Return to employment!

Well it has been a busy couple of days!

I have written before (albeit in deliberately vague terms) about how I had to leave my previous job whilst on maternity leave.  Not only was this an incredibly stressful process in itself (due to a potential legal battle) but I was left in a panic about what it meant for my long term career prospects.

As I am now 18 weeks pregnant and live in the middle of nowhere, I have been extremely restricted in the roles that I can go for.  Having gone for a few interim roles with no success (unless you count the role that would have required a 5 hour daily commute…), my morale has been quite low.  I’ve been making lemonade out of the lemons and have been focussing on the extra quality time that I’ve been given with Baby Flat (which beats any amount of money!), but I have been concerned about my career and financial stability in the long term.

Anyway, as the world works in mysterious ways, on Friday I received a phone call at 3:15pm asking me to have a phone interview for a massive company at 4pm that day as they needed some immediate interim support.

Shit.

After a manic hour frantically researching the company and getting interview ready, I had the interview and was told I would hear back early this week.  Cue: very anxious weekend trying to make provisional ‘plans’ for if I got the job, whilst trying not to get too invested.

As the hours passed by yesterday, I assumed it was a no-go and prepared myself for the ‘thank you but no thanks’ call.  As I had just talked myself out of everything, at the 11th hour I got the call and found out that I had got the job!

Before I knew it I was filling in all the new starter information and on an 8:30pm call being briefed on the project.  I start next Tuesday (a year to the day since I went on maternity leave) and the project could last anything from a month to three months+.

Although I am excited for this new opportunity, and it is the type of role I have been trying to get for a while, I am also terrified of how I am going to juggle it all.  Mostly I am worried about Baby Flat and how he will cope with suddenly spending long hours in nursery.  We have had to settle for a nursery I am not 100% happy with, due to the short notice and the location of my new job, which will make leaving him behind each day even harder.  The nursery is fine, but they just don’t seem very enthusiastic or clued up or helpful.  Maybe I am asking too much? Maybe it is just general ‘Mother Anxiety’.  I guess all I can do is see how the next few weeks pan out and hope the everything fits into place…

Eeeeeeeek!

x x x

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This girl can’t

It’s been a funny weekend.  A lot has happened and I have gone from a massive high on Saturday to a crushing low on Sunday.  I am now just lazing about in some sort of bleeeurghhhh mood being generally unproductive.

Thankfully my baby is still ok, which is the important thing and is what I am clinging to while I feel a bit down.

I wrote the other day about how this pregnancy has been totally different from the last one.  I have been a lot more ill generally and have had a few scares with cramping and bleeding, even ending up in hospital twice.

On Saturday morning a scan showed that my placenta is currently lying quite low and I had haemorrhaged just above my cervix, hence the bleeding.  The sonographer was not particularly worried, but said it would be something that would need to be monitored.  She also said if I had any further bleeding I needed to go straight to hospital to get checked out.

Following the excitement of the scan and knowing our baby was still ok, I spent the rest of Saturday preparing for the Great North Run the next day (it’s amazing how much you need to do: fill out all the forms and ICE information, get your running kit ready (clothes, gels, energy sweets etc), get bags ready for the end of the race (warm clothes and food!), make an iPod playlist, make sure you’ve got your parking permit and change for the bus etc etc).  With the hubby’s family coming up to support us at the race, and my family being on babysitting duty, we were both on quite a high that day!

I had been nervous about the race the week beforehand, as (in addition to the bleeding and cramping) I had been fighting a chest infection and had been sick at least once a day for the past few weeks.  On the afternoon before the race however, I was feeling much better and was still on a high from our scan.  I felt really excited for the next day and couldn’t wait to be part of such an amazing race and team (and, of course, get to the finish line!!!).  As a result of my bleeding and general ‘post pregnancy and c section’ state, I’d already decided that I wasn’t going to overly push myself and would only jog/walk the course, so in a way I felt less pressure than ever.

IMG_7090
The running vest I sadly never got to wear!

On Saturday night Baby Flat went to bed at a respectable time and I managed to get to sleep by 10:30pm.  Suddenly at midnight I woke up feeling horrendous and needing to vomit.  I proceeded to spend the next 5 hours in the bathroom being ill and getting more and more distressed as it became clear that I was not going to be well enough to do the race.  With every hour that passed, I would think “If I can just get 4 hours sleep/3 hours sleep/2 hours sleep I can still do it”.  Sadly, even when the vomiting stopped I simply felt drained and couldn’t get to sleep.

Instead of racing the Great North Run yesterday, I spent the day cuddled up on the sofa in floods of tears.  It turns out that, sadly, this girl can’t*.

It sounds melodramatic, and my dad kindly pointed out that I needed to “get over it and move on” ( true, but he could have waited another day or two to say that! He’s just so British…).  But the event had just meant so much to me.

None of my friends get it.  They have said that it’s “just a race” and that my “health comes first” and “there will be other races”.  Which is all completely true and is probably exactly what I would be saying if the roles were reversed.  But it’s what the race represented to me.  It was partly being able to run for an amazing charity and be able to honour of D & A (our friends who have just had a stillbirth) and all my friends and family who have had miscarriages.  But it was also partly to prove to myself that I can achieve something and do something to be proud of.  While the last 11 months with Baby Flat have been the happiest of my life, in other ways I have had a horrible 18 months (dealing with discrimination, losing my job and not even getting interviewed for other jobs (a post for another day), gaining so much weight and losing all my fitness).  I just wanted to feel like I was starting to get back to where I used to be.

So now I just feel very sad.  I know this will pass in a few days and I am acutely aware of how much I have to be grateful for.  I also know that this little disappointment doesn’t even compare to stuff many people across the world are dealing with right now!  But sometimes you just need to wallow a little.

I am trying to be positive and think about what I can do to mentally bounce back from this little blip.  As 2018 will hopefully be a no-go for competitive training (as I am expecting Baby Flat the Second in February), I am thinking that maybe in 2019 I need to go bigger and better than my current goal of the Great North Run and sign up for a few half marathons! (The obvious option is to sign up for a marathon, but my knees and hips would die at the mere thought!!!).

What have others done to make themselves feel better after a series of setbacks? Maybe I can take inspiration from you!

Today I still feel quite subdued about the race, but I am focussing much more on the good things.  As I have said time and time again (and I will stop in future posts as it really does come across as sanctimonious wishy washy cr*p), I will never stop being grateful to have Baby Flat and that I get to spend so much time with him while he’s little.

I am also thankful that Baby Flat the Second is doing well.  To end on some happy news, at our scan on Saturday we found out that we are expecting a little girl! We are both over the moon about this. We would genuinely have been happy either way (I could not love Baby Flat any more, so would happily welcome another little boy), but it is so exciting knowing and being able to picture things a little more and be able to refer to our baby is “she” rather that “it”.

To be honest, I already highly suspected it was a girl, as this pregnancy has been so different.  I wonder if there is any merit in these ‘old wives tales’?


*A reference for my fellow Brits.  I’m a big fan of the ‘This Girl Can’campaign, which encourages women of all ages, sizes and abilities to just get out and get active and have fun!

Life at the (almost) 11 month mark

Where on earth has the last year gone? I can’t believe it’s almost been a year since I went on maternity leave and nearly 11 months since Baby Flat was born! Time has flown by and I’m really not sure where all the days have gone.  To be honest, they have all sort of blurred into one.

Motherhood is fantastic.  I don’t want to bang on about it too much, as I know how much it hurts to read that when you’re still trying to become a mother (or father).  All I will say is that I still don’t understand parents who constantly moan about how hard life is with children.  I still cringe at the Facebook posts about how grateful parents are that school has started again and they can “go back to work for a rest” and I still want to smack my head against a wall when I see memes like this (which I have seen most days over the past few weeks):

Meme

Maybe I am still far too sensitive about things, but I was never so exhausted as when I was desperately trying to have a child, waiting months to go from one fertility appointment to the next, having an invasive operation and having our IVF halted at the very last moment (all while trying to hold down a very demanding job and crazy commute). And none of that even compares to what so many people went through/are still going through in their fight to become parents.

As I have said before, I don’t think I will ever stop being grateful that things worked out for us and that we have a healthy child. I do find it odd when friends who also struggled go on to plaster Facebook with parenting nonsense like the meme above.  I don’t mean the friends who put up pictures of their babies (I secretly love the babies that were conceived after a struggle that little bit more), but the ones who will update about how much they want a break from the baby or how their baby is a “great contraceptive” because “nobody would have a second”.  I know I sounds harsh and sanctimonious, but how have they forgotten so quickly?

As it turns out, perhaps I should be a little less sanctimonious about the whole thing and stop waving my “it’s not always easy” flag. Apparently, I am the most fertile infertile there ever was, as I am currently 16 weeks pregnant.  I know.  WTAF?

Baby Flat the Second 

When I blogged a few months ago, I explained that we decided to start trying for a second very soon after Baby Flat was born.  We had been advised to wait at least a year because of the C Section, but after researching it and finding there wasn’t a huge increase in complications when a conception happened at 6 months post C section compared with 12 months, we decided to crack on.  Our logic was that it OBVIOUSLY wouldn’t happen any time soon, if at all, as we had taken years to conceive Baby Flat, we were both older, I’d been butchered by the C section and I was still mostly breast feeding. We felt that if we were not able to have a second, we didn’t want to look back and wonder if it may have been possible if we’d started trying before the 12 month mark.

So in the end it took us three months.  What even is that? That’s not even verging on trying.  It’s embarrassing and makes me cringe even thinking about it! Yes, we timed things and used OPKs and all that, but in our experience three months is the interval between each fertility investigation, not the entire time it takes to conceive a baby.

I fully appreciate that I am now a walking cliché.  I am the girl who fell pregnant the month her IVF was cancelled.  The girl who fell pregnant on holiday (although I did ovulate pre-holiday).  The girl who fell pregnant after she said she’d never go on birth control again, as Baby Flat was the miracle baby she never thought she’d have.

Seriously, I hate myself.  I do have had to deal with my fair share of inane comments though (“You fell pregnant so easily because your body now knows what to do”, which is pretty offensive anyway but also stupid considering the most serious of our fertility problems were male factor!).

BUT, I am once again so incredibly grateful to be pregnant.  I can’t believe this is happening a second time and we will hopefully have a second child.

So far this pregnancy has been quite different.  With Baby Flat, I felt pretty well until week 35 of the pregnancy but gained a heap of weight (about 5 stone / 70lbs!).  With this pregnancy, I haven’t gained any weight (I was fat to begin with though), but I have felt so unbelievably ill.  I am still sick and keep coming down with every viral infection going.  I have also had some nasty scares and have ended up in hospital with bleeding twice.  It is every bit as nerve wracking this time round, and I am certainly not taking anything for granted.

The Great North Run and Tommy’s

(*Trigger Warning* – I am about to talk about stillbirth, so please do not read if this will be triggering).

Although I am feeling awful, I am still hoping to run my half marathon this weekend.  My family don’t want me to do it as one of the bleeds I had was straight after running 10k.  I must admit, I do have reservations about attending the race and running and really don’t want to do anything that could harm the baby.  I feel I have to though, as I have raised money for Tommy’s (a charity that supports those who have suffered miscarriage, stillbirth and premature birth and which funds research into these issues) and I just don’t want to let the charity down.

Last month, a couple who are two of our best friends had a stillbirth.  I won’t say too much about their story, but this came after two miscarriages and over a year of trying before they became pregnant with this little boy.  They were so blissfully happy throughout her pregnancy and I just can’t get my head around how one couple can have so much suffering.   I know there is nothing I can do or say for them, but I feel like raising money for this charity is about the only proactive thing I can do.

Werk, werk, werk, werk werk

The other big thing that has affected me over the past few months is my job.  It’s a shame as I should have been allowed to enjoy my maternity leave and return to a supportive working environment.

I can’t face even wasting a tiny amount of energy writing down everything that happened with work over the past few months.  All I will say is that they did a lot of really awful, illegal things and pushed me to the point where I simply could not go back.  I ended up taking legal advice, and the employment lawyer was absolutely gobsmacked at some of the things they had done.  Not only because they broke so many laws, but because they were so brazen in the way they did it and because they left so much evidence (many professional services firms do similar things, but most know not to put incriminating things in writing!).  Anyway, the end result is I settled with them and left my job.

The whole experience was awful.  My confidence has been completely crushed by them and I am going to struggle to find work in that field again (a field I had to study for many years, do unpaid work to get the experience required, then work my arse off 24/7 to prove myself as a junior) .  In this line of work, they expect you to only take a few months of maternity leave at most.  As I will hopefully be off on maternity leave again from January 2018, and it’s unlikely I can find interim work before then, it will be a good two years of being out of work at the point I start applying again.  It makes me incredibly nervous for the future, and it also makes me incredibly angry that this is happening in 2017.

Still, I am trying to remain as positive as possible.  If it’s a choice between having a good career or a healthy child, let alone two healthy children (neither of which I thought possible two years ago), I know which option I’d pick!

x x x

Life at the 6 month point

I will start off by apologising for not being better at keeping up with everyone’s blogs.  I’ve been trying to keep track of where everyone is at and what’s going on, but I’m finding it harder to read every single post.  Pre-baby I would often read the blogs on my long commute home, but (thankfully) I’m not having to do that at the moment.

So as an update, things are going really well for me and Baby Flat, who just celebrated his 6 month birthday.  He is a cheeky little boy and we all absolutely adore him.  Unlike his grumpy mother, he’s a smily happy little boy who seems almost permanently chilled out.

I absolutely love motherhood and never stop feeling grateful that I’m getting to experience this. Even at its hardest (and yes, however grateful I am, I don’t have a grin on my face during the 2am feeds!), it’s still a million times easier than dealing with fertility problems and the fear that we would never become parents.  I often find it quite hard to relate to all the other NCT mums who never stop complaining about every minor problem.  I feel like I don’t really fit in, as I don’t particularly find motherhood hard (or more specifically, I don’t sweat the tiny inconveniences of parenthood) and so I have no desire to complain about any of it and equally I don’t want to be flaunting everything on social media under the #maternityleave and #mummylife hashtags, as if I always had some automatic right to those things.

I also find it hard that the NCT girls are all talking about their second children and what age gap they want.  It makes me want to scream.  With the exception of one girl (who is generally a lovely person and who had a miscarriage with her first pregnancy so gets that things aren’t always straightforward), they are all so confident that it will happen when they want it to.  They’re planning to time things to coincide with school holidays and pay rises and one has even said the only reason she’s not trying anytime soon is because she wants to drink next Christmas and so they’ve “decided to conceive” in January instead.

As it happens, BT and I have started trying for a second baby.  We thought long and hard about whether to leave it until Baby Flat was 12 months old, to allow me longer to recover from the horrific c section.  Our hearts were saying to try fairly quickly after Baby Flat was born while our heads were saying to wait a year.  In the end, after researching the potential risks of having a second baby quickly after Baby Flat, we decided to crack on because:

  1. the danger to mother and child doesn’t dramatically decrease after 12 months.  Although the risk is less when conception happens 12 months after the c section than 6 months after, there isn’t a huge difference (especially if you don’t attempt a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean));
  2. we struggled first time around and it took several years before we successfully conceived.  Since then, we are (almost) two years older, I had a c section which considerably damaged my uterus, I have mostly been breastfeeding Baby Flat…in all honesty, what are the chances we’ll now suddenly have a quick conception?! (yes, I know I know…so many stories about the couple who thought they couldn’t have kids then went on to have 10…blah blah blah);
  3. even if we do successfully conceive, that doesn’t necessarily mean we will have a successful pregnancy and birth.  We were incredibly lucky with Baby Flat (apart from the horror of the delivery and what could have been), but so many people aren’t that lucky and I don’t think it’s right to assume that getting a BFP would be the only hurdle!; and
  4. if we are unable to have a second child, we would always wonder whether we could have conceived in the 6-12 months after Baby Flat was born.  At least this way we can’t have any regrets about “leaving things too late”.

It’s a funny old position TTC#2.  In a way there’s none of the magic and excitement of the first few months of TTC#1, because neither of us really believe it will happen quickly.  We also know exactly where I am in my cycle, when to time DTD, how often we should DTD, that I have poor eggs, that BT has poor sperm and that I have a short luteal phase…basically all the things we learned over several years of TTC#1!!

In a way if feels like we’re picking up where we left off just over a year ago.

But then it’s also so very different.  There’s no symptom spotting or rearranging schedules to make sure we can DTD around ovulation or disappointment when my period comes.  There just isn’t any of the anxiety and fear and heartbreak.  I imagine that in two or three years, if things haven’t happened, we will feel quite down.  But I can’t imagine it will ever come close to what we felt before.  Yes, we will always be a little bit sad if we can’t give Baby Flat a sibling.  But that’s all it will be: a little bit sad.  I just don’t see how it can compare to the fear we had before, or what so many of our friends who are struggling with primary infertility are going through.

First time around I got a lot of support from some friends I met on Mumsnet, who I am still friends with today.  This time there just isn’t really anywhere to go to chat.  As I found when TTC#1, most people want a baby and then it seems to just happen straight away.  Any threads about having a baby stop before they have even started, because everyone falls pregnant straight away.  Then there are also plenty of threads about secondary infertility, but these also aren’t appropriate.  Firstly, we’re not even at that stage yet.  Secondly, I just can’t stomach the chat about how “this is so hard for [us] because [we] conceived DC1/DC2 straight away, so this waiting is total hell”.  I mean, really? I am so sorry that you conceived your previous children so easily. (To have a total vent, I even saw one person who already has EIGHT children between her and her new partner and was complaining that they couldn’t have a baby together!).

So as well as looking after Baby Flat and TTC#2, I have also been job hunting and slowly getting back into exercise.  I’m completely undecided about what to do job-wise: if I leave now I have to pay back all my enhanced maternity pay, which isn’t a life-changing amount but would be a struggle to find.  Also I really don’t want to give them anything after the way they treated me (and will continue to treat me if I return).  That said, I can’t put a price on my health and to never have to see those idiots again and another job may also allow me to spend more time with Baby Flat.

As for exercise, I now feel mostly ok after the c section, although the bottom half of my tummy is still completely numb and I sometimes feel like I’m ‘ripping’ when I move.  I am trying to do a little bit of gentle exercise when I can.  It is a huge challenge and I am certainly not ‘bouncing back’ from pregnancy! The weight is still lingering (I’ve lost 2 and a half stone and have at least another 2 to go) and all my joints ache and my muscles don’t work.  It’s tough, but I am trying! Rome wasn’t built in a day and all that…

To try to motivate me and spur me on I have signed up to run the Great North Run this September.  This is the biggest half marathon in the world and is usually a load of fun.  I’m incredibly nervous this year though, so it really will be a huge challenge. I’ve decided to run for Tommy’s, which is a UK charity which (amongst other things) funds research into the causes and prevention of miscarriage, stillbirth and premature birth.  So many of my friends, both in real life and on blogs, have suffered miscarriage and stillbirth.  Close members of my family have also had repeated miscarriages and BT’s cousin had a stillbirth only a few months before Baby Flat arrived.  It’s just unbearable and I don’t understand why something that is so common, yet which causes so much heartache and distress, isn’t talked about and researched more.

So this is where I am at! Feeling very happy and content and lucky.  I probably won’t update an awful lot from now on, as there isn’t much to say that hasn’t been plastered over every single ‘mummy blog’ out there, but I will keep trying to read your blogs and comment when I can (apologies if this ends up being three months after you post!!).

x x x

Hello 2017

Well I doubt 2017 will top 2016 for me!

I know 2016 has been a pretty sh!tty year in many ways (Generally: Brexit, Trump and the rise of the far right. Personally: the death of a very good friend of mine and my beloved dog), but it was the year I became pregnant and gave birth to a wonderful little boy.  I couldn’t have really asked for much more!

I am not sure what to expect in 2017.  I think most of the year will be winging motherhood and trying to be the best parent I can for Baby Flat.

Here are a few things 2017 has in store:

Driving again

In January I can start driving again.  I can’t wait to have a little more freedom and to be able to leave the house a bit more with Baby Flat.  Since the c section, I have not been allowed to drive.  As I live on the outskirts of a small market town, I have therefore been restricted to walking into town (which quickly gets very boring!) or staying indoors (which is less boring than I thought it would be, but probably isn’t very good for my social skills!).

Getting fit / losing some chub

This should probably be my priority in 2017 (after Baby Flat of course!).  It makes me a little sad because I love eating! I hate the way I look though, and there’s only so long you can use the excuses “I’m pregnant” or “I’ve just had a baby”! I gained a huge amount of weight through TTC and pregnancy. To date I have lost around 30lbs but I have a long way to go (like, around 40-50lbs) before I’m back to a weight I’m comfortable with.

I do feel a little cheated as so many people say “The weight drops off when you breastfeed”, which I have found to be total rubbish.  I am eating around 2,000 cals a day, which I track religiously using MFP (MyFitnessPal).  Allegedly breastfeeding then uses up around 500 cals a day, so the maths say I should slowly be losing weight.  I’m not.  I know it’s not the end of the world and I have never been able to lose weight easily, but when breastfeeding is so darn hard I think there should be a little reward for the poor mum!

I think I’ll feel much better once my fitness increases and my waistband decreases.  My self-esteem, motivation and all-round confidence is linked to my weight, as I’m sure it is for many people, so I really want to get a grip on it sooner rather than later.  I have started following a few fitness/diet blogs, but there is so much sponsored rubbish out there it’s hard to find blogs that are interesting!

Going back to work

At the moment, the plan is that I will return on 1st August 2017 and BT will take the remainder of my year’s maternity leave as paternity leave*.  This way I can ease back into work and will have a few weeks knowing that Baby Flat is safe at home, before we need to face putting him in a nursery for 11 hours each day.  I am really unhappy about having to put him in a nursery when he is so small, but if I give up work now then it will be very hard to get back into my chosen career a few years down the line.

Financially it makes very little sense for me to go back to work now, as the cost of childcare plus the cost of my commute means I will effectively be bringing home £10/day (incredibly depressing when I am working 12-18 hour days!).  I am trying to focus on the bigger picture though, and the long term incentives.  It is very hard though when I have been treated so badly by my current employer (as background, they were awful to me throughout my pregnancy and made a number of threats about my job.  They then failed to give me the correct pay increase in line with others of my level and refused to give me a bonus.  Although they did not say it, all of this was as a direct result of me announcing my pregnancy).

Hopefully in 2017 I can explore other job opportunities and get a new job for 2018.

(*As an aside, I love the shared parental leave system the UK has at the moment! I really hope that it won’t be one of the many beneficial systems that gets cut once Brexit occurs.  Sadly, I have a feeling the UK will massively backtrack on a number of employment protections and benefits we currently have, along with many other benefits.)

Number 2?

It seems like madness to already be thinking about this, but BT and I would love to have a second child.  We both originally wanted a big family (four children), but over the years that obviously changed to praying for just one healthy child!

Originally, when I was pregnant with Baby Flat, we had said that we would start trying in January 2017.  We were conscious that it could take years to fall pregnant again (not to mention the fact that a pregnancy doesn’t guarantee a baby) and so we were keen to start as soon as possible.  If we were lucky enough for it to happen quickly, then that would have just been amazing!

Unfortunately, due to the nature of Baby Flat’s birth, we were told not to start trying again for at least a year after the birth.  Although this was a little disappointing, we will forever be grateful that we actually have a healthy child and we will never ever forget that.  So many women (and men) go through everything we went through and much worse, yet never get to hold their baby.  We are definitely counting our blessings that Baby Flat arrived safely!

We will see where we get to over the course of 2017.  Sometimes we think that we should maybe start trying a little sooner (nothing stupid, but perhaps waiting 9 months rather than 12) as we don’t want to leave it too late and miss the boat.  Other times we’re really nervous to try at all in case I am not “fixed” internally and us racing to try again somehow harms any baby.

It is difficult to get any accurate information, because the guidance appears to be “wait at least a year or you may risk damaging yourself and/or your baby, however if you are over 35 or may struggle to conceive you can start after 6 months”.  This makes no sense to me, because either you are ready physically to carry a baby or you are not?

We will see.  As much as I am ready emotionally to start trying now, I am definitely not ready physically as I still get quite a bit of internal pain from the c section.

Anyway, for now I am looking forward to seeing what 2017 has to offer.

I hope everyone reading this has a wonderful 2017!

x x x

P.S. I have changed my Username slightly as FlatWhite was just so impersonal! 2017 and new beginnings and all that…

 

Goodbye 2016

Yes, I know.  This is a little premature.

I have just been looking back at the two posts I wrote almost a year ago: one saying goodbye to 2015 and one welcoming 2016.  It is crazy to see how much everything has changed over the past 12 months.  Never in a million years did I really believe that I would be holding a baby in my arms by Christmas 2016.

In short, 2015 was one of the worst years of my life, if not the worst.  It was the year that I really started to lose hope that we would be able to conceive naturally, or even at all.  All the initial excitement of trying for a baby, then the subsequent months of rationalising that we had “only been trying for x number of months” was over and instead 2015 was filled with the same depressing cycle of waiting to ovulate, having an agonising two week wait followed by days of heartbreak and despair.  I developed depression and insomnia and gained a lot of weight.  All in all, it was a pretty shitty year.

During the last few months of 2015 both BT and I had a number of fertility tests, I had a laparoscopy and we prepared for IVF.  These were a hellish few months and everything was a battle.  When we got all the necessary appointments and tests, there would be months in between each new step that we needed to take.  In October 2015 we were told by a GP that I had signs of either ovarian failure or early menopause.  Thankfully, when the fertility specialist saw me several months later it turned out that my numbers were not fatal to my fertility and that it was certainly possible for me to conceive naturally.  She felt that the bigger issue would in fact be BT’s low count and poor morphology.  At first we were told that we could have IVF on the NHS by Easter 2016, then at the start of 2016 we were told we could start straight away the following month.  Only a few months later, this was then pulled altogether as we moved house and with it moved to a different CCG (Clinical Commissioning Group – the NHS operates on smaller regional areas, and generally the individual CCGs decide what they spend their money on.  So a few will fund three IVF cycles for eligible people and some will fund none).  The effect of our move was that the clinic we were being seen by refused to carry out the first IVF cycle as scheduled until they had a written agreement that our new CCG would fund it (although nobody could tell us who this consent should come from or how we could get in touch with the relevant person!).

Despite my initial optimism, 2016 looked as though it would carry on the way 2015 had ended.

In many ways, this has been a terrible year for many and I see a lot of friends talking on Facebook about 2016 being the “worst year ever”.

There has been quite a lot of stuff generally that has upset me this year.  Losing one of my best friends and then my dog passing away over the summer were particularly difficult.  I have also had my career stall and faced some awful discrimination which, although horrible and I am dreading going back SO MUCH, has forced me to reassess my chosen career path and switch to something more suitable as soon as I get the opportunity.  I am trying my best to see the positives and to stick out my return to work, but the whole situation has really crushed my confidence and has made me very distrustful of employers more generally.

I am also still deeply upset by the Referendum result and the UK’s vote to leave the EU (or more accurately: England and Wales dragging Scotland and Northern Ireland out of the EU).  I won’t go into all the reasons why it has upset me and why I think it is ridiculous that people think we will be better off out of the EU (did they GENUINELY think that money was available and would be spent on the NHS?!).  All I will say is that unfortunately there seems to have been an undercurrent of hatred quietly bubbling away and the Brexit vote has allowed that to rise to the surface.  Several friends of mine have received verbal attacks, with one friend who has lived in the UK for over 40 years saying that for the first time ever she worries for the safety of her and her two young daughters.  In 2016, nearly 2017, it is terrifying that hate crime and intolerance of others is seen as acceptable.

The fact that America can vote in a man who holds such hateful, sexist, racist views shows that the UK is not alone at the moment.  It really worries me how all of this will end.

Anyway, negativity aside, I have actually had a brilliant year.  At the start of February we had an amazing holiday where we did a lot of talking (as well as sunbathing, reading, exercising and eating!!!).  We decided to look into IVF in the Czech Republic and we also decided to start exploring adoption more (although we were keen to try IVF a few times first).  All in all, the holiday did wonders for our morale and we both came home feeling much more positive about the future.  Little did we know, Baby Flat had actually been conceived by this point! I would love to say that we “just relaxed” and “it happened when we least expected it”, but all of this is total b*llocks.  As romantic as it would have been to say that we conceived on holiday, sadly Baby Flat was conceived a few days earlier in miserable, cold, rainy Britain!

So on a personal level 2016 turned out to be the best year of my life! I can’t begin to describe how amazing it felt to get a positive pregnancy test and to have each scan along the way go well.  I was incredibly anxious for the whole pregnancy, made worse by my awful working environment and the discrimination I faced, but in 2016 I gave birth to a wonderful, healthy, happy little boy (Ok, I’ll ignore the details of the horrific birth.  He’s healthy and happy now, and I really can’t ask for much more!).  He makes me so happy* and I am grateful every day that he is here.  I’m sure there will be times when I get stressed or complain about some minor aspect of motherhood, but on the whole I find it very hard to relate to the other NCT mothers or my many “mummy” Facebook friends who constantly update about how hard it is when their babies won’t sleep or the children fighting etc.  I still have to bite my tongue and refrain from saying “Do you have any idea how lucky you are?”.

I’m sure I’ll be less virtuous when the memories of infertility fade a little more…

So for me, 2016 is ending on a much happier note than 2015.

Now onto 2017!!!

*Must stop saying “happy” all the time!

6 weeks in (well, almost…)

Well Baby Flat is almost 6 weeks old and I can’t believe how much life has changed! He seems to be doing really well, considering his terrifying entry into this world.

I’m afraid this post and future posts will probably be full of clichés.  I sort of hate myself a little for coming out with all the “I can’t remember life before him” lines (for the record, I most definitely can, but I’ve found that people don’t appreciate it when they say “I bet you can’t remember life before him?” and you respond “Yes, I can.  It was only 6 weeks ago”).  What I will say, is that my “old life” of only 6 weeks ago seems like a distant memory.

So yes, as the cliché goes, having a baby has changed my life and I will never be the same person again.

Firstly, with regard to my career, I have always been incredibly ambitious and hard working.  I wanted to make something of myself and never have to rely on a partner, my parents or the state.  I wanted to be one of the best people in my chosen field.

Now I think back only a few weeks to the 5:30am starts and 3+ hour commutes.  To working all the hours under the sun to prove myself to an employer, who then turned around and reduced my pay and denied me a bonus simply because I made the error of falling pregnant. I now realise that none of that matters in quite the same way any more.  My priorities have changed.  I will go back to the awful employer, simply because I cannot lose my maternity pay (I have to pay back the enhanced part, being 3 months’ full salary, if I hand in my notice within 6 months of returning) and also because I want to stay “in the game” so that later down the line I don’t have to start from the bottom again. Ultimately though, if they sack me and I am left jobless, it certainly won’t be the end of the world.  I could stay at home with Baby Flat and spend my days doing activities to help his development.  After all, because of the ridiculously high childcare costs in this country, along with my expensive commute, I will almost be paying to go back to work!!!  (More accurately, the amount I earn per day will cover almost pound for pound the daily cost of childcare and my commute, but I will also slowly be paying off my student loan and will be paying into my pension, so while I will have no take home pay I will be paying off my debts and will be saving towards my pension.)

Secondly, with regard to my body, I am much more forgiving of myself.  Over the course of TTC and my pregnancy I gained around 5 and a half stone (75lbs to be precise).  Since having Baby Flat I have lost 2 stone to date (28lbs), but my body is still horrific.  Not only do I have a long way to go on the weight-loss front, but my body is covered in stretch marks.  They are awful.  I have them on my tummy, my love handles and then really badly on my legs.  They seemed to only appear in the last week or so of pregnancy, and the ones on my boobs only appeared post-pregnancy as my boobs got swollen with the breast milk! On top of that, I still have very bad bruising from the difficult c section (although the bruising will eventually go).

It is the weight gain that really bothers me.  In my teens I had a range of eating disorders and it took me years to get to some version of healthy.  Even when I was healthy (the weight I was pre-TTC) I felt heavy and really did not like my body.  When I gained weight when we were trying, unsuccessfully, to have a baby I felt particularly low about my body.  Then when I finally fell pregnant I worried about how rapidly I gained weight.  Throughout that time though, I told myself that I could sort it out once Baby Flat arrived and I could start working out again.  Then of course the awful birth happened and I was advised to do no exercise for a minimum of 12 weeks, which means I cannot start doing proper exercise until January 2017.  I feel very low about my weight, but I remind myself on a daily basis that I would rather be in this position than the position I was in a year ago.  A year ago I would have happily gained 10 stone to be able to have a healthy baby!

What annoys me though, is I “check myself” all the time and remind myself how lucky I am.  Every time I feel down, I remember that there are women out there with bodies as battered and scarred and swollen as mine, but who never got to take their babies home.  I try to be good at forgiving myself and being kind to myself about the way I look, as I have just been through a huge ordeal physically and emotionally.

Then someone feels the need to say something and make me feel like I shouldn’t feel this way and that focusing on my body should be my priority right now, instead of taking care of Baby Flat.  Just this weekend I was at a party and someone felt the need to comment, and it has made me feel much worse about my body (again) and also really angry that society values post-baby weight loss so strongly.  (As an aside, it angers me that weight is what we judge and value women on and not their kindness, intelligence, ambition etc.)

To cut a very dull long story short, I arrived at a party with my cousin (“E”) who had given birth two weeks after me.  She is naturally extremely skinny, to the point where people who don’t know her assume she is ill.  During her pregnancies she gained almost no weight, and the doctors were worried about the health of her babies due to how skinny she remained.  Since giving birth she has (rightly) done no exercise at all, but is already back to her (incredibly low) pre-pregnancy weight.  When we turned up, this woman (who knows the trouble we had getting pregnant and how traumatic my labour was) made a point of gushing about how “amazing” E looked and how she was “so slim already”.  She then looked me up and down and walked off.  I just felt so awful about myself as I stood next to E, wearing a frumpy maternity dress and weighing double what E weighs.  Since I’ve gained so much weight I haven’t wanted to be seen in public, but I have made it out on two occasions post-birth for parties of people who are extremely important to me.  Both times I have felt incredibly self-conscious, so incidents like this make me feel even worse about myself and make me not want to leave the house!

Anyway, this lady had clearly seen my face drop when she said this as she later came over and gave me a pep talk about how I could be back in my jeans by Christmas (yeh – maybe I’ll be back in my maternity jeans by then!).  She kept saying “Don’t worry, I know you’re breastfeeding so the weight will drop off” (erm, I never said I’m worried.  I never even mentioned my weight to you.  Also, it’s been almost 6 weeks of breastfeeding and no it hasn’t.  Plus, I don’t think breastfeeding makes you lose 75lbs!!!).  She then started saying about how “with a bit of exercise you’ll be back to a size 10 by Christmas” (erm, as you know, I sustained injuries during the labour which mean I cannot exercise until January at the earliest).  She clearly thought that everything I said was just an excuse.

The whole thing has made me incredibly angry. Since Baby Flat was born, I have spent almost all day every day doing things for him.  If I am not playing with him (and yes, it’s limited what you can do with a newborn!) I am feeding him, changing his nappy, expressing, sterilising bottles, soothing him when he cries, doing tummy time, dealing with baby admin (registering births/looking at nurseries/trying to get information on bank accounts for children) etc.  In the few minutes I get to myself, I’m grateful if I can brush my teeth and have a shower! Not to mention there are so many non-baby chores, especially with Christmas coming up.  I wouldn’t change any of this for the world and I am really enjoying it so, even if I were medically fit to exercise right now, prioritising my body at the moment would mean sacrificing one or more of the many things I need to do for Baby Flat.  While he’s so small, I just don’t want to dump him in a crèche for an hour or so while I go to the gym (ignoring the fact I can’t drive until January 2017 so can’t even make it to the gym!).  In due course, when both he and I are ready, then I can’t wait to get back into exercise.

It just makes me so sad that we live in a society where people value how much weight you lose more than whether you are a good mum (or daughter or friend etc).

Anyway, as I said at the start of my post, I feel very differently about a lot of things.  My priorities have changed dramatically.  It still takes a little bit of getting used to though! I am loving motherhood and have even enjoyed the monotonous activities (baby laundry for one!) much more than I thought I would.   When you haven’t fallen pregnant easily, I think you appreciate the little things more and don’t worry about the stupid, small things in quite the same way.

I’m still finding my feet though.  I have good days when Baby Flat is happy and everything gets done and I feel on top of the world.  Then I have bad days when he’s hungry 24/7 and doing 15 nappies (no lie) and I can’t catch 5 minutes to even go to the loo, and then I feel like I’m not really cut out for it all.  I’m sure many other people feel this way though!

Welcome to the world Baby Flat

I am pleased to say that Baby Flat arrived on 12th October, weighing 9lbs.  Both he and I are doing very well, despite a pretty scary labour.

To keep the dramatics down, I’ll say from the start that we are both perfectly fine now, which is the main thing.  If you’re pregnant and giving birth anytime soon though, maybe don’t read this until after you have safely delivered! I know how much I hated all the scare stories that people just LOVE to tell pregnant women.

I wrote in my last post about my concerns about Baby Flat being a large baby.  I wasn’t too concerned about the birth if he came on or before his due date, but I was worried about his size should he be born around 42 weeks and the associated risks of having a large (i.e. above 10/11lbs) baby.

On 11th October, at 39 weeks, we had a follow up scan and appointment with the consultant.  The scan showed Baby Flat to be 8lbs 13oz, so on the big size but hardly massive.  At the consultation the doctor suggested that we look to be induced at some point that week, so that I could hopefully have a natural birth and avoid needing a c section.  We assumed that meant going in around 40 weeks, but when she called the hospital they suggested that we go in that day!  Suddenly it was all systems go!

Around 4:30pm I arrived at the hospital and got settled in my room.  Thankfully it was a really quiet night, so I had the calm of being totally alone and not having screaming women everywhere.  I think having screaming, labouring women next door would have freaked me out a little bit!

After explaining the induction procedure, I was given the first pessary and was told that there was a high chance it wouldn’t do much very quickly and that I’d probably be given a second pessary six hours later.  I told BT to go home (approx 45 mins away) as there was no point him hanging around all night and it would be more helpful if he got a decent night’s sleep.  (Truth be told, I also wanted him to keep the cats company and make sure they were fed properly as they can get a bit silly if we just leave the ‘Cat Mate’ out for them.  I won’t write too much about this though, as I’ll just sound like a crazy cat lady!)

I was given the first induction pessary around 7/8pm and we made plans for BT to come back to the hospital around 7am the next morning, unless I contacted him before then.  I settled down, hoping to get a bit of sleep to prepare me for the next day.  It quickly became apparent that wouldn’t happen, as they needed to check on me and run some tests every two hours.  It also turns out that I am super responsive to the pessary and started full on contractions within three hours.  Ouch.  I had no idea what to expect, but those contractions were not fun at all.  They were particularly rapid, with a new contraction starting within a minute of the last one ending.  By about four hours in, it was completely unbearable.  I sent BT a text and asked him to come back and an anaesthetist was called to give me an epidural.  I was given gas and air, which I HATED (memories of drunk nights out as a student?!), and some other pain relief, as well as having a warm, relaxing lavender bath.  Unfortunately something caused me to start vomiting, which was particularly unpleasant as I hadn’t eaten for 12 hours so was just vomiting bile (sorry for the TMI).

I don’t think I have ever been so relieved to see BT as when he arrived back at the hospital in the early hours of the morning! Just as he arrived, the anaesthetist (“A”) also rocked up.  It was a little surreal, as BT (who does a medical job – I won’t say specifically what) and the anaesthetist regularly work together.  It was a little odd to hear “Oh hi A, how are you? Haven’t seen you in a while” as A is preparing a massive needle to stick into my back and I’m bent over a bed either whimpering or unable to breathe! Oh the glamour of being in, or working in, a hospital!

Unfortunately for A, the epidural was hardly a slick operation.  As my contractions were so frequent, he really struggled to get the needle into the right place so there were lots of failed attempts.  In the end, it took just under an hour and a half from him turning up to him actually getting the needle in the right place! I felt so sorry for him, and he was later joking that it’s typical that the one epidural that goes so badly wrong was done on a colleague’s wife.  Poor man! At least I understand that nothing is ever straightforward when it comes to medicine.

Once the epidural took effect, the pain was much more manageable.  It was more discomfort than actual pain.  It was also not very pleasant being made to stay lying down and be strapped to the monitors (by this point I’d had the catheter put in.  Fun!).

As the contractions had come on so quickly and strongly, and I started dilating very quickly, it was decided that I did not need the second pessary.  At some point, and I can’t remember when, I was put on the induction drip.  Again,  I am not sure of the exact timings, but by early morning I was 8cm dilated and so it was decided that the dosage would be increased gradually every four hours and that they would just keep monitoring me regularly.

We should have known that things would go wrong when the following comments were made (amongst others):

“You’re the most straightforward patient on this ward”.

“The trace is absolutely textbook.  It’s perfect”.

“You’re responding so well, the baby will be out by lunchtime”.

Cr@p.  Those were definite warning signs that things wouldn’t be easy!

After around 12 hours of being on the drip, I had only increased to 9cm dilated.  The midwives thought that upping the dosage in the drip would push things enough that I would be able to start pushing, but as they were already at the maximum amount that they were allowed to give, they needed to wait for a doctor to agree to give a higher dosage.  When the doctor came, she felt that it would not work, as I had already had over 12 hours of being on the drip and had only dilated an extra 1cm in that time. As such, she recommended an emergency c section.

On hearing that I would need an EMCS I became quite upset.  Firstly, this was exactly what I had wanted to avoid when we asked about having an elective C section, as I know that (as a sweeping generalisation) the safest methods of delivery are: 1) natural (when there are no risk factors at all, including being a large baby); 2) ELCS; and 3) EMCS.  I knew that the most dangerous births are the ones where the mum had been in labour and then an EMCS was needed.  Secondly, at this point I had been in labour for 24 hours (not established labour, but it had been 24 hours since I’d first had the pessary).  I was exhausted from the whole thing, hadn’t eaten in forever and was actually quite looking forward to the pushing part and having Baby Flat come out that way.  I know that sounds a little odd, but after the hell of the contractions I just wanted to be able to do that final part and have that experience!

I was quickly prepped and consented and wheeled off to have the c section.  In another bizarre twist, the new anaesthetist (“J”) was actually our ex next door neighbour! Again, so strange.

From the very start, the c section did not go to plan.  I instantly felt extremely unwell to the point where I was almost passing out.  I was vomiting and had trouble focussing and could hear a weird sort of white noise amongst the talking.  I also instinctively felt that the operation wasn’t straightforward as I had been told that it would take about 10 minutes for Baby Flat to come out and then around 40 minutes for the stitches to be done.  Although I had lost track of time, I knew that things had been going on much longer than 10 minutes.  I could also feel that I was being tugged and stretched aggressively in lots of directions, even though I didn’t feel any physical pain.

Although I didn’t know it at the time, it turns out that Baby Flat had made a good start on his journey out the natural way and he had also got into a very awkward position with his head pushed back (whatever that means).  As such, the poor surgeon really had to batter me to get Baby Flat out and ultimately had to take him out an unusual way (I think he said Baby Flat came out feet first and head last, but in all honesty I can’t remember everything I was told later that evening).  Throughout this, I lost a lot of blood and there was talk of giving me a blood transfusion (they didn’t), which explains why I felt so out of it.

Unfortunately, once Baby Flat came out, he was not breathing.  I wasn’t really aware of what was going on from the start, but after a while I realised something wasn’t quite right.  I kept asking BT and J what was going on, and they both tried to reassure me.

It turns out that things were much worse than I realised.  After five minutes, Baby Flat still wasn’t breathing and BT heard the surgeon say “Put out a crash call”.  We have obviously spoken about the birth since, and poor BT said that hearing those words was the worst moment of his life.  Due to the job he does, he knew exactly what that meant and in his head he was starting to really panic.  Although he didn’t show his panic at all to me, a few days later he got quite upset and admitted that he genuinely thought that we had lost our son and in his head he was thinking “How the hell do I tell Flat that our Baby didn’t make it?”.  I just feel sick thinking about what could have happened, and I feel so awful for poor BT having to try and keep a calm presence so as not to worry me.  I am not sure I would have been that strong.

Thankfully Baby Flat did start breathing and very soon we heard his first cry.  There are just no words to sum up the feeling of hearing that and knowing that he was ok.  BT even started crying (probably a mixture of joy, terror, relief…everything!) which felt very strange as he is a British Man so never cries at anything!

I don’t think either of us will forget what happened and we will never, ever stop being so incredibly grateful that Baby Flat is alive and well.  My body looks like a total horror show (11 days on I still have bruising covering the whole of my tummy and up to my ribs), I struggle to move about from the pain and I have been banned from doing anything remotely strenuous, or driving, for 12 weeks…but I just could not care less.

Since getting home just over a week ago, things have been going really well.  I felt quite wretched in the first few days.  Partly due to the physical assault on my body and all the drugs in my system, but also partly due to the way the birth happened.  For all that I am grateful that he is ok now, and that really IS the main thing, I feel very sad that I couldn’t hold him for several hours after he was born because I was just so out of it and weak.  I couldn’t even raise my arms up and I couldn’t focus enough to see him.  Also, I can’t really remember the first time I DID hold hold him (certainly not in any detail) or the first breastfeed (I am told that the Registrar came and put him on me and helped him to latch on).  I know that there was nothing I could have done, but I still feel a lot of Mother’s Guilt for not being there for him in those first few hours.

Anyway, we are now settled back home and Baby Flat seems to be doing much better.  It’s amazing how quickly he changes and every day he becomes more alert and aware of his surroundings.

To say that I am completely in love as an understatement!

 

37 weeks (and a bit!)

I can’t believe I have actually made it to term! Although we are so close, it still feels so far. I just don’t understand these people that say pregnancy flies by?! Madness.

It has been a busy few weeks since I last posted.  Firstly, I am finally on maternity leave.  Wahoo! The last few weeks were pretty difficult, dealing with such a long commute and unhelpful employer.  I would have liked to have carried on working for at least another week longer than I did, but in the end I just couldn’t cope with the many challenges of the job on top of being the size of a house and being completely unable to sleep!

Secondly, as things turned out, it is probably good that I left when I did.  I have had to have a number of medical appointments over the past week or so, which would have just created drama had I still been working.  Although UK law is very good to pregnant women and we have the right to take time off to attend antenatal appointments without consequence at work, in practice employers can still make things difficult for you or find other ways of penalising you should they wish. (When I have the energy, I will post about the final saga at work: their decision not to award me any form of bonus, despite the fact I met all my objectives and the bonus period related mostly to 2015 when I was working insane hours, and to not give me my proper pay rise).

So over the past 10 days I have been to both the doctors and the hospital several times.  Firstly, I came out in a horrible rash all over my feet, hands and thighs.  OMG it was miserable.  It sounds a bit silly and unimportant compared with actual pain, but it was horrendous being so itchy without being able to do anything to stop it!  I had a number of tests which, thankfully, didn’t show anything of concern (the main concern being liver problems) and after being given some special cream the rash appears to have gone away (without wishing to jinx things!).

Next came the ridiculously swollen feet.  Honestly, my feet swelled to almost double their original size.  I couldn’t even get shoes on! Cue: lots of blood pressure and urine tests to check for pre-eclampsia.  Again, thankfully, all negative.  Seriously though, I looked (and still look) like one of those overweight, elderly ladies who you see hobbling around town…and it was also SO PAINFUL.  I have been getting BT to do daily feet massages, which he is not too happy about!

Finally, at my 36 week checkup last week, the midwife did her standard baby measurements.  We have always known that Baby Flat will be a fatty, as I was 9lbs 1oz, my brother was 10lbs 20z and BT’s siblings were also similar weights.  When she measured me she was shocked that I had shot up off the chart and was measuring at over 40 weeks when I technically should have been around 36 weeks.  Cue: emergency scan to check fluid levels and Baby Flat’s weight.  Thankfully there did not seem to be a problem with there being too much fluid, he’s just a little fatty! At 36 weeks he was already weighing over 7lbs.  Yikes.

Since then we have had a bit of a nightmare trying to get sensible advice from someone who knows what they are talking about.  I have been pushed from pillar to post by different midwives and have been given so much conflicting advice by them.

My main concern is that Baby Flat will get into difficulty if he is extremely big and we attempt a natural birth.  In short, the risk of shoulder dystocia (in noddy terms, where the shoulders get stuck) increases dramatically and the risk of stillbirth goes up slightly.  As both BT and I were overdue, there is a genuine likelihood that Baby Flat will also be overdue and by that stage he will be a whopper.  From our perspective, if he comes at 40 weeks or before then things may be ok, but if he is overdue we would prefer to have an elective c-section.  We know the risks involved with a c-section, but to us the risks of attempting a natural birth when the baby is massive are worse (i.e. stillbirth, general distress to the baby coming out, horrific tears requiring further surgery down the line etc).  We simply cannot see how an elective operation in a controlled environment is worse for the baby, or me, in this situation.  There also seem to be a lot of stories of people who have tried to have their big baby naturally, who have then been rushed in for an emergency c-section when the baby gets stuck.  This seems to carry all sorts of risks for the baby (as they often have to yank the baby ‘back up’ the canal) and greater risks to the mother of serious haemorrhage.  Why risk these things happening?

Anyway, the main midwife, who has been fantastic throughout and who I really trust, said that she would arrange for me to have an appointment with a consultant so that I could discuss my concerns and chat about birth options.  When she was unable to book this appointment she left a note for one of the other midwives saying that this appointment needed to be booked.  The next day, when I saw that midwife, she refused to let me book the appointment and basically said that she could answer any of my questions.  As we have found over the past 8 months, many midwives seem to have a real hatred of doctors and go out of their way to prevent you from speaking to one.  Unfortunately, while I have so much respect for the good midwives and think they are brilliant at what they do, there are certain questions that only the doctors are qualified to answer.  After bursting into tears through pure frustration after she couldn’t answer any of my questions, she eventually agreed to book me an appointment with the doctor, which I had today.

Where we’re at now, is that we’re “not allowed” to have an elective c-section.  We had wanted to book one for when Baby Flat is a week overdue, but have been told that this will not be allowed.  It is very frustrating because we actually have the right to elect to have a c-section and we know many people who have had elective c-sections simply because they preferred that option over a natural birth, without any particular medical concern.  Instead, I have a follow-up appointment with the doctor in two weeks and will have another scan to see what size he is then.

It would make things so much easier if he could just come a week or two early!!!

31 weeks and the third trimester!

I haven’t posted much about the pregnancy lately as I’ve just been sort of plodding along, trying to stay positive and trying to cope with the many (very welcome) challenges of pregnancy!

Although I am eternally grateful for this pregnancy, I have struggled a lot more than I ever thought I would.  I always thought that the 9 months of pregnancy would be amazing as I could FINALLY relax (after chasing the pregnancy dream for quite some time), but that perhaps I’d feel a little bit rubbish along the way whenever I had morning sickness.  Wrong.

The reality has been quite different.  Firstly, I have been almost permanently anxious.  I think I always would have been as I’m a worrier by nature but, having not fallen pregnant easily in the first place, I’ve always had in the back of my mind that this pregnancy might be our one and only shot at it.  That thought doesn’t particularly promote a chilled-out, relaxed vibe!

Secondly, I have really struggled with my huge weight gain.  At 31 weeks I have now gained about 40lbs.  It’s absolute madness.  That’s much more than many people have gained by the time their baby is born!

Before pregnancy I never ever appreciated just how hard it is to carry around a lot of excess weight.  When I gained weight in the past (like the 20 lbs I gained while TTC) I found it harder to run/play sport and my confidence bombed, but I could still do everything and be as active as I wanted to be, even if I wasn’t setting PBs.  Now, it’s a challenge to just walk down the street.  I make myself walk around as much as I can, because I am simply not prepared to just sit there all day and get even worse, but I hate that I am instantly out of breath as soon as I move and that I am so damn slow.  I also hate that I struggle to put my shoes on or to shave my legs or to get up if I lie down!

I am trying to be kind to myself and not hate myself too much for the weight gain.  Throughout the first trimester and start of the second trimester all I could really stomach was carbs and salt and I felt I had to eat every two hours or I’d vomit (I never actually did vomit, but the feeling was there the whole time and only subsided whenever I ate).  I was also unable to exercise.  On the few times I went out running, I really struggled and would often get cramps and pains which would force me to stop as I worried it was something happening to the baby.  As my weight increased, I found that I (a) simply couldn’t carry the huge load of my ginormous body; and (b) couldn’t fit into any workout gear (even the ‘two sizes up’ sports bra I purchased at the start!).  I cannot wait to be in a position where I can start to get fit again and start to feel a little bit better about myself.

Other pregnancy side effects I have really struggled with are:

  • the tiredness.  OH MY WORD the tiredness.  It’s exhausting…and if one more person says “If you think you’re tired now, wait until you’re a parent” I simply won’t be responsible for my actions!
  • being constantly uncomfortable and in pain, whether it’s the back ache or the swollen legs.  It seems that sitting up hurts (especially if I am kicked when my belly is right up to my desk!).  Walking around quickly gets tiring.  Lying on my left hand side (as we’re told to do) is uncomfortable and unnatural for me.  Lying on my front is obviously impossible.  Only lying on my back is comfortable, but we’re told not to do that as it can be bad for the baby.  THERE IS NO WAY TO WIN!
  • the insomnia.  Now I have always struggled with insomnia all of my life.  I once had to sit an exam having not slept AT ALL over the three previous nights.  I have also lost track of the nights spent just lying there, pleading with some greater being to just let me sleep for an hour or two! So I am sadly used to insomnia.  But in pregnancy it can be that little bit harder because I am just so uncomfortable and in so much pain I feel even more despairing about the situation.
  • commuting.  I have mentioned it before but I commute over three hours a day.  Most of the time I am able to get a seat (when I can book a seat and actually get out of work and make my train) but there have been a few times when I have been unable to get a seat.  On those times I have just sat on the floor.  As a result of this I have been given plenty of disgusted looks, but even before pregnancy I was prone to fainting so why would I risk standing and fainting when it could hurt my baby?! I have also been a little bit appalled at how rarely people have offered me a seat.  I have tried to check myself and make sure my “pregnancy privilege” isn’t getting out of hand, but given that I am very clearly pregnant, it does seem quite poor form that so many people do just turn their heads and pretend they haven’t seen you.
  • needing the loo.  All the time.  Even when I go, as soon as I stand up I need the loo again.
  • heartburn. Enough said.

There are plenty of other less-than-fun side effects.  Being kicked in the ribs is particularly unpleasant, but then there’s something a little reassuring about that so I don’t really mind.

Anyway, there are plenty of fun things about being pregnant.  Above all, we will hopefully have a baby at the end of this.  I never particularly wanted the whole pregnancy thing, but BT and I have wanted children for a very long time so it is the obvious means to the end.  Even before we started TTC we discussed all things parenting (because back then we just assumed it would obviously happen).

We’ve also loved doing up the nursery and I had a wonderful weekend baby shopping with my mum and actually allowing myself to get really excited (BTW Baby Flat is going to be one very spoilt baby in his first few weeks!).

There have also been the special moments where you hear the baby’s heartbeat, or feel/see the kicks or have the scans and it just feels incredible thinking “That is actually our son”.  We just feel so lucky when we think about where we were at a year ago.  Despite having really struggled with pregnancy, I would not change any of this for the world.

Which brings me on to the latest scan we had this weekend.  As it just seemed such a long time to wait between the 20 week scan and the baby being born, we decided to go privately for a 4D scan roughly half way through this time.  The scan was incredible and we saw him doing all sorts (breathing, sucking his feet, punching the ultrasound scanner every time the sonographer put it on my tummy, even smiling!).  It also turns out he’s a bit of a chunky monkey.  At 31 weeks tomorrow, he already weighs 4lbs 5oz and he’s in the 92nd percentile for abdomen and leg sizes.  It’s madness to think that he’s got another two months of growing to do.  Hopefully this is a good thing though and if he needed to be delivered early he would have the best chance possible.  It still absolutely scares the hell out of me though when I think about the labour and delivery…

Anyway, here are two of the scan pictures.  One where he’s being a grump and one where he’s smiling to himself.  He spent the entire appointment with his hand and foot by his face and nothing we did would make him move them!

I’m aware that all babies look the same and the 4D scans just make them look like little aliens, but it does feel incredible to actually really see him and his little face! I just want the next two months to fly by and for him to come safely and to know that he is ok.