Tag: Pregnancy

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!

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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

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.

24 weeks!

Well I’m just over 24 weeks, which is great news!

Last Saturday I felt Baby kick properly for the first time.  Over the previous few days I had felt a few ‘flutterings’, but I wasn’t sure whether these were actual kicks or just muscle spasms.  Last Saturday evening, however, it felt slightly more pronounced so I felt more confident that they were really kicks.  BT even put his hand on my tummy and verified that they were GENUINE REAL LIFE kicks and not just my own delusions!

Fast forward a week, and last night (Saturday evening) we actually saw my tummy twitch when baby was kicking.  It wasn’t particularly obvious, but if we paid attention we could see it.

Both of these events were so overwhelming.  I had started to get a little worried that, at 23 weeks, I hadn’t felt anything, so I am so grateful that the kicks have started coming.  I don’t think I’ll ever be annoyed about him kicking me or moving around lots!

Unfortunately my anxiety about things going wrong is getting higher and higher.  It’s possibly exacerbated by everything that has been going on at work, meaning that my general anxiety levels are at an all time high anyway, then about two weeks ago it was reported that Tana Ramsay had miscarried* their child at five months, the same stage I am at.  I can’t say I’m a huge fan of the Ramsays, but it must be absolutely heartbreaking for them.  The media was then full of stories of people who had miscarried late in their pregnancies.  It was heartbreaking and terrifying.  Then last week one of BT’s friends announced that she had had a stillbirth at term.  I have never met her, but I just feel so devastated for her, her husband and their families.  Nobody should have that happen.  I just wish that there was something that someone could do or say to help them, but there just isn’t anything.

For all that I am terrified though, I am trying my best to just live in the moment and be grateful that right now things are ok.  We are getting to the stage where premature babies start getting much better survival odds, which provides a little reassurance.  At 24 weeks, between approximately 40-70% premature babies can survive (quite a big variance!) but by 27 weeks it will go up to more than 90%.  27 weeks is therefore a massive target!

So this weekend we are just trying to take it easy.  We don’t have any exciting plans, except looking after Dog and all the cats while my parents are away (a dog and four cats take up a lot of time and space! They also create a lot of mess 🙂 ).  I am trying to give Dog as much love as possible, as he really doesn’t have much time left.  His back legs have gone and his tumour is growing, so we know what we need to do, but every time we have the “is it time?” conversation he perks up and suddenly seems a little better (usually involving him stealing some cake from us or slobbering us with affection!) and we wonder if we’re being too hasty.

I also feel a little subdued because of the whole Brexit vote.  I appreciate this is just my opinion, but I find it unbelievable and I am so sad for the opportunities that will be taken away from future generations.  I genuinely think we will be worse off financially and that many people will lose their jobs, but what upsets me most is that a large part of my identity (and the identity of so many of my friends) has been taken away from us by people we just can’t respect or begin to understand.  Overnight, we have lost the freedom to easily work in 27 other countries and for those people to come to work in Britain.  While I personally do not have plans to work in any of those specific countries, a number of my friends do and a number of them have met their long term partners as a result of those opportunities.

There has been a lot of goading on Facebook from ‘leave’ campaigners** about how we are “sore losers” and how we cry for democracy but then don’t approve of it when we lose (thankfully I only seem to have about 5 or 6 of these people on my Facebook.  I am not just saying this as I am a “sore loser”, but most of those people just so happen to be genuine cretins).  The thing is, I do believe in democracy and I do understand that we lost and that I am ultimately going to have to accept that, but that shouldn’t have to stop me from feeling complete despair at the values and short-sightedness of so many of my neighbours and being devastated about what they have thrown away for the future.  Besides, this is something we can’t get back.  It is not like a national election, where you have the opportunity to change your mind four years later .  This is, unfortunately, forever.

Anyway, I told myself that I wouldn’t get too political in this post so I better stop now!

Right now the sun is shining, I’m surrounded by five animals (and a husband) and I’m away from my horrible job.  Things are good!

Have a good weekend everyone x x x

 

*I thought it was technically a stillbirth at this stage? i.e. after 24 weeks.  That said, the title doesn’t affect the the situation and feelings of those involved.

**In the interest of full disclosure, I admit that I have not been particularly passive or polite on Facebook!

Pregnancy update!

Now onto the much more important update: my pregnancy!

I am still so grateful to have got to this stage.  I think back to just over a year ago and what a low spot I was in.  I was about to have a laparoscopy as they suspected endometriosis and I was in quite a state as I feared what this would mean for my ability to ever have children. I was exhausted from the months of TTC and was starting to feel the frustrations of the NHS fertility process.

I wish I had a way of letting FlatWhite of 2015 know that 2016 would be very different!

So I am now roughly 22 weeks.  The dates seem to change all the time, and the NHS scans seem to place me slightly behind the private scans we had a while ago.  I don’t think it particularly matters though.  I am just amazed to be able to say that I am around 22 weeks and am in the second trimester! Wahoo!

Thankfully the 20 week scan last week suggested that everything is ok so far.  We have also borrowed a Doppler so that we can listen to Baby FlatWhite’s heartbeat now and again (don’t worry – I’ve not gone too crazy with this!).

We are starting to get things for the baby and BT even painted the nursery (in his words, he enjoyed doing “man jobs”.  Don’t worry – I’ve already told him that he’s not to teach Baby FlatWhite that there are “man jobs” and “woman jobs”!).

It’s just nice to be able to relax a little and start to enjoy things.  I’m still incredibly nervous (well truth be told, we both are, but BT is stronger than me!), but each passing week gives me a little more hope.  We have even started buying a few things.

Our purchases so far have definitely focussed on the fun things, rather than the practical things.  A few friends have sent me lists of “essentials” that we need for a newborn, and in all honesty I found it totally overwhelming.

To date, here are a few things we have bought:

Perhaps not the most sensible things (except for the furniture and car seat) but they have made us both smile!!!  The Superman Swimsuit was actually bought by BT.  My parents suddenly came over so I sent him to the local supermarket to buy emergency tea, coffee and cakes (yes – a very British thing to do!).  Naturally, as you do, he came back with the Superman Swimsuit… (although you’ll be pleased to hear, he DID remember the cakes!).  Apparently the children’s swim stuff was in the entrance of the supermarket and BT’s heart just melted when he saw the Superman outfit! With the mix of Spiderman, Superman and Thomas the Tank Engine possessions, Baby FlatWhite may have a bit of an identity crisis (or perhaps just a loyalty crisis?)!

We have bought two or three baby grows and bibs and will probably pick up a few more things, but we are trying not to get too many ‘newborn’ things.  It may sound a bit silly, but my mum warned me that she never got to use the things she had bought as both me and my brother were big babies and never fitted into the newborn stuff. I think she’s exaggerating, but she told me I was in the 3-6 months after about two weeks! I was obviously destined to be a fatty.

So I’m just plodding along taking each day as it comes.  My weight gain has been appalling (in 22 weeks I have gained 24lbs!) so I don’t feel particularly great about myself.  I have also had terrible swollen feet, ankles and calves over the past week or so, which have been incredibly painful.  I think it’s due to the weight gain and the fact that we had a few “hot” (by British standards!) days over the past week.  None of it is fun, but for every week I am carrying a healthy baby I will suck up whatever is sent my way.

I am, however, a little worried about the healthy eating and fitness regime I need to start come November. I just hope I find the internal strength to do something about the weight.

Anyway, enough of me whining about my weight.  22 weeks down with a little boy on the way.  I am feeling incredibly lucky right now!

 

The 20 (and a bit) week scan…and some employment hell thrown in to celebrate!

It has been a challenging few weeks in the FlatWhite household.

To start with the (very) good news, we finally had our 20 week scan yesterday and all was well.  *Phew*.

It has felt like forever waiting for this moment.  While I know that the chances of things going wrong are so much lower once you’ve had a healthy 12 week scan, there are so many stories on the forums and blogs about things going wrong after this point and even in late pregnancy/at the birth, it’s hard not to worry.  I still haven’t felt the baby kick, which I’m told I shouldn’t be too worried about as I have an anterior placenta and so may not feel much until week 24.  I do wish I could have that reassurance though!

Most importantly, the scan showed that everything (as far as they can tell) is as it should be and Baby Flat is measuring at just over 21 weeks! He gave us a little scare (probably because I’m super anxious) as the sonographer couldn’t take a lot of the measurements as he was facing towards my back.  She had me doing all sorts of gymnastic movements, trying to get him to move, but he was choosing to have a lazy afternoon and wasn’t playing ball! Even after going for a brisk 20 minute walk, consuming a bar of chocolate (not nearly as much fun as it sounds when you’re super anxious and have been ordered to eat it) and drinking a coffee, he STILL refused to move around.  Eventually she managed to get what she needed, and thankfully everything seems to be ok.  We are both so grateful to have got to this point and to have jumped the next major hurdle.

Sadly in employment news, things have gone from bad to worse.  I don’t have the energy to list everything that has happened, and I am trying to switch off from work for a small part of the weekend, but I have been working fairly long hours for a few weeks now given that I was advised by a doctor to just work 9-5.  The hours have been nothing like I had to pre-pregnancy (i.e. regularly having weeks where I would have to work through the night and not leave the office), but still 8am – 6:30/7:30pm in the office without much break (if any).  I also have a daily 3 hour commute which means waking up at 5:45am every day, so it’s not like I get the chance to catch up on sleep if it’s been a late night.

Anyway, I’ve been plodding on just fine but have been very tired and have known that I can’t really push things any more than I have been.  More than the hours, it’s a fairly exhausting environment because of the culture of the team (very unsupportive with people constantly criticising female juniors and blaming them for their own mistakes, plus I would go as far as to say there’s a culture of workplace bullying).  As a female junior, we’re constantly doing our best but waiting for the next criticism to imminently come.  Not fun at all.  Especially as the other two female juniors have both recently resigned so I am alone.  As a result of this, I have had months of feeling extremely anxious and on edge. From Sunday morning onwards I feel a sickness at the thought of Monday, and when I get off the train and walk to the office I actually have to watch my breathing as my heart is pounding so much.  THIS IS NOT NORMAL.

I knew that I had been blacklisted for getting pregnant and over the past few months many things have happened which have shown me that my career is no longer being taken seriously by them as I can’t be “one of the boys” (i.e. out all night drinking).  For months I have only been given rubbish work which doesn’t count for anything and I have been excluded from several important networking events, which would have been helpful to further my career (and when male colleagues more junior than me were invited to attend).

Then came my annual appraisal.  These are generally not a lot of fun, because my boss doesn’t want women to get too confident and complain when he gives them a pitiful bonus (while probably giving “the boys” good bonuses because they “have families to provide for”*).  This year, however, it was something else.  I was completely torn to shreds and was told how I “said the right things” but “clearly wasn’t prepared to work”.  Knowing that I had been advised to work 9-5, they then had the audacity to say they expected me to be “fighting to get experience and asking to work through the night and weekends”.

So I should be risking the health of my baby to prove myself to you when you have written me off anyway? WTAF.  I don’t think so.

Saywhat

In response to these comments I tried to defend myself but they just got more unpleasant. They basically gave me the “you need to pull your socks up” talk, which is humiliating and makes me angry beyond words given everything I have put myself through over the years for them and to prove myself to them.

Since then they have given me an impossible level of work.  Not a challenging amount of work, but a level of work I would not be able to cope with even if I were fighting fit and not pregnant.  When I was then given a further project, I politely refused to do it.  I explained everything I had on and how I would not be able to do those things while doing the new project and also reminded my boss of my pregnancy and the fact I had been advised by the doctor to work 9-5.  He then went ballistic and essentially said he would not allow me to work 9-5.  Apparently when I was off yesterday having my scan, he was on the phone to someone (probably HR) complaining about my situation in full earshot of my colleagues.

As a result of all of this, and my general concerns about something bad happening in my pregnancy, I have started to have anxiety attacks.  I don’t know if they’re anxiety attacks in the true medical sense, but I have been waking at 2am many nights with my heart pounding, unable to breathe and then bursting into tears and unable to get back to sleep.  I’ve also had times when it has caught me just walking down the high street to go and order a (decaf) coffee (although thankfully I haven’t cried those times! I would be mortified!).  It is awful, and it is not something I had ever experienced until things started to go so horribly wrong at work.

The thing is, it is all just so unnecessary.  I know what a hard worker I am.  For years and years my appraisals have complimented me on how hard working, diligent and conscientious I am.  If they had dealt with my pregnancy differently, and had my (and my baby’s) health in their minds, I would have come back from maternity leave fighting to prove myself and working every hour under the sun to be both a brilliant mum and an excellent [professional].  Instead, what can I do? How can I possibly go back somewhere like this and fight to make my career work? They will never let it work, unless it is only on their terms (i.e. never go home and see my husband and baby).  How can they possibly think that THIS is the way to get people to stay with the firm?

So I have some difficult decisions to make.  While I know I am leaving (which I decided the day they suggested I couldn’t go to L’s funeral) I do not know when to hand in my notice.  While I want to just quit now and focus on getting myself healthy so that Baby Flat has the best start in life, I need to be sensible and stick it out to ensure I get my maternity pay.  Unfortunately this means returning for 9 months post maternity leave, which is the unbearable part.

For now I am just struggling to make it to maternity leave and to have some calm before the baby hopefully arrives.  In just over a month we have a week’s holiday, which is something GREAT to look forward to, and when I return I will only have two months to get through before I leave.

So I am trying to focus on the good things and remember that every day I go into the office it’s a day closer to me leaving.  This job will not be forever; I can do other things and be a different person.

Also, while I do not earn a lot and it is unbearable being around most of my colleagues, it does allow me to:

  • slowly pay off my student loan;
  • slowly pay off another loan we took out to help buy the house;
  • save a bit into my pension (gosh, don’t I lead a wild lifestyle?!); and
  • pay my share of the mortgage.

I think that once the debts are paid off, I will be grateful that I stuck things out and hopefully it will make things easier for us financially.

I also think I will truly appreciate any job where there is a pleasant working environment, as you really can’t put a price on having good people around you.

All in all, I need to remember that I will be fine.  I will get through this.  I need to just keep trying to tick off one day at a time.

* This was genuinely something an old boss said, and didn’t understand why I was completely outraged.

 

18 weeks!

***As the title suggests, my post below talks a lot about my pregnancy.  I’ve deliberately waited to post this until a few of you had some good news, but I appreciate that some of you are not having the best of times fertility-wise so may not want to read this right now.  Next time I’ll just put up a load of cat photos!!!***

————————————————————————–

Wahoo! We’ve made it to 18 weeks.  I can’t believe we’re actually half way there.

In some ways the past 15 weeks or so (since we found out that I was pregnant) have been the slowest weeks of my life.  The wait to get the initial scan, then the times in between scans, have gone by agonisingly slowly and in all honesty I haven’t been able to relax and just “enjoy” pregnancy so far (cheers sub-fertility!).

On the other hand, it feels mad that we’re basically half way through a pregnancy.   After the years of trying and monthly disappointment and fighting for tests and operations and IVF referrals and having months pass between each stage of the fertility process, to be able to say after just 18 weeks that I am half way through a pregnancy just seems crazy.

So in good news, there is still a baby there.  Wahoo! We had a private gender scan a few weeks ago which was very exciting and made it feel even more real.

BG

From day one I have just ‘known’ we were having a boy (which is weird, because I usually don’t buy into that sort of stuff).  Everyone else, bar one friend, thought it would be a girl.  Anyway, our scan was pretty *ahem* obvious and I can report that we’re having a little boy! My intuition was clearly spot on 🙂Baby boyWe’re both over the moon, especially BT who admitted “every man wants a little mini-me”. (Although yesterday he said “every man wants a little girl because girls always dote on their dads”.  I think he’s a confused individual.)

The next step is to have the anomaly scan which is scheduled to take place in early June. That will be a huge step and I am so scared about something going wrong.  We have yet to make any concrete plans or buy a single baby item, as it all just feels too early and as if there are just too many hurdles to jump through.  When we try to explain this to people they almost always say “Well of course you’ll be fine”.  I guess people just don’t get it unless they’ve also struggled to get pregnant and/or have miscarried.

We’re starting to let everyone know about the pregnancy, which feels like a massive gamble.  We’re not making a big song and dance about it, but when people get in touch we’re casually mentioning it to them.  We’ve agreed we’re going to be quite upfront about how it hasn’t been easy and how it didn’t happen overnight.  While some people have been a little bit funny about it (“I don’t see why you feel the need to tell [people] that”“Well, because some people are f*cking ignorant and the more they learn about real life the better.  Also there’s a very high chance several of our friends are going through the same thing and if us being honest makes them feel a little less alone and desperate, then that’s good enough for me”).

On the whole people have been very supportive, ranging from “We essentially fell pregnant following a one night stand so can’t imagine what you have been through, but if you ever want to talk…” to one of BT’s best friends who messaged me about their own problems saying “We’ve been trying less than a year, but I always thought it would happen quickly.  As the months go by I feel like more and more of a failure, but you’ve given me hope that it will happen”.  It’s a funny old world.  You could never guess the people that fell pregnant easily and those that have struggled/are struggling/will struggle.  For all the guidance I have seen about not drinking/not smoking/not being overweight/not being underweight/not being brunette*, all my ‘unhealthy’ friends who wanted to get pregnant fell pregnant straight away and many of my ‘healthiest’ friends have struggled.  I hate that so many people blame themselves (as I did) when I really think in the majority of cases it is purely bad luck.

I still feel so strongly that infertility, sub fertility, IVF, miscarriage and adoption** need to be talked about more openly.   There shouldn’t be any shame or secrecy surrounding any of it, and people need much better access to professional help.  I have shared a few posts on Facebook about IVF recently (not one person commented, which says a lot) and I have already started preparing a few letters to local members of parliament (both where I live and where I work) requesting that they start allowing the full 3 NHS cycles of IVF.  It is not much at all, but it’s a start. Just because things are (hopefully) working out for me, I will never ever forget what it felt like or what so many women (and men) are going through (many of which have been battling for so much longer than we did and have been through so many cycles of IVF).

Anyway, enough chat from me today.  Have a lovely weekend everyone! I can’t wait to read about what you all get up to.

*This is a lie.  I have never seen this anywhere.  I wouldn’t be surprised of some “expert” says this though…

**I have added adoption because I got so sick of people saying “Why don’t you JUST adopt” or “Have you thought about adoption?”.  It just angers me so much, as there is so much ignorance and assumption around this subject.  We thought a lot about adoption, and I feel that at some point we will probably still explore this route, BUT there is so much you need to think about and you have to make many more sacrifices than you usually do when you have a biological child and it is something you both need to go into with your eyes wide open.

The weight gain dilemma

Scale

Tomorrow, I will be exactly 15 weeks.  I can’t believe that I have actually made it to the second trimester!

I have had a bit of a shock though.  Despite recommendations saying that a woman should aim to gain between 0 – 5 lbs in her first trimester, after 14 weeks I had gained a stone (14 lbs).

Obviously all I really care about is that I am pregnant and that my baby is healthy, and I would gain 100 lbs if it guaranteed that, but I am a little concerned and confused.

I am concerned because the second and third trimesters are when the weight gain apparently really ramps up.  If I have already gained this much weight, how much more will I gain in the next 5 – 6months? Will this affect/harm my baby? Will this make the birth harder? Also, and I appreciate this is incredibly superficial, will I be able to lose all this weight post-birth? I was already 30 lbs over my ideal weight before I got pregnant, although still in the ‘healthy’ BMI range…although BMI is obviously b*ll*cks, and was feeling incredibly self-conscious about my weight.

I am not surprised that I gained weight, and I would have even expected to be at the higher end of the “normal” first trimester weight gain.  After all, I:

  • haven’t had any vomiting;
  • had several weeks of nausea, which could only be satisfied by eating crisps/chips/pizza/cheese on toast;
  • have been starving all the time (possibly now because I have got used to eating more);
  • have been anxious all the time, so have comfort eaten a fair amount; and
  • have done hardly any exercise as I have been exhausted and have struggled physically when I have attempted to exercise.

It is no surprise that I have gained weight, but 14 lbs!? That’s madness and I am confused as to why I have gained so much.  Surely I have not been around THREE TIMES worse than other pregnant women with my eating and exercising?!

I just don’t really know what to do for the best now.  Obviously I can’t diet, as I can’t risk my baby missing essential nutrients or getting distressed (I imagine s/he is a little fatty like me and will be upset if they miss out on food).  I have spent the last 3-4 weeks being more careful about what I eat (lots of fruit, salad and veggies etc), but I have still gained weight during this time.

I know this sounds like an excuse, but I want to start regularly exercising again but I don’t know how.  I can definitely do more at the weekend (Im going for a run today!) but during the week I am out of the house between 6:30am – 8/9/10pm.  I would like to do something on my lunch break at work, but when I even get a lunch break it is for an absolute maximum of 30-45 minutes, so if you factor in changing time (x2) and washing, that doesn’t leave a lot of time for exercise! There’s also the cringe factor of running near the office…

I appreciate this really is a fortunate position to be in and I would much rather be worrying about this than the hell of worrying about getting pregnant! But I do find it difficult and I think it’s made worse because there’s such an expectation in society about how women (and pregnant women!) should look.

Since I became pregnant I have been bombarded with stories like this:

Ridiculous model

Ridiculous abs

Naughty plus size model

It’s the comments sections which are particularly vile.

These are just a few of the latest ones.  There have been all sorts, including one that went viral comparing two women who were both 5 or 6 months pregnant.  One was pretty big and one had washboard abs.  But why should we care? This story was allegedly released to show that “pregnant women come in all shapes and sizes”, but ultimately it was about the general public commenting on who was a “good pregnant woman” (i.e. the type that is still f*ckable, to use the language found in these comments) and who was a “bad pregnant woman”.  Many were quick to defend both types (they shouldn’t need defending) but on the whole there seemed to be more of the “Wow, her abs are amazing” and the “Sh*t, she’s let herself go” type comments.  If both mothers are eating and exercising as best as they can for their baby, then it just should not matter.

Although I’ve not had too many comments, I have had a few from people at work (females) about my weight gain or about how much I’m eating.  Others (males) have said that I “haven’t been looking well for a while”.  Apparently they were referring to my look from a health point of view, but what they were actually saying is “you have gained weight and look bloated and have stopped wearing the tighter fitting clothes.  I can’t say you’re less f*ckable, so I will just punish you for your weight-gain-sin by saying you don’t look as well.

It’s just incredibly sad that people feel they’ve got a right to say something.  Generally, unless something is going to make someone feel good or help them (and don’t assume your opinion is actually helpful), you probably shouldn’t say it at all.  Funnily enough, prior to these comments I was actually aware of my weight gain and the fact that I was eating more.  I didn’t need them to tell me.  In fact, on any given day over the past 17 years, I could tell you my exact weight to the pound and I have hated myself almost every single day.

So I am trying to be level-headed about the whole weight gain thing, as deep down I know that as long as my baby is healthy and that I am healthy that is all that matters.

But it is hard when society places so much value on your weight.  When your popularity and sense of self-worth depend on the number of the scale, and when your chances of promotion or being put in front of a client depend on your appearance.

I wish I didn’t care, but deep down I really really really do.

 

 

It’s a funny old world…*Sigh*

As of today I am 13 weeks and 6 days pregnant.  I still cannot believe that I can actually write that! Since about 6 weeks I have had no symptoms at all, except extreme tiredness and a weight gain of 12lbs (f*cking hell).

We have started telling a few more people, not just immediate family and those friends we would need to rely on if things went wrong.  Obviously everything is heavily caveated and we always give the obligatory warnings about nothing being certain and requesting that people don’t post stuff on Facebook. But we are starting to tell people and act like this could maybe actually happen.

As of this weekend, both my aunts now know.  I was nervous about telling my aunt on my dad’s side (his sister) as she is quite an emotional person and I know she would be heartbroken if something went wrong.  While I don’t know for certain, I am fairly sure that they wanted children and couldn’t have them, so I’m sure they would understand the enormity of it all and the pain we would feel if we lose our baby.  (Incidentally, I now cringe when I think of all the times my brother and I went to theirs as kids and repeatedly asked them why they didn’t have children.  Urghhhhh.)

My aunt on my mum’s side is much more clued up.  I had told her about our problems after I had a full on breakdown at her grandchild’s christening and thought I should probably explain why I was a hysterical mess, rather than partaking in the mandatory baby worship like everyone else.  She was lovely and extremely understanding about the whole thing.

Things have always been a bit difficult with her daughter.  It is not really my place to go into detail about what she is like, but in short, to say that she has “challenging behaviour” is an understatement.  Her parents worked their arses off to send her to a decent school and allow her to try a load of activities and experiences (which neither of them had) and were incredibly supportive of her.  She essentially repaid them by going off the rails and flunking all of her exams and doing nothing but going out and drinking and doing bad things with bad people.

Anyway, about 18 months ago we all found out she was pregnant.  She had just turned 21, had only been with her partner for a few months and apparently didn’t even realise she was pregnant until she was nearly 3 months gone.  Obviously that was quite a hard pill to swallow when BT and I had been saving for years to be in the best position to raise a child and had taken an active decision to try for a child and found that it wasn’t working.  Over the course of her pregnancy and the first year+ of the child’s life, she has been incredibly obnoxious about the whole thing (OTT Facebook posts; a “mummy blog” about her parenting choices which essentially just slams those that don’t have children as “not knowing what’s important” and slagging off mums who go back to work; angry messages to people who haven’t bought her child a birthday/Christmas card/presents, yet she has never once bought any of us a card/present etc).  She’s just been generally insufferable since falling pregnant (thank you so much, for Facebook unfollow!).

So this weekend my mum called my aunt to tell her our happy news.  My aunt was absolutely delighted for us and sent me a lovely message of congratulations.  Then dropped the bombshell to my mum that my cousin’s pregnant again…and she’s due less than two weeks after me.

Oh FFS!!!  I know it doesn’t matter as long as our baby is healthy, but FFS.  I thought we were in the clear from another baby bomb from them, as they’re getting married this summer.  Now I’m going to be bombarded with updates from her when I just want to keep my head down and avoid the world and get through the next 6 months.

I know I sound harsh, but the thing is, we have nothing in common and our pregnancies will be nothing alike.  She had no interest in me prior to me getting pregnant (in the last 2 years, all she’s ever said to me is “Why haven’t you two had children yet?”) but now that I am, I know she will just use this as an opportunity to steer the conversation to pregnancy, and then to her pregnancies and her opinions on pregnancies and motherhood, and then ultimately just on to her child.

She will never be able to comprehend that BT and I have battled to get this far and wake up every day terrified that this dream will all end.  We are now planning and budgeting and are trying to work out how the hell we are going to pay for this baby once I go back to work. She fell pregnant accidentally the first time and then for this second kid she must have fallen pregnant as soon as she started trying.  She gave up work as soon as she fell pregnant and the pair of them just get their parents to pay for pretty much everything (and trust me, they don’t accept the cheap stuff!).  There is just no common ground, and she has a total lack of empathy, so will not begin to understand for a minute why we want to handle things in a slightly more subtle way than she will.

I also know that this sounds a bit ridiculous, but I worry that by getting pregnant at the same time, she is going to take away our luck.  I feel it with my other friends who are pregnant, but nowhere near to the same extent.  Everything always just works out for her and she lands on her feet without ever having to use any energy or put anyone else first.  I just worry that, if things are to go wrong for one of the pregnant people, we’ll be the ones it happens to.

Deep down I know that’s silly, but infertility and pregnancy after infertility mean you can just never ever relax in the way that the Ooops Brigade can.