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

 

His Grand Arrival – The Birth Story

As we gently tiptoe across the three week old mark, I finally feel ready to write about my experience of labour and how our precious boy Rory Fitzsimons arrived into the world.

I want to start by praising the NHS and every one who had an involvement in my care at Great Western Hospital in Swindon. The care I received was outstanding and each and everyone of the members of staff I came into contact with seemed to go above and beyond to make my journey and stay at GWH as best as it could be under the circumstances I faced. I find people are all too quick to complain about our health service but are too shy to praise – They saved us and helped us get through a very difficult journey and that I will always be grateful for.

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*PLEASE BE AWARE Some details in this blog may make for distressing reading so please bear this in mind*

It hit 9:45pm on Friday 17th and this wave of pain surged through my lower back forcing me to sit down. As ‘damn what the hell was that’ flew out my mouth, of which my other half reassured me that it was probably pain related to the weight of my bump. Within 10 minutes the pain arrived again – this was no regular back pain. As the pains were irregular and at this point and not unmanageable, I took myself off to bed with a hot wheat bag and put a film on for distraction. Within just 2 hours the pain had intensified and I was keeled over in the bathroom uncontrollably shaking reaching for the phone. By 1:30am I was lying on a bed waiting to be assessed in the delivery suite. With each pulse of my contractions feeling stronger and stronger I was assessed and at 2cm – next move was a 3am referral to the antenatal ward. Clinging on to my phone to press ‘start’ on my contraction counter, I continued to pace the maternity ward for 13 hours until I was finally at 4 cm and ready to be taken through to the delivery suite. Shaking profusely, it had suddenly dawned on me that after growing a baby for 9 months, he could be in my arms within hours – a terrifying but exciting thought!

In the end I decided against having a birth plan however in a moment’s pain I took the plunge and went straight in for the epidural without a second thought. Full of nerves and exhaustion, no one argued with my decision and the boyfriend was my rock and so incredibly supportive throughout. In less than 20 minutes the anaesthetist was explaining the process and the risks whilst I moved to the edge of the bed and hunched over. The epidural was the least painful and most stress-free part of my labour experience which took me completely by surprise – for some reason I had worked myself up into thinking it was going to be painful. At this point I was still in a state and became worked up as the fear of the unknown and complete and utter exhaustion collided. From here on out it was a waiting game. My body was doing its thing, just very very slowly. By 3am and I reached 7 cms and things were still going slow and I was given a hormone drip to speed things up… this didn’t really work too well.

Fast forward to 5:30am – 10cms had finally been reached! The sudden feeling of ‘OMG YES my body is actually doing this all on its own – and I can’t feel a thing!’ had arrived with the words ‘I think you’re ready to start pushing now’. For a split second time stood still. It was like looking at the finish line from a distance and not knowing if you were hurtling towards it or it was getting further away! Unaware of the strain my body was feeling, this continued for 4 hours with a hormone drip. As the sun began shining on Sunday morning I was greeted by my third change of midwife, 2 doctors, my anaesthetist and a surgeon… Yup you guessed – after 4 hours of pushing and getting no further, the word ‘caesarean’ surfaced. I had a tonne of drugs being pumped through my system so wasn’t really 100% sure of what was going on but as the midwife handed the boyfriend his very own pair of blue scrubs I figured that surgery had become my only option. Turns out our little man had turned to be back against my back and there was a chance the cord was now under his arm being squeezed every time a contraction came around – not ideal! Before I knew it I was being wheeled down to theatre and being rubbed with iodine and pumped with more drugs. I was terrified at this stage but these are professionals whose jobs are to deliver babies safely – I had to trust them. I had no preconceived ideas of what a c-section would entail even after watching the NHS ‘Guide To’ video online months back, I honestly naively believed it wouldn’t happen to me. As the room filled with around 8 to 10 people, all with their own individual jobs, my surgery began. Completely petrified as my dear boyfriend coached me through my tears and fears, it barely seemed like 5 minutes before someone commented ‘your baby is about to be born’…

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… And there he was! Perfect, all pink and screaming – the midwives whisked him over to the scales to be weighed and put a knitted hat on his little round head. Our little son was posted down the top of my gown for our first bit of skin to skin. Tears began to stream down my face as I looked across to his daddy with face beaming – our baby had arrived and all safe and sound!  It’s no secret that what people say is true; the moment you lay eyes on your baby you’ll wonder how you ever lived not knowing their face, that one look at them creates this unconditional love. He was 8lb and 3 ounces of beautiful.

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After living in that new family bubble, the biggest reality check followed the return of feeling in my body: there is no way in hell a c-section is ever the ‘easy option‘. Having read 101 blogs, forums and Q&A’s c-sections always seem to be a taboo subject, there was an unbelievable amount of shame pushed upon women who didn’t give birth naturally – something I just could not get my head around. HOW could surgery be the easy way out!? I can tell you for free it absolutely was not. My recovery felt and still feels nothing short of a million marathons. I was discharged after just 2 days with an extensive list of drugs to take looking completely swollen much like a party balloon. I couldn’t get in and out of chairs or my bed without assistance and couldn’t stand up straight without a 10 minute slow motion stretch. I slept on the sofa for the first 4 nights as lying down caused me too much pain. Every time I tried to do anything physical – walk to the toilet, take a drink, lift Rory to feed – tears streamed down my face. Even eating became a challenge as utter exhaustion has taken control of my body and mind. BUT luckily for me this started to subside after the first week with the help of my incredible family and support system. The boyfriend along with my parents helped bath me, feed me, do the laundry and dishes along with food shopping all whilst I was sofa bound. Cabin fever is the worst when you’re physically in pain and mentally exhausted but I can promise you that if you are going through this right now, that each day gets a little bit better – I promise. Now 23 days on from the birth of Rory, I can get up and out of bed, cook, bath myself and Rory, go for short walks and just about make it around a (small) supermarket shop without any issues. I did struggle when the boyfriend went back to work a week ago but having my own mother just next door working from home, if I ever have any struggles she’s always there for me – something I will  never be able to thank her enough for. Our families have been the best and we can’t thank them enough for all they’ve done for us already.

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It’s no secret that my experience of birth was a difficult and traumatic one and I’m no longer afraid to admit that. All through my pregnancy I had prepared myself for the possibility of a long labour but never as long as 36 hours long or for it to end in emergency surgery. This journey has taught me so much and when looking back at how far we’ve come it’s so easy to get overwhelmed so to finish off my story I want to share with you all five things I have learnt along the road to recovery:

  1. You should never doubt the power of a woman’s body and mind. Even in the toughest of situations, your body will do its job, it will do what it has to do, you will make some of the hardest decisions and you will overcome extreme unexpected situations and you will thrive! Surgery is seriously tough, no matter what it’s for. Give your body some credit for its hard work and look after yourself.
  2. Don’t give yourself a hard time if things don’t go to plan! Life can spring the unexpected on you at any moment and sometimes you have to be brave and embrace it.
  3. Your support system is one of your most valuable things. In your darkest hour having close family or friends is completely invaluable. They will bring you back to earth and hold your hand the entire time.
  4. It’s OK to cry – and yes at absolutely everything. Whether it’s because you can’t reach to tie your shoes or you’re exhausted from breastfeeding just let it all out, no one is going to judge you.
  5. You won’t look like you – but it won’t always be that way. You might not recognise yourself, you won’t fit back into your old clothes straight away and you’ll still be ‘puffy’ for a little while but it’s not permanent, it’s all part of the journey to the new normal.

Now halfway to my 6 week appointment I feel like a totally different person already – something I would never have believed in the days following Rory’s birth. We are slowly finding our way to the new normal and you will too. My best advice is that you just have to be patient and kind to yourself. You’ll be back on track to finding your new normal before you know it. It really won’t be long before you’ll be enjoying your favourite activities again – PROMISE!

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I’m glad I’ve finally been able to share my journey with you. We are totally in love and can’t imagine life without our little Rory! Thank you for coming back for a read!

One Curious Mother x

There were no sources used for today’s post but if you wish to, you can watch the NHS youtube videos at this link – https://www.youtube.com/user/GreatWesternHospital

The Last Leg!

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Please accept my biggest apologies for the lack of posts over the last week or so – Just 3 words cover my back here: Pregnancy is exhausting! We have finally reached the last leg at almost 38 weeks with numerous appointments, the end of the big nursery build and finally that ‘nesting’ feeling in full swing.

After finishing work almost 4 weeks ago and having little over 2 weeks until the D-DAY, I can only describe my new found restlessness as unbelievably severe impatience. With sleepless nights, a nasty case of PUPPP (Pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy – basically a hormone fuelled horrible itchy rash) along with the waddle of an oversized goose, having this little man surprise me before the 40th week is starting to sound like an OK idea but there is no doubt this last leg is proving to be difficult. Between daily hospital visits, building project nearing it’s final days and feeling ever more uncomfortable trying to get my head around everything so lets get talking about these highs and lows and how I’m getting myself together for the big day.

Now this is a very important part of this post: my recognition for the fantastic National Health Service of the Great Western Hospital in Swindon whom without I wouldn’t know what the hell I was doing and would more than likely be a messy puddle of worry. Between having low movement last week, camping out in the canteen waiting to see dermatology along with having a number of appointments back and fore to keep an eye on my rash and itching, I have to praise the Women’s Day Assessment Unit for their outstanding care and support. I could not fault them at all. With 110% committed to helping you every time, always monitoring your baby and providing first class care whilst smiling the whole time – Happiness makes such a difference when you’re knees deep in worry. This not only goes for the unit but also for our local community midwives too. Having now completed our 3 week antenatal class course at the hospital run by community midwives, we are definitely feeling a little more aware of what to expect and feel we’ve been given a lot of information on how to prepare. This advice has been above and beyond valuable and I think has geared us up for a small taster of what to expect as first time parents.

We have brought just about everything this baby will need until he’s at least 6 months old (you can never been too prepared!), the nursery is built, plastered, painted and waiting for carpet – which is going to be fitted tomorrow (expect photo update!) and all the furniture is waiting in boxes next to my packed hospital bag. I am secretly hoping he’ll make a spur of the moment arrival any day now as I finally feel like I am almost ready to be a mother. Unfortunately  it’s out of my control and is up to him when he would like to make that entrance! I have been basking in the well known old wives tales plastered over the internet. From eating pineapple, bouncing on an exercise ball, eating spicier foods and even taking longer walks (even if that’s mainly around supermarkets as my appetite is huge right now) I am keen to try it all. As you can tell, nothing is working so far but wish me luck and if you have any suggestions please do contact us! We’d love to hear your advice!

Anyway, Let’s look at our beautiful build then! 

SO MANY PHOTOS. It’s definitely been a well documented build thats for sure! It’s been one of the most exciting thing to see happen to our little annex and we are truly lucky to have my parent’s just next door – they’ve been so much more than your average parents… they’ve been more like part-time project managers, builders, decorators, electricians and everything in between! Now we’ve finally reached the last stages of the nursery build, with just the carpet to be fitted tomorrow and furniture to build after, it’s been good to reflect on the whole project. Take a little look at our progress below:

The Demolition Beginning
The Start of Building
Up Go The Walls & On Goes The Roof
Windows In & Walls Plastered
Whitewashed Walls & Cement
‘Custard’ or ‘Cheesecake’?

This build has come on leaps and bounds in just over 4 weeks with amazing man power and help from the all the local builders, plasterers, carpet fitters and everyone else we’ve employed along with all the family too. It’s crazy how quickly the last 37 weeks have gone and I still can’t believe how far we’ve come, how much we’ve done in that time and how far we still have to go. Despite feeling this impatient, I know these last weeks will fly by and he’ll be here before we know it –  just hoping all this excitement brings him into our lives sooner rather than later!

Happy Humpday & Happy St David’s Day! 

Keep an eye out for updates for our finished room or even an update on his grand entrance – who knows which will come first! 

One Curious Mother x

 

Sources:
ALL images are copyright to One Curious Mother ©
If you have any queries about the images used please visit our contact page and drop us an email! 

The Bare Necessities

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‘The simple bare necessities, forget about your worries and your strife’

As a Disney fan, it seems only appropriate that we delve into this Jungle Book style! What better way to sum up the bare necessities you will suddenly need now your bundle of joy is on the way than with a childhood classic!

This post is a much lighter hearted and fun one. If you LOVE to burn a hole in your pocket (like I do) and don’t know how to do this without totally breaking the bank, then look no further as I am about to share the tips and tricks I’ve learnt so far. When I discovered I was pregnant, it didn’t dawn on me for a few months how much stuff I could possibly need. With so much advertising and lists everywhere telling you ‘YOU WILL NEED THIS‘ and ‘YOU SHOULD BUY THAT‘ it can all be a little overwhelming to say the least. I was always aware of the ‘bare necessities’ I would need such as a pram, a cot and changing table but not all the little extras that have now been designed to make your life easier (and apparently a little more cluttered!)

You’re always told you need a multitude of things but what you need vs what you’re told you need, I have found, are very different. Take it from me, this is far from straight forwards for a first-time-mother with no experience of preparing for a baby. So, where do you start once you’ve listed what counts as the bare necessities? For me, I started by making a list of things categorising what I have brought/have left to buy to help me see what I need. Below are mini lists under the categories I have narrowed it down to: Medical, To Sleep, To Wear, To Feed and To Entertain/Go Out. Let’s see what I’ve got for each:

  1. Medical: For cleaning, bathing & caring
    Shampoo
    Baby lotion
    Body wash
    Cotton wool
    Towels
    Changing table & mat
    NAPPIES
    Wipes
    Nappy rash cream
    Diaper genie & refills
    Bath seat
  2. To Sleep: For comfort & wearing 
    Cot & Moses Basket (and sheets)
    Pillow/’Sleepy head’ pod
    Swaddles
    Pyjamas/sleepsuits – Mixture of different thicknesses
    Baby monitor
  3. To Wear: Remember babies can be sick… a lot!
    Wardrobe (to store it all) – always think of maximising space!
    Baby grows – mixture of long, short, no sleeve/feet, no feet
    Socks
    Hats – mixture of thin & thick
    Cardigans
    Jumpers
    Scratch mittens
  4. To Feed:
    Breast pump
    Bottles
    Feeding pillow
    Sterilisers
    Bottle brush
    Dummies & on-the-go steriliser
    Muslin cloths
    Bibs 
  5. To Entertain/Go Out:
    Cuddly toy
    Bouncy chair/rocker
    Mobile
    Night light
    Playmat – For tummy time!
    Carrier – For taking them for a walk whilst basically weight training – win win!

There are plenty of things you could add or take away from this list as I’m sure I’ve missed out things that others would deem essential and things that I’ve added that others wouldn’t need but as a list of things to help me feel prepared, I feel it covers all basics with a little luxury.

With all those items in mind I am pleased to say I have always been a thrifty shopper. There are a handful of items on that list that I paid full price for. One of my biggest tips & tricks is an absolute must: YOU MUST SCOUR THE INTERNET – get on Google and research that product you want, look for when shops have mother & baby events, sign up for sale email notifications and never ever just settle for what you find first! There will always be an alternative that might help you save your pennies for a rainy day. Here are my top 6 best buys to date: (Please note that these deals may have expired and may not be available anymore!)

Tommee Tippee Dummies at Asda – As mentioned in my previous post ‘A Dummies Guide…’ these sets were on offer for 2 for £6! 

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https://groceries.asda.com/product/teethers-soothers/tommee-tippee-closer-to-nature-fun-style-2-orthodontic-soothers-0-to-6m/910001268315 

Tommee Tippee Bottle at Tesco – Originally around £25, these were down to just £10!

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 http://www.tesco.com/direct/tommee-tippee-closer-to-nature-260ml-bottles-6-pack/215-1344.prd?source=others 

Tommee Tippee Manual Breast Pump at Boots – Originally £21.99, on sale for £10.99!

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http://www.boots.com/tommee-tippee-closer-to-nature-manual-breast-pump-10205689 

Bambino Mio Miosolo All-In-One Reusable Nappy at Boots – Originally £15.99 each, on sale for £10.99

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 http://www.boots.com/bambino-mio-miosolo-all-in-one-reusable-nappy-hop-10216576 

Bambino Mio Miosolo All-In-One Nappy at Aldi – Down to £8.99 as part of their Baby Event

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https://www.aldi.co.uk/bambino-mio-miosolo-nappy-bicycle/p/068689020575101 

Mama’s & Papa’s Wave Rocker – On sale for £59 from £79, in wrong box when went to purchase so honoured at the marked down £34.99! 

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 https://www.mamasandpapas.com/en-gb/wave-rocker-catch-a-star/p/4591t0300/ 

So, let’s tally it all up. These six items should have come to approximately £167.55 but came to just £81.96 saving me a whopping £85.59! That’s more than 50% off – which you can see but still – it just goes to show that shopping around can help you save those pennies after all your baby is going to need many new things as they begin to grow.

I hope this has inspired you that when you go to shop to look for those bargains and SAVE!

Happy Hump day!

One Curious Mother x

 

Sources:
Cover Image:
https://d23.com/this-day/the-jungle-book-premieres/

Item Images:
https://groceries.asda.com/product/teethers-soothers/tommee-tippee-closer-to-nature-fun-style-2-orthodontic-soothers-0-to-6m/910001268315
http://www.tesco.com/direct/tommee-tippee-closer-to-nature-260ml-bottles-6-pack/215-1344.prd?source=others
http://www.boots.com/tommee-tippee-closer-to-nature-manual-breast-pump-10205689
http://www.boots.com/bambino-mio-miosolo-all-in-one-reusable-nappy-hop-10216576
https://www.aldi.co.uk/bambino-mio-miosolo-nappy-bicycle/p/068689020575101
https://www.mamasandpapas.com/en-gb/wave-rocker-catch-a-star/p/4591t0300/

 

Strep In The Wrong Direction!

I have just spent weeks drafting the perfect (and longest) post for you all. Full of information and all the decisions to make when it comes to deciding what to include in your birth plan, I was desperate to share my most in depth post yet. However, in an unexpected change in situation within my pregnancy, I have been stifled by the uncommonly discussed topic of Group B Strep – a bacteria that 25% of people have in their bodies – that has pretty much made some of my major decisions for me. Thinking out loud, some would think that it’s helped me tackle those hard decisions like where to give birth but I beg to differ. Feeling kind of stripped of my breadth of choice, I decided to do some good old research into what Group B Strep is and exactly how it’s going to affect my birth plan now.

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As you’ve probably guessed from my previous posts, it’s very hard to avoid talking about medical topics when it comes to pregnancy. As a natural phenomenon that requires medical care and attention there are always thousands of issues swarming the topic. Having recently discussed vaccinations and the use of dummies, I still feel it’s important to share every high and low step of this wonderful journey I am hazily bumbling along. Throughout my pregnancy, I have chosen to take pretty much all the necessary precautions advised to me by my midwife. I have agreed to have all the offered tests through scans or bloods being taken without question. I chose to have all my available jabs. I chose these to protect not only myself but my unborn baby too. After all of that, at 31 weeks pregnant, I wasn’t expecting to be told I have Group B Strep.

GBS is something I had never heard of. It wasn’t something that was addressed in my appointments, nor was it brought up during discussions for any of my tests. After foolishly turning to ‘Doctor Google’ to do my research, there’s no surprise I was left feeling nervous and worried for my unborn child. Now, at the fear of sounding too dramatic and a little over the top, although harmless for me, GBS can, in extremely rare cases be very serious for your baby. This is because GBS can be passed on to your baby during labour which has the potential to present itself in two ways: Early Onset GBS or Late Onset GBS. In some of the most serious cases, GBS has led to meningitis, pneumonia and sepsis. CUE THE PANIC… but not for me. I made a mature decision and decided to take a deep breath and look for factual information and advice around the subject; I left Doctor Google behind and found a few websites with clear information that made me feel somewhat sane again.

I hope this helps you if you’re in need of some clarity in between all this fog!

gbss-website

The first website was Group B Strep Support who came to the rescue to calm my nerves and educate my worried little brain. Both helpful and informative, the website clearly outlines what GBS is, how common it is, it’s dangers as well as their support in further research. Once I had read through all the information necessary, I felt so much calmer. Although some of the information on the website can seem scary, especially when talking about the more serious effects, I felt much more informed and educated on the matter.

The most important piece of information I found was that the top medical recommendation made by doctors and midwives to help prevent GBS passing on to the baby during labour is to have antibiotics as soon as labour begins. This is either by intravenously through a cannula (so a drip for about 20 minutes) or through slow injection (estimated to take about 5-10 minutes).  This is recommended to be administered to you at four hour intervals for Penicillin or eight hour intervals for Clindamycin. From a conversation with a midwife last week, it was suggested that Penicillin is more commonly offered whereas Clindamycin is then offered if you’re knowingly allergic. It was at this moment I realised that my expanse of choices had become quite restricted. To have the antibiotics, I need to be on a hospital ward – that means I have crossed off the idea of a home birth (which I didn’t want anyway) and a no for most midwife led units. There are midwife led units that do offer medicine for care but the one at my chosen hospital is not one of them. I had tossed and turned over the idea of a water birth but the idea of all that fluid put me off. I like the ideas of a bath and using water don’t get me wrong but using it as pain relief just doesn’t seem like enough for me. GBS stifles this idea as needing to be hooked up every 4 hours to a drip is going to be a little difficult and unsanitary as you can imagine as the cannula could get wet. However, I believe I am still allowed to use a regular bath and is still encouraged as it can help speed labour along but you must keep you hand out and dry! On the other hand of all this, there is the option not to have any antibiotics. If you should choose not this option, this is where GBS can become serious. As mentioned earlier there are two different types of GBS: early onset and late onset. The information available from the NHS website talks more in depth about both, what each means and the symptoms to look out for.

nhs-gbs

Early Onset, which develops within 24 hours, carries symptoms such as ‘being floppy and unresponsive, not feeding well, grunting, high or low temperature, fast or slow heart rates, fast or slow breathing rates and/or irritability’. IF your baby is to become infected there is a chance that ‘even with the best medical care the infection can sometimes cause life-threatening complications’. The information leaflet goes on to discuss the chances of it becoming serious. One in ten babies born with GBS will die and one in five babies born with GBS will develop issues such as ‘cerebral palsy, deafness, blindness, and serious learning difficulties‘ but there are still chances that a baby born with GBS can make a full recovery and survive with no complications. Late Onset is a little different from Early Onset. It’s only classed as ‘Late’ if it develops in the baby after seven days or more. This then suggests that it is not linked to pregnancy and an infection could have been picked up from someone or something else. This will be handled with care and your baby will be tested and monitored to determine whether GBS is or isn’t present.

itv-this-morning-screenshot

There’s a lot of reading here and it renders a very uneasy feeling with me. As commonly untested and therefore untreated, this can leave a lot of your baby’s health to chance but spreading the word is easy and could be the difference between making that doctors appointment for a swab or not bothering. The topic was this week discussed on popular morning TV show This Morning – in my eyes a very good step in the right directed to see GBS starting to emerge into the mainstream media. The six-and-a-half-minute clip shows an interview with a bereaved mother, Fiona Paddon, and medical professional, Dr Chris. They began the discussion with the heartbreaking story of how Fiona lost her son at just 9 days old. Like myself and I’m sure many others, Fiona had no idea that GBS even existed or that she was a carrier of the bacteria. There was no mention of it during appointments, tests or NCT classes. This is where Dr Chris steps in to talk about the many petitions over the years that have been signed and repeatedly ignored. For the sake of a small swab test carried out between 35 and 37 weeks, so many babies could be saved from contracting life changing illnesses or meeting death just by mothers, midwives & doctors knowing that GBS is present. It’s that simple.

Since mentioning it to a midwife when I was recently in hospital for monitoring, I now have a big square sticker on the front of my maternity notes to help whichever midwife I have when I go into labour – the sticker is a bit like the one at the top of this post. With this in mind, I think my personal decisions will all become a bit more final after my next midwife appointment when I will be able to talk and come away with as much information as possible to go away and write my birth plan. I already have an idea of how I will plan this already. It’s been decided for me that I will be heading to the delivery suite, accepting the antibiotics provided, having any pain relief I can have whilst on the antibiotics, using the bath (if not too traumatised by the thought of a water birth) and eventually when little one makes his grand entrance, I will be staying in hospital for 24-48 hours for observation… or something along those lines!

GBS has definitely been one of the more difficult subjects to tackle and I want to thank you (again and again) for having a read. Now let’s do our bit spread the word and make more and more women aware of GBS and how it can be handled!

One Curious Mother x

Sources:
http://www.gbss.org.uk
http://www.nhs.uk/chq/pages/2037.aspx?categoryid=54
http://www.itv.com/thismorning/health/group-b-strep-why-dont-we-test-for-it
(header image) https://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&ved=0ahUKEwjbz9z9j-LRAhWE6xQKHWH_BRMQjRwIBw&url=https%3A%2F%2Fuk.pinterest.com%2Fpin%2F236157574190265969%2F&bvm=bv.145393125,bs.2,d.ZGg&psig=AFQjCNG92g6XdbZaos7F7tsfisv2fXlfNQ&ust=1485599612550243

 

The Hospital Bag

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As much as I would always like to think I am organised within an inch of my life, I am probably nowhere near. My apartment is a constant cleaning-in-progress mess, we still don’t have a nursery built and I not even begun to think about buying the big important stuff a baby requires. However, despite this the one thing I have decided I will be organised about is my hospital bag. The thought of being unprepared for his grand arrival is starting to terrify me and I feel I must nail this bag on the head even with no nursery or furniture! To start my preparations, as always, I’ve turned to our good old friend Google and done a bit of reading. Hello NetMums! We all know it’s not hard to end up reading an unbelievable and overwhelming number of forums, blogs and comments but I did come to one big conclusion: Everyone is different.

I am currently at 30 weeks and 3 days and have been made abundantly aware that I look positively enormous for someone who has just less than 10 weeks to go. (I’ll give you some context – I am only 5ft3, before pregnancy was a size 8/10 and from behind you can’t even tell I’m pregnant). I have begun to panic a bit at the thought of our little one arriving before his due date so decided to begin organising things to put this hospital bag together now I’ve brought a sturdy duffle bag.

To begin with my starting lists seemed to consist of a mixture of things for myself and the baby that I may or may not use. The more I thought about it, the more I realised I might work on a process of elimination basis and add or take things away as it gets closer and closer to ‘the big day’. Below are the things I’ve put in the bag for baby so far:

  • 2 ‘going home’ sleep suit – both with build in feet and scratch mittens
  • 1 full length baby grow – no feet or mittens
  • 2 newborn long sleeve bodysuits – just in case he’s tiny
  • 2 0-3-month-old short sleeve bodysuits
  • 1 0-3-month-old no sleeve bodysuit – in case he’s warm
  • 1 soft toy –  to stop him crying of course (this is being made so isn’t in the bag yet)
  • 4 muslin cloths – may need more, 4 seemed like a good starting point
  • 2-3 dribble bibs – please see above comment ^
  • 2-3 pairs of socks – different colours & thickness
  • 2 pairs of scratch mittens – baby’s nails can be sharp

I have only put a lot thought into items for the baby and I’m already being much slower picking the things I want to put in the bag for me. I’ve put this down to still being quite unsure about what kind of birth I am going to aim for – yes aim being the most important word here as I don’t believe anyone knows how a birth will unfold. Again, I have started looking at my birth plan but I will talk more about that in depth in be a future post no doubt. The starts of my ‘me list’ looks a little like this:

  • Nightwear (1 PJ set, 2 nighties) – preferably with buttons for breast feeding and a wide/elastic waistband for comfort
  • 5 pairs of ‘Bridget Jones pants’ – yes those big comfy ones that come up to your armpits
  • A million maxi pads – because we all know that these will be an absolutely necessity
  • Pack of face wipes & some moisturiser – just to try and feel a tad normal
  • 3 – 4 Nursing bras – for maximum ease when feeding the little one
  • ‘Mothers Balm’ by Neal’s Yard – I was brought this as a gift and absolutely swear by it 
  • Camera – As a photographer, this an absolute must no matter how awful I may look/feel

The quantities of the above are based on not knowing how long I’ll be in hospital so covers a maximum stay of 3-4 days. I still need to do things like toothbrush, paste, shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, etc. but my SO is going to take care of chargers, phones and a call list because there’s less things for me to think (and forget) about.
I do still have a little way to go yet with just under 10 weeks left so I feel I’m running out of time to somehow find the strength and organise the rest of my life properly especially with my maternity leave creeping up on me at just 25 days to go! For now, I think I’ll stick to being content my bag is pretty much almost packed and pray that if I have forgotten something, that eventually I will somehow remember – even with my gooey baby-controlled mind!

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(Could not resist this bear hat – Hoping this will be his first outfit post-birth!)

Hope you’re all enjoying being back at work and having a Christmas-decoration-free home. (Mine looks so bare now, almost as if it were a little tidier!)

One Curious Mother x

Stock List: 
Striped Sleepsuit – Mothercare
Spaceship Sleepsuit – Cath Kidston
Red Dribble Bib – Zippy
White Sleeveless Baby Grow – Asda
Grey Bear Hat – H&M
Grey Star Swaddle – Swaddle Me

 

To Vaccinate or Not To Vaccinate

Happy New Year! 

To start off 2017, as the weather has taken a turn for the freezing, I thought I’d start by discussing an all important topic – Vaccinations. Although a heavy subject, it is one that is regularly discussed in relation to pregnancy.

‘Vaccines’, ‘Jabs’, ‘Shots’ or ‘Injections’ – Whatever you call them, throughout your life you will more than likely have to make decisions on whether to have them or not. For the first part of your life this decision lies with your parents as you’re just a little too young to understand the medical advantages or disadvantages of them. As someone who is not a fan of being ill, I have always had vaccines that are recommended to me and this has been no different during my pregnancy. So far, I have made the decision to have the flu jab and a few weeks ago I had my Whooping Cough, Polio, Tetanus and Diphtheria vaccines. Over the years this subject has surfaced in both national news as well as all over social media attracting some rather divided opinions. Some parents arguing it causes long term health damage and others arguing that the disease the vaccination is created to prevent is far worse than any side effect. The biggest cases claim that vaccinations can cause autism – this is a serious subject and one that could easily sway a decision. With so much advice, let’s have a look at some discussions, including my own personal reasons for and against vaccinating your children.

Whilst looking for some online discussions, I came across ‘www.vaccines.procon.org'(1) an American website that set out a table for the pros and cons of vaccinations. Clearly marking out each side of the argument, the pros list contained points about ‘vaccines can save children’s lives’, ‘vaccines protect future generations’ and ‘vaccines eradicated smallpox and have nearly eradicated other diseases such as polio’ – a very strong set of arguments in my eyes. Whereas on the other hand, the cons list argues that ‘vaccines can cause serious and sometimes fatal side effects’, ‘vaccines are unnatural, and natural immunity is more effective than vaccination’ as well as ‘diseases that vaccines target have essentially disappeared’. As someone who had a family member die from a disease that we now vaccinate worldwide I can honestly say the stories from their battle was enough to make my decision very clear. In the 1950’s there were 45,000 cases of Polio in the UK (2) and my Great Uncle John was one of them.

In 1955, John contracted Polio aged just 7. Contracted in a local swimming pool, John’s illness was originally confused for pneumonia. He spent years in and out of several hospitals such as Royal Gwent in Newport from the age of 7 to 14 and St Laurence Hospital in Chepstow where he spent 4 of his years. During this, for a time my Papy and Great Auntie Lesley weren’t allowed to go to school as no-one was sure whether Polio was contagious. He was moved out of public school and attended a special school where he passed a handful of ‘O-levels’ and was even Head Boy! As this was during a time where the Polio vaccination was not an available option, John’s illness was tragically unavoidable and painful for this family and friends around him. John spent most of his years in a wheelchair after becoming paralysed from the neck down and for a time had to breathe with the aid of the iconic ‘Iron Lung’. For John, Polio led to developing epilepsy which eventually lead to his death at just 25 years old.

It’s no surprise that losing a sibling has affected my Papa all his life and he never fails to talk ever so fondly of John before his illness with the everlasting reminder to ‘be patient when people are unwell’. John would have been 70 this year and despite my Papy having an enormous understanding, patience and awareness of illness, it all came at a heartbreaking price. With this in always in mind, my Mother has chosen to channel all her energy outside of work to volunteering with Rotary, who regularly raise money to help fund Polio drops in the fight to eradicate the disease worldwide.

Aside from the personal reasons for vaccinating, as a mother-to-be, I often stop to think about life beyond the world of my unborn child. Illness is something that can be easily spreadable by accident, especially among those who haven’t been vaccinated. Now I know there is a chance that it never happens to my child, that they might never encounter anyone who has these any of these illnesses but what happens if my child contracts one of those diseases? What care is available to them? Is that illness even treatable? The questions that fill my mind are endless. Vaccinated or not, you are still at risk of picking up the infection or disease but that vaccination could be the difference between life and death. This has been a very tough subject to talk about and not a light-hearted one at all but has become something I have come to feel very strongly about and will always be a topic that will be related to pregnancy.

To leave on a positive here are some sentimental photograph of my Papa and Great Uncle growing up.

papy-john

I know today has been a little more of a serious subject than normal but thank you for sticking with me.

One Curious Mother x

 

Bibliography/Website links:

  1. http://vaccines.procon.org/
  2. http://www.bbc.co.uk/insideout/east/series1/post-polio-syndrome.shtml