Tagged: infertility

Mothering

Everything changes in a year. This time last year we were on staycation prior to starting our second cycle of IVF, in the hopes of having our rainbow baby. 

This year, our rainbow baby is here. 

Here in the UK, it’s Mother’s Day at the weekend. It will be my first Mother’s Day as a mother. 

I still equate Mother’s Day with my mum, the only mother I’ve ever known (since I was adopted at a few days old). Every other year I’ve just been me – a person with no biological relatives. This year, I have my first biological relative in B. I have a child! I’m a mother. It still feels surreal. 

I’m sort of amazed by motherhood, in that I never really saw myself as the maternal type. I knew I wanted a kid, but I expected this first part to be the tiresome and boring part – before the baby turns into a toddler who can express himself. But here’s the thing – B can express himself just fine! And there must be some sort of hormones, or biology, that makes you love your own child. 

I’ve spent years primarily being defined by my work. After over a decade of infertility I never defined myself by the typical female traits. Instead I was always about achieving stuff in a mainly male world. I was the female of colour in a white guy’s world and I ploughed my own furrow. 

And now I’m “one of the mums”. And to my surprise, I don’t hate it. I relish it. I find it all the more precious because I know I have less time than the others. Most women in the UK take a year off when they have a baby. More than a year because they accrue holiday when they’re on maternity leave. I could take a year – I’m entitled to it – but because I started my job pregnant, I am unpaid by my company for all the time I’m off. And I can’t really afford more than the four months I guesstimated we could do without my salary. 

Mum life is fun. And it’s even easier because T is off at the same time as me. Although we realised that a lot of stuff is geared just towards mums and babies and not dads. On the one hand I think that’s unfair, but on the other – I’m only just seeing how there’s a biological imperative and it makes sense for the mother to be the primary caregiver.

I knew it intellectually but I never really knew it. B knows I am his mother. He looks for me, and he’s comforted pretty much only by me. He likes T, but after a while he will look for me. And I’m the only one who can feed him. That’s such a big thing I hadn’t really fully understood. I see with B that instinctively he searches for me and wants to be with me. 

It’s weird to think that I was once his age and that even before I was the age he is now (just two months old!) I was taken from my first mother and given to a new one. Because I see now how B knows me, knows my smell, is comforted by me. Quite aside from looking like me. He knows me from being inside me for nine months. It’s a real big thing to think that happened to me at such a young age, a fraction of the age B is now. I wonder what that must have felt like to me as a baby. 

The funny thing is, I have almost a deeper relationship with my parents now because of B. They want to see him every week. We bond over our shared love of him. They don’t love him any less than their biological grandchildren – they are super proud grandparents of all of them. And I feel like we’ve had deeper, more critical conversations lately, especially about adoption. The fact they’re able to do that and to listen to my musings without getting defensive has been really a bonding experience for us. 

Having my own biological child has thrown up all these thoughts and feelings. I’ve had time to think and I’ve had time to bed into the idea of having a biological relative. It’s still so new and yet he feels like he’s always been here. It’s so huge in one way and so little, quotidian in another. In one way I feel like I’m still just me and in the other, I feel like everything has changed. 

I’m still active on adoption groups and lately a lot of adoptees I know have found their birth parents and families. It makes me wonder about looking for mine. I’ve thought about it a lot. But also I’ve seen how it doesn’t seem to make them happy. It seems to make them sad a lot of the time and yet they feel compelled to search.

For me, I don’t feel compelled to search. I wonder if I should feel it and there’s something wrong with me that I don’t. I wonder if I found my birth family whether I’d recognise myself in them. I’ve seen pictures of adoptees and the family resemblance and I wonder about that. Maybe B is enough for me. I feel like my birth mother would be like me – accepting of life, not really looking back. Not expecting me to go back. I don’t want to drag up difficult feelings because I don’t want to ruin the happiness I have now. And I hope she’s happy and I don’t want to ruin that either. 

T is also adopted and I wonder how much his experience has shaped mine. He found his birth mother a long time ago. They’ve only met a couple of times. It’s like they just needed to do it and then go back to their lives. Since B was born, we were supposed to see her and it seemed really difficult to arrange it. Lots of tangled communication. Then she cancelled. 

I wonder if she’s cancelling on purpose because it’s too much or whether the excuse she said is true. I feel slightly defensive and miffed on his behalf and on B’s behalf because I don’t understand why someone’s biological mother and grandmother doesn’t seem to want to see them. Maybe it’s too much emotionally. 

Part of me feels like she’s not entitled to see B because she’s not his “real” grandmother, as she hasn’t been an involved mother to T. But that’s just me being defensive for him. I guess I don’t understand why she doesn’t want to see this beautiful man she made. I think maybe a lot of adoptees have complex and angry feelings towards birth parents and we can’t know the circumstances. 

I feel compassion towards mine but it’s easy because they’re abstract and not real right now. If they were in this country and easily accessible I would feel mad if they didn’t make the effort to see me. And I kind of think feelings like that are why I have never searched. I don’t want to go down a rabbit hole of hope and disappointment. I’m fine and happy with life as it is. I kind of can’t believe how it’s worked out lately, how I have these three amazing guys I live with (if you count the dog as a guy!) and why would I want to change that, to drag up difficult feelings? Maybe that makes me a wuss.

So those are the thoughts that have been at the back of my head. At the front of my head have been the happy thoughts. The “I can’t believe that title now belongs to me” thoughts. The thought of my first Mother’s Day. On Saturday we are seeing T’s parents. And on Sunday (Mother’s Day) we are going round to my parents’ house with B and having a double. 

Mother’s Day still feels like it belongs to my mother, because I’ve had thirty-odd years of celebrating it as an honour for her. This year my dad is taking us all to a restaurant for lunch for my first Mother’s Day, so it’s about me too. And it’s about T’s mum, my mother in law, and her first grandchild. And it’s our time to think of our first mums who gave birth to us all those years ago. And I think of the mothers without babies too. The unacknowledged mothers. They matter too. 

As a new mum, I know I’m not special – hundred and thousands of women do it every day. And yet this year I have joined that circle of life, of women who have given life, our ancestors and the women to come down the line. I imagine I’ve joined that lineup of women, a line I never thought I’d join – through not inconsiderable effort and medical intervention – and I feel significant and insignificant at the same time. 

I am me. The child of two mothers, a shadow mother and an everyday mother. The partner of a wonderful, kind, funny man. The flatmate of a brilliant dog. The mother of baby B. 

Life is good. 

Between worlds

Feeling somewhat bruised today after a culmination of a number of things and I realise that this process bruises us all. And I’m sad that the outcome of that is a lot of sadness and anger. Mainly anger. 

I think the main point is this: Pregnancy after loss shoots you into a whole new domain of feelings, and suddenly you have a foot in each world – one still in the world of infertility, with those still struggling angry at you for being “okay”; and one in the world of pregnancy, where you feel like an imposter and you never quite get rid of the fear of history repeating itself and of reverting to being your childless self. 

I feel stuck between those worlds now. For example I’ve tried to carry on blogging and not being one of those people who stops being supportive just because I’m “okay”. 

(Thing is, I’m not okay. I’ll never be a normal pregnant woman because I’ll never take it for granted, and no matter how far everything goes, I’m still worried about loss. I have a new set of worries now and of course they have calmed a bit because it’s possible to acknowledge a pregnancy after a certain stage. But they are still very real. I’m not a complacent optimistic pregnant woman and I haven’t announced it on social media or told people I don’t see, because part of me still worries that it won’t happen and something will go wrong.)

But I’ve become really aware of how continuing to comment on people’s blogs might not be helping and supportive as I intended it to be. That for some people who are struggling to get pregnant, or are newly pregnant after infertility or loss, the fact of someone else being pregnant – even after their own infertility and loss – is not encouraging, and just makes them feel bad. 

I have tried to be empathetic and supportive but maybe I just need to realise that there’s a certain stage of hell that infertile/newly pregnant after loss people are suffering in and that trying to be there for them whilst I am heavily pregnant is hugely triggering. And not just in blogland but real life, too. 

It’s a weird feeling to be classed as someone who’s crossed over to being the subject of people’s anger for being pregnant. Because I was always the non-pregnant one, the infertile, the non-parent. It’s an identity I don’t feel fits, and yet here I am with a bump, causing pain to people in the same situation I was in for so many years. 

It’s ironic because I still feel at 34 weeks like I can’t comfortably accept congratulations on my pregnancy or feel completely comfortable answering questions. I have stock answers but I don’t want to tempt fate by expecting everything is going to be okay, even if it seems that way to everyone else and there are people thinking, “It’s okay for you”, just as I did about others in previous times. 

The big news is that I’ve known for a while now that my sister is pregnant. She had a very similar situation to mine last year where they did IVF and it resulted in a first ever pregnancy followed by miscarriage. I told her about the immune therapy we had and she ended up going to see the same doctor, and getting a slightly different diagnosis. 

They decided to move forward with immune treatment alongside the “natural” cycles and then they decided to transfer their remaining frosty from their first cycle. (The difference for us was that cycle 2 was a fresh cycle as I didn’t create enough eggs / we didn’t have enough embryos of any quality to freeze any – on either cycle.) And now a few months later she has tested after the two week wait and she’s pregnant. 

Of course I’m thrilled for them. And I can also understand how she must be feeling because I felt something like that too. The sheer all encompassing fear of getting positive pregnancy tests but before any scans. And even after scans in our case – as we had a first scan and heartbeat last time. I know I went a bit mad during that time, and truth be told, my mind only started to calm down slightly around the 20 week mark, which is a long way away for her. 

And right now her sister – the one she could always depend on as being equally infertile – is heavily pregnant. I’ve been really conscious of how awful this must be for her even though I know she’s happy for me in her own way. I know how I felt when my brother’s wife had his baby whilst we were on our post-baby-loss-moon. It’s hard to deal with. 

My sister has reacted a lot like I did. She is angry at everyone. She’s angry at her partner for being happy, for “not doing enough” and for not being able to read her mind. She’s angry at women at work who are pregnant or who have children – or even who are happy and chatty and not in a state of upset like she is. She told me she even moved desks to get away from them because they were “too happy”. She’s angry at my parents for asking how she is and offering support. I’m sure she’s angry at me for being pregnant. 

She called me the other day because she was feeling so bad about everything and I did my best to reassure her that what she was feeling was normal. She has always been a lot more highly strung than I have, and if I think how crazy I felt, I would expect her to feel a lot worse. I have already written at how I feel about pregnancy after loss (How not to react when someone congratulates you on being pregnant). It has taken me a long time even to talk as if I’m not constantly waiting for loss – even if the thoughts still creep in. 

I tried to reassure her that everything she was feeling was valid. I shared my experience of feeling angry and resentful that I couldn’t enjoy this pregnancy for months, and why I still worry. And we talked for a long time, and she was upset and angry and I don’t know how much I helped. I feel like during that time of waiting, you almost can’t say the right thing. The person who is pregnant after loss is going to be afraid, and angry, and I don’t think there’s much anyone can say to allay it. 

So I don’t know how to navigate this. It’s like I’ve been given a role I didn’t ask for and suddenly I’m the oppressor rather than the oppressed. I don’t belong any more in the infertility world, with my big bump triggering people. And I’m not a parent either. 

I don’t want to be one of the people causing pain to others. But equally, I feel like it’s not the pain Olympics but I still kind of think… Surely we have gained the right after everything we have been through to begin to hope we might have a successful pregnancy, eventually.

When I wasn’t pregnant and I had unexplained infertility and other things, I looked for hope. And when I miscarried our baby after our first cycle of IVF, I felt desolate – but the worst feeling was hopelessness. So I always searched for it. When people who’d known similar struggles got pregnant, I was happy for them because it gave me hope that there might still be something for me. (One of the first people I ever followed now has a real life baby who is about one year old, and I’m so happy for her!) When we went through cycle 2, I kept one blogfriend in mind who had a successful second cycle. I tried to believe in hope. 

But I don’t want to be that source of pain if I can help it. Particularly if I can help it – I can’t help seeing my sister, but I can help commenting on people’s blogs and inadvertently causing them pain. I really do not want to do that. I’ve had over a decade of that and I don’t want to be that person to someone. 

So I’m going to take a break from commenting on infertility blogs, unless I’m really sure that they want to engage (e.g. If they comment on mine and we “know” each other). I have always had a policy of trying to engage with blogs I follow (often as a result of them following me) but in some cases I can’t be sure, and I don’t want to hurt people by commenting if I am doing more harm than good. 

I’m in a risky kind of place right now because I want to talk about my own experiences and fears and I’ve moved on a few months from that place of going through IVF and immune stuff so it’s maybe not appropriate to comment on people’s blogs who are still going through that. 

I have had a whole day full of people being angry today and it’s making me feel  fairly wretched. I wonder if there is some effect of the moon or something. There is too much pain and anger in the world today, and I’m not dealing with it well. I’ve also been wondering lately if there is such a thing as pre-natal depression or pre-baby blues or whatever. Because I feel like I’m taking stuff to heart and feeling teary when the old me would just have brushed it off. (Old me is one kick ass b*tch. Current me is blancmange.)

More than anything this week I think I need a break. 

NaBloPoMo roundup

Well, I did it! This is my final post for NaBloPoMo, the blogging challenge for November. I can’t quite imagine how, but I’ve managed to bore you post every single day in November. Wowsers! (Now I can go back to the usual blogging-every-few-days thing and stop the 11pm panic setting in…)

Things I blogged about in November:

Whether I should tell my ex that I’m pregnant (my most popular post in November) – answer: I haven’t as of yet, and have no immediate plans, though I’m pretty sure it’ll come up

How not to react when someone congratulates you on being pregnant – about pregnancy after loss and the emotional implications (second most popular post)

Going to my friends’ (gay) wedding – a beautiful Scottish weekend and how #loveislove as far as I’m concerned

Different kinds of love – how people react to a gay wedding, and a small story about my dad, and an ode to girlfriends

DNA testing for adoptees and my experience of getting my head round it, and a bit on adoption in general, because that’s partly what my blog is about

How I got diagnosed with gestational diabetes (ugh) and dealing with it

Being pregnant (quite a lot of what my blog is about right now) and thinking of other people going through infertility and IVF

A very shocking turn of events at my baby shower and how two people’s hearts stopped within 24 hours

Some stuff on the US election (it’s just too depressing)

Some cakes!

And a bunch of other stuff. Because I really did manage to do it every day (UK time, anyway!).

 

One of the bittersweet things I notice from the stats is that my all time most popular post (other than the homepage) is from June 1 last year. Entitled “Day 53: Not so Clearblue”, it was my first ever experience of a positive pregnancy test. I was so happy that day!

One year on and quite a lot wiser (though still fairly headstrong and stupid), I know that a positive pregnancy test is only the first step. That pregnancy – my first ever pregnancy in all my 30-something (closer to 40) years, ended in a physically and emotionally painful miscarriage. This time last year I was holding a deep sadness in my heart, rather than a baby. In February this year, my first baby’s due date, I really thought my heart was breaking.

This November, I feel a lot different. Reading those posts, I want to give 2015 Me a hug. And tell her it will be alright (so far). Today I am 33 weeks pregnant with a little fat guy who’s currently taking up residence in my uterus. B (for Baby – I couldn’t bring myself to give him a cutesy nickname like our last one had) is due mid January 2017 and with each passing day I feel like he’s more and more likely to make it.

(The little bugger keeps kicking my innards and bouncing on my bladder, anyway.)

I’m thinking of 2015 Me and Last November Me and all the Mes who’ve been and gone and are still partly here. The bruised Mes, the hurt Mes and the Me who’s still here in November 2016, who never quite believed and yet is still somehow still going. And all the Not-Mes too who are going through their own hardships – the pain of infertility, the complex feelings around adoption, and all the other things we find hard to put into words.

A year ago I already knew you, my blogfriends, and I knew how much you’d saved me. I don’t know if you do. Blogging gave me an outlet to try and put those feelings and experiences into words, and to understand I wasn’t alone.

So, thank you to BlogHer for the blogging challenge – but moreso, thank you to all my blogfriends for being awesome.

You mean the world.

#NaBloPoMo

NaBloPoMo November 2016

PUPO by proxy (31 weeks)

My sister is PUPO! Her frosty defrosted and she had the transfer today. I feel nervous on her behalf, and also really quite strange because I feel like the further along I get in the pregnancy, the more weird it feels to think that I might be moving into a different stage of my life. Motherhood. Parenthood.

We are picking up our car on Monday. There’s a joke that everyone get a big car when they have a kid. We had been thinking about it for a while, since we moved and got a parking space (gold dust in London!) and it kind of coincided with imminent B arrival. But really it’s partly about Dog as we want to take him to the parks, and we don’t need a car but it’s nice to have one now that we live closer to the outskirts, and it took a few months after buying our new house (apartment! Tiny shoebox!) to save up enough to sort out the car. Anyway. That seems like a weird, grown up stage of life we’re moving into. And I’m not sure I am ready for that identity yet.

For a long time my identity has been Childless. And even now, more than 3/4 of the way through this pregnancy, I still feel like I identify more with Childless, Infertile, Loss, than I do with Big Pregnancy Bump, Imminent Parenthood, and so on. It is really hard to explain. It’s like… I’ve followed infertility blogs and I’ve rooted for people, shared their pain at failed procedures, and their joy at getting pregnant, and I’ve watched how some people gradually pass into parenthood and drift off, or become “mommy bloggers”, and I am sure that’s inevitable but I still don’t know what my next stage is.

I am still hopeful for my sister. I know either way that it will be so hard for her to watch me – the perma-infertile – have a kid. And part of me is still petrified that something will go wrong with the birth or the pregnancy and I won’t end up with one. For some reason I keep seeing stories about stillbirths and it just freaks me out. I don’t know how it can be prevented – I sleep on the side I’m meant to sleep on, mainly, and I don’t smoke or drink and I’m relatively healthy. It just totally freaks me out. But I know what I’m going through now is a whole world away from what my sister is going through. The Two Week Wait. The desperate hope.

I don’t even know what I’m hoping for on her behalf because everything is a milestone and I remember just hoping for tiny fragments at a time. Like the first hope is a positive pregnancy test. And the second hope is a pregnancy that lasts until the early scan. And the next hope is the 12 week scan without going completely crazy… Although I think I might have had another private scan in between. This is what I mean… Already I feel I’m passing into this other world of not remembering the pain and desperation quite as well as I lived it before, whereas my poor sister is only entering into her two weeks of hell. Followed by the milestone counting, the hurdle jumping. (I always was terrible at sports.)

I’m not sure what to do other than hope for her, and send her random messages encouraging her without putting an obligation on her to reply. I guess that’s the TWW for you. It sucks. And there’s either another layer of the parcel to unwrap at the end, or you realise you weren’t playing pass the parcel after all…

Tomorrow I have my delayed (as a result of their screw up!) appointment with the gestational diabetes nurse, to find out what is wrong with me, what my results were and whether I have to take any evasive action other than diet. (Urgh.) As you can maybe imagine, adding food confusion to pregnancy cravings/aversions has not really helped! I’m not sure what I’m meant to be doing, but I have assumed they’ll tell me and it can’t have been that urgent if they waited until 3 weeks after the test to explain the results!

I still keep having WTF?! moments where I think This cannot be happening. I’m not sure I really believe I’m pregnant, but I must be. I have a big bump. It’s definitely baby rather than fat. (I just looked fat for a long time!) And my sis being PUPO could be an amazing thing – if B’s cousin follows closely behind – or a really sad thing, depending on what the outcome is. I know that it would be so hard for her if it doesn’t work out because I can remember exactly what the pain felt like last year. And it scares me a bit, selfishly, because we are pretty close now and I want B to know her. 

Not sure if I screwed up with the timing, but I got the DNA tests through the mail. I mentioned in a previous post that an adoptee group I am in donated the money to buy one of them for me. (I was so moved by this. I still am.) And when I ordered them, I also ordered one for her. So I put it in the post this week. She hasn’t mentioned it at all… but maybe she has other things on her mind. Or maybe I’ve overloaded her with too much potential information. Agh. I still have the test sitting on the table and I haven’t opened the box yet. It’s a bit like my birth certificate… I know where it is, and I know I could kick off the search for my birth mother, and yet I haven’t… I guess the idea of a potential baby makes you question your identity.

And B, well he’s just kicking away merrily. T read the end of our story to him the other night, and I’m pretty sure he recognises his dad’s voice as he kicks away when he gets talked to. It’s very odd. As soon as T tries to feel the kicks, B will stop! I’m wondering if he will recognise Dog’s voice too? He now has a pattern of kicks where he doesn’t kick that much in the morning (probably still asleep like his mama) and gradually perks up at lunchtime, afternoon and evening. It’s a surreal experience to have an actual human inside you, kicking you from the inside.

I really hope my sister can experience this too. I hope this week is only the beginning for her.

Every single step of this pregnancy is something I never thought I’d experience. And I’m grateful.

Another milestone (30.5 weeks)

I’m 30 and a half weeks now, and that feels pretty weird. This week has been weird generally what with the election result and the frankly mindboggling news that Donald Trump is the president of the USA. There’s so much to say and yet there are no words. I’ve said some of what I felt on fb, but it’s not enough. So this won’t be a post about that, but it’s not to say I’m not thinking about it and hurting for all the people for whom America must seem like an awful place to be right now.

Tomorrow is the biggest baby milestone I can think of that’s actually visible to the outside world: my baby shower. All the other milestones are these kind of in-your-head milestones that don’t really register to other people. One of the things I did this week was have a long chat with my brother-in-law about my sister’s IVF treatment. They are currently going through cycle 2 and that’s why she’s not coming to my baby shower. (I completely understand and never expected her to. She sent me a lovely and insanely expensive cashmere blanket and toy for the baby and a scented candle for me. I literally can never have enough scented candles. Tbh I wouldn’t have been minded if she’d sent nothing. I know the battle she’s fighting.)

What I explained to my BIL is that it’s hard to understand what the woman is going through because there are so many milestones/hurdles and it feels like a neverending marathon. For my sister, the next one is whether their frosty is going to defrost okay. We never had any frosties – for us with our live cycle it was to see if I produced any eggs. And then if they fertilised… And the transfer… The two week wait… The first ultrasound… The second ultrasound… The twelve week ultrasound… 16 weeks… 20 weeks… 24 weeks and viability… I am really hoping that their frosty is the one and she’s going to be pregnant with my niece or nephew before B arrives. I know it will be so horrible for her if it doesn’t work. Trying not to think about that.

I am three quarters of the way through pregnancy. I’m in the third and final trimester. I have a mahoosive bump which even today has gained new stretch marks. (Turns out that my skin which I’ve always thought was nice and supple is actually completely unstretchable… boo…) Also, I had an annoying experience about my gestational diabetes today. I was working from home, which I tend to do on a Friday (awesome to spend the day with Dog snoozing on me… I don’t think I could love him more!) and the post came through the letterbox. I opened a letter addressed to me and it was my bloody appointment for two hours before!!! What kind of bloody stupid department sends you an appointment letter that arrives after the appointment? I tried calling them a few times but of course no answer.

I was pretty upset about this and of course called T to vent, and he suggested maybe I head to the hospital and see if they could squeeze me in. But I wasn’t dressed (work from home day!) and it also takes like half an hour to get there on public transport. So I was going to do that, and then I thought I’d call L (super midwife who also works at that hospital) and see what she thought I should do. She said not to go to the hospital as she thought it’s a morning clinic, and she’d try and get through to them and text me. She did, and it turns out the letters were sent by a temp who was supposed to call up as well to confirm. As a result, only two women turned up for clinic today! 

I was so mad. I mean, it’s the NHS (National Health Service – UK healthcare) and that’s public money, and that temp not doing their job properly meant that nurses and doctors were sitting around today waiting for people who never came. What a waste of public resources. So frustrating. Also it means for another week (they’ve rescheduled to next week) I have to wait and still not know the results of my gestational diabetes test or what I should be doing. Anyway. They can’t think it’s that urgent so I’ll try not to worry about it. (I’m not really, after I read all the literature and realised it’s mainly about big babies rather than anything else.)

In other news my mum had an op yesterday, which means she can’t come to my baby shower either, as she is recuperating. I am really okay with this as I don’t think I’m a baby-shower-zilla or anything! I mean, it’s a totally optional thing and it’s also a sort of half celebration of other stuff so it’s more of a girly get together. T’s mum and sister are coming, so that’s nice. Mum is fine, but a member of our family is dying (cancer, bloody cancer) and so she’s ended up sitting by that person’s bedside whilst dosed up on painkillers. Probably not the easiest thing to do after a big operation. (She is okay but it’s sore.)

The dying person has actually been a real… not nice… person for their entire life so I find it hard to be really sad about them dying. But my mother is the kind of person who doesn’t want someone to die alone, so she’s sitting at the hospital as we speak and my dad’s probably trying to persuade her to go home. (That must make me sound heartless. I don’t wish the person ill. I just can’t muster up a huge amount of sadness for someone who was so nasty for their entire life.) I guess it’s sad that on your deathbed that you aren’t surrounded by friends and family because you pushed them all away. I would go but last time that person was really ill, I went and they were just as nasty as ever! I really thought on your deathbed you got nice, but I guess it doesn’t happen for everyone. I’ve sent cards, but sometimes distance has to remain. I feel really sad for the person but I can’t go to them.

So in a way it seems callous to be excited about my party / baby shower when there are so many other things going on. Like my friend with cancer. She’s had her first chemo treatments and is feeling sick but still seems upbeat and we are trying to cheer her up. I guess that is how life balances out. We have to have moments of fun in dark times. And for me, this whole pregnancy has been a really strange experience and of not knowing whether it’s okay to be happy or not. Believe it or not, even at 30 weeks I still worry. (Although I did get told by the doctor that they consider “term” anything after 37… WTF? That could mean Christmas!) I still feel uneasy at being “the pregnant lady” – but I am excited to see a bunch of friends I haven’t seen for a while, because I haven’t been socialising much.

T’s away this weekend for a boys’ weekend… probably the last he’ll be going on for a while! It’s not strictly speaking a normal boys’ weekend but him and another friend taking out their friend who has some additional needs. This guy has some physical and mental health problems so they try and take him away for a weekend every now and again so he can feel a bit normal. He sometimes comes to stay with us too, but in our new flat there isn’t really any room as it’s tiny. So I have a whole weekend that’s just me and Dog, and the baby shower. 

I’m actually kind of enjoying the fact that I don’t have to do that much other than snuggle with Dog! I keep looking at him and wondering what it will be like when B is here and whether I will be able to give him the same amount of attention and make him feel happy and loved. Maybe this is what people feel when they have a second child? I keep trying to explain to him but he doesn’t speak good English and just licks me!

The best thing about the baby shower tomorrow is I get to see my BFF, who doesn’t live in this country. I’m super excited to see her and also my other friends. Since we moved and I was pregnant, I haven’t been socialising as much, mainly because we were really busy with moving and unpacking (umm, still not finished) and then I wasn’t going out drinking. So it will be great to see people. I think there are about 20! We have a room in our local pub booked for Christmas dinner. I love Christmas. It’s my favourite time of the year! It will be my first Christmas dinner of the year!

T and I decided we would open the baby shower presents that had arrived before he left, so last night we opened a bunch of them. We already have loads of stuff from my mum, and some clothes we had bought, and of course Tiger. So we opened other presents people had sent. In the UK, baby showers aren’t really a thing – they’re very optional. And people don’t really do big presents like in the US (from what my American friends tell me). They tend to do clothes or toys. So we’ve tried not to buy many of either and somehow still managed to accumulate a few!

We made an amazon list just in case people wanted ideas and also to remind us of things we were going to get, and so last night we opened a bunch of those. People were really generous! We had a baby bouncer, a light and music mobile, gift card, pram toy… and one of my friends got the insanely expensive Steiff toy of Dog (or lookalike) which we had totally not expected anyone to get! Which was so nice. So now B has a Tiger, Dog, hippo, bear and rabbit to choose from! We realised we don’t really have many big ticket items to get now. (My parents paid for the pram, car seat, carrier and sling so we are sorted for that.) We need the cot (I finally decided on the Snuzpod) and a baby changer, which we are probably going to get from IKEA once we have the car. It’s crazy as we have probably forgotten something important! 

It feels weird still but I’m hoping that everything goes okay for B’s arrival and that the gestational diabetes is the only complication. I find myself worrying that something bad will happen but I try and close off that option in my head and enjoy the rest of the pregnancy. The thought of four months off is nice! Although I’m sure maternity leave is probably more physically gruelling than holiday! Everyone keeps remarking how calm I am about the whole thing, and I’m like… I’m sure many people have done it before and it’s not like he’s the only child who’s ever been born. (Also I think, I have waited and hoped for this for so long… I’m not going to feel like it’s an awful thing. I’m sure childbirth is kind of a slog, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it! Same goes for the sleepless nights!)

It feels like work is on slight wind-down mode. My boss decided I was so good at the previous work party organisation that I could organise the Christmas party – so I booked that today. Bit annoying I’m not going to get the full benefit of the mixology (cocktail making) class and dancing, but at least I’ll enjoy another Christmas dinner! We are going out in the west end of London which is the slightly swankier area. I booked a bar where we can do all of it without changing venue. I can’t believe men arrange things so late! I told my boss next year I will be booking it in June! 

When I went to check out the venue, it just so happened that they were doing a shopping event with 20% off in lots of shops so I got some presents for T, because he’s really fussy about the shops he buys clothes from and they were included in that promotion. I had to try and remember what shoe size he was, and was relieved when I got home that I was right! Phew! And I got him a winter coat too from his favourite shop. It was kind of comical as I got two of the guys in store to try it on and see if it was the right size! It cost a lot so 20% off was a great stroke of luck! Here’s hoping he likes them. In our tiny flat now there is literally nowhere that’s not in sight, and we don’t currently have any wardrobes or anything I can hide them in, so I managed to hide them under my side of the bed!
 

Other news this week – Starbucks got the red cups in! Christmas season can begin! 

Gestational what?

Well that’s just annoying. Apparently I have gestational diabetes.

Background:

The last 2 NHS scans showed a massive growth particularly on baby’s abdominal cavity measurement. They seemed to indicate that he’d grown from the 50th percentile a few weeks before to the 99th/100th percentile last week. So they insisted I go and get tested for gestational diabetes.

I also see a private doctor and I had 2 scans with him about the same distance apart. I had the private scan about a day after the second NHS scan (where baby had apparently grown hugely). He measured 5 times and couldn’t replicate the result. At the most, baby B was about 70-75th percentile and this was consistent with the previous scan (which the same doctor performed, unlike on the NHS where it’s different sonographers). He also said IVF babies are typically larger and he wasn’t worried. 

The test for gestational diabetes is called the Glucose Tolerance Test. You go in early in the morning after fasting for 10 hours. You have a blood test, then drink a sugary drink, sit still for two hours and then have another blood test. Does that sound like something you would actually do in real life? Umm no.

Why am I bothered about this?

Well, I haven’t had any symptoms and I don’t feel unwell in myself. I feel pretty okay really. It may seem like a major U turn but I am really anti medicalising the birth more than necessary. And this seems like they were looking for some sort of reason just to give a diagnosis because I had the extra scans (which were for anxiety, not further diagnosis!).

The only reason they’re giving me this diagnosis is because they think my baby is measuring big. Everything I’ve read is that the measurements tend not to be very reliable, and that you need to have at least 3 scans performed by the same sonographer in order to be able to make a judgement, and there’s a huge margin for error. 

I am annoyed because both NHS scans were done by different people and they weren’t really paying attention, and I could see with my own eyes they weren’t taking the same amount of care to measure accurately as the private doc was. And he did both the private scans (in fact he’s done three) and said the growth was completely consistent and he didn’t think I had GD.

What are the implications?

The main thing about GD that I’m worried about is that I will have to be induced early and possibly be pressured to have a caesarian etc. I know I previously wanted one, and this is probably the biggest U turn in the history of U turns, but now I’ve got my head around it, I really want to try and let things go naturally if possible – obviously pending any emergencies with the baby. (Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth has a lot to answer for!) 

I really would rather not have an induction or medical intervention for the only reason that they believe the baby is big. (In so many cases they’ve turned out to be wrong, and anyway, human bodies are designed to give birth to babies, even if they’re big.) I also think that early induction increases the chance of other complications / interventions and having to give birth on the ward (which I really don’t want to do) rather than the birth centre. (My absolute worst case scenario would be induction, forceps and episiotomy, which is what I wanted to avoid when I wanted a caesarian…)

I get that everyone has different views on this and they’re entitled to them. I’m not saying anyone else should choose my way or that the way I want to give birth is right for everyone. I think women should be able to choose their manner of birth if at all possible and shouldn’t be pressured to have something they don’t want, unless the baby’s in immediate danger. Right now I feel like they’re just hitting me with a diagnosis without giving me any information and basing it on inconsistent information (eg Is he 100th percentile or 70th? That makes a difference.)

What next?

I have to wait for a call back from the hospital and for them to make me start monitoring my blood sugar and recommend changes to my diet, etc. This is pretty annoying as if there’s one thing guaranteed to make me cranky, it’s going on a diet. Anyway there’s the possibility I won’t need medication but can fix it with diet. I guess I’ll have to figure it out.

I’m mainly trying not to worry unduly until I find out what is going on. They wouldn’t even tell me my reading and apparently someone will be in touch in a few days to make an appointment to see the diabetes nurse, so I guess I’ll have to wait and see what they say. 

Other stuff…

It’s my baby shower this weekend! Squeal! I’m so excited, firstly because I’m going to see my BFF (who is organising it and who lives far away) and secondly because we are having Christmas dinner in our local pub (because I’m classy like that!). Local pub means I can bring Dog, who is the important guest of honour. (Aside: Everyone keeps saying, “How is Dog going to cope?” as if they think we’re suddenly going to stop caring about him or something. Not happening. He’s my first baby.) And I loooove Christmas. It’ll be my first Christmas dinner this year!

Actually not sure how I’ll cope being the centre of attention. I usually love it, but everything’s a bit weird with how I’ve been feeling about the pregnancy and bump, but I figure I just have to go with the flow and enjoy it. I’ll be 30 weeks. We decided not to do it in December as everyone gets booked up with actual Christmas stuff instead of pretend Christmas stuff! Unfortunately as things go, my mum and sister aren’t going to be able to make it. My mum is having an operation so will be in recovery this weekend. And my sister is starting her IVF cycle 2. I told her she didn’t have to come and I wouldn’t expect that. She seems okay and I’ve been encouraging her every step of the way. Fingers crossed!

T is away this weekend on his last (for a while) boys’ holiday – not the excitement that it probably sounds, but he has a friend who has some special needs and who he takes away sometimes so a couple of them are taking him to a hotel for the weekend. It just gives his friend some time where he can feel like he has a “normal” life. (The friend has some mobility and mental health issues so wouldn’t get away otherwise.) So I will have a girls’ / Dog weekend.

I ordered our pram! Of course this has invited a load of opinions from people about how their choice of pram was the better choice and blah blah blah, but honestly I am not that interested. Like why do people feel that their choice of baby stuff needs to be taken up by everyone else? It seems a bit weird that they’re so into that. I can’t wait for them to start having an opinion on breastfeeding, daycare and crying… *sarcasm*. My parents kindly gave us the money for the pram and car seat and a little bit more which meant I was also able to order a carrier (for T) and a sling (for me) which I’m a bit excited about too!

T is busy building B’s little wardrobe – he’s doing a bespoke construction out of metal and I’ve stayed out of it as he gets some funny ideas! We have a nice collection of little clothes now and I’m sure we will have a few more before the weekend’s out! Here is the raccoon outfit we got for B in Brussels… I can’t even.


 

NaBloPoMo November 2016

Telling the ex

How much is an ex entitled to know about your life after you’ve split up?

Should you share significant information about yourself with the person you once cared most about in the world?

Would you tell your ex that you are expecting another man’s baby?

 

These are the questions that have been running through my mind ever since the arrival of baby B seemed more likely than a dream.

I have no frame of reference for this decision.

I spent a very long time with my ex – almost all my adult life – and everyone assumed we would have children. But we didn’t. It was probably one of the things that drove us apart. During our relationship, I was diagnosed with multiple problems that affected fertility. Endometriosis being the most severe. Our inability to deal with the implications of that was extremely damaging to our relationship and we split up a few years later.

When I met my partner T, we both knew we wanted to have children. As adoptees, it’s a huge thing to think that you might have a biological relative. I still can’t believe that in theory there are maybe 10, 11 more weeks before I am a mother. It seems absolutely mind-boggling. I still worry that it may not happen, that we will have another loss. That’s how pregnancy after loss differs from “normal” pregnancy. You never forget the fear.

I wonder if I owe it to my former partner to tell him. My reasons for thinking this are twofold: Firstly, I still care about him. Not in the way that I want to be with him – in fact, it seems foreign to me that we ever were together. But I suspect in some way that the information would hurt him, and I wonder if hearing it from me would be more or less hurtful. Secondly, I know that he will find out anyway. We share many of the same friends. We are blocked on social media (and anyway I have asked for a social media blackout) but it’s almost impossible for someone not to say something carelessly.

Is a relationship something that imprints upon some part of you? I believe we all carry those imprints from previous relationships, romantic or not. And I wonder how much they contribute to our ability to move on and develop new, healthier relationships. I know I took so many of the lessons from my relationship with my ex that allowed me to forge a stronger, healthier relationship with T. And I took the scars, too.

It has been a long time since we separated. A lifetime almost, even though it’s taken years for us to resolve the technicalities. I have been with T for longer than my ex and I were married, but a fraction of the time we were together. I know that now we’re no longer married, I owe him nothing in law.

But do I owe him anything morally?

NaBloPoMo November 2016

Feelings about pregnancy after loss

I’m very conscious that the tone of some of my posts has switched from infertility/loss to a cautious acceptance of pregnancy to (probably from the outside) a complete embracing of pregnancy, and I wanted to address that a bit and try to explain the whole storm in my head. Because despite what it may look like from the outside – babymoon, shopping for baby stuff, baby shower – I know that this is not a “normal” pregnancy.

I have never, ever gotten pregnant on my own. (Okay, you know what I mean!) I’ve never had an “oopsie”… I’ve never had a pregnancy scare… I’ve never felt funny one day and thought back to my last period and realised I was late. I was in a long term relationship for a really long time, during which I (and probably everyone else) thought we’d have children. But we didn’t. And before then and after then, despite being in relationships where I could have become pregnant, I never did.

We’re still not sure what caused my 10+ years of childlessness. (It certainly wasn’t lack of baby-making activity… just saying.) It wasn’t until I started blogging (I think April a year and a bit ago) that I finally started to put a name to what I had. Infertility. I kind of just thought I was a freak who didn’t deserve to have children. I was adopted, so I shouldn’t care about biological stuff anyway, right? (It turns out many adoptees do, a whole lot more than “normals”.) 

A disparate range of afflictions – heavy, painful periods, endometriosis (2 operations to clear the decks), a possible blocked fallopian tube, some polyps, a fibroid or two, some chemical imbalances – that all conspired to prevent me getting pregnant all through my twenties and most of my thirties. An ex who didn’t understand the loss I felt the first time I had an investigative laparoscopy and they found extensive endometriosis and a likelihood I wouldn’t get pregnant naturally.

Fast forward a few years. I split with my ex. I met T and I told him everything. I mean everything. By that time I was approaching mid 30s and I knew I should not get into a relationship with someone who might want kids I wouldn’t be able to give him. T being T, said, “We’ll just do IVF.” And me being me, I didn’t even raise it (and we had a nice few months of going at it like rabbits, both for fun and just in case) until T suggested it was time to make the appointment about having kids…

One blog, two cycles of IVF, about 20 different drugs, two pregnancies, one loss and one ongoing later and here we are. I’m pregnant. 28-and-a-bit weeks. We’ve just been on babymoon. We have a mini collection of tiny outfits. A plan for a baby shower. A name and a nickname. T reads to B every few nights, a story about dogs just like our Dog. B kicks appreciatively (or maybe, “Do the voices!”) and Dog snores as Dog always does, possibly unaware that he’s scheduled to get a baby brother.

I have everything I ever wanted. A T, a Dog, and a baby on the way. A house (well, a teeny flat), a job I enjoy which pays me enough money to pay for the tiny flat… a nice family and a soon-to-grow little family of my own.

And yet… I’m scared.

Here’s the thing, for those of us who’ve experienced a loss before, I think we have a sort of PTSD (and I don’t use that term lightly: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). I really thought the pain of however many years of infertility, the insensitive questions (literally a couple of days ago a friend messaged me, “Have you ever considered having children?” and if I hadn’t been pregnant, I would have felt a lot worse…), the constant pregnancy-birth-mother’s day-first-day-of-school announcements on social media were something I could deal with, because my feelings about never having a baby were so deeply buried, and it had always been thus.

And then we did our first cycle of IVF. And I got pregnant! It was amazing. It was exciting. We were optimistic. We passed those milestones – the repeated positive pregnancy tests, the ultrasounds, the little heartbeat flickering away, the… miscarriage. 

The “ball of cells”, the “at least you know you can get pregnant”, the “it happens to loads of people”, the worst pain I could have imagined, obliterating the searing physical pain which was also most definitely not “just like a heavy period”. The dismantling of plans and dreams. The going back to a horrible job with unsympathetic management. The commiserating holiday at the dream destination. Disney, the place to bring your kids… the happy place. The misery of pregnancy weight gain without the baby. The loss of hope.

And I know that what we “suffered” is experienced by hundreds of thousands of people, and others have it much worse. I never had to give birth to a dead baby. I can’t even imagine the pain of that when passing my almost-baby was so painful. I never suffered repeated losses, because it took over a decade to make it to our first pregnancy. Our first loss. I’ve never had a real live child running about who died. I know it’s not the Pain Olympics. But I also know that what feels monumental to me is smaller than what many people have dealt with. 

Maybe it’s because of this, because my decades of childlessness were more of an absence than loss, that our one hard-won loss last year hit me so hard. Because I really felt like maybe I was just not meant to have kids, maybe it would never happen, and when I got pregnant on IVF cycle 2, an ostensibly less successful cycle than cycle 1, I felt not joy but mounting fear that this would be another suckerpunch, another loss.

Pregnancy after loss is not like pregnancy, period. I see those pregnancies of friends and on social media and they’re so full of joy and excitement and that seems naive to me, like tempting fate. I saw our first baby’s heart beat. That meant we were in the tiny percentages of unlikeliness that something bad would happen… but it did. I barely slept leading up to our first scan, and I knew not to trust it. When we saw the heart beating, I cried. I don’t know whether from joy or fear. But it wasn’t the end of the anxiety and I didn’t “feel pregnant” and I didn’t rejoice. As each milestone passed – 12 weeks, 16 weeks, first kicks, T would ask me, when are you going to feel better? And I couldn’t answer him. He had to believe for the both of us.

Of course, over time, anxiety has decreased. How I feel about baby B now is nothing compared with how I felt in those first, fearful weeks. I don’t know when the anxiety moved to more manageable levels because it has been 6 months of slow, gradual reduction and trying to be as happy as others seem to be for us. All throughout this pregnancy, now in its 29th week, I have kept up this internal monologue of rationalisation… Read the stats, understand the risks… Know that every day that passes, the risk reduces. But I will never be like those carefree friends who have never suffered infertility or loss. 

What helped for me was passing the halfway mark – 20 weeks, which coincided with “coming out” to people at work (though I told my boss and HR sooner due to the legalities). It may sound crazy but as T said to me, it’s okay now to tell people as you’d want them to know if the baby died… It’s no longer a “ball of cells” or “happens to everyone”. It is an actual acknowledgeable baby. People would be able to talk about it if we lost him, instead of having to pretend that he never existed. That makes a difference, I guess. As is being treated like an obviously pregnant woman. Getting seats on public transport. Having a sympathetic doctor who took my anxiety seriously and referred me to an amazing midwife. And the biggy – feeling him kick.

People who don’t worry about pregnancy loss tell you how annoying and uncomfortable it is, but honestly, I embrace every discomfort. Even when I wake up at night with back pain, even when my body is a mess of extra chub and stretch marks, I am thankful that I am experiencing something I never thought I’d ever experience. And I’m scared now that I’ve started to dream about him, our son, that he might not get here healthy and alive. That whatever pain I felt least year about losing our first baby, it would be a thousand times worse now I’ve felt B kick, that I’ve felt my skin stretching, that we registered him at nursery and bought him little outfits, that everyone knows.

There are those little reminders. “Is this your first child?” – I always answer yes. I know that’s not strictly true, that we had another almost-child last year, that B is our “rainbow baby” – but I can’t bring myself to tell that sad story to every smiling face who asks. People congratulating us then musing about maybe trying for a baby soon. I want to scream at them, start yesterday! It might never happen! (But of course it will, straight away, because you’re not us.) People who congratulate us in a thoughtless way that triggers off all the feels. I’ve taken to saying, It took a lot to get this far. A lot of medical interventions. About 20 different drugs. So no, I won’t be having a second child. I don’t even feel confident I can get this one here safely, but those words remain unspoken, always in the back of my mind.

That friend of mine who asked me the other day if I’d ever considered having kids – she has one, and told me that they liked him so much, “We might try for a sister for him soon.” She’s in her 40s… Oh, the naïveté! Imagine being able to think, I’ll just have another one and I hope it’s a girl. Like that’s your worst likelihood. Not, I hope we can have a child. I hope my baby doesn’t die. Just, I hope we can make a sister for him, but if it’s a brother then I guess we’ll deal with it.

A girlfriend of a friend from school is around 2 weeks behind us – and they constantly post pregnancy updates on Facebook. I can’t stand them. I can’t look at their confidence and I worry for them that they don’t know the risks, and I resent that they are so blasé about it, but then I tell myself that their way of doing things is the normal way, not our way. You shouldn’t spend your pregnancy worrying that it’s going to end, that there’s not going to be a live baby. That’s just us. At Halloween she dressed her bump with blood and doll parts so it looked like a baby clawing its way out. I can’t imagine she’s ever looked at blood coming out of her and wondering which parts were her dead baby.

And part of me is jealous that it’s not me posting bumpies and milestones and cutesy pregnancy announcements (ours would be Dog and a pair of booties, now you ask). But I don’t think I could cope with the idea of unannouncing. It was bad enough last time having to unannounce to the very few people we had told. It’s almost worse having to deal with other people’s grief. Pregnancy-wise, I’m just going to lay low, off radar (well, off social media) until-when-if B is born. If he arrives safe then I will be able to tell people, this is our son! This is Dog’s little brother! I can breathe. Meanwhile, I’ll participate in the rituals of baby shower and shopping and dressing the bump and enjoying other people’s happiness for us, and I’ll try my best not to let the worries take over. Fake it till you make it. 

But until then, I will talk to my bump, feel B kick, and try and impart some reassurance to him that his mama is doing her best to keep him safe until it’s time in three months to try and get him safely into the world.

B’s future buddy, Tiger. We had been looking for a “favourite toy” for him for ages, and I spotted this tiger in a bookshop at the start of our babymoon. He’s The Tiger Who Came To Tea, from the children’s book. I love that he looks happy, and sits a bit like a yogi. I think he will make a great buddy for B.

In Bruges (28 weeks)

We had a babymoon! Which is a sentence I never thought I’d say. Basically, it was our annual holiday, but for one reason or another we hadn’t had our usual holidays this year (changing jobs, moving house, IVF…). We thought we should use this chance to get away before it became difficult for me to travel.

We live in London and I’d just had to fly long haul for work (USA) so we thought we would take advantage of the Eurostar links to mainland Europe, and head to Bruges. Neither of us had been, but it’s the kind of place where people always say, “Oh Bruges! I love Bruges!” – and it’s the capital of chocolate, so that was good enough for me.

First things first, we figured this would be the last blowout as non-parents (all things going okay, OMG, I still worry about this) so we thought we would stay the night in the St Pancras hotel (posh hotel right by the Eurostar station). It was fun! We arrived in the afternoon and went for an Italian meal and went to the spa. My doc had okayed the spa (he seems to think people get overly worried about things) so I stayed in the main pool and lay in the bubbles a bit, but stayed out of the sauna and steam room. We enjoyed the indulgence and it meant we could get up leisurely the next day, have a big breakfast and wander a few minutes to Eurostar…

St Pancras Hotel

If that staircase looks familiar to people of a certain age, it’s because the Spice Girls’ song Wannabe was recorded here! We resisted the urge to re-enact it…

 

Bruges

Well, everyone was right. It really is a very picturesque place!

The view from our balcony…

Chocolate strawberries! Followed by hot chocolate!

These robots were made out of chocolate. At a place called The Chocolate Line. There were lots more chocolate shapes for sale around Bruges, but I don’t think I can post them on the blog as they were a bit rude!

I seriously loved having breakfast every day. Our hotel was so nice!

Out and about in Bruges. Everything looked like a postcard.


This place is called The Lake of Love. It’s said if you walk across the bridge with your lover, you will have eternal love. We weren’t taking any chances so we did it! Poor T, now he’s stuck with me!

The tower from the film In Bruges, which we enjoyed watching in our hotel room… Fortunately we decided not to re-enact the film! If you’ve ever seen it, you’ll know what I mean!

The horses who take tourists round the city have regular breaks for food and water. It was quite comforting to see this. We thought we might go for a horse ride tour but decided to do it in another city (New York, central park?) which is less easy to walk around! Bruges is pretty compact so we enjoyed walking around it. Even at 6 months pregnant!

There is a place called The Beguinage where unmarried women had to live historically. You had to pick between the Beguinage or the convent. These women were allowed to work and got to live in a pretty nice place. In fact all the buildings in Bruges were very picturesque!

The Half Moon brewery. Lots of beer!

The lovely breakfast buffet in our hotel. Unlimited champagne and mounds of soft rinded cheese, both of which I couldn’t partake in whilst pregnant! Oh well. I enjoyed it nonetheless!

After we visited the Friets Museum (chips/fries museum!) and the Chocolate Museum, we headed to the Diamond Museum… We saw a demo of diamond polishing (57 surfaces!) and the vat of “diamonds” below is the number that get processed in a year!

We went for a lovely lunch at Le Pain Quotidienne. We kept finding we weren’t that hungry… We called it the Bruges effect! Maybe we have to do big breakfasts every day and forget about dinner?!

On our last full day we went for a long walk around the city. It was lovely. A beautiful autumn day…


And on our final day we found out that my favourite shop from Lille (France) had a shop in Bruges! Aux Merveilleux de Fred. “Merveilleux” I have posted about before – they are meringues sandwiched with cream and decorated with chocolate. I love them!

On our final night, we decided we were too full to have a proper dinner, so popped out to have authentic Belgian waffles instead!

On our final day we decided to take advantage of the jacuzzi bath. It was my second, and T’s first! So peaceful… It had little bubbles from the bottom of the bath, rather than jets, so I think that it was okay. I enjoyed it!

We did do a bit of shopping in Bruges and bought our first outfits together for B. (I got a couple when I was in the US, but none that we had both picked together.) Poor kid is going to be dressed for his entire childhood in a naval or animal theme! (Much like his mother on her days off.) We got a few little babygros and this nice stripey number. I actually found it quite alarming how large 3 months is! We also got a cute little outfit in Brussels on the way back. It’s a red sweater and trousers with a raccoon motif. I think T is finally realising I’ve found a whole new outlet for shopping!


And finally…

Slightly wrong order to let you have the holiday photos first, but before we left for babymoon we went to the Baby Show in London. (Dog went to his dogparents for a little holiday. We missed him so much we even bought a cushion in Bruges with a picture of a dog like him on, and slept with it on our bed, haha!) It was a bit hectic but we found it pretty useful. Mainly because we realised we had a good grasp of the things we supposedly need. And you do realise that people buy a lot of stuff for a baby! My baby shower is in a few weeks so we might get a few of the smaller things, so need to take stock after that. 

We were pretty restrained although we did get a breast pump and a storage solution (these disposable freezer bags) as I’m going to have to go back to work after a few months. I took a book on holiday The Informed Parent (A Science Based Resource for Your Child’s First Four Years) which I kept reading excerpts to T from, and we decided based on the science we definitely need to try and breastfeed B for at least 6-9 months, so at least a few months would need to be pumping and storing. They did a good offer at the show. It might not work, of course, but we’re trying to think about it in a positive way and hope it does. (Slightly alarming – maybe I’m turning into one of those Earth Mothers. Believe me you will never see me with my boobs out in public! But I’m becoming more and more into the idea of breastfeeding if I can, and attachment parenting if B will tolerate it… ha. Come back in 6 months when I’m a hippy.)

Anyway, we finally decided on the stroller! (Pushchair, pram, buggy!) The Stokke Scoot. (Ignore the horrible colours in the link… The new colours are coming out shortly. We are going for the grey in the picture below.) Funnily enough we never had even considered this manufacturer because I was familiar with their other insanely expensive Xplory model, which retails for over £1000! No really, not a typo! Also it is not that compact. I had been arguing against the super-lightweight prams that T favoured – too rickety on uneven surfaces and not comforting enough for longer rides – and T spotted this one. It’s their “compact” model. Not actually that compact but it fits in the boot (trunk!) of a car. More importantly it’s a nice cocoon for baby and suitable from birth. Hurrah for finally agreeing! Stokke is super “lifestyle” brand and they even have a magazine, so here’s the pictures from that. (I’m not Scandinavian and I can guarantee you my legs will never be that long and skinny!)

We are also excited as we have ordered our car! We didn’t have one, living in London (it’s all public transport round here) but we decided to get one so it would be easier to go and visit the grandparents and ferry B around, and also we’d be able to go and visit some further away parks with Dog. We decided to get a Nissan Qashquai. (Slightly different model than in the link but you get the picture. A good family car!) We have had a few on rentals and enjoyed them and of course more importantly Dog likes sitting in the footwell! Plus it should be easy enough to store the buggy in the car rather than hoiking it up 8 flights of stairs!

I got a notification this week that I was entering the third trimester. It is just crazy and still feels surreal. I want to believe it, and there is a great big belly hanging out on my front side, but it still feels a bit like it can’t possibly be happening to me. On the plus side, B seems to make his presence known plenty. Although he does sometimes take a while to wake up in the morning. (Like his mama.) I have more stretchies despite practically dousing myself in Bio Oil. I definitely noticed I can’t sleep as easily as I wake up with back pain and my nose is all blocked up. Apparently regular pregnancy symptoms. I guess I don’t mind that much as I figure all the discomfort and stuff is what I’ve wanted for so long. It does feel really surreal to think that everything is going to change in a few months. I like the way it is! I’m hoping the next stage is better!

Bumpie of the week… in the jacuzzi!

The end of an era (27 weeks)

Today I sold my Mid Life Crisis, as T likes to call it. What was it, you may ask? Well, in true splitting-up-and-suddenly-being-single-after-a-decade style, I bought a motorbike.

The funny thing is, nobody in my family knows I have one. My parents would kill me. Actually years ago when I was about 12 or 13, there was this bike in a mall we used to go to, and my mum used to say that I could get it when I was old enough. I used to fantasise about that bike – it was a red, white and blue Honda Cub. A quick google throws this up:


The object of my youthful desire

Needless to say, when I reached the age (I think it was 16 or 17 or something) my mother denied ever saying I could have a motorbike.

So years and years and years later, I found myself suddenly single after a very long term relationship and I got a bit nihilistic and thought, you know what, I’m going to learn how to ride a motorbike.

In the UK, to ride anything less than 125cc (piddly!) you only need to do Compulsory Basic Training (CBT, confusingly the same acronym as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, which is probably what you need when you have a mid life crisis). It’s a day of training and you don’t really pass or fail so much as have to complete the whole day (although someone did get sent home for being too rubbish – not me, I hasten to add) and then you get a certificate to ride anything 125cc or under.

As a pushbike rider for years, it was fairly easy to get the hang of CBT and obviously in my nihilistic, don’t care if I live or die state, I decided to buy a motorbike. I mean, if you can’t get a bike when you’re 30-something and newly single, I don’t know when you can.

I bought the coolest looking 125cc I could find, which was a Yamaha YBR 125. By this time I’d grown out of my youthful colours and turned semi-goth (like, I wear a lot of black but it’s more through laziness at colour matching than a lifestyle choice) so the natural choice was the Bat-bike. For a 125 little thing it looks pretty cool. Also, I’m very small so it didn’t look piddly – it actually looks like a proper bike rather than a learner.


Oh yeah…

I did love riding my bike. For one thing, it’s much more of a fun ride than a moped (which is what you do CBT on, to increase the likelihood of you passing). It’s faster and a lot more visceral. You lean into the turns. And you do feel super cool riding around on a motorbike. Or at least I did. (Also you get mega kudos points with people who are super impressed at the idea of a girl riding a motorbike, which is a bit silly as it’s basically just a less effort bicycle. But hey.)

I used to ride across London to see my friends. It’s much quicker to get across town instead of taking the tube if you’re going a certain way. And it’s more pleasant, unless it’s raining. There’s something really exhilarating about being on a motorbike. It’s hard to describe except for you’re flying. Of course it’s a bit dangerous but at the time I didn’t really care if I lived or died.

And then I met T. Of course, I did use mention of the motorbike as a bit of a chat up line in the early stages of our relationship. Thing is, you can’t really go out together on it as you can’t take a pillion passenger until you’ve passed the full test (allowing you to ride bigger bikes) and T didn’t have a bike, and anyway we were too busy doing fun stuff to be pootling about London on motorbikes.

Within a few months we had moved in together and got Dog, and then there was even less reason to go out biking! I mean, go out and try and avoid getting in an accident or hang out with The Cutest Dog In The World (and boyfriend, ahem). It’s a non starter.

Which is why my lovely bike was transplanted from flat to flat, never really doing much other than sitting around feeling sorry for itself. (Why’s nobody riding me? I’m sure it was saying.)

And then I got pregnant, and there was even less reason to own a motorbike.

So… I probably would have let it sit around mouldering but it was taking up our parking space and we’re planning on getting a car for when B the baby arrives. And T, ever the practical accountant, suggested I sell it. So today, a guy came from a dealer to come and see it. They’d made an original offer that was more than I was really expecting, so when they knocked £100 off for the rusty chain and wear and tear and the flat battery, I really couldn’t be bothered to haggle. In the van it went, and a few hundred quid went into my account. We will have a splash out meal on babymoon and we’ll buy a lot of chocolate!

The way I see it, I would have paid for another year of insurance and not used it. It’s not like I’m strapping on B and going out for a spin! And Dog has never shown himself to be anything like Gromit in Wallace & Gromit so I don’t think he’ll be donning a crash helmet any time soon. So it was time for the bike to go.

Goodbye bike… Hello new life!


Me and Dog      Wallace and Gromit

Updates this week:

  • Saw my lovely midwife. Invited her to my baby shower! Haha. Apparently I’m measuring 29 weeks on bumpage (the midwife measures the size of bump each time) which is a bit crazy but explains why my bump feels so huge and possibly why I felt so tired last week. She said not to worry unless it’s more than 2 weeks ahead.
  • I finished up my antibiotics for UTI #2 – not sure if I mentioned it. Apparently it’s very common and I don’t really have any symptoms apart from I feel like I need to go to the loo a lot. She sent off another sample to test. Also I had bloods taken. She said maybe I’m tired just because of pregnancy, or maybe it’s gestational diabetes or I have low iron. I’ve been taking Pregnacare ever since I was told there’s no iron in the NHS supplements! I still feel tired though. This may be because I have been up late a bit due to being busy with work and also not having time to eat all day, which is probably not helping.
  • Tonight was our big team event which I organised. It went soooo well, better than I could even have imagined, and the boss was very happy with me, which is awesome. (I love organising events and I love making presentations so this combined the two – I didn’t deliver the presentation, just put it together and made 100+ people laugh, so that was good.) We hired a huge arcade which included free play arcade/video games, air hockey, bowling, ping pong, pool, DJ, buffet and free bar. Everyone was pretty happy. The team is mainly men so it appealed to them! Was funny not to be drinking but I still had a great time. Also now I’m “out” at work, all the guys are actually really nice about it, asking about the baby and so on. It’s so much different from my last company where there were nice people but also a lot of horrible people (generally the ones in charge) – I’m so glad I moved, even if it means I get no maternity pay!
  • Holiday starts tomorrow – whoop whoop! Thankfully I get to work from home tomorrow as I was up so late getting the presentation done and I tend to do that on Fridays. Our friends are coming to pick up Dog (boooo) and then Saturday we are off to the Baby Show – eek! Sunday we are treating ourselves to a stay in a posh hotel with a spa before heading off on Eurostar to Bruges on Monday for our babymoon! Chocolate week! I can’t wait. It’s crazy to think that after that it’s baby shower in November, then Christmas, then B’s 0th birthday! (T keeps reciting these and includes at the end “followed by four months off”… I think he thinks babies are a walk in the park!) So many exciting things to look forward to. I already feel crazily lucky just to be able to spend time with my two favourite guys, T and Dog.
  • Baby B has been kicking up a storm lately. Sometimes I think he is saying, Mama I’m hungry! (when I’m at work all day and so busy I don’t have time to eat anything) or Mmmm sugar! (when I eat something sweet which they’ll probably try and tell me is giving me gestational diabetes) or maybe he’s just making his presence known because he’s an attention seeker like his mother. Either way there is little that makes me feel better right now than snuggling up to Dog, hanging out with T, and feeling B kick up a storm in my belly.