Saturday, 21 November 2015

I've Been Hiding

In case you missed it, I shared my latest hangout on the Internet on Instagram a week or two ago (I have no idea how time works any more!!) I may come back here at some point, time permitting, but just now life is all about my baby boy and I thought it better to have a dedicated place just for him.

You can find the blog about Samson, should you wish to, here

We're also on Bloglovin, Facebook and Twitter. I'd add the links, but my phone is being a royal PITA and won't let me! They're right there on the blog though :)

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Friday, 9 October 2015

A Brief Update

156 days ago, life as I knew it changed forever.

(That's 22 weeks, or 5 months, if you prefer)

Motherhood is nothing like I imagined it. Sure, we knew we'd face difficulties due to his heart, but we hadn't bargained on having a preemie with yet more birth defects.

I imagined maternity leave would include many hospital appointments, trips to the doctor and health visitor, and play dates with friends who have babies and making new friends at baby groups. The hospitals and doctors feature for sure, but other than that we are basically stuck in the house.

I'm lonely. I adore my son, but being solely responsible for his complex needs for 12 hours a day is exhausting. Right now I'm so sad that I'm 100 miles away from my mum and my best friends. I'm sure most new mums feel overwhelmed at some point, but for most it gets better with time, not worse. My 5-month-old has to feed every 2.5 to 3 hours during the day because he can't tolerate higher volumes of milk that would allow him to go longer between feeds, and he has to be kept upright for an hour after a feed due to severe reflux. This means we are pretty much enslaved to his feed schedule, and the window of opportunity where we are "safe" in between feeds is as little as an hour - and he's usually sleeping by then. And, of course, he's developed a severe dislike of the downstairs crib so his daytime naps are on me.


There's no time to drink, to eat, to clean, to pee... The laundry pile is never ending; he creates so much with his reflux that there's never time to get our own clothes washed. I'm not a neat freak by any stretch of the imagination but the sight of this chaotic house is driving me crazy. There just isn't time to remedy it.

That said, I love being mummy to my handsome baby boy. Sure, I wish he was healthy and that things were a little easier, but he really is a joy (most of the time!) I can forgive absolutely anything for that smile.

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Letter to a Neglected Blog

Dear Blog,

Please accept my humblest apologies for the complete desertion of late. I know I have a certain responsibility to keep you company and drop in once in a while, say hi, that sort of thing... and apparently I've completely failed for 11 weeks. 11 weeks! I'm so sorry.

I'm not trying to make excuses, just to explain, so please bear with me. You see, I had a baby. The baby in itself wasn't a surprise, but the timing of his arrival most definitely was. He was 8 weeks early, long before I had things organised for him. Not only that, but he needed urgent lifesaving surgery - and that, coupled with his prematurity, meant we had an 8 week long stay in NICU and SCBU with him. And then, once we did get him home 3 weeks ago, we had to see to our thoroughly neglected house while taking care of our tiny baby and try to make adjustments in our house to cater for said baby. It's fair to say it's all been a bit manic!

I'd like to be able to say that we're in a place now where I could offer some assurance that I'll show up a bit more regularly; but alas, I cannot. Truth is, we're still very much figuring things out and basically winging it every day. We've still got a whole host of hospital appointments and visits from medical people to monitor the small boy, and there have been days when I haven't even managed to get dressed until 6pm, when there's arguably little point. He's having regular follow up appointments at one hospital an hour away for his respiratory/digestive surgery that he had at only 16 hours old, and also monthly appointments at a different hospital - also an hour away - to monitor his heart defect in advance of his open heart surgery. Poor little guy has got such a lot going on, but he's handling it and recovering from it all heroically.

So, dear blog, I'll try to be around more often. I really will. But should I fail at that, you can probably find me on Instagram because that's so much quicker and easier to keep up with. I know, it's the wimps way out. Sorry about that.

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Friday, 8 May 2015

Dear Baby - 32 Weeks

Dear Samson,

Well, you sure surprised (and scared!) us this week! Here I was, expecting to write to you about our latest appointments, purchases for you, plans for your room... and instead I'm in a hospital bed recovering from an emergency section and you're in the SCBU recovering from your first major operation.

You were born at 23:01 on Wednesday 6th May, a day that started out like any other and at no point did daddy or I think we were going to meet you that day. I noticed that you weren't your wriggly self during the day, so after work we went to the Pregnancy Assessment Unit for a trace to check on you. Your heart rate was fine, but they were really concerned about your lack of movement and eventually it was decided the safest course of action was to deliver you.

I was terrified. Daddy was terrified. Before we really had time to absorb what was happening, I was in an ambulance being blue lighted to another city, to a hospital with the facilities to care for you.

When you were born, I only caught a fleeting glimpse of you. Daddy said you had quite a bit of dark hair and he could hear you crying. He watched the whole procedure - he's a strange man, your daddy. Then you were taken to the Neonatal unit while I was stitched up and taken to the High Dependency Unit to recover. Daddy was taken in to see you when you were a couple of hours old, and he reported back to me that you were doing well.

The first time I saw you properly was when you were around 6 hours old, when I was being transferred from the HDU on to the ward. You looked so tiny in your incubator, but we were told they were pleased that you were breathing on your own and you hadn't required oxygen. They had identified a couple of potential issues, but would have a thorough check once the consultant arrived and things would go from there.

Later yesterday morning, it was discovered that your oesophagus wasn't fully developed and you needed an operation to join the two ends of it together. For this, you needed to be taken to a different hospital. We went back to the NICU to see you while they were preparing you for transfer, and we managed to take a couple of pictures of your gorgeous little face. I was told that I, too, would be transferred but I might have to wait up to 4 hours for an ambulance. As it happened, an ambulance quickly became available and I was on my way within 20 minutes.

Daddy drove over to the new (third!) hospital and managed to see you briefly before finding my new home on the ward. Then your surgeon came to see us to explain what would happen, and we had to sign the consent forms. And then all we could do was wait.

By 20:45 we'd still heard nothing, and I was beginning to worry that Daddy might be sent home as visiting for partners is only until 21:00 - I didn't want him to go home without knowing how you were, and I was worried about him driving when he'd only slept for a couple of hours. We decided to go ask if the midwife could give the SCBU a call, and we were told that you'd just got back and we could go see you in 20 minutes.

It was such a relief to see that you'd made it through your first operation and you were stable and doing well. The nurse taking care of you last night was really lovely, and she arranged for Daddy and I to be moved from the ward into a private room so that he could stay with me and we could get a better rest and be on hand for you.

And now it's Friday morning. We've had a good sleep (actually I think we both just passed out from sheer exhaustion) and we've had an update about how you've got on overnight. We'll be coming to see you very soon, little man.

Love you so, so much. Be strong, keep fighting.

Mummy xxxxx

Friday, 24 April 2015

Dear Baby - 30 Weeks

Dear Baby,

How is it possibly we're 3/4 of the way through this journey already?! Time is flying - you really will be here before we know it.

We're making progress - slowly - with preparations for your arrival. We've decided on a theme for the nursery, but due to the extent of work that needs doing in that room I doubt it will be finished before you arrive. That's OK though, since you'll be sleeping in our room for the first 6 months or so. There's no rush really, is there?

We had the Health Visitor come to meet us this week; she seems really lovely, and was very positive and reassuring about the cardiac team that will be looking after you. Somehow she managed to get our shortlist of names out of us - which we really haven't discussed with anyone up to now! - and she seemed to really like the name that's looking very likely to become yours. It turns out she looked after your cousin K when she was born, so she knows all of daddy's side of the family already.

Last weekend was an emotional one, for me in particular. Saturday was the anniversary of the passing of your grandad, and if that wasn't enough I also found out that Aunty Z had just lost her grandad. We've decided that April is just cursed, every year it seems that more and more sadness hits us all. We might just hibernate through April in future!

Next week, we've got a mate date with my American friend as she's started her maternity leave now. That is, unless she's done something drastic like gone into labour - entirely possible as she's now 39 weeks so it could be any day! I'm hoping we'll get to have one last catch up before her little girl arrives though. It's a scary (but lovely) thought that the next time I see her after that, she'll be a mummy to your future little friend, and I'll be on maternity leave myself eagerly awaiting your arrival!

Also next week, we've got another growth scan to look forward to. I can tell you're definitely getting really big now, so it will be nice to have an updated estimate of your weight. You should be over 3lbs by now!

Until next time, beautiful baby,

All my love, Mum xx

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Monday, 20 April 2015

Things I Don't Love About Being Pregnant

Last week, I wrote a list of things I love about being pregnant. I think we all know I'm all about balance, so it's only fair that I write about the less fantastic side too.
1. Sickness
I thought the constant nausea I suffered in the first trimester was bad, and then (naively) thought that, once I passed 13 weeks, I'd gotten off quite lightly. It was a huge shock to have hyperemesis gravidarum set in at 15 weeks, and I ended up signed off work for 8 weeks, got through 3 different types of meds, narrowly escaped being admitted to hospital, and lost a shed load of weight because I couldn't eat anything. Even now, at 30 weeks, I'm only just passing my pre-pregnancy weight.

2. Finding clothes
Seriously, it's as if no woman on the earth is ever actually pregnant - why don't stores stock their maternity range?! There are very, very few that do, and if they do it's very limited. Now more than ever I'd like to be able to try before I buy, and yet it seems that every single store in the whole wide world operates a policy of only providing maternity wear that is ordered online. Not cool, shops, not cool.

3. Not sleeping
I know my body is in training for when the baby arrives, and I know it's only going to get a whole lot worse and it'll be months years before I get a decent night's sleep again, but... Man, I'm tired. Insomnia, discomfort, and the simple act of rolling over becoming like an Olympic event all contribute to the opposite of a restful night.

4. The desperate need to pee
Having a tiny person playing trampoline on your bladder is not all that much fun, believe it or not. And it's utterly ridiculous how you can answer the call of nature, only to find it calling again as little as 10 minutes later. Oh, and it doesn't accelerate at a normal level of "hmm, I could go... I will have to go to soon... Give it another few minutes... OK, I may as well go now." Oh no. We're talking 0-100 in seconds - one moment you're fine, the next "I need to go RIGHT NOW!!!!"

5. Difficulty manoeuvring around the bump
Socks. Boots. Pedicures. These are things I struggle to take care of nowadays. Boy sometimes jokes about dropping things in front of me so he can laugh as I struggle to pick them up - this is usually met with The Look. Also, someone appears to have moved my sink without my consent - when I wash up, I can no longer reach anything that's at the back.

6. Bump touchers
I've heard and read about this phenomenon many times over the last few years, but Oh. My. Goodness. I don't know you, we've never met, GET YOUR HANDS OFF MY BUMP!!!

7. Aches and pains
There are a whole lot of these that accompany a pregnancy. At the moment I'm struggling with my overstretched abdominal muscles - they burn and really limit what I can actually do. Vacuuming is not so much an activity I can undertake, unless I want to end up sobbing in pain. I know this from trying it. Also, leg cramps - especially at night - can be really painful.

8. Memory loss
Typical conversations between Boy and I will often involve me saying things like "Where did we put the doodah that we got from thingymabob? Is it with the whatsit?" I really can't remember names of things, or places, or people... Or sometimes, even what I'm talking about while I'm mid-sentence. It has also become apparent in the last couple of days that I am completely forgetting events and conversations that have taken place - at least 3 times this weekend Boy has informed me that we've already had a conversation about the thing we were currently conversing about, but I have absolutely zero memory of any of these things. I had to ask if I was actually conscious at the time.

It's not so bad though, these are (mostly) temporary and absolutely worth putting up with for a little while. I'm sure they'll be even more worthwhile once our precious little bundle arrives!

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Friday, 17 April 2015

Things I Love About Being Pregnant

1. I'm pregnant!
Just the simple fact of being pregnant, after over 3 and a half years of trying, and a failed IVF cycle, is something I am unbelievably grateful for. I am so, so happy that I finally get to say the words "I am pregnant" - not that I need to say it these days, the ginormobelly says it all!

2. Feeling a life growing inside me.
In the early stages, it was quite hard to believe there really was anything going on in there - I had no evidence that I could see or feel (except sickness, headaches, etc - but they could just as easily have been illness). Once I started feeling the baby's movements at 20 weeks, it all started to feel so much more real. It's impossible to describe what it's like feeling a tiny person moving around inside you; it's surreal and magical and wonderful, and feels like a special secret between me and Baby T because nobody else will ever know them the way I do.

3. My pregnant figure.
Like a lot of women, before pregnancy I had my own body image issues. I'd put on weight, I felt like I couldn't wear certain clothes, all the usual kind of things. But pregnant, I love the way I look. I love my bump. I don't feel fat or wobbly, I feel happy and confident.

4. Watching my belly move.
A few weeks after I started feeling the movements, I was able to see them. The first time, I was sitting in a team briefing at work - and believe me, I soon switched off from whatever the content of the brief was and was focused solely on watching the twitching of my belly! When baby is having a good wriggle, I can spend ages watching the movements.

5. Always having something to talk to others about.
Pregnancy seems to be a great conversation starter! At work, people who I've never really spoken to before will engage in a conversation about children and pregnancy and their own experiences. Even random strangers on the street come up to me for a chat!

6. The kindness and generosity of others.
We've been absolutely bowled over by how generous people have been towards us and Baby T. My best friend has been collecting together so much to give to us - we're talking pretty much all the big, expensive stuff; cotbed, travel cot, pram, car seat, sterilisers (plural!), bottles, clothes, highchair, blankets, toys... the list goes on. We've also had a few people asking if they can knit or crochet blankets for us - we're hardly going to decline! We're so touched by the kindness people have shown us.

7. Looking at baby things.
Who doesn't love looking at newborn baby clothes and cooing over how small they are?! Seriously, there are some adorably cute things out there. We've had a ball buying a few little outfits for Baby T, and can't wait to see the little munchkin wearing them.

8. Thinking about the future.
Although we've got lots of unknowns ahead due to baby's congenital heart defect, it's exciting to be able to think about how our lives are going to change with the arrival of this little person and the possibilities that the future holds. More than anything, I can't wait to see Boy embracing his new role as Dad.

9. Writing letters to baby.
Although I talk to baby all the time, I really love writing letters because I can share those when the baby is older - I'll never be able to replay all the chats I've had! They're a great way to make the memories last, and make me feel so much closer to the little person inside me.

10. Knowing that Boy and I have created a life together.
OK, so we may have had the help of a few doctors, nurses, an embryologist... But the fact is, this person living within me is half me, half Boy, and is a product of our love - and that thought makes my heart swell within my chest. I am so excited to see what traits of each of us our child inherits, and who they look like. I am so hoping they have daddy's temperament - he was every mother's dream, I was a nightmare!

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Wednesday, 15 April 2015

The Middle Name Debate

To give or not to give, that is the question?

I can’t help wondering if this is even an issue for most people. I would guess that the vast majority of people have a middle name, consider middle names “the norm”, and would therefore pretty much automatically bestow one upon their offspring.

Neither Boy nor I have a middle name. I know, weird right? I promise you, I’m not lying. (At school when I’d tell people I didn’t have a middle name, I was always accused of hiding something!) Not having one doesn’t bother me, nor does it bother Boy, and yet I’m still undecided about whether we should give one to Baby T. Boy isn’t particularly fussed either way – he’d happily not, but if I wanted to enough I don’t think he’d object.

The thing is, we’re working with a ridiculously common surname. Until I got married, I was one of only a handful of people across the world with my first name/surname combo, and I was unlikely to ever run into someone with the same name as me. Now, with my married name, I am one of lots of people with the same name. There’s someone who works at our local railway station with the same name as Boy – that was a weird day for him when they met! Our nephew (same surname) has a very popular first name, and I actually know someone who has a son with the exact same name.

I posted a little while ago about how I wouldn’t choose a first name that was overly popular, but I’m still not convinced that’s enough to differentiate our child and reduce the risk of being one of thousands. Just the other week, my best friend was telling me about her recent stay in hospital, and another lady with the same name was on the same ward as her – and I wouldn’t say she’s got a hugely common first name or surname! They had differing middle names, which was the only way that the medical staff could tell them apart (and still their notes kept getting mixed up!)

So, say we did go down the middle name route… The next thing is, how would we choose? I’d want something meaningful, but the problem there is that there are no family names that are names we’d go for. Or rather, there are, but other family members and friends who have produced offspring before us have already gotten in first. It’s a tricky one!

What are your thoughts on middle names? Do you have one? Have/would you give them to your children?

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Friday, 10 April 2015

Dear Baby - 28 Weeks

Dear Baby,

Can you believe we're into the third trimester already?! I know I can't. Time is running away so fast, you'll be here before we know it. Please don't hurry though, stay there and cook a little longer!

You're the size of an aubergine now, and you're still growing perfectly. At our growth scan last week you were an estimated 2lb 5oz. You made us laugh when you decided to put your foot up on the 'roof'!

We've had a busy couple of weeks with lots of exciting developments where you're concerned. Over Easter we had my best friend and her littlest staying with us, as we'd finally got around to transferring all the baby stuff she's been saving for us from her house to ours. We now have a cotbed, pram, car seat, two sterilisers, lots of bottles, a baby bath, highchair, three big bags of clothes, two bags of toys, and probably a whole host of other things that I can't remember right now. Little S was very funny - he's 17 months now and a real little character. One evening he climbed up on to the sofa and wanted to sit on me, only he seemed to think that my bump was a cushion! You didn't seem to mind though.

Over the last couple of weeks, I've noticed you having hiccups quite often. I've got to say, it's a weird sensation! The first time it happened, I rang Daddy to tell him and he thought I was joking. I had to send him a link to a website to prove that baby hiccups in the uterus do really happen!

We've got a quiet couple of weeks ahead; the only appointment we've got with a health care professional is when the Health Visitor comes to meet us at home in just over a week's time. Soon after that, though, I'll have appointments coming out of my ears!

Oh, before I forget, I should probably mention Daddy's overwhelming joy last weekend when Sunderland won the derby game against Newcastle - that's the 5th victory in a row in the derby ties for Sunderland. You should probably know that you are going to be raised to be a SAFC fan, we've already bought you a few bits and pieces so it will be instilled in you from birth. Daddy would be the first to apologise when things aren't going particularly well, but that's just the way it is, little one. Apparently it's the dad's right to pass on their team to their child, so I don't get a look in.

Mummy xx

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Friday, 27 March 2015

Dear Baby - 26 Weeks

Dear Baby,

It's been a crazy 4 weeks since my last letter to you. So much has happened that I don't know where to start. We've had a couple more scans and you're growing amazingly well - and, even better, at the cardiology scan this week no further complications were detected which is just the best news we could have hoped for!

Your movements are getting more and more pronounced, and a couple of weeks ago they even became visible. The first time I saw my whole tummy move because of you, I was sitting in a team brief at work - it was dull, but you certainly distracted me and gave me something far more interesting to focus on! I can spend ages gazing at my tummy now, watching your kicks and rolls.

Daddy and I have been making some progress at home, preparing for your arrival. We've been spending most of our weekends trying to declutter, and rearrange the storage of, well, everything really to make better use of space and make our home more child friendly. It's turning out to be a bigger job than we expected, but we'll get there!

In exciting news, we've pretty much chosen what your name is going to be! We just need to decide whether or not to give you any middle names, we can't quite make up our minds on that yet.

Two weeks ago, Daddy and I had our 4th wedding anniversary. We'd had some devastating news the day before, so neither of us felt overly celebratory and we kept things very low key and just went out for a meal in the evening. It's strange - but good strange - to think that by the time our next wedding anniversary comes around, you'll be here and you'll be around 8 months old. I wonder how we'll celebrate our anniversaries in future?

More exciting news is that I've sorted my maternity leave - and I have only 8 weeks left in work! How fast is time passing, little one?! While it has been nice being well enough to return to work, to see and speak to other adults, and to have something to do other than watch daytime TV and feel ill, I can't deny that I am looking forward to taking a year out and being your mummy. Getting to work is starting to feel like a chore - that 20 minute walk to and from the railway station is more tiring and bump-achy every single day, and it will be nice not having to do that any more. Daddy also submitted his forms today for paternity leave, so the formalities are pretty much done!

Well Baby, it's been another long and tiring week and Mummy is shattered. Time for some sleep!

Goodnight, little one


Mummy xx

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Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Cancer Sucks

I know, I vanished again. The truth is, we've had a rotten few weeks and I've been an emotional mess. I'd like to blame it on the hormones, but that wouldn't be honest.

Three weeks ago, we found out that someone very dear to us - particularly to Boy - had made the difficult decision to stop his cancer treatment. The cancer had spread so rapidly in the month prior that there wasn't much more could be done.

A couple of days after that, this lovely man was given just 2 weeks to live. Sadly, he passed away less than 2 days later. He was peaceful, at home with his family, but that doesn't make the news any less sad or his loss any less painful.

In only 5 months from diagnosis, cancer took a happy, healthy, newly retired 61 year old and made him fade away and lose his battle. We're so glad that we managed to see him one final time just 36 hours before he passed, and we will forever treasure the special memories we hold of him. He may not have been a blood relative, but he was very much family and we will always think of him in those terms.

RIP Mr Jones, we miss you terribly x

Friday, 27 February 2015

Dear Baby - 22 Weeks

Dear Baby,

We've had quite a lot going on this last two weeks, haven't we? We finally got a diagnosis of your heart condition, which lifted a huge weight from the shoulders of Daddy and me. We're so relieved to know what the problem is and how you will be treated for it, and it's given us the confidence to finally start making progress with preparations for your arrival.

Aunty Z (who isn't your real aunty, she's my best friend and although we may not be related by blood she is very much like a sister to me) is being an absolute angel - since we told her we were having you, she's been collecting so much baby stuff for us. We hardly have to buy anything for you so she's saving us hundreds and hundreds of pounds. A lot of it is barely used as well, how great is that? We've made a loose plan to get together over Easter and transfer everything from her house to ours. It will be nice for her to finally see where we have made our home, she's spent 10 years living too far away to travel up but now there's only a 2 hour drive between us, which isn't quite as daunting for her with three children in tow. Those three children are going to adore you, they're so excited to meet you!

You are definitely growing nice and big and strong in there. I suddenly found myself with a noticeable bump last weekend - where did that come from?! It is lovely to finally look pregnant. Your kicks are getting stronger too, although not quite strong enough just yet for Daddy to feel. Do you remember the little chat we had last time about your choice of times for a kickabout? You've either forgotten, or you're a defiant little monkey - 5am is not the time to practice kung fu, and after a long day at the hospital with a ton of information to digest and absorb Mummy wants to go to sleep - you, however, seem to think that's a good day to disco dance until 12.30am. I think we need another talk, little one. I'll be honest though, I think you've inherited my rebellious streak and you're probably going to take no notice of anything I say.

By the way, what's with this favouritism you're already displaying? At first I thought it was just a coincidence that you were giving me a good kicking whenever I tell Daddy off for anything, but it does seem to happen every.single.time - much to his amusement! I hold all the cards my little munchkin; I have the power to decide whether you spend your early days in the Outside World having a jolly lovely time, or being exposed to a constant stream of 90s/00s boybands and being mentally traumatised for life. Just something to mull over in the next four months... I should be your favourite - I'm the one giving you a nice cosy home and I'll be the one keeping you fed, clean and dry. A little gratitude and loyalty wouldn't hurt. I'm fighting a lost battle here aren't I? Sigh.

All my love,

Mummy x

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Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Congenital Heart Defects - The Diagnosis

It was an agonising two weeks, knowing something was wrong with Baby T's heart but not knowing what. The wait for a diagnosis and prognosis was right up there among the most difficult times of my life.

Last Thursday, we spent the afternoon attending the Fetal Medicine Unit (FMU) at a hospital an hour away from home. Boy was nervous about driving there - it's a big city and he doesn't like driving around new, unfamiliar places. We made it unscathed though, and even had time to call in at one of the branches of Costa Coffee in the hospital before our appointment - so I finally got my first Costa of 2015!

First of all, a midwife took us into a consultation room to explain what would happen, and then we went into the scanning room with three specialists, who were all looking at different aspects of the anatomy. Baby T, as usual, was wriggling and fidgeting away and made things a little more tricky, but they did manage to see what they needed to in order to make a diagnosis. We then went back into the consultation room to discuss the results.

Baby T has been diagnosed with Tetralogy of Fallot, which is perhaps best explained in this extract from a leaflet produced by the British Heart Foundation.

So what does this mean for baby, and for us? Well, there is a risk of chromosomal abnormalities in conjunction with this, and we have been offered an amniocentesis to check whether this is the case. From now until delivery, I will have regular appointments with the fetal cardiologist to monitor how things are progressing. Baby T will need open heart surgery very early on in their little life, and we intend to arrange a tour of the paediatric cardiac unit in the next few weeks so that we've got more of an idea of what will happen when the time comes. The success rate of the surgery required is very high, so we feel optimistic that Baby T has a bright future ahead - and we will do absolutely anything we can to help this become a reality.

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Friday, 13 February 2015

Dear Baby - 20 Weeks

Dear Baby,

What a long week it's been. Waiting to have our worst fears confirmed is a truly awful feeling, and I'm sad to say they were confirmed. We saw the consultant yesterday, and she believes there is a definite defect with your heart. We've now been referred to a fetal cardiologist at a hospital an hour away for more extensive investigations, but unfortunately we've got to wait another week to see them.

The good news is that while you're in utero, you have absolutely no idea that anything is wrong. It's comforting to know that in the meantime, your body will continue to grow strong - hopefully really strong, because the chances are that you will need life saving surgery once you are born. With what's been observed so far, there is pretty much no hope of a scenario that doesn't involve you requiring surgery. And I know you're growing strong, you've been letting me know over the last few days by beginning to assault me from the inside; you know I love you with all my heart no matter what, but do you really have to give me such a thorough beating when I'm trying to go to sleep? I think we need to work on getting our body clocks in sync with each other.

I'd also like to apologise for your father and the little challenge he's set himself of trying out a different name on you every day. Don't worry, there's no chance he'll be getting the final say on your name - and none of the ones he's been calling you are going to stick either. You will not be named Hulk, Captain America, Hellboy, Black Panther, or anything of the sort. As I've already told you numerous times, Daddy is just a bit delusional but it keeps him happy. Besides, I don't think you'd be able to carry off any of those names if you came out a girl.

We're still feeling a little too anxious about the situation and the unknowns we face to begin to make preparations for your arrival. It's not that we don't want to prepare to bring you home - far from it - but we want to have all the facts before we start making decisions about your nursery and things we need to get for you. We did buy you a little babygro set last weekend though, it's got one of my favourite characters on and I just couldn't resist it. I wanted you to have something.

Keep on doing what you're doing in there my sweetheart (maybe with a little less of the middle-of-the-night violence?!)

Love always,

Mum xxx

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Monday, 9 February 2015

Gender Predictions for Baby T

In an effort to pass the time and lighten things up after last week's news, I thought I'd indulge in a few different gender prediction tests. Neither Boy or I have had any strong feelings as to the gender, so I thought it would be fun to try these with a completely open mind and see what happens.

It got a bit confusing with the Chinese and Mayan tests, as they work based on conception - this baby was technically conceived back in April in a lab, and was then transferred back into me in October. To get around this, I did these tests twice using each date.

Looking at my family, it could easily go either way. My half-brother and half-sister each have two girls, and there are no boys. My cousins on my mum's side have four boys and only one girl between them. My cousins on my dad's side, and Boy's cousins, have a fairly even mix of boys and girls. So it's really hard to say!

My not so hidden geek is keeping a spreadsheet of guesses made my friends and family, and that is also split evenly at the moment. Fancying making a guess of your own? Let me know your thoughts below!

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Friday, 6 February 2015

Dear Baby - 19 weeks

Dear Baby,

It's the middle of the night, and I can't sleep. It hasn't been the greatest of days. My intention was to write to you every other week, but there is so much to say now that I can't wait until next week.

Yesterday, we had the anomaly scan. It's a day I've waited for with baited breath; I've been too scared and worried about the possibility of something being wrong to dare to believe that you will actually become our world in the not too distant future. I was clinging on to the hope that everything would be OK and we could heave a sigh of relief and get Project Baby started.

So was it mother's instinct? I don't know. I do know that the current unknown situation we're facing with you is potentially terrifying. My darling baby, there's something wrong with your heart. We don't know any specifics yet, we have to go back to the hospital next week and see the consultant for her specialist opinion.

I'm so scared for you. Please, please be alright. Know that we love you so much and we'll fight with everything we've got for you. Right now you're all that matters to both of us, we've waited so long for you and we are desperate to take you home and watch you grow.

All my love,

Mum xx

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Tuesday, 3 February 2015

The Name Game

Do you know what's really frightening about the prospect of bringing a tiny human into the world? Having to choose a name for them, and knowing that they will then be pretty much stuck with it their whole life. OK, so it is possible for people to change their name and all of that, but the name you choose will go on their birth certificate and that's forever, right?

What's strange is that, having taken so long to get to the point of having created a tiny human, Baby T will absolutely, certainly have a name that wasn't high up - or perhaps even didn't even feature - on our shortlist when we first started trying. The names that were top of our lists - that, if we had a three year old child now, they would definitely be called - don't even feature on our lists now. Our tastes have changed somewhat in the last four years - or, to be more accurate, the names we loved back then were also loved by so many others; a hugely popular name isn't all that appealing to me. Especially given that the surname we're working with is one of the most common surnames in the UK, and is definitely one of the most common surnames in our village since Boy is related to half the village in one way or another!

I've got to admit that Boy and I do have somewhat differing tastes in names and look to different places for inspiration. And I have no problem telling you that some of his choices are being vetoed quicker than he can put them forward - some of his boy suggestions have included Odin, Thor, Loki, Kal-El, Bruce... Do you see a pattern? If Baby T does turn out to be a boy, I'm not sure we're quite funky or wacky enough to be able to carry off a Kryptonian or Asgardian name for our son. I am grateful to have a friend who has the same problem with her husband too, it's nice not to be alone in this!

When we do get to the stage of discussing names seriously and settling on a shorter shortlist, we've decided not to share our choices. I know of too many people who have had to put up with negativity from others about their name choices, and some even changed their minds after hearing extreme opinions from their loved ones. In my opinion, once Baby T is here and is introduced with their name, people will have to accept it. If they don't approve, tough. Baby T is our baby and we will name him or her with a name we love.

What are your thoughts on naming a baby, or even a pet? Would you share your ideas beforehand?

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Monday, 2 February 2015

The Story of Us: The First Date

Last time, I covered how Boy and I met and became friends. It's obvious that we didn't just remain friends, given that we're now married! In the early part of 2007, after being purely friends for a few months, we came to realise that perhaps there was more between us than platonic friendship. Perhaps our colleagues, who had been gossiping about us for months, had seen something we hadn't. We both found ourselves single, unattached, and ready to explore whether there was something special waiting to develop between us.

Our first date was towards the end of March. We spent an entire Saturday together, which included two meals, some window shopping, and a movie at the cinema. Not your typical first date movie probably, the choice was quite limited so we saw 300 - what better way to kick start a new relationship than with a nice dose of violence, blood and gore?!

The strangest thing about the transition from friends to coupledom was that it didn't feel strange. It felt right. When I was with him, I felt safe, secure, and that I was exactly where I was supposed to be. It was the first time I'd gotten involved with someone I'd spent time getting to know beforehand, and I truly believe that played a huge part in our success as a couple. We already knew that we had shared values and beliefs, and we knew each other's qualities and faults - to some extent anyway. We'd been able to get to know each other without the pressure of having to impress, or the worry of "if I say that, will he go off me?". We'd never filtered ourselves, so we knew the "real" person.

I'll never forget something one of my friends said shortly after we'd gone on our first date. She told me she was glad that we had taken that step, and that she knew something really special was brewing between us because she'd never seen my eyes sparkle they was they did when I spoke about him. Apparently the spark between us was obvious to everyone!

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Saturday, 31 January 2015

This Week's Victories #4

It started out so well...!

-I had a couple of days of feeling almost normal, almost all day. It was amazing! Pity it was just a tease though and didn't last, but I enjoyed it while it did!
- I counted and bagged some money in our change jar - so far there's £76 winging it's way into our bank account. Whoop!
- It snowed (a lot) and I didn't have to go outside in it. Always a victory to me!
- I finally managed to write a post about Las Vegas!
- I made a start on our Las Vegas/NYC photo book. We always create a photo book of our trips, and although it takes aaaaages to do I always love the end result.
- My post What Not to Say to Someone Suffering Hyperemesis Gravidarum was a featured post over on You Baby Me Mummy's The List (which I will add in the link to!)

Unfortunately we had a huge un-victory when our hob decided to start tripping the electric every time we switch it on, so until an electrician comes and works some magic on it our cooking options are limited.

What were your victories this week?

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Friday, 30 January 2015

Dear Baby - 18 weeks

Dear Baby,

Can you believe we're almost half way? How crazy is that? The weeks seem to be flying by - possibly because I'm still sleeping so much and spending my days mostly in front of the TV, mostly watching Friends.

Earlier this week, I had a couple of days of feeling almost normal again, which I was so grateful for as I got to eat real food - but of course, the flip side of that was increased worry that something might have gone wrong. It's a non-stop panic-fest, this journey to motherhood. Thankfully it's not long now until we get to make sure you're doing OK in there. The sickness has kicked in full force again now though, so I'm crossing my fingers that that's a good sign. The third lot of medication I was given does seem to work better than the first two, so that's been a relief.

The countdown is on until the anomaly scan now - next week, eek! - and we can't wait to see you again. I've been putting everything off until after that, so hopefully very soon we'll start making real preparations for you.


Mum xxx

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Thursday, 29 January 2015

Christmas Day in Las Vegas

I can't believe it's already over a month since Christmas - where does the time go? You'd think that by now I would have churned out a whole host of posts about our 2-week festive trip, but it's quite a daunting thing to do - there's so much to say that I really don't know where to start!

Christmas in Las Vegas: Living for the Victories

So, I'll start with the fact that we spent Christmas day in Las Vegas, how does that sound? Was it a bit weird? Sure. We're not always guaranteed a white Christmas at home, but we are pretty much always destined to be cold. Las Vegas wasn't hot, but it was mild and very, very sunny. Christmas day was also exceptionally windy, with gusts up to 55 MPH.

We began our Christmas day with breakfast at The Sugar Factory the Paris Hotel. I had a very traditional festive breakfast - sausage and egg pizza. I don't know who thought up putting sausage and scrambled egg on a pizza base, but I like that person A Lot!

After breakfast, we went across to the Bellagio to have a look around the winter wonderland in the Conservatory. I must admit, it was much smaller than I expected, but still very pretty. I loved the Coca Cola bears made from flowers, and the tree was beautiful.

Christmas in Las Vegas: Bellagio
Christmas in Las Vegas: Bellagio
Christmas in Las Vegas: Bellagio

From there, we continued heading south, calling in at Aria, City Center and Monte Carlo. Then we decided to go back to our accommodation and Skype our families to wish them a merry Christmas and have a catch up on how they'd been celebrating.

The plan for later was to go out for a proper Christmas dinner - I'd spent hours hunting around online for menus before we went, and our intention was to have a really lovely celebration meal. However, my pregnant self had other ideas - my nausea ramped up in the afternoon, and I found myself feeling unbearably tired. So, instead of a slap-up Christmas dinner, we went to CVS and bought some frozen burgers. Party on, huh?! Even better, I fell asleep ridiculously early and never even ate mine!

It was a bizarre Christmas Day, enjoyable in its own way, even though it didn't go at all to plan. It was nice to have a relatively low-key day, with just the two of us... But it was odd to have no turkey, Brussels sprouts or gifts to exchange!

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Monday, 26 January 2015

The Story of Us: A Blossoming Friendship

Somehow, my blog has turned into a pregnancy-fest. And before that, it was an infertility-fest. I'm pretty sure many of you are bored of it, and there is so much more to my life than procreation. There is so much more to Boy and I as a couple than our journey towards becoming parents. So, let's rewind back to the beginning, and please allow me to share with you The Story of Us...

A blossoming friendship

The story of us really begins before we even met. In 2006, I was enjoying my first summer as a single girl for six years - I'd been in a couple of long term relationships, and the most recent one had ended that spring. I was enjoying my freedom, and the ability to go wherever I wanted, whenever I wanted, without having to consider anyone else's feelings. It was a summer of pure fun, made up of nights out, concerts, spontaneous road trips... It was, quite simply, the best summer ever.

Towards the end of that summer, I found out my job was at risk. The children's day nursery I was working at was being threatened with closure and I was facing redundancy. I mentioned this to a friend I've known since high school, and he told me that the company he worked for had some vacancies coming up so if I sent him my CV he would pass it on. I did, and a few weeks later, after attending an interview and assessment day, I was offered a job!

A few days into my new job, I met the person who would be training me up so that I could take over his work to free him up to move into a different role. That person was Boy! We hit it off straight away - purely platonic I hasten to add - and became good friends very quickly.

At that point, I was kind of seeing someone - someone I actually really liked, and Boy was in a relationship. So we got to know each other purely as friends, and to be honest I think that is why things have worked between us. There was no pressure to impress, we could just get to know each other for who we really were and not have to be on our best behaviour or act a certain way.

We began getting into conversation over email at work, which started innocently when he was working out of a different city and dropped me a quick note to say he'd left some paperwork for me on my desk. I did the polite thing and replied, and somehow from there we ended up in a long discussion about Girls Aloud and Harry Potter and goodness knows what else... And from that day onwards, we chatted pretty much daily by email.

Texting began completely innocently too. He'd given me his number because I was travelling north to meet him in Newcastle and visit some colleagues that I would be liaising with frequently, and it's always nice to put a face to a name. As it happened, we had no issues on the day with trains so I hadn't needed to contact him... but a couple of weeks later I was on a night out and I knew he'd gone to a fancy dress party, and in my drunken wisdom I thought it would be a great idea to text him and ask how being a Jedi knight was going for him. (I used to be dangerous with a mobile phone when drunk, I'd text anybody and it usually comprised of complete gibberish!) He replied the next morning, and was very sweet about asking who it was - at which point I apologised profusely, but he didn't seem to mind and that paved the way for weekend and evening conversations too.

Rumours began circulating in the office because we'd often go out into town to buy lunch together, and we just laughed it off and thought the idea of us getting together was ridiculous when we lived 2 hours apart. I really hadn't looked at him in that way either; we were both involved so what was the point? It was never going to happen, and we were just really good friends. I quickly realised that he certainly had a knack of always knowing the exact right thing to say to put a smile on my face. He was fast becoming one of my very best friends.

Saturday, 24 January 2015

This Week's Victories #3

It's been another week of sofa/bed confinement for me, but in some ways it has been a better week for sure.

- Boy worked from home 4 days this week, so I wasn't quite so much with the lonely.
- We successfully took care of the in-laws dog from Sunday afternoon to yesterday evening. There were moments that I thought she might bring about my downfall (mostly on Monday when it was just me and her) but thankfully that didn't happen.
- I saw a different GP this week, who signed me off work for 2 weeks instead of just one and gave me yet another type of medication.
- I've eaten almost a full meal! And I also ate my first packet of crisps this year!
- I've regained some of the enormous amount of weight I lost.
- I even had a day of feeling almost normal (a little queasy still but actually pretty functional!) and even managed to venture into a magical land I believe is known as The Outside today. I left the village for the first time in 18 days, and I went into some places where they give you stuff in exchange for money. Shops, I think they were called!

What were your victories this week?

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Friday, 23 January 2015

What Not To Say To Someone Suffering Hyperemesis Gravidarum

Over the last few weeks, I've come to realise how little understanding there is in the world when it comes to hyperemesis gravidarum (HG). Clearly I've been frequenting pregnancy and parenting forums for far too long; I'd not only heard of it, but I did have a vague idea that it was pretty darn serious and debilitating. Of course I didn't have any comprehension of how debilitating, but I'm well versed in that now.

Although family, friends, and even the occasional stranger don't understand the condition and the reality of living with it (I use the term 'living' loosely), everyone has a little nugget of advice to offer. The thing is - and I say this with love - this advice is usually complete baloney and actually borders on insulting. So please, don't. Just resist. We know you mean well, but if you find any of these on the tip of your tongue, close your mouth and swallow them back down:

1. "Have you tried ginger?"
(Warning: heavy sarcasm ahead. Proceed with caution)
Ohhhhh! So I've had doctors, midwives, you know - medically trained professionals - trying various different types of treatment... if only I'd realised it was as simple as having a little bit of ginger!
Seriously though, ginger is hardly a secret and any woman suffering the first hint of sickness can easily find that suggestion on Google. The thing is, it's only useful in a particular form and for mild sickness, which really isn't going to help in these circumstances.

2. "How's your morning sickness?"
You know, if I had the energy, I'd be all up in your face right now and clawing your eyes out. This is not morning sickness. Seriously, Google it. Go on. Check out the comparison of morning sickness and HG. And then never, ever, utter those two words in my presence again.
Referring to this constant suffering as simple old 'morning sickness' makes me feel as though you're trivialising it. I'm sorry, it's not the case that I wake up, feel a bit queasy, hurl, and then get on with my day. Not even close. I've barely moved from my bed or sofa in weeks (except to pray to the porcelain god, of course). Getting dressed feels about as physically draining as climbing Everest. So no, its not 'morning sickness'. 

3. "You just need some fresh air."
Ahhhhh, another really simple solution none of the medical professionals thought of! Tell you what, we'll go for a walk, you and I. You just wait downstairs for me while I get showered and dressed. Of course, it will take a while; I'll probably throw up on myself a couple of times while showering, so I'll have to start over at least twice. Then, obviously, that last tiny little bit of energy I had stored was used up while taking the aforementioned shower(s) so I'm going to need to lie down for a few minutes before I attempt to insert myself into clothes. Not to mention that I need to make the world stop spinning, just for a minute. Actually, I'll tell you what, why don't we forget the walk and you can just open a window for me on your way out? That's all the fresh air I need. Thanks.

4. "Should you be taking those tablets if you're pregnant?"
Look, no woman of sound mind wants to take medication unnecessarily. Especially when she's carrying a precious baby. If I really had the option to not take them, don't you think I'd go with that?
As it stands, without medication I can't eat or drink anything. Anything. My body has been dehydrated and malnourished. This is very dangerous for my unborn child, and actually puts both of our lives at risk. I'm not being a drama queen, that's just a fact. So if my taking this medication - which has been studied and shown to have no detrimental effects when used during pregnancy, I and my doctor have both read up on it - means that I can take in some fluids and a small amount of nutrients, then I'm going to do it. It's far better than not, in my opinion. The benefits outweigh the non-existant risks.

5. "Sickness is a sign of a healthy baby."
Is that supposed to reassure me? How healthy do you think the baby is when the mother is dehydrated and malnourished? Please, do add to my guilt.

6. "I wish I had it, I've put on so much weight in pregnancy."
Seriously? Seriously?!?! Read all of the points above, and tell me again you wish you couldn't eat or drink, you wish to put not only your life but your unborn baby's life at risk, all for the sake of saving yourself the trouble of gaining a few extra pounds. Believe me, I'd give anything to be in your shoes right now. I'd love to eat just one full meal!

There are a few more, but these are the ones that have particularly irritated me. If you do want to show caring to a friend who is suffering, I beg you please don't try to offer advice. The best thing you can do is ask how she is, if there's anything you can do to help, and just let her know that you're there and you care. She may be too ill for visitors, but drop her a text every few days - believe me, HG leaves a woman feeling very isolated and lonely and any form of conversation is welcome.

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