Thursday, 30 December 2010

another year over...

So here we are, at the end of 2010. If someone had told me at the end of 2009 that this time next year I'd be doing my PhD and be 9 weeks away from motherhood I wouldn't have believed either statement, but here we are. The end of 2010, I'm well into my PhD and I'm 9 weeks away from being a mum. MENTAL.

I hope everyone had a nice christmas. We spent ours at His mums which was lovely. It was nice being with his family and because we've been together such a while now, I felt completely relaxed there, unlike christmas 2 years ago when I just felt awkward and couldn't let go properly. Normally at christmas i just eat, and eat and eat but because I hardly have any room in my belly anymore, and I didn't want to be suffering with too much heartburn, I went with the little and often approach, and actually hardly ate that much at all. Even when we sat down to the amazing dinner Him and his mum had cooked, I exercised quite a lot of self restraint! He did a beautiful starter of prawns in a saffron sauce that was just stunning. I didn't really need anything after that to be honest - and I didn't have any pudding til hours after that, which is very unlike me. Usually I'll eat 2 helpings of pudding and A LOT of cheese, but this year I avoided it completely :)

My favourite presents I got this year were a baby sling from one of my girlfriends which I'm so looking forward to using, a Vivienne Westwood necklace from Him and a beautiful journal from his sister. My dad has decided to buy the pushchair for the baby, once we've chosen the one we'd like, so our present from him was a homemade voucher to let us know that our actual gift is the pushchair :) Now we just need to find the right one! We got a whole load of kitchen things from various people, including a full dinner service from His dad, as we have no matching plates, or wine glasses, a coffee grinder from his mum to match the coffee machine he got for his birthday, and lots of knives which are great for him at work and fab for me at home as the knives we normally have are appauling. We even spent a bit of time sorting cupboards to make space for the new things which is very unlike him. Normally he leaves me to do it then moans that I've put things in stupid places, or moved something of his so it was nice that we did it together.

Bump has most definitely taken on a life of its own now, as you can tell from this picture of me with my mum and sister on christmas eve (I was 30 weeks on xmas day based on March 5th due date). When I look at it, it doesn't seem that big, but I guess its a combination of seeing it everyday and mainly seeing it from above which makes it seem much smaller. I can't see my feet anymore though so it must be getting quite big. My midwife says I'm measuring slightly small for dates, but its nothing to worry about and means the baby might actually take a little bit longer to decide it wants to be born, which is fine with me as I've still got lots to do between now and B-day.

I'm happy with the way my work is progressing, and think I've actually done quite a lot in a relatively short space of time. My supervisors seem really pleased with what I'm producing and they're confident we can get to a suitable point to stop before the baby comes. I'm still feeling motivated to do my work at the moment which is good, although the tiredness that I had in the early stages is starting to creep back in so I'm fitting naps in around my work. It seems to work quite well actually coz I do a bit and then while I'm drifting off I can process what I've done before tackling the next bit after my nap. At the moment I'm working on a review of policy surrounding the discharge and re-admittance of elderly patients while trying to identify key gaps where I can input my knowledge brokering literature. At the same time I'm earmarking bits that will be useful for the paper we want to write on the management of 'dirty work' in the discharge process AND I've written a 2000 word essay for one of my modules, in a record time of 3 1/2 hours which I was very proud of. I emailed it to my supervisor who basically said it was excellent and recommended some slight changes we could make to the research questions I proposed in order to use them for the actual PhD project. So onwards I plod, but I'm actually starting to see the direction it's going now and can visualise what I will need to put in my end of year upgrade document, which I'd like to have at least a first draft written before I go on my 'maternity leave' if you can even call it that. I still need to get that all sorted with the admin people. Grrrr.

He's off to Nice for 5 days on Jan 3rd. I'm a bit worried about him going incase something happens with baby - I'm dreaming regularly about premature labour now so I'm expecting a bit of a self fulfilling prophecy but I'm sure all will be fine. I'm kinda looking forward to a few days on my own really. I've got emergency flight home money put to one side just incase we need it. While he's away I'm going to write my final birth plan and get a hospital bag ready just incase we need it. I'm also going to wash all the clothes and blankets we've got for the baby so they're ready, and he won't get freaked out by it all hanging on the radiators. It'll also give me the opportunity to be a bit of sorting and clearing round the house, taking some stuff to store at mums, and generally making the place a bit more baby friendly. I don't want to leave it much longer as I'm starting to struggle to do certain things, especially standing up for too long, or leaning over things. My hips are getting really uncomfortable, particularly at night, and I imagine once the baby drops and the head engages things are going to get a whole lot worse.

Although its only 9 weeks away, I'm not worried, or scared about what's going to happen. The idea that I'm going to be a mum still seems a bit odd, but more in a 'new aspect of my identity' way than a 'oh god I'm not ready what do I do' kind of way. Going into labour doesn't worry me, nor does the thought of giving birth. I'm not scared or concerned about what it will be like or if it will hurt or something going wrong because I'm completely prepared for every eventuality and I don't see the point of getting worked up over 'what ifs;. It will happen when it happens and it'll go the way it goes, theres nothing I or anyone else can do about it. He has this attitude of 'it is what it is' which sometime irritates me a little bit, but in this case I completely agree with him. Worrying and getting scared won't change anything, all it will do is make me more nervous about going into labour and the actual birth and that'll undo all the careful preparation I've been doing with my relaxation techniques and positive enforcement techniques. I'm actually really looking forward to the experience of labour and the feeling of knowing every surge that passes is bringing me closer to meeting my baby, and what could possibly be scary about that?!

Friday, 17 December 2010

Something amazing

How incredible is this research... says it all about the importance of the mother/baby bond and how the good intentions of medical staff can actually damage that

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

The Birth Plan

This week we went to our Mindful Mamma birthing workshop, which I'd decided to do rather than the usual birth classes everyone goes to. I chose to take this class because I don't really buy into the medical model of childbirth and although I accept that yes, there is a place for medicine in some circumstances, I really don't feel that the process of childbirth should be viewed as a medical process. I firmly believe that birth is a completely natural process, and when a woman is left to her own devices, she can birth her baby without pain, without pain relief and without any medical interventions like sweeps, having waters broken or caesarians.
Research has shown that many animals give birth without pain, and without the need for any medical help, yet we, the most sophisticated and advanced mammals on the planet need doctors and drugs and to scream and shout when we birth our babies - the very thing we were put on the Earth to do.

Not everyone thinks the same as me, I accept that, and I'm certainly not trying to change anyones mind. The course was exactly what I wanted to be, and was taught from the same standpoint as mine. We spent the morning exploring different approaches to birth ranging from the medical model, to the hypnobirthing model which is the complete opposite. Hypnobirthing rejects medicine completely, doesn't allow the use of words such as pain or contraction and doesn't allow any medical intervention, not even the use of a heartrate monitor during labour. Although I agree with a lot of the principles behind hypnobirthing, its a little bit too extreme for me. Mindful birthing acknowledges the need for medical proceedures in some cases but completely advocates the natural birth movement. It holds that with the right knowledge, and the right techniques, women can have an enjoyable birth experience free from pain. If women can understand the process of birth, how the muscles work, and the effect of natural hormones on the body during labour, we can approach birth positively, without fear of pain. Fear causes the body to become tense, preventing the production of oxytocin and natural anaesthetics in the body, so instead it produces stress hormones and tenses up. The flight or fight response to fear causes blood to flow to the extremities and away from the uterus, putting the baby under stress. This increases the likelihood of caesarian. All this tension means that the muscles fight against contractions and the movement of the baby leading to unnecessary pain. So approaching birth with a positive attitude and knowledge of what is happening is more likely to reduce any pain perpetuated by fears. Common sense really, nothing radical.

Other factors are important, such as environment - research has shown that women who give birth at home, in a place where they feel safe, comfortable and in control, are less likely to experience pain, or need any interventions, and are more likely to have shorter labours, enjoyable experiences of birth and have more contented babies. This increases exponentially when combined with a water birth. So after a lot of discussion and a bit of research, we have decided that we are going to have a pain relief free water birth at home!!

A home birth is something I wanted to do from the moment I found out I was pregnant, but He was reluctant to as he thought babies should be born in hospital. Now that he's learned a bit more about it though, he understands the advantages not just for me but for the baby, and for him too, as he won't have to spend hours feeling uncomfortable and perhaps useless at the hospital and instead can be relaxing at home. We've researched birthing pools and we can buy one for £90 with all the kit we need, or hire one for £80 for 5 weeks and it will easily fit in our front room. We'll move the tv out, and put lots of rugs on the floor to keep it warm. Anyone who needs to get in or out of house can come through the back door so I'm not being disturbed all the time and the advantage of being at home is that anyone who wants to be here, can be. If we were at the hospital, I could only have two people with me, but a few people have asked if they can be there, and to be honest, I don't really mind. I'll be so wrapped up in my breathing techniques and should in theory be in an altered state, that I won't be aware of who's there and who's not.

I've got a great cd full of relaxing music and self hypnosis techniques which I'll listen to several times a week so I can practice in preparation for the big day. It important to do it at different times of the day and in different places so I don't become conditioned to doing it at bedtime in bed. If I did that, it would make it much harder to then use the techniques in the middle of the day in a pool in my front room! I'm so excited about the birth now that we're both on board with the same plan and we both want the same things. The midlife says she'll come round here when I'm about 34 weeks so she can assess the house and make sure it's ok for us to have the birth here. As long as theres no complications between now and my due date, then theres no reason why we can't have our birth at home, naturally and just the way I want it :)

Thursday, 9 December 2010

My feelings on birth

This afternoon I decided I would watch some birth videos in order to prepare me for the big day and I'm so glad I did. I've got quite strong views on childbirth and labour - I don't think that medicine has a place in childbirth and that the whole process is completely natural and normal. Women used to give birth in fields without doctors or midwives or pain relief and I honestly think it should still be like that. Yes, women used to die during childbirth, but that was more to do with basic hygiene practices than anything else and it rarely happens in the western world now.

He doesn't share the same views as me - he thinks I'm completely insane for not wanting pain relief and for thinking I can do it without screaming and shouting and begging for an epidural. I'd like to follow the practices of hypnobirthing, which promote the idea that pain comes from fear. They believe women who are well informed and well prepared for labour and who birth their babies as naturally as possible are less likely to need any form of medical intervention, be it pain relief, an epistiotomy or tearing or to need a cesarian. The babies born using this technique are less likely to suffer trauma during the birth and to be calmer and more contented.

The process is based on self-hypnosis techniques and positive visualisation in order to 'breathe' the baby down and completely tune yourself in with your body, your baby and what is essentially a completely natural process that women are biologically designed to do. Doing this allows the body to take over and many women who use the technique find themself pushing without being aware they are doing it. Generally, hypnobirths are shorter, and the active phase of labour (where the cervix is fully dilated and the baby is born) is usually very fast. I've read lots of stories of women spend a few hours in labour and the active phase is a fe minutes - of course this is my first baby so I have to expect the process to take a bit longer, but I'm really ken to learn about the techniques and see if they work.

The videos I was watching today of women using hypnobirthing were just amazing. Theres no screaming, the father is involved too, usually in the birthing pool with mum, holding her and talking to her, or if its not a water birth, he's massaging her and breathing with her. Its a beautiful thing to watch, especially as mum smiles when the baby is crowning, and usually births the baby into her own arms and straight onto her chest. This is one of the best videos I've found - its not gorey I promise, everyone should watch it just to see how beautiful birth can be

I wish I could get him on board with it so he was as supportive as the dad in this video - a lot of my friends don't really understand what it's all about and think the minute I go into labour I'll be screaming and begging for pain relief. I'm determined to prove to Him and to them, and to my mum who doubts it too, that it really is possible to have a completely natural birth. Hopefully once we've been to the classes this weekend he'll understand more about it and he'll be more supportive of it. If not, I guess I'll be doing it on my own.

Monday, 6 December 2010

This sums it all up

I just found the most wonderful quote that sums up the relationship between academics and parenting and I just had to share it....

'Academics is like rearing children - willpower has very little to do with it. If you have a little baby crying int he middle of the night and you depend on willpower to get out of bed and feed it, that baby will starve. You do it out of love. Willpower is a weak idea; love is strong... you go to the baby out of love for that baby, thats the same way you go to your desk... caring passionately about something isn't against nature, and isn't against human nature. Its what we're here to do.'
Annie Dillard, 1987:75-6.

The ups and downs of pregnancy

This week has been really tough for me, I've been feeling very down, and quite moody and I think a bit stressed too. I don't want to say that I'm not enjoying my pregnancy anymore, because thats not true. I love the feeling of being pregnant and knowing theres a little person growing in my belly. Every kick and hiccup and movement I feel gives me this overwhelming feeling of love and pride and excitement at seeing the person that those kicks is going to become - but the not so nice things that come with pregnancy are really starting to get to me.
I've been suffering with the most horrible heartburn for weeks now. It doesn't seem to matter what I eat, when I eat it, how much I eat, if I drink anything at the same time, if I lie down to soon, nothing seems to make it better, or go away. Its constant and annoying especially at night. I've started to sleep almost sitting upright in an attempt to stop it, as its well known that lying down can make it worse, but that doesn't seem to help, and is making sleeping really quite tricky. I don't think I've slept the whole night through for 10-12 weeks now as I'm constantly waking due to pain or discomfort in my chest, to take more medicine, or to get up and walk about in the hope it will settle.
I've also started getting awful pains in my hips and across the back of my pelvis. It seems to be painful in the back of my pelvis during the daytime. and then at night my hips are agonisingly painful, to such an extent that I can't lie on my side without being in pain, which is another reason why I've been trying to sleep upright, as lying flat on your back is not recommended during pregnancy incase the weight of the baby cuts off circulation (I think). I've been doing some reading online and I think it may be symphysis pubis dysfunction
see more here...
All I can say is that it bloody hurts and I really hope it stops pretty soon after the baby is born (along with my heartburn) so I can stop being in pain all the time!!

At least I'm not having to get up a lot to pee at the moment - I can actually go the whole night without going to the bathroom which is nice, its just the hips and the heartburn (and His snoring) keeping me awake. On the plus side though, when the baby comes I'll be used to not sleeping and being shattered all day long!

I have lectures at uni from tuesday to thursday this week and have to give a presentation on my research on wednesday afternoon, which I can safely say I am by no means ready for. I also have to squeeze in supervision on wednesday lunchtime as my supervisor was stranded in Mexico due to the rediculous amount of snow we've had over the last week or so. I don't mind that it's been rescheduled, however had I known sooner, I could have spent a bit more time working on my lit review before I sent it to him - I have got stuff to get on with in the meantime but I would have liked to have added more to that for him to read before our next meeting next week.

I took bump to my sisters work christmas party this weekend - it wasn't really my thing and we felt a bit awkward as everyone she works with is much older than her, but it was nice to get dressed up and have a few hours away from uni and crafting and stress. I did however nearly kill myself in the car park which was covered in snow and ice. The only way from the car to the building entrance was up a steep slope which had no grit or anything on, and was pretty difficult to get up anyway, even for someone who isn't pregnant. Bearing in mind I was in heels, as it was a posh do, and my balance is a bit iffy due to my bump, it was really hard to get up without slipping back down and really injuring myself. In the end, I had to take my shoes off and walk up barefoot in the snow as it was the only way to get up the slope without slipping. It was VERY COLD(!) and not the most enjoyable 5 minutes of my life but I made it in the end. When we left, my sister went to fetch the car and picked me up from the door as there was no way I was getting down the slope alive - I wasn't worried about hurting myself, I was more worries that taking a fall could hurt the baby and keeping him/her safe at all times is my priority now.

We were supposed to go to our hypnobirthing class on saturday but due to the weather and people having difficulty getting there, it's been rearranged to next sunday. It means I have to miss our next craft show which is a shame. but as its on a sunday, its much easier for Him to get the day off work, as this is the busiest time of the year for him in the kitchen at work so saturdays off are out of the question.

We had two craft shows this weekend - we were meant to have one on friday too but decided not to go in the end as we didn't think it was actually right for us and we needed a bit more time to prepare for the two on sunday. Unfortunately, neither were hugely successful - it was a bit weird splitting up, but we still had the opportunity to do some networking and make new contacts which is always important, and we still made a profit so we can't really complain. Fingers crossed the one next weekend is a huge success :) I did think the stall looked really good though, considering I only had half the stock as the rest was at the other show...

We went to have a look at some pushchairs this weekend, and were a little disappointed at the selection offered in John Lewis. We're hopefully going to go to a couple of places with His mum later this week to see if we can find one we like. She has very kindly offered to pay for the cot we would like - I don't know if we're going to get it this week or not, but it would be very exciting if we did. Maybe having it set up in the house would make him realise the time has come for him to have a clear out and to move some things around to make space for the babys stuff - particularly the cupboard under the stairs where I would like to store the pushchair, which is currently full of boxes of his things that came from the old house 6 months ago and haven't been unpacked - in fact I haven't seen the contents of the boxes in the 3+ years we have been together!

Anyways, back to work, this lecture reading isn't going to do itself, and I still have a typology of knowledge brokers to develop....