Welcome to the world Cora Ashley Allen

Cora Ashley Allen
Daughter of Craig and Tarnya Allen
Born on the 29th of September 2010
At the Whittington Hospital
Weighing 9lb

Both Australians, Craig and Tarnya have been in the UK for ten years. “We’ve had the most incredible adventures living here – we’ve been backpacking through Russia and hot air ballooning over the Nile at sunrise. One year we visited thirteen different countries. We wanted to see as much as we could before starting a family.”

Eventually, the Highgate couple decided that they were ready to embark on a different kind of adventure. “We’d set the date of New Year’s Eve 2009 to start trying for a baby. We thought it would take some time to conceive, but on the 7th of January the little blue line appeared! Craig couldn’t quite grasp the concept at first – partly because I delivered the exciting news at 4am, and partly because we hadn’t expected it to happen so quickly. But later that day, after a strong coffee, he was bouncing off the walls.”

Tarnya and Craig forced themselves to wait until their twelve week scan, before sharing their news with friends and family. “It seemed like an eternity. We broke the news to our parents by sending them a book called ‘The Essential Grandparent’s Manual’ and putting a copy of the scan inside the front cover. It was a huge surprise to them – they’d been waiting for a grandchild for ten years and had probably given up hope. Grandma went into a knitting frenzy!”

Although Tarnya was lucky enough not to suffer from morning sickness, as the pregnancy wore on she found it hard-going. “We always hear about pregnant women glowing with happiness but that wasn’t my experience. I seemed to pick up every virus around, from travelling on the tube, and I had a nasty chest infection at one stage. I also suffered from restless leg syndrome which caused insomnia. Towards the end of my pregnancy I slept on the couch because it was more comfortable than my own bed. Some nights I had as little as an hour’s sleep – this made it very difficult to function at work, but, on the positive side, by the time Cora was born I was already accustomed to surviving on very little sleep!”

A scan in the week before Tarnya’s due date suggested that she was carrying a 10lb baby, and her obstetrician recommended a caesarean. “We decided that we would rather have a calm elective c-section than risk an emergency one.”

And it seems that this was the right decision for Tarnya. “Cora’s birth was a calm and wonderful experience. We met all of the theatre staff before we were wheeled into surgery, which put me at ease. The most tense moment was when I was leaning over the bed, while the anaesthetist put the epidural in my spine and said ‘whatever you do, don’t move!’.”

Ten minutes later, Cora was born. New father, Craig, held her while doctors finished the surgery on Tarnya. “It felt a bit like someone doing the washing up in my stomach!  Afterwards our midwife, Francis, brought me the best toast and I tea I’ve ever had. It was a really positive experience for me and I can safely say that a c-section is nothing to be afraid of.”

Although Tarnya was well prepared for the arrival of her daughter, she still found those first few weeks a little daunting. “Looking back, I wish there had been a lecture that would have given me all the information I needed at once. Instead, I had to read numerous books and attend different classes to work out what to do with a new-born baby.”

Tarnya and Craig found bath time particularly tricky. “No matter how many books you read, nothing prepares you for trying to give your baby a bath for the first time. I’d rehearsed it with a teddy bear weeks before Cora was born, but having a little squirming baby in my arms was totally different. Our yoga teacher, Anna, had taught us to relax and trust our instincts, which was great advice for our first week at home. We found that getting in the bath with Cora was the easiest option – and we didn’t learn that in a book!”

Having found their feet, Tarnya and Craig have confidence in their own, laid-back, form of parenting. “Cora is a very happy and settled little baby and I think it’s because we’re quite relaxed. Before she arrived, I’d read every baby book ever written and I was determined to get her into a routine from the beginning. But I’ve learned that babies don’t always fit into pre-determined structures. In the end, the best thing for Cora was to throw routines out of the window and let her develop in her own way. Craig and I have learned to relax and take each day as it comes, and it’s been a fabulous experience – in spite of the sleep deprivation!”

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