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

 

Postpartum Mental Health: How Can We Talk About This?

As mental health awareness week comes to a close, I’ve decided to share this rather personal post with you. I’ve always felt rather alone when it came to understanding and talking about my own mental health but with all the media attention surrounding it of late, it still stands that there can never be enough done to highlight the importance of mental health and well-being. Sharing our experiences in the hope of helping others has become a blooming good start.

Having toyed with the idea of sharing this with you all, I once again find myself thinking that if one person reads this and it helps just one person, then it was worth the vulnerability and honesty of sharing my personal journey. I’ve discussed mental health before; wrote myself a letter in March about things I wish I’d known, things I would tell myself, but I always find that no matter what I would tell myself, I come back to my fears and the anxiety-inducing moments that surround the trauma of childbirth which can creep into the corner of even my sunniest days. When the smallest of thing that can set off a wave of panic, sometimes it’s unavoidable to suppress.

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Newly Dazed

24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year; Motherhood in unapologetically all-consuming but motherhood with mental health challenges is nothing like I expected. After writing our birth story last May and writing a letter last March, I’m now revisiting that day with a different set of eyes whilst looking at the journey that got me here today. As I’ve watched our little man start to grow up, my body and mind have changed. Regularly asked about the possibility of ‘Baby Number Two’, there are countless things I need to face and accept before that thought even enters my anxious brain. Looking back at my last month of pregnancy and Rory’s birth, I’ve struggled to accept the way things panned out.

My pregnancy with Rory wasn’t anything out of the ‘ordinary’. In fact, if you have read any of my previous blogs, I’d say I was rather lucky. I discussed my fortune in having no morning sickness or having any other debilitating symptoms or side effects. This lasted right up until I left work on maternity leave. That week magically flicked a switch and changed everything: I developed PUPPP. Pruritic Urticarial Papules and Plaques of Pregnancy is a nasty condition that develops in late pregnancy (and apparently more common in women having baby boys) and left my skin searing. I was itching with blisters and hives all over and burned at every hour of the day and night. Sleep was a thing of the past and doctors’ appointments became every other day, being tested over and over for Obstetric Cholestasis (a liver condition that can sometimes require induction) which luckily always returned negative results. I was exhausted and getting nervous at this point, I entered my final week of pregnancy feeling and thought was prepared. Still walking a mile or so in the afternoons hoping to induce early labour, I was offered a sweep – I need not go into details but DO NOT DO IT… I’m only joking but, in all seriousness, if ever in a position where this is offered: enter this with caution as at the very least it insanely uncomfortable and incredibly invasive. It was just 3 days later that I went into labour and 5 days later that I had an emergency c-section: the scariest eventuality that I was unprepared for. Leaving me swollen, cut and stitched, in agony and barely mobile, I felt couldn’t help but feel traumatised. How on Earth do you prepare for that!? Unwilling to talk about the event in depth or great detail, it became easy to brush the emotional side under the carpet and focus on my physical recovery which became unbearably tough on its own. It took me a good 5 months to realise how I truly felt about Rory’s birth.

Whilst speaking with a health visitor and NHS maternity service worker just last week, I found myself still feeling overpoweringly conscious of what I had been through. Without a doubt, I always find myself referring to how much worse it could have been or how there are women every day who face far worse but for me but I can’t help but linger on the single thing haunting what should be one of my happiest memories: it is the pure fact I was astronomically unprepared for a birth like that. My mind forever replays a scene from one of my favourite films, ‘About Time‘, during these moments. In a scene involving an accident that the main character Tim tries to change, he narrates a quote from a song by Baz Luhrmann called ‘Sunscreen‘: ‘He says worrying about the future is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life will always be things that never crossed your worried mind’ …No matter how hard I try, I’m still the one starring at the equation chewing that gum.

When I first opened up to a health visitor about how I felt, I was afraid what she would think of me. Mental health issues are associated with weakness but it takes incredible strength to face such inner battles. As I eased into talking about how I’d been feeling after surgery and how I’d coped with accepting the birth, PTSD was brought up. Always the person to think ‘but I haven’t been to war,’ or ‘I don’t live in a war zone‘, I needed to stop being so naive. PTSD isn’t because of a specific type of trauma and it can arrive and linger in many forms. It can be your memories keeping you awake in a cold sweat leaving you terrified to think too deep into what you’ve been through; It can be the very thought of how close to death you came and how it sends the blood rushing through your body, leaving you light headed and nauseous. It’s every time you see your scars, your stomach churns and the thought of how you wanted it to be makes you angry and somewhat irrational about the most basic of activities. It’s all consuming and something I’m now actively working to get through and I’m ok that it may take some time. Turns out the NHS have a fantastic service available where you can go and see specially trained midwives. They can talk you through what you’ve been through and help you process your feelings or fears surrounding your pregnancy, birth or motherhood. I’ll be taking part in a session in the next month and I’m both curious and anxious but hopeful it will help.

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Walking has become the best way to clear my head

Another side of mental health I find challenging is handling my anxiety. As I’ve become less afraid to admit it, it’s become easier to recognise. Postpartum anxiety is something I’ve talked about, previously in the form of separation anxiety and just like most mental health matters, each can take many forms. For me, it’s been an unexplainable jealousy, an underlying bitterness and twisting in the gut. A strange paranoia and relentless envy. It’s restless nights, toxic social media scrolling, actively avoiding every mirror, shop or car window. It’s taking hours to get dressed, noticing every extra stretch mark, wrinkle, crease or fold. It’s nightmares of what could or could’ve happened, the unimaginable and unthinkable. It’s all-around emotion, tears and upset and it’s also easy to slip into covering it up and hiding it far too often. Once again, it has taken me a while to actively seek help. You don’t always recognise it and you don’t always want to speak to those closest to you or anyone at all then there’s the option of medical help. For me, when I’ve seen GP in the past I have always been handed a ‘self-referral’ leaflet. These are without a doubt the most disheartening handout of information to be given when you’re in a doctor’s office trying to explain yourself after it’s taken weeks or even months to get yourself that far. I’ve learned that the doctors were no help, but when I turned to the health visitors, they appeared to be angels in disguise pointing me towards the NHS service I talked about earlier. It’s little steps to help put the pieces back together, to adjust to a new normal and to accept what has happened and move forward.

Our Little Monkey

Becoming a mother can be the hardest but the most rewarding thing you might ever do but you’ll never be the only one doing it. Avoiding being swallowed up in mental health challenged always comes down to being honest with yourself. Even in your darkest hour, only you can start the process of recovery. No matter how many times you try to suppress or hide how you’re feeling or the way you’re thinking, it will only deteriorate. Take charge of your health – it may be completely out of your comfort zone but try your best to reach out, find local groups or speak to your local maternity services. Opening up can be one of the scariest things you can do and yes, it is sometimes so much easier to lie, to really hide how you feel but sharing your experience can kick-start a very important process that will, first of all, help you feel a damn site less alone. Please, if you’re feeling low, sad, feeling like you are struggling, find someone who can help you in whichever form works for you!

As my title ask ‘how can we talk about this’, I’ve come to think the answer is far simpler than we thought. I believe it lies in empowering one another to speak out, share experiences and challenges. It’s guiding each other through difficult times and becoming a support network. We as women, as friends, family, colleagues could and should be supporting each other whatever the cause or type of mental health issue it is. Support is priceless.

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I hope, if you’re looking for help and need assistance, the links below help point you in the right direction and help you start your journey

As always, thank you for reading

Loves to all,

OCM xoxo

Worth The Weight?

 

Talking about weight is always a difficult subject and unfortunately talking about postpartum bodies is no different. Up until recently, it has never been a widely discussed (or accepted) topic. As I felt I needed to tackle some personal issues, I took my time and this has taken me around two months to write with it being nothing short of a challenge. I hoped by writing this, I could help not only myself but other women realise they are not totally alone when feeling like they’re living in someone else body.

It’s a stark reality check when you feel like staring into the eyes of a complete stranger. When you feel like you’re catching someone else’s reflection through a shop window. It’s like staring at someone you think you know, someone you met before in a brief fleeting moment but were never introduced to. They seem familiar. They copy all your actions, they share all your family and friends but to you, they’re unrecognisable. The stark truth is, it’s you and you no longer know you at all. This is the new you you’ll need to learn so much about.

It’s nothing short of a steep up hill struggle learning to accept a body you didn’t mentally prepare for. Let’s face it, between cots and car seats, you totally forgot to entertain the idea that your body would become unfamiliar and no longer be your own. You got whisked away thinking of your new life as a mother (or panicking about the birth) that postpartum you were at the bottom of the list. The reality check is a hard one. You have to stay in maternity clothes. You thought you’d no longer need them but you’ve reached a rather awful stage where your old clothes are still 4 sizes too small. It doesn’t take long before you hit a seemingly never-ending phase of being too big for old clothes and too small for your maternity clothes. THIS is the moment you will need to peel your self esteem out of the puddle of tears you’re floating in at the changing rooms at your local New Look and take some deep breathes: Remember: it won’t be this way forever.

Just when you think things could turn around because quite frankly you couldn’t feel any worse about the new version of you right now, you suddenly remember you have a boyfriend, a husband or a partner. Someone you (once upon a time) shared a close and intimate relationship with – (This is all providing you get 5 minutes peace to breathe of course!) Thoughts WILL enter your mind (despite the fact he probably witnessed you give birth): ‘I need to stay covered up, he absolutely cannot see me naked‘, ‘Oversized clothes should hide my body’, ‘I haven’t showered in days, has he noticed? Truth is he probably sees straight past all of that and sees just you but just how on earth are you supposed to feel comfortable or confident around him if you don’t even recognise yourself?! A swollen face, gorged bust, inflatable stomach – The aftermath of the surgery left me so swollen and it was like each little (or big) stretch mark became another haunting reminder of the limits to which my body has been pushed. Looking at myself I couldn’t see past this oversized version of me: this disproportionate woman clad with stretch marks and an over hanging stomach hiding a deep purple scar, deep down I didn’t want to accept that the once petite, size 10, slightly chubby round the edges gal who used to squeeze her non-boobs into a size 8 has left me. It just seemed so impossible. How was I supposed to bring myself to see our family and friends if I didn’t even feel or look like me? My preconceived (or lack of) ideas of how postpartum life would be really tripped me up at the first hurdle.

I guess I learnt the hard way that movies and social media don’t always help with the portrayal of having a baby. From pregnancy to labour to postpartum, I’ve come to the conclusion that it just can’t be summed up in a single photo or an hour and a half long Hollywood film. With celebrities social media accounts boasting their post-baby bodies with zero stretch marks or a petite frame rocking a petite bump can leave you feeling inferior and less than pleased about how you look. Whilst fully understanding that this image can be totally normal for some women and not for another, I have still hit the harsh reality head on that for me, my body does not look that way and I’ve faced a number of difficulties I would really rather have avoided.

As someone who has struggled on and off with body image since the teen years, not being able to recognise myself in a mirror has been a small dose of hell. With the whole idea of pregnancy and pregnancy related weight gain never bothering me, my mind always found the logical scientific reasoning behind being healthy and gaining weight to support my body through the process of growing a child. The common sense here far outweighed my somewhat irrational issues and helped my mind stay clear and make sense of my ever-changing body. As the first trimester of my pregnancy was too kind to me, I guess I became a little complacent. With barely any side effects, no sickness, very little dizziness, only mild fatigue and a hand full of food diversions, I gained very little extra weight. I realised quite quickly that compared to others and their horror stories, I had it fairly easy.

As my pregnancy progressed, everything remained steady. Little Rory was growing as expected with no signs of foetal issues. My health was in good shape and the only thing I suffered from was minor backache if sat at my office chair too long – nothing a lunch time stroll to get more food couldn’t fix! It wasn’t until week 34 when I began my maternity leave that things became a little difficult for me. Out of the blue I became incredibly itchy. My bump, shins and feet became unbearable to touch and often felt like they were burning. Mild panic broke out when I had gone looking for answers and came across the rare condition known as Obstetric Cholestasis: A liver disease that can develop during pregnancy, increasing the bile acid count to be much higher than it should be. It isn’t always serious but in severe cases, it can cause the development of jaundice and has, in some cases been linked to both premature and stillbirths. It affects around about 1 in 140 pregnancies and can be harmful to both you and your baby. If you do develop this, the only full cure is birth and will therefore be offered an induction usually somewhere between 37 and 38 weeks to help reduce any of the risks. Often medication can be given to help reduce the bile count but birth is much more effective.

Fortunately for me, after many (million) blood tests, my liver was fine but not long after this result I discovered I had developed a lovely little horrific side effect called PEP (Polymorphic eruption of pregnancy). This ruined my skin. Causing wide spread uncontrollable itching and spreading hives all over my newly grown stretch marks, my once smooth pale skin looked unrecognisable. Leaving scars over the worst effected areas, this added salt to the already searing wound, which just added to the explosive stretch marks that had erupted. I felt disgusting but little did I know I’d walk away with a much more permanent feature. Before Rory was finally born via C-section, I had never thought of the possibility of having to live with a scar. I have had moles removed in the past and have a handful of small scars but nothing that noticeable unless pointed out. I had braced myself that I’d have to live with stretch marks but let me tell you: no one in a million years could have mentally prepared me for a permanent scar, dealing with cut tissue, separated muscles or the wonderfully named ‘pouch’ that comes with the surgery. To add insult to serious injury, I came out of surgery unbelievably swollen and puffy. Looking back at photographs, I could barely open my eyes. On a first glance in the mirror after I got dressed for the first time post-op was literally horrifying. How the hell was I supposed to live with this over-hang of belly!? How are any of my clothes ever going to fit me!? And the more important ‘How the hell am I going to be able to get rid of this pouch when I can’t even walk let alone exercise!?’ My self-esteem hit a new depth. Should I have really been that self-centred about my appearance when I had just experienced the miracle of life resulting in a perfect healthy little boy? I’m not entirely sure.

So shall we look at some positive here? Although social media is regularly tarred as fuelling the national level of anxiety, I have recently found it to be my saving grace. Whilst I’ve been writing this there has been an epic explosion of body positivity filling up all of my social media feeds from some of my now favourite bloggers. As another taboo subject on the ever-lasting list of motherhood troubles, it pleases me very much that people of influence are bringing these subjects to light. I now don’t totally feel alone when wondering if I’m the only women ever to have discoloured stretched skin, the only woman to go from an hour glass to a square or the only woman to want to hide in a hole before getting a ‘tummy controlling’ swimsuit on. It’s been a million miles from easy but this has made it a little more possible that I may feel like myself again. I promise you if nothing else, this movement into loving your body will make you forget for a while that you no longer look like you but that deep down it really is you in there and you should feel the utmost pride for the life you have created and what your body has achieved.

It’s clearly no secret that pregnancy and giving birth can take an incredible amount of physical and mental strength so there is nothing more important than supporting each other through our pre and postpartum journeys. Please remember, no matter how you’re feeling, you don’t ever have to feel alone.

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Love to all,

One Curious Mother.

 

Sources:
Obstetric Cholestasishttp://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pages/itching-obstetric-cholestasis-pregnant.aspx
PEPhttp://www.bad.org.uk/shared/get-file.ashx?id=227&itemtype=document

 

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! 

Every Little Kick!

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Please excuse my silence for the past week or so – maternity leave has consumed me and is passing me by at quite some pace. Let’s get this little but very important post started!

This week we have finally started attending our antenatal classes! The youngest, furthest along and one of only a handful who aren’t married; our class is made up of around 18 couples held at our hospital by NHS – these are wonderful as they are absolutely free! The course is split into 3 with the first session being on preparing for labour and a baby. Along with all the usual well known things discussed like getting a hospital bag sorted, relaxation techniques and how to prepare your mind and body for labour, the midwives who led the class touched upon a very vital piece of information for discussion: those baby kicks.

From about 18 to 20 weeks onwards you should begin to feel your baby move. As the weeks go on your baby should be settle into a pattern of movement and counting kicks is all about learning what’s normal for your baby. Long gone are the days where you sit and just count 10, you really need to connect with your babies movements and hone into the pattern your baby moves in. Is it every time you eat or is he/she specific and move at the same time everyday. It used to be advised that if you should have 10 kicks a day but after years of research this is no longer the case any more! With new research and development of science, we now know that each and every baby develops a pattern of kicks and sleep that becomes their little routine. This is why taking time to relax and get to know your unborn baby is so important. The NHS talk about the importance of kick counting being linked to prevention of still birth and can be a useful tool when predicting if your baby is unwell.

What should you do when you think baby has reduced movement or you notice you haven’t felt them move in a while? Start by asking yourself these questions:

  • How many weeks along am I in my pregnancy?
  • Have I been rushing around?
  • Have I had anything to eat or drink yet today?
  • When is the last time I remember feeling any movement?

Let’s take a deep breath and a bit of a rain check! Start by sitting down. Get a glass of cold water and get something to eat. Relax and put your feet up or if you’ve been sitting down for a long time, maybe take a walk to the kitchen, make a drink and sit down and concentrate on those movements. It’s recommended you do this for an hour or two and make a note of the outcome. There are a few old wives tales that do the round but please please remember that it is NOT TRUE that a baby slows down as you get closer to your due date! Brush up on busting those myths as these will help you learn exactly what to look for. There are a few websites that I have come across with great guidelines for how to kick count and what to do if you’re concerned. These can be found at the bottom of my post under ‘Sources’. In addition to this, luckily in this day and age with a multitude of electronic devices, there are a few apps you can download for this. Please see some examples below:


So when should you call the midwife or the Women’s Day Assessment Unit?
If you have done these things suggested and you haven’t counted 10 kicks over a 2 hour period then it is advised that you call your midwife or local Women’s Day Assessment Unit. DO NOT wait until the next day and NEVER EVER think you’re wasting their time or that it’s not worth it – you are not and it 100% is! It is exactly what they’re there for; Their job is to help you through your pregnancy, monitor your baby progress and make sure everything is all well and healthy.

Now speaking from experience, this has happened to me a handful of times. Where little man hasn’t been very active for a while, I have followed the suggested guidelines and ended up calling my local Women’s Day Unit at Great Western Hospital which luckily for me is only about 15/20 minute away. The midwives that I have met each time have been absolutely fantastic! Straight away I’ve been allocated a bed, asked a few questions about my pregnancy so far and then hooked up to a monitor. I’m very fortunate that every thing has been perfectly fine each time but despite having been more than once, I would not hesitate to go again if I ever felt anything different or abnormal. The key really is knowing what is normal for you. For us, 10 kicks over a day would definitely have not be enough. Our little man’s patterns are very scheduled; he moves after I get up for a wee in the morning, he always moves after drink or food and is his busiest (or most noticeable) whilst watching television or relaxing in the evening. Counting Kicks has definitely helped me bond with my unborn baby and I am 100% in tune with him now I’ve reached 35 weeks!

Please if you find you’re having a quiet day, don’t wait! Do use the links at the bottom of this post to help you as I have found they’ve really helped me. If you do have a moment please watch this video made by Tommys and supported by NHS & Kicks Count

One Curious Mother x

Sources:
Top Image: All copyright to One Curious Mother
App Images: Screenshots courtesy of Apple App Store / 1: Kicks Count – Free // 2: Baby Kicks Tracker – Free/Full Version £0.99
http://www.whh.nhs.uk/_store/documents/yourbabysmovementsinpregnancyleaflet.pdf

http://www.nhs.uk/video/Pages/how-often-should-my-unborn-baby-move.aspx

http://www.kickscount.org.uk/mums/your-babys-movements/
https://www.fitpregnancy.com/pregnancy/pregnancy-health/importance-counting-kicks-during-pregnancy

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! 

tommee-tippee-dummies-asda

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!

 tommee-tippee-bottle-tesco

 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!

tommee-tippee-manual-breast-pump-boots

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

bm-miosolo-reusable-nappy-boots

 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

miosolo-reusable-nappy-aldi

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! 

mamas-papas-bouncer

 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/