Archive for January, 2009


I’m having a break for the next few days so there will be a grumble and grouch free time. Good news for all!

Read Full Post »





Hot off the press, Amy has chicken pox. Essentially this is good news, until I think more upon it. Amy cannot go to nursery, her Mummy cannot go to work; it is virtually guaranteed that the boys will catch it from their sister, but not necessarily at the same time since the incubation period is anything from 11 – 20 days, the average being 14,  so the having unwell kiddies around could go on for a long, long time!

Tomorrow is Izzy’s 2nd birthday party, Izzy and Jack haven’t had varicella so tomorrow is now a ‘Chicken Pox Party’. Unfortunately Evie’s Mummy doesn’t know if she has had this childhood illness so they will not be attending the party as it wouldn’t be good news for DIL to develop CP whilst trying to care for a little baby and, if she hasn’t had the pox, Evie will not be receiving a passive immunity via breastfeeding, so she could develop it as well.

Back to little Izzy’s birthday. I had a text from her Mummy last night “This time last celebrity big brother I was pushing a little Izzy out! Ah, that makes me feel extremely emotional! x”. Reading the text bought back the memories of her homebirth and how perfect, and quick, it was. The other day I was chatting to Jack about when his sister was born and he remembers when he woke up in the morning and went into his Mummy and Daddy’s bedroom and found a ‘tiny’ Izzy snuggled in their bed, it is obviously a happy memory for him. He has never really displayed any jealousy or resentment toward his sister, she’s just his little sister. A couple of weeks ago I asked Amy’s Mummy if Amy had ever questioned why there is only one of her but two of the boys, I wondered if she might feel ‘lonely’. Her Mum reported that Amy had never shown any appreciation of the boys being twins, or expressed any feeling of being deprived by not having a sibling of her own age. This week though she said to her Mummy that she wished she was like all her friends and only had one baby brother, so she obviously recognises that her brothers are unusual. Things should get easier for her though as they become less demanding.

Read Full Post »

Black cloud evening

Thursday evenings are always a low time for me, my energy levels are at rock bottom having had the boys for 2 days. Tonight has been more down than usual, the boys have been great today, energetic but happy whereas yesterday Jamie was the most wingey toddler imaginable and I find that really, really tiring. The boys tussled constantly, Jamie wanted everything that Louis was playing with and when he couldn’t have it he would cry,  hit his brother and then start attention seeking by playing with the dishwasher controls or banging drawers. I’m not looking forward to work tomorrow, clinic in the morning and I’m being shadowed by a new midwife who is orientating to the community.  I also have an extremely difficult woman on my caseload at the moment who is, by her behaviour, causing me major headaches and generating huge amounts of paperwork, numerous phone calls and time consuming meetings trying to liaise with all the different agencies involved.

I’m sitting here writing this experiencing a succession of tropical moments and sweating like the proverbial pig, I’m not sure if this is a cause or effect of my low mood but it sure ain’t helping me to generate a positive one. Of course the constant torrent of reporting about the recession isn’t exactly a mood enhancer, I worry about our future but I worry even more about what the next couple of years, or more, will hold for our children. The weather is depressing, my engine management light is glowing away again, I’ve got an ingrowing toenail and I’m feeling really, really sorry for myself!

I shall add that to the ever growing list of manifestations of the menopause, self-pity.

Read Full Post »

Brave New World?


I’ve been exploring. I have lots of trouble manoeuvring, I’m constantly bumping into objects, flying over the sea is a bit of a worry and I’ve found a couple of places where there are some very strange activities but it’s keeping me amused. Where have I been? Second Life.

A midwife educator in New Zealand, Sarah Stewart, has been talking about Midwives and Second Life for some time now but her latest entry had me intrigued enough to join second life and find out about the midwifery simulations and learning opportunities. So far I have found the postpartum haemorrhage scenario, unfortunately it was locked, but I shall try and find out how to access it and also see what else is on offer.

A fun part of my new place is creating my Avatar. Being an honest sort I have tried to be truthful about my appearance, as a result I am the only ‘resident’ who is dumpy, has no clothes sense and is constantly having a bad hair day but at least I am unique! You can alter your appearance but I have found that to change from a skirt to trousers you have to take your clothes off.  The first time I did this I just abandoned the skirt, under a bridge, about 15 minutes later it was recovered by some kind character and put somewhere safe, I have yet to find it again. As I am extremely modest about public appearances wearing anything less than 2 layers of clothing I have to find somewhere secluded to disrobe, a lift at the university made a good transformation hiding place yesterday, I do have to say that I was somewhat concerned that someone would ‘fly’, or teleport in, but no one interrupted my modifications.

Teleporting off now. If I do find any interesting places I shall update.

Read Full Post »

Little charmer

Shhh, I have two little people asleep upstairs, Jack and Amy are having a ‘sleep-over’. There is no reason for this, Amy asked if she could stay and so I just asked Jack if he wanted to stay as well. It’s lovely seeing them together as they are so close, really more like brother and sister than cousins. When they stay they usually sleep in the ‘babies’ room where there is a single bed and a spare mattress but at the moment I have put the boys cot in there, so it is rather cramped, so they are sleeping in a different room which has a double bed.

They both went to bed without any problem but a while later I thought I heard someone calling me so I went in to them. They were both still awake but told me that they were fine, except they didn’t like the noise of the wind. I snuggled into the bed with them and told them how much I liked lying in bed and listening to the wind blowing. I then confided that I also like imagining that I am lying on a beach and can hear the waves breaking on the sand. Jack nodded and said ‘ You could be the lifeguard’. Stroking his head I responded that I didn’t think that I could ‘as the lifeguards are slim and beautiful. Nanny is not slim, or beautiful, she is Nanny’. Jack responded very seriously,’ Yes, you are Nanny, but you are beautiful’. This, of course, elicited much kissing and cuddling from Nanny (always a sucker for a compliment).

A while ago I peeped in to check on them, the bed looked empty. On closer inspection there were two little mounds, halfway down the bed and entirely under the duvet, the giveaway was the stereo snoring!

Read Full Post »

The Curious Incident

I’ve been fighting my own little battle with Norton 2009 for a few days now and I have learned a valuable lesson, do not custom uninstall, just really go for it and wipe every last, teeny, tiny little shred of any previous installation before loading the latest copy. First time round I went for the ‘easy’ option and so have spent the last 3 days urging my computer to load anything, anything at all in less than 15 minutes. This evening I gave up defragmenting, running live-update and waiting for the Symantec tech support page to respond, I scrubbed 2009 from my computer and then re-loaded it and, how curious, it now runs perfectly and lives up to its boast of protecting my computer ‘without slowing you down’.

Having time on my hands has meant that I have been devouring books that have been patiently waiting for me, one of them being ‘The Curious Incident of the dog in the night-time’ by Mark Haddon. What can I say that hasn’t already been said? I was hooked by page 2, my brain was buzzing by page 14 and I decided that Mark Haddon was a genius by page 127. How did he write it? It may be a novel, but the central character is so well constructed that he lives, and I began to see the world through his eyes and I really wanted to meet him. What’s so different about that, after all that’s what an author should accomplish, create a believable cast. Well, the central character in this book has Asperger’s Syndrome and Mark Haddon has written this book as if it is narrated by a teenager with this disorder, and has made you believe in him. Absolutely excellent.

Read Full Post »


“Hi just found your blog on google as I am doing a research project on free birthing and if the NHS should offer help to these people to make it safer, (paedeatric first aid and signs of when its going wrong etc). I was wondering if you knew what the NHS’ stance on this practice is (do they offer any help? etc), as I am finding it dificult to find information on this subject in England, it all seems to be Laura Shanley in America.
I am doing an access course and have aplied to uni’s, so will hopefully start my training as a midwife this sept. yay! Thank you Emily”

I received this e-mail today and I really am not sure of the answer. I have replied to Emily, pointing out that if people wish to be instructed on resuscitation then local Red Cross associations run courses for the public. I notice that Emily has focused on ‘paedeatric‘ [sic] first aid, I should have pointed out that adult first aid should definitely not be ignored (I have assumed that Emily means resuscitation when she says first aid). What I should have said was ‘ Would offering help, in the form of instruction, really make freebirthing/unassisted childbirth safer? I would imagine that any woman seriously considering freebirthing would have read and watched everything possible about labour and birth, what can go wrong, and especially what to do if things do go wrong.’

Emily asks what the NHS’ stance is on unassisted birth? Not too easy to answer that one,  the NMC have issued a guidance for midwives in which we are told we ‘should support the woman and her family’! RCOG are equally non-specific in their 1st statement  saying that they ‘are aware of it………obstetricians and midwives are concerned with the safety of both patients, mother and child…….little research exists regarding its safety and success’ but then are perhaps coming off the fence more in their 2nd statement by saying they ‘are concerned about the practice.’ With regard to the NHS, well neither NHS Choices or Direct give any web space to freebirthing that I could find. Logically though why would the NHS expend any energy on the subject?  Those who wish to freebirth want to avoid any input from those employed by the NHS, so surely they would not desire any ‘medicalised’ input?

I am torn as to whether the NHS should give advice to those intending to freebirth. It would perhaps make people more aware of when, and how to summon help but it may also encourage people to go ahead with it and, if they do go ahead, and something does go wrong, it may be me who has to respond to their summons. So…….no, I don’t think that the NHS should publish a manual. 

Read Full Post »

What was that?

I have just been knocked for six by an aggressive, but thankfully, short-lived stomach upset. It may have been a modified norovirus, modified in that there was no vomiting,  but there was plenty of nausea, and a surplus of all the other symptoms! Weird though as initially I believed I was developing a cold as I had a sore throat and runny nose so I put the stomach upset down to a curry the previous night. The same thing, minus he cold symptoms had happened the last time we had a curry so I was not concerned, for a while. Of course it had to be a day when I had the boys but since they are constantly exchanging colds with each other I didn’t give it a second thought, until I reached the point where I was spending more time in the loo than I was with them and my stomach was cramping so much that all I wanted to do was curl up with a hot water bottle. I gave in and sent out a distress call to Hubby who arrived home and took over from a nanny who was hardly able to communicate her gratitude. I spent the rest of yesterday, and this morning, cuddling my tummy and not risking ingesting anything more than water. My abstemious ways seem to have paid dividends (touch wood). Apart from a blinding headache, probably triggered by caffine withdrawal and low-sugar levels I am so much better. No rushing to the loo, sore tummy but not cramping and, most  oddly, the sniffles have gone. Was it a norovirus or was it the curry? Please, please let it be the former.

Read Full Post »

Fire and Ice


I just love this weather. Seriously, these sub-zero temperatures are the best thing ever. You doubt my veracity? Well, take it from this woman busy trudging her way through the menopause, having a chill in the air is the most amazing gift. Hot flush? No problem, just step outside for a couple of minutes and and you feel re-energised, and cool. Night sweats causing massive disruption? Two hours before retiring for the night open the bedroom windows, ensuring that the bed-coverings are turned right back, the cold sheets mean that if you come over all fiery before you get to sleep a slight movement to the left or right easily finds a cold area to cool you off. The cold bedroom means that if you wake to find that your whole body is rapidly gaining that toasted alive feeling and that the sweating is starting, throwing back the bedclothes rapidly eases the discomfort,  helping you to fall back to sleep. I’ve also found that if I turn the heating thermostat down as I go to open the windows the effect is better. Okay, so Hubby doesn’t share my joy at the ability to turn our bedroom into an impromptu fridge, he has even insisted that the windows are closed when we go to bed, philistine!

Unfortunately though my fight fire with ice solution is not such an easy option when it’s snowing. Stepping outside results in the snow not solely cooling me down but also making me decidedly damp, no where near so pleasurable. Leaving the bedroom windows open inevitably leads to mini, melting snowdrifts on the window sill and soaking wet curtains, something best avoided really.

So Mr Weather, please desist with the snow now as otherwise my only option will be to move into the wendy house at bedtime and use an umbrella when ‘popping’ outside for a minute.

Read Full Post »


A month ago I received an E-Mail from a reader. Life has been quite busy so I haven’t got round to answering, apologies to the author. One of the reasons I have taken so long to reply is that I wanted to use the E-Mail as the basis for a blog entry as there are so many interesting points contained in it. Here I go then –

Copy of the E-Mail

Hi there,
 I have just read your article which I found very interesting. I am currently pregnant and had twins 8 years ago, and am trying to find information on home birth after having a pph with the twins. I certainly wouldn’t go for the option of freebirthing but can you suggest a way that I can take control of my situation and find out what my actual risk is of having a pph again are.
I desperately feel like the area I am in is lacking in caring midwives, the first one I had was very abrupt with me and frightened me a lot, as when I asked at what stage would be best to discuss my birth options she asked me why and I explained that I hadn’t made up my mind but if at all possible wanted to go for a home birth, to which she replied oh they won’t let you do that as you will hemorrhage again. This comment coming without knowing any of my history or what happened in my twin birth as I was in a different county when they were born. I have since then changed midwives and have sent of for my old notes but I am still having major problems with disorganized staff as the midwife I have been seeing has my old notes to read but yet the midwife I can’t stand turned up for my appointment last week, and lol she didn’t even bring her stuff to monitor baby or me (blood pressure heart rate monitor etc).
The main problem I have is that I don’t believe that my twin birth would have ended up the way it did had they not looked at me as being a young mum that didn’t have a clue and bullied me into lying back when all I wanted to do was sit up as I wasn’t having proper contractions and was in constant pain (which they also didn’t believe until it came to feeling them to tell me to push as I had given in and let them give me an epidural)  but could deal with that fine as long as I stayed upright . My instincts are telling me that I can give birth this time really well as long as I stay in a clam and relaxed environment, which would mean staying at home as every time I even go to the hospital just for a general appointment I tense up and start feeling unwell and just wana get out of there asap. Which I don’t think is going to be particularly good for going into hospital to give birth, I also really wanted the option to have my children with me if I feel good enough as they are very interested in childbirth and have watches a lot of births on TV with me over the years (graphic and not so and they still end up jumping up and down for joy when the baby arrives either way, lol).
I really didn’t think that almost 10 years on that I would feel so out of my depth, last time right up until the birth itself I felt so empowered as had done so much research and had spoken to so many midwives and doctors that I really felt I could give birth in a really good way. I have also wondered if my risk is so high for having a pph again why hasn’t someone spoken to me about having elective c section as I have known a couple of women who lost around the same amount of blood as myself and they were offered it to avoid the same trauma happening again as were equally effected as myself by the fact they were told they almost died.
Sorry for such a long email, should you want to ask me anything please feel free to contact me.
I look forward to your reply

As I observed before, lots of points here. The first question I ask myself is ‘ where does Sarah live’? I’m not talking the UK here as I feel confident about my ability to give advise about how to request a homebirth and what the criteria is in the UK for a homebirth request which won’t freak out the midwives. Anywhere else in the world and I have no idea!

PPH. Post-partum haemorrhage. Bleeding in excess of 500mls following birth. A major obstetric emergency. There are many risk factors and causes.

Twins. For me this is a major fact which makes me wonder the relevance of the previous history with regard to this pregnancy and any risk assessment. A twin pregnancy is a high-risk pregnancy and birth, with one of the associated risk factors being PPH. It is obvious really that if a uterus has been over-stretched during pregnancy it is more likely that it will fail to contract down quickly and efficiently following the birth, so making a haemorrhage far more likely. Also, there will be either 2 placental sites or 1 large one so the area where bleeding is likely is larger. As a precaution against haemorrhage the synthetic hormone syntocinon is routinely infused following the birth of twins to ensure that the uterus contacts well.

8 years ago. When I was a student I was told that if it were more than 5 years since the last pregnancy then it should be viewed as if it were the woman’s first. If this ‘rule’ is used in this case then this provides another reason why the previous history should be ignored.

Lack of caring midwives. Difficult one! All  can suggest is that Sarah discusses this with the manager responsible for community midwives. It may be that there is a clash of personalities, if this is the case then another midwife should be offered.

They won’t let you. The truth is that they can’t stop you. They can make it extremely difficult for you to have a homebirth but if you are persistent, involve the manager, the head of midwifery services and a supervisor of midwives a plan will be implemented. HOWEVER, there are constraints on the system and there can be uncontrollable circumstances which would mean that you getting your homebirth deprives other women of safe care. In many areas there are only 2 midwives on-call for homebirths so if they are already at another homebirth there would be no midwives available to come to you. Many units use the on-call midwives to cover busy times, low-staffing levels in the obstetric unit. If you demanded that they attend you at home the unit would be dramatically understaffed, the women there would receive limited care and the unit may have to turn away women. This is the way life in the maternity services goes, it does need a radical re-think, especially in light of the governments desire to increase the homebirth rate, but at the present time resources are seriously limited and so women arranging a homebirth should be aware of this and accept that their choice can/should not be guaranteed.

Elective caesarian section. Wow, talk about a sledge-hammer to crack a nut! CS it’s self carries a four-fold increase for the risk of PPH. I’m reluctant to comment on this as there may be medical problems, history which make birth by elective caesarian a more ‘manageable’ option.

So what would I say to Sarah? Chase up your old notes. Once you have them make an appointment to see the midwifery manager, take your partner or a friend with you. Go through your notes with the manager and ask him/her what the risk-factors are. If s/he says that you are at increased risk of PPH you should be under consultant care for the birth, request that you see the consultant and talk it through with him/her. If you are still unhappy then request a meeting with a supervisor of midwives, they are there for you. If the advise is still that you are high-risk but you are determined to go ahead then there are 2 options; tell the manager that you intend to have a homebirth anyway or employ an Independent Midwife

I cannot say whether you are low-risk, therefore I should not, and will not say whether you should push for a homebirth but I will say to speak personally to as many well-informed professionals as possible and to be guided by them.

I will say please do not freebirth, especially not with your children present. If you did haemorrhage again no amount of watching videos or discovery health would have prepared them for the reality of a collapsed Mother and litres of blood.

Reading this through I don’t think that I have been of much help but for me to judge risk-factors without reading your medical and obstetric history would be foolhardy.

Read Full Post »