One of those moments

Warning to those expecting a blog about baking the first bit is a birth story. If you want to skip to the baking scroll to the first photo.

There are moments in life around which everything else seems to revolve where everything changes, where who you are and everything that’s important shifts. Tomorrow will be the 15th anniversary of one of those moments in my life.

15 years ago yesterday I was ‘just’ pregnant me. Then that evening we went to our friends’ house and before we got our dinner I stood up and pop water was flowing out of me like a tap had been turned on in my pants! Everyone panicked a little bit, we phone the hospital they said don’t panic but maybe pop in and get checked out.

I got checked out, we went back to ours and got take out. No contractions started, it was a bit of an anticlimax, I wish I’d enjoyed that last night of sleep and quiet even more than I did, it’s not really been quiet in our lives for any of the following 15 years.

We pottered around at home 15 years ago today, in the afternoon I had a few contractions and then about 8pm they started to take my attention and take my breath away. We phoned the birth centre, they said come and see us. We got there and everything seemed to slow down again, they said you’re probably not in labour it might be better to go home, but they checked anyway and my cervix was doing its job -4cm dilated, we could stay, I could relax, we were left in a lovely dark peaceful room and gradually through the night everything went as it should. Except one thing, my baby had done what so many babies do when their water’s go before they’ve  got in the best position to exit, he got stuck with his back next to my back and his head tilted.

My very own midwife arrived in the morning, I was one of the lucky people even in those days it wasn’t that common to have your own community midwife look after you in labour. I was the magic 10cm. I started to push. It didn’t get us very far. After longer than the officially recommended amount of time my midwife said she thought we should go to the main labour ward and see if there was more that could be done to help me get this stuck baby out.

There was a lovely midwife and a junior doctor who didn’t get her hand out of me when I said stop. If you’re ever having a baby don’t feel you can’t say stop and make sure you have someone like my midwife with you to get their face in and say stop means stop. Just because someone has a white coat on doesn’t mean they have rights over your body, only you can say who’s in your vagina and who’s not. Don’t ever feel bad for saying no.

Well, baby was very well stuck and starting to show signs he wasn’t happy there. So we were off to theatre to try assisted delivery and if that didn’t work have a c-section. That was where I met my new best friend the anaesthetist who gave me a spinal block, up until all the fiddling around had started I’d been ok with labour but after all that I was so grateful for the total sensation block. Well the junior doctor didn’t have any luck with the the vaccum cup and thought she better go for the c-section but the midwives had called in the senior doctor by that point and I was very grateful again that as I’d already torn up pretty badly down there she made sure I was only going to need one set of stitches. Baby arrived with the first go with the forceps but all we got to see was his testicles before he was whipped away to the resus area. This was that pivotal moment that changed who I was and came back to haunt me for many years. I’ve never known a fear like the fear that your baby might die and I’ve never felt so helpless and so confused. I got to see baby as he passed through the recovery room in his incubator on the way to the special care baby unit but just for a moment and it felt so wrong, everything in me wanted to hold him to me and never let go but I couldn’t.

Over the next couple of days as my baby recovered from the infection that had developed in my placenta another change came over me more gently, the centre of my world changed and I knew I would now live and die for someone else without a second thought. By the time baby was back with me in the birth centre I was ready to go home and start my new life. With hindsight I can tell you if your waters have gone you don’t have to let anything in your vagina until after baby comes out, it’s very possible to have a baby without a single vaginal exam (I know I’ve done it twice since) and infection is much less likely to get in if nothing else goes in.

I always suggest that pregnant women listen to the positive birth stories, not the horror stories and I’m sometimes careful who hears all the details of this birth. But it’s important to know that things don’t always go according to the birth plan but even then you and your opinion experience and feelings are still important, a healthy baby is important but it’s not the only thing that matters. If you find you can’t control the return of the overwhelming feelings that happen sometimes when birth doesn’t go how you thought it would then talk to someone about it. Having messed up feelings, panicking, not feeling like a good mum is something that happens to lots of people and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Look for the help that’s out there. PANDAS Foundation is a good place to start.

So back to the present. I’m amazed by my first born each and every day of my life, I worry most days that I’ve not loved him enough. It breaks my heart when he can’t see how wonderful he is (even on the same days when he knows he’s right about everything and everyone else knows nothing) and I’m motivated to learn to love myself to set a better example to him.

Kind of timely this came out today

Baking today is all about a Birthday Cake. I’ve made quite a few over the years, some more elaborate than others but this year I thought I would go for some simple fun.


This recipe is an old favourite, a Mary Berry Fast Cakes chocolate cake. It’s easy to make and almost always turns out well. It took about half the time the recipe suggested to bake partly due to my hot new oven and partly as I put it in three smaller tins rather than one big one.

Managed to catch them before they over cooked and having taste tested the bits I cut out of the middle of two cakes to make a doughnut shape they taste amazing as usual. Cheated with the icing because it’s been a very full-on week in our family (more another time) and I’m not sorry!

Looks great. Hopefully, it won’t be too embarrassing for a 15-year-old to share with friends.


10 observation points to you if you spotted the new scary cooking companion. 4 year old kitchen assistants are fun!