TIME TO ADD SOME COLOUR: Cool (printable and free!) colouring sheets.
We’re currently in lockdown, here in the UK, and while the weather has been pretty good (now thats unprecedented!) the kids always need something to keep them occupied during that rare and scarce downtime. As so many of us are working from home or have other children that require more 1:1 care, colouring sheets are vast becoming something of a life-saver and a bit of routine too!
We’ve found colouring sheets really fun – they’re also a great way to encourage a little bit of mindfulness. A bit of time to zone out. I’ve personally done my fair share of colouring sheets too – when accidentally on purpose printing out one too many for Eli. A lot of our favourite small brands and businesses have created their own colouring sheets, printable, and for free, using their signature styles and branding. Some of these sheets are perfect for colouring and popping up in your windows to brighten the day of your neighbours and those passing by. Some of these sheets might also be nice to colour and send to those that you’re missing or as a little “hello” note for neighbours or perhaps (like us) you have a local nursing home that are accepting artwork to spark a little bit of joy for residents.
Also, just to add, these colouring sheets are predominantly aimed at the kids, but let’s not lie to ourselves when we say that “we’re printing them for the kids”. Because they’re really good when you’re a fully fledged adult too. Whatever that is…
Without further ado, I have compiled a list of all my favourite colouring sheets so far. I’ll continue adding more as they crop up.
Enjoy colouring – and let me know which you’ve done!
I feel so bloody chuffed to be finally writing a POSITIVE birth story. Despite beginning our Hypnobirthing journey at 25 weeks pregnant, I think its fair to say that I doubted how this labour would pan out. I had a traumatic birth with Eli that lasted 30+ hours due to induction at 42 weeks. I won’t go into the story of Eli’s birth, because I have made ‘peace’ with it now and its not healthy to continue to dwell on it (hiya Mum-Guilt, great to see you again).
So I’ll push the previous history to one side and start from the beginning with Edie’s birth now.
I had initially set out to avoid ALL intervention with this pregnancy, including any sweeps. I’d had 4 failed sweeps with Eli and felt it was a pretty pointless procedure, in my opinion. I voiced this in my birth preferences and talked through interventions with my community midwife team. Instead, from around 35 weeks I started drinking in my all of the Raspberry Leaf Tea, I started eating 6 dates a day and then when we hit 37 weeks, I started taking a bath on an evening infused with Clary Sage essential oil, I started eating fresh pineapple (including the core, ‘cos Bromelain), I added Clary Sage to the oil diffuser with lavender, we added Clary Sage to Cowshed body oil and massaged it into my bump and ankles (!!), I used my Medela Swing for 5-10 minutes on each breast in an attempt to stimulate oxytocin and continued to go to bed and meditate using my Positive Birth Company MP3′s.
But at my 40 week appointment, I was HOT and beginning to feel a bit fed up. When asked if I still wanted to decline any intervention….I said “sod it” and agreed to a one-time sweep. Just to see…
I was advised if anything was to ‘happen’ it would do so within 48 hours. Obviously, all of the above are old wives tales – Hypnobirthing science aside, of course! Nothing is going to push your body into giving birth. Your baby will come, when your baby is ready.
At 1pm, 48 hours (practically!) to the minute, I started to have what I thought were Braxton Hicks. Eli and I hauled ourselves into my bedroom and I whacked Friends on whilst he played on Minecraft. We had lunch and I kept an eye on the frequency of the surges (contractions). They seemed regular. I opened up the Freya App on my phone and began timing the surges – they were lasting 30 seconds or so and were 6 minutes apart. I convinced myself this wasn’t labour and decided it would be a good idea to tidy the entire house, hoover, clean my bedroom window and then sew up a pair of James’ trousers that I’d been putting off.
Now it was about 4pm and the surges had continued to stay regular throughout all my weird nesting chores. I texted James and asked him to keep an eye on the trains (we’d had dreadful local flooding the day before) but assured him that I was fine and it ‘probably’ wasn’t even real surges. By 5:30, the surges were more frequent and lasting 40-60 seconds. I texted James and asked him to leave work because the surges were lasting longer and had become more powerful (painful). I was really feeling the effects of ‘Up Breathing’ at this point – I couldn’t get through a surge without it.
James got home just after 6:30pm and made me beans on french toast, incase I was in labour. Then he fannied about making tea for himself and Eli. Meanwhile, the Freya App told me I was in established labour…
By 7pm, the surges were less than 3 minutes apart and I was reallllllly feeling it. I had two paracetamol (LOL) and made James get a rush on with eating his tea and sorting Eli out. Of course James was ridiculously laid back about all of this! By 7:30pm I got in the bath and I asked James to ring Maternity Triage to ask for advice. We both spoke to the Midwives on Triage – they were so lovely and advised I should go in to be assessed.
I said my goodbye’s to Eli – and he kissed the bump for the last time. He told me he was proud of me and that I MUST remember to keep breathing! (I did). He grabbed his suitcase, iPad and monkey and off he went on his own adventure next door!
At 8pm, we were in the car making the 10 minute journey to Stepping Hill Hospital. I had the soothing tone of Siobhan Miller in my headphones and whacked on a eye-mask so I could concentrate – I’d also added Clary Sage and Lavender to one of Eli’s old muslin’s to breathe in. I’d convinced myself I must have been about 5-6cm, especially as the surges were so close together now.
We made it to Triage just after 8:15pm and were immediately seen. I really struggled with the examination due to the frequency and power of my surges. It took my Midwife, Deb, a little while to get me on the bed to be assessed. Eventually she managed and announced that I was JUST 1cm dilated. I couldn’t believe it. If this was barely the beginning, I had absolutely NO IDEA how I could cope with the rest of labour. I had to knock that doubt straight out of my head and by 9pm, we were on our way back home.
James put candles around the bedroom, closed the curtains then on the oil diffuser went. I kept the Positive Affirmations MP3 going via my headphones, rocked back and forth on my birth ball and we continued to time the surges. By 10pm James noticed that my breathing had changed and kept putting me back on track. Sadly, I couldn’t deal with him massaging my back or doing the light touch we’d planned on – I was completely in the zone, kept my eyes closed, and was doing exactly what my body told me to do.
By 11pm, I couldn’t cope with the sheer power of the surges and there was little to no break between them now. I had to switch off the MP3 at this point because some of the affirmations weren’t totally relevant. Instead, I used my visualisations (of St. Ives beach! and also of the placement of my favourite positive affirmation cards around the house) and I kept repeating my favourite affirmations to myself: ‘my surges cannot be more powerful than me, because they are me‘ and ‘every surge brings me closer to my baby‘. I got James to ring Triage again, they advised that being in our home environment for as long as possible would be better than going back to the hospital again – especially as it had only been 2 hours since we left (and my waters were still in tact).
Reluctantly, I continued to labour at home – we knew I was in real labour so I turned off my phone and the Freya App which had proven to be so invaluable during and up till this point. By 11:30 I found I had too much discomfort in my coccyx and it felt like my bladder was overly full – but I couldn’t pass urine (I couldn’t get off the ball to get to the toilet to be truthful!). I’m not gonna lie here, I was in total agony. My breathing had changed once again and I was actively ‘Down Breathing’, James kept trying to bring it back to Up Breathing, but there was no chance. I was screaming out as I reached the peak of each surge now too. It was an animalistic release – which brought me a real relief too.
I was thinking I needed an immediate Epidural – or even better -to be knocked out for a C-Section. I felt like I couldn’t go any longer*. There was no way any other drug would help me now. I needed my baby to come out and we HAD to get to the hospital. Then POW my waters broke. It was a massive gush of warmth down my legs, which I ignored and continued to breathe and bounce. Thankfully, my waters were clear. PHEW.
*I now understand that what I was feeling here was TRANSITION.
Transition is the final phase of the first stage of labour, following early and active labour. At this point, a woman progresses from seven to 10 centimetres, often in less than an hour. The word transition means that her body is making the shift from opening the cervix to the beginning of the baby’s descent.
As I’d been induced with Eli and the midwives failed to break my waters on no less than 3 occasions, I had no experience of what it felt like to have your waters break naturally. It was absolutely crackers – it was a big pop towards my public bone and I knew then, that she was coming. James rang Triage and told them we were en route again and my waters had now gone.
It took me about 6 minutes to get from our bedroom to the car on the drive. How I managed to get down the stairs I will never know.
Outside was so eery. It was midnight and there was a low cloud – you could barely see in front of you – it was completely silent. James drove SO carefully to the hospital – I screamed at him “this is one time you’re allowed to rag the car about!”. It was quite honestly like a film.
But he kept his cool. He has since admitted he didn’t think I was much further along than the 1cm, so he was relatively laid back.I do have a reputation for over-dramatising situations – so this isn’t his fault.
We got to the hospital and he parked up. I couldn’t get out of the car. I was screaming through my surges and my body started pushing down. I had no control over the pushing. It’s what my body wanted to do. Once through the hospital entrance, James grabbed a wheelchair. I jumped onto it, on my knees and he dragged me to the lift. There was another woman behind us, who was apparently also pushing. She waited for the next lift.
James tried to get me through the double doors once at Triage, but he was struggling, so I jumped off the wheelchair and ran into a room, stripped all of my clothes off and got on the bed, on all fours. I announced I was Hypnobirthing and pushing.
Deb, my midwife, who I’d seen only 3 hours earlier, was attempting to calm me down so she could assess if I was indeed dilated enough to be pushing. She said she could see the baby’s head and that she was going to coach me through the pushing. Sarah, the second midwife on Triage came in and let us know that the lady behind us was also pushing and she had alerted the Delivery Suite about the two of us. But it was too late for me – I was going to give birth in Triage!
I pushed Edie’s head out in 3 pushes – 2 pushes later she was completely out – shocked, but blinking. She’d been born in the wrong department, 10 minutes after arriving. I scooped her up between my legs and rubbed at her little body. She wasn’t breathing – Deb cut the cord and grabbed a towel to try and rouse Edie. After a minute or so, Edie was taken away to Resuscitation.
As we’d not been able to have delayed cord clamping because Edie had rushed into the world, I used my B.R.A.I.N and agreed to having Active Management of the placenta. Deb administered the injection of Syntocinon and began massaging my tummy. A few minutes of surges and pushing later my placenta was delivered. While the placenta was in tact, Deb noticed that out came a gush of meconium with it. This indicated that Edie had passed her first bowel movement with the stress of coming out so quickly.
We were all shell-shocked.
It felt like a lifetime before Edie was brought back to us.
When she was finally placed in my arms, I relaxed down. I felt the biggest rush of love, EVER. I’d done it. I’d given birth to our daughter, using Hypnobirthing tools and without any pain relief whatsoever. I’d gone from 1cm dilated to giving birth in the space of 3 hours.
I couldn’t believe it.
I still can’t believe it – almost a fortnight on. It still feels like a totally surreal, but serene, experience. Kind of out of body. I can remember every single detail. Which is something I am missing from Eli’s birth, due to the amount of drugs that were administered.
Deb finished cleaning me up and then we were taken to the Delivery Suite (ironically). Once there, Edie was taken to the warming cot by my new Midwife Eileen, who took bloods and called a Paediatrician down. There had been issues with the PH gasses of the placenta, meaning Edie needed some extra monitoring. Eileen was an Irish midwife who was just the biggest and brightest soul. She was old school and simply magical.
There was a struggle with getting the right amount of blood from Edie so more specialists were called. Remembering my Hypnobirthing kept me as calm as I could possibly be. James didn’t leave her side – he held onto her tiny hand while Eileen repeatedly checked my stat’s and then called for a Doctor to repair the 2nd degree tear I’d received. After a fairly shocking Episiotomy (that landed me with blood poisoning and a week back in hospital following Eli’s birth), a specialist was required for the repair job. I finally got my hands on Gas & Air. I did as I was asked and took 10 deep and quick breaths on the gas, I shouted that it didn’t work in that oh so familiar low-tone and then felt that floating feeling. My Doctor, Sarah, started stitching, I could feel it, so I got my breathing in order using Up Breathing and sailed high and free. Bliss.
I didn’t want to hand the gas back, but Eileen made me. She then brought that Tea and Toast… so all was forgiven!
This experience was so far-removed from my previous labour and recovery. For one, James was addressed at every single opportunity. Which made such a difference.
Eileen ever so sweetly grabbed my toiletry bag from my case and started unpacking the shampoo and conditioner so I could have a shower with everything I needed. It’s such an intense relationship that you form with a Midwife, in such a short time. I felt so overwhelmed with love and support from Eileen – I could actually cry right now, remembering how she cared for me.
We weren’t rushed at all; given all the time we needed, but by 5am, it was time to head to the postnatal ward, MAT2. I went into a wheelchair, pulled by Eileen, holding tightly onto Edie who was now bundled in blankets and her very first baby grow. A red knitted hat was given – this was intentional – we later found out that different coloured hats meant different things. For us, the red hat was a signifier for staff that Edie had needed special care (as well as keeping her little head warm!). We said our goodbye’s to Eileen and settled into the cubicle on the ward. James was even allowed to stay – again, this meant the world to us as he’d been sent straight home following the birth of Eli.
6am and James was snoring in the corner, I watched the sunrise through the gap in the curtains and felt the most intense love for this little human in my arms.
At 6:30am I was introduced to Emma, the Midwife on duty – she took mine and Edie’s stat’s and I was given Paracetamol for the after-pains you experience post-birth. We were also shown to the family kitchen, which was stocked to the brim with breakfast foods and an array of tea’s and coffee – of which James was allowed to access too. I was soon given a menu to choose my main meals for the rest of the day. We were then left to chill for 3 hours until our stat’s were repeated again. I tried to sleep, but it was warm and loud as new patients were added to the ward – along with people having their own stat’s read. I couldn’t stop staring at my new sweet baby girl anyway, so nothing was going to interrupt or impact on that!
By 9am, James wanted to grab Eli from our amazing neighbours next door and freshen up. At 11am he returned and our glorious children met for the very first time.
To say I was emotional at our little family all meeting for the first time, would be a total understatement. I cried the happiest tears I imagine I’ll ever cry. I am so proud and so happy and so full of love, I’m not sure how I haven’t burst yet!
As Edie had needed special care, she was closely monitored by specialists – they found that her temperature was going up and down (only very slightly), but enough to warrant an extra night in hospital.
This was completely fine by me. It was a welcome stay. I wasn’t rushed out – in fact, the nurses told me we could stay as long as we wanted to! This really helped with my anxiety and stress. I felt like we had real personal care here – by professionals who were passionate about our wellbeing. We weren’t just another ‘number’ – which is how we felt at the hospital where we had Eli. (I am trying not to dwell on that past experience!)
Unfortunately, our first night, just us two, was not so successful. Edie screamed the ward down from 11pm until around 6am. I think she was over-tired and nothing I could do would overcome that. Two midwives came to the rescue and she eventually calmed down. I tried my best not to get stressed over it, but when you’re on a ward, its difficult to not worry about everyone else! I ended up walking up and down the hospital corridors for a few hours. As soon as I fell asleep, James and Eli arrived for the day.
We had a full day of monitoring to get through before we were allowed to go home. Edie’s temperature eventually stabilised and all my stat’s were good. We then had a the Newborn hearing test and as Edie had received special care, a Paediatrician had to sign her Newborn Check off before we were discharged.
Everything was signed off and we were given the A-OK to head home in the evening!
We got home and all our neighbours came out to greet us. We had fish and chips and we all slept mega soundly. It was just the perfect start to our new family life.
In complete honesty, I would not have had the same pregnancy OR indeed birth experience without The Positive Birth Company. I may not have had any of the TEN birth scenario’s that I wrote preferences for, or planned for (didn’t get to use the LED tea lights, playlist, oils or massage, birth pool or delayed cord clamping) but this was still such an incredibly positive birth. An amazing labour and birth and so far, postpartum period.
From the Digital Course to reading the daily positive birth stories, I would not have been able to do it without the PBC and the Freya App. I felt so prepared and at ease this time around. I was genuinely excited for Edie’s birth and I’ve probably never felt more ‘zen’ in my entire life – which is quite the statement, coming from me. I feel a peace with both my birth experiences and the Hypnobirthing tools I learned will live with me forever! I’ve even used several affirmations and the breathing techniques since having Edie.
I have never, felt so empowered and strong and brave in my entire life – and I doubt I ever will feel like this ever again.
So thank you Siobhan and the PBC for allowing me to have confidence in myself and my own decisions. I cannot recommend The Positive Birth Company enough. From our little family of four to you Siobhan, THANK YOU!
For clarity, I was kindly #gifted The Digital Course by The Positive Birth Company. This is not a sponsored, paid post or an ad.
I only shout about items that I genuinely believe in, so be safe in the knowledge that I’m in love The PBC!
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).
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, plusmy 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.
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!
MORE FROM THE POSITIVE BIRTH COMPANY
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.
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!”
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.
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!
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.
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 🙂
So last time I packed my hospital bag for labour, I packed WAY TOO MUCH. We ended up taking a medium sized suitcase, a bag for me, the changing bag, a bag for James AND a bag full of food and drinks and snacks. We didn’t even open the suitcase during labour and James could have done without a bag, I could have done without a bag and I’m SO GLAD we have a PROPER changing bag*this time around (its mega organised).
*Kindly #gifted by the wonder women at Tiba + Marl
Don’t get me wrong, you do NEED to take a lot of STUFF into hospital with you, if thats where you’re choosing to birth your baby, of course! If you’re opting for a home-birth, then:
I envy you (!!)
You will have everything you need at your immediate disposal…
…although, some of the below items may still be useful for home birth – and could be useful to have packed incase of a hospital transfer too.
So here we go, a list for the Mama, a list for the Baba and a list for your birth partner – plus a list of things that are good to have sorted and at hand for when the time comes. I’ll add in links for you to quick shop where possible too!
Car Seat – we’ve gone for another MAXI COSI car seat this time as we loved the security of the one we had for Eli, but the laws have all changed since he was a newborn. Just a reminder that many NHS trusts will not allow the baby to leave the department WITHOUT proof of a car seat for safety reasons.
To have ready to hand //
Cash for car park
Pen & Paper – just incase you need to leave a note in a hurry
Cash for payphone – there might not be signal. The battery might go on your phone!
List of important phone numbers on paper
In the lead-up to your ‘due window’, ensure you have enough fuel in the car
Headphones & Eye Mask for the journey to the hospital
Is there anything I’m missing from above, that might prove absolutely essential for you during labour or afterwards? Comment below or send me a message and I’ll get it added in!
For ease – you can check my most favourite essentials out via the SHOP, here>>> HOSPITAL BAG
For clarity, this is not a sponsored or paid post – but does contain some Affiliate links. I was also kindly #gifted a few items, as highlighted above – this was not in exchange for payment or a post. They’re just damn lovely and generous women!
I only shout about items that I genuinely believe in however, so be safe in the knowledge that I’m in love with these essential baby items!
Having suffered quite badly with SPD throughout my pregnancy with Eli, I was already feeling those familiar pregnancy aches from quite early on in this pregnancy. From around 10 weeks in, I was beginning to struggle with sleeping so looked into pregnancy pillows. I’d had a pretty flimsy one last time (7 years ago, there weren’t many sleep supports on the market!). It did it’s best, but it definitely didn’t offer me the support I really needed. So, as long as there was good enough evidence/positive reviews, we agreed we would pay the extra and really invest in the pregnancy pillow this time around.
I asked the question – Can you recommend a brilliant pregnancy pillow please? – to my IG stories following. The top three answers were:
I wanted to wait until post-12 week scan to order, because I still had pregnancy anxiety. After a lot of further research, and although the most expensive of the pillows we looked at, post-12 weeks we ordered the BBHugMe Pillow in the luscious Dusky Pink colourway. (The pillow also comes in several additional colours – there are also additional spare colours available too – I’ve added these all to my SHOP. CLICK HERE). We felt there was more than enough evidence to suggest it was the best one for me – plus it could be used post-partum with the babe being able to relax on it/Eli being able to relax on it/us being able to relax on it, as well as a support whilst feeding.
We managed to get quite a good deal on the pillow by going via Topcashback and then had a promotional code for Jo Jo Maman Bebe itself! The pillow looks great in the bedroom, it really doesn’t look out of place aesthetically – like my old one did – it looks like its just a luxury additional pillow! It also looks smashing on the sofa, where I have been using it more frequently when laying watching TV (when I’m not swaying on my Yoga ball of course).
I’m now 30 weeks pregnant and I can quite honestly say that this pillow has changed my life. Nay, it’s changed the life of Eli and indeed, James too! We all absolutely love it.
At 30 weeks, I’m currently up once in the night for a toilet trip – by this point with Eli, I was up several times. I’m not saying this scientifically, but from my experience, I’m going to put my excellent (current) bladder routine down to the BBHUGME Pillow. The way it supports my bump and pelvis MUST be working alongside in support of my bladder too.
And whats even better is, I get so comfortable, so easily and quickly, that I’m drifting off to sleep in a much more relaxed way too. I’ve often had to read/watch TV/listen to music to fall asleep – I’ve always need distractions to ease me off – but not now! I can happily and proudly say, I fall straight to sleep, on my own, no distractions necessary! I can see this pillow in bed with me for the long run… sorry James!
SO, to surmise, I’d say so far, this is the best pregnancy item that we’ve ever bought. Yes, its more pricey, but you cannot put a price on the comfort, support and peaceful slumber I’ve been able to get from the pillow this time. This pillow can be adjusted to just how you like it as the beads inside are flexible – this means the pillow will grow with all shapes and sizes throughout pregnancy and beyond. It comes with a carry bag if you’re travelling about – and guess what else? The cover is machine washable – praise be!
For product details, information on the design of this product and the experts behind the BBHUGME pillow, please read below.
MORE ABOUT THE BBHUGME PILLOW
Developed by natural and medical health professionals
Bbhugme was created by three chiropractors from Norway, Hilde, Ann Kristin and Elisabeth, who shared a deep interest in chiropractic care of pregnant women, moms and babies. They saw many teary, sleep-deprived women who were suffering from pelvic and back pain before, during and after pregnancy. The three realised that the women needed even more support and care – a long-lasting, take-home solution that could support them beyond the care they get at clinics. This was the origin of the bbhugme pillow.
A better pillow
The three chiropractors got together with designers to make a unique pillow that mothers could count on for support. The pillow comes from focus on the details that mapper. The right shape, filled with a specific size and type of mirco-beads, gives sturdy, but flexible support for every body type. The pillow fabric is elastic, yet strong enough to avoid being ripped when used. Allergy- and eco-friendliness are also important. For nursing the baby, it helps if the pillow can be strapped around the body. Zippers and velcro aren’t soft enough, so we use a tie that allows mothers to remove and wash the outer sleeve.
The hard work that went into the design process was recognized in 2015, when bbhugme won “Best Design Award” from The Norwegian Centre for Design and Architecture.
Serving mothers around the world
From serving Norwegian customers, the company has grown and is now expanding into Europe and the USA. Sales through retailers, chiropractors and online are growing quickly. What remains the same is that we’re a company driven by professionalism, passion and care for the pregnant women and mothers that we created bbhugme for. It’s their stories of relaxation, contentment and comfort that have made this project worth it.
Meet the experts
bbhugme® products are tested and quality approved by out panel of specialists in health, motherhood and design. They know a lot about caring for women and new families. They’re also curious and caring, always out to learn more – and share what they know.
DR. HILDE TAVARES
FOUNDER | CHIROPRACTOR
Hilde is an innovator, instructor, speaker, entrepreneur – and mother to three lively children. She’s practiced family wellness care in Norway since 2002 and has an advanced degree in musculoskeletal health in pregnancy and paediatrics.
“I’m passionate about supporting and caring for women and their partners through pregnancy, birth and infancy.”
ANN KRISTIN HOMDRUM
FOUNDER | CHIROPRACTOR
Ann Kristin is a chiropractor, author, speaker and entrepreneur, who has dedicated her life to learning and teaching about conscious health decisions. She specializes in chiropractic care for pregnant women and children and breastfeeding support.
“I believe in enjoying family life to the fullest, through a natural and healthy lifestyle.”
PSYCHOLOGIST | PSYCHOTHERAPIST
Tine is a specialist in neurology and cognition for the female brain with hormonal influence. She runs a clinic in Oslo, offering
therapy for individuals and families, in partnership with other experts in pregnancy, yoga and holistic medicine.
“I’m dedicated to supporting and preparing pregnant women and new families for a new phase in their lives.”
ÅSA LIND MELIN
In 25 years, Åsa’s nearly done it all, in midwifery, birth, pregnancy care, and women’s health.
She’s trained in baby massage and Shiatsu massage for pregnant women, worked in delivery wards, managed a private practice and operated her own midwifery practice, and counselled clients on pregnancy and birth.
“I help prepare families for the rollercoaster that starts with a new baby arriving in the home.”
—– For clarity, this is not a sponsored or paid post – but does contain some Affiliate links.
I only shout about items that I genuinely believe in however, so be safe in the knowledge that I’m in love with this product!
Pregnancy and your mouth. What’s being pregnant got to do with your mouth, I hear you ask?!
Well, stranger on the internet, I’m talking all about how Pregnancy can affect your oral health. In this case, my personal experience with both my gums and teeth during my pregnancies. Because how conceiving a baby can send your oral health into turmoil is something that just isn’t spoken about. It’s another one of those ‘pregnancy treats’ that you don’t find out about until you’re struck down!
My teeth were ground to bits when I was pregnant with Eli – for some reason, being pregnant gives you more of reason to grind those toothies. I’d also clench my teeth together too. As I type this, my teeth are currently clenched. But I think that this current clenching is due to stopping myself from feeling so nauseous. Some women tend to grind their teeth or clench their jaws, especially during deep sleep or times of stress. Teeth grinding is also know by the medical term ‘bruxism’. Sometimes, teeth grinding can lead to several problems. It can wear down tooth enamel, which it had/has in my case and can cause chipping of the teeth, increase the sensitivity of the teeth to heat and cold and cause pain to the face and the jaw. I also tended/tend to wake up with a sore jaw and headache. For this reason, I was fitted with a mouth guard for use when sleeping when I was pregnant with Eli. However, once Eli arrived, my teeth also had a shift about and the guard no longer fit properly!
Your teeth are more sensitive during pregnancy, even from the very beginning. Hormonal changes during pregnancy can make your gums more vulnerable to plaque, leading to inflammation and bleeding. This is also called pregnancy gingivitis or gum disease. Morning Sickness All Day Sickness is another treat that can cause some serious damage to your teeth and gums. During bouts of sickness and nausea, make sure you rinse your mouth with plain water after each time you vomit. This will help prevent the acid in your vomit attacking your teeth. Do not brush your teeth straight away as they will be softened by the acid from your stomach. Wait about an hour before doing so.
I wasn’t sure if the old wives tale of “you lose a tooth for every pregnancy” rang true – but I did have a wisdom tooth extracted shortly after Eli was born and I’ve had a total carry on with my teeth of recent. All of which is why I am beyond thankful to the amazing NHS for offering their dentist services for free during pregnancy.
Luckily, here in England, Pregnant women can apply for a Maternity Exception Certificate via their Midwife or GP. Details of which you can find, here.
At time of this blog post being published, in February 2019, if you’re pregnant or have given birth in the last 12 months, you are entitled to:
free NHS dental treatment
free NHS prescriptions if you have a valid maternity exemption certificate
A maternity exemption certificate:
entitles you to free prescriptions
can be used to prove your entitlement to free NHS dental treatment
You’re also entitled to continue to use your exception card for 12 months after your baby is born. If you did not apply for a maternity exemption certificate while you were pregnant, you can still apply at any time during the 12 months after your baby is born.
This pregnancy started with swollen, painful gums that bled and a struggle to brush my teeth without borking 😭 I was waking with that pain in my jaw and ear from clenching and grinding my teeth in my sleep and had impressions done for a new mouth guard; in hope it would bring some relief.
Fast forward to two weeks ago I went to the dentist again about a troublesome tooth that had cracked. It was so painful… or at least I thought it was painful until my dentist went gung-ho with a drill in an attempt to revive the old filling and where the tooth had cracked in half. The dentist filled the gaps and sent me on my way. Taking heed of the NHS advice to avoid painkillers; I basically laid my sad little face on a hot water bottle for a week.
By the Friday of the same week, I had cried every single day with the pain. After all my previous dental treatment (so many tooth extractions, braces, a retainer and my wisdom tooth removed), I’d never had pain like this. Another appointment saw that the nerves were damaged in my tooth where it was drilled earlier in the week. I was offered Root Canal treatment or pulling it out. The best option for me was E X T R A C T I O N. I just wanted the tooth gone, I was in total agony.
Brilliant. Nee bother. I’ve had half of my teeth removed since age 9, so loosing another one wouldn’t be a problem 🤷♀️
The anaesthetic soon got to work and my dentist began to pull and tug. She was pulling with such force she knocked my safety goggles off. 25 minutes later and a lot of me moo’ing like a cow (thinking I was being a wimp…) , I went pale, floppy and a first aider was sent in. I’d had a dip in blood pressure, blood sugar and it turned out that I had not been given enough anaesthetic. I was given a tablet, more anaesthetic (5 needles worth in total) and a further 25 minutes later the sodding tooth was out; in around 20 pieces. I’ve never had an extraction like it. I went home, totally shook.
My jaw, cheek, ear, sinuses and the gum were so swollen and I was in such agony. I threw up and eventually I gave in an swallowed two paracetamol and laid my face upon my trusty hot water bottle once again. It looked like we could see my jaw bone in my gum and I didn’t have a blood clot on the gum at all. Because of this, I was religiously, but gently, swilling with warm salt water to be on the safe side.
By Sunday evening, I was still in such pain – but just thought again, I’m being a right wimp, my pain threshold isn’t as high ‘cos pregnant. But Monday morning came and my gum wasn’t right. My mouth tasted vile. The ‘stuff’ we thought was ‘granulation’ on my gum, was in fact infection. Straight back to the dentist I went. As my dentist is beyond cautious of how she treats pregnant women, she diagnosed Dry Socket and cleaned out the infection then injected something into my gum. I was not prescribed antibiotics or painkillers, as my dentist felt that my body was doing a “good job” of attempting to recover the gum itself. Some medicine was packed into the socket and I was sent on my way. The medicine tasted rank – kind of like chewing raw cloves, but I got used to it fairly quickly. I’d say by 3pm, I was more of less pain free. I couldn’t believe the relief. I cried because it was so weird to feel more normal!
I went to bed on Monday evening feeling pretty smug that I no longer needed my hot water bottle. But POW, its 3am and your gum and jaw and ear and cheek and sinuses are back to screaming in pain. BRILLIANT. The infection had pushed the gauze and whatever else was packed into my gum, out. The taste was unbearable. I couldn’t fall back to sleep.
I woke up today feeling sick, lightheaded and my mouth tastes absolutely vile. I’m 5 tablets into my course of Amoxicillin however and I’m bloody hoping they do the trick because there is still pain there too.
Moral of the story? Visit your dentist regularly. Especially when you’re pregnant!
“If you want the rainbow, you have to deal with the rain.”
― John Green, The Fault in Our Stars
OH HEY BABY! 🌿
It’s been nice carrying this wondrous little secret for the last 13 weeks & 1 day, but it felt even better seeing this 🌈 baba doing somersaults at our 12 week scan, last Friday! ✨
This isn’t the first scan we had during this pregnancy though. As this is a pregnancy after loss, I was given a scan at what we thought was 7-8 weeks. The measurements however tallied up to being more like 6 weeks, though a strong heartbeat could be seen. While this was a relief to see such a teeny, tiny flickering heart beat, I couldn’t stop feeling anxious that something wasn’t right. Was the baby not growing adequately? How could my dates not be right? We’d been doing Ovulation Tests as it took so much longer to conceive this time (I’ll be writing a post on this later). James tried to reassure me with lots of logical explanations for all of my worries. Then I went back into my pregnancy app (I use the FLO Heath app for Apple which iPhone Health) and realised that my dates were a week out, d’oh. And so the baby brain begins!
Can we just talk about the difference in the scans?! The 12 week scan dates this baby to be 12 weeks & 6 days. The first scan dates the baby to be around 6 weeks. So in 6 weeks, a whole baby has completely formed and I find it so extraordinary. To see the baby bouncing around in my tummy with two hands and two legs and a whole spine and ribs and heart and brain and NOSE. It’s just so magical and I don’t think I will ever get over how amazing a sight that is.
3 months have slowly gone by, filled with a heccuva lot of nausea (way worse than Eli), the biggest food aversions to everything, ever (way worse than Eli), tiredness (way worse than Eli), major anxiety (way worse than Eli) and my heart filled with an insane amount of hope (just like with Eli)💫
Our new little babe has the same due date we were given with Eli too – so that’s been LOLs😂
Eli is ridiculously excited to be a big brother – and has been looking after me like a proper little boss!🖤 Oh and @jameshill.tv is pretty made up too 🥰
Today, our wonderful NHS turns 70 years old. I want to say thank you, in so many ways, but where do I even begin?
From the births of newborn’s in our families, to the NHS managing the old-age of our Grandparents; through to my Dad and my Father-in-Law both undergoing Triple Heart Bypasses; the NHS has saved the lives of many dear to us.
Over the past year alone, both our families and our friends, have spent a lot of time in the amazing hands of our incredible NHS. James and I, ourselves, both spent time in hospital for our various ailments. I was in and out of hospital with many appointments and intervention and finally my operation for my long, long, long, Miscarriage, over the course of 3 months at the back-end of last year. We started our move to Manchester, this year, with a trip to A&E, resulting in James spending the night and day on a hospital ward on several drips. Bringing this up to recent days, very recent days in fact, my Dad went through his first Hip Replacement operation on Monday of this week. He was home by Tuesday evening. Miraculous. And mostly thanks to the care he’s received, no doubt. He’s literally just texted me “Slept through the night, good eh? Love Dad xxx”. He’s sleeping better than me, that’s for sure! Also, shout out to my darling Tessa who has been feeling the love and care of the NHS recently too.
During my own 32 years on the planet, the NHS has been there for me so many times, I wouldn’t dare to even count. From having my own feet ‘corrected’, routine appointments as a child and all the immunisations, the many chest infections, X-Rays and various types of Scans, chopping the top of my thumb off (at nursery with a potato peeler, hey, it was the late 80s, zero health & safety then pal!) Ear, Throat & Nose issues, having an Adenoidectomy aged 6, sodding Acne, orthodontic treatment and the horrible train-tracks braces I had for 3 years, treatment for Hay-fever, hearing-tests, eye-tests (and yes, I do need glasses), adult immunisations, The Pill and all the issues that come and go with that, my Smear tests, Endometriosis investigations, my anxiety, my pregnancy and the birth of Eli (oh and the aftermath that could have resulted in me losing my life), my Miscarriage. For every single ailment, no matter how big or small, how urgent or trivial, I have always been treated as a human being, treated with the utmost care, compassion and sensitivity. Even at my absolute lowest, my most vulnerable, with blood dripping down my legs, a Nurse ran to my aid and cleaned me up without batting an eyelid, then gave me a cuddle afterwards. NHS Nurses and Doctors have gone above and beyond their call of duty for me… for us as a family.
Oddly enough, James received a referral letter for a hospital appointment just yesterday – he will be seen at Trafford General Hospital here in the heart of Manchester; the place we’ve very easily fallen in love with and now call home. What’s the significance I hear you ask? WELL, low and bloody behold – on this day, in 1948, the NHS was born and launched at this very hospital.
5th July 1948 – The NHS is born*
When Aneurin Bevan (above), the health secretary, launched the NHS at Park Hospital in Manchester (today known as Trafford General Hospital), it was the climax of a hugely ambitious plan to bring good healthcare to all.
For the first time, hospitals, doctors, nurses, pharmacists, opticians and dentists are brought together under one umbrella organisation to provide services that are free for all at the point of delivery.
The central principles are clear: the health service will be available to all and financed entirely from taxation, which means that people pay into it according to their means.
The thing to also remember is, our wonderful NHS wouldn’t be able to function without SO MANY different people in SO MANY different roles. The Nurses & Doctors, Dentists and Optometrists, are of course central to the NHS, but then there are the admin staff, the porters, the cooks and the cleaners… and not forgetting all the many volunteers. You all deserve something a lot higher than a ‘medal’, that’s a certainty. Heroes. Inspirational. Wonderful. Wonderful. WONDERFUL PEOPLE. We are so lucky to have the NHS and everyone who works within the discipline. From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you all, and we are forever in your debt.
So I will sign off, with a heart full of love and admiration for our truly marvellous NHS – Happy 70th Birthday; AND MANY MOOOOOORE
It’s been a little while since I mentioned our Miscarriage. 160 days, in fact, since my last post on here about it all. Because you don’t need me to tell you, life just has to move along. Especially when you have an Eli AND a James to look after too (!)
Since the end of the miscarriage, so much has happened. I’ve had the most spontaneous evening with Harry Styles, The Retreat, Bonfire Night, Christmas, New Year (fresh slate), proposed move to Manchester (happening sometime, SOON!), followed by a stay in Manchester Royal Hospital (James, after a visit to A&E), a birthday surprise for my Papa and Mother’s Day. But here we are, almost half way into March. A month I’ve been desperately trying to not think about. But it’s here now and I have to face up to it. So by bashing this all out on the keyboard, I’m hoping I can get some kind of cathartic release.
So March. What’s the significance?
Well, my due date would have been, TODAY, 15th March.
So I knew that, at some point in March, whether that baby came early, or today, or indeed like their Big Brother, Eli, and arrived super late – we knew had prepared that to have a brand new baba, in March. Today our arms are empty.
But obviously, this is not the case. This isn’t what’s happening this March, at least.
Today, I’ve had messages of love and support and care and its been so nice. I’ve had the head tilt, which has cheered me up without anyone even realising (a la Richard in Friends, see my reference, here) (SIDE NOTE // does anyone else live their days through quotes from FRIENDS? I can’t think of a day when I didn’t reference it at least!)
How have I been?
Well, physically, I felt battered and bruised for a few weeks post-operation – really exhausted. I slept through the day a lot. Mentally, I was totally drained. But I had to keep going – especially for Eli. I also overate, no rhyme or reason, but I couldn’t stop eating. Boy am I paying for it now as I try and shift off the pounds! Though, I’ve lost 10lbs in 5 weeks, so I’m getting there slowly.
Cycle-wise, my periods returned, a few days out from when I expected and they are still a bit strange. As I mentioned lots before, my periods are exceptionally painful (Endometriosis) and usually with an excessive amount of blood loss. While the pain has been the same (!!) as before, the blood loss is somewhat scant. So I’m wondering whether some endometrial tissue was removed during the ERPC operation? Who knows – but my body is still keeping me on my toes.
FYI – just after the New Year I received my ‘invitation’ for my Cervical Screening Test. I went to book it and was told to wait until 3-4 months AFTER the ERPC, to allow for the cells around the cervix to regrow following a miscarriage. I had my Smear test last week – awaiting the letter back. But as usual, it was smashing, no problems with the procedure at all. It took around 2 mins, tops.
Following my operation I had a spate of infections (chest/ear/lung/so many colds). It culminated with a Spirometry Test and our darling Coco heading to a rescue centre to be re-homed. The diagnosis was COPD and I have a lung age of 61. Shockingly, I’ve never smoked and I’m only 31. Since Coco was re-homed however, my symptoms have dwindled and I feel much more healthy again! I’m sorry to say its all probably quite likely that I had a pet allergy 🙁 But I’m pretty impressed with my recovery and taking just one inhaler a day now. (Also, it goes without saying too – Mum’s ARE always right, damn!)
I became jealous, I guess, and sad – wouldn’t ‘luck’ just have it that so many friends (and IG strangers!) were announcing their pregnancies and births? Of course it would. Though, as it is fairly obvious, I do absolutely love a baba (I wouldn’t be craving my maternal duties again if I didn’t!) and it’s so wonderful to see these new babes coming safely into the world. I am honestly over the moon for everyone I’ve come into contact with who has told me of their happy news! But then I feel the intense guilt for feeling this sadness… part of me can’t help but think, this should also be us. We could be sharing our happy news right now too. Aren’t emotions bloody brilliant, eh?
Mentally – I’ve all over the place.
I’ve had a weeks and weeks where things have been great! Actually never better! But the closer we’ve come into March, the more vulnerable I’ve felt.
This week, I feel low and sad and diminished.
Without this being a completely sombre update, right now, I feel like I have this big black cloud hanging out with me – following my every move. I can’t shake it off.
I’ve had lots of tension headaches, back & neck (tension) pain and intense dreams – when I’m able to actually sleep, that is.
I confronted my inner thoughts last week, which involved a whole lot of sobbing my heart out – and vocalising exactly I’m how feeling. I’d bottled it up, probably since November. It feels better to share – even if the other person doesn’t say anything at all – just sharing, feels so good. Though, the only person getting the brunt of it all at the minute, is poor James. And of course, he feels all the feels too. A baby, our new baby, could have been in his arms, too, making him a parent all over again.
I didn’t have a follow up after my ERPC, I didn’t actually even speak to my GP about the trauma we’d been through. (Should I have? Should I have been sent an invitation for a follow up appointment of some kind? What happens in your local authority? ). I feel like maybe the grief is only just hitting me now – perhaps because when the due date has been and gone, then it all becomes real and in turn, gives us some kind of closure. Because that’s the end of the life-cycle, as it were. If that makes any sense at all. This all got me thinking, I have nothing physical to ‘show’ for my loss. So I contacted PALS at Broomfield Hospital, to see if I could access my medical records, notes, multiple scan imagery. See if there is any ounce of explanation following my ERPC (and the subsequent investigation that was to allegedly follow). I kept my eyes firmly closed for a lot of the scans and procedures – willing it to be over. Anything any specialist pointed out or illustrated on the screen was a blur and didn’t register with me. Apparently I should have been offered copies of my scans – I’m now wondering if this also would have helped mark our loss and support our grieving process. Also, you can also ask (or may be offered) a Certification – according to The Miscarriage Association, this is a kind of ‘ death certificate’. For some parents, the sadness of pregnancy loss before 24 weeks is increased by the fact that there is no documentation that acknowledges the loss of their baby. We recommend that NHS trusts create and offer some form of certification for parents who would like this. Tim Loughton MP has recently tabled a Private Member’s Bill which includes a request for a report on whether the law ought to be changed either to allow the registration of pre-24 week pregnancy losses (so it’s a personal choice) or to require it (so it is a legal requirement). The Miscarriage Association ran a survey on this to collate personal views – more details on this can be found, here. The PALS team at Broomfield got in touch with a really lovely email – which was followed up by a call today from the Matron of Gynaecology. She’s invited us into the hospital to go through my notes and any questions / concerns, with my consultant (who was also the consultant we had for when I was pregnant with Eli), Miss Joshi. I was taken aback by the phone call and became quite emotional with the Matron. The kindness of strangers will never cease to amaze me.
To our Baby Briston-Hill (PRAWNER #2), you never did arrive in our arms – but you will be forever in my heart. I will live in wonder of who you would have been – you’ll always be my favourite what if? my little darling.
Thank you for reading thus far; and thank you for the bags of support and love we’ve received. It means the world 🖤 Eli is going to be the BEST big brother (EVER) when it happens. And not a single one of us can wait. As the wonderful mind that was Professor Stephen Hawking, so perfectly put it,
“Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious. And however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at. It matters that you don’t just give up.”