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BRAND IN FOCUS // THE POSITIVE BIRTH COMPANY

I’ll try and be brief with the introduction here, because I’m doing my upmost to avoid all and any negativity right now!

(I’m currently 40 weeks and 2 days pregnant). 

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My pregnancy with Eli wasn’t straight forward. We had a lot of complications and constant monitoring. We were high risk. Then came labour. I won’t go into the details, but I had a pretty awful and traumatic labour with Eli. I was induced at almost 42 weeks, I had no say in the labour, it was an agonising 30+ hours with every intervention possible. It all ended in a whirlwind of a dodgy episiotomy and ventouse that saw the room fill with 15+ people and before the threat of emergency C-Section.

It was VERY medical. I was never given options – I accepted what was told to me, because heck, Doctors know best, right?

We knew no different. We actually thought it was a ‘normal’ labour!

Following the stress of Eli’s pregnancy and in hindsight, the trauma of his birth, plus my miscarriage in-between; falling with this my third pregnancy, I KNEW something had to change.

My anxiety was through the roof when we began trying again; despite my medication and an abundance of self-help. The anxiety was surely inevitable following a miscarriage, yes. But the anxiety surrounding labour didn’t need to be there. This is where Hypnobirthing comes in…


I started researching into Hypnobirthing properly as soon as I got the second line on that pregnancy test back in November 2018.

My initial belief was that Hypnobirthing was all about being hypnotised during labour… L O L. No, it’s definitely nothing to do with being hypnotised. But after reading the birth stories on forums and blogs, I still sat on the sceptical fence… I mean, what even is this HIPPY, DIPPY, BALONEY?!

The more I read, the more I became obsessively intrigued by it. To the point where, yep, you guessed right, my anxiety surrounding labour took a real back-seat.

Having used The Yes Mum cards for daily affirmations I ordered the book: Your Baby, Your Birth.  I would pick the book up and fall asleep and it became clear I needed something more engaging. I also wanted to do something that James could get involved with at the same time. Local classes were really expensive and not at convenient times for us.  It’s certainly worth mentioning here too that James found my labour with Eli horrendous. He felt totally helpless and all he could do was sit beside me with his hands turning white under my constant clench. Him being there was all I needed at that time, but he will be first to admit that its scarred him somewhat – he definitely experienced birth trauma too. This time he wanted to be helpful, to have a real role in my pregnancy and subsequently, the labour.

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Then pops up The Positive Birth Company on Instagram. Boom. I began following and was hooked. Incidentally, Siobhan had been following me too and very kindly offered for us to give her Digital Course a try.

I obviously jumped at the chance! I’d read that starting a Hypnobirthing course would be best from 28 weeks onwards. But as we had it at 25 weeks, it seemed daft not to begin straight away.

Once my profile was all set up on the Digital Pack, I familiarised myself with the platform. From a user point of view, it’s a really neat and simple platform first of all. It’s organised perfectly and so easy to use. The branding is spot on too – which really helps when you’re trying to learn but also ‘zone out’, the colours and fonts used are quite obviously well-thought through. I was so impressed with how thorough the course looked – six sections with everything you could ever possibly need to know (and more!) surrounding pregnancy, labour, birth and beyond.

It came to bedtime so we grabbed the laptop, put candles on and cosied up in bed with the first of the 6 sections in the Digital Pack. Each section is from 40-60+ minutes long. So you want to dedicate some real quality time to this. We decided we would look at one section a night – where possible; spreading it over days where needed, so it wasn’t too much information at once.

We were immediately into it. Siobhan has such a gentle and clear tone – plus the information was exceptionally thorough and we really, really enjoyed learning. We were pausing videos along the way to recap what we’d learned so far- and again when we had decisions to plan between us. Learning to use more positive ‘birth language’ still has me on my toes at times – for instance, we refer to contractions as a Surge  – it just rids the questioning of any negativity and apprehension that could slow labour down. Likewise, talking about the ‘power’ of a surge, as opposed to the amount of pain I’m in, will help me to understand how my body is working to birth my baby – allowing my body to be in total and instinctive control of the labour.

I think we’d both agree that one of the most interesting sections for both of us was the SCIENCE section. We both learned SO MUCH about the female body and what it goes through during pregnancy, labour and birth. I honestly can’t believe I’ve reached the age of 33 , having had one child, not knowing some of the actual childbirth process. I feel like Siobhan really needs to take elements of this course into schools – its been a true education for us!

One of the best bits of this course has been getting to grips with the roles each of us will ‘play’ once labour begins. My only job here is to remember my Up & Down breathing and to keep calm, relaxed and at ease. Whereas James has an actual  list of things he will be seeking to fulfil – something he’s genuinely excited about and so grateful to have responsibility for; especially following the helplessness he felt during my labour with Eli.

It’s also worth highlighting here that Hypnobirthing isn’t just for ‘normal’ vaginal delivery – this is an education that will take you through all aspects of labour, whether that be via water, land or theatre – whether thats planned theatre or unplanned. The relaxation tools and techniques will enable you to have confidence in your OWN decisions during labour and birth (and postpartum too!). The tools will give you back the control of your labour. This feeling of being in full control is something that I’m finding very empowering after such a dreadful labour with Eli.

After completing all 6 sections of the Digital Pack, you can quickly review specific sections in the Course Notes Booklet (which you can download and print – we’re taking a copy with my Maternity notes) – which is great for back-referencing. There are also a series of MP3’s included too, which have been so invaluable during my pregnancy – especially these later weeks when I can often get into bed feeling deflated. I listen to the Positive Affirmations for Pregnancy MP3 on repeat when I’m in the bath or for an hour or so, as soon as I get in bed. This normally soothes me into a lovely slumber (before I’m awoken shortly after for my first loo-trip of the night!). I can imagine this MP3 being perfect during labour – I’d been looking at Spa Music to play – but actually, I think I’d prefer to have the MP3 running in the background as a reminder that I’m getting closer to meeting my baby.

 

On top of all of this, you also get a (now editable!) downloadable PDF template for highlighting your birth preferences; should you wish to prepare any.  Obviously, you can do this yourself, but the sections on the template are perfectly set out and clear to read in a rush. My midwife was very impressed when I presented them at my 36 week appointment (!). My birth preferences have completely changed since starting this Hypnobirthing course – and again since reading the positive birth stories on the closed Facebook community page (which you also get access too once you sign up for the course!). Reading these stories every day has been so helpful in cementing the notion that I CAN do this and I WILL do this – whenever my baby decides is the right time.

To surmise, I can quite honestly say that this Digital Course has changed our lives. Obviously; we have the birth bit to come. But I have to say that the course, by @thepositivebirthmama (and her amazingly soothing voice), has provided such wisdom, scientific facts, relaxation tools and the foresight to retain control this time; for both @jameshill.tv and I. Weirdly, I am actually excited for labour to begin – however and whenever it does happen✨ And I most certainly would not be feeling this way had we not studied this course. I’m not even sure I would have gotten through the last 20 weeks so easily without it either. How many people can say that?

Thank you so much @thepositivebirthcompany for making me feel so different this time around – and the tools you’ve taught us both will continue to be helpful for life in general postpartum, I’m certain 🖤 We’re both shocked at how informed and relaxed and prepared we feel.

I will be doing a full write-up post-labour, however it pans out! But for now, I cannot recommend @thepositivebirthcompany enough. Currently pregnant? You MUST go forth and seek for yourself!

C
✖️✖️✖️

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MORE FROM THE POSITIVE BIRTH COMPANY

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Upon completing the course, I purchased the Little pack of positivity directly from The Positive Birth Company website. Each pack contains 28 cards, each with a positive affirmation for pregnancy. I immediately placed the cards around our house where I would see them as a little reminders; reducing anxiety and boosting confidence around birth. The more confident you are, the more relaxed you will feel. The more relaxed you are the better your birth will be.

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Also available, to continue your understanding of Hypnobirthing (or instead of doing the course), you can find Hypnobirthing: Practical Ways to make your Birth Better, by founder, Siobhan Miller. The book is widely available, including from Amazon.co.uk, here.

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Now that I’m mentally prepared for labour – I also wanted to share the accompanying App by the Positive Birth Company. The FREYA app is currently available on the App store. I’ve used it frequently when tracking Braxton Hicks – again, its simple to use, effective and we know this is going to be an essential when labour begins for real. During the timing of surges, the Up Breathing soundtrack is so useful  – especially if you don’t want your birth partner to attempt to do it for you (we tried and I found James’ voice too distracting – and we also creased up when he attempted to read out the positive affirmations too).

“Freya is the world’s first hypnobirthing-friendly surge (contraction) timer and virtual birth partner. She will coach you through each surge with a simple breathing technique and help you to relax in between with positive affirmations, calming visualisations and guided relaxation. The more relaxed you are, the more efficient and comfortable your labour will be. Freya will help you to remain calm and in control throughout. She will also keep track of how frequently your surges are coming and how long they are lasting. She will even let you know when it might be a good idea to contact your midwife! Freya will be with you every step – or surge – of the way!”

ALSO COMING SOON – THE POSTPARTUM COURSE.

Follow @ThePositiveBirthCompany for the latest details!

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MORE ABOUT SIOBHaN MILLER

Expert hypnobirthing teacher and founder of The Positive Birth Company Siobhan Miller has made it her mission to change the way women around the world approach and experience birth. Through her teaching she seeks to educate and empower women – and their birth partners – so that they can enjoy amazing and positive birth experiences, however they choose to bring their babies into the world.

Siobhan debunks common myths about hypnobirthing and explains why she believes it can make every type of birth a better experience – from a water birth at home to an unplanned caesarean in theatre.

So, what is hypnobirthing? Essentially, it’s a form of antenatal education, an approach to birth that is both evidence-based and logical. Hypnobirthing certainly doesn’t involve being hypnotised; instead, it teaches you how your body works on a muscular and hormonal level when in labour and how you can use various relaxation techniques to ensure you are working with your body (rather than against it), making birth more efficient and comfortable.

Siobhan’s advice and guidance will change your mindset and enable you to navigate your birth with practical tools that ensure you feel calm and in control throughout.

By the time you finish this course  you’ll feel relaxed, capable and genuinely excited about giving birth.

To read more about how and why Siobhan started The Positive Birth Company, please click here.

 

 


For clarity, I was kindly #gifted The Digital Course by The Positive Birth Company. This is not a sponsored, paid post or an ad – but does contain a highlighted Affiliate link, above.

I only shout about items that I genuinely believe in, so be safe in the knowledge that I’m in love The PBC!

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PREGNANCY & ME // THE DUE WINDOW

As I sit  bounce on my birth ball and write this post, I am currently 40 weeks and 2 days pregnant.

The “Any news?” and the “How are you feeling today…. ?” and the “Any twinges?” and the “Any sign of movement?” and the “Do you think it’ll be today?” and even the “ARE YOU IN LABOUR?!” messages are coming in thick and fast. In fact, they’ve been coming in thick and fast since around 35 weeks. Granted, the influx of messages this past week isn’t helped by my stint on BBC Radio 1 with Scott Mills & Chris Stark; that was my bad. But also, imagine this, 5 weeks of daily messages that aren’t really helping with my precious Oxytocin* levels.

*Oxytocin is the ‘love hormone’. The hormone we release when we feel good. This exact same hormone is responsible for every single surge we experience during labour. The hormone that drives your labour is Oxytocin – so we want to ensure our body is filled with Oxytocin!

I know the messages are well meaning and I know they’re from a good place, mostly of excitement for us all, which is lovely! Even when its from the random ‘friend’ with whom you’re “friends” with on Facebook, but haven’t spoken to since you left school or the SECURITY GUARD in sodding Waitrose! I’ve been polite and responded with my favourite affirmation, “My baby will come when my baby is ready”. – Which I know has caused some annoyance, but it is a true statement and it’s my go-to affirmation! Let’s be honest though, we really aren’t going to forget to message or indeed announce the arrival of our little babe. Honestly, we won’t…. Unless the messages and calls and comments keep coming, in which case, maybe we won’t tell you anything  😉 (To say that, The First Fourty Days: The Essential Art of Nourishing a New Mother is looking very favourable right now, would not be an understatement 😉 haha)

So, with this all in mind, my phone is either on silent or on Do Not Disturb…or perhaps I’m resting/nesting/napping/busy hanging with Eli. And if I do happen to open a message regarding the imminent arrival of our little one, even if its sent under the clever guise of “How are you doing today? Not as hot, which must be great for you!“, then I’m truthfully sorry, but I just cannot reply to these messages or comments any longer. James will update you instead. I’ve already taken myself away from social media (if you hadn’t noticed). The pressure of going into the later stages of my ‘due window’ and receiving daily communications like the above is driving me to distraction. I was tempted to switch my phone off completely… but I would assume that reaching the answer phone would only stir up additional excitement. So Do Not Disturb and having James monitor my messages it is. This might sound drastic or even dramatic, but in the most polite of terms, I have to put myself first now. I struggle with anxiety, and I’m dealing with all-sorts in me head as it is, so from my own personal perspective, this is just something that I need to do.

Being ‘overdue’ is exactly why we should be given a DUE WINDOW – or a ‘due month’. Every NHS provider here in the UK will allow a woman to reach 42 weeks before any medical assistance. And even then, we can decline intervention of any kind, unless there is a medical necessity of course. Therefore your ‘due window’ ranges from 37 weeks to 42 weeks. As my sister pointed out the other day, women have been giving birth for millions of years without assistance – they’ve also been giving birth without a specific time slot for the baby’s arrival too.

The obsession on due dates is mind-blowing. The pressure on women to give birth by an exact date is ridiculous. Dates can be wrong, really wrong. My cycle following my miscarriage went from being a standard 28 days to anything up to 35 days. I don’t know the exact moment I ovulated and I don’t know the exact moment I conceived this little babe. My body is not a robot, and neither is my baby. So how on earth is the baby meant to know when to arrive?! She doesn’t get an alarm clock in there that goes off at 40 weeks.  In actual fact, here in the UK, only 3-5% of babies are born on their ‘due date’. Thats potentially 97% of women going into the later stages of their own due window. This is quite commonplace. And even though I’ve been doing alllllllll of the old wives tales (Curry, Pineapple – of which has now severely blistered my tongue, x3 cups of Raspberry Leaf Tea a day, 6 dates a day etc), NOTHING will kickstart labour unless the mother is relaxed, calm and at ease. Any slight stress or apprehension, (darling family and friends, I am really sorry, but the messages are included here) WILL stop labour from starting. This most certainly happened with Eli so I have been doing EVERYTHING I can to avoid the trauma of Eli’s labour and birth happening a second time around – with Hypnobirthing playing the integral part here <<<< That will be my next post.

So, until I’m stress-free and relaxed, my baby will not release the hormone, Fibronectin. Yes, this is getting very Science, but as I said, this is not down to me, this is all precise science. Fibronectin is the protein produced by the baby which is released into the amniotic sac. This protein is then picked up by the cervix and given the go ahead to start labour. My baby quite literally knows when and how to be born.

Here is a list of things keeping me busy in the meantime:

  • “My baby will come when my baby is ready” – by literal means, as mentioned above. I trust that my baby and my body will work together when the time is right. My baby is cosy and healthy and safe in there right now. She’s still kicking the crap out of my ribs and undercarriage. So thats the main thing!
  • Napping.
  • Cleaning and tidying, again.
  • Probably re-packing my hospital bags for the 100th time.
  • Waking every hour during the night to empty what appears to be a full bladder that comes from god only knows where.
  • Ordering a take away because its too hot and I’m too tired to cook.
  • Enjoying the final days/weeks of my pregnancy – I feel so lucky to have had these last 9 months with my bump (despite the sickness, the additional appointments, the SPD and despite the hot, hot heat!). If this is the last time I’m pregnant, I really want to treasure it in the final stages.
  • Practicing my Hypnobirthing affirmations and Up/Down breathing.
  • Over-using my birth ball.
Bathing in Clary Sage, eating all the chocolate and drinking all the faux-prosecco!

 

  • Likely to be nagging delegating jobs to James.
  • Most importantly of all, I’m cherishing being able to hang out with our nearly 7 year old boy who’s life is also about to be turned upside down when his little sister finally decides to arrive. The Summer holidays have fallen at just the right time for us – so I’m treating these final days, just us two, as a real luxury.

I know and understand its difficult to be patient when you’re excited for us – we’re desperately trying to be patient too! And also please know, that this post isn’t meant to cause offence, its more just a way to update you all with were we’re at. I apologise profusely if this does offend; this is sincerely not my intention and I really hope you can all understand. We honestly appreciate all of the kind words and messages; I will look back over everything when the babe is here 🙂 James will also be in touch when anything of significance happens. And we promise we won’t forget to let you know when she does to decide to arrive Earthside.

Which you never know, could always be sooner than we think 🙂

C
✖️✖️✖️

 

 

 

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PREGNANCY & ME // UPDATE: 1

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A few weeks back we had our 20 week scan and we’re ridiculously excited to say, we’re having a baby GIRL! 🖤🖤🖤

An ACTUAL baby girl! ⚡️🖤✌️

I’m almost 23 weeks pregnant now and still feeling waves of disbelief that I have a little girl growing super well inside me. But believe me when I say, we would have been happy either way. Especially considering how long it’s taken to get to this point – a healthy baby is all we wish for.

Eli has been desperate for a sibling for as long as I can remember now and he will be the BEST Big Bro, we just know it. He reckons his little sister is going to be “annoying” but we know he’s happy deep down 😂 Oh and he refused to have his photo taken with the scan of his little sister (!!!) because he was down with the pox 🙈

I always vowed that if we had a girl, I wouldn’t be into dressing her in all that pink stuff! Well, when I said that, I might have been lying because so far, all I have bought is PINK! Ha. It’s all just too cute though man!

The pictured Big Bro Tee is from the gorgeous @lennieandco; which we bought it ahead of our last pregnancy in 2017. It’s been sat in Eli’s wardrobe, waiting for a happy baby announcement since. Incidentally, the 20 week scan that we had, was originally scheduled to be Friday 15th March – which was our due date for my second pregnancy. It would have could have been a 1st birthday for that pregnancy🌈 I had to get the date changed. It just didn’t seem ‘right’.  It all feels a little bit happy sad🖤
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TRYING AGAIN, AFTER LOSS

(If this is your first time here on my blog, HELLO! I had a miscarriage in August 2017. It wasn’t ‘over’ until the ERPC in October 2017..  This is a lengthy post – as always, I am sharing our experience as a means to continue the conversation of trying again after loss).

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OK, I’ll start from the very beginning…

 

A year ago (January 2018), I stopped drinking. I started taking the recommended dose of Folic Acid and additionally, Vitamin B12.  (Just incase).  The “better” eating happened. Then when we moved to Manchester in May, I began the exercise – cycling to school and back twice a day was also helping my mood! I’d been on the pill for a few months post-miscarriage to get my periods back into a regular routine, but came off them at the start of 2018. Every single person you speak to regarding your miscarriage will tell you, “you’re most fertile after having a miscarriage… you’ll fall again quickly”. 

We decided that we weren’t going to look at fertile days, or take ‘trying’ too seriously. After my Miscarriage, I didn’t want ANY added stress or pressure. We wanted it to happen on our own terms… after all,  “you’ll be amazingly fertile after a miscarriage“.

But after our trip to Florida in June, I started to get a bit anxious about trying again and opened up my FLO app to begin tracking my periods, mood, health and everything in-between. From then on, we began trying on the most fertile days of the month.

September came and I still hadn’t fallen. Now, I understand that this really isn’t a long time, compared to other couples who try and try and try for years. But I’d fallen pregnant with my first two pregnancies within 3 months of trying. Granted, I was a lot older now – but I am only 32 still. Not exactly elderly! I lost a little weight and continued cycling and enjoying walks in the great outdoors (thanks to our new National Trust membership!). I knew fine well that out of every 100 couples trying for a baby, 80 to 90 will get pregnant within 1 year. The rest will take longer, or may need help to conceive. But at the back of my mind, the whole “shouldn’t you be mega fertile now?” voices were constantly trolling at me and  I couldn’t help but worry that something else was going on in my body, that:-

  • I had no control over (ie, my Endometriosis or something more sinister…
  • Something had ‘broken’ during my ERPC procedure that had left me with some kind of scarring…
  • Or worse, had everything actually ‘come away’ following the ERPC operation?

So, September onwards, we began tracking my ovulation and BBT (Basal Body Temperature). I bought a few packs of the ‘cheapie’ ovulation kits by One Step and the results were so interesting – see below:

 

I’d really recommend the One Step Ovulation tests (and pregnancy tests too). They’re cheap, they’re accurate,  they’re clear, they’re easy to use, they worked for us. 

 

The only problem with tracking your Ovulation is that, your day begins by thinking about your fertility… This meant, I couldn’t really escape my own pressures of falling pregnant. It was alllll I could think about.  To the extend that I began to distance myself from outside of this little bubble. You can clearly see where I began a minor social media hiatus!

I was tracking everything via the app. Every little niggle! You track so much and think about it so much, that your body eventually convinces you that you’re pregnant. (Hence the early testing in September and November).  But when you’re tracking everything, you’re reminded every month when you’re bloody period arrives that you’ve failed again this month. It’s the most heartbreaking few days – every time you go to the loo and get that little reminder that your body wasn’t up for fertilisation. To top it off, we had Eli listening to my tummy to check if a baby was in there… he’s been desperate for a sibling for as long as I can remember now.

 

 

On Thursday 15th November, I was making Eli an outfit for BBC Children in Need.  Looking back at my tracking, I’d had a few ‘off days’ . I’d had period type cramps and felt so light-headed. I wasn’t due on my period for another week but thought I could be coming on early.  Then on the evening as I was finishing sewing, I managed to stab my hand with a pair of exceptionally sharp fabric scissors. Normally, I’d be fine and get a plaster. Blood does not bother me, heck, once you’ve watched 24 Hours in A&E, you can muster pretty much all of the blood.  The DRAMATIC scenes that ensued are frankly, pure comedy. I was freaking out so much. I had to lay on the bathroom floor for fear of passing out. Never, have a I ever been like that.

The next day I went to the GP to see if I could get a Tetanus injection – just incase I was pregnant. I didn’t want to get an infection. Luckily, it turns out I was up to date. Phew.

Something still didn’t sit right with me about the way I had so ridiculously overreacted the night before. So at lunchtime, I went upstairs and did a quick One Step pregnancy test. I was 99% certain it would be negative as I’d had the cramping… it was also the very first time I’d ever done a test without James by my side.

I couldn’t believe my eyes as the second line appeared in 2 1/2 minutes. Again, I nearly passed out and laid on the sofa to compose myself. I thought I better ring James. I thought he’d go mad with me for doing the test without him…. I’d kind of played it cool on the phone. I’d convinced myself that the cheap test couldn’t POSSIBLY be correct. And 5 whole days before my period was due?!

I convinced myself it was a false positive. It HAD to be, right?

At school home-time I told Eli we needed to pop to the chemist to get something for my tummy… he immediately said “Why, is there a baby in there now?!”.  “I really hope so darling”, I responded.

I got 4 of the Superdrug own pregnancy tests – the same ones we’d bought when we fell with Eli. So I had some trust in them. I’d used a variety when I fell pregnant in 2017 and going back to the Superdrug own brand tests made me feel a bit safer, weirdly.

I waited on tenterhooks for James to get home from work – and with an evening urine sample, the results were… (see below)

 

A very faint, but very positive pregnant test!

 

The second line was so faint, I couldn’t see it and had to put the picture under all of the filters on photoshop to see it. But, as I said when I fell with Eli, you can’t be a little bit pregnant, can you!?

We told Eli our news immediately. We wanted to be open and honest with him – especially as he had seen me go through our miscarriage. We told him that we would tell all our family and friends at Christmastime as a present! (And you can’t tell anyone when its a present, can you!?) HOW Eli managed to not tell anyone before Christmas, I will never know. But that kid man, he is just a total boss.

Speaking of which, I went on Timehop and we realised that we’d done our first pregnancy test with Eli on the SAME weekend – 18th November 2011. Strange; we must have conceived this baba around the same time as we conceived Eli.

Over the next few days, POW, the pregnancy symptoms came in thick and fast.I felt so sick. I was so tired. And continued to track pregnancy tests and my symptoms – just incase.

 

 

I had every single pregnancy symptom going; and then-some.

  • My skin burst into the worst cystic acne ever. Mostly on my lower cheeks and jawline.
  • ‘Morning Sickness’ – except, it’s not just the morning, is it. It’s ALL DAY and ALL EVENING.
  • The Exhaustion – I was falling asleep after dropping Eli off at school and then again straight after tea.
  • Extreme bloating – by 7pm, I was looking mega preggo.
  • Food aversions – the smell of cooking is just the WORST. Couldn’t face meat. Couldn’t face big meals. Ended up surviving on plain boiled rice and rice cakes. Good job I was taking ALL of the pregnancy vitamins by this point.
  • Couldn’t face Tea or Coffee (still can’t do my beloved (now decaf) Coffee, even the smell is nauseating).
  • Brushing my teeth became the enemy – every single time I’d bork.
  • Sheer, unadulterated, brain fog – not being able to articulate what you want to talk about or not being able to remember why you entered a room; or even why the kettle is in the fridge is somewhat frustrating and also kinda scary.
  • Increased thirst – which is quite something for me as I’m always guzzling water as it is!
  • Extreme Overheating – I had repeated ‘hot flashes’ that made me feel so faint. Luckily, touch wood, I’ve not fainted.
  • A weird one now – an version to LEGO. ACTUAL LEGO. It wasn’t that I had a want to eat it or anything, but the sight of Lego made me so, so nauseous! I had to have Eli pack it all away and not play with it in front of me. SO WEIRD. I have no idea what caused it or why. But 5 weeks on, I’m finally becoming ok with the Lego being around again.

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By 10th December, we were being seen at the Early Pregnancy Unit in Stepping Hill Hospital for an early Scan. By my app, I was exactly 7 weeks pregnant. I felt anxious but the full-on symptoms gave me hope that we would perhaps see a pregnancy sac.

And low and behold, as soon as the scan went on, the heartbeat was found. The tears of relief rolled down my cheeks. We were so bloody happy.

 

It’s difficult to put into words how you feel when the Sonographer say’s… “and there is your baby with a strong heartbeat fleeting away”. The scan looked more like 6 weeks than 7, but we were reassured that the baby would likely catch up, or the conception date could be a little out – did you know that sperm can travel for 7 days before fertilisation?

 

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Fast forward to Christmas Day and I’m 9 weeks pregnant. I’m mainly surviving on:-

  • Orange ice lollies
  • Jamaican Ginger cake
  • Ginger beer (not ginger ale, ginger beer)
  • Raw carrots – in abundance.
  • Apples – but must be cut up
  • Bananas on rice cakes with a dash of honey
  • Plain boiled rice and soy sauce
  • Yoghurts with peach compote
  • Orange drinks – Fanta or Capri sun
  • Chewy sweets – Haribo, Randoms etc
  • I can only drive if I have original Tic Tac’s
  • McDonalds Cheeseburger
  • Pickled Beetroot
  • Chips & curry
  • Chips & gravy
  • Chips with salt & vinegar
  • Salt and vinegar crisps – (preferably, Disco’s)

We also got to finally let our parents know we were with child. Which again, was another big relief. We spent the rest of the festive period SO relaxed. Which is just what I needed. This was mostly my view:-

 

Never spent so much time in bed, in my life. We decided ‘bed rest’ was for the best. This baby is so precious and I just didn’t want to overdo it by rushing about at my normal pace, lifting loads at will – up & down the stairs with laundry or the Dyson. I had also stopped cycling for fear of falling off etc. By week 11 I was just so tired, that being in bed was definitely the only place for me to be honest!

 

Also, is there a better way to spend your pregnant-life than in pyjama’s?! These ones are still my favourite, from NEXT. They also still fit, at the minute, hurrah!

—–

Almost up to date now. We had our 12 dating week scan on Friday 18th January, again at our local hospital of Stepping Hill. I felt sick with nerves and worry and anxiety – what if there was nothing there like our last 12 week scan? I couldn’t speak. James and I spent the 10 minute car journey in silence, him asking if I was ok… then muttering “you’re scarily quiet… “.

As is rather usual, scans were running a little late,  which is totally reasonable given the detail they require. I forbid anyone to get frustrated with this – even with a full bladder!

We were called into the scan room and soon as the sonographer addressed us I broke down in tears. She had asked a question about my previous pregnancy and what happened at my 12 week scan. To which I blubbered through the details of my miscarriage – she looked perplexed. Then we ‘clicked’ that she was in-fact  referring to the issues that came up when we had the 12 week scan with Eli – his NT measurement was high, so we were referred to the Fetal Medicine Unit at University College London Hospital (UCLH) . Because of the sensitivity of time, the referral was organised for the very next day. The appointment at UCLH would include a detailed scan, counselling and the invasive Chronic Villus Sampling (CVS) procedure based on the results of the scan and our consent. CVS would be able to tell us if there were any genetic/chromosomal abnormalities.

Once we’d explained everything, I was asked to get myself comfortable on the bed. I couldn’t. I was on the verge of an anxiety attack, I felt like I was about to pass out. I was sobbing and shaking and sweating. I was so scared of being scanned. It seems ridiculous and all I could do was apologise. The worry I’d been bottling up the last 12 weeks had come to the surface. The constant anxiety at every niggle – the worry that my symptoms suppressing. Was I losing the baby? The constant anxiety of every, single, toilet visit – inspecting the tissue incase theres any trace of blood. Apologies if this is *too much information*, but I’m just giving an honest insight to the daily struggles.

Eventually, I came round and shakily got onto the bed. The warm gel was applied to my tummy and the Sonographer went to work. Within seconds (felt like YONKS) she showed us our babe on the screen. Firstly, I was so SHOCKED at how large the baba was. It never, ever, ever, becomes less amazing. I was sobbing again and clenching James’ hand so tightly. The relief of seeing that baby, an actual child, on the screen, is unbelievable.  Secondly, the baba was bouncing about and flailing it’s arms so much – which was brilliant to see – but made it difficult for the Sonographer to get the measurements she needed.

 

 

The Sonographer managed to get the length measurements and gave us a due date of 27th July. The EXACT due date we were given with Eli. I mean, what are the odds of that?! The dates made my pregnancy 12 weeks & 6 days. A little further along than we thought!

The baby flipped the wrong way, then FELL ASLEEP, meaning the Sonographer couldn’t get the crucial NT measurement. She asked me to go for a walk and to drink some more cold water to try and get the baba moving about again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So cold water was had and I waddled up and down this flight of stair no less than 50 times. We were called back in and I felt giddy this time – excited to get a second viewing of this wonderful babe. Except, the baby had moved into another awkward position. The Sonographer made me dance, tilted my body at odd angles, inserted a ‘soft play’ cushion under my knees and finally, made the bed go so far backwards I was slipped off, head first. Baby eventually played ball and it was confirmed that the NT measurement was low-risk, being 1.5m. Again, relief flooded my veins and I felt dizzy. (Although, that could have been due to the blood-rush from the bed being tipped up!).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So here I am. Week 14. Already with huge bump – yes there definitely is one in there – and feeling slightly less queasy, but still a lot tired.

—–

By sharing this (ridic long) blog post, it has been cathartic for me and if it gives hope to those who have been through loss, then that would make me really happy too. A new pregnancy, does not replace the one you lost. To have a million worries is normal and expected. Just look after yourself Mama, because I certainly am!

C
✖️✖️✖️

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WORLD MENTAL HEALTH DAY // 2017

“Celebrating” my 30th birthday at Duck & Waffle, last year.

I’m full of all the “World Day’s” this week – apologies for that. But hey, I have a lot of causes that are very close to my heart right now – so I’m more than enthusiastic to support and raise awareness where possible.

Today is WORLD MENTAL HEALTH DAY, 2017. So here are a few words from my heart – to yours.

A picture tells a thousand words, doesn’t it? What you’ll “see” here (above) are two people who look (and practically were!) on top of the world ❤️ That day I got up at the crack of dawn – knots in my stomach. I felt so sick, so dizzy and was sweating from head to toe with worry. I was all-consumed with complete irrational fear and worry. I forced the smiles and the champagne and watched my watch till it was bedtime.

Anxiety and depression don’t know that today is your 30th birthday. Anxiety and depression don’t know it’s a sunny day. Anxiety and depression don’t know it’s a wedding day. Anxiety and depression don’t you’ve just had a child or lost one. Anxiety and depression don’t know you’re a comedian or an actress. Anxiety and depression do not know if you’re rich or poor.

Anxiety and depression do not discriminate.

Anxiety and depression puts lipstick on, whacks on a freshly ironed shirt, makes the breakfast and forces a smile on its face. Anxiety and depression sits in a room full of friends and loved ones, has the world at its feet and yet, feels like the loneliest person on Earth.  Anxiety and depression has a ridiculously social job – but is crippled with social angst. Anxiety and depression wants to do it all – and nothing at all, all at the same time. Anxiety and depression knocks back the medication and heads to the office for a day of high-flying meetings. Anxiety and depression heads to the umpteenth CBT session with a pram in tow. Anxiety and depression is a sensitive and soft soul who is strong as an ox. Whatever guise it comes in – just know Anxiety, Depression, OCD and allllllll the many, many other Mental Health disorders that there are out there, are not uncommon – in fact, 1 in 4 of us will be affected by at least one mental health issue. Know that in the majority of cases, mental health problems are indeed chemical imbalances – yep, just like diabetes and other well known ‘medical’ issues. So why the stigma?

Back in May this year, I put some words together for #MaternalMentalHealthWeek.  So here is a little bit more about me.

I’m a born worrier. Even from mega young, I worried the worst was about to happen. The worst case scenario of all situations. The made-up scenario’s in my minds-eye (don’t even get me started about how I am when James goes away with work/on a night out). Worry about not having something to worry about. This was to my own detriment and forced me into being an AWFUL teenager.

There was a time when I couldn’t understand my own sensitivity. There was a time when I was ridiculed for that sensitivity. The sensitivity that made me who I am. It was a running joke. It made me look weak. Fear not though, that ridicule has made me a better person. A stronger person 👊🏻💪🏽And most importantly, a better parent ❤️

It’s a sodding difficult job – this parenting lark. Daily life with a newborn is filled to the brim with anxiety. The sleep deprivation. The lack of knowing. The learning on the job. Inevitably, my anxiety was heightened just before I became a Mother. I had a dreadful pregnancy – followed by a horrendous birth. The first few months after Eli came Earthside, though a blur, were the hardest of times we’ve ever experienced.

It was our move to Berlin that connected the dots for me. Made me talk about our experiences prior to and into Parenthood. My anxiety was always prevalent. But its the talking that is so important. The understanding yourself and how YOU actually work.

Life as a new or experienced parent is SO TOUGH. The hardest and most relentless, but most rewarding, job in the world. Its an honour to be that boy’s Mama! ❤️It’s a daily joy and wonder! But for a person with a perinatal mental health condition the hard times are even harder, impossible even. The simple tasks are the most difficult. Everyday is a struggle to survive.

Your Mental Health is just as important as your Physical Health.

Don’t put it to one side.

Don’t brush it under the carpet.

Don’t shut yourself off or bury your head in the sand.

Don’t do what I did and convince yourself “I’m just a born worrier”.

Mental Health disorders can affect everyone. It’s ok to not be ok!

Share your problems.

Share your feelings with friends.

Share your thoughts with professionals.

Share with ANYONE you can. Sometimes talking to complete strangers is the easiest.

Start with YOU. Put YOU first – it’s not selfish. It’s necessary. And SO important.

Mental Health really does matter, but the only one who can make the change, is you✌🏻 Please, just don’t stay silent.

Likewise, everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Stay soft in this hard world. Have empathy for yourself and others. STAY SENSITIVE. And be kind. Always 💘 Sometimes all someone needs is reassurance. And a really bloody big hug 🖤

C
✖️✖️✖️

PS – I don’t think I’ll ever be able to be CONCISE 😂

PPS – I miss my white hair 👎🏻

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Hello 2016…

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YESMUM Cards, by Hollie de Cruz, available in her shop,  here.


Better late, than never, right? Happy New Year.

2016: The dawn of a new age for me. 2016 is all about positive vibes only.

I ended the year on a not so good note, I’ll be honest. I’ll go into further details when I get round to blogging about my wonderful YESMUM Cards. But that aside, I wanted to bring the old blog up to date now we’re in 2016.  So what’s happened so far in 2016? Well, we’ve had the coldest of January days we’ve ever had, ever, a flight back to our Motherland in the North of England, the death of the incredible David Bowie – which has left me somewhat broken hearted, amazing snow-filled fun, a cough, a cold, a stomach bug and Tonsillitis. The past few weeks have also cemented the fact that I need to step back and CHILL – for someone with anxiety, this is obviously a bigger thing than just ‘chilling out’. I’m taking steps to indeed ‘chill the hell out’, and I feel much happier stepping into February. Onwards and upwards, eh!

Here are a few snaps from January and into February:
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Our first flight of 2016, at 10am on 01/01/2016 – start the year as you mean to go on?!

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Haupstr. 155, Schöneberg, Berlin – the apartment where the wonderful David Bowie lived during his Berlin years. Myself and Mr Memoirs were always Bowie fans, but something really struck us about his shock passing. Perhaps it was because we’re in Berlin and he did so much for this incredible city? We genuinely felt heartbroken and haven’t stopped listening to his back catalogue since. We found the trip to his apartment so emotional – albeit, Eli referring to Bowie as ‘The Starman’ and picking yellow flowers for him definitely didn’t help things! We’re so sad he’s gone, but so happy he existed. Wonderful Starman, we will be forever indebted to you for the musical education and creativity. Our son will live in a happier place for your music and choice-looks, and for that we will be eternally grateful. 

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We hope Berlin does change the street permanently! 

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Winter MOTHER – Jewels by the absolute SuperMum that is Kelly Seymour of Cult Of Youth.

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FINALLY! The schnee arrived!

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Wanna build a schneemann?

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Eli got a mega bike for Christmas and refused to part ways on the Kita-run, regardless of terrain! 

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CHEEKY SNOW-CHOPS!

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…tea solves everything. Especially a proper cuppa!

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We dressed in lots of red to show our support for the recent British Heart Foundation #WearItBeatIt campaign. See more on my post, here: Our personal account, and #WearItForIvy!

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…and here we are, today. Today saw the bluest of skies and a mild 12c! Spring is certainly in the air, and I for one cannot wait for sunshine filled adventures!

For now, over and out!

 

MM.

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Hospital Update: Meeting the Consultant and measuring 34 weeks at 28 weeks.

My favourite image of our Baby Boy so far! Taken at 20 weeks, UCLH. 20th March 2012.

Yesterday morning we drove up to Broomfield Hospital for another appointment with our Consultant; to discuss the findings from our last scan –The Bilateral Talipes. But our actual consultant was stuck on the M25 (of course), so we saw someone else and had to go through the whole rigmarole of explaining everything that’s happened in this rollercoaster of a pregnancy!

Fast forward half an hour and I’m on the couch being measured up with a tape measure again. At my Midwife appointment, less than a week ago, my bump was measuring up at 30cm, so 30 weeks – Weekly Update: 28 weeks. So had expected it to be about the same.The two Doctors measured me again… I was measuring 34cm, so one would assume, 34 weeks! UH OH.

I was referred for an emergency scan to check out baby boy’s measurements properly, along with an index of my amniotic fluid. Had to sit around the hospital for 3 hours until the scan. MASSIVE YAWN.

Had the scan and everything was FINE. He’s measuring up at 29 weeks (of which I am 29 weeks tomorrow). He weighs about 2 and a half pounds. He couldn’t be more spot on measurements wise, he’s spot on all the ‘average measurement’ lines on the scan graph. Which is great!

Also, my amniotic fluid is showing up at 6cm at the deepest point, which again, is absolutely normal! So everything is great. I just have a lot of my own water retention and bloating..possibly because I drink far too much water. What can I say? I’m a thirsty girl!

Additionally, the Sonographer also said that we no longer need to go back to have a scan at 32 weeks. She’s more than happy with the progress of everything and doesn’t see why we should have to go back to the hospital to review baby boy’s Talipes. Which is also fine by us! We’re over the moon! But at the same time, I’m also a little bit sad that we won’t be seeing our baby boy for a little while… in fact, the next time we see him will be when he’s ARRIVED! Which to be honest, is also a little bit scary! It’s all very very very REAL now. EXCITED.

So the moral of this story is, don’t believe the measurements! It was never going to be an exact science, measuring your bump – who thought it would be?!

MM.

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Hospital Update: Baby Boy bump has (mild) Bilateral Talipes.

Wednesday 18th April: Re-scan at UCLH, Fetal Medicine Unit.

This morning we visited the Fetal Medicine Unity in UCLH (University College London Hospital) for the re-scan of baby boy bump’s feet – to confirm or exclude Talipes (Club Foot). Since my worrying Midwife appointment the other week, I’ve thought about nothing other than the results we might find at the scan today. Not about his feet though, I was thinking about everything else that it could be linked to. Yesterday the panic set in again and I started googling all sorts, which we all know, is probably the worst thing you can do – ever! Based on the, err, google search findings, I’d really worried myself about how his spine might be developing, as Talipes can be the result of other genetic disorders. This all combined with the Midwife appointment made me really really quite anxious in that waiting from this morning.

Appointment was for 9am, we arrived early, as always, at 8:30am. We went into see the FMU and Speciality Doctor who has performed our most recent scans at UCLH, at about 9:15am. Our Speciality Doctor is beyond thorough, so started off with checking the progress of the brain and heart. Then he went on to check other internal organs for size and function, making the necessary measurements and notes as he went along. (See below for measurements from this scan!) He muttered that “everything is developing beautifully”. Then he turned to the back, looking at the spine and ribcage. He pondered over the spine and I clenched onto OH’s hand. The Doctor didn’t say anything so I asked “Is his spine ok?”. He smiled and said “Of course, he’s beautifully in proportion and developing as he should be. It’s a good thing!”. PHEW. I was happy at that point 🙂

As baby boy bump has proven at every single scan, he’s a wriggler. He moves non-stop. Which is amazing! But not great when the Doctor is trying to desperately get a good view of his feet! It was at this point that he got the 4D scanning images up again – which is just incredible. It’s so amazing to see your baby’s face like that – unbelievable to be honest! But he was really wanting to get a good view of his feet… so it was a quick look at his cute-as-a-button face and then back to business.

The Doctor scanned his feet for about 15 minutes using both the 4D and 2D imaging. He then turned to us and said that he was “convinced there is a degree of Bilateral Talipes. But is extremely mild”. He then went on to discuss corrective methods and said he’d like the Consultant to take a look. The Consultant arrived and said that the Talipes was so mild that “I probably would have missed it to be honest!”.

So with all this in mind, we’re over the moon. Couldn’t be happier. We always knew this baby boy of ours would be a character, and he’s certainly that!

We”ve now been discharged from UCLH and referred back to the care of Broomfield. We will have another scan (YES!) at 32 weeks to see the progression of the Talipes. This will be our 8th scan, although these scans have not been under happy circumstances (mostly), we’re extremely grateful that we’ve been lucky enough to see our baby boy growing at every single stage. As long as the Talipes has progressed as it should (or hopefully, not at all) then we’ll remain within the care of Broomfield. We will not be treated any differently for the birth, so there is no reason for me not to have the Water Birth I’m planning! Once baba is born, we’ll obviously review the extent of the Talipes and take it from there.

Measurements at 25 weeks and 5 days.

Biparietal Diameter (BPD): 67.9 mm

Head Circumference (HC): 243.9 mm

Abdominal Circumference (AC): 213.3 mm

Nuchal Fold Thickness (NT): 5.6 mm

Nasal Bone: 7.4 mm

Femur Length: 45.5 mm

Estimated Fetal Weight (BPD, HC, AC, FL) :842 g / 1 lb 14oz

4D scan of baby boy’s face. He has my nose and chin and OH’s eyes. He’s playing hide and seek here though unfortunately! 

MM.