Friday 24 November 2017

Headspace

If you follow me on social media, you would have seen that this week has been quite a challenging one for me - especially with regards to my Crohn’s and how I’m maybe not handling it in the best way this time. It’s an emotionally draining disease: the rollercoaster of feelings you can have in such a short space of time is quite overwhelming and this particular flare up seems different. I don’t know why, it just does. In all likelihood it could be down to the fact that I currently have no ‘normality’ yet; I’m still in a settling in period. My mundane routines are shot to hell what with the relocation from London, being a newlywed, going back to work after Maternity Leave and the mum-guilt associated with that. My support network is still there, oh for sure. But my personal go-to coping mechanisms aren’t necessarily.

I guess I just don’t feel like I have that guarantee this time, where my mind doesn’t need to flap so much (I have zero reason to think things won’t be ok and I am more than aware at the irrationality *eye rolls at self*) But for instance, these are the things I worry about…how I haven’t been back at work long enough to feel like I can prove myself, e.g. when my insides go mental don’t worry guys! Because when I’m healthy, oh I’m grand. Or to know how to function as a Mummy when really poorly. Or worrying about WHAT IS THE ACTUAL PLAN WITH MY CROHN’S. And when you’re sitting in a hospital bed on your lonesome in the middle of the night, you can’t help but let your mind wander.

There just seems so much uncertainty and for a woman who likes a plan…this one’s tough.
I spoke with my IBD nurses at the hospital and they recommended reaching out to the psychologists here. I’ve always been very vocal how for me counselling has been a great help – I’ve tried a variety over the years from one-to-one youth counselling, to a more general CBT approach and also group sessions for people with other chronic conditions. And now I feel that I need another outlet. For who I am as a person now. As a mother. As a wife. As a new West Country bumpkin. Where do I fit in and how do I learn how to manage with my Crohn’s for the current set up? Excuse the wanky term, but that’s a ‘journey’ that I’m going to have to go on and hopefully find out some of those answers.

I need to learn that only I put pressure on myself to be worrying for everyone one else in the world. But hey, once a worrier! But also that it’s key to know it’s all right that there’ll be things out of my control and everything will be just fine whether I’m in hospital or not. Whether I sit in this bed for another two weeks or I’m allowed home tomorrow. And that I’m also no use to anyone if I don’t allow myself time to get better: do as I’m told. Do as the doctors say. Rest when told. Let my body do its thing. Because my Crohn’s alone looks to be laden with many more hurdles and challenges over the coming months and I need to be ready for that. And it’s something I’ll be sharing with you all for sure.

From a more general standpoint as it stands with regards to my care, we are yet to manage a full meal. However we have had the camera up the ass today – wonderful Friday morning activity – and also had another x-ray to see what the bloody hell is happening inside me. There is a pesky 30cm section of small intestine that was found back in Summer 2015 and it was something we were ‘keeping an eye on’. Well the eyes have been subsequently peeled and nothing has changed so… but herein lies the problem. 30cm is a sizable chunk of small intestine. We don’t just whip that out willy nilly now guys. When discussing the large intestine, there are slightly more options surgically speaking – in that you can actually take it out completely if needs be. But when it comes to the unusually named small intestine (bearing in mind you have around 6m), you can’t live without that. And the more you chip away at it with resections, the more you leave yourself susceptible to future complications. Nutritional issues, feeding through tubes, being open to more serious diseases. Lovely stuff. So we’re tackling this from a medical point of view first. We’re mixing up the meds. We’re changing the doses. We’re hoping that I haven’t indirectly been overdosing on azathioprine as my weight has dropped. To quote the surgeon, is the resection off the table? No, not particularly. Is it something that requires urgent intervention this week? Also no.

So it’s time to get my game face on. It’s time to get my headspace sorted. Take those 3 minutes a day to meditate and zone out. To plan whatever is within my remit to prepare for.

And know that the rest will sort itself out.

X
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Tuesday 21 November 2017

First Year

One full year since we welcomed our little boy into the world. And now we're parents to an already independent, chatty, funny little boy who has (somehow) managed to use his eyebrows to express his feelings - in context - since the day he arrived.

I say it every year, but this last year has been one of the quickest in my life. It has also been simultaneously one of the most rewarding and challenging.

Let's take it back to the start...

Anyone that followed my blog previously will have read the journey we went on throughout my pregnancy with regards to my Crohn's. Around this time last year it was my elective c-section date; elective due to previous abdominal Crohn's operations; c-section so my arse didn't fall out when pushing. Our bags were packed and off we headed to the hospital on the Friday morning ready to have a baby by lunchtime. And we did! Everything went as planned as it can and we were home by the Sunday. A weekend of new baby.

How that was a year ago is utterly beyond me. Even when looking at photos, it still doesn't quite compute that I've been pregnant, had a baby and now he's one.
But it's times like this weekend just gone, at his first birthday party (which let's be honest, he had no clue about, because why would he?!) and seeing him with his little mannerisms and movements, his interactions with others; it's intriguing watching him grow and develop into a proper little boy. How much he's changed over the last few months in particular - so close to walking...a few waddles and then a slow sit down to the floor again - yet you can see that determination there. It's fascinating and it makes me excited for what else is to come as he continues to grow up and become his own person.

Can we just take a moment to discuss a child's first birthday party though? What a strange party to have. The guest of honour is completely unaware of the occasion; it's mainly for photos and the memories for others and to look back and say "this is what we did for your first birthday". Because you can't do nothing, it's their first birthday! First ever celebration of birth! Equally you know that from age 2 and onwards, the parties will be much better... So you do baking in rainbow coloured sponge, you get the pink wafers and party ring biscuits and you display the finger food along side the bottles of squash. And at least I finally had a good reason to eat kids' party food: I was hosting an actual kid's party this time.

But being surrounded by all of our family and friends, it made me ever so thankful and realise how lucky we truly are as our own family to have such wonderful people around us.

Because it gets tough sometimes. Parenting is genuinely all the clich├ęs you get told beforehand. I have learnt so much in what seems like such a short space of time. You are thrown in the deep end and learn on the job as a new parent - each day is different and throws challenges at you - some days are harder than others, but that's ok. The majority of people will have been through it too, at some point. And even if you are doing everything in your power to provide the best for your child, you will still read an article that makes you question how you are as a mummy or daddy, or hear the advice givers and nay-sayers and wonder what more you could be doing. My son makes me proud every day. And I have to know that as his mummy I am doing everything I can for him. And so is his daddy.

Happy First Birthday Son.
We love you very much.

X

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Thursday 16 November 2017

All New

*I've amended the heading for my blog, as I'm not sure how long 'new' lasts with regards to being a new mama. And am now no longer wedding planning as I'm a wife. But Crohn's is still ever present. We can talk about that another time perhaps?

Since I last blogged...
  • We relocated from London to the Westcountry
  • Moved in with the in-laws
  • I came off of Maternity Leave and am now a full time working mother
  • We got married!
  • Had a minimoon, sans son
  • It's our son's first birthday

So everything's still a bit new for me.

Having a blogging hiatus seemed slightly more acceptable when I sat back and realised how much change was happening in my life. I also feel that I very much wildly underestimated what the above tasks would entail; in both a physical and mental sense.

We'd covered all major life events in a period of around 8 weeks - never mind the sister-in-law's wedding, cousin's wedding and all the hens and stags in between. I think by the end of October I had decided that 'time' wasn't a thing any more. It didn't exist. It either went way too fast or chunks of time seemed to disappear without warning; not enough hours in the day, etc. etc.

So you're probably thinking, everything seems to have calmed down a bit now - why hop back onto the blogging figurative bicycle and share my thoughts? Well...this is by no means a 'woe is me' post; however I've mentioned before that sometimes slapping the keyboard with my feelings is quite the therapeutic task in itself. I've been thinking a lot about blogging of late - whether it be to help actually process all the change that's gone on, the fact my son is reaching his first birthday milestone and all that it brings with it (parenting highs, lows, challenges and rewards), that my own little family has done a full relocation of living and work, life as a newlywed (and what that even means?!), or that my Crohn's is still a pain in the arse and it bothers me.

I want to post about each of the main topics over the next week or so, as I'm currently signed off work (there's a wee insight into how my Crohn's is doing! *collective sigh*) But having blogged on and off for the last four years, I know when things have been on the tougher side, writing has really helped. Equally when things are on the lovely side, it's really enjoyable to write and share those moments, too.

And what better way to start again, than in two days time when it's our first born's FIRST BIRTHDAY. He's been here a year already. Out of the womb and our bab for a whole 12 months. I still don't feel like I was pregnant long enough to have grown him, let alone see him doing proper human things on his own like an independent chap. But he's here. And he's going to be one this weekend.

For he's a jolly good fellow...

Side note: having had a full life change of geographical location, working situation, my marital status and introduction to parenthood - I'm now trying to work out what Hattie, etc. actually means. So I'll get back to you on that once I've worked out what direction this here blog is going in.

X
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Thursday 9 February 2017

Feeling Crafty

Crohn's shenanigans aside, 2017 is the year of the wedding! Best get organising and preparing as a bride-to-be...

First stop of arts and crafts for this mama on mat leave was the Save the Dates. I wanted to make something that wasn't overly time consuming - what with a new baby and all - but was also something I'd be proud to send out to family and friends.

Debated for a good while whether the Save the Dates had to be in the same colour scheme, etc. of the overall wedding stationery - typically they're sent so far in advance that how can you even know what colours you'll have?! But because we had a baby a few months went by (around 9) when all things wedding got parked for the time being. So now we're not actually that far away and have a rough idea of colours and what not...
They're all done and dusted and posted, and I'm really pleased with how they turned out. Should probably point out that I ordered our stamp from The English Stamp Company, along with the maroon/wine coloured inkpad. Dead impressed with the quality of it (also a nice little keepsake as it's got our wedding date on). Will be ordering more stamps from there, for sure - most likely for decorative purposes on other wedding stationery.

But now? It's time to work on the invitations!

I did my research as to what a wedding invitation should include; the actual inviting of the guests, time, date, etc. plus any details and an RSVP. Best route forward (as I wanted to make them all myself still) was to make a wedding bundle; make bits little and often, as again, young baby to look after too. So back to Pinterest for all the inspiration and I think we've finally settled what they'll look like. Give or take creative license.
I'd like to point out that I'm pretty keen for all this stuff; as in bought my own guillotine dedicated. I also feel that I should actually get a loyalty card for Paperchase. So after perusing the internet and deciding 'the look' for our invites, I got my supplies in and started the arts and crafts all over again. Well I say that, all I've been able to physically do thus far is cut the A4 paper into A5; don't actually have any of the main info confirmed yet for our wedding day (!) All in good time, hey...
I have, however, downloaded a font and created the designs for the invites themselves. Took a good while but I think we've got there in the end. Now to find a printers...

Wedding crafting has brought me onto first name terms with our local courier, what with all the paper bits I've been ordering. Very British moments of "Ah yes, me again! I know, so many deliveries" *rolls eyes and commences inane chit chat as you sign for the parcel* But lots of paper brings lots of wedding maths, like if there are 104 guests in the daytime with the wedding on a weekend, what colour envelopes do we need? (FYI, I'm a whizz now at paper/envelope sizes if anyone has any questions.)

But similarly to the Save the Dates, when the invites are complete I shall be sure to show you!

X
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Breast Foot Forward

As I sat in bed this morning, night light on, feeding my son, I took a moment to enjoy and appreciate the close bond that breastfeeding has given me and my little boy over the last three months.

I always said that I wanted to be able to breastfeed exclusively for the first two weeks of my child's life - which I did - and that if I could, I'd like to get to six months; even if that was through combination feeding. But tried to maintain a 'what will be, will be' type-vibe (so many opinions and pressures for feeding a baby, as I'm sure you're aware. Is my baby being fed? Yes. Great. As you were then). I've been combination feeding for a good while now and I wouldn't change the routine we've fallen into, by any means. However I always thought that when I chose to stop breastfeeding it would be just that: my choice.
Mother Pukka X Parent Apparel jumper with all my parenting feels
Good ol' Crohn's and the rules that go with the scans and sedation that I need means that my breastfeeding days might be numbered. If ever there was a sign that we go full bottle, it's being told that for 48hrs after my MRI and at least 48hrs after the sedation, I cannot breastfeed. Granted I could express to keep my supplies up and running, but it works out at almost a week long with the appointments being so close together. So maybe I take stock and prepare for the changeover.

I'm just finding it all a tad tricky, you see...everything a double-edged sword. As much as I love the morning feed when it's all quiet and just bab and I, both half asleep, it's probably for the best that any energy I do have, I keep for myself so I can be a relatively functioning human being and be there to provide whatever my son needs.
*Haven't actually done this, FYI*
I'm also incredibly nervous about the forthcoming investigations; the MRI I thought had been parked for the colonoscopy, is in fact going ahead as they called me yesterday. So I had my pre-assessment yesterday and my bloods done (gosh, so tired), I have my scan next week and the colonoscopy the week after. BUT WHAT ARE THEY GOING TO FIND?! I know I'm not well. For God's sake it hurts to have the little man even lean on my tummy. Standing is also generally becoming a bit uncomfortable; it's easier to walk hunched over like Quasimodo, but it's also not a look I recommend when trying to push your pram.

We'll see though. I've done this before. I've definitely been through worse with my Crohn's. Got to keep the long game in mind; experiencing the changes in my son each day and that come Autumn, I'd like to be able to walk down the aisle without looking like I'm from the Hunchback of Notre-Dame.

X
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Monday 6 February 2017

Return of the Ass Invasion

Not a sequel I'm particularly keen on, but it was only a matter of time until it was a knickers down/knees up appointment with the gastro team. And after what I thought was an MRI in the pipeline it appears that nope, let's get me in for a pre-assessment and colonoscopy in two weeks time. Joy. When the hospital called I thought it was to schedule in the aforementioned MRI - but it seems that my 'case', if you will, has been discussed in the clinic between the consultants and the best route forward is to get up all in my insides instead.

I know I'm not well at the moment (still essentially green in complexion because I'm so pale) and the bags under my eyes now have their own set of bags. I just get this massive anxiety over what they might find when they're routing round my intestines - especially now I've got the small human to be there for and to look after. I don't want to be the poorly mama. I want to be enjoying every mini milestone he hits as he grows and not need to abandon winding him because I need a sit down. He'll be three months on Friday and in the grips of teething so needless to say it's all just getting a tad overwhelming at present.

But despite my finding it tough at the moment, his beautiful little face makes every day seem that bit easier. Such a great distraction from the inevitable shits and pain.

I would just like to get the ass invasion over and done with and the medical plan put in place; I've got a wedding to plan and a baby to be with.

X

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Tuesday 24 January 2017

I'm Pooped

If I've had an unintentional break from blogging, I always find it easier to pick it up again when it's Crohn's related. I don't know if that's because my Crohn's escapades always leave me wondering and subsequently that means I've got a lot on my brain that I need to let out. But either way. Here we are.

So as you are aware, I have Crohn's Disease and last year I also fell pregnant. As I mentioned many a time in my pregnancy posts, I considered myself super lucky to be able to enjoy every aspect of pregnancy like a 'normal' person with my Crohn's essentially putting itself in remission whilst I grew a human.

Well, said human is now out of me and 10 weeks old on Friday. And lo and behold we're back aboard the gastro train and it's like my Crohn's never left. (Wah).
Casually still waiting to be seen. Everyone else had left. Even the cafe had closed.
I had my catch up with my gastro consultant last week for what can essentially be described as a prelim to what looks to be an MOT for my postpartum body; all the bloods due to be taken and a small bowel and pelvic MRI in the diary. I think I spent the first month or so of motherhood pretending that I was perhaps more well than I actually was. No one should be shitting blood at the frequency I am and I think I tried to just get on with it for longer than I should have. And now I'm where I am now, which is scared to eat for fear of the impending bloodbath out my back nethers.

This in itself is a catch 22 as I'm still breastfeeding (technically combination feeding but the boobies are still required multiple times a day) and as any breastfeeding mother will know, it makes you oh so hungry. Any new parents will also know that looking after a new baby makes you rather tired (!) So this, coupled with the blood poos is all adding up to one mama who's so pale she's see-through and in need of a ruddy good lie down for about 8 days.

Don't get me wrong, I was never expecting my Crohn's to calm down when preg and I also wasn't expecting it to stay away once my bab was born. But if I was to say that I'm not sad about these latest developments, I'd be lying.

However I have to look at the bigger picture now I have a son and my stubbornness and my pride has to take a backseat when it comes to my health and looking after my baby boy. Would I rather stay breastfeeding but getting more poorly because I don't want to take certain medicines? Or do I take the medicines that would mean I'd have to stop breastfeeding, but can ultimately feel better? Obviously it's the latter. I just hope that the MRI isn't complete doom and that there's something we can do in the short-term so I can get back to being mama. Even if it's a mama who shits a lot.

And my poor bab having to get dragged on his Sleepyhead into the bathroom 10+ times a day. Hopefully he's far too young to be scarred by the experience. But everybody poos. his mama just does it more than your average.

X

PS: My hospital is in Westminster. The day of my appointment was also the day that they had to close and evacuate Westminster Bridge due to a WWII bomb discovery in the River Thames. Let's hope that's not an omen of any kind, hey.
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Thursday 5 January 2017

Cheers & Change

Earlier on this week I posted a well overdue message of thanks to our friends and family, as we've only got around to going through everything now the Christmas break is all done. (So again) wow; the other half and I are completely overwhelmed with everyone's kind words and generosity with their gifts. I just wanted to reiterate how thankful we are...tip top welcoming of our son into the world, guys.

When reading through the congratulations and looking at photos from the first couple of weeks you realise how much your little human changes - and how quickly it happens. Other parents tell you to make the most of when they're a newborn because it doesn't last very long. They're not wrong! Me and the little fella had his six week check up today with the Health Visitor and as he was lying there being weighed, he looked like a proper little boy. Already. Not the small human lump he has been since his arrival back in November. There he was, his big open eyes looking around. The cooing and gurgling (and grunting?!) Lifting his head up and checking out the scenery. His face has changed so much.

But because he is only six weeks - that's not even 50 days old yet - I still get cuddles with my tiny spud; his little legs all froggy and tucked up like he's in my womb. There is honestly no feeling like it. I HAVE A SON. WE MADE A TINY HUMAN AND NOW HE'S HERE IN REAL LIFE. Barmy isn't it?!

As you can sense I'm still having moments of what the ruddy hell?! We. Are. Parents. It really is quite the baptism of fire with almost every day bringing a new experience as a first-time mummy and daddy. FYI, it's true what they say; you can read all the advice books in the world beforehand, but nothing actually prepares you for when your small human comes home.

But he is here. And now we officially have our own line on the family tree.
(It's true. He's legally registered as a human being and everything)
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