Baby enforced break..

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Today, my littlest Ladey has been easing my pain. I’ve had an itchy ear for months, for the last week I’ve been feeling a bit dizzy, and last night it went from annoying to really painful, and this morning the ear started bleeding. It’s nothing serious, I got it checked out today, and I’m going back in a few days to make sure it’s cleared up or is clearing and in the meantime I’m going to just have a quiet couple of days while I get my balance back and the ear clears up! 
Scarlett isn’t with me on Tuesdays, and my husband is at work, so Holly came with me to my appointment. When we got home I ran a bath to try and relax a bit. I put our baby in her static walker with some toys next to the bath and hopped in. She wasn’t happy about it, normally she happily plays while I have a soak and chat to her but today she was really agitated. 

And so I picked her up, stripped her off and lay her on my chest in the bath. And I suddenly realised, my God I needed this. 

I have spent the last few days worrying about the dizziness and ear pain without mentioning it, and I’ve been stressing out without even knowing why I had a knot in my stomach or that anxious feeling in my chest. But then with my baby suddenly quiet and still lying with me, I felt the pent up emotions dissolve into quiet tears. 

Why so stressed about ear pain? I’m not really, it was a focus point. As soon as I exhaled and let go of the tension I realised; I’m nervous about my new job and hope all my preparatory work is ok, I’m anxious about doing all I can to make sure Scarlett has the best support at home alongside the nursery. I’m worried about ensuring I have calculated enough in these last couple of months of retained leave to make sure we’re ok financially. I’m conscious of keeping on top of everything and not letting anything fall through the gaps, and I’m not getting enough sleep, to name a few! 

None of these are unusual, we all have a thousand and one worries in our heads at any given time. We all try and catch it all like balloon strings to make sure nothing slips out of our grasp. And we all work as hard as we can to support ourselves and our loved ones while trying to ensure we do the things that are important and that we’re passionate about. 

And SOMETIMES, we have to let go of at least some of the strings and trust that there’s a ceiling there that is within our reach so we don’t go mad, or pass a few of them onto a comrade that has a hand free!

My husband text me today when I updated him to tell me that tonight I was not to do ANYTHING but relax, and let him take care of some things that needed doing. He’s amazing and I will no doubt have another good cry on his shoulder later tonight! And it’s a huge relief to know my teammate is there, on side, ready to pick up any balls I need to drop.

But for now I feel a bit like I have the best form of therapy, or the most powerful healing pill. As I type, I am breathing slowly in time with my beautiful (now sleeping) baby girl with the bath water surrounding us and her little arms wrapped round my neck like she knew. She knew Mummy needed a quiet cuddle to cry and let all the stresses of a fast paced, busy schedule go.

By the end of today I will feel much better and I will be ready to face tomorrow with a renewed vigour. Because nothing is really ‘wrong’, I’m not feeling my best, and life gets on top of us all sometimes. 

And I know a lot of us are too hard on ourselves. We work day in day out to keep up with this 24/7 lifestyle that’s needed to keep afloat and succeed these days! We’re checking emails and replying straight away, but not being too stuck to our computers. We’re eating kale because it’s good for the heart, but we’re saying yes to a brownie because life’s too short. We’re getting plenty of sleep but getting up an hour earlier to fit in yoga and staying up later to make sure everything’s done. Everyone is doing their best! But sometimes, sometimes we need to run a bath, have a cuddle, have a cry, tell yourself everything’s going to be ok, acknowledge that you’re doing your best and that’s all that can be expected of you. Give yourself a break, exhale. 

And everyone needs good teammates around them, people who will hold the strings, pick up the balls, support you as you support them. And sometimes we need to make sure we’re asking for help! It’s often much easier to deal with someone else’s problem than it is to deal with your own, swapping can often make a huge difference, or at least gain a perspective from someone who has your best interest at heart and won’t judge you as harshly as you judge yourself! 

My bath time cuddle came at a perfect time, and it reminded me that I needed to stop and break a little bit. My to do list hasn’t disappeared, the stresses won’t indefinitely stay away, but I really needed this perfect moment, and it feels like my seven month old choreographed it for me! 

If anyone else is feeling the stress or struggling under your life load, PLEASE give yourself a break. Stop for at least twenty minutes and let yourself off all the hooks your hanging yourself from. Everything’s going to be ok. 

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First moment memories…

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I’ve become a bit of a go to for questions in the ‘April 2016’ internet group I’m in. Reason being is that with Holly’s birth, I was in labour for a day and a half (some of which I didn’t realise!) and I had an emergency csection. 
So I have the (slightly dubious!) honour of experiencing the pain of contractions, and the recovery process from the csection. Cue a lot of questions about both. Now I had a rather substantial seizure in the middle of proceedings so there’s a lot of gaps in my memory due to that anyway; but I can honestly say that even less than a week on, it’s tricky to recall certain details. 
Csection recovery questions are not really ones I can answer just yet. So far? The fact that my husband makes me laugh is now a curse rather than one of my favourite things, and it’s amazing how many things you discover you use stomach muscles for when you suddenly can’t use stomach muscles without an incredibly large amount of pain! But it’s improving daily and knowing that the pain is a result of our baby’s safe delivery into the world makes it much easier to bear. I know that sounds like a horrendous cliche but it’s true. 
The contraction pains? I read up myself on what they felt like before the event (before it had been confirmed that a natural birth would be too high risk for us) and it seems other people were able to describe it better.
As for me I really struggled to come up with an adequate description beyond ‘indescribable pain’!
Then yesterday I was looking through the photos on my phone (there are a lot of the labour and birth process, something I requested of my husband because I knew that in the case of seizures, I was unlikely to remember a lot of it and wanted to at least be able to have a clear picture of how it all went in years to come.) and one of the photos I saw, I felt probably summed up the pain and emotion better than I could ever explain. 
Apparently it was taken when I was waiting for them to complete various tests before being able to head to the operating theatre when the contractions were very close and very strong. As they reached a peak I would grab onto my husband and he would grab my hand and try and help talk me through it until it subsided. 
I couldn’t have done it on my own. It was frightening, it was painful, and unfortunately in my case I had quite a lot of missing brain power! For me, the best person to be by my side was my husband, for others it can be a parent, a sibling, a friend etc. But having a person there, whoever your person may be, is a huge part of the whole experience in my opinion. You are vulnerable, you are being put through one of the most demanding physical experiences of your life. It’s so demanding and so intense, your body and your brain blocks a lot of it out post the event! You need someone there to give you strength, to pull you through the moments you think you can’t do it. 
And it’s tough for them too, as the mum you forget a lot of what goes on. Your person watches a person they love go through something without being able to do anything to help or take some it from you. They most likely don’t realise how valuable their moral support is.
With the various health complications, I will not be able to safely carry another baby without serious kidney implications, not to mention the increased epilepsy risk after this pregnancy. So from about half way through this one, we were aware it would be our last biological baby. So throughout all the relatively dramatic process of Holly’s birth, we tried to focus on how special it was being the last time.
And although I have rather clumsily typed all the feelings of the above out, when I came across this picture, it made me tear up. And not JUST because the new Mum hormones have kept me more emotional than normal! It means a great deal. I’m gripping onto my person in pain. He’s gripping onto me in support. And we’re doing it together for the last time. 
After a hugely difficult few months, this one moment feels like the most appropriate representation of how we both felt.
So as far as answering technical questions, in all honesty, I’m pretty rubbish! I think it’s such an incredibly personal experience. Chatting to friends only goes to prove to me that no labour story is the same. When you’re pregnant, all you have is questions, thoughts on how it’s going to go. After labour? I’m not sure you really have any answers! But you have moments. We had several across the entire pregnancy, but this is the one representation, the picture I will always go to. It’s not very helpful in answer to any questions I’m asked. But it’s the closest thing to an answer I have.