Wednesday 17th September – Just a normal day at work……….right?

This day began the same as any other. Yes, I was 32 weeks pregnant and still at work but I had made the decision to work through my pregnancy. Partially to keep me sane and active and also because my husband and I couldn’t afford to lose my wage for the next two months before baby’s expected arrival.

I woke up in the morning having had a satisfying, full sleep the previous night. However, shortly after rising I began to suffer from a deep headache. It came on very suddenly. I wondered if because I had been unwell the previous two days and had spent time at home resting and recuperating, that my body was unable to cope with the shock of waking up so early and heading out to work. It was the only explanation I could muster.

Once at work and after eating an unhealthy McDonald’s breakfast, I sat in the staff room being greeted and welcomed back. I felt fine if not a little tired. As I began my working day, supporting a colleague with a class for the morning, I felt eager to get back into my working routine. I sat supporting a group of children I regularly worked with for the first hour of the day. At 10 am and as we prepared to go to morning assembly, I suddenly felt odd.

Strangely and almost worryingly, I felt an urgent need to pass wind! Embarrassed at the thought I might “let one go” in the middle of the classroom, I sat tight in a fit of panic. Within seconds, my insides cramped and I was certain I had lost control of my bladder. I quickly realised that I couldn’t keep whatever was about to come out – inside. I immediately excused myself to the bathroom and hurried down to the staff bathrooms. Along the way, nothing could keep it from flowing out. I had no idea what was happening as I bolted down the stairs. I was convinced I was wetting myself.

Thankfully, no one crossed my path as I finally made it to a toilet. I locked myself in, pulled down my drenched trousers and attempted to use the toilet. Nothing came out. I was confused. Had I emptied my entire bladder on the way there? How mortifying! I stood up. Within moments, water began pouring out of me.

“Are my waters breaking?” The obvious question and answer finally hit my mind. I did the only thing I knew you could do to check if this was the case. Please look away now if you are easily disgusted…….
I smelled my trousers to sense the smell of urine. Of course, that would be the most obvious sign of a bladder problem. If the smell however was odourless, then it was definitely a sign of waters breaking. Mine smelt of the latter. NOTHING.

SHIT.

My waters had broken. At work. In class. WAY too early.

I was only 32 weeks pregnant and seriously panicking.

I waited and held my trousers underneath the dryer so that I would have some dignity when I could eventually leave the bathroom.

I managed to find the same colleague to help me after a half hour. She was surprised but her along with three other women, helped me through the nerves and stress of this sudden revelation. Well wishes and good lucks flew at me as I made my way to my hospital.

There, as my husband and mother met me, I was told baby needed some monitoring over the following days. So I was admitted into hospital. My waters were still coming out thick and fast annoyingly so I had to wear towels to stop the leaking. It was very strange. I was given an essential steroid injection to mature baby’s lungs in case it decided to appear sooner than we wanted. It bloody hurt! I’ve never felt pain like that before but unfortunately, it would not be long before I would.

After a few hours, I was placed in the care of the Antenatal Unit. David, my husband, stayed with me as I nervously waited to be told what was next in store for me.

It would be the start of my little adventure to the day I gave birth to Ivy-Wren.

Advertisements

Sleeping in Pregnancy – What to Expect.

As my pregnancy progresses, my sleeping habits are changing too and I can only predict it’s a sign of things to come.

There is a lot of advice out there when it comes to what is right and wrong. I have looked on several forums too and many expectant mothers advise different ideas. I can only go on what’s recommended by the professionals and what has worked for me.

1. Sleep on your left side only- A difficult task I find for the entire nine months however they do say for the first trimester it’s okay to sleep on your back. It would be my luck that I most prefer to sleep on my right side though (!) Apparently, this isn’t any good as your ever-growing uterus pushes down onto your liver which is harmful for you and the baby. So left side it is! It is by sleeping on this side that baby receives all the nutrients and oxygen it needs through the placenta and if it’s good for baby then it’s good for me.

2. Do expect to visit the toilet through the night – Sadly, this night-time adventure began for me at five weeks pregnant along with my other annoying symptoms. It has strangely become my way of life now! I’m certainly used to it after 21 weeks. Your kidneys are working super hard to accommodate the increased volume of blood that baby needs. This filter process means more trips to the loo. As baby grows, pressure is placed onto your bladder which also results in regular and frequent visits to the bathroom. Some expectant mums find this happens for them more in the day but it can equally occur at night. Last night was my personal record as I was up 7 times!! Shocking. Worst of all, this symptom gets worse during my near approaching third trimester. Joy!

3. Do drink some warm milk or herbal tea before bed – anything really that is soothing and will naturally aid your sleep. I have been having a hot mug of skimmed (non-fat) milk before bed since the start of the pregnancy. I have found it really helps to drift off into a natural sleep. If you aren’t too keen on the taste of milk, add a teaspoon of honey to it just remember to brush your teeth after!

4. The curse of the leg cramp – Sadly cannot be avoided. This symptom only started for me at month five. I have suffered from leg cramps before, usually when overweight or dehydrated. They tend to occur for both those reasons in pregnancy too. By five months your body should have gained some extra weight so naturally leg cramps will happen. Same goes for keeping hydrated. It may not keep them totally away but it certainly helps. Stretching the leg out and pointing the toes to the ceiling helps to relieve the pain.

5. Back, leg and hip pain – Different to the cramps, this pain is more of a throbbing sensation. Almost as if you have pulled a muscle. Simple solutions: For your back and hip, a pregnancy pillow I’ve heard is fantastic. It keeps you lying on your left side and takes away the pressure. For your legs, I just elevate them onto a large cushion or pillow. By the morning the pain has totally disappeared. Try to keep your legs up or raised on a chair every time you sit down too. It really helps.

6. Napping is your friend– Unfortunately, the majority of us are tied to a job for most of the day during our pregnancies so napping at the expected time (3pm- er how??) is a struggle. For the last few months when returning from work I have felt it necessary to take a little nap especially in the heat. Sadly, napping at six in the early evening is no good for falling asleep later on so I began putting off having naps only to feel exhausted the next day. Try to find a moment to get some shut eye. I found that my fifteen minute journey on the tube was a good time to have a power nap. Okay, it was nowhere near enough but it helped. Now that I’m on my five week school break (yes I know!) I can finally integrate naps into my schedule and boy, do they feel good.

Approaching the 6 month mark!

This Monday will mark 6 months of my pregnancy! I cannot believe that I have almost reached this point. The time is literally melting away. On Tuesday, I will finish work for a 5 week break (as I work in a school) and god, do I need it! The weather has been phenomenal these last few weeks and it seems that in London, it may be getting hotter for the foreseeable future. I love the sun and the heat, but being in built up London and travelling to and from work on the London Underground makes it very hard to survive and endure the sweltering temperature. Especially when pregnant. So I am very much looking forward to the option of staying indoors!

Bump: Perhaps slightly bigger especially at the top of my stomach. 

Cravings: Blackberries, blueberries, cherries, bread, butter, fish curry.

Current Health: Healthy! My head cold and cough has disappeared now. Asthma seems to be better too so generally feeling normal again.

Movement: We had a little panic last week as baby’s movement seemed to ease. I asked a friend at work for advice and she recommended asking my midwife who we’ll be seeing next Wednesday. It’s only to put my mind at ease. I have felt the little one I’m sure but having not had a baby before, it’s all still pretty new to me. Not knowing what to expect is a hindrance. The flutters and tingles happen on a regular occurrence.

Size: Baby is the size of a large mango now. 6 months and it’ll be the same size as an ear of corn! 

Symptoms: The beginning of a few stretch marks have appeared on either side of my belly. I’ve been using Bio-oil to help. Tiredness has reappeared and every day after work I’m ready for a long nap. I know you’re not really supposed to nap after three as it can interfere with your nightly routine. However, at 3pm, I’m at work. So no napping then! 

State of Mind: Feeling happy and excited for the holidays. A little annoyed by people who think every pregnancy is the same and feel it is okay to freely patronize me. Yes, yes, I know you’ve had several children and experience many a pregnancy but that doesn’t mean what I am going through bares little significance or is exaggerated. Okay?

 

A new low for self image.

www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-25962930

Just look a this. It’s a sad portrayal of what women in Venezuela have to endure to be accepted and valued. Women, who are beautiful in their own right, are being made to feel worthless by a man. Mmmm, that is not an unfamiliar feeling for me. However, this man should know better but he uses his power to degrade and criticise naturally beautiful women to make them change and alter their looks to the extreme.

This programme (shown last night on the BBC in Britain) tells the story of several Venezuelan women on their quest to be crowned Miss Venezuela. It intensely worries me that women are encouraged to amend their appearance from such an early age. Many of these women are ‘persuaded’ to have breast enlargements, nose jobs, liposuction and even (and more disturbingly) have a ‘mesh’ sewn onto their tongue to stop them from eating solids. It’s ludicrous!

Women everywhere are fighting to be heard, we are fighting to be respected. Our natural beauty should be praised not judged. I suffer from low self-esteem, I have many insecurities about my appearance. I can’t imagine living like that. In a society where my body, my face, my beauty is constantly monitored and criticised. A world where ambition is fading and women are seen to have no real purpose, other than to be “beautiful”.

We were never meant to all look the same. We should be nurturing individuality not distinguishing it.

Say it together.

We are beautiful girls.

.Image

Just as we are.

Ros xx

She can give it but she cannot take it.

I’m not really a fan of those who hand out criticism freely but cannot accept it when it is directed at them. My mother and I have just been in that situation. I am writing this straight after our heated talk. She is currently upstairs having a tantrum (or at least that’s what it sounds like). She is banging doors and generally stomping around. Not really the expected behaviour of a seventy odd year old woman. She is patently angry yet her anger is not justified.

My mother is very critical; of her herself occasionally but mostly of others. She is a fault finder and my husband and I are usually on her list. I am mostly used to it as this is not something new. I do not like the constant fault finding in my husband however. Soon, he will be unable to put a foot right. I know it’s getting him down. He is already afraid of failure and this is hardly helping.

This morning was not targeted at my husband. My mother woke up late with leg pains. For the last few weeks she has been suffering with them and after a day of long walking, her pains worsened over night. I had already been up for a couple of hours before her when she came downstairs. No “Hello” or “Good morning”, only chat about her disrupted night. I made her a tea and continued about my business. As David and I have plans to head into Central London today, I began getting ready at ten. After doing my make up, I headed upstairs to collect my phone and saw my mum sitting on her bead. She looked tired and weary so I went and gave her a hug.

I showed her my eye make up and asked if she liked it. She said that it was nice. As I left the room my mother spoke in a mix of English and Bengali and said,

“Why don’t you wear another pair of trousers? You’ve worn those yesterday. You got so many others that are nicer”.

This may not seem like an odd thing for a mother to say to her daughter but when her daughter suffers from BDD, it is not the most appropriate thing to utter. There was a similar incident yesterday morning where my mother thought it would be okay to criticise my weight and say that I needed to cut out fat in my diet. She was complaining about her own weight before she started to attack mine. I was still in bed as she ranted on. It immediately left me distraught. Every day I am aware of the weight that I have gained these last few months. The portion size at home has not helped as my mother eats very large portions of food. Cooking for her has become difficult as I tend to have to cook much more than I normally would. Temptation is always there and after a long and stressful day at work, it is enticing to have those extra five roast potatoes.

I made David explain to her that I suffered from BDD, that it is an illness and the slightest comment can set it off. She was incredibly understanding yesterday and apologised for her comment. Today was a different story. I had hoped that what my husband told her would resonate in her mind but it was almost like what she heard yesterday never happened. I got upset as soon as she criticised my clothes today. I tried to stay calm but as soon as I feel uncomfortable in what I am wearing I cannot shake the feeling off. I become very aware of what I look like and become defensive. My mother gets defensive all the time but cannot accept it when anyone else does. I tried to explain what she said had hurt me. She proceeded to stand by her comments. To her, it’s trivial. To me, it destroys my confidence. Why does she need to find fault in me? The same thing happened two weeks ago and she ruined my day out. She always does it as I’m about to leave the house.

I went a whole twenty four hours without taking my inhaler yesterday, I was so happy. This morning scuppered any chance of that lasting as after I got upset my mother fully lost her temper and launched into a rage. I ran downstairs struggling to breathe. I sat on the sofa as my husband looked on and covered my ears, quietly reassuring myself as her screams from upstairs echoed above me. When eventually her outburst had finished, I removed my hands – my chest was tight and a rash had appeared on my face. I fought hard to keep the tears back. She is just too stubborn to see past it all. She has turned the whole thing back on herself and is now playing the victim when all I needed was a bit of reassurance. Never in my whole life have I witnessed my mother shout and scream at my sister in the way she does with me. Why does the woman who bans her from seeing her grandchildren get more respect than the daughter that stands by her? Tell me?

Why do I still need to explain and describe to my family about who I actually am? For my entire adult life I have justified having emotions. They will not let me have a day off. To them I am to be happy and positive at all times. I am to be there for them and listen to their needs yet my needs are persistently neglected. I give up. I am too tired of it.

I am still a little tight now.

But writing this has helped.

I should be on the tube right now heading into London.

Instead I feel like shit.

Broken Mirror.

She looks at herself at her tainted reflection

and is taken aback by her bland complexion.

She hates what she sees and longs to change

to look normal and pretty instead of quite strange

they will say she is shallow and seems to be vain

as she rarely reveals when she is in pain

for her hurt is hidden and her anger disguised

her fading self belief rests in her sunken eyes

She finds fault and flaws in her entire face

ridiculing each feature to debase and disgrace

a horror to see what the world can see

in the broken mirror looking back at me.

Broken Mirror

*Photo – dreamstime.com

To help you breathe better……

After last week, I decided to do some investigating of my own to find any natural remedies to aid my Asthma. I already know about the benefits of fresh lemon juice and its links to Asthma. I often drink lemon and ginger tea when unwell and have recently been having fresh lemon squeezed into a glass of water if any wheezing begins. It is not a cure by all means but it certainly helps. Other remedies include a few drops of eucalyptus oil on a tissue to be gently sniffed or drinking a strong black coffee (apparently it helps to open the airways).

I wanted to search for some breathing techniques too. For too long have I solely relied on my inhalers to relieve my Asthma symptoms. However, for my own resilience, I feel it is essential that I develop some more natural strategies to soothe and appease the pain.

A colleague of mine suggested Yoga. She is not the first person to mention it. My friend Katrina is constantly telling me to give it a go. She too suffers from Asthma and her regular love and practise of Yoga has practically sent it packing. I am not adverse to it, I just can’t seem to find enough willpower (or forced interest) in going to a Yoga class. It doesn’t seem “me”. Yes, health comes first before embarrassment but I doubt I’d feel very comfortable. I do not enjoy exercising around other people; an unfortunate side of Body Dysmorphic Disorder. I decided to take a look on YouTube and eventually fell onto a clip to do with the art of  “Pranayama” breathing. A Sanskrit word meaning “extension of breath”. Studies have shown it can be a great way to relieve asthmatic symptoms and reduce stress. I have only practised two forms of Pranayama – Shitali otherwise known as ‘Cooling breath’ where the breathing is done through the mouth with the tongue extended and Bhramari – Also known as ‘Bee Breath’ – where you make a humming sound while breathing. Both are equally effective. I tend to do the exercises at home before sleep and first thing in the morning (granted I have time before work!). I hope that over the following few weeks I can endeavour to attempt the other Pranayama exercises and hope that they also provide the same comfort as the others.

During my time at Drama School, we spent a lot of time before our dance and voice classes warming up. Much of this focussed on the way we breathed. We explored several techniques, drawing inspiration from Pilates, the Alexander Technique and general vocal warm ups. One exercise that I remembered was a technique that involved a partner. As you inhaled, you were to imagine your diaphragm and ribs expanding. You are to focus on only this part of your body moving. You must try to control your chest and prevent it from rising. If it does, you are not doing the exercise correctly. As you inhale, your partner needs to put their hands onto your sides, holding your ribcage. As they feel you breathe in, they must push against your ribs. You need to try to push against their resistance. At first it will be tough. Your ribs may not be used to moving like this but over time, you will start to see them expand more easily. As you exhale, your partner’s hands will maintain the pressure whilst continuing to support your ribs.

Try it. It might work for you. If anything, it’s a good exercise for your waist too!

Other tips include:

  • Counting and breathing – counting is a tried and tested way of calming people down in moments of anger – especially children. It works for a reason. It keeps you focussed on your breathing and distracts you from the feeling of panic or stress.
  • Keeping your head slightly tilted forward- it is tempting, in discomfort, to want to lean back or tip your head backwards. If you do this, you restrict your airways and the flow of oxygen to your lungs decreases. The same applies for the recovery position. You must tilt the head down to prevent choking on the patient’s tongue or vomit.
  • Relaxing – close your eyes, put on some peaceful music.
  • Buteyko Method (Nasal breathing) – making a conscious effort to breath solely from your nose is proven to be a better way of getting oxygen into your lungs. Breathing nasally will filter the air more efficiently through your sinuses unlike breathing through your mouth. It also helps to humidify the air that you inhale.
  • Good posture – keeping upright and not slouching are simple solutions. A good way of spotting an Asthma attack is if the sufferer is leaning forward. This is a natural reaction to the chest closing up and can bring some relief but keeping the chest area open will aid the patient more. Get someone to rub your back gently if needed.
  • Steam – one of my favourite remedies as it involves a hot bath. You don’t even have to get in it. If you feel tight chested, run a hot bath, shut the door and sit down in the bathroom. Lean against a wall so that you do not slouch. Take deep breaths in. You could count to keep a slow pace and inhale the rising steam. I assure you that this is an incredibly soothing remedy.
  • Keeping a control of your emotions- this can be a tough one and slightly ambiguous. This doesn’t mean become a wall of stone, just be aware of how you may be feeling. Extreme stress and upset can fuel Asthma attacks so I am going to state the obvious now – sorry – but do not PANIC! It will only make it worse. Anger won’t help either. Even side-splitting laughter can trigger an Asthma attack. I cannot be tickled as I end up wheezing like crazy. It is strangely difficult to explain that to people.

I hope these tips are useful to any fellow Asthma sufferers out there.

Keep well and look after yourselves.

xxx

*Asthma UK – The United Kingdom’s leading Asthma Charity. Image from Google.