100 Days

I have 100 days left at home with Euan. Well, it was 100 two days ago so now it is 98– in 98 days he will be one and in daycare away from me, and sleeping in his own room and I will just have to trust at night that he is still breathing.

I often fear that he will just quietly and unexpectedly die – a worry many parents have I’m sure – but I do not know if I am carrying on the family tradition of anxious mothers or whether it is infertility rearing its head yet again to say, he is a gift. He is a blessing and a gift but you don’t get to keep him. It still feels unreal sometimes. 

I’m still floating between bottomless grief and highest joy, wondering when I will stop forgetting and remembering in a constant loop that my dad has gone. Euan is giggling and shouting and hitting his toys together and men wearing hats in my father’s favourite orange hue are sending me into sobs in the New World carpark. Life is full of unexpected multitudes and gut punches and bubbles floating through the spring air while my son cackles and I wonder if my heart is built to take all of these feelings.

I don’t know if next year will be a good year – a year with no death would be good but my father’s death will follow me into every year I suspect. I am full of anxiety about being away from my son and returning to a world that requires me to use my brain and time and energy to solve other peoples’ problems that in my mind no longer really matter. My son and my husband and my dog and my home and my family matter and yet I can’t find a way to conjure up the money that will allow me to continue to live in this lovely cocoon with him and so I must return to work and he must go make friends with strangers that I have to trust will nurture and grow to love him. I have to hope that he will be happy when not with me, though the idea breaks my heart little by little. I wish the world (or at least my part of it) didn’t value paid office-based work so much more highly than being on a playmat with my son helping him to grow and learn and be.

And so I plan to make these 98 days count and appreciate that I have had this luxury – this privilege – of being at home with him for a year.

It has been exhausting and challenging but 98% wonderful and I’ll never forget it.

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On grief and growth

Firstly, let me apologise for the long delay between posts. I have a lot still to say about the aftermath of E’s birth, but haven’t have time or energy yet to post.

And my dad, who had been sick since last June, unfortunately passed away 3 weeks ago today.

Our sweet baby boy is just over 5 months old and doing great. He has a high frequency hearing loss so started wearing hearing aids 2 months ago but is doing well in most respects.

It feels like it has all gone too quick yet like he has been with us forever.

It is difficult to reconcile this being such a happy time in our lives with it also being a time of intense grief. E has my Dad’s hair and some of his funnier facial expressions, which I am grateful for – yet in a way means I am always reminded of what has been lost. He has been a great distraction and crutch for myself and my wider family, who are still coming to terms with it. At the moment to be honest, I’m not sure if I’ll ever be used to it.

So. Good days and bad days. A hell of a lot of amazing support. And this wee man’s smile. Keeping us going, always.

More to say, soon. I still can’t believe we have a son. He is the light in every darkness and I am still just so, so grateful.

Our birth story

This has taken forever to write – and even now this won’t be the whole thing at once!

Despite our hopes that the wee man would make an entrance beforehand, we checked into hospital on the 10th January at 7:30am for our scheduled induction.

We were shown to our delivery suite and asked to settle in while the paperwork was getting underway. I had also agreed to participate in an induction trial where 50% of scheduled inductions would be induced by foley catheter balloon rather than the traditional gel. With the catheter you were able to go home and return the next morning. Unfortunately despite being an excellent candidate cervix-wise, I was randomised to receive the prostaglandin gel, so we settled in to be in the room for as long as it took.

At 9:45am the gel was inserted, and the wait began. An IV line was inserted (ugh) and I changed into my super sexy oversized nightie to hopefully give birth in!

They monitored me periodically to check baby’s heart rate, and all seemed fine. He would wriggle around a lot and affect the CTG which was typical of his behaviour in the womb thus far.

By that afternoon I was dilated at about a 1 and had 2cm left of my cervix not effaced. So not exactly progressing. The decision was made to insert more gel and try and break my waters in the morning. I was offered a sleeping aid and settled in for the night.

On the morning of the 11th, I was checked again, and even though I’d had some backache and cramping overnight, I was still in the same situation as before, though maybe sliiiiightly more dilated. So we went ahead with breaking my waters. The consultant said it was definitely doable, so in went the hook, and out came the flood.

It was hands down the strangest feeling of my life. I had mild polyhydramnios (an excess amount of amniotic fluid) and my waters gushed out like a waterfall, and just kept coming. My nightie was ruined, the bed was soaked, and the consultant had to go change his scrubs – no joke.

Into the ugly hospital gown I went.

On a positive note, however, it felt like things were finally happening – I had contractions! We started timing them and I paced the room in between. We felt good! The baby was coming! And I wanted to move as much as I could while I could as I knew the syntocinon drip/continuous monitoring/being stuck on the bed was coming.

Once the drip began, the contractions began to intensify. I concentrated on breathing through them, digging my nails into my palms and squeezing D’s hand. After 4 hours of more and more intense pain, I hadn’t progressed any further (maybe a smidge in dilation, and I was more effaced). I was strongly advised to get an epidural if I was to cope with just how many hours I had of labour ahead of me. I asked for the epidural.

Once the epidural was in, we settled in to just wait it out. I could still feel the contractions were happening, but the pain was gone. My legs were heavy but I could move them, and I was pretty astounded/impressed by the magic of it.

The main downside was that I couldn’t eat on the synto drip, and so had been starving since 7:30am (when I’d just picked at my lackluster breakfast – if only I’d known). And either the epidural or the drug made me a bit itchy. Not annoyingly so, just enough to notice.

It all seemed to be taking such a long time. Every time I’d get disillusioned, however, I’d look over at the wee cot in the corner and remember what we were there to do.

During the evening we noticed a few decelerations of the baby’s heart rate on the monitors, including one scary episode around 6pm when the midwife hit the emergency button and all of the staff ran in and it was truly terrifying. Everything came back up pretty quickly after and they were happy that he was fine, but for a moment my world was ending. They tried to apply a scalp monitor at one stage but it was faulty, so we continued with external monitoring. It was very hard not to obsess over the monitor and worry after that.

As we got closer to 12 hours on the drip, the hospital midwife looking after me started to suggest that a caesarean section might be likely. I was determined to avoid one, so kept hoping as we got closer to each internal examination (now totally tolerable on the epidural!) that I would miraculously be fully dilated.

Around 9pm, my midwife was phoned to come in as I was finally at 4cm or very close to. I spoke with her about getting a section and the more we discussed it, the more I came to terms with it not only being a possibility, but it being something I could possibly cope with. I still wanted to avoid it – I was scared of feeling the operation, of there being complications, of hysterectomy, of the long recovery period. After working in maternal morbidity and knowing the (extremely rare but extremely terrible) things that can go wrong, I was very anxious about things getting to that stage.

Unfortunately, baby’s heart rate started to accelerate and while that’s usually not a bad thing, it stayed that way. A steady and slow rise in heart rate can indicate baby is not happy, and well, it started to make us nervous.

I was told if we didn’t progress, a caesarean was inevitable. I was given a deadline – at the next check we’d have to make a decision.

D went home to check on the puppy and pick up some things and before he returned (around 10:45pm), I was checked again and was suddenly at 9cm. We got excited and decided that in an hour’s time, if I was fully dilated, I’d be able to start pushing. I was a bit nervous that I wouldn’t be able to, because the epidural does start to build up a high level, and I was struggling to move my legs at all. I wondered where I’d get the strength from.

Shortly before midnight, the final check came – still 9cm. The final cm also seemed to be in a spot where baby was not applying pressure, and baby’s heart rate was still rising. The doctors came to speak with me and we all agreed that the section was our only option.

And suddenly my bed was being wheeled downstairs.

Because of the epidural and the stage I was at, I started to shake uncontrollably. And the anxiety started to rise. I was exhausted – it was almost midnight and my day of labouring had started before 7am, I hadn’t eaten since 7:30am, and I was so scared of the operation. But I wanted our baby boy out.

Down in theatre I struggled to change tables, my legs were so numb. The room was full of staff getting prepared and everyone was kind and patient with me as I worried and waited and wept a little.

Once the operation began and I realised I was definitely numb, I waited what felt like an eternity but in reality was only a few minutes – and then there he was. They held our son above the curtain and I saw his wee face and I just broke down and sobbed. I was overwhelmed and so relieved that he was okay.

It seemed like it took hours to stitch me up. The curtain was obviously protecting us from seeing anything (and I kept telling D not to look over it), but the ceiling tiles were aluminium and while blurry, I turned my head not to see even the red and white splotches of my open body reflected in them. D went with the baby while they checked him over, and he never really took that big wailing cry (at least not for long), he passed all his tests beautifully.

D took the baby and held him skin to skin and when I was ready, they brought him to me and laid him on my chest. He was so beautiful. I felt a bit dopey and still so numb, but I had him in my arms.

I’ll post soon about what happened next – unfortunately my recovery has been complicated and difficult, but every day with him is worth it.

Welcome to the world, wee Euan.

Nearly time

Dear Baby,

I’m writing this from your bedroom. I am sitting in a rocking chair with a small table to my left, a wee clothing rack to my right, and slightly further afield is your cot, your changing table, another chair, and a rug and soft play mat on the floor. Maisie has decided the play mat is hers, by the way. You may have to fight her for it.

A year ago we were planning this cycle. We were only a few weeks away from the regime of pills and injections that would lead to egg collection that would lead to embryo creation, that would lead to you.

You. You came from nothing. Cells manipulated and forced together by science. An embryologist created your beginnings and then a doctor and his team made you real.

In 5 days at the latest, you’ll be on your way. We’ll hold you and sing to you and give you your name. I’m hoping you’ll decide to show up a bit quicker, but if not, that will be just fine. You have so many people waiting to meet you, and a puppy that wants to give you lots and lots of licks.

I still can’t believe it sometimes. How did we get so lucky that it all finally clicked into place? How am I going to be a mum in 5 or so days? What will you look like? What will you do with your life? Who will you be?

I love you so much.

37 weeks

Merry Christmas to all who celebrate! Just a wee update this week.

We had a lovely holiday. Our families were all together in one country, in one room. Baby received gifts despite not being here yet. And best of all, I didn’t go into labour on Christmas day!

Friday I see the midwife and next week I have my scan with the maternal fetal medicine unit in the city. Baby boy will be here whenever it suits him I guess but I’m hopeful it’ll be spontaneous labour. If I don’t go into labour by the 10th of January then I’m scheduled for induction, which ideally I’d like to avoid. We shall see…

Sleep:  I’m still awake every hour because of my hips aching but I know the end is in sight…

Food cravings:  Back to my mid-pregnancy obsession with Fanta and anything vinegary – especially my husband’s potato salad.

Food aversions:  Nothing really, just needing smaller portions as he is taking up all the space as usual.

– – –

Symptoms I HAVE:
Hunger – Not much change. He hasn’t dropped yet so I don’t have more room yet.

– – –

Stretchmarks:  Tiger stripes everywhere. Itchy and sore in places, but not too bad. I’m pretty accepting of them for now.

Movement:  Still super wiggly but it’s obvious he has no room. He’s too tall to turn much so he just headbutts my cervix and kicks me in the ribs. I wonder how active he’ll be on the outside. Sports in my future regardless I think!

Best moment of the week:  Christmas with our families.

What I’m looking forward to:  Putting the cot and rocking chair together this weekend. And the shelves up. Baby boy being here!

What I miss:  Not being achey and slow and tired. But the end is in sight!

34-36 weeks

I feel like individual update posts for these weeks would be all the same.

So it seemed better to combine them! That and the end of the year has been a total whirlwind and so busy – it’s really hard to leave your job for a year!

The past few weeks have been a bit mad with baby showers and meetings and appointments with my midwife and the hospital… all seems to be okay. I’m being referred to Wellington but it’s just a precaution, and baby will be induced on his due date if he doesn’t turn up before.

Some stats…!

The size/what features: Romaine lettuce or something. A toolbox in one of my apps! Either way, he is a large boy, now 82nd percentile. I think he’s just a long baby, though his head is 90th percentile…

Sleep:  I’m awake every hour just to rotate because of my hips aching. I hug my maternity pillow and have another one between my knees and then usually the dog under my feet. Dave is… somewhere in the bed.

Food cravings:  Give me all the chocolate.

Food aversions:  Nothing too bad lately, I’ve actually been able to eat a bit more.

– – –

Symptoms I HAVE:
Hunger – Increased a little and I can’t wait for him to drop because I’ll be able to breathe/have less reflux. But then again, I think I’ll cope without the extra cervix pain, thanks.

– – –

Stretchmarks:  I think more have appeared and I’m sure more are on the way…

Doctor’s Appointment:  I saw the maternity unit today and they lost my notes. Doh. However they’re happy for me to keep seeing my midwife and see the Wellington unit in January. It’s also a bit weird to be booked in for induction… I’m going to do my best to get him to come before then.

Movement:  Super wiggly baby and I see it almost every time now – it’s quite strange and alien watching your stomach roll and wiggle. He gets hiccups in my groin which is funny.

Best moment of the week:  Seeing him wiggle from the outside. Finishing work soon!

What I’m looking forward to:  Christmas. Getting some rest. Finishing up his room (even though he won’t be using it for a while, I want it to be a proper baby’s room rather than half guest, half nursery!

Not working for a year! Financially it’ll suck, but oh boy I can’t wait for this time with my wee man.

What I miss:  Not taking forever to get everywhere. Not hurting. Fitting clothing. But it’s all worth it a million times over.

I’m 37 weeks today. I’ll do another update later in the week, but for now I’m feeling just so blessed we made it here.

33 weeks

Here is an update from the last week!

The size/what features:  I’m now carrying a pineapple, bok choy, a ferret (yes, really, according to one app he is ferret-sized)… and he is getting so ready to be a wee human outside me. Terrifying yet so exciting.

Sleep:  Definitely still up and down though not as bad as it was. I also find if I wake up super early it’s really hard to go back to sleep. I guess I’m getting ready…

Food cravings:  Dairy lately, which is interesting – probably just needing a bit of extra calcium. Also with this weird weather lately I’ve been having more soup-based lunches, but I doubt that’s baby-related!

Also, weirdly (cause I was never much of a drinker), I’ve really wanted a cider or glass of wine lately.

Food aversions:  Textures like onion still gross me out a bit. 

– – –

Symptoms I HAVE:
Hunger – Definitely more interested in food!

Skin – Dry as always and my neck has got a lot of skin tags on it which, ugh. Apparently they mostly disappear after. No one tells you about that random stuff!

– – –

Stretchmarks:  Nothing new since last week, it’s amazing how they’ve just kinda appeared though!

Doctor’s Appointment:  I have another scan Thursday and am seeing the midwife Friday where I’ll get my next anti-D shot. Hopefully on the scan my fluid hasn’t increased too much – I definitely feel tight and like I’m larger every week. My weight hasn’t really increased though so I’m SO curious as to what will happen after birth. How can he be growing but I’m not? I guess we are balancing each other out as he steals all my dinners.

Movement:  Still super rolly and wiggly and you can see it now too. I also have been having more lightning pains which means I have to stop when I’m walking and take it slow whenever I’m heading anywhere. My bump feels heavy and I’m definitely getting really tired.

Best moment of the week:  Finishing up some of the shopping for him, feeling like it’s getting closer. I’m actually kinda terrified of birth (as many of us are!) but trying not to worry too much about it as whatever happens will happen. As long as he gets here safely I will cope with it.

I also find myself getting more emotional lately thinking about our baby being here. Our baby. I can’t believe I get to meet him in 6ish weeks. What will he be like? What will he look like? How big will he be? (I still think he’s going to be a long baby/tall boy!)

What I’m looking forward to:  I have two baby showers in my 34th week! A family one and a work one. And in under 3 weeks D’s mum and sister are in NZ and then will be with us for Christmas.

What I miss:  Just being mobile/feeling agile. But we’re so close to the finish line.

I have 3.5 weeks at work! Eeeek!