Taking control of my second pregnancy

There is another baby on the way in the Mummykind team! I’m pregnant with baby number two and this time round I know quite a bit more about what I am doing.

I have already had a couple of midwife appointments and in that time I have been able to exercise my right to decline routine testing which, if I’m honest, was totally empowering. They would like for me to have a fasting blood glucose test later on in pregnancy to test for Gestational Diabetes . They want me to have this test because I am slightly overweight for my height –  a BMI of 32 at the time (already 11 weeks pregnant and showing) and my Grandfather has Type 2 Diabetes.  I was tested in my first pregnancy and I was fine, as I knew I would be. The test was actually horrible for me, I was hungry, tired and felt so sick. They take two rounds of bloods which is about my limit before I pass out. I decided this time to not put myself through it. Saying “no” felt so good.

I plan to reject further carbon monoxide testing on the grounds that I will have to walk through fairly heavy traffic to get to each appointment and the results are skewed because of that. The first one was unpleasant and I don’t need to be using a giant plastic straw every single time I see a midwife for them to confirm to me that I don’t smoke and my boiler is fine.

Bye bye pregnancy vitamins. They make me feel ill and it turns out you only need to supplement with vitamin D after 12 weeks. There are tentative links being made between folic acid after 12 weeks and tongue ties in newborns which is something I would like to avoid if at all possible.

In my first pregnancy I was pushed from midwife to midwife to consultant and back to another different midwife – 9 midwives and 2 consultants in total by the time I was discharged (not including the ones who came and went through my labour and delivery). I never had a number for a specific person or an allocated individual looking after my care and needs. I have made it clear this time that this was detrimental to my previous care – I now have two ladies looking after me and I have both of their contact details. The feeling of security because of that alone puts my mind at rest.

I will be opting for Group B Strep testing this time. The midwife has already tried to downplay it but I’m not taking that risk again.

I trust my body. It’s becoming almost a mantra at this point. In my previous pregnancy I trusted healthcare providers over my own instinct. Now they do have their merits, they are highly trained and experienced after all. But they cant feel what you are feeling. There will be no telling me when I can and can’t push this time and if anyone indicates that they don’t think I’m trying hard enough or has the gall to tell me that I just need to push harder they will be told to leave.

I will be asking to see copies of the medical consent forms and disclaimers I will be asked to sign in the event of an emergency. It’s important to me that I know what I am signing and in the middle of labour I don’t want to be trying to get a grasp on this kind of thing. I will also be asking for a full run down of what pain relief I will be offered and the risks involved with them, as well as my own research into what will work best for me with my Fibromyalgia and previous traumatic birth.

I will be immediately disengaging from the health visiting service because I can’t bring myself to trust them after their stack of failures last time, if it will appease them I may attend weighing clinics on my own terms. I know that every health visitor is different and some are amazing but I’m not putting my mental health in the hands of a luck-of-the-draw system, the ones I met let me down last time so they aren’t welcome this time.

Knowing now that my children are genetically predisposed to tongue tie and CMPA I will not be hanging around if I spot a single symptom. 6 months of feeding hell with my first was too much for everyone and I refuse to go through it again.

Cloth nappies will be coming with me to the hospital and they will be used from day one. Anyone who wants to tell me it’s too much work or that the hospital “won’t allow” me  to use them will get a full lecture from me about the benefits of cloth, my rights as a parent and about belittling the choices of pregnant women.

To put it in a sentence:  I’m in charge.

5 reasons why I never want to be pregnant again!

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Babies are great… Okay, let’s not get ahead of ourselves… They CAN be great, when they want to be. But most of the time they’re either sucking the life out of you (LITERALLY) or shitting on you (AGAIN, LITERALLY) and I swear they enjoy every second of it!
 
But anyway, they can be great… I mean, who doesn’t love babies? Pregnancy, however, is a whole different kettle of fish, and my god do I never want to do that again.
 
Here are my 5 reasons why!
  1. For someone who already had a lot of emotional issues, the heightened emotions of pregnancy made things even harder to cope with. It’s actually pretty shit crying over silly things, or for no reason. And even if you feel like you’re crying for a legitimate reason, other people don’t take you seriously because you’re pregnant, and they blame it on the hormones. Even if it is due to those nasty things, that doesn’t make your feelings any less legitimate. Even if I was crying because the vacuum broke…
  2. As soon as you’re pregnant, other people feel like they can dictate to you what to do. Mainly your midwife. I was a veggie and my midwife did not respect that, and asked me to start eating meat, saying that the baby would be iron deficient if I didn’t. Eating meat changed nothing except to make me put on more weight, and I still had to take iron tablets. But it’s not just the midwife, it’s all of your non-pregnant friends! One friend literally breathed down my neck about me eating mayonnaise, and said I didn’t look pregnant, just like I’d had a big lunch (I forgave her for that and we laugh about it now, but hello?! Heightened emotions!!!!!!). AND THEY ALL WANT TO TOUCH YOUR BELLY AS IF IT SUDDENLY BELONGS TO THEM.
  3. Following on from that one… In the last few months when the baby is running out of room: at night, if you lie on your back, the baby’s movements look like something out of Alien. You can visibly see their backs turning or their feet protruding and as well as being uncomfortable, it freaked me the hell out. And guess what? If I didn’t like seeing and feeling it myself, I also didn’t like other people touching my belly and setting the whole “let’s kick mummy to shit from the inside out” rhythm off!
  4. It’s not nice having to bare all to a large number of healthcare professionals – whether it’s the stretch-mark covered belly or your vagina, I didn’t quite get used to having it all out there until I was in labour and quite frankly couldn’t give a crap either way at that point.
  5. Post-pregnancy, I’ve had all these ridiculously annoying baby hairs sticking out of my forehead making me look like a baby lion. It’s not nice. My daughter is now 2, and I still have these! My hair, skin and nails didn’t glow while I was pregnant and now I’m stuck with this mega hair growth that’s so pitiful and annoying all at the same time! I can’t even wear my trademark mum bun for more than 30 minutes without the baby hairs pointing up and making me look like a tit in public. And god forbid it’s a windy day! Windswept would be an understatement…
Are there any reasons why you’d prefer not to go through pregnancy again? Let us know in the comments!

Mental Health Monday: Antenatal Depression

Recently, postnatal depression has been receiving a lot of media attention and greater awareness as a result, which really is fantastic! But… other topics not so widely spoken about are the reams of other postpartum mental illnesses, in addition to antenatal depression and anxiety.

Amy has spoken about her experience of postpartum psychosis on the blog already here, hopefully raising awareness of the fact that it’s not always so straightforward in relation to postnatal mental health! Today, I want to focus on antenatal depression and what it can look like. Similarly to postnatal mental health worries, it can be difficult sometimes to distinguish between depression, or “just hormones”.

A little foreword: my experience of antenatal depression started when I was around 5-6 months pregnant – it can of course start much earlier than that – and to some extent I already knew what the warning signs were, having suffered with depression in the past. Hopefully the following list will help someone else recognise the warning signs in either themselves or a loved one, and enable them to get help as early on as possible! Also I’m in no way medically qualified, these are just the tips from a mum who’s been through it!

Symptoms:

1. Crying, all of the time

This is one of the most famous symptoms of pregnancy in general – crying, all of the time, at silly little things. BUT there is a point when it’s more than just crappy hormones making you all emotional. With hindsight I know that crying over a hoover breaking before I even knew I was pregnant was definitely just hormones, and I know equally as well that crying myself to sleep every night during my last trimester was not hormones, it was depression. This is one of those where you need to be the judge of what is normal for you! Are the raging emotions and mood swings worse than you think they should be? If so, err on the side of caution and flag it up with your GP – if they’re aware, they can help and provide you with support!

2. Obessively worrying

This is something I’m terrible at anyway, but I can always tell the days when my depression and anxiety hits me worst, because I will obsess over things to the point that I can’t get to sleep. If that’s you, still awake with worry at 4am, consult a GP. Sometimes it is normal to worry about being a mum for the first time, but if it’s constant, every night, and you can’t seem to get the thoughts out of your mind for just one second, that’s where it’s not quite okay and you might need some extra help working through the anxiety.

3. Low self-esteem

Pregnant me suffered a massive, huge, unbelievably enormous hit to the self-esteem. From about the 5th month of pregnancy onwards (when bump was starting to show), I hated my body. I did not see the miracle of life when I looked in the mirror, I saw FAT. And I hated it. I have one picture of me and my bump because of this and I regret it so so much. Again, every pregnant woman feels like a whale at some point, normally when we’re having to waddle at the end of pregnancy, but if you can’t stand to look in the mirror or get to the point where you’re crying over what you see when you do look, it’s probably depression.

4. Feeling isolated

This is a big one, particularly if you do have people around you supporting you, but you still feel alone! Firstly, you’re not, your baby will probably remind you of that by kicking you in a rib at some point. Secondly, we all need alone time but make time for friends. Make time to be with adults where you don’t have to concentrate on baby-related things. It can be difficult transitioning from a person to a parent, because you feel like you’re losing your identity. People no longer ask how you are, they ask how the bump is doing. It’s difficult to feel like you’re just the vessel and everyone only wants what you’re carrying, but it’s not true! Without you, the precious cargo would never have existed in the first place. If you do feel alone, reach out to people around you for support!

5. Sleeping trouble

The most common thing for expectant mothers in the sleeping arena is not getting enough of it! Particulary when the baby is running out of room in that womb, and still just as fidgety! But whether it’s too much sleep or too little sleep, they can both indicate depression and can really exacerbate the other symptoms. You’ll have enough sleep deprivation when baby arrives so try to get your head down when you can, without sleeping all day and becoming overtired. Find your balance, take a power nap when needed, and still make sure you’re getting out of the house every day. This is a bit more to do with self care to prevent making yourself ill, but it’s a valid symptom of depression, too.

What do I do if I think I have antenatal depression?

1. Speak to your midwife
2. Get an appointment with your GP
3. Self-refer to counselling with the NHS – here’s a link where you can find local counselling services!
4. Make your partner/family/friends aware of how you’re feeling so that they can give you some familial support
5. And, finally… take each day as it comes – some will be better than others so don’t let the bad days deter you from

These 5 steps will get you on the road to recovery, and after all, we all have to be well to be the best mummies we can be for our little babies!

Did you find anything else that helped you through antenatal depression? Let us know in the comments! Please share this post to raise awareness with the hashtag #MentalHealthMonday

If you liked this you may enjoy reading…

poem daughter

taking control of my second pregnancy

past demons

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Confession: I didn’t enjoy pregnancy

This is a topic that many mums shy away from, but I’m here to tell you all that it is perfectly okay to say that, for whatever reason, you didn’t enjoy being pregnant.

Whenever I make this controversial admission, I’m always met by the question of “did you have a rough pregnancy, then?”, or, from people who know me and saw me most days of the pregnancy, the concession “yeah but you did have a lot of sickness”.

First of all, my pregnancy really wasn’t that difficult. It was emotionally hard, as I was battling depression and anxiety, a number of personal issues, and leading a highly stressful life with little to no support network. But physically, it was quite an easy pregnancy. I had some morning sickness at odd points throughout the pregnancy, but really not a lot. Possibly the worst complaint I have of my pregnancy was that I had reflux for the entirety of the last trimester, which had me downing Gaviscon by the bottle, but even that isn’t such a severe reason to have hated being pregnant.

Secondly, regardless of whether I did or didn’t face any kinds of problems while I was pregnant, what has that got to do with my personal feelings on being pregnant? Why is it that my dislike of pregnancy has to somehow be justified by my (usually childless) friends’ perceptions of whether or not my pregnancy was a difficult one?

As much as society is making progress towards equality, I believe that the root of this need to justify anything I say about not liking pregnancy is that there is a stigma that this is what women are supposed to do, and that it’s a magical time, the bad parts of which we should take in our stride because of how we are biologically designed to cope with any childbirth related phenomenon.

Um, no.

Amazing as it is that my body grew a tiny (well, actually a rather porky) baby, that doesn’t mean that I can’t have legitimate complaints about the process.

Even worse than this is the response I get to stating that I never want to be pregnant again – for some reason, my age becomes a factor here. Sorry, I don’t care how old I am, but I won’t change my mind on this. Once was enough for me. Don’t get me wrong, I still get broody for babies, but I never plan on being pregnant again. I have plans to adopt/foster in the future and again those plans are met with the question of why? I’m able to have children, but that doesn’t mean I have to have children.

Just in case anyone reading this is thinking how ungrateful I am when there are plenty of women who can’t have a child themselves… I’m not. I appreciate that I probably don’t have a reason to complain when I have a perfectly healthy child, but again, the mere fact of my womanhood and my fertility doesn’t impose an obligation on me to have children or to enjoy pregnancy.

If you’re reading this and wondering why I felt the way I did, well…

1. My sickness wasn’t really sickness, it was a constant and painful process of dry-retching over a toilet until I could breathe enough to swallow water and spew it back up

2. It’s not nice having to bare all to a large number of healthcare professionals – whether it’s the stretch-mark covered belly or your vagina, I didn’t quite get used to having it all out there until I was in labour and quite frankly couldn’t give a crap either way at that point

3. I put on 3st and hated my body. I couldn’t look in the mirror without crying. I didn’t see a pregnant belly, I saw a fat lump of a woman who would never look the same again. That may be vain but sadly enough it was actually the only time I felt any kind of pride in my pre-baby body. It took my pre-baby body to have a baby and be essentially ruined for me to realise that I actually liked myself deep down.

4. As soon as you’re pregnant, other people feel like they can dictate to you what to do. Mainly your midwife. I was a veggie and my midwife did not respect that, and asked me to start eating meat, saying that the baby would be iron deficient if I didn’t. Eating meat changed nothing except to make me put on more weight, and I still had to take iron tablets.

5. In the last few months when the baby is running out of room: at night, if you lie on your back, the baby’s movements look like something out of Alien. You can visibly see their backs turning or their feet protruding and as well as being uncomfortable, it freaked me the hell out.

6. Drawing on the uncomfortable point – I went a week overdue, in a heatwave in May. Enough said.

7. For someone who already had a lot of emotional issues, the heightened emotions of pregnancy made things even harder to cope with. It’s actually pretty shit crying over silly things, or for no reason. And even if you feel like you’re crying for a legitimate reason, other people don’t take you seriously because you’re pregnant, and they blame it on the hormones. Even if it is due to those nasty things, that doesn’t make your feelings any less legitimate. Even if I was crying because the vacuum broke…

8. That god awful reflux – and yes, I did have a hairy baby.

So there you have it. One woman’s reasons for not enjoying pregnancy and for never wanting to do it again.

It doesn’t make me a bad mother, a bad female or a bad person. I am allowed to have an opinion, and my position as a mother and a woman doesn’t negate my opinion or mean that I should grin and bear it. So to any fellow women feeling the same way, don’t be ashamed. It’s not something you have to keep to yourself when asked the oh so annoying question “so when is baby number 2 on the way?” It’s nobody else’s business, anyway.

Mummies Waiting