Archive for Health and happiness

2012-2013: From pregnancy to parenthood

Seven weeks into my motherhood and I’ve finally got the headspace to blog about it and the pregnancy leading up to it…

2012: Pregnancy in Pictures

2012 felt like it was all about the pregnant – I saw in the year wondering if I could get pregnant after a surprise diagnosis of endometriosis, trying to get pregnant, managing it in what seemed like no time at all and being pregnant before giving birth to a healthy (and very overdue) baby Rowan on 2nd December 2012.

I made the above video towards the end of my pregnancy, not only to take my mind off wondering why my baby was taking its sweet time with putting in appearance but also so I’d remember all those precious pregnancy memories which would no doubt drop right out of my head the moment I gave birth. Up until the last fortnight I had quite a nice pregnancy and I wanted a record of it all – the move to Cardiff and marriage proposal that led up to it, my craving for apples, the holidays and good times that were had and eating spicy hot food in a bid to kick-start labour. It’s called ‘Snowflake’ because that’s what we called Rowan whilst he was in utero – a play on Carl’s ‘Snowblind’ online alter ego! The soundtrack is the Snowflake’s heartbeat, recorded when he was monitored for lack of movement. Thankfully, he was fine and born fighting fit not long afterwards. Here’s the story so far:

Week Zero: Where’s Baby?

Lunacy!

Lunacy!

Rowan was due to arrive into the world on 16th November but he just didn’t want to come out. I tried everything to try and encourage labour but it seemed that no matter how many fresh pineapples I ate or cups of raspberry leaf tea I drank it just wasn’t going to happen without a medical induction, something I really wasn’t keen on. This photo is a record of me at my most desperate – Carl read online somewhere that rubbing your bump clockwise whilst looking at a full moon can induce labour, so I stood in my back garden in the freezing cold and did just that for twenty minutes. It didn’t work and on 1st December, 16 days after my due date, I admitted defeat and had labour induced at University Hospital, Cardiff.

Week One: Hello Rowan!

Cry baby

Cry baby

There’s no denying that Rowan was well worth the wait! He was born at midday on Sunday 2nd December weighing 8 pounds and 5 ounces.  I can’t say that my labour was a particularly pleasant experience (my carefully crafted birth plan went right out of the window!) but the minute he was handed to me I burst into very happy tears before thinking to ask a few minutes later, “is it a girl or a boy?”

Week Two: Super Dad and Fantastic Family

Carl multi-tasking

Carl multi-tasking

On the evening after I was discharged from hospital with Rowan I found myself heading straight back there, in pain from infected stitches which was, not to put too fine a point on it, fucking minging. This meant that much of my second week with Rowan was lost in a Tramadol-induced haze and poor Carl had to do most of the parenting. It really brought home to me how I couldn’t have done this without him and made me wonder how on earth single parents do it! Both sides of the family were just as amazing, rallying around to help out. Rowan is a very lucky baby, to have such doting grandparents and extended family!

Week Three: Just the two of us

Beautiful boy!

Beautiful boy!

As the pain subsided and Carl returned the work, I finally got to enjoy some alone time with Rowan and marvel at him. Carl and I don’t consider ourselves to be oil paintings so we’re amazed that we managed to produce such a gorgeous baby. I know we’re biased but look at him – he’s gorgeous! He gets complimented on his gorgeousness wherever he goes and has been cooed over on the bus, in the shops and in cafes, in both English and Welsh. Everyone who stops tells me I should treasure this time as he’ll grow up in what seems like no time at all, which I am doing!

Week Four: Rowan’s First Christmas

My little Christmas pudding

My little Christmas pudding

Rowan was never meant to be a December baby but because he is, and thanks to this rather marvellous hat, my pet name for him is and always shall be My Little Christmas Pudding. This is the price he pays for his tardiness. Rowan spent his first Christmas in Birmingham, where we celebrated with Carl’s family and he received enough presents to sink a ship from his adoring grandparents, great-grandparents and other family and friends.  We could barely fit it all into the car for the journey home, he really is a very lucky little boy!

Week Five: 2013 – a challenging year

Rowan with his Dad, Grandad and Great Grandad

Rowan with his Dad, Grandad and Great Grandad

The three of us had a peaceful New Year’s but sadly it wasn’t a taste of things to come. It’s only January but already 2013 is promising to be a challenging year. As well as parenthood it seems we’ll be dealing with some serious family illnesses on both sides. Admitedly, coping with a new baby on top of an awful lot else has been hard but I suspect things would feel a lot harder without Rowan. He brings great joy to what would otherwise be a pretty grim time and seems to be a positive focus for everyone, reminding us all that however tough things might seem, life really is rather beautiful.

Week Six: Rowan is registered!

Rowan Ernest Getgood-Savage

Rowan Ernest Getgood-Savage

Rowan was officially registered as Rowan Ernest Getgood-Savage in Cardiff City Hall on 11th January. The receptionist there commented that he shares his name with the current Archbishop of Canterbury. We didn’t name him after Rowan Williams, we just liked the name (in fact, the only other Rowan I’m a fan of is the child sacrifice in The Wicker Man, one of my favourite films, but let’s not dwell on that). Ernest is a traditional Getgood family name – the name of my Uncle Ernie (who passed away last year) and the name my Dad goes by. We’re aware that Rowan’s double-barrelled surname is rather unusual to say the least, but the fact is Carl and I love our surnames and the legacies they carry and we wanted to pass them both down to our children. Plus no-one else on the planet has the surname Getgood-Savage – it’s a name Rowan and any future siblings of his can own.

Week Seven: Bottle-fed Baby

Nomnomnomnomnomnom!

Nomnomnomnomnomnom!

This picture is a rather bittersweet one for me. I really wanted to breastfeed and tried very hard to make it happen but I couldn’t get Rowan to ‘latch on’. I tried lots of different techniques and positions but nothing seemed to work and each feeding time would end up with us both in tears – Rowan out of hungry frustration and me as a hormonal new mother who couldn’t stand to hear her new baby cry. Each attempt would leave me pretty miserable and as a friend pointed out, “Now is not the time to be miserable!” So he’s now on the bottle. Suffice to say, breast-feeding is far from the only good intention that’s gone out of the window. Dummies, which I didn’t think I’d use, now litter the house. But there seems little point in getting upset over not being my idea of the perfect mum, so I’ve resolved to be happy with being the best mum I can be.

Week Eight: Snowed in!

Not even this guy could dig Rowan and I out

Not even this guy could dig Rowan and I out

Just as I’d gotten the hang of managing to leave the house with a baby (no mean feat) the snow came and Rowan and I have been pretty much housebound for the past few days. The roads are clear but I can’t drive and pushing a buggy along an icy pavement is dangerous for the pair of us. Even more frustrating is that I haven’t been able to visit my Dad, who’s poorly and unable to drive himself at the moment. This past week has made it clear to me that now is the time to do something I should have done a long time ago: I’ve got to learn to drive. I’ve applied for my provisional license and found a good deal for local driving lessons. I know it will be a hard slog but the freedom it will give me will be well worth it.

I must say, it feels like Rowan has been here for a lot longer than eight weeks but I also know that in years to come it will feel like this period of time flew by! It’s been one hell of a journey so far, so I’m both nervous and excited about what else this year has in store for us. The one thing I will predict is that I’ll end this year feeling like a rather different person to the one who started it!

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Nutrition notes

food diaryWhen I was told I have endometriosis, I naturally went online to find out a bit more about it. This led me the website for Endometriosis UK, a charity that supports women with the condition. As well as the explanations and hints and tips, I read quite a few of the personal stories on the website. They were pretty shocking – any pain I’ve had seems like a walk in the park compared to what some of these women have been though and their experiences were often made ten times worse by late diagnoses.

A lot of the women on there spoke about how changes to their diet seemed to help alleviate the symptoms, which I found interesting. Towards the end of last year my diet was pretty awful. It’s never been great but being extra busy and on the move a lot of time seemed to make it worse – lots of train station croissants for breakfast, carb-y buffet fair whilst at events and cheeky cakes with my americano’s at coffee shop meetings. My waistline as well as my general health were telling me that things needed to change!

So, I started thinking not simply about eating healthier but eating in a way that might help with endometriosis. Some women telling their stories on the Endometriosis UK website said that consulting a nutritionist had helped, so I thought that’s where I’d start. I googled ‘nutritionist Cardiff’ and came up with Joanne Crovini at cardiffnutritionist.co.uk,  who seemed to fit the bill.

After submitting a food diary and a pretty hefty amount of medical information I met with Joanne in a room above Canton Health Foods store the other week. She was very nice and her conclusions seemed to make sense – the way I was eating, I was sugar-rushing and crashing like a yo-yo throughout each day and needed to eat foods that released energy slowly to keep me nice and balanced.

This means I’m to avoid sugar, refined carbs (white bread/rice/pasta), potatoes, fried food, red meat and dairy and up my intake of essential fats (oily fish, nuts, seeds, etc.), protein, vegetables (especially broccoli) and dark berries. Obviously, the advice Joanne gave me was a lot more detailed than that but I won’t bore you with the finer points here.

Keep Your Chin Up - (Oh, it is? I couldn’t tell)What I shall do is continue to keep a food diary until I see Joanne again in March. Although I’ve embraced the Pink Pad technology with keeping track of my cycle, I’ve been pretty old school with keeping a food diary so far and written it out longhand at the end of each day in a little notebook. But then I spotted Nat Higginbottom’s online food and ‘4 Hour Body’ diet diary chinup.posterous.com and I thought, what a brilliantly simple and visual way of doing it! I can do it all with my iphone, include photos of my meals to see as well as read about what I’ve eaten and include any odd related notes/reflections on the day. So I’ve pretty much copied Nat’s technique and created getgoodeats.posterous.com (hope you don’t mind, Nat!), more as a record for myself  than anything but available for my nutritionist or anyone else who might be vaguely interested to read.

I’ve been on the diet for a couple of weeks now and so far, so good. I get the odd craving for bread and cakes but it’s not overwhelming and the variety of foods I’m trying to eat combined with experimenting with new recipes and Carl’s slow cooker has meant no boredom has set in. That said, I’ll not be shying away from the inevitable lapses I do have and looking at why these might have occurred and getting back on the right track again afterward.

I think I’m already starting to feel the effects – less up and down, less ‘afternoon dips’ of severe sleepiness around 3pm and a bit more energy. However I am finding certain things difficult, such as cutting right back on caffeine. So I suppose time will tell on how I get on with all.

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Health and happiness – it’s kind of personal

Pink Pad - a bloody brilliant app

Pink Pad - a bloody brilliant app

I’ve introduced a new category to this blog, ‘Health and happiness’ to chart a few changes I’m making to try and be…er…healthier and happier. (Just as a pre-warning, these posts will be quite personal – I’ve been inspired by Ellie Stonely to chart a journey I seem to be on.)

The lifestyle changes have come about following a surprise diagnosis of endometriosis after an operation in November. I didn’t really change anything about my lifestyle in reaction to the news at the time – no sooner had I taken stock than it was time to move to Cardiff. But now Carl and I are settling into our new home and things are calming down a little, I have a bit more time and headspace to devote to my health.

Although the diagnosis came as a shock, it kind of made sense to me once I’d worked out what endometriosis is. My periods have always been very long and painful, I just naively thought that that must be the norm as no Doctors I spoke to about it thought there was any cause for concern. Quite frankly, they’re a drag and in the first couple of days it’s always a choice between knocking myself out on painkillers (the Weekend Option) or gritting my teeth and getting on with things. To be honest in some ways the diagnosis was a kind of relief – I’d feared I must just be a bit weaker and whinier than most other women!

But, as my consultant explained, it also presented another problem, as 40% of women with endometriosis have trouble conceiving and the only way to find out if I’m one of them is to start trying. Erk. Carl and I had discussed having kids sooner or later but now my body was telling us that if we didn’t start trying sooner there may very well not be a later. We suddenly discovered that we weren’t as free to decide when and how (a natural childbirth is already out of the question) as we thought we were.

After we’d had time to digest and think and freak out and talk there was a return trip to the consultant to discuss our options. The conclusion of that was, as it’s causing some pretty painful symptoms and may be causing problems with conceiving, we’d wait until April and if I’m not pregnant by then I’ll undergo another operation to treat the endometriosis. No pressure, then. :-/

In the meantime I’m to keep a diary of my cycle and all the related symptoms I’m experiencing. I’ve never been very good at keeping track of my cycle, I had a vague idea but never got into the habit of marking dates, etc. Luckily a friend introduced me to the fantastic free iPhone app Pink Pad, proving beyond all doubt that there really is an app for everything. It’s a great little calendar app where you can chart your dates, physical symptoms, mood changes, when you’ve been ‘intimate’ (ahem) and notes for anything else. It uses the information you put in to work out the averages of your cycle and displays with a little flower when you should be more fertile. It’s perfect for any woman wanting to keep track of their cycle and how it’s affecting them.

So when (or if?) I next see the consultant and he asks to see my diary, it’s my iPhone rather than a pocketbook that I’ll be getting out of my handbag!

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