I haven’t posted about this project since July. I was just having a morning stretch and thought I should post about it again – even if they’re just short posts. Before I was making my life difficult by digging through outtakes, so I’m just going to focus on the photo/s that I chose for each set of hashtags.
So here we go…
So I took this photo in November when there wasn’t even a whiff of pandemic in the air (ooh so poetic).
I really do not know how I got that scratch; I’m guessing it was a rogue fingernail.
The photo is cropped and rotated – I don’t like having to crop my work for some reason, but too much boob felt unnecessary. I do like that the picture is a little abstract.
Typically it was the first day that I had actually been sick. Later on I would realise that eating a little bit when I felt sick would make me feel better, but at this point I did not know that.
Afterwards before every blood test I would make sure that I drank plenty and ate something. Usually my appointments would be in the morning so I would have less time to eat, and I went off a lot of food so I’d at least try to eat something that I could tolerate (usually some light crisps – like the oven baked ones).
Back then there were more options, but it did seem super early. I remember calling the hospital when I found out I was pregnant and they were like ‘so you’re having the baby here?’ I did not know what my options were; I hadn’t researched or talked to anyone about them yet.
Then I was surprised at my first midwife appointment that when she asked where I wanted to give birth that she said ‘at home?’ first. She said she had never registered someone for a home birth before. I thought maybe I should think about it more as she straight away referred me to the home birth team, but she did say I could change my mind.
I really wanted one, but I was worried about the neighbours in case the birth was during the night…
I told T and he wasn’t very enthusiastic about the idea. Back then he was very much ‘you go to hospital and you do what the doctors say as they know best’. Luckily, we did an online hypnobirthing course together and he completely changed his mindset.
Now if he finds out that anyone is pregnant he really recommends the course to them; he says it made him feel empowered (so imagine how it made me feel). There is so much that we never knew about pregnancy before doing the course and it just explained things in a way that made things less daunting. T always says that ‘knowledge is power’ and with the knowledge you know how to advocate for yourself.
In the end I never got a home birth, but the course definitely empowered me to say no to a c-section (if I had needed one then fair enough, but I didn’t) and to ask for a vaginal delivery. T wasn’t there during the discussions due to Covid, so I did not have anyone to back me up. Luckily it worked out in the end, though I didn’t get a home birth or water birth. It’s just really good to know your options and think about your preferences (though my birth plan never accounted for a breech baby – so if you’re reading this while pregnant please think about it and what you would want to do).
I also learned that staying calm will help labour continue (adrenaline stops surges), so I focused on doing the breathing techniques that I had learned on the course and danced to music and tried to relax as much as possible whilst waiting on the maternity ward. If I had got stressed out then I probably would have had to have a C-section as they put me on a countdown (at 9am they said if I wasn’t in established labour by 6pm then I would not be allowed to have a vaginal delivery). I do love a challenge…
Funnily enough with Covid and all, those who weren’t so keen on me having a home birth in the beginning actually saw it as a good idea in the end. It seemed less risky going somewhere where I could possibly get Covid and everything. However precautions were in place there (I had a lovely swab up the nose) and it was so odd but nice to be around a lot of strangers for the first time in months.
You can read my birth story here and about my hospital stay here.
Usually I show outtakes, but the Waiting… one is pretty much an outtake from my series Ulterior Monologue, so instead here is the chosen picture for that project and the accompanying hashtags.
So as I explained in my Animal Hats & Cramps post, there was a bit of an overlap between Waiting… and my previous project (Ulterior Monologue). Reading the hashtags for the top image too I realise that I talk about it a bit there too.
I announced my pregnancy on social media when I was 20 weeks and it was starting to become obvious in my dance videos/I got bored of hiding my bump under big jumpers. I definitely bought some time, but was relieved when my archive posts were over.
Anyways, I did a photoshoot around a dragon fruit and cutting my finger, and in the UM hashtags I talk about 3 bad/unlucky things that happened that day. This includes getting a bit of plate stuck in my finger which is why I have tissue wrapped around my finger, though I didn’t talk about my recent (increased) clumsiness.
I talk about how I think it was due to my mind being elsewhere, though it speaks about accidental knife cuts rather than the injury being from the plate splinter. (When I first started to write this post I also thought the need for a tissue was from a knife cut). I wrote the hashtags when I was preparing to post the project on Instagram and decided to add the photo in – I wanted to post them in chronological order so it made sense to decide early on if I wanted to include an image from this shoot.
I vaguely remember writing them as I wasn’t sure whether or not to use the term ‘baby brain’. I really don’t like it, though I think me being distracted by daydreaming about being pregnant and becoming a mother is what probably led to me getting the injury. I like to think that I was pretty ‘with it’ after this incident, so when on a few occasions people accused me of being baby brained when I wasn’t I was annoyed…
(Okay, yesterday I walked into the living room to get the dummy that Tiago asked for and walked back into the bedroom with a tube of nipple cream. In my defence I walked there – the whole 5m – wondering if I should put some nipple cream on… I think this says a lot about not getting enough sleep/being sleepy. If a guy does something forgetful after becoming a father is he accused of having baby brain? Probably not.)
I prefer the UM image more though it wasn’t a favourite and it wouldn’t have fit in Waiting… I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do with the shoot, but I like playing around with hands and arms so it makes sense that I did something a little odd – the hand that isn’t holding the dragon fruit is definitely a bit weird. I think I took the Waiting one for myself as it has that pregnancy feel to it; a classic light touch to the belly, but nicely concealed. I definitely wouldn’t have put it in UM.
I could have perhaps been more inventive with the title of the Waiting image – (Dragon Fruit &) Cut To Finger (7 and a half weeks), whereas the UM one is Dragon Fruit & Cut To Finger. However I like that the similar titles tie the two images together as if you saw them side by side you wouldn’t necessarily think that they were from the same shoot – you’d probably just think ‘wow she’s clumsy’ if you knew that they were both pictures of me.
I think that’s about it.
I feel like talking about the whole project is a bit of an undertaking, but I’m determined to do it! 5 down, 79 to go!
My fear is that no one is reading these and I’m spending a lot of time/energy doing this blog, but I guess an audience doesn’t grow overnight.
I’m also awkward about promoting my posts across all my social media sites. The other week I wrote about how I would be better at promoting my work, but I still feel like I am bothering people. A lot of people use social media to promote their stuff and I’m sure there’s a good amount of people who don’t feel weird about it, and I don’t feel awkward for them so why do I for myself? That’s something that I can possibly post about more in the future…
I had planned for this blog to be more than ‘just’ a place for posting my photography and video, so in this post I thought I’d share exercise videos that I did whilst I was pregnant.
(Scroll down if you just want to see my favourite YouTube pre-natal exercise videos and not read my preramble).
We moved to Liverpool at the end of 2018 and we signed up for the gym not long after. I didn’t like going, but watching Pointless (a TV quiz show) whilst using some equipment made it somewhat tolerable. Fact: I cancelled my membership after they stopped showing it on their TVs.
I enjoyed the classes, but I didn’t like that the ones I wanted to go to were quite late in the evenings and I felt like planning my time around an exercise class wasn’t that productive. I then got pregnant after I stopped going to the gym. I had been looking forward to answering yes in a class whenever they asked if anyone was pregnant, but never mind. Covid would have cut short that experience anyways with the closure of gyms…
When we lived in London I mainly did YouTube exercise videos, as the gyms close to me were expensive/I just felt like I didn’t have time to go to one. At one point I did go to a bootcamp in a park by me, but it would take up most of my day and after meeting Tiago (and making him go with me for a bit) I realised that that wasn’t how I wanted to spend a big chunk of my weekend.
I had planned to get into pre-natal exercise earlier than I eventually did. The intention was there, but the motivation was lacking. In the end it was hip/pelvis pain that made me start, as getting a maternity pillow wasn’t enough. I wanted to just workout at home due to the ease of it.
Other pregnant people I knew wanted to wait until the pains got bad enough that they got referred for physio, but I didn’t want things to get worse. Surely with physio they would just give you stretches anyways, not some magic pill that would make the pains and aches magically go away? Covid probably put a stop to most face-to-face physio appointments anyways…
Warning: I’m just a regular person sharing what exercise videos I liked whilst I was pregnant. Talk to your doctor/listen to your body about what you can and can’t do. It’s meant to make you feel better, so don’t push yourself too much. If you can’t do the complete video without stopping that’s fine – I also used to get through a lot of water during them too.
In addition, I tried to go for a walk everyday (particularly once lockdown started). The earlier you start exercising in your pregnancy, the easier you’ll (hopefully) find it. As I got more pregnant I wasn’t able to do what I could earlier on, but it wasn’t such a shock to my body as I had been doing these videos for a while. It was funny doing them the first time and thinking ‘I can’t believe I’ll be that pregnant’, but before I knew it I was more pregnant than the teachers in the videos.
One of the hardest parts of working out at home is just getting yourself onto your mat/into your space where you exercise with the intention to exercise. Having a baby adds another hurdle to getting there, so enjoy one less block whilst you can!
Anyways, here are the YouTube videos that I did the most whilst I was pregnant.
A good one to start with
10 minutes a day is a good start if you really don’t feel up to exercising. I think my morning sickness also made exercising unappealing. I moved to longer videos after feeling like I was just getting into the video, but it was over already.
In the beginning I’d exercise just once a day – usually just in the morning. Before long though I realised it wasn’t enough and I’d exercise in the evening too.
After doing the one in the previous section for a couple of weeks at least, I moved onto doing this one pretty much every morning (after letting my muscles recover from the first time).
After a while I got bored of doing it everyday, so I started to do it every other day (alternating the next two videos on the second day).
After a while I started to do the 3 videos on a 3 day cycle.
Then after no longer finding it comfortable to sit on a chair and sitting on an exercise ball instead, a friend recommended the video below, and it became a 4 day cycle.
In the evenings I started off doing the below video (there is a morning yoga routine, which seems the same so I preferred doing different ones).
And then I wanted to try other ones, so I did this one below occasionally instead.
Then I began to alternate them each night, but after a while I knew the routines off by heart so I started to watch TV and do a mix of the two videos from memory. I found myself doing a lot more than if I was doing one of the videos.
I feel like with the videos there should be two versions – 1 for people who have never done the video before/are doing it for the 2nd or 3rd time, and then there should be one for people who don’t need the explanations. Particularly with the pilates one as once I knew it by heart I would carry on and do the routine, occasionally skipping the video forward to where it was useful to be in time.
Also I would just add my favourite stretches that were missing from the video I just did to the end of my practice – and did extra kegels when I thought about it, particularly with squats.
One last video that deserves a mention as I enjoyed it, but then managed to forget about it…
I feel like the running theme of this blog series is ‘maybe I chose the wrong photo?’ When is it too late to change the selected image? Is it ever too late? I guess it depends on where the photo has been. For me it doesn’t feel too late yet as most of my images have only appeared on my Instagram account and who said ‘what is posted on Instagram is set in stone’? No one as far as I’m aware.
I want to produce a book of this project so I guess it is good that I am revisiting each image and outtakes to have a think about if I did make the right decisions or not.
I chose the photographs based on how I felt at the time, but with the passing of time comes different responses to the images. Maybe I need to value what I thought when I was choosing, though at this point in the project I was not editing the pictures on the same day or same week as they were taken. I kept shooting and hashtagging, and I didn’t really look at them properly for a few months – there is a picture in the project that talks about finally getting round to editing the project. I realised what a mammoth task I was leaving for myself, so I spent some time editing it down (which is what I’m doing now with my new project and is why this post is a day later than I planned). After that I tried to edit the pictures down quite quickly, so I had space on my computer and so I wasn’t left feeling overwhelmed at a later stage with a baby in my arms.
Anyways, in these images I am ‘wearing’ a scarf instead of clothes. I can’t remember making that decision – I really need to start keeping a shoot diary – but I am guessing that it was because I worry about wearing the same clothes in all my photographs. I say this and some of my clothes have been in quite a few projects.
I had started to wear the scarf out around that time as it gets very windy in Liverpool, so it was probably lying around the flat when I was thinking about what to wear. I did do a project where I wore towels, so it’s not that odd really.
I guess with the chosen image I wanted something that wasn’t that flattering, due to the topic. In the outtakes I look a bit more ‘put together’, whereas in the chosen one with the way I am touching my chin and with my general expression you can tell things are a little off. At this point I wasn’t actually being sick, but the feelings were sufficiently unpleasant.
The meat/fish cravings were odd and I never had them again. I’ve been vegetarian since I was 15 (I’m 31 now), so it was quite bizarre though the fake fish burger seemed to do the trick. I haven’t eaten another one, but the burger place has only just reopened after being closed due to Covid. (A fun fact for you there – you’re welcome!) Maybe my body just needed a bit of protein and after this episode I did make an effort to eat more protein.
I’d forgotten that I mentioned an ex-boyfriend in the hashtags. The same moment came into my head last night when I started to put this post together and I thought about writing about it, but I already had. However I do now remember feeling awkward when I posted it to Instagram.
Why the need to write about it? I’m not entirely sure, but my work is therapeutic for me and has helped me work on various things like my confidence. It started to decrease when my family moved when I was 7 (to about half an hour away which isn’t much at all) and then it got destroyed in high school. In college I let my barriers down and cried a lot so my art teacher recommended that I go to counselling. I cried through all my BA assessments, so dating someone who did nothing for my confidence probably wasn’t the best idea but I also felt like that was what I deserved and I would never find someone else. Writing this whilst being married to a great guy, and with our month+ old baby lying beside me I’m starting to feel a bit emotional.
Breaking up with someone/being broken up with is always weird as you don’t know what will happen in your future. It’s nice when you can look back and be glad it happened as it led you to being with someone else (who hopefully really suits you) or maybe you’re just really enjoying being single.
I haven’t spoken to this ex in over 10 years and I doubt he will read it. If he does then I’m sure he will admit that he wasn’t the kindest person. I think he had underlying issues that he needed to sort out, and I genuinely hope he has.
Another moment that I am sharing because I just find it so bad that it is funny is that when we were out at clubs (can not remember the last time I was in a club), girls would come up to him and tell him that I was so ugly and that he should be with them and not me. He would tell me with a massive grin on his face and not say anything to comfort me/make me feel better about the situation.
A couple of other things: He was embarrassed about me meeting his family because I was vegan. I stopped being vegan (for myself after 4+ years as I didn’t want to be vegan anymore) and broke up with him a week later. I never met his family. Also, he told me if I cut my hair short he would break up with me.
When I finally broke up with him (and cut my hair shorter) people around me would tell me how much they didn’t like him, but they were worried it would push me towards him more if they told me how they felt. True, I am stubborn but in this case I was just unable to realise how badly he was treating me. I felt like I deserved it/I would rather be with him feeling bad about myself than single.
If you recognise your partner in what you read above, then know you deserve to be with someone better. You deserve more.
As always my blog post turned out differently to what I thought it would be, but I’m enjoying the journey and hopefully this may help someone who needs to hear it right now/when they read this post.
After all this sidetracking and distraction though I think I did choose the right image. The other possibility would have been the last outtake, but even with whole projects based around nudity you may be surprised to know how awkward I feel about nudity in my work. It’s something that I feel deserves its own post rather than a paragraph at the end of a long post that has already taken an unexpected turn, so I’ll put that on my list for a later date!
It’s on the list under ‘nudity/censorship/awkwardness’.
One last note: Though my work is usually about me, I have always hoped that other people would find something helpful in what I do. I guess with this blog I can go into more detail and write about things that have led me to making the work that I make. I have always worried that people find me narcissistic and vain, though my reasons for making my work are from feeling the complete opposite. Sharing this blog now feels really awkward, but I really hope it might help someone, either with a situation they are going through now or to help process something in their past. Some parts I have rewritten over and over again during the day, but I need to just let it go and live with it.
Something that I have been saying a lot lately is that when someone is mean to you, it says a lot more about them than it does about you. And this goes for how I have acted towards people as well. I am happy to admit that I am not ‘perfect’ – whatever that is – but I want to work on becoming a better person for myself and my family. Asking yourself why you do things and react the way you do – and really listening to yourself and the answers – is a good place to start.
Who would have thought a blog post about morning sickness could get so deep?
And the image with its original Ulterior Monologue hashtags – it shows it in a very different light.
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?
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…
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.