“Have You Tried Ginger?” And Other Things Not To Say To A Hyperemesis Gravidarum Sufferer

Buckingham Palace this week announced that the Duchess of Cambridge is pregnant with her second baby, and that she is again suffering from Hyperemesis Gravidarum, or extreme morning sickness. If it was just the first part of that sentence, I’d say, “oh, that’s nice” and move on, but with the announcement of HG, my interest and empathy thoroughly perk up!

In her first pregnancy, I found the plethora of comments about how she just had to suck it up, how she was ‘delicate’ and other disparaging remarks quite upsetting, as someone who had suffered from the same condition but now I just look at them as signs of ignorance. Honestly people, if you haven’t suffered from HG, don’t comment on it. As simple as that. Especially not if you want to say one of these things, because there are some things that you should never say to someone who suffers from HG.

Hyperemesis GravidarumEveryone has morning sickness. It’s part of pregnancy

Morning sickness sure is. Hyperemesis Gravidarum isn’t. Of the 671,255 births in the UK in 2011-12 one percent of women suffered from HG. That’s 6713 people who’ve been to one of the darkest places pregnancy can take you. They had Hyperemesis Gravidarum. The other 664543 had morning sickness. But they are not the same thing. Many HG sufferers start being sick before they know they’re pregnant, too. For me that was at 2 weeks, each time.

I didn’t get to lie around when I was pregnant. I had to work!

How nice for you, really, that you could. I worked through the 18 weeks of my first fight with Hyperemesis, but it was just me to look after (and my husband, but he can cook himself dinner, and the house didn’t need much cleaning with two adults at work all day.  I sat at a desk in my own office with a bucket by my side without too much impact on anyone else.

With my second, we moved house just as I became pregnant. I hadn’t unpacked all the boxes yet when I started throwing up. I didn’t until just before she was born. And I had another child to look after. Those were hard days. An excited, happy two year old, 20- country travel under the belt, had to sit and watch Peppa Pig for 26 weeks because her mama couldn’t get off the sofa without fainting. Hard days.

Other children of Hyperemesis Sufferers still have to eat. They still need their nappies changed. Life goes on, but most of us would be not ‘lying around’ if we had a choice.

Get some rest

[pullquote] If you love someone with Hyperemesis Gravidarum, don’t give them advice on handling nausea. Just ask them what you can do for them. [/pullquote]

Oh, between puking, fainting, feeling sick and trying to stay alive, being constantly thirsty, hungry, and generally gaunt, sleep is easy to come by. Rest, however, not so much. Because you’re still dealing with the bump, the SPD, the heartburn, the dreams. Everything that comes with pregnancy. Oh, and the vomiting, and the extremely isolating disease which knocks your confidence, your self belief and your ability to function as a mother, a wife, a friend. 

Have a ginger biscuit or toast first thing in the morning

It’s a great plan for someone suffering from morning sickness – fill the tummy, and help prevent nausea. It doesn’t work for Hyperemesis Gravidarum sufferers (everyone is different, of course). Eating anything, drinking anything, even water will make you vomit. It’ll make you wretch and gag and heave until you’re throwing up little pieces of stomach lining. Then comes the blood as you tear your oesophagus.

It’s like drinking so much you’re still legally drunk the next day. You wake up jittery and nauseous with a mouth so dry no drink can quench the thirst, you can’t even think about breakfast, and even water comes right back up again. It’s like that every day, all day, for some of us.

Be grateful. It’s the sign of a strong pregnancy

You can be so desperate to have a baby, be exhilarated by the news, be hopeful that the ginger will work, the bands will work, the magnesium will work, and then find yourself in a heap on the floor, convinced you’re going to be a terrible mother and your baby hates you already. You can start thinking about your ‘options’ or lack of them, even if it’s something you’ve never ever considered before. You can wish for death. Pray for it, in fact.

Back in the day they used to say that Hyperemesis was a psychological condition in women who didn’t really want their baby. Unless you’ve lived through this condition, you can’t begin to imagine how painful that is for a woman to be told, to hear, or have insinuated.

Charlotte Bronte is believed to have died from the extreme starvation, malnutrition, and dehydration associated with HG.  Don’t tell a woman suffering from Hyperemesis Gravidarum that she should be grateful or is lucky.

Wear comfortable clothes

By the time you’ve puked so much you’re seeing your stomach lining from the outside, or have ripped your oesophagus, you’ve pretty much lost the battle with bladder control too. What little fluid your body may still contain quite easily trickles onto the floor with each dry heave. Forget about clothes. It just adds to the laundry.

Just the feel of material against your skin can be enough to set you off, anyway.

You had fun making the baby…

That’s what blogger Rosie from Mummy And Boo was told by her midwife. You had fun making the baby… now comes the hard part. Wow. Just wow.

My number one most hated thing: Have you tried ginger? 

I’ve had my head in the toilet for 26 weeks. I’ve not run around with my child, I’ve not done anything for or with her. I’ve been fighting hospitalisation because I have no one else to look after my child, while my husband is the sole breadwinner trying to keep a roof over our heads. I have lost a ton of weight, rapidly, as well as two teeth from all the acid. I vomit every time I move. I’ve had to buy a new washing machine because the first thing I can smell when I wake up in the morning in the washing machine – a floor down and two doors away (sense of smell is heightened by HG). I haven’t seen my friends in weeks, have cried tearless sobs every time I’ve taken non-pregnancy safe medication in an attempt to stay alive while wondering what it’s doing to my baby, and I have had arguments with doctors about what medication will and wont work for me – this isn’t my first time you know.

Do you really think, like really think, that I didn’t somewhere in the beginning of all this, try ginger.

What a woman suffering from Hyperemesis Gravidarum needs is someone to take her child/ren to the park, or play with them in the garden. And feed them while you’re at it. Something that doesn’t smell after (like garlic or onions or beans). Take her laundry out of the house and wash it for her. Wash her sheets with anything not perfumed. Don’t wear perfume around her. Ask her what she needs. Bring ice cubes. Every pregnancy and case is different. In my first I couldn’t handle garlic/meat. In my second the smell of water was horrific. To this day I feel ill when I hear Peppa Pig’s theme tune. If you love someone with Hyperemesis Gravidarum, don’t give them advice on handling nausea. Just ask them what you can do for them. 

New Survey Says One In Five Still Think Public Breastfeeding Is Inappropriate

I receive over 100 press releases a week, and mostly, I don’t go beyond the headline before filing them in archives where chances are I’ll never look at them again, but recently a survey conducted by www.myvouchercodes.co.uk, really caught my attention: breastfeeding in public.

Now, quite frankly, you all know my opinion on breastfeeding in general, but I thought the results of the survey were interesting.

I don’t know why we bother even calling it breastfeeding in public. We should just talk about feeding in public and get on with it, without apology or concern for the puritanical sensibilities of people who aren’t offended by bikinis, low cut tops, or perfume billboards.Untitled

What really excited me about the survey was the fact that only 21% of people felt that breastfeeding in pubs and restaurants was inappropriate. I know that’s still (marginally more than) 1 in every 5 people, but there was a time when it seemed like everyone was against it, so I see it as progress really. (Unscientifically. I don’t know how many people didn’t like it 10 years ago!)

The survey was only done by 500 people, and 21% of those said breastfeeding in pubs and restaurants was inappropriate (too right! Who wants to see anyone eating in a restaurant or pub, those houses of modesty and propriety!), and 18% thought public transport was an inappropriate place (I for one much prefer listening to a screaming baby all.the.way.home). I assume that the 18% who thought recreational areas were a no no are the same people who believe your life stops when you have a child (no wonder!) and one that made me laugh was the 16% who thought you shouldn’t breastfeed in town or city centres (I can’t even think of a sarcastic comment for that one!) – but you’re okay if you are in a shop that’s not in town – only 1% thought that wasn’t appropriate.


Mark Pearson from My Voucher Codes said: “We are aware that mother’s still feel persecuted sometimes over this subject and we hope that eventually breastfeeding in the places mentioned becomes the norm for them. And that we don’t keep seeing news stories, where a nursing mother has been told to hide away to breastfeed. ”

I agree with him, to an extent, so long as we don’t keep seeing it in the news because it’s no longer happening, rather than because we no longer care about it.

You only have to search breastfeeding on this blog to know that I am a huge supporter of full term or long term breastfeeding, and I do think that it’s by bloggers, friends, mothers, sisters and complete strangers giving a supportive smile, a knowing nod, offering a breastfeeding mother a drink (it’s thirsty work, folks!) that that 21% will be steadily whittled down, so that when my daughters have their babies, the words breastfeeding in public won’t even be used together anymore, but instead they’ll look back on ‘inappropriate breastfeeding’ as an antiquated and weird concept.

What do you think? Is public acceptance of breastfeeding growing?

On Your Last Day Of Preschool – Letter To A Four Year Old

Your First Day of 'Big Class'

Your First Day of ‘Big Class’ – You didn’t want to pose for a picture as you didn’t want to be late.

My most beloved big little girl

It’s the day before your last day at preschool and the world is changing again for you and for me. I watch you sometimes and the mannerisms, words and thoughts that come from you are no longer those of an infant or a toddler. I’m scared to say it as you are still only four but they are often barely those of a child and at times, when you speak, I feel like I’m faced with an adult – a short little grown up.

It’s strange for me, you know. I know this is your whole world and right now you are standing at the furthest reaches, the outposts of the world you know, standing on tip toes and stretching your hands out. Like a counter from which you can smell, but not yet see the chocolates. You think you see the whole world. All of life. And you feel so big, so ready for it.

I can’t imagine how I will feel when you reach the end of school, university, singledom, child-free, or when your little girl heads off to her last day of preschool. But I do know that on that day you will look at me and there’ll be a little understanding, a little sympathy for what my heart feels right now, when I look at you and see the smaller version of the future you.

You were born, and imprinted on my soul forever

You were born, and imprinted on my soul forever

You may have forgotten, but I rember the moment our eyes met. Hollywood makes movies from moments like that. That moment, that first feel of your skin, the meeting of our souls, it is imprinted on me forever. As I write this I’m sitting on a train and my eyes well up with tears as I remember the moment that cataclysmically ended life as I had known it, bringing in a new dawn, one where I became a mother. At the moment while you are so excited about all the new things that the new school year will bring you I can only see you through that filter, that small baby.

Oh, if I could stop time to do again these last four years with you unaware of the world out there, with me as your world once more, oh my darling, I would, I would.

I remember the first time I got on a bus with you. I paid my fare and asked the driver how much I had to pay for you. He said “children under 5 are free!” I laughed. I felt I had won the lottery! FIVE years!! That was, I thought, practically a lifetime of free travel!

In just a couple of months, you’ll have to get your own ticket and the thought of it startles me. Where did five years go? Sometimes I still feel like that young mama, baby strapped to me, boarding a bus.

Go my girl. Go into this big wide little world in front of you. Explore beyond the bug box, beyond the sensory rice, beyond the mock snow, dig deeper than the sand pit, deeper than the treasures I’ve hidden for you.

Your first school play at Preschool

Your first school play at Preschool

Make friends with people I haven’t introduced you to. Learn about things that I haven’t taught you. Go where your imagination takes you but always know where your home is, and where my heart is beating anxiously to hear about your day, your adventures, your experiences.

Yes, you are only nearly five, not eigteen, but if I don’t say it today, the next 12 years may soar by and I’ll be saying it again but with less time to hold on to you.

The world is out there my beautiful, strong-willed, golden-locked girl. The chocolate is yours for the taking. But be kind to your mama whose arms still carry the imprint of the first time they held you. Once in a while, nuzzle into my chest so I can still breathe you, once in a while look back and know that you are still in the centre of my world.


Wanted: Escape From The Hamster Wheel

It’s not that it’s a failure, per se. I’m not even bitter. It’s just that things haven’t panned out as I imagined. If I’d ever made it into a year book, the caption by my picture would probably have said ‘Most Likely To Succeed’ or at least ‘Most Likely To Die Trying’.

But instead, I woke up one morning and found out that life today would be exactly like life yesterday, and life tomorrow the same too. Not in a day-to-day way, actually. I mean, today we may do crafts, tomorrow we may go out, but at the heart of the matter, every day has one objective: Make it through. Scrape the Pennies together. Survive. Okay, that’s three, but they’re on the same theme.

Woman-on-hamster-wheelBiding my time has never been my thing. There’s so much to do in this world and with this life, but living from paycheck to paycheck, juggling which bills will get paid each month because there simply isn’t enough money around to pay them all? Well, that’s not where I hoped to be in life.

Jolly RogerAnd it’s not just me. I was reading up recently about how many families with children there are in the UK and I found that the number of families who have moved in with other families (concealed families, they’re called) has dramatically risen over the last few years because people can’t afford to stay on their own any more.

Thank God we’re not there yet – I don’t even know who we’d stay with! But when did life become such a hamster wheel? There must be more. Teachers are striking. ‘Poverty Pay’ is an actual term used in the news. Apparently one in five in the UK live under the poverty line. And sure, there’s poverty and then there’s POVERTY. We’re not homeless with our children playing in the dirt outside ramshackle huts. I know that. But it’s all about perspective.

Maybe part of this ‘gentle stroll to granola’ is going to become about living different to the norm, out of the hamster wheel, and different to what’s deemed “right”. I can feel the North Wind blowing for me. It’s time to pull up anchor and see what’s still out there. 

Jolly Roger

How The School Run Drove Me to Home Education

Well, I should say, “How the Pre-School Run Drove Me To Planning For Home Education” because that’s where we are right now, on that cusp between the final term of preschool and the first term of home schooling, home educating in the UK, our four and a half year old Ameli.

How the school run drove me to home educate

Ameli’s been going to pre-school – a play group in a church – for over a two years now, on and off. She goes three times a week, for three hours. It’s not so short that I can’t do anything with that time and not so long that I can do a lot. It’s just enough time for her to have a fabulous time playing and learning and being part of a group. It’s been a time for us to see her through someone else’s eyes, and a time for her to enjoy – she’s been independent since the day she was born holding her own head up to look around – some of that independence all of the Western world seems to want our infants to have.

When we had to look around at schools and make the decision on where we were going to send her in September, I made two lists. On the one I wrote down the pros and cons for her. On the other I wrote down the pros and cons for me.

My pros were easy: me-time, time with Aviya, time to pursue some of my own interests again. The cons were even easier: SCHOOL RUN. Yip, just the one.*

I hate the (pre-school) run. The mad dash to get ready in the morning. Getting to the school ‘gate’ with my hair unbrushed packed into a tight bun so no one will know. My fingers still sticky from the jam on Ameli’s breakfast toast. The evidence that I’m just not as organised as everyone else looks.

Their kids don’t have pen marks from DIY tattoos. Their hair is in perfect ponytails, not pulled out 6.3 seconds after they were tied up. No one else ever forgets the (empty, because I have no idea what to put it in it now that she doesn’t need a spare change of clothes for ‘in case’, and since she gets a snack and drink from school) backpacks. It really seems to be just me.

But that all I could live with if I could stay in the car and wave her off into the school building. But no. Come rain or shine, I have to stand in line with a bunch of other mothers and fathers, and make small talk.

Folks. I missed that class in school. I don’t know how to do it. I don’t know how to talk about the weather, and I don’t watch X-Factor or Big Brother. And I don’t want to start, just so I can talk to the parents in the school line.

To be fair, my life is unchanged by their presence in it. I’ve become friends with one or two but for the rest, they have no impact on my existence, but I know this isn’t fair to Ameli. She comes home and talks about her ‘best friends’, these people who are so formative to her future in these relationships that form the basis of every other relationship in her life to come. I feel I owe her to at least try.

So I do. But I wear my heart on my sleeve. I think I look and sound like a fool. I look and sound like I’m pretending.

Sorry parents on the school run. My husband normally takes and fetches Ameli, because standing in that line with you feels like there’s a spotlight on me. My husband says you all think I’m really rude and stuck up, because I don’t talk to you much. I just nod and smile. Which he says is “sooooo unlike you!”

He’s right. But whether it’s because I spent my first six months of school run over two years ago now not talking because I was afraid I was going to throw up on you, or if it’s because  I can’t bare to stand and talk about nothing, I apologise. It’s not you, it’s me. And I’m so very glad that we have chosen to home educate, at least in the beginning, so that I don’t have to do it every.single.day.

Also, I have no idea how I spawned such a confident and outgoing child, but I’m sure glad for her that I did.

*my decision to home educate came down to a lot more than just hating the school run. This post is about hating the school run. This was not what made our decision.

What The Contents Of My Hoover Say About My Life

I hoover my house almost daily. If I don’t, after just one day, it looks like I never have.

A few days ago, I was cleaning out the bagless hoover, and amid a cloud of dust, I began to giggle to myself as I realised that the contents of my hoover are a direct insight into my life.  Read more here…. 

For a long, long time now, I’ve wanted to start another blog, something that resembles what this blog used to be a few years ago, but it’s taken me almost a year to come up with a name I liked. Well, I’ve done it now… and in walks Not Quite Granola.

I’ve shared a few posts from Diary of a First Child over there, but also some new content. If you’ve enjoyed my attachment/natural/gentle parenting posts, please pop over to Not Quite Granola. I’d love to see you there!


What The Contents Of My Hoover Say About My Life

I hoover my house almost daily. If I don’t, after just one day, it looks like I never have.

A few days ago, I was cleaning out the bagless hoover, and amid a cloud of dust, I began to giggle to myself as I realised that the contents of my hoover are a direct insight into my life.

Contents of my HooverOnce upon a time there was a man and a woman. They both worked full time, and were hardly ever home. They hoovered every few weeks and cleaned out the hoover every couple of months. Their hoover was full of hair and dust balls. Fast forward four years and that hoover is full of… well… everything else.

There’s glitter from the morning crafts, play rice from the afternoon sensory play. There’s broken up bits of water beads that were brought in from the water table and stomped on, and there are thousands of bits and pieces of paper, string, confetti, crayon wrappers and a million other remnants of creative projects. There’s bits of food from a two year old insistant on feeding herself and from a four year old who tips her plate over to show us there’s only crumbs left on it.

There are bits of LEGO Friends that have to be meticulously picked out, and a pebble – the most specialist pebble in the world, mind you – from a recent trip to the sea, or a leaf from the nature hunt or the now dried and crumbled remains of a nature art activity.

I look through my hoover and I see the signs of a life lived with children, in full colour, full exhuberance, full enjoyment. This is the life I see now. My life.

And one day the hoover will be used every week or so again. There will be no muddy footprints going through the house. There will be no glitter, confetti, sparkles that cling stubbornly to the floor. That day I will look at the hairballs and dust bunnies gathered in my hoover, and I will remember today and I will miss it.

Mamatography Week 13: Flowers And Firemen

There’s definitely a hint of spring in the air, with lots of flowers everywhere.

82: Bring On Spring
Inspired by our trip to the Moonpig Mother’s Day event a few days earlier, we made a lollipop flower garden so we could give a few special people some flowers.

84: Gift Basket
Friends of ours came back from a holiday in Australia, so we dropped a care package on their doorstep so they wouldn’t have to rush out for breakfast, or worse, milk for coffee first thing off a 19-hour flight. I know what it’s like coming ‘home’ from a trip ‘home’ and never really belonging in either place. It’s hard.

85: Breakfast
We receive the Disney Cakes And Sweets Magazine every month, and this month, the freebie with it was a pan for making these fab Mickey Mouse pancakes. So yum using our regular recipe, and the girls just loved it.

Mamatography Week 13

86: Sugarcraft

Although it’s two weeks after the fact, we’re having Aviya’s birthday party tomorrow, so I’ve been making flowers for the cake. Unfortunately I didn’t think to actually flour the shot glasses, so most of them broke taking them off. Lesson learned. I was quite happy with them to that point though!

87: Messy Play Party
At some point I’ll get round to blogging Aviya’s messy play party. Suffice to say it was super fun though.

88: Firestation!
Another thing I have to get round to blogging, is our trip to the Farnham Firestation as part of our Emergency Services PlayLearning week. Doesn’t she look pleased with herself though?

Link Up Your Mamatography Posts:

 This post is part of the Mamatography 2014 Project with Diary of a First Child and Momma Jorje.

We are taking (at least) a photo a day, a collage or a picture each week to keep a record of our year. Join us at any point during the year and start sharing your own daily photos!

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Love Bombing With A Three Year Old

There’s been a distinct disconnect between my almost four year old, Ameli, and myself lately. We just aren’t working well together. We’re not cooperating. I’m shouting at her, she’s shouting at me. She ignores me. She tells me I’m not her best friend anymore. She doesn’t listen to me… and the number of times I’ve said the words ‘you’re  not listening to me’ made me realise that maybe, just maybe, the disconnect is because I’m not listening to her, either.

By listening to her, I don’t mean paying attention when she talks, or doing what her three year old demands insist. I mean really, deeply, listening to her, to what her words are not saying.

Love BombingIt started in Australia really, when I guess we pulled the rug out from under her world very quickly and spent six months constantly changing the rules, uncertain of what we were doing, or where, or when. That can’t have felt very secure for her.

Coming back to England has restored a lot of security and routine, but the disconnect has been there, a steady constant.

I remember some time back I started reading a book called Love Bombing which talks about resetting the emotional thermostats of parents and children. It makes sense. When you and your partner aren’t connecting your relationship suffers. When you spend time together, talk and have fun together, you end the day feeling a lot more connected and together than you started it. Why shouldn’t the same principle ring true for our relationships with our children?

The principle of Love Bombing is pretty simple. For a specific period of time, you do what the child wants. Whatever the child wants. You don’t answer the phone, read emails or have other distractions. Your attention is 100% on the child.

Don’t we all like to be the centre of attention for the person we love sometimes?

So, Ameli and I went to see a movie. She didn’t love the movie – she found it a bit scary – but she loved sitting on my lap, hiding in my arms. She loved it being just her and me.

And this morning, she came and sat next to me on the sofa for a while. She cuddled with me. She told me about sharks and shrinkets and all sorts of other things that occupy the mind of a toddler.

One movie doesn’t fix everything. There’s work to do, time to go. We’ll have to have a mamadate again. I look forward to it. I missed the closeness with my little big girl.

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