A Note To Wednesday

Wednesday was all about the emotions of feeding infants and how intense society is about it.

As an exclusively expressing mama (we’ll delve into all of that in due course) I quite often feel like neither fish nor foul.

The question is always posed as breast or bottle, and I’m sitting thinking it’s breast IN a bottle…

Does that still count? Does the mode of delivery matter?

The answer (because I did indeed ask this at my 6 week check) is YES.

What the various eyes in the waiting room don’t realise is that the medical professionals who ask that question are interested to know whether you as mum are still producing milk (as it has different implications for your breast tissue and hormone levels) and exactly what baby is receiving in case any health concerns arise as it could be allergies and so forth.

That’s the end of it. No opinion required.

Fed is best.

No one else should be asking.

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Out with the Old, In with the New

Here we are again. Another New Year, another birthday.

I hope you are recovering from your celebrations, are feeling hopeful and excited about the year ahead. To those of you who find this season challenging, I wish you strength.

For me, this is always a day of reflection, I suppose a bit delayed; I should really look back on the last day of the last year, not the first day of the new one.

So much has changed, and I have so much to thank you for! Truly, I do. Thanks to you I have persevered and can now celebrate my blogging anniversary.

I had so many ideas of how this blog might be and what I would explore. I knew going in that it could be a cathartic process but I could not predict the extent of healing I have experienced.

I have been quiet over the past few months as a result of facing some of my toughest experiences. I achieved my goal of exploring traumatic events and the struggles that followed. In November, I gave birth to a healthy baby, having banished the shadows of the past. I wanted so much for my baby’s experience to be untainted by my own trauma and through blogging I have managed to gain closure and process the emotions enough to separate the present from the past.

I leave that trauma behind in 2018, having carried the pain with me for over two years. I finally feel free.

I am future-facing, forward-looking and excited as I embark on a New Year of experiences.

Medical Update

Friday 13th is perhaps not the most reassuring date for a hospital visit.

I am so grateful for the NHS and medical teams in Scotland. At all my many hospital trips over the past few months the nurses and doctors have been attentive, listened and smiled.

This year celebrates 70 years of the NHS, providing free healthcare to the entire UK. There are funding, staffing and overtime issues, but we are better off with it than without and it is so important to remember all the medical staff who work so hard and such long hours to keep it going. I felt I had to give them a heartfelt mention.

Today’s Update

If there ever was a kidney stone, there certainly isn’t one now.

Thankfully I have had no flank pain for almost a month, and the ultrasound scan two weeks ago showed no swelling and all blood and urine tests have been clear of infection.

The suggestion currently is that baby is lying on a nerve or some other vessel which is what causes the sporadic cramping when I urinate.

Whether baby is responsible for the constant abdominal pain that was perplexing doctors 4 weeks ago is something I am still doubtful about. He would have had to have been lying on the same place for an awfully long time to generate such continual severe pain. (I know he doesn’t stay in the same place for long as, since I have started to feel his movements, I can feel him wriggle around in accordance to the flares up of cramping I am experiencing).

A nurse did scan my bladder and found a little retained fluid, but the doctor explained that the machine can pick up amniotic fluid by mistake. So essentially there is fluid in my abdomen which may or may not be meant to be there…

Fun Facts

As ever though, with each appointment a little more knowledge and understanding is gleaned.

Although you won’t find much information out there about kidney stones in pregnancy (I hope to post up something shortly to rectify this) there is a trend between pregnancy and kidney stones because:

1: your body produces more blood so you kidneys are filtering a higher quantity than usual.

2: more calcium is passing through your kidneys, increasing the possibility of it crystallising and forming a stone.

3: in addition to your kidneys working extra for you they are also working for baby for the first 10 weeks as the fetus has no kidneys of its own at that time.

We all know how important hydration is, especially in pregnancy but it really is the most effective prevention against developing kidney stones.

I also learned a fun fact about kidney ultrasounds today (you can see I have had too many appointments as I am now describing this information as ‘fun’).

I mentioned in a previous post about that ultrasound is considered less effective but of course considerably safer during pregnancy than x-rays. Today the doctor inform me that the ultrasound scan is 90% effective and that what the sonographer is aiming to identify is any swelling or puffiness of the kidney itself, or any signs of blockage within the tubes connecting the kidneys and bladder.

As long as there is no blockage, kidney stones will be left to pass by themselves (I have a whole post on pain management during pregnancy which you can find here) which is usual treatment for kidney stones in non-pregnant patients as well (although they have more options for pain management). It is soley down to pain management that leads to the hospalisation of pregnant women with kidney stones.

If stones are particularly large, there is swelling or a potential blockage, urologists will consider treatment. Ultrasound may be used to break up the stone or surgery may be considered.

The doctor today mentioned (to my surprise) that had swelling been detected at the ultrasound the temple would have considered an x-ray and that the risk to my unborn child is negligible… bearing in mind that I am a completely untrained with no medical background whatsoever… I’m not convinced by that, especially given the information from other doctors I have seen. But I do imagine that there may be extreme circumstances where the risk to mum not having the procedure may be more than the risk the procedure holds for baby.

Conclusions

The matter seems to be put to bed for the time being. We can move forward with the confidence and reassurance that both baby and I are healthy and that everything is functioning as it should.

Now I can relax, hope baby stops elbowing my bladder or whatever he’s doing to cause this periodic cramping and just enjoy the rest of my pregnancy (despite the unabating nausea…).

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. I am just relaying personal experience and the information that has been given to me by doctors, nurses and that I have uncovered through my own research. As I could find very little online when I first started this unpleasant process I hope that by creating these posts I might be able to assist somebody else. 

 

Trimester Transition

This pregnancy is going by so quickly! This is the start of Week 15, baby is now the size of an apple and I am now officially in the second trimester.

The End of the First Trimester

I was looking forward to this point in pregnancy. I listed the effects of early pregnancy has on the body; the influences of hormones, the additional toxins a mother processes for her baby before they develop their own organs, and the physical changes that are beginning to take place.

The second trimester is associated with renewed energy, a waning of the signs identifying early pregnancy and begins at 13 weeks. It is an arbitrary development marker, which, of course, I was not anticipating to immediately banish all the effects of the first trimester, however, I did not anticipate them to accelerate.

The Start of the Second Trimester

Last week (14 weeks) was the most challenging to date (I’m still waiting to see how this one pans out, but given this morning’s nausea, I’m not feeling hopeful).

My morning sickness increased to day long nausea, I have suddenly developed food aversions and my hormones have gone through the roof. Whilst these are all perfectly usual and effects I expected, I’ll confess to expecting them to occur weeks ago, and was preparing for a temporary lull in the second trimester.

It doesn’t seem to matter if I am sitting, standing, walking or lying down. Waves of nausea just keep washing over me. It truly is like a giant green wave rising up from my belly and splashing down over my head.

Lesson Learnt: Comparing Pregnancies and Why You Shouldn’t

So I admitted to being VERY wrong about my expectations for the early weeks of the second trimester and it serves as a good example of why you should not compare pregnancy experiences.

Don’t get me wrong, swapping stories, sharing notes; great comfort can come from knowing that what you are experiencing is typical. The term ‘normal pregnancy’ is about as misleading as the idea of ‘morning sickness’. Nausea and vomiting are not confined to the first part of the day and ‘normal’ spans a huge range of experiences. ‘Normal’ essentially means an absence of complications during that pregnancy.

I am extremely fortunate that whilst I have a very small family, with very few young relatives, Samuel has a HUGE family comprised of many infants and young children. I have a lot of women with recent pregnancy and birth experiences to gain knowledge from.

There is another lesson to be learnt from talking to other women about their pregnancy experiences. Comparison does not just risk unfulfilled expectations (such as hoping that the nausea will diminish after the first 3 months have gone by) but also of diminishing your own experience.

Yesterday, we were at a baby blessing for our new cousin and I was chatting away with his mother (one of Samuel’s aunts) who I am extremely grateful for as she consistently provides me with a plethora of good advice and tips for endeavouring to have a positive pregnancy and birth experience.

She was asking me how the pregnancy was progressing, and how I have been feeling, and I mentioned how I have been surprised with the escalation of hormones and morning sickness since the second trimester commenced. I followed this up with comparing how I felt to the experiences of others, I really do consider myself fortunate to only be experiencing nausea and not full-scale sickness and vomiting.

However, she had a very sensible response to this: not to diminish how you are feeling and experiencing pregnancy, just because someone else is experiencing something else. Pregnancy is a very unique experience from woman to woman and whilst some of us might not be vomiting every morning that does not reduce the validity of what we are feeling.

Something New 

Since the first scan at 12 weeks I have been experiencing something new that I haven’t been able to find much information about. It’s a sensation that occurs in the very top of my abdomen, under my chest. It’s not a spasm which is what the internet has come up with, more like a contraction of the muscles around my diaphragm.

This was something else that I was discussing with Samuel’s aunt, and she suggested that it could be Braxton Hicks contractions which (in some cases) can be felt very early on. They aren’t technically referred to as Braxton Hicks until the start of the third trimester, but the sensation, a painless contraction of muscles, is the same.

I remain curious about how high up I am feeling this ‘contracting’, and from some of the research I have done, whilst first-time mums definitely cannot feel the baby’s movements until at least 16 weeks, it is possible to feel the effects of these movements much earlier.

The long and short of it is that I still don’t know what this sensation is, but as it is not cramping, is painless and brief, I am (at least at present) not concerned.

Never forget, if at any point in your pregnancy you have an experience which does cause you concern, you should always seek professional assistance, not just the advice of the internet.

 You can see how this weeks panned out here.

Good Day Gone Bad

Today started off quite well. All was perfectly satisfactory.

It was my day off today, so I took the dog for a long walk along the coast (18km in total). The benefits of exercise for mental health sufferers (and of course health in general) are well documented, but I am sure I am not alone when it comes to how I feel when I’m having depressive episodes. When I am suffering from depression, it often includes not wanting/having difficulty leaving the house. So going for a walk, running, or any other form of exercise, especially if there is the possibility of encountering other people, can be very daunting at such times. Let’s face it if you are feeling down about yourself or extremely body conscious then gyms are the worst. You will undoubtedly end up having to talk to someone at reception, then there are the changing rooms, and then not only are you in a room full of lots of other people but there are mirrors everywhere so you can see yourself from all angles. It doesn’t matter how gorgeous others perceive you to be, practically everyone dislikes some part of themselves and seeing it bobbing about in a mirror is not going to make you feel better about it.

I apologise now, this is going to be a flow of consciousness exercise, it might get edited, it might not, either way it will probably not lose the ranting tone. Sorry.

Fortunately, I didn’t wake up this morning feeling low. I felt like my more usual self. So I enjoyed the walk. I am grateful to no longer live in the city, I was brought up in the countryside and am just not well-adjusted to city life. That I can also go for walks by the sea is a dream come true. So I have a lot to be thankful for and in truth a number of good things going. Having a dog is a real blessing. She helps me get out of bed. Truly. Even on days when I don’t wake up feeling good, when she needs to go out, she potters up and places her nose on the edge of the bed. She doesn’t lick my face or anything like that, and fortunately she’s young so her breath isn’t too bad. But seeing her little nose snuffling at me to let her out makes me feel loved and needed and is fantastically motivating. She also helps me get lost in the moment when I am out walking her, something that I have never managed before. I really struggle to focus on just one thing. I’m useless at meditating and yoga and such things. But with my dog, either I am just enjoying the walk, the scenery I am part of and seeing her enjoy the walk, or I actually start day-dreaming again. Not catastrophizing or dreaming up disasters but proper day-dreaming. The realms of fantasy or things that I might hope one day to achieve and for once not mentally putting obstacles in place at every turn.

When I returned home, I had soup for lunch, wholesome and healthy. The day seemed to be getting better. Then I managed to make some headway in the home improvements my husband and I are undertaking. Our house is quite old and the previous owners did not take great care of it, so there are a lot of things that we are having to patch up and renovate. We also like the character features of the property and we are trying to highlight these and expose those that had previously been covered over. With my husband studying a PhD and myself working multiple jobs, our projects are currently progressing rather slowly. So I was pleased with my work this afternoon.

I had managed to achieve my goals for the day. But for some reason, as the sun began to set, my mood began to sink as well.

I don’t know why and I find it incredibly frustrating. I hadn’t watched or listened the news, which is something that can sometimes trigger my anxiety and fill me with a feeling of hopelessness. What I had done was attempt to fill out my tax return. Other than the goal of writing a daily post, this was the last thing I had hoped to achieve today. It wasn’t particularly urgent. As my contract changed last year I am no longer categorised as self-employed. This is a relief for me. I am aware that for many people of my generation, being their own boss is the dream goal. But for me, that’s too stressful. I am happy working for, or with, someone else. It’s not about responsibility or the ability to make decisions, I’m actually quite good in both of these areas. It just feels like having all ones eggs in one basket, and with someone who overthinks every little aspect of almost every part of their life, working for myself would likely end in disaster. Maybe that’s weakness in character, or a personal failing, but it’s the truth.

Each and every year I that I have been registered as self-employed I have experienced some complication with my tax return. It should actually be really simple. I have all my receipts, figures and so on. But logging in, time after time is just a nightmare. I didn’t realise how stressed it was making me until I sat down to dinner. I haven’t really stopped grazing since.

Now I am just waiting to be tired enough to go to sleep. I see sleeping as resetting. I am fortunate to know that I will feel different tomorrow. I haven’t always felt that way though.