Monday, 29 June 2015

Pregnancy Essentials

Growing a human is tough, there's no two ways about it. Your body changes in ways you could never imagine and so fast it makes your head spin but there are a few little things you can do and utilise that makes it a teeny bit easier. I've put together a list of what have been my pregnancy essentials for my first, second and third trimester. Obviously everyone is different and what might be magical for me could end up being rubbish for you but when it's 3am and you're on your 17th vomit of the day with no sleep and aches in places you never knew existed, you'll give anything a go! 

plus size maternity pyjamas

First Trimester Essentials
Lemonade ice lollies - When everything made me nauseous, even water, these were a life saver. The sugar in them stopped me feeling faint and the ice stopped me getting dehydrated. For some reason lemonade ones worked best for me.

Maternity pyjamas - Comfort is key during your first trimester.  I think I spent approximately 85% of mine in pyjamas and although my bump didn't show until a bit later on, I loved these 'I love my baby bump' jammies. They're super soft and I've grown into them nicely.

Seamfree Comfort Bras - My boobs were so, so sore up until about week 14. All my bras were suddenly too tight and hurt but having my bare boobs against even the softest of my pyjamas and lounge cloths was painful. These seamfree comfort bras were a god-send; so comfortable and gentle on my skin that I barely knew I had them on. I'm still wearing them now at 30 weeks.

Vitabiotics Pregnacare - Folic Acid is a must during the first 12 weeks of your pregnancy and it's recommended you take other vitamins too. I was given a sample of these in my first Bounty pack so they're midwife recommended. I couldn't take these combined ones though due to needing a higher level of Folic Acid down to my high BMI so double check with your midwife before you take any extras.

ina may's guide to childbirth

Second Trimester Essentials
Moisturiser - If you want to try and avoid or at least slow down stretch marks, you're going to need to moisturise. I've been using the Garnier Ultimate Beauty Oil which is an oil-infused lotion. I HATE moisturising because I can't stand feeling all sticky and having to wait for it to dry but this stuff is fab. It dries almost instantly but leaves my skin feeling lovely and soft. It also does well at relieving the itchiness on my belly from the skin stretching.

Rennies - My heartburn kicked in towards the end of my second trimester and I have been guzzling these like there's no tomorrow! I prefer these to Gaviscon because they're softer and the taste is less...tongue-coat-y.

Wiccy Magic Muscles - A lovely Lush employee recommended me this on Twitter for my lower back ache and it really is magic! It contains cinnamon and peppermint oils which help to warm and soothe the achiness that comes with pregnancy and especially SPD. It's blended with cocoa butter, jojoba butter, shea butter and coconut oil so melts against the skin leaving just enough buttery goodness for Mr D to massage my back for a good few minutes whilst the other side is packed with aduki beans which helps give a little resistance against any super knotty bits. Such a simple bit of luxury!

Ina May's Guide to Childbirth - This book was recommended to me by a friend and I'm so grateful to her for doing so. I don't want to say too much about it because I'll be doing a review on it in the next couple of weeks but if you want a book on childbirth, this is the one!

birthing ball maternity pillow

Third Trimester Essentials
Swiss birthing/fitness ball - I spend most evenings on my birthing ball, either just sitting on it or on all fours on the floor leaning on it (usually with my big bum facing the very street-accessible living room window...). They're brilliant for during labour but also strongly recommended for SPD to take the pressure off the pelvis. There are different sizes for different heights so make sure you have a look at each ball to get the right one for you.

Desk fan - It's summer, I'm the size of a planet and I get hot. Fans are my best friend at the minute. I've got one in our bedroom and one in the living room opposite where I sit. We got ours from Tesco for £15 so they were pretty cheap but do the job perfectly. According to the weather forecast it's going to be 34 degrees on Wednesday so I might be clearing Tesco out of them this week.

Mothercare Maternity Sleep Plus Body Pillow  - As your bump grows and your body gets more tired, extra pillows or a maternity pillow are a must if you want a comfortable night's sleep. I don't have a maternity specific pillow but I wedge one between my knees, another smaller, thin one under my bump and hug one to my boobs. There's barely room left in the bed for Mr D though so I may treat myself to a proper body pillow in the new few weeks.

Lush Bubble Bars - I think I've had more baths during this pregnancy than I have in the last ten years, I cannot get enough bathtime. Now the SPD is making it difficult to stand for long and I'm getting very tired, showers have mostly been swapped for long leisurely baths. My favourite bath treat has been the Blue Skies And White Fluffy Clouds bubble bar by far. Patchouli and frankincense makes this bar incredibly relaxing and calming, plus it's huge which means I normally get around four baths out of it. Unless I'm feeling particularly decadent and then I chuck half of it in!

What are some of your first, second and third trimester pregnancy essentials?

Mrs D & Pea x

Friday, 26 June 2015

Baby Bits - H&M Haul

How many clothes are too many clothes for a baby?! I feel like he has masses already but I'm also very aware of the number of poo and vomit incidents I need to account for, plus the fact that my husband seems to throw things into the washing machine after just looking at them. I seem to have approximately 382 white vests and 215 baby grows but not a lot inbetween yet. 

Most of Pea's clothes so far have come from Tesco and Asda because I just don't see the point in spending a mass of money on something he'll be wearing for 5 minutes. Someone mentioned how cute and reasonably priced H&M baby clothes are so I had a little nose online and am completely sold on them! This is my second order and I'm sure there'll be more to come because they really do have some lovely bits. Everything is so soft too, I'm not ashamed to say I spent a good 10 minutes rubbing those hats on my cheeks and cooing at myself. 

The storage box is brilliant, it's the same size as the ones from Ikea so fit the Kallax furniture series perfectly. H&M have masses of colours and patterns including a grey and white star one which I'm going to get to go in his bedroom too as it's being decorated in grey, white and yellow. I'm thinking I might get a 2x2 Kallax unit to use as storage for toys and such. And by 'such' I mean, anything I can't be bothered to find a proper home for can just be shoved in there and hidden away!

Where is/was your favourite place to shop for cheap and cheerful baby clothes? 

Mrs D & Pea x

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Pregnancy Update - Week 29

Sleep:  SPD/PGP is preventing me from sleeping as well I would like to be. Turning over in bed is agony so on the occasion I manage to do it sleepily the pain wakes me up quite sharply. I'm most comfortable on my right side but my right leg will eventually either go numb or ache a lot so I really do have to turn onto my other side. It's not fun! Having said that though I am still managing to get a good 9 or so hours, just interrupted ones. 

Eating: Ohhh how I long to finish a meal and fit in a pudding! Every time we've been out to eat and I've excitedly perused the dessert menu Mr D has merely laughed at me knowing I can barely manage a whole main course. This pregnancy is most definitely sponsored by fried chicken which I know, I know, it's bad but I could honestly eat it all the live long day. Aside from Marmite it's the only proper craving I've had. 

Clothes: George Maternity are lifesavers at the moment. I've got a nice little collection of tops I'm wearing with my Bon Prix cropped jeans and a couple of gorgeous maxi dresses that might not be the most flattering shape but I stopped caring about that a long time ago!

Mood: Still a bit up and down due to all that's happened over the last month but mostly feeling positive and just the same as I did pre-diagnosis. Although I have definitely had a few super hormonal days where I've cried at photos of goats and a particularly pretty lamp. 

Worries: Lots but they feel like completely normal worries. I'm worried about my polyhydramnios because it's getting very heavy and painful at times which in turn makes me worry about going into early labour and then also the possibility of having it drained. I'm worried about what will happen when Pea is born and his first few days, mostly the idea of not being able to cuddle him and bring him home immediately. I'm worried about a lot of things but they feel normal in relation to the circumstances. 

Appointments: There was an endless slew of appointments with specialists and consultants for a while but they've slowed down now and I'm back to my regular midwife and obstetrician consultant appointments. Since getting the diagnosis my midwife has been visiting me weekly at home for informal chats as well as our scheduled antenatal appointments which have been really, really helpful. It's good to have someone to act as a sound board who can provide me with support as well as medical knowledge and advice. I seriously lucked out with her, she is bloody brilliant! 

Bump: Is huuuuuge! I'm bigger than I should be due to the polyhydramnios but I am oddly in love with my bump. Despite struggling to keep up with and get used to all the physical changes in my body I've loved my bump as soon as it appeared but even more so now it's a very obvious one. 

Best bit: Husband feeling Pea's kicks and movements finally! And having our first few Alien style movements too, they're so strange but magical!

Worst bit: The discomfort of the polyhydramnios and the sheer pain of SPD/PGP.  

Symptoms: Despite being sick a LOT during the two weeks in which we got our diagnosis and were in and out of hospitals, it's finally gone! I think it was probably due to the worry and stress but it's very nice to have hopefully seen the back of it. The heat and humidity is leaving me feeling a little lightheaded sometimes so I'm having to make sure I'm keeping hydrated and eating regularly. 

Movement: The little bugger is constantly moving around now! I'm starting to recognise his sleeping routines and what makes him jump about. His favourite position is laying across the bottom of my lower tummy with his head on my right side which means I'm feeling little hands stretching into my ribcage every now and then which is so uncomfortable! I'm also quite sure he does star jumps because I'm getting kicked in two or three different places at once sometimes! 

Looking forward to: Pea's bedroom being decorated at the weekend! I've got most of the furniture and decoration bits sorted so I'm really looking forward to it coming together. This is my Pinterest page dedicated to his grey, yellow and white themed nursery if you want to have a nose. 

Mrs D & Pea x

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

M&S PLUS Summer Style

My style has definitely changed during my pregnancy, primarily down to the fact that my options for flouncy, frivolous dresses are severely limited! When M&S got in touch to ask if I would like to style an outfit from their PLUS range fit for a summer occasion I was pleased to see a few pregnancy-friendly options. I was asked to pick an item from their dress collection and then choose a few other items to style it whilst keeping in mind a specific event which in my case was a baby shower! I wanted something that would be comfortable, brightly coloured, cool (heat-wise not Fonz-wise) that would show off my bump and this lime green vest dress ticked all of those boxes nicely. 

In order to accommodate my frankly enormous bump I sized up from my usual 24 to a 28 which fits perfectly. It does gape a little around the arms but any extra breeziness is very welcome at the minute! The burn-out print does make the dress a little sheer but I rather like it, plus it means it's incredibly light and soft. I also want to point out that I've washed this twice now and it's still as bright as it was to begin with!

I'm wearing my trusty maternity leggings, a delightfully floppy hat and this pretty bead and stick long necklace. Accessorising has definitely taken a back seat lately so the necklace and hat may not be particularly outlandish but they certainly felt a bit fancy for me. 

Plus size maternity

Plus size maternity
Proof that my kitties just will not leave me alone lately!

Due to all that's happened lately this post took me a little longer to write than usual which means the dress I'm wearing is unfortunately out of stock, however it is available in other colours up to a size 22 here.

I was pleasantly surprised by the M&S plus size collection, they have some really gorgeous bits in for the summer, very bright and colourful. Take a look and let me know if anything catches your eye!

Mrs D x


Monday, 15 June 2015

Our Diagnosis Story pt. 2

This is the second part of our story, you can find part one here. This is a very honest and emotional and if anything I say offends anyone, I apologise because it really isn't my intention. There are things in both of these posts I wasn't sure whether to include for this very reason but I really want to be honest about everything that happened and everything that went through our heads at the time. Reading other families' accounts of their experiences has helped me enormously and my hope is that by sharing this it might do the same for someone else. I also started this blog with the intention of giving an honest account of my experience of being plus size and pregnant whatever happened and I still want to do that, only now it's taken a slightly different turn.

When we heard the words 'Down's Syndrome' we had the strangest reaction. We both broke into huge grins. All we could think was our baby wasn't going to die. He was going to live and all I felt for days after was relief. Relief that it wasn't Edward's/Trisomy18, relief that we weren't going to lose him before we ever knew him. Having the prospect of the most awful scenario presented to us made digesting a diagnosis of Down's Syndrome a lot, lot easier. 

Eventually though, reality set in. Yes, he would get a chance at life but what sort of life would it be? We knew he would have a learning disability which in DS is usually mild to moderate; I felt as though we could deal with that. A learning disability can happen to the most normal, perfect child in the world. However, with DS comes a host of health problems and to begin with we were very much in the dark about those. As happy as we were that we weren't going to lose him, we had to make a decision about what a life with Down's Syndrome meant for our baby and with that came a very difficult decision. 

We had the phone call with the amniocentesis results late Friday afternoon which meant we had the whole weekend to let it sink in. We were told we would see my consultant on Monday but they didn't know what time because they hadn't had a chance to get hold of her. Come Monday I was so antsy and sick of waiting around I rang the hospital to give them a little nudge and they told us to come in later that day to see the same antenatal screening midwife we had seen the week before. No consultant. 

We spent an hour with her and another midwife and honestly, we walked away feeling no more knowledgeable or better equipped to deal with the situation than we had before we went in. I said to Mr D before that I expected them to just give us leaflets, tell us what ifs and leave us to it and that is exactly what they did which I can't blame them for because they have to be impartial. They gave us a booklet on what Down's Syndrome is and what causes it, reeled off a list of what potential health problems came with it and discussed with us whether we wanted to continue the pregnancy or not. They painted a pretty bleak picture and essentially we had to decide whether to terminate or continue. She talked us through the termination process which at 25+ weeks would be a bit different to usual which was very difficult to hear. It was the only time I really allowed myself to think about what that would actually be like. They told us that due to my gestation we would have to make a decision as to whether we wanted to terminate or not by that Thursday as a termination at that stage would require two physician's signatures and generally unless it's an already fatal condition they are reluctant to do so beyond 27/28 weeks. So, three and a half days. They gave us three and a half days to decide whether we continued the pregnancy or terminated on a basis of what ifs and possibilities. 

The only good thing that came from that meeting was them passing on an information pack from our local Northamptonshire Down's Syndrome support group called Ups n Downs. The pack had a handful of stories from parents about their babies and children and what life was like and information on what support what available. It was good to read real life experience and see photos of these beautiful, happy little children doing things every happy little child does. That pack really helped me. 

We went home with our heads spinning. Mr D was finding it all very, very difficult. His brother has special needs and he works as a teacher for children with ASD so his whole life revolves around disability. He just kept saying over and over again that he didn't want that life for us and for our baby which although was hard to hear I understood completely. It was clear from that day that we were both feeling quite differently about the decision we had to make. However, we're very different people. 

I am an eternal optimist to the point of being a little naive sometimes. Which is odd because for over half my life I've struggled with my mental health. In a strange way I feel like that's perhaps why my mental health has been so awful; because naturally I'm a cheery, optimistic, find-the-good-in-everything sort of person so when the darkness hits it knocks me completely off my feet. I'm a very hopeful person and hope is the one thing that has kept me going for years. 

My husband is the opposite. He's definitely a pessimist. He expects the worst to happen and the smallest thing will knock him sideways leaving a gaping hole for him to dwell on. He sees things in black and white and struggles with finding grey areas even in the most mundane things. So for him a diagnosis of DS meant every possible potential health problem would happen and his learning disability would no doubt be severe. He was even convinced he would have Autism too. He is still really struggling to separate our experience from his own family's and what he sees at work. 

We needed more information. My mum asked me why we hadn't been offered the scan in Leicester with a specialist that was offered the week before when we had to decide when to have the amnio, so I rang the hospital and asked if we could have that. Fortunately the specialist had a clinic at our hospital the next day so she gave us an appointment. As it was the next day she rang and said they had been discussing it and had decided to send us to Leicester the following day for the scan because they had also gotten us an appointment with the cardiologist to take a good look at his heart as 40% of babies with DS have a heart condition. It really felt then as though they were giving us the guidance and help we needed.

So, another day and a half of waiting and mulling everything over. Mr D was seriously struggling with it and it broke my heart. I had never really appreciated the physical bond and connection you have as a mother growing a child. For him this baby was still just a possibility, it wasn't a real thing yet but to me it was very much real. Every boot in my ribs and elbow in my bladder just strengthened my love for him. He no longer felt like the same baby to either of us but he still felt like my baby. I knew already I couldn't terminate. I think I knew from the second she told us he had DS but I still felt as though I needed to know more because as much as I couldn't imagine terminating a baby I had grown to love and know in a way purely because he wasn't as we imagined, I also wanted him to have a good, happy life. A life that wasn't a series of hospital visits, operations and a long list of things he couldn't do. I needed to know he would be okay.

Our day at Leicester was extremely long, tiring and overwhelming but it gave us everything we wanted. When we arrived the antenatal screening specialist told us he had also booked us an appointment with a neonatal consultant at the end of the day to discuss everything we'd seen and just to have a bit of counselling. I honestly could have kissed him. 

I don't want to go into too much detial about everything that came up as a result of the scan because I'd rather wait until we actually have to deal with them. However, I'm happy to share the basics. His small stomach, lack of swallowing and my high amniotic fluid levels were our main concern and whilst we do now know he has a blockage in his oesophagus (which is preventing him from swallowing and expelling the fluid). It's easily fixable and once it's fixed, it won't cause him a problem. The neonatal consultant said I will still be able to give him my expressed milk for the first couple of days and then I can go on to breastfeed. Obviously it will be more of a challenge but he said they will give me a lot of support and I'm already in touch with my local La Leche League and the few mothers there who breastfeed babies with DS. It feels so much more important for me to breastfeed him now because of the health benefits for him and the extra bonding but I'm trying not to put too much pressure on myself in case it doesn't turn out how I want it to.

My fluid levels are dangerously high. I don't know what unit they're measured in but the specialist showed us a chart and at 26 weeks they should be at 15, mine are just over 30. This means I'm at great risk of going into pre-term labour due to the pressure on my cervix so I have to be monitored very closely. The likelihood is I will be induced a few weeks early which is actually a good thing because they want me to deliver at Leicester instead of my local hospital so we can be where all the specialists are. 

The other thing that came up from that day is that he does have a very small hole in his heart. The cardiologist was fantastic and made us both feel very confident about it. She said of all the potential issues he could have with his heart, this is the best case scenario and quite often these little holes close up on their own. However, if it doesn't he will require a surgery but not until he's a little older. And as with his oesophagus, when it's fixed, it's fixed and shouldn't have any impact on his life after. He'll still be able to run around and do everything a child without a hole in the heart should. 

Obviously there any things that may not present until he's born or even a little older but the two things we were most worried about are easily dealt with and won't impact his life. The consultant told us the first year or so of his life will be more difficult than that of a child without DS but I feel as though we're prepared for that and he will be under care constantly so things will be picked up quickly. 

Although being there, going from appointment to appointment and being told all these things was really tough, talking to the neonatal consultant at the end of the day was so incredibly helpful. It was exactly what we needed. He let both of us just talk and be completely honest which is quite difficult to do when a) you both have different opinions and b) you're talking about something so loaded with a stranger. He told us to ignore the Thursday cut off date for making a decision, that we really couldn't make a pressured decision like that and a few days really weren't going to make a lot of difference. 

I left the hospital feeling so much lighter but Mr D was still not where I was yet. He said he knew termination wasn't an option which I was so grateful for because I knew I wanted to continue and I was scared he didn't feel the same way. At first it was difficult feeling so differently to him about something we'd both been on the same page about a few weeks before but I knew it would take him longer. Not just because of the sort of person he is but because of this physical bond I already had. 

All the doctors and midwives we had seen talked about conditions, a diagnosis and medical-ness. No one had talked about our baby except the neonatal consultant but even then it was brief and in amongst diagrams of hearts and body parts. It felt as though as little Pea had stopped being a baby and had just become a medical condition. He'd stopped being squishy flesh, tiny toes and 12 nappy changes a day and had become a hole in the heart, a learning difficulty and an operation. I had the benefit of being able to feel him wriggle and squirm and kick. I already knew his movement habits and what made him jump around. My husband didn't have that. He didn't feel that 'please don't wake up, start moving and keep me awake' feeling whenever I got out of bed to wee in the night, he didn't know that my absent minded awful singing made him wriggle, or that he really enjoys the space my empty, hungry tummy gives him. To him, our baby was suddenly not a baby but a list of medical jargon so of course it was going to take him longer to get to where I was. 

For days I worried he would never get there but he did and anyone reading this in the same position needs to know that. The day he went back to work he came home, knelt down next to the sofa, gave me a kiss and lifted up my t-shirt and gave my belly a kiss too and I cried with relief. Over a few days he started talking about our Pea again in the same way he did before. He made jokes, he rubbed my bump with wonder and talked to him just as before. He still isn't in the same place as I am but he's getting there slowly and I have no doubt that he will because why wouldn't he? This is our baby. Our baby we didn't think we would even have for such a long time that was such a wonderful, magical surprise. Our little miracle.

It's been two weeks since we found out our baby has Down's Syndrome but it feels so much longer. Yes, our lives might be a little different to what we expected and we don't know for sure what's on the horizon but what parent does? All I have thought throughout all of this is that nothing is certain. The most perfect, normal little children get cancer, they get in accidents, they have learning difficulties out of nowhere. Anything can happen to anyone. At least we know. We have forewarning and we can be prepared. It hasn't changed how I feel about our beautiful, wriggly little baby at all. Some days are more difficult but if anything, I think I love him more and I have been so comforted and overwhelmed by the love everyone else has for him too, before he's even born. Our friends and family have been incredible. We decided to tell people because it helped us come to terms with it and I am completely bowled over by people's words. My mum gave me the brilliant idea of printing off everyone's messages of support (of which there are a LOT!) to keep in his baby book so when I have hard days I can read them and remind myself of the kindness and love that surrounds us. Our baby might need extra care but at the end of the day all he really needs is love and there is definitely plenty of that to go around!

Mrs D & Pea x

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Our Diagnosis Story pt. 1

I wrote this nine days into what shall be known henceforth as 'The Strange Time'. I never had any intention of posting it, it was just a way of unloading everything that had happened out of my head. However, a few people have asked if I would be writing about our experience and although this is incredibly personal and emotional I decided it might actually be good to share it with the world. Nobody expects something like this to happen, I know we definitely didn't. It's a long read so I've split it into two parts, the next part of which I'll post tomorrow.

This is a very honest and emotional and if anything I say offends anyone, I apologise because it really isn't my intention. There are things in both of these posts I wasn't sure whether to include for this very reason but I really want to be honest about everything that happened and everything that went through our heads at the time. Reading other families' accounts of their experiences has helped me enormously and my hope is that by sharing this it might do the same for someone else. I also started this blog with the intention of giving an honest account of my experience of being plus size and pregnant whatever happened and I still want to do that, only now it's taken a slightly different turn.

The last nine days have been the most traumatic, exhausting and awful days of my life. We've gone from laughing at little hands waving at us from an ultrasound monitor to sobbing at little misshapen feet and what they might mean to not being able to look at all. We've gone from talking about what colour hair our baby will have to what colour his coffin should be to whether he'll ever be able to tell us what colours are at all. We both feel like we've been run over by a ten tonne truck forty times over. We've felt grief, desperation, relief, joy, apprehension, fear and so much more. 

I had a uterine doppler scan three weeks ago to check my risk for pre-eclampsia and other potential issues. During the scan the consultant noted that baby's stomach was very small and my fluid levels were very high leading her to believe he wasn't swallowing and expelling fluid as he should be. She initially put this down to potential Gestational Diabetes. I had the test a few days after which came back negative. I was incredibly pleased about the result, I didn't want to give up my Cinnamon Grahams. We had a second scan booked for last week to re-check my fluid and his tummy but we weren't worried because the consultant said it would probably go away. 

It hadn't. Infact, his stomach was so small she actually couldn't see it at all during the hour we were there. It never occurred to me that there was an issue, despite what was a twenty minute scan last time taking an hour, not even when she asked whether or not we had had the Nuchal Test for Down's Syndrome (we hadn't, we didn't think it would matter or that there would even be a chance). All Haydn and I could think was how lovely it was seeing those little hands waving at us when she lingered around his head and how long she took looking at his feet because it meant we got to too. I always listen to what they say to eachother, trying to understand the medical language but I wasn't even worried when the midwife said a measurement was off the chart, I just laughed to Haydn and said 'maybe you were right, he is going to be massive'. 

When she wiped what very little goo was left on my belly she told us she had picked a couple of things up that concerned her and that was when I started to worry. She said his feet were a bit of an odd shape; his heels were swollen giving them what they call a 'rocker bottom' appearance and his head wasn't quite the right shape either. Those two things combined with the problem with his stomach made her think he may have a chromosomal condition. She mentioned it in the same breath as Down's Syndrome but said the one he was presenting was called Trisomy 18/Edward's Syndrome but the only way we would know for sure was to have an amniocentesis. She said that although she's been doing antenatal screening for years she isn't an expert on it and we had two choices as to what we did next. We could have the amniocentesis that day (whilst being aware of the 1% chance of miscarriage) or we could wait until Thursday (it was Tuesday) and have a specialist scan at Leicester Royal Infirmary who could confirm the indicators then have the amnio. The results would take three working days so if we had it that day we would know by Friday but if we waited until Thursday we wouldn't know until next Tuesday. She wanted to do an internal exam because she was concerned the excess fluid in my stomach might cause my cervix to open so she asked me to go and empty my bladder and come back. As I waddled off to the toilet my head was spinning. I couldn't really make sense of what she had just said but I just kept thinking 'we can deal with a learning difficulty, it's not the end of the world'. 

When I went back in she had an image of his feet on the screen and was explaining to Mr D the shape of them. This is when I really saw that there was an issue. His feet really did look an odd shape. The midwife asked if we needed a minute or if we were okay to do the internal now and had we understood what the consultant was telling us. I asked if it just meant he would have a learning difficulty, to which the midwife took my hand as the consultant said words that will never, ever leave me. 'It means he's not compatible with life.' I looked at my lovely husband whose face will also stick in my mind forever. He looked like someone had just ripped his heart right out of his chest. I couldn't breathe. The consultant said she would leave us for a minute to talk. I am forever grateful to the midwife who didn't leave the room but instead talked us through what that actually meant. She told us the consultant would never have mentioned if it she wasn't really sure but that sometimes scans aren't always right and baby might be fine which is why we were given the option of having a more in depth scan at Leicester. She did keep mentioning the fact though that at 25 weeks he was past the survival stage which I didn't really understand at the time. I now know that what that meant was I was past the termination stage and at the give-birth-to-a-live-baby-who-would-die stage. 

Eventually my husband and I were left alone for a few minutes. We just held eachother and wept. We looked at eachother with absolute terror and said we could not believe this was happening. It felt like we had just been hit by a truck. I decided to get the internal out of the way so we could sit down properly and talk. I don't remember the internal exam or much of what happened after, just that we ended up in the 'quiet room'. All I could think about whilst we sat and waited for a specialist midwife to come and speak to us was how many people had sat here and had their lives changed forever. She explained what Trisomy 18/Edward's Syndrome was and that children with it didn't survive long. They could live a year or so but none made it to school age. I don't remember much of what was said other than that. We both agreed we needed to know as soon as possible so we wanted the amnio that day which meant waiting until the consultant had finished scanning patients. We waited in that room for three hours. I remember thinking how ridiculous it was that there weren't any tissues in there and looking out of the window thinking it was such a beautiful day. I didn't take my hand off my belly once. We cried, a lot. We asked why us and why our baby and cried some more. 

The amniocentesis was unpleasant. Mr D sat next to me and laid his hand next to my head and held my arm with the other. It sounds odd but being able to nuzzle his hand with my head was the most comforting thing he could have done. The midwife sat the other side and put her hand on my shoulder and helped me with my breathing to make sure my tummy was as relaxed as possible. The needle didn't hurt as such but it was uncomfortable. I felt it pop through my muscle and could physically feel it inside my belly. I was terrified the whole time that Pea would wriggle as he so often does and hit the needle but the consultant was so careful and precise. Afterwards she scanned to check his heartbeat which was fine. Hearing it still had the same calming, magical effect but this time I felt completely heartbroken with it. 

We left the hospital with the promise of a phone call on Friday the second the results came through and a booklet we were advised not to read until we got those results. I still haven't read the booklet but I know it details termination. I rang my mum as soon as we got home. Saying the words out loud felt alien. My mum just sobbed. She wanted to come over there and then but all I wanted to do was sleep so she promised to come the next morning. Telling my mum made me realise how this wasn't going to affect just us, this was going to affect everyone we loved and who loved us. 

We got into bed, held eachother and cried. I fell asleep clutching my belly but he couldn't bring himself to touch it or even look at it. He deleted scan photos off his phone. It felt like he was trying to erase him which hurt me but I understand now it was just too painful for him. 

Wednesday and Thursday are a blur. We talked a lot. We talked about how unfair it was, how we didn't deserve this, how unbelievably sad it was. We talked about what we would do if the results came back positive. I refused to look the condition up until Thursday and then I read every single thing I could possibly find. We talked about whether we could let him go full term, bring him into the world and live second to second not knowing how much time he had. We talked about whether we would regret not having whatever time we would have with him if we induced labour early. We talked about funerals. We talked about what we had wanted for him. We talked about how we would never, ever be the same again. 

I am forever grateful to my mum who refused to leave us and stayed in a hotel down the road just in case we needed her. Mr D shut himself off completely and didn't want to see anyone which is how he deals with things whereas I am the opposite. I need people. I didn't want time to think, I wanted chatter and noise. My mum took me out for some lunch on the Wednesday and I burst into a pile of tears when a little boy toddled past me. Mr D didn't eat for a while. I threw up everything I did eat. One of my two best friends, Victoria, was over from Amsterdam for the weekend (I was meant to be throwing her a 30th birthday party on the Friday). Mr D and I went and told his parents on the Thursday which was just horrible. His mum was heartbroken and even though his dad doesn't say a lot or show his emotion I could see how upset he was. After we left them Mr D went fishing and I spent a few hours with my mum and Victoria. Fishing is his meditation. He really struggled. He went from anger to sadness to acceptance and back to anger. He shut me out completely one minute but then wouldn't leave my side the next. Fishing really helped give him time to think and process what was happening. For me, I needed distraction and my mum and best friend gave me that. They talked about other things but let me talk whenever I needed to without any judgement. They reminded me that I was still pregnant and still needed to look after myself, that it was okay to smile whenever he kicked. I will never be able to thank them enough for being there. 

Friday was long and torturous. We tried to stay at home but couldn't settle so we went for a drive. We wanted lunch but couldn't face people so got a McDonalds and sat in the car at a nature reserve to eat. By 2pm we couldn't stand the waiting so I rang the hospital and asked if they had heard anything. She said the results normally come in late afternoon but she would ring the second they did. We went home and laid on the bed so I could have a sleep. 

I was asleep when they finally rang so took a second to realise that Mr D was shoving my phone in my hand. We put it on speaker phone and held hands. 

It wasn't Trisomy 18. It was Down's Syndrome.

You can read part two of our story here.

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Splish Splash - Plus Size Swimwear

Ohhh how I wish I was going to be donning one of these beauties and lounging in the sunshine on a beach at some point over the next couple of months but at 7 months pregnant I'm likely to be harpooned by mistake. We have booked ourselves in for a spa week a few weeks before Pea's arrival though so hopefully I will get to lounge/waddle round a lovely pool at least. 

Plus size swimwear options used to be very limited. Generally black or navy, heavy on the control panels with the occasional big shapeless skirt but not anymore! The invention of the 'fatkini' seems to have paved the way for funky, bright, sexy bikinis and one pieces for the squishier bodies and I could not love it more. When I started this post I honestly had about 20 tabs open of items I wanted to include, the options are endless! However, I didn't want to overwhelm you too much so I've narrowed it down to a modest 12.

Forever21+ Abstract Corset Bikini - Top £14 - Bottoms £12 - up to size 3X (approx. UK24)

Elomi Tahoe Bikini - Top (on sale) £35.20 - Briefs (on sale) £30.40 - up to size 26/44HH

Yours Purple Floral Swimsuit - £30 - up to size UK28

Forever21+ Tropical Bikini - Bandeau top £12 - Bottoms £11 - up to size 3X (approx. UK24)

Curvy Kate Luau Love Bikini - Top £35 - Brief £18 - up to size 22/40K

Evans Cherry Print Swimdress - £42 - up to a size UK32

Forever21+ Sunflower Swimsuit - £23 - up to size 3X (approx. UK24)

Magisculpt Bum Lifter Swimsuit - £42 - up to size UK32 (available in black and white spot) 

Forever21+ Striped Floral Swimsuit - £23 - up to size 3X (approx. UK24)

ASOS Curve 50s Halter Bikini - Top £20 - Bottoms £16 - up to size UK28

Forever21+ Mesh Panel Swimsuit - £19 - up to size 3X (approx. UK24)

Forever 21+ Tropical Bikini - Corset Top £14 - Cheeky Bottoms £12 - up to size 3X (approx. UK24)

Forever 21 are killing it with their plus size bikinis and swimsuits, they're all so vibrant and cute! My favourite is definitely the sunflower one, so much so I'm tempted to buy it now to put away for after Pea is born.

Which are your favourites? Tell me about your impending holidays and make me green with envy please!

Mrs D x 
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