My perfect, miracle daughter.

My perfect baby girl is here & is just over 4 weeks old.  My pregnancy continued to go pretty well & I managed to work until just over 38 weeks.  Right at the end of my third trimester, my fluid retention did get ridiculous and I could barely stand my feet and legs were so swollen, but other than that, I had a healthy & happy pregnancy.

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Unfortunately labour & birth did not follow suit! I won’t bore you all with the full details as I’ve already detailed this in Len’s diary, but in summary, I had to be induced & never really got into full labour before things started going very wrong.  At 4cm dilated, I was rushed into theatre, without my partner, and had a crash c section under general anaesthetic.  My baby’s heart rate was evidently dropping drastically and when the midwife broke my waters, they were full of meconium.  According to her hospital notes she was born “floppy, unresponsive and covered in thick meconium”.  She had to be resuscitated and the meconium suctioned from her mouth.

After battling years of infertility and waiting 9 long months to meet my daughter, both my partner & I missed her birth.  I’ve cried about this daily, I think I always will.  My daughter was born for over 4 hours before I got to see her. We couldn’t skin to skin for 3 days as she was in the SCBU and then as a final blow, my milk never came in, so I couldn’t breastfeed her.  I pumped for 12 days trying to express something, but there was nothing there, not even a drop.  Eventually my midwife managed to help me see that this wasn’t going to happen for me.  I was flogging a dead horse as it were.

I think this will upset me for the rest of my life.

I know, in my rational mind, that all that matters is that I have a completely amazing, healthy & beautiful daughter, but I just wanted everything to be perfect for her.  I now feel like I have failed her.  I couldn’t conceive her, I couldn’t birth her and now I can’t feed her.  Biologically, I guess my body just wasn’t designed to have children and yet despite this, I have been blessed with the most precious baby.  I almost feel like I don’t deserve her.  I owe some very clever doctors and the NHS so bloody much.

So now I’m at home with a little one and feeling somewhat overwhelmed.  The sleepless nights, coupled with raging hormones and trying to recover from major surgery has not been easy, but it’s all worth it when her little face looks up at me.  I honestly feel like my heart might explode.  I can’t wait for her first smile!

Now, bizarrely, I need to discuss contraception with my partner.  I have no frozen embryos and no money to do IVF privately, so we need to discuss whether we want to use contraception or not.  Obviously I am pretty convinced that it won’t happen naturally, based on my previous track record, but you never know.  You do hear stories about people getting pregnant naturally after years of infertility.  But do we even want another baby?

After a C section, you are advised not to get pregnant for a year.  I’ll be 39 then, and over 40 if I ever gave birth again. Could I do all this again in my forties?

Also, more importantly, I feel like having another child would also be unfair to Len.  The past 5 years have been all about trying to have her.  She is the centre of my world and deserves to be so.  She didn’t ask me to do what I did, so I feel like I owe her my undivided attention.  She doesn’t deserve another baby to come along and share my love.

For the moment, as I heal from a crash c section, this is not a decision I have to make just yet!  I shall just take time to enjoy my little IVF/ICSI miracle and make it my life’s mission to love her, cherish her and do my best to make her happy for as long as I live.

My journey has been tough, but all worth it and I am very lucky to get my happy ending.  I know so many ladies out there who have not been so lucky and every day I count my blessings as this story could easily have ended so differently.

Thank you for reading this blog and sharing my journey.  Thank you also for all your support.  I doubt I could have coped without the online infertile community!  For those of you still mid – journey, I hope with all my heart that one day, you get your miracle too.

 

22 weeks already! Warning – gross pregnancy symptoms discussed!

Well, it’s been a very long time since I’ve last blogged.  I feel, for the benefit of documenting my journey, I should explain why this is and what’s been happening since my last post.

I am now 22 weeks pregnant and on the whole things are pretty good.  I’m tired, but not as tired as I was during the first 3 months!  My back is starting to hurt a little.  When I walk, I can now feel that my bump is pushing my spine out of alignment, but hopefully yoga twice a week will keep this in check.  The heartburn has also started!  It’s just permanent and anything I eat sets it off.  I now have packs of Rennies everywhere, by my bed, on my desk, in my handbag.  But hey it’s a small price to pay!

Some other less pleasant pregnancy symptoms are as follows:

Discharge – what a lovely word!  Evidently this is normal (although I do have a docs appt to get all this stuff double checked next week!) But there’s loads of it.  I now have to wear panty liners (fuck me, another delightful combination of words!) every day and I still feel like I’ve permanently wet myself.

Vagina pain.  I really wasn’t expecting this! I mean, I was towards the end when my baby is enormous and pushing down on my pelvis, but not at 22 weeks!  I am unsure what’s causing it and I’m almost slightly unsure which bit of my muff is hurting, but it kinda feels heavy, throbbing and achy and then in the evenings a stabbing pain starts.  It’s really quite uncomfortable, but it’s not terrible.  All this stuff just makes you panic a bit.  No one ever mentions this is in pregnancy books!

Breathlessness and difficulty breathing.  This is the one that’s worrying me most.  It also happens at really weird times.  That is, not when I’ve just walked half an hour up hill to work, but when I’m sitting at my desk exerting absolutely no energy whatsoever.  It almost feels as if something is crushing my chest and I am struggling to breathe.  It feels like I need my inhaler which I only ever use once in a blue moon after an allergy induced asthma attack.  Anyway hopefully my GP will be able to reassure me next week.

Other than that though.  I feel pretty good.  I first noticed Len wriggle at about 17 weeks.  It was a very weird sensation and I couldn’t categorically say it was a baby moving, but as it’s got stronger, I know that it was. From about 20 weeks her wriggling seems to be more routine.  She will wriggle in the shower, at my desk at about 3pm and then in the evenings at about 8-9pm.  Lately I’ve felt a couple of actual kicks and last night my other half actually managed to feel slight movement with his hand on my tummy.  He was so chuffed!

From the last paragraph, you’ve probably noticed that Len is a girl!  We found this out at our disastrous 20 week scan.  All I really cared about was that I had a healthy baby girl, but thanks to the sonographer, who was so fucking rude and unpleasant, the entire experience was ruined.  I am quite literally overjoyed that Len is a girl.  Because of infertility, I’d have been over the moon whatever Len was and I really didn’t think I cared about the sex and then when I heard “It’s a girl” I just lost it.  I literally wailed and wailed and at that point realised how much I had actually wanted a girl.  I’m very close to my Mum and to think that I will hopefully now have the same relationship with my own daughter still overwhelms me.  I honestly feel like the luckiest girl on the planet right now. (Just writing that has set me off into floods of tears again!)

So, why have I not blogged then?  The answer is it just feels weird now.  I feel like my pregnancy is a private thing between me and Len.  The minute you start to show, pregnancy does have a down side!  EVERYONE wants to know your business.  EVERYONE has an opinion and EVERYONE thinks it’s ok to ask you really personal questions.  “Was it planned?” “Was it a mistake?” “Are you sure there’s only one in there?” “You’re very big for 20 weeks” “Are you going to breastfeed”  “Don’t put on too much weight” “Have you got any stretch marks yet?”

OH DO FUCK OFF PEOPLE! This is quite literally none of your business and I don’t have to answer this shit!

So I’ve become very protective of me, Len and our information.  I just want to scream “This is my moment and my baby.  I’ve waited a fucking long time for this, so would you all please just fuck the fuck off and leave me alone?” (I fully concede that hormones might be making me a little more unstable than usual!)

What I have started to do however is write a diary for Len.  I bought a gorgeous little notebook with elephants on and every few days I just jot down a little message to Len about how I’m feeling, what we’ve been up to etc. This feels much more comfortable for me and I think is really helping me to bond with and communicate with my daughter already.

Anyway, so that’s me so far.  The medical stuff is all ok (forgot to mention, my downs test came back as “low” thankfully) and Len seems to be doing well.  In real life, one of my oldest and dearest friends is pregnant (10 weeks behind me) so I am chuffed to pieces about that.  It will be so nice to share the experience with one of my closest friends, and more importantly, for our children to grow up together.

So that’s my news.  A rollercoaster of emotions, but so far, thankfully blessed with a healthy and not too problematic pregnancy.  The next big milestone is a private 4D scan I have booked for end of November.  So I will try and blog and post some pics of that.

PS – Len doesn’t have a name yet.  We’re down to shortlist of about 5 names, but can’t get any further!

Dating Scan

Yesterday was my NHS dating scan.  Also known as your 12 week scan, although this is somewhat inaccurate as I was 12 weeks, 6 days.

My other half picked me up from work and before I knew it, I was back in the Womens and Childrens Unit of my local hospital.  All very surreal as the last time I was here was December, just before I was referred to a private fertility clinic.  This time I am one of the preggos that I used to sit and scowl at.  I still scowl.  I don’t think I will ever stop feeling infertile.  One of the twitter ladies suggested we get bump badges made up saying “Please don’t hate my bump, it took me 4 years and a whole heap of hell to get here”.  Maybe this could be a money spinner?

Anyway, we were finally called and I am told to lie on the couch.  Already I can tell I am just a normal preggo now. There’s no excitement and personal service like there was at the fertility clinic, I am just now a NHS number and this sonographer has clearly done a few scans in her lifetime and can barely muster up a response as I coo “Oooh is that a hand?” “Is that a leg?” “Isn’t he so cute” etc etc.

We did get to see lots of cool things however.  We saw both sides of Len’s brain. His spine, feet & hands.  We saw him stretch, kick and yawn.  It was adorable and completely surreal.  Len wasn’t behaving however and was evidently sitting bolt upright while the sonographer was trying to measure him.  At this point I had to lift my bum into a yoga bridge position and “truffle shuffle” in the hope that this would encourage Len to move.  He still wasn’t right, so at this point the sonographer starts whacking my stomach with some force.  She was pressing so bloody hard, it was agony, but at least I got to see Len for a little bit longer.

She finally got all the measurements she needed.  Len was nearly 8cm long which put me at 13 weeks, 5 days.  This is 6 days ahead of my current dates which had been based on my egg collection.  The sonographer then said that she would change my estimated due date as the scan overruled any previous dates.  I explained that I knew exactly when I’d conceived as I’d had IVF, so I know when my eggs were collected, but she still insisted that my due date would change because of the scan measurement.  Oh well, I’m sure it’s not going to make any difference to Len, he’ll just come when he’s good and ready. So anyway, I have no idea how pregnant I am now.  I am just going with my original calculations from egg collection, so I think I am 13 weeks today.

After much deliberation, I’d also opted for the first downs syndrome test which was done at this scan.  During the scan, they take a measurement of the level of fluid from behind the baby’s neck and combine this with a blood test and the mother’s age to get a risk level for downs syndrome.  The nurse said that the fluid looked ok, but obviously I will have to wait for the blood test etc to get my official result.  If the result is low, I will just get a letter in the post within 2 weeks.  If the result is high, then I will receive a phone call within the next 4 working days and my next step options will be explained to me.  I am 37, so this is a concern for me, but I am just hoping beyond hell that the sonographer was right and everything is ok.  Guess we’ll find out in the next few days.

I have attached a piccie of big ol’ Len.  Isn’t he adorable?  We’ve also started telling people.  We’re not making a big facebook announcement or anything.  I’m still too scared for any of that bollocks, but just telling family and friends who don’t already know.  To be honest my stomach is getting so big, I’m not going to be able to hide it much longer.  Also for those reading this who’ve not read my whole blog (err why not?!!!), Len is just a generic, fun name for the bump.  We adopted it right at the beginning before we knew if it was one or two babies, girl or boy.  We still don’t know the sex, but until we do, and decide on a proper name, Len it is. This is also why I refer to Len as a he.  Len is a boy’s name and I don’t want to call my baby an “it”, so for the time being, he’s a he.

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11 weeks tomorrow

I haven’t blogged in ages.  Apologies.  This has been half deliberate and half plain laziness! The deliberate part has been because I haven’t wanted to “jinx” things.  Since my last blog post where I ended up in A&E, thinking I’d lost my baby, I’ve been much more tentative about the whole pregnancy thing. I was even afraid to go to my midwife appointment as I thought I was tempting fate by even holding an appointment letter that had the word “midwife” written on it.

The laziness is because I am SO DAMN TIRED!

I haven’t had many pregnancy symptoms.  In any other situation, I suppose I would feel lucky and blessed, but instead this has just given me more reason to panic.  I do have some symptoms which include: weird boob pain, a dull headache (that I’ve had constantly since implantation), hunger (I’ve never known anything like it! I’m starving, all the time) and tiredness.  The tiredness is overwhelming.  After a full day at work I can just about manage to eat my dinner before falling asleep on the sofa.  Since being pregnant, I don’t think I’ve seen past 10pm!

I’ve felt slightly nauseous on the odd occasion, but nothing that I would call morning sickness.  My nipples are meant to have darkened and veins in my boobs are meant to be showing.  None of this is happening and if I hadn’t found Len’s heartbeat on my Doppler yesterday, the lack of these symptoms would be freaking the shit out of me.

I’ve put on weight, about half a stone so far, which is stressing me, as all the books keep telling me that I shouldn’t really have put on any weight in the first trimester.  Although how I was meant to manage that when I’ve been constantly hungry, I’ll never know!

I also now have a bump, it’s only small, but it’s there.  My stomach also feels weird.  It’s hard and lumpy and feels like all sorts of weird stuff is going on in there!

Generally however, there’s not been much news.  I had my first midwife appointment which mainly consisted of a load of medical questions, taking three vials of blood and me pissing in a plastic cup.  My midwife seems lovely however and has two children, both from IVF, which is fab as she actually understands what I’ve been through and how important this is to me.

I am waiting for a date for my 12 week scan, but evidently it can only happen between 12+1 and 13+5 days anyway, so I am estimating that it will be w/c 26th August.  I really need this scan soon for some reassurance.  Also I need to start buying some maternity clothes as NOTHING fits me already, but again, I refuse to buy anything baby/maternity related until I see a healthy baby at my dating scan.

In other news, I started using my cocoa butter stretch mark and bust cream today.  It’s lush.  My boobs have never been so soft!

A royal baby and a right royal panic.

Monday was officially the worst day of my life (so far).  I say so far, as since Monday, all my relaxed optimism seems to have dissipated and I’m left with a looming dread that my pregnancy may not be as smooth as I had hoped for.

The day started with the news of the royal baby.  Kate was in labour.  Every TV channel, every radio station, every website, twitter.  You couldn’t escape it.  As an infertile republican, I really couldn’t give the remotest toss about this baby.  I mean, I wish them a healthy baby, like I would any couple, but what makes their baby so special?  How many women all over the world were giving birth at the same time?  Most without sufficient medical care, let alone the finest consultants England has to offer.  How many children will be born into poverty while this baby has everything on a plate funded by the taxpayer?  Anyway rant over, but it didn’t put me in the best of moods.

My day was a pretty nondescript day at work except for having to deliver one disciplinary meeting which I suppose was slightly stressful.

I’d got home and my other half wasn’t due home until about 7.15pm.  I thought I’d quickly phone my mum while he was out as she normally phones me at about 8pm and we’d be eating late that night.  Just as the line connected and I said “Hello!”, I felt something wet between my legs.  I looked down and there was blood dripping down my bare legs.  I hung up the phone and ran to the toilet.  

Within seconds, blood was literally pumping out of me.  I then felt something quite large come out.  It was either a massive blood clot or it was my baby.  I felt sick and started shaking violently.  I started fishing around in the toilet bowl to see if I could catch hold of what had just come out of me.  I needed to know if i’d just lost my baby, but whatever it was, it had already gone past the u bend.  There I stood, covered in blood just staring at the toilet and feeling absolutely numb.

I didn’t know what to do.  I haven’t got a midwife yet. My clinic was closed and what could they do anyway?  The Early Pregnancy Unit at the hospital was closed.  My only option was A&E.  

My other half was due home in about 15 mins.  I didn’t want to text him as I just wanted him to drive safely and knew he wasn’t going to get home any quicker because of my text.  I ran a quick, cool bath and tried to wash away the blood.  But more and more kept coming.  Eventually I was just sitting in a red bath.

I got out the bath, more blood.  The towel was covered, the bath mat was covered, two pairs of knickers were soaked.  I just left it all in a heap on the bathroom floor and threw on some clothes.  

I quickly phoned my Mum back and explained what had happened and why I’d just abandoned her.  I wouldn’t have normally told her as wouldn’t have wanted to worry her until I knew the outcome, but seeing as I’d cut her off mid sentence, I knew she’d be worrying anyway. She was beside herself, which made me feel even worse.

My other half arrived home and I just said we needed to go to A&E right away.  He saw the bloody pile on the bathroom floor and every bit of colour drained from his face.  

We both sat in complete silence while he drove me to the local hospital.  I felt extremely guilty going to A&E as I was brought up to believe that you only go to A&E if you are on the brink of death, which I wasn’t.  I also knew that if I was miscarrying, there was nothing they could do to help me.  However I couldn’t just sit and wait till morning after losing so much blood and also possibly my baby.

We were booked in and then had to wait about an hour to be seen by the triage nurse.  We both sat in silence and just stared into space.  All in all, we were at the hospital for about 2 hours, but it felt like 20 minutes.  Thankfully the bleeding had eased up.  Most of the blood had come out within the space of about an hour and had now turned into a light bleed.  

The worst part about the whole wait however was when some arsehole of a man announced to the room the good news that the royal baby had been born and it was a boy.  I somehow managed to make it to the toilets before bursting into tears.  What a fucking insensitive twat.  He had no idea why people were sitting in A&E and I’m guessing that for most of us, a royal baby wasn’t a priority.  The last thing I wanted to hear was that news, when I was convinced I’d just miscarried.

The triage nurse took some details and then said she would contact the emergency gynaecology unit and they would see me for a scan.  After another wait, we were collected by a porter who escorted us to the Emergency Gynaecological Assessment Unit.

We were there seen by a lovely trainee doctor who explained that she was just waiting for her boss to finish dealing with another patient and then she would get me scanned.

After about 10 minutes the senior doctor arrived and I was led into the examination room.  A quick medical history was taken and then they did the scan.  As I was still less than 8 weeks, it was an internal scan.  Within seconds the doctor said “This will make you happy” and turned the screen towards us.  Len was still there, heart beating away.  At this point I burst into huge uncontrollable sobs.  My partner was beside himself.  I couldn’t look at him, I couldn’t stop crying, I was just completely expecting to be told that there was no sign of my baby.

At this point the doctor said I had to stop crying because she couldn’t get a good scan picture, so somehow I managed to pull myself together and we got a close up picture of Len’s heart beating.  She then also turned the sound on and we got to HEAR Len’s heart.  Amazing.

The doctor then asked me if her junior could take over as she was training and needed to do a trans vaginal scan.  I explained that I was so bloody grateful to them, they could do whatever they wanted for as long as they wanted!

The doctor then gave us a couple of photos and a letter confirming the details of the scan.  Len is now a whopping 13.7mm.

I was told to rest up for a couple of days and to get to my doctor asap as I needed a midwife sooner rather than later.  (I already had an appointment booked for Wednesday morning)

We walked out of the hospital in a complete delirium.  We both then suddenly realised how hungry and thirsty we were as we’d both just left the house without any food or drink.  We got home and my partner made us tea and cheese on toast.

Two days later and I’m still drained, exhausted and reeling from the events of Monday night.  I’ve taken a few days off work and will go back on Saturday.  It appears that Len is a fighter.  Let’s just hope he keeps on fighting as we’re not out of the woods yet.

One beautiful heartbeat.

Over the past few weeks I have been coming to terms with being pregnant.  I’ve even allowed myself to get a bit excited.  I’ve definitely felt pregnant.  I’ve been extremely tired and hungry like I have never been hungry before!  The stabby pains in my boobs are back and my nipples are sore.  Nausea seems to have kicked in.  Thankfully it’s not too bad, but if I get hungry (which I do, frequently) I feel a bit sick.  This heatwave hasn’t helped either. So generally I’ve been feeling pregnant and have been getting used to the idea of being pregnant.

Then, this week, the doubts started creeping in.  I am sure this is normal for someone who’s had trouble conceiving, but by the time I walked into the clinic this morning I had 100% managed to convince myself that something was wrong.

My favourite nurse came and collected us as soon as we walked in and we were taken into one of the scan rooms.  I was asked how I was doing, had the bleeding stopped and then without any delay, she just got on with the scan.

I lay there with my partner by my side and immediately as dildocam went in I could see a “blob” and the nurse smiled.  “There’s your baby” she said.  At which point I burst into tears.  We could see the yolk sac (which looks like a little halo on the picture) and the baby is the blob on the low left of the halo.  Then, once she had a good picture, we saw the heartbeat.  It was truly magical.  One beautiful heartbeat.  I knew that we should be seeing a heartbeat if all was ok, but I wasn’t prepared for how emotional it would be to see it.  Cue even more tears.

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My partner didn’t cry (I’ve never seen him cry, he’s very stoic and serious) but he was the most emotional I’ve ever seen him.  I think for him, it suddenly became real today.  He now won’t let me lift anything and is questioning if I am walking anywhere.  He hasn’t done this up until now, so it’s nice that he finally seems to be excited about this pregnancy. I suppose it’s hard for them to “get” what’s going on when they don’t have any symptoms and they can’t see any evidence of a baby apart from my stomach bloating and me farting a lot!

The nurse took some measurements and then the machine automatically calculated how far along I was from those measurements: 7 weeks, one day.  Exactly what I am.  Perfect.

After lots of hugs from the nurse, we left clutching a series of photos of Len and a letter for my GP.

Afterwards my partner and I went for a celebratory tea and cake and then my mum came to visit and we went for a long lazy lunch.  Mum is absolutely beside herself with excitement and couldn’t believe the video we have of the heartbeat.

My partner wants to tell his folks tomorrow (they know nothing of our journey so far), so we will be off to the in laws with scan photos and our little 30 second video of a small, pulsating blob.

Anyway, what a day.  I am still totally overwhelmed by it all.  I’ve called the doctors and have made an appointment for next Wednesday.  Then I get referred to the midwife and become a normal pregnant person!  Wowsers! So near, yet so far.  Hang on Lennie, please!  I’m already totally, madly in love with you.

Somewhere between a sesame seed and a pea.

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Today I am 5 weeks, 5 days pregnant.  Each day I seem to be a little more comfortable using the “P” word.  I’ve had to say it twice in the chemist.  Once when I was asking about hayfever medication and once when I was trying to get out of paying my prescription fee.  Turns out I can’t take any medication for the hayfever, not even eyedrops, and I need a form to prove I’m up the duff to get free prescriptions.  Well, obviously, but I thought it was worth a try!

I did another ClearBlue pregnancy test a week after my OTD and it rose to 3+ weeks.  When I saw that, I did begin to relax a little.  I still feel pregnant.  I’ve still got the headache and the tiredness and my boobs are still doing weird things.  Today also I stopped bleeding which is a MASSIVE weight off my mind.

I’ve been doing pregnancy tests each day.  I bought a stack of cheapie paper strip style pregnancy tests from amazon and I test at a different time each day, but mostly in the afternoons and evening when my HCG level is meant to be at it’s lowest.  I get excited when I see how quickly the pink line appears.  Today I almost wet myself with excitement because the “pregnant” line was way darker than the actual “test” line. Talking of wetting myself, the constant peeing has started.  Today, in the space of 4 hours, I managed 6 wees.

As a result of trying to be positive and embrace my pregnancy I’ve even downloaded a pregnancy app so I can track my weight & symptoms.  It also tells me a little bit each week about what is happening to me and my baby/babies.  Evidently it/they are somewhere between the size of a sesame seed (week 5) and a pea (week 6).

My partner and I have also started talking about being pregnant.  We’ve even jokily discussed names and, less jokily, how we will need to rearrange the house to fit a cot in!  We have nicknamed whatever is inside my stomach as “Len”.  This came about when a baby name generator suggested “Lennie” as an appropriate first name to match our offspring’s surname.  This provoked much hilarity from my partner and I as we both launched into Father Ted jokes about Bishop Len Brennan.  So there we go, “ Len” is now the generic name for whatever is inside me.  One or two, male or female.  For a while, it/they will be known as “Len”.

Now let’s just hope Len has a heartbeat and I haven’t been getting all excited over nothing.  10 more sleeps till scan.