Robbed

I was catching up with an old friend today, and conversation turned to my now sizeable bump and the news we had yesterday about needing a caesarean birth. I heard myself saying that I felt robbed. It made me catch my breath for a moment, as I hadn’t really realised how I feel.

I have been robbed of so much this last year or two. I’ve been robbed of three babies who should be here in my arms, taking their first steps.

I have been robbed of a ‘normal’ pregnancy, this one has featured so much more fear and anxiety than joy, as even now I don’t completely trust we are having a baby.

Because of the eclampsia and miscarriages, I have been robbed of a ‘normal’ package of pregnancy care package. Instead I have had appointment after appointment after appointment. Consultants, midwives, doctors, nurses…so many of them.

It isn’t that I am not grateful for the care because I am. But I would like to not have to fit two or three appointments into one day and miss work and remember which set if notes to take or who wants what from me.

And now…to crown it all, it feels like I have been robbed of the birth that I wanted so very much. I realise how lucky we are to have access to what will be life saving surgery…but I feel robbed.

It is funny how sometimes we don’t know the truths ourselves, and then it comes out if our mouths as though someone else is saying it.

Advertisements

The First Sweetpea of Summer

Mum came to visit today, to look after Jessica while I went to hospital for an antenatal appointment. I love the time they spend together. Jessica is so absorbed when she is with Grandma. Last week they made stuffed dates together. Mum removed the stones, Jessica remembered what to do from last time, and spent an hour rolling the marzipan and stuffing the dates.

This time I came back to find her deeply absorbed in the most beautiful picture she has drawn so far. She was drawing and colouring ponds, and then adding duck stickers to them. She proudly showed me some sewing she had done on plastic canvas. Oh my, my little girl sewing!

Mum had brought her over some stickers and a shiny apple, and the first Sweetpea from her garden. I love having a mum like this, and I love having a little girl who loves being given a sweet pea for her bedside table.

Along the back of the houses in our terrace, between the houses and the gardens runs a pathway. There are men digging it up to replace a water pipe this week. Jessica asked if she could have a look at what they were doing. I went out with her and she asked if they would like a cool drink, and then went inside and poured them one, took it back out and gave it to them. She makes my heart melt at times.

Although she is a delightfully thoughtful child as kind as can be, she is still four and as such her emotions and reactions are not fully developed yet. For the most part this is fine, but sometimes it causes us both tears. This evening after dinner and her bath, I phoned her Nanny to let her know how our hospital appointment had gone. While I was on the phone, she started trying to crawl up my skirt. I moved her away several times, gently. Then she sat at the other end of the sofa and started kicking her legs. I asked her to be careful of my tummy. She then started to poke my tummy with her feet, and then accidentally kicked me.

I was not as gentle as I wish I had been, but in honesty, being kicked in the tummy while pregnant does invoke a certain response. I told her firmly no, no she must NOT kick me, and I pushed her legs (gently away). She hates being pushed in any way, and I didn’t do it to upset her, just to get her feet away from my tummy. She went behind the door and sobbed. Oh I felt awful. We had a cuddle and a talk, but she was quite dejected.

For all they can be boisterous and bumptious they are fragile little souls, so easily crushed, and I hate it when this happens. She went to bed after a story and cuddles, and I reminded her that even when we are cross we still always love her.

Today at the hospital did not bring the news I was hoping for. The good news is that baby is happy and healthy. The bad news is that I have a grade 4 placenta previa, which means a caesarean birth is our only option. (While I absolutely advocate mothers choices in birth, if we chose to try for a vaginal delivery, there is no guarantee that either of us would survive. If I start to dilate, it will tear the placenta open, leading to massive haemorrhaging. In these circumstances, I feel I cannot choose anything other than a caesarean.)

I had desperately hoped for a natural birth this time. I feel partly so lucky that we have been diagnosed and have options open to us, and I understand what a privilege this is. But….oh it isn’t the path I wanted, not at all.

There is a real risk I will be put on early bed rest too. If I go into labour spontaneously, I will need an immediate emergency caesarean.

It feels like I am writing about someone else’s life here. I am trying to keep in mind that when I lost the babies, I would have given anything to be 32 weeks pregnant, and wouldn’t have cared less how the babies were delivered if it meant keeping them. 

Oddly, I feel that I would never judge another woman for having or needing a caesarean, but I feel such a failure. It takes me so long to conceive, I have lost three, and it seems I am incapable of giving birth. It makes me feel less. 

After tonight, I’ll try to focus on the positives, to plan for a family centered caesarean (I’ve already asked for skin to skin and the drapes to be lowered so we can watch her being born). I’ll try not to be scared that in six weeks she could be here, and we aren’t prepared at all. Our house move is going slowly, this house isn’t packed up…so much to do, and I have less and less energy each day. 

It will all come to be, but until then, my head is starting to feel a little foggy at the thought of it all.

The hot weather isn’t helping! Today has been sweltering, and more to come is predicted. 

Simple Childhood

Sometimes the little everyday things make my heart ache with the loveliness of them, other times with exhaustion of them.

Last night through a series of unfortunate circumstances, we had a very overtired and hungry girl on our hands. I was relieved for us both when she fell asleep almost as soon as her head hit the pillow.

This morning, she is a different child. Happy and carefree. We have come to the soft play round the corner, as I had read they have a bouncy castle today. She has brought a little soft toy cat with her, and has carried her everywhere. She has bounced and bounced, curls flying, laughing, gleeful.

Just now she ran up to me and said ‘Mummy mummy, they have painting inside and I want to do painting!’.

How lovely to be able to say ‘off you go then’ and off she went like the wind.

By keeping our days simple, her toys simple, our lives simple, I find her wants and needs to be relatively few. There are days when I feel worn down by her energy and quickness of mind, wanting to play this and then that, but in the scheme of things, she is good company and a busy little soul.

Yesterday we went for a walk through the woods. She spotted a squirrel before either of us did, and pointed out the foxgloves. She drew arrows on the dusty road with a stick, and presented us with treasured she had found…a pebble and a pinecone.

Interestingly, although we try and keep screen time to a minimum, and favour CBeebies (no adverts) I notice that when she has watched something on a channel with adverts, she will tend to say ‘I would like a description of the item‘ so I am glad we expose her to as few adverts as we can.

When we move, our kitchen and dining room will be on the ground floor, and the living room and tv will be on the middle floor. We’ve already decided that a ‘no food upstairs’ rule makes sense to us. I am looking forward to reducing the tv time even more.

As our new garden is enclosed, I love that I will be able to let her play out there while I make dinner or wash up.

Although I feel sad for a lot of the endings our move will bring about, I am also really excited for all the bew beginnings.

When we turned out the loft at the weekend, we got rid of lots of things and rediscovered some lovely treasures too. We still have lots of work to do, but I am enjoying doing it bit by bit.

Rolling Up Our Sleeves

Suddenly, we find ourselves at 31 weeks pregnant, and imminently moving house. Our solicitor says that it could all change, but 5 weeks or so could see us collecting the keys to our new home.

Gosh, there is a lot to do first!

And I have definitely reached the round of belly, swollen of foot and sore of back stage of pregnancy (all the while being incredibly grateful for every discomfort because it means actually being pregnant).

At the midwife this week, she felt my tummy and said the jabby movements I’ve been getting in a certain spot are a pair of feet. Feet! Oh my…an actual baby with actual feet. I haven’t really and truly really dared to hope or believe we will actually take home a baby this time. Baby has been more of an abstract thought than a reality. And now she has a pair of feet. It suddenly all feels more real.

So, baby must have a home as must we, and so we must get on with decluttering and clearing out so we move with only what we really need or want. Today Jessica is playing at ananny’s house to give us a chance to roll up our sleeves and get stuck in. I’ve done the bathroom and started the dining room, but today we tackle the loft. Oh there is some work to be done there! When we moved here, anything we didn’t have room for or a use for went into the loft, with the intention of it being unpacked and sorted out ‘later’. You can probably guess how that went!

I’m a little frustrated not to be able to get up there and do as much as I want but Carl is being very firm about things. Still, I am all dressed for the work at hand. Nightie, cardie, red lipstick, and Rosie the riveter style headband. (Excuse the I brushed hair!)

  

Breakfast

Most mornings are slow and gentle here. We do have a couple where we need to be out for preschool and work, but mostly they unfold gently. I find myself thinking a lot about how things are going to change soon, with a new home, with a new baby, with school on the horizon. I’m trying to enjoy things as they are as much as I can,mbut often there is a little whisper in the back of my mind reminding me that soon this will have passed.

I start by coming downstairs to find a cup of tea by the kettle. One of the many lovely things dear Carl does for me every day, and always much appreciated. I make up his lunch, sometimes with help from Jessica, and then when he has gone to work, we turn our attention to our breakfast.

This morning Jessica asked for a poached egg and soldiers. She goes through phases, and we haven’t had a poached egg phase for a while now! She tends to be hungry in the mornings, and eats less as the day goes on, and it isn’t unusual to follow up her breakfast with another one, or even another! 

I didn’t fancy poached eggs this morning, so I boiled mine whilst hers poached. One thing which has changed since I was pregnant with Jessica is that then we were advised not to eat runny yolks, but now, as long as they come from a lion stamped egg, it is fine. I love a dippy yolk and soldiers, so welcome news indeed for me.

I’ve got Darjeeling tea which came from a friend, from Buckingham Palace, and I am about to have a slice of toast with marmalade to follow.

I’m reading The Fair Miss Fortune by D E Stevenson, and managed to fit in a few pages whilst breakfast was cooking. I’m feeling a real pull towards D E Stevenson (she wrote the wonderful Miss Buncle’s Book and the sequels) and Joanna Trollope and Rosamonde Pilcher just now. I feel like I need the relatively simple stories of domestic life. The homes sound so comfortable, and the writers understand the importance of homemaking.

I suspect it is the dismantling and packing up of this home, the making of a new home, the new routines and rhythms that will come with the move and the new baby. We’ve started decluttering so packing will be easier. I find it hard to part with things. I love how it feels to have shed some excess belongings, and how tidy things are afterwards…but I don’t love the process or the thought of it. I am trying to think of it as curating

Every time I have a waver or a wobble, I try and think about the homes described in the novels I am reading. There are no wobbly wobbly piles of magazines or books mentioned, or Tupperware avalanches!

This evening I am helping at a special WI meeting. We are hosting a group of local WIs, and our theme is Sufragette. We are serving tea and a ploughman’s supper. Part of me is daunted by the thought if a day at work and then an evening of work, I get so tired these days. But I love the WI being part of the fabric of my life. I’m so glad I joined. 

A Woman’s Right

I’m wide awake as an hour and a half ago, Jessica came into our bed. When she was smaller we could happily cosleep, but she is just too big now (or our bed is too small!) As well as the wriggles and kicks, she lays and strokes me which is on one hand endearing, but on the other makes it impossible to sleep. She can’t sleep either, so we all wake up tired and grumpy.

So after an hour, I gently took her back to her room, remade her bed, sprayed her pillow with lavender, and snuggled her down with her sleep music cd.

But me, I am wide awake. I’ve had a bowl of cereal and a quick peek at instagram. Flicked to the bbc news website, where I found a story ‘Women’s Right To Bottle Feed’ and I find it SO disappointing.

I’m not suggesting for one minute that women don’t have the right, of course they do, but actually the baby surely also has rights, as do breastfeeding women.

Considering that at the age of 6 months fewer than 1% of mothers are exclusively breastfeeding (which is one of the lowest rates in a developed country) I can’t help but think it isn’t the bottle feeding mothers who need their rights protecting so much as the breastfeeding mothers.

I’ve never read a news story about a woman being made or asked to bottle feed her baby in a toilet, to leave to feed their baby, or anything similar. Sadly the same is not true for breastfeeding mothers.

Of course every choice which is safe for the baby should be resepcted, but there is a massive job of work to do to support mothers who want to to be able to breastfeed, to persuade mothers to give it a try. I don’t know of any bottle feeding friend who has chosen it as they think it is the best choice for them and their baby.

I do know a lot of bottle feeding friends who feel they ‘failed’ at breastfeeding, who turned to the bottle when they had problems breastfeeding and didn’t get enough or any support.

Tongue tie causes massive issues, but the NHS is not brilliant at diagnosing or rectifying it. A few brief visits from a health visitor isn’t enough when you are exhausted, hormonal, and stressed to be able to be given the necessary help.

I had a nightmare establishing breastfeeding. I was given massive doses of intavenous valium to stop my eclamptic fits post birth, and had to wait for it to leave my system before I could breastfeed. Every feed left me in pain with a burning sensation. The health visitor referred me to my gp (a bus ride away). The gp referred me back to my health visitor. On and on it went.

Weeks later, after crying after most feeds, my own research suggested one of the drugs I had been put on for the eclampsia could cause this. Once it was out of my system, the pain vanished.

I was so lucky to have several friends who had successfully breastfed who were generous with their time and advice. I breastfed to 26 months in spite of the NHS support, not because of it.

With this in mind, with the undisputable fact that successfully eatablished breastfeeding is best for the mother and baby in terms of health benefits….I really think time and energy is being misplaced here.

If women can’t breastfeed, if they have made a fully informed choice not to, of course it is their absolute right to do that. But a camaign to state the obvious, which supports 99% of feeding mothers seems so misplaced to me. What about the 1%? How about support for all feeding mothers?

How about helping those who want to to breastfeed? To continue the work to protect our legal rights to feed wherever we need to? To not be sniped at online? I have seen a lot of unkindness aimed at breastfeeders online, using terms such as ‘smug’ ‘holier than thou’ ‘breastfeeding police’. In hindsight I guess some of this comes from bad feelings about their own journey. It feels like it is often assumed that those of us who breastfeed find it easy (it really isn’t always) and those who don’t can’t (some people can’t it is true, but not 99%). We ALL need support to achieve the feeding journey we want and to make peace with the feeding path we end up on. We should be on paths of our informed choosing, not those that we end up on through circumstance.

I hope to live to see a generation where breastfeeding is normalised and supported (being natural doesn’t make it easy) and where the baby’s right to breastfeeding is considered alongside the mother’s rights too.

If by any chance anyone reading this is pregnant and thinking about breastfeeding, please give it a try. Read up, sign up for classes, look online at facebook pages like The Milk Meg. Write down the number of the free NCT breastfeeding helpline (yoi dont have to be a member to use it and it is staffed by volunteer Mums who have breastfed). See if you have a local La Leche League. Get yourself all the support you can. If it is hard, and it can be at first, push for the support you need. If you are reading this and you ended up bottle feeding because you had problems, and especially if you didn’t have support, I am so sorry that happend to you. If you are reading this and you made a fully informed decision to bottle feed your child, well done for making the choice that was best for your circumstances. We are all mothers doing the best we can for our children.

And if you are reading this with an aching heart, because you wish that how to feed your baby was a decision that you had to make, if you have lost a baby or struggled to conceive, please know I am holding a special place for you in my heart.

I usually post about lighter topics, but this is really important to me. No judgement on anyone from me. I once read a lovely quote online, I can’t remember it word for word, but it went along the lines of ‘I don’t care what choice you made. I do care that you were given all the information you needed to make that choice and that you were supported and respected once you had made it’.

This, for me, in all things. How you feed, how you vote, how you eat, how you live. (Except for how you eat your scone – jam first then cream always!)

A Little Break From Routine

Today Monday started as many of our Mondays do, with making lunch for a Daddy, breakfast for us, and the. Setting out to meet a friend and her sweet little girl at the library. Today though, where we would usually come home for lunch, we decided to have lunch out, as I had a midwife appointment at our surgery which meant we would get home only to have turn around and go back out again.

Oh my, but it is hot here! I sweltered to the library, and sweltered to the midwife. My blood pressure is up but is still in the healthy range. We heard baby’s heartbeat, and the midwife told me the little patch where baby loves to poke and jab most has a little pair of feet nestled there!

On the way home we had to stop for a rest for me and a cold drink for us both. When we got home, Jessica wanted to paint some magnetic tiles she had been given for her birthday. Why not, I thought. She was very careful at not mixing the colours up and wiping her brush clean. I set her up in the kitchen with the back door open for some breeze. She sat absorbed for nearly an hour, and when all the tiles were finished, she asked for some paper. I gave her some and she started with finger prints, quickly progressing to hand prints. Before I knew it, I was faced with this….

    
I had planned to have a cool shower once I got home anyway, and amended my plan to include a cool shower for us both. It took a lot of washing and some Clarins face scrub to get her hands and arms clean!

The bonus is that she now doesn’t need an after dinner bath, which is useful as it is my WI night tonight. Carl would usually bath her, but has horribly sore and blistered hands at the moment, so we are trying to keep them out of water at the minute. 

Although Jessica thrives on routine, sometimes mixing it up just a little is just what the doctor ordered. Now, time for some tea…