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.

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Child Exposure.

What is neglect? Can exposing children to video games and T.V shows after the watershed be described as abuse? A discussion at work today has left me thinking. Of course it can.

Grand Theft Auto 5 is a prime example. I have heard children talk incessantly about this game. Not only is it not age-appropriate but it is alarmingly explicit and violent too. It is notorious for it’s high levels of violence, sex and language. It is clearly NOT for children. Yet, children are exposed to games like this daily in the UK and around the world.

Coming from a background in where a man (my father) hated, ridiculed and abused women, it is so disturbing to see that this game shows all women that feature in it in an incredibly derogatory light. Women are seen as prostitutes, strippers, moaning wives, dumb girlfriends. Women are not seen as powerful figures. What kind of a message is been sent out to boys and young men? Rape culture is sadly growing. Surely, treated women as animals and seeing them as below men is not helping that matter.

Children are unfortunately exposed to all sorts. Ranging from violent video games to late night TV shows to even porn. How can a child understand anything like that. This is pure neglect and abhorrent abuse.

We are supposed to be protecting children. They are our future. Why is the world just setting them up to fail? Give these kids back their innocence.

Sometimes we’re so concerned about giving our children what we never had growing up, we neglect to give them what we did have growing up.

Self-help hater.

I confess it. I am a self-help hater. I have never been a fan of being given “advice” on how to be a better me. I prefer to analyse myself and be the one who gives the guidance. It stems from my father’s love of self-help books (a point I have blogged about previously). He needed instruction on how to live his life, without these books’ direction, he would not have been able to make decisions or create values. They were fundamental to who he was and detrimental to the power he possessed. It was a source of control. He used the messages in these books to dictate and order me around, to degrade my life choices and look down his nose at me. He would see it as “knowledge”. I can’t tell you how many clichés he threw at me. His favourite was “knowledge is power”. I read. Just not enough and I certainly did not read the books he was recommending. I did not want to “improve” myself. As a young adult, I was only discovering who I was. He hated that and attempted to crush and contain any self-exploration that I tried to seek.

It’s not that I am unwilling to look deeper into the depths of my character; I am. I just want to do it on my terms. I have sought out help before but through a legitimate path by seeing a counsellor. She gave me questions and ideas to think about so that I could journey through the past and present consciously to improve and develop my future.

Self-help books and ideas aid many people. I can understand that. However, I choose not to follow my life by what someone else is telling me to do.

Today, I was subjected to a little self-help. In a discussion, comments were made about regret. Someone noted a quote that spoke of how we tend to regret the things we haven’t done and not the things we have. True. Sometimes. This is a very general and broad statement. One that many people seemed to agree with. I can’t.

I don’t totally disagree of course, but life isn’t that black and white. Some of my biggest regrets in life are the big choices I have made. The biggest regret being my foolish decision to live with my father aged sixteen. The choice that upturned and capsized my life. The choice that handed my abusive parent the reins to control and mentally torture me. I regret staying with him for so long. Twelve years! I regret not fighting sooner and accepting my pathetic life. I regret so much that I chose to do.

I am not a risk taker.

I can’t imagine doing some of the things I long to do. I believe in responsibilities. I am not frivolous. Perhaps that is a bad thing. Perhaps I should be more spontaneous. Except I hate surprises. In twenty years time, I am certain I will have regrets. Not huge, life-changing ones but ones where I should have taken that holiday to the Caribbean or treated myself to that expensive bag I had been lusting after. I do not mind those regrets, they are the regrets that keep us human.

Life cannot be so straightforward nor can it be peaceful and effortless at all times. I am not saying I want a depressing and bumpy journey! I just understand that shit happens and we need to be ready to face it when it comes our way.

I have many regrets, and I’m sure everyone does. The stupid things you do, you regret… if you have any sense, and if you don’t regret them, maybe you’re stupid.
Katharine Hepburn

Too right! How anyone can say they do not regret a choice they have made is beyond me. How an earth can you ever repent, learn or forgive?

Physical abuse – a new insight.

I have always said that my father did not physically abuse me. However, after delving further into the term “physical abuse” and all that it stands for, I am shocked to see that my claim is not true. He was physically abusive. I just don’t have any visible scars. In my quest to research the different aspects and consequences of abuse, I have fallen on new information. I have always believed that physical abuse was to be violent. The person on the receiving end would have scars and visuals to prove their abuse.

Research has led me to realise that there are many other appearances of this kind of abuse. My abuser was extremely threatening. If he did not get his way or I was disobedient, his threatening behaviour would follow. His deep, bellowing voice would resonate through the house or in public and the way in which he ordered me closer and breathed down my neck, talking at me through gritted teeth, all added to his aggressive demeanour. His physical stance and how he towered over me, making sure he had all the power as I cowered into the shadows. The way he would lure me into believing I was safe, even making a joke or choosing a lighter topic of conversation first before launching into his fit of rage and sudden burst of apocalyptic anger. The constant threats of harm against me that he made, telling me that I needed a punch – that it would “sort” me out or to go and kill myself to make his life easier. I never thought of it as physical abuse at the time but telling your own child to commit suicide must be classed as that. Oh and it’s abhorrent too.

His reckless driving and aggressive behaviour in the car all adds up to physical abuse. He put my life at risk every day I spent in that car with him. Every day I anticipated his anger and waited for another explosion. He deliberately chose the car as a place to shout and rant at me as I (in his words) had “no escape”. I wanted to release my seatbelt and fling myself out onto the open road many a time. The thought seemed better than enduring his continuous barrage of contempt.

A key part of physical abuse that I never recognised was how my abuser prevented me from seeking medical help or care. If I needed a doctor, he had to know the reasons why. When I refused, he exploded. The moment that stands out the most is the day of my massive Asthma attack in 2009* where my father refused point blank to call an Ambulance in the night for me, implying that I was seeking attention and being dramatic. The other option was that he drive me to a hospital at 1.am. He refused that too. He never felt worry for me, or fear for my life.

The way he would sharply raise his hand to my face holding it suspended, mid air, inches from my skin – surely that was physical? Yes, he never released it and let it slap my across my cheek but how can what he was doing be classified as anything else?

My father was an abusive man.

In every way.

* See post Notes.

Fight or flight? Coping with panic attacks.

I have suffered with panic attacks for over ten years. I only get them in extreme emotional states. They usually link to my Asthma as in the height of them, I often cannot breathe therefore rely on my Asthma pump or tea to soothe and calm me. If I am ill, my mother tries to keep me calm as the panic can bring on an Asthma attack and vice versa, she hates seeing me like that. It only reminds her of what he did to me.

The abuser brought on these attacks.

Ten years ago, at the age of twenty one, my father was no longer a decent man. By this time, all of his redeeming qualities had disappeared and I was left with a shadow of his former, loving self. Just one second in his presence caused anxiety. A constant fear of speaking or walking or breathing the wrong way was something I dealt with on a daily basis. Panic attacks appeared quickly.

The key symptoms began in his company:

  • sweating
  • a feeling of suffocation, the inability to breathe properly
  • trembling
  • dizziness
  • dry mouth
  • a feeling of dread as if life could be over any second now
  • sick to the stomach or excrutiating stomach pains
  • thoughts of extreme fear

Every moment of every day brought up one of these emotions or physical feelings. On the NHS website a term called

Depersonalisation

is mentioned.

This is the description:

During a panic attack your symptoms can feel so intense and out of your control that you may feel detached from the situation, your body and your surroundings. It can almost feel as if you are an observer, making the situation seem very unreal.

This sense of detachment is known as depersonalisation. Being detached from the situation does not provide any relief, or make a panic attack less frightening. Instead, it often makes the experience more confusing and disorientating.

*Photo from Google.

I have certainly felt this way before. A feeling of watching yourself suffer and being detached from your own reality is frightening beyond belief.

I have found great support through the website http://www.mind.org.uk ** as not only did one of their counsellors open my eyes to the depth of his abuse but the fact that the website is a place that I can find support and answers from.

Without judgement.

**The link to Mind will redirect you to the correct site if you click on it

Sociopath V.S Narcissist.

After researching sociopathy on the web, I came across the same definition that sociopathy was classed as a personality disorder. A website listed a few general points of a sociopath as being:

  • Glibness and Superficial Charm – my father had plenty of this.
  • Manipulative and Conning
    They never recognize the rights of others and see their self-serving behaviours as permissible. They appear to be charming, yet are covertly hostile and domineering, seeing their victim as merely an instrument to be used. They may dominate and humiliate their victims.
  • Grandiose Sense of Self
    Feels entitled to certain things as “their right.” – undoubtedly another trait of my father’s.
  • Pathological Lying
    Has no problem lying coolly and easily and it is almost impossible for them to be truthful on a consistent basis. Can create, and get caught up in, a complex belief about their own powers and abilities. Extremely convincing and even able to pass lie detector tests.
  • Lack of Remorse, Shame or Guilt
    A deep seated rage, which is split off and repressed, is at their core. Does not see others around them as people, but only as targets and opportunities. Instead of friends, they have victims and accomplices who end up as victims. The end always justifies the means and they let nothing stand in their way – the perfect description of my abuser. Nothing stood in his way when it came to me.
  • Shallow Emotions
    When they show what seems to be warmth, joy, love and compassion it is more feigned than experienced and serves an ulterior motive. Outraged by insignificant matters, yet remaining unmoved and cold by what would upset a normal person. Since they are not genuine, neither are their promises – yet, with my abuser, he expected my emotions to be truth, I had to feel an abundance of love for him.
  • Incapacity for Love
  • Need for Stimulation
    Living on the edge. Verbal outbursts and physical punishments are normal. Promiscuity and gambling are common.
  • Callousness/Lack of Empathy
    Unable to empathize with the pain of their victims, having only contempt for others’ feelings of distress and readily taking advantage of them.
  • Poor Behavioural Controls/Impulsive Nature
    Rage and abuse, alternating with small expressions of love and approval produce an addictive cycle for abuser and abused, as well as creating hopelessness in the victim. Believe they are all-powerful, all-knowing, entitled to every wish, no sense of personal boundaries, no concern for their impact on others – the abuser never had any boundaries around me. I was forbidden boundaries, he made it so he was free to enter all of my personal space.

I never thought of my father as a sociopath. I had always associated the term with criminals. It was only recently, when a fellow WordPress blogger mentioned to me that my father seemed to suffer from many of these traits did I look further into it. My father fitted into the majority of these descriptions. It’s shocking to read it out loud and see what kind of man I was dealing with for all those years.

I may never have thought of my abuser as a sociopath but I did regard him as a narcissist. My definition of a narcissist has always been of the tale of Narcissus in Greek Mythology. The son of a river god who was incredibly proud. He saw his reflection in a river and instantly fell in love with his own beauty. He became so fixated with himself that it caused his death.

I always saw my father as a narcissist; he truly loved himself. The Oxford Dictionary defines Narcissism as –

  • excessive interest in or admiration of oneself and one’s physical appearance.
  •  Psychology extreme selfishness, with a grandiose view of one’s own talents and a craving for admiration, as characterizing a personality type.

Well that sums my father up to a tee especially the second part. He longed, yearned and craved admiration. He used his cut-throat, sociopathic ways to buy and gain admiration from others. It worked with many.

It never worked with me.

Raising Awareness.

I am taking my prompt from another blogger who has inadvertently encouraged me to start researching more about the many forms of abuse. I discovered emotional incest from my counsellor three years ago. I had never heard of it before then. Discovering this new term changed a part of my life. Finally, there were answers. I began researching it through the internet and came across a book, one that I have recommended on the blog already – The Emotional Incest Syndrome – Dr Patricia Love, believe me, it’s well worth a read. Many survivors of parental abuse may not realise that this is happening to them. I didn’t.

Over the next few posts I will be looking into the information that is out there on the world wide web to help other survivors of different forms of abuse. It will be good to know what avenues there are to explore especially in the United Kingdom as when I was suffering, it was difficult to know where to go. Of course, the doctor or psychiatrist is always an option but there should be more available to help people going through these traumas.

In the book I’ve recommended to you, there is a section that asks you to “tick” off what relates to your situation. If any of you have any doubts or questions about your relationship with your parents (past and present) this is a good and enlightening task to do. BEWARE: It may bring up some revelations and you need to be ready to face them. It not only asks you to look at your relationship with the abusers but the way in which you value yourself.

I do hope this is beneficial to you as it was to me.

 Check list of Enmeshment

Part A. Indication of an Overly Close Parent-Child Bond

1. I felt closer to one parent than the other.
2. I was a source of emotional support for one parent.
3. I was “best friends” with a parent.
4. A parent shared confidences with me.
5. A parent was deeply involved in my activities or in developing my talents
6. a parent took a lot of pride in my abilities or achievements.
7. I was given special privileges or gifts by one of my parents.
8. One of my parents told me in confidence that I was the favourite, most talented, or
most lovable child.
9. A parent thought I was better company than his/her spouse.
10. I sometimes felt guilty when I spent time away form one of my parents.
11. I got the impression a parent did not want me to marry or move far away form home.
12. When I was young I idolized one of my parents.
13. Any potential boyfriend/girlfriend of mind was never good enough for one of my
parents.

14. A parent seemed overly aware of my sexuality.

15. A parent made inappropriate sexual remarks or violated my privacy.
Part B. Indication of Unmet Adult Needs
1. My parents were separated, divorced, widowed, or didn’t get along very well.
2. One of my parents was often lonely, angry or depressed.
3. One of my parents did not have a lot of friends.
4. One or both parent had a drinking or drug problem.
5. One of my parents thought the other parent was too indulgent or permissive.
6. I felt I had to hold back my own needs to protect a parent.
7. A parent turned to me for comfort or advice.
8. A parent seemed to rely on me more than on my siblings.
9. I felt responsible for a parent’s happiness.
10. My parents disagreed about parenting issues.
 Part C. Indication of Parental Neglect of Abuse
1. My needs were often ignored or neglected.
2. There was a great deal of conflict between me a parent.
3. I was called hurtful names by a parent.
4. One of my parents had unrealistic expectations of me.
5. One of my parents was very critical of me.
6. I sometimes wanted to hide from a parent or had fantasies of running away.
7. When I was a child, other families seemed less emotionally intense than mine.
8. It was often a relief to get away from home.
9. I sometimes felt invaded by a parent.
10. I sometimes felt I added to a parent’s unhappiness.
 10 or more endorsements – possibly emotional incest. Look at how the checked items
cluster.

This is an extract from the book – The Emotional Incest Syndrome – Dr Patricia Love. I ticked 8 in Part A, 8 in Part B and all 10 in Part C. Part C I feel relates to the abuse from my father in my twenties. This is not just a reference to childhood. My counsellor told me to tick as it is happening to me now. I think that is where the realisation of what was happening really hit home. Lets use this and move forward.

Let the healing begin.

Ros xx