5 July 2015

Baby's Gender Reveal

This past week, we had the all important anatomy scan, where we anxiously entered the darkened room and hoped that all was well with our baby. Thankfully, it was, and we breathed a sigh of relief to know our little one was growing and developing as it should. And then, it was time to discover the gender. 

I've never hesitated when deciding whether or not to find out the sex of the baby. Not only because 40 weeks seems like a extraordinarily long time to wait, but it allows the excitement to build, the conversations with each other to begin about what life might be like if we had a boy or girl, to slowly ponder over names and carefully select tiny items of clothing and lovingly decorate the nursery. Before the whirlwind of a newborn enters our world and there's no time for anything else. But above all, I like to know the gender as it helps me bond with the baby. Knowing the sex, and being able to refer to baby as 'he' or 'she,' rather than 'it.' And if the worst was to happen, and we lost another baby, I would be thankful that I had that time knowing who our little one was when they were still alive inside me.

We had no preference for gender. I loved to imagine having another boy, a little brother for Henry, and picturing the brotherly bond they'd develop, that we never got to know after losing William and Noah. Yet at the same time, I've always imagined myself having a little girl and it would be lovely to have both a boy and a girl. When we were told I was carrying a baby girl, it didn't come of as much of a surprise, in a way I was expecting it, after already having three boys. It was a treasured moment, discovering that we have a daughter. Three boys and a girl. Just as my parents have. 

We had no problems picking names for boys, we chose three we love and still have more on our list should we have had another one. Girls names we're finding a little trickier. We love feminine, soft names, but agreeing upon one is proving difficult. With all the boys, we waited until they were born until we finally selected a name from our shortlist, wanting to see their sweet little faces to see which they suited, so perhaps we'll do the same with our baby girl.

2 July 2015

The First Trimester

With this being my third pregnancy, I thought I'd be well versed in what to expect. But I soon learnt that each pregnancy is very different. With the twins, I breezed through the first trimester, having a few food aversions and very little nausea. With Henry, I experienced a little more nausea, but it was manageable and I could still eat a variety of foods. I never actually got physically sick with either pregnancies, and besides being tired, it was an easy first couple of months.

This time around, I was expecting more of the same. What happened instead when I hit the six week mark was severe nausea and vomiting that lasted from the moment I woke until the moment I fell asleep. The list of foods I had aversions to quickly grew until the only things that I was able to eat were apples and chips - the two foods I could actually stomach, and even then I sometimes couldn't keep them down. I was retching or being sick around 6 times a day. Retching was possibly even worse than being sick, there was nothing to bring up to provide some relief. I lost around 10lbs in two weeks, and didn't leave the house for the duration, being too ill to move. My days were spent lying on the sofa focusing on breathing through the nausea, and running to the bathroom. Anything and everything caused me to be sick - changing Henry's dirty nappies, the many food commercials on TV, the sight of Henry's food, and the time he chewed up a pancake and then spat it out (!)

The start of my sickness frustratingly coincided with Matt starting work in the US after a two week break, so we wasn't able to take time off to help out with Henry. I was alone in a new country with no means of help or respite. It wasn't the wonderful introduction to America that I'd imagined. Poor Henry spent a lot of time watching TV, as I just couldn't engage with him as I usually would. Then there were the times I'd would be bent over the toilet and he'd run over with a toy, asking me to play, not understanding why I wasn't able to.

It was a debilitating and horrendous experience, yet also somewhat reassuring to know my hCG levels were rising accordingly. I suspected hyperemesis gravidarum due to the severity of the sickness and the weight loss, and would have sought medical help if it had not eased off a little after a few weeks. It was a relief to see the end of the sickness, although the nausea continued for the remainder of the first trimester. 

- - - 

The first trimester also meant being introduced to the maternity services in the USA. Without knowing anyone that could advise us on hospitals or obstetricians, we picked based on some internet research, and luckily landed with a lovely OB/GYN and a highly regard hospital. We soon discovered that screening here in the US is a lot more thorough, and they test for a number of things that aren't included in the UK, presumably because the NHS can't cover the cost.

I agreed to have my blood tested for everything they mentioned, without giving it a second thought, so it came as a shock when our obstetrician told me I was a carrier for cystic fibrosis. We were advised to get Matt tested too to see if he was also a carrier. If he was, our baby would have a 1 in 4 chance of having the life shortening disease, and we would be referred to genetic counsellors to discuss next steps. It was an anxious wait for Matt's blood test results, but thankfully, they came back negative, allowing us to have one less thing to worry about.

Overall, not the most enjoyable first trimester, but an appreciated one, as I'm so thankful to blessed with another pregnancy. Much to my relief, the second trimester has been a lot more manageable, and I'll be back soon with a pregnancy update and gender reveal!


26 June 2015

Growing Our Family

I've already announced my pregnancy on Instagram a few weeks ago (thank you for all the kind words and lovely comments), but I thought I'd make it official on my blog too. I am blessed to be 19 weeks pregnant with our fourth child - my third pregnancy and what we hope will be our second living child, due to join us in November. We found out about our tiny blessing the day before Mother's Day, just three days before we moved to the USA, amongst a whirlwind of emotions centred around new life and new beginnings. 

Pregnancy after loss will always be difficult. Deciding to start that journey again is a big decision - we knew it would involve a lot of anxiety, and stir up a fresh round of grief. It's taking the risk of the worst happening again, allowing the possibility of the indescribable pain we have experienced to reach us again. But as we discovered with Henry, it is a risk worth taking. We know there are no guarantees, and it will always be 'if' we take a baby home, and not 'when' for us. So we focus on the simplicity of this…

I am pregnant with our fourth child. A beautiful gift, a tiny life I am humbled to be carrying, who we already love so much. The delicate kicks and turns so precious and miraculous, so profound. I hope that we get to watch this baby grow as we have done with Henry, and I hope that we are blessed with many years of knowing and loving him or her.


19 June 2015

Henry at 19 Months

Henry has developed so much since we arrived in the US. He is learning so many new things each day that it's hard to keep up, and his baby days are now long behind him. He is such a loving and patient child - so gentle and caring of those around him, and his bubbling enthusiasm and joy for life is infectious. He is just such a happy little boy, and we feel so blessed to have such a sweet child in our lives.

Henry's most beloved possession in the whole world is his Jellycat bunny rabbit, who he's named Minna. It used to be a bedtime thing, but we gradually saw more and more of Minna until we realised that anywhere Henry goes, so does bunny! He's grown so attached to him and it's adorable to see how much he loves him. Henry absolutely adores trains, cars and tractors, and spends a large part of his days driving them about the house with appropriate 'toot toot,' and 'beep beep' sounds. He loves to sit down with his cuddly toys and host a picnic, and he's always giving them kisses with a big 'mwah!' Henry loves to draw and he always looks forward to our weekly art class where we paint together and create pictures. He likes to run about outdoors, kick a football and splash around in his water table. And he loves to be chased and tickled by daddy. A new fascination with babies has developed, and Henry's face always lights up when he sees one, and I know he would delight in having a little brother or sister to love and care for.

Being put in his car seat, having his hair washed, and being told no.

We've pushed Henry's bedtime back a little and he now generally sleeps from 7.30-7.30 with a 1.5 hour nap in the afternoon.

Henry's favourite foods are baked potato with tuna, fish pie, meatballs, peas, broccoli and pretty much all fruit. He doesn't like grated cheese and tends to dislike a lot of cold savoury foods, like sandwiches, which means lots of cooking for me! 

Henry's speech has been the most noticeable development, with new words being learnt every day, so much so that I've lost count of how big his vocabulary is now. He's started to say short sentences, for example, we'll ask him if he wants something and he responds with an enthusiastic - "Yeah, I do, I do! Pleeeease." He says, "night night," when we put him to bed, "bless," when someone sneezes, and he always says 'please' and 'thanks' without being prompted. He can now identify around 25 animals and can either say their name or the noise they make, and he's started to identify different shapes and colours too. He loves to help me around the house - watering the plants, loading the washing machine, putting things away from the dishwasher and he even attempts to help Matt with DIY! The difference in his development over the last three months is incredible and he can communicate so well now.

6 April 2015

10 Differences Between the UK and USA

We've been living in the USA for around 3 weeks now and it hasn't take long to start noticing how things differ between the two countries. Here are 10 differences between the UK and USA…

1. The bread is sweet. Even the seemingly innocent wholemeal organic kind that promises seeds and multi-grains still manages to sneak in some high fructose corn syrup or brown sugar amongst the ingredients. The only non-sweet bread we've managed to find so far is from Whole Foods and costs $5 a loaf.

2. Americans don't drink squash and therefore don't sell it - which left us wondering what our new beverage would be as squash was pretty much the only thing we used to drink, seeing as we're not tea or coffee fans. We've had to settle for 'water enhancers,' which are also fairly difficult to come by.

3. The bacon here is the thin, crispy and streaky kind. I'm craving the thick, meaty cuts we're used to in the UK.

4. Commercials are frequent and… unusual. Medications are often advertised - along with a long list of alarming side effects. I'm not sure how successfully you can sell a product when suicidal thoughts are mentioned alongside it.

5. It is spacious. No crowded housing, busy high streets or sparse parking. It does mean you need to drive everywhere, but we're living in a neighbourhood where everything is within a short distance - malls and retail parks as well as beautiful parks and nature reserves. 

6. Petrol is ridiculously cheap. $30 for a full tank of petrol cheap.

7. The people are friendly. Strangers stop to chat, numbers are freely given out and most people we've encountered have been so happy and enthusiastic.

8. Portion sizes in restaurants are huge. Starters can resemble main courses and when we ordered Henry a 'child size pizza,' it was the size of a regular pizza back in the UK. For this reason, it's the norm to box up and take leftovers home with you - because you can almost be certain you won't be able to finish it all.

9. There is an amazing amount of choice available. Whether it's food and drink, toys or craft items, there will be hundreds of items to choose from - which can be quite overwhelming for an indecisive person like myself!

10. The weather has been incredible since we arrived. Most of our days here have been sunny with clear blue skies and temperatures in the low to mid twenties. This has opened up a whole new world of possibility when it comes to wardrobe options and outdoor activities.