Category Archives: Health & Wellbeing

Harmony Yoga Ireland

Harmony Yoga Ireland

Harmony Yoga Ireland

Harmony Yoga Ireland has been running since 2004 and offers classes and training for Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond.
Owner Gail has been a massage therapist since 2000 and specializes in Pregnancy and Birth.
Class that are offered through Harmony Yoga Ireland are Pregnancy Yoga, Infant Massage, Baby Yoga and Toddler Yoga.

 

New to Harmony Yoga Ireland is placenta encapsulating which helps new mums bounce back after birth.
For more information go to: The Harmony Yoga Official Website

Feeling Lost After A Short Cut

Due to my baba being breached right up to 38 weeks, he was delivered by a planned cesarean section. I suppose what I want to write about, is the mental and physical aspects on a mothers mind and body from having a baby by cesarean.

My story is that it was planned, so it almost took away from the nervous excitment of “not knowing when the baby will come” but yet there was a convinience to it all.
The whole thing was very clinical, you go into an operating room, and to be fair, you are very distracted to the whole thing because all the practitioners and nurses keep you so. Which is great let me tell you!! But, at the same time, the baby is out, before you even realise or are able to process what is kind if going on. And literally, what seemed like a few minutes since lying on the table in the first place, and there he was. My first born.
He was taken off to be cleaned, but unlike what you expect from TV, he was not lifted straight away onto my chest. I was all sewn up, which did not even take that long either. After been closed up, baba was in my arms and I was wheeled into the recovery room. Now, slightly off the record for a second, when he was born the song we danced to for our wedding first dance happened to be playing on the radio, and it was a really meaningful, weird, destiny type moment. It was Green Day, Time of your Life.
Back on track now…because my body had not gone into labour as such, my breast milk would not flow, so I put baba onto a bottle because he was so hungry. Then, within about an hour I was back in my ward room with the feeling nearly totally back in my legs. Now, the pain afterwards in my stomach area was hard going, even with morphine, and for a good while after. But that was expected. What I was stunned by was the emotional and mental after effects to it all.
I want to share this, because I had a great support at home with my husband, but I can see how other people may have felt down or lost by the mental after effects of a section over a natural birth. Because I did.
Natural birth is what you mentally prepare yourself for, the entire pregnancy. You brace yourself for a pain you cannot imagine, and an experience your body is able to endure, both mentally and physically. But with a ceserean, the pain is much different, and even your body knows it without experiencing the alternative. But, it is not for a few days after you start, or at least I did, to think or feel, as though you were just sort of well, handed your baby… like you did not do any of the work your body was prepared for. The moment you had been building up to, delivering your child ‘as normal’, just never happened. I did not feel any less love, or connection, or attachment to Leon, but somehow, I felt I had missed out on actually giving birth to my son. Because, in a manner of speaking, I didnt.
I can understand that many mothers out there could end up feeling some sort of guilt for that, and I just want to share my experience, in case it would help someone who may feel down, or depressed or worried about what it all means. Mums, your body did endure a lot, and your mind endured a lot. We had prepared to go through natural labour, but for whatever the reasons were, we had to just bring baby out via a short cut. And now baba is here. It does not mattter how they got here, because we got them here safely…. and that, is the most important end to any pregnancy, yes?
Admittedly, because of the section I felt a little lost after, but it is ok to admit this, I think it is important not to be afraid of how you feel, and I hope if this even reaches one person doubting themselves, then it was an article worth the time written.
And remember, sometimes the most natural thing in the world, is to get lost on a short cut…. there is no need to beat yourself up because of it.

Fundraise for Breast Cancer Research on Jan 6th

NCBRI

 Nollaig na mBan

Women Making a Difference Together Campaign

 Nollaig na mBan, also known as Women’s Little Christmas is an old Irish Tradition, celebrated on January 6th each year to recognise the important role of women during the Christmas Season and throughout the year.

It’s a day where you should let the hair down and relax after the hustle and bustle of Christmas and it’s a great way to celebrate what you have achieved personally and professionally during the year.

This year, The National Breast Cancer Research Institute (NBCRI) are asking women to get together with their family, friends, colleagues and class mates to host an event to raise awareness and funds for Breast Cancer Research in Ireland.

The National Breast Cancer Research Institute in a national charity based in Galway. The key objective of the charity is to conduct relevant research into the biology of breast cancer. Unfortunately, 1 in 10 women in Ireland will develop breast cancer during their lifetime. Continued research helps improves treatments and outcomes for these women.

There are many ways women (and men) can get involved in their homes, communities and work places to support this campaign. It’s a day for women of all ages and all interests so everyone can get involved.

Some event ideas include:

  • Host a coffee morning or bake sale in your home or community
  • Organise a challenge with friends – run, walk, swim, climb or even skip for breast cancer research!
  • Get together with work mates to do something fun in work
  • Host a dinner or lunch at home or in a larger venue with friends
  • Gather all your unwanted Christmas Gifts for a “bring and buy” sale
  • Speak to your principal or class rep to organise a fundraiser with your class mates
  • Have a friendly sports game

There are lots of ways you can help, you can see some more ideas here on our campaign site http://www.nollaignamban.com/.

It doesn’t matter how many people get involved in an event, all awareness and funds raised will make a difference.

Each event host will receive a fundraising pack with posters and balloons for their event.

Registering an event is easy and can be done online at http://www.nollaignamban.com/register/

For more information on the work of The National Breast Cancer Research Institute (NBCRI) you can visit our main site at www.nbcri.ie (Please note that this site is currently under reconstruction)

See more information on the official Nollaig na mBan Facebook Page

 

 

 

 

 

Healthy Mammy, Healthy Baby

Exercise and Lifestyle tips for Great Health Before, During & After Pregnancy

Nutrition:

Before, During & After

Women who are pregnant or trying to conceive should eat an unprocessed, varied diet rich in fruit and vegetables, wholegrains, fish and lean meats to get the nutrients their body needs for optimal fertility.

Zinc is essential for fertility and pregnancy. Great sources of zinc are beef, lamb, wheat germ, spinach and pumpkin seeds.

Omega 3 essential fatty acids are also important before, throughout and after pregnancy. Omega 3 helps to balance hormones and reduce stress. During pregnancy it is essential for the formation of the baby’s brain and eyes. It also reduces your risk of post natal depression and preeclampsia. Omega 3 is found in seafood such as salmon and mackerel. Other good sources are walnuts, spirulina and flax.

Stocking up on your iron reserves before pregnancy is important to prevent postpartum anaemia, as your iron needs during pregnancy significantly increase. Iron is found in dark green leafy veg such spinach as well as red meat. If you are vegan, make sure that you are supplementing with B12, as this vitamin is needed for proper iron absorption and is not found in fruit, veg or grains.

Everyone knows that you need folic acid before and during pregnancy. Supplementation is often advised to prevent developmental problems, such as neural tube defects, which can occur due to deficiency. Folic acid is naturally found in greens such as spinach, asparagus and broccoli. It is also in citrus fruits, bananas, strawberries, peas, beans and lentils.

Calcium needs increase during pregnancy. Calcium from dark green leafy vegetables is actually absorbed better than calcium from dairy. Green leafy veg is also a great source of vitamin K, which is needed for calcium absorption.

Vitamin D is really important for bone growth of your baby during the latter half of pregnancy. New babies get vitamin D from their mother’s breast milk. Vitamin D deficiency in infants is linked with rickets, poor immune function and developmental delays. It is also important for the mother, as low levels during pregnancy are associated with preeclampsia, caesarean section and bacterial vaginosis. Vitamin D deficiency is widespread in countries higher up in the northern hemisphere, such as Ireland. Furthermore, dietary forms of vitamin D are inadequate, so unless you are getting outside into some sunshine for at least 20 minutes a day you should consider supplementing with vitamin D3.

Foods to watch

Cut out the refined carbs, which can hurt your chances of conceiving, especially if you have PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome). Refined carbs can affect your insulin and cortisol levels, which in turn can wreak havoc on your hormones.

Other thing to limit or avoid are alcohol, caffeine, smoking, cod liver oil (high in vitamin A) and tinned tuna (potentially high in mercury).

Exercise:

When trying to conceive

Exercise is important for overall health and fertility. If you are planning to get pregnant you should avoid doing too much high intensity exercise such as running as this can negatively impact fertility.

During Pregnancy

Exercise during pregnancy is associated with numerous health benefits for both mother and the baby. Mothers who exercise during pregnancy are less likely to need a caesarean section, are out of hospital faster and have a shorter active labour. Prenatal exercise helps to prevent excess weight gain and lower back pain. Exercise during pregnancy also offers psychological benefits, helping to improve body image and reduce depression!

It is important that pregnant women engage in exercises that are safe in pregnancy, such as walking, Pilates, swimming and yoga. High intensity exercises such as running can be fine if the woman has already been exercising at that level for some time, however advice from a physician is advisable.

Pilates is a great option both during and after pregnancy as it improves core and pelvic floor strength, spinal and joint mobility, posture, breath control, balance and coordination. Strengthening the pelvic floor muscles during and after pregnancy can help prevent urinary incontinence as well as producing strong and well controlled muscles that facilitate labour.

Post Pregnancy

If you have had an uncomplicated vaginal delivery, you can generally start exercising as soon as you feel able. Exercise after pregnancy helps to get your body back into shape. In addition it can boost mood, energy levels and relieve stress. Post pregnancy classes can be sociable as they are a great way to meet other mothers. Pilates after pregnancy helps to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles that can be weakened or damaged during childbirth.

For more on the services that Finesse offer, see: Finesse on Facebook

 

***If you are concerned about any area of your physical health before or after conception, please take advice from a medical professional***

[Did you miss ‘3 Things Not To Say To A Pregnant Lady’? Watch it HERE]

 

Post-Baby Weight Loss.

It took me a year to lose the baby weight after Jacob was born. A full year, to the day. I am normally at my happiest, healthiest, skin, hair-and-nails-bestest at 9 stone. Despite determining to ingest a diet of only Bran Flakes and plain Digestive biscuits when I was a teenager, I was disappointingly never anorexic and stayed at 9 stone.  Ecstasy landed on our shores right as I was hitting my late teens, discovering clubbing, Ibiza and all the celebrity DJs I wished to shag. I was ripe for a mild amphetamine addiction that might have contributed to the perfect ‘Stripper Body’ that was so chic and so thin. But alas, I much preferred dancing to drugging, and my over-powering vanity refused to let me chew the face off myself whilst rocking a neon pink PVC skirt. I mean – why ruin a perfectly well assembled outfit? Stayed at 9 stone…

The only time I really ever lost weight was when I got the chicken pox at the grand ol’ age of 29. That’s right, not the shingles, the chicken pox. On consultation with my mother afterwards, she indicated that she was ‘pretty sure’ that I had them as a child, and promised to cast her mind back after dinner. I’m still waiting for her feedback. That I’m her first child and only daughter, and she still can’t remember, shouldn’t be worrying at all… Ahem!

I got those chicken pox everywhere, and I mean everywhere… but the most of them were in my throat and threatened to close over my wind pipe. This not only delighted my entire group of friends and family that I would be unable to speak for several days (at least), but it meant that I had to survive on a diet of Ready Brek and Petite Filous for two weeks. By which time I was seven and a half stone, right in time for Xmas. (Nothing like a pre-Xmas Pox Attack to get you into that tiny black dress ;o) )

The thing is, I really like my grub, and when I was pregnant, my taste buds burst open (partly due, no doubt, to the fact that I quit smoking when I knew I was up the duff) – and I loved, loved, LOVED my grub. I enjoyed eating in, eating out, planning the big Sunday roast, shoving tubs full of ice cream down my throat and could most days be found with my head stuck in the fridge. I was active though too; I went swimming, took pre-natal yoga classes and of course, walked Pearl every day. I planned to put on 2 stone by the time Jacob’s due date came around and by jesus, I stuck to that plan. I was never one to turn down a challenge.

I must admit, I had a fair few days where I bemoaned my new body shape after Jacob was born. There was no firm bump any more, that I could point to and say, ‘Here!! This is what that extra two stone is about!’. My bump was deflated, my body was slowly easing itself back into pre-baby shape, my boobs were trying to remember that they’d only ever been a modest 34B and I had to admit that baby had, in fact, only contributed to about half of the weight I’d put on!

I didn’t try to lose the weight straight away – I was tired, and tired = chocolate. There wasn’t a 2am or 4am or, ok, a 3pm feed for the baby that wasn’t accompanied by chocolate mints for me from the fridge. I mean, for god’s sake, I was hungry too! I made a big song and dance about attending a hot yoga course when Jacob was a couple of months old, but to be honest, it was more for the sleepy lying-down bit than anything else.

It wasn’t until we moved to Chapelizod and I had the rolling hills of the Phoenix Park, to both simultaneously drag the dog and push the buggy up and down, that the weight began to really fall off. It was a slow and enjoyable process and quite literally, when he turned one, I was back to my 9 stone self. I don’t have the privilege of being able to fork out for a tummy tuck straight after the baby was born like some richy-poo people, and really, I’m not sure how natural that is anyway. Shouldn’t we just give ourselves a break and do our best?

And for the record – I think my body is better now than it was before I got pregnant. I’m so much more proud of it because it did this super amazing thing, you know. It gave me my son.

IMG_1799

‘The Villager’, Chapelizod
Paddy’s Day 2012

 

 

 

Infant Communication

It’s never too early to communicate with your baby. A lot of mothers report feeling connected with their unborn babies and even dads can get in on the act by talking to the bump. Your baby develops hearing at about the 18th week of pregnancy and they are born already able to recognise their mother’s, and often father’s, voice. A new born will be comforted by the sound of his parents’ voices and their heartbeats as they hold him to their chest. Having spent 9 months safely cocooned inside listening to his mother’s heartbeat, the gurgling of her stomach and the gentle swooshing of amniotic fluid, the outside world must come as something of a surprise to a tiny baby. It is reported that babies who are held/carried/worn in the first six months cry less than those who spend more time in cribs, car seats and bouncers. The notion of ‘spoiling’ a baby by picking her up when she cries is outdated. Now, with the help of neuroscience, we can see that the earliest forms of communication between parents and their baby literally helps to shape baby’s brain, and determine how that amazing brain develops.

In her book You Are My World, Amy Hatkoff tells us: “Research now shows that the single most important factor in shaping a child’s future is the quality of the attachment to the parent. It has been confirmed that children who have secure attachments to their parents have more positive outcomes in a range of area including personality development, learning, and the ability to form healthy relationships.”

So what are the best ways to communicate with your baby in the first year of their life?

Firstly, touch. The simple act of holding, stroking, kissing and massaging your baby is the most basic and wonderful form of communication. When your baby experiences loving skin to skin contact they are flooded with Oxytocin, the ‘love’ hormone. This tells them that everything is ok, that they are being protected. It shows them that they are loved, that they are lovable. When this trust is built up in a baby it allows them to form lifelong healthy relationships. By spending time like this with your baby you will also learn to read his cues. You will notice when he wants to cuddle, coo and play; and when he wants some quiet time to relax on his own. Each baby is individual and will have their own unique personality and needs, and you, as his parents, will get to know him best through these loving interactions.

Eye contact is of great importance. When you gaze lovingly into your newborns eyes, you help to develop her self-awareness and sensitivity to others. What may seem like a simple act is actually helping to build healthy neural pathways in her brain. Babies aren’t shy and will simply adore staring at you and listening to your chat. She will even try to mimic you from just a few weeks old. The call and response of your talk and her babble form the basis for language acquisition and turn-taking, and strengthen the bond between you.

Like talking, singing to your baby will help reinforce that loving feeling and also introduces basic speech and language to him. The only way a baby will ever learn to speak is by being spoken to! And using songs, poems, rhythm, rhyme and repetition are fun and happy ways to increase your baby’s awareness of language and boost her vocabulary.

Speaking of boosting vocabulary, did you know that it’s never too early to read to your baby? In the first few weeks, they will enjoy black and white picture books with strong contrasting images. Later they will love to look at bright and colourful picture books as you narrate the story to them. Don’t forget to talk about everything you see in the book and ask questions about it all. “Do you see the dog? How many balls are there? What colour is the tractor?”. This interactive, or dialogic, reading will serve to introduce a rich vocabulary of words to your little one who will be happy to snuggle on your lap and read the same books over and over.

The power of music has been well documented over the years. Many people believe Mozart can boost your baby’s brain but the good news is Metallica will do just as nicely! Introduce a wide range of music to your baby and dance them around the kitchen like nobody’s watching. Gently rocking your baby to lullabies can sooth him at bedtime while swinging a little faster to a pop song will have him giggling his socks off. And as much as music can lift your soul, there is evidence that it can boost creativity too. So it’s a win/win for music appreciation!

In the later half of baby’s first year, introducing sign language can be a fantastic communication tool. You can sign with your baby from birth but at around 7 or 8 months they will develop the fine motor skills to sign back. It’s simple and it’s fun, and using simple signs with your baby has been shown to increase the parent/child bond, reduce frustration and tantrums, and accelerate speech. Research shows that responding to a baby’s cues are more important to brain development than any structured learning activity. Babies who feel understood learn more easily, have a positive sense of self, develop empathy and have a greater sense of who they are.

Peggy O’Mara, health and family expert said “The way you talk to your children becomes their inner voice.” I believe this begins from the very first time you talk to your baby. If you get in the habit of speaking with love and honesty to your child then this will set up a lifetime of positive communication. Of course there will be challenging times along the parenting journey – times when there may be anger, frustration, misunderstanding and miscommunication between parent and child – but if the groundwork of healthy, respectful relationship is laid then it won’t be such a long journey back to really connecting with your little one.

Happy communicating!

 

**Visit the ‘SuperHands Baby Sign Language’ website here: SuperHands Official Website

SuperHands

Like most first time mums, I spent the first three months on my couch nursing a baby & watching endless episodes of Dexter and Greys Anatomy. So, as we approached month four, I started looking for things to ‘do’ with Penny, that didn’t include finding another theme tune that would lull her to sleep.

I had heard about sign language to help babies communicate from my brother in law, and a few friends who had taught their children some signs at an early age. I loved the idea of being able to understand what Penny needed and wanted, especially as I had realised that babies don’t come with that instruction booklet I had hoped for.

A lovely woman called Danielle ran a Superhands class in Bellermine Community Rooms. We were in a group with three other mums and babies, who were all a few months older than Penny. The room was lovely and bright and clean, and Danielle explained we could let the babies do as they pleased throughout the class. On that note, realising Dexter would not be shown, Miss Penny buried her head back to her milk, and off she went to sleep. The older babies got involved though.

There were some clear posters on the wall, with the alphabet and the words to some simple rhymes. Starting with the alphabet, we slowly began to sing and sign our way from A to Z. Very slowly. Our homework was to learn our name, and our child’s. Practice made perfect, and by the start of the second class, we could introduce ourselves, our child, and do a fantastic rendition of Incy Wincy Spider!

On the last day of the course, we were given a list of over a hundred words, some which we had specifically asked for, and the amazing Superhands book. The book is lovely, with clear illustrations and instructions and soon became a firm favourite with Penny. We were advised to use one sign to start, so almost without fail, I signed ‘milk’ everytime Penny fed. Which, was (and still is!) a lot. At 8 months old, she started signing milk back to me, and a few weeks later requesting it with her sign.

From there, she learned the sign for Daddy, and biscuit, which we use for any sort of snack. I’m not great at sharing my chocolate digestives with her, but she was happy with a rice cake. We would read the book every few days, and introduce words as and when she needed them.

Penny is 14 months old now, and will sit with her Superhands book, and ‘read’ it to herself. She never gets frustrated as she can ask for everything she wants, and usually gets it, unless of course it’s those valuable digestives! Introducing the words please and thank you recently, mean it’s near impossible to say no to her.

As of the last couple of weeks, she now requests a nappy change as soon as she is wet, signing ‘change’ and ‘nappy’. This will be a great help when we start potty training. Her words are coming along too, and as she gets them, she just adds it in while signing. A favourite is saying and signing ‘fast’ as she watches cars drive by.

Baby signing is a huge help in the first couple of years of a child’s life. Attending a SuperHands class would be something I’d recommend to all new parents, but unlike us, I would consider waiting until the baby is 5 and a half to six months old.

***To see the marvelous Penny in action, watch the truly amazing video below!

For information on classes and to order the book, visit www.superhands.ie

Midnight Baby Drug Run

Last month, I attended an awesome US vaudeville show called Pretty Things Peepshow. The amazing crew that is Dr. Sketchys Dublin hosted the event at The Twisted Pepper. There was burlesque, and circus tricks, drinking and a little lady person swallowing balloons that were three times as long as her body. I had front row seats and the time of my fucking life.

Video: The End Of The Night (that IS me screaming with joy)

Then I got outside afterwards and turned my phone on.

‘Please bring home baby Neurofen’, flashed up on my phone.

I checked the clock – it was just after 11. I was pretty sure that the chemist on Dame Street was open til midnight so I shot over in the car. Doors closed. Shiiit. Phonecalls home were getting a little more upsetting, as I could hear Jacob crying away in the background, who had a high temperature and a sore throat.

‘Have we seriously got no drugs in the house?!’ I asked Ass Monkey.

‘None. Not a Calpol, not a Neurofen, not even that weird Phenergen stuff that certain folks use to sedate their kids with for a good nights’ sleep’, he replied.

Silence descended on our phonecall, aside from, of course, Jacob’s constant wails in the background. He had been sick for three days and we hadn’t topped up the baby drugs supplies. We were shit parents.

I got out of the car and went searching, keeping Ass Monkey on the line for updates, and for the Anneka Rice-like dramatic effect, so my boys would know how serious I was about my mission.

‘Jacob!!’ I yelled down the phone, running towards George’s Street. ‘Don’t worry – I promise mammy is going to get some drugs for you!’. I’m pretty sure two junkies, one prostitute and one lesbian headed for The George started following me at that point.

I burst into the Centra on the corner of Dame and George’s Street, frantically searching all the shelves behind the counter.

‘Seriously – they sell condoms here, whiskey, Gaviscon, paracetamol and hairspray – but no fucking baby Neurofen. What is wrong with this picture?!’ I shouted to Ass Monkey down the phone, trying to rack my brains for the next best plan. ‘Ok, who do we know who has a baby who lives nearby? We need somebody who has a baby and some fucking drugs!’

Again, not the greatest of things to be shouting about in public.

However, as fate would have it, at that precise moment, I heard my name being called. I turned, and who did I see but my good pal Sorcha, who had just been on a night out with the girls, and who had just had babba number 2.

‘Great to see you, you look amazing (she did), hope the babies are great….Em, any chance I can score some drugs off you?!’

Cut to twenty minutes later and I’m driving around the dark Rialto streets trying to find Sorcha’s house. She’s given her hubby the heads up that I’m on the way, and I’ve let Ass Monkey know that mammy has it sorted.

As I pulled away from Sorcha and Kieron’s house, with my half bottle of Baby Neurofen, a couple of suppositories and a handful of chamomile tabs, I thought about how lucky we are to know such great people and how serendipitious it can be to live in Dublin sometimes.  How amazing that I would have actually met the one person that I needed that night to help get Jacob back on track, temperature down and feeling well again.

But also, how it was the WEIRDEST drug run I’ve ever done in my life ;o)

 

**PS I’m told that Boots in Blanchardstown Village Old S.C. opens til midnight.

**PPS I’m also told that Tesco in Dundrum is 24 hours and sell Calpol

**PPPS We currently have 3 bottles of Calpol and 4 bottles of Baby Neurofen in our press. That’s not to say we won’t get caught again, but we’ll try not to ;o)

 

 

 

 

 

My dog saved me from post-natal depression

In July 2010, I got my own way for probably the first time in my relationship with Ass Monkey. We got a puppy; a beautiful, tiny little white ball of West Highland Terrier fluff called Pearl. She was eight weeks old when we brought her home, and her terrified, palm-sized self shook as I held her to my chest all the way in the car. Thankfully, she had the decency not to shit or wee on me – I knew we already had an understanding.

Pearl

Pearl

The first couple of weeks with her were not unlike having a newborn in the house. We woke to her cries during the night and would go to her little box of a bed in the sitting room, lift her out and hold her until she went back to sleep. I used this time to re-watch Will & Grace from start to finish (as if I needed an excuse). Once, during a particularly funny episode where Jack mistakes the real Cher for a drag Queen impersonator, Pearl placed her tiny paw on my arm and let out a contented sigh in her sleep, communicating that she trusted me and that I was her new protector. I am only slightly mortified to say that this tiny gesture moved me so much that I bawled my head off and whisper-promised to her that I would look after her forever. As if she understood English, which is both stupid from a ‘She was only 8 weeks old’ perspective and the fact that she’s a dog. I know.

By the following January, I was pregnant and Pearl was a great source of help and comfort to me. She kept me active by demanding to be walked around the great big football fields by our house and when I rested on the couch or in bed (she still slept in our bed every night in those days!), she snuggled right in beside the bump – warming me, protecting what was ours.

IMG_0605Not only did people ask me the usual questions when I was pregnant:

  1. ‘Oh my god did you plan it?’ (Ass Monkey and I aren’t married, but I was, you know 34)
  2. ‘What do you mean, you’re four months gone – do you not know how many weeks that is?’
  3. ‘You got a second hand cot? Did you know the use of secondhand mattresses leads directly to cot death?’

They also always asked: What are you going to do about Pearl??

At first, I used to stutter and blubber through my answers; ‘Oh we’re just going to keep a very close eye on her with the baby, she’s very kind natured, it’ll be fine’, etc. But then I started getting pissed off. What did that mean, what was I going to do about her? She was a tiny white puppy for christ’s sake, I’d think – not a f*cking paedophile. Eventually, just out of devilment, I used to look these questioners right in the eye and sincerely reply; ‘As soon as the baby comes along, we’re just going to have her put down. Thanks for asking’.

Pearl and Jacob having a nap

Pearl and Jacob having a nap

The day I went into labour, I wouldn’t leave the house for the hospital, until someone came to get Pearl. I was crying because I didn’t want to leave her. My mum was there, promising she wouldn’t leave until Ass Monkey’s sister came along to pick her up. It was arranged that Pearl would go on holidays for a week. At the end of that week, we were only just back with our little babba Jacob, and even though Ass Monkey’s sister had offered to take Pearl for longer, I wouldn’t have it & wanted her home. I lifted her up to see and sniff little Jacob in his moses basket and she wagged her tail. Phew, we all sighed – she doesn’t seem to want to eat him.

Twenty minutes later, she was scratching at the front door. Walkies. Twenty minutes after that, I figured out how to assemble the pram, put the baby in it, find my runners and get us all out the door. If I walked for five minutes that day, I was lucky. My body wasn’t quite able for it yet. But every day, Pearl stood at that door, and demanded to be walked. And even if I didn’t feel like it; even if had spent two hours crying because I was exhausted and felt overwhelmed; even if the house was upside down, my leggings were on inside out and the washing machine had leaked all over the floor – Pearl got walked.

When I think about it, and my emotional state generally, I think Pearl saved me. I had suffered with depression here and there over the years and really anticipated that it might kick in again after the baby was born.  It didn’t happen. All those walks helped me to lose the baby weight, got me out of the house, forced some fresh air into my lungs, got me away from the trudge of working from home and noticing all those dirty corners that you think need cleaning (you don’t).

We of course kept a very close eye on Pearl when she was around Jacob, particularly when he started crawling because she was so freaked out!! These days, I mostly try to keep Jacob away from her, so that he doesn’t pull her tail/feed her chocolate/shove his toy cars up her arse. Mostly, they’re great friends. It’s just as well we didn’t have her put down after all ;o)

 

Jacob and Pearl

Jacob and Pearl

Birth By Denial

I have a countdown app on my phone. Normally it counts down to holidays, concerts on school nights and spa breaks that I accidentally put on the credit card. Things to look forward to as I obsessively click on the app in work, daydreaming of not being stuck under the desk. I should probably explain that last bit. I don’t tend to hide under my desk (very much) nor am I so large that I get trapped down there when I climb under to retrieve the last Reisen chocolate chew that has rolled, unceremoniously and unwrapped out of my carelessly discarded handbag. I’m a puppeteer, so I have a legitimate reason to be down there. And I have five good reasons to legitimately be daydreaming. Although I think the psychological term is chronic denial but hey, who wants to face up to reality here? Clearly not I!

Now the app is counting down to the birth of my first baby and today it reads 34 days. Thirty four feckin’ days? How did that happen? I have had a long time to get my head around the fact that we’re having a baby. Longer than most. I knew about a week before my period was due as one of our dogs burst into the bathroom when I was having a wee, sniffed the air and gave me the “Not Again” look. Dr. Dog, as we shall call him for the remainder of this article, lest his identity be uncovered and he gets hounded (pardon the pun) by This Morning for interviews, has done this on five previous occasions. Gone on to guard me with his tiny scruffy body and great big heart until I started to bleed and lose the pregnancies and cuddled me endlessly as I recovered.

See, I told you I had five good reasons to indulge in daydreaming and denial. The first miscarriage was shocking. We found out at a ten-week scan. Expecting to see our weeny baked bean in the womb, we instead saw an empty sack and a look of professional sympathy on the sonographer’s face that broke my heart into tiny pieces. I think I have loved my husband from the moment I first saw him but as he helped me dress after a series of invasive scans that day, I never felt so loved or cared for or protected.

And so over the next two years we kept trying, our hearts getting ever more bruised but growing stronger, together, every passing day. Falling pregnant was unbelievably easy but keeping the babies seemed impossible. Horribly, you have to wait until you have had your third miscarriage to see a specialist (even going privately, as we were) and at that stage my body and soul were ravaged. We adopted a policy of going on adventures to get ourselves through. A few days after the second miscarriage, I found myself flinging my broken heart and wobbly womb down a ski slope; after the fifth miscarriage (by which time we had every test under the sun and been diagnosed with unexplained infertility), we ran away and got married in New York and rode rollercoasters in the blistering Orlando sun. Always together, smiling through the tears.

We were lucky enough to have been referred to the Merrion Fertility Clinic where finally, we were treated with great compassion and respect. It wasn’t always the case. Between all the miscarriages, I had been seen in three different hospitals and honestly, the experiences ranged from being humiliating to down right callous. However, at the Merrion Clinic, we found a place where we had a voice, were listened to and were encouraged to try one more time before we thought about IVF.

We considered whether we could face another pregnancy at all and decided together that we could. One last time. But if it didn’t stick, we would forego IVF and keep adventuring.

Now, 35 weeks and 1 day later (36 weeks after we got married) we are expecting a baby girl who, as a I type, is sticking one of her feet, or is that a knee or a plump little baby bum (?) out from beneath my ribs.

Between the 6th and 14th week of my pregnancy I had a scan every week and then a scan every fortnight there after.  At every scan she has made herself known and given us a wave. It’s her signature move. I threw up for five months, I developed SPD (pelvic pain), so have been limping for nearly four months and am fairly immobile now. Pamela Anderson called last week and asked for her boobs back. I have a wardrobe of the cutest baby clothes you have ever seen and a limited edition Bugaboo. I signed up for product testing and tested maternity jeans and stretch mark creams.  I’m DEFINITELY pregnant. So I should have accepted by now that we are having a baby, shouldn’t I? But thirty four days is plenty to really start believing, isn’t it? And read the books I haven’t read and rub that oil in, down there, wherever it’s meant to go. Right?

Oh and then there’s one teeny tiny thing I should probably have told you. I lied to the countdown timer. Well, more like omitted to tell it I’m probably having a c-section. And, um, that means more like 27 days…. But that’s plenty of time, right? Right? Maybe I’ll ask Dr. Dog.