Wednesday, 5 August 2020

Louis - For My Little Warrior

Louis Christopher

Two faint pink lines announced your existence
Over the next 8 months you fought with persistence
Each week dealt a new blow
But despite it all, you continued to grow

I held you so tightly and gave you every chance
From deep inside, I felt you start to dance
On the day that they told me your heart was broken
You willed me on when no words needed to be spoken

You broke all the rules and I lived in hope
Even when they said your lungs wouldn’t be able to cope
I wished for a miracle and that you would keep on going
You defied expectations even when your growth was slowing

At 37 weeks you decided it was your time
Arriving bottom first, I willed you to be fine
You never let out a cry or opened your eyes
You had fought so hard and I didn’t want any goodbyes

It should have been warm cosy cuddles 
And milk drunk snuggles
But in the end you left as quickly as you came 
And life will never ever be the same 

Little Louis the miracle was your courageous fight 
It was meeting you in the thick of night
The miracle was spending 2 sweet hours breathing you in
The miracle was that little dimple on your chin

The miracle was the journey we went on together 
It was all the storms that we managed to weather
The miracle was getting to tell you your name
It was that little lock of blonde hair that I have been able to frame

The miracle was every single heartbeat
My little army guy never admitted defeat 
I’m so sorry that my body pieced you together in a way, 
that made it impossible for you to stay.

Louis you taught me so much in such a short time
You taught me to stand still and appreciate the moment
You taught me to have hope in the darkest of days
You taught me to keep fighting no matter the prognosis 
You taught me things I couldn’t put into words if I tried

Louis, I will carry your fight, 
I will carry your lessons and I will carry you for the rest of my life.

Sleep tight baby boy, until we meet again

I currently have a Facebook Fundraiser running in honour of little Louis 
for a charity called Aching Arms. 
 Aching Arms is a charity who support parent's like myself, 
who don't get to bring their baby home with them.

They offer support to bereaved parents through the means 
of talking to a trained befriender, and they also provide 
Aching Arms Bear's to bereaved families. 

While I was in hospital I was gifted my own Aching Arms Bear 
in the name of a baby boy called Freddie. 
I knew as soon as I received my bear that I 
wanted to raise some funds in Louis's name, 
and donate bear's to families who walked 
in my heartbreaking footsteps in the future...

I started the fundraiser with the aim of raising £150.00 to donate, 
at the time of writing this we are sitting at £161.00! 

Any donations will be going directly to Aching Arms 
and will go towards Aching Arm's Bear's in Louis's name <3


Wednesday, 22 July 2020

Louis Christopher - A Birth Story

Birthing Ball Labour 37 weeks pregnant

Back in November when I first saw the faintest of second lines on a pregnancy test, I had no idea what the coming months were going to throw at me. As I lay in bed the other night I almost managed to convince myself that 2020 had just been one big bad dream, that Covid 19 had never really taken place (because let's face it... It does seem so very far fetched!), and that my pregnancy progressed without a single hitch...

There have been times during this pregnancy that it felt like the world stopped, just so my life could fall apart.

I have come a long way in 10 weeks, my mindet has become clearer and I managed to make peace with what may come to pass.

On Tuesday July 21st 2020, I went along to what I half expected to be my last scan and consultation appointment. I had woke to find that I had a bleed during the night, so I was glad to be heading off to have a check up.

As always the scan didn't really tell us much due to the low/no fluid, but as I had now reached 37 weeks pregnant. I was considered at term, a point in my pregnancy that no one ever really expected us to get too... I had been pushing for a potential induction from 37 weeks, but due to the bleed and how far gone I was, my consultant decided to examine me and see if she could perform a stretch and sweep.

I was told that I was already 1cm dilated and was so favourable that she had been able to touch Nugget's bottom! Nugget was of course still breech, but as far as breech birth's go, he was the good kind of breech. This meant that his bottom was firmly engaged and ready to go, just like the head would be in a normal delivery.

I wasn't overly surprised that I was already starting to dilate in one respect, I had wondered if the bleeding was a show, and it was pretty much confirmed during this appointment (Although later on I disovered that Nugget's placenta could have been starting to come away!)

After the scan I met up with my bereavement midwife Trudy. Trudy has been absolutely wonderful and given what may happen after Nugget arrives, Trudy offered to show me around the bereavement suite in case the worst does come about...

The bereavement suite was like a hotel room, it had a fridge stocked with sandwiches, cheese and biscuits and there was even ice cream in the freezer. It had doors that opened up to an outdoor garden space, and a private bathroom. 

We then walked through some double doors and into a delivery room. It was decided that I would labour and deliver in an actual delivery room as opposed to the bereavement suite, and then depending on what happened... Potentially move to the bereavement room after the birth.

It was nice to see where we would be and have a plan of action.

I had the stretch and sweep around 11:30am and then I made my way to pick Leo up. We went and met Leo's Aunt and Uncle at a local farm shop for brunch, and I told them that I thought I may be in early labour.

We decided that after a bite to eat we would head out on a nice long walk to try and get things moving along, I was hoping to be able to have a spontenous labour... If I didn't have Nugget by Friday, my midwife was coming out to perform another stretch and sweep, if that didn't work I was due to be induced on Monday 27th July 2020 (A whole month after Leo's birthday!).

37 weeks pregnant Oligohydramnios
I was pretty certain that I was starting to have niggles, and following the stretch and sweep I was losing more of the plug... I didn't want to jinx it but I had a feeling that I was going into spontenous labour!

At just before 16:00 on Tuesday 21st, I headed out on a 11k walk to hopefully really escalate things.

By the time I arrived at my parents house for dinner just after 18:00, I was confident that the contractions were most certainly happening. 

I am really lucky with how I feel contractions, they aren't painful. They are just not comfortable, my body seems to respond well to pregnancy, labour and delivery (just ashame that poor Nugget has had such a devastating prognosis). 

I did have to chuckle when my Mum told me what I was feeling was Braxton Hicks, I knew they weren't as I have never felt Braxton Hicks, it was then that I decided to download a contraction timer and start tracking how long the contractions were coming and how long they were lasting. 

Leo and I decided that we were going to have a movie evening, so I decided to pop to the shop and stock up on some snacks. I had a feeling I probably wouldn't be going to bed if things were going to go the way they went with Leo...

I strolled around Lidl with my contractions and wondered what might happen if I suddenly went into full blown labour. I had a chuckle when the friendly shop assistant realised I was actually in labour and out picking up snacks.

Leo and I came home and popped a film on, I hopped onto my birthing ball so I could bounce up and down and hopefully encourage Nugget along. My snack of choice was eating ice lollies like they were going out of fashion. Leo was wonderful and completely understood what was going on, and what may be about to happen.

37 weeks pregnant oligohydramnios

I was quite happy bouncing on my ball through each of the contractions, I was timing them as I went and everytime I got up for another ice lolly, Leo would cheekily steal the ball to have a go himself. I text my sister in law a screenshot of the contractions, they were happening on average every 3 minutes and lasting for 30 seconds. 

I didn't think this fell into the criteria of 'GET TO HOSPITAL ASAP' but my sister in law thought that I should call and let them know, as she thought Nugget might have plans to hit the eject button... So given the nature of our pretty unique situation, I did ring up the triage number on my notes. 

I spoke to a midwife just after 23:00 and explained how I was definetly having regular contractions, and I knew things were definetly progressing (despite how I was talking and holding myself), and that I thought I probably should come in to be seen due to the underlying issues...Especially since when I got in with Leo I was already 9 and a half cm (They told me not to come in as I was talking through the contractions!)

Contraction Timer

I had planned on driving myself but my second brother's girlfriend Carla had very kindly offered to take me over to Worcester hospital, my brother was coming to sit with Leo and the dog. After I had taken the dog out for a pee, showered and double checked my hospital bag (which I had finally packed and managed to keep the snack stash topped up on!), we made our way over to the hospital.

I joked that at least my water's wouldn't be going in Carla's car, and kept timing my contractions on the car ride over. We arrived at the hospital just after midnight, Carla asked me what I wanted her to do, did I want her to come with me and stay while I laboured, or did I want her to go home? 

I had said all along over the last 10 weeks that when the time came for Nugget to make his appearance, I would do it on my own. As Carla had very kindly brought me over, I thought it would be nice for her to stay, but I did warn her that this wasn't going to be your typical labour and delivery... And as she is yet to have a baby, it would probably be best not to base any future pregnancy's on what she may see...

Due to Covid I first had to be confirmed to be in established labour, and then it would be cleared for Carla to come in. I plodded over to the triage and ran into the midwife that I had spoken to on the phone, they decided that it would be best for me to be checked out on the labour and delivery ward.
37 weeks pregnant oligohydramnios

I was handed over to Kate who was going to be my midwife that night. I found I was in the same delivery suite that I had been shown earlier that morning. I hadn't anticipated being back quite so quickly!

Kate was lovely and I soon had a cup of tea in my hand. Everything was set up and then it was decided that we should see how I was dilating. I had guessed that I was probably about 4cm by this point, and Kate soon confirmed this! 

It was discovered that Nugget had a tiny pocket of fluid around him, I asked if it was enough to make any difference to his lungs... But sadly I was told that it wasn't.

We had already discussed my birthing plan and what that meant. I had opted for an un-monitored birth as I didn't want to be told during the actual labour if Nugget hadn't made it, I wanted to get the hard part over and done with and then have chance to hold my baby.

I could feel that the contractions were getting stronger, but I could still maintain a conversation. Kate said that she had been surprised anything was actually happening due to how I was holding a conversation and not screaming the place down. 

I remember asking 'How long do you think it will take to be fully dilated' and Kate responding, 'maybe a few hours?' So I paced around, sat on the loo and paced some more. The contractions were certainly progressing but I had given up timing them by this point.

Kate said that she was going to give me some time with Carla, the one instruction that I was given was 'give me some time to get back in if you think something is happening'. Which of course I dutifully promised to do. 

I was getting so warm, I asked Carla to whack the air conditioning all the way down. She looked like she was freezing, but I felt like I was on fire. I was missing the birthing pool and just how easy that made everything with Leo, but I knew that it sadly was not an option with little Nugget.

37 weeks pregnant in labour - Oligohydramnios

I spent most of my time just sat on the loo, and then suddenly I felt like I probably shouldn't sit there anymore... I plodded out of the toilet and told Carla to press the buzzer because the baby was coming and I didn't have any control...

I had been instructed that when the time came, the best position for me to be in for a breech birth, would be on my back. I knew I was going to struggle with being on my back, because although the contractions are ok when I am standing (or sat on the loo), I really struggle with sitting and laying down...I think this is because of the pressure.

So as I reached the bed, I threw myself onto all fours and knew that I had now lost any and all control. Thankfully Kate made it back into the room and just managed to get her gloves on as Nugget bombed into the world bum first. 

I can quite honestly say that I didn't push, he just arrived. And he arrived fast, around 45 minutes after I asked how long the actual labour may potentially take...

In the end I had only a few puffs on the gas and air, before I decided that I didn't like it and ended up just forgoing pain relief.

Louis Christopher was born at 1:30am exactly weighing a tiny 3lbs 5oz.

Louis was born alive and in his membranes, despite the worry being that he wouldn't survive a natural birth. 

Louis was born quietly and never let out a cry.

 I remember asking 'Is he alive? Did he make it?' I was told that he was alive but his heart rate was slow.

There was a little worry that I may be losing a little more blood than they would have liked, but it was later said to me that the placenta might have been starting to abrupt. This could have lead to a very different type of labour and delivery. It is possible that given a few more days.... Weeks... That the placanta could have abrupted and Louis's life support be turned off while he was still in utero.

Oligohydramnios Birth - Pulmonary Hypoplasia

The moment Louis arrived, the contractions stopped and I was suddenly freezing.

I knew that if Louis was handed straight to me that medical intervention wasn't going to be pursued, and once the pediatrician entered the room (part of the reason I was supposed to give them as much time as possible, was so that the pediatrician could be outside and ready to come in! But Louis had other plans!) it was quickly decided that little Louis was too poorly and I was told that he was going to be handed straight to me.

I knew exactly what this meant.

Oligohydramnios Birth - Pulmonary Hypoplasia
I was still on all fours at this point, so Louis was passed back up through my legs. I just kept telling him how sorry I was, over and over again. He looked just like Leo, he had a beautiful little face and little button nose, he was gorgeous.

I suddenly noticed that his leg seemed to be in a funny position, I asked if that was because of the low fluid, and it was explained to me that it was a common injury from a breech birth. Louis had disclocated his hip and his leg was actually up over his broken heart. 

Both of Louis's feet had been affected by the low fluid, and he had what they call Club Foot or Bilateral Talipes. 

I stayed in the position I had given birth in snuggling my little fighter and drinking him in, unsure just how much time I would get with him. I was asked if I would like to be the one to cut the cord, but I think I was in shock at just how fast things had escalated. So I watched as Louis life support for the last 8 and a bit months was cut away. 

It was decided that due to a fibroid in my uterus that it would be best for me to have the injection in my leg to bring the placenta on, as this carried less risk. In my hyped up state, I was certain the placenta looked just like a steak!

Oligohydramnios Birth - Pulmonary Hypoplasia

Louis was put into the outfit I had brought in for him to wear, It was a preemie outfit with little blue teddy bears on it. It was made to fit baby's who weighed between 1.5lbs and 3.5lbs. 

I wrapped him up in Leo's favourite blanket and just held him. I was so scared to move, so scared to hurt him, so scared he may be in pain from his hip and leg.

Louis never ever cried, and he never ever opened up his eyes.

He had fought all these months, and he had fought all the way to be in my arms. 

I just stared at him, and wished I could make him better. 
Oligohydramnios Birth - Pulmonary Hypoplasia

Carla had been amazing, she had rubbed my back and been there for the whole labour and very quick birth of Louis. Then she rang my brother and decided to go and pick Leo up in the deep thick of night so that he could hopefully meet his baby brother in time...

I was given some time on my own with Louis, I said so much to him, but I don't really recall what I said, I whispered to him and the labour play list rumbled away in the background. I wanted to take so many videos of him, so many photos, but I was so scared to move. 

I don't remember what I said to him, I know I told him I loved him over and over. I stroked his face and felt his warmth... It was like time had stood still, but it was actually running away.

Leo arrived and met Louis, and somewhere in that meeting, I touched Louis's little cheek and realised that he had started to go cool...

I knew that my little fighter baby had gone to sleep forever, and he wasn't going to wake back up again. 

Weirdly I didn't cry, the adrenaline was still buzzing round my body. I held Louis until Carla, Chris and Leo left and then Kate took Louis over to the table for the pediatrician to check his heart rate. I already knew he was gone, but Louis's little broken heart was confirmed to have stopped at around 3am.

Louis lived for 2 whole hours, we both fought so hard to meet each other. 

It wasn't the ending that I wanted of course, but it was an ending that I had been mentally prepared for. An ending that I think on a subconcious level I knew was going to come to pass.

I had some full on deja vu moments in the hours and days since Louis threw himself into the world. One of these instances was when I was sat in the bath in the delivery suite, not long after little Louis had left, it was a feeling of complete familiarity that washed over me and consumed me. Something that I felt I had dreamed at some point, or perhaps even lived. 

It was just like some prophecy was coming true, that perhaps I always knew I was going to get to meet Louis, but sadly keeping him was not on the cards.

I wished so hard for Louis to keep breaking the rules and for a miracle to keep him safe and here with me...

Oligohydramnios Birth - Pulmonary Hypoplasia - Tetralogy of Fallot

It turns out that a miracle did happen, and that miracle was his couragous fight and surpassing all the milestones that I was told he would not. The miracle was him making each and every appointment, the miracle was us having a sponteneous labour and Louis actually surviving the birth. 

If this was the way it had to be, then I am so glad that things worked out the way that they did. Louis made it all the way to his Mumma's waiting arms, and he spent 2 hours wrapped up in love and warmth, before his closed eyes remained closed and my beautiful fighter went off to sleep.

I am so proud of my little warrior baby. 

Oligohydramnios Birth - Pulmonary Hypoplasia - Tetralogy of Fallot

I will love him forever and I will carry each and every lesson he taught me for the rest of my life.

It has been a busy week in the time since Louis left and I am currently in the process of planning his funeral which takes place on Friday 7th August - 2 days before his due date, and a day before my birthday.

I have an acceptance of what happened because the whole pregnancy shaped me for what was going to happen, but my heart is truly broken and part of me has died with him. 

Keeping busy is my only way forward right now, I will update on the rest of last week and this coming week in a seperate post, but I just wanted to let everyone who has willed him on, prayed for him and lived this with me, know that he made it all the way into my arms <3

Monday, 29 June 2020

32 - 34 Weeks Pregnant - IUGR and Anhydramnios

34 Weeks Pregnant - IUGR Anhydramnios Oligohydramnios

It's been a few weeks since I sat down to write a Nugget update, and it has certainly been a busy few weeks to say the least. 

Following on from my last post, I am pleased to say that a new normality is forming (even amongst furloughed life and Covid 19). Leo and I are making plans for the future and despite having some storms to weather over the coming weeks and months, we are so excited to start house hunting and moving on with the next chapter of our lives.

34 Weeks Pregnant - IUGR Anhydramnios Oligohydramnios

I am very lucky to have an incredibly supportive family, and if it wasn't for them I would probably still be sat curled up in a ball on the floor and rocking relentlessly backwards and forwards. A big drive for me has been getting moving, putting on my headphones and going out on some rather epic walks just to clear the fog that descends in my mind. 

Endorphins really are the best anti-depressent ever!

Nugget has been breaking more rules over the last few weeks, at 32 weeks I had to take a trip to hospital due to a bleed. It was at this point I realised how under prepared I was, I didn't even have the basics for a hospital bag, and despite making a list weeks ago... I didn't have a clue what I needed.

I called up the triage and overloaded them with information about baby and myself, they told me I needed to come in and get checked over. They told me to bring my hospital bag in case they needed to keep me in, or in case baby was going to make an appearance. 

They asked me who was bringing me in, and I explained that I would be driving myself. The guy seemed shocked and advised me to get dropped off, but I explained that it was fine and this was how I wanted to do it.  

33 Weeks Pregnant - IUGR Anhydramnios Oligohydramnios

I started to throw things into a bag and explaining to Leo that he was going to have to stay with Grandma and Grandad while I went over to Worcester to get checked. I explained that I didn't know what was going to happen or what time I would be back, and thankfully he was absolutely fine about it all. 

Leo actually said the most lovely thing to me this week, and anyone who has followed this blog for a time will know that he has always had a favourite blanket. It's something I have always found very endearing about him, over the years I have managed to get my hands on about 5 of these blankets (actually a cot duvet that was part of a cot set from Toys R Us!) on Ebay! 

Leo wants his baby brother to have one of these blankets, he wants me to take one with me to hospital when he is born especially for him. 

This beautiful gesture on Leo's part equally melted and broke my heart all at the same time!

I have found being honest about everything with Leo as it happens the best way to keep him happy with what is happening/going to happen. I threw what I thought I may need into a bag and off we went.

When I arrived at hospital triage was full, so I was taken down to the delivery ward and set up in a room for them to do all their checks on baby.

Everyone was so lovely, I had to explain how complicated the situation was to quite a few different people, and as baby was looking so good on the trace machine, for the first time in my entire pregnancy I was told not to give up hope.

This both floored and confused me further...

Nugget looked nice and strong on the trace machine which was nice to see, but I always find this difficult as I know that the scans paint a very different picture. We were left on there for quite a while which was fine with me. I had been handed a little clicker that I had to press everytime I felt him move. 

32 Weeks Pregnant - IUGR Anhydramnios Oligohydramnios

Of course Nugget decided to stay very still, but that wasn't out of the ordinary for him, he has never moved like I remember Leo moving, as he has got bigger the movements have changed. Instead of being a foot or hand to the stomach, it's more of an overall movement. Almost like a swipe as his entire body slowly moves to where he wants to go.

33 Weeks Pregnant - IUGR Anhydramnios Oligohydramnios

I have always put this down to the low/no fluid, he's essentially vaccum packed and doesn't have the opportunity to kick or hit out. So Nugget's movements are not so pronounced, which of course is normal for him and what I am used to. 

It is always quite tricky to explain though...

Eventually the on duty consultant came to see me, they checked to see if they could see why or where the bleed had originated (they used a torch and I couldn't help but chuckle!), but it wasn't obvious and as it had been old blood they weren't overly concerned. 

It was with the consultant that I discussed my birth plan and what I wanted to happen, up until this point they were talking about keeping me in overnight for monitoring. When they heard that I was having an un-monitored birth they decided it was ok to send me home again.

Over the next few days I had some on/off bleeding and what I think was a 'show', just before I was off on a 10k walk, as you can see.... I still went!

33 Weeks Pregnant - IUGR Anhydramnios Oligohydramnios

I had my next official consultant and scan appointment on the 23rd June where I would be 33 weeks and 2 days pregnant. I could feel Nugget moving around in his fashion so I decided to wait until then to discuss all of this.

The consultant in charge of my case is amazing, I have so much respect for her and all she has done for Nugget and I. The first thing she asked me was 'Are you still feeling him move?' to which I informed her that he was still here and fighting!

Everytime I tell her that he is still with us she looks shocked, he keeps defying all the odds placed on him and breaking all the rules. We discussed my trip to hospital the week prior, how I was with everything else that had been going on behind the scenes (which thankfully was all incredibly positive!) and the scan commenced! 

As always a thorough check of Nugget was carried out, and as always you don't see a lot on the scans due to there being no fluid, but I instantly saw the beating of his little broken heart. It's been months since I saw anything that actually resembled a baby on the screen, but I know he is in there.

As the scan continued I saw her hovering over what I thought could potentially look like a stomach, but as Nugget's stomach had never been seen on a scan in the past...I thought that I was just jumping the gun and that this wouldn't be the case. 

As it happens... My consultant started talking about how she could see what appeared to be fluid in baby boy's stomach!

33 Weeks Pregnant - IUGR Anhydramnios Oligohydramnios

I asked how this could be? 

Where had the fluid come from? 

The consultant looked just as baffled as myself, and she told me that 'he really was a little enigma'. 

That much is certainly true!

Nugget is weighing in at an estimated 2lbs 1oz (absolutely tiny for his gestation), but he has grown. I was then told that it was positive that he was growing, and if it was just the heart condition and Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR) then there could be some hope, but obviously we have the Anhydramnios and small lungs at play in our scenario too... Along with potentially things we don't even know about yet.

There is still zero fluid around baby (Anhydramnios) and he is still breech. My consultant thinks that even though he continues to grow and stay put for now, ultimately when we get to delivering him, this is potentially where we could lose him. 

This prompted a number of questions on my part, as I was so confused on what I needed to include in my hospital bag. 

Packing a hospital bag that didn't really include anything for baby was so foreign to me and I was certain that I was missing essential items..

Did I need to include nappies? Baby grows? 

Anything for baby at all?

It was decided that I should maybe purchase some premature baby clothes, but I got the impression that was more for me than it was for the baby. I figure he will only need clothes that early on if he loses his fight, as if he was in NICU then he wouldn't really require clothes...

As for nappies, it was explained that I wouldn't be able to purchase them small enough for my little fighter.

It looks as though I will still have the Pediatrician at the birth, and ultimately if he is born alive, his fate lies in his hands. He will make the overall decision on whether to intervene or to let nature take it's course...

I have to admit that I have been doubting my decision over whether or not I want steriods for baby before he arrives. It really is a difficult decision and I think that is the one thing that I will keep going over and over in my mind, as I said last time I have decided against having them, but what if this is the wrong decision?

Maybe I will get more clarity from future scans, maybe things could look more positive? Maybe the decision will be taken completely out of my hands and be irrelevant anyway... It really is just a case of waiting and seeing what happens next.

I am hoping that I will be induced should I reach 36/37 weeks, I feel this will allow more control over when and how baby arrives into the world, and I feel the need to control any aspect of what can actually be controlled in a very out of my control situation. 

Sunday, 28 June 2020

Leo Turns NINE

XRocker Adrenaline Game Chair

The year of 2020 meant that Leo was turning 9 years old, and right in the midst of a rather crazy time with Covid 19 thrown into the scenario. 

It's been a busy old year already, one that has been testing for both Leo and myself. 

From March onwards Leo and I were both at home conforming with lockdown and self isolation, and when we next poked our heads outside, Winter had given way to Spring. 

I really cannot begin to sum up that boy of mine, Leo has acted beyond his years on many occasions this year and has had to contend with more than I can ever imagine. Yet he has done so with a huge strength, courage and his Mumma's positivity.

If there is one trait of mine that I hope I can instill in Leo, it's that. 

To always stay positive, keep moving forward and if you do get knocked down, to pick yourself back up again and just keep pushing on. 

I really do feel that 2020 has been a glowing example of this, and no matter the knocks that we have faced as a team, he knows that I am still fiercly championing him on. 

The feeling of pride I feel when I look at the boy I have watched grow up from a tiny newborn baby, into the grown up little man he is today is immense. I am so proud of this little human that I have had a hand in shaping, his compassion and empathy have brought light to days I have felt dark. 

His kindness and love have made me smile when I didn't feel like smiling. 

His charm and witt have had me crying with laughter, and together we have become strong.

With everything that has gone on in the pregnancy and the worries about his baby brother, Leo has been the wind in my sails. He has told me that everything will be ok, and been the strength I needed to get up and keep going. 

Leo's 9th Birthday was one I wanted to really pull out all of the stops for, with everything that has been relentlessly weathering around us, I wanted to present Leo with the ultimate gift. Something I knew that would make him beam from the inside out...

A gift fitting for the incredible boy that I get to call mine.

XRocker Adrenaline Game Chair

The preperations and research started weeks ago, Leo's downtime like many children his age involves a Nintento Switch and a very popular game that I don't understand.... Fortnite. For a long time Leo has wished for his very own game chair, but I have always said that until we purchased our home that we wouldn't be able to make room for one right now...

I decided that if I moved his room around, then I may actually be able to make a decent amount of space that would potentially be ideal for a gaming chair. Of course in typical Laura style, I found the chair that fit the requirements and ordered it long before I actually came to sort Leo's bedroom out!

My brilliant Dad and I built the chair and hid it away in their house until the big day, and then on what turned out to be the hottest day of the year... I began to sort Leo's bedroom out. I moved the bed and re-arranged his bedside tables, and my efforts were rewarded when a very obvious space for a gaming chair appeared. 

I am big on Birthday's, especially Birthday's for little man. I filled his room with the helium balloons that I had chosen for him and spaced them all around his game chair. It was all worth it for his absolutely golden reaction. 

I have been thanked on countless occassions since he recieved it (as have his Grandma and Grandad who very kindly put Leo's birthday money towards it!). 

Seeing that look of pure joy on his face was exactly what I had hoped to achieve, and if there was one boy deserving of such a grand gift, it is my Leo.

9th Birthday

Leo's birthday fell on a Saturday, just as the nice weather ended. Weirdly just like the weather on the day he was born back in 2011. We had a relatively quiet day hiding from the rain, we popped out in the morning to pick up his Birthday cake that I had ordered from a local cake maker (Of course it had to be Chocolate for my Chocolate cake fiend of a child!) and then we came back and made bacon sandwiches!

The rest of the day was spent at Leo's grandparents, my Mum cooked up a big homemade chinese dinner (Leo's favourite!) and then finished up with cake and a brazier fire in the garden.

Leo had the best day and was spoiled rotten from start to finish, just as I had wanted and just as I had planned.

9th Birthday

Day's later Leo is still saying 'Thank You' for his gaming chair and the appreciation is very clear. 

My baby boy is now 9 years old, and we have quite the year ahead.

One that will see us welcoming a baby boy and working through the aftermath as a team, finding and buying our family home, MOVING AGAIN, decorating and getting Leo's bedroom set up exactly the way he wants it and finding our places in the world.

I am so lucky to have this boy by my side and I can't wait for this next chapter with him.

Happy Birthday baby boy!

Wednesday, 10 June 2020

31 Weeks Pregnant

31 Weeks Pregnant - Oligohydramnios

It's been quiet around here, and with good reason. 

Baby boy is still here with us, fighting on as he always has. 

I have had to take some time out, some time to try and rebuild the foundations that have been rocked to their very core. 

My full attention should be focused on Nugget and his impending arrival, but instead I am pondering my future with Leo and the pup. Instead of packing a hospital bag, I have been sitting mortgage appointments and refreshing RightMove hoping that my dream buy (within my new budget may pop up).

At 28 weeks pregnant my fiance left. 

The reasons as to why he left are pretty laughable (and excuses at their finest especially given that I am preganant with our sick baby) but right now all that's important is he walked out on me when I needed him the most.

I will never forgive him for that. 

The days and weeks that followed did so in a blur of tears and confusion. I felt resent that my hope for the baby had been diminished and I felt like I was in limbo. 

31 Weeks Pregnant - Oligohydramnios

The feeling of no longer wanting to be pregnant set in, the reality of Nugget surviving as a single parent scared me more than I could have imagined. What if he did indeed continue to defy all the odd's and expectations that had been placed upon him?

What if he needed permenant care that would stop me from working?   

I cast my mind back to the 20 week fetal medicine appointment, would I have made a very different choice had I known all of the facts about the life that I thought was so stable and secure? Sadly I believe that yes, yes I would have. 

I made my decision to carry on with the pregnancy because I was in a commited and stable relationship. Suddenly I was pregnant with a sick baby and on my own.

Here I was at 28 weeks pregnant all alone, when all I really needed was to be pulled close and told that everything was going to be ok. Of course the one person who could have provided that safety blanket, and should have wrapped it around me without hesitation had left me carrying our baby and already started his new life.

At 28 weeks pregnant my friend reached out and asked if I would like some bump photos taken. It had been something I was considering as I didn't know how long I would be pregnant for, and given the prognosis, any memories I could make of this time would be greatly appreciated. 

I made a concious decision on that day, there was a choice between a White and a Black dress. I decided ahead of time that the Black dress was very fitting for this particular shoot. The Black dress represented the expected outcome of my pregnancy and also the outcome of my failed relationship. 

Had the situation been different the White dress would have been the obvious choice, but right now this Black dress represents a lot of what is and has been going on in my life.

So I shook off the hurt and glammed myself up for a bump shoot, and I have to say that I am so glad that I did. I will treasure these photos forever, and will most certainly be having some prints framed for our new home!

31 Weeks Pregnant - Oligohydramnios

On the 2nd June I was back at Worcester Hospital for a follow up scan, Nugget had reached yet another milestone that some had believed was out of reach. 

I thought by this point I would be able to stay composed enough to explain that Luke wouldn't be at this appointment or any subsequent ones. As soon as I was asked if he was joining us, the tears fell uncontrollably. By this point I wasn't sure why I was crying, was it sadness? Anger? Frustration? A combination of every emotion I had been feeling? 

As always my consultant went above and beyond, I could tell she wanted to wrap me up into the world's biggest hug, but Covid 19 and all of her PPE wear prevented more than her holding my hand and gently rubbing it.

I lay down on the same bed I had all of those times before, only this time I didn't have any expectations, I had already been pondering what I wanted to do, and all that was left was for me to tell my consultant. 

I recognised bits of baby popping into view, but as always it was clear as soon as the doppler hit my belly that baby boy still had no amniotic fluid. By this point it was classed as complete Anhydramnios.

Nugget's heart was inspected again, it was noted that it looked to be larger in his chest cavity than it should be, and this was likely down to his lungs being so small that they hadn't developed. 

Eventually Nugget was measured, which is always difficult when there is no fluid, and it was estimated that he was around 1.5lbs. This means that he had only put on around 4oz since my last scan at 26 weeks.

In typical Nugget style, he had now turned breech again! At my last scan he was head down and essentially ready for birth... But even without fluid little Nugget liked to keep me on my toes.

Baby boy is so very small for his gestation, the prognosis is that he may pass away before my next scan in a couple of weeks, during delivery or shortly after birth (the same as always).

31 Weeks Pregnant - Oligohydramnios

I explained to my consultant that given my new circumstances, I no longer wanted to pursue steroids or medical intervention. I asked if there was a way I could be induced now... It was explained that the only way to get baby out at this stage would be via a c-section. She believed that if a c-section was performed he would be born alive and I may get some time with him...

I want to have Nugget naturally, whether that means being induced over the next couple of months... or if he decides to come on his own. All I want to do is meet him, hold him and let him know how much I love him.

 This was all discussed with my consultant, I told her I felt like the fight had been knocked out of me, that I hated feeling like I had given up on my baby. It was at this point that she took my hand again and told me that all she had ever seen me do, was fight for my baby boy. 

This made me cry all over again.

So it was decided, they will scan me again in a few weeks. I don't know whether this will prompt them to bring baby on or if they will just let me keep going. I have been warned that the likelyhood of a still birth is high.

When the time comes the birth won't be monitored, baby boy's heartbeat won't be checked. What will be will be. 

I have been advised to write a birth plan so that I don't have to answer lot's of questions while I labour. Sitting down and writing a birth plan for a baby who is not expected to survive is so foreign. 

Do you pack nappies? Babygrows? 

Putting pen to paper and saying that you want your baby to be born and handed straight to you knowing what that will mean, not asking the medical professionals to help or intervene...

After the scan I had my bloods checked again as I had missed my 28 week midwife appointment with all of the madness going on. Usually this would be the end of my hospital jaunt, but this time I was ushered into another room to speak with their crisis team.

My consultant had asked them to have a chat with me and support me if needed. The midwife walked into the room and asked how I was. I told her I was fine, but as soon as she said 'That's not what i've been told...' the whole sorry tale started spilling out of my mouth for the second time that day.

The poor midwife looked like she was about to cry with me. We talked through all of the options I wanted for the birth and she agreed that it was important for me to do what was best for me, not to worry about other people.

31 Weeks Pregnant - Oligohydramnios

I have decided that I will labour and birth alone, this now has to be a private time for me to meet that beautiful boy of mine as it really does feel that this entire pregnancy has been something I have fought alone. 

I want to take all my photos, record footage of him and take casts of his hands and feet.

I need to be selfish.

I want to tell Nugget that I am sorry for losing my fight, that I am sorry for not being a better Mummy, that I am sorry his Daddy didn't have any fight for any of us at all. 

When I first saw those two faint blue lines on that pregnancy test back in November, I was so full of excitement. I imagined this little baby being welcomed into our secure family fold. I imagined Leo meeting his baby brother for the first time, getting all teary as he snuggled him in close for a big brother hug and snapping that tender moment that would sit proudly on display.

I still have the dream that Leo will get to hold his baby brother. I still want that for him, and that photograph will be one that we treasure forever.

It's been 3 weeks since I took this journey on solo. 

I have come a long way in that short space of time. I have started getting all of my ducks in a row, I can sleep at night again, the tummy knots have gone away revealing a nice calm feeling that I didn't think would ever return.

Somewhere in those 3 weeks I realised that Leo and I deserved so much more than what we have been given. The lies and deciet, the abdonment, the continued lies. 

We have a difficult few months to weather, but I am a firm believer that you have to travel difficult roads to get to beautiful destinations. I am lucky to have a great support network of family and friends, people who check in everyday to make sure that we are ok.

Once the next few months have passed and I have met that beautiful baby boy of mine, the only way forward will be onwards and upwards. I will turn this situation around, make the most of the time we get with Nugget and then do everything within my power to provide the very best life for Leo. 

We will weather this storm and then we will pick ourselves up and live our lives.