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BABY ON BOARD Pregnancy updates

33 Weeks

Yes I am as tired as I look

Well, I’m not going to lie. I’m 33 weeks pregnant and this week has been an absolute shocker. I think my personal low point came at around 1am one night when I lay in bed whimpering to Oli: ‘I thought I was a strong person. I want to be a strong person! Why am I not feeling strong?!’

All had been going quite well really, as my chirpy 32 week update will attest, but then I had my 32 week check up with my GP. My urine was fine, the heartbeat was fine, my blood pressure was up slightly but not terribly, but then the doctor measured my bump. It measured 27cm – the same as it did four weeks ago. Now, I know that fundal heights are pretty unreliable, and that anything within a 2cm range is OK, but measuring 27cm meant not only that my bump was 5cm too small for my dates (bump size should measure the same in cm as you are number of weeks pregnant) but more importantly, that it hadn’t grown at all for a month. This is referred to as ‘static growth’. An oxymoron, but whatever.

The GP told me that I had to go and have another growth scan first thing the next day (unfortunately my appointment with her was last thing, and the scanning unit was shut). Cue a rather sleepless night, then we rocked up the next day to a full waiting room of nervous pregnant ladies. I gave the receptionist the letter from my GP referring us, then we took a seat, expecting to be there for hours. But within about three minutes my name was called – never a good sign!

We went off to be scanned, mostly hoping to be told everything was fine to be honest – and that my bump was small because of my long body, as it had been last time. But unfortunately Chip’s growth has slowed right down. She had been measuring on the 50th percentile for growth, but now she was only measuring on the 5-10th. An official verdict was announced – Chip is ‘small for gestational age’, with all the complications this involves. She’s also very firmly in a transverse breech position…

33-weeks-transverse-lie

Yes, that is my baby’s head very firmly sticking up on one side of my stomach. Apols to squeamish folk

The sonographer tried not to worry us but did impress on me the importance of keeping an eye on her movements, and if they seem to lessen at any time, to come straight to the hospital. I’ve been a nervous wreck ever since. I also have a placenta at the front, which means I never see her kick really, I just feel rolls and thuds inside my tummy. My days now consist of large portions of time spent lying on my side and playing her music, just to make sure I feel ten movements within an hour. It’s stressful.

I’ve cried a LOT – late at night, in the M&S sweets aisle, while watching TV… poor Oli. My other method for dealing with this situation is to try to get as much organised as possible – hence we’ve picked up the buggy, cot and car seat, and I’ve washed all her clothes and packed my hospital bag, just in case I have to go in early. That has given me something nice to focus on, and has made me feel more and more excited to meet her. Here was the car after our trip to the A3 Baby Barn

33-weeks-pregnant-lifebylotte2

Not only do we need a bigger flat, we need a bigger car!

We have another scan at St George’s next Thursday, but in the meantime I also booked a private scan for tomorrow at the Fetal Medicine Centre. There’s so much I want to ask and I just wasn’t really in the right state of mind last week. I am aware that if the issue with my placenta means that she’s not getting enough nutrients etc, the best thing is probably to have her early but the sonographer wouldn’t suggest that until she’s compared her growth over two weeks. But I am also terrifyingly aware that I’m now at a much higher risk of stillbirth – hence my 1am whimpers.

If it was up to me, quite frankly, I’d whip her out right now. I really want her to just be here and safe, and I’m so afraid of my body letting her down. It’s been very difficult to hold it together in general really – it’s a kind of low-level anxiety that’s ALWAYS there at the moment – is she moving enough? is she OK? what is going ON inside me?

The only nice bit about last week’s scan actually was seeing that she has a full head of hair! That did make me sniffle a bit. (and also, the perverse side of me couldn’t help thinking, why is she growing completely unnecessary hair when she needs to put on weight and grow her head and tummy instead!?)

What’s interesting too is that I actually am really lucky. If my hospital didn’t do doppler scans as standard (many hospitals don’t) I would never have found out about the issue with my uterine artery resistance. In my many google sessions this week, I came across this Panorama documentary from the BBC about this very issue, and about how many stillbirths could be prevented. It’s worth a watch, if you’re pregnant or concerned about your baby’s movements. Really, the thing I’ve learnt from this experience is that keeping an eye on how much your baby moves is absolutely bloody critical.

Anyway, I’ll probably do another update after my scan tomorrow. I’m praying for good news. I’m eating like an absolute pig and I’ve put on 2 lbs in six days, which I’m hoping is a good sign. My bump feels bigger to me, so I’m keeping everything crossed for a growth spurt. Come on Chip, you can do it!

BABY ON BOARD Pregnancy updates

32 Weeks

32-weeks

Dear god, I’m hot. I just read a piece on everyone’s favourite tabloid saying that pregnant women are especially vulnerable in these kinds of temperatures (hottest 1 July on record apparently!), and I certainly feel it! Not exactly sure what we are vulnerable for though – premature labour? Fainting? Dehydration? Elephant feet finally exploding?

So at 32 weeks pregnant, I am starting to wish my life away just a little. I’ve said a few times over the past week ‘wish Chip was here already’ as I am really beginning to feel uncomfortable now. Technically I will be full-term in five weeks, which really isn’t that long away is it? Gulp. Oli has said a few times that he thinks Chip will be early and I have a suspicion his instincts may be right. Time will tell.

Apart from my feet being gigantic (yep, still not over this, and the heat is making them worse!), I’m now suffering with quite bad back pain if I have to stand or walk around a lot during the day. Sleeping well seems to have gone out of the window completely, and as a result I’m also really emotional, having had lots of sobbing sessions over the last week, mostly about inconsequential things. Oh and if I sit down in front of the TV in the later afternoon, there’s a real possibility that within ten minutes I’ll be asleep and drooling all over the cushions.

My tummy has expanded a LOT over the past week too, which was quite a surprise – it definitely seems to go through growth spurts. I don’t have any stretch marks yet but I am being really rubbish at remembering to rub Bio Oil into my tum every day so I am certainly living on borrowed time.

Actually, at 32 weeks there’s not much to report really. Chip moves all the time these days, and I can tell he/she is getting stronger. I’m really quite content and happy, and really really looking forward to being a mum!

And on that note… you may remember that when I had my 20 week scan, we asked the sonographer to write the gender of the baby on a piece of card, which we sealed in an envelope. What I didn’t reveal before was that that envelope remained unopened for less than an hour after we got home. Poor Oli – his new phrase is ‘you always get your own way don’t you?’ because I badgered him and badgered him to let us open it and see what it said, and eventually he gave in.

I hadn’t announced the gender on the blog before because part of me has always thought that other people probably don’t care whether you’re having a girl or a boy, and those ridiculous gender reveal parties popular in the US, where people bake cakes with pink or blue food colouring inside to ‘reveal’ the news to their family, just seem so ME ME ME and cringeworthy. There were also a few family members that didn’t yet know, and I didn’t want them to find out through the blog. But then I started talking on Facebook about the sex and a few of my friends seemed surprised that I was just casually letting out the info.

So, this isn’t a ME ME ME post I promise, but – *drum roll* – here’s what we saw when we opened the envelope…

lifebylotte-gender-reveal

I have to say, it was one of the best moments of my life. If you are pregnant and considering finding out the sex, I really recommend asking the sonographer to write it down for you so you can share the news at home, or somewhere special. Much more pleasant than finding out in a sterile hospital room lying on your back with jelly all over your tum.

So yes, we are very excited and pleased to announce that Chip is a girl! And although it’s totally wrong to say it, we really did both have a preference for a girl (surely everyone has a secret preference deep down?!). I’m so excited about the idea of having a daughter, and I have, of course, already spent an absolute fortune on adorable little dresses etc which all my mother-friends have told me are totally impractical for babies and she will hardly ever wear. But oh my gosh is it fun. She is certainly going to have a better wardrobe than me!

BABY ON BOARD Pregnancy updates

31 Weeks

31-weeks-pregnant

I’m seriously not going to miss taking photos of myself every week

I’m 31 weeks today! There’s definitely something about passing the 30-week mark that makes you think that from now on, EVERYTHING has to be about the baby. I’m sure this is also because I’m now on maternity leave, so I’ve got very little in the way of day-job-work to distract me. Anyway, being 31 weeks has suddenly got me all in a flap about the fact that the baby will be full-term and therefore may be born at any time in only SIX WEEKS. Squeak!

Everyone I’ve spoken to has said that first-time babies are always born late, so I had almost resigned myself to not having Chip until September. But then I googled it and discovered that statistically first-time babies are as likely to be early as they are late, so that’s a load of nonsense. Also, with my placenta issue, if I haven’t had him/her by 41 weeks they will induce me, which means that he/she will definitely be born by 2 September! A very strange thought.

I’ve had mixed reactions about my August due date, with some people saying they hope I’ll hang on so the baby is born in the next school year so that he/she isn’t the least developed (read: most stupid) in their class, and others pointing out that an August baby means one year less of childcare for me (as the baby will be going to school almost a year earlier than babies born a week later). Truth is I actually don’t care at all when Chip is born. I just want him/her to be healthy and for me not to rip in half during labour. Oh and for my feet to go back to normal after (more on that later).

Anyway, my first week of maternity leave has been lovely, and basically felt like a mini holiday. I’ve been out seeing friends a lot for lunches, brunches and dinners, and generally just pottering about. I even went back to John Lewis’s baby department again, but this time with my Mum. Sadly it was no more successful than my previous trip. In fact the only difference was this time it was my Mum saying ‘Oh it’s all a bit overwhelming’ as we wandered around marvelling at all the baby nail scissors and bibs and stuff. Again we left empty-handed, save for a helpful ‘John Lewis Baby’ brochure of ALL THE THINGS I WILL NEED. It’s on the coffee table. Progress.

rattle

We did also go to JoJo Maman Bebe however, where I found it impossible to resist this little rattle. Despite my Mum saying ‘Charlotte, people will BUY you things like that, you shouldn’t buy them yourself!’ But… where’s the fun in that?

I’ll probably do a separate post on the bits we have bought so far, but suffice to say that I feel we’re getting there on the clothing front – the only part of baby shopping that doesn’t freak me out. Although who knows if August babies need long or short sleeved baby grows? I’ve got a mixture of both just in case… (I’m also still slightly confused as to the difference between a sleep suit and a baby grow but hopefully all will become clear at some point).

31-weeks

Proper bump pic + podgy pregnancy face

But enough about the baby, back to ME. I’ve had some new symptoms again this week, which I shall now moan about for your reading pleasure and my future self’s nostalgia:

1) Crazy dreams. This may be due to us finally beginning to watch Game of Thrones (yes yes, I know, eighty years late to the party) but my dreams are so far off the sane-scale these days that I’m starting to become concerned. They don’t make any sense at all. Last night I was in a 4×4 being washed through a tsunami in the Devonshire countryside on my way to an interiors photoshoot. I think this may be a weird hybrid of issues in my life at the moment: the possible need for a new safer car (although I hate 4x4s with a passion), the possibility of moving out of London (although Devon is certainly not on the list of potentials, much as I’d love it to be), the fact the house we had an offer accepted on last week has flooding issues (we’ve pulled out), and well, me missing a big photoshoot for one of our clients due to being on mat leave. Just weird. Every morning I’ve woken up and gabbled, all excited like a five-year-old, ‘I had the weirdest dream!’ to Oli, who this morning made me laugh by replying ‘Yes, well tell me after I’ve been to the gym’. Message received loud and clear: other people’s dreams are BORING. Ahem. Moving on then…

2) For the last three days, my hands and feet have been really stiff and puffy when I wake up in the morning. I googled this and apparently I have rheumatoid arthritis. Of course, I don’t have rheumatoid arthritis because I’m pregnant, and so instead I have carpal tunnel syndrome. Not nice. I have to flex my hands and wrists for a good few minutes to try to get them to loosen up after I wake up – I literally have no grip otherwise. Annoying. And much sympathy now for those who do have rheumatoid arthritis.

3) My feet continue to upset me. My poor feet! My feet will never be the same again!! They are elephant feet. I hate them and they hate me. I miss my old, slightly bony, vein-riddled feet SO much. I miss my shoes! I’m actually praying to the god of feet that these fluid-filled bags of skin return to their normal size and shape after Chip is born because I can’t bear to spend the rest of my life looking down at such squidgy monstrosities.

4) And finally, I am definitely feeling BIGGER. I feel like a proper pregnant person now, and have started to wear my bump and my awkward waddle-walk with pride. I am using this as an excuse to eat more too (resistance to massive weight gain is now futile). My appetite is huge and seems to require at least two ice creams a day. A few weeks ago I discovered a wondrous thing known as ‘maternal fat stores’ which are apparently key to you having enough energy to breastfeed when your baby is first born. Basically I’m allowed around an extra 3kg of fat on my body by the time I’m full term. So now, whenever I sneak to the freezer for another Cornetto and Oli gives me a look, all I have to say to him is ‘maternal fat stores!’ and he rolls his eyes and leaves me alone. This bit of pregnancy I am getting on with quite well…

BABY ON BOARD Pregnancy updates

30 Weeks

30-weeks

Apologies for the pyjama bottoms, but I AM ON MATERNITY LEAVE! I SHALL NEVER GET DRESSED AGAIN!

As you may (or may not) have noticed, I didn’t manage to do a 29 week post last week. It was my last week at work, and everything was just rather crazy. So this post is going to be a bit of a double whammy, with random musings from the past fortnight.

So! I’m 30 weeks pregnant and Baby Chip is now the size of a cabbage. Don’t I know it. I think I look like I’ve swallowed a basketball today. It’s quite impressive. And more excitingly, yesterday a complete stranger asked me when I was due. I haven’t actually had anyone try and rub my stomach yet though, which is probably a good thing and means my resting bitch face continues to do its job.

Anyway it’s day three of maternity leave and I’m already twitchy – I don’t really like not having anywhere specific to ‘go’ in the mornings, and I’m thinking I need to get into some kind of routine. Exercise could be good, given that my love affair with prenatal yoga was rather short-lived (I kept missing classes because of various work/social life things – whoops). I thought swimming might be a good idea but first of all I need to get over my phobia of public swimming pools. I’m considering investing in a yoga DVD to do at home but my motivation to exercise at home has never been great so I can imagine this may be doomed to failure too.

Symptoms-wise, it’s been a mixed bag lately. The most annoying and most horrible thing are my swollen feet. At the end of the day they are just SO big now, and I can no longer fit into ANY of my shoes. Flip-flops are my only option. But of course flip-flops aren’t great for your back, so after a long time walking around in them I’m in quite a lot of pain. The swelling doesn’t really seem to improve much no matter what I do either. I had hoped that it was the sort of thing that would disappear the second I give birth, but one of my friends told me she still has one swollen foot eight months after her daughter was born! Eeek.

Other than that, I’ve been feeling really tired and not sleeping well at all – instead I’ve been having a weird half-sleep where I am sort of conscious but not fully. The weird dreams continue, but luckily I forget most of them by the time I wake up…

30-weeks-2

Some nicer things: Chip is moving about all the time these days and I can tell he/she is getting much stronger, which is lovely. I can also tell when he/she has changed positions. One of his/her favourite positions, it would seem, is sitting directly on my bladder, giving it random little kicks every so often and making me absolutely convinced that I’m about to wet myself. It’s a very weird feeling: being completely desperate for the loo all of a sudden, but only for a few seconds before he/she shifts out of the way and the sensation disappears.

Talking of going to the loo (sorry), I now do approximately six drops of wee every time I go. It’s like my bladder has shrunk to the size of a thimble. Weird.

oliver-bonas-olivia-bag

But back to the good things: we have ordered the car seat, car seat fixer thing, bedside cot and buggy! I also bought my hospital bag this week – I was in town and saw this (not so) little beauty in Oliver Bonas and decided to treat myself, even though I thought it was probably a bit early. Ironically my 30-week pregnancy email from Bounty then informed me that now was a good time to start packing my hospital bag! So maybe not too early after all. I’m now watching endless hours of YouTube videos on ‘what’s in my hospital bag’ from other pregnant ladies – the list of things needed is pretty extensive. So far I have:

a battery-operated fan (randomly picked up for £1 in PC World, so no doubt will not work by August)
two baby grows
a dressing gown

So yes, still some progress to be made on that front methinks.

I had my 28 week midwife check up last week, which was much better than expected actually. My blood pressure is back down to my normal levels (phew) and although I’m still measuring 2cm behind, the midwife said that this wasn’t anything to worry about. She did, however, worry me by introducing me to the world of the perineum massage, and suggesting that I might like to start doing this to myself. If you don’t know what it is, I suggest you google it. Or don’t google it, depending on your squeamishness levels.

An alternative to the perineum massage is even more alarming: the Epi-No. Here’s a picture:

epi-no-delphine

I’ll leave your imagination to fill in the blanks about how this little device works. Not cheap at £90 (and clearly not something you can resale afterwards) the Epi-No sounds like a REALLY fun way to spend an hour or so every day, don’t you think? I guess once the baby’s born it might be useful for inflating their first birthday party balloons. Sarcasm aside, I am actually considering it, although can’t help fearing that I’ll blow myself up or something.

On a more vain front, I’ve finally had my roots done, and am feeling much more like my old self. I am not sure I’ve talked about this before, but since getting pregnant my skin is so much more sensitive. I’ve had to completely change my normal skincare routine, and then when I last had my hair done, I had an allergic reaction to the organic Aveda colour I’ve used for about eight months now, and developed some really attractive scabs on one side of my scalp.

So I put off getting my roots done for as long as I could bear it, and then decided to go back to my original chemical-laden L’Oreal dye when it all got too much. I had it done on Monday and so far, no reaction at all. I do genuinely believe that organic products are pretty bloody awful for your skin – I had a huge allergic reaction to Neal’s Yard skincare many years ago and clearly my body now also doesn’t like Aveda. Shame, because organic stuff smells much nicer, but I’ll be sticking to peroxide from now on.

On another note, did anyone notice their hair getting darker while they were pregnant? My roots this time seemed almost black, which was a little distressing. Am hoping it’s just a temporary change.

And finally: I have STILL not had any Braxton Hicks. I am feeling left out. If any other mothers hadn’t had any by the time they were 30 weeks, please do come forth and share. Apparently it doesn’t matter that I haven’t had any but it does make me wonder if I will be chronically underrehearsed for the big event at this rate…

BABY ON BOARD Pregnancy updates

28 Weeks

28-weeks

Spot the cat keeping guard

I’m 28 weeks today and edging ever closer to 30 weeks, which to me sounds VERY far along. Squeak! Best of all, I am firmly in my third trimester now, and the baby picture on my baby app looks like a proper baby with podgy little legs and arms. I celebrated my 28 week milestone with a growth scan, which I had this morning.

However, I stupidly spent last night reading Amanda Holden’s autobiography (bear with me on this, but it was all related to the fact that I’m a die-hard Corrie fan, and couldn’t believe that Les Dennis was once married to her, so I bought it on my Kindle for 99p to find out more). Anyway, what I hadn’t realised was that poor Amanda had lost her baby at 28 weeks completely unexpectedly, so of course I spent the entire night fretting about what was in store for me.

Be warned: do not read Amanda Holden’s autobiography when you’re pregnant. The poor woman has been through hell and back and my heart goes out to her.

Maybe that’s why I was extra emotional today, or maybe it was just tiredness, but anyway I got quite teary eyed watching Chip kicking about and curled up and generally looking perfectly happy. More mindblowing stuff this week – his/her eyes were actually open on the ultrasound! I knew they open for the first time around 27 weeks but it was actually so amazing to see them there so clearly, staring at us from the screen. He/she even blinked at one point and was swallowing more amniotic fluid (seems to enjoy doing this, weird).

We didn’t have our nice sonographer this time but another chap (who didn’t give us a free picture, meanie), but he was perfectly kind, if a little matter-of-fact, and patiently explained all the various bits and pieces we were looking at. As usual, our baby had his/her legs curled up around its head – certainly way more flexible than me at the moment.

Growth wise, everything looked absolutely fine, but the issue with my ‘increased placental blood flow resistance’ and left uterine artery were still there, which was a bit disappointing as Dr Google had told me it could right itself by this point. It’s obviously not affecting the baby’s growth at the moment but it does mean they still want to see me for another scan at 36 weeks and again I have to keep an eye on my blood pressure and stress levels.

Otherwise this week’s been a mixed old bag week of symptoms. Here are a few – look away all ye who are squeamish:

1)  My feet. The sun came out and my feet BALLOONED. It was actually ridiculous. I showed them to a few friends who said theirs did the same but not until they were much further along. Here they are at the end of a long day sitting at my desk at work:

28-weeks-feet-swollen

Note the Gaviscon, never far from reach…

I warned you. Yuck! They also really hurt when I walk because the fluid on the top of them seems to wobble as I put each foot down. The only solution is keeping them raised as much as possible – I have a box under my desk at work now and I have been using my poor feet as an excuse to do bugger all in the house once I get home. Oli has been (not so) graciously massaging them with my Lucky Legs gel which is awesome – definitely my favourite pregnancy buy so far, after the dream bed companion that is the Theraline.

2) I have been constipated beyond belief. Sorry, TMI but there you go. No amount of beans has been shifting things, but when I do finally need to go, I have to go. I don’t know if this is because the baby somehow kicks things along my intestines but it’s a proper rush-to-the-loo type situation. Nice.

3) We went to start our baby shopping in John Lewis at the weekend and all that happened is that I walked around in a daze, feeling totally overwhelmed and on the verge of tears. There. Is. So. Much. Stuff. I don’t know what half of it does. I don’t know where to start. I can just about cope with baby grows, but scratch mitts, room thermometers, breast pumps, sterilisers, breast pads, maternity pads, nipple cream… like I said, overwhelming. The only thing I KNOW I have to get is a Sophie giraffe thing, because all my mother-friends have told me about them. And I keep spotting them in photoshoots of nurseries.

Added to this the bedside cot we had decided on after much deliberation is no longer endorsed by the NCT owing to a baby suffocating to death while sleeping in it. So yeah, we’re back to square one on even that decision! If anyone has any recommendations of cots that you can have next to you (Moses baskets freak me out) please shout!

4) Cravings-wise, Curly Wurlys and ice cubes (not together) have been the order of the day. And cold, cold drinks.

5) I started to get weird period-like pain yesterday morning. It was really strong and painful and made me scared. I limped to work and it went away. I don’t know what it was but I’m going to ask my midwife at my appointment next week. I’m anxious to start feeling Braxton Hicks contractions now so wonder if it was that? Who knows?! As ever, the pregnancy learning curve is steep… third trimester, (I think) I’m ready for you!