Thursday, 24 April 2014

The Birth Of Elijah ♥

I'm super glad that this is my next post, because its the most exciting news everand I really want to share the special occasion with all my loyal readers! If your a bit squeamish about birth stories you might not wish to read this post, but I'll try my very best to hold back on the descriptive writing! 

As you all know I've been heavily pregnant for weeks now, and I have to say I was more than ready to pop, my impatience was sky high. I'd been attending regular atenatal appointments with my lovely midwives, and at around 37 weeks they had started to notice little things, which didn't seem to worry me at the time. They discovered small traces of protein in my urine through my samples, and my blood pressure was on the high side. As the weeks went by these amounts gradually started to increase, and things became a lot more worrisome for me. My appointments were more regular, and I had to go to the day assessment unit where the check ups are much more thorough. They monitored baby's heartbeat on a machine, took bloods, checked my temperature and blood pressure over and over, and nine times out of ten it came back normal, except for those two things. Sean was worried sick about me bless him, and I remember him being very cuddly with me that day. 

Eventually they booked me in to see the doctor on the atenatal ward who was able to diagnose me with quite a common condition called pre-eclampsia. This came as a bit of a shock really, as I'd had a very healthy pregnancy up until that point. No one really knows why pre-eclampsia develops, but if left untreated it can cause serious damage to you and your unborn baby. The doctor explained to us that I would need to be induced that afternoon at 3:00pm, as giving birth is the only cure and would be the safest, most effective way for both of us. At this point I was 39+1 and I could not believe I could potentially be holding my baby the very next day, it all seemed so surreal. Its funny how you go an entire nine months knowing you've got a baby growing inside of you, and it doesn't really hit you until the very end. I was just so relieved that he'd reached the full-term mark and his lungs had had time to fully develop. 

Coming out of the building I felt very emotional, I will admit I felt like a failure. I'd had no signs of eminent labour for weeks, and knowing I wasn't going to give birth naturally made me feel like less of a woman. However, thinking about meeting my baby for the first time helped a lot, and the excitement crept back in. 

If you know me well, then you know how rubbish my organisation skills are, no way was I prepared for that news! We had exactly 2 hours before I had to be at the hospital, so Sean's mum rushed us home. I clambered to grab all of my things, my brain was just one big blur of emotions: excitement, sadness, happiness, my hormones were all over the shot. On top of that I'd had next to no time to eat because of how long we'd waited for the appointment, so I was drained of all my energy, not good! 

When we arrived at the hospital I was taken straight to the delivery suit, where I was induced with a prostin gel, which helped to thin out my cervix and bring about my contractions. I didn't necessarily find the process painful, but it was by no means the most comfortable feeling in the world (she actually caught me with the plastic, and it hurt!). I spent the next half hour laid on my side, scoffing down fruit pastil sweeties. The rest of the day was really just a waiting game, to see if the gel would work its magic (typically it didn't). One of the worst things about staying in hospital whilst pregnant is that your partners aren't allowed to stay with you on the maternity ward. Sean was sent home at 8:00pm, and I was left to sit and ponder to myself in a room full of other pregnant ladies. There wasn't a single second that passed by that I didn't miss him. It's a shame because its such a special experience for both parents, so I strongly believe the rules should be changed at some point in the future. Plus I'm the biggest baby and I despise being left on my own...ever! (sad I know). 

Throughout the night my baby's heartbeat was constantly monitored on a machine along with my contractions. I loved listening to the pounding, the best way to describe it is like galloping horses. It was also interesting to watch my contractions gradually increase, you know that labour is just around the corner. I actually remembered to pack some entertainment, hallelujah! As well as Sean's iPad to watch television for free (never pay for TV in hospital its an absolute rip off!), I found a book of mixed puzzles was a brilliant investment, which I spent all night working through various crosswords, word searches and a fair bit of suduko (my fave!). It really wasn't as bad as I'd pictured. 

At about 4 in the morning I woke up and was starting to feel some achy pains in my pelvis, a bit like mild period pain. Trips to the toilet were annoyingly frequent, its unbelievable the amount of liquid your body can hold! (Take lots of sanitary pads because the fluid only increases!). One of the midwives came to put me back on the monitor at around 7am, and by 8am they informed me that they were not happy with the babies activity from the readings they'd collected. Obviously, this scared me even more than I already was, and they took me straight down to the delivery suite for further monitoring, where the doctor decided on the best course of action. Around about now I lost track of time, but can you blame me really? Its true that you start to lose your brain after you've had a baby! I literally sat there and just watched the time tick ticking away. An hour later my midwife came in to break my waters, which didn't feel quite as horrid as the gel, thank god! Though a large plastic stick can look rather terrifying initially. Before going into labour lots of family members had told me about loss of dignity, but I'd never anticipated just how true it is. Lying starkers on a bed is not my idea of fun, but you tend to forget all the bad things in labour and the world around you becomes a blur. 

They gave me two hours to kick into labour, but that didn't go to plan either, so the next step was a syntocinon drip, which is basically a synthetic hormone used to force contractions. I hated having the canular tube inserted into my hand, it became really uncomfortable to bend my wrist, so I just let it flop over the side of the bed. Little did I know that was the least of my worries, once that drip started working, was when established labour REALLY started. Now I'm not going to sit here and tell you that it didn't hurt, because quite frankly I would be lying through my teeth. I don't mean to scare anybody but the pain was excruciating, which is thanks to the drip making my contractions much stronger. Unfortunately for me I was also no longer allowed in the water, which really upset me because I probably would have really enjoyed having a water birth (maybe next time eh Sean). So at this stage everything had gone to pot, birth plans thrown out the window. If I learned one thing from giving birth its that you can't perfectly plan out your labour, mother nature has a way of doing the exact opposite of what you want her to do (I think she does it on purpose!). As if things weren't bad enough the drip dosage was upped every half hour, so every half hour it became that little bit more painful. Sean put Jeremy Kyle on his iPad for me, but honestly I don't remember any of it, that's how out of I was (I never get bored of Jeremy Kyle). Getting up for the toilet is the worst, especially when the drip has to follow you everywhere! I was sat on the toilet seat for quite some time before I found the strength to get back up again. Sean must of thought I'd dropped dead in there. Drinking while in labour was pointless, because I only threw it all back up again, and I adore Ribena. I felt so sorry for Sean having to catch it all in a paper bowl, he hates sick so bad! 

I asked for some gas and air to take the edge of the contractions, which I had to stay on from then onwards. I did see the funny side for a whole 2 seconds, and then I was back to whinging in pain, tossing and turning on the bed (my feeble attempt at getting comfortable). Having the tube to suck on and holding your partners hand really does help, so I would always recommend them. Being the baby that I am this wasn't enough for me, I had to have the epidural or die. My midwife Katie rang for the anaesthetist, but he didn't arrive until another hour had passed. I felt unbelievably tired and drained of any energy I'd had stored away for this day. It became really unbearable. The guy who does the epidural was Australian, which for some reason I found absolutely hilarious. He tried explaining something to me, but I completely ignored him, my only thoughts were "get the hell on with it". I think it must have been the third attempt I felt the shock down one side of my back. Me being the lucky person that I am, I was already set to start pushing before the epidural had even had a chance to work its magic. I could not believe it, after everything I'd always imagined the epidural would be my saviour, clearly it wasn't to be. The end was the hardest part by far. It's extremely difficult not to push through your mouth, and push through your bum instead. Katie told me of for it a few times haha. The head was atrocious, I'm not even going to go there! But once its out you get this huge sense of relief, its not fully over, but the hard part is done and gone. After everything you go through, delivering the shoulders and body is a piece of cake and the placenta is a breeze (and strangely quite relaxing). 

As much as he didn't want to, Sean did end up cutting the cord. I did a teensy weensy bit of bribing after that fiasco. On a more serious note though, seeing your baby for the first time is the most amazing thing a women could ever experience (well for me it was anyway, I know not all women feel that way). I'd worked so hard for that moment, suddenly I saw why all of those past events were worth the effort. There's this little tiny person just sat there staring at you taking the world in. They are so delicate, innocent and vulnerable, they are completely dependable on you, they really give your life meaning. I loved him instantly and so did Sean. The little lad didn't cry much when he came out, they had to rub him with a towel to get him started, but even then he stopped after a few seconds. He's quite a placid and curious little boy, which is lovely. Would you believe he had a full head of dark hair?! The nice thing is that you can see bits of both of us in him. He's got daddies cute button nose, my sticky out chin (poor him) and daddies beautiful blue eyes (for the time being anyway). Daddy held him while the lady washed me down (since I'd had an epidural and couldn't move one leg, typical that it kicked in after labour finished). I'd lost a fair bit of blood, but was just glad I'd avoided a Caesarian (I hold my hat out to any woman who's had one). They weighed baby and he was a hefty 8 pounder! *shocked face* Baby then had his vitamin K injection, while I had my anti-D and then it was time for bed. Me and baby were wheeled upstairs on a bed to the ward, and then Sean was sent home again *sad face*. 

Having pre-eclampsia meant that I had to stay in hospital for a little longer than usual, as its classed as a 'high risk' case. The first night on my own with him I was terrified. I hadn't got a clue. You do have access to a button to call the midwife, but it doesn't make it any less scary when your babies screaming for food, and you've never fed a baby in your entire life! I'd chosen to breast feed, because I genuinely believe its best for babies, but the midwives do tend to push it on you. I found they all had varying opinions, and that some were pushier than others. The trick is just to be adamant, its your baby after all, and they can't force you into anything, only advise otherwise. Breast feeding is incredibly hard, I've actually given it up now, and have switched to formula (Aptamil). The second night my baby was dry mouthed and desperate for food as the midwife had discovered, as they'd been making me express into a syringe, which clearly wasn't enough for him. He was a very hungry 8 pound baby after all! So that worried me. Most of the time I got the midwives to help me with things like nappies and changing clothes, but obviously now I'm a full blown expert (what a big fat lie that is haha!). For three days straight it was just a constant cycle, eat, sleep and poop. They don't do much at all, but I don't mind, they're nice to look at. Sean came for visits at 10am, and stayed all day until 8pm, he's such an amazing daddy. I enjoyed going down for lunch each afternoon with baby, Sean and the other mums. We even made a few friends whilst we were there. I was so desperate to go home and rest, and at long last the doctors discharged me and I was homeward bound. 

His family adore him! He's got so many uncles and aunties, grandparents and great-grandparents who have spoilt him rotten. He's already richer than me and Sean, and he's only two weeks old! Me and Sean have received so many lovely gifts and cards to congratulate us on the birth, which we really appreciate, and I'd just like to take this opportunity to say thank you to every single one of you who have shown an interest. It's so nice to have the amount of support that we have. Me and Sean will definitely make the most of parenthood. I can't imagine a life without either of my boys, they both just make me so happy words can't express. I love them soooo much :')

I apologise for the lack of content on this blog, this post has taken me well over a week to write, as its been difficult to find the time since giving birth. I hope you can all understand that. I also apologise for this post being so ridiculously long! Labour felt a lot longer and its very difficult to sum it up all in one post, so I promise I tried my best. Thank you for everyone who took the time to read it. 

Until next time x

Elijah William Carreras
8 pounds 4 1/2

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Being Bigger & Having Confidence

I was quite a chubby child. My nan called it 'puppy fat', which made me laugh. 

 This is a post I've been meaning to write for a while, but have never really had the time to put the effort in. Honesty is definitely the best policy when it comes to blogging, and there are some things that I now feel comfortable enough to write about and share with you guys, that I wouldn't have dared to delve into a few years ago. Well today I felt like being a tad inspirational and I'm hoping this post may appeal to some of you who have maybe been in a similar situation, whether your going through it now yourself, or have felt the same in the past, maybe your trying to help out a friend. I just hope it helps somebody

 I have never been a super skinny size 6 naturally, right from day one that was obvious. I have always been on the chubbier side, and its not always been because I've stuffed myself silly with endless amounts of cake and chocolate. I'm a strong believer in the fact that everyone is unique in size and we all have different bodily structures. Still to this day (after losing 3 1/2 stone) there are parts of my body I'm unhappy with, but the fat just refuses to budge no matter how hard I try. I put that down to the way I was made. My legs in particular are my monsters. Even being a size 8 on top never changed the fact I was a size 10 on the bottom, they call it 'pear shaped'. I call it 'being myself'. 

 I was continuously bullied for my weight all throughout my primary school years as well as secondary, and phycologically that was incredibly damaging. People don't stop to think about the lasting effect it can have on a person, and for the longest time I was very unhappy in myself. They would call me names such as 'fatty' or 'piggy', until I felt like an outcast. When I was bigger I would constantly be comparing myself to the other girls in my class, all the time thinking "why can't I look like that?" or "what does she have that I don't?". These are questions we can't really answer as no two people are the same (not even twins!), and we don't know why. That's just the way the world works. The saddest thing is I don't think its something you can simply forget. No, it doesn't effect me anymore and I'm now a happy and healthy human being, but a memory is a memory, no matter how nasty it may be.

 I think its important to remember there will always be horrible people out there who seek to make others miserable. The majority of the time these people have insecurities of their own, and picking on the faults of others makes them feel better about their day. In reality they are just as emotionally damaged as the victim. So don't worry about a thing (as Bob Marley so rightly puts it). By all means though, you should certainly never ignore bullying. If your being bullied the best thing you can do is seek help from someone you trust. Ignoring the situation can often make you feel worse about yourself, and suddenly you get this underlying sense of isolation. I've made the same mistake all too often. 

Here is me after my 3 1/2 stone weight loss with Slimming World. I felt great at the time, but I'd been skipping meals at this point, which made me feel ashamed inside. 

 Unfortunately for me, it got to the point where I stopped eating as much. I joined my local 'slimming world' (who are great by the way) but I took the diet far too seriously. I was losing pounds and pounds per week, but only by eating the tiniest bowl of cereal in the morning and a small plate of dinner in the evening. I'd go all day without drinking or eating anything. I was exhausted and physically drained. Its true that it works, but it didn't feel right. The thought of being skinny gets wedged inside your head, your losing weight, but nothing is ever good enough. The next pound is never the last. Luckily for me I had an amazing circle of friends who were quick to notice I had problems, and I got help before things got too out of control, but it could have been so much worse. I was made to talk to a councillor every week, I had to be weighed to make sure I was eating substantial amounts of food.  It really wasn't very nice. 

Here I am on my 16th. The dark circles say it all. I was both mentally and physically drained and at this point my family were starting to worry about my health. 

 It really effected my physical appearance, as you can tell from the photo above (taken on my 16th birthday) I look quite sick in the face, my skin is dull and I had huge dark circles under my eyes from being so drained of energy. It just goes to show that actually, even after losing all of the weight, I was still no better of. It doesn't magically make you any happier than before. 

 Being bigger should never interfere with our happiness and the amount of pleasure we get from life, its totally okay to feel comfortable in your own skin. I do think the media are a big part of the problem, they need to start portraying; not just women; but all human beings in a more honest light.  What we perceive to be perfect today is unrealistic. What is perfection? I've always thought it was something we all aim to achieve, but is never really within our grasp. I was watching This Morning the other day and a lady was saying how much she disliked the word 'normal'. After all, who are we to say what is 'normal'? Its not something that can be defined when you think of how vast the universe is, and all the potentially unusual things that come along with it. So I agree with her there. 

 I also think a big part of the problem is ourselves. If we just allowed ourselves to be loved the way we are, we'd all live a much happier and more full-filled life. Confidence can not be given to a person. Friends and family can help a tremendous amount, but ultimately its a journey you have to embark upon to be able to experience true confidence, and when you find it, its pure bliss! 

Here is a much more pleasant photograph of me and my mum in Stratford on mothers day this year. I am a lot fuller from the effects of pregnancy, but I'm also very excited to know that motherhood is just around the corner! 

 I've come to realise that life is far too short to be worrying about what others are thinking. Becoming pregnant has made the world around me so much more precious than it ever was before. It has presented me with so many new and exciting opportunities, and I can't wait to dedicate my life to being the best mother I can possibly be. I've surrounded myself with loved ones who I'm extremely lucky to have. They are the people who are most important to me, and the people who have cared for me, supported me through dark times, and ultimately the people who I've found happiness with (even with all the dreaded family drama!). Life is so much bigger than some numbers on a set of scales, so we should cherish everyday as if its our last, because the reality is there might not be a tomorrow. I'm now a hefty 11st 9 (way above what my BMI says I should be), obviously thats down to pregnancy but its still enough to shove a foot through your self-esteem. Surprisingly I am dealing with it far better than I thought I would, which proves to me I've changed. Its true I do still worry and dwell from time to time, which I put down to habit, but I am certainly well on my way to being the perfectly imperfect person I've always dreamed of being. 

 I should probably point out that if you do want to loose weight thats great too! It can work wonders for your self-esteem and help you to find confidence in the way you look, as long as its done safely and your doing it for the right reasons. I began dieting for all the wrong ones, simply because it was what other people 'expected'. Once I got it right though, it felt good to be able to fit in pretty dresses, and super skinny jeans. Its a very empowering feeling when you finally achieve a goal you've set for yourself. 

 Thank you for reading! I hope that this has helped someone and if you are experiencing feelings similar to anything I've mentioned for whatever reason, remember you are not alone, there is always somebody else in the world who can relate. I used to think that life was pointless, and that it wasn't worth living. I can only tell you just how wrong I was to think that, life really does get better with time. Find things you enjoy doing. For example I find great pleasure in painting, experimenting with make-up, reading a good book and writing stories. As long as it makes you happy thats the important thing. Blogging has really helped me a lot to express my emotions and talk openly about things, so I'm glad I found that to. Take note that anyone's life can change, you just have to be willing to take the first step. 

 I'm now officially 39 weeks and still no sign of labour. The little bugger is refusing to come out it seems. I'd like to write more about my pregnancy, what sought of things would you lot be interested in? Please drop a hint in the comments! If there's any experiences you'd like to talk about in regards to this post, please don't hesitate to talk about that to, as long as you feel comfortable enough to do so. :)