Tuesday, 31 July 2012

What is a doula?

Since I've been pregnant and telling people I am having a doula this time round I've been asked time and time again what one is, especially by Cypriots who have mostly never heard of them.  I decided the best person to explain is the lovely lady herself so I invited her to explain, and share her story of how she decided to become one.....


My name is Claire, I’m a mother of 2 and a Doula… "A what???" Yes I get that all the time, A doula supports a woman and her partner during pregnancy, birth, and the early weeks of parenting, with reassurance, practical assistance, and information.

A doula is someone you come to know well by the time of your birth, and who is there during your labor, by your side, focused solely on you and your partner. She can encourage you, remain objective, and help your partner feel more confident about how to support you. She can also assist you with practical knowledge on comfort measures for labor, such as massage and suggestions for positioning. A doula can provide information when you have questions, and can help you communicate most effectively with your medical caregivers.

The main focus of a doula's role is often on the birth itself, but doula support can also be invaluable during pregnancy (especially if you face questions about tests or complications), and after the birth when she can help out with feeding and adjusting to life with a newborn. There are a few things a doula is not, She is not acting as a nurse or midwife, so she does not provide clinical care such as doing examinations on you or checking your baby's heartbeat. The support a doula provides fits together with, but does not replace, the care of your doctor, midwife, or nurses.

Doulas do not make decisions for you, or speak for you. This is your birth, your baby, your life! A doula supports you by providing information and explanations you may want about your choices, but it's always you who decides what's best for you.

Doulas make a difference! The research has shown that having a doula at your birth can make a real difference to the outcome. The risk of an emergency caesarean is reduced, as well as the chances of other interventions happening like episiotomy and assisted delivery. How a mother interacts with her baby, her satisfaction with her birth and her relationship with her partner are all rated significantly higher with women who have had a doula compared to those who have not!

Doula, birth, pregnancy, Cyprus
As well as the doula service I will also be hosting island wide workshops on birthing and weekly prenatal classes by the end of 2012. Being a doula is a calling not a career. I didn’t choose it, rather it choose me. Here's how it all began,

I first started walking this path in 2009. We were trying for our 2nd child and faced fertility problems. During this period I become obsessed with the female reproductive system, as most women do when trying to conceive for a long time. Fear begins to sweep over you and you start processing the fact that perhaps you wont conceive another child. I hold a great deal of empathy for women who are trying to conceive it is a subject very close to my heart.

Without having experienced such a situation you will never understand how heavy a women’s heart can become when faced with infertility, it is a soul wrenching process. I was extremely fortunate and managed to fall pregnant at the end of 2010. This experience taught me valuable lessons and gave me a whole new appreciation for ‘life’ .

Birth really is a miracle. It should not be taken for granted and should be cherished. Even though I had won my battles with infertility and was pregnant, I couldn’t let go of the passion I felt. I started learning everything there was to know regarding pregnancy and birth, little did I know I was tugging at the reins of my new found calling in life.

Whilst 7 months pregnant I convinced an extremely close friend of mine to let me be with her supporting her during labor (I was being a doula without even knowing it) The day she went in to labor I was hugely overcome by a need to comfort, assist and encourage. It was one of the most beautiful days of my life. I’ve never felt as much pride for another person as I felt for her on that day. She was a warrior and I was privileged enough to walk along side her as she did the most amazing thing her body was capable of doing.

After that day my mind was made up. I want to be involved in this field. I want to support other women. Not only is it my passion.. I am good at it and I believe in it. I delivered my 2nd child in July 2011 natural birth at a private clinic in Larnaca. Shortly after birthing Teresa I became inspired to follow this calling. My main ambition was to become a certified midwife and I was all set up to start University in 2013 but I never estimated how fast the doula service and workshops would grow. Its taken on an entity of its own and I am enjoying every second of being a doula. I will still enroll into the University for the bachelor in midwifery but now with far bigger aspirations and dreams than I once had.

I hope to one day open up (or at least be involved in) a midwife based and managed birthing centre. Regardless of whatever I do in the years to come I will always be a doula at heart, to me it is the missing link needed for all births. No matter what I do the doula side of me will always be involved. 

My Doula fee is between 260-360 Euros. I have a gap in-between the prices because I know during this time of crises my service can first seem like a luxuary rather than a necessity and I would rather a mother / family have a doula (and a fantastic birth) than not for the sake of finance. If someone is able to pay the full fee, wonderful if not all is negotiable. My full service fee includes:
  • 4 home visits during the pregnancy (To bond with the family, get to know the families requirements, create birth plans, explore birthing options and studies, learn breathing and relaxation techniques and find out all about the stages of labor and what to expect once the baby is born)
  • Full assistance from the start of labor till the end, regardless of the amount of hours, time of day or day of week
  • On call service in the last month for any support the family may need
  • 1 visit after the baby is born to help the family adjust to their new life and accommodate them in any way required including breastfeeding support and advice

I also offer separately postpartum doula services:
·        Household assistance for the family (errands / cleaning / child minding of baby)
·        Night time baby care (allowing the mother and father to enjoy a full 8 hours sleep while I monitor and tend to the newborns requirements, light housework will also be performed)

Ms. Claire Anne Mavris – Tel: 99890680 –  or email cyprusdoula@gmail.com/claireannemavris@hotmail.com   or find me on Facebook 

BirthInCyprus
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In response to several people who have pointed out the word 'Doula' is derogatory in Greek I looked up the origins of the word and how it came to be used in for a birth companion.....   the following is from Wikipedia

The term "doula" was first used in a 1973 anthropological study conducted by Dana Raphael. Raphael's derivation of the term is not clear, only describing it as coming from "Aristotle's time", and is defined as a Ancient Greek word δούλη meaning "female servant", though with unflattering connotations of slavery. Marshall Klaus and John Kennell, who conducted clinical trials on the medical outcomes of doula-attended births, adopted the term to refer to a person providing labor support.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Ding Dong Bells

Most days during the summer we have our routine visit from the Ice Cream man, (When they are not digging the roads up that is!)  although last year Leo had no idea that this interesting van served any purpose other than to drive around playing a nice tune and I was in no rush to inform him differently.  For a start he usually comes between 6pm and 7pm, just as Leo was  in the bath or about to go to bed, I didn't want to have to start him asking for one every day, and he didn't even really like ice cream last year!

However, he did love to hear the music and each day would go charging outside asking to be picked up shouting 'its ding dong bells Mummy, up!' I got into the habit each day of picking him up to show him and his little wave would be returned by the 'Ding dong bell man' who uses the dead end bit of road outside to turn around. 


Towards the end of the summer it was getting a bit annoying as we HAD to stop whatever we were doing to go and see him.  I ended up trying to wait until he'd been before bath time as several times Leo tried to launch himself out of the bath to go and look.  One night he was distraught as he was late and he came after bed time and Leo was shaking the bars of his cot to try and get out!

Although it amused me sometimes it was a pain and one day when he came I turned to my friend as I was picking him up to show him and jokingly said 'One day soon you'll see in the paper the headline 'Mum of one slashes ding dong bells man's tyres or 'Toddler Mum loses the plot and stuffs ding dong bells up Ice cream mans bottom'

Now, considering Leo didn't really speak properly at this point you can imagine how surprised we were when he said so innocently

'Ding dong bells up the bottom'

We fell about laughing which was obviously the wrong thing to do but Sam couldn't resist and grabbed her camera and tried to get him to say it again so she could video him but he would say nothing else other than 'Ding dong bells, he gone now'

And I thought I'd been clever by saying 'bottom' as had I not have been holding him it would have been worse!

Friday, 27 July 2012

Flashback Friday - One year later

Last year we often used a hotel pool in Pernera, about 10 minutes drive from us.  Although we have a communal swimming pool at our apartments the shallow end is still too deep for Leo so it was good to find pools open to the public which had baby pools for him to play in,  oh and a restaurant / bar was often nice too!

Last year Leo refused to wear armbands, even preferring not to be in the water at all if you really forced the issue.  When I wrote about teaching him to swim  many people said it was a good thing as it would mean he wouldn't have to 're-learn' to swim without them, I agreed but also wished he would just wear them so it wasn't quite so scary around the pool!   He had no concept of the depth, and would just throw himself in at random so it involved one of us being in arms reach constantly.

When he was in the big pool we discovered he could just about touch the bottom, assuming he would keep his mouth closed for long enough!   I remember saying last summer, that we would be able to see how much he grew over the winter when we went back this year.

Summer 2011, just about reaching the bottom

Summer 2012 walking around happily on his own!

This year he has also been wearing air bands quite happily and it's made life a million times easier, especially as I would not be able to hold him with the bump in the way like I did last year.   He can swim perfectly well with them and now understands what they do.   We've been swimming a lot more than last year, probably being in the pool everyday even if only for half an hour or so,  he's now jumping in quite happily and going underwater with no complaints.

Next step, swimming without the armbands..... and then doing it all over again with No.2 :)

This post is for Flashback Friday - and everyone is welcome to join in! 
If you don't have a photo but would like to share a story then feel free to do that too!  It doesn't matter how far back you go - whether it's 10 months or 10 or 50 years, just take us back to a moment in time!
Link up below.....


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Flashback Friday will be moving as of next week. Due to the upcoming arrival of baby No.2  I'm handing the linky over to the lovely Lauren over at Real Housewife of Suffolk County.  So please head over there and join in, I'll no doubt be joining you too!

Thursday, 26 July 2012

36 week bump update

36 weeks already!  (or maybe 38!)

Even though the first trimester of the pregnancy seems a lifetime ago and the last few weeks have been quite hard work in the heat I still can't believe that very soon there will be a actual baby here!   I've had an easy pregnancy, despite the moany outbursts I've had and I've had a lot of help from my parents too.

I was worried in the beginning about having a baby here in Cyprus, nervous about the whole thing from antenatal appointments and especially about giving birth.  I was worried about what to do and where to go and had heard (often 2nd or 3rd hand)  many things that didn't help  - for example how they have no pain relief (they don't have gas and air but it's not that they don't have ANY)  how they are very quick to give caesareans when they might not always be needed, to name just a couple.

So many people have their babies privately here and that was a concern as well, I wondered why this was the case - were the General hospitals THAT bad that everyone paid so much money to go private?  Going private was not an option for me due to the huge cost (I think from €3000 to €5000, and if there are complications in delivery you still end up in the General hospital!)  so I've been very pleased to hear lots of positive stories of people using the General hospitals, especially my local one!  In fact from all the emails I received after my request for people's experiences every one who has used both have preferred the General!

I've been really lucky in finding Claire, my lovely Doula who has done so much to put my mind at ease too, and it means Aaron does not have to be subjected to another birth, to be fair to him after watching lots of 'One Born Every Minute' I no longer blame him for not wanting to be there!  And no offence to Aaron but I think Claire will be a lot more use ;)

I've had everyone guessing when baby might make his appearance, my official due date is 20th August according to my first scan at 5 weeks, but I worked it out on my dates (which I only figured out at about 6 months)  to be two weeks earlier than that. Which is what would make me 38 weeks now not 36.

At my check up this week they examined me and I am 2cm dilated, I know this means it could still be a couple of weeks but I think he will be here sooner rather then later. Every day I'm getting lots of braxton hicks and feeling increasingly uncomfortable.  I'm a little nervous as I'm not good with suspense and I like to have a plan so the not knowing is a pain!

I'm all ready though - bag packed, list on the fridge of instructions for Aaron, and a couple of blog posts in draft to be scheduled ;)


BirthInCyprus
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Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Birth in Cyprus - Three times over!

I've had a fantastic response to my plea for stories of pregnancy and birth in Cyprus, and it's been really interesting for me (and hopefully will be to other ex-pats facing the same situation now or later)  Today I'm sharing Sarah's story with you. Like many other ex-pats I've come across she has experienced giving birth in both the General hospital and a private clinic, once again I'm pleased to say that the General wins out!

I'll hand you over to my questions and Sarah's answers....


Did you have your baby in a private clinic or in the general hospital?
 I have 3 children, all of them born in Cyprus but my first was in the Napa Olympic Clinic (Private) as Paralimni general hospitals maternity ward wasnt open at the time, and it would have meant travelling to Larnaca for all appointments and the birth. Both my 2nd and 3rd children were born at the General hospital with all appointments and scans there too. Although I did pay for the 4d scans at the Lito as well as having the free scans at the hospital purely for my own benefit, and they are 'special' scans! Having experienced both private and general births as far as I am concerned there is no comparison!! The general is fab!!!

How much did it cost?
 For my 'not so wonderful' experience at the Napa Olympic with my first child we paid £1400 Cyprus pounds

What was the care like? Were you happy with it?
With my first and second child I suffered from pre-eclampsia. With my first at the private clinic, they didnt really seem that concerned at all! Although it was explained to me that i would have to a c section because of my blood pressure etc. In fact, I remember going to my normal check up on the friday morning (38 weeks) having the normal checks and being asked if i would prefer the c section tomorrow (the saturday) or Monday. My response....'your the dr.....what do you suggest'! He answered Monday. I left the hospital and had to report back to my mother as to how the check up went, told her my blood pressure digits and to say she flipped a lid was a slight understatement!! Apparently I should have been on bed rest with it all weeks ago! The poor doctor got a call from my 'concerned' mother, and agreed that perhaps it should be done sooner, so I was back on the Sat for the section! After my son was delivered and I was back in the room I was complaining to my husband of a really bad headache. He told the nurses and was told 'she has just had a baby'!! To which his response was 'She also has very high blood pressure have you checked that?'. They relunctantly came and checked it, and within 5 minutes I had the Dr in my room and emergency tablets because it was dangerously high!

With my Second child, having previously suffered from pre-eclampsia I was well aware of the symptoms and so not too surprised when the blood pressure started to creep up! But the general hospital were well aware of my history and weren't about to take any chances. I ended up being kept in for about 5 weeks on and off being monitored before my son was delivered at 37+6 by c section. Not much fun for me because it was all over the Christmas period!!! But the staff and Drs were fantastic!!!! And they even let me home to spend Xmas eve night and Xmas day with my son and family providing I promised to be back there by 7pm xmas night!!!! I dread to think how much this whole episode would have cost at a private clinic!!!

Baby number 3 came as a bit of a surprise and she was born 15 months after my son. This time round there was no pre eclampsia!!! But again, with my history and the fact that it was so close to my 2nd c section I was very closely monitored. Again I didnt have much of a choice in the matter, it was c section number 3 for me and she was born at 37+5.

But overall, having spent so much time in the general with my middle child and then back there so soon with my 3rd I have to say I can not fault the care at the general hospital. I did find one dr in particular at the hospital very short and sharp and not very friendly at all! But just got to accept that was his way and he had little bed side manner. Altough he did occasionally crack a joke! But my theory was, its the midwives that you are with 90 per cent of the time anyway. I did find that on there 'rounds' the Drs and nurses come round and talk to each other about you as if you arent there and leave with no info! So make sure you ask because they wont offer it! The nurses and Drs are fantastic. You do occasionally have the language barrier which can only be expected when you are having a baby in a different country! But at the end of the day there English is a lot better than my Greek!!!!

What do you wish you had known about having a baby here beforehand?
 With my first child at the private clinic, I had an epidural (which they eventually got right on the 4th attempt!) but my husband was allowed to stay with me. However as the epidural wasnt working quick enough I was given a general. I automatically assumed that the same would apply at the general hospital, your partner would be allowed with you in the operating room but they arent. I stupidly didnt ask that question 2nd time round and found out that as I was being wheeled through the operating room. 3rd time round I knew exactly what to expect!! But the midwife stays with you in the Operating room and was constantly talking me through etc and calming me down as that was my first experience with the spinal working and being awake through it all.

Did you have any pain relief? What was available to you?
 Again, General hospital wins hands down!!!! If I asked for pain relief I was given it. In fact the whole receovery process with my 'general' births were so much better! At the general, they have you up and about the next morning. Help you shower etc. But the more mobile you are (within reason obviously) the quicker the healing process. At the private hospital, I remember being helped up being told to 'hold myself together' walking 5 steps and that was it! I buzzed for a nurse and when I told them I need to go to the toilet they looked at me with 2 heads and said 'yes you can'!!!! and left me to it!

At the General also, the baby is left in the room with you!! Which makes you more motivated to get up and care for your child. Which also helps with the bonding process! I was shown how to make the bottles, bath etc. If ever I asked them to help me, or to take the baby so that I could rest for a while they had no problems with it at all!! At the private hospital, my son was taken away from me and kept in the nursery. I had to ask them to fetch him into me and even then it was a chore!!! I fed him once in the whole time I was there, and was basically handed him back when I was leaving!!

How long did you stay in hospital after birth? What was it like?
 My first was 5 days. Second, was probably about 6 weeks! And third was 5/6 days (the longer the better with her!!! I tried to make the most of the rest!!!)


I now have 3 lovely children, and I can not fault the maternity care etc at the general hospital and would most certanily choose there over private any day,

BirthInCyprus

To see all the other stories so far.....visit my Pregnancy and Birth in Cyprus page

Only in Cyprus?

For a long time now the council here have been doing roadworks (actually I can't remember a time in the 3 years we've been here that there hasn't been some somewhere) in our area. 

The roads surrounding our apartment at the moment!
Even without the roadworks it is a very dusty place to live, as there is a lot of empty ground around us and obviously this gets very dry in the summer. You kind of have to give up in the end as you can dust and mop the apartment  / balcony in the morning and then less than an hour later it looks like you haven't bothered, but it's a hundred times worse at the moment, even the slightest gust of wind whips up a dust storm you can hardly see through - which is nice when our patio doors are open (which is most of the time!)

The way they carry out the works is amazing, there seems to be no pattern at all to the work or the hours in which they do it. They also seem to do a little bit everywhere at once so the whole village is a little bit done all at the same time.   The roads that are closed change not only on a daily basis, but on an hourly basis - many times you figure out a new route to the shops only to come face to face with a big hole in the road on your return!.

There are sometimes signs to direct you round a diversion but more often than not you have to figure it out yourself,  or suddenly stand on your brakes to avoid a big hole in the road.

The roadworks have been slowly getting closer and closer to us and we've been joking for weeks that we would get trapped in our road sooner or later  and last week it actually happened...

I had taken Leo to school in the morning with few problems but had my Dad knocking on my door half hour before I was due to collect him saying we were now blocked in.  There are three ways out of our road (only one of those is an actual road, the other two are bumpy dirt tracks but just about drivable) and they were not all inaccessible.  Our Cypriot neighbour spoke to the workmen who assured us they would be putting something over the trenches so we could get out.... on MONDAY!  (it was Friday afternoon at this point!) 


You see the bit of road just past the sign?  That's the only access!




Lucky Dad had been on his way out when he realised they were about to cut a trench through the last bit of road and so his car was the other side.  This meant he could still get out to get Leo from school.   He then had to park up on his way back and then walk Leo back through the roadworks and dust.  Luckily I didn't have to waddle over them myself, I think doing that with my 8 month baby bump in 40deg plus heat would have finished me off!

This was dumped in the only proper way out!

They've now covered over one small piece of road we can use to get out but it's only do-able with a couple of 3-point turns to get round the tight corner.  I'm just glad that the baby didn't decide to make an early appearance!



Linking up to this weeks Gallery, where the theme is Street Photography.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Birthday cakes for all ages!

Due to a run of birthday's in our family the last month or so has been very full of cake, this is obviously no bad thing (especially as I'm pregnant and not yet thinking about dropping a couple of pounds!) It all started in  May with a Cars cake for Leo's friend and  Leo's two birthday cakes and last week we finished off with a cake for my friend Sam's birthday.

I don't claim to be a very good cake decorator, the actual making of the cake is fine but I have no patience, not a lot of imagination and a very unsteady hand so usually I bake and Aaron decorates when it comes to 'novelty cakes'  However as he's been working so much I've been giving it a go!

I was most worried about the No.6 Cars cake as it was a present but it seemed to go down very well, I got very stressed whilst rolling out the icing as its so warm that I find it hard to handle, Aaron actually rescued me with this one as it was so big that every time I picked up the icing to put on the cake it broke - he came home just as I was about to launch it across the kitchen in a strop!

I was reasonably happy with Leo's party cake although he wasn't impressed as I'd put one of his engines on it and 'You don't put toys in food Mummy'  :)    He was much happier with the second one I did for his actual birthday. 

For my Dad's birthday I made a yummy Coconut Cake...

225g unsalted butter
225g caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 large eggs
200g self raising flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
25g cornflour ( I used extra SR flour as I didn't have any and it seemed to be ok!) 
50g desicated coconut soaked in 150ml boiling water

Blitz together with a mixer all in one go - nice and easy!
Filling - 
25g desicated coconut
75g unsalted butter
150g icing sugar
1 tablespoon Malibu (or coconut liquer)

Toast the coconut in a dry frying pan, leave to cool. Mix butter and icing sugar to a paste, add the malibu and dried coconut.
Topping - 
2 -4 tablespoons of Malibu
Icing sugar (I can't actually remember how much)

Mix until you have a runny paste and drizzle over top of cake.


When it came to Aaron's birthday I knew it just had to be chocolate based to I used a combination of two recipes and came up with a Triple Chocolate Cake...

85g milk chocolate
1 tsbp milk
115g self raising flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
115g butter
115g caster sugar
2 eggs
1tsp vanilla extract

Melt the chocolate and to all other ingredients into a bowl, mix and spoon into cake tins. Bake for about 20 minutes in 190c preheated oven.

I used normal buttercream to sandwich the layers together and then topped it with the best chocolate covering I've ever made!

Topping - 
50g cooking chocolate
2 tbsp water
25g butter
175g icing sugar
approx 50g white chocolate

Break the chocolate into a bowl, add the water and butter and set over a pan of simmering water until melted. Sift the icing sugar into the mixture and beat until smooth and thick.
Pour over cake and then decorate with white chocolate curls / sprinkles made by using a grater or potato peeler.


Sam's birthday cake, like Leo's was a standard Victoria Sponge and yet again I battled the fondant icing - this time entirely on my own and I was quite pleased with the result. It certainly tasted good anyway!


Friday, 20 July 2012

Flashback Friday - My first car

1995 was one of my favourite years so far, I was at college (well, sometimes!) and working part time in Safeway's with one of my best friends, Sarah.  I still lived at home and spent most of my time with Sarah, either at our friends flat or in the pub. It was also the year I started driving...

I had brought my car the year before but failed my first driving test so spent a year walking past it every morning to catch the bus to college Sarah's house. I was so desperate to be able to drive it and used to spend ages washing it - more time than I've ever spent washing cars since in fact!

1995 was the year I met Aaron and we got together in the October, he loves big American cars and likes to be different so he persuaded me to 'customize' my boring beige Fiesta.


I passed my test eventually towards the end of 1995, while my car was in the garage having stuff done after failing it's MOT, the day I got it back I was on a late shift and was so looking forward to going out for a drive after work. When I got home at 8pm my Dad told me I couldn't go out until the next day as it was dark....  IT WAS DARK!!?!?!?!   I was gobsmacked and completely gutted.

(His reason being I had never driven in the dark before and was a bit over excited and he didn't want me driving on my own for the first time then, but I was not interested in listening to reason!)

I remember being so outraged at this and after pacing round my bedroom for a while walking calmly back down the stairs and asking Dad nicely if he realised I was in fact 18 years old  (yes, you may have gathered I was a ridiculously well behaved teenager, and most may not have even bothered with this conversation!)   and that the car was actually mine so therefore he couldn't ACTUALLY stop me, and therefore I would be going out for a drive right now.  (said whilst crossing my fingers and hoping that he would agree!)

He asked me where I was going, and I didn't actually know as I just wanted to drive somewhere!  I said I'd be going to Aaron's, at which point he totally changed and said it was fine!   (For some reason they thought him much more responsible I think!)

I loved my car and spent so much time in it often with Sarah, usually eating kebabs, drinking coke and smoking far too much in the early hours of the morning (oh how bad did it smell the next day in there!)  I had a small selection of music in the car that we listened to constantly.... music on cassette tapes!

I just had to go and look this one up on Youtube...  I had this on cassette single and as it usually was the 'b side' track was basically the same so I used to listen to both tracks, turn the tape over and then listen to them again!  The first few seconds take me right back to driving in the evening in the summer - it seems like only yesterday in some ways but also a whole lifetime ago.







Monday, 16 July 2012

Breast vs bottle - the dilemma of a 2nd time Mum!

When I was pregnant with Leo, although nervous about the pain of labour, I was quite relaxed about how it all might turn out,  I had a vague birth plan -  avoid an epidural or c-section if possible, would quite like a water birth, but failing that gas and air or pethidine.  The main aim was to have a baby and I wasn't planning to beat myself up about how that might happen.  

The same applied when it came to feeding him, I planned to breast feed as 'that's what you do' but I had brought a steriliser and bottles before birth just in case (No formula though - really didn't think that one through as I realised at midnight on the first day home!)  I also had a breast pump as I was going to express so Aaron could feed him too.  I said many times while pregnant when asked if I was going to breast feed (Why do people insist on keep asking that anyway, what's it got to do with anything?!)  that I would if I could, I never said a definite yes as who knew if I could? 

It turns out that I didn't breast feed at all, I tried immediately after birth but nothing happened, I guess now because of the pethedine making him too sleepy, but he pretty much slept for the first two days.  I remember wondering in the afternoon /early evening (he was born at 11am) if I should be feeding him but he was asleep   and I assumed he would cry when he was hungry.

I can't remember what time I tried again, or how many times I did whilst still in hospital, I know it wasn't really working, a couple of midwives came and went and sort of helped me and in the end I thought he had latched on but looking back I realise he was just sort of sucking and not getting anything.   I didn't enjoy being in the hospital at all and was desperate to get out so when they said the next morning I could go as soon as he had fed and I was happy I told them that he seemed to be feeding ok.   I wasn't 100% happy but I thought he was getting something at least.

He didn't 'ask' to be fed until midnight and I couldn't get him to latched on at all, he was crying and crying and I got very stressed which ended up in Aaron making a dash to the local 24hour petrol station for some formula,  I'll never forget the moment when I put the bottle in his mouth it was like the solution to all the worlds problems in one go!

Next day I tried to breast feed again, but same problem, he would just get so upset as I tried to manoeuvre him into a better position. The health visitor came and tried a couple of positions with me, grabbing me and trying to help but still nothing happened.  She suggested I gave him a little formula and try again later when he was less hungry.  After a couple of days I came to the conclusion that it was not worth it, he was so contentedly taking a bottle and it just seemed stupid to go through this upset each time.    I did try to express but after 40 mins only managed to produce the tiniest amount - I gave him that and then carried on with the formula.


Aaron enjoyed feeding him and to be honest I loved the freedom it gave me. I had only planned to breast feed for a reasonably short while anyway probably until he got teeth! (its just my personal thoughts but I find it a bit odd when kids are old enough to ask for it and get the boob out themselves)   and apart from feeling a bit like I might have given up too easily on about day 5 and being a bit emotional, I was more than happy with my decision. 


This time round I'm really not sure what to do,   I probably shouldn't admit it but a part of me actually hopes I won't be able to breast feed again, not sure why - maybe because it means the decision is taken away from me.  I know all the reasons why 'breast is best'  but I also know that formula is fine, if I'm really honest the main reason I want to / feel I should breast feed is the ridiculous price of formula out here which I really can't afford which just makes me sound a bit tight.


I can't imagine breast feeding and I'm really not enthused about doing it in public (why I don't know when I used to happily sunbathe topless)  I have no nursing bras or suitable breast feeding tops,and can't afford to buy any. (although I realise I'll have to buy formula anyway!) and it may sound very selfish but I can't bear the idea of feeding for the large amounts of time and as often as I've heard about, plus the pain and discomfort that it seems that everyone has to battle through.  Even without Leo to look after I can't bear the thought of having to feed so frequently.  I'm sure Leo will find it all hard enough without Mummy having a small person attached to her all the time, and at least with bottle feeding he could feel like he was helping.


I'll give it a go though, even if I just do it for a few weeks, you never know I could take to it like a duck to water this time and be a complete convert.   I've heard many people say that you should avoid pethidine as pain relief in labour as it can hinder breast feeding - however I believe that's the only pain relief available here so pethidine it might just have to be!

Friday, 13 July 2012

Place your bets.....

After my baby shower and the blog post I wrote about it I've been getting lots of people guessing when baby might make his appearance and how much he might weigh.

Aaron is convinced he will be right on the due date or later (the hospital's due date as he doesn't believe the one I calculated can be right as a he says the scan CANNOT be wrong)  and he will be heavier than Leo was.   I think he'll be a bit early, this could just be wishful thinking as I thought Leo would be too!


So just for fun I thought I'd make a note of all the guesses in one place   :)


Sam (Disorganised Creativity)                             27th July        8lb 7oz
Kelly Marie                                                        28th July        8lb 8oz

Rachel                                                                5th August      11lb
Eri (Greek4kids)                                                 6th August      7lb

Michelle (Mummy From the Heart)                      10th August    9lb
Lauren   (Real Housewife of Suffolk County)       10th August    9lb 2oz
Tales from Windmill Fields                                  10th August    7lb 3oz

The Rambling Pages                                            12th August    8lb 3oz
Debbie B                                                            12th August    8lb 12oz

Sarah P                                                               13th August    9lb 6oz

Vanja (Emma's Lunch)                                        14th August    8lb 4oz
Mum                                                                   14th August    8lb 12oz
Expat Mum in Portugal                                        14th August    9lb 7oz

Lucy A                                                               15th August    9lb 2oz

Me                                                                     18th August    8lb 10oz
Carol P                                                               18th August    8lb 9oz

Ros C                                                                 19th August    8lb 1oz
Aaron                                                                 20th August    9lb 12oz

Kelly A                                                                30th August    9lb 2oz
Nicola N                                                              30th August    10lb 1oz


                   




Flashback Friday - July

The fact that I arrange my photos into folders by month can be quite handy when it comes to inspiration for a  Flashback Friday post. I was having a browse through previous years and realised that this time four years ago we were here in Cyprus on holiday.  We had brought our apartment in 2007 and the following year came out for a holiday and to see how the build was progressing, oh and see what Cyprus was like as we had only spent 6 days here prior to that!

It was different to our previous holidays which had always been spent by the pool, on the beach or maybe an excursion or two, in other words, your typical package holiday.  This time, although we spent a lot of time by the pool, we also went to Ikea, and 'locals' supermarkets and tried to get a feel of what it would be like to live here. 

We didn't book a package, instead rented an apartment privately, and booked flights and car hire separately.     We didn't go out every night as we once would have done, in fact the most memorable night for me of the fortnight was spent on our balcony, drinking, talking and playing silly card games.


Such a tourist!...  note the bad strap marks!


We were trying to save money so we decided not to go out for dinner but had a limited kitchen in which to prepare something, however Aaron rustled up a great meal of Beans, Cheese and hot dogs on toast, washed down with a large amount of local wine, strawberry cider and later, when that ran out vodka  (for me) whisky (for him) and coke. 

After cards we progressed to what we call 'iPod roulette'  a game with no real rules that basically involves sticking the iPod on shuffle and playing the intro game, stopping every now and again when a really good song comes on.  I'm much better at this game, as Aaron will often know the song but can't get it quick enough, plus the fact it's my iPod so I know what's on it!

We sat there talking and drinking and all of a sudden we realised it was getting light - I saw my very first Cyprus sunrise.    It turned out to be the first of many (I've lost count now)  however the first and last I've seen before actually going to bed!

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Baby Shower!

I've been looking forward to this week for a while now... Monday night was my Baby Shower, arranged by my lovely friend Sam and held at my Mum's apartment.  (which was handy as I only had to waddle downstairs!)  I knew nothing about the evening beforehand other than when and where it was.

Sam is very creative (and I had noticed her 'pinning' some baby shower type bits recently on Pinterest!) so I had a feeling she was up to something....  look at what she came up with!


A lovely banner,  flowers made from socks and baby bibs,with balloons attached, a huge basket of goodies (nappies, changing mat, baby toiletries, blanket etc). An elephant riding a bike made from nappies, bottle, babygrow and scratch mitts and some great little bits for the guests to fill in for me.

First of all there was a 'Guess the date and weight' card. Answers ranged from July 27th and 8lb 7oz  to 20th Aug and 9lb 12oz.   What's your guess?    Join in  and leave me a comment :)
(Due date is 20th Aug according to the hospital,  or according to my calculations from conception 6th August.  Leo was 2 weeks late and was 9lb 9oz / 4.3kg.... if that helps!)

Then everyone had a card to fill out with their wishes for the baby as a keepsake for him.


It was a lovely evening and it was very exciting to see lots of 'baby blue' stuff again, and we also got to try the fantastic Emma's Lunch' cake pops that I had heard so much about... which taste as good as they look!


Linking up to Michelle's Reasons to be Cheerful as there were a whole load of reasons in that evening!

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Summer time food

Many people say that they go off their food in the heat of the summer, unfortunately this is not something that's ever affected me!  There is very little (if anything) that puts me off my food. However what I can't stand is the  extra heat created by cooking so given the choice I turn to meals that need less oven time or, even better - BBQ's (also, because that's a 'man thing' it means I just have to make salad!) 

One of my staple dishes in the summer is this....    blatantly stolen from my friend Kelly, who made it for us not long after we moved over 3 years ago, I've been making it ever since!

Cucumber, tomato, onion, with a little bit of lemon juice, salt and mint.


I use it with many meals but one of my favourites, and easiest if there are a group of us is this....


Jacket potatoes,  vegetable rice,  fried halloumi, chicken, warm pitta bread and tzatziki,  preferably washed down with copious amounts of local wine St Panteleimon although in this summer so far I've just been on water!


For more yummy Food photos click the Gallery badge above.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Photo Canvas (Review)

As you know, I LOVE my photos - who doesn't?    I do miss the pre-digital days of going to collect the little packet of prints and hoping that they have come out well and standing in the middle of a shop looking at them because I can't wait any longer but I wouldn't give up digital for anything!  

For a long time now I've been using Snapfish online digital photo printing to order my prints as I didn't want to fall into the habit of never having an actual photo to look at rather than hundreds stored on my laptop where no-one could see them.  I've also used them before for their excellent photo gifts - my mother-in-law loved a calendar we gave her just before we left the UK of photos of Leo, and I also have a photo book of our wedding photos. 

One thing I'd never tried though was the photo canvases so I was thrilled when I was offered the chance to try one, it took me a ridiculous amount of time to pick a photo but that was the only hard part of creating it! It couldn't be easier really - upload your photo, choose the product you want it made into (there are LOADS of choices!) and that's pretty much it. 


The finished product is great quality and I can't wait to get it up on the wall. 

Snapfish offer free prints to all new customers when you sign up and they currently ship their products to the following countries...  
Austria                          Ireland
Italy                              Sweden
UK                               Switzerland
Belgium                         Portugal
Germany                       Norway
Denmark                       Netherlands
Spain                             France

They also have a 30% off everything with free delivery until 15th July (see Snapfish website for details) 


I was provided with a photo canvas for the purpose of this review but the opinions are all my own.






Sunday, 8 July 2012

We are eagerly awaiting....

You may have noticed that Leo is a bit of a Thomas fanatic, this both amuses and slightly disturbs me but I think it may be catching! A friend of mine said recently that she hated Thomas and I was momentarily lost for words..... how can you hate the little blue engine!  

Along with a selection of cups, books, clothes, games, DVDs, a Thomas scooter and of course a great set of wooden tracks and engines we have a new 'Thomas' love here in our house...


Some time ago I decided to show him the Thomas and Friends website, and it turns out he's just like his Mother when you stick a laptop in front of him, I think if left to decide when to turn it off he would be there for weeks on end!  For a while now we've looked at it occasionally to see the engines, which is about as much as I let him do with my reluctance to let him use the laptop.  He can now name every engine on there and there are more than 60, I'm not sure but I think he can read the names to a certain degree (either that or he has memorised the order of them) as he says the next one before it even appears on the screen.

This week I showed him how to use the mouse as he had noticed the games on the site and I felt a bit mean not letting him have a go!  In just a few days he has completely mastered it and is so funny to watch, we looked at the new section 'Blue Mountain Mystery' and his eyes grew wide with wonder (now I sound like Ringo Starr!) when he saw the new engines.

I'm slightly annoyed that I showed him so long before the new film is released as he is now desperate to find out more and we've got to wait until September - I don't think anything in his life has ever been this eagerly awaited, (the arrival of his baby brother has nothing on the release of this film!)  even I want to know what new engine Luke did that was so bad!   *note to self, must get out more*

Today we printed and coloured the new engines and they now have pride of place on his bedroom door - the classic comment afterwards though came when we looked at the site afterwards and he said 'Oh Mummy, why are they still there? We already printed them, we need to do it again!'


This is not a sponsored post in anyway- although how cool would that be!  
(Yes, again I do realise I sound almost as bad as he is - and probably shouldn't admit that I've just spent 10 minutes moping over the Thomas Land website and thinking how amazing it would be to be able to go, especially as he is still talking about a little train we took him on for his birthday!) 





Silent Sunday


TheBoyandMe's 366 Linky

Friday, 6 July 2012

Flashback Friday - Summer of '69

'When I look back now, that summer seemed to last forever'

I'm not talking about the ACTUAL summer of '69 you understand, that's a decade before my time but hopefully you got that from the first line!

This week's Flashback theme is 'Summer' - I've looked through loads of photos from many years and could not decide on which to use. (you'd think I might have thought of that before I set the theme but you'd be wrong!)

Summer's always seemed long as a child due to the long summer break from school ( I wonder how much different they will feel to Leo with 3 months off when he gets older as opposed to 6 weeks!) and  I don't remember the weather being that bad either!  I had photos in my head to use of my childhood summers - playing in the sprinkler and paddling pool or day trips to the beach but I just couldn't find what I wanted.

Then the song popped into my head and I realised I wasn't looking for a photo taken in summer at all!

In February 2008 my friends and I attended the last of the big 30th birthday parties of our little group from school. It had been a busy year with what seemed like one a month and I was always glad that this year fell just before we moved to Cyprus.

Not everyone was at every party but it just so happened that everyone was at this last one, even my very good friend Nic who lives the other side of the country, doesn't drive and hadn't even been able to make it to my 30th.

Winter of '08 - not got quite the same ring to it though!

It was a typically good, drunken night with lots of laughter and dancing.  At the end of the evening all the girls were on the dancefloor  arms round each other singing a rousing rendition of 'Summer of '69'. I looked at them all and realised it was not the first time it had happened but it was very likely to be the last time we would all be together like that. 


I said this to a couple of them as we were leaving and they had no idea what I meant - Why would it be they said?    


But I was right, it was a very rare event even then to get a crowd of people together who live scattered about with very different lives to those of 20 years ago. Work, family and children now all play a factor, not to mention one us living in Cyprus!    I think they just didn't believe I was going though or couldn't imagine those parties not being possible.....either that or they were all drunk and not listening!



Man we were killin' time

We were young and restless

We needed to unwind

I guess nothin' can last forever, forever, no






This post is for my Flashback Friday, this week the theme is Summer


As ever you can interpret this as you wish, and if you don't have a photo but would like to share a story then feel free to do that too!  It doesn't matter how far back you go - whether it's 10 months or 10 or 50 years, just take us back to a moment in time!

FlashbackFriday
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and join in



No theme next week  - Choose whatever you fancy!

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Reasons to be Cheerful

After my miserable post last week I thought I'd better join in with Reasons to stop being a moany old bag be Cheerful again! Actually writing that post and reading all the supportive comments made me feel a huge amount better so I'm very glad I wrote it.  It's actually given me my first reason to be cheerful in a roundabout way....

1. Blogging - I just love it! I love the friends I've made through it and will continue to argue that they ARE friends even though we've not met in real life.  I am in more contact with them than most of my my real life friends in Cyprus, and certainly those in the UK! I love the fact that by writing my blog I'm creating a record of our life along the way too, and it's nice to look back over the last couple of years at things I would have forgotten otherwise.

2. Water - yes, quite a random reason you might think but not only am I constantly drinking it by the bucket, I'm loving the swimming pool right now!  Either having a quick peaceful swim (well, I say swim, it may be more of a case of standing in the pool not doing much!) after taking Leo to school or taking Leo down in the afternoons with my parents it's one of the few times I feel like the world is a 'normal temperature'!


Leo's loving the water too and although I can't really deal with him on my own in the pool at the moment with the bump, he's becoming so much more confident and happy splashing and swimming about which is only a good thing.  It also makes going to the beach bearable if I can sit shoulder deep n the sea - being in direct heat is just crucifying me at the moment!

3. My parents - having them just downstairs is a lifesaver!  From getting shopping, helping me clean the apartment and looking after Leo to a million other things I think I may have gone even more crazy by now!   Not to mention the fact they will look after Leo while this baby makes his appearance!

4. Baby shower!!     - I'm very excited about my Baby shower that my lovely friend Sam and Mum are throwing for me next week.  It's all very secret as I only know when and where it is as they want to surprise me.   Sam, like me loves arranging parties and is very creative  so I can't wait to see what she comes up with!

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