Soft Toy Story

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Lately, I was talking with the childminder who looks after Muffin 4 days a week, and she mentioned Muffin’s love of stuffed toys. As I was leaving, she saw a small stuffed bear on a side nearby, and wanted it. Apparently, wherever she is in the house, there is always a stuffed toy somewhere near her.

She does have quite a lot of stuffed toys in the house, and there’s always been one in her cot with her, even when she was still co-sleeping with me in her bedside cot. There’s a line of several of them on the brick fireplace shelf in the kitchen, and she often pulls herself upright and pulls them all down to play with.

She has her favourite of course: Snuggle Bunny, which she sleeps with every night, and sometimes has to come downstairs in the morning otherwise there’s tears.

As a child myself, I had a massive collection of stuffed toys – I had over a hundred at one point, so it’s great to see that my daughter has a similar love of stuffed toys. Eventually, there comes a point in time when you grow older that you realise it’s not quite practical, and a bit weird! I think though, it speaks to an innocence and a desire to express an affectionate nature – when you are older, you lose this innocence, and learn how to express your affectionate nature to the people around you, rather than some inanimate object.

Although, I must confess, I still own one stuffed toy, from which I shall never be parted – and that is my bear 1980s release care bare. He sits on my bedside table in my bedroom, and wherever I live, he goes.

 

Gender Bender

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Ah, the loaded topic that is gender!! When I was younger and I used to envisage myself having kids, I’d always said that I didn’t want to find out the gender of my baby before it was born; I wanted it to be a surprise.

However, this changed rapidly when I realised that it would be quite advantageous to find out the gender of our baby before the birth – so we did. A girl. Yay!

This time, I can’t really see what difference knowing the gender of the baby will make. We already have all the baby items: cot, pram, etc. None of this will change, and we never discriminated with colours, so Muffin has a lot of blue things, and the pram is purple so feasibly not too girly for a little boy! When I was pregnant with Muffin, we were given a tonne of 0-3 baby grows from a friend of mine who has two boys – thus, they are all gender neutral.

Therefore, there is no discernible advantage to knowing if Noob is a boy or a girl! Of course, Jason does not see it this way, and insists that he wants to know the gender. We still have a number of weeks to go before this decision is finalised (I’m only 9 weeks, so we’ve got 11 weeks before the 20 week scan) I’m trying to convince him to not know, but I understand his anxieties: personally, I think he’s worried about ending up being the only male in our household; there is a family trait on his dad’s side where everyone has daughters.

When, in conversation, I happened to mention to my parents that I didn’t want to know the gender, but Jason did, they both remarked: ‘well, I want to know!’ and from this it was quite obvious that they didn’t understand that if only Jason knew, no one else would know until the birth! Although this did come up in a later conversation, with my dad asking me if I would be okay with them knowing if I didn’t… I respectfully did not answer…

So, I have told Jason – as a compromise – that if he knows, and can’t tell anyone, rather than torturing my parents for 20+ weeks with the knowledge that Jason knows but no one else can, I suggested that we simply lie to them and tell them that I have convinced him to not find out!! It seems the most feasible course of action – and whilst I hate lying to my parents, a little white lie to spare them from emotional torment seems okay to me – it’s for their own good!!

So, the gender will remain a mystery until Noob is born. This will obviously lead to many more asking of the age-old question – which is totally more intrusive than it actually seems – of: ‘what are you hoping for, a boy or a girl?!’

And what a silly question it is. Of course, it would be perfect to have a boy, and then we have one of each, and the ideal family unit, but I have come to the realisation that actually having two girls would be really awesome!

My mum had me and my brother, so she had one of each, but her sister – my aunt – ended up having two girls. Her oldest daughter – my cousin – fell pregnant six months before me, and has an 20 month old boy. She is also now pregnant again, and is expecting 3 months before me! During a conversation at my aunt’s house with her on the gender of her second child, I asked her what she was hoping for, she said replied: ‘I really hope it’s a boy, but I think it’s going to be a girl’.

I said: ‘well, you have all the things for a boy, and you know what to expect from a boy, but wouldn’t it be great to have one of each?’

To which my aunt said:’oh no, you don’t want girls. Girls are bitchy!’

And that made me realise that I definitely would love to have two girls. I was astonished that my aunt – who has two girls herself – would say that. Although, she was also the oldest sister of three siblings: two sisters and a brother.

I was always quite nervous about having a daughter, as I myself prefer the company of men, given my interests and hobbies. I’m not a very ‘girly’ girl, (although over the years, I’ve learned how to be more girly when the occasion demands!), and I’ve always worried about raising a daughter with an interest in make-up and clothes, but I’ve realised that she’ll be my daughter, and of course one day she will have interests that are completely different to mine; it doesn’t mean I can’t bond with her over it.

So, having two girls would be fantastic!

Given how different the first trimester has been compared to when I was pregnant with Muffin, my mother is convinced I am having a boy. However, it is natural for a second pregnancy to be much worse than the first in the early stages, so I do not think this is any indication of gender.

There’s so much emphasis placed on gender these days, and I just don’t think it should matter so much. Whether Noob is a boy or a girl, I will love him or her with all that I am – just as I love Muffin and Jason.

 

Did My GP Fail Me?

Okay so I apologise in advance: this post will probably be a little ranty, as it points to and highlights the many failings that led to my being undiagnosed and suffering from a chronic condition for several years.

I was in the second year of university. I lived in a share house with two friends and two friends-of-friends about 30 minutes from the university campus. I had managed to snag the penthouse – the attic room – and so had to walk up three flights of stairs to get back to my room and my solitude.

So, I used to walk 30 minutes from campus back to the house, then up three flights of stairs, and always as I mounted that final flight up to my door, my knees would feel sore and tired and almost like they were hot and burning on the inside. I would admonish myself for being out of shape and sit down in my massive leather armchair with my legs crossed. As an aside: I can no longer sit with my legs crossed without great discomfort!

It wasn’t until well into the third year of university, living in a different share house (this time with four friends – two of which also lived in the first share house), when I lived closer to campus and had less stairs to climb, that I began to notice something really wrong.

I used to power-walk everywhere – being a student and literally having no money, I was often too cheap to take the bus into the city centre, so I used to walk it. I think it was only about 45 minutes from my house. I also used to power walk to the campus every morning, which took about 20 minutes.

After a while, my knees were so sore and swollen, I realised that I had to visit my GP. So, I went to my doctors, which was right opposite the university campus.

The doctor said I had fluid on my knee, and prescribed me some physiotherapy sessions in which I turned up at the surgery, had to lie down on a bed and uncover my swollen knee, at which point the physiotherapist would put what looked like a lamp over the top of my kneecap, then leave me for about 20 minutes. I still have no idea exactly what the treatment was – maybe some form of heat therapy? Anyway, the idea was that it should reduce the swelling and remove the fluid.

I had assumed it worked, because whilst it was still hard to get around and I was still in pain, the ONE knee that was treated did seem better… But that didn’t last long.

Eventually, when I went back to my GP about this complaint, it wasn’t at my university GP, but rather when back at home at my local GP whom I’d been registered with since I was about 13.

I explained my symptoms to them – and this is where I think I let myself down. I admit that I described my symptoms incorrectly, which led them to the McGuffin that was a diagnosis of PFS or Patella Femoral Syndrome.

This was quite an understandable mistake in some respects; when I was 18 months old and first learned how to walk, I used to walk with my toes turned in and my mother was told by the doctor that this was due to one of my quad muscles being stronger than the other, and in time, it should right itself. It did, but I still have a slight ‘in-flick’ on my left foot when I take a step – the foot mid-step will veer towards my right, and for a while when I was about 10, it caused the heel of my left shoe to knock against my ankle bone so often I ended up with a wound on it for ages.

So, the doctor gave me some exercises to do, and I didn’t do them – I honestly knew they would not help. Then, I developed nail psoriasis – which is the pitting of the nail bed, where it splits away from the skin. This is a sure fire sign of psoriatic arthritis, and given my history, I went to see the GP again.

Now, I had looked online, and – I even said to the GP – you can go online and diagnose yourself with a lot, but I had numerous symptoms that lined up, and given that both my father, my brother and I all have psoriasis, the doctor agreed to do a blood test.

I had read online, that the reason why psoriatic arthritis was so difficult to diagnose, was because of the lack of rheumatoid factor in the blood. So, when my blood results came back, the doctor said, there was no rheumatoid factor, so there was nothing wrong with me… And this was where they failed.

I had read and found easily searchable information, that a general practitioner did not have, and thus left me in chronic pain for another few years or so… And it took, years later, the fact that I worked in an orthopaedic hospital in Oxford to get my GP to refer me to specialists who could help me manage my condition.

And that is pretty much my story. I always worry about getting cancer as I get older, because given my past experiences, I’ll have symptoms, go to the GP, get fobbed off and by the time they realise what is actually going on, I’m freaking terminal.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the NHS. I love the work it does, the things it achieves, and some of the people working within it are beyond amazing. I feel so lucky to have such an establishment – not just because I work for it! – it provides healthcare to everyone who lives in the country, free at the point of access, and it is crushed by the government, unappreciated by the masses, and mired in policy and bureaucracy.

I know I sound bitter – honestly, I’m not. The main thing I am thankful for is that now I have been properly diagnosed, the pain I experienced day in, day out is at an end and I am receiving treatment that allows me to be relatively unaffected by my condition – all thanks to the NHS. Granted, it should not have taken them so long to correctly refer me for diagnosis, but the end result is the same, and I am satisfied overall with the medical care I receive.

Psoriatic arthritis is a tricky condition to diagnose, and what with my being so young, often arthritis is dismissed in most patients who aren’t over a certain age – and general practitioners are just that: general. They need to know a lot of information about an endless number of health problems, both acute and chronic, so it is unsurprising that they can’t be expected to know and get everything right.

I have the utmost respect for anyone who takes an interest in and willingly trains to become a general practitioner; it really does take a special kind of individual, which is why there are so many GPs out there just not really suited to the role.

 

 

New Beginnings… New Challenges?

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I had originally intended this blog to be about my experiences becoming a mother for the first time, whilst suffering from a chronic condition. However, working a full-time job an hour away from where I was living, and what with everything that comes when you’re ‘Expecting’, I found little time within my days to write of my adventures. So, therefore, my blog remained dormant.

Now, I have decided to re-imagine my blog, given my current circumstances:

My daughter turned one about two months ago, I live in Berkshire near Reading in a 2-bedroom mid-terrace with mt significant other.I work part time around the corner from our house as an administrator for the NHS. I went back to work approximately 3 months ago. My daughter goes to a childminder 4 days a week.

And last weekend, I found out that I am ‘Expecting’ again!!

So, my blog will (hopefully) chart and share my experiences of being a mother of two (very close in age!) whilst also suffering from a chronic condition – although, when I didn’t find the time to write when I had one child, I have no idea how I think I’ll have the time with two!!

I guess, that is the challenge…?