Same body but very different pregnancies
I have been through two pregnancies now. I find it hard to believe that the same body can have two totally different experiences when it’s two ‘healthy’ pregnancies!
When people used to tell me their ailments they were experiencing through their pregnancy I used to think maybe they were just unfit or had low pain thresholds or that they somehow needed to pull themselves together a bit! You see I never had any of those things with my first pregnancy. In fact I felt like a million dollars pretty much through the entire 9 (or in reality 10!) months!
Others used to say they were tired or sore, felt heavy or their hips hurt or they couldn’t sleep or they didn’t feel like they had enough energy to workout. Some would leave work early for maternity leave, like over a month before their due date when in reality their job was fairly sedentary?!
Pregnancy number one was a breeze for me!
So OK I didn’t fall pregnant instantaneously like I thought I would (after all some women have a one night stand and fall pregnant right?!). But from day one of knowing I was pregnant I felt alive, glowing, happy, in fact on a high, I continued to train, to run until 39 and a half weeks (not something I would necessarily advise to all women!) and I weight trained, swam and walked right up until the bitter end. I carried on going to work until a week before my due date and I pretty much fitted in all my normal clothes right up until the end (only maternity trousers were needed!) Easy-peasy lemon squeezy! (however now I realise I was just fortunate!)
Great! How hard could another pregnancy really be? If I’d been 10 years younger I would have considered being a surrogate mum for another less fortunate family unable to have children.
So when we decided to try for another baby I wasn’t expecting to face what I was confronted with.
Pregnancy number two wasn’t so easy!
First of all it was a year of trying to conceive. I fully appreciate this isn’t long for many couples. However when you’re 41 and you know time really isn’t on your side and there is a possibility you are actually peri-menopausal then every month that went by felt like a year! Then there were referrals for blood tests and scans because of the difficulties with conceiving. I had an early miscarriage. Then when I did finally fall pregnant and stay pregnant (I found out on the day I was due a blood test for our conception issues!) I seemed to go through a catalogue of niggles, scares and bad news regarding the growing baby.
For the first 20 or so weeks I felt as sick as a dog. I couldn’t cook because of the smell making me so nauseous. I struggled to brush my teeth because it simply made me gag and often I’d be physically sick. Yet I was ravenous! All. Of. The. Time!!!!! Feed me carbs!!!! Oh and exhausted, like totally wiped out!
At 8 weeks I had another miscarriage scare so I went for an early private scan. All was OK though thankfully.
Chromosomal Anomalies Results
At my 12 week scan (actually done at 13 weeks) I had a chromosomal anomaly prediction test done and the results for that came back that I was extremely high chance. I use the word ‘chance’ not ‘risk’ as I think ‘risk’ implies all negative things associated with having a child with chromosomal abnormalities and I don’t believe this is the case. However this is something myself and my husband had previously discussed as a couple. I have no problems with children with chromosomal anomalies. In fact they are possibly the most loving children you could ever wish to meet. The severity however can differ tremendously and as older parents we questioned whether it would be fair on the older sibling to have the responsibility to care for them when we are gone. This was a decision that I really struggled with when I was put in the situation where it was suddenly a real possibility. No longer did the decision feel so black and white! I’m not sure I could have ever terminated the pregnancy after all.
Obviously, due to my age my risk was always going to be high. I was given options for amniocentesis on the NHS (although I’d have to wait a few weeks before I could have it and then up to 21 days to cultivate the results) or another option of a NIPS blood test done privately where they send the results to America. I went straight for this NIPS test that same evening. The results take 10-14days to come back and that seemed like such a long time! A long time of what-ifs! Thankfully the results came back with a really low chance of any chromosomal anomalies.
Then I had my 20week anomaly scan. One good thing by this stage was I was no longer feeling so nauseous. But, do you think the baby would behave at the scan? Nope! There were no significant movements detected, meaning the sonographer couldn’t get all of the measurements needed (especially the ones involving the spine!). So I was sent off to march up and down the stairs, then to go to the loo, all in the hope that the baby would move positions! But no! They decided to rebook me and reassured me that this wasn’t uncommon. My worry at this stage was there was something wrong with the spine or brain meaning the baby was unable to move their legs or something. It was just the opposite to my son who wouldn’t stay still for long enough for them to get the measurements! That was another long 2 weeks to wait!
At the next scan at 22weeks, exactly the same thing happened once again. The baby wouldn’t co-operate to enable the sonographer to get a suitable spinal reading. Now I was really concerned but once again the sonographer didn’t seem phased and sent me off to have a stomp up the stairs and go to the toilet. This time they tried tilting me into different positions to encourage the baby to move. But nothing. I had decided in advance that even if there wasn’t much movement during the actual scan that was OK but I wanted to see the baby in a different position to the previous scan just to reassure me that she could actually move! But no, she lay on her back with her head to my left side once again. I was rebooked to see the consultant a few weeks later!
My consultant appointment came. There was no scan at this one. When I mentioned what had happened the response was “aren’t you lucky you have a restful baby who likes sleeping?” Now for some reason this didn’t really make me feel reassured. During this check-up my urine sample came back with protein and my blood pressure was rock bottom. Once again they smiled and said “great we’ll see you in a few weeks for a follow up!” I just wasn’t feeling happy about the whole situation.
Feeling Tired and Sore
It was around this time that I really started to feel tired. Like exhausted. I’d go to work, come home and put my son to bed, grab some dinner and do as little as possible, then hit the sack! We experienced a sleep regression with our toddler for about 12 weeks where he was suffering from night terrors and nightmares and getting up multiple times a night which I’m sure didn’t help the situation.
My back was incredibly sore. Both at the top and the bottom. Most probably due to the increasing weight pulling my shoulders forward. I had to ensure I was careful how I sat, kept stretching my chest out and trying not to lean back on the sofa etc. It was also obvious that the relaxin was starting to kick in around my pelvic girdle as my hips really started to hurt by the afternoons and evenings. To the point where I struggled to walk until I’d warmed up a little. I made sure as much as I didn’t want to go in the gym this was the time I made an extra effort as keeping moving regularly and doing some specific stretching exercises definitely helped relieve these symptoms.
Foetal Heart Rate Differences
The next appointment was my midwife appointment. The foetal heart rate was doing crazy things. It would be beating really fast then suddenly slowing right down then speeding up then slowing down. Even I knew that wasn’t right! So she called the hospital and sent me straight there! Off I went down to Worcester Royal Hospital where they hooked me up to a monitor and within half an hour reassured me everything seemed fine and the baby was possibly squeezing and letting go of the umbilical chord! What kind of naughty minx do I have on my hands here?!
My next scan was at approx 34 weeks, coupled with a consultant’s appointment. However this is when I found out she was lying in a breech posterior position. The sonographer’s words he used were “oh she has her little bottom comfortably squashed down in your pelvis! Nooooooooo! This is what her older brother did and never turned! The consultant laid down the rules. No induction due to previous c-section. Not allowed to go over 40weeks due to my age. No vaginal breech delivery due to previous c-section. No ECV turn due to my previous c-section. So it became pretty obvious that my only hope of avoiding another c-section was if I could turn her naturally and get her out before 40weeks!
Mission turn the baby!
I spent the last 3 weeks hip rolling on my gym ball. I would invert myself on the sofa/gym bench/floor. There were hip raises to watch TV. I did anterior pelvic tilts whilst sitting, standing, walking and working. I avoided any deep squats. It all paid off, my 36+week scan showed she was now head down and ready to go!
This is where I am now, 37+weeks, hoping she stays in this head down position (although I can feel she has moved already) but I’m just hoping she keeps her head down and not her bum down!
Roll on the Birth!
Fingers crossed for the next couple of weeks that she comes a little early and behaves! I am still incredibly uncomfortable and not sleeping well at all.
I am still mentally prepared incase I have to have another c-section. It would not be as convenient, granted, but I have to do what’s best for the baby and me!
Interestingly I had a conversation with my husband last night. He said, “it’s a good job you’ve had an easy pregnancy again this time!” Hmmmmmm, hasn’t felt that easy to me! Funny how we see things so differently. I fully appreciate many people go through far far worse situations both leading up to, during and after their pregnancies. I have close friends who have experienced horrific things in recent years and I send them much love!