What Happened in September 2020? (Monthly Review)

It’s the beginning of a new month so time to look back at the last month for my monthly review. How did your September go? What did you get up to?

September Review

The Month in Bullets

  • Jaxon went back to school. Following the schools closing due to the pandemic, I was nervous about him going back to school. I know he needed to do it and he needed the structure that comes with going to school (and spending time with other people) but sending him back when the infection rate is still quite high has been making me a little anxious. So far he’s been back for about 3 weeks and it seems to be going okay. His school are doing a great job to keep the students as safe as they can.
  • Rex finally got back to his birth weight which was good and that meant that we could be discharged from the Midwifery Team.
  • The boys have been getting out and doing longer walks so that’s been interesting. One week they walked from our house to Danish Camp at Willington and then the following week they walked from our house to the River at Great Barford so we could meet for a picnic. Both have been good as Jaxon’s been out and not in front of a screen. Chris has taken Rex with him which has given me time to do things around the house or just chill out and not be on “duty”.

Books Read

With all the I’m up in the night at the moment (or feeding during the day), I decided reading might be a better option rather than watching TV on my iPhone or iPad. I subscribed to Kindle Unlimited for a month and have already made it worth it by reading all these books (when I looked at a paperback of a book I wanted to read and that was already heading towards £10 for one book)

  • Secrets at the Loch (Loch Lannick Book 5) by Hannah Ellis
  • Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow by Jessica Redland
  • Making Wishes at Bay View (Welcome to Whitsborough Bay) by Jessica Redland
  • New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms by Jessica Redland
  • Finding Hope at Lighthouse Cove by Jessica Redland
  • A Cornish Summer Holiday (Little Duck Pond Cafe, Book 11) by Rosie Green
  • Log Fires & Toffee Apple Cake at the Little Duck Pond Cafe: (Little Duck Pond Cafe, Book 12) by Rosie Green (in progress)

Series Watched

  • Long Way Up
  • Long Way Round
  • All Creatures Great and Small (I read a sample of the book before watching the TV series so was quite pleased that so much of the book plot is in the TV show)
  • 911 and 911: Lone Star
  • The Great British Bake Off (I’m excited that they managed to come up with a solution to make it work even during COVID-19. There’s an article on the Radio Times website talking about it. You can read it here).

Films Watched

YouTube Channels Watched

I ended up watching a lot of YouTube videos as they are often bite-sized chunks rather than full programs that I might not have had the attention span for. These are the channels I’ve been watching.

With Jaxon, we’ve been watching the walkthroughs of Paper Mario: The Origami King by ZachScottGames which has been good fun to watch him get all excited about it. (If it should interest you the whole playlist of Paper Mario is here).

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Dear Rex – His (Dramatic?) Birth Story – Part 3

Newborn baby wrapped in a brightly coloured blanket

If you’ve landed here and not ready Part One or Part Two, you might want to go back and start there.

From here, it goes a bit fuzzy in my brain, I have a conversation with Nicola about whether it’s time to call Chris. She says yes and between contractions, I tell Chris he needs to come. I’m sure in my head there was a more wordy response with clearer instructions but this was all I could spit out. I imagine him jumping out of bed like it was on fire, getting dressed one-handed while ringing my parents and trying not to wake Jaxon. Then going downstairs to make a coffee (to wake up after his disco nap) then standing near the front door fidgeting while waiting for Mum and Dad to arrive. He arrives at the hospital around 1 am. (see it was fuzzy, I know roughly it was after midnight and definitely not 2 am but could have been anywhere in between that).

I think he was expecting to get there and the baby would be crowning or
something like that, but no it wasn’t quite that dramatic at this point.
While we’re waiting for him to arrive, I have a conversation with Nicola about painkillers and can I have something at least until I can have gas and air. Nicola went to find the doctor but she’d been called into theatre and so we were waiting for her to come back to approve any pain relief. I’m put on gas and air and then I’m offered an epidural, which I desperately agree to. I have to wait for the anaesthetist to come and explain the risks and what’s going to happen. Somehow between contractions and the fact that my glasses have been taken off my face (Chris did this because they kept sliding down my nose!), I’m then asked to sign my consent form, which I end up doing with one eye closed and the other kind of squinting to make sure it’s somehow legible! Nicola offers to write my name and date it for me if I’m happy for her to do (which I am because I’m not even sure I could spell my own name at this point!).

The doctor comes to do the epidural and I had to sit on the bed at a funny angle. I thought it would be like when I was given the spinal block for the C-Section which I thought I could do. However, either it wasn’t the same position or because I was contracting it was really uncomfortable. It seemed to take a very long time to get the epidural in. At one point, I remember saying to Chris that I couldn’t do it and I needed to lie down or move because it was so uncomfortable. I think at this point too, I was holding Chris’s hand with one hand and then holding Nicola’s hand too. I’m not sure if it was this point or when that was (it just came back to me now and I think this is when it was). Also, by the conversations around me, I’m not 100% sure it was working the way it was supposed to.

Nicola, the midwife, had said to take a deep breath and then imagine blowing out candles but rather than a quick blowing out it needed to be a low blowing out – probably a rubbish explanation but it made sense at the time and I just kept relighting and blowing out those candles in my mind. This worked with the gas and air too.

Trying to remember what happened and in what order is a little challenging so I might get it wrong. I was told I could lie back down again and get comfortable (or as much as I could be comfortable!) at one point I was told to move back across the bed, apparently, I’d wriggled so much that I was pretty much on the edge of the bed and they were surprised I hadn’t fallen off! At another point, I kept being told to try and breath normal air instead of the gas between contractions but I was so far away with the fairies that by the time I’d realised I’d finished a contraction and tried to take the gas mouthpiece out of my mouth to breath, the next contraction was already starting and so it was easier not to do it. In the end, Chris was told by the midwife to hold it and to try and take it away in between if he could.

Around 4/4:30, I’m told that with each contraction, Rex’s heartbeat keeps dipping and they need to get him out soon. I keep trying to push but it’s not working or not working enough, so it’s decided I’m being taken to theatre for a forceps delivery but need to be prepared that I could end up having a C-Section (it’s actually possible this was when I signed that consent form and couldn’t really read it! As I say some bits are fuzzy!). I have to leave the gas and air there and cope until we get to theatre. I’m sure at this point I was squeezing Chris’s hand really tightly! At one point, Chris is taken by Nicola to go and get into scrubs so that he can be there for the next bit. He had to change into scrubs when I went for my C-Section so I was aware of where he’d gone and that he wouldn’t be long. We arrive in theatre and I get moved onto another bed and have to shuffle down the bed so that they can get my feet up into stirrups. My epidural is now topped up so that I’m numb from the waist down. It could have been Nicola or someone else but they use this cold spray stuff to see how numb I am by spraying down my arm and then down my leg. Well, it’s obviously done it’s job, because I’m able to have a proper conversation with Chris for the first time since 6 pm. We talk about What he and Jaxon got up to after dropping me off, and then what they did at bedtime along with what Chris got up to between Jaxon’s bedtime and having a nap. Well we’ve been chatting, various things happened around us and I’m told it’s time to push. I’m not sure how I’m supposed to know it’s time to push, given that I no longer feel in the contractions. If I remember correctly, Nicola was watching the monitor, and was able to tell me when the next contraction was happening. I think I pushed three or four times with the forceps and that was it Rex was born.

I think when we got to theatre, I did ask Nicola if we could do skin to skin if it was possible. Rex was placed on top of my chest (just after this picture) and I don’t know whether it was the relief or adrenaline or something but my arms were so shaky!

Now I imagine, it wasn’t actually that simple, and I imagine that various other things did happen. As I say, lots of it is fuzzy in my mind, and maybe some of it is a bit rose-tinted. Throughout the whole evening, I felt alone, but at least to start with, I was able to rationalise why I had to be there by myself (to a degree). As the pain got worse, it was at that point that I began to struggle with why Chris couldn’t be there. In the grand scheme of things, I was really fortunate. I’ve heard some bad stories recently, including one where the father missed the birth of his child because he’d ran to the building and his temperature read as a fever rather than because he’d been running. By the time it had come down and he’d been allowed in, his child had already been delivered.

After everything was finished in theatre, we were moved through to recovery. We were putting recovery for about an hour or so and with all the crazy being over, both Chris and I had a little nap. When I was told, it was almost time to be moved to the ward, Chris went home, so that he could take over from Mum and Dad. I was moved to the ward and then met another midwife. The midwife on the ward was a little bit more formidable and to be honest a little scary. She gave me all the information about where the toilet was and where to get food but also that I need to wear a mask when I left my cubicle. I almost apologetically asked that although I knew it wasn’t her job, could someone get me some breakfast as I haven’t eaten since dinner the night before. She was surprised that hadn’t been given anything in recovery and said that I should’ve been given tea and toast there. She asked me various questions like did I want white or brown bread, well honestly, it really didn’t matter as long as it filled a hole lol. I did have snacks in my bag that I could have had but at this point I wasn’t entirely sure I could get myself out of bed.

Once I’d had my toast, I did my best to get comfortable. I was going to need to get out of bed if I need to change the nappy or take myself to the toilet but first of all we needed to try breastfeeding again. While Rex and I had been in recovery, we tried to breastfeed but I think like me he was tired and the idea of feeding was just a bit too much of a challenge. Because of the nature of Rex’s birth and the fact that he had been quite stressed during the delivery, we were being kept in for observation for 24 hours. Every few hours someone to come and ask how he was feeling, how I was feeling, and take various stats like Temperature and BP. (This would continue through the night which was hard work because just to get settled and back to sleep it would then be time to be woken up again and go through it all).

At this point, I was grateful for technology again. During the lockdown, my Grandad learnt to use FaceTime on his iPad and has often been using it to make calls rather than the telephone. So just after 9 am my phone rang and it was Grandad, I was really excited that I’ve got to introduce him to his newest great-grandchild so soon. Well at that point he was still Baby Johnson… we were struggling to decide on a name even though Jaxon we’d known right away lol. I think Grandma had been feeling left out because halfway through the call she appeared in the background. I’d been a little worried about how we were going to get to see the Great-Grandparents and still maintain social distancing etc.

I managed to nap between observations and kept trying to feed on both sides although the right seemed to be coming along much easier than the left. I’m encouraged to get up and move as well as take myself to the toilet etc. I manage to tick all my boxes so that I should be able to go home, just need to tick Rex’s now.

I have to have various extra bits that I didn’t have with Jaxon including a Tinzaparin injection. Apparently, various flags in my medical record put me at risk of a DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis) so I had to have an injection while in hospital and then take it once a day for 10 days. Oh, and they would be injections at home too. I guess it came in handy that I’d given Heparin injections in the past, just needed to get over giving them to myself. (Mum was there when I did my first one at home and sang Always Look on the Bright Side of Life to me – I just imagined that every time and that definitely helped!)

We stayed until Sunday lunchtime and when I was told we were going home I couldn’t ring Chris quick enough. I just wanted my own bed, I wanted to hug Jaxon and I wanted to get a reasonable chunk of sleep! My parents had come back to our house around 10am when it looked like I was going home so that they could be there when Chris needed to go (Mum is the host for their church Zoom call service at the moment so she really needed to be in one place to make sure it happened the way it should).

Chris took this picture of me on our way out of the hospital. He could have warned me right??

When Chris came to collect me, he had to bring the car seat up to the ward door and wait for a midwife to collect it from him. She would then bring the car seat to me so I could then put Rex in it. He was getting worked up about going in the car seat and I was getting flustered trying to make sure I had everything and not hold anyone up. In the end, it turned out that I’d left the little tag from Rex’s cot behind with his stats on. I realised this around Day 3 so as you can imagine it was more trauma then it needed to be! I had the changing bag and the Doona (We have a Doona so it’s car seat/buggy) and the midwife then wheeled my case and carried my bag to the door for Chris to then carry back to the car. Folding myself into the car was a little challenging but once I’d worked out the best way to do it, it got easier each time I went in the car.

Dear Rex – His (Dramatic?) Birth Story – Part 2

Newborn baby wrapped in a brightly coloured blanket

If you’ve landed here and not read Part One, head here to read that bit first.

After the second growth scan on the 20th July, it felt like the left hand really didn’t know what the right hand was doing. I’d been told to have the scan but when I got to the hospital, the ultrasound consultant had written on my notes that I didn’t need the scan. After discussing it with the sonographer, she did the scan anyway. With Chris not being allowed to attend, the last time he’d “seen” baby was the 20 week scan and last time he’d heard baby’s heartbeat was back at my 12 week scan. I decided I’d chance it and ask if I could have a scan picture. The sonographer said that by that point (36 weeks) baby is so big that it’s hard to get enough definition on the picture. She managed to get Rex at a certain angle and it was enough that we could identify the “landmarks” to know which way around he was and things like that.

Following my scan, the sonographer asked when I was seeing the doctor. To
which I explained that I wasn’t expecting to see the doctor, I’d just been sent
for the scan. She told me that I needed to see the doctor and so she was going to send me up to the Day Unit to wait there for the doctor. The Midwife on the Day Unit made sure I was okay and tried to get hold of the doctor. It turned out that the Doctor I’d seen after my ride in an ambulance was on duty that day so she was already aware of my case etc. The Doctor wanted me to chat to the consultant about birth options and so the midwife attempted to get me an appointment later in the week. In the end, the consultant took a glance over my notes, decided induction was possible and that it would be on my due date. Rex’s estimated weight was putting him around the same weight as Jaxon (Jaxon was 9lb 14.5oz when he was born). Clearly, I make big babies!

Due Date/Friday

The whole week had led up to Friday and what was going to happen. The action plan for who was having Jaxon when things were happening properly had been changed like three times and I was still not sure what was going on. But basically, unless Rex had shown up earlier, I was going into hospital to be induced. We knew that Rex was probably going to be big like his brother and we wanted to try and get him out safely without me having to have another C-Section. I guess a benefit of working from home due to Covid-19 was that even when Chris’s paternity leave had finished, he’d still be at home and able to assist with day to day stuff unlike with Jaxon where he had to go back to work quite quickly (thankfully Mum was on standby to assist then).

Back in March, I had discussed with the Birth Choices Midwife about having a VBAC delivery but once again I was flexible. Getting Rex out safely was the priority, if that meant I had to go for an emergency C-Section along the way then we would take it as it came.

Just before 6 pm on the Friday evening, Chris and Jaxon dropped me off at
the hospital. The info I’d received was a little muddled so I took my stuff
with me in case I was staying the night. On the phone, with the consultant, I’d been told one time and in my letter, I’d been told another. We went with the earlier one, figuring that I could always go for a wander or find somewhere to knit or read until they were ready for me. While I was in the hospital, the boys went for a walk around the river near the hospital just in case I would be coming home until the induction medication kicked in. Apparently, Chris had planned to just sit in the car but Jaxon decided they were going for a walk and Chris was happy to oblige as we’d all spent most of the day at home.

I arrived on the Delivery Ward and was told by the Senior Midwife that I was early and inductions aren’t normally started until 7 or 8 pm, so I told Chris to take Jaxon home. If they weren’t going to start me off until 8 pm it wasn’t fair to make Jaxon wait in the car for two hours! I was sent by the midwife to sit in the family room, while she figured out whether I could stay or not. At about 10-15 minutes later, Becky the Senior Midwife came to see me. Because of the previous C-Section when Jaxon was born, there’s a high chance I would have to stay in. Because of how the induction medication works, in a small number of cases, it can cause the contractions to be so strong that the previous C-Section scar can rupture. Therefore, I was going to be monitored just in case I was one of those unlucky few. The plan was that I would get given the gel stuff (prostaglandins) which are support to start the contractions and dilation etc. Then I’d go up to the maternity ward overnight, then I’d be brought back to delivery once things were progressing. If needed, they’d look at breaking my waters in the morning once the day shift took over. Also because of the previous C-Section, I was only going to be able to have one lot of gels, if it didn’t take we’d be on Plan B instead. At my last Midwife appointment, my Bishop’s Score had been at 4 so Becky was hopeful that the induction would almost be a final push of sorts rather than starting from scratch (Apparently a
6 or higher is waters breaking/baby is coming, so I was close just not close
enough).

I wasn’t kept waiting for long and was moved to a side room instead. A lovely midwife called Mhairi came to see me and she was getting me all assessed to see what order things were going to happen. Around 10 to 8, after being monitored for over an hour, I was given the gel. According to the CTG (Fetal monitoring), I had already been having contractions but they were quite far apart and I thought it was Rex wriggling rather than a contraction.

Digital screen displaying different groups of numbers. Including blood pressure and fetal movements

By 9 pm, I’d been taken off the monitor and was pottering around the room
and swaying through my contractions. I was keeping Mum and Chris posted via WhatApp but could have done with someone in person to chat to. I’d taken most of the rules in my stride and had understood the why but at this point, they were getting to me. Chris could go to the pub, he could go and play a team sport but couldn’t be in the hospital with me when I needed a cheerleader. I had made sure I had some TV and films on my iPad to watch so I started watching The American President. I’ve seen it hundreds of times so if I had to stop it or missed bits it would be okay.

Around 10 pm, I had a conversation with Chris, he wanted to go to bed as he
was quite tired but didn’t want to miss anything important. I told him to go to bed but leave his phone on loud so that I could call if I needed him. I then
had a similar conversation with Mum and Dad. They were on standby to go to our house and take over on Jaxon-duty when the time came. (At this point I’m not 100% how this fitted in with the rules, but to make sure Mum and Dad could be there as soon as we needed them they’d spent near enough 20+ weeks shielding/isolating at home to make sure they were ready and able to help. They are amazing!).

Also in the conversation with Mum, we discussed what would happen next. The information I’d been given was what would happen if nothing happened and I was still there in the morning. I think I missed anything about what happens when something DOES happens. Mum and I have a chat and I decide that at 10:30 I’ll go to the Nurses Station and find out what happening next. I’m told by the Midwife that I’ll be left until 2am (6 hours since the gel) and then we’d go from there. The contractions carry on but they are manageable if I keep moving. I tell Mum and Dad to go get some sleep. After all, 3-4 hours of sleep has got to be better than none (especially as the rest of the night would have been in our bed not their bed).

I watch out the window and potter around my cubicle for the next hour or so. I get into bed and figure I’ll give it a go and getting some sleep. I think I
dozed but I’m awake again before I know it. I wake up and wriggle to try and get comfortable and I have this feeling like I’ve wet myself. I’d read (or it might have been on a Mama Doctor Jones video) that to test between it being a bladder accident and your waters breaking, you have to lie down and then get back up again and see what happens, well as I was already lying down I figured I’d get just out of the bed. Well, nope I hadn’t wet myself and it wasn’t my waters. I was bleeding and I need a Midwife. Having not reached this point with Jaxon, I was really quite worried (but calm if that’s possible) – what if this was where it was about to go really wrong and Chris wasn’t here to be with me?

I’m asked to get back onto the bed so I can be assessed and it’s decided I’m
going to delivery. It’s heading towards Midnight at this point and I’m hoping
that Mum, Dad and Chris are getting at least some rest along with me worrying about what the blood is about – is it something wrong or is it straight forward and part of the process?

Through most of my contractions I’d been walking or swaying, and now I had to sit in a wheelchair to go up to the Delivery Suite, when I did have a
contraction, it was so uncomfortable that I practically jumped across the room. I get taken in the lift to the Delivery Suite and I’m handed over to a
different Midwife called Nicola who’s now going to look after me through the rest of my delivery.

And that’s Part Two…Part Three is coming tomorrow.

Dear Rex – His (Dramatic?) Birth Story – Part 1

I’ve tried to start this 3 or 4 times now. I start at 6 pm when Chris and Jaxon dropped me off at the hospital. Then I rewind it and try and include some of the lead-up. Then I come back to it and change it again. So let’s start with the lead-up… 

Newborn baby wrapped in a brightly coloured blanket

Now for sure back in December when I held the pregnancy test in my hand I did not expect to deal with being pregnant in a pandemic. With other things going on in our family, Chris and I were the only ones to know and we kept it to ourselves until February after the scan. It was so hard! I wanted to tell my Mum so badly!

Jaxon’s Clever Counter

Chris created this for our announcement. Whereas with Jaxon’s announcement, I’d had the idea for weeks, with Rex I had no ideas what to do. Chris came up with this so the code on the left side of the laptop screen, it displays “Jaxon’s Clever Counter” which reads “187 sleeps until Christmas Baby” (and actually, in the end, it was only one sleep out!). On the right-hand screen, there’s a google search about “How to be a good big brother” along with our Google Photos with the scan picture (second row down and second in from the left). When we sent it via WhatsApp to some of our family, it ended up compressed so some of the text wasn’t so clear but it did the job once it was explained. Similarly, when it was uploaded to Facebook, it took a little explaining for those who couldn’t read the actual text etc in the picture.

So we fast forward a few weeks, I’m upgraded to “at-risk” and then within a week, schools close and the country is in lockdown. Along with this, partners are no longer allowed to attend scans or antenatal appointments. Also, rules are brought in around being present for the baby’s births too, but we have months before we get to that point so I try not to worry about it.

After a week of “lockdown learning” with Jaxon, Chris starts to cough and because of the rules and the fact he might have symptoms, we had to quarantine for 2 weeks. This means I have to postpone the 20 week scan and other appointments. After a bit of a headache, I manage to get my appointment re-booked and I go for my 20 week scan on the 6th April (I was almost 22 weeks by that point). It was weird going without Chris and then getting home and only being able to show him a photo. There had been rumours that you could video call your partner and show them that way but turned out it was only certain hospitals and Bedford was a No to the video call idea.

While the rest of the world sort of comes to a standstill, we muddle our way through the next few months and I go to appointments by myself and check-in with the midwife to make sure all is going well.

Two days after Jaxon’s birthday (Saturday), I wake up feeling rubbish. There is a longer version of the story and maybe I can come back to that on another post, but the short version is, I ring 111, they send an ambulance, my BP is higher than a kite and the paramedics decide to take me into the hospital to be seen. I’m taken straight to delivery which seemed straight but I’m well looked after. I am having a little freak out that at around 36 weeks they might have to get baby out early if there’s a problem. My BP comes down by itself within a few hours but whereas Chris came with me when something similar happened with Jaxon, he had to stay home this time. (here – turns out it was around 36 weeks then as well!). I’m discharged around 4:30/5 pm but have to come back the next day just for monitoring as well as having a growth scan to check nothing has changed. But again by myself.

There was a miscommunication about when the growth scan would be but it’s booked for the 20th July and that’s where we’ll start part 2 tomorrow.

Jaxon has a Great Adventure in Copenhagen Day 7

Back in the February half term, we went to Copenhagen for a few days. Having been in the summer too, we were excited to see the city in a different season and visit new places. We were nervous about travelling when the COVID-19 Pandemic was getting worse around us. (The first case in Denmark was reported a week after we’d been there). Anyway, here’s what we got up to while we were there. All the posts from this series can be found here.

Day Seven

After breakfast, we checked out of the hotel but also put our cases in the luggage store so that we didn’t have to take them around with us this morning. Once that was sorted, we headed to Superkilen park again. It was a bit drizzly but Jaxon was still having a great time. This Octopus slide was from Japan (The name Blacksprutte translates as squid rather than Octopus). He loved exploring the different routes up and down.

This elephant slide came from Chernobyl which was kind of cool but maybe a little creepy too.

After a while, we headed to Frederiksberg C to get some lunch (this was the shopping centre I had visited on Monday). Jaxon and I had like a cross between a hot dog and a sausage roll from Fotex. It definitely seemed to be a popular choice. Chris went for a salad in the end.

While we ate our lunch in the shopping centre, we discussed what else we could do and decided that with our train tickets about to expire, it would make most sense to get to the airport and pass the time there rather than buy another ticket to get us to the airport later. First we headed back to the hostel to collect our cases and then started for the airport.

Once we got to the airport, we found some seating before going through passport control where we could pass some time. Then a bit later once we had a rough idea of our gate we moved in that direction and found some seating to watch the aeroplanes.

By the time we got back to the UK, it was getting later and later. Jaxon ate what remained of my Onsdagsnegl and then as he was getting crabby and tired, we ended up making him a little nest to snuggle in.. He’d done so well trying to keep up all day though. He had Chris’s coat as a blanket and my jumper as a pillow. I think my coat was also somewhere in the nest too.

It was lovely to visit Copenhagen again and with all the crazy that then kicked off in the weeks following our trip I’m so glad we took our family holiday in February this year.

All the posts from this series can be found here.