My 15 year love affair with coffee

April 18, 2014 in Food, Travel, Uncategorized, Working parent by Emma Day

I’ve always loved the smell of coffee, even before I liked coffee itself. I knew how to make a good cup of coffee, by the age of 8 (it helped me get one of my Brownie badges)! I was about 13 when I first fell in love with coffee though. In a hotel in Paris, I ordered an espresso. I added some sugar and that was it… coffee was more than just a great smell, it was suddenly a delicious (and grown up) drink too.

As I ventured through the varieties of coffee, I soon discovered that I prefer my Americanos strong and black, like my espresso. And my espressos, must be doubles! I love my lattes with a shot of Baileys and liqueur coffees (with brandy or Cointreau) are awesome after dinner. Floater coffees for when I’m driving and everything decaf before bed. I like my cappuccinos with lots of chocolate powder on top and my macchiatos with caramel syrup.

It would seem I have a sweet tooth!

During my pregnancies I switched to everything decaf, but bought a cafetiere, so I could enjoy more flavourful coffee than instant could provide me at home. 

That one Parisian espresso, opened me up to a world of coffee drinks, that by 18, I would be making to a high standard in restaurants for customers. I’ve since trained people how to float the espresso on top of the milk, in lattes, and how to foam cappuccino milk to the perfect consistency. How to serve coffee the English way. 

The best coffee, I’m told, comes from Italy. A place I’ve always wanted to go. Italians are passionate about coffee and decades of tradition and quality standards make them the best.

Caffe Cagliari are no exception to this. They’ve been making outstanding coffee for 100 years and even make coffee capsules which are compatible with nespresso machines, so people can recreate the Italian taste at home.

Here’s a bit about the brand…

  • Caffe Cagliari are a family company steeped in over 100 years of Italian history. Alessandra Cagliari, the great great grand daughter of the founder handles the marketing and packaging today. You can find some fab historical pics here…http://www.caffecagliari.co.uk/about-caffe-cagliari.php

  • Every single cup is an exquisite masterpiece, the result of more than 100 years of knowledge and tradition. The qualitative and sensory standards of Espresso have been certified by the Italian Espresso National Institute (I.N.E.I.), which protects and promotes Italian Espresso.

 I’m definitely going to give it a go, to further fuel my 15 year love of coffee.

 

 

Disclaimer 2

Ectopic Prose #WednesdayWords

April 16, 2014 in Blog Hops / Memes / Linkies, Charity / Awareness, Health, Medical, Poetry, Pregnancy, Uncategorized, Wednesday Words by Emma Day

Here are some prose I wrote last week, during my recovery from surgery. They describe my feelings surrounding my ectopic pregnancy.

There are some people who feel I should be "over it" by now, or that I had no cause to be upset, because my pregnancy was so early on. The truth is, that it is going to take time for me to heal both physically and emotionally.

Ectopic Prose by Emma Day

Bile burning my throat
Nausea pinching my ribs
Pounding head
And aching heart
Hot tears sting my eyes
Nothing to catch them
They hit the floor
Without a sound
Bloated tummy
War wounds that hurt
And look ugly
Bloody and bruised
Still so very new
A nondescript pain
In an unnamed part of soul
Oh the emotion
How the hormones torment
Human chorionic gonadotropin
Doesn't feel so human
As I wait weeks
For the afterbleed
Daily reminders
Of what is no longer growing
Inside me
Sadistic weakness
Inability to do much
Fearful wreck
Wretched grief
But until I'm normal
I should act so

Is Chocolate good for you?

April 16, 2014 in Uncategorized by Emma Day

This is a guest post about chocolate…

Is chocolate good for you?

Despite it’s reputation for being an indulgent treat, in fact chocolate has a huge range of positive health benefits. Neurologists have long vouched for its feel good properties, but now scientists have linked dark cocoa to a reduced risk of heart disease and even cancer.

But before you rush down to your local newsagent to stock up on bars, it is important to note that the best way to optimise the positive health benefits of chocolate is to pick a brand with a high percentage of cocoa and enjoy it in moderation.

The hidden health benefits of chocolate

Researchers have discovered that the substances found in cocoa are linked to a decreased risk of stroke, deep vein thrombosis and certain types of cancer. Because chocolate contains many valuable natural elements including polyphenols (which can help to prevent blood clotting) as well as compounds called antioxidants, dieticians are now touting chocolate as an important part of any meal plan.

How to get chocolate into a healthy diet

With Easter just around the corner it is a fair bet that many households will be enjoying chocolate this month. However, to ensure that you get chocolate in to your diet in a healthy way consider introducing it in to your cooking.

 

Even with just a small amount of chocolate you can make a variety of recipes that are both exciting and delicious. In fact, one of the easiest ways to get chocolate in to your meals is to reinvent your favourite dishes with a chocolately twist.
Sweet style recipes

For those of you with a serious sweet tooth, it can be fun to enjoy your favourite chocolate in different ways. For example, you could simply whip up some delicious pancakes and sprinkle with some antioxidant rich chocolate chips. You could also use a combination of bittersweet and unsweetened chocolate to make chocolate brownies with half the usual amount of sugar.

You could even make some sweet treats for the whole family by knocking up a batch of dark chocolate and pistachio truffles. Simply mix butter, cream, chopped skinned pistachios and bittersweet chocolate together and refrigerate.

Savoury style recipes

As it is also possible to make some remarkable savoury main course meals using chocolate or cocoa powder, enjoy getting creative in the kitchen. Easy dishes to start with include sauces and marinades, chocolate chilli, cocoa rubbed baby back ribs and fruity chicken enchiladas.

What can I buy my three girls for their birthdays?

April 14, 2014 in Family, Holidays, Shopping, Toys, Twins by Emma Day

Birthday dilemmas

May is an expensive month for birthdays and it is fast approaching. All three of our girls have their birthdays in May and I’m really stuck for present ideas!

Bunny is going to be 7, but she has no idea what she wants for her birthday.

 

Her latest “thing” is that she wants to be a fashion designer. There seem to be a few toys centred around little girls wanting to be fashion designers, but which ones are decent toys and which ones are either:
a) cheap tat without much real function
b) overpriced
c) too fiddly 

Bunny has a fairly short attention span and quite a short fuse too, so if she finds a toy too fiddly to use, she’ll get cross and berate herself for not being able to do it. So I want to get her a toy, that will nurture her passion and also be fun for her.

And then… what else can I get her? If she doesn’t know herself… how am I supposed to know what to get? 

Then there are the twinningtons, they will turn two, just ten days after Bunny.

We know they have an obsession with Bunny’s dollys at the moment, so we KIND OF know what to buy them.

We want to get them a nice (but unbreakable) dolly each. We also want to get them a set of dolly nursery furniture (bed, pram, etc). We can’t decide between the twin dolly sets or the individual dolly sets. I think the twin sets would be lovely, but they’d need a pram each. Some of this stuff is seriously expensive though and due to my operation, I am having to have 6 weeks off work (unpaid), so we are on a pretty tight budget. 

So… I turn to you dear readers…

Suggestions please… of presents for my three gorgeous girls that fit in with the above. I’m looking for recommendations & brand names.
You can tell me the name of a product or you can point me to a link if you can see one online. I want to buy new, not second hand. 

Or if you are a blogger and have reviewed something along these lines – leave me a link to your review!

***update***
Had a quick look around THAT toy store today (you know… The huge one with Geoffrey the Giraffe) and wow… Just how many brands if dolly are there now?! Where do I start?

My Sunday Photo

April 13, 2014 in Baby development, Family, Photography, Silent Sunday, Twins, Uncategorized by Emma Day

The twins at 23 months (smaller file)

OneDad3Girls

I’m a 2014 MAD Blog Awards Finalist!

April 10, 2014 in Blogging, Radioactive mum, Uncategorized, Women, Working parent by Emma Day

I was not at all surprised that I didn’t make the finals in the main categories of the MAD Blog Awards 2014. This year’s competition was fierce, I only fit the most popular mainstream categories and there are genuinely so many other blogs out there, which were better than mine. I gracefully congratulated those that made the finals, feeling genuinely pleased for them.

What I hadn’t expected, was to be made a finalist a few days later, in the category for Outstanding Contribution. I hadn’t campaigned for votes in this category and the blogs that I was selected alongside are by strong, powerful writers who have all overcome incredible battles and done brilliant things for the blogging community.
MAD Blog Awards

I am so proud (and shocked) to have been selected alongside these bloggers, to be in the running for the 2014 Outstanding Contribution Award. I’m flattered and I feel proud, because I feel that I have achieved a lot in both fundraising and raising awareness for Cancer, in the last year. To have that recognised by others, is incredible. I am obviously, also, over the moon that I get to attend the Awards ceremony again later this year, as it was so much fun last year.

Last year, was like a dream come true and a fabulous compliment to my blogging, that I won the award for the Best Baby Blog.

I will be truly honoured to be there this year, representing this category, alongside nine utterly inspiring bloggers too.

Thank you so very much, to every one who took the time to nominate me for this award. It means a lot to me.

Scars #WednesdayWords

April 9, 2014 in Blog Hops / Memes / Linkies, Cancer, Charity / Awareness, Health, Medical, Poetry, Wednesday Words by Emma Day

Wednesday Words

Regular readers will know, I've just had surgery for an ectopic pregnancy. I have three surgical wounds to my tummy which are still very sore, but slowly healing. There is also a sad part of me that has lost a pregnancy. These scars will always remind me of that.

I already had three scars on my tummy from an operation when I had Pylonephritis and Septicaemia, when I was pregnant with Bunny.

I have many scars.

I have a scar across my chin, from where I slipped and headbutt the floor, when I was very little.

I have three from a hickman line in my chest, when I had Leukaemia.

I have a big scar across my neck, from Thyroid Cancer last year.

I even have several tiny scars on my hands and wrists, from having so many hospital canulas in.

With the exception of my ugly BCG scar, all of my scars tell a story. They are my war wounds and ugly as they may be to others, I'm not ashamed of them. They are all a part of what has made me the person I am today.

Sometimes remembering the battles we have overcome, help us to be strong.

So I felt this quote would be perfect for #WednesdayWords...

“Scars have the strange power to remind us that our past is real.” 
― Cormac McCarthyAll the Pretty Horses




Post-surgery update : Ectopic Pregnancy

April 8, 2014 in #EmmasArmy, Charity / Awareness, Health, Medical, Parenting, Pregnancy, Uncategorized, Women by Emma Day

Last Thursday I was in Gloucester Royal Hospital with an ectopic pregnancy, having a Laparoscopy (camera and probes in the belly) and one of my fallopian tubes removed. This was keyhole surgery, although I must say – my surgeon must have some rather large keys on his keyring, as my scar is over an inch long. (Photo at the end of this post – if you like gore!)

I was quite poorly after surgery, unable to swallow on the first night and sick for the first 12 hours. The pain was horrendous and in the early hours of Saturday morning I asked them to test me for a urine infection, because the pain seemed to be getting worse instead of better. I was right, and it turned out that on top of the surgery pain and all the pain of the gas pumped into my abdomen during surgery, I had a UTI.
image

I was on a vast concoction of painkillers and antibiotics, still in pain and developed a fever, but I was discharged on Sunday night regardless.

I didn’t feel ready, but I didn’t have much choice. There’s no remote controlled bed at home to help me get comfy, so I didn’t sleep well the first night. Half a day alone with the children, when I could barely move, was difficult too. 

My friend came over on Monday afternoon and is staying a few days to look after me and the girls, which is easing the pressure. I’ve mostly been sleeping since she’s been here. I feel very weak. The doctors have said it takes 4-6 weeks to recover, which is making me panic about my #EmmasArmy against Cancer campaign. Will I be fit enough to walk 104 miles in May on no training? I’m not allowed to drive for 2-4 weeks or work for 4-6 either so funds will be tight for the girls birthdays.

People don’t realise, until they’ve spent as much time in hospital as me, the impact it has on a families finances. 

Emotionally, I’m coping. I have weak moments where I cry. I wasn’t aware that I was pregnant for very long and I wasn’t very far gone, but it still would have been my baby and I am still feeling a loss, much more than I thought I would.

I had a crying session in hospital, where the feeling of grief hit me hard and suddenly. I sat up in bed and started sobbing hard. I went to leave the room to hide in the toilet and in that moment, I wanted to leave the hospital. I didn’t know where I wanted to go, but I felt crushed and trapped at the same time. After a cuddle with the patient in the next bed and a chat and reassuring arm from the nurse, I got back into bed, knowing I wasn’t well enough to leave.

I didn’t look after myself in hospital. I had no motivation to do anything. I refused to let the nurses change my bedding, I refused to follow the nurses advice to “mobilise” by walking up and down the corridor and I refused to wash. All I did in that hospital bed, was sleep, and sleep, and sleep, with the occasional cry or visitor in between. I woke only for blood pressure checks, food, the toilet and more painkillers.
image

In between sleeps I’d have short conversations with the other patients. We all knew each others bladder and bowel movements by time we left. I bonded well with the other patients in my room, and they kept me sane, but one by one they were discharged, until it was just me and one other left, that I’d spoken to.

Since I’ve been home, I’ve had a bath and changed my dressings, which made me feel a lot better. Recovery is going to be a long slow process, but I’ll get there. I always do.

WARNING:
Gory wound photo below…

 

belly button after laparoscopy

My belly button now

My ectopic pregnancy

April 4, 2014 in Charity / Awareness, Health, Medical, Pregnancy, Uncategorized, Women by Emma Day

Yesterday I wrote about the heartbreaking truth of my pregnancy. A lot has happened since then.

I spent Wednesday in hospital (Massive thank you to Sarah who blogs at Mum of Three World for looking after my twinningtons – you may have quite literally saved my life!). I went in for a scan to find out what gestation my pregnancy was, and if we were looking at one or two babies. The sonographer couldn’t find a foetus at all – on an external or an internal scan.

Another pregnancy test was taken and no surprise, it was still positive. So bloods were taken and my HCG levels were checked (pregnancy hormone). I was told that if they exceed 4000, then a foetus should be visible on the scan. I was called at home on Wednesday evening and told my HCG levels were just over 7000 and so I’d need to go back to hospital on Thursday for more tests.
They wanted to rule out an ectopic pregnancy. 

Yesterday morning, after having a sonography probe up me for half an hour, the foetus was found in my right fallopian tube. This is an ectopic pregnancy. I was immediately admitted to hospital for surgery. In an ectopic pregnancy, if not removed, the fallopian tube can rupture, causing internal bleeding, severe pain and me to collapse. They wanted to prevent this from happening.

By 11am, I was nil by mouth and up on a ward. The doctors used my hands as pin cushions until they could finally get a cannula into one of my tiny, traumatised veins. At 2:30 I was given a bed in a ward with five other lovely ladies. Mum and Hubs came to visit me with the children at 4pm. The children couldn’t stay long, but my mum, who’d travelled two hours on a train to get to me, stayed with me until 8pm, when I was finally called down for my surgery. Mum and I, have spent a lot of time together in hospitals, and it’s always her I want to be with before I go into theatre.

I was the last one on the list, so I was lucky I wasn’t made to wait until morning.

I enjoyed a few minutes of deep relaxation under sedatives, before they put me to sleep under general anaesthetic. For once I wasn’t frightened. But then hospitals have become like a second home to me now and I’ve had more operations over the years, than I could count.

I was having a laparoscopy – which is keyhole surgery. They insert a camera in just below my belly button, and two probes in to move things around. They located the fallopian tube with the foetus in, and removed it (the tube and the baby). This meant I didn’t need to have any larger incisions made, but it’s still quite traumatic surgery. As well as the pain from the wounds and from my organs being moved around (and a bit cut out), I have horrendous pain in my shoulder, neck and chest. This is called “shoulder-tip pain” and is a result of them pumping my stomach full of gasses, to see more closely what they were doing.

I woke up in a nice peaceful, dark recovery room, with a lovely nurse looking after me. I was given pain relief, after pain releif, after pain releif. Until eventually, at midnight, I was okay to be taken back to the ward.

I’m writing this post from my hospital bed, drugged up on painkillers but still close to tears. I’m in pain, I feel sick, I can’t eat, I feel groggy and I’m frightened of going home. I’ve been in such a bad way today, that no doctor has even considered letting me go home.

When I do go home, the twins will want to sit on my lap, and Hubs will probably underestimate how poorly I feel. I can’t be touched right now. Anywhere. But especially not my tummy.

The painkillers are thankfully holding back some of my emotions, but I know that soon it will dawn on me, that I’ve just lost a baby. It hasn’t sunk in yet. The grief is on pause.

The hardest part of this operation, for me, was signing “consent for the cremation of foetus and foetal remains”. Why do they have to write it like that? Why do they have to make me sign it at all? Can’t they just do what they have to do, discreetly?

I keep telling myself, I’m lucky it was early. My baby didn’t have a heartbeat yet. It would have been tiny and not even resembled a baby. It was a foetus. But in my head… it still would have grown into a baby. My baby.

But nature took it’s course. A pregnancy becoming ectopic is nobody’s fault. There’s nothing I could have done to prevent it and I did nothing to cause it. This baby just wasn’t meant to be.

At the moment I just feel numb. The reality of this hasn’t sunk in. People on Twitter have said “I’m so sorry for your loss”, but my body still thinks it’s pregnant. I still have the bloating, the nausea, the cravings, the wind and the sore boobs. I still feel pregnant and that could still go on for a few days, maybe even a week or two. Somebody please tell my body to accept this… so that I can.

I’m going to continue hitting the pain killers hard, until I’m discharged from hospital, so at least I can be at home, when I crumble and grieve.

 

Pregnant and heartbroken

April 3, 2014 in Cancer, Charity / Awareness, Family, Health, Medical, Parenting, Pregnancy, Uncategorized by Emma Day

If I ever publish this post… well then I’m either very brave or very stupid. This post will lose me some of my followers and some of my friends too. The cold, hard truth is, that people will judge me, because that’s what people do, when they can’t understand a situation. When they haven’t been there themselves. But I’ve written it for therapy. To try and understand what is happening in my own head…

I was told, that I should avoid having anymore children, due to the risk of HELLP Syndrome. But at the same time, I know in my mind, that there are people, who have survived HELLP Syndrome and gone on to have a healthy pregnancy afterwards. That knowledge has always left a little hope in my mind. I know how lucky I am to have survived and how lucky I am to have three beautiful daughters. I need to remind myself of that now, more than ever. 

I was also told that I shouldn’t get pregnant within 6 months of having my internal radiotherapy for Thyroid Cancer. That’s fine, I had no intentions of getting pregnant. Not until the twins are much older. My husband and I have been careful in the bedroom department and I even had the Depo Provera injection to make me baby-proof.

But something has gone amiss.

I am pregnant.

I went to see my Doctor, just a few hours after I lit up those two little lines. I was anxious, excited, terrified and hopeful, all rolled into one. 

I thought they’d tell me, that I was stupid, for somehow still getting pregnant, despite the precautions. I thought they’d tell me the pregnancy would be high risk and that I’d need monitoring all the way through. Consultant care and liaison with my oncologist as well as my obstetrician. 

But that’s not what happened at all.

I was told to wait in the waiting room, while my doctor made some calls. This was a very unusual situation. She was certain she knew the risks, but she had to check.

On calling me back in, I was told, that I can’t continue this pregnancy. Putting the risks to my own welfare aside, the risks to the baby, were just too high.

It was a crushing blow. I couldn’t breathe and I couldn’t speak. I just nodded, whilst my eyes filled with tears. 

She said she’d speak with the top specialist in the field, and call me back after the weekend. I allowed myself to hope. To hope they’d say “the risks aren’t actually that high – you have a choice”

The specialist also told me I can’t continue the pregnancy. An urgent abortion is being booked in my name.

I’m against abortion. I had one many many years ago, against my will, because I was bullied into it, by the man who got me pregnant. I didn’t tell anyone. I have lived with the shame and the grief, for all this time. I have a dark corner of my soul that will never see light, because of that experience.

The thought of having to do it now… is unbearable.

I didn’t plan this baby. I took steps to prevent it. The timing is not ideal. The possibility of facing HELLP Syndrome again is beyond terrifying. But now I’m pregnant… I want this baby so much.

I am a hugely maternal person. My children are my entire world. They are everything I live for. They are the definition of happiness. They are everything that is perfect in the world. I loved them, from the second I conceived them. I felt them. I grew them. They were a part of me. Just as this baby is now.

Yet I don’t have a choice.

Legally… Yes I do. I could refuse “treatment” (why do they call it that?). But no margin for choice has been left in the words those doctors have used. Terms as strong as “hideously deformed” and “it would have no kind of existence”, have been used.

You see… the radioactive iodine inside me, is still working to destroy all thyroid cells in my body – to eliminate the chances of my Cancer returning. The levels are very low, but it’s still working. 

As my baby develops… It will grow a thyroid too. And the radiation in my body… will destroy that thyroid. Without a thyroid, a baby can’t develop properly. They would be severely disabled, both physically, and mentally. If they survived at all. Those are the reasons, that my doctors say I must have a termination.

Doctors have saved my life, countless times. And I have to put my faith in them, that they are doing what is right. They are referring me for counselling, but I don’t think it will help.

I have requested to speak in depth about the extent of the risks with a foetal medicine expert too.

All I can do is cry. 

I feel pregnant in every way.

And that mother-foetus bond is already there. How do I say goodbye to that?

Right now I am an inconsolable wreck. I feel so alone, despite the fact my husband is going through it too. It’s happening inside me. The tears won’t stop and neither will the heartache.

I keep praying to miscarry naturally, so that I won’t have to go through with this. I walked past a Christian anti-abortion demonstration a few days ago. It made me feel like this will turn me from a good, kind, loving person into a dark evil creature who deserves to burn in hell.

It will damage me beyond repair. It will fill my life with a grief that I don’t know how to cope with. And the guilt – a burden I have to carry forever. 

I have a baby growing inside me, that I can’t keep. How can I possibly accept that?

If there is such a thing as Karma? What did I do that was so wrong?

*****UPDATE*****
Since writing this post, I have been diagnosed with an ectopic pregnancy. I no longer need to have an abortion, but life saving surgery to remove my fallopian tube, means I have now lost my baby. I had surgery on 3rd April 2014 and will blog about it soon.