Juggling act

A picture says a thousand words: Zigs is fast asleep from a car journey and I can steal an unknown amount of time to reply to my couples and manage our life admin today. No pressure!

Well everyone said it, but until you’re thrown in the deep end, I suppose you don’t really know what’s it like. I’m talking about the juggling act of being a new mum, a wife, a friend, a sister/daughter and running a business…oh and still being myself and staying healthy!

It’s 10 weeks since Ziggy was born and it’s been absolutely incredible, but not without these highlights: nights where you get just 3 hours of broken sleep and the silly amount of hospital trips for my c section mess up. We’ve been through it a bit – as everyone finds I’m sure – but just over 2 weeks ago we set off for a trip to Italy, which we’ve just returned from. This trip came at the right time for us all.

The holiday/work trip fell during one of Ziggy’s growth and development spurts which meant he was a bit more grouchy and attention seeking than normal, but we we are able to cope and give him the attention he needed. It came when Ben and I needed some time away from the norm which was becoming a bit claustrophobic and routine-y for us. It also came when, it seems, my lack of sleep really caught up with me but I was able to rest for a few days in row with help of Ben and my parents who joined us for part of the trip.

One of the benefits of the trip for my personal wellbeing was the headspace to stop and consider what I think I might want as a mum. I took the time to think about how I can balance being a good mum to Ziggy (by mine and Ben’s definition…! Not blogs, instagram etc…!) managing my business, my charity work and some of the things I enjoy and that make me, me. And finally those that keep me healthy; exercise, accupuncture, writing my blog etc. My conclusion – bloody hell it’s going to be a challenge!!!

I’ve realised that although all of those things are important aspects of my life, the amount of time I spend on them will grow and shrink as and when other parts become priorities. Up until now, it’s been about Ziggy and Ben and they remain my number 1 and always will. In the next few weeks, I need to try and find the time to increase the time spent on Wiskow & White (W&W) and I’d like to re-introudce my exercise classes. So, classic me, I’ve created a little 2 week timetable as a test to see if I can do the things I want to in this time. If Sophie Brill is reading this, note that this includes rest days!

For example, 1 day a week I will spend at my parents while my mum looks after Ziggy and I can work on W&W. I will aim for a spin class a week for the time being. Just to give you an idea, this means Ben gets in from work, takes Ziggy, I run out the door, Ben feeds Ziggy the milk I’ve expressed, bathes him. I come home and give Zigs him bedtime feed and then we have dinner. Then I imagine, I crash out!

The other aspect of managing this, aside from the old timetable is plain old efficiency. When I get my spare 10 mins before Ben heads off to work and is playing with Zigs, or when Zigs has dropped off or is happy in his bouncer – I need to know what the most important things I need to do that day are so that I can smash through them. This is where my daily lists come in. Each week I’ve just been defining what I need to get done that week, a few things a day and it’s been achievable thanks to the iPhone.

Once again I must say hats off to all of the parents and guardians out there, making this juggling act possible. I’m sure the timetables and lists are a stage most people go through. I’m interested to learn what’s next! I can only imagine it goes through phases of getting easier, then harder again. What an amazing thing to achieve every single day you legends!

p.s More on going on hols with a 2 month old to come soon!


28 days later

Zigs is 5 weeks old today. I stated this blog a week ago when he was 28 days old. Ironically, the blog was all about how the last month hasn’t been quite the horror show I’d been expecting. Then we spent 5 out of the last 6 days in hospital…

First there was a Brompton check up for me. This went really well and I’m doing well heart wise. I certainly feel great compared to 5/6 weeks ago!

Then there was an emergency trip to hospital, via the GP for Zigs. They thought he had an infection. Turns out it’s a dairy allergy. Easily fixed!

Then on the weekend we had a full blown ambulance trip to A&E for me, after calling 111. I had sudden, heavy blood loss – concerning anyway but particularly dangerous with my heart. A few tests (and days!) later and it turns out the c section wasn’t ‘tidied up’ properly and I’ve got ‘residual products’ in my uterus. I’m on anti b’s and we’re hoping they’ll just come out naturally…

But the main thing is, we’re absolutely fine. Just fed up of going to body hospitals…!

So, back to my previous point: how having a baby and being a mum really isn’t as scary as I thought it was going to be. Even with various recent hospital trips.

I chose not to read too much about looking after a baby, nor buy too much before having Zigs. This is unlike me. Usually I’d read everything I could and plan it to a T with the very little experience that I had. Instead, I decided to inform myself to a very minimal level and do the rest ‘on the job’ so to speak. Given our pre birth dramas and my acceptance of the lack of control I have over pretty much anything in life, it seemed fitting to apply this to post birth too.

I did also find that when I started to read, I started to get very overwhelmed. It felt like I needed to seriously study this new topic. I also found the reading disheartening and noticed it impacted my confidence un being a ‘good’ mum (whatever that is). Every blog, article etc. tries to help but it made me feel like everything could potentially go wrong. Every angle was that x is hard and then what to do if it doesn’t work. When you read that about absolutely everything from sleep to breastfeeding it can really begin to weigh you down. I wanted a realistic view of everything but felt this was too pessimistic. So I stopped for my own health!

So, given my limited mum prep…we’re doing ok! After getting back from hospital we’ve had 2 weeks with daddy (seems to be my perm new name for ben – awkwardly even in public!). And we’ve now come to the end of the second week just the two of us.

First (of many) weddings at David & Nina’s amazing day.

We’ve been lucky to see so many of our friends and family in this time. Highlights have been the countless pub trips – including a quick one on the way home from hospital. Going up to Chelsea to register Zigs birth, getting him a passport, the 2 Brompton trips to see all our doctors. Going out for lovely walks and even to an amazing wedding! It’s just been so fun getting to know each other. It’s definitely taken that time for us to understand Zigs and what he needs and for him to get to know us too.

Luckily Zigs is chilled out and (at the moment), let’s us do what we want. I don’t expect this to last forever. Thanks to a great initial (!) c section experience, I have recovered well. By day 6 I was out and about. And week 2 I was back to driving.

In hindsight, I’m glad I didn’t read and read. Everything is so brand new and I couldn’t have read how to do it all – you just do it! I’d never changed a nappy, held a brand new baby, breastfed, clothes a teeny baby, had such little sleep and juggled a million things I didn’t even know existed before – but we’re all still alive and pretty happy with it!

Zigs finds hospital trips very relaxing!

How? TEAMWORK. Ben’s truly a great partner and dad. So are our families and friends. It’s a real team effort. Things that have been particularly helpful and I’d recommend:

1. Sleep shifts. Ben takes Zigs from 8-12 while I sleep. I then take him from 12-7 so Ben gets a good sleep ahead of work.

2. Baby meals. A local community thing that may not exist everywhere, but you should seriously consider founding in your own community… New parents get meals delivered every evening by a member of the community for 2 weeks. This was incredible and saved us shopping and washing up as well as cooking!

3. ‘The New Mum’s Notebook’. A great place to write how you’re feeling, record moments and offers a pep talk to remind you how awesome you are for keeping a baby alive everyday.

4. Cocoonababy. Not for everyone I’m sure but a great, secure place for Zigs to sleep at night, instead of a Moses Basket perhaps. Also transportable.

5. Ewan the sheep / White noise app. Just try it.

6. Talking. Just being completely honest with Ben about everything. What’s working or not working for both of us and supporting each other to make changes that help.

Now don’t get me wrong, we’ve certainly faced our challenges. Sleep deprivation, constant learning, a complete life change and a crying baby can really add up. I’ve had one spectacular melt down over a crying Zigs. But after a good chat with Ben, it’s all been on the up.

So what’s coming up in month 2 of life with Zigs?

Exercise! I’m attempting my first workout today. I am expecting to ache and I’m not even going to do too much.

Italy! A quick trip for 2 weddings, some venue viewings and some relaxation.

Bottle feeding. Getting Zigs used to taking a bottle so I can think about going out for a short while or just having a breastfeeding break.

More development for Zigs. Starting some classes once he’s had his jabs.

Starting weddings again. Aiming to juggle a bit of work with everything else…not expecting too much here!

Let’s see how this goes…

(As with all my blogs, just here for general comment and discussion. I know that everyone’s different and each to their own!)

Our birth story

The internet is crammed with new mums sharing their birth stories these days, so I thought it was my turn.

Warning This blog contains graphic content, more over sharing than normal (possibly) and goes on a bit…!

Let’s see where we left off…I was about a week away from my planned induction that was scheduled to be on Monday 10th July. Ben and I went to Chelsea & Westminster with a ridiculous amount of luggage, anticipation and snacks. We were put on a 6 bed ward and quite quickly told the plan had changed – obviously. I was due to have a normal induction where a gel is given to stimulate labour of 48 hours. It was decided that the gel wasn’t a good idea given the state of my heart so we got told that we got to skip that bit and go straight to the action. We just needed a labour ward bed to free up. However, hours passed and we realised that (quite rightly!) due to the lack of urgency in our case, we were at the back of the queue and kept getting trumped by women already in labour – how rude!

The night passed. Ben slept on a airbed and we listened to the screams of women in labour all night long. Soothing…!

The next day at 7.30am we were moved to the labour ward and given our snazzy room. Remember at this point, I’m not in labour in any way, just my normal heavily pregnant self, raring to go! We showered and got ready for the big day. Just a short while later we were introduced to our 2 midwives and the doctor gave us the plan. And then we got going – manually breaking my waters. Not a nice experience and I won’t go into detail. Long and short of it – it wasn’t easy, there was a long stick and a hook involved.

Then it was time to start on the hormone drip that would induce my labour. All good. About 4 hours passed and things were going well. I was having contractions (felt like period pains) and I was ‘moving along’ as the docs had hoped. Another couple of hours later and the pains were full on, so I had my epidural – a requirement from my heart team to reduce the stress of pain on my heart- and a lucky escape from pain! Another 4 hours, a film, an episode of Fargo, lots of snacks and I was checked again. Unfortunately I wasn’t ‘moving along’ so well. We agreed with the docs to give it 4 more hours and see if I was ready to push.

At 10.30pm, we decided the induction wasn’t going to work and I’d run out of time that I was personally allowed on the drip. So c-section it was. We were quite calm at this point and the Doctors and midwives (as they had done throughout the whole day) explained things in such great detail and clarity.

At midnight we were taken into the operating theatre and shit got real. I was petrified. Something I never saw coming. I was shaking uncontrollably and just couldn’t get my head straight. I think I was worrying about dying (they’d told me this was a very risky procedure for me because of my heart), about the pain, whether Ziggy would be OK, how Ben was feeling. And 9 months of pure anticipation built up. Just so much worry. I tried deep breathing, repeating my positive lines I’d prepared – nothing helped. Then we put on Kings of Leon…it worked wonders! Everyone in the room seemed to calm down.

“We’re cutting you now” – the words that signalled I was completely out of control and at that point, I let go. I did not enjoy the experience of a c-section. Yes I could feel every tug, dig, pull, bone crunch. The noise of the suction. But then, “Daddy, stand up”. Ben, who’d been face to face with me the whole time, calming me down (looking good in scrubs btw!) stood up and looked over the screen and I saw his face just go into shock – he could see my open tummy and half of Ziggy, who was then just pulled out! I’ve since seen a video and I can see why Ben was so shocked at the sight!

They dropped the curtain and I saw Ziggy. It was incredible. Once he was weighed (only 6lb 15!) and had a cuddle with daddy, he was placed on my chest and we properly met. He stopped crying as soon as he was on me. I’ll never, ever forget that moment. Game changer.

The rest is pretty much history. A day on the high dependency unit, 2 days on the main ward, lots of tests and doctors and midwives came and went. Ziggy is the picture of health thank goodness. My heart is stronger than anyone thought it could be post birth and we came home on Friday night.

We’re just so relieved that we’re through it after some ups and downs and scares along the way. Without the plans and the care of the Doctors at C&W and the Brompton, things wouldn’t have gone so smoothly and I genuinely believe we wouldn’t be as healthy as we are right now. More tests to go and a few things left to work out for my heart and a test for my bad heart gene for Ziggy, but we’ll be fine, I’m sure.

I’ve learnt a lot about worrying and bloody social media that I’d like to share at some point. But we’re having the best time right now and we’re going to enjoy these few weeks in the sun with Benny before he heads back to work.

Please note

I don’t want to put anyone off a c-sectoin, or scare monger. This is just my experience and on the whole, it was amazing and ridiculously safe and well controlled. I’d do it all again. I was just very, very worried which was my personal mental state and this shouldn’t affect anyone else.

Day 1

Day 2 – ready to meet the grandparents

Staring daddy.

Day 3 – Leaving hospital

Day 4 – Home sweet home

My boy.

Day 5 – Out for a stroll.

The home stretch, surely

Since last writing, things have changed again…but for the better! I stayed in hospital for a few more days to be monitored, to rest and to try some new drugs for my heart and my colitis. Luckily this combination helped me massively and I stabilised enough to come home and let the baby grow some more before giving birth. I can’t tell you how many times the ‘plan’ has changed.

So I’m still pregnant. I’m at home, on bed rest (still) and just sitting it out until my induction which is planned for sometime soon. My colitis is still being a d**k so I’ve got some more drugs to try for that as ideally we’d like to make that a bit happier before I give birth.

I have loved being pregnant and I’m grateful every single day, but oh my have I hit the stage where I want to get bambino out. I am huge and uncomfortable. I can’t breathe. I ache all over. I can’t sleep. I eat and drink almost ALL of the time. This baby is huge and kicks me with incredible strength now! I need a wee every 5 mins and I cry at EVERYTHING. Oh and I’m bloody sick of hospitals! And I’m only at 36/37 weeks. I don’t know how women do this till 40+ weeks! Absolute heroes.

So that’s it, I’m just sitting around and hoping everything goes to plan. Baby White is more than welcome to decide to come a little early if he pleases…

Kensington resident

Well here I am on the hottest day of the year, on a ward in The Brompton Hospital. I cannot explain how hot it is in here! This week has been a bit of an adventure and it’s time to log it in another blog post.

On Tuesday I had a horrible day. I couldn’t get out of bed for palpitations, fear of fainting and breathlessness. That meant my heart was struggling and I was starting to get a bit scared. I let my nurse know that I wasn’t feeling great and really dropped myself in it. She called back to let me know that they wanted to admit me to The Brompton so I could be monitored for a ‘day or 2’. On Wednesday, a bed became available and I was admitted to my favourite hospital. I’m now a resident of Kensington, darling.

It’s been a strange few days where the plan for my treatment and the birth of our bambino has changed every few hours. At one point on Wednesday night, I have to admit I did have a melt down about it all. Turns out that my heart, while “not happy” (to quote my Doctor) is doing OK and can hang in there another week or so to get me to the dreamy 36 weeks. My colitis however has come out of nowhere to completely kibosh the whole situation and royally screw us over. I knew my symptoms weren’t great but I’d been putting up with it, not taking it very seriously. I should have taken it more seriously. The strain that the inflammation is putting on my body overall means I’m dehydrated (but at the same time retaining fluid on my lungs), not absorbing nutrients from food, anaemic and I’m losing blood which is putting strain on my heart and reducing my blood pressure to dangerous levels. Mother f**ker!

I will never underestimate this stupid disease again. Annoyingly, if I don’t get it treated then I could get really quite sick which could see me in hospital for a while after the baby is born and none of us want that. The drugs they need to use to treat it can’t be given when there’s a baby inside me. The docs are trying to work out some other treatment to give me to get me well enough for the next week or so. If they can’t, it’s baby time!

The plan changes hour by hour and Ben and I will update those that have been in touch with the final plan once we know it. We will be given a due date at some point soon and we will be keeping that between us and our close family for now. We really appreciate all of the amazing support our friends and family have given us in these last few weeks. Thanks for stopping us both having melt downs! Feel free to get in touch if you fancy a chat. I may just be slow to reply. Maybe just a few more weeks of crazy to go and hopefully we’ll be home and ready to mingle!

I have to say, hospital has been quite a nice break and we’re both feeling really upbeat and positive. I’ve done a lot of relaxing, chatting to lovely nurses, receiving incredible treatment and exploring more of the King’s Road when I can manage a walk. I’m also feeling a lot better than I was last Tuesday – mainly thanks to my new best friend Furosemide, which helps reduce the water retention in my body. I’ve de-swollen (huge relief) and I can breathe again!

I rave about this hospital but I truly wonder whether there’s a better one in the world. I can’t wait till I’m asking you all to support me in some fundraising for this place..! Ha.

Thank god for the new season of OITNB.

The lovely view from the ward.

Lumpy, bumpy and me with our new buddy Mr Monitor. He goes everywhere with us.

Love yourself

In a world full of so much noise, terror, corruption and bulls**t, today I despair. This blog post today focuses on you and looking inside, to build a stronger you for everything you believe in, for what you want to achieve in your life and for everyone you care about.

What’s more important than you?
The answer is nothing.

Now that sounds self centred and arrogant, but it isn’t. If you’re not your best, how can you achieve your best? How can you be the best friend? Although there are many people looking out for you in life, the only person that really can, 100% of the time, is you! Now is the time to make sure you’re looking out for yourself.

My week in bed has been helpful in this realisation. Like most people, my brain can be my enemy, telling me I’m rubbish at this, crap at that, fat, ugly, moody…blah blah blah. Immediately after my diagnosis a couple of weeks ago, this critic in my brain went into over drive and was making me feel down, weak and like a failure. This week, I decided I’d had enough.

I’ve spent the last week focusing on making myself as strong and healthy as possible – I can only do this fully if I respect myself. If I had maintained the negative view of my heart as weak and pathetic, then I would have continued to see my whole body as that. With this view I wasn’t resting and eating well as I’d been told to do (don’t tell the docs!).

This respect went beyond just my heart but into all of the negative thoughts and critique I get from myself. I had to turn things around:

‘You’re not achieving anything’ – umm yes I am, I growing a frickin’ healthy baby thanks. Isn’t this one of the best achievements of my life you nutter?!

‘You’re getting fat just lying here’ – YOU AREN’T FAT YOU ARE PREGNANT! (there’s nothing like pregnancy to make you realise how thin you were before btw – perspective is amazing).

‘You’re losing all your fitness and muscle’ – Lucy, it’s been 2 weeks. I think you can get it back. Enjoy not having to drag yourself to the gym 3 times a week.

‘You’re going to be a rubbish mum if you’re recovering in hospital for weeks’ – The situation is what it is, and you don’t even know how this is going to go yet. You will be a great mum, no matter how this journey starts out.

‘You’re letting your brides down. You’re a rubbish wedding planner’ – This has been the biggest learning of all. I was honest with all of the brides about my situation and was scared of how they would react to me ‘pausing’ their wedding planning for 2 months. Every single one responded with support and respect for my honesty and it made me realise how ahead we are with everything, how happy they are with my work and my relationship with them. It’s given me perspective I didn’t have before and so much more confidence.

As well as almost quite literally talking to myself, I’ve taken some other steps to help move towards loving myself and moving into the strongest position I can be going into hospital.

– I’ve written a little list of positive messages that I read to myself every morning. It’s doing me the world of good and changing my mindset before the critic in my head even has the chance to wake up.

– I write my journal as often as I can. This helps me to really understand how I’m feeling in that moment. It’s helping my to get over old fears – like being a patient in The Brompton hospital where my brother got really sick.

– I’ve made a plan (obvs) – for whether things go well, or not so well and talked it through with Ben so we feel prepared somewhat. I’ve then attempted to surrender; to let go knowing that I can’t control what’s coming.

– As much as my body has allowed me, I’ve done things that make me feel good: a simple hair cut and getting my nails done, a date night with Ben, seeing my best friends. It’s been amazing and supported my positive messages.

Most importantly to me I am grateful and appreciate the small things, as often as I can. I have so many things to be grateful for, including having a big baby inside my tummy. Something I’ve always wanted (maybe not the ‘big’ bit) and have been really excited about.

This relates to a specific time in my life, but it’s something we should all being doing, all of the time. The most important thing in your life is you. I’m still far off from ‘loving myself’ but I’m getting there and I know it will help me to be a the best mum, wife, friend, wedding planner and all round Lucy that I can be. And just to be clear, I don’t need to be better, that’s a critique in itself!

Give it a go. Fall in love with yourself!

Troubles of the heart (again)

This week we got the news that I may only be pregnant for a few more weeks. My heart has grown significantly – it is dilated (as my condition ‘dilated cardiomyopathy’ suggests) beyond what the doctors would deem safe. So I’ve entered into a balancing act between my heart getting so big that they have to act to protect me, and my bambino being big enough to come out.

The ideal scenario is my heart holds out for another 4 weeks and I can get to 36 weeks and have a cesarean. It is however possible that my heart could continually deteriorate or change at any time and they’d have to act immediately, despite poor little bambinos size.

Luckily, and most importantly, bambino is growing very well – as you’d imagine with big parents like me and Ben. He’s already 5lb (at 31 weeks) and lovely and long. So we just need him to gain a bit more chub as quickly as he can and all should be well.

It’s an unsettling and unknown time for us but positivity is the only medicine. I’m confident that things will work out no matter which way it goes. I’ve come to realise that my body is amazing and, despite my heart, it is very strong and has been an excellent baby making machine so far. I have confidence in it to get through this part and then the recovery, however that looks for both me and bambino.

I’ve now got the lovely job of relaxing – doctors orders! And not something I’m good at. With my heart struggling and my heart symptoms loud and clear, all I can do is take it easy and cut any stresses and strains from my life. I said an impromptu goodbye to my lovely colleagues today after being signed off work sick. You’ll mostly find me chilling at home with Winnie. Visitors welcome!

Anyone out there with a heart problem that may be reading this pre or during pregnancy – know that I wouldn’t change my decision to go ahead with pregnancy for anything. I have loved my pregnancy and although this is a little scary, I have confidence in my body and my incredible doctors at The Brompton and Chelsea and Westminster to get us through as safely as possible. The risks were high and explained to us at the start but it’s going to be worth it!

This week, the doctors monitored my heart with an ECG for 48 hours. It made sleep even more of a challenge!