Browsing Category


Baby Family Milestones Motherhood Pip Pregnancy

On the end of the fourth trimester


This week my little boy turned 13 weeks old and with that miniature milestone we reached the end of our ‘fourth trimester’, the point at which the crazy insanely fast growing, changing adapting that Pip has been rattling through in the last few weeks is supposed to calm down to merely super-speedy.

And I think that’s largely true; he’s not growing out of babygros on an hourly basis anymore and week on week the changes become more subtle.

I had all of these plans of sorts before Pip arrived; I was going to really wallow in the first three months, drinking in every moment of my tiny baby, and just focussing on settling into family life and I think that’s what we’ve done, give or take.  The spiders building a multiplex along the hall ceiling would certainly agree that my focus hasn’t been predominantly housework anyway.

I’m incredibly lucky that with the girls still spending a couple of days a week in nursery I’ve had that one on one time with Pip and we’ve loved our days together even if they do mostly involve sitting on the sofa nursing, and then lots of singing silly songs and cuddling, and then a little of Mummy taking photos of Pip.Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

And when we’re all together we are starting to find a rhythm to our days and weeks, there are nursery days, baking day, go to the butchers day, ballet class day, church day and playing at home days.  Days when we go to the park in gorgeous sunshine, and a lot of days when we go to the park in full waterproofs under a cloud of driving rain.

There are days when it feels easy and effortless; when I get to be fun Mummy, playing and singing; Pip and Elma nap at appropriate moments; I get to spend some one on one time with each of them; and I know that there’s nowhere in the world I would rather be.

And there are days where I feel like I must be the worst mother on the planet; where everyone’s tired and grouchy and there’s too much shouting all around and nothing useful’s been done and all the lovely activities I planned have had to be shelved, culminating in an epic meltdown by one of my children because their new toothbrush is their favourite colours of pink and purple and the very strong sense that if I don’t just get five minutes without anyone touching me so that I can go to the bathroom in peace I might actually scream. But there’s still nowhere in the world I would rather be.

That’s not specific to becoming a family of five though; that’s just life with pre-schoolers!

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

And in this way thirteen weeks has passed incredibly quickly. I remember saying that I wasn’t even going to think about ‘real clothes’ until the Little Bump was at least three months old. At the time it seemed like a great age, now that we’re here Pip’s just so tall and tiny he doesn’t seem ready for real clothes; I think we might just keep rocking the babygro look a little longer.  After all, you can’t baby a baby can you?

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

In fact, just as my pregnancies have never lasted a mere 40 weeks I think I should get to apply the same sort of counting here and extend my fourth trimester to well, however long I want it to be. Babygros are awesome, especially the sort with polar bears on; leggings and nursing tops will cover a multitude of sins; the children are all happy and cuddled; we have food; we have clean laundry even if occasionally you have to go and hunt for it; and one of these days I’m going to miss that little chorus of “what doing Mummy?”.

For now let the fourth trimester continue. Or as we call it; real life – the good, the bad, the always wonderful.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life


Baby Family Motherhood Photography Pip Pregnancy

The Fourth Trimester: the reality of a Mummy tummy


I’d like to think of myself as not being a particularly vain person.  I don’t think I’m terribly obsessed with my image and my overall look, which is probably born out by the number of times I’ve turned up to nursery recently with at least one hastily mopped up damp patch about my person and that my hair styling choices have been red hair bobble or orange hair bobble.  I didn’t think I was generally susceptible to peer pressure either, to the constant barrage of images and messages that make up our everyday lives, some helpful, others not so much.

And yet. And yet it turns out it might all be a giant fib, a little light illusion to make me feel good about myself, after all who really admits that they are a slave to the media’s “do this! do that!”

Five and a bit weeks ago I gave birth to a very gorgeous, very long, very snuggly little 9lb 9oz son.    And although the birth plan went a little bit out of the window (that’s why I don’t write them anymore), it was a great birth experience.  My recovery on the other hand was tougher than I expected.

For the first 24 hours or so after he was born I could only really stand upright comfortably and walk if I was holding my tummy in with a spare hand.  I don’t know whether this is what was happening or not but the only way I can describe it is that it felt like Pip and everything that surrounded him stretched out my tummy further than it’s been stretched before and that once he was delivered all of my internal organs decided to go and hang out in this nice newly vacated space.

I’d try to engage my core muscles to put everything back where it should be and they just weren’t there.  And that bit at least I know is true; my abdominal muscles have been stretched and pushed and tested over the last nine months to the point that I’ve been told in no uncertain terms that I am not to do any kind of ab exercises until after my 6 week check up, and then ease into things nice and gently.

It’s a consequence of being me, carrying the way I carry my children (netball up the jumper style), and having two large babies within 20 months of each other.  And it’s a consequence that I’m more than happy to take for the very great privilege of being Kitty, Elma and Pip’s Mummy.

And as and when it’s sensible and safe for me to do so I’ll start adding in a little exercise to my daily routine and slowly but surely I hope that I’ll be able to rebuild my core strength, work through the weight that I put on during this pregnancy, and reacquaint myself with some non-maternity clothes. It’s going to be hard work, but it’s going to be doable.

So far so good.

And yet.

I know that women don’t generally just ping back into shape one month postpartum, particularly in subsequent pregnancies. I’ve had three children for goodness sake and with the exception of a colleague who was back in her jeans in less than 2 weeks (incidentally having delivered a much smaller baby and being an all over more miniature person than me) and probably the girl in the bay opposite me on the postnatal ward who practically had a flat tummy again as she toddled out of hospital with her 6lb something teeny tiny baby daughter in a very shiny brand new car seat, it’s taken the rest of us several months at least before ordinary clothes became an appealing prospect.

So why do I feel so self conscious about my little Father Christmas style jelly belly?  Why do I feel like when I leave the house I want a giant neon sign to flash above my head “I am not fat, I just had a baby!”? (incidentally H’s answer to that one was “you do – it’s the baby!”)

Could it be vanity; wanting to be that magical and largely mythical sort of supermum that makes Mary Poppins look mediocre, cooks every meal from scratch, more to the point has children who eat everything she makes from scratch, is always attentive to her husband, immaculately dressed and shod, and claims that she just bounced back into shape with a little light breastfeeding?

Or is it that I’m not as immune as I thought I was and that an over-exposure to Grazia magazine courtesy of the doctor’s waiting room has got my subconscious convinced that the right way to do this, the way that makes me a success at the final stage of pregnancy and birth, is to look like I never did it in the first place?

Whatever the cause I don’t like the answer.  I don’t want to feel embarrassed or want to hide the shape I am.  My body just did something amazing, and is continuing to do something amazing, and if it needs to let everything all hang out for a little while longer that should be OK.

I was always taught that if you didn’t like something you need to work to change it.  I can’t do anything to change my shape just yet (well I could probably reduce the hobnob intake, but I already switched from chocolate to plain and when you’re nursing two children that’s quite enough self sacrifice), all I can do is change how I feel about it.

So as a first step I took a picture.  A bump picture from the fourth trimester. A picture to say this, this is the reality, this is what your tummy actually looks like a month after delivery when you’re 34 years old, a little on the plumper side to start with, and you carry a 9lb 9oz baby to 41 weeks.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

And this, silly subconscious, is why you shouldn’t care.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Because all the funny sideways glances, real or imaginary, or the acquaintance who comments in delight that you’ve got another baby on the way while the baby you’ve just had snoozes next to you in the pram mean absolutely nothing to this little boy; and to this little boy I am the world.

Baby Elma Family Kitty Milestones Motherhood Pregnancy

41 Weeks and a Day of a Little Bump and Me


Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Well I did say I was quite determined not to be writing a 41 week update that didn’t include a baby didn’t I.

And perhaps that determination paid off.  Or, well, there are a few other candidates for successful methods of natural induction, but let’s begin at the beginning and Monday afternoon.  It was raining.  Pouring down in fact without the slightest hint of a break in the cloud.  We were tired after a busy weekend and the girls were at that point where you just have to leave the house.  So we bundled them into waterproofs and I took them down to Upton House with my Dad (who was staying with us on his way back south from a 50th birthday party of a family friend) while H stayed at home to enjoy a couple of hours in which he wasn’t being used as a climbing frame or having his head sat on.

The gardens at Upton were beautiful as always, spectacularly soggy, and the emptiest I’ve ever seen them, but once you’re wet you’re wet and we had a lovely time wandering round at Elma and Kitty pace, looking for fish in the mirror pool and trying to decide whether the beanstalks were tall enough for Jack to climb if they were taller than both Mummy and Grandpa, culminating in a trip to the tea shop for a well earned cream tea and an ice cream for Kitty.

And tea is perhaps where it all began, if you discount going for a nice long walk as a way to get things going which I shall do, if only on the basis that it’s mentioned in all of the pregnancy books and therefore must by very definition be a complete old wives’ tale. But tea, tea could be an option; the day before I went into labour with Elma I’d taken Kitty out for a very special last Mummy and Kitty tea and it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if my children are extremely responsive to the lure of cake.

Meanwhile back at home, H appears to have been nesting. He’d washed up lunch and then decided that he might as well assemble the baby’s new Tripp Trapp, even if it wasn’t going to be needed for a little while.  Well the last time he built a Tripp Trapp from scratch I was already in early labour, the penny just hadn’t quite dropped yet.

It was all brewing into a perfect storm. And as the storm outside was getting ever wetter and my raincoat gave up doing up over the bump several months ago the explorers at Upton happily accepted an offer of a golf buggy ride back up the drive to the car park. Shades of a tractor ride, I thought with a wry smile and clung tightly to Elma as we bumped along on the very back of the buggy.

But I think the real tipping point was Kitty.  I’ve been asking her each morning whether she thought ‘Baby Pinky’ was coming today, and she’s always said no, so while she was curled up in my lap for a cuddle I asked her to tell Pinky it was time to be born.

“Okay; where’s her mouth?” she asked, and when I pointed to somewhere vaguely on the south side of the bump she lent in and said most determinedly,

“Come On Baby Pinky!”

And amidst everyone’s giggles and smiles I asked again;

“So is Baby Pinky going to be born today?”


No more than five minutes later, I felt an oddly familiar scrunching sort of pop feeling, and my waters went.

I’ve never started labour like that before.

One quick call to the hospital later and we were popping out the door “just for an hour or so” just to check that it was my waters and with a naive certainty that we’d be back. We didn’t even take the hospital bag.

Note to all pregnant girls: Always take the hospital bag.

Warwick Hospital isn’t very far away and it was no time before we were installed in the same bay of the assessment ward as we’d been for Kitty and Elma, and popped on a monitor to see what was going on.  The good news was that it was definitely my waters, the not so good news was that there was a trace of meconium in them; rather than going home to wait for things to get started I wasn’t going anywhere, and rather than 24 hours to get going I had an hour.

Well I tried. I bounced on a birth ball while I was on the monitors, did as much positive visualisation as I could manage, and waddled up and down the corridors whenever I could while H went home to retrieve the all important bag, feed the family and settle the girls for the night.

He bet me a dolly mixture (just the one) that it would all have done something but another examination put him in my debt to the tune of one small pink sweet and as Monday crossed into Tuesday we moved to plan B; a syntocin drip to induce labour, and a side order of exceptional grumpiness from someone who had really rather planned on spending as much of her labour at home as possible.

But life is what it is and I understood the reasons why I needed to stay, even if I didn’t particularly like them.  It also helped that we had a truly fabulous midwife. Zoe was very clear that while  I may well be on a drip and may well need to be monitored constantly that did not mean under any circumstances that we were going to tie me down to the bed (her words, give or take).  I’d already had my early monitoring bouncing on a gym ball and for the whole rest of my labour I could move to whatever position seemed most helpful, I got to come off the monitors if I needed to pop to the bathroom and if the biggest downside was having to pre-announce a plan to move, well that’s not exactly the biggest hardship.

And then this is the part where it gets a bit fuzzy.  I know I started with just the drip and H squeezing my hand during each contraction (which oddly helped me to relax into them far more than my squeezing his hand), and then after a little while they got a bit more intense and I put the TENS machine on.  I remember saying that I thought I might be ready for the gas and air and asking H and Zoe whether they thought it was time; H said “yes, four contractions ago at least” and Zoe had already got it out of the wall and set it up ready in the previous contraction.

I remember Zoe’s continued confidence that I would deliver on her shift and desperately hoping she was right (she was, and we even gave her an hour to write up her notes!).  I remember being examined after about four hours on the drip, steeling myself to being told I’d only made it to 3 or 4 cm and being hugely relieved to hear 7. And less than half an hour later 7 must have become 10 because the pushing started whether I wanted it to or not.  I may not have bitten the bed this time but I did clamp down on the mouthpiece for the gas and air hard enough to give myself an achy jaw the next day.

And then he was here; and we were holding our beautiful son.

And that’s the start of a whole new story.  The story of our beautiful boy.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

As for his name, he has one, and has since he was a few moments old.  I never know how clear it is that Kitty and Elma are not our daughters’ real names.  We decided when Kitty was born to take a leaf out of Daphne du Maurier’s book and say simply that she (and later her sister) have beautiful and unusual names, and while our boy’s names may be a little more commonly occurring, their meanings are special and they suit him down to the ground.  We’re still working on a blog pseudonym though, given that “Pinky” just doesn’t seem to quite work for a baby boy, so if you have any great suggestions, let me know!

And I can’t go without saying a massive thank you all for all your comments and messages for our family and our lovely boy, we treasure each and every one of them, and it means the world to me that he’s being welcomed with such joy!

Baby Family Pregnancy

Dear Love Everybody


Kitty and Elma would like you all to know that they are proud big sisters to a baby brother who arrived safe and sound yesterday morning weighing in at an impressive 9lb 9oz, all long legs and utterly gorgeous.

I’ll be back to tell a little bit more of the story of our Little Bump but for now here is a little peek at the most beautiful baby boy that ever there was.



Baby Family Milestones Motherhood Pregnancy

40 Weeks of a Little Bump and Me


Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Well here we are. 40 weeks.  With two previous pregnancies hitting 42+1 and 41+4 respectively I knew in my heart of hearts that I would be here, writing this update in the confident expectation that I’ve got near to a couple of weeks to go, but however much I told myself that there was always a smidgen of hope.

Hope that this time my body would get the message a little sooner, that the baby would arrive naturally and easily in perfect timing without getting me into this final two week wait.

And I know as I’m writing that there are people who would move heaven and earth to be in this position; whose longing for a baby is such that they’d take 42 weeks, an induction, a c-section or any of the rest of the labour horror stories in a heartbeat, and I’m determined not to take any of it for granted.  But I think that you can acknowledge that the last two weeks are hard, without diminishing the joy and anticipation I feel about this Little Bump, in a way that perhaps is hard to explain to anyone who hasn’t been there.

For me, the last two weeks are when the worries come sliding back in; is the baby still head down? will he or she be born safely? am I going to need to be induced again? just how big is this baby going to be? is the baby moving enough? is the baby moving too much? what if it gets tangled in its cord? It’s everything you ever wish you hadn’t read on google and everything your subconscious can drag up in the quietness of an empty house all rolled into one.

And you’re big and you’re tired and you don’t sleep very comfortably any more and you can’t pick things up off the floor.  It’s pretty much the perfect storm once you add hormones into the mix, no wonder I spent one afternoon hiding under the duvet sulking when I was expecting Kitty.

From a rational point of view I have absolutely nothing to be worrying about; when we saw the midwife last week the baby was doing exactly what it should be doing, with the small exception of lying back to back which whilst unhelpful is not a fundamental problem.

I think the baby tracks my movements; when I wake up in the morning I can feel feet up on my right hand side suggesting that we have a nice head down baby, spine on the left, perfect for early labour, and then as soon as I start getting up and on with the day I think that spine starts to slide around to the back.  I’m spending as much time standing or on all fours as I can at the moment but I do have to drive my car, nurse Elma, cuddle Kitty and occasionally it’s even nice to sit down for a while.  I’m hoping this will be this baby’s ‘thing’; with Elma she just didn’t engage at all until I was actually in labour but her positioning was pretty good; perhaps the Little Bump has nailed engagement but decided to skip out on the positioning lesson?

I’m still getting plenty of Braxton Hicks contractions, and occasionally a little run of them that makes me think something might be about to happen, but to no avail, and there’s been nothing else to suggest that this Little Bump wants to put in an appearance any time soon.  Even two sessions of acupuncture (lovely though they were) and a sweep from the midwife (not even slightly lovely) don’t seem to have done much to get us further forward.

With Elma I gave birth 24 hours after my second acupuncture session and I’ll admit my inner science geek was kind of expecting to repeat the experiment and get the same results, I just have to keep reminding myself that when I was this pregnant with Elma I hadn’t even had one acupuncture session or a sweep or anything, and while I am overdue, I’m not that overdue.


The truth is that I’m ready. I’m ready to take on labour, not exactly to embrace the pain because I’m not quite that crazy, but with each of the stronger Braxton Hicks I remember that I know how to do this, that I can trust myself to do this, and that I want to do this.  I’m definitely ready to be done with feeling cumbersome, and fielding ‘helpful’ comments in the supermarket/playground/anywhere outside my house about how I must be really ready to give birth now (yes, yes I really am).

And more than that I’m ready to meet this tiny new person and learn all about them, to welcome them into our family and watch them take the place in our hearts that was always theirs since the stars began.