Thursday, 23 July 2015

Pregnancy Update - Week 33

Sleep:  Where has my beautiful sleep gone?! Pea is taking advantage of my lovely quiet, peaceful body and has started having his raves in the middle of the night now which wake me up, then I need a wee and by the time I've gotten back in bed I'm awake and it takes me ages to fall back to sleep. I know they say it's preparing me for sleepless nights to come but he'll be snoring away in hospital 40 miles away so how is that fair?!

Eating: Nectarines are my food of choice this week. And strawberries.  

Clothes: Still rotating the only few that fit me because it seems silly to buy anything so close to the end. I have been stocking up on packs of giant pants and nighties for my hospital bag though! 

Appointments: No more weekly daycare, yay! My blood pressure has gone down and is stable so instead of spending 3 hours having it monitored and having bloods taken every week I just have to see my midwife to get it and my urine checked. I'm so pleased because I was worrying about pre-eclampsia and such for a while but it seems like my body has had a word with itself and is doing well again. 

We had our second growth scan this week and everything looks good. He is measuring 5lb 3oz which I'm hoping is as inaccurate as everyone says because otherwise I'll be looking at delivering a 9-10lb baby! My mother in law came with me to my appointment and it was the first time she'd been to a scan with me which was lovely, she got quite weepy! 

I was also given my induction date at my appointment! 24th August we have to ring Leicester Royal at 7am to make sure there's a cot available in the NICU and if there is then away we go. I felt a bit hysterical when she told me, it suddenly feels very real! 

Mood: A lot, lot better than the last couple of weeks. It helps that Mr D has finished work for the summer (he's a teacher) so I've got some company during the day now. 

Worries: I think I'm slowly coming to terms with the idea of him being in hospital longer than we thought, I'm finding talking about it a lot to people is helping, plus I've been in touch with a couple of support groups for DS who have been invaluable. I'm still worried about how we'll cope but I know we will because we won't have a choice. 

Bump: I still don't feel like it's gotten any bigger over the last couple of weeks but when I saw my midwife the other day she said it definitely had!  

Best bit: Two really lovely things have happened in the last three weeks; we went and met some families at our local DS support group which was fantastic and I had my baby shower! I'm going to write a separate post on my baby shower and share some photos because it was so, so lovely. My best friend put insane amounts of effort into it, I want to have one every week!

Worst bit: Just the few moments of worry and sadness I've had about Pea being in hospital. There have been a lot of tears.    

Symptoms: Exhausted. I have never felt so exhausted in my life! I wake up feeling like my body hasn't slept at all.  

Movement: All sorts of Alien style movement now. I watched a knee try to break free a minute ago! 

Looking forward to: Our second antenatal class this weekend. We're doing a signature one with the NCT over two days, the first of which was really good. I was in quite a lot of pain by the afternoon though because it's sitting on chairs all day but I took my birthing ball and switched back and forth to ease the pressure on my pelvis. Would anyone be interested in a blog post outlining what's involved and whether it's worth investing in an NCT course rather than the standard NHS?  

Mrs D & Pea x

Friday, 17 July 2015

Nearing The End & Thinking About The Beginning & Middle

We're now 6 weeks away from my induction date (although it's yet to be booked) and I'm suddenly feeling quite reflective about the last 32 weeks. There will be no structure to this post unfortunately, I'm just going to be a brain unload!

If you had told me this time last year that I would be about to welcome a child into the world I would laughed in your actual face. Not because it wasn't something I had thought about or wanted but simply because I just never believed it would happen. 

I was diagnosed with PCOS in the early twenties and was told the chances of conceiving naturally were extremely slim. I had the Mirena coil fitted about 5 years ago to try and control some of my symptoms but due to it not being fitted correctly (the two arms that embed it into the uterus weren't released...thanks for that!) it just caused me problem after problem. After nearly two years of being told it took time to settle down I demanded it was removed which is when my GP discovered it hadn't been fitted properly. At that time we had a talk about my fertility and she went through mine and my husband's options. We didn't use any contraception after the coil was removed but didn't make an enormous effort about tracking ovulation dates and such, just kept going as we were. However, in 2013 we decided we wanted some more information so we could prepare ourselves for what was ahead so I made an appointment with my GP again. I was told my weight played a big factor in not conceiving and was referred to an obesity clinic which in itself was a bit of an adventure. I wrote about it on my plus size fashion blog, Frivolous Mrs D, here if you're interested in how it worked and why I found it tough. As it was my mental health took a very bad crash at the beginning of 2014 and as such I stopped attending and any thoughts of starting the fertility treatment route took a back seat to just keeping me well. 

And yet, somehow a year later I fell pregnant! I still have no idea how it happened. Well, I know how it happened but I don't really understand why. I remember telling my two best friends on a Friday that I was feeling a bit unwell which coincided with my period being late and I was going to have to take a pregnancy test to rule it out and how much I hated having to do that. I hated it because I knew I would never be pregnant out of the blue but I would still get that little flutter of hope only for it to be destroyed within three long minutes. I never, ever imagined that flutter of hope that normally physically hurt me would turn into flutters of joy and disbelief. I remember asking my husband to get me a pregnancy test on his way home from work and him asking whether I really needed it because he knew as much as I did how unlikely it was. I remember needing to go to the toilet in the evening and saying 'oh I might as well just do it now and get the misery out of the way'. I remember staring at that little screen preparing myself for the inevitable emotional kick in the face and not quite believing what I saw. Even though it said 'pregnant' I actually told myself and my husband when I managed to make my legs work and go down the stairs that the 'not' part would come in a minute. And when it didn't we both stood in the living staring at this little bit of plastic shouting 'WHAT THE F*CK?' at eachother and laughing hysterically! 

All I have ever wanted is to have my own family. I've not had a career and I've not really wanted one. I've always loved writing as a hobby. As a child I wanted to be an author or something along those lines and I spent a few years enjoying being a Teaching Assistant but I've never had that pull to a career. When I thought about my future I saw myself being a mother. Being told in my early twenties when I was just starting my life with my husband that it may not happen was heartbreaking. We expected a long, painful and emotionally draining fertility battle and were just getting to the point that we were ready to embark on it in a year or so. Falling pregnant so unexpectedly was nothing short of a miracle. I still had PCOS, I was/am very overweight and yet somehow, it happened. For quite a while I actually felt guilty for being pregnant. I didn't feel like we had earned it, that we didn't deserve it because we hadn't gone through the difficult time we were expecting to. I felt guilty that people I know and love have struggled for such a long time to fall pregnant and here I was expecting to go through the same thing but I didn't. I questioned why I deserved it more than they did. It was a very strange time during early pregnancy and I did struggle with that guilt for quite a while. However, no one ever questioned it and actually the people I thought would back off from me in order to protect themselves from heartbreak were some of the happiest for me. 

This pregnancy hasn't been easy from the beginning. I had a threatened miscarriage (a substantial amount of unexplained bleeding) in the first 12 weeks to the point that we were convinced I had had a full miscarriage and had an early scan at 7 weeks. I will never, ever forget the relief at hearing Pea's heartbeat for the first time that day. I would say I've never felt anything like it but actually I did 18 weeks later when we found out he didn't have Edward's Syndrome. I've experienced horrible sickness that lasted right up until about 28 weeks and have generally felt very ill all along. I developed SPD/PGP at 20 weeks that has left me on crutches and unable to move very far. I have polyhydramnios which is incredibly uncomfortable and poses potential danger to the baby. And then we've had the shock of finding out that not only does Pea have Down's Syndrome but that he has three health problems, two of which will require operations when he's a baby and lengthy hospital stays. I've been on rest for the last few weeks and will be now until he arrives. It's not been an easy ride at all! 

I had some unhelpful comments from a couple of people one day when I was having a bit of a moan about not feeling great where I was told I should be more grateful that I'm pregnant and enjoy it a bit more which naturally really upset me. This was before we received our diagnosis and if I'm honest I doubt they would say similar now but it still hurt. Sometimes it is hard to enjoy being pregnant when you're in pain, feeling horribly unwell and like you're not in control of your body or anything around you but you don't need people to point that out. Even as someone who would have given anything to be feelings those things, it doesn't make experiencing them any easier! Of course I'm grateful I'm pregnant and despite it actually being an incredibly tough few months I wouldn't change any of it for the world. Obviously I wouldn't wish my child had a learning disability that will present him with lifelong challenges and obviously I don't want my baby to go through operations and if I had a magic wand I would probably make it different but I don't for a second wish it wasn't happening. I truly believed I would never get to experience carrying a child and although it's been very tough at times for various reasons I would not swap this experience or this particular baby for anything. 

As I'm writing this my beautiful little boy is pushing against my belly with what I think is a knee so hard I can see it poking out and yet it still doesn't seem real. I am still partly convinced this isn't a baby at all, it really is just crisps and Marmite and I'm not sure I'll really believe it until I actually see him. Our lives have been turned upside down twice, once when we found out we were having a baby and again when we found out about his diagnosis, and now we're preparing ourselves for the third upside down when he arrives. It's been such a bizarre year but I would not change it for the world. It's been the happiest year of my life, so much has changed, so much is about to change and I cannot wait. 

Mrs D & Pea x

Friday, 3 July 2015

Pregnancy Update - Week 30

I know I only did one last week but it feels like a lot has happened so I wanted to do a little update. 

Sleep:  Still struggling to get a full night's sleep without the agony of turning over. And now I'm having to get up to wee every time I wake up which is a lot!

Eating: My appetite always disappears when it's hot and this week has been a scorcher. Wednesday got up to a ridiculous 37 degrees so I've been having to force myself to eat light things like cold salads. 

Clothes: My George maxi dresses have been a god send in this heat, although I'll be honest I've been spending a lot of time hanging out in my knickers and a vest!

Appointments: I've had a couple of daycare appointments over the last two weeks as I mentioned in my post about pre-eclampsia so although they've been a bit tiresome, they're necessary and have actually had good outcomes. My blood pressure is lowering and I'm still free of any other signs of pre-eclampsia. 

I had a second appointment at Leicester Royal this week with the fetal medicine consultant and a neonatal surgeon to discuss Pea's plan of care. Husband was working but fortunately my mama stepped in for him. We had a bit of a shock in that the surgeon told us he believes Pea's problem with his oesophagus is slightly more complicated than they initially thought. Basically it will be one of two things, one is a lot simpler to deal with and will mean him being in hospital for a week or so but the other is more complicated and will mean him being in hospital for around three months. Mr D and I had been talking the night before when we thought it was the simpler problem and had decided we would stay in the hospital for the length of his stay because we just can't face coming home without him, so hearing that he's likely to be in for such a long period of time has really knocked me back. 

There were two positives to come from the appointment though. The first being that I had a growth scan whilst I was there and he's already a little chunk! He's already weighing 3lb 15oz so we're definitely looking at an 8lb+ baby even though I'll be induced around 38 weeks. The consultant was really pleased because it means he's got a bit of strength and some reserves behind him. The second good thing is that my fluid has reduced! Not only is this great because it means my risk of early labour has reduced, it also means it's likely that Pea is starting to swallow. My body could be absorbing it somehow but it's more likely he is swallowing. How that works with them thinking his oesophagus issue is the worst case scenario I don't know but we'll just have to wait and see. 

We were also shown round the Neonatal Unit whilst we were there which was very, very tough but I'm so glad I did it. It was very emotional seeing the teeny prem babies and as awful as it sounds I just kept telling myself  'at least he won't be that tiny'. I got to talk to a couple of mums, one of whom was feeding her beautiful baby her breast milk through his feeding tube which gave me hope that I'll be able to do the same. I was amazed at their strength because right now I can't imagine being in there and not being a pile of tears. I have so much faith in the staff though, they were fantastic and although it's going to be really difficult, he will be in the best place possible. 

Mood: Definitely on the down side over the last week due to that appointment, dealing with the reality of that and some pretty shitty things happening to the people I love. It might seem childish but I'm very much in a 'it's not fair/why/the universe is horrible' place at the minute and am very tearful but if that's how I need to deal with it, that's how I need to deal with it.  

Worries: Lots. I'm worried about how we'll cope with Pea being in hospital for such a long time, how we'll even be able to come home without our baby. how Mr D will be able to go to work and how I'll be able to sit at home with nothing to do knowing my baby is on a ward 40 miles away. How we'll work out travelling to see him with only one car when Mr D will be at work. I'm worried that my baby won't know who I am if I'm not with him all the time or that we'll miss out on so much by not being there. The list is endless. And I am very, very worried about a few dear friends at the minute who are going through some incredibly tough times.  

Bump: I don't feel like it's gotten any bigger the last couple of weeks. I think my fluid reducing and Pea growing has balanced out a little.  

Best bit: Seeing my little Pea wave at me on my growth scan. 

Worst bit: The appointment.   

Symptoms: I'm actually feeling quite okay despite the awful heat. I think because of that I'm making an extra effort to look after myself and take it easy. The SPD/PGP is still making everything rubbish but it's not getting worse which is a definite plus. 

Movement: He is definitely running out of room rapidly! I'm having a lot of visible pushes and stretches now which can be uncomfortable sometimes but mostly just bloody magical. 

Looking forward to: Meeting some families and children with Down's Syndrome this weekend. Our local support group do monthly meetings, one for parents and young children and one at a local soft play centre which is the one we'll be going to. I'm a bit nervous about meeting new people but looking forward to being able to access support from people who have had similar experiences to us. Mr D thinks he's going to get to go in the soft play bit and play with the kids haha!  

Mrs D & Pea x

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Plus Size Mama Style - M&S

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

Plus size maternity

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

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Tips For Keeping Cool When Pregnant

Everyone assumes if you're plus size you hate the summer and spend the entire few months sweating and cursing that burning ball of fire in the sky. Personally I love sunshine and blue skies but I like to appreciate them from the shade preferably near some air conditioning and I've always been like that no matter what size I am. Being pregnant though makes the heat ten times more challenging, especially if you're not a massive fan to begin with.

When you're pregnant your body temperature is a little higher then usual anyway which puts you at risk of heat exhaustion as you're trying to cool down baby as well as yourself. As soon as the temperature increased a couple of weeks ago I started getting light headed, tired out a lot quicker than usual and generally found myself struggling a bit more. Despite the temperature having crept up over 30 degrees today I'm not doing too badly because I've found a few tips and tricks to keep me cool and I thought I'd share them! 

1. Keep hydrated. This is so important when it's warm, you need to be replacing electrolytes if you're getting a bit sweatier than usual. It doesn't have to just be water, get creative! My favourite drink at the minute is crushed ice, lemonade and a berry flavoured juice. Cocktails are my favourite thing about summer so I'm having fun making pregnant-friendly mocktails in lieu of all the tasty booze.

2. Invest in a fan. I have two electric fans in the house, one in the bedroom and one in the living room and they are marvellous. Opening windows does absolutely nothing at the minute because there's very little breeze so these are great for pushing some cool air around the room. 

3. Keep your feet cool. Swollen feet are common during pregnancy no matter what the temperature is like but heat will only make them worse. Get yourself a big washing up bowl, fill it with cold water and dunk your feet in. 

4. Don't over do it. If you can, do as little as humanly possible. Now is the time to renew your Netflix subscription, put your feet up (or in your cool water!) and eat ice lollies in your pants all day. Obviously if you've got other little ones to look after then you're going to be a bit busier but chuck them in a paddling pool and distract them with lollies. Mama needs rest. Try and do any jobs you need to do early in the morning and later in the afternoon so you're avoiding moving around a lot during those peak heat hours. 

5. Have a splash! Get yourself down to the local swimming pool and cool off in the water. Swimming is great when you're pregnant because it's such a gentle exercise that takes pressure off all those places that take the brunt of the extra weight. It can also help reduce any swelling you might have in your ankles and feet. If you can't get to a pool, get yourself a paddling pool and hang out in that all day! Just make sure you position it under the shade and smother yourself in sun cream. 

6. Wear loose, cotton clothing. I've been living in a maxi dress I got from George at Asda. It's not flattering in the slightest and closely resembles a marquee but it is lovely and cool. Tight, restrictive clothing is only going to make you feel hotter and stay away from the polyester!

7. Nap. Guilt free napping is one of the perks of being pregnant so take full advantage! It's bloody tiring growing a human so take yourself off to bed for an hour or so in the afternoon and enjoy your body's clever cooling down while you sleep mechanism. 

8. Spritz! Keep a little spray bottle with you wherever you go to spritz on your face as a quick cool down. There are all sorts you can get, either a fancy Thermal Water Spray, a refreshing toner like the Lush Breath of Fresh Air or simply just fill a spray bottle with tap water.

9. Frozen flannels. Pop a couple of flannels in the freezer or just soak them in cold water and lay them across the back of your neck if you need a quick cool down. Laying them on your inner wrists is also helpful, as is running your wrists under cool water.

10. Tepid baths. Don't be fooled into  thinking a cold shower or bath will cool you down because your body will actually try to heat itself up as a reaction to the full body shock (hence why pool water is never actually cold). Instead, run yourself a tepid bath. I turn my cold tap on full then my hot one so it literally just takes the edge off and lay like broccoli in it for an hour or so. 

Have you got any other tips for how to keep cool? 

A Nice and Chilly Mrs D & Pea x

What To Expect: Pre-Eclampsia

The dreaded pre-eclampsia is threatening to rear its head and I am not impressed!

Twice now I've ended up on the Fetal Health Unit after seeing the consultant as a result of my blood pressure being higher than usual. My blood pressure has been on the high side since my first trimester when I was started on Labetalol to keep it under control but over the last month or so it's not been playing nicely. It's a little scary being sent to be monitored because you assume something is drastically wrong but actually, they're just being careful. High blood pressure (hypertension) is the biggest symptom of pre-eclampsia so it's much better to be on the safe side. When I've been transferred up to the FHU they've popped me on a bed, taken my blood pressure every half an hour five times, taken a set of bloods to rule out infection, tested my urine to check for protein (another sign) and once I was past around 26/27 weeks popped me on a CTG monitor to check baby's heart-rate. The first time it happened it was a little unnerving but fortunately all the midwives on my FHU are absolutely lovely and eased my worry. Once all the checks were done a doctor came along to review everything and decided on a plan of action. 

I was referred onto FHU last Monday after seeing the consultant and my plan was to be seen on Friday and then again the following Monday. My blood pressure mean was still moderately high on Friday so the doctor requested I increase my Labetalol and provided it's a little lower on Monday then I don't need to be seen in daycare again and can just have my blood pressure monitored weekly by my midwife. i'm asymptomatic at the moment meaning I don't have any other signs of pre-eclampsia but if I did then I would have these weekly checks once a week until the end of my pregnancy. Yes, it's a bit of a pain the bum spending 3+ hours in the hospital every week but it's a lot, lot better than the alternative. All you need is a few snacks, a good book and a puzzle book! It also helps if you have lovely midwives to natter to. 

So, what are the symptoms of pre-eclampsia? 

High blood pressure (hypertension)
Protein in the urine
Sudden swelling in the feet, hands, ankles of face 
Headaches or migraines
Problems with vision
Pain below the ribs 

Who can get pre-eclampsia? It affects 5% of pregnancies but there are a few things that can increase your chances of developing it, such as: 

If this is your first pregnancy
If you've developed it during a previous pregnancy
If you're over 40
If you have a family history of the condition
If you're having expecting multiple babies
If you have diabetes
If you had high blood pressure before your pregnancy

Your risk of pre-eclampsia can be detected with a uterine doppler scan which a lot of health care trusts perform if your BMI is over 30. According to my consultant this practice has only taken place during the last 3 years after 10 years of research that showed women with a BMI over 30 are at higher risk. It's a simple scan performed in exactly the same way as an ultrasound that measures the blood flow through the umbilical cord and the arteries into the uterus. 

It can be a little frustrating being plus size and pregnant because more often than not you'll be hearing a lot about what can go wrong as a result of your size but rest assured that developing pre-eclampsia is not your fault. Women of all sizes can get it. My mum was a size 8 when she developed it during her first pregnancy and I know many women with a 'normal' BMI who have had it. However, don't be offended if you're offered the uterine doppler scan to check your risk for it because any knowledge is good knowledge. I know I'm at higher risk for developing it now so I can be extra aware of any symptoms that may arise. I've been taking a low dose of Aspirin since week 12 due to my high BMI which should also help prevent it developing but I'm on the lookout regardless.  Also, without having that scan we would never have found out about Pea having Down's Syndrome so for once, being a porker benefited me! 

Mrs D & Pea x
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