Monday, 10 February 2020

Where's the balance?

Today is one of those days where I woke this morning, smiling at life, I fed my babe, I prepped tonight's tea, I made the babes lunch, I packed the change bag and tidied the house, I was winning. When I went out at 12pm to my music class I was mum bossing it, I was on that high of this mum stuff is well easy, if this is how it is, keep it coming. Then the day ends with a huge glass of wine, my diary and a text to Sam with a blow your head emoji. I suddenly remember how quickly it all can change. So where is the balance, how can a day go so awol so quickly, I constantly go back to 'it's just a phase' but sometimes 'just a phase' is bloody hard!  I then remember the Monday's were I wasn't working out the needs of a 6 month old and my biggest challenge at home was what time to walk the dogs or what was the okay time to open the wine (with a baby it seems anytime after 4pm is okay).

The highs are so high, when those highs hit I am skipping with joy at my life, my love, my babe and my hounds. I look at that little brood and my heart melts, I look at that wee baby and remember how much we yearned, cried, pained and challenged ourselves for him. His beauty and innocence and forever smiling face of how pleased he is to be here.  I then feel that pang of guilt in that I miss my old ways and 'easy' life.  I feel bad that I sometimes wish he was older to communicate and allow me a sense of freedom, a sense of who I am. I then get an ounce of freedom and all I want is to be with my babe, the balance is so screwed in my own mind, how do I get it right or make sense of what it is I actually want.

The days feel easier the older he gets, as my hormones in some way calm down and a light shines as in 9wks I go back to work and work is part of my identity, however I then feel sad to be leaving this little beam of smiles and knowing I won't get this time again. However I can't deny I am looking forward to be part of a team again, a team that uses my brain, my knowledge and my expertise, bigger than the team I live in daily at the moment, just me and my babe where my brain is used minimally and it feels very repetitive.

 It's a crazy balance, maybe its winter that shifts these rhythms, maybe it's the newness of life with a small human, maybe it's the wild change I am going through and wanting to make sense of but really can't, maybe it's the change in my relationship I didn't expect or want but trying to reset and make sense of as these two different people, who whatever, are different to who they were 6 months ago.
One thing I do know is that it is a phase, it will change, I will look back and ask where has the time gone, I hold on to the magic of each day, like when Albie laughs at me for making a silly face, or he does something for the first time. I remember the want for this tiny human and although time has changed and I have changed, I am growing and that's not a bad thing, we are always developing and changing and although change can feel so unknown it can be good.

This whole process is unknown but I am trying to make sense of it and as each day passes I hope I am doing the best I can and hold on to myself in the best way possible.

I don't think finding the balance will every come easily but trying to adjust will and one thing I have learnt about myself in the last 6 months if you can raise a baby, you can do anything!

Monday, 13 January 2020

and then we hit 6 months.

Not yet, but nearly, its like another point in the many milestones of motherhood, my niece was born this weekend and it left me with all the feels, thinking about Albie's arrival into this world and those special moments straight after. Sam and I have spent a lot of this weekend talking about those first few hours and the difference in what we remember and chose to remember, there's a lot both of us have put in that box of 'things we don't like to think about' but there's real special moments of just us and Albie that warm my heart and make me feel such great love.

I thought Sam going back to work after Christmas was going to be hell,  i believed my anxiety monster would be back in full force and everything would feel so overwhelming, but surprisingly i have shocked myself (and Sam, i think) as it's not been too bad. I have a little pattern now of classes we go to, friends we see, popping into my Mum and Ron's, walking the dogs and suddenly being at home (alone) isn't such a challenge. I don't know what's changed, if it's me, Albie or both of us, but i suddenly feel like i know my little guy and i know what he enjoys and what noises means he wants change. He kind of naps, but those 20-30mins give me time to eat, drink tea, sometimes catch an episode of something and maintain my me time, which felt so lost at the start of this journey.

These first 6 months have been a rollercoaster, one i haven't always enjoyed, one i wouldn't change but one i wouldn't chose to repeat either. Having a baby is an amazing new chapter but it also closes an old one that when i reflect i wasn't fully ready to close. Maybe if the start of our journey with Albie had been smoother it may have been different but it wasn't and that i am coming to terms with slowly. I am recognising that the first part of our journey still impacts me, brand new babies are now not all squishy to me, there new, fragile and something im okay with not fully interacting with. I still feel tearful when i listen to my favourite playlist which was also our labour playlist, when i hear the song Skinny Love, by Bon Iver i could be back in that labour room, wishing something they did would help stop the pain, sadly i still remember nothing did until 5am that morning, 5hrs after they first administered the first epidural, it took for the 3rd one to make any impact. I have my birth reflection on Thursday which is where you go through your birth with a midwife, it helps process but also make sense of what happened and how traumatic it all was. I have chose to access counselling privately as i feel guilt at not enjoying my so longed for baby. I feel guilt that for 4/5 months i sometimes wondered what had i done and if i could survive the rest of my maternity leave. I feel guilty at one point i wanted to go back to work, i wanted to be away from this world i had just created and spent 6yrs trying to create.

What's changed i do recognise is i am ready to talk about this and i recognise those feelings i felt weren't only mine but so many others too, we just don't like talking about it.

Maybe this is why this 6 month mark feels easier now as i recognise i don't want to go back to work right now, yes in time when my maternity ends but right now i want to squeeze and giggle with Albie, i want to be present here with him. Sometimes days are boring, dull, repetitive but i am now starting to recognise i will never have this time again and i want to appreciate every minute as come April i am back at work and not with my babe every day.

I have realised i need to talk about what happened and i am ready to, it's painful and hard but it can't be locked in as it's not healthy for me, Sam and even more Albie. I want to grow him into a child who knows truth, speaks about his feelings, open's up and isn't misguided from the truth. How can i grow a child into all this things if i don't look after myself and support myself with what i have been through and what my mental health has.

We have so many words for those feelings after birth... baby blues, post natal depression, post traumatic stress... who knows what name i  have experienced, does it need a name? i just know making a baby, pregnancy, labour, birth then having a baby is a a massive assault of shock on the body, mind and life, everything has changed and people who say it's all okay i sadly just don't believe as how can anyone be that ready for such an attack of hormones and just take it in their stride. I read somewhere it takes eighteen months for those pesky hormones to calm down, well only another year left.

Whether my playlist always makes me cry, whether Albie's birth always brings back sadness, maybe i will always feel the guilt around how i felt when he first arrived, maybe the truth of Albie never having a sibling is because of how crazy this journey has been to bring him, whatever i know i am doing my best to adjust, make sense and enjoy the final stages of maternity leave. It's nice to know another rainbow appears and the journey feels somewhat brighter after such a storm.

Wednesday, 1 January 2020

2019 a year of reflection.

As my babe has his early morning nap and I drink my morning coffee it feels a perfect time to jot some words down and reflect on 2019 and what's to come in 2020.

It's been a wonderful year in many ways, the stream of texts I have received sharing nothing will beat this year as Albie was born, it's a strange one as although it was a year of greatness due to the birth of my long awaited boy there's a deep part of me that is definitely ready to say goodbye to 2019 and welcome 2020 with open arms.

2019 did bring us Albie but it also brought us 7 months of worry before he was born, questions of would we be lucky enough to get to 9 months, was this really happening for us, learning to understanding a new world of pregnancy and saying goodbye to an old world of fertility treatment (which yes is great but it's also all we have known for 6yrs and had defined part of me in a lot of ways). I also held and still do guilt that we got our rainbow baby and all my friends still in the struggle of fertility hadn't. I also wasn't ready to forget the journey to get Albie as much as others had, it is and was part of our journey and it isn't easy to just forget it.

Albie came with a huge bang and although my honesty is hard for others it wasn't the enjoyable few months I had imagined, he was our world but our world also felt like it had crashed down and shattered around us and my mental health plummeted. I never thought that would be the case for me as I firmly believed years of trying would only bring pure happiness. I didn't cry when he was born, I felt relief we had survived. I loved him but didn't know him and felt very confused by what I could provide and what others expected from me. I am still traumatised from the birth, something I so hoped wouldn't be the case.

Albie came along which was wonderful but the impact it had on me emotionally and physically and on our relationship hasn't been great. I move into 2020 with plans of how to take care of myself, I have started in the last few months writing more, swimming, making plans for adventures and even setting some exciting new projects up in my work ready for when I go back in April.

As Albie has become more 'human' and not a squirmy ball of squish I understand him, enjoy him and love him harder every day. I feel my fierce lioness protecting him but its took time and I am not ashamed to admit that.

I chose to write openly and honestly as I hate the lies that parents are forced or choose to give about parenting being this 'easy ride' this glow of perfect paternal beauty, maybe it is for some but from what I find, when your open and honest, you allow someone else to be too and that in itself is so empowering for Mum's but also women supporting women.

So 2020 brings me going back to work, a change in my hours meaning more time with Albie but also a good balance for me to find me, I have worked hard to specialise in what I do and I am not ready to lose that, I am more than Albie's Mum.

It brings a holiday to Malham, Portugal, Isle of Arran, Italy and Shambala festival and many more adhoc van adventures.

It brings Sam sharing maternity/paternity leave and having 3 months of with our wee boy.
Mostly it brings a year of focusing on us, the five of us, our little family, we are complete now, and I am ready to embrace us as a whole and start this year focusing on the beauty we have between us, putting 2019 to bed and moving forward with a year full of fun and adventure.

Sunday, 20 October 2019

The Big B’s

Were 3 months in and what a journey, it’s taken me till now to start finding the words to share our feeding journey, it’s also taking me 3 months to firmly accept where we are with it all and how feeding looks for us. I never realised the enormity of it all and pre pregnant me would have always said ‘if he needs a bottle then I am fine with that’ even looking at that statement makes me cringe as that’s where the root of the problem starts, I am already having to defend feeding with a bottle, why wouldn’t I be fine with that? Fed is fed right, after the years of trying to conceive the last thing I would chance was not feeding my baby, seems your head does crazy things when your placed in a challenging position where you feel you should be enough. 

Let’s roll back the years to 2006, when my boobs were HUGE and I made the decision to undergo breast reduction surgery i was informed the risk to breast feeding was there but as shared previously babies were the last thing on my mind. Therefore, when falling pregnant I always knew I may not be able to breastfeed, I told myself I was okay with that and stocked up on some bottles and pre-made formula to take in my bag. If the boobs didn’t work then at least the bottle was ready, i did however have some small hope as I had been showing signs of colostrum on my nipples, however I still told myself I was okay if it didn’t work for us, my midwife didn’t seem worried either so why would we. 

I have since found out I should have been referred to the specialist feeding workers for support in preparation to Albie being born. 

My labour was long, that’s for another blog but an element that’s important was my labour resulted in a c section, I am told a c section can interfere with breast feeding. I am also IVF and have been going through IVF for a number of years, meaning a hell of a lot of drugs have been pumped through my body, which again can cause problems in breast feeding and then to top it all off, I had my boobs lopped off, my nipples removed and stitched back on and more than likely my milk ducts damaged, so all in all things were looking bleak.

Albie came along with a hell of a bang, labour was traumatic, I was on a lot of drugs and my jaw was constantly heading west, meaning my brain was all over the place. When Albie went to latch the first thing I said was ‘are we allowed, Sam go ask the midwife’ to which my husband did and the lovely Rhian came and helped us latch him on and guess what, he fed, I wish I remember more of this feed but sadly I don’t, I have a photo and a blurry memory but what I do remember is something came out and they were happy with how he was feeding. This carried on into the night and the next day, we were checked a few times, and all seemed well, he was feeding, I was in shock and in all honesty wasn’t finding it too difficult. 

On day 3 the midwife came out, weighed him and he had gone down 13%, babies generally lose weight but it’s normally 10% max, as we had tipped over it resulted in lots of hospital appointments, harsh conversation and general frustration. The next 4 weeks turned into hell, and sadly gave us a very negative and unenjoyable first few weeks with Albie, we didn’t understand what we were doing wrong, we were doing what they asked but Albie still seemed so upset and cried a lot. We knew it wasn’t wind, reflux, colic and we were feeding him what we were being told but still had an unsatisfied babe. 

The clinic had us topping Albie up with formula, at first, they wanted him topped up with breast milk, however there wasn’t enough coming out in a feed so to try and express was just draining what there was in there. The top up’s we had to give in these sippy cups which were so awful and are used with premature babies, Albie was frustrated with them and we were stressed when trying to feed him. We were giving one ‘schedule’ by the midwife, which was then scrapped by the feeding specialist, which then changed when we were giving an appointment with another woman, by week 3 we had been giving 3 different ‘schedules’ to feed our babe but a still had a very sad unhappy baby. All 3 of us were breaking, and had no idea what to do, who to listen to or what was best, we also didn’t understand what was happening and how to make it right. 

When I read this back now, I scream at myself ‘HE WAS HUNGRY’ but at that point, when in the midst of it all I couldn’t work that out, maybe there was an element of ignorance, selfishness or dam right stupidity but when it actually came down to it what I realised was I didn’t want his main feed to be from a bottle, I wanted to feed my baby, I wanted to be what he needed, his nourishment, his drink, what helped him grow, I didn’t want formula to be that, I even asked Sam to call it his other milk as the word formula broke me, I felt I had failed and that word reminded me of that. 
The day I knew it needed to change was when he screamed, he screamed so much, and I cried, I asked him not to cry, I begged him not to and he carried on. My Mum turned up and held us both, she asked me what I felt was wrong, I again shared I didn’t know, we were doing what the clinic was telling us but he still wasn’t happy, mother hen made me look at a number of different things, we talked, we wrote lists, we narrowed it down, we thought fuck the clinic and I made him a bottle, a big bottle and together we fed him and he stopped crying, he nestled in and he was happy, he just needed a big feed, his tummy needed to be full and sadly however hard it was to admit I hadn’t been filling him up. 

From there we attended the clinic again and we told them OUR plan, we wanted to combine feed, they weren’t clapping for us but were supportive if that was our decision. 

Combined feeding hasn’t worked exactly for us, but I am still booby feeding or as I call it booby snacking, it’s comfort for me and him and although there isn’t much in there there’s something for him to enjoy. Combined feeding has allowed me to have time and space, since having Albie my mental health has been like a wave and it’s not having Albie that has done that but the pressure, medical treatment and unwarranted stress that has been put on me though out our whole fertility journey. By combi feeding Sam can take over, he can feed our babe and I can do what I need to do to look after me, I reflected a lot when I struggled with the bottle and started to realise when I was happy, he was, the bottle allowed that. 

I also have thought a lot about the pressure placed on women to feed, I see myself giving reasoning for why I bottle feed, explaining why I have made this choice, I then see I become part of the problem by being ashamed, I am now trying to be more proud and an advocate of bottle feeding and the benefits it can give. When did we as women become so less invaluable in this journey, motherhood is already hard enough without this other pressure, as a friend said ‘isn’t breast feeding just another way to shout women down’ powerful hey? I totally agree, if we don’t feel the guilt enough then isn’t breast vs bottle just another load right onto us. 

I am 3 months into this journey now and I am proud of myself, I feel the journey of boobing will soon end and I will be sad as I do enjoy this calm feed at night, but my babe loves to sleep and due to that he misses the night time snack out. I have giving him what he needs though, and he is deciding when he wants to stop, and I will be okay with that as overall, I know I have done the best I can for him. 

It took a while for me to bottle feed Albie out in public, I still don’t love it but I am better at it now, I still see judgement in others eyes but I sit tall and remember I am doing what I need to keep my baby alive and isn’t that the most important part in this whole feeding journey.

Saturday, 7 September 2019

The light at the end of the tunnel.

As we come near to the 6wk mark of Albie I finally understand what others  have said around 6wks feeling more manageable and there's definitely been a shift and change in how I am coping, crying and behaving. My labour and birth story is for another blog, when it's time and when I am ready, for now this blog is to process, focus and put some rambles down of how it's been and how unprepared I was for the emotional shift on my energy.

I haven't been diagnosed with depression but I know I have lows that can be very intense, I manage them, I have worked with them and been through years of therapy to understand them, since meeting Sam, my nest builder they haven't been as frequent, even through IVF he helped me manage those left field turns and always guided me back. As I have mentioned many times, Socks, our wonderful greyhound was also an instrumental part of keeping me well, due to these lows being so little over the last few years I never expected to feel anything but joy when Albie arrived. We had been trying for him for years and years, I had put my body through numerous rounds of IVF, medication and stress to have him, he was so wanted, of course joy was all I would feel. However how wrong I was, when I think I know myself, having a baby defiantly teaches you a lot more. 

To start with Albie was 10 days over, 12 days by the time he came earth side, my labour was intense, powerful and traumatic, we then had feeding issues due to past surgery, ivf drugs and c section, meaning the first few weeks with a newborn and the mix of the above was not plain sailing. It's a 6 week recovery period from c section, I had 0 hours, I was high as a kite due to the long labour, had suddenly gone through major surgery and was then passed a baby. 

We came home and the masses descended, family wanted a bit of this beautiful boy, we wanted them there but it didn't stop and when all I wanted was to be alone, I wasn't allowed as I needed to care for my boy and smile at the cooing everyone was giving him. 

The continuous questions of how is he feeding, are you breastfeeding, how was the labour, does he sleep, the expectations of what you should answer, what are people wanting to hear as I knew they didn't want the whole gory truth, that's a conversation stopper right there. These questions put extra strain, pressure and stress on me, I know people didn't mean to but I was vulnerable and being bombarded with powerful questions I wasn't in a place to manage.

When the question around a 2nd child came that was the truth blower. NO FUCKING WAY. The idea of doing all of the last few years again, it astonished me people would even ask, it's like think before you say something and also my child is 2 days old! 

What I had never realised was the expectation on myself, labour, feeding and being a new mum. The loss of Sam and I, who we were, the freedom of our life and our dogs this teeny being requiring everything from us. I cried a river those first few weeks at the loss of us, me and my life before Albie. I didn't for one not want him but I did at times want what I had back and realised the life we had built was great, this is the next adventure but at that moment I couldn't see to the end of the day, never mind a van holiday/festival fun. 

I don't want to label what I was feeling, who knows what it was extreme baby blues, post natal depression, one of my lows, newborn struggles, a sense of failure in feeding, mum guilt, loss, selfishness, maybe all of these things but I knew my brain wasn't right and I needed to tell someone.

Sam had started to work it out, he was calm, patient and went above and beyond to support me, even when at times being firmer may have helped him. My Mum quickly sussed and wrapped her love around me and helped me see what would help and what didn't. Mum allowed me to take back what I needed from this continuous assessment from health professionals around me and Albie's weight. I started to be more open and honest with myself and when I did that, things began to change, the fog lifted and I took control over how I fed Albie and ultimately cared for him.

No one tells you about weight checks, bleeding for 6weeks, possible injections for 6wks, pain that felt like bricks weighing me down, hormones and tears that are so powerful they take over, checks done by health professionals on the worst days of 'baby blues', the input of others and feeling like my baby wasn't my own, varying information and feeling like you have to stick with the line. My confidence was knocked but when I started to believe and trust in myself and my ability as a Mum I started to take it back and motherhood became more bearable and more joyful.

No one can share the honest truth as everyone's experiences is their own but one thing's for sure is nothing prepared me for what hit me, without the support in place and having people around it may have lasted longer, I cry every few days now rather than four times a day, however I am learning about myself, my boy, my husband and my dogs, we all have needs to be met at this new time and were slowly working them out together.

What I did start to realise was a sense of relief, it was all over, no more ivf, no more fertility questions, no more tears when others fell pregnant, no more pain and suffering around will we have a baby, he was here and this challenging period of fertility was now over. Some of those river tears I cried I believe were the sense of relief I didn't have to do any of that anymore.

and no, were not having anymore. 

Saturday, 20 July 2019

Those in between days!

I chose to end work 4 weeks to my due date, that was 1 weeks holiday and 3 weeks maternity, i had so many lovely plans with friends, family and baby bits to do that i felt it was the perfect amount of time for me. The reason for this was that i had a due date and obviously my baby was going to come before that! OH NO!

So we have two due dates, only us! The one the Centre of Life gave us and the one the Midwife gave us, we went with the Midwife one as it was the earlier date (obviously) it seems that's been and gone and still no babe, so we have moved to the next date! Due dates are something we look for and are given as part of the pregnancy journey, when really there picked from guestimations of dates, i was convinced ours would be more certain as were IVF, therefore the dates are pretty spot on. I did wonder if with this egg being frozen for a good few months would make a difference, and who knows, just like the due date, we won't know which is the correct date, which i guess is babies in general, constantly working out what's next and what feels right, up and down days, but attempting to stay positive and focused.

A friend text today the mantra i needed to hear 'my baby will come, when my baby is ready' the power in those words shifted my thinking and made me go yep baby sure will. I have tried all the old wives tales, more than once, i have walked and walked and walked and felt pressure like no other but still nothing and i have today accepted that's fine, as babe is just not ready yet. We have made some decisions of what feels right for our next steps for that little one inside, my mental well being and Sam's sanity and feel a nice suited plan for us 3 is being put in place. We also have our lovely dog walker on standby for picking up our fur babies so keeping her up to date and ensuring the pooches are cared for is a priority also. You get to a point where for me i have to make plans and see people as being in the house drives me mad, even more so with the Summer sun beaming down, so this week is about seeing friends, enjoying time where i can talk and hear their news and enjoying sunshine on my face and cake in mouth, thanking babe for giving me more space and time to catch up with important friends and take pleasure in the company and support they give.

There's still things for me to do here, i am putting a list together today and if things get done, great, if they don't they will at some point, but it's important to remember what feels right for me as if i am unhappy surely my baby will feel that, it also feels important to let the emotions i have pass, talk openly about them with Sam and friends and learn what feels right. It's such a huge process i am going through and i am definitely learning at every stage.

The waiting game especially leading up to that due date feels a game of trickery the body is vamping up, it's doing things i don't understand and making me feel every night labour may start, but it doesn't and the next day i wake up and start again, listening to what she, this body of mine wants me to know, what feels good and what doesn't but that soon something will happen and i will know, preparation is what i feel i am being giving in these waiting days and i am slowly holding on and making the most of it.

Monday, 15 July 2019

Maternal Healthcare - What did it look like for you?

It's been a strange process being in a 'system' of healthcare, monitoring, recording and ticking boxes. I have never realised the full impact of the 'pregnancy system' now i am sailing to the end of this journey i reflect on how let down i feel by the care I have been offered and being offered.
Since starting this fertility journey in 2015, I have attended more appointments then i can count and have been let down, disappointed and frustrated by so many inputs that have felt 'unhuman' at such a 'human' time. I don't want this blog to be a bashing of health professionals as wow there are some amazing one's out there, but what is interesting is the de humanisation jobs become for some and the impact that then has on the people accessing it.

The IVF process was mind blowing to us, we didn't know what to expect, we didn't know we had choices and we went with what was giving to us as we were so lost in a world of unknown. After every loss, explanations were brief and information was shared that wasn't helpful or didn't make sense. I remember one appointment being informed my miscarriage was a 'chemical miscarriage' so wasn't classed as a 'proper' miscarriage. For someone falling pregnant any loss is a loss, and to be informed that from a health professional was a huge blow. This same professional informed me my surgery properly wasn't the reason I had falling pregnant, again taking away any hope I had mustered up. It's strange the way people feel they need to say this stuff, sometimes some things are better left unsaid. It was from these appointments I started to learn more about my body and really connect with what was going on with it. I started to engage in the clinic in the way I needed too but use research as a tool to how i could support myself, something I wrote more about that here How to try and grow a baby!- I knew I was choosing to be in this healthcare system as we were committed and knew the help was what we needed however I chose to challenge and do what felt was best for me, which helped me feel I was taking control of what was happening and contesting anything that I didn't agree or believe.

I find as i talk to others, they feel worried or scared about doing this, going against the system of care we should be grateful for and yes i am but actually taking a step back, this is my body and my mental health and shouldn't i be looking after myself in all this?.

When falling pregnant we moved into the next 'system', we were quickly discharged from the clinic which felt scary as although they had challenged us in some unhealthy ways there was a weird safety developed through those appointments and that medical care. We had a scan at 7 weeks and found a peanut sized baby and a beating heart, from there it was to the doctors and the 'normal' maternal care. I was so excited and nervous for that first appointment, however was sadly disappointed as my midwife was tired, informed me of this, became quite stressed at the computer and paid no attention to us being an IVF pregnancy and any worries I held around this. Maybe there was a lack of education, maybe there was no need to be worried or maybe I just wanted more nurture and care at a time I was so happy but so incredibly nervous.

I left that appointment sad, let down and the excitement i thought i would feel dissipated quickly.
A number of years back I decided I wanted to be a midwife, I wanted to specialise in substance misuse or young people and felt I had the skills and care that could be offered in this role. I sadly wasn't accepted (due to my maths GCSE) however now look back and realise the medical side would have challenged me as what I have learnt and seen is that it is very medical in a lot of ways. I feel I can see a new branch of care coming through from the students I have worked with, maybe that's a varying approach or maybe it's new blood in the job, whatever it has that care has felt warm and supportive, however there still seems a set of procedures to tick and boxes to fill.

One of the things I have learnt in this long journey is what my needs are and what I want from this pregnancy, I have learnt from friends about their experiences and this has allowed me to make informed decisions about what I want and what feels right for me and my baby.

I don't agree we should have to just 'get on with it' as that's what it's always been like, how many times do we hear, well you didn't have that choice years ago, did you not or where we all just too scared to go against a system of care that develops fear and anxiety within us.

With being an IVF pregnancy they like to induce you at 40wks (your due date), I knew induction wasn't something I wanted (if it could be avoided), I therefore knew I would go to 42wks before this decision needed to be made. The NHS guidelines are now at 41wks, however only moved from 42 a few years back. Induction was first discussed with me very early on, my midwife didn't give me enough solid information to make me feel it was something that was necessary so I chose that I would refuse the 40wk induction. I am also part of a North East birthing group and enquired on this, finding out the risk was possibly around women over 40. I was then asked if I would like to be booked in at 41wks, which I refused and finally agreed at 42wks, with a statement of 'maternal choice' written down in my notes. What makes me frustrated around all this is the essence induction is discussed so early, like it's become a standard way of birthing, yes it is needed at times but do we need to be introducing into conversation so early?

Then there's the graph, the graph of anxiety, the graph that every women whatever shape or size you are, you have to stay on the graph and if you don't well it's time to head to hospital for another scan (bearing in mind this is all measured with a tape measure). I understand every doctors surgery can't have fancy scanning machines but that line needs to lend a little. Which I guess is why I am blogging as I feel the NHS system needs to become flexible with women's rights and needs around birthing.
I spoke to a friend recently and she asked if it's okay for me to have all these wants from my birth, I was astonished that in 2019 we still aren't fully informed or aware, that the birth is our birth, ours and our babies, meaning it's our choice how it happens as it's one of the most powerful experiences we will go through, it's the first journey you do together mother and child, shouldn't that therefore be your choice.

Conversations are hard and what i have learnt is that EVERYONE has an opinion, you take what you want, you chose what feels best, there's no right or wrong as it's what's right for you, but for me it feels this intrinsic sense of the NHS guidelines isn't always right and we should be encouraged to be flexible and not always feel we are harming our babies by not ticking the boxes. I drank wine throughout my pregnancy, the odd glass when i wanted it from the 2nd trimester, i ate soft cheese and runny eggs. I went to gigs, i walked miles and miles in Scotland on holiday, i taught yoga from day dot, i carried things around, i slowed down when my body told me too but i lived my life the way it felt right. I chose not to tell my midwife as i told her one thing and the concern on her face made me stop instantly. It's what's right for you and none of the above maybe but for me i knew what my body needed/wanted and what made me happy and surely if i am happy my baby is.

I feel lucky to be educated through friends and my own reading, I have taken a lot from instagram accounts such as Olivia at The Birth Rising and Emma at Mamalina around going slow, listening to your body and your birth rights. I have also been influenced by some incredible friends, by their honest sharing and empowering birth stories, there talking has allowed me direction in my own pregnancy and hopefully allowing me to make the right decision's for myself and my growing family.