Bellies, Babies and Bruises

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For Women Living With ITP,

ITP Pregnancy, gestational thrombocytopenia, immune thrombocytopenia during pregnancy, breastfeeding with ITP, birth with ITP, ITP birth plan, low platelet pregnancy A Book About ITP and Pregnancy

In 2009, Meg Brewster was given a copy of her family tree. Looking back through the generations, she wondered if the family tree would stop with her or would she be able to have a baby while living with ITP and APS?

Meg had heard the risks of bleeding, bruising and infertility involved in ITP and Pregnancy. But were they real? Had she only heard the horror stories. She wondered what it would actually be like to have a baby with ITP, and if it was going to be as complicated as everyone had led her to believe.

Seven years in the making, this is the story of an ITP pregnancy; Including research and interviews with other women about their ITP pregnancies.

BELLIES BABIES AND BRUISES was inspired by Meg’s personal journey with ITP and APS while pregnant. ITP is an autoimmune disorder that causes bleeding and clotting problems in its patients. APS is a clotting disorder that is commonly associated with ITP and low platelet counts.

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About the Author, Meg Brewster

meghan brewster, author, how to heal a bruise, itp blood disorderMeg was diagnosed with immune thrombocytopenia when she was 22 years old. She struggled to read dense medical journals and scholarly articles to learn more about her ITP. What was missing from the ITP conversation was information from other patients about what immune thrombocytopenia was really like to live with. 

In 2012, Meg set up ITPANDME. It’s now one of the largest ITP blogs in the world. Meg loves writing about ITP, hearing other women’s stories and helping women with ITP connect.

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Praise for How to Heal a Bruise

The book includes lots of ITP information such as, the science, history, tips and guides, alongside strong emotional support. It is now my own ITP Bible! I could not recommend it more highly! FULL REVIEW HERE from Katie Meloy

Beyond being a book documenting scientific and medical information, is the personal experience of Megan Brewster after seven years of living with this blood disorder…I couldn’t stop reading.  FULL REVIEW HERE from Laura

‘My partner and I absolutely love your blog and find many of your post’s to be just what we are looking for.’ Andy USA

‘Thank you for your thoughts…they’ve helped me with finding perspective in our reality.’ Jenny Australia

‘Love the way you write…you made me chuckle.’ Bron Australia

‘Thank you for writing this, it will surely help the newbies.’ Padma, India

Features

  • Stories of pregnancy from women with ITP.
  • Meg’s personal journey with ITP and Pregnancy
  • Information about natural and caesarean births.
  • Information for breastfeeding mothers with ITP.

Bellies Babies and Bruises: An ITP Book for Women and Babies

When Things Go Well, Do You Put it Down to Luck?

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Feature image from CHRIS BRACEY

The other day I was chatting with a friend about how well everything was going with the ITP pregnancy.  When I told her that my platelet count was high, my baby was happy and healthy, my doctors were pleased, and that I felt wonderful, I instantly added on the end – I am really lucky!  She stopped me right there.

She stopped me right there.

It was a good friend of mine who pointed out that it was not luck at all!  She drew my attention to everything my husband and I have done to make sure our pregnancy went well.

  • We found the best doctors available to us and moved 6.5 hours from our home to see them.
  • We traveled back and forth between Sydney and the South Coast to attend appointments including flying while morning sick and pregnant.
  • I was eating healthy, paying attention to diet, nutrition and cravings.
  • I researched all my medications, learnt about their side effects and took measures to combat them.
  • I read up on everything I needed to know about high-risk pregnancies.
  • We went to parent information classes.
  • I sought advice and support from people around me.
  • I pursued alternative health remedies, took herbs and supplements, drank teas, and received remedial massage.
  • I went to a KINESIOLOGIST (All though truth be told, she came to me)
  • …and a CHIROPRACTOR.
  • I walked every day.
  • I went to ballet
  • …and did yoga regularly,
  • and I was meditating to stay healthy and positive.

And yet, I am so quick to tell people how ‘lucky’ I am to be happy and healthy.

Luck would be everything going well if I did nothing to help myself.  Luck would be a positive outcome despite making no effort at all.  Luck is about success or failure brought about by chance rather than through one’s own actions.

Why am I so reluctant to say “Yeah, I fuck’en did this!”?

I did a little research on the matter and discovered that this is a trend I couldn’t ignore.  It turns out, as a group, women are more likely to attribute their success to luck and to blame themselves for their failures.  I did a lot of reading.  It is a real thing.

From the book SEX DIFFERENCES in Depression by Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, several studies have shown that ‘women tend to make more external attributions… attributing outcomes to luck or task difficulty.’  

Dr. Jacqueline Hornor Plumez also writes in her book, THAT BITCH IN YOUR HEAD, that when women fail, their inner voice says, “Dummy – You blew it,” but when they succeed, it says, ” Wow! You were lucky!”  Men tend to think the opposite: When they fail, men are statistically more likely to blame the situation or someone else but when they succeed, men take credt for being smart and competent.

When you attribute things in your life to luck, you are less likely to take credit for your success.  I need to stop telling myself that when I am unwell, I deserve it and when I am healthy – I am lucky.

When I first wrote this article I had no idea how my pregnancy was going to turn out.  Now I know that everything was more amazing than I could have hoped for.  While there were a few moments of pure luck (Having ana amazing midwife on duty when we arrived and being placed in the best room on the ward) mostly it came down to being fit, prepared, healthy, positive, determined, strong, educated, informed, and open to change – It certainly wasn’t because of LUCK!

ITP Autoimmune Birth Plan; Labour with Low Platelets

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In the lead up to delivery, I thought a lot about Birth Plans with ITP.  Makes sense right?  We were about to have a little ITP Baby and I wanted to know what that meant, how my ITP was going to change things and what potential risks we should be aware of.

By simply writing an ITP Birth Plan, I was forced to research my options and educate myself about what may happen during our birth.  Even if no one ever reads our birth plan (which I doubt will happen) I know I will have gone through to process of preparing myself for all the possible options during birth.

I thought it was important to share my thoughts and planning, especially to help others get around this very huge time and to make a plan for themselves.

I felt wonderful after I finished writing my own ITP Birth plan.  Unfortunately, he came before I got a chance to read through the draft and get it printed.

So what is a Birth Plan?

A birth plan is a way of clearly communicating to those around you what you would like, need and expect during the birth.  Birth Plans usually include both your medical and emotional needs during labour.  They are a clear way to communicate your wishes and needs to your medical professionals, your labour support people and your friends and family.

This is by no means a comprehensive list of everything you need to consider – Think of these more as ideas and thoughts that will send you on your way to getting a great birth plan.  The following ITP Birth Plan is intended for those having a hospital birth.  If you are well enough to have a home birth then not everything below will apply to you.

Many might laugh at the mention of a birth plan.  “Planning your birth,” they quaff, “You can’t plan a birth, it will be however it will be.” – Not true.

Times have changed.  These days, women and families have options, choices and are taking more and more control over their birthing experience.  But there is some truth in the statement, “You can’t possibly plan how a birth is going to go.” So instead of thinking of it as a ‘Birth Plan’, perhaps think of is as your birthing intentions or strategy.

 

What Does an ITP Birth Plan Look like?

This was something that confused me for a long time, what does a birth plan actually look like?  Where do I write it and in what format?  This is the best answer I received…

A birth plan looks like a single typed piece of paper that can be read at a glance by a lot of people.  You print it out, bring it to the hospital, and hand it to your midwife or doctor or nurse when you arrive.

Birth plans are normally photocopied on arrival and inserted into your file so it can be read at a glance by each of your caring practitioners.

Keep it Short, Simple & Easy to Read

A birth plan will preferably be written in clear simple sentences.  Our midwife suggested dot points under simple headings. Labor | After the Birth | Breastfeeding | Hospital Stay?  You can choose the headings.

What to Consider when Writing your ITP Birth Plan?

Below are a few things to consider when making your birth plan.  It includes all the research I considered when writing mine.

  • Antenatal Classes – Parent Education classes.  Birthing Classes.  Breastfeeding classes.  Research which you would like to attend and book it in as early as possible.  They are all different.  Depending on where you do your Parent Education classes, will influence the advice you are given for writing your birth plan.
  • A Birthing Companion – Who would you like to have with you during the birth? What roles would you like them to play?  Is your partner primarily there to care for you?  Is your birthing companion familiar with your bleeding disorder?  Do they know your medical history?  Will they be an effective advocate for you if you are unable to speak for yourself?  Who is looking after your partner?  Who do you NOT want to be with you during the labour?
  • When to arrive at hospital? Many healthy pregnant women stay home as long as possible in the early stages of labour, before arriving at the hospital.  This is not always the case with ITP.  Be sure to ask staff when you should present to hospital. You might need a platelet count straight away.
  • Inductions – Because of my personal bleeding risk, as well as the combination of medication I was taking, I was counselled towards having a planned induction at 38 weeks.  Having an induction will allow the medical staff to create a more controlled environment for me to labour within, ultimately giving me the best chance of a natural labour overall.
  • Pain Relief –  Pain relief was hard to make a plan for – especially with my first birth as I had no idea what was coming.  I had no idea if I would be able to handle it? I didn’t know what my mental state would be on the day of the birth, so I researched everything and decided to include on my birth plan, ‘Do not offer pain relief until requested’.
  • Epidural – If your platelet count is too low you may not be able to or wish to have an epidural.  This is due to the risk of bleeding around the epidural site, which can cause paralysis.  If a caesarian is performed and you do not have an epidural you’ll be totally knocked out instead or awake.  Frown.  My medication was altered in the lead up to birth to give me the best possible chance of a higher count and to be awake.
  • IV Line – Would you like an IV Line inserted during active pregnancy so blood can be given quickly?  I have read online that many people are against having an IV line inserted as it is seen as a means of hospital staff being lazy.  But what about your comfort?  I personally would prefer being pricked with a needle once over being pricked 10 times!  If you or your medical team are anticipating blood and fluids being regularly received, then why not prepare for it?

ONE FIT MOM blogged about her experience with gestational thrombocytopenia and how she changed her birth plan with her Midwife as information changed.

We reviewed our birth plans with the midwife, and she recommended that A) I have an IV saline lock inserted during active labour to allow for an emergency access point if my blood volume drops precipitously due to hemorrhaging; and B) I allow them to give me a shot of oxytocin immediately after the baby is born, in order to stimulate uterine contractions and expulsion of the placenta, and thus reduce the risk of a post-partum hemorrhage. We agreed to both recommendations, as they sounded like reasonable precautions. ‘

  • The Third Stage of Delivery – Did you know there was a third stage?  The third stage is the delivery of the placenta.  Did you know that there is a drug that can be injected into you to make the placenta come quicker?  Did you know that your body does not need this drug at all to deliver the placenta?  Ask your doctors about this well before birth.
  • Staying in Hospital – Monitoring the baby and you after the delivery.  Make a plan in case this happens, ask what your options are if you badly want to go home.  We were very unprepared for the length of time we had to stay in the hospital.  While we talked about having to stay for about a week, the reality of it was very hard to deal with.  We should have prepared for food, laundry and support well before it was an actuality.
  • Emergency Plans – Unexpected situations.  The definition of an emergency is a serious, unexpected, and often dangerous situation requiring immediate action.  As soon as you make a plan for an emergency then by definition, it is not an emergency anymore as it is not unexpected.  It is simply a different thing.  While many people might consider having an Emergency Plan another way of expecting the worst, I found it incredibly calming and empowering to know I had a plan in place.
  • Things to include not specifically about ITP – Your intentions for breastfeeding, any special needs you have with regard to diets, allergies, religious or cultural preferences, previous medical history, and any kind of disability that requires special assistance.

For me, making a Birth Plan with ITP was about letting go of ‘the Perfect Birth’ and understanding the many possibilities and outcomes of my birth.  Making a birth plan with ITP was about understanding that there is no ‘right’ – or better way to bring this baby into the world; just the safest option at the time for myself and my baby (considering and factoring chaos and confusion into the equation.)

Our son’s birth was such a crazy adventure that I laughed out loud when I read over our ‘birth plan’.  But regardless of the fact we did not use it or need it in the end, the process of preparing, researching and putting together the birth plan gave me confidence and knowledge which lead to an overall calmer, happier and more informed birthing experience.

Recommended Reading – I recommend reading ‘Calling for BIRTH PLAN IDEAS‘ from a woman who wrote a comprehensive birth plan with ITP.

More on writing your own birth plans check out Belly Belly’s article WHY WRITE A BIRTH PLAN and The Bump’s Birth Plan TEMPLATE to get you started.  Remember these are just starting points for you to begin creating your own unique Birth Plan that you feel comfortable with.

 

Your January Detox

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There is something uplifting about the month of January.  For me, it’s full of new diaries, crisp calendars, goals, resolutions, new starts and second chances.  On Instagram, I read a great quote that said 2015 WAS JUST THE WARM UP.  Such a great attitude I think.

Now is the time to set the standard for a brand new year.  If you missed the 1st of January deadline, who cares?  Start today, or start tomorrow.  The important thing is that you start to make a few changes.

Detox from Alcohol.

It creeps in, even when you don’t mean to.  Firstly, and before you do anything else, do not beat yourself up about it.  Remember the pleasure before you beat yourself up about it.  Think about all the delicious treats you enjoyed over the holidays, savour it all and now move on.

I’m not drinking at the moment, for obvious reasons, but I definitely do love drinking a little too much (Whoops).  Lots of people in Australia like to schedule their Alcohol Detox for later in the year, during the middle of Winter when there is not much happening.  Dry July is a great way to spend a month without alcohol.  It can be really easy because lots of people are doing it with you.

If you don’t want to spend your fun Summer Holidays without an ice cold Apple Cider, then think about booking in Dry July now.  If you make the commitment now, it will be harder to back out later.

Detox from Social Media.

Friends on Pinterest with new boyfriends suddenly making Pinterest boards devoted to how much they love fresh cut flowers in vases in the middle of tables, trying to pretend they are not secretly planning their weddings, instead of just making the boards private.

And seeing quotes about how blessed and grateful all your friends are because it is a new year.  Forget about it all.  There are no pictures of them actually doing Yoga on a stand-up paddle board, it is the same image you have seen a thousand times before of one woman, doing it once.

What you might learn if you DO A SOCIAL MEDIA DETOX 

 

Detox from Complaining

What consumes your mind, will fill your life.  These are wise words to live by.  Complaining is not about being in a bad mood, it’s about focusing on the problem without bothering to think of a solution.  Complaining is when you dwell on problems without moving forward or bitching about things that cannot be changed.

If the holidays put you in a bit of a stress, or you simply don’t realise how much you complain, then what about a little detox from complaining (or being negative and whiny)

The 40 DAY COMPLAINING FAST

Detox from Buying Things

I spent way too much money over Christmas.  I don’t feel bad about it, I wanted to.  I love buying presents and giving them to people, it’s all part of the holiday fun for me.  But I make sure to balance my spending.  In January, I like to spend as little as possible to make up for my pre-Christmas splurge.  January is about exercising, eating healthy, catching up with friends and going slow over the summer holidays.

I normally buy a new pair of swimmers and a big bottle of sunscreen and that’s it for the month.

Take the SHOPPING DETOX for one month here.

 

 

A Healthy Change for the New Year

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Feature image from BALLOONTIME

It is almost time for the new year.  This is the time when my life is filled with two things, New Years Eve plans and New Years Resolutions.  While New Years Eve parties are a grand farewell to the year past, it is our New Years Resolutions that keep up looking forward with fresh eyes and renewed promise.  Making resolutions is one thing, keeping them is something else entirely.  So how can we make sure we keep our New Years Resolutions for 2016 and what is the best way to make them?

For me, New Years Eve parties have always felt like a happy but final sendoff to the year gone by.  They are a finish to everything that has come in the previous year, whether it be positive or challenging (or if you had a nasty year, a really great wake).  New Years Eve has always felt like a goodbye.

New Years Resolutions have always felt like a hello.  To me, they are a way of welcoming the new year and of planning ahead to ensure my future will be a little brighter.

1. Begin by looking back over the past year.  Making resolutions of all the thing I want to change can often leave me feeling like a bit of a failure.  The act of sitting down and writing all the things I should do better, haven’t done or aren’t very good at, can be pretty demoralising – so instead I begin my resolutions by looking back on everything I have already achieved.

I divide my year up into different categories – for example, Family, Work, Health, Adventures, Love, Me, Education… (whatever you like).  Then write down every great thing that happened in those categories.  This makes New Years Resolutions more of a process of filling in the gaps.  Now take a look at the year that has past.  Which categories did you ignore?  Where could you focus more attention?

2. See how far you have come.  It is important to see how far you have come in just one year.  This process will put you in a positive mind to write your new years’ resolutions.  It will help you to see just how much is possible in a year and what you are already able to achieve.

3. Plan your next year.  Now you are ready to write your resolutions for 2016.  This is a great time to simply plan your year, look at what is ahead and start to get prepared and excited.  Make sure you are writing a positive plan for the year to come, with plenty of rewards, adventures and joy.

What does this have to do with ITP?  Have you considered your autoimmune disorder in your New Years Resolutions?  This year I am making a special mention of ITP as I sit down to plan 2016.  These are the questions I am asking myself…

  • What have I been wanting to try, but keep putting off?
  • Which treatments have I attempted but never really committed to?
  • What treatments have you been sceptical about?  And how can I be more open minded?
  • How am I going to approach my ITP this year?

 

2016 is a long time, and there are plenty of months to try, stumble and try again before you sit down to plan 2017.  Is this the year you try meditation?  Is 2016 the year you commit to returning to exercise?  Is this the year you slowly begin to overhaul your diet?

What are your New Years Resolutions for 2016?  Sharing your resolutions can help you commit to them and motivate you to see them through.

Add them to the comments below.

 

Christmas Books

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Feature image from BOOKSHELFPORN

Simple gift ideas for people with ITP and Autoimmune disorders, or perhaps a nice selection for yourself.  These books will make excellent presents and insightful holiday reading.  Enjoy.

ITP and Christmas, gifts for people with ITP, Blood disease itp, itp platelet disease, itp autoimmune diseaseWOMEN AND AUTOIMMUNE DISEASE, by Robert G. Lahita

The mysterious ways your body betrays itself.  Robert G. Lahita, is the doctor who wrote the textbook on autoimmune disease for medical professionals, as well as a layperson’s book on rheumatoid arthritis.  Here he concentrates here on how autoimmune diseases afflict women, who make up 75% of cases nationwide.

A cutting-edge examination of the mysterious world of autoimmune disease—and the new discoveries made daily that may save women’s lives.  Through case studies, he reveals the early warning signs, symptoms, diagnostic processes, and the most innovative treatments for all the most common—and many of the less well known—autoimmune diseases. He offers a scientifically sound and sensitive work that is the best resource available to help understand these perplexing and debilitating diseases.

Make Peace with your Plate, wellness warrior, ITP, low platelet count, low Platelets, ITP disease, immune system disease, living with itp.MAKE PEACE WITH YOUR PLATE, by Jess Ainscough

Jess tragically passed away in February of this year and while her BLOG is currently (at the time of writing this post) inactive, there is a lot to be said about her positive message.  Jess Ainscough was a warrior of joy, health, positive body image, following you instincts, nurturing your body, and making peace with food.

Her book is a wonderful read with great recipes and an obtainable message.  Take care of yourself as best you possibly can with as much information as you have at the time. Continue reading