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.

127 Days to go!

WEEKS: 22 and counting!

BUMP: No change from the last couple of weeks although the comments from strangers and parents at work are beginning to make me feel slightly whale-like (!)

CRAVINGS: Heinz Tomato Soup, white bread, blackberries, cherries, Wagamamas (a Japanese noodle restaurant)

CURRENT HEALTH: Below average, after suffering from a head cold and cough this weekend. It’s still persisting with a rotten, dry and irritating cough sitting comfortably on my chest and playing with my Asthma. Not. Happy.

MOVEMENT: Still little flutters now and again. No significant kicks but only on week 22 now. Reacts to certain music e.g. Adele, The Bangles and recently discovered – Motown.

SIZE: Baby is now apparently the size of a large Papaya and roughly the length of a standard ruler.

SYMPTOMS: Annoying leg cramps first thing in the morning aren’t fun. No back ache yet. Slight carpal tunnel occurs frequently in my right arm and wrist, that is possibly the most uncomfortable thing going on at the moment. Loss of appetite at lunch still happens. Bad sleeping – but possibly due to head cold. Will wait that one out.

COMING UP: 5 WEEK SCHOOL HOLIDAY!!!!! 2 weeks to go. I CANNOT wait.

The short falls of pregnancy.

I have been away in Oxford this bank holiday weekend on a Hen party. It has been lovely to get away and the weather was near perfect but sadly, my endless sea of nausea stilted my enjoyment for most of the weekend. I understand I am not the first woman to have ever suffered with pregnancy symptoms but I cannot disguise my constant discomfort. 

The retching (never vomiting) has to be the worst. Since week five of pregnancy have I endured it. Morning and night. The only relief is to lie on my left side for ten minutes but of course that is not always possible, especially at work. I have always suffered with travel sickness but driving up and from Oxford with a friend has been a hundred times worse. Baby does not like cars and clearly neither does mum (!)

I have been told the sickness should ease up in the next few weeks but I am wishing it to end a lot sooner. All that I can do is stay positive that it is a good thing. At least my body is doing something normal and reacting in a standard way. Not that it is much more reassuring but it certainly helps.

Food aversion is not fun especially for someone who used to LOVE food. Surprisingly, I’ve gone off chicken. One of the blandest foods on the planet. It doesn’t seem to matter what you do to it, I think it’s rank! Weird. Very weird. I hope this doesn’t last long.

The headaches have become the newest symptom to appear. They are truly awful. Along with the symptoms comes the predictions. Many a folk have predicted it’s a girl due to the way I’m feeling but looking our scan there was a moment I thought boy. To be honest, we aren’t bothered. We just want the little one healthy and strong but nonetheless, it’s fun listening to people’s reasoning!

 

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.