Saturday, July 25, 2009

A Dad's Point of View

I can't believe what I've just read that someone has written about Dads and their role at birth...

Waiting in my local GP Surgery, I picked up a parenting magazine, (probably) packed with useful features, tips and 100 ways to improve your life whilst still getting the cleaning done, etc. My eyes were drawn to a feature about Dads and their role at the birth of their child, accompanied by a beautiful photo of a six-packed tanned model (the Dad) standing in a labour room, cradling a (very clean and cute) baby in his arms, making his biceps bulge (naturally), suggesting the birth had only just occurred. You know the type...

I'd like to also point out that this magazine was filed inside a rigid plastic lever arch file, as were all the others, in an attempt by the Surgery to prevent any of the patients from stealing their literature (presumably implemented by their Security Control Monitoring HQ). Why would
anyone want to steal a magazine? I don't know, but looks like it's big business in MY surgery anyway, so watch yourselves...the lever arch security prevention squad may hit your surgery soon!

So, back to this feature...it was well-written (in places) and the style was pleasing, informal with a comical undertone and was obviously targeting all those nervous soon-to-be-Dads and suggested that their role in the delivery suite was paramount. In fact, I quote...

'Being a good dad in the delivery room is like being a great referee in a football match. If no one notices you are there but everything goes smoothly, and the big players (the midwife, obstetrician/doctor and your partner) shake your hand at the end, you’ve played a blinder.'

I'll tell you what! If no one noticed (or notices in 8 weeks time) MY husband during labour, boy -would HE be in trouble! Is a good referee really one that isn't noticed?

Maybe it IS personal preference and I should take that into consideration, BUT surely as a Referee - a manager of 22 people - he would need to have a strong personality and a belief in himself. Actually M A N A G E people and communicate with them effectively and in a timely manner. He would need to be fit...very fit, be dedicated, neutral, able to read 'the game' and be relatively thick-skinned. Above all, a referee has to have a reservoir of discretion and common sense. To summarise, a Referee exists primarily to facilitate the smooth running of a match. Does it remind any of you of YOUR labour experience? Well does it?

The National Childbirth Trust sees the father’s role at the birth as fulfilling one of three roles...
"A coach, who actively assists his partner with breathing and relaxation techniques that involve a high degree of physical involvement. A teammate, who is there to provide physical or emotional support as needed. And a witness, who finds holding hands and ‘just being there’ is enough.”

Slightly different from the multi-skilled, multi-talented Manager of everything in'it??!!

It is a very personal experience going through labour for BOTH Mummy and Daddy, but I gave Jerry strict instructions based on hearing those experiences of others. So, for Jerry, I said...Whatever happens, if I ask for an Epidural, then it's because I NEED one because the pain is too much for me and I expect you to back me up and demand it too. That's all I asked from recollection.

However, I asked Jerry for his point of view in his own words for this post...
'I see my role in labour as having the ability to know what my wife is thinking before she says it. Knowing intimately her feelings and fears and reinforce her messages to the Midwifery Team. I also believe that a Dad needs to not just listen to his wife, but also to the professionals (not the 70's long running hit tv series), then weigh up the options and ensure the best option for wife and baby is implemented. It's also about injecting a bit of humour into the whole experience so taking a back seat is not really an option or what I would want anyway.

For example..
Julie: Jerry, I really need an #*?%ing Epidural! Pleeeease!
Jerry: I think it's time Julie had an Epidural.
Midwife: I think a hot bath might be a good idea at this stage.
Jerry: Okay...but I really think she needs an Epidural.
Midwife: Lets try a hot bath first
Jerry: Okay...good plan, but if she's still suffering after trying the bath, WE will want the Epidural
Julie: I tried the
#*?%ingbath, now get me an Epidural!
Jerry: Could you arrange an Epidural now please
Midwife: Yes, okay.

So, to summarise, you many want your birthing partner to 'go unnoticed', or have a breathing coach, or you may want a strong supportive partner with psychic abilities. Whatever you want, it might be useful for you to discuss what you want prior to the birth. I'm not suggesting role play (although that might be quite funny to do!) but discuss what you want to happen with various different scenarios.

One last thing, I do remember Jerry ate all my energy snacks I packed (Minstrels, Lion bars, etc) as I wasn't allowed to eat them once I'd been given an Epidural. I was SO upset about that. Jerry said he was 'doing me a favour'!! SO, make sure you take a secret stash of chocolate with you which you can gorge yourself on after the event!! Good luck one and all.

Monday, July 20, 2009

To work or NOT to work, that is the question!

I just came back from my local GP surgery and just realised I've NOT formally announced this yet, but I am pregnant again and due on 26th September 2009. Hence, why I have a pretty countdown clock on my BLOG!

There's a few reasons why
I didn't reveal this earlier, but mainly it was due to the situation with my employer. As both Jerry and I work for the same company (and in the same office in the financial sector), we were both dragged through a 'weeding out' and reduction process, where we were all at risk of being made redundant. We knew it was coming and in May, our 'consultation period' began, meaning our employer 'proposed' the redundancies, giving us 90 days notice. During this time, we had the opportunity to take voluntary redundancy, apply for other positions within the company or elsewhere, or maybe have the opportunity to be in a pool along with other colleagues, all competing for the same position.

All our performance marks from the last 3 years and our current performance rating were entered into a matrix. Our Line Managers were asked to present business cases to keep members of their team who were deemed high achievers and were then interrogated on all the fine details, having to present hard evidence to back up their case on all of us. Everything they did was apparently done as if it had to be presented at a tribunal...just in case. When there were two or more similar scores, a selection pool process was used and interviews held. Those interviews would then determine whether someone was successful or not.

In my case, I was given the opportunity to go into a pool OR take V.R. However, the catch was that the role I would be applying for was FULL-TIME (not PART-TIME which I am currently doing). They asked me there and then 'Did I want to to be considered or not?'

I know that being pregnant, you have many rights and don't get me wrong, I DO know my rights, inside AND out. But, I don't walk around wit
h rose-tinted glasses and I know that anything could be manipulated and I didn't want to take that risk. I was just concerned that my scores 'could' be manipulated once they knew I was pregnant.

To cut a very long story short, I was asked to attend an interview for the role I was already doing, but with a full-time work pattern. After what seemed like an eternity preparing for the competency-based interview, going through it and then waiting for the outcome, I got the job.

I am pleased, but as a result, friends/colleagues were not as lucky, which makes it hard to be happy. It also brings new problems...my full time role starts in August before I go on maternity leave and Drew's nursery cannot fit her in for those extra 2 days when I will now be working.

Fortunately...or unfortunately...you'll see why in a mo...my very lovely amazing parents who are not even local to us have very very kindly offered to look after Drew for 2 days each week until I go on maternity leave. That's the 'fortunate' bit!

Unfortunately, for those of you who read my posts on SPD back in 2007 ('Groin Pain' and 'SPD & Me'), you'll know all about this already, but SPD, a pregnancy-related illness, has returned. With a vengeance. I knew it might return with the 2nd pregnancy and I have been proved right. This time, however, I felt twinges months earlier than I did the first time round.

SPD generally affects women in the end of the first trimester or after delivery. However, you can experience symptoms at any point during a pregnancy. If you have the symptoms of SPD in one pregnancy, it is likely that you will experience the same symptoms with recurring pregnancies. And I was warned that during 2nd and 3rd pregnancies, the symptoms tend to start earlier and progress faster...(great!!)

So, donning my trusty crutches, I visited the Surgery this morning because the pain was so severe. My GP was keen to sign me off until my maternity leave starts at end of August, but as a compromise, he's agreed that I can work from home instead. But that's it. There is nothing more they can do.

It's an odd pain to describe as I've never experienced anything like it and I've researched this SPD illness in great detail and feel I have done as much as I can, but at the end of the day, there is NO cure.

If you're not sure whether you have SPD or not, below is a comprehensive list of symptoms you may experience:-
  • pubic pain / burning sensation
  • pubic tenderness to the touch
  • lower back pain, especially in the sacro-iliac area
  • difficulty/pain rolling over in bed
  • difficulty/pain with stairs, getting in and out of cars, sitting down or getting up, putting on clothes, bending, lifting, standing on one foot, lifting heavy objects, etc.
  • sciatica (pain in buttocks and down the leg)
  • 'clicking' or bones grinding in the pelvis when walking
  • waddling gait (walking like duck!)
  • difficulty getting started walking, especially after sleep
  • feeling like hip is out of place or has to pop into place before walking
  • bladder dysfunction (temporary incontinence at change in position)
  • knee pain or pain in other areas can sometimes also be a side-effect of pelvis problems
There ARE ways in which you can avoid extreme SPD pain, but it does mean you end up doing practically nothing. AND I MEAN NOTHING!! See list below:-
  • Avoid strenuous exercise
  • Avoid prolonged standing
  • Avoid vacuuming / cleaning
  • Avoid stretching exercises and squatting
  • Brace the pelvic floor muscles before performing any activity which might cause pain
  • Rest the pelvis
  • Sit down for tasks where possible (eg preparing food, ironing, dressing)
  • Avoid lifting and carrying
  • Avoid stepping over things
  • Avoid straddle movements especially when weight bearing
  • It might sound funny...but avoid vibrations such as shouting
  • Bend the knees and keep the legs 'glued together' when turning in bed and getting in and out of bed
  • Place a pillow between the legs when in bed or resting
  • Avoid twisting movements of the body
  • If pain is very severe, crutches (available FREE from NHS Physiotherapists) will help take the weight off the pelvis and assist with mobility
  • For more extreme cases, a wheelchair may be considered advisable
Most women suffering with SPD find coping is difficult. I think the thing that's worse than all the pain and discomfort is that, personally, I feel a huge burden to family and friends and in some instances I have read that some women are concerned for their own mental health. Relatively unknown to many, SPD can have a devastating effect on women. Midwives and other healthcare professionals have a duty to take the condition seriously, although I wasn't diagnosed for a number of weeks when I first had this in 2007.

More research IS needed to ascertain cause, to identify more effective pain relief, and most importantly to raise awareness of SPD and increase information and support.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


So this is going to be bit backward timewise, but just recently, Drew's Nursery had to close for a day due to a 'suspected' case of Swine Flu (click HERE for the complete lowdown on Swine Flu).

Nursery? Yep...I sort of forgot to tell you about the transition from our childminder, Rhea, to Nursery.

This happened in May of this year as Rhea became pregnant with her second child and selfishly she wanted to take maternity leave too!

So, we had to look for a nursery that Jerry and I were happy with so
the 'viewings' started.

Originally, we both chose the most expensive nursery and why not? It's our precious princess we're talking about!

However, after shopping around, poking our heads in and out of paint-splashed rooms and corridors carrying the 'number 2' scent our noses had come accustomed to, we asked ourselves a good question. The expensive nursery...what did it actually have that the others didn't have? The answer was as follows...
- a big car park
- CCTV cameras which parents could view from Reception
- parent key fob for front door access

BUT...did we actually need that?? Was it essential when choosing a nursery? Of course, every parent wants to ensure they choose the very best place for their babies, but you don't want to be conned into buying into something that you don't really need.

And that's what made our decision NOT to go for the top-notch nursery. The other important factor was OFSTED results. All registered nurseries are OFSTED inspected and you can view the OFSTED report, results and complaints for nurseries HERE. Just search for the Nursery name.

In the end, we went with our gut feeling. How we felt when we walked in. How the staff made us feel. What we saw and what we heard. Having a recommendation is also beneficial. This is what swung it for us.

So although Drew has only just stopped crying as of today (15th July 2009) when we drop her off, we are still confident we made the right decision for US and the proof is in the pudding. She actually sleeps on a mat with her other nursery buddies for up to 2 hours each day!! That's pretty good going!

So, it may seem like a minefield, but there are lots of tips out there. CLICK HERE for loads of helpful tips on what to look out for and questions to ask when you're looking round regarding the activities, the staff and the nursery itself and don't get panicky about it.

It's normal to feel like you're abandoning your precious pooper-scooper with strangers who will never get them to sleep, never know them like you do, never know what they like to eat, never know what they're thinking...but you'll be wrong. It's the Nursery staff member's jobs to know and do all of that. Just chill and give yourselves PLENTY of time to find the right place for YOU and make sure you start looking around
as soon as you can whilst you are still on maternity leave. In most areas the best will have long waiting lists and it’s first come first served.