Wednesday, July 30, 2008

calendar event: jeans for genes day

Swaddling for the denim lover!

Quick reminder: Friday is Jeans for Genes day so don your fave jeans and dress bub in the baby blues to support medical research into genetic diseases. Buy a badge, wrist band or dog tag or just make a donation to one of the many volunteers you'll no doubt see on the day. You can also donate money or buy merchandise such as the very cute "denimstration" T-shirts online here.

Monday, July 28, 2008

welcome to... layla's room

Baby items on display are kept to a minimum but baby shoes are too cute to hide away!

If you've come from renovate + decorate, you're probably over this room! But in case you haven't, here is Layla's nursery end of our bedroom. While I'm waiting for pics to come from others for nursery tours, I thought I'd show you Layla's. It's changed a little since she moved in: we had to move the cradle away from the middle window because it was FREEZING against that wall, so I moved the dresser over and popped my cane chair in the corner. The window has also become a shelf for her soft-toy pressies and I had to dig Zak's mobile out of the cabin to keep her entertained. You can see what it looked before here

Who sleeps here: Layla Belle, 6 weeks, NSW Central Coast, Australia
What was your initial inspiration for the room? The fact we were bunking together - I wanted it to be anything but babyish. But I think the chalkboard artwork of my (somewhat doctored!) pregnant silhouette kind of summed up what I was thinking for the space: something grown up in a neutral, serene colour palette without forgetting that a baby will live here too.

Layla's end of our bedroom

How did you build on this inspiration? I stuck to all-white furniture and kept the baby stuff to a minimum, making sure whatever is on display is as eye-pleasing as possible and not too out of character of the room. I used hits of classic black and white in the storage boxes, fabric-covered canvases and picture wall (not shown - in our side of the room), and painted the back wall a purpley grey. I didn't know the sex of the baby either, so wanted something gender neutral that would still work after they left. That said, I'm pretty sure we'll wallpaper that wall or do something else once she's out of our room.

What's your fave piece in the room? The baby! But besides Layla, it'd be the wallpapered dresser. I love it and think it's perfect for a little girl's room (good thing she turned out to be a girl then!)

My fave piece: the wallpapered dresser

Best bargain? Hmm, everything really: the cradle was given to me by my aunty, the wardrobe is on loan from my brother-in-law, the dresser was originally Zak's and all the artwork I either made myself or bought from Etsy. I didn't spend much - saving up for a new kitchen!

Biggest splurge? Probably the contents of her wardrobe!

The new Etsy prints on the wall (and Layla in her cot!)

Any handmade touches you did yourself? Yep: I drew the chalkboard silhouette; painted and wallpapered the dresser; revamped the cot; painted the stencil on the window, customised the MDF "L" and made the artwork on her cradle.

How would one get this look? Create uniformity with white furniture but break it up with a surprise piece such as a great vintage wardrobe, cool coloured chairs or in my case, wallpapered dresser. Don't use anything commercial or too nursery-like and keep the colour palette subtle and serene. A few homemade touches create interest and make the room unique which is a nice change from catalogue-looking rooms.

I made this little black felt Bambi silhouette as black and white are the best stimulants for newborns.

Nursery buy you can't live without A musical mobile for the newbies. I'd forgotten how handy it was until I dug it out and popped it above her. She loves it.

What's next for this space? Once Layla is about six months old, she'll probably move in with Zak. I'm already planning what I want to do with a combined boy/girl room. I'll probably turn this end of the room into an office and little sitting room seeing as my office space is about to be demolished to open up the kitchen and dining area a little more.

Friday, July 25, 2008

calendar event: baby & kids market

To market, to market to buy a great bargain

I think this place could be mummy heaven: bargain-priced clothes, shoes, toys, nursery furniture, prams, baby accessories... everything you could possibly need for baby and kids up to six. And it's coming to a venue near you. I'd never heard of the Baby & Kids Market until I did Stella's nursery post - her mum Michelle swears by it and by the looks of Stella's cute room, she's onto something. Anyone else been to testify? The markets sell mostly second-hand, but high-quality second-hand, baby goods from next to nothing (see pic below for proof!) to not very much (like cots for around $80, car seats for $30 and bouncers at around $15).

How often do you see a price tag with $1 on it these days?

There are also a few local businesses owner stalls selling new goods, but it's mainly pre-loved wares from a huge range of labels like Fred Bare and Pumpkin Patch to Country Road and everything inbetween. It's great for anyone setting up a nursery, after a few extra duds for their incredibly fast-growing children, stocking up on Chrissy and birthday gifts and even for those wanting to make a buck or two: you can set up your own stall (details here).

There are anything from 65 to 120 stalls at each market selling gorgeous clothes like this

Lucky Sydneysiders get to go this Sunday between 9 and 12 at the Five Dock Leisure Centre whereas I have to wait a whole other month for it to come to me. But August 31 is pencilled on my calendar - I'm so there. It'll cost you a whole $3 to enter - kids are free - and there is food, drinks and free kids entertainment all under one roof. To find out when it's coming to your town, go here for dates and venues. Enjoy, but no fighting now you hear?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

things i'd forgotten about that happen after giving birth

1. Your hair falls out This is so not fun for yourself, let alone everyone else in your family who has to fish out long strands from their food or have it cling to their clothes. Particularly bad when it wraps around your eyeball. Ever had this happen? Too weird.
2. You sweat - a lot I kept waking up in pools of sweat wondering if the heater was on too high, but as soon as I'd get out of bed to pick up Layla from her cradle, I'd realise the room was actually freezing. Took me a couple of days to remember your body expells all the extra water and fluids your body used during the pregnancy. What makes it even more of a joy is that it's winter so once you get up out of the warm bed covers, it's icy cold which only makes the fact your clothes are wet even worse!
3. The fun that is baby brain I don't know if I can blame all my hopelessness on baby brain, but I am really good at forgetting things, dropping things and getting things all mixed up. Could be the fatigue, could be hormonal changes, but could just be the fact I did all this before and it's only just been exasperated after giving birth!
4. Breastfeeding is a messy sport If you're not waking up soaked through from sweat, it'll be the leaking breasts that was the problem. And don't let anyone get too close to you while you're trying to get the baby to latch on cause if they're still getting the hang of it, chance are, your milk will be fountaining all over them, you, the couch and possibly the person sitting on it next to you. I found a tight singlet at nighttime under my pjs is the only way to keep the pads in place so they'll be effective.
5. Babies change their sleep routines as often as we change their nappies Just when you think they like a three-hour nap in the morning, they change to cat napping. Once you're used to that, they won't sleep at all. Finally worked out how to cope with an awake baby all day, and they'll alternate a long sleep, short sleep. Keeps you on your toes!

But it's all good. Something new I've discovered now I have two children: they don't like to synchronise their sleep times. So this basically means I don't get a real break until 7pm when they both go down for the night. But that does mean LOTS of quality time with them both! And means Tuesdays are soooo easy with one baby when Zakky visits his grandparents! So, due to all the craziness, I'll be blogging every second day here and at renovate + decorate on the off days.
So what weird and wonderful things did you discover after having a baby?

Friday, July 18, 2008

they're here! layla's birth announcement cards

Modern + cool: Layla's birth announcements by Dizzy Wizzy Design

You might recall me posting a shortlist a little while back of birth announcements for Layla. Well, I was having trouble deciding and then receieved a lovely email from a lady named Natalie Sullivan who'd just started up a stationery design business in WA and offered to design Layla's cards. The sample she included in the email was sooo me: it had zebra print on it! If you're a regular reader of renovate + decorate you'll know by now how much I love it (I post about it ad nauseam) so of course how could I turn down her offer? Especially when she said it was Zak's rug that inspired her! I love her design - it's funky and modern and cool with just a hint of pink, and I particularly love the fact it's a postcard. What a cute idea! You can just write a message and send (or still do the traditional method and pop in an envelope).

The back (not the clearest pic, but Layla's name and birthday are in the stamp spot - cute!)

So a huge big thank you to Natalie - they're fab! You must check her out her site, Dizzy Wizzy Design, which will launch in a few months. I'll keep you posted when it does.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

birth story: Danielle Russell

Danielle and baby Tennyson, moments after he was born

Just days away from becoming a registered nurse, it's only natural Danielle is a fan of gory details! So, here she is sharing her own birth story to her now one-year-old son Tennyson.

"My due date was the 23rd of July 2007. My pregnancy all went really well, except for low iron, but I think a majority of women suffer from this! On Saturday the 21st my legs and feet swelled up to the size of an elephant. I spoke to my mum that day - I needed a whinge and she assured me that the baby would be on its way very soon! That night I woke up at 3.30am with some light abdominal cramping. I tried to sleep through it but I didn't really get any rest. I think the thought of the baby coming excited me so much that I couldn't sleep.

At around 8am on Sunday morning, the cramps were getting stronger and were about 5-7 mins apart. They still weren't agonising and I wasn't ready to go to the hospital just yet. I had some light bleeding but had been told to expect that. We went to the shopping centre to buy a few things we needed and Luke desperately needed a haircut. So I sat in the hairdressers waiting for him whilst worrying that my water was going to break! Luke kept on looking at me to make sure I was ok. I had moments of sitting there with my eyes shut trying not to think about my painful heavy belly. When we got home I managed to have a sleep for about an hour. I relaxed on the couch for the afternoon, breathing through contractions. At 5pm we rang the hospital and they told us to come in. They monitored baby's heart and did an internal exam. My cervix was a little sluggish and wasn't dilating. They let us go out for a while and Luke got some dinner. Whilst driving over speed bumps at Hungry Jacks (Ew) I had the worst contractions and made Luke drive back really quickly. I was feeling quite nauseus and so tired - I didn't know that it was going to be worse!

I didn't want to have pain relief but wasn't quite prepared for the pain of labour. My cervix still wasn't ready for a baby. They gave me some pethidine to help with the contractions but it didn't have a good effect. My contractions just got stronger and closer together. I jumped in and out of the shower 3 or 4 times with hot water. Luke was fantastic and put the shower on me and I probably injured his hands when I was squeezing!

By now it was 3am and I was exhausted, physically and emotionally. I was screaming for an epidural. I didn't get one and I'm so glad about that. I was in the shower when I just started to push. They made me get into the bed and felt the cervix - finally time to push!! My water didn't break until I was well into the pushing stage. Laying on my back did not help to get the baby out. My contractions slowed and I couldn't push anymore. I think I gave up for a while there. Helen, my midwife, then brought in a bar that goes across the bed. Whenever I got a contraction, Luke and her pulled me up so that I was squatting above the bed. It obviously worked, before long they could see the head. When I thought I could not push anymore they showed me the baby's head with the mirror and I got a second wind. Once the head was out, the rest was easy!

Tennyson was finally born at 5.39am on Monday the 23rd of July - his due date! They put him straight on my chest and I had plenty of blood, sweat and tears. It has got to be the most special moment of my life. I needed internal sutures and had grazes as well so oogled over my new baby boy whilst they stitched me up. Luke fell asleep in the chair holding our son. I was wide awake. I got up and had a shower, put on some clean pjs and sent everyone a photo on my mobile! I was in the nude - but that's the best way to be, skin to skin with the baby!"

Thanks Danielle for sharing! If anyone else wants to share their baby's birth story, please email me at

Tag! I'm it!

The lovely Chantal Butcher at Interior Dreaming and Styled Baby tagged me the other day. Sooo, here's a little bit about me...

What were you doing 10 years ago? I was 21, living at home and a newspaper journalist with aspirations to work for TIME magazine (!). In-between all serious and usually depressing police and court reporting, I'd just started dating my now-hubby Steve, spent way too much money on clothes from Portmans and make-up, and even went out occassionally. In high heels.

Five items on your to-do list today?
1. Buy a pressie for my brother-in-law Pete (kind of done - mother-in-law bought on our behalf!)
2. Buy another blind for the bedroom (still uncrossed. Stupid Freedom closed down near me for a few weeks... Grr)
3. Finish weekend project (one part is done!)
4. Sign agency agreement and send off for sale of investment property (well it's signed...)
5. Finish answering Natalie's questions for mini profile and attempt to make myself sound half intelligent. (questions answered, just not sent off. they're coming nat!)
Hmm, not a very successful to-do list was it?!

Snacks you enjoy? Chocolate, ice cream and cake. I've a sweet tooth. And lots of fillings. And more to come if I ever work up the courage to go back to the dentist who told me five years ago he'd fill the "small hole" when I returned...

What would you do if you were a billionaire? Oooh, aside from the obvious "looking after family and giving some to charity" I'd...
* Throw money at Anthropologie to open stores here in Oz - cause we need them here. And I think this would count as charity too!
* Buy holiday homes all over the world and play decorator as much as I liked.
* Buy Liverpool FC for Steve so he could play manager as much as he liked. He's already an expert (on the computer game, anyway!)

Where would you live? Am I still a billionaire? If so, I'd by an absolute beachfront home outside of the city and a helicopter to chopper me in to work! If I'm my normal poor self, I'm rather happy where I am in my rather sleepy little town on the NSW central coast - for now!

Who will I pass this on to? Not sure who's done it and who hasn't, but Natalie at Daily Imprint cause with a newborn she has HEAPS of time on her hands, and Georgia at The Musings of a Betty Homemaker cause she's a newbie blogger and was worried noone would visit her site. So go check her out!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

newest baby buys

Layla needed a pair of ballet shoes and another soft toy. Needed it I tell you!

I've gone a little crazy lately shopping for cute little baby things. But how can you not when there are soooo many cool things around? Here are a few of the latest items to dent my savings account.

Lucky me, not only did my Merle Oobee arrive so well-dressed, I scored two blank cards and a lovely congrats letter from Merle's creator Leslie. I love how Etsy sellers give you little bonuses - I think it should be mandatory in stores! Oobee, $46, One Girl Designwrks

Aren't these the cutest? Little cotton ballet slippers from a French clothing label. They were only $AUS11. ELEVEN dollars. I should have bought a whole heap - would make great gifts! I don't want to wish her life away, but I can't wait until Layla grows a tiny bit more so she can wear them. The ribbon-wrapped paper envelope contains the invoice - only the French could dress up an invoice! Clara shoes in beige (also in white and pink), $11, Chateau de Sable

Where the new buys call home, with a little white suitcase, $11.95, from Baby's Got Style

Still to come: these three gorgeous Belle & Boo postcards I'm going to frame for one of the walls in Layla's nursery corner. Check out this site for cute magnets and badges as well as beautiful prints and greeting cards. The website is really cute too!

Patience Brown postcard, 1.75 pounds, Belle & Boo

Joy White postcard, 1.75pounds, Belle & Boo

Lola Freedom postcard, 1.75pounds, Belle & Boo

And also, I ordered some too-cute personalised silhouette stationery for the kids from fabulous Etsy seller Saratams. I love sending the grandparents little letters from the babies. And they love receiving them! You get to totally customise these stationery options from the colours, fonts, silhouettes to the text.

I got this colour and style with a little girl holding a balloon for extra thank yous from Layla. Folded note cards, $US24 for pack of 16 with envelopes, Saratams

I got Max and Grace silhouettes in the Pool colour (below) with Zak and Layla. Sooo cute!!! Flat note cards, $US20 for set of 16 with envelopes, Saratams

Your huge range of options

PS: Instructions on how to wallpaper a dresser like the one above can be found here

DIY mobile nappy station

Portable nappy station, courtesy of Real Living

I actually PAID for a copy of Real Living yesterday! For those of you who are new to this blog and are wondering if I usually steal my copies, I don't - I work for the mag! And in handing over money in a proper shop, I scored a freebie for once: a pop-up storage box. I put it to good use as a mobile nappy station. I'm not loving getting out of my warm bed in the middle of the night for feeds, so have been feeding Layla in my bed and also changing her nappy on there too. But every time I get her out of her cradle, I have to stop at the dresser for nappies, wipes, bottom cream, cloth nappy as changemat and plastic nappy bags all the while juggling a crying, starving baby while half asleep - and it's just way too much effort for my lazy self. So I managed to cram everything I need into this little storage box and now it stays by my bed and is in easy reach at all hours of the morning. And also extra handy for cleaning her up anywhere in the house. There's even room for a few of Zak's nappies so I don't have to get up AGAIN when Steve brings him in in the morning! See, told you I was lazy! So how did you use your free storage box?

Sunday, July 6, 2008

welcome to... stella's room

I wonder who lives here! Pretty fabric letters, $12.95 each, Charbella and Distractions. You can get similar fabric-covered letters from Freedom

...and our first nursery tour! I know everyone loves peeking into other (real) baby's rooms, so I hope to make this a regular feature too.
I first saw Stella's pretty room on Essential Baby and begged her mum, Michelle, to share with Mini Meez. Aside from the oodles of style this room oozes, the best thing about it was that it was done on a very tiny budget: vintage finds, clever shopping, op-shop bargains, market scouring and a bit of elbow grease all went hand-in-hand in creating this look. So, without further ado, here it is - plus a few tips on getting a similar look yourself.

Who sleeps here: Stella Jean, 17 months, from Sydney, Australia
What was your initial inspiration for the room? "I had seen the fabric letters before Stella was born and knew that if bubs was a girl (we didn’t find out the sex) that I would be going to the store the day after I got home from hospital to buy them – which is exactly what I did! They were one of the first things in her room and they played a huge part in the overall look. I also knew right from the word go that I wanted an open, doorless robe to display gorgeous dresses and tops, all hung on lovely old little hangers. I draw a great deal of inspiration from flickr, interiors magazines and old children’s books too."

An open wardrobe (for neat people only!) creates a feature of the vibrant, pretty clothes and linens. Great bargain buys: butterfly prints, $10 for the set; light shade, $4; and all dresses from the Baby & Kids Markets

How did you build on this inspiration? "The ‘shabby chic’ nature of the letters as well as the robe and its contents basically led to everything else running along that sort of theme as well - like the knobs on the lowboy, the cushions in the cot (which are removed for bedtime of course!), etc."

Stella shows off her room and her $10 lowboy from a garage sale. Fabric cars, $10 each from the Treehouse factory outlet

What's your fave piece in the room? "Definitely the pink robe as it makes such a statement."
Biggest splurge? "The two cane baskets under the change table. These were $50 each (I know, I know!) from Ikea and I’m still agog that I spent that much. In my defence though, they hold truckloads of nappies, have screwed-on, flip-top lids and will no doubt come in handy somewhere else when there’s no longer a change table in the house."

Michelle's biggest splurge were $50 cane baskets from Ikea. Another great deal: the change table and cot cost $300 all up from Toys R Us. The magnolia print is also from Ikea.

Best bargain? "The lowboy was $25 from a garage sale. It would have been $10, but I had to give the seller $15 to deliver it because I had no way of getting it home! In terms of the smaller items, I adore the little pink wooden horse which was $5, and no piece of clothing in the robe cost more than $5 – they were all from garage sales and the Baby Markets."

Pretty cushions (that are removed at bed time) give an adult feel to a tiny bed. Embroidered cushion from Ikea, green cushion from a garage sale.

Any handmade touches you did yourself? "Hmm, does painting count?! Where the butterfly prints are now, I used to have canvasses that I did make. Everyone loved them but it bugged me that all the patterns clashed so much with her name letters, so I took them down."

How the room used to look: Michelle covered some canvases with girlie fabric but replaced them with the butterfly prints after feeling it too much with the fabric letters

How would one get this look? "Think outside the square, in terms of furniture especially. There are so many unusual pieces out there with such character that may simply need a coat of paint or new handles/knobs. Have a look at markets, garage sales, op shops and eBay. As I once read in an interiors magazine – “I don’t ‘buy’. I hunt, I rummage, I scour, I search, I find.” This completely sums up my philosophy."

BEFORE: This cute bubblegum-pink wardrobe was $75 from Vinnies. Michelle sanded it back and painted it a softer pink to be home to Stella's fashionable wardrobe

AFTER: a paler, prettier pink

Nursery buy you can't live without "Grobags, without a doubt. It’s so great popping your baby to bed knowing that he or she isn’t going to get tangled up in blankets or other linen."

This too-cute rocking horse was just $5 from the Baby and Kids Markets

What's next for this space? "In terms of how the room will grow with Stella, we’ll get rid of the lowboy at some stage (wahhh! Although maybe this will stop be buying more clothes?) and replace it with toys such as an old dolls cradle and a dollshouse. And much further down the track, we’ll probably put a desk right underneath that window – she’s got the best outlook in the house!"

A range of cute vintage finds from various garage sales, op shops and markets sit nicely in the bottom of the open wardrobe

Thanks Michelle for sharing Stella's room with us - and for introducing me to the Baby & Kids Markets. I'll do a little post on them later this week.

Friday, July 4, 2008

kids party ideas

You can't go wrong with streamers!

Sorry, not here, but in the August issue of Real Living. I'm only posting a sneak peek cause I need you to buy it cause I need to keep my job! But, let's just say they're colourful, cheap and cheery ideas anyone can do!

Red = funky gender neutral space

We had fun at the shoot - Zak makes an appearance - and it's always great to see the published result after you've seen the time, effort and mess that goes into creating each shot!

The issue is out on stands Monday.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

nursery inspiration: Jonas' room

Little Jonas shows off his room

Talented kids furniture designer Jennifer Delonge has some lucky children. This is her son Jonas' room (nicked from her website and originally published in InStyle Home magazine). And what a cool room it is too. What's not to love? David Hicks fabric-covered chaise (I have this same fabric in blue and brown. Not sure what to do with it yet), a chalkboard boarder around the room, gorgeous Ava Chair designed by his mum (and how I first heard about Jennifer), Chinese drum stool... it's a room that will grow with the baby, which is always a good thing. Saves you $$$ on redecorating see! I'll post the rest of Jennifer's house at renovate + decorate. And, yes, I realise how stalkerish I seem with three whole posts on this woman...!!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

awesome kids storage solutions I wish were available here

A cosy zone perfect for adults and kids. From Cookie magazine

Sometimes I wish I lived in the States. And could afford to spend $US600 on a storage box, another $500 on a funky chair, $860 on a coffee table and $675 on a - drumroll pls - bowl. Because then I could easily re-create this very cool kid-friendly living space. Price tag aside, I love this room - the pieces are so clever: the table has pull-out storage drawers, the large bowl makes an art form out of Lego and small cars instead of a colourful mess, and the chair is just cool, albeit a little hard. A cosy cushion would top it off beautifully.

Charles Storage Table in Walnut, $US599, Jennifer Delonge

My absolute fave item in this room is the round play-and-store Charles Storage Table with the chalkboard top (above). But alas, the very clever (and stylish, check out her home on renovate + decorate and son's nursery above) Jennifer Delonge range of great kids furniture isn't available here so I'll have to admire from afar. Or possibly employ a carpenter to custom-make something similar. But this would certainly solve the common problem of storing kids stuff stylishly in adult spaces - and keep them busy in the process. I'd love one in my living room. The chalkboard lid flips over to a wood top as well so you could even use it as a coffee or side table that turns into a babysitter at the flip of the lid!

Charles Storage Table in Birch, $US599, Jennifer Delonge

PS: It's not round or quite as cool as the Charles Storage Table, but this one is available here from Adairs Kids: the chalkboard table keeps them entertained, the storage drawers keep the room tidy. Noice.

Blackboard play table, $349, Adairs Kids

Layla's birth story

First mummy and me pic - excuse the lack of clothes: she was so quick I didn't get to wear my bright pink labour nighty!

This might delve into the "too much information" category and also the "all about me" one, but I thought I'd share Layla's birth story with you. Partly because I know people like hearing the gory details (or is that just me?), but mainly because I find it so bloody hilarious and have been telling anyone who'll listen anyway! I thought I might make it a regular feature so if you want to share your own - and your baby pics - fire me an email at and I'll post. It never ceases to amaze me how completely different births and pregnancies can be. And how, no matter HOW the baby gets here, everyone pretty much feels the exact same way as soon as it's out into the world: exhausted, relieved and euphorically happy. So, here goes...

Six LONG days after my due date came and went, I woke up at 5.30am on June 11 to some low tummy pains. They weren't across my stomach like a normal contraction or Braxton Hicks, but "down there" so I wasn't sure if it was labour or some other weird crampy thing. They were relatively mild so I went back to sleep. Zak woke me up at 8am and I got up and did the normal nappy, play, breakfast routine at which point they started up again - about 15 minutes apart. A bit stronger, I now assumed it to be the real thing, but still worried about the fact it was so low down (and SHOOTING into my back pain which I'd had for the final few weeks of preg). I started banging my heel on the floor each time I got one and called my midwife who suggested I come in if I wanted to. At 1pm, I was being monitored in the same delivery room I'd had Zak in, eating a very yummy rice pudding and raving very George-Costanza-in-Seinfield-like about the brilliant parking space we got right outside the hospital. At around 2pm, my midwife, Terry, did the internal and told me I was 4cm and gave us the option of going home if we wanted. Not looking forward to another drive later on with more painful contractions (they are somehow worse in the car!) and a little reluctant to give up our parking spot, we decided to stay.

Steve prepared for another long night on the couch (last time I was 4cm, it still took another 10 hours before Zak arrived) and had his mobile phone seconds clock at the ready, timing contractions which had been about five minutes apart since we left home. I felt I was managing the contractions really well with my little stress balls and banging heel and was completely normal and relaxed in-between them. They were getting a little stronger each time, but were nothing compared to how I remembered them towards the end of my labour with Zak. I tried not to think about how much worse they'd get and added a new birth skill to the mix: ahh-ing on each exhale which seemed to make the pain magically disappear altogether.

Suddenly, they were two and a half minutes apart. And a bit stronger. I hopped in the shower with my h0t water bottle held to my pelvic area and the hot water running on my back (which was more painful than the contractions!) I was in there a few minutes and my waters broke. Next contraction I lost my mucus plug. I was feeling it a bit more now and so Terry ran a bath for me. Next contraction I yelled out "I'm pushing" expecting her to tell me to stop cause surely there was no way this was it? They weren't strong enough, close together enough and I wasn't exhausted enough for this to be time to push, surely? Terry asked if I could feel the head. I thought so. Next contraction she basically pushed me out of the shower and towards the bed. Steve ran around turning taps off everywhere, a second midwife appeared from nowhere and I just managed to crawl onto the bed on all fours when I took a deep breath and pushed out Layla's head. JUST her head. A screaming, hairy head. Contraction over. I was completely normal again, just with a little crying head hanging out of what felt like my bottom!!!!! A two-headed freak. I started laughing - as you would. It was the weirdest thing ever. And I can't imagine how it must have looked. You don't get that view! For about two minutes poor Layla was half in, half out crying and I started to wonder if I was ever going to get another contraction to push the rest of her out. But sure enough, it did and she slid out rather painlessly and I was back to being a one-headed freak.

It took several minutes to figure out what she was (sex-wise, we knew she was human) as the umbilical cord made it difficult to get her to me. I was still on all fours so she had to be passed through my legs, under my body and then I managed to turn her over to see she was a girl! It was nice being the first one to know this - Steve saw first with Zak and told me and I got to do it this time. And it was all over - quick, rather painless, drug-free and surprisingly highly amusing! I hadn't heard of that happening before although I'm sure it's pretty common. But it was a great birth - the sucky part was getting the local for the stitches I needed but even then, I put my birth skills to good use again while this time focusing on my new baby girl which is the best kind of distraction ever!

I know second babies are meant to be easier, but I still thought it'd be a lot harder work. I kind of feel like I cheated or something!