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PREGNANCY & ME // UPDATE: 1

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A few weeks back we had our 20 week scan and we’re ridiculously excited to say, we’re having a baby GIRL! 🖤🖤🖤

An ACTUAL baby girl! ⚡️🖤✌️

I’m almost 23 weeks pregnant now and still feeling waves of disbelief that I have a little girl growing super well inside me. But believe me when I say, we would have been happy either way. Especially considering how long it’s taken to get to this point – a healthy baby is all we wish for.

Eli has been desperate for a sibling for as long as I can remember now and he will be the BEST Big Bro, we just know it. He reckons his little sister is going to be “annoying” but we know he’s happy deep down 😂 Oh and he refused to have his photo taken with the scan of his little sister (!!!) because he was down with the pox 🙈

I always vowed that if we had a girl, I wouldn’t be into dressing her in all that pink stuff! Well, when I said that, I might have been lying because so far, all I have bought is PINK! Ha. It’s all just too cute though man!

The pictured Big Bro Tee is from the gorgeous @lennieandco; which we bought it ahead of our last pregnancy in 2017. It’s been sat in Eli’s wardrobe, waiting for a happy baby announcement since. Incidentally, the 20 week scan that we had, was originally scheduled to be Friday 15th March – which was our due date for my second pregnancy. It would have could have been a 1st birthday for that pregnancy🌈 I had to get the date changed. It just didn’t seem ‘right’.  It all feels a little bit happy sad🖤
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TRYING AGAIN, AFTER LOSS

(If this is your first time here on my blog, HELLO! I had a miscarriage in August 2017. It wasn’t ‘over’ until the ERPC in October 2017..  This is a lengthy post – as always, I am sharing our experience as a means to continue the conversation of trying again after loss).

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OK, I’ll start from the very beginning…

 

A year ago (January 2018), I stopped drinking. I started taking the recommended dose of Folic Acid and additionally, Vitamin B12.  (Just incase).  The “better” eating happened. Then when we moved to Manchester in May, I began the exercise – cycling to school and back twice a day was also helping my mood! I’d been on the pill for a few months post-miscarriage to get my periods back into a regular routine, but came off them at the start of 2018. Every single person you speak to regarding your miscarriage will tell you, “you’re most fertile after having a miscarriage… you’ll fall again quickly”. 

We decided that we weren’t going to look at fertile days, or take ‘trying’ too seriously. After my Miscarriage, I didn’t want ANY added stress or pressure. We wanted it to happen on our own terms… after all,  “you’ll be amazingly fertile after a miscarriage“.

But after our trip to Florida in June, I started to get a bit anxious about trying again and opened up my FLO app to begin tracking my periods, mood, health and everything in-between. From then on, we began trying on the most fertile days of the month.

September came and I still hadn’t fallen. Now, I understand that this really isn’t a long time, compared to other couples who try and try and try for years. But I’d fallen pregnant with my first two pregnancies within 3 months of trying. Granted, I was a lot older now – but I am only 32 still. Not exactly elderly! I lost a little weight and continued cycling and enjoying walks in the great outdoors (thanks to our new National Trust membership!). I knew fine well that out of every 100 couples trying for a baby, 80 to 90 will get pregnant within 1 year. The rest will take longer, or may need help to conceive. But at the back of my mind, the whole “shouldn’t you be mega fertile now?” voices were constantly trolling at me and  I couldn’t help but worry that something else was going on in my body, that:-

  • I had no control over (ie, my Endometriosis or something more sinister…
  • Something had ‘broken’ during my ERPC procedure that had left me with some kind of scarring…
  • Or worse, had everything actually ‘come away’ following the ERPC operation?

So, September onwards, we began tracking my ovulation and BBT (Basal Body Temperature). I bought a few packs of the ‘cheapie’ ovulation kits by One Step and the results were so interesting – see below:

 

I’d really recommend the One Step Ovulation tests (and pregnancy tests too). They’re cheap, they’re accurate,  they’re clear, they’re easy to use, they worked for us. 

 

The only problem with tracking your Ovulation is that, your day begins by thinking about your fertility… This meant, I couldn’t really escape my own pressures of falling pregnant. It was alllll I could think about.  To the extend that I began to distance myself from outside of this little bubble. You can clearly see where I began a minor social media hiatus!

I was tracking everything via the app. Every little niggle! You track so much and think about it so much, that your body eventually convinces you that you’re pregnant. (Hence the early testing in September and November).  But when you’re tracking everything, you’re reminded every month when you’re bloody period arrives that you’ve failed again this month. It’s the most heartbreaking few days – every time you go to the loo and get that little reminder that your body wasn’t up for fertilisation. To top it off, we had Eli listening to my tummy to check if a baby was in there… he’s been desperate for a sibling for as long as I can remember now.

 

 

On Thursday 15th November, I was making Eli an outfit for BBC Children in Need.  Looking back at my tracking, I’d had a few ‘off days’ . I’d had period type cramps and felt so light-headed. I wasn’t due on my period for another week but thought I could be coming on early.  Then on the evening as I was finishing sewing, I managed to stab my hand with a pair of exceptionally sharp fabric scissors. Normally, I’d be fine and get a plaster. Blood does not bother me, heck, once you’ve watched 24 Hours in A&E, you can muster pretty much all of the blood.  The DRAMATIC scenes that ensued are frankly, pure comedy. I was freaking out so much. I had to lay on the bathroom floor for fear of passing out. Never, have a I ever been like that.

The next day I went to the GP to see if I could get a Tetanus injection – just incase I was pregnant. I didn’t want to get an infection. Luckily, it turns out I was up to date. Phew.

Something still didn’t sit right with me about the way I had so ridiculously overreacted the night before. So at lunchtime, I went upstairs and did a quick One Step pregnancy test. I was 99% certain it would be negative as I’d had the cramping… it was also the very first time I’d ever done a test without James by my side.

I couldn’t believe my eyes as the second line appeared in 2 1/2 minutes. Again, I nearly passed out and laid on the sofa to compose myself. I thought I better ring James. I thought he’d go mad with me for doing the test without him…. I’d kind of played it cool on the phone. I’d convinced myself that the cheap test couldn’t POSSIBLY be correct. And 5 whole days before my period was due?!

I convinced myself it was a false positive. It HAD to be, right?

At school home-time I told Eli we needed to pop to the chemist to get something for my tummy… he immediately said “Why, is there a baby in there now?!”.  “I really hope so darling”, I responded.

I got 4 of the Superdrug own pregnancy tests – the same ones we’d bought when we fell with Eli. So I had some trust in them. I’d used a variety when I fell pregnant in 2017 and going back to the Superdrug own brand tests made me feel a bit safer, weirdly.

I waited on tenterhooks for James to get home from work – and with an evening urine sample, the results were… (see below)

 

A very faint, but very positive pregnant test!

 

The second line was so faint, I couldn’t see it and had to put the picture under all of the filters on photoshop to see it. But, as I said when I fell with Eli, you can’t be a little bit pregnant, can you!?

We told Eli our news immediately. We wanted to be open and honest with him – especially as he had seen me go through our miscarriage. We told him that we would tell all our family and friends at Christmastime as a present! (And you can’t tell anyone when its a present, can you!?) HOW Eli managed to not tell anyone before Christmas, I will never know. But that kid man, he is just a total boss.

Speaking of which, I went on Timehop and we realised that we’d done our first pregnancy test with Eli on the SAME weekend – 18th November 2011. Strange; we must have conceived this baba around the same time as we conceived Eli.

Over the next few days, POW, the pregnancy symptoms came in thick and fast.I felt so sick. I was so tired. And continued to track pregnancy tests and my symptoms – just incase.

 

 

I had every single pregnancy symptom going; and then-some.

  • My skin burst into the worst cystic acne ever. Mostly on my lower cheeks and jawline.
  • ‘Morning Sickness’ – except, it’s not just the morning, is it. It’s ALL DAY and ALL EVENING.
  • The Exhaustion – I was falling asleep after dropping Eli off at school and then again straight after tea.
  • Extreme bloating – by 7pm, I was looking mega preggo.
  • Food aversions – the smell of cooking is just the WORST. Couldn’t face meat. Couldn’t face big meals. Ended up surviving on plain boiled rice and rice cakes. Good job I was taking ALL of the pregnancy vitamins by this point.
  • Couldn’t face Tea or Coffee (still can’t do my beloved (now decaf) Coffee, even the smell is nauseating).
  • Brushing my teeth became the enemy – every single time I’d bork.
  • Sheer, unadulterated, brain fog – not being able to articulate what you want to talk about or not being able to remember why you entered a room; or even why the kettle is in the fridge is somewhat frustrating and also kinda scary.
  • Increased thirst – which is quite something for me as I’m always guzzling water as it is!
  • Extreme Overheating – I had repeated ‘hot flashes’ that made me feel so faint. Luckily, touch wood, I’ve not fainted.
  • A weird one now – an version to LEGO. ACTUAL LEGO. It wasn’t that I had a want to eat it or anything, but the sight of Lego made me so, so nauseous! I had to have Eli pack it all away and not play with it in front of me. SO WEIRD. I have no idea what caused it or why. But 5 weeks on, I’m finally becoming ok with the Lego being around again.

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By 10th December, we were being seen at the Early Pregnancy Unit in Stepping Hill Hospital for an early Scan. By my app, I was exactly 7 weeks pregnant. I felt anxious but the full-on symptoms gave me hope that we would perhaps see a pregnancy sac.

And low and behold, as soon as the scan went on, the heartbeat was found. The tears of relief rolled down my cheeks. We were so bloody happy.

 

It’s difficult to put into words how you feel when the Sonographer say’s… “and there is your baby with a strong heartbeat fleeting away”. The scan looked more like 6 weeks than 7, but we were reassured that the baby would likely catch up, or the conception date could be a little out – did you know that sperm can travel for 7 days before fertilisation?

 

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Fast forward to Christmas Day and I’m 9 weeks pregnant. I’m mainly surviving on:-

  • Orange ice lollies
  • Jamaican Ginger cake
  • Ginger beer (not ginger ale, ginger beer)
  • Raw carrots – in abundance.
  • Apples – but must be cut up
  • Bananas on rice cakes with a dash of honey
  • Plain boiled rice and soy sauce
  • Yoghurts with peach compote
  • Orange drinks – Fanta or Capri sun
  • Chewy sweets – Haribo, Randoms etc
  • I can only drive if I have original Tic Tac’s
  • McDonalds Cheeseburger
  • Pickled Beetroot
  • Chips & curry
  • Chips & gravy
  • Chips with salt & vinegar
  • Salt and vinegar crisps – (preferably, Disco’s)

We also got to finally let our parents know we were with child. Which again, was another big relief. We spent the rest of the festive period SO relaxed. Which is just what I needed. This was mostly my view:-

 

Never spent so much time in bed, in my life. We decided ‘bed rest’ was for the best. This baby is so precious and I just didn’t want to overdo it by rushing about at my normal pace, lifting loads at will – up & down the stairs with laundry or the Dyson. I had also stopped cycling for fear of falling off etc. By week 11 I was just so tired, that being in bed was definitely the only place for me to be honest!

 

Also, is there a better way to spend your pregnant-life than in pyjama’s?! These ones are still my favourite, from NEXT. They also still fit, at the minute, hurrah!

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Almost up to date now. We had our 12 dating week scan on Friday 18th January, again at our local hospital of Stepping Hill. I felt sick with nerves and worry and anxiety – what if there was nothing there like our last 12 week scan? I couldn’t speak. James and I spent the 10 minute car journey in silence, him asking if I was ok… then muttering “you’re scarily quiet… “.

As is rather usual, scans were running a little late,  which is totally reasonable given the detail they require. I forbid anyone to get frustrated with this – even with a full bladder!

We were called into the scan room and soon as the sonographer addressed us I broke down in tears. She had asked a question about my previous pregnancy and what happened at my 12 week scan. To which I blubbered through the details of my miscarriage – she looked perplexed. Then we ‘clicked’ that she was in-fact  referring to the issues that came up when we had the 12 week scan with Eli – his NT measurement was high, so we were referred to the Fetal Medicine Unit at University College London Hospital (UCLH) . Because of the sensitivity of time, the referral was organised for the very next day. The appointment at UCLH would include a detailed scan, counselling and the invasive Chronic Villus Sampling (CVS) procedure based on the results of the scan and our consent. CVS would be able to tell us if there were any genetic/chromosomal abnormalities.

Once we’d explained everything, I was asked to get myself comfortable on the bed. I couldn’t. I was on the verge of an anxiety attack, I felt like I was about to pass out. I was sobbing and shaking and sweating. I was so scared of being scanned. It seems ridiculous and all I could do was apologise. The worry I’d been bottling up the last 12 weeks had come to the surface. The constant anxiety at every niggle – the worry that my symptoms suppressing. Was I losing the baby? The constant anxiety of every, single, toilet visit – inspecting the tissue incase theres any trace of blood. Apologies if this is *too much information*, but I’m just giving an honest insight to the daily struggles.

Eventually, I came round and shakily got onto the bed. The warm gel was applied to my tummy and the Sonographer went to work. Within seconds (felt like YONKS) she showed us our babe on the screen. Firstly, I was so SHOCKED at how large the baba was. It never, ever, ever, becomes less amazing. I was sobbing again and clenching James’ hand so tightly. The relief of seeing that baby, an actual child, on the screen, is unbelievable.  Secondly, the baba was bouncing about and flailing it’s arms so much – which was brilliant to see – but made it difficult for the Sonographer to get the measurements she needed.

 

 

The Sonographer managed to get the length measurements and gave us a due date of 27th July. The EXACT due date we were given with Eli. I mean, what are the odds of that?! The dates made my pregnancy 12 weeks & 6 days. A little further along than we thought!

The baby flipped the wrong way, then FELL ASLEEP, meaning the Sonographer couldn’t get the crucial NT measurement. She asked me to go for a walk and to drink some more cold water to try and get the baba moving about again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So cold water was had and I waddled up and down this flight of stair no less than 50 times. We were called back in and I felt giddy this time – excited to get a second viewing of this wonderful babe. Except, the baby had moved into another awkward position. The Sonographer made me dance, tilted my body at odd angles, inserted a ‘soft play’ cushion under my knees and finally, made the bed go so far backwards I was slipped off, head first. Baby eventually played ball and it was confirmed that the NT measurement was low-risk, being 1.5m. Again, relief flooded my veins and I felt dizzy. (Although, that could have been due to the blood-rush from the bed being tipped up!).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So here I am. Week 14. Already with huge bump – yes there definitely is one in there – and feeling slightly less queasy, but still a lot tired.

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By sharing this (ridic long) blog post, it has been cathartic for me and if it gives hope to those who have been through loss, then that would make me really happy too. A new pregnancy, does not replace the one you lost. To have a million worries is normal and expected. Just look after yourself Mama, because I certainly am!

C
✖️✖️✖️

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Miscarriage & Me // Update: 4

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It’s been a little while since I mentioned our Miscarriage. 160 days, in fact, since my last post on here about it all. Because you don’t need me to tell you, life just has to move along. Especially when you have an Eli AND a James to look after too (!)

Since the end of the miscarriage, so much has happened. I’ve had the most spontaneous evening with Harry Styles, The Retreat, Bonfire Night, Christmas, New Year (fresh slate),  proposed move to Manchester (happening sometime, SOON!), followed by a stay in Manchester Royal Hospital (James, after a visit to A&E), a birthday surprise for my Papa and Mother’s Day. But here we are, almost half way into March. A month I’ve been desperately trying to not think about. But it’s here now and I have to face up to it. So by bashing this all out on the keyboard, I’m hoping I can get some kind of cathartic release.

So March. What’s the significance?

Well, my due date would have been, TODAY, 15th March.

So I knew that, at some point in March, whether that baby came early, or today, or indeed like their Big Brother, Eli, and arrived super late –  we knew had prepared that to have a brand new baba, in March. Today our arms are empty.

But obviously, this is not the case. This isn’t what’s happening this March, at least.

Today, I’ve had messages of love and support and care and its been so nice. I’ve had the head tilt, which has cheered me up without anyone even realising (a la Richard in Friends, see my reference, here) (SIDE NOTE // does anyone else live their days through quotes from FRIENDS? I can’t think of a day when I didn’t reference it at least!)

How have I been?

 

  • Well, physically, I felt battered and bruised for a few weeks post-operation – really exhausted. I slept through the day a lot. Mentally, I was totally drained. But I had to keep going – especially for Eli. I also overate, no rhyme or reason, but I couldn’t stop eating. Boy am I paying for it now as I try and shift off the pounds! Though, I’ve lost 10lbs in 5 weeks, so I’m getting there slowly.
  • Cycle-wise, my periods returned, a few days out from when I expected and they are still a bit strange. As I mentioned lots before, my periods are exceptionally painful (Endometriosis) and usually with an excessive amount of blood loss. While the pain has been the same (!!) as before, the blood loss is somewhat scant. So I’m wondering whether some endometrial tissue was removed during the ERPC operation? Who knows – but my body is still keeping me on my toes.
  • FYI – just after the New Year I received my ‘invitation’ for my Cervical Screening Test. I went to book it and was told to wait until 3-4 months AFTER the ERPC, to allow for the cells around the cervix to regrow following a miscarriage.  I had my Smear test last week – awaiting the letter back. But as usual, it was smashing, no problems with the procedure at all. It took around 2 mins, tops.
  • Following my operation I had a spate of infections (chest/ear/lung/so many colds). It culminated with a Spirometry Test and our darling Coco heading to a rescue centre to be re-homed. The diagnosis was COPD and I have a lung age of 61. Shockingly, I’ve never smoked and I’m only 31. Since Coco was re-homed however, my symptoms have dwindled and I feel much more healthy again! I’m sorry to say its all probably quite likely that I had a pet allergy 🙁 But I’m pretty impressed with my recovery and taking just one inhaler a day now. (Also, it goes without saying too – Mum’s ARE always right, damn!)
  • I became jealous, I guess, and sad – wouldn’t ‘luck’ just have it that so many friends (and IG strangers!) were announcing their pregnancies and births? Of course it would.  Though, as it is fairly obvious, I do absolutely  love a baba (I wouldn’t be craving my maternal duties again if I didn’t!) and it’s so wonderful to see these new babes coming safely into the world. I am honestly over the moon for everyone I’ve come into contact with who has told me of their happy news! But then I feel the intense guilt for feeling this sadness… part of me can’t help but think, this should also be us. We could be sharing our happy news right now too. Aren’t emotions bloody brilliant, eh?
  • Mentally – I’ve all over the place.
    • I’ve had a weeks and weeks where things have been great! Actually never better! But the closer we’ve come into March, the more vulnerable I’ve felt.
    • This week, I feel low and sad and diminished.
    • Without this being a completely sombre update, right now, I feel like I have this big black cloud hanging out with me – following my every move. I can’t shake it off.
    • I’ve had lots of tension headaches, back & neck (tension) pain and intense dreams – when I’m able to actually sleep, that is.
You can always count on Rupi Kaur to put your feelings together for you.

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I confronted my inner thoughts last week, which involved a whole lot of sobbing my heart out – and vocalising exactly I’m how feeling. I’d bottled it up, probably since November. It feels better to share – even if the other person doesn’t say anything at all – just sharing, feels so good. Though, the only person getting the brunt of it all at the minute, is poor James. And of course, he feels all the feels too.  A baby, our new baby, could have been in his arms, too, making him a parent all over again.

I didn’t have a follow up after my ERPC, I didn’t actually even speak to my GP about the trauma we’d been through. (Should I have? Should I have been sent an invitation for a follow up appointment of some kind? What happens in your local authority? ). I feel like maybe the grief is only just hitting me now – perhaps because when the due date has been and gone, then it all becomes real and in turn, gives us some kind of closure. Because that’s the end of the life-cycle, as it were. If that makes any sense at all. This all got me thinking, I have nothing physical to ‘show’ for my loss. So I contacted PALS at Broomfield Hospital, to see if I could access my medical records, notes, multiple scan imagery. See if there is any ounce of explanation following my ERPC (and the subsequent investigation that was to allegedly follow).  I kept my eyes firmly closed for a lot of the scans and procedures – willing it to be over. Anything any specialist pointed out or illustrated on the screen was a blur and didn’t register with me. Apparently I should have been offered copies of my scans – I’m now wondering if this also would have helped mark our loss and support our grieving process. Also, you can also ask (or may be offered) a Certification –  according to The Miscarriage Association,  this is a kind of ‘ death certificate’. For some parents, the sadness of pregnancy loss before 24 weeks is increased by the fact that there is no documentation that acknowledges the loss of their baby.  We recommend that NHS trusts create and offer some form of certification for parents who would like this. Tim Loughton MP has recently tabled a Private Member’s Bill which includes a request for a report on whether the law ought to be changed either to allow the registration of pre-24 week pregnancy losses (so it’s a personal choice) or to require it (so it is a legal requirement). The Miscarriage Association ran a survey on this to collate personal views – more details on this can be found, here.  The PALS team at Broomfield got in touch with a really lovely email – which was followed up by a call today from the Matron of Gynaecology. She’s invited us into the hospital to go through my notes and any questions / concerns, with my consultant (who was also the consultant we had for when I was pregnant with Eli), Miss Joshi. I was taken aback by the phone call and became quite emotional with the Matron. The kindness of strangers will never cease to amaze me.

To our Baby Briston-Hill (PRAWNER #2), you never did arrive in our arms – but you will be forever in my heart. I will live in wonder of who you would have been  – you’ll always be my favourite what if? my little darling.

Our little fam is pretty special – I’ll be squeezing these two extra hard today 🖤

Thank you for reading thus far; and thank you for the bags of support and love we’ve received. It means the world 🖤 Eli is going to be the BEST big brother (EVER) when it happens. And not a single one of us can wait. As the wonderful mind that was Professor Stephen Hawking, so perfectly put it,

“Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious. And however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at. It matters that you don’t just give up.”

 Professor Stephen Hawking

So this is what we’ll do.

All my love,
C
✖✖✖

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Support networks:
The Miscarriage Association
Tommy’s, The Baby Charity
Cruse, Bereavement Care
SANDS, Stillbirth & Neonatal Charity

Donate:
You can donate directly to The Miscarriage Association, from my FACEBOOK PAGE, HERE.

See also:
READ MORE >> Miscarriage & Me.
READ MORE >> Miscarriage & Me // An Update
READ MORE >> Miscarriage & Me // An Update: 2
READ MORE >> Miscarriage & Me // An Update: 3