Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Unsung Heros # 1

Surely this must be the hardest working female in TV land, A unmarried mother to two small children, who works tirelessly for her local community, she volunteers for the local fire station and is always seen mucking in at any school event, from running the tombola stall and face painting at the fete to driving the school mini bus on day trips. She can also whip up a dinosaur themed birthday cake for the son of her good friend at a moment’s notice.

Whilst other mummies are afforded the choice to stay at home and tinker around on their computers (blogging probably), our heroines domestic arrangements seem to have made working a necessity. Her career choices have ranged from running a shoe shop, an ice cream stall and a recycling plant to working at the museum and on a supermarket checkout, interspersed with brief stints as a dental nurse, a librarian and a train driver. She also occasionally hands out ice skates at the local park in the winter months, when she has a bit of spare time. It must take her forever to update her CV.

All this and her children are beautifully behaved, her house spotless and her garden full of lovely home grown produce, if not somewhat biased towards one certain vegetable. Oh and did I mention she can also fly a hot air balloon and a helicopter?

OK so she’s a fictitious character but a good example to us all. Let’s hear it for the awesome Miss Rabbit!*

What? Where you expecting someone more high brow? Well maybe in a few years time when I am allowed to watch something other than Peppa Pig on the TV.

*I was hoping to get a much better picture of the wonderful Miss Rabbit but it seems that she is a tad internet shy, unlike the other ladies *ahem* who also go by the name 'Miss Rabbit'!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Why I Love Winter

So it’s finally happened and the temperatures have dropped. It’s taken for ever this year I’m sure, although we had a slow start to the summer with a fairly tepid May so I guess it’s just making up for it by dragging its feet so long into October. Anyway, it pleases me. A lot. I am not ashamed to say it but I lurve winter. Some people get SAD, not me, well not in Spain anyway, let me explain why for me winter really is the season to be jolly.

Firstly and maybe a little bit vainly is my wardrobe. I hate my summer clothes, in fact I hate all summer clothes. Every year I go out and spend a small fortune on things that I think will make me look nice, they don’t. Ever! Summer clothes are for size 8 fillies who are probably no more than 19. Floaty dresses and flat strappy sandals look great on just a token blessed few, the rest of us, well mainly me, look appalling. Winter, ah bless its cotton socks, lets me cover up. I can get away with wearing a mini, teamed with thick woolly tights and Uggs, it’s OK, no footballer’s calves on display in all their white hideous glory. Higher necked tees and blouses can be worn, hiding my crepey tomato-red tanned (?) skin. Dressing up is great, lovely dresses, nice tights and a pair of sexy knee high boots with killer heels, always good to get in t’husbands good books.

Next come cosmetics and the very fact that I can wear them again, in summer, forget them! No sooner have you applied just a smidgeon of mascara and the scorching heat will have made you sweat a couple of litres, mascara? What mascara? You can forget anything like concealer or foundation to even out your skin tone. You’ll have barely left the bathroom before it’s all just a puddle under your chin. So yay for cooler climes, and me looking slightly more easy on the eye. Only slightly mind!

Food comes next on my list. For a start I can now eat soup again. Have you ever tried eating soup for lunch when it’s 35ยบ outside? No? Well let me tell you it’s not a pleasant experience, you feel like you are seconds away from spontaneously combusting. Actually whilst on the subject of hot liquids, to those who say to drink tea when it’s hot to quench your thirst I have but one word to respond to you with – bollocks! There, been meaning to put that out there for a while, feels good!

More food lovelies include not having to buy and eat leaves for a few months, by that I mean any form of lettuce. I’m not a fan of a salad and only have them because a) they are supposed to be good for you and b) it’s too hot to eat soup. Throw in gorgeous comforting winter dishes like toad in the hole, stews, pies, Sunday roasts and well actually anything with gravy (northern girls love gravy) and you have to agree that summer food is pants and that winter food rocks.

Winter is the time for all us expats to get together and have a whale of a time on a more regular basis. Most of summer is taken up with entertaining our many visiting families and friends taking good advantage of an almost free holiday. Strangely not that many people want to visit you in November or January, cannot for the life of me understand why… So winter is the time that you get to really spend quality time with your expat friends who seem to get a bit neglected during the warmer months.

Last but no means least is sleep. It is so much nicer to snuggle down under your big thick winter duvet and get a bit cuddly with t’husband than to be sweating bricks under a thin sheet, trying desperately not to get anywhere near the very same t’husband for fear of sticking to him. I’m not sure if anyone has done a survey on it, maybe I should, but I suspect that more couples are getting jiggy with it in winter than summer over here.

So there you are dear reader, a compelling, I feel, argument as to why winter is the best season. Feel free to agree or disagree.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Writing Workshop - Mummy's Bathroom Rules…

I've been needing some inspiration for my blog so thank you to Josie at Sleep is for the weak for setting up her Writing Workshop. I have gone with the House Rules, but I thought I'd be here all day writing them so I've just dealt with the bathroom for now.

Mummy's Bathroom Rules

1. Pants and trousers are to be pulled down in the bathroom before piddling and not in the kitchen or dining room.

2. Toilet seats are to be raised when piddling.

3. Piddling must be directed into the toilet bowl

4. Toilets are to be flushed after piddling.

5. Hands are to be washed after piddling.

6. Only a small squirt of soap is needed to wash hands.

7. Taps are to be turned off after washing hands.

8. The towel is to be replaced on the towel holder (the silver thing attached to the wall, right next to the sink) and not put on the floor.

9. Poos are supposed to be done in the toilet, if you insist on doing them in your night time nappy (which I will overlook for the time being) then you must tell Mummy or Daddy that you have done a poo and do not try and attempt to change your own nappy.

10. If you do attempt to change your own nappy do not use a whole packet of wipes.

11. Wipes are to be disposed of in the bin and not your toy box.

12. Poo is not blu-tac! (Post coming soon to explain this further).

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Moving on...

I want to thank everybody that has taken the time to read my recent blog posts and especially those who have sent such kind and supportive messages. It really has meant a lot to me. I feel now that I have done enough thinking, drinking, googling and licking of wounds and am ready to start facing the world again.

Al and I had a long chat last night about where we go from here. We’ve decided that we will try again for a baby in the New Year, provided that my appointment in November with the gynaecologist doesn’t flag up any major problems. Statistics have been noted and depending on which site I’ve read we’ve got anything between a 60% and 72% chance of going on to have a healthy pregnancy. I’ve always been a bit of a gambler so it seems a no brainer to me to try again with those odds. But, it will be the last time whatever the outcome.

We talked at length last night about our rotten luck this year, not just with the miscarriages. T’husband runs a fishing guide business on the River Ebro out here, the recession has obviously hit us as it undoubtedly has most small businesses but coupled with the collapse of the pound against the euro we have had to reduce our prices just to try and get customers interested. This has worked and we have been busy, but at a cost. The cost of living in Spain has increased dramatically in the last couple of years so we have really felt the pinch financially. Oh and the fishing has been crap due to the ever-changing evolution of the river and Spanish bureaucracy working at it's optimum best.

Whilst Al was bemoaning our shitty year it suddenly occurred to me that we have many, many reasons to be thankful. We have a very strong and solid marriage, we have a beautiful happy and healthy son who has brought us more joy than we could have ever imagined, mortgage aside we have no debt, in fact we do have some money stashed away in England, not brilliant with the current crap exchange rate but it’s there if we really need it, not many folk can say that. Indeed even this very week of sadness and tears some very nice things and some incredibly funny things have happened, hopefully I will get my arse into gear and write a post about them.

I have a little motto for life, it’s much used but always seems to do the trick …

Onwards and upwards!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

3 Days of Hell

I feel I need to write this because I am already forgetting so much. I've tried to write this as it happened, without emotion. That side of things is still on going and I don't think I could probably put it into words quite as easily. I wasn't sure whether to write it or not, especially as at the moment there is a carnival devoted to 'bad things about pregnancy' clearly this is not quite the take on the subject that was required.

Day 1

This year is my 37th year on the planet. I think probably, all things considered it's a contender for my worst year ever. I had my first miscarriage in May, just a couple of days shy of 12 weeks and my first scan appointment.

I picked up the pieces and carried on with life, we decided that we would wait until September to try again, my husband’s work is very seasonal and we kind of needed to avoid giving birth in the May/June period if possible, despite my having a good working knowledge of my cycle and when I was ovulating we managed somehow, despite only having sex once that month to get pregnant in July, two months after my miscarriage.

Fast forward 7 weeks and my first scan, I am stupidly nervous, so much so I wrote a blog post about it. The appointment was for 10.30am, I arrive in town ridiculously early at 9.45 and then take the slowest walk I can muster along the river into town. I have to stop a couple of times to take in the scenery to kill some time and still manage to poll up at 10.00am sharp. I am lucky there is no one else in the chairs outside Dr Valesquez’s room. I’ve barely got uncomfortable in my seat when a nurse pops her head around the door to see who’s next. She looks vaguely surprised at the lack of clients and asks me my name, she seems non-plussed about the fact that I am early and invites me in.

I am immediately put on the back foot when asked to undress from the waist down to see that the implement for a vaginal scan is being oiled, I am 11 weeks so I thought that I would have the usual scan… obviously not… It’s OK though and within a couple of seconds I see my uterus on the screen, a dark black mass, Dr V points to it. He wiggles the stick (I should get to know what it’s called) about a bit and hey presto an image suddenly appears. My baby! I know almost instantly that it’s not good. It’s not moving! And I don’t need to spend 7+ years studying medicine to see that there is no heartbeat. Dr V being thorough needs a few minutes to tell me in a mixture of fast Spanish, poor English and sign language that there is no heartbeat, whilst efficiently printing out pictures. He tells me (or so I decipher…) that the foetus had died between 3 & 5 days ago, it wasn’t my fault blah de blah…

He motions for me to get dressed and he and the nurse then make a bloody meal out of trying to phone the relevant department at the hospital, all the while the nurse is giving me one of those looks! The look that I soon become to despise. The pity look, sometimes accompanied by sympathetically raised eyebrows and in the worse cases by someone who really cares, with tears in their eyes. Whilst the farce of phone calls is going on I am staring vacantly, trying to take it all in, numb! I realise that I am staring at the desk and at the printed scan picture of my dead child, he/she looks perfect, looks like I would expect it to, on the scan you can’t tell that the heart isn’t beating. Why is this picture in front of me? I look away and meet the eyes of the nurse who is trying to busy herself looking for the correct telephone number to dial, another one of those looks… my eyes fill and I have to look away, I'm not sure if I can hold it together there.

I get sent away with a note for the labour ward and advice that if I bleed tonight to go straight to hospital otherwise turn up in the morning with this piece of paper and I will be dealt with accordingly. ‘Lo siento’ (I’m sorry) he says to me as a parting gesture. It’s worse than the nurses withering look, because it means nothing.

Day 2

After a fretful night we drop Joseph off at school and head off to the hospital. The last time I had been taken in by ambulance as an emergency, being very much in the throes of a full on miscarriage, this time as it was a missed miscarriage I was aware that it would have to be stage managed. I hoped that they would take me down as early as possible and give me a D&C and I could maybe, fingers crossed, go home that night.

After some confusion at the reception we are directed to ‘Urgencies’ or A & E to us Brits, we only waited about 10 minutes until we were directed up to the labour ward. We then spent an hour and a half sat on very hard chairs watching very pregnant ladies come and go. Some were obviously in for planned C-sections others I couldn’t say, maybe routine testing, certainly no-one looked like they were in labour. We were getting twitchy about the time, Joseph finished school at 12 and we were a good 20 minutes away, finally we agreed that at 11.15 my husband should go and fetch Joseph. At ten past eleven I was called through so kissed him goodbye and took a deep breath, no menfolk were allowed past this point anyway so there was no point in him staying. I was inspected and my situation confirmed but told that there were no beds available. Not for at least 2 hours, more likely 3! Great, having sent my husband away not ten minutes ago I now had to ring him to tell him to come back after collecting Joseph from School to take me home. An hour at home had to be better than 3 hours hanging around the hospital.

I had been informed that I would be having pessaries to bring on the bleeding and if that didn’t work then ‘intervention’ would be carried out. I spent the hour I had at home scouring the internet for information on pessaries and found nothing informative although a brave look at my scan picture told me that the baby was 9+1 - so much for dying 3-5 days ago! We made our way back to the hospital, my husband dropping me off and then having to double back to take Joseph back to School.

It was 15.45 when I was seen again by the duty midwives, I was given a pessary (3 tablets) and told that I wasn’t to move for 2 hours, they would assess me at 22.00 and again at 06.00.

So onto a ward, I am sure this isn’t unique to Spain but why the hell do they put miscarrying women on the same ward as new mothers. OK, they aren’t as hard-faced as to actually make you share a room with a new born but they are not that far away. The rooms are two bedded and one curtained. The curtain divide being across ¾ of the room but not around the bed. My room mate, I deduced had given birth prematurely as her baby was not around and she seemed to be spending a lot of time out of the room, probably with her baby. She had a lot of visitors. Which was great… for her! Not so much for me.

I was now feeling the effects of my pessaries but was now bed-bound, trying desperately to eat the truly awful hospital food I’d been served up in front of an audience of, at one point, 10 people. I send a text to Al which reads.. “I am officially in hell, woman in next bed has over 10 people crowded around her bed (and mine), about 17 visitors so far, all of the fuckwits leaving the door open so I get a nice view of the newborns opposite. Can’t even eat my bastard soup ‘cos they haven’t given me a bleeding spoon! Heavily bleeding right now, just what I need with a mass audience.”

Day 3

It’s close enough to midnight to call it the 3rd day. I am taken back down to the labour ward and my progress is monitored. Despite heavy bleeding and some very uncomfortable help with disposal of ‘waste’ I am given another 2 pessaries. ‘No comes ahora, para ocho horas’ I am told… no eating for 8 hours, OK, not hard really given that it’s practically midnight and there isn’t a plethora of takeaway establishments nearby, I get wheeled back to my room and I have a very disturbed nights sleep.

So, 8 hours come and go, I wasn’t daft enough to think that someone would see me at 8am, or even for that matter 10am. At 11.00am I am taken back up to the 2nd floor again for an examination to see how the overnight pessaries went. As expected, it wasn’t good so the need for a D&C was rather crudely mimed for me by the doctor in charge by a vacuuming noise and an accompanying hand movement. ‘You go to sleep and we shhhhhcuuuupppp’ I believe were his exact words!

12.15pm comes and so does a nurse with a fetching nightie, (one that I am later to find that I am supposed to do up at the back, being one handed due to the drip in my hand I do it up at the front) and a green hair net, not long now. I am a little relieved, surely if I have the op early then I could go home tonight. I text my husband to say don’t come to visit yet, I’m being taken down…

When will I learn? The hours and half hours float by so slowly and eventually at 17.15pm the porter arrives for me, typical! I have spent all day alone because of Joseph’s school hours and the minute he’s free to come and visit I get taken away. Never mind, I comfort myself, last time I was only out for an hour and then back on the ward, I’ll be able to see him later. One of the midwives catches me mid journey, just outside the lifts, she pinches my cheek affectionately and says ‘guapa chiquita’ (pretty little girl) I feel about 4 years old.

I find it really hard to write about the next half hour, I am still so angry.

There seems to be a lot of green masked people, thinking back there were probably about 7 or so, my nightie was on the wrong way, there was much talking between them all and I remember one of the nurses shouting at the surgeon to speak ‘Castillan’ instead of Catalan to me. I thought I was going to be put to sleep so I wasn’t too concerned but they just kept fussing. Then they made me sit up, OH SHIT! They were giving me a spinal block. Can I just say that my epidural with Joseph – never felt a thing! Spinal block – Oh my lord! The shock of it at first, then the anaesthetist kept saying 'left' or 'right' meaning I assume which leg would go numb, I swear my left leg got it twice and I never felt it in my right. Why did they do a local for such a procedure? I have never been so terrified in my life! My only saving grace was the needle in my hand. The nurse who put it in made such a bad job of it that every time they attached me to a new drip or painkillers it hurt like crazy. They decided to play around with it whilst I was in theatre, it hurt like mad but I could have kissed them all because they at the very least gave me a distraction from what else was going on.

Pretty much by the time the nurses had stopped fannying around with my drip the doctor informed me ‘esta’ (that’s it). I was then wheeled over to a recovery bay to wait for my elephant legs to return to normal. Clearly my legs don’t respond too well to spinal blocks because two c-section women were brought in and their babies delivered in the time I was willing my legs to start working again. All the time watching the clock tick through from OK visiting hours for Joseph to his bedtime and way beyond…

I finally got discharged from hospital at 11.45am Saturday morning, having spent more time in there then when I had actually given birth at the same hospital 3 years earlier.

Oh and it seems almost petty to complain about this, but my right heel now has an acute stabbing pain in it, a side effect from the Spinal block surely?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


Thank you for all your kind messages and positive thoughts. Sadly it is not good news. There was no heartbeat. I can't write any more today.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Fear

Firstly I guess I need to make apologies. I have been completely neglecting my blog recently, I haven’t made a post at all this October, OK I know it’s only the 6th, but still very shoddy on my part.

I have been hit big time with pregnancy tiredness. My mornings seem to be filled up with work or endless running about trying to get stuff done before the siesta kicks in, then I can barely function at all in the afternoons because I am so dog gone. This afternoon isn’t so bad because I’ve managed to sneak in a bit of a catnap on the settee whilst Joseph watched back to back episodes of Peppa Pig in his lunch break. My poor neglected boy! Evenings are pretty much over by the time t’husband is home from work and the dinner has been eaten and cleaned up after. I can just about make it through Masterchef – the professionals before fatigue wins and then begins the nightly routine of having to get up to pee every hour and then laying awake most of the night with my mind racing.

Tomorrow is the day, I hope, that my mind stops racing. Tomorrow is the day that fingers crossed all my worst fears are dissolved and I can start to relax and enjoy my pregnancy. Tomorrow is my first scan and to put it mildly I am shitting myself.

I had a miscarriage back in May at 12 weeks, I am 11 weeks now so the fear of history repeating itself is almost unbearable. I try my hardest not to think about it, having a miscarriage and indeed being pregnant at all, like denial is somehow going to help me if it all goes wrong, it won’t of course, I don’t really know why I think it will. My fear, sorry I should say ‘our’ fear was made much worse a couple of weeks ago when I went to the toilet before bed and saw blood. Bright red blood. I lay in the dark shaking and crying and clinging onto Al, neither of us being the most optimistic people in the world we were expecting Mother Nature to take her cruel course in the morning.

Morning came but no more blood, there was no more bleeding at all that day or the next so we decided that we would wait until my midwife appointment in a few days and speak to her about it rather than go to the hospital. It felt different this time, I still had all the pregnancy signs in fact some were getting stronger whereas last time they all stopped once the bleeding began. The Midwife seemed relatively unconcerned but told us to go directly to hospital if there was any more blood. Oh and not to have sex for a couple of weeks, poor t’husband!

So here we are, less than 19 hours to go before I find out whether all is well or not. Sadly due to Al’s work commitments I have to go on my own, a part of me is relieved about this, if it’s bad news then I can absorb it all without worrying about Al, if only for a short while. Obviously I would rather him be there with me, especially if we are worrying for nothing and the scan reveals his son or daughter bobbing around, heart beating and growing by the day.

So keep your fingers crossed and send me some positive vibes and thoughts, I really, really need them. xx