Tag Archives: Pregnancy

Third trimester

I can’t believe the third trimester is here. Today I was thinking back to that moment when a tiny bundle of 8 cells, invisible to the naked eye, was transferred to my womb. Now 6 month later I’m constantly feeling the baby kicks and my bump is growing ever bigger. How amazing it is. And still unbelievable despite the fact that it is also so very real.

I haven’t been blogging for quite some time, because I haven’t had much to write about that has any relevance to what this blog is about. Life has not been so easy lately, but I’m trying hard not to let it overshadow the joy of finally expecting a baby after years of infertility. Therefore I also don’t want to use this space to write about those other things in life that can be difficult.

All I can say is that life’s challenges are definitely not easier to deal with when you are pregnant. The hormones are doing their bit, I’m sure, to significantly lower my ability to cope. In addition it’s hard to deal with the fact that our situation is not how you would want things to be when you are about to have a baby. That overwhelms me with sadness and worry sometimes. Praying for a job for hubby and our own place to live.

Nevertheless, expecting a baby is also giving us a much stronger sense of meaning and purpose than we have ever had before. Yes life can be a struggle, but at least now we are fighting for something more than just ourselves.


Booking appointment and kicks

Today I’m 23 weeks and as of yesterday finally all booked in for maternity care in London. The booking-in appointment at the hospital antenatal clinic where I self-referred was at 8:30 in the morning and we ended up being late… Traffic was horrendous meaning that a 15 minute journey ended up taking almost an hour. Welcome to London! ūüôā

Anyway once we got there we were seen by a midwife who booked me in by spending ages asking loads of questions about our social and medical history. They took all the blood tests and did a quick scan since I’m still not in possession of my records or test/screening results and scan reports ¬†from Amsterdam. I have tried calling and also sent a letter recorded delivery. Still no response. It makes me wonder if my file is still missing… But maybe at this point it does not really matter much anymore.

The midwife booking me in did not seem to know anything about the issue with the marginal insertion of the cord which the obstetrician in Amsterdam told us represented a risk at birth. But because it’s an IVF pregnancy it seems to be standard practice here to provide¬†obstetrician-led care at the hospital antenatal clinic all the way through, i.e. both antenatal care and birth. So as far as we understood this means I will mainly be seeing obstetricians rather than midwifes. The first appointment with an obstetrician is in two weeks. Hopefully we will then be able to get the issue with the cord investigated further (see update below). Although the ultra sound technician who did the quick scan yesterday told us that it’s not something they normally check for in the UK. I am also curious why an IVF pregnancy is viewed as a risk factor generally (see update below). We have not heard this before and since it’s not a twin pregnancy I wonder what it’s all about. Has anyone else been told there are more risks associated with IVF pregnancies then normal pregnancies?

Regardless, I’m happy to be offered consultant-led care at the hospital in any case. It’s not that I’m particularly worried. I just prefer medical professionals with as much knowledge as possible.

All that aside, everything seems to be going great with my pregnancy! My bump is growing and the scan yesterday revealed that our baby boy is indeed growing as he should. I’m feeling his kicks and movements daily and it’s absolutely amazing. My husband has been able to feel them from the outside as well for the last 2 weeks or so. The kicks are getting stronger by the day and I love it every time he gives me that little sign of life. It’s a strange, fascinating and wondrous sensation. That combined with my growing bump makes it so much more real.

*Update: Two weeks after the booking-in appointment we got to see a consultant, but it did not yield any more information about the umbilical cord issue. Apparently here in the UK they do not regard marginal insertion as a problem and we were thus more or less told not to worry about it. They do however view IVF pregnancies in general as more risky – particularly with regards to being overdue which they said involves a higher risk of stillbirths. They are therefore planning to induce me at 38 weeks.

Read more about about marginal insertion of umbilical cord here: http://www.jultrasoundmed.org/content/21/6/627.full.pdf+html

20 weeks, anomaly scan and relocation stress

On Friday the 30th of March I hit the half-way point in my pregnancy! An amazing milestone-day which we spent relocating from Amsterdam in the Netherlands to London in the UK. This meant getting up before the crack of dawn, load a rented moving van with all our stuff and drive all day (except for the two hours on the ferry crossing the channel).

The last few weeks have been extremely stressful dealing with everything an international move involves on top of being quite busy with some freelance work I’ve got on at the moment. So I have been pretty absent from the blog-world.

The stress has mounted further due to uncertainties ¬†around our new life in London, both with regards to jobs and housing. The latter meant that we could not bring our much loved cats which we have had for 6 years since we rescued them from wild as kittens. We could not find anyone we knew to take them and we also could not bring ourselves to just leave them in a cat shelter for adoption. So a week before the move we travelled all the way to my parent’s farm on a small island in Denmark with the cats. It was a 12 hour journey by air, train and ferry to get there, but the cats handled it well all things considered. They are now trying to adjust to a new life as outdoor farm cats and we miss them terribly! Not a night goes by where I don’t dream about them in some way or another.

By now I’m both physically and mentally exhausted from it all. Although my husband has been extremely vigilant in making sure I did not lift anything heavy in the process, a move like this really cannot be recommended while pregnant. But such is life. There was no way around it for us. The move to London had already been postponed since September due to the urgency with getting started on IVF.

A few days before the move we went to the hospital for the 20 week anomaly scan. The good news is that everything is absolutely perfect with the baby!! And it looks like we are probably having a boy. The ultrasound technician was not a 100% sure, but more or less so. We had not had any energy or space in our heads to be even just a little bit nervous before the scan. We just went in looking forward to see the baby again since it had been 6 weeks since the last scan. It was beautiful and amazing to see how much development and growth had been going on in that time. Although my growing bump indicated as much. In fact a few days before the scan at 19 weeks I was offered a seat in the tram for the first time. It took me by complete surprise but made me smile and feel the happiness of being pregnant.

Right after the scan we saw the obstetrician to interpret the results and only then did we become aware that not everything was completely perfect. Apparently the umbilical cord is attached to the side of the placenta rather than in the centre as normal. Thinking back I do remember the ultrasound technician having trouble finding where the umbilical cord was attached at first, but she did not indicate that it isn’t normal. It is apparently called ‘marginal insertion¬†of the umbilical cord’ as far as I have been able to find out consulting Dr. Google and occur in about 7% of pregnancies. What the implications could be is quite unclear to us at the moment. The obstetrician did not go into any detail other than mentioning that it could cause problems at birth because of risk of rupture if the cord is pulled since it’s more vulnerable than normal. In addition my google research has thrown up the potential risk of restricted growth later in pregnancy.

In the consultation however, we did not press for more information which we should have done of course. I could have kicked myself afterwards. But it was a doctor we had not seen before, he was rushing because the scan had taken longer than expected making us late for the consultation with him and generally he did not seem to care. On top of that he did not have our file… apparently it’s location was unknown. This was particularly irritating since we had been promised a copy of the file to take with us to the UK, incl. a letter in English detailing the results of the tests and screenings carried out so far. Needless to say we were quite distracted by this misplacement of our file and having to leave our last appointment there without any documentation of the pregnancy so far. All in all it was a bit much to deal with in the middle of the moving chaos.

The doctor promised that the papers would be sent to us in the UK, but of course that has still not happened. Yesterday I managed to get myself registered with a GP (family doctor) here in London and learned that they will not acknowledge the pregnancy until all tests have been done all over with them. First step is taking a urine sample to the chemist to get it tested to prove that I am pregnant… ¬†I couldn’t stop laughing. I’m 20 weeks and 5 days along, I’m clearly showing and I’ve had 4 ultrasounds scans by now and countless blood tests. But hey none of that matters – they won’t take my word for it. I need to prove it with a positive urine test administered by the local chemist… To top it all off I could not get an appointment anytime soon to get the ball rolling. Not a nice situation if something should happen. I’ve got no midwife or obstetrician to call in case of any concerns or emergencies. And I really want to get this thing with the umbilical cord investigated further and know more about the potential implications and risks.

Today we went to our chosen hospital and managed to self-refer for their antenatal clinic. We filled in a form which will then go to the referral department which means a two week wait for a first appointment. But at least it’s in process and skips the waiting time to get an appointment with the GP and then the time it would take with whatever tests he want’s to do before even referring me.

So here we are. Stressed out by all the implications of relocating ¬†while pregnant and living temporarily with my husband’s family in the midst of the chaos of the unpacked boxes that are not in storage.

But we will get there. Things will work themselves out as they always do somehow or another. Our situation at the moment is far from ideal, but in the end of the day it doesn’t matter in the grander scheme of things. I have made it half way through my pregnancy and our baby is looking healthy and well! What more could we wish for!!

A strange week

I’m 15 weeks pregnant today and there is nothing new or different to report. Or in other words, I have no idea what’s going on but I hope everything is good! I wasn’t planning on writing, but I suddenly felt like it. When I decided to start this blog 6 month ago after living with infertility for years, I had no idea that it would lead me into discovering an amazing community of fellow bloggers on the same or similar journeys.¬†It has shown me that I’m not alone; that there are people out there who understand my feelings and experiences with infertility and treatment in ways that nobody else can. I have the privilege of being able to read and follow the stories of others who go through this.

In the process, I have come to care about those of you whose’s blogs I follow in a way that I had never imagined. I have never meet any of you in so-called ‘real’ life, but as it turns out the virtual world is as real as any other space where the potential for connecting with others can be created. Maybe even more so in our particular case, because we share the most intimate thoughts, feelings and bodily experiences. It amazes me how powerful sharing of common experience is – maybe particularly the common experience of struggling to start a family.

This week I have realized the full extent of what that really means. I have cried tears of sorrow for Mo who lost her little boy at 22 weeks. And I have waited anxiously to hear news from Bachelor’s button¬†who had her twins delivered by C-section at 28 weeks because her baby girl suffered from intrauterine growth restriction.¬†Delivering now was the only chance of survival for her little girl, but would at the same time also put her little boy in danger. Now they are both fighting for their life in¬†NICU. I’m sending all my hopes and prayers!

I can’t even begin to imagine what Mo and her husband are going through grieving the loss of their baby boy. Or what Bachelor’s button and her husband have been and are still going through. Or what Ozifrog, who is on bed-rest because of serious pregnancy complications, is going through. Or any of you who are or have been experiencing loss. I have been so fortunate not to experience loss or the imminent danger of it, but I nevertheless feel with you so much in your pain and worry.

When I was crying for Mo’s loss earlier this week, my husband asked me if it was making me worried about our baby – that something could also go wrong with my pregnancy. I thought about it for a bit, but realized that that was not it! I wasn’t feeling sad for what could potentially happen to me. I was feeling sad for Mo and her loss. I was feeling sad because life can sometimes be so cruel that it’s beyond belief. I was feeling sad because it is so horrible that one of us, who has struggled so much, has been robbed yet again of the dream of having a child and been put through another devastating loss.

I think all of us, who experience infertility, feel the collective pain of what we all go through. Whether it is loss and/or not being able to get pregnant in the first place. I just never realized it until I became part of this online community.

In stark contrast, this week also brought me an experience of not belonging and not being able to relate. Yesterday my husband and I went to one of those pregnancy & baby fairs that we had ended up with free tickets for when buying prenatal vitamins. We decided to go and have a look, since we have not looked at any baby-stuff yet. At all whatsoever.

I think I’m still processing the experience… It was so overwhelming. All we ended up buying was two bottles of sparkling alcohol-free wine. We did look at prams and strollers, but not in a very hands-on kind of way. I just couldn’t really relate to it all. I know I’m pregnant and I’m overjoyed and incredibly thankful, but it’s as if my mind has still not registered it. I can’t think like a pregnant woman. I can’t see myself with a pram or a stroller.¬†I didn’t feel like one of them – the pregnant women. I felt like someone who shouldn’t be there. I couldn’t identify.

On top of that I was absolutely shocked at how commercialized pregnancy and babies are. It can’t imagine ever needing most of the things being sold for babies. But it seems like for a lot of women being pregnant means a whole new world of shopping opportunities. We even saw a couple walking around¬†with a tiny little new born baby…¬†amongst such crowds and frenzy that it was almost too much for me to bear. At 9pm! The baby looked so startled and confused, I still can’t forget it. Why take a new born to a shopping fair? And casually carry it around on your arm amongst crowds of people, noise and frenzy?

In all of it I kept thinking; this is not what it’s all about. It’s not about shopping baby stuff. Being pregnant and having a baby is about something so incredible and amazing that I can’t even express it or fully understand it. It’s about a love greater than any other. I know you don’t have to have experienced infertility to know and feel that. Far from it. But I do think that it makes it so painfully clear and intense in a way that cuts right to the bone. I can’t and I don’t want to think about shopping for stuff. I don’t need a fancy stroller. All the fuss and all the wrapping paper doesn’t interest me. I just want to meet and hold this special soul in my arms in August and experience him/her grow and live!

Looking back on a long journey

There is something special about February. It’s the month of love. It’s the month we first met on a dance floor in London 9 years ago in 2003. It’s the month we decided we wanted to start a family 3 years later in 2006. It was so special and romantic for us to make that decision then. Little did we know what kind of journey lay ahead and that wanting to have children is something completely different from actually being able to make it happen. Now, 6 years later, it’s February again and I have entered the realm of the 2nd trimester of my first pregnancy.

February now feels more magical than ever before. But it also makes me think back on all those years of living with unexplained infertility and going through fertility treatment. These 6 years have changed me and us forever. I can’t imagine myself and our life any other way. We have learned that life is unpredictable and beyond our control. We have learned that nothing can or should be taken for granted. We have learned that it is possible to be happy even when life is turning out so differently from what we had imagined. We have learned that resisting what is only creates more suffering. At the same time, we have also learned that there are subtle, but very important, differences between denial and acceptance. We have learned that there is a time to let go and rest, but that there is also a time to start fighting again. We have learned that living outside the social norm is difficult, especially when you have had no choice in the matter, but also liberating. It teaches you to find your own way and to make conscious choices about who you are and how you want to live within the limits of whatever life is handing you. It has make us stronger and closer as a couple.

To put it differently, we have learned that being involuntarily ‘stuck’ in a liminal life state like infertility for years is painful on many levels, but also transformational. Looking back on my posts prior to IVF and pregnancy, I did know this when we were still in the trenches (see for instance this post), but only tentatively. It is much easier to reflect on it now when I’m no longer in the same state. As I do so, I realize to my surprise that I¬†don’t actually wish that these years had been any different or that we had been spared the long journey to get to this point. I also realize that the only reason I can feel and say this is because the liminal state of infertility has effectively ended for us. For now at least. Over the course of the first three month of pregnancy I have transitioned into a new state – that of pregnancy. We have not become parents yet, but for the first time ever we are actually on our way there. We can see the light at the end of tunnel. This last stage of the journey is significantly different from any of the stages that have come before because the creation of a new life is no longer theoretical and impossible. It is happening. A new life is coming into being slowly and steadily with every day that passes.

We resisted IVF for a long time, but in the end it was IVF that made the miracle possible. Yesterday we went for the NT scan* and got to see our little miracle dancing again. He/she was making it very difficult to get the measurements done because of all the moving around. As the technician was waiting patiently for the right position we had lots of time to enjoy the show and revel in the representation of our miracle on the screen. I’m still in awe. I still can’t quite grasp that it’s really happening, because it has seemed like a complete impossibility for so long. But I’m getting there slowly. More so now when the morning sickness has lessened because I’m functioning more normally again. We have not looked at baby stuff or anything like that yet, but a few days ago I started looking at websites of hospitals in London to try to get an idea of where to give birth since we are moving there. As I was watching a little video that took you on a tour of a birth center, tears started streaming down my face. It was hitting me. It’s happening, it’s real. I’m pregnant. We are going to have a baby.

*Update 16/2-2012:¬†We received a letter two days after the scan with the assessment of the risk for Down’s Syndrome etc. based on the combination of blood results, NT measurement (1.1) and my age (37). The risk was assessed to be 1 in 11000, which is reassuringly low for my age.¬†

The 11 week dance

My husband has a fantastic record collection (good old-fashion vinyl) and the last couple of weeks he has been spinning his jazz, soul and funk tunes like crazy, because as he puts it – you have to start music education as early as possible… ūüôā I’m not complaining. It’s candy for the ears, makes you move and soothes the soul!

We know of course that it’s too early for our little one to actually hear anything, but today at the second ultra sound we could not help but wonder. He/she has sure got the moves! We were treated to the greatest dance show I have ever experienced. It was so funny and amazing. I still can’t stop smiling and tapping my feet to the music coming from the living room.

Nauseous as I am, I just need to take one look at that ultra sound picture to remind myself that it is all real and more than worth it. Everything is going well with the pregnancy and I feel so grateful, thankful, amazed and all kinds of other things I don’t know how to express. This scan in particular has definitely kick-started the bonding.

Thank you all for the supporting comments on my ‘morning sickness’ post. While I’m still puking away, I have asked the guilt to move out and instead I’m just trying to accept that I feel crap at the moment and it’s ok to feel drained physically and mentally and it’s ok to voice it. I had lost a bit of weight which is not exactly what I need, but it was not alarming. On an emotional level the scan today has helped boost morale enormously and there is just two weeks to go for the next scan (NT). By then I will hopefully be feeling better.

My battle with all day ‘morning sickness’

I have been discussing back and forth with myself for a while now whether to write about my current struggles. Somehow it feels wrong not to write about it because of how powerfully it dominates my experience of pregnancy and everyday life at the moment. On the other hand it also feels wrong to use this space to ‘complain’ about anything related to pregnancy. I’m afraid it might be hurtful to those of you who are still trying and going through the trials and tribulations of fertility treatment. If you think it might, please stop reading.

I feel guilty and sad that I’m not able to enjoy my pregnancy at the moment. Instead I’m worn out physically and mentally from being sick (i.e. throwing up) and nauseous constantly – every day, all day for nearly a month now. I will spare you any more of the details, but I feel like I’m being put through some kind of grueling initiation ritual.

Throughout the years of living with infertility, pregnancy seemed somehow to be an elusive, inconceivable dream destination. I never thought too much about or researched what it might be like between the point of getting a positive test result and giving birth (that scary and wonderful part). In reality, pregnancy is obviously not the destination. It’s yet another necessary and, as it turns out, difficult part of the process that will hopefully lead to us having a baby.

Physically, I’m feeling much worse than I ever did during IVF. This, to be honest, is actually a bit of a shock. Maybe I just assumed I would be one of the lucky ones who don’t suffer too badly with nausea etc. Or maybe I just never thought about it. Naturally the entire focus was on getting to this point, not what might come after. Before, the most difficult part was¬†the fear that you might never become a parent and that you were going through all that for nothing. This is the big difference. No matter how difficult times are for me right now, I have something I never had before – concrete reason ¬†to believe that it really will be worth it in the end.

Nevertheless, it’s not just a matter of feeling rubbish physically. What is really getting to me is the effect it is having on my emotional state. I’m realizing how difficult it is to keep your spirits up when you are suffering physically. I want to be happy and feel the joy of finally being pregnant. But I hardly can most of the time. I try to conjure up the moment of seeing that heart beat on ultra sound and feel the joy and amazement, but it feels like ages ago. The fact that I am pregnant feels abstract to me in some way. I have to really focus my mind on it to get even the slightest sense of joy and to remind myself how lucky, grateful and thankful I am to even be pregnant at all. That I might be suffering right now, but it’s all for a good cause and that the chances that we will have a baby are now as high as ever. Most of the time though, being sick just takes over in such a dominating way that there seems to be no space or energy for anything else. Every single day everything is about the very immediate battle of eating and keeping it down. The only advantage being that I also don’t have much space for worry in my head.

I know it will ease off in a couple of weeks (hopefully) and I know it’s no big deal and nothing to fuss about – in the grander scheme of things. But I feel worn out¬†nonetheless.