Broken by leg cramps

Warning – pregnancy post that includes bodily function detail!

I was 35 when we got married.  Many people believed that I would never find “the right man” for me (including me) and to be honest, I needed to find _me_ first.  Mr PinQ was very much the same in that his first marriage wasn’t the right relationship to bring a child into and it is only after that marriage ended that he became himself.  We met at the right time for both of us, despite our paths having crossed many times over the years.

When we got married, we said that we would let nature take its course but between our working hours and stress, I said that it wouldn’t happen and until my redundancy last year, it didn’t.

We’ve waited a long time to have a baby.

Maybe that sentence will make this post seem selfish and ungrateful.  Maybe I should feel guilty about what I am about to write but I don’t.  I am writing it because I didn’t know that pregnancy could be like this and if I had known, I might have been able to prepare myself mentally.  You see, even a relatively easy pregnancy can be a horrible experience and I’m going to tell you the truth.

I know women that have had Hyperemesis, that have been hospitalised several times through pregnancy for various reasons, I’ve seen how tired they get and some have had the most dreadful experiences but they don’t really talk about it.  I don’t want to be a bore and only talk about my pregnancy to people and there are some details that you really shouldn’t divulge in polite society (some listed below – you were warned) but bollox to that, the reality of pregnancy isn’t all sunshine and roses!

I am over the moon about my baby-girl and can’t wait to meet her and I am willing to go through it all again in a couple of years; but for those of you that have only seen/heard of the lovely glowing pregnancies or absolute horror stories that are, thankfully, rare, here’s a little taste of a quite “normal” pregnancy.

At about week 3, oblivious to the fact that I was pregnant, I was feeling nauseous and extremely fatigued.  My boobs were really swollen and tender but I put it down to the fact that I was “due on” – never mind the fact that they never got THAT swollen and tender!

By week 5, I realised that I must be pregnant and went to the pharmacy to buy a home test which of course, was positive.  Around about that time, the nausea had progressed to being violently sick 4+ times a day, regardless of what I ate or drank.  I thought: “Oh well, that’ll be the morning sickness.”  It was several weeks before I discovered that morning sickness is generally feeling nauseous and MAYBE being sick once or twice a day – by the time I found that out, I was being violently sick about 8 times a day, had no energy and had the most horrendous dehydration headaches.  That level of sickness is Hyperemesis Gradivarium, NOT morning sickness and if you live in the right area, you will be admitted to hospital like Princess Kate and put on a drip to get your fluid levels up and won’t have to do battle to get anti-sickness medication.  Don’t let them brush you off.

I had to fight for anti-sickness medication.  It turns out that my next door neighbour (who has just given birth to a gorgeous little boy – her second child) had the same thing and she used to be a doctor so we must live in the wrong postcode.  The response I kept getting at the GP surgery was: “Aww bless, well, that’s morning sickness for you.  We don’t deal with you now until after the baby is born, fill in the form to register with the midwife.”  I did, and after pushing the midwife over the phone, the Practice Nurse called to say that she had issued a prescription for my sickness.

At about week 10, we saw the midwife for the first time and explained that the tablets worked for about a week.  She asked if I could still wee.  My reply was honest: “Yes, once or twice a day and it’s like passing a tablespoon full of golden syrup because I can’t even hold fluids down.”  Her response?  Oh that was brilliant… “Oh good, your kidneys are still functioning then.”

Somewhere around that time, I learned what it was like to choke on your own vomit.  It was really, really frightening.  The sheer speed and frequency of the vomiting meant that I couldn’t breathe and my body just tried to take in a breath.  Unusually, Mr PinQ had already gone up to bed just a few minutes before and I was on the floor in the bathroom, kicking and choking.  On the fourth round of violent coughing, my airway cleared and I just curled up, tears pouring down my face.

At about 21 weeks, I started to feel baby moving.  I didn’t have a belly at all until week 20 and she just popped into existence almost overnight!  It was amazing.

I had to laugh when, at about 24 weeks, I stopped being able to put my socks on and tie my shoelaces normally.  It’s just not something that had occurred to me but my belly is in the way!  Most of the time now, you will find me in my Fit-Flops (slightly chewed by a puppy that we babysit) or my tatty old velcro-fastening Hotter flats because they are so much easier to get on.

A couple of weeks ago, the sickness started to settle down to only once or twice a day for most of the time.  I have had a couple of days where I haven’t been sick at all!  I also have a couple of days every week where I am sick all day.  The ability to retain some food and drink has had consequences.  Of course there’s the pregnancy thing of needing to wee more, and it’s not just because your bladder (along with the rest of your insides) is all squished up, sometimes, it is because baby is actually standing on it!  You know how it feels when you need to pee so badly that it hurts?  Multiply that by 1000.  I am also alternating between being constipated for several days and then days when I really have to run for the loo.  Joy.

Occasionally, I crave junk food.  I suspect that is because it is high fat and high sugar and my body is desperately in need of the extra calories.  However, the constant sickness has given me an insight that I didn’t really need but here’s the truth of it.  We cook everything from scratch and when I am sick, unless there’s nothing there so all I can taste is bile, what comes up tastes basically the same as it did when it went down.  When I have given in to a junk food craving and been sick, there is an awful chemical taste as it comes back that then lingers for most of the day and night.  If I needed a reason not to eat processed (plastic) food, that would do it, trust me.

For a long time now, I have struggled to get a good night’s sleep, I usually wake up between 04:00 and 05:00 and eventually give in and get out of bed.  I am absolutely exhausted.  I sometimes try to nap during the day but usually end up getting about an hour and it just doesn’t make up for the missing sleep.

In the last few weeks, I’ve noticed that when I wake up, my hips really hurt.  I am lying on one side or the other now because I can’t sleep on my front anymore and it’s not really safe to sleep on your back at this stage because the womb presses on the vein that returns the blood from your lower body to your heart.  According to my favourite source of good, solid information,  The Baby Centre, you should, ideally, be sleeping on the left side but as many of you know, my left hip is the busted one so I can only cope with that for short spells.

This week, my little Twinkle went from kicking and waving to turning into a proper little alien.  Watching and feeling that level of movement in your belly is totally freaky.  Daddy doesn’t know what it feels like but even he will feel a bit sick when he sees it!

I have had to take a day of sickness absence from work this week due to exhaustion.  It’s the first that I have taken so I’ve done really well.  They did send me home one evening because of sickness but even so, many people suffer much more in pregnancy.  I’ve been able to work around my sickness and fatigue the majority of the time because I only work 11 hours a week now and I’ve just had to switch off the rest of “normal” life but it has meant that I can cope.  If I was still working full-time, I wouldn’t have.

Mr PinQ has been the main factor that has saved me from utter collapse.  We always shared the household chores but because I haven’t been sailing through pregnancy, he is doing almost everything on top of working full time and he looks so tired.  My poor, beautiful, darling boy.  I do little jobs to try to make sure that he gets a bit of a rest but I can’t physically do much so he ends up having to do most of it.  For someone that has always worked hard and been really active, I am struggling a bit with my inability to do stuff!

No-one tells you how it feels when your womb stretches as baby grows.  It’s like having really bad period pains but so, so much worse.

Yesterday was week 29 and “staff day”.  We went to a forest for the day and after the walk and guided tour by the Forestry Commission’s Visitor Centre Manager, headed back for barbecue.  Two of the party had sloped off 30 – 45 minutes previously to light them but when we arrived, were still struggling.  It was embarrassing.  Charcoal in first, then firelighters, then cardboard on top – it was no wonder they wouldn’t light.  I realised that if they were struggling with lighting the barbecue, the food could be something of an issue so, a dab hand at barbecuing, I took over – What?  Really?  No!  I can hear you all…

I only got tetchy when a couple of people decided to come and “help” by sticking meat thermometers into the food and had to ask me what temperature it should be.  If you don’t fecking know, FECK OFF and leave me to it because I _do_ know what I am doing!

On the way back, I wondered out loud about how soon the sickness would stop when the hormones settle down after giving birth and my lovely manager was telling me about the scary leaflet that her midwife has just given her.  She is 34 weeks so I expect I’ll get one soon.  It tells you all about labour and childbirth, including that most of the time, mum poos herself as she gives birth.  That makes sense, all that pushing – especially after all that constipation!  There’s also a high probability that mum will throw up during the birth – I gather that’s a stress thing.  Great.

We got back to the Youth Centre at 17:00 and it took me 1 hour 45 minutes to get home, just because it was rush hour.  Hours on my feet and a stressful journey home – not helped by the youngster in the Corsa that did an emergency stop in front of me to allow a car to pull out of a side road despite there being NO traffic behind me didn’t help my mood – left me in pretty bad shape.  I didn’t even manage to say hello to Mr PinQ when I came in but did, thankfully, make it to the bathroom in time to throw up.

I was absolutely shattered and after a light dinner, snuggled up in bed and was asleep in seconds.

Then I was woken up in the small hours by the most godawful pain in my right calf and ankle.  My foot was twisted up and to the right.  I got out of bed and worked through the pain to flex and stretch my foot, massaging the muscle that was cramping.  I got back into bed thinking that I had it beaten and my foot flipped back up and right and the pain was so intense that I woke Mr PinQ.  I lay there sobbing.  I felt like I just couldn’t take any more pain.

Dearest friends, please don’t say, “I hope you get better soon” or similar.  I know that you say it because you love me and you are trying to offer me some comfort but I’m not actually ill, I’m pregnant, so the physical turmoil that my body is going through will be over in just under 11 weeks.

Interestingly, none of the above cr*p that is happening to my body matters one jot.  When my little Twinkle is having a shuffle around, when I stroke or hold her through my belly and when the kitten gently pats her with her paws or the puppy licks my belly because they have felt her move; I forget all of it.  There’s a tiny little human in there and I will get to meet her soon.  If she’s early, she’s mine; if she’s late, she’s Mr PinQ’s but either way, she’s ours and is worth every second of the months of yuckiness and pain.

20160409-English Rose Kits_5 days old  (15)

Time to melt t’interwebs

So, the big hutch Spring clean had to happen yesterday when Raisin (guinea pig) came home from the vets with his bits chopped off.

It all began when we rescued some Guinea Pigs a couple of years ago and I came home from a little holiday to find a tiny guinea pig looking at me.

Diesel

A few weeks later, her aunt had made two little cousins.  One of those was Raisin.  Unfortunately, Raisin turned out to be a boy.  He had been so special because despite being unable to see, he was a big adventurer so we decided to keep him.

Then, just before Christmas, one of our dearest friends rescued 2 little rabbits from being turned into dog food and gave them to us as an early Christmas gift.  Beautiful though they were, the lack of appropriate housing was a massive worry.  They couldn’t be housed with any of the other rabbits as the males would fight (both of our previously rescued boys had been in scraps before we got them) and we didn’t have a spare hutch.

We put them into the “hospital hutch” as a temporary measure whilst we worked out what we were going to do with them.  It is a single occupancy, plastic and wire construction indoor hutch.  We have been wracking our brains to work out how to home them properly: Do we have enough wood in the shed to make a new hutch (that we don’t have the space for)?  Should we  re-home them?  Can they go in with the Guinea Girls?

We realised that the best possible option was to have Raisin “done” and put him back with his family.

We began by cleaning the top two floors of Chinchilla Towers (which really is as grand as it sounds!) and we moved the Girls back in.  Then we cleaned their house (an old chicken coop designed for up to 4 hens – with a little service modification) and put Dice and Domino – the two Christmas bunnies – into it.  Then we started to deep clean the hospital hutch so that Raisin could convalesce in peace, indoors.  The correx board protection was removed, bowls washed, the wire roof lifted off and the little tunnel/step taken out and put into the bath to be disinfected and Mr PinQ was ready to scoop out the old, dirty bedding ready to give me the base for cleaning.

Just before he put the shovel in, he looked and shouted to me.  The bedding was moving in one corner!  We investigated and found six tiny kits!  We’d already moved Dice and Domino and if they stayed in the temporary home, the babies would have died for sure because when it rains, the bottom of the quarantine hutch gets wet and the bedding has to be changed – as the quarantine hutch, it is normally kept indoors for good reason!  We had to move the nest into the new hutch so we picked up three each in one hand and found out that they are really wriggly, even though they are only a few days old!

I woke up early (before 05:00) but for once, not because of a kitten or a baby.  I woke up because it started chucking it down outside and I snapped awake, worried about the baby rabbits.  I threw some clothes on, legged it downstairs and went to check the hutch.  All was well.

Hours later, Mr PinQ found three of the kits out of the nest.  All three were extremely cold, one in rigor, one that didn’t appear to be alive and one that was barely moving.  I snuggled the latter two in my ample cleavage and within minutes, they were starting to wriggle.  Using a dropper bottle, we fed them a little kitten formula until they were warm and happy.  He microwaved one of the pet warming plates, wrapped it in a fleecy blankie and putting it into the nest.

We’ve been on Kit watch constantly since and I am pleased to report that all is well.

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We named the little casualty “Napkin” after I bathed him, dried him and gently wrapped him in a little face cloth ready to go to his final rest.  I’d only known him for a few hours but I was heartbroken at losing him.  He was such a beautiful tiny baby.

Raisin is doing well, happily munching kale, carrots, hay and guinea pig biskwits and snuffling around his temporary home.

It’s not a good idea…

…to look in the mirror when you’ve been struggling with nutrition for months, have a tummy bug and are very, very tired.

I had slept for an extra 2 hours this morning but when I glanced in the bathroom mirror, the exhausted face that looked back was something of a shock.  Even my skin looked exhausted.

I scooped up my fringe and  realised that my eyebrows were suffering from months of neglect too and thought: “I’ll feel better if I tidy up my eyebrows.”  Those of you that know me of old will be well aware of how big a “thing” that is for me.

I grabbed the tweezers and then did something _really_ stupid.  I nipped upstairs and got my magnifying mirror.

Suddenly, I could see how bad my psoriasis looked and discovered that my face was also covered in evil looking blackheads.

I know better than to pluck my eyebrows when my psoriasis is up, I end up ripping out little chunks of flesh with every hair but I proceeded all the same.  The trouble is, the blackheads were somewhat distracting and it took me an hour and a half to trim and pluck my eyebrows into a satisfactory condition because I kept having to go and grab a tissue and deal with the evil little monsters that were growing on my face.

Cleansed and toned, awaiting a nice, soothing face mask, my skin – apart form the psoriasis – is blemish-free and my eyebrows have at last been tamed.  I hope to meet a younger, fresher version of me in the mirror later!

Annual vaccinations for your pet?

When my beloved Sheehan was about 5 years old, I moved to the countryside.

Now, I had always lived on the edge of the countryside and spent much of my time playing/hiking in the hills and walking by reservoirs and rivers.  I knew the countryside code and stuck to it.

Up until then, Sheehan and Spike had always had their annual vaccinations and ate the best “complete” dog and cat food that I could afford for them.


One day, Sheehan developed a massive dry, flaky, white scab on her back and on the site of the scab, lost her hair, so I took her to see an old country vet.  He told me to feed her raw mince and brown bread for a fortnight, he suggested that I might crack a raw egg in as well once or twice.  He was very much against “complete” food because in its natural state, a dog wouldn’t eat a perfectly balanced diet.  I told him about the fact that she ate grass on a daily basis but was never sick with it and he suggested that I give her “veggie ends” because in the wild, if she hunted a grazing beast, she would get all of the vitamins, minerals and fibre of the grass when she ripped out and ate its belly.   He also told me to give her starve days every once in a while to clear her gut, after all, a wild dog/wolf doesn’t get to eat every day.

I was discussing this with an old “dog man” – sadly not a new species but a chap who works dogs – and he told me that he only has his dogs vaccinated for the first couple of years.

I took their advice and changed the way that I fed Sheehan and neither she nor Spike were vaccinated again.

I don’t actually know if annual boosters work like a flu jab where you get a bit of last year’s strain; I also don’t know if they are given live vaccines and there’s a lot of conflicting information out there but I do know that apart from breast cancer at 10 (benign tumours), Sheehan was a happy, healthy girl for almost 17 years.  A Border Collie’s lifespan is 10 – 14 years with an average age of death at 12 years.  Even in her last weeks, she was still walking 5 miles a day.  Don’t get me wrong, when she was in her prime, I walked 10 miles a day and she would do about 30 because she was running back and forth as I walked, whereas in her last year, the 5 miles were broken into 3 walks and there was no running about but I know a lot of young, healthy (?), fit (??) dogs that don’t do that.  Spike lived to be 21 and developed Chronic Kidney Disease in his last couple of years but that was controlled with medication and diet.

If the vaccinations are live, then surely our dogs, cats and bunnies build immunity that doesn’t need to be topped up.

I have recently learned about the Titre/Titer Test (pronounced TIGHT-er) where a blood sample is taken and can be tested for antibodies to things like parvovirus, distemper and rabies.  It is my understanding that the vaccination for parvovirus should last for 7 years and distemper for 5 – 7 years but the vets that will actually do the test will recommend annual testing (it’s more expensive that vaccination – make what you will of that) and many people choose to est every 3 years.

I have also learned a lot about the health problems that cats can develop from eating grains but it is surprising how many cat food products out there still contain rice, wheat and maize.

Finding food without grain for Snowdrop, our new kitten, has been challenging; even the free sample of Royal Canin Paediatric biccies contained grain but Arden Grange (cheaper via Amazon subscribe and save with our other animal feed to make up the 15% discount) has only protein and potato so we’re onto a winner with that one.  Wet food is more challenging for her as she seems to have a bit of an allergy to chicken – it gives her a very poorly tummy – and Mr PinQ discovered that even a food labelled as “salmon” was made from salmon, pollock and CHICKEN so we might be making her wet food ourselves.

20160206-Snowdrop

One thing that I do know for sure is that I won’t be having the babies vaccinated annually.

They will get their primary vaccinations and then I will have to decide whether to test or top-up every 5-7 years.  I will also continue to feed and exercise them as I have learned over the years

 

The Easter Rising

Mr PinQ and I enjoy learning new things, perhaps more so when we are learning about our (or one another’s) heritage and although we were both born in England, we see ourselves not as English or British but in fact, Irish and Polish.

We love this Country and have both worked in service of its Defence and both now work in Third Sector organisations that support, empower and educate its Young People; but we were raised in Irish and Polish homes, by our Irish and Polish parents and grandparents, learning about our Irish and Polish heritages, eating Irish and Polish food.  We love immersing ourselves in one another’s cultures as much as our shared love of Ilkley Moor, the West Coast of Scotland, the Pennines and so on.

As a result, we have spent many happy hours wandering around the places where we grew up and the countries of our roots, sharing memories and local history as well as beautiful scenery and architecture.

Our too short holiday to Poland 4 years ago was a real eye-opener for Mr PinQ.  As someone with a keen interest in law and politics and over 24 years of military service behind him, he had a deeper knowledge and understanding of the atrocities of WWII than most; but our visit to Auschwitz-Berkenau made its impression.

I had realised that I didn’t want to return.  Standing there, holding my much beloved Grandma as she sobbed was a memory that I didn’t want to revisit, let alone share with the man that I had just married; the pain was still too raw, even 7 years on.  That said, I also knew that it wouldn’t be right to take him all the way to Kraków, just a short train ride away from Oświęcim, and not take him, so we went.

There is something about being there that you cannot get from pictures, books, films or documentaries.  It gets into your soul.

Last night, it was my turn.

As many of you will already know, we don’t have a television but if we do fancy watching something, we can pop a DVD in the laptop or find something of interest on BBC iPlayer or similar online viewing platform.

Mr PinQ has read a great deal about the Troubles over the years and will sometimes tell me about it or we will watch a documentary or film on the subject but I was somewhat shocked by what I learned last night.

After a tiring day, we sat down to watch Brendan O’Carroll (better known as Mrs Brown) deliver a balanced, informative, sometimes witty and extremely touching documentary about his family’s involvement in the Easter Rising.  Particularly moving was Brendan’s hope that the Sherwood Foresters were being remembered somewhere as he stood by the Éire monument at Mount Street bridge where less than 20 of the Volunteers managed to kill or wound over 200 of the British Troops.

Mount Street Monument.jpg

This was a part of the Irish history that I had no real knowledge of and looking back, am very surprised about because I remember that when I started GCSE History, we were given a choice about what we wanted to learn and we chose the recent history category which essentially covered 1914 to 1945.  Given that the 1916 uprising was a pivotal moment even in English history, how was it missed from the curriculum?

Following the surrender of the Leaders of the Volunteers, they were imprisoned, court-martialed and then executed by a firing squad.

These brave men simply wanted their country back, nothing more.

Almost 1500 Volunteers and many innocent Irish people were then imprisoned in England and Wales with the innocent leaving those prisons not only sympathetic to the cause, but active members.  The actions of the British in fact won support for a cause that had not previously been given that much credence by the people of Ireland.

I’m not going to try to give you a full historical account because I wouldn’t be able to do it justice but what struck me was this:

Can someone please tell me how the British could not only denounce but also go to war with Germany, Hitler and the Nazis, whilst essentially doing to Ireland what the Germans were doing to Poland?

Oh that’s easy!  The Irish were the underclass.

Sound familiar?

Maybe that’s why it wasn’t on the curriculum.

 

20160222-Maggie_20 wks

Pregnancy: the good, the bad, the not so pretty & the slightly weird

The Good:

1. The Baby Centre

When we’d decided to have children, I confided in a dear friend who happens to work for The Baby Centre UK and she pointed me in their direction and sent me useful links from time to time.  It’s a wonderful resource for good, common sense advice for every possible topic and stage of pregnancy, right up to your child starting school.

2. Finally finding out that I was pregnant!  When we got married four and a half years ago, we made the decision to let nature take its course.  We weren’t actively “trying” but in all honesty, with my hours, his shifts and my stress levels, chances were pretty slim.

3. Seeing my husband’s face when he realised that, “You are going to be a Daddy” wasn’t referring to the fostering application that we’d submitted.

4. Seeing your baby for the first time on the 12 week scan.

12 week crop

5. Getting the letter that says that your baby is at low risk of having Down’s, Edwards’ and Patau’s Syndromes.

6. Hearing your baby’s heartbeat for the first time at your second appointment with the midwife.

7. Being able to share your news with the people that you love.

8. Starting baby’s “bottom drawer”.

9. Feeling baby move, from the little flutters to the little kicks and dance routines. The best bit of this is that you can really share baby with your husband because up until now, she’s been more of an intellectual concept for him.

10. Seeing baby move during the 20 week scan (she was waving her little fingers in this pic) and, if it’s possible on the day and you want to know, finding out if baby is pink flavour or blue flavour (no gender stereotypes here, just helpful for Nanna-Bear and the Fairy Godmothers who are knitting).

20160222-Maggie_20 wks

11. Realising that your kitten is responding to your baby so you won’t have one wake you at Midnight, 02:00 and 04:00 and the other wake you at 01:00, 03:00 and 05:00.  She cuddles up to my belly for sleeps when baby is asleep and runs around like a loon when baby is dancing!

20160206-Snowdrop

12. Being able to love having a belly!  Mine appeared from nowhere at about 20 weeks and now it’s huge but it is probably the only time in your life that you can enjoy having a massive belly.

13. Free prescriptions and dental care – you’ve got to love the NHS!

14. The feeling that you get when you put on your first pair of maternity trousers *ahhhhh*.

The jeans were too big but just recently, the waistband has started to cut into your belly; your leggings and joggers sit under your belly (or roll down) and baby doesn’t like the cold and the only things that have been really comfy are your ice-skating leggings and pyjama bottoms, neither of which is appropriate for work, shopping and other activities!

15. Having a truly wonderful Osteopath.

16. The cessation of menstruation!  As someone who loved being on Depo-Provera because of shift work and horrendous period pains, it is such a relief to be without one’s “curse”.

17. Discovering the “Baby Wish List” function on Amazon when people have been asking you to provide a list.  It’s like a wedding list, you get exactly what you need and/or want, delivered to your door!

18. Realising that in x weeks, you are going to be holding the tiny human that you both made.

The Bad

NCT

1. My lovely Midwife baffled me a little.  Maybe because I’m an old first time mum or maybe because she has so many mums who have had more than one baby, I’m not sure but she occasionally says something and I’m clueless.  The first time she said: “Right, it’s time to check baby now” and looked a bit surprised that I didn’t realise that I needed to take my jeans down to my knicker line and lie on the bed.  Mr PinQ was talking to our neighbour about this (soon to have her second baby) and she recommended that we sign up for ante-natal classes with the NCT.

I went online and nearly fell over when I saw the prices.  Money is tight since my redundancy and even if we fall into the cheapest price band, £10:30 an hour is way more than we can afford.  There are enough mothers in our lives who would undoubtedly share their experiences and common sense advice freely and with love.

We then planned to attend a sale of pre-loved baby things that was organised by the NCT. One of the organisers (our neighbour) and the venue gave us the times for the event as 10:00 till 14:00 and we planned our day around it.  We arrived at 12:20 and were shocked to see the sign segregating Members and Non-Members and then even more shocked to see a note at the bottom of the sandwich board declaring, “NO BUGGIES”.   Seriously?  We know the venue, we are members, they ask that you don’t leave buggies by the door as they could prevent easy egress in the event of a fire but they do allow buggies in.  If that wasn’t enough, they were charging £1 per person entry fee because they clearly don’t make enough money with their astronomical costs for classes/workshops.  The final insult was the NCT representative that “welcomed” us at the door.

Abruptly: “Are you here for the sale” Looking me up and down like I was filth
Glancing at my obvious baby belly a little incredulously, “Yes”
Abruptly: “It finishes at 12:30”
“Oh!  Two independent sources: the venue and one of the NCT organisers (our neighbour) told us that it was ten till two” peering hopefully over her shoulder at the full stalls with mums stood attentively in the hopes of making a little money from the things that their babies had grown out of.
Abruptly: “No, it definitely finishes at 12:30” and ushered us out of the door, stopping short of actually pushing us.

I warm smile with: “I’m sorry for any confusion/misunderstanding but the sale is only on until 12:30” would have been the right way to represent her organisation.  I wouldn’t really expect a: “It finishes at 12:30 but you’ve got 10 minutes for a quick look” although I’m quite sure that the chance to make a few extra £s would have been appreciated by the mums doing the actual selling.

I’m so glad that I have The Baby Centre, a great Midwife and lots of lovely friends – if I had to rely on the NCT I’d be in a mess!

2. Being told that the £60 per hour job is yours during interview and then having that swiftly retracted when you tell the interviewer that you are pregnant.

It had been advertised as a 3-6 month contract and I applied when I was 5 weeks.  The company then changed the job spec and delayed the interviews by a few of months.
Realising that it sounded like a longer contract, I asked how long he envisioned it continuing and when he said a year, I knew that I had to tell him.

To be fair, he did say that my telling him said an awful lot about my integrity and that in a couple of years, he would be looking to grow the team so I should keep in touch but I was pretty gutted and I know deep down that my lack of continuation training and current experience & knowledge will be an issue in a couple of years.

3. Being lectured to and patronised.

4. Discovering that someone you love dearly has lost their baby when you were only about four weeks apart.

The Not So Pretty:

1. The sickness.  A step up from “normal” morning sickness, Hyperemisis Gradivarium is not fun!  Eighteen weeks of being violently sick 4-8 times a day, evil dehydration headaches, learning what it feels like to choke on your own vomit and just the total wipe-out that it brings is horrendous.

With the tough fitness regime just prior to pregnancy, followed by the 1st 8lb weight loss in weeks 6 – 12 and ongoing sickness since, I am half expecting to come out of this pregnancy thinner than when I went in!

At 23 weeks, the sickness is largely down to once a day most of the time with just a few bad days at 4/5 times a day.

Now that baby is now starting to hear and have been trying to sing to her but my vocal cords are wrecked because of the sickness – I hope they get better!

2. Belching.  It’s embarrassing!  I have never belched so much in all my life.  Imagine drinking a can of fizzy pop in a one-er… Well, the resulting belch is my constant companion.  I get that baby has squished up all of my innards so things are bound to be a bit peculiar but she is so rude with all the belching and burping – because believe me when I say that it is ALL her.

3. Realising that you can no longer power through a 17 mile+ bike ride when 7 miles wipes you out for a day.  On the plus side, I am still happily cycling, Tai Chi-ing and doing gentle ballet warm-ups before skating; I’ve just had to learn my new limitations, so: no jumps on the ice, no running, stop when I’m tired even if it is a only fraction of my normal time/mileage and take it easy – gentle exercise is good for baby too!

4. Tiredness.  Not just when exercising but day-to-day.  I’m not sleeping as much or as well and with the sickness draining my energy too, I find that I am getting tired really easily.  An afternoon nap helps when I can get one.

5. Maternity bras.  At 5 weeks, I went from a FF to an H cup – because I really needed bigger boobs!  My fabulous Freya sports bras and pretty lacy ones had to be put into storage and maternity bras purchased.  Several that arrived are underwired – if I could wear underwired, I wouldn’t be buying goddamn maternity bras!  The wires are the cause of much pain now that I am pregnant.  Instead, I now have these massive boobs that are not properly supported in something that looks like a piece of kit for a Russian shot-putter.

Joy.

6. The constant feeling of having a cold, caused by the swelling of your mucous membranes.  This also brings with it a whole new level of snoring that drives your hubby to sleep in the guest bedroom.  Well, one of us has to sleep!

7. The changes to your senses of taste and smell.  Nothing tastes right any more and you are enjoying food less and less but the impact on the sense of smell is far worse.

Having spent several years trying different antiperspirants that your beloved can use that won’t affect your psoriasis and eczema whilst effectively preventing him from smelling like a men’s locker room and that actually smells nice; you suddenly find it unbearably cloying and nauseating and find yourself sitting and shivering because you’ve had to open all of the windows to air the house following his morning shower.

8. Not being able to do everything that you used to.  Bending to tie your laces is uncomfortable.  You can’t lift that heavy box out of the way.  Some housework tasks are proving difficult.  You can’t empty the litter tray and aren’t sure about the safety of even handling all of the animals.  It is becoming increasingly difficult to find a comfortable position to sit/sleep in.

9. Your brain doesn’t seem to be quite as high-functioning as it was.

Don’t get me wrong, whilst I was always reasonably bright and very good at thinking on my feet, I have always been a bit dizzy/dippy but I have achieved new levels of dizziness that astound even me.  Is baby eating my brain?

10. Loose ligaments.  One of the dogs that we babysit from time-to-time is not very good on the lead and pulls dreadfully so it is getting to a point where I am struggling to walk him because he pulls even my good shoulder out of the socket a little.

This is actually a good candidate for the evolution or design argument.  You see, if we were designed, the ligament loosening would be targeted to the pelvic area where it is actually going to be needed when it is time to give birth and wouldn’t affect the whole body, offering you up more readily to injury at a time when you need to be strongest.

I am grateful not to have experienced the spreading of the feet though, another size up wouldn’t work with my height.

The Slightly Weird:

1. People asking to touch your belly.  To be fair, that is preferable to them just touching it but still…

 

 

 

 

Getting back on track

Since being made redundant, it has been difficult getting my routine right.

The first obstacle was the soul-destroying and time-consuming hours of job seeking and applying for positions that I knew the recruiters wouldn’t look twice at me for as demanded by the Job Centre when I signed on in order to make sure that my stamp (National Insurance) continued to be paid.

Just as I was regaining control of my life, had started working part time and we were a good way through the application process to become foster parents, I discovered that I am pregnant and found myself being violently ill 7/8 times a day, extremely fatigued and on an emotional roller-coaster caused by my raging hormones.

Consequently, my plans for my studies, the house and the garden were all thrown out of the window.   This was particularly difficult to deal with because I have always been extremely well-organised.  I’ve had to be.  In order to build rabbit hutches adn chicken coops, keep on top of the housework, do the gardening, make time for me, make time for us, have time for leisure and pleasure and make time for friends on top of working more than full-time; I have always made the most of my time and energy.

Of course not being able to do anything for so much of the time meant that even on days when I was feeling almost human, the tasks around me were so overwhelming that I didn’t get any of them done.  I’m lucky though because although I have been feeling somewhat isolated and as if my life was spiralling out of control, this hasn’t led to a major depressive episode.

I am feeling a lot better now and only tend to be sick once a day most of the time and have even started to make progress with some of the tasks in the house.

Unfortunately, I am dangerously close to the completion deadline for the whole of the first module of my BA (Hons) in Creative Arts  with 2 assignments left to do and at the start of this week, had to complete 4 assignments for my Nutrition and Health qualification.  I realise that the latter is not as important as the degree, partly because I started it because of our ambitions to become foster parents which has been put on hold for a year or so and partly because it is a Level 2 qualification and as such, doesn’t have much impact on my future career prospects.  That said, I decided to focus on that one first for several reasons: firstly, I had 4 assignments to complete as opposed to the 2 outstanding on my degree – one of which is almost finished; secondly, I knew that if I knuckled down, I could probably manage an assignment every 2-3 days, whereas the degree work would take a few weeks; and lastly because the sense of achievement that I would get from completing (and hopefully passing!) the course would spur me on with the degree.

I really enjoyed studying for my Foundation Diploma in Art, Design and Media a few years ago, despite my experience with the internal verifier at the end.  I had a great tutor who was extremely supportive and I loved the structure of the course, within which I was able to experiment and find my voice.  The degree has so far been very difficult because I have felt that the tutor has not bothered to read the written work that I have submitted – perhaps because it isn’t mandatory but I write it in support of my work and to give him an insight into how and why I have produced the body of work that I have for each assignment – so I really need to feel some sense of achievement from completing the level 2 course to spur me on!

April, May & June will see me focussing on the house in preparation for baby’s arrival in July.  I have no plan of action at present and don’t intend to worry about it until after I’ve finished my studies.  After that, it ill all be about baby and the next module of my degree which will thankfully bring a new tutor.

I submitted the third of the four assignments for my level 2 in Nutrition and Health this afternoon so I just have to wait for the feedback on that before I crack on with the last one – happy days.