And then there were five.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

I first joined in with the Me and Mine project because I wanted to record our life together in gradual milestones, not just the high days and holidays; I wanted to be able to look back and see those gradual changes; the evolution of babies to toddlers and toddler to remarkably tall little girl.  And then we found out that our family was going to be growing again and our monthly photos seemed to take on a whole new significance, all counting down to this moment.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

They aren’t the best of photos; but then this wee boy didn’t exactly give us a lot of time to start planning for beautiful photos, and then even the best of the weather this week has been cold and grey with a brisk breeze that makes me struggle to think of it as August, so no one really wanted to spend too much time running around outside, and even the judicious application of dolly mixture apparently couldn’t lift Kitty’s mood far from ‘over exhausted woe’, but they are and will always be incredibly special and treasured to me.

They are the very first photos of us all as a family of five.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

And they are also the reason why taking our monthly photos matters, because without Me and Mine I’m sure I would have put off taking them, waiting on a perfect day or nicely matching clothes, or some other sort of excuse and suddenly it would have been Christmas and I’d have a computer full of photos of our girls; our beautiful son, perhaps even the occasional one with H in, but not the pictures that show our boy at four days old, completely and utterly adored, and completely and utterly oblivious to what’s going on around him as long as there are Mummy cuddles.

They are the epitome of treasured everyday ordinary; in as much as anything this week can be considered ordinary of course. And besides, with a bit of luck and a smidgen of sunshine I can continue my quest for the perfect family portrait next month.

But for now, this is my slightly bigger little family, in August.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

 

dear beautiful

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Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Well I did say I was quite determined not to be writing a 41 week update that didn’t include a baby didn’t I.

And perhaps that determination paid off.  Or, well, there are a few other candidates for successful methods of natural induction, but let’s begin at the beginning and Monday afternoon.  It was raining.  Pouring down in fact without the slightest hint of a break in the cloud.  We were tired after a busy weekend and the girls were at that point where you just have to leave the house.  So we bundled them into waterproofs and I took them down to Upton House with my Dad (who was staying with us on his way back south from a 50th birthday party of a family friend) while H stayed at home to enjoy a couple of hours in which he wasn’t being used as a climbing frame or having his head sat on.

The gardens at Upton were beautiful as always, spectacularly soggy, and the emptiest I’ve ever seen them, but once you’re wet you’re wet and we had a lovely time wandering round at Elma and Kitty pace, looking for fish in the mirror pool and trying to decide whether the beanstalks were tall enough for Jack to climb if they were taller than both Mummy and Grandpa, culminating in a trip to the tea shop for a well earned cream tea and an ice cream for Kitty.

And tea is perhaps where it all began, if you discount going for a nice long walk as a way to get things going which I shall do, if only on the basis that it’s mentioned in all of the pregnancy books and therefore must by very definition be a complete old wives’ tale. But tea, tea could be an option; the day before I went into labour with Elma I’d taken Kitty out for a very special last Mummy and Kitty tea and it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if my children are extremely responsive to the lure of cake.

Meanwhile back at home, H appears to have been nesting. He’d washed up lunch and then decided that he might as well assemble the baby’s new Tripp Trapp, even if it wasn’t going to be needed for a little while.  Well the last time he built a Tripp Trapp from scratch I was already in early labour, the penny just hadn’t quite dropped yet.

It was all brewing into a perfect storm. And as the storm outside was getting ever wetter and my raincoat gave up doing up over the bump several months ago the explorers at Upton happily accepted an offer of a golf buggy ride back up the drive to the car park. Shades of a tractor ride, I thought with a wry smile and clung tightly to Elma as we bumped along on the very back of the buggy.

But I think the real tipping point was Kitty.  I’ve been asking her each morning whether she thought ‘Baby Pinky’ was coming today, and she’s always said no, so while she was curled up in my lap for a cuddle I asked her to tell Pinky it was time to be born.

“Okay; where’s her mouth?” she asked, and when I pointed to somewhere vaguely on the south side of the bump she lent in and said most determinedly,

“Come On Baby Pinky!”

And amidst everyone’s giggles and smiles I asked again;

“So is Baby Pinky going to be born today?”

“YES!”

No more than five minutes later, I felt an oddly familiar scrunching sort of pop feeling, and my waters went.

I’ve never started labour like that before.

One quick call to the hospital later and we were popping out the door “just for an hour or so” just to check that it was my waters and with a naive certainty that we’d be back. We didn’t even take the hospital bag.

Note to all pregnant girls: Always take the hospital bag.

Warwick Hospital isn’t very far away and it was no time before we were installed in the same bay of the assessment ward as we’d been for Kitty and Elma, and popped on a monitor to see what was going on.  The good news was that it was definitely my waters, the not so good news was that there was a trace of meconium in them; rather than going home to wait for things to get started I wasn’t going anywhere, and rather than 24 hours to get going I had an hour.

Well I tried. I bounced on a birth ball while I was on the monitors, did as much positive visualisation as I could manage, and waddled up and down the corridors whenever I could while H went home to retrieve the all important bag, feed the family and settle the girls for the night.

He bet me a dolly mixture (just the one) that it would all have done something but another examination put him in my debt to the tune of one small pink sweet and as Monday crossed into Tuesday we moved to plan B; a syntocin drip to induce labour, and a side order of exceptional grumpiness from someone who had really rather planned on spending as much of her labour at home as possible.

But life is what it is and I understood the reasons why I needed to stay, even if I didn’t particularly like them.  It also helped that we had a truly fabulous midwife. Zoe was very clear that while  I may well be on a drip and may well need to be monitored constantly that did not mean under any circumstances that we were going to tie me down to the bed (her words, give or take).  I’d already had my early monitoring bouncing on a gym ball and for the whole rest of my labour I could move to whatever position seemed most helpful, I got to come off the monitors if I needed to pop to the bathroom and if the biggest downside was having to pre-announce a plan to move, well that’s not exactly the biggest hardship.

And then this is the part where it gets a bit fuzzy.  I know I started with just the drip and H squeezing my hand during each contraction (which oddly helped me to relax into them far more than my squeezing his hand), and then after a little while they got a bit more intense and I put the TENS machine on.  I remember saying that I thought I might be ready for the gas and air and asking H and Zoe whether they thought it was time; H said “yes, four contractions ago at least” and Zoe had already got it out of the wall and set it up ready in the previous contraction.

I remember Zoe’s continued confidence that I would deliver on her shift and desperately hoping she was right (she was, and we even gave her an hour to write up her notes!).  I remember being examined after about four hours on the drip, steeling myself to being told I’d only made it to 3 or 4 cm and being hugely relieved to hear 7. And less than half an hour later 7 must have become 10 because the pushing started whether I wanted it to or not.  I may not have bitten the bed this time but I did clamp down on the mouthpiece for the gas and air hard enough to give myself an achy jaw the next day.

And then he was here; and we were holding our beautiful son.

And that’s the start of a whole new story.  The story of our beautiful boy.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

As for his name, he has one, and has since he was a few moments old.  I never know how clear it is that Kitty and Elma are not our daughters’ real names.  We decided when Kitty was born to take a leaf out of Daphne du Maurier’s book and say simply that she (and later her sister) have beautiful and unusual names, and while our boy’s names may be a little more commonly occurring, their meanings are special and they suit him down to the ground.  We’re still working on a blog pseudonym though, given that “Pinky” just doesn’t seem to quite work for a baby boy, so if you have any great suggestions, let me know!

And I can’t go without saying a massive thank you all for all your comments and messages for our family and our lovely boy, we treasure each and every one of them, and it means the world to me that he’s being welcomed with such joy!

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Joining in with {this moment} – A Friday ritual. A single photo capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savour and remember.

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Kitty and Elma would like you all to know that they are proud big sisters to a baby brother who arrived safe and sound yesterday morning weighing in at an impressive 9lb 9oz, all long legs and utterly gorgeous.

I’ll be back to tell a little bit more of the story of our Little Bump but for now here is a little peek at the most beautiful baby boy that ever there was.

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I know you’ve seen Kitty’s pictures of our trip up to the windmill last week but it’s far to lovely a place for my camera not to have been pressed into action too.

It’s the first time I’d taken the girls up there on my own and I’d imagined that they’d both walk up what is a very gentle and not very long slope from where we park the car without any problems at all.  But that’s what happens when you plan for toddlers; Elma decided that she wanted to be carried and Kit started out being entirely unconvinced about the merits of windmills rather than play parks.

But when we got there and found that we had it entirely to ourselves, and the sunshine started to work its magic and the breeze took away the cobwebs and the cumulative effects of a morning spent running errands and going to the supermarket.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

The windmill is basically in the middle of a farmer’s field, with an official track up to it that opens up to an apron of turf with the windmill at the back and a poster board about Roman settlements at the other that’s just perfect for being a windmill yourself if; or perhaps it was a helicopter!

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Both girls have a complete fixation with this wall; it’s nice to perch on, but what they really really want to do is toddle along the top until we get to the point where I can’t reach over the nettles to hold their hands anymore, then turn around and toddle back.  Kitty doesn’t really need to hold my hand anymore but I think she likes it as part of a wall walking ritual, and anything that even vaguely encourages Elma to keep half a grip on something or someone a bit more stable is always a a good thing.

And that’s before we got to the windmill itself; every time we go there we talk about how it used to work; how the sails used to spin around, and even (thanks to a mostly hulled and discarded ear of corn found on the path) try to re-enact it – although I think there was quite a lot more milling of flour and a good deal less running

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

even if you are pretending to be milling while whizzing around in the sort of way that makes me certain that we’re not all going to get out of it staying on our feet at all times.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

 

But of all my photos of that visit, I think this might just be my favourite;

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

My lovely eldest girl, perched in the sunshine.  She’s been going through a phase of pulling funny faces whenever she sees the camera, and if she doesn’t want to pose for a photo that’s completely OK by me; I love the candid shots that I get when she’s focussing on something or someone else; but every now and then I get a smile and I treasure it.

living arrows

In the last couple of weeks I’ve been answering the phone to my father with “it’s just me, no baby!” and I’m rather beginning to feel like I should be starting blog posts that way.  Suffice to say I’m still here, still pregnant, still working my way through my own personal list of natural methods of induction.

Kitty I suspect is finding this waiting rather trying.  First of all we told her that the baby was coming in the summer, then it got hot and there was no baby, and we told her that the baby was coming in August, and if I think it’s been August for ages imagine what it must feel like when you’re three.  If the Little Bump hangs on for too much longer she’s going to seriously start doubting that there’s ever going to be a baby.

So our lovely eldest girl has had a bit of a trying week.  The sort of week where the combination of being over tired from nursery and the uncertainty of everything except that things are on the cusp of change had rather brought on a pixie day and she needed a little cherishing and a lot of sleep.

And so if last week’s ordinary moment was a snatched hour with Elma, this week it was Kitty’s turn.  It stemmed from rather the same cause; she’s spent a good two hours fast asleep in the crook of H’s arm as he snooze-watched the cricket while Elma and I pottered around, and when we got to the end of supper we had one small daughter practically falling asleep into her mash, and another looking remarkably bright eyed, awake, and making a bid for it to be a pudding night.

We could have sent her up to bed with her sister; tucked her in with stories and kisses, and she’d probably have fallen asleep again fairly quickly, but where would be the fun in that.

So we loudly proclaimed it to be bedtime, and I scooped Elma up and took her upstairs to be pyjamaed and snuggled to sleep in my arms while the noises off from downstairs rather suggested that Kitty was being enticed into some serious tidying up and hoovering time on the basis of a promised pudding.  And by the time I came down again she and H had cleared supper, put the toys away, hoovered up the detritus of the day, and laid out three beautiful slices of cheesecake.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Perched up on her chair next to me, wielding a fork and chattering ten to the dozen she was her very loveliest self.  It was a treat to H and me to jointly give her our attention without distraction, and as an eldest myself I remember how special it feels to do something that’s just for you, something that compensates a little for being held to that higher standard of our expectations for a three year old; to be just a daughter and, for once, not primarily a big sister.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

We talked about cheesecake, about how much Kitty likes going to the butchers with H because he will buy cheesecake and Mummy always says no, about her friend’s pirate party, and about the fun she had with Grandpa at the play park when he visited because he can lift her onto the zip wire.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

And when the clocked ticked around, and we got to a whole hour past her bedtime, we snuck upstairs, tiptoeing past a sleeping Elma, and I tucked her into bed and sat as she drifted off to sleep; a suddenly so small girl in flowery brushed cotton pyjamas curled up clutching my hand as she would a teddy.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

She’s going to be a big big sister before we realise (and very much hopefully by this time next week), and more than that she’s going to be the best big big sister; but life is going to change and be a bit crazy, at least at the start, and so I’m glad to have had that extra time with her; a moment for us both to remember on the pixie days.

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Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Joining in with {this moment} – A Friday ritual. A single photo capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savour and remember.

To see more, check out the comments to Soulemama

 

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Well here we are. 40 weeks.  With two previous pregnancies hitting 42+1 and 41+4 respectively I knew in my heart of hearts that I would be here, writing this update in the confident expectation that I’ve got near to a couple of weeks to go, but however much I told myself that there was always a smidgen of hope.

Hope that this time my body would get the message a little sooner, that the baby would arrive naturally and easily in perfect timing without getting me into this final two week wait.

And I know as I’m writing that there are people who would move heaven and earth to be in this position; whose longing for a baby is such that they’d take 42 weeks, an induction, a c-section or any of the rest of the labour horror stories in a heartbeat, and I’m determined not to take any of it for granted.  But I think that you can acknowledge that the last two weeks are hard, without diminishing the joy and anticipation I feel about this Little Bump, in a way that perhaps is hard to explain to anyone who hasn’t been there.

For me, the last two weeks are when the worries come sliding back in; is the baby still head down? will he or she be born safely? am I going to need to be induced again? just how big is this baby going to be? is the baby moving enough? is the baby moving too much? what if it gets tangled in its cord? It’s everything you ever wish you hadn’t read on google and everything your subconscious can drag up in the quietness of an empty house all rolled into one.

And you’re big and you’re tired and you don’t sleep very comfortably any more and you can’t pick things up off the floor.  It’s pretty much the perfect storm once you add hormones into the mix, no wonder I spent one afternoon hiding under the duvet sulking when I was expecting Kitty.

From a rational point of view I have absolutely nothing to be worrying about; when we saw the midwife last week the baby was doing exactly what it should be doing, with the small exception of lying back to back which whilst unhelpful is not a fundamental problem.

I think the baby tracks my movements; when I wake up in the morning I can feel feet up on my right hand side suggesting that we have a nice head down baby, spine on the left, perfect for early labour, and then as soon as I start getting up and on with the day I think that spine starts to slide around to the back.  I’m spending as much time standing or on all fours as I can at the moment but I do have to drive my car, nurse Elma, cuddle Kitty and occasionally it’s even nice to sit down for a while.  I’m hoping this will be this baby’s ‘thing’; with Elma she just didn’t engage at all until I was actually in labour but her positioning was pretty good; perhaps the Little Bump has nailed engagement but decided to skip out on the positioning lesson?

I’m still getting plenty of Braxton Hicks contractions, and occasionally a little run of them that makes me think something might be about to happen, but to no avail, and there’s been nothing else to suggest that this Little Bump wants to put in an appearance any time soon.  Even two sessions of acupuncture (lovely though they were) and a sweep from the midwife (not even slightly lovely) don’t seem to have done much to get us further forward.

With Elma I gave birth 24 hours after my second acupuncture session and I’ll admit my inner science geek was kind of expecting to repeat the experiment and get the same results, I just have to keep reminding myself that when I was this pregnant with Elma I hadn’t even had one acupuncture session or a sweep or anything, and while I am overdue, I’m not that overdue.

Yet.

The truth is that I’m ready. I’m ready to take on labour, not exactly to embrace the pain because I’m not quite that crazy, but with each of the stronger Braxton Hicks I remember that I know how to do this, that I can trust myself to do this, and that I want to do this.  I’m definitely ready to be done with feeling cumbersome, and fielding ‘helpful’ comments in the supermarket/playground/anywhere outside my house about how I must be really ready to give birth now (yes, yes I really am).

And more than that I’m ready to meet this tiny new person and learn all about them, to welcome them into our family and watch them take the place in our hearts that was always theirs since the stars began.

 

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

 

If you’ve ever seen some of my outtakes from my Me and Mine shoots over on Instagram you’ll know that my biggest challenge in recent months has not so much been getting everyone to either smile at the same time or even just look at the camera (from the results you’ll know that I’ve clearly given up on both of those lofty aims), as keeping the girls the right side of the camera.

It seems there’s every danger that left to our own devices it wouldn’t just be Mummy that disappears behind the lens more often than not, but the ladies too.  I’d say it would leave just H in the shot but as his comfort zone for appearing in photos generally includes holding one of his children we might just be about to move into landscapes and still life because these daughters of mine are getting more and more into their photos.

They both know how to press the shutter on the big camera; Kitty wields the remote trigger with a confident concentration, and we’re starting to have to have more than one conversation about why it is really really important that we do not touch, lift, move or otherwise attempt to abscond with Mummy’s big camera.

But my phone is relatively robust and so every now and then, and usually when we’re on grass, I’ll hand it over to see what the world looks like through Kitty’s eyes.

Her earliest pictures were all fuzzy and sideways, usually taken while she was moving, and usually including a pink smudge from at least one finger, but she’s definitely getting there; she’s remembering to hold the phone at both ends, the fingers are if not disappearing, at least being relegated to the edges, and if she does still tend to take 30 photos of the same thing before moving on; well that might be a case of ‘monkey see, monkey do’; I’ll plead the privilege against self incrimination on that one.

So for today, for a change, and as a nice distraction from the fact that I don’t have any pictures of a cute new baby to show you; may I present our afternoon walk to the windmill according to Kitty, or at least the part of it where she got to play with my phone while Elma and I had a little cuddle and a little top of Mama milk to soothe some incoming teeth:

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

And while I’ve edited in terms of numbers (heavily – she really loved taking pictures of that wall!), they’re otherwise all straight out of my phone.  I’m seriously tempted to have them printed for her; I think she’d get rather a kick out of being able to say “I took that photo”, I know I would have when I was little.  But the one that I want to print for me as much as for her is the companion to the only photo in this post that I took, and should probably be titled:

“My mother, multitasking”

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Well what else is a giant baby bump for if not to rest your nursing toddler’s feet on while you take a picture!

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