Group B Strep – Aware.

30-50% of women carry strep b at any given time. Generally it’s harmless to the women who carry it. Yet, it can be fatal for the babies that they carry.

Strep B.
Strep B was knowing Mummies who had needlessly lost their babies.
The stories lead to worry.
Worry became research.
Research became awareness.
Awareness became knowledge.
30-50% of women carry strep b at any given time.
Generally it’s harmless to the women who carry it.
Yet, it can be fatal for the babies that they carry.
Knowledge had to become taking action.
Strep B was asking my midwife if I could be tested.
Just to be told that it’s very rare and it’s highly unlikely.
Strep B was taking matters into my own hands.
I ordered my own testing kit through the list of GBSS approved ECM tests. 
I waited.
I waited until I was 35 weeks pregnant to do my test.
35 weeks came. I did the swabs.
Sealed, Labelled.
I wrote a cheque for £37.
£37 to potentially save my babies life.
£37 well spent, regardless of the result.
It was all put in an envelope and posted.
I knew that the results would take up to two weeks.
I waited.
Two weeks had passed but no results had arrived.
I sent them an email.
They replied straight away and were very apologetic.
This email had an attachment.
I opened the attachment.
The seconds that it took to open and load felt like years.
*POSITIVE* *POSITIVE* blared at me like red lights.
Is it my fault?
What had I done?
I cried and I cried.
My excitement to meet our baby turned to fear.
It was midday, but I fell asleep in tears.
I told my partner and I told my parents.
I reminded myself that it wasn’t my fault.
Strep B isn’t sexually transmitted. It is naturally incubated.
There was no way I could have known.
Fear had to turn into action.
Action…
Action, was raising awareness to my pregnant friends and acquaintances.
Action, was passing on the results of the test onto my midwife.
Action, was including my strep b positive diagnosis in my birthing plan.
The community midwife stuck a small “STREP B” sticker on my pregnancy notes.
This was to supposedly alert the team that were to help me through labour.
A sticker wasn’t certain enough, but my voice was.
I couldn’t count how many times, I had to get medical professionals to clarify that they would take this seriously.
Would they have enough of the antibiotics on the ward?
Would I get access to them?
Would I get at least 2 rounds of antibiotics?
Will I get the antibiotics at least 2 hours before she is born?
Would she get checks after she was born to insure that complications had been completely avoided?
What if I couldn’t get to hospital quickly enough after my waters broke?
The 31st of January came.
I was unwell.
I went to maternity day care and was diagnosed with preeclampsia.
I was to be induced.
Starting that night.
I was relived!
I would be in hospital until she was born.
I could be sure that everything will be ready for her arrival.
I had many conversations with midwives about strep b.
Where did you get tested?
I tested myself at home with testing kit.
How did you get tested?
I tested myself after I paid for a test.
How did you know about strep b?
I have had family friends affected by it.
How muc
h did you pay to get tested?
£37
A couple of days passed.
My waters broke.
Fear kicked in.
I was moved from an induction room to a labour room.
A drip was started to protect my baby from strep b.
But my black and blue hand wouldn’t take the drip.
I became very worried and begged them to swap to another cannulation site.
They did.
I was finally getting what I needed to protect my baby.
One round.
Two round.
Over 5 hours.
She made her entrance.
It started to go wrong for me, because of a tear.
Yet- She was okay.
I didn’t know it yet.
But my baby was safe.
My Mother made sure that she was getting her after birth strep b checks.
They were made every 4 hours.
She was fine.
My baby was going to be okay.
I came round.
Went from theatre, to recovery to being back on the labour ward.
She was having another lot of checks.
Temperature.
Stethoscope to the chest.
Movement.
Breathing.
Our baby was okay.
She was healthy.
But it all could have been so different.
I was feeling cold.
Then hot.
Then freezing.
My temperature was taken.
Then my pulse.
Blood was taken.
Blood was tested.
My tear had became infected by strep b.
I was diagnosed with sepsis.
I was left fighting for my life for the second time in 24 hours.
I was administered antibiotics.
Strep b had given me sepsis.
It took over a week to recover- Despite me being well equipped.
But if it was my baby who had become unwell.
It could have been so different.
I don’t want to think about it.
I can’t think about it.
I will not shut up about strep b until it is properly addressed.
Until every mummy to be, knows of the danger.
Of the risks.
I will not stop, until strep b is no longer an issue.
It doesn’t need to be an issue.
Every woman pregnant should be screened for strep b.

The New Baby Bubble

I remember coming home from the hospital and seeing my family’s faces light up when they finally got to meet their granddaughter and niece. I remember thinking that nothing could ever ruin this perfect little moment.

The ‘New Baby Bubble’ is amazing… You feel like you’ve been blessed with such a supportive family, a content baby and the perfect daddy to your bundle of joy. I remember coming home from the hospital and seeing my family’s faces light up when they finally got to meet their granddaughter and niece. I remember thinking that nothing could ever ruin this perfect little moment. Then my daughter did, and I’m not lying to you, she did the biggest poo I’ve ever experienced. But it was okay, because Daddy was there. Grabbing a nappy, a new change of clothes and telling me to sit down and take it easy. It was fantastic. I lived at my parent’s house at the time, so even they would take over and help with ‘Wiggles’.

Life in this bubble was perfect and I never wanted to leave it.

I would spend hours just staring at my perfect, content, sleeping daughter just thinking about how this wasn’t bad at all. What were other parents going on about? But that changed so bloody quickly!
Because I’d had a C-section, everyone was very wary of me doing anything. If I got up for anything, I would have everyone screaming at me to sit down and that they’ll get it. Now, for those of you who have never had a child… this gets very annoying very quickly. I was allowed to do two things without getting into trouble. Breastfeed and pee. Which is basically all my daughter would let me do anyway!

Towards the end of week two, the ‘bubble’ was starting to go. The excitement of a new baby had worn off for my family and friends, Daddy was due to go back to work in a couple of days and I had only just realised that I had no idea what the hell I was doing. And then it happened. The ‘bubble’ burst and left me with a very different situation. Daddy was back at work, I was allowed to do things again and everything was down to me.

Shit.

As new mothers, this is where the stress kicks in. We find ourselves frantically searching through MumsNet at 1am to check every little thing. But why are we so afraid of leaving the ‘bubble’ and entering the real world of motherhood?

Midwives and health visitors tell you everything you need to know about being pregnant, how to breastfeed etc. You’ve probably researched what to expect when you’re expecting, watched multiple episodes of One Born Every Minute. Heck, you probably had an app that told you which vegetable your baby was the same size as each week (thankyou BabyCentre). But what you didn’t find out was what happens next. After the excitement has died down, when your midwife signs you off and you’re expected to just know what to do.

And the truth is, nobody knows what they’re doing. They are simply winging it. No two babies are the same, so although other mums may have ‘advice’ on how to calm your baby or how to get them to latch properly, at the end of the day it’s all about doing what works for you. Creating your own routine so that you can create a new ‘bubble’ for you and your little family to live happily every after in… until the next obstacle at least.

No More "Do this, do that" – Let Me Raise My Baby

with all the things I prepared for when I was pregnant I didn’t even think to prepare myself for the endless stream of well meant advice that I was going to listen to, nod along with maybe even consider but mostly just ignore.

It turns out that becoming a parent is a confusing minefield where, at every single step, the whole world wants to give you their two pennies worth and frankly, they are very often wrong, outdated, or occasionally just plain dangerous.
From the day my son was born I had midwives lecturing me about only using one breast per feed and your baby MUST sleep on his back and my mum telling me it was nonsense – “20 minutes on each boob and sleep him on his side” she’d say with the voice of experience. I had people telling me “it’s cluster feeding but it gets better” and people whispering in my ear that it never gets easier. Mums on the internet telling me that he’s overtired and it’s probably my fault and well-meaning parents and in-laws telling me not to give in to his crying because I will make a rod for my own back (I always ignored this one – I’m a cuddler). Even old ladies in the supermarket stop me and tell me how to get him to stop crying, wrong again – he’s actually a bit hungry, I know how to make him stop crying but I’m in the supermarket, leave me alone so I can get this frozen stuff home and feed my child.
No wonder my head was spinning – with all the things I prepared for when I was pregnant I didn’t even think to prepare myself for the endless stream of well meant advice that I was going to listen to, nod along with maybe even consider but mostly just ignore.
The thing is, he’s my baby and he is different from every other baby in the world and I am different from every other parent in the world. That is not to say that there aren’t some very close similarities between him and other babies or between me and other mothers but lets face it, no one is going to have all the answers, you need to work them out for yourselves with a lot of trial and error (read: blood, sweat and tears).
Together we have been muddling through and finding out what works for us – and as luck would have it, every time I think we’ve got it sussed he’ll have a growth spurt or catch a cold. Here we go again, be back to square one, stumbling blindly through it all and accepting advice from all directions before cherry picking the bits that seem to hold the most credit and trying them. 
Of course if there is ever well documented medical advice or safety advice from experts in their field then there is no such thing as ‘mother knows best’. If that kind of information is presented to you and you have been doing the opposite then that is the time you need to swallow your pride and take the advice but please don’t ever get upset if someone points out something that could be safer; they aren’t usually doing it to shame you, they just want what is best for you and your child. 
All that said, I have had some helpful tips and reassurance from all sorts of places – it’s not  all unwelcome advice, but it can be very overwhelming.
I wouldn’t want people to not listen to the people around them that have experience or professional qualifications but I will say this, your baby does not have an instruction manual and you will get to know what works for them and you. If something works and it goes against the advice of your great Aunty Betty because that worked 40 years ago with her babies it doesn’t make you a bad parent – you are doing everything you can for your baby. 

 

No Second Thoughts

Concentration is a thing of the past. Long gone are the days I could recall information. I’m pretty sure that when people have conversations with me that my eyes are glazed over and I just smile and nod in agreement.

What are our plans for tomorrow?
What food do I need to prepare for tomorrow?
What clothes are ready for tomorrow?
Am I prepared for potential night feeds?
And breathe… I can sit down to relax.
Oh! I forgot I need to eat!!
Sound familiar? The life of a mum, (or dad).
I don’t know about you but I just cannot think straight. My head is like cotton wool all of the time. People did warn me about baby brain but I think I underestimated it. I’m not even sure there is much of a brain in there… it’s most definitely shrivelled a bit. Concentration is a thing of the past. Long gone are the days I could recall information. I’m pretty sure that when people have conversations with me that my eyes are glazed over and I just smile and nod in agreement. At work I ask questions constantly because I can’t remember what the new systems are. I don’t know how long I can get away with “Oh it’s just that I’ve been on maternity leave and I’m trying to get settled back in.”

The thing is I really want to be able to sit and chat about things the way I did but all I can think about is my daughter. I have a one track mind now. I worry that I seem uninterested in other people and that I’m not a good listener anymore. It’s not that I don’t want to know what other people are up to, or that I don’t care, it’s more that I can’t stop thinking about my day ahead, my daughter’s day ahead. I’ll admit I’m not the most organised of people and this is probably why I am trying to plan things constantly because I’ve only made myself stressed out when I’ve not thought things through very well in the past. It’s as though the part of my brain that is still functioning is trying so hard to get on top of things that there’s no room in my head to think about anything or anyone else. When I try to enter into a discussion I end up talking about myself and my family because that’s all I know about at the moment. I feel that I’ve become selfish. I’m so eager to have adult conversations with people but I have no idea what to talk about. Love Island anyone? I watched about 3 episodes but I know people at work loved it so it’s a possible topic… maybe? How about The Twirlywoos, now that’s a TV show I can talk to you about. I know you know all the theme songs too!

I don’t know about you but I worry about how people may be perceiving me right now. I am still Charlie though. I may not currently have the interest in, or more importantly the time to do the things I once did and I may have disappeared into the background a bit but I will find myself again! When you talk to me I hope you still find me interesting, just bear with me, I’m just getting used to my new role; I’m finding my feet. I’m juggling. I don’t have the hobbies and interests that I once had that maybe made me a bit more interesting to talk to. My conversations are about my daughter, this is my new life. My role at the moment is “Mumma.” I am the entertainer, the cleaner, the chef, the comforter, the launderer, the driver… Is it any surprise that I can’t concentrate? That I’m constantly tired? All those parents out there balancing their different roles with ease, or at least showing it, I’m envious!

I’m still learning, perhaps it gets easier. Time will tell, but for now I’m planning for tomorrow… oh and cooking my dinner!
This blog is my journey to find my new self. I hope it can help you too if you feel a bit lost. Maybe we can explore some new adventures together.

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