Sunday, 27 March 2016

Rainbow Pregnancy - 16 Week Update

I'm publishing this a little later than usual because we had a scan on Saturday and I wanted to wait for that for a couple of reasons. Normally updates will be posted on a Friday!

I still can't quite get over how different this pregnancy is to Aneurin's. I feel so very different. My symptoms are still so quiet which is unnerving sometimes but I know I should be grateful! The tiredness is still going strong but it's mostly a physical tiredness in which my body aches. If I've been walking around for a while my hips and lower back are starting to ache a lot and my sciatica is being a serious pest. The sciatica started towards the end of my pregnancy with Aneurin was purely because his head had been pressing on my sciatic nerve. It lasted for quite a while afterwards, eased off but is back with a vengeance. I wonder if there's some sort of lasting damage or whether my body just didn't have enough time to heal before my uterus started taking over my body again! Either way, it hurts and I don't like it. I've also had a little bit of SPD pain when turning over in bed but thankfully I know all the things I should do to keep it controlled and it's been working so far. The pillow between my knees is now my best friend. I'm considering investing in a maternity pillow if anyone can suggest a good one?

Mentally I'm not doing too well at the minute. It's been a hard couple of weeks with the death of my Uncle and another close family member being very unwell. Grief is exhausting at the best of times but my hormones are running on overtime and it all just seems a little too much right now. For some reason my grief for my Uncle has brought my grief for Aneurin to the forefront and it feels very fresh again. As a result there have been an awful lot of tears this week and some of the most difficult days I've had in a long time.

My anxiety about Poglet is getting worse in some ways because my guard is down and I've been letting those niggly thoughts creep in more than I would normally do. I'm trying so hard to be positive and focus on each day as it comes. The mantra for anyone going through a pregnancy after a loss is 'today, I am pregnant' and I've been desperately trying to remind myself of that on a daily basis but when I'm struggling with other things it becomes very difficult.

My next appointment with my wonderful midwife is on Monday and as it's my 16 week appointment she'll be listening for the heartbeat. At first I was so excited about that but as it gets closer the memory of the last time she put the doppler to my belly and heard nothing but silence keeps popping up in my head. On Friday those memories wouldn't go away and my brain decided to replay those traumatic moments and the hours after on a loop. The trauma flashbacks haven't happened for a long time but thankfully Mr D was there to hold me, talk me through it and distract me and even more thankfully, he will be with me on Monday (thank you Easter holidays!). It'll be a bittersweet moment but fingers crossed we'll be able to hear a nice strong heartbeat and the next time will be that much easier. 

Plus size baby bump 16 weeks

On a slightly lighter note, my wardrobe is finally looking a little less rubbish! 6 or so weeks ago I sorted through all my clothes and packed away the bits that no longer fit me. Sadly for me that meant at least 80% of my wardrobe disappeared into the spare room and I was left rotating the same three of four items. Fortunately though the lovely, lovely people at Yours Clothing came to the rescue with their new plus size maternity range, Bump It Up! I'm going to start publishing outfit posts in the next week or so so keep an eye out. If you're plus size and pregnant and struggling to find decent plus size maternity wear, definitely have a look. The leggings are incredible, super comfortable and high enough over bump and for the first time in my life I have a maxi dress that actually goes past my ankles!

We saw our Poglet yesterday and my mother's intuition is flippin' brilliant because I was right, we are having a girl! She was having a sleep (note to self, don't eat lunch, have a bath and a nap before a scan!) so wasn't frog dancing like she was at 12 weeks but it was wonderful to see her. She kept stretching her arms and legs out straight and shuffling about to get comfy. I feel so much better for having seen her and knowing that everything is looking good. I hope this relief lasts until the next scan which seems so far away at the end of April!

Here she is snoozing on her tummy.

Mrs D x

ps. I'm hoping that life will calm down a little bit in the next couple of weeks and I'll be feeling a bit better so can get a few more posts published. If you have any suggestions of what you'd like to see, whether it's about pregnancy in general or specifically a rainbow pregnancy/pregnancy after loss, let me know in the comments!


Friday, 11 March 2016

Rainbow Pregnancy Update - 14 Weeks

It feels strange that this is my first pregnancy update when I'm already into the second trimester! I actually toyed with discussing this pregnancy publicly before the usual 12 week mark because honestly, I didn't see the point in keeping quiet. We learnt the hard way that getting past the first trimester really doesn't guarantee safety and that you can lose a baby at any stage. However, with having had a difficult first trimester both physically and emotionally I just wasn't really ready to share our news yet.

Even when I was ticking all the pregnancy boxes I was panicking something was wrong but when my symptoms got considerably easier around 8 weeks combined with bleeding on and off for a few days, I was convinced I was having a miscarriage. Once the bleeding stopped I still couldn't shake the idea that I had had a missed miscarriage. We had an early scan at 7+2 weeks and another at 8+2 when the bleeding started and both times we saw a beautiful, strong heartbeat which did give me a few days relief. I had to remind myself every day that I bled with Aneurin during the first trimester, that symptoms are different with each pregnancy and that it's normal for them to come and go. But even with all that sensible, rational thinking I was still a basket case!

As the weeks have gone on I definitely feel calmer. I had to make a very active effort to find a place for each of my babies in both my heart and my head but in time it happened. For the most part the guilt has gone but it does still creep in every now and then. The fear is the biggest negative emotion but from what I understand it's completely normal. The innocence I had surrounding pregnancy has gone now and I'm so aware of all the thousands of things that can go wrong. For someone with a catastrophising anxiety disorder though I think I'm doing pretty flippin' well!

In terms of symptoms this pregnancy is very different to my first. With Aneurin I was horribly sick right up until about 27 weeks and for the first 14 I just felt awful. This time the nausea kicked in around week six but only lasted two weeks and then disappeared completely. Now it only rears it's head if I'm overly hungry or have been in the car for too long. The biggest symptom I've got is fatigue. The sort of fatigue that creeps into my bones and the idea of walking up the stairs makes me want to cry. The fatigue hits me sometimes and it's so overwhelming if someone speaks to me I get really snappy because of the energy it takes just to focus on whatever I'm doing even if whatever I'm doing is standing still! I'm also getting a bit dizzy if I've overdone it so regular rests and not overexerting myself is definitely key. This isn't really helped by the fact that I'm struggling with pregnancy insomnia. At first I put the insomnia down to the emotional aspect of adjusting to the fact I was pregnant but it's still hanging around. If anyone has any tips on dealing with pregnancy insomnia please share them in the comments!

I've always known I would show quicker with a second baby but goodness me, two babies in one year means my body is not messing around! I went from early pregnancy bloat to genuine bump with no grace period at all. My body definitely hadn't gone back to normal after Aneurin yet so I do still just look porky but I know it's there! I've already ordered a few maternity bits (thank you Yours for introducing maternity wear!) which will be a nice upgrade from the two pairs of leggings I've been rotating since week 8.

12 week bump
12 week bump!
Seeing our Poglet on the 12 week scan was definitely a highlight. The difference between 8 weeks and 12 is incredible. I needed to see arms and legs and wriggling around both for peace of mind and for bonding and wriggling they were! S/he looked like a little frog sliding down on their bum then pushing their feet against me to launch themselves upwards over and over again! It was so lovely to see even if it meant the midwife struggled to do measurements because they wouldn't stay still!

Deciding to have the screening for Down's Syndrome this time was an easy choice. We declined to have it with Aneurin because naively, we thought we could never have a baby with DS. We had already decided that the nuchal scan and quad test was purely for information purposes and whatever happened we would go ahead with the pregnancy. The nuchal measurement came back at 1.4mm which is well within the normal range and the quad test confirmed that. I can't say I really felt any relief from that knowledge though, I think the relief will come at the anomaly scan when we know all their organs are functioning as they should and when we know that their growth is progressing well.

For now though I have a lovely image of our little Poglet playing his/her frog game and when I feel the fear set in I try to focus on that. We definitely have another very active baby on our hands and I cannot wait to feel them move!

Mrs D x

Look out for: What is Antiphospholipid syndrome and how does it affect pregnancy?

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Rainbow Pregnancy 4-11 Weeks

4 Weeks
Overwhelmed is my current state of mind. Actually, it's amazed/happy/terrified/confused/guilty/excited/worried but overwhelmed covers it better.

For the last few days I've had a funny taste in my mouth, I've needed to wee literally every half an hour, I've had three frankly terrifying spots sprout on my face and some spotting. In the back of my mind I knew but I desperately was trying to be sensible and not get my hopes up. We've been actively trying to conceive since I had my first period after giving birth to Aneurin but I had resigned myself to the fact it probably wouldn't happen for a very long time. I never ever imagined we would see the word 'pregnant' flash up on a test for months to come yet there it was clear as day this afternoon.

I am terrified. Terrified that this little bean won't make it to 12 weeks. Terrified that if they do they'll be poorly. Terrified that if they're not poorly something else will happen. Terrified we won't love them as much as we love Aneurin. Terrified that we won't be bringing this baby home either. You might be thinking 'you've had your share/it won't happen twice' but it does. It is a very real possibility and that is terrifying. Relinquishing control is really hard. The one thing our life with Aneurin has taught me is that anything can happen and we have absolutely no control over it. We have no idea what is round the corner.

I feel guilty. I absolutely know a second child will never replace Aneurin but I feel guilty, like we're moving on from him. I feel guilty for not being as happy as I was when I found out I was pregnant with A. I don't have the same excitement and I feel awful for that. I'm worried the baby will feel it which I realise is ridiculous because it is currently the size of a poppy seed but I'm still scared.

This baby feels like a gift. A wonderful Christmas present from our son. It feels all the more special because this baby's due date is only a day after Aneurin's original one. In a way that makes it all the more difficult to remember that this is a completely different pregnancy and there is absolutely no reason we won't be bringing our second child home. It does mean too that I'll be hitting two milestones at once; Aneurin's first birthday and the gestation we lost him. That will be hard but we will get through it and I want the focus to be Aneurin's birthday more than anything else.

I've not slept well since I found out which is my usual reaction to stress. I desperately want to be calm but it's just not happening.

7 Weeks
Yesterday was horrible. I had a silly row with my mum and went completely off the rails. All the worry, confusion and emotions I haven't been able to make sense of came out at once. I chucked a plate across the room. I screamed. And then I wept. My poor, poor mum. She always bears the brunt of my most extreme emotions, I think because I know that no matter what she will love me and no matter how cross she is at me her default reaction is to protect me. She just held me and we both sobbed.

I'm scared of moving forward.
I'm scared people will forget Aneurin.
I'm scared people will think this baby is a replacement for Aneurin and that because we have them our grieving is over.
I'm scared something will happen to this baby.
I'm scared to form an attachment in case it does because I honestly don't know how I will cope.
I feel guilty for having another baby.
I feel guilty for having a future that doesn't involve Aneurin growing infront of us.
I feel guilty for not being excited about this baby.
I feel stupid for even entertaining the idea that we might get to keep this baby.
I feel like if I talk about a future involving this baby I will make something bad happen.
I'm worried it's too soon.
I'm worried about how I will be able to love this baby as much as I love Aneurin.
I'm worried that eventually I will love this baby more than Aneurin because I will be able to get to know them more.

I thought my biggest secondary loss was myself but it's not, it's having to render control and accept that bad things will happen. I feel like I had finally found my feet and now I am stumbling around in the dark again.

11 Weeks
Somewhere over the last few weeks it got easier. When I think back to those first four or five weeks I really and truly don't know how I got through them. The guilt and fear was like nothing I've ever felt before. I refused to talk about being pregnant with anyone, even Mr D. His excitement made me feel sick, I couldn't deal with it at all. He nicknamed this little one Poglet very early on and to begin with I couldn't stand hearing it because I was scared of making them real. I soon found myself calling them it too though which in a way really helped me. Slowly I've reached the same place and I feel infinitely calmer. I knew there would be an adjustment period but I never imagined it would be so difficult.

All I had wanted since losing Aneurin was to be pregnant again. First it was just the desire to be pregnant because it had been taken away from me so quickly and in such a way that I felt like I was left with nothing. I missed having my baby with me, it felt so wrong being alone in that way. Eventually though that initial desperation moved into needing to mother something. I needed to be parent with a living child and for the most part it was only Aneurin I wanted but I knew I could never have him in that way. The need for a living child after you've lost a baby is overwhelming and all consuming. You can busy yourself and pretend it isn't but it's very difficult to think about anything else, especially if you're actively trying. You're constantly analysing what's happening with your bits every time you go to the loo, you're tracking every possible sign of ovulation there is; you're so hyper-aware of your body it can verge on obsessive. We were incredibly lucky in that it really only took five months (two really though because I didn't ovulate for the first three). However, we had expected it to take so much longer and although we knew actually getting pregnant was just the beginning of a very long journey, I don't think either of us were really prepared for it.

As with everything though we (mostly me...) just needed time to adjust. I needed to process it in my own time and in my own way. It sounds strange but in a way I needed to compartmentalise my two children which sounds as though it would be quite easy with one not on this earth and the other still having a tail but it was hard. And exhausting. But I'm getting there. That's not to say I am still not completely terrified and that I am absolutely fine even 90% of the time but for the most part I can make sense of all my emotions.

We are taking it a day at a time, focusing on each appointment and breaking it down into tiny milestones. If I'm honest I very rarely think about this baby in terms of holding them in my arms and everything that happens after birth. That is in part due to the unexpected bombshell dropped on us at 8 weeks when we were told I potentially have a condition called Antiphospholipid syndrome. There will be a separate post on this in the next few days but it has a very real impact and in a strange way has helped me focus on the here and now rather than hypothetical worries. Actually taking a baby home seems so far away at the minute so we are enjoying each day as it comes. Today I am pregnant and that is a gift.

I love my big boy who lives in my heart and can finally say how excited I am to be making him a big brother. I already feel so much love for this little one and I cannot wait to answer the question 'how many children do you have?' with an honest and proud, 'two'.

Mrs D x

Next up, my 14 Week Pregnancy Update!

Saturday, 5 March 2016

Mother's Day

I've always loved Mother's Day. I'm incredibly fortunate to have a wonderful relationship with my mum. We are very close and I love having a special day where I get to tell her just how much I love and appreciate her. I'm not sure how much effort I put into it as a child (although I'm sure she'll be able to show you a plethora of wonky cards and tissue paper bouquets from over the years) but as an adult I've tried to mark it in some way even if it's just writing something special in a card.

We don't always get on and frankly it's a small miracle if we can get through our weekly visit without bickering at something but even the biggest, scariest, loudest rows dissolve away and I know they don't matter. We've been through more than most as mother and daughter throughout my life and this past year has only strengthened our bond. This year I'm not sure the words exist to tell my mum just how much I appreciate her. Her unwavering love and incredible support over the last year is staggering. Not only did she lose her first grandchild but she had to watch her own child go through the pain and trauma of losing their baby. I can't imagine what that must have been like but she has been a rock and I'm not sure I could have gotten through any of the events of the last year without her. 

Having said that though this Mother's Day is going to be hard. 

My Mother's Day will start by waking up in a hotel after having celebrated the marriage of our two friends and filling myself up on hotel breakfast (is it just me who gets really excited about a hotel breakfast?!). I will ring my mum to tell her I love her and encourage Mr D to do the same but after that I don't know what I'll do with myself. I might be perfectly okay and able to enjoy my day as any other Sunday or I might be a weepy mess and want to hide in bed all day. However I feel will be completely fine and I will let it happen without judgment. 

There are so many reasons as to why someone might not welcome Mother's Day with open arms. Why they might look away at all the loving family adverts on the television, avoid the card displays in the supermarket or angrily delete the endless slew of emails offering mum's a free glass of fizz on that special Sunday. I've always been very aware of how lucky I am not only just to have a mum here on this earth but how lucky I am to have the relationship I do with her. Now though, Mother's Day has a whole new meaning for me and it is tinged with heartache. 

Whilst the knowledge that my sweet Aneurin will never beam his proudest smile at me whilst he hands me a homemade card filled with wobbly writing breaks my heart I know that those are not the things that affirm me as a mother. I know I am a mum. I grew a whole new person in my body. I loved him fiercely and nurtured him as best as I could. I gave life no matter how brief. There are so many ways in which a person can be a mother, those are mine and nobody can take them away from me. There will always be one less pair of grubby little boy hands to help make my breakfast but with this new little life in me I am hopeful that next year I will find my feet as a mother on Mother's Day. 

To all the mums reading this whether your children are with you or not and whether you share their DNA or not, you are wonderful. You deserve to be celebrated and I hope however you're spending this day it is with love in your heart. 

Mrs D x

Thursday, 3 March 2016

What Is A Rainbow Pregnancy/Baby?

A rainbow baby is a baby born following a loss, whether that loss was miscarriage, stillbirth, neonatal death or infant loss. The idea being that a rainbow often follows a storm. It's a lovely notion but I'm aware there are some who object to the use of the term so I wanted to have a little chat about it. The main reason I've found that people dislike it is because it insinuates that the lost baby is something negative; a storm.

I completely understand that and the first few times I heard the phrase I didn't like it. Aneurin was not a storm. He was not something negative nor is our time with him something that needed to pass. However, I understand now that that isn't what it means. The storm is the aftermath of his death. The dark, stormy period in which we had to learn to live without him. He is the bright, shining daylight that came before the storm and our second child is that little piece of light shining through the clouds again.

I love the idea that a child born after the loss of a baby brings light back into the parent's lives. It doesn't negate the storm, or that brightly shining baby who came before it but it does bring hope. Neither baby is more important or more loved. Both are equally as powerful and each a force of nature. 

When I found out I was pregnant with this baby I wondered whether I wanted to do pregnancy updates as I did with Aneurin. I didn't want someone to stumble upon my blog and get confused as to which pregnancy I was talking about. I needed my babies to be their own people in their own right. The only way I could see to do that was to refer to this pregnancy as my 'rainbow pregnancy'. I could have said used another popular phrase 'pregnancy after loss' but honestly, I don't want the word 'loss' to be a part of this pregnancy. I imagine I'll use it a lot but I don't want it to identify this pregnancy, nor do I want to be referring to Aneurin as a loss. I know I lost him but he is so much more than that. I need hope. I need positivity. I need that ray of light.

And so, each post regarding our second child, this little Poglet (husband's name for them...he's odd) I'm growing right now, will be tagged with 'rainbow pregnancy'. I hope that even if you don't like that term, you understand why I'm going to be using it. I also want to create a resource for other families in similar situations and as it is the most well known phrase it seems sensible to use it to make it as easy as possible for people to find support.

Pinched from the wonderful folks at Kicks Count

How do you feel about the term 'rainbow baby'? I'd love to hear your opinions but please remember this is a sensitive issue and others may feel differently to you so be respectful!

Mrs D x

Our Family Is Growing!

If you follow me on social media (links in the top right sidebar!) you will have seen our announcement earlier this week that our magical little family is growing. We are over the moon to be expecting our second child! We never imagined it would happen so quickly and it's taken a while to find our feet as both grieving and expectant parents but we are incredibly happy. The next six months are going to be full of excitement and fear in equal measures but knowing our special big boy will be with us every step of the way is a huge comfort. 

 I have a few blog posts planned over the next couple of weeks with updates as to what's been happening over the last 12 weeks. I'm going to discuss the emotional side of being pregnant after a loss as well as some more light hearted bits so keep reading!

Mrs D x
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