Sunday, 30 March 2008

Hard Labour: the Afterbirth Rated 12. Contains more gory detail.

starring Gandalady, Gandahusband, Katherine. co-starring Frau and Mrs Midwife. Supporting cast: other midwives. Another special appearance from The Man from Accounts.

I am wheeled by Gandahusband, Frau and Mrs to Private Room no. 1. Baby - who we think might be called Dorothy but are not sure yet - has her first feed which she seems to enjoy very much. I am tired but very pleased with the new bundle and relieved it is all over.

Frau and Mrs feel my tummy and check my BP which is low. I am bleeding alot, but they think all will be well. They each give me a friendly squeeze, complete bits of paperwork and prepare to go home. I send Gandahusband on his way, and soon it is just me and the small, pink person. She is wearing a vest, a sleepsuit and a blanket. The temperature is ambient to warm. I am happy in a T shirt and a sheet.

I lie awake all night, due to after-pains, adrenalin and copious amounts of bleeding. The midwives on duty are not very troubled by this.

3am. I stagger into the corridor. "May I have some more pads please?" I croak. "And a new sheet?" A midwife returns at a leisurely pace with the pads. "No sheets. Sorry." She is about to leave when she sees the baby. "This baby is not wearing A HAT!" she exclaims. "Er.. it's OK," I reply. "It's not cold. I'm British!" I quip, as if this should explain everything.

"This is Africa!" says the midwife. On this continent the baby wears a hat whatever the weather, lady.

She starts rummaging through my bag and digs out a black vest of mine and a muslin, and then wraps the baby up in these extra layers, fashioning a kind of head covering out of the folds. Reverend Mother from The Sound of Music. It rather suits her, even if she is being cooked alive.
3.30am I text R to bring sheets from home, and remove the extra layers.

Sheets delivered, I stare at the ceiling until 6am, occasionally getting up to change them etc. No one disturbs me. 6.30am. I would love a cup of tea.

7am. I really would love a cup of tea.

7.30am. Do I get breakfast?

8am. I'm hungry. And I am gasping for a brew.

8.30am If I don't get a cup of tea I will cry. I stagger into the corridor. "Er...can I get a cup of tea please?" I say to anyone who will listen.

A midwife wanders over and looks in the room. "This baby is COLD!" she exclaims, and starts fussing over the baby with layers again. I clench my jaw. A chef arrives with a mug of hot, sugary milk and two tiny sausages wrapped in a paper napkin: better than nothing.

9am. Gandahusband arrives with latte and pastries. Heaven. We start planning our escape.

10am. The man from accounts again, ever conscientious. Fill in this form please.

More forms. Then a visit from Ugandan obstetrician who is wearing a pink shirt and we have a nice chat. He is happy for us to go.

11.30am We are heading for the exit, already sweltering in the tropical heat. "Stop!" cries one of the midwives. "You must be accompanied by a nurse!" The nurse comes. Again, the horror: "where is the baby's hat?" goes the cry. "No hat." I say. Don't go there sister.

We get home. E and G fall over themselves to cuddle and poke Katherine (for she is no longer Dorothy.) By the afternoon it has turned chilly and is pouring with rain. I dig out a pink beanie hat and put it on the baby.

Thursday, 27 March 2008

Hard Labour (rated 15. contains blood and guts, and some bad language)

starring Gandalady, Gandahusband, Katherine. Co-starring Frau and Mrs Midwife. Special appearance from The Man from Accounts.

A True Story.

Tuesday. Twinges all morning, but didn't get excited by this as twinges were by now pretty commonplace. After a nice lunch and a lie down with E and G I thought they might be getting regular or regularish. I started recording the times on my shopping notepad: beans, loo roll, 14:23, 14:35, 14:44. Every ten mins. Yes! I texted Frau Midwife (for she is German) and started doing brisk circuits of the garden.

Frau Midwife calls me. "I can't come right now," she says. "One of my children [she has 8] is very sick and vomiting everywhere. Let me get Mrs Midwife [for she is British] to see you instead." I continue my circuit training until friend Suzanne comes and we walk up a very steep nearby hill and drink passion juice at the bar on the top.

We get home. Twinging definitely stronger. Mrs Midwife arrives. "There's no hurry!" I tell her brightly, as she walks in the door. "You could have waited another....GAAAAAHHH!" Suddenly interrupted by an unmistakeable and very painful contraction. She examines me - 3 cms. We go to hospital, Rob, myself, Mrs Midwife and a large, purple birthing ball. In his excitement, R drives past the front entrance.

"I can never remember which floor the maternity floor is!" chats Mrs Midwife, clutching the birthing ball. "Anyway, I don't like this place and never refer my mothers here anyway."

We by-pass lots of tutting, officious looking nurses, aggrieved that we haven't stopped to complete the necessary paperwork, and head straight for the delivery suite. The Man from Accounts at least has the boldness to follow us in and collar Rob about paying the bill. By this time I am having strong contractions, and would give the man my last penny just to make him go away.

I clamber into a flappy blue hospital gown and haul myself onto the bed. There is no adjustable backrest. Hence the ball comes with me onto the bed, covered with a sheet, and I lie draped on it for the next 4 hours or so.

Frau Midwife arrives, chewing gum. Frau and Mrs Midwife are delighted to see each other. How is the little one? How's everything going? Would you like a Coke?, etc.

Another exam. 6 or 7 cm. "I can feel the membranes," says Mrs. "If we rupture them, that would speed things up." Do it please. "What shall we use?" says Frau. "Hmm," says Mrs, and goes off to hunt for a suitable implement. She returns with a long, steel pair of scissors.

"WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO WITH THAT?" I shriek. Mrs reassures me that I won't feel anything. She has a go, then gives up. "I don't think these membranes were meant to be ruptured," she says sadly. "We need an amniohook!" says Frau. "I've got one at home," replies Mrs.

Meanwhile, a nurse comes in to ask us to move the car. We have parked in the CEO's spot. R suggests we do it later.

Pain relief please, I say. Frau leaves the room and returns with some gas and air - at last some useful equipment. Ahhhhh. I go on a short journey to la-la land. Lovely Ugandan Obstetrician arrives and snaps on a pair of gloves. Time to push. Then: a power cut. "Has anyone got a torch?" flaps Frau. R moves laptop (we were listening to music on it) and holds the screen behind LUO so thus illuminated, he can catch the baby, who is out in less than a minute.

A few nurses come and go as baby (for she is not yet named) is weighed, the cord clamped, etc. I am helped onto a trolley and wheeled to a room, accompanied by a tiny, wailing blue bundle. "When is this baby going to be dressed?" says one of the nurses. It is to become a familiar refrain...

story continues in Hard Labour: the Afterbirth

Coming Soon!


Here she is: Katherine Dorothy Schofield. Born 26th March 2008, 23 mins past midnight. We're not sure who she looks like. But she is rather lovely, don't you think?

Friday, 21 March 2008

Guess the mystery object!

I know. It looks like a loaf of bread. But it is in fact, one of these:

an emergency home delivery kit! Just in case I don't make it to the hospital in time. It's been fascinating studying its contents, and I'm not the only one to have had a nosey - see the tiny hands?

Not that baby has given me the slightest indication that s/he is about to come out. Although I have a week til my due date, I am getting a bit crazed with impatience. I have never had a late baby before - Emma arrived on her due date like a Swiss train, and Gloria was 8 days early. There is a first time for everything I suppose. I could always give myself an appendectomy with the instruments if I get that bored.

Thursday, 20 March 2008

The mongoose strikes again.

Sally rabbit.

That's all I can bear to write on the matter.

Does anyone have a recipe for slow-roasted mongoose? I don't care if they're endangered.

Sunday, 16 March 2008

Creaming the fat off the poor

I am in a rage about Big Banks - no need to name names, that would be indelicate. Not long ago the British press were huffing and puffing about the BBs lining their pockets from overdraft fees and the like. But gutting as it is to have to fork out 30 quid every time you get paid late and the direct debits go out, I see some sort of reasoning behind why banks penalise you for spending cash that isn't yours. (I still think £30 is too steep.)

If you think that's being ripped off though, try this for size. At my bank - which, as I said, shall remain nameless, I don't want a reputation as an agitator - they charge you every time you withdraw money over the counter (60p), each time you make a withdrawal if your balance is under £150 (£5) and each time you use the ATM (1p.) I would grind my teeth a bit then forget about it this issue if it weren't for the fact that £5 to a moderately-off Ugandan is two days wages. And you haven't even gone overdrawn, remember: this is still your money.

Not that you'd've heard of them anyway....

Friday, 7 March 2008

Look at my baby

A pregancy update has been requested. Here it is.
- I have 3 weeks exactly to go til my due date
- I am booked into Kampala International Hospital, less than 5 mins drive away
- I have had an appointment with the very chatty German midwife. We bump into each other at the pizza restaurant quite a lot too, where she sometimes gives me a quick feel
- don't know the sex
- don't know what we'll call him or her either
- any suggestions?
- not having contractions or anything exciting like that
- baby is head down at last, after spending ages hammock-style or 'transverse'. Very happy it's moved as transverse = automatic caesarean
-although I do strain my abdominals during a vigorous game of Duck Duck Goose
- i am fantasising about sleeping on my front
- i am hoping there is a spare canister of Entonox lying around at IHK
- this is the last addition to the Schofield tribe

I think that covers it.

Huge excited thank you to everyone who wants a dress. I need these measurments: bust (circumference), waist (circ), hips (circ), shoulder to waist, shoulder to knee (or mid-calf, depending on the length you want) and shoulder strap (back to front.)
Please tell me fabric you like and delivery address too. If you can tell me before tomorrow (8th)early afternoon then I can probably get your dress in our friend's suitcase when they go back on 14th March.

Sunday, 2 March 2008

Two totally unconnected stories


Thanks so much for your encouragement. I'm sorry to have been away for a few days, but in case you were thinking this business idea was a case of all mouth and no trousers, have a look at this.

Eva made these dresses and Lexie the Excellent took these photos. It took her an entire morning in sweltering heat, and all she wanted in return was a few glasses of water. I supplied the gorgeous supermodels. Like what you see? Let me know. We have some friends going back to the UK on 14th March so your order could be fulfilled in record time.

OK, enough sales schpiel (at least for 5 minutes.) Did you know UB40 have just performed here in Kampala? Did you know that not many international pop bands manage the African circuit? It made the front page of the national newspaper. They mentioned in their report that

"Security personnel, comprising mostly of hulking bouncers were left with no choice but to use stun guns in order to prevent silver section ticket holders from surging over the stage barrier."
Stagedivers. That'll teach yer.

Name 3 UB40 hits and I'll give you an ice cream.