25 July 2017

GUEST POST // HOW DEAFNESS AFFECTS ME


In this guest post I have my better half, Ben who is going bare all and talk about his struggles with accepting his deafness and the worries he has for our kids.


Hi,

I'm Ben, Georgina's husband to be, Eloise and Lily's Dad, a deaf human and official guest poster.

I have Bilateral Sensorineural Deafness (you're probably wondering what the hell that is, right? Even the spell checker doesn't have a clue. I explain it better in the video below). So, with being a deaf person myself, and Georgina being a hearing person, that gives our children a 50/50 chance of being deaf. Wonderful odds. My Mother is hearing, my Father is deaf, and his Father deaf also. So that means that there’s a good chance that my kids are going to be deaf. Right?


Lily appears to be hearing, I say appears because sometimes we’ll tell her to stop doing something and she’ll just look at us with a cheeky smile then carry on, so I’m unsure if she’s just a dick or if she just can’t hear much. The morning after the birth, she had her hearing testing with a little device, all was good apparently.


We then had to get Lily’s hearing checked out properly a few weeks after the birth, but I don’t remember much about it because I was too busy worrying that she could be deaf. All I’m thinking is crap like, “Shit, she’s going to get bullied in school, she’ll struggle to hear things and she’ll feel like her social life will be crumbling around her just because she can’t hear her friends” Then I started worrying about her pulling her hearing aids out if they gave them to her at such a young age, then I started worrying about the batteries, then then trips to the hospital to keep getting checked. All stuff I had to go through.


I recall being told by some Doctors during Georgina's pregnancy that deafness can have patterns, and as it happens there seems to be a pattern regarding the men on my Dad’s side. As already stated, my Father is deaf, my Grandad was deaf, my Uncle is...well I believe he struggles to hear sometimes but he just plays it off. Either way, my Grandad and myself are the ones with the worst deafness in that we’re “Severely” deaf, whereas my Father is just “Moderately”.


Lily isn’t talking much, she says, duck, cat, hiya in context, but she isn’t really developing much in that aspect, but she does understand certain things we say and seems to respond fine. So why am I still worried?

I wasn’t diagnosed with deafness until I was 4. I don’t know how that happened, but I feel like maybe my parents went through the same thing Georgina and I are going through now. Maybe I acted fine and seemed okay, but maybe I was in fact responding to actions, facial cues, and what little pitches (Without hearing aids in I can hear some dull or high pitches) I could hear. Maybe this is what Lily is doing?


Maybe Lily is lucky and doesn't suffer with deafness, and I say “lucky” because, it sucks. Constantly having to think about if your batteries are running low, then wondering if you have any stored away. Struggling to hear new people's speech because your brain isn’t accustomed to their voice and then worrying that you’re coming across as really ignorant. Worrying that your hearing aids are going to get wet, dropped, or hit by something and then damaged, then having to get new ones, while struggling to function without hearing until you do get new ones, because the NHS only allow you to have the aids you’re using, then they take the old ones, and send them off to be scrapped or refurbished.


I mishear things, I struggle to follow lengthy conversations, I hang up on phone calls when the person on the other end sounds like they’re getting annoyed with having to repeat something, I groan when the heat makes me sweat and that sweat goes into the microphone and makes everything sound muffled. I hate panicking that I’m not going to understand anything my kids say to me and they’ll just decide to stop talking to me because it would involve them repeating themselves an annoying amount of times.


As a kid it’s quite restricting, imagine being invited to a friends house to go and play in the garden on a hot day, the sun’s out, sweat drips onto the aids and renders you completely deaf until you fix it, then they start to play with those super cool water guns and then your mates Dad brings out a fucking amazing 7ft inflatable pool and you can’t join in with because you don’t feel comfortable taking your hearing aids out being unable to hear everyone, so you just sit and watch. While I could do most things other kids were doing, there were also moments of uncomfortableness where certain activities could have led to damage or awkward moments where I’d not understand instructions given so I’d do everything wrong. But then if I chose to sit out of things I’d be teased for not taking part, then eventually everyone just forgets about you and doesn’t involve you at all.



My Mum told me that when I first got hearing aids, the first things I was surprised about hearing was the sound of the toilet upstairs flushing, the sound of the freezer humming, and the birds when we went on a walk. I apparently had a huge strop about wearing them, but then, most kids don’t like having random things being stuck into their ears, so that was understandable, but apparently after hearing those sounds I started to enjoy them more. Throughout school I struggled to follow lessons, and was even given a type of device where I wear tiny speakers that attach to my hearing aids, and the teacher wears a clip on microphone. It was handy, but I felt uncomfortable to the point that when I started high school I requested that I stopped using it because I “didn’t need it” but really I felt like a freak amongst all the other students.


To this day I still force myself to struggle because I don’t feel comfortable enough to acknowledge my deafness. If sounds are really loud, I won’t turn the device down, if my mould gets clogged with wax sometimes, I won’t take it out and clear it, I’ll either suffer until I get home or find a bathroom and sit in a cubicle. I won’t change my batteries in public. I feel like I have to act normal to feel normal, and then I’ll be there thinking, “ahh fuck what people think.” and carry on hiding my disability anyway. I'm worried that might happen with our kids, and it’s disheartening.


I don’t want Lily, or any of our future kids to have to go through everything I have had to over the years, but if they do end up being deaf I’ll support them just as much as I’ll support our hearing kids. If they struggle, I’ll help, if they’re bullied, I’ll bring hell upon the bullies, I’ll mould them all to stand up against the dicks of the world, and I’ll teach them to be who they are and be brave and do what they want. Yes, I’m scared that our children could end up deaf, but not because of the deafness itself, but because of other people, they might be bullied, they might be treated different they might get scared, they might struggle. That's what worries me.

I recently filmed an updated version of my "What is Deafness?" video on YouTube, check it out!





Ben, Georgina's husband to be, Eloise and Lily's Dad, a deaf human and official guest poster



Find Ben here:

Twitter | YouTube | Facebook | Instagram


For more information and support surrounding childhood deafness please visit the National Deaf Children's Society.




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23 July 2017

THE SUNDAY POST // END OF TERM & MENTAL HEALTH RAMBLINGS


Beginning of Y1        |        Beginning of Y2        |         End of Y2

This week marks the end of the school year and the end of year 2 for Eloise. She is officially no longer an infant and will be returning as a junior. I've always been one of those Mums who is a complete and total annoying wreck who goes on and on about how they "can't believe how grown up *insert kids name here* looks" but - I can't believe how grown up she looks! I'm feeling very old and a little bit sad that she's growing up in some sort of fast forward world but I'm also sooooo thankful that there are NO FUCKING SCHOOL RUNS FOR 6 WEEKS!!! I've been looking forward to that for a year. No alarms, no non stop loops of "have you brushed your teeth?" "get your uniform on please" "get your uniform on NOW" "please don't spit tooth paste on the mirror" "have you got your drink in your bag?" "go and put your drink in your bag" and "HURRY UP FOR THE LOVE OF GOD" ... you get the idea. I may just record my voice saying all that shit and play it 600 times in the morning next term. Would save me a lot of effort.

For teacher gifts I went all out Pinterest Mum and actually, this seemed like less effort than going shopping and trying to figure out what kind of wine and chocolates Eloise's teacher likes. If I was a teacher I'd love something like this although I do have very strange taste when it comes to preferred gifts but hopefully she didn't hate it! Pretty proud of this actually, I did the lettering and got Eloise to draw her teacher in pencil which I then went over in pen and painted with watercolours. I also made Eloise a cute little packed lunch for the last day of term so I felt like I actually had my shit together for the most part of that day.


Other stuff wise I've been struggling with my mental health which has been very up and down the past couple of months, everything kind of happened at the wrong time (not that there is a right time for people to be assholes). I had just been discharged from MH care because I missed an appointment so was feeling pretty fragile anyway because I've been in some sort of MH care since CAMHS and I don't know, maybe I just stunk of vulnerability, but yeh, it's really set me back again.

Saying that, the last couple of days I've been really productive and felt so much better than I have in weeks, I've cooked from scratch 2 days running, I've filmed 2 videos, 4 if you count Ben's vlog and the colab we did together. I've edited and added subtitles to one and nearly finished a rough cut of the second along with a few blog posts but today I feel like I've crashed again and just feel low.

My wrist is also fucked and typing with a splint on is hard as balls. Hypermobility Syndrome, for those who haven't got it or have no idea what it is, is a chronic illness which comes with a nice slice of chronic pain. My body is always in some degree of pain. Always. It feels like walking on Lego on a loop. Everyday. Except your foot is your entire body and the Lego doesn't exist. I guess I'm just feeling shit that I can't do anything without my body deciding to dish out a hearty portion of pain whenever I do anything and if it's not that it's people trying to screw me emotionally/mentally/whatever.

I'm really struggling with breastfeeding at the moment, the aversion is always worse when I'm feeling shit and I'm just generally feeling like I'm failing Lily because I managed it better with Eloise. I realise that is totally fucking ridiculous to think that but when you've had someone pick at every little thing you do parenting wise and everywhere you look people are being judgemental about fucking something it generally makes you question everything and feel all levels of shit. Maybe I need thicker skin, I don't know. Maybe people should just stop being dicks to everyone. Why is it so hard to just be nice? Jesus...

I just hope I can look back on this soon and feel like I'm finally above the water. I've been re referred to a different mental health service so I feel like I have my safety net back and we are currently trying to introduce a bottle of formula to cut down the breastfeeds so there's that. And without jinxing it, Lily has slept two 7 hour stretches this last week and although I feel more tired today, it's been nice. She still hasn't fallen asleep before 11pm but eh, swings and roundabouts.


Me and my beautiful Eloise

On another note, my sister has started a blog about being a Dog Mum. Think baby blog but instead of babies she has dogs. She also has a YouTube with cute videos of the said dogs, Maddy and Winston. She is also Mum to various tarantulas (yeh you read that right), a cat (who is called James who quite possibly possessed) and probably other creatures I've forgotten about because there have been so many. It's like a fucking zoo at her house. Check her stuff out to see cute dog faces.

Other awesome bloggers you should check out are Zoe @ Mummy & Liss and Becca @ My Girls And Me. These two are complete babes and you should totally check them out.




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22 July 2017

REVIEW // KIDDYLICIOUS MINI COCONUT ROLLS


These Mini Coconut Rolls are one of the latest offerings from Kiddylicious. Lily is a huge fan of their snacks already -Her favourites being the Veggie Straws, Cheesy Straws, and Wafers (which she was lucky enough to win a HUGE box of!).

These are little rolls of light, crispy wafer, about 2cm long so perfect for practising pincer gripping. I do actually crush them a bit for Lily because she has a tendency to shove massive handfuls in her mouth and terrify me to death. They're made with real coconut milk and are also dairy free, gluten free and come individually packed with 4 rolls in each packet, perfect to chuck into the changing bag as an emergency tantrum distracter and/or bribery.

They're also bloody nice dipped in Nutella. You're welcome.


They're suitable form 12 months and cost £2.50 for a pack of 8.




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21 July 2017

PREGNANCY // MY EXPERIENCE WITH INTRAUTERINE GROWTH RESTRICTION


IUGR stands for Intrauterine Growth Restriction which basically means that the unborn baby is not growing at a normal rate and is considerably smaller than average for a particular gestational age. Not all small babies have IUGR though. The difference between low birth weight and IUGR is that the latter puts the baby at risk of various health issues during pregnancy, labour and also after birth.

It can be caused by a number of different things, the placenta not working the way it should, birth defects, smoking and drinking in pregnancy or if you are like me, for no apparent reason whatsoever. My placenta was fine, I didn't smoke or drink, my blood pressure was fine, my weight was within the normal range, I guess I just drew the shitty straw.

Both my two were born via induction at 38 weeks and weighed under 6lbs. My first, Eloise, weighed 5lbs 13oz at 38 weeks exactly and my second, Lily, weighed 5lbs 7.5oz at 38+2 weeks both dropping down to 5lbs 1oz within the first few days.


My first pregnancy was pretty normal, I measured small at about 34 weeks and was sent for a scan but everything showed Eloise was the right weight for her gestation and was currently sitting at about 6lbs. She ended up being born via induction 4 weeks later at 5lbs 13oz so either she hadn't grown at all the last few weeks or the scan was wrong. She was born with a heart murmur, whether this was due to her size I don't know but she was healthy in every other way.

My second pregnancy was very, very different. I was considered high risk and was consultant led anyway because I had retained placenta after my first birth and my initial thoughts were it would be a quick appointment with them explaining some measures to help avoid that happening again and that would be that. I was wrong, obviously.

I was about 26 weeks I think when I had my first consultant appointment, it was a ridiculous amount of weeks late because I kept having to cancel for various reasons but I eventually got there. Everything was okay, they discussed how the risk of having retained placenta again wasn't significant and to try not to worry. The consultant also mentioned about previous low birth weight, I had been told at the time that there were not really any concerns about Eloise's weight but apparently not. Anyway, they decided to measure my bump which had not long been measure by my community midwife who found it to be slightly on the small side but I was small anyway so she wasn't concerned. Turns out I was measuring nearly 6 weeks behind. After a scan referral it was discovered that my baby had IUGR.


From that appointment on my pregnancy consisted of bi weekly CTGs, fortnightly growth scans, weekly fluid level and cord flow scans, steroid injections and various emergency CTGs and scans dotted in between. I was told to prepare for my baby needing to be delivered at any point from now. During this time is when I really began to appreciate the doctors and midwives who were absolutely fantastic, every single one of them. I cannot fault any of them and they were forever reassuring me and making me feel so at ease. It was decided that I would be induced at around the 36 week mark if baby stayed in that long and everything was going well.


Carrying an IUGR baby is incredibly nerve wracking and exhausting. I found myself envying other Mums to be who could enjoy their pregnancy and spend more than 2 days without going to the hospital or those who can go into labour naturally. It was worrying about how premature your baby is going to be and whether you will be able to hold them after they've been born or if they are going to need to be taken to the NICU. It's a whole truck tonne of unknowns with another truck tonne of worry added on. It's buying every sized premature sleep suit because you just don't know how small they're going to be and packing your hospital bag in the second trimester because you just don't know when they're going to be born. It's googling every possible outcome and panicking about their movements. It's so many CTGs that you lose count and being injected with steroids to mature your babies lungs to give them the best chance at living. It's about wondering if they're going to survive.

Luckily, with today's science and second to none medical care the success rate for IUGR babies is incredibly high and many of these babies are born with no lasting consequences whatsoever.

Every scan I went to, which ended up being close to 20, there was always the thought at the back of your mind that this could be the last scan and they could be sending you to be induced later that day if baby hadn't grown or the fluid levels or cord flow were off.


Lily Rose was born on the 21st January 2016 at 17:29 at 38+2 weighing 5lbs 7.5oz with an Apgar of 9. She had her blood sugar checked as standard for low birth weight babies and despite her first outfit including a dolls cardigan, she needed no neonatal care and we were home 12 hours later. She did end up suffering with prolonged jaundice but other than that she was perfect and STRONG. She was holding her head up at 2 weeks and was walking by 9 months despite being the size of a 6 month old and is so far considered advanced with her fine and gross motor skills. Other things she hasn't progressed much with especially her speech so we are waiting on another hearing test and an appointment with a speech and language therapist but aside from that she is meeting all of her milestones and doing everything she should be.

 Read my birth story here and watch my labour/birth vlog here.


Though she be little, she is fierce 
-William Shakespeare



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