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Telling Our Only Child We Won’t Have Another Baby

So, this blog post is quite a tough one for me to write. But it’s also one I knew I would probably have to write at some point. Little Man is an Only Child, which is something I’ve written about a fair bit in the past. But we’ve never really had to talk about it with him before. I mean, he’s only just turned 5, it’s not a conversation that naturally occurs with a young child. Until today. Today we had to tell him we won’t ever have another baby. And that was unbelievably hard.

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It all started because we were watching Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (of all things). A character in the episode was giving birth and Little Man showed interest in what was happening. So TJ explained to him that babies grow in their mummy’s tummy and then mummy has to push them out. We’ve mentioned this in the past when talking about friends who were expecting, and we’ve even told him he grew in my tummy, but he never really questioned it before. So we didn’t really expect him to do so this time.

But just after the baby was born, he started telling us how cute the baby was. Again, this is nothing new – he often tells us how cute babies are whenever he sees one. (He does the same with kittens, but that’s another story!) But this time he seemed to fall into thoughtful silence. So I asked him, “do you think you’d like to be a daddy one day and have a baby?” And that’s when things got interesting.

Maybe a minute or two later he started pushing down on his belly towards his bottom and grimacing. I automatically asked him if his stomach hurt (as it was less than 24 hours since he had vomited with an upset stomach). But he said, “no mummy, I’m trying to push!” For a moment or two I had no idea what he meant, and then it suddenly dawned on me. “Are you trying to push a baby out of your belly?” The answer was a firm yes.

I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, it was one of those moments! My heart practically exploded at the adorable nature of his innocent misunderstanding of what we had told him. I explained that only ladies could grow babies in their tummies and so even when he was grown up he wouldn’t have a baby himself. But he could still be a daddy one day if he wanted to be. And I hoped that might end his confusion. Except I don’t think it was mere confusion, he really did seem to want a baby.

He started trying to pull my top undone to get to my belly, so he could push on that. So I had to explain to him that mummy doesn’t have a baby in her tummy. At which point I think my heart broke in two. As hard as it was for TJ and myself to decide never to have another baby, I always knew there might come a day when Little Man would show an interest in a brother or sister. And I knew it would be difficult to explain why we’d chosen that, not because it was the wrong choice but rather because it was a choice I desperately wish we’d never had to make.

I’d have loved nothing more than to be able to tell Little Man that mummy doesn’t have a baby in her tummy right now but one day she might. But I couldn’t. I had to explain to him that we won’t ever have another baby growing in mummy’s tummy. Only he got to grow in there when he was a baby. He turned to TJ and asked if he had a baby in his tummy, making us explain once again only ladies get to do that. She he turned back to me and said, “maybe there’s a tiny baby!” I told him I was sorry, but no there wasn’t even a tiny baby in there. “Maybe, as tiny as an ant!” he replied. Oh, my poor, broken heart!

There are many, many times when I wish things could have been different. When I see how much Little Man adores playing with other kids at the park or seeing his cousins. When he tells me how cute babies are, or says, “I hear a baby” and looks around for them when we’re out and about. And also when he takes such wonderful care of the numerous teddies and soft toys he takes to bed with him. He hates being alone, in fact his standard response when he can’t sleep or wakes in the night is “I’m lonely”. I wish, more than anything else, we could have expanded our family as I’m sure he’d have loved it.

But we can’t. It’s just not an option for us. It never was. But even in those early days I clung on to the idea that maybe one day we could still foster. I thought if Little Man showed an interest and seemed able to cope with the demands fostering puts on a family, maybe we could do it. But the reality is that I’m too sick to do that. It really is just going to be our little family of three.

And in many ways that’s alright. I love the dynamic we have and the fact that Little Man can have as much attention as he craves. Although, actually, he craves a LOT of attention – because he doesn’t like being alone, remember – so I’m not sure he’d agree he gets as much as he wants! But the point is, he has us all to himself. We’re busy parents, working and balancing our many health issues, and so we don’t have a lot of time and energy to spare. What we do have is all his. And that works for us.

So, yes, my heart feels fragile tonight. This whole thing has reminded me just how much my health has robbed from us, both in terms of not being able to have another baby and in terms of not even being able to think about fostering. But there’s nothing I can do about that. So I’m choosing to see the beauty in Little Man’s hope and interest in us having a baby as something we can cherish, even if we can’t make it come true for him. Because, if nothing else, it shows he is growing into a very loving little boy.

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

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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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!

Life at the Patch – 36 weeks

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Photo taken at 34 (?) weeks… impossible to imagine I'm even bigger now!!

Sorry for the lack of regular posting of late. I am just feeling so tired and uncomfortable that finding the time to sit and write up any of the million things going through my mind is just too much like hard work some days. I'm sure you'll understand!

I'm now 36 weeks (and 2 days, to be precise). Which means that come Sunday I shall be classed as "full-term" and I only have 26 days until my actual due date. Doesn't sound like much, does it? And yet these past couple of weeks have dragged by so slowly that it feels like far longer to go.

I'm tired, I'm grumpy, and I'm ready for the nightmare of (my) pregnancy to be over. I always expected to love every moment of being pregnant but instead I have hated almost everything about it: the sickness, the pain, the sleeplessness… did I mention the sickness?

I've been feeling sick a lot lately. Not that I've had a single day since about the beginning of week 5 when I didn't feel nauseated. But I did have a blessed couple of months between weeks 24 and 30 when the nausea was almost forgetable. I even began to think that time would actually whizz by and I'd enjoy the latter part of my pregnancy. Oh how naive I can be!

Add to that the fact that I am getting cramps almost daily now, and some pretty intense stabbing pains and you'll see why I am ready for it to be over and my little man to finally be here. I know we have been utterly blessed to fall pregnant naturally and carry to term (well we're close enough now!) and I'll never underestimate how lucky we have been. But it has been a very long, hard journey for us both and we're more than ready for it to be over and for our new journey as parents to begin. 

It's going to be hard. There are going to be days when I doubt myself. There are going to be days when Tim gets home from work and the first thing I do is thrust the baby at him and say tearfully, "here, you take him, he hasn't stopped crying all day, I'm going for a bath!!" And there will be days when I wonder why on earth I was so desperate to have a newborn. But there will be just as many days when I hope to be utterly transfixed by the beauty of the life we created and the bonds we are building with him. And I cannot wait for those to start, no matter how hard the rest of it may be.

We're almost there, and yet it feels so far away still. So please excuse me if I don't blog as much as normal. I'm sure I'll have plenty to tell you once little man is born, but for now I just want to focus on getting through the coming days and weeks until he is here. 

Why I write (and a tribute to my cousin).

I know that a lot of you already know this news because you are either part of my family, in my group or friends, or have seen it on facebook, twitter or iVillage UK. But for those of you who just pop by the blog once in a while or who have only just stumbled across the Patch, I need to tell you something before this post will make any sense.

On Sunday 14th August I received a phonecall telling me that my 24 year old cousin had died overnight. The cause of death has since been given as "Sudden Adult Death Syndrome".

This is my cousin (furthest on the right)

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I wish I had a more recent photo than the ones taken at our wedding last October, but I cannot seem to find any right now. 

My cousin was well loved and well respected by so many people and it has shocked the entire family and so many of the people we know. I've spent most of the past week talking to family about what has happened and trying to get my head around the fact that this is real. 

And so, when I wrote my weekly article for iVillageUK on pregnancy this week I knew that I had to write about this loss and how it affects us. You can read the article here, and I would greatly appreciate it if you would take the time to check it out and pass on the link to others, as you never know who might be facing the loss of a loved one during an emotionally heightened time such as pregnancy. 

As with most of the articles I write, the words came tumbling out once I started writing because I had already been thinking it through in my head for several days before I sat down at the computer to write it. I knew I wanted to share all the thoughts and feelings that I was experiencing that are perhaps unique to losing someone whilst expecting a new life, but I also knew that it was crucial to do justice to the range of emotions that anybody who loses a loved one goes through. And even more than that, I wanted to ensure that I made it clear just how much my cousin will be missed.

Since submitting the article for publication on the site, I have had several people mention how beautifully written it was and several more who have thanked me for finding the strength to write such an article. And it is these comments that made me want to write this post about why I write.

You see, writing is very natural to me. I write the way I think and obviously the way I think makes a lot of sense to other people otherwise I wouldn't get such sweet comments. And I decided a long time ago that I wanted to use the skill I had been given to draw attention to those aspects of life that are so often hard to discuss. It started with writing about my Endometriosis, developed on to writing about trying to conceive and then the dark side of pregnancy, and has taken me to a place I didn't think I'd be going so soon, that of a death in the family.

I'm an honest person and find it very difficult not to wear my heart on my sleeve and show just how I am feeling. But even that doesn't explain just why I write and why however much appreciated the comments about my writing are, they sometimes give me credit for something I haven't even thought of. You see, for me, writing is like a kind of therapy. It allows me to pull all my thoughts and feelings together and to then set them free. And this stops me from stewing too long and hard on something and actually helps me heal from whatever issues I may be facing.

Knowing that what I write helps and inspires others is a wonderful gift that I shall be forever grateful for, but in all honesty it is a happy coincidence that comes from doing what I need to do. Writing the article about my cousin's death helped me to come to terms with what I was feeling. It helped me to get my head around all the various issues it brought up and by admitting how I felt it made those that were less-than-positive feel more acceptable. I didn't have to hide how I felt and that was incredibly soothing.

And that is why I write. Because I can. And because it helps me. And in this instance it gave me the best possible chance of honouring the life of someone I loved and wish I had more time to get to know even better. 

Thank you for letting me share my heart with you all. It means a lot. 

Maternity Photos

Warning: this post contains several pregnancy photos, so if you find those difficult to look at, please do come back tomorrow when a new post will be showing at the top of the screen!

Yesterday was a very strange day here at the Patch. Despite being very excited for the photoshoot I had planned with my "official photographer" Dawn, the day started off with first a sleepless night thanks to nightmares and then a phonecall with some very shocking and sad news. I'm not going to go into details right now as it doesn't feel right at the present moment, but with the entire family trying to get their heads round what had happened, it felt strange to be carrying on as normal, almost like time should have stopped for a while.

Have you ever felt excited about one thing and sad at another at exactly the same time? It's a strange mixture of emotions and for a few moments I wondered whether perhaps I should cancel the shoot and reschedule it for another day. But I'm glad I didn't, because it brought my focus back to the joy in our lives right now. And it was a lot of fun.

Dawn and I have been discussing a new series for the Patch based around photography and one of the thoughts we had was to take photos of certain topics that Dawn could then write about, giving hints and tips to people who want to have a go at it themselves. Obviously, the first photoshoot we planned was a maternity one and I cannot wait to share Dawn's tips with you once she has had chance to write that article, because I'm sure there are many ladies like me who want to capture this special time in their lives but do not want to or have the funds to have a professional shoot. 

You may remember that we didn't have a professional photographer on our wedding day, but chose to let 3 of our friends take as many photos as they felt like. Dawn was one of those three and has recently been dubbed "my official photographer" as she knows just how to grab those shots that show our personalities so well. I like to think it's because she's a quirky as we are, or we're as quirky as she is, and so we don't really need to plan photos as such, just take a lot of shots as we enjoy ourselves.

Which is how the following photos came out. I'm going to share a small selection, however as is usual when working with someone like Dawn, there are far too many good shots to include in one post. So I'm planning on setting up some photo galleries here on the blog so that you can see the work that Dawn has done and I can link back to them when her articles go live. 

But for now, here are some of my favourites from the day!

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Tim started off by being artistic and painting flowers on my bump (can I just say I always forget just how big my bump is as I never see it from this kind of angle!)

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But he then went slightly mad and we ended up with this piece of art, which Tim quickly named "Storm in a Lawnmower". 

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So we wiped it off and let Dawn get to it. Dawn is an awesome painter of dragons (I have several dragon birthday cards and a glorious painting she made us for our wedding which I really must share with you sometime). Having her paint them on my bump was funny, and little man did a whole lot of wriggling, so we're guessing he likes dragons and dinosaurs as much as she does!

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I then decided to get changed so that we could take some more "serious" shots. I don't really do serious, but I did know I wanted to catch a few more intimate shots to keep. We had fun playing with light and shadow…

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And we even took a few outside. However, being as overcast as it was and having washing on the line, we kept the outdoor shots to a minimum. Well, the outdoor shots of me anyway: Dawn had a lot of fun taking photos of our flowers and veggies, but who can blame her? I'll share some of those photos later in the week.

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It didn't take long before Tim was up to his old tricks however. I'm not sure that I ever did share his impression of "Psycho" from the photos of us cutting the wedding cake. But if you've been following this blog for any length of time I'm sure you've seen many photos with Tim messing around in them. I'm not sure messing around with my top while I was cutting the vegetables for dinner was the best idea, you know pregnant lady with a sharp knife and all that! But what can I say? The boy makes me laugh, daily. 

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Case in point. What started as a "couple" shot, ended up with Tim playing a vampire. 

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I may sometimes "look" irritated momentarily…

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But I quickly get my own back!

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And Tim is always up for a laugh, even if it does mean looking a bit ridiculous!

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Of course we had to take a photo to prove that yes I have actually overtaken Tim on the belly front and that compared to my bump, he looks rather svelte indeed! Have I mentioned how practically all of the weight I have gained has gone directly onto my bump? I am one solid lump out front, but still relatively small everywhere else. And I haven't a stretchmark in sight, much to the annoyance of my friend. I thank my mum for her excellent genes when it comes to the skin… thanks mum!

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Finally, we couldn't forget to get a shot of daddy talking to his son. Tim finds real joy in shouting into my bump and then laying his head against it to see if he can get a reply. Just the other day I was concerned that little man hadn't moved much at all (he is usually on the go all day long) and Tim's response was to blow a massive raspberry on my belly. I think the resulting kick he got in the face was just priceless. Who says daddy and son can't have fun even before birth? 

I hope you've enjoyed seeing some of these photos. As I say, my plan is to get a section on the site for photo galleries so I can upload these and other photos into categories that are easy to search and look through. So keep your eyes peeled for that new addition.

And come back tomorrow to meet yet another guest blogger. I feel so honoured that so many people have taken up my offer to host guest posts here at the Patch and hope that several more of you might consider it in the future too. 

The End of a Long Year!

My latest article for iVillageUK focuses on preparing for the birth of our son next month. As you all know, pregnancy has been incredibly difficult for me physically, mentally and emotionally and although becoming a parent is going to be a real challenge, I am ready for the end of the pregnancy and our new life as a family of three to begin.

I often feel as if time has changed over the past few months and it’s as if I haven’t really been here, but locked in my own strange little world of pregnancy woes. And yet, looking back at the very first article I wrote for ivillage I realise just how much has changed and how crazy it is to think that it hasn’t even been a year since I started writing these weekly articles.

In fact, I am pretty sure that the beginning of my series on Endometriosis and Trying to Conceive started around the same point in September as my baby is due. Now that is rather mind-blowing when you think about the fact that the series started from the uncertainty of coming off birth control and trying for a baby.

It was truly difficult to keep the news of our pregnancy quiet until the end of my first trimester, especially when I was so sick. I continued writing articles on trying to conceive because I had thought it would take us much longer to fall pregnant and so had many topics I still wanted to cover. But it was very strange writing them when knowing we had been blessed with our little man.

And so when I was invited to continue writing my articles from a pregnancy point of view I was thrilled. What better opportunity can someone who loves writing and sharing experiences possibly be given than to write for such a website? And suddenly I was writing about a whole new range of difficulties and Endometriosis was rarely mentioned.

Don’t get me wrong, I am loving writing about pregnancy and am happy to say that I have been offered the chance to continue writing once the baby is here from a parenting point of view. But it does leave me wondering whether I am neglecting a cause I feel really strongly about: Endometriosis Awareness.

Just because I fell pregnant and haven’t had so many issues directly related to Endometriosis in recent months, it is still very much a part of my life. I wonder how I will be after the birth. Will my periods return quickly and will they be as painful and troublesome as before? What might be different? And how will it affect my ability to be the best mother I can be if I am ill on a regular basis?

And the closer I come to giving birth the more I wonder about this and the more I realise that I seem to have come full circle, so to speak. My emphasis is on my long-term health again rather than the difficulties of pregnancy and I am determined to use my voice to raise awareness of Endometriosis, as well as so many other things I am passionate about. In fact pregnancy has given me more things to campaign for, such as better research and support for those suffering from such debilitating conditions such as hyperemesis and PGP.

I’m all for using my own experiences to help direct my writing and work, and yet it has been hard to know what to write of late as there is so much running through my mind. So it has been wonderful to have guest bloggers share in spreading the word about Endometriosis. If you missed it, please do check out Danielle’s post explaining all the work she has been doing to raise awareness of it. And don’t forget to enter the giveaway for Jen’s Endometriosis Awareness Tote Bag/Hot Water Bottle Cozy and Purse. You only have until Friday to enter (by spreading awareness in one of the four ways described at the end of this post) and it would be a shame to miss this opportunity to get the word out and make a difference in any way you can!

 

Life at the Patch – 33 weeks

It feels like forever since I wrote last week's "Life at the Patch" update. The combination of getting heavier, sleeping less and becoming impatient has meant that time seems to be dragging once more. A week still doesn't feel quite as long as it did at the beginning of the pregnancy when my Hyperemesis was at its worst, but suddenly reaching our due date 7 weeks from now feels so far away again.

Perhaps it is because having finally sorted out the nursery, washed all the baby's clothes, put the cot up and ordered the mattress, I now feel ready for the little man to be here. There isn't much more to do other than wait. My hospital bag is packed, my next midwife appointment is booked and I am waddling around the house wondering just when the little one might decide to come and just how long I have left. Will he come a couple of weeks early, or will he be late? Do I actually still have another 9 weeks to go? 

So it's been great to occupy my mind with other things. And one of those things has been crochet.

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I've had the pattern for this little bassinette for months and yet only just felt confident enough in my skill to have a go. Ever since discovering Ravelry I have been more adventurous with my attempts. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't, but I'm having fun anyway. 

And it's perfect timing really as I have several people I want to make things for over the coming months, and doing so develops my skill so that hopefully I'll have some even better results by the time Christmas rolls around and people will actually receive gifts rather than apologies that I just didn't have the time to complete them. Is it too early to talk about Christmas? I'm guessing not seeing as though once the baby is born I am sure time will whizz by me so fast that Christmas will have been and gone before I've caught my breath!

I'm still enjoying the little projects that work up quickly, although I am still slightly unsure how the lilac hat turned out bigger than the pink one when I made them one after the other, using the same pattern, same size hook and very similar yarn. Both were DK weight, but I guess something in the material made a difference. I still have so much to learn!

But, the more I do the more I realise the theory behind crochet. Up until this point I have simply followed patterns and looked online for the instructions for stitches I've never worked before. I loved what I could produce but had no idea how the designs were made. But working on several patterns recently I have begun to bridge that gap in my knowledge and realised that all it needs is a bit of thinking, a bit of maths, and just a tiny bit more patience than I sometimes have!

It started when I was making up a pattern for some fingerless gloves/wristwarmers and realised the pattern I was making was far too big for my wrists (I have tiny wrists). So after some thinking and playing around I realised how to make the pattern smaller by taking out the correct number of stitches on the foundation chain. This was what taught me that the patterns are essentially mathematical in design, working on repeats and multiplication of said repeats to gain the correct size and shape. I was always good at maths but always found it very boring, so it's nice to find that I can actually use it for something other than my weekly budget!

(Remind me I need to show you a photo of the gloves/wristwarmers!)

Anyway, with that aspect of crochet design firmly implanted in my head and a wealth of new stitches and techniques being presented with each new pattern I tried, I found myself planning first changes to the patterns (like making a thumb hole for the wristwarmers). And before I knew it, I tried my hand at making my very own pattern when I couldn't find what I wanted. 

As I'm totally new to this, I have sent the pattern to my "crochet guru" for guidance, but I hope to share it with you soon. For now, let me show you my first attempt, which will be ok for my little man but was not quite right. 

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I stole the initial part of the design from the pattern for the hats I shared earlier on. This helped me gain the right size for the hat. But then I was on my own, hooking (and unhooking) the motif as I worked my way down the rows. Like I say, the motif didn't quite work out right and I re-worked it once I had the rest of the pattern clear in my head and promise to share the end result with you later in the week.

But I cannot begin to tell you just how proud I was to have finally made that step from what I call my "passing interest" in crochet into what I deem to be quite an addiction. My stash of yarn that I have had for years is now half the size it once was and I am sure it will be all but gone by the time the baby gets here, so I think I shall be needing some more. How exciting! I hope you won't get too sick of my crochet enthusiasm because I have a feeling it is here to stay.

And talking of crochet, don't forget to enter this week's giveaway to win the totebag/hot water bottle cozy and purse that my crochet guru Jen created especially for you, my readers. Find out all the details here

Life At The Patch – 32 Weeks

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photo taken at 30 weeks, about to head to a wedding

According to the "ticker" I have on the Mums Due forum I visit, I have 55 days left until my due date… 55 days!! In some ways that feels so small and in other ways it still feels like such a long way away. The ladies on my forum all keep saying how fast the past few months have gone and that they cannot believe we are all due so soon, and yet because of how horrendously difficult my pregnancy has been I feel the exact opposite. It feels like a lifetime since January and I'm looking forward to days feeling that little bit shorter again once my body is back to just trying to keep me safe and well.

That's not to say I want the days and weeks to fly by when the little one gets here, though I'm sure they will. And I have to say that realising I have such a short amount of time left has given me a bit of a kick up the bum. My lovely mum has been here over the weekend and she has helped me wash all the baby clothes and blankets, all of which are gifts I hasten to add, and we've had fun pegging them out on the line together (or rather my mum pegging them on the line and me watching) and imagining what it will be like when our little man is here and we're dressing him in them. I'm sure laundry won't be half as thrilling once I'm washing poopy nappies and clothes than have been puked on, but this weekend we revelled in the sight of so many tiny little outfits hanging on the line.

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We're also sorting out the nursery. Last week I worked my way through my boxes of craft supplies and hastily filled new boxes with things to keep, things to go in the loft, and things to give away (as well as the rubbish bin!) My mum is far more organised than me and without the bump she is much quicker too, and so she has been a star and rearranged by terribly packed boxes and is currently sorting out the last few bits so that my dad can come tomorrow and help Tim put the big boxes of stuff up in the loft and take the craft supplies I've given her home. 

This means that by tomorrow we will hopefully have the cot put up in our bedroom, the ottoman moved into the hallway, and the furniture in the guest room rearranged as they will be once it officially becomes the nursery. I cannot wait to show you all.

We're still far from finished, though, and Tim and I have some things we really have to do over the coming weeks, such as sorting out the cupboard under the stairs so that there is room to store the stroller, and ordering the cot mattress. We also have to pack my hospital bag. We have most of the essentials, including the Tens Machine I bought second hand, but the bag still needs actually packing. 

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The thought of how close we are is just wonderful but also slightly scary. I just want it to be over now and the little one to be here. I saw the midwife last week and I am still measuring ahead, but only by 1.5cm instead of 3. I'm also borderline anaemic, with my iron levels being 10.6 and my GP surgery prescribing iron for anything under 10.5. So I see the midwife in two weeks' time instead of three just to double check my bloods and the size of my bump. I've also been drilled yet again on the symptoms to watch out for in case I develop pre-eclampsia as I am at a higher risk of it due to family and personal medical histories. So all in all I'm not feeling too bad about being such a lump these days and having to rely on the help of others to get things done. 

Roll on September is all I can say, though, as then he could come at any time. Our estimated due date (EDD) is 25th September, but I keep telling myself that August is the last "full month" I have to survive as by the time September arrives we'll be approaching 37 weeks and classed as full-term. I still have a feeling this little one is going to make a slightly early appearance, but I'm not counting on it just in case he decides to be late!

So for now I am just plodding along, amusing everyone with the dances he seems to do inside (my mum says she has never known a baby move so much!) and hoping that the next few weeks do indeed fly by now we are so close. And until then, I have several posts planned for The Patch, so do check back soon to see what's going on. 

Endometriosis and Pregnancy

I'd like to say a quick thank you once again to Danielle for her brilliant guest post the other day. Please do check it out, and don't forget that her radio interview on the Pelvic Messenger is scheduled to start at 6pm GMT tomorrow (Thursday 28th July). 

It felt great to get some new information and thoughts on Endometriosis onto the blog as I have not written about it myself for such a long time. Part of the reason for this is that due to the intensity of my sickness and physical discomfort during my pregnancy I have had other things on my mind. But in talking to Danielle I realised something that I hadn't consciously accepted.

With Endometriosis being a major cause of infertility, being one of the "lucky ones" who managed to fall pregnant not only without medical interviention but also very quickly meant that I felt a certain uneasiness in sharing the news of my pregnancy and drawing attention to Endometriosis. Despite never having written solely about Endometriosis, I knew that posts about the topic could come up in search engines and bring new readers to the blog who were trying to come to terms with their own fertility issues and to then have them see pregnancy related posts seemed like it might be a smack in the face.

Things were made doubly difficult by the fact that pregnancy has been incredibly harsh on my body. I have been very ill from the word go and it has been an immense battle to keep going most days. I tried not to write too much about my struggles, again for the reason of not wanting to hurt someone inadvertently. And so not only did I steer clear of writing about Endometriosis, but I also limited my writing about Hyperemesis Gravidarum which, like Endometriosis, is a under-researched condition that is often poorly managed by the medical profession and scoffed at by those who believe it is merely "morning sickness".

And yet, despite all of this, there have been many times that I could have written about Endometriosis and pregnancy. Without a doubt, being able to have a baby is one of the most beautiful things and I am so glad that my husband and I escaped the heartbreak of infertility. But at the same time, having had such a challenging pregnancy I know I couldn't do it all again. Most people respond to this with the words "you never know how you'll feel once the baby is born" and "that's just because you are feeling so sick now". What they fail to see is that it isn't just the Hyperemesis Gravidarum making the decision for me (although that is a key point in the way I feel). What they do not realise is that life isn't as easy as deciding to have a baby and simply going for it. 

My husband and I had to think really hard about when the best time for us to try and conceive would be. I have suffered with painful periods since my early teens and since 2005 have had two laparoscopies, gone through two chemically induced pseudo-menopauses, and spent an awful lot of time struggling to cope with the demands of everyday life. Completing my degree was difficult when I was so tired all the time. Commuting and working in a busy environment was almost impossible on my worst days. And making the decision to relocate so that I could work fewer hours each week was exhausting in itself.

We did everything we could to ensure that I went into our pregnancy journey as fit and healthy as I could be. But it wasn't enough. I didn't have much in terms of reserves of energy and getting through the nightmare of Hyperemesis Gravidarum was one of the hardest things we have ever had to do. Despite finally being on anti-emetics, I still feel sick a lot and add that to the pain of unstable joints and regular period-like cramping and stabbing pains which we think are caused by possible Endometriosis adhesions being stretched, and you'll see that pregnancy is not as easy is it first seems in our case. We may be able to fall pregnant naturally, but at what cost?

Don't get me wrong: I would never dream of comparing the hell of my pregnancy with the hell of infertility so many women have to face. But what I am saying is that it is so easy for people to misunderstand what I'm saying and even judge me harshly for it. I don't blame any woman who might read this and think "I'd go through as many 'difficult' pregnancies as possible if it meant I got to have my baby" because I know I would think the exact same thing were I unable to fall pregnant myself. But having experienced it I know that I could never do it again.

I have previously touched on my feelings regarding pregnancy, but it was only when talking to Danielle that I realised just how deep the discomfort this issue brings runs. By worrying about inadvertently upsetting someone I guarded my posts from ever truly touching on Endometriosis, which is still a major aspect of my life. It is almost like there are two groups people affected by Endometriosis, those whose fertility is unaffected and those who face infertility due to it. There are so many groups out there for women facing infertility and within that group there is another division: those who never get the chance to be parents and those who do. I've often read the blogs of women who previously found so much support from the infertile community only to wonder where they fit in now that they are expecting a baby or have a family of their own. And if it's hard for them to know what to say and do, having experienced the same feelings as the readers and friends they now worry about upsetting, then it's certainly hard for those of us who never had to face such things.

But does that mean that we should keep quiet about our own experiences and put on a brave face to hide the pain we are suffering ourselves? I feel almost like I have forgotten why I started writing about Endometriosis in the first place. My initial series on iVillageUK was about trying to conceive and mentioned Endometriosis a lot because at that time I had no idea how my fertility might be affected. Since becoming pregnant and starting a series called "a pregnancy journey" I have barely mentioned Endometriosis and it saddens me that I am missing a great opportunity to spread awareness through such a widely read medium. 

I remember talking to someone about how I would broach the subject of pregnancy on here and deciding that I would try and be as honest as I could about it because that it what this blog is all about. I write about life, my life in particular because that is what I know best after all, and that means writing about every aspect of it. Endometriosis may not be at the forefront of my mind during pregnancy, but it is always nagging away somewhere behind the more obvious things I'm dealing with right now. I worry about how soon my periods will return after the pregnancy is over. I wonder how bad the Endometriosis symptoms may be. I think about the fact that despite so many treatments over recent years the Endometriosis continued to grow and cause more and more havoc on my life, so what is my next option: do I try another form of birth control or see what my body does on its own for the first time in years? And how will all of this affect my ability to do all I want to as a mother? 

Yeah, there are many things I could write about regarding Endometriosis even during pregnancy, and even if there weren't I could still be promoting the work of others like Danielle, because at the end of the day Endometriosis is a chronic condition and it's going to be with me for a long time. But finding that balance between writing about it and trying to ensure I don't come across as "rubbing my pregnancy in other people's faces" is a difficult one. Yet it is one I need to find because if I am to live up to Danielle's kind words about me and the work I do for Endometriosis Awareness, then I need to be writing about it much more frequently than I have in recent months. 

So stay tuned for some new projects and ideas I have regarding Endometriosis over the coming months and please do get in touch if you are, or know someone who is, trying to live live with Endometriosis. It would be great to hear from you. 

And as a last thought, why not consider following me on Twitter? I finally built up the courage to overcome my complete lack of knowledge regarding it and joined up last night. You'll have to give me a few days/weeks to get to grips with how it works, but it would be great to see you there too. My username is @amandaspatch 

Life at the Patch – 30 weeks

Phew! I'm finally in what feels like the final countdown now we have reached 30 weeks. I don't know why, but reaching the 30s just seems so much more in terms of "getting there" than hitting the third trimester did. I guess some of it is because I didn't know exactly when the third trimester began and being able to say I only have 10 weeks left until my due date feels so good!

We have a sneaky feeling that this little one is going to come a bit early, in fact several people have mentioned such. To be honest I wouldn't mind him arriving a little bit early, seeing as how incredibly difficult this pregnancy has been on my physically, but I'd like him to stay in long enough to be born well enough to go straight home. So hang on in there a little longer, little one.

Of course, getting this close to the birth is making me realise just how much still needs to be done and how very unprepared I still am for his arrival. Emotionally I'm ready, but in terms of being physically prepared there is still a bit to be done. Like I have to think about packing a hospital bag, washing all his clothes, putting the cot up, buying the mattress, getting the bedding sorted… just a few essentials like that.

I'm also starting to think more and more about the birth as it no longer feels miles off. I'm worried about the logistics of when to head to the hospital. We have a 45 minute drive (depending on traffic) between where we live and the hospital I am booked at to deliver. I'm lucky in that my parents live just around the corner from said hospital, so we plan on driving over before the labour progresses too far and hanging out there until it is time to actually go to the hospital itself. But I could be in labour for hours and I don't want to head over too early either. So this is something we have to sit down and properly discuss.

Then, of course, there is the concern about the labour itself. Personally I'm not overly worried too much about the pain, the physical exams, the whole being exposed to who knows how many medical professionals that often bother first-time mums. I just feel that having dealt with Endometriosis for so many years, I have a good idea of what my pain threshold is and how to deal with the lower levels of pain and at what point I need help. I've also had my fair share of internal examinations and having to rely on medical staff to help me get out of bed to go for my first pee after surgery etc. So although labour is a new experience, a lot of the details are things I can try and mentally prepare myself for prior to the event.

What does bother me, however, is the fact that I might get sick. A combination of Emetophobia (fear of vomiting) and having spent the majority of this pregnancy incredibly sick has made this a real issue for me. I know it is pretty common for women to throw up during labour and I am dreading it. I just don't like the thought of having to face that while dealing with contractions as feeling and/or being sick stresses me at the best of times (remember, this is a phobia, not just a dislike of being sick!) I'm hoping I might get lucky and not be ill, or be so focussed on dealing with the contractions and pushing the baby out that it won't be as big a deal for me as I imagine it could be. But it still bothers me when I think ahead to the birth. It is the one thing that truly terrifies me about labour. 

Still, I guess that as a first time mum I could be struggling more if I were fearful of the contractions and other aspects of labour and delivery that are a certainty rather than a possibility. And, as I keep trying to remind myself, even if I do throw up during labour, it will be the last time (or times) I will do so thanks to pregnancy and the end will be in sight rather than the horror I faced with the hyperemesis when I was sick all day, every day for months. 

Life at the Patch – 28 weeks

Before I begin today's post I would like to take a moment to thank all of you who took the time to read and leave your comments on my previous post. They were all very much appreciated and I have read over them several times this weekend and will surely return to them again in future. One of the true blessings of blogging is that of reading the responses of your readers and gaining an insight into the thoughts and feelings of others. So thank you all.

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It is hard to believe, but I am now entering my third trimester. Or at least I think I am. Depending on which source you look at, the third trimester seems to begin anywhere between 26 and 29 weeks, with 28 being the most common figure quoted. So I'm sticking with that!

That means I only have 12 weeks until my due date, and we truly are on the "final countdown" now. Twelve weeks feels like such a long time still: even thinking of the 3 weeks I have left at work before the summer holidays makes me sigh with exhaustion. But, each week really does take us closer to September and the date I sometimes felt I might never reach. 

I'm finding it more and more difficult to move around these days, as the bump grows increasingly larger and the pain in my hips, back and lower abdomen increases with the added pressure. I am also finding it harder and harder to get anything done as my brain feels like fuzz most days at the moment. I have things I want to do, ideas to turn into action, and even more things that I really ought to do over the coming weeks. And yet doing them seems like so much hard work. I honestly don't know how anyone survives pregnancy whilst still working full-time or raising older siblings come this point of the journey. 

I do have my bursts of activity, and things are slowly being sorted, but more often than not I find myself thinking and daydreaming rather than actually doing. This has, of course, left me with even more ideas I wish to bring into being, making the decision of where to start even harder!

Which is why impromtptu wanderings by the side of poppy fields discovered when driving down a previously unexplored country road are all the more exciting, because I don't have time to think "this is going to take a lot more energy than I feel I have right now" but rather find myself being swept away by the beauty of the place. Moments like this need to be treasured and I am glad we had the camera to hand as it meant we could grab a few shots, before taking shelter from the sudden downpour of rain in the nearby woods.

Times like this are made even more special because of the very fact that a newborn baby is going to make the sudden urge to "go for a walk" a thing of the past for quite some time to come. And although I generally find the suggestion to "enjoy things while you still can" very annoying when enjoying most things is made ten times more difficult during pregnancy, I do know that this is one activity that is well worth the effort. 

 

Pregnancy: Your Thoughts…

Today I am going to ask something that has the potential to be rather controversial, and very painful for some. And I'd like to apologise in advance if this upsets any of you because of your own personal experiences, but it is something that I have been thinking about a lot and that I feel is worth discussing even if it is difficult. 

So before I begin, I'll just leave this quick warning that if, for whatever reason, you find the discussion of pregnancy difficult right now, then you might want to skip this post

I'd also like to say that I really hope that as many people as possible can get involved in answering this question with their own personal take on it, no matter what angle they are coming from. The very reason I am writing this post is because I want to know how people truly feel about this, and to find out the range of thoughts, feelings and opinions there are regarding this. So please do leave a comment, if you feel you can, and perhaps even pass on the link to anyone you think might be interested in having their say too. As always, any comments left will be unmoderated (unless, of course, they are abusive to others or simply spam!) so it's pretty much a case of "whatever you feel, please do write it and know it will be read". I fully expect there to be differences of opinions, and all I ask is that you respect that this is the case and try to remember that there are many people out there for who this subject is extremely painful.

So, on with the question… it is in several parts, so please bear with me!

Would you consider pregnancy to be one of the best experiences of your life, no matter what difficulties you faced either getting pregnant or getting through the pregnancy itself?

OR

Given the opportunity, would you rather skip the "pregnancy experience" if it were possible to have a baby without 9 months of your body being pushed to (and beyond) its limits, and the many months before and after pregnancy that just add to the emotional and physical challenges?

Are you still with me? Confused? Let me explain a bit more about this question and where it came from.

If you've been following my blog for a while you will know that this time last year my husband and I were unsure whether my Endo would cause us fertility trouble. So you'd be forgiven for thinking that now I am pregnant I would consider pregnancy to be one of the best experiences of my life. After all, with so many couples facing infertility, the very fact we conceived the second month of trying should mean we are overjoyed by our luck. 

So let me first say that, yes, we are overjoyed, more than I can say. There was a time a few years ago when I thought my Endo would be so bad I wouldn't even feel able to try to conceive. So for us this pregnancy is a real blessing and has actually run very smoothly in terms of the health of the baby (i.e. we never had any bleeding scares, all our scans have shown normal growth etc). But, in terms of my health, pregnancy has been one of the hardest experiences of my life.

And that is saying something, because with Endometriosis I have struggled through years of pain, heavy bleeding, surgeries, hormonal ups and downs, and many various treatments. I am not new to nausea, pain and emotional turmoil, but pregnancy has taken me to new limits. Hyperemesis Gravidarum meant that for the first 3 months I was unable to even get out of bed without retching and putting almost any food in my mouth made me gag. I won't go over this again, other than to say that I lived in my own personal hell, where the simplest of functions such as even talking to someone could make me sick and so it felt like the world was continuing on its normal route through life and I was somehow apart from that. 

If you've never been that sick then you probably can't understand that during those first few months I actually resented being pregnant. I felt immesely guilty for such, because I knew how lucky we were to be expecting a baby, but I still resented being so ill. My sickness continued at a slightly less intense level but still enough to stop me gaining weight and doing everyday things long past the halfway point of pregnancy and even now that I am anti-sickness medication I still suffer from daily nausea and extreme exhaustion. Added to that is the pain of hypermobile joints and an unstable pelvis (causing PGP), meaning I find moving around very difficult, and the sudden appearance of period-like pains and stabbing pains, we think are caused by adhesions or scarring from the Endo being stretched and you'll begin to see why pregnancy is far from the best experience of my life!

So when a friend of mine commented recently that she considered pregnancy one of the best experiences of her life, I had to stop and think about how I really felt about it all. I have been saying for most of this pregnancy that I would never, ever do it again. And that has been hard because I would have loved to have a second child in a few years time and I feel robbed of that opportunity because there really is no way I could do this again. I know my limits, and although I possibly could go through it again, I actually don't want to. It's not a matter of whether it is physically possible for me, but rather that emotionally and mentally I am not willing to go through such dark times again. 

For most people that is impossible to understand. In fact I feel incredibly guilty for grieving the fact that I can't have an "easier pregnancy" when for some people pregnancy itself is impossible. And in that respect I also understand when people say that I will forget all about this once the baby is born and once my broodiness sets in again I will be willing to go through it again. But at the same time it irritates me that people assume that I don't know my own limits and think that I am just naively reacting to a difficult situation. There is no doubt that I am reacting to a difficult situation, but there are so many reasons why for us another pregnancy is not really an option we are willing to consider. 

Which leads me to the second part of my question: "Given the opportunity, would you rather skip the "pregnancy experience" if it were possible to have a baby without 9 months of your body being pushed to (and beyond) its limits, and the many months before and after pregnancy that just add to the emotional and physical challenges?

Tim was always certain he only wanted one child and I always felt that I wanted more. It was something we were going to face in the future, deciding when the time came. But since going through this pregnancy I actually fear falling pregnant again and having to face it all again with a young child in my care. And although I have started to accept that maybe we will be a one-child family, Tim has started to think maybe we shouldn't rule out expanding our family in the future. Which has led us to look at alternative routes.

Thankfully, we are both very open to the idea of adoption or fostering, if we find ourselves in a place where this is possible. And although we know that taking that route will be very different and may mean that our relationship with an adopted or fostered child will be different to that with our own child, especially if we end up with an older child who comes with challenging past experiences, we feel that we could love and cherish and nurture such a child as much as we will the one I am currently carrying.

But I know that for some people the absolute ideal is to have their own biological children, and adoption is not really something they would choose over pregnancy. And to be fair, had I had an easier pregnancy I would have liked to have tried for another child naturally. But if we do decide to look at adoption in the future, it will be a choice we have made rather than our only option as it is for some people. And in that respect I am much happier to say "yes" to the second part of my question than some people might be.

Yet I still find myself wondering about the relationship you build with a child and how and why for many people (including ourselves) trying to conceive is such an important part of our dreams for our own family. Despite being happy to consider adoption, I do feel sad that never again will we see our baby on an ultrasound and this is the only time I will ever experience a baby wriggling around inside of me, helping to build a bond before it is even born. 

I asked this same question on a pregnancy forum I am part of and several people said that an easy pregnancy doesn't necessarily mean a stronger bond, and a harder pregnancy can still be completely worth it in the end. And with the advances in fertility treatment over the past couple of decades, more and more people are being given that chance to try and achieve that ultimate goal of experiencing pregnancy themselves. And I completely get that, because although we had considered adoption as an option previously, I still wanted to try for a baby of our own. It is a very instinctual thing. 

But, still, I know that if we do decide to expand our family in the future, I would much rather choose the adoption route next time than face another pregnancy like this one. For many people this is completely incomprehensible, and the only thing I can think of that makes is an easier thing for us to consider is that we had previously discussed adoption as an option because we wanted to give a child in need a chance of a family life so it isn't something we have come to because it is our only option. 

Of course, this is all completely invalid for many people. I have read too many infertility blogs to know how expensive and difficult adoption can be for some. And I have read too many heart-breaking posts from those who have faced cycle after cycle of fertility treatment in the hope of having their own child, only to end up childless or with only one child when they wanted a bigger family and are totally wiped out financially because of having to take the route they have.

Which is why I ask these questions in the first place. I want to know how others feel about pregnancy and what level of sacrifice they are willing to go to in order to have the family they always dreamed of. And as I said at the very beginning of this post, I know it is a difficult question and may well bring out some controversy in terms of answering it, because it is an entirely individual and personal choice. But I would still like to know how you feel about this. 

And, again, I apologise if this is a deeply painful topic for you, as I know it is for many. I don't ask to hurt anyone, simply to know more about what we so often think is such an easy and natural thing, but is actually very complicated for so many of us.

Thank you for reading, and if you do feel you can comment, please do. 


Jealousy and Pregnancy?

Hello,

I wanted to say a big personal thanks to everyone who has continued to visit this blog regularly and who have left comments or sent messages over the past week regarding my most recent posts. It means a lot to know that being honest and open about things inspires people, rather than turning them away.

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There have been a lot of changes going on at the Patch and I have a lot of exciting ideas for the coming months, but right now I have a request for help…

As many of you know, I have been busy writing a weekly series for iVillageUK on Endometriosis and trying to conceive. Each week, for the past three months, a new article has appeared on the Pregnancy and Baby Channel, focussing on our journey towards beginning our TTC (trying to conceive) journey. We always knew that we wouldn’t actively start trying until after the wedding and tomorrow’s post will explain more about the heartache that has come from some of the setbacks we have faced.

However, next week’s article is going to be a hard one to write. It is going to focus on jealousy and I know this is something that many other bloggers have to deal with in terms of infertility. My own sense of jealousy, based on even the decision to start trying being far more complicated than it need be, is pale in comparison to that which others must feel and so I wondered if some of my readers might be kind enough to contact me with their own take on the matter.

I know this is a hard subject, and so I am asking one of two things: either a comment left on this post with a quotation you would be happy for me to use in next week’s article; or a private email sent to amanda.fisher@live.co.uk expressing how you feel so that they help me form a basis for the article without directly quoting.

I will, of course, send a copy of the finished article prior to sending to the editor to anyone who contributes.

Please feel free to send any friends you have who may be able to help in this direction, as I want this next article to be as informative as possible. I cannot write from personal experience about infertility, so my own thoughts on the matter would make the article too focussed on one perspective rather than a host of people’s experiences.

Thank you