Today's big event is the emergence of the belly-button. This is the same belly-button that will get exposed in skimpy clothing, cause arguments about when to pierce it and maybe even be the main event in future belly dances....who knows where this belly-button will go.
Luckily Limi sleeps through most outings or she would have a warped sense of the outside world being all about lunch dates since she seems to have spent a good portion of her life so far curled up in a corner of a restaurant!
We celebrated Damien's birthday today and started to learn the art of juggling who gets to eat first. A. won this one. Think that I'll have to hone the one handed cutting and spearing to avoid endless cold meals.
Today was momentous, as Limi became an official person. We popped down to Fulham Town Hall to register her (only to find that we were meant to register her at Chelsea..oh hum). Anyway, once we have the birth certificates we can start applying for her collection of passports.
Being a Sossie (South African/ Aussie), born in England, she can apply for all three. Of course the Green Mamba has to be high on the list of priorities because you don't have to pay for a Indian visa (about the only perk that I've come across :)
Second midwife visit today. Limi has gained .5 kgs which takes her back to her birth weight of 3.3 kgs.
The midwife mistook me for an Aussie when she said: 'you Australian girls just get on with it!! You have excellent pain control.' A. was very proud of his county-women.
Anne came to visit with his South African tan (we felt like see through gecko's who have been inside all winter). We too, could have had such a tan if we hadn't been so badly organised and had Limi over the same time as their wedding! In fact the same day as their wedding! Seems a bit serendipitous that our birth text came through at exactly the moment that our 'telegram' was being read out. Gen leapt up and shouted 'It's a girl!' So Limi had a whole wedding party toasting her! Good start Limi!
We have the best deli/coffee shop in our street. It was our saviour when we were renovating and I predicted it would once again be there for us once we had a baby.
Not only would it provide some adult interaction for me on days when I just can't face another constant loop of 'twinkle twinkle little star' but it would also be somewhere A. could whisk Limi to on a Saturday morning to read a paper and give me a lie-in.....nudge, hint, wink etc.
The guys in the deli have all been waiting in anticipation for the emergence of this baby after watching the bump swell to impressive proportions. I think that there was even some betting involved. I managed to 'win' two free coffees for going due date + 11 days.
So, in the pic above we are enjoying our first relaxing stint at chez k.
Today was a bit of a slow starter – it seems that Lim has decided that the night is the best time to be active and spent last night from 2-4am wide awake. Still – she eventually went to sleep and we managed to have a lie in until around 9am before she started to wake up.
Below is a pic that A. snapped this morning of Lim and I getting an early morning lie-in after all the excitement of the 2am-4am energy rush!
Being the first Saturday since we got home and, incidentally, Limi’s 1-week birthday, we had our first round of visitors today. Gaurav and Alexa came by and gave Lim a wonderful soft Giraffe that plays the sounds of the African night-time watering hole! It basically has a backing track of insects, birds and bullfrogs which gets combined with other sounds to make various “mood” settings... Play (with gentle drums), Calm (with the odd snuffling warthog), Relax (with a babbling brook-type noise mixed in) all with a timer so it can turn itself off after half an hour....we might be wrestling it from Lim when she moves into her own room.
Later on Drazen and Sangeeta, our friends that live around the corner, dropped by bringing a slab of brie and red wine. Soft cheese at last!
On day 5 the midwife came to visit. In the UK you get two home visits from the midwife team.
Limi was weighed and had regained most of her birth weight. Newborns lose on average, five to ten percent of their birth weight in the first few days. this weight is usually regained in the second or third week. so limi weighing in at 3.25 kgs (birth weight was 3.3kgs) got us an A+.
Anyway, how wrong was I on wanting a puppy instead. She is completely delicious to be around and has given us a very gentle introduction to parenthood. we spent two nights in the hospital - in ward Bay B!! :) I had been dreading the hospital stay but it was actually quite fun, like a weird nocturnal, winter camp...slow moving women everywhere and an orchestra of cries. At least at all times of night there were people awake and going about the business of caring for mewling infants!
I had a cubicle next to the window with a great view, especially when the snow started to fall.
There are four 'nursery' wards at C&W and in each ward there are 8 'cubicles', sectioned off by bright blue curtains. The occupants change throughout your stay but I was in for most of the time with:
Opposite me - A muslim mum and Joseph her baby boy. The dad was constantly annoying the midwives by not sticking to the visitors' curfews and then trying to bribe them with chocolates :)
Next to me - A french mum & her baby who stayed behind her blue curtain for most of the time. I think that she was gorging on sleep while she could because this was her second baby and she was facing juggling a toddler and new infant as soon as she got home. She did have an impressive snore that on one night I mistook to be coming from our bassinet. It had me worried for a second that we had produced a baby bear.
Diagonally opposite - Kristy and tiny Gus. A cool Aussie girl.
Nearest the door on the left - A gorgeous Congolese girl (and her baby that I never saw). She was wearing the shortest t-shirt/'nightie' with unbelievable legs that even made the support socks look sexy. Damn.
Nearest the door on the right - an Arabic woman who didn't speak a stitch of English. Who arrived on the ward at 9pm and moaned in pain constantly until she fell asleep at 4am.
So, we were convinced that it would be a boy for no other reasons than the way that I was carrying the bump, the views that we had inside the womb, opinions of our friends, strangers, family....predictions by the local coffee shop, bets by colleagues and the midwife's statement of 'this must be a boy given how difficult they are being', whilst in labour. Even though A. had said that he would love a girl nearly as much :) after setting eyes on our sweet girl he was absolutely toast!
So, now to decide on a name. You have 30 days from birth to decide but we're hoping that it won't take that long!
So skipping ahead...past some looooong early morning hours.....where A. managed to cat-nap on a mattress (that was more like a piece of cardboard) on the floor next to me....and the baby managed to swing around so that it was lying posterior (back to my back)....by 4am , I was mentioning that I would prefer a puppy and no longer wanted a baby......My reaction to the drip had them flummoxed and things were not progressing. By 11am, they said we should give it another 2 hours. By 1pm, the situation had become a bit more serious so they decided that the best option was an emergency caesar. The good news was that it was the same female OB from the previous day who would perform the operation (she had funky glasses which is important in ones doctor). So we moved me, moved our music, A. popped on his scrubs and 30 minutes later, the bump emerged to sounds of Israel Kamakawiwo'ole.
As she emerged, they dropped the curtain and presented us with an impressively grumpy looking baby. She spent the first 20 minutes in the theatre wailing LOUDLY. with quite a few comments by the team of 'feisty one', 'good set of lungs', 'not ready to come out'. (All that wailing was pretty apt as she shares a birthday with Bob Marley...) But it took almost as long to find out that the boy, that we had convinced ourselves we were having, was in fact a girl. And I only found out after A. went and cut the cord and came back and whispered in my ear: 'we'll have to review those boy's name'. So much for everyone's predictions...
In the pic above, we are at the hospital, waiting for an available labour room. It appears that the hospital had a sudden rush and we've been stuck in the ante-natal ward for 9 hours....
Here is a brief-ish description what led up to this point in a hopefully not-too-detailed-like-we've-lost-our-filter-of-what-is-suitable, way!
On due date plus 9 days, I decided to visit Star, the acupuncturist, to try and get things kick-started! I was concerned that there may be crystals and chanting involved but in fact she is brilliant. So brilliant that things started before she had even begun using me as a pin-cushion.
At about 4pm I called the labour ward at Chelsea and Westminster and they said that I should come straight in. I asked whether we could wait until the traffic had died down and She seemed a bit taken aback. she said: 'Is this your first baby? Um, well I'll have to check'. So at 7pm we headed to the hospital for the first time. After a check that confirmed that I was in labour and a slight stuff up on the midwife's side, the doctors said that I would have to stay on the ward and start augmentation (a drip to speed things up), at 3am! We were keen to try and let things unfold naturally so we convinced the midwife to let us go home and come back for a second check at midnight. After unpacking the car (in case someone made off with my swiss ball) and then repacking the car, we headed back to the hospital at midnight.
After another 60 minutes of monitoring both the baby's heart rate (normal is between 120 and 160) and my contractions, all seemed fine. There was still the need to get things started but the senior midwife agreed that 3am was a silly time to start (the earlier midwife did admit that the doctors still thought that I was checked into the ward! and kept asking after me :). So, they agreed to let us go home again, get some rest and then come back by 1pm. Back home by 3am, we unpacked the car again and tried to get some rest - 8 solid hours for A and between contractions me (10 minute naps by this stage).
Later the same day (Friday), new trip, 3rd check-up but this time the midwife dragged in the new daytime doctor to try and convince me to get the drip! The daytime doctor was a girl about my age and she made a convincing case so we agreed to go and have some lunch and then come back to start the 'boost'.
Lunch across the road at Carluccio's (a chain of 'real italian' kitchens) was interesting. I would love to say that it was relaxing with a glass of vino but in fact there were regular 'stops' between ravioli to catch my breath. In fact, when A. went off to the bathroom (probably to escape my heavy breathing), the waitress came up and asked whether I was okay. I explained that it was our last lunch pre-labour and that got the guys at the table next to us talking too. So, we left Carluccio's with hand shakes and good lucks all around.
Back in the ward and my urgent case seemed to have dropped a few notches based on some emergency cases that had come in. So, we were put in the ante-natal ward to wait for an available labour room. By 10pm, we were still waiting and just as A. decided to go home for a shower they said that I had a room.
Off we went, set up our ipod, grabbed the swiss ball, all ready for an active birth. Well, before you know it, I was wearing to two monitor band belts, drip in my hand and they had convinced me that given that labour could take another 12-16 hours, it was probably advisable to have an epidural too. All plans of an active birth went flying out the window. At least we still had our music :)