Tuesday, 24 January 2012

20-week scan done and dusted, now 22 weeks and more to tell :)

Well, we had our 20-week scan the day after my surgery, on Friday 13th January and I am pleased to report that the possibly ill-omened date had no bearing on the positivity of the experience.

My surgery, a necessary procedure for the two of us, turned out to be rather more extensive and complicated than first anticipated, but both myself and, more importantly, my baby came through the anaesthetic well and I was able to be released home the same day. I had been told to expect to feel no movement from the little one for at least 24 hours following the anaesthetic, but within three hours of the operation I felt all the little kicks and movements I've grown so accustomed to - it was a wonderful feeling, almost as if my baby knew to reassure me that everything was completely okay.

When Michael and I arrived for the scan the following day, I was a bit of a mixed bag of emotions. Apprehensive in case baby was too sleepy to show movement and to have all the necessary checks done, in a lot of pain from the procedure the day before, but above all else, trembling with excitement at the thought of seeing our baby again and potentially finding out whether we were in for blue or pink! Michael was fantastic, as ever, in providing the sarky reassurance I pretend to scorn but secretly couldn't live without. He had obviously been worried about the two of us as well, but put aside his own concerns to put me at my ease and make me feel better. I don't think he realises how grateful I am for all the support and love he gives me, day in, day out :)

And lo and behold, all my worries about the baby not moving were completely unfounded - in fact, the opposite was true. The sonographer actually had to ask us to leave for ten minutes, because the baby was too active and moving around too much to let her do all of the checks. I felt some weird sense of irrational pride at this; my baby wasn't going to have her fun spoiled by a little thing like a general anaesthetic! Which probably doesn't bode well for us as her parents - her stubbornness apparent even in the womb - but it was incredibly reassuring after being warned about the possible effects the anaesthetic would have upon her.

When we went back in, baby had calmed down enough and the sonographer managed to complete all of her checks, and then she began the process of showing us our baby. The difference in the image detail from the 12-week scan was simply unbelievable; instead of some little blobs that we could just make out as identifying features, we could have no doubt that the shapes we were looking at now amounted to an almost fully-formed and perfect little baby. We saw her move, flexing and kicking out, waving at us, turning somersaults, performing possibly some of the greatest acrobatics I've seen in such a confined space. The sonographer took her time to show us every little part of our baby, from the tiny and perfect little toes, to the intricately detailed spine, to the waving arms and fingers, and finally to the best part of all, our baby's face. She let us see all the minute but entirely flawless facial features, and then amazingly, as we watched in amazement, our baby looked straight at us and proceeded to yawn. I have never seen anything like it before in my life, and I don't think I've ever felt anything move me so much either - it was a beautiful, perfect moment that had me laughing through tears of sheer surreal emotion. The best part of all of this was sharing every incredible moment with Michael, gripping his hand and watching his face light up with the biggest smile when he was looking at his child. It's a moment I don't think we'd ever be able to recreate, and I wouldn't want to try - the memory of that experience is something I will treasure forever.

And then, it came to the vital question. "Would you be able to tell us what we're having?"

The lady scanning me then had quite an extensive look at the 'area' and our baby certainly wasn't being shy. I had an inkling from all my various research into gender scanning so I sort of knew what to look for on the screen, but nothing could have prepared me for her smiling at us and calmly saying, "You're expecting a little girl." The scream that came from me at that point was one of pure glee - I was and still am utterly elated at the thought of having a daughter. I had convinced myself I was having a boy, because Michael's family had assured me that all they had was boys and most others had dismissed this pregnancy as having very little chance of providing a girl... But even though I'd tried to convince myself of boy-ness, all I had been drawn to were girly things, girly names, dreaming about having a little girl - perhaps a mother's intuition? Now, don't get me wrong, I would not have loved a little boy any less, as long as he was healthy and happy then I'd have been over the moon. But I can't lie, I was hoping for a pink bump. And I don't think anything could have hidden my obvious ecstasy in that scan booth!

I think that that knowledge, if anything, has made all of this even more 'real' for both of us now. Before, we were referring to the bump as simply that - 'Bump' or 'baby', almost as some kind of unknown entity. But now, we're able to talk about anything baby-related with the preface of 'her' or 'she'. We can recognise her as a real little person now; an individual, albeit a tiny one. I think we've both responded really well to that, and it really gives me a warm fuzzy feeling when I have a text from Michael that has something about "our daughter" casually thrown in alongside all our normal everyday chitchat. Or when we're sitting together watching television and he just sits idly stroking my belly, or decides to give her a kiss goodnight. It really hits home that  the label of 'couple' doesn't really apply to what we are to each other anymore; instead, we're a family.

So here's the scan image of our daughter at her 20-week scan:

It's a little fuzzy because of the amount of wriggling she was doing, but you can still pick out the little features, in particular her nose and lips. Just perfection!

In other news, we have found a new place to live, yay! The new house has three bedrooms, proper central heating, and a garden for spending time with our little one over the summer. We move in at the end of February and I'm already very excited - I just couldn't relax before, in the knowledge that we might have to 'settle' somewhere undesirable and I didn't want to have to do that to our baby. We have also now got all of the big essentials sorted; pram, cot and moses basket have already been paid for and delivered. For that, I have my dad and Mandy to thank for the lovely Quinny pram, and my mum and John to thank for the gorgeous furniture. My mum has been pretty indispensable throughout my pregnancy - it's been a really tough pregnancy and I'm not going to lie, I have really struggled a lot of the time. But between Michael and my mum, I have always managed to find some strength and positivity, and I hope one day they will understand the massive amounts of gratitude I feel for that.

I'm going to do a few other posts today, mainly with pictures, but I think I'm also going to try some posts about the actual experiences and emotions I'm feeling at the moment. Currently, I'm not sure this blog is as comprehensive a diary as I'd like it to be, so I'm going to attempt to change that. I'm going to try a few pregnancy-related musings and observations, and if anyone has anything in particular they'd like to see me write about, I'd love to hear any and all suggestions.

Thanks for reading, folks :)

Monday, 9 January 2012

This has been far too long... Putting it down to a baby sapping my energy!

Oh dear, so much for me posting daily, eh? In fairness, I have been struggling quite a bit and it's only really in the past couple of weeks that I've started to regain any semblance of energy. That said, I am annoyed at myself for not keeping this up, for both mine and the baby's sake, as I was really hoping to have a lovely full diary to keep as a memento of the time that everything was actually, well, happening.
So, I'm now 19 weeks and 6 days pregnant (officially at the halfway mark tomorrow!) and it feels like the past twenty weeks have been but a mere blur; I find it difficult to make my brain understand that it's now January and I'm going to become a mother, not in a long time, or in the new year, or next year, but this year. The concept is so bizarre that it's hard to exactly define my feelings on it - my brain is a baby-saturated boiling pot with all sorts of emotions whizzing about; a pinch of anxiety here, a dab of sheer terror there, and above all else a humungous dollop of poorly concealed excitement. I'm scared, undoubtedly, about a million things (What if my baby hates me? What if I'm a crappy mother? What if I don't know what to do and the baby ends up with a nappy for a hat and the poo goes everywhere?), but the fear is far outweighed by the wonderful thought that in just twenty weeks' time, I will have my baby here. I really can't wait! I can't wait to meet him/her, and see who they look like - which features they've taken from me and which have come from Michael. I'm really looking forward to being that little person's mummy, and I just hope I'm worthy of the title.

Maybe we should do a little recap of the past few weeks, since I haven't posted since the 10 week scan, and a lot has happened since then!

So two weeks after the last post, we had our 12 week scan and saw our teeny tiny little one in far greater detail, and for a longer time. It's insane, when watching the screen, to reconcile the idea that what we were seeing on the monitor was actually what was happening in my tummy that very second... Yes, Rachael, there is actually a baby in there! Thankfully, everything looked beautifully healthy and the blood test results came back with nothing to worry about.

Here's the image we received of our baby at 12 weeks and 1 day:

Now, what next? Well, after the scan came the hassle of switching medical practices because we had moved, and subsequently changing midwives. Sounds simple, but if you're like me and thought this would be a smooth transition, you'd be wrong. Cue lots of phonecalls on my part, and no response or acknowledgement on the midwife's. When I did eventually reach a real live talking person and not the lovely robotic voice of an answering machine, I was informed that I did have an appointment - but it had been that very morning, so I had missed it. Aaaaaaargh! It was eventually resolved, thankfully, and the midwife that I was finally assigned to does seem lovely, so fingers crossed we have a relatively smooth process from here on in.

While dealing with all of this nonsense, I had still been suffering fairly badly from morning sickness. The term 'morning sickness' in itself is so misleading - believe me, it does not choose to restrict itself to the morning only! The problem I found most difficult was the extreme nausea, which sometimes made it difficult even to stay upright for prolonged periods of time, without needing to lay back down. I also found a resurgence in the intense migraines I used to suffer through my childhood and teens, caused presumably by the surging of pregnancy hormones. The symptoms were probably made even worse by the fact I couldn't take my usual migraine medication. It's really a recipe for quite an unhappy Rachael. Thankfully for me, by around the 16 week mark the symptoms were starting to alleviate, and I no longer had to consider the inside of the toilet bowl as my closest friend (although it will be a time I'll remember forever, fondly or otherwise...). I feel like I'm starting to get a little bit of a life back after spending four months essentially as a recluse. I've seen friends, I've been to places other than my work and my bed, and it's sad to say I'm quite triumphant about that!

Now that I'm feeling better, I'm also noticing a lot more movement. I'm sure the baby is turning somersaults in there as the main thing I'm experiencing is a rolling sensation, very difficult to describe without my very impressive descriptive hand gestures! I had my first proper kicks the other night - three little thuds one after the other, almost as if he/she was chapping on my belly to say hello. Later on the same evening, Michael got to feel the baby moving for the first time and the look on his face was priceless :) for me, it was one of the nicest moments we've shared as a couple.

I also have a tiny bump now, woo!

Here it is at 18+5:

And here it is yesterday at 19+5 (amazing the difference in the space of a week):

I feel so proud of my little bump, it may not be very big but I find myself unconsciously stroking or cupping my tummy; it seems to be some sort of comfort gesture. I do feel very protective over my stomach now - I'm very aware of anything near it, and it's amazing the amount of love you begin to feel for a being you don't even know yet. I'm not the most maternal person in the world, I'm not what you would typically perceive as a 'baby' person, but the instincts are most definitely there and awaiting this little being to nurture.

In other news, I'm having to go for an operation this Thursday which I am not looking forward to in the slightest, but as it's related to the pregnancy and is quite important, it's a procedure that needs to be done. I've already been told it will have to be a general anaesthetic, something I've never had in my life, let alone whilst pregnant. I'm worried about the prospect of surgery in general anyway, but my main concern is that I really don't like the idea of putting my baby under an anaesthetic as well. I've been reassured that the risks are minimal, but being a natural worrier the fact that there are risks at all bothers me. I'm going to ask to be kept in overnight, so that they can monitor the baby too as I know if I were to be sent home I'd do nothing but panic. Fingers crossed, everything will go to plan and I'll have overreacted as usual.

My 20-week scan is also this week, the day after my surgery. Hopefully, we will still be able to have the scan as normal, although we have been warned that the baby may not be very co-operative and may not be moving much due to the anaesthetic. I hope our little one won't be too sleepy, so the appropriate checks can be done, and we'd also really love to be able to find out what we're having - so I can then start buying pink or blue accordingly! I'm pretty convinced it's a little boy now, although I'm not sure if that's just because both mine and Michael's family have said that from the start. Whatever we have, boy, girl, alien, monkey - as long as they are happy and healthy, we will be overjoyed. And hey, I'm sure the monkey thing would get us some pretty sweet deals with the tabloid newspapers; I might even become as famous as that bloke with the womb.

There's also other normal things like the buying of the pram (I love it!) and the choosing of the furniture but that's not so important right now, although very exciting in it's own right for me. The other big news that we have at the moment is that Michael and I have recently become engaged, after he proposed to me in one of my very favourite places - at the very top of the ferris wheel of the Christmas winter wonderland in Edinburgh. With this and the baby on the way, it might be cheesy but I really couldn't be happier :D Everything feels pretty perfect, although I feel like I'm jinxing it by even typing that! In all seriousness though, I'm happy. We're also moving house in the next month or so, so that we're in a better place for when the baby arrives, and we have three flat viewings this week too. Onwards and upwards!

Here's the ring!

And here's one of the two of us together on Boxing Day:

Well, since this has been an incredibly long and rambling post, I'll leave it there for now and I'll hopefully update again once I've had the operation and scan this week. I'm considering posting some pregnancy related observations/musings, as well as my own experiences as I've encountered a few interesting things along the way. But again, that's for another day! :) x

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

So, now we've seen our baby for the first time!

So, it's been a little while (far too long actually) since I've updated; being back at work is really taking it out of me and I'm not exaggerating when I say I don't even have the energy to write a blog by the end of the day!

Well, exactly a week ago today, we went to our first ultrasound scan and saw the baby for the very first time :) I'm a little earlier than we, or anyone else expected - the midwife had given me a likely estimated due date of the 11th of May, possibly the 22nd. But the scan put my EDD at 31st of May, making me only 10 weeks along, and I was told to come back in two weeks for my proper 12 week scan.

I was initially a little disappointed that I wasn't as far along as I had thought I was (it means an extra 2 weeks to worry until we're out of the 'danger zone'!), but then I thought about it and realised we were actually pretty lucky. Being a little earlier at the first scan just means that we got to see our teeny tiny little baby that little bit earlier, we'll have three opportunities instead of two to know that she/he is developing normally and healthily, and we'll get three all-important scan photos instead of the standard two!

So, without further ado, here is our gorgeous, eeny weeny baby :)

How cute!? To think, in this photo, the baby is roughly the size of a grape - that's just insane.

It was such an incredible experience to witness him/her on screen... I know it sounds ridiculous, but even though I knew, of course, that ultrasounds are not static; the baby moves on screen, you get so used to seeing the still images from friends/family etc, that it was a bit of a shock (albeit a pleasant one) to see the baby actually in motion on the monitor. I couldn't believe, and I'm sure Michael was the same, that we were witnessing our baby wriggling around in front of our eyes, at one point his/her little hand was up and waving at us; it was just the most surreal, and beautiful thing I've ever experienced.

Since having the scan last week I have to keep looking at the picture, and looking at my name at the top, just to reassure myself that the little bundle in the picture is actually my baby. It's so crazy to think this little being is swimming around in my tummy right now, there's really a baby in there! The word 'pregnant' had been bandied around so much before the scan that I was almost used to it, but I think it took actually seeing the ultrasound to fully appreciate that Michael and I had really, truly created a baby - and that we were going to be parents. It was quite an overwhelming realisation, but also a very comforting, lovely one. One of the best things about the whole day though, was seeing how happy Michael was at the scan. That boy is such a closed book, and it was so amazing to see how genuinely delighted he was - he came out grinning from ear to ear, and it's so good to know for definite now that he's just as happy about becoming a daddy as I am about becoming a mummy. He'll be fantastic, I know he will.

In other news, it was my birthday a few days before the scan so - we went shopping! And as you can probably imagine, I couldn't possibly leave without buying something for the baby... Michael pretended not to approve, but I think secretly he found them very cute too. Here's some of our first buys for the new addition:

                                                                    Bear hat!

                                                  Little comforter with teddy bear.

                                                         "I love Mummy and Daddy"

                                                           Some simple basics. :)

Oh I do love baby clothes! The grandparents have already started - my mum and stepmum have both been ferretting away bits and pieces - our child is going to be sooo spoiled, and I'm positive they'll have a better wardrobe than I do by the time he/she's born!

Today is my last morning of work and then I have eight lovely days off, which will be very gratefully received. Michael and I are off to the Cameron House on Loch Lomond this weekend with his parents, Norma and Gerry. They have a timeshare up there so we're going to spend a couple of nights and have some lovely relaxation, I really cannot wait. The setting of the hotel is beautiful and this time of year will be just stunning; really looking forward to just soaking it all up and enjoying the fresh air. See baby, you are being taken on luxury weekends before you are even born ;)

After that, we'll have our 12 week scan a week today (Wednesday 16th) and I cannot wait to see our baby again and spend more time with him/her. I'm going to try my best to update more regularly, but it's ciao for now from me and the bump :)


Friday, 14 October 2011

Baby's first teddy has been bought...

So yes, it's a bit naughty, but I have the first in what will probably be a very large collection of teddies and toys (I really do have a problem, I can't help myself).

Here's a sneaky peek :)

Isn't this the most adorable thing!? I love the whole Jellycat range, I think we'll probably be getting a lot more over the next few months - they're so reasonably priced, as well as being ridiculously cute.

I want to get a proper, collectable teddy bear for the baby as well. I had a special teddy from my grandparents when I was born, and Michael has a teddy bear that is still special, and I'd like our baby to have that too. So far I've looked at the usual suspects, Steiff, Gund, Hamleys etc, but in my search I found a relatively new collectors' range, called Charlie Bears. They're just gorgeous, and actually relatively cheap for a collectors item.

These are a couple of examples of what a Charlie Bear looks like, I think they're beautiful but Michael is yet to be convinced...

                                                                       Charlie Bear 'Riley'

                                                                     Charlie Bear 'Hector'

Well, I really love them. We've been looking at prams, cots and furniture sets today as well. We're going to be so overprepared, in the practical sense, and totally underprepared in every other sense!

Illness slightly better today, but still difficult to sit upright for too long.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Time for an update... Sick as a dog!

I've been spending most of my time with my head down the toilet at the moment, not fun and I'm trying very hard to keep positive and see a light at the end of the tunnel!

I've been missing out on pay at work as a result of physically not being able to go in, and I am getting concerned about the safety of my job if it continues, as I don't have a contract. The stress of that is just adding to the general level of crapness that I'm feeling at the moment.

I'm just clinging on to the fact that my baby's okay, I can struggle on and muddle through with the sickness; my baby's safe and healthy and that's the priority. It's so surreal, how attached to and protective I am of this tiny little thing already. It's really difficult to believe that there is a baby in my tummy at the moment, I can't wait until the bump comes along (although I know I'll probably regret saying that when I'm lugging that weight around in the final few months!)

Bleh, I really am hoping with the next update I'll be more well, and more positive!

Friday, 7 October 2011

First bout of actual morning sickness today.

And it's left me feeling pretty weak and completely devoid of energy :( I had to take the day off work which wasn't great but there was no way I was going to be able to sit in the office, feeling the way I am.

But Michael picked up those sea sickness bands for me, because he's lovely like that, and I think they're starting to work. Which is good for me, since I'm supposed to be training on a whole-day bus tour tomorrow! At least as a member of staff I get to sit in the jump-seat, so that I can see straight out the front window.

I am getting more and more excited about the scan though, and while I know I'm not supposed to be looking at baby clothes yet... Look how cute these are!!


I cannot wait til we can start buying this stuff, I'm going to be an expectant-mummy-zilla :)

My mum's going to a psychic night this evening and she's hoping that her dad, my grandpa, will 'come through'. I don't know how much I believe in all that stuff, but I do like to think that Grandpa's watching over us all, and now, our baby. It gives me a sense of security that may well be silly, but gives me comfort nonetheless.

I'm getting to tell my brother and sister tonight, which I'm looking forward to. They are 12 and 10 respectively, so still very young to be auntie and uncle, but hopefully the response will be a good one. My brother, Callum, absolutely loves babies, so I think he'll really be excited at the prospect of being an uncle, and my sister Eva is very laid back so she'll probably just be nonplussed. We're hoping as well that the thought of becoming an uncle might calm Callum down, as he's had some trouble with school recently. Me and his mum (my stepmum Mandy) are hoping it might give him some responsibility.

Hopefully when I next report, my siblings will know, and this sickness will have calmed a bit.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Appointment for first midwife consultation and scan!

Wooo :)

My first appointment with the midwife is going to be at 9.30am on the 2nd of November, so only really three weeks away! We've to allow 1-2 hours for the consultation, and then the first scan is at 3.05pm on the same day :D

Depending on how far along I am, I might get another scan after that, but if I'm already at the 10/11 week mark that'll count as my first scan.

Michael will obviously be coming with me, but I think my mum is going to take us down as parking at our hospital is awful. I'm so happy that my mum's really coming round to the idea and seems to be quite looking forward to having a little grandbaby! The level of support we have is fantastic, and I'm so glad that everyone seems to be looking forward to meeting our little bundle.

And, I'm glad we now have a date to work towards... 2nd of November here we come!