Pregnancy, Second Time Round

I say second, it’s actually the sixth, what I should have said was the second successful pregnancy.

It really couldn’t have been more different with our little lady than with Noah, from start to finish!

I suppose I should start at the very beginning, to coin a phrase. 

On the 16th August 2016 after a stop/start period I took my sixth positive pregnancy test and so it began. The anxiety, the excitement, the hope, the fear, the desperate need to be positive and enjoy this, my final pregnancy but the reality that negative thoughts can’t help but plague me to somehow protect me, should the worse happen.

I was 4 weeks and 4 days pregnant at this point, my due date being 22nd April 2017.

The weird bleeding I had on and off for a week 28 days into my cycle didn’t help make me feel at ease that this pregnancy would be fruitful, but I needn’t have worried as I sit here penning this 14 months later.

The sickness (well nausea) started at 5 weeks which, unlike Noah, started at wake up and lasted until 9-10PM which was far from ideal when I had Noah to entertain aswell as trying to keep it secret. This continued until I was about 15 weeks. With Noah I felt nauseous for a few hours in the afternoon and stopped at about 12 weeks.

From the moment the nausea started I went off pretty much EVERYTHING healthy. Vegetables and salad, which were my key foods with Noah, literally turned my stomach. I am not joking when I say I lived off chocolate and carbs. I had lost all my (Noah) baby weight just prior to my BFP, to say I piled it on with some additional is an understatement, but that’s another story for another day.

I started to show at 9 weeks (16 with Noah) and I just grew and grew and grew. I was massive by 38 weeks and very grateful that she arrived early as I don’t doubt I would have had a late 9Iber.

Barring a trapped nerve in my neck that caused me excruciating pain for about 10 weeks of the pregnancy and the usual aches and pains that are associated with it all went ok. I wasn’t as fit or as healthy as I was with Noah, nausea and lack of time stopped me from taking regular exercise other than walking. Prenatal yoga which I did religiously with Noah was undertaken about a dozen times.

I had extra growth scans thanks to the enormity of my bump, also a diabetic test which came back negative (I did have my doubts considering my appalling diet).

Couldn’t find a 38 week for Noah so used 36 as a comparison

Looking at the above comparison you can see I carried very differently with both my babies yet at the time I’d have said it was the same. With Noah I was convinced right at the beginning he was a boy, this time round I had no inkling whatsoever.

This time baby behaved at the anomaly scan, and all scans following so we didn’t know the gender (Noah defied us and made sure we knew, even though we didn’t want to).

Noah was a turner and wriggler when in the womb. This little monkey was fighting to get out from the moment I started to feel her move at 10 weeks, it was like being attacked from the inside with really sharp jabs and kicks, there were no worries with her as she didn’t have as much down time as Noah did, which would send me into a panic.

I should have known she was going to be a girl just from the differences.

Of course my age caused issues nearer to my due date and I was shocked to hear from one of the consultants that they would want to induce me at 38 weeks. I wasn’t really prepared for this as I was told 40weeks with Noah and he came three days early and I was gearing up for the same this time and had no worry that I could try and bring baby on a couple of days early but two whole weeks? I knew baby would never naturally arrive two weeks early.

Induction has never sat well with me, the thought of artificially introducing hormones into my system quite frankly scares the living crap out of me. However the thought of putting my baby at risk is non-negotiable. See my dilemma?
My consultant knew my worries and agreed, at my 36 week appointment, to go with what I wanted which was to check my placenta at 38 weeks to check for any sign of degradation and then go in regularly for Doppler tests to check on its health until 40 weeks when I would then have an induction. By way of a compromise he gave the midwife written ‘permission’ to do whatever she could to get things moving naturally beforehand so on my mum’s birthday, the 4th April 2017 at 37 weeks + 4, I trotted off to the midwife where she performed a stretch and sweep (I’ve written a full account of the process here).

This started a process I wish I had never started. Cramps started pretty much straight away meaning I frantically sewed up the shawl my mum had knitted me before she passed away years ago convinced baby was coming that night. By the evening they were forming a regular pattern so put everyone who was going to be involved in Noah’s care were put on high alert. The early hours of the next morning the contractions stopped.

Contractions continued on and off for the next few days and I can’t tell you how stressed, worried and upsetting it was and on Friday 7th April I went for my final consultant appointment at Exeter to have my placental health scan, however I had at this stage decided that I was going to just say book me in and get this baby out.

I was contracting every 5 minutes by the time I saw the consultant though so he booked me in to be induced on the following Monday and sent me to be examined by the midwife incase baby was already on its way. I was 3cm and told to go home and wait. 

I sobbed all the way home.

Contractions kept coming every 5 minutes, though not painful they were annoying. That night at 2030 whilst saying goodbye to my friend’s partner at the front door my waters broke but due to the annoying ceasing of my contractions the hospital told me to go in the next day (Saturday 8th April) at 9pm to start the induction process as they can’t let pregnancies continue longer than 24 hours after water break. My treatment by the on call community midwives based at Truro was appalling and the whole debacle was quite simply horrifically upsetting but that’s another story for another time.

Needless to say nothing happened the next day, except leaking waters pretty much continuously, so off we trotted to get induced at 9 that evening, the 8th April.

The below pictures were taken the evening of my induction. I was 38 weeks + 1

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My Birth Story

On the 22nd November 2013 at 0843 hrs we welcomed our beautiful baby boy into the world and life as I previously knew it changed in a split second.

With a brand new breath and a little cry my heart filled with the most overwhelming love I had ever felt and from the moment I looked into his eyes it was like I’d never not known him, I’ve known him forever.

This was it, this was my son, this was my life and I’d managed to create another, now nothing else matters.

He is now 6 days old and we’ve finally decided on a name. Ironically we went to bed last Thursday night arguing about what we were going to call him and I stated that we still had at least 4 days to go and convinced it would be longer as most first births go over due.

If you’ve read previous posts you’ll know that I was having to face the tricky decision of having an induction near due day, I didn’t want this. 4 women I knew had gone through the most traumatic induction processes in the 2 weeks leading up to my due day and this worried me, greatly. It would appear all this worry was totally unnecessary.

At 0140hrs I woke with a Braxton Hicks, rolled out of bed (which had become the norm over the past couple of weeks) went to the toilet and climbed back into my pregnancy nest. Just as I was drifting off again I had another BH… Not unusual but a bit of a pain, I was tired. As I was again about to drift off I had another. At this point I thought perhaps I should check the time and sure enough I had 3 more which were 10 minutes apart exactly.

Terror.
Excitement.
Nerves.
This must be it starting.
I didn’t know what to do so just went back to sleep thinking it’ll be ages yet and I need my rest.

Next time I woke it was 0347 with another period like cramp, I activated my contraction timer, went to the toilet and started timing. They were coming every 2 minutes, lasting approx 30 seconds each. Now thinking back to my antenatal classes when the midwife said not to worry the hospital until they were 5 minutes apart and so painful I couldn’t talk through them I wasn’t entirely convinced I was in labour.

The hospital is an hour and a half away and the thought of contracting that severely every five minutes for that journey has filled me with dread since that class. These just weren’t strong enough, they couldn’t be labour.

At about 0415 I woke my OH telling him not to panic but I think everything was starting. He was brilliant, remained calm and got up. He dutifully rang the birthing unit who told me to ring the labour ward (both are at Exeter hospital) for advice as she was busy but that I was welcome to go the unit as planned. He spoke to the midwife at the labour ward and told her my timings and she just calmly said we’ll see you when you get here.

This was it? It can’t be! Can it?

We both got dressed, I double checked my hospital bag and picked up all the snacks and drinks we’d bought for an epic labour. OH loaded car with both our bags and Bean’s car seat and set off.

Never has that journey gone so quickly. The pains weren’t evil, just uncomfortable and easily breathed through and still 2 minutes apart. We laughed and joked nearly all the way there and I told him that I was convinced we’d be sent home when we got there because I wasn’t in actual labour.

On arrival to the hospital I had to stop briefly outside the main entrance to ‘gather myself’ then waddled up to the labour unit. Now my plan was to have a water birth in the birthing unit as this was a low risk pregnancy (despite my age). The birthing unit, however was around a corner whilst the labour ward was straight ahead… I chose the latter!

As we entered the unit I expressed my concerns that I wasn’t in actual labour to which the midwife said she thought I was sufficiently enough to go straight into a delivery room.

WHAT?
Really?
I still wasn’t convinced.

When I got in there the midwife did some paper work whilst I bounced on a ball (my saviour up until this point) hooked me up to the monitor and then asked to exam me. I was 6cm dilated, it was 0630hrs. I couldn’t believe it! I was breathing through the contractions and was more concerned my OH was going to pass out… I’d sent him to bed the night before at 2030 as he wasn’t very well, bless him, now he was going to have to go through this stress in a boiling hot room feeling like crap!

The MW saw I wanted to be active and those monitors really are a pain in the arse. Slipping off all the time so she advised me to have a monitor that clipped to the baby’s head which meant that I could move around more… Excellent! I got on the bed, she broke my waters and put the galloping horses clip on bean’s head. At this stage I tried the entonox, now I’ve had it before during a nasty miscarriage and it was great, this time however I hated it. I couldn’t breathe properly and it was just making me feel minced, I ended up throwing it away and it’s probably at this point it all becomes a blur and I’m sure my OH would fill lots of gaps in my story with the actual facts.

I remember looking down and seeing blood in my waters and the MW telling me to get on the bed, then that I’d be meeting my baby soon and she was upset she wouldn’t see it… It was change over time.

Next thing I remember was lots of people in the room, the end of the bed vanishing, my legs being put in stirrups and MWs saying there’s a lip of cervix but I should start trying to push anyway. They kept telling me that I needed to beat the doctor… What doctor? I really had no understanding as to what was going on just that I was possibly breaking the OHs hand along with a registrar who was on my other side. When he let go I remember grabbing OHs arm and shoving it in my mouth about ready to chomp down. I distinctly remember thinking “Rachel what the hell are you doing, that’ll hurt” so let go and went back to the task of pushing what felt like the impossible out of me. It’s true what they say about a madness that descends at this point. I really can’t remember much of anything except that I cried out a couple of times and said what I didn’t want to say and that was the inevitable “I can’t do this” … apparently I didn’t say this as often as I thought I did. I remember someone saying “Bee sting coming Rachel” followed by nothing. I really didn’t care.

The next thing was feeling a gush from between my legs, hearing a cry and holding my beautiful, beautiful baby boy in my arms. It was over. I couldn’t believe it.

It was 0843hrs.
22nd November 2013.
Our beautiful boy weighed in at 3420g (my OH had to google convert this into 7Ibs 8oz). Considering everyone was expecting me to have a 9Iber I was amazed.
He was 50.5cm in length with a head circumference of 34cm.

It was at this point I realised my legs were still in stirrups and asked if I had needed stitches to which everyone said yes. I had had to have a ventouse delivery. Although the MW said it’s on my records as that but the suction bottle was cracked so I pretty much did 95% of it on my own. Apparently the baby had been in some distress and they didn’t want to take any risks.

My birth plan went completely out the window. My partner didn’t get to cut the cord but we don’t care.

20131128-114751.jpg

We have our son, our boy, our precious gift. We are in love, totally, utterly and inexplicably in love with this tiny bundle that somehow we managed to create in his own perfect form. With a face I’ve always known.

Dear Bean

Dear Bean,

Let me introduce myself, I’m your mummy. You will only know me as a series of bodily sounds and functions at the moment but I’ve been your mummy for the last 38 weeks and 5 days and shall be for the rest of your life and mine. I will love you, comfort you, keep you safe, feed you, clothe you and no doubt embarrass the hell out of you in due course.

I’ve worried about you since the moment I saw those 2 little blue lines appear at 4am one morning in April 2013 and, if I’m honest, I’ve worried about you before that day. You see I knew deep down you were with me and was terrified to find out for sure in case you left me.

We’ve all been on an emotional rollercoaster these past 38 weeks you, I and your doting Daddy. You have been cherished and treasured since blue line day. You’ve been photographed more than most and already we could fill a photo album with your images and you’re not even with us yet.

I’ve panicked when I’ve felt you kick and hiccup, I’ve panicked more when you’ve had a lazy day and haven’t kicked and hiccuped as much as normal but all along you have been fine. For that I am eternally thankful, you’ve been so much wanted Bean you’ll never understand how much.

I’ve tried so hard to remain calm (I’m the calm one Bean, wait until you meet your father and you’ll see that), relaxed, fit and healthy so that you have a relaxed ride whilst you grow. It appears to be working, you’re certainly growing!! Your midwife and sonographers frequently remark on how big you’re going to be whilst looking at me with pity but I don’t care, I would suffer the most excruciating pain known to man if only it meant you being entrusted to us safe and healthy because I love you Bean.

I love you more than life itself and I know I’m going to miss you when you leave the comfort of my expectant tummy. Although I can’t wait to see your beautiful face and hold you in my arms I wonder about the feeling of loss I may suffer when I can’t feel your gentle undulations beneath my skin, your little feet digging into my ribs but I’m sure your smile, your laughs, your giggles and your smell will more than make up for it.

So here I am, your devoted mother. I’ve been thinking lately what sort of mother I’ll be. I hope I’m fair but I’m not going to be a push over either. Whenever I say no to you, and I will, it’s because I love you and want to protect you and keep you safe and bring you up to be respectful, thoughtful and kind. I look to my mother when I think of you, you’ll never meet her but I know she’ll love you and look on you from wherever she is. She was my best friend and I hope, beyond hope that I am going to be yours and then I’ll never think that I’ve failed.

I’m sure I’ll make mistakes, you see everybody does Bean, and it’s ok to do so, I just hope they don’t affect you too much. I’m sure we’ll embarrass you Bean, in fact were bound to. You see your parents are a little bit bonkers darling and I apologise for that now but we’re not going to change. You’ll laugh hysterically with us until you reach your teen years when you’ll probably hate us for being old and mad but you’ll return and hopefully you’ll look back on your childhood and be glad you went through it with us. We endeavour to try our hardest to make you happy, healthy and wise and prepare you well for this world we are responsible for bringing you into. It’s a scary old place but you’re not going to face it alone, you’ll always have us to show you the way, even if we’re not sure of the way ourselves.

We can’t wait to meet you our precious, precious boy, safe journey and we’ll be waiting for you with open arms and open hearts.

What’s in a name?

What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet

William Shakespeare Romeo and Juliet

A name is but an arbitrary label?

Really?

I disagree, but only now I am faced with the daunting prospect of ‘labelling’ our baby for the rest of it’s life. I never knew this decision would be so difficult.

As I mentioned in my previous post, we don’t know the sex of the baby so we’ve had to make two lists of names in preparation. If it’s a girl we’re pretty much sorted, it’s just going to be a final decision between two first names having already decided that the middle name will be that of my Granny (this I’ve wanted since I was a little girl). Boys, however, is a totally different ball game!

I’ve decided on both names I want and I love them! They work with the surname and I think he’ll grow up with them being both fitting for child as well as adult. The trouble is my partner doesn’t agree. He knows someone on Twitter who’s son is called the same! I had no idea of this at the time and it hasn’t tarnished my opinion of the name (names can rarely be totally unique and this is the only person I’ve ‘known’ with it) but he can’t seem to get his head round it and I have to accept his opinion and respect it, this is his child too.

Now it’s back to the drawing board, which is difficult as I can’t seem to get the names I love out of my head.

We know that we want something different but without being too left field. I’ve never been one for following the pack and have problems accepting ‘ordinary and popular’ names as even being a possibility. I’m not, unlike a lot of people today, into the old fashioned names. I care for the elderly and when I hear those names I visualise clients and don’t see the name fitting a child. My poor partner must feel like he’s banging his head against a brick wall at times, every name he reads out of ‘The Book’ (of Doom) I instantly dismiss with an astounded “Really?” or “You have to be joking?”

It’s got to the point we rarely discuss it now.

I find myself checking the credits of everything I watch on TV to no avail, everything seems to be so dull. I google translate words that hold meaning into different languages to see what they sound like. I find myself cutting and editing different names together but only end up making myself laugh.

Time is running out. Today I am 37 weeks. Term!

Our beautiful baby could arrive at anytime and should it be a boy it’s looking like it’s going to be nameless indefinitely (I’ve even google translated ‘nameless’). I’m kinda hoping that, if it is a he, he’ll come out singing his name to us thus putting us out of our misery. Either that or he’ll arrive and the names I love will suit perfectly, my partner will see the agony I’ve just endured and he’ll agree (wishful thinking, I know).

Or, baby could amaze us both, be a girl and all of this angst will be for nothing!

So Mr Shakespeare, what’s in a name?
EVERYTHING!

Secrets and Lies

Let me tell you a secret… I’m pregnant!

Not only am I pregnant. I am, in 2 days time, 37 weeks pregnant!

Due to a history of miscarriages, all of which were around the 12 week stage, we decided not to share this news with anyone until the 12 week scan when we told our families and close friends. Superstition and fear led us to the decision not to announce it to anyone else until later, and try not to even think about it.

One day, at 16 weeks, I decided to think about maternity wear as I was beginning to feel my clothes getting a little more snug. I logged onto Mothercare and put a few items in the basket then went to the toilet to discover I was bleeding, and bleeding quite heavily. My heart dropped like a stone, I had allowed myself to start to get excited about the prospect of actually having a baby now, that we were on the home straight, well out of the ‘danger zone’. I rang the Midwife in a state of shock and waited for the OH to race home from work and so the very familiar drive to the hospital in silence began once more. I was convinced this was my fault for looking at maternity wear!

To cut a long story short… after a scan, which showed bean was absolutely fine (doing head stands for the camera), and what seemed like endless examinations, there appeared to be nothing wrong with either myself or bean and the bleeding was put done to a mere blip. A blip that terrified us both and stunned us into silence, that was it, a deal had been made. No-one would know except the people around us that really mattered until, of course, it became too obvious to avoid!

The longer this went on the more I relished the fact that no one suspected a thing, other people announced their pregnancies on Twitter and Facebook and this was followed by the comments of others that they wished they would shut up about it. These nasty comments led me to truly believe that no one, except true friends and family, really give two hoots about things that actually happen in our lives by our social media ‘friends’, and why should they? They are anonymous names that you may happen upon maybe once or twice in your life, of course they don’t care. Having said that, there are a couple of people who we told as they gave us lots of advice and support during our miscarriages and they have been wonderful, keeping this news to themselves for months on end and quietly offering us their support and for these people I’m truly grateful.

I lost my mum to cancer in April 2008 and miss her more and more each day my pregnancy progresses, if only she could have been here to see her grandchild, my child, how she would have doted on them, offered me endless advice and support throughout this whole process and knitted until her fingers bled but there’s nothing I can do about that. The generosity of relative strangers has surprised me. My partner’s mum came with two hand knitted cardigans made by a work colleague of hers; a neighbour I’ve never met knitted the most beautiful pram blanket and a Twitter friend I’ve also never met sent us the most incredible hand knitted hat for our precious cargo. It actually brought me to tears.

Each week has been met with anxiety, we lived from one scan to the next (we have had them every other week from 6 until 12 weeks) then from midwife appointments to 20 week scan (with the blip scan at 16 weeks thrown in). From then, despite me starting to feel bean’s movements, we lived by each midwife appointment until we had a growth scan at 28 weeks. We had decided not to buy or order anything until we were 30 weeks at which point we ordered the pram and I bravely (VERY bravely) ordered a few clothes still not daring to believe that it was really happening and that something would happen that would take all this away from us.

Who knew there were so many decisions to be made, and how difficult they are to make. Prams… Oh my God, I had no idea there were so many out there and how difficult it would be to make a decision. Nappies… We always knew we wanted to use real nappies, I naively thought they were the ones of my baby days, terry squares, how wrong I was! With such a plethora to chose from I started contacting other mums and mums-to-be on Twitter, who have now become rather good ‘friends’, in order to get some sort of advice on such alien matters! Stupid things like how do you dress a baby, things you take for granted but of course have no idea, why should you, you’ve never had to think about it before. My OH still makes me chuckle when he pulls out a vest, a sleep suit or a romper suit and asks “So what’s this for then?”!

Anyway, here we are, 2 days off full term!

We had our last scan last week where everything is looking perfect, if on the larger side (ouch), each day I feel bean’s feet stamping into my ribcage and relish every painful squirm. We are, pretty much, sorted now. We picked up our amazing pram at the weekend, I’ve had it all out today playing with it. All clothes, sheets and nappies have been washed and dried. Moses basket has been made up. New chest of drawers have been erected so bean now has his/her own storage space (who knew they needed so much?). Hospital bag has been packed and ready to go so now starts the finally count down to bean’s arrival which is looking more and more likely to be on time. At our last hospital appointment we were told, because of my age, they would strongly advise me to be induced on my due date so unless bean makes an earlier appearance it would appear my ideal birth plan is nothing more than scrap paper, but as long as he/she arrives safe and well I really don’t care.

I’m feeling really good, despite the obvious aches and pains that come with pregnancy, no we don’t know what the baby’s sex is, we both feel it’s like opening up Christmas presents before Christmas Day and no we haven’t decided on names yet. If it’s a girl we have two we like, if it’s a boy we’re in trouble and hope if it is the latter he’ll enter this world singing his name!