A week of new things

Parenting has a strange rhythm. Sometimes nothing happens for ages and then you get weeks like the last one when lots of interesting things happen all at once.

  • In her own room! Last week was half-term and we finally moved Little Girl to her own bedroom. I felt emotional about it for about two seconds, until I realised that I could now turn my bedside table lamp on and read in bed again without having to rely on the night-light alone. Wonderful! Less good is the fact that she is just not a very good sleeper. She will fall asleep on her own or with a bit of hand-holding at the start of the night but her 3am wake-ups are a bit more difficult and long-winded. I keep telling myself it is just a phase, but I do feel a bit tired after getting up three times in 20 minutes to settle her back down. So far she has only had one good night in there but most nights I give up after about half an hour in the early hours of the morning and bring her back to her little co-sleeper bed.
  • Fever! On Tuesday she had her first illness! I am not counting the thrush she was born with or the colds  or the nasty bogey eye she’s carried with her for 6 months because otherwise it sounds like she’s been ill all her life, which is not quite the case. So she started a fever on and off, possibly teething related or so I thought. Then on Wednesday the fever, still on and off, got particularly bad with a high of 38.7 degrees Celsius mid-morning. I still wasn’t really worried (at this stage I don’t know if I’m laid back or completely blasé about baby illnesses), concluded from reading her baby book that she wasn’t going to self-combust, gave her some Calpol and put a cold flannel on her head. Confirmation she wasn’t well (as if I needed more) came when I put her to bed in the evening and she was asleep as soon as her head hit the mattress. Still not worried.
  • Pancake Tasting! We celebrated Pancake Day as a family one day late and had some lovely ham, egg and cheese ones first. Someone explain to me the secret for cooking eggs without burning the pancake please! I ended up putting the whole thing under the grill and it worked to a fashion but I doubt that’s how professionals do it. We had loads of sweet pancakes after and that’s when our first case of Really Bad Parenting happened. Badgerman was sitting next to Little Girl on the sofa and whilst he wasn’t looking, she took the pancake out of his hand and stuffed it in her mouth, Nutella and all. The plan for giving her chocolate and other addictive substances was to wait until she was at least a year old but what the heck, 7 months it is! She can’t fight her genes, that’s what it is. I am hoping she will forget how yummy it tasted because I have no intention of giving her any more for a while. I hope she isn’t scarred for life at how mean her parents are to withhold such goodness from her.
  • Rash! Today, she has a rash on her back and the top of her head. I am told by reliable sources that it might be a post-viral rash informing me that Little Girl is well on the way to recovery after her nasty bout of fever so I Am Not Worried. I promise to go to the doctor’s if it’s not gone by Sunday.
  • And Finally! If it wasn’t enough, I elbowed Little Girl in the face earlier whilst trying to sit her back up. She wailed like a banshee and I felt like a very bad mummy.

Thank goodness it’s nearly the weekend! Apart from the fact that it’s my birthday on Sunday and turning 32 is feeling much worse than 30 and 31 ever did. I look back on those days when I could still say ‘At least I’m still young!’ with envy.

Nutella face
The Nutella Incident
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The Black Hole of Preventative Medicine

I have had a lot of thoughts about a lot of things in the last few days and not a lot of time to write, probably because it takes me so darn long to put these thoughts together into agreeable sentences! So I write and rewrite ad nauseam until I almost impulse-publish to get it out of my face. This post is more a stream of consciousness than anything else though so best be prepared for some rambling.

 

Anyway… I have been thinking about Preventative Medicine in the UK – or lack thereof – following a post by Lady Jennie on World Moms Blog on perineum re-education. If you don’t know what that is, I recommend you read her post; you should find it enlightening.

 

I should start by stating that on the whole I have only a little faith in the General Practitioner (GP) service and the NHS, aside from my wonderful experience in the hands of the midwives and doctors of my local hospital at the time of the birth of my daughter. I don’t tend to see my GP very often; in fact I only go once I have exhausted all other avenues be it pain relief, bed rest or plain ‘I’ll go if I’m not better next week’. Pretty much every time I have gone to the doctor’s, I have been prescribed paracetamol or ibuprofen regardless of the problem. Thank you for nothing, Doctor, but you are just treating a symptom and not even trying to identify the underlying problem. Because of this I once had to seek a second opinion when a doctor prescribed me paracetamol after telling me rather forcefully that I must be pregnant (when I knew for a fact it simply couldn’t be so at the time) and was eventually diagnosed with a urine infection, but you know ‘Doctors know best’ and all that.

 

In a sense this is OK because I am an adult; I know my body and if I am worried about something I will push to be heard and I will seek a second opinion if I feel it is warranted. All the same, I was still surprised that you can’t get a cholesterol test done as a matter of course in the UK before you are 40 unless there is a history of high cholesterol levels in your family. Apparently until that age the results can vary depending on what you’ve had to eat in the days leading to the test. I am not sure how true this really is, but that is what my GP told me and I let it pass because I ate and felt well at the time so I was not overly worried. I would still have quite liked one because I had just turned 30 and felt I should get some sort of overall health check done to confirm that I was, you know, OK for my age or something. But it’s just not done. And if it is done, they will only tell you the results if they are negative. In France, you get the results of all lab tests through the post, not via the surgery’s receptionist so they feel a bit more concrete if you see what I mean. When I was 18, I had a blood test done in France that returned high levels of cholesterol. I was working at McDonald’s at the time and getting my free meal a day so I was not exactly surprised but it was a helpful trigger to take better care of myself. This blood test was part of a health check that French GPs tend to do as a matter of course on an annual basis.

 

Now I have a daughter I am of course more aware of these things than before. Little Girl is nearly 6 months old. In her short life, she has seen a doctor twice. The first time was because she suffered with thrush when she was first born. We had noticed her mouth was looking white and had consulted our baby book. It suggested it was thrush so we took her to the GP to get a diagnosis and some medication. The doctor did not look at my baby once. He took my ‘I suspect it is thrush’ at face value and we were out of the door within three minutes, two of which were taken by him writing the prescription.

 

The second time we saw a doctor was at her 6-weeks check. It was a thorough examination but it was also the first and only one, discounting the usual tests undertaken when a baby is first born. Her vaccination jabs were done by a nurse. She gets weighed every so often but it does not seem to be mandatory as it is a drop-in centre, manned by a lovely health visitor but she is not medically qualified.

 

Even though my last experience of the French system was 13 years ago, I still find this most disconcerting. It had never occurred to me that my baby would not be assigned a proper paediatrician, who would get to know her and who would see her regularly to check her development. This is what I have come to expect coming from a country where you can book an appointment with a specialist consultant yourself (or via your GP) with almost no waiting list, where your GP knows you by name and has probably known you since you were born (I had the same GP from 4  to 18 years old; he used to do a lot of home visits and knows a lot more about me and my family than pretty much anyone). My biggest worry is that my baby could have problems that I am not qualified to recognise; all I have to go by is my baby book and my ‘instincts’, which are not something I would care to shout about. I don’t particularly want to be one of those worried mothers who turn up at the GP every time little Johnny has a wrongly coloured poo but I also wish it was not left entirely to me to identify potential problems in my child.

 

 

I don’t know if I am over thinking this and if it is something that British mothers worry about at all, but for all my love for England in this instance I would be happier over the Channel. I would welcome your thoughts!

Are you S.A.D?

Every year around this time, I feel a bit depressed. It always happens in January, a combination of lingering darkness, the end of the festivities and the cold weather. It always gets me and this year more than others because I am on maternity leave. Badgerman has gone back to work after two weeks off and it just feels odd around the house on my own. Well, not on my own, Little Girl is very present but it does get a bit silent around here, she being a bit lacking still in conversational skills.

I don’t usually have a problem with silence. I am comfortable with my own thoughts. I am a true introvert in that way: I get refreshed by spending time on my own or at least undisturbed, reading, watching TV and just being.  I have my moments of melancholia but they are usually linked to home-sickness and thinking about the past and there are things I know to do to combat them. Two mornings ago though, listening to the raging storm throwing our bin around outside with Little Girl asleep across my lap, I felt alone. Because I do not suffer from depression, I know that I just need the baby groups to start again; being in other people’s company will be sufficient to lift my spirits. But there’s nothing worse than feeling alone and not being able to go outside because the rain is falling down too hard or you might get blown away by the wind, when you know that if only you could see another person, you would feel better already.

The Sun

Knowing I am not on my own feeling like this does help. It’s even got a proper name ‘Seasonal Affective Disorder‘. I can never take it very seriously because as acronyms go, it’s a bit ironic really. Having looked at the official SADA site, I am however reluctant to identify myself with it. It is one thing to feel a bit down and call it ‘winter blues’ and quite another to be diagnosed as a S.A.D sufferer. I know a number of people who get ‘winter blues’ but not any who suffer all the symptoms referred to on the site because of the weather, such as:

  • Depression
  • Sleep Problems
  • Lethargy
  • Over Eating
  • Loss of Concentration
  • Social Problems
  • Anxiety
  • Loss of Libido
  • Mood Changes

If I had all of these symptoms at the same time, I would just call it depression. That said I am glad I don’t live in Norway.

Wikipedia also includes ‘summer blues’ in the list of S.A.D, which I hadn’t even thought could exist. At least I am positive I am not affected, as if I had my way it would be summer all year round and I would only go to Winterland once a year on holiday for a bit of snow.

My tactics for beating the winter blues are simple: go out. Even if it is just across the road to the newsagents to get a pint of milk, get out and talk to someone; have a little stroll and eat some fruit, preferably citrus fruits like Satsumas and oranges that contain the vitamin C your body needs.

In conclusion, my heart goes out to all S.A.D sufferers; I have only a mild form of the condition but I rejoiced when the days started to get longer on 22nd December. I am looking forward to April when it will be light at 4pm again – that is, until Daylight Saving kicks in again and messes up my life for a few more weeks.

On This Day a Year Ago

A year ago today, I was finding out that I was pregnant. It was a joyful occasion but also a bit scary. It didn’t feel quite real. Little did I know what laid in store for me either, which is just as well because otherwise I would have tried to run away, or something. In no particular order there was:

How I got a seat on the train

1. Missing out on the snow (both times!): that’s because I spent the WHOLE of December in bed with the kind of morning sickness that lasts all day. I wasn’t even sick more than once, but I felt like it a lot. Maybe because I have a phobia of sickness. Being sick makes me feel sicker. Thinking about sickness makes me feel sick. Other people’s sickness makes me join in the fun. Plus it gives me the scariest feeling of alienation and loneliness. So, I am not a fan. If someone had told me ‘Thou shalt suffer from debilitating motion sickness for 6 weeks’, I don’t know what I would have done. Which sorts of makes the thought of a second child some day a bit daunting.

I couldn’t set foot in the kitchen, I couldn’t even sit at the computer for more than 10 minutes without feeling awful. In fact, the first two weeks, I was in bed unable to move my head. I lost half a stone (which incidentally I still haven’t put back on, so yay for breastfeeding!). This is also why this blog that I had just started suffered sudden death and didn’t really recover until now. This is also the reason why I will never again drink ginger tea and eat rice cakes, thank goodness. Instead, I discovered that butter madeleines work just as well to settle the stomach, and I didn’t look back.

There was a lot of snow in December. Or so I’m told. I didn’t see it much, unless you count looking out the window forlornly on a rare upright day.

2. Missing out on Christmas fun: It also coincided with Christmas. So on top of not being able to eat fun smelly cheese and saucisson, I couldn’t have foie gras or sparkling wine (not Champagne, boak). I also couldn’t go to France to visit my family, which was the original plan. The first clue that we needed to cancel the trip was, obviously, the morning sickness. The second clue was the 2 mile queue outside St Pancras train station and the cancelled Eurostar trains. This on top of the prospect of 8 hours of train with a trek across Paris on the metro sort of made my mind up for me. The only positive about this situation was that we got a full refund from Eurostar, which they actually offered us if we’d consider rebooking the trip for the new year. Yes please!

3. Fainting on trains: it is possible to faint on the train whilst sitting. All you need to do is get sleepy (easy when it’s 7.30am and you have an hour’s commute into London), overheat and, well, be pregnant. After a few tries, I discovered that the best cure was to take my coat off, drink water, and eat lots of Haribo sweets. Whatever works!

4. Loo, where art thou? When you start planning your trips out by plotting which shops you can sneak into without being seen, or where they don’t mind you going in without forcing you to buy something, you know you’re having the full pregnancy experience.

5. Cravings: I developed an obsession with burgers. Not nice home-made organic healthy burgers, mind you, oh no! I craved the high-fat, high-salt fast food burgers. I decided that it was my body telling me it needed fat and salt and I followed its lead. With shame in my heart and a smile on my greasy face.

6. All the other bad things: reflux, not being able to sleep on my stomach, breathlessness and backache the last 5 weeks. Oh, and the birth.

7. On a more positive note, I was hungry all the time and ate a lot of whatever I fancied. The first trimester, I tried very hard to eat healthily. Then I stopped caring, because I was Just. Too. Hungry. Pregnancy turned me into a hobbit, with snack in bed, first breakfast, second breakfast once I got to work, elevensies, lunch and various other snacks throughout the day, followed by dinner. All I wanted to eat was bread, pasta, rice and potatoes. Especially potatoes, which it is possible have been put on this earth just to make me happy.

Pregnancy Secrets no one ever tells you

pregnancy

A year ago today, I was finding out that I was pregnant. It was a joyful occasion but also a bit scary. It didn’t feel quite real. Little did I know what laid in store for me either, which is just as well because otherwise I would have tried to run away, or something. In no particular order there was:

pregnancy
How I got a seat on the train

1. Missing out on the snow (both times!): that’s because I spent the WHOLE of December in bed with the kind of morning sickness that lasts all day. I wasn’t even sick more than once, but I felt like it a lot. Maybe because I have a phobia of sickness. Being sick makes me feel sicker. Thinking about sickness makes me feel sick. Other people’s sickness makes me join in the fun. Plus it gives me the scariest feeling of alienation and loneliness. So, I am not a fan. If someone had told me ‘Thou shalt suffer from debilitating motion sickness for 6 weeks’, I don’t know what I would have done. Which sorts of makes the thought of a second child some day a bit daunting.

I couldn’t set foot in the kitchen, I couldn’t even sit at the computer for more than 10 minutes without feeling awful. In fact, the first two weeks, I was in bed unable to move my head. I lost half a stone (which incidentally I still haven’t put back on, so yay for breastfeeding!). This is also why this blog that I had just started suffered sudden death and didn’t really recover until now. This is also the reason why I will never again drink ginger tea and eat rice cakes, thank goodness. Instead, I discovered that butter madeleines work just as well to settle the stomach, and I didn’t look back.

There was a lot of snow in December. Or so I’m told. I didn’t see it much, unless you count looking out the window forlornly on a rare upright day.

2. Missing out on Christmas fun: It also coincided with Christmas. So on top of not being able to eat fun smelly cheese and saucisson, I couldn’t have foie gras or sparkling wine (not Champagne, boak). I also couldn’t go to France to visit my family, which was the original plan. The first clue that we needed to cancel the trip was, obviously, the morning sickness. The second clue was the 2 mile queue outside St Pancras train station and the cancelled Eurostar trains. This on top of the prospect of 8 hours of train with a trek across Paris on the metro sort of made my mind up for me. The only positive about this situation was that we got a full refund from Eurostar, which they actually offered us if we’d consider rebooking the trip for the new year. Yes please!

3. Fainting on trains: it is possible to faint on the train whilst sitting. All you need to do is get sleepy (easy when it’s 7.30am and you have an hour’s commute into London), overheat and, well, be pregnant. After a few tries, I discovered that the best cure was to take my coat off, drink water, and eat lots of Haribo sweets. Whatever works!

4. Loo, where art thou? When you start planning your trips out by plotting which shops you can sneak into without being seen, or where they don’t mind you going in without forcing you to buy something, you know you’re having the full pregnancy experience.

5. Cravings: I developed an obsession with burgers. Not nice home-made organic healthy burgers, mind you, oh no! I craved the high-fat, high-salt fast food burgers. I decided that it was my body telling me it needed fat and salt and I followed its lead. With shame in my heart and a smile on my greasy face.

6. All the other bad things: reflux, not being able to sleep on my stomach, breathlessness and backache the last 5 weeks. Oh, and the birth.

7. On a more positive note, I was hungry all the time and ate a lot of whatever I fancied. The first trimester, I tried very hard to eat healthily. Then I stopped caring, because I was Just. Too. Hungry. Pregnancy turned me into a hobbit, with snack in bed, first breakfast, second breakfast once I got to work, elevensies, lunch and various other snacks throughout the day, followed by dinner. All I wanted to eat was bread, pasta, rice and potatoes. Especially potatoes, which it is possible have been put on this earth just to make me happy.