Shared Spousal Support…

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Some people just suit pregnancy, they glow, they enjoy the growing life inside of them and everything about the pregnancy just goes to show how natural they are at such a precious time. I have three close friends who were all varying degrees of pregnant whilst I have been, two of whom have now given birth; and although obviously no pregnancy is 24/7 glee and pleasure, my close friends all really suit pregnancy and look good doing it.
I, on the other hand…I’m a slightly different picture! I am epileptic, which plays up during especially the end stage of pregnancy. I have PCOS (polycystic ovaries, which can cause fertility problems which definitely hasn’t been the case for us but with it brings some less favourable factors). I have a bicornuate uterus (which means my uterus is an unusual shape, we’re extremely lucky that both our children as embryos ‘planted’ in a safe place so as to develop safely but they have still had less space in their first ‘home’). I also have weak kidneys, which were a small problem in my first pregnancy and have become a much bigger issue in my second. Added together, it’s a miracle really we’ve been able to have two healthy children!! And looking at it written down, frankly we’re really lucky to have only had the issues we have done. It’s funny really, all the issues we were aware of, and it’s the things we weren’t aware of that have caused the worse problems! ANYWAY, my point is, we’re very fortunate but I am not really naturally built for pregnancy. When my husband and I first dated, I even made him aware that I wouldn’t necessarily be able to have children given everything.
Based on the information and advice we were given after Scarlett was born, we opted for a small age gap between siblings. We knew pregnancies would be tough, but once we’ve passed that period, our family is complete and we can focus on the rest of our lives together as a four.
I’m envious of my three beautiful friends, and other friends who seem to have breezed through pregnancies. Don’t get me wrong, you never know what goes on behind closed doors and I know that everything was by no means as easy for them as I see them from a simplistic view. I also know that there are people all over the world that have a significantly worse time of it so I’m certainly not by any means trying to throw myself a pity party. 
Tonight my husband and I were looking at some old photos. Sometimes, with the bed rest, the confusion with the higher epilepsy medication I’m getting used to, the dashes to hospital and the helplessness we quite often feel; we forget that this time of our life is relatively short. Within two and a half years we’ve got that difficult time done. The pregnancy stage of our life (which isn’t the fun, whimsical time as advertised in the films). Even this coming Summer we can see long sunny days on the beach, travelling with our two children to nice places that a theatre tour we’re working on is going to. Happy times adventuring with friends and we also have a ski trip that we’ve had on the cards for a while. These plans will not happen within days or weeks of the baby being born, but my point is this. My husband and I remember laughing together until drink comes out of our noses, the sort of jokes with friends you talk about after the event that other people wonder what the hell you’re talking about! The fun times with our first child with several precious family trips! 
Today, however, we have been reminded that sitting in a bedroom, eating dinner from a tray and taking medication is not what our life is about. Lucid only some of the time with notes reminding me what’s going on each day, is not our permanent status. We’re lucky, life is hard at the moment because of a particular set of circumstances that have a distinct end date. Pregnancy is not something we’re going to miss, which is not something you’re supposed to admit. But in the same way that a marriage isn’t about the one wedding day; not having a riot during pregnancy has no reflection on how cherished your family is! Our official due date is 10th April, after that date (if we even manage to go to full term!) we will have finished that stage of our life. So although I have spent a lot of time recently feeling like I will never get outside again, (and/or feeling as high as a kite!) we are so nearly there and that has been very uplifting!
Today we were reminded that we have a truly wonderful life together and we have many happy years of manic, busy, magical ridiculousness ahead! 

Beating the blues…

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Having looked back on my last couple of posts, I’m aware I’ve been slightly doom and gloom recently! My apologies comrades, bed rest & not being able to get out of the house/get any sleep/relieve the pain/do anything to make sure my unborn baby is ok/spend time with my little girl…
…ok sorry so I’m not necessarily quite the shiny happy penny yet..! HOWEVER, I am trying to use my time slightly better and so one of things I’ve done recently is make a list of things I’m looking forward to after my hospital/house arrest status. Some are baby related, but some are just Danielle related, when women have a baby, that child becomes the most precious thing, but I also think that it’s important to keep a big part of what makes you you as an individual to be the best Mum you can be. So when I make the below list, I’m in no way commenting that I want to have a child free life or that I hold any negative thoughts for either of my children at this time! But for me, part of being a Mum is making them a part of our lives and who we are as parents. 
Anyway, before I blather on anymore (lots of time with my own thoughts at the moment, some of which rather medication addled but that’s another blog entry!) here’s my list;
Post Pregnancy Bucket List
1. Wear jeans! Or for that matter, any tighter trousers! A growing bump obviously makes tighter trousers relatively difficult but with all the other various things going on, I will be so relieved to be able to wear things pain free! 

2. Sign up to (& take part in!) a charity event! One of my ‘hobbies’ if that’s the right word, is hosting & taking part in charity events. In the last few months there were a few pregnancy friendly things like coffee mornings that I’ve sadly had to cancel, there’s an upcoming ‘sleep easy’ event for the YMCA that, had this last part of the pregnancy not been so tricky I would have been at to help (administratively not sleeping out this year!). However I also really miss the sporting challenges, my husband and I at Christmas time, enjoyed a table at a ball in Birmingham as thanks for raising £10,000 (not in one go I might add but over the years). That money was raised through music events, theatre events and also 5ks, 10ks, triathlons, sea swims, assault courses and charity netball tournaments. My schedule is always hectic and I’m looking forward to being able to get back involved, and involving my two children in them where appropriate!

3. Adventuring! My personal Twitter account (@ladeington if anyone wants to look for themselves!) is currently a picture of Scarlett in a backpack on my back at a famous Gloucestershire filming location. On the day in question, whilst filming was going on, my husband, Scarlett and I had some time to explore the beautiful area like we were explorers in middle earth. It was a fab day, and a day that was not unusual for us, we always prioritise adventuring and I cannot wait to be able to be able to do so again; whether it just being my husband and I, or with both our children.

4. Cocktails with my handsome husband! Neither he or I are big into large nights out anymore, but we do have a substantial collection of spirits and wine at home and we enjoy a tipple or two on special occasion or when we have a day off together. Something we also enjoy is going for a couple of cocktails, (ok so I tend to choose a cocktail and he’ll have gin or whisky!) it’s nice to go out a bit dressed up and get a bit tipsy together and just generally enjoy being a couple!

5. Trips to the seaside! My Dad is under a bit of a house arrest of his own at the moment! As I’ve mentioned, because of the epilepsy becoming more of an issue this pregnancy and more so since the kidney problems have come into play, I’m not to be on my own with Scarlett or on my own with our second child (which consequently means I can’t be on my own). My husband has got most of his work covered and is looking after Scarlett most of the time, in the meantime, Dads staying with us to be here when Tom has to work and to help with our little girl and myself to ease the strain on my husband. Normally however we tend to see Dad roughly once a month because we head down to Sussex where he lives, overlooking the sea. That’s also where a lot of my family live so it’s win win, family time and the seaside! Due to kidney problems at the beginning of the pregnancy and now all this at the end, we haven’t been down south since Scarlett’s pre birthday trip in June!! I look forward to our first trip down post baby, I only hope I recognise everyone…! 

6. Going for dinner and ordering a lovely rare medium steak! Maybe after a really yummy pate for starter. All accompanied by a good red wine! 

7. Zip lining! I was due to go zip lining a few months ago but had to cancel, so I look forward to booking another session!

8. Getting back into work without special measures! I love my career, I love my work. Last year we travelled to Paris, Glasgow and Brussels, and my writing work even took us to stay at Alton Towers overnight. Recently, I had to cut it all down to working from home and my duties were gradually reduced until I was finally put on bed rest. This has not been easy to swallow to say the least! I’m lucky that my children can often benefit from my work so it’s not that I don’t want to be at home with my children, far from it, I just want to get back to happily busy.

9. Spending time with my two children, outside of the house, on my own! After I’ve given birth, the expectation is that my epilepsy should go back to being a non issue which will mean I’ll stop being a higher risk and can be on my own with my kids without us needing to worry. Even better, I’ll be able to leave my house to do so, I’ll be able to take them to the park, swimming, even just into town! A small thing, definitely, but it will be so appreciated! 

10. Our first holiday as a four! It won’t be soon, it most likely won’t be particularly far away or fancy. But I cannot WAIT to not have to stay close to the hospital, and for days off work to be for leisure rather than from medical necessity. Even if it’s just a weekend with no particular plan, to be able to just pack up the car, have our family of four pile in, put on a cheesey mixed cd with no thoughts and worries other than what we might have for dinner that night and whether we’ll be able to find a tacky enough fridge magnet to bring home for our collection! Yes, the two of us have a little collection of fridge magnets from places we’ve been together as a couple, don’t envy how cool we are, you too can start your own collection with your own partner if you want to reach the dizzy heights of our rock and roll lifestyle!
As you can see I’ve not started with a hugely ambitious list. My husband and I have lists galore about the things we want to do in the future or the places in the world we want to go to but for now, when I have either my four bedroom walls or four hospital walls to look at, this list of ten things is keeping me quite happily daydreaming of fun times to come.
And with a maximum wait of five weeks before we’ll meet our new arrival (they won’t be letting me go to full term) although it’s not the easiest time, the light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter and brighter.

All for the best…

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I’m very down today. Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled to be home (
I was let home yesterday with a bag of painkillers, antibiotics, stronger epilepsy tablets and instructions on how to keep our baby safely inside for at least a few more weeks). However, one of the biggest things, for the safety of my toddler and our unborn child at the moment with the increased epilepsy risk is that for the remaining weeks while the risk is there, although the risks are small, I’m not going to be on my own until the baby is safely here and everything else has calmed down.
Now I understand this. There is nothing in the world that would make me put either of my children at any risk. 
But hands down, as a Mother, it’s the hardest thing to deal with during this process. I KNOW the logic, I KNOW the reasons behind it. I don’t need to hear that it’s ‘for the best’ or ‘for my own good’. I understand it all. But for a Mum to hear that you are not the safest person for your child to be with is heartbreaking. Devastatingly so. And at the moment because we’re seeing various different health practitioners as we get passed through triaged, wards, back home etc etc, it’s been a sentiment emphasised to us several times. Which only really makes it more difficult, by the time I’ve spoken to 4 health professionals, I feel like screaming, “yes I get it, I am not suitable to be looking after my own children. Please stop ramming that down my throat.”
Now I know I’m being somewhat irrational. I know that they’re not questioning me as a mother in general. The additional strain of this pregnancy has had an unfortunate knock on effect on my underlying epilepsy; which means that while the (amazing) NHS treat repeated kidney infections and deal with the medical things that go hand in hand with that, my brain is starting to struggle to keep it together. The lack of sleep makes it worse. The increased risk of falling whilst holding my beautiful little girl or simply while carrying my unborn child, or the increased risk that confusion may lead to any kind of accident or even just me not realising if my waters break or similar because I’m not ‘with it’ enough are not risks I’m willing to take. My husband and I have dramatically changed our normally hectic timetables to accommodate this including help from family and friends. We are doing that so we do the best for our children.
So I’m not in any way fighting the plan. I’m in full support of the plan. I will do whatever is needed. The part I’m struggling with? Saying goodbye to my little girl as she once again goes off with somebody to be looked after. Nodding numbly as a health professional asks us to confirm that we have things in place to ensure I’m not on my own with the children. Having other people tell me about things my little girl has done. 
And, needing other people to organise or rearrange their lives around me. I am normally someone who happily lives around ensuring other people are ok, I usually have a busy and hectic life which suits my family and myself and I love being involved in lots of different projects and other peoples projects. It’s what my personal and professional life revolves around and is based on. In Scarlett’s early days, we travelled all around the country and it was fab. Life is busy, life is manic and life is great. But now when I’m at home I suddenly need help with simple things, and have to answer seemingly ridiculously easy questions to make sure I haven’t lost any time. My husband ensures I take all the various tablets I need to. The busy, independent woman filling her days and taking her daughter along with her, has turned into a useless shell who, chances are if you call round, is in the middle of a half nap because a combination of side effects and pain means I can’t sleep.
Once our second child is here, all these things will be much more easily sorted. There will be of course a period of recovery and my kidneys and epilepsy won’t be 100% solved overnight. But it really won’t take too much time once everything isn’t under so much pressure from each direction. I’m also more than aware that becoming parents to a second child will not quieten our schedule. We are not naive enough to think that post birth, life will become easy. But take away constant trips to the hospital to clear up infections, the additional risk of worsened epilepsy (which is not anticipated to be an issue when the other health issues are resolved) and we can just concentrate on sleepless nights, and the regular trials and tribulations that parenthood brings! 
So today I am very down. I missed saying goodbye to my little girl as she went to be looked after again because I was half asleep, half awake and I don’t remember her going. 
She will have a lovely day, without me. She will pick up more words and phrases in a highly active stage of her development, without me. She will be safe, without me. 
I know all the logic, I know that it’s for the best, and I’m happy to do so to ensure the best for my children. But for now, at the moment, my heart is broken. 

Misguided Motivation…

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(NB. Spelling/grammar errors
likely, I’m extremely tired, and autocorrect is my nemesis! I’m choosing to post anyway, figuring, ah hell, it’s an imperfect world!)
Someone on Facebook posted one of those motivational posters (you know the ones, usually italic text on a picture of a sunset.) and the quote was “I don’t know how my story will end, but nowhere in the text will if say I gave up.” Gave up was in capitals so you could be totally sure of the main point of the quote. Now I am not against motivational quotes, far from it. If it helps someone or cheers someone up then I’m all for them. And a good quote can often help you see something from a different perspective which is never going to be a bad thing. 
However, I disagree with this one. Maybe I’m weak. Or maybe I’m allowing myself (and others) to be human. In my text, there will be a few times where it will say I give up, or variations! I surrender, I give in, I can’t do this. The power and the strength comes from getting through those moments. From getting to your lowest points, giving up and then picking yourself back up again. Or even if someone else picks you up, that you continue at some point is the main thing. There’s been a few times this pregnancy where things have overwhelmed me and I’ve felt defeated, I’ve felt conquered. I’ve ignored my phone, and wanted to take annual leave from the carousel of life (very dramatic of me I know, I always have had quite the dramatic flair!). I have, so far in my life, 100% record of getting through bad days. Sometimes by my own strength, sometimes with the help of others. I’m proud to know that on some occasions, I have been the person to hell somebody else up when they have given up or been temporarily beaten by something in their life. Strength comes from carrying on, forgiving yourself or others and getting back up after you’ve put down your sword (metaphorical sword obviously!).

So whilst motivational posts can be great, they can also serve to make people feel as if they’re being weak or not rising to the challenges that they just don’t feel like they can take on at that time. 

We got to a point this pregnancy where it looked like our second child wouldn’t be safe. Where my health problems would make a safe arrival not possible. And I was heartbroken, and my husband and I were terrified. The ‘chin up’ attitude was, for at least a few hours, totally abandoned. We allowed ourselves together to feel the pain, to give in, to absolutely feel our worst. We clung to each other and then together, with the help of some amazing friends and some family, who gave us unquestioning, and totally selfless support, we picked ourselves up again. We’re now thankfully at a safe stage where even if baby arrives later this morning, there should be no major health risks. 

Are we failures for that dark moment? Weak because part of us gave into feeling hopeless and terrified? No! We were overwhelmed for a short time. Life is very difficult for all of us and anyone who says they haven’t had moments where they’re truly not sure if they can cope are lying! (Or should maybe write a manual that the rest of us can borrow!) Sure there are some people that seem to enjoy wallowing in gloom and telling anyone with ears how much worse their problems are without ever bothering to ask how anyone else is; but to keep yourself sane, surround yourself with people who don’t seek out misery! (That comment is not directed at those with mental illnesses or genuine problems, instead just the – luckily small minority – of people who cast themselves as real life dementors!) 

A close friend of mine recently confided that she was really struggling with loneliness after a rather nasty break up, having had her whole life planned in front of her she said to me after popping round ‘I know it sounds pathetic compared to other people’s problems, but I just don’t feel I can cope.’ To her, a lot of the motivational posts online just made her feel like she was weak or at least not as strong as she ‘should be’. I believe my words were (and admittedly I’ve been a lot more blunt in this third trimester) ‘oh b%ll%cks to that, you’re going through a tough time, let yourself feel it as then pick yourself up when you’re ready.’ I didn’t in anyway mean she should quit her job or move to Thailand or anything that drastic. Merely that, do you know what, sometimes it’s ok to eat an entire tub of icecream, whilst crying your eyes out and feeling the hurt that motivational pictures and quotes seem to imply we shouldn’t allow ourselves to feel. My follow up advice to her was that if she chose gin or wine to grieve with, maybe avoid her phone or social media so she didn’t making any calls or posts she may regret! By all means, check out the quotes afterwards when you’re ready to roll your sleeves up and get up and at ’em, they can then be a great motivational aid. But for Gods sake lets sometimes allow ourselves to say, this time of my life (or time in the week or even just an hour of a day) is really freaking bad and that’s ok. When it rains heavily, we know it will stop at some point, although you can use an umbrella, it’s useless to try and stop the rain from falling, just know that it will pass and know it’s ok if you get wet.

So my text will definitely read that I gave up in places. You can’t ever stop the carousel of life but you don’t have to pretend to enjoy every minute, or play the part of untouchable superhero at all times. 

To anyone who is going through a particularly difficult period at the moment, I salute you comrade. Real strength comes in embracing those moments and picking yourself back up when you are ready, it also means you will have more effectively dealt with how you’re currently feeling. So although it hurts, it’s win win (in a really difficult way to see right now kind of way!). Give up with vigour if you need to and it may help you not give up at other times down the line. 

I’m not currently in a giving up place, we’re in a much better situation than we were a few weeks ago, so although my ward companion is snoring, and it’s 4.30am and I haven’t slept yet, I am actually feeling quite optimistic. And I’m really thankful for that. But this is life we’re talking about, it won’t be the last time I want to crawl under a duvet, have a cry and say ‘I can’t do this!’ I want my two children to grow up knowing that you’re obviously aiming high enough if you sometimes try and reach for the skies and miss. And that its ok to fall sometimes without feeling like a failure. Behind every happy life, are dark times that act to drive us to get there. Behind every success story are several, and often spectacular moments of failure. That’s ok. By all means edit your storyline for public consumption, the suffering doesn’t have to be in public, but don’t hide it from yourself. Embrace it and know that as you also have a 100% record for getting through bad days, it’s ok to give yourself a break when you get through the next one.

Valiant Valentine…

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I’m back in the hospital, having had steroid injections to help baby’s lungs develop and on antibiotics for a new infection that brought on some contractions (which will hopefully be managed so we don’t have a premature labour). Although if premature labour IS on the cards, I’m already being monitored and prepared with aforementioned steroid injections and painkillers so I’m in the best place and lucky to be being looked after by our wonderful NHS. 
That’s the quick summary of the situation so I can get to my main point.

Today is Valentines Day. A ‘holiday’ that my husband and I don’t celebrate apart from in a jokey way (St Valentine is also the patron saint of epilepsy, the plague and beekeepers amongst other things so we like to choose an alternative to honour each year!). However, this year, I feel very lucky and I feel like we have absolutely celebrated it. 

We didn’t go out for a fancy meal, we didn’t exchange pricey or extravagant gifts. Instead my #ValentinesDay Instagram post was a picture of my hospital bed. (@Ladeington for any interested readers!) The reason I still ‘hashtagged’ it as Valentines Day is because for the entire day, while I’ve been poked, prodded, handed things to pee into, injected with things and hooked up to various machines; my husband has been by my side. Holding my hand, making me smile, stroking my hair, telling me everything’s going to be ok, as well as co-ordinating Scarlett being looked after again for the next couple of days and updating family members on the situation. I have spent the day, in pain, yes, but being shown the purest, most honest and truest sense of romance all day.

When I was taken up to the ward and he had to leave, I was incredibly sad to see him go, he is my absolute rock. And although it sounds ridiculous, it has, in some ways been the most wonderful Valentines Day I’ve ever had (obviously once we knew there was no danger to baby!).

It’s now gone 2am and painkillers have helped at least reduce the pain slightly, and my ward companion only snores gently so I’ll hopefully get some sleep, I feel much better knowing my comrade will be back with me tomorrow and with a bit of luck I’ll be home soon to be with my little girl who I miss terribly, and with Scarlett’s younger sibling still on the inside! 

So although I’m not normally the soppy romantic type, Happy Valentines Day to you all, wherever you find love, whomever it may be with and in whatever form you cherish it!

Varied vocabulary…

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With everything going on during this last trimester, I’ve found it difficult to sum up how I feel, I keep finding myself using made up words in an attempt to express it as realistically as possible. 

One of the words I’ve been using most often (sponsored by a combination of sleep deprivation, pain, epilepsy and general baby brain) is ‘floopy’. A word that is not currently in the Oxford dictionary, so for the benefit of you all, ive defined it as best I can:

Floopy

[floo-py]

Adjective

1. Reduced brain capacity and state of lesser understanding ‘By 3pm each day, Danielle’s brain checks out and for the rest of the day she can only be described as floopy.

2. State of mind, hazy understanding of the world immediately surrounding one. ‘Danielle could see her husband was talking to her but couldn’t quite work out what he was saying, or when it was she’d entered that room, or why’

I’ll of course let you all know how the Oxford dictionary definition application goes…!