Being a working mum

So it was about this time, one year ago, when I went back to work after maternity leave. When I was pregnant I had planned on returning to work full time after I had had the baby, taking around 6 months off. As soon as J was born, I knew that my plans would have to change! During my maternity leave, I spoke to Kirsty about my reluctance to return to work full time. Although I work as a teacher, and therefore enjoy long holidays throughout the year, I felt that working 5 days a week was going to be too much for me. At that time, the school I worked at was a long way from home. My daily commute was around an hour each way. So Kirsty and I looked at the financial side of things and agreed that I could drop down to 4 days a week. I know 1 day off per week doesn’t seem like much but it made a difference to me and it was all we could afford financially, seeing as I am the main breadwinner.Luckily for me, my head teacher at the time was supportive and happy for me to drop down to part time work. With me having to go into hospital early, my maternity leave started around a month earlier than we had anticipated, which had implications for the amount of time I had off after J was born. This meant that I went back to work sooner than I had really wanted to…as the money had run out! I felt a lot of guilt about being off for 9 months when Kirsty only got 3 weeks off when J was born. I felt guilty about not bringing money in and relying on Kirsty’s wage for everything. On top of that, we were planning our wedding which isn’t cheap so I felt a lot of pressure to go back. I must add that at no point did Kirsty ever make me feel guilty. She was, and always has been, very supportive of the decisions I made with regards to returning to work. 

So the day came when it was time for me to return to work. I planned it so that I worked 2 days then had 10 days off for the October holiday. This was great as it eased me back in gently. That being said, the first day was VERY hard. Kirsty had been able to take some time off so she stayed at home with J during those first 2 days. Being back at work was nice as I had really missed my colleagues and the children I taught but being away from J was harder than I thought it would be. I cried for the entire commute! 

  
However, once I went back after the October holiday, we all got into a bit of a routine. We are so lucky that my parents live nearby and they are willing to look after J 2 days a week. They adore him and he just loves being with him. The other 2 days, J goes to a childminder. It took us a long time to find the right person to look after our boy, it is a really tough decision to make. However, within minutes of meeting our childminder, I knew she was the right person. J is like an extended member of her family. He is so loved when he goes round there and I know the standard of care he receives in second to none. So Mon-Thurs we would get up ridiculously early and begin the morning rush to get everyone ready and out of the door on time. Then I would battle my way through traffic at the end of the day to get home to J, get dinner made, feed everyone, get J bathed and into bed then pack the bags and lunches for the next day before collapsing into bed myself.

After around a month of being back at work, I was struggling. I was having to leave very early in the morning to avoid bad traffic and I was struggling to get home early enough to feel like I was getting good, quality time with J each day. My teaching was suffering as I was so unhappy and Kirsty kept commenting on how stressed and down I seemed. It was then that I made the decision to leave my job and find somewhere closer to home. I loved my job but I had to put my family first. As fate would have it, a job vacancy came up at a lovely school that I had previously worked at and it was around 10 minutes from home – perfect! My boss was less than impressed when I told her that I was applying for another job and this really upset me but I had to keep telling myself that I had to put my family first. I went for the interview and got offered the job, I was absolutely delighted! So I left the job I loved and moved to a job closer to home. Waving goodbye to my daily commute was amazing! Luckily, my new boss was happy for me to continue working 4 days and she is very understanding when it comes to home life, she knows that my family comes before my job.

So here we are, in our new normal. I have to say, I think I have a pretty good work-life balance. Don’t get me wrong, I would LOVE to be able to work less or even leave my job completely but it isn’t a financially viable option for us. I don’t work long hours, I am home with J by 4pm each day, I have a Friday off and then we get to have family time with Kirsty being off each weekend. On top of that, I am lucky to enjoy long holidays throughout the year. I must say that the story is not the same for all teachers. I work in a very specialist area and for that reason I have a very small number of children in my class. I work through my lunch so I can leave early and take work home to do in the evenings if I have to. I have friends who are mainstream teachers who are really struggling and it makes me realise how lucky I am to be in this situation. I also have my maternity leave to look forward to next year so that is making me feel even more amazing about things. This time round I won’t guilt trip myself into going back to work earlier than I would like to, I will be taking as much time as I need (and can afford!)

So, to anyone who is facing the prospect of returning to work after maternity leave, please know that, most of the time, the thought of going back is actually worse than actually doing it! 

16 weeks pregnant

 So I think it is definitely time for a wee update! Sorry it has been so long. Being pregnant + parenting a toddler + working part-time means I seem to have very little time for blogging. I do like to stay quite active on social media, especially Instagram so you will always see me over there!

I am now 16+1 weeks pregnant. The last time I updated the blog I was still in the early stages of pregnancy. Since then, we went for a scan at our clinic and confirmed that I had one baby on board (phew!). Waiting for that first scan was excruciating. The worry and anxiety that something could go wrong was almost all consuming. Thankfully, we had a very busy toddler to keep our minds off of all things pregnancy related! At our scan, our sonographer noticed that baby was measuring about 5 days smaller than expected. That worried us slightly but we were told that it was normal and not to get anxious about it. Although we were reassured to see baby and to see a nice healthy heartbeat, we were still a bit worried about the fact that baby was measuring smaller that he/she should be. So a couple of weeks later, we paid for a private scan to check that everything was going well. We were relieved to see that our little bean had grown. He/she was still measuring around 5 days smaller than expected but at least he/she was growing consistently!

   
 
After this, we got booked in with our midwife and got our appointment through for our dating scan at the hospital. Heading back to the hospital filled me with a mixture of emotions. It was the place where I first met our little boy so it felt amazing to walk back through the doors. However, I think I am still carrying a little trauma from my birthing experience so my excitement was tinged with some reluctance to return.

At our dating scan, we discovered that baby was still measuring around 5 days smaller than expected so my due date was adjusted accordingly. Initially, my due date was 16th March. It has now been pushed forward to 21st March. Seeing baby wriggle around on the screen at our scan was completely mind blowing! You would think that the excitement of scans might be a little less with a second baby but it is just as amazing to see!

  

I had my 16 week midwife appointment today and heard baby’s wee heartbeat and our 20 week scan is at the beginning of November. I am feeling super tired at the moment. I remember being tired when I was pregnant with J but at least I could come home from work and have a wee nap. Now I feel like I’m constantly on the go until J’s bedtime then I collapse in a heap on the sofa! I’ve also been feeling quite nauseous in the afternoons and evenings. Nothing too severe, I just feel a bit yuck and don’t really fancy eating much. This weekend I started to feel little movements too. I didn’t feel anything until around 17 weeks when I was pregnant with J so it’s been really nice to get some movements a little earlier this time. We haven’t even started thinking about any of the “baby stuff” that we need yet! I can’t quite bring myself to take all of J’s baby things down from the loft and go through them all yet, I think my pregnancy emotions would get the better of me!
Kirsty, J and I enjoyed what will probably be our last family holiday as a threesome last weekend. We went to a wee village just outside of Pitlochry and stayed in a caravan at a little holiday park. The rain was relentless but we threw on our waterproofs and spent the weekend splashing in puddles and exploring the landscape. It was perfect!

   
   
Now the countdown is on to our 20 week scan when we will find out if we are having a boy or a girl. I had really wanted a surprise this time and to wait until baby was born to find out. However, Kirsty as adamant that she had to know so we will be finding out. I have a really strong feeling that we are having a girl. I suppose only time will tell!

  
Hopefully I won’t wait so long before updating again J

TTC – a wee update

The last time I posted about our TTC journey, I was on day 7 of norethisterone. I stopped taking norethisterone after 10 days then I had a bleed. I went back to the clinic a few days later for my prostap injection. I was really nervous about this as Kirsty couldn’t get time off of work so I had to go by myself. I had never gone to the clinic without Kirsty by my side so I found the whole experience quite upsetting. However, I was in and out relatively quickly so it wasn’t too awful! 

   
 I started Gonal-f injections a couple of days later. I am not the best when it comes to jags so Kirsty had to literally pin me down the first day! I’m happy to say that I got a little bit better towards the end but I was still a bit of a baby! The side-effects from the drug were pretty nasty – hot flushes, head aches, high temperature. They seemed to coincide with a cold or a virus that I had picked up so I felt pretty awful for the first few days but luckily that cleared up after the first week or so. I went back to the clinic for 2 separate scans to check how things were progressing. Similar to our last round of IVF, my left ovary didn’t respond very well to treatment at all. My right ovary was making some progress though and my womb lining looked good so we were booked in for egg collection on the 23rd June. 

We had to be at the clinic for egg collection at 7.30am. This posed a childcare issue for us. We hadn’t told anyone that we were having treatment and we weren’t sure what we would do about J. I decided to confide in a close friend of mine, who has a little one the same age as J and she happily agreed to look after him for the morning while we were at the clinic. So we dropped him off and headed to the clinic. I wore the same top as I did when we had egg collection the last time round, for good luck! I was feeling very nervous but Kirsty was there to hold my hand when we walked into the clinic which gave me so much strength.
  

I was taken into theatre and sedated. This part wasn’t fun as I had to have a cannula in my hand which was really stingy and reminded me of my time in hospital when I was pregnant. The staff were so kind and supportive and by the time I stared to get drowsy, all my fears seemed to melt away. As with my last egg collection, I was very emotional when I came round from sedation…I cried a lot!!
  

Once I had had some tea and toast and I felt a bit more ‘together’ the embryologist came in to tell us how many eggs had been collected. During our first round of IVF, 11 eggs were collected. I knew there would be a slight drop this time as some time had passed. Kirsty and I were hoping for around 8 or 9. 

When the embryologist told me that they had only collected 4 eggs, my heart sank. I was devastated. At that point, I thought it was all over. I thought our chances of getting pregnant with just 4 eggs were practically non-existent and I was heart broken. We spoke at length with the embryologist and she did her best to calm me down and reassure me. When we got home I got straight on social media and asked for positive stories to help me stay afloat. Luckily, I was flooded with stories and messages of luck and love. I was completely overwhelmed by the lovely ladies who stepped forward to share their stories or words of wisdom. It really helped me through a tough day.

The next day, I got a call from teembryologist to tell me how many of our eggs had fertilised. I had prepared myself for the worst and really did think that she was going to tell me that none had made it. To my complete disbelief, she told me that 3 eggs had fertilised! I was absolutely over the moon and I’m pretty sure I cried down the phone! We discussed our options and made the decision to leave the embryos in undisturbed culture and leave them to do their own thing until day 5 when I would go in and have the best embryo/embryos transferred.

The next few days were quite calm. I wasn’t stressed out because I knew that our little embryos were doing their own thing, undisturbed and there was nothing that I could do to change that. Kirsty and I patiently waited until day 5 then went in for our transfer.
  

By some strange stroke of fate, we encountered exactly the same situation as we did the last time we went for transfer. None of the embryos were quite at the blastocyst stage, but 2 of them were at the stage just before blastocyst. We made the same decision as we did last time, to transfer both of the embryos. Strangely, this put me at ease. The fact that the same thing had happened made me feel confident. If it worked last time then it can work again this time! 

Kirsty and I had a mantra throughout our treatment – what the mind believes, the body achieves. We kept this in our minds every day and I used Zita West positive visualisation tracks to keep me positive and grounded.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t be quite as relaxed as I had been during our last round of treatment as this time I had a toddler to look after! It is the school holidays here so I was looking after J full time and not going to work. This panicked me a little as I was having to lift him and chase after him a lot. I worried that this might have a negative impact on our treatment. I took advice from those in the know and tried to make sure I wasn’t over doing it. As soon as Kirsty came home from work I would go and lie down for around half an hour and just relax.

I tested on day 4 and when it came back positive I knew it just still be the trigger in my system. I tested again on day 5 and it came back negative. I knew it was still too early for anything to be detected in my system so I didn’t get myself too worried. Last time, I got a positive result on a digital test in the afternoon of day 6. As things had been so similar with this round of treatment, I decided to do the same. Unbelievably, the same thing happened and this appeared…

  

We were, of course, ecstatic, but knew we had to wait it to be confirmed by the clinic. On day 9, we went to the clinic for a blood test and they  confirmed that I was pregnant. When I was pregnant with J, my hormone levels at my first blood test were 76. This time they were 67. This concerned me slightly but the clinic assured me that it was still a good number. It was also an indication that we are only having one baby, not twins (phew!)

Our early scan it set for the 3rd of August and we are really excited to get our first glimpse of J’s little brother or sister  😊
  

Our wedding video

Amidst all of the TTC madness this week, we received an e-mail from our wedding videographer with the link to our montage video.

We are in love with it so I had to share it with you guys. 

Anyone in Scotland who needs a videographer, we highly recommend Erin Rose Films. They were super awesome to work with and the footage they got and put together is just amazing.

Let me know what you think!

 http://www.erinrosefilms.com/blog/2016/6/30/katie-and-kirsty-2-april-2016-sloans-glasgow

TTC….here we go again!

So, if you follow us on social media then you will know that we have started the TTC process for the second time, in the hope that we can make J a little baby brother or sister! I wanted to blog about the process as I didn’t do it first time round, when we got pregnant with J, and I really wish I had.

The plan was always just to have one baby. When we started TTC two years ago, we made a promise to each other that we wouldn’t do it again. It took its toll on us in so many ways and we didn’t think we could put ourselves through it again. However, as soon as I gave birth to J, I knew I wanted to do it again. I knew I wanted to give him a brother or sister and I knew I wanted to be pregnant again. Kirsty was not on board. She felt very strongly about not having another baby. If you have read my previous posts about my pregnancy and J’s birth, you will know that I spent a lot of time in hospital and things got pretty scary a few times. Kirsty was faced with losing me and losing our baby and she really didn’t want to feel like that again. We didn’t talk about baby number two for a long time. In around October last year, I sat down with Kirsty and we had a conversation about it. To my complete surprise, she opened up and told me that she had been giving it some serious thought and she really wanted to try for another baby. I really didn’t think she would be so positive so I was completely overwhelmed that she had changed her mind! We decided to wait until after we got married to start the process again.

The week after we got married, we headed to the fertility clinic we used when we conceived J. Going back there was extremely emotional for me. I cried when we arrived and actually found it quite tough to walk in. I don’t really know why I struggled with it so much. Maybe because it brought back so many memories of being scared, nervous and so incredibly anxious. However, with Kirsty to hold my hand, we went in for our initial consultation.

The consultant we saw was the same man we had met with last time. In fact, he was the consultant who transferred J into my tummy so I was immediately put at ease. We discussed what we thought would be the plan and I was pleasantly surprised by how positive he was about our chances of getting pregnant again. He suggested using the same protocol as last time (short, flare) and told me we could get started as soon as I had my smear and HIV, Hep B & Hep C test results.

Our next appointment was on 27th May, a week ago, and we signed all of the relevant consent forms and handed over the ridiculous amount of cash needed to pay for IVF. By some crazy stroke of luck, I was on CD21 and the nurse told me I could start on norethisterone (progesterone) that same day! Kirsty and I had anticipated having to wait until my next cycle to get started so we were over the moon that we could start straight away.

So here I am, day 7 of norethisterone. I am feeling more tired and a bit more emotionally sensitive than usual but nothing major. I have to stop taking the norethisterone on Monday and hopefully I will have a bleed. I go back to the clinic on Friday for my prostap injection then I will have Gonal F injections daily for around 10 days. We are hoping to be ready for egg collection by the 20th of June.

Going through this process again is not as scary as I thought it would be, although I’m sure as treatment goes on I might feel differently! I have a lot of mixed emotions about doing this again but I will save that for my next blog post.

Anyone else cycling this month? I’d love to hear from you! Also, any tips on how to stay sane when going through IVF whilst also parenting a very active toddler?? 

Our feeding story…

*DISCLAIMER – It goes without saying that I am firmly in the “fed is best” camp. I believe that every woman has the right to make decisions about how she feeds her baby*

When I was pregnant, Kirsty and I had lots of discussions about the different things that would happen “once the baby arrives”. One of those things was feeding. I really wanted to try breastfeeding and (naively) thought it would be a breeze. Kirsty was her usual supportive self and told me that she would have my back whatever I chose to do. She did, however, voice her slight concern at me putting too much emphasis on breastfeeding. “If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. It won’t be the end of the world,” she would say, tentatively. To which my reply would mostly consist of “don’t be daft, of course it will work. I’ve made my decision and I’m sticking to it!”

When J arrived, we had to stay in the hospital for a few days following my slightly complicated c-section and subsequent blood loss. During our time in hospital, J seemed to be feeding well. He latched nicely and would feed for long periods at a time. He was quite sleepy and seemed to need to be fed a lot but seeing as I’d never done any of it before, I just thought it was normal. Whoever I spoke to the staff at the hospital, they would just tell me he was still hungry and to keep feeding him. I was pretty exhausted but battled through.

J was born on Tuesday and we were allowed to take him home on Friday. When we got him home we both thought he looked a bit jaundiced. We knew the midwife would be visiting the next day so didn’t worry too much about it. J slept for almost the entire day and didn’t seem interested in feeding at all. By the time the evening rolled around, my milk had well and truly come in and it felt as though I had two rocks attached to my chest. J finally woke up and was VERY unhappy. Trying to get him to feed was impossible. He wouldn’t go anywhere near my chest and just screamed continuously. This went on all night. I cried, Kirsty cried, J screamed. I managed to hand express some milk and we gave it to J in a little syringe. In the morning, I made a panicked phone call to my friend who brought round her electric breast pump. I’d managed to get J to feed a tiny amount from me but he continued to be in so much distress. I used the pump to express some milk into a bottle and J took that, eventually calming down.

By the time the midwife arrived, mid-morning, Kirsty and I weren’t looking our best! She watched me try to feed J and agreed that he was very distressed every time I tried to put him to my boob. She told us she would refer us to the breast feeding support service and that we would get a visit at some point during the week. She told us that J was quite jaundiced and that he had lost a high percentage of his birth weight. She told us that if his weight didn’t increase, he may have to be admitted to hospital. This made us so so worried. I continued to use the electric pump to express milk and we fed him expressed milk from a bottle. I tried and tried to get him to feed from me but he was having none of it! We were visited by two other midwives before the breastfeeding support nurse came to see us. She asked me to try to put J to my boob and almost immediately asked me if I had noticed any restriction in his tongue. I looked at her blankly and she told me that J had a really severe tongue tie, making breast feeding almost impossible. I couldn’t believe that after 4 days in hospital and visits from 3 different midwives, the tongue tie had not been detected. We had to wait a further ten days for an appointment at the hospital for his tongue tie to be snipped. All the while, I was expressing every 2-3 hours, round the clock.

Once J’s tongue tie had been snipped, I thought I would manage to get into a routine of breastfeeding. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. I was worried and anxious about so many things. When I expressed, I knew exactly how much he was taking and I knew that my supply was good. If I fed him myself, how would I know if he was eating enough? How would I know that my supply was ok? I wasn’t confident enough in my own ability  that I felt the control of expressing eased my nerves. 

The decision not to persevere with breastfeeding is one that I regret. Instead, I stuck with my expressing routine for the next 6 months. I spent a large proportion of each day stuck to a machine. Kirsty and I were restricted in what we could do and where we could go because I was constantly needing to express. It got me down and it not only took a toll on my relationship with Kirsty but also my relationship with J. I felt like I had failed and I didn’t feel as though I was able to stop expressing once I had started. Kirsty was so supportive but I could see that she was struggling with the whole situation. I was being very hard on myself and very stubborn.

Once J started weaning at 6 months, he had a terrible reaction to some cheese and we realised that the problems he had been having with his skin may be down to some food intolerances. At this point, Kirsty sat me down and told me that in order to get to the bottom of J’s issues with food, we had to know exactly what he was eating and when. She suggested that now might be a good time to stop expressing so we could keep an accurate food diary for J. So, after exclusively expressing for 6 months, I stopped. Stopping took a while as my body had to get used to producing less and less milk. J was just over 7 months when he had his last bottle of my milk. 

If I could do it all again, I would do things very differently. I wish the tongue tie had been identified early on. I wish I had persevered with breast feeding after the tongue tie had been snipped. Most of all, I wish I hadn’t put so much pressure on myself. Becoming a parent for the first time is hard enough, without adding tons of pressure on yourself to “get it right.”

Do you have anything you wish you had done differently on your feeding journey?