So when I was in hospital I basically wore the same dress the whole time. After getting home I washed everything apart from it as I knew I wanted to photograph myself in it, though now I have decided to keep it as part of my ‘archive’ (I feel funny saying that even though I have so much work).
Anyways, it seems weird to continue my pregnancy project now I’m no longer pregnant, so with motherhood I have started a new project called Oh Me, Oh Mãe. I came up with the title whilst I was still pregnant as a play on the phrase oh me oh my. I tried with and without a comma and I seem to prefer it with one.
Mãe is mother in Portuguese (my husband is Portuguese and our baby is British-Portuguese, or Portuguese-British depending on who you ask). You pronounce mãe similarly to my, though you can listen to the pronunciation here and tell me I’m wrong. Maybe it’s more like myy.
A funny coincidence was that I listened to Devendra Banhart a lot in hospital and it wasn’t until getting home that I realised he has an album called Oh Me Oh My… It seems meant to be, though I was a bit discouraged as Tiago (my husband) had never heard the phrase oh me oh my before and didn’t like it for ages. Now he gets it and I think it is here to stay. If you ever need an honest non-artists opinion on something he is your guy!
So… the photo and hashtags (yes I think I am still doing the hashtags for some stuff, but I seem to be experimenting with other writing styles on different pictures).
A few outtakes
(Though I’m thinking maybe it could be a set of images, I don’t know?)
The whole picture has a similar vibe to my 21st April 2017 (Today’s Look) picture, which I did think about when I was doing the shoot. Different flat and a post-birth belly instead of a hot water bottle, toothpaste stains on one and colostrum/milk stains on the other. With 21st April 2017… it was the first time that I’d wrote a long piece of text to go with a photo, which definitely started to help me feel more confident with my own words.
I guess walking around loads in front of people in a massively stain covered dress is something I wouldn’t have done pre-baby, but since having B I have changed so much already. I plan to do a photo and text about that soon.
Well you probably won’t catch me walking around Liverpool in it either, but my clothes definitely have more stains on them and I care less. With this project I don’t want to change how I look before doing a shoot if I’m suddenly in the mood. So far that has meant mainly just not retying my hair/brushing it, and my hair misbehaving has ruined a lot of shoots in the past so I guess they’re going to be slightly irritating pictures (I call myself a lazy perfectionist – love perfection, but get annoyed trying to achieve it).
I love it when everything is in ‘the right place’ in a photo and you’ve just got a bit of hair that is doing its own thing, and continues to do its own thing no matter how many times you brush it, restyle it (I don’t style my hair – but I guess more retying it and trying a lower ponytail or something) or try to tuck it away (that is a common approach of mine).
It seems weird posting pictures where there is a big focus on my boobs and all the stains on and around them. I was feeling really awkward about the nudity in my pregnancy project, but since giving birth I also care less. My work is not sexual and my boobs are finally being used for the purpose that I have them for. I remember in high school being mocked for having no boobs (two paracetamols on an ironing board, haha) and me saying ‘well they’re only made for babies anyways’ whilst crying on the inside.
(I feel the need to say I can totally understand why people choose not to breastfeed/use their breastmilk – it is definitely a journey, and if you don’t have kids or don’t want them then enjoy not being covered in stains and having sore nipples).
I was not sure whether or not to start posting this new project whilst I’m still trying to finish posting my pregnancy project on Instagram, but I think I need to get on with it otherwise I’m going to be months behind with posting it – and B is already growing so fast!
With shoots I end up taking a lot of images and with most of them it’s difficult to edit them down as the differences are so subtle. In the beginning I take a lot of pictures to make sure that I am in the right position – as central as possible as I am usually central-ish in my images. Then once I find something I do a lot of little variations and take enough to make sure that I ‘have the shot’. Now I’m debating if this is better than the one I chose but I think looking off makes me look a bit more thoughtful whereas this seems more confrontational? Maybe I’m talking rubbish. I can’t believe my hair used to be this long…
The whole project is full of belly shots and I think I realised how ridiculous a shot like this would be in the beginning, though does it really matter? No. Even though I have done nude projects I do feel awkward about sitting around in my pants for shoots, though less so after having 6 people at the birth of my child, and having my boobs prodded and poked by lots of women whilst trying to breastfeed in hospital.
This seems a bit too adventurous and belly squashing for a pregnancy picture. Even though it took about 9 months for me to get pregnant I then was doing lots of stupid things like falling over for a video repeatedly as I think I could not believe I was pregnant. Perhaps I knew I would not be able to do these more flexible poses for much longer which is why I milked it as much as possible with this shoot.
A big secret (that isn’t so secret and especially not now) about how I shoot for my self-portrait projects – generally I have no idea what I am going to do for a shoot.
With this shoot I had no clue and looking back for outtakes I can see that, though the theme seemed to be that pink top that my younger sister gave me and being sat on the floor.
I play around and then when I find something that I like I ‘riff on it’ – yeah like a musician or something.
In 2010 after my BA I was shortlisted to take a portrait for the National Museum Wales and National Portrait Gallery. I travelled from Birmingham to Cardiff for the interview and proudly talked about how I don’t plan shoots and you could just see in their faces how disapproving they were, yet I kept going on. The thing is at university me and my friend Sarah (who started and runs We Are Hairy People) did fashion shoots all the time when we were in the mood and we generally had no plan; we were always winging it. I’d photograph and she would model. We would just pull random clothes from our wardrobes and mess about with usually quite good results. I feel the need to pull a photo out, so let me have a look…
Here are a few pictures from 2010.
I feel like this post is going a long way away from where it was supposed to be. I’ve talked a lot about how random and made up my shoots are, but then again with my pregnancy project there have been shoots where I knew what I wanted to show.
Don’t be fooled (especially if you want to hire me and now are thinking I’m too risky – come back!) I guess I do plan things to an extent… now I think I am just saying this so you hire me.
No, what I mean to say is I have planned shoots more so with this project. For example: I had a blood test, I want to show that etc. I guess there was a reason why I did improv comedy in London, as much as sometimes I lack confidence I like just seeing what happens and what I come up with.
I did mention in my interview that when I do plan shoots I never like the images, but I guess they provide a starting point.
With shoots if you don’t try then you don’t get – if I don’t do a shoot then I have no pictures to possibly like or dislike. If I do then I might have a shot that I can use or at least have an idea for something to recreate. With this project I took poses/shots that I liked and recreated them later on, especially if one was good but I felt like another one was better. Though towards the end of the project I got more indecisive and often chose two images from shoots – perhaps because I was running out of time to photograph myself pregnant.
Anyways, some of the hashtags are kind of similar to the first image from the series. I had planned for this to be the first image, but I then remembered that I had done the previous shoot and wrote hashtags for it. It was hard knowing what to write for the first one as a lot of it had already been said here. There was a noticeable difference within myself though, especially with feelings of morning sickness beginning to start. I had forgotten that I got food aversions that early.
Everyone always asks about cravings, though I had never really heard about food aversions. I seemed to hate everything I had ever loved – I was really upset about not being able to eat my favourite lunch that I had been eating for YEARS. At one point I could only eat pasta and vegetables for dinner, as everything else made me feel sick. Luckily I could start to eat different things just as the Great Pasta Shortage of 2020 rolled in, otherwise that would have been a very grim time…
It was hard to imagine myself ever being pregnant, let alone imagining myself pregnant during a pandemic, but I guess that’s something I’ll talk about again and again during these posts…
Sorry I couldn’t be bothered to come up with a more fun title. Monster Hospital by Metric came into my head, but the hospital was great (well from what I remembered when I wasn’t sleep deprived). I Miss Your Bones by Hospitality also came to mind…
Well, because the diary with notes (in between [ ]s) format seemed to work alright for my birth story I thought I’d do the same for my hospital stay, though I was a bit tired so it’s very patchy and short. Since then I have stopped writing in my diary as I can’t be bothered, but I did buy a 5 year line a day diary. It’s actually 5ish lines, but once I get writing it’s not enough.
It’s weird how quickly the memories start to fade, but also because I was in hospital for 4 nights not doing much and not really sleeping, it felt like one long day to me.
My days did basically consist of trying to breastfeed, expressing, feeding B, trying to sleep, changing nappies, crying, talking to my husband, washing my stitches, replying to messages in the middle of the night as that was when I felt in the mood and yeah not much else. My daily highlight was ordering what I was going to eat for lunch and dinner (and eating), which was mainly butternut squash curry. Highly recommended if you ever find yourself at Liverpool Women’s Hospital!
On with the story…
Diary entry 2 days after the birth at 11:11am called ‘First full day’.
Didn’t sleep much. Can’t really recall the night. Just a lot of trying to breastfeed.
[I was initially kept in hospital as B was struggling to latch on for breastfeeding. I think because of Covid they are hesitant to discharge women who are struggling to feed as there is less 1 to 1 help available.]
Being told to set an alarm for 2 to 3 hours to breastfeed. Slept for an hour and a bit at most.
Thought she would need more feeding so didn’t want to sleep but she just kept sleeping.
Been getting the hang of hand expressing at least.
Toast and jam for breakfast.
Waited for the [breastfeeding support] lady for hours. Was waiting for her to try feeding so didn’t sleep. She was good when she came though.
Then B slept a bit. I had a 10 min nap. I thought it had been an hour…
Video called Nan and [younger sister] briefly.
Planned to nap but had a shower then dinner came.
Shift changed. They said they will monitor the feeding hourly. I need to sleep. She has been asleep for an hour now. I’m sat on my stitches. They changed the room around and have got me to sit on a chair instead.
Changed 2 pooey nappies today by myself. So proud. [I was super nervous about changing a nappy for the first time. I asked people to show me at least a few times before I did it myself…]
Yeah my day is just sitting around and trying to breastfeed. [And taking pictures of B and selfies].
Called Tiago a few times. He has been tidying the flat, food shopping and cooking.
Can’t be bothered to reply to so many messages. Will do tomorrow.
[Well, that was gripping wasn’t it?]
Diary entry 3 days after birth at 4.37pm called ‘Yesterday and today’.
Didn’t write yesterday. I probably won’t be able to remember everything.
Plans changed. Tried to get into a good routine of trying to breastfeed, hand express, sleep and repeat.
Then she got tested for jaundice and she had to start photo therapy. She hated the machine. Crying so loud etc. Had to take all her clothes off which she hates. Then I couldn’t comfort her etc.
I cried in front of someone who was sent to do checks on her.
My milk came in so I started to use the big express machine.
[I called it The Beast. I could have used it for expressing colostrum, but I only found out once a saw another woman who had been in the hospital for a day. (You don’t produce much colostrum so with at home machines most of it will just get stuck in the parts rather than make it into the bottle).]
Breastfeeding still wasn’t happening. Got so tired. Students fed her from the bottle whilst I slept. [The breastfeeding support service] suggested giving her a bit of expressed milk first, then breastfeeding then expressing. I don’t know.
I cried in front of someone else. B had a jaundice test at 10pm. It came back as below therapy level. It was repeated at 6am. She was taken out of the machine.
It needs to be repeated later.
I feel a bit abandoned.
I see people come and go. I hear people being checked on. No one has checked on me today. [I am guessing they assumed I was fine as I had been there for ‘so long’ and a lot of new women were coming onto the ward, so they needed to be sorted out which is fair enough.]
I don’t feel confident. I need a new plan of action [for feeding]. I feel awkward calling someone. A woman is say 2m from me and she can’t hear me crying. I just want her to turn around and check on me. Need to eat. Need to prep to feed.
Stitches hurt. No one asks me if I want pain relief.
[I thought about pressing my call button a few times, but I just felt awkward/uncomfortable pressing it. Occasionally I did press it, but then cancelled my request. I did also have times where I just didn’t care and pressed it a lot though.]
Diary entry on same day at 8.17pm called ‘Today part 2’.
Had an hour-ish nap. Cried again. Ate dinner whilst crying on the phone to Tiago. [So awkward, was trying to be quiet about it but I needed to talk to someone and get all the previous entry’s stuff off my chest.]
A woman called Cheryl came to weigh B. She said she had come when I was asleep so came back later. I said she should have woken me.
When she came back [after going to get her equipment] I said I wasn’t trying to be rude.
[I think I came across as quite aggressive as I had felt so abandoned and I spent a lot of time waiting for people to come to see me about things. Typically the one time I slept was the one time I missed someone.]
We talked about everything whilst I expressed. She said she would help me with breastfeeding and bottle feeding.
B’s weight loss was 4 percent. 10 percent is bad so it’s great.
Expressed alright. Breastfed her well for 10 mins. Put her on the bottle for 20ml.
Feeling so much happier. Expressed my right boob for 20ml more as it started to leak and I love expressing ha. [I got really obsessed with how many millilitres I was producing and expressing made me feel like one day I would be alright with breastfeeding.]
Should nap now. I have an hour-ish before I have to think about it all again.
Yesterday I discovered the nursery across the corridor. I love washing the top of the pump and getting supplies.
[I didn’t wander away from the ward except for going into this room which had a fridge, a sink and breastfeeding supplies. It was was my little escape where I washed the pump parts, got more bottles, and cotton wool. It gave me something to do and I got really into it. I also had my set-up for nappy changing – tub for cotton wool, tub of water and tub for dirty/used stuff. When I got home I was stressed out until I set up something similar.]
B’s eyes got swabbed. [She had gunky eyes which is common with newborns. The gunk was sent off for testing. She still has gunk and the GP recommended doing tear duct massages where you rub the side of the nose.]
Feeling more confident with handling her now. [I really was scared to pick her up for a while, and worried about how well I was supporting her neck/head.’
Still can’t believe I have a baby. Can’t wait to see Tiago with her.
Love him so much. Can’t believe we’ve been apart for so long. I feel like my world is this room. [We had been together for the whole of lockdown and this was the longest we’d been apart, I also felt bad that he was missing out on B’s early days.]
Need to sleep. Want to chat to people but need to rest.
Diary entry on 4 days after giving birth called ‘Home Day’, but I did not write anything.
[I’m guessing I planned to but just didn’t get round to it. Will fill in the gap by reading messages that I sent Tiago. (This section ended up being the longest – I should probably go through and add in more information for the other sections, but this post is long enough and I’ve spent enough time writing it).
So at 3am I said ‘Jaundice score only went up a few points in 12 hours. And since then she has been feeding more. Midwife is just plotting it on a chart to see if we can go home today.’
Then 20 minutes later I added ‘So B needs to have a test. Will be sent with a courier at 6 and should get results by 9. Either way we are going home today. If the test results are ‘bad’ then we get sent home with folic acid that we need to give B.’ I love that I was getting told this info at 3am, but I guess they only told me as I was awake. In the end B didn’t need folic acid.
At 4.30am I could hear a man outside yelling Karen or something. No idea… Sadly he wasn’t outside our window as that would have been far too interesting/entertaining.
A lot of our conversations evolved around ordering stuff that we thought we needed. A room thermometer, a body thermometer, nipple compresses, anything and everything.
At 10am a woman came round who gave the usual discharge spiel – do 10 sets of kegels 10 times a day (I texted Tiago to remind me, though I just do them when I remember about them), use contraception as you are super fertile (hearing a woman opposite saying she had a 10 month old was enough for me to listen) etc.
I told Tiago not to rush to get out the door as I knew discharge would be slow and I was finally talking to some women on my ward. One wouldn’t order any lunch, so I told the staff on duty whilst she was in the bathroom and they arranged some food for her. [I wasn’t trying to snitch on her, she wanted to eat but wasn’t sure about hospital food and I knew another day of her just eating crisps wouldn’t help her heal.]
It was weird how I went from feeling super scared about being around strangers after 3 months at home due to lockdown, to kind of forgetting about the pandemic and just wanting to talk to everyone. Everyday different women were helping me with breastfeeding, so I was being very close to people (they were touching my boobs in order to help me). I had forgotten how social I could be and I think motherhood was already changing me for the better, though obviously I had had some wobbly moments which was mainly down to lack of sleep.
At 1.15pm I said discharge was happening soon. I was going through my routine (expressing, feeding, changing nappy etc) in order to not ‘f up my progress’ and asked Tiago to bring my sunglasses as I hadn’t been outside in a while (my eyes are quite sensitive as it is).
Tiago arrived at 2.30pm. I rang my call button and a woman arrived to take us down to reception. There was more security than when we first came to the hospital on the first day and Tiago had to wait outside the building. I walked through to get him and said to the security guard ‘that’s my husband’ whilst pointing to Tiago and he was allowed in with the car seat with his mask on. We put her in the car seat and went to leave, then I remembered we had to sort out the parking so I ran to do that and then we left. I thought we might have to sign out or something so we went to the desk where Tiago had had to use hand sanitiser. They asked us where we were going. I said ‘home’ and they laughed as they thought we were just arriving at the hospital.
It was surreal to see Tiago again. I had been living in some weird universe where I was a Mum, in a hospital, surrounded by strangers and without the one constant person in my life. I hadn’t felt lonely though as I had B to focus on.
On my way out of the hospital I saw the Princess Diana bust that I had walked past when I first arrived. When I was younger I was told that I looked like her a lot (I had short hair for a bit which was when the comments were at their peak) and seeing that she had opened the hospital gave me some kind of comfort. It made me smile and I took a picture to remember it.
It was weird to be in the car during daylight – since lockdown I had only been in the car once, which was on the way to hospital at 2.30 in the morning.
We got home and after feeling in hospital that I couldn’t remember what the flat looked like, I quickly adjusted to being back it was the first time we had had a baby in there.
Though I never planned to be in hospital initially (I wanted a homebirth) and my visit was nothing like I thought a trip might be, I think it was the best thing that happened to me. I had no recent experience with a newborn and was nervous about everything. Being there for 4 nights with no visitors I just learned as much as I could and came home confident with handling, nappy changing, expressing, bottle feeding and breastfeeding. I was then able to teach what I had learned to Tiago. I think if I had had a homebirth and been able to stay at home, early parenthood would have been a lot more stressful. My hospital stay was up and down, but I wouldn’t have changed anything.
Thanks again to everyone at Liverpool Women’s Hospital and Bambis (babies and mums breastfeeding information and support) for their care and help during our stay.]
(Turns out that I like to use the word whilst and that it is ‘largely outdated’ – never realised I that I use it so much.)
If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments below or via a social media message.
At some point I plan to write more about feeding as it is still a cause of stress (for me anyways). I feel like everyday brings a new combination of breastfeeding and bottle feeding (expressed milk). I guess it is just doing what works for us each day.
Thanks for reading, and please share it with anyone who might find it helpful 🙂
I hope that the project is of interest to people and that it may be helpful in some way – particularly to those who may be pregnant or someone whose partner/close friend/family member is pregnant.
As it will take me some time to post them all, if you wish to read ahead you can see the project on my Instagram account, though at the time of writing this I still have 16 images left to post from the project.
This is the first image from the series.
A couple of outtakes
I’m currently writing this with my newborn daughter (well she is a few weeks old now, when does a newborn stop being a newborn?) lying asleep on me, as represented by the picture above that I took with my phone that then got glitched by Photoshop.
In these pictures I am in shock at being pregnant, whereas now a few weeks into motherhood I am still a bit in shock that I am a mother. Writing a tweet yesterday that started with ‘Had to register my daughter for the doctors’ just felt bizarre…
Anyways, I took a pregnancy test whilst visiting family for a weekend and was not home until the next day. I did the shoot, but then didn’t look at the images for a while which explains not writing the hashtags at the time.
When I found out I was pregnant I was finishing off my project Ulterior Monologue, which was about wanting to be pregnant but not feeling able to talk about it. This was when I first started to do these hashtag diary entries, but with Ulterior Monologue I wasn’t always as honest as I wanted to be because of the awkwardness I felt around talking about wanting to be pregnant – which is where the project title comes from. I felt awkward as we had not been trying that long (it took about 9 months in the end to get pregnant and the doctors say it usually happens by the end of 2 years), but it was the only thing I could think about. We had just moved to Liverpool and I didn’t really know anyone and felt a bit lost. I was also trying to get over the stress of living in London and ended up signing for an online CBT course in anxiety not long before I found out I was pregnant.
With announcing that I was trying to get pregnant I felt like people’s comments would just annoy me and I knew people who had been trying for a long time to get pregnant, and I did not want to upset anyone. I was also worried about not getting offered jobs/being overlooked for work if people knew that I was trying to get pregnant, as they might have assumed that I soon would be.
I did do a couple of shoots after knowing I was pregnant that are part of that Ulterior Monologue; I guess because I knew I wouldn’t be sharing my news anytime soon and so I wanted to have work to post in the meantime. I ended up announcing my pregnancy (on social media anyways) when I was around 20 weeks pregnant and at the point where I felt like I wasn’t cursing myself by saying it out loud to a ‘crowd’. Until then I posted all my self-portraiture projects and video works on Instagram – I have a lot so it definitely passed the time, but I was so fed up of doing it by the end.
The hashtags mention wearing the same dress as an image from Ulterior Monologue which is called It Seems Like Everyone Is Pregnant Except Me. I don’t think I did this intentionally (like the hashtags say), but it’s a nice coincidence. It Seems Like…‘s hashtags talked the most about wanting to be pregnant, but still downplayed it.
The next picture I took for Waiting For Things… was when I was 6 weeks pregnant and after that I really started to document myself – usually at least twice a week. I think being in disbelief and expecting something bad to happen was also a factor in the gap between the first and second images.
Also known as B’s Birth Story – I was going to call it Breech Baby Breech, but after listening to Burn Baby Burn by Ash* for the fifth time, Turn Baby Turn felt more fitting.
*Yes, all songs mentioned on my blog will be linked to a video of me dancing to them, if I have danced to them already.
After trying to write this numerous times, I remembered that I wrote in my diary at different points during the day and in my hospital bed the next day. I have decided to copy and paste my entries, whilst adding notes where I think are necessary.
(Notes are within [ ]s.)
Apologies in advance, it’s longer than I thought, but I’ve probably missed things out. I’m sure I’ll be making minor revisions for the next century.
Buckle up kids, here we go.
Diary entry called ‘Water Breaking’ that I started to write at 2.30am in the car.
Woke up at 1am. Felt pain and went to get up to go to the toilet and water started to come out of me. The more I tried to get up, the more water came out. Woke Tiago up and asked him to get me a towel.
I sat on the toilet wondering if I had wet myself or if it was my water breaking. There looked to be some blood. Sat searching [online on my phone] for what to do. I’m only 37+5 [37 weeks and 5 days, due date is 40 weeks, a pregnancy is usually no more than 42 weeks] and they said it’s urgent if you’re below 37.
Called the number [in the front of my hospital notes] for urgent advice. Felt bad calling them at this time, but didn’t want to sleep on it. Would rather go to the hospital with less traffic.
I kept saying to Tiago that we should revisit my hospital bags, but we hadn’t. The woman on the phone said to bring my stuff just incase I had to stay in.
[We spent a while running around getting things. I had been visited by the homebirth team since the start of my pregnancy as I wanted a homebirth, but I wanted to be prepared in case I needed to go to hospital.]
Wish I had slept more. Didn’t sleep well the night before last and now I’ve only had 2 hours of sleep. Fail.
My body is racing with adrenaline. I feel nervous, yet excited.
It’s the first time I’ve been in the car since before lockdown.
Trying to get to the hospital. The roads are closed.
[Writing in hospital] Eventually got here. Went to reception. Asked the guy what department I needed and if Tiago could come in. He said no. Tiago was stood outside by the doors, so he went back to the car.
Had to do a urine sample. Couldn’t even see where I was pissing [as my bump was so big].
Came out the bathroom and just stood at reception for 10 minutes. She [woman on reception] then appeared and said to take a seat.
Feel like I can feel surges [the hypnobirthing term for contractions] but they’re fairly gentle.
I’m so thirsty but don’t want to drink with my mask. Just trying to do my breathing.
[I did not know if I had to wear a mask or not but I was nervous to be around people.]
I haven’t been in another building in so long [since before lockdown – 23rd March], but it doesn’t feel that weird. It’s just so quiet.
A woman just came in on a bed so might have to wait a bit longer. Tiago said he saw the ambulance arrive.
They said they’ll be with me as soon as possible but they need to sort out the emergency. I went to the toilet and could just hear her screaming.
Reading a hypnobirthing book that I have on my phone as I don’t feel as prepared as I should be right now. Though I haven’t been reading much as I felt prepared. I think my waters have definitely broken, so I will be giving birth in the next 24 to 48 hours. Just feel like I need to wee constantly.
I think I am getting light surges but not sure.
A friend from my NCT group had her waters break in the morning and she had to go in for checks and stuff. So it was good to read that in our WhatsApp group and know what to expect.
I don’t think I will be working today. Glad I took my Máscara like pictures yesterday.
[A project where I put makeup on lens filters – I had asked my Mum to send my makeup and it came the day before, so I did a shoot ‘just incase’ instead of napping.]
I think I am in shock. I feel tired and thirsty. Drinking some water as no one else is in the waiting room. [I felt awkward removing my mask.]
I just want to get some rest.
Wish Tiago was here so I could chat to him. Instead I am just texting him. We usually WhatsApp but I’m trying to save battery.
Wish I had a snack with me. It’s 3.25am. I think they usually monitor you for half an hour.
[Tiago was in the car with a ridiculous amount of snack bars that we’d bought for my birth. I went to the vending machine and they called me through before I could choose something.]
Just feel like I’m wetting myself. Got a big maternity pad in. Had a small pad in but realised how useless it was. Tiago is watching birthing videos in the car. I told him to try to get some rest.
Sat on the bed now being monitored. I have to press a button whenever I feel movements. Reading leaflets about induction. Think I will wait 24 hours. I’m so sleepy. She took my temperature.
She said she was about to call me in when the emergency came.
At the moment I feel like [the baby] will be a boy.
[Wrong! We didn’t know what we were having – Tiago wanted to know so I didn’t want to be the bad guy, but she wouldn’t ‘present’ at the 20 week scan or when I had to go back at 23 weeks for them to finish the checks. My extra growth scans got cancelled due to Covid-19.]
Had to change my pad and give it to them to look at. Feel like I’m on my period or something. Just want to go home and sleep. Think I will be having a relaxing day as long as I can. It’s now been nearly 3 hours.
Monitoring was fine. She isn’t sure what position the baby is in though so someone is coming to do a scan.
Think I am having light surges.
Have turned down being induced. They said I can come back in the afternoon if I change my mind.
Tiago is talking to a magpie in the car park.
[A magpie was sat by his car in the car park. He asked it if it was the bearer of good news. It replied two times then flew off. Tiago doesn’t normally talk to birds, but he said it made him feel good.]
[My own version of this was walking into the hospital, going the opposite way to appointments and noticing a bust of Princess Diana, who opened the hospital in 1995. When I was younger people used to stop me in the street/wherever to tell me I looked like her, so seeing ‘her’ gave me some comfort.]
If I don’t go into established labour in 24 hours then I can’t have a home birth.
[Update] The baby is breech so a home birth is currently out of the window. I also can’t have a gentle c-section because the baby is breech. So they might see if someone can turn it, but it’s a bit late now especially with the fluid having gone. So will just have to wait and see. [They also said I couldn’t have a water birth, though I had seen some videos of babies being born breech in birthing pools.]
Otherwise it’s either a vaginal breech delivery or a c-section. Both have risks. Going to try for a vaginal breech.
[Vaginal is more risky for the baby, whereas a c-section is more risky for the mother.]
Just had a Covid swab. Back of my throat and up my nose. Charming. Waiting for a bed on the ward. Been awake for nearly 5 hours now.
Tiago has gone home. Want him to get some rest. No point him waiting in the car.
[I went down to get my stuff from the car and sorted out his parking payment.]
Getting surges I think or big movements at least.
There is another woman here in the room now and she is being sick. Grand.
Just heard them refer to my situation as a strong breach presentation.
It’s 6am. I haven’t slept which doesn’t help my chances of a vaginal birth. Being moved now.
New diary entry called ‘Ward’ that I started at 7.06am.
In the ward now. Two women are here. They seem nice. They’re here for the long term though.
[They’d been in for a week due to problems with their placentas I think. It was surreal to be in a room with strangers but it was nice to chat. My plan was to stay as positive as possible as I knew that adrenaline can stop surges.]
Think I’m having surges here and there.
Feeling tired but the ward is awake now. Had some snacks. Basically just waiting now.
9am. Had breakfast. Toast with butter and blackcurrant jam.
Already ordered lunch. Butternut squash curry and raspberry and apple crumble. Dinner – veg and bean chili. Cheese cake.
[During my stay the most exciting part of my day was what I was going to eat – I ended up having the curry at least once a day. 10/10 would recommend to all.]
Don’t know what to do with myself.
9.25am. Hooked up to a machine now. Monitoring surges. I want a nap. Glad I’m not in a room by myself. I feel pretty relaxed.
10am. Had people monitoring me. 3 people stood looking at me whilst I breathed through surges. There is no fluid left around the baby so they can’t try to turn it. Surges have died off a bit though. If I haven’t given birth by 6pm vaginally then I will have to be examined and have a c-section. It’s alright. Vaginally is a bit more risky for baby.
[I was guessing they wouldn’t be able to turn her as it’s not always successful, and with less fluid my chances were lower.]
[In my birth plan/preferences I thought I had covered every situation, but I had not thought about what I wanted if the baby was breech. She had been head down for the last two appointments, including one the week before. 2 days before I felt hiccups ‘down there’. I’m adamant she turned round the day before – I commented to Tiago about how active the baby was that day. I really did not fancy the 6 week recovery time of a c-section. I saw the 6pm countdown as a challenge…]
12.39pm. Just been having contractions. Any food passes straight through me. Felt like crying as this isn’t what I planned at all. Tiago is on the way. Need to have an examination. Feeling a little fed up. Wish Tiago was here.
New diary entry called ‘Birth (yesterday) that I started the next day at 11.01am.
Well I went for that examination. They said I was 3cm dilated and that they would move me to a delivery suite. Tiago would be allowed to join me there.
The surges were getting super strong and I cried before going for my examination. Everything I wanted was out the window and it was a lot to take in.
The delivery suite was alright. A student midwife from the ward I was on, Hazel, moved to the suite with me and I was happy about that as she seemed nice. She said she had never seen a vaginal breech birth before.
The surges were getting stronger. I just wanted to sit on the toilet the whole time. Thought I had bad diarrhea and was having intense pushes. The midwife was worried I’d give birth on the toilet as she said it was to do with being in labour. I really thought it was to do with my poo. Ha.
[I had been having these intense pushing feelings whilst on the ward, but I thought it was to do with my bowels…]
The bed was apparently new and had a toilet like bit built into it which made me feel better. Just took off my pants as they were more of a hindrance and I stopped caring about how I looked to everyone else early on. When my surges got stronger I turned and gripped onto the back of the bed. Breathed through them. Tiago and Hazel had put the TENS machine on my back. It was good in the beginning but then it started to piss me off. After a bit Tiago was just reduced to a paper waver – to act as a fan. It was a wet day and it wasn’t very hot yet the room was boiling and they didn’t have any fans available.
[The TENS machine arrived the day before as I ordered it a few days previously. We nearly didn’t get it as the post lady put a slip through the door. Luckily she heard Tiago open the door and came back.]
They kept telling me not to push though I couldn’t help it. They wanted me to save my energy for when it really counted. Drank water and Lucozade sport in-between surges.
After a while they examined me and it was fine for me to start pushing.
So I started to push and a midwife was proper coaching me. I told her to keep doing it. Tiago was great but him saying how proud he was wasn’t as useful as the woman telling me to keep pushing, breathe, then push again etc.
She waited until my surges came though. I’d get leg cramps first and then the surge would come on. I didn’t think I would have to push so much.
[Because of hypnobirthing I thought I just had to push my breath down, but no the midwife really wanted me to push until I couldn’t anymore. I didn’t even see her face as I was so focused.]
After a while they asked me to turn round and put my legs in stirrups. There were quite a few people in the room, including someone with a resuscitation machine. They were worried the head would get stuck etc.
They cut me in the end to make it easier. Still better than a c-section I thought – less recovery.
[Tiago says a foot was poking out, but there wasn’t much progress after a few surges so they cut me and the consultant pulled her other foot out, which then helped the rest of her follow.]
I would get in the zone but also tell myself I’m never doing it again ha. I didn’t have a moment where I wanted to give up though. I just wanted to get it over and done with. Everytime I had to push I hoped it would be the last time.
Anyways eventually the baby came out. They showed it to me so I could see the sex. I thought it was a boy because of the placenta then realised it was a girl!
It was so surreal. I couldn’t believe that a baby came out of me. They gave me an injection to help deliver the placenta because of blood loss. I wasn’t going to fight stuff.
[I wanted to deliver it naturally, though I only lost 300ml of blood in the end because of the injection. Average blood loss is 500ml.]
Felt like the stitches took ages. They were more painful than birth.
[I just focused on B and winced a lot. With pushing, I generally did 3 long pushes before the surges passed, so I had time inbetween for more water/energy drink. Whereas the stitches were just a constant pain for the time they took to be done.]
[We did delayed cord clamping so that all her blood could be returned to her, before Tiago cut the cord. I also asked him to get a photo of the placenta. I wanted to keep it and plant it next to a tree or something, but we don’t have a garden and I didn’t know when I’d be able to visit family who have a garden.]
[I felt quite out of it, even though I had only used a TENS machine for part of it. I really focused on my breathing for the whole of labour – I learned it from this digital hypnobirthing course.]
Had skin to skin for ages. Hazel tried to help me breastfeed for 2 hours. She was trying but wasn’t super successful.
[B couldn’t latch on very well/I had no clue what I was doing.]
Then we were left alone. She started to cry and I was like ‘argh what do we do?’ Tiago went to get someone. [I was freaked out by her crying.] She tried to help us breastfeed. She was a bit more successful.
Then Tiago did skin to skin for 2 hours-ish. [Tiago says it was more like an hour.] I had a [super long] shower. It was great. I washed my hair as I wasn’t sure when I would be able to again. Well my hair was a mess and I thought it was easier to do it whilst we were somewhere with more care. They left us in there for ages.
Just looked at the cannula in my hand. They put it in exactly 2 hours before she was born. Just in case I decided I wanted any pain relief or needed something different. [Maybe if I needed an emergency c-section?]
Then after a while they came to say they were moving us to the ward.
Midwife clothed her and wheeled us through. Had to say bye to Tiago.
Then it was just weird. Trying to breastfeed and not being able to. Forgetting that I had to change her nappy. It was bad. Feeling bad for calling for help. So happy I got to stay overnight. I think going home with a newborn would have been overwhelming.
Getting the hang of hand expression but breastfeeding is not going so great. She really is trying though! Managed to get a bit of sleep last night though they said I should be waking her every 2 hours for a feed. Need to keep track of that. It’s nearly time for lunch so I hope for lunch to come and then I’ll sort her out. I need to stay hydrated and well fed etc.
I probably should have rested more today… We can go home later if I feel confident enough with feeding etc.
[Overall though I didn’t have the birth that I wanted – a homebirth or a water birth – I feel like I had a very positive birth experience. I am happy that I went with my instinct of having a vaginal birth, as I did not like the idea of a c-section recovery (a gentle one would have not been so bad, but I was not allowed one). Thanks to everyone at the Liverpool Women’s Hospital who took care of us during this weird time.]
If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments below or via a social media message. If there are enough questions (more than 1?) then I can write a follow-up post answering them.
Thanks for reading and please share it with anyone who might find it of interest 🙂
I decided to set up this blog in June 2020 after giving birth to my daughter, my first child who I will refer to as B. I do not plan to show her face.
Jockey Greys is a suggested autocorrection of Jocelyn Freya – my first two names – that I remembered whilst trying to think of a name for the blog.
It’s early days, but I plan to post my work (I documented my pregnancy and am making a new series about motherhood), and to share my experiences as a new mother, as well as talk about anything and everything else that interests me.
My husband, Tiago, also plans to contribute from time to time, with thoughts on fatherhood, recipes and whatever else he feels like sharing.
Tiago moved to London for 3 months in 2008 after finishing his degree in Audiology in Coimbra, Portugal, and decided to stay in the UK.
I relocated to London in 2010 after finishing my BA in Photographic Art in Newport, Wales.
We met in 2015 (via Tinder), and moved to Liverpool in late-2018. Our plan is to eventually move to the Azores and the island where Tiago grew up, which was when I intially planned to start a blog.