There are plenty of things we take for granted. I think when life is going well it is normal to expect that it is going to stay that way, it is natural to get a little complacent. And then life comes and gives you a giant kick up the backside...
Our kick came today and I think it is going to be a long time before we take the simple things for granted again, in fact I would like to think we never will again.
I think one of the scariest aspects of life is the unpredictability of it all. You very rarely, if ever, get a warning that something untoward is going to take place. You will be going about your day and then bam something happens that can change everything.
That moment happened to us today. Before I start I have to put that thankfully this story has a happy ending.
Today's bank holiday meant the chance for one of us to have an extra sleep in and today was my lucky day. So while I slept soundly DD got up with the piglet and gave her breakfast, which he later remarked wasn't very large, but at the time he put it down to her being a little gummed up with a cold. She was tired apparently so had a morning nap, again nothing unusual with this, the morning was textbook.
When she woke an hour or so later DD decided enough was enough and that daddy daycare was closed for the morning so bought her in to me for a cuddle. Terribly congested she kept snuggling into my neck which was welcomed but slightly unusual, as since she has learnt to crawl she wants to be on the move all the time and cuddles just slow her down.
"Wowsers she is a hot little bunny," I casually remarked.
"I think it's time the winter sleeping bag was retired for the season"
"Haha look she is trying to stop herself from falling back" joked DD as the piglet did a jerky movement while sitting.
But then she jerked again. And then again, and in that split second our smiles were gone.
Our baby was fitting.
In all honesty the following sequence most likely took seconds, but it did feel like an age.
First she was fitting, her eyes rolling back and I was picking her up from the bed. Then I was throwing her at DD who ran downstairs with her whilst I scrambled to put clothes on. It is funny the things that go through your head in moments of crisis but I remember having an internal arguement with myself over whether I had time to put on a bra...
Running for the lifts I tried not to look, I think I knew that if I gave myself a chance to process what was going on I wouldn't be of much use to anyone. DD later explained how it felt like he was holding a dead person, how her body was limp and her eyes not blinking. I'm glad I didn't look.
The lifts in our complex have been playing up so after a few seconds of nothing we made a run for it. Normally when we go down the stairs piggy makes a little sound with each step, a noise that's a bit like a mix of a burp sound and a humph. Today the only sound I could hear was DD pleading with his monkey to make any kind of sound at all.
The hospital is 8 minutes away, today it took 5 minutes. I'll probably get a speeding fine, but I don't give a damn. Half way there she started whimpering. It was a 'thank god' moment when we were given a clue that things might not be as bad as we first feared. I think that was when DD and I started to breathe again.
The medical term for what happened today is a febrile convulsion. It should be called giving your parents a heart attack. They take place when the body suffers a huge spike in temperature. Apparently they are quite common. DD had one when he was the exact same age. But although bloody terrifying, they are not overly serious. There are several causes, illness is the most common. A small percentage of babies have one after they have had their immunisation shots. Piggy had her shots on Saturday, but as we found out today she has a bad virus, so either or both could be to blame in this instance.
A few distressing tests, some pain relief and some monitoring over a few hours and we were discharged. We were told to keep an eye on her temperature,to keep her cool at all times and were assured that this would most likely be the end of it all.
It was after we had put the pickle in her cot for the night that the tears started. Neither of us bothered to justify them, we both knew exactly where they were coming from. A mix of relief and a horrible sense of what might have been.
I'm writing this from the floor of her room, I'm taking the first shift. Tonight I won't grumble if she wakes in the night for no other reason than she wants a cuddle. If she wants a night feed she has got it, to hell with 'the routine'.
We had one hell of a day, certainly not the nicest way to spend a bank holiday but tonight we are the luckiest people in the world. We came home with a poorly but otherwise healthy little girl. Many other parents are going through much worse right now and my heart is hurting for them.
The cliches are true, moments like this put it all in perspective. Nothing is more important than the health and well being of our loved ones. We could have the best, most fulfilling jobs in the world. We could be super rich and be able to buy whatever, whenever we wanted. But if we, and those we love don't have good health we have nothing at all.
I hope I remember this the next time I feel hard done by...
There's not much you need to know about the day the piglet was born. To be honest childbirth isn't the most pleasant of dinner table topics. Nor is it something I really want to relive in minute detail as I try and turn it into some kind of meaningful prose. Therefore this isn't going to be the longest of chapters.
Thank god I hear you say. For a moment there I bet you thought I was going to tell you how my waters exploded straight into the face of my unassuming midwife. How she got a little more than she bargained for when she went poking about quite late on in the piece...
Likewise I won't write about how nothing, and I mean nothing, can prepare you for just how much those contractions hurt. Not even watching the omnibus of One Born Every Minute gives you the heads up.
Watching OBEM was handy however when it came to instructing DD on how to behave in the delivery suite.
One relevant episode saw a D2B (Dad to be) fall asleep during his partners labour. Now to be fair to the man it was a very long labour and his only companion for the duration was his incredibly boring mother-in-law. But still, he did manage to snooze through a fair amount of screaming so I'm wondering if he snuck some earplugs in? At one point he even asked her to keep the noise down. I don't think I need to tell you her response....
Anyway, nothing was said at the time but I did notice that DD was watching that episode quite intently.
"Can you please make sure you get some cans of redbull for your hospital bag." Requests DD a week before D-Day.
"Nah, it's ok. I've been told water and sports drinks are better during labour. But that's cool that you have been thinking about what I will need to get me through, very sweet." I say, feeling very smug that I should have such a caring, thoughtful husband.
"Not for you, for me!" He reply's passionately.
"I need you to make sure I have plenty of redbull to hand ok, so can you please make sure you buy a 12 pack today and put them in the fridge so that they are chilled and ready to go."
"I'm sorry are you confused? Is it you that will be giving birth? No! In fact I have the honour of that particular task. So why the hell are you the one that will need the energy drinks?!"
"You know how I have a habit of falling asleep easily." He answers.
This was true he did sleep like a baby (this was obviously written by someone who had never had a baby as they do not sleep, making this analogy entirely misleading in my opinion.)
"You could have a long labour and I'm worried I might get sleepy like that guy on TV and you'll go nuts."
"Umm I think seeing your first born entering the world will provide you with enough adrenalin to keep you awake dont you?"
"Mmm I wouldn't want to bet on it. Remember that time I fell asleep in the middle of that huge argument.."
I do remember, I also remember wacking him around the head with a pillow to wake him up. He had a point. A 12 pack of redbull was purchased the very next day.
In the end DD only needed 4 cans and we managed to avoid any pillow walloping.
As I mentioned before my waters breaking was a highlight to all in the room, other than the midwife obviously. And apparently the gas and air made me sound like Darth Vader. A fact made more amusing when I turned to DD after one particularly intense contraction and declared that I had just "made that contraction my bitch."
So after 6 or so hours of conquering some pretty intense contractions a little person entered the world and I can't begin to describe how it felt. Anyone who has had a baby will tell you it's the most amazing, surreal experience you will ever have. They are right.
We decided not to find out the sex of the baby before the birth and actually we were so happy that everything seemed ok we forgot to find out after. So after about 10 minutes or so the midwife said we really should find out what we had got, lifted the baby off my chest momentarily, and declared it was a girl.
A girl. I had a daughter. And what a perfect, pint sized, scrumptious, utterly edible daughter she was.
It's true what they tell you. In that moment every ache and pain, sickness and swelling, contraction and agony is worth it. In fact it suddenly disappears. You know that you've been in the most intense pain of your life but you honestly can't remember it. You have your baby in your arms and that's all that matters.
A funny thing happens when you are pregnant, your body becomes public property.
Now I'm not one of those people that hates people touching their bump, in fact I like to think of it as people giving B2B (baby to be) a little cuddle. But it is rather disconcerting when you are walking through the office or other public place and people you hardly know tell you very animatedly just how humongous you are.
It's not that I'm ashamed of my bump, I think it's the coolest thing in the world that I am genuinely baking my baby. But I'm certainly not planning on posing nude Demi Moore style...sure the offers haven't exactly been rolling in but even so...
I guess it's just hard when you've spent most of your teen/adult life hoping people will not focus on your body to suddenly have that as the first place people look. "Hello, my eyes are up here"
What I've also discovered is that there is quite a bit of competition amongst the mum to be set when it comes to bumps. Oh how those with the 'neat' bump smile smugly when the umpteenth person exclaims how tiny they are. While those of us lucky enough to be 'carrying all around' feel the need to explain that you honestly haven't been eating all that many chocolate eclairs.
At the end of the day all the wives tales about how people can tell what you're having is just that, a tale.
Like the size of your boobs or butt, the size of your bump comes down to genetics and the way the baby is sitting.
So here's a little tip from someone who has experienced the smug feeling when my bump was neat and tidy at certain points in this pregnancy along with the evacuate the lift of all extra persons when it went from little to large almost overnight.
If you come across someone with a BOB (baby on board) don't risk catching us at a particularly hormonal moment. When you see one of us waddling down the corridor don't tell us how big or small we are, just tell us how beautiful we look. It may not be true at that exact moment, but we'll take it.
Oh yes and this goes for other DD2B's out there. Saying your wife looks like one of the Ribena berries from that television commercial is not a compliment, nor is it a wise move....don't say I didn't warn you!
"Honey do you really need that? It's your second helping, and you had a pretty big starter."
"Oh my god are you saying I'm fat?!"
"No of course not! It's just since the pregnancy you have kind of put on a little bit of weight."
"Oh my god I can't believe what I'm hearing! So yes I did put on a bit during the pregnancy but that's totally normal by the way. And I'll admit it I haven't been that quick to loose it but I have a new baby for gods sake! I'm tired, I'm doing my best you know. I'm sorry if I'm not like those celebs that lose their baby weight in a matter of days. I think my hormones are still over the place to be honest. I can't believe I'm even having to justify myself, to you of all people. You should understand. I've just had a baby..."
"But that's the thing darling, you didn't actually have the baby, I did...."
I don't despise many people. Apart from the obvious, dictators, tyrants and the like. But there is one group of people I despise to the very core of my being. I am of course talking about women who get their figures back weeks if not days after giving birth.
It might surprise you to hear that I don't include the Victoria Beckhams of this world in this category. No I'm able to come up with plenty of reasons why she looks the way she does when she emerges from Great Portland Street Hospital, her latest designer baby in tow. Apart from the whole no eating thing celebs have teams of nutritionalists, personal trainers and chefs, all working their butts off to ensure said butt is as small as it can be. No I can tell myself that if they were in my position they too would have a baby bump months after the baby is out in the world.
No my real bug bear is with those mere mortals amongst us that go straight from the hospital into their skinny jeans faster than you can say Atkins.
I think you have probably gathered from my tone that I unfortunately don't fall into this category. Now before you call me bitter and jealous I fully admit I am both these things. But I don't think I'm alone when I say that along with changing room mirrors a new mums worst enemy is the fellow newbie that is back to looking her skinny assed best within weeks.
Now if you are reading this and are getting offended, don't be, you are obviously lucky enough to be one of those women who bounce back after birth, rather than just bounce as the case may be for the rest of us.
If you are reading this and are nodding away furiously then just know you are not alone. Maybe you, like me, are still a long way off looking your pre pregnancy best. Maybe you've grown a little too attached to your maternity jeans and can't imagine ever fitting into your favourite pair of Diesels ever again. Or maybe you've just said sod it and swapped those jeans for nice comfy, stretch leggings...every chubby girls friend.
You might be surprised to learn that my personal battle with the bulge didn't really kick in until after the piglet was born. Helpfully I seemed to loose my usual cravings for all things sweet and instead had a constant hankering for crushed ice and mandarins. In fact when I look at the photos taken in the days following the birth I look ok. Sure my tummy was hanging around my pelvis, but apart from that my months of swimming leading up to the birth seemed to pay off.
But then it all went wrong. You see when you have a baby everyone wants to see Him or her. Which of course is lovely but it means that you need food to give them. Now as I was spending most of my time on the couch with a baby attached to my boob the food shopping fell on the shoulders of New Nanna or Devoted Dad. We didn't have a problem when NN was in charge of the trolley. A plethora of fresh fruit, houmos and other healthy snacks would appear. Although the lady isn't a saint there was also an extensive selection of cheeses and crisps on offer too.
DD on the other hand should have taken out shares in cadbury for all the biscuits he purchased. On one particular jaunt to the shops he returned with 3 varieties of biscuits, 2 huge bags of crisps, a chocolate cake, 3 dips and crackers, oh and some cucumber to be fair. So you can see why the weight quickly piled on. Sure I could have ignored the junk, no one was forcing me to eat it, but when your surviving on little to no sleep and are spending any waking hour with a little person attached to your body, willpower goes out the window. I remember a fellow newbies response when I said to her that I was thinking about going on a diet."You've got to have something nice in your life" she said mournfully. Her baby was a particularly bad sleeper.
And while I'm ranting there is something else I need to get off my chest. There is a myth circulating that I know could cause a lot of new mums harm. Despite rumours to the contary I can tell you once and for all...Breast feeding does NOT mean you can eat whatever you like.
Sure it does help your stomach move back into position slightly and certainly doesn't hurt but does it negate all the crisps and chocolate biscuits? Most definitely not!
One helpful midwife told me you burn up to 500 calories a day BF.
"It's like going for a 10km jog every day" she declared gleefully.
Well I lapped that up. Having always dreamed of being one of those women who jogged daily and ate like horses I was excited to finally be joining that club. For a good few weeks I had a little spring in my step as I moved from the couch to the fridge, and back again.
Bring on the pasta! Another biscuit? I don't mind if I do. Shall we have Indian takeaway for dinner? Oh no that's fine get every variety of naan bread, I'm breast feeding remember, I'm losing weight as we speak...