Categories
Pregnancy

Animal Hats & Cramps (6 and a half weeks)

The photo that I’m talking about in this post isn’t actually in my pregnancy project (Waiting For Things In A Time When You Rarely Wait For Things); it’s in my Ulterior Monologue project under the title of My Mum Bought Me A Hat When She Was On Holiday. I was pregnant at the time though and I had forgotten that I’d written pregnancy related hashtags for it.

The image with the pregnancy related hashtags:

I called the folder ‘Animal Hats & Cramps’.

#ILookSadInThePhotoBecauseIStartedToGetHorrendousCramps
#AndEveryTimeIDoItScaresTheShhhOutOfMe
#IThoughtTheWorstWasHappening
#SoIThoughtIWasPhotographingMyselfWhilstTheWorstWasHappening
#AndIKeptTakingPicturesAsIWasTooScaredToGoToTheBathroomToCheck
#AsEveryTimeIGoToTheBathroomIGetScaredOfWhatIMightFind
#OrWhatMightHappen
#ButAfterAWhileILetOutALotOfAir
#AndItMightHaveJustBeenTrappedWind
#SoIHadALittleLaughToMyself
#ButEveryTimeIGetAPainIThinkTheWorst
#AndOftenItIsTrappedWind
#ButIAmWorriedOneTimeThatItWillNotBe
#AndIDoNotWantToBeRushingToTheDoctorsOrHospitalEvery5Minutes
#IJustDoNotKnowWhatIsNormalYet
#INeedToCalmDownAndTryNotToStressSoMuch
#ThatIsTrue
#ButItIsEasierToSayThanDo
 

And the image with its original Ulterior Monologue hashtags – it shows it in a very different light.

My Mum Bought Me A Hat When She Was On Holiday

#IWantedToBuyAHatSoItSavedMeTheHassle
#ThoughIWasThinkingMoreOfAThickKnittedNavyColouredHatOrSomething
#ButThisIsTheKindOfHatIWantToWear #ButWouldNotBuyForMyself
#ButIfMyMumBuysItForMeWhenIAm31ThenItIsOkay #TheOtherDayIWatchedAll4EpisodesOfQueerEyeInJapanAndIWasThinkingIShouldStartDressingMoreBoldlyAgain #ButTheRealityIsIJustWantToBeDressedAllInBluesAndRemainAsInvisibleAsPossible #WhichMightSeemOddConsideringTheKindOfWorkIMake
#WhichIsMainlyPhotographingAndVideoingMyself
#ButIGuessIDoNotWantToBeCompletelyInvisible
#WhichIsPerhapsOneOfTheReasonsWhyIMakeWorkAboutMyself
#AsItIsTherapeuticForMe #ToBecomeMoreComfortableWithMyAppearance #AndNowWithTheseRamblingHashtagsIAmBecomingMoreComfortableWithMyThoughtsAndWords #AndIWantToBeVisibleOnSomeLevel
#ButOnOtherLevelsIWantToBeInvisible
#LikeWalkingDownTheStreet
#IAmNotSayingIAmACelebThankWhateverAbove #ButIMeanJustWalkingDownTheStreetWithoutAnyStrangeLooksOrBeingNoticedAtAllForAnyReasonWhetherItBeGoodOrBad
#IDoNotMindChattingWithRandomPeopleButSometimesIJustWantToBeInMyOwnLittleWorld #AndWalkAlongWithoutHavingToDealWithThingsLikeZebraCrossingsAndOtherAwkwardInteractions #ButAnywaysIHaveNotWornThisHatOutYet #AndIRealiseThatTheHatIsAnAnimalHatWhichIsWhatIMainlyWearInMyDanceVideos #AndIWearAHatInMyDanceVideosBecauseIDoNotLikeHowILookInHats
#AndIWasBulliedForAHatIHadInFirstSchool #SoItIsMyWayOfTryingToOvercomeMyPastExperiencesOfHatsWhichSoundsFunnyButIsTrue #ButIHaveOnlyReallyWornHatsLatelyInMyLivingRoom #SoIWillMakeAnEffortToWearItOutOnTheNextReallyColdDayAsIDoNotWantColdEarsOrAHeadache #IForgotToMentionWhatARidiculousSizeThosePomPomsAre
#MyMumSaidICanCutThemOffButIFeelBad

Ulterior Monologue is the project that I first started to use hashtags with. It was my response to my awkwardness of using hashtags and wanting to use more text with my images, but also feeling awkward about that.

The project was about wanting to be pregnant but not feeling able to talk about it. It started to come to a natural end when I found out I was pregnant, though there was some crossover with my new pregnancy project. I didn’t announce my pregnancy on social media until I was 20 weeks due to feeling worried that something bad would happen and not wanting to ‘curse myself’. It also took me a while to figure out what I was doing project wise and how to go about posting without revealing I was pregnant; in the end I went for the ‘post all the projects I’ve ever done’ archive approach on my Instagram.

I had forgotten about how I felt during this photo, but having never been pregnant before every little pain made me nervous. Pregnancy is thought of as a beautiful time, which it is, but I found it very stressful – even before the pandemic.

I never went to get the cramps checked out. It could have been wind (I think I had forgotten the scenario so I never had to share hashtags about trapped wind, but after having a baby you talk about bodily functions A LOT) or it could have just been my uterus stretching (makes sense as I was growing a baby inside it) or something else.

It is said that a photo says a 1000 words, but I don’t think a picture can tell you everything or even that much sometimes. Maybe a picture just makes you think what you want to think based on your life experiences and personality. Show a picture to 100 people and I wonder what they would all say and how differing the opinions would be about what the image is really about. Obviously it depends on what the image is of – show a picture of a cat and I’m sure there would be a mixed crowd of ‘that’s cute’ and ‘I hate cats’.

These two sets of hashtags really show two different sides to the image and if you only see one set then you miss part of the story. How would you know that I was pregnant and stressing out about cramps just by looking at a picture of me in a hat? It’s true I don’t look happy, but I’m not about to open the can of worms that is ‘why don’t people smile in photos these days?’ Does it really matter though about only knowing part of the story? I’d forgotten half of it myself.

Anyways, I think using hashtags with my work really brings another level to the pictures, though whether people choose to read them or not is their choice.

I love text with photographs and back when I used to go to exhibitions (used to because of Covid) I’d often spend more time reading the accompanying image text rather than looking at an image. I wonder if this will change when I finally go to a show again – will I want to hang around? Will I be able to with a baby anyways? Will I feel comfortable using a public toilet and changing her in one? How will I feel about breastfeeding in public or will I just choose to express and bottle-feed her?

We shall have to wait and see…

Categories
Motherhood

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.