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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.