Hard work with little to show

Take a look at this picture, friends. This represents 90 minutes of hard work. Really hard work. As a gestational diabetic, I have to harvest colostrum three to four times a day from 36 weeks. Babies of diabetic mothers – gestational or otherwise – can experience a fall in their blood sugar postpartum as their sugary party comes to an end*. The midwives want extra colostrum to help them to bring their sugars back up. 90 minutes may not sound like a lot of time over a two day period, but believe me, when your squeezing your boobs until tiny drops appear and then trying to catch them in a spoon while simultaneously pressing play on a Peppa Pig episode and separating warring siblings, it redefines multi-tasking and hard work. You end up knackered and sore. Squeezing (excuse the pun) in colostrum harvesting while juggling three smalls is not easy.

When Big was born, she spent ten days in special care because her sugar levels were critically low. This stemmed from a mass of clusterfucks by the hospital. Amongst them, a refusal to repeat my glucose tolerance test at 28 weeks (I was borderline), to check her sugars at birth, to notice her tongue tie or to give me adequate feeding support. While in special care, a nurse mistakenly fed her someone else’s breastmilk – thankfully, it didn’t contain any medication. It was a difficult experience for a first time mum and completely avoidable. As a consequence, Medium and Little were born elsewhere and the experience was very different, with properly managed diabetes for me and incredible support from fantastic midwives. Needless to say, the Miracle will make his appearance at the same place.

The Miracle may not need the fruit of my hard work. Little never did. The bag full of lovingly expressed liquid gold went in the bin when I found it at the bottom of the freezer months later. Hours and hours of pummelling and squeezing into the bin. That kind of hurt. I hope the Miracle doesn’t need it. I’m doing my best but Nature’s not being too helpful at the moment. I have 13 days to get as much as I can for him before he is evicted.

Eviction is planned. He’s a big boy, above the 95th centile, so my consultant has opted to induce at 38 weeks. They asked if I was ‘Open minded on pain relief’. ‘No,’ I replied. ‘I’m very closed minded. I want all of it.’ I don’t know why his size surprises me. Lovely Husband is a man mountain with shoulders wide enough to take on the world. I really hope the Miracle hasn’t inherited those shoulders. It makes me wince almost as much as the 90 minutes it took to produce that 0.2ml of colostrum.

Labour ward are nervous. With a history of postpartum haemorrhage, gestational diabetes, geriatric maternal age (yes, they actually said that), a previous emergency C-section, and two VBAC births with one requiring ventouse assistance, I think the booking midwife is hoping she’ll have the day off when I arrive. I have my concerns too, but for the Miracle’s safe arrival rather than for myself. I just want him to arrive healthy, happy, safe and well. Isn’t that all any mother wants? I’m not religious by any means, but for his safe arrival, I pray. Boy, do I pray.

So, this is it. The final furlong, He has 13 days to beat the rubber gloves and their eviction methods, some of which sound a bit odd. I’m huge, he’s huge and getting through the day has become a challenge. The school run feels like a marathon. Getting out of the bath is a cacophony of grunts and oofs. But very, very soon, I will be kissing that perfect little newborn head and life will have changed immeasurably once again. Five will be six and there will be even more love. I can hardly bear it. This Miracle? He will complete us and I cannot wait to feel his velvety skin and just sniff him.

colostrum

* This state is temporary – their risk of developing diabetes is not increased from their mother having gestational diabetes. This risk differs if their mother has Type One or Type Two, though.

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Hard work with little to show

On the eve of Mother’s Day

Today I went to do the pixie’s Big Shop for the next season. Big passes her clothes down to Medium in nearly new condition. Medium trashes them and Little gets new ones. I like to dress my children like children, so I am increasingly shocked by the ripped denim hot pants and sloganed t-shirts on offer to kids as little as four. Seriously, who dresses their children in this tat? Who wants their four-year-old to have their pants on display?

That frustration aside, it was a lovely day spent with my mum. The sun was shining as we went (waddled, for me) from shop to shop with frequent tea  breaks. I’m huge with the Miracle. I’m measuring a fortnight ahead and at 31+3w, I look ready to pop. I feel it too. The Miracle mainly likes sitting on my sciatic nerve (ouch!) and trampolining on my bladder. My blood sugars have just started to misbehave and I’ve started Metformin tablets and a diet of denial. Lovely Husband has a list of All The Nice Things he must buy/make me after the placenta has been delivered and I am back to normal. Salted caramel cheesecake, I’m coming for you.

I returned home to a newly poorly Medium. Just as we seemed to get rid of the bugs, it looks like a new one has moved in. I’m hoping Mother’s Day isn’t cancelled for us tomorrow.

Some, I know, will be wishing Mother’s Day could be cancelled. They’ve faced weeks of reminders about the impending day and each one will have been a twist of the knife embedded in their heart. Women who have lost their own mothers, lost their babies or simply can’t seem to have a child. Having Mother’s Day shoved down their throat is a bitter pill and one few will feel able to swallow.

While we hope to celebrate after our rocky but ultimately amazing journey to parenthood with our three ICSI pixies and now the Miracle, I will have a quiet moment to send vibes of solidarity to those that are deep in the wilderness. Those that are in the throes of the rollercoaster of IVF, of dusting themselves off after yet another disappointment, waiting for appointments or wincing as they jab themselves with powerful hormones that will make them feel like they’re going crazy. I will raise a glass to these strong women and hope that this time next year, they’re getting a slobbery kiss from the baby they’ve longed for.

As the Miracle kicks away inside me after a lovely day spent with my mum, I know I’m one of the lucky ones.

On the eve of Mother’s Day

Do you know what it is yet? Yup!

boygirl

The predominant question we have been asked since announcing our miracle pregnancy is, “I bet you’re desperate for a boy!”. Even the sonographer at our cheeky 16-week scan said, “I’d bet you’d like a boy.”

Honestly, I didn’t care and the question annoyed me. I just want a healthy, happy baby. Another girl would probably be easier and girls really are lovely. Until they’re teenagers anyway. A boy would be something different and it would be exciting to experience the other side of the coin. As far as I’m concerned, it’s win-win either way. I was tempted not to find out this time, but the side of me that has to be organised for every eventually poo-pooed keeping it a surprise.

And then there were Big’s expectations to manage. Before I’d even peed on a stick, Big had already told me several times that I had her brother in my tummy. Having been caning it at the gym, I was a little hurt that she thought I was so squidgy. We made a monumental mistake when we were expecting Little by telling Big that she was going to have another Medium. When we brought Little home from hospital, Big was disgusted. What was this thing that did not speak or play? She’d thought we meant that a nearly two-year-old was residing in my tummy and she’d have another ready made playmate. It took her a fortnight to forgive me, and this time I want to make sure she’s on the same page as us. She’s been adamant I’m growing her baby brother and the idea of a sister would instigate a strop.

Fortunately, the strops are not necessary. We are indeed expecting a boy! With ICSI, you have a high chance of girls because the Very Clever People choose the strongest sperm, which are usually female. With a natural conception, it’s all about timing. The sooner you bump uglies after ovulation, the more likely you are to have a boy. The male sperm swim faster, but also tire easily and die sooner. The female sperm take longer to reach the egg, but they’re marathon swimmers and not sprinters. They live longer.

Biology lesson aside, the idea of having a boy is taking some getting used to! While we’re both excited about the prospect, we’re rubbish on boys’ names. At the moment, it’s likely he’ll be called Buzz Lightyear or Blue Baby. Suggestions are welcome. I’m not sure the Registrar will agree to Buzz Lightyear, though I kind of like it.

 

Do you know what it is yet? Yup!

A monumental curve ball

I’ve been busy, friends. Busy trying to get my head around something huge.

So, there I was, smugly sticking to my Slimming World and gym regime. I lost a stone. I could feel my body changing and my fitness levels increasing. My riding was improving. My body was beginning to respond to my brain and my reactions were quicker. I felt great. I was making plans with pony pals to camp at Badminton, to do a dressage boot camp and hack around Wales, mainly drunk. I was thinking of going to Portugal to buy a youngster that would come over in a couple of years.

Then I stopped feeling great. I felt knackered. I felt dizzy and a bit sick. I wanted to be in bed, asleep, all the time. Just doing the school run felt like wading through treacle. I was short-tempered, easily irritated and headachey. My period, always unreliable at the best of times, was late, but that was irrelevant because during the wilderness years, our very clever and very lovely consultant told us that we had more chance of winning the lottery than conceiving naturally.  32 million people play the National Lottery. Your odds of winning are apparently 14 million to one. I don’t know how ‘they’ worked that particular statistic out; maths isn’t my strong point.

One Sunday morning a few weeks ago, I was digging through stuff and happened across an old pregnancy test that I’d shoved in a drawer when I was expecting Little. Knowing it would be negative, and still feeling rubbish, I peed on the stick and carried on getting ready to go to man the pre-school cake stall at a village event. Giving the stick a cursory glance a few minutes later, I nearly passed out. Very clearly displayed on the screen was a decisive ‘PREGNANT’. What. The. Actual. Fuck.

I called to Lovely Husband that I needed him upstairs straight away. He replied that he needed me downstairs as Medium had just spat her antibiotic everywhere. “No, no,” I said. “I definitely need you up here more.” He came upstairs and I handed it to him, simply saying: “This has to be faulty.” His reaction? What. The. Actual. Fuck.

Dumping a sticky Medium in the bath, I rooted around the bathroom cupboard desperately hoping to find another test. I struck gold. Those that have experienced infertility and consequent treatments will know how many pregnancy tests you buy and stash around the house. This test also said I was pregnant.

Somewhat dazed, I went and did my stint on the stall. Then I got home and Googled all the reasons you might get a false positive on a pregnancy test. I don’t recommend that anyone does this. By the time we went for an early scan, I’d convinced myself that I had a brain tumour. Fortunately, the scan showed us a little bean with a beating heart. Lovely Husband cried and laughed simultaneously.

We’ve now had our 12 week scan and I have spent the last month in huge jumpers and with my coat zipped up on warm days to hide my burgeoning bump. At 41, the odds are against me and we didn’t want to let the cat out of the bag until we had to. I’m struggling to do up my coat now. We’re still waiting for our odds on the scary screening tests, but we didn’t get the ‘within three working days call for further testing’, so we can finally breathe out.

To be honest, even though I saw a distinctly baby shaped object on the screen last week, I saw him/her move, wave at us, suck their little thumb and their heart beat, I still can’t believe it. Early pregnancy is a funny old time anyway, but to have been told it’ll never happen and then for it to do just that is… Well, frankly a complete and utter mind fuck.

I’d given everything away. My maternity clothes all went to a charity shop and our baby stuff is currently being used by a friend. One who – phew – I know will look after it and let us have it back. Baby #4 would be an expensive miracle otherwise.

And that is just what Baby #4 is. A miracle. A little soul that clearly wants to be born. And how blessed are we that he/she has chosen us? I’m choosing to focus on that and not that I will have four children under six in May. There’s Valium for that, right?

baby-4-12w-scan_1
A monumental curve ball