Wednesday, December 19
You have been with us for a month already. Apart from about three nights of screaming and burping and farting a lot, you are incredibly easy going - this is probably because you're either attached to a boob or being held or carried for most of the day.
You've uncurled from your froggy newborn scrunchiness, have put on two whole pounds already and I can see some lush squidgy podginess developing on your thighs. You have developed a rather unattractive case of baby acne and have lost most of your hair, so you just have a bit at the back and sides. This, combined with your unruly eyebrows, make you look a bit like my dad.
When you open your eyes they are big and the darkest navy blue. You've just started to make some cute coo-ing noises and I think I can see the start of some lovely baby smiles. You have enormous feet and you smell milky and sweet.
You've been on quite a lot of outings so far - to the beach, two parties, St Fagan's, out for coffee, softplay, the cinema, a reindeer parade, bouncy castles, Gwen's christmas concert, Santa's Toy Mine - and you have slept though the lot. But as you're a winter baby, you've also spent quite a lot of time snuggled up indoors while we eat stollen and watch Muppet Christmas Carol.
It's hard to be the mama and the photographer in the house, so I've hardly taken any pictures of you yet. So promise to stay squidgy for a few more weeks please and I'll be on the case.
It all kicked off on the early hours of Friday morning when I had some leaking waters. There were no contractions though, so I carried on with my day and hoped things would get started. It wasn't until I went to bed that evening that I started to feel contractions, with the odd one waking me up.
Odd fact: all three of my labours started on a Friday and all three of my children were born on a Saturday (and so was I).
When I woke on Saturday, I knew the baby would be coming that day, so I shipped the girls off to my mum and dad's, promising them I'd produce their baby brother ASAP so they could come home and cwtch him. I'd originally thought they might be around when he was born, but when it all started happening, I realised I needed them out of the house before my head could engage and my labour could really start. Sure enough, as soon as they left, contractions picked up. Bizarrely, despite having done it twice before and religiously doing my Natal Hypnotherapy, I felt a bit scared of what was going to happen - what if it all went a bit Pete Tong this time round?
They left late morning, and with the house so quiet and tidy, Dave and I felt a bit lost. It was the most beautiful sunny day, but I didn't feel like leaving the house to go for a walk. Instead, I baked my traditional 'in labour' cake (Nutella and cinnamon - delish), played a few games of Boggle (a bit strange as not something we ever usually do, ever) and watched The Hour on iPlayer.
I'd called the midwives earlier to let them know things were starting, and they rang halfway through The Hour to see how I was getting on. Realised I'd had counted seven contractions in the half an hour that I'd been watching, so they said they'd come over and see how I was getting on.
A lovely midwife called June arrived at about half four. She wanted to examine me but I declined and said I'd rather just get on with it, but asked her to stay as I felt things were moving on. I was bouncing on my birthing ball, chatting away, but having to concentrate on the contractions. Soon, I'd stopped chatting altogether and was in my own little zone leaning over the birthing ball. Then I was groaning, feeling a little bit like pushing and absolutely boiling hot.
Surely, it wasn't going be long until we met our baby boy? Despite me showing all the signs that I was about to give birth, the midwife said she really needed to examine me now so that she could call the second midwife to come over. I agreed, but really wish I hadn't when she announced that I was only 3cm dilated. 3cm?? That could not possibly be true. The contractions were coming one after another, were lasting at least a minute and were really strong. I was so deflated by this information (the very reason that I really hadn't wanted a countdown of my progress) and I kept saying to Dave that I couldn't possibly keep this up for hours on end. I felt like crying.
Turns out this was the classic self-doubt phase, and next thing I know, the full-on contractions have stopped and my body was starting to push the baby out. 3cm? Pah!
Midwife number two arrived just in time for the main event, with me greeting her on all fours with my bottom in the air waiting for the next contraction. I've never really experienced the pushing phase before as both girls literally took two pushes to come out. This time, I had to do a lot of hard work. But wowsers, what amazingly satisfying hard work and, within about 20 minutes, Wilf arrived on our stripy rug in the lounge. It was 7.32pm.
As with the girls' births, there were no tears from me - I just couldn't stop smiling. I cwtched Wilf and sniffed his gorgeous tobacco-ey newborn scent, while we waited for the placenta to deliver. Once this was done (and in the freezer for future planting in the garden!), we all had tea in the lounge, while midwife number 2 showed me her cake decorating portfolio on her iPhone. Gotta love a home birth.
We named him Wilfred Thomas Winter Shepherd. Thomas after my grandad, and Winter because the morning after he arrived, we woke to beautiful sunshine and the first frosts of the season. Gwen and Molly came back from Nanna and Bampa's house that morning and were absolutely thrilled with their new brother/toy. They haven't stop kissing him since. Nor have we.