Hi! It’s been a while since I last sat and wrote a blog post. To be honest I just haven’t felt like writing until now. Today is #TimeToTalk Day so that’s what I’m going to do. Today is a chance for us all to be more open about our mental health. Mental health is not talked about or understood enough. It’s hard for people to understand mental health issues if they haven’t been through it themselves. This is exactly what I was like until I went through it myself. I didn’t understand, I was even scared of it. How do I talk to someone with mental health issues?
At the end of last year I had a bad time with my mental health. It started with me not being able to sleep properly which gave me really bad anxiety and I ended up back on medication. I won’t go into loads of detail but it was awful. Not being able to sleep is a big trigger for me and I knew it was linked to when it happened the first time when Amelia was 4/5 months old.
I decided that medication alone wasn’t going to sort this out and I started therapy. I decided to go to private therapy as I couldn’t wait for the NHS. Unfortunately mental health help on the NHS is not great. The waiting lists are long and when I went to the doctors, medication was all I was offered. Hopefully this will change as not everyone is in the position to have private therapy. The therapist was amazing and helped to really calm my anxiety down and gave me some coping mechanisms for when I couldn’t sleep. Although I haven’t felt like blogging I have found that writing down my thoughts has really helped, especially if I’ve had a bad nights sleep. I’m doing quite well now. I’m reducing my medication slowly and putting into practice the tools the therapist gave me. I really don’t think medication alone would have helped me in the long run, I had things that I needed to get sorted out.
Having people around you that care, listen and look after you is so important when you’re struggling. Luckily I have that support network but many don’t or think they don’t because they haven’t talked to people close to them. I can’t emphasis enough how much talking helps. If you think someone may be struggling, ask them how they are, offer to listen or just be a shoulder to cry on. If you’re struggling, as hard as it might be, try and reach out to someone you know will listen. Take each day at a time and remember that things can and will get better.
We went away with Amelia at a similar time last year and to be honest it put me off going abroad again. The airport stress, the sheer amount of stuff you have to take and the fact that she’d only sleep in bed with me attached to my boob. It wasn’t exactly relaxing! Then our crappy summer happened and we decided we needed a bit of sunshine and all the struggles of the last one were forgotten about as excitement took over.
About a month before the holiday in all the excitement I got the suitcases down from the attic so I could pack bit by bit in an attempt to be prepared and to be fair the morning of the flight we were all ready and felt relaxed. My plan was that Amelia would fall asleep in the airport before our flight but of course that didn’t happen! She fell asleep in the car on the way there so I hoped she’d get some more on the plane. After check in and security (where Kelly left a bottle of bubbles in her pocket – mum probs!) we went for some lunch. Everywhere was packed due to the Ryanair fiasco but we managed to eat and get to our gate in time.
My hopes for Amelia to nap on the plane didn’t go to plan at all! She was quite good but wanted to be passed between us and we had regular walks down the aisle. Thankfully the guy sat next to us didn’t mind letting us out every time.
We bought some things to keep Amelia amused on the plane and these are our must haves:
Sticker book – Kelly and the plane were covered in stickers but it was a must have!
Headphones – Before we went on holiday I thought about buying some toddler headphones but I didn’t think Amelia would keep them on. At the airport the Groov-e Kidz headphones were reduced in WHSmith so we bought them and they were a lifesaver! No one wants to listen to Igglepiggle or the Teletubbies for 4 hours and Amelia kept them on and really liked them. They will last her a few years as well so they were a great buy.
Youtube – Amelia loves watching anything with babies on Youtube, she is always asking for us to put them on at home. I downloaded one video onto the tablet and she must have watched it on repeat about 15 times on the plane which is why the headphones were a must have!
We landed and it was already past Amelia’s bedtime and she had only slept for 30 minutes all day so we were happy that security and getting our bags didn’t take too long (apart from the buggy being on an entirely different belt and no one telling us!). We sorted out car hire before the holiday through AutoReisen which was really simple and they even upgraded our car when we arrived. The drive to the hotel was quite simple and I only nearly went into a ditch once which was quite an achievement I think! We checked in, eventually got Amelia to sleep and got a takeaway pizza and then tried to get some sleep ourselves.
The hotel we were staying in was the Coridal Mogan Valle in Puerto Mogan, Gran Canaria. We went self catering, mainly because the meal times in the evening weren’t great for Amelia’s bed time and we wanted to sample some of the local restaurants. The apartment was a really good size with a bedroom, kitchen, dining table (never got used), lounge, bathroom and a really big balcony which was great for us when Amelia was napping. There were three pools; one for adults, one family pool and then a splash area and baby pool. There was a soft play area which wasn’t the best but Amelia went in it a couple of times and a few slides dotted around the hotel. The splash area and family pool was where we spent most of our time. Amelia loved jumping (falling) in and getting attention from anyone and everyone around the pool.
We spent most of our holiday having lazy mornings, swimming, walking into the town and eating! The hotel was in a great location. There’s a supermarket and a few shops and bars nearby and Puerto Mogan harbour is lovely and was about a twenty minute walk from our hotel. Amelia walked or was carried quite a lot of the way there or back as she didn’t like being in her pram much this holiday so we all got some exercise in which helped with all the treats we had! We went down to the beach a couple of times so Amelia could play in the sand and have a paddle. As we had the car we drove to Amadores beach one day but I didn’t like it as much as where we were staying; it felt more touristy.
With little sleep the first couple of days I thought seven days was long enough but as we all started to relax and really enjoy ourselves it was time to come home! I’d definitely think about going for ten days next time we go abroad. I’d revisit Puerto Mogan but I don’t think we’d go to the same hotel unless they invested in some proper air con. We had to rent an aircon unit and it just wasn’t strong enough. It was OK for the bedroom so it was fine for sleeping but when Amelia was in bed and we were in the lounge it was too hot. I also didn’t like the fact that the tube that came out of the back of the aircon unit had to hang out of the french doors meaning we couldn’t lock the apartment properly when we were out. The sister hotel Cordial Mogan Playa was next door and could be an option if we returned. We had a nosey round and it was lovely!
Of course to end the holiday we had to have some airport stress. We needed to drop the hire car off but could we find where we were meant to be? No! Every turning said car rental and we went every way possible and got stuck in a car park and my road rage was at an all time high! Trying to reverse the wrong way in a car park sitting in the opposite side of the car was a nightmare. Eventually we found it and it ran pretty smoothly from there thankfully. Amelia even had a little sleep on the plane home and the couple sat next to us were great with Amelia and I even managed to read some of my book!
Holidaying with a toddler is a challenge and I wouldn’t call it relaxing but the memories last forever and make it all worth while.
I haven’t blogged about how breastfeeding is going since April so I thought I’d do a little update. Amelia is nearly 21 months old and I haven’t fed her in the day now for quite a few months; I probably stopped soon after my last post about it. She took to it quite well and only asked for ‘booby’ two or three times during the day (one of these times being really loud in a play group!) before she forgot all about it.
About 3 weeks ago we decided to night wean as well. I could tell that it was for comfort in the night and at this age she definitely doesn’t need it. I’m going to regret saying this…first rule about sleep club…Amelia took to it well and most of the time is happy with a cuddle if she wakes up and goes back down easily.
Since then her morning and night feeds seem to have changed. I don’t feel the let down anymore and I’m not sure if it’s my body that has changed or Amelia is using it more for comfort now and isn’t taking much milk. She seems to just enjoy having a bit and then saying ‘side’ and then having some from the other side and saying ‘side’ again until I get fed up and tell her no more. I double checked that I’m still producing and I definitely am! In April I was really struggling to see the ‘stopping at 2’ goal being realistic but I think it might actually be possible now.
This morning when Amelia woke up instead of sitting down and feeding her straight away I took her out of her sleeping bag and asked her to wake up her new dolly who we put to bed the night before. She didn’t ask for booby and I didn’t offer it and that was that. She seemed a bit grumpier than usual when we were trying to get her ready but was fine when we left her at nursery. Is this the end of morning feeds? I’m not really sure how I feel about it.
A lot of Amelia’s baby friends have started turning 2 and I feel like time is going too quickly. It seems like she changes every day and although I love seeing her learn and grow I am loving this toddler stage and I want time to slow down! Breastfeeding in a way makes me feel like she’s still my little baby and although I know I can’t keep her that way forever (because that would be weird!) I’m going to miss it when we stop. Kelly always joked that I’d still be breastfeeding her when she’s 5 and we honestly thought we’d have more difficulty weaning her off than this. Don’t get me wrong I’m thankful that we’re not having tears and tantrums and it’s happened smoothly but it’s definitely me that will struggle more when it’s over!
I wanted to blog about this weekend because although it has been knackering and we haven’t had any down time it has been amazing. On Saturday we went to our friends wedding which was so different to any wedding we have have ever been to because it was a superhero themed wedding! The bride was Wonder Woman and the groom was Superman.
We went as the Incredibles and managed to get some rather fetching lycra suits from George at Asda and we got Amelia’s romper off eBay. Everyone’s outfits were amazing and it was funny watching people’s reactions to us all stood outside the registry office! The wedding was emotional as they had both written their own vows which was lovely and set us all off. The registrars even got involved, announcing the Bride’s entrance as Wonder Woman!
After the wedding we went back to their house and had a party. It was so relaxed and a lovely change from a formal wedding. There was a buffet and an amazing wedding cake to go along with the theme.
Amelia had a great time playing and getting loads of attention and before we knew it, it was way past her bedtime and time to head home. The bride and groom are the perfect pair and really are superheros bringing up their brood and planning a wedding less than three weeks after having a baby! Thank you for a super day!
Today is my birthday. I woke up, opened my lovely cards and presents and then got ready to take Amelia to nursery. I treated myself to a Starbucks drive-through whilst my Dad sang happy birthday on loud speaker, had a few more birthday phone calls and then I went for a smear test. Not your usual birthday activity, I know! When I rang for an appointment and they gave me 20th July I almost rearranged but I’d already had to cancel it a few times so didn’t want to delay it any longer.
In 2013 I had my first smear test. I thought nothing of it and just assumed everything would come back normal. I got a letter stating that they had found CIN2 cells which indicates moderate changes; affecting two-thirds of the thickness of the surface layer of the cervix and that I needed to go to the hospital so they could have a closer look. I was petrified and to be honest the letter wasn’t very reassuring. I ended up having a Loop Excision of the Cervix which involves using a small wire loop with an electrical current running through it to cut away the affected area of tissue and seal the wound at the same time. The procedure was carried out using local anaesthetic and although it was a bit scary being awake the nurses did a fantastic job of talking me through it and keeping me calm. Three months later I had another smear and thankfully it came back all clear.
After this experience I spoke to everyone I could about going for smears. ‘Make sure you don’t miss your appointment’ or ‘Better to be safe than sorry’ but I’ve found myself having to have this conversation with myself this time. I’ve rearranged my appointment at least 4 times due to my own poor planning. I was annoyed at myself for leaving it so long and with a family member being very ill with cancer it should have been a top priority, but it wasn’t. We have a toddler, jobs and a house to keep on top of and life just seems to get in the way sometimes.
“Among women aged 25-49 in England and women aged 20-60 in Scotland, age-appropriate cervical screening coverage fell between 2004/05 and 2007/08, then rose and plateaued for several years (probably partly due to the death of young celebrity from cervical cancer), before starting to fall again in recent years. Age-appropriate cervical screening coverage among women in England aged 50-64 has fallen steadily since 2003/04.” – Cancer Research UK
Only 70-73% of women are having their routine smear tests. Whether this is because they are embarrassed, scared or just too busy they are putting their health at risk. I don’t get embarrassed easily but trust me, the nurses have seen it all before, many many times! It’s a little uncomfortable but it shouldn’t hurt. If it does, that’s an even bigger reason to see the nurse. We need to learn to put ourselves first sometimes. If we’re not healthy then it’s not just us who suffers.
That’s why I didn’t rearrange this time. What better birthday present could I give to myself and my family?
I haven’t had time to blog recently. Work has been ridiculous, Amelia requires a lot of attention at the moment and in the evening all I want to do is chill out with Kelly on the couch. I’ve been struggling for inspiration as well but Amelia is 19 months old now so it’s about time for my labour and delivery story. It’s a long one so well done if you read it all. TMI AHEAD WARNING!!
On Wednesday 11th November 2015 (this seems like a lifetime ago!) I woke up, went to the toilet and saw a little bit of blood and jelly like stuff on the toilet paper. The previous day I’d been to the midwife and had a sweep so wondered if this could be the start of something. Throughout the day I was having mild cramps on and off but managed to get on with my day and told Kelly to stay at work. That night we went to bed and as soon as I led down I was in pain and so uncomfortable. I told Kelly to get some sleep and I went downstairs and had to lean over the birthing ball rocking back and forth with every pain. We had a brand new wooden floor so I had a towel underneath me as well just in case! I led down in between and tried to sleep but didn’t get much at all.
The next morning when Kelly came downstairs I asked her to stay at home; I wasn’t 100% sure I was in labour but I needed her with me. I rang the hospital and they told me to come in when the pains were every 3-5 minutes lasting for a minute. The pains were getting worse but were very sporadic. I could go for 11 minutes in between pains and then 2 minutes between. I had a midwife appointment at 4pm so I decided to go to that if the pains were still like that and see what she thought. Kelly stuck the TENS machine on that we rented from babytens and it did help, if only to distract from the pain by giving you a different pain! As the day went on the pains were getting worse and closer together. I had to stand up, walk into the kitchen and lean over the side to get through them but they still weren’t regular so I wondered if it was real labour. It got to about 3pm and I was struggling to cope so I rang the hospital and told them I didn’t want to sit in a doctor’s waiting room having what I thought was contractions, so they told me to come in.
We were already packed so we got everything in the car and set off; via McDonald’s! We hadn’t eaten much and I needed some energy right? We got to the hospital and made our way up to the birthing suite. Once we got up there everything hit me and I lost it a bit. I was crying whilst contracting waiting to go into our room. I felt like everyone was staring at me and I was certain we were going to get told to go home. I was examined and I was shocked but so happy that I was 4cm dilated; I could stay and get in the pool! Everyone talks about remembering their midwife but I can’t remember any of them and I had quite a few! One of them explained to me that you usually dilate 1 cm every 2 hours for your first baby. Every 2 hours!!! I thought it was nearly the end, how wrong was I! After 2 hours I was at 6cm; the pool had helped massively but it was time for some gas and air.
For the next couple of hours we were left to it and I was getting quite giddy on the gas and air; showing Kelly how wrinkly my fingers were and then being a bit sick. The McDonald’s might not have been a good idea after all! At one point I got out to to have a wee and they asked if they could examine me. I didn’t realise just how much the water was helping. I was in agony and desperately wanted to get back in! I think it was at around 8cm that my waters went. It was such a satisfying feeling and I think I asked if I’d given birth! From then on everything started to go really quickly, the pressure was indescribable. I couldn’t use the gas and air anymore as it wasn’t doing anything now and I couldn’t concentrate enough. I think this was what they call the transition period where I kept saying I couldn’t do it anymore and wanted it to be over.
I’d now been in the birthing pool for nearly 9 hours and the midwife told me I was ready to start pushing. This is where I feel like I went a bit wild. I really went within myself and don’t remember anything that went on around me. It took me 50 minutes to push Amelia out and they say you forget the pain of crowning…I will never ever forget that pain! Apparently 50 minutes is really good for your 1st baby; I was so tired that I gave it every last bit of energy I had.
At 1:40am after 10 hours of established labour Amelia Rose Roskell-Thomas was born weighing 7 pound 8. This is where it started to get scary. Amelia’s cord was really short so I couldn’t bring her out of the water onto my chest. The midwives had to drain some water quickly out of the pool so she could breathe. Kelly cut the cord and blood went spurting up the wall which I don’t really remember but Kelly thought it was hilarious! I was asked whether I wanted to let my placenta to come naturally and I wish I’d opted for the injection straight away. After an hour my placenta still hadn’t come out. They’d had me sat on the toilet to try and get it out but no luck and even after the injection it didn’t come out. The midwife examined me and asked if I needed a wee. I said I didn’t but she told me I needed a catheter as my body was holding water so my placenta couldn’t come out. I’d just given birth but I was terrified of having this done. Turns out I really did need a wee and a whole bucket load came out! The midwife then literally wrapped her hand around the cord and pulled my placenta out. It was disgusting!
The midwife explained that she didn’t know if I had a 3rd degree tear or a 2nd so I had to go up to the ward to be looked at by a doctor. I was took up on my own and a worried looking Kelly was left holding Amelia. I was in a room on my own bleeding loads for about half an hour before Kelly came in with Amelia. I was white, shaking and didn’t want to hold Amelia as I didn’t feel strong enough. We had no idea what was going on and whether this amount of blood was normal. After about 1 and a half hours finally a doctor came to see me (there was only 1 doctor for the whole ward). She said she could sew me back up there as it was a 2nd degree tear and got me the gas an air and injected some local anesthetic. She started and I could feel most of it! I kept saying that the anesthetic hadn’t worked everywhere but she told me to use my gas. The gas just made it worse because then I was like a drunk apologising for being such a baby when someone was literally sewing my bits back together.
Looking back on my birth it wasn’t exactly what I wanted; I didn’t feel like I got that special bonding moment as soon as Amelia was born but we were both safe and healthy and in the end that’s what matters. Nothing prepared me for what labour was going to be like but women are built for this. We are stronger than we think and I am totally in awe of what our bodies can do, we are amazing.
Firstly this is not a ‘breastfeeding is best’ post. Formula feeding mothers and breastfeeding mothers both get stick and it’s ridiculous. We are just feeding our babies and it shouldn’t be anyone else’s business what method we use. I think formula is an amazing thing, for those who can’t breastfeed and for those that simply don’t want to, fed is best!
I have had a love/hate relationship with breastfeeding. From the very beginning it was hard, really bloody hard. Amelia was really tired after she was born. It’s not just mothers who have a hard time in labour you know! That didn’t stop the midwives telling me ‘she must feed’ whilst trying to shove my boob into her mouth constantly. Amelia was then given a little bit of formula and was stripped off to ‘wake her up’. This only resulted in her temperature dropping and heart rate dipping meaning she was given unnecessary antibiotics just in case. So you might say we didn’t have the easiest of starts which was such a shame after a fairly normal delivery. The morning after her birth when we were all alone Amelia latched on and fed, I was so relieved and happy. If we had just been left to recover and bond properly we wouldn’t have had any issues.
When we got home the next lot of problems started. Amelia wanted to feed all the time like any newborn, but I didn’t have a clue what I was doing or if I was doing it correctly. I was so sore I sent Kelly out to the pharmacy to get me some Lanolin cream (which is a amazing!) whilst I sat and cried and winced in pain as Amelia was feeding. We went to anti natal classes and they obviously promote breastfeeding but not once did they mention how hard it could be or what to do in that situation. Luckily my friend had been through it all before and I asked her for advice. The biggest help was from a charity called FAB who specialise in breastfeeding and came out to see me a couple of times to make sure Amelia’s latch was correct and what I could do to ease the pain. They text me to see how I was getting on in the early days and I could contact them if I had any questions.
I think Amelia was about 8 weeks old when we first gave her a bottle, another useless piece of advice from our anti natal class. ‘Babies might get nipple confusion and refuse the breast if you give them a bottle any earlier’. How about the fact that if you wait this long they might refuse anything other than the real deal. And this is what we have, a bottle refusing, booby monster called Amelia! She has only ever took 2 or 3 bottles and has refused ever since. She would gag or just mess with the teat and get really upset when we tried her and to be honest when I was struggling with PND and anxiety trying to get her to take one made me so much worse. I spent my days worrying about why she wouldn’t take a bottle, what would happen when I went back to work and how I’m never going to have a social life EVER AGAIN! Obviously I was getting way too worked up and she’s not going to be breastfeeding for ever but anxiety is a horrible thing and I couldn’t stop the thoughts. As I got to speak to more mummies (and my medication kicked in) I realised that some babies will never take a bottle, and that is OK. I will have more of a social life again eventually and it will not last forever.
The nights have been difficult as they usually are for the first few months. Breastfed babies tend to not sleep for long periods for quite a while which is exhausting! Amelia sees me as her comfort and if she wakes in the night that is what she wants so although Kelly is amazing and goes in to give her a cuddle, eventually I’ll have to go and feed her to settle her. I am so used to this now though and Amelia doesn’t wake as often anymore. It does mean though that I am not up for very long as she has a quick booby cuddle and goes back to sleep. The boobs have helped with teething, temperatures and the chickenpox and in times like these I am glad I am still feeding her. We did do a bit of sleep training with Amelia and had to stop feeding to sleep which has really helped her get back to sleep herself in the night. Now if she wakes she is usually genuinely hungry or feeling unwell.
I have always felt quite confident feeding Amelia when we are out and about although there have been some comments that have annoyed me, whether they’ve been said about me or someone else breastfeeding. The first and most common one I’ve heard, ‘you’re being used as a dummy’. No, a dummy is a replacement for a boob, we have been around a lot longer than the dummy. I am being used for comfort and it is perfectly normal for a baby to need that comfort. I have nothing against people who use a dummy, I tried and tried to get Amelia to take one to give me a break but like the bottle, she wasn’t having any of it. Another one is ‘you’re always feeding her’. Some babies, especially breastfed babies don’t work well with schedules. Sometimes they might go 2-3 hours between feeds. Sometimes they might have a feed and then decide they want more 30 minutes later. Amelia was and still is a snacker. She has never ever had a feed that lasted more than about 10 minutes meaning when she was little she she fed A LOT! People seem to think babies all work the same, that what works for one should work for another and that couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s no wonder that mummies get PND and anxiety, I know I was constantly comparing Amelia’s feeding habits to other babies I knew when I didn’t feel confident in my parenting. The other comment that drives me mad is ‘oh you’re still breastfeeding?’ or ‘when are you going to stop feeding her?’. She won’t take a bottle and right now I don’t feel like she’s ready to stop. It gets a bit tedious having to repeat myself!
This seems like a bit of a moany post about breastfeeding, there isn’t enough support and it is really hard but I have loved breastfeeding and I am proud that we have come this far. We’re on the journey now (how ever long that might be!) to wean off the boob. I am feeding less in the day now and I am hoping to wean her off around the 2 year mark. I will be glad to get my body back but I will miss those sleepy milk cuddles and her cheeky little grin she gives me when she’s looking up at me.