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
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