The etiquette of visiting a newborn. 

A good friend of mine and his husband came to visit us a few weeks ago for the first time since we’d had Arthur. He surprised me by admitting that he’d googled the etiquette of visiting a newborn. At the time I laughed thinking “what an Owain thing to do!” But on reflection it was a bloody good idea! Owain had been itching to meet Arthur and see how we were all doing but wasn’t sure when is a suitable time to start nagging for a visit, and it occurs to me that lots of people probably wonder the same thing while others turn up unannounced on day two when the last thing you need or want is visitors! Here are my thoughts on what you should and shouldn’t do when visiting. 

1. Never turn up unannounced. No new parents want surprise visitors. I was very fortunate to have had a lovely, easy, straightforward birth. I was home the same day and feeling great but I still didn’t want people just turning up unannounced! Always call or text and ask if you can stop by. 

2. When you call or text make sure you give plenty of warning. “Can I come around in half an hour?” Is the most stressful text message I got as a frazzled new mum! I guess people forget how hard it is to be awake, dressed and not crying in a corner somewhere in those first few weeks! I tried to make sure all of our visitors planned their visits at least a week in advance. It meant I knew I had time in the lead up to said visit to make the house look less unloved, be showered and dressed and have my face on. Ideally I’d have Arthur fed and changed and ready for cuddles too if possible. These things may sound unimportant to you, but to be brutally honest, it isn’t about you. A new mum has been through a physically and emotionally traumatic time, and if being showered, dressed and having their make up on makes them feel better able to tackle the day then give them that. 

3. When you make a plan to visit, stick to it or let them know as much in advance as possible if you can no longer make it. As I mentioned in point number 2, it’s an epic mission to be ready for visitors. It isn’t just a case of throwing on some clothes and away we go. If I’ve spent a precious “free” hour cleaning the house for the sole purpose of your visit when I could’ve been sleeping or having a relaxing bath, and then you don’t turn up I will plot your death. 

4. Don’t leave it up to the new parents to invite you around. Mainly because that just won’t happen! Lots of people said to me “let us know when you’re up for visitors” and then backed off. While I appreciated the space, I never felt like I had a “good time” to invite people around and frankly, between the sleep deprivation and the steep learning curve of being a new mum I really didn’t have time to stop and think “right then, who do I need to text now and invite over”. Leave it a week or two and then drop a casual message to see how everyone is doing and if they’re free for a quick visit soon. It prompts us Mombies to remember we have friends who’d like to see us (always a nice feeling) without being pushy. 

5. When you do pop around, keep it brief. We’re Knackered and barely able to string a sentence together most of the time. We can manage an actual conversation for maybe half an hour but that’s your lot! There is nothing worse than having your routine (such as it is) disrupted when a visit you expected to last 30 minutes turns in to several hours of you painfully trying to drop hints while secretly plotting their deaths for not just buggering off already! 

6. Forgive us if we don’t offer you teas/coffees like we normally would. I try and remember to do this when people arrive, but honestly, sometimes it’s been a very sleepless night and I totally forget. It’s not that I’ve lost my manners, or can’t be bothered. Promise. Normal service will resume when we’re all getting a little more sleep. 


Arthur, 7 weeks and 4 days old. 

Advertisements

One year on. 

Yesterday marked one year since that horrible 12 week scan and what was to be the start of the worst week of my life. I try not to dwell on it, as dwelling does no good, so I spent the day doing normal everyday stuff. I went to the dentist, met some friends for coffee and had my hair done. And it was ok. 

I’d be lying if I said my mind didn’t wander, but I needed to be busy and wanted not to dwell on things that can’t be changed. I think I succeeded in that. 

So, a year on and a lot has changed. The miscarriage association are still plugging away doing a terrific job of helping and supporting those who suffer a loss, and I had the pleasure of an email from lovely Ruth (to use her full name) a couple of weeks ago updating me on the latest with the educational videos I talked about in a blog post months ago. The videos have been made and are being rolled out to GP’s, Ultrasound technicians and anyone else likely to come in to contact with a woman suffering a miscarriage, any time now. I’m really glad I was able to offer some insight for this project and so pleased that it’s come to fruition. I sincerely hope it has the effect we all hope it will. 

On a personal level, although my loss still at times feels very recent and very raw it was in actual fact a whole year ago now. In that year I’ve got a new house, new job, got engaged, and of course welcomed little Arthur in to the world safe and well. I’m thankful and very lucky to have all that I have, I know that, and I try very hard not to take any of it for granted. Do I still wonder what that baby would have looked like? Of course. Do I still long for him or her? Absolutely. But then I remind myself that I wouldn’t have had Arthur, and he is pretty awesome so I choose to focus on that on the tough days. 

Although this is a morbid anniversary, I felt I needed to mark it somehow. Just let the universe know that I haven’t forgotten. Will never forget. Here seems as good a place as any to do that since here is where my recovery began really. Here is where I found unending support and understanding, here I found friends accross the world. We dragged each other through those awful times, and celebrated together through the happy times. Let’s hope there are more happy times to come for all of us. 

30 weeks 


30 weeks already. Wow. I feel like time is doing some weird thing where it feels painfully slow and way too fast all at the same time! 

Looking back on my pregnancy so far, I realise I’ve been really lucky to stay so well. A lot of my friends seem to have had one problem after another – that’s got to hamper your enjoyment of being pregnant, and I was adamant I was going to enjoy every single second of this. I’ve had bad weeks of course, I’ve felt terrible, and I’ve had some real scares but on the whole I’ve felt fit and well and this weekend I’ve felt amazing. (Probably something to do with the 10 hour sleep Friday night and the week-

long headache I’d had finally going!) 

I have, however, had quite a lot of negative comments from total strangers about how big I am or how I must be carrying twins etc and although I don’t give a damn what these people think, and I know both myself and my son are happy and healthy it can be hard not to take these comments to heart. I’ve never been especially comfortable with my body. I’ve never been one of these people who doesn’t have to think about weight gain. I’ve had to work hard at eating well and working out in order to get a body I didn’t hate. So as much as I know that right now my size is all about nurturing my growing child, it isn’t easy to keep my mind from thinking I’m fat. It’s so easy to feel fat, frumpy and unattractive isn’t it?

Yesterday a friend of mine tagged me in a Facebook post. A local photographer is looking for a pregnant lady to photograph for her online portfolio and my friend thought I’d be interested. I sent a quick message to the photographer and it turns out she’s looking to do a very specific photo shoot…in the bath, with lots of flowers and pretty colours. The photograph would totally focus on bump. 

I absolutely love this idea! 

So I’ve volunteered to do it. Being photographed in the bath is not something I’d have ever dreamt of before, but I love the idea of having this beautiful bump picture that I can always look back on and one day show my little man. I’m actually really excited for this and can’t wait to share the pictures with you all when they’re done. 

That was yesterday morning, then yesterday afternoon as I was leaving the hospital after visiting my nan I got chatting to a lovely couple who were also visiting a relative. They commented on how elegant and beautiful I looked and how pregnancy obviously agreed with me.  In fact my favourite compliment from them was “you look magnificently pregnant!” It is so refreshing to having such lovely comments from total strangers that I was really touched by it. They really made my day! In actual fact, I’d been a bit upset leaving my nan as she was very down and quite distressed. Paul was lovely with her, but that only served to upset me more (because I cry at the drop of a hat at the best of times!) so to then come out and have this lovely couple say such lovely things, it really gave me a boost. 

The truth is, I do feel “magnificently pregnant”! I feel proud to be able to nurture this tiny person because I know firsthand how awful it is to feel that you can’t. People will always open their mouths without engaging their brains, and people will thrust their opinions on you whether you’ve asked for them or not. I guess the trick is to keep in mind everything you’ve been through to get to this place. They don’t know what you’ve been through, they don’t know how much this means and ultimately their opinions don’t matter one little bit. 

My new mantra: “I am not fat. I am magnificently pregnant!” 

Third trimester…meltdown city! 

My second trimester has been totally uneventful – which is great! It meant I felt better, had more energy, felt more like my old self again…but now as I enter the third trimester it’s really hit me. I’m having a baby. I know that sounds ridiculous and believe me, I spent most of last week feeling ridiculous and irrational and vaguely hysterical. (Poor Paul is all I can say!) The sad truth though, if I’m really honest is that I never really expected to get here. I never actually thought that being pregnant would result in a baby this time, because it didn’t last time. It’s only now that I realise I’ve been holding my breath and waiting for the thing I fear most to happen again. And then I passed the “viable” stage, and now with every week that passes the chances of my baby surviving even if he came early get stronger and stronger. 

And so of course I freaked out! 

All the things you’re supposed to think, worry and obsess about when you get pregnant I guess have kind of been on hold for me. Until now. But boy did I unleash them all last week! 

I’ve been suffering with SPD aka Pelvic Girdle Pain for most of the second trimester but it’s really ramped up pain wise in the last few weeks. As a result I’m not sleeping very well and I’m constantly in discomfort…these things combined with epic hormone surges and still working full time have made for a grumpy, emotional and irritable Cerian. It has not been a fun few weeks. Again I say, poor Paul! 

So last week it culminated in me convincing myself I was going to be a terrible mother, a failure to my son, and generally an all round useless human being. Now, with the love and support of Paul, my friends and family and the distance from last week’s hormonal mess I can see that while those worries are legitimate, they’re perfectly normal and as Paul pointed out while I was mid meltdown, the very fact that I worry about being a good mother means I’m already halfway there. He is very wise. So this week I’m feeling a lot better mentally. I’m still exhausted and grumpy, but I’m back to being impatient and excited to meet my little man, and I love all the little wriggles and kicks I feel – even when they are waking me up at 3am! 

I wasn’t sure whether to post this blog…I worried it would come across as me being ungrateful for being pregnant, moaning that pregnancy is hard when I know first hand how awful it is to want to still be pregnant and be able to do nothing about it, but when I started this blog it was all about being honest and talking candidly about my experience. So in the end I decided that I should continue with that honesty, and say out loud that yes; I have lost a baby and yes it was awful, and yes; of course I’m thankful that I was able to get pregnant again and sustain this pregnancy…but that doesn’t mean that it’s easy, and I shouldn’t have to plaster a smile on and pretend it is out of some sort of misplaced guilt, should I? 

I hope that in being bold enough to say “I’ve had a wobble” other women who may be feeling the same will feel less alone. I felt ashamed that I was feeling so overwhelmed, scared and anxious and yeah, I felt ungrateful. And that just exacerbated all the feelings of being a failure that I already had so it was a vicious cycle that had me sobbing hysterically for about three days straight. 

Pregnancy is an amazing thing, and most of the time I love and enjoy it but some weeks are really bloody hard. Maybe that’s ok though. Maybe it’s ok to find it hard. Maybe it’s ok to have a wobble. Does it make me a bad person? A bad mother? A bad woman? Probably not. It just makes me human. 

As I lie here watching my little boy wriggling around, oblivious to how crazy his mother is, I feel content and at peace. So in the grand scheme of things, I think we’re probably going to be ok. I have no doubt that it’ll continue to be hard sometimes, but more than anything I think it’ll always be a miraculous, wonderful, amazing thing. Worth a little bit of crazy any day. 

Due Date 

March 22nd is the day I was meant to have my baby. The date that’s been constantly at the back of my mind since last September, the one I’ve dreaded the most. 

If I’m honest, I thought being pregnant again would make it easier somehow but I think that was wishful thinking. It’s a couple of days away and I can already feel the emotions bubbling up to the surface so I’m really glad I had the foresight to book a couple of days off work Monday and Tuesday. I guess it’s different for everyone, and on the one hand I did think maybe being in work would be a good distraction, but deep down it just feels wrong to be getting on with life when I know that’s the day my life should have been changing forever. 

I don’t want to focus on how sad and how hard Tuesday is going to be for me – that’s a given, but at the same time I don’t want to brush it under the carpet and pretend it’s just another day. I kind of feel like I should be doing something to mark it. I just don’t know what. 

So I’ll be at home able to feel whatever I need to feel and grieve however I need to grieve without prying eyes or well meaning friends and colleagues trying to help but not knowing how. I decided that removing myself from that potentially painful situation was probably wise because people don’t understand. With all the best will in the world, unless you’ve gone through it yourself (and I hope you never do) you simply can’t understand. I know all it would take is for one person to say “at least you’re pregnant now though” in that helpful, cheery tone to make my head explode and me to say something I regret to someone who was no doubt just trying to help. 

So that’s where I’m at this morning. Headed off to my first NCT class to talk about all things babies when actually I’m pretty preoccupied with the baby that will never be. The one that nobody will talk about. Of course that then makes me feel guilty for (for want of a better word) “prioritising” my lost baby over my living one today. 

This whole process of pregnancy and miscarriage and pregnancy post miscarriage is a whirlpool of conflicting emotions – guilt, anxiety and stress. I know in the long run it’ll be so worth it, and I know from my own experience that time really does heal, but I also know that this pain will likely never leave me. I’m not sure I want it to either. After all, it’s all I have left. 

As hard as Tuesday will be, once it’s gone, it’s gone. I feel as though it’s the final stage of the grieving process. The last landmark date that I have to deal with. I’ve found a place for my grief and whilst it will always be with me, it’s manageable. I just have to get through Tuesday and then put that grief back in its box. 

 

Mrs G To Be! 

Just a quick update for you my blog friends because yesterday was my 31st birthday…and today my amazing Paul asked me to marry him!! 

In an ideal world, we’d have met years ago, had loads of time to just get to know each other and get engaged and married before we thought about babies, but it’s not an ideal world as we all know. So when I met Paul at the ripe old age of 28 I thought “finally! This is him! This is the man I’ve been waiting for!” And everything just sort of slotted in to place for us quite quickly. We moved in together quickly (some said it was too quickly!) and because I felt the old biological clock ticking away marriage and babies were definitely on my mind. As you know, we fell pregnant unexpectedly last summer (well obviously not THAT unexpectedly since I’m not an idiot and I do know how these things work after all!) but were thrilled about it. After the miscarriage we talked about getting married, but really babies were all I could think about. 

Today I feel so lucky to have the man I love by my side through thick and thin, our baby boy on the way, and now we’ve made it official too – I am going to be a wife. A wife and a mother no less! I couldn’t be happier. Paul is the best man I know, and I just know he’s going to be the best daddy too. 

I am delirious right now. 😊 

   
   

Well that shows what I know…

You may remember that when I first found out I was pregnant this time I felt I was having a little girl. I have felt that all along. Well today we had our 20 week scan and let’s just say it’s a good thing I didn’t go out and buy a load of dresses! 

  
So we’re having a son! July 19th is now my confirmed due date and honestly, I am half ridiculously impatient for that date to have come and gone so I can meet my little man and see his beautiful little face, and half want to pause time because I’m enjoying this pregnancy so much. I’m passed the exhaustion (actually that’s not true, I still head to bed at around 8pm most nights, but believe it or not that actually is a vast improvement!) and the nausea, and today seeing that everything is growing normally and there don’t appear to be any complications has just taken a big weight off my shoulders. I’ve also been discharged from the consultant and am back to being midwife led which was what I was hoping for. 

I’m sure that there will still be days when I’m really anxious, and I’m also sure that a certain amount of anxiety is normal anyway, but for now I am happy and content curled up for the afternoon with a good book and my little boy wriggling away. 

We really couldn’t be happier. 💙