04 December 2013

Two Pink Lines



In the last blog Circle of Life I told you about the most intimate details about having IVF treatment and how I was now waiting to do a test to see if I was pregnant.  Well guess what I am and yes that is a photo of the actual pregnancy test used. 


Trust me, when you’ve waited three years for it to happen it's an important memory to capture.  It worked, can you believe it, it worked first time.  After all the waiting, investigating, blood, sweat and tears we didn't have to suffer the trauma of the treatment not working.  It makes me feel grateful that I came straight home from the hospital and stayed in my bed for the rest of the day!  That two-week wait feels like a lifetime, you try not to think about it and then you just can’t help it.  Then at times, you can’t stop thinking, your mind races one minute and you daydream for hours the next.  You go through all the what if’s.  You start to imagine what pram you might buy, what cot you might buy it really is a crazy experience.  I had a feeling it would work you know, deep down I knew it would work.  However my anxious subconscious needed a little boost to make it through the full two weeks until test day and so three days before I was due to take my hospital kit test, I did a wee secret test and it was positive!  Of course I was very casual on the outside about my findings. I didn’t want to get my hopes up in case it was a false positive, but I just needed a boost. If I'm honest, inside I was Dancing! 

Three days later I did the actual test and it was POSITIVE.  I then allowed myself to get super excited.  Well as excited as you get in my family, we are quite a reserved bunch.  Nobody really seems to jump up and down about anything in company.  I don’t actually remember if my husband was home for the proper test.  I’m now wondering if maybe I did the test on Thursday for him as he was going away, because he didn’t come with me when I went to tell my mum, so I’m pretty sure he wasn’t at home.  It’s all a bit of a blur!  I wanted to tell everyone and I wanted to tell them in person so I could see their reaction, it was like I’d won the lottery.  I got in the car and drove to my mum’s house, but she wasn’t in.  I then drove to my Grandma’s house and she wasn’t in either.  I got to my brother’s house and they were all there!  Not sure why, were they congregating in case the test was negative?  I was on cloud nine and it’s because of that I’m unable to tell you a lot about that day or the days to follow because I was THAT HAPPY I can hardly remember anything!

This was a big achievement though.  I couldn't believe my luck; my body that usually fails me on so many levels didn't this time.  I always knew any attempted pregnancy would have to be carefully planned, saying that I didn't think it would be such a military operation.  I knew I couldn't just fall pregnant, I had to tell the hospital so they could prepare me physically so it was done at the right time for my body.  The excitement of announcing you're pregnant to family is not really as effective when they already know you've being going through fertility investigations and IVF treatment for months before hand.  So the big "I'm pregnant" line never really got much of a reaction if you see what I mean.  Yeah I knew they were happy but I guess what was going through their minds was “what next”, how was I going to survive this pregnancy.  Would my body cope because as I explained before, pregnancy does carry huge risks in CF.   Not so much for the baby, but for me.  You see a baby growing inside you is a bit like having a parasite.  It will take whatever it needs from you to develop and grow regardless. There was also a huge risk that my lungs could be colonised with a nasty bug I have called Burkholderia Cepacia {BCC} I have this bug anyway along with another called Pseudomonas Aeruginosa, but colonised BCC would mean that it could absolutely annihilate my lungs and send me into respiratory failure.  However I felt that was a low risk because my health was fairly stable at the time, if I could just avoid people that were sick, but my CF team had to make sure I understood it was a real possibility.  I just thought in life you have to take risks and this would always be a risk factor if I were to get pregnant myself.  My mother was most likely told I would never have children and never get married because it was unlikely I would make it to adulthood but if you are willing to accept that is your fate, it's possible that's what you'll end up with.  I do struggle a lot with negative thoughts.  My glass is never half full, but I wanted to experience pregnancy for myself.  For me, surrogacy wasn’t an option I was willing to explore at that time.  It got me thinking about fate.  Maybe it was meant to happen at this time, we were meant to have this child.  I wanted to be excited but at the same time I was being quite aloof about the news should the worst happen; I didn't want to tempt fate. 

I had so many plans based on the success of this IVF treatment and I could finally start to get organised and put those plans into action.  I wanted to experience everything that pregnancy had to offer.  I wanted 4Ds scans, pregnant belly casts, weekly photos, a maternity photo shoot, I wanted to breast-feed, go to ante-natal classes, but most of all I wanted a baby girl.  Some people will be outraged with my preference but I knew I would probably only do this once and for me, I wanted to buy dresses and pretty frilly things and wanted to take her to dance classes.  I also thought a girl would look after her dad if anything ever happened to me and I hoped she would be a lasting reminder of me.  In the early days visiting the fertility centre for the IVF seminars, I quickly realised that for the hundred or so couples in the room, some would never have babies and I felt extremely lucky.  The week after announcing the pregnancy to family I went to Edinburgh with my Gran and Cousin GG, we were going to visit GG’s sister and have a nice day out in Edinburgh to cheer up our Grandma.  I bought my first pair of maternity jeans from Topshop and it still didn’t feel real.  I must have been speaking about it every five minutes; maybe I was verging on annoying.  I can’t even fully remember what the argument was about, but I ended up very cross with GG.  It was the start of the emotional side of pregnancy, the hormones roller coaster where all reason is up in the air. 

I had my final appointment at the fertility centre at around six weeks for another vaginal ultrasound for the purpose of detecting a foetal heartbeat.  That was another emotional roller coaster for my husband and I, because I was technically pregnant and I felt pregnant.  I was thinking I was pregnant, but this would confirm it or potentially turn our world upside down.  I was very calm that day, I don't think I thought about the possibility of there not being a heart beat.  I lay back on the bed and tried to regulate my breathing so I wouldn’t cough.  So many things went through my head in the next few seconds.  It was like my whole life flashed before me.  Suddenly the nurse said, there it is "Congratulations" you have one foetal heartbeat.   I don't think I've ever felt that much relief and I think this was the point my husband realised it was real.  I was measuring 6+6 weeks pregnant and was due on the twenty-second of December.  Most people would just be taking a pregnancy test at this stage but we knew right from the start.  The first three months of my pregnancy wasn’t great; I was sick, a lot.  I craved milk, I couldn’t get enough of the stuff.  I was easy drinking four to six pints a day.  Even though I had the morning sickness I was happy.  I was happy I was getting to experience the full effects of pregnancy, something I’d wanted for so long, but it was exhausting for me; it was beginning to feel real now.  I didn’t get off to a good start as I was starting to have chest complications at the time of the embryo transfer and antibiotics were delayed when I needed them.  The decision was taken so they didn't jeopardise the egg collection.  Now that I was pregnant it meant I was restricted to the antibiotics I could safely have and this didn’t help in my recovery.  However, it was important that in the early stages I should try to soldier on with basic antibiotics instead of the lethal cocktail I usually get. 

I made my first appointment with the midwife, I waited a few weeks for the appointment and was concerned that would make my subsequent appointments later.  I had no idea what to expect.  I asked a lot of questions and she rudely told me that I should have made a double appointment if I had this much to discuss.  Like I was supposed to know all this being my “first” pregnancy!  She arranged for my first scan to be done at hospital and I remember being both disgusted and disappointed that I would be almost 14 weeks by the time this was to take place.  I thought the whole point if it being called a 12-week scan is that it was done at the 12-week point in pregnancy.  She also took a blood test from me that day and this was the icing on the cake, it was to be her last meeting with me. I was told to get up on the bed and as she stood in front of me with her soiled uniform, which looked like she spilt her dinner down.  She proceeded to come at me with a needle.  I stopped her and said, are you not going to clean the area first.  She replied, “I don’t usually”.  I told her I would rather she did on this occasion and I never went back.  I think you need to absolutely trust these people if they are going to be looking after you and the most precious cargo you have.  I never usually question medical professionals; I just let them get on with what they have to do.  I’m a seasoned hospital goer.  However this time my attitude was completely different and for you guys out there that do not yet have children.  You wont understand that feeling until you are in that situation.  That mothering instinct starts from the minute you find out you are pregnant.




The changing body



First ever portrait of Daisy Sim