Wednesday, 4 July 2012

No Compromise

What do you do when you have opposing views and there is no middle ground? How do you agree, when there is no compromise?
M and I disagree in a number of small matters; and mostly agree on the big things in life - politics, religion, moral values. The one thing we do not agree on is children. Before we got married, we decided to have two. It seemed a good number to me - I really didn't want an only child, and two is nice and even. Then Teddy came along, and I just knew it would have to be three. Two didn't seem enough, all of a sudden - I couldn't face only ever experiencing this wonder and excitement once more... That the next pregnancy would be my last one... It seemed too final.
 M, however, thought that he'd be quite happy with just the one. You can see where this is heading. Major disagreement. Now, I managed to swing things around by reminding M that we had said 2. Mind you, it took me the best part of half a year, lots of tears and hours of arguments to get there. So we got our little Bo, and to M our little family is now complete.
 Sometimes I think he is right - we have a perfect family; I love my boys so much and they adore each other, play together, have fun together, grow up as best friends. Since Bo turned one, things have gotten a lot easier again. Our life seems settled and peaceful. Why disturb it? But then there is this burning desire. Baby fever that really makes my insides burn with longing, so intense it almost chokes me and brings tears to my eyes. I miss being pregnant, I miss having a snuggly newborn, heck, I even miss the ups and downs of trying. I can picture our third child so clearly - another smiling face to complete the brood, another dimension to our family. Little Bo not only being the little brother, but also big brother to someone else. Three boys laughing and playing and fighting. Yes, there will be some ganging up... But there will also be lots more excitement and fun, and always someone there.
 But M won't have any of that. To him, we're done. He claims not to like children, and that it's the fewer, the better. That he already compromised by agreeing to a second (which is untrue - we had agreed that ages ago, before he went back on it!). Anyway. We seem to be caught in a No Win situation, neither wanting or being able to budge. Where does this leave me? There seems to be no word for this phenomenon, yet it must be so common. Women who can't have children are infertile. Women who don't want children are childfree. But women who are married and their partner refuses to have (more) children?
 Bitterness, resentment, envy... My old friends are back with me, making every pregnancy announcement, every newborn baby photo on facebook feel like a kick in the face. When a friend posted her 12 week scan pictures on FB to announce her pregnancy, I stared at the screen with tears streaming down my face, and I even knew she was pregnant before this as a mutual acquaintance had told me. Her girl is only two days younger than Bo. Oh yes, and did I mention my biological clock ticking (yes, my dreaded birthday is coming up again soon)and me panicking with every week, every day that goes by?
 But back to the start: there is no compromise. You can't have half a baby. And because you can't force this upon someone, the No wins. Now excuse me while I crawl into a dark corner and grieve, weep over my lost child I will never get to know.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Bo's Birth Story

My first son, Teddy, was born in 2009 via emergency c-section due to failure to progress (or “failure to wait” on behalf of the medical team). It was rather a traumatic experience and it took me a long time to come to terms with it. So this time, I decided it was all going to be different! I was aiming for a VBAC and used a hypnobirthing programme (book and CD) to prepare myself.
As Teddy had been a week late, I never expected this baby to come early; so when his due date came and went I wasn’t too bothered. However when I got to 41 weeks and still didn’t get more than one or two Braxton Hicks a day, I got a little impatient! I started joking that he was waiting for a June birthday. Day 8 was the last May Bank Holiday so I thought it would be neat if I went into labour as my husband M was at home; but no such luck. I went to bed feeling rather deflated.
The next morning, I woke before the alarm went off, and instinctively knew I was in labour. However after so many days of waiting and analysing every twinge, I decided to play it cool and wait and see. It seemed the contractions were coming every 15 minutes and they were quite bearable; and I lost my mucous plug as well so felt very positive that this was it!
That morning, I had an appointment at the hospital. As I was overdue but refused any form of induction (I wanted labour to happen naturally to improve my chances of a successful VBAC) I had to come in and get monitored regularly to make sure that baby was still doing ok.
I told the midwife who saw me that contractions had started, and the CTG confirmed this. Baby was doing fine so I was sent home after half an hour on the machine; not without being given another appointment in case the contractions fizzled out.
While driving home I noticed that the contractions were getting closer – every ten minutes – and stronger. In fact, I had to actively breathe through them now and decided I should probably not be driving anymore! I picked Teddy up from my mother-in-law and took him home for lunch and his nap. When Teddy had fallen asleep, I tried to have a quick nap too, knowing this could be my last opportunity to sleep for a while! But the contractions were now so strong that I couldn’t sit comfortably anymore, so instead I stood leaning over the sofa, swaying my hips and breathing through the contractions, which were now coming every 7 minutes.
By the time Teddy woke up, they were coming even closer, and were so strong that I had to completely focus inwards and on my breathing. So I switched the telly on for Teddy and continued to lean over the back of the sofa and breathing out with a loud “Aaaaah!” sound while rocking my hips with every contraction. Teddy thought this was very strange behaviour indeed so he repeatedly told me to “Stop being so silly, Mummy!” which made me laugh even at the peak of a contraction. I had called M to confirm that I was definitely in labour and could he come home. He said he’d try to be home for 5pm… not what I’d wanted to hear! I said the sooner the better,  and the rest of the afternoon  is just a blur of trying to get through the contractions and dealing with Teddy at the same time.
By the time M came home, I had contractions every 4-5 minutes. He ran me a hot bath which was bliss, and which I didn’t leave for an hour! While he got Teddy’s overnight bag and dropped him off at his mother’s house, who had agreed to look after Teddy while we were in hospital.
When M was back we rang the labour ward. The contractions now came every 2-3 minutes, lasting a minute, so the midwife I spoke to said to come in. I was reluctant to go in too soon, but by the time I had gotten out of the bath, dressed and ready, almost another hour had passed as I had to stop whatever I was doing when a contraction came.
When we got into the car – I got into “the zone” – I closed my eyes and focussed entirely on my body, shutting everything else out. We finally got to the labour ward at about 7pm (having to stop about five times between the car park and the building due to contractions) and got given a room.
As I had previously had a caesarean, I was put under close observation i.e. continuous monitoring. I didn’t want this and tried to say so, but I didn’t really have the strength to fight the midwives as I needed the energy to deal with the contractions. I was examined and found to be 3cm dilated – which was great news to me as with Teddy I hadn’t been dilated at all when I got to the hospital!
Unfortunately the continuous monitoring meant being strapped to a machine and thus confined to the bed. I still maintained an upright position by having the back of the bed as upright as possible, but it was still uncomfortable being so restricted – so I thought sod this, I might as well get an epidural! I had tried he gas and air but felt it interfered with my breathing techniques, and definitely didn’t want any pethidine – I’d had this last time and didn’t like feeling so drugged; I wanted to keep a clear head.
Eventually the anaesthetist arrived and began administering the epidural. Long story short, I was one of those 15% for whom the epidural does not work. Even with various top ups I only had the left side go numb and I could still feel everything on the right; and continued to throw up from the pain. It finally started working about 20 minutes before Bo was born.
In the meantime, my waters broke which was very encouraging for me as with Teddy they were artificially ruptured.  The fluid was clear, so I knew baby boy must be fine! I continued to labour away, finding it increasingly harder to deal with the pain of the contractions; and I remember I always had to hold M’s hand through a contraction to help me focus and get through it. The straps that tied me to the CTG continued to be an annoyance though; it kept losing track of the baby’s heartbeat because the straps would move.
Lots of people came to see me – midwifes, registrars, consultants, I don’t remember them all! Just introducing themselves and occasionally checking the CTG printout. At one point one of the registrars told me that baby was starting to get unhappy and to move position, so they had me lying on my left side and the readings improved again. At around midnight, I was examined again and 6cm dilated, further than I ever got with Teddy! Then the registrar told me I wasn’t progressing as quickly as they’d like and we had to start thinking about a caesarean. M and I got really annoyed as we saw no reason whatsoever for a c-section! I was progressing really well this time (in our opinion) and baby was doing well, so what was the rush? We would have refused a caesarean just on this basis that I wasn’t performing according to their time scales.
As the belts still kept moving and the sensors losing contact, M suggested using the fetal scalp electrode (where the sensor is clipped into the baby’s scalp) so we didn’t have to worry about  correcting the straps all the time and the registrar wouldn’t moan so much about losing the heartbeat all the time.
The midwife, Dawn, agreed and did another internal examination. Suddenly she said, “I can see something” and I remember thinking, hey maybe I’m fully dilated and she can see the head! But the look on her face told me something was wrong. Then Dawn told M: “Press the red button, NOW!” which he did and an alarm started to blare and lots of people came running into the room. The next part is all a bit of a blur, it happened so quickly. Dawn told me that the umbilical cord had come out, and she was pushing the baby’s head back in so that there was no pressure on the cord. We were rushing off to theatre, with Dawn sitting on my bed pressing against the head, and she said if I was fully dilated we could get the baby out vaginally, otherwise it would have to be a caesarean.
I remember I kept asking where M was and being told he was getting into scrubs; then someone telling me I was only 7cm so we’d have to operate. I heard the consultant ask the anaesthetist how long it would take to top up my epidural. Upon hearing the answer, 5-10 minutes, he said: “No, we don’t have five minutes. We’ll have to knock her out.” At that point I got really scared and started to panic a bit. I kept asking for M and was now told he wouldn’t be allowed in as they’d put me under general. Someone kept putting an oxygen mask on me which made me feel like I couldn’t breathe, and people were injecting all sorts into my arms and laying cannulas, and my hand really hurt. Then someone said “you will go to sleep now” and I thought “No, I won’t, I’m way too agitated!” but then everything went black.
Bo was born at 2.14am on 1 June 2011, weighing just over 10 pounds.
I woke up what felt like seconds later; and I could hear a baby scream before I could open my eyes. Dawn was there and told me everything was ok – the baby was fine and apparently not only came to this world kicking and screaming, but also peeing all over the operating staff! Bo was in a cot next to my bed, but due to all the drugs still in my system I couldn’t focus my eyes enough to see him. This was the worst part – I was awake and could hear my baby screaming his lungs out next to me, but I couldn’t see him properly or hold him as I had a massive tremor and couldn’t control my hands or arms. Then M came in and he held Bo close to my face, though I still couldn’t see him clearly then.
Finally the drugs started to wear off and I was allowed to hold and cuddle my baby! He latched on straight away and continued to nurse for the next hour or so. Everyone kept saying what a big boy he was; but to me (being used to a toddler) he just looked like a tiny baby.
I hadn’t heard about cord prolapse before it happened to me, and what I since found out is quite scary. It is a very rare occurrence (between 0.14% and 0.62% of all births) – the umbilical cord precedes the baby’s head through the cervix; the head then puts pressure on the cord. As a result, oxygen and blood supplies to the baby are diminished or cut-off. If the baby isn’t delivered promptly, brain damage or death will occur. The mortality rate is fairly high at 11-17%, so I feel very lucky that it was spotted so quickly and we ended up with a perfectly healthy baby boy.

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Last Day of August

And I just realised that I haven't blogged in three months. But then I've got a good excuse, namely my sweet little baby who will be three months old tomorrow; what a coincidence!!
I still haven't written up my birth story which makes me feel a bit bad, but I as good as never get the computer out these days. Fact is I can't because Teddy's little fingers would be all over it (it's happened twice that I thought our Internet connection was down, when really Teddy had switched off the wireless reception on my laptop). Thinking back, I mostly posted here (and everywhere else) when I was at work... Now that I'm on maternity leave, I don't have that luxury anymore (i.e. sitting undisturbed at a computer, maybe even with a cup of tea!).
Anyway. I WILL write his birth story someday soon. And try to post a bit more often. Just not today...!
All is well though in my life (apart from things with MIL but that's a long story!) and I'm so far enjoying being a Mummy of two, and watching my boys interact and bond!

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Due date

What can be said about my due date, other than that it came and went?

It's giving me no end of hassle! - This is because even though I know when I conceived, the hospital still decided to pull my official due date forward by an entire week as baby was measuring ahead at the 12 week scan. I knew, even back then, that this would come back to bite me in the
And now it has - I've got the consultants on my case, wanting to intervene as I have gone "overdue". I really want to have a VBAC and I want to give it the best shot - which is certainly not achieved by having my waters broken when my body isn't ready, and then having the clock ticking away which makes me highly susceptible to even more interventions if I then don't "perform" in line with their timescales.
Well, my last appointment went fairly ok - I told them in no uncertain terms that I didn't want any of this - but now that I'm facing another battle tomorrow, it does feel slightly daunting. I will be only 5 days over tomorrow, but of course that means being 12 days over in their books. I'm afraid they will really try to pressure me into some kind of intervention, and even though I know I will be able to fend it off it still takes a lot out of me at this stage in pregnancy, and self-doubts will probably come as well.
Anyway. Let's look at the brighter side. Teddy was born exactly a week after his real due date (yes, he had an adjusted official one as well!) and I'm not even at that stage yet, so it might happen soon anyway. Even if it doesn't, I can just go in for monitoring and have confirmed that baby boy is doing well (which he is, judging by his massive movements that make my belly lift off!). I can enjoy a few more days of what is most likely to be my last pregnancy; and I can spend a few more days with Teddy being my "baby" and spoiling him rotten with my attention.
That being said, I feel absolutely ready to meet baby boy now - I can't wait to see what he looks like, to get to know his personality, and have that snuggly newborn stage again (remind me of that in a couple of weeks!).

Saturday, 30 April 2011

Almost May

Just noticed that I last blogged over a month ago. I'm really quite the negligent blogger, aren't I?
So what's new?
Well, today would have been my FIL's 62nd birthday. It's very hard for M - not surprisingly - I guess this whole first year will be the hardest, as you hit all the firsts. The first Christmas without him, the first New Years, the first birthday that he will no longer get a year older on. And, eventually, the first anniversary of the day he died. It is a tough time but I know it will get better. It is so lovely to see that Teddy still remembers his Grandad; although I know that in time his memory will fade - after all, he was only 1 1/2 years old when my FIL died.
Baby Boy will have my FIL's first name as his third name (I guess that's not really a secret so I can write about it here). I know M really wanted it to be his first name, but apart from the fact that I don't overly like the name; I'm also against the concept of naming babies after people (fathers, grandparents etc). I think each child has a right to their own, unique name; one that is not burdened with expectations or will lead to them being a "XX Junior" or "Little XX" all their lives. Anyway, I think having his name as baby's third name still honours his memory and has his name live on. I think this was particularly important for M as we never got to tell his dad I was pregnant; and M struggled with that for a long time after his father's death. I do believe that my FIL knows about this baby, wherever he is now; but I guess that's a matter of belief and different for everyone.
So my MIL has mentioned previously that she would really like this baby to be born today. Yeah, of course she would... apart from the fact that it's not going to happen, it still made me a bit cross as a) I'm not even full term today - why would you wish for a premature birth? and b) it's the same thing as naming-after-someone - I don't want him to be burdened with any expectations, or have his special day marred by people constantly referring to his dead grandfather and being sad on the day.
Anyway, I don't want to be too harsh on my MIL - she has gotten a lot better recently; although I'm still apprehensive about when I go into labour / the time postpartum.
The plan is that MIL will look after Teddy when we go into hospital. So far, so good. I used to be worried that she would have one of her funny moods and fall out with us just then and Teddy wouldn't have anywhere to go to; but as I mentioned she has become a lot more evenly tempered recently (and I did ask some friends of mine to be our back-up!). Now I'm more worried about when we get back home - her "help" last time did nothing but aggravate me, and left me wishing she would go already... It's a tough one, because I know I will need help. But I also know that my MIL won't be able to give me the help I need; and I don't want to have to deal with her on top of everything else that will be going on. Some of my mummy friends have already said they'd be happy to help out with Teddy, or just generally, so maybe it will all work out fine. I do wish though I could get my mother or my sister over. It's not possible as we don't have anywhere for them to stay, but it would be such a relief... oh well, you can't have everything.
And some good news, I've got nearly everything ready for baby's arrival! Last weekend I washed all the covers for the moses basket, car seat, carrycot, bouncy chair and playgym, and reassembled everything so it's all ready and waiting now. I wrote my birth plan and bought some little bits I need for my hospital bag (travel sized toiletries). I've yet to pack the bag though... anyway, it made me feel really organised and prepared and even though I know it will be a good few weeks yet, it does relax me a lot to have things ready.
As a positive side effect (and I hadn't thought about that before)  it also makes if much more real for Teddy. He knows that the moses basket in our bedroom is the baby's bed, and the bouncy chair is the baby's seat, etc. He is very fascinated by them (especially by the "vibrate" button on the bouncy chair!) and does sometimes ask could he go in. But he knows now that he is too big, and puts his favourite toy Doggy in  instead :-)
I'm getting more and more excited about meeting baby boy now. Reading the Hypnobirthing book, and listening to the CD, certainly helps; and I feel a lot more confident and assertive this time seeing as I've already been through it and have learned from my mistakes, as it were. My next consultant appointment will be interesting - I will try and convince them that they have in fact got my due date wrong and that I'm willing to go for however long it takes baby to be ready. I'm sure they won't like this, but tough!

Saturday, 26 March 2011


Re-reading my last post just made me realise how things have changed over the last ten years or so. You see, I used to dread spring.
It was this whole nature awakening, everything springing into life thing - it filled me with infinite sadness to see so much life around me, when I felt so dead and so empty inside. I was much more comfortable with autumn and winter; with decay and frozen darkness. I remember feeling surprised when I read that the suicide rate is highest in autumn - surely it should be spring? This is how it made me feel anyway; nature showing me what should be, which was such a stark contrast to how I was.
Of course, it wasn't until years later that I realised; or shall we say acknowledged, that I had a problem. No, make that A Problem with capital letters. While in my teenage years all those feelings could be passed off as teenage moodiness; and I didn't actually stick out that much, dressed in black and with my "the end is nigh" attitude as that seemed to have been quite fashionable at the time. When I was at Uni though  I noticed I was different. None of the other girls had to cover their arms up with long sleeves, even in summer. No one else had panic attacks at the thought of going to the library. It was this, eventually, that made me see The Problem.  While at first I was an excellent student and would get good grades, my inability to visit the library meant I was lacking sources of information (this was before the internet became omnipresent - how old am I??), and my coursework became more and more shoddy. I couldn't see a way around it though - entering the library would mean that people might look at me; and think that I didn't belong there. At this point I was already avoiding lots of shops and supermarkets for that same reasons, but because I still had places that were "safe" to go to I didn't feel the impact so much. This was different. So when one day, I saw a little sticker in the loos, saying "psychological help for students, by students" I thought I'd give it a try. Of course I was really scared of going but managed to suppress that by feeling superior - after all, those were psychology students; practically hippies! And how silly they looked with their corduroy trousers, long hair and John Lennon glasses! And I did smirk when I walked into the room and saw the box of Kleenex on the table - so stereotypical!
Well, 5 minutes later and I sat there sobbing my heart out, the Kleenex box half empty. The nice hippy bloke said that unfortunately he couldn't help me; that he thought I needed professional help, and he gave me the number of a Dr he knew at the local loony bin. I was horrified. Ok, so I might have A Problem, but surely I wouldn't need to see a loon doctor?
But alas, things didn't get better on their own, so at some point I made the call. Got an appointment. Saw the Dr, who I took an immediate dislike to. Kept going anyway. Saw another Dr there, who prescribed me anti-depressants. Little did I know that I'd be on those bloody things for the next three years. After half a year, Dr #1 suggested I'd be hospitalised, as she felt we weren't getting anywhere and I needed some time out to intensely focus on my Problem and get care and therapy 24/7. I was stunned by this, and of course said no. How could I? This would mean tearing down the facade I so desperately held up - of being "normal". I hadn't told anyone but my best friend that I was, er, seeing someone. But a long spell in a hospital, a few hours drive from home, would mean I'd have to tell everyone - my parents, my friends, my colleagues... I didn't think I could do it. But I did. I still remember the phone call to my Dad. It was July, they were on holiday, and I called him, already crying before he answered the phone. I was so afraid of his reaction. I knew I would disappoint him so much, I hated being such a failure. Thankfully though he was ok -not at all what I'd feared - so I guess that gave me the strength to go ahead with it. My mother was a different matter, of course, and she would refer to my stint in the hospital as either "my luxury spa break" as clearly there was nothing wrong with me and I was making it up; or she would say "I hope you'll stay in that loony bin; you're mad, you ought to be locked up!". Needless to say she never once visited me there, or called.
Phew. This isn't something I have talked about much at all, let alone recently. In fact I only talk about it if I have to. Of course, that means I had to tell the midwife at my booking in appointment, when they ask about your medical history - "Any mental illnesses?". So now I've got these big flashing reminders in my notes: "History of depression". "Self-Injuring Behaviour". "Attempted Suicide". Yes, it looks good, that does.
Although I'm pleased to say that I don't mind it much these days. I have come to peace with myself. I know that I still sometimes react irrationally; especially if someone or something triggers the old fears. But all those years of therapy have given me the tools to deal with it; and not only that, they have improved my skills of dealing with people and difficult situations in general. I have overcome my Problem, and it has made me a stronger person.
The one thing I worry about slightly is that some day, I'm going to have to tell my boys. Of course that will take another ten years or so! But one day they will notice all those silvery lines that cover my wrists and entire forearms, and they will want to know what happened. I hope that they won't judge me.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Wordy Wednesday

It seems that for many bloggers, today is 'Wordless Wednesday'. I on the other hand have just found some time to blog again!
So far, March seems to be a great month full of good news. My friend Emmy has had her long awaited baby, so has my EC friend Andrea - 12 weeks early, but her baby girl is doing extremely well! My best friend IRL has finally gotten her BFP, after half a year of trying and becoming increasingly frustrated. And to top it off, my BIL proposed to his girlfriend! I'm so very pleased and happy for every one of those people. March seems to brighten everything up a bit - the weather has also started to warm up and daffodils are blooming everywhere; beautiful yellow dots that spread spring feeling on roadsides, in gardens and parks.
M and I had a great date night; and last weekend I had a lovely day at a luxury spa- our Christmas do at work, a little belated! Furthermore, M and I have bought a new bookshelf and tidied up the living room; and a new wardrobe for the boys' room (and tidied that up a bit as well!). So things are pretty much in place for when baby boy arrives, which of course makes me feel good too!
M is about to start a new work project with his friend which they've got high hopes for. I'm still a bit sceptical ( but then I'm rather over cautious anyway) but if this really takes off it will be fantastic in terms of (fiscal) rewards; and I know it would make M so much happier as it'd mean he could spend less time dealing with annoying clients...
All in all, there's a very positive vibe in the air! Now this just needs to continue, ha ha.
Baby boy is doing well too, he's bouncing around like crazy most days which is very reassuring. I passed the yucky diabetes test so I can continue cramming my face with chocolate at every opportunity (more good news!). Now that we have decided on a name, I am really looking forward to meeting him! Hard to believe I'm nearly 8 months now... Although I do expect the worst for the weeks immediately following birth, I somehow know I will cope better this time... After all, I've already done it once and survived!