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Small Victories

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When I first started this blog I imagined that this pregnancy would be eventful and that I would have lots to write about.
In actual fact, apart from a minor blip at 23-26 weeks, it has been wonderfully uneventful.
Today I am 35 weeks pregnant and feeling very very excited. With only five weeks to go until my due date, if bubs was to be born now he/she would probably have a short stay in SCBU. Obviously it would be better to keep him or her in for another couple of weeks at least, but I feel reassured that I have reached this late stage of pregnancy.

The only cloud on the horizon is the possibility of having to have a c section. I am extremely keen to have a vaginal birth and the thought of having my baby cut out of me fills me with dread. So I am doing my best to help Bubs turn to a head down position as he or she is currently breech and seems to be stubbornly stuck that way. There are various exercises which can be done to open up the cervix, all of which I have tried and they have not yet helped. Somebody suggested moxibustion, but I have heard mixed opinion about that and it is expensive.

So, my only option is to continue to do the exercises and hope for the best. If the baby hasn’t turned before 36 weeks, my consultant will try ECV, which involves manipulating the uterus/baby from the outside to turn it to a head down position in the pelvis.

If all this fails, I will have to have a C section. Delivering a breech baby is, in my opinion, far too risky. At the end of the day I will have to cope if C section delivery is the only option.

 

Today I have reached a huge personal milestone in this pregnancy. I am thirty weeks pregnant. This may not sound like a great big milestone to other people but to me it is momentous. The reason for this is that about nine years ago my cousin gave birth to a little boy at 3o weeks. He was ten weeks early. At the time this seemed massively premature and my whole family were worried about him. My cousin took him home five weeks later, five weeks before his due date. Little did I know then that a few years later I would give birth to a son at 24 weeks and all the heartache and joy that would bring to me and to my husband.

Now that I am 30 weeks pregnant with my second child I feel like I can relax. This may sound strange but I feel like I have got over most of the hurdles in this pregnancy. I am also being left alone by my Consultant now to just get on with this pregnancy and now I am finally enjoying it.

So many people take a healthy full term pregnancy for granted, but I really treasure every kick from my baby. It is a wierd feeling that this is my third pregnancy (the first one ended very early) but I am still experiencing all these pregnancy firsts and loving every minute.

Calm After the Storm

I have nowreached 27 weeks gestation. Despite all the drama and furore with the Fetal Fibronectin tests, I have had no problems at all in this pregnancy. I am still mystified as to why the Fibronectin tests swang from positive to negative. I guess it will have to be one of life’s little mysteries. Anyway, I am much more relaxed now
and I am beginning to experience all the joys (and pains) of pregnancy that I missed out on last time due to premature labour.

Most women take it for granted that they will feel their baby kick during their pregnancy.
I never really did much with Harry as he was born in the 24th week
and he was my first baby. This little one seems to be very active and
frequently gives me a nudge, mostly when I am trying to sleep! I am also really
enjoying having a growing bump and I am excited about the prospect of getting
bigger. It used to annoy me when people told me I should think myself lucky I
didn’t have to endure a big bump. One of the joys of pregnancy for me is
feeling the baby growing inside me. I grieved for weeks last time after my
pregnancy ended far too early.

I went to see my midwife on Thursday. She said “you’ll be doing really well if you reach 28 weeks”. There is no reason at all why I shouldn’t carry to term and comments like that are just not helpful.

I am very much looking forward to the imminent arrival of the third trimester and the joys and pains that it will bring. After all, it is all part of pregnancy and I plan to just enjoy every part of it.

First sign

Something happened the other day which warmed the cockles of my heart. I have been signing to Harry for a long time. I never thought he would sign back to me  The other day he was whingeing at me. I asked him what was wrong and he signed ‘eat’ to me. I proceeded to give him his tea
which he wolfed down.  I thought at first that I had imagined it but Harry also signed ‘eat’ to my mother. This is the first sign that he understands the signs. He is beginning to communicate with me using signs and not just crying. This just goes to show that persistence is the key in baby signing.

As for my pregnancy, I have reached 26 weeks with no problems to report. I am still under investigation and I’m still having tests regularly but that can be no bad thing
if it prevents another premature birth. I do seem to be a lot bigger than last time, but that can be no bad thing.

Too Much Monitoring?

When I went for the fetal fibronectin test on Monday I was convinced that it would be negative.

How wrong I was.

I was shocked and terrified when my consultant told me that the test had come back positive. She told me that I had a one in six chance of delivering in the next two weeks. I then had to wait hours for an ambulance to take me to St Thomas’s Hospital. These hours were agonising, the woman in the bed opposite me kept banging on about how she was overdue. I finally arrived at St Thomas’s at about 9pm, the midwife carried out some observations and I was told to try to sleep. Despite being in a room on my own, I didn’t get much sleep. I could hear the occasional screams of women in labour.

The next morning I was seen early by the professor who came up with the test. He said that he would repeat the test and scan my cervix and consider putting a stitch in if my cervix was short. Alarm bells were ringing. It felt like history was repeating itself as it was around this gestation that all the trouble began in my last pregnancy. A few hours later the professor came and took me up for my test and scan. My cervix still appeared long so I was told I wouldn’t need a stitch. I was then delighted when the test came back negative. The professor later said that he was baffled about why the test was positive one day and negative the next, but it was a good sign. I would not, as originally told, be spending three weeks in hospital. I was discharged on Wednesday afternoon. I will be having another test next Wednesday to make sure, but the doctor who discharged me said that I now have a less than 1% chance of delivering in the next month. The past week has made me feel that there is such a thing as too much monitoring. If the first fetal fibronectin test had been done on a different day it may have come back negative and a lot of emotional stress could have been avoided.

I know this sounds ungrateful but I feel like I am being too closely monitored because of my history. On the other hand, if there had really been a problem it would have been picked up well before it became an emergency. I am just relieved that everything seems to be OK. I am still feeling a bit traumatised by the whole experience as it brought back so many bad memories, but I am confident that the test will be clear on Wednesday as there is no reason why it shouldn’t be. Only then will I be able to relax again.

Advances

I am starting to get excited as I have reached the 23rd week of pregnancy. This is a real milestone for this pregnancy because at this point in my last pregnancy I had had an emergency cervical suture put in and was on bed rest in hospital. I am much calmer now as everything is fine and there is no sign of early cervical dilation. My bump is bigger now than it was when my son was born, people keep telling me I look like I’m much further along than I actually am. I am looking forward now to the rest of the pregnancy, getting bigger (although at the moment I don’t see how that is possible), and feeling my baby grow inside me.

There have been some reassuring medical advances since the early arrival of my son. One of these is the Fetal Fibronectin Test, in which the doctor tests for the presence of fetal fibronectin which indicates that labour will occur in the following 14 days. I am confident the result of the test will be good, and then I can totally relax and enjoy this pregnancy.

I am finally starting to get excited about the rest of this pregnancy as every day I make an advance towards meeting my second child. All the signs are positive that I will carry to term and everything will be fine.

Courage from Adversity

I am now 21 weeks pregnant. For the past week or so I have been feeling anxious because of my previous premature delivery (at 24 weeks). I have just had a bit of time to mull this over and try to find a way to stop feeling anxious. For a while I thought that there was nothing I could do to stop feeling anxious, I know realise that I was wrong and that simply isn’t true. There are several ways in which I could use the situation to my advantage.

Reach out to People

This is a cliché, but it really is good to talk. Before this pregnancy I joined a ‘prem baby meet up group’. I used to find it very beneficial to meet people in the same boat as me
and share experiences. I have followed this up and I am in the process of arranging to meet up with some of them, one of whom is currently in the same situation as I am.  I spoke to my midwife last week and expressed my anxiety to her. Her suggestion was that I speak to
the Counsellor Midwife. I was reluctant at first but I am warming to the idea.

Knowledge is Power

During my last pregnancy I was fairly ignorant about premature birth and, like everyone
else, thought that it would never happen to me. It is my belief that this is
wrong and pregnant women should be made more aware of the possibility of
premature birth early in pregnancy. Anyway, I am in a much stronger position
now because I can take steps to at least try to prevent a second premature
birth, and if the worst comes to the worst, I will be better prepared to cope
with it.

Keep Busy

As a result of my previous preterm delivery, I have many more appointments to attend both for myself and for my son. My son is now two, he is still catching up with his
peers and so we see a physio, speech therapist and various other professionals
who help him with this, which is a blessing in disguise. I also have regular
scans which reassure me as well as seeing the midwife, so basically it’s all go
and I don’t have much time during the week to dwell on the past.

To sum up, STAY POSITIVE AND RELAX.

Home Oxygen

I’ve been meaning to write a bit about what it was like to have an oxygen dependant baby. My son Harry came home in August 2009 on home oxygen. I have the following gems of wisdom to impart to anyone who may be interested.

Stay connected

One thing I wish I had done was ask a nurse from the NNU to call us at home a week after Harry was discharged, just to see how we were getting on. I did feel a bit cut off when he came home, after having had so much support from the nurses it felt strange to suddenly not be getting any. I would also suggest staying in touch with other parents who are in the same boat as you. I did this and it really helped, otherwise I would have felt very isolated. The thing which really helped me get through the time Harry was on oxygen was getting out and going to groups, just to get a bit of normality. The majority of the other mums were sensitive about Harry’s condition and I made some lovely friends by doing this. I even took Harry swimming when he was still on oxygen, I used to put his cylinder in a small rubber dinghy.

Be prepared for good and bad days and insensitive comments

The thing I used to hate about having an oxygen dependant baby was the insensitive comments, the worst of which was ‘what’s wrong with your baby’? My response to this question was ‘nothing, mind your own business’. The positive side of this is that it does thicken your skin. Somehow worse than that was the people who would just stare and not know what to say. My reaction to them was to just stare back at them.

Technical stuff

Harry was on oxygen for over a year. This presented many problems. One such problem was when he started rolling as he would get tangled up in his wires. The only thing to do about that is to just keep a very close eye on him. Also, always make sure that the portable cylinders you are given are not leaky before the delivery man leaves. Lastly, make sure before you go anywhere that your portable cylinder is set to the correct flow rate.

Finally, don’t let it get you down, just keep thinking that you have your precious baby and everything will be OK. 🙂

The story so far…

Just over two years ago my son was born 16 weeks prematurely. He weighed one pound eleven ounces. It was the small victories that got us through the four months following his birth, which he spent in two different neonatal units. His huge victory was coming home at four months weighing a little less than seven pounds. I look at him today and think how wonderful it is that he has done so brilliantly. I can really see his personality emerging more and more each day and he is becoming such a cheeky monkey. Two days ago he climbed the stairs for the first time and now he is climbing everything he can. I still find his small victories inspirational, and he has had so many of them.

Today I have achieved a small victory of my own. I am twenty weeks pregnant. At the moment every week of this pregnancy I get through is another small victory to me. The small victories so far in this pregnancy have been hearing the heartbeat for the first time, each time I have a scan and my cervix is still long and closed, yesterday I found out that my placenta (which had been blocking the exit) had moved out of the way, another small victory.

I hope every day that both my children (the toddler and the unborn one) keep achieving their small victories, they are my small victories.

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