Sunday, December 11, 2011

Big Kid

Feeling a bit silly about the last bit of my last post!

Thank you so much for the nice comments. I started my blog as a place to download about the pain of pregnancy loss and subfertility and it really shouldn't matter to me whether anyone reads or comments. I should be more mature than that. I think that, after coming across this amazing community of women (and some men), I have seen such an incredible amount of wisdom, courage, determination - and wit in the face of adversity - it DOES matter to me to feel part of that. I am, as my title says, still a big kid!

But, I also need to join in more, blog more and comment more. I've added the Creme de la Creme icon to my blog because, for the first time, I've submitted an entry!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Another Thing to Add . . .

. . . to the list of things I thought I might never do be doing but am: organising a 1st birthday party!

December 4th is "the other due date" - the only other due date we had, apart from the one that led to our son. The one that led to such sadness that I went out of my way to avoid finding out any others for subsequent pregnancies. It's going to be very different this year. At the end of every 4th December, I always found myself imagining what I might have been doing had that pregnancy worked and getting tearful about the parties we should have had and didn't. Barring disaster (see, I still can't let go of the superstition and the fear that I might lose the wonderful gift I've been given), there's going to be a birthday party soon.

I've a post going round in my head about my feelings about the fact that there will almost certainly not be a sibling for my wee boy and the importance of gratitude, but there never seems to be time to write it. I didn't want to drop off the planet altogether, so this is a kind of place-holder for that. Mind you, as there have been no comments at all on the last post, maybe I'm sending this into nothingness - I never had much in the way of a readership before and now I'm effectively a "mommy blogger", I suppose it's not a big surprise but it did make me feel a little sad.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Oh My Ears and Whiskers!

I feel like the White Rabbit at the moment - always rushing about and in a state of permanent lateness. I thought I knew what we were in for, being parents - I'd seen others do it before me and I'd certainly had long enough to think about it. And actually, I DID know - intellectually. The reality is something TOTALLY different. I've asked my sister and best friend why they didn't tell me how hard it was, but they laughed and told me I'd never have believed them - and they were right! Thankfully the rewards are as good as I'd hoped, in compensation.

I am back at work - four days a week, sharing one class of 37 children on a Monday and Tuesday and sharing another class of 36 children on a Thursday and Friday. On Wednesday, I'm at home with the boy. He goes to nursery on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday and his dad has him on a Friday. We like the nursery and he still has more days with us than them, and that's as good as we can make it just now. CM is still on reduced hours and I've taken a cut to drop a day, plus we're are now in our new home which is lovely but expensive. We would end up with the same amount of money if I only worked 2 days and the boy didn't go to nursery, but then if CM's job were to be reduced further or - please no - go altogether, and I was on a 2 day contract, we would be stuffed. It's not ideal, but it's realistic.

Like I said, we're in a new home - it's already amazing and it will be fantastic one day but at the moment it's very unfinished. On top of that, my parent's flat (which is downstairs) is still unfinished and they HAVE to be in by Christmas, so CM is working flat out when he's not at his job or wrangling the boy.

Between school-work, CM's work, housework and taking care of the wee one, there is no time left. And the wee one is in a full-on sleep regression - it's like we're back in the days of colic. We take turns to eat dinner, watch TV at 3am with him on our laps, I take him in to bed with me in desperation - he sleeps and I don't, much. He has also done the traditional thing and caught every nursery bug going - in fact he's been off nursery as much as he's been there. My mum has been amazing and taken him a lot, CM's boss is a star and has allowed him to be flexible with his days a bit. I have take a day and a half of family leave and this means I only have another 2 and a half left until next August! After that, it's unpaid leave - and we can't afford that.

Unfortunately, my boss is rather less of a star than CM's and I ended up in tears on my first day back when I was told I couldn't have the following day off to look after my sick child - even though it was an in-service day and there were no children in and therefore no cover required. I was allowed to take half a day, in the end, but it left a very sour taste. For the record - I know that they can't actually stop me taking a day, but when you're just back after maternity leave, you really don't want to rock the boat. On top of the polite disagreement over when I was to come back (again, they're not allowed to dictate that, and I pointed that out) and which day I was to have off (business manager suggested a Monday, so that's what I said to the nursery, signed a contract with them and then, 2 months later was told I'd be getting a Wednesday and there was no negotiation allowed) I am unimpressed at my treatment by fellow working mothers. I was told that I was lucky to have mat leave at all - it wasn't around in their day - and, when I told them I stood to lose my nursery place altogether over the change in days, that "these are the perils of being a working mum".

Despite all this, I am happy - not all of the time, I get sad, angry, frustrated often - but the baseline is happy. I laugh more than I did and I love more than I did. My wee boy is a continual source of joy and amazement - and surprise, as I still sometimes see a toy or a bottle and think "I've got a baby!!!! How did that happen?!". He has just started crawling and is into everything. He is very investigative - fascinated by how things move and fit together. My mum reckons he'll be an engineer - as long as he's happy, he can be what he wants (remind me of that in a few years!). He still vomits fairly often, to varying degrees, and we've been referred to the paediatricians to get that checked out, but the GP says she isn't worried - it happens and it is lessening, he is putting on weight ok and appears unbothered by it. It'd just be nice not to have to change both of our clothes so often, keep spot cleaner next to the sofa and have to feed him dinner twice on occasions. We tried infant Gav.i.scon but all it did was make him constipated, poor soul.

We had a nasty scare two weeks ago when he managed to cut open the bridge of his nose! We were celebrating my mum's 70th birthday at a hotel about an hour out of town. My nephew had the wee boy on his lap, sitting calmly on a sofa, when the wee one lunged to grab a flower from a vase on the floor (he's such a nature - lover!). The vase got knocked over and broke and our poor wee boy's momentum was too much for my nephew (it's sometimes too much for us too) and he fell forward a bit, cutting his nose on a bit of broken glass. Our experience of this was hearing a crash and turning to see my nephew, looking white, holding our screaming baby, whose face was totally obscured with blood, at arms length. My heart stopped.

Luckily, my brother-in-law is a doctor, with a previous specialism in paediatrics, and my sister is an ex-midwife so they swung into action, cleaning off his face to make sure his eyes weren't affected and applying pressure to stop the bleeding - it took 40 minutes. It took the same amount of time for an ambulance to arrive. All that time, I was holding my baby while he screamed and my sister and brother-in-law took turns to press on his nose. It was horrible. When the paramedics arrived, the pressure was taken off, he stopped screaming and smiled up at the lady treating him - bless him. On the ambulance ride, he drank a full bottle of milk (to help with possible dehydration from shock and blood-loss), burbled away to himself and played with some paper towels - the paramedic was clearly more worried about me than him. We had a long evening at A&E getting him checked out and steri-stripped (they didn't want to use glue so near his eyes and he wouldn't lie still enough for stitches). We had to go back the next day, having fasted him (not fun!) in case he needed a general anaesthetic to be stitched if the steri-strips weren't holding things. Luckily, they were so we got home. We were back that evening as he spiked a fever of 39 degrees, but they gave him a thorough check-up and decided it was an unrelated virus.

All in all, a very unfunny weekend. Two weeks later it's almost completely healed. He will have a scar, but it could have been so much worse. Oh the guilt though - my poor nephew was devastated but luckily both CM and I were able to comfort him at the time and reassure him that we did NOT blame him and it was something that could have happened to any of us - and we meant it. That's not to say we don't blame ourselves - we should have been closer, we shouldn't have let anyone else hold him, we shouldn't have taken him etc etc. I have discovered that there is a serious amount of guilt that comes with parenthood. It was also an un-needed reminder of how easily things can go wrong - we know this already - the fact that he was pregnancy number 7 and yet our only child was enough proof for us. I'd just really like a quiet life with some reassurance in it now, please.

Finally, this might well come across as the infertile's idea of the ultimate nightmare post - a combination of whining and gloating about parenthood. If so, I am truly sorry. I have not forgotten where I came from. Tomorrow I am going to take down the photos on the staff bulletin board of my baby and my 2 closest work friends' babies, all born within 4 months of each other, because I discovered that a new colleague is going through IF and her latest cycle of IVF has failed. It's a tiny, tiny thing, but I remember what it meant when others took care of me in small ways. I know how I would have felt, seeing baby photos at work every day, so down they come - and my friends will understand.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


He's fine!

Bizarrely, not only did they not find a hernia in my wee boy, the four-year-old in the bed next to him who was in for the same operation also did not have a hernia. It was phantom hernia day at our local children's hospital. When the nurse told me that the surgeon hadn't found anything wrong, my guilt was enormous - we had put him through all that for no reason. However, after some thought and discussion, I realised that there was nothing else we could have done - there was a lump there that came and went quickly, a GP did say she felt something that indicated that a hernia was the reason, ing.uinal hernias don't fix themselves so what else could anyone have done - for the doctors and for us, the only sensible, safe thing to do in those circumstances is to check it out. Thankfully, the operation was being done laparoscopically, so all he had was one tiny incision at his belly button where they popped the tiny camera in. Of course, the poor soul had had gas and the equivalent of an epidural - which I wish we could have spared him - but he has recovered really well.

I couldn't believe it when I heard the surgeon tell the family next to us that their son did not have a hernia either, though. I didn't know whether to be relieved that we weren't the only ones with imaginary lumps or to be worried about the surgeon's eyesight! The other wee boy is older and had had a double ing.uinal hernia at birth (which was corrected with surgery), so his family knew exactly what to look for (unlike us novice parents). His mother was stunned - we spoke afterwards and apparently her son's "hernia" pops out quite often and gives him pain. Both of us are to keep an eye on our sons for the next 6 weeks, take a photo of the "hernia" if it pops out and go back for a follow-up appointment. I'm fairly sure we won't see ours again - we only saw it once before. One of the more junior doctors suggested that our wee one's lump might have been a hyd.rocele, which can self-correct, so maybe that's the answer. All I know, is that I'm very relieved that my wee one came through OK - but still keeping a close eye on him for post-op problems (primarily infection etc) and not feeling complacent.

Our losses and the time it has taken us to have our wee boy definitely mean that we do not take him for granted!

Monday, July 11, 2011

It Gets Worse

I thought the fear of losing my baby during pregnancy was bad, but the idea of losing him now is terrifying. CM (husband) is also fighting fears - specifically that our son will suffer some kind of brain damage during the operation and no longer be "himself".

He goes in to hospital tomorrow to have an inguinal hernia repaired. I know that it's a relatively minor operation. I know that anaesthesia is a very specialised and skilled area these days. I know that he is going to be in one of the best children's hospitals in the country. But our years of miscarriages have taught me that statistics only apply to other people, not to ourselves, and that things do go wrong even when you look like you're heading for a slam dunk.

He is turning into the most amazing little person. He is on solids now - wolfing down various gloopy purees (mango is the hands-down favourite so far). He will go to sleep in his own cot within 10-15 minutes of being put down - as long as I'm lying on the bed next to it holding his hand through the bars (this is progress from at least an hour of holding, rocking, walking, shushing and false starts as he wakes just as his head touches the sheet!). He is much happier during the day while we're out - instead of holding a screaming baby as I try to stuff a sandwich down my throat and carry on half a conversation with friends, he now sits in his buggy or a high chair and plays with his Sophie or firefly or "chats" to me and I eat with both hands and manage to have at least three quarters of a conversation. He loves playing at home - he wriggles about in his gym, occasionally rolling onto his tummy and back again, today pushing himself backwards with his feet towards a toy . He enjoys books - chewing the cloth books we have and having a story at bedtime (he likes rhyming stories best and ones with brightly coloured illustrations). He adores singing - listening to me or CM or the radio or iT.unes (and sometimes joining in himself - very funny!). He is a little TV addict - he only gets to watch a bit of CB.eebies but particularly loves some of the characters on "In the Gar.den" (he goes mad when comes on!).

In short, he is already a wee individual and one we love more than anyone or anything on this planet. Losing him or seeing him diminished would be the end of us, so if you're of the praying persuasion, say a little one for him tomorrow that our cursed odds don't extend to him.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

6 Months

Happy half-birthday, beautiful boy!
My world's a better place with you in it.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


Lots of negative stuff to write about: contradictory feelings on motherhood, thoughts that come up about donor egg issues, changes in my body, sadness that we will probably have to let our frozen embryos go, guilt that I can't give my son a sibling, barriers that exist to being a working mum (& shock at how many of those barriers are put there by other working mums), pressure to be the first to move baby into its own room or the first to wean (while still breastfeeding, of course), feelings around miscarriage and infertility that linger, etc, etc.
But look at this smile - this smile makes it all float away.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Other Side

My son is two months old today (the photo is about a month out of date now). His birthday gave us a hat-trick of birthdays on the 6th of the first three months of the year. He is the 6th of January, I am the 6th of February and my dad - who is 75 years old today - is the 6th of March. These two months have been the longest of my life, I think.

I've heard the first few weeks with a newborn described as "ecstatic", "babymoon", "precious" and other similarly delightful terms. I can only describe our first few weeks as fairly hellish. Things are still fairly chaotic, but we're reaching a point where a certain amount of sanity has returned.

I'm not sure that I can give you my birth story at all clearly, as the whole thing is a bit of a blur, but I'll try.

We (me, my husband and my sister, who trained as a midwife) went in on Monday 3rd January at 5.30pm so that I could be induced. The hospital was so understaffed that I didn't get the pess.ary put in until 1.30am on Tuesday 4th (my due date). At that point, my husband and sister went home to get some sleep. I did NOT sleep - monitoring, nervousness and noise on the ward prevented it. The necessary 24 hours passed and nothing happened, so in the early hours of Wednesday 5th January they put some gel in and did more monitoring of the baby. Baby and I both came to hate the monitoring - tight belts round my belly, left for well over an hour at a time many times over the days I was in hospital. I know it was for our own good, but in the end it made things worse. I did not sleep on either the Monday/Tuesday night or the Tuesday/Wednesday night and, as it turned out, during the monitoring on the 2nd night, the huge movement I felt in my belly was the baby moving from the perfect "his spine down my left side" to the very much less than perfect back-t0-back position.

On the morning of Wednesday 5th, the midwife on the ward decided that I had dilated enough to be moved to the labour ward and have my waters broken. When I was examined by a doctor on arrival on the labour ward though, I was told this was not the case. Instead I had another, very painful sweep and was left to wait (sister and husband were back with me at this point). As I was high-risk and going to be having an epidural, I was on a more monitored part of the maternity unit. But again, they were understaffed, so instead of having a midwife with me all the time, I had to share one with the room next door, and got through 4 midwives in the 18 hours I was on the ward. Not great! Thankfully, I had my sister - had I not, I would have been terrified.

I had some contractions, tried gas and air, felt sick and dizzy and gave up in favour of some strong painkillers. As the painkillers took effect, the contractions stopped. In the middle of the afternoon, my nice consultant was passing and decided that she was going to break my waters. After that, the contractions came back, but not as effectively as they wanted. So they put a drip in and I asked for my early epidural. Four hours later, I got it! I did FOUR HOURS of strong back labour with no pain relief at all. My sister tells me I was amazing. Apparently, whenever a contraction came, I went very quiet, closed my eyes and breathed. I only swore once during the whole birth, when I was told (three hours after I'd asked for an epidural) that there was still no anaesthetist available. I have almost no memory of this part of the day at all.

Eventually, the anaesthetist arrived and put in the epidural. That part was OK, but it only worked down one side of my body and I continued to have terrible pain on the other side. The midwife and anaesthetist did some fancy manoevering over the next hour and managed to get it most of the way through the other side too. However, just when the pain stopped, the monitors started to show that the baby's heartrate wasn't great and I was threatened with a C-section. At this point, I didn't really care how they got the baby out, I just wanted him out and safe. Before they made a decision, they tried a scalp monitor and took a blood test from the babies scalp to see if he was in distress. The scalp monitor did not work well at all, and made it look like the baby's heartrate was dropping. I was terrified by this time. Thankfully, just as they were about to whisk me off to surgery, the results of the blood test came back showing that the baby was basically OK and we had more time. They put me back on the belly monitor and things settled a bit.

During all the investigating, they found that I was 9cm dilated and, once they'd established that the baby was OK, they gave me one hour to push before taking me into surgery for a C-section. The hour did almost nothing - they'd discovered that the baby was back-to-back with me by this time - but it did get things far enough on that they started talking about forceps rather than a C-section. How I wish I'd taken the C-section now!

The nice doctor who was looking after me by this time brought me a consent sheet to sign, whereupon I read her name - she was the parent of a child in the same year that I had been teaching at school, in the classroom next to mine. On the one hand, I shall probably not be able to look her in the eye again, on the other, I think she took extra care of the baby, who emerged without a mark upon him - quite unusual for a forceps delivery. They had to turn him manually first, then pull him out with the forceps. By this time, we'd had to leave my sister behind and it was my husband and me and a lot of medics - midwife, doctor, my consultant (who happened to be passing again), anaesthetist, paediatrician and several other folk who I never identified.

My epidural was topped up and then they began. I am honestly not sure how my son's head remained attached to his body. I felt no pain, but I felt the force of the pulling and it was quite something! I have since read of people seeing their midwife or ob/gyn putting a foot up on the end of the trolley to brace themselves to pull a baby out using forceps. It doesn't surprise me! And although the baby was left unscathed, I am going to be feeling the effects for some time. I had an episi.otomy, which came unstitched and got infected and I have prol.apses front and back and possibly in the middle too - waiting to see a consultant about that next week. Childbirth is the gift that keeps on giving here!

The baby was placed briefly on my chest, looking grey and bloody and not crying, and was then whisked away to be looked at by the paediatrician. I heard him start to cry as he was taken to the next room and my husband tells me that by the time the he saw him, the paediatrician said "perfect - nothing for me to do here". His APGAR score was 9, which is one off perfect actually, but it was good enough for me. I was stitched up and the bleeding (which was quite a lot) was stopped and then I was given the baby back in recovery and I fed him. My sister was brought back at this point and we were all taken up to the postnatal ward. My son was born at 4.07am on 6th January - Thursday's child, just like I had been 41 years and 11 months before him.

The postnatal ward was not a great experience - once again, understaffing was largely to blame. My medications were late, sometimes missed and I had to chase them up myself, and when I said I was having difficulty breast.feeding, I was given formula and a syringe!!! There were also good bits - a midwife who really did care, who took time to help me express my own milk and who was very thorough in briefing me before I was released, and a girl who was in the bed opposite me who was having a similarly tough time who I became friendly with and have continued to keep in touch with. We both agree that the first three weeks of motherhood were horrendous and we both thought "what on earth have I done?" once or twice most days during that time.

Getting home wasn't much better. I was out 2 days after giving birth after 5 nights of almost no sleep at all and was slightly mad and incredibly anxious and spent the next few days not eating and almost unable to sleep altogether. One of the visiting midwives, arriving after a particularly bad night, sent round a psychiatrist and acute psychiatric nurse, worried that I might have pue.rpural psyc.hosis - anyone who knows me well enough could have told her that my behaviour was fairly typical for me after two weeks of no more that 3 hours sleep a night and none during the day! Thankfully the psychiatrist and the nurse pronounced me to be utterly normal :-). That alongside yo-yoing blood pressure, the infected episiotomy, stitches coming out, wierd heart rhythms, a return stay in hospital with retained products and, worst of all, my poor baby coughing up blood (which turned out to be from feeding from me!) led to a horrendous first few weeks. And just as things began to settle, as my swelling went down, the prolapses became obvious, meaning that walking and standing are now uncomfortable. I am awaiting an echocardiogram and a 24 hour heart monitor, after some ectopic heartbeats and a really scary turn when it felt like my heart stopped for a couple of beats, I couldn't breathe and things started to cloud over before normality returned (ECG, bloods and chest x-ray afterwards came back clear but medics thought they could hear a heart murmur). And just yesterday, we discovered that the wee one has an ingu.inal her.nia and will need surgery at some point. My anxiety about my own health, always an issue for me, is even stronger now that I am spending time on my own with my baby - what if I pass out while carrying him, or die one morning leaving him on his own till my husband gets home at night and finds . . . what?!

On top of all this: we had to get the flat cleaned and decluttered ready to put on the market and we're now up for sale and showing people round the last four days out of six; my husband's hours at work have been cut just as my maternity pay comes to an end; we are now well in to the development of the property we bought with my parents and have a huge mortgage and cannot pull out without leaving my parents homeless. We are looking down the list of life's most stressful experiences and wondering which one is coming next.

But alongside all that anxiety and stress and sleeplessness (did I mention that the baby is colicky and doesn't sleep for more than 3 hours at a time?!) there are starting to be some amazing moments. When my baby smiles at me as I pick him up first thing in the morning, when he does something new like trying to get his thumb in his mouth today, when I see my husband with his longed-for son, when my father tells me that he thinks his grandson is incredibly clever and will be walking and talking in no time - then it's all worth it - every moment of pain and stress since the birth, all the worry and discomfort during the pregnancy and even all the sadness of the losses and the childlessness of the last eight years. I love my child so much! The fact that he is not genetically mine makes no difference to me at all. I will never know what it is like to have a genetically-related child, but I can't imagine for a moment that I could love such a child any more than I love my son - it's just not possible! And the wonderful thing is that it makes no difference at all to the rest of my family either: my mum and dad are clearly as besotted with him as they are with the other two grandchildren and my sister keeps threatening to steal him and has already begged me to make sure that she is the one we "leave him to" in our wills (if anything happens to her and her husband, my husband and I are to be guardians to their kids and she wants to do the same for us).

I want to leave this post with a message for those of you who are still trying to have a baby. If you are considering donor eggs or donor embryos and are worried about bonding with any resulting baby, I hope this gives you hope (and I have three friends who have also done donor eggs who are also delighted they took that decision). And for anyone who has reached the point where they have decided to live childless (or have accepted that that is what is inevitable): before this pregnancy, I had reached the point in my journey where I had accepted that childlessness was the most likely possibility and I had pretty much made peace with that - to the extent that there is a little bit of me mourning that life I had planned, with all the travel and freedom and possibilities of doing valuable things for people who really needed help. I love my son and I am very happy to be a mum now, but I can still see that place I had come to before this and it was still a good one. I hope I always remember the pain that our fight to have a child brought, but I hope that I also remember that I had realised that our lives were still important and valuable if we had never had a child. That is still very clear in my mind - I am not one of those women who has had a child and now believes that any other path in life is irrelevant. Had I had a child easily, I think I might have been, but that time of struggling and exploring alternatives has taught me a lot.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

At Last

He's here. Our beautiful baby boy was born at 4.07am on Thursday 6th January 2011, weighing 7lbs and 14.5oz. He is, without doubt, the best thing to happen to us, ever. I will post his birth story - rather long and rollercoaster-ish - once we're home and settled. It's only been 24 hours, but all the waiting and hoping was worth it!

Sunday, January 2, 2011


I had a sweep on Friday! And now I've had a show and an upset tummy. No contractions yet and my waters are still in place, but things do seem to be moving. If I haven't got started on my own beforehand, I go in to be induced tomorrow evening at 5.30pm.

I am terrified! I am terrified of labour, of what my blood pressure will do (it's been up quite a bit this last week, even with increased medication), of having to have an emergency c-section and mostly of me and my baby not being OK at the end of all this. We have waited so long for this to happen but we have been on the wrong side of the statistics too many times for me to have faith that everything will turn out fine. If you're the praying type, say one for us please!