Parenting · Pregnancy

#Blogtober2019 – Day 28: Bump in the Night

From before I even got a positive pregnancy test, my pregnancy with Laurence began with insomnia.

The day I did my first ever pregnancy test I took it at 2:30 in the morning because I’d been awake for hours already and I knew if I peed then I’d never be able to hold it long enough to get a definitive result later in the morning.

That 1am to 3:30am timeframe became really familiar to me over the next nine months. Virtually every night (well, morning) I would find myself wide awake, scrolling through my phone or reading on my Kindle (or throwing up) until I’d eventually flake out a couple of hours before the alarm went off. Of course, I’d inevitably crash around 3pm the next day and would end up sitting at work like a bit of a zombie, but I quite enjoyed those quiet hours that were just me and the baby.

Before he was born, Laurie was nicknamed Bo and as he got bigger and I was more aware of his presence, that time of day was ours. I’d feel him stretching or kicking or squirming into a more comfortable position. I’d rub or stroke him to let him know I was there and he’d kick or poke back. It was like a little game that we would play, just me and the bump.

When he was first born and we had many of those sleepless nights, I kind of forgot about our bump time, but now he’s a more settled sleeper, I miss the time when it was just the two of us, sharing a body. Now if he stirs in the night, he might reach out for his dad instead of me, but back then, when he was Baby Bo and lived in my bump, I was the only one who’d be there with him in the small hours of the night.

Laurie March 2018

And he was the perfect company for those long sleepless nights.

This post is the 28th (so near to the end now) in a series for the Blogtober 2019 blogging challenge. You can see all my prompts below:

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Health · IVF · Parenting · Pregnancy · The Noodle

#Blogtober2019 – Day 26: True Love

The early part of my pregnancy with Laurence was not easy.

Morning sickness kicked in around 6 weeks pregnant and by the time I was 8 weeks pregnant I was on antiemetic medication which didn’t really help so at 9 weeks I was admitted to hospital with dehydration.

Over the next three weeks I became convinced I was dying. EVERYTHING made me throw up. Any kind of sensory stimulation and I would hurl. It would take me a whole day to drink a 330ml can of flat Fanta.

I had dreamed of being pregnant so long and yet by the time I was 12 weeks pregnant I had stopped virtually stopped eating because anything I swallowed only came back up again. I went to my 12 week scan telling myself that at least if there was something wrong with the baby, I wouldn’t have to feel so sick all the time because it would all be over.

Instead, there on the screen was a perfectly healthy little baby. He stretched out his legs, flailed his arms around, and then turned his back on the scanner. Looking back now, the way he ‘rolled over’ was so quintessentially Laurie. I watch him roll over in exactly the same way every night. I think that was truly the moment when I fell in love with him.

That’s not to say I wasn’t in love with him before.

I fell in love with that little bundle of cells I saw on the TV screen before my transfer. I fell in love with the idea of the baby I conjured up when I first got that second line nine days later. I fell head over heels in love when I saw that little heartbeat flickering away at six weeks pregnant, and actually got to hear its steady little thump two weeks later.

But at the same time, for those early weeks, it felt an awful lot like the pair of us were doing battle for control of my body. So many people were focused on what was right for the baby and I didn’t have the energy or the words to articulate the fact that I was in that body too, and while the baby was clearly healthy, I was dying in there.

Seeing him on the screen that day, looking far more human than he ever had looked before, made him real.

So I fought the hyperemesis gravidarium. I educated myself on it. I worked out what my triggers were; I hid in the bedroom whenever the spousal unit wanted to cook chicken, I wore sunglasses all the time to avoid bright lights, I had the brightness on my phone and computer monitors at work turned down as low as they’d go whilst still remaining visible. And I took the medication that helped me gain control over the vomiting.

It was over a month later when I definitely felt him move, though I had actually been feeling him for a couple of weeks before that; it just took a definite movement to realise it. And at that point it hit me that it wasn’t him versus me for control of my body; it was him and I against my body. He was right there alongside me and it was my body that was being the bitch.

That marked a turning point for me and I think that’s when I really bonded with my unborn baby.

Newborn Laurie

I worried for a long time during my pregnancy that we wouldn’t like one another when he arrived. I was scared that the sickness would affect the way I felt towards him. And after the trauma of his birth and our horrible stay in hospital, I suspect that it could have gone either way.

But once he was actually here, there was no question in my mind, he was mine and I was his and there doesn’t seem to be a word that describes just how strong that feeling of love was. And still is today. Seriously, just saying his name or looking at his little face makes my heart swell.

I love my little guy.

And yes, it’s cliché, but I’d do it all again because I’d know I could survive it. And I know exactly what the prize at the end is now.

This blog post is part of a series for the Blogtober 2019 blogging challenge. You can see my list of prompts below:

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How have your feelings towards the ones you love changed over time?

Parenting · Pregnancy · The Noodle

#Blogtober2019 – Day 4: On the shelf

Before the Noodle came along, reading was my thing. So many people told me that when we had kids I’d not have time to read any more.

For the month I was unemployed back in 2011, I read 33 books, because I had little else to do with my time.

One of the things that made me most miserable about having hyperemesis during pregnancy was that reading made me throw up. So did knitting. And colouring in (though not to the same degree, thankfully). I think I could almost have handled feeling so poorly in the early days if I could’ve lost myself in a good book to take my mind off things.

You may have figured out from yesterday’s post, I like to organise things. I used to have a complicated system for which books I would read where I would take one from each shelf of my bookcases in turn, with an ebook in between for good measure. I was strictly monogamous; only one book at a time (with the exception of coursebooks/textbooks which could be read alongside fiction, because of course).

My reading habits have changed somewhat since the little man came along.

Laurie reading

I still read, but a lot more digitally. It’s easier to read on an eReader or phone in bed at night because you don’t need to put the light on. It’s also easier to actually hold a Kindle whilst feeding a baby, because you don’t need two hands to turn the page.

So my physical books do tend to spend rather more time on the shelf now than they used to; but my digital book purchases have probably multiplied exponentially from where they were a few years ago.

I also used to doggedly stick with a book even if I wasn’t enjoying it. I would be determined to get to the end so that I could judge it properly. What if the point at which I abandoned it was where it just started to get good?! I do not do that anymore! Life is way too short and my own time is too precious.

The other major change in my reading habits that has come about in the last couple of years is that I read a lot less fiction than I used to.

Laurie reading at the library

That’s not just because I’ve spent the last year studying, I don’t really count my coursebooks in my year’s reading. It’s because now I have my own tiny human, I’m fascinated by how his brain works, how he’s developing and learning, how he sees the world, and one hundred and one other things. I love Sarah Ockwell-Smith‘s books because she speaks to my way of parenting (I’ll definitely be blogging about my parenting philosophy in the future) and I’ve been quietly amassing both digital and physical copies of her books.

The final change to my bookshelves is obviously as a result of that tiny human who has joined our home. Laurence has quite the library himself (because I firmly believe that the one thing a child can’t have too many of is books) and they all need somewhere to go.

I very generously bequeathed to him not only a big shelf on my main bookcase, but a whole small bookcase as well! Both of these are in our living room and are generally where his toys are stored, but each week when we reorganise the toys, we select a bunch of new books for him to enjoy that week too. Of course, Charlie Cook’s Favourite Book is a perennial favourite so it pretty much lives on the bookcase. Or in our bed.

After being told by so many people that having a child pretty much meant I would never be able to pick up a book again, I have to say they were wrong.

While I don’t get as much time to read anymore, and my reading habits have changed, I probably read more now than I ever did before. And those books might be by Julia Donaldson, or Eric Carle, or Maurice Sendak, but hopefully I’m instilling my love of reading in my boy.

And he’ll only be little for a while. Perhaps in the future, when he doesn’t need my help to clean his teeth, or dress him ready for the day, or hold his hand to cross the road, I’ll have two hands free when I’m reading a book, and we’ll be able to share a bookshelf and its stories together.

Laurie at the library choosing books

This blog post is part of a series for Blogtober 2019. You can see a list of my prompts below:

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How have your reading habits changed over the years? What’s prompted those changes? Do you think they’ve changed for the better or worse?

IVF · Parenting · Pregnancy

“When do you think you’ll have another?”

There seems to be a belief amongst some people, that having a child cures infertility.

Newborn Laurie

While it’s true that there are a number of people who do go on to get pregnant after having had fertility treatment, they’re probably the exception, not the rule. Infertility is a huge umbrella and can mean that couples have problems with sperm, eggs, ovaries, tubes, hormones, genetics, and probably dozens of other complications that I’ve not considered here. Sometimes everything works and yet a baby still doesn’t happen; the helpfully termed ‘unexplained infertility’.

For some people having a baby seems to reset things; hormones start behaving as they should, tubes do things they’ve never done before, perhaps a change in lifestyle affects sperm production and a baby does happen naturally. It’s wonderful and I’ve celebrated alongside every single one of my IVF Crew friends who have experienced a surprise natural positive test.

But for so many of us, the hope of another child lies in a freezer in a lab, or in a bank loan for more treatment. Another child doesn’t mean a romantic night away with the spousal unit and a bottle of something bubbly; it means injections and pills and internal scans and backless hospital gowns accessorised with paper booties and a hair net.

And so the pressure isn’t taken off.

It’s heaped on in spades.

All those appointments? That’s time you could be spending with your existing child.

The hormones you pump your body full of? They make you moody, emotional, tired, and unwell, so you struggle to fully enjoy the child you already have.

The money you spend on treatment? That’s a holiday with your child. Day trips out. Fantastic new toys. Furniture. A down payment on a house. A new car.

And all of that work and effort.

It’s all a huge gamble. A roll of the dice or a flip of a coin. Heads, you win a baby. Tails, it’s another blank pregnancy test.

Like any form of gambling, you’re in it for the big prize, and it’s the big prize that drives you to take the chance, but there are never any guarantees.

Laurie March 2018

It’s most definitely not without pressure. The stakes are most definitely higher with another frozen embryo transfer than they were with Laurie’s round. Before we had Laurie, we’d only experienced loss; now we’ve experienced success, it’s just another added pressure; we’re more fully aware of what’s at stake than we ever were before.

So while on the outside, it may look like infertility isn’t an issue now we’ve had a baby. But it’s still very much the elephant in the room whenever the prospect of another child comes up in conversation. It’s not ‘cured’ by the delivery of a healthy baby; it’s a weight I’ll probably carry with me for the rest of my life.

But we’ll bear the pressure, because when you don’t know any different, that’s just what you do.

Laurie April 2019

If you know of someone who’s had fertility treatment to have a child, don’t assume that the years of heartache have magically been washed away. Those feelings are very much still there, alongside all the other complicated parenting emotions (mum guilt, I’m looking at you). Don’t dismiss how those parents are feeling by pointing out that ‘at least you’ve got a child’ or that ‘it could happen naturally now’ (especially if you don’t know the reason for their needing fertility treatment, it’s especially unlikely if the woman you’re speaking to has had her Fallopian tubes removed).

What can you do?

1. Don’t assume

Don’t assume that just because a family had a difficult time getting pregnant that they’ll not want another. Don’t assume that just because your cousin’s nephew’s aunt’s dog walker’s sister fell pregnant with a surprise baby just months after having an IVF one that any other family will experience this success. Don’t assume that because fertility treatment worked on the first go the next round will be a walk in the park.

If you don’t know for definite, just don’t assume.

2. Acknowledge their feelings

If the person you’re speaking to suggests that giving their child a younger brother or sister isn’t quite as easy as that, respect that and acknowledge it. This isn’t the time to launch into the story of the distant relative who got pregnant naturally after treatment. They’re telling you about some pretty hefty feelings and it can be easy to feel dismissed when someone brushes them aside with a comment like ‘at least you’ve experienced pregnancy now’.

It can be hard to know just what to say in these situations and that’s okay. If you don’t know what to say, tell them you can’t imagine how they feel; when you do that you’re acknowledging just how difficult these feelings are and letting the person know that it’s okay to feel that way.

3. Offer support

This can mean all sorts of things. You might just be a friendly ear or inbox when a person needs to vent. If they’re actually going through treatment then they’ll be juggling appointments with looking after their child, so you might be able help out there.

Just because you can’t help physically, you can help with the emotional side of things. Take it from me, it can make the world of difference.

If you had fertility treatment to get pregnant, how do you respond to these well-meaning comments and questions? What do you wish they knew?