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Dear Mother - a love letter about your journey

Dear Mother – A Love Letter from Me to You

Dear Mother - a love letter about your journey

I’m currently sitting in bed, on day 4 of a hideous virus that has totally knocked me for six and left me unable to do much more than lay still and think. And think I have…

You see, any time I get so sick that the only thing I can do is lay in bed and wait it out, I am reminded of the torturous days of my pregnancy, when Hyperemesis ruled my life. Any HG survivor will attest to how the smallest sniff of nausea can bring on a memory of those days, but when you find yourself so completely wiped out that you can barely move, and your brain is so confused you cannot focus on anything, those memories can be huge.

For me, there is this added feeling of guilt and grief that comes with it. As much as I am terrified of ever having another pregnancy (enough so that we are not having any more children) there is always that feeling of sadness that actually, I wish we were expecting again, I wish I could have been stronger last time, I wish I could face it all again. And that makes me feel like I failed, all over again.

These past 4 days, I have gone through a lot of emotions. And the one thing that has cropped up time and time again is that I haven’t allowed myself to grieve properly for what was lost. I’ve been too focused on “seeing the positives” and “moving on”. But equally, I haven’t allowed myself to really see how my journey towards motherhood was just as valid and beautiful as anyone else’s, even if it didn’t look like the natural, glowing, mother-earth type pregnancy we’re shown in the media.

So I did what I always do when I need to work through emotions as big as these. I began to write. First I wrote page after page of how I truly felt about it all, no holds barred, no worries about what people will think. And then the next day I wrote a love letter to myself.

The shift in how I felt made me realise that I needed to hear this. And maybe you do too. Whatever your journey, whatever hurdles you’ve faced, whatever heartbreak has hit you, please know that this is written in love for each and every one of you, just as it was written in love for me.

Dear Mother - a Love Letter from Me to You

I’ve created a Printable Version of this love letter that you can print out if you feel like it. And please, do share this far and wide with as many mothers as you feel need to hear this.

I love you all.

This post has been added to the #MaternityMatters linky hosted by Ghostwriter Mummy.

Maternity Matters~ Ghostwritermummy

Being Interviewed live on Good Morning Britain

Talking About Hyperemesis Gravidarum In The Media

I’m currently sitting on a train, heading back home to my one and only beautiful HG Survivor and reflecting on how my experience during pregnancy has completely changed the direction my life has taken.

Had you told me a few years ago that I would be appearing on national breakfast tv to talk about a medical condition I would have thought you were crazy. But that’s what I did today…

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Photo courtesy of Emma Harris

As you may know, I have devoted the past 3 years of my life to raising awareness of the truly awful pregnancy complication Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG). This has involved working on a book about HG (which I started way back in 2012, finding a co-author in Spewing Mummy in 2013) and working for the charity Pregnancy Sickness Support. I have worked tirelessly to promote the charity’s work, support other sufferers and survivors, and get word out that that this is not morning sickness!

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Photo courtesy of Emma Harris

Which leads me to this morning, when I found myself sitting on the sofa of Good Morning Britain, talking with Dr. Hilary Jones and the presenters Charlotte and Ben about my own experience of HG. Why? Because with news of the Duchess of Cambridge suffering from HG for a second time, there has been a fair amount of media interest in the subject.

Understandably, the response to this has been varied. Some sufferers are over the moon that HG is being presented to the public in this way, having faced lots of criticism over their own pregnancy sickness in the past. Others are disappointed that it is still being described as “acute morning sickness” and that comments about trying to avoid medications in the first trimester or trying ginger are still being offered up as advice.

But here’s the thing for me… HG is making the news! And whilst we still have a long way to go, we are getting there. 

Whilst there were comments about ginger, it was made clear that this may not apply to HG (it doesn’t) and whilst there is hesitancy over prescribing medications in the first trimester, they are not being disregarded completely. We are not hearing that there is “nothing they can do” or that treatments are harmful, both of which are common messages sufferers often come across.

And whilst my short interview may not have provided the opportunity to discuss these issues in more detail (my co-author and colleague had this opportunity later on with Phil and Holly on This Morning!) it did provide media attention that is so very needed.

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Caitlin on the This Morning sofa, photo courtesy of Emma Harris

Let me tell you something… whilst I talk about HG on a daily basis, whilst I have written a book on the subject and talk to sufferers every single day, going on live tv is on a whole different level.

And talking about my own experience, well that was pretty crazy too! I tend to try and keep the focus on general experiences of HG sufferers rather than my own personal experience. This is partly because this more detached focus is needed in my work both for the charity and on the book. But it is also, in a larger part, because I have been burned too many times by people labelling me as “milking it” or a “drama queen” and I struggle with that. A lot.

I do what I do to try and help others – after all, I shall never be having another pregnancy myself, so all this work has no personal benefit to me! I do it because I do not want others to suffer the way I did, because I am the perfect example of someone whose HG went undiagnosed and untreated for far too long. Here are a few personal facts for you:

  • I was never officially diagnosed with HG
  • I was given treatment early on which made no difference and then told there was nothing else they could do, despite multiple trips to the GP, until my 5th month
  • I lost over 10% of my pre-pregnancy weight
  • I was surviving on approx. 300ml of liquid per day at my worst point
  • I was refused IV hydration or admission to hospital, despite being told I was “clearly dehydrated” by the nurse assessing me
  • I was told various things from healthcare professionals including “it’s just because you are worried about the pregnancy” and “sometimes you just have to ‘put up and shut up'”

As such, I have doubted my experience for a long, long time. I haven’t felt a true part of the HG Community of women who had multiple admissions, knew all about ketones, or were prescribed a variety of antiemetics. I felt like a fraud for a very long time… yet I clearly had HG and I clearly needed treatment. Based on the facts you cannot dispute that, and yet I still question myself. And that is the legacy that HG leaves, especially undiagnosed and poorly treated HG.

HG stole the joy of pregnancy from me. It stole my dream of having a larger family (we’re sticking at one child). And it stole an awful lot of confidence from me, confidence which I worked extremely hard to develop over many years.

Going on live tv was utterly terrifying in many ways, especially knowing just how many other women were relying on me to give an accurate portrayal of the sheer hell that is HG. I have no previous media experience of this kind (freelance writing or social media, yes, but tv and radio, not at all). And I am certainly not used to talking about it from a personal perspective. But my experience has been so profound that I know I would do anything and everything I can to create change for all those other women out there who are suffering now or have suffered in the past. And if that includes going on live tv, then so be it!

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If you are a journalist and would like to talk to me further regarding my own experience, my work for the charity Pregnancy Sickness Support or my book “Hyperemesis Gravidarum: The Definitive Guide” then please do get in touch using my contact form or call me on 07428 119956

For more information regarding the above topics, please see the following:

Hyperemesis Gravidarum: The Definitive Guide
One Child Family
My Pregnancy Journey

You may also be interested in the following posts I wrote during the Duchess of Cambridge’s first pregnancy, regarding the importance of accurate reporting.

Hyperemesis Gravidarum: The Importance of Awareness and Accurate Reporting

 

Realisations and the Beginnings of Acceptance

I haven't blogged for a couple of weeks now because I have been doing a lot of thinking and a lot of reading and then a lot more thinking, and a little bit of praying in the midst of all that thinking!

And I have come to realise a few things that have made accepting a decision we've had to make that little bit easier. It's like I've come through the bleakness of winter and the hope and promise of Spring is starting to blossom in my heart, just like the flowers and trees are starting the bloom right now…

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Do you remember when I wrote about our decision to never have any more children of our own and how heartbreaking that was for me? It was entitled "The Hardest Decision" and it really and truly was. And when we made that decision I don't think either of us was really ready for it. Little Man was still only a baby and as I spent most of his first year going through a grieving process I wasn't really in a place to accept it.

I had moments when it was clearer in my mind, moments like those I wrote about here. But mostly I was clinging on to some tiny hope that one day we'd be able to do it all again, if we planned everything meticulously.

Grief isn't a linear thing, and letting go of the dream I had always held of having more than one child was a hard thing. To put this into perspective, my aunt once commented that she thought I would end up with 6, yes six, kids. I thought that was a little excessive, but it does help point out how alien the idea of having just one child is for me.

It isn't that I am not eternally grateful for the opportunity to be blessed with Little Man and the chance to experience motherhood in this way. I adore him and if he is the only child we ever have, he will be showered in more love than he'll know what to do with.

And therein lies my thinking – I have so much love to give, surely it must be in the plan for us to have another?

But more and more lately I have been coming to terms with the realisation that having another child naturally is just not the right choice for us. It isn't just a case of 9 months of sickness and poor health (as if that isn't enough, because believe me that sucks big time!) But for me it is also the recovery and the fact that my hormones seem to hate me and even 17.5 months after giving birth I am still struggling…

I let the gynaecologists brush me aside last summer with the words, "nausea is not a typical symptom of Endometriosis, it's just a lifestyle thing!" I should know better by now than to listen to them. It may not be a typical symptom for most women, but it is one of mine. Fast forward a few more months and the classic Endo pains have started to resurface, and I still haven't got anything under control. 

And all of this makes me realise that to have another baby of our own, we're risking 2+years of poor health for me. I do struggle with Little Man, I truly do some days, because I feel like absolute crap. But that is because of my health and it doesn't have to be this way…

When I first met TJ, I had my Endo under control (as much as you can do with Endo). I was healthy and I was happy. I had energy and I did all sorts of things. But since then I've been subjected to several awful hormonal treatments and struggled through a pregnancy with various complications. It's no wonder my body is struggling to get back to a healthy state.

But I have hope and faith that it will do. And when that day comes I really and truly do not want to jeopardize it and go straight back to square one because I want another baby. It isn't worth it, for me or my family. I don't bounce back from these things easily and so I have to make a responsible decision rather than one based on emotion alone.

I've known this all along, but suddenly I feel a kind of peaceful acceptance falling over me. It's not that I don't have days when I wish things could be different, but it does mean that I am beginning to accept that the path I am being led to take is a different one to that which I expected.

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So this past couple of weeks I have been working on letting go of that final little bit of "false hope" in order to heal my heart and make room for what is to come. Whether that is as a parent to an only child, or a family extended through adoption, or even offering up our homes to those in need through fostering, I need to heal my heart in order to move forward with this.

It feels like the right time. It feels like I shall be able to give away Little Man's baby clothes to someone who wants or needs them. Ditto with my maternity clothes. It will hurt, I know it will, but I feel like the time has come when I will be able to do it. That hasn't happened before.

Of course, this in itself is not a decision to be rushed. We need time to heal, as a family and as individuals. Our emotional journey through conception, pregnancy, birth, the first year and beyond is going to take time to deal with. We're still reeling from some of the things that happened that we just could not face at the time. 

And equally, there will be times when we desperately wish that things had turned out differently. As it is, when I mentioned how I was feeling to TJ the other day I expected him to be relieved (as he has always been the one who seemed much more able to accept us not having another baby one day) and yet he seemed deeply saddened by it. So of course this is something we need to talk about together over time as well. But for now, I needed to make a record of how I was feeling in this moment. 

And right now, that's scared as hell of taking that final leap and truly letting go… but it has to happen sometime, and I feel that time is coming fast!

The Hardest Decision (HG)

If you haven't been following this blog for long enough to know about our Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) journey, then you can catch up here.

I've been wanting to write this post for a few days now but really wasn't sure how to start. So let's go straight in at the crux of the matter: TJ and I made a promise to ourselves last week that we will never put ourselves (and Little Man and our families) through another pregnancy.

We've been going backwards and forwards between "never again" and "but we might want another child". Okay, who am I kidding? I've always imagined having 2 or 3 children and the thought of stopping at one is a very hard one to get my head (and heart) around. But HG made our life such hell that even I began to believe the "never again" option…

And so when that jealousy and anguish started to kick in when Little Man was just a few months old, when I realised I'd never get to experience the newborn stage again, never get to give birth again and cherish those first few hours with my baby, I lost my resolve. I began to believe that if we planned everything meticulously it might be possible. It certainly seemed preferable to that awful feeling in the pit of my stomach every time I heard of another friend having a baby or saw a random pregnant lady walking about town with a smile on her face.

But the more we talked about it and the more I researched it the scarier the whole thing became. We realised that we would have to wait until Little Man was in full-time education (so almost 5 thanks to him being a September baby) and that we'd have to spend a good year prior to trying to conceive preparing ourselves and Little Man physically, mentally and emotionally. 

It would mean potentially getting my health to a certain level only to risk it dropping to one of its lowest points again. And it's not as if my health is great at the best of times! I've had difficulties with my periods since they began in my early teens, but in the past 5-10 years they have really taken a toll on me. And not surprising when I realised that the pain I felt with my Endometriosis was akin to the pain experienced in labour! I had been going to school, university and work for years in the same level of pain as early labour, only thinking to take the day off when it got to the level of transitional labour. And doing that month in and month out, especially when I'd sometimes only go 2 or 3 weeks between periods, has taken it's toll.

So my recovery from pregnancy has been a slow one, what with the reappearance of my periods at 3 months post-partum, complete with nausea. 

And then there are the other factors playing against us. Things like my increased risk of an ectopic pregnancy (thanks to damage from the Endo to one of my fallopian tubes) and the risk of possibly developing Obstetric Cholestasis again. And I was considered at risk of developing Pre-eclampsia throughout my last pregnancy so may well have that as a factor again. And all of this made me begin to think that there were just far too many reasons not to have another pregnancy than to do it all again.

We were lucky that I fell pregnant quickly last time and that Little Man came out healthy and strong. There is no guarantee we'd have the same luck a second time. And the emotional trauma that both TJ and I experienced is ongoing. The guilt I feel at having put us both through it once is bad enough. And that was with going into it having no idea how bad it would be. To do it a second time knowing just how bad it could be, well that would just be too much.

So logically the decision makes perfect sense. 

And yet it is one of the hardest, if not the hardest things I have ever had to do. 

My head and my heart have been at war. And it was tearing me apart. So it felt like a relief to make a final decision, rather than going back and forth between one choice and the other. But it still hurts. 

One of the things I had to do in my CBT sessions recently was write a list of "I deserve…" and it was hard. What I wanted to write was, "I deserve to be healthy. I deserve to have another baby. I deserve to enjoy pregnancy". But I couldn't, because I know that it really isn't likely. Endo continues to affect my health and even if I had another baby of my own it is highly likely it would be a battle rather than a joy. 

According to my therapist, this is the point. These are things that I should be able to write, even if they aren't likely. That I should feel justified in the pain and sadness it brings knowing that these are things I should be able to experience. But it doesn't change the reality…

But even though it is hard, I know it is the right decision for my family. The pain at not having the chance to do all those things connected to carrying and giving birth to your own baby is far less than the pain we could feel by trying to do it all again in spite of all the things against us.

It hurts to know I'll never get to breastfeed another baby, especially as we had such troubles when Little Man was young. It hurts to know we'll never get to go to another scan, to see our baby for the first time, to choose a name and prepare our hearts and lives for a new baby. It hurts in a way that I know some people will know in their own hearts, but so many others will never understand. Not fully.

We feel blessed that Endometriosis didn't rob us of my fertility, but at the same time it is a leading contributor to the decision to never do it again. The time it takes for me to recover from pregnancy and the risk of Ectopic pregnancies that it has caused combined with the risk of complications during pregnancy makes me feel like, in some way, we have more in common with those who physically cannot have a baby than those who can. Because we feel it is an option we just cannot take, however much we'd like to.

But where does that leave us for support? We could try for another baby, so don't really have infertility issues. We're not actively trying and unable to. But choosing not to is not our first choice. 

This is why it is so important for me to dedicate as much of my time and energy to raising awareness of HG and that it is so much more than "severe Nausea and Vomiting in Pregnancy". There needs to be much more understanding of just how bad it can be. There needs to be much more research into potential causes of it and possible medications to help with the severity of the symptoms. There needs to be far more support. All of this is needed to help prevent other women having to face these exact same decisions and to support them if they do.

TJ and I are heading off to the annual conference held by Pregnancy Sickness Support this month, and I am working hard on reading through as much research as I can and bringing together as many "personal experiences" as possible from other HG sufferers and survivors to ensure the book I am writing is as accurate, informative, supportive and representative as possible. It is a big task but it is one close to my heart.

And having this project helps, in a small way, to give meaning to all of this. As a writer, this is an ideal project for me. It gives a purpose to my work. And gives me something positive to focus on rather than only the negative.

TJ and I still have a lot of healing to do. And we still have some big decisions to make. The biggest of all being do we remain as a one child family, or do we look into fostering and/or adoption. And I'm sure I'll be writing about this a lot over the next few years. But for now, we've made the hardest decision of all. Little Man is to be our only biological child. Our journey of creating a family in the natural way is over. And that is taking some getting used to…

NB: I must add here that since writing this I have done much more research and we have discovered just how badly managed my pregnancy was and how we could potentially have a better experience a second time round, is still difficult. So we have opened it up to a "maybe" again, however not for several more years yet!!

Hyperemesis Gravidarum

I just wanted to let you all know that I have now updated the page on Hyperemesis Gravidaum here on the blog.

I have been struggling a lot with this over the past few days and have plenty I’d like to write about, but also have very limited time to blog right now because I want to spend as much time with Little Man as possible.

In short, I have been struggling with seeing other pregnant women, especially those pregnant with a second or third child, because that makes me face my decision to never go through pregnancy again. And that hurts. Anyone who knows me well will know I always looked forward to being pregnant and having a family and to turn my back on expanding my family in that way is painful.

As it stands we won’t want to even think of expanding our family until Oscar is several years older because I need to get my health sorted, having been ill for several years with Endometriosis and the treatments for it before my Hyperemesis Gravidarum hell last year. We still aren’t sure whether we will have more than one child and whether that addition will be through adoption or not.

This past week I started wondering if I shouldn’t have said “never again” so hastily during my pregnancy and yet I know I would be terrified to try again. So basically I am torn in two by it all and am trying to work through my thoughts and emotions rather than pushing them down and letting them build to unbearable levels.

Of course these decisions don’t need to be made now. And I am more than happy with Oscar being an only child for the time being. I love every minute with him and want to cherish these early years and would be quite happy if we didn’t expand the family until he was 4, 5 even 6 maybe. But I know that one day I will have to make the decision as to whether I can face the possibility of HG again or whether Tim and I need to look at adoption or even remaining a one child family.

So I am trying to deal with these emotions as they come up. I don’t want to feel jealous every time I see a pregnant woman. I don’t want to have to change channel every time an advert for One Born Every Minute comes on the tv, or turn of Twitter because it is trending. I don’t want to become bitter about it, and so that means I need to work through it.

So I decided now was the time to finally get around to writing my page on Hyperemesis and I would be hugely grateful if you would check it out.

This post has been added to the Tuesday Tea and Sympathy Linky. Click on the image below to check out the other posts taking part.

 


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Emotional Fallout

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Hello, I'm 4 weeks old and I'm gorgeous!

I can't believe it has been 4 weeks since we met Little Man and already our life as a family of three feels so right that we cannot imagine it being any other way.

There are so many things I want to write about already, and yet it is the very fact that so much is happening in our lives that I want to write about that keeps me from writing. I am far too busy loving on my boy to get online to write these days. But I will be back soon as the things I want to write need to be written, if nothing more than to give me a record of all the things I'm thinking and feeling right now!

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One of the major things which I think will take several posts to cover, is the emotional fallout of the pregnancy I had. Whilst in it I couldn't wait for it to be over and the nightmare of how ill I was to pass. I never, ever wanted to be pregnant again and although that thought hurt me inside, I was too focussed on the physical to deal with the emotional side of things (not to mention that crying made me throw up!)

But now Little Man is here and I get to fall in love with every part of him more each day I realise just how big that is. I see his tiny toes and his attempts to smile and realise we won't do this again. And that hurts. I see my sister-in-law pregnant with her third child, looking forward to the new arrival with her first two children and realise Little Man will never get to experience the anticipation of a baby brother or sister. And it hurts. But more than that, when I look at him and know he was worth every second of being so ill I feel guilty for not being willing to do it again. But I can't. I don't want to put myself or TJ through that again. Nor do I want to miss out on several months of Little Man's life through being that ill again. And that really hurts.

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Deep down I know how incredibly blessed we were to fall pregnant and have a very healthy baby boy at the end of the pregnancy. Some people never get to live this dream. I will never forget that, but it doesn't stop the hurt.

And even without these aspects of the pregnancy experience I had there are still the remnants of sickness that remain 4 weeks later, the extreme exhaustion from being very ill for 9 months, and the fear surrounding both getting ill or falling pregnant again. There are certain foods I don't think I'll ever want to touch again. There are certain songs, tv programmes, and books that take me right back to the moments I listened to, watched or read them in an attempt to take my mind off how very sick I felt. And I have a feeling that certain times of the year will always remind me of my very worst days.

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Don't get me wrong: I am loving being a mum and I am spending most of my days with a massive grin on my face. But the emotional fallout is still there and it hits me at the strangest of times. I imagine it will take quite some time to work through it all and I am sure I will have a lot to write about in weeks to come. But for now I just wanted to note that although I am in heaven with my baby boy, there are these emotions that need to be recognised, honoured and faced and so it may take me a while to get back to regular blogging and I may even take to blogging several posts at a time if my mind needs to get several things sorted at some point. But whichever way it happens, I will keep writing and posting photos of my dear, sweet boy!

Thank you for reading xx

Welcome Little Man!

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Tomorrow (25th) should have been my due date. But due to the cholestasis, I was induced a week early.

The above photo was taken on 17th, the day before my induction. TJ and I were on a last-chance attempt to kick things off naturally by going on a ridiculously long walk and bouncing up and down on the see-saw at the park. Not an easy feat with a massive bump, I can tell you!

So Sunday 18th we went to the hospital at 8am for monitoring, and they began my induction at 9am with a low dose of prostin gel. It wasn't long before I was getting "tightenings" every 3 mins approximately, which continued throughout the day. However I was stuck at 2cm dilated for hours. 

A couple of baths, a couple of paracetamol, and lots of moving around helped with the pain but as the evening drew in I began to feel really sick. TJ went home at 8pm and throughout the night it became obvious that things were not quite going as well as they could. I was still dilating and eventually reached 5cm by about 5am, but I had also developed very high blood pressure, my heart rate was so fast they couldn't tell if the monitor was picking up mine or baby's heartbeat and I had ketones in my urine. So I was hooked up to a monitor and a drip and finally sent to the labour ward for them to break my waters and get things moving quicker.

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This is just after I'd had my waters broken and before things got really intense. TJ wanted to show how many things I was hooked up to at this point. It made moving into comfortable positions difficult and once my waters were broken and the contractions coming thick and fast I started to lose control.

Everyone had been commenting up until this point how calm I was and how they found it hard to believe I had been contracting regularly and reached 5cm dilated plus feeling so sick from the way my body was reacting to the labour with having only taken a couple of paracetamol. And I had quite reasonably replied that the intensity of the pain was no worse than what I got with my periods thanks to Endometriosis and that I had been to work in worse pain than this. However, with the added pressure of baby's head finally descending fully into the pelvis and the loss of the calmer moments between contractions this soon changed!

I quickly agreed to a half dose of diamorphine thinking there was no way I could face another 12 hours being as exhausted as I was. I was slightly put out by the midwife's comments that "labour is hard" in a sort of "what do you expect" kind of way. But she was good enough to suggest a dose of anti-emetic intravenously through my drip to help ease the side effects of the diamorphine and that a lower dose should be easier to cope with.

TJ says it was like my whole body sighed when it started to kick in, but all I remember is saying "I feel really woozy, I'm going to lie down now" and crawling onto the bed. I never thought I would labour lying down, but it was truly the only way I could cope and actually it worked to my benefit. Within 2 and a half hours I had dilated the final 5cm and although the diamorphine did nothing for the pain, it did help me drift off between contractions and so I had no idea of time passing. So I relaxed and my body took over and before I knew it every time I "woke up" to a contraction my body was pushing all on its own. 

The midwife, though later telling me that I had been considered the lady least likely to deliver that day, was thrilled to see this and a quick examination showed I was ready. So I sat up to try and give birth but the urge to push disappeared. Two or three contractions later I decided to lay back down on my side and suddenly my body was pushing all on its own accord again. 

It took an hour of pushing (though it felt much shorter to me because I was still drifting off between contractions) to give birth to my boy. I remember vague things like the midwife teasing TJ about pushing along with me and her telling me she could see the head, but mostly I was just aware of letting my body do the work and not thinking too much about it. In fact I was so "in the zone" that when the midwife suddenly said "look down" and I saw my baby had been born I couldn't quite believe it!

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Little Man (OJD) was born at 11.27am on Monday 19th September weighing a hefty 9lbs 6oz. Nobody could quite believe I had carried and given birth to such a big baby as I am only small myself, but here he was. Proof that no matter how sick I was throughout the pregnancy, my body had done an excellent job of providing my baby with all he needed. 

Unfortunately, I was advised to have a managed third stage because of the risk of excessive bleeding from the cholestasis and I ended up surviving the labour without being sick but then throwing up for quite some time after the birth thanks to the injection they use to get the placenta to deliver. So between that and still being very dopey from the diamorphine, I missed a lot of the first few hours and TJ was left to enjoy the "skin-to-skin" contact as I dozed.

I also had to be taken to theatre for stitching as not only was Little Man a big boy, he also came out with his hand by his head and I ended up with a third degree tear. So that was another hour I missed with him. And because I had been given diamorphine, albeit a smaller dose than normal, so close to giving birth Little Man was very sleepy too. So we didn't do huge amounts of bonding that day.

However I had to stay in hospital until Wednesday, so we spent a lot of that time getting to know each other. And daddy joined in too whenever he was visiting, and spent a lot of time just enjoying "skin-to-skin" contact with the baby boy he fell in love with so totally. 

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We have been home since Wednesday afternoon and after a couple of very difficult nights when Little Man just wanted to feed constantly (which we think is his making up for not taking much over the first 24-36 hours) and my hormones going crazy and my milk coming in, we are finally starting to get to grips with being parents.

It is so different to anything I ever imagined. So precious. And so unbelievable that we have him here. 

I cannot even comprehend how my pregnancy created this beautiful boy. And I find myself blocking out the whole experience because I cannot emotionally connect the two things. I very often resented being pregnant, but I love my baby boy so much that my mind cannot find a way of accepting that the two are so closely interconnected. I find myself thinking "was it really that bad?" when I look at Little Man, but then I realise that it truly was while I was in it. It is as if I wasn't myself for 9 whole months and now I am me again, but a different me as now I am a mum.

I think it will take me a long time to come to terms with the pregnancy I had. But being a mum, well that is just the most beautiful thing I have ever experienced. And it is only day 5. I'm going to treasure every single moment as I know we won't ever be doing this again and it is just so exciting to know that our baby has the whole world to discover. Being a parent has been harder than we ever imagined already, but the love it gives us is so much bigger.

I'll be back soon with some more photos, but for now I just wanted to let you know he was here and I am enjoying all the cuddles I can get with him!

Sunday 18th is THE day!

Just a quick update for those of you who don't follow me on twitter or see me on facebook (or know me in real life, obviously!)

Our appointment at the assessment unit went well yesterday. Baby is still moving like a trooper (even managed to kick one of the monitors off my bump several times!) and his heart rate is perfect. So that is a relief.

However cholestasis has been officially diagnosed and so I am now on medication for it, have to return for monitoring Wednesday and Friday this week, and am being induced Sunday morning. 

So it is just a case of taking it easy (especially as my feet and ankles are so very swollen these days) and keeping an eye on baby's movements on the days when we don't go in for monitoring until Sunday arrives.

I'm hoping all the cramps I've been having (which the monitoring yesterday suggests are actually braxton hicks) is my body starting to prepare for labour anyway so we might have a bit of luck and get somewhere with the induction rather than going on for days and days with no progress… here's hoping!

Thanks for all your thoughts and hopefully sometime next week I shall be making the announcement of our little man's arrival. 

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Life at the Patch – 38 weeks

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I normally write my "Life at the Patch" posts on a Monday but tomorrow could be an interesting day for us so I decided to write this week's today instead.

As you all know by now, I'm sure, I have found pregnancy extremely challenging. Between Hyperemesis Gravidarum, Pelvic GIrdle Pain and Anaemia, I've been feeling pretty rough. But the past few weeks have been particularly demanding. 

So when I saw the midwife last Thursday I was having a good old moan about it all and happened to mention that the itching on my hands (which until recently had always been the backs of the hands only) had progressed to the palms of my hands. To be honest when I think back I realise this itching has been getting increasingly worse for several weeks but I had just put it down to eczema, despite occasionally wondering why it wasn't really accompanied by the usual blisters I get with eczema. 

This, of course, made the midwife decide we needed to do a blood test to check my liver function and to rule out Obstestric Cholestasis. The phonecall I received on Friday informed me that the intial results showed no obvious signs of a problem, but I would hear more on Monday. So I was advised to watch the itching and baby's movements and any change in either meant I had to call someone.

As I was expecting to hear more tomorrow, I was a little surprised to get a call on my mobile from one of the midwives on duty yesterday to inform me that the further results had come through and the levels of bile salts in my blood are raised. Meaning I now have to see a consultant tomorrow. 

From what I have been told and what I have read, it seems pretty standard procedure to induce labour around 37 to 38 weeks when Obstetric Cholestasis is a factor, and as today marks the beginning of week 38 for me, we are pretty much preparing ourselves to be told tomorrow that this is the plan of action. Which means that Tim has asked me to ensure that my hospital bag is ready to be taken to the car so that we are ready to go without any last minute fuss. 

Of course we know it's not going to be a mad rush, but we are thinking that the more we prepare now the better it will be, especially as we do not know whether we can get in to see a consultant here or have to travel to Lincoln hospital, in which case it would make sense to take my hospital bag over and potentially camp in my parents' spare room rather than travelling backwards and forwards. And anyway, we had only just been discussing the fact that it might make sense to have the bag in the car ready before we even knew we'd be seeing someone tomorrow. So it's just one of those times when we are trying to be organised now so that we aren't stressing over whether we've forgotten something if I go into labour or we have to head over for an induction. 

I won't know until tomorrow morning when or where our appointment will be, nor whether the consultant's advice is to induce or wait and see, but I'm pretty sure I'm going to be pre-occupied whatever happens this next week or two, so just wanted to give everyone a "heads up" that we're still here, we're still ok, but I might not be online as much as usual for a little bit. I promise though to get online as soon as I can once baby is born to let you all know the good news, even if in a one-line, straight-to-the-point-as-I'm-too-busy-bonding-with-my-baby-to-want-to-write-a-proper-blog-post-thank-you-very-much kind of way!! 

Have a wonderful week everyone xx

Life at the Patch – 37 weeks!

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It's been a joyous weekend here at the Patch…

We are, as of yesterday, officially FULL TERM!! 

That means little man can come any time now without us worrying that he is just a tad early. There were times when I couldn't imagine getting to this point, and yet here we are. We have our first (and only) antenatal class tomorrow and then I'd be happy if the little guy decided to make his entrance into the world sooner rather than later.

I shall never, ever forget how lucky we have been to have this baby. And despite being incredibly ill with Hyperemesis Gravidarum, my body has done remarkably well. My iron levels, which were borderline at 28 weeks, are now low enough for me to be diagnosed as anaemic and yet I am surprised I made it this far before iron tablets were needed, bearing in mind I barely managed to eat or drink for the first 5 months of pregnancy!! And despite being considered at higher risk of developing pre-eclampsia, my blood pressure has actually remained lower than normal throughout, and yesterday was the first time I noticed any swelling whatsoever.

I would never dream of suggesting that the pregnancy wasn't an amazing experience, because growing a new life is incredibly rewarding in so many ways. But it has been a challenge far greater than any I have ever faced and I know in my heart I could never face it again, not knowing how bad it could be nor how very long 9 months seems when you are so sick all the way through. It's been hard enough dealing with it when only working part-time and being able to spend a large majority of the time resting. I couldn't do it again with a toddler to care for. 

And this makes these last few days or weeks (depending on when he comes) that much more special. No matter how much pain I'm in nor how sick I feel, I'm very aware of how much I need to cherish these remaining moments when my body is doing something so natural and yet so miraculous (and something that so many people never get to experience). For all the times I cried over how very ill I felt, I am glad to have been given the chance to experience this. I'll never forget the gift we've been given and just hope I can cherish every moment with my baby once he is here.

Because of this, I have found the latest facebook "game" that is supposedly raising awareness for breast cancer hard to deal with. I'm not going to write about it now, as I want to ensure I give it the proper time and attention and shall post later this week with some of the links to bloggers and articles that speak far more deeply about it than I can. But until then would it be too much to ask you to refrain from participating in the "I'm ___ weeks and craving ___" game that implies you are pregnant because far from being a harmless bit of fun, it is incredibly hurtful to so many (again, I shall provide links about this in a later post!) 

And, in other pregnancy/baby related news, one of my newer blog friends who I discovered earlier this year has just given birth to her second daughter. You may remember KK from The Mom Diggity from her guest post last month about adoption. Well, go check out her blog this week to hear all the news about becoming a family of four and see some of the truly awesome items that she has got for the baby from some wonderful crafters!