All posts by Beyond the Wall


Baby number five was to be my last. We were both agreed on this. Five was plenty to be getting on with,  it was time to look to the future and to life beyond pregnancy and babyhood. I signed up for a postgraduate course to update my skills and I hoped to get back into work soon.

Life decided otherwise.

In October 2016 I discovered that I was pregnant again. It was a huge shock. I didn’t know how I felt about it. I couldn’t talk to anyone about it. I couldn’t even bring myself to tell the husband. I ended up booking a private scan in secret and on my own just to make sure that it was a viable pregnancy in the right place. It was a few weeks after that before I felt ready to finally break the news to the husband. It’s a miracle I was able to hide it that long considering I was so sick I could barely lift my head most days.

It was 24 weeks in before we told our immediate families and our extended families  and many friends didn’t find out until 30 plus weeks. We never announced on Facebook so some people didn’t find out until last week when our beautiful, perfect third son made his way into the world.

I didn’t think I would ever be posting on this blog again but I want to share his birth story.

I went into this pregnancy as a grand-multipara and from the off they were going to treat my GBS status as positive (a swab would later on confirm that I was indeed GBS positive again). All of this meant I was destined for the labour ward again. I was okay with this. I expected it. I didn’t even raise the prospect with them of home birth or going to the midwife led unit. It didn’t seem like there was much point, so I settled myself with the thought of the labour ward. I was worried about a repeat of T’s birth, as being back to back I had found the whole process extremely long and very difficult. I had a lot of bad feelings about myself and how poorly I had handled it.

I spent a good portion of the third trimester making sure I sat up straight on the sofa or using my birthing ball to do everything I could to get baby into the right position. This was also the first pregnancy where I got to the end and I wasn’t desperately impatient to go into labour. Part of this might have been because my due date (same due date that I had with little A in fact) was just a few days after the kids would finish school for the summer, or that Big A suddenly developed another condition on top of her type 1 diabetes (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, if you’re interested). In the end I was the most pregnant I had ever been, 39+6.

I woke up that morning and around 10 o’clock the contractions started. They were uncomfortable but quite irregular, around 10 minutes apart. Sometimes they would get closer together but then they would space out again. Around one o’clock I decided that I would call fetal assessment and get them to check me out because of my GBS status. I went up and they checked me over. I was only 2cm and they placed the belt too high so it wasn’t picking up the contractions I was having. In the end the midwife said I was best going home for a bit and seeing how things went. My MIL was having her annual 4th of July barbecue (a day early). We decided to swing by that for a while and stock up on some protein.

The contractions continued, going to 3 minutes apart when I was standing up but spacing out again if I sat down. At five o’clock we decided to go back to the hospital again. At this point I was 3cm and they decided to admit me and give me my first dose of antibiotic. After this we were moved to the antenatal ward and told to wait there and give them a shout of we thought things were ramping out.

And things continued on as they had been until about 10.30 when suddenly a contraction hit me that made me jump off the bed and burst into tears. They suddenly started coming one on top of the other with barely a gap in between. The husband went to find a midwife as I held onto the bed trying to catch my breath between these furious contractions. A midwife appeared and examined me again and said I was now 6cm so they were going to take me round.

This was the shocking moment. She said they’d had some changes in their guidelines and even though I was a para 5 and GBS positive I could go to the midwife led unit AND they were filling the birthing pool for me. As they wheeled me round she said oh someone who knows you is in the MLU.

They wheeled us into the room and the midwife on duty was none other than a friend of mine! J is a fantastic midwife, she was heavily involved with the maternity liaison committee that I used to volunteer with. It really couldn’t have been more perfect. All the things that I had always wanted but I hadn’t dared to hope for this time and it was just coming together.

They quickly finished filling the pool and around 11 o’clock I got in. It felt marvelous. I could move about so easily (yes, SPD had got me yet again!) and the water was so soothing. I used gas and air and held onto the husband and just went with what my body was doing.

At 12 minutes to midnight our baby boy was born. He came out still inside his sack as my waters didn’t break until after his head was born. There was a little bit of meconium  in the waters but they weren’t concerned. I lifted him up out of the water myself and cuddled him to me. It was just magical.

It only took six attempts, but I got there in the end.


A Surprise at 38 Weeks


I really have been rubbish at updating this blog this time round and then at the end it seemed to be over so suddenly that I spent a few days feeling a bit sad that I didn’t make more of it while it lasted. I was just so busy with the demands of family life, I didn’t have the time to sit down and wonder at it, and then little Mister decided to arrive a full two weeks early. He’s been the earliest if the squad yet, bursting onto the scene at 38+3 by my reckoning (38 by the doctor’s).

Sat down on the Saturday night with the husband. We got a take out and I decided that I really fancied a Crabbie’s ginger beer so poured myself half a glass of it over ice. about 9 o’clock contractions started and they were coming every four to five minutes. I left it an hour to see what happened but they were still coming, i decided to ring the MAU because my labours with the squishy one and little A were so short and because of the gbs. They told me to come up so I grabbed my bags but to be honest I expected that we’d be coming home again. They examined me in the MAU and I was only 2cm, cervix was soft but long and posterior. The midwife decided to do a sweep to see what happened and they left me on the ctg for half an hour. Contractions continued at every 5 minutes. they were definitely stronger when i was standing. The midwife asked what we wanted to do, we could go to the antenatal ward (the husband would have to go home) or go to labour ward (surprise, surprise they hadn’t heard anything about me going to MLU!) We decided to go to labour ward to see what happened. Contractions were very incoordinate and I said to the midwife that I had suspected for the last week or so that he was back to back, she agreed and suggested I keep standing and rotating my hips through contractions to try and get him to turn. Progress was very, very slow. They examined me about 3am and I was only 4cm. They offered to break my waters and I agreed because i hoped it would move things along. About an hour later i felt pushing urges and tried for a bit but nothing was happening, they examined me again and i was only 6cm. Baby was coping great with the labour but I was seriously flagging, contractions were agonising but had no rhythm to them. I started asking for an epidural as I was really struggling with the pain. The husband (who usually remains silent during my labours while i argue) decided this was the moment he would speak up and repeatedly tell them that no I didn’t really want an epidural and i’d only regret it. They gave me diamorphine which did sweet FA expect make me feel out of it (and not in a good way). I ended up in tears, literally begging for an epidural and they finally started to get it organised, by the point the anaesthetist came in I was 9cm so I couldn’t have it. If they had offered to shoot me in the head at that stage as an alternative I would have happily accepted. About two hours of pushing followed. I couldn’t surrender myself to it at all, E, and D and A were all born after very short second stages but I couldn’t stop myself fighting against it and begging with them to help me. I feel like the world’s biggest wuss, it’s just so embarrassing. Finally they did another internal and found there was a cervical lip that was getting more and more swollen, the midwife put her hand in and held it back through a contraction and while i pushed to force it behind his head. That was excruciating, but eventually I did manage to get him out. The cord was wrapped around his neck once, but he wasn’t at all distressed. I know I didn’t end up in the MLU but the midwives really were fantastic, they were very hands off, brought me a birthing mat and ball, there was a birthing stool available. They even brought us tea and toast in the middle of the night when our energy was flagging, it was a terrible experience but not because of where I was or who was around me, well except I’m not sure I’m ever going to forgive the husband. I kind of want to insist now that he is the one who gets sterilised, without anaesthetic, and possibly with a rusty knife.

My idea of romance has change somewhat too. I like to say to the husband, I bet Tom Hiddleston would have been a gentleman and sorted it


So at 7lbs 10oz my baby boy is here and I am so happy to meet him. He’s adorable.

37 Weeks and getting the PMA back.

I’ve been feeling kind of like an asshole. You see in every pregnancy I’ve had to fight for the birth that i wanted. I’m not naturally a bolshy person, not by any means at all. I’m more the type to silently fume about something or to get upset or to feel like I’m just causing a fuss, but I had such a poor experience with my first birth which I truly believe contributed to the severe postnatal depression that I suffered after. It’s taken a long, long time to heal those wounds (and the scars are still there) and I’m admittedly scared of it happening again. So i start off from a frightened and defensive position.

I’ve been pleasantly surprised, nay shocked, to see the apparent sea-change in attitudes that has come about in maternity services in the last few years. I got the GBS result and I assumed, based on previous experiences, that I was going to be told I HAD to go to labour ward and that I would HAVE to have my labour augmented and HAVE to undergo continuous monitoring as standard. I expected to encounter unhelpful, patronising, scornful and paternalistic attitudes because I have before (it’s very important to note that it hadn’t been my experience with every HCP I encountered in pregnancy, but it did make up a fair proportion and naturally sticks out in my mind as the most upsetting experiences). I was very shocked when the community midwife called me and suggested that I meet again with my consultant to discuss my options. That threw me, i have options??? So I agreed and went long to meet with the consultant.

Wow. Mind blown.

She went through the stats on group b strep, on how low the incidence is, on how low the actual risk is, though it is important to note that for the tiny, tiny proportion of infants who do become infected with it, it’s a very serious disease. She said she actually regretted ordering the swab in the first place, as since little A hadn’t suffered from an actual GBS infection there was no indication to swab me, but she had and we had got back the result that we don’t and unfortunately she couldn’t pretend like she wasn’t aware of that piece of information. My choices were, i could go to the labour ward (with GBS status alone is not an indication for continuous monitoring!) written in very large letters across my notes and the thorough endorsement of Dr X to invoke her name in turning down any intervention that I wasn’t comfortable with, or I could have my home birth but the midwives hands are tied by Trust policy so I wouldn’t be able to receive antibiotics.

I thought long and hard about it. The only reason I received antibiotics within the four hour time frame with little A was because my waters broke before contractions started. If it had been based solely on the amount of time I was actually in labour (1hr and 50 mins) I wouldn’t have gotten them. Squishy’s labour was even shorter at 50 minutes. What are the chances that I’d even get them on time? I may well be barely through the door of the place before I’m delivering (and it’s a looooooong walk from the carpark to the maternity ward). So we decided to go ahead and book the home birth, at least that way my options stayed open with regards to changing my mind and going to hospital if I felt at the time that was the right thing to do.

I called the midwives on Friday morning to inform them of our decision and I think they freaked out a little, as suddenly I was offered the use of the midwifery led unit (with birth pools!!!!) that I had been categorically told was a NO the day before. The MLU is a very, very happy compromise for me, it’s none of the medicalisation of the labour ward but I’d get the antibiotics. I was pleased to accept, i just want it in writing because I’m paranoid of arriving at the hospital and them claiming not to have heard of me and admitting me to the MLU is against protocol etc etc etc. That makes me feel like kind of a suspicious asshole but i’ve been burnt before, and then I feel bad about all my ranting and wailing about how awful they all are because they have been so supportive, respectful and accommodating when all I was expecting was a massive argument and a struggle against a power trip.

I suppose we shall see how it all pans out, but I’m cautiously optimistic.

In other news I appear to be gestating Godzilla. I had a scan on Thursday and Dr X is estimating baby’s weight at 8lbs 3oz already. OMG that’s bigger than Squishy (my biggest by far) was at practically term. I think I may have to take the gorgeous little newborn sized onesies out of my bag and repack it with something in the 0-3 month range. Baby Loki does feel long (well he is a frost giant), as I am frequently simultaneously headbutted in the cervix and kicked in the ribs. I’m terrified of what size he will be, and I know it’s all my fault for eating far too many buns.

I am so ready to give birth now. I went to Ikea with my sister yesterday to get the last few bits and pieces that we need. I sort of hoped long drive plus long walk might equal some baby action but all it left me with were a lot of Braxton Hicks and crippling new levels of SPD pain. My poor sister also suffers horrendously from endometriosis, so by the time we were in the Ikea warehouse we were both hobbling and groaning like some kind person should really come along and put us both out of our misery. On the plus side though I got a baby bath for a bargainous £6. I also got a new cot mattress for when we get around to re-rigging the co-sleeper. I’m just waiting on the new car seat I ordered to arrive and the replacement axle for our iCandy pram and we should be good to go more or less, though I’d quite happily go right now while I’m definitely in the less camp because oh my god the last weeks of pregnancy are beyond tedious and uncomfortable. I just want to have a working pelvis back. Chronic pain is zero fun. i know that i am incredibly lucky that i will escape this chronic pain within a few weeks, i’m just impatient for it to happen.

Generally though i’m feeling much more positive, if not very impatient.


My sister just called me with the results of the second swab, oh irony of ironies, it’s actually come back worse than the first one. Now we have heavy growth. I had a few days there of fantasising about my options, thinking that I actually had some and it’s all just been ripped away from me. I’m just sitting here in tears at the thought that I have to go back to that horrible labour ward.

I am absolutely gutted.

In which we discover you can’t buy a douche in this town….

Yesterday was a pretty busy day. I was running about picking the kids up from school (they all helpfully have different finishing times), doing an emergency “mum! my reservoir of insulin is running low I need more!” run, picking the husband up from work, taking my sister in law to hospital etc. I was exhausted when I finally got back to the house, only to discover there was a midwife sitting waiting for me. It turns out that they had the wrong due date written down for me (they thought it was the 5th) and they hadn’t got the results of the GBS swab so didn’t know if we were go for a home birth or not (and based on the wrong date they had they’d need to have everything in place by tomorrow).

So… we discussed options a little. I told her about the result of the swab and that I had been waiting to see my GP before I went back to them. I wanted to see if she (my GP) would agree in principle to prescribing the antibiotics if I was to labour to home, apparently this will only work if she’ll willing to administer them as well as the midwives aren’t allowed to. Well that’s not going to happen, my GP is lovely and accommodating, but she’s also award winning and exceptionally busy. Who knows what time of the day or night my labour could start? I’m not even willing to put her in the awkward position of having to say no to me and it’s just unfair. The next option we discussed was retaking the swab, since technically I was swabbed early at 34 weeks instead of 36. Well they seem open to that and they’d like me to come in on Friday morning for a repeat swab.

This has opened a window of opportunity for me (I didn’t discuss this bit with the midwife). I could theoretically try a chlorhexidine (hibiscrub/hibicleanse) rinse before the swab. This could result in a negative result freeing me up for a home birth that I so desperately want.

Update – so I went this morning to see the midwife and get the repeat swab done. In the end I did decide to try the hibiscrub regime, so last night and this morning I douched with 4 fl oz a mixture of 2 tbsps of 4% hibiscrub to 20fl oz of cooled boiled water. I will find out the result of the swab on Monday or Tuesday. I have really agonised about this decision, it’s probably not something I would have went for if I’d had GBS present in my urine or if the initial swab had shown anything more than scanty growth. I guess to be on the safe side I should probably douche again with the hibiscrub when labour begins, though that opens up a whole other can of worms about disrupting the normal flora of the vaginal canal and potentially depriving the baby of a once in a lifetime opportunity to be seeded with a good micobiome and opening us both up to yeast infections. I intend to go buy a good probiotic later. I’m sure there are people out there who will disagree with my decision but I am taking this very seriously and will happily go for antibiotics if there are any developments to suggest that I need them.

On a side note it was impossible to find either a douche, a large bulb syringe or even an enema kit that would do the job in this town. I had multiple embarrassing experiences yesterday going into pharmacies and asking for them. Then I thought…. well maybe I’ll try a turkey baster. I couldn’t even find one of those! What I ended up getting was this

silicone easy squeezeIt’s a silicone easy squeeze icing pen, you know… for decorating cakes, not for squirting chlorhexidine up your lady parts… but needs must and all that. It did the job (after a trip in the microwave steriliser). Let me reassure you right now that this piece of equipment will never go near a cake.



35 weeks and group b strep

So I have found out I have group b strep again. I’m pretty devastated to be honest because I cannot imagine any scenario going forth where I won’t have to fight and stand my ground in the face of immense pressure/resistance from HCPs.

When I went into hospital to have little A, I genuinely went with an open mind. I thought things must have moved on in the last ten years, it doesn’t have to be some horribly medicalised birth where they will strip me of my autonomy and treat me only from the neck down. I was wrong, the minute I stepped through that door they were insisting on continuous monitoring, refusing to believe me when I told them I was contracting (because as it turns out their machine was broken, and why would you ever listen to a person over a machine?) And they were putting me under immense pressure to get on a synto drip to speed things up. I had a literal succession of doctors and midwives parade through the room for two hours to tell me how wrong I was, and how I was putting my baby at risk and that I needed to make a decision now. Let me tell you, it had NOTHING to do with what was right or best for me and my baby. It had everything to do with the fact the wards were bursting at the seams and they wanted to get me through as quickly as possible. I have zero faith in the staff on that ward. I don’t expect them to be honest with me and I don’t expect them to respect me. What I do expect is a patronising, paternalistic attitude and an argument.

So what are my options?

Well… what they will tell me is my only option is to go to hospital at the onset of labour to get IV antibiotics. This will involve continuous monitoring (so restricted movement) and if my waters break before contractions begin they will push me to have my labour augmented. After the birth they will require the two of us to stay in hospital for 24 hours for monitoring, and if I happen to give birth at night they will chuck the husband out as soon as they want to move me to the postnatal ward. Sounds f**king horrid right? If I don’t want to submit to all of this I will need to fight them over it, and split my attention and energies at  time when I really should be focusing at the task in hand. 

Alternatively I can go in there and tell them I intend to have a home birth regardless, they will no doubt tell me that I can’t, that they can’t provide antibiotics at home, that no one will be wiling to cover it, that there are staff shortages etc. I can argue with them about it, I can start a letter writing campaign right now, contact the Supervisor of Midwives, the director of women and children’s services for the trust, my local MLA etc. 

I absolutely resent that in my first birth when I meekly went along with everything they told me that I must, I ended up genuinely feeling like I had been sexually assaulted, totally disempowered and humiliated and I honestly believe this contributed to the severe postnatal depression I experienced afterwards. In each subsequent birth I have literally had to fight to get the births that I wanted and to keep my sense of personal autonomy intact. It is utter bullshit that it has had to be this way. I have never felt supported or respected for my right to exercise decisions over my own body. I feel completely sick at the thought of having to speak to another midwife, never mind submit to their way of doing things. 

I couldn’t sleep last night because it just kept tumbling over in my mind the stress and the arguments that are to come. I don’t want to fight anymore, but I’m too damn stubborn to just give up and let them take my birth from me. 

This isn’t about me putting the birth experience before the baby. I’m okay with taking the antibiotics, despite the latest Cochrane review concluding that prophylactic antibiotic treatment of GBS is not evidence based and does not have a statistically significant effect on outcomes. I am okay with intermittent monitoring. I’m okay with most things if there is a medical need for them. What I am not okay with it is doing things a certain way because “that’s how it’s done” or because it suits the institution rather than it having the least bit of connection to what is best for me or my baby. 

Of course the other option is to disengage from services completely, which I’ll admit I am very tempted to do. I’ve already cancelled the midwife appointment I had booked for next week, in theory it is to give me time to think, but I’m not sure I can bring myself to book it again and put myself through this level of stress. Is it really too much to ask for to have the last month of pregnancy not to be a stressy mess? 

I really don’t know what to do, but I’m heartbroken to be sat here having to contemplate all of this. 

30 Weeks

Three quarters of the way there. 

So how are things going?

Well, the Best Friend (with whom I share too much) gave birth two weeks ago to a healthy baby boy via a planned c-section. He was a little grunty after birth and spent 3 days in the NICU. The staff in there are tougher than prison guards, seriously, he reached a stage where he was nicely stabilised but they still wouldn’t let the Best Friend hold him because “he needs to rest.” Apparently they have not heard of kangaroo care. They also refused to treat his tongue tie so now…. he’s being bottle fed. Well done. 

Rant aside. I am happy to report that they are home and baby is doing well and is ridiculously cute. I’m quite enjoying hogging all the cuddles that I can. 

I had my glucose tolerance test. I haven’t heard the results of it, but apparently they go with a no news is good news policy so I can assume all is well. In truth I was way too impatient to sit around waiting to hear if I would get a call, or not so I secreted one of the eldest child’s blood glucose monitors in my handbag. I did finger prick tests on myself fasting, at one hour and at two hours and my results were 5.2, 5.9 and 6 mmol/l, well within range so it’s all good. I was glad the glucose tolerance test was not the horrendous experience that I was expecting. I had read so much about being feeling horribly ill during or after it. I had a teensy bit of a headache but was otherwise fine. 

The only real issue I am struggling with is the return of the dreaded SPD. I was climbing a set of stairs last night and could actually feel my hip sort of popping in and out. Sometimes it’s okay but the other times it’s so bad I’m horribly unsteady on my feet. This is leaving me trapped at home as I’m not capable of walking out pushing little A in her buggy. I am yet to pass my driving test either so I have an unusable car sitting in my driveway to add to my frustrations. I have failed my test twice so far, on one major fault each time. First time I’ll admit I messed up, I clipped a kerb on my way back to the test centre but the second time I think it was more down to a judgement call with a notoriously tough/strict examiner (I’ve since found out that his nickname is alternatively “No Heart” – a play on his surname, or “No Pass”). I’m sitting the test again on Tuesday, terrified I’ll get him again but convinced I’ll fail anyway regardless. 

We moved Little A out of our bedroom and into sharing a room with the Squishy one. This is probably the only meaningful thing we have done in terms of prep for the one baby, other than I bought two packets of Pampers new baby nappies that were buy one get one free. I have not arranged the new mattress, car seat, replacement wheel for the iCandy buggy (the old one fell off) or done any of the other things that I need to. Ten weeks is still lots of time though and right now I need to focus on failing my driving test repeatedly and getting the kids back to school in September. I don’t even have another appointment with a HCP until 34 weeks and everything will still be up in the air until they do the GBS swab at 36 weeks, so prepping feels a little pointless.