Third Trimester …on the home straight

So here I am, 9 weeks to my due date with what is to be my last pregnancy, my last labour, my final child.

Having been here (third trimester) before on two occasions I am not particularly welcoming the next few weeks as the heartburn increases, the weird night time leg cramps and twitches increase and general all round uncomfortableness when standing/sitting/lying down occurs. Walking is already becoming waddling and I have to explain to people on a daily basis that I am not close to my due date despite having a massive bump. Hubby says it is like lying in bed next to a massive hot water bottle which is wedged in surrounded by pillows (one either side for bump and back and one between my knees). 

I have found this last couple of weeks really tough as I am anaemic and absolutely knackered from looking after my 5 year old and 2 year old, trying to keep the house from looking like we have been burgled all while my body is screaming at me to take naps. Hubby has been working away from home which has made things harder.

First pregnancy was full of excitement, anticipation and nerves about the unknown – but there was time to relax when needed. I look back in a haze of envy at that time when I could take time to browse round shops looking at baby clothes, go for a relaxing swim when I wanted and attended pregnancy yoga all as and when I wished. I took out every book I could from the library to read up about pregnancy, giving birth and beyond. And sleep….oh how I slept! Those lovely wee uninterrupted naps any time I needed to feel refreshed.

Pregnancy two – there was not as much time to stop and think about being pregnant, no books to pour over and no time to nap as I had to look after the first who had by then dropped his daily nap. A LOT more tiring but nothing compared to third time round. 

Pregnancy three – for the last few months, most days I have forgotten I am pregnant at all – I am mainly reminded through the amount of  additional visits to the toilet I have to make. I’ve been so busy with the other two kids – and so tired – there is no time for yoga, swimming or naps. No me time. Sleep is something I fantasise about on a daily basis and jump into bed at the first offer of a nap when hubby is around to help with kids. 

Sometimes I am counting down the hours to their bedtime as I know it will bring me closer to my duvet time. 

No one can explain what tiredness does to you until you have experienced it. Sleep depravation is not a pretty sight. I have a friend who is a former member of the armed forces who told me the sleep depravation training given to them for combat situations was nothing compared to when she had her 2 kids. Force the opposition to spend 24hrs 7 days a week for weeks on end with some babies and toddlers cooped up with no sleep for months on end and I am sure there would have the Taliban and ISIS fighters ready to crack and spill the beans on anything you wanted to know. 

Pregnancy hormones and mood have taken a massive swing to the unpredictable so I am blubbing at the most random of things. Although have not quite reached the heady heights of  hubby finding me sobbing during first pregnancy because I couldn’t find my favourite Ocean Colour Scene album to play at that precise moment. His response – that I could have Googled the tracks and heard them on You Tube was I so desperate – had not even crossed my mind. Rational goes out the window, welcome in paranoia, tears and emotional meltdowns. 

The last few paragraphs paint a not so rosy picture of the last stage of pregnancy but the prize for going through the months of discomfort is so worth it when your baby arrives and you fall completely and utterly in love. Knowing this is my last pregnancy, my last baby, my last child – I am trying to hold on to and store memories of the flutters, kicks and movements inside of me as my little one gets comfy (even though sometimes I feel like it is trying to escape through my skin like the scene from the film Alien).  

It really is a special and amazing experience to grow a human being inside of you and I feel incredibly grateful to have managed to have done it three times. The baby clothes have been washed, the crib built and double pram been purchased. Just need to get some rest and prepare for the big day now! Goodbye full nights sleep – see you again hopefully sometime in 2016.

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The C Word

I am a blubbering mess. I have just finished watching the BBC drama The C Word and what a powerful piece of television it was. Programme making like that, everything by the wonderful David Attenborough and the existance of BBC6Music make the licence fee worthwhile.

Hubby often asks me why I watch things that will make me upset – knowing fine well that I well up at the Macmillan Cancer adverts on TV – but sometimes I think its good to get a good release of emotions, box of tissues at the ready. Remembering those low points that were pretty tough in my life – triggered by watching anything about cancer – give the good times so much more value and appreciation of everything so much stronger. It brings with it a clarity. You get caught up in the gerbil wheel of life, the run of the mill, the day to day – it is good to take time out and reflect, be thankful and tell those who have played a part in your life’s tapestry that they have been a positive part of your journey. Let those who haven’t been so positive fall by the wayside.

Cancer has played a large looming part in my life for the early part of my 20s and watching The C Word brought back many memories of my dad’s illness. Actress Sheridan Smith was fantastic and some very dramatic and emotive acting from all those involved to portray the roller-coaster of the cancer diagnosis and illness. Watching Lisa’s dad break down holding her after she lost her hair made me weep. I remember my own dad starting to lose his hair and him appearing back from the hospital one day with a wig in a box (the “rat in the box”) which then lay unused and was later returned after his death.

Being a mum I couldn’t bear the thought of having to face going through that with one of my own children after losing my dad to this horrible disease. The scene also made me think of my own Gran and how I held her as she wailed “it should have been me, I am meant to go first” , sobbing, after my dad died aged 52. No parent wants to watch their child suffer like that.

But what an amazing legacy Lisa Lynch has left behind – a wonderul blog of honest writing and a fantastic book for those suffering from cancer. Thoughts go to all those experiencing this horrible fucking disease and hope you beat it. Miss you dad x

Your The Size of a House!

I am 24 weeks pregnant with my third baby. With my first pregnancy I was in my size 12 skinny jeans up to 5 1/2 months and (I now realise was a luxury) pre child was able to go and do nice pregnancy friendly exercise classes whenever I liked – swimming and yoga a few times a week (sighs enviously). 

Being quite tall at 5′ 8 I often stand out in a crowd but in my last trimester people would openly make comments about the size of my bump which would drive me insane. “Are you sure it’s not triplets!” they would guffaw. No. I’ve have my scans. It’s not triplets. And it being my first pregnancy I was already anxious about the birth – but every day having people telling you your massive – does start to freak you out worrying about how you will get the baby out.

I wasn’t carrying excessive weight elsewhere – from behind you couldn’t tell I was pregnant  – unless you saw me walking with a waddle. 

It is strange how people have the right to pass comment on your physical condition like that – they just can’t help themselves. 

I can only think it’s like when someone has a massive spot on the end of their nose and in your mind your thinking ‘don’t look at the spot!’ and then say to them “wow that’s a huge zit you have on your beak there!” and feel it’s socially okay to say that without offending them. 

Because I don’t believe these people who pass comment are trying to be offensive, they just don’t realise that it is. 

My first baby was 9lbs 14oz (your eyes are watering and you are saying ouch just reading those numbers) – a natural birth with only gas and air. So yes, a big baby. 

Pregnancy 2 I managed to stay fit as could swim in my lunch hour at work but despite that my bump was large by 6 months and again, regularly, people would feel it was appropriate to pass comment. 

I had a bad birth trauma with baby 1 so already had anxiety about giving birth and the baby being even bigger – so to then have people telling you on a daily basis your massive and the baby is going to be huge – this did wonders for my mental health and worrying as you can imagine.

Baby 2 was 9lbs 8 and a half – another big baby – but no birth trauma this time thank goodness. 

So here we are at pregnancy 3. I didn’t go back to work after baby 2, so no lunchtime swims, and my family set up means I don’t have as much freedom to go to the pool or yoga classes as I would like. My body is pretty stretched out and muscle tone not as good as it could be…I also had a miscarriage at 3mths last year so the creeping baby weight was never lost moving into this pregnancy. So was a stone heavier starting this pregnancy than with baby 2.

Still in size 12 jeans at 5 1/2 months this time round!?  I had to get the maternity wear out whilst still first trimester but was still in size 12 mat trousers until 4 weeks ago so now comfortably a size 14. 

The comments about my bump size are starting earlier too, which is already getting me peeved as I think I have months more to endure and it is only going to get worse.

No I am not having twins. And yes, I do know (after having 2 9lb plus babies) that the baby will be big). I don’t need you to keep telling me thanks.

So please, the next time you feel like passing comment on a bump stop yourself. Sensitive, hormonal, emotional, pregnant lady might not just take it as well as you expect but will pick out your most obvious physical foible and throw it back at you. 

Turning Loss Into a Positive

It’s 14 years since my dad died. He passed away at home 10 months after being diagnosed with cancer. He was misdiagnosed as having IBS for over a year before that. By the time the doctors found out it was too late. I was  20 and midway through a degree. I was devastated and crippled by the shock and grief. I was in a bad place mentally and physically for around 2 years.

I felt angry at the doctor who misdiagnosed him for years – a natural part of the stages of grief. Angry for a long time about lots of things 

…but eventually I let go of the angry emotion and was able to start a process which helped me turn my life from a negative to a positive. 

This is the first year I have not thought about my dad and his death every day on the lead up to the anniversary of his death. Some say time heals. I don’t think it heals, you just eventually learn to live with the grief. Your life (eventually) moves on along its own journey. Whether allow yourself to sink or swim is your own personal battle.

I still shed tears. And often when I hear a solo pianist playing it makes me cry, as memories flood back of my dad practising on his baby grand piano at home every Saturday and Sunday morning for my whole life with him.

The loss of losing my dad before I had even turned 21 has brought moments of sadness to many wonderful events in my life I have experienced – my graduations, my degree exhibition, my engagement, the birth of my two children and my first published articles as a journalist (he was a musician and writer) to name a few.

Beyond the joy of these fantastic experiences in my life, I always wish he had been there to share it with, to be there by my mums side -looking on feeling proud of me and sharing in the joy.

I have a tear in my eye at every wedding I go to when the father walks the daughter down the aisle and when he gives his speech as I think of my own dad and how it would have been to have him share that special day with me.

But I take something positive from having such a huge loss in my life at a young, pivotal age. 

It has left me with the knowledge that life is not a dress rehearsal. You must enjoy each day as if it is your last and really appreciate the smallest things that bring you joy – the vibrancy of each day, colours and sounds, laughter, the touch and love of family members, spending time with friends – the list is so endless of the things I feel grateful for every day.

I tell my children and hubby I love them countless times each day and show them in acts of love and kindness. I hold my babies close and savour every moment I have with them. Life is an incredible gift and should be treated as such and enjoyed. 

My dad had great plans for his retirement. He never made it that far. He was 52. 

I hope to pass on to my kids a get up and go attitude – don’t keep putting things off – that day might never come. Don’t let fear hold you back. Don’t rely on luck  – opportunities happen when you create situations for yourself and work at it. Believe in yourself and let your light shine. 

Carpe diem dad. Your memory lives on. Xxx

Make Me Up Before You Go-Go

benefit  Thank God for the invention of make up. I am not a mum at the school gates in the morning who always has a full face of slap on (if I have managed to remember to brush my hair by the afternoon it has been a good day), but a bit of mascara and lippy can make me feel human again.

Let’s face it – even getting those two cosmetic items on when you are pre-school/nursery run can be a luxury some days. After trying loads of products over the years I always go back to Nivea Soft Lotion for keeping my face moisturised  in all weathers and Clarins Beauty Flash Balm which always makes my skin look glowing event when I have woken up looking like I have slept, then been dragged through a hedge. I have tried more expensive moisturisers which promised the world in a jar and were a total waste of money.

I love Benefit for make up treats like High Beam which give a bit of highlight to cheekbones and Bad Gal Lash to make my peepers look awake, even on a few hours sleep. There may be some red-eye on the eye balls but at least the lashes look good.

Origins Night A Mins is the best hydrating night cream I have used but beware that hubby does not try and eat your face during the night thinking you are a chocolate orange as this is kind of what it smells like.

Treat your-self to a bit of luxury with some nice cosmetic items now and again – you deserve it. Just keep them out of reach of the kids – my 2 year old has managed to find my make up bag on several occasions (despite me trying to hide it)….goodbye lovely benefit lipstick it was fun while it lasted.

Hope After Post Birth Trauma

So almost 5 years after I almost bled to death after giving birth to my first child I have finally received a copy of my hospital notes. I have read every page and Googled the medical terms I do not understand… such as tachycardia and hypotensive. It has been an emotional experience reliving that day through the notes of the medical staff who were there. It’s hard not to cry when I discovered that I had 2000ml blood loss and four pints of blood transfused. I have no medical background so Googled the amounts lost and gained –  and then cried at the severity of what I experienced and how close I came to death and the reality of my situation back then.

But I will not dwell on the stack of paper I have received. It has been good for me to have terms, facts and figures to fill in the patches of that day where I was too out of it to know what happened and too traumatised in the days, weeks and months after it to want to think about the specifics of what happened – which was very difficult as it was ever present in my mind.

For many mums who suffer a birth trauma, the prospect of having a similar experience stops them from having any more children. I was very close to stopping at one baby. In the 6 months post birth I said I would never have another baby. The experience left me with a severe anxiety – a routine visit to my GP would often have me in tears and I had no trust for the medical profession. I think I was justified in feeling this way – my midwife did not pick up on a massive hemorrhage despite my other half raising with staff on a number of occasions during the 2 hours post birth that the room looked like the worst blood-bath horror film he had ever seen. I have read in my notes the midwife had put in my notes the “blood loss was minimal”. Google has informed me that 2000ml plus of blood loss is not “MINIMAL”.

My hospital notes have the midwife’s full name. I have just searched and found her on facebook, typed an angry message to her whilst in tears…and then deleted it.

After I passed out and went into shock the trauma team had to take me to surgery. Before I got wheeled out the room I came round and saw my other half holding the baby and thought “I am going to die and he will have to take the baby home alone”. Months later he told me he had exactly the same thought.

Someone in the operating room failed to hook up my blood transfusion properly during the op where they removed a 735ml blood clot from my uterus. First anyone knew about this was after the op was complete and they went to move me from the operating table and someone asked “Where is all this blood coming from” which had now covered the table under my back.

When I was able to move from my bed 2 days later and went for a shower and returned to the room the nurse said she didn’t recognise me as she thought I had deep burgandy coloured hair. It was back to my natural fair colour after I had stood in the shower washing someone else’s blood out my hair and watched the red-tinged water disappear down the plughole.

So after two quite big failures in my care, I can say that yes, I did find it very hard to trust anyone with my care.

I had a really rough two years – flashbacks, anxiety, panic attacks. I was diagnosed with PTS and feel grateful I did not have feelings of rejection towards my child – which is something a healthcare support worker told me can happen with birth trauma.

But being a mum was, and is, such an incredible experience and my wee boy was so wonderful that I wanted another baby.

Three years after my first baby, despite being completely terrified for the entire pregnancy, I gave birth to baby number 2. I almost wrote two letters to keep in my hospital bag for that day in case I didn’t come home alive. One for my other half and one for my 3 year old – telling them how much I loved them and how much they meant to me. And how every day I had spent with them were the best of my life. I had serious thoughts that there may be a chance I would die giving birth. 

But there was always that hope. 

And my second birth experience could not have been more different and I had another beautiful baby – this time a little girl. No bleed, no intervention, no operation, no 5 days post birth on a ward. I sobbed and kept asking “Am I okay?!” for minutes post birth and got to go home the next day. When I stepped out the hospital I felt like crying – not because of fear, anxiety or shock but because I felt elation and physically felt like a weight that had lasted for 3 years had been lifted from me.

It was cathartic and I am so glad I faced the fear. It has helped me move on and I have been able to enjoy the wonderful experience of another little life which every day amazes and delights me.

I am now almost 5 years to that day when I had my birth trauma and am now 5 months pregnant with baby number 3. I am relaxed and looking forward to having my baby and actually feel excited. This is the complete opposite experience of my emotions during my last pregnancy.

It is hard not to let a birth trauma take over your life but there is hope. I feel lucky to be alive and glad that I faced the fear.

www.birthtraumaassociation.org.uk

 

 

Tiredness – a Perpetual State of Existence

Shattered. Gubbed. Exhausted. Match sticks for eyelids. Im on day 3 of little sleep with my little one on a lethal combo of top teeth teething and a snuffly , gloopy nose, cold.

Tiredness is used as a form of torture in war. A friend of mine who was in the forces told me having months of sleepless nights with two kids under 3 was worse than anything she endured in army sleep deprivation training.

My first baby didn’t sleep through the night until he was  6 months old. We were living away from friends and family and he was feeding every few hours for months. The exhaustion was horrendous and had me on the verge of tears regularly.

One all nighter breastfeeding-a-thon saw me watching back to back Sopranos while hallucinating moving flowers swayed in the corner of the room. Facebook became my nocturnal addiction and friend as I found other mum friends to chat to who were also up in the wee hours.

No one tells you about the tiredness before you have kids. Or maybe they do and you don’t remember as you flippantly guffaw to yourself  … Ha! Tiredness bring it on – I have been to Glastonbury and partied non stop for a week. I have had years of partying to get me ready for this moment! I laugh in the face of tiredness! This will be a breeze!

And then the reality comes.

Tired becomes a perpetual state of existence. You start to daydream about being able to have more than 4 hours sleep at a time…and if you do have a night of more than 4 hours you wake up feeling like you could run a marathon. Thinking about how amazing your bed is becomes an obsession….pillows, duvet, how I love thee.

And then there are the mums you meet at rhyme time or baby massage, or whatever other class you have had to drag your bleary eyed self along to who ask you “Is he sleeping through the night?”

I ramble on for a few minutes about how knackered I am and see them looking back pityingly before I ask “what about you?” ..they reply nonchalantly – with a lighthearted tone, basking in the glow of one that is sleeping well – “oh, little Johnny has been sleeping 12 hours a night from birth, we practically have to wake him up every morning!”

How I despised these people  with their lack of red-eye and fresh faced early morning  happiness.

When pregnant with baby 2 I was plagued with thoughts of the exhaustion. How would I cope going back to that again…with a toddler to look after. No chance of grabbing a nap when they sleep whenever that may be.

And then it happened….

From 3 weeks old my little one slept for around 8 hours a night for the first 4 months. I had become one of these smug mums whose child slept. How the bliss of sleep washed over me. I felt it was ying and yang at play and finally things were levelling out for the months of sleeplessness with bambino 1.

But here we are full circle back are during the sleepless nights. But holding onto that small soft warm bundle of cuteness as she snuggles in and clutches her tiny hand around my finger I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The amazing moments of joy and togetherness you feel with their wonderful wee souls when they smile back at you make it all worth it. Cuddling them (when they finally do nod off) asleep on your chest you feel them breathing in and out, you feel lucky to have them and feel grateful. Sleep or no sleep. It is worth it all.

Healthy eating starts now…or tomorrow (once we have eaten all the chocolate)

The start of a New Year brings resolutions and the feeling of gluttony that happens over the festive period when there is food, food and more food. After stopping BF my little one in December and weaning her at 6 months I have started to notice my weight creep up so I am aiming to drop a dress size and get back (comfortably) into my pre pregnancy clothes. I was almost there in October – so near yet so far.

Hubby is also keen to “stop eating crap” for the next couple of months so we are setting a challenge to cut out junk from our diet and exercise more. All seems simple in theory but being the mother of two little ones it can be hard to find the time to get out and exercise and I think I may genuinely be a chocoholic. I have to confess to dipping into my three-year-old’s Christmas chocolate over the last week. However I definitely want to get rid of my muffin top and bode a final farewell to the baby weight.

Hubby and I are unfortunately rubbish at keeping each other on the eating straight and narrow…

Hubby: “I can’t be bothered cooking can you? And it’s Friday. Lets get a takeaway.”

Me (thinking to myself must be good. must be good. lets get healthy food, healthy, healthy…”yeah let’s get a pizza and chips”

or yesterday’s conversation…

Me: “we are going to be healthy eating let’s just chuck out all the Christmas chocolate and the cakes in the freezer that we didn’t use so we are not tempted”.

Hubby: “or we could just eat them all and then they would be gone. No point in wasting them.”

me (looking meaningfully at the chocolate cheesecake box making my eyes go slightly blurry so I can’t make out the calories on the corner but I know they are in red…eek!) : “Mmm. Okay.”

picture the scene …me and hubby then eating a whole chocolate cheesecake between us, because it needs to be finished off. With double cream. Because that needed finishing as well, obviously.

Wish me luck! I am determined to be positive about this. I can do it!

(but please don’t send me daily pics of cakes this is my food porn)

Best laid plans…

The idea was to start this blog and do regular updates on my pregnancy and looking after a toddler…As many other working mums – and mothers of young kids will testify, there is little free time available and I was so knackered during pregnancy that any free time was spent sleeping (when leg cramps/heart bump wriggling would allow).

So here I am months down the line and my bump is now 4 1/2 months bundle of bouncing giggling joy who has just mastered the commando roll. and I’m just getting back to the blog…