Archive for December, 2009


Boxing Day, my family Christmas Day. Busy, noisy, happy and very basic. The boys are being potty trained, there was much peeing and not all of it in the toilet. Oh yes, forgot to say, the boys don’t like using the potty, they would rather use the toilet. This makes it all even more urgent as potties are easily available and can placed close to where the trainees are, not so with toilets. Boxing Day resounded to the cries of ‘wee, wee’ and the pleading response ‘ hold it, hold it’. Unfortunately the scooping up of the boy was not always fast enough so that by the end of the day there were multiple damp areas on my oatmeal coloured carpet but worse was yet to come. I was tidying around in the kitchen, Jack was playing with his Scaletrix (huge success) and Evie was toddling around him looking really cute in her white fairy dress when the cry came from Jack ‘Evie’s poo’d on the carpet’. A daughter whisked her up and carried her……into the sitting room, where she finished what she had started. Apparently the accident occurred due to lack of parental communication, Mummy had removed the nappy and had thought that Daddy was putting the clean one on, wrong!  I resigned myself to using my Vax at the first opportunity.

The dynamics between the cousins are interesting. Jack loves Evie; Amy loves Jack; Izzy loves Amy. The boys tolerate Evie but love Jack and Amy. Amy and Izzy play well together, Izzy just about tolerates Evie. Now son and daughter in-law are growing a new baby and on Boxing Day asked if we could have a listen in, so off we went into a bedroom for a bit of privacy and quiet. We took Evie up with us, and since we had Evie then Jack had to come as well, and this meant that Amy and Izzy also came along. So there we are, 3 adults and 4 children all listening to electronic beeping when a weird shrieking came from the other side of the room, a cat was stuck in the bedroom and desperate to get away, DIL was laughing so much that we had to abandon our eavesdropping on little tiddler. The Royle family have nothing on us!

Last night I removed my insomnia to a spare room, hoping to allow Hubby to have a lie-in but unfortunately I had not factored in my Mother’s love of phoning early in the morning. I was awoken at 7.30 by Hubby speaking very loudly as he walked into the spare room brandishing the telephone, it was Mum. I’m going to sound extremely harsh now but please remember that this 80 year old is currently working her way through the medical dictionary for the 3rd time and last month it was M, Macular degeneration. I took the phone to find Mother informing that time was of the essence as she had Necrotising Fasciitis. I attempted a phone triage, ‘


 ‘It’s going up my arm. There’s a tingly sensation. People have their arms amputated. I phoned NHS Direct, spoke to a stupid girl. There’s a 3 hour wait in casualty.’

‘Have you called the on-call G.P service?

‘There isn’t one’

Mum, there is. Mum, Mum, are you there?’ She has put the phone down.Redial.

‘Mum. Phone your G.P’

‘I’m sorry. I never bother you. I’m frightened’.

‘Yes Mum I know. It must be very scary which why I want you to phone your G.P whilst I get dressed. I’ll have a quick cup of coffee and then get………Mum, Mum. Have you put the phone down? Mum’


‘Mum, it’s me. Will you please listen to me?’

‘No. I’m phoning C  (my niece), she’ll come round’. Phone goes down.

I go to the computer. Find my mother’s G.P’s phone number. Ring and get put through to the on-call service. Speak to an extremely helpful technician and explain my, or rather my mother’s, problem. They say a doc will be there in 1 – 2 hours time. A text comes through from my niece who has been summoned by Mother, I reply telling her that I’m sorting it and to go back to bed. She replies saying that Nanny is hysterical and that I will need armour.

The temperature outside is -5, I de-ice the car and drive carefully over the ice encrusted roads, in just under an hour I pull onto Mum’s drive. Going indoors I inspect Mum’s hand, raised blisters surrounded by angry, red skin and it does look very sore. There are further patches stretched up her arm. ‘Shingles’ I decide, I am loudly disabused of this diagnosis until the on-call doc arrives 15 minutes later.  ‘Shingles’ the on-call doc pronounces and leaves us with a prescription for Acyclovir. I returned home 4 hours later having collected her tablets; made the pastry cones for cream puffs (don’t ask); arranged her flowers; sorted her washing; done the washing-up and made sure that the cupboards and fridge were stocked. I also received lectures on catholism; the state of midwifery nowadays and how lucky I am to have such a close family. Thank heavens I’m at work tomorrow.

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Christmas Day for a midwife


7.30am, woke up, not because of excited children but due to my alarm beeping loudly, yes, just like an ordinary working day. Three-quarters of an hour later and I was quietly closing the front door so that I didn’t disturb a sleeping Hubby and, crunching across the icy snow and getting into the car. 

8.30 am and I unlocked the office door. Instead of the usual 4 or 5 midwives in our office there were just two, just 2 with half a dozen mince pies, a tin of chocolates and a box of luxury biscuits. Unfortunately we have no tea or coffee making facilities and the cafe isn’t open at weekends or bank holidays, so the biscuits were left unopened, the mince pies stayed in their container but each of us took a handful of chocs to enjoy whilst driving around. 

Busy day in store. Usually we try to leave Christmas Day free of ‘routine’ visits and only do visits for those who have been discharged from hospital the day before, but the backlog of visits from the couple of  days when the road conditions made some visits too dangerous or impossible meant that we each had 5 visits on the books before we found out about the new discharges. No one wants to be in hospital on Christmas Day so there are always quite a few discharges, and today was no different, so by the time the phone call from the mothership was over I potentially had 11 visits. My colleague and I had a chocolate and then brainstormed, prioritise, that would be the solution. A few phone calls later and 3 women had told me that they didn’t want to see a midwife on Christmas Day and assured me that all was well with them and baby. 

9.30am, I picked up the entonox cylinders and left the office. The main roads are virtually ice and snow free, however the side roads are full of icy, rutted snow and black ice, that was what I encountered arriving at my first visit. Having negotiated the slope and the corners I found a safe place to park, away from any other vehicles and not obstructing anyone’s driveway. As I stood getting my scales and bag out of the boot a BMW started coming toward me, lovely, new 6 series saloon  with an elderly, distinguished looking gentleman behind the wheel. Just as he drew level his car lost traction, there was much wheel-spinning and no forward motion so he ceased trying and proceeded to lower the window nearest to me. He may have looked distinguished, but his language was straight from the gutter . The gist of his discourse was that his driving difficulties were due to him having to drive past my car; that if I didn’t move then he would probably end up bashing my car; that I should drive out of the side road and onto the main road. I wished him a happy Christmas, apologised for having to work and inconvenience him, returned my scales and bag to my boot and drove out of ‘his’ housing estate and parked on the main road. Then I was truly pathetic and had a quick cry. He had difficulty driving up the road, I wish I could see him again and explain to him how much more difficult it was to negotiate 200 yards of rutted, icy snow carrying scales and a heavy bag. Good start to the day. 

My next visit was to the home of the woman’s parents, as arranged, however she was running late so I was asked to ‘return in an hour or so, but not over 2 hours as they would be having christmas dinner then’. For the rest of the day everyone was in, and welcoming, and after 30 miles and 8 visits I pulled onto my drive.

4.30pm  and I’m home. Hubby had cooked the turkey and was just putting the beef in to roast, we are having a christmas ‘buffet’ tomorrow. I phoned all the family and heard how their day had gone, prepared one of the puddings for tomorrow and with ‘The Gruffalo’ recording in the background settled down to baked beans on toast. Who needs turkey and all the trimmings?

Christmas day for a midwife is much the same as any other, the roads may be quieter but there are still breastfeeding issues to try and resolve, newborn screening to undertake and babies to weigh. Unfortunately I’m on call until 8.30am so no relaxation….yet, but tomorrow, whilst everyone else has a year to wait until next Christmas, this midwife will be enjoying her’s with all her family.

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Just trying to get up to date with the latest advice I should give, things have a habit of changing!

Pregnant women should consume no more than 200mg of caffeine a day, the equivalent of two mugs of instant coffee.

Babies under six months old should not be fed peanuts, although it is safe for expectant mothers to eat peanuts during pregnancy.

Pregnant women or women trying to conceive should avoid drinking alcohol. If they do choose to drink, to minimise the risk to the baby, they should not drink more than 1 to 2 units once or twice a week and should not get drunk.

It’s fine to eat sushi, and other dishes made with raw fish, when you’re pregnant as long as the fish used to make it has been frozen first. This is because occasionally fish contains small worms called parasites, which could make you ill. Freezing kills the worms and makes raw fish safe to eat. (Food Standards Agency)

Avoid raw shellfish when you’re pregnant. This is because raw shellfish can sometimes contain harmful bacteria and viruses that could cause food poisoning. And food poisoning can be particularly unpleasant when you’re pregnant. (..not to mention dangerous (me))

Be careful about getting a suntan when pregnant, it could be bad for you and baby. There are those who think quite the opposite though.

Be more diligent about the strand test if you are going to dye your hair.

This may become a regular entry and be fueled by questions I’ve been asked during an antenatal clinic.


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Slip, sliding away

It’s been a while, but I’m writing again, as much for my sanity as anything else as blogging does appear to have a beneficial effect upon my stress levels. It must be that the ability to let off steam here alleviates the build up of pressure, and there’s certainly a lot of that about at the moment.

The police appear to have completed their investigations into the death of my step-father, the whole process has placed huge strain upon our family, and the next event will be the inquest in January at, or after which, I anticipate my Mother will finally slip over the edge as I don’t think she will be happy with any decision other than to hang, draw and quarter the driver of the reversing car and that ain’t going to happen.

I’m on-call tonight but for the first time ever I am confident that I will not be called. The snow has been so bad, many roads are closed, that the decision has been made that homebirths can not be covered. Generally I would still be on call for the birth centre but as several community are marooned there they will not need to call me in, hurrah, I hate driving in snow.

Amanda Holden’s programme about being a midwife? Love it or hate it? Well, I didn’t hate it. There were some aspects which irritated me but on the whole I felt that it was a positive, if restricted, vignette of a midwife’s role.

The good news is that I’m going to be a Grandmother again in June, that will be seven of the little rug-rats.


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