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.