“But now you’re just like everybody else”

“You’re not IVF anymore, you’re just like everybody else”.

These are the words that came out of my mother-in-law’s mouth last week. I have to say that I couldn’t disagree more, and it stirred up a lot of old emotions relating to people just not getting it.

I’m currently 36 weeks (on the month countdown now!) and I apologise for being so absent. I realise I’ve got a lot of catching up to do with so many of your blogs.

Generally speaking, things have been fairly straightforward – I have had to leave work much earlier than expected due to Pelvic Girdle Pain (who thought back pain could be so excruciating…) and have had a few growth scans as the bump has been pretty static over the last month so god knows where this baby is hiding itself, as it seems to be growing satisfactorily!

Every single day though, I count my blessings. I realise how grateful I am that IVF exists; that it was financially accessible to us; that we drew the long straw in the Russian roulette that each cycle is; that despite the few scares along the way, this baby is healthy and is very nearly fully cooked. I will NEVER forget how being a fertility patient feels (I may well be one again sometime in the future), and I find it insulting, the suggestion that that is all in the past and can therefore be dismissed.

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Mother-in-law’s little episode came amidst news that the NHS is going to be dramatically cutting funding for fertility treatments. For those of you outside of the UK, the NHS is AMAZING, and we are incredibly lucky to have it. Our tax contributions as a nation fund pretty much entirely free healthcare (I say pretty much as things like prescriptions for medications are charged at around £8.50 flat-rate for each med, and dental treatment again has a flat rate depending on what you’re having done – so these are not free but heavily subsidised). NHS Trusts around different regions of the UK manage their own budgets to an extent, and some novel treatments, like new cancer drugs, and things like fertility investigations/treatments are offered variably, depending on whether they’re deemed to be cost-justified, and this is a postcode lottery. Where I live, I am funded for fertility investigations, but no treatment at all. 20 miles down the road, a couple will get THREE FREE cycles of IVF on the NHS. In another region 7 miles down the road, a couple will get one cycle.

However, with many billions of pounds savings that need to be made, these few areas that do offer IVF currently will likely soon be withdrawing it, as it is classified as “non-essential”.

My husband and I debated the justness of this – why, when a healthy couple who look after themselves and both work and pay into the system, is it fair to be denied access to treatment on the NHS because it’s not clinically necessary for a couple to have a family? Why does an unemployed obese, smoking diabetic get his emphysema, his diabetic complications, his heart disease treated free of charge when he’s made life choices that lead to his clinical condition?

So hard to get your head round, isn’t it?

Is honesty the best policy??

Usually, when I blog, I sit and write from the heart, and have no hesitation clicking the “publish” button.

My last post was different. I read it, and re-read it, and then saved it, and then came back to it, and then thought “to hell with it, this is how I’m feeling” and released it to the blogosphere.

That night, I lay in bed with some serious guilts. I felt like a truly awful human being – selfish, unkind and juvenile. There were hardly any comments, which, exacerbated by my state of paranoia, made me think that nobody else ever felt this way and so there was something wrong with me. I actually considered taking the post down. Why? Because my blogging community is full of people whom I’ve come to really respect and admire. I worried that everybody would lose their respect for me.

But, a comment from a fellow blogger made me think, “if I can’t be candid and honest on my own blog, where can I be?”.

Over the past few years, I’ve often sat in front of the computer, in tears, and find the process of writing extremely healing and really quite cathartic. So much so, that I leave the computer feeling stronger, more rational and ready to crack on with life. Even more so, when the comments start piling in!

So how honest should we all be? Is it a problem when we start blogging as an escape from the judgement of family/friends but then fear being judged by our online community?

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Update (22+0) and Family Foibles

It feels like ages since I’ve sat down to write a post. I guess I found it easier to write from a place of frustration, anger and worry, than a place of relative peace. I also never intended for this to be a pregnancy blog (although I have been keenly following other blogs! – just a personal choice) so I haven’t wanted to log on to provide everybody with a symptoms list, or bump photos.

Generally speaking, everything is going as well as we could wish for it to be. The anomaly scan was a drawn-out process (2 hours in total, on and off the couch!) because of some unhelpful positioning from Baby Bean, but all is well. In the sonagrapher’s words, we have a “perfect baby” 🙂

Sometimes I have to pinch myself – I can’t believe it’s happening. I’m allowing myself to start buying little things, here and there, to help spread the cost over the next few months. When i say “little things”, i really do mean little. Like, purchases around the £10 mark. There is still this horrid pessimistic side that will not allow me to fork out £800 on a pram or £400 on furniture with 18 weeks still to go.

My own mother died having me, and as this pregnancy progresses, I’m starting to think more and more about labour and the delivery. There’s a silly, irrational cognitive process that spirals into thoughts that I, too, won’t make it out of Delivery Suite (or Baby Bean won’t). Logically, I know this is utter rubbish, but on a bad day, the fear is very, very real. Luckily these days are few and far between and I hope it stays this way.

A little wobble occurred yesterday…

My new nephew is just over 2 months old, and is the apple of every family member’s eye (apart from mine). As I have said before (and read similar stories on fellow bloggers’ posts), I am shocked at how little my feelings towards this poor baby have altered, despite being pregnant myself. I am certain that every negative thought and feeling stems from my own worries and concerns, mixed up with a bit of hormonal turmoil, and not helped by the fact that he is (and will forever be) associated with my IVF cycle failing.

I’ve been pretty busy at work, and have been keeping strange hours, which have seen me physically distanced from my family of late, but my husband slightly pressured me into turning up to a family birthday-do after work this Sunday. The whole family was there, new baby included. I let myself into my mother-in-law’s house, and walked into the garden where they were all sitting, and I kind of freeze-framed what I saw. A very happy, completely content family. All 3 brothers together, playing football with their step-nephews, WAGs at the table happily chatting away, with my mother-in-law cradling her new grandson, everyone cooing over him and fussing him. It was a bit like some kind of sickening advert for something that would require a “perfect” family, like for a BBQ set or lawn feed and weed.

I don’t think I’ve ever felt so on the periphery of my family. My family that seemed to be doing just fine without me. I could feel the tears welling up, and I fumbled my way through the next half an hour before I made my excuses to leave.

I think I’m being stupid, and oversensitive, and childish. But I want things back to the way they were pre-grandchild.

General Update (18+4)

Before I begin prattling on, I have been reading some really sad news from some of you in my Reader recently – some of you have failed IVF cycles, and others have had that magical BFP (some of you for the first time) just to experience a loss a few weeks later. My heart truly goes out to you all and I wish that there was a plaster big enough for broken hearts.

When I read your posts, I can’t help but feel such admiration at the way that you find the strength and determination to press on. I know that this is something that I have drawn upon time-after-time over the past year or so.

I don’t want this blog to turn into a purgatory for any of my followers – I know how hard I found the pregnancy updates in my Reader last year, and I have to say, I was a little guilty of doing the “unfollow” on bad days.

The rest of the post is a bit of a catch-up from the last few weeks. No offence taken if you stop here.

As is usual for me, life has taken hold and kept me away from my laptop, but in a good way! In the sense that I am *starting* to relax a little, and enjoy nurturing this baby bean. I have days where I have (what I am sure are) fetal movements – the flutters, and “wriggles” – and I’m finding it really reassuring. But they are infrequent, and unpredictable, so the Doppler is still ever-present on the bedside table, for a pre-sleep check. It’s turning into a bit of a routine, ending with my other half falling asleep with his hand on my tum 🙂

On the subject of the hand-on-the-tum, I’ve been – what I can only describe as – GROPED, by several patients/staff colleagues this last week. Now, I’m not prudish in the slightest, and a bit of hands-on from somebody I know and am friendly with is fine. And it is LOVELY to be on the receiving end of, “isn’t that bump growing!?” comments. But, what makes total strangers feel that it is okay to start feeling somebody’s belly?! Really!!?

Anyway, I digress.

I’m also continuing to have what I assume are growing pains – occasional mild cramping and then excruciating sharp stabs when I turn over awkwardly at night, or get up from a seated position. Sometimes, the fetal movements can even feel a little uncomfortable, like “pushing” (not sure if this is meant to be the case!).

I have also developed this really strange urge to clear the house of clutter and unused objects. I’m a bit of a clean freak,  but also a little “hoardy” (providing it’s not in sight!). My Dad was a massive hoarder and would always see potential in the contents of somebody else’s rubbish. I’m sure this is a product of his habit. But lately, I just don’t want it anymore – I’m systematically going through wardrobes and drawers and filling charity bags and bin bags. My other half thinks it’s a “nesting” thing.

I’ve been reading some fellow-bloggers’ food-related posts, and, oh my gosh, you guys put me to shame. I’m eating complete and utter rubbish, punctuated by a few bits of fruit per day (though as my husband pointed out, my diet is probably nowhere near as bad as some – I like to think of it as “middle-class junk food”). Similarly, on the exercise-front, my eight-hour stints in ED are probably the only cardio I’m getting. I’m not a natural gym bunny, and I don’t fancy sustaining an injury that = excruciating-pain-with-no-means-of-taking-decent-pain-relief, because my body isn’t accustomed to the workout it in its pre-pregnant state (or at least, that’s the excuse I’m sticking with).

We get our 20 week scan in 10 days’ time, and I’m hoping that this halfway point will mark a *countdown* rather than “count-up”. Everybody says pregnancy flies by, but I don’t think that includes the pregnancy-challenged, for whom that little monkey cannot arrive – fully-cooked – soon enough.

Spotting (15+6)

Today, I have successfully reached the 16 week mark, although not without some form of preceding drama!

I was scanned yesterday in the Early Pregnancy Assessment Unit, as over the past few days, I’ve been getting persisting crampy pain. I have been trying to apply some form of logic and reason to it, and it makes perfect sense that a growing uterus will be twinging here and there as it squashes and pulls on things around it, but I mentioned it to the EPAS nurses who offered me a scan slot nevertheless.

All was looking good – baby bean happily bouncing and wriggling about, and so I go downstairs to A&E to do my shift.

On my break time, around mid-afternoon, I go to the toilet, and notice a big blob of dark red blood in my (white) knickers and I completely lost it. Although I *know* spotting doesn’t necessarily = end of the world, we are wired to be alarmed by the sight of blood, and logic just goes out the window. Luckily for me, everybody rallied round, with cups of tea and chocolate, and within the hour, I was being scanned and seen by the Obstetric consultant.

This particular bean is a monkey, and clearly has no conscience with playing its mother up something chronic. It was still happily wriggling away, with no signs of bleeding anywhere around the placenta. My cervix is firmly closed as it should be. Panic over.

So what on earth caused it?

The consultant’s explanation was placental migration. That our placentas start off somewhere around our cervix, and move upwards by detaching and reattaching as our uterus grows. As it does so, it can cause bits of spotting that are either seen by us, or not.

I’m not sure how I feel about my placenta detaching and reattaching itself… but I sure hope that this is the last I see of it, as I don’t think I’ve got the energy for another round!

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I survived!

I am referring here to my visit yesterday, to see my sister-in-law and her new baby. This is the visit that I have been dreading ever since I found out she was pregnant back in October, and I had built it to be an absolute mountain, in my head.

My sister-in-law is 40 years old, and this is her third (although her first with my husband’s brother). I don’t know whether this helped a little, as it was far less “intense” than visiting my friends who have all had their first and are just FULL of “baby”.

I’ve never had much of a rapport with her, which I think is why I’ve had such conflicting emotions over *this* particular pregnancy, but, with an unprejudiced mind, she will probably be incredibly helpful when my time comes, with practical advice and support that I would otherwise lack. She also pointed out that we will share a few months of maternity leave, together. You never know, we may be best buddies this time next year.

My new nephew is beautiful, and precious and I just CANNOT WAIT to have my own little munchkin in my arms.

I’ve come away feeling:

  1. *Gulp* – this gorgeous little thing is just adorable and I could cuddle him all day
  2. “Yikes, that felt a bit crampy”, cue *knicker check* – oh god, what if I don’t get to this day with my little one?
  3. Proud, that I have managed to accomplish the thing that has kept me up at night, and has occupied my thoughts almost every day on the commute to work
  4. At peace – like I am ready to be a mum, and cope with the sleepless nights, my neat, tidy house going to pot, the financial sacrifices, like giving up clothes shopping and posh meals, along with the sacrifices to my social calendar

It’s funny, a lot of you said that I’d be surprised at how I felt, finally being pregnant and meeting a new mum and sprog. I’m glad to say that you were right 🙂

Harmony, growing pains and the first grandchild (14+6wks)

Life has gone back to its usual 110mph pace, although this has sort of been my saving grace over the past month or so, with little time to fret, and the much-anticipated second trimester being on my doorstep before I knew it.

I have *definitely* chilled out a little, where baby bean is concerned. The knicker-check is less frequent (although not entirely absent) and no longer is every abdominal niggle sending me to the private scan company in fear. This past week has definitely seen an increase in aches and pains in my lower abdomen, with excruciating stabbing pains if I move too quickly. I suppose it’s no surprise, seeing as baby bean is now apparently approaching apple-size. I have a little, but definite, bump, although I’m still in that category where nobody would automatically offer me their train seat, as it could possibly be central obesity vs baby (and nobody wants to make that mistake).

My boobs are continuing to grow at the rate of knots, with my other half exclaiming every time I take my top off. Unfortunately, I don’t think I qualify for page 3, as I also seem to have developed veins and stretch marks EVERYWHERE. Sigh. Still, I can’t complain. It’s taken 3 years and £10,000, and it is *totally* worth it.

Harmony results all came in as low risk, which, again, was great news. We also know what clothes section we need to shop in when the time comes… BUT, I’ve been sworn to secrecy!! Even from you, fellow bloggers, as my other half wants it to be a surprise for everybody else, and I do still have the odd friend who reads this.

The past few weeks have seen a challenge of a different kind – one that has been on the horizon for months, and which has slowly been nibbling away at me. My sister-in-law (40 year old, 2x children from a previous relationship who are 11 and 9, not yet married to my brother-in-law) had her baby a few weeks ago.

Some of you might recall that I discovered the news of their pregnancy shortly after my own IVF cycle failed last year. My husband tentatively breaking the news to me of this completely unanticipated baby will ALWAYS stay with me, along with the utter despair that I felt for months afterwards. I’m sure that these memories are part of my continued inability to be truly happy for them, including the fact that (the way my friend put it), “they’ve got to the finish line before you”. And it shames me to say it. I’m not a nasty person, really.

I genuinely thought that finally being pregnant, would change how I felt… but it hasn’t. There is a juvenile, selfish part of me that feels pushed aside, that the miracle of my hard-won pregnancy no longer has the spotlight and the recognition it deserves. And the fear that, when my baby enters this world, nobody will care, cos, “been there, done that”.

My mother-in-law, whom I have taken on holiday, spa-days, shopping trips, who I involved heartily in my wedding plans as she has no daughters, who I used to call every other day on the way home from work, has not spoken to, or visited me in THREE WEEKS (she lives 5 minutes round the corner). To say I feel abandoned may be a bit dramatic, but I definitely feel hurt.

The next hurdle is meeting my new nephew.

I have never been one for huge gatherings full of excitable people (my own gatherings, included!), so I made a deal with my husband that the first time I meet him needs to be alone, with just my sister-in-law. (This is in the event I bawl like a baby myself, which is a distinct possibility the way my hormones are behaving – I don’t want to be on show). This is, however, easier said than done. Over the past 18 days, I’ve had TWO days off work. It is honestly so difficult to fit a visit in around her kids, my brother-in-law, doting grandparents etc, as well as MY own need for a day in my pjs whilst I’m cooking baby bean.

Hopefully, the next time I post, it’ll be to pat myself on the back for being a dutiful auntie.