Categories
Pregnancy Waiting

Failed Blood Tests (7 and a half-ish weeks)

This is a post about the sixth image from my series Waiting For Things In A Time When You Rarely Wait For Things where I documented my pregnancy from October 2019 to June 2020.

I haven’t posted about this project since July. I was just having a morning stretch and thought I should post about it again – even if they’re just short posts. Before I was making my life difficult by digging through outtakes, so I’m just going to focus on the photo/s that I chose for each set of hashtags.

So here we go…

Photo of my body. Arm has a plaster on it from a blood test
Failed Blood Tests (7 and a half-ish weeks)
 
#SoTheyTriedToTakeMyBloodAndFailed
#ProbablyBecauseItWas10amAndIHadNotEatenYet
#AsIHadBeenSickThatMorningAndItPutMeOff
#ItSeemsSoEarlyToBeTalkingAboutOptions
#WhereIWantToGiveBirthWhenItSeemsSoEarlyAndIDoNotKnowTheFullFacts
#TheMidwifeMentionedAHomeBirth
#ILikeTheIdeaOfItButImmediatelyIJustThoughtAboutTheNeighboursAndWhatTheyWouldThink
#LivingInAFlatWithNeighboursOnMostSidesAndUpAndDownDoesNotMakeItSoAppealing
#ButIDoNotHearMuchFromThem
#ApartFromOneNeighbourWhoCoughsLoudly
#AndOnceICouldHearOneVomitingThroughTheVents
#WhichIsWhatIWorriedThisMorningWhenIWasBeingSick
#TIsWorriedAboutTheRisksOfHomeBirth
#SoINeedToFindHimSomeInfo
#OtherPeopleHaveExpressedTheirDisapproval
#WhichUpsetsMe
#AsItIsSoEarlyAndItIsNotSetInStoneYet
#ButThatIsMyPersonalPreference
#AndIAmTheOneGivingBirth
#AndIWantToFeelAsRelaxedAndComfortableAsPossibleToDoTheJobThatPeopleHaveBeenDoingForThousandsOfYears
#AsICanNotBeBotheredWithBeingSuperStressedOut
#LikeISaidMyMainConcernIsTheNeighbours
#SoLetUsHopeForAShortLabourThatIsMidDayAndNotMidNight
#ButItMightNotHappen
#MaybeIWillGoToTheHospitalOrABirthingCentre
#ABirthingPoolIsAllIReallyWant
#AsIWillNotGetASummerHolidaySoICanPretendIAmInTheSeaWhichIsWhereIFeelMostAtPeace
#FingersCrossedThatAllGoesWellFromHere
#ItAllSeemsTooEarlyButTodayMadeThingsABitMoreReal
#IDoNotKnowHowIGotTheScratchOnMyBelly

So I took this photo in November when there wasn’t even a whiff of pandemic in the air (ooh so poetic).

I really do not know how I got that scratch; I’m guessing it was a rogue fingernail.

The photo is cropped and rotated – I don’t like having to crop my work for some reason, but too much boob felt unnecessary. I do like that the picture is a little abstract.

#SoTheyTriedToTakeMyBloodAndFailed
#ProbablyBecauseItWas10amAndIHadNotEatenYet #AsIHadBeenSickThatMorningAndItPutMeOff

Typically it was the first day that I had actually been sick. Later on I would realise that eating a little bit when I felt sick would make me feel better, but at this point I did not know that.

Afterwards before every blood test I would make sure that I drank plenty and ate something. Usually my appointments would be in the morning so I would have less time to eat, and I went off a lot of food so I’d at least try to eat something that I could tolerate (usually some light crisps – like the oven baked ones).

#ItSeemsSoEarlyToBeTalkingAboutOptions
#WhereIWantToGiveBirthWhenItSeemsSoEarlyAndIDoNotKnowTheFullFacts
#TheMidwifeMentionedAHomeBirth

Back then there were more options, but it did seem super early. I remember calling the hospital when I found out I was pregnant and they were like ‘so you’re having the baby here?’ I did not know what my options were; I hadn’t researched or talked to anyone about them yet.

I did read ‘Give Birth Like A Feminist’ by Milli Hill when we were trying to get pregnant, which is when home births first became an idea in my mind.

Then I was surprised at my first midwife appointment that when she asked where I wanted to give birth that she said ‘at home?’ first. She said she had never registered someone for a home birth before. I thought maybe I should think about it more as she straight away referred me to the home birth team, but she did say I could change my mind.

I really wanted one, but I was worried about the neighbours in case the birth was during the night…

#TIsWorriedAboutTheRisksOfHomeBirth
#SoINeedToFindHimSomeInfo

I told T and he wasn’t very enthusiastic about the idea. Back then he was very much ‘you go to hospital and you do what the doctors say as they know best’. Luckily, we did an online hypnobirthing course together and he completely changed his mindset.

Now if he finds out that anyone is pregnant he really recommends the course to them; he says it made him feel empowered (so imagine how it made me feel). There is so much that we never knew about pregnancy before doing the course and it just explained things in a way that made things less daunting. T always says that ‘knowledge is power’ and with the knowledge you know how to advocate for yourself.

In the end I never got a home birth, but the course definitely empowered me to say no to a c-section (if I had needed one then fair enough, but I didn’t) and to ask for a vaginal delivery. T wasn’t there during the discussions due to Covid, so I did not have anyone to back me up. Luckily it worked out in the end, though I didn’t get a home birth or water birth. It’s just really good to know your options and think about your preferences (though my birth plan never accounted for a breech baby – so if you’re reading this while pregnant please think about it and what you would want to do).

I also learned that staying calm will help labour continue (adrenaline stops surges), so I focused on doing the breathing techniques that I had learned on the course and danced to music and tried to relax as much as possible whilst waiting on the maternity ward. If I had got stressed out then I probably would have had to have a C-section as they put me on a countdown (at 9am they said if I wasn’t in established labour by 6pm then I would not be allowed to have a vaginal delivery). I do love a challenge…

#OtherPeopleHaveExpressedTheirDisapproval

Funnily enough with Covid and all, those who weren’t so keen on me having a home birth in the beginning actually saw it as a good idea in the end. It seemed less risky going somewhere where I could possibly get Covid and everything. However precautions were in place there (I had a lovely swab up the nose) and it was so odd but nice to be around a lot of strangers for the first time in months.

You can read my birth story here and about my hospital stay here.


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Categories
Pregnancy

Exercising whilst pregnant

I had planned for this blog to be more than ‘just’ a place for posting my photography and video, so in this post I thought I’d share exercise videos that I did whilst I was pregnant.

(Scroll down if you just want to see my favourite YouTube pre-natal exercise videos and not read my preramble).

Tiago’s snap of me exercising a couple of weeks before giving birth. (Yes, that is my dress rolled up – I didn’t bother changing half of the time).

We moved to Liverpool at the end of 2018 and we signed up for the gym not long after. I didn’t like going, but watching Pointless (a TV quiz show) whilst using some equipment made it somewhat tolerable. Fact: I cancelled my membership after they stopped showing it on their TVs.

I enjoyed the classes, but I didn’t like that the ones I wanted to go to were quite late in the evenings and I felt like planning my time around an exercise class wasn’t that productive. I then got pregnant after I stopped going to the gym. I had been looking forward to answering yes in a class whenever they asked if anyone was pregnant, but never mind. Covid would have cut short that experience anyways with the closure of gyms…

When we lived in London I mainly did YouTube exercise videos, as the gyms close to me were expensive/I just felt like I didn’t have time to go to one. At one point I did go to a bootcamp in a park by me, but it would take up most of my day and after meeting Tiago (and making him go with me for a bit) I realised that that wasn’t how I wanted to spend a big chunk of my weekend.

I had planned to get into pre-natal exercise earlier than I eventually did. The intention was there, but the motivation was lacking. In the end it was hip/pelvis pain that made me start, as getting a maternity pillow wasn’t enough. I wanted to just workout at home due to the ease of it.

Stretching a couple of weeks before I gave birth.

Other pregnant people I knew wanted to wait until the pains got bad enough that they got referred for physio, but I didn’t want things to get worse. Surely with physio they would just give you stretches anyways, not some magic pill that would make the pains and aches magically go away? Covid probably put a stop to most face-to-face physio appointments anyways…

Warning: I’m just a regular person sharing what exercise videos I liked whilst I was pregnant. Talk to your doctor/listen to your body about what you can and can’t do. It’s meant to make you feel better, so don’t push yourself too much. If you can’t do the complete video without stopping that’s fine – I also used to get through a lot of water during them too.

In addition, I tried to go for a walk everyday (particularly once lockdown started). The earlier you start exercising in your pregnancy, the easier you’ll (hopefully) find it. As I got more pregnant I wasn’t able to do what I could earlier on, but it wasn’t such a shock to my body as I had been doing these videos for a while. It was funny doing them the first time and thinking ‘I can’t believe I’ll be that pregnant’, but before I knew it I was more pregnant than the teachers in the videos.

I also seem to be forgetting that dancing counts as exercise – here I am dancing the day before I gave birth!

One of the hardest parts of working out at home is just getting yourself onto your mat/into your space where you exercise with the intention to exercise. Having a baby adds another hurdle to getting there, so enjoy one less block whilst you can!

Anyways, here are the YouTube videos that I did the most whilst I was pregnant.


A good one to start with

10 minutes a day is a good start if you really don’t feel up to exercising. I think my morning sickness also made exercising unappealing. I moved to longer videos after feeling like I was just getting into the video, but it was over already.


Morning

In the beginning I’d exercise just once a day – usually just in the morning. Before long though I realised it wasn’t enough and I’d exercise in the evening too.

After doing the one in the previous section for a couple of weeks at least, I moved onto doing this one pretty much every morning (after letting my muscles recover from the first time).

After a while I got bored of doing it everyday, so I started to do it every other day (alternating the next two videos on the second day).

After a while I started to do the 3 videos on a 3 day cycle.

Then after no longer finding it comfortable to sit on a chair and sitting on an exercise ball instead, a friend recommended the video below, and it became a 4 day cycle.


Evening

In the evenings I started off doing the below video (there is a morning yoga routine, which seems the same so I preferred doing different ones).

And then I wanted to try other ones, so I did this one below occasionally instead.

Then I began to alternate them each night, but after a while I knew the routines off by heart so I started to watch TV and do a mix of the two videos from memory. I found myself doing a lot more than if I was doing one of the videos.

I feel like with the videos there should be two versions – 1 for people who have never done the video before/are doing it for the 2nd or 3rd time, and then there should be one for people who don’t need the explanations. Particularly with the pilates one as once I knew it by heart I would carry on and do the routine, occasionally skipping the video forward to where it was useful to be in time.

Also I would just add my favourite stretches that were missing from the video I just did to the end of my practice – and did extra kegels when I thought about it, particularly with squats.

One last video that deserves a mention as I enjoyed it, but then managed to forget about it…

What YouTube exercise videos do you like to do?

Wishing you happy and safe exercising!


Thanks for reading!

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Categories
Pregnancy

Animal Hats & Cramps (6 and a half weeks)

The photo that I’m talking about in this post isn’t actually in my pregnancy project (Waiting For Things In A Time When You Rarely Wait For Things); it’s in my Ulterior Monologue project under the title of My Mum Bought Me A Hat When She Was On Holiday. I was pregnant at the time though and I had forgotten that I’d written pregnancy related hashtags for it.

The image with the pregnancy related hashtags:

I called the folder ‘Animal Hats & Cramps’.

#ILookSadInThePhotoBecauseIStartedToGetHorrendousCramps
#AndEveryTimeIDoItScaresTheShhhOutOfMe
#IThoughtTheWorstWasHappening
#SoIThoughtIWasPhotographingMyselfWhilstTheWorstWasHappening
#AndIKeptTakingPicturesAsIWasTooScaredToGoToTheBathroomToCheck
#AsEveryTimeIGoToTheBathroomIGetScaredOfWhatIMightFind
#OrWhatMightHappen
#ButAfterAWhileILetOutALotOfAir
#AndItMightHaveJustBeenTrappedWind
#SoIHadALittleLaughToMyself
#ButEveryTimeIGetAPainIThinkTheWorst
#AndOftenItIsTrappedWind
#ButIAmWorriedOneTimeThatItWillNotBe
#AndIDoNotWantToBeRushingToTheDoctorsOrHospitalEvery5Minutes
#IJustDoNotKnowWhatIsNormalYet
#INeedToCalmDownAndTryNotToStressSoMuch
#ThatIsTrue
#ButItIsEasierToSayThanDo
 

And the image with its original Ulterior Monologue hashtags – it shows it in a very different light.

My Mum Bought Me A Hat When She Was On Holiday

#IWantedToBuyAHatSoItSavedMeTheHassle
#ThoughIWasThinkingMoreOfAThickKnittedNavyColouredHatOrSomething
#ButThisIsTheKindOfHatIWantToWear #ButWouldNotBuyForMyself
#ButIfMyMumBuysItForMeWhenIAm31ThenItIsOkay #TheOtherDayIWatchedAll4EpisodesOfQueerEyeInJapanAndIWasThinkingIShouldStartDressingMoreBoldlyAgain #ButTheRealityIsIJustWantToBeDressedAllInBluesAndRemainAsInvisibleAsPossible #WhichMightSeemOddConsideringTheKindOfWorkIMake
#WhichIsMainlyPhotographingAndVideoingMyself
#ButIGuessIDoNotWantToBeCompletelyInvisible
#WhichIsPerhapsOneOfTheReasonsWhyIMakeWorkAboutMyself
#AsItIsTherapeuticForMe #ToBecomeMoreComfortableWithMyAppearance #AndNowWithTheseRamblingHashtagsIAmBecomingMoreComfortableWithMyThoughtsAndWords #AndIWantToBeVisibleOnSomeLevel
#ButOnOtherLevelsIWantToBeInvisible
#LikeWalkingDownTheStreet
#IAmNotSayingIAmACelebThankWhateverAbove #ButIMeanJustWalkingDownTheStreetWithoutAnyStrangeLooksOrBeingNoticedAtAllForAnyReasonWhetherItBeGoodOrBad
#IDoNotMindChattingWithRandomPeopleButSometimesIJustWantToBeInMyOwnLittleWorld #AndWalkAlongWithoutHavingToDealWithThingsLikeZebraCrossingsAndOtherAwkwardInteractions #ButAnywaysIHaveNotWornThisHatOutYet #AndIRealiseThatTheHatIsAnAnimalHatWhichIsWhatIMainlyWearInMyDanceVideos #AndIWearAHatInMyDanceVideosBecauseIDoNotLikeHowILookInHats
#AndIWasBulliedForAHatIHadInFirstSchool #SoItIsMyWayOfTryingToOvercomeMyPastExperiencesOfHatsWhichSoundsFunnyButIsTrue #ButIHaveOnlyReallyWornHatsLatelyInMyLivingRoom #SoIWillMakeAnEffortToWearItOutOnTheNextReallyColdDayAsIDoNotWantColdEarsOrAHeadache #IForgotToMentionWhatARidiculousSizeThosePomPomsAre
#MyMumSaidICanCutThemOffButIFeelBad

Ulterior Monologue is the project that I first started to use hashtags with. It was my response to my awkwardness of using hashtags and wanting to use more text with my images, but also feeling awkward about that.

The project was about wanting to be pregnant but not feeling able to talk about it. It started to come to a natural end when I found out I was pregnant, though there was some crossover with my new pregnancy project. I didn’t announce my pregnancy on social media until I was 20 weeks due to feeling worried that something bad would happen and not wanting to ‘curse myself’. It also took me a while to figure out what I was doing project wise and how to go about posting without revealing I was pregnant; in the end I went for the ‘post all the projects I’ve ever done’ archive approach on my Instagram.

I had forgotten about how I felt during this photo, but having never been pregnant before every little pain made me nervous. Pregnancy is thought of as a beautiful time, which it is, but I found it very stressful – even before the pandemic.

I never went to get the cramps checked out. It could have been wind (I think I had forgotten the scenario so I never had to share hashtags about trapped wind, but after having a baby you talk about bodily functions A LOT) or it could have just been my uterus stretching (makes sense as I was growing a baby inside it) or something else.

It is said that a photo says a 1000 words, but I don’t think a picture can tell you everything or even that much sometimes. Maybe a picture just makes you think what you want to think based on your life experiences and personality. Show a picture to 100 people and I wonder what they would all say and how differing the opinions would be about what the image is really about. Obviously it depends on what the image is of – show a picture of a cat and I’m sure there would be a mixed crowd of ‘that’s cute’ and ‘I hate cats’.

These two sets of hashtags really show two different sides to the image and if you only see one set then you miss part of the story. How would you know that I was pregnant and stressing out about cramps just by looking at a picture of me in a hat? It’s true I don’t look happy, but I’m not about to open the can of worms that is ‘why don’t people smile in photos these days?’ Does it really matter though about only knowing part of the story? I’d forgotten half of it myself.

Anyways, I think using hashtags with my work really brings another level to the pictures, though whether people choose to read them or not is their choice.

I love text with photographs and back when I used to go to exhibitions (used to because of Covid) I’d often spend more time reading the accompanying image text rather than looking at an image. I wonder if this will change when I finally go to a show again – will I want to hang around? Will I be able to with a baby anyways? Will I feel comfortable using a public toilet and changing her in one? How will I feel about breastfeeding in public or will I just choose to express and bottle-feed her?

We shall have to wait and see…