Lymphatic Cancer Awareness Week 15th – 19th September

This week is Lymphatic Cancer Awareness Week. Did you know that more than 14,000 new cases of lymphoma are diagnosed each year in the UK, making it the most common cancer in the under 30s and the 5th most common cancer diagnosed overall. Despite this, awareness of lymphoma is relatively low and many people have not heard of it unless they have been affected in some way.

I’ve always been open about the fact I had Hodgkin’s, I’ve never tried to hide it. I think people don’t always realise that Lymphoma is cancer, and I think it’s important to raise awareness.

I will never forget the day that I got taken into a room, with a young female doctor, and told “You have Hodgkin’s Lymphoma”. Obviously, I knew what it was. I’d been telling the doctors for 6 months that I thought I’d got it. But hearing those words and it becoming real, your world just shatters. Yes, it’s one of the most curable cancers, but it doesn’t have a 100% cure rate. There was still a chance I could die.

Jake and I a few days after diagnosis - the day I had my hair cut off

Jake and I a few days after diagnosis – the day I had my hair cut off

I guess I am one of the “lucky” ones. I’m four years out of treatment now, and the chances of it coming back are slim. Slim, but not nil. Once you have been diagnosed, it never goes away. I’ve got physical and mental scars. It was a scary time, it was awful. Being used as a pincushion when they couldn’t find a vein for cannulas, losing my hair, knowing that the chemo was going to make me feel like s**t, but having to endure it anyway, whilst looking after an 8 month old, having to ask for help to look after him on days I knew I just wouldn’t be well enough to, spending a week in hospital with pneumonia, including a stint in intensive care.

Rocking the bandana

Rocking the bandana

Just because people aren’t aware doesn’t make it any less real.

The Lymphoma Association have lots of information and support available, so go and read up on it, but I am also aiming to write a couple of posts this week to tell you the signs and symptoms to look out for.

Jake and I after the all clear

Jake and I after the all clear

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The Birth of Hugo James

Hugo James – Tuesday 12th August 2014 – 9.49am – 9lb 9oz

I can’t believe it’s taken me four weeks to write this, and at the same time I can’t believe that four weeks has gone by so quickly.

I really struggled the last few weeks of my pregnancy, I was, to put it mildly, a moody cow. I was tired, I was hot, I was uncomfortable. I felt like an awful mum because it was the summer holidays and I was too big to fit behind the wheel of the car so we didn’t really go anywhere or do anything. My due date came and went, and I was STILL pregnant. I was starting to worry that my much wanted home birth wouldn’t happen and that I would have to be induced. I’d started ignoring the phone because I knew what the person on the other end would say: “Any news? Any twinges? Come on, get a move on.”

My midwife did a sweep when I was 40+2 and we got hopeful. She could feel his head and my waters bulging. We came home, we rearranged the living room to make room for the pool, I text Jay, our birth photographer, and got her on standby.

41 weeks came, and I decided I was going swimming. When I was pregnant with Zack, my waters went after going swimming, so I figured it couldn’t do any harm. I swam, I went home, and nothing. I bounced on the birth ball, I sent Neil to the shop for comfort food, I cried at Long Lost Family, and I went to bed.

I woke up at 5am, as I’d been doing fairly regularly, and was pleased that I knew my midwife was coming later to do another sweep. I came downstairs. Read the news about Robin Williams, read some of my book. I started getting twinges, but didn’t think anything of them, they weren’t painful, they weren’t regular, but I thought something might happen later.

Neil’s alarm went off at 7am, so I went back upstairs, and told him that I had a feeling today was the day. I had my shower and went back downstairs. Neil got his shower and got the boys up and dressed. They came down about 8am, and by then, I was fairly sure labour was in the early stages. I wasn’t in any pain, just uncomfortable. But I text Jay to give her a heads up.

Jay text

I was sat on the couch, and I felt what I thought (for about half a second) was an almighty kick, and then realised it was actually my waters. Cue, another text to Jay to let her know we were on.

Neil and Jake were inflating and filling the birth pool, and my contractions were still not following any regular pattern, and I was talking through them. I called my midwife at 8.30am (MY midwife – was so happy she was working that day!) and told her that she wouldn’t need to do the sweep, that my waters had gone, that I was contracting, but I was fine. We agreed that she would do the visit she already had booked in, and then come and see me.

My neighbour was on standby to have the boys for us, she’d been on standby for a few weeks, so we called her, and got no answer on either the landline or her mobile. We later found out that she was outside with some workmen and didn’t hear the phone. So Neil went a put a DVD on upstairs for the boys to keep them out of the way.

Jay arrived just before 9.30am. She says that I had “that look” on my face and that she knew it wouldn’t be long. It was just after she arrived that I made Neil call my midwife back and tell her that I needed to use the gas and air, so could she come please. She was here ten minutes later.

I knew I wasn’t going to be able to make it into the pool. It was full, it just wasn’t warm enough, and at this stage I was fairly confident that even if it had been, there’s no way I would have been able to get in. Louise got me hooked up onto the gas and air, and held my hand through contractions.

Contraction

She used the sonicaid to check his heartbeat, and it was then that I shouted “He’s coming!” It was quite comical, Louise said “If he’s coming, shall we take your knickers off?” Yeah, that would help, wouldn’t it?

A few pushes, and my gorgeous boy was born at 9.49am. 22 minutes after Jay arrived, and 9 minutes after Louise. You could say we cut it fine.

He's here

My first words after he was born “Oh I’ve made a mess of the carpet!” And I really did. We hadn’t planned for me giving birth on dry land, and even if we had, I laboured so quickly that I’m not sure we would have had the poly sheets down anyway.

The photo’s that Jay took are amazing, and prove that I am a crier. Neil says I’ve been the same now with all three births.

Yep, still crying

The fact that the boys were at home meant they got to come down and meet their baby brother when he was a few minutes old. It was lovely.

Big brothers

So, I didn’t get to use the pool, but I did get my home birth. I got my amazing midwife (who I now consider a friend), and a fabulous photographer there to capture it all.

Louise

Best of all, I got a gorgeous baby boy, who we all love very much.

Welcome to the world baby Hugo.

Roz Barnwell, Hugo James Birth Story, Worcester 120814 Roz Barnwell, Hugo James Birth Story, Worcester 120814 Roz Barnwell, Hugo James Birth Story, Worcester 120814 Roz Barnwell, Hugo James Birth Story, Worcester 120814

A very special thank you to Jay at Jay Emme Photography for capturing these amazing pictures that I will be eternally grateful for. Every time I look at them, I get so emotional. Go and check out her facebook page and give her a like, and tell her how much you like them.