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Life after... [Mar. 31st, 2011|03:39 pm]
It's taken a while to get here to update, for very good reasons. We have a son!

Brennan was born at home, 10 days after his due date. The birth was very different to Ember's which was a hard but steady build over 27 hours. After a few days of intermittent, mild contractions that warned it was imminent but never quite tipped over into full labour I was woken at 12:30am on Jan 31st by a massive contraction that had me writhing, lasted for several minutes and broke my waters. I got up and waddled to the loo where the next big contraction came a few minutes later. They were 2-3 minutes apart almost immediately and very strong. P was tasked to call the midwife, doula and my sister and inflate and fill the pool 'Now!' but it soon became clear that there was no way I was going to make it into that pool, or even down the stairs.

By the time our midwife and doula arrived, about an hour after that first contraction I was beginning to get an urge to push. Bren was still OP at that point and the urge often comes early with OP babies. Our midwife suggested that if I didn't want to give birth on the toilet then now was the time to move, so we raced to the bedroom in between contractions and I dropped to my knees, burying my head in the armchair we have in there. I sang, swore, swayed and pushed for the next two hours until our midwife asked if she could have a feel to see what was going on. There was a cervical lip holding the head back which the midwife pushed away and the head followed her fingers right out. Two contractions later Bren was born, awake and alert and clearly extremely healthy.

He weighed in at 8lb 13.5oz  and is perfect, looking very similar to how Ember looked as a young baby which feels lovely. We are, of course, completely in love with him.

Aren't we lucky?
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Scan [Dec. 9th, 2010|10:55 pm]
We had the scan and it was absolutely fantabulous. We were scanned by a trainee obstetrician with a senior sonographer standing by to guide her so although we were only really there for a placenta site scan they did a full set of measurements, multiple times. We must have been in there for half an hour and it was just wonderful to see our baby up close and personal like that, knowing we'd be meeting him/her soon.

The first aspect we saw included both the head and half the torso and my immediate thought was 'that's the same shape head/body as E when she was first born'. There was a real sense of familiarity about it. We didn't get any facial shots but saw lots of the brain , spine, various aspects of the abdomen all the way down to the femur. We saw little hands, but no feet - they were up under my ribs. All the measurements were very normal, and continue to show this baby as slightly big, but still within normal range. A bit like big sister, really.

Then they got the internal probe out. The placenta is posterior, so it was hard to get a good shot abdominally. As soon as it was inserted we got a very clear shot of a cervix with a head sitting right on top of it. The baby wriggled a bit and we saw head hair gliding along after it. I had no idea you could see hair by ultrsound, but we did! They then went back to the abdominal scan and got a precise location of the placenta. With the baby's head directly on my cervix, the placenta starts at about chin height. In other words, very comfortably away from the cervix and in no way likely to cause a problem with a vaginal birth.

So we're all set! Home birth, here we come! And I'm so looking forward to meeting this little person at last. There was definitely a shift for me with this scan, psychologically, spiritually, which I'm very glad to have had happen. I can sense the shift into a birthing mindset beginning at last. Yey!
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Nearly ready to pop [Dec. 8th, 2010|11:05 pm]
[Current Mood |tiredtired]

Time has flown. I suddenly seem to have found myself in that 'sick-of-this-can't-wait-to-give-birth' space, which given that I'm still three weeks away from being officially full term seems a little early. However, the SPD has taken a definite turn for the worse of late so moving around in any way is painful and there are suddenly all kinds of things I can no longer do (lift up E, carry anything of any weight like a basket of laundry or firewood etc). I also really struggle to bend to pick anything up which is tough with a three year old to tidy up after. So yeah, this pregnancy has gone from being much easier than the last one to much harder, though I shouldn't complain. 30 weeks of relative ease was pretty fantastic.

So, we're just shy of 34 weeks. Our midwife - our lovely, independent, completely trusted midwife - has said she's happy to support me to birth at home from 36 weeks, or even a bit less as this looks like it will be a big-ish baby. It's good to know we've almost reached that magic point, though I'm under no illusions that having permission to birth early will do anything to get this baby moving any time before at least 39 weeks. And there's still a tiny chance it might all get blown out the water. Tomorrow we go for our scan to see if the placenta that was just encroaching on the cervix at 20 weeks has moved sufficiently to allow a safe vaginal birth. Statistically, the odds are overwhelmingly in our favour and I'd be very surprised if it hasn't moved, but there's always a chance we'll be some of the unlucky ones (around 10%). I've been doing a bit of reading and asking about elective caesareans this week, just in case. Tomorrow will tell!

And once we have the green light for our home birth I guess I really do have to get my head back into that birthing space. I've done virtually no preparation spiritually, emotionally or even physically - not that I'd be very capable of the latter. We are almost on top of the practical preparations though. I ordered a waterproof mattress protector yesterday. The one we now sleep on is a fancy, expensive one and given my waters broke in bed last time we're taking no chances, plus I'm going to leak breast milk all over the show during those early co-sleeping night feeds. Our stash of newborn and 0-3 size baby clothes is currently with P's mum being laundered and the nursery is decorated, carpeted, curtained and almost furnished.

We're going to be parents of two very soon. Who would have thought it?
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tick, tick, tick [Oct. 22nd, 2010|10:23 pm]
We're in the third trimester. How did that happen?
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Decision [Oct. 11th, 2010|08:13 pm]
[Current Mood |happyhappy]

I have made a decision. Fortunately, P is with me on it, but it was one I made very definitely on my own. We are having an independent midwife.

The difference in how I feel now compared to how I felt just two days ago when I contemplated the birth is immense. I can now look forward to it, know I can relax fully in it and let it unfold as it should with a team of supporters who are completely there for us.

I reached it after we had our 25 week midwife appointment on Saturday. The midwife who came out, E, was perfectly pleasant and said nothing overtly negative about our home birth plans, but given that I've already had one normal, problem-free home birth and am having a normal, healthy pregnancy it would have been hard for her to come up with something really bad. Still, when she asked what kind of things we'd have on our birth plan and I said I probably wouldn't want any internal examinations unless there was some indicator there could be a problem she tried several times to convince me otherwise 'because otherwise they have no way of knowing how advanced things are'. Becasue the length, frequency and intensity of contractions would clearly tell her nothing, not to mention I might have an opinion of my own at the time. She also wanted to be sure we knew how a 'good, strong sweep inside the cervix could really help move things along'. Maybe that can happen, but it would hurt, a lot, potentially cause foetal distress or break the waters if they were still intact, and if everything was fine, why on earth would we want to 'move things along' any more than nature was going to do for us anyway. It took three repetitions before she actually heard that we didn't want the cord to be clamped or cut - the prospect of an unclamped cord was clearly far outside her comfort zone. And the idea of waiting an hour or two for a physiological third stage to take place before resorting to syntometrine had her eyebrows nearly touching the ceiling. She conceded to everything, saying 'at the end of the day it is your choice' but I'd have no doubt that if she were to attend us we'd have to debate and negotiate with her to get our wishes adhered to.

For several hours afterwards I felt very emotional and really couldn't work out how I felt. We'd had a busy day and opted for a take-away for dinner which I went out to collect. In the car on the way out (we're in the sticks so it's 15 minutes each way) I had my light bulb moment. I just knew I wasn't able to compromise on this. It's the birth of our baby, our last baby, and a lifetime of memories and that is too precious to choose second best on. On the way home I called L, one of the local independent midwives who I have been at births with and who I have a lot of respect for. We'd talked vaguelly about the prospect of her being our midwife in the past but never got round to the details. I asked her for a figure to take us on and the one she gave me was significantly less than I'd anticipated. She also said that after an initial deposit, she'd be willing for us to pay the rest off in installments over several months. That was all I needed to hear. I came home, told P what L had proposed and within the hour the decision was made. I called L today and confirmed it. We are having an IM, and a good one at that. The relief I feel is enormous.

We're going to be spoiled rotten with this birth. We're having a doula and an IM! Sure, it will take a big chunk out of my maternity allowance but we've worked out we can manage that and the pay off will be worth every penny. I can really start looking forward to this birth now. Bring it on!
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Just a quickie [Sep. 28th, 2010|02:50 pm]
Things are ticking along. Work has been mad recently which has left little time for baby thinking space, but things are progressing. I'm getting bigger by the day and for the last few days the baby has clearly settled in one position because whenever I sit down at the computer I get a flurry of kicks in the same place on the right side of my tummy. They're very visible as well as feel-able from the outside which is good fun, but they're now beginning to get hard enough to get uncomfortable after a little while. I wouldn't change it for the world. :)

In three days time we'll hit 24 weeks. Officially viable. We really are going to have another baby soon.

The chaos of the coming year is already tangible. With P in a new, very full on job with regular overtime I'm not sure how we're going to get through it. I'm sure we'll manage but I'm anticipating a very chaotic time for a while. I'm already very much the home side of the partnership, doing all the shopping, cooking and most of the housework, plus all the daytime kid-care when E isn't at play group. I'm going to have an extra kid in the mix soon with not a great amount of additional support from P - not through choice I hasten to add. Last time, she had 10 weeks off work right after I gave birth. We knew we were really lucky to be able to negotiate that, but it will make the barely two weeks we'll get this time feel painfully short.

Fortunately my parents now live down the road instead of a few hours away and they've already said they'll help out as much as they can. I'm so grateful for that, but I can't help wishing it could be P instead of my folks that get to hang out and help out at home those first couple of months. She's going to miss so much.
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Growing and wibbling [Sep. 14th, 2010|01:19 pm]
Well, things are still ticking along here. I'm now twenty one and a half weeks and it feels as though I've gone through a sudden expansion in the last week. There is now no denying the babe within - s/he wriggles regularly and this week has kept me awake two evenings with a bout of furious activity just as I tried to go to sleep. My centre of gravity has shifted, I can feel the pulling in my lower back as I walk and I'm now struggling to squeeze through gaps that my mind believes should be big enough, but clearly aren't.

Here's a pic:

21 week bump

The week before last we had our 20 week scan. We were unsure about it after the hassle that we had last time with our daughter's mild renal dilation that cleared up by itself but still got us into hot water with the medics for questioning the treatment options - all before she was born. This baby has perfect kidneys however. In fact, this baby is perfect in every way, with a slightly larger than average head and belly, and slightly shorted than average legs. So a perfectly healthy short, fat baby. :)

Want to see our baby?

20 week scan

We also found out that the placenta is low this time. The bottom edge of it just butts up against the cervix. There is plenty of time for it to move and I've got good chances of it doing so, but we will need to be scanned again at 35 weeks to see if the exit is clear before definitely planning a vaginal birth. I've done some research which indicates I'm much more likely to have it move than not, so I'm going to go ahead and keep preparing for my home birth. I'll hold off getting a pool until after that scan though, and if we end up needing to plan for a 38 week c/s then I'll have the pleasure of possibly having this baby share my birthday which would be a wonderful treat.

But I'm not dwelling on it too much. I'm 80% sure we're going to be all set for home birthing, so that's what I'm going to focus on. With that in mind I've managed to stay very positive about birthing with the NHS team since my last post. Knowing we have our doula booked has helped lift some of that pressure as I know we'll have support from whenever we need it and she can help us gage when to call the midwives so that they don't arrive until things are really motoring on. Having only had positive contact with the midwife team has been a real boost too.

It was clearly too good to last though. Today I rang the unit to book in my 25 week home visit. I spoke to a very lovely midwife that I attended a birth with last year and she was great, remembered me too and we had a nice chat. She found a slot that fits for us and when I asked which midwife it was who would be coming she  told me and I was pleased it was one I hadn't met yet. Every chance I get to meet another team member is good in my book! But then the midwife I spoke to decided to warn me that the midwife who is coming doesn't like home births, and to be prepared for her trying to persuade me out of it. I'm thankful for the warning, but now I'm left wondering whether I want to meet this midwife at all if she's not going to be supportive and possibly throw off all the positivity I've managed to gather for the NHS team. I really don't want to have to battle at all, at this or any stage and ever since the phone call I've been feeling wobbly and emotional. And I haven't even met the poor midwife yet - she might be lovely - but the prospect of anyone not being 100% behind us just makes me question it all again.

A lottery win would come in very handy right now so I could just jump ship without guilt about the cost. But given our chances on that front, I'd better work on getting my head around this as a back up measure. Bah.
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Midwives, doulas and finding the positives [Aug. 10th, 2010|10:49 pm]
[Current Mood |tiredtired]

We're coming up to 17 weeks now, and I'm finding myself beginning to think ahead to the day I give birth again. The last week has seen some big shifts in my thoughts and feelings, in good ways, helped along by a couple of very good birth professionals.

Firstly, we met with our potential doula last week. I already knew her from local doula circles but P had only met her very briefly and although I knew she was my preferred doula by a long way I needed P to feel she was going to be a good fit too. I didn't know how it would go. I've got a lot more experience than she does, though we've always seemed to meet as peers rather than with me taking on any kind of mentor role (as has often happened with other new doulas on the scene) and we approach birth and doulaing in similar ways. I wasn't sure how easily I'd flip into 'expectant mother' from 'fellow doula' but whether it was her conversational skills, my own evolution into the former again or just chance, I did so very much. We talked about our daughter's birth and realised some things about it that hadn't ocurred to us before that we can now take as learning experiences for this one. I also dug up a lot of fears that I have been carrying about giving birth under the NHS, some of which was quite hard to admit, and I felt like I'd been put through the wringer a bit by the end. However, it was very good to get it out and already I'm finding I have ideas about how I can move on from them and find faith and confidence that this will also be a good birth, despite the different care providers. It will take time, but I still have half a pregnancy to go and I'm confident I'll get there, especially now that we have a good doula to hold our hands. P was very happy with her, so she's booked.

Then yesterday I had my next midwife appointment. We went to the midwife led unit for it and it happened to be with a midwife I attended a birth with last year. I liked her then and liked her more after we had half an hour with her this time. She was extremely positive about our home birth plans, answered all my questions (though I kept some of the tricky ones back for later) and told me that I'd be getting two more opportunities to meet with the midwives than I'd thought. I still may not meet all of them, but there are 14 on the team and I should get through the majority of them before the birth so at least I'll probably have a familiar face walk through the door when the big day comes. I'd already started to feel a bit more positive about birthing on the NHS after our doula session but this meeting helped a lot. If she happens to be the midwife we get when I do give birth I will be very happy.

It's also occurred to me that I've got a client who is giving birth under the same team in November so that will give me yet another chance to meet a few more of them. It's only just dawned on me that that's going to happen. An added bonus for me. :)

Oh, and it's worth adding that both the baby and I are perfectly healthy and happy. I'm measuring two weeks ahead already despite having only gained 4lbs (yey - I'd gained 14 by this point last time), so I might just be growing a monster child but that doesn't bother me. I thoroughly enjoyed pushing out a nearly 9lb baby last time and I did it with relative ease for a first timer, so I know my body will handle that part well enough. We heard the heart beat and it sounded rather steam train-like at around 125 beats a minute. That's another marker pointing in the direction of a boy as far as the old wives are concerned, but given we won't find out until this baby is in our arms we won't know how accurate that prediction is until then.
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Ticking along [Jul. 27th, 2010|12:46 pm]
All continues to be well in our little family. Our daughter is very happy about the prospect of a new baby, although she keeps insisting that it must be a sister, and blue, so we may be in for a little, or a lot of disappointment down the track. I've started to feel some wriggling in there too. It's still very subtle, and I only tend to get it when I'm sitting or lying still so have no other sensations to distract me but there's definitely something going on in there. Our baby is now something like four inches from crown to rump so it's not surprising that it's starting to make its presence felt.

I'm getting braxton hicks contractions already which was a little unnerving until I spoke to a friend who had the same thing happen in her second pregnancy. Nothing painful or enough to trigger any real concern, but it is strange to be feeling them while my uterus still sits just in the lower portion of my belly. I didn't get them last time until my belly was quite big so now it feels strange to get these sensations of tightening and hardness just above my pelvis. Hopefully it all bodes well though. My womb will be very well excercised and ready to go for it once 40 weeks rolls by. :)

We've started on our scary list of jobs, but the list keeps getting longer. The boot of our car is full of baby things that we lent to a friend and who has now returned them and we have nowhere in the house to put them yet as the room that will be the nursery is uncarpeted, undecorated and still full of the last few boxes we haven't got round to unpacking since we moved in a year ago!

And we've started thinking about names, which is quite exciting. We're keeping all our favourites a secret for now though.
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Not even slightly blobby [Jul. 6th, 2010|12:14 am]
[Current Mood |busybusy]

Today we had our dating scan. I'd been getting a little nervous for a few days beforehand, even though we knew the chances of there being a problem were very slim. P was supremely confident and we were both quite pleased that E was coming with us. She was very excited about getting to see the baby in Mummy's tummy.

As soon as the probe was passed over my belly there was a lovely clear image of a uterus and baby. I was really quite amazed at what we could see. When we had our dating scan with E we were 11+5 and she was a vaguely baby-shaped collection of blobs. This baby, at 11+3 had clear limbs and facial features! Initially s/he was lying still which the scanning midwife was quite pleased about as she got some lovely clear measurements. They matched our dates perfectly, giving us an EDD of January 21st. Then baby woke up and started doing some full body wriggling, and there was a beautifully beating heart - and just the one baby.


In the second shot the baby is waving their arm around over their face. So cool.

So, we're officially pregnant, and we'll start going properly public now, albeit slowly. Our chance of miscarriage is now 0.04% and so we really do need to start thinking about all the things we need to achieve before this baby arrives, like sorting out and washing all the baby stuff, unpacking, decorating and reflooring the room that we've been using as junk storage space until we needed it as a nursery, and deciding what we're going to do about the birth. After serious figure crunching an independent midwife is just too far out of our reach, so we're going NHS. This will mean some very different mental preparation for me which is a little daunting, but we intend to get ourselves a good doula to help ease things. I know who I'd like - a relatively new local doula who although not so experienced is very much on my wavelength and has got confidence in spades. I might need that from an advocacy perspective. I'll hopefully speak to her tomorrow.

Anyway, today there's been a shift. I can now officially be pregnant with an expectation of a live birth and plan accordingly. Six months suddenly feels like a very short time...
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Booked in [Jun. 25th, 2010|02:38 pm]
We went off to the local midwife-led unit yesterday afternoon for our official booking in appointment. It went well, although it was lengthy - there was just a lot of paperwork to get through detailing all my relevant medical and birth  history. We did get a tour of the unit which was nice to see, not that we'll be using it. We'll be birthing at home unless medical issues require a transfer, in which case we'll be off to the consultant unit rather than the lovely, homey midwife unit we were at yesterday. Still, after we'd gone through everything they've officially classed me as low risk so there's no issue with the home birth at this stage and, having had one already, I'm pretty confident we'll pull this one off too.

The midwife we saw, B, was lovely. They don't caseload at present here so we're just under the team as a whole instead of being given a named midwife. There are quite a few of them but hopefully we'll get to meet most of them during the pregnancy at one stage or another. We've been discussing it and as much as we'd love to have an independent midwife again we just can't afford it this time. So it looks as though we're going to be giving birth under NHS care, which is a little scary, but I'll be making sure I have a doula as well as P to advocate for me if needed. It should be OK. I'm healthy, it was all fine last time, we all know what we're doing much better this time so there's no reason why there should be any issues, I'm just nervous about arbitrary NHS protocols making things uneccesarily difficult when it comes to the crunch. On the plus side I've met two of the other midwifes at a clients birth and they were lovely too. I need to remind myself that lots of people have successful home births under the NHS and there's no reason to believe I won't be one of them. How I wish we could magically afford an IM! Oh well. I've got to get over it. Short of a lottery win it aint going to happen!

I'm 10 weeks today. A quarter of the way through already, well, if you discount the fact that conception doesn't happen until two weeks in. I'm still in denial though. It hasn't sunk in that this is going to actually result in a baby, that our lives are going to change forever, again, in just over half a year. I have another 30 weeks to get my head around it...
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It's real! [Jun. 16th, 2010|12:04 am]
[Current Mood |cheerfulcheerful]

Yesterday we went for our early reassurance scan. My nerves built up for several days beforehand. P was apparently fine until we started walking across the car park to the maternity unit, and extremely nervous once we made it into the scanning room. I wasn't sure if they'd do an internal or external scan, but had a full bladder in case they went for the external. I know it can be hard to get a good picture externally with early scans, but this time, the first time the scanning midwife passed the probe over my belly, there was an immediate clear view of an amniotic sac with a lovely blob within it. Once she'd zoomed in, there was a little heart beating away. I cried.

scan pic

Our baby is 18mm long which is just about perfect for this gestation, and they said I was around eight weeks and three days, instead of eight weeks and one as I'd thought. If that's correct it means that I must have ovulated around the day after we inseminated, but I'm still leaning towards my original dates. Our daughter measured slightly large for dates right from the start, a full five days ahead by the time the dating scan happened so to be two days ahead now would just put this baby in the same kind of ball park as his/her sister.

E is going to be a sister. This really is happening. The chances of miscarrying now are in the region of 1-2% so we'd be bloody unlucky for things to go pear shaped now. Not that it matters, because that isn't going to happen. We're having a baby!

And I also have a bump!

That photo is a few days old and it's even bigger now. I'm officially into my maternity clothes - at eight weeks! We'd still like to wait until the dating scan in another three weeks before telling our parents but at this rate it won't be a secret much longer. Friends are already looking at me strangely. Only time will tell how well we hold out, or how well I can hold it in...
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Still pregnant... [Jun. 9th, 2010|04:06 pm]
I figured it was time for an update.

I still appear to be pregnant. The intermittent tests we keep taking are all very positive and I have a nice bundle of symptoms. They vary day to day but tiredness and nausea are regular fixtures and I'm growing out of my trousers already. Last time I didn't get the start of a bump until 11-12 weeks but this time it's just there. Things I've read online indicate that's probably because my tummy muscles were all shot to pieces first time which certainly makes sense. I haven't gained a pound, but have gained a couple of inches at the waist. Apparently my uterus is about the size of a tennis ball now, and the baby is half an inch long, with a beating heart, limbs that it wiggles a lot, eyes and nostrils but not a lot of chin yet.

I'm now about seven and a half weeks, so there's just a month to go until we can go public. I've managed to arrange an early reassurance scan through the fertility centre which happens on Monday. I'll be just over eight weeks by then, so if all is well there'll be something like a 98% chance that things will continue to go well. I have my booking appointment with the midwife the following Thursday, just two weeks away now. It still feels bizarre, and I'm still not getting into the swing of thinking that this is going to turn into a real baby, but I hope that after that scan on Monday (as long as it's OK) I'll begin to. I'm looking forward to that feeling. Right now it feels like I'm in pregnancy limbo - too soon to be confident it will all continue and too soon to tell the world, so I'm just sitting here waiting and feeling sick.

I made carrot cake with E this afternoon and the whole house now smells of cake. It's making me queasy. Lovely!
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Still working... [May. 24th, 2010|10:07 am]
[Current Mood |calmcalm]

We did another test this morning and within seconds that second line was glaring at us. By the time the 'official' five minutes had past it was as dark as a very dark thing. My body is positively oozing hCG so something is clearly doing what it should be. And the tiredness is being nicely erratic but overpowering when it comes. On Saturday we had quite a few friends over to hang out in the garden. There was a fire, and a paddling pool, and lots of naked children, and it was wonderful. Some of those friends stayed over and I wasn't sure how I'd hold up to a full day of being social but I actually felt pretty OK. I clearly used up all my resources though, because yesterday was very different.  I needed a little nap by 10am, and later after Sunday lunch at the in-laws I dozed off in an armchair and didn't come to until over an hour later. I'm not feeling too bad again today and am planning to do something fun and active with E, but now it's no longer the weekend and there isn't another parent to take over when I collapse in a heap I may have to pace myself.

I'm still rather stunned that I'm able to discuss pregnancy symptoms at all. This little being within me will have a beating heart by the time this week is out but just two weeks ago I was convinced it would be months before we'd get lucky, if indeed it would happen at all. How bizarre.
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Definately pregnant [May. 21st, 2010|12:43 pm]
[Current Mood |tiredtired]

After we got our first pregnancy test last week we did a test every morning for seven days. The lines kept getting darker, but other than tingly breasts and abdominal cramps - both of which could in theory be caused by an imminent period - I had no other sign to go on that a miracle was happening inside me. For the last two days we haven't tested because we haven't just had those two little lines to rely on for reassurance. I'm somewhere between four and a half and five weeks pregnant and the symptoms are kicking in already. My primary symptom is exhaustion. I just want to sleep all the time. I remember this from last time, although I don't remember it starting quite so early on. Then I could manage it - I was self employed so could arrange my days to accommodate a bit of a nap in the middle if I needed to. Now I have a toddler, and one that doesn't have a daytime nap any more, I have a funny feeling there'll be a lot less snoozing going on. How I'm going to cope I'm not sure.

I've also had the odd wave of nausea, particularly when I have an empty stomach, so I now need to find myself some appropriate snacks that aren't going to pile on the pounds like those I relied on last time did.

But that will require research, conscious thought and creativity and I've run out of those. Maybe after I've had a nap... Oh yeah.

I'm definitely pregnant.
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Happy today [May. 18th, 2010|08:04 am]
[Current Mood |happyhappy]

Today is a good day.

When I got pregnant with E, at around the time of implantation I had a very strong experience over a couple of hours when I felt her spirit/soul/being entering my body, and hers. I got a wonderful sense of some aspects of her personality - aspects that are very much there today, although of course she is so much more than them too.

Last night I felt the same thing happen for this baby. She has arrived. She is very different to Ember, though there is the same thoughtfulness and philosophical side. I felt much more of that with this new energy though, and less of the physical exuberance, verging on clumsiness that E embodies. I also felt that there will be a lot of sharing between E and this little one, that they have a lot to teach each other and the potential for a very deep spiritual connection, almost as though E's presence in this family was the main reason for this little soul to choose us. And yes, they felt very feminine.

So I am happy today. I'm not just carrying around a little bundle of extra cells, but I can now feel the presence of another person here, in me, and in our family. And it feels as though the presence of that little soul is a real indicator that this pregnancy will stick around, because there's now a person there who really wants to experience this life, who will fight for it and not give up easily. Not to mention the fact that the line on the test today was much darker again than any of the others, and I haven't had any spotting at all for the last 24 hours. I'm now officially late for my period and am off to the doctor later today to get referred to the midwifery team.

This is really happening, on every level. And that makes me very happy.
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So far so good [May. 17th, 2010|08:39 am]
It's been five days now and we're still getting positive pregnancy tests with progressively darker lines on them. My boobs feel pretty much ready to explode and the period style cramps have stepped up a notch. I'm a bit more relaxed about that this time because I remember how painful they were in the first few weeks last time. It feels like a positive sign now, albeit an uncomfortable one.

I rang our clinic, but because we weren't having the scans to monitor ovulation this time we're not eligible for an early scan so the first confirmation we'll get that all is well is at 12 weeks with the dating scan. We've talked about this and after the faff of the last pregnancy we've decided that we'll probably have that scan for peace of mind but decline future scans, unless there is some genuine medical reason for them that we feel as strong about as the medics. We'll wait and see of course - we might feel quite different when that time comes around, but that's the current plan. I've now rung the doctor and I have an appointment tomorrow to confirm the pregnancy and get signed up with the midwifery team. We're going to start off under the NHS midwife team - they are generally pretty good round here, but we've already talked about how we can cobble together the money for an independent midwife if we feel we need it. It feels very bizarre making birth plans all of a sudden, even tentative ones. The fact that I might be giving birth again in another eight months or so feels too alien a concept right now. If all goes well I will though. I've got time to get my head around that later though.

I am however spotting quite a bit. Last time I had a few hours of light spotting at around the time of implantation. I've been getting it on and off for five days now. It'd had moments of being quite dark but it's mostly light and the pregnancy tests are clearly indicating my Hcg level is rising which is the most important thing. I know that spotting in pregnancy is common but having not had much at all last time it is a little unnerving. If it continues I might try to wangle an early scan at around 6-7 weeks from the early pregnancy unit. At least by then there should be a heartbeat and I know that once we've seen that the miscarriage risk drops dramatically.

Anyway, this is all in the future. Right now we're just trying to take one day at a time. I'm aware that I might start to feel really quite unwell in the next few weeks so I'm trying to plan ahead. We're off to buy potties today so that potty training can begin in earnest. I don't fancy the combination of morning sickness and pooey nappies very much.

This is getting very rambly, but that's probably a good indication of where I'm at right now. In every way but one life continues as normal, but that one thing is both huge and everyday at the same time - and too early to take too seriously yet. Let's just hope this one sticks around and we can start taking it seriously before long.
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Getting darker [May. 14th, 2010|08:52 am]
The test this morning was significantly darker than yesterday's, and I woke this morning to a little brown spotting, so implantation seems to have sorted itself out too.

I know this is early days and we've still got that whole miscarriage risk stage to get through. I really know that, but I feel so damn positive right now. I've realised I'm not yet attached to the idea of this actually turning into a baby, which is a good thing, but I am without a shadow of a doubt pregnant. I feel it in every fibre of my being. I have abdominal cramps just like the ones I had the first few weeks last time, and my boobs feel full and alive. I was with a client and her newborn yesterday giving some breastfeeding support and when her baby cried for a feed my boobs tingled like crazy. I wouldn't have been surprised if I'd actually started leaking, it felt so like a let down.

I'm pregnant, and whatever happens next that fact alone is worthy of celebration.

Non-alcoholic celebratory beverage anyone?
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Unbelievable! [May. 13th, 2010|10:30 am]
[Current Mood |shockedshocked]

Things went well at the fertility clinic, pretty much exactly as I'd predicted. We were given another appointment in three months and I was set a target of another stone in weight to drop.

Not that that matters any more. I've felt a bit funny the last few days. It's now two weeks since we inseminated, but of course, we've got no idea when I actually ovulated. I clearly did though, because this morning I did a test. I was expecting it to be negative and enable me to put it out my mind again, but it wasn't! It's only faint, but there is a second line. It's extremely early days (probably about three and a half weeks) so we just need to keep testing and hoping that line gets stronger, but my goodness, there's a second line!

It took us three and a half years to get pregnant with Ember. Eighteen cycles of inseminations. What are we doing getting a positive test on our second attempt for a sibling?
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Hmmm [May. 5th, 2010|04:49 pm]
[Current Mood |okayokay]

We are now 6 days post insemination. I have now stopped having twinges and I no longer have fertile mucus. I'm guessing this means that I either had a very subtle ovulation at some point between three and five days post insemination or my body has given up and has gone into an extended limbo period, again. Time will tell on that one. What I do know is that I will be amazed if this cycle has worked so I don't have any of those imaginary early pregnancy symptoms to deal with and very little anxiety about the whole thing. This has to be a positive in the long run, I just wish my body had played ball a bit more. The prospect of having it go off the rails again is not appealing.

We have an appointment with the specialist next week. It's just an update appointment really, when I imagine they'll just tell me to lose more weight and go back in another 3-6 months. Reading between the lines I think they're considering clomid for me, but they won't prescribe it until my weight is lower. I'm not sure it's something we'd be willing to try anyway, but until we're faced with it as a real option we don't need to decide either way.

In the rest of the world, all is well. My little girl is feeding me slices of apple as I type and we spent this morning first at soft play and then shopping, both of which are activities she loves. I just need to remember how amazing all this is, and that if we don't get pregnant again we're still unbelievably lucky.
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Taking its time [May. 2nd, 2010|09:13 am]
[Current Mood |anxiousSlightly disappointed]

Well I still haven't ovulated. At this rate we could have waited until our donor was back from his weekend away. I'm still getting twinges, positive ovulation predictor tests and fertile mucus. I've been reminding myself of things by researching online and the stats on how long sperm can survive inside the body vary between 2-3 and 5-7 days. I did have fertile mucus when we inseminated so hopefully a few of the little swimmers will have made it up to the fallopian tubes and be happy hanging out in there for a day or two yet, but we're now two and a half days post insemination so we're getting to the end of the lower time scales.

I think, for the sake of sanity, I'm going to assume that this cycle is a no-hoper. We can put it down as a learning experience as we get to grips with my new and evolved post pregnancy cycles. Fortunately I don't feel horribly disappointed by this prospect - I don't think I ever expected it to work in the first few attempts. Still, it would have been nice to have a good chance. Oh well. When we conceived last time I was having acupuncture and using hypnotherapy, neither of which I'm doing yet. In preparation for this I did ask P for a course of acupuncture treatments for Christmas and I've been saving them. I've even found myself an acupuncturist that I like in our new local town so as soon as my next period arrives I think I'll be off to get needled. It's all part of getting into the swing of it again, isn't it?

Today I'll take my mind off it by taking our lovely daughter to the historical re-inactment weekend at a local castle along with one of her friends and her family while P has a day out with friends. If I can concentrate on anything other than keeping her out of the way of the archers or the pewter furnace then I'll be amazed. The joys of parenting! I love it. :)
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Back for more... [Apr. 30th, 2010|12:41 pm]
Hello again livejournal.

It has been well over two years since I last posted. Then I was the parent of a three month old baby. Now, that baby is two and a half, full of life, personality and opinions.Live has moved on a lot for us in the last few years. We left the city and now live in a gorgeous old house in a tiny village in the country with nearly an acre of garden and woods. This was the other aspect of our dreams, and we have now achieved both - a wonderful family life and a beautiful rural home. We are very busy, and very happy.

I've been unsure about resurrecting this journal for some time, but today the urge finally took me, and here I am. We are now trying for a second child. It seems almost inevitable that we would reach this point. For a long while we were very happy just the three of us, but as time has passed we've become more aware of the benefits of giving our daughter a sibling, and the broodiness has started to kick in. We began getting into the idea of trying last year. Our donor was happy to donate again so I got myself back on the medication to get me ovulating. It started to work, and we tried the first month the timing seemed right. I then went on to have an 11 week cycle, a trip back to the doctor who told me I was too overweight for the medication to work properly (I was nearly 30lb heavier then than when we'd conceived the first time) and I went onto a weight loss kick. 15lb down and the meds started to work. And here I am now, still with another 15lb to lose but apparently ovulating once more. Last night we inseminated again. We're back on the rollercoaster.

I'm edgy today. I think I would be regardless, but I'm not convinced we've pulled off the timing. Today is day 21 of my cycle, which used to be about right for ovulation. I began to get kind of fertile mucus a few days ago and yesterday morning it seemed to be getting close to full on egg white, though not quite. Our donor is going away this weekend so I knew if we were going to try we'd need to do it before he left so we arranged to inseminate last night. The fertile mucus had eased off a bit by the time evening came around. This morning I have slight twinges, but they're not strong, and since having Ember I know these can go on for a 2-3 days before I ovulate. I'm just hoping that my mucus was 'good enough' to sustain the sperm for that long. I think in an ideal world we'd inseminate again either tonight or tomorrow, probably tomorrow, but it's not meant to be this month. Our donor has said he only really wants to donate once each cycle this time, which is fair enough as he has over an hour's drive each way to get to us, but I'm now realising that this might mean learning to read my cycle slightly differently so that we time things better.

Oh well, what will be, will be. The fun has started again. Good luck to us!
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Pondering it all [Jan. 14th, 2008|04:10 pm]
[Current Mood |contemplativecontemplative]

In a week or so's time, this journal will be four years old. I always hoped that one day I'd be able to write the kind of entries I can write now, talking about our child, and how much they enrich our lives. It's true, Ember is more fabulous than we could ever have hoped, but when I think of writing in this journal, I find other thoughts come to mind.

I started this journal in order to document my experience as the non-biological mother of our child. Since I began it, I've been the potential bio and non-bio parent, and experienced the highs and lows of many unsuccessful attempts in each role. During the pregnancy and birth I realise now that I was so focused on the experience that documenting the differences between the two roles wasn't a major consideration, though I'm sure that this would have been much less the case if the roles had been reversed. As it was, P would sometimes admit to not having thought about the pregnancy for a time, something that for me was unimaginable, but then the changes in my body were constant reminders. Now however, I find myself contemplating those different roles again, and as I do so, with our beautiful daughter asleep in the chair behind me, I find that it's finally sunk in that those two roles are no longer different at all.

Our daughter has two mothers who both wanted her for a long time before she came and who both dote on her now. She knows this. It shows in the way that her face lights up with a beautiful smile whenever either of us approach her, in the way she settles to sleep in either of our arms, and in her calm and confidence in the world. P summed it up beautifully a few days after the birth. I can't say if this is exactly right but her words were something very close to: "I don't know why people worry so much about bonding as the non-biological parent. I adored her from the moment she was born. I couldn't love her more if I'd given birth to her myself."

Not surprisingly, the world feels like a very different place now that we're parents. Most of those changes are documented in every parenting book out there, but there is one place where the difference is extremely noticeable to us. It's in the way we now contemplate trying to conceive again.

We've spent some time considering having another child. Even up until Ember's birth we had thought we'd want to start trying again quite soon with P. She's going to be 40 later this year and if she is ever to bear a child herself we felt we'd need to really get cracking, but now that Ember is here, things feel very different. Having her has made it clear that it makes no difference to us which of us bears any future children - they will be loved and wanted by us both regardless. It's also made us realise how amazingly precious every moment is with one's own child. We're loving having her so much that we find ourselves not wanting to have another child yet. We want to bask in the joy that she brings us for a while, without having to think about ovulation predictor tests, cervical mucus or arranging donations. It feels wrong to try to create a child for any reason other than simply wanting them. It would undoubtedly be unnecessarily stressful to go through the whole 'trying to conceive roller coaster' without really, really wanting the outcome and if we're honest, we just don't want another child yet. I have no doubt that one day we will, but that day is not today. When it comes we'll decide whether we want to try with P at all, at whatever age she may be by then, or if we just want to try with me. Either way we'll be creating our child, and either way, if successful, will result in a child we both adore.

So, back to this journal, it's up-coming anniversary and the quite amazing journey it's been with us on. The name is now clearly entirely wrong. I'm not a nonbiomum, and there's a chance I might never be. But after all these years I'm finally a mum. Be it bio or non-bio, that's all that really matters.
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Birth Story [Jan. 4th, 2008|01:16 pm]
[Current Mood |proud]

It's taken a long time to get round to writing this, my story of Ember's birth. However, I'm lucky and I have write ups by both my midwife and my sister to help me get things in the right order - much of the first 24 hours or so are something of a blur to me now. But here goes. The birth of Ember Joy.

Read more...Collapse )
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We did it. [Oct. 28th, 2007|04:24 pm]
[Current Mood |happyhappy]

I'm sorry that it's taken me so long to get on here and make this announcement. The last week or so have been rather busy, but in the nicest possible way.

Our daughter, Ember Joy, was born at 5:54 am on October 19th, at home after a 27 hour, completely natural and un-medicated labour. It was extremely tough, which I'd expected, but as these things are inclined to be it was tough in ways I hadn't in any way anticipated. However, my wonderful birthing team consisting of P, our midwife and my sister and cousin kept me on track. They were all fantastic, and by the time I was pushing her out on my knees over our sofa I was thoroughly enjoying myself. Ember weighed in at 8lb 11oz and although she was born 5 days over her hospital due date she came along 40 weeks to the day from the day we inseminated last, the day I believe I ovulated. Punctual little lady!

Since the birth we've had some problems feeding and are currently syringe feeding expressed breast milk. She is finally beginning to get the hang of the breast for short periods though, so hopefully eventually we'll get there.

We are loving being mothers, and loving our daughter more than we ever thought possible. And on that note, it's time for our bath, so I'd better go.
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Gearing up [Sep. 28th, 2007|07:10 am]
[Current Mood |refreshedready]

Well, we're now well into the 'full term' time, just about to hit 38 weeks, and my body is getting ready to birth this baby. I've been contracting on and off for the last week, occasionally getting to the point of having them every ten minutes or so for a while, but they always seem to ease off again eventually. The last few nights I've been woken in the night by them, as they're sometimes getting a bit painful. From around 2-6am this morning I could only doze a little between them, as there was no way I was sleeping through them once they hit. I gave up trying at 6, and got up, finally put together the base for the moses basket and got on with the last of the baby laundry - the sheets and burp cloths. They're now drying out the back, and that's it. Once they're dry and away I think we're there. As ready as we're going to be.

With all this going on physically I'm beginning to doubt we'll make it to 40 weeks. Although this morning's contractions stopped once I was up and about and I've only had the odd one since, this much action in my uterus makes me think things won't stay put for that much longer. But who knows really? At least we're ready now, and we're full term, and all the signs are that I and the baby are perfectly healthy and raring to go.

I talked earlier in the pregnancy about how I struggled to feel connected to this child. Some connection has happened by default, certainly since I've felt them moving around so much. I even feel as though sometimes I get a feel for the mood that they're in by the nature of their movements, and I talk to them regularly. However, there still isn't that sense of magical bonding and one-ness that I once anticipated. I feel a lot better about this now. It's little things, like the realisation that this baby is a completely separate individual to me, with their own character, their own sense of the world, that help. We share physical space (and an oxygen supply among other things) at the moment, but we are two separate people. I know I'm going to love this person intensely, and thoroughly enjoy getting to know them and watch them grow, but I don't actually know who they are yet. Until I get to meet them, how can I? And so getting to meet them at last is something that is a very exciting proposition. I'm anticipating that will be the true moment of awe and wonder, and the best bit of that is I'll be sharing that moment with P. Unlike the pregnancy, that moment will be a completely shared and equal one, where we, all three of us, will meet in person for the first time.

Bring it on.
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36 weeks [Sep. 18th, 2007|06:37 pm]
[Current Mood |grumpygrumpy]

We've just come back from our last holiday alone together. It's been very lovely on one level - ten days in P's parent's caravan which is right by the coast in a stunning part of South West Wales. We always enjoy it down there, but I have to admit I found it a little tough going. I didn't get stuck in any of the caravan doors though, which I did fear I might.

I've definitely entered the final pull - things are hard work now. My hips have suddenly become a lot more painful in the last week or so, so whenever I need to change position in the night I have to wake for the full military style turning operation, and usually to empty my bladder as well. Walking is also harder and more painful. More than a hundred metres or so on the flat without a sit down is pushing it a bit. Add to that the fact that my stomach officially has no more room to exist, so I'm getting acid reflux constantly and am dealing with nausea and sickness a lot of the time (it's almost like morning sickness all over again) and I'm tending towards the grumpy end of the spectrum more than I'd usually like to be.

And I shouldn't be, because we're going to meet our baby - the baby that we waited so long for - very soon. That is going to be truly amazing.

We saw our midwife today. Given my various symptoms and a few other things like the change in cervical mucus I've noticed this week and the fact that the baby has now moved into the absolute optimum position for birth, our midwife believes that this baby might be coming sooner rather than later. I can't say I'd be concerned if that were the case. We're now pretty much full term anyway and according to my bump measurements the baby is something like 7lb now (around 3.2kg). If born tomorrow, the chances are it'd be fine, though our midwife has politely requested I wait until the weekend when we'll officially hit the 37 week mark. I don't have a sense that birth is that imminent anyway, but it's exciting to think that after all this time, it could literally be days away.

We're not quite ready anyway. We still need to get a bean bag, and some water-proof sheets (to protect the sofa), and a liner and a thermometer for the pool, and a changing mat, and some more muslin squares.... But other than that I think we've got everything we need. We're very nearly as ready as we're going to be.
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34 weeks and 4 days [Sep. 6th, 2007|07:10 pm]
I just thought I'd post a quick updated bump picture.

Several people, having seen either me in person or this picture this week, have changed their opinion on the gender of our child. For most of this pregnancy, people's guesses have been about 80% in favour of a girl. Now, it has dramatically swung the other way and almost everyone is suddenly nodding sagely and advising us of the boy within.

Only time will tell! And not much of it now either.
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Getting ever closer [Aug. 28th, 2007|01:03 pm]
[Current Mood |fulllarge]

We saw our midwife this morning. According to the size of my bump and the personalised growth chart that the hospital worked out for me, this baby now weighs something in the region of 5lb 9 oz. When I was born at 36 weeks, I weighed 5lb 7 oz, so if the charts are accurate, this baby has now outgrown me, in a manner of speaking at least. Our midwife was very relaxed about all this, basically stating that things look so bouncy and health in there that even if this baby was born now, at just shy of 34 weeks, it would do fine. That's good to hear, though I will be surprised if it does pop out much if anything before 40 weeks.

Next Friday we're back to the hospital for the last of our kidney scans, this time with a consultant radiologist who will also be scanning our baby after it's born to check what's going on with them then. After that, we're on holiday for a week and after that our midwife is happy to consider us at full term, or close enough to it for the exact day not to matter too much. That suddenly all feels rather close, although in reality I could still be pregnant for a good six weeks after that too. At present, it feels exciting. I've done a lot of preparation already, and really it just feel like its the practical elements, like buying waterproof sheets for the birth that still need to happen before we're 'ready', or maybe that should be 'ready enough'. I think I've given up waiting for this sense of real readiness to arrive. I have no expectation that when I first hold our baby after the birth I will feel in any way truly 'ready' for it, as amazing as I'm sure that experience will be. But I'm sure we'll cope, and that we'll make our mistakes and realise the gaping holes in our previously 'highly comprehensive' parenting preparation only once that baby is out and in our arms, as probably all new parents do.

Our midwife is a real sweetie though. She's so good at seeing us as joint parents that she keeps accidentally referring to P as the other biological parent. Today, we were discussing the neonatal screen and she was talking about genetic conditions that it can pick up, but that if P and I both had no family history of certain things then the chances would be very slim of any of them affecting our baby. She had to stop herself several times and remember to refer to the donor instead of P. It was rather amusing, in a very sweet way.
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*hic* [Aug. 17th, 2007|05:05 pm]
For the last ten minutes, our baby has had hiccups. S/he has been getting them a lot recently. It feels really funny, in a nice way.
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Update [Aug. 16th, 2007|09:53 am]
[Current Mood |tiredtired]

This pregnancy is really ticking along. Our midwife has said that, depending on other health factors she'd probably be willing to consider me full term from 36 weeks. That's just over 4 weeks away. Although I have no expectation of having this baby early the thought that it could be so soon feels strange. Exciting and terrifiying. I was born at 36 weeks after all. I know that whatever happens the next few weeks are going to fly. Even if the baby comes after 40 weeks, it's still not long to go now.

In the last week I've stopped being able to sleep well at all. The baby's movements are now dramatic enough to wake me up and my bladder has about the same capacity as an egg cup. The hip and back ache don't help either. Still, I'm managing to fit in a good five hours a night in fits and starts, and the odd nap in the afternoon, so I'm guessing I'm still getting more than I probably will once the little one arrives.

On Tuesday we had a very baby-stuff-filled day. In the morning, P's Mum came over as she'd offered to contribute towards the cost of washable nappies as her birthing gift. I met a woman a few months ago who is a rep for a nappy organisation. They stock a whole range of different brands and styles of washable nappies so with mum-in-law in tow we tripped off to the reps house to get to see, feel and ultimately decide what nappies we were going to go for. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience, and I love what we've chosen. We have different types for night and day use and the night ones are as soft and fluffy as a teddy bear. Lovely. And we believe that the choices we've made will dry quickly enough that we won't have to contemplate buying a tumble dryer after all because they fold out into flat sheets for drying which is a relief, for both financial and environmental reasons.

In the afternoon we were off to the hospital to see a cardiologist and obstetrician joint team to check that my extremely minor heart condition (that was only diagnosed last year, affects almost my whole family and that no-one has ever had any problems with) wasn't going to cause me to keel over during labour. It was a rather long-winded process as they decided they wanted to do an ECG while I was there but then couldn't find a nurse who knew how to use the machine for a while, and they wanted bloods taken as well which took another while to wait for, but ultimately I'm completely and utterly fine and there should be no problem at all. We have an emergency back-up plan now just in case but I'm sure we won't need it. I do have to go back for an ultrasound scan of my heart next week just to check that out too, but the cardiologist, although very pleasant, was clearly not remotely concerned and almost doubted my need to have turned up there in the first place.

So all is well. The baby is growing at a sensible rate and I'm within normal growth parameters too. S/he is wriggling plenty, his/her heart beat is always there loud and clear whenever anyone fancies hunting for it, s/he is mostly head down these days and is occasionally dropping into my pelvis with hilarious need-to-empty-my-bladder-NOW consequences for me, my belly is now covered with a rather pretty patterning of stretch marks and I have three weeks of work left.

In terms of other preparations we now have a car seat and base, a nappy bucket, organic cotton wool and other changing bits and pieces, this weekend a friend is dropping off the cot they're giving us, another friend is giving us their moses basket, we have a bouncy chair, a small mountain of baby clothes and a small stuffed lion toy. We've now realised we need to get a new cupboard to keep all this stuff in.

We really are having a baby.
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Joyous times [Aug. 2nd, 2007|05:18 pm]
[Current Mood |soresore]

All of a sudden, this pregnancy has become harder. It seems that the bump has expanded quite dramatically in the last week or so. It hasn't in any real sense, but its shape has changed - I'm guessing something significant has shifted internally with regards to where all my bits and pieces and this large melon of a uterus fit together. It feels a lot more prominent and heavy, and my hips and back have been hurting a lot more as a result. It is now not uncommon for me to lie down on the sofa or bed and have my hips seize, so that getting up is very difficult without assistance. Yesterday this happened whilst I was on the sofa and P was in the shower, so I did what I could to hoist myself out by pushing my knees out over the edge and then slowly rolling over onto them so I ended up in a kneeling position on the floor over the sofa.

All well and good I thought, as I creaked into an upright position and hobbled off, except during the course of the evening my left knee began to hurt. By the time we went to bed, it was getting really quite sore, and by the time I woke at 5:30 for my second night-time toilet visit, I could barely walk. A trip to A&E this morning has had me diagnosed with Prepatellar Bursitis and given that anti-inflammatory drugs are out thanks to being pregnant, all I can do is rest up and regularly apply ice. It is really quite breathtakingly painful at times, but at least it's forcing me to do the resting that my body has been hinting at me for a while that I should be doing more of. However, one day of daytime TV is already hurting my brain. I might have gone quietly mad by the time it's settled down, which will hopefully be within a few days. So far it's just been getting progressively worse though, so I'll believe that one when it happens.

So much for delivering this baby on my hands and knees. I think I might find myself thoroughly exploring alternative positions because if I'm prone to this after spending time on my knees I so do not want to be setting myself up for a first week of motherhood totally incapacitated.

Anyway, that's my whinge out the way.

Last week we had another progress scan to check on the little one's kidney's. They're still enlarged so we're back yet again for another scan in another four weeks. This time, it'll be with a consultant and will hopefully be our last visit until after the birth when a paediatrician will follow up. As lovely as it is to see our baby at regular intervals, and the way each time we see it, less and less fits on the screen at any one time, it also involves an awful lot of hanging around in waiting rooms and dealing with highly disorganised hospital administration. Here's a picture from this time. Some of the images we saw of the face were really quite clear. This wasn't the best one, but it's the only one we got a print out of.

And, on popular request, here's a more recent bump pic. It's a few weeks old, so hasn't captured the new, improved, practically-living-independently bump I now have, but it's getting there.
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The neon sign [Jul. 23rd, 2007|12:05 am]
[Current Mood |thoughtfulthoughtful]

I am sitting here, soon to go to bed, with an extremely active baby in my belly. In the last few days s/he has been moving so much more than usual, and in new ways. I was getting used to having small feet pummel my ribs on my right side, as for the last few weeks this seems to have been the position the baby has been settling in. S/he still seems to settle in it now, but in between is doing all kinds of gymnastics and dramatic gestures.

I'm now 28 weeks pregnant, a week into my third trimester. I've been thinking in the last few days about how easy it seems to be here, to be experiencing pregnancy, the growth of our child, the wonder and pleasure of it (and the increasing physical discomfort of it), how things are progressing wonderfully, yet remembering that it was only a short time ago that I was beginning to consider life without a child, after our years of not conceiving. I have seen others go through this, try, then sooner or later succeed, and then become regular passengers on the 'pregnancy and parenthood' train. I don't think anyone who has been through this process really forgets what the trying side of things was like, but it's so very, very easy to let it fade in significance once the end is actually in sight. I still identify so strongly with that person I was when we were trying, and I feel good about that person, and our partnership through that time. The tears and the anguish that we learned to deal with, and keep at bay. The strength we had to dig deep to find to enable us to keep going, but that we found. Trying to conceive was such a big part of our lives for so long, I think part of me will always be living there in some ways. Finding faith and holding on to hope are qualities that I learned the benefit of most in that time, and that I hope I will always retain.

And here I am now, with a child in my belly, a child that, even if born now, would most likely survive. There is no question now that motherhood is imminent for both of us, but the concept of being a mother, although dreamed about for so long, is so huge that I don't know how to take it in. How do I embrace it? The reality that my own identity is actually going to change very soon feels so strange. I'm reminded of where we came from and of what we went through to get here. That journey was tough, really tough a times, but I knew how to do it, how to survive it. Now I'm on the brink of something new, and huge. The word 'mother' is plastered in neon lights over the door of my future, and despite avid reading and several years of relevant work experience the prospect is simply overwhelming.

But it took us years to get here. Years in which we were challenged, we dealt with lost dreams and massive insecurities, we found new dreams and tried not to get attached to them, we worried, and we learned that faith and trust and positive thinking can make a world of difference. I know that no-one could ever be truly prepared for parenthood, but if there ever was to be a crash course in the basic skills of surviving it, maybe the rollercoaster we rode in order to get here wasn't a bad approximation of it.

What a journey this is.
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Flying [Jul. 2nd, 2007|07:55 pm]
[Current Mood |fullfull]

My, doesn't time fly when you're having fun? A whole month has passed and it feels as though we've barely blinked an eye. I'll have given birth before I know it at this rate.

And that time is beginning to feel a little closer. I am increasingly feeling huge, and just in the last week I've reached the point where I'm extremely aware that there's something rather large in my belly as I can no longer take a full breath or slouch without giving myself acid reflux - there simply isn't room for everything inside me. I'm also getting kicked and punched on a very regular basis. Yesterday the little munchkin even managed to whack me in my cervix and my ribs simultaneously, which gives a good impression of how big s/he must be. We're now officially viable, having crossed over that 24 week mark just over a week ago, and that too helps the sense that this little person is actually going to make it and be a long-term part of our lives.

We went back for another scan last week, to check on the baby's kidneys. They're still enlarged, so we've been officially diagnosed with mild hydronephrosis and will be scanned again in another four weeks, possible again after that a time or two but either way we'll be off to see a paediatrician when the baby is a few days old to check up on how things are post birth. The long term prognosis is pretty good though, as we're still only a mild case and the majority of those clear up by themselves. We've also now learned that another child that our donor fathered had the same condition, and it cleared up by itself, so we're feeling pretty relaxed about the whole thing. We'll probably take ourselves off to see a homeopath to look at less medically intensive alternatives to potential treatments before the birth so we've got option when the time comes, if we need them.

However, the scan was rather lovely, despite it being much shorted than the last one we had. Here's a pic:

The baby is looking decidedly larger and chubbier than at the last scan, which is about right. S/he also measuring slightly bigger than average for the dates which presumably means s/he is doing rather well. It doesn't necessarily bode well for my perineum come the birth, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

I also saw what, to me, was reasonably clear evidence of our baby's gender. However, we didn't ask for clarification and P didn't notice it at all, so I'm keeping quiet on that one. We wanted it to be a surprise anyway. I can't work out if I'm glad or slightly disappointed to have a definite leaning one way now. I'm quite content though, but then I still would be if my observations were incorrect, so I guess time will tell on that one.
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It's a baby! [May. 30th, 2007|07:26 pm]
[Current Mood |shockedstunned]

We had our scan, and it was amazing! We saw the brain, the chambers of the heart, the fingers and toes and arms and legs, the beautiful face... it was just lovely. We didn't ask the gender and as far as we can tell the sonographer didn't even look  - the baby was in an awkward position for pretty much everything apparently and the whole thing took longer as a result. The other thing that took longer was the fact the our baby appears to have mild renal dilation. I've just been researching this online and it doesn't seem to be a major stress point, but we will be monitored more closely from here on in. We're back for another scan in four weeks to check how its going. From what I've picked up, a good 50% of cases resolve perfectly well on their own either during pregnancy or shortly after birth, but the monitoring will keep us on top of whether that is happening or not.

Want to see some pictures?


How amazing are they? The baby has my chin, but seems to have escaped the large family forehead. I love that top picture - you can even see the shadow of a leg as well as four fingers and some ribs. The dark blob to the left of the chest cavity of the lower picture is the heart - it was beating. What a stunning journey we are on.
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Half way [May. 29th, 2007|11:16 pm]
[Current Mood |happyhappy]

Somehow, we seem to have made it to 20 week pregnant. We're half way through, according to the system that we're counting by anyway. Actually, we've only known for 16 weeks and we've another 20 to go so its not quite halfway in terms of our own experience, but hey, 20 is a nice round number and it seems to count for a lot as far as the medical world is concerned.

And we're there. Our baby would no be getting on for 11 inches tall if it could stand up straight, and my belly agrees. I'm getting regular movements now, particularly in the evenings and in bed, and I feel as though there's no room any more for the rest of me in there. I can't imagine what 40 weeks must feel like, I'm already waddling, stretch-marked and taking an age to get up off the sofa. I'm loving it though, even in the moments where I'm having a whinge about acid reflux...

Here's an up-to-date bump picture, taken today:

The 20 week bump

We booked the independent midwife, O, and we had our first main appointment with her a few days ago. All is well, and the baby's heart rate was 148 bpm - nicely in the middle of the healthy range. Tomorrow we'll be having our 20 week scan and another lot of checks on the NHS, though these will be our last as we're transferring our care over to our midwife after we've had the scan. I'm very much looking forward to seeing the baby again, although we won't be finding out the gender, despite my earlier wobbles on whether we should or not.

And things are feeling good. P and I haven't had much close time recently because of her studies, but that should ease up in a week or two, and despite that we're definitely getting more settled into the idea that we're pregnant. Over the weekend we had a big sort out and cleared out a load of our own old clothes to free up a chest of drawers for the baby's things. We've been given some lovely baby clothes. To be honest, I don't think we're going to need much more and we haven't bought a single item ourselves yet. I'm looking forward to stopping work in another three months so that I can really get to grips with sorting through all the baby stuff we've been given, find places to keep it all and, well, generally nest. I'm still no closer to being able picture this little person that is going to take over our lives so radically, but at least I'm getting into the swing of preparing for them.

The next question - what type of washable nappies to go for.
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A good beating [May. 1st, 2007|04:06 pm]
[Current Mood |tiredtired]

Earlier this afternoon I had my 16 week antenatal appointment with the community midwife. It was surprisingly brief, but all the news was good. All my blood tests results have come back bouncily healthy and my blood pressure is as perfect as it can be (120/60). Just before I left, the midwife asked if we could have a listen to the baby's heart beat. That was a silly question - I was on that couch in a matter of seconds. The student midwife got out the doppler and pressed it against my belly, warning me that it might take a minute or two to find because at this point the baby still has a bit of room to move around so could be a bit difficult to find. As it was, that lovely brisk beat was playing out to us in seconds and it fluctuated between 138 and 145 beats per minute in the time we listened to it. It did move away and then come back a few times so I can only assume that the podlet was doing some in-utero gymnastics in between readings.

It was beautiful to hear, but I was also saddened that P wasn't there to hear it too. These midwife appointments only run on Tuesday afternoons, a time that P is usually unable to get away from her work/studies. I'm considering buying a hand-held amplifier - not a doppler - but one of those gadgets that simply amplifies the sounds from inside the belly - or whatever other part of the body you press it against. I'm guessing my clients might like to borrow it sometimes too, so I should be able to claim it as a work expense. It'd be so good for P to get to hear those affirming sounds too.

Tonight, the local independent midwife that we're probably going to take on is coming over. I've worked with her a little before, but as it happens, we attended a client in labour together just last week and I really enjoyed working so closely with her. I have a lot of respect for the way that she works and I trust her judgement, and the fact that the NHS can offer me no real continuity of care throughout this pregnancy and birth I strongly suspect she'll be hired before the night is out. P hasn't met her yet, she's just heard me enthuse about her. Tonight is their first meeting and hopefully that will be enough for P to know one way or another whether she's happy to have her with us at our birth. Fingers crossed she is.

I know that O, the independent midwife, carries a heart monitor with her too and I'm hoping I might be able to convince her to let P have a listen tonight. It would be so nice for us both to go to bed tonight with the memory of that magical sound in our ears.

And you know what, for the first time in a while I'm feeling amazingly tired this afternoon and am tempted to go and have a nap. This week is a busy one for me so I guess I should make the most of the opportunity while I have it.
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Baby-related acquisitions [Apr. 20th, 2007|06:36 pm]
[Current Mood |busybusy]

We are now almost fifteen weeks pregnant. I had a moment today when I thought ahead to a family gathering we're going to tomorrow and I realised I might find myself at the receiving end of a tiny bit of special attention and it felt completely and utterly wrong. It's that whole 'fake' thing coming in again. like I still don't quite believe what's happened, and happening and that I'm worthy of it. Perhaps I need to accept that I'm going to have moments of that for quite a while.
The bump appears to be shrinking, well, not really, but it hasn't grown noticeably for a few weeks. I've been taking weekly belly shots and the 14 week ones look identical to the 12 week ones. This is probably a good thing. Continued growth at the rate I experience between 10 and 12 weeks would have had me too large to fit through doors within weeks, let alone by the 9 month mark.

We are beginning to get our heads around some of the practicalities of having this baby though. I'm halfway through crocheting it it's first poncho, although as yet that's the only baby-related thing we have in the house. At the family gathering tomorrow I have a feeling we might have a few bags of hand-me-down baby stuff awaiting us so this is probably about to change. We've also spoken to  family lawyer about all the bits and pieces we need to get sorted to be as legally secure in our family as we can be. We're going to be meeting her for the first time in a few weeks to get our wills completed and do as much of the preparatory paperwork for P's parental order as we can before the birth. That way we can submit it as soon as the baby is born and we can rest assured that at least she has equal parenting rights, even if she's not a full parent in terms of inheritance and a few other things until the adoption goes through. The adoption stuff we're going to have to wait a while for, as we can't get that approved until we've been living together as a family for six months - so basically once the baby is six months old. Our lawyer has told us not to prep for this yet as the law might change again before then - its been playing catch up for a while since civil partnerships came in and is changing quite frequently.

Seeing a lawyer is expensive. I'd always thought it would be but it really is. Mind you, if we'd ended up having to have even one round of IVF we'd have paid out several times as much as we're going to have to pay for this legal support so it's not that bad in the greater scheme of things. Thanks to our very generous and committed donor we've managed to create our family with significantly less financial outlay than many in our position have, and for that we're very grateful.

There are other financial costs we're having to consider, quite apart from having to acquire baby-related stuff like a car seat and a stash of washable nappies. Our fridge and freezer are both rather small and in anticipation of wanting to get lots of quick and easy meals in storage for soon after the birth and then for storing expressed breast milk and later, home-made squishy meals for the baby we're going to have to upgrade. We're also strongly toying with the idea of getting a tumble drier. The environmental impact isn't great, but we're going to have our baby just as we go into winter and we don't have many places we can dry clothes (or nappies) in our little house. We just about manage ourselves but everyone talks about the amazing amount of laundry a little person can generate and we don't think we'd be able to cope all the time.

Plus we want to get all the left over bits of work that need to be done on the house finished so we can sit back for a while (and possibly also sell up and me somewhere more rural before too long) so we need to get the front of the house re-rendered, and the building work in the conservatory finished, and the garden drastically tidied up.

And then of course we do actually need to make sure we've got everything we need for the baby too. This is going to be a busy year.

But oh, so worth it. :)
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Going public [Apr. 11th, 2007|06:35 pm]
[Current Mood |thoughtfulthoughtful]

Somehow we've made it to thirteen weeks pregnant. More in fact. We're half way to fourteen. This baby really does seem to be planning on sticking around, and all the signs are that it's a healthy little thing too. It's amazing how much the world can change in just a few weeks. I've got lots of half-formed philosophical thoughts about it all in my head but I've also been really busy in the last week or so so they're no closer to being fully formed and ready for public scrutiny yet.

However, on a practical level we have now told pretty much all the essential people in our lives. Our families on both sides and most of our friends have had the pleasure of being faced with a grainy ultrasound photo and our accompanying grins. So far, every one of them has been wonderfully excited on our behalf, which has been very lovely for us. We now have more offers of hand-me-down baby clothes than this baby could ever possibly wear and a few bags of maternity clothes are now waiting in attics with my name on them - and they can't come too soon. My regular jeans are now officially retired for the year and the bump is steadily growing. It's a strange feeling. I've fantasised about getting to experience this for so long that I was functioning under the illusion that I'd know what to expect. Although I had anticipated growing a bump, and expanding breasts, I hadn't anticipated the associated slightly unpleasant sensation of skin stretching tighter than it ever has before, or how much a bra that fitted perfectly well just a few weeks ago can cut into tender breast tissue once yet another cup size is surpassed. These all factor into those philosophical musings that are still gestating themselves.

There is one small thing that I'm a little reluctant to even mention for fear of jinxing it but both the last two nights as I've lain down in bed I've thought to this baby and think I've felt the tiniest flutterings of movement. If I have, it's early for me to be feeling them. Even second time mums who know what they're sensing tend to only begin to feel movement at 14 weeks or so. But I think I have, and I'm looking forward to bed tonight so that I can see if I feel it once more.
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Getting upgraded [Mar. 30th, 2007|01:35 pm]
[Current Mood |optimisticoptimistic]

This morning we went to have our dating scan. These are usually done between 12 and 13 weeks but we were given a date at 11 weeks on the nose and in the end decided that changing it wasn't worth the hassle, so along we went.

It was in a local children and family centre that we'd never even heard of until we got our appointment through. It was built last year and has been open about three months. It's fantastic! The local midwifery team is based there, and there are play groups, and 'bumps and beyond' sessions, and all kinds of additional support for families on low incomes. Plus its brand spanking new! Everything is shiny, there was free internet access in the waiting room and free tea and coffee, and friendly faces everywhere. I asked about getting involved professionally, maybe running some classes there and they practically jumped on me, so I'll be ringing up their outreach person shortly to arrange a meeting... but I digress. Professionally it was a great place, but personally it was too, and the midwife we saw today was wonderful. If the whole team was like her I'd be extremely happy.

We didn't have to wait long before being called up and introduced to the lovely midwife and her trainee. The trainee was to be doing the scan whilst being observed by the midwife but she's clearly been doing it for a while as she was straight in there, and there was our bean, waving at us on the screen. S/he was moving around, kicking her/his little legs, waving and rolling over. Her/his heart was pumping soundly away and s/he's been on something of a growth spurt in the last couple of weeks as s/he is now measuring a full five days ahead of what we know s/he is at. This morning I woke up 11 weeks pregnant. According to the scan - and this was the official dating scan so is the date they're going to use on my medical records - today I'm 11 weeks and 5 days. I'm a little uncomfortable about the date changing, as if I go over 40 weeks it'll mean they'll think I'm nearly a week more overdue than I am and it might get to be more of a battle to keep the birth non-medicalised, but that issue is a long way off and, well, it's quite nice to have suddenly jumped five days. It means I'm twelve weeks pregnant in two days. In a week I'll enter the second trimester. Wow.

That is quite a scary thought now I come to say it. We really are going to have to start thinking about the arrival of this baby before long. I don't know if I'm ready for that yet. Maybe I'll just sit and admire my little bump for a bit longer...

Actually, I think the whole thing is going to feel pretty different very soon. We've got visits planned with family and friends over the next week or two and we're planning to tell everyone then. Once everyone knows I think its going to be a lot harder to remain in denial. Partly because I strongly suspect my sister is probably going to be right out there buying tiny t-shirts with silly slogans on them, and once we've got a few items of baby stuff in the house it's surely going to start sinking in. We can hope so at least.

Regardless of any of that though, today we saw our baby again, and now s/he really does look like a baby, especially when wiggling around. We got some lovely images on the screen or our baby's face in profile - that was the only moment this time where I nearly cried. Seeing a face makes them feel much more of a person. And not just any person - that face is going to be one of the most beautiful faces in the world to me, attached to one of the most beautiful people - our child. I guess that parental bias is kicking in already.

Here's a pic:

 11 weeks and 5 days

The two whiter blobs near the head are her/his little fists, and you can see the nearer arm running down from the hand. Both legs were curled under in this picture - you can see them but they're not stretched out. Baby has them in a kind of crossed legs position. If you look closely, you can make out an oval blob in the chest area. This is the heart, and on the screen we could see it beating away. We also saw the umbilical cord pulsing in time to the heart beat which was absolutely amazing. We didn't get a take-away picture of the face in profile - not without a hand in the way anyway, so that little image will just have to be filed away in the photo album in my memory.

So that's it. We appear to have come through the scary, risky part of this pregnancy. It was quite horrendously stressful at first, but as I commented to P last night, now I feel less ill and less stressed, I actually seem to forget I'm pregnant for good chunks of time. I'm sure that will get harder as my bump increases in size, but now we really can start to look forward to that happening, to expect things to continue. And, when we're ready, to start to anticipate the arrival of a child in our lives. Parenthood - here we come!

I still don't think I quite believe it.
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