Birth Beyond Trauma: Baby Number Two

Now we’ve settled (a little) into new family life, we would officially like to introduce the latest (and possibly last) edition to our family, Henry Robert Francis. Born a healthy and round 8lbs at 14:12 on Monday 16th December, we have been soaking up every little moment as a family of four this holidays and for almost the last two months but I feel now is the time to update you all on the last leg of my pregnancy and my positive birth experience second time around.

Refacing any trauma can be a harrowing experience no matter what that trauma was. For most, it’s unlikely you’ll be faced with the exact same situation again, it may have been a one-off event that caused it but can cause all kinds of after-effects like PTSD, depression or panic attacks. Birth trauma is very different and can be a recurring nightmare for many women. You have to consciously make the decision to revisit events and whether you’ve had a traumatic birth through treatment, events or overall experience, it can seem impossible to even imagine going through it all again. If you are struggling to decide to have another baby, remember you can reach out to other mums or speak to your local hospital to revisit your previous birth notes – this can really help you understand why certain events unfolded. I chose to do this after experiencing PTSD and anxiety and it honestly made a massive difference. So let’s take a step back and look at how I made the journey this time round for baby number two.

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Four days before Henry was born.

As most of you who have been following us for a while will know, my birth story with our firstborn Rory was a traumatic one. 36 hours of labour and an emergency cesarean left us shocked, broken and took me several gruelling months to recover – both physically and emotionally. After that, I was almost adamant I’d never have another child but as time passed, I dreamt of growing our family and giving Rory the gift of a sibling. Before I knew it, I was pregnant and thrust into the carnival hall of mirrors forced to face my fears after neatly tucking them away in a box for a while. We didn’t exactly plan on having Henry but it was on our minds and a second child was something we were actively discussing and, apparently, not exactly actively trying to avoid. Immediately, after finding out we were expecting, I instantly pushed the idea of birth out of my head and gained the ‘it will just happen’ attitude, knowing deep down I would have to face it at some point.

The Preparation

That point came and smacked me in the face after our 12 weeks scan and check-up. After being asked about our previous birth, we were happily referred to the consultant to discuss my birthing options for this time around. Feeling privileged to have any at all, I was still deeply unsettled at the thought of birth. During the appointment, we went through my options fairly briefly: I could either attempt a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) or I could go for an elective cesarean. I was always leaning towards the latter but again, it was nice to know I’d be supported in whatever I chose. Following on from this, I was scheduled an appointment at 36 weeks where I was given another opportunity to decide but this decision had to be the final one. From this appointment I would be offered dates for cesarean, dates for pre-op medication and any other bloods/check-ups required pre-surgery so everything would be set in (almost) stone. This is definitely the point where you can be scared out of making your choice. The realities of surgery are nothing to be sniffed at and a can be rather severe – obviously based on several external factors and your health history. I’m quite fortunate to have a fairly straight forwards health history and with not being able to imagine facing another difficult labour, I took on board the realities of surgery and chose an elective cesarean.

Time flew by and things were all going swimmingly until at my 36-week consultant’s appointment; I had started measuring MUCH larger than I should have. For those non-children folk, for every week pregnant you are you should measure on average around 1cm. So here, I should have been 36cm but I was measuring a whopping 42! They sent me for a scan the following day to investigate and luckily, little Henry was doing fine with no signs of any issues but the scan did show was carrying excess fluid. This sent me into mild panic as Dr. Google was the only one who seemed to be able to provide any form of literature on the subject. Excess fluid in pregnancy can be a sign of conditions like diabetes in pregnancy or can be a result of a series of birth defects; for me, the most worrying side effect was that it can cause early labour. All panic aside, the hospital were good and were able to offer me a glucose test along with a test for any infection to help cross off the list of potential causes and I was given the all-clear for both. This just left a gaping hole brimming with questions that no one seemed to have the answers for… and then there was the biggest question up for debate: When could my section be scheduled for?

Now, we did have a few issues from here regarding dates and getting booked in. It’s typical for straight forwards pregnancies, elective c-sections are carried out during the 39th week. It’s only in special or emergency circumstances that a baby would be delivered before this (things like twins, excess fluid with infection, cholestasis, etc), so at our 36-week appointment, we were given 2 choices: Wednesday 18th or Thursday 19th December. We chose 18th with the view of being home and settled to enjoy Christmas as a family of four. HOWEVER, we ended up in a consultant’s office very late afternoon on Friday 6th debating that this excess fluid malarkey (‘polyhydramnios‘ for those medically inclined) was obviously causing some concern; I was booked in for a section due to previous birth trauma so naturally, the chances of going into spontaneous labour became increasingly terrifying. It actually turned out our appointment had been moved without notice to the 19th which then sent me into a downward spiral of panic – a whole 24 hours extra? No thank you! I begged and begged and luckily one spot remained for Monday 16th December, third in line. I took a deep breath and accepted it. The 10-day countdown was on; On Friday 13th I went to my pre-op appointment, had my iron levels checked, was given my prescription for my anti-sickness and antacid medication and was sent on my way with instructions to arrive at 7:30am Monday morning ready for the big day.

BIRTHDAY SNUGGLES & THE LAST DATE.

We did very mundane things that weekend. Kyle & I went out for a date night (fajitas and enchiladas FTW), we took Rory out to the park and we tried our best to relax. It was here that it dawned on me quite a lot that weekend that our lives were about to change forever. I lay awake wondering if Rory really knew what a baby was, how much I would miss it being just me and him sometimes and how I felt guilty that we were bringing another person into the world and Rory wouldn’t be the only one at the center of our worlds anymore. In case you were wondering, ‘Mom Guilt’ is by far one of the worse, most backward and heart-breaking feelings a mother can feel. It can strike when you least expect, when you’re trying to do a good thing, usually what you believe is best. We always wanted a bigger family, for Rory to have a sibling(s) and to grow up never being alone so this time was going to come, I just never thought about how I would feel when it did. And when I packed our hospital bags for the thousandth time, my nerves began to build. We were about to take the leap and, in all honesty, I was never going to be any readier than I was right now.

The Birth

It was pitch black out and I had my brave suit on. I was ready to have this baby and nothing and no one was going to move me out of this groove. I had practiced my deep breathing for when the nerves would inevitably kick in, I’d packed enough changes of clothes for me and our wee boy for a week (or two!) and I hadn’t eaten anything since 9pm the night before and I was ravenous. The car journey flew by and before I knew it I was on the delivery ward. I was given a modest, oversized gown and some super sexy stockings to change into before lying down to be hooked up to monitors and briefed – the day had only really just begun.

We had little to no idea when we arrived at 7:30 that we would be waiting for 6+ hours before we would meet our little Henry. We were unfortunately moved out of our room as the next mama arrived that morning. She was scheduled in before us and there was another ahead of her too so naturally, we fell to the end of the queue and took a perch in the waiting room with over spilled bags and a heart-racing faster than the speed of sound. It was in this room I started to lose my sanity. I tried to get some sleep propped up against Kyle’s arm listening to the monotonous TV ads running from the promo TV but it just wasn’t happening and then we were told there was an emergency and we’d be pushed along another slot. I cried (and got over it within the hour) as we spent our last hours taking over the waiting room, holding meetings with our anaesthetist, signing forms and going over our baby name choices; the time quite quickly slipped away and our time had come.

THE SIX HOUR WAIT…

It was 13:40 and we were called to a delivery room for surgery prep. I took the deepest breath as I stood there in nothing but an ill-fitted gown and my favourite slippers, feeling our baby wriggle for the last time. Kyle was handed his scrubs and I was escorted into theatre by the cheeriest anaesthetist assistant; he made me feel so relaxed. As I arrived at the theatre, I was quickly popped onto the bed, told to arch my back and sprayed with THE coldest antibacterial spray ready for my spinal. Again, it all happened so fast and before I knew it Kyle had joined us and my legs started to feel numb. I was gently laid on my back as the feeling rose into my chest as the busy theatre team prepped for Henry’s arrival. My wonderful midwives were ready, the anaesthetists were by my head controlling my drips and helping me choose my music – we went for female powerhouse Pink after my idea for Christmas music was denied as we only had somebody’s iPod. My surgeons arrived and I was ready.  An all-female duo came in an introduced themselves – this made me feel in very good hands and I had a small ‘YES, this girl can!’ moment -there was no turning back now.

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Terrified & Impatient.

As the surgery began the body shakes arrived and nausea kicked in. This is a horrible consequence of a drop-in blood pressure but luckily this was rectified immediately and I was able to continue being distracted by mindlessly waffling on about a Pink concert I went to last June (PS it was absolutely insane). Within 15 minutes, the countdown was on – Henry was about to be born! Lifted into the air and born half asleep, he needed a warm rub-a-dub to welcome him earth-side. It took a few painstakingly long seconds for that first cry but it came and it was loud, he was here; it was 14:12 and he was a wonderfully round 8 pounds. We couldn’t wait to snuggle him straight away. In that moment, once again our lives had changed forever and we couldn’t have been happier. In less than an hour, I was in and out of the theatre munching toast in recovery.
It was everything I had hoped for, spent countless sleepless nights wishing for and a fair few hours crying for – my calming birth experience had arrived and I was overwhelmed and overjoyed that I did it. I’d conquered the debilitating fear from Rory’s birth and birthed another cute and chubby little boy. I really do believe having a child is one of the most priceless gifts we can give ourselves, our parents and even our grandparents. Bringing someone new into the world to share our adventure with and create a perfectly imperfect life with, can be just magical. Although adding more babies can alter a family, it really can be one of life’s biggest achievements to be able to share a bit more of ourselves through an ever-expanding family.

HENRY ROBERT FRANCIS – 14:12 – 8LB

The Recovery

Well, it was no surprise that my recovery was a million times better after a planned than with an emergency c-section. My body was prepared, my mind was somewhat in the right place and I could plan and prep for what after-birth could be like (of course no one really knows but previous experience helps). My mental health really benefitted from knowing this and at times where I thought I’d be panicking, I found great comfort in being in control (as much as I could be) of the situation and whole birthing process.

The First Few Days.

Now, just to be super clear, I am in no way saying that this recovery was easy, nope, not one little bit. It was just as hard to be bedbound for 24 hours after, it was incredibly hard to stand/walk/shuffle when I was allowed to get up and YUP, going to the bathroom was pretty much non-existent for A WHOLE WEEK but we made it through one day at a time. I was still starving after almost 24 hours and having only consumed a slice of toast in recovery – I was ready to stuff my face and nothing was better than a good old fashioned Maccy’s! It was devoured in record time and we had a really good first night with two feeds, a fair few bum changes and lots of cuddles.

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Large Quater Pounder Meal, No Cheese, Extra Pickles, Fries, Cheese Dippers, and a Fanta. (Yes, that is a token orange).

We stayed in the hospital for two nights in total, leaving on Wednesday evening. This gave us a good bit of peace & quiet before we remembered that Christmas was now less than a week away and we had a toddler at home eagerly awaiting our return. *Cue blind panic* but not so fast! Turns out that pre-birth me had remembered to do all the shopping, present wrapping and festive organising so we didn’t have anything to do before the big day; I didn’t really need to panic at all. We quickly settled into new family life and the hectic period that is Christmas & New Year. After just two weeks, my physical recovery was remarkably better than before; I was walking all over town with ease but this led me into a dangerously false sense of security that I was, in fact, Wonder Woman reincarnated. Disclaimer: This was heartbreakingly FALSE.

Sparkly spandex aside, I still wasn’t anywhere near as superhuman as I felt. My sudden recovery was definitely masking the progress my scar should have been making in healing. It wasn’t bonding despite having been amply stitched and my running around was only making it worse. On New Year’s Eve, I had a stern word with myself and stopped pretending to be Wonder Woman and took myself off to the doctors where I was given antibiotics for infection and extra dressings to keep it dry and clean but this didn’t work. Over a week and a half later, I was still having issues with it and was referred to an out-of-hours clinic late on a Saturday night where I ended up with more antibiotics and now, follow up appointments every few days to check up on it. This was the biggest downer in my recovery and all my post-birth confidence slowly dribbled away. I was back wearing baggy oversized clothes to make sure nothing was rubbing or even touching my scar area, I was changing sticky dressing after sticky dressing which only aggravated my soft stretchy mum-tum and I’m pretty sure I cried enough tears to rehydrate a medium-sized dead plant. I ended up with Silvercel dressings to speed up the healing process which, thank the lord, worked a treat. Even though this still took a good few weeks more to heal, I was still enormously grateful and proud of how well I, in fact, all of us, was coping with it all.

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The Fitzpridding’s.

Our New Normal

For my body, I truly lucked in. As I was already still in my new ‘mom-bod’ before conceiving Henry, I grew back into my saggy, stretched skin in just a few weeks or so. Now, growing back into my ‘new skin’ took months last time. My ‘deflation’ period was a good 3-4 months and a painful few at that. This time round I definitely discovered a newfound respect for my body and all it has achieved. To have grown and birthed two babies, recovered from major life-changing surgery twice and still have enough gusto to repair and progress felt like a mini-miracle. My mental health surrounding my body isn’t the healthiest and I’ve always been conscious and critical of it but nonetheless I feel I’ve improved. There is no such thing as ‘snapping back’ for me and in reality, for millions of other women too; these are the ones who are regularly shamed for their stomachs, legs, boobs and every other part of their bodies when in fact we’re all different and there really is no ‘normal’. For me, it’s been a long hard journey into learning that it is ok to look different, it’s ok to be a new you and always remember that this version of you is a superhuman mother! My relationship with my body definitely has a long way to go but I most certainly am not actively looking to lose weight. My plan is just to make sure I’m healthy, happy and somewhat confident – not much to ask right?

MY POSTPARTUM BODY.

For the relationship between Kyle & me, I was terrified that another person in our relationship would cause a certain degree of separation between us but in all honesty, it’s only brought us closer. Turns out being vulnerable, and more aware of birth this time, can help you gain a deeper appreciation for the people you are and what you have created and now share. I always feel brand new things can sometimes put such strain on a relationship (moving house, getting a dog, having a baby – the usual life changes). It can create distance, stress and can put you on a different wavelength for a while but I do believe once you’ve experienced it once, you find your way and, in time, if you come to face it again you’ll have a new way of handling it. As Henry graced us with his presence, it amazed me that all of a sudden, we looked and felt like we knew what we were doing – just like putting on an old pair of shoes. And our little Rory took to big brotherhood like a total pro, wanting to share his toys and kiss Henry on the head from the moment they met. We’re a complete set and maybe, just maybe this might be it for us… but only maybe for now!

So there you have it, our birth beyond trauma something nearly three years ago I’d never had thought was possible. There’s no denying it’s taken all my mental and physical strength to bring Henry into the world but with a superb support system and surrounding myself with so much love, we’ve been able to bring another beautiful boy earth-side to join our crazy clan.

If you want to talk more about birth beyond trauma or about planned c-sections, please do get in touch. Where I obviously can’t give medical advice in any shape or form, I would be honoured to give my emotional support woman to woman!

Love to y’all, OCM .xo

Where I Drew The Line: Choosing My Health Over a Job

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It’s been 11 weeks and 6 days since I left my job and became unemployed.

Yes, I voluntarily quit my job and decided to put my mental and physical health first to be (excuse me for want of a better phrase) a ‘stay-at-home-mother’ (for now!).
So many people often laugh and belittle the title but it hasn’t been without complication and is definitely the hardest decision I’ve made to date, one I absolutely did not take lightly.

Mentally and emotionally, I was admitting complete defeat. Although not difficult for some, personally my previous job wasn’t the easiest to contend with – as with many, over-prescribed and under-appreciated, and despite putting up a fight, it didn’t take much to feel like a total failure 24/7 after many unhappy 10 hour days, 5 days a week.

Financially, feeling this unmotivated and under-appreciated came at the unforgivable cost of £1,200 a month in nursery fees, £50 a week in fuel and many a Great British Pound in forgotten lunch boxes and ‘run away from my desk at lunchtime to survive snacks’ – I’ve now left all that behind in addition to an entire salary… Another ridiculously hard parting for sure. As well as this, my departure prior to what’s known as the ‘qualifying week’ for maternity pay, has also left us rather short-changed.
So when did I decide to put myself above my job, money, and stability I hear you ask? In all honesty, it hit me like a train in slow motion for a few months then the fire started and I burnt out in the blink of an eye.

For months, it started as a series of small interferences with my day-to-day life: things like feeling overwhelmed, regularly crying on my way home from work, not enjoying anything outside of work at the fear of heading back the next day. This quite quickly snowballed after finding out I was pregnant in Easter earlier this year. Emotions running higher and baby brain swallowing me whole, I was tripping at every hurdle and it began to show it all aspects of my life, work being the hardest to go unnoticed. As the pressure mounted, I became a stressed-shell of my former self and found that I couldn’t stand up for myself at the fear of confrontation or worse, dismissal. It was all-consuming and I slowly lost my ability to concentrate, my confidence in decision making and imposter syndrome kicked in HARD. Recently, I read an article (forgive me, I can’t remember where) about how imposter syndrome is actually more about colleagues making you feel inferior and not accepted than you being bad at your job. It was a shocking eye-opener that, yes I could have been getting worse at my job through stress and anxiety but feeling inferior was, in fact, more a part of feeling inadequate. I was jumping through hoops, working away and for many weekends and extended days but it never ever felt like enough.

Now, here’s a bit of advice pregnant mama to pregnant mama – whatever you do, research your rights and make sure your employer follows the guidelines for pregnant women in the workplace. It can make a HUGE difference in how your role and job load is handled and a risk assessment is an absolute necessity, wherever you work. I felt at a disadvantage with this and only wish I’d been more outspoken at the time; this was an unignorable protruding factor on my ‘why I should quit’ list.

As we reached early May, heading towards my 9th week of pregnancy, the downward spiral only got more slippery. The dread of the job took over and I’d lost every ounce of gusto for my job and my home life; my entire life felt unbearable and with that, I sort medical help. Having previously had fairly negative interactions with the NHS and mental health, I was fortunately not ignored and was signed off work with ‘work-related stress’ for two weeks – even that felt like I was letting my job down. I didn’t quite know what to do with my days and regularly lay around feeling unmotivated and generally unwell; the weeks passed quickly and before I knew it I was back to the constant dread. On my return to work, my absence seemed like the elephant in the room. If it wasn’t for the lovely ladies who sat around me reassuring me with ‘are you ok’ and ‘if you need to talk, you know where I am’, I’m really not sure I would have survived the 6 weeks that followed.

As I slumped into my corner desk and tried to plow through the never-ending tasks that seemed to have festered in my absence, I’d never felt so behind or snowed under with jobs where deadlines had passed or were imminently due. With no assistant or colleague to share the load with, I started to crumble all over again. Nothing had changed and almost seemed like my time away had never happened. It was never really discussed beyond a short and sweet meeting where I agreed that I was fit for work again. In no time at all the tasks began piling up and it only got worse – it was then my overall capability was beginning to be questioned.

As I entered my yearly appraisal, I knew I was officially failing. I’d appeared to have stepped into a losing battle with little to no lifelines left to use. After raising many flags about my concerns, there was no mention of my increase in workload, my work quantity being constantly chosen over quality, me being signed off work with stress and certainly not a peep about how my role had changed since becoming pregnant. Needless to say, I was rung out and hung out to dry. My mind began to ponder whether I could survive 5 to 6 months more of this without a. being fired or b. miscarrying – it was at that exact moment, mid-meeting, that I had already made up my mind: to leave was my only option. I spent the following 2 weeks vigorously researching my maternity options and entitlement, spending almost every lunch breaks on the phone speaking to god knows how many people in the Government’s benefits department. Devastatingly falling short for statutory maternity pay, I luckily qualified for maternity allowance but this was going to leave me with an 8-week pay gap which we couldn’t really afford to do, but what choice did I have.

On Monday 24th June, I handed in my notice to an unshocked response. When asked why, my schpiel of ‘my health absolutely has to come first’ came pouring out – this was greeted with even less shock but the deal was done. Feeling oddly free but unnervingly cut off, I began my shut down almost instantly. I took on zero new tasks and wrapped up every piece outstanding in the 4 weeks that followed. I guess, for myself, I still wanted to prove that I could do the work at hand (when it came in reasonable and realistic quantities!). I left with my head held high and my mental and physical health just about intact. I regretted nothing and still don’t.

 

 

We didn’t know how we’d cope with one income but have picked up a few tips for how to save our pennies along the way – we’ve had to:

  • Cut down nursery days – the biggest saver! From 4 to 2 days with the help of Granny Day Care twice a week has been a godsent – plus the added bonus of spending more time with Rory at home has been priceless!
  • Condense our cars to having just one – in order to save the next wedge we condensed to paying for just one car, one tax & one insurance by handing my lease back to the garage and trading in Kyle’s for a bigger, more economical car (hello Kadjar with a humongous boot and space for us all – new baby included!)
  • Stop needlessly buying food (a biggie for us!) – plan, plan, plan! Impulse food buying is a wallet emptier for sure! Now we always check out which days/times supermarkets reduce their meats and have sometimes chosen to batch cook for lunches to help save a few more £££’s!

There is a definite moral to the story guys & gals, and that is never ever take your health for granted and whatever you do, do not hesitate to put yourself first, even if it seems impossible. You only have one you and driving yourself into the ground will not be doing anyone any favours.
It’s been the toughest and weirdest few months of my life so far and to think if I hadn’t have been pregnant I would have moved on to another job has made it a tricky one to swallow. I guess being unemployment has to be my title for now – I know it won’t always be like this and it won’t always be this tough! Just remember, you can never bloom the most beautiful flowers without a little bit of rain!

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Love to y’all, OCM! xx

“Please Provide Your Paycheck”

 

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I’ve dug this one out of the archive today – just a little something I wrote back in February. Turns out I write a lot that doesn’t make the cut; it usually becomes irrelevant pretty quickly and it very swiftly gets forgotten about. However, this blog may help someone somewhere feel a little less crappy for chronically worrying about money, jobs, more babies and a little bit of anything else…

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‘All you want is 2.4 kids and a white picket fence like a Disney movie and unfortunately, it’s just not real life‘ – as dear husband-to-be uttered those words for the millionth time, a part of me closed the door, slumped to the floor and wept. It wasn’t what he’s said but the realisation that we were having to choose between expanding our family and surviving each month… OH, AND THAT NOBODY TOLD ME THIS WOULD HAPPEN!

With procreation being a part of most lives (we sure as hell wouldn’t be here without it) it started to seem like a long time ago that women were expected to ‘retire’ once they’ve had a baby but sadly, looks like attitudes still aren’t up to speed and many ‘powers-that-be’ are not helping the cause. Many women have to stay at home rather than return to work due to crippling nursery fees and the question that always needs to be asked is: why are we (the royal ‘we’) not doing enough to help working mothers and families? Is it down to the individual mother, the family, the employer or the whole god-damn system? We over here strongly believe the latter.

Since I was young, I’ve always wanted two children; whenever anyone asks I always say ‘I have two eyes, two hands and two backseats’ – let’s face it, anything more and you’re looking at growing more limbs or changing your car as a minimum! Now nowhere, ever did anyone tell me we’d be sat around with a calculator, counting each and every penny concluding that any more expenditure would leave us nothing short of bankrupt. For us fourteen hundred squiddies a month for full-time nursery has been the true cost of a safe and loving environment; this has (just about) allowed us to bring home the bacon, but the saddest fact is, even now in 2019, choosing between a career and a family has never been so tough.

There has been a debate for some time about the environmental strain of having more mouths to feed, bathe and house but debating about the financial strain seems to be rifer than ever. In an article by The Guardian in 2014, three families from Sweden, the UK, and USA talked about their childcare costs and the cold hard truth of each. It quotes that in Sweden ‘you pay 3% of your gross salary but there’s a cap so you never have to pay more than 1,260 Swedish krona [currently £103] a month per child – and if you have more children, you’ll pay a maximum of 420 krona [£33] for the third child and nothing for the fourth'(1). This is 27% of the UK national average in 2018 where the average cost of a part-time nursery place for a child under two has soared by 7% in the past year to £122 a week, or more than £6,300 a year, according to the report by the Family and Childcare Trust (2). Although that percentage is disgustingly high, the UK is still more fortunate than the USA when it comes to maternity & paternity leave, where mothers are not entitled to paid maternity leave at all and might only get up to 12 weeks unpaid if they’re lucky. Of course, we are more than fortunate in most respects – we have maternity leave and I would receive statutory maternity leave as a minimum but the truth of the matter is, statutory still wouldn’t even cover our current outgoings… We have cars on lease, nursery bills, rent, utilities, etc. and like most, we love a yearly family holiday – nothing overtly fancy or excessive.

So, what happens for the Fitzpriddings’ now? Short term it means a painstakingly uncertain wait, where caution is our new activity and ‘we’re trying to save’ is our new catchphrase. We never feel hard done by, our beautiful boy has shown us love like we’ve never known but the subject of more children opens the door to a whole world of what-ifs and buts you never even realised existed. In short, there is no answer to these questions that allows us to remain in pocket and have a larger family within a reasonable amount of time. I keep telling myself that there is plenty of time for this to come around but I know, 2 years into sharing our lives with this little dinosaur firecracker, it will whizz by. (WOAH, little did we know just 2 months later we’d discover we were expecting!)

Now, MAMAS ASSEMBLE for our closing thoughts – if you are ever in any doubt about your rights as a woman, a mother or as an employee, have no fear, there are women out there fighting for all. Flexible working for is a battle that is being fought every day by one of my favourite wonder-women,  @motherpukkaAnna Whitehouse and pregnancy rights is being fought by another, @pregnantthenscrewedJoeli Brearley. Campaigning and raising awareness for women rights and the law on maternity policies alongside the benefits of flexible working for all, these super mamas are paving the way for modern-day working families. (This is no ad or partnership, just what I would consider sharing invaluable advice between friends!)

As always, I hope this blog helped you feel a little less alone, whatever step in life your taking, whether it’s your second child or your fifth – after all, if you’re anything like me, family is always the most important thing.

Love and all, OCM xo.

 

Sources:
(1) https://www.theguardian.com/money/2014/may/31/costs-childcare-britain-sweden-compare https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/childcare-costs-increase-inflation-rate-treading-water-parents-household-incomes-a8230431.html 
(2) https://www.familyandchildcaretrust.org/childcare-survey-2018

Forever Keeping Up with The Fitzpriddings!

A family of three

The Fitzpriddings

I always say this (and you know I do) but after hiding away for a little while, we are in fact still here and SURPRISE, we are multiplying! Yes, that’s right – we are going to become an awesome foursome – WOO!

It’s been a hectic first half of the year with sensational birthdays and holidays with a few beautiful surprises and nasty hiccups along the way but we’ve made it this far and will be here a lot more often starting very soon – more to come on that! To kick start it all, this August we’ll be looking back at our Rory’s second birthday and our first stay-away family holiday to Disneyland Paris along with looking at what it really took for me to be a working mum (and why I chose to walk away) and how we are going to be preparing for our baby number two this Christmas – YUP, we planned that one really well. Taking it all in our stride, this year will be faced with many new and very difficult challenges but we are determined to turn it around and make the best of it.

We hope you’ll stick around and join us as we wade (or waddle) through the rest of 2019 –  we look forward to the journey!

Love as always, OCM .xo

 

 

Greed or Guilt: Asking Too Much or Just Wishing For More?

Now, I’m not sure if this is a vent, a series of ‘but why’ or even a collection of deep thoughts but I’m attempting to make sense of what it means to have a second child, to look at the logical aspects as well as the emotional.

There are questions without answers and plenty of food for thought, but stick with me – maybe you can help?

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If I had a pound for every time I was asked ‘so when are you going to have another?’ or ‘time for another baby soon hey?‘ I would be a little less crippled by a mortgage size nursery bill, have a little more money for a gym membership and maybe enough money to fund my morning coffee obsession, just for starters.

As I push all bad jokes aside, I started to question ‘how do I actually feel about this?’ I honestly started to feel put on the spot and a little exposed too; but the more I thought about it, the more I realised that wanting another baby was something I hadn’t put much thought into. It started making me feel an overwhelming concoction of emotions; this mixture of guilt, greed and emptiness began to sew itself with curiosity, excitement, and many wonders of what could be. It’s no secret that I’m not sure I am mentally ready to have another baby or to put my body under so much pressure again. Rory’s birth and my c-section recovery were traumatic and tough but part of me is slowly becoming obsessed with the fact Rory is now 18 months old – I know I want more children but how long of an age gap is too long?

Motherhood: Feeling Guilty, Going Back to Work, Having a Family

Growing up, I always used to say I wanted three children: a boy, then a girl, then whatever God would grace us with. To be honest, I don’t think the big G was so keen on 17- year- old me’s plans if Rory’s arrival into the world is anything to go by – this definitely gives me a small heartache when thinking about wanting Rory to have siblings. Growing up with a sister just 19months younger than me meant we were quite inseparable as kids; we dressed the same, we acted the same and always had one another. Yes, our teenage years were super rocky for sure but thick or thin, we pulled through because having a sibling is a bond for life with always a lesson to learn; whether it’s how to share or learn to care, how to steal clothes and go unnoticed or even how to sneak a passport for an underage boogie whilst getting caught and forking out £200 for a new one a week before holidays… We really have been through the lot and I wouldn’t change any of it for the entire world. It’s something I want Rory to have for sure.

With all of the above swimming in my mind, the idea of more children, and money worries, I made the decision to go back to work full time. After 12 months maternity leave and 3 months back part time, I knew if I didn’t make the move at that point then not only would I really struggle to adjust to full-time work, but I would really have to fight further down the line to get a job doing something I actually wanted to do. I also knew the longer I left it to make a final decision about a new job and my career, the further away potential family expansion would become. It just so happens that I was incredibly fortunate in landing a job I used to dream of but we had bigger worries on the horizon.

I took a big leap of doubtable faith when I took my current job and was left wondering if we could really afford for me to go back to work. As I mentioned earlier, crippling nursery bills is our little black rain cloud. At an amount that matches 85% of my wages a month nursery bills, could you just imagine the cost for two!? Bankruptcy and a resounding ‘no thank you’ to parting ways with so much cash is left ringing in my ears.  How are mothers of children under 2, 3 or 4 supposed to have a career, contribute to better their family, not seen to be having ‘time away from work’ and have that something for themselves when the whole system is against them and nothing short of fatally flawed. Team this with £40k in debt from university (I always call it fake debt I know but they’ll come knocking for it one day) and maternity leave which left me borderline bankrupt there is no wonder I have such little savings. FYI, statutory maternity pay is beyond a joke and at a grand total of £141 per week, which was a 57% pay cut for me, only covered 9 of the 12 months leave which really scrapes the icing off the cake, onto the floor, and into a deep dirty puddle. Like dropping the perfect 99-er into the sand on a sunny summer day – a total freaking liberty.

Aside from my money worries and what feels like pounds (lbs!) of career-guilt, I’ve now got a new anxious pot of thoughts sat waiting to be dished out; I’ll start with question one: WHY, oh why do I now feel greedy for wanting another baby? Why does it seem that even wanting to talk about it seems quite taboo and something a little shameful – why do I feel like I’m asking for more than I’m ‘allowed’? The worst is feeling like I’ve put so much effort and time (and money) into going back to work and fighting to make it work, how on earth am I supposed to put it all on pause to have another baby? There are a million external factors outweighing the positives of having another member of the family, it always seems to come down to ‘we can’t afford another baby’ but can anyone ever really afford a baby? I feel like I’ve jumped down a black hole of unknown thoughts, feelings, and landed in a pile questions with not a lot of direction. ‘Mom-guilt’ is something I think needs to be talked about more often and more openly; we should never be made to feel this way and supporting each other could be the ticket outta here – with this in mind, please send advice, help or if you have any experiences you’ want to share, I would LOVE to hear.

Motherhood: Feeling Guilty, Going Back to Work, Having a Family

I’m not sure feeling guilty or greedy is something that will last forever and I’m sure somewhere out there, there must be an answer for all this weird family and money maths; I just can’t think there isn’t something out there that would work for us and that could help us grow and not make us lose every penny in the process. Right now, it’s just looking like an unmarked path in the fog: no road signs, no help and no sense of direction.

To all those struggling to juggle it all but muddling through – I have a profound respect for you. For those never knowing which way to turn – I’m right here with ya!

Motherhood: Feeling Guilty, Going Back to Work, Having a Family

Love as always,
One Curious Mother .xo

 

Happy 70th Birthday: Why I’m Infinitely Grateful

Even though I’m a little late to the party, I feel my thank you to the NHS had to be a piece carefully considered. This took longer than expected and this isn’t a particularly long one but here it goes…

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As we all know, this year The National Health Service has reached its 70th birthday; an incredible milestone for a service that can sometimes be the hand to hold in every step through the circle of life. Today, this piece is an open letter on why I’m grateful for the NHS.

Happy 70th Birthday to the NHS: Thank You Flowers

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To The National Health Service,

What an incredible job you’ve done. A job you do with such courage and compassion, every single day. I’m beaming with pride and thankfulness whilst writing this as it is not without you that I sit here today, cuddling our precious son. 

After years of studying, racking up debt and working around the clock, your journey into a job becomes a role of unimaginable pressure, expectation and at any moment of every day, you could be faced with any possible and sometimes impossible problem. This is aside from the negative press, the government funding issues and the struggle to recruit; the overworked GP’s, overcrowded surgeries and in many cases, lack of available resources, you are without a doubt pushed to your limits every day. Despite this, in our deeply personal experiences, there has always been above and beyond treatment and care for each and every one of us.

As a family, we’ve faced some terrifying times; from my Great Auntie Lesley’s brain tumour and stroke, to my Papy’s viral heart failure, my Dad’s appendicitis to much more recently, my emergency c-section for the birth of my son, Rory. It wasn’t long after this that my parents wrote a letter to you expressing their utmost gratitude and thanks for Rory’s safe delivery and both my antenatal and postnatal care. A letter they were so eager and so proud to write you.

My most recent care through The Trust has been for an incredible postnatal care programme: ‘Every Birth Matters’. After struggling to come to terms with and face Rory’s birth, I was left unsure how to feel. Traumatised by the events and lacking a true understanding of what had happened and if it was at all, preventable in the future. With a fantastic midwife to walk me through my pregnancy and journey through labour and birth, she fully explained every step going into tremendous factual and emotional detail. This has been the most intense but worthwhile hour of therapy I’ve ever received. It has not only helped me accept what has happened but I’ve learned that there was nothing I could have done to change the outcome of Rory’s birth: He hadn’t progressed into my pelvis enough and after 30+ hours, they weren’t willing to give him any more time to try to. It was to save us both but what has saved me the most is knowing I didn’t fail, that my body did its job and even with the harrowing recovery – there was nothing more I could have possibly done: the outcome would have lead us down the same path. Even with this breakthrough, the best news was learning that I wouldn’t have to go through it again if we chose to have more children. That I could successfully have a VBAC if I wanted or a scheduled c-section should I wish. For someone who struggles with personal control, knowing that next time the choice could be mine, feels like a weight has been lifted. The Trust has been invaluable to my recovery and one day, I just hope I can express my gratitude enough.

Life is fragile and every day it’s put into your hands: a birth, a death, an illness, a broken bone. The list is endless. Nothing can prepare us for what life brings and no one will ever know what’s coming around the corner but it is from the bottom of my heart, I thank you for all you have done and all that you continue to do.

In our deepest and most desperate times of need, even in the most stretched state, you provided the absolute best treatment, care, and support for us to heal and move forwards without fail. You are a service that has become priceless for those who need it most.

You are priceless, you are treasured and most of all you are lifesaving. Happy 70th Birthday superstars!

Yours gratefully,

Naomi Pridding

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We must, must try everything to help the National Health Service and respect it for what it is: a life saving, irreplaceable free service providing an incomparable and incredible care 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

I really don’t think I want to say any more for this – I don’t think it’s necessary. I’m just forever grateful for the care we’ve been provided with.

Loves to all,

OCM xoxo

Why Is Turning One So Much Fun!?

After our mini hiatus from being online, we are bloomin’ back. We have a brand new look, a brand new structure, and so many new questions to ask – that’s why we are One Curious Mother. While we were away we’ve been less than quiet with a first birthday to celebrate, two snow days and a four-day Easter bank holiday weekend. Family time has been so important and we’ve loved every minute.

I recently wrote a post about being a mother for a year; I wrote a letter to year-ago-me about how my life had changed, the things I wish I’d known and the things I should remember to tell myself. Whilst doing this, I realised that I should be questioning things a lot more often; why were there things that I didn’t know, why were there things people didn’t tell me and why do babies not sleep when they’re so obviously tired!? So many questions and never enough time. We’ve tackled some intense and profound subject matters since we started back in December 2016 and I didn’t want to bring One Curious Mother back to you with a post that was too harsh or thought-provoking so without further ado, today we’re coming straight back at ya with our first post: ‘Why Is Turning One So Much Fun’ – Happy reading!

27750817_1756135944417876_1229448006099829969_nKing Rory the First

WHY IS TURNING ONE SO MUCH FUN!?

Rorysaurus. Part boy, part dinosaur, and a whole one-year-old! How did it become twelve months later? Fifty-two weeks, three hundred and sixty-five days  – I can’t comprehend that it’s been that long since he arrived into our lives via that ’emergency c’. I will never understand the cause of time speeding up as you get older but my golly gosh it certainly has since he was born. Within a blink of an eye, Rory has gone from a little glow worm in a swaddle to walking-slash-running and shouting ‘HIYA’ whilst scrunching his tiny hands open and closed at literally every single living thing. Damn, I am ever so excited for this year and with him growing so fast before our eyes, boy do we have so much to look forward to. Kicking things off in style, we threw him his very first birthday party – somewhat dinosaur themed of course! 

Party & Presents

After having a really large christening party for His Royal Highness, we decided to keep his birthday really low-key. We had family over for an old-school party lunch where we played games like ‘pass the parcel’ and ‘pin the tail on the donkey’ where, as per usual, we ate a ridiculous amount of cake. No party in our house is ever complete without party rings, cheese & pineapple sticks and sausage rolls. We stayed fairly low-key with the decorations but still managed to squeeze in some paper fans, oversized foil balloons, cone party hats and a super sparkly cake topper.

We tried to stay sensible with his birthday presents as we are still overwhelmed by all the gifts from Christmas. Despite this, we couldn’t help but fall for some fantastic finds with thanks to the closing sale by ToysRUs (RIP childhood!). Originally looking for sensory toys, We went for little musical instruments but ended up with a Buzz Lightyear backpack for our upcoming holiday, a Green Toys seaplane bath toy and a Vtech ‘My First Till’ as well. Our little dinosaur was nothing short of spoilt rotten by the rest of the family with a Little Tikes Cozy Coupe from his Granny & Grumps, money for swimming lessons from Grandad, a Little Tikes Shopping Trolley with all the felt food available to purchase in Ikea (to go with our till) from Great Nanny & Papy and a Little Tikes Cozy Coupe Swing & Lawn Mower from Nanny, Bampi & Auntie Banana. With his Activity Garden from Christmas, you would definitely think our living room was now sponsored by Little Tikes! Now running around and fascinated by everything that moves, why wouldn’t anyone absolutely love playtime? I know I do and might just enjoy playing shop a bit more than Rory does – I’m not worried yet, I know he’ll come to love playing shop with me eventually!

Present Time!

On Rory’s actual birthday, we took a little day trip and Woburn Safari Park was our destination of choice. We are aiming to do as many zoos and aquariums around the UK as possible in the years to come and decided this occasion was perfect for ticking off another one. As the safari park was a little drive away from home, we packed up our car for the day, hoping to avoid the generous pounding of snow we had just the day before. With weather worse to the north and west of us, we decided on Woburn as it was further east where the weather was far less intense. By the time we arrived, there wasn’t a flake of snow in sight. Choosing a drive around safari was the perfect activity for a one-year-old. Sitting on my knee in the front, strapped in together going 2mph looking at bears, tigers, monkeys and more, had Rory completely transfixed. Even though the weather was still cold, most animals were out of their little homes and some even came a little too close to the car for my comfort (those bears were much scarier up close!). Once the safari was over, there was an interactive part of the park to enjoy and wrapped up beyond belief, we braved the freezing wind-chill and enjoyed looking at penguins, goats, otters and even found a Noah’s Ark super soft play area for us to have a run-around. It was the perfect sensory experience for a one-year-old and were so glad we made the decision to have a day out.

Safari Fun!

A lot of articles, blogs and forums said that a first birthday isn’t one for taking your child anywhere as they’re too young to enjoy anything and won’t remember it. I think it’s safe to say, we respectfully completely disagree! We had the most amazing day as a little family and yeah, Rory might not remember it but I know for sure that as parents, we definitely will. Family days out are always the best and I’ve got a list of future days out to get through this year.

So, what are we looking forward to this year? Well, we have a few exciting happenings coming up. First off, we’re going to support our Auntie Banana at her Masters’ graduation in London next week. It’s Rory’s first visit to the capital which is all very exciting as he loves people and new places are always fun. Then in June, we are heading on our second family holiday: a road trip to the South of France. On deciding to drive, we just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to plan a mini detour via the most magical place on earth, Disneyland Paris! Rory doesn’t know that he’s excited about it yet but he will grow up to be as excited as me, I’m absolutely sure of it. In addition to these, we have his progressional second-year milestones to look forward to; talking more, taking the next chapter of Waterbabies and moving on up to ‘Toddler Two’ at nursery school to name a few. With all our traditional celebrations like Halloween and another super festive Christmas, we are all set for another super busy year and cannot wait.

I think in answer to our original question, ‘why is turning one so much fun?’ I believe it’s because we are about to have so much fun before we turn two, there is just no way it could ever be boring and we hope you’ll enjoy joining us on this journey as much as we’ll enjoy taking it!

Speak soon & love to all,
One Curious Mother xoxo

PS here are some sources for some of the things in today’s post:
Happy Birthday Balloon Banner (affiliate link)- https://www.amazon.co.uk/Inflating-Birthday-Balloon-Bunting-Letters/dp/B06XY6S77C/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&linkCode=ll1&tag=onecuriousmot-21&linkId=ae09f2eee267c8d05e848223d2ea245a
Giant Green 1 Balloon (affiliate link)- https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B072XSP7KQ/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&psc=1&linkCode=ll1&tag=onecuriousmot-21&linkId=21d6cb7390e231c6cece654d2a7cc7a0
Dinosaur ‘One’ Cake Topper (affiliate link)- https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B01N7049KQ/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&psc=1&linkCode=ll1&tag=onecuriousmot-21&linkId=6857913e91e68626b9587be879bd3883
Little Tikes – https://www.littletikes.co.uk
Woburn Safari Park – http://www.woburnsafari.co.uk
Disneyland Paris – http://www.disneylandparis.co.ukhttp://www.disneyholidays.co.uk/disneyland-paris/