Friday, 27 November 2015

What Not To Say To A Woman With SPD

Ahh, SPD. The pregnancy gift that keeps on giving. Pain, that is.

For the uninitiated, SPD stands for Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction. It's actually supposed to be called PGP (Pelvic Girdle Pain) these days but that doesn't seem to be catching on. I'm no medic, but basically it means that, as a pregnant woman's muscles relax, the bones that make up the pelvis become misaligned causing a lot of pain. I tend to go for the shorter explanation of, "my pelvis is falling apart." Which tends to kill the conversation right there.

But it doesn't always. While most people will be sympathetic, you will get the odd comment which gets you grinding your teeth (although that could be symptomatic of the fact you're in CONSTANT PAIN too). So if you're faced with a friend or relative with SPD, please try not to say any of the following:

#1 "Oh well, it's not for long." - In my first pregnancy, the SPD started when I was 30 weeks pregnant. I went to 40+5 in the end. Nearly 11 weeks of being in pain all the time, becoming pretty much housebound towards the end, doesn't really feel like 'not for long' when you're living with it. Plus there's the fact that, while in many cases the SPD will magically disappear after birth, it doesn't always. It took me a few weeks to feel normal again, only for it to recur when Eleanor was 22 months old. And with this pregnancy I started getting symptoms at 6 weeks. So actually, yes, it might be for long.

#2 "Oh we all got that in our day, there just wasn't a fancy name for it." - Really? You all felt like your bones were grinding together with every step? Oh no, what was that? Your hips felt a bit funny? Yeah, that's not SPD. And even if you did all get it, here's a newsflash - that doesn't mean I should have to put up with it. And you shouldn't have had to either. Pain is not just an inevitable part of pregnancy we should ignore - it's our bodies saying something's wrong and needs fixing.

#3 "It's quite common though, isn't it?" - Well, yes. Roughly 1 in 5 pregnant women will get SPD. But colds are pretty common too, yet we all still need lots of rest and moan a lot when we get them. We'd moan even more if we had a cold for weeks or months on end. It might be common, but that doesn't mean I should just live with it and carry on as normal, and it doesn't mean that I don't occasionally need to whinge about it.

#4 "Well, you'd better not get it with your second child, you won't have time for it then." - I won't have time for it? I'm sorry, is SPD a luxury I'm squeezing into my schedule? No, it's a MEDICAL CONDITION! And actually, seeing as it almost always recurs in later pregnancies and is usually worse, that's just making me worry more about my family's future. (Incidentally, I am now having my second child, and it is worse, but I'm coping. At some point I'll blog about how.)

#5 "Just take some paracetamol." - This was genuinely the advice of my GP. That and Google "symphysis pubis." Helpful. Paracetamol is about as effective a pain reliever as TicTacs for me anyway (the latter would at least leave me minty fresh) but when it comes to constant, at times severe pain, it won't even make a dent. SPD sufferers need proper manual treatment, not to be told to pop a few pills and deal with it.

Have you suffered from SPD? How did people react? Did you get any not-so-helpful comments?

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Got a Girl, Having a Boy: What Clothes to Keep?

When I tell people we're having a boy this time, one of the first things they usually say (after the obligatory, "ooh one of each!") is, "oh well I suppose that means you can get rid of Eleanor's old clothes now!"

Well, yes and no.

It seems odd that people automatically assume that a) all of Eleanor's clothes were so clearly girl's clothes they'd be entirely unsuitable for a boy, and b) ANY clothes should be deemed unsuitable for a boy.

It's drawn my attention to a double-standard I was already aware of in our culture. While pink and frilly is seen as the norm for girls, dress them in 'boyish' clothes and nobody's that bothered - they just label them a tomboy. (Don't get me started on that.) But it's far less acceptable for boys to wear 'girly' clothes, especially as routine. Yes, we might see the odd photo of a boy dressed in a princess costume and all go 'aww' but he was wearing a regular dress, or even just a pink outfit, would there be the same reaction?


As it happens, when I went through Eleanor's old clothes, I was fairly indiscriminate. The piles in the photo above are, from left to right, the get-rid pile, the query pile and the keep pile. The last one was by far the biggest, partly because we were fairly careful to choose 'unisex' clothes from the start, but also because I simply don't see why a boy shouldn't wear pink or flowers. My husband was even less discriminating, promptly transferring most of the query pile to the keep pile.

The get-rid pile was made up of things that were a bit worse for wear or that we weren't that keen on anyway, but I have to admit I did put dresses, tights and particularly frilly tops in there too. Although if he grows up wanting to wear a dress I'd be fine with that, something about deliberately putting a baby boy in a dress feels too much like a 'statement' to me, and not one I'm really comfortable making.

We've sorted through the first year's worth of clothes but it does leave us with a quandary about what to do with Eleanor's old clothes from now on. Do we keep everything to give our future son full choice when he's old enough? Or do I 'de-girl' entirely to save storage space? 

I suspect if it was the other way around - if we'd had a boy and were expecting a girl - I'd be keeping everything just in case. So would it be hypocritical of me not to do the same given our actual circumstances?

I'd be interested to hear what other parents of girls-then-boys did about this. Did you keep the two wardrobes firmly segregated, did you keep everything, or did you go somewhere in between?

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Going For The Double

It's been a bit busy in Ish Mother Towers recently, so there's something I haven't had chance to blog about ...


Yep, I've been eating far too much. But I've got an excuse, because I'm pregnant. Baby number two (which we believe to be a boy) is due in early March!

Obviously I'm very excited about the new baby, but I have to admit this pregnancy is proving a lot harder than the first. I got more nausea in the first trimester, and it still keeps coming back even now I'm nearly 24 weeks, but I can't really complain as I know people who've had far worse. I suffered from SPD with Eleanor from 30 weeks and it never really went away, but thankfully regular osteopathy is keeping the worst of it at bay, aside from a scary few days at 20 weeks when I could barely walk! The hardest part, though, has been the fatigue - I thought I was tired in my first pregnancy, and I thought I was even more tired as a mum, but motherhood and pregnancy combined has completely worn me out!

I've had to relax some rules for Eleanor as a result of being so tired. We used to have a rule that she could only watch an hour of TV a day - that went out of the window when, 6 weeks pregnant, I literally couldn't stay awake all day so would catch a nap while she watched CBeebies. I still do that some days, that second trimester burst of energy seems to have totally passed me by. TV is also my main recourse on days when I'm too sore with the SPD to really do anything. Eleanor is a very physical child and loves to roughhouse and play outside, and I feel really guilty that I can't do much of this any more. I suppose I'll have to get used to the guilt though, as I can't imagine transitioning from one child to two will be easy on any of us!

Eleanor is so excited about her new baby brother! She was already asking for a sibling before I got pregnant and, weirdly, just after we found out she asked if there was a baby in my tummy so I swear on some level she knew before we told her! She is very loving towards him already - she has a scan picture up on her wall and she'll often stroke and cuddle the bump and talk to him. She claimed she could hear him kicking way before I felt it so I've told her she must have big sister superpowers. She was very happy when we told her it was a boy but then she said she'd have been excited either way. And she's compensated by giving herself three imaginary sisters.

I'm really glad we left a long-ish gap between babies. As Eleanor is at preschool two and a half days a week now, the onus of entertaining her isn't wholly on me which has helped with the fatigue a bit. And she understands it so much and is so ready to be a big sister that so far it's been a joy to see her already bonding with her sibling. I've no doubt we'll get to a point where she realises this means a lot of change, but so far it's been wonderful seeing her excitement.

So there we are, that's my big news! I'm hoping to blog more about the pregnancy as time allows, I've also launched a new business recently so the little spare time I have after that is usually spent sleeping! But I have lots of post ideas for the rare evening when I'm awake and not working, so watch this space.