40 weeks: Pregnancy Update (OVERDUE)

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Taken at 39 weeks!

Oh my, it’s been almost a month since I last updated. Life has got somewhat hectic recently – plus there have been lots of changes! I have started maternity leave, our kitchen was gutted and replaced, my parents are in the country and … erm, I’m still pregnant. Yes, it seems Baby Bug may need a bit of a push (and a shove) to get him out. I’m now going more by my dates (which are 40+4) than the NHS dates as they make me feel better.

In other news, I was somehow, crazily nominated in the MAD Blog Awards for Best Pregnancy Blog. To whoever nominated me: THANK YOU! I absolutely was not expecting it (and thoroughly do not deserve it) and it was such a lovely, wonderful thing to have happen.

Weeks: 40 + 4 (my dates) / 41 + 2 (NHS)

New developments:
I am overdue. My actual dates have now become quite a bit more important because I knew my dates within a 48 hour time period – but, when we had the scan, they bought the dates forward by a few days so due date was 21 March rather than 26-27 March. I know this may seem trivial but, when you’re really, really pregnant, it becomes really, really important. It means that, today, I’m 4 days overdue rather than a week and 2 days.

Importantly, it also means that they are talking about inducing me earlier than I believe necessary. I also don’t want to be induced but that’s a whole other story. My takeaway lesson from this is, if you know your dates, highlight this earlier as it’s easier to discuss it when you’re not the size of a house and desperate for baby to arrive.

Symptoms:
I received a bit of an annoying blow last week when I was told I tested positive for Group Strep B (GSB). I was told, however, that they weren’t sure if the sample had been contaminated or not. Argh.

For those who haven’t heard of it, GSB is a pretty common bacteria which CAN – in rare circumstances – cause newborns to be quite seriously sick. For this reason, women who test positive are given IV antibiotics during labour and bub needs to be monitored afterward. It’s not a massive deal but it will (would) mean that I have to go to the labour ward (old and crap) not the birth centre (new and swish) at my hospital.

However, as mentioned, there was some confusion over whether the sample was contaminated so I have taken a five day course of antibiotics and, today, given another urine sample to see if it comes back clear or not. It does mean that, if I go into labour before the results come back in a couple of days, I’ll need the IV antibiotics as a precaution. So I’m now in the weird position where I’m overdue but really hoping bub gives me two extra days so I can get the all clear!

Apart from that, I’m huge – so sleeping, walking, breathing, eating is all, as you can imagine, SUPER FUN.

I’ve been having loads of practice contractions, a show, bub is super engaged…and yet, nothing. No cigar.

Sickness:
Nausea is back intermittently.

Cravings:
Randomly, I’ve developed a sudden, unending love of grapefruit. Grapefruit has not really featured massively in my life before but, suddenly, at around 39 weeks, I insisted we go and get one (someone on Four in a Bed ate one and I was insanely jealous) and I haven’t looked back.

Bump:
See pic above (which was at 39 weeks – it’s got bigger!).

Maternity fashion:
I am living in leggings. A lot of my tops are now a bit too tight. I bought two long-line cardigans which I adore. My Mum also bought me a massive pink hoodie which is my at-home uniform. Suffice to say: I’m not going to be winning any fashion awards.

Anything else:
I have a midwife appointment tomorrow and plan to have another sweep (I had one last week). I’ve also had to book an induction date which is Sunday (3 April). However, I’m planning to see if they’ll be happy to do the continuous monitoring thing for a while given my dates are slightly off (on Sunday, I will be 41+1).

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35 weeks: Pregnancy Update

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Un-glamorous work bathroom selfie at 35 weeks!

Weeks: 35 (NHS) / 34 + 2 (my dates)

New developments:
I’m 35 weeks, according to the NHS! This feels like a mini-milestone although I’m not sure why. Perhaps being, honestly, in the midst of hyperemesis hell, I truly did not believe that I’d ever get to this stage. It seemed so far away and every day seemed so interminably miserable. So, wow, amazing to be here.

Bug is still pretty boisterous. I’m not entirely sure when he sleeps as I feel like he is constantly awake and kicking me. He loves doing the odd roll also, which, literally, takes my breath away as he’ll move from one side to the other. I’m pretty sure he is now head down and I’m trying to monitor how I sit and lie down to encourage him to stay in that position.

My last set of bloods came back and my iron levels were quite low so I’ve started drinking Spatone which is iron but in a liquid sachet (apparently easier to digest).  I mix it with orange juice and can’t taste it. I’ve always had quite low iron levels so this wasn’t a surprise but I have been feeling super tired and breathless so hopefully the Spatone will help. I’m sure Mr Bug will appreciate it if I’m able to stay up past 9pm (or maybe not! It has allowed him to finish The Witcher without me whining that I’m bored…).

We’ve begun to get our hospital bag packed. I will do a post on what we’ve included as I found it a bit of a nightmare, if I’m honest. I guess part of the issue is you don’t REALLY know how long you’ll be in for so you’re probably going to pack either too much or too little. I’m shooting for too much. Also, I think we need to talk to mother nature about babies coming out as a standard size. It would make life MUCH EASIER.

Symptoms:
I still need to pee all the time! I’ve also been getting those sharp jabs to the bladder/groin area which, as you can imagine, are SUPER fun. Pelvic pain is still an issue, especially when I sit down and work at my desk for too long. It’s hard to keep reminding myself to get up but I do try.

My back is still quite sore, I can’t quite find a good position which stops it from aching.

Sickness:
Nausea is back. No vomiting as of yet (fingers crossed it stays away). The nausea is worse in the mornings, evenings and whenever I haven’t eaten so I have a stash of biscuits/fruit with me at all times. Special K chocolate cereal bars are my new best friend, diet be damned.

Cravings:
Curries. Still.

Bump:
I feel huge.

Maternity fashion:
I have found maternity jeans uncomfortable for the last couple of weeks so I’m currently living in leggings and tights. I dislike having anything constricting bump (and bug doesn’t seem to enjoy it either) so I think that is a personal opinion thing as others prefer more support.

I’ve just bought a couple more leggings as I’m living in them when not wearing tights for work. I’ve also bought myself a couple of long t-shirts from New Look as everything is getting just a tad tight.

My coat has stopped fitting around Bump, so I’ve nicked my Mum’s slightly larger, very warm North Face coat (she lives abroad so doesn’t need it, I’m not that mean). This should definitely last me until D-Day.

Anything else:
I’ve got one more week at work! My maternity leave starts on Tuesday 23 January. We then have the kitchen being ripped out and replaced (hopefully). We have also started on a hypnobirthing course, so I’ll post about my thoughts on that soon.

 

 

 

Work life

My office
My office

It was with quite a lot of trepidation that I started this week. This WORK week. For the past 9 weeks, I’ve been signed off with hyperemesis and generally living in a world of pain, but, given my symptoms have lessened quite a bit, I thought it was time to try easing back into the world of work again.

My company have been really great and very understanding. They agreed that a phased return made more sense and so we agreed that I would start by working from home and just doing afternoons. My worst times are usually mornings and late evenings so this suited me.

Our study is on the top of our house’s three floors and I’m not quite up to doing that trek every day, so Husband brought our large computer screen, which I’ve linked up to my work laptop, into the dining room. I’ve got lots of natural light (which you can’t very well see in my awful iPhone photo, sorry) from the double doors out to the garden as well as both the kitchen (for food) and toilet (for vomming) within easy reach. I’ve also got my trusty tupperware box for when the toilet isn’t quite reachable!

So far, it’s been difficult but manageable:

  • Not having to commute the hour into London on the train and tube is an absolute godsend.
  • Vomming and feeling nauseous are really personal things and I’m SO glad I’ve got my own space where I can do/feel both without others watching.
  • Working from home means quite a lot of phone calls. This can be tough when my nausea is bad as opening my mouth/throat can make things worse.
  • I’m still getting tired really quickly. A couple of hours in front of a screen and I feel like a need a lie down. So far, I have avoided that – although both yesterday and the day before, I went straight upstairs and had an hour nap at 5:45pm.

I’m hoping I can continue to keep this up so fingers crossed!

What’s Hyperemesis Gravidarum like? Part 3

What made HG a million times worse was the lack of support from GPs and nurses that I came across at the start. I’ve since met a GP who took HG, and me, seriously but I know from other HG sufferers that unsympathetic healthcare practitioners are more common than they should be. My first GP signed me off but kept saying “Morning sickness is hard”. This was not morning sickness and the majority of pregnancy women thankfully do not have to go through this. But for the ones that do, a little more understanding is needed.

There is medication HG sufferers can take – most to either help the nausea, vomiting or both. But, like EVERYTHING you do as a pregnant woman, the whole world will have an opinion on it and condemn you somehow. I had begun to take medication at 8 weeks until my symptoms worsened and I found myself at my healthcare centre talking to a nurse who was VERY disapproving of medication during pregnancy and asked me if I had ever heard of thalidomide. Frightened out of my wits that I was going to have a two-headed baby, I stopped the medication and didn’t try any again until I met a much more sensible GP when I was 14 weeks. Unfortunately, this meant that during the worst period of HG, I wasn’t on medication that could have helped me.

My lifeline during HG was found online. In particular, I found a very active thread on mumsnet for women suffering from HG. I went from feeling like the only person in the world suffering like this to realising there were lots of us. And there is strength in numbers. During my darkest days, it was a comfort to know that other people understood and had been through this. I wasn’t alone. Realising this gave me strength when I most needed it and, to all of those women, I can’t thank you enough. They are one of the reasons why I am blogging about this now – I don’t want anyone else to feel alone and isolated with HG. That’s not fun and it’s not necessary. You are part of a group of awesome fighters. Welcome.

For more posts on my experience with HG, check out my Hyperemesis Gravidarum tag. Thanks for reading!

What’s Hyperemesis Gravidarum like? Part 2

As I mentioned in my last post, I wanted to shed some light into what having HG is actually like, as I’ve noticed a lot of confusion and misunderstanding about the condition. Everyone’s experience of it is individual and I’d love to hear from some fellow sufferers too. The below are my key takeaways.

  • HG is like having the worst hangover in your life coupled with food poisoning. But it never stops, it just goes on and on and no matter how many times you throw up, the nausea doesn’t go away and you never feel better.
  • HG is hugely, horrendously isolating. At my worst, all I could do was lie in my bed because moving, talking, watching TV made me vomit. I couldn’t tell my friends because I was so early in my pregnancy (although with close friends, I had to) and I couldn’t go to work. I didn’t leave the house for about 6 weeks except to go to the hospital/GP. I had no social life, no work life, basically no life and the only people I saw were my wonderful family who kept me sane.
  • The vomiting is crap. Crap is an understatement. The worst are the days when you’re SO exhausted that getting to the bathroom – dizzy, ill, knackered – seems like a mission to Mars and, once you’re there, your stomach heaves with nothing but bile and you can’t hold your head up because it’s too heavy. Vom in hair is gross, trust me.
  • The nausea is also debilitating because, on the days when I wasn’t vomiting as much, the sickness was so bad that I physically couldn’t push food past my throat. I was STARVING but everything made me retch.
  • Not eating and drinking properly means I was exhausted. I couldn’t stand up or walk around on my own because I was so dizzy and weak.
  • My relationship with food became a total nightmare. Every day was a challenge of trying to figure out either (1) what food I was likely to keep down or (2) what I wouldn’t mind throwing up again. I would wake up in the morning and feel a sickening sense of dread that, today, the whole cycle of drama would repeat itself again.

It’s a nightmare. It does, slowly, get better but those weeks when the symptoms are bad are a constant battle of endurance and, also, mental strength. I was very lucky in that my Mum, who lives abroad, stayed and looked after me throughout the worst of it. Between her and my husband, I had people to keep me company, a real lifeline when you have HG.

Today, I am 15+6. The nausea is bad today but I haven’t thrown up for a couple of days. Take that, HG.

What’s Hyperemesis Gravidarum like?

I’m not going to lie, writing about my experience with Hyperemesis Gravidarum is tough. However, I think it’s important to write about because it’s more common than I think we realise. My main aim for doing this (and setting up this blog) is to let other women know that pregnancy can be really hard, and that that’s OKAY. I’ve had lots of well-meaning comments about how sad it is that I can’t ‘enjoy’ my pregnancy and that I should be ‘blooming’. Not only did I feel awful because I had HG but I also felt like I was Doing Pregnancy Wrong. I wasn’t. Millions of other women aren’t, either. It’s just, sometimes, pregnancy can be really, really hard and women who get through it are superstars. That’s it.

It’s difficult for people who haven’t been through HG to understand what it’s like. What I can say, at nearly 16 weeks pregnant, is that the last 10 weeks of my life have been THE hardest, most difficult thing I’ve ever been through. In context, I’m quite a healthy person; I have never been in hospital, never broken any bones. The worst illness I can remember having was tonsillitis. So, this was my first experience with a condition that was truly debilitating and truly, in my view, life-altering.

My HG symptoms started at 6 weeks, with severe nausea, while on honeymoon in the Maldives. Instead of swimming with dolphins and chilling out on sunloungers drinking (non-alcoholic) cocktails, I spent the majority of the time lying in bed unable to move. It wasn’t quite how I’d pictured it but, hey, that’s what HG does. The nausea was severe enough that I was limited to eating only a few things: bread, water, clear soups, etc.

At 8 weeks, the vomiting began properly. I spent hours, days in bed not moving because, if I did, I would throw up. I lost about 8 kgs and became so weak and listless that getting from my bed to the sofa was the most effort I could manage in a day. I was dizzy all the time and dehydrated because keeping liquids down was difficult. The days varied from moderate – when I’d throw up a couple of times – to bad – when I’d vomit everything up.

At 14 weeks, the vomiting began to lessen. I’m now nearly 16 weeks and am vomiting maybe once every couple of days. The nausea hasn’t gone anywhere, it’s constant from the moment I wake up to the moment I sleep, although the level of nausea goes up and down during the day. I still have to watch what I eat but I can eat a lot more than just bread and water now. I have left the house to see family and go shopping but I have to be careful as pushing myself too far can exarcebate the HG and make it worse again – my biggest nightmare. I’ve been off work for 10 weeks.

My HG isn’t as severe as others have experienced it. I had ‘better’ days when I could keep things down and I managed to avoid being hospitalised. But, even so, the impact it has had on my life has been profound. If you have or are suffering, then please know it’s not your fault, there’s nothing you can do and you should not feel guilty. All you have to do is get through it and, if you do, you’re awesome and I salute you.