Archive for September, 2008

No respite

Daughter-in-law is now 37 weeks pregnant, she is well, slightly anaemic but nothing that a low-dosage iron supplement won’t remedy, but her stress levels are now rising daily. Her other half, our son, is now being admitted to hospital as his consultant has ‘serious concerns’ about his health, apparently he will only be in for a few days. The plan is to treat his ulcerative colitis aggressively with IVI steroids, remedy the obstruction and perform further investigations. We are all doubly stressed, concerned about son and his health but equally really worried about DIL, and trying to support her whilst keeping fingers crossed that baby doesn’t decide to come before 40 weeks. This is the last thing she needs at the end of her pregnancy, my heart goes out to the pair of them and I am hoping, hoping, hoping that whatever concoctions the hospital pump into son work a minor miracle and see him improving, quickly.

What I forgot to record in my blog was what happened to Jack, Izzy and their Mummy on Sunday. ( I sometimes feel as if I may be in a ‘Neighbours’ or ‘Eastenders’ storyline ). We were all invited to a family friend’s off-spring’s 1st birthday party. Hubby and I arrived, on time, but then daughters were later and later, I was getting quite irritated by their tardiness. Friend’s daughter said that she had 2 missed calls from one of my daughters, and when I checked so had I, so I phoned her. Very weepy daughter, screaming children, someone had just hit their car head-on and they were stuck down a country lane. Luckily other daughter had answered her phone (!) and her other half was on the way to retrieve them, I threw my car keys at Hubby and sent him off to join in the rescue expedition. Long and short, daughter has whiplash and chest bruising, car is a write-off but other woman has admitted it was her fault as she was on the wrong side of the road entirely. Daughter’s partner was in France, and uncontactable, boy, did he get in the ear when he landed yesterday! We are counting lucky stars though, it could have been so much worse.

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In the dumps

Status Quo – Down Down

This just about sums up my current mood. A good night’s sleep, and hopefully a lie-in will see me more upbeat.

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On stand-by

The birthing ball is inflated, the TEN’s has a new battery, the raspberry leaf tea is on the menu, and the pushchair has been taken to heir home. Yes, DIL is 36 weeks pregnant and the final preparations have been made for the arrival of Grandchild number 6. The longest we will have to wait to meet ‘Tinkerbell’ is 6 weeks, if s/he arrives on time it will be 4 weeks today, I’ve got butterflies just thinking about it!

Son is still unwell, his iron count is way down so he was in hospital on Thursday having an iron infusion, he is not noticing any improvement yet but apparently it can take a few day for any benefit to manifest. He is seeing his consultant again this week, he has ulcerative colitis, I hope that she can work a miracle and that he will be back to full health, or at least approaching it, by the time their baby arrives, otherwise I’m not sure how well he will cope. Plus I feel so sorry for DIL, all the attention and concern is for him when it should be her who everyone is ‘fussing’ over, but people are so shocked by Son’s appearance that it is him who people cosset. I chatted to her about it today and she said that it didn’t bother her, her problem as that Son is so short-tempered. We all know that this is his way of coping, he is frightened that if he lets his guard down he will become depressed so he responds by being angry, but it must be really difficult having to live with someone who is like that a lot of the time. This flare-up has been unremitting and so far has lasted over 6 months, he has lost nearly 3 stone in weight, he was slim to begin with and it is so sad to see this really active young man have to give up all his sport and physically change so rapidly. I think his health has influenced their decision to ask me to be at the birth of their baby, having someone else there will, hopefully, reduce the pressure on him, I think that DIL anticipates that he may not be able to provide as much support as she may want.

Must stop talking about this now, I can get quite emotional. He may be a grown man, a husband and soon-to-be Daddy, but when it comes down to it he is still my little boy and my instinct is to try and stop whatever is hurting him, and I can’t.

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‘Free at the point of use’, but only in certain circumstances, that’s the NHS today. Yes, it was a good idea to stop ‘health tourism’, where anyone who could not afford healthcare in their own country could present in the UK and use the NHS free of charge, but recently I have come across a case which causes me real problems.

A born and bred UK citizen, K, goes on holiday to a non-EU country, meets the ‘man of her dreams’ and in due course they marry. K now lives in the man’s homeland, frequently returning home to the UK as her Mother has a chronic illness and she shares in her Mother’s care with her siblings. Her Mother now has a malignancy for which she has had surgery and is now undergoing chemotherapy. K is pregnant,she had all her early care, including the nuchal translucency scan, abroad but has now returned to the UK to help care for and support her Mother. She has no idea how long she will be here, it is dependant on whether her Mother responds to her treatment.

Why have I got a problem? Well, the G.P surgery that she is still registered with, and has been since she was born, have said that if they have to provide her with any care they will charge her and that they are notifying the Trust about her non-resident status and anticipate that she will have to pay for her maternity care.

I’m angry, and really upset about this, to me it seems terribly unfair. K is here because her Mother needs her, she is actually helping out by providing the type of support the NHS would have to provide for her Mother if she were not here. K is not a health tourist, she is here out of necessity at a time when she happens to be pregnant. Here we are, bemoaning the high maternal and neonatal mortality rates in other countries due to a lack of accessible, free antenatal care, telling a UK citizen that if she wants maternity care she will have to pay for it.

I am incredulous about the whole ridiculous, disgraceful situation and basically I blame the money-grabbing G.P surgery. They could have kept quiet, they did not have to open their greedy, little mouths but, oh no, in the face of an opportunity to scrabble in a bit more money they just couldn’t resist it. What ever happened to the kindly, family G.P of just a few years ago?

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Too old for this?

I'm flopped on the sofa, absolutely shattered. I've had a run of 'working' days, including the weekend, which were immediately preceeded by 'Twin days' and are now being rounded off with 'Twin days'. Why on earth would anyone of my age decide to have children? At the moment we have a woman, only 1 month younger than me, who is expecting her first baby, she must be bonkers. At least I have the previous experience with babies to help me with the demands of tired toddlers, plus they do go home to sleep, or not. She will have to find the energy for the 24/7 'chasing your tail' of baby and chldcare. I was pondering this as I crawled through the tunnel and then as I sat inside the play tent that it leads to, 2 days a week is one thing, my whole life, now, with retirement from work edging ever closer, unthinkable. I have discovered though that once in the tent the boys play hide and seek for about 5 minutes and then lose interest and go off to play with something else so, as long as I don't mind sitting gnome-like in a spotty, little tent, I can get about 15 minutes to re-charge my batteries!

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Ramble on

Ramble On the Hobbit

Led Zeppelin.

Takes me back.

Fits my mood.

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Birth Plan

What is a plan? Well, we had an extension built. We employed an architect, we told him what we wanted, he did some lovely drawings, full of measurements, specifications and loadings etc. We spoke to a few builders who looked at all the lovely drawings and few weeks later told us how much it would all cost and how long it would take to do it. Then we sent our drawings to the council, out came a man, he looked around and then wrote us a letter saying we could have what we wanted but due to the soil and how our house, and our neighbours houses looked we would have to make some changes to our plan, not major, we would still end up with the extension but the preparations (footings) and the finishing (rendering) would have to be slightly more intricate. Back to the architect, he made the changes on the drawings, back to the builder, he made adjustments to the costs and the time it would take, both increased. Our plan was ready. Needless to say it took longer and ended up more expensive, both of which we knew would happen. The weather affects the pace of building; third parties like suppliers, sub-contractors and the need for visits at certain times by the building inspector will affect progress if they are late delivering or attending. Did we consider that us or the builder had failed because we hadn’t kept to our plan? No, we were realistic and, most importantly we had the end result that we had desired, our extension.

Back to the eponymous birth plan, I think that that it should be named something different. When my children were younger they had a book called ‘ Would you rather?’ by John Burningham, it posed dilemmas like ‘ would you rather eat spider stew, slug dumplings, mashed worms or drink snail squash?’ ( it is still available but in an updated version ) I think that Birth Plans should be named ‘What I would rather’. It would go along the lines of – I would rather be able to move freely than have to stay on a bed. Or perhaps it should be an informative questionnaire to be filled in by the woman –

  • Do you want to be mobile in labour ? Many women find that this helps them to cope better with contractions and can help labour to progress faster. If your baby needs to be continuously monitored it may be difficult to do this if you are moving around.
  • Do you want to use gas and air? The research suggests that it does not affect baby. When you stop inhaling it the effects wear off immediately. Some women experience nausea/vomiting when using it.
  • Do you want an epidural? The advice is not to have one before you are in active labour. You will need to have a cannula (small plastic tube) put in a vein. Research has shown that they may cause labour to be longer, and make it more likely that you may need help to give birth, but if it works it will get rid of the pain of contractions. Some labour wards have a limit on the number of women on labour ward at any one time who may have an epidural as they need more intensive monitoring. An epidural needs to be put in by an anaesthetist, he may not be immediately available. If the midwives or doctors believe that you may have a longer or more difficult labour they may suggest that you have an epidural.
  • Do you want your ‘waters’ to be broken. There is no proven benefit from this procedure if all is straightforward but it may be necessary if you are having an induction of labour or there is need to monitor baby by putting a clip on to his head……..

and so on.

Why this musing? I really hate it when women feel that they have ‘failed’ because their birth didn’t go the way that they had planned and over the last three days I have spent a lot of time de-briefing women because of this disappointment with themselves and/or the staff. Back to our extension, we got what we wanted in the end, we had to compromise on some choices, we can look back and say that it would have been nice if it had finished earlier, that it had kept within budget, but in the end we had a positive outcome. Our plan was flexible, it was a case of ‘we would rather, but we are content’, I wish that birth plans could be viewed in that way and that women could view the outcome, a healthy Mum and baby, in the same way.

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I love facilitating antenatal classes, it must be the frustrated actress in me. I taught them solidly for 10 years, couples, teenagers and active birth, they were all rewarding and for the majority of the time fun. I’ll admit that when I was shifted to my new patch, and the classes were held on a Wednesday so my job-share always had to do them, I was quite happy, I had got bored with the repetitive nature of the information. It’s now been 18 months though and, other than a few ‘one-on-one’ sessions with couples who were traumatised by previous birth experiences, my educational aids have sat, gathering dust, in my dining-room. On Sunday I gave son and DIL a quick, uncomplicated birth chat. They had been to their first parentcraft class that week and were less than impressed with it’s content and the fact that the midwife dismissed all questions with a ‘you don’t need to know that, or a ‘you’ll cope with that if it happens’ attitude. Well, yesterday they had the ‘complicated labour and birth’ session which should have covered induction of labour, interventions, ventouse, forceps, caesarian section and epidurals, and when son recounted the class to me I was reduced to tears, of laughter. Son was not impressed by my hilarity, and bought me up short by reminding me that ‘it was alright for him as he had me to give them all the information, but the others weren’t as lucky’. What I was laughing about was the description of the midwife’s behaviour when she was talking about a stretch and sweep. Apparently, whilst she was talking, she had the demonstration pelvis on her lap and was absent-mindedly doing the motions a midwife would undertake when carrying out the stretch and sweep, the 2 fingers together, them straight and moving forward and then rotating, all within the pelvis. I was laughing at this due to the fact that I could identify with this, I’m one of those people who use their hands a lot when speaking. Son went on though, he was fixated by watching the midwife as, by the end of her description, her fingers, then hand and wrist were disappearing into the pelvis and appearing out of the top. He was very concerned for all the women in the class, by all accounts they were all wide-eyed, and transfixed by the spectre of a stretch and sweep which wouldn’t be out of place on ‘Vets in Practice.

Back to being serious now, obviously the classes they are attending are not fulfilling their purpose, and this makes me feel sad, frustrated and angry. As son pointed out I can rectify the short-comings for him and DIL, I can’t for all the other couples. Those couple’s time as been wasted, their expectations not met, and possibly their opinion of midwives and their faith in the maternity unit put into question. I don’t blame the midwife, I blame the expectation by the service organisers that all midwives should facilitate these classes. The midwife knows all the information, she has been a midwife for many, many years but this does not mean that she is comfortable standing (or sitting) in front of 20 – 30 people and passing on her knowledge in an interesting form. Years ago we had a antenatal class co-ordinator, that was her only role. She would organise all the classes, design and provide the resources and be the contact point for all the women attending and the midwives conducting them. The midwives who facilitated the classes would have put themselves forward as wishing to incorporate this condensed information giving role into their practice, therefore they were motivated and enthusiastic, ideal for making the classes well-structured, appropriate and stimulating for the participants. This system was abandoned locally several years ago, obviously a money saving exercise. The co-ordinator role was abolished and it is now a piece-meal approach with equipment that is old, and often broken and midwives who feel ill at ease communicating to a room of people and so rely on ancient videos, one I’ve seen dates back to the 1970s, to fill in the time allocated to this important element of preparation for labour, birth and those first few days with baby. No wonder the NCT are so popular.

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Something strange happened to me yesterday, I lost a friend. I didn’t lose them in the they ‘died’ physically sense, I lost them in the ‘we have grown so far apart’ that I feel I don’t really know, or understand them anymore. We still have all the same connections and history but the ease, the understanding, the not having to think what to say, even that special not needing to make conversation element has just gone, I was finding them hard work. I feel sad about it, there is a little part of me, my life, that has vanished. It’s not as if we had an arguement or a disagreement, nothing unpleasant was said but things were different. I’ve been musing on it, trying to analyse my feelings and it’s as if they have become a different person, someone I would have as an aquaintance due to work but would never chose to have as a friend. Perhaps it’s me that has changed or it may be that, like an old married couple, we have grown apart but it just seems to have happened so quickly. I’m not the only person to have commented on my friend’s change though, they met one of my daughters, and before I even mentioned my disquiet to daughter she had gone off on a little rant about them as they had upset her and that is not the person I knew.

What do I do? I said to Hubby that I couldn’t even me bothered to speak to them, that I wasn’t worried about not having them around anymore, but that’s not true, I just want my old friend back.

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Whizzing through again!

What to say? Well, if anyone wants to read me on a more reliable basis I'm chatting away as A Midwife's Muse on WordPress otherwise I just pop here and back to 20six.

Son and his long term partner got married in May. The wedding had been planned for months, all the arrangements made, the dress bought and then nature stepped in, they found out that they were expecting a baby. The arrangements remained the same but the dress had to be re-thought so, yes, my 6th Grandchild is due in 6 weeks.

The other Grandchildren are growing apace. Jack, at 4 has started 'grown-up' school, and loves it, apparently it is full of dinosaurs, perhaps that is his comment on the age of his teachers? Amy is at nursery 3 full days, and taking it all very seriously, her favourite speech now is ' Quiet please. It is now quiet time. You may read, but quietly'. Izzy is 18 months, a truly beautiful little girl, and extremely adventurous. The year old twins, Jamie and Louis, are at nursery 1 day a week as their Mummy has gone back to work, and I have them the other 2 days. They remain identical, not just in looks but development and behaviour as well. For me, the key to coping with 2 mobile babies of the same age, has been organisation, routine and multiple stairgates, which is a whole new concept for me and childcare but its the only way that we can get through the day without upsets and accidents! 


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