On Being Whatever Weight You Want To Be

My wedding day. Those hips and jugs ROCKED. 

Looking back it’s amazing how much my weight has fluctuated through the years, and more importantly how little I have cared about it.

Up until the age of 21 I was a super skinny size 6, too skinny really as I was so relieved to put a little skin on my bones as my metabolism slowed down in my early twenties. The weight crept on as I moved to London and ate lots of delicious Vietnamese food (and too many Jacket Potatoes than is probably healthy) and I was the heaviest I’ve ever been at my wedding: a size 14 and over 12 stone. I was completely happy with myself and my weight at the time, particularly happy with the amazing jugs it gave me, but it was when I noticed I was wearing baggier clothes and covering myself up more that I decided to become healthier.

You know how much I’m into my food and I would never compromise my love of eating for any faddy diet, but I did make some tweaks and changes in how healthy I was. A lot more fruit, a lot less carbs and a little less beer went a long way and I lost 2 and a half stone in six months. And then I got pregnant and put it all back on again.

Weirdly, I lost my pregnancy weight super quickly after I gave birth to Hux without even trying. I credit a few things for this, mostly breastfeeding but also all the chasing round after Elfie that I do and her love of “WALK, mummy!”. I’m happy now at a size 10, but no more happy than I was at a size 12. I’m happy that I am healthy and able to enjoy food.

(Sidenote: I don’t like chocolate. I know this probably somehow goes against evolution and I don’t understand it either).

What I am not happy about is the current media-bashing of Lady Gaga. Reportedly she has put on 25lbs and this is a Very Big Deal to such people as the Daily Mail. It’s something I probably wouldn’t have considered before I had a daughter, but now I have her state of mind to worry about I do not want her growing up with the idea that it’s not OK to be curvy. For me this is as bad as high-fashion media using size 0 models as the epitome of perfect. I love to see curvier celebrities such as Christina Hendricks, Robyn Lawley and the Kardashians in the press being hailed as the gorgeous women they really are. They are much healthier role models for our daughters than our generation’s Kate Moss, so Lady Gaga: I salute you for being so proud of who you are at any weight (so proud that she posted photos of herself in her underwear on her blog). I think you look freaking awesome. 

I have to also stick two thumbs up here to my pal Naomi Shimada who was a long time model before she got sick of having to sacrifice her happiness for some warped idea of the fashion industry’s definition of beauty. She’s now a super successful plus-size model, working for greats such as ASOS, Simply Be and I-D Magazine.

That’s the sort of role model I want Elfie to have.

 

3 Months of Baby

This post originally appeared in my old blog, www.the-alice.co.uk

And what an October we’ve had! I spent another day in hospital today – madam has developed another UTI but luckily this time I noticed her wee smelling a bit whiffy and got her to A&E straight away. It seems like we have caught it very early and the hour and a half I spent this morning holding my wriggling baby over a sterile urine collector was worth it. This means doubling up her usual medication as well as an antibiotic for the next week or so, we will discuss it more with her consultant on Thursday.

Speaking of her consultant (who is a massive fan of Twilight so I obviously like her a lot), we should be getting a conclusive diagnosis from her on Thursday. She’ll also be giving us an ongoing plan for Elfie’s treatment and more advice on how to deal with her condition on an ongoing basis. We had decided about a month and a half ago that we were going to move abroad next year, possibly March, but with everything that’s happened I feel really uncomfortable with moving her so far away from the great medical treatment she’s been getting. But our plans for the future (or lack thereof right now!) are worthy of a whole other post.

Daddy has found office space working in the city centre so he is no longer working from home. I think this will be a good thing for us all – when he’s working in the study at home I find it so easy to ask him to help out. I used to spend my weeks living for the weekend and with Will at home all the days blended into one. Now I will look forward to the days he spends with Elfie and I, and will be counting the minutes til he gets home!

Elfie got weighed today and I’m pleased to say she’s back on the charts! At 17 weeks 6 days she is 10lb 13oz. Developmentally speaking she’s still slightly behind, though she’s had no official assessment I would estimate at around 3 weeks. She hasn’t rolled yet and her neck control isn’t what it should be (though it’s come on in leaps and bounds in the last fortnight). I’m looking forward to hearing some giggles, I’m sure they aren’t far away, and she is now constantly smiling which is such an improvement. She is generally a bright, happy baby – and this is all that matters to us at the moment.

Healthwise there is definitely light at the end of the tunnel and I am thoroughly looking forward to the future.

Homecoming!

This post originally appeared at my old blog, www.the-alice.co.uk.

Phew. We are home.

We got back yesterday afternoon and spent the rest of the day all snuggling on the sofa, exhausted after our 5 night stay. My home was a fold-out camp bed next to Elfie’s cot, lumpy and cold. Will stayed with us until 4am the first night in a hard chair next to us, then the next night in a free hospital bed, but was made to go home after then. I’ve had a couple of short hospital stays in the past for minor operations and have slept fine, but I totally underestimated the busyness of a children’s ward at night time. Not only was Elfie having two hourly obs but there were lots of comings and goings, other babies crying and monitors going off left right and centre. One of the first things I did when I got home was hugged my own bed. I missed it so much!

Needless to say I wouldn’t have been anywhere else. There was a toddler in the bed opposite us whose parents left him in hospital on his own at night. His tears broke my heart.

There’s been a lot of coming to terms with Elfie’s medications since we got home. She has two different types of steriods, one once a day and one twice, and a sodium suspension four times a day. We give them all to her orally in a liquid via a syringe – they are all different measurements and it’s pretty terrifying to make sure we’re giving her the correct amount at the correct time. So many millilitres and micrograms… not fun on a brain totally fuzzed by tiredness.

If she falls ill she will also need an inter-muscular injection, which Will and I were trained in. Needless to say I am touching so much wood that we never have to use it – sharp things and I simply do not mix! We also have a blood sugar monitor to use as an indicator for how well she is. Again, I hope our use of this is rare as I hate the thought of pricking her tiny fingers.

The good news is that her feeding is now fantastic. The last couple of weeks her appetite had slowed down dangerously and she was eating only around 500ml in a day. She’s had 900ml today! Her weight was getting further and further from the bottom line of the chart so hopefully she might now even put on enough to get back on the chart. At the last weigh in on Friday our poor little mite had lost weight and was still below 9lb, I’m looking forward to finding out her weight gain this week.

We have an almost-diagnosis, but the hospital are still working on an exact one, and they are unsure of the extent she is affected. She definitely has a problem with her adrenal gland, meaning she is unable to produce an essential chemical our bodies need when we are under physical stress. Babies with her (rare) condition are usually presented to hospital severely dehydrated and with symptoms of low sodium by their 6th week, and I think it’s been our dedication to getting as much milk as possible into her that meant she has stayed well for so long.

The doctors are currently trying out different combinations and quantity of medication to see what works the best, then examining the results of her blood tests. We should have a clearer idea in a fortnight or so of what her condition means, but for now we know that she will be medicated for the rest of her life.

I feel I have so much more to say right now about our situation – I am carrying around a lot of anger, for the health professionals who treated us like neurotic parents and for myself for not pushing harder. Her condition is genetic so I am feeling a lot of emotions about our future children, and should I blame myself for passing this to her? I’m feeling sad that my little girl will have to spend her life dealing with this condition and watching her health closely. And at the same time there is relief, after spending a couple of nights on an oncology ward and meeting some brave parents I know we are the lucky ones that she isn’t more unwell and that we are well-equipped to deal with this and help her through it. But they are all other posts I’m sure will come in the future as we wrap our heads around all this.

For now, I’m exhausted. Thank you for all your wonderful messages, they mean so much.

(Above photo is us having a bit of fun with a bedpan. You’ve got to look on the bright side!!)

Hospital beds

This post originally appeared in my old blog, www.the-alice.co.uk

I write this in hospital, sitting by Elfie’s bedside, which is where I’ve been since 5pm on Tuesday.

We have been so concerned about Elfie’s weight and after another disappointing visit from a paediatric nurse last week I decided enough was enough and rushed her to the GP. He referred her to the Paeds clinic at the hospital and after alarming results from a blood test on Tuesday morning we were told to rush back and she was admitted straight away. She was dehydrated with dangerously low sodium levels and high potassium, a dangerous situation, and we were lucky she didn’t experience any fits.

My poor little pin cushion has been thoroughly poked, prodded and examined (6 blood tests were taken from her before midday today – they’ve ran out of test sites so have started on her ankles – and I’ve lost count of the all the specialists who have visited us) and we’re inching closer and closer to a diagnosis. We do know it’s definitely a problem surrounding her kidneys and she’ll require medication for the rest of her life. We don’t yet know the exact problem, or the extent of it. The good news is that we’ve found a reason for her low weight and that once she starts on the medication she will live a thoroughly normal life. We will need to be very careful if she is ever ill and she’ll spend more time in hospital than the average person, but it shouldn’t affect her in any other way.

She has been so very brave: she has a cannula in her arm which is splinted and bandaged up to her elbow and a nasty feeding tube up her nose through which she’s receiving medication, including a nasty sodium solution four times a day. Already she’s a much brighter baby and she’s now feeding wonderfully. I’ve been able to stay with her the whole time. The best case scenario is that we will go home over the weekend, otherwise it could be up to another week, all depending on how long it takes to bring her sodium levels back up and maintain them.

I am so angry and disappointed at the care we’ve been given up until we arrived at hospital (every single nurse, doctor, registrar and consultant here has been wonderful). The Health Visitor who told us three weeks ago not to worry, despite Elfie only putting on 2 oz in a week. The Paediatric nurse who told me to stop weighing Elfie every week as it would stress me out (of course I was stressed, my little girl was three months old and had only put on 2 lb!). The GP who told me to feed a baby who wasn’t hungry the formula designed for hungry babies (resulting in a weight loss of 4 ozs and dehydration). I was really made to feel like an overanxious mother who had a healthy baby, when really Elfie should have had urgent medical attention a long long time ago. I will write to my local healthcare trust, not just because I feel the need to complain and to make sure this doesn’t happen to another poorly child but because I have so much anger I need to get off my chest so we can move on. I feel sick when I think what could have happened if Elfie caught a cold, or had a sickness bug.

I am so regretful that I didn’t make more of a fuss, though we were seen by every health professional available to us at the time. And if a paediatric nurse or your GP tells you that you’re worrying unnecessarily then you believe them, don’t you? You assume they know more than you.

The moral of my story is to trust your instincts, mummy knows best. I don’t care if I’m rushing her to hospital once a week – my baby will never again be ill like this.

Time Flies

This post originally appeared in my old blog, www.the-alice.co.uk

Where does the time go? I seem to be struggling to keep up with life at the moment – the internet is far down on my priority list, unfortunately even further down than dusting and ironing.

Elfie has been a little trooper since we’ve introduced her new three hourly feeding routine and has been putting on around an ounce a day! She’s now back on the weight charts which is fantastic news, and we’re all working hard to get her weight up even further.

Thank you so much everybody for your kind emails and messages, they have really helped me through all the worries. I hope I’ll be back soon commenting and blogging. I do miss it…

(Sidenote: is it quite normal for my baby to sleep with her eyes open??!)

A Weighty Issue

This post originally appeared in my old blog, www.the-alice.co.uk

Last week I was distraught to find out that Elfie’s weight had dropped to a tiny 8lbs 4 oz. Obviously at 10 weeks old, this was not a good thing.

My local health centre has cancelled their drop-in weight clinics so she hadn’t been seen for 4 weeks – in this time she had only put on 6lbs. We had been feeding to a loose routine but pretty much on demand, 4 hourly and stopping only when Elfie refused to eat. I really hadn’t any concerns; although I knew she was a small baby she had been signed off by 2 doctors (a locum and my own doctor) and had been given her innoculations by a nurse who wasn’t worried at her size. It was pure luck that brought us to the weight clinic in Buckinghamshire where my mum volunteers once a week.

We were prescribed 3 hourly feeds by the lovely Health Visitors, and told to keep feeding even when she starts refusing. Immediately Elfie came on in leaps and bounds, she was way more alert, stronger and started cooing at us. The change is amazing!

At her weigh-in today she was 8lbs 8 oz which is an increase of 4 oz over 5 days, thank goodness. Moving forward we are to persist with the strict feeding routine and hopefully she’ll be piling on the pounds in no time. I am disappointed in my own doctors as they didn’t pick up on the fact she was severely underweight – they even refused to weigh her when I requested (apparently it’s something they just ‘don’t do’). I will be hunting out a new doctor’s surgery as soon as possible.