Sunday, 4 June 2017

Baby Sensory: A first look


Last week, we attended our first Baby Sensory class and *spoiler alert* we LOVED it. It was so much better than I had anticipated and was so glad I kicked myself up the bum and went along. I even almost cried during the session... Yup. All positives here, not like me is it?

However, the lead up to the class wasn't all that great (Yup - I didn't let you down with the negativity and general Ayse moaning).

Noah was up most of the night just screaming the house down. He wouldn't settle for anything. We rocked him. We gave him a dummy. We changed his nappy. We fed him. We soothed him. We played white noise. We winded him. We tried every position under the sun but he just wasn't having it. Eventually, he tired himself out so much that he drifted off to sleep. To then wake up an hour later for his feed. Obviously.

So, it was safe to say, I was knackered and so was Noah. But the crying didn't stop there. He screamed all morning while I tried to get us both ready and out the door for my doctors appointment at 10:30 am.

When we arrived at the doctors, they were running a little late and Noah was still very unhappy and by the time I was called in for my appointment, it was feed time. This meant Noah was not going to settle for anything. He screamed throughout my appointment meaning me and the doctor didn't really get to talk about my 6 week postpartum check up and instead he checked Noah over and gave us some medicine to try.  So we left with a prescription and hope that Noah would start feeling better. I'll probably talk about this later when we actually have a positive diagnosis.

Now it was time to get to the baby sensory class which was due to begin at 11 am, but Noah needing feeding and a nappy change. This riddled me with so much anxiety. Where would I change him? Would he cry in the class and everyone would moan? Would I be able to feed him there? Am I going to be late? I very nearly drove home, but I told myself that the first time will always be scary and if I don't do this now, I never will. And surely, everyone there has felt like this before?

I drove to the venue, which was only down the road, and because it was such a hot day and I still had some time before the class began, I decided to feed him in the car with the air con on. He calmed right down. Now it was time to go to the class and find somewhere to change his nappy!

First of all, I couldn't find the entrance. So I panicked and was looking around when I *thank god* saw another mummy with her baby. I called out to her and asked where the entrance to the class was. She very bluntly told me where to go. More anxiety filled me. I walked in and the room was full of mummy's and babies. I didn't know where to go!

I saw two women in the corner who looked about my age so I walked over and said hi. They responded with a smile and looked away and talked amongst themselves. Even more anxiety filled me.

I sat on a chair on my own with Noah and looked around to see if there was a changing mat or area they keep for changing nappies. The class leader then came over to see Noah and I and explained the class. She was really loved and reassured me about the class and I was now beginning to feel excited. I found the changing mat and changed Noah's nappy. We were now both ready for the fun to begin!

I sat around the circle and placed Noah on the blanket. A lady with her 4-month old then came in and sat beside us and said hi - finally I wasn't completely alone and had someone friendly to talk to. The anxiety completely lifted and I let myself really enjoy the class with Noah.


So what did we get up to in the first class?


The "Hello" song

The "Hello" song plays at the beginning of every class and all the mum's started singing and signing the song to their babies. Noah actually cried throughout the song so I picked him up to soothe him, but it was great to see all the other mummy's joining in and the babies enjoying it. By the end of the song, Noah was settled and happy, so I put him back on the blanket.

The first activity



We were each handed a hand bell for us and a rattle bell for the babies to hold. Firstly, I put the bell in Noah's hand and he gripped onto it really tight and didn't let go (until he was taken off of him at the end of the activity - which the class leader was very surprised at for his age!). I shook his hand and he was looking at the bell making the noise. Next, I shook my bell in front of him, to the left and to the right. He looked at wherever the bell was most of the time - which was the first thing to almost bring me to tears. I felt so insanely proud of him. We then rung the bells at same time, which produced quite a racket! I thought Noah would get overwhelmed by this, but he loved it!

The second activity



We were handed four different coloured balls. The aim was to see which colour ball the babies were attracted to by looking at their eyes or if they reached out for one. Obviously, only being 6 weeks old, Noah didn't really look particularly at any one. So I selected a colour. And this is where I almost cried again. He reached out for the ball!! He held it in his hand. And didn't let it go for a good while. He was shaking his hand around and watching it with his eyes. He then started smiling and giggling a little! I didn't think he'd even be able to hold a ball?! So, I got a bit overwhelmed!!

Free-play and break

It was now time for a 10-15 minute break where mummy's fed their babies, changed their nappies or played with them. There was a pool with balls, cushions and soft toys in the middle (mainly for the older babies who could sit up) and there were baskets with books and toys all around the room. I put Noah on his belly and was talking, showing him colours in a book and shaking a rattle. We also had a little cuddle as he had the hiccups and sicked up a little bit. But overall, he was still really happy and settled.

The third activity


We were each handed some colourful ribbon which we waved above the babies heads as they laid on their backs. I tickled Noah's hand with the ribbon to encourage him to reach out. The class leader then came around with bubbles, which was so lovely. At this point, Noah was getting a bit tired and kept yawning so he wasn't really focusing much on the bubbles or the ribbon. But he was still content and happy.

The final activity

We all sat around in the middle with our babies on our laps facing outward. Together we bounced an air ball in the air (which gave us a lovely breeze in the hot weather!) and watched the babies faces as it went up and down. Noah was really focusing on the ball and smiling, it was wonderful.

The "Goodbye" song

The goodbye song played so I cuddled Noah in the hope he may fall asleep, but instead he started getting a bit ratty. I tried to join in the song, waving to Noah and saying "ssh". Noah calmed down by the end of the song and once I put him in his car seat, he had fallen asleep.



Overall, my first experience was full of positivity and I will definitely be going back again and again. The best part of all (well not the best, but a great added bonus!), we got home and Noah was so knackered that he slept all afternoon, just waking up for feeds. This is a pretty big deal for a baby who hardly sleeps unless he is being cuddled.  

Next week, it's music therapy and painting! I'm so excited and not anxious at all. Well, that's a lie. I'm anxious for different reasons. What do we wear if we're going to be possibly (very likely) covered in paint!?

Aah, you'll never take the worrier out of me. Have you ever taken your baby to baby sensory? I'd love to hear about your experiences!
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Thursday, 1 June 2017

How I bounced back postpartum (no fad-diets here)


Please don't hate me - but this post is probably quite deceiving because I actually didn’t do anything to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight I literally just “bounced” back. I wanted to document it because it’s different for every woman out there. Some women spend months or even years trying to lose their baby weight, others don’t put on any pregnancy weight and then there’s me.

I put on 2 stone in pregnancy. I went from 7 stone when I was 10 weeks pregnant to 9 stone 2 lbs by my due date. I truly hated it. I felt fat from the start. I remember complaining I was fat at 12 weeks pregnant and that was nothing on my weight at the end of pregnancy. I’ve always struggled with a negative body image, so my changing pregnancy body was a bit of an emotional and psychological battle for me. 


As soon as I found out I was pregnant, I kind of just started eating like a pig. Instead of taking a healthy lunch to work, I'd buy it most days. I'd have one or two chocolate bars most days and I really wasn't healthy at all. As soon as I went into the second trimester however, I'd almost gained a stone so I decided to get back to eating healthily again. The weight was going on very slowly at this point, until Christmas and the third trimester hit.

I was constantly hungry and craving junk food like donuts and chocolate, so I decided to just let myself enjoy the food I was craving. It was an emotional battle sometimes, but I was adamant I could easily lose the weight once I'd had Noah (I didn't realise just quite how easily!). But as my due date approached, I was really struggling with my physical appearance. I felt huge. Yet, I still couldn't stop eating loads because I was just so, so hungry.

So I was extremely surprised that once I had Noah, I was back to me, basically. I mean look at the photo, my belly wasn’t huge, but it was a fair size. Noah also wasn’t huge at 6 lbs 11 oz, but he was a good size (I was 11 days overdue however so he had extra time to cook!). So the weirdest thing of all (and was commented on my family and friends) was how, the second I gave birth to Noah, my belly had gone. 

It had completely gone. There was no bump and there was very little sag. It was almost like my pre-pregnancy belly was back?! It was really hard for me. I was emotional because even at that point, I missed my belly. It was truly the weirdest feeling in the world. I couldn’t stand up because that just intensified that feeling and I felt sick. It was a real struggle. And it honestly took me about a week to get used to it.


(These pictures were taken the day after I gave birth)

A few days after birth, I decided to hop on the scales to see what the damage was and I was pleasantly surprised! I’d basically lost all of my pregnancy weight?! How did that happen? I guess it was all baby? But, I mean, even my legs felt slimmer. It was truly odd. But I suppose I hadn’t eaten properly for a week (from the Friday when I started experiencing the contractions) and I felt sick for a good few days once Noah was home and couldn't stomach much food.  

Here I am, 6 weeks later and I’ve a lost a few extra lbs and my belly has tightened up a little bit. I'm pretty happy.



I’m hoping to start exercising again soon, when I find the time, energy and motivation. Me and Noah have both been poorly the past week so I haven't started yet. But one day soon I'm hoping to start doing some sit ups and bits and bobs to tone up a little.

Eventually I'll be going back to following Cassey Ho’s Blogilates routines on YouTube. I absolutely adore her and her routines are perfect for people with a busy schedule (which is a definite yes when you have a newborn). She mixes Pilates and Cardio to create a monthly plan of fun, heart-pumping routines. There are some HIIT workouts in there - which are great because if you have no time to exercise, they really get your heart-pumping just for 5 minutes. So you don't have to strictly follow the plan, just pick some videos that you have time to do that day. She also has a beginner’s calendar and normal calendar which is really useful if you’ve been out of the game for a while (like me!)


I’m excited and motivated to make my body stronger, healthier and *sexier* than it was before I had Noah. Eep!

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Sunday, 28 May 2017

Noah at 6 weeks old


6 weeks. God, how that time has flown by but at the same time, I feel like he’s been in our lives forever and I can’t remember life before he arrived. It’s been a tough 6 weeks, with adjusting to parenthood and all the different issues and concerns we have had with Noah. But all in all, it’s been an amazing start to our adventure as a family and I can’t wait to see how he changes and develops over the next coming weeks, months and years.


Weight

He currently weights 4 kg or 8.8 lbs and is still in newborn clothes (up to 7.5 lbs), but is almost starting to fit into some up to 1 month clothes. He is on 4 oz of milk every 3-4 hours, so should keep piling on those cute little pounds.


Routine

He’s really settling into his routine and is getting to know it well. Only a few days ago, his feeds were a bit all over the place and he fed at 6 pm, but actually cried for his food at 7:30 pm after his bath because he knows that he usually has his milk at this time! (And mummy wasn’t going to give it to him…Oops) So, at the moment his routine is based loosely around this:

  • 7-8am: We wake up, have cuddles, put on fresh clothes and feed
  • Nap time (while mummy has a shower and tidies up a bit)
  • 10:30-11 am: Feed
  • Play time
  • Nap or out and about
  • 1:30-2 pm: Feed
  • Play time
  • Nap time (usually in baby carrier if won’t settle)
  • 4:30-5 pm: Feed
  • 7 pm: Bath time
  • 7:15 pm: Baby massage, fresh clothes for the night and swaddle
  • 7:30 pm: Milk and bedtime story
  • He usually wakes up between 11-12 pm for a dream feed and then another at around 4-5 pm, but it's obviously not the same every night at this stage!


Sleep

I’d love to sleep he’s sleeping amazingly, but he’s not. He seems to battle with himself to stay awake some nights and refuses to lie on his back. I end up having to cuddle him to sleep in the early hours of the morning otherwise he just screams the house down. He usually has his best streak after bath time and settles really well. But really, it all depends at the moment, there’s no “usual” sleep behaviour. The last few days, he's been really bad and seems to wake up crying, or I should really say, screaming, and nothing we do seems to settle him. This means he's very ratty during the day and just wants to be cuddled. I'm hoping it's just the growth spurt he's going through or maybe reflux, which we've got some new medicine for. I'm not too sure yet!

During the day, he usually naps really well in the morning in his rocker while I shower (apart from the past few days, where he's been bad at this time too). After that, we’ll either go out or he’ll go in the carrier for a little while. I’ve found putting him on his belly for some naps has helped a lot because he can sleep happy and I can closely monitor him.

He usually naps for anywhere between 20 minutes to 2 hours on his belly and anywhere up to 3 hours in the carrier.


Milestones

  • Smiling a lot more and starting to giggle
  • Make noises other than crying – like cooing as if we are having a little conversation
  • Looking around at bright toys
  • Looking at me when I’m talking to him
  • Reaching out for his rattle, grabbing it and shaking it
  • Recognising different voices
  • Putting his hands in his mouth
  • Lifting his head off the floor and looking around when on his tummy
  • Stepping a lot of his feet and bearing quite a bit of weight on them


What he likes (in my head anyway!)

  • Warm baths! He absolutely loves bath time
  • Bum massages – even lifting his bum so you can provide a really good massage (I know, it's a weird one?)
  • Cuddles and being held - by literally anyone, which is a good sign that he isn't going to be shy like mummy was!! 
  • Being bounced - either in his rocker or in my arms
  • When the muslin goes over his body (because he knows milk is coming!)
  • Sitting up and playing with mummy
  • Reaching out and holding mummy's hands
  • His dummy (occasionally)


Photos


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Thursday, 25 May 2017

Labour & Birth Story


“Birth is a mystery. Words are not enough.” - Marie O'Connor

I still can’t believe how my labour and birth story turned out in the end. Everyone tells you it hurts, but they don’t tell you the emotional rollercoaster it is, which for me, was a lot worse than the pain of labour. For a start, I had gone 11 days overdue (when everyone – even my consultant, thought I’d have him early). That takes “being fed up” to a whole new level.



Overdue

My midwife appointments timings were a bit funny. I’d meet with her (or someone else) every Monday and I’d hit a new pregnancy week every Wednesday. So I had my 39 week appointment when I was actually only 2 days away from my due date. That annoyed me a huge amount, because it wasn’t taken seriously that I was actually due in 2 days meaning that I wasn’t offered a stretch and sweep (which to my surprise I actually wanted at this point because I really fed up of waiting). She instead told me that he was very engaged and would probably be here any day now. A week later, I was still pregnant and now a week overdue, so I brought my mum along to my midwife appointment for support. I was adamant to leave with an induction date in a few days.

This time, however, it was a different midwife. She was very shocked I hadn’t had a sweep yet or been given an induction date. You see, this midwife thought I shouldn’t have gone overdue because of the size of me and Noah, but my consultant knew best and didn’t agree (more on that later!)

So she obviously offered me the sweep. This is where we hit the first obstacle... She tried to perform the sweep, but couldn’t because Noah’s head was so low down that she couldn’t reach my cervix. And due to this, it was extremely painful for me. But when your mum says it’s nothing on the internal examinations you’ll have in labour, she is right!) Seeing as that failed, I was disheartened and quite annoyed. I'd had to experience that discomfort, without it even bringing me any closer to meeting Noah. She booked me in to be induced on the Monday (making me 12 days overdue!!), to which I was extremely unhappy with. 12 days overdue? What a joke. But I felt a little positive with the fact I’d at least be in labour Monday/Tuesday and soon to meet our little boy.

I went home and I ate the spiciest curries, the juiciest pineapples and drank copious amounts of orange juice (because it USUALLY causes diarrhoea for me which can induce labour *sorry for the overshare*). I walked for miles. I bounced for hours on a yoga ball. We done the er… deed. And nothing happened.


Contractions begun

…UNTIL, Friday night! I actually got really ratty and was in a really bad mood. I’m not sure what it was, likely just being fed up of still being pregnant? Hormones? Just me being my moody self? But I just wanted to be left alone. So I went to bed at 5 pm and shut out the world. I tried to doze off to sleep, but couldn't seem to switch off the feeling of anxiety and almost, an angry feeling inside. 9 pm came and I was getting pretty fed up of lying in bed and had started to experience some pains in my belly. Contractions.  They were different than any of cramps or pains I’d had in pregnancy. I just knew they were the real deal. They weren’t painful, but they grew in intensity and stretched across my entire belly from left to right and lasted around a minute, coming every 10-15 minutes. I stayed in bed for a while longer, telling myself they will be probably stop soon and this isn’t labour (because I’m miss negative nelly). I texted Chris and told him I think I’m having contractions (I had sent him away in my bad mood earlier!) Then, my drunken father, who had been out with friends for a curry, came home with a vindaloo curry (another labour inducing tactic), so I ate that and went back to bed.

A few hours later, I went to the toilet and lost my mucus plug. Probably the most exciting toilet trip I have ever had in my life. I rang Chris excited because I knew this meant labour was definitely coming soon. He hurried over and ended up falling asleep (grrrr!), while I laid awake anxiously waiting for the fun to begin.

It didn’t.

I got up the next day, had a shower, put on a nice (but comfy) outfit and did my make-up, you know, in case I go into labour, I wanted to look nice. Chris went out for the day to run some last minute errands and I sat in the garden with my mum, dad and uncle as it was lovely day. The contractions were a little closer at 7-10 minutes apart, lasting for a little longer and a bit more uncomfortable, but nothing too major. As soon as Chris came home, we researched how to speed up the contractions. Walking seemed to best bet. So we spent the entire afternoon basically walking around the village. My contractions were getting more painful but not any closer together, so we decided to call it a day and bought some magazines for me to read after dinner. My appetite at this point was a bit funny so I just ate some plain pasta (with lots of pepper!) to keep up my energy levels.

This is when the fun really started to kick off. The contractions were now 3-5 minutes apart, but still not that painful. I was still laughing and joking through the contractions, but there was barely a break between them (well, so I thought – active labour is when there is NO break). Everyone panicked and got my bags together and MADE me go to the hospital.


From Birth Centre to Delivery Suite

We arrived at the Birth Centre, where they read over my notes and told me I couldn’t have my baby here (!!). You see, at the beginning of pregnancy I tested positive as a Strep B carrier so was to have IV antibiotics in labour, but my consultant hadn’t prescribed them (after being told 3 times to do so!). As well as this, all the growth scans and concerns about Noah and me in pregnancy, I had to be monitored more closely, which couldn't be done in the Birth Centre. It was quite frightening as the lady seemed very worried for me and annoyed at what had happened and that they had let me go this far overdue. She decided to examine me before taking me to where I needed to go. I was a few cm dilated and not in that much pain, but she said I needed to go to delivery suite nonetheless to be closely monitored.

I arrived there with Chris and my mum and met with my midwife for that night, who as sure she’d be delivering my baby. She was lovely and seemed genuinely excited to delivery our baby Noah.

She attached the continuous fetal monitoring thing (whatever it's called?!) and put the needle in my arm for the antibiotics – which wasn’t the most pleasant experience. She put it in my left wrist first, but because I have the most difficult veins, she couldn’t get it in properly. So she had to put it in my right wrist instead, leaving me with two very sore and bruised wrists - but once the pain started to kick up a notch, I wasn't all that bothered!


The good stuff

I found walking around helped me during the pain, but as it intensified I had a go on the gas and air – which might I just add is amazing stuff. I loved it! Occasionally, I had a little too much and spaced out after the contraction and it was a bit scary. But I soon got used to it. Chris even tried it a few times! So I kept that up during the contractions and bounced on my ball or walked around in between. So far, so good.

I was thinking labour really isn’t that scary or painful, just exhausting. They done an internal examination about every 1-2 hours, which I HATED and would literally have a fit any time anyone wanted to come near me. It hurt me more than the contractions because Noah’s head was so low down and I found they just weren’t careful enough. So, I literally begged them to be so gentle and from that point onwards, it really wasn’t so bad – so don’t be scared to have a little moan (or plead!)

I was dilating well, but as I hadn’t had any sleep for 2 days and was exhausted, the Midwife suggested I have some pethidine so that I could rest between contractions instead of laughing and joking around like I was (oops) because she knew I needed energy on the last leg to push. I agreed because I wanted to just do what was going to best for Noah and having pethidine wasn’t a deal breaker for me.

And it was perfect. My contractions were getting closer together, but I was able to rest in between them. I was dozing in and out of sleep and waking every 2-3 minutes for a contraction and then dozing back off again. It didn’t reduce the pain of the contraction, but just abled me to rest and sleep.


I started pushing?!

This was when everything really went downhill. I was dilated to about 8 cm now and the contractions were getting a little stronger, but the problem, once again, was that Noah’s head was very low down, he was ready to poke out, but my cervix wasn’t quite ready for him.  So I ended up involuntary pushing without really knowing. When they done my internal examination, they found that my cervix had swollen and was less dilated than before.

I WENT CRAZY. I mean literally, crazy. I was off. I cried. I screamed. I went mad. It’s all a bit of a blur. I remember throwing up when Chris had gone to get some air and my mum almost throwing up seeing me throw up! I remember a number of midwives coming in trying to calm me down. But I just wasn’t having it. I just could NOT calm down. I don’t know what it was, I was just so exhausted and after being told I’d be pushing in 1-2 hours, to this going up to 3-4+ hours, I couldn’t handle it.

I was all over the place and riddled with anxiety, so much so that I couldn’t handle my contractions. The midwife kept asking me if I wanted an epidural to calm me down, but I was adamant I didn’t want one. The midwife gave me 5 minutes to calm myself down or she’d be back again and advised if I haven’t calmed down, I basically NEED to have one.


I done what I said I wouldn’t

I hated myself, but I couldn’t calm down. I just couldn’t do it. I don’t know what it was, but none of that hypnobirthing stuff helped. I couldn’t calm. I spoke to Chris and I decided to go ahead with the epidural because I was so scared and anxious and just could not think straight. At this point, my mum had left for some air with my dad who was waiting outside, because it was pretty tough. I cried because I thought she was disappointed that I was having an epidural! We were all so against having one.

The anaesthesiologist came in and I had to keep very still while he performed the epidural. It’s funny, but I actually didn’t care. I could see Chris was full of worry when we were reading the consent form (which I couldn't even focus on to read) and when he was putting the needle in my spine, but I just kept very still and it was done!

I calmed down and I was happy. I was sleeping between contractions, which when I actually looked at the time, I was asleep for 30 seconds to a minute because my contractions were so close together, but I felt well rested. It was actually really surreal. Every time I opened my eyes and looked at the clock, it had been a minute since I last looked butI felt like I’d slept for an hour at least.

The next problem was that the epidural only worked down my right side. Not a problem because I still felt my contractions – I wanted to feel them in a funny way, but the issue was that I now couldn’t walk around and go to the toilet. So I had to have a catheter. Although, at this point I didn’t care, I just wanted to have my baby.

A new midwife now came on shift as it was morning. I don't even remember saying goodbye to my midwife! There were now two (or maybe three?) of them, who were really lovely! Now it was the waiting game... They examined me again (really carefully! as it was someone different) and it was good news.


It’s time to push!

Oh it was like music to my ears. “It’s time to push”. The epidural had really worn off which I was SO happy about so that I could feel the contractions and push. The pushing stage only lasted 9 minutes, but I’ll be honest, this was the worst stage of labour for me, albeit, the shortest.
I didn’t know how to do it. The midwife kept saying “push from your bum, like you’re doing a poo!” but I just felt like I was doing it wrong. I started to lose my calmness again. Nothing was happening. Then the contraction stopped and the wait for the next one felt like FOREVER. I felt like a failure. Like I couldn't push my baby out and that's it, he wasn't going to come out safe.

At this point the room began to fill with doctors, midwives; specialists etc. and I just remembering looking at mum amongst them all with tears in her eyes and I knew it wasn’t good. I panicked again. I cried. I couldn’t do it. Noah’s heart rate had dropped, my contractions were slowing down and there was no sign of him. They kept saying one more push and then we need to do something to get him out. I pushed so hard and really, really tried. But there was no give. Then there was a head! It was too late for an emergency c-section so it was down to me to get this baby out. They used ventouse BUT (another problem!) when they put the suction cup on his head and pulled, it fell off!! It was the weirdest feeling ever and I was so, so frightened for him. So they had to use forceps.


He’s here!

This bit is a bit of a blur. The next thing I remember is pushing and there he was on my chest! At 11:24 am on the 9th April 2017. The only way I can explain the skin to skin is that he was “dumped” on my chest and it felt so heavy. He was all bloody and it was quite gross but incredible at the same time. But before I even had a chance to cuddle him, he was taken away from me and cleaned up and checked over. Then we heard his first cry as he was being cleaned up!


He was then passed back and put on my chest and Chris, Noah and I had the most amazing first cuddle. It was truly beautiful. But that enjoyment lasted all of 5 seconds (OK it was a little longer than that). They gave me the injection to deliver the placenta (I asked for natural, but due to complications, I couldn’t). I had to give a big push and it was out. I definitely felt some kind of relief once that was gone.

In the midst of lovingly looking at this beautiful boy we had created and I'd just given birth to, I realised they were stitching me up and the room was still full of people still all around me looking *down there*. I had quite a bad tear (obviously) so needed stitches, which once again, filled me with anxiety. They spent OVER ONE HOUR stitching me up, with it “going wrong” and having to be undone and calling other people in to check it. It was horrible. All the while, I had a temperate, was feeling extremely nauseous and just wanted to cuddle Noah and sleep.


Chris ended up taking Noah off of me because I just couldn’t hold him anymore whilst this was happening and I was feeling so unwell. He dressed him and the midwife weighed him. All of this is a bit of a blur, I only remember these moments from pictures taken. Once the stitches were over with, the midwife said I could shower. But problem: I couldn’t walk. I was so dizzy and weak, so I had to have a bed bath... Which by the point, I actually did not care whatsoever. Labour takes away any pride you may have that’s for sure. Luckily enough, Chris had left the room for some air! As it would of been quite embarrassing him witnessing that too.

The midwife then tidied up and asked if I wanted to breastfeed Noah. Honestly, all I wanted to say was no at that point because I was that exhausted. I felt terrible because deep inside I wanted to, but at the same time, I really just "couldn't be bothered" as harsh as it sounds. But I did. And let me tell you, it was the most amazing feeling in the world, feeling him latch on for the first time. I can't describe that feeling. It was the most special feeling in the world and I'm so glad I said yes.


And that’s it! From contractions starting on 7th April at 9 pm, to active labour beginning around 11 pm on the 8th, to a beautiful baby boy being born at 11:24 am on the 9th. It’s been great to get this down and kind of re-live it all a little bit, because it’s all a bit of a blur now. Pregnancy, labour, those first few weeks. I feel like he’s been here forever and I don’t remember life before we had Noah. But I wouldn’t change it for the world. But let's just say, those magazines we bought in labour weren't read then and haven't been read now!



Oh, and I still want another baby in the future. So it wasn’t all that bad.
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Wednesday, 24 May 2017

#MUMMETIME


#MumMeTime was created to remind myself and other mum's out there, that we all need a little "me time", even when we are parents. Many mum's see this as being selfish and not a priority which I want to stop. Carving out just a little time for yourself once a week allows you to recharge your batteries and relive any stresses.

Mental health is a topic very close to my heart and being a mum shouldn't mean you "ignore" the importance of self-care to keep your mind and body healthy. Having a balanced life is so important for your mental health and if you're just go go go with whatever it is, work, looking after your children, cooking, cleaning, running errands etc. your mind has no time to rest and recharge.

Here are 5 reasons why "me time" is so important for mum's:
  1. It allows you to rest and recharge - this will make you a better mum in the long run 
  2. It reduces stress - long term, stress can have adverse affects on your mind and body 
  3. It gives you a break - if you can't look after your family unless you look after yourself 
  4. It allows you to reflect and gather your thoughts - this is so important for your mental wellbeing. Being a mum is usually very go go go and you rarely have time to take a moment to reflect over things that may have happened and just let your mind wander. Our minds are full of schedules and vigorous planning, so sometimes we need time to allow ourselves to just "be."
  5. Absence makes the heart grow fonder - whenever I'm away from Noah, be it 5 minutes or an hour, I miss him so much. When I see him, I give him more love than I probably would have given him if I'd been with him for that hour. I'm full of energy and excitement to see him. Making him happier, and me happier. 
Basically, in the long run, allowing time to yourself will benefit both you AND your family. A happy mama means happy children. It's a win win.

I will posting here all about the importance of me time, why you shouldn't feel selfish about it, ideas for your me time this week and insight into how I'm spending mine.

Feel free to join in with the hashtag #MumMeTime and share your thoughts and photos of what you've been up to. 
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Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Disconnected from the girl I used to be


"If you don't get lost, there's a chance you may never be found."


It’s been quite a while since I’ve done a mental health update and it’s honestly because: I’m fine. I feel better than I’ve felt in a very long time. I’ve had my fair shares of ups and downs, including suffering with depression, anxiety, eating disorders etc. But I honestly feel like I’ve reached a high peak, where I’m happy and I don’t know who that vulnerable girl is anymore. Of course, I still suffer with anxiety and have a few bad habits regarding food, but not to the point that it’s self-debilitating.

Just before I found out I was pregnant, my health started to quickly dwindle, especially with my eating. Me and Chris had hit and rough patch (and actually broke up briefly) and I’d just started a new job. Instead of this new point in my life (think new friends, new job, more free time) being exciting, it was ridden with anxiety. I didn’t have Chris by my side anymore. Friends were asking me to go out more regularly in situations that didn’t really suit me (think the clubbing lifestyle). And I honestly just wanted a black hole to swallow me up.

But then Chris and I got to talking again and started sorting things out. I came off my medication. And I realised I’d by far missed my period. So there we were, 12 weeks pregnant and soon to be parents. It was pretty daunting.

At the beginning I really struggled. I was torn between being so over the moon about our little miracle baby and being full of anxiety that I wasn’t fit to be a mother. Chris and I discussed moving in together again and starting looking at houses. I was experiencing a lot of pregnancy symptoms and post-medication symptoms. I was trying to impress still in my new job. So it’s no wonder it was a pretty tough time. But do you know what kept me going? I had Chris by my side once again and I was growing a beautiful human being inside of me. It couldn’t get any better than that.

But you know what I’ve realised today, 9 months pregnant (about to drop – hopefully soon please Noah). I’m fine. I don’t remember all those feeling very clearly anymore. I’m disconnected from that vulnerable girl, worrying about everything. But I have to say, I wouldn’t change these past few months for anything. While they were tough, they’ve taught me so much about myself, my relationship with Chris and about life in general. Chris and I decided to not waste our money renting and instead are saving to buy our first family home in a few months’ time. I feel better than ever not being on my medication. And I cannot wait to be a mummy.

It’s funny really looking back at 9 months ago me and I feel disconnected from her. But I also feel disconnected from that young, vulnerable, skinny 18 year old girl entering a private mental hospital and the person I was running up to that inpatient stay. Disconnected from the girl who left hospital on a high, but slowly dwindled down a destructive path once again. Disconnected from the shy girl who would cry herself to sleep most nights because she had no friends. I honestly don’t know who she is anymore and unless I really think about these times in my life, I hardly remember them.

I feel like I'm finally me.

Does that sound weird? Or is this just all part of growing up and “finding yourself”? Don’t get me wrong, I’ve still got a long way to go. I’m soon to become a mum for starters, which throws a total curve ball into the whole “who I am” situation. But you know what? I’m not scared, I’m excited! While I will never totally forget the bad experiences I’ve had because they’ve made the strong, independent person I am standing here today, I am so happy they don’t live with my every day and I’m so excited for the adventure I’m about to embark on…

Here’s to personal growth and the future. I CAN’T BLOODY WAIT.
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Monday, 13 March 2017

My mind's running wild

It's been a while since I've sat down and written a blog post, mostly because I haven't had a chance to sit down and just write, and when I have I've been so knackered from work and preparing things for Noah, that sitting at my computer screen is the last thing I want to do. 

I'm on maternity leave now, you know, those few weeks up until labour where people say you rest? Yeah, resting isn't quite happening. My rest is sitting down writing this and having a well-deserved coffee (after knackering my back tidying all day when I got back from the hospital!) My mind is running wild with everything I need to do. Everything I need to get ready for Noah. And nesting is in full swing. I'm cleaning EVERYTHING. For starters, I've ripped my room out (and found a lot of interesting things I didn't know I had) from top to bottom. 

It's funny, but when I left work Friday, I was worried I'd get bored on maternity leave... There's no chance of that! There's so much to do! I mean, we actually have everything we need for Noah. But me. I am not ready. I need to tidy. I need to pack my hospital bag, again and again.  And again. Keep going over my birthing plan (which probably won't go to plan anyway). Visit the hospital for numerous appointments. Go shopping for some last minute toiletries and outfits for my hospital bag. Maybe buy a new hospital bag? (Because you know, the one I have just isn't right). I need to do washing. Get my nails done. Get my hair done. Take Barney for walks. Go food shopping. And somewhere amongst all of this, actually RELAX. 

To top it off, my midwife said to me today that I may be experiencing early-labour contractions (and not just Braxton Hicks like I thought), so that's sent everyone into panic mode. I DON'T EVEN KNOW HOW TO PUT THE CAR SEAT IN THE CAR YET?! Is my hospital bag ready?! Do I have everything for Noah?! Am I ready to be a mum?! *Side note: That evening I learnt how to put the car seat in the car & packed my hospital bag, 'cos you know, panic. 

I mean, personally, I don't feel like they are actual contractions. My belly is always tight isn't it? And surely I'd be in a lot more pain? They're probably just Braxton Hicks. Saying that, my mum was in labour for 3 days with me before she even knew. So. You just never know. Plus, being almost 38 weeks now, he could come at ANY time. Also, I have been experiencing a lot of other symptoms which are typical of "early labour symptoms", so the little guy is definitely getting ready to make a move now.

With just over 2 weeks until my due date (a maximum of 4 weeks of pregnancy left), I cannot contain my excitement to meet this little man I've been growing for the past 9 months. Of course, this is met with anxiety surrounding labour and becoming a mum and that general "fed up feeling" of being very heavily pregnant now.

Like, sh*t, I'm going to be a mum. What does this involve? What if I'm rubbish? What if he won't stop crying? What if he won't settle for me? What if I start feeling depressed again?

Am I ever going to lose this extra weight? Am I ever going to work full-time again? Am I ever going to want to leave our boy after maternity leave? How are we going to afford me working part-time? Why haven't we bought a house yet? When will we buy a house? Can we buy a house? 

As you can tell, my mind is running wild. Anxiety is taking over. And I'm having to keep pulling myself back to Earth and actually calming the heck down. Noah's (very many, very intense and very life-like - think a bum, back or arm sticking out of your side) kicks always help me stop for a moment and just realise how amazing this adventure has and is going to be. And I truly cannot wait. 

Here's to parenthood. See you soon!

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Thursday, 2 March 2017

It's all about you... It's about you.

If you read my New Year post on getting back to me and last week's post, you'll know that my goal this year (as well as becoming a brilliant mum), is to learn to love myself a little more and to help Chris love himself a little more. In the hope that we fall deeper in love with one another (too cringy?)

I feel it's an important topic to address with you guys because so many of us simply forget about loving ourselves. We're so busy loving others or waiting for someone to love us that we forget about the most important person we need to love first: ourselves. It's when me and Chris hit a bit of a rocky patch (which I've talked about in previous blog posts) and started to look into our relationship in more depth that I realised that we both needed to actually love ourselves more, rather than each other. Sounds silly doesn't it? But it's not.

While we were growing evermore distant, I began to explore love more. Why had we become distant? Why were there holes forming in our relationship? As well as many things (such as poor communication)we both had fallen out of love with OURSELVES, not each other. 


The fall out 


It's so easy to fall out of love with yourself or to never have really loved yourself in the first place, because for most of us, it takes continued effort and an actual realisation that this is something we need to do. 

I've had a pretty tough time with depression, eating disorders and anxiety, so much so, that loving myself was something that never crossed my mind. I hated myself. Chris, similarly, had a tough time with his weight growing up. However, when we met each other, we both turned that around, together. Chris had already lost weight and was hitting the gym most days, eating healthily. I found things in myself to love and enjoyed spending time alone, as well as with Chris and friends. We were both feeling better than ever and dived into a new relationship with one another, both happy and free. 

But a year down the line, Chris had stopped the gym, I had a tough time and needed to see a counsellor again. We dived deeper into our relationship, supporting each other but forgetting ourselves. In turn, this started to reveal cracks in our relationship. That grew bigger and bigger, until we broke.

And it wasn't in that time apart that I realised this. But rather looking back at our time apart. I surrounded myself by people. I was never alone. I was out with friends most evenings or curled up on the sofa with Barney and my parents. I never had a moment alone. Why? Because I didn't love myself? I hated myself once again. Spending time alone with myself was a cruel task I didn't want to do.

Looking back on this at the beginning of the new year I realised it wasn't that we had fallen out of love with each other, but merely ourselves. And since then, this has been a big goal of mine for our relationship, to fall in love with ourselves, which in turn, will make up fall deeper in love with each other.

The love for each other is there, so strongly. I know he loves me, he knows I love him. But do we love ourselves? Not yet, but we're getting there. How are we doing this? I've added some tips below on how to love yourself a little bit more. Whether it's before your search for love or while you're in a relationship, like me and Chris. 


1. Give yourself a break


This is an important one for me because it took me a while to realise, I am not perfect. No one is. And you don't always have to do everything right. Mistakes happen, you'll get things from time to time. That's just life. But it doesn't mean you need to stop loving yourself and who you are. Embrace your imperfections and forget about your bad days.

I've always had such high expectations of myself and felt like a failure if I didn't meet them. But it's that realisation that in fact, this is perfectly normal to not get everything right or how you want every single time. 

Don't judge yourself. Give yourself a break.

2. Use positive affirmations 


Try positive affirmations to focus on self-love a bit more. A few favourites of mine are:

"You are enough.  You are so enough. It's unbelievable how enough you are." 
"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference." 
"I am the architect of my life; I build its foundation and choose its contents."

3. Accept who you are 


This is another difficult one. We've all made mistakes at some point in our life, but we tend to be harsh on ourselves because of this. Family and friends may sometimes say harsh and upsetting things when we make mistakes and those words can whizz round in our minds for a long time. 

Focus on your positive qualities. Your strengths. Your abilities. And let go of any harsh judgement or words said in spite. 

Accept you are who you are. And love you for how awesome you are most (actually, ALL) of the time. 

4. Embrace you


When I was going through a bad period of self-hate, I couldn't spend any time alone with myself (I'm slowly getting better at this again). I always had to busy myself and my mind by keeping others around me. When I was alone, all I felt were feelings of anxiety, fear, judgement, hate, sadness. 

To overcome this, practice small moments of alone time and learn how to treat and look after yourself. This may be painting your nails once a week or going on a short walk alone. But learning to be with yourself will help you to be more comfortable in your own skin. 

5. Be grateful 


One of the things that actually helps me the most is being grateful for what I have. Whether that's simply saying "I am grateful for my family and friends around me" or "I am grateful I have a roof over my head", it helps me actually love myself and my life just that little bit more. 

It can be so easy to feel down about your life and blame yourself for this. Practising being grateful actually makes you realise how good your life is, how lucky you are and how awesome you are!


Does self-love come easy to you or do your struggle? Is it affecting your relationships? Are you following any of these techniques to overcome those feelings? Let me know! 
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Thursday, 23 February 2017

Hashtag Power Couple

Two months into 2017 and I don't think I've stopped raving about how important communication is within relationships. But forgive me because it's kinda one of my New Year's Resolutions (that I haven't given up on yet). A big goal of mine is to build on and strengthen my relationships with those around me, namely my relationship with Chris.

2017 is the year we become parents. (OH my god.) And while we already have a strong relationship, which naturally grows daily because of our shared loved for this little human we have created (that we haven't even met yet), I feel like relationships always require you both to work on it. If only to increase each other's happiness. And ya know, be #PowerCouple. (I'm kidding).

Over the time we have been in this relationship, we've had our fair share of ups and downs (as I'm sure a lot you and your partners have had). I'm not going to go into detail of these, but quite a big chunk of them were due to poor communication, mental health issues, misunderstandings and a lack of compromise. So, New Years Day, we went out to our local coffee shop, grabbed a coffee (decaf) and a cake and got to talking. And haven't stopped talking about this day since.

We talked about everything that had gone wrong in 2016, and what can been great. For starters, we went on our first holiday aboard together and he met my family in Turkey (who obviously loved him). We've hit some great milestones (you know, making a baby is a biggie). But we've also hit some great lows. Like breaking up.

Yeah, we broke up for a brief period in 2016. And it was awful.

We discussed all those bad times and tried to come up with answers as to why they happened (because a lack of love for one another was not one of them). And guess what? The majority of them came to the same conclusion: A lack of communication.

It made me feel a little mad inside. How could we have let things get to the point of breaking up? Or the point of feeling distant from one another due to POOR COMMUNICATION. It was mind boggling. We let our emotions build up inside until we erupted and splurted out things we didn't mean.

This led to a lack of compromise and sensitivity. A lack of respect for one another. But most importantly, we felt a huge distance between us. There was so much love there and so much to fight for, we knew we couldn't give in.

Whilst we felt like we had failed our relationship because we didn't realise this sooner, we knew it could never be too late. And together, we could work on this as a team. And learn to communicate a bit better.

Don't get me wrong, communication is not easy. Especially when you suffer from a mental illness. When you're feeling so low you want everyone and everything to get away from you. You want to be alone with yourself and your thoughts. But that's the thing. How hard is it to say to your partner "I just want to be alone right now. I need to some time to myself. I'm having some bad thoughts and I'll contact you if I need you." 

It's not hard. If you can recognise your feelings and emotions like this, you need to share it. Some days, I wake up and say "Chris, I've woken up and I'm feeling really down." And because we've communicated with each other what to do when things like this happen (i.e. give me some space for a while, encourage me to get up and have a shower, put some make up on, do my hair, have some food, go out for a walk, read a book, play the AZ game, watch a film together and so on), it's much easier for the both of us to deal with.

But I dangerously got to the point of no longer communicating this with him because my bad days were becoming more frequent and I didn't want him to become worried about me (any more than he already is) or upset with me for feeling this way, even angry with me. The truth is, what's more upsetting for him is when I don't communicate with him. When I don't share my life with him. When I eventually erupt with all kinds of emotions firing at him.

Your partner isn't a mind reader. They don't just know when you are feeling a certain way. Is it fair for all kinds of things to be flying around in their head as to why you may be being distant with them? Without being open and honest, you're potentially causing them to feel low themselves and that isn't fair at all.

It had even got to the point that I felt distant from him. God knows how he felt. I wasn't sharing my life, thoughts and feeling with him. He ended up doing the same. This had build a brick wall between us. I felt scared to be loving around him. Giving him a cuddle felt weird. Giving him a kiss even weirder. I rarely told him how much I loved him. But all I felt inside was a deep love for him. I mean, my heart still races every time he smiles at me, or I catch his eye from across the room. I get butterflies every time he kisses my forehead. So why was it so hard to show this?

In all honesty I was scared at how distant I had come to feel from him that I didn't know what to do anymore. I felt lost in our relationship. And it wasn't until New Years Day when we literally threw everything on the table, that I felt that closeness come back.
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Thursday, 16 February 2017

The Pregnancy Glow, a load of rubbish?


I remember when I first told my friends and family I was pregnant, I kept hearing the words pregnancy glow thrown all over the place (as well as "oh I knew it!"). And there was me left feeling a bit confused as to what this pregnancy glow was, and did it really exist? I mean, I didn't feel glowing at all.

For the first two trimesters, my face was full of spots and considering I usually have an almost clear complexion, this got me down a lot. So I was eagerly waiting for this glow to arrive.

I spent hours on end searching online 'how to get the pregnancy glow' and I tried EVERYTHING. But honestly, nothing works. There were a few times I thought I had a breakthrough, like when I bought some coconut oil. But it didn't last more than a few days and the spots and and dry skin were back.

I continued to persevere. I'd moisturise and cleanse daily, exfoliate once a week, try not to touch my face often etc. but was still left with misery every time I looked in the mirror. Not only that, but my dry skin turned OILY in places. I honestly felt like I'd just hit a brick wall.

Spots, combination skin, no glow. So I gave up. Instead of using my usual expensive moisturiser (that I never ever have steered away from using for years), I just used anything. I bought a cheap Nivea moisturiser for combination skin. And sometimes, I didn't even bother moisturising. I just took my make up off every night, washed my face with soap and got into bed. Mornings, I'd wash my face, moisturise and put on my make up for the day. I'd use my usual expensive cleanser once a week, if that. I'd simply accepted that my skin was to be terrible during pregnancy (and like the weight gain worries), I just got in with it and didn't look in the mirror too much!

Then the Third Trimester hit. And everyone began commenting on how glowing and healthy I looked. My dad even commented that my skin had really cleared up and looked glowing. My dad noticed?! So I actually started to believe it. I looked in the mirror and was actually kind of happy for once. My skin had actually cleared up. And I did kind of feel a bit more glowing. Was this the pregnancy glow?

I mean, I honestly don't know. Fast forward to today and there's a pretty ugly monster sitting on my chin. But it's okay. Because I still feel glowing. I've got zero make up, because I finally feel partially comfortable to go make-up free. But most importantly, I feel glowing in myself, not just my skin.

The question is: Is it because I'm excited (and no longer as stressed) that there's only a few weeks until we meet our beautiful boy? Or is it really the "pregnancy glow"?

What do you think? Does the pregnancy glow exist? Is it psychological? To do with hormones? Or is it just because I stopped using so many products on my face and busting a gut to get that glow? Let me know your thoughts over on TwitterFacebook or Bloglovin'.
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Sunday, 12 February 2017

Early signs of pre-eclampsia?

The third trimester began about 5/6 weeks ago and since then, everything has seemed to go a little down hill....

I've been to the Maternity Triage unit at the hospital far too many times to count (but at least we're prepared for the journey when I do go into labour!). The everyday pregnancy symptoms (as I like to call them, take the morning sickness, achey back, dizziness, headaches for example) have definitely worsened. But one thing is for sure, Noah's kicking hasn't slowed down at all! He's being a good boy and telling me throughout the day that he's doing just fine in there and I need to stop being such a worrier. If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook you may have seen this little video of our little boy going a little mad - as he has been since around 20 weeks when I first felt him.

I thought I'd do a little update on everything health wise that has been going on for me and Noah, from extra growth scans to early signs of Pre-Eclampsia.


28-Week Growth Scan


Firstly, I had my 28-week growth scan, which was pretty awful. No, not because his weight and growth was low, but because of the horrible sonographer who make me feel like an awful mother. She told me his weight and rate of growth was too low because I was "tiny" and I should eat more chocolates and pizza. Not the best advice from a health professional. And since, I have upped my diet by a massive amount (eating every 1-2 hours), I really don't think (nor does my midwife!) it's my eating that is making his growth low.

And to add to this. When I went to see my midwife a week or so later, she said his rate of growth was absolutely fine! Albeit, yes, it is a big lower than average, but nothing for me to worry about!

So after a week of worrying and googling about what I can do, wondering if I'm really not eating enough etc etc. It was actually all fine. We were all relieved and I felt a little calmer about it all and comfortable that I was actually doing a good job growing him. But obviously, this calm outlook wasn't going to last very long....


First emergency trip to the hospital


A few days later, I came in from a long day at work and as I went to get out of the car, I had the most excruciating pain in my lower belly (which was not Braxton Hicks). I hadn't felt Noah kick for a few hours (usually he's kicking on the hour, every hour). And as I have quite a high pain threshold, my family were very worried about the pain I was experiencing.

So, we scooted off to the hospital for a check up. After finally finding our way around, they ran some tests and couldn't work out what the problem was. The pain had eventually subsided so we made our way home, had some dinner, got into bed and went into work the next day.

I was a bit confused as to why there was no diagnosis or explanation for this pain, (other than possibly being due to an infection) but I was glad that everything was okay with Noah and that I was feeling better, so I just forgot about it and moved on.



High blood pressure? 


A week or so later, came a few more trips to the Maternity Triage unit. I had experienced blurred vision and migraines in the second trimester (you'll see I talked about it in this blog post), but it has begun to get really bad these past few weeks.

It usually just comes out of nowhere. My vision will become blurred (sometimes going completely), I start to feel dizzy and lightheaded like I may pass out, I see spots and stars everywhere I look and later on, come the intense migraines. Due to the regularity and intensity of these symptoms, I am quite worried (and equally, fed up).

One particular day I was sitting at work and these symptoms started to come on. I done the usual, got some fresh air, took some time away from the computer and drank plenty of water. But nothing seemed to give. All of a sudden, my body felt completely weak and heavy. My vision had gone completely. And I felt like I wasn't really "here". I stepped outside the office and sat down for a minute. My body went into some kind of anxiety attack I think. I couldn't stop shaking and twitching. And my vision just wasn't coming back at all.

I phoned my midwife, who subsequently put me through to the Maternity Triage unit at the hospital and they asked to see me immediately.

The usual checks were completed: checked my blood pressure and temperate, checked the baby's heart rate for around 2 hours, done a blood test, had the doctor see me etc etc. And everything was fine. There was no explanation for the way I had been feeling, but the usual I need some rest. They signed me off to have a few days of rest (I managed one day of rest and worked from home for one day - which is good for me!) and I was back to feeling a little bit better. Baby was fine. I was back to feeling a bit better, apart from the migraines (and every other usual pregnancy symptom like exhaustion, aching body, Braxton Hicks etc.)


Early signs of Pre-Eclampsia?


The following week I was still stuck with these constant headaches and on and off blurry vision, but as I knew it was nothing to worry about and I had my midwives appointment coming up, I didn't worry too much and tried to relax as much as I could.

The morning of my midwives appointment, I was working from home and I'd had a bit of a stressful morning work-wise and personally. And then all of a sudden my vision had become blurry, I was seeing spots and starting to feel faint. I got some fresh air and just tried to ignore it as I knew it was nothing and I would be meeting the midwife soon.

The midwife done all her checks, but became worried. My blood pressure was a lot higher than the last time I had visited, baby was still measuring small and I explained the blurry vision, headaches and other symptoms I'd been getting. She asked me to wait outside so she could check my blood pressure for a third time in 20 minutes to see if it would decrease.

20 minutes later, my blood pressure had still not decreased. And due to my other symptoms, my midwife was worried it was the early signs of pre-eclampsia. She rang the hospital telling them of my symptoms and they asked to see me immediately to check over me and baby.

I was a little anxious at this point. Firstly, because of hearing pre-eclampsia and the affects it could have on Noah. And secondly, if it was just going to be nothing again like the last week I was there. Oh and I had a presentation to finish at work for the following day's big focus meeting.

Chris picked me up and we went off to the hospital. The usual checks took place: testing urine, blood pressure checked at different times, temperate checked, placed on the electronic fetal monitoring machine (which checks the baby's heart rate continiously), checked my reflexes and had another blood test testing a range of things.

Everything came back pretty much okay. Blood pressure still didn't decrease, but baby was fine, I was feeling a bit better (apart from the exhaustion and migraine) so we decided to go home. They booked me in for an emergency scan the next day and to have my blood pressure checked in a few days.


The check up and another scan


I worked from home in the morning, then went along to the hospital for my check up. They ran all the usual checks again and checked my blood pressure three times - it was still the same. So they've booked me in to come back in a few days again to keep an eye on it. My headaches have worsened, I've developed what I can only describe as "morning sickness" again and the dizzy spells/blurred vision spells are happening on a daily (actually, more than 3 times a day usually) basis. So on in all, not enjoying this part of pregnancy.

Onto better news, we had another scan on Sunday (the emergency one they booked as I couldn't make it the following day) and NOAH IS GROWING WELL. We were so happy to hear that news. I've been worrying for weeks about his growth and finally my mind can rest a little. He's gonna be our perfect little boy whatever, but knowing that I am growing him well (even though I am not really showing it), is one of the best feelings in the world. All that extra food must be doing him good (even if it's not making me feel too great). 


With more check ups this week and feeling super miserable with the constant trips to the hospital and feeling crappy, I am looking forward to our appointment with the consultant Friday. Hopefully we can just discuss all these worries and concerns I'm having and the hospital have about my blood pressure and symptoms, as well as my mental health (which I must add has been pretty good these last few weeks, despite all of this going on). And he'll tell me everything is fine and okay. 

Have you had any worries like this during pregnancy? Was high blood pressure a problem for you? I'd love to hear about your experiences and anything that helped this period for you? 

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Thursday, 9 February 2017

My parents are #goals

My parents are a huge inspiration to me in more ways than one, but now that me and Chris are soon to become parents, it's made me look at my relationship with them even closer.

I've been looking around at those I consider to be my "role models" and I can honestly say, my mum and dad are hands down "parent goals". Of course, you always look to your parents for inspiration or to do things differently to them as you haven't had the best upbringing. And now is such an important time for me to do that. I hope I can follow in my parents footsteps to bring up the happy, lovely, well-mannered children they have (or maybe that just counts for my brother!)

You can always rely on me


Since I can remember, my dad has always said to me "You can always rely on me. I will never let you down". I can actually hear him saying it in my head as I write this because he's said it so many times! But it never ceases to touch me. And he's never failed to stick by this word.

I still always questioned him and he'd simply respond "If I said it will work out, it will. Have I ever let you down?" The answer was no. But every time there's something that I feel he can't possibly fix or work out, HE DOES. And every single time, I'm lost for words.

The point is not that my dad done everything for me, but that I knew I could always rely on him. For example, I needed a new car. My dad didn't "fix" the problem, by buying me a new one, but he helped me get my funds together, figure out what I could afford and found an ace car for that price (and even knocked down the price by a few hundred so I'd have enough to pay the extra insurance costs). It's something about him always protecting me, looking out for me and doing everything in his power to make me happy that is so special.

Similarly, it was this attitude that he had that "everything will work out in the end" that actually pushed me to work harder to reach that end goal. Take my exams for example: I remember being in tears to him because I was so sure I was going to fail an exam. He'd simply say: "No you won't. I know you won't. Am I ever wrong?" And that was just the little boost of confidence I needed to stay motivated, work hard and study. And I never once failed (then we'd both be in balls of tears at the sight of my results - it was so special).

You're so spoilt


Over the years, I've had a few people call me "spoilt" because of this relationship I have with my parents, especially my dad. But I think it runs so much deeper than being spoilt. There was a rocking horse I wanted so badly as a child, but we simply couldn't afford it and I needed to learn how to ride a bike. So, they let me choose my own bike (with loads of pink and purple sparkly tassels and a little horn - it was so awesome). If I was "spoilt", surely I would have got both?

But you see, it's not about getting everything I want. It's about knowing in my heart, that I can rely on my parents with my life. They will do their very best to make me happy, in any way they can. And instead of bringing up an ungrateful child, who gets everything she wants and then suddenly when she doesn't, she throws a strop, they brought up a forever grateful child. I feel blessed every time my parents do something for me to make me happy, safe, protected or content.

Love and Support during a breakdown


Another aspect of the love and support my parents give me is linked to my mental health issues, which they help me with on a daily basis if need be - especially my mum with my anxiety and panic attacks. She is so amazing at calming me down and making me feel safe and happy after a panic.

When my mental health issues first hit the surface, I'm sure it was such a struggle for my parents, because they couldn't simply fix me (not that I or anyone with a mental illness needs "fixing"!!). But I'm sure they felt absolutely useless. But all I really needed was love and support, so that's what they done.

My mum was literally my rock! She came with me to every single counselling, psychiatrist, doctors or hospital appointment. She even went to family therapy on HER OWN (because I refused to go, obviously). She was the person who managed to get me to see the best psychiatrist I have ever had, which subsequently led to my stay in a private psychiatric hospital. She was just always there for me when I was feeling down. I could just splurt everything that was in my head to her, and she didn't judge. She just listened. It actually brings tears to my eyes even writing this because of how truly amazing she was, when she probably felt like she wasn't helping at all.

I really felt the unconditional love they had for me. I felt worthless, unlovable, a failure, a let down, but they still continued to show they loved me, each and every day, even when I was a total bitch.

Loved unconditionally 


It's funny, but I remember as a child when I'd done something naughty, my dad would tell me off and send me to my room, as parents usually do. But a few hours later, he'd call me downstairs. He'd call me over to him and give me the biggest hug and kiss and tell me loves me and he's sorry for shouting, but I was naughty and shouldn't do that again. And I think that instilled one of the most important messages of all: I love you unconditionally, but when you're naughty there are consequences, but it doesn't mean I'll ever stop loving you.

And in doing this, it actually made me feel worse about being naughty. Because even though I'd done wrong, he still wanted to give me a kiss and a cuddle and show me he loved me, even when I was a brat. This empowered me each and every day to make him and my mum the happiest and proudest they could be. But the message was still there loud and clear:  I love you whatever you do, whatever you say, but remember the consequences.


Overall, they've taught me that being a parent isn't about showering your child with the most luxurious things,  but it's about unconditional love, support and them knowing that they can rely on you with their life and you will do everything in your power to make them happy. If your child feels loved and protected by you, has good morals and manners and knows they can rely on you, I feel you've done the best job. 
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Thursday, 2 February 2017

7 ways dogs help mental health

I adore my dog, Barney, he's part of the family. He's like my furry baby - he even asks to be picked up! And he absolutely loves having his tummy tickled and a cuddle. But most importantly, when I'm feeling down and barely can drag myself out of bed, he is there. He gives me a cuddle and just simply motivates me to get out of bed, have a shower and get ready. Even if it is just to take him for walkies.

My mum and dad bought Barney for me when I had just come out of hospital. I was dying for a dog for months, sending them pictures of cockapoos. And finally, when we were on holiday in France, they caved in. We went to see Barney and instantly fell in love. The rest is history. Everyone loves him. And he truly makes us all so happy, when we may have had the hardest day ever.

There are dozens of reasons why having a dog can improve your mental health massively. Here's some of my reasons:

1. They give you purpose. Having a dog isn't all about having someone to snuggle up to, they require looking after. You have to feed them, walk them, train them, groom them, play with them and of course, give them lots of attention (that's where the cuddles and belly rubs come in). This gives you a purpose, just like having a children. You can't stay in bed all day cuddling your dog or just binge-watching the latest reality show, you have to get up and look after them!

2. Stroking makes you happy. Cuddles! One of my favourite things about having Barney isn't just how much he loves cuddles, but how happier these cuddles make me! Stroking him, petting him, tickling his belly, snuggling up in bed with him - all these things make me happy, as well as making Barney a very happy doggy. Something about stroking a dog releases endorphins (those happy hormones) and not only this, but it reduces the stress hormone, cortisol. So it's win-win situation really.

3. They reduce loneliness. I mean this is obvious. The phrase "a men's best friend is a dog" says is all really. I hate being alone. Coming home into an empty house is something that seriously gets me down, but I don't have that anymore. I come home to a happy, jumping dog who's so excited to see me. And it really cheers me up. If i'm sitting on the sofa all night catching up with the latest soaps, as long as Barney is on my lap, I'm happy. He's a great listener too. He doesn't much love the soaps though....

4. They love you unconditionally. You forgot to get their favourite treats this week, you tell them off for being naughty, you ignore them when you come in from work because you're just so stressed and can't be bothered with a jumping happy day. Do they care? They probably look a bit sad. But guess what, they still love you. And if 2 minutes later you decide to say hello and give them a tummy rub, they'll be all smiles and licking you all over again. They love you no matter what. We all could definitely learn a thing or two from dogs.

5. They make you smile. Even when Barney is sitting there staring at me for 10 minutes straight, whining because he wants a treat and it is so irritating (because he had a treat 5 minutes ago), you can't help but smile. Dogs do the funniest things don't they? When I tell him it's time for walkies, he gets so excited he does this really funny (and cute) bum wiggle. I can't help but smile. Even though I'm trying desperately to get his collar on him and his bum just won't stop wiggling! Then he insists on carrying his lead in his mouth until you're out the door for his walk. He's a funny one.

6. They get you outside. Dogs have to go on walks. They have to get some fresh air, go to the toilet and have a good run around, this gets you out the house and exercising. Walking is one of the best exercises in my eyes because I think it's so relaxing (and fairly easy to do - you can walk anywhere!), but it's a great way to get your body moving and your heart pumping. And if you have a dog, it's even better because you're never lonely while exercising. And if you have a dog anything like Barney, he loves to run around, chasing birds and chasing you. Plus, getting outside and exercising is SO important for your mental health.

7. Playing is fun. When you've had a bad day at work, sometimes playing that game of tug of war with your dog makes everything better. It takes you away from reality for a moment and you forget all your worries. And your dog will love it.

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