Second Pregnancy…the story so far

So it’s been a long, long while since I wrote a blog, but I have recently felt the need to share some of my recent experiences throughout my pregnancy, which honestly, have not been particularly nice.

As a woman, one of the hardest things we do in our lives is go through pregnancy and labour. Those women who make the conscience decision not to have children have to go through relentless questions about why they don’t want children and be patronisingly told that they will probably change their mind one day; I sympathise with you. And for those women who want children, but for many reasons cannot have them, my heart goes out to you.

But this blog is about some the difficulties of pregnancy. This is my second pregnancy; my first consisted of 25 weeks of daily vomiting, not being able to eat anything, months of leg cramp and back ache, sore boobs and constant exhaustion. Those were just the physical aspects. The hormones were crazy and my mental health suffered drastically due to some so called friends taking it upon themselves to decide what the right and wrong thing to do during my pregnancy were; we are no longer friends.

Apart with my close friends, everything becomes about being pregnant; every conversation you have with colleagues and associates is about pregnancy and babies and all I’m thinking is “this isn’t my only job”. But instead of conversing about work, films and the weather, I spend my time updating them about how far along I am, expressing my tiredness, nodding and smiling when they say “WOW you’re getting big” and trying to keep a smile on my face and stay excited for the benefit of everyone else…that’s the hardest part…

I am currently around 22 weeks pregnant. This was an unplanned and very surprising pregnancy. That’s the first hurdle. How do you tell people that you’ve fallen pregnant only 2 months into a relationship when you know full well that you’re going to be judged? I feel that most people get judged when they fall pregnant, I am certainly guilty of it! I’m sure many of you have thought “how are they going to afford it?”, “she will ruin her career”, “they’re too young…too old…too childish…”. So I feel the need to make a little joke about having 2 kids from 2 different dad’s just so people know that it doesn’t bother me. But why should I? But anyway! After getting over the judgmental “wow…that’s…erm…great”…We have to move forward and bake a baby.

This pregnancy has had little to no sickness and other general pregnancy symptoms haven’t been too bad! So I did start to think, fab, this’ll be nice and easy! But boy was I wrong.

When finding out I was pregnant, my partner and I discussed the logistics of moving in together. At the time I was in a big enough 2 bed flat, so I asked my landlord if my partner could move in, but unfortunately he said no; he didn’t want a baby in the flat but instead let me out of my contract so that we could find somewhere for all of us. It was kinda nice of him…but kinda mean at the same time. I had to move for a second time in a matter of months. Everyone knows the stress of moving, but add being in the early days of pregnancy when your hormones are insane, and add a 4 year old who has only just settled in…it’s not fun! So after a stressful and yet again expensive move, we are in a lovely 3 bed house with a garage and garden and for the first time ever I feel financially stable. Things are looking up.

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12 week scan picture

Everything was going swimmingly, just dealing with normal day to day life and freaking out about Alex starting school in September more than anything. But the day before being 20 weeks pregnant, I receive a phone call from a midwife at Cygnet Wing advising me that I needed to have the blood test done that day that I should have had done around 15 weeks…but honestly I just kept forgetting about it. This blood test was to replace the Nuchal translucency measurement that they were unable to do at my 12 week scan as the baby wouldn’t get in a good enough position. This test would tell us how likely it is that the baby would have an abnormality such as Downs Syndrome, Spina Bifida or any of the other hundreds of things. I clearly thought nothing of it! I’m 29 years old, Alex is perfectly healthy and it would never happen to me! So a midwife popped round, took some blood, Alex watched and her face was hilarious and off my blood went to be tested.

The following Monday brought a very exciting day! My 20 week scan when we hopefully get to find out the gender of the baby. I wanted another girl because I know what I am doing with a girl and the idea of a boy kinda weirded me out. And Alex would obviously love a little sister. Fane had no preference (but really he wanted a boy). So the ultra sound technician did her job, measuring all the limbs and organs and checking the heartbeat. We were advised the baby has a short femur and would need another scan 4 weeks later to keep an eye on her growth, but she didn’t seem that concerned. We also got the wonderful news that the baby is another girl! Due to her short legs we have decided to call her Stumpy.

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20 week scan

On leaving the hospital over joyed with the news and about to go work, I receive a phone call from an unknown number. The very serious sounding woman at the other end of the phone said it’s so and so from Cygnet Wing, I thought they must have forgotten something, but no, she said she had the results from the blood test I had the previous week. She didn’t sound like the usual happy midwife that you speak to so my mood changed dramatically and the skip in my step died. She advised us that there my results came back high risk for a chromosome abnormality with a 1/24 chance that something is wrong. Shocked and confused I just say okay…she then goes on to tell me that we need to decide whether we want further screening, and I knew exactly what this consisted of, she didn’t need to give me all the information. I was asked to get back to her asap with a decision.

I told Fane what was said and in the car explained to him exactly what further screening meant. An amniocenteses; a needle entering the amniotic sack to withdraw some fluid to be tested. The test brings a small chance of miscarriage. Depending on who you speak to or where you look on the internet will depend what this chance is, ranging from 1-5%. Fane tried to stay positive with logic in mind, but I caved and burst into tears about the situation. Do we go through the rest of the pregnancy not knowing and being unable to prepare for a possibly disabled child, or do we risk the test and I know exactly what we are dealing with? Thousands of women make this decision every year and the outcomes are varied. Some are told they are high risk and their baby is fine and some are told they are low risk and their baby is still born without an abnormality. But no matter how many websites, forums, and stories I read, nothing made me feel better or made the decision any easier. What would I do if she had an abnormality? I would cope, I would have to, I would love her like I would if she was perfectly healthy. But could I cope if I didn’t know what was to come? No I couldn’t. My anxiety wouldn’t take it. I wouldn’t be able to go the next 20 weeks not knowing without having a daily breakdown, and Fane felt the same. I called my mum to tell her what was going on and she came home from work immediately to comfort me; no matter how old I get I will always need my mum in times of distress. Martin also came home as he was very worried about me too. We were all in agreement that going ahead with the further screening was the best option for my sanity, I called the Cygnet Wing and they got me an appointment for the following day at Luton and Dunstable.

The appointment wasn’t until the afternoon, so without any sleep, we just pottered around the house in the morning, went to Franky and Bennys for pancakes in an effort to cheer me up, and then headed to L&D. The women and children’s health ward is nowhere near as nice as Bedford’s Cygnet Wing. It’s much older and colder, dark and gloomy hallways, paint stripping off the walls and a tiny waiting room for the ultrasound department. Neither of us could really speak. We just waited to be called.

When entering the room noticed it was not as welcoming as Bedford. The consultant and the midwife did not have beaming smiles on their faces. They explained the process to us again and about the chance of miscarriage and began with a scan to take the babies measurements again. She mentioned the short legs as the technician did the day before, but this time she expressed her concern; it could be a sign of this, a sign of that, but not once did she say “it could be nothing”. Eventually we got to the amniocentesis. The sterilised and covered things and got everything prepped…all I could think was what if the baby moves and hits the needle…

She spent what felt like a life time looking for a suitable place to enter the amniotic sack, and the first time she put the needle in the quickly pulled it out as it wasn’t as suitable as she thought. It wasn’t very reassuring that it’s that easy to make the wrong decision. She entered a second needle and was happy with the position. I asked Fane to keep looking at me and I at him and I squeezed his hand as I felt what was like the worst period cramp you could ever imagine. Thankfully it was over in about 30 seconds. But then it felt like we were being kicked out the door.  I was happy to hear that we would likely get the results back in 2/3 days…but these 2/3 days were the longest of my life.

Both of us went to work on the Wednesday and Thursday and carried as normal as much as possible, both telling our colleagues and hearing similar stories from their/their partners/their friends pregnancies. It seems so many couples go through the same difficult time, some being told they had in a 1/5 chance and still finding out their baby was healthy. It was hard to keep distracted just like waiting for any other important phone call.

That Thursday afternoon my phone rang during a lesson and I left the room to answer it. I was so nervous, my hands were sweating, my mouth was dry and my heart was beating out of my chest. I answered the phone and the midwife who was there during the examination was on the other end. Her voice was enthusiastic which immediately gave me hope, and she very quickly told me that the test results came back negative and she wished me luck through the rest of my pregnancy. The massive weight was lifted and I couldn’t contain my happiness. I immediately called Fane and gave him the good news. We could once again be excited and tell everyone we were having a healthy, baby girl.

We attended a wedding that weekend and I am so glad we could do so knowing the test results, I even had a couple of prosecco’s to celebrate…and a cheeky cig.

Our lives were back on track, we started buying clothes and writing lists and planning our future with Alex and the new baby.

However, good things rarely last it seems. On Friday I noticed some spotting; I wasn’t overly concerned to begin with, I was at my brothers with Alex and Fane was at work so I didn’t want to cause any worry until I got home, bathed Alex and called the day unit. Whilst she was in the bath I spoke to a midwife, explained what I was experiencing and although she said it didn’t sound too concerning she advised me go in and get looked at. I told Fane at this point as I didn’t want to panic him beforehand! I called my brother and told him to put his Friday night on hold and he would have to look after Alex and tried to explain to Alex what was going on without scaring her. She was fine and happy to be having a sleep over with Uncle Thomas!

We arrived at the hospital around 8…I think…it’s a blur. I showed the midwife my underwear so she had an idea of what we were dealing with and she asked me loads of questions and wasn’t worried. I wasn’t experiencing any pain or discomfort. She left the room to look for a heartbeat Doppler and as I lay on the bed, I felt something happen…something more than just spotting. I looked in my underwear again and this time it was blood…bright red blood. I had absolutely no idea what to think in this exact moment apart from that we were going to lose her. The midwife didn’t take long and I showed her and she seemed a bit more concerned now. I laid back down and she looked for the heartbeat with the Doppler which thankfully she was able to find pretty quickly and all sounded well. I just had to wait for a consultant to come and give me a proper examination. During the wait I bled more and it came through my jeans. When the consultant arrived she asked a few questions and got me prepped for the ‘examination’. Women, you will know what I mean, men, I won’t go into detail! She confirmed the blood was definitely coming from inside, through the cervix…but no signs of labouring which is good! But where the hell was the blood coming from! There was much more blood after the examination and it wasn’t showing any sign of stopping. Fane and I were obviously petrified at this point and being given information about labouring at this time and she wouldn’t survive if she came now and I couldn’t take it all in. Clearly the fear from everyone in the room was that I would miscarry at 22 weeks, when I would have to give birth to the baby. But the heartbeat was still there and still strong, so all we could do was hope and wait.

I stayed in the hospital overnight for observation; Fane went home and packed me a bag. He didn’t want to leave the hospital of course but he had to, so he picked a sleeping Alex up and went home. If you have stayed in the orchard ward you will know that it is a lovely ward, with the friendliest and kindest midwives and nurses you could ever imagine. I was fed and watered before trying to get some sleep. This wasn’t very easy! It’s a lovely ward, but a noisy ward. Fane sat bolt upright all night worrying about me and the baby as you would expect.

The bleeding did slow down, and I still didn’t experience and pain or discomfort, but the worry was still there…is this the end? Is this going to happen again? Why is it even happening at all!? No one could tell me why and 90% of the time they can’t tell anyone why. It is insane that in this day and age pregnancy still has so many unanswered questions.

I was examined again in the morning, the bleeding was just spotting now and the babies heartbeat was still going strong so thankfully they could tell me that at least for now everything is well. Alex and Fane came in the morning, she behaved for about 2 hours and got bored as you can imagine, but luckily they let me go at lunch time. Stressed, tired, confused, upset, unsure whether it’s over or not, we went home. Alex went to a friends and naps ensued!

We have borrowed a heartbeat Doppler from a friend for the weekend just to keep our mind at rest till the bleeding completely stops, but today I still feel lost. The baby is fine, and that is amazing, and there is apparently nothing wrong…but I can’t just flip back from insane worry to excitement again, I just don’t work like that. Until the baby is here and she is in my arms I will now be on constant alert- and that for me is the worst part of this pregnancy.

I’m sorry this entry has ended up so wordy, but I needed to write it all down and share my recent experiences. Thank you for reading,

 

Rhiannon xxx

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NUT strike again!

Why are you striking? Some ditz at the BOS asked today. Why the hell do you think I am striking you ignoramus, do you not watch the news!.

Millions people are in full support of public sector workers striking and asking for fair pay and working conditions, and a minority are not in support (the ones with fair pay and working conditions). But when it comes to teachers striking parents are always the hardest to convince.

Today I went on strike and like millions of other teachers I did it to stand up for education! Fair pay, workload and pensions are only a small part of it; the more they cut out of the budgets for education the more nagatively out kids education is effected! The more workload teachers are given the less time they have to plan actual interesting lessons. Did you know that on average a full time teacher is only given 2.5 hours of admin time? Meaning a majority of work is done after hours and at home? The funding for 16+ has recently been cut meaning Bedford College had to cut 1.5 hours a week from every course; meaning we have to teach the same thing in less time and still expect good results. Teaching hours being cut means jobs being cut!

The dfe tries to say that teaching is still attractive and they have more trainees than ever – teaching is a vocation, young people who want to be teachers will still train to be teachers! But let’s remember that 50% of NQTs leave within 5 years.

I almost left this year. After working in a school and having to do report after report after date collection after parents consultation etc etc etc I truly understand how difficult teaching is for those teaching subjects like English and Maths who have 30 kids in each class. It crushed my soul a bit. But I love teaching, I want to make a difference in the system and I am not going to just strike to do it. action will be taken at every opportunity no matter how big or small. But I am not doing it for Gove or Cameron or Ofsted, I am doing it for my students and I hope that in return that they, and their parents, support me in when I choose to strike and stand up for their education!

The Bedfordshire ‘Just Because’ 48 hour film challenge

So last weekend I ran the The Bedfordshire ‘Just Because’ 48 hour film challenge in association with Oxjam and Bedford Film festival and I must say, organising it was more stressful that I thought. I was constantly worried that not enough people were signing up and that it was all going to be a train wreck! But that is just me, a worry wart!

But the weekend came, I emailed out the briefs which were randomly picked out of a hat by my 2 year old and the challenge begun at 6pm on the Friday! We made a film of our won which I am quite proud of, apart from my acting! But Alex is also in it and she was so good, and well behaved and followed instruction for the most part! Without her cooperation it would have fell apart. 

This is Donum by BFMC – https://vimeo.com/97047388

The other entries were all great and in the end I was so proud to have organised it and encouraged filmmaking, regardless as to how few teams were involved. These are the other entries – 

https://vimeo.com/97040847

https://vimeo.com/97149563

https://vimeo.com/97050710

https://vimeo.com/97040849 (mature audiences only)

Unfortunately there were several other teams that were sent briefs, but they didn’t produce the goods! Hopefully next time – to be honest the whole process of making a film in 48 hours is not blaming easy!

I hope you enjoy the films, all teams would appreciate your support and feedback! 

 

What is a 48 hour film challenge?

Many of you who know me often hear me talk about 48 hour film challenges and to be fair you just nod and smile, until I actually explain to you what it is – and as I am trying to host a 48 hour film challenge of my own, I thought it best to fully explain what it involves. 

So first we need a group of talented people who are willing to do nothing but the film challenge for 48 hours…screw that, they don’t need to talented, they just need to be available! You will spend weeks getting actors to be available then they will pull out and you will have to act it in yourself.

You will also need access to equipment – at minimum a camera (people have been know to use their mobiles) and some editing software, even if it is just Windows Movie Maker. But just to clarify, we use a number of DSLR’s and Adobe Premiere. If you want a green screen, paint a wall or dye a bedsheet – its that easy!

You will wait nervously for your text or email with the information that you need to include in your film – this could be a mixture of genre, prop, line of dialogue and a theme. Once that information is received the scriptwriting begins…well the brainstorming…the tea and coffee…the takeaway….the smoking….6 hours later you might a script! But the good thing is that a team of you can write, source props, locations and actors all at the same time so once the script is done it’s BOOM out the door!

Now you spend half of the rest of your time filming, somehow everything you discussed whilst script writing has been forgotten and the director will change his/her mind ALOT! after all, the script has literally just been written! Your actors will grow impatient, as will your runners and any small children you happen to be looking after at the same time. If this is the case I suggest that you film in a toy shop! Once you have about 1 minute of footage which is in fact just 1 shot, it is time for more food! after an hour arguing about where to go you finally cave and do Maccy D’s…This is why I suggest that you use 1 persons home as a base and ensure there is a big pot of pasta made up and fridge stocked with sandwich fillings!

The next part of filming has much more momentum and it all goes really well, everyone is pleased with how the time has gone – so now lets get to the edit. 

The editor (me) sifts through the footage (as there is rarely time to keep a FFL, we did it once) and complains about not knowing what anything is and why it is there and why this shot is so fucking long and why the hell are there 8 takes of the him drinking coffee and AAAARRRFFFGGGHHHH everyone go away! 

Personally I prefer to edit alone but I don’t always get my way. For a film challenge I do suggest that you have the director with you so at least if you fall asleep they can edit for a little bit and when you wake up you can fix all of the mistakes they just made…

AND BREATH! An edit is complete, now to add music and sound effects! Try try try to have someone on board who is good at this cause I literally scour the internet for free music and sound effects, but it always turns out ok…the best ones however are always original scores! We are lucky enough to know quite a few musicians that allow us to use their music as well!

Then everyone watches and there is a massive sigh of relief…we did it….fuck, we did it. We just made a short film in 48 hours, from concept to completion…with time to spare (which you need for rendering and exporting!). 

No matter where your film gets to in the challenge, the opportunity for people to watch your film from all over the UK and network with other filmmakers is still one of the best things about doing any kind of film challenge. And all the stress, and all that hanging around, all that chasing children through toys ‘r’ us, all that money you spent on fast food, all that sleep you didn’t get…was 100% completely worth it. 

So if you haven’t already, sing up to do the ‘Just Because’ 48 hour film challenge…https://www.facebook.com/groups/699804410083414/ 

Back to the blog – Little Kickers

So I haven’t written in my short lived blog for a long long time and as there is actually so much going on my life right now I thought I would try it again because I really want to talk about Little Kickers! 

Little kickers is a football course for toddlers and pre-schoolers and from what I can tell it’s all about fun, exercise and co-operation – everything little ones needs. 

So I tool Alex to a free trial this morning. I was dubious at first – is my crazy loon of a child going to listen to instruction from a stranger? is she going to try to steal a ball? is she even a real human person? Well the first two questions are answered; she did listen to instruction and there was no attempted theft! The third question…I am still waiting for an answer. 

It was so much fun and she had a smile on her face the whole time. There was lots of games and as they are only the very little ones it was basic football skills – mainly kicking the ball rather than throwing it! Coach Paul was fantastic with the kids, definitely kept their attention and changed activities at a quick pace so that they never got bored. 

Alex and I are definitely signing up – for me it is finally something to do on a Saturday when James is at work, but for other mums it is something that dad’s can do leaving mummy to have a lie in! It is on a Saturday morning at Bedford College at 2 different times

9.15 – 10.00am “Junior Kickers”, 2 – 3½ yrs
10.10 – 10.55am “Mighty Kickers”, 3½ – 5th b’day

Paul is lovely and doesn’t mind you contacting him via Facebook which is handy! Search for Paul Stokes on my Mums of Bedford page or visit the Little Kickers website

I recommend this for absolutely anyone with children under 5 to take part in! Let me know if you go for a free trial or sign up!

 

 

 

My Nana

Three weeks ago my Nana passed away. My family is devastated; all 8 children, 19 grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren and her brothers. All I have thought about for the last 3 weeks is her, not even any particular times or places, just her in general. I suppose I only really have memories of her when I was younger and living in Scotland, like her letting me watch scary movies like childsplay, and sticking her false teeth out to scare us, and her hoovering up and throwing out money cause she thought they were just bits of paper. Love her. She was the centre of the Shades family, the glue, the woman who made each and every single one who we are today.

This is her when she met Alex

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Something I have been thinking about alot is the pain that her children are going through; my mum and her brothers and sisters. And of course my brother who has lived with her for the last 14 years, so her best friend. Yes she was my Nana and I loved her and I will miss her, but she was a mother, eight members of my family have lost their mother. 

The funeral had a good turn out of people, other family members were there, cousins, second cousins, second cousins cousins and all that you get from Catholic families. It was a good feeling knowing that she was so well loved. The priest spoke very highly of her as well and during the eulogy, as did everyone I spoke to that day.

This is the first loss I have truly felt, my grandad died when I was much younger and I do remember him very fondly but I didn’t really get it at the time. This I get, this scares me, this has made me think about my life and my entire family and how much Helen Shades meant to all of us.

So this hasnt been the most uplifting blog post. Hopefully I will have more lols from Alex later in the week…

Bath Mouse

We took Alex to Whipsnade for the first time yesterday and she decided that a Sea Lion is in fact a ‘Bath Mouse’. I can see her logic, close up their faces are very mouse like and they do have whiskers Image

 

Uncanny resemblance…and to be fair, you never see them in the same room. 

As much as the Bath Mice fascinated Alex, and she was slightly petrified when they swam past close to the window, her favourite were the giraffes. The look on her face was pure bewilderment

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They were suprisingly small giraffes in comparrison to the ones at woburn, I look forward to seeing her face when she meets one of those! Hopefully the same thing won’t happen as last time…

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This was 100% Giraffe rape!