The baby arrived….

…quite a time ago actually! She was 7 weeks on Saturday and every week I’ve thought ‘I must update my blog’ and have never managed it. After wanting a baby for so long, and having been surrounded by EVERYONE I KNOW having a baby I pretty much knew what to expect – the tiredness, the wonder, the crying, the fantasticness, the tiredness – but what I was not prepared for is how there is not a single minute in the day. Seriously, the days whizz by in a blur of feeding, changing, burping, playing, trying to rest, trying to put a wash on, feeding, changing etc. Add to this that somehow I’ve managed to plan a hen-do for 16 girls to go away for the weekend in this time it hasn’t left a second to update you all.

So, here you go – the birth story!

I started getting pains on Thursday 31 May and very slowly progressed with contractions coming and going over a couple of days – they would mainly come when I laid down to sleep and go when I got up! So between Thursday morning and Saturday I got about 3 hours sleep. In total. By about 2am on Saturday they had been getting stronger and closer together and I decided to go to the midwife led centre as I was pretty sure I was in established labour. We drove the half hour journey to the hospital, my sister met us there as she was also my birth partner and the midwife examined me. I was 2cm. 2. I cried. I felt like a total idiot for thinking I was further along and pretty scared about how much more painful this was going to get since I was in a lot of pain, already exhausted and only 3cms. They gave me some codeine and sent me home where I managed to get another hour or so sleep as the contractions had slowed again. 

When I woke up they were getting stronger and stronger and at 4pm my waters broke after the day of trying to get comfy and rest between contractions (and failing at both). When we’d been at our NCT classes the teacher had said that some people only get a trickle rather than a big ‘sploosh’ and since then DH had been saying he wanted to see a ‘sploosh’! He wanted the drama! So when they did break I just stood in my living room saying “sploosh, sploosh”!! And sploosh they did – thank god we have wooden floors!

Just after she was born

Just after she was born

Luckily they did sploosh as we noticed they were green tinged and so when we phoned the hospital they told us to go to the delivery ward, rather than the midwife led unit. We arrived at 5pm, was examined and I was 4cm and they confirmed I had meconium in my waters. I couldn’t believe I was still only 4cms…how?? I was in so much pain and I’d been going for so long. I asked right then for an epidural as I was convinced I still had hours and hours to go if it had taken so long to get to 4cm.

The anaesthetist was in an emergency C-section but I was told he’d come once finished and had the gas and air whilst waiting. By 6.30pm I was 6cm dilated and by 8pm I felt the intense urge to push. The midwife didn’t think I should be trying to push, examined me and then changed her mind! I was fully dilated and had beaten the anaesthetist! I think the idea that an epidural was coming got me through the pain and enabled me to do it on the gas and air.

Sophia was born 40 minutes later at 8.42pm on Saturday 2nd May (same day as the Princess, although our princess is better, obvs), 7lb 2oz of perfect. It was such an intense and amazing experience. The pushing was seriously exhausting and I did tear but by that point I really didn’t care!

Daddy cuddles

Daddy cuddles

Since she arrived our lives have been turned upside down in the best way. Its exhausting and often tough but so very amazing. Especially since she started smiling a few weeks ago – that makes the sleep depravation a lot easier to take!

It was worth it. The years of struggle, the tears, the injections and tests and dildocams. The failed IVF rounds (although it was a ‘natural’ pregnancy in the end), the month after month after month of negative pregnancy tests. It was all worth it to have her in my arms.

Her first smile

Her first smile

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Livin on a Prayer

“Woahhhhhhh we’re half way there, WAAAAOOOHHHHHHH HOOOO livin on a prayer!”

This is my way of saying, I’ve hit 20 weeks! Half way. Would you Adam and Eve it?*

I’m actually in a state of disbelief that I’ve got this far. 20 weeks. I’m now officially out of the danger zone and into the ‘holy crap I’m pregnant’ zone. Last Saturday DH and I went for a private scan just to check out how the little monkey was getting on.

Wow. There has been an awful lot of growing going on. The private clinic (I say ‘clinic’ it was actually a weird little room with an ultrasound machine in it, but it did the job) used a 4D scanner so we were able to see the baby actually moving around. The last time we saw a 4D scan was at 11 weeks, just before the wedding and frankly it looked like a Nik Nak. But this time…..there’s an actual baby in there! He/she was wriggling around so much, constantly moving and rubbing its eyes, sucking its fingers. It was just incredible. I wish I could have one of those machines at home, I’d be watching all day. After about 10 minutes or so of us ohhing and ahhing monkey had obviously had enough of putting on a show, turned round and showed us its bum and wouldn’t turn back again. Ha! We get the message!

“Take my hand, we’ll make it I swear, WAAAAOOOHHHHHHH HOOOO livin on a prayer!”

Well this week, we feel less like we’re ‘livin on a prayer’ and a lot more like we’re going to make it. The scan has made us feel so much more confident in the pregnancy, and to add to that I’m now feeling movement every day which is such a reassurance.

We’ve started planning things. We’ve talked about names, and not even in a whisper but right out loud.

We’re going to have a baby.

This hit me yesterday when stood in my kitchen and I sobbed happy, happy tears. The whole time I’ve been pregnant I haven’t let myself go and properly cried or been overly happy about it because I’ve always been waiting for it to end. Enough now. It’s time to enjoy this.

 

* Sorry, not sure what’s wrong with me I’m a bit hyper today but really no excuse for going all mockney on you, on top of a Bon Jovi reference. For my non-British readers ‘mockney’ is the use of cockney phrases/accent when you’re really not a cockney. Whilst I do have a saaaaaafff (south!) east London accent, I’m definitely not a cockney!

The Danger Zone

Somehow, I’m now 15 and a half weeks pregnant. This has gone both ridiculously quickly and torturously slowly. Sunday started my 15th week with scary dull stabby pains in my left ovary area, accompanied by even scarier very sharp shooting pains down into my ..a-hem…well, clitoris/urethra (a sensation DH has since named ‘lightening cooch’).

This was understandably scary but after lots of googling/tweeting I’d tried to calm myself into realising that there’s  a lot of growing going on in there, and some of its bound to hurt a bit. The ovary pain had stopped by Monday but I still had ‘lightening cooch’ and thought it might be a urinary infection so went to the GP on Tuesday morning. The GP dipped a stick in my wee (I could fill a bath with sticks that have been dipped in my wee…although probably wouldn’t use my bath) and said I didn’t have a urinary infection as far as he could see but he’d send it off for culture. When I pressed him a bit on what exactly was causing lightening cooch then he was vague, made me lie down and pressed my tummy, said ‘hmmm’ a lot and gave me no answer.

So feeling slightly panicky, I drove home….hitting a parked car on the way. Awesome. It wasn’t exactly a ‘car crash’ as I was going about 5 miles an hour but I still managed to crunch their bumper and cause a general faff that these things cause. Ugh.

I got home and attempted to find a midwife to talk to. I haven’t yet had my first midwife appointment (its next week) so I called the hospital where I had my ‘booking in’ appointment. The receptionist told me that if I was really worried I should go to A&E as I was ‘too pregnant’ to go to the EPU. Helpful. With a rather wobbly voice I told her I actually just wanted to speak to someone. She gave me a number for a midwife assessment line. Perfect you might think. I called them and they said they only treat people who are over 20 weeks, but told me everything was ‘probably ok’.

Brilliant. So basically if you’re between 12 and 20 weeks you’re on your own – it’s A&E or nothing. And I didn’t think I was having a miscarriage right at that time, I was pretty sure it wasn’t the time to go and sit in A&E for 5 hours to have a Dr that knows very little about antenatal medicine prod me. But…I just wanted someone to say “ohhh lightening cooch, yes pregnant women get this all the time” or “hmmmm lightening cooch, never heard of that, could be worrying you should definitely go to A&E now”.

But they didn’t. So I sat on my sofa and sobbed. Then I called my mum and sobbed. By the time DH called me to see how it went at the Drs I was pretty much hysterical. He left work and came home. Bless him, I’m such a crazy person. Although, in my defence he worries probably more than me, so think him leaving work was as much due to his hysteria as mine.

Now you might think that this is all rather an over reaction to a few cramps and some shooting pains, and I should just stop bloody moaning because, I’m pregnant so what else really matters? And you’d probably be right. But right now I consider myself to be in ‘The Danger Zone’.* For most people, once they get past the 12 week mark they can relax. They’re obviously still nervous but the grip of fear and constant knicker-watch has lessened.

For me, hitting 15 weeks has ramped up my paranoia. Of course I was worried before, and hitting my second trimester was certainly a great feeling. But up until then I had, apart from the odd wobble, been relatively calm. But now I’m in the danger zone – my sister lost 5 babies between 16 and 20 weeks. At the time I was absolutely devastated for her, but now being 15 weeks pregnant I have so much more a realisation of just how horrific this would have been for her than my care-free early 20’s self did. And I’m so incredibly scared it will happen to me.

That’s not to say that I’m not still happy and excited and ever so slowly starting to think about this actually working out. I’ve even noticed DH and I starting to say ‘when’ rather than ‘if’. It’s just any sign of something slightly amiss sets off the dark thoughts and blind panic.

I’m hoping very much that my sister and I just have very different types of fertility issues – she could literally pick the right day of the month to have sex on and she would get pregnant, every time. Since it’s taken me 3.5 years, 4 rounds of IVF and a miracle conception to get this far, it’s got to be ok now….doesn’t it?

 

* Weeeelll-coooooomme tooooo the danger zone  …have been singing this all day. Now you are. You’re welcome. If you’re not, you’re too young to be reading my blog.Tom+Cruise+Top+Gun

Fairy tale wedding

I am ridiculously delighted to say that our ‘reassurance scan’ a few days before the wedding went perfectly, as did the wedding.  We really couldn’t have asked for a better day, it was just perfect.

I woke up on the morning of our wedding at the hotel with my bridesmaids to the sound of rain. Serious, serious rain. It continued to absolutely chuck it down all morning. Now, we booked a wedding in October so I wasn’t exactly counting on an outdoor ceremony but we were, in our heart of hearts, hoping that it might be nice enough to have drinks on the terrace overlooking a beautiful valley after the ceremony. It would have been fine if we couldn’t do that, but….its what I had pictured.

But the rain continued as my hair and make up was done, and as I stuffed myself with hot cross buns to ward off the nausea (must be the best fed bride ever!) Then just as I was ready to put on my dress, the rain stopped, the clouds cleared and sun started shining!! I arrived at the ceremony venue in beautiful sunshine and had some photos outside before going in.

The ceremony was beautiful, just so full of joy and emotion. The only sadness was that my step-dad was unfortunately unable to come as he was in hospital. I was so upset he couldn’t be there as he has been so wonderful to us all over the years, but it was much more important that he was getting better (and glad to say he’s now out of hospital and on the mend).2011_05 View from Rolley Terrace

By some miracle the sun was still shining afterwards so we all headed out to the terrace to enjoy the beautiful view over the forest. Once everyone had a glass of bubbly in hand we gathered them all together, DH and I stood on the steps of the beautiful old Georgian house we got married in and told our family and friends that there would be another addition to the family arriving in April. It was the most special moment….looking out at all the people we love and watching their faces turn from disbelief to joy. There were shrieks, there were whoops, there were a lot of tears! One of DH’s best men (he had three…don’t ask!) absolutely lost his shit! This guy is normally such an unemotional man, I’ve known him since I was 12 and I’ve never seen him so much as well up but he had tears streaming down his face. I will remember that moment for the rest of my life. It was absolutely perfect. The only downside was getting stubble rash from hugging so many people so much ….too many men have beards these days!!

The day carried on like a dream, everything just worked. For once in our lives, everything just worked. We had the pictures taken outside and finished just as it started to rain. We then moved onto the reception venue which looked so beautiful, just what I had pictured.

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One of the guest tables

The speeches lead to another round of tears from everyone – it was a seriously emotional wedding – and ended in the best men getting all the guests to join in a singalong to ‘Love lift us up to where we belong’. Now, I’m not normally one for forced public singing, and when it started my first thought was “lordy what the hell is this cringe inducing nonsense” but….it was brilliant. Everyone got into the spirit of it and it was really cheesy but in a good way.

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Our top table

The evening went by in a blur of dancing and laughing and chatting. I was very proud of myself to last on the dance floor until 11.30 but was pretty exhausted by the end of it.

After the wedding we went away for a few days to Bath which was lovely, we ate (a lot), walked around, went to a spa and generally spoilt ourselves. The day after we got home we had the ‘booking in’ midwife appointment and the official 12 week NHS scan where we saw the little bub’s mouth moving.

 

 

It truly was a fairy tale. From start to finish and I’m still pinching myself. I still can’t quite believe that I’ll get my happy ever after but I’m trying very hard to believe.

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The Family Picnic

Last weekend was ‘The family picnic’. Many years ago, my grandfather and his brothers and sisters (and their kids) all met in a park in Enfield, North London near to where they lived at the time and had a big picnic to celebrate my great-grandmother’s 60th Birthday. They decided that this was a pretty nice thing to do as they all got to see their cousins and second cousins and third cousins and the only other time they did this was at funerals.

The family picnic

The family picnic 2014

And so a family tradition was born, and ever since then on the last Sunday of July, without anyone needing to check, come rain or shine, we all make the trip to Enfield and meet under the same tree for a picnic. I think only one of the families still live in Enfield, the rest come from far and wide – Kent (my family), Norfolk, Brighton, the Isle of Wight, France and even Australia. It’s a really lovely thing but also kind of weird. It’s really nice to see my cousins and aunts and uncles, but also all my mum’s cousins are there which is kind of weird as we only ever see them at The Picnic so we have awkward “I only see you once I year and I’m not totally sure if you’re Janice or Susan” kind of conversations. It’s the sort of thing you groan at when you realise next weekend is  The Picnic, but also secretly love.

I didn’t go last year – it was a month after my first failed IVF round and I just didn’t have it in me. This year I was determined to go, especially as some of my cousins that I hadn’t seen for ages would be there.

So I went, I chatted awkwardly, I ate sandwiches and had an icecream. I watched all the relatives of my age group play with their children, tell their children off for not sharing or sulking at having to be at the picnic, pick them up when they fell over, share an icecream with them. And guess what? It fucking hurt. To see my family with their own little families. To see them pass on the tradition to their kids and the thought that I’ll probably never have anyone to pass this onto.

For the last few months I’ve thrown myself into the ‘summer of fun’. I’ve tried my hardest to enjoy life and to let go of all the hurt and pain. But it’s impossible. There is a huge burning hole inside me and no amount of cocktails will fill it. People tell me to put it out my mind and to focus on the wedding, and I’m trying I really am. And don’t get me wrong, I have had some really fun times recently. But you can’t think about a wedding 24 hours a day – the fear and the pain creep back in no matter what distractions you organise. And even when I’m not directly thinking about it all, I can feel it. It’s physical. This gnawing hole deep inside – the same place where a baby should be.

Summer of fun

I was going to start by saying I’ve been a bad blogger as haven’t blogged for ages and what’s the point of having a blog if you never write anything….but then Barren Betty got there first and said all that earlier this week. Yeah, thanks for stealing my thunder BB.

Sooo anyway…where have I been? I’ve been bloody busy doing a million things that’s where! Organising bits and pieces for the wedding, booking a honeymoon (Sri Lanka- eeek!) and, well, getting drunk a fair bit too.

Last time I left you on a cliff-hanger (well, more like on the side of a low ledge) as I had my WTF appointment the next day. And as predicted it was more of “we don’t know why it didn’t work, you should try again, it should work at some point!” Well ‘should’ is all well and good but so far it just doesn’t and it’s all getting rather expensive, not to mention fucking heartbreakingly awful. Basically, we’ve tried every trick they have, so we should just repeat…but honestly, after 4 failures how can it work? Surely it’s just that they don’t know what the problem is, not that there’s not a problem?

DH and I have decided to give the whole IVF gig a rest for the year. We’re getting married in October and going on honeymoon over Christmas so we’re just going to ‘forget about it’ (yeah, right) for the rest of the year and see where we are and how we feel in the New Year.

Instead we’re going to have a ‘summer of fun’. We’re going to drink, we’re going to eat, we’re going to visit loads of places we say we’re going to but never do. We’re going to get our lives back again. And I have to say I’m rather excited about it.

And yes, I still get miserable, and yes I have days where the pain just stabs me in the heart and the god-awful realisation that this really, really might never happen kicks me in the tits, but I’m determined to enjoy this year.

So far we’ve been doing pretty well – we’ve been for a walk along Regents canal….

Little Venice

Little Venice

Although IF is still never far from our minds – this was DH’s wish on a ‘before I die’ chalk board by the canal:

before I die

We walked up to the top of Primrose Hill before going for a lovely Greek dinner at Lemonia (where John Torode from Masterchef was having lunch too!)

Primrose Hill

Primrose Hill

 

There have also been rather a lot of cocktails…..some up high….

View from the Shard

View from the Shard loos!

And some in posh hotels with lovely Twitter girls…

cocktails

And this is pretty much my plan for the summer…drinking cocktails and having fun (and definitely not being heartbroken and empty)! Fuck you IF. Fuck you.

I get knocked down…

…but I get up again. Isn’t that how the shit 90s song goes? Except I’m not really sure how to get up again.

This week is definitely up there in the list of worst weeks of my life. After my friend’s pregnancy announcement burst my denial bubble last Sunday I worked at home on Monday, feeling fragile and tearful but making it through the day.

On Tuesday I went to work and had a very stressful meeting in the morning, the outcome of which was basically that out of a team of 6 people I was the only one left to do any work on a very big and difficult project (one of the reasons being my Director is going to Bali for 3 weeks – alright for some!) I then realised I had forgotten to do things on 2 of my other projects and then had one of the women I manage (who is overly dramatic and anxious) haranguing me about what I was going to do about a problem on her project which is essentially unfixable.

And I snapped. It was just too much for me and I felt so overwhelmed, all this stuff was going on at work and all I could think was ‘I’m never going to be a mother. I’m never going to have children. Work will be the only thing in my life and I hate it.’ I went to the toilets and sobbed. This is not an unusual occurrence but normally I go in, have a little cry, if anyone comes into the loos I stop or cry quietly until they leave, then dry my eyes and get on with my day.

This time I just couldn’t stop. People came in and out and I continued with huge gasping sobs. My work friend came in and asked if I wanted to go and get a coffee and chat but I sent her away – there was no way I could think about leaving that cubicle. It was so scary, I don’t think I’ve ever felt that out of control of my emotions – such a huge wave of grief that pushed me down and wouldn’t let me up again. After about 10 minutes or so my boss came in, by which time I was a little calmer. She took me away for a chat where I told her I just wasn’t coping and felt so overwhelmed. She told me to go home and work at home the next day and she’d have a think about what she could do to help. I then had to walk through the office with a tear stained face and collect my things – of course there had been an all-staff meeting that day so everyone from my company was there. Awesome.

As I waited at the bus stop on the way home I was on Twitter on my phone when I saw an email pop up from my friend that had a miscarriage shortly after our spa trip entitled ‘Our exciting news’…..well, we can guess what that was about! Of course I’m happy that after having a miscarriage she has now got to 3 months with her pregnancy (meaning she must have got pregnant again the month after her miscarriage) but when I saw that email, after the day I’d had it just tipped me over the edge again. I sat on the bus with tears rolling down my face, as if I hadn’t humiliated myself enough that day. I managed to stop crying by the time I got on the train but felt like I was going to hyperventilate. What a fucking day.

On Wednesday I spoke to my boss who said that I should go off sick for the rest of the week….but there was an all day meeting on Friday for the big and difficult project and if I didn’t go to it it would have made my work over the next few weeks almost impossible so I said I’d go to that. She then said that she’d spoken to my 2 Directors and they all agreed my workload should be cut in half for the next few months until I feel more able to cope. I just can’t express how bloody awesome my work is…it definitely helps to work for psychiatrists/psychologists at times like these!

Thursday night I realised that the meeting on Friday was being held at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists! Cue another meltdown! I felt really anxious Friday morning before going into the building but it wasn’t too bad, I just made sure I didn’t look at any of the artwork.

The weekend has mostly been better – Friday night I drank wine with friends in the sun in Regents Park which was lovely and chilled, and then yesterday I went shopping with my Bridesmaids for their dresses, which went very well so that’s another thing ticked off the wedding list.

But today is, of course Father’s Day. I hate that I’m stopping DH be a father. I went to my mum’s for lunch and my brother and SIL were talking about filling in a ‘baby’s first book’ for their daughter and everyone was talking about the different things their kids did and the stories/memories they tell their kids which made me lose it again. I took myself off to my old bedroom and sobbed. I just can’t get the thoughts that I will never be a mother out of my head. I will never fill in a ‘baby’s first book’. I can’t think of other options: donors, surrogates, adoption. I can only think that.

Have my WTF appointment tomorrow so we’ll see what they have to say…more shoulder shrugging I’m sure.