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Bambina Mia

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We have just returned from a rushed weekend to Italy to bring my mother in law home from hospital.

At 30 weeks pregnant I had to get a medical certificate to fly but thankfully everything was ok. I had contemplated not going at all but how could I not, under the circumstances?

Anyway, enough of the dreary tone.

The Italian booked me wheelchair assistance as our flight out was at 6.30am. What a genius idea! It worked a treat and is actually a service provided by Ryanair. We were taken straight through controls and escorted all the way to the aeroplane steps. Brilliant!

Having woken Bambina from her slumber at 4am I half expected her to have a tired tantrum or two. No. She was a delight. She sat in her pram just watching the early morning world go by. She didn’t utter a word or a groan.

As we were boarding the plane, Bambina got excited and squealed at the sight of having her own seat belt and pull down tray. I was so proud of her, so well behaved.

She sat on the Italian’s knee for take off, all buckled up and holding on tight. As the engine roared and the plane took flight, her little green eyes looked at me to confirm everything was ok. I smiled a reassuring glance and she happily nestled her head of curls into daddies chest, closed her eyes and went to sleep.

She woke up when the captain announced our decent. The lady that was sat behind the Italian tapped him on the shoulder to tell him what a wonderfully behaved baby we have. She was amazed at how Bambina hadn’t created one ounce of fuss. The Italian beamed and rewarded his good girl with a big kiss on the forehead.

It’s a lovely feeling when strangers pass comment on how wonderful your child is. It makes me/us feel like we’re not doing that bad a job of raising a good little person. I couldn’t have been happier that my little Bambina Mia had taken the early bird flight in her stride and as always adjusted to her surroundings. She’s just amazing!

Grazie Bambina for being absolutely adorable… Mamma loves you!

What things do your little ones do that just melt your heart? Do share.

X-O-X

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5 Comments

Posted by on October 28, 2012 in London

 

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The Big “C”…. Again!

I’ve been having a semi break from blogging recently, just too much important stuff going on.

I mentioned a while ago in a post for Clic Sargent that my mother in law had beaten the odds and recovered from Colon cancer fifteen years ago. Two years ago, the day before our wedding, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and after a two-year haul through chemo and radiotherapy, she beat that too!

However, the demon that is the “Big C” is determined for her to lose the fight as it has reared its ugly head once more. Three times?! How unlucky can one woman be?!

After a well deserved trip to Liguria a few weeks ago, my in-laws returned home with my mother in law complaining of headaches. The man of the house surely sent her off to bed with an aspirin and a hot water bottle thinking it was the change of weather having an effect.

The next morning my mother in law couldn’t stand. She had lost the use of her legs and all sense of balance. The headaches had worsened.

Numerous tests and cat scans at the hospital ensued and then the phone rang. My father in law, through choked back tears, told the Italian that the doctors had found three, not one, but three tumours on his mothers brain. We were stunned! Again? All this, again?!

As soon as you hear the words cancer and brain in the same sentence you automatically think negatively. The Italian, in his panic, wanted to get on a flight straight away but what could he do?

He is in the fifth week of a new job, I’m seven months pregnant and we live in another country. The feeling of uselessness is incredible.

I can’t begin to imagine what my husband is going through right now. I can’t imagine what my mother in law is going through right now. She’s sorry for the grand children, she said. Sorry for the grand child that I hope and pray she gets to meet in a few months time.

But that’s it isn’t it, time. Time. Far more precious than we give credit for.

I pray for time to stand still while the doctors do their tests. I pray for the time to hurry up while the doctors get the results and do something . I pray for time so that my mother in law meets her newest grandchild and that Bambina gets to kiss her Nonna again. I pray for time that my husband gets to say goodbye to his mother properly, if that’s what it comes to.

I pray that time will heal her… Again.

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Stand Up to Cancer UK

 
19 Comments

Posted by on October 18, 2012 in Italia

 

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The Gift

So, yesterday, D-Day, I met with the consultant from Kings College to discuss the options of non-Down Syndrome screening.

I didn’t really know what to expect from her. I probably expected her to try to fob me off with rubbish or excuses. She didn’t.

The Dr was extremely frank, woman to woman. She thought I was a drama queen. I probably have been. She thought I was right to create a fuss. I know I was. She said my odds of having a Down Syndrome child, without having any screening tests at all, were extremely low. Lower than with Bambina. Based, purely on my age group and the overall healthy growth of the new addition!

After a few shed tears of relief, I hugged the life almost out of her and said my thank you’s. She said “now go home, have a cuppa and a huge slice if cake because you’re going to be very busy after that…bonding with your new son or daughter”. As she reached out to hold one hand, she looked me in the eye reassuringly, “just like your first one, this child truly is a gift!”.

Let the bonding commence…

I would also like to end this post by saying a massive thank you to everyone who showed concern, offered support and gave truly kind words. I really do appreciate it from the bottom of my heart! Mwwah!

*Foto my own.

X-O-X

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Posted by on September 21, 2012 in London

 

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A Bit Down

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The last few days, I have been feeling a bit down .

Finding out about a pregnancy five months into the gestation has proven somewhat of a chore so far. First, I missed all the required checks that are to be done at 12 weeks. Second, I missed all the required checks that are to be done at 20 weeks. Third, I have been wrongly advised about Down Syndrome screening by my hospital.

The first of the Down Syndrome screening is carried out between 11 and 14 weeks. This is the Nuchal scan when the build up of fluid at the back of the baby’s neck is measured. This test offers a 94% accuracy rate.

The second Down Syndrome screening is offered at 20 weeks via a simple blood test. This picks up the baby’s chromosomes through your blood but only offers a 60% accuracy rate.

Depending on the results of either of the above, you can go home happy knowing that the chance of delivering a baby with Downs is small, or, you will be offered an Amniocentesis test. This is the most intrusive and requires a slim needle through the stomach and into the womb to extract a sample of the fluid from the baby’s sack. The chromosomes in the fluid are tested and although invasive, this gives you the best result. However, if done earlier in the pregnancy it can cause miscarriage. The usual cut off for this is 20 weeks.

When I was pregnant with Bambina I didn’t endure any of this and perhaps quite ignorantly on my part, I didn’t do much research given that Bambina’s nuchal tests results were incredibly low risk.

Three weeks ago when I had my first, emergency, scan at 21 weeks and 2 days, I was told by the sonographer that I would do the blood test screening at my next visit.  I didn’t have any reason for concern at that point.

Two weeks went by and the time arrived for the next scan. On Thursday last week I was told that I had been misinformed and in fact, I had missed the national cut off for the blood test screening. I was horrified. Did this mean that I had to go through the next three months not knowing whether I am carrying a child with Down Syndrome? Why on earth didn’t the sonographer spot that I was on borrowed time but went ahead and booked me in for a bloody test two weeks past the deadline?

The Italian and I had obviously discussed our options.  Woman in their forties, late forties, give birth to bouncing healthy babies all the time.  But, we were not sure that our lives could afford looking after a child with Downs. But what was the alternative? Termination? Adoption?

A flurry of questions ensued: What if it is? How severe might it be? How do you find a child minder? Are there any? Would it face a life of constant investigation? Would the italian have to give up his job to look after it? What impact would it have on Bambina? Is that fair? What if something happened to us, what would happen to the child then? Surely we couldn’t ask an elderly grandparent to take the burden? “Burden”. Is that how we would feel, as parents, that our child was a burden?

The obvious reality is that many people with Down Syndrome grow into healthy, fun, fit children and progress into adulthood with independence. The average life expectancy is actually 50.  Some work and study, some live on their own. However, some need constant attention. Some have huge behavioral and health problems.

The sonographer advised me that the cut off for the blood test was at 21 weeks 6 days. That meant that I had only a four day window in which to do it. A four day window that the previous sonographer two weeks prior had failed to notice. A life long critical decision had been taken out of my hands and forced upon me in the blink of an eye.

I cried. I sat down. I cried. How could someone be so careless? I enquired about Amniocentesis and was told that an appointment would be booked for me to speak to a consultant.

I went home. I cried. Once I had wiped away the tears, I called Bupa to confirm the deadlines for the tests to be done privately.  However, all private hospitals are bound by the same national guidelines as the NHS.  However, my private consultant told me that according to the national NHS guideline, the cut off for the blood test is 20 weeks whilst the cut off for amniocentesis is 22 weeks. I had in fact missed everything!!  The original sonographer was wrong on two counts.

I spoke to Marie Stopes, the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) and Spire Health Care, another private company.  All confirmed that at 23 weeks and 2 days there was nothing more I could do but hope for the best.

Eventually, after several heated and tearful phone calls from me to my hospital, I finally got to see the consultant on Friday morning. She reassured me that according to the scan and foetal measurements, everything looked fine but that she obviously couldn’t offer that as a true medical diagnosis “and anyway, the blood test is only 60% accurate”, she said. That would have been 60% more peace of mind that I would have had if they had not have taken the choice of having the blood test away from me!!

She continued, “We will not offer amniocentesis at this stage as the risk of damaging an otherwise healthy child by forcing pre-term labour far out ways the risk of a child being born with Downs. However, if at 32 weeks you are still dissatisfied we can carry out the amnio then and if you so wish, we can carry out a termination”.

Ok. After carrying a child for eight months, feeling it kick, move, breathe, hiccup, you would carry out a termination if I so wished?? Is that even legal?? Who on earth agrees to that? At 32 weeks, even now at 24 weeks, the decision has been made for me because your STUPID, incompetent staff didn’t do their jobs properly!!  How can I even consider anything else now but sit back and pray that God has gifted me with a healthy child?

I battled and fought and finally got an appointment next week with a Downs specialist from Kings College. She will check my scans and measurements and compare that to those of a Down foetus.  Again, this wont be a medical diagnosis but purely to set my mind at rest, as best as can be under these circumstances.

Apparently Down Syndrome can also be detected by a scan as Downs children do not have a nasal bone at this stage, the base of the neck is thicker and organs may appear displaced.

Speaking to the consultant won’t change anything but it may help me feel a bit more reassured, it may help me chill out a bit for the next three months and try to enjoy being pregnant with our second child. All I can literally do now is wait, hope and pray that this was all a big storm in a tea cup.

So yeah, you could say, I’ve been feeling a bit down.

Contacts:

Marie Stopes – 0044 845 300 8090

BPAS – 0044 845 30 40 30

Spire Health Care – 0044 208 950 9090

 
14 Comments

Posted by on September 18, 2012 in London

 

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Quandary of a Working Mother

Today was my worst nightmare.

As I sat plugging away at gaping holes in my work schedule, my phone rang. The Italian, in a trying to stay calm tone, informed me that they were in the ambulance but all was ok.

Ambulance?? As he had reached for Bambina’s sippy cup, she had wriggled out of the high chair harness and went for an Olympic gold at floor diving, crashing her head into a marble floor. It took all of twenty seconds to happen but twenty seconds too long.

I gasped a breath. My daughter was in an ambulance on her way to hospital and I was on my way to an “appointment”. My mind raced. What should I do? I had always imagined my immediate reaction to such an incident would be to down tools and go straight home. To my surprise, I found myself in a quandary.

Go home, immediately my conscience told me. Yet, I reasoned with myself that this was the first of many falls and I can’t run home every time. So, I stayed put plugging away at my gaping holes of priority lists.

Then I had an attack of guilt. I had left my poor injured child to go it alone when she needed me!. Am I such a bad mother that I don’t put her at the top of my priority list?

I reasoned again that she wasn’t alone. She was perfectly fine, with her daddy. Perfectly safe, with her daddy. No, I’m not a bad mother for not rushing at every whim. Yet, I do wonder why I didn’t fall immediately into panic mode. Perhaps my motherly instinct told me that the Italian was right, all was actually ok. Bambina was alright, a minor bump to the head but still intact enough to give Dolly a finger-wagging telling off. It was probably Dolly’s fault anyway.

As a first time mum, a working mum, it’s difficult to find the right balance. What I came to accept today is that my decisions may not always be the right ones, that I need to let go of the control reigns a bit more and hand them over, without question or judgement, to the Italian.  That I can’t split myself into various forms in order to be everywhere and do everything that might be expected of me, or that I might expect of myself.

How do you do it? How do you find the balance between work and home? I’m sure the answer is practice and that’s what I’m intending to do.

It’s a topic that’s new to me and one that I’m sure I’ll always be in a quandary about.

X-O-X

*Credit

 
2 Comments

Posted by on July 16, 2012 in London

 

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