Let's start off with some really great news, although all of this post will be really lovely stuff that has happened to us lately. So the reason we haven't gotten round to writing on here lately is that we are both just.so.busy!! But busy in a really great way - we have both found jobs that we are absolutely loving, and as they are both full time, our evenings and days off have become chance to catch up, eat dinner at a normal hour, walk Willow together, and do all of those things that normal married couples do in the evenings and at weekends (although not always at weekends as S works in retail!). We used to find to blog either when I went to work the night shift and S would write, or during the day I would write as she was at work. No complaints here though, although I do want to continue to find time to write, as I love to be able to look back over our blog and remember the highs and lows of life. It is just SO lovely to feel 'normal' for a change (as far as work goes anyway!). So here is a quick round-up of how we have spent the past few weeks, each one of these I have meaning to write a separate post about, so here goes...
Birmingham - enjoying our home city in our favourite light
At sunset, that is! On November 23rd we had a joint day off, so planned to spend the day exploring a part of our city we have been meaning to go and revisit for a while. Starting the day off with an amazing brunch date at an independent coffee shop (my favourite!) we then navigated the very crowded, tourist-packed (grr) streets (inside knowledge is definitely handy in knowing where the 'other' routes are!) until we reached the new Library of Birmingham. As part of the city's regeneration scheme, £189million was spent in building a new home for the library, that now houses one million books. It has nine floors, and can accommodate 3000 people at once. Furthermore, it was built to represent Birmingham's heritage, the outside is clad with black steel rings to represent the strong industrial background, and silver rings representing the famous jewellery quarter. At the top is a roof garden, with amazing views of the city, and a natural space for the growing of fruits and vegetables, you can help yourself to ripe raspberries and blueberries in summer! We both have a huge appreciation for the beauty of sunsets, so managed to time being on the roof, after exploring the amazing library for a while and finding great study opportunities for L, to coincide with the sun setting over our home city. It was a joy and privilege to witness such a beautiful sight before our eyes, and we stayed for a while, just thinking "wow'! As the sun continued to make it's journey south we headed outside and on to the Birmingham Wheel, which overlooks the Christmas German Market. Snuggled in to one of the pods, we were very lucky to watch the sun complete it's setting over the horizon. From there we wandered back in to the city centre, again avoiding the packed German market, and bought a few more Christmas decorations, because you can never have too many!
|Panoramic view of Birmingham from the Library|
|Watching the sun set from the Wheel|
Surprise Surprise - Malta!
A random fact is that both of us have mums who are twins! My (L) Mum and her twin sister celebrated their 50th birthday on 28th November. My aunty lives in Malta, and Mum visits her very often, probably due to the fact my parents have a place out there, and the twins are incredibly close so want to spend as much time as possible together. So we all knew they would spend their birthday in Malta, together. Back in March my Dad was booking the flights for him and Mum, for November, and had an idea for their birthday - that all 5 of their children, plus my Aunty's two grandchildren, would secretly fly out to Malta on their birthday, and surprise them! We all thought it was a great idea, and the flights were booked. Cue the next 7 months of secret facebook conversations, meals out where we found a reason not to invite Mum, and endless phone calls or texts. But the result was amazing - on the 28th November, eight adults and two 4-year-olds boarded the 06.45am plane from Manchester to Malta, and arrived at 12.30. Dad had arranged for the twins to go out for cake and coffee with their Maltese friend, giving the excuse he wanted to decorate the flat. We did indeed decorate, with banners, balloons and hangers. My cousin had brought 20 cupcakes all the way from the UK, and we had ordered a traditional almond cake from a Maltese bakery, collected the day before by my dad, and hidden. When they arrived home, to be greeted by the two little ones, and then all of us - wow, what a surprise! They cried. lots. They hugged us. lots. Then sat down to get over the shock! We had all joked we hoped it was a nice surprise, and we weren't ruining a day they had planned, but their reaction said it all. Later that evening, we spent the night in a bar hired out just for us, with lots of food, drink, and laughter!
|The lovely twins, holding a pear because they're a pair!|
|My wife and my Mum, I love the emotion in this picture.|
The two women in my heart <3
We spent 5 days altogether, split between two apartments in the same block. We spent the days wandering round in the sunshine and then getting soaked as it tipped it down on us (Maltese winters = RAIN!), we visited the beautiful silent city of Mdina, got the bus to Valletta to walk round and saw all of the Christmas lights, saw the amazing cliffs of Dingly, and spent a long time wandering by the sea in Sliema. My favourite part of all was visiting Rabat, which was the only bit we hadn't seen before, more specifically St Paul's Cathedral - underground holds a collection of world war II shelters, and further underground, the catacombs of St Paul and St Agatha. Us and one cousin of mine were a bit awe-struck at the tiny size of the bomb shelters, and spent a while just reflecting, and quietly talking about how it must have been to be down there for days on end.
|Walking down the steep steps to the bomb shelters|
Our mums had a wonderful birthday surrounded by their family, we had some great meals out and some evenings in with takeaways and wine! It was lovely to see them so happy, and to see their fifth decade in with a huge celebration. And we are very lucky to have a family who love and support us, and who we love spending time with (even the four year olds, in small doses!)
Home Birth Team
My employment for the new home birth team has begun. My first day was actually whilst I was in Malta (oops!), but I joined the rest of the team on my return. Home birth has incredible benefits for both mums and babies. Far from being the messy, dangerous event that many imagine it to be, home birth in the absence of risk factors means that women are being cared for by experts in normal childbirth - midwives, in the place that is most familiar to them, and thus helps them to relax and labour well - home. Therefore you are more likely to achieve a normal birth, request less pain relief, lose less blood, not need a Cesarean delivery, breastfeed your baby for longer, and come out of it feeling happier, more satisfied, proud of yourself, and be less likely to develop postnatal depression. Yet despite all of this, the homebirth rate for the UK is only 3.2% of ALL births, in Birmingham is 1.0% and in my area, 0.3%. So a new team has been set up, headed by a consultant midwife, of 6 midwives who are passionate about home birth. We will deliver full care in pregnancy, be on call for birth, and see women and their babies for up to 4 weeks afterwards. The proper launch is at the end of January (watch out for us on the BBC again, we have even got Woman's Hour on Radio4 lined up!), but in the meantime we are updating skills in the areas we feel we need to, talking to women about our team, and educating other professionals on the benefits and realities of birthing at home. We are talking huge culture shift here, massive. But what can I say - I like a challenge!
And now there is only 16 days until Christmas, and we are yet to buy a Christmas present, not like us at all, but time seems to be running away from us! And only 22 days of this year. This wonderful amazing year that saw me marry the girl of my dreams. I think I'm going to be very sad to say goodbye to it! We have yet more lovely things planned in the next few weeks, so will endeavour to get them all written down here a little more speedily!