Sunday, 28 May 2017

10 signs you have entered the manic nesting phase of your pregnancy.


There has been some unrest in the household this week.

The reason?

I am 34 weeks pregnant and I am nesting like a maniac.
Irrational, impatient and neurotic, my desire to clean is something else right now.
There are no words you can use to describe the overwhelming urge to completely bleach and disinfect the whole house, all its contents, animals and family members to your partner at 11pm. Or why you are reorganising your books that you haven’t touched in 2 years, and yes it does have to be done NOW. RIGHT NOW, no I do not care if we are going out the kitchen tops need scrubbing down.

Cleaning products have basically become foreplay to me, and I have endless lists of what needs to be cleaned, chucked away or done before the baby comes.
Here are a few signs to look for when you enter the nesting stage of pregnancy.

1.       You begin to dream of bleach and fantasise about cleaning products.

2.      You begin to look at your house in a whole new light, examining every mark, every piece of fluff, each smudge and you will spend all day wondering how you can eradicate it, normally with BLEACH (have I mentioned how much I love bleach atm?). In my house with a two-year-old toddler, it is never going to happen and it is driving me MAD. I have considered banning all jam products. Or maybe the toddler.

3.      It begins to be a turn on going down a supermarket cleaning aisle, I could spend hours looking at cleaning cloths.

4.      Your hands are bright red from boiling water and bleach, you are only satisfied doing it yourself, no one else can do it properly.

5.      You have rearranged the whole house twice; your partner comes home and doesn’t know where anything is anymore.

6.      The baby’s clothes are in an order than only makes sense to you. (Mine are organised in size order, each new size has its own draw; new-born, 0-3 months, 3-6 months, 6 months+.

7.      Never have you wanted to scrub the floors, tops and doors as much as you do right now. You cannot rest, sit or relax until it is done.

8.     Despite you being the size of a small rhino and not at your most mobile, you still manage to get down and scrub the skirting boards.

9.      The bin men begin to resent your house as the sheer weight of the bins from chucking everything away has caused many a back injury.

10.   You may be having contractions but you will still Zoflora the hell out of the bathtub.
A friendly warning to partners/ family members; NEVER GET IN THE WAY OF A NESTING PREGNANT LADY.

P.s You will get bonus points by bringing us storage boxes, cleaning products and a Wispa Gold.

Pregnant lady porn right there.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

My Little Tiny Ticker


Before Elijah was born, I didn’t have any experience with heart problems, other than the odd family member having a ‘dodgy ticker’. I didn’t really know what this meant or what could cause it. I certainly didn’t know what Congenital Heart Disease (CHD) was. Soon, that was about to change and I was going to become somewhat of an expert on the subject.

When Elijah was born, 12 hours after birth he began having what we now know are called ‘Tet spells’, or, ‘dusky episodes’. Changing colour to a bluey/ purple colour and then regaining his normal pink colour. Upon his admittance to NICU he was diagnosed with a critical CHD called Tetralogy of Fallot (TOF). According to the NHS 1 in 111 babies born, are born with a CHD, this is also the cause of 1 in 13 infant deaths. Nothing was picked up on my scans, and we even had extra ones, all through the pregnancy we were told what a healthy heartbeat Elijah had. Never in a million years did we think there was something so wrong with our baby’s heart.  

I remember the crushing realisation our baby was severely ill when we were pulled into a room before our NICU discharge to be told what to do if Elijah had a spell, or if he needed CPR after going into heart failure. Because of this, in those first pre-surgery months I rarely left him with anyone. We were told to look out for the signs Elijah’s heart may be failing like having a blue tinge to him especially above his lip, not feeding, not putting on weight and sleeping a lot.

When Elijah was diagnosed, I felt my world crashing around me, family and friends were devastated for us, and all asked the same question. Why wasn’t this picked up on? After all we had numerous scans, and with 4 structural defects surely this is something that should have showed up? We were so lucky that we were in the right place at the right time when Elijah began to spell. If we were at home, this could have been missed and who knows what might have happened. Depending on the severity of the condition and the baby’s general wellness, the surgery for TOF is normally carried out within the first year.
However, the importance of early CHD detection is paramount for those that may need surgery within the first few hours of life. Time and lives can be saved if the CHD is picked up on a scan before birth. I came across the work of the charity Tiny Tickers when I began writing and blogging about Elijah’s journey. I have written for them, and proudly promoted them across social media for the amazing work they do for the CHD community. They are the only charity that focus on improving early detection and diagnosis of CHD which happens to be the most common birth defect. This surprised me so much when we were in NICU with Elijah. I knew no one else whose child had been born with CHD, however slowly and surely on our journey we found out about someone’s friend, a brother, and aunt or even a celebrity that had CHD in one form or another.

Tiny Tickers, have two main goals, one is to provide essential and lifesaving training to hospitals, medical staff and sonographers about the early detection of CHD during the 20-week scan. They also provide a support network, advice and support for those who have received a CHD diagnosis. This is vital as it can be a very isolating time. They believe no baby should die from an undiagnosed heart condition.
I recently posted about their ‘Think 20’ campaign which I myself used at the fetal medicine scan I had with my second child. I urge anyone who is pregnant to head over to their website and request a Think 20 pack. You take this with you to your 20-week scan and give it to your sonographer. It gives them guide of what to look for when they are examining the heart. They also provide packs on what to symptoms of heart failure in a baby as well. The more informed you are, the more educated we become on CHD via the awareness we raise the more lives we can save.

The shocking statistic is that every 2 hours in the UK a baby is born with a serious life threatening heart defect just like Elijah. More awareness needs to be raised, and more training and research must be done to save lives. Tiny Tickers will be doing just that when they appear on BBC Lifeline with Gabby Logan on Sunday 21st May at 16.00. Afterwards this can be viewed on the following link;

www.bbc.co.uk/lifeline
It shows the stories of two babies, and their two very different stories and the harrowing realisation how important early diagnosis of CHD is. To carry on their amazing work donations are needed;

£5.00 could pay for 2x Early Diagnosis Packs

£10.00 could help provide 1000 heart cards which display the signs and symptoms of heart failure

£25.00 could provide 40 Doctor’s surgeries with lifesaving info on heart problems in babies

£75.00 could train 1 sonographer to get specialist training


These amounts do not seem a lot, but they could have a huge impact on the lives they could save.

Please do check out the Lifeline Appeal and spread the word via social media, let’s raise as much awareness as we can and help give others the chance that my tiny ticker had.
Visit the Tiny Tickers Website




Sunday, 14 May 2017

To You, the mother on social media

To You,

The other mother on social media.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

You do not know me, not really, we have only ‘connected,’ online but you have changed me.

Changed me as a person, as a woman and as a mother.

I can never repay you for what you have unlocked in me.

You made me feel normal, when I wanted to scream, to cry, to shout that I can’t do this anymore.

I regained by sanity when speaking to you, and saw I was normal.

You made me feel like it was okay to feel like a complete failure when the baby had colic and cried for three days straight.

That it was alright I hadn't washed my hair and was covered in sick.

To be proud when I achieved something that seemed so small to many like getting out the house, or putting my make up on.

That yes, my house is also covered in toys and when the baby was napping, I didn't tidy, I ate a packet of Oreos instead.

You shared a small insight into your life, one photo, uploaded it and sent out there into the world of social media. You may have thought it was nothing.

It wasn't nothing to me, it was hope.

Hope that I knew I wasn't the only one feeling like this.

That I could and would laugh again. Even about the poo nami explosion in Costa on our first trip out as a family.

You made me realise I wasn't alone.

In turn it became more than a double click, it became a comment, a DM, a friendship, a meeting.

My life changed the day you put up that photo of your family walk gone wrong with a face planted toddler on the floor and a screaming baby in the carrier. It changed because even with all of that you were smiling. You were happy. You were laughing.

You gave me the strength to do this, to share my ups, my downs.

 To you the other mother on social media, I thank you for being there.

Always.

Life long friendships forged via social media 


Friday, 5 May 2017

The off days, a letter to my partner.

This letter was never written to be published, this was a letter to Greg, my partner trying to tell him I needed help.

I needed him to know that it wasn't just being tired and hormonal that was causing me to be a bit down, I was pregnant and depressed. I cannot really put my finger on the exact reason, and I felt ashamed, insensitive and selfish I was feeling like this when so many are struggling to get pregnant or have lost a child. I know they would swap with me in a flash if they could. That's why I kept it in, pretended I was okay but as the weeks went by it was getting harder and harder to hide, and it was beginning to creep out.

I lost my appetite, I had no patience with Elijah and spent most of the time lashing out at Greg. Enough was enough I knew these feelings, and knew I couldn't let them get the better of me. Not this time. Not much is out there about mental illness in pregnancy, as after all isn't this supposed to be a happy time? I wanted to share this in honour of Maternal Mental Health Week, to try and raise awareness, to try and encourage no matter how you do it, if you feel like this then just reach out and tell someone. Do not be ashamed or fear you will be judged, we need to break this stigma.

I have shared more via my writing then I ever have with anyone I know including Greg. I still could not tell him how I was feeling even after my PTSD diagnosis after the birth of Elijah. Frankly, I was ashamed and felt guilty I was even feeling like this, I was a failure on the brink of being a mother to two and couldn't hold it together.

This is the exact letter I sent him before he came home one night, as I couldn't face him reading it with me in the room. As soon as he walked in he picked me up (as best as he could being 7 months pregnant) and held me. I could see in his face he was scared but trying to be strong, trying to convince me it will be all okay. He would make it okay. A plan was made and so far, we have kept to it and I feel better. I do still have an off day but we deal with it together now. I was worried once he had read the letter he wouldn't want me to be around Elijah anymore, or would act differently with me. He didn't, he has been my rock and it gave me the confidence to share this with a friend too.

This isn't about gaining sympathy, and honestly it terrifies me I am putting this out there but, this is about raising awareness of Maternal Mental Illness, depression in pregnancy. This is about sharing my story in hope it helps someone or at least breaks the ideals we have of Maternal Mental Illness. This is about one person reading this, and feeling like they can relate, that they are not alone.

Be honest, no matter how much it scares you to be. Remember you are never alone, do not suffer in silence.

For more info on Maternal Mental Illness Week please visit;

http://mmhcoalition.com/mmhawarenessweek/


Was I just letting them both down?
Everyone has an off day, don’t they? One that calls for a GIN at the end of it, after a trying day of teething, tantrums, potty training or when your kid is frankly just being an arse.
But, what then happens when the one-off day becomes two, then three, then a week and before you know it you are in the grips of something that frankly scares you.
When is it you begin to see that you are wishing the time away until bedtime? Or dreaming of when you will finally fob your child off onto someone else.
There are times where I can imagine myself jacking it all in and leaving, this was an occasional sleep deprivation thought, and now it has become a daily thought.
After all, wouldn’t you all be better off without me? What kind of mother really imagines herself leaving? Or feeling this unhappy without a valid reason for it.
Or in the morning when I can’t bring myself to get out of bed, and all I can hear is our child screaming, ‘I want to see Mummy’, again and again. Yet, I just lay there staring at the ceiling wishing I could just get up and be a happy mother to him.
I want to feel like my body hasn’t failed me, and this is leading me to feel so low.
There are times during the day when I shout so loud I scare myself, and by the look on our child’s face I have scared them too. The loss of control is frightening.
When I go into the kitchen to cry just because I am so overwhelmed, I don’t know how to tell you how I feel.
When I have no patience, and can’t bear to be around him, or you and where every little thing sets me off. I look forward to people being around to help, but when they do, I want to shout for them to leave. Hopefully taking my child with them.
Where all I want to do is scream at you, in hope it will release the pent-up tension and stress I have been carrying around with me like a bomb about to go off. That you will see something isn’t right.
I think that bomb is now detonating, I know these feelings, I have had them before and they also lead to the same thing, self-destruction.
Self-harm, suicide attempts, eating disorders, drinking too much and abusing pills are things I have all dabbled in before as you know, when I was trying to manoeuvre my way through the depression.
But, when your only release from the darkness inside is to punish yourself what do you do, when it isn’t just your body to do it anymore? That there is in fact someone depending on you to nurture, care and ultimately when you punish yourself you are putting their life at risk? When you are 7 months pregnant.
I always blamed myself for what was happening to me, to us, therefore I deserved to punish myself.
Eventually, there was some sort of break or release to it, and things dissolved, the tension went away and things went back on an even keel. We were happy.
Not this time, I cannot do what I want to so badly, as I will harm our unborn baby and you and Elijah again.
Writing helps, but then to read the words on the page makes me wonder what the hell is wrong with me. For you to read them, makes me feel ashamed that I feel like this.
The waves of negativity that have a hold on me are like vines, swirling around and trapping me in my own head.
I have you,  a loving partner, our amazing little boy and now another who will be arriving in a few short weeks, so why do I feel like an utter failure as a parent? Why am I depressed?
Why I am shouting at our child? Picking a fight as I am so irritable and agitated I can’t enjoy our time together. I can’t relax or rest even when I am on my own, and the guilt of how I have acted, how I feel then creeps up on me. The daunting thought that I am a crap mother smacks me in the face as soon as Elijah has gone to bed, as I replay the day in my head over and over. Honestly, how will I even cope with two?
I feel I have no reason to be depressed, yet I am, I am on the brink of being a mother of two and I am miserable.
I have fears, the same I am sure many have, that even you may have, a premature birth, another NICU stay, more health complications, will we adjust as a family of 3 to 4? Can we afford to live when I am on mat leave?
My main worry was if I became ill again, one that I think has already come true and I haven’t even given birth yet.
I feel like once again I have let you down by getting myself ill again, that I am even ill again in the first place.
I once again am a selfish, ungrateful failure of a mother/partner who cannot seem to just be content and happy.
Just as I tainted the first year of Elijah’s, I am leaving a smear on the remainder of my pregnancy and our final moments as a family of three.
Are things now going so well for us, that I have to destruct and ruin it, because I don’t deserve this?
Am I preparing myself for when something will go wrong, as at least then I am ready for it?
I feel like a failure just admitting that I need help, that no one else seems to speak of this depression when they are pregnant or showing of their glowing bump pictures.
This must mean I am not normal?
This isn’t hormones, tiredness or the stress of being pregnant and potty training a toddler. This is more. This is Alice falling down the hole and not finding her way back out of it again.
Isn’t being pregnant a time of happiness and joy? Then again, the birth of our son also brought these feelings.
You cannot always see what is going on, I can hide behind my Instagram feed pretending I am happy.
I want to be honest, I want to work through this, I want you to read this and know I am trying.
I want you to know I am not sure how to make it stop, I don’t know how to tell you this all face to face. Again.
I am sorry for being a failure, for living in my head and for letting this effect our family again.
Most of all I want you to know when I say I am okay, I am not and that is alright.