On Writer’s Block And The Frustrations Of Being Ill

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I have writer’s block. But not only do I have writer’s block, I have a tummy bug. And at this point in time I really don’t know which is worse.

I’ve sat down at my computer 3 or 4 times this week (before the bathroom became my best friend), written things and then deleted them straight away. Or written them, re-read them the next day and rolled my eyes to the heavens. Because, really? I thought writing was my thing, it’s what I like to do the most. And not being able to write properly makes me crosser than anything else, which is followed by being all stifled, all bunged up with thoughts. Like having a blocked nose that just won’t shift, even with one of those woozy-inducing olbas oil tampon shaped things.

Here’s what I was planning to write about this week: how everyone on Facebook pretends to be all smiley, happy and shiny when really they’re all dark and moody (uplifting, right?) and FEELINGS. Because Facebook and Feelings make for a winning combination of blog fodder, don’t you think? No I don’t think. It makes for a pile of words that got saved from being launched into cyberspace with one flick of the delete button.

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Anyway, my writer’s block has been further exacerbated by number 4 (that’s my house) becoming an incubator of tummy upsets. Elfie was the first to go down on Tuesday, but wait, there’s a lovely story behind this: we spent last Saturday in London at a blogging event hosted by my favourite PR gurus at Bump (happy 4th Birthday!) and were lucky enough to hang out with some of my favourite bloggers: Katie and Lucy, Chloe and Alice. And then there were the ones I didn’t get to hang out with as much as I would have liked to: My Two Mums, Jennie, Katy, Lauren. It was a veritable blogging feast and the day put on by Bump was super.

But because our children are blogging children  they got on brilliantly, but unfortunately this meant they obviously shared all their germs as the families of Katie, Chloe and me have spent this week feeling rather sorry for ourselves. Woe is us! It was kind of worth it though, what’s a few germs between blogging friends?

So, on Tuesday Elfie went down with the bug and we spent a rather lovely day cuddling on the sofa with our best friends Peppa, Ben and Holly. Those quiet times are so precious, the unexpected moments when you have nothing to worry about save which pyjamas you’re planning on slobbing about it and how long you’re going to cuddle for before cooking lunch. Apart from not sleeping a wink the night before (both of us) I really enjoyed this quiet slow day together.

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She was back to normal (ish) on Wednesday which was good because that’s when I got sick. Elfie was a very good nurse: “Mummy, you lie here on the sofa so I can stroke your hair, we’ll watch CBeebies then you can rest. Don’t drink your water too fast or you’ll be sick, Mummy” *waggly finger*. I honestly don’t know where she gets it from.

And that’s where I am now. Sick, ill, poorly. I THOUGHT I got better yesterday, even took a shower and a drive to Waitrose for contraband white bread and Marmite. But then something happened to me last night and I sunk into the deepest darkest depths of tummy bug hell again which really sucks because all I want to do is feel normal and healthy again. I want to go to the gym! I want to eat stuff! I want a glass of wine!!

The thing that’s most frustrating about being ill is that it leaves you completely helpless. In the old times you might be glad of a couple of days off work with a DVD but now, I got stuff that needs doing. I need to work, to see people, to parent my children. And I can’t do that when I’m groaning, moaning and feeling sorry for myself in bed. It’s a terrible feeling and one that leaves me feeling so very thankful for my (general good) health. 60 hours of lying in bed wanting to sleep, read, eat, drink, ANYTHING, but not being able to because your tummy hurts too much and the room is spinning… it’s the most frustrating feeling in the world and is the reason I just suck my hangovers up and deal with them these days. There’s no time for self-pity if it’s self-inflicted.

But NO MORE. I just ate a piece of toast (little victories!) and am going to drink water like it’s my job today. I’ve painted my nails, watched three episodes of Grey’s Anatomy and taken part in a Twitter party so things are definitely on the up. I’m going to a Burns Night party tomorrow which I WILL be well for because it’s Black Tie, and there’s nothing I don’t like if not Black Tie. And I just wrote a whole blog post so this must mean my writer’s block is over.

Right?

Oodellally Golly What A Day

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Isn’t it typical that two days after pouring my heart out about Elfie’s disorder she becomes ill?

Will and Hux have both been afflicted with man flu this past week and after thinking Elfie and I had escaped it, she fell ill this morning. She woke me up crying at 6am and was lying on her bedroom floor. I scooped her up – poor thing was all rolling eyes and floppy limbs – and deposited her on Will’s side of the bed. This always happens when he’s working away! Going into emergency mode I got a double dose of her usual medication into her to kick-start things and then a couple of large mouthfuls of Glucogel which is packed full of Glucose to get her blood sugar up quickly.

The whimpering had woken up Hux so we all de-camped to the sofa and had some morning milk. Hux is still refusing solids thanks to the man flu and Elf halfheartedly nibbled on a banana. When I realised nobody wanted to be awake I took them both back upstairs, Hux to his bed and Elfie and I to mine. She insisted on  sleeping all cuddled up which meant I a) got a bit sweaty and b) had her toes in my mouth on more than one occasion.

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As she hadn’t improved by lunch time and had developed a weird obsession with drinking ALL THE WATER (literally almost 2 pints this morning) I called the doctor who was out within the hour. Blood sugars were fine (no diabetes) but if the thirst doesn’t abate in the next couple of days we’ll be off to the hospital to do in-depth blood tests. I’m awaiting a phone call from her Consultant at Nottingham’s Children Hospital to rule out anything sinister relating to her meds or condition.

Meanwhile I’ve aged about five years and am going to have to pay extra careful attention to my forehead frown lines this evening. Luckily I have a relaxing eyebrow and bikini line waxing appointment to get me out the house tomorrow. That’s how hard today has been: I’m looking forward to my bikini hair being forcibly removed. Ahh blissful, honest.

As much as I have loved the day-long cuddle I’ve had with Elfie (though BOY, is baby illness with two children in a whole different league to when you’re dealing with one) this has really reinforced to me why I want to work hard to raise awareness of CAH. Even the GP arrived today with a ream of paper detailing what to do with Elfie in a crisis that came from her consultant, there is so little that even Doctors know about the condition.

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Thank you from the absolute bottom of my heart to everyone who has donated to our cause so far. It has touched me so much that people have been compelled enough by my little girl to put their hands in their pockets.  So much that CLIMB have got in touch with me to discuss fundraising – I’m reaching the big time, baby! – and I’m happy to report that I’ll be working with the Living With CAH support group in their quest for a cortisol epi pen.

This evening Elfie was requesting ham sandwiches and a bath so she is well on the mend, thank goodness. Tomorrow is a new day with my lovely children and I hope we’ll be in better shape for exploring the world. And getting waxed.

I didn’t want to let this week go past without mention of someone in our blogging community: Jennie at Edspire. I met Jennie at BritMums last year in the feeding room, she was there with her Matilda Mae and I was feeding Hux, who was two weeks younger than her beautiful little girl. Matilda Mae passed away suddenly on Sunday night, with no explanation or reason. Jennie and her family are quite rightly devastated. I have been taking time every day to reflect and think about Jennie and Matilda Mae, and am sending her nothing but love at this time that none of us can comprehend. I hope Jennie is finding a small bit of solace at the blogging community who are full of compassion and support for her at this awful time. 

 

Illness, Baby Cuddles and Britney.


Whenever Elfie is ill I get the overwhelming feeling of “it’s not fair”. When she had a bug as a baby it was all whinging, taking blood sugars, constantly checking temperatures and days in hospital. Thankfully now she’s older, stronger and we know her condition inside-out we no longer need to do the dash to casualty but there are other reasons why a poorly Elfie pulls on the heart strings.

She can speak, for one, and when she’s ill she talks in the most pitiful way. I challenge any one of you to not melt when she’s reclining on the sofa saying “mummy, poorly. Cuddle?”. It’s delightfully heartwrenching.

Luckily my mum was able to take Hux for the day yesterday, and as horrible as a night of vomiting interspersed with fitful sleeping with Elfie in the spare bed was (she made me sing The Wheels On The Bus for HOURS), we spent the whole day cuddling on the sofa with Peppa Pig and it was a really lovely time.

She let me take her into the bath and wash the sick out of her hair (nice) and then we dried off in front of the fire and sang yet more Wheels On The Bus. She fell asleep snuggled on my chest and I managed to reach the remote and flick to catch up on the X Factor USA. An hour of blissful cuddles and Britney Spears (is it just me or does she still seem slightly unhinged?).


Elfie’s feeling a lot better today – though still napping lots and Peppa on loop – and I’m looking forward to her being back to her normal happy self. Saying that I have enjoyed this time with her, I think because seeing your babies grow up is so bittersweet. They’re quickly growing into such independent little things and being needed for ‘baby cuddles’ once more feels very special.

The Homecoming

 

We came home yesterday.

Let me tell you, a whole week in hospital on a hot, noisy maternity ward with your new baby really makes you think about and appreciate the small things. Especially when neither of you are ill so the stay seems kind of futile. I  tried to view it as extra healing time for me and extra bonding time with Hux, but I missed Elfie and our home so so much. Our families were brilliant and rallied round so Will was able to be at the hospital the majority of the time but I think he was driven slightly mental by the whole noisy ward experience – as was I.

We were in awaiting the results of tests that Huxley needed to see if he was born with the same condition as Elfie. Because what she has is so rare and not very well understood they were being super cautious about releasing us, but yesterday we were given the preliminary all-clear and allowed to come home. There are still more tests to come back but everything looks good and we believe Huxley will not be affected. The relief was incredible and I was so happy to get him home yesterday.

 

The amazing thing about hospitals (alongside their ability to look after and cure people) is the sheer melting pot of people they attract. Like the post office. So many times I wished I had the energy and means to blog about what was around me, it was so surreal and weird at times.

There was the woman who I was placed opposite on the ante natal ward when i was admitted at 2cm who was on all fours with a canister of gas and air, howling like a banshee and screaming that she needed to push. After a very loud examination (midwife: “I haven’t touched you yet, please stop screaming”) she was carted off to the labour ward. At 3cm dilated. According to Will, my face at that point was a picture, but really her screams were totally One Born Every Minute-esque and not good for the mental state of a woman who planned on calmly and quietly breathing through labour, i.e. me.

 

Then there was the relief I felt when the consultant started talking about a c section which would take place at 39+6 (though my notes said 40+1?), because even though I felt like I was letting myself down by not attempting to move forward with the VBAC I knew I couldn’t take any more sleepless nights of ineffectual contractions along with the decreased movements and slowing heartrate; it had been four days already,  I may have gone mental. At that point there is nothing I wanted more than a lovely kind surgeon to cut my abdomen open. They did a pretty thorough stretch and sweep but put me on the emergency list for the afternoon of the 16th May should that not bring on more contractions. It didn’t.

Let’s not talk about the surgeon who put in my cannula IN MY TWEETING HAND when I specifically requested it go in my left, and instead feel thankful that it didnt work so someone had to swap it around.

 

Next in my hospital chronicle is the anaesthetist who congratulated me on my excellent banter (he actually used those words) before telling me post-section my uterus was ‘flabby’ and warning me that the medicine he had to give me to contract it would make me violently sick, but that’s ok because that’s better than bleeding to death, right? I wasn’t sick (champion!) but did feel completely and utterly horrendous for the next eight hours.

Best of all was all the amazing midwives who were just superb and who made the experience so much more pleasant than it could’ve been.

My roommate throughout the whole experience was a heavily tattoed Biker/Butcher lady who had some very interesting opinions: 50 Shades Of Grey? Not that sexual according to her. Her baby was 6lb born at 35 weeks so was quite jaundiced and spent the whole week under lights. Happily she got to go home the day before I did, she was quite hilarious.

 

I think I did a pretty good job of staying positive when I was in there – I hated not knowing how long they would be keeping us in – and having poor mr Huxley poked for bloods every 6 hours was awful. The lovely people of Twitter went a long long way towards keeping me sane as well as helping me with breast feeding questions in the middle of the night when I felt like I was passing glass through my nipples (answer: plenty of Lansinoh and it WILL get better). I think my mental state was mostly down to the fact I daren’t hope to go home as I knew that if Hux’s tests had come back positive then we’d have be there for the foreseeable future. And that would have been awful.

Anyway, walking through my own front door yesterday felt beyond heavenly. I feel so lucky for my lovely little family, our beautiful home, my caring and thoughtful husband and all the people we have around us. And shit, I have 2 kids. How did that happen?!

 

Psst… don’t forget you can still vote for More Than Toast as Best Pregnancy Blog at the MAD Awards!

33 Weeks Pregnant

 

We are now entering that strange period of time when we could realistically have a new baby here in 4-8 weeks and there is no way of predicting when it will happen. I think the to-do list of things we have left to accomplish before d-day is as long as my arm (I only think this because I haven’t gotten around to writing it yet) and the thought of all the washing and toy cleaning I have to do makes me want to go back to bed and take a long nap. We are going to have a newborn here soon. And a toddler. Oh my god.

It’s a good thing I’m going to be able to have a glass of wine soon because that’s the kind of thought that makes me want to reach for the bottle.

Last weekend we went away for the night for the last time as a family of three. We had an absolutely brilliant time at a 30th birthday party in Dorset (a sentence I never thought I’d hear uttered: “Oh good! You’re here! We can start the rounders game now!”) and Elfie was an absolute angel. She loved sharing a hotel room with us though woke up at 7am on the dot – which was actually more like 6am due to the clocks going forward. Luckily an hour of CBeebies in her cot with a banana allowed us to snooze. She also had her first experience of the sea which she could not get enough of, the mentalist. It was freezing. I looked after the pram whilst she and her dad paddled.

 

 

This week has been a bit rubbish really. After coming down with what I thought was a tummy bug on Monday night I spent the next day in bed feeling awful (thank goodness for my mum who had Elfie from 9am til bedtime – there’s no way I would have been able to look after her in that state). That afternoon I started having very strong Braxton Hicks contractions, one every ten minutes, and after consulting Twitter (obviously) I called my Midwife who told me to get myself into hospital. Thank goodness for my mother-in-law who took over Elfie duty whilst my mum drove me to the ADAU. I’m well into oversharing so I hope you won’t mind me telling you that my pee was the colour of cloudy Lucozade, which is weird because I don’t even like Lucozade. I was dehydrated and had loads of nasty things showing up on the urine tests which the doctor concluded meant a UTI. Apparently during pregnancy UTIs can be asymptomatic and can manifest themselves in different ways, such as in what might appear to be a tummy bug. They let me come home that evening with some hefty antibiotics and instructions to rest. Though any mothers out there will be able to tell you that resting whilst looking after a toddler is pretty impossible.

I have been completely wiped out all week, but today was the first day I have woken up and not just wanted to go straight back to sleep again. It feels brilliant to re-join the human race.

In other news Elfie thinks my huge stomach is hilarious and likes to poke my belly button, and then lift up her shirt and poke her own. She also likes to soap it up when I take her in the shower with me. We’ve had lots of people ask how she has reacted to the news, to which I respond “really? You think I can explain a new baby brother to the girl who only gets excited about bananas and airplanes?”. She basically has no idea what is about to happen and I feel quite guilty that we will be completely rocking her world to such an extent.

I’m still feeling very positive about my VBAC and am hoping this attitude will help me get the experience I want. I’m focussing on the messages from my Hypnobirthing books (really) and reading up on the process and historical non-medicalised births rather than One Born Every Minute-type hospital births and am hopeful that this positive frame of mind will go a long way to create a happy experience. We shall see. I still don’t like that the medical professionals I come across seem to be encouraging so much intervention (the midwife in the ADAU told me they’d probably encourage me to have an epidural due to my previous section: do not want) so in the next couple of weeks I want to write a strong birth plan and make sure I discuss it all at length with Will, who I expect will act as my birth advocate. As long as he’s not one of those husbands that do nothing but shout ‘push’ and vomitsat the sight of a crowning baby, I think I’ll be happy.

(Apologies for the rubbish photos this week: Mr ‘I bet David Bailey never has to deal with this shit’ was rushing to get back to work)

Week 31
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Week 16
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Week 12
Week 6/8

Elfie at 19 Months

It’s weird, looking at Elfie now you don’t see a baby anymore. You see a toddler, a mini-person. Especially when she’s dressed in the next size up of 18 months-2 years clothes which seem seem so much more geared towards making toddlers look like children rather than babies. Thank goodness for onesies which I will be keeping her in forever – she’s always my baby in her onesie.

Elfie is growing so fast and can now walk if you hold her hand, last week she even took a few steps on her own which made me come over massively Proud Mummy-like. The pace at which she’s developing is insane, she didn’t want to walk two weeks ago and can still go a whole day without walking unaided – she’s in no rush to become mobile which is absolutely fine by me.

We’ve experienced plenty of health scares recently which have been terrifying but at the same time have taught us more abut how to deal with Elfie when she goes in to an adrenal crisis, which is when she starts becoming ill. Normally when we come down with a virus or an infection our bodies have a mechanism to kick-start the healing process but Elfie’s body is missing the ability to deliver the initial burst of adrenaline needed, meaning she becomes gravely ill very quickly. She takes a maintenance dose of medication to counteract this but when she’s ill she needs to be given this adrenalin manually.

Nightmare number one was when she had her flu jab – we woke up at 8.30 realising she hadn’t stirred (her usual wakeup time is between 5 and 6) and when we rushed to her she was floppy and weak. This was the first time I injected her with her emergency intramuscular dose of cortisol which was terrifying but the immediate effect was amazing.

Nightmare number two found us in A&E a week later with a very poorly child.  It transpired that she’d had tonsillitis and an ear infection and needed another emergency cortisol dose, which we didn’t have at home as our doctor wouldn’t prescribe her the medication without seeing her first (naturally the wait for an appointment was 2.5 weeks). More drama ensued when the paeds nurses refused to give her injection intramuscularly as directed on her emergency notes – they wanted to put an IV in her hand instead. We refused, Elfie has the trickiest veins (blood tests are horrendous) and it has taken hours for consultants to get IVs in her before, plus we knew that shortly after her IM injection she would perk up and there’d be no need for further medication. So as we were going against medical advice they agreed to prescribe us with her medication but I had to inject it myself. In the hospital. Whilst being watched by a nurse. And as we predicted within an hour she was back to normal and they released us after another hour of observation. It is so tough being in that situation and knowing you are behaving like ‘that’ pushy dickhead parent, but as what she has is so rare I feel it’s necessary. And I always apologise for being so ‘assertive’ afterwards.

Since then we’ve had a long night of baby sick (caused by coughing from a sore throat so no hospitalisation required) and some pretty awful teething episodes but apart from that she’s been good. I think I’m almost at the stage where I feel comfortable enough with her medical situation to be able to take her abroad, albeit preferably somewhere English-speaking with good medical facilities.

Elfie’s language skills aren’t that brilliant at the moment; when I first got pregnant I envisaged that by this time, with the baby moving and kicking, we’d be able to curl up on the sofa together and talk to Elfie about her new baby brother and how exciting it will be for her. We could certainly do that but I expect she’d be clamouring to get down so she can go and blow her nose on the carpet on the stairs, or give the living room rug a cuddle. I asked her if she was an alien today and she said “yeah”, so I don’t think she’ll understand the new baby before it arrives.

Elfie with Bryony‘s little girl Frankie, at a recent ShopStyle event

Her vocabulary has expanded a little to include “nana” (banana) and a lions growl (grannie) but aside from that she’s still only saying “yeah”. I think she’s a little behind in this respect but as she spent the first three months of her life very poorly and not developing I guess we’ve got this time to catch up, and new sounds are coming every day. She can understand A LOT of what’s said and definitely knows her own mind. She won’t be doing anything she doesn’t want to do and she will do as much of what she likes to do as possible (read books, eat ham, swim until her lips turn purple).

We’ve had to broach the tricky idea of discipline this month. Because she can’t articulate her thoughts she often gets frustrated and hits or kicks out, which is definitely not OK. Other than this she is an extremely well-behaved little girl and we can take her pretty much anywhere and feel quite confident that she won’t have a meltdown – lucky for us as we like to go to restaurants. The only exception to this rule is if there is a soft play area in the vicinity – woe betide anyone who lets her near but not in to soft play.

The last point: teething. It’s a bit of a shitter, isn’t it? I know kids have got to grow teeth somehow but they really come in the most painful and horrendous manner. They bring us so many nights of broken sleep, big old mouth spots, dribbling chins and a lot of grumbling and groaning. I am however very impressed every time I see Elfie with her whole fist in her mouth. These are the skills in life that will make her LOTS of friends at University.