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The Genial Hearth
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Archive for October, 2006

Bilby’s birth story

This is well and truly overdue, but, better late than never!

Bilby was very eagerly awaited! Every time Puggle woke up from a nap or a sleep he’d ask ‘Baby brother or baby sister?’, and of course I had been thinking I was on the verge of labour for weeks now! When asked, Puggle would say that he thought Bilby was coming on ‘Monday or Tuesday’ (mind you, this is his answer for almost anything related to time:-) )

He was right about the Monday bit:-)

I woke at about 2 am with the first contraction I couldn’t sleep through. I was due to go to the loo (I was pregnant after all!) so I got up and wandered out. Back to bed, sleep and another couple of contractions. They seemed to be about 15 minutes apart. By 3 I was fairly sure that this was real (that’s about the time Paddington came to bed, having just sent an email to work saying that he guessed he’d be in the next day:-) ). About 4 I decided that I couldn’t continue to sleep and this roused Paddington. He got the phone and we called the birth centre to give them a heads up, and then my parents to get them to collect Puggle (we weren’t sure how quickly things would progress, as it turns out we could have left it a couple of hours, but it was definitely easier not to have to consider him further!). They arrived a little later and we passed Puggle on to them (he was so excited! I worried he might not go back to sleep, but apparently he did:-) )

Then it was a matter of waiting… I pottered around, getting the last minute things together and just pausing every now and then. We used the contraction timer that someone posted on my mother’s list:-) Paddington lay down for a couple of hours nap on the couch… things were just plodding along, and I was doing fine—and I didn’t want him falling asleep later when I actually needed him! And then about 6.30 I decided that I might be able to doze. The contractions were somewhat regular, although they alternated between real doozies and somewhat milder ones.

I managed to doze between contractions for about an hour and a half, conscious that they were becoming more intense. About 8am I decided that I didn’t think I’d last much longer at home. We timed a couple (I’d stopped while napping) and they were about 5 minutes apart, lasting between 90 and 120 seconds. So we rang the birth centre, loaded up, and headed out.

We arrived about 9am. I perched by the edge of the bed, on the birth ball and went through things with the midwife. (She had taken one of the two classes we did, and we found her good value. I didn’t end up having any appointments with her, but we thought we’d be happy if she ended up attending the delivery.) She went off to make sure that the bath was cleaned (there’s only one in the centre, and it had just been vacated) and refilled for me. Before long I moved into the shower. It was a great relief:-)

After a while though, I began to feel that I couldn’t keep going, that I wanted drugs, I wanted the baby cut out, it was too hard (although, I hadn’t quite reached the point of saying so:-) )… this was the point that the midwife came back to say the bath was ready:-) Paddington reminded me that I had wanted to use the bath… and I figured that I probably should or I would end up regretting it:-)

I made my way across the hallway and had another contraction on the side of the bath. I got in, and it was fabulous! I had another contraction, and the midwife asked if I’d had any urge to push. I told her that I’d had a little bit with each contraction, but nothing to speak of. Then the next contraction hit and I had to push! She told me that if I didn’t want the baby to be born in the water, I’d better get out… she then went to get the trolley.

(Technically, the birth centre doesn’t do water births. We had been told that they do happen on occasion, mostly because people can’t get out in time. I had hoped that I’d be able to have one, but given that the only place in Perth where you can have them is with a home birth, I was not expecting to.)

Perhaps if I hadn’t been hoping for a water birth, I might have been able to summon the energy to get out, but as it was, I certainly couldn’t! When the midwife returned, she told me I’d need to turn myself so as to be sure that the baby was born properly under the water.

I have no real idea of the passage of time. It certainly wasn’t as long as with Puggle. I was on my side, near the edge of the bath (it was kind of an awkward size, it was difficult for me to find a spot where I could brace my feet, so I wasn’t quite as comfortable as I might have been). I pushed a number of times (I have no idea how many). At one point Wendy suggested I put my hand down to feel the baby’s head. (One of the many things about the birth centre that I appreciated was that the midwives made suggestions, but I didn’t feel the force of them as instructions, just as suggestions. I was free to follow if I chose, at my own pace.) Another contraction or two later, I did. I found it very comforting to be able to ‘push her back in’ (not that I knew she was a she at that stage!) each time that I felt I wasn’t ready to push her head out. I felt so much more in control of things than with Puggle.

Eventually, I managed to push the head out, a pause, and then the rest came. Delivery was at 10.32am, after between 4 1/2 and 8 1/2 hours (depending on how you count it). Bilby was put up on my chest, and I felt the cord still pulsing… We let the water out so that the placenta wouldn’t come into the filled bath. Paddington looked to see what she was—he was reasonably certain she was a girl, although it was an awkward angle with her up against my chest. Within about 10 minutes she had rooted around and with minimal assistance, attached, and was nursing.

I had said I was happy to have an injection of oxytocin to deliver the placenta, but as the rest of the delivery had proceeded quite relaxedly and naturally, the midwife suggested that we could delay the injection and see how the third stage progressed. Before long the placenta was delivered, and then the cord clamped and cut. The midwife took the opportunity as she was inspecting the placenta on the side of the bath to show it to us… very cool!

Eventually, Paddington took Bilby, and the midwife helped me out of the bath, helped me wrap up, then we all moved back to the room. I hopped into bed, Paddington returned Bilby to me, she re-attached, and we rested. Paddington sat with us, and rang our parents to tell them. Some time later, the midwife returned to weigh (3560 grams), measure (50 cms, head circumference 34 cms) and check Bilby over. Then me. No tears, just some grazing:-) Bilby had been nursing for a long time by then:-) And it didn’t hurt!

Then we were left to ourselves again:-) I took the opportunity for a shower, then returned to bed. We all napped for a while:-)

This delivery was so peaceful and relaxed. I’m not saying it wasn’t hard work and painful, just that I felt in control of what was happening, and that it was all occurring as it should.

Nursing continued well. We stayed over night and just needed to be seen by the paediatrician. She arrived and checked Bilby over. She had difficulty finding a femoral pulse as Bilby got very distressed when her nappy was removed… so then we had to wait for her to return a couple of hours later. She arrived just after lunch, found the pulse and then we left. I felt good enough to drive home (just as well, with the baby seat in place, the driver’s seat has to be further forward than Paddington finds comfortable!)

Breastfeeding started to get a little uncomfortable, and I had some blood (discharge or graze, I’m not actually sure which) just before the midwife visited. So when she asked how it was going, she suggested booking me in to see the LC at the breastfeeding centre. (I had a month of agony when I was starting to nurse Puggle, so I was very keen to avoid the same thing this time around.) I got an appointment for the next day. The appointment went well. I made a follow up appointment for the next week just in case. But by the time Tuesday arrived, I rang up and cancelled, nursing has continued to progress well. I can’t get over how comfortable it is! I think with Puggle it never got past a certain level of discomfort, rather than reaching comfort… I wonder how much is due to the fact that everything has been so much more relaxed.

There was a Little Girl

Who had a Little Curl
Bilby’s curl
Hopefully she will oblige with the ‘very, very good’ bit, but not with the ‘horrid’ bit:-)

Brandied Mulberry Jam

Mulberry Jam
I finally got around to making this! We’ve been collecting mulberries, but we kind of had other things on our mind in the middle and hadn’t yet made it.

650 grams mulberries, washed and picked over to clean up
1 lemon, chopped into segments
400 grams sugar (then adjust according to taste)
250 mls water
8 tspns brandy

Boiling jam
Boil mulberries, lemon and water for 10 minutes.
Add sugar and bring to a rolling boil for 10 minutes.
Test on a chilled plate (I then cooked it at a rolling boil for another 10 minutes). The test bits can be returned to the pot, or you can use them to taste and adjust your sweetness level.
Skim, and remove lemon segments.
Stir in brandy.
Bottle in clean, hot bottles, and seal immediately.

This quantity made 2 normal size jars and one mini-jar, so not a lot… but probably a good choice for a first attempt.
single mulberry jam

It’s a beautiful colour, but there is not really too much mulberry flavour (there definitely was a fabulous mulberry aroma while it was cooking though!). The lemon is too strong, I think next time I will put in half a lemon, and just add extra lemon seeds… If I’m organised, I’ll put the lemon segments and extra seeds in a muslin bag so that it’s easier to remove. I’d also pick out the stems a bit more. I thought the fruit would disintegrate more, so I didn’t bother, but the berries are pretty much still whole, and I don’t know that the stems are really sufficiently softened. I’d also try with less sugar, it’s a bit too sweet. Obviously that may vary with the fruit, but it would be better to try 300 grams next time… it’s easy enough to add more if it’s needed. I also didn’t particularly notice the brandy flavour at all.

Not a bad experiment, but definitely needs some work. I probably wouldn’t anticipate this keeping more than a couple of months.

Puggle obviously liked it:-) As I was putting him down for his nap, he thanked me for giving him some on toast for elevenses:-)

This Week

We will be listening to

Folksong: Scotland the Brave
Composer: Johann Strauss Jr (Romantic)
Work: The Gypsy Baron: Overturen
Poetry: A Good Play by Robert Louis Stevenson

And looking at
Artist: John William Waterhouse (English)
Work: Penelope and Her Suitors (‘Man giving flowers’ according to Puggle.)

Fortunately much the same as last week as we really didn’t pay any attention to this all—not with ‘My Sister!’ around:-)

Bilby is here!

She arrived on Monday morning at 10.32am, weighing 3.56kgs and measuring 50cms. All went well with the delivery (no drugs! no stitches! I love the bath!) and we were home a little over 24 hours later.

Puggle adores her, although he has taken (is still taking) some time to adjust… as are we!

No name as yet:-) It’s not been a week, you didn’t really expect us to have one yet?

This Week

We will be listening to

Folksong: Scotland the Brave
Composer: Johann Strauss Jr (Romantic)
Work: The Gypsy Baron: Overturen
Poetry: A Good Play by Robert Louis Stevenson

And looking at
Artist: John William Waterhouse (English)
Work: Penelope and Her Suitors (‘Man giving flowers’ according to Puggle.)

Nerd baby alphabet

This just looks so cool!

The Joy of Toddlers

Puggle is 2 and nearly a half years old.

He’s definitely a toddler, and I think so far, this is my favourite age.

I’ve been meaning to write about the joys of a toddler for the last couple of weeks. His presence is a real help as I’ve been very pregnant (not that it’s completely one-sided… he still asks to be picked up and carried at odd moments for example, which is not easy at this stage, and he’s not completely even tempered… but the ledger is most definitely on the positive side!)

He is full of energy and enthusiasm.

For keeping floors clean there is nothing like a toddler and a roomba.

For picking lemons a toddler and a rake are essential.

He’s full of cuddles and kisses and ‘I love yous’.

He loves to talk and tell us things… unprompted conversations about all sorts of random stuff.

He smiles and grins and gets so excited by all sorts of things (currently he’s bouncing because we’re having fish and chips and that means I will have to cut a lemon!)

Still Waiting

Well, after feeling sure that Bilby would be here by now (or at least, my first instinct was that Bilby would arrive today), I’m still waiting! And I’m still not feeling very patient:-(

In the meantime I am getting bits and pieces done, because I’m not feeling much like going out and about (and Grandparents have been coming by and entertaining Puggle!). For example, I’ve now finished the rug I was doing for my niece (Baby Girl)… I started it before she was born and she’s now 8 months old! I’m quite pleased with how it’s turned out, and I’m now using a similar technique to finish making a rug for my mum that was her birthday present from about 5 years ago (never mind the fact that it’s Spring, and not really rug weather, at least they’ll be done!)

I’ve even managed to empty a box that came from Paddington’s kitchen when we got married… it’s been sitting in our hallway ever since (well, since it moved from Puggle’s room).

Baby Girl’s rug took about 3 hours yesterday, the box of glassware took maybe 2 hours last week. Both of them were tasks I thought would take much longer. I’m hoping mum’s rug is also only a couple of hours.

The real hold up is that I don’t use the sewing machine when Puggle is awake. I was thinking yesterday that I should get together some activities for him that he is only allowed to use when I’m sewing, and that way I might get to sew a bit more regularly (I say as we are about to introduce a newborn into the house again… I know my timing is off!) We gave Puggle a cloth Advent Calendar for his first Christmas, and I plan to do the same for both Bilby and Baby Girl. Of course, there is a reasonable amount of sewing involved.

And I still would like to get Puggle’s floor rug finished… and make one for Bilby!

So, working out how to (occasionally) sew during the day with Puggle around would be really quite helpful…

I guess, at least it’s occupying me while we wait!

This Week

We will be listening to

Folksong: Scotland the Brave

(Every fifth week is a light week, so that we can ‘catch up’ on stuff.)


I couldn’t help but giggle at this🙂

This Week

We will be listening to

Folksong: Scotland the Brave
Composer: Johann Strauss Jr (Romantic)
Work: Overture, Die Fledermaus
Poetry: The Hippopotomus by Jack Prelutsky

And looking at
Artist: John William Waterhouse (English)
Work: La Belle Dame Sans Merci


So today I finally realised that we’d kept the boy away from the mulberries for sufficient time that there was a decent crop.
Mulberries on bench
To put this in proper perspective, our tree is quite young, it’s not a great deal taller than I am. I was quite pleased with the quantity (and there’s still more than that to ripen!)

There was definitely enough for a pie:-)

Mulberry Pie

I doubt I could have fitted any more mulberries in!

I’m not sure if I used my ‘usual’ pastry recipe (in spite of my plans, I haven’t made many pies this winter), but I chose this Sweet Short Crust because it uses a whole egg. Unless I have plans for the leftover white/yolk, I go for whole egg versions of things:-)

200 grams plain flour
30 grams self raising flour
140 grams shortening (I use butter)
pinch of salt (I skipped this because I didn’t use unsalted butter)
60 grams caster sugar
1 egg

Rub the shortening through the flour and sugar. Add the egg and gradually mix into a firm dough. Turn onto a floured board and knead lightly.
I then shaped it into a flat disc, wrapped it in plastic and put it into the freezer for a bit.
Wash your mulberries. Ours are mostly picked from the tree rather than the ground, so it’s mostly making sure there aren’t any living things on them still.
Divide the pastry into two (not quite evenly) and return one piece to the freezer. Roll the other out to fit a 23cm pie dish. Fill with mulberries. Roll out the other piece to go on the top.
I did forget to glaze this which would probably have made it better.
Bake at 180˚C for about 20-30 minutes (depending on your oven).

We had it after it had cooled a bit, served with cream.


Brush Up Your Shakespeare

Start quoting him now.
Brush up your Shakespeare
And the women you will wow!

In the last couple of days I’ve seen a number of people blogging about the Bard, and introducing him to children. I figured I’d collect the posts together for my own later references:-)

First of all there’s M-mv, then there’s the Headmistress.
And Kathy Jo has a whole swag of posts, here, here, here, and here.

Montessori Monday, MMM progress—Sandpaper Letters

They’re finished!

I did end up trimming all the boards. They are all now 100 mm wide, with the short letter boards being 98 mm high, and the tall letter boards being 130 mm high.

I ruled lines across the boards for the letters to ‘sit’ on (to help orientation, and also to model correct positioning). On the short letters and the tall letters that extend upwards, this line is 25 mm from the bottom. On the tall letters that extend downwards it is 58 mm from the bottom.

I traced the templates onto the ‘sandpaper’ (remembering to reverse them, so that the textured side ends up on top!) and then cut them out.

I have positioned the letters on the line and central. I decided to do this so that they will suit both right and left handed users.

I did the gluing in batches of about eight to ten cards. I would lay each card out, select the letter and check its position (so that I considered its slope for example). Then I turned the letter over and used PVA glue to dot along the back. I spread it carefully over the whole back of the letter, making sure that it wasn’t too thick. I then placed the letter on the card as accurately as possible and patted it down with a tissue to collect any excess glue.

I finished by turning the letter over onto the table, and weighting it down with a large book to ensure that the card and letter didn’t curl away from each other. After they were allowed some time to dry (about 15 minutes I think, the glue wasn’t very thick) I collected them up and allowed them to stand between books on the shelf.

Now to make/find a suitable box to put them in:-)

ETA a link to Shu-Chen Jenny Yen‘s Presentation information for Sandpaper Letters.

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