Friday, December 30, 2016

33w2d - Less comfortable

I mean, it was bound to happen. But for sure the belly is getting bigger and the bladder pressure is getting stronger. Positively, I don't have to get up in the night to pee, but during the day I sort of feel like I need to pee all the time just because of the pressure on the bladder.

My hypnobirthing class is almost finished, and my NCT class is about to begin. The boyfriend has decided that he would like to be there for the birth so I said that he had to come to NCT class with me. I hope that goes well. He also needs to meet my doulas, and that's also in progress.

I need to chase up the solicitors here to get my will set up this month. I got in touch with them last month and asked them to email me. They called, and I repeated that I wanted them to email me, and then I got nothing through. This is not necessarily a great sign for these solicitors, but I just need a will drawn up and sorted before the birth.

I've started building the nursery furniture as I'm off work this week between Christmas and New Year. It's all gone slower than I hoped, although I think I've built the most tricky piece. I built the wardrobe and the storage unit. I still have to build the crib and the changing table. However, I can't build those until I move the sofa-bed downstairs, or rather, get someone else to move the sofa-bed downstairs. The storage units look great though, and they do hold a lot. So that's fab. Once everything is built, then the washing and sorting can begin!

Birth seems like such a foreign concept. It's amazing to me how unaware we are in modern society of the various mechanics of birth. They hypnobirthing class has been really good- and I'm looking forward to the NCT class as well. Although I'm intrigued, I'm not exactly looking forward to the birth. I can't imagine how it will be, so I try not to imagine how it will be. I'd like to have a good birth, to be one with my body, to sink into myself and emerge with a baby. But who knows. I have a bunch of appointments coming up this week and next. First is my 34 week scan on Tuesday. Wednesday I have an appointment with the consultant to discuss (and possibly schedule) induction. Did I say this already? I'm going to decline the early induction but I think I'll agree to induction at 40w in the hopes that I go into labor before then. Then the following week I have an appointment with one of the head midwives at the hospital to get permission if I do go into labor naturally that I can go into the birth center as opposed to straight to the delivery ward. I didn't really anticipate all this... hassle about giving birth.

In other news I've started perinial massage with ElastoLabo in the hopes of reducing any tearing during birth. This is probably one of my bigger concerns- I mean everything else heals but tears here can screw you up for life. The massage is not particularly comfortable and not the easiest to manage position-wise. But I'll stick with it because it really can't hurt and it seems like a good idea. At week 36 I can add the Epi-No to my routine. Watch, with my luck I'll be doing all this and then end up with a Cesarean! But anyway, as I say, it can't hurt and lets me feel like I'm doing something proactively to address my concerns.

I've had a mild cold all week which hasn't helped with anything. It's not a very bad cold, but enough to make me feel slightly under the weather. Hopefully I can get rid of it fully soon.

Monday, December 19, 2016

31w5d - Strange dream

Last night was the first time I had a dream about giving birth.  I've had dreams about having a child, or being pregnant, but typically the actual 'birth' is something that gets glossed over in my dreams. Perhaps because this is becoming more prominent and I'm doing more reading and classes, but last night I dreamed about the birth itself. It was very strange of course, because I don't have real experience to draw on, so it was very surreal. On the plus side, it wasn't awful. So there's that.

I had my second official meeting with my doulas yesterday. That was good, they're really great. I need to start writing up my birth plan. We covered a lot of areas and things they will help me with in the upcoming weeks. One of them always goes with me to the hypnobirthing class which is nice for me and a win win for them, so all good. One will come with me to my scan on January 4th and the other will come with me to my obstetricians meeting on January 5th. Not entirely sure why I'm having the scan, though I'm not upset because I like seeing baby girl. The obstetrician meeting will be to discuss induction. I think right now I am going to not agree to a 39w induction but I will agree to a 40w induction in the hopes that I will go into labor before then. The other meeting I need to set up is with one of the head of midwifery at the Rosie to get permission that if I do go into labor I can go to the birth center and not straight to the delivery unit. Apparently this is what is recommended for women over 40 but I'm not very happy with that. If I go into normal labor, I want the chance to have a comfortable labor in the lovely birthing center. If something goes wrong, or I decide I need medical help, then they can stick me in the lift and take me upstairs to the delivery unit. But I don't want to start there.

So that's what's going on in pregnancy world at the moment. The pregnancy itself is progressing fine. Baby girl is obviously getting bigger so I can feel her more. Last night she really poked out prominently which was almost shocking! I wish I'd filmed it. I still cycle to and from work which feels perfectly fine. I might even be getting used to my hand and feet issues as they don't seem to be bothering me as much. I guess I'm in one of the 'accepting' phases of physicality. Give it a week or two and I'll be more uncomfortable again!

I can't believe that it's the last week of work before the holiday break. When I get back to work in January, it's a one month countdown until I'm off on maternity leave. It's so fast!! I'm starting to look forward to the change and for baby girl to go from an idea to reality. And I can't believe it's going to be happening so soon. I can't even begin to imagine all the different ways in which my life is going to change, but I'm getting excited about it.

Friday, December 16, 2016

31w2d - Hypnobirthing class and things

Pregnancy progressing- bump getting bigger.  I still feel pretty good in general.  Maybe I am starting to need to pee a bit more often but not to the point where it's unreasonable, and I don't get up at night needing to pee, so that's good. 

I have one more week of work before the holiday break.  I'm definitely looking forward to some 'nesting' time at home. My IKEA deliver is coming a week from today so most of the break will be spent setting up the nursery. I can finally start washing and sorting all the bags of hand-me-downs which would be fun and exciting. I also have some new things to wash and get ready like muslins, wipes, and cloth outer nappies. I'm just looking forward to starting to prepare.

The other day baby girl was in a position where I didn't feel her very strongly. My midwife definitely got me a bit anxious about 'not feeling her kick' which I don't think was helpful. With the anterior placenta, I think sometimes she's just muffled and I don't notice her moving for a while. With what the midwife said, this of course makes me start to worry that something is wrong. Then the next day, I feel her moving fine. I understand being aware of risks, but I don't think this is something I need to be so anxious about so I'm trying to manage it.

Went to my second hypnobirthing class last night. I've added a link to the right-hand side bar if any one is interested in finding classes in the UK or for more information. I am interested in the theories behind hypnobirthing, even if I find self-hypnosis challenging. I'm not sure that part matters so much, more the understanding of the state you are trying to achieve. I won't know until the moment obviously but if I hold on to the ideas of the course, I may be able to find that mental state in my own way at the time. In the meantime, I'm enjoying the visualization and positive thinking that goes with it.

The big thing on the pregnancy agenda right now is the process of birth. Induction or no induction? And where can I give birth? I am off work from the first of February. My plan is to do every old wives tale in the book daily to try to jump start labor. This includes nipple stimulation, orgasms, eating spicy food, raspberry leaf tea, acupuncture, reflexology, etc. Anything and everything, I'm pretty much up for it so that I can, if possible, avoid an induction. If I get to my due date at 40w, I may decide to go ahead with the induction. So we'll see. The thing is, right now they are telling me I can't go to the birthing center because I'm over 40. Apparently if I go into labor, I will need 'continuous monitoring' which they only do on the delivery unit. But that's ridiculous if there are no other risk factors and anyway they do intermittent monitoring (every 15 minutes) in the birth center, so what the fuck? I may need to go have a meeting with the head of the center to get permission to go to the birth center. I find this all frustrating. And then I hear in class, that although you may not be allowed in the birth center, you are allowed, or rather, they can't stop you from having a home birth. Now, I in no way whatsoever want a home birth. But if threatening them with me deciding to have a home birth is what makes them relent and allow me into the birth center if I happen go to into labor, then we'll see. It's really all a bit ridiculous and annoying. Which is not how you want to be feeling about giving birth. I have a meeting on Sunday with my doulas to discuss options and strategies. Fucking hell.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

30w - 75% cooked

Well that's just crazy, isn't it? On the one hand, it seems very far along the journey, on the other hand there's still 10 weeks to go. Still, at this point, baby girl is pretty much well cooked and would have a 95% survival chance if she were to come early. It's a bit funny because I never think about an early labor. It's one of the things that I don't worry about or think about at all, other than this early induction issue. Perhaps because the pregnancy has been so 'standard' and I don't have an obvious risk factors, it just doesn't cross my mind that the baby could come early. Of course she could- I know some people who just had their baby very premature (she's fine). All I can think is that if that were to happen I'm completely not ready! I haven't actually set anything up, I don't have a hospital bag packed, I haven't washed any of the clothes. It would be a mess! Of course I would just deal with it, but still, very not prepared.

I've just gotten in touch with a solicitor to start the process of getting a will set up. I've never had one before as I never particularly felt I needed one. With baby girl on the way and slightly complex family dynamics, I think it's important to do so. As my Dad so lovingly pointed out to me, I could die in childbirth, so really, I should get it all in writing before then (thanks, Dad). But there is some truth to this. I would want guardianship of baby girl to go to one of my friends, not one of my parents. This has caused some issues with my mother who balked when I told her, but it's just sensible. Not to mention the fact that she and my father don't get along at all, so not only would she make no effort to ensure baby girl had a relationship with that side of my family, my Dad would retaliate by not helping to support baby girl whereas if it goes to a friend he would set up an annual trust payment to help with maintenance, etc. Plus my parents are old and not particularly capable of running around after a small child. So friends it is.

Baby girl is clearly getting bigger and space is getting tighter because I feel her more strongly at times. She has yet to punch or kick me in a sensitive area, although I do think she was using my bladder as a pillow at one point. I'm so far lucky that my need to pee still hasn't gone up all that much and I don't need to get up at night to pee, yet. Again, I think these things are coming, especially in the last month, as I know you need to get uncomfortable enough to desire labor. At least, that seems to be the way with every other pregnant person I know.

I wish I had more pictures of my pregnancy. I have a few. It's hard to take them of myself however. I'll need to carefully collect the ones I have as it's a scant record of what is most likely my only pregnancy. I know that I am intrigued by the one or two pictures I have of my mother pregnant and I'd like to be able to share that with daughter in the future. For sure one picture I must get at some point is me on the bike, pregnant. I'm still cycling to work, which is fine. Of course it's winter so I just might look all bundled up instead of pregnant, but if I can get someone to take the picture, I could unzip the bulky jacket for a bit in the spirit of documentation.

Monday, December 5, 2016

29w5d - Extremities

So overall, I have had a relatively easy pregnancy and for this I cannot complain. With 2.5 months to go (give or take), I am starting to get awkward and more frequently 'uncomfortable' but not in anyway intense yet. So overall, I still feel lucky.

There are however a few issues that have bothered me this pregnancy, and one that is getting worse. The constipation I've talked about before- it's still happening, and upsetting. I long for a the day when I can poop normally. The other issue seems to be joint/tendon/ligament issues most likely related to the relaxin that surges in pregnancy. Basically, I'm having carpel tunnel issues in my hands and what often feels like I imagine arthritis feels like in my finger joints. I've tried to mitigate this a bit by purchasing some wrist guards that I am sleeping with so I don't bend my wrists and allow my hands to go numb while sleeping.  My finger joints still ache, but at least my hands don't fall asleep. This however is manageable.

What is less manageable is the growing issue I am having with my feet. I should mention that over a year ago, I did some serious damage to my feet when I started running (bad idea). I'm not sure exactly what happened, but it seems like the stress from running caused some bone growth on the back of my heel which irritates my tendons and has caused me pain of varying degrees since it happened. Mostly I have addressed this issue by wearing clogs and heel pads. That seemed to work until recently. Suddenly it seems that when I bend over, or bend funny, the tendons down the side of my foot pretty much feel like they are ripping. It's very painful and worrying. I'm sure it's related to pregnancy hormones, I just don't know what to do about it. I will probably make an appointment with the GP because it's getting to the point where I can be sitting and just move my foot the wrong way and it hurts badly. Fun times.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

28w3d - Doula meeting and Nursery planning

I had my first official meeting with my two Doulas. It was really great. I was surprised that it ended up being a 3 hour meeting. I guess I didn't know what to expect. I'm sure we could have just kept chatting but it was after work, late, and I'd started yawning. We talked about birth choices, my preferences, life post birth, the type of support I think I might need, and the type of support they could offer now including information on things like pre-birth yoga exercises, hypnobirthing, baby care, etc. I didn't expect less, but it was a very positive meeting and made me feel good about all things birth and baby. Currently very much in favor of the Doula experience, and feel that is likely to continue.

As I think I said in the last post, I've been toying with nursery furniture layouts. I was happy to see that someone has made all of the IKEA Stuva pieces I'm considering in sketchup which makes my life much easier when doing layouts (previously I made my own blocks but just found these and was very happy). I mean, if I can't use my skills as an architect sometimes, what's the point?! On the positive side, the new layouts suggest that I think I can fit in a little bit of extra storage. The question is, which way?

Option 1 includes a larger unit- two drawers and three shelves (if you use the top of the unit as a shelf as well which I would). The downside is this means there will be a partially blocked area of the crib which will be about 1'7" square. This option looks like this (although on the unit next to the wardrobe it won't be doors on the top but 2 open shelves):

Option 2 uses a smaller unit instead of the taller unit. The benefits being that the blockage to the crib will be less, but I'll lose 2 shelves (I can still use the top of the unit as a shelf area). Option 2 therefore, looks like this:

I really want some sort of shelf area so I can put a nightlight, the baby monitor, etc. Otherwise, there isn't anyplace I can easily put these things. I also think some extra storage is going to be needed/useful. With either of these options, in the future, the changing table becomes a child's desk and can move along the wall with the storage units and the bed can move to along the wall under the window where the changer is now. The reason I don't want the crib over there now is that it's against the radiator which I'm trying to leave open to function better. Also, it gets hot! When she's older, I'll be more comfortable putting the crib/child bed against it.

You can see that there's sort of floor area where I was really hoping to put some sort of rocking chair but the space is actually incredibly tight with the door openings and access to the changing table. I've tried some chair components and they just don't fit well. I think I'll need to get the furniture in and then see what space is really there (and test some of the chairs in the house I have already before buying a rocker).

Any thoughts from the peanut gallery? I'm hoping to purchase furniture in the next month and get it set up over the holiday break. I don't find either solution completely satisfying, and I'm still mourning the loss of a possible chair. But time is ticking and I need to make some decisions!

Monday, November 21, 2016

27w5d - Parties and publicity

So first, a warm welcome to any Italian visitors who have come to this blog having read the short piece that I was interviewed for. I've used Google translate to check it out and it seems to cover what I discussed with the reporter.  I'm also glad she got in links to the DCN and SMC as these have been great resources for me on this journey. I know that single parenthood is less common in Italy and I hope spreading awareness can help others find fulfillment in their lives, whatever decisions they make.

In other news I had my baby shower on Saturday! It was really lovely to have a small gathering of friends to celebrate future baby girl. It was at a funky place in London and we all did a high tea sort of thing. It's clearly set up for parties and worked well I think. Positively, most people bought gifts off my registry and they have been send straight to my house so I didn't have too much to carry back with me. There's a funny picture of me with balloons coming out of my backpack on the way back to the train to Cambridge. Yes, I'm one of *those* annoying people.

So things in the house are really starting to pile up. I got another bag of hand-me-downs from a work colleague who stopped in on Friday. Her daughter is 4 months old and she says a bunch of clothes she got (as gifts or hand-me-downs) were the wrong season, so she just brought them for me. Seriously, I'm not going to need any additional clothes for baby girl. In fact I seriously doubt her ability to wear all the clothes I've been given so far! This is not a bad thing, but I need to get some furniture so I can do some washing so I can start sorting it all out and determining what I have for what age, etc. One of my projects yesterday was to measure the spare room/future nursery so I could plot out a furniture layout. The room is not large (8'x7'6") and has two doorways with inward operating doors. There's also a window and radiator that basically leave me with an 'L' shaped layout. I've worked out it will be relatively simple to fit the crib, changing table, and wardrobe. However, fitting anything else that I was hoping for (an extra storage cubby or a rocking/glider chair) is pretty much impossible. I'll continue to ponder the layout (I'm thinking there's one option I didn't try), but it's definitely tight outside of the three fundamental pieces.

Baby girl has been particularly active the past couple days, or she's starting to have less room so I feel her more.  I'm either going through a phase where my body is adjusting and I'm slightly uncomfortable, or it's really just the start of the third trimester where you can't really get comfortable. Time will tell.

In other news, I will have my first official meeting with my doulas tonight, so looking forward to that. Still pondering this whole induction issue. But I have time.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

27w1d - squirmy wormy

So baby girl has been much more noticeably active, which is nice. It's still a strange feeling, and not necessarily uncomfortable. Just twitchy jumpy belly feelings where you don't have things that should be twitching and jumping! If I'm in the right position and she's particularly active, I can see my belly twitching which is very amusing.

In less fun news, the constipation is back with a vengeance. Yesterday I chugged a cup of strong decaffeinated coffee just to get things moving. It worked, but I didn't feel completely satisfied after, although I felt a little bit better. It's getting less appealing to be putting food in, when less is coming out. I'm still eating prunes regularly, they just don't seem to be working as well anymore. Bleh.

According to most books and things, I'm officially now in the third trimester. This makes sense as I'm due in just under 3 months. There's still over 10 weeks to go, assuming all goes well. It's a little bit unnerving to think she's just going to keep growing and growing in all that time and I'm just going to get bigger and bigger. I definitely look pregnant now, but I know it gets much bigger. Both intriguing and a little bit scary.

Gifts have started arriving from my amazon wish list from friends and family which is pretty cool. This of course means the pile in the spare room is just growing exponentially. In December I think I'll order all the furniture and get the room sorted. I'll have time over the holidays as I otherwise don't celebrate and will have time at home to deal with things.

I'm starting to get a little bit nervous about being responsible for a tiny human. In January I'll take the NCT antenatal class I signed up for which should be helpful. In the meantime, I just feel particularly inept. I'm sure I'll learn- everyone does. Just another thing to start getting on top of!

My baby shower is this Saturday which should be good fun. I'm looking forward to seeing people, especially London people I don't see that often already, and will see less of most likely when baby girl arrives.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

26w1d - results

I managed to get my glucose tolerance test results right before I came to my workshop - all fine and normal. So that was good news! I think I was a little bit worried, but am glad that it came back fine.

Did I say in the last post that the midwife talked to me about paying attention to baby's movement? This is still causing me some stress as I'll find myself suddenly paying attention to my bump and wondering when the last time I felt anything at all was. It is normally pretty easy for me to ignore the tiny twinges that I feel. They don't bother me most of the time and are incredibly quick, so I tend to not notice them. Then, when I think about it, I start to get worried there hasn't been enough movement.

I'm definitely getting bigger though. Can't hide the pregnant. I will say that maternity clothes make you look even more pregnant which can be frustrating. If I wear maternity jeans and a maternity top, I look pregnant but I don't look unreasonable. If I put on a maternity dress, or a maternity shirt that 'hangs off the bump', I just look massive. It's pretty crazy how the different clothes can make you look a million times bigger.

During this workshop with students, I've also been identified as 'pregnant' where people now feel confident and comfortable to directly ask me when I'm due and about the pregnancy. You know how you aren't supposed to ask someone who looks 'a little bit pregnant' in case they aren't? Well I'm clearly past that point now. It's a little bit weird.

Finally, results on a global scale, yesterday was very depressing with the American election results coming in. For me, I felt it was Brexit all over again. I think that means my shock has been shorter than it was the first time around. I still just wonder what sort of world I'm bringing my little girl into. It's frightening.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

25w1d - glucose test

This morning I had my glucose tolerance test. I won't get the results for a week or so. It should come by post. It's interesting because on the forum I spend a lot of time on (that has lots of Americans) it seems as though there are two glucose tests- the one hour and the three hour. In the UK they do a single two hour test. Basically, I had to have no food or drink past 10pm last night, then show up at the hospital this morning. They took blood and then gave me a fixed amount of Lucozade to drink. You then sit around for an hour and they take your blood. Then you sit around for another hour and they take your blood again (two hours, get it?). I asked about the one hour and three hour and they said that there is a 3 hour test which is basically just wait another hour, and that they don't do the 1 hour test at all. Basically, in the UK, the 2 hour test is the diagnostic test for pregnant women.

At any rate, I've done it so now I wait. It made me feel a bit off this morning. Drinking a lot of carbonated sugar first thing in the morning on an empty stomach isn't that nice. It's afternoon now and as I've had a ham and cheese toasty and a baked potato with beans and cheese I'm starting to feel a bit more normal.

On the plus side, although I had to get blood taken 3 times, they managed to get it on the first time each time! Although by the third she had to poke around a bit before she got it in just the right place. Still, better than before, huh?

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

24w6d - Alone

I'm back in the UK now, busy as ever. November is going to be a mental month. Then it's December already! Holy shit!

While I was away, I had time to do some musing. This often happens when I spend lots of time with my family. I also met up with my friend's parents- the friend who isn't talking to me. This also caused a lot of musing. Interesting, and opposite.

First, I will dwell on the continued hurt caused by my absent friend. I see her parents when I'm in the States, or have for the past 5-6 years, so I thought I would still see them even though she isn't talking to me. Because I hope this time will pass. And it was lovely to see them, as usual. However, it also was made very clear through the answers to my questions about my friend, how much I have missed the past 4 months by her cutting me out of her life. Because a lot has happened in hers, that she clearly has no interest in sharing with me. On top of her absence in my life, which I already find painful, this was equally painful. It's really just a crappy situation and I do wonder in dark moments if our friendship will ever recover this slight. Or if she even cares to be my friend at all in the future.

I've also felt the slight absence of other friends, although not as obvious or I think as intentional. Just people I was hearing from are suddenly being heard from less. Perhaps I'm sensitive because of the first situation. I don't know. At any rate, it made me feel more alone, which in some ways made me feel sorry for myself.

But then the alternative to these thoughts is that I was pondering the idea that I'm really never going to be alone again. At least for a great number of years and period of time, I am the sole person responsible for another human being who will need my attention and time and care. I won't be able to just 'up and go' as I like and please, which has been my life for a very long time. It was a rather sobering thought to be honest. While I greatly look forward to being a parent, it will certainly be tough as a single parent to not have that other person that you can catch a break from. I will be completely responsible all of the time. And that's huge. I'm sure there will be times when I hate it. But I also know/hope that it will be beyond worth it. I just can't really imagine exactly how different my life is going to be. Theoretically I understand it, but the reality will be its own thing, for sure.

So there you have it. Two completely separate musings on the concept of being alone, or not alone as it were.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

24w1d - movement

I've been away visiting the States and forgot I had blogger on my tablet! It's been a pretty busy trip; usually I take 3 weeks to do this trip and see all my friends and family. This is a somewhat condensed version in 2 weeks, so less down time. I'm only here a couple more days, then it's back to England, and the month of November. Time seems to be moving fast again. With baby coming in February, it didn't feel like much time left!!

At 24 weeks now, everything tells me I should be feeling the baby move. I think i do feel her move but as she's still small, what I feel it's like a small twinge. No one tells you how it's supposed to feel. I completely understand how some women could not know they're pregnant at this stage. It's very easy to ignore those twinges as a muscle thing, not a being growing inside you thing. Now, I can't ignore my shape and body changes, so that's kind of a giveaway, but the movement thing is pretty subtle so far. As she gets bigger, and runs out of room, I resurrect more obvious sensation. For now though, is a funny thing, and not what I expected I guess.

On this trip I've received a number of gifts for baby, pretty much all clothes. I haven't been given a single thing from my registry. It's slightly annoying as I've been given a ton of hand me downs and don't really need clothes. I do however, need the things on my registry. In grateful for the gifts, but wish people were more practical. Ah well.

November will be a busy work month for me, and then it will be December. So crazy. Time is sneaking up on me, is how it feels. It's still hard to believe I'm going to have a baby. Definitely still played by worries though. I think I need a new post for that one.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

22w1d - Advanced maternal age

On Tuesday I had a meeting with the obstetrician at the hospital. This was scheduled because I am borderline for pregnancy risk factors- my age, my weight, and my history of ovarian cyst and abdominal surgery. The meeting, which was very short, was relatively uneventful. However, the registrar said that due to my age, they recommend I have an induction at 39 weeks.  Apparently, once you are 40, your risk of stillbirth doubles from week 39 compared to a younger women. This sounds awful, but what it really means is your risk goes from 1:2000 to 1:1000 which still means you have a .01% risk of stillbirth. Still, this was not news I was expecting or prepared for. It sent me to looking through the internet and forums to confirm this information which does seem legitimate. However, it sort of sucks. Follow up reading suggests that induction does not increase the chance of a cesarean section, although I think this is widely held belief. I guess in part the reality is that older mothers in general have a higher rate of cesareans.

This will be something I need to continue to discuss with my midwife and doulas. I really wasn't planning to have the baby early, and I wasn't even thinking about induction at this stage. I guess I need to, and I need to start thinking about when to do it. It seems unclear if the testing shows a difference between 39w and 39w6d so I could get very close to my due date, or I could just decide to go a week early. Although this would only mean I took a week off of work. Decisions to make. But at least I have time to see how the pregnancy continues to progress and talk to my support team.

In other news, I'm off to the States tomorrow for a couple of weeks which should be good. Going to see family and friends which I'm looking forward to. Although I never look forward to the long flight. Hopefully all will be well. I got compression socks to wear so I can be a good pregnant woman.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

21w1d - Doula interviews

I've been busy interviewing doulas so that there is plenty of time to build a good relationship with one before labour. I started off looking on the Doula UK website and contacted two doulas. One was not available during my delivery. The other I had a nice phone chat with. However, she encouraged me to speak to a few more doulas and even facilitated this by sending around a message to see who was available on my due date to give me a short list to review. It turns out there is a Cambridge specific doula website which was useful, although I hadn't come across it initially.  I looked up everyone on the short listed and contacted 5 more doulas.

Last week I managed to speak to everyone on the phone (and one in person). All of the douals were really lovely and it gave me a very positive feeling about birth. It was hard to think about how to narrow the selection but I felt a slight affinity for 3 of the 6 so I arranged to meet in person with those 3. I've met with two so far and the third will be later today. Again, everyone is lovely so it's going to be difficult to select.  Although in speaking to everyone I think I've decided to do what's called a 'shared' service where you basically have 2 doulas who split your job.  This came about because I was asking what happens if a doula can't make your delivery.  They go on call for 2 weeks before and 2 weeks after your due date.  But of course, emergencies happen.  I believe a doula will do everything in their power to make it to your birth, but what if they can't? Okay, they tend to have a backup, but you may not know that person.  In my case, it is possible that there will be no other birth partner (still not clear on the boyfriend situation). So I wanted extra assurance that in case of emergency, there would definitely be a back-up and that I would get to know that person. Also with shared doulas they can support each other- so for example, if my labor was very long, they could trade off so one could get some rest but I was still supported.

So I guess that generally means I need to pick two from the three, and then see what sort of shared packages they can offer me. I will say just from going through the interview process, I feel very positive about hiring a doula and what they will be able to do for me pre-birth, at the birth, and post-birth.  I'm glad to have this being sorted now, as with half of the pregnancy to go, it should give me time to develop good relationships with whomever I choose so that I feel the most comfortable and supported throughout the process.

Monday, October 3, 2016

20w5d - Vaccinations

I rang my GP this morning to see about getting a flu and whooping cough vaccination.  I'm travelling to the States in 2 weeks so on top of exposing myself to germs I'm not used to, I'll be stuck in planes for 7 hours each way.  I figured I should probably get on top of the vaccination thing. I looked online for when I should get the vaccinations because I was sure I'd seen somewhere that you were supposed to get whooping cough at 28 weeks or so.  But then I found this article that supports this site that says from 20 weeks is the right time. I guess that makes me bang on target. And with two weeks to travel, it's time for it to settle into my body to be useful (I hope).

I have no major pregnancy news to report. Feeling good still, which is nice. I can still fit into my baggier regular jeans so I'm not completely onto my pregnancy wardrobe yet. It's funny though- the way pregnancy clothes are cut, the second you put them on you just look pregnant. Not that I particularly mind, although I did see an AWFUL photo of myself from Saturday which was just.... truly terrible. I need to get some nice pictures of me being pregnant and delete the horrid one. Hopefully I can get people to oblige when I'm in the States!

Baby shower invitations have gone out for mid/late November. A friend of mine here (British) asked why baby showers are before the birth since so much can go wrong. I understand her point, but I said it's usually to give you things you need for the baby arriving to which she retorted that the point should be celebrating the baby- not just giving you things. I am always amused by cultural differences!! But it's true, baby showers are not traditional here in the UK really, although quickly being adopted by spreading American culture.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

20w1d - 50% and scan

Yesterday I was officially halfway through this pregnancy. Sort of crazy! Parts of it have gone fast, then parts have gone slow, now it seems fast again. This morning I put on normal clothes and I didn't feel particularly pregnant. This gave me a mild anxiety about going for my anatomy scan. What if something was wrong?

Of course nothing was wrong, baby girl was bigger than last time. I got to see all new parts of her body including her spine and the four chambers of her heart beating. Looks like she's still above average on size, although not quite as big as the last measurement. My next scan isn't until 34 weeks.

I had them check my ovary while I was at it. They brought in a radiologist who works in the pregnancy clinic but also specializes in female reproductive scanning. She found the ovary and didn't see any unusual growths or that it was any bigger than it should be. So this was also a relief. My mother lost her second ovary during her pregnancy with me, where a cyst grew to be 9lbs. So I was a little bit nervous this could happen to me as well, but so far it seems okay.

First round invitations have gone out for my baby shower which some friends of mine are hosting. We've decided to have it a little early because the idea time would be smack in the middle of December which just doesn't seem like a good time at all. So it was either be early, or late. We opted for early. That's cool though. I'll be more comfortable for it.

I've been interviewing doulas with an eye towards picking one. I have three more to get in touch with, as I've narrowed down to 5. Then I'll meet a shortlist from the 5 in person and then pick someone to go with. The two I've spoken to so far have been really nice and I definitely am enthused about the idea of having one.

So far in the pregnancy I've gained about 5 pounds. That seems okay. At one point I thought I'd gained more, but I think I just ate a lot the day before. I know I will start gaining in the second half of the pregnancy but I'm still conscious of trying not to gain too much seeing as how I already started heavy. So far I feel okay about it. It was good to know that I could fit into my regular jeans today- although they are no where near as comfortable as maternity jeans!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

19w1d - Productive

I had a four-day break up to Manchester this past weekend where I got to see two lovely friends of mine who are both already mothers. It was lovely to see them in general, but it was also great to talk about pregnancy related things; to get advice and stories of first hand experiences. I went shopping with one at the pharmacy where we filled a basket with 'things I'll need straight away' including breast pads, maternity pads, nipple cream, baby butt cream, etc. Sometimes it's very helpful for someone else to say, 'Get this, it works.' where I don't have to get my brain around all the different advice out there. I also went with the other to look at nursing and sleeping bras which was also useful. I think though that I might see if I can find those cheaper when I'm in the States. Although with the drop in the pound, it may not be the case.

I've started wearing some of the maternity clothes I bought which are ridiculously comfortable. I'm starting to show, and maternity clothes seem to make it look worse, but mostly the clothes are still too big as I don't really have a big enough bump to fill them yet. This will change.

I'm still benefiting from various hand-me-downs which is great. I believe I have now scored a newborn car-seat, a bouncy seat, and a highchair. Although the highchair straps are manky and need replacing- but I've called the manufacturer who says they don't have a replacement. They suggested a different harness though so now I need to go to the store and see if that's really feasible or not.

My mother sent me an email last night because she knows a woman who had kids and she sent through a list of her favorite things. Which was fine. However, then my mother continued on to question my choices about what I wanted saying I should use what her friend used. Like I haven't done my research? As though I don't know what I actually want in my house? Or, you know, that I haven't talked to a number (ie, many more than one) of recent parents about all the things they used and put all of the conflicting advice together in my head to sort out what I believe will work best for me? Gr.

I heard back from the first doula I emailed that she would be away during my due date so couldn't offer her services. I've reached out to another that I liked. I have no idea if I'm late or early on the doula search, but I do know it's going to be important to find one I actually like if they're going to be with me in labor. I'm sure I'll find one I like eventually.

One week to my anatomy scan! Looking forward to that. It's been a while since I've seen baby girl, and it will be exciting to see all the bits of her!

Friday, September 16, 2016

18w2d - Ahhhh

After many hot days in England in September, the weather has turned more predictably cold and rainy. This morning I needed to get dressed and jeans were the answer. I decided I would try a pair of the pregnancy jeans to see how they fit and what they were like. Oh my god, so comfortable. I swear I never want to take them off. With a long shirt over the bump band, you can't tell any different. Seriously, where have these been my whole life? It's like wearing jean-pajamas.

My baby wishlist on Amazon is fairly complete now. Gnappies was having a 25% off sale since they are closing down their website/direct shop so I bought some more disposable inserts. This could be a massive mistake, but I'm going to persevere for the first month or so and then see how I feel. Anyway, I've bought them now! I'm thinking that I really need to get some sort of storage unit so I can start washing all the baby clothes I'm getting and putting them in order of age to see what I have. I've got my eye on some IKEA furniture for this purpose, though I might find cheaper in sales and other places. I feel the IKEA set will last longer. I don't need it yet though, maybe when I get back from the States I'll get more serious about starting to buy things.

You could call this 'nesting' but I think it's just practical. I have bin bags full of baby clothes scattered around now (with more on the way likely) and it would really be useful to be able to start sorting things and putting them away. This will also help me tell people what I need and don't need. Right now, I definitely don't need any newborn clothes, and probably not much in the 1-3 month category either. But I just don't know for sure. This is awesome by the way, to get so many things from other people. Nursery furniture and strollers will end up costing a bit, so anything I don't have to buy is great.

I pulled out the Doppler last night, although I can't deny the expanding waistline. It took a while but eventually I found the galloping horse-beat sound. Always amazing, and of course reassuring. Baby girl is really in there!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

17w6d - Popping out

I've been running about and procrastinating less, so less time to catch up. Also, not entirely sure what to catch up on. Pregnancy in the second trimester is so far mostly uneventful. I generally feel fine. Time seems to be a bit slow (it seemed to go so fast to get to 10 weeks, the next 10 not so fast). The biggest news I probably have is that people who know me are 'noticing' the change in my shape. I'm definitely getting the rounded quality that is definitely pregnant and not just fat. I think this is because everything pushes up which rounds out your top bit (say, between the belly button and ribs). It's actually strange for me to 'look' pregnant, like, I keep shocking myself when I see myself in a mirror. I get a bit weirded out though as some women on the pregnancy board ahead of mine say they are only just showing or only haven't put on any weight. Really? Because I think I'm feeling fairly normal, but that makes me feel a bit like a pig.

I haven't weighed myself for a week or two. I'm sure I've put on a couple of pounds but I don't otherwise feel like I've gained too much. My midwife doesn't weigh me which I think is interesting. In fact she just asked my weight at the first meeting we had.  I know in the states a doctor would weigh you every time, and be providing commentary.

In my social network, my mother continues to irritate me by being manipulative and difficult regarding 'what I need' for new baby. This really amounts to what she wants, not what I need. She doesn't ask me what I want or need, makes assumptions, and then gets either grumpy or manipulative to try and get her way if I disagree. My 'best friend' is still not talking to me because I'm pregnant and she can't handle it; which I continue to try to be sensitive to, but actually doesn't change how much her actions hurts me. On the other hand, I've had a very positive talk with a friend about the possibility of them being the legal guardians for my daughter if something were to happen to me. I've also had friends spontaneously offer to throw me a baby shower which was unexpected and very sweet. In fairness the love and positivity I get from my non-frustrating friends & family far outweighs the bad stuff. I should try to focus on that more and on the irritants less.

Anything else of note? In no particular order... With the growing belly comes a more regular feeling of 'fullness' which isn't entirely enjoyable. I know it will only get worse, I'm just waiting for my senses to adapt to the new normal and stop making it feel mildly uncomfortable. The prune project seems to be working, and constipation is not nearly so bad. I've been thinking about starting some letters to my daughter, that I could compile into a little book or something to give her when she's older. Is that tacky? My next scan (the anatomy scan) is in 2 weeks, meeting with obstetrician is in 4, then I go to the States and my next midwife appointment is when I come back. Right now that seems like forever away.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

16w4d - Loss of Plan-A pangs

I don't think very many women set out to be a single mother in life. I believe that most women arrive at the conclusion that being a single mother is an acceptable route to a desired goal when the traditional route to that desired goal fails to materialize, typically by some particular age. Most of the time it doesn't even occur to me that this is unusual or different. This is because I have firstly, thought about it for an exceptionally long time; which has given me time to get used to the idea and have it become my normal. And secondly, because I am on forums and frequent places with many other single mothers all doing the same thing which also helps to normalize my choice. And I do appreciate the voices of those women, although many very different to me in their outlook, beliefs, and person-hood; yet we all share this one thing and it's just... normal.

But sometimes, occasionally, I have worries and doubts - about doing this alone, about being alone. How I think I can only afford (both emotionally and financially) to care for a single child and so I worry about the sort of life I am going to give to my daughter. Sometimes when checking in to social media, I see past lovers with their new partners and I feel a twinge of sorrow for what wasn't. That they found with someone else what they didn't find with me. I admit, it makes me feel a bit sorry for myself. I then progress these thoughts and think of me, the sad spinster with her only daughter. What am I doing??

And then those thoughts pass, and I tell my other self to snap out of it and stop being ridiculous! I have worked very hard to achieve the life I now lead. I don't regret for one instant the personal challenges and growth I have been through to come to a position where my life fulfillment is not dependent on another human being, even baby daughter. I believe this is a healthy reality for me, one that I have embraced, and that has made me into a satisfied adult. But it doesn't mean I'm not still human and don't wish sometimes (or mourn the loss of) the fairy tale and prince charming ending. It's impossible to completely break yourself free of your social conditioning, no matter how much growth you've had.

I don't regret my life choices in any way. And overall, I'm a pretty happy person. I couldn't have said that ten years ago at all. I couldn't have said it consistently five years ago. I have worked hard to shape my life into one I enjoy, that I can be proud of, and that fulfills me. For this, I have no regrets. I am however, only human, and sometimes thoughts of the future are scary. What if I've made some terrible mistake? I don't really think life can be a mistake as such- it's more a series of events and choices; and it's how you deal with them that shapes your outlook. Forgive me my moment of navel gazing.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

16w - Constipation

It seems uncanny that on almost all of the pregnancy apps and in the books I read, they have started to mention constipation. I'm afraid I'm suffering from it, and it is not fun. I eat a lot of vegetables and fruit, and I've just added two morning prunes to my diet to hope that helps even things out. Yesterday I had to retreat to the bathroom twice for over 15 minutes each time. I work in an open plan office and in a small team. People notice when you disappear. That's all I'm saying. Aside from the general unpleasantness and fear that I'm going to give myself hemorrhoids, or rather, worsen what I already have. I've been looking online for additional remedies I can add to my diet. The one thing they all say is to drink more water which is something of a downfall for me because I've never been able to drink that much water (or drink anything in general, they don't call me the camel for nothing). I've increased my water drinking with the pregnancy, but I still probably drink less than  your average person. So I'm going to work on that as well. Blah.

Midwife appointment yesterday went well. My blood pressure is very good. Better in fact, then when I was not pregnant. I asked if it's normal for your blood pressure to drop during pregnancy and the midwife said at this stage yes. Anyway, that's alright. The midwife was annoyed on my behalf that when I went for the 12 week scan they didn't do the Nuchal screening test. Although the NIPT is a more accurate test, it's not a fail-safe and a double check would have been completely reasonable. I was a little bit annoyed at myself for not advocating better at the time. Now it's too late. So I'll just have to rely on the NIPT results alone. We also went through all the results of my blood work that I got done after my first appointment and everything was normal and good. Including my iron, which I was concerned about. I also learned that I am blood type O+. I'm not sure I knew that, although my mom did say she thought I was O something.

My gut area is feeling bloated again, although hard to tell if it's from growing baby girl or from constipation. I mean, the belly is going to keep growing, so these feelings are normal. I'm just not sure what it's from at the moment. In the long run it probably doesn't matter. I'm still wearing my regular clothes however. Maybe not the tightest stuff, but most of it seems fine.

I intermittently feel upset that my best friend has gone back to not talking to me. I can't remember what I've put here about this situation. Suffice to say, she's been trying to get pregnant (for kid #3) at the same time I was trying to get pregnant. I got pregnant, she didn't. She stopped talking to me. Then she started talking to me again a month later, but really it was only because she got pregnant, but then things went wrong and she lost the pregnancy, so now she's not speaking to me again. She's struggled with fertility issues for years, and it's amazing she has the two kids she already has. She's been depressed and probably hasn't slept well for 4 years. So I understand she's not well. But even though I understand that, it doesn't mean that her absence of friendship doesn't hurt me at the same time. It's upsetting. And I have a lot of other friends who are awesome and interested and available so I feel rude for complaining about this one friendship, especially to people who are being so great. So I'm also trying not to talk about it to too many people, but it still upsets me a lot.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

15w6d - Fast and slow

Tomorrow I will be 16 weeks officially.  I remember when I hit 10 weeks and I was thinking, wow, it's so fast!  25% done with pregnancy!! Now time is really going much slower.  Still 4 weeks to go until the half way point. I'm not complaining, it's just interesting that the first 10 weeks seemed to pass in no time at all, and now it feels like being pregnant is just the normal way of things and I'll be pregnant forever.

Of course if I think objectively about the calendar, this is not true at all.  February isn't all that far away in the grand scheme of things. It's almost September!

I've decided to go to the States in October when I'll be 24/25 weeks pregnant. A reasonable time to travel I think. I didn't go at all last year, and I don't know when I'd feel up for going next year (if at all). So it seemed like a good idea.  It's a quick trip for me- only 2 weeks. But should be good.

Because I bought the air ticket, I'm going to try and buy very little else this month. Although a colleague told me about someone selling a 'next2me' crib in her local swap group which is what I'm after at a good price. So I'm going to try and buy very little actively, but if things fall into my lap, I'm not going to ignore them either.

I got my newborn pack of gnappies this morning. They are so tiny!! I really hope they work out. Although still not the cheapest option by a long shot. Maybe later, if I use cloth inserts over disposable. But the disposable inserts still come out at up to 7x the price of the cheapest disposable nappy. Considering there is less material to them (as an insert and not a full nappy) this is particularly frustrating.  Even if the materials are more eco friendly, I don't think I believe the mark-up is fully warranted. But anyway, we'll see how it goes.

Later today I have my first real midwife appointment as the first one was mostly an intake appointment. Sort of looking forward to it. Not really sure what happens. Maybe I'll update tomorrow.

Friday, August 26, 2016

15w2d - Family

I've had two very different talks with my parents over the past week.  I try to talk to my parents (individually, they're divorced) once a week or so. Sometimes it works out to every other week. Sometimes longer. My parents are incredibly different people and my relationship with them individually is also very different.

My dad is good with money. By good with money, I also mean he can also be cheap and frustrating and does not live in a way that I agree with by any stretch. But when it comes to saving money and planning for the future financially, his advice is very useful. So I had emailed him a couple of weeks ago asking if I should be looking at life insurance policies. When we spoke on the phone he said no, because he would help support the child if something happened to me, in that all of my inheritance from  him would then be for my daughter. This led on to talking about who might care for my daughter if something happened to me, and how that would work. It was all a very reasonable conversation but did make me think that I should get on top of that before giving birth. My dad pointed out, rightly, that if something happened to me during the birth, I needed plans in place. Of course there is zero reason to think anything so dramatic will happen, but that was sensible advice. It's also important seeing as I have no siblings and both of my parents are old and in my opinion, not capable of caring for a young child (or a child in general at their ages) so it is important and something I need to discuss. I have a couple of very close friends in mind I could speak to about it, so that's the new plan. So that was my discussion with my dad.

My mom and I have a difficult relationship. We don't always get on and there's a lot of underlying animosity on both sides. I find my mother very difficult to deal with, as I'm sure she finds me. It's just how it is. But impending grandchild has raised all sorts of issues that cause me continual stress. For starters, my mother is just inviting herself along to 'be here' for indefinite periods of time without asking. She informed me that she plans to get a one way ticket to the UK and will return when we agree it's a good time. I've stressed to her that I really do not want her here for any more than 6 weeks at a time, and even that seems excessive to me. Especially considering she will want to stay in my (small) house and be on top of me all that time. I know she believes that she will be helpful, but my mother has ideas of what being helpful means and then there is the actuality of what she will do. She thinks being helpful will mean holding the baby whereas what being helpful really means will be cooking, cleaning, laundry etc.. I suggested she may want to not stay with me the whole time but she didn't like that either, again saying 'we can decide at the time' as if having arguments about kicking her out because I don't want her in my house anymore is going to be easier than her just having a place she can go to when it's obvious she needs a)sleep or b) to give me space? I also thought it would be useful to tell her my intentions regarding child guardianship which did not go over well. She clearly assumed that if something happened to me that she would just have the child. Which I can't see. On top of which it would create all sorts of issues of having any relationship with my father (my parents are not cordial) and it would also mean my dad, out of spite, would then not support the child either. So aside from the fact that my mother physically really can't do it, it's not good for any number of other reasons. But she got all shitty with me about it, although eventually seemed to come around to accepting that it's my decision. Just a fucking headache. I wish she would stop assuming things about me and child and ask me what I want or what she can do. She gets overly upset if I disagree with her 'wonderful plans' but she didn't ASK me what I need or want. Because the reality of the situation is it has nothing to do with what I need or want and everything to do with what she wants. As it gets closer to the time, I will put my foot down, and I guess it's good to have these preliminary conversations now as it exposes various things. It's just that every one feels like a battle. Really not fun at all.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

15w - Thrifty

Last night I went for the fetal doppler again as I wanted to assure myself I am still, actually, pregnant. Again it took a little bit for me to find the baby's heartbeat but there is no mistaking it when you do because it's a rather rapid 'thump thump thump' as opposed to anything else that sounds like my own heartbeat (which I also heard).  So I heard it and then turned the doppler off, content that yes, I am still actually pregnant.

I've been going mad on EBay buying maternity clothes. Most of it is coming in at under £5 including the shipping.  And all name brands. I've been very pleased so far with my purchases.  I need some more tops and possibly leggings but I've got jeans and dresses and a couple of tops and a couple of bathing suits.  I also am looking at winter coats (as I'll be very pregnant in January).

Of course I'm also looking at other stuff that is less immediately necessary.  I got a great deal on three newborn baby sleepsuits that are not pink. I also purchased the newborn starter back of gNappies at a great discount (about 1/3 off?).  I'm keen to reduce diaper to landfill waste but not sure about 100% reusable to start so these seem like a good compromise.  Also, I have a big garden so if I can compost the pee-only inserts, that's definitely a lot less waste to landfill.  If I get brave and want to try washable inserts, the diapers also take reusable inserts as well.  And the reviews seemed good. I've also been looking at breast pumps and strollers. I need to go try out some different strollers to work out what I want and then I'm going to start seriously cruising EBay and Gumtree for that as well.  And a bedside co-sleeping crib.  Basically, I see no reason to buy new things when most baby things are outgrown fairly quickly and in perfectly good condition. All the money I save is money for extending my maternity leave and money for childcare in the first few years, so every bit helps.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

14w - Facebook

So I did it. I made the pregnancy announcement. Getting a lot of love from far and wide which is nice. And it is an easy way to tell people. Kind of scary. Does it make it all somehow more real? Or does it just make it more precarious in case something goes wrong?

At any rate, I'm enjoying the global love. It pairs nicely with the birthday love. I swear this is what social media is for.

Oh yeah, in the meantime, at 14w today, I can definitively say this is now the second trimester! Woohoo!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

13w6d - Happy birthday to me!

42.... I'm so old.  I'm saying it's my Douglas Adams year.  I don't know if I'll have the answer to life, the universe, and everything.... but things are definitely going to change!! Another friend told me that astrologically 42 is also considered a life changing year.  Anyway, it seems I'm consistent!!

Monday, August 15, 2016

13w5d - Sneaking doubt

I've decided to change the timing to my actual week count according to my midwife. It's just easier.

So at almost 14 weeks, I again feel 'not pregnant'. Nothing has happened, and nothing has changed. Or perhaps I get more comfortable with the subtle changes so they seem less new. At any rate, this means the doubt starts to creep in that something has happened that I am otherwise unaware of. I of course have no reason to think that something has happened. I have had no cramps, no spotting, nothing at all to suggest I am anything other than pregnant. It's just weird.

This weekend some friends of mine came to visit with their 2 children. I haven't seen them for a while, and I had not yet met new baby who was not so new anymore. They brought me a whole bag filled of baby clothes and some other goodies which was awesome. Although some are not labeled in English so it's not entirely obviously what size they are for, but if I put them next to the ones that I can read, it will be easy enough to work out. I mean really, what fits the baby fits, when it doesn't, they've outgrown it! For some reason I expected some of the hand-me-downs from their youngest who is a boy, but they managed to give me a bag from their eldest who is a girl. Apparently it's been used by someone else in between, but who cares? What was funny was how pink and purple everything was! Also white with some grey and beige, but mostly pink and purple. I guess that's the way forward! I was saying to a work colleague today that someone really needs to make non-gendered baby clothes in rainbow colors or lovely greens and oranges and yellows and browns. Why so much gendered clothing? It's ridiculous. It's also why one of the few items of clothing I am likely to indulge in is this number from a designer I've seen at shows in London for years.

One of the things my friends also brought was their fetal Doppler. We gave it a go and couldn't find the heartbeat. This was not entirely unexpected because first, it says it's for use from 14 weeks which I'm not yet; second, I've got extra belly padding which makes finding something the size of a lentil inside of a lemon inside my gut less easy; and third, from my NIPT scan, I learned I have an anterior placenta which can also make it difficult to find the heartbeat. While this didn't immediately fill me with panic, it also didn't help with my general feelings of 'not pregnant'. I don't have a midwife appointment for 2 weeks, so there is nothing to do but go about my daily business and hope that something starts to happen at some point that indicates to me that I might actually be pregnant! I mean, other than not having my period, having a tiny bit of a bump obvious to only me, firmer breasts, and more sensitive nipples.

In other news I've scored some great buys on eBay for maternity clothes and I will continue to scour the listings. I got a few things today. I think I've spent in total £25 on a few auctions and have 3 tops, 3 pairs of jeans, and two pairs of leggings. Considering one pair of jeans new is around £25, I feel pretty good about this.  Some of it arrived today and looks great, so I'll wash it and have everything ready for when I need it. Currently scouting pajamas, a bathing suit, and more tops.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

78dpo 13w4d - Sad dreams

They say that pregnancy dreams can be intense. I can't say I've noticed that my dreams are more intense than before, but I've always had rather epic and involved and very detailed dreams. Sometimes I have them in phases, and I have had some recently, but I've also not had some recently so I can't say I've noticed any particular change.

But I can say that because dreams are a way to deal with your current thoughts, that I have noticed a shift in content to often involve issues relating to my future child. For example, the other day I had a dream that my daughter ended up being very dark skinned, sort of like south Indian dark skinned. I'm sure this was brought about because I selected an ethnic donor. Now, I selected an ethnic donor who listed themselves as Caucasian and in the photos looked just a bit olive skinned tanned. Their ethnic heritage is Syrian, but I suspect that mixed with my genes, my child will look as I expected, Caucasian and a bit Middle Eastern perhaps which was what I was going for given that I'm always mistaken for Mediterranean of some sort or another and look like the Ashkenazi Jew that I am. But in my dream this child was very dark and I was fretting that I'd made some awful mistake and given her a harder life because she didn't look much like me as intended.

Last night I had a dream about relationships and fathers. My dream featured two men who I know from different couples that I know. These are lovely couples who I think have really wonderful relationships. The kind that most people don't have. I don't really remember my dream now, but I think one or both of these men were somehow available and I was talking to them, and then even in my dream it was some later 'scene' and I was explaining to someone else that I was dreaming of these men because I was feeling sad about the path that life did not pick for me and what I didn't have. And then I woke up.

Becoming a single mother was not my Plan A. I of course hoped to find the right person that I would have liked to have a family with. It just didn't work out like that. I don't regret my decision, and I don't feel bad about it in any way. But I suppose there are some particular uncertainties that come with, for example, using a donor, or not having someone else to rely on. On a day to day basis, I don't focus on these issues because I think they actually don't matter. Every new parent has fears and challenges that are unique to them and their child. I suppose it's just interesting to me what is actually playing out in the back of my head and being revealed in my dreams.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

76dpo 13w2d - How to tell

I continue to mull over the idea of doing some sort of pregnancy announcement. My books are varied in when the first trimester ends- end of 12th or 13th week. Tomorrow is officially 13 weeks by fertilization date. My birthday is in a week, so I was debating putting something up then, as I'm expecting a bunch of the standard happy birthday messages on Facebook. I've been telling people in person, but there are a lot of people I know who live in other countries, so this would be an easy way to get the word out. Isn't that what social media is sort of for? I'd like to be able to tell people in person, but I guess it's the next best thing. I haven't come up with any sort of clever way to do it- probably just a picture from the last scan.

It's been a bit weird for me that two good friends of mine, of the same age, who both got pregnant around when I got pregnant have both lost their pregnancies. I was excited that we were all pregnant, and now they are not. I'm feeling as though I am past most of the danger points, although there is always a small risk. A work colleague lost a pregnancy at 20 weeks last year, and I know of someone else who found out their baby had died just a couple of weeks before birth. While I still worry on some level, I am starting to feel ever so cautiously optimistic that this is really happening and I'm going to have a baby. It's hard not to feel guilty that I am still pregnant when they aren't. I mean, not guilty like there's anything wrong, but that I know my pregnancy may hurt them or be hard to deal with which makes me sad.

In other entertaining news, I had to remind my mother that presents for the baby do not equate to birthday presents for me. She was very kind and offered me one of the baby items as a birthday present, but for my birthday- in a week. I suggested to her there were any number of things she could give to me, and that if she wanted to get things for the baby, that was awesome, but it wasn't exactly a present for me. Having talked to her last night, I think she may now look into getting me a pregnancy massage or something like that, which would be very cool. I also suggested a jewelry (for me) that symbolized impending motherhood. A meal voucher. You know, something FOR me? Anyway, it was funny and she took it all in good humor. I'm being usurped by the granddaughter already, and it's still a ways before she gets here!!

In better news, I weighed myself this morning and I seem to be back at a 'normal' weight and not the heavy weight I got last week. I'll check again the next couple of days because my scale can be wonky. However, I was concerned I'd put on too much weight; if the scale was right this morning, I've only put in 2 pounds since the start of the pregnancy as opposed to 7. Which would be much better.

Friday, August 5, 2016

72dpo 12w5d - Scan results

I had my scan yesterday morning and it was very exciting. Baby girl was moving ALL OVER this time. She was twisting and stretching and wriggling about. I saw her legs flex and kick, and her hand come up to her mouth. Given that she's the size of a plumb, this is pretty amazing. I was enthralled with looking at her. Unfortunately, I couldn't see the screen particularly well from where I was laying but I did get a couple of pictures. They also seemed to think that because my NIPT results were fine, they didn't need to do the Nuchal translucency testing. Which I suppose is probably true, although I would have preferred the double check. I had two radiologists in with me, a trainee and her supervisor. Because baby was all over the place, it did take some time to get the right measurements. I had to lift my but and wiggle, they tipped the table so I was inverted, all to try to get baby in a good position. It was sort of entertaining. I didn't care. It meant more time looking at her!

I don't have another scan now until week 20. I need to schedule my next midwife appointment for week 16. So there's a month here with not too much going on medically. Which is fine. I don't think it's sinking in really yet that there's a little baby growing inside of me. I don't know if it ever sinks in until you are holding your child. It's so weird.

I'm still considering doing a blanket announcement on Facebook. I'm not in a particular rush as there's obviously time to decide. I have started telling people as a matter of course now which is also weird. But sort of fun. Shit is getting real! (Which might be the tone of a Facebook post if I do end up making one!)

Baby girl at 12w1d, pausing for a brief moment!

Monday, August 1, 2016

68dpo 12w1d - Feeling good makes me feel bad

So the past two days I've felt completely fine. Of course what does this mean? It means I don't 'feel' pregnant. Which leads to me starting to worry that something has changed or is different or etc. etc. etc. I'm glad I have a scan on Thursday which should reassure me that everything is as it should be. There won't be another scan until week 20 I think, so I'm going to have to just find a way to believe that everything is fine even though I feel fine. Which frankly, sounds ridiculous.

I called my mom to tell her the results of the NIPT. She was very excited. It was a bit funny because she asked me if I've thought of a name yet. The thing is, I've thought of a baby girl name since I was 16 (and it hasn't changed) and since I was 24(ish) and my aunt died, I've had the middle name picked as well. So girl name has been set in my mind for a very long time. Which means at various points over time, I've discussed it with my mom. Because she basically guessed/knew the name that I've picked. I confirmed that's the name I'm planning but implored her not to share it with anyone. She asked why not. I said well,  when the baby comes, that's the name. Before that, people will have opinions. And frankly, I'm not interested in anyone's opinions. I think I got through to her and she'll keep it to herself. But I did say she could start telling people I'm pregnant because I feel I'm over that hurdle, first paragraph notwithstanding.

I've been recently attacked by some bastard bugs and have 3 very itchy spots, one on the back of my right hand, and one on each foot. I'm getting frustrated about my inability to take antihistamines and I may need to work out what I can actually take. I also suffer from a-topic dermatitis and my skin is breaking out and itchy in general. I broke down and used some very low strength topical cortisone last week. But anyway, these bites are particularly annoying. I woke up itching last night at 2am and 5am which is not what I needed at the start of running a workshop.

Next update I assume will be post-scan. I'm so much more relieved going into it though with the NIPT results in hand.

Friday, July 29, 2016

65dpo 11w5d - Results are in!

No aneuploids. And it's a girl!!!!!

Every test marker came back as not detected, so the lowest risk. I'm so relieved.

And I am so excited to be having a girl!! It was my slight preference, although obviously I wouldn't have really cared either way. So I guess I can be official now! I've been toying with whether or not I do some sort of announcement. They don't seem as common here in the UK as the States, but a lot of my friends, etc. are far away and really won't otherwise know unless through a very long grapevine. Anyway, I have time to think about it. I wonder if I can finally relax about this pregnancy just a little??

Aaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :)

65dpo 11w5d - And still waiting

Okay, okay. Today is really 9 days which was the earliest they said it would come. But it's getting to me more and more.... I had a nightmare about it last night. I really hope the results come by the end of today. Don't know if they work on Saturdays. Assume not Sunday. So if not today possibly next possible day is Monday? Ugh. I'm going to lose my shit if it comes back inconclusive and needing another blood draw.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

64dpo 11w4d - Still waiting

No NIPT results yesterday.  I think they said it was usually around 9 days.  Yesterday was 7. So I'm not surprised. Again it could be today, but again, due to time differences, I wouldn't expect anything until the afternoon/evening.

My midwife said that I need to start baby aspirin from week 12 to help prevent preeclampsia which officially is next Wednesday. So today I am going to try to remember to go to the drug store at lunch and pick some up. Next week I am running another workshop so I will be very busy. I'm not staying with the students though, I will be going home every evening so I can easily take my vitamins, etc.

I really hope I get the NIPT results before my 12 week scan which is next Thursday. I should, although they said it could take up to 2 weeks (but in their experience never had).  Even so, two weeks would be the day before the scan, so hopefully it will come through.

And hopefully it will be all 'no aneuploidy detected'.

Meanwhile, my gut continues to feel 'full'. Sometimes the fullness feels like I've eaten a big mean (when I've eaten nothing). Sometimes the fullness vaguely feels like I need to poop. No wonder pregnant women get hemorrhoids! While trying not to focus on waiting for results, it is fascinating to observe all these shifts in my body. Although it's still incredibly difficult to wrap my head around there being a little creature inside of me!!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

63dpo 11w3d - Still waiting

I figure today would be the absolute earliest I would get an email with the NIPT results and it won't be until later in the day because of the time difference to the States.  But really I'm not expecting it today. I'm starting to feel a bit anxious about the results. Because I did not do PGS testing, I have the standard chances of the fetus having chromosomal abnormalities. Because the age of the egg was 38 or 39 as opposed to my current age of 41, there are slightly better odds but they are still not great.

Apparently the risk of Down Syndrom is between 1/175 and 1/137.  The risk of any chromosomal abnormality is between 1/102 and 1/83. Now of course many of those random abnormalities cause
miscarriages or a lack of development.  I know that little squidge is developing at the right pace, so I think my odds are slightly better for the general chromosomal abnormalities, but perhaps not for Down Syndrome.  I'm really not sure. And while I wouldn't be confident of winning a draw with those odds, it's not so large that I feel confident I won't get the short straw.

At any rate, the fact is that the genetic makeup of the squidge is already established and all that is happening now is that I am waiting to find out what it is.  Worrying makes no difference. I'm just impatient.

My body continues to subtly change. Mostly now I feel constantly bloated or 'full'. I can tell that I am fuller above my belly button, towards my lower rib cage, or at least that there is pressure there. It's not obvious to anyone else other than me, and mostly I notice because of the pressure feeling. I think I still have a way to go before I properly show or anything like that.

I managed to start a conversation with the boyfriend last night which although inconclusive was progress. I know that he's really still not come to terms with what this pregnancy means for him, or how he thinks about it. I stressed that how it feels to me is that he is tolerating my pregnancy, and that tolerating it is not really going to fly in the longer term. He insisted that was not how he felt, but then it was also clear that he's still conflicted. I think he worries that he will become attached to my child, but that I could 'disappear' with the child at any time. Of course this could happen in general, and there are no guarantees in life. It's something he needs to mentally come to terms with. But at least we are talking about it, and there is still time.

In completely unrelated news, I still have a wicked bruise on my left arm from the blood drawn at my GP's office almost two weeks ago now. I've started taking some iron supplements because although they did not call me to say that I'm anemic, I cant' think of any other reason why the bruises are fading so slowly.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

57dpo 10w4d - Scan and NIPT

So the scan went well and everything looks normal! It looks like a proper little fetus now with an oddly shaped bulging head and little stumpy legs and arms. They checked the length and it looks like I'm on target for my fertilization due date which is 10w1d or due on February 15th. They also tested the heartbeat which came in at a strong 170 beats per minute. She was able to show me the placenta which is in the front which means I may feel less movement/kicking for a while. I also got to see the yolk sac which isn't completely gone yet. Basically, there was plenty of time to ogle the little being living in my uterus. I couldn't stop grinning. It was very reassuring, and then of course, fucking terrifying!!! But that is as it should be.
Being measured - just the right size
3d view- it looks like a fetus!!
She also managed to take my blood in one go after looking at my vein with the ultrasound machine to make sure she really had a good one.  She was extremely gentle and I barely felt the needle going on. It was slow to fill and eventually stopped giving blood however, luckily just when enough had been collected for the NIPT. They will send my blood off to the States to get tested, so I won't have the results for at least a week. I've opted in for everything to be tested which includes finding out the sex. I'm still nervous that this final hurdle will prove the one where things go wrong, but I'm feeling much better at the moment. I am really fucking pregnant. It's not just a fluke. Holy shit.

On the taxi ride to and from the clinic I was playing Pokemon Go (yes, I know). It was a novelty to be in a car and be able to grab and collect things. On the other hand, it made me really nauseous.  I'm still nauseous now, which seems odd. I wonder if it triggered some of the underlying morning sickness I've otherwise been avoiding.  Hopefully it will pass soon and go back to how it was.

So other than waiting for the NIPT results, my next scan is the official dating and Nuchal Fold scan the first week of August. Hopefully I get the NIPT results before that scan, because they are are more accurate than the Nuchal Fold screening and it would be useful to go into that scan with the test results. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

56dpo 10w3d - 25%

According to my retrieval/fertilization date, I am exactly 10 weeks today (despite my LMP tracking date). If a pregnancy is around 40 weeks, that means I'm a quarter done already. I know that pregnancy counts in trimesters, but 40 doesn't divide well into 3. And anyway, at this stage, counting days and weeks is more the thing. So 25% it is.

Tomorrow I have arranged an NIPT and a scan. I'm nervous about the scan- that it will show that things have gone wrong. I will be very relieved if it doesn't, but I'm nervous now just the same. Today is also the first day that I'm completely off the progesterone/Cyclogest. There was nothing notable about reducing the progesterone, so it should be fine to go off completely now. Yet another removal of something that made me feel pregnant though!

I will of course report back on tomorrow's scan. Whatever will be is already determined. So it's just for me to find out what it is. I suppose the irony will be if the scan is normal but the NIPT is not. But of course I won't have those results for another week again. So, potentially straight from one waiting period to the next.

Monday, July 18, 2016

54dpo 10w1d - Worrying

It's very easy for me to generally forget that I'm pregnant. I don't have any major symptoms other than tiredness. My breasts seem to have settled a bit after growing some and being sensitive. I still get very fleeting moments of feeling 'off' but nothing as much as nausea or throwing up.

Yesterday I convinced myself that maybe I wasn't pregnant anymore or had miscarried (or had a 'missed miscarriage since I haven't had any cramps or bleeding at all). So I peed on a stick which reassuringly came up straight away pregnant. But then I wondered if it was lighter than the last time I did the test. I think this is somewhat brought on my by wanting to schedule my NIPT this Friday. I can't quite find the one I want without a scan, so I get a scan thrown in (or rather, I pay for it). So I started to wonder and worry about what the scan might show.

This all ended up meaning that in general I felt grumpy yesterday. I may have been snappy with the boyfriend, which also continues to bother me because we've still not talked about the baby situation. I'm still annoyed that I need to bring it up and that he doesn't talk to me. I will, at some point, but maybe not when I'm feeling grumpy about it.

Actually, maybe I just feel irritable in general. It's hard to think of things that are making me happy right now. Work is stressful. People annoy me. Not all people, but a lot of them. I'm sure that the stress at work is not helping, and the stress of worrying and trying not to worry is not helping. I keep expecting the bad news to hit, and that's just not a useful mindset.

The only moderately positive thing on the pregnancy front is that I reduced my progesterone/Cyclogest to one a day and I only have one more day before it's gone. I was a bit worried about reducing to one a day, especially when so many women online seem to report staying on until week 12 and here I was reducing at week 9 to stop at week 10. But so far, no difference in my body or discharge or anything, so I assume it's all fine? Yay to fewer fingers in bums!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

48 dpo 9w2d - First midwife appointment

I've had my first midwife appointment which was fine.  It took some time, as there seemed to be a lot of information to enter into the system.  I would say the meeting was mostly procedural.  There wasn't necessarily any new information from this meeting. She went over with me what vitamins I should be taking, what I should and shouldn't be eating, that I should be exercising but not adding new hardcore routines. I brought along a printout of the donor profile so I could answer any questions about 'the other side' which was useful. We touched briefly on where I might want to give birth, and who might be in the room with me. I don't know yet enough about my pregnancy to make any decisions about where to give birth, although I know I really don't want to do it at home. I think I will be too high risk for that anyway, but it otherwise it really doesn't interest me. The birth center is literally attached to the delivery hospital (same building) so you can always start off in the birth center and be quickly transferred if needed, which seems reasonable. But I'll find out more about how it works later in the pregnancy. We also discussed my relationship with the boyfriend and she agreed that a doula is probably a good idea for me, even if the boyfriend decides he wants to be involved. So that was good to talk about albeit briefly.

Part of the meeting was clearly to assess risk factors.  Because of my age (almost 42) and my weight (BMI 34.5) and my history of an abdominal surgery (ovary removal) this puts me at various risks for various things. So one of the things she set me up with was a meeting with an obstetrician.  I guess in the UK you don't meet with an obstetrician regularly unless you are high risk. So I'll go to be assessed and either they'll continue to want to see me or they'll release me back to my midwife team/GP. I may also have an extra scan due to my age. I'm also at a higher risk for pre-eclampsia so I'll need to start taking a daily baby aspirin at 12 weeks.

But basically that was all fine.  The next steps are that I scheduled a blood test for Thursday and I need to also provide a urine sample (in the smallest urine pot known to man I might add). I am now expecting 3 letters: a welcome from the midwife detailing our discussion and baby aspirin stuff; an appointment letter for my 12 week scan at the hospital which includes a permission form for the Nuchal screening; and, an appointment letter for a meeting with the obstetrician.  I've also confirmed that they don't do NIPT yet, so I'm going to schedule that next week. The midwife told me about another Cambridge based private clinic that offers it, but it's cheaper at the one I found already, so I think I'll stick to that. I think I'll also go for the Serenity Plus test over the Harmony. I don't think it makes very much difference at all, except I think I'll get the Serenity results quicker.

Oh, and I also asked about the Cyclogest/progesterone because I'm down to just a few days left. The midwife said I needed to call the IVF clinic to ask how long I should be on it, so I called them when I got back and had a very nice chat with one of the nurses who was there throughout my procedures. She said they normally would end around 7 weeks, and they're happy for it to stop at 9 weeks. She said it's up to me if I stop cold turkey or reduce then taper but it shouldn't make any difference at this point. So I think I will do a full dose tomorrow which is officially 9 weeks if you follow the retrieval/fertilization date. Then I will drop to one a day until I run out and I might every other day the last one or two. So that's one bit of good news that I don't have to be sticking things up my bottom twice a day very soon!

In other news, another woman on the forum in my group has miscarried which is just awful. I was hoping that we would not be the standard statistic as a group and yet we have reached it. And there could still yet be more. It's so heartbreaking. I try to stick to my mantra but am well aware there are still some big hurdles to get past. The NIPT and the 12 week scan being the big ones. I know that there is nothing I can do. What is going to happen is going to happen. The not knowing can be just so hard though.

Monday, July 11, 2016

47dpo 9w1d - Reflections

First a quick update.  I finally heard from my friend after 4 weeks of nothing.  I was very relieved to hear from her, and she apologized, which was good.  I think we're okay now.  It was an unpleasant blip but at least it's sorted.

First midwife appointment is tomorrow, so I'm sure I'll have something to record about how that goes. I'm very interested in finding out about the NIPT availability.  And also anything else having to do with my new status!

I read a couple of news pieces recently about single mothers; one is here and the other is here.

Obviously there are many, many other articles about single motherhood, these are just the two I read over the weekend.  What I found particularly interesting, and shocking were some of the comments on both pieces.  While I have immersed myself in the decision to become a single mother, I am continually surprised that other people would voice such ignorant and insulting responses to the concept. My favorite ignorant ranting is about the 'unnatural' method through which a single woman becomes a mother.  I mean, of course, for starters, many women use a known donor and techniques that are pretty much 'natural'.  But more insultingly, I wonder if these commentators are aware of how many married couples also must turn to reproductive technologies to have a child, which may include the use of a donor (either egg or sperm).  I'm sure they wouldn't be quite so quick to gnash their teeth if it was a married couple pursing IVF, but as soon as it's a single woman, all bets are off the table. This goes hand in hand with the ever popular 'why don't you just adopt?' line of commentary which again one must wonder if this comment is said to every married couple they know.  I mean if there are so many children so desperate for homes out there (and so easy to adopt?!) then surely the best place for them in  your misguided view of the world would be in a home with a mother and father. So really, no couple should reproduce if they could adopt, or are you being hypocritical.....

Then there are the comments about these women 'sponging off the state and tax dollars' which I find entertaining because it doesn't say anywhere that the single mothers are needing social welfare.  But so what if they were?  Do only married couples qualify for social welfare? If you are married and have a child, but you can't afford it, it's okay for you to have social welfare but not a single mother? Certainly in my case I am preparing financially and have been preparing financially for the burden of having a child, and it's not something I've undertaken lightly.  Which is of course very different to the people on TV on '16 and pregnant' and other such people who get pregnant with no clear means to support a child.  But if I end up in trouble and I need social benefit, should I not be deserving of it because I chose to have a child?  Troubling.

And finally the often trod out statistics about the harm to a child from a single parent household.  Of course no one wishes to harm their child, and you could turn to Philip Larkin for advice here.  But many of those statistics have to do with situations which are very different from a choice mother's situation.  I've also seen more nuanced statistics that suggest that the issues have far more to do with poverty level and age of parent than 'single parenthood' as a block grouping.  But again, so what? Are children not harmed by coupled families? Of course they are.  Your odds may be somewhat statistically higher, but there is risk to everything in life. Parents do the best they can with what they have, hopefully.  But all people can run into trouble and things can go wrong, so either no one should have children, or get off your high horse.

Other comments of irritation were people insisting that a sperm donor is a father which I suppose is a matter of semantics and pedantry and if you wanted to I suppose you could comfortably say that a donor is a biological father in the same way that a birth mother is not considered the 'mother' of a child.  To parent a child and to give your genetic material to the making of a child are I think, everyone an agree, two very different things. I believe it is good to provide distinctions for children and set their expectations. So when I tell my future child they have a donor and not a daddy, it will be clear on what I see the difference is between a genetic scientific fact and a parent who cares for you and loves you. If I did anything otherwise it would set a false expectation. Of course a child has a genetic father, but if you can't see how throwing words around like that is confusing to a child, then you are probably the problem actually.

At any rate, I'm happy that I am generally supported and not assaulted by my network of friends and family. Although I equally am aware that some may hold contrary opinions that they express outside of my hearing. I'm okay with that. I'm sure certain friends of mine have doubts or concerns, they may think I'm not up to it, that it's going to be too hard, that I'm crazy for taking this on, etc. But my friends support me to my face, and if they have them, express their concerns elsewhere. If I do have such friends, then hopefully I will prove them wrong, and hopefully they also hope I will prove them wrong.

Life isn't easy, full stop. But it is what you make of it. So make it the best you can for yourself and those within it. What else can you do?