Minimal waste living

So, as all of you who follow me over on Instagram will know, we made the decision to switch to reusable nappies! This is one thing on a long list of changes we have started to make in our family towards zero waste living.

Me and Kieran have been conscious of our environmental impact for a while now, and as we have welcomed a new addition to our family we have been even more aware of it –  babies *can* produce a lot of waste!

Before I get to talking about reusable nappies, I’ll walk you through a few of the other changes we have made over the last 2 years.

Reusable water bottles.

I honestly can not remember the last time I bought a plastic water bottle. Me and Kieran both have Chilly’s bottles – which keep liquids either hot or cold. I always carry this on me – so not only am I helping the planet, I’m drinking more water too! (I also have a Doppler bottle which I bought in Amsterdam – it’s super lightweight which can be handy!)

Reusable coffee cups

For my 18th birthday, Kieran bought me a Keep cup (with yellow on it of course!). I use this if I want to take a coffee from home out with me or if I know I’ll be grabbing one on the go – I love that its glass too, makes the coffee taste better!

Food containers

90% of the time, me and Kieran take lunch from home when we’re going out. Kieran uses glass tupplewear to take his lunches to uni – BPA free, better for the environment and you can pop them straight in the microwave! We also have some stainless steal pots for snacks.

Klean Canteen sippy cup

Now this is slightly ahead of the game, given that Arlo can’t hold his own bottle yet. But we couldn’t resist when we saw it! It’s a beautiful stainless steal sippy cup, which also turns into a little water bottle for when he’s older – simply switch the cap!

Reusable bags

I’m sure most people are doing this now – but we have loads of reusable bags, I pretty much have them coming out my ears. Stuffed in the pram, in almost every rucksack we own – they’re everywhere!

Toothbrushes

Me and Kieran both use wooden toothbrushes, they’re really cheap and feel much nicer to use! I can’t wait to buy Arlo his first little wooden toothbrush.

Soap

No more plastic bottles! We both use unpackaged bars of soap, Kieran loves a company called Wideye which we discovered on a day trip to Rye a few months ago. They may look more pricey but they last so much longer! And they smell AMAZING.

Razors

Kieran shaves using a reusable metal razor – he just replaces the blades every few shaves. I’m looking into buying one of these myself – so if anyone has any suggestions of brands let me know!

Mooncup

Now that my period has returned after having Arlo, I decided to return to using a mooncup. I used one for a while a few years ago, but for some reason stopped, but I bought another one and I am so excited to get back to using it! No waste and a hell of a lot cheaper – they cost around £20, but once you’ve bought it it’ll last years!

Wooden toys

Me and Kieran decided before Arlo was born that we wanted to have a majority of wooden toys. I think they’re beautiful, will most likely last longer and better for the environment than plastic. Lots of wooden toys like blocks also encourage open ended play to build the imagination.

Cleaning

So this is a new one that we have been working on recently – and as we don’t have our own home we haven’t invested in it as much as we are planning to just yet. But we have made a start with reusable washing up ‘sponges’ and brushes. We also discovered a brand called OceanPods, so we’re hopping to invest in some stainless steal spray bottles and give them a go instead of buying lots of chemicals in plastic bottles.

NAPPIES + WIPES!

So, before Arlo was born we looked into reusable nappies a lot and we almost bought them…but as we don’t have our own home and they were a very big investment we decided against it. But 3 months into being parents, now that we have a pretty good hang of this whole ‘keeping a small human alive’ gig, we started looking into it again. After some discussions with some other mammas that use cloth, we took the plunge.

Anyone who knows me will know I’m often an ‘all or nothing’ type of person. Which is sometimes a positive and sometimes a negative. So I told Kieran that if we were doing cloth…we were doing it all the way. Nappies, wipes, fleece liners – the lot!

So, lets start with wipes. I will say that even if you don’t want to use reusable nappies, you should 100% buy reusable wipes. They’re cheaper, far superior at cleaning up poop and better for the environment. Oh and so easy to wash its almost silly!

We got ours from cheeky wipes. We have a clean wipes box and a mucky wipes box. The mucky box has a mesh bag insert so you don’t have to touch the mucky wipes when you chuck them in the washing machine. You simply put a little water in both boxes, put a few clean wipes in the clean box (blue) and away you go! We also have a little wet bag from Babaandboo for taking pre soaked wipes out and about with us.

We have a total of 20 nappies, from a variety of brands, they are all whats called ‘birth to potty’ all in one nappies. They all have lots of poppers on the front which means you can adjust them to the size of your baby and make them bigger as they grow. Each nappy comes with an insert or two, which absorbs the wee. And then we bought a pack of 20 fleece liners that you place on top to catch the poop.

What do you do with the dirty nappies? I hear you say…

At home we have a big bucket with a mesh bag inside. When we change a nappy we simply chuck it in the bucket until you put a wash on. If it’s a poo, we rinse the worst of it off the liner (in the toilet) and then we store those separately until we put a wash on. If we’re out and about, we put the dirty nappy in a wet bag (that is specifically for dirty nappies) and then deal with it when we get home.

How do you wash the nappies?

We put the fleece liners and the wipes on a rinse cycle. Then we put the nappies in and do a second rinse before putting them on a long wash with a little bit of washing powder. (some people wash at 40 degrees and some at 60 degrees, different nappy brands recommend different things so you have to decide yourself on that one)

How do you dry the nappies?

If it’s a good day we hang them on the line and they all dry in around 6-8 hours. The sun is also a natural bleach and so it helps to remove any stains. If it’s not good weather then we hang them on the airing rack with the window slightly open and they dry in about 24 hours.

Which brands do you use?

We have bought nappies from Babaandboo, Totsbots, Tickletots, LittleLamb and Wonderoo. Our favourites have been the Babaandboo or the Tickletots. But if your on a tight budget the Little Lambs are amazing for the price!

So there you have it, our little journey towards zero waste living. All these things are definitely an investment and may seem far more expensive than the throw away alternatives. But they last much longer and so are actually far cheaper in the long run! But it’s a process to make all the changes and can be quite a culture shock at first as we live in such a throw away world.

If you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask! Or simply pop over to my Instagram for a chat,

Georgia X

Arlo’s 12 week update

Firstly, I am aware that this post is a little late….given that Arlo is now approaching 14 weeks. But hey ho…better late than never? And boy has a lot happened between 8 and 12 weeks.

Kieran has been on his Easter holidays for the majority of this time (although he has gone back to uni now) so we’ve managed to squeeze quite a lot into these 4 weeks! And given the extra pair of hands, I have lots of photos too!

Arlo had his vaccinations at 8 weeks…he was not at all phased at the time. However it did have some after affects for the week following…which Kieran was not best pleased about. I got a good laugh out of it non the less.

When Arlo was tiny, he really hated tummy time…I’m talking screams within 5 seconds of being on his tummy kind of hate. But as he has got older, with the help of our trusty belly roller from Aldi (thank you Kirstie!), he has started to enjoy it more. The coordination between his limbs is so much better and he can now hold his (rather heavy) head up for much longer.

Now that Arlo is a lot more alert, he always wants to be facing the world. Any opportunity to sit propped up or sit in someones lap facing outwards, he’ll take it. Along with that…if I’m sitting in a place particularly interesting and I try to cuddle him facing me…he tells me off. I suppose I’m just not as interesting as the man in the coffee shop steaming milk and pouring latte art?

This does however, have it’s up sides…at least when he’s sick it goes on his clothes instead of mine.

We took Arlo to Brighton for a few days to stay with my Dad. Tried him out in his new travel cot…which he did look rather small for, but he didn’t seem to mind one bit! In Brighton we also discovered his newfound fascination with patterns. In particular geometric bears…which makes a change from plain walls and ceilings.

As it’s been getting warmer, we’ve been taking Arlo outside a lot more – for walks in the baby carrier or to have a look at the sea. And I can most certainly tell you that Arlo dislikes wind with a passion. He pulls the funniest faces whenever the wind is blowing in his direction.

Along with the arrival of some slightly warmer and sunnier weather…we had to go and buy Arlo a sun hat. Which I have to say has a slight primary school nativity feel about it. You know…tea towels on the head? We’ve also been spending a lot more time in the garden with Arlo in his bouncer which, providing it’s not windy, he seems to like. (Especially if he has his favourite Auntie with him)

Arlo is growing so quickly, and becoming more of a little character by the day. But even though he is more interested in looking at whats going on and is beginning to have a lot to say for himself…he will always be my little boy who falls asleep on me and wants cuddles.

Georgia X

Is the 12 week announcement ‘rule’ suppressing women?

The first twelve weeks of pregnancy seem to flash by without you even realising, and those early weeks hold very different things for every woman. Some may not find out they’re pregnant until they’re a few months gone, some may be filled with anxiety waiting for the first scan, some may be full of fear of miscarriage and some (like me) may be facing the huge decision of if they want to seek a termination or not.

All these things are so impactful on a woman’s life, emotionally and physically, yet society swears us to secrecy. Most women wait until their 12 week scan to announce their pregnancy – as the chance of miscarriage decreases after this week. But why is this? Should we really be doing this when what a woman needs most in this time is support?

When you unexpectedly discover that you’re pregnant it’s often difficult to decide who to confide in, if anyone.

When I discovered I was pregnant I was around 4 days late on my cycle. I remember taking the test at 5:30am and when I saw those two pink lines appear I instantly felt like was holding a big secret.

Me and Kieran spent the next few days discussing what we wanted to do, but came no closer to a decision. (Thank god for living by the sea and having the beach to escape to) We started the process of seeking a termination as I knew it was a lengthy process and the further through your pregnancy you are the higher the risks of complications. Me and Kieran spent the next few weeks sneaking off to termination assessments and having phone calls to different clinics. We were holding such a huge weight on our shoulders but were made to feel as though we couldn’t let anyone know. For some reason society makes things like terminations and teenage pregnancy seem shameful, which is more than wrong. What me and Kieran needed most was support and people to talk to outside of each other.

I will also note here…that attending your 18th birthday party…and trying to secretly not drink when you’re supposed to be getting absolutely plastered is interesting to say the least.

Me and Kieran on my 18th (it’s a Polaroid)

I was quite sick during 6-12 weeks, had a fair few incidences of running to the toilet to throw up…and trust me doing that without anyone noticing is quite a challenge. Sometimes I wonder how i managed it. Life would have been a hell of a lot easier if it was socially acceptable to be open about early pregnancy. Especially considering I was at school and sitting my A-level exams…that was interesting to say the least. I have distinct memories of walking around Tesco at 7am trying to find something I could stomach to eat before my exam…but retching at the sight of almost everything.

Eventually Kieran confided in his parents and I confided in one of my closest friends. It was so hard to tell people, but the second you share something as big as that with someone you trust it feels like a little bit of the weight is lifted. Even though me and Kieran were the only people who could make the decision on what to do, having people to talk things through with was a life line.

We are indirectly creating a culture in which women feel the need to hide early pregnancy, and this is contributing to the suppression of women. By not openly discussing these topics, we are reinforcing the idea that they are not worthy of thought and women should deal with them alone.

So after getting through the first 12 weeks you then face the question of how to announce your pregnancy…and who to tell first?

Once we had decided to continue with the pregnancy, we were of course very excited about it all. Yes we had big changes to make to our future, and some things about having a child so young were daunting…but not once were we ashamed of our decision or worried about being able to make it work. But I can say, it’s extremely hard to maintain that positive mentality when people react to your news negatively…or instantly start asking you lots of intrusive questions about money, housing, education etc.

Pregnancy is a fact of life – it’s how we’re all here after all. Yet we still hold a huge stigma around things such as termination, miscarriage and teenage pregnancy. If women felt able to talk openly about the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, maybe we would be able to get the support we need…whether that’s being able to run to the toilet to throw up without the added pressure of trying to hide it, having people to discuss your options with or those who experience a miscarriage having people around them to help them through it.

I know I will be raising my children talking openly about my experience, and I hope that the future holds a society in which these things are not stigmatised.

Georgia X

Best buys for baby + mamma

There are so many options when it comes to baby purchases, at many different price points. It can be a bit of a minefield to work out which items will actually be useful and which are a waste of money. I’ve teamed up with the lovely Beth (@happycornishmama) to give you our top items for both baby and mamma!

The Johnson’s bath range

I’m sure we are all aware that Johnson’s is a household name when it comes to baby products, but with so much more choice on the market now it’s hard to know what’s best for your baby. (it’s mostly trial and error as every baby is so different). Me and Kieran both have sensitive skin, so we wanted to choose the most simple skin products possible. Arlo hasn’t had any negative reaction to these, and they smell so lovely! My good friend Phoebe (Arlo’s unofficial auntie) gifted some of the Johnson’s bath range to us as Arlo’s Birth present – possibly the most useful present we have received! Click here to shop the range.

The White Company sleeping bag

Now this is possibly one of the most used items in our baby collection. As babies need an extra layer or two to stay warm its often difficult to know what to put them to bed in as temperature can fluctuate overnight. It’s also dangerous to leave a baby with lots of blankets unless they’re secure due to suffocation risk. The sleeping bag solves all of those problems instantly, not to mention the fact that it looks super cute! It also means you can leave the baby in it while you feed them at night in order to have minimal handling so that they go back to sleep easily. (every parent knows the struggle of trying to delicately place a baby down without waking them up!) I don’t think they sell this print anymore, but click here to look at some other gorgeous prints.

A baby wrap and carrier

Having a pram is great, as you can put the baby down, but so many places are not pram friendly – here’s where being able to carry your baby is very useful. Me and Kieran often like to go out on walks or do trips to places like London etc, and having a carrier has been amazing! While Arlo is still little we’ve found this baby wrap to be the best option, as it keeps him well supported and all snuggled up! As he gets a bit bigger we will start using the Integra Baby carrier that is more durable and Kieran can wear too, which was kindly gifted to us by my lovely cousin as she recommended it.

The White Company Fleece Romper

This little bear suit is possibly the softest thing ever to exist, it’s so cosy that I wish they made them for big humans! This is perfect for taking Arlo out and about in, we always put him in it when he’s in the pram to save us faffing with lots of blankets when we’re out if it’s chilly. And of course it just looks bloody adorable!

Gap maternity sports leggings

As I am a powerlifter, I go to the gym 3-5 times a week and do very high intensity training (which I kept up throughout my pregnancy). It’s also a 2 mile walk to and from my gym…so I am always on the hunt for durable sports wear, and when I fell pregnant I thought it might be difficult to find good maternity sport clothes. But these from Gap were amazing, I pretty much wore them everyday for 9 months…and boy did I put them through some intense workouts.

All these products have been used endlessly in our first 10 weeks with little Arlo, I couldn’t recommend them more!

Georgia X

Beth and Freddie!

Hi there! My names Beth and I’m a first time Mum to Freddie. We’re winging our way through life and motherhood, fuelled by caffeine and hidden behind concealer. We live in the beautiful county of Cornwall and love nothing more than exploring the world around us!

When you have a baby, you are faced with so many options. Do you breast feed or bottle feed? Do you co sleep or use a Moses basket? Do you stay at home or go back to work? It’s no different when it comes to buying products for your little one. There are hundreds of companies attempting to entice you in with their product, claiming it’s the best of the bunch. 

Here are my top 5. We have been gifted some of these brilliant products, however I would happily purchase them as I’ve found them fantastic! All products that have been gifted have been stated in my posts.

1) Love nest ergonomic baby pillow from @babymoov_uk. The pillow is designed with a special incline to distribute the weight of the babies head evenly across the back of the head. Suitable for up until 4 months or when baby can roll over. Freddie has quite a flat head on one side and as we are seeing a physiotherapist to help treat it, I am making a conscious effort to use his pillow more and more and I think it’s really helping Freddie! – Gifted.

2) Gummee Teething Purple Heart shaped silicone teething ring. This teething ring has been an absolute god send. It’s so light and easy for Freddie to hold, he absolutely loves it. I pack it in our bag and take it out with us wherever we go. It’s suitable for babies aged 3 months+, also at £4.99 it’s really affordable. – Gifted.

3) Giraffe comforter.  We were given this comforter as a gift from a relative and it’s Freddie’s favourite. He had lots of different comforters of all shapes and sizes, different in price but he absolutely loves this one. It’s from Primark and retails at £3. An absolute bargain, so much so I’ve bought 3 more in case we loose any! It’s super soft and snuggly.

4) Little Tikes suction toy. Whenever any person see’s me and Freddie with this toy I rave about it. It’s AMAZING. It has a suction pad that sticks to a highchair tray perfectly, meaning it can’t be continuously dropped on the floor (isn’t that the most annoying thing!?). Freddie thinks it’s the best thing since sliced bread, it has a little mirror and spins around too.

5) JoJo Maman Bébé changing travel wallet. I managed to get this in the sale a couple of months ago for only a fiver, it was originally £12 which I would also happily pay as it’s fab. The wallet has a zip at the front where you can put nappies, on the inside there is a zip section to store nappy bags and a pouch to keep wipes. It folds out to reveal a portable changing matt which is really handy for changing baby on the go, especially as some baby changing facilities aren’t always super clean or comfy!

I highly recommend all of these products and I don’t know what I’d of done for the past 5 months without them!

London, projectile vomit + poosplosions

Me and Kieran have had quite a few big days out to London since we met. It’s become some what of a tradition as it’s where we had our first proper date. By that I mean that we met up once to have a drink on the beach, but then I went away on holiday with my family…so we met up in London for a day out a couple weeks later. Here are some pictures of our first ‘proper’ date (pancakes for breakfast was the highlight…and buying Harrods bears of course)

In keeping with our parenting ethos, we were not going to let having a baby stop us doing all the adventurous and spontaneous things we have always enjoyed…so now that Arlo is 9 weeks old we decided to have our first day in London as a family of three!

The first debate was if we should take the pram or just use the baby wrap. In the end we decided against the pram as negotiating rush hour trains to London with a rather large pram seemed less than ideal.

We were up and out the house by 7am. The train ride there was nice and easy, not too busy for the first half and Arlo was very content. We arrived at London Bridge, popped Arlo in the baby wrap and went to have a tour round, courtesy of Kieran. I love looking round Borough market, all the smells and beautiful food displays. Kieran showed me Flat Iron Square and we went past the pancake house we had our first date – nothing like a trip down memory lane.

Arlo needed feeding so we made our way to a little cafe called Mouse tail which is connected to a library. First we went to change Arlo and never have I been in such a hot baby changing room – it might as well have been a sauna. After grabbing a table and making up a bottle Kieran started to feed Arlo before he headed off to his lecture at 10:30am.

I was busy sorting out our bags when I heard Kieran gasp…I looked up and Arlo had been sick all over Kieran, never before have I seen a face of such distress. Just as I was getting a muslin out the bag Arlo projectile vomited a second time. Kieran was now dripping in it…the floor was covered…and I had completely lost it laughing. You couldn’t have made it up. All this commotion going on in the corner of a silent library. And just to top it off, as we gathered our stuff and made our way back to the sauna of a changing room…a man came and sat in Kieran’s chair. We got back into the changing room, and here’s a funny picture for you – Kieran was topless (as he had to change tops), i was having a wee and Arlo was naked crying on the changing table…all while we are sweating our balls off. I was basically crying laughing at this point.

Kieran headed off to his lecture (sick covered jeans as his new fashion staple) and I went and chilled out in Pret with a coffee.

A couple hours later me and Arlo went to meet a few of Kieran’s friends from uni in Starbucks…you can pass that baby round to anyone and he’s not phased in the slightest.

Me and Kieran headed off to walk to the science museum (note that its an hour and a half walk from where we were). Its funny walking through London with a small baby strapped to your front…you either get disapproving looks or looks of adoration.

We stopped off in a park near the London Eye to have some lunch and give Arlo another feed (this time without the projectile vomiting). There were lots of small children running around the play park…i can’t believe Arlo will be that big in the not so distant future.

We then continued to walk to the science museum, sight seeing along the way. Passing Waterloo station, Trafalgar square and Buckingham Palace. Arlo perfectly content in the baby wrap – he goes straight to sleep when I put him in it! Even with all the noise in London.

Very tired from all the walking, we finally reached the Science museum at 4:30pm, had our bags checked and headed to the pattern pod to have a sit down. Arlo needed a nappy change and a feed, and one of the staff recommended a place called ‘The Garden’ to take Arlo…sounds nice right?

Just as we came out of the changing room and made our way to the lift (I was carrying Arlo)…Kieran looked at me and pointed at Arlo’s back. I turned him round and to my horror he had done a poo…all the way up his back and through his clothes. You have to laugh. Somewhere in the 10 second walk from the changing room to the lift he had decided to give us a lovely present. We made our way down to ‘The Garden’ and found another changing room. Kieran cleaned up all the poop (Dad of the year) and changed Arlo’s clothes while we hysterically laughed at the situation.

Having all recovered from the poosplosion, we went and sat in ‘The Garden’ to feed Arlo…I will highlight the extremely false advertising here…as it was actually a dingy basement with a few benches and a poor paint job. Here’s a picture for accountability;

It’s now 5:30pm…closing time. A security guard comes to usher us out and we pack up all our stuff and made our way outside. In short, we came to the science museum to clean up lots of poo and enjoy the delights of the basement. Me and Kieran just stood outside and laughed…parenthood truly is a hilarious adventure.

Believe it or not we had a great day…I have so much love for my little family and can’t wait for more adventures.

Georgia X

Birth Story and Q+A

Birth Story and Q+A

I’ve wanted to write this for a long time, but its taken me a while to process my birth experience and understand how I feel about it. (as well as remember what happened in what order…but we will get to that later)

Whilst I was pregnant I spent a fair bit of time wondering what birth would be like. It’s one of those life events that happens all the time, but there is no way of knowing what it’s actually like until you experience it. (Although I think most mothers could agree that the depiction of birth in films etc is not very helpful, nor is the fact that no one TALKS about birth)

When I was past the half way mark in my pregnancy and it felt like birth was drawing ever closer, I decided to read a book about hypnobirthing by Katharine Graves. I wont go into what hypnobirthing is but anyone who is pregnant should do some research into it (no matter what kind of birth you are having – natural, Cesarean, epidural etc; hypnobirthing is for anyone who is bringing a baby into the world) The Positive Birth Company is also incredible.

I decided I wanted a completely natural birth, in the midwife led unit and in a pool if possible. Although I was preparing myself to have whatever kind of birth me and my baby needed.

My due date was the 27.01.19 based on my cycle, but that was moved to 25.01.19 when I had my dating scan.

SATURDAY 26TH OF JANUARY

Me and Kieran decided to take our dog Archie on a long walk along the beach and grab a coffee in town. I’d been experiencing Braxton hicks contractions at random for the last few weeks, so didn’t take much notice of them while we were out – although looking back they were much more frequent that day. I will note that at this point I was fully setting myself up to be pregnant for the next two weeks…everyone tells you that first babies are late.

We got home, cooked some dinner and had a relaxing evening watching telly in bed (if I recall correctly I think I managed to bag myself a massage from Kieran too) we went to sleep at around 10PM (by this point in pregnancy sleep was a distant memory amongst all the peeing and turning over to stop my hips aching)

MIDNIGHT

At around 5 minuets past midnight I was woken up by what I can only describe as period pain, strange I thought – even though late pregnancy is full of pains and twinges I had never been woken up by anything before. I tried to go back to sleep – but unsurprisingly that was not successful. (I will admit I was laying in bed glaring at Kieran slightly pissed off that he was fast asleep)

12:20pm, the pain came again. They continued to come for the next two hours, but completely randomly and at all different intensities. Slightly disheartened at the fact that it was probably just Braxton hicks, I went to cuddle the dog and get some cereal (if anyone knows me they know that cereal is my solution to almost any situation)

I then sat bouncing on my birthing ball in the dark in our bedroom (might I add that Kieran is still fast asleep)

At around 3am the contractions started to get stronger, and were coming at more regular intervals. what started off as slightly irritating period pain was now requiring me to focus on my breathing a little more to get through it. Here’s where I decided to wake Kieran up (no easy task). It took about 15 minutes from waking Kieran up to having a functioning Kieran who understood what was going on…amusing now, not so much then.

We started timing the contractions…but they were still slightly irregular and about 6 minutes apart. So we went to make hot cross buns and tea and sat in the dimly lit bedroom having a mini picnic at 3am…slightly strange but was just what I needed at the time.

4:30am. I was trying to wait until I really needed it to get in the bath…water is a really amazing pain relief in labour but I didn’t want to jump the gun and not get the benefit. But I definitely needed it at this point…being on all fours and burying my head in a pillow was no longer working. Kieran ran a hot bath and we both went to camp out in the bathroom for a while. Can I say, getting into a hot bath has never felt as nice as it did then. All the tension I had built up over the last 4 hours seemingly melted away. I think I stayed there for a good hour, timing the contractions with Kieran. There was something so calm and safe about being locked in the dimly lit bathroom in a hot bath while it was dark outside and the rest of the world was still asleep.

9AM – TIME TO CALL THE HOSPITAL

The first time we called, the contractions were not quite 3 in every 10 minutes, so the midwife said it would be best to relax at home for a while longer. Here’s where I had my second bath…might sound a little excessive, but being in the bath was the best place for me.

11AM – SECOND CALL TO THE HOSPITAL

The hospital I was down to give birth at is a 45 minute drive from our house…believe it or not there was no other option. I was dreading getting in the car…the thought of not being able to move about was horrific. So the majority of this call to the hospital consisted of debating if I should come in…because if I wasn’t in established labour (4cm dilated) they would send me home, and I was not going to do that journey more than once.

In the end they agreed to send a community midwife to my house to see how dilated I was and make the decision from that.

The midwife who arrived was a lovely woman who had seen me a few times during my pregnancy, she checked all my vitals and sat with me for a while. She was hesitant to give me an examination as I seemed so calm and so she assumed I wasn’t dilated very much. But I convinced her as I really just needed to know where I was at…much to everyone’s surprise (but me of course) I was 4cm and in established labour.

We all got in the car and made our way to the hospital. I put my headphones in and listened to one of my chill playlists on Spotify. Much to my surprise I was completely calm, eyes shut and focusing on relaxing into each contraction. I’ve never felt so relaxed and focused in on myself as I did in those 45 minutes.

We arrived and were shown to our room in the birthing centre, I had all my vitals checked and got straight into the big pool…absolute bliss. Kieran sat by the side of the pool holding my hand and we just relaxed there for a few hours. (we did change rooms somewhere in the middle of that as the temperature regulation of the pool stopped working…but that’s a minor detail)

3:30PM. I had a second examination only to find I was still 4cm…the midwife immediately wanted to break my waters and was preparing the equipment AS she was asking me. I told her to stop and explain the pro’s and con’s to me, and decided to wait a few more hours but try to walk around and use the birthing ball more to move things along. I wanted as little intervention as possible, and was determined to have trust in my body. We spent the next few hours with Micheal Mcintyre in the background and pacing around the room – intermittently burying myself into Kieran which was more than comforting.

A few hours later we decided to have the midwife break my waters in the hope it would naturally release more hormones and move things along. I decided to have some gas and air at this point…after a fair bit of deliberation as I was terrified of it making me throw up. But thank god it didn’t…just made me slightly delirious and say a few strange things. I used it for a couple of hours and then left it.

8PM – SHIFT CHANGE OVER

Here is where I was assigned a new midwife – Laura – an absolute angel. I got back in the pool for another hour or so, but had started feeling like my body wanted to push. (believe it or not, you body just does it for you and you don’t get very much say in the matter – incredible right?) Laura said she could see what was called MEC (where the baby does a poo inside) which can have a few complications, so she wanted to move me to a room in the labour ward as a precaution. Despite being hesitant, I agreed in the end. We all up and moved room for the second time (quite comical really)

10PM – THINGS GET REAL

Everything suddenly moved on very very quickly. I had gone from 4cm – fully dilated in around 4 hours. (which all the midwives were pretty shocked at, despite me being on my knees telling them that this baby was coming, dilated or not)

At this point I was leaning over the edge of the birthing pool, Kieran was standing next to me with his hand on my back. Suddenly what looked like rather a lot of blood appeared on the floor…I could hear Kieran in the background concerned and checking with the midwife that that was normal, which it was she reassured him. (I was too focused to care)

I got back onto the bed and little ones heart rate began to raise slightly. By this point I was exhausted…I hadn’t slept in 48hours, nor had I eaten much in the last 24. The midwife said it would be best to give me some fluids through a canula…but I refused and knew I had the strength in me somewhere to do this completely by myself.

11:30PM – ANOTHER MIDWIFE JOINED US.

Lead midwife Becky joined us as little one (still unnamed at this point) was crowning, but his heart rate showed a little bit of distress. After a discussion between me, Kieran and the midwives they decided to give me a small episiotomy to get baby here quickly and safely.

11:58PM. With one push, a squirming, vernix covered baby was placed on my chest. I’ve had Kieran confirm that my first words were “oh my god that’s a baby”…as if i hadn’t noticed that he had been inside me for the last 9 months.

Kieran gave me a kiss and we waited for the cord to finish pulsating before he cut it. Our baby was here, safe and perfect. I’d brought him here with nothing but two doses of paracetamol and a few hours of gas and air. Proud is an understatement.

I felt the very first twinge at around 0:05am on the 27th, and our boy was placed in my arms at 23:58pm on the 27th – just about fitting his entire birth into the 27th, his original due date. Kieran was by my side the entire time. Birth is an incredible experience, and it truly showed me my strength as a woman. I would do it again in a heartbeat, and not just because you get a baby at the end of it – because the whole process is something so very special.

Arlo Tobias Woolf was named at around 7am on the 28th. 8Ibs4oz.

Q+A

‘Did you do any antenatal classes prior to birth ?’

Yes, I attended the half day course offered by the community midwives – but if I’m honest it wasn’t very enlightening. The best source of information for me was the research I did on hypnobirthing. I also started following lots of positive birth accounts on Instagram, in order to expose myself to all different kinds of birth and make me feel prepared for any scenario.

‘Do you think exercising during pregnancy helped you during labour?’

YES! I can not emphasise this enough, labour is like a marathon. Personally each contraction was not a type of pain that I couldn’t handle, but the relentless nature of labour is tough. Endurance is built through exercise, and if I had not of kept up my training throughout my pregnancy I don’t believe I would have had the birth I did.

Are there any things you would do differently?’

Although I am incredibly proud of my birth experience, there are a few things I would set up differently for next time. I 100% will be having a home birth, something I would have done this time if we had been living in our own house. I will also pay for a private midwife if I have the money, as seeing the same woman throughout pregnancy and then at the birth I believe would make a world of difference. I would also like a birth photographer – one thing I do regret is not taking enough pictures.

Georgia X

Self care + parenting

As an individual, I have always been introverted. This means I need time alone to recharge and thrive in all other areas of life. In short, I very much enjoy my own company. (Don’t get me wrong, I love meeting with my friends and going on family holidays etc – I just have to have time to myself to balance it out)

Having time to myself in the Lake District when me and my Dad walked the 192 mile Coast to Coast path

This was something I was worried I would have to sacrifice when becoming a mother, as I had been told that babies need your attention 24/7 and so getting to take a 5 minuet shower would be a luxury. I have definitely had to change how and when I get time to myself, but I have been lucky enough not to have the kind of experience I just mentioned.

Me and Orla in Greece

Before giving birth, I made a promise to myself that I wasn’t going to let the things that make me me disappear and become just ‘Arlo’s mum’ – which I know is something lots of stay at home mothers struggle with in terms of their identity. I am a partner to Kieran, a powerlifter, a self-proclaimed science nerd, a long distance walking lover, a woman with big ambitions for her future (the list could go on, but you get the idea) AND a mother. So I still find time to train 3-4 times a week, study, go for walks along the beach etc – and to me that is invaluable.

The hour or so that I get in the gym to blast music through my headphones, get really sweaty and move some weight around allows me to have time to switch off from all the responsibilities of being a mother and just be ‘Georgia’. I truly believe that life is about making time for the things that are important to you, everyone told me I wouldn’t have time to train anymore while I was pregnant, but I knew it was something I was not going to give up. Not only does it make me happy, it gives me the headspace to be a better mother.

Mine and Kieran’s trip to Amsterdam

Another thing that me and Kieran had discussed was that we didn’t want our relationship to get lost in the mist of parenting. Just as much as we have become a family of three, we are still a couple separate from that. We have always loved going for long walks where we can talk and focus on nothing but each other, something that became even more of a habit while I was pregnant. This is something we still make time for now, just one of us is pushing a pram. Parenting is about adapting – you can still do all the things you did before, you just might have to change how you go about it.

Me and Kieran take an extremely relaxed approach to parenting – no routines, no expectations and an acceptance that things can change at any second (be it Arlo suddenly stops sleeping, or we have a sick explosion just before we leave the house). This allows us to not only have far less stress, but to find time to be individuals and live lives that are separate from each other as well as together. I would like to note here, I am extremely lucky to be part of a relationship where we will each take Arlo to let the other go and have a long bath or get an extra gym session when we need it. In my opinion, continuing to feel like individuals as well as a couple is paramount to having a happy family.

Self care looks different for everyone, and for me it is most definitely not painting my nails and doing a face mask (more like breaking my nails lifting barbells and having an O’natural face mask of sweat). But if that’s your thing then keep doing you.

Georgia X