Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Army Party!

Zac and Dan ready to go.
As I mentioned in my last post, this weekend we had an "army party" for Danny and one of his school friends who are both turning 5. I have to say, it was a whole lot less painful than I had anticipated and the kids seemed to have loads of fun, so although the theme rankled with me a little bit I'm now very happy that we didn't try to be politically correct! We were lucky in that it was warm and dry but not quite as scorching as it has been over the past few weeks, so we could be outside for most of the time.

Here are a few pics to show the activities that we did:
Assault course

Throwing parachute men onto a target

Nerf gun shooting range

Water pistol battle

Water bomb throwing
We also had a cool-down break with ice pops and then a calm pass-the-parcel session in the hall so things didn't go too nuts. The water pistols and water bombs were genius because they kept the kids occupied (and cool) for ages with very little effort needed from the grown-ups- apart from George's daddy who gamely volunteered to be the water bomb target!

 I'd made a "tank" cake for Danny. It was someone's clever design I'd found by looking at google images, with caterpillar tracks made out of mini chocolate fingers and jaffa cakes, and lots of camouflage-coloured icing. It did look like it had been in the wars a bit- my icing skills are not that hot, but Danny seemed to approve and since I've discovered Mary Berry's sponge recipe the cake itself actually tasted a lot nicer than my previous efforts (Sorry Mary, not sure you'd approve of your Victoria Sponge being turned into a tank!)
Fuffing out the 5

So, despite my reservations about big parties for kids, I actually really enjoyed this one. They were all active and happy, it didn't cost the earth because we organised it ourselves and borrowed stuff wherever possible, and apart from filling millions of water bombs and tying fiddly parachutes it really didn't take an awful lot of preparation either.

That said, seeing my boys in camouflage made me hope beyond hope they don't think the army would be a good career. I don't think I could bear to send them off as the real thing!

A cheerful bucketful of ammo!

Friday, 12 July 2013

Birthday Cakes!

Next weekend we are having a birthday celebration for Danny, even tho it's another 5 weeks til he turns 5! One of his school friends is having his birthday at the end of this term and we agreed to do a joint party and share the pain/cost. They've opted for an "army party" which is probably totally politically incorrect but will hopefully be fun! So before I post about that big event I thought I'd do a quick whizz through the birthday celebrations to date!

Danny fuffing his first candle.
Mostly we have managed to avoid having massive birthday parties for the boys, neither me or Martin being huge party people. It has got harder since they have gone to school as they get invited to all sorts of amazing birthday celebrations. Not only do they now think they want a big party but I also feel like we owe lots of people one! The kids do have fun but it always seems that the birthday child is rather lost in the melee and I can't help thinking they might feel a bit more special with just a few of their nearest and dearest really celebrating their big day.
Last year, for Zac's 5th birthday we did it properly and had a joint party in the village hall with one of his friends and invited the whole class. We had a magician to entertain them, who was really great, and it wasn't as stressful as I thought it was going to be, but I have to say that afterwards I felt like we'd done that kind of party and probably wouldn't need to repeat the exercise- I'm hoping Danny's will be a one-off too!!
Other than that we have got away with having little teas with grandparents or some of the cousins, or a couple of friends and they have all been lovely!
I guess the main marker of each birthday has been the cake. Martin's mum is amazingly creative and has allowed the boys to choose what kind of cake they'd like.
Here's a little compilation of Zac's:
Cool cakes from 1 to 6!
  • 1st A very basic Upsy Daisy cake made by me!
  • 2nd A brilliant Thomas the Tank Engine cake made by Nanny.
  • 3rd Awesome Spitfire cake (Nanny!)
  • 4th Building Site cake with Diggers (Nanny)
  • 5th Volcano cake with sparkly candles (Nanny)
  • 6th Thunderbird 2 cake, requested the day before his birthday and while Nanny was unavailable... therefore made by Martin and me!

Danny has had:

  •  1st White Duck cake (Nanny)
  • 2nd Tractor cake(Nanny)
  •  3rd Jellyfish Bloom cake (Me- thanks for that Octonauts!)
  • 4th Chocolate 4 cake, on holiday in France (Auntie Tory and Granny!)
I have no idea what kind of cake I shall provide for the party next week... a birthday bomb?!

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Birth Stories Part II

Danny's arrival!
Danny's birth was quite different from that of his older brother. He was due on 20th August 2008 which, if you are a teacher like me, you know is pretty disastrous! In the UK kids start school in the September before they turn 5, so being born at the end of August means you start school immediately after you've turned 4. However, since Zac was 3 weeks over his due date I reckoned I could cross my legs and hope for September!
2 weeks to go- beached whale impression!
We had resisted finding out what we were expecting with Zac, but second time round I was quite keen to know. I thought this pregnancy felt a bit different so I'd begun imagining a little girl. When we went for the first (and only) scan, at 20 weeks, I asked the sonographer if she was allowed to tell us what we were having. She asked if we both wanted to know and when I said yes she said, "well I've seen what I need to already!" and I knew at once it was another boy. For a split second I felt a little disappointed, I was pretty sure we wouldn't have a third so I wasn't going to have a daughter, but the feeling only lasted while the news sunk in and then I was really looking forward to having brothers- which has indeed turned out to be the best thing ever.
As we got closer to the due day things got pretty emotional. Martin's elder daughter Gemma had been living with us while she finished her A-levels, but her mum and younger sister Jo had emigrated to Australia 10 months before and she was due to fly out to join them on the 26th August. I wanted her to meet her new brother before she left but I was also still hoping for a September birth.
Last days of being my only child!
On the morning of the 26th Baby B still hadn't arrived and I had to go into hospital for a check up. I was feeling pretty uncomfortable. My mum came with me as Martin was helping Gemma with her packing and last preparations to go. The midwife said she thought I was in the early stages of labour and did a stretch and sweep. Unlike with Zac this had pretty instant results. I came home but knew that things were definitely happening. Since I'd had a 24 hour labour last time I agreed that Martin should take Gemma to the airport as planned and we said a pretty emotional goodbye. I then got into a warm bath to try and get comfortable but the contractions were getting much worse. Mum phoned Dad to take me back into hospital so that she could stay and look after Zac.
I remember mum trying to attach my tens machine in a total panic and me trying not to show Zac that I was in a lot of pain- although he seemed unaffected by the weird day we were all having!
Dad drove me to the hospital and I was put straight into a delivery suite with the extremely welcome tank of gas and air. The midwife disappeared off to find a baby monitor and was gone for ages- about 40 mins I think. At this point I was unbelievably grateful that my dad was a retired GP and had delivered plenty of babies in his time. My waters broke and Dad pulled the panic cord to get someone back. The midwife came, did a quick check, and disappeared again! It was so different from the previous time when I had someone with me all the time. Dad was doing a brilliant job of appearing calm but I could tell that he was pretty incredulous about the lack of attention. He checked my caesarian scar which was only 19 months old and could have been an issue but luckily it was all fine. Finally the midwife arrived and asked Dad if he wanted to go and get a coffee. In my head I was begging him not to go as I was really appreciating having a hand to hold, but I think he needed a break from this very unexpected occasion, so I squeezed the midwife's hand instead. When dad came back his mobile rang and I could hear him saying to Martin, "Where abouts on the M4 are you, you probably need to get here pretty quick if you don't want to miss it!"
Determined to arrive!
I was so relieved when Martin arrived I was promptly sick over the edge of the bed! I can't begin to imagine what a traumatic day it was for him. To say goodbye to his eldest child indefinitely and to meet his youngest for the first time a couple of hours later was pretty intense!
I think it was less than half an hour between him getting there and Danny arriving- out the right exit, with only a bit of pushing, and only 4 hours after I arrived at the hospital. I couldn't believe it had happened so differently from Zac's birth. It was lovely to be able to hold him straight away and say hello. Less lovely to have lots of stitches in a more painful area!
Zac meeting his new brother in hospital.
We only had to stay in over night and then Martin and Zac arrived to take us home. Zac seemed pretty impressed with the new baby- partly because he'd got him some lovely presents I'm sure. All my worries had been about leaving Zac, potentially for a few days, while I had the new baby but in the event he had a lovely time with granny and hardly registered I wasn't at home.

And then we were a family. Baby B had arrived, 7lbs11oz. It took us weeks to agree on his name. Martin wanted  the name Daniel, which I liked but didn't want to use because I'd taught lots of Daniels over the years. I'd promised my grandfather years before that if I had a son I would give him grandfather's middle name Kindersley. Martin suggested Augustus, because he liked it and he was born in August and it fitted with my Classics education. So in the end he was registered as Daniel Augustus Kindersley Broomfield! (Can't wait til he gets to say it on his wedding day!) Names are funny aren't they. We were both settled on Zachary Hugh months before Zac arrived. We couldn't name Danny for ages after his birth, even tho we knew we were expecting a boy. But now I think Danny suits him through and through.
The Broomfields.

Birth Stories Part I

Massive, with 3 months to go!
I'm not a massive fan of reading birth stories, but I know the boys enjoy hearing about this momentous moment in their lives, so for the record:
Zac's arrival!
Zac's due date was the 29th December 2006. I didn't want to be teaching right up until the birth, especially since the Christmas term is always full-on hectic, so I stopped at the October half term. I was already pretty enormous as you can see from this pic taken at the Eden Project that half term holiday. I had a lovely peaceful time watching day time tv, having little snoozes, eating lots of porridge and trying not to feel too terrified about the massive change our lives were about to go through.
As my pregnancy had progressed I'd got thrombocytopoenia (no idea how to spell it!) which means low platelets in pregnancy and affects your blood's ability to clot. I had to keep having blood tests and as they dropped below 100 I had a meeting with the hospital anesthetist who said that I wouldn't be able to have an epidural and if I had to have a caesarian it would be under general anesthetic. I hoped everything would go smoothly, but I didn't really think about an ideal birth, I was happy to take whatever advice I was given.
Me and my sister-in-law Christmas 2006
Christmas came and went. Martin attempted to stay sober enough for a quick dash to hospital and I stupidly wished the baby would be a bit late so their birthday wasn't right on Christmas. On my due day I had a check-up. It was clear the baby wasn't in any hurry to arrive and the midwife finally agreed that Martin's dating of the pregnancy might be more accurate and that my due date should have been a week later. A week later, still no sign of movement. I'd put on over 3 stone during my pregnancy and was now pretty fed up with feeling like a whale. Putting shoes on had become one of the biggest physical challenges I'd ever endured! We went and got white duck to keep our other duck "Kylie" company, and as a temporary baby substitute. Another week on and I had a stretch and sweep- with no effect.
On the evening of 19th January, three whole weeks after my original due date, I went into Bath hospital to be induced. It was really horrible! They induced me and within what felt like moments I was getting really strong contractions. My platelets had dropped to 50 which meant there was no chance of a water birth, which I had contemplated. I got wheeled upstairs onto a ward full of ladies with new babies and Martin got sent home for the night. After not very long at all I wasn't coping with the pain and they took me back downstairs and gave me some pethadin. Longest night ever. The drug made me drowsy between contractions but each one was really painful and at about 5 minutes apart so I didn't really get any sleep.
Martin arrived the next morning and they took me into a delivery suite and gave me gas and air which was heaven. Then I laboured all day with not much sign of progress. I remember being quite cheerful about the whole thing, even when a doctor tried to take a blood test and managed to spurt blood everywhere.
Eventually, on the evening of the 20th, they decided to do an emergency caesarian. I felt really relieved. Watching the heart monitor I could see the baby's heart rate dropping to practically nothing each time I had a contraction which was pretty scary.
How do people have glamorous post-birth pictures??
They wheeled me off to theatre and I remember saying, "Where's the machine that goes PING!?" (Monty Python reference) and starting to count down from 10, then nothing.
When I came round I was in a dark room with tubes coming out all over me and a baby in a clear plastic crib by the bed. I was still really hazy. Martin told me it was a boy and I wasn't at all surprised because we'd all thought he would be.
Zachary Hugh Broomfield. 8lb1oz. He was perfect.
Because I'd had to have a general anesthetic poor Martin wasn't allowed to be at the birth but had been stuck in a poky room waiting for news and fearing the worst, and then a midwife had come along the corridor with a new baby and said, "Here's your daddy!" and handed him our little bundle. I did feel sad that neither of us had been around to witness his entrance into the world, but I was also just grateful he'd made it safe and sound.
Because of the c-section we had to stay in for a few days. Being in hospital was not great. The delivery staff had been absolutely brilliant but the after care nurses were clearly run off their feet and didn't have a lot of time for anyone. Luckily Zac seemed to know how to feed right from the off, so I basically lay with him on me for three days with little interference from anyone else. So much for not being able to bond if you don't have that instant skin-to-skin contact. I was all tubed-up and wobbly so I couldn't get up to put him down, which was lovely. The downside was, you had to go to the cafe if you wanted any lunch, which being impossible for me meant I was pretty starving by supper time. Luckily I had Martin's "waiting for the birth" snacks which he hadn't eaten and then a friend brought in a hamper of goodies which I scoffed too!
One week on and a bit more normal!

Before Zac was born I worried about everything. I was terrified of small babies and whenever a friend had handed me one I'd had to sit down in a chair first and still felt convinced I would somehow drop it. I worried about how to pick my baby up right, supporting its head; I worried about whether I would be able to feed it, how to bath and dress it without causing serious injury etc etc. Once he'd arrived I felt really calm. It all seemed completely natural. It was brilliant to bring him home.