19 July 2011

Counting my blessings...

So today I am 36 weeks pregnant. (I'm huge aren't I?!) In one week, I'll be considered "term" and if I go into labor, it won't be premature.

I've been extremely fortunate to have an incredibly easy pregnancy... up to now.

At this time in my pregnancy, I can go on for ages about why I want Peanut out: acid reflux, discomfort, especially when I'm trying to sleep, frequent bathroom trips, tiring easily, not being able to take a full breath, stabbing pains. I could go on.

I realized last night that I really need to relish this time before he's here. Not only because the current peace won't last long, but also because carrying a child is one of the rewards of being a woman.

So I'm writing this to compile a list of reasons why I am glad to still be pregnant so hopefully I can look back on it and appreciate these last few weeks rather than consider them a "difficult time."

Reasons why I'm glad I'm still pregnant:
  • After tomorrow I'm on maternity leave and I'll be able to enjoy it alone, doing the things that I want to do rather than answering to Peanut's every need.
  • Even though getting kicked in the ribs doesn't feel nice, every movement he makes is magical.
  • I still haven't registered that I'm going to be a parent soon and I don't think I'll have to go through that anxiety until he's here.
  • Even in England (where the majority of people are very grumpy towards strangers), people smile at me as I'm walking by.
  • I still get time with just Steve and myself to cuddle on the couch and watch movies or TV (except when the dog butts in)
  • I may not be sleeping well, but at least I'm sleeping!
  • Strangers are incredibly polite, letting me cross roads, holding doors open for me, asking if I need help, etc.
  • The pain of labor is still a distant thought.
  • I don't have to listen to a baby crying all the time, but I still feel like he's here and we're connected.
  • Right now, I'm an endearing pregnant woman. Soon, I'll be a woman with a pram in the way (even though right now I feel like I'm the size of a pram!).
  • I don't have to deal with people coming over to visit Peanut and me at inopportune times.
  • I can still walk my dog alone without worrying about a baby.
  • I'll get a great head start on Christmas gifts while I'm waiting for him to come.
  • I'll get to spend time alone with my mom when she visits before Peanut arrives.
  • I get all the attention and know full well that Peanut will get all the attention when he's here.
  • I don't have to feel guilty for eating an extra cookie (or few) yet.
  • It's perfectly acceptable for me to spend an entire day in my PJs.
  • Steve has to do the weeding because I can't bend down.
Well, that's my list for now. I'm sure I'll add to it as and when. I really am fortunate to be in the position I'm in and I'm going to try every day to remember to appreciate the present rather than pining for the future.

27 June 2011

The State of Mental Health in the UK

Hey all, I know it's been a long time since I've posted.  So you know, everything is going really well and I'm starting maternity leave in just a few weeks!

What I really wanted to discuss is my frustration with the way mental health is dealt with in the UK.

Two years ago, my husband had a bad breakdown which led to him being put on both an antidepressant (citalopram) and a very strong anxiety medication (stelazine) which is actually classed as an antipsychotic.  These were prescribed by our GP who has no special training in mental health treatment.  This was also after a different doctor at our GP told him to take a bubble bath and "think happy thoughts" rather than actually treat what was going on.

Since then, despite numerous complaints about his medication not working or bad side effects, my husband's medication "treatment" hasn't been reviewed.  Not only is he on extremely strong drugs which he was put on right after a severe episode, the doctors haven't even bothered to check in on him to make sure that the medication is actually working for him.

The majority of people I've spoken to in the UK who have been or are currently on antidepressants are on citalopram (Celexa in the US).  What the healthcare providers in the UK don't seem to know, realize or accept is that everyone is different and it's not a matter of giving everyone the same drug and leaving it at that.  Sometimes it take a year or more to find the right medication or combination of medications for a person.  The NHS doesn't seem to care though and treats everyone like they're the same person.

Medication itself is not even a complete treatment.  If someone is prescribed medication, then probably 95% of the time, they should have some sort of mental therapy.  Even if it's seeing a psychologist or psychiatrist once ever few months.  Throwing pills at a problem is not the answer.

Knowing this, we have done everything in our power to get better treatment for my husband, but the doctors don't want to hear it.  They refuse to refer him to a specialist and when one time he came close to it, we were told he could not be accepted because he wasn't suicidal.  Is that what it takes to be taken seriously?  So people have to prove they're depressed and need help by trying to kill themselves?

This whole time, it's been a struggle for my husband and I firmly believe that he'd be exactly the same if he were off the medication.  In fact, he wouldn't have to deal with the annoying side effects so he might even feel better than he does now.

Even after my husband had a severe panic attack last week, he went to the GP for an emergency appointment and was seen by the "bubble bath" doctor who only increased his medicine.  He didn't bother trying him on something new which might actually work.  He didn't ask how everything has been going and see if maybe they should try something else.

Having a mental health disorder myself (bipolar disorder) and coming from a country where I was able to get bespoke and informed treatment, it's incredibly frustrating for me to see the way that the NHS, which UK residents pay for, treats mental health, particularly when someone I love is involved.

The worst thing is that there seems to be nothing I can do about it.  The doctors won't listen no matter how firm I am, the NHS site only says this about treatment: People with mental health problems need help and support to enable them to cope with their illness. There are many treatments, including medication, counsellingpsychotherapy and self help. It is important that people with mental illnesses are told about the options available so they can decide which treatment suits them best.

I'm guessing that doctors don't read the NHS site very often.

If anyone knows who I can write to about this, please let me know.  I don't think I'll be able to do anything alone but I'd love to make my voice heard.  And I'm sure I'm not the only one.

15 May 2011


Yesterday, after 3 and a half months of anxiously waiting, I received my ILR settlement permit.  ILR means 'indefinite leave to remain' which basically meant, I'm a permanent resident of the UK.

While I'm so pleased that I finally got it (having it means I'm eligible for certain benefits which I wasn't before), I can't help but wish I didn't need it.  That Steve and I were "home" in California.  Close to my family, our friends and everything that we love.

There are some fantastic things about living in the UK - the fish and chips, the history and low cost of living (compare for California) to name a few - but even after nearly three years here, I don't feel any more at home than I did when I first moved over.  I just feel like I know it better.

I have a few friends I've made since moving here and some work colleagues which mean more to me than just colleagues, but I don't spend much time with them.  And because of Steve's schedule, I spend most of my spare time alone.  Good thing we have a dog.

If I were back home, even living an hour and a half from my parents, I'd see them all the time.  I have good friends all over the state so I'd always know someone wherever I moved to rather than being somewhere completely alone.  I'd also have a car so I can actually go places without being stuck on the bus or train timetable.

Oh well, the time will come someday when I can live at home again.  Until then, I'll just keep complaining =]

08 May 2011

Nappies, nursery and normal...

So I've had a bad cold for the last 3 days.  I feel like garbage.  It's so not fair.  Why can't they come up with something which pregnant women can take for a cold while they're pregnant?  It's seriously annoying.  There must be something.  What a way to spend a weekend.

We've decided on a name for the baby.  No, you don't get to find out yet, you'll have to wait a few months, but I will say I am completely in love with it.  I can't wait to have a baby with that name.

I've been snapping up cloth nappies which I've found for sale at really cheap prices online.  I'm only buying the first size just in case they're not for us.  I really hope they are though because they're so damn cute.  And they're cheaper than disposables.  I got 20 nappies and 4 wraps for just over £60.  They'll last us until Peanut is about 4-5 months.  I think by then we'll know how we like them.

So the nursery is coming along nicely.  All I need are some baskets, a cotbed mattress, bedding and the cute space invader wall decals I found on ebay and it'll be complete.  Well, except for the baby.

I've still got 3 months left before he completes the ensemble.  This part has been going really slowly, but at the same time zooming past.  It's a bit odd, knowing I'm going to be a mother in just a few weeks.  I know I should savor the freedom now, but I'm not.  At least I don't feel like I am.  Maybe savoring my finite freedom is just doing what I normally do.

I don't feel any different.  Shouldn't I?  I should feel like a glowing,  bumpy mother-to-be.  But I just feel like me.  Maybe being a mother will feel that way.  Normal.

24 March 2011

Pondering and Planning...

Oh my gosh!!  Two posts in one week?!  What is going on here??

Well, I happen to be off work for a week (don't get worried.  I took it off).  And there's a lot going on.

Today we found out that we're having a boy.  I couldn't be more excited.  I know I wouldn't have been disappointed if he were a girl, but I sort of knew he was a boy and it would have been strange to have him turn out not to be.  And he's got all the right parts and organs and they're all the right size and everything.  Now I can start shopping for him.

But that's not what this post is about, as fantastic news as it is.  The real topic is much more unexpected.

After much deliberation, I have decided to sell my computer.

I've had my own computer for at least 10 years and now I'm giving it up.  I know it sounds crazy, but there are several sane reasons for my decision though:

1) I don't use my computer all that much anymore except to browse the web, check email, chat with friends online.  All of these things I can do with my phone or my 10 year old iBook laptop which has never had anything go wrong with it.
2) Steve is still keeping his computer so if I absolutely need one which does more than my old little lappy, I can use his.
3) It's much easier to fit 1 desk with 1 computer in the living room rather than 2 desks and 2 computers.  English houses aren't that big you know.  So now our second bedroom will be the nursery!
4) I'm going to use the money to buy Steve and I an iPad2!!

So you see, it's not a crazy decision.  It's very well thought out and made for the right reasons.  I do love my gorgeous iMac, but I'd rather have an iPad2 and a nursery for the baby.

I'd better do this quickly though.  Sounds like the iPad2 stocks are going to be a bit low in the near future.