Saturday, 9 July 2016

Mama, You Got This.

Spoiler alert: Being a Mum is hard work. Being a Mum after loss is even harder. But you know what, I got this.

The first night we took Hunter home I think I genuinely believed it would be a breeze. It wasn't. It was horrible and I felt horrible for thinking it was horrible. They literally send you home and you know pretty much fuck all. You're responsible for keeping this tiny being alive and they're 300% totally reliant on you. No pressure though.

It got to 3am on our first night and I was already done. This little bean wouldn't settle in his crib and when he did for a second, I was convinced he was dead. (The thing is, once you've seen a dead's all you see for a long time. And when your child looks near identical to the one you've lost, it drives you insane.) So there I was. Exhausted from giving birth with a small, restless and hungry baby in my arms and I just didn't know what I was supposed to do. I ended up throwing a bottle at Mattie's head because I was angry he was sleeping whilst I had a mental breakdown. (HOW DO MEN SLEEP THROUGH EVERYTHING?!) But I somehow made it through that night and the next and the next and we're both still alive (one of us hasn't washed her hair in 3 days and smells of baby milk and sick but ya know, my eyebrows look alright)

What I want you to know is that no matter how hard it seems, you got this.
No matter how many times you find yourself back at the hospital because they think there might be yet another issue with your baby, you got this.
No matter how many times you find yourself crying because your baby won't stop crying, you got this.
No matter how many times you feel guilty for being a "bad mum" (YES I use a dummy and give him formula), you got this.
No matter how close you come to murdering your partner because he's an idiot and can't use a washing machine or cook a meal, you got this.

As long as your baby is loved, fed and clean you're doing just fine. Sometimes that's all you need to hear, that you ARE a good mum. Trust me when I say, all the screaming for no reason, explosive poo nappies, late nights and worrying is SO worth it. And when they're all scrunched up on your chest, smelling of that wonderful baby smell it suddenly hits you how lucky you are and how amazing you are because you made that baby.

Mama, you got this.

Monday, 27 June 2016

Introducing Hunter Edward Ray Jenkins & His Birth Story

We actually made it. We have him here and he is safe and he is healthy and he is all ours. Our beautiful rainbow baby. Hunter Edward Ray Jenkins, born at 7.07 pm on the 14th of June 2016, weighing 6lbs11oz at 37 weeks. I'm going to crack on straight away with his birth story...mainly because otherwise I'll be jabbering on about how amazing he is for years but also because he is currently napping and a newborn nap is more unpredictable than anything I've ever encountered before!

We received a phonecall at half past 8 on the 14th, inviting me in for my induction. After we showered and got all our bits together we finally left and made our way to the hospital, arriving at about 10.30. He kicked and wriggled the whole way, reassuring me he was fine. On arriving we were shown to a bed and met our first midwife. She was lovely (they all were) and she explained the induction process before listening to baby's heartbeat. That was the point that we discovered Freddie had gone so the midwife took her time and checked I was ready before setting it up. But there it was, loud and strong. After monitoring the heart rate for a while the midwife did an internal examination to see whether they were able to break my waters or whether a pessary should be inserted. It turned out that I was 1cm dilated but they weren't able to break my waters. I was secretly glad as everyone told me that it was really painful to have your waters broken and so in the pessary (or small teabag as the midwife called it) was popped in.

Within about half an hour, I could already begin to feel small and irregular contractions whilst I munched on my jacket potato (NHS food really ain't that bad you know!). They were still pretty tame at this point though and I was moved to another ward and met another midwife. I want to say her name was Jenny but I'm ashamed to admit I honestly can't remember. She told me she would be back at 6 to do another CTG and I was pretty much left to it apart from when I was given paracetamol at around 2. As the hours went past the contractions definitely stepped up a notch and I was writing in pain on my bed. I was also desperate for a wee but every time I went I was unable to go as it felt like something (I'm assuming the head) was blocking it. By the time it hit 6 I was frustrated and in agony and pretty much ready to scrap a natural birth and beg for an epidural. My midwife didn't show up till around 6.15 as it was so busy and I was nearly in tears. She could see I was in a lot of pain and said she would do an internal check after the CTG.

The CTG was set up and initially everything seemed dandy. But as soon as my next contraction hit, Mattie and I watched the heart rate drop...and not just a little bit. Initially we thought maybe the baby had moved position but it became pretty clear that wasn't the case. My midwife called for another midwife and told me to stay on my side. I remember the other midwife arriving and saying "oh". Before I knew it they told me I would have to go to delivery immediately and were talking about phoning various people. At this point I started balling and repeatedly saying "please don't let me lose this baby too". My midwife hugged me and told me it would be OK, she was going to make sure it would be. I realised then that I couldn't stress because baby was already struggling to I sucked it up and before I knew it I was being smashed through doors at an alarming speed to the delivery ward. I honestly felt like I was in an episode of Holby City or something!

From this point, things moved pretty quickly. I met another lovely midwife and she examined me and said I was already at 5cm...I was actually disappointed as I hoped he would be hanging out due to the sheer amount of pain I was in. She said she needed to break my waters and get our little man ASAP. I refused at first because I was so scared of the pain but she told me she really needed to so yet again I told myself to man up and gave her the go ahead. It actually didn't hurt at all, I have no idea why I made such a fuss. I was on the gas and air from this point so I was pretty out of it...I'm basically relying on what Mattie has told me.

The heart rate was still a bit of an issue...sometimes it was fine and then it would drop again. They inserted a drip to speed things up (Mattie said it was horrific and was a whopper needle). I just remember a lot of people appearing in the room and it felt like I had a small crowd all peering between my legs. They told me they needed to take blood from baby's head to check if he was getting oxygen. Again, I panicked and thought this meant he was going to be brain damaged. I heard someone shout out "he has lots of hair!" and Mattie was trying to cheer me up by saying "you hoped he would have hair didn't you" and I pretty much growled at him because my baby's hair was the least of my concerns at this time. The results came back that baby was fine but I was in so much pain and terrified something would go wrong. I think the midwives were stressing too...I imagine the pressure of delivering a healthy baby after a stillborn one would be pretty high and stressful. They were amazing though and constantly comforted and reassured me which was what I needed.

After about 20 minutes of my waters being broken I was pretty much done. I'd had been poked and prodded and I felt exhausted. When I heard someone say that I was going to be taken for a c-section, I felt total relief. Finally the pain would be over and I could have my baby. However, just as they were about to take me to be prepped for the c-section I heard myself annouce "you can't move me, he's coming now" and sure enough, in a shot his head was out and after another push I saw my baby. He didn't cry straight away but then he let out a little cry and he was lifted onto me. I was still wearing my topshop top I wore in, so much for my well planned birthing outfit! I remember saying "we did it Mattie, he's here" and he was. He was breathing he was alive and I got to look into his big, curious eyes with his long lashes.

By some miracle I needed no stitches and I was back on my feet instantly. Hunter was checked over by doctors due to him being early but he's absolutely fine, minus a tinge of jaundice. If anything, Mattie suffered the worst as he saw everything happen and has told me that I'm not allowed to have any more babies...HA!

I can't pretend it's been easy. I didn't sleep for the first 48 hours as I was terrified he would die in his sleep or when he was sleeping I would wake him because he looked just like Freddie. But it has gotten easier as we get to know each other. I am totally besotted and in love with him, he is totally gorgeous and such a good baby (so far anyway!). I can't imagine my life without him now. He will never replace Freddie but he has helped to heal us beyond belief. I finally feel like my life is complete again. Our beautiful rainbow baby, Hunter Jenkins.

*PS sorry about the poor written quality of this post...I've tried to rush it in between Hunter's naps which is no easy task, believe me*

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

35 Week Update - Hello June

The 1st of June. We're nearly there. Where there is, I'm not entirely sure. It could be having another dead baby. Brutal but the only outcome I know. But, it could be having a living, breathing, healthy baby. Only time will tell, nothing can alter the result. All the wishing, praying and hoping change nothing and I wish I didn't know that, but I do. I've spent all year wishing, praying and hoping for Freddie back and it's done sweet f**k all. I hate that I've become this person but that's the reality of losing a child, there's only so much positive thinking I can muster up. The only reason I'm still here clinging on is that slight chance I might be able to mother a living child.

I could sit here any type about my usual "updates" on my physical and mental health but honestly, I'm not feeling up to it. Call me an ungrateful b*tch but I am tired. Not of this baby, not of this pregnancy but all the crap that comes with it. It is so hard to smile and feel upbeat when my back is in agony, my wisdom teeth are ripping through my gums and I'm having minimal sleep due to nightmares and being up every other hour to wee. Don't get me wrong, I love carrying my son in my body, I love feeling his kicks and punches and wriggles but it is hard. Having a baby after losing one is hard, it is so so very hard. 

Regardless, I'm going to drag myself through these last few days. I'm going to pack my hospital bags, I'm going to make up the crib, I'm going to make a birth plan and I'm going to focus on bringing baby H home. That's all I can do. I can't let myself be consumed by this negativity and anxiety because I know Freddie wouldn't want that. I know baby H wants me to believe in him so I will. 

Saturday, 14 May 2016

32 Week Update (Oops!)

How am I here at 32 weeks?! Also, how on earth has is taken me this long to update my blog?! Probably because I've been pretty darn busy! Life has been full of midwife appointments, scans, consultant appointments, work and spending time as a couple (plus dog). I'm not complaining though, I've needed the routine and focus to keep me going from one day to the next. As it gets closer to "D-Day" I'm feeling more and more panicked and I feel like I need constant distractions to keep my mind from drifting to the negatives.

I would say "mentally" I'm doing OK. There's a lot of ups and downs recently. I'm missing Freddie a lot recently, more so than usual. I think it's partially because it's nearly been a year since we lost him and partially because I'm scared how having another baby will impact on my relationship with him. I'm also feeling anger more than usual too...angry I wasn't given more attentive care last time (another pregnant woman with the same dipped uterus and breech baby was given consultant care and a c-section at 37 weeks...her baby lived). I'm also angry I can't just sit back and relax in this pregnancy. I don't want to spend every second with my hand on my bump, trying to work out if that was a kick or if I'm imaging it and baby hasn't moved all day. Pregnancy after loss is hard, that is one big fact.

Physically on the other hand, I'm doing pretty good (thank god). Today is my last day at work and I think that was the best possible decision. I have to walk 15 minutes, catch a bus for 20 minutes and then walk for another 10 minutes before I even start work. It can be exhausting, especially when it's a hot day and a man with hygiene issues sits next to you on the bus! I was coping but coming home with swollen feet after a shift to then have to cook/clean/wash/walk the dog really takes it out of me...which then impacts my emotions...which then impacts my relationships with people. I'm looking forward to finally being able to relax and do things in my own time. Fidgety legs are becoming a pretty regular feature in my life, closely followed by night-time leg cramps. The indigestion has started to calm down now since I cut out red meat and white bread but it occasionally comes back to haunt me. Also, on a side note, I've managed to grow myself a fringe. My hair just doesn't stop growing and it's literally sprouting out the front of my head like I've hacked at my hair to try and make an awful full fringe. Although, I'll be thankful for that extra hair when it's falling out after birth!

Scans and appointments have been going well too. Baby is measuring well, albeit with a slightly large head. They've tried to assure me is fine and just down to the fact Mattie and I have large heads and also because the positioning of his head makes it tricky to measure. Which leads me on to the fact that he is head down *yay* for now. A massive reassurance to me as we lost Freddie due to his breech positioning. We've briefly discussed a birth plan and it's looking likely that I'll be induced at 39 weeks, but I'm betting on him coming at around 37/38 weeks.

Hopefully I'll be doing another update before Baby H is here and hopefully it'll be going just as smoothly as it is now.

32 weeks down, 6 weeks *until I'm induced* to go

Sunday, 3 April 2016

Surviving Easter and Our First Scare

I meant to write a post about our first Easter without Freddie a while ago but just never got round to it, I feel like life is going at 300 mph recently! So I thought I would combine it with our first little scare, that felt like a big scare, that happened today. Just so you know, everything is fine now *touches wood* thankfully.

Easter was actually pretty lovely. I imagined it being a lot worse than it actually, like most of Freddie's milestones. My parents made him a beautiful floral basket to go on his grave. My mum picked the flowers, basket and rabbit and my dad arranged them. They also did one for my Grandad which was sweet as it was like they matched.

We actually took his basket up on Good Friday as the weather was so lovely and it just felt right. Knowing it was on there for Easter really helped me, I knew he would know we were thinking of him. I wish we could have him with us, trying his first ever Easter egg and making a mess everywhere...just like everyone else. But, like so many things, it's just something else we will never get to experience with him.

Mattie and I spent the day together and even ventured out through the rain (our car conveniently broke) for a pub Sunday lunch. I may or may not have treated myself to an apple and pear crumble with custard for pudding too! It really helped me to focus on the happier points instead of reflecting too deeply on what I was missing out on with Freddie.

On a not so positive note, today gave us our first (or rather my) first "scare". I woke up at 8 and led back, expecting to receive my early morning kicks but there was nothing. I still stayed positive and went to make Mattie and I breakfast, washed down with a hot mug of sweet tea to get baby H moving. I sat down and waited...all I got was a few tiny flutters that could easily have been confused with digestion movements. I still tried to remain calm and positive and went back to bed to encourage movement whilst Mattie went off to play football. I led there and waited and waited for a kick or punch to reassure me but there was nothing. Nothing would budge him, I gently rubbed my belly, played him music, lay on my left and right, drank ice cold water but he was totally still. I began to cry and the negativity was quick to creep in and I started to prepare myself for the fact I was about to lose another baby. Luckily I have super supportive and organised friends that encouraged me to phone the hospital so I could be assessed, which I did. I couldn't get hold of Mattie to let him know what was happening which was pretty scary and isolating but luckily he did come home before my appointment and was able to come with me.

By the time my appointment came around I had began to get little kicks but not as hard or as frequently as before so I knew I was right to be getting checked over. The midwife that saw me was unaware of Freddie but once I told her, she was lovely and reassuring. She really put me at ease and actually spent time with me, thoroughly checking everything to put my mind at rest. When it came to listening to his heartbeat with the doppler (no CTG as I'm not 28 weeks yet) I nearly stopped breathing myself. It always brings back memories of the silence that fell when Freddie's couldn't be heard. But it was there, loud and strong for a whole minute (as well as some hefty kicks which made me look like I'd made up the whole reduced movement saga! Ha!).

So here we are, as fine as we can be at this stage. Baby H is kicking away loud and clear whilst I type and I love every minute of it. Hopefully he won't give me any more scares between now and his birth but I definitely won't hesitate to get it checked if I feel it necessary. Something which I would advise all mothers to do.

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Pregnancy Update - 23 Weeks

I'm one week away from having a "viable" baby. Not that I would ever wish for this little peanut to be born anytime soon, but it's reassuring to make it to this milestone. When I found out I was pregnant with this baby, I never dreamed I would even make it to the 12 week scan but I did. Then I made it to the 20 week scan and now I'm here with a very active little man...only a footstep away for 24 weeks. I think that is how I'm managing to keep going and how I'm managing to stay (generally speaking) focusing on the next milestone ahead. And when I reach it, I aim for the next.

I'm already pretty anxious for my 28 week scan and appointment. We'll be penciling in a rough plan for the delivery and checking that the little man is still healthy. I'm also hoping he'll be tucked nicely in the head down position. I know babies can move around up till about 35 weeks but Freddie stayed breech from 20 weeks till the end and I'm scared this little man will too. I also know plenty of people have had successful births with a breech baby but, after the difficulties it caused me before, I'll be a nervous wreck if I have to go through a breech pregnancy again. I'm trying to work out how he's currently lying but I'm getting movements all over the place so I'm not entirely sure.

As I mentioned earlier, I'm generally doing OK emotionally. Of course Mother's Day was incredibly difficult for me but I persevered and after a morning cry session, I kept myself busy and made it through till the end of the day. I am honestly, loving this pregnancy. I feel so much love for this baby boy, something I never thought I'd be able to feel/say. Every kick or punch feels like he's reaching out to me and he's letting me know that he's doing well. I sometimes wonder if his brother has told him that I'm a total worrier so I need as MUCH reassurance as possible.

Physically I'm doing pretty good too...much the same as my last pregnancy. I was fine and dandy until 27 weeks and then it all seemed to hit me like a tonne of bricks. I'm having bursts of energy during the day but around 7pm, I'm ready for bed! Also, the last two nights I've started to feel some lower back pain. Nothing excruciating but enough to be noticeable. I think it's probably because he likes to sit low and it puts pressure on the bottom of my spine! Work is going well considering too. I'm doing shorter and more consistent shifts so my body has adapted to a bit of a routine which helps.

I feel like I'm jinxing it by enjoying this pregnancy so much and I feel guilty that I'm happy about being pregnant with a baby that isn't Freddie. I'm scared that all this "positive thinking" I'm doing is pointless and that I still won't have a healthy baby at the end of this all. But I know I can't let myself think that way. If, god forbid, something goes wrong, I want to be able to have happy memories to look back on, like I have with Freddie. I also want to make sure I'm not stressed, as I know that it can't be healthy for this baby. So for now I'm just going to take it day by day, one milestone at a time until I hear that scream of a healthy newborn that I've dreamed of for so long.

23 weeks down, 17 more to go.

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Pregnancy Announcement/ 20 Week Update

We finally did it. We told the world we are having baby; Freddie will be a big brother and we will be parents to two boys (and one small dog) that we love very much. We had already told family members and close friends but we finally felt that after waiting 18 l-o-o-o-o-n-g weeks, we were good to go. We had the 20 week scan and have been told that as far as they can see, so far, he's a healthy little man. And he is definitely a little man, his legs were wide apart and he clearly had no inhibitions when it came to showing off his bits!

I'd had this announcement ready the day we got back from our dating scan. Perhaps is was slightly premature of me but I wanted to tell the world, I didn't want it to be a dirty secret. But, Mattie and I discussed it and decided we wanted to get the all clear from the 20 week scan before we told people. It was the right decision of course, I wouldn't have been able to cope with having to explain that, yet again, something wasn't going our way.

Obviously I'm not naive, I am more than aware that something could show up at our 28 week scan or even our 32 week scan. I'm well aware he may not make it to the 24 week viability milestone. Basically, I'm aware of all the things that could go wrong. But, if I focused all my thoughts and time on negativity, I'd have a very miserable few months. I'm actually enjoying this stage of pregnancy. I'm as positive as is possible given everything that has happened and right now, things are going OK. I'm taking it as it comes and that's all I can do. It's something that is totally out of my hands. However, I know this little man has the best possible brother watching over him and trying his best to keep us both safe, I'm trusting in him.

Physically, my body is quickly changing. My bump is ever growing as are my boobs. I shouldn't complain but as a previous member of the itty bitty titty committee jumping from a B to a D is a slightly painful experience! Last week I had a lot of "ligament pain" in my lower abdomen but nothing major and it's stopped this week so I think he was just on a growing spree. I'm feeling lots of kicks when I sit down in the evening or when I wake in the morning. He also enjoys it when I eat (typical boy) or when I drink a hot chocolate...only hot chocolate though! I cant wait to have more regular movements but I'm thankful to feel what I do as I have an anterior placenta. Cravings are non existent but I am enjoying food a lot more than I did in the early weeks and my love of healthy food is sadly fading fast! I'm trying to drink water and add lots of veggies to my meals to compensate for the chocolate ice cream. I'll probably regret all the munching when I have a flabby post partum tum but right now, I just don't care!

20 weeks down, 20 more to go. DHJ we cannot wait to meet you.