I look back at pictures of this time & I look very happy, looks can be deceiving & in those images I was hiding a massive secret.
As a family we foster for The Cats Protection & in my third trimester we had a lovely but very timid foster cat. I’d woken up one morning to find her struggling to walk, she kept falling over & her head was all wobbly. I was in tears & had to call my mum, I’d like to blame hormones but I’m like this all the time.
Once my mum had calmed me down I realised I had to phone our co-ordinator, he quickly got the cat an appointment at the vets but in the rush what I’d forgotten was the fact I’d have to get her into a carrier on my own. I know this doesn’t sound like a huge deal but this beautiful little kitty was part feral, she’d had a hard time & was quite frightened of human interaction.
I tried every way of getting her into the carrier & in the process she’d accidentally scratched the palm of my hand & my forearm. I didn’t think much of it & just anti baced my hand & arm & ran her off to the vets.
I had a long wait at the vets but like I said, I wasn’t overly bothered over the incident, I was more concerned of the fact I felt sweaty & stinky! When we were called in to see the vet he asked a few questions about the cat, looked at me then asked why on earth I’d been allowed to care for such an animal ‘in my state’.
‘In my state’ the cheeky monkey! He told me I was no longer allowed to care for her but to not worry about the two scratches & to just use the vets special hand wash. Not to worry?! It was way too late for that, my mind was racing.
I got home & called the co-ordinator updating him on kitties condition, I also alerted him to what the vet had said. My co-ordinator soon put my mind at rest & I bopped on quite happily till my 28 week midwife appointment.
I’d already been made aware ahead of time that this appointment wouldn’t be conducted by my usual midwife, instead it would be with a stand in. As she was testing my urine that I’d so kindly bought along with me, she noticed the scratches on my arms & asked how I’d got them. I quite happily told her they were cat scratches from my foster cat, she looked at me shocked & told me then & there that I MUST have a blood test for Toxoplasmosis. I’d heard this word before, I knew what it was, the rest of my appointment was a blur. This one comment was to change me completely until the day I gave birth.
This was the exact moment I lost my grip on reality & plunged deep into the depths of anxiety ridden Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
I got home & I googled, I googled till my heart fell into my stomach from the shock of finding out how devastating contracting Toxoplasmosis in pregnancy could be. Somehow while researching Toxoplasmosis I also stumbled upon Listeria. I researched these two illnesses day in & day out till I went into labour. I was convinced I’d maimed or killed my unborn child by getting scratched by a cat, by changing the litter tray or by eating a ham sandwich. I look back now & can see how silly I was but it got worse. I wouldn’t let anybody touch my food, if they did I refused to eat it & would throw it in the bin. I thought by breathing when I was walking past fruit&veg stalls in the market that I would catch toxoplasmosis, I thought the illness would get onto my lips & that I’d lick my lips & contract Toxo!
I cleaned my lips till they cracked & bled, I cleaned my hands till there was no skin left, till they looked like a burn victims hands. I was a complete & utter wreck & NO ONE could reason with me.
I barely touched my food, I’m embarrassed to admit this all to you but I have to, I can’t possibly let another person go through similar thinking they are alone like I did. I don’t consume dairy & whilst on a Doctor Google binge I found articles about how soya can affect the growth of baby boys or something along those lines, that in turn made me limit my Soya milk intake. Somethings I’m about to admit no one knows about, you’re the first to hear about them.
I used to take every item of cutlery & wash them every morning in the dishwasher, I used to anti-bac my dishwasher, I refused to touch the plates or cutlery till I had washed my hands & god help me if my hands accidentally touched anything other than the dishwasher, I’d go straight back & clean my hands again.
I stopped consuming water from the tap because I thought some raw meat juice may have splashed up into the faucet, instead I forced my parents to buy me bottled water, only I wouldn’t let my lips touch the bottle so would tip it in from a height.
I cried every night whilst cradling my stomach, worried that anything I touched or breathed in would kill my son.
I used to look out at the nights sky every evening & search for the brightest star, that star was my Grandad. I would pray every single night to him to make sure my son would live & be healthy.
My son’s kicks & wriggles kept me happy but even those panicked me, if I didn’t feel him move in over half an hour I panicked & tried everything in my power to get him to move.
My 31 week midwife appointment came & I knew I needed help, I just couldn’t ask for it, I was too embarrassed. Instead I decided to mention my hands as an opening into my issues, only it didn’t quite work out as I’d planned. Instead of showing concern my midwife laughed & said oh yeah my hands are like that all the time, try out this cream….
I was screaming out for help inside & she couldn’t see it, she couldn’t see that I was barely functioning, she just assumed I’d taken to being a bit funny with washing my hands. I should have come out with it but I was frightened, I thought they’d take my son away from me for being so out of control & confused.
To try & calm myself down I decided to enrol me & mum on a private one to one Hypnobirthing course. I was sure this would help me & it did. I was extremely calm whilst I was there but I just couldn’t use it to its full power, I won’t lie though it did help me a lot, I would have been worse had it not been for the coping strategies I’d been taught.
I chose Hypnobirthing instead of NCT or any other class, it suited me as I wanted to try & go for a completely natural birth. This was mine & mums thing to do every week for about a month, we really enjoyed it & I felt very chilled, at least when I was in the room anyway.
My Hypnobirthing course taught me a lot, it was the first time I’d actually thought about giving birth & I wasn’t scared at all. One thing I am still upset about to this day is that there were people who I consider friends trying to tell me that I didn’t stand a chance of having a calm, pain relief free birth.
I have to say this now, if anyone is saying that to you please ignore them, just because they had a bad birth doesn’t mean you will. They are trying to impose their negativity about birth onto you, there is NO need to scaremonger.
By this time I was HUGE as you can see from this picture!
B was moving around like a mad man, my whole belly would swish from side to side. It was such a hilarious thing to see!
He was thriving but I was struggling badly.
My hands were even more raw, I was beyond fussy about what I ate & I continued to worry about the most silly things. I once threw my milk on the floor in a fit of rage because the cap fell on the floor & I was convinced I would hurt B if I put the lid back on the carton. WHAT A WASTE!
Around this time we were allowed to go for a visit around the hospital that I had chosen to have my son at, yet again I bought my mum with me & we had a great time looking around. Although I listened to the midwife about the other units that were available, I’d already chosen to go pain relief free on the Midwife Led Unit. I’d even decided to pay for the upgrade so I’d get a private room to myself! I didn’t fancy sharing a toilet HAHA! Good thing really considering that was the place I actually ended up having B, I’ll explain in my labour post haha!
My midwife appointments were all pretty average, I did ask for a few swabs to be taken due to issues with discharge. All came back clear but I was still worried.
If you’re pregnant & worried do talk to your midwife, even if you think its super silly, they will have heard it all before. You & your baby are the only important people at that moment in time!
I found out about Group B Strep earlier in my pregnancy but this was the perfect time to take the test.
I doubt you’ve probably heard of GBS, I hadn’t, but after the magazine article I read about someones baby dying from GBS, it was something I had to be tested for.
I am going to do a full post on the importance of being aware of GBS & how you can get tested next month but for now I will leave you with the Group B Strep Support Wesite for all the information you need!
GBS, in short, is a bacteria in our front or back bottoms that can make baby very ill. Sadly the NHS do not currently routinely test for GBS so it is down to you to get this test done privately. I paid £35 for my test & felt it gave me a little extra peace of mind.
The test is done at home by none other than… YOURSELF, you can also get your midwife to do them for you if you don’t feel comfortable doing it yourself.
You are sent 2 swabs, one for the vagina & the other for your anus, you simply swab inside both ‘places’. This test is simple, quick & very importantly painless. Simply send off your swabs in the provided packaging along with the paperwork & then comes the wait for your results.
My test came back positive & I was so worried, I thought it meant that I wouldn’t be allowed to go on the Midwife Led Unit at the hospital. I forced my mum to ring the hospital & see, thankfully I was told that I would still be allowed on the MLU!
I was super happy that I would be able to give birth on the MLU but gutted that I had tested positive for GBS.
My next midwife appointment came & I made sure to let her know that I had tested positive for GBS, I was greeted by a weird look & was asked why I’d bothered getting checked. ERRR good job really wasn’t it!
My notes were then adorned with a GBS POSITIVE sticker & off I toddled with another tinkle pot & told to use it if I made it to the next appointment!
A few days later I’d been out with my ex & came home, I’d been having little pains & assumed it was normal but whilst standing up rubbing a Braxton Hicks away I felt a little trickle. I told my ex & my mum & then I decided to pop some toilet roll in my pants to see if anything was leaking. I left it around half an hour & still felt a bit odd so I contacted the labour suite & as I had GBS they asked me to come down to be checked.
To this day my mum still laughs at this experience as when we got there I was checked by the funniest midwife who proceeded to check me out down there with, you wait for it, A FLOOD LIGHT. I was so distracted by that that I didn’t even notice the speculum was covered in blood, apparently that was normal though.
She said my waters were intact but that she thought I was in the early stages on labour & that I’d go into full labour within the week & she was RIGHT!
A week later after numerous walks & funny pains I went into labour.
This is the last picture of me as a pregnant lady,
For now you will bid me farewell,
This post has been extremely hard to write & even harder to read over.
Thank you for reading
Missed my first trimester? See it here
Missed my second trimester? See it here