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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