Remember way back when, when I relaunched the blog and said I would keep it updated?
Well, turned out things didn’t quite go to plan. And come February I had fallen pregnant – after 18 months of trying!
To say we were overjoyed would be an understatement. I shared the news on the down-low across friends and family and on a secret instagram story list for a few months before I was brave enough to tell the world officially. I feel like because it took longer than expected, I was worried that saying it out loud to too many would somehow make something bad happen?! Pregnancy anxiety man, what a hoot.
We’re now 10 weeks into the whole motherhood adventure, and I’ve finally got the little one to sleep. If you’ve seen my instagram stories about his digestive/silent reflux issues then you will join me in this celebration! …it’s been a tough road I can tell thee. I’ll be writing various other posts on the birth, baby and learnings so far – so if you’re the least bit interested check back over the next few weeks to read the honest, raw details of it all.
Now I have a rare 5 seconds free whilst the little one naps, its about time I share my pregnancy journey. Strap yourself in, there’s many a twist and turn. Many of which I’ve compartmentalised and forgotten actually, but let’s gey down the parts I can remember.
Let’s start at the beginning. The moment we found out we were pregnant.
Like I say, we had been trying for 18 months by this point and it had gotten to the point where I was at a crossroads. Do we give up? Or do we get the doctor to investigate the ol’ pipes. We decided that ultimately we would get checked out it if it still wasn’t happening and I literally said that we would make some appointments the next month!
It was the Friday night just after Valentines day when I got the positive test. I’d been working from home all day and my period was… about 4 days late? This had happened a few times previously so I didn’t actually think much of it. I’d still kept doing pregnancy tests when it was late and it was a negative result each time.
SO, in between a meeting and our regular Friday 5pm call, I decided to just quickly do a test. I had a bottle of sparkling Rosé with my name on it for that night so just wanted to be on the safe side, but still, I wasn’t expecting much to come from it.
Holding my shit together for that call and for when my boyfriend got home from work was quite the challenge I tell thee.
The First Trimester
The first trimester was actually the best for me in terms of symptoms. A lot of people experience morning sickness. and all the other exciting signs of pregnancy.
I had nothing.
Which was another reason I was apprehensive to say anything to anyone. It just didn’t seem real at this point.
You don’t see a midwife for 8 to 10 weeks. You don’t get a scan until 12 weeks.
It’s like there was no actual evidence there was a baby growing in there!
My app was telling me the baby was due on the 31st of October. Which was a very exciting date to work towards. I mean, the birthday parties alone for my little Halloween bat baby would be fantastic! However, after the first scan, they decided that the due date was the 24th October 2021 instead. Boooo.
The first 3 months really flew by. I managed to keep it a secret from a majority of people and even said a few times how ‘easy pregnancy was’ and I didn’t know what there was to complain about. You’ll soon read a whole host of things I had to complain about during the latter half of the second trimester and what I actually had of the third one (spoiler: he was premature).
I saw the midwife and she seemed great. I was looking forward to her leading my care. Unbeknownst to me, this would be the only time I’d see this one as she unfortunately went on long term sick and I then saw a different midwife every single visit. All of which had their own advice and priorities of care (none of which ever aligned appointment to appointment).
In my first appointment I asked if there were any risk factors. Mainly my age as I’m 35. My BMI was also slightly over by something like .5… they assured me I was extremely low risk and nothing was cause for concern.
We had the first scan and confirmed the baby had a heartbeat and was growing in there. The scan did look a little… different to ones I’d seen. His belly was already looking larger at this point but not knowing much about the whole process I was assured everything was fine by the ultrasound staff. It was measuring in the 100th percentile at this stage with his head and legs being between the 40th and 60th. They said my placenta was at the front and ‘blocking the exit’ but in around 99% of pregnancies this moves and I just needed another scan on week 32.
I wanted to have faith in my care so didn’t question much; expecting anything odd to be raised to me by healthcare professionals.
It did strike me a little strange that during the process you would only usually have the 12 and 20 week scan. So it was really reassuring to be offered the first one closer to the due date!
When we did announce and show the scan some people did question his belly size and said at this point I might have to have a Gestational Diabetes test. Being a naive first time mum, I assumed that anything they would be concerned about would be flagged by the midwife, but nah.
The Second Trimester
Everyone always says how good they felt in the second trimester. Your skin supposedly glowing, the bursts of energy you suddenly get, and the overall enjoyment of having confirmation your baby was growing well.
I didn’t really feel much different mood wise. If anything I was much more chill! To be honest, looking back I feel that throughout the entire time I should have been much more concerned/panicked/stressed. It’s a good job I wasn’t though as who knows what else could have happened?!
My skin and hair didn’t glow like they make out it does, but I did become really confident with my newly acquired bump. When you’re in the first few weeks the bump just looks like a big lunch so it’s kind of harder to dress yourself and not feel self conscious. Then you get a sudden basketball on the front of your body and you want to wear the tightest, belly hugging clothes possible so the world can see your tiny human growing,
The weeks were going by smoothly and I had the 20 week scan. The baby would not stop moving though! So the accuracy of this one was all kinds of wrong. I only realised this at a late date as it was the only one where his belly wasn’t measuring large. When I say large I mean in the 95th percentile(plus) where his other measurements were bang on. My belly also just felt incredibly hard the whole time. They assured me that some do feel hard and some feel soft. Generally they should be a bit squidgy though.
I asked if they could do me a Gestational Diabetes test many, many times. And they kept denying me. They kept referring to the 20 week scan saying there was no need…
This is despite being asked at my midwife appointments if I was having one. They apparently couldn’t book it, but then I found out they could much later on.
The continuity of care and what people were telling me they could or couldn’t do was simply horrendous throughout. I still cannot believe how disjointed the whole system is.
We got to the second week of July anyway and by this point I was 5 months gone. The Euro Final was on during the Sunday night and thousands were seen in the media at Wembley and in pubs across the country. Not thinking anything of it on the evening, I suddenly got an overwhelming wave of anger and resentment come over me when I had to attand the Maternity Assesment Unit (MAU) the next day.
MAU is basically the emergency department when you’re pregnant.
When you’re pregnant they basically make out that if you see ANY blood at all you are losing the baby.
Awash with panic and upset I drove to the hospital in floods of tears expecting the worst. Thankfully the examination simply showed that I had something called Cervix Ectropium, which is basically like a bit of a sore rash in there and that somehow caused a bleed.
The reason for my anger and resentment regarding the Euros?
That I had to go through that entire experience alone. No one is allowed into the emergency departments at the hospital with you still because of COVID. And I simply find that digusting. The one time you need someone with you is the time you can’t have them there. Yet thousands could attend a football match. This also happened when my waters broke. Which needless to say was terrifying when it was so early… but that’s a whole other story.
Anyway. The next day I saw yet another midwife and she raised concerns that they didn’t swab or test for anything else at the hospital so she ordered one for me.
Days later I logged into my online app and I’d been moved from a low risk pregnancy to high risk – with no one actually telling me.
The reason for this was due to something called Group B Strep.
To this day, not a single person from the NHS has explained the full implications of what could have happened if this wasn’t detected. I find it shocking that we are one of the only countries that doesn’t test for this as standard, but thankfully you can pay for your own test for about £40 if you are worried. If I was to fall pregnant again and wasn’t offered one I would definitely pay privately to have one done.
Group B Strep can cause a plethora of issues for the baby when being born and you require an IV of antibiotics during the birth to prevent them. My baby also required antibiotics for 5 days after he was born because of it – imagine if it wasn’t picked up?! However, if you do have it there is little you can do during pregnancy to help. So maybe that’s a reason they don’t bother going through it with you. That doesn’t help though when your only resource is then Dr Google.
Alongside this I also had UTI’s that had previously gone undiagnosed so needed antibiotics. There was basically just a lot of bacteria in my body at this point!
I also found that there were 3 minor risk factors now on my record… which were my age, my bmi and the group b strep! Remember when they said my age and bmi weren’t risks though?
Aside from all the above, I still felt okay. Just hip pain was causing me actually jip, but the pregnancy itself I felt fine. They had decided that I would need a growth scan every 2 weeks though as the baby was growing large (one scan showed him to be over 5lb when he would have been measuring around 3 at that stage) and the belly was still off compared to the other measurements.
And to reiterate again, at every scan and midwife appointment and scan I asked for a Gestational Diabetes to be told no for one reason or another.
The risks of Gestational Diabetes are:
- Excessive birth weight.
- Early (preterm) birth.
- Serious breathing difficulties.
- Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia).
- Obesity and type 2 diabetes later in life.
The final risk still sends shivers down my spine.
…but we move
The Third Trimester
WELL, you’ll never guess what this blood test flagged!!!
THAT I NEEDED A GESTATIONAL DIABETES TEST.
Are you as flabbergasted I was?
This got ‘booked’ in somewhere… But no one could actually tell me where. The online pregnancy notes said a date, but the midwife who had added it was on annual leave and despite ringing every number and contact I had, no one could find any further information for me. Mint.
So it got booked again… for when I was 33 weeks gone.
One of the main risks of Gestational Diabetes is preterm labor, which is why you kind of need to get it diagnosed and make changes in your diet before the third trimester.
I asked on the phone if I need to make any changes to my diet whilst I was waiting 3 weeks to have the test and was told no. Thankfully i have a brain and started making changes to my sugar intake regardless.
One of the things with GD is that you don’t really have any symptoms. I felt fine within myself and not even that tired considering I was growing a human!
I went for the test and had a call 2 days later saying I had a ‘slightly raised’ blood sugar level. And they’d booked me an appointment to monitor the levels in… 3 weeks time?! When I’d be 36 weeks pregnant!
Thankfully I had one of my growth scans at the hospital 2 days later. Where they assumed I had been fully told I had GD and were already ready to issue me the monitoring equipment. Turned out my blood sugar levels were not ‘slightly raised’ they were way over the expected threshold.
Immediately I overhauled my entire diet. I was 33 weeks pregnant and did not want any harm to come to me or my baby.
Not once during this process did anyone outline the risks of GD to me, or advise anything to help. This was the same with every obstacle on this journey. You’re being told you shouldn’t worry, don’t google things, don’t change anything… They’re obsessed with smoking, drinking, COVID vaccinations… But no one had any time or intention of explaining anything to do with the Group B Strep, Gestational Diabetes, any other risk factors…
So there we were at 33 weeks, finally a diagnosis and feeling like we were up shit creek without a paddle.
I’d like to tell you there was more to my pregnancy journey and there probably is. I mean, I can share some things I learnt with regards to supplements and managing GD along the way. But with regards to timelines, that’s about as far as we got I’m afraid!
I’m still yet to put in a complaint with PALS regarding the continuity of care, as mentally I’ve not been in a place to process it all properly yet (hence some selective memory loss). At the moment I am thankful my baby is here and the worst-case scenario didn’t happen. But it’s certainly not been easy.