Ni Hao

Which is how Tom says “New House”.  I was incredibly confused for a while, why had my son started saying hello in Mandarin? Where had he picked it up from?  It wasn’t until we were driving away from our new house and Tom started plaintively saying “bye bye ni hao” that I understood what he meant.  Tom is rather pleased with his new home, he has a proper sized bedroom at last and thanks to Great Granddad’s neighbour a (nearly) new big boy’s single bed.  (House clearance – I don’t think anyone died in it, no stains on the mattress anyway)  Bedtime is now Tom’s favourite time of day, ask him if it’s bedtime yet anytime after Waybaloo and he’s marching up the stairs to the bathroom to clean his teeth.  That he bounces out of bed almost as soon as we turn the light out after the last bedtime story is probably a surprise to no one, but he stays in his room, doesn’t play too loudly and is quite delirously happy with his new bed.  Mornings are a bit more challenging for us, he stands outside of our bedroom making a noise until he knows he’s woken one of us up, then he charges in with demands that Simon goes down stairs to make breakfast.  He does do this after 6am so we can’t complain too much but it would be a lot nicer if he didn’t do it at all on the weekend.

Emily is thriving – still a small baby but perfectly formed, she’s nine weeks old now, smiling but not for the camera.  I don’t get the time to take as many pictures of her as I did with Tom, and she’s perhaps not quite as photogenic as Tom was at the same age.  And shockingly I’ve not had the time to upload any recent photos to my computer *quickly connects the iphone to the lappy*

Getting used to having 2 children to look after has been hard but not as hard as getting used to looking after one.  We get out and about a bit, mostly short walks exploring our new neighbourhood, unpacking the house is taking a long time, either one or both of them need my attention and I’ve got the normal fight against squalor to win each day (for a given value of squalor and win)  I fear that Cbeebies has been on a lot more than I would like but I’m also pleased that Tom is beginning to show some discernment and doesn’t like either Zingzillas or Grandfather in My Pocket – that’s my lad!

I’m taking advantage of Simon taking Tom on a trip to the Tip and the shops to blog.

And they’re back with a compost bin and food.  A huge compost bin, we’re going to take a while to fill it.  I better go supervise its installment.





I need to write a post of a decent length to cover all that has been going on, but I don’t seem to have the time.  Strange that!

So a quickish update instead.  Emily was weighed on Friday and was now only 95 grams off below her birth weight, which is excellent, she was also measured for length and head circumference.  She was 50 cm long and her head circumference was 35.6 cms.  She’s small for her age, because she’s not premature, but if she had been born just one day earlier she would have been considered as a preemie, and then she would have been above average.  If she stays small or catches up like her cousin Katy did (born at 38 weeks, in preemie clothes for a while, now threatening to be taller than me by the time she’s 12) it doesn’t matter as she’s just dandy.

Feeding is so much more rewarding and enjoyable than it was with Tom at the same stage, I’m not in pain from cracked nipples so cluster feeding isn’t an exquisite form of torture.  Also touch wood, she doesn’t seem to be developing colic.  Tom had it by now in the afternoons and evenings, it was hideous, very stressful as I couldn’t hold him for long enough to sooth him properly.

Emily is still all about the touch, she loves to be held and enjoys being swaddled.  I do find it a bit enveloping at times, especially over the last couple of days when the weather has been muggy.  I’ve found myself feeling all touched out, all I’ve wanted to do is lay on my bed and not touch anyone or anything more complicated than a duvet.  Being able to pass her over to Simon for a cuddle have been important.

We handed in notice on the house we are renting and have to be out middle of the month, we still don’t have a moving date for our new house, so we are moving in with my mum for the duration.  The children and I are going to move this weekend in order to give Simon a chance to pack the house up, move boxes to his parents etc before we have to hand over the keys.  It’s a bit of a bummer as we had strongly hoped that our house would have been ready by now, but we are fed up with living here, having my mum on tap to help with the children as I recover from the c-section and saving money on the rent were all very attractive reasons to hand in notice.

Right I better finish now as the girl child has done a “nappy” and I need to contain it!

Emily Anne

Emily Anne

Originally uploaded by Jane Goth

A week ago I had the c-section that saw little Emily join the world. Weighing in at just shy of 3 kilos or 6lb 10oz in imperial. Her birth was a fun relaxed affair compared to the gruelling marathon that I had with Tom.

She’s a joy, beautiful when she’s not doing her cross spider monkey impressions. She loves being held. She seems tiny and delicate compared to Tom at the same stage but he was 4.20 kg, and 41 weeks whereas Emily was born at 37 weeks 0days.

Her tinyness bit us though. She was a sleepy feeder from the birth and although I thought she was getting better at feeding, she lost over 10% of her birth weight by day 5. So we ended up back in hospital on Wednesday. The hospital admitted us as they needed to check that there wasn’t any underlying issues with Emily, that I was producing enough milk and to get Emily feeding enough.

Fortunately there is nothing wrong with Emily and I am producing enough milk. After 24 hours of feeding “bootcamp” Emily has put on weight and her feeding has improved.

We’re back home now, I’m on the iPad, sitting in bed resting while Emily is sleeping besides me. Bliss.

Finishing Line

I blogged a few weeks back about how I wasn’t enjoying this pregnancy, it would be remarkable if I did considering all that has happened. What I didn’t make clear was how stressful I’ve found it since we got the first diagnosis. There have been mercifully few times of extreme stress, but I’ve lived with constant low level stress for the last 23 weeks or so. It’s really getting to me now, as I get bigger, slower, more pain and discomfort as we approach the birthing hour.

I’ve only had two periods of sheer terror where I thought we were not going to have a live baby. The first one was around when we got the diagnosis of TRAP Sequence. During the second dating scan the sonographer looked at the “dead” twin to confirm her colleague’s diagnosis that it was non viable. I looked briefly at the screen, saw that it had changed from the week before, but then the shutters must have gone down in my brain.  I looked away and put it firmly out of my mind. That was a Wednesday.

Friday morning, my brain woke up, I reached for my copy of “What To Expect When You’re Expecting” and turned to the “When Things Go Horribly Wrong” section. The only thing listed that described a changing “dead” foetus was a molar pregnancy, Dr Google added the very gruesome information that a molar “foetus” would, if left unchecked, continue growing until it enveloped and snuffed out its healthy twin. There was no recommended treatment that could save the life of the baby.

I screamed.

Simon had to leave me to go to work that morning, he apparently spent most of the morning looking for alternative diagnosis. He also contacted the obs & gyne clinic asking for someone to tell us what was wrong. He got one of the lead midwives, she told him that she had just been on the verge of ringing me; the sonographer recognised the dead baby as an acardiac twin and elevated my case to the consultant who had to review the ultrasounds herself. The midwife told Simon that they strongly believed that the “dead” twin was acardiac (no heart, no head) she also told him that it was treatable and the healthy baby had a chance. Si immediately rang me to pass on the news. “Good” news in fact as there was hope. That Friday morning, the time between reading about molar pregnancy to Si and the midwife ringing me to tell me there was a chance:  that was my lowest point.

The second time I thought we had lost the baby, was this Wednesday at my routine midwife appointment. She felt for the baby, then started to listen for a heartbeat and could not find one.  I don’t know how long it took her to locate it, but it felt like a lifetime to me. I tried to reassure myself that I had felt the baby move not just an hour ago but it didn’t work. When Jackie told me that she had got a heartbeat I broke down and cried and cried and cried. Which set Tom off so I had to try pull myself together for his sake. That was my other lowest point.

I can’t deal with this stress anymore, it’s a weight crushing me, I worry every time I realise the baby hasn’t moved for five minutes, I worry if the movement seems sluggish or too energetic. I told Jackie all this, she said enough is enough you need a date.

Jackie got in touch with the obs & gyne clinic and I got a call from my consultant yesterday. She was very sympathetic, offered to admit me until the birth if it would help reassure me and keep me rested. I declined as it’s not fair on Tom and I got hangar rash last time I was admitted. If I wanted I could have had a scan today for reassurance. She also told me that I could go to the day assessment unit anytime they were open if I was the slightest bit worried.

Most importantly she got how grim I was feeling. I don’t know what Jackie said but she must have got across the state I was in far better than I’ve managed to in the past. Maybe that’s because when I’ve seen my consultant we’ve all focused on the baby and how she’s doing, at my midwife appointments the focus is more on me and my well being. The result of all this is that my consultant said I could have the baby whenever I wanted, I’d been through a lot of stress with this pregnancy and I didn’t need anymore.

And, you know what, I immediately started to feel better. We discussed timings, I think we’re looking at either the Monday or Tuesday after I turn 37 weeks so Baby’s birthday will probably be the 22nd or the 23rd. Of course medical reasons may intervene and she might arrive before then, but at last we’ve got an end date.

Edited 12 August for sense and grammar.

Thirty Five Weeks

I had my weekly scan this morning. The baby is doing well she’s active and the dopplers are good but the amniotic fluid levels are only so so. The AFI has been yo-yoing over the last few weeks and today it’s back to being borderline. I don’t have to see her until next Monday as all the other measurements were good.

I caught Tom’s cold over the weekend and not shaken it off yet, the obs and gyne clinic is at one of the far ends of the hospital, I now find walking up from the car park to the clinic is exhausting. I was not at my best when I saw the consultant, which is probably why she ordered me to rest this week. So Tom is now at his Nana’s and I’m tucked up in bed with the iPad.

As I’ve got rest I’ll leave it there.

33 Weeks

The reason I didn’t post last week was that all was going swimmingly well, both for baby and me.  That was until Wednesday, when I woke up with a very sore right foot,  it wasn’t swollen or bruised but it hurt a lot when I put it on the ground.  Fortunately I was able to get a very quick appointment with my GP after my midwife appointment that afternoon, nothing broken just some soft tissue damage, but it was agony.

Wednesday night I started to feel most unwell with stomach cramps, and eventually a most unhappy bottom.  Thursday was spent recovering from a miserable night, Simon who had had the bug earlier in the week, tenderly took the day off to care for Tom and I.  By Friday evening I was finally feeling better when I discovered I had ever so slightly pink wee.  I immediately ruled out cystitis and remembered that it was the pink wee that finally made me realise that my waters had broken when I was pregnant with Tom.  Not that I thought my waters had gone, but a quick call the to delivery suite was probably in order.

They called me in.  Confident that it was just something that needed to be checked out rather than worried about, I set off to the hospital alone, leaving Simon to do an quick tidy up in case it was more serious and my mother in law had to come over to baby sit Tom.  I arrived at about 9:30ish in the evening, given a bed to rest on in the small recovery ward and a cup of coffee, while the midwives and nurses bustled around with quiet determination.  Even though it was a busy night, I was checked, monitored, sampled, examined, given a reason for the blood (“sensitive” cervix) and sent on my way again within 2 and half hours.

This morning I had my regular U/S scan.  Baby is doing well, good dopplers and she’s got yet bigger.  After having a smaller than average head circumference a few weeks back, she’s now packing away the brain cells. The first reading my consultant did showed a circumference measurement expected on a 37 weeker! So she checked the measurements again,  looking carefully at what brain structure could been seen on the ultrasound.  Happily baby’s brain looks normal, and the redone measurements while still over the 5oth are more reasonable. Baby’s leg and abdominal circumference are big too which also makes the head measurements not look so abnormal.

The AFI however isn’t good, from a nice measurement of 10.5cm last Monday it has dropped down to 6.6cm which now places me firmly in the borderline category.  The baby did have a full bladder and stomach so there’s a bit more amniotic fluid to be had once she’d done a wee.  However the levels keep fluctuating and each time they dip, they dip lower.  Because of this I’ve been “promoted” to the the twice weekly ultrasound club.  My next scan is on Thursday with a sonographer, hopefully the levels will have gone up again, if not they’ll call my consultant in and we’ll take it from there.

I’m not worried, even if the baby has to be delivered this Friday, she’s big, she’s healthy and she’ll be 34 weeks then, so the risk of adverse effects from prematurity are so much lower than they were even a week or so ago. Of course 35 weeks is better than 34, and we are aiming for 37 weeks, but whatever happens now, I’m pretty confident she’s going to be ok.

Edited 26 July for sense and grammar.

2 Year Check

Now that Tom is out of warranty, he gets a final check up before being signed out of the Health Visitors’ books. He had that check up today with one of the nursery nurses. The nursery nurses that work in the team are really good, they know their stuff. She checked Tom’s hand eye co-ordination then gross and fine motor skills. Then it was on to the all important language skills. She put out a few objects on the floor and asked Tom to pass them to her. He did ok on those except for the ball and cup which he was very engrossed in and when he did eventually respond to her request for the cup, he gave her the ball. She tested his language skills asking what things were called, he was ok with most things except the cup again, she asked “what’s this?” silence from Tom, finally she said “cup” he replied “ball”

We’ve been worried about Tom’s speech for a wee while, a few weeks before his birthday he only had about 20 words and then we were interpreting the different intonations he gave to “baa” to mean about 4 of those words. Then about 2 weeks before his second birthday he had a speech explosion, he learnt new words everyday, he now tries to repeat a word after we’ve said it, instead of staying mute as he did before. His pronunciation is becoming clearer with every day. Although he is still mostly talking scribble, there are hints of English in there, he does seem to think that we should be able to talk scribble too, but he’s out of luck there.

He doesn’t form sentences though apart from “bye-bye x” including the lovely “bye-bye wee wee” when the loo is flushed. If he doesn’t have a prop he won’t ask for something. So unless he’s got a book in his hands to show me, he won’t ask me to read to him, same for drink and food, he needs to show me the cup or the bowl.

Sally, the nursery nurse said she was going to refer him to the Speech and Language therapist to look into the delay. She said it would take between 6 to 12 weeks to be seen and we might find that in that time he catches up verbally. She did ask about his hearing, I think that there’s nothing wrong with it apart from tendency towards selective deafness when we ask him to do something he doesn’t want to. She doesn’t think he’s autistic, nor do we.

She gave me some hints to help him along with his language, be very verbal when playing with him, keep the language simple, over emphasis can help. Songs and nursery rhymes are good – which I knew but I’ve forgotten so many of the tunes.

She said that he was a “bright, energetic boy” and seemed pleased with him, even with the speech delay. I think the big sloppy kiss he gave her may have helped.