Putting Our Baby First – A Difficult Decision

Some of you may have seen recently on my social media that we recently acquired a kitten. I was so looking forward to writing a short blog post to introduce her yet unfortunately things took a very serious turn for the worst. We had to make a very difficult decision but at the end of the day, naturally, we put Leilani our rainbow baby first and will be returning the kitten later today. I had wanted to write about how hard it was bringing her home, taking her away from her mummy. I felt awful that day as she meowed in the car, calling out for her mummy and siblings. I knew exactly what it felt like to have my baby taken away and it was such an emotional trigger. Fabian had to carry the little kitten Tigerlilly (aka Tigger) to the car as I couldn’t face the guilt I felt.

Getting her home however we soon fell in love. Our son Beau was smitten and actually Tigger loved him too! Beau was forever picking her up and bringing her to us and wanted to sit with her on the sofa. Most of the time he was surprisingly gentle. His eyes would always light up when he saw her and he would get so excited on a morning and after naps to go see her and have cuddles. This is why it has been a difficult decision. Not because I don’t know what needed to be done or what was best for Leilani but for the mum guilt I feel for the confusion it will have caused the kitten and her mummy along with the sadness Beau will feel. He is an animal lover through and through and this would have been his first pet, his own little kitten that was already his best friend which I’m now taking away.

 

Perhaps I should explain why we are actually returning her. A few months ago we went to the home of a good friend and were there for a few hours one evening. I could tell I was allergic to something, I always respond to allergies with rubbing my tongue against the top of my mouth, sometimes until it is extremely sore. I could tell that evening I was allergic and my asthma was starting to flare up. I was so relieved to have got in the car on the way home to get my inhaler. I asked Fabian if this friend had any pet rodents, because I know for certain I am allergic quite badly to rabbits and guinea pigs. I was shocked when he told me they only had cats and dogs however. I have had a blood test in the past which said I was mildly allergic to cats but I’ve owned 4 cats in my lifetime and work with them for a living – never once having had a reaction!

 

Nonetheless I presumed it must have somehow been a cat allergy and despite knowing she breeds cats I decided we couldn’t ever purchase a cat from her based on this incident. That was until Fabian spoke with his friend who suggested it could have been hay fever as there was a field nearby which had triggered her hay fever really badly too. I’ve suffered hay fever in the past so it seemed more plausible. We have two cats currently, Pebbles and Little Man. Pebbles is a “hypoallergenic” breed (Siberian Forest) and Little Man is a long haired moggie. They have two very different personalities and quite frankly Pebbles seems to find Little Man irritating most of the time. So we had been looking for quite a while for a friend for him to play with.

Financially we were not in a position to buy another Siberian, at least not from a reputable breeder which is so important after losing a cat to a disease called FIP which came from a dodgy breeder! We also didn’t think a Siberian would necessarily be the right cat to play with Little Man as they’re pretty laid back and we didn’t think getting another grumpy lazy cat was going to be of any benefit for what we needed. When our friend had some Bengal cross kittens we thought this would be perfect, a high energy breed that would actually engage and play with Little Man. We decided to go visit them and have a think. I never noticed any allergic reaction so I presumed all was good. We made the commitment and started to make payments and prepare our home for another kitty.

Each time we went to visit I never really noticed any allergic reaction, so it was much to my shock when I started getting symptoms as soon as we brought this little one home. I’m not sure if it was because I was now kissing her and she was sleeping right next to my face but I knew something wasn’t right. I wasn’t however rubbing my mouth though which confused me. I wasn’t having my “typical” allergic reaction. I noticed my eyes had become itchy and my face would tingle and feel a little itchy. Most worryingly however was my asthma which I had recently got under control with new meds was now starting to flare up. I’d managed to get to the point I wasn’t using my reliever at all yet since she came home I was having to use it several times a day.

One night my asthma got even worse. We had been out shopping and got home quite late but as soon as we walked into the house I was finding breathing strenuous. I took my two puffs of reliever medication but it had no effect. Despite often allowing my asthma to get out of control I have not had an asthma attack in about fifteen years. I didn’t know what to do because usually I feel instant relief with my two puffs. I can’t honestly tell you how scary it is when you realise you are struggling to breathe, especially when you are pregnant. I was so worried about getting oxygen to Leilani and fear of stillbirth was cropping into my head. Having a panic attack at the same time as an asthma attack isn’t exactly Ideal either.

I googled what to do, and kept taking my blue inhaler. I then started to panic because I didn’t want to overdose on meds either and effect Leilani! We discussed phoning the non-emergency line but it said they were busy and there could be a bit of a wait. Of course, not being able to breathe whilst pregnant after a loss we made the decision to phone for an ambulance. Typical me I started worrying about how tidy the bedroom was but physically couldn’t sort it nor was it appropriate so I waited in our living room, inhaler in hand until I saw the blue flashing lights. I felt embarrassed when they came inside and I wasn’t obviously gasping for breath but they happily did all their obs and asked me questions.

Surprisingly my oxygen was 100%, most likely due to how much meds I’d already taken. I could however still feel that deep breaths were difficult and felt an uncomfortable tightness in my throat. I know they normally say the tightness is felt in your chest and lungs but for me it was my windpipe in my throat I felt was not opening up fully. Because of this they recommended despite good obs that I could go to hospital to see the doctor or nurse but they didn’t feel they needed to give me a nebuliser at that moment. Immediately I felt it was the right thing to do, eager to talk with a doctor and find out what their opinion was on it being an allergic reaction. We are also super cautious after losing Silver so both felt it was best to get checked out for our peace of mind.

It was not an ideal situation as we couldn’t get hold of my parents but still had Beau to look after. So I had to go alone to hospital which if I hadn’t done this so many times before (unfortunately mainly with mental health issues) I would have been too anxious to go alone. I might add now that it was about 2am at this point. Nonetheless Fabian got Beau out of bed and followed in the car to the hospital. Beau was still asleep when he arrived so they sat in the car for quite a while. I was taken to the general waiting room and saw the assessment nurse. She said all my obs were fine and that A&E probably wouldn’t see me because of this. She then went outside to talk to someone about me and I heard them mentioning maternity and her explaining the situation but I couln’t grasp what was happening.

I was sent back to the waiting room, told that someone would come do my obs again in a little while and if all was still okay I would soon be going home. Ironic how I was sat there panicking thinking I wouldn’t get to see a doctor at all and debating phoning the labour ward myself to see if I could go speak with one of their doctors instead. I didn’t however expect what did happen. I was greeted in the waiting room and took to the assessment side for actually getting admitted to A&E! They put me on a bed, asked a few questions before then insisting I needed a blood test! Anyone who knows me will say I am not a fan of needles. I don’t normally mind blood tests because I use numbing cream half an hour before hand and never feel a thing. I mentioned this and they instead tried reassuring me by saying they wouldn’t do a cannula and would use a small needle. Fabian had literally just left me from the waiting room as he’d brought Beau in so he could use the toilet but then he’d gone back out to the car to drive around to lull Beau back to sleep.

I’ve never had a blood test or injection on my own before but they said they would use freeze spray, something I know can work pretty well after they used it at Newcastle for me. I also reminded myself of how brave I had been for Silver and all the scary procedures I had gone through to try and save her so I of course agreed to the blood test. Plus, they said the doctor wouldn’t be willing to see me if I didn’t have one done… I used my calm hypnobirthing breathing and let’s just say the freeze spray did not work! I don’t think he put enough on for long enough, but wow blood tests really hurt. I really want to donate blood after this pregnancy to repay the five bags Silver received but this has put me off slightly for the meantime.

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I still expected them to put me back into the waiting room so it was a shock when a nurse came to wheel my bed to a cubicle at the A&E side. In hindsight with how long I was there I am eternally grateful I had a bed. It was too noisy to sleep but at least I was comfortable. They kept checking on me every now and again, doing obs. I was very glad to find the hospital had free Wi-Fi because I only got to see the doctor at 9am… Yep I was laid in that bed waiting for over five hours. I saw just about everything Instagram and Pinterest had to offer and was so glad when people started to wake up the next day so I could actually talk to someone. Leilani also kept me company and I did spend a fair bit of time staring at my belly waiting to see kicks as she apparently couldn’t sleep either!

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After speaking with the doctor and explaining I was still feeling tight in my throat the plan was made to be put on a nebuliser and then do a “peak flow”. Basically, I blow into a tube and how much I blow is measured by how far a little arrow travels. 350-370 is about my normal. I’d managed about 270 with the ambulance crew but after the nebuliser I got 350! The doctor advised he believed the asthma attack was triggered by weather changes and the kitten and that for my own health and wellbeing and that of Leilani he would recommend rehoming Tigerlilly so that I am avoiding allergens as much as I can.

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I can’t tell you how thankful I was when I was told at around 9.20am that I could leave. I was sleep deprived and starving (no vegan food available), craving my comfy bed. We now had a difficult decision to make, but first sleep was on the agenda. I was heartbroken but after having a good long chat me and Fabian both decided we needed to take the kitten back. Most people might say this would be an easy decision to make, to put mine and Leilani’s health first. But we were absolutely heartbroken. We had all fallen in love and even our older cats had started to play with her (mainly pebbles) and get along. She had fit perfectly into our life and we felt complete as a family. Beau was so overjoyed and we felt awful knowing we were taking away his best friend.

Health of course prevailed and we knew what needed to be done. We didn’t want to take any risks to Leilani’s health during this pregnancy nor did we want that added anxiety after finally finding out she is a healthy little baby. I am looking forward to not being itchy or out of breath but we will miss her like crazy. I feel protective of her as a cat mum and already worry that I hope she will have a perfect loving home as she did with us because she is such a playful little bundle of joy who deserves the perfect family.

Our plan going forward now is to instead save our pennies to purchase Beau a Siberian Forest cat. I know it’s not quite the temperament we were looking for initially for Little man but in all fairness, he was absolutely terrified of this kitten and it ended up Pebbles was the one to play with her. So to be on the safe side we are going to stick with a breed we know is allergy friendly and look into purchasing one next year after Leilani is born, perhaps as a third birthday present for Beau. They cost anywhere from £600 up so we couldn’t possibly outlay that money now to buy one before Leilani. Perhaps I should have trusted my instincts when I reacted at our friends home that time in the summer but at least we have addressed the issue as swiftly as possible so emotions can easily recover and my body can get back to normal too.

What can I say, we learn from our mistakes and unfortunately, we didn’t take my blood results from all those years ago seriously. Maybe we should have known not to risk it whilst I was pregnant, as I might have been more willing to live with it had I not been providing for two people. I have after all in the past owned guinea pigs for ten years and as I mentioned earlier, I’m very allergic to these! Hindsight is a wonderful thing but I’m pleased to say Leilani is well and most of that night in hospital she was non-stop kicking and wriggling. Her heartbeat check was fine later on that day and we are just pleased everyone is safe and healthy.

Until next time,

Holly x

(She is currently laid asleep on my lap as I write this, my face is itchy and my heart is breaking but I am glad to have these last slightly uncomfortable cuddles with her before she goes back to her mummy. Here’s a few pics below from writing this blog)