2 months

Wow, our little Libby is 2 months old today!  2 whole months since she flipped our lives upside down!  It’s been one hell of a journey….but one we wouldn’t change for the world (yep, even the meltdowns).  I’ve learned a few things that you don’t ordinarily learn about on the web….little nuggets you’re not told about!

Smell

Everyone talks about how lovely babies smell….”oooo they have that lovely new baby smell”.  Yep, not Libby.  She mostly smells of sick.  And if she doesn’t smell of sick, she smells of rancid farts!  I never realised how smelly such a little person could be.  Her bum wiffs…I’ve had to apologise for it!  I’m sure people think its me and I’m just blaming the baby!  Nope, I assure you she farts like a grown man (both smell ad sound).

Poop Rainbow

So here it is, poop goes through a varying degree of colours.  They start off black, then green like Pesto, then chicken korma.  And various consistencies.  We’ve had the pesto, watery poop that needed to be caught in a nappy and she needed to be changed vertically.  And then the korma, walnut whips.  Everyone tells you that your baby will crap for Britain and you’ll be changing shitty nappies every 5 minutes.  No-one tells you that your breastfed baby might not shit…we’re this end of the spectrum.  Yep, every 10 days for our Libby.  And when she does go, it’s 10 days worth and keeps coming, and coming and coming!  Yep, I’ve been full on sharted on, just as we’re leaving the house!  Grim!

Shart 💩

Bloody vomit

Yes, our wee one loves a good old chunder!  She definately hasn’t got her father’s iron stomach but she does have her dad’s appetite.  She guzzles until she’s sick (or to give it it’s proper title, possetting). So we’d had the health visitor around one day, doing all the checks.  They are pleased breast feeding is going well.  As they leave, Libby feeds and it’s a wee bit sore.  Then she vomits….not just the normal milk but full of blood.  Of course I’m absolutely panic stricken that I’ve broken my baby and ring the hospital.  They’ve obviously heard it many a time and tell me that it’s my nipples bleeding.  Honest, it was like a blood bath, Libby wasn’t phased though!!  Thankfully, with support from the Breastfeeding consultants, we’ve not been through that again and I’m loving breastfeeding.

Milking a cow

I’m not shy about breast feeding.  I’ll happily feed anywhere – this has included in front of my godson.  So I’m happily feeding Libby whilst he’s patiently waiting to cuddle her, sat next to me.  Then the questions start:

J: How is Libby getting her food?

Me: From my boobie, she has milk

J: Can I give her milk?

Me: Erm, no, just girls can make milk and only if they’ve had a baby

J: Really – so how does it come out?

Me: Well you know how cows have udders, my boobies are like udders and milk comes out of them.  I also have a special machine that milks my udders!

*cue lots of giggles and cries of eeeewwwwww*. Don’t you just love kids!

Babies sense of smell

Babies have an incredible sense of smell.  Not that anyone has ever scientifically proved this but I can tell you for a fact it’s true.  How do I know?  Well, you can absolutely guarantee that as soon as dinner is served, a once deep sleeping Libby will wake up and shreik like the world is going to end.  I’ve definitely got used to tepid dinners and cold brews.  I didn’t quite believe people when they said you’ll never enjoy a warm brew again.  I’ve actually become quite accustomed to a cold brew.  Most of the time it’s not because the wee one is playing up, it’s because my baby brain forgets I’ve got one!  DOH!

6 week devil

We’ve been super lucky and have a placid, content little girl.  We absolutely believe that hypnobirthing is the reason why.  Everyone comments on how chilled she is.  But at 6 weeks old, we had the devil on our hands.  You’re not told that your little one will change overnight and learn to properly cry and completely meltdown at nothing.  It came as a bit of a shock and I won’t lie, I had a few meltdowns too.  If your baby is a crier from the start then you deal with it and become able to cope.  It was completely new to us and no matter what we did some nights, she just wasn’t happy.  I hated myself for the times I got cross and upset.  I had to walk out of the room and leave Scott to deal with it.  I hated that Libby was all we’d ever wanted and now I was getting angry with her.  Angry I didn’t know what was wrong.  Sometimes it was just something as simple as her not wanting her pants on…other times we didn’t know what was wrong and just kept on trying to please her until she’d exhausted herself crying.  Thankfully these days are rare!

Our little princess is now getting to that nice stage where she recognises mummy and daddy and smiles and chats to us.  We had FaceTime with daddy for the first time tonight and she was absolutely glued to the screen watching him.  Every day is precious and I think of the journey we’ve had to get her and it makes every moment even more precious.  I do often think about the babies before.  Would Libby have had older siblings, how would she have been being the little sister.  But then I think of how very fortunate we are to have her.  She was the perfect one we got to keep and I absolutely wouldn’t change it for the world.  He journey made us who we are and the parents we have become for her.

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Rainbow

”After every storm comes a rainbow”

Our Rainbow, Libby Mae Iris, arrived safely and swiftly into the world on Friday 23rd February 2018 at 3.51am weighing 7lb 1oz of pure perfection.  

We’d had an appointment at the Rainbow Clinic on the Thursday morning.  I was having my final scan and my 3rd sweep.  This was it, my last chance to get this baby out naturally.  At that appointment we were told that the induction date would be brought forwards from the following Monday to Saturday – just 2 days away!  I desperately didn’t want an induction, it went against all of my hypnobirthing practice. We were also told that it looked like baby’s growth had slowed down since the last scan, but they think the measurement from the last scan was an anomaly so it was brushed off. I left the appointment feeling deflated, crying for most of the day.  My positive attitude taken away from me by hospital protocol.

I spent most of the day bouncing on my ball, willing this baby out.  I went for a long walk, ate pineapple then cooked a hot thai green curry.  It still didn’t feel hot enough and I knew I’d have to up the ante to bring on labour.  Cue the “Ghost Chilli powder”.  If the 8th hottest chilli in the world couldn’t assist getting this baby out, nothing could. So I’m sat eating tea when I start to feel these odd twinges.  I’d had cramps pretty much all week but this was different.  I had pain continuously, then it went, then it came back.  Ever so calmly I say to Scott “Erm, I think I might be in labour”.  What timing!!  He didn’t quite believe me so set up a timer to see how far apart they were.  We timed for about 20 minutes and it turns out that my contractions are 3 minutes apart.  We need to ring the hospital at this point.

By 9.30 we’re packed in the car with our bags, ready to start the most memorable journey we will make.  I’ve got my hypnobirthing relaxation on and I’m in the zone….well as much as you can be in the car!  My breathing techniques are helping with the contractions and I feel ready to do this.

In triage I’m checked over and told that I’m only 3 cm Dialated so technically not yet in labour.  They give me the option to go home or wander around the hospital for a couple of hours.  Given that home is 30 mins away, we chose to stay at the hospital.  I return to be checked over again and they tell me that I’m now 4cm dialated and in labour!  Hurrah!  This means that I get to go up to the delivery suite and can completely get into the zone.  I’m hooked up to a monitor so they can see how baby is responding to the contractions.  At this point I’m still trying to hypnobirthing as good as I can but I cannot fully get into the zone as I know I’m going to be moved around again.

During the time in triage, a midwife comes to talk to me.  They are waiting for a bed but there are discrepancies with my notes so they can’t decide whether to send me to the higher risk consultant led labour ward or the standard delivery suite, equipped with birthing pool.  I need to speak to the consultant and persuade her that I’m not a high risk delivery (All the midwifes are apparently trying to talk the consultant into letting me go to the delivery suite – we’ve caused quite a debate!) Apparently, at the Rainbow Clinic appointment they had noted the query on baby’s growth and also the change in induction date.  This made the consultant feel uneasy as to her, it looks like there is a problem.  I manage to persuade them to allow me to go to the delivery suite and wait to be taken off the monitor.

Whilst chatting to the consultant, hooked up to the monitor, there’s a loud pop followed by a gush of water.  I feel our baby almost shoot down lower.  “Oh F$£k my waters have gone” I tell the consultant, who is now sat in my puddle laughing at my announcement!  The sensation of the waters breaking and the baby dropping made me want to throw up!  URGH!

As they are happy to take me to the delivery suite, they prepare to take me off the monitor, however, just as they are taking me off, they notice a problem.  As I’m contracting, baby’s heartbeat is dropping significantly.  They monitor me for a couple more contractions and decide that they are worried enough to send me to the labour ward!  At this point I’m completely in the zone and past caring what they will do. The contractions are getting stronger and closer together, I just need to get to a room and really use my hypnobirthing techniques.  I’m beginning to have doubts that this will work – I just want gas and air now, surely it’ll help with the pain.  The midwife comes to take us to the labour ward  “I can’t do this anymore” I tell her.  She suggests we leave and go up to the labour ward now but I insist on getting changed (come on, I’ve wet myself, let me have some dignity).  I didn’t know it at the time but the midwife was keen to get me up onto the ward quickly as she knew baby was coming imminently due to my change in state of mind.

We make it up to the labour ward and I climb onto the bed and drape myself over the head of the bed, eyes closed and attempting to get in the zone.  The pain is immense and I feel the urge to push – I’m convinced I just need to poop….I can’t be at the point of pushing given I was only 4cm just over an hour ago!.  I’m hooked up to a portable heart monitor so I can move around.  But with every contraction, baby’s heart rate is dropping.  The midwife remains calm but instructs me to turn over to hook me up to a wired heart monitor so they can get a more accurate reading.  I do as I’m told – each movement is so difficult – I can’t focus on anything and try my hardest to follow my hypnobirthing – each contraction is taking me closer to meeting our baby.  Once I’m hooked up, they are still struggling to get baby’s heart rate and I need to move onto my side as they can’t find a heartbeat at all.  The midwife is getting concerned and tells us that she might have to pull the emergency cord and the room will flood with people.  I’m still feeling the urge to push and carry on going through the motions.  The midwife takes a look and tells us that our baby will be born imminently. She can see the head.  I keep on pushing and feel the head come out.  My next contraction arrives quickly after and another push and our little girl has entered the world. Our world is complete!  Our little bundle of perfection is here after a 2 hour labour and we couldn’t be happier.  All worry of her being distressed during delivery is gone – she’s here and she’s perfect.

We decided to go with delayed cord clamping to ensure our baby gets all her blood after birth.  I also opt for natural delivery of the placenta, something which takes over an hour.

Despite the worries during labour, I’m happy we were in control during the birth. We had a wonderful midwife who supported our choices and, despite her concerns, kept it as close to our birth plan as she could.

So here I am, sat cuddling our wonderful little girl on my first Mother’s Day. She’s perfect…no actually she is. She sleeps well, feeds well (although she does guzzle and puke) and is content most of the time. We couldn’t be happier! Even the cats quite like her 💕

Milestones

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged. No other reason than pregnancy is dull, work is busy and life is chaotic! I don’t get the chance to gather my thoughts some days….but now I’m on maternity leave I promised myself I’d try and formulate my thoughts.

I was prompted today by a time hop on Facebook. A year ago we drove to Coventry to see the consultant to see if my uterine cells were causing the miscarriages. It was an 8 hour round trip and mentally it set me back months. The goalposts changed and they wanted to test me twice….going through the pain twice wasn’t part of the plan. However it was at that appointment they suggested progesterone. Initially from day 21 of my cycle until testing. It didn’t work for me that way and seemed to stop me ovulating. However, when I did get a positive test, I started on them and the result is a 38 week pregnancy and a wee one wriggling about after having breakfast.

Mentally my goal with this pregnancy was to get past 30 weeks. Pregnancies are viable from then and survival rate is good. Any additional weeks were a bonus and blessing.

For me, one of the big milestones was decorating the nursery. It was such an emotional weekend when it all came together. I’ve dealt well with the emotional side of pregnancy, given I can cry on tap most of the time, but this particular milestone broke me.  It all felt real and we were preparing for Cookie’s arrival now. It was imminent.  We’d hit a major milestone and our spare room was now ready, we were now ready!

My wonderful friends also arranged a surprise baby shower for me.  Now I’m not into baby showers….they’re a little bit twee and I hate being the centre of attention.  They were also hard to attend when we were going through the losses. All the baby talk when some days you didn’t want to even get out of bed….! This was perfect though, it was rude, inapproapriate and it was so lovely to all just sit around gabbing to friends and family – all laughing and joking.  These ladies have been through it all with us, it was so lovely to celebrate the end point (the hubby even laid on bottles of prosecco for everyone – brownie points in the bag there Mr B).

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I clearly wasn’t very good at this game….mine didn’t even get close!!

Finishing work for maternity leave was also an emotional time. I’d had such lovely words and gifts from colleagues and we’d all been through a tough year. We’re one big, daft family. Some might laugh but I walked out that last day with tears in my eyes…not just because I felt I was leaving my family to fend for themselves, but I’d hit another milestone I never thought I’d get to.

So I’m 2 days into maternity leave. I’m under orders to rest but those who know me well know that rest isn’t a word I like….I’ve a list to work through (I do like a good list). During my “down time” I’m going to be practicing my Hypnobirthing techniques and other little bits I need to do to prep for the birth (who knew that perineal massage was such a thing…..it feels so bloody inappropriate but needs must).

Whilst most first time mums seem to be terrified of birth and the impending labour, I’m so excited for it to start. For me it’s the start of the journey to meet our little one and I’m willing it to happen soon. Hypnobirthing has also helped with this. You’re taught about the natural mechanisms of birth and how to deal with what is happening. I have the tools in my belt ready for this. Scott is a wonderful birth partner and I’m convinced it’s going to be awesome.

One thing I have found is that women who have given birth are keen to share their horror stories and regale stories of tearing, forceps, long labours and emergencies all too easy. Where’s the sisterhood ladies? Go tell your pregnant friends that birth is magical….it might not be but surely the prize at the end is….let them focus on that and not the fear.

Throughout the pregnancy, as I’ve progressed through the various milestones, my anxiety has lessened. It’s in part to do with both Reiki and hypnobirthing. But I also feel I’ve become stronger and more resilient. However, getting this close to the end I do wonder off into the odd anxiety fuelled thought. I worry about stillbirth. Due to my job I’m heavily involved with consultants who look after women who are pregnant after late losses – unfortunately it happens and I’m exposed to it. Sometimes knowledge is power but there’s times when you wish for ignorance and not to be hyper aware of what can go wrong. Saying that though, I’m being cared for by a wonderful colleague who scans me every 2 weeks at the moment – that reassurance is just what I need. As a “Thank You” I’m donating my placenta to their research programme (yep, I’m such a generous soul haha). I’m also donating baby’s cord blood to Anthony Nolan – why not help others!

One of my best friends posted this from her time hop today. 12 months ago we were broken, she posted this and it felt like we’d never get where we wanted to. With a little help, a lot of love and prayers and awesome doctors, we’re nearly there…..

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Engrained

So yesterday my first pregnancy would have been 2.  It’s still hard, it really doesn’t get easier, even with the constant reminder in my tummy of the little one growing so strong (and punching my lady regions constantly!).  A lot of people say “yeah but look at what you’ve got coming soon” but it still doesn’t make it any easier.  There’s still the pain of nearly 3 years of trying, of countless tests, of crying myself to sleep some nights.  It’s still there and always will be.  You only have to talk to any woman (and indeed their partners) who has suffered a miscarriage and dates are engrained in your memory for an eternity.

In 9 weeks we will meet our little one and see what they look like, what their personality is like, who they take after.  But a small part of me will always think about the other 3 angels we have.  Would they have been different?  What gender would they be?  How would our lives be different now?  Would this pregnancy be a younger sibling for them?

The hurt and pain will never go away!

I’ve surprised myself with this pregnancy.  Yes I suffered a lot with anxiety in the first few months but since this little one has become a little wriggler, the anxiety I feel is lessening.  I do have the occasional “oh my god, I’ve felt no movement today” but then as soon as I relax and eat, it’s playtime again!

They do say that knowledge is power and I certainly feel that I’ve been more in control with this pregnancy.  I’ve done my research and planned where I can.  Of course I’m aware to expect the unexpected too.  But then I do often wonder if sometimes you know too much.  I read all the stories on Tommy’s but, as well as miscarriages, they also talk about stillbirths.  Yes it’s rare and yes I’m being monitored by the best doctors, but when you’ve had nothing but bad luck, you expect nothing but bad luck.

Thankfully, negative thoughts are a rarity.  I do occasionally think “so why should this pregnancy be any different?”, then I get kicked and am reminded of the precious life growing in me!  Early in my pregnancy I lived by the mantra

Today I am pregnant and I’m going to enjoy it

It got me through the tough times and helped me to enjoy pregnancy a little more than I expected to.  Yes I’ve felt like crap at times and yes I’ve cried through exhaustion but all is well and I keep willing this little one to sap all my energy, kick me at 3am so I can’t sleep and just keep growing.

Anxiety is trying to creep in a bit more as we near our due date.  There’s so much to do to get ready for baby and not enough weekends left.  We have 9 weeks until we meet our little one and a lot of work to do in getting the nursery together and generally preparing ourselves.  I’ve booked hypnobirthing and antenatal classes to help me prepare – at the moment I’ve not really looked at anything else as, in my head, there’s still time.  But there isn’t!  ARGH!  I arrived 3 weeks early, so we could potentially be saying Hi to our nipper in 6 weeks!  Keeping so busy with baby prep keeps the worries about pregnancy complications at bay…..most of the time. 

We put our Christmas tree up at weekend – I’d not wanted to bother as it was something else to sap our time from finishing off the baby related stuff.  I’m glad we did though as it’s a little mini goal – once Christmas is over, we’re on the 6 week countdown to the arrival.  We have 3 special baubles on the tree this year.  Our little one has their first bauble and we have 2 for our angel babies.  My mum got us the one above from my uber talented cousin.  It’s our 3 angels on a cloud!  They are looking down on our precious cargo and keeping them safe for the next 9 weeks.

For everything we’ve been through, for each storm (sometimes horrendous) we have endured, we can’t help but feel excited for the arrival of our little rainbow. My one wish for everyone going through this is that they get their rainbows very soon 🌈

Jinx

So only last week I’m saying to the hubby “I’ve not done a blog for ages”. He said to me it’s maybe because there’s been nothing interesting happening. We’re at 30 weeks pregnant now and apart from heartburn, Pelvic Girdle Pain and tiredness, it’s not treating me too badly!!

Of course we’d just jinxed ourselves!! It had to happen!!

So, last week I’d decided to get help for my painful pelvis. I’d got to the point where I couldn’t turn over in bed, I couldn’t get up from sitting and walking was constantly painful. I went to see the physio who taught me to walk again. Everything needed to change…posture, how I held my tummy, how I got up to walk….. It was a minefield. But within days I noticed the difference. Techniques for turning over really helped in the middle of the night and I was finally feeling I was winning. Oh and at this point I should also add that I’d slightly aggravated my groin just before the physio by trying to stop a neighbours cat coming in the house. A little stumble and overstretch and I’m walking like John Wayne!!

So anyway, let’s get back to Monday. I’m feeling much happier now I can walk properly. I’m heading out of work, looking forwards to a relaxing evening. As I’m walking over the car park, I catch my foot in a gap in the concrete. As you do when you feel you’re falling, I start trying to run it off but my centre of gravity is slightly off and I take a monumental dive, hitting the floor bump first. I’m terrified. We’ve got this far and I’ve just screwed it all up and put our baby at risk. I’m completely devastated and hysterical. My old fiend the panic attack is back with a vengeance but I manage to prevent it from taking a grip. I somehow manage to get to my feet, sobbing and cradling my bump, noticing that someone is sat in there car directly facing the whole thing – thanks for your help then love! I ring Scott, tell him I’m going to ring St Mary’s and I’ll meet him there.

On ringing the hospital, I’m told to go to the Acute Admissions Unit, the team you see when you go into labour or have complications. I walk in, completely inconsolable, willing our baby to move. It’s been nearly an hour since the accident and still no movement.

We sit in reception and wait to be triaged. After what feels like forever, we’re called in. The healthcare assistant and student nurse explain that I need to have blood taken, another Anti-D injection and they’ll get the Doppler out to check baby. They seem to take forever to take the blood. I just want to hear our baby. When they finally gets round to listening to baby, she explains it might take a while to hear something. But thankfully it doesn’t. We hear the heartbeat straight away. I’m told that I need to have a full monitor on baby for 20 minutes to check for no signs of distress and to make sure I’m not contracting. This will be done later on by a midwife.

We spend another 4 hours waiting around for a midwife. At this point our little Cookie is having a good old wriggle. Thank god!!

Finally, at 10.30 that evening I’m called for the monitoring. We’re told I’ll be hooked up for 20 mins if baby behaves. If we have a little bugger on our hands it’ll be longer. Of course we had a little bugger!

For the first hour of the monitoring, little Cookie wriggled and played and moved around. Perfect for if I just wanted to feel movement but this was hindering the monitor. The heart rate was going up and down like a yo-yo. The heart rate ranged from 120 to 200….average for a baby is around 150ish. We needed our baby to chill. Cue Daddy. A few soothing words from Daddy and Cookie had calmed down and gone to sleep. Wow! We finally got 20 minutes of uninterrupted monitoring. They were happy with the trace and allowed us to go home – we finally left just after midnight. What a bloody night!! I’m given the strict instructions that any worries I must return immediately. Of course I will.

So a few days on and a complaint has been put into the car parking folk. They’re investigating the incident and treating it very seriously. I’ve started parking elsewhere. It’s quite ironic really that I park there due to safety concerns for me and Cookie (after a recent spate of violent muggings on the streets near work), yet the car park causes this. I have a few bruises, grazes, stiffness and ripped clothes but you know what, none of that matters. All that matters is our little Cookie is safe and sound!! Fingers and toes crossed!!

Viable!

24 weeks – my mental mini milestone!  I’ve made it!  We’ve got to the place we never thought we’d get to.  We now have a viable pregnancy!

Whilst the pressure isn’t completely off, I’m content that if anything starts early, our wee one will get care!  Granted it won’t be the easiest start in life for them but people will fight for them!

So this past week has been chaotic!  Stupidly we decided to replace the kitchen work tops, which in turn meant a lot of mess, a lot of cleaning and a very teary me (especially after 3 hours scrubbing)!  We then had tiling, then painting…..too much to take on at 6 months up the duff??  It certainly feels like it!  Time is running away and we’ve still got to get the little one’s room ready!

Due to my history I’d also had a scan and check up at the Rainbow clinic at St Mary’s.  Remember I mentioned the notch on my artery they were monitoring?  Well, it’s still there!  URGH!  He explained that everything was perfect with baby – a little 1lb 3oz bundle already and measuring perfect!  We heard the heartbeat too – such a reassurance.  We are booked in at 28 weeks for another growth scan to check all is developing well.

So, back to the notch.  Our consultant told us that he wasn’t overly worried about it because it was only on one side – my other side was perfect.  Had it been both, it would have been a worry.  He didn’t explain much more to us but we knew we were in the right place – this isn’t something they look at on normal scans.  Me being me, I had to know what it meant but remembered his “don’t Google” warning.  I decided that I’d look in the chat rooms rather than look for scientific information and see if anyone had had similar experiences.  Straight away I found a few threads talking about experiences.  It seems that this notch can restrict the little ones growth and monitoring growth with regular scans will tell them if baby needs to come out early.  I’d kind of guessed it was something like this, given who I was seeing and what he was looking at.  Some women shared upsetting experiences but they tended to be women who hadn’t known about the notch – thankfully we were in the right place.  I found advice other women had received so decided to put it into practice:

  1. Cut down on salt – easy….I could do that!
  2. Avoid stress and anything that can raise blood pressure
  3. Keep an eye on baby’s movements!
  4. 150mg baby aspirin (I’d been doing this from 8 weeks already)

Whilst it didn’t seem like much, I had a plan I could follow – I felt in control and like I was prepared and understood what I needed to do!  So that’s what I do….I particularly enjoy the kick counting.  The highlight is going to bed….Scott has a chat with his child “Hello X (X being name of baby – yep, this one is named now), it’s your daddy here…[insert waffle about his day or football news usually]”.

Our consultant also gave me magic tablets to help with the constant heartburn. I feel human again!!! And I can eat anything without having my aniseed gaviscon chaser afterwards!! 

We’ve seen the midwife again this week.  She was pleased that I was in good health – we heard the heartbeat again which was good – especially after a few days of cramping (seems that the little one was going through a growth spurt given my ever growing bump).

I’ve found a new found love for yoga too since the dreaded heartburn stopped! Prior to this I’d spend the class swallowing back acid whilst trying not to be sick doing the downward dog. Yoga has been great for my painful groin area too. And the breathing techniques are helping all the women who are leaving to have their babies! Seems I’m on to a winner with this!!

So we’re off for a relaxing family weekend away with the in laws for grandad (to be) Al’s 70th. Thankfully everyone is looking forwards to relaxing rather than hiking!! I’ll probably be banished from helping in anyway and wrapped in cotton wool. I don’t mind. I’m a bit limited with what I can do now. I’m fatter, get out of puff easier and struggle to bend down (everything squishes) – socks are going to be a challenge soon!! 

For now though I’m loving my growing little bump and trying to enjoy every minute of this pregnancy 💜

(Over) halfway

Well, I’m officially almost 21 weeks pregnant (well if you go by my calculations I am 21+1 but hey, what’s a couple of days between friends). I’m now getting the quizzical looks – “do you think she’s eaten too much or is she pregnant?”.  As I type it’s 6.30am and I’ve been awake for an hour with hunger pains so the former could be true.

I’ve learned a lot on our journey so far – lots I never wanted to learn but equally, those experiences have brought us to the point we are today – me growing this teeny little new life and actually coping with the day to day grumbling of being pregnant without having a breakdown. So here’s what I’ve learned so far.

  1.  No matter how much you think it’s plain sailing, a spanner will get thrown into the works.  So this was a lesson we learned on holiday. I was content and comfortable being pregnant. I was 17 weeks at that point and there was nothing to indicate anything was wrong.  One our wedding anniversary (yes, typically) I had a small bleed. Nothing too major, as soon as it started, it had stopped. But it made me realise just how fragile this whole thing is – still.
  2. Miscarriage will taint any future pregnancies you have.  Although we’re past the major danger point in this pregnancy, I still can’t fully relax and enjoy pregnancy. I do still have odd moments when I worry that something is wrong. Scans still stress me out (although now we’re in the rainbow clinic it’s getting easier as there’s no association with loss there for us).  But I’ll never fully relax and be carefree.  Now I worry about premature birth, still borns, cot death. Having known people that have been through the first two, it’s certainly something on my radar. I’ll never completely get over these thoughts but, with the help of Reiki, those negative thoughts creeping in are fewer now!
  3. Piles aren’t reserved for birth. Nope. So I’d gone from shitting through the eye of a needle to being so bunged up it hurt. Going to the loo was torturous and it felt like I was giving birth each time. And yep, the piles were there too. Not just sore, angry piles, they were the type that decided they’d bleed (a lot) and have you shitting yourself (literally) that you’d pushed the baby out!
  4. Everyone wishes to share knowledge. From the well meaning friends to colleagues at work, everyone has a bit of advice for you. Whether it’s what classes to do to prepare for birth to what pram to buy, people want to tell you all about their experiences. I fear constant baby chat is making me a pregnancy bore. I try my hardest to talk about other things (I draw the line at talking about gin…..I miss gin) but everyone wants to steer the conversation to baby.
  5. People talk about your boobs…..a lot.  One of the most common questions everyone asks is “are you going to breastfeed?”.  For the record, yes, sort of. We’re combination feeding so hubby dearest can play his part (although I hear now that he needs to wait until after a month to start his bottle duties so he’s on nappy duties the first 4 weeks).  But everyone seems fascinated by your tits!  It’s become the norm to talk about them. “How are your nipples – are they bigger?”, “do they hurt?”, “blimey look at the size of them”.
  6. Hospitals can be sticklers for protocol (when it suits).  We really wanted a gender reveal where our family found out whether we were team pink or blue at the same time as us. In theory it should have worked but hospital protocol wouldn’t allow (bear in mind this is the same hospital that told me to catch our foetus on miscarriage 3, not sure that’s in the guidebook).  They’re not allowed to write down the gender, they won’t even tell the cleaner and get her to write it down (of course I asked). So we now know!  Miserable bastards!
  7. Babies have no concept of time.  This is a recent lesson I’ve learned. I started feeling proper kicks about a week ago. They were sporadic and very gentle. But not now. Our little one decides that, when I’m in an important meeting at work, needing to focus and concentrate, it’s going to give me a swift hard kick in the foof!!  Not just a gentle “mummy I’m awake” prod. No. A monumental drop kick in the fanny!  But it’s lovely, of course it is. I just wonder what the hell the people opposite me think when they see my face.  And of course, there’s the 4.30am kicks too….let’s not forget those. The ones that make you so happy your baby is moving, you can’t get back to sleep.
  8. Gaviscon is your best friend.  You expect that heartburn is confined the the third trimester. No, of course it’s not. From about week 18 I’ve had constant, Gaviscon glugging heartburn.  Probably doesn’t help that my hate of sugar has now subsided and it is slowly creeping back into my diet. But it’s there, constant. If the old wives tales are true, I’m not giving birth to a baby, I’m giving birth to a gorilla.
  9. Pregnancy doesn’t make me a hormonal monster (surprisingly). Yep, of course I’ve had times when I’ve cried at everything but based on what others have told me, they turned into the exorcist when pregnant (something I was fully expecting to happen to me). I’ve been completely surprised that I’ve not turned into a massive tw*t and made my husbands life hell (or so he says). I had one monumental breakdown that I put down to fear mixed in with hormones in the first trimester. I was a complete cow to my wonderful, placid husband and, at that point, would have accused him of being Sadam Hussein – I was that insane!  Thankfully, and according to his reports to the midwife, I am bearable and I’m not a nightmare (I don’t doubt his pals get another story but I don’t care)
  10. Nothing else matters. I’ve found recently I’ve really got no focus. I have to work hard to care about some of the seemingly petty issues in work and life.  But I don’t care. My headspace is taken up with concentrating on growing this wonderful little merger of the two of us. And nursery decor. And breast pumps. But nothing else seems to matter and it’s hard to feel passionate about things.

So now I’m on the slippery slope to the end. I’ve got less time being pregnant (hopefully) than I have been pregnant. We get to meet our little one in 4 1/2 months.

Anxiety

I suffered my first panic attack when my Aunt died 6 years ago.  I’d never had one before then and I didn’t know what was happening.  It was at her daughter’s wedding 3 months after she’d died.  They played her song  and I felt like my chest was going to explode.  I couldn’t get my breath and my breathing went so rapid I was flushed and scared.  I ended up sat outside on the cold concrete – terrified what was happening.

It happened quite a lot in those early months but after a while I learned that I could control the attacks by sitting on a cold surface and allowing my body to calm down. It became more manageable and eventually they stopped.

When I fell pregnant though, they were to resurface.

I was terrified when I initially found out I was pregnant and just sobbed – big fat tears about the worry that lay ahead and whether this baby was going to survive.  At this point, panic attacks weren’t part of the journey.

I’d had a number of scans at St Mary’s during my miscarriages, all leading to the “I’m sorry it’s bad news” line we were accustomed to hearing.  Our first scan at 7 weeks was terrifying and as soon as I was called, a panic attack started.  I was in a hospital where nothing is a cold, concrete surface so I just had to ride it out and try to fix it with mind over matter.  I managed to calm myself but felt completely terrified throughout, and at each subsequent scan.

Part of my coping mechanism to deal with the constant anxious state I generally feel is Reiki.  Since February I’ve been seeing a practitioner on a fortnightly basis to help with it and get rid of the negative energy.  I truly believe that the “witchcraft” (as Scott calls it) completely helps with my ability to cope.  I’ve also found I’ve become a little more OCD about things.  I talk to magpies, say “Hello” and ask how the family is (yep, I’m in full on nutter mode in the car).  On baby appointment days I make sure I wear exactly the same jewellery as I did at the first appointment as I feel it’s brought me good luck (at the start I wore the same dress but I got over that one quickly).  But as the pregnancy progressed and each scan was positive, I slowly relaxed.  My daily Dr Google checks of “is this normal in pregnancy” stopped and I slowly felt I could relax a little more and enjoy pregnancy.   When I Googled in the past, I’d focus on the negative stories – I’d be convinced that I was with those people and couldn’t see all the other positive responses.  However now, anytime I Google anything, I focus on the positive and think “yes, why not, that’s me”.

Scan’s, for the time being, have been less traumatic.  Due to my history, I’m having more scans but they tend to be on either the antenatal unit, or from now on, the Rainbow Clinic in St Mary’s.  Just having scan’s in another area and not associating the room with our previous losses really makes it so much easier to handle them.  Of course our 20 week scan will be in the ultrasound department but I think I’ll handle it….hopefully!

I’ll just say a bit about the Rainbow Clinic* as they are incredible.  The clinic is funded through Tommy’s and deals with women who have suffered stillbirths or neonatal deaths.  I work closely with the team in my day job so they’ve taken me on to provide that reassurance throughout my pregnancy (something I’m certainly grateful of).  Despite their area of work, it’s a remarkable clinic.  Staff are extremely friendly and as soon as you go in, you are put at ease.  My treatment is currently under Dr Heazell who is wonderful and talks you through everything.  After the scan (and hearing our baby’s heart beat fill the room) he explains what the data is he has taken from the scan and how that fits to what they would expect (we get to see lots of graphs).  They do a lot of investigation on the placenta and blood vessels that supply the uterus to see whether everything is normal.  Thankfully I have a wonderful placenta (good job really cos I’m giving it to them as a parting gift when I give birth).  They do pick up a slight irregularity with one of my blood vessels but they’re not overly worried at this stage.  Apparently your blood vessels change as you become pregnant – one has fully changed but the other still has to catch up. This is going to be checked again at 23 weeks – this is the point at which they would have expected the change to have happened).  Thankfully I’m in the right place for this kind of monitoring – at least we know and can keep our eye on it.

I read a post somewhere where the woman said she found her coping mechanism in pregnancy after loss was to wake up each day and think “I’m pregnant still today so I’m going to enjoy it” so I took on that mantra.  Each morning I survey my growing tum and am thankful I can still enjoy it.  Let’s face it, I’ve got 22 more weeks so I need to remain upbeat and get on with it – no point in feeling anxious all the time!

I’ll leave you with a pic of our most recent scan – here’s my lovely placenta 🙂


*https://www.tommys.org/our-organisation/what-we-do/our-research/research-stillbirth/rainbow-clinic

PREGNANT!!!!!

I knew I was pregnant even before I’d taken the test. I hadn’t missed my period but it was due that day, a Friday, and I thought sod it, let’s pee on a stick (because let’s face it, it is an addiction for any woman trying to conceive).

I’d left the stick in the bathroom, went about my normal routine and wondered back upstairs. Scott was just out of the shower when I asked him to check how many lines.  “One” he told me.  I wasn’t so convinced so checked myself.  Lo and behold, there was a second, very feint, squint and you can see it line.  Scott didn’t believe me, that feint smudge wasn’t a line!  But I was sure.  I’d been there enough times to know.  The feelings that followed weren’t the normal, elated feelings a newly pregnant woman feels.  I sobbed. Terrified for what lay ahead.  The uncertainty, the emotional rollercoaster, the weeks of invasive checks and not knowing whether my body was planning on keeping this baby.  I didn’t know if I could go through it all again!

I contacted the wonderful consultants at Coventry straight away to seek their advice. They’d taken me off progesterone because it was messing up my cycle but, now I was pregnant, I wanted to try everything could to make this work.  They agreed and I started the pessaries at just over 4 weeks pregnant.  Previously I’d used them in the main front entrance but this was messy (and I didn’t want to prod and poke too much) so I took the trademan’s entrance, the back door.  Not the comfiest way of using them but it worked, they stayed put and there was less mess.  I’ll come onto the side effects later you’ll be pleased to know.

A week after finding out we were off work for the week. We’d planned to go away as it may be the last holiday we managed to get for a while with the possibility of starting IVF this year.  That all changed though.  My second miscarriage started when we were abroad, there was no way I would risk anything with this pregnancy.  We decided to have a few day trips out and just try and relax a bit.  I was exhausted with recent events at work and the pregnancy was taking its toll – I could nap anywhere!  By the Tuesday of that week, I was 5 ½ weeks pregnant and getting fed up of doing nothing.  We decided to have an overnighter somewhere so started looking a places.  But then history looked to be repeating itself.  I started spotting brown and cramping – exactly the same point as with other pregnancies.  I was terrified.  I tried to brush it off but I couldn’t.  It wasn’t fair – was I ever going to have a successful pregnancy?  My symptoms had also started to subside – all pointing to the inevitable – AGAIN!

We made an appointment at St Mary’s with the recurrent miscarriage team for the Monday we’d got back to work. They wanted to just provide emotional support and help with the practicalities of being pregnant again, like booking us in for additional scans.  Knowing you can’t see much earlier than 6 ½ weeks, we opted for a scan on the Thursday, when I was 6 weeks and 6 days pregnant.

I was terrified going for that scan. We nervously sat in the waiting room, trying to be positive.  But it was so hard.  We were called for the scan and taken into the room where The Wand awaited me.  At that point I broke down, unable to control my emotions and sobbed, almost having a panic attack.  The sonographer was wonderful.  She calmed me down, asked me all the relevant questions before the scan and switched off the secondary monitor.  As I lay there, I grabbed Scott’s hand and we didn’t look at her (it’s amazing how you are able to read them like a book when they are searching through your uterus).  Within a very short space of time she asked if we wanted to see our baby, heatbeat and all.  I broke down.  This wasn’t what we’d been expecting – we never get good news like this.  She spun the screen round and there it was – our little baby with its flickering heart! We couldn’t believe it!  Everything looked perfect and measuring right for my dates.  I’d never felt such happiness!  Resting, progesterone and a healthy diet were helping us – we were doing this!

We were booked in for a scan 2 weeks from the first – at that point I’d be almost 9 weeks pregnant. Over the days that followed I bled again – this time a gush of red.  I tried to tell myself that it was just because of the probing but deep down I was worried again.  My symptoms, however, came back with a vengeance.  I had terrible morning, noon and night sickness.  In the early part of the day I’d just feel queasy, like I was on a boat, but by the later part of the afternoon, it would turn into full on sickness, with me throwing up on occasion.  My particular favourite was trying to be discreetly sick during Glastonbury, whilst we had guests and throwing up with such force that it splashed back in my face! URGH!  They do say your dignity goes with pregnancy.

Talking of dignity, so I mentioned the side effects of the twice daily bum bullets….I’ll explain a little more. For some reason, the bullets, give you incredible wind…..like tornado style.  Not only that but morning bum bullets have a tendency to want to exit quite quickly after being inserted.  By that I mean that they decide “I know, now is a good time for a bout of the screaming sh!ts”….but you can’t go – you have to hold said explosion in for about 30 minutes at least.  Needless to say, it’s not pretty!

So 2 weeks later, at nearly 9 weeks, I’m sent for a second scan, just to check everything is progressing well. Again, I’ve got horrific anxiety.  My heart is pounding and I burst into tears as soon as I’m called.  Part of me believes everything is OK – why else would I have horrific sickness and extreme exhaustion!  I’ve been throwing up too and consuming my bodyweight in wotsits to stave off the sickness!  I still can’t face anything sweet and the thought of a cup of tea makes me wretch!  Thankfully there’s been no further bleeding but I worry about missed miscarriages…. that horrendous anxiety just doesn’t go.

I’m called into the room with a very full bladder but told straight off to go pee. Hallelujah!  When I come back in the room I see the secondary screen in switched on for us to see the scan – we turn it off. The sonographer inserts the probe and immediately tells me everything is OK with baby!  I can’t quite believe it.  This is the furthest we’ve got and it feels wonderful.  She tells Scott to switch the screen on so we can watch the scan.  Wow, it looks like a real baby now!  Everything is so clear and perfect!  I can’t stop crying!  This is such a huge step for us but still we’re not out of the woods.  Every milestone is important and I’m still as terrified as we were at the start.  Statistically, now we’ve seen a perfect baby and heartbeat there is a 99% chance everything will be OK – I still worry about that 1% though!

At 11 weeks we go for another scan. I’ve already been for my first antenatal appointment, allowing myself to believe it was OK to start getting things in order now.  Again, at the scan I’m terrified and cry.  We go through the same process….turn off the second screen, don’t look at the sonographer and pray all is OK. This time we avoid the wand and it’s a tummy scan – we’ve never got to the point where I’ve had one of these! Again she senses my anxiety and immediately tells me baby is fine.  We switch on the second screen and see the heartbeat and the little one moving around.  We are both completely blown away – our baby is moving around….it’s real!  They tell me that the intestine is slightly protruding into the cord but apparently this should right itself so this is going to be monitored (apparently this is normal…).  Although we are almost out of the danger zone, we still can’t bring ourselves to get too excited.

Finally, the day we thought we’d never see, our dating scan. I can’t believe we are at this point.  Still I’m terrified!  It can still go wrong.  It’s the same process with the scan….I get called in, I cry and start panicking, they turn off the screen and we hold our breath!  Immediately we’re told “baby is fine”!  Indeed baby was fine – lay relaxing, legs crossed waving at us.  One chilled little monster!  The scan took a little longer than it should as our little one decided not to co-operate!  All measurements were fine and the intestine looked to be where it should be.  After 30 minutes watching our baby, we were sent to see the consultant.  Due to my previous miscarriages, I get extra care, which has been fantastic.  I see a specialist who deals with ladies that have had previous losses – she’s amazing!  Instantly she puts my mind at ease and arranging for extra scans.  By this point I’ve finished my progesterone supplements but they’ve almost been like a comfort blanket to me so I ask her if I can carry them on.  Without hesitation she writes a prescription and tells me that if it helps give me peace of mind, it isn’t going to cause me any issues! I’m back in 4 weeks for an additional scan for reassurance!  So finally, after 4 hours, we’re on the way to Mothercare to finally allow ourselves to get excited and see what is on offer (and how expensive it all is)!

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So we’re now at the 16 weeks mark.  Yesterday we heard the heartbeat for the first time.  I never thought anything could leave me speechless and so emotional.  Despite having seen our baby wriggling around on the screen numerous times, this somehow made it more real – there was a little heart inside me, fluttering away.  The most unbelievable feeling in the world!  I spent the whole day in a complete daze….!

We saw our baby again today, I’ll never tired of seeing it – what a wonderful feeling!

Our little family will (hopefully) be complete in 6 months and we couldn’t be happier.  From being that couple with unexplained infertility, we’re now parents-to-be!

Postcode lottery

So it appears I have now become a victim of the so called NHS postcode lottery. I couldn’t be more angry and frustrated about it!

So as any wannabe parents will tell you, you do your best to get the right start for your babies. For us that meant relocating to Cheshire.  We’re near family, we have top class schools on our doorstep and the great outdoors. We want the best start we can give our family. But this it seems, might be our downfall and potentially wreck our chances of becoming parents. I’ll explain….

Before we moved, little did I know that we would be entitled to 3 rounds of IVF should we need it. When we moved and talk of IVF was apparent I of course did my research. Turns out that I could still get 3 rounds. Phew!! But of course, with us there’s a twist, another dagger in the heart let’s call it! 

So last week I’d been keeping an eye on posts in the St Marys IVF Facebook group. Women were talking about delays and moving their NHS funded treatment over to CARE manchester. I did some research and for us they are a better service. Not only do you get the bog standard IVF, you also get a test thrown in that significantly reduces the risk of miscarriage. Of course I wanted to join that party! So I wrote to my local CCG (the people who control the pennies) and asked to move. Unfortunately the move was not an option for us as they don’t have a contract with that company. Urgh, typical. But wait, there’s more….the email ended with “unfortunately our rules have recently changed regarding funded treatments so now you will only receive one”. What the actual f*ck! We’d gone from a position recommended by the Health ministers to a shitty position in no time. What makes it even more annoying is that the decision to reduce was decided the day after my referral was completed. Great. Fantastic! So now, not only have I had to battle doctors and the NHS just to get to the position we are at today, I’m now having to fight the people that make the decisions. 

It’s hard fighting so many battles, really hard! It exhausts you. It makes you feel like everyone is against us. 

It’s like someone up there really doesn’t want us to become parents!