Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Babies & friendship

Sometimes I forget the person I was before I was a mummy, before I was a wife. I forget the many nights spent out and about in London Town sipping wine and gossiping about work, men, fashion and all things frivolous. I forget how it felt to have disposable income, to have no responsibilities (bar rent and the odd bill), to have the luxury of time. Time to indulge in the finer things in life, time to socialise, time to shop and try on clothes, time to dine out and concentrate entirely on the person I was with. Life before I was a mummy is a distant but beautiful memory.

These days, life is somewhat different. Don't get me wrong, it is wonderful, more than wonderful. But it is quite different. I've changed. I've changed so much. Priorities are so different now, as are my interests. I'd love to enjoy a frivolous dinner out, but I feel a little more serious these days, and a lot more grown up. As I have changed, my friendships have too. New people have come along and some old people (not in age, in length of relationship) have sort of dropped off.  Not best friends… friends on the sort of periphery  Now that I don't have the luxury of free time, I have to chose very carefully who I share it with. 

Obviously during the week, when I am not working, my time is spent with the little man and other mummy friends entirely. Play dates, classes, fun activities, meals out are a blur of joy, mess and giggles. I am quite good at balancing conversations (i.e. talking about other things than motherhood) but I do always have one eye on my boy. My mind is a swirl of meal planning, shopping lists, playtime, snacks, drinks, baby books, sleep time, danger zones and worry. This is just the shortlist.

Weekends are largely spent with other 'families' (I find it odd to think of us as a proper family, it feels so very grown up but I suppose we are), out and about doing fun 'toddler' things or doing something that we can enjoy as a couple that we hope our boy will do (such as mooching about town, shopping or going for a meal out). We do occasionally see friends without babies. In truth, most of them (couple wise) like to see us in the evening. They don't say it explicitly but I believe it to be true. Bar one or two who have genuinely spent time getting to know & love Harry, most don't really get it and prefer our attention spent on them. These are the friends who I am a little self conscious around, not about my appearance, about how often I offer 'mummy chat'. I sometimes hear myself talking about Harry and try to reign myself in so as to not bore my company.

When thinking about this topic I wondered if it was just me who felt like this. To satisfy this wondering I asked a group of mummy friends whether they felt that there friendships had altered since becoming a mummy.  All but two of the ten girls I asked did. Some felt less sociable these days, they'd prefer to stay in and see mummy friends who 'get them', some felt so disappointed that there previous friends had dropped them when they became a mummy, apparently a lot of husbands felt this way too, some felt that they had to make so much more effort with older friends as they knew that if they didn't the friendships would fade away. They all felt that they wouldn't have got through the challenge of becoming a new mummy without their new mummy friends, met at classes, through NCT or through other friends.

The two who didn't feel this way had made a conscious effort to not become one of 'those mums', those mums who only talk about babies, always look a mess and generally lose themselves to motherhood (there words not mine) These girls travel forty plus minutes to see friends on a week night, ensure there baby chat is limited and keep up to date with the news/entertainment culture to make sure they have something to say for themselves.

Both groups said their worst nightmare is the obligatory weekly/fortnightly/monthly work drinks. They just don't have the time or inclination to socialise with colleagues. 

I'd say I was somewhere in the middle of both groups. I love working, using my mind, reading magazines, books and keeping up to date with the news. I do feel let down by so many friends who have disappeared since I became a mum (although I largely blame myself) and I feel blessed to have all these new mummy friends who totally get me and what I am going through.

One thing I will say is that non mummy friends seem to appreciate it so much when I make the effort to see them for supper in an evening or a drink, when I call them to check in and remember dates, job interviews  and so on… essentially their news. Which I suppose makes sense. They chose to be friend with me as I was then and whilst they of course are happy for me, they probably miss a bit of the old me.

I recently downloaded this app, it's called 'Connect' and basically, it pulls your contacts from all your social media feeds into a little map. Maybe this will help me stay in touch with my friends and more importantly with their news. It's so easy to become a little self obsessed when your a mummy and maybe I should do a little better at staying on top of my friends lives! As I've already said, they really appreciate it… when one of my friends gets in touch to ask how Harry is, or to ask how a particularly activity was that I maybe posted a picture of on Facebook or Instagram, it makes me so happy. Everything works both ways and as cliche as it sounds, I guess you get out what you put in.

What I like about this app is that it sends you an alert if one of your friends who lives over 100 miles away is in your area so you may end up seeing an old or forgotten (sounds so mean, but you know what I mean) friend unexpectedly. I got an alert the other day about a friend I had totally forgotten about from school, whilst I didn't meet up with her (maybe next time), it prompted me to send her a message and now we are back in touch! Social media is great, it really is, but nothing is more important than a little (real) face time.

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Jabs Jabs Baby

After 10 days of utter hell and misery, I am extremely pleased to tell you that the little man is finally back to normal, eating, drinking, smiling and most importantly temperature free..

Let me start from the beginning. I scheduled the jabs to take place a little later than intended, life kept getting in the way, first I was poorly then work got busy, so in the end the 12 months jabs were actually done when Harry was 13.5 months old (which just sneaks into the recommended time frame) 

The jabs themselves are a little crueler and harsher than the previous jabs, three separate jabs (in my opinion a hell of a lot for a little bubba to content with) consisting of the following… 

Hib/Men C booster, given as a single jab containing meningitis C (second dose) and Hib (fourth dose) Measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine, given as a single jab 
Pneumococcal (PCV) vaccine, third dose

The wee man didn't respond to them too well as I imagine most babies don't. Lots of tears, lots of attempted distractions by me. Finally a combination of toys, snacks and drinks calmed my poor baby down. After the jabs we headed straight to a playgroup which was enjoyed by both of us as usual, as if nothing had happened. That night, no drama at all. My boy was as happy as usual. The next day, the same thing. I thought I was spared of the dreaded post jabs hell. 

I was wrong, very wrong.

The jabs were on Tuesday morning, by Thursday evening, everything had changed. A night of wake ups, tears and sadness ensued. Harry never wakes up during the night so we knew something was wrong, he woke for the day at 5am (usually he rises around 7.30am) so we knew he wasn't quite right. 

Friday was an unpleasant day, he was miserable, very warm and refusing any food or drink, he also suddenly had a horrific chesty cough and runny nose. By Friday afternoon I was worried, he was so warm, so unhappy, so not himself. 

I called my doc and asked if this was normal/if I should come in. He said yes so off we went. More tears, more misery ensued as we headed off to the docs. The doctor was actually quite worried, his temperature was 39.4, he was extremely distressed and he was refusing any medicine at all. The doc gave me a prescription for a Calpol suppository and sent us on our way, not however before telling me that if his temp rose above 40 that night that I was to take him to A&E… 

Whilst his temp didn't go above 38 for the weekend, he was utterly miserable and still refusing food or drink, coughing, sneezing… we were still worried. He was lethargic, sleepy, unhappy and to me seemed to be in a lot of pain. 

Monday morning I called the doctor again (I hate being 'that' mum but I felt I had no choice)

Off we went again, the only appointment they had was at 5pm. The doc was concerned, no visible improvement, coughing ferociously, runny nose, temperature. He referred us to A&E to have Harry's chest looked at… all the while Harry was hysterical almost to the point of vomiting.

A&E was rammed. I've never been to the paediatric wing and stupidly had expected it to be calmer than the rest of A&E. How wrong I was. Anyway, within a few minutes of arriving he was being looked at by a nurse… roughly two hours later, a doctor looked at him. 

In the meantime they had asked that we try and collect a urine sample… I mean, how??? We tried but failed epically. I deem this to be an impossible task.

When the doctor finally examined him, she confirmed my suspicions.. he had tonsillitis she said but there was nothing she could give him… I begged her to prescribe something, she said she had to speak to her superior and that she would come back to me. Two hours later, they sent us away, no prescription, nothing. I was not happy.

The next morning he woke and he was worse. At this point I decided to take things into my own hands by calling a private paediatrician. I am not one to generally do this. In fact I have never felt the need to do this before. 

She looked at him and immediately decided that he needed penicillin. I am not sure why, nor is she, they didn't prescribe it in A&E. She said there is no way it could have got this much worse overnight… The heartbreaking thing was, the second he had his first dose he was considerably better. That night he ate dinner and slept through, as the days have gone on, and the medicine has been consumed (not an easy task, we have gone for the syringe approach) he has transformed back into our boy.

When I saw my NHS doc on the Friday and then on the Monday, he was sure that Harry's sickness had absolutely nothing to do with jabs.. the funny thing is that of my antennal girls, 7/8 of the babies have been horribly unwell with high temperatures and other symptoms since having the jabs. One baby also developed tonsillitis days after having them.. surely there is a connection even if it is just that their immune systems are low and thus they are more likely to pick something else up?

I don't know, all I know is that it has been a horrible few days and that I feel utterly let down by A&E… I am also a little put off these jabs that are positioned as a necessity. 

I am not saying I wouldn't give them to future babies in the future, I most likely will, but I will certainly clear my diary and mentally prepare myself for the potential 10 days of hell that lie ahead!!! And if there is reaction, I will most likely head straight to my private GP...