Slapped Cheek or Not Slapped Cheek that is the question!

6th November

Not really sure how I slept to be honest but I did and I called in the morning as directed, went through the same explanations with two different people though not nearly as panicked as yesterday. Like all things, once the initial news sinks in it is very easy to calm down and hope for the best and I am feeling much calmer this morning, if a little vacant.  I keep telling myself that I haven’t got this far to lose the baby another way but I know things don’t work like that, there are no fairness rules.  So I have to be practical and insist that all bases are covered without looking like a neurotic pregnant nutcase.

That’s very hard.

But I have re read the messages from last night and it keeps leaping out at me that the diagnosis hasn’t been confirmed by a doctor so he could just have an allergy.  Long shot I know.  A call to the school tomorrow will let me know if it is Slapped Cheek, plenty of others are sure to have it if so.

I pretty much ignored my family all day and immersed myself in my VAT return, choosing to stay distracted.  When the GP did finally call me back it was to tell me that I was high risk because of my miscarriages, the cold and sore throat I have had this week could be the start of it and to go to A&E for a blood test.  He couldn’t give me anything to prove to A&E that he had said I could do this and all but admitted I had a lot of work to do to get a blood test on a Sunday.  I mulled it over and thought against this course of action, my thinking being:

  1. I could be exposed to something even more serious in A&E and as currently we are just surmising that I might have been exposed to Slapped Cheek, it seems silly to put myself and baby in harms way when we aren’t sure.
  2. I may not be able to persuade anyone to give me the blood test on the basis I had no referral.  This will stress me out and upset me further: not good for me or baby.
  3. Even if I got the blood test, who’s to say the result would ever find me?
  4. I have an email address for my surgery and can email them for a blood test for tomorrow.  They will know me, will move fast and will know where to send the result etc.
  5. There is no treatment so it doesn’t actually matter when I do the test, I will only be monitored with extra scans.
  6. I have my booking in appointment with the midwife on Wednesday and I can rely on her to test me on anything relevant that my GP doesn’t and to give me specialist advice.
  7. I feel too spaced out and worried to sit in an A&E clinic for four hours surrounded by sports injuries, screaming kids and stressed out underpaid NHS staff.

So instead of going to A&E I worked on my VAT return pretty unsuccessfully all day, put all of the wrong ingredient measurements into my poppy seed almond cake, reversed my car into my neighbours guests car (he actually let me off with scratched paintwork bless him) and burnt my saucepan to smithereens by putting it back on the hob when empty.

I should have stayed in bed.  Today was a shit day.  On the plus side though I am pretty sure my doppler picked up little one’s heartbeat for about 5 seconds 🙂

Here’s hoping tomorrow is kinder…

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Guys! Guys! I think this is REALLY happening!

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See that picture up there?  That’s mine.  That little grey dude or dudette that is chilling like a pro on my placenta is inside me.  INSIDE ME.  Right now.  And it’s alive.

Yes I said alive.

There’s a heartbeat but what’s even more amazing is I saw little arms and legs moving.  I saw the brain and the warm spots of my placenta.  I saw hands, feet and even a little heart.

I still don’t believe it.

I literally wake up every day, remember that I am pregnant and then shake my head in disbelief.  If it wasn’t for the VERY early bump that I am displaying I don’t think I would even half believe it, not even a quarter.  But this picture, this tiny little picture, changes everything.

Just look at that profile.  Check out that button nose.  See how cosy that baby is INSIDE ME.  And marvel out how clever our bodies can be.

I’ve spent years cursing my womb and losing confidence in my body and it’s lack of compliance with my attempts at reproduction.  I had decided that I was completely incapable, was sure of it.  And then on 5th October 2016 I found out I was pregnant and every day since I have been waiting for it to go one way or another.  If I am honest, the one way was the M word, the another was this and in my mind the former was all but a given.

And now look.

 

I honestly don’t have many words for you right now.  This scan happened on Friday and I am still wandering around waiting for it to properly sink in, to feel the elation I know I should be feeling, to accept this is the real deal.  I’m not unhappy so please don’t wave your fist at me and shout at my ungratefulness: my gratitude knows no bounds.  Instead I think I am still so surprised and in awe of my womb that I have been shocked into an exhausted silence, a quiet, reflective haze.  There’s definitely a huge dollop of self preservation holding me back from full on embracing this pregnancy and that can only be natural, but there is also a side order of fear hanging around like something out there is daring me to embrace it fully, just to crash me down.  It’s ridiculous really but it’s there, the greyness in my silver cloud.  I’ll banish it away though, every day a little bit more belief creeps into my heart.  The doppler is helping.

How early can you hear a heartbeat? To doppler, or not to doppler, that is the question!

So 10 years ago during my first pregnancy my friend (thanks Jo) ‘lent’ me a doppler that picks up a heartbeat from 10 weeks pregnant.  I still have it (oops sorry Jo) and I was going to be good and wait until 10 weeks to even try it.  That was until I ventured onto the internet to find ladies that had managed to hear their baby at 6, 7 and 8 weeks.  The pull was too much.  I had to try.

At 8 weeks and 1 day I retrieved it from a friend whom I had lent it to (sorry Jo) and I am reasonably sure I heard it that night but it was a fleeting listen and a sound that was far away.  I have to say, I wasn’t disheartened and was in fact quite pragmatic about it, I resolved to try it the next day.

8 weeks and 2 days had a similar result and despite promising myself I was prepared for no news for at least another couple of weeks, doubt was creeping in. I searched the internet only to find a video of a lady that found hers in seconds but didn’t seem to be doing anything different to me.  Was the dream over?  Was the baby gone?  Were the few people I had confided in that I was using the doppler right: was I getting ahead of myself?

Yes, yes I was.  But I couldn’t stop it.

Now the idea had formed I had found all sorts of people in forums and giving reviews on dopplers that had found their baby as early as 6 weeks (!!).  My boobs still hurt like hell, there was no more bleeding: I simply had to be patient and keep looking as my little heartbeat was there somewhere waiting to be found.

I had to have a serious word with myself when I realised I had been lying there for almost two hours trying to find something that was likely less than 2 centimetres long whilst also searching for advice and reassurance when I failed.  I needn’t have given myself too much of a hard time though – the gods intervened and the doppler fell apart from old age as I was putting it away.  Most people would take this as a sign to leave the damn idea alone but I, being I, hit Amazon and ordered a shiny new one to arrive the very next day.

The shiny new doppler with its digital heart monitor arrived promptly within 24 hours and the next few days passed without anything concrete to report.  There was definitely something coming up but just as I was about to be sure that it was the fast train like beating of a baby’s heart something would shift inside and I would hear my own heartbeat or my digestion in overdrive.  A scan at 8 weeks 5 days allayed my fears a lot, I could see a heart beating away very clearly and our tiny little being even had the stumps of arms and legs but scans cost a lot of money and as such you can’t have them every day.  I was still desperate to have a nightly reassuring listen to help me on my journey.  Which brings me to the point of this blog: is it right to want to listen in so early?

I of course am going to say yes because of course that is exactly what I was doing but I can be excused on the basis that I have had recurrent miscarriages and of course need extra reassurance.  Or can I?

No because I have done this before and when I did it I had never had the pain and uncertainty of miscarriage (although in fairness to me I was spurred on by disbelief in my pregnancy from infertility that time around)!  With my 9 year old I listened every night to his heartbeat from 10 weeks until he kicked regularly.  I had no reason to suppose there was anything wrong but I still enjoyed the reassurance.

With this one, I needed the reassurance badly but, after the wobble of the first couple of days of overdoing it, I fell into a routine where I listened and if I heard something feint I packed up, assuring myself all was well.  It became a ritual quite quickly and my husband made fun of me but he knew why I wanted to hear that sound and fully understood my need to listen.

At 9 weeks and 1 day I heard a distinctive heartbeat that stayed put for ages, reassuring me that all was well.  I cried.  I recorded it.  I called my son and husband and we all beamed together at the amazingness of it all.  It was beyond magic.

Since then, apart from the odd day where little bean has been hiding I have been able to listen every night to the heart getting stronger and as a result I have slept well, taken it easy where I can and generally started to believe I am pregnant, that this amazing thing is really happening to me at last.  In the absence of scans, kicks and other reassurance at this early stage I have a little noise that helps me get through each scary day.  It has made me stop and enjoy TODAY.  I am still too nervous to put appointments in my diary and I am still not looking passed the next couple of days when it comes to getting my hopes up but that little heartbeat makes me realise this is real: it’s really happening.

I am pregnant.

That’s a huge leap and one that has taken a long time – 3 weeks ago I was convinced it was going nowhere and even mentioning it to anyone was a waste of time, an announcement that I would have to embarrassingly correct when the inevitable happens.  Because you see, when you have had miscarriages your body somehow convinces your mind that you aren’t worthy of a healthy pregnancy.  It’s the strangest thing.  Whenever a new person finds out about the pregnancy either by mistake or because you for a moment are excited and want to tell someone, you soon wish they didn’t know because that’s just another person you will have to tell when it’s over.  Another person to pity you and know of the failure of your womb.

Us potential miscarriers have enough to worry about and it starts every morning when we wipe ourselves after a wee.  We expect blood.  We expect a drama.  The worry goes on all day, niggling away at us, stopping the excitement from growing and with it our belief in the amazing strength of and capacity of our own bodies.

A doppler is a game changer in terms of belief in the miracle that is happening in our bodies.  It’s building my confidence daily and allowing me to ‘log in’ to this pregnancy and believe it.  I’m finding myself looking on the internet at videos portraying the stages I am at.  I’m writing my weeks passed in my diary (can’t do future yet, but soon!) and I’m able to go a week without a scan – in fact, I have now gone almost three, something I never thought possible a month ago.

10 years ago these dopplers cost £100 (thank you Jo).  They now cost £30.  A private scan can cost anything from £90 to £200 and if you have been on the same journey as me you will book a few of these to keep you going.  With a doppler you can go to bed and just listen for a few seconds and as a result I say do it.  It will rest your mind and give you the excitement and happiness that you so deserve and that other lucky mums get to take for granted.  There is of course a flip side: if you can’t find that little heart you know to book a scan to reassure yourself further and worst case, find out sooner rather than later that something is wrong and thus avoid the pain of a missed miscarriage going on longer than it need to.

My big peace of advice: wait until at least 9 weeks.  My midwife couldn’t find a heartbeat at 9 weeks and 3 days on her ancient little doppler so don’t try before then unless you have a scan to fall back on to get you through the worry of no sound!

With the risk of plugging a single company I do want to let you know that I chose and highly rate this doppler:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B01FLI4V0K/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o07_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

It took me ages to find one as no one seems to recommend a brand in the forums so I wanted to save you the trouble!  However if you have had similar success with something else please do comment.

The Miscarriage Prevention Journey begins…

For most people a positive pregnancy test is the start of a positive journey and quite rightly so.  There’s no reason for them to believe that things could go wrong and so they wait, however impatiently, the long 6 weeks (if they find out immediately they are late) until their booking in appointment comes around and they get to meet a midwife, hear a beautiful heartbeat and generally validate the pregnancy.

Sadly I’m not most people.  I have a 9 year old and was very lucky the first time around – in fact I now know all to well how lucky I am to have had the experience of one dream pregnancy, but I am no longer that person that can wait a week to see if the late period really is ‘something more than just a late period’.

I have friends and family that have quietly (and patronisingly I felt) questioned my patience when it comes to confirming a pregnancy. Suggested that perhaps I found out too early with my previous unsuccessful pregnancies and hey if I hadn’t I would be like many others that have early miscarriages all of the time but I would be none the wiser and wouldn’t that be nice!  Save a lot of heartache!

Ah isn’t that nice of them, thinking of me like that, saving me from my own (self induced?) drama!

Or not.

Much as I love them, these people have no idea what infertility does to a woman and even less so recurrent miscarriages and whilst I would never wish either on anyone, I still fail to comprehend people commenting in such a way about something so delicate without any experience and as such wish they could just walk a mile in my shoes.  The implication that I can somehow link my finding out early (and what is early anyway, a positive pregnancy test only shows when it’s supposed to!) about being pregnant to the level of upset caused when it fail is just ludicrous and I can tell you this: it doesn’t matter when you miscarry, it still hurts like hell.

A positive pregnancy test changes your future in an instant, no matter how cautious you are about forward planning, and a resulting miscarriage takes all of that away in a cruel manner, just as instantly and seemingly without reason.  Yes it gets worse the further you get along and I hope and pray I am spared such duress but there is no base to start from that doesn’t cause pain or upset and anyway, my finding out on day 28 or 35 makes a massive difference to my pregnancy’s success.  I can’t cross my fingers and hope all is going to be well because every day counts and every hour that passes that I’m not aware of a pregnancy is another hour against it being a viable one.  I need to know quickly so that I can take the correct medication to try and keep the pregnancy in place as soon as possible and even when I do there are no guarantees, sadly it’s just a roll of a dice between success and failure.

No one knows why I miscarry, not really and it is very common for a miscarrier to be told to simply keep trying a a result.  I’ve seen two doctors (one private, one NHS) since the miscarrying began and both tested and got different results for Natural Killer Cells, neither of them sure if the reading was high enough to cause the issue.  With the private doctor this was a very expensive shrug I can tell you!  Neither of them then went on to have any kind of lengthy conversations on what to do about it all either.    The treatment, and indeed the whole idea of Natural Killer Cells being ‘a thing’ seems still to be based on quite a lot of conjecture (although in the three years since I have been affected it is gaining a bigger following).  Sure there’s science and I’m sure trials of all sorts backing it up but given that in general Natural Killer Cells still aren’t acknowledged as ‘a thing’ across the NHS or even private fertility clinics, it’s not difficult to see how anything at all you’re told feels like a shot in the dark.

The private guy had a very expensive programme to follow but given that we were already seeing him for unexplained infertility, the idea of paying thousands to fall pregnant then the same to stay pregnant was too much for our budget at the time and anyway, we weren’t convinced we needed him or his treatment. Despite being under private guy for over a year we hadn’t fallen pregnant with his prescriptions of clomid or even after three attempts at IUI: all of our pregnancies (to this day) had instead been conceived naturally and completely randomly, all when we least expected it (he does however I think deserve some credit for the hysteroscopy procedure that I had – he recommended it for womb lining scarring and I started falling within months of having it after 6 years of not falling at all so if you have unexplained infertility look it up). So we disregarded starting private guy’s treatment and as the NHS only takes your plight seriously after 3 recurrent miscarriages, we decided we would let the dice roll and see what happened.

I’ll be honest: I didn’t think I would miscarry again after the first one, why would I?  I thought I had got horribly unlucky and so I dismissed the idea of ever needing any kind of anti miscarriage treatment and when we fell again 6 weeks after the first loss I just didn’t see another miscarriage coming.

Lightning doesn’t strike twice.

We couldn’t get that unlucky after having years of infertility could we?

Yes.

Yes, we could.

The second pregnancy went further (or so I thought) and the devastation I felt was as close to how bad I felt losing my mum at 19: yes, that bad.  I’ll never underestimate someone’s suffering at the hands of miscarriage again.  It took me to bed on and off for weeks, a heartbreaking depth of grief that sneaks up on you whenever it fancies, taking your breath and your sensibilities away. Dates rolled by that should have been important scans and milestones and the due date crushed me.  Every pregnancy announcement on Facebook had me recoiling as if being stabbed and I couldn’t face pregnant women or newborns at all (this affected my relationship with my best friend for a while and I horribly neglected two cousins too).  A recording of the heartbeat and a video of our little boy opening his scan picture from Father Christmas (he’d asked for a baby for mummy for Christmas to cheer me up after the first loss and the 2% chance of it happening again – see below – kind of had me thinking it was safe to tell him) was where I sought solace and I have to say I was in a terrible place for a while there.

So when we lost for the third time (which was much less traumatic, toughened to it as I was by then) and became eligible for an NHS specialist miscarriage clinic appointment I expected quite a lot of investigation to go on, loads of information to be given and a carefully constructed plan of action to follow.  I was sorely disappointed.  Now I’m not going to slate the NHS, no way, if you want that kind of talk find another blog.  I’m grateful every day for it but I have to say, being on the end of this seemingly underfunded and very common health issue whilst reading of gastro bands and boob jobs being given out for free, left, right and centre was pretty tough.   But I digress.

When I finally did get in front of a miscarriage doctor I was very surprised at how much of their approach seemed to be based on hope.  Sure they had cases of success but the general consensus seemed to be of a one size fits all treatment plan and those that get lucky, get lucky while the rest of us just need to keep going until we do.  Which isn’t particularly encouraging when you’re 40, have been trying for a baby for 8 years, have miscarriages stacking up and underlying unexplained fertility issues to boot.  I won’t lie I walked out of my appointment thinking I had no chance, but I took the list of over the counter drugs and the prescription and went off anyway, thinking you never know.

What should be noted is that my first two pregnancies got as far as a heartbeat scan only for the ‘baby’ to die off around 7 weeks.  With the first pregnancy I knew of the loss at 7 weeks but with the second I plodded along happily believing everything was ok until 10 weeks when a scan showed I had suffered a missed miscarriage weeks before, on Christmas Day in fact, after seeing the heartbeat on Christmas Eve.  During that Christmas Eve scan, where the radiographer told me my chances of miscarrying again were as low as 2% now a heartbeat had been seen, I remember feeling completely assured that everything was going to be ok.  During our second scan only a few weeks later there was no activity.  I can remember running to the toilet and crying at my reflection.  I genuinely couldn’t believe it and when I called my husband (who didn’t come because I told him it would be fine!) neither could he.  We just didn’t understand, it didn’t make sense and there was no one to give us any answers.  I was told it was just one of those things and how common it was.  The radiographer suggested aspirin to me as a way of avoiding future miscarriages, I had no idea why but I recall her face as she said it, even amongst all the tears, and I realised she had said that many times before.  Had I have received that advice after the first time around perhaps that second pregnancy would have been a success, I will never know but by miscarriages three, four and five something else was happening: I wasn’t even getting to week 6.

It turns out that between six and seven weeks  (approximately) a lot goes on, the key things seemingly being the heartbeat commencing and the hooking up of the placenta.  I won’t pretend to be a biology expert but the theory behind my miscarriages was leaning towards something called sticky blood – the blood supply to the placenta was being hampered enough in those early days to literally stop the tiny heart beating just as it had started.  All when it was going so well.

So I gave up, genuinely gave up, no more babies for me.  I stopped taking everything.  Even the vitamins. Stupid and self sabotage perhaps but I decided enough was enough and quite frankly it had taken up enough of my life (I have been actively trying for babies for 13 years including the journey for my 9 year old).  Hubby and I focused on our business, decided against any further investigations and made a commitment to revisit next year if I was up for it, which I didn’t see happening to be honest.  It was over for me and I was just grateful that my body had seemingly stopped falling pregnant, the decision having therefore been made for me.

And then on 5th October a little extra red line on a test told me there was hope.

It was a huge shock and I have covered this off in a previous blog but suffice it to say I didn’t believe in this pregnancy.  I went through the motions, emailed the miscarriage clinic, took instructions and of course did everything I could to give myself the best chance but I didn’t really think it would work out.  Not in a million years.  But it has so far and as such I want to share my treatment with you but only on the basis that I AM NOT A DOCTOR and you MUST NOT SELF MEDICATE.  By all means print this off and pitch up to your specialist to ask if you can be given a shot at this plan but don’t go off and randomly order shit drugs off of the internet, THEY CAN KILL YOU, don’t underestimate the unscrupulousness of those selling such junk.

My drugs list is:

  1. Daily Pregnacare Plus Vitamin
  2. 75mg Aspirin
  3. 25mg Prednisolone (steroid)
  4. 150mg Rantidine (settler for steroid)
  5. 2,000 iu Vitamin D
  6. 1,000mg Metformin (as a polycystic ovarian syndrome sufferer I have a higher risk of miscarriage without this, unless you also have pcos you will not need this).
  7. 400mg Cyclogest daily

I was given this list of drugs by my miscarriage clinic after miscarriage 3 and I commenced taking all of these items religiously as directed within an hour of my pregnancy tests from pregnancy 4.  I took items 1, 2, 5, 6 and 7 daily throughout my cycle, items 3 and 7 from ovulation and item 4 on a positive pregnancy test.  Despite this I still lost pregnancy 4 and 5.  With pregnancy 6 I did two things differently:

I doubled up on Cyclogest and I took 3,000 iu Vitamin D instead of 2,000 iu every couple of days for the first month.  Both of these changes were of my own volition having spoken to a friend who had a similar journey last year and now has a 6 month old baby (if my clinic reads this I might be told off).  I also occasionally doubled up on aspirin in the early days because of a friend of hers doing so by accident and getting success but I did this less often through fear it would do more harm than good.  Are these changes the critical success factor for my pregnancy so far?  Who knows.  Am I going to find out they caused issues later?  Who knows again, it was a risk I was willing to take given the evidence.

As I write this I am 11 weeks and 5 days pregnant and my blog is now likely to be all out of sync over the next week or so because I keep randomly thinking of things to share that might help someones journey, writing the title and the first few lines but never quite finishing it.  I apologise therefore if my next blog will leap back in time a bit but if I feel it is important enough to share with you I will!

My next milestone is the nuchal scan on Friday 2nd.  I’m both terrified and relieved it is here.  Keep everything crossed for me x

 

 

WTF! 4 weeks and 2 days Pregnant!!!

5th October, 1am

I’ll start by telling you for sure that we were not actively trying for a baby.  I have made this clear on my homepage but just in case you didn’t see that:

WE WERE NOT TRYING FOR A BABY!

Sure we were unprotected but that’s been the same for 14 years: it is notoriously difficult for me to fall pregnant and when I do, in recent years it is proving near on impossible for me to stay pregnant.  So when I spent the evening of 4th October pulling our home office apart and re-organising it I had no idea that I might be pregnant.  None at all.  It was only when I was about to go to bed and fancied a Waitrose chicken tikka masala like mad that it occurred to me I hadn’t seen my monthly yet.  As I am not trying I did not know when it was due off the top of my head so I grabbed my diary and tracked back to the date: 5th September.  Funnily enough that was the first time I have actually written my date in my diary in months and months, not sure why…

Anyway it had been exactly a month since my last visit.  A quick analysis of my body and the last few days appetite confirmed my boobs were sore and I was hungrier than usual (before the naysayers harp on about being too early for cravings please note I have known about every pregnancy based entirely on hunger, odd but true).  Now I can’t remember the last time I bought a pregnancy test, haven’t needed one for over a year, but a quick search of the bathroom unit revealed one and I sat for a moment and pondered waiting until morning, proper morning, not 1am morning before I had even gone to bed.

I couldn’t do it.

So I peed on the stick knowing full well I was wasting it, took in the blank space, shrugged, brushed my teeth, tidied the last few bits in the office and climbed into bed.  Then I took my Pregnacare vitamins (a habit I only restarted this month because I am trying to be healthier and only Pregnacare because they were there) and laid down.  It was at that point that I just knew it was positive and I had to go and see it.  I dug around the bin and lo and behold:

test

It’s the faintest line ever but it is there and you can’t get a false positive.  I wake hubby and wave it at him and for a moment we both just look at each other, letting a teeny little bit of hope pass between us.  Then we remember what happened the last five times.  Then I think on how bloody busy we are with our life and business and the way I have been running myself into the ground lately and I realise I am not in optimum shape to be successful in this venture, my body is running on empty most days.  I also barely see my son with all the hours I am doing, how would I fit a pregnancy/baby in.  Ridiculous.  No point getting my hopes up and fussing, it will be another dead end but hey, at least I still can get pregnant, that’s a Brucie bonus that I didn’t expect.  I climb into bed beside hubby and – just in case, no hopes up – I take the anti miscarriage steroid, baby aspirin and Vitamin D tablets that I have had in my bedside unit forever and I lie there for a moment to evaluate the last month.  On doing so I realise that:

  1. We have only had sex once – life has been so hectic we have barely seen each other and when we have we have been exhausted.  Funnily enough the last five pregnancies were the same – it has always been in our least active months that we have fallen.  Odd, no?
  2. Due to being utterly pissed off with unexplained weight gain this year I visited my GP on 13th September and we decided it would be a good idea to run a full set of blood tests to see if I still had polycystic ovaries (or indeed if I had thyroid issues).  This was in order for me to resume Metformin and therefore re-balance weight and hormones if I did.  My GP of course knows my history and we discussed whether we would try again.  I thought honestly about it and told her I wasn’t sure if I wanted to but to have a set of bloods telling me how I was doing would be a good place to start a conversation with hubby about it – with a view to maybe giving IVF a go next year as I hadn’t fallen in a year and the last one was a chemical pregnancy that lasted only days.
  3. On going home I resolved to look after myself more and started taking the vitamins again and began tracking my weight.

I have also tried to be very good with alcohol and have stepped up exercising again to help with the weight issues I have been experiencing.

It seems that without even knowing it I have been preparing for pregnancy, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves, we know where that ends.

I sleep like a baby.

Slapped Cheek = Mad Panic!

5th November

Today was a tiring day, felt ratty and out of sorts all day for no apparent reason.  We took in the local Fireworks (bloody freezing) and then headed for a curry where I continued to be irritable and bad company (sorry Scott and Sonny).  During the meal I realised that I am ‘off’ Indian food, something that surprised me as Waitrose chicken tikka masala has been going down well since I found out I was pregnant, clearly they are very different and appeal to very different taste buds!  Anyway I just couldn’t get excited about it, even when my favourite coconut dish came out with the poppadums (by the way, if anyone knows how to make the coconut dish please share) and I was just glad when it was over and I could get home.

Once settled on the sofa (under a throw, bloody hell hasn’t the temperature dropped?) I booted up my now charged mobile (it died shortly into the meal) and read my text messages.  Sonny has just returned yesterday from a three day residential trip with the school and one of the mum’s, Kathryn, had messaged me:m a couple if hours before:

James seems to have come home with ‘slapped cheek’ – a virus like a cold that also give you red itchy hives on the cheeks and neck. Once it shows on the cheeks it’s not contagious but thought I’d let you know in case either of your boys get any symptoms. I’m guessing he might have picked it up there or just before. He’s not feeling ill, just itchy!

Sonny was lying next to me so I had a quick glance at him, saw no red cheeks and headed over to Facebook to see what my friends were up to.  In about three seconds my brain cells connected and I remembered that I was pregnant.  I then very quickly remembered reading something once upon a time on slapped cheek and pregnancy and recalled that being in contact wasn’t good for an unborn baby, a bit like chicken pox.  I headed to Google and the top search item was:

Most pregnant women who get slapped cheek syndrome have healthy babies. However, depending on what stage of pregnancy you’re at, there’s a small risk of miscarriage or complications for your unborn baby. If you’re pregnant and have been exposed to the virus, you should see your GP, midwife or call NHS 111.

It is absolutely crazy how quickly you can descend into utter panic isn’t it?  One moment I am sat there snugly meddling with my phone, the next I am sat upright dialling 111 whilst inspecting and interviewing my poor child like he’s arrived in an airport with Rabies.

When did James get the rash?

Are you sure it wasn’t Wednesday?

Thursday night?  The teacher told Kathryn Friday morning?  You sure it was Thursday night?

Where was his rash?  All over?  Did any of the others have it?

How are you feeling?

Are you sure you’re feeling ok?

Really sure?

On and on I went whilst reading Google and scaring the shit out of myself.  This was the next lovely little ditty that Google imparted:

Complications during pregnancy

If you get slapped cheek syndrome during your first 20 weeks of pregnancy, there’s an increased risk of miscarriage.

If you become infected during weeks 9 to 20 of your pregnancy, there’s also a small risk that the baby will develop foetal hydrops. This is a serious condition, where a build-up of fluid develops in the baby’s body, causing complications such as heart failure and anaemia. Some babies can recover from foetal hydrops; however, the condition can be fatal.

There’s no evidence that having slapped cheek syndrome during pregnancy causes birth defects or development problems later in childhood.

Well that was it wasn’t it, having had 5 miscarriages I am now exposed to something that adds more miscarriage risk at atime when it is most risky.  Epic!  Like I need more fucking risk!  I mean REALLY?  Aren’t I unlucky enough on that front, do I really need this shit too?  The only thing going for me in this is that I am 8 weeks and 5 days or 8 weeks and 3 days depending on whether you believe my dates or scans so I am technically under the 9 to 20 week scary stage but still: absolute fucking panic ensued.  I dialled 111 and waited.  A lovely lady took all of my details and told me to stay by my phone.  I quickly plugged it back in to charge and swapped messages with two of the mum’s, breaking the news to poor Kathryn on my predicament.  She of course did what we all would do and immediately apologised and I quickly told her there was no need: jeez don’t kids bring different viruses home all the time, how could we ever know what they are carrying and sharing at any one time?

After an eternity the phone rang and I spoke to a nurse who was lovely but did nothing to reassure me, quite the opposite in fact.  Incubation and contagious periods are 4  to 14 days before the rash and there is no knowing if you have it.  There is some good news in this as half term was last week so James and Sonny hadn’t seen each other but amongst hundreds of kids in the school they could all be passing it around willy nilly before and after the holiday and we are just waiting for it to come out so although James might not be ‘the one’ to pass it on, someone else could easily have been.  We ended our call with the nurse asking me to try not to worry (ha!) and I was advised to wait for a doctor to call in the next two hours.

I (stupidly?) continued to Google and found this:

Slapped cheek syndrome usually affects children. It’s thought that once you’ve been infected, you’re immune for the rest of your life. Studies have shown that 60% of adults in the UK have antibodies to parvovirus B19.

Had Sonny had Slapped Cheek and if so would he carry it home to me?  He’d had foot and mouth, chicken pox and I vaguely recall something to do with his face, was it Slapped Cheek?  Had I had it?  One of the other mum’s in the text conversation had been exposed when she was pregnant and had to have blood taken that proved she had the antibodies so didn’t need to worry, did I have them?  Well with mum being dead 22 years and a Dad that wouldn’t know if I’d lost an arm at some point I had no idea!  I read on, like a fool:

When to get advice

See your GP or midwife as soon as possible if you’re pregnant and you think you’ve come into contact with slapped cheek syndrome. You should do this whether you develop a rash or not. There’s no routine screening test for slapped cheek syndrome in pregnancy.

Your GP will do a blood test. If you test positive for the virus in your first 20 weeks of pregnancy, you will be offered ultrasound scans throughout your pregnancy to monitor your baby. If your baby develops foetal hydrops, they may need a blood transfusion while still in the womb.

Just perfect.

So I waited.

And waited.

And fell asleep with my mobile in my hand.

And the phone rang at twenty seven minutes past midnight with a lovely gentleman on the other end telling me that they were horribly busy and as I wasn’t an emergency could I call back tomorrow.

Great.

 

 

 

 

My Extremely Edited Story So Far

dreamstime_xl_14576761For me, pregnancy seems to be a lot like waiting for a bus: none for ages and then the bastard things all come along at once. Sadly my buses all go in the wrong direction. Between 2013 and 2015 I had five miscarriages all (small mercies) under seven weeks but all nonetheless soul destroying. It seemed my body either wasn’t having any of it and abandoned ship within days (they call this a chemical pregnancy) or it was okay right up until a certain stage (6 weeks 5 days to be exact) and then it gave up, just after I had the joy of seeing a heartbeat.  Heartbreaking.

So I gave up.

Surrendered.

I didn’t give up having sex and nor did I take birth control, oh no, I just stopped caring. Figured it wouldn’t happen so why give it any brain room.  Stopped the watching for the ovulation date bit. The oh my fucking god have I ovulated or not? What do the lines on this fucking stick actually mean? bit. I simply gave up wanting another child, thanked my lucky stars for blessing me with my lovely boy 9 years ago and resolved to move on.

This was not a trick.

I see you all nodding knowingly and saying ha! That tactic eh? Pretend you have given up only to quietly hope each month that you fall and then be surprised when you do: we’re onto you, pull the other one it’s got bells on it! No, no I’ve tried that tactic: it doesn’t bloody work. Do not bother, the universe knows what you’re up to.  If you know the exact whereabouts of your period and also know there is a pregnancy test in your house you are still trying: you have not given up and the law of sod will not get you up the duff.

However, if you quit your job and all but tell your boss he’s an arsehole like I did back in 2013, well you find out your pregnant out of nowhere after 6 years of nothing. You then have to quietly backtrack whilst you rethink that future you thought you had of bumming around on your savings and finding your true self.

Or, how about if you enter a marathon and then avoid sex at what you thought were key times and then you get pregnant, very easily on the wrong date like I did in 2015? That’s a good one! I have to say, I thought that pregnancy would stick. I convinced myself that it had all happened for a reason, quietly stepped back from running and used a walking into a bollard incident as an excuse to not train for a bit whilst I sat out first few weeks full of hope. I needn’t have stopped training, I didn’t get passed 6 weeks on that one and I ran my first ever and very slow marathon on barely any training with a very angry fist wave to the heavens and a what was the bloody point of that God? mindset. Bloody annoying.

Anyway, whilst I have turned up at various appointments with miscarriage clinics, fertility specialists and even my GP, my heart hasn’t been in it for a while. So much so that I had stopped multi vitamins (not sure why actually, silly really), Metformin (for polycystic ovaries, more on that later), aspirin (sticky blood syndrome, more on that also later), steroids (natural killer cell treatment, I won’t explain later, I don’t understand myself) so long ago that I actually pitched up at my doctors in September and asked my GP for some tests because it had to have been the first time in over a decade that I had clean blood! We discussed at length my intentions once the bloods came in and whilst I did admit that it would be good to know if I still had polycystic ovaries (hence the need for metformin) it was more important to know so I could get back on the Metformin and control my out of control weight (lovely symptom of polycystic ovaries: get fat and hairy) rather than get back on the Metformin to get preggers. So off I went on September 13th with blood forms in my bag without the foggiest idea that I would never need them…