IUGR

Writing For a Cause

The first time I sat down to write a blog post I never once imagined it was anything more than a diary entry. For me. Not for you, or for your sister or your friend or anyone else. I didn’t even publish the first few posts because it was the act of writing them that mattered more than anything else. But like every other writer, I needed an audience and I soon discovered I needed a purpose too. Writing for a cause just kind of happened.

I started by writing about my son. My beautiful boy, who was ripped from my body in a blur of panic and white hot fear. Born into silence. Born into chaos. Born alone, while I slept. I needed to write. I needed to spew forth all the emotions and the confusion that was rattling around inside me and I needed to try and make sense of it somehow. Writing has always been my release, ever since I was a child, and it’s only i am not broken_ghostwritermummy.co.uknatural for me to need the prop during times of crisis.  (more…)

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Speaking Out for Maternal Mental Health

On Saturday I attended the Maternal Mental Health event at the Cumbria Infirmary, hosted by the Happy Mums Foundation and the World Health Innovation Summit (WHIS). I was invited to speak about my experiences so that I might be able to help the professionals understand what a traumatic pregnancy and birth can be like for women. So that they might better understand the things that they can do to help. So that other women like me might not fall through the cracks for so long.

cumbria-1It is always hard to speak about what happened with my son’s birth. And last week was a big week for me because I finally had my debrief, and I also had my second CBT counselling session. And then there was the PTSD diagnosis.

I’d like to say that seeing those four letters on the page came as no shock (hadn’t I always known that I wasn’t depressed? Hadn’t I aways known that there was something more, likely to be PTSD?) but actually I’ve really struggled with knowing that someone else agrees with me at last. Someone else, who is professionally qualified to do so, is taking control of my care now. It feels strange. To hear her tell me she will never ask me to fill in a PND questionnaire. To hear her tell me I have been traumatised. To hear her tell me she believes me, she is sorry for what has happened, and she intends to help. It’s all so new for me, and the effects of it are still coursing their way through my life right now.

I was in two minds about Saturday. I was scared. Not of speaking, but of getting there. Making my way to the train station, sitting on a train, finding the venue. Even knowing that Jenny would be there at the station in Carlisle was very little comfort, and this is a perfect example of just how far reaching my birth trauma has been. The thought of travelling alone to Carlisle was terrifying and had it not been for Jenny I would not have gone at all. (more…)

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She is Two: #MovementsMatter

She is two. She is two!  We sit, sand between our freezing cold toes and the sea lapping the windy shore and we know just how very lucky we are. Our hair whips around our flushed cheeks and our lips are salty and we know just how very lucky we are. She runs, jumps, splashes and plays. And

we know just how very lucky we are.

She is two, and she has so much ahead of her. So many adventures. So many dreams. So many friends to make, stories to tell and mountains to climb. What an honour and a privilege to share that with her

She is Two: #MovementsMatter-Ghostwritermummy.co.ukIt wasn’t always as carefree as this. Regular readers will know that my last pregnancy was filled with stress and anxiety and fear. An IUGR pregnancy is never easy, and the unanswered questions are hard to walk away from. The fact is, I have suffered emotionally since she was born. Oh, the relief of hearing that tiny little cry in the stillness of the operating theatre! The joy that seeped through my bones as she was brought back to me, alive and well. The pure and utter relief that pulsated in my stomach as they placed her little body against mine. Alive. Here. There were times throughout that pregnancy when I truly doubted I would get those moments.

And here’s why #MovementsMatter. Because any changes can mean that something is wrong. 55% of women who sadly experienced stillbirth in the UK noticed that their baby’s movements had slowed down.

But they didn’t report it.

She is Two: #MovementsMatter-Ghostwritermummy.co.uk

Please, please always remember that any changes, any concerns, any doubts- you must call your hospital or your midwife. You must get checked over. Babies do not slow down at the end of pregnancy. Don’t be one of the 73% who delay reporting changes in movement. Don’t be one of the 52% who believe they are being a nuisance. Don’t be fooled into thinking you must feel 10 movements in one hour. Your baby is unique. Their movements are unique. YOU are the best judgement of what is normal, so use your instincts.

The Tommy’s campaign #MovementsMatter launches today, on Elsie’s second birthday, and I wanted to share our story with you to help you understand just how important it is to be observant to report any changes straight away.

I had an anterior placenta. A tiny baby. A baby that was not growing well. A high risk pregnancy. An IUGR diagnosis. Weekly appointments.

Watchful eyes.

Impatient.

Scared.

Frustrated.

All of this added up to such a confusing and scary experience. The only piece of advice I was ever given was to monitor my baby’s movements as closely as possible. To get to know her pattern of movements, and to come in immediately should anything change. And after three previous pregnancies to term, that should have been a simple task. But as my body was failing my baby, my confidence was facing my mind. I found it so hard to determine her pattern. So many movements were cushioned by my placenta, and she was so tiny that many of her early kicks were just not felt.

I was around 21 weeks when I first felt definite movement. At that point, IUGR had not even been mentioned. Even still, lack of movements worried me. When I was around 26 weeks, I called my hospital in tears, convinced she was gone. So many hours without any movement. Ice water, lying still, concentrating, waiting. Nothing made a difference. She wasn’t moving. Should I call? Was I wasting time? What if she started to move on the way to the hospital- would they tell me off for taking up a bed that was truly needed by other women?

None of that matters. Your baby isn’t moving, you go in to be checked.She is Two: #MovementsMatter-Ghostwritermummy.co.uk

Each time I went in, the midwives assured me that all was fine, I had done the right thing. By the time IUGR was picked up, I was monitored weekly anyway. Told that even once home, if I wasn’t sure I was to turn around and go straight back in again. I was to try and pick up her pattern of movements, and any concerns I was to call. No matter what time. No matter how slight my concern.

IUGR babies are at the highest risk of stillbirth. IUGR means that the baby is not growing well, and often the doctors don’t know the reason for this. Sometimes, it’s obvious. High blood pressure, for example. In cases like ours, it’s simply not explained. if an IUGR baby is not receiving enough blood, nutrients and oxygen then movements can become slower, and patterns change. Medical attention is needed. That much I did learn.

We were admitted the night before her planned section, and I spent a long night hooked up to the CTG monitor. Listening to that distinct swoosh and beat of the tiny life inside me. She kept fighting though, and now here she is. Kicking still.

Movements can be rolls, swooshes, kicks and pokes. They call count. They all matter.

For more information on the campaign, please visit the Tommy’s website and please please speak to your midwife if you are at all unsure of your baby’s movements. For more information on reduced movements, please see here.  Please also take a moment to watch Tommy’s video, and share with anyone you think might need to see it.

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Post Natal Anxiety: Time to Talk

I posted recently about finally stepping into the GP’s office and walking away with a label around my neck. Post Natal Depression. It hasn’t sat well. It’s off centre, like a pendant too heavy on a delicate chain. Swinging, useless, lopsided and ugly. The wrong label. A little bit off. I couldn’t really explain it, but my heart was saying no. And then I remembered that I’d been there before. In the early days after my son was born, and they told me I had PND and I argued, and they told me over and over again that I was wrong. Back then I stuck to my guns, and those around me who knew me best agreed. Not depression, something else. Something far too complicated to deal with maybe. And so this time, too, the label doesn’t quite fit, and I’m not the only one to believe it.

With my first Think Positive counselling session behind me, I am more assured and more confident that I have not lost all sight of myself. I don’t know why a professional opinion on the state of my mental health means more than my own, but it does. We’re in agreement: post natal depression doesn’t sit right because it’s not right. I’m not depressed. I’m not.

post natal anxiety 1Post Natal Anxiety is my label now, and its of no great surprise at all. And so I am learning to talk about the things that make me anxious, and the reasons why they do. The hope is that I learn to deal with them in a different way, and re-learn how to think positively and with a clearer, more rational response.

I am at the beginning.
I cannot see the end of this tunnel.

No light, not yet. (more…)

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