6

The moment where I shouted, “Help!”

Let’s get things straight, panic is nothing new for me. I have panicked since I was a very little girl about everything and if you have met me you’d probably laugh and say, “Don’t be daft! You are one of the most confident and cheerful people I’ve ever met!”

The thing is it isn’t that simple. I’m a bloody good actress- my coping strategy is to be a hard-working ray of sunshine and I’ve pulled this off for years. There is a level of professionalism too- I cannot allow my job to be damaged by my mental health as when working with kids, it’s never a good idea to have a panic attack mid-lesson with a group of 5 year olds. Today, that very nearly happened- thankfully, there were no kids around as I was on PPA but I sat at my desk and had a bit of a breakdown.

I think I’ve been cruising for a bruising for a while. For a start, I have meant to update here more often as I’ve hit major landmark dates but I’ve felt words slipping out of my grip. *ALERT* MAJOR SIGN THAT THINGS ARE BUILDING UP */ALERT* 28 Weeks has been and gone. 29 weeks, I didn’t do a bump pic. The scary Time Team meeting hasn’t been documented (five or six mental health care professionals/midwives/obstetric consultants in a consulting room and me. FUCKING TERRIFYING). The first NCT group this week where I was questioned on my breast feeding ideology…

My bounciness is also to hide my sheer level of paranoia as well. I have a wild imagination and am very prone to anti-fantasies. So what actually happens is not what I feel I have experienced at the time. A good example of this is my 14 week check with the obstetrician where she told me that she couldn’t hear a heartbeat and I needed a scan. The thing is what she actually said was, “I can’t hear a heartbeat but it’s because the baby is moving away from the monitor every time I press the doppler on your stomach. Don’t worry, even though I can see you are. We will scan you so that you feel more confident as I don’t want you to go home and panic about this.” To me, the lack of heartbeat was game over. So yes, what actually happens and what I think is the case are not the same thing!

Over half term, we started on the nursery. Bit of a disaster- the emulsion we used on the walls bubbled the paint underneath so we ended (read as Paul did the majority) up stripping the paint off. Even though Paul was here, we worked like trojans last week trying to get as much done as possible. This meant that we barely had five minutes together as we were running around like headless chickens trying to get everything done. If you follow me on instagram, you’ll know how far we’ve got- i.e. not very. I have a big box of stuff for the nursery- cushions, wall stickers, bumpers, quilts to start making it pretty but they are all wrapped in plastic waiting for a nursery that is a mile off being done. Don’t get me wrong, I’d much rather that I’d be in this pickle with the nursery and be getting stressed by the lack of progress than not be in the position of being able to start making one!

We were also going to go and get all the big bits for the Blobster with my mum from the dreaded John Lewis. I’ve written about my bad times with JL and coincidences with mcs and how much I hate having to walk through the fucking kids section to get into the cafe (those of you who have been to Bluewater will get this!). However due to the rush and my mum going on holiday, this wasn’t able to happen so still no pram/ cot/ changing table/ wardrobe/ changing bag.

During half term, we were also meant to go and see Blob for the re-scan after she went all shy at 24 weeks and didn’t want to show us her face. On Wednesday, at 9pm, I got a call from the clinic to say that the scanner was broken and they wouldn’t be able to scan me. They were very good and managed to fit me in this Saturday whereas normally they wouldn’t re-scan on a weekend.

My mum and step-dad have popped back down to Devon with Harvey, their springer, pointer cross. He’s very active and as I’ve mentioned before, Hattie, their basset, is very elderly and has dementia so isn’t really fit for going for cross terrain walks and long dinners in pubs. We’ve had her stay several times now- one of the times she taught Max how to break into other people’s gardens through broken fences (bassets are notorious Houdinis). My step dad dropped her off last Friday along with a beautiful free crib we’ve been given by a friend of a friend.

So the week didn’t start too badly. She went a few days without accidents and managed her tablets well and I started back at work on Monday. Got into work and found that the massive amount of work I had done for school had been lost. I had a meeting that evening with senior leadership and was utterly terrified that it would reflect badly. I told the head and whilst she wasn’t impressed, the people who run the online application explained to her that it had probably saved to my home browser (who knew that was a thing?!)- thankfully it was there when I finally turned on my computer at 10pm that night and I was able to save them all on word documents.

So Tuesday came around and after a big meeting to fill in more of the form, I then hotfooted it to Blackheath to make the first NCT group meeting (parent craft). I don’t think I had really allowed myself to process the thought of going to these sessions and found it much harder than I thought I would. It was quite overwhelming and difficult- all these smiling pregnant people (or so it seemed- remember, I am an unreliable narrator like Stevens in Remains of the Day) and their happy partners. After spending so long staying away from pregnant people as if they had the plague, I’m sat in a room full of them! Was also expecting to need to hit that cancellation before having to actually attend them. It also finished at almost a quarter to ten so very late when I’d been up at half five, done a full day of phonological assessments of Year 6 kids and that bloody form!

That night, Hattie got me up two hours before my alarm with her squeaking. I think she forgets what time it is and freaks when she wakes in an unfamiliar place. I went down and did the thing where you don’t interact with them and just do the thing they require and leave them again, so I opened the back door, let the dogs out, refilled their water and went back to bed. This was then repeated last night as well- so each night I’ve had about 3-4hours sleep.

This morning, it all just hit me. I came down to Hattie and she’d had several accidents. I felt groggy and the panic was rising- I struggle with body fluids other than blood. Blood I can deal with- guts hanging out- all that jazz but not vomit or wee. Poo is fine outside but not in the house otherwise I’m gag city. She’d only done a couple of wees but I struggled to clear it up and basically freaked out. How am I going to be able to cope with a baby who does nothing but cry, wee and poo all times of the day and night if I can’t cope with a basset with dementia?

So after Paul woke up and looked after me, making me a tea and getting me to sit down before I left for work. He asked whether I should be going in- apparently I said that I had an important meeting and had to be there rather than made any comment on how I was feeling. After saying how rough I was feeling, I had a wave of support from the gorgeous twitterati who gave me the facts about maternity rights and just generally cheered me on my way to work. I got in quite a lot later than I normally do, went to the meeting and was fine until I went into the art room and shut the door. Everything went very swirly and I couldn’t really work out what to do and I knew it was a panic attack. Before it got too big, I managed to search out the number for my midwife (a mental health specialist) who calmly talked me down. She asked me to ring Paul(I had no intention of ringing him-he had his own work to do), told me that she’d visit in the evening and that if it got worse, I was to go to A&E for an assessment. She also talked me into speaking to my Head.

I was terrified of talking to her. A few weeks previous, I’d been asked to go in and have an informal chat about all the days I’d missed through sickness (most were explained by maternity or the time she’d already agreed  for me to go to Canada) so I was worried about saying that I needed some time out. I needed have worried. I walked in, red eyed and shaking like a leaf-she was busy trying to organise learning walks with outside agencies but she instantly dropped that, sat me down and rang Paul. She then took me for a quick walk in the park to try and get my breathing calmer which did work quite well and she told me how awful her post natal depression had been. It was so good to hear that actually someone had made it out the other side and was a successful head with two healthy children. I felt a bit ridiculous making such a fuss and pulling people’s attention away from their work but both my Head and Paul kept telling me off for apologising.

Once we got home, I was banished to the sofa and made to rest whilst Paul bustled round with drinks, cleaning and turned on bad tv for me. He then sat with me for a bit stroking my hair and asking about what I fancied doing tomorrow (he’s taken tomorrow off too to make sure I’m ok), asking about perhaps getting things together for my hospital bag and organising what times he’d work on in the nursery. I then fell fast asleep and slept for a couple of hours solidly until I woke up shivering (all the windows and doors were open to dry the floors that Paul had washed!) about five minutes before Paul and Max came back from the woods. We then sat watching early Friends episodes before the midwife turned up at 5ish. When she came, Paul got busy making drinks in the kitchen so I could chat to her by myself. He then came in later and gave his view of what happened and said, “I’m so glad that Kirstie rang me and that I’m here to hear  some of what Sarah’s saying to you as I know she wouldn’t have said how bad she was feeling to me.” I felt really bad then. I try not to bother people with my level of crazy but I hadn’t realised that I’d been bottling things up so badly.

I also sobbed when I said how hard I’d found the NCT classes. My midwife said that she can do one to one sessions to alleviate my stress levels but I feel like I’ve owned up to my fear aloud now and Paul has heard it so he can help me in the next session and I can be a bit more aware of how I’m feeling. A little kinder to myself instead of trying to just bury everything.

So the deal right now is for me to be off work tomorrow to catch up with some sleep and ring the local mental health services to see what their phone assessment comes out as. I have a psych appointment as a result of the fucking scary mental health assessment last month next week and the midwife wants to check in with me to make sure I’m doing ok. If I’m not doing great by then, the idea is to start a course of fluoxetine to start to pick up my mood and make it a little easier to cope. Apparently it’s fine in pregnancy and if I breastfeed so no issues there.

I am feeling very grateful and am utterly overwhelmed by the love and support I’ve had from Paul, my twitter family, my Head and my midwife. I fell to pieces a bit today but everyone made sure I was glued back together pretty quickly. Thank you x

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14

What is your problem?

I was going to start this blog with an apology but I’m not sure who it’s really directed to! Realistically, it is nothing more than a minor irritation at my inability to update here more often. Maybe I should apologise for the random confusedness of it all.

So, I am now at 24 weeks and 3 days gestation. There was a genuine relief that came with passing the 20 week scan with flying colours and I started to believe that there would be a baby at the end of this…sort of. I say sort of, as I don’t think it really hit until yesterday.

I’m going to have a baby.

There is going to be a baby in our house.

Paul is going to be a dad and I am going to be a mum.

It may seem pathetic to some but I’ve only ever really had three things that I’ve wanted in life:

  1. To be a teacher. (Eight years later, despite the odd wobble, I am still doing it.)
  2. To get married to an incredible man. (A week on Monday, it will be two years together!)
  3. To have a baby.

That’s it. All I have ever wanted. Holidays, cars, large bank accounts, massive amounts of exotic travel have never held anything over me. Just those three things and they are very close to coming to fruition. Whilst this makes me happier than beyond my wildest dreams and the level of gratitude for reaching this current point in my pregnancy is utterly earth shattering, I also feel helplessly frightened. I’ve come so far past the recurrent miscarriages that I feel very lost and confused as to what to do next. I’m used to losing my babies within the first 12 weeks and the thought of losing the one, who is currently kicking me, is utterly paralysing. To lose the baby now would be a stillbirth, not a D&C or cramps over a toilet bowl. I’ve felt this baby kick me, seen its heart beating and seen its skeletal structure. With all of the others, I never got to see those things and so obviously, apart from more time, I have a lot more invested in this one. Said it before but it is still true; I am waiting for someone to tell me that it’s all over.

Due to this belief, I didn’t really do anything. In fact, apart from writing lists and buying a triceratops rattle, I haven’t really done anything. Yes, I have booked and joined the NCT! That’s it though. Then I hear that others have started buying the important things or reading books. The reading books made me search for the best in baby books and I ended up with Mumsnet’s book (that I read cover to cover) and an Aussie one- Baby Love (or something like that), which told me not to read it cover to cover. The Mumsnet one had me crying with laughter over some of the quips left by Mumsnetters- one such classic was about how you should not try to dry your nipples with a hairdryer. Yes, if you have a fungal infection due to breastfeeding, do not take a hairdryer to your nipples as it may hurt. There were bits that I skipped, like co-sleeping- it  is a battlefield in our bed every night for both covers and space, let alone the thought that we would try to share it a third way, safely! There are things that I will definitely give a go, like breastfeeding as I’ve been brought up to believe that if you can, it really is best. There are things like slinging that I’d like to have a go at but given the fact that I have MAHOOSIVE boobs and a bad lower back, I need to do some more research into. It also made me realise that I really know very little and it’s all very well people saying that you learn as you go along BUT MY BRAIN DOESN’T WORK LIKE THAT! I do research and weigh up pros and cons, not hope that it’s ok as you go.

So I’ve read a single book. That’s it. It’s also opened up more questions but I’m frightened of the fact that books like that are a bit DO THIS OR YOUR BABY WILL DIE/ BE AN ADDICT/ BE A BAG OF NEUROSES so I’m scared of reading any more.

As for the important stuff, my mum used to look after people’s animals in their homes whilst they were away on holiday during a break from nursing that she took whilst my brother was growing up. There was a house that we went to a few times  who had an empty plastic coated nursery. A heap of baby things in the centre of the room covered in plastic sheeting. The woman, whose cats we looked after, had lost her baby quite far along. That scene has stayed cemented in my mind for a very long time. The dusty plastic covered stuff waiting for the baby that didn’t come home from the hospital. I’m not superstitious about having baby stuff in the house- I don’t feel that having it will jinx things as I don’t believe in jinxes but it’s frightening as it makes it real. The baby clothes that I used to put on blinkers to be able to walk past, I now have to think about buying. I’m thinking about getting some of the furniture too- like the Moses Basket/ crib (another thing that scares me as everyone likes something different and something different suits different babies.) That makes sense to me- if Blob arrives early, it’ll need somewhere to sleep.

I currently have:

  • Red triceratops rattle
  • knitted booties
  • knitted cardi
  • knitted hat
  • a pack of vests
  • a sleeping bag
  • a bunny holding a comforter toy
  • a nightshirt (elasticated at the bottom for  easy nappy access)
  • A baby hat
  • some free stuff from Bounty

Everything apart from the free stuff and the rattle has been either made or bought by my mum. I haven’t even finished the henceforth known Bloody Rainbow Blanket. I have two more stripes to do but cannot bring myself to finish it. Car seats? Decorating the huge empty room? Travel systems? Nope.

I’ve left Twitter for a bit of a brain break too. Whilst I am so wobbly, I don’t think it’s a good idea to be somewhere that although incredibly supportive, can be incredibly cruel. I did get a load of notifications telling me to come back soon and not to worry, that I’d be a great mum.

That’s it. That’s what I’m so scared of. That I’m going to fail and be useless. When I said how anxious I was to Paul last night, he said that we weren’t going to be perfect and that’s ok. In my head, that’s not good enough. I’m not only waiting for the baby to be taken away from me but I’m waiting for someone to tell me that once Blob arrives, that I am an unfit mother.

Paul has just started to imagine us doing things with Blob. At the weekend, it was my niece’s birthday and on the way home we discussed how lovely it’ll be to do the cousin stuff with her (most awesome little girl ever). Also, the thought of going to the places we loved as children like the Natural History Museum. He sent me some photos of Downing street and Buckingham Palace today (from his lunch break), I said that it’ll be wonderful to be able to do that with Blob and then tried desperately not to sob. I’ve always thought whilst taking kids on school trips that I’d love to do it with my own child and now that it’s close to becoming a reality, it’s also very alarming at its closeness.

All in all, I’m glad that the midwife and the mental health team are next week. We’re also hoping to do a scan this or next weekend to see how Blob is doing. Might just make the bad voices inside my head shut up and settle down.

1

So time to move on?

Hahaha! I may have moved my blog(after constant complaints of not being able to comment on posts from mainly wordpress bloggers!) but I still can’t move on from the question titles. For just over a year, I’ve posted on One Day, Baby?, which was my blog that dealt with my five miscarriages, being genetically wonky and the start of our journey towards using PGD to get our one day baby. I’ve also decided to create a new blog as the content in here could be triggering for those still trying to become pregnant.

So, we ended up not going to that appointment with the geneticist to start the IVF because on the 15th of May 2014, I peed on a stick and it instaneously came up with a big fat positive. For most people, this is a moment of joy but for someone with repeat pregnancy loss, your first thought is, “Here we go again.” A text message to Paul with a picture of the pregnancy test and “Oh shit” followed before I went to sit in a blurry staff meeting.

The first pee stick. No denying that blue line, it's stronger than the control line!

The first pee stick. No denying that blue line, it’s stronger than the control line!

Paul was understandably worried about me. I’d barely dragged my ass through the past 18months and here we were again. For some reason, from the start he felt this was it and we would get a baby from it. I thought I hid it well but apparently I threw him a death stare when he said this! Too many people had said that they had every faith in another one of my pregnancies and they didn’t make it so when husband number one says something, I wanted to strangle him!

I felt a little sick, extraordinarily tired and my boobs felt like they were about to explode so I did some maths and worked out that I would be coming up to 5 weeks so I peed on a clever stick the following weekend to make sure that my dates were matching and it wasn’t a chemical.

 

 

Yup, them dates match nicely!

Yup, them dates match nicely!

They did. Very nicely. I was looking for a three week plus sign and there it was! So I tried to carry on as normal- I rang the following week to book an appointment for the half term holidays to see the GP and ask them for a scan at the EPU later in the week as I would be around 7weeks on the Friday. Paul wasn’t able to come and so Kat stepped in and held my hand as I shook and panicked. So many faces of the staff had I seen before. This time there was a heartbeat.

Blob measuring 6 weeks and 6 days.

Blob measuring 6 weeks and 6 days.

I can’t really describe the relief of seeing that first ever heartbeat. I knew I wasn’t out of the woods by any stretch but the moment I saw that tiny flickering light, there was a sliver of hope that I’d never felt before. This hope lasted for another week and a half, in fact, right to the middle of my school’s OFSTED inspection. I woke up at 3am and went for my middle of the night pee and as I wiped, there was blood. I sat there and sobbed for a good half an hour. Paul hadn’t come to bed that night-he was dozing in the other bedroom and I felt guilty trying to wake him up so I lay awake chatting to the girls on twitter who were doing their best to calm me down as I worried about my sixth loss. I went to work and was promptly sent home again by a very caring Head and Deputy who wanted me checked out so I rang the GP from the back of the taxi. He wasn’t exactly the most caring or understanding GP but allowed me to have another scan the following day. Paul still remained calm and positive even though I felt as though I was falling apart. He said that he’d never seen me so frightened as she scanned me again. She couldn’t find the reason for the bleed and baby’s heart was still beating away!

Blob at the 9 week mark

Blob at the 9 week mark

After the drama of the ninth week, I ended up seeing so many landmark dates that I had never met before- I got to meet a midwife- who, poor lady, had to start writing my notes up in her lunch break as my medical notes were so extensive! I got my pregnancy notes and Bounty pack- something I have never managed to reach before.

Maternity notes and freebies! I was only brave enough to put the hand gel in my bag- Max has since eaten the sudocrem pack...

Maternity notes and freebies! I was only brave enough to put the hand gel in my bag- Max has since eaten the sudocrem pack…

After I had my midwifery appointment, I thought maybe it would be time t try and find out through a blood test whether my pregnancy would be genetically viable as after all, that was what had caused so many losses before. On ringing the clinic that offered it, I found out that they couldn’t do the test on me due to my wonky genes so I rang Guys to postpone my appointment for PGD and ask them what I should do next. They advised not going for my dating and nuchal at my local hospital and to come to St Thomas’ instead who could also do a CVS. A CVS is where they suck up some of the placenta through a big needle that they stick in your belly and they test it for genetic abnormalities. I started to freak out big time around the time of the weekend before the scan and CVS. Anyway, I had to get a dress for my cousin’s wedding and had a terrible time trying to find one as non-maternity wasn’t quite right and maternity was too big! I was also a little superstitious about buying maternity before my 12 week scan. Be awful if I had to take it back a week later. I ended up in Monsoon looking for something to cover my arms and fell in love with a dress which was utterly perfect. As I walked out of the dressing room, Paul’s and my first dance song was playing and then on the way home, I saw the most beautiful rainbow across the road from where we live.

A little ray of hope!

A little ray of hope!

The day crept closer. I became more anxious. In fact, I didn’t want to go home after work on the Monday night. The next day arrived. As we came out of Westminster station, Big Ben began to chime which reminded me of being a child and my dad driving me into London to hear the peals before bedtime. We then made a slow walk into the hospital and up to the eighth floor where we sat in a claustrophobic waiting room where I sobbed and almost vomited whilst all the other mums-to-be sat there grinning and serene. Within a couple of minutes, we went to through to the doctor and the nurse who would undertake my scan and CVS. It was a big room with a lot of big screens and monitors- I was shaking like a leaf and she then started scanning me. That heartbeat? Yep, it was still there throbbing away and I got to hear it! Nuchal translucency came back at 1.6mm and when anything up to 3mm is fine, I was pretty happy with that! I then had the CVS- I’m not going to lie to you- it hurts like a bitch! They numb your skin but the needle doesn’t just go into the skin-it also goes through your stomach wall and into your uterus. They don’t numb those bits! I had to have it twice as the first sample wasn’t enough so for the past two weeks I’ve had a mofo bruise on my tummy! Two days later, I got the all clear genetically. I have no words to describe that moment other than it catapulted us into a scary situation that this Blob might make it to being a baby.

Blob at 12 weeks. It's blurry as I was giggling and blob was dancing on the screen!

Blob at 12 weeks. It’s blurry as I was giggling and blob was dancing on the screen!

So where am I now? In my second trimester and about to go and see an obstetrician to check that there is nothing else going on. I’m still terrified. I still check the toilet tissue every single loo trip. I am waiting to lose the baby on a daily basis because how come I’ve got this far and the others didn’t? It’s also mega scary without many symptoms. I’m also in a weird place as people are treating it like there should be a baby in January and I’m still very scared that there won’t be.There’s this weirdness of saying, “Oh this time next year…” and as soon as I catch myself saying it, I want to cut my tongue off as I fear I’ve cursed it all.

Silly, I know!