18-22 weeks and 20 week scan

The past 4 weeks have flown by! Lou is feeling great, and we are both very busy at work and starting to get ready for our little buddy to arrive!

We had our 20 week scan on 7th June. It was just a quick visit for the ultrasound only, as our 20 week appointment is with the doctor. I think I mentioned it in the last post, but because we did IVF we are “high-risk” and therefore our care is doctor-led rather than midwife-led. The doctors only work Tuesday so we had to wait until then to be seen.

The scan went very well. Our technician was very friendly and communicative. He managed to make all the measurements without any problem and all were right on target. The only thing that took a while was visualising the fingers of the right hand. But after Lou did a bit of a wiggle, and he jiggled her belly a bit, baby turned slightly and stretched out their hand. It was incredible to see our baby, which only a few weeks ago was the size of a poppy seed, and then a lentil which we compared to a mole on Lou’s belly, and now looks like an actual baby.

20 week scan

We had agreed from the very start of the pregnancy that we would find out the sex. Back in the day when having a baby was discussed theoretically, we had agreed that we would like a surprise. But that all changed when we got pregnant, and the anticipation was too much for either of us. We wanted to focus our thoughts about a name, buy some gender-specific clothes, decorate the nursery. I mean, it was too stressful NOT to know and we have the technology so why not! Besides all that, I knew it was a girl. I just knew it in my heart, even though we joked that I am not psychic so if it was a boy, we had better find out now than on the day so I could get over the shock.

As it turns out, I was right all along ūüôā


We are 99.9% sure, or at least the technician is sure. We had a good view of the crotch region, and he could tell straight away. I learned that they don’t just look for a dangly bit or no dangly bit. There are actually three white lines that show up in the ultrasound if it is a girl. When he pointed them out, they were bright and clear.

We are both very excited, and I am not surprised at all. I can carry on with my original thinking and planning. Lou was a little surprised but she could not be more pleased. I think as 2 first time mummies, it will easier for us to start with all the bits that we are already familiar with! This suspicion was confirmed when Lou was FaceTiming with our 3 year old nephew, and out of nowhere our he dropped his trousers and stood up and started tugging and playing with his willy. He thought it was hilarious!

After the scan, we decided to “go public” – which means announcing it on facebook! We put up a little collage of Lou’s belly, me holding the scan photo, and a selfie of us both. All taken at the cafe right after the scan. We got so much congratulatiosn and words of support, it was really quite moving. I think the photo got 152 likes – which is about a third of my friends. Amazing and so good to know Baby Girl is already so loved and supported.

We have been so crap at taking belly shots, but managed one at 21 weeks.

21 weeks

Lou still has quite a “neat” bump, but this was taken 3 weeks ago now and already she is looking significantly bigger.

In life, I have been in one of my busiest ever periods at work. The project I am doing for my PhD is getting ready to launch in September so I have been running around like a headless chicken making sure everything is ready for that, including doing 2-3 site visits around the UK each week, developing the questionnaire, setting up the questionnaire online, getting local R&D approval from all 24 sites, making promo materials, recruiting for and arranging focus groups and interviews… It has been mental. But the idea is that I will have done all the hard work by the time baby comes, and it will just be matter of management and trouble-shooting.

Lou has had good news from her job as well. She had to tell them straight away when she became pregnant, and within a few weeks she was unceremoniously internally transferred from her currently roll that she enjoys and challenges her, to a data pushing job in a room without windows. Because she was pregnant. She made all the right noises, but unfortunately her profession is still very much a man’s world. It took her old boss to pull a few strings to get her back on her old team, around the 20 week scan time. So she is busy and enjoying her job. She is feeling great, very energetic. Hungry more often than not but trying to eat frequent snacks around her meals to keep the blood sugar up.

We are now able to feel baby kicking. Lou could feel flutters from week 15, which have just gotten stronger and now most evenings I can feel Baby Girl kicking or punching away. We borrowed a Doppler from a friend, and every week or so we have checked in to make sure she’s still there – as if Lou needed a reminder.

That’s all for now! Viability Day (or V-day) is in 2 days time. Yet another milestone we will be relieved to reach safely. ¬†x

Posted in babies, belly, IVF, pregnancy, pregnant, scan, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Historic Day!

In one fell swoop – Down goes DOMA! My marriage and my future children’s United States citizenship through our marriage will forever more be recognised at the federal level. I can sponsor Nicola to live in America, or our children can live there one day.

And all of a sudden, the doors of opportunity Рhopelessly closed before Р swung

Posted in babies, DOMA, dual citizenship, LGBT, marriage equality, pregnancy, same sex marraige, wedding, wife | 1 Comment

Top 10 Crappy Things They Don’t Tell You About IVF

So you are about to start IVF….. CONGRATULATIONS! IVF uses the most up-to-date technology to get you pregnant in a jiffy. But there are a few things you might want to know before you start.

In no particular order:

  1. Are you tired of sleeping through the night? Do you wish you could wake up every night with soaking pajamas? Is your partner bored of being married to a rational individual? Do you want headaches tinged with tinnitus, or hot flushes that make your face red and blotchy? Well, thanks to your downreg drugs, you can! Just a once daily injection can bring on early menopause and make you feel 55 — years ahead of schedule! Side effects may occur.¬†
  2. Hysterosalpingo (HSG) -contrast sonography. An ultrasound scan where they inject dye into your fallopian tubes to check they are not blocked. Eye wateringly painful, and totally unexpected. There’s a reason they advise you to take ibuprofen before you this procedure. DO IT.
  3. Also unexpectedly painful Рthe egg transfer. Not the transfer itself, which is done with a syringe with a thin tube attached to the end. But the jacking open of your lady bits with one of these sadistic tools? THAT is painful. It looks like something invented by a man, no?
    Sterile Plastic Disposable Vaginal Speculum - Medium x1
    Now to be fair, some women don’t experience any discomfort during this procedure, or they compare it to a smear test. But I am here to testify – and give fair warning! – that this may hurt a bit. Lou sobbed throughout the entire procedure, which took a full 5 minutes. I don’t know whether it was the speculum positioned badly, or if it was cranked open wider than normal. Either way, it required chocolate and a nap afterwards.
  4. If you are needlephobic – IVF will either cure you…. or break you. Counting the downregs, stims, trigger shots, blood samples, and even the anesthetic for egg retrieval, I estimate¬†you get stabbed about 70 times per cycle (on the long protocol). To add insult to injury, most of the those you have to stab yourself. We filled 2 sharps bins with needles and syringes, and almost ran out of belly space to inject onto. Also, never in your life will you feel more like a drug addict. I hope.
  5. By the end of stims, each follicle is 2cm in diameter. About the size of a green grape. Assuming the average woman has 8-10 follicles on each ovary, that equates to two ¬†bunches of grapes hanging out in your ovaries. God help you if you have poly-cystic ovaries, and will grow as many as 30 on each ovary. You may have heard it is painful, and it can be, but the worst part is how you can actually FEEL your ovaries, heavy and stretched to the max. Don’t even THINK about wearing heels, exercising (especially crunches – OW!), or doing anything that requires you to be on your feet for more than about an hour. A hot water bottle is worth its weight in gold, plus it encourages growth. And as strange as it seems, all you will want is for them to get BIGGER! Which leads me onto the next point…
  6. Waiting and obsessing. Once you get on the IVF rollercoaster, it starts to feel more like one of those kiddie trains they have at the zoo that goes about 2 miles an hour and stops at every station. Time magically slows down, and your entire perspective on life flies out the window. You used to be a laid back, casual person who didn’t care for plans or looking into the future, but now you have developed a desperate preoccupation with your next appointment, next injection, next prescription, pregnancy test, next scan, next _______ (fill in the blank). Whatever the next thing there is to do with the IVF, that’s the next defining moment in your life. I can hardly remember most of these crucial moments, but I certainly remember that my work (which I loved) became at best a distraction, and at worst irrelevant. Exercise can provide a good focus, and so can meditation, holidays, and socialising with friends. Try to keep yourself busy, and remember:
  7. If you’re journey into fertility treatment takes you straight to IVF (as opposed to via IUI, boosted ovulation, or other) as ours did, you may at first feel overwhelmed by the lingo. From your first visit, the doctors and nurses sound like they are speaking another language. And don’t think that internet will help! Blogs and fertility message boards are even worse with the lingo, and you will just come away all like:

    It is ANNOYING. But then again, you feel you should be an informed IVF consumer, or an “expert patient,” and of course, if you love to Google like me, you won’t understand half of what is written on t’internet about IVF without knowing some of it. So you resign to learn this ridiculous language. There are two main types of acronyms: the medical acronyms, such as ICSI (intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection), AMH (anti-mullerian hormone), ET (egg transfer – not the alien), and the message board acronyms, such as BFP/BFN (big fat positive/negative), POAS (pee on a stick), TTC (trying to concieve) and 2WW (two week wait). ¬†I wish I could signpost you to the ultimate lingo guide, but I never found one. Eventually you just work it out, and then the truly most annoying thing happens: You begin to use it yourself. SMH.
  8. So now you’re pregnant? Most excellent news! But you’re still on the IVF rollercoaster for now… because guess what? Remember how you took those downregs¬†to shut down your cycle and bring you early menopause (see #1), and then you took¬†stims, the¬†hormones that made you produce lots of eggs (see #5)? And then you had the eggs removed from your ovaries then put back all fertilised (see #3)? In doing this, the doctors created an artificial cycle and played all sorts of trickery on your body. At the end of your IVF cycle, your body’s is going along, happily making eggs, then abruptly the hormones stop and suddenly all the eggs go missing, and just as suddenly, they come back and one or two happen to be replicating at an alarming rate. Your body is not quite sure what’s happening, while it’s flapping about trying to figure out what hormones to produce and how much, ¬†your fragile little embryo needing to be nurtured by your uterus, and your uterus need progesterone to do this. So you take progesterone supplements, ¬†until week 15 of pregnancy, when your body has created the placenta. The progesterone Lou took were pessaries, like these, that dissolve inside your body.

    Two of these bad boys are inserted into the front or back passage (your choice, we recommend front!), twice a day. For 13 weeks. That’s 364 reaches into the nether region. And unless you want leakage, you need remain prone for 20-30 minutes after insertion. It’s OK at night, but in the morning it means waking up early to put in your pessaries. It isn’t painful or irritating, but it is tedious. And it does give you some early pregnancy symptoms, such as painful breasts and bloating, which during the 2WW can be a total mindfuck. I recommend keeping wet wipes beside¬†the bed, and carrying some panty liners in your bag.
  9. Around week 7, you will go for an ultrasound scan. And if you have a little scare, you will get a couple extra scans. All scans before 12 weeks are done transvaginally (dildo cam) as baby is still very small. The dildo cam is used throughout IVF, and after the first time it’s really no big deal. Number 9 on my actually list relates to what can show up in the scans. Flatulence. Basically the ultrasound can see if you need to toot. This can be fairly embarrassing if, when the ultrasound tech is prodding you with the dildo cam, she tells you she is struggling to find the baby because there is too much gas in the intestines, and asks what in the world you ate last night! This happened to us three times. So let this be a word of warning: avoid beans, lentils, broccoli, cauliflower, or Quorn before a scan. Vegetarians beware.
  10. So you make it to 12 weeks, discharged from the IVF clinic and into the general antenatal clinic. Everything is going perfectly well, so it is surprising to be told that due to the IVF the pregnancy is “high-risk.”¬†I do think this depends on local hospital policy. But at our hospital, we were told that despite Lou being young and healthy, and the baby growing beautifully, we need to be monitored more closely, and care would be doctor-led rather than midwife-led. We might get an extra scan (yay!) but, due to an increased risk of stillbirth, they will induce labour between 39-40 weeks if it does not happen spontaneously (boo!). Therefore, we are very unlikely to give birth in the birth centre or use a birthing pool as we had hoped. It seems a little unfair that after so much medical intervention to get where we are now, that we may have yet MORE medical intervention 9 months down the line. I thought we were a “normal” pregnancy now. But instead we are facing a pretty high chance of artificial induction and possibly C-section. We are hoping the obstetrician will use his judgement as the pregnancy progresses, to assess our individual risk. And so the IVF journey continues…

I know fertility treatment can be a very difficult thing, but it’s healthy to keep perspective and see the funny side of things, so read this post with all the humour and light-heartedness that I intended, and I hope you learned (or can relate to) something on the way.

And it goes without saying, that we would do it ALL again in a heartbeat – and we probably will!

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14-18 weeks

It’s been a while since my last post, which updated to 12 weeks. A lot has happened, but nothing big enough to merit it’s own post. So…. bullet points!

  • Lou continued to have morning sickness until 15 weeks, which seemed unfair at the time because everyone tells you that you feel better in the 2nd trimester. The 2nd trimester starts somewhere between week 12 and 14, depending who you ask. So after 12 weeks, Lou would wake up each morning, hoping to feel wonderful and radiant. It was pretty demoralising for her then to feel a wave of nausea, no appetite, no energy. The morning sickness was limited to bad nausea, but at 13 weeks, after a particularly bad evening she was sick for the very first time in this pregnancy. She would have a couple good days, followed by a couple bad days where the MS would be worse than ever. It was a pretty low point, and I am only emphasizing it because 1. I want to paint a bleak picture and 2. the MS left the building just after 15 weeks and we are already starting to forget how crap it was!
  • That’s not to say Lou felt great ever since, but the nausea went away and her energy returned. It was just bad luck that in week 16 she got food poisoning! One morning, she bought a ready-made chicken sandwich from Sainsbury’s on her way into work. She tossed it in a drawer at her desk, and finally ate it about 6pm. She came home, and we both ate a chicken curry and went to bed. After 10 minutes, Lou shot up like a bolt in bed and RAN to the bathroom. I won’t recount the rest in detail, but suffice it to say, an hour later the house was finally silent and Lou was back in bed shivering and horrified. Lou took 2 days off work to recover and rehydrate. It goes to show, even though Lou was being really careful with what she ate and avoided all the foods that are banned in pregnancy, a few bites of festering processed chicken put paid to all her best intentions.
  • But fear not, the baby seems to be unphased¬†by all this, and we feel this is just a character¬†building¬†experience for him/her. We had our 16 week appointment, and got to hear the heartbeat on the Doppler machine. We had a different midwife this time, who had a weak bedside manner but she was more than happy to do the Doppler when we asked at the end of the appointment since Lou was a bit worried after the chicken incident. Since 16 weeks Lou can feel the baby moving! Initially it felt like bubbles or maybe gas, and was so faint she almost thought she was imagining it. But it now happens more regularly, especially when she is driving. Of late, she can feel proper kicks, and sometimes when the baby moves a lot it feels like a tummy flip when you drive over a dip.
  • So Lou is feeling good right? Yes! Finally. But not before she came down with a head cold followed by a suspected tummy bug (more vomiting!) in week 17! She was off work most of the week again. I am aware by now she sounds like a hypochondriac, or a fragile sickie, but I assure you she is neither. She is made from sturdy Scottish stuff, and complaining and taking medicine/seeing medical advice is against her nature. She also hates sitting around doing nothing, so she was again brought quite low by so much illness. I think there’s a feeling that if you aren’t blissfully coasting through your first pregnancy, then you are doing it wrong. Especially in the 2nd trimester when everyone ¬†says you should be “glowing.” But I know lots of women who are at different stages of pregnancy right now and can tell you – it is totally true that everyone has a different experience and different symptoms (more on those next!). I do wish Lou had an easier time, but we both realise it could be much worse and despite everything the baby seems to be fine and nothing truly scary has happened. Lou is doing a great job cooking us up this new little person!
  • As for pregnancy symptoms, Lou has a few strange ones to file. She has had two nosebleeds, both lasting about 20 minutes. The first one followed a sneeze, and the second started spontaneously in the middle of the night. She has a few new skin tags in her underarm. She had a couple skin tags in the past (which she cut off with nail clippers!!!!!). And the hairs under her belly button have gotten darker.
  • Now into week 18, and Lou is finally feeling great. We had a friends and her 2 kids visiting this past weekend for the bank holiday, and spent Sunday at the London zoo. It was a glorious spring day, and Lou was positively glowing. Her bump is finally starting to show through her t-shirt, which is lovely. It’s sitting low, and she hasn’t seemed to gain weight anywhere else so is still in her old clothes and using the hair tie trick. I am looking for Bump Bands to keep her in her clothes for as long as possible!
At the zoo at 18 weeks

At the zoo at 18 weeks

Lou is off camping this week in the Peak District with a load of teenagers. She has limited mobile reception, but managed to text me to say she was having lots of fun and feeling great, but her and another woman have booked into a B&B for the next 2 nights since last night was very cold. Pulling the pregnancy card with an excellent result!

Our 20 week appointment is coming up 7th June, the day before Lou’s birthday. We can’t wait to find out the sex! We are having our plasterers in to start on the nursery end of June. And I am¬†starting to plan a 2nd trimester holiday somewhere beachy!

Time is going by quickly now!

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12 week scan

(written 18th April…. sorry for the massive delay! It continues to be uber busy, well slightly less so today hence my finally getting round to adding the photo to this post which is why it was saved in drafts for so long… actual update coming soon…)

Busy busy busy round here.

It is the week before the London Marathon, so I am furiously trying to raise ¬£500 by Sunday. I am following my training plan to the letter, doing every training run to the exact distance. I am at an annual professional conference in Manchester for 3 days, doing my best to mingle and¬†schmooze¬†the people I hope will work with me on my PhD project. I am trying to stay on top of my work, coordinating various meetings and the requests of 20 different clinics’ Research & Development departments. The upside is that my PhD is finally moving, and in 4 days will be the culmination of 4 months of grueling training and preparation.

The downside is that I have practically abandoned my pregnant wife this week. She is still struggling on/off with tiredness, nausea, and headaches. The house is a shit tip, despite my best efforts. The necessities are done Рcooking, dishes, feeding & medicating the dog, and taking out the rubbish & recycling. But the dirty clothes piles have now exceeded our two laundry bins and FOUR laundry baskets. The carpet needs a hoover, floor needs a mop, and house needs a good blitzing after the long winter. Very grateful that my mother in law is visiting this week!

But the real reason for this post is to commemorate the 12 week scan. A milestone as all expectant parents will know well. Making it to 12 weeks means you can breathe just a bit easier. You have permission to be excited about your new arrival – without adding all the customary caveats like “knock on wood” or “all being well” or “fingers crossed”. It is the deadline most people – quite sensibly – wait for before telling people. We waited to 12 weeks to tell most people, with a few exceptions – we leaked the news to a handful of family and friends at ¬†5-6 weeks, and we happened to make a trip to Lou’s hometown at 11 weeks so told some family and home friends then. But I will write another post about telling people,¬†because¬†really all you want to see is some blurry black and white pictures! So for your viewing pleasure – our 12 week scan photos!

12 week scan

12 week scan

I rotated the picture because from this angle the baby disappears like one of those Magic Eye pictures and I literally see nothing but dots and blotchs:

scan 12 a

Perspective really is everything.

The appointment itself was a long and arduous exercise in accepting that we are no longer unique and treasured patients of a small, private clinic. Now we have joined the conveyor belt of women who have come for antenatal care from a central London NHS hospital,¬†which¬†is clearly struggling to cope with demand from the broody young Londoners who wish to crowd this already crowded city. Our appointment took 4 hours in total, of which waiting comprised 3 hours – we waited for an hour for our scheduled 9:30 appointment (how can you be 1 hour behind at 9:30am?). When we saw the lovely midwife, we answered lots of questions for about 20 minutes, and afterwards she sent upstairs to have the ultrasound. We got to see our baby then! It had doubled in size since the last scan, and was about 9cm long. But baby was in a funny position and the ultrasound tech couldn’t get the neck measurements for Down’s syndrome. So she sent Lou away to fill her bladder for 45 minutes. After a full water bottle and some early lunch, we came back and baby had moved enough to do the measurements. She took a few quick pics and sent us back down to antenatal clinic. We waited for another 20 minutes, and the midwife saw us briefly – then sent us to get bloods done. Unfortunately, the antenatal blood clinic had closed 10 minutes before, so we joined the queue at the hospital blood clinic. We took ticket number 69 (oooh!) when they were on number 29. Another hour of waiting.

Bloods ticket

At this point really wished I had brought a book as there was no internet reception in the hospital. Lou dozed off in the chair beside me (too much excitement I guess). I settled for reading through pregnancy leaflets. Finally, when we got to the front of the queue my needlephobic Lou panicked and hugged her cardigan around her face while the nurse ignored her and took her blood like a boss in about 20 seconds flat.

Next appointment is at 16 weeks. No scan or bloods so hope things run a bit more smoothly then…

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Belly Monday! 4 weeks vs 11 weeks

4 weeks // 11 weeks

4 weeks // 11 weeks

Still not much happening yet, but I do see a tiny little pointy bump starting!

12 week scan on Friday. Can’t wait!

Posted in belly, hello, pregnancy, pregnant | 3 Comments

I’m going to be a Dad! & other bits

Random stuff this post, so I’ll bullet point:

  • Since the scan last week we told: three of my work colleagues who were super surprised and lost their various bets as to who was next to be pregnant in the team (At the start of last year, we were 7 professional women in early 30s who were married or in long-term relationships with no children. Now two are now in late pregnancy, and I (by proxy) count as number 3. It is only a matter of time before the rest fell…)
  • One colleague slapped my face several times with excitement when she found out.
  • I also told a fellow PhD student who is 17 weeks pregnant herself. Her first statement was “Oh my god, you’re going to be a… Dad!?” ¬†Errr… not quite!
  • We spent Easter at the seaside. We stayed with our friend, and told her Mum & also her 6 year old daughter. Her Mum cried happy tears for us, and her daughter said “I can’t wait to tell my friend Eleanor!” We hope that Eleanor is also excited.
  • I did an easy 10 mile run along the coast and felt¬†rejuvenated¬†and happy afterwards. The sun was out, and despite the chilly temps it is finally starting to feel like Spring. It’s amazing how a good run can clear out the cobwebs…
  • After a really good weekend, marked only by low energy and the odd twinge, Lou has spent today – the last day of holiday – hugging the plastic bowl we have kept beside the bed, but so far haven’t used. Just when we think the morning sickness is gone, back it comes with a¬†vengeance! The worst so far. So much for her plans to cycle to the pool to go for a gentle swim. Sad face.
  • As for me, I am back at work and my Aunt Flo has FINALLY arrived, an alarming 48 days since my last. The age-old question in my household has been answered – Lou has the uterus of steel. Mine is too feeble and weak to withstand her crazy ass pregnancy hormones.


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