2012-2013: From pregnancy to parenthood

Seven weeks into my motherhood and I’ve finally got the headspace to blog about it and the pregnancy leading up to it…

2012: Pregnancy in Pictures

2012 felt like it was all about the pregnant – I saw in the year wondering if I could get pregnant after a surprise diagnosis of endometriosis, trying to get pregnant, managing it in what seemed like no time at all and being pregnant before giving birth to a healthy (and very overdue) baby Rowan on 2nd December 2012.

I made the above video towards the end of my pregnancy, not only to take my mind off wondering why my baby was taking its sweet time with putting in appearance but also so I’d remember all those precious pregnancy memories which would no doubt drop right out of my head the moment I gave birth. Up until the last fortnight I had quite a nice pregnancy and I wanted a record of it all – the move to Cardiff and marriage proposal that led up to it, my craving for apples, the holidays and good times that were had and eating spicy hot food in a bid to kick-start labour. It’s called ‘Snowflake’ because that’s what we called Rowan whilst he was in utero – a play on Carl’s ‘Snowblind’ online alter ego! The soundtrack is the Snowflake’s heartbeat, recorded when he was monitored for lack of movement. Thankfully, he was fine and born fighting fit not long afterwards. Here’s the story so far:

Week Zero: Where’s Baby?

Lunacy!

Lunacy!

Rowan was due to arrive into the world on 16th November but he just didn’t want to come out. I tried everything to try and encourage labour but it seemed that no matter how many fresh pineapples I ate or cups of raspberry leaf tea I drank it just wasn’t going to happen without a medical induction, something I really wasn’t keen on. This photo is a record of me at my most desperate – Carl read online somewhere that rubbing your bump clockwise whilst looking at a full moon can induce labour, so I stood in my back garden in the freezing cold and did just that for twenty minutes. It didn’t work and on 1st December, 16 days after my due date, I admitted defeat and had labour induced at University Hospital, Cardiff.

Week One: Hello Rowan!

Cry baby

Cry baby

There’s no denying that Rowan was well worth the wait! He was born at midday on Sunday 2nd December weighing 8 pounds and 5 ounces.  I can’t say that my labour was a particularly pleasant experience (my carefully crafted birth plan went right out of the window!) but the minute he was handed to me I burst into very happy tears before thinking to ask a few minutes later, “is it a girl or a boy?”

Week Two: Super Dad and Fantastic Family

Carl multi-tasking

Carl multi-tasking

On the evening after I was discharged from hospital with Rowan I found myself heading straight back there, in pain from infected stitches which was, not to put too fine a point on it, fucking minging. This meant that much of my second week with Rowan was lost in a Tramadol-induced haze and poor Carl had to do most of the parenting. It really brought home to me how I couldn’t have done this without him and made me wonder how on earth single parents do it! Both sides of the family were just as amazing, rallying around to help out. Rowan is a very lucky baby, to have such doting grandparents and extended family!

Week Three: Just the two of us

Beautiful boy!

Beautiful boy!

As the pain subsided and Carl returned the work, I finally got to enjoy some alone time with Rowan and marvel at him. Carl and I don’t consider ourselves to be oil paintings so we’re amazed that we managed to produce such a gorgeous baby. I know we’re biased but look at him – he’s gorgeous! He gets complimented on his gorgeousness wherever he goes and has been cooed over on the bus, in the shops and in cafes, in both English and Welsh. Everyone who stops tells me I should treasure this time as he’ll grow up in what seems like no time at all, which I am doing!

Week Four: Rowan’s First Christmas

My little Christmas pudding

My little Christmas pudding

Rowan was never meant to be a December baby but because he is, and thanks to this rather marvellous hat, my pet name for him is and always shall be My Little Christmas Pudding. This is the price he pays for his tardiness. Rowan spent his first Christmas in Birmingham, where we celebrated with Carl’s family and he received enough presents to sink a ship from his adoring grandparents, great-grandparents and other family and friends.  We could barely fit it all into the car for the journey home, he really is a very lucky little boy!

Week Five: 2013 – a challenging year

Rowan with his Dad, Grandad and Great Grandad

Rowan with his Dad, Grandad and Great Grandad

The three of us had a peaceful New Year’s but sadly it wasn’t a taste of things to come. It’s only January but already 2013 is promising to be a challenging year. As well as parenthood it seems we’ll be dealing with some serious family illnesses on both sides. Admitedly, coping with a new baby on top of an awful lot else has been hard but I suspect things would feel a lot harder without Rowan. He brings great joy to what would otherwise be a pretty grim time and seems to be a positive focus for everyone, reminding us all that however tough things might seem, life really is rather beautiful.

Week Six: Rowan is registered!

Rowan Ernest Getgood-Savage

Rowan Ernest Getgood-Savage

Rowan was officially registered as Rowan Ernest Getgood-Savage in Cardiff City Hall on 11th January. The receptionist there commented that he shares his name with the current Archbishop of Canterbury. We didn’t name him after Rowan Williams, we just liked the name (in fact, the only other Rowan I’m a fan of is the child sacrifice in The Wicker Man, one of my favourite films, but let’s not dwell on that). Ernest is a traditional Getgood family name – the name of my Uncle Ernie (who passed away last year) and the name my Dad goes by. We’re aware that Rowan’s double-barrelled surname is rather unusual to say the least, but the fact is Carl and I love our surnames and the legacies they carry and we wanted to pass them both down to our children. Plus no-one else on the planet has the surname Getgood-Savage – it’s a name Rowan and any future siblings of his can own.

Week Seven: Bottle-fed Baby

Nomnomnomnomnomnom!

Nomnomnomnomnomnom!

This picture is a rather bittersweet one for me. I really wanted to breastfeed and tried very hard to make it happen but I couldn’t get Rowan to ‘latch on’. I tried lots of different techniques and positions but nothing seemed to work and each feeding time would end up with us both in tears – Rowan out of hungry frustration and me as a hormonal new mother who couldn’t stand to hear her new baby cry. Each attempt would leave me pretty miserable and as a friend pointed out, “Now is not the time to be miserable!” So he’s now on the bottle. Suffice to say, breast-feeding is far from the only good intention that’s gone out of the window. Dummies, which I didn’t think I’d use, now litter the house. But there seems little point in getting upset over not being my idea of the perfect mum, so I’ve resolved to be happy with being the best mum I can be.

Week Eight: Snowed in!

Not even this guy could dig Rowan and I out

Not even this guy could dig Rowan and I out

Just as I’d gotten the hang of managing to leave the house with a baby (no mean feat) the snow came and Rowan and I have been pretty much housebound for the past few days. The roads are clear but I can’t drive and pushing a buggy along an icy pavement is dangerous for the pair of us. Even more frustrating is that I haven’t been able to visit my Dad, who’s poorly and unable to drive himself at the moment. This past week has made it clear to me that now is the time to do something I should have done a long time ago: I’ve got to learn to drive. I’ve applied for my provisional license and found a good deal for local driving lessons. I know it will be a hard slog but the freedom it will give me will be well worth it.

I must say, it feels like Rowan has been here for a lot longer than eight weeks but I also know that in years to come it will feel like this period of time flew by! It’s been one hell of a journey so far, so I’m both nervous and excited about what else this year has in store for us. The one thing I will predict is that I’ll end this year feeling like a rather different person to the one who started it!

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Adventures of Samsoncat

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Conway Road Memories… and a big future happening

In last month’s Long time, no blog post I alluded to a ‘big personal project’ on the horizon – all is revealed in the above film!😉

This film is my first stab at creating a digital story, the result of a digital storytelling course facilitated by Breaking Barriers Community Arts that I did over Easter.

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Jenny and Mary out to play

Chris Killip image

Photo by Chris Killip

Another rough and ready bit of creative writing – the result of a second ‘story circle’ exercise we were set during the digital storytelling course I attended over over Easter. We had to very quickly create a story from a photograph we were shown. Above is the brilliant photo by Chris Killip. Here’s what I came up with:

School was finished for the day and there were still a fair few hours left until teatime. Jenny’s grandmother, anxious to have Jenny out from under her feet whilst her parents were still at the factory and she was busy cooking, told her to go out and play. It was the usual daily routine.

Jenny went out and was unsurprised to see Mary already out on the street. Jenny sat down next to her on the kerb of the pavement and saw the she was sucking on a bright orange lolly.

“Where did you get that?” asked Jenny.

“That guy with the camera over the road just give it me,” said Mary. “I’ll bet if you asked him, he’d give you one too.”

Jenny pondered on this for a moment. She’d been told not to accept sweets from strangers, that it might be dangerous. But Mary seemed fine and the lolly didn’t appear to be poisoned. Jenny knew her parents wouldn’t like her getting sweets from strangers but she very much wanted a lolly…

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Grandmother takes the tube

random words

One of ‘story circle’ exercises we were set during the digital storytelling course I attended over over Easter was to very quickly create a story from a series of random words we’d all come up with. Above is the picture of the words we were working with. Here’s is the story I came up with:

Grandmother didn’t know what possessed her to take the journey at rush hour but she regretted it when she found herself struggling to get on the train from the packed platform. She found herself swept up by the tide of people onto the train, where she was wedged in between the crowd and a plastic panel.

Luckily a young lady beside her made a fuss and got someone to give up their seat for her. Grandmother didn’t normally like a fuss but it was worth it in this case. She sat down and arranged her shopping basket on her lap, which was full of tins, bread, milk, sausages and some yellow daffodils poking out the top.

The tube train thundered along. Someone in the carriage was obviously smoking, the smell of burnt tobacco caught in the back of her throat. She wished she’d had some water.

Just outside Tower Bridge the train inexplicably ground to a halt. Even worse, all the lights went off and the carriage was plunged into black darkness. Grandmother was very alarmed but also confused – no-one else seemed at all put out by this and the other passengers carried on staring fixedly into space. She could hear muffled drumbeats from several ipods, their owners absent-mindedly nodding their heads along to them.

Just at that moment, the worst possible thing happened. A spider dangled down from the carriage roof, right in front of Grandmother’s face before coming undone and landing, ‘plop’, on her her hand. Grandmother hated spiders and one landing on her in a pitch-black, overcrowded tube train was more than she could take.

She screamed long and loud. The other passengers seemed to suddenly wake up and react. As the lights came back on, everyone was staring at her, silent and open-mouthed. Grandmother vowed never to take the tube again.

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Long time, no blog

Well, it’s that time when I take a look at the blog and realised it hasn’t been updated for two months. So it made me think on what the hell I’ve been doing for the last couple of months and realise things have been pretty busy since settling into my new Cardiff home. Here’s a quick recap on some of it (for myself more than anything).

London calling

Guardian Open Weekend

Guardian Open Weekend

I’ve found myself going to London quite a lot, for work and pleasure. I’m just about getting used to landing in Paddington rather than Euston now. A lot of my trips have been to deliver Talk About Local training sessions, which is when I definitely see quite a different side to London than I do as a regular visitor/tourist. I find myself visiting areas I’d never think to go to otherwise, such as Walthamstow (for a Nesta Neighbourhood Challenge project training session), the Priory Green Estate in Kings Cross and Lambeth North (for training with Peabody Housing).

I find I’m learning to a lot about London’s places and people as a result. During the last training session with Peabody I heard Steve’s story about the Cumberland Market Estate, previously owned by the Crown Estate. Steve was an active part of the residents’ Our Homes Are Not For Sale campaign to prevent the estate from being sold to private developers when the Crown Estate announced their intention to sell in 2010. The campaign worked well, influencing the Crown Estate’s decision to sell to social landlord Peabody.

But not all the London visits are all work and no play. I also found time to go to Matt Locke’s gorgeous The Story and Carl and I managed to create a lovely long London weekend break around the Guardian Open Weekend, where I took part in a panel discussion on hyperlocal journalism. The event itself was great fun – full of good food, thinkers and things like The Book Barge and that guy who dances like a lobster.

Back in Brum

icouldreadthesky

Carl and I found ourselves drawn back to Birmingham for the brilliant Flatpack Festival. We spent Saturday night at The Edge, which had been transformed into a remote Peruvian fluoro village in the mountains with equally colourful locals for the Outersight Overnight Psychedelic Psynema Psleepover. Despite the cinematic strangeness being projected over our beds I slept like a baby until we were awoken the nest morning and invited to watch the sunrise on the roof. It really was quite magical and I left feeling I’d spent the night in some far-flung land rather than familiar Digbeth.

The next day I had a Filum Afternoon in the Spotted Dog as part of Flatpack, screening some Mitchell & Kenyon in Ireland archives and Nichola Bruce’s haunting, dream-like film I Could Read The Sky. I loved this film when I first saw it a couple of years ago – Dermot Healy plays an old Irish immigrant padding around his London bedsit whilst he recalls his life, which has been far from easy. Certainly not a ‘feelgood’ film but I found it beautiful all the same. Being back in the Spotted Dog for Filum made me reminisce for the good old days, I do miss those gentle Monday nights in the pub, watching Irish films whilst drinking tea and eating cake!

I’m back in Birmingham again this weekend for the #TAL12 unconference, which we’re a busy bunch at work gearing up for. I’m particularly looking forward to providing Friday night’s entertainment – giving people who are there the night before a guided tour of Digbeth!

Staying local

Digital storytelling – Train the Trainer courses

As well traveling a fair bit I’ve also been busy at home, getting to know my new Cardiff neighbourhood and what’s going on locally. I was delighted to be asked to speak at the February WordPress Users Wales meetup about working with WordPress with Digbeth is Good and in my Talk About Local work. I met some great people there who really opened my eyes to the Cardiff’s emerging hyperlocal scene, which prompted a lengthy blog post detailing some of the very many sites and projects around.

I also worked with anti-smoking charity Ash Wales, assisting them with their interview process for their new role of Social Media Expert Officer. It’s a fantastic position and unsurprisingly there were many applications, which made for a full days’ interviewing. One thing I learned from the exercise is there really is no way of foreseeing what will happen sometimes. Before the interviews, I created a series of questions, one of which was ‘Describe a particularly effective social media campaign that did a lot to raise awareness of and engage new audiences in a worthwhile issue. What about it do you think made it so successful?’ I was basically looking to see how candidates were watching what other were doing online and taking away lessons from that. But of course, just before the interview date Kony 2012 went and happened!!

Rather than go away for the Easter break I stayed at home and attended a ‘train the trainer’ digital storytelling course in Ebbw Vale facilitated by Breaking Barriers Community Arts. I was tempted by this when I saw a previous run of the course advertised last year but couldn’t attend then, so was very happy to have gotten to go this year. It was great 5 day intensive, which focused as much on the process of drawing out and developing a good story as it did the more technical aspects of building a digital story. By the end of the course we had all created a short digital story film – I’ll be sharing mine on here shortly, just as soon as I’ve made some little tweaks!

Chilling out

Bute Park by Snowshot

Bute Park by Snowshot

When I last saw my nutritionist she advised me to meditate or do some sort of activity to help me relax. I’ve not gone for meditation but I have been making sure to take some time out – long evening walks in Bute Park, the odd lunchtime picnic in Llandaff Fields, getting my drama fix from Netflix and filling Carl’s Facebook profile with costume dramas as a result.

I’ve also the taken the time to learn a little bit of Welsh at Chapter Arts Centre, who hosted free Tuesday morning conversational Welsh sessions for beginners over February-April. Admitedly, I learned just a little (languages never were my strong point) but it was good fun and a nice way to meet people . I’m hoping to find some time to follow this introduction up with the help of Say Something in Welsh – a series of brilliant, free-to-download podcast lessons for beginners with regular local meet-ups for the online community that’s developed around it.

In terms of nutrition, according to Getgood Eats I’ve not eaten for over a month. A stomach upset kind of put paid to the strict diet for the moment but hoping to meet with nutritionist next month and try to get back on that wagon.

That’s all folks!

So that’s the last couple of months in a nutshell! Feels strange that what’s felt like quite a busy period can be rounded up pretty quickly. There are a couple of other things I’ve omitted that I feel warrant their own posts, from discovering the genius of Joss Whedon to eating a meal of Titanic proportions (more on those later). In the meantime, I’ve got #TAL12 to help make happen and shortly after that, the launch of an exciting new Talk About Local project which I’m really looking forward to! But it’s not all work and no play, I’ve a May camping trip to look forward to and a big personal project on the horizon – watch this space!🙂

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Nutrition notes

food diaryWhen I was told I have endometriosis, I naturally went online to find out a bit more about it. This led me the website for Endometriosis UK, a charity that supports women with the condition. As well as the explanations and hints and tips, I read quite a few of the personal stories on the website. They were pretty shocking – any pain I’ve had seems like a walk in the park compared to what some of these women have been though and their experiences were often made ten times worse by late diagnoses.

A lot of the women on there spoke about how changes to their diet seemed to help alleviate the symptoms, which I found interesting. Towards the end of last year my diet was pretty awful. It’s never been great but being extra busy and on the move a lot of time seemed to make it worse – lots of train station croissants for breakfast, carb-y buffet fair whilst at events and cheeky cakes with my americano’s at coffee shop meetings. My waistline as well as my general health were telling me that things needed to change!

So, I started thinking not simply about eating healthier but eating in a way that might help with endometriosis. Some women telling their stories on the Endometriosis UK website said that consulting a nutritionist had helped, so I thought that’s where I’d start. I googled ‘nutritionist Cardiff’ and came up with Joanne Crovini at cardiffnutritionist.co.uk,  who seemed to fit the bill.

After submitting a food diary and a pretty hefty amount of medical information I met with Joanne in a room above Canton Health Foods store the other week. She was very nice and her conclusions seemed to make sense – the way I was eating, I was sugar-rushing and crashing like a yo-yo throughout each day and needed to eat foods that released energy slowly to keep me nice and balanced.

This means I’m to avoid sugar, refined carbs (white bread/rice/pasta), potatoes, fried food, red meat and dairy and up my intake of essential fats (oily fish, nuts, seeds, etc.), protein, vegetables (especially broccoli) and dark berries. Obviously, the advice Joanne gave me was a lot more detailed than that but I won’t bore you with the finer points here.

Keep Your Chin Up - (Oh, it is? I couldn’t tell)What I shall do is continue to keep a food diary until I see Joanne again in March. Although I’ve embraced the Pink Pad technology with keeping track of my cycle, I’ve been pretty old school with keeping a food diary so far and written it out longhand at the end of each day in a little notebook. But then I spotted Nat Higginbottom’s online food and ‘4 Hour Body’ diet diary chinup.posterous.com and I thought, what a brilliantly simple and visual way of doing it! I can do it all with my iphone, include photos of my meals to see as well as read about what I’ve eaten and include any odd related notes/reflections on the day. So I’ve pretty much copied Nat’s technique and created getgoodeats.posterous.com (hope you don’t mind, Nat!), more as a record for myself  than anything but available for my nutritionist or anyone else who might be vaguely interested to read.

I’ve been on the diet for a couple of weeks now and so far, so good. I get the odd craving for bread and cakes but it’s not overwhelming and the variety of foods I’m trying to eat combined with experimenting with new recipes and Carl’s slow cooker has meant no boredom has set in. That said, I’ll not be shying away from the inevitable lapses I do have and looking at why these might have occurred and getting back on the right track again afterward.

I think I’m already starting to feel the effects – less up and down, less ‘afternoon dips’ of severe sleepiness around 3pm and a bit more energy. However I am finding certain things difficult, such as cutting right back on caffeine. So I suppose time will tell on how I get on with all.

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