Feeling like a bad parent?

Ok, so its been a while, maybe a little longer than I anticipated but the reality of the situation is I’ve been too busy throwing myself into mummode than blogmode.  Frankie is now almost 9 months old and Freddie is two.  Both are happy, healthy and I hope, Thriving.

I’ve thought long and hard about which subjects to blog about but one that seems to keep cropping up and one which I can also relate to is how hard many parents are on themselves when the kids are challenging and its all becoming a bit of a struggle. 

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I’m back in my consulting room, seeing clients on a part time basis and of those clients who are mums, it seems to be a common occurrence to carry at least one of these limiting beliefs:

  • ‘I’m a crap mum’.
  • ‘The kids hate me’.
  • ‘I always make the wrong decision’
  • ‘I’m never going to enjoy being a mum’
  • ‘They prefer dad’

It doesn’t take a genius to see that these are all unhelpful beliefs that are likely to keep us in a negative head-space.  These beliefs are based upon and created by experiences that those clients have processed in a powerless, negative way and more than likely with a low level of self-esteem and social confidence (none of which are fixed, we can improve these with the programme).  Let me break it down further.  Its all about how we process experiences, the language we use and the events we focus on.  For example, if you were to ask me to give you an idea of how mornings are in my home I could respond in one of two ways

  • I’m woken 2 to 3 times in the night by the baby and occasionally her older brother, we then get up for the day at 5am (we go to bed early to accommodate this so its not too much of an impact), generally there are tears and tantrums because both want a cuddle and both are still half asleep.  I try to manage this with distraction as best I can, their episodes don’t last long once they’re settled with some milk.  I then crack on with breakfast, Frankie is getting good at feeding herself and exploring new foods, Freddie doesn’t seem too fussed about breakfast these days, maybe its his back teeth coming through or maybe its the hot weather.  We have recently moved and turned the room adjacent to the kitchen into a toy room.  I love it.  It allows me to interact with both children whilst getting on with the sterilising/cleaning/packing change bags for the day.  There is also a sofa in that room which is really helpful as I can sit there whilst I feed Frankie but can also interact with Freddie whilst he plays and keep him very much involved.  We get dressed and head out after Frankie has finished her morning nap (between about 9 and 10am).

 

  • An average morning for me is being woken most of the night by the baby who doesn’t seem to want to sleep through.  I just wish she’d sleep through or I could at least get a lie in.  No one seems very happy in the morning and the kids generally ask for dad, probably because they love him more which just confirms I’m a crap mum.  Frankie eats breakfast but Freddie wont at the moment, I don’t understand why, I’m probably offering him all the wrong foods, he’d probably eat it if someone else made it.  We gave the kids a toy room but after 5 minutes they’re already crying because they want attention from me which is impossible to achieve because I’ve got so much to do just to get out of the house.  It feels like I’m never going to enjoy this mum thing.

Ok so the latter may seem a tad extreme but both of these statements are detailing an average morning for me.  Both events are EXACTLY the same.  The only difference is my response and how I process the events.

Having children is by no means easy, it’s the toughest job I’ve ever done but by keeping that self worth high and therefore being kind to yourself and giving yourself credit where it’s due, it will be far easier to focus on what you’re doing to be a great mum than all the things you’re doing wrong or ‘failing’ at (if you want to be black & white about it).  We are not robots, there is no rule book on how to raise children and juggle their needs however what we can (and what I’m trying to do) is learn from mistakes and process experiences without our paranoid, negative, learned helplessness and catastrophic thinking style lenses on.     Get in contact if you’d like to know more on how to remove those lenses!

I’m sure most have heard of ‘confirmation bias’ (for those who haven’t its the tendency to interpret evidence as confirmation of your already existing belief).  On that note, today is a working day for me so I’ve only spent two, maybe three hours with the kids this morning but I can categorically tell you that that is more than enough time for me to come to the conclusion that my kids hate me, I’m a crap mum and I’m never going to enjoy this mum thing’………..IF I was powerless in my thinking, IF I had low self esteem and an innate ability to be hard on myself, IF I feared other peoples judgement on my parenting skills and IF I was carrying negative, black and white or brooding thinking styles, to name a few.  On the plus side, I have chosen helpful beliefs and therefore its mostly positive experiences which are confirming my beliefs.  See how important our beliefs are?  Remember beliefs are not fixed, they are simply a thought we chose to keep thinking.


On a personal note, I’m working hard at keeping my self esteem up and really trying to focus on what seems to be working for us as a family and what the children enjoy as well as their strengths in order to keep us all in that Thriving mindset and attitude to life.  I could sit here (all day) and list the times that are tough, don’t work and why we were bonkers to have kids but I’m not really sure how far that will get me or you as the reader, as it will only give airtime to the above beliefs of which are not helpful to carry.  I am definitely making mistakes along the way, trying techniques that don’t work and can lose my temper through sleep deprivation and poor thinking but I can also say that that is not the complete picture, that’s a snapshot of the complete picture and I’m far more inclined to focus on the great bits because there are LOTS of amazing experiences and moments that I could list about my daily life as a mum.  That list is endless, I still pinch myself that I have been given an opportunity to help guide these little people through their lives.  Yes there are and will be hurdles (small or big) but with persistent and continuous effort it is possible to approach them with a Thrive mind-set and therefore be able to cope with negative experiences and outcomes, tolerate them without too much impact on your family and focus on what you can do something about by maintaining perspective.
Happy parenting!!!!  

 

2 weeks until eviction….

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My name is Amy, I am 30 years old and I live in Cambridgeshire with my partner, son and soon to be daughter!

Having had a challenging experience during and after the birth of my first child in April 2015 I have decided to write a blog about my second experience, detailing the highs and potential lows along the way. I’m having another section, (planned) as my sons birth resulted in an emergency section.

“So why are you writing a blog?”, I hear you say.

I teach a psychological training programme called ‘The Thrive Programme’ which I have to say, categorically helped in maintaining a healthy perspective of the overall experience following the birth of my son last year.  I well and truly ‘walk the walk’ of the programme and live my life in the same way that I teach my clients to live there’s every week.  Because of this, and because there are just so many women out there who are feeling frightened at the prospect of giving birth either for the first time or following a traumatic previous experience, I thought to myself…..”well why not share?”

When I first fell pregnant, many of those close to me thought I had gone stark mad to be having another baby so soon and even more surprised to hear that we were over the moon about it.  The truth is, when you are Thriving, you don’t analyse situations, you certainly don’t hold onto the past and you feel quite powerful because you know you have good coping skills, therefore, why would I not have another baby or even one so soon after?  People do it all the time right?

Its baffled me that throughout the past few months, I would say 90% of the time, when making a purchase or at a checkout in a supermarket, people look at my one year old (throwing the contents of the trolley on the floor or rather eloquently attempting to chew his way to freedom through the trolley) and then clock onto my rather large bump and decide to tell me that ‘I’m brave’ or that ‘I’m going to have my hands full’.  Now as much as I appreciate that both these statements may well be true, if I put myself in the shoes of someone who is rather anxious about their imminent arrival, I’m not sure how welcome I would find those comments, I may even find myself brooding about it and wondering if I’ve just made a terrible mistake?!  Which is what has also led me to try and blog about my experiences from the perspective of someone who has been through the programme, teaches the programme as well as lives by the programme and therefore potentially help improve the experience of many more mums who are trying to overcome daily hurdles/challenges with their pregnancy/labour/children and lets face it, the reality of the situation is there are ALOT!

Now I would very much like to clarify that I am not one of those people who preaches that child rearing is a walk in the park and our home is filled with love hearts and pink ribbons, that my child has always slept through, is well behaved and I feed him 5 star nutritious home cooked dishes everyday.  The reality of the situation is that walks in the park usually result in dicing with death on more than one occasion due to having a child who will only run at his fastest pace and rarely in a straight line.  Our time at home consists of cleaning up after him and discussing his latest digestive issues, cold, ear infection, temper and cleaning the walls or sofas from the remainder of his meals, 50% of which is regurgitated.  He only just started to sleep through from 10 months and only because we finally decided that being up every 3 hours to tend to his inability to put himself back to sleep after ‘stirring’ was not going to work for us, especially when we have four jobs between us.  Oh, and he refuses my food, probably because cooking isn’t my strongest point (this is a goal I’m working on).

However……as much as I’m sure all current mums can relate to the above there is also a world of pure happiness and a bottomless pit of unconditional love that comes with having children.  They bring you an element of joy which is so great it just doesn’t feel real at times.  They are learning all the time and following in your footsteps whilst you take on your daily routines as well as responding with such joy to the simplest of things.

So how am I feeling at the moment?…..READY!  Having sciatica and a one year old as well as being heavily pregnant and still working is proving achievable but has not been without its challenges.  I’ve got a daily mantra ‘this is for now, not forever’ which has helped somewhat as well as doing my daily ‘Thrive’ exercises in order to keep my patience levels as high as possible.  Research suggests that when you desire control to a high degree but consequently do not have it, you tend to find you lose perspective relatively quickly and will inevitably slip into meltdown mummode with the ability to burst at the seams just because your partner asked you if you could pass him the salt.  When you work on your coping skills, you tend to desire control a whole let less because essentially, why would you desire control if you have great coping skills?  This is proving extremely helpful when my one year old is acting up or if I’m simply tired, or in pain.

So with only a couple of weeks left until she is here, I’ve just about finished her room and packed a hospital bag which was such an odd but lovely feeling.  Her clothes are so tiny, most of which were her brothers, its crazy to try and imagine him ever fitting into those clothes, especially only last year!  Today I sat on the bed in her room and looked at her tiny cot and imagined her lying there which in turn led me to think about the moment she is handed to me and having the opportunity to embrace it as opposed to the relatively rushed, dramatic situation we found ourselves in with my first born.  By managing my thoughts and imagining all the things that I WANT to happen, as opposed to what I fear will happen, any anxiety I have about the birth is at bay and essentially all I would like is a healthy little girl.  I genuinely cannot wait to meet her and bring her home to the madness.

I appreciate that having two under two comes with its own challenges but that blogs for another day………

Amy Smith – Thrive Consultant

If you’d like to know more about The Thrive Programme please take a look at www.thriveprogramme.org or www.thrivewithamy.org

#parenting #parentingblogger #parentingblog #parentinglife #mumlife #mumblogger #mumswithhustle #mummylife #mummyblogger #mummybloggers #mentalhealth #mentalhealthmatters #mentalwellness #anxiety #anxietyhelp #anxietyfree #anxietywarrior

Two under two…..(the juggling act)

Ok so I’ve been asked on a number of occasions how I’m finding having two under two and therefore thought I’d touch on the subject. 

I never thought this was going to be easy, I knew it was going to be a challenge and I’m happy to report that that’s exactly what it is, a challenge.  Not one of those daily or monthly hurdles that you dread, try to dodge or forget about but one of the toughest jobs you’ve ever done albeit the most rewarding.  One of the biggest surprises for me personally with having two under two is what I’ve learnt about myself and how much we can learn from them (sounds cringy but true).

Before having kids I did things in my own time, on my own terms and managed my expectations accordingly.  Since having children I don’t really have my own time, therefore terms of my time don’t really exist and it can be difficult to know what to expect on a daily basis.  You can plan until your hearts content but if your toddlers not playing ball or your baby has colic and therefore is screaming relentlessly, sometimes you have to think on your toes and be more flexible with that plan.  However…there’s no point being flexible with that plan if its going to be coupled with an enormous amount of stress.  I’ve realised that when I’ve reorganised the day to try and suit everyone as best possible, at times I’ve lost the ability to enjoy that flexibility because i’m too caught up with trying to manage these events, the logistics, the meals, the changes of clothes etc, the list goes on.  Its not until you get into bed that evening and think back and say to yourself “did I enjoy today?”, that you realise whether or not you truly are thriving or you are in fact ‘coping’ on a daily basis.  Now my guess was that I’d have a mixture of the two and I’m still happy with that estimation.  Being a Thrive consultant does not mean you become superwoman or ‘supermum’ so to speak.  Less than two years ago I’d never even been a mum and honestly had very limited knowledge surrounding the subject.  However, by using the Thrive Programme I’ve been able to keep my self esteem high, stay resilient (during the tougher times), maintain perspective (I have found this is key) as well as maintaining a strong ability to not be swayed by the crowd or live in fear of being judged.

Im sure most parents can relate to the social anxiety that comes with having children.  I like to think that I don’t have a huge fear of being judged however I hold my hands up to feeling those eyes on me when I’m in company or out and about and either my child has run off and adopted another set of parents, is screaming ‘BANANNA’ at the top of his voice during the entire tesco shop, my baby is screaming uncontrollably whilst I attempt to eat something for the first time that day or heaven forbid I decide to go to the toilet.  For those already carrying quite a large amount of social anxiety (linked to self esteem) I would suggest as I have done myself in the past (and only as a short term fix) to just pretend that no one else is in the room and you are alone, with your children.  Suddenly the situation is far easier to manage and not only that, you come to realise that you created the anxiety and stress simply through your fear of being judged, not actually due to the matters in hand.  Being covered in baby sick with a toddler who’s currently beating his egg sandwhich with the wooden spoon table number really is far easier to manage after all!  You might even crack a smile….


Guilt, this is not something I choose to carry nor advise my clients to do so however in managing my expectation I’ve had to come to terms that guilt will be on the agenda from time to time but that that’s ok as long as I let it go just as quickly as I created it.  I cant please everyone and if someone is being left to cry I need to maintain perspective, do my best to use as many distraction methods as possible and continue to juggle the two.  I tell myself that my child is still loved, is fed, is warm and I’m doing the best job that I can do, even if I feel I’m not (usually more so on the sleep deprived days).  With my son being 20 months and my daughter being 3 months, they are close in age however their needs couldn’t be further apart.  My son is going through some huge developmental changes, which is just such a wonderful thing to observe however it comes with its mood swings and upsets and on top of this he’s juggling the emotions of having to welcome another small person into the home.  I just have to maintain perspective and be sure to remind myself when I watch his bottom lip go because he wanted a cuddle but cant because I’m feeding his sister that this time isn’t forever.  In a matter of months she’ll be sitting at the table with him and attempting to share his toys and the more difficult times will be a distant blur.  I’ve also recently been able to manage my diary a little better and with the help of childcare I can be sure to have one child for an entire day a week and during that day they have my undivided attention. 

I was up in Scotland when heavily pregnant with my second baby and was chatting to a fellow Thrive consultant.  He asked me what my goal was and I said I wanted to ‘Thrive’ with two under two.  We wrote the goal down as well as all the areas that I needed to work on in order to achieve that goal.  I found it interesting that when I really sat and thought about it, at top of my list was my relationship.  There’s no point in trying to maintain a happy healthy relationship with the kids if they are witnessing something entirely different between their parents.  I wanted us to be on the same page and encourage and support each other.  That relationship needs nurturing just as much as the relationship with our children and therefore date nights are still priority as well as 10 minutes every day to talk about what we enjoyed from our day.  I know that will sound cringy to some but when you are consumed by the kids and their daily needs, you have to actively remove yourself from the situation, its healthy and no one else will do it for you.  In working on ‘us’ and being a team, I truly believe that our children will benefit and we are able to enjoy them even more.


So in short, all seems to be going ok.  I wanted to be able to enjoy my time and not just live in hope that it’ll be a good day and I’ll ‘cope’.  I think I’m getting there, I’m learning every day and the children seem to be happy (most of the time) which is always a good measure!  We promote lots of kisses and cuddles which doesn’t do any of us any harm! 

On reflection, I think I probably am the busiest I’ve ever been and on the least amount of sleep I’ve ever had however hand on heart, I would have it no other way.  The kids are my absolute world, they feed my motivation to work hard for the family, they have taught me patience, they have taught me to live in the moment, to slow down, to enjoy them, to not read into every tiny issue and most of all what it feels to love something with every fibre in your body.  I like to think that they have made me a better person and for that I thank them unconditionally.

Amy Smith – Thrive Consultant

If you’d like to know more about The Thrive Programme please take a look at http://www.thriveprogramme.org or http://www.thrivewithamy.org

#parenting #parentingblogger #parentingblog #parentinglife #mumlife #mumblogger #mumswithhustle #mummylife #mummyblogger #mummybloggers #mentalhealth #mentalhealthmatters #mentalwellness #anxiety #anxietyhelp #anxietyfree #anxietywarrior

Welcome to the world Frankie May!

Where to begin?!

So, today marks Frankies 13th day in the world and as much as I’m enjoying every precious second with her, I thought it best to continue where I left off and give an insight into our experience of her birth and the days that followed.

Within minutes of posting my previous blog, we were ushered down to theatre.  The midwife was asking us if we’d like to play music during the delivery so we were sharing ideas with the team on our way down as to what to play.  Both my partner and I are slight fanatics when it comes to Kings of Leon however we thought that ‘your sex is on fire’ may be a bit inappropriate…..(we all had a chuckle), I hope this helps detail the relaxed nature of the environment.  Before we knew it I was perched on the bed with a lovely yet large team of staff all of whom played a part in bringing our little bundle into the world.  I was introduced to everybody, and I couldn’t help but feel this overwhelming sense of satisfaction that we’d made the right choice to have her delivered by c-section.  The atmosphere was extremely lighthearted and all the time the anesthetist was trying to administer my spinal (took a few attempts) I had a lovely Irish lady speaking positive words in my ear and asking me to talk to her about my son in order to distract me.  As much as the spinal was uncomfortable, it was manageable and not painful.  As soon as the spinal was in place I was laying down and the surgeon was called in to finish the job!

I was asked if I wanted to see the birth, to which I replied that I was more than happy to wait until she was passed to me.  With this, the lovely Irish lady whispered in my ear that she had had three c-sections and witnessed them all and it was the best decision she had ever made.  It didn’t take much persuading me, by the time she was ready to be delivered, they pulled the tent like barrier down and lifted my head.  The team were all gathered around and my partner and I looked on with glazed eyes as we both knew imminently we were going to meet our much longed for daughter.  We had agreed to play the same song that I will soon walk down the aisle to ‘someone like you’ by Kings of Leon and before we knew it we saw her little head poke out as well as a hand, she then slowly made her way into the world with some help from the surgeon.  Contrary to popular belief there wasn’t massive amounts of blood or gore as sometimes seen on screens, it was all very neat and tidy……

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Frankie entering the world….


In that instant I fell truly, madly, deeply in love and thanked the team through my tears of pure joy.  She had a head full of dark hair, just as her brother did and in that moment she really was the most beautiful little girl I’d ever seen.  She was taken to be checked and cleaned, before being shown to me and then passed to her daddy.  I can honestly say, the whole process was just so smooth as well as beautiful.

In relation to the surgery itself and complications, the only set-back was blood loss however this would have only meant me taking iron tablets.  I lost a litre, which is more than they would like but not enough to cause concern. It just meant they kept a closer check on my blood count in the days that followed. Throughout the process I felt no pain, just a pulling/tugging sensation.

Soon after Frankie was born, it became clear that she was struggling to breathe and therefore she was taken to special care to be checked.  I was stitched up (I think the process took about 30/40 minutes) and then wheeled back to my room.  This time period was probably the most challenging aspect of the whole experience, the unknown.  When the midwife explained to me that I’d hopefully have her back in a few hours, they just needed to do some checks, I was extremely grateful for the care that they were providing my daughter but also a big part of me was yearning to hold her, something I had not yet done.  Those hours went slowly, very slowly.  Eventually she was brought to me for a brief yet beautiful cuddle however she needed to be in an incubator so I gave her back pretty swiftly and just held onto those precious moments.  Every half an hour my partner went to check on her and the team took pictures of her which he brought over to me.  Fortunately, using the Thrive Programme, I had worked hard on my primary and secondary control.  I had gone into this experience open minded and therefore was able to be as relaxed as I could be about the situation little Frankie May had found herself in.  All the time I repeated to myself that she was in the best possible place and whatever the outcome, we’d cope. 

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Day one….

An x-ray of Frankie’s lungs confirmed that she’d swallowed fluid which we soon learnt was common in section babies.  Usually baby is able to shift this in their own time however Frankie seemed to have a substantial amount on her lungs which meant she was working too hard to breathe aka Respiratory Distress Syndrome and therefore couldn’t feed .  She underwent further precautionary tests, all of which came back negative so after two days of staring at her in her little see-through box she was able to come back to the ward with me.  The special care unit had forecast that they’d be keeping her for longer so all my birthdays came at once when the doctor happened to be checking on her as I was about to go back to my ward and declared that she’d turned a corner and asked me if I’d like to take her with me.

I don’t think I slept that night, not because she was particularly noisy, just because she was right there, she was all mine, we were alone for the first time and she was the most beautiful little girl I’d ever seen.  I literally spent hours daydreaming of all the fun things that were to come and how excited I was to take her home to the rest of the family.

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Mummy’s first cuddle…


My dreams came true when the following evening we were allowed to come home.  I missed my son like crazy (he was poorly and therefore unable to visit)so being able to put him to bed that evening was lovely.

Daddy cuddles


So, as far as our experience of a planned c-section goes, we couldn’t be happier, it really was the most beautiful experience.  I completely appreciate that had we had a natural delivery it may well have been just as beautiful but in order to lessen the anxieties relating to c-sections and even if it helps just one person have a more positive c-section experience then this blog has served its purpose.

file-18-10-2016-15-40-59I’ll touch on the healing process and juggling two babies in my next blog.

Amy Smith – Thrive Consultant 

If you’d like to know more about The Thrive Programme please take a look at http://www.thriveprogramme.org or http://www.thrivewithamy.org
#parenting #parentingblogger #parentingblog #parentinglife #mumlife #mumblogger #mumswithhustle #mummylife #mummyblogger #mummybloggers #mentalhealth #mentalhealthmatters #mentalwellness #anxiety #anxietyhelp #anxietyfree #anxietywarrior

 

C-section countdown begins!

Ok so we’ve arrived in the labour ward and had a lovely team meet us.  All checks have been done and I’m sat here all gowned up :).  So far the experience could not be more different from an emergency situation or be going any smoother.

How are we feeling? Well it’s all a bit surreal, here we are chatting away and as long as there are no emergencies in the next hour or so, we are first in so I’ll be walking down to theatre and she’ll be delivered! So we feel excited as well as we can’t quite believe we’ll have a little girl very soon!

For all mummies who have left or will be leaving their little ones to go and have another baby, it is an odd feeling!  I said bye to him this morning (he wasn’t very happy about mummy and daddy leaving) and he stood at the kitchen window with my mum as we drove off and I thought to myself, “it’ll never be just us again”.  There was an element of me that felt sad with this thought however I just told myself that we are about to do something which is truly amazing and one day he’ll understand especially when he has a little play buddy to be best friends with.  On top of this he’ll now be having so much fun with Nannie he’ll have forgotten we have even left…….(keeping perspective)!

So, not long now and I’m itching to go!  I can’t stop wondering how big she’ll be and what she’ll look like but more importantly just holding onto her being healthy.


Ok well if I get some downtime later I’ll keep you posted! The main thing is, as far as planned sections go, it’s been really smooth so far and we’ve been made to feel very welcome.

Have a fabulous day!

Amy Smith – Thrive Consultant

If you’d like to know more about The Thrive Programme please take a look at http://www.thriveprogramme.org or http://www.thrivewithamy.org
#parenting #parentingblogger #parentingblog #parentinglife #mumlife #mumblogger #mumswithhustle #mummylife #mummyblogger #mummybloggers #mentalhealth #mentalhealthmatters #mentalwellness #anxiety #anxietyhelp #anxietyfree #anxietywarrior

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The eve…..

It’s 6am, the birds are singing, the sun is just about starting to break through and there’s that lovely frosty October feeling to the morning.  I can just about hear my little boy stirring on the monitor whilst I sit here in peace writing a mini blog!

So why is today any different to every other Tuesday morning?  Well, it’s the eve of my little girls birthday, she is being delivered by c-section tomorrow morning  and for me right now it feels like I’m 6 years old and it’s in fact Christmas Eve.  I’m so excited to meet her.

Plans for the day?  Well my little lad usually goes to nursery on a Tuesday so we will drop him off a bit later today, and then we thought, “why not have a date morning”?  Childcare is covered and we have no idea when we’ll be going on another social outing after tomorrow so we have chosen to go and see the new Bridget Jones movie (about having a baby, very apt)!  I’m a little excited, it’s been at least 18 months since I’ve been to the cinema!

Following date morning we have a pre-op appointment with the hospital to discuss tomorrow’s events and be sure I’m in good nick for the operation.  

We will then pick little man up from nursery (a bit earlier than usual) so we can go and have some fun, usually this entails collecting conkers or feeding the ducks.  I really did deliberate over whether to put Freddie into nursery the day before his sister arrived but after much consideration, we thought it best to stick to routine (coupled with that he loves it there).  The last three days have been lovely, I started maternity leave as a Thrive consultant on the Thursday which gave me 5 whole days!  We have had all sorts of fun with Freddie, just to get that quality time in before he starts to share his time maybe a little more than he would like! 

Anyway, after such lovely feedback from previous blogs I just thought I’d update you on my thoughts and feelings surrounding tomorrow’s event and the build up.  To be honest I just feel pure excitement!  A few people have asked me if I’m nervous, but right now the truth is I’m not.  I’m not thinking any thoughts that would make me nervous however I can truely empathise as to why some waiting for a section would be, especially when it seems most people (including my health visitor I must add) seem to give you that sad look when you say you’re having a c-section and ask how you feel about it in a way that implies I should be feeling bloody terrified.  So yes, I do understand the nerves (have a look at previous blog about c-sections) which is exactly why I am writing this blog, from the perspective of someone who teaches a programme about how we can manage our thinking in order to make situations work for us and maintain control :). 

Right, I’m off to commence mummy duty!  I’ll blog from hospital tomorrow once I’m all checked in and waiting to go to theatre……eeeeeek!!!

Have a fabulous Tuesday!

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Exit via the sunroof….(choosing a C-Section)

So due to little lady soon to be lifted from what has been her home for the past nine months, I thought it best to touch on the whole c-section subject and some of the anxieties surrounding it.  

As we all know there are many mums who categorically refuse to face the prospect of going into labour naturally and have their c-section booked at the earliest opportunity as well as some mums who chose a planned c-section because of previous complications or they’ve been advised to by their healthcare professional. There are also lots of mums who cannot think of anything worse than a c-section.  Personally I believe there is no right or wrong, your baby will enter the world in a way you deem suits you best, however sometimes our preferences can be taken away from us, either because our baby is not playing ball and therefore some kind of intervention is necessary or you find yourself in labour at your local supermarket the day before your c-section is due!  As long as we focus on the fact our babies are here and in the best possible hands we should all be happy right?

When I read or hear anything about c-sections, the general language used is ‘major surgery’, ‘internal bleed’, ‘wound’, ‘scar tissue’, ‘increased risk’ and ‘recovery’.  Now I don’t know about you, but those words hardly evoke pure delight or enthusiasm when I imagine what’s involved.  However, what I must remember is that even natural deliveries come with an array of risks and no one really knows what’s going to happen?  Right?  I would say “there is no crystal ball”, if I believed in that stuff but the reality is we can write a birth plan as long as the umbilical cord and still find ourselves giving birth in the downstairs toilet or desiring every type of pain relief possible after previously declaring that we could do it without even the hint of a pain killer in the room.

I have decided to stay open minded regarding the birth of this baby and try not to focus too much on a list of preferences i.e birth plan.  After detailing that I would try without pain relief on the birthing plan with my first born, by day two I was practically administering my own epidural and sucking on the gas and air as if I’d been waiting 29 years just to get the hit.  Does that mean I failed? No.  It simply means I wanted to numb the pain in order to get more from the experience as well as some well needed sleep.

Before giving birth to my son and in order to manage my thinking as best as possible I had worked on maintaining a high sense of self esteem which in turn helped to make me feel far more powerful over the experience. This exercises also helped to ensure that I had a strong belief in my coping skills. Consequently, when things became challenging I was able to keep the best level of perspective that I could (admittedly this wasnt quite as easy when sleep deprivation kicked in).

When I was told we were off for an emergency section I would have run into theatre (if I could) just to speed up the process.  Quite frankly my baby was not coming (being 10lb may have also had a part to play), I was two weeks overdue, had been induced 3 times just to kick start labour and consequently that labour didnt seem to have an end. To be honest, the entire process is a bit of a blur however what I do know is that when I was in recovery, my baby boy was passed to me and other than some minor issues he was healthy and HUGE!  At that moment, did it matter how he got there?  No.

The first time he was handed to me

So why is it that so many women today feel anxious about their impending sections?  Probably because we are bombarded with a list of risks as long as our arms and then asked if we are “still happy to go ahead?”.  Going back to the use of language, if I were to focus on the negative (through my desire for control) I’m only going to imagine the worst case scenarios and inadvertently create those scenes in my head.  Subsequently, by imagining all the ways in which the process could go wrong my anxiety levels would be so high it would taint the experience even if it were to go smoothly!  My best option is to always imagine what I WANT to happen, that way I am far more likely to get the very best from the experience and have more scope to stay calm in the event that any issues did arise.

Statistics suggest an ‘increased risk’ of a number of  complications/side effects during and following a c-section as opposed to a natural birth however there is a huge difference between ‘increased’ and ‘high’.  In some cases increased means 0.05% so with this in mind we decided to weigh up the small print (as the risks do vary) and made our decision for this baby based on fact as opposed to fear or being pulled by our previous experience or the opinions of others.

Personally, I am comforted in that I will be in a controlled environment which ensures the safest possible delivery of my baby (I’m at risk of scar rupture during a natural labour as I caught an infection in the womb after my sons birth).  Coupled with that, I’m capped on how many hours they will allow me to labour naturally and therefore I could result in having a c-section anyway so I’ve decided to cut out the in-between and just have the c-section.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m sat here writing my blog, still holding onto the thought of going into labour naturally and in a timely manner but I’m also very much content with the decision to have a section, why?  Because I know whichever way she comes it is just how it is and I/we will cope.  I have the NHS, I am in the best possible hands, many women today have nothing but themselves and are told to ‘crack on with it’.

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Daddy cuddles

It came to my attention after having my son last year that some women do feel as though they haven’t given birth after having a c-section which in turn can make them feel pretty down about themselves and the experience.  In my ignorance, I honestly had absolutely no idea that this was even an issue or that people were actually carrying around those thoughts.  I can quite happily reiterate what I’m sure many have said in that it really does not matter how your baby comes into this world, it is fact that you have given birth.  No one gets a medal for soldiering on for hours/days and pushing a baby through a rather small space.  Yes it’s a bloody challenge but it doesn’t go on the wall of achievement, your just given the ‘all clear’, packed up and sent home with your little bundle just as you are with a section.  Yes there are many pro’s to having a natural labour which is why I am a huge advocate for it however I’m also fortunate enough to be living in a country in which we are given options and we can all determine what is best for us individually based on our own needs and circumstances.  Personally, I would much rather go home to my son and be able to lift him and reassure him that mummy now has two little bundles but also twice as much love however I appreciate that the reality is I wont be lifting anything for the first few days.  Do I feel bad?  Yes.  Do I lose sleep over it and wonder if I’m doing the right thing? No.  Why?  Because there is a far bigger picture than those first few days/weeks and essentially all my little boy needs is a healthy mummy in recovery and a healthy sister to bond with.  If I imagine my son getting upset because I can’t hold him I’m only going to create anticipationary anxiety surrounding the event of which is inevitable anyway so we are all best off making the most of what we have anxiety free and staying positive.

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Home sweet home

I must reiterate that when it comes to childbirth I truly believe there is no right or wrong, it’s about weighing up the options and making an informed decision based on fact and your own preferences.  I can completely understand why so many women chose electives as I can a natural birth.  Every woman who has delivered a baby has given birth and in no way are either options a walk in the park for varying reasons.

To address those like myself who in the past had hoped for a natural birth which resulted in a c-section, it does not mean you have ‘failed’, it means you put the wellbeing of your child first which is essentially all you will being doing for the rest of their lives anyway.  This is just the start :).

I feel nothing but gratitude that my son could be delivered safely and that we were given that opportunity and the truth of the matter is I’m far to busy watching him grow than worry about the way in which he was brought into the world…..

Amy Smith -Thrive Consultant 

If you’d like to know more about The Thrive Programme please take a look at http://www.thriveprogramme.org or http://www.thrivewithamy.org
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