I feel like this post has been a long time coming seeing as we announced are pregnancy back in May and I had already surpassed the first trimester by then. It isn’t because I haven’t had the time to share our pregnancy journey but more the fact that this journey has been and continues to be incredibly difficult for us. I am now 6 months pregnant and our little girl is due this autumn and honestly I can not wait for her to arrive and join our nontraditional blended/step family.
Now contrary to popular belief our little lady was actually planned; yes we really did plan to have a fourth child join our family! Trying to conceive with my history of recurrent miscarriage and chronic illnesses was a difficult process especially trying to find the information we needed but never the less we persisted and I am sure I will write about that in a separate post soon.
We first had a positive test in February and despite trying to be relaxed about conceiving it was all too easy to symptom spot of early pregnancy symptoms after months of being in the red. I took the first test a day after finding the smell of meat cooking was making me feel really unwell and did a test just on the off chance it would be positive but I had lost hope of ever seeing a second line again after seeing so many negative tests. Watching the tests second line get darker over the days and weeks was nauseatingly stressful and something that I never wish on anyone else.
Knowing that our risk of chemical pregnancy and miscarriage was high and with a lot of physical health concerns to contend with had made the first trimester drag and feel longer than the three months it actually was. My doctor was made aware after my third postitive test and the midwife was contacted me by phone shortly after to give me reassurance. I saw her at around 8 weeks and she gave me plenty of reassurance of having dealt with women in my situation before and referred me on to be under hospital consultant care due to previous labour complications and my current physical problems and mental health illnesses.
At around 7 weeks we were offered an early scan to see if the pregnancy was viable. I remember sitting in the gynaecology and antenatal waiting room ready to cry at any moment and spoke the words to Chris ‘ I never thought I’d get to be in here again, especially with you’. It was heart breakingly true – being in that room meant that we were on our way to see if our dreams were to be realised or crushed and to be able to have a child with my fiance meant the world to us. A trans-vaginal scan took place with the scan screen away from my face and after the longest 2 minutes the sonographer revealed and briefly showed me that there was a very strong heartbeat but my left ovary was no where to be seen. She invited Chris in to the curtained area to see our little bean and his eyes lit up.
From then we were able to have a small amount of hope but my anxieties did not dwindle at all during the first 12 weeks. We had a second scan at around 12 and a half weeks and again we had a very active bean with a strong heart beat. I had opted for the nuchal and combined testing to see if there was a chance if our bean had Downs Syndrome or Edwards or Pataus Syndrome. Due to my medical problems and our choice of me staying on my medication meant that these were of greater risks to us so I was relieved to see that the measurement of beans nuchal was at a recommended level during the scan and proceeded to have the blood test an hour after our dating scan.
With pregnancy symptoms I think we had them all. From sickness to increased exhaustion, headaches and sore breasts I felt truly rotten. Due to my BMI it was recommended that I take 5mg of folic acid daily until around 16 weeks but this made my sickness worse. I was pleasantly surprised that I did not gain any weight at all despite being incredibly bloated and I went up 3 bra cup sizes by week ten!
My overall health severely deteriorated across the three months. I have gastro-esophageal reflux disorder and pregnancy has made this flare up. My stomach would be swollen all day, eating and drinking was extremely painful and violent vomiting was a near daily occurrence. My tongue was orange and my throat was raw from the acid travelling up my esophagus and my gums would bleed. I had been used to these symptoms previously but had managed to control it with medication. I tried drinking doses of gaviscon but after 3 weeks the gaviscon became ineffective and would make me vomit also so my doctor decided to add in extra medication to my prescription. I will hopefully be having an endoscopy after the baby is born to ensure I do not have any extra reason for the severe change in acid production and to rule out a hernia. We purchased a triangle shaped medical pregnancy pillow to allow me to sit up a little more in bed and this helped a small amount.
I live with chronic pain and hyper-mobility syndrome and a lot of my problems are within the pelvic and hip region region so generally have PGP (pelvic girdle pain). At around 8 weeks I had a persistent pain in my left hip and the start of some swelling on my pubic bone. I waited a week but knew exactly what I was feeling. With my last two pregnancies I had severe SPD (symphis pubic dysfunction) which was even worse with my daughter and meant that both times I had to make adjustments to positions to birth in during labour. Having SPD a third time was one of my biggest pregnancy fears as I knew how debilitating and painful it could be. I didn’t want to feel that pain again not when I already have uncontrolled pain. But the pain didn’t go and my ability to walk was becoming more hindered. My GP diagnosed me with SPD and not general PGP (as most pregnant women are wrongly diagnosed with SPD when it is PGP) at 10 weeks as the separation within my pubic bone was very apparent and how I walked meant it was obvious to my doctor what was happening. With my joints not being supported by my lax tendons and ligaments and my left hip regularly partially dislocating he was surprised the midwife didn’t automatically send a referral to physiotherapy with my booking details so he arranged a referral in that appointment. He told me to rest up when I could but he already knew I knew what to do to try to ease pelvic pain. My doctor never patronises me with he and any of the obstetric team being the only ones supporting my choice to have another child. Every other medical professional I met in my first trimester either belittled me and questioned whether having another child was wise choice or told me to come off my medication with immediate effect which is possibly some of the worst medical advice I have ever had!
During the course of last year I was getting regular optical migraine and abdominal migraine attacks and my gp had referred me for a CT scan of my head. Unfortunately by the time I got the appointment I was already pregnant and the hospital refused to perform the scan until later on this year. The symptoms I get for these migraines often mimics those of pre-eclampsia and with my blood pressure being slightly higher than the midwife would like it has meant that every time I have had a severe migraine I need to seek medical attention to rule out the start of eclampsia.
Just after my dating scan I had severe pain in the back area and urinating was painful. I took a trip to see the community midwife at the local childrens centre after I passed a large stone. I was greeted with a friendly face as the midwife I saw was the one that dealt with me with my two older children; it was appreciated at that time to be remembered by her and as she was pretty old school she was able to try and locate a heart beat on her doppler warning me that it may just be too early to find it yet. She found it and it was the most loveliest thing to hear at the end of our first trimester. She sent me to the doctors to get antibiotics for a kidney infection and kidney stones and was ordered to rest as much as possible.
My anxiety about baby loss, feelings of grief for previous miscarriages and ill health meant that I was on edge and couldn’t be happy to be pregnant. It’s was really important that I voiced any little worry or concern I had with my partner to help look out for any warning signs of a major bipolar disorder episode and manage my anxiety as best we could. It is an awful feeling to feel so negative about something that was so planned and desired for but I knew that we wouldn’t be out of woods for another few weeks. Chris was so incredibly supportive whether it was helping getting me off the bathroom floor after a vomiting or abdominal migraine attack or by making me laugh when all I wanted to do was cry.
I know this is a lengthy post but it was good to finally get the words typed out and shared and hopefully it can help someone else in a similar situation.