Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Plus Size Boobin' - ASOS Curve Ditsy Dress

If I thought finding plus size maternity clothes was hard, the lack of plus size breastfeeding friendly clothes is on a whole other level. As such, since having my little boob fiend my clothing options have become severely limited. (And don't even get me started on big cup nursing bras...) The dresses that made up the majority of my wardrobe have been packed away and the struggle to find clothes I can easily and quickly flop a boob out in is very real. Thankfully over the last couple of years I've become friends with jeans again (infact, I posted about my first foray into full length jeans in years in 2014!) meaning I mostly do the 'one up, one down' method of wearing a long vest top under regular tops. I simply lift the top up and pull my vest down along with my bra and voila, easy to feed in and my tummy doesn't get cold/turn everyone in a five mile radius to stone.

However, I miss dresses. I miss flouncing and swishing about and general feeling like myself. In order to be able to breastfeed in dresses they either need to be an unstitched wrap or button down style. Annoyingly these are far and few between (or at least, the ones I actually like are) but I do have a couple of dresses I've found that I really like.

My favourite is this Ditsy Button Through Dress from ASOS Curve. I saw it on George from Fuller Figure Fuller Bust's Instagram and after zooming in on her boobies (thanks for that feature, IG) I realised it had buttons and therefore needed to be mine. 

Despite looking a bit like Dr Quinn, Medicine Woman, I LOVE it. I got my usual size 24 and although the material isn't stretchy, there's more than enough room with two buttons undone to get my huge boob out. The buttons have held up really well with being undone all the time which I'm pleased with because I was worried they'd get a bit loose and considering I forget to do my bra back up most of the time I'm at high risk of flashing. 

I'm struggling with my two-babies-in-two-years-mummy-tummy at the minute so the fact that it's loose around my hips and hangs so beautifully is very welcome. To give it a little more shape though, I added a thin belt. I normally couldn't give a hoot about cinching in my waist but I wasn't keen on the shape without it. I was also pleasantly surprised by the length as normally midi dresses are just dresses on me and my long legs but this is genuinely mid-calf. (As a side note, my two best friends were saying how much they wanted this dress and amusingly one is 6ft1 and the other is about 5ft2 so between the three of us we'd probably end up with one maxi dress, one midi and one regular length!) 

plus size breastfeeding friendly dress

I'm not very good at styling clothes if I'm honest so I stick to wearing it with thick woolly tights from the Big Tights Company, my favourite burgundy wide fit Chelsea boots from Simply Be and a soft knit cardigan from Yours. It feels very seasonally appropriate and it's definitely one of my newer outfits that makes me feel a bit more me. 

plus size breastfeeding friendly dress

Mrs D x

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Rainbow Baby Update - Lilian at 2 Months

rainbow baby update two months old

Well, it's been a while, hasn't it?! Everyone tells you how quickly time passes when they're here but you have to live it to really believe it. It seems crazy how those last few weeks of pregnancy dragged, wrought with anxiety and fear that we would never get to this point, and now I feel like I've blinked and ten weeks have passed yet on the other hand I can barely remember life before!

I wish I had written a couple of these posts before now because Lily has changed so rapidly but it turns out having a newborn is really quite time consuming! And on the off chance that she naps for longer than half an hour during the day, I'm using that time to eat, go to the toilet or tidy up. It's only now we're getting into some semblance of a routine (ick, that word makes me shudder...) that I can sit down and find time to do a few more 'me' things.

Lilian arrived a little earlier than planned at 37+1, after five long days in hospital prior to her birth. I'm going to write her birth plan at some point in far more detail but the short version is there were a few concerns about her growth and my health so I was admitted and labour was induced. Despite labour taking four days to get started the end she arrived very quickly in less than four hours from my first contraction to her slippery body being placed on my chest! Every worry, fear and anxiety vanished the second I laid eyes on her. (It returned pretty soon after but they were different ones!) She completely stole my heart and those first few hours of her life will remain the greatest of mine forever.

It's been incredible to see her develop so much in such a short space of time. She started as this teeny, scrunchy, fragile little thing who only fed (a LOT), slept and pooed and within days she was alert and noticing things. I loved those first few days of alertness where she looked permanently suspicious with her furrowed little brow and narrowed eyes. Now she is wide awake, intrigued in everything and constantly discovering new things.

We had our first proper smile at four weeks old. She had woken up for a feed and as I reached over to her she beamed at me! At first I wasn't sure if I had just imagined it because it was dark but when she did it again at the next feed I knew that smile was all for me and my boobies! Since then she has been full of toothless, eye-crinkly grins that even on my worst days fill me with such joy.

Shortly after her first smile Lily began to interact with the toys on her play gym. She had been quite happily laying there for a couple of weeks gazing at the bright colours but one day she suddenly started whacking the toys with her hands. The first few times she did it we wrote it off as coincidence but soon she started grinning after she did it and the movements were happening repeatedly. It certainly didn't take her long to realise that waving her limbs around meant things danced around and now, a few weeks later she's started to grab!

Her favourite toy is her Lamaze Purring Percival. She can spend a good half an hour in her Fisher-Price Rainforest Rocker batting Percival, grinning, cooing and yelping at him. The Lamaze toys are a definite favourite in this house, their bright colours and interactivity are so appealing to little eyes. Although she loves Percival, she isn't as much of a fan of her rocker as I thought she'd be. She much prefers her play mat where she can kick her legs and roll around. The Baby Einstein Nautical Play Mat was one of the first things I bought for her whilst I was pregnant. I was incredibly apprehensive about buying things but Mothercare had £50 off it (RRP is £80!) and I couldn't let it pass. I'm so glad I did because Lily loves it! Especially if we turn the starfish on. It plays tunes and lights up in time to the music and she goes absolutely nuts for it! She kicks her legs like crazy and squawks and yelps, it's amazing to watch.

For the first eight days of Lily's life I survived (I'm using that term loosely...) on a maximum of two hours sleep every 24 hours and it was hell. I had spent five days in hospital where I didn't sleep due to having to wake to do my blood sugars every two hours for 48 hours and being monitored very regularly so I was already running low on reserves. Add into that a quickly developing pain-relief-free labour that took every ounce of my energy, the stress from the feeding issues we were having and the overwhelming emotions I was feeling at having my rainbow baby, I was quite the mess. For the first few days of Lily's life she wouldn't sleep unless it was someone (and quite rightly considering she'd just spent 37 weeks tucked up nice and snug in my tummy) but my awful anxiety meant I was terrified to let her sleep on Haydn in case he fell asleep and she fell off him. Even when she did sleep I was too scared to sleep in case something happened to her. Day eight was a turning point when I had a bit of a breakdown, mostly induced by a delightful dose of mastitis and the breastfeeding stress reaches its peak. After that things seemed to get a little easier. I don't know if it was just because I'd reached peak crazy and got it all out or whether Lily simply adjusted a bit more to life earth-side but the intensity lifted somewhat.

In terms of sleep we've been incredibly lucky. Lily slept through the night for the first time at six weeks and bar a few nights has gone from 10pm to 5.30am since. Up until around eight weeks Lily slept in her Sleepyhead inside her Snuzpod but despite the Sleepyhead being suitable for up to eight months, she seemed to grow out of it very quickly. It was invaluable in those first few weeks though and we're thinking now about investing in the larger size. Lily settles at night quite easily which I'm very grateful for! She'll stir a few times from around 4am but all I need to do is lay my hand on her chest or pop her dummy in and she goes straight back off again. I love the Snuzpod for being able to do that so easily I barely have to open an eye myself!

Lily latched on easily soon after she was born and I hoped that was the start of problem-free breastfeeding but after a couple of days at home I realised it was going to be a lot harder than I thought. I'm going to write our breastfeeding journey down in the next month or so so I won't go into too much detail but we had a very difficult start. I had a low supply combined with the fact that she was jaundice and very, very sleepy, a quick birth, a posterior tongue tie, high palate and a bought of mastitis meant she lost quite a bit of weight and thus the first few weeks of Lily's life were incredibly stressful. We introduced formula top ups after every breast feed in the second week of her life and I started to do everything I possibly could to build my supply. At seven weeks we started to reduce the formula top ups and we are now down to just one feed per day needing to be topped up which we do with breastmilk. For weeks I wasn't able to express much more than an oz at a time but for the last week or so something has changed and I'm able to get around 4oz which is perfect. It also means Haydn can give her a feed. Thankfully, the intense stress and guilt I felt around feeding at the beginning of her life has definitely eased now and I'm not opposed to keep a tub of formula around should we ever need it. She's been brilliant with taking both breast and a bottle (and a dummy!) with no confusion whatsoever so that's not a worry anymore either.

At her last weigh in Lily was 11lbs exactly. She was 7lb 5oz at birth and up until last week she was following the 50th centile line nicely. However, she didn't put any weight on last week so she dropped a little. We've been having her weighed every week whilst reducing the formula when really she should only be weighed every three so the health visitor wasn't too concerned because it may balance out again. I'm trying not to worry too much but it's hard! She's a very lean baby due to how incredibly long she is but has some seriously delicious thigh rolls and Lego wrists!

Lilian has completely changed our lives and ten weeks later I still cannot quite believe she is here and ours to keep. She is such a joy and seeing her little face look over at me first thing in the morning and break into a big grin makes my heart feel like it might explode. She has helped us heal in ways I could never have imagined. I feel impossibly lucky to be her mama.

Mrs D x

Thursday, 29 September 2016

My Top 5 Best Baby Buys

Six weeks into life with a baby and there have a few items that have made our lives a lot, lot easier so I thought I'd share them with you! 

Tommee Tippee Perfect Prep Machine (approx. £69.99) - If you are formula feeding or combination feeding like we are, this machine is a must. It prepares bottles at the perfect temperature in under two minutes. No waiting for a kettle to boil plus another half an hour for it to cool whilst trying to soothe a hungry, crying baby. At £69.99 (on Amazon when I wrote this), it doesn't break the bank, especially when you're going to be using it 8 times a day in the newborn phase. It's so simple to use I can do it one handed whilst Lily hangs off my boob! There's definitely something to be said for the incredible ability you develop to multitask when you become a mum!

Ewan The Dream Sheep (£29.99) - Ahh Ewan, you beautiful purple sheep! This fluffy little fella emits actual heartbeat and womb recordings combined with three different sounds; a harp, rain and vacuum cleaner, at a low base frequency to soothe babies and toddlers to sleep. His tummy also glows pink to add to the womb-replica environment. The first three months of a baby's life are referred to as the fourth trimester, a period in which they need the closeness, security and warmth that they've lived in for the previous nine month to continue to ease their transition from womb to earth-side. Ewan does his little part in that! We put Ewan on as soon as we lay Lily down for the night, whether it's in her Sleepyhead in the Snuzpod next to me or in bed with me and it really helps to settle her to sleep. He doesn't just work on babies either, mummy and daddy have become quite fond of him especially the rain setting!

Sleepyhead Portable Baby Pod (£110) - The Sleepyhead is one of the few portable bed products that is licensed as being safe for babies to sleep in overnight. It's one of the main reasons we bought it so we could use it both inside the Snuzpod whilst Lily is small and take it to pop into the cot bed or our bed when we stay with grandparents. The raised bumper edge cuddles baby so they feel secure which is incredibly helpful if your little one prefers to be cuddled to sleep. It is quite pricey at £110 and although it claims to last from 0-8 months I doubt Lily will be in it much longer than 6 months because she's quite long and not far off touching the bottom with her feet already. However, we not only use it overnight but for her naps during the day so it's definitely paid for itself. I actually managed to buy one second hand from a mama on Instagram for around £90 including a spare cover which is worth £40. I'd definitely recommend getting a spare cover for milk drunk sickies and poonamis incidents!

Tommee Tippee Sangenic Nappy Disposal Bin (£32.99 for starter pack) - I was in two minds as to whether it was worth buying one of these when I pregnant, thinking I might as well just put the nappies in a nappy bag and straight into the bin but I'm so, so glad I decided to buy one! We keep this upstairs for overnight nappy changes when we really can't be bothered trying to faff around with getting one nappy bag out of the pack rather than the 30 that inevitably come out. It works by a twist off system that seals the nappy in its own section eliminating any smells and creating a hilarious sausage string of 28 nappies (based on using size 1 nappies). 

Snuzpod Bedside Crib (£199.95 inc. mattress) - I'm planning on doing a full review of the Snuzpod further down the line but for now let me say I am over the moon with it! I knew I wanted a co-sleeper crib when I was pregnant with Aneurin so I'd had my eye on this for a long time. This beautiful wooden crib can be used as a standalone crib, with the side zipped down attached to your bed or with the top lifted off as a bassinet. Not only does it look lovely, it's sturdy, easy to assemble and perfect if you want to bedshare but are a little apprehensive like I was. Although we have the Sleepyhead inside it for now it's so easy to just slide Lily over to me during the night if she needs a cuddle or for feeding. If you're planning on breastfeeding I'd really recommend it because if you can master feeding laying on your side it makes those exhausting night feeds so, so much easier. 

Mums-to-be, are any of these on your shopping list? Mums, is there anything you'd add to this list? 

Mrs D x

*Please note this post contains affiliate links.


Monday, 29 August 2016

Lilian Agnes

Lilian Agnes Davies, born at 9.48pm on 20th August 2016. 
Our beautiful girl; the perfect little sister, the brightest rainbow. 

More to come soon!


Tuesday, 9 August 2016

One Year

I wrote this a year to the day we went into hospital to be induced with Aneurin. I wasn't sure I wanted to publish it because I wanted Aneurin's anniversary week to be positive, which is why I wrote his birth story. However, grief isn't positive and that week was incredibly emotional, raw and difficult. This post reminds me of the early ones I wrote in the weeks after Aneurin died and I realised that's why I want to share it. It might be a year later, but this grief that lives with me never goes away. I will carry it forever and no matter how much time passes, it will always take my breath away. 

A year ago today we walked onto the labour ward clutching onto eachother for dear life feeling so overwhelmed with what was about to happen.

I don't really know how it's been an entire year. Time in grief is very strange. It goes incredibly quickly when all you're doing day to day is surviving with no real purpose inbetween. We're both very aware of how despite the enormous anxiety of being pregnant again, it has given us a reason to put one foot infront of the other. In some ways it's made this year go even quicker because we are constantly looking to the next day. Another day that we've survived without Aneurin, another day our Poglet has survived. 

How has it been a year? How have we survived? How has it been that long since our lives changed so drastically? It makes no sense to me. I know time is irrelevant really but when it comes to your child, it isn't. Parents measure everything in time. Weeks pregnant, length of labour, sleeping times, feeding times, milestones. Birthdays.  

We should be planning a first birthday with our beautiful little boy at the centre and it is so incredibly unfair that we aren't. We are planning a pleasant day with things to make us feel close to him but it isn't the same. I want to buy toys I know he'll like, clothes in his size, things with his favourite characters on. I want to spend hours perfecting his birthday cake, planning a party for our family and friends, wrapping presents excitedly. But I'm not. And I don't even know what size clothes he would be wearing. Would his growth have slowed like the doctors told me babies with Down's syndrome would? Or would he be on target with his birth weight and full of rolls and dimples. What milestones would he have reached by now? Would he only just be sitting up or would he be taking his first steps? Would he be able to gurgle mama and dada at us yet? I hate not knowing these things. A mum should know. 

Nothing will ever be as bad as those first few weeks in the after part of our lives but these last few weeks come close. My grief feels so fresh, so raw and so unbearable. I cry at the drop of a hat, sometimes not even realising I am. I want to hibernate because the effort of having to make conversation that isn't about my baby seems so insignificant. I have that lead weight in my chest again, the permanent sting of emotion in my throat and physical ache in my heart. 

I feel guilty for feeling the way I do when my second child, my daughter, wriggles and stretches inside me. Mr D says he loves watching me when she's moving because I look so content. She is the only thing that makes my heart feel lighter at the minute but I'm sad that I feel so bereft, so broken at the same time. We went to the seaside last weekend and watched a dad dangle his child's feet in the sea. I cried. Half with heartbreak because we will never do that with Aneurin and half with joy because I cannot wait to do that with Poglet. This is what it will be like now, half in one world and half in another. Another confusing, conflicting emotion to adjust to. 

This renewed grief has made me realise how strong my gratitude is. How blessed I feel to be feeling it because it's real and fierce. I can live with the grief when it's echoed with so much love. I would live it all again for the time we had with him. I would choose him again and again no matter how broken I feel. 

What I wouldn't give to wake up on Sunday, hear our son gurgling and chattering away in the next room and see his beautiful big smile greeting us on his first birthday. 

I miss you, Aneurin. You are missing from me. 

Sunday, 31 July 2016

Aneurin's Birth Story

For Aneurin's first birthday I knew I wanted to write something special but whatever I wrote would be sad because no matter how much joy and pride he brought and continues to bring to our lives, celebrating this day without him is so incredibly wrong and painful. Instead, I thought I would share his birth story. I toyed with the idea of publishing the events surrounding his death on another day because for me, his death and his birth are such completely separate events. His death is without a doubt the worst day of my life, a day that brings me nothing but trauma and pain. His birth is a series of beautiful, positive memories that make me smile and bring me an enormous amount of comfort. However, it makes sense for the two to be together but I hope that the difficulty of reading the first part is easier knowing that at the end of it, we got to meet our son. Our beautiful, soft-as-clouds, sweet baby boy.


Friday, 22 July 2016

Rainbow Pregnancy - 33 Week Update

This update is long overdue! I missed my 28, 30 and 32 week updates and now all of a sudden I am 33 weeks pregnant and a mere five weeks away from meeting our little girl. This is going to be a long one and probably not the most well written as my brain is feeling quite woolly so grab a cup of tea and be forgiving!

These last few weeks have been an enormous struggle. There has been so much on my mind, so much worry, fear and anxiety that has left me feeling like my head is spinning. It's felt as though things have just piled up and I've not really been able to deal with each thing separately, rather they've merged together into this big bundle of horridness.

We are now less than a week away from Aneurin's anniversary and birthday which is obviously proving to be very difficult. If I'm honest I'm struggling more than I thought I would with it and it feels like this enormous darkness on the horizon and it's coming so quickly I don't feel like we can get a proper grasp of it. We have things planned on both the day he died and his birthday which I'm glad of because it gives us space to grieve and to celebrate in a way that feels okay for us. I'm under no illusion though that even when we are celebrating and doing lovely things that we're not going to be feeling broken and bereft too. But, as with the 364 days that came before, we will just take it an hour at a time and do whatever we need to to get through it.

Alongside that is obviously increasing anxiety as we approach the same gestation we lost him with Poglet. Not helped in the slightest by the fact that we've had two fearful hospitals visits in the last few weeks. Once for reduced movements and once with high blood pressure. The reduced movements was completely and utterly awful. It was like reliving what happened with Aneurin all over again and I was so scared to even utter the words to Mr D that I hadn't felt her move for a couple of hours because I just couldn't face going through it all again. Due it to being the evening all other units were closed so we had to go to the labour ward for monitoring which was the first time we had been back there since the day we left Aneurin. That in itself was incredibly traumatic, walking the same corridor petrified and shell-shocked. Fortunately we heard the beautiful, strong thump-thump of Poglet's heartbeat within seconds and the relief was overwhelming. The staff were brilliant with us, so patient and understanding of our fear. They took such good care of us, not letting us leave until we felt reassured that she was moving and everything was okay. She took a couple of hours to start moving again but despite feeling calmer after she did and seeing that her heart rate was fine it was hard to shake the memory of events around Aneurin's death, where we had gone in with reduced movements to be told everything was fine, went home and two days later he died. They were very understanding of this though and told us we could come back whenever we felt we needed that bit of reassurance. We were there during shift change and the second midwife we had was the midwife-in-charge when Aneurin was born. Despite not seeing her very much during that day she remembered us and him which was such a comfort. I cannot praise the staff on that ward enough, they really are fantastic.

A few days after that I had my first diabetic clinic appointment where we met our new consultant. We were a bit apprehensive about it as the one I had previously has been with us for both pregnancies. However, I needn't have worried at all! She was wonderful. One of the first questions she asked us was "what did you name your son?" to which I told her and promptly burst into tears. I explained that it was the first time any healthcare professional has ever asked us that. Infact, the first time a doctor has even acknowledged him as our son over using cold, clinical words and phrases like "the stillbirth" or "your previous situation". When I explained how anxious I was feeling at the minute she was very understanding and simply asked what she could do to help. We agreed that weekly monitoring from now until Poglet arrives will help and so far, it really is. Even though I know all it means is that in that moment she is fine, it gives me that bit of reassurance.

Weekly monitoring is definitely helping!
The high blood pressure came a couple of days ago and has only made my anxiety worse unfortunately. I had a high reading at my second diabetic clinic appointment so the registrar sent us for daycare (where baby is monitored, your BP is taken once every half an hour at least five times and a full blood count is taken). Despite it being in the middle of the day the fetal health unit where it's normally done was full so once again our only option was the labour ward. When we heard the midwife say this to her colleague on the phone Mr D and I looked at eachother and our faces dropped. A place that normally holds fond memories of babies being born holds nothing but trauma, heartbreak and fear for us and it is so very difficult to be there. To make matters even worse we were put on a little ward with a newborn baby. I could literally feel my blood pressure rising when I saw the baby. The midwife could see something was wrong but didn't understand why I was so upset. Newborn baby cries are an enormous trigger for me. I didn't talk about that for a long time but once I did I realised it's not an uncommon thing when you never got to hear your own baby cry. I think it's a combination of the glaring absence of cries when Aneurin was born and the fact that for quite a while afterwards I used to wake up thinking I could hear a baby crying. Either way, I find the sound cuts through my soul and makes me want to peel my skin off. People don't understand that though and make jokes about how I'll have to get used to it when Poglet is here which is both hurtful and dismissive. I cannot wait to hear my daughter cry. It will be the most beautiful sound I've ever heard and I can hand-on-heart say it will be very, very different to hearing a baby cry who is not mine.

I spent the first 20 minutes in there sobbing on Mr D, both of us feeling so claustraphobic, so scared that something was about to go horribly wrong whilst dealing with a hundred other emotions. The doctor came round and explained what the plan was, that they were checking me for signs of pre-eclampsia because although the only sign I had was raised BP, given my history and the other risk factor of having gestational diabetes, they wanted to be extra cautious. She suggested I stay in for 24 hours to be monitored which again made me more anxious because I knew they would send Mr D home and the idea of being on my own was terrifying. However, the very clever midwife put me on the CTG monitor before she took my first BP reading and once I heard that magical sound, it dropped right down! Thankfully all my bloods came back completely normal. all my consequent BP readings were well within normal range, I had no protein in my urine and Poglet had a lovely time trying to escape the CTG monitor before accepting it wasn't going anywhere and gave us a perfect reading! As there were no signs of pre-eclampsia at all the midwife was happy for us to discharge ourselves despite the doctor's plan on the basis that she had suggested in with the fact that I had pre-eclampsia in mind. I was very apprehensive about doing so because I kept thinking if we got home and something went wrong I would never, ever forgive myself. We talked about it a lot though and decided that actually, everything came back fine, I had no symptoms and that that single high reading was probably down to a combination of the ridiculous heat and my general stress levels. We had a cardiac scan booked in for first thing the next morning (it was 9pm by this time) so I felt okay knowing that they could check my BP there and if it was even slightly up then I could go back to be monitored. I think if we hadn't had that in place for the next day I wouldn't have comfortable going home. As it was all we did was drive home, go to bed where I slept surprisingly well, get up and go straight to the scan where Poglet was again, cleared of any cardiac issues and my blood pressure was fine!

I'm incredibly grateful that despite these scares everything is absolutely fine. Sometimes I wonder if my body is reacting to the anxiety and refreshed grief or whether I'm making problems where there aren't any but it's not something I'm doing consciously and actually, I think for the most part I'm not doing too badly. Pregnancy after loss is really, really trying and I'm not sure people realise just how tough it is sometimes. It's only when I talk to other mums who are going through it or have had their babies that I realise how normal my feelings actually are. I always knew that approaching 34 weeks would be difficult but I don't think I quite anticipated how difficult it would be. If everything was going swimmingly it might be a little easier but with these little scares it makes the what ifs feel a little bit too real.

All I can do over the next five weeks is keep putting one foot infront of the other. I have incredible support around me and things like yoga and hypnobirthing are definitely helping control my anxiety to a degree. It's still very hard to imagine actually bringing Poglet home safe and sound but I'm happy to say we are still managing to enjoy our time with her despite everything. She is such a precious gift and I'm so grateful to have this time to watch my bump grow and feel her move. I feel very lucky to have two children whether they're in my arms or not, we have a beautiful little family and that is something to be celebrated.

29 : 31 : 33 week bumps

Phew, that was long! Well done if you managed to get through all of that, I promise I won't leave it so long for the next one so there won't be so much to talk about! I'm going to leave you on a good note with five positive things from the last few weeks.

A prize to whoever can see squishy cheeks and a little hand on her face!
1. Our 32 week growth scan! Poglet's growth is consistent and she's sitting just under the 90th percentile which is very similar to her big brother. I'm not worried about her being big at all, she'll be whatever size she needs to be. It was lovely to see her kick around again and we got an incredible look at her delightfully chubby cheeks! The sonographer was lovely and printed a photo off for us which is now my favourite thing to look at.

2. We finally felt brave enough to order our Snuzpod. I must have gone to do it about 5 times in the last couple of weeks but never managed to hit the checkout button until a couple of days ago. Everything arrived so quickly and it's now sitting in the nursery ready to put together when we get back from spending a few days at my mum's.

3. I've been writing Aneurin's birth story ready to publish on his 1st birthday next week. I always knew I wanted to do it but it's taken a long time for me to finish. It's emotional but feels like a really lovely thing to do especially for his birthday. I'm also toying with the idea of sharing a photo of him which I've never done before. I'm very apprehensive to do so but the more time that goes on the more I want to share him. If I do I'll make it very clear beforehand so that if people don't want to look (and I completely understand why) they don't have to.

4. Spending last weekend with my mum after having not seen eachother for weeks. We normally see eachother once a week but she's been having a really tough time lately and hasn't been able to drive. I was quite happy to drive the 90 miles to her but in true mama-bear fashion, she didn't want me to drive whilst heavily pregnant! It was so lovely to just sit on the sofa with her, talk and watch films. She had some precious Poglet time and felt her do her nightly rave which was wonderful to share with her.

5. My clever hairy husband got accepted into university to study Learning Disability Nursing! He's been working with children and young adults with autism in an educational setting for the last ten years but he's been needing a slight change of direction for a while. Everything that happened last year has made him see life a bit differently and it's pushed him to make a change which I'm incredibly proud of him for because it's a big step to take. It's not going to be easy with a newborn baby and our sole income being swapped for student loans and bursaries but we'll make it work and I know he is going to be fantastic at this.

Mrs D x

ps. After much umming and ahhing I've finally merged my plus size fashion blog with this one hence there suddenly being a lot more posts that go back to 2012!

Monday, 27 June 2016

This Body Of Mine

body positive baby bump

My stretch marks have never bothered me too much, I think when you grow up with self harm scars on your body the ones you know everyone has become the ones you like the most. They just are what they are but these little marks here, I love. I am so in love with these few red wriggly lines that have appeared in the last few days. These are Poglet's. 

My squishy tummy accommodated Aneurin quite nicely, only really stretching further in his last two weeks with me. I didn't notice those marks until my tummy had deflated after he left my body and by then I was so bereft, so angry and betrayed by my body that I couldn't see them as anything other than a heartbreaking reminder of what had been taken away from me. For weeks I couldn't look at my tummy, softer than ever with these tiny silvery, white ripples where my skin had grown to fit my beautiful baby. I couldn't stand it and I was convinced that Mr D couldn't either which somehow made it worse. Despite knowing how poorly Aneurin was, I thought he might blame my body for not being able to keep our son alive but I could not have been more wrong. When I couldn't bear to look at my body, changed and empty, he just loved it that little bit more. When I hid my new and unfamiliar tummy from him he found it and kissed it. He was wonderful.

As someone who had spent a long time learning to love their body, a body that society constantly and aggressively tells me is ugly and wrong, to suddenly feel like it is the enemy again is really difficult. I lost myself completely. Every single part of me that I felt so fiercely about disappeared. I suppose that's why my plus size fashion blog stopped being so important to me. Even when I felt like I was ready to find my new normal, it didn't feel like it was a part of me anymore. Clothes were just a necessity for a long time and even though I'm finding the joy in my appearance again, it feels like that part of me has gone. 

When I fell pregnant with Poglet my body changed almost overnight. The waist I had once loved so much that had reappeared cruelly within days of giving birth expanded rapidly. The upper part of my tummy hardened which had never happened with Aneurin because I carried him so low. My body knew what to do because it had done it so recently and I popped back into being pregnant so quickly. And yet, that incredible love I had for my pregnant body the first time didn't reappear for a long time. 

I felt guilty about it, I wanted to love my body in the same way but I was scared. It was different to me now, both physically and emotionally. I have a little pouch round the bottom of my tummy where my skin never had time to snap back, nor was I in any position to even care enough to want it to. As much as I cringed looking at that squishy roll for weeks, it has actually served me very well because it is the only area when I can 'pinch an inch' for my Clexane injections which help keep my little love safe. It is slowly filling out again but it is a part of me that wasn't there before. Emotionally, it's really hard to trust your body to do the thing that broke your heart and shattered your world. 

But, as with everything, it just took a little time and a little patience. As my belly has swelled, so has my heart. From quite early on in this pregnancy I started wearing fitted tops and leggings, something I never did even at the height of accepting my body, purely so I could show the world my bump. I don't care if it's not perfectly rounded or that I'm as wide as a bus this time, my body is doing something I never expected it to for the second time and that is magic. I am proud of my body for what it has done and is doing. 

Poglet nestled so neatly into her big brother's home, taking advantage of the cosy space he had left, swooshing around and spreading out. Now she's making her own mark. These new red stretch marks which I love so dearly. I waddled naked from the bathroom into the bedroom last week and showed them proudly and excitedly to Mr D who grinned at me and gave them a kiss. These marks that will not erase no matter how many children I hold in my arms, that prove my body grew more than you can see. And one day I will be able to look at my body (and no doubt wince at it on the bad days because it is so different the one I once knew) and know exactly which mark belongs to which of my children and which ones they shared. 

My body isn't perfect, in fact, it's far from it but it grew a magic little boy and it is continuing to grow a very special little girl and it deserves to be loved. 

Mrs D x

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Rainbow Pregnancy - 26 Week Update

Every day I feel a tiny bit stronger. I have to work really bloody hard at it and there are so many moments of doubt and fear but every day I allow the belief that this baby is here to keep creep in. Most of the time I feel like I have to protect myself from it; let it wash over me for a second before shaking myself back to reality. The reality that our first baby died, that babies die for no reason all the time, that people have more than one baby die and there's no reason to say that won't happen to us. It sounds awful (and utterly exhausting too) but that is mine and so many other people's reality. Slowly though, I am forcing myself sit with the feeling of 'my baby will live' for a little bit longer and it is wonderful.

Despite the flashes of a happy ending I am acutely aware all the time that pregnancy might be the only time we get with our Poglet. It's all we had with Aneurin and those 34 weeks are the most precious, sacred moments I have. I want every second with Poglet to be just as precious. I try to stop whatever I'm doing when she's having a wriggle around and just be with her in that moment, rub my tummy, talk to her, notice what the movements feel like and try to work out what she's doing. I am positive that taking that time to bond with my bump and the baby inside is what's given me the strength to get through this pregnancy. That and the precious memories of her big brother. Knowing we only have those for him makes these moments with her all the more special.

Bonding has definitely been the focus of the last couple of weeks. Whilst things have been difficult with memories of Aneurin's diagnosis, it's natural that we've struggled with finding our hope and ability to look forward with Poglet. It's a reminder of our reality and with that in mind both of us have been trying to make more of a conscious effort to bond with her and spend a bit more time focused on her. We've been sitting down at least once a day and just taking the time to connect with eachother about how we're feeling at the minute and with that we have a little bump time. We seem to do it when she's moving around a lot so Mr D can feel her and we can share that little bit of excitement together. I also bought a few books for Mr D to read to her at night which has been quite emotional but very special. He's been struggling quite a bit lately and has been signed off work for a couple of weeks so this time as a little family feels so healing right now.

The biggest thing we've done in the last couple of weeks is sort through all the baby clothes we have. It was a spur of the moment thing (I find it far, far easier doing things as and when we feel we're able to rather than plan to do them) and although it was very difficult, I'm glad we did it. I want to write a separate post on passing items down from a baby who never used them because I could ramble on about it for a long time. It felt lovely being able to do something for our little girl with our big boy in mind.

Physically I feel as though I'm doing quite well. My sciatica and pelvic pain isn't as bad as it was a few weeks ago which I'm putting down to my yoga classes once a week and using my birthing ball at home. I'm still very mindful of not forcing myself to walk very far at once and if I am out and about I make sure I sit down regularly to take the pressure off my pelvis. I am getting quite light headed at times, especially if I've been standing up for very long which isn't great but I know there are a lot of blood pressure changes around 26 weeks so I'm not overly concerned. It's a good excuse to sit down a lot and who doesn't love a sit down?!

plus size and pregnant bump
26 week bump!
This week did come with a pretty unpleasant discovery in that I have Gestational Diabetes. It was always a very real possibility with my having PCOS and being slightly insulin resistant already but magically, it didn't rear it's head last year and my first test at 16 weeks was clear. However, my 26 week test was positive. Although it was always in the back of my mind, it did knock me off my feet a bit purely because it's a potential complication. I had been doing a lot of thinking about whether I actually wanted to be induced at 38 weeks prior to this and was toying with the idea of requesting that I be allowed to go to 40 weeks but now that's not really an option. Naturally my brain only wants to focus on the potential complications and what ifs but realistically I know it's such a common thing during pregnancy and if it's controlled then I have no need to worry. Realism and rationale aren't luxuries I have anymore though so I'd be lying if I said I haven't been quite tearful and flappy about it over the last couple of days. Annoyingly I have to wait a week before I see anyone about it but I've been doing masses of research and have found some fantastic resources run by mums who have pointed me in the right direction in terms of diet. I'll definitely be sharing more of this because it's going to be a big change over the next 11 weeks.

Finishing on a high note, here are my five good things about the last couple of weeks:

1. Seeing my lovely husband read to my bump and feeling Poglet jumping around in response to his voice. Pure joy.
2. My mum picking up a little sleepsuit in Next that says 'best little sister' on the front. I burst into tears in the middle of the shop! Thankfully though my mum is quite used to this and doesn't bat an eyelid and just gives me a cuddle. She's a good one is my mum.
3. Mr D and I had a 4.30am fishing trip to the beach whilst we were staying at my parents'. It was a bit chilly but I wrapped myself up in a blanket like a sausage roll and really enjoyed some quiet time by the sea.
4. One of the wonderful midwives who looked after me whilst I was pregnant with Aneurin and came to meet him when he was born did a skydive this week and wrote Aneurin and another special baby, Cassie, on her to remind her to be fearless. She's been in Australia for the last few months and has taken Aneurin on so many of her adventures which makes my heart sing in the most incredible way.
5. Seeing the fruits of my volunteering pop up in mine and hundreds of other peoples' inboxes! If you're not signed up the MAMA Academy newsletter, you definitely should be ;)

Mrs D x


Thursday, 26 May 2016

Revisiting Aneurin's Diagnosis

A year ago today our lives were thrown upside down. We started the day as expectant parents, excited to see our baby wriggle around on a screen and ended it heartbroken, confused and scared of the days ahead.

If you didn't follow me or this blog last year, it might be worth reading our diagnosis story. It's written in two parts so is quite long (the second part comes up first but you just need to scroll down for part one). I wrote it ten days after it started so my emotions were still very raw but I'm glad I did. To this day those posts are still my post read of all time.

When I think about our time with Aneurin I think of the good bits. When I think of him, I can't help but smile. In the 34 weeks we had him he gave us so much, more than I can ever measure and I'm so grateful for his existence. I'm also incredibly grateful that the majority of my Aneurin thoughts are positive. However, the negative exists and it is terrifying. Whilst my brain doesn't revisit them all the time, they feel just as big as the positives purely for the power they hold.

I don't want to think about the trauma we went through with him. I don't want to be sad when I think of him, he deserves more than that. It's impossible though to only ever think of the joy because the trauma exists. It is big and scary and very real. And for us, it's plentiful. 

When we knew Aneurin had Down's syndrome I thought that meant he was a different baby to the one we had planned for but now I realise he wasn't. He was exactly the same. He was exactly who he was all along. Knowing that about him really didn't make any difference. He was still the same baby; the one who made me want nothing but Marmite for weeks on end, who would kick his daddy every time he cuddled my bump in bed, who would punch the CTG monitor out of place when he'd had enough. He was our baby, our sweet Pea. He wasn't Down's syndrome and he wasn't a congenital heart defect or an oesophageal astresia, he was our son. 

This week is difficult because of the events, not because of him. As sad as I feel for him because he was poorly, I know he never suffered. The memories of this week make me feel sad for us. I am sad that we had to go through that. I'm sad that we went from believing we had a perfectly healthy baby to being told that he wouldn't survive birth, having to sit with that belief for days, then being told that they had got it wrong, he would live, coming to terms with what that life would mean only to lose him anyway. That is an awful lot for someone to process, especially in a matter of weeks. Although we processed his diagnosis and what that meant, I don't feel as though we had time to process the actual events and the impact they had before we found out he had died. 

Small tummy, too much fluid, misshapen head, misshaped foot, may be Edward's syndrome, not compatible with life, quick decisions about an amniocentesis, days of waiting, Down's syndrome, more waiting, hours of tests and scans, a heart condition, an oesophageal atresia, endless doctors, discussions of termination and time limits, making a decision, details of operations, the reality of months in hospital. All in the space of 10 days. 

I don't feel as though we had time to breathe, it all happened so quickly and thinking about it now makes my head spin. How on earth did we cope? Why did we have to go through that?

So many images keep flashing up in my mind. My husband's face at the words 'incompatible with life'. Him sitting on the floor of the family room with his head in his hands. The warmth of his hand under my cheek as they did the amnio. Hearing Aneurin's heartbeat afterwards and feeling so broken by the sound. Standing at the window watching the world and wondering how on earth it was still moving. Having to get the words out on the phone to my mum and the sound she made.

There is so much I want to say, so much in my head that just doesn't make any sense at the minute and honestly, I don't even know where to begin with it all. But the two things I am hanging on to is that so, so much good came after this and that this memory does not belong to Aneurin. It is not him. This is ours and only ours. I will never allow these memories to taint our beautiful memories of him. He was always our baby. He never stopped kicking me or loving me, not even when our faith in him was rocked. He was perfect.

Mrs D x

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Rainbow Pregnancy - 24 Week Update

24 weeks means we have a viable baby! She's been viable to use since day one but in the eyes of the law and medicine, she is viable and that is a good feeling. If anything untoward happens, if the complications with the Antiphospholipid syndrome become a reality and she needs to be delivered early, everything will be done to help her. I know it might seem like an odd thing to even think about but the milestones are always going to be a little skewed in a rainbow pregnancy!

As I wrote my 22 week update so late I've really only got a week to talk about. However, it's felt like a big week. I think both Mr D and myself seriously underestimated how important the cardiac scan was for us. A huge weight has been lifted knowing Poglet is absolutely fine at the minute. It feels odd knowing that this is the point where we became aware of how poorly Aneurin was. It puts another polar opposite between my two babies which in some ways is helpful because it reinforces the idea of different pregnancy, different baby, different outcome. I don't think either of us realised how convinced we were that something would be wrong and the relief from knowing that there isn't is overwhelming. We both came away from the appointment and said it was the first time we truly felt that glimmer of 'we might bring our baby home'. Even now, a week later, I find myself getting little flashes of hope and it's a lovely feeling.

Over the last week or so I've been allowing myself to think about birth a bit more. Thinking about that feels safe in some ways because I know that whatever happens, I will give birth. Although Aneurin's birth was a really positive experience (which I realise sounds crazy because we knew he had already died) and I feel very confident in the fact that I have done it before and I can do it again, I know this is likely to be an entirely different experience. And one full of anxiety now we know all the eventualities. With that in mind we're looking into doing a hypnobirthing course. I dipped my toe into it briefly before and the techniques I used were incredibly helpful but I want to go the whole hog this time. We have an introduction session on Saturday to meet the woman who runs it (who rather nicely is a leader with my local La Leche League who gave me some wonderful support when I contacted them about breastfeeding a baby with Down's syndrome.) I think the positive results of the cardiac scan has definitely given me more room to think ahead and it feels good doing something proactive like preparing for birth.

We had our first growth scan this week and although the actual experience wasn't great and unnecessarily stressful thanks to the sonographer, it was another positive outcome. Poglet is approximately 1lb 12oz and her growth is progressing well! I'm going to write a post about attitudes of healthcare professionals in a pregnancy after loss because there are such enormous gaps that would make all the difference to parents. It's hard to focus on the outcome when it's shrouded with upset but we are definitely clinging on to the fact that she is doing really well.

plus size and pregnant 24 weeks
24 week bump!
And to end, here are five good things about the last couple of weeks.

1. I started pregnancy yoga! I had booked classes when I was pregnant with Aneurin but due to the timing of his diagnosis and how poorly we both were I never had a chance to do them. Claire is a wonderful soul and made me feel so at ease. We talked a lot about my experience with Aneurin, his birth, how he's changed my life and what it's like being pregnant with his little sister. The yoga itself ties in nicely with the ethos around hypnobirthing and the relaxation techniques are very similar. It's more holistic than a regular yoga class and is more about working with the body to prepare for the weeks ahead and labour rather than giving it a work out. I really enjoyed the holistic aspect of it and how it's designed to empower you. As part of the class Claire asked me to choose a card from a deck containing inspirational and strong female figures such as saints and goddesses. The card I chose made me cry. Of all the ones there, I blindly chose a saint who lost her only son and then made it her life's work to find peace. Normally I don't put much stock into things like that and even if it was just a coincidence, it made me feel pretty wonderful! I can't wait to go back this week.
2. Poglet has started to settle into a proper little pattern now and I know when she's going to be active and at what time of the day she makes certain movements. She likes to stretch her legs out then bring her knees up to her chest a lot, which we've seen her do in scans a few times, and almost always does it three times in a row. She had been laying across the bottom of my tummy for ages but she shifted upside down this week so her legs are tickling my ribs!
3. My birthing ball arrived! We abandoned our other one in the hospital after Aneurin was born which was probably a bit silly and could have saved us £28 but I don't think either of us could face having it at home. Thankfully though I found the exact same one for a bit cheaper and it's already pumped up and been bounced on!
4. I've been getting stuck in with my volunteering for MAMA Academy this week. I'm really enjoying learning a few new things and being able to support them. Which reminds me...if you're not signed up for their newsletter, you definitely should be! ;)
5. Technically it hasn't happened yet but I'm looking forward to it being half term next week and having Mr D at home. We're spending bank holiday at my mum's for a garden party with all our family. We've had a tough time as a family this year with losing my uncle and cousin to cancer so close together so having a bit of time together will be really lovely. Then we're spending the rest of the week clearing out the spare rooms and doing a few bits around the house. I almost feel like I'm nesting but very apprehensively!

Mrs D x

Monday, 23 May 2016

Peachy Dream - Plus Size Maternity Wear from Yours Clothing

Over the next couple of months I'm going to be reviewing an item of clothing every month from the plus size maternity range, Bump It Up, at Yours Clothing. If you missed last month's, you can read it here

This month's gem is the Navy & Peach Floral Print Dress. As soon as this popped up on the website I knew I wanted it. My pre-pregnancy wardrobe was predominantly dresses and although I usually opted for a retro style with fitted waist and bigger skirt over this looser, swing shape I knew this would look lovely on my plus size pregnant body. And I was right!

As with all my Bump It Up clothes (of which there are quite a few now), I went with my usual size 24 and it was spot on. The half sleeves are a nice touch as the weather is still in that funny phase of not really knowing wtf it's doing so the extra coverage is welcome. On the other hand when it does warm up and I'm ready to ditch the leggings the length is just right for being able to do that. I'm not sure why but I was expecting it to be a bit shorter but thankfully it's perfect on my 5ft8-ness so I won't feel like I'm at risk of showing everyone what I had for dinner. 

I've worn in three times since it arrived in the post and I know it's going to be something I reach for a lot over the next 14 weeks. It's incredibly comfortable and light enough that even when I'm in the middle of a glamorous pregnancy sweat after doing too much waddling, I don't want to claw it off which is a bonus! 

I even managed to accidentally match my nails to the print, aren't I clever?!
Outfit Details

Mrs D x

ps. I was also sent this gorgeous Red Button Up Trapeze Maternity Top but the style isn't quite right for me yet. It's a little too loose so I'm saving it for when my bump is bigger, which will coincide perfectly with the warmer weather when I'll want nice flowy things!

*Item gifted for review

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Rainbow Pregnancy - 22 Week Update

This update is long overdue so I apologise if it's lengthy! I missed the 20 week update and I'm cutting it fine with this one as I'm technically only 22 weeks pregnant for another day but I wanted to squeeze it in. The reason I've been a bit slack with blogging the last few weeks is because things have been a bit tough for various reasons. As much as I want to make the most of this pregnancy and document every little thing, it's not always possible and I'd much rather let things slide than put unnecessary pressure on myself. I think during a pregnancy after loss it's natural to feel torn between just wanting to tick the days off until your baby is safely in your arms and feeling like you should be fighting the anxiety and enjoying it more. Most of the time I have a good balance but when my brain is feeling a bit woolly, it gets a bit much.

The biggest reason for hibernating is that our 20 week scan didn't quite go as planned. Due to Poglet being in a funny position and my wobbly tummy the sonographer couldn't quite see everything she needed to. At the time it was incredibly scary and I spent most of the scan in tears as I knew by her silence that something wasn't quite right. She made no effort to reassure us despite my obvious distress which I found very frustrating and only explained what was happening when I asked if something was wrong. She said that she couldn't get a good look at baby's heart, kidneys, diaphragm and the base of the spine and they would need to bring me back in two weeks to rescan. We had a cardiac scan booked with the fetal medicine team for two weeks but she said we definitely needed a separate appointment because they wouldn't look at anything else. The appointment the receptionist gave me clashed with the cardiac scan but when I told them they insisted I didn't need to be rescanned as the fetal medicine team could do it. We were so worried, both that there was something wrong with Poglet and that we would go the cardiac scan only to find they wouldn't check those extra bits. It was a pretty unpleasant couple of days trying to calm ourselves and rationalise the situation. Thankfully though my wonderful midwife came to the rescue! She said that if the sonographer had struggled to see just one thing then maybe that would be cause for concern but as it was a few things it really was just down to poor views. She helped my squishy-tummy-guilt too by saying that it was clear from the report that it wasn't just me, Poglet was in a less than favourable position. She also rang the fetal medicine team to ensure they allocated enough time to check for everything and that they knew the situation. I am so very grateful to have her on our side, she makes this journey a lot easier!

We'll be having our cardiac scan the morning this post is published so fingers crossed all will be okay. I should mention the reason we're having that is due to Aneurin having a congenital heart defect. It's protocol to have a next baby checked for any heart anomalies, although I only found that out after I had asked for one because my consultant had forgotten! I'm really glad we're having it as Aneurin's was missed at the 20 week scan and wasn't picked up until after we had had the diagnosis of Down's syndrome and I had pushed for in depth scans to assess his physical health. As it was most likely the thing that caused his death I think knowing our Poglet is clear of it will be an enormous weight off our minds. 

plus size baby bump 21 weeks
21 week bump!
Physically, I'm feeling really good other than some unpleasant back pain. My lower back aches a lot at the minute, especially if I'm doing anything other than sitting in a comfortable chair which isn't particularly great. I'm also having a lot of sciatic nerve pain in my right side and my pelvis has been feeling quite loose in the last few days. I've had quite a few instances of feeling popping and grinding sensations in my hips and pelvis, especially when I get out of bed first thing in the morning or stand up after having been sat down for a while. Having had such severe SPD and sciatica in my previous pregnancy and falling pregnant again so quickly I fully expected this. There are ways in which I'm managing it though and there'll be a post in the next couple of weeks all about them. 

One of my best girls, Victoria, got in touch last week and asked me if she could organise a baby shower for Poglet. She threw my one for Aneurin and it is one of my most favourite and treasured memories of our time with him. I had planned to blog about it but Aneurin died two weeks after so I never had the chance. At first my instinct was that I couldn't have another shower, it felt too risky and would be too difficult emotionally but I quickly realised that actually, I need one. I need to celebrate Poglet with my friends and family, she deserves that and I deserve that. I love thinking about my Aneurin shower and the photos of that day sit so proudly in his photo album. It felt wonderful being able to celebrate him after what we had been through in the previous weeks with his mis-diagnosis, then correct diagnosis and coming to terms with everything. Victoria had made such an effort to include the fact that we had been through that and that he would have extra challenges and it made it all the more special. She did such an incredible job and I know she'll do it again. I realised that this is the first really positive thing I have to look forward to with this pregnancy. I have so many appointments in my diary and milestones to reach but they're all filled with fear and apprehension whereas this is something purely joyful and celebratory. The more I think about it the more excited I feel and excitement isn't something I feel often at the minute so I am embracing it fully!

plus size baby bump 22 weeks
22 week bump!
I'm going to start ending these posts with five of the best things about the last couple of weeks so here goes! 

1. My bump has really popped out this week and I'm feeling a little bit more confident about my pregnant body. There are no more 'is she/isn't she?' second glances and people I don't know have been mentioning my bump more which is lovely! 
2. We found out at the 20 week scan that my placenta is posterior this time (it was anterior with Aneurin so cushioned a lot of movement) and boy, can I tell! I cannot believe how much I can feel her, it definitely helps with the anxiety and makes me feel so full of joy. 
3. We watched one of my closest friends get married this weekend. It was a truly beautiful day and I was honoured to do a reading for them during the ceremony. I even managed to get through it without crying even if the bride didn't! I had so many compliments on the Lady Voluptuous dress I was wearing and for the first time in ages I felt really lovely. I'll be reviewing the dress later on in the month. 
4. My giant maternity pillow arrived! I had put off buying one for ages because I didn't think I could justify the cost but I'm so glad I did because it is simply magic. Having to turn over at night with one pillow between my knees, one under my bump and all under a heavy duvet was driving me mad but this makes life a lot easier. It's so comfortable!
5. And the absolute best thing, Mr D felt Poglet move for the first time! We were laying in bed at night and she started doing these enormous kicks so I put his hand on my tummy expecting her to stop but she didn't. It was so strong and so powerful! We both had a little cry and a cuddle. Those moments are so precious and it really couldn't have come at a better time for both of us.

Edited to add - Our scan went wonderfully! The consultant remembered us and was so patient and gentle with us. Not only did he clear Poglet of any heart defects he looked at all her organs and everything in detail and she looks absolutely fine. The words 'healthy', 'good' and 'normal' were used a lot! We both feel as though a huge weight has been lifted and for the first time we are starting to believe we might actually get to keep her which is an incredible feeling. A huge milestone reached and smashed!

Mrs D x

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Same Milestones, Different Babies

When we were trying for baby no. 2 we purposefully kept our pants on the month we knew a due date would fall around Aneurin's birthday. We knew that would be too difficult and we wanted his day to be his. We talked about his due date but felt that didn't bother us because knowing he was going to be induced at 37 weeks, it never really felt like his day. As chance would have it, this baby has ended up being due on his original due date; 9th September and although we have no emotional attachment to that date (especially as we know this little one will be delivered early too), it is a thousand times harder then we anticipated. 
Two babies due the same day a year apart. They run parallel to eachother and in some ways that is wonderful because they share a special little bond but in others, it is so difficult. First anniversaries meet milestones, Aneurin's handful of special days are no longer just his and the hardest days are met with added hormones and fear. 

Today is one year since Aneurin's 20 week scan. The last scan where we were told 'everything looks perfect'. There were no causes for concern, no furrowed brows, no measured voices or carefully chosen words. Just a first-time mummy and daddy walking on air with excitement and anticipation of their healthy baby boy. 

Milestones and memories like today are two-fold. We have the memory of these moments with Aneurin, whether they're full of magic and happiness or heartbreak and grief, and then we have the fear and anxiety of reaching them with Poglet. Her 20 week scan is this Thursday and I am petrified. Petrified that something will be wrong or worse, everything will be fine but then something will be wrong later and we have to relive that rollercoaster again. Our next stop is the 24 week doppler which is where it started to go wrong with too much fluid and a small stomach and after that the milestones and anniversaries are going to come so thick and fast thinking about them makes my head spin. 

One of the biggest things women going through a pregnancy after loss have to keep in mind is that this is a different baby. Different pregnancy, different baby, different outcome. I have to remind myself of that every day but it is incredibly difficult to do so when timelines are the same. I've never once thought this baby is Aneurin or woken up and mistaken her movements for his. These pregnancies are vastly different and from day one I've known this baby is exactly who she is. However, the different outcome is where I struggle. We know the likelihood of Poglet having Down's syndrome is very small and all tests have come back very low risk. That's one thing ticked off, but to be honest, the Down's syndrome was never the part I was afraid of. The ASD and OA/TOF that ultimately caused Aneurin's death are not exclusive to Down's syndrome. Any baby can develop those. That knowledge on top of the introduction of probable Antiphospholipid syndrome (APS) means my worries aren't as irrational as I'd like them to be. 

Having said that though, my worries can be eased. I've asked for an in-depth cardiac scan with the fetal medicine team who cared for me during my pregnancy with Aneurin and if they tell me all is well I trust them. The complications with the APS are being treated with daily injections, aspirin and regular growth scans. If something is wrong, they will know. My care plan is a solid one and I trust all my many healthcare professionals to take good care of me. 

Never for a second do I wish we had waited longer or that our second child had come at a different time. She is here for a reason as much as her brother was. 

I want to believe that this first year of grief is the hardest. That the first time we reach anniversaries are the most painful but I know that's not true. I'm learning to live with the pain but it still knocks me off my feet regularly. As much as I want to focus on the incredible gift that was our son and all the things he taught us and gave us, I can't help but feel the trauma of his diagnoses and the pain of his loss too. 

There are so many contradictions and polar opposites in grief. I see so many quotes from bereaved parents who say they exist in two places and I completely understand that. Even now, I am torn between wanting to tick the days off quickly so I can meet my little girl and have her safely in my arms and desperately wanting to slow the clock down because the idea of it being an entire year since I last saw my son and being that far away from him is just awful. The paradox of grief is exhausting. 

Darkness and light, heartbreak and love, lucky and unlucky, fear and gratitude, Heaven and Earth. 

I know this will pass, it's the anxiety of a rainbow pregnancy combined with another crashing wave of grief. It will soften though and when it does I'm left with beautiful memories of my first baby, excitement for my second and an incredible amount of love for them both and that is more than worth it. 

Mrs D x

Due to my brain having been a bit woolly this week, my 20 week rainbow pregnancy update will be uploaded in a few days. 
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