First published in The Mother magazine, Issue 72, Winter 2016
My watch stopped at 6.15am on 8th March 2013, at the same moment my body told me it was moving into the first stages of labour; the show felt like a plug suddenly unblocking. I hoped for an active VBAC home-birth with my independent midwife, after a traumatic first labour almost three years earlier, resulting in an emergency caesarian under general anaesthetic. I was emotionally and physically ready for labour, vowing to stay out of hospital at almost all costs.
The morning passed peacefully as my surges gradually intensified. I vividly remember nursing my 33-month-old son Ewan, crying silently as he suckled, treasuring this moment knowing it would be his last feed as a single nursling. When my surges became too much, I gently unlatched him. He cried and cried as if sensing a sudden catastrophic change was about to take place. Continue reading Birth story
At the age of twenty-nine I became a first-time Mum. In my twenties I struggled to carve out a place for myself in the world, navigating along a complex path which at times led me to a feeling of clarity and purpose, but more often to stress, confusion and uncertainty.
Pregnancy provided me precious time to reflect on my childhood and early adult-years, as well as the opportunity to look forward to the kind of world I wanted my son to be brought up in. On the cusp of motherhood I experienced a kind of epiphany. I suddenly felt with all my being my role in life was to take unending care of my son. The path appeared inviting and bright, yet cluttered with demons and traps to set me back.
Continue reading Stepping out onto the path of motherhood
Exercise during pregnancy
Like most mothers-to-be, I was amazed when I first saw Ewan’s tiny little body doing summersaults on the screen at the dating scan, when I felt him kick for the first time. He refused to stay still or in the right position long enough for the sonographer to measure him to determine his gestational age! Perhaps this is not surprising given his parent’s energy and love of exercise.
As an active person I carried on running until the end of the first trimester when it became too much. I then took up swimming, which I found a great form of exercise when pregnant, due to the buoyancy of the water. I stopped climbing as I deemed this too risky, but carried on mountain walking until days before giving birth, albeit at a slower pace over shorter distances! I enjoyed snow shoeing in the Swiss and German Alps when I was 15 weeks pregnant, feeling out of breath on ascents and struggling to fit into my salopettes! I found it invigorating to be in the beautiful snowy mountains, sharing all this with my growing little bump. I also attended weekly pregnancy yoga classes up until my due date, which I found really beneficial in preparing for labour both mentally and physically.
We went on holiday to the Orkney Islands when I was thirty weeks pregnant. Staying in an isolated cottage on the most northerly island in Orkney, Westray, with the high winds, hardy sheep, wild bays and waves crashing against the rocky shore, I practised yoga and meditation daily. Ewan constantly reminded us of his presence by kicking vigorously whenever I rested, as we prepared emotionally for this massive, but very welcome, change in our lives.
One week before my due date, we went on our last weekend trip away to north Wales, where I managed to walk short distances from the cottage before getting out of breath. Back at home I waited patiently for Ewan to arrive, knowing he would come when he was ready.