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Wheelie Momma

  • Wheelie Momma

    My Mum is a Superhero

    In the later stages of my pregnancy with Starfish I began to worry. Not just about the heavy weight of responsibility that hung in the air as with all first time parents but more specifically, how would he feel growing up with a Wheelie Momma? Would he be embarrassed of me? Would he get picked on or excluded from things because of me? I began to consciously consider how best to introduce the concepts of disability and diversity to him from the outset. I combed the Internet for a book that would help me explain in a way he could understand without becoming overwhelmed or having to mature too fast. Just like when I was looking for equipment; I couldn’t find a book that came close to illustrating our family dynamic or conveying the message I wanted to impart.
    It soon became clear that the only way I was going to see our story in print was to write it myself, and so I dusted off my cape and My Mum is a Superhero was born.
    The idea behind the book is very simple and yet, as I read over it myself I see the beauty and the power in its simplicity. For much of my life and until the last few years, I was locked in a cycle of pain and frustration. Now I see the strength in my body and mind and the absolute gifts it has bestowed upon me. Not least my gorgeous babies. What changed had nothing to do with my physical body and everything to do with my mind and the beliefs I was holding. I softened my beliefs and in some cases completely dropped and replaced those that were literally disabling me for more empowering ones and I now see my true super powers.
    With the book My Mum is a Superhero I want my own kids and others worldwide to look at people with physical challenges or differences and celebrate rather than pity or avoid them. Furthermore this book is an invitation to parents and children with any physical disability to see beyond any perceived barriers to their own potential and in doing so create the life they dream of.
    Each and every one of us have a Superhero within. This book invitation for them to come out and party!

    Pre order your copy here

  • Wheelie Momma

    The Stork comes to Town

    Thankfully my broken tooth didn’t cause me any problems. Initially I wasn’t sure whether I’d broken the tooth or a piece of a filling. The possibility of the latter caused me to panic slightly (as a child of the 80s with metal fillings) as I wasn’t sure if this could potentially cause issues for Chickpea. I buzzed the midwife who called the doctor to check. Understandably the doctor had a giggle at this before reassuring us both that all would be fine. I later discovered that I had in fact, broken and SWALLOWED a piece of my wisdom tooth, the irony of which was not lost on me!
    I was scheduled for a c section but hoping that Chickpea would make a move of her own accord overnight. As I moved around and sat on my CUB, I had a real moment of clarity. My Gentlebirth training had taught me that it’s not in fact how Chickpea is born that matters but how I deal with the curve balls that come my way when things happen that aren’t necessarily in my birth plan or what I had wanted. I had carried her for over 41 weeks, she was “big”, healthy and beautiful even in her scans. If she wasn’t ready to make her way into the world by the conventional route, there was obviously a good reason for it. I had to trust my baby and my body.
    Morning came and I was full of excitement and anticipation. I knew that we were just hours away from meeting Chickpea and holding her in our arms. In contrast to Starfish’s birth, I was not remotely nervous as I chatted to the midwife about delayed cord clamping and immediate skin to skin; 2 things that were very important to me. The Universe was on our side as we were in exactly the same room as we had been 2 years earlier when Starfish was born.
    The anaesthetist came to visit and had a poke around my back. He explained that I have a curve in my spine which he put down to sitting in the wheelchair. I stubbornly made clear to him that he would not be knocking me out and that his colleague had managed to get the spinal right first go; no pressure! He retorted that had been 2 years earlier and my spine was probably worse now. When we went into theatre leaving my other half outside the door as is standard, I again reminded the anaesthetist that I didn’t care if he had to remove my spine and half my back, he was NOT knocking me out. I left him on that note and retreated inward with my visualisations and affirmations so that he could get to work. When I felt the familiar warmth and tingling down my leg, I knew he had been successful. He couldn’t resist telling me that I was one of the most stubborn women he had met (in a nice way though). I laughed and said I had to keep him on his toes.
    A short time later my other half joined us again and said that he couldn’t believe it when he heard me laughing and chatting when he was outside, as though I was having a coffee with friends rather than being in an operating theatre. (The power of Gentlebirth). We continued chatting excitedly and within minutes there were choruses of congratulations and Chickpea was held up of the screen to us. Although I knew for many weeks I was carrying a girl, the sight of my daughter just inches away really blew my mind. Anyone who knows me, knows that I am the least girly person you will ever meet. How was I going to deal with 10+ years of pink, glitter and goodness knows what else?!
    Aside from the girly wake up call, my word, she was beautiful! Remarkably like her brother in appearance but unlike Starfish who just squeaked to signal his arrival, Chickpea screamed the place down! She was briefly placed on my chest and I felt a surge of love and contentment, just as I had 2 years earlier. My beautiful baby daughter, so soft, so vulnerable, so worth every second.
    Something that meant the world and made the day even more special was that while I was being fixed up to leave theatre, unlike last time, Chickpea and my other half were allowed to stay with me. She was weighed and we were told she was an impressive 9lbs 6ozs (4.25kgs). This is 1lbs 5ozs bigger than Starfish so it’s no wonder I was waddling around for the last few weeks. In recovery, just like her brother, Chickpea latched like a pro where she remained for most of the day (and has pretty much continued for the last 2 months!) We had countless hours of delicious skin to skin, which we were so wrapped up in that we forgot to take any pictures.
    Starfish came to visit later that day with my mum. He was somewhat put out to see that his sister was no longer in my tummy but more on my tummy. When we asked him if he’d like to give her a kiss, he proceeded to give her a gentle but definite slap! What made up for it though was the fact that he could say her name with crystal clarity, the moment we knew we had definitely chosen the right name.
    That night I spoke to the staff about when I could possibly get home. They were a little surprised by this request but said that if I could get out of bed, wash and pass a certain amount of fluids I could go home. Long story short, never one to shy away from a challenge, I completed all requirements and was home for my lunch the next day.

    The first night back home was a little scary as I had pain at levels I hadn’t noticed in hospital thanks to the beautiful haze of oxytocin. At one point I was doubled over in the bathroom, Chickpea was looking for a feed and Starfish was impatiently waiting to have a story read. My poor other half was in a frazzle wondering who to see to first. I sat in the bathroom and we took a second to focus “Who is in biggest need? Let’s prioritise”. I sat in the bathroom while Dad soothed Chickpea and helped Starfish choose a story. He then came back in to help me make my way back to the living room. As I fed Chickpea and we all cuddled up on the sofa for story time, everyone was happy and safe. This was our new normal, our crazy, hectic, noisy family of 4. Bursting at the seams with milk, nappies, crumbs, sticky handprints, sick… but most of all, love.

  • Wheelie Momma

    Let me In(tro)duce You

    I worked hard to convince my consultant that I knew what I was capable of this time round. Determined and backed up the knowledge I’ve gained from my Gentlebirth training as well as being kept totally chilled and focused by the tracks on the Gentlebirth app, I sat, expanding by the day in the sweltering heatwave. Braxton Hicks came and went as did my “guess date of July 1 and still no sign that show time was near. At 40+5 and a hot mess, even breastfeeding Starfish wasn’t enough to kickstart things. I did think a few times that the crampy pressure I felt might be something and not to put too fine a point on it, I was so hot that at times I thought that maybe my waters had broken! But as my lovely cousin (a newly qualified midwife) jovially pointed out to me, if I could talk through the surges, they were not the real deal yet!

    A scan with my consultant confirmed that everything was going well and that Chickpea who had previously been breech was now in the correct position so it was agreed I would relax until 41 +3 (as much as I could with massively swollen feet and a bump so big that the pressure on my back and the sheer weight of everything meant I could no longer straighten up. At 41+3 when nothing had happened of its own accord I went in for induction, armed with my trusty CUB chair and Gentlebirth app. I was admitted and given dinner almost immediately, very impressed as I had been too sick to eat anything for most of the day. Not because of any aniety about the delivery but rather heartbreak at leaving Starfish overnight and potentially for a few days, for the first time ever.

    Not long after dinner the duty doctor came to examine me and begin induction. She broke the news that my “big baby” was still very high and my cervix was “clamped shut”. She also said that Chickpea was very comfortable and could potentially stay put for another 10+ days! Not the news I wanted to hear. She explained that she felt my chances of a successful induction were very low and she also expressed concern that Chickpea’s size could cause issues. Now the size issue did not phase me in the slightest because the Gentlebirth affirmation “My baby is the perfect size for my body” had served me very well throughout pregnancy and I knew when she was able to grow to whatever size she was, she’d get out. I also took a lot of comfort from my supposedly “big baby” because I knew she’d have to be strong enough to contend with her big and bullishly strong big brother.

     

    What did concern me however was the idea of being induced and potentially labouring for 12 or 14 hours to no avail and possibly facing an emergency c section which would mea

    n I would not be conscious to see Chickpea enter the world. I expressed this to the doctor and she said honestly, in her opinion this is what she believed would happen. She said she is normally very pro VBAC and if I had successfully laboured at all in the past or was even partially dilated she would move heaven and earth to make it work for me. When I asked the direct question; what’s your advice? She said that she felt a c section was the best way to go.

    Feeling initially deflated, I looked at hubby for some guidance and said I needed a bit more time to think about it all, which she was more than happy to give me. Getting down off the bed to go back to my room, sticky from the insane heat and completely immobilised by my massive bump, my back and knees ached from the extra weight and in that moment I knew I couldn’t last possibly another 10 days. I decided then that a planned c section was right thing for me. It was agreed that I’d go to theatre first thing the next morning. Me being the stubborn soul I am though I hatched a plan in my head that I would use my Gentlebirth tracks and CUB as much as possible overnight and move around to try and coax Chickpea out of her comfortable cocoon of calm.

    So off I went back to my room to chill out with a bag of fruit gums; and proceeded to break my wisdom tooth on said sweets. Only I could do that eh? When would I get to a dentist? I was going to be pretty busy the next day and the following day, July 12 was a bank holiday in Northern Ireland! Bravo me, bravo…..

     

     

     

     

  • Wheelie Momma

    Eagerly awaiting another special delivery

    I still can’t believe that nearly 21 months have passed since Starfish was born and just as I’m starting to feel settled back into work again I’m already preparing to finish up and head on maternity leave again! As many of you will know I’m 29 weeks pregnant and starting to think about delivery options for our little “Chickpea”. 

    This pregnancy is very different for lots of reasons. I’m a lot more calm and empowered, a combination of experience and my GentleBirth training. Also with Starfish keeping me busy, I don’t have nearly as much time to obsess over every little twinge and niggle. The downside is however that unlike first time round, when I come home from work exhausted, I can’t just lie down and relax as understandably Starfish needs Momma time. The other weird thing that is totally different this time is that my sickness has only arrived in the last 2 months or so. Last time I was chronically ill for the first 6 1/2 months and only got rid of it with Bio Energy Healing. This time I flew through the early months. I think the sickness is hanging around now as the space in my tummy gets less and less and everything including my digestive system is really starting to slow down.

    As I’m now in the final trimester, and armed with the skills and knowledge I’ve gained through my GentleBirth training, the meditations and brain training for birth techniques, I’m excited for the new arrival; a stark contrast to the fear and anxiety I had with Starfish which led to my planned C section. This time I trust my mind and body to do what it was designed to do and believe that I can have a natural, non assisted delivery (VBAC).

    GentleBirth have specific tools for VBAC incorporated in the app and there’s even a VBAC course tailored for parents who have had a previous C Section or even multiple sections and now want a non assisted delivery.

    I’m all too aware that my muscles are much tighter than most and my limbs don’t bend as readily as they should or as would be ideal for delivery; however, that’s less of a problem now that I’ve discovered the possibility of an upright birth! Upright birth is exactly as it sounds; rather than getting into your pjs and lying in bed One Born Every Minute style, you stay mobile as much as possible, stand, move, or sit upright as much as possible, letting nature and gravity do most of the hard work for you. That makes perfect sense, right?

    Other benefits of upright labour and delivery are:
    Shorter labour (with gravity helping so much)
    No need for “coached pushing” as we see in the movies. Pushing is more mother led happening when mum takes the signals from her body that the time is right. This leads to the who experience being less strenuous and stressful for both mother and baby and reduces the risk of trauma or injury.

    Staying upright will ultimately be more comfortable for mum. This is especially important when you consider that even a short labour and delivery will be hours rather than minutes. Who wants to be in an uncomfortable position for hours on end? For me as a Wheelie Momma with frequent backpain (and chronic heartburn in pregnancy) lying down for hours is a nightmare so the idea that I can move around and mobilise or sit upright to deliver is an absolute breakthrough!

    I did briefly look at the standard birthing stool in my local hospital before having Starfish but it was hard and uncomfortable and no higher off the ground than a child’s potty so there was no way I could get down to it, even though I’m only 5ft tall; never mind be comfortable on it.

    When I visited the Irish Positive Birth Conference I was elated to discover the CUB (Comfortable Upright Birth) stool. This is a lightweight, inflatable birthing stool. Crucially for me, the fact that it’s inflatable means that it is also height adjustable with a single or double inflation. Fully inflated it is the perfect height for me to sit on safely and it is much easier to balance on than a traditional birth or yoga ball.

    The Cub is sturdy and secure while at the same time being soft, and even more so if you add the fleecy cover. It has no nasty ridges or edges that could restrict blood flow or cause damage and the beauty of it is, the shape means it can be used both throughout all stages of labour and to deliver baby.

     

     

    It’s not just a chair either, it can also be used as a support to lean against or lie on and with a single inflation it can even be used as an extra support on top of a bed; still a lot better than lying flat.

     

    There are huge psychological benefits to upright births too. Research has shown that when we go to hospital, put on or pjs or a gown and get into bed, we effectively go into “patient mode” and give over our power to the medical staff. Standing or sitting upright, straight with our shoulders back is a “power pose” which instantly makes us feel more empowered and in control. For labour and birth mind-set is key so the more we can do to stay calm and in control the better. This has led me to start thinking about not only how I will give birth but also what I’ll wear and the people and things I want around me while in hospital. I will dress for how I want to feel, comfortable but also feminine and powerful. Less baggy tracksuit and more my wonder woman t shirt.

    I have every confidence that armed with my CUB, the GentleBirth app and of course my amazing husband and birth team, I will rock my VBAC and welcome Chickpea into the world in the most amazing way possible.

    For more information or to buy your own CUB visit https://www.cub-support.com/

  • Wheelie Momma

    The Big Red Button

    It started when I was at university, one night a group of my friends and I were sat around the table in our flat putting the world to rights and someone out of the blue, asked a huge question… “If there was a big red button in the middle of this table and you could press it to change your life, would you press it and what would you change”? When it came to my turn to answer I think everyone (including me) expected me to say “yes I’d press it and make myself completely mobile and pain free” but to my complete surprise, when faced with the thought of my life being potentially unrecognisable, my answer came “I really don’t think I would press it”. My friends asked me to explain my thought process and as I’ve been thinking about this again in recent weeks, here goes….

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