Monday, 29 June 2015

Conscious Pilates

As part of my recovery from abdominal divarication, I have been advised to take up Pilates (again).

I did Pilates for about six months to heal the divarication after Monty was born. I attended an evening class at the local leisure centre but never really enjoyed it. I felt so unhappy about my situation and spent a lot of time during the classes just thinking about my little lost baby. As soon as the physio said I could move on to other forms of exercise, I did.

This time, I am determined to do better. For a start, my divarication is worse: 10 months after my daughter was born, the gap is still 4cm across! More importantly, though, I am in a very different mental state and I can concentrate better on the classes. I know I am doing better - I have already reduced the divarication down from 13cm and after each class, I can feel the muscles aching for a day or two. Overall, my muscle tone is improving and my core stability is stronger.

I'm just about to increase my attendance to two Pilates classes per week. I have to focus hard on what I am doing and concentrate on which muscle groups to use but I would say that I am actually starting to enjoy Pilates.

I wish I could say the same for the weekly swimming I am supposed to do...

Friday, 19 June 2015

No problem!

My baby girl is now 42 weeks old. I look at her and wonder where the past nine and a half months have gone!

I'm still breastfeeding and we are weaning. She will eat three meals and a couple of snacks a day. She also has four or five milk feeds, each one usually quite short (5 mins or so). Sometimes, she asks for more milk feeds - usually only on days that her teeth are hurting or after a night with little sleep.
[No, she is still not "sleeping through".]

I perceive an expectation that my baby should be much more independent of me than she is. Mainly, from comments people make about feeding. Breastfeeding is something that I feel privileged to be able to do. I intend to do a full year, as I did with my elder daughter - not because I'm trying to treat them both the same but because we're getting along with the breastfeeding just fine. However, some of my friends seem to think that I should make a change, to 'get my life back'. They ask if I have tried expressing milk and suggest that perhaps, if I did, I could leave some milk out for my husband to give to the baby. They also mention the benefits of giving a formula feed at bedtime to ensure a full night's sleep. I'm sure there are good intentions but I feel like my decision to breastfeed is being undermined. I'm not asking for a solution because I don't have a problem.

I did express milk for my elder daughter. A couple of evenings a week, I would sit and express for 10-15 minutes after she went to bed, carefully decant the 50ml of milk yielded into a bag, label it up and put it in the freezer. I tried putting the defrosted milk on her cereal when she was weaning - she wouldn't eat it. I tried giving her the defrosted milk in a sippy cup - she wouldn't drink it. I ended up throwing my milk away (you can only store it in the freezer for 6 months) and I nearly cried thinking of all the effort that had gone into its production. So, this time, I decided not to bother expressing.

My choice to exclusively breastfeed is as valid as the next mother's choice to bottle feed and the next mother's choice to combination feed and the next mother's choice to stop breastfeeding and switch to formula after 6 months. It is a choice that I'm sticking to - at least for the next few months. When my baby is a year old and can have cows milk as a drink and I return to work, she'll probably give up breastfeeding quite quickly. Until then, I'll continue 'putting my life on hold'.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Turning orange

June is SANDS Awareness Month. This year, SANDS aims to turn social media orange, encouraging people to change their profile pictures and upload selfies to raise awareness and money for the charity.

I'm doing my bit, too. This month, I acted as a lay-person reviewer for research proposals looking at attitudes towards post mortem examination for babies and children. Instead of accepting the fee for my work, I asked for the money to be donated straight to SANDS. I'm also still knitting and collecting blankets to send in for the SANDS memory boxes.

I have also written an article for the Willow Tree Centre newsletter, due to be published later this month, about how bereavement counselling helped me to deal with my loss and rebuild my life.

As more time passes since Monty's stillbirth, my strength grows. His loss is no longer a physical and visible wound; my bereavement is becoming more neatly woven into the fabric of my life. I still want something positive to come from my experience, so I look for opportunities to give something back, to raise awareness and to raise funds.

Always loved, never forgotten

#Sands2015