I am 1 in 8 speech

For my first international toastmasters speech which is known as ‘The icebreaker speech’ I decided to talk about my infertility. I thought I’d go big or go home! Talking about infertility to a bunch of work colleagues and a few strangers is nerve wracking!! This speech is the first of many I must give to gain my ‘competent communicator’ award. The idea is that the icebreaker speech is 4-5 minutes long and aims to ‘break the ice’ by talking a little bit about yourself as an introduction to your fellow toastmasters club members. Talking about infertility seemed like a bold challenge. 

It was hard to focus a speech that is only 5 minutes long to what has been a challenging part of my life. But in the end here is what I said…

“Ladies & Gentlemen, let me ‘break the ice’!! Let me take you back in time to when I was 9 in a leafy suburb playground of London. I was a bit of a Tom boy. I liked cars and transformers, so whenever I played with the boys, the girls would taunt me with the school playground rhyme…

“Dani & Chris, sitting in a tree

K-I-S-S-I-N-G

First comes love,

Then comes marriage,

Then comes the baby in the baby carriage”

Well ladies and gentlemen, that nursery rhyme isn’t quite so simple as it sounds after all. Because I am 1 in 8. I am 1 in 8 who suffers from the disease that is infertility. A baby in the baby carriage is not always what comes next.

Let me introduce you to Chris, my husband of 5 years….


Here he is winning the District 66 toastmasters humorous speech competition. You can see I have some competition!!!

4 and half years ago we moved to the US to work here. And it was at that point all our friends and family asked us….’so…when are you going to have a baby??!!’ Little did they know that we were trying but not succeeding. After many tests, thr doctors couldn’t tell us why we couldn’t have a baby. We were diagnosed as unexplained. So we tried InVitro Fertilisation or IVF.

Our first round of treatment we created these beautiful embryos…


We named them huckleberry and huckleberina because they looked like raspberries. Just 8 cells smaller than 0.1mm. One decided to stick around and I got pregnant!!! We were so happy! Until we discovered that it had implanted in the wrong place, the pregnancy was ectopic and so we sadly had to terminate the pregnancy as it threatened my life. 

We were devastated. We had to wait a while to try again.

Second time we created these 5 day old blastocysts. At first we didn’t name them because it was too painful. But in the end we did nickname them Petrie and Spike.


But it didn’t work. I didn’t get pregnant. It was very stressful and even Chris didn’t want to try again so soon. But we decided to try again. Third time lucky they say?!? This time we created thee 5 day old blastocysts – and as you can see we got a better photo of them  third time around!


And it worked!!! Today we have our beautiful daughter Aviana who is now 6 months old.


We are the lucky ones. Not everyone of the 1 in 8 gets to take a baby home in the baby carriage. It was a hard journey and involved hundreds of injections and there were many tears. People ask me now that I have a baby when will number two come along, or will we have another baby? But I tell them it’s not quite so simple as that. It’s hard. I wanted to share this with you today as my icebreaker because this is a subject deep to my heart and I hope you have learned something interesting about me today.

Ladies and Gentelemen, Thank you.”

I really enjoyed giving this icebreaker speech. It probably wasn’t what people would have expected as a first time topic. I got a great response from the audience. There was actually someone in the audience who was going through IVF themselves and have done two cycles at the same clinic as we used. They were about to decide whether or not to go for a third cycle and whether to stay with the same doctor. I offered details of our local infertility support group. It was obvious it was meant to be that I talked about this topic for my icebreaker. 

Infertility leaves a scar. I am grateful we were the lucky ones, but it doesn’t suddenly disappear from your heart when you have a baby. For me, continuing to talk about it and spread awareness helps the healing.

Tiny Bump tears

I’d forgotten about the Ed Sheeran song ‘Tiny Bump’ until this morning.  Today I put on the Ed Sheeran album + I bought back in 2012.  It’s been a while since I listened to it and I had forgotten this beautiful song he wrote about his friend who lost her baby at 5 months pregnant.  I just bawled my eyes out.  Actually it also reminded me that I put the entire album on my birthing playlist.  And yes, I think I told Chris to skip it when it came on.  Not the best song to listen to when you are in labour!  If you haven’t heard it, it’s on you tube, linked below.  Just wait to those last two lines of the song and have a box of tissues to hand.

What a difference a year makes

After the second explosion I remember turning around to see an old lady cowering behind her suitcase. The fear in her eyes was immense, she was terrified. OK we all were terrified, but it was her who I vividly remember the most. I asked her if she was OK, was she hurt, but she didn’t understand me – probably because I was speaking English when I was in Brussels airport. 

I remember that moment today one year later after the Brussels terror attacks, not because it was the one year anniversary(?) but because of the terror attacks in London yesterday. I heard today that another person died from his injuries – a 75 year old man. It made me think of the old lady in Brussels. It then made me reflect about how different my life is today one year on. 

One year ago I was also in the midst of down regulation for my upcoming 3rd IVF cycle. The one thing I thought of alongside figuring out how to get out of the airport alive was my medicine…I NEED MY MEDICINE! Looking back now it was daft to carry my bags with me, I should have left them behind. But all I could think of was needing to take my next injection. Not even a damned terrorist was going to stop me from this IVF cycle! And now here I am, one year later back in the UK with my beautiful 3 month old daughter, Aviana, the outcome of that cycle. 

One year ago if you told me my future I wouldn’t have believed you. On the edge of quitting, I somehow felt strength from adversity. I’m so glad I didn’t quit because I can’t imagine my life without Aviana in it.

Bad things do happen; how I respond to them defines my character and the quality of my life. I can choose to sit in perpetual sadness, immobilized by the gravity of my loss, or I can choose to rise from the pain and treasure the most precious gift I have – life itself.

-Walter Anderson

And so Life goes on. I will continue to fight terrorism and I will continue to fight the disease that is infertility with all of you. 

X

Buying a house or building a family? Infertility is expensive!

Today I thought about how lucky I am. I thought about the house we bought last year and how we were financially able to buy the house we wanted. We had been saving the cash for a rainy day for a few years, and a house seemed like a good rainy day investment. But ever since we were diagnosed as infertile we decided that we would probably need to keep that money for future treatments or possible adoption costs instead of a house. We saved that money to spend on growing our family to three. 

Luckily we didn’t need to use that rainy day money. Luckily my insurance covered the three IUIs, various diagnostic tests, surgery, and three IVFs. Luckily the third IVF worked. 

I am lucky. But I shouldn’t have to be lucky, it should be the norm to have infertility diagnostic tests and treatment covered by insurance policies. Being infertile is not a choice. It’s a disease. 

What I can’t get my head round is that companies who DO have coverage for infertility treatment don’t want to talk about it. I was shocked to read that when Resolve wanted to give an award to a fertility friendly company at their annual gala, the charity was turned down by eight different companies-they didn’t want to make it public. How can this be??? Infertility coverage is an amazing benefit and yet these companies didn’t want to celebrate the good they were doing for their employees. We have so far to go in making infertility coverage the norm. 

I am lucky because I got my rainbow baby AND a house. Many people I have met through the IF blogging world don’t get to have both. And sadly, there are even some who don’t get either and walk away with nothing or worse, a huge debt hanging over them.

I haven’t forgotten and I’m not going to forget how lucky I am to have the benefits I have through my work. I won’t stop advocating until infertility coverage becomes the norm.

Does your company include coverage for infertility treatment? If it doesn’t you can write a letter to your HR using a template that Resolve have put together to request coverage…

http://www.resolve.org/family-building-options/insurance_coverage/insurance-coverage-request-letter.html

TTC and no more exams

I thought I was prepared for my 4 week postpartum checkup with my OBGYN, but when I got there I was taken by surprise. 

I had planned a few questions for my doctor….

  1. How to manage my urinary incontinence?
  2. What to do about my milk blister on my nipple?
  3. When could we TTC (try to conceive) again if we wanted to in the future, considering we have one frozen embryo? After all, I’m not getting any younger. Also, as someone who likes to think about the future it would be helpful to consider what is the art of the possible.

But when I got to the appointment, I never asked the third question about TTC-ing. Why? Because I didn’t really want to know. I thought I did, but when it came down to it, I realised I was afraid of the answer. I was afraid of my age being a factor, afraid of retelling my story of how Aviana finally came into our world to a new doctor, afraid of having a date in my head of when we may start another journey when we just finished this one. Plus I should be living in the moment. Well For now anyway 🙂

After my appointment I got in the car and realised I wouldn’t be going back for a while. 

I burst into tears. 

Why did I cry? I’m not totally sure other than assuming crazy postpartum hormones, but the realization that I didn’t need another vaginal exam after several years of showing my hoohar to countless number of doctors, residents, nurses and med students on a regular basis was actually a big relief. 

So it was a cry of relief for no more exams, and a cry for uncertainty to when we would TTC again if we decide to do that. Maybe Aviana is all the family we will want, maybe we will want a brother or sister for her, for once infertility is not on the forefront of my mind. So ultimately it was a cry of relief.

A new blogging adventure

The Great Pudding Club Hunt is over…for now.  But my infertility hasn’t been resolved.  Infertility doesn’t define me, but it is part of my life now.  I love this blog, I love the amazing people I have met through this blog, I love how it has helped me cope with infertility and how it taught me to keep fighting when things got really dark.

But this blog is not about being a parent, in fact it has always been about me not being a parent and dreaming of becoming a parent.  I am now a parent and I don’t want to write about being a parent here, I want to save this place as where I can speak freely about infertility and pregnancy loss.  I wanted a similar place where I can speak freely about being a parent, and that is not here but elsewhere.  So I have set up a new blog…

The Inconceivable Adventures of Parenthood

(https://inconceivableadventuresofparenthood.com)

I’m a little scared stepping out into the parenting world, I’m hoping this new blog will help me explore my thoughts and ideas.  There is so much parent bashing on the internet I am a little terrified!  But like I have used the great pudding club hunt to explore my thoughts, cope with the low times and share the good times with others in similar situations, I hope to use the inconceivable adventures of parenthood likewise.

I hope to see some of you there!!!

I will be posting here still, I am not going away, but it probably won’t be as regular (until our next pudding club hunt anyway ;-p)

Postpartum recovery and pregnancy loss trigger

My postpartum recovery hasn’t been too bad at all. For the first 5 or 7 days I lived in the big stretchy pants with the huge pads that the hospital give you to take home. The amount of blood loss was heavier than my heaviest of periods, but the type of blood was different to a normal period, it was more of a pink and mucousy looking colour. Today, 13 days later and I’m still bleeding (as expected) but the amount of blood is more like a normal period for me. The blood colour goes between normal period type blood and a light pinky color. I’m now in normal pads and normal underwear (my normal period underwear anyway!).

I had a second degree tear inside my vagina that was stitched up, so I haven’t felt too much discomfort from the stitches.  However those damn hemorrhoids I was suffering from before giving birth almost tripled in size and a new one appeared too.  I’ve been using the prescription cream they gave me at the hospital and it has done buggar all.  Well if that is really the worst that I came away with, I am doing well.

So things down there really aren’t that bad.

But psychologically things are a bit different.

The first few days I experienced contractions every time I breastfed. These contractions were not like Braxton hicks or labour contractions. I’ve experienced these type of contractions before – when I miscarried. So every time I felt these contractions my mind wondered briefly about huckleberry (from our first IVF cycle). But I’d look down at Aviana nursing and I’d smile.  It’s funny how life turns out. It’s bitter sweet.

Christmas Day I had perhaps done too much walking around, later in the evening I bent over to pick up something, I stood up and suddenly felt like something squishy the size of a tennis ball appeared in my knickers. I grabbed my crotch confused and dashed to the toilet. There in my knickers was what looked like a huge ball of abloody clot. I freaked a bit, then prodded it expecting it to be soft like a clot, but it was actually a ball of tissue.  I shouted at Chris to take a look (yup, short of pooing in front of each other, nothing is sacred when it comes to all sorts of bodily fluids!).  My mind instantly felt and remembered my miscarriage and passing big clots.  I burst into tears and said to Chris ‘could this be….???’.  Chris knew what I was thinking, and he said no…it couldn’t be, they would have seen it on the ultrasound earlier.  He was right, if it was Aviana’s twin they would have seen it sooner.  But then I thought – they never saw Huckleberry on the ultrasound did they?….

The nurse had said if I experienced clots bigger than the size of a quarter I should phone in.  But then the guidance my OB had sent me home with was if I experienced a clot bigger than an orange.  Whatever this clot like thing was, it was about the size of a small mandarin.  I didn’t have any other symptoms and did not pass any other clots, so I decided not to phone the doctor.  I didn’t want the emotional stress for nothing that is just considered normal postpartum recovery.

I never expected to think about our loss so soon after giving birth 😦

My Birthing Story – A Vaginal Birth with Induction and No Pain Meds

PC Diary @ 38 Weeks 3 Days – The Final Entry

20 Dec: Preparing to expand our Family to 3.  My Tuesday 20th December started out with uncertainty – uncertainty as to when exactly I would be admitted to hospital to start the induction process.  Chris took the whole day off work and we planned for it to be our last day together as a family of 2.  It started with a visit to my Obstetrician to check the status of my cervix.  I was still only 2cm dilated and 70% effaced.  This meant that my doctor wanted me to be admitted to hospital later that evening to ripen my cervix.  So Chris and I decided to finally do something we always talk about doing but never got round to doing – take a trip to Cracker Barrel for lunch.  Yes, four years in Virginia and we had yet to visit a Cracker Barrel!  We stuffed ourselves as if it was our last meal ever.

It was very surreal knowing that I was going to start labour imminently.  The final hours before I called the hospital to check if I should come in were beautiful.  Chris and I shared a candle lit bath together and relaxed.  Afterwards we sat down together and put together a birthing music playlist.  We went through all my music, reminised over our various wedding playlists and created a 5 hour mix of chilled out tunes.  This proved to be one of the best things we could have done together.

20 Dec 7PM – It was time to call the hospital – but it was shift change so no one knew if I should come in.  Eventually at 9PM the hospital told me to come in….and to make sure I had eaten because as soon as I was admitted I would not be allowed to eat!!!! We grabbed our hospital bags and got in the car, the 15 minute drive to the hospital was quiet, I noticed all the Christmas lights for the first time.  This was not how I had imagined my labour to begin; I had imagined being in the midst of contractions, sat on a towel just in case my waters broke.  Instead, my head was full of questions about what was going to happen, how my birth story would play out, my head was surprisingly clear.

20 Dec 9PM: Cervical Ripening.  I checked into the maternity unit, I had already pre-registered at the hospital so I just needed to show my insurance card, ID and sign one more form.  I was tagged with various bracelets and shown to my room.  The room was a lot bigger than I remembered from our hospital tour we had taken several months ago.  It had a fancy bed that moved into all sorts of positions, various monitors for baby and mother, a crib with a radiant heater, a shower room and a sofa bed for Chris to sleep on.

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20 Dec 10PM – The nurses prepared me by hooking me up to the baby monitoring system round my belly, and put an Intravenous lock in ready to administer whatever drugs I would need, if needed. They took some basic medical history information and looked over my Birth plan.  It can be summed up as “please don’t ask me if I want pain meds, I will request them” but in general I was flexible and mentally prepared to go with the flow as my labour progresses. As this is my first time, I couldn’t possibly know what is or isn’t right for me, and every birth is different anyway.  The nurses thought that was very practical and good for my mental health.

The nurse put in the Cervadil ripening agent, it was on a string like a tampon.  She wasn’t able to use lubricant so it was incredibly painful.  She couldn’t find my cervix easily because the baby’s head was so low, she had to get around the head.  Once that hell was over, I was not allowed to get up from bed for an hour.  I needed to pee after ten minutes of the cervadil being inserted, the next 50 minutes I spent watching the clock, more hell.  The nurse came in to check my vitals every hour.  It was a sleepless night. Chris got about 4 or 5 hours broken sleep, however I probably only got about 2 hours sleep in sum total.  This was mostly because every time I rolled over baby’s heart rate monitor fell off baby and the Nurse would come running in!  Every time I needed to pee I had to unplug the monitor. I think I got up to pee about 8 times through the night.  Let’s just say I was not feeling refreshed in the morning.

21 Dec 5 AM: A rude awakening.  I woke up at around 5 AM with strong contractions, they were different to the contractions I have experienced throughout my pregnancy.  Things were moving along, there was a good chance that I was actually starting to shift into active labour just from the cervadil.

21 Dec 7AM: Cervix check. It was shift change, so the obstetrician came into check on me, with my contractions getting stronger she said she could do a cervix check and get the cervadil out sooner if I liked.  I felt like things had probably progressed over night because I was really uncomfortable and had to stinger contractions.  Again, not being able to use lubricant removed the cervadil and the OB checked my cervix.  I had progressed only to 2.5cm 90% effaced, she was looking for better progress than that, so she stuffed the cervadil back in me and said it could come out at 10AM – the whole 12 hours since it was inserted.  It felt like she was literally stuffing me with a dry towel, she made me bleed and I cried in pain.  I wished at that point that I could have had the non-FDA approved drug for cervix ripening misroprostol instead because I have used these before for my previous Dilation and Curettage procedures.  Ah well, I digress….

21 Dec 9AM: Active Labour. I started to experience longer stronger and more frequent contractions, about 4-5 minutes apart.  The contractions were becoming more painful and I couldn’t talk during the contraction and needed to concentrate.  These were the type of contractions that we had learned about in birthing class that were the ones I would feel as I would go into active labour and would need make my way into the hospital.  We ummed and ahhed about when to get our Doula, Sharon, to come in.  My contractions started to really need me to move into new positions and I was feeling like we would benefit from her support sooner rather than later, so we called Sharon at 9.40AM, and she arrived almost 20 minutes later.
21 Dec 10 AM: cervidil removed.  The cervidil was removed, I felt massive relief that it was out, but really sore from it being in me and with another cervix check I was now 3cm dilated. I was offered an hours break from the monitoring before starting the next stage of the labour where contractions would be induced from the drug Pitocin –  it mimics the hormone oxytocin which is what causes the contractions to develop.  We decided to take a 30 minute break to keep the ball rolling.  I was taken off the monitor and my ‘break’ consisted of taking a nice warm shower and feeding me up with a breakfast cereal bar, some haribo gummies and some really big glugs of water.  But I was still getting contractions during my ‘break’!  The shower was lovely and warming, it really helped me to relax and feel refreshed, ready to really focus on my breathing and thinking about my baby moving down the birth canal.

When the time came to end my break, I was put back on the monitor, the nurse surprised me and said I didn’t need to go on the pitocin because my contractions were looking strong and good and that I had entered active labour on my own.  I was thrilled at this because avoiding Pitocin was highly desirable for me and my goal to make this birth without pain medication if possible.

Our Doula: Sharon. So we got on with progressing my labour.  Sharon helped us try different positions to get baby moving. Having Sharon coach both of us through this labour was incredible. It felt so natural and she made me feel calm and comfortable with everything that we tried. Sharon wasn’t solely focused on me, she also made sure Chris was ready and prepared for everything that was going on and how he could help me. Her guidance was like a conductor of a symphony orchestra, there was never any hesitation and always deliberate consideration in her coaching style. At no point did I ever think, what on earth is going on or I don’t like what is happening here.  

Chris remembered to put our music playlist on. This was one of the best distractions and ways to keep me focused and relaxed in between contractions. Sometimes I even sang along to songs, maybe not out loud (or maybe I did I cant remember everything perfectly!), but mostly in my head. It helped me with my breathing as I listened to the rhythm of the music playing.

Active labour progresses. We tried almost all the positions possible that we had seen in our handout from the birthing class, and more that Sharon showed us. I think we used every single birthing prop that the hospital owned throughout my whole labour!! I was so grateful for all the effort the nurses put in to getting the things I needed for me. Their support was relentless.

Standing position – I held onto Chris/Sharon’s shoulders and swayed through the contractions.

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Lunging to the side position – I really liked this, it was hard work, but I felt like the deep lunge was helping my baby move with the gravity. I placed one foot on a foot stool and Chris took my weight, with Sharon close by to help as I leaned over him into the lunge.

Sitting on the toilet position – I quickly discovered when I went to go pee that this position was intense on my body. Sharon helped me put both my feet wide apart on two foot steps. 


My contractions here were really painful and deep, but this was a good thing according to Sharon.  I trusted her, but it was one of my least favourite positions. I came to be afraid of the toilet!!! Sharon told me early on that as soon as it gets too comfortable she wants me to change position so we can progress the labour! At this point I really was starting to feel like I needed to poo, but I had pooed earlier in the morning three times already, I couldn’t possibly have any more poo left in me?!

Sitting on the Birthing stool position – With my back to the bed, leaning on Chris in between contractions, Sharon was able to massage my back. Again, another challenging position, but it allowed me to relax in between contractions. Poor Chris was getting a real good work out by this time!!

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Birthing stool in shower position – Sharon could tell I was getting tired and wanted me to take a break. She suggested taking a shower using the Wireless monitor. It was logistically challenging to make sure the wireless monitor didnt get wet but we sussed it. This actually didn’t work out as well as first time I showered because I got too cold.

The Nurses all commented on how warm the room was compared to many other women, yet I was cold a lot, I had to frequently snuggle in my fleecey dressing gown.  It was white and amazingly throughout the whole labour didn’t get any blood or other bodily fluids on it, I think because Sharon and Chris were taking good care of me.

Apparently at around 1PM Chris and Sharon had a discussion on when I’d deliver – Sharon hazarded a guess for 2.30 PM….hahaha my baby had other ideas…

Walking – at 2PM with the wireless monitor still on I was able to take a walk down the corridor. But then my contractions really had started to slow down.  I met my OB in the corridor, she told me because contractions were slowing down she suggested I needed to to go on the Pitocin to move the show on the road.  So I agreed and had another Cervix check – I was still only 3cm dilated.  It was Frustrating to hear this, but Sharon explained how not to get disheartened and how to get over that mental state. I was given IV fluids and the Pitocin was administered. I started with a dose of 2, then every 30 minutes my dose went up by 2…I think the maximum dose I got to was 10, but I don’t really remember. This also meant that I was limited where I could go as I had the drip following me – moving into different positions became a logisitcal nightmare! But Chris, Sharon and my nurse worked hard to help me at every stage. Their support was relentless.

Side lying down position – I took ‘rests’ in side position with and without the peanut ball.  I truly hated having a contraction in the side position even though I was getting rest.

Sitting on Birthing ball – I sat on the Birthing ball leaning on the end of bed, Chris sat on the bed coaching me and Sharon sat behind me, massaging my back.This was a good position for me, I felt like I was progressing my baby girl down but was comfortable on my bum and back.

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Squatting position – Oh this position was painful and hard work, even though all my weight was on Chris as I squatted.  It was lots of Hard work for Chris!  He was getting a good work out!!!

21 Dec 5PM: Transition Phase: The pain was getting really intense.  My Contractions were 1-3 minutes apart lasting a minute and sometimes longer.  I started to really grunt through the contractions, trying not to wail like a banshee and breathe deeply.  Sometimes it felt like I couldnt breathe.  Sometimes I hyperventilated. But Baby was having decelerations at the right times of my contractions indicating that the next stage of labour might be very soon.  I was spotting brown blood – a good sign for my labour progressing.

Soon the baby started to struggle and her heart rate was dropping. The nurse gave me oxygen and that helped baby.

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Sharon told Chris to get dinner before it was too late – he brought back a salad because it was the only thing he knew I wouldn’t be jealous of!

I rested whilst he got dinner, sat up right with feet together and knees out.

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On all fours on bed position. I got on all fours leaning over the birthing ball on the bed in between contractions, and sat upright on my knees wide open during contractions.

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When I shifted back to the birthing stool I felt a warm dribbley gush; I wasnt sure if it was blood or my waters breaking.  It was my waters breaking.  So I had another Cervix check – this time I was 7cm, and still felt really frustrated because contractions were so intense and I felt like I should be closer.

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I really was near the point of no return for pain meds, I wasn’t aware of when that was exactly, but I really appreciated my whole team for respecting my wishes and not asking me.

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There came a point when all I could hear on the monitor was my baby’s heart rate decelerating, I was really concerned for baby and I said out loud – please do what ever it takes to keep my baby safe! – everyone said of course we will!!! Ebony was my nurse for most of my labour, she was wonderful and even wore a Christmas necklace that lit up! It was a shame she had to leave as her shift ended because I was only at it for another two hours, but that’s the way it has to be.

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They started to bring in all the equipment needed for delivery.  Seeing this happen, I began to feel like I could do this, I had renewed energy!!!  But I found it so hard to breathe through the contractions, every time I started to hyperventilate I thought about my anchor point – somewhere at the top of some beautiful rocky mountains. I remembered from all that I’ve read that the end is near when you feel like you are on the edge of almost dying. Knowing that helped me continue through the pain.

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The nurse asked me if I could feel any thing different and that I had to tell them if I could.  But I didn’t know what ‘different’ felt like, I had felt ‘different’ for the past 90 minutes like I wanted to poo and squeeze this baby out!  I was starting to feel frustrated because I couldn’t understand what I should be feeling.  Every other contraction I felt like I was vomiting poo out of my stomach but through my bum.  So it was time to check my cervix again.

Second stage: Pushing – Another cervix check and I was fully dilated.  It was time to push.  Sharon was explaining to me how pushing was going to feel.  I don’t remember how it happened but I was moved to a lying down position and told that when I felt a contraction I could start to push. But that concept was completely Alien to me. I had no idea what ‘pushing’ should be like. Chris and my Doula grabbed a leg each and pulled them almost back with my knees almost up to my head as I held onto my thighs (trying not to squeeze them). I needed to take a deep breathe in and squeeze from my backside, sort of aiming the squeeze downwards, counting down to ten without screaming or making a noise as I pushed, breathing out as I squeezed really, really hard.  I managed this about two or three times per contraction.  It was hard work. After the contraction stopped  my legs were lowered down and I took a breather, using the oxygen because I was feeling dizzy, I needed to keep breathing.

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The room was slowly filling up with various people, I couldn’t tell you how many people were in the room at that point, but now I knew why the room was so big.  I was told not to worry, but the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) team were there just in case, because we knew that my baby would be small and could have problems.  It didn’t worry me, it made me feel in good hands.

It was hard sometimes to tell when a contraction was coming, they felt less intense than what I had been feeling for the past few hours.  After several pushes my Obstetrician arrived and she started giving directions.  My baby’s heart rate was decelerating, so in between contractions I was shifted and rolled to my left side because the baby didn’t like me being on my back for long.  It was terrifying.  All I could think of was getting this far and having to have an emergency Cesarean to get her out.  I was so determined to push her out and that is all I could think of as I pushed through the pain.

My doctor explained to me that I wasn’t quite fully dilated so she helped pull my cervix down so that the baby could get it’s head through, it was so, so painful.  She was guiding me how to push every time. Everyone in the room was helping me, counting down from ten and encouraged me to keep pushing hard. Eventually she told me I had just two more big pushes, she needed to get baby out ASAP, so she was going to use the vacuum.  We had seen one of these in our birthing class, so I wasn’t afraid of it, just relieved that baby stood a chance of getting out safely, even if it meant help.  My doctor put the vacuum on baby, the tugging that pursued afterwards was incredibly memorable and painful.  One more really big push, I was struggling to feel the timing of the contractions, I felt a big tug from the doctor as she used the vacuum to help baby come out.

The feeling of my baby coming out was amazing, I could feel everything, it didn’t hurt anything close to what I had felt the past 12 hours.  It was an almost euphoric feeling rushing through me.  The pain was now irrelevant. After 37 minutes of pushing, my baby was finally placed on my tummy, she was so warm, wet and gooey.  I looked at my baby, I didn’t cry like I thought I would, I was in complete awe at what had just happened.  The umbilical cord was prepared and Chris cut it, and the baby was taken quickly to the heater to be checked over.

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I started shaking uncontrollably, I was so cold.  But my doctor said this was normal, it was my adrenaline gone crazy.  I was trying to watch what was happening to my baby.  Chris went to the baby to watch what was going on.

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Meanwhile with another contraction I pushed and delivered my placenta, it came out quite easily. I was then quickly stitched up by my doctor because I had a second degree tear.  All of this was part of the labour far more painful than I had anticipated! Although it was mostly a blur, I was exhausted, but on a complete high.

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21 Dec 9.21PM: Welcome baby!!!  And there she was – she was still a girl!  She arrived into the world at 2112 on 12/21 (or 21/12).  She was placed on me for the golden hour of skin to skin.  I cannot explain the feeling of love running through me, the relief that she was finally in my arms.  After everything we had been through over the past few years to get her here, she was now safe in my arms.

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Sharon and Chris helped me with getting her latched on to my breast and she started to feed.  I was so incredibly overwhelmed to be able to breastfeed in that moment.

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It took us a few hours to name her, but we finally agreed upon Aviana Ruby! 

Thank yous. I would like to say a big thank you to all the staff on duty during my labour and delivery at Sentara Princess Anne Hospital and Virginia Beach OBGYN-this team did everything they could for us to safely bring Aviana to us. And of course Sharon from Hampton Roads Doulas, I doubt I would have been able to do it without her amazing skills and knowledge! Finally, my wonderful husband Chris, my partner in crime and my biggest rock in my life, you were incredibly strong through all of this. Thank you, thank you, thank you XX 

Our little Christmas Pudding has arrived

I never thought the end of my Pudding club hunt would come at Christmas. In the UK we typically have Christmas pudding as our dessert at Christmas dinner. I don’t think this could be the most apt end to 2016 on the Great Pudding Club Hunt.

 Aviana Ruby arrived safely on 21st December at 9.21PM (21/12 @ 21:12!!!!) weighing a teeny 5lbs 1oz and measuring a staggering 19.5″ long!!!! 


I will write my birth story another time but quickly here is what happened. I was admitted to the hospital at 9PM on Tuesday 20th December, to be induced at 38 weeks because the doctors felt Aviana would thrive better outside of my body as she was suffering from intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR). I was given Cervidil to ripen my cervix, the doctor likes it to be in for 12 hrs before it is removed (it’s kind of like a tampon thing that hurts like hell). On Wednesday 21st at 10AM our doula arrived and the cervidil was removed. I began labour naturally, so the doctors held off giving me Pitocin, but unfortunately at around lunchtime my contractions slowed down and I had to start the Pitocin induction. 

The contractions got stronger and harder and more painful, but Chris and my Doula coached me through the pain. We tried almost every birthing toy in the box in the hospital and every position possible to survive without pain meds. I started pushing at about 8.45PM. Unfortunately several times Aviana’s heart rate was decelerating dangerously and there were a couple of moments when it looked like C-section was on the cards. At one point all I could think of was do whatever is best for my baby to survive, I don’t care what needs to be done, just save my baby! 

I only pushed for 37mins, but this was mostly because her head was so low already and a lot of amazing work from the team, I was coached to push and she had to be vacuumed out. The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) team were on standby – a terrifying feeling – but they weren’t needed in the end. The feeling of her coming out in the last and final push was euphoric. She was a lovely sticky warm gooey mess and she was placed on my abdomen and Chris cut the cord. Yes she was tiny and super skinny, but her APGAR scores were 8 & 9!! So amazing. We were able to do skin to skin after she was thoroughly checked and NICU team sent away. I was also able to breastfeed within the first hour too. 

On Friday 23rd at lunchtime, we were all discharged from the hospital. Having a pain med free vaginal birth meant I was able to leave earlier than was expected. Many people were surprised at how healthy Aviana was and how quickly we were allowed to leave! When we left Aviana was just 4lbs 12oz. On Christmas Eve we followed up with our pediatrician and she weighed just 4lbs 8ozs, my milk hadn’t come in by then, so we are supplementing breastfeeding with some formula now, hoping she starts to thrive.

Aviana Ruby truly is the best Christmas gift I could ever receive. We have been so fortunate that things have worked out so well despite hurdles thrown at us along the way. My heart is simply full of extreme gratefulness and happiness to finally meet Aviana, AKA Rocky, AKA my little sweet Christmas pudding.


Wishing all of you a Christmas full of love and joy XX

Champagne for Breakfast?

People ask me all the time – What have you craved this pregnancy?  And I can’t answer them, except with what food do I have aversions to….

….Roast chicken, BBQ pizza, lettuce leaves (especially Arugula/Rocket), herby tomato sauces.

In the past few weeks I have slowly been able to add these foods back into my diet.  Except for lettuce leaves.  I am hoping that after Rocky arrives that I get my appetite back for salad!

But interestingly what has also happened in the past few weeks I have woken up with a craving!  Yes I have finally experienced a craving!  This craving appears with no warning, it is sudden, there is nothing around me that makes me think oooooh I fancy some of that, it just appears in my head.  I can smell it, I can taste it, I can imagine it in my hand, I can imagine it slipping down my throat and satisfying my big brain itch I have for…..CHAMPAGNE!  FOR BREAKFAST!!!!

I promise you drinking champagne for breakfast is not something I would ordinarily do…ever really…except for in a bucks fizz or a mimosa.

The cool, crisp bubbles slipping down my throat, making me feel a little giddy from the alcohol has been my one and only craving so far.  And as this is a craving I really shouldn’t be satisfying at this later stage of my pregnancy, I have not given into it. Not that I have champagne lying around my house or that I could go out at at the crack of dawn to buy some – which is just as well really because if Chris woke up to find me drinking champagne (on my own) with my cereal and toast for breakfast, I think he would send me to the mad house!

Rocky….your eviction notice has been handed to you – mummy needs some champagne! Stat!

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