Waiting for the itch.

I was in a DIY store earlier, getting things for all of those little niggly jobs that have needed doing for bloody ages but have been putting them off due to the cost of doing them all. DIY store having closing down sale = savings, so I went in with the boy in his pushchair to have a nosey at what they had left. A lot of it looked like the TV pictures we saw of Russia in the 1980s. Bare shelves, one or two lonesome products left there that nobody wanted. Other aisles were more plentiful, including the paint aisle. This was great as I needed paint for a ceiling, woodstain for outdoor windowsills, and paint for the hallway.

As I was wandering down the paint aisle, I thought “oooh that’s itchy” and before I knew it I was scratching my right palm. I thought nothing of it apart from “oooh it’s supposed to mean you’re coming into some money…” Then I remembered the last time I had an itchy palm. And I stopped. And I thought carefully.

Shit. Obstetric Cholestasis.

OC is a disorder of the liver. The itching is caused by something getting into your blood stream that shouldn’t be there. This is caused by your liver letting it get there. The itching starts on your palms and the soles of your feet. No rash. If you’ve had it once there is a 60% chance you’ll get it again. Other symptoms include darker urine than normal, and paler stools than normal. Delightful.

So, now I have felt an itch in that place, I’m just waiting. Waiting for the rest of the itch to appear, and for me to go to the day assessment unit, and be diagnosed with it. Just like last time.

They like to induce babies a bit earlier than their due date with OC. I was induced at 38 weeks last time. The treatment protocol is taking some capsules of ursodeoxycholic acid and some vitamin K tablets (vitamin K helps the blood to clot – liver function being impaired means that liver might not be producing enough vit K, therefore they put you on this to help with clotting issues that might arise). I quite liked the vitamin K tablets last time – like crunchy vanilla-flavoured smarties!

I’m hoping that it was “just an itch” but bracing myself for the alternative. 38 weeks is only 4 weeks away.

Keep breathing.

TRP. x

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The tour of nearly fainting continues (with epilogue)

Yesterday’s venue was Boots. In a shopping centre, on a hot and humid day, where the air conditioning was malfunctioning in some way (there is no other earthly reason it could have been so bloody hot in there).

I made my way to the back of the store because I knew that there would be a chair in the mother and baby room. Except the bastard thing was locked. There was a lady also trying to get into it with a baby to change nappies, who very kindly interrupted a conversation that a nearby sales assistant was having with a customer to get her to open the room.

In the space of time it took the sales assistant to go off, find the code for the stupid lock on the door (seriously, it’s a busy Saturday, why the hell does it need locking at all?!) and come back and open it, I went from being able to breathe through it standing up, to crouching next to The Boy’s pushchair (I thought if I got closer to the ground, when I keeled over I’d have less of a way to fall) feeling myself go unsteady, and everything start to spin, and my ears start ringing. The other lady helped me to the seat, and luckily I’d recently purchased a bottle of water so was able to sit and sip, and regain my composure. The Boy was thoroughly bored and was starting to be grumpy because he had been strapped into his pushchair for far longer than he’d have liked.

Luckily all I needed was to sit down, sip water and do some yoga breathing for a bit to get over this one.

Today’s venue? The sitting room floor. I was sat on the sofa and suddenly came over faint. Tight-fitting clothing was the first thing to go (the jeans had come off as soon as I got home from seeing a friend, see the epilogue below). I hadn’t even exerted myself – I was totally stationary and sedentary when it happened. Husband kindly brought me a glass of cold water, but even that didn’t make much difference this time – I then got onto the floor and bent over forwards in a sort of bum in the air (yes, I was still wearing my pants, luckily, or this would have been some sight), head down position. This made me feel almost instantly better, and I had to remain this way for a few minutes. With The Boy stroking my hair. He rocks.

The epilogue to this is that the friend I was seeing – Bryony – is a photographer, and nothing short of a genius. Her genius is that when she points a camera at someone, something magical happens. Bryony and her magical camera can see through the layers of sick, feeling awful, having appalling skin, unstable pelvises, bloating, backache, and nights upon nights of having had very little sleep, and the days of being run ragged by a toddler… And she can find something beautiful. And I must confess to having seen the pictures, and for the first time in a while, cried in a very, very good way. She made me look beautiful. She made me look as if I glow! She’s a magician. If she can make me look good, imagine what she can do to someone who’s not feeling like crap 95% of the time. If you are anywhere around the midlands, please, please consider booking a shoot with her. She’s fantastic. See for yourself!


Keep breathing.

TRP (aka Rachel) xx

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Fading Away

Was in Ikea earlier to measure up the boxes to see whether a bed we want in baby’s room (small single, converts to a King. Wooo!) will actually fit in our car. There I was, measuring up the boxes, and I leaned forward with the tape measure. The Boy was with me, standing waiting nearby, good as gold.

I stood up straight and I suddenly got that feeling of tightness in my chest, my limbs started feeling like lead, and I realised that I needed to sit down. If I tell The Boy that “Mummy’s not feeling very well” he stays close by me, holds my hand, and is very, very good. I left the two things I had picked up to buy, and decided that I needed to sit down before I fell down.

Holding hands, wading through treacle, we made it to a nearby bench. I sipped some water and my vision started to fade – it’s like someone turns down the contrast and everything goes bright. I sat there, breathing willing myself to stay alert, and not give in.  The Boy sat there with me, holding my hand. I waited a while until I thought I would be ok, when I stood up. A few paces away – more treacle. Saw some garden furniture. Sat on it. It was really low to the floor so the action of sitting down so low meant my jeans were now taut across the bottom of the bump- a sure fire way to make me feel much worse. There wasn’t enough back support for me to lean back either, so I just had to sit there, having massive Braxton Hicks contractions, my vision going white with fireflies around the edges.

My ears then started ringing. The Boy, who had found a small stuffed rabbit from the children’s section abandoned by another child on that chair, sat next to me, cuddling me, helping me stay upright. I ran out of water. I looked at the time on my phone. I can’t tell you what time it was, but I know I remained like this for about 20 minutes. And The Boy stayed there with me. Talking to me, hugging me, kissing me, telling me I was “being very brave, Mummy”. I think I was managing to say a few words back, but I can’t remember.

It was one of the most scary things I have ever experienced. The consequences of fainting so far away from home, with a toddler, on my own, were, I believe, what actually stopped me giving in to sleep with the fireflies. Being responsible for a somewhat frightened toddler with his Mummy being ill made me stay conscious. I just couldn’t be sure he would be safe if I weren’t “there”. Having read the blog of an ambulance first responder about going to treat (and I’m paraphrasing heavily here) another bloody pregnant woman who’s fainted, there’s no way I wanted to become a statistic either!

After I had sat there for long enough, I went back a few places to see if I could find the bag of bits I abandoned. And I did! So I got them – moving very slowly indeed.

The Boy saved me today. He’s the reason for all this. If he hadn’t been the absolute best thing that I have ever done with my life, I wouldn’t be attempting to do it again. So thank you to my wonderful little 2.5 year old. You literally held me up in my time of need today.

You’re a superstar, and I love you.

TRP. x

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The final stretch

Literally. Stretch. It feels as if my skin could stretch no further at the moment, but I’ve got another 5-10 weeks of this left yet.

I am approaching the massive, cumbersome and grumpy phase now. No matter how I sit, I’m uncomfortable. If I lie down, my hips ache. If I lean forward, I get feet stuffed down my groin, and I start to feel faint. If I lean back, I feel like I can’t breathe. If I am on all fours, I can’t breathe either.

A choice of not breathing, fainting or being uncomfortable then. Great.

I did something potentially really stupid on Tuesday. I actually ventured out of my hometown to <gasp> London. I took the bus and then the train, and then the underground, and ended up outside the Husband’s office. I had, of course, taken with me my maternity notes and written an “In case of emergency” letter detailing who I am, why I have probably fainted if you’re reading this, what my son’s name is, and how to contact my husband.

I didn’t need it though. But every day since, I have felt like I have been wading through treacle. Husband had work stuff late after work on Wednesday and Thursday, which meant the whole day on my own with the Boy (including bedtime and dinner time), and he was obviously tired from Tuesday’s antics too. Cue frayed tempers (both his and mine), tears (mainly his), lack of sleep, and just general lethargy.

I am so, so very looking forward to tomorrow morning when the husband will be around to get up with the Boy instead of me, and will be around all day to help.

As much as I think I was a bit foolish to have attempted London, I bloody did it, and I wasn’t sick and I didn’t faint, didn’t piss myself, and I can still walk.

In. Your. Face. Pregno-crapness! I bloody did it! Even though I’m now paying the price. I still did it, so THERE.

I did pick up my new prescription for more anti-emetics today though. Baby steps.

Keep breathing as best you can.

TRP. x

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Well this is a first.

I went back for a re-dip of my urine to check for Gestational Diabetes. And it was fine.

This is massive news. Huge. This is the first thing that has Not Gone Wrong with this pregnancy so far. Amazing! It’s only taken 30 weeks!

I’m 31 weeks today. So baby could be here as early as 6 weeks’ time, or as late as 11 weeks’ time.

I feel like I am in utter limbo, unable to plan for any eventuality. Last time I was pregnant, it was all plain sailing (well, barring the sickness, the knackered pelvis, etc. etc.) until 37 weeks when I started itching with Obstetric Cholestasis. I self-referred to the Day assessment unit, they monitored me (all fine) took bloods (ouch), grilled me on the contents of the toilet after I’d finished with it (paler stools, darker urine), and sent me off to await the bloods results. Which came back positive. So I had to take lots of pills – Ursodeoxycholic Acid, and Vitamin K (pleasant, vanilla flavoured, and crunchy). This meant that I was induced. There is a 60% chance that I’ll get it again.

So I don’t want to start planning a whiff-of-patchouli-oil-type waterbirth if the odds are stacked against it happening. I know what I’m like. I’ll huff about it, obsess about it a bit, and generally be pissed off with my lot if I don’t get it.

Another complicating factor – baby is breech. And another complicating factor – at last glance, I had a low-lying placenta. According to the website of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, around 10% of people who are diagnosed with a low-lying placenta at their 20-week scan continue to have a low-lying placenta (placenta praevia) that will necessitate a sunroof exit from the uterus rather than the more traditional route. Another interesting thing I read on that website is that if your placenta is low-lying beyond 20 weeks, it can prevent baby from getting into a normal head down (cephalic) position for birth. At the moment, baby is stubbornly breech. I keep waking up with a head relatively low down, but we just can’t seem to make it stick no matter which way I contort myself to try and help.

Are you seeing where I am going with this?

60% chance of Obstetric Cholestasis + (10% chance of Placenta Praevia × stubbornly breech baby hinting at something being in the way of turning head down) ÷ The Law of Sod (I don’t call myself The Rubbish Pregno for nothing) = this one will end up coming out of the sunroof.

But if I am this pessimistic, will my negativity become a self-fulfilling prophecy? If I expect the worst, is it bound to happen?

Literally the ONLY thing in my birth preferences is that if I need cannulating, I want it doing by a doctor, as the last 2 attempts at cannulation have left me with a total of 11 holes in my arms/hands. This has been the worst bit of the whole hospital experience so far. It usually starts with a midwife “having a go” then getting a more senior midwife to do it, then a doctor. I’m asking to just cut the crap and go for the doctor. Or if there is a spare anaesthetist, all to the good. They can cannulate anything, allegedly!

So, my next appointment is for a re-scan at 34 weeks. Then a midwife a few days later to go through everything about my pregnancy so far to discuss options for labour and delivery. Which, at the very least, I expect to be a big, fat “we can’t plan anything until further rescan at 37 weeks”. I wish I were joking…

Keep breathing.


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Laughter is the best medicine?

Saw the midwife yesterday.

28 weeks now. Baby is still breech, blood pressure absolutely fine, no protein in urine, but I did have a trace of glucose. Therefore it’s back to the midwife in 2 weeks to see if there’s glucose in my urine then. If there is, it’s off to the hospital to have a Glucose Tolerance Test. This involves drinking something very sugary and then going back 2 hours later to see how my body is dealing with the sugar hit. If it’s having problems it can be an indicator of Gestational Diabetes.

They are also trying to do classes to take everyone through their 34-week appointment at a childrens’ centre in a group rather than taking up a double appointment with the midwife to do it. I asked for the midwife appointment option as although he was well-behaved yesterday (and he was an absolute angel to be fair), trying to placate the Boy sitting through a group appointment for a long time would result in him trashing the joint.

Had my blood taken yesterday too – H had engineered a working from home afternoon to help in case I needed to go and see a friend to help with breastfeeding stuff. She had an horrific time with her first child, and was going in yesterday for an elective section. It all ended happily, so I wasn’t needed for the time being. H was able to come and perform crowd control duties for the Boy so I could get on with being pathetic about having my blood taken (hate hate hate it). At least it’s over and done with. Just hope everything comes back fine.

If anything else does go wrong, I think I’ll just laugh. I am so used to having everything go wrong, I sort of sit back and let it wash over me. Worst case scenarios are: I am induced, or I end up with a section. I’ve done the induction before, and I’m not terrified of a section, so I can approach either option with a hope of a reasonable prognosis and no fear. Stewing about it will only send my blood pressure up and at the moment it’s about the only thing that’s normal.

Sickness is still rearing its ugly head when I don’t take the stemetil, so I’m still on that. Need to see the GP for another script actually. Having Braxton-Hicks contractions too (now in fact). Apart from that, I’m still breathing.

Hope you are too.

TRP. x

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Yes, Piles. Farmers, Haemmorhoids, whatever you care to call them. I have them and they are bloody uncomfortable.

I didn’t really get them until post-birth last time, as a result of the abandonment of my hypnobirthing “just breathe him out” ideal, and getting him out in 22 minutes via a LOT of pushing.

Post-birth last time was absolutely miserable for me – because of those bloody piles. Literally – bloody. I was in so much pain – I thought it was mostly from my stitches, but seeming as I’m getting the familiar sort of feeling from this set of piles, I think a lot of the pain I felt could be attributed to those instead. I couldn’t tell what I was feeling before having just had my poor perineum sliced and diced. I didn’t know what was what any more. I just knew I could feel a LOT of pain, whenever I went to the loo – this lasted weeks.

If I took codeine – the only thing to help with the pain – it made the constipation worse. Then I took senna to counteract the constipation (had been doing so in hospital) and I, erm… yeah, well I didn’t make it to the bathroom. I shat myself at the bathroom door. Oh, the glamour. So I just had to put up with paracetamol which didn’t really touch the sides.

I finally got back to some semblance of “normal” in terms of no pain when pooing, no bleeding, and no everyday discomfort at about 6-9 months post-birth. That’s a bloody long time. That’s like… waiting for my birthday NEXT year. It’s a frightening prospect.

In the meantime I am drinking lots, and trying to birth breathe my poo for the rest of this pregnancy.

This whole Crap at Pregnancy thing really has chosen to bite me on the arse, hasn’t it?!

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