have a very fun day.
Although tomorrow I will wake up on the left side of the bed, and likely on my left side, I do hope that perhaps some balance, at least in my inner ear and disposition, can be restored.

Easter fun

We had a nice Easter weekend, despite not doing very much. Matt had a 4-day weekend which is a treat in the UK's public holiday calendar. Although, not having anything from New Year's til Easter, and nothing between the end of August and Christmas, is tough!
Anyway, the weather wasn't very nice so we didn't do much outdoors, although we did have some fun opening lots of Easter chocolate and doing some egg decorating. Blake was very good at identifying all the colors of eggs we dyed and proceeded to stain his right hand green when he dunked it into the cup of green dye while I was intent on getting some photos. Fortunately it came off in the bath! Granny Karla loved dressing Blake in a shirt she bought which reminded her of Grandpa John - and Blake identified it as such! He does look pretty handsome if you ask me!

Meeting Joseph Pendse!

Yesterday we left Granny Karla with Blake, and Matt and I headed up to Kilburn to meet Chris and Anna's new son Joseph. He was on perfect form (he pretty much slept for our entire visit!) and we only heard him cry once! It was strange to be reminded of how tiny newborns are, although I'm pretty sure at the rate BLT is growing I am not destined to birth a small baby. Anyway, Joseph is really gorgeous and thus far has fallen on the Anna side of the family tree in the eyebrow department, with thin blond brows! Anna and Chris are doing impressively well (I had to remark in the car ride home that I don't remember feeling like I was coping that well after 10 days!) and seem to be enjoying the adventure of life with a newborn.

The gorgeous family...

Matt with Joseph, after a tricky "hand-off" from Meg which proved we are a bit rusty with handling new babies and led to a joke about Blake being brought up in a convent....