Budding Smiles – ‘Resident Blogger’ Hannah

hannah clarke picBlogs For Babies is just starting out on the road to building a lovely community of parent bloggers sharing their stories, so we are more than happy to introduce you to Hannah – just starting out on the road to parenthood! In fact, we’ll let Hannah introduce herself…

“Hi! My name’s Hannah. I’m a 27-year-old wife to Phil, travel-loving, Tottenham-supporting, outdoorsy country bumpkin with two cats, five chickens and an ever expanding bump.

Mine and my husband’s first precious little baby is due July 9th. I have recently started blogging about my pregnancy and am loving being able to share my stories. I hope that you enjoy reading my blog as much as I enjoy writing it.”

In this first guest post from Hannah, she tells us more about herself and we welcome ‘little bean’.

Hannah blogs at buddingsmiles.co.uk

As a teenager I wasn’t content at school, and then I wasn’t content at college, so I travelled. I went to Canada, Brazil, Peru, Thailand, Singapore, Australia – It was amazing and it taught me what the shy, nervous child I’d been could actually achieve.

The following few years weren’t easy, I left home in 2008 for a relationship that was doomed from the beginning and so by 21 I was living alone and working 50+ hours a week to pay my bills . It wasn’t all bad, I have an amazing family who have supported me through thick and thin and in August 2011, I went to Devon for a week with my cousin.

Single for two years, she decided to join Match.com, but only if I did it too. Reluctantly, I set up the most basic of profiles and duly set my iPod to one side, forgetting about it. That night however, I received an email to inform me that someone had ‘winked’ at me on Match. I clicked the link to see what his profile was like…

15 months later, basking in the Cambodian sun and perched atop a tower at Angkor Wat, the man who had cyber winked at me asked me to marry him. In September 2013, Phil and I became husband and wife in a beautiful ceremony at a gorgeous farm in Ashbourne.

2013 was a crazy, wonderful year. I saw the year in with my new fiancé at a huge street party in Cambodia. From there we spent four days living high up in a tree house in Laos, zip lining through a jungle inhabited by gibbons. On to outdoor rock climbing in Thailand and then we were back in Blighty and having an offer accepted on a lovely country cottage whilst planning our wedding.

We moved into the cottage in June and began renovating – every room needed attention – then we got married in September. Having been married for five blissful weeks, November 1st became another amazing day to add to the 2013 list when the magical words ‘Pregnant. 1-2 Weeks’ appeared on a digital pregnancy test.

We told a few people straight away, wanting to share our joy with those closest to us but also wanting to build a support network should our little pip not be strong enough. In the weeks leading up to the first scan and to Christmas, I was exhausted, constantly nauseous but unable to be sick, sensitive to smells to the point of giving up eating meat and too bloated to fit properly into my regular jeans.

None of that mattered when, at our 12 weeks scan, a clear, perfect image appeared on the screen. Our little bean – we’d taken to fruit and vegetable references – was wriggling, kicking and waving at its proud Mummy and Daddy.

We told the rest of our close friends after the scan and everyone was over the moon. My nausea began to ease, my bump began to form and at our 16 week midwife appointment the wonderful sound of our baby’s heartbeat filled the air.

hannah clarke scanAt 19+1 we had our second scan and by then I had started to feel tiny flutters. Baby Clarke stretched and yawned, being very well behaved and not sharing its gender with us so that we can still have a surprise on the big day.

As I write this post, I am nearly 22 weeks gone and I can honestly say that I adore being pregnant. No, my body isn’t the slim line one of my wedding photos. Yes, I get sore hips, trapped nerves in my back, I become tired easily and I miss eating rare steak and runny eggs. Is it worth it? Without having even met my baby yet, the answer is an unequivocal yes! I get to feel the growing mini human inside me kicking and moving. I get to watch my belly jump about to baby’s own private beat. I get to love this child for the rest of my life and that makes any sickness, pain or discomfort fade into oblivion.

I’m so excited to be blogging about my life and my pregnancy. I’d love for you to join me and be part of this incredible chapter in my life. Thank you for reading xxx

Follow Hannah on Twitter @BuddingSmiles


Not even a bag of sugar – Kylie Hodges

Kylie Hodges picBlogs For Babies is thrilled that the wonderful Kylie Hodges offered to contribute a post about the premature birth of her son Joseph after she developed pre-eclampsia in 2009. Kylie is an inspiring figure in the blogging world and is someone I have long admired for sharing her experiences so honestly. Her birth story below strikes a real chord with me as I had pre-eclampsia with my son – also named Joseph!

After suffering two miscarriages Kylie finally gave birth to her son at 27 weeks in May 2009. The experience completely changed her world view, and she started her award nominated blog Not Even A Bag of Sugar, and started working with charities and other parents touched by preterm birth. She now works for Bliss in Manchester recruiting volunteers to help support families with babies in hospital care.

Kylie blogs at notevena.blogspot.co.uk

On 7th May 2009 I went to the delivery suite, at 3am with my husband driving nervously. I was 26 weeks and 6 days pregnant. I had a headache. My midwife said if I got a persistent headache to attend delivery suite, so being a good patient that’s exactly what I was doing, expecting to be told I was being silly and that it was nothing.

M the midwife who met me there was reassuring, professional and caring. She ran some tests. My husband left to go to work, and I felt calm and safe. Then suddenly the room got busy. A young female doctor took charge “Mrs Hodges you have severe early onset pre-eclampsia” I felt like a guillotine was over my neck. All pregnancy I had been waiting for this. Something to go hideously wrong.

She went on “we don’t know when we will deliver your baby but it could be today or tomorrow”. I remembered my hypnobirthing and concentrated on my breathing. I was about to have the fight of my life and I needed to be strong. Everyone left and I was transferred to the antenatal ward. I rang my husband and suggested he come back. Before he could arrive I was assigned a locum consultant.

Dr K came in with a midwife. He held my hand and called me Dr Kylie. He treated me like a colleague, not a patient. He said I was amazing, that it’s rare anyone would act so early and by doing so I had bought them time. He had booked theatre for 9am the following day. First I was to have two steroid injections to improve the baby’s lungs, and an emergency scan. My husband arrived just in time.

The scan was the most awful experience of the whole thing. People awaiting scans are usually happy. There was another scared lady with complications, and we held hands and talked. I was taken down. The sonographer said “I’m sorry” and I lost it. Nothing she said made sense and I was sure the baby had died.

I remember so strongly a midwife, my husband and a random grandad in the lift going back to the ward and I apologised to the man for being a mess. I couldn’t stop crying. We finally go to the ward and I heard the midwife say to the consultant “she’s incredibly distressed I am worried for her”; no-one was more worried for me than I was.

Dr K came in and held me close. He explained the baby was alive but he was very underweight for dates, he was no longer getting nutrition from me and that without delivery we would both die. I looked at him “What do you mean, die?” He held me and said “pre-eclampsia is fatal, it’s estimated you have around 6 hours if we do nothing but we are doing everything to keep this baby in and deliver safely”.

Die. Deliver or die.

Joseph Hodges picThen he said words I never ever will forget – “you are a mother, right now. You need to protect your baby, believe in yourself, believe in your baby and stay very strong. You have no time for this”. That was the best thing he could have said and immediately I remembered the last words I read in “Up the Duff” by Kaz Cooke – if your baby is born at 27 weeks they have a very good chance of survival. Ok then.

The night was horrible. I had to be catheterised, I had to have magnesium sulphate and Hartman’s solution. I was not allowed to sleep. My husband went home, and I tried hard to keep focused, singing, looking at pictures and thinking about my baby. Reassuringly my baby was kicking me hard as if to say “it’s ok mum I know what’s coming and I’m ready”.

At 9am the next morning I was taken to theatre, my husband by my side once the spinal was in place. My baby was delivered at 10am. No one told me what the gender was, I didn’t catch a glimpse.

I did hear a cry and I was confused at first and then discovered it was my baby. My baby was crying! I was so so happy and reassured to hear that sound. Then I was stitched up, taken to recovery and it was over. My husband went to see the baby and accompany them to special care. He had the photo and toy to take that I had packed. And I was left with a midwife. Alone with no baby. And I didn’t cry. I knew if I did I would never stop. The anaesthetist came to see me “Hey did you see what I had?” I asked. “A baby?” He replied. “I mean what gender?” Finally confirmation “I think it was a boy”. That’ll do. Joseph.

Joseph was born weighing 1lb 7oz on 8th May 2009. He is coming up to his 5th birthday. He is at reception.

In the words of Wires from Athlete “looking at you now, you would never know”.

Follow Kylie on Twitter @Kykaree