Friday, March 25, 2011
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
I think I was 6 in this photo. Note the asymmetrical haircuts we all possess. This would be one of the few photos of me wearing anything vaguely girly. I lived in my brothers' cast-off Incredible Hulk and Spiderman t-shirts and denim shorts. My mum used to be so sad that after three boys I wasn't a girly girl! We still lived in Wales at this point and I didn't have a Welch accent... although my older brother was nicknamed Taffy when we moved to England so maybe there was an accent there. I don't have so many memories of Wales; there are the family stories [crazy dogs, running naked, breaking my brothers' arm], the woods behind the house where I could clamber over to my friends' house, my dad taking us for 'spends' every Saturday morning, falling off my bike and scraping the skin off my arms, crying to my mum and telling her I didn't want to leave. We left when I was 8 years old and one week old. We moved to England, where I lived, in various places, for the next 22 years.
I love my brothers. And in case my oldest brother reads this and feels left out [I have three!], I'm going to find a photo of him from school and scan it in too. I'm pretty sure his haircut was *really* trendy in its day :D
Sunday, March 20, 2011
Thursday, March 17, 2011
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
I'm a bit snowed under at work, but a good snowed under, I am enjoying it right now! Maybe because I know I'm leaving in a few months, maybe because MSc students are really great to teach... who knows... Anyway, I'm sorry, it isn't a great tree photo for The Gallery this week, but it shows my brain right now :)
It's a phylogenetic tree! And don't worry, see that huge outlier for the UK making it look like we're totally different (genetically) to the rest of Europe? That's just called 'crap data'. If you're British, you're not really unique :)
Oh, if you were looking for a real tree, here is Thomas trying to hide in one...
Friday, March 11, 2011
This is my first birth story. My first birth story that isn’t mine. I feel proud and privileged to be part of someone else’s story and it is something that will stay with me forever.
Matilda’s mummy (S) started her labour story days before her baby would finally be born. The contractions started on the Thursday, infrequent and easy to deal with, S kept me informed of progress and excitement rippled through our world. Friday came and went with similar contractions, and so went Saturday. Sunday morning came the exciting message that things were starting to get a bit more intense. Contractions had begun in earnest at 3.30am and S was now having regular contractions every five minutes. The midwife was due to arrive to monitor progress and I was told to prepare myself for ‘the call’. My Sunday was then spent pacing the flat! S sent another message in the late morning to say the midwife had been, it looked like labour was progressing and she would expect to get another call in the afternoon. S called me at 4pm to say her waters had just broke! I scurried around, got my bag and leapt into a taxi!
I arrived at the flat to find S dealing with the contractions well. You could feel the excitement in the room. This baby was on its way! Little B (at 15 months old) was being entertained by S’s mum, while A (Matilda’s daddy) was keeping an eye on everyone and seeming to be everywhere at once with his devotion to S apparent and his love of Little B shining. S continued having 5 minutes contractions and the midwife turned up again soon after. She checked to find S was 2cm dilated. Things were progressing, albeit slowly, progression is the key!
The next few hours meld into each other. Massaging S with clary sage, on her back, on her arms and on her beautiful bump. I could feel the contractions as they happened and tried to take some of the pain into my hands. S was brilliant, changing positions, standing, lying on her side, kneeling, pacing, coping beautifully with each contraction. She decided on gas & air to help deal with the pain. We rubbed her back. First me, then A, then me again. A came and went, looking after Little B, looking after all of us. Little B came into the room often to check on her mummy. Once assured that all was well and her mummy was still there, she left again. I found it so beautiful to see Little B joining in with this birth. Too young to really understand but one day her mummy will be able to tell her “you were there, you were with me while your sister was making her way into this world”.
S asked for morphine. She was starting to get tired from the contractions. After the morphine we left the room and let S rest a while with A. They had made a beautiful lasagne and I will remember that meal as long as I live! It was a chance for me to speak with the midwife, to talk about what we did for a living, to set a boundary for us and form an alliance. It was a good opportunity for me to help her realise that I wasn’t there to tell her what to do. After all, my allegiance was to S, and S had asked me for support, not asked me to tell the midwife what to do.
More hours, more massage, more pacing, bouncing, kneeling, swaying. S was beautiful, coping so well, never moaning.
The midwife checked her again at 9pm. She was 4cm. The midwife told her she was progressing but very slowly. I thought “Brilliant! Progression!”. More morphine was given, more pacing, more swaying, more massaging. S was getting tired. The midwife asked if S was focused on a home birth, or just a vaginal birth. S didn’t know any more. The midwife left the room and it gave us some time to talk. I told her that the midwife was going to tell her we could go to hospital. We could go and get an epidural and she could sleep. S told me she knew. She knew this was coming. She was getting so tired. With tiredness comes the doubt and with doubt things become less clear. We would see how things went and in a couple of hours we would check again and if there was no progression, S would transfer to hospital.
S was checked again at 10.30pm. The midwife said she was still 4cm. Plus the baby had her hand against her face. This was why it was so hard. The time had come to go to hospital.
It was the night of an old firm match. Celtic vs Rangers in the football. Many many fights, drunk people, accidents. The ambulance took 45 minutes to appear. S continued to cope with contractions. I was amazed with her stamina. She never complained, she just swayed, breathing deeply, brilliantly.
The transfer to hospital and handover seem in my mind to have taken forever. All S wanted was an epidural but there was so much to do beforehand! Foetal monitoring, new midwives, new questions. I gave the new midwife the birth plan. “Whatever happens”, I said, “she has written it all in her birth plan. I think you should know her wishes”.
The doctor came in and examined S. Still 4cm but she was happy that the baby was happy and she thought that with an epidural we could give it a couple of hours and see what happened. Only one problem – the anaesthetist was going to go in for a C-section soon. S could have a CS now but the dr was saying she could try for a normal delivery. S considered a CS. Everyone left the room except for S, A and myself. A told S that he would agree with whatever she wanted but he thought she should try an epidural first. I agreed with him. I truly believed that S was struggling so much because she was so tired. Contractions had started at 3.30am and it was now 12am the next day! Just a bit of rest, a little sleep, and it would all seem so different. S agreed.
The anaesthetist was too busy to come. He had gone into surgery. S was left with no morphine, just gas and air. Just waiting. She was brilliant. The same as the last 20 hours. No complaining, no shouting, just breathing. I looked at her face. She was so tired. So so tired. I wished that I could just take some of that pain, just for a little while, so she could get some sleep. We tried some different positions. A was brilliant. He was so in love with S and right then his love was so apparent he could have been wearing a flashing badge saying “I love this woman!”. He held her hand, held her face, kissed her, stroked her skin, made her feel loved, kept her calm. I sat to the side and tried to blur into the background; there if needed, but not needed right then.
The monitor had slipped a couple of times and the baby’s heartbeat was not registering properly. The doctor came back in and announced that the baby was in distress! The monitor had slipped, I said, and so did the midwife. The doctor stayed for another contraction and was not happy with the trace. S was exhausted, A was worried for his wife, and the option of a C-section was given again. Less of an option, they weren’t happy with the heartbeat. It was time for S and A to decide. They agreed to go for the CS. 23 hours after contractions started, S went in to the operating theatre. A looked so scared, so worried for her. I was left in the labour room. Time to pack up our things and wait.
I was moved to another room and waited. A came out of the operating room, Matilda was born! I could have cried! I didn’t, I think I knew if I cried then that the tiredness that was burning around the edges would creep in and I wouldn’t stop crying or I would fall asleep! He looked so happy. The face of a new father. So relieved that S was OK, so happy that Matilda was here. She was here! She looked like Little B. She had hair. She was fine. Everyone was OK.
I waited for S to come out of theatre and met Matilda. She was already on the breast, she hadn’t moved since being put there. What a brilliant start to breastfeeding! S looked tired but happy. Photos were taken. I stayed for a while, I wanted to make sure S was OK. I crept away at 4.30am, 25 hours after contractions had started, 90 minutes after Matilda was born. Welcome to the world Matilda!
My first doula birth. A life-changing experience and one I will never forget.
Thank you, S, A, Little B, S’s mum, and of course, Matilda ☺ x
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Moving to Glasgow was a turning point to me. I met David (not in Scotland, at a conference in Krakow!). He moved to Glasgow to be with me. We got married. We were insanely lucky to have Thomas. I met mummy friends. I became a doula. I met doula friends. I discovered photography and through that I found blogging and suddenly I found myself with a whole new set of friends. So many things have happened to me!
So, one word, Scotland. It was going to be Glasgow. But Glasgow is just one part of this amazing country which I am privileged to live in. Most of my photos are Glasgow-based, but there are a few which aren't :)
Queens Park on Glasgow's South Side. 5 minutes away from me, many many many many hours spent here during the summer on maternity leave. Still a great place to wander around. Churches, a lake (sorry - a pond, so I'm told), a duck pond, the Glasshouse (free soft play and plants and reptiles), two play parks, a viewing point, tennis courts. Fabulous.
My doula friends. There aren't many of us in the West of Scotland. These ladies have made me feel like I am really part of something special. From all walks of life we have come together for one reason, to support women and their families. I love them.