6 month milestone

I write from the ‘drying chair’ at The Chapel, a small window of alone time, just me, my hair and this amazing place. 

Tomorrow we embark on a new adventure as Toby starts at Testplant. The culmination of some months of discovery and development. 

Monty and I will charge forth on what is left of my maternity leave, a new chapter.

With new hair. 


Early joys of parenthood

I’ve seemingly joined a secret (or not so secret) society of wonderfulness, with a fairly tough entrance exam and initiation fortnight. However now that adjustments have been made, expectations for productivity lowered and acceptance of certain smells, fluids and demands met, a whole new world has presented itself.

The feelings of fulfilment, achievement, pride, love, excitement, protection, partnership and at times anxiety are overwhelmingly powerful. What a ride so far.

Happy one month little man!




















And back to normality

Paternity leave finished with a flourish yesterday as we added a giant puppy into the mix of new baby and our own dog. Gus, the Vizzla, is not a permanent addition but rather a favour to friends as the last NCT baby in our group was being born in London. Hey, we’ve had two weeks to get to grips with Monty and Finn, it was about time for a new challenge!

We headed to our favourite park in an attempt to tire the two beasts out.



Today we will head onwards with Toby fully back in an ever changing landscape at work and I’ll do my best to be sole charge of the ‘boys’. I’ve got a long to do list to juggle with feeding and still a small amount of recovering to do myself. Nearly there though.

On Saturday I took the train to London to the civilised day part of one of my best friends’ hen party – which was great fun, I felt like I was on day release from my post-partum hell hole. My hero husband flew solo with Monty and Finn, this was pre-Gus! Finn our little terrier has been a star and watching how jealous he’s been today as Gus the invading dog entered his territory, I think Monty and Finn will be great mates eventually. Of course while Monty is small and unable to assert any sort of influence over Finn we have to be ultra vigilant and responsible as after all, dogs are dogs are dogs….and the horrific stories in the press are terrible but not surprising when you discover how lax people are sometimes with dogs and babies. Monty’s entrance to the world was hardly easy, not keen on making a replacement just yet!
I’m unsure of the appropriate level of detail when ‘birth blogging’ so will err on the side of caution and opt for non-gore.
Let’s just say it hurt in every sense and I was somewhat traumatised by the experience.

In summary, my birth plan of gas & air plus pool was going nicely up until 9cm, I was in slightly euphorically powerful searing pain as I neared the end of transition – a little afraid of releasing myself into the pushing phase and slightly irritated when my urine was tested by a nervy midwife who informed me I was too tired and dehydrated to continue without a drip to sort levels out. With one swift manoeuvre I was out of the pool, drip inserted (after 3 attempts), epidural in (after 4 attempts, apparently it’s a good idea for trainees to use first time mums as target practice) and everything had slowed. Fast forward another 10 hours and Monty was born with some rather brutal looking salad servers and a tactical 4″ slice made to ensure smooth delivery. Nice. I was traumatised twice when Toby left the room so he missed Monty’s heart rate crashing and a Casualty style scene of multiple doctors and nurses rushing in to ‘save the day’. As he sauntered back in with a Costa, “what did I miss” garnered some emotional exhausted responses. Needless to say he didn’t leave my side after the 2nd time. Convinced I was going to die and Monty too, anxiety levels were through the roof by this point. My birth plan hadn’t stretched to this level of stress and duration of labour. My mum and Toby made such a great team and kept me vaguely on this stratosphere.

Having had such a fabulous pregnancy, only getting a bit fed up at the latter hippo inflated end, I had approached birth with excitement and positivity. Perhaps a little unrealistically.

There was a point during delivery when I lost control of what was happening and changed from labouring woman to patient in hospital.

My own midwife has since been dissecting the process with me while fixing me physically and emotionally. She has been wonderful as after getting home I’ve been battling infection and the normal hormonal swings that come with a new baby and a traumatic experience.

It sounds dramatic, but it really rather all was.

Monty is amazing. Totally worth every minute of it. I’m not sure what finally enabled my body to start healing, something in the mix of double dose extended period antibiotics, twice daily tea tree baths, a mild painkiller addiction, iron tablets, application of an Arc Equine unit to stimulate healing (brill for horses and humans alike) or just time and patience.

I’ve found resting hard as I’ve got used to breast feeding (not easy when sitting down is painful!) and beating infection. I’m on the up and Toby is back to work today having survived paternity, marred by a somewhat over emotional and exhausted wife.

We are beginning to get into a routine and are definitely working as a team and now it’s time for me to get on with being a mummy to our little super baby.





Early labour, just me and a TENS machine

It’s 4am Thursday 2nd October and I’ve been in early labour for about 11 hours (I think, let me check maths…first signs at 5pm, waters went at 12.05 ish, yeah that adds up). Have been to Pembury and been assessed by youngish midwife who advised us to come back Friday AM for induction if contractions don’t start naturally. They have started and I can’t sleep through them but not too bad at the moment. Am hooked up to the TENS machine which is reassuringly pulsating on my back – quite relaxing. Toby is asleep after a glass of Carminere and probably good he rests as the next 24 hours could be loooooong.

It was funny when my waters did break as I was whingeing at him to turn the TV off so we could sleep and then next on my hit list was getting him to turn the light out too. And then my waters unmistakably broke and he leapt out of bed cheering.

We rang triage and I was advised to come in for assessment, so we headed off to Pembury leaving a somewhat confused Finn behind. I felt sick with nerves which has now eased once they checked heartbeat, blood pressure, swabbed my throat and nose for MRSA (bit gross, made me gag) and checked waters. An older more experienced midwife was drafted in temporarily to check for meconium in the waters (said was none) – it was amazing how much more I relaxed as she came in the room. An older, wiser face of experience and calm while the younger midwife made me slightly nervous as she seemed hyper vigilant and intense. All good but just different.

Anyway now back at home, under instruction to rest and be active tomorrow, if contractions intensify enough to go back in we
will do, or will have to go back Fri AM for induction. Hopefully sometime tomorrow will be forced to go back in naturally and hope to meet Junior before too long.

Now must remember to breathe and think of contractions as pressure rather than pain……

Monday 6th October 2014 – 3am ish I think

Am going into day 3 of Monty’s life with us since he was born on Friday. I realise there’s a huge gap to be filled in between my post on Thurs AM (terrified tone reading it back!) and now. But am 100% needing to live it right now and will reflect later.

Over and out.

Montgomery Tobias Hawkins – born Fri 3rd October 2014 at 0229 weighing 8lbs 5oz



So Baby Hawkins has somewhere to sleep in the first few weeks…


Don’t worry, I won’t let doglet quite that close when there’s a baby in there (pre-empting anxiety from Granny Jac and Great Grandma Ruth)

He has somewhere to snuggle once he gets a bit bigger…


He has wheels!


He has ‘going out’ clothes….


He has a communication device….


He has a portable transport device for returning from hospital complete with beautiful blanket from the aunties…


We are ready to rock and roll with hospital bags packed…


And last but not least Baby Hawkins looks thoroughly cooked and ready….


But he will come when he’s ready and after an anxious few days pre-empting imminent labour I’ve resorted to my previous position of patience (not a strong suit) and am rationalising that worst case scenario I have less than three weeks as due date is next Weds. I hope intervention and induction isn’t required but by 2 weeks over due I’m sure I’ll be begging for it!

Having had a fantastic pregnancy with little ailments and staying active, I’m plighted with hip pain and the problem of frustration. Three of the six babies in our NCT group have been born, I’m so happy for the other girls but also sooooo envious. It is now a battle in my mind to stay positive and warm inside about impending birth of our baby so that he enters into the world in the best possible way.


Pregnancy yoga

Nestled on the old high st in TW, is an oasis of tranquility and calm – The Freestyle Yoga Project studio.


Run by Anna and Mark, it embodies their yogic outlook and aesthetically pleasing vision for both body and surrounding. Looking at them is to marvel at the positive side of physical yoga practice.


I’ve been back today to start a course of pregnancy yoga with Helen, who is another glowing example of yogic beauty.
As I walked up the steps into the studio I felt myself calming as I inched closer to a promised hour of focused meditative yet physical work out.

The studio is beautiful and clean with soft grey and purple, varying textures and oodles of light pouring in through the windows.


Helen has a professional and friendly style, I felt at ease and enjoyed the stretching, listening to her knowledgeable snippets of pregnancy related theory while breathing through the poses and enjoying my body uncurling, de-clicking and hopefully Baby H gratefully receiving calm vibes too.

I floated home…well maybe waddled slightly more easily…

Pottering in a local farm shop

Mr H and I recently holidayed in the Loire region of France in his family’s quaint, slightly tumbledown but effortlessly charming and romantic property. It was one of my favourite weeks so far this year, we took Finn our beloved dog on holiday for the first time as we went through the tunnel, whizzed down the French motorways enjoying the best of our SLK (roof down, wind in hair) and totally chilled for a week buying fresh food at the market each day, bbqing each evening on the stones that Toby and his dad built into a cooking device when he was little and bobbed around in the pool reading books. It really was bliss.
The French market style of shopping doesn’t exist as such in the UK. We do have several farmer’s markets in Kent but they are more for show, over priced and not a real alternative to supermarket shopping. What we do have, however, are some good farm shops, especially in the Tunbridge Wells area. Yesterday I was pottering around with Finn wondering what to do with my day so I visited a new opening for Fuller’s butchers (Hawkenbury) in the old Eridge Farm shop location on Bunny Lane.


Finn was delighted as after spending some money inside on delicious looking bits and pieces, I took him for a walk on the Eridge estate which backs onto the shop.


Tonight, we have some locally produced fillet steak and tomorrow some pork tenderloin. Both bits of meat just looked appealing in that way that bits of raw meat can to a carnivorous being. In our fridge now sits some duck rillette, strawberry vinegar, local goats cheese and some big fat olives. Not quite fresh croissants or juicy vine tomatoes from the French market but some good grub to take us towards the weekend.

We ate in brother in law Luke’s Gastro pub in Balham recently and one of the many highlights was a strawberry flavoured vinegarette. I spotted something similar in the farm shop, to be sampled this eve over goats cheese salad.


I prepped the goats cheese by freezing for 15 mins, slicing, rubbing with flour, dipping in egg and rolling in breadcrumbs, herbs and seasoning. Enjoying my herb garden being useful!


Pan fried and chucked on some vine tomatoes drizzled with the strawberry vinegarette. Only slight mistake was adding basil to the salad which clashed with the mint in the dressing. But pretty good.