Oh Me, Oh Mãe II

Portrait Of A Mother Of A Twenty Month Old And A 0 Month Old (14th February 2022)

Hello, it’s me again. I’ve been having a little bit of a social media break. Originally I just intended to try to sort out and post my pregnancy Máscara photos, but I didn’t want to rush that. Then I just realised that I was spending too much time on social media and it wasn’t doing much for me, and then I just got too busy with working/stuff organising/mothering. L is already three months old and I’ve definitely not cracked how to be a good mother to two kids yet, and I’m not sure if I ever will, but every day I try to do things differently and hopefully better but geez I’m tired.

I’ve also felt awkward posting as in my ‘I’m-so-tired-and-why-won’t-my-kids-sleep-and-I-feel-bad-about-every-aspect-of-my-life’ phases I wonder why do I bother making work about myself and think I’m way too whiny for someone as privileged as I am. I have ideas for other work I’d like to make, but for now this seems like the easiest way to keep going. It’s a record for myself, but I also do hope that other people get something from it all. It’s not ground-breaking, award-winning stuff, but it’s my life.

I also feel awkward about this first photo, but it is a ‘I just had a baby and here’s what’s left of my bump’ image, which seems somewhat fitting after a project of tonnes of bump photos.

So anyways, here we go. Here’s the start of Oh Me, Oh Mãe II. Mãe is Portuguese for mother – my kids are half-Portuguese, and now I have two kids so it seemed like an obvious series title (my project of being a mother to one is called Oh Me, Oh Mãe.)

TW: Birth story. First degree tear.

Self-portrait. My arms are raised over my head and I am holding onto my elbows. My top has been lifted up over my head and I am showing what is left of my baby bump.
Portrait Of A Mother Of A Twenty Month Old And A 0 Month Old (14th February 2022)

  #ICanNotBelieveThatIAmAMotherOfTwoAndItIsWeirdHearingPeopleReferToUsAsAFamilyOfFourNow #OnTheEveningIWentIntoLabourISuddenlyFeltUnwellAroundSevenAndTiagoHadToPutBToBed #IWentThroughMyBedtimeRoutineOfStretchingAndPerinealMassageAndPlannedToGetIntoBedAsSoonAsPossible #AroundEightIThoughtIMightBeHavingContractionsButWasNotReallySure #AtEightThirtyITextedMyMumToSayThatMaybeIWasHavingContractionsButMaybeNot #IStartedToMonitorThemWithAnAppAtNineThirtyButWasStillInDenial #ISuddenlyFeltHungryAndAtTenIWasSatOnTheSofaEatingSamosasThroughThem #WithBIWasUnableToEatInEarlyLabourSoIThoughtIWasJustUnwellOrSomething #AtTenThirtyMyMaybeTheyAreMaybeTheyAreNotContractionsWereSixMinutesApartSoICalledMyMum #SheSaidItSoundedLikeThingsWereHappeningSoSheWouldComeOverToWatchBWhichMadeMeFeelABitMoreRelaxed #SheArrivedAtAroundElevenAndNotLongAfterIWasBleedingABit #MyContractionsWereCloserTogetherAndOnTheNHSWebsiteAndItSaidToCallTriageIfYouAreBleeding #SoICalledAndTheySaidToComeInAndWeGotThereBeforeMidnight #WeWereTheOnlyOnesThereAndAfterAWhileWeGotCalledIntoARoom #ItWasNiceToHaveTiagoWithMeAsAtThisPointWithBTiagoHadToWaitInTheCarParkDueToItBeingTheFirstLockdown #SheWasNotConcernedAboutTheBloodSoIFeltBadForWastingTheirTime #MyContractionsHadSlowedDownWhichIThoughtWouldHappenDueToTheChangeOfEnvironment #SheHookedMeUpToAMachineAndToldMeToPressAButtonWheneverIFeltTheBabyMoveButICouldNotReallyFeelHer #SheSaidSheWouldComeBackAndExamineMeInABitWhichGaveMeTimeToRelaxAndMyContractionsBecameMoreRegularAgain #ByTheTimeSheExaminedMeIWasFourCentimetresDilatedAndSheGaveMeASweepAndIThinkMovedTheCervixABitMoreForwardOrSomething #AroundOneWeWentToADeliverySuiteAndItWasANiceBigRoom #INoticedThatThereWasADoorWithASignSayingBirthPoolAndAskedIfItWasPossibleToUseIt #ItWasSharedBetweenTwoRoomsButTheWomanNextDoorHadFinishedUsingItSoItJustNeededToBeCleaned #TheMidwifeWasReallyNiceAndIKeptThinkingThatOtherPeopleWouldTurnUpToBeThereBut

(B’s birth story is here – Turn Baby Turn.)


I guess I still find it weird that B is my daughter and she is 20 months old. It’s a lot to comprehend that I grew two small humans inside of me.


We take it in turns to put B to bed (well we did – now Tiago puts B to bed, and I put L to bed). I just felt unable to do it.


I was going to skip it all, but suddenly felt a little better and able to do it. My evening stretches involved me sitting on the floor, so I just did that while watching TV.


I felt like I’d been in slow labour for a long time – a week or so. I thought I might have overeaten and was just being off because of that.


I’d messaged her before saying things were happening, but they weren’t so felt a bit awkward about it. She was going to come and watch B though when things finally happened, so I thought I should pre-warn her – especially as it was night time.


I was like I don’t think they’re contractions, but let’s record them just in case.


I had one, then really fancied another one so I ate two. They were my main pregnancy craving in the last month or so of my pregnancy.


Too much info but if I ate I just needed the loo – this wasn’t the case this time.

#AtTenThirtyMyMaybeTheyAreMaybeTheyAreNotContractionsWereSixMinutesApartSoICalledMyMum #SheSaidItSoundedLikeThingsWereHappeningSoSheWouldComeOverToWatchBWhichMadeMeFeelABitMoreRelaxed

She asked how far apart they were and with 6 minutes she thought she needed to come over. I was worried I’d have to go to hospital in the middle of the night, so was glad she was coming over now as I could relax and concentrate on my breathing more.


I hadn’t had any signs of my mucus plug or a bloody show until this point, so I knew things were definitely happening now.


I think I’d just been looking up signs of early labour (still a bit in denial) and saw a bold section at the top about calling triage. I’d seen a lot of photos of blood and mucus plugs on a Mum app I’m on and everyone else’s had looked quite watered down. My blood was intense red.


I took my hospital bags and hoped that things were fine, but that I’d be able to stay at the hospital – and not risk giving birth in the car or something.


I’d walked past triage before and seen so many people there, but that was in the middle of the day.


We weren’t sure what the rules were, so were a bit surprised that he was let in.


I felt a bit stupid to be honest and thought we’d be sent home.


With B I was at the hospital for my entire early labour, so it allowed me to ‘get in the zone’.


I could just feel contractions…


Hurrah. I did my hypnobirthing breathing throughout the contractions and I think I was playing my birthing playlist by this point.


At this point I wouldn’t have said no to a sweep, but I was a bit annoyed that she didn’t mention it until she was actually doing it.


It seemed bigger than the one I had in Liverpool, but maybe not. Not that it matters. We were just shocked by how nice it was. There were fairy lights in the ceiling above the bed which was a nice touch.

#INoticedThatThereWasADoorWithASignSayingBirthPoolAndAskedIfItWasPossibleToUseIt #ItWasSharedBetweenTwoRoomsButTheWomanNextDoorHadFinishedUsingItSoItJustNeededToBeCleaned

She asked about my birthing plan. I’d got Tiago to read it, but he was out getting my other bag so I had to try to remember. I mainly just mentioned delayed cord clamping and skin to skin.

She offered me gas and air, but I said no. I didn’t even use my TENS machine this time, as you can’t use it in water so there didn’t seem much point in using it by the time Tiago got it sorted.


There were a lot of people at B’s birth, so it was nice that it was just Tiago, me and her.


My playlist was playing in the background. The room was darkish. It was nice.

#BeforeLongIKnewIHadEnteredTheDownPhaseOfLabourButReallyFeltLikeINeededTheLoo #IManagedToWaddleThereAndInstantlyKnewItWasAMistakeAndWasWorriedIWouldGiveBirthOnTheToiletButLuckilyIWaddledBackAndBabyLWasBornJustBeforeThree

I was surprised she let me go to the toilet, as at B’s birth they made me just sit on the bed over a kind of potty thing. The midwife was impressed that I managed to waddle to and from the toilet with the baby just about to come out.

The annoying thing about the pool was having to stand up every 15 minutes to have baby’s heartrate checked.


The midwife would check on how far away the baby was from birth with a torch and mirror. At one point she said ‘wow the baby has a lot of hair’ and we looked at the mirror. I put my hand down and could feel her hair blowing in the water.


They said I had a first degree tear. I asked if that was the worst kind – ‘no the best kind’. I had a graze too, but that didn’t need stitches.


I wish I’d just come home the same day really, but more of that next time…

Welcome to the world L!

She was born to either Caribbean Queen by Billy Ocean or Margaret In Captivity by The Decemberists. I don’t remember CQ playing, so I’m thinking it was that one.

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Oh Me, Oh Mãe

This Is Supposed To Be A Picture Of My Cannula Mark (13th August 2020)

I was just going to call the photo ‘Cannula’, but that was a bit dull. This title is perhaps dull too – it should probably have been called ‘Find The Cannula Mark’. Can you?

This Is Supposed To Be A Picture Of My Cannula Mark (13th August 2020)


See my previous post.


I have since bought some other ones. We rarely tumble-dry our clothes, but reading reviews of other breast pads they said that they went bad as they just air dry them. That solves the mystery of why they started to smell not so great…

Pregnancy is all about the bump, and if you breastfeed then early motherhood is all about the boobs…


It’s called a cannula, I know that now.


I always love when my hashtags present an opportunity for a Portuguese lesson.


I’m sure it’s protocol, but as they were worried that B’s head would get stuck as she was delivered breach they might have thought that it would need to be used. It didn’t.


I asked once if I could have it taken out, but they said no as it might still need to be used. It didn’t.


I’m in my 30s and I should know what the definition of a scar is. I don’t want to lie about whether things are a mark or a scar! I checked the definition and it says that it’s a mark that is left after an injury has healed. So I guess a scar or a mark works. Yes, I do need a nap. Maybe it will fade away though.


I did think about photographing it before, but it took me a while to get round to it. It itched for a couple of days then stopped. Delightful.


I kind of like it in a weird way. It’s a reminder of that strange time where I ended up in hospital for 4 nights after thinking I’d have a homebirth or at least a waterbirth. Nope.


I originally wrote that I was a little sad that she doesn’t have one, but then I thought that maybe they are caused by painful/not nice things. I don’t know. I did research a bit, but my brain is too tired right now. I have at least 3 birthmarks I think. I don’t think about them much, but I do get reminded of them in photos from time to time.

I’ve been asked at appointments a few times if she has birthmarks. Early on I felt like I hadn’t really looked at her body enough to know, which then I thought maybe I should have. I find it weird when I see her back with no clothes on – that sounds odd.

The hashtags also fail to mention the heat blisters that you can see on my fingers. Fun times.


I love posing hands in photographs; they can really change the look of an image. I made a project in Watford where the poses are all about the hands.


I had some trouble choosing between the few that were in a better position.


I’m sure some people get quite into the positioning and focus element of it all, but I just do a lot of trial and error.


Oh yeah I said this earlier on. I don’t have any tattoos, but I thought about getting something around it. I won’t.


I love how I put this on the end. Did I have a nap? No. Would I like one now? Yes.

Today I’ve been working on noticing B’s sleepy cues more. I only realised yesterday (via this instagram post) that when her eyebrows go pink/red, it means she is tired. I thought it was a skin problem or something… I’ve been trying to get her to have a nap every 60-90 minutes today and I’m finishing this post as she is in her cot next to me drifting off to napland. Or so it appears. Fingers crossed!

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Oh Me, Oh Mãe

What I Wore For My Four Night Hospital Stay After Giving Birth

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).

What I Wore For My Four Night Hospital Stay After Giving Birth #WeHadPackedTheBagJustInCaseACoupleOfWeeksPreviouslyEvenThoughWeWerePlanningForAHomeBirth #IThoughtAtLeastEverythingIMightNeedEvenForHomeWouldBeInTheSamePlace #IKeptSayingWeShouldRevisitThemButWeNeverGotRoundToItEspeciallyAsSomeThingsWeNeededForEverydayUse #SoWhenICalledTheHospitalToSayMyWatersHadBrokeTheySaidToBringBagsInJustInCase #WeSpentHalfAnHourRushingRoundButIDidNotTakeItTooSeriously #INearlyDidNotPackThisDressAsItWasWhatIWasWearingInBedWhenMyWatersBroke #ItWasALittleWetAndItDidNotSmellSoIPutItInMyBagThinkingIWouldBeComingHomeSoonForMyHomeBirth #WellObviouslyIDidNotComeHomeAndWasInHospitalFor4Nights #AndILivedInThisDress #ICouldHaveAskedTiagoToBringMoreThingsButByTheTimeIThoughtAboutItIKnewMyStayWasComingToAnEnd #OriginallyIWasInHospitalDueToProblemsWithBreastfeedingAndThenBabyBGotJaundice #TheDressShowsColostrumStainsAndThenMilkStainsAfterMyMilkCameInOnDay3 #ItWouldHaveBeenEvenMessierThanThisButOftenISatWithMyDressOffToDoSkinToSkin #SoManyWomenTouchedMyBoobsDuringMyStayToHelpMeTryToFeedSoIDidNotCareAnymore #PlusAround6PeopleWereAtTheBirthPlusTiago #ItWasWeirdToSuddenlyBeAroundSoManyPeopleAfterHavingNotSeenMyFamilyFor3MonthsDueToCovid #MyCurtainWasNeverFullyClosedAsThereWasALightSwitchJustBehindItThatTheHospitalStaffUsed #SoPotentiallyPeopleCouldSeeInButIReallyDidNotCare #AfterAFewDaysIThoughtIBetterWearSomethingElseButItWasTooHot #TheOtherWomenOnTheWardProbablyJudgedMeForWearingAStainCoveredDress #ButSoManyCameAndWentBeforeMe #IDidNotWearMyWatchBecauseOfBreastfeeding #ISometimesWoreANursingBraButInTheBeginningIDidNotAndThenIUsedBreastPadsOnceMyMilkCameIn #IHadMyEyeMaskOnMyHeadAllTheTimeAndEvenAfterIGotHome #TheJokeWasIWasNotSleepingThoughAndIStillAmNotReally #IBoughtItAsItWasOnARecommendedHospitalListButIAlsoThoughtItWouldBeGoodForHomeAsIFindItHardToSleep #ItWasProbablyTheMostUsefulThingInMyHospitalBagInTheEndAndIAmUsingItAtHome #AndThenIWasGladThatIWoreMySandalsAndNotTrainers #SoEasyToJustSlipO

A few outtakes

(Though I’m thinking maybe it could be a set of images, I don’t know?)

I’m calling this one ‘zombie mum’ – can you tell I hadn’t slept much in the week+ since she was born? I don’t think I really slept for another week.
A classic head to waist-ish shot.
Mmm armpits… though I like the closeup as it kind of looks like a face – two eyes on my boobs and a bit of roundness around my belly as a mouth.


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.

21st April 2017 (Today’s Look) from Don’t Take Me Out Of My Melons (2017-18).

Old top that I don’t like wearing in public anymore as it took me too long to realise that if I lean over I flash my bra/boobs, trousers that I wore out once in public but felt self-conscious wearing so they are now in the homewear only pile (with toothpaste stains as I can’t seem to brush my teeth without making a mess anymore), 2 pairs of slippers (one – my pair – not really visible, boyfriend’s pair visible), no makeup (haven’t worn any makeup since July, wore makeup twice last year – once for a costume party and once for 1 wedding out of 3 that I attended), brushed hair that I washed yesterday (it’s usually every 4ish days), hairy legs as I haven’t ‘dealt’ with them since February (I went on holiday to warmer climates) and a hot water bottle for period pain as I try to avoid painkillers as much as possible (except when it comes to tooth pain – wisdom tooth removal is not pleasant). 

Also hidden: Bracelet that I made when I was a teenager, a watch (boyfriend’s one that he gave to me after my similar one broke – which was identical to one I bought in 2009, my parents also wear similar watches), a bra (fairly old, I hate bra shopping so I usually just wear the ones that my mum gets me for Christmas), armpit hair (my skin is sensitive, shaving is too much work and epilating hurts so I’m going to try to embrace the neatly trimmed armpit hair look this summer whilst being self-conscious about it), 2 x temporary medicated fillings (I’ve never been to the dentist as many times as I have this year), permanent fillings (wish I had looked after my teeth better – can’t be bothered to go and count them in the mirror), pants (I’ve never been into small underwear, these ones I don’t wear very often but I need to wash my clothes – they are meant to be not be visible through clothes but I still see them under the new trousers I bought so I’m too self-conscious to wear those too), pubic hair (I’ve never understood the prepubescent look/can’t be bothered with more pain), menstrual cup (wish I had bought one years before I did) and a liner (because the cup still isn’t perfect).

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).

Rewritten 2003 diary entry for my 2013 project Your Mind & Body Is All That You’ve Got II.

I feel like this sums up my feelings about my misbehaving hair and having no boobs – I was happy having none though (if people had left me alone about it) and I still don’t think having boobs suits me. Time was a club that I don’t think I ever went to.

(I just thought about that calculator thing where the answer upside down is boobless).

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!

I think that’s it for now… Thanks for reading 🙂

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Turn Baby Turn

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.

Me dancing to Broadcaster by Squid 5 days before giving birth.

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.

Me in the hospital department waiting room with my mask on.

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.

Empty waiting room with socially distanced chairs.

A woman just came in on a bed so might have to wait a bit longer. Tiago said he saw the ambulance arrive.

The first of many hospital mirror selfies that I took during my visit.

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.

Happiest kid on the ward. By this point I had ditched my mask.

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.

My only complaint with the hospital was the lack of brown toast (think this was the one time I got it) and them putting it in a packet – it was usually grossly soggy (and I love soggy food) or hard.

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.

More monitoring.

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.

Not sure if I was trying to video myself dancing or something else – the sound would disappear when I pressed record though. Nipple warning.

[When my surges were calmer I was just dancing through them. I kept listening to In Your Arms by Purple Disco Machine on repeat, then I switched to Jorge Drexler’s version of Fora Da Ordem, and then Blue Denim by Stevie Nicks.]

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!

Me and baby B.

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.]

Family portrait.

[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.]

‘Tiago get a picture of the placenta!’

[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.

First cuddles with Pai.
(Dad in Portuguese – pronounced like pie)

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.

After my shower with my post-birth bump.

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 🙂

My next post will be about my hospital stay (I was in for 4 nights), though inbetween I might start posting my pregnancy project, Waiting For Things In A Time When You Rarely Wait For Things, with outtakes and how I feel about the image/hashtags now. You can also see the project on my Instagram.