To those left behind.

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The only guarantee we have when any of us are born, is that one day we will die. We all hope that there are many years in between the start and the finish, sadly all too often there are not enough years for any of our liking.

Today marks another funeral. This is the second funeral for someone I know this month, my uncle passed away just before Christmas, it was very sad to lose him, he was the last remaining member of my mums immediate family. He was a lovely man who will be missed by many, he had made it into his seventies leaving behind a wife, sons, grandchildren, nieces and nephews and friends.  Although we never want to say goodbye to our loved ones we have to sometimes and my uncles body could not carry him on any further. He didn’t want to leave any of his loved ones, but it would seem that it was his time.

Today marks a different sort of loss. Today many of my friends are having to say goodbye to someone who chose to leave, who over rode the fates and decided the day that she would go. I am sad to say that this is not the first time that someone I know has made this choice for themselves. 

For those left behind by the people who chose to leave it is so much harder than having someone taken from you.  Usually when someone goes you know that they didn’t have a choice, that if they could they would still be there with you, processing the fact that someone you love made the choice to leave you is so much harder to make sense of.

My first real experience of death was when my mum died. I was seventeen years old, the eldest of four children, the youngest of us was just eight years old.  My mum had bowel cancer. We watched her go through treatment, slowly shrinking away before our eyes, in pain, heavily medicated and miserable.  It will be twenty years since she died this year, her loss still hurts me but not as often as it did. Now it is just the happy times that I wish she was here for like the birth of my children but I know that she would have been right by my side if she could. 

Most of the time the people who chose to leave us are just as sick as the ones with cancer or heart disease, some of them may even have a diagnosis from a doctor to say how sick they are but unlike the other sick people who get all sorts of treatment to try and keep them here with us, they don’t seem to get much help at all.  Maybe they will get a prescription for some medication that is a plaster to cover over the problem. We all know that plasters are good at first when you cut yourself but very quickly they stop being good. The first time you need to have a wash they lose most of the sticky effectiveness and fall off, or they stick for too long and the wound underneath can’t get any air to breathe so it starts to fester and may become infected instead of healing.  Plasters are only good for a short time, the cut underneath either needs to be exposed to the air to heal or have regular replacement of plasters while a doctor checks the injury to keep an eye on the healing.

When it comes to mental health we are not giving so many people the healing treatment that they need to be able to live here with the rest of us.  How many more of our loved ones must we have to say goodbye to too soon before some sort of change is made? 

I know there are some people who view suicide as an easy way out.  It is not.  I have sat by a hospital bed while someone I love as much as you can love a person cried because they hadn’t realised how hard to was to kill themselves and they had failed.  I was so relieved that I still had them, that they hadn’t gone, but they were devastated to still be here. It broke my heart.  Luckily that person is still here, but not because they got proper help after that, they still have to fight for support from doctors, but thankfully they continue to try to battle against the invisible illness that makes them suffer.

We have decided to think that it is ok if someone is sick that we have to watch them slowly wither away in a hospital bed until they can no longer cling onto us.  

I don’t agree with that at all.  I believe in the right to choose.  If I am diagnosed with a terminal illness, if there is no treatment for me, then I will be buying myself a ticket to my nearest dignitas centre.  I don’t want to die like my mum did. So if there is no treatment offered to someone in crippling mental agony should we blame them for deciding that they no longer want to suffer?

I don’t think we should.  

I wish that mental health services were better, that everyone received the therapy that they needed to get better, I will continue to try and support my loved ones who are suffering with these kinds of problems, to tell them that I love them and help when I can.  

But if they can’t get help, can’t get better and do decide that the pain is too much to bear, I understand. 

We are the ones left behind, we hurt because we miss them and we loved them.  They don’t hurt anymore though. We can remember them with love and although it will forever be tinged with sadness and anger that we lost them, they are at peace, a peace that eluded them in life. 

It won’t make sense because they had a mind that couldn’t make sense of things anymore.  

To those of us left behind, hold each other tightly. Tell people how much you love them today, because it might help to make them see a way to still be here tomorrow.  

To all those who had to go, sleep well and know that you will be forever loved.

Hey fatty boom boom

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This morning in a moment of madness I decided to stand on the bathroom scales.  Obviously I am an idiot who hates her brain, but I did it.  And now I know.

I am ENORMOUS.


I weigh far too much for my liking.  I am fully aware that I only had a baby three months ago and that I need body fat to make breast milk, however I am still six kilos heavier than I was when I had my first child so I know that I have no need for this excess body weight.

I have started an exercise regime, but I am only twelve days into it so my magical transformation into something resembling my pre baby body has annoyingly not been achieved yet.

And there is this other issue, it’s food. 

Food is just so tasty.  And I am so hungry all the time because a mini human spends as much of her time as possible attached to me eating.  Then there are things like the toddler not finishing things that are a crime to throw away, who can throw out leftover banana with custard? Most certainly not me!  

My clothes are enjoying a morning laugh when I put them on, most of my jeans have decided that they wont do up, or they will but the muffin top created is horrifying.  I find myself looking at my middle with a mix of fascination and disgust in the mirror most days. I am too poor to replace my clothes so I must make myself the right shape to fit in them.

I wish that shedding weight was as easy as putting it on.  

I am going to have to employ will power, this has never been one of my strong suits, after spending all day freaking out about my body I have just sat and eaten a huge jacket potato topped with game stew.

So how does everyone feel about making dressing gowns the next big fashion trend so that I don’t need to worry about my size and be comfy all the time?

My love/hate relationship with the slow cooker.

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We have all seen the new year in with a horrific cold.  This is not at all out of the ordinary for me, I have spent every January since I left home in a sea of snotty tissues.  Horrible colds and small children are awful though.

Having a two  year and two month old both sick at the same time has been one of the most trying experiences of my life.  They both want to be constantly cuddled, they are both constantly leaking bodily fluids from every orifice, they both cry, neither can sleep well.  I have the same thing wrong with me and as I am breastfeeding all I can do is rub vapo rub on my feet as every cold and flu treatment on the market says that I am not allowed to take it.  I have earache and the crying causes my ear to crackle and pop with pain.

By the time lovely boyfriend  (also ill) comes home ftom work I feel like I deserve a medal for getting the toddler to bed in his own bed.  I am tired and hungry, it is usually between half nine and half ten at night.  Lovely boyfriend is a chef, the last thing that he wants to do is cook.

Our daughter is colicky (and was put into a pavlik harness for hip dysplasia just before Christmas so winding her is quite challenging), she usually starts to become unsettled at around half past four when I start to sort out our sons dinner, she has been crying through her brothers dinner, bath time, story time and will eventually calm down around nine p.m. fortunately, our son can somehow go to sleep with her bellowing in the same room as him (he will not however sleep if a parent is not in his room whilst he drifts off).

This has resulted in lovely boyfriend being served up some very lack lustre meals, straight out of the freezer and into the oven, by a tired me.  He is too lovely to ever pass any negative comment, I know how much I hate that sort of meal so I know that he can’t be loving it.

So this morning I decided to pull out the slow cooker and fill it with vegetables and chicken to make a stew that will be ready for when he comes home so that we can eat a meal with vitamins and flavours in it.

The problem with this is that I really hate stew. Its horrible.  I have tried loads of recipes, they all suck.  I have several slow cooker recipe books, I have cooked loads of the recipes.  Regardless of stirring in cornflour as per the instructions, the result is usually the same, soggy overcooked everything in a thin, runny sauce.

I have done curries, rice dishes, pasta extravaganzas and all other sorts of experiments in there.  The best smelling one was stolen by the dogs when I popped out to the shops to get naan bread to go with the curry, so I don’t know if it was good, but overall (apart from my Christmas gammon that I cooked in pineapple juice in there, that was a triumph)  I am usually thoroughly underwhelmed with the results. 

Our toddler is coming out the other side of the cold from hell and has refused to take his bib off all day because he is making up for the missed eating that he had last week (quite hilarious apart from when he realised that stickers don’t stick to it)  He has eaten two punnets of blueberries, cake, five fromage frais, some cheese and some fingers full of butter (nothing is safe) whilst I have been feeding/changing his sister and missed the fridge raid, he feeds anything that he doesn’t want to the salivating dogs that follow him into the kitchen. He has been fed large meals at meal times, he is by no means starving! I suppose it’s good that our dinner is already cooking because there won’t be any other food left by the time lovely boyfriend comes home.

I can’t wait until we are all better and our littlest family member grows out of her colic. I miss having enough energy and motivation to cook properly. Every time I go into the kitchen and see the slow cooker I get less enthused about dinner. I expect by the time I can sit down and eat a meal I will be very grateful for it. That is why I have a love and hate relationship with  the slow cooker, its got to be better than another kiev right?

So much joy, but a bit of moaning

I havent written anything since the day that my daughter wás due to be born. My main reason is that I didn’t want to be perceived as moaning and my other reason is that I really haven’t had enough time.  So why would people think I was moaning? Well probably because I am. 

But before I moan, I would like to acknowledge that  I know that I am incredibly lucky to be a mum to two wondeful small people and that there are couples out there struggling and desperate to have a baby, who would be more than happy to go through untold trauma to have a child.    I am so lucky and grateful to have them, it’s just that I honestly did not expect the end of my pregnancy journey to go the way that it did. 

My second child, my daughter arrived one day late.  I went into labour in the early hours of the morning just like I did with my son. My waters went on the toilet just like they did with my son.  There was meconium in them, and this is where the similarities between my labours started to end.  We went straight to the hospital to the ward we were supposed to go to, the one with birthing pools (not that I will ever be in one as my children just won’t let me) and the lovely rooms with fairy lights, calm atmospheres and comfy couches.   I was quickly sent to the other ward and strapped to machines on a proper hospital bed with no twinkly little lights in sight.  I was sad because I wanted an active labour, but I wanted my baby to be safe so quickly moved past that desire along with the water birth I knew I wasn’t getting.   Then during the internal examination to determine how dilated I was (4cm) the midwife said “oh, what’s that?”.  This is not a desirable thing to ever hear someone say when prodding about inside you.

The midwife went and got an ultrasound scanner and quickly realised that she had been poking my daughter in the bottom (explains the handful of meconium that she had upon withdrawing her hand from me, still one of the most worrying and disgusting things that I have ever seen come out of my body).  It was then explained that I could try a natural birth but it was most likely that she was stuck and the chances that they would have to chop up my lady garden with scissors and probably have to do a cesarean section anyway were very high.  So I signed the paperwork and opted to skip the vaginal destruction and get straight onto the emergency cesarean. 

They gave me an injection to stop my contractions, but it didn’t work (the only other similarity between my first and second labour is that I labour fast and in the space of twenty minutes had gone to third stage labour, was 9cm dilated and my contractions were not stopping for anyone) so I had blood taken, cannulas inserted and my spinal block all admistered during contractions.  I was terrified.  I sobbed my heart out when I got to the operating theatre. After my first child being such a speedy natural birth without so much as gas and air or even having enough time to make it to the fairy light festooned delivery room or fill up a birthing pool, I never imagined for a second that I would have a cesarean.  

I didn’t like the sensation of the spinal block, I couldn’t feel any pain but it felt like I had pins and needles from the belly down. I had never had an operation before. I had never had morphine in my body before. 

It turns out that it made me quite jolly and that I was trying to convince the surgeon leading the team to let the observing medical students “have a go” at helping with my cesarean apparently  after being told that they couldn’t saying “but it doesn’t seem fair, just let them do some of the stitches”.  Luckily for me I was the only one in the room who was off her face on drugs and nobody used me as a practice run for surgery, no matter how keen I was on the idea.

My beautiful daughter was delivered quickly and safely, wrapped up and given to lovely boyfriend to cuddle whilst they sewed me back up and sent me to recovery.  After my son was born he was placed straight on my chest to feed and cuddle and stayed there for ages, it was wonderful.  Not being able to hold my daughter until an hour after she had left my body was horrible, but sensible, the operating theatre was cold and I was not with it at all.

After having snuggles and feeding my new arrival and seeing that she was ok I started to feel a bit more ok about everything.  I also asked the midwife why it felt like my brain was made of cotton wool and I was itchier than I had ever been in my life before. Apparently morphine. So I told them that under no circumstances were they to give me any more of that.

The reality of being sliced in half began to set in. I was not allowed to lift anything heavier than my new baby, no driving or household chores for at least six weeks and the twelve hours that I would be bed bound with a catheter in as the first challenge to get past. I had my first feeling that my maternity care had not been great. My midwife left my doctors surgery when I was 34 weeks pregnant.  I saw five different midwives in the run up to my labour, two the day before and they had all told me that her head was engaged.  If they had spotted that she was breech then I could have tried physiotherapy to turn her and avoided a cesarean.  I know we are so lucky to have the NHS care that we do in the UK but for the first time in my life I was feeling let down by the care that I had received.  

How on earth was I supposed to cope with three dogs and a toddler when I got home? Thankfully lovely boyfriends parents were amazing and took care of my crazy mini man loads and my brother and friends came to help the rest of the time when they had to go and do things like, you know, work.

I only had one night in hospital because I had refused any more morphine they only give you paracetamol and ibuprofen to manage pain, and you can administer that at home yourself. I was grateful to be in my own bed and be able to sleep without the noise of other peoples babies and snoring going on. It is a but daunting though that soon after surgery. The midwife said that I couldn’t leave with the huge surgical plaster still on me and pulled it off. She took a photo for me as I was pretty horrified and half expected to see my insides fall out of my abdomen like a horror film. It really wasn’t as bad as I was expecting so I am sharing that with you too. (Scroll fast if you don’t want to see)

For the level of pain that I was in the tiny neat line did not seem right at all.  When I went to clean it though it looked awful, the surgical plaster left loads of sticky resudue on my skin, I had been wearing black underwear and was now covered in black fluff that took me a few weeks to remove entirely. 

The six weeks of not being able to do much except change nappies and breastfeed felt like an eternity as they were happening, but actually went quite quickly.   I started to to laundry and hoovering after three weeks (don’t tell lovely boyfriend, he would be cross, but he was back to working twelve hour days as a head chef and I couldn’t expect him to be doing everything ) and I was pushing them both around in the enormous double pushchair by six weeks.  All my fears that my son would hate his little sister were soon abated, he loves her and won’t stop kissing her.  I think he will love her until she can move and touch his stuff….

At the hospital they had checked our new addition over and found that her right ear was not responding to tests. This resulted in three separate visits to different hearing check places over the course of four weeks. I am relieved to say that her cochlea is fine and that she has glue ear. It is a common childhood ailment, at worst  meaning that she may need to have gromits or her adenoids/tonsils removed at some point, however in many children it goes away by itself. 

Our health visitor had said that because our little lady was breech that she would need a routine hip scan as soon as possible.  Due to a lady retiring her email was not received so she didn’t actually get checked until she was nine weeks old.  Where it turns out she has hip dysplasia on the left hip. Which meant that she needed to be put into a special harness called a pavlik harness.  

She has to wear it for twenty four hours a day for at least six weeks. This means no baths and a grumpy baby. We are only two weeks in, we have a hospital appointment tomorrow where I am hoping to be able to ask some questions and find out the extent of how bad her hip is. I was told very little about what was wrong, I think it was more important to tell me about how the harness goes on and how to change her in it.  This made my feelings of annoyance over my maternity care rear its head again. If they had spotted her being breech and tried to turn her inside me would her hip have not had problems? Would my happy little bundle have needed to be put in this harness that has transformed her into a clingy, stressed out baby?

I am reassured by other parents with “hippy” babies that actually they rarely remember anything about it and after treatment you would never know that there had been an issue.   Finding that most of the clothes you have for your baby are useless, that the bouncy chair she loved is unsuitable and the jumperoo that your first born adored will be a total no go zone is a bit heartbreaking though.

I am so grateful that my daughter is here. I am grateful that the NHS was there to get her out safely and to help test her ears and give her a harness to fix her bad hip. I am happy that our little family got even more awesome with a new member to add to it.  I am glad that even though the last eleven weeks have had lots of challenges and that I have cried more than I have ever done before (apart from when my mum died) that we are getting through them ok. 

I think I needed to put my moans out there. I think it’s ok to feel disappointed when things don’t go the way that you thought they would.   It is ok to wallow for a little while in those feelings.  I am doing my best to not feel guilty about the fact that I was uspet over the way it went, after all some people choose to have cesarean sections on purpose! 

I will keep you all posted on how our little lady is doing in the hip department when my mini ones give me time to write.   The only reason I have time today is that we are all sick with a cold and they are both sleeping, on me.  My left thigh is soggy with the sweaty head of a toddler on it. My right shoulder has baby snot all over it. I am a bit worried that she may be glued to me. I have written this on my phone. Please excuse poor layout/spelling that may have happened because of this! 

Due date….

As the clock ticked over to three a.m. my body decided to wake me up.  It does this now and has done for the last few weeks.  It is another joy of the heavily pregnant person.  Who doesn’t want to lie there wide awake in the middle of the night, when they should be resting, wondering if now might be the time that they go into labour, for long boring hour after another?   Me, that’s who.

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There’s a poo in the paddling pool…

The summer is finally upon us in all of its lovely sunny glory.  When you have a toddler it brings a whole load of challenges that you have never had to deal with before.  You are forced to chase a running tiny person, who is covered in a thick slick of factor fifty sun cream around the garden whilst trying to ensure they keep a hat on (they obviously have decided that hats were made by the devil and must never touch their head at all costs.). Continue reading

Still a man’s world…..

Yesterday we went and paid for a gender scan on my ever growing belly to check what flavour we were having.  Lovely boyfriend and I are very happy that our family will be completed with a baby girl.  I am looking forward to legitimately dressing a small person in hello kitty prints without the frown of disapproval that came when I gave my infant son hello kitty related things. Continue reading

Judging a book by its cover…..

Last night was one of the good nights at work where an interesting customer comes in and is actually fun to talk to.  Most of the time, as a member of bar staff you spend your time pretending to be interested in things that your customers have to say, or biting your tongue to stop yourself from telling them why everything that they have just said directly opposes all of your views.  The conversation got slightly marred by a comment by the person I was talking to, that I think was supposed to be a compliment, but was actually quite insulting…”Gosh, you are quite clever aren’t you!” Continue reading