Those of you who know me or have followed me on twitter for a long time will know that pregnancy doesn't really come easily to me. I am lucky enough that falling pregnant has never been an issue however staying pregnant is. I had 3 miscarriages before I had Henry, and I had a really tough pregnancy with that included Hyperemesis Gravidarum (you can read about my personal experience of HG here
or find out more about Hyperemesis at www.hyperemesis.org
) , 3 unexplained bleeds, then being told that Henry may have had a heart defect that wasn't compatible with life at his 20 week scan followed by catching swine flu at 8 months pregnant! I mean seriously it really felt like I couldn't catch a break, but then Henry was born after a quick & relatively easy labour and all of a sudden the trials and tribulations of pregnancy paled into insignificance. I was finally a mama to the most beautiful baby boy I had ever seen and he was totally worth it! However I wasn't in a hurry to repeat the experience. But over time the memories faded and my mama hormones kicked in! I really wanted a sibling for Henry and I convinced myself that I might be lucky with my second pregnancy and only have normal symptoms.
It was never going to be that simple though was it?! However here I am after 3 more miscarriages (yes that's 6 in total now....I must be mad right?!) and I am now nearly 16 weeks pregnancy with what will hopefully be baby number 2 due in October, and we are so relieved & happy to have made it to the second trimester. However it seems my body really doesn't like being pregnant AT ALL because I have Hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) again, and it's actually been worse this time! I have 24/7 nausea and haven't been able to keep any food or drink down even with a cocktail of anti-sickness drugs in my system. Because of this I have so far been hospitalised twice due to severe dehydration and my body going into ketosis (where your liver produces ketones as a result of your body having to burn it's fat stores because it's not receiving any nutrients due to starvation). I have no energy, I'm often disorientated due to dehydration, I don't really like to leave the house because i'm so sick all of the time and weak, I am unable to drive or travel any distance in the car because it makes the sickness worse and I am unable to work (which isn't great at all when you are self-employed with a new business). In short it feels like my body is struggling to keep going and life has stopped since this pregnancy began. I know that all sounds very melodramatic but after 12 weeks of this I am left feeling exhausted and depressed by it all. That really doesn't feel right after wanting the pregnancy so much, I feel like i should be walking on air and smiling constantly not crying and vomiting constantly.
I feel so awful because I am constantly letting people down, my students have been left without a teacher suddenly, people who I work with who I have had to cancel events, friends and family have been neglected, and my partner Ken who has suddenly had to become the sole bread winner & main caregiver to Henry as I have been unable to work or help out much at home! However nothing compares to the guilt i feel because I am letting Henry down. As his mama can no I can no longer play all of those energetic games he is used to, I cannot carry him for long, or cook his favourite meals. But worst of all I keep running away from him to be sick. I think my lowest point so far in this pregnancy was when Henry started to cry as i was being sick and came up to me, put his hands around my waist and said "I'm sorry mummy, please stop!" because his toddler logic tells him that saying sorry fixes everything and maybe I was being sick because of him. It's heartbreaking.
Sorry for the long rant, I know pregnancy posts are normally full of beaming smiles and women lovingly rubbing their bellies, but that will all happen soon.
I'm hoping things will improve over the coming weeks and life can get back to normal for a while (at least until the baby arrives) and I can get back to work with all of my lovely students who I haven't been able to see since late February/early March and to start being a good Mama to Henry again. Hopefully then I can also enjoy being pregnant for a little while too, because I'm sure as hell not planning on doing this again!
You'll have to excuse the medical tone of this post. I am writing it purely because I'm not in the mood to talk to people face to face about this so instead I am writing it down to get it off my chest & try to get it all clear in my head.
So if you've read any of my previous posts or you follow my @Kimbled
twitter account (It's my account that is less about knitting & more inappropriate at times) you are probably aware that i have been struggling with the symptoms of PCOS. For the last 2 months I have been following a low GI diet and have cut out most dairy from my diet in a bid to tackle the problem without the need for medication.
However things have changed....You see last week i thought I was pregnant! I had the following symptoms:
* Late period,
* Totally exhausted,
* A constant nauseous feeling,
It all felt very familiar & I allowed myself to consider that I might be pregnant. I was scared & nervous but also very, very excited at the prospect that we might have another baby on the way. However 3 negative pregnancy tests & then my period arriving put paid to that theory! I was upset that i wasn't pregnant, but also confused as to why I was still experiencing these symptoms. I actually thought I might be losing the plot a bit & having a phantom pregnancy! The good news is that my doctor assures me that I am not going crazy, however the bad news is that the symptoms are being caused by my Liver kicking up a fuss.
It seems like a cruel trick of nature to trick you into thinking you're pregnant when in fact that couldn't be further from the truth! I'm angry with my body again, I feel like its put me through enough over the last 6 years.....4 miscarriages, epilepsy & depression as well a healthy dose of acne & facial hair! I don't take any drugs or drink anymore really (a few drinks every 6 months or so!), i don't smoke, i don't have caffeine, and I eat a healthy vegetarian diet & I'm even trying to cut out dairy & my beloved sugar!! What more does my body want from me?!?! There's nothing left to give up! Because of all of this, yesterday I was feeling sorry for myself in a BIG way. It's not productive & i know it doesn't help, but I was indulging myself in a pity party. However now it's time to pick myself up & try and tackle this problem as quickly as I can (mainly as I am fed up of feeling sick & tired constantly......it does nothing for my mood!) so I'm adopting my 'science geek & health psychologist head' to try and find a way of sorting this myself, because starting medication means staying on medication for life & i'm not really that keen to do that just yet!
My doctor was great yesterday and talked me through what was going on with my PCOS & why my liver might not be happy about it all. We established a long time ago that I suffer from insulin resistance & also high levels of LH hormones thus have way too many androgens for a female. What i didn't know was that these issues can be linked to liver function as they both can have a negative effect on the liver's metabolic capacity. The liver acts as our body's filter & plays a part in digestion, but it also helps to synthesise our hormones. When you suffer from PCOS the liver has to work really hard to try and maintain a normal balance & if you overload it with other toxins as well as hormonal imbalance & insulin resistance you have a very unhappy liver and it's time for a detox!
picture from: http://fertilityplus.org.uk
So eating my feelings
is not allowed anymore, no more treats including white bread, cake or white rice & pasta! Only organic whole foods & lots of water! I also started taking a number of herbal remedies yesterday that are known to help with PCOS & regaining hormonal so hopefully that will help. I am also going to start acupuncture. I have heard & read some fantastic things about the benefits that women experience when using it to balance hormones. I am excited to see if it helps (although I'm not to excited to see how much lighter my purse is after the experience!) If i'm honest I'm quite disheartened that all of the measure that I have been taking haven't helped, but i'm not ready to give up yet. I guess I have to admit that i could be stricter on the diet & that too many sugary treats slip their way in occasionally. Time to up the will power!
I don't really know anybody else in a similar position to me and it can be hard not really having anybody to talk to about it as i don't have a clue if any of this is going to work, but it's worth a try. At the very least a detox isn't going to do me any harm.
So wish me luck & hopefully I'll be able to tell you all about the fantastic health benefits i'm experiencing sooner rather than later!
This weekend sees Southville come alive as 250 urban artists take to the street to create bright, colourful & inspiring pieces of art which will be auctioned off this Monday.
I have gone along to every Upfest since it was started in 2008. However since 2010 the event now holds special meaning to me as I remember walking around the streets of Southville in the beautiful sunshine with a big smile on my face after finding out the day before that i was pregnant with my son Henry. I felt waves of nausea as I strolled around smelling the fumes of the spray paint, but each wave of sickness made me smile as it was the first time in all of my pregnancies that i had felt sick. I took that as a sign that this baby might be a fighter & things might turn out well. I went back last year with my baby strapped tightly to my chest & it was really emotional for me as i remembered the previous year knowing that day filled with hope, sunshine & laughs was in fact the beginning of my motherhood journey. I know that it's really soppy, but as i walk around looking at all of the beautiful colours, seeing everybody of all ages having fun I always feel really happy & the memory of my joy in 2010 is never far from my mind.
I went down on Saturday afternoon with my Sister. It was one of those rare occasions where I was without Henry as he was off partying with his daddy. This meant I was free to indulge in a few pints as i explored North Street. This was lovely as i never really drink anymore as i have been either pregnant or breastfeeding for the last 2 years! I had a warm fuzzy glow thanks to my low tolerance to cider nowadays, but it added to my enjoyment of the day. Among the crowds were people out to have a good time in a street party mood, as well as Families walk around with their children & much loved pets. It was typical of any community event held in Bristol because everybody is welcome & everybody seems to have a good time despite the diversity of the crowds. It really is why i love this city so much, because I know that my Son will grow up seeing that he gets to join in and enjoy all that the city has to offer without being resigned to a children's corner away from all of the action! There is so much for children to do there, but it's all part of the main action too making them feel like part of the event!
The artwork created at Upfest seems to get bigger & better every year with more and more artists coming to showcase their talent. The main attraction this year however seemed to be The Upfest Tube located on Greville Road, which pays homage to Graffiti's roots in hip hop culture & the early New York Subway graffiti. It's a massive project & really does have an amazing retro feel to it, but with a cheeky jubilee twist at the end of the carriage with a portrait of the Queen holding a spray can.
There was a real Jubilee theme to this year's offerings (one of the artists even had a red, white & blue coloured beard!) & the bunting and general festivities gave this year's Upfest a 'Alternative street party' feel. I'm not sure it's what the Queen had in mind, but people were out in force celebrating our local culture so I think it's even better than eating M&S Jubilee cakes under naff Union Jack bunting! 😉 I really enjoyed wandering around without having to worry about a toddler, but it somehow didn't feel right going without Henry. So i decided to return today with the whole family (George the dog came too!) to see how all of the artwork had progressed. It was a lovely afternoon as we had lunch at The Spotted Cow, visited the Tobacco Factory Market (where I found the most delicious salted caramel macaroons!) and walked along the quieter streets admiring all they had to offer.
2012's Upfest offered me another of it's perfect moments this afternoon as we were walking around North Street Green. Not long after we arrived there the rain came pouring down in a heavy shower sending all of us running into the refreshments tent. We all huddled together in the small tent under the bunting watching as children decorated tea cups. The rain then disappeared as suddenly as it arrived & for the first time that day the sun came out in full force. Everybody filtered back outside smiling & laughing at our crazy weather and the DJ played Blind Melon's classic tune 'No Rain'. It was perfect & i was so happy that we had gone back down as a family. I can't imagine going there & no sharing it with Henry anymore! I think that the majority of my favourite pieces were based here so I got to take them all in with the sun shining & the perfect song playing. Thank you Upfest for giving me more perfect memories!!
So there you have it, my take on what is becoming a great Bristolian tradition! I love going for my own personal reasons, but i also love how it reminds me what a great place Bristol is to raise children! If you haven't managed to pop down to Southville to see everything yet, it will all be on display tomorrow too.
Yes i am still here and I have lots to tell you all about some exciting new projects and the developments with our house, but before i do i thought i had better explain why i have been absent from here for quite some time. I haven't abandoned this blog and my Homemade Mama ventures, In fact i have sat down to write things so many times, but i just didn't know what to say at the time.
Things have been quite tough over the last few months for me health wise, much of which i think is a direct result of not taking care of myself properly while renovating the house. After we moved in early March i began to feel very low and started to suffer with anxiety attacks and violent mood swings (which although were worse on those close to me!). I didn't really want to see anybody and felt that nobody would really want to see me either. I was depressed one moment, agitated the next. My skin was terrible due to a nasty outbreak of acne, I had developed a beautiful collection of hairs on my chin and i was exhausted to the point that walking up the stairs was an effort some days. I cried everyday, which just isn't like me! Despite the fact that I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) after my third miscarriage in 2010 i had never really thought much about it to be honest. I have always had fairly normal periods, if a longer than a normal cycle and i'm not overweight so i didn't really think that i had any symptoms. However after a lot of research after a chat to my doctor it would seem that depression, anxiety, mood swings and fatigue, along with my delightful acne & facial hairs are all symptoms! Isn't PCOS a dream?!?!
The reason i went to see a doctor was that i had the misfortune to have my 4th Miscarriage in March. This is not an easy subject to write about, especially so soon after the event so i will keep it brief, but i will say that it seems pretty certain that my PCOS has played a part in my miscarriage as my hormone levels are seriously out of whack (a medical term obviously!). Now although this was a horrible thing to go through AGAIN, it has had some positive effect in that it has made me make some steps to control my PCOS symptoms & they appear to really be working! I don't want to make this an essay on PCOS as i'm sure it will bore you silly, but if you want to know more about it please do get in touch! I have been reading every book and article i can find on the matter & as a result of this information have made some dramatic changes to my diet that involve cutting out most refined sugar, caffeine, alcohol, and milk. I am also exercising again (which is amazing!) and taking a rather large selection of vitamins known to help.
For the first time in months i am feeling much more like myself, i'm no longer crying all the time like a crazed hormonal beast which can only be a good thing! I'm still not 100% as my anxiety levels and fatigue still need to normalise, but they are nowhere near as bad as they have been! I'm starting to get better and it feels fantastic! I have really found taking charge and being proactive about my own health really empowering & have seen some really positive effects. Plus we have really revamped what we eat as a family. We have always been pretty healthy in that we are vegetarians who eat plenty of fruits and vegetables along with low fat sources of protein, but we got a bit stuck in a food rut after Henry was born due to lack of time. However i have really been enjoying cooking new things for us all, especially as i know that this new diet reduces my Mister's cholesterol levels as well as my insulin resistance! This weeks favourites have had a mexican theme & have been yummy! We've needed a bit of chilli in our lives as we're certainly not getting any heat in the weather here. ;)
My biggest challenge now as a total sugar junkie is to seriously cut down on my chocolate/cake/cookie consumption.......wish me luck! I don't have many vices, but by god i love cake!!
Also although i know it may seem a little morbid or depressing, but i thought i would let you all know about another book while i was on the subject of my current reading. I first read this book on the recommendation of my OB-GYN at Southmead after my third miscarriage, and i truly believe that if it wasn't for the practical advice and facts in this book i wouldn't have been able to carry Henry to term! It is a must for all women who want to know what they can do to help themselves after a miscarriage & want answers as to what may have been the cause. It can give you a feeling of control and ward off the utter helplessness you can feel after such a horrible event. Anyway it's called 'Miscarriage: What every woman needs to know' (2001) by Professor Lesley Regan. I really wish that somebody had put this book in my hands years ago after my first miscarriage, so i am letting you all know in case you know somebody who might benefit from reading it.
So there you have it: i have been away being a bit of a hormonal mess (Thank you endocrine system & Insulin......you've been just swell to me) but i'm getting back to normal and trying really hard to show my body that it's just not acceptable to be so disobedient & act so strangely without my express conscious permission! ;) I now have my much needed energy and creative mojo back and i have been putting it to good use! I will post again tomorrow to ask you all for your opinions on a new creative project