Monday, 27 December 2010

Pics, Kicks and Saint Nic

The boredom of the day after Boxing Day gives me the ideal opportunity to write a bit of an update. As its been a while, this post spans a couple of months, so we'll start back in November.

My last update gave you the news that Karen was pregnant again and that we were still struggling with rational thought, which gave rise to constant worry about the well being of our unborn child.
We discussed this with our midwives (we have 3, it would appear. 2 more than is really necessary but that's beside the point) who have been fantastic. As they could see Karen was worrying, and not "accepting" the pregnancy, as they put it, we were offered regular reassurance scans to help her with this.
For those that don't know, this basically consists of the use of a bit of equipment that looks like a Fisher Price toy and which, in fairness, is a akin to a microphone and a cheap speaker.
Who would have known that such a low-tech bit of kit could bring such piece of mind!
There was the customary "sick to the pit of stomach" feeling whilst they found a heartbeat, but each time they did, an overwhelming sense of relief followed.

As stated earlier, the care we received was excellent, with one of the 3 midwives visiting us at home to do this (I missed this one by being on the lav!) and then offering weekly repeats (of the scans, not my toilet habits).
As the 20 week scan loomed, Karen became increasingly concerned, given the news we previously received at this point in January. I had told everyone that I wasn't too worried as there was no reason to be, but in moments of solitude, I was secretly worried to death.
On the morning of 24th November, Karen and I approached Jessops in near silence, neither one of us really wanting to discuss the mornings schedule.
It wasn't as exciting as it should have been but with understandable reasoning.
An unbelievable air of tension filled the sonographer's room whilst they searched for that all important heartbeat and when it came, the feeling was indescribable.
The look on Karen's face said it all and I shed a little tear that we had exceeded our previous "personal best".
All the measurements were "normal" and we knew that we could start to overcome the worry we had previously felt.
We didn't/don't want to know the sex, so here's little Edie/Arthur (more on this later) in all his/her 20 week glory!

Whilst we were both elated to see a healthy baby, I could tell that Karen still wasn't fully over the worry of the unknown. I suppose that she wanted just a little bit more reassurance that everything was OK with this thing that was growing inside her and for that, we would have to wait.
It feels like "wind" apparently. Or so everyone says.
Was it the baby moving or the after effects of one of my award winning spicy sausage and chilli pasta dishes?
Who can say?
All I can say is that on the evening of Saturday 18th December, we had the reassurance we both had waited for.
I was downstairs, watching some shite on the telly, whilst Karen was upstairs in the bath. Now, as a slight aside, I don't know if you know of my wife's inability to convey good news without it sounding like bad, especially when I am not in the vicinity.
A shriek came from the bathroom, which instantly lead me to believe that she was being attacked by an intruder or had suffered an unfortunate "incident" with some TRESemme Vitamin B12 & Keratin - Anti Breakage Shampoo.
The real reason for the commotion was far more impressive.
She had felt her first proper kick.
Naturally, I wanted to feel it too, so I spent 10 minutes, kneeling by the bath, with my hand strategically placed in the area of last sighting.
Feeling shunned by my unborn child, I moped back downstairs.
2 minutes later was a cry of "its done it again" so, again, I ventured up the stairs.
Am I a bad person for getting fed up of waiting to feel nothing? I dunno, but I knew I was missing Harry Hills TV Burp, so I decided to give up.
I did get my "go" in the end as during a particularly exciting episode of X-Factor, the kicking started again (maybe it was Wagner's singing) and it absolutely blew me away (Wagner's singing, not the baby)!!

So, that's you near enough up to speed.
It seems like on the 18th, someone flicked a switch and the baby kicks and squirms almost constantly.
As you can imagine, this is all the reassurance we could both ask for and we are truly happy.

We have just had our last Christmas as a 2 person family and I know that the New Year heralds a mountain of DIY in prep for the new addition. Queue much moaning and swearing on my part. I'm sure I'll be venting my frustrations here, so I apologise in advance.

Oh, I nearly forgot. I said I would say more about Edith/Arthur.
I was in two minds whether to change the name of the blog as "Burt" has fallen by the wayside.
Karen would have you believe that it was never a realistic option for a boys name, but I'll tell you otherwise.
Its with some degree of certainty that I say that if we have a girl, she will be called Edie/Edith, in memory of Karen's late Mum.
Unfortunately, Karen's late Dad didn't bless us with a ready made boys name, as we both agree that we wouldn't burden our firstborn with the name Derrick.
So, the battle is on.
I am still sticking to my guns with an offering of Burt, Arthur, Raoul or Chet whilst Karen offers Seth or Ned.
Who will win? You decide (well, you don't really but suggestions are welcome!)

To wrap this up, I'll leave you with a top gift from Karen, which I am studying intently.

She obviously knows me well as its written in just the kind of language a geek like me understands.
I'll fill you in on the best bits from the manual in due course.

It just goes for me to wish you all a prosperous New Year from me, Karen and what shall henceforth be referred to as "The Podge"™ xxx

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Fresh Starts and Mending Hearts

Its been a while!
Before you read any further, I strongly suggest that you get yourself a drink and make sure you are sat in a comfortable position, for we have a lot to get through!

So, my last blog post was somewhat sombre (maybe an understatement) and its only lately that I have felt like putting pen to paper (or finger to keyboard, as it were).

The shock of losing our unborn child was far reaching and even when we thought we had come to terms with what had happened, little things made us all too aware that we had not. If I'm being honest, I don't want to get over what happened. I much prefer to be able to look back and remember, just without all the negative emotion and upset. Those who know us best know that we looked at the situation with a level head and I think this ultimately helped us to make sense of all that had happened.

After a while, the inevitable question crossed both mine and Karen's minds.
Do we try again?
At first, it wasn't even a question of when, but if.
I really don't think that we could go through the events of the early part of 2010 again and I know that this definitely altered the way we now looked upon starting a family.
Its strange that you can be scared of pursuing something that you both so desperately want.
One bitten, twice shy has never been so apt!

It was around this time that the consultations had begun to see if the cause of our baby's death could be established.
Test of Karen's placenta had revealed tiny blood clots, therefore our Consultant Gynaecologist had suggested that Thrombophilia be the most likely cause.
He suggested that Karen be tested and that the results would dictate any future course of action.
We discussed the subject of trying again and sympathetically, he suggested that we might want to wait until the results were in, as we could then best protect against the same thing happening again. So, that kind of made our decision for us, which made things a little easier.

The testing began on 1st April, with Karen having to give a huge amount of blood and me trying not to make Tony Hancock-esque jokes.
The preceding weeks/months were a bit farcical to be honest.
We had been told at the time of giving blood that the tests would take approximately four weeks.
This was an extremely anxious time, particularly for Karen.
I know that she felt that it was her (or her body's) fault that our unborn child hadn't quite made it, which is, of course, absolute rubbish. In situations like these, rational thought isn't always prevalent, and it was alright for me to bluntly state this, but I wasn't the one being tested.
Fours weeks came and went and after about six weeks, Karen could take the suspense no more and put in a chase up call to see what was happening.
Much to-ing and fro-ing followed and we really thought that the hospital really didn't have a clue what was happening.
Karen feared the worst and convinced herself that they had found something seriously wrong and were keeping this from us.
The bloke in me, saw the situation in a less emotive manner and I tried my best to reassure Karen that this couldn't be the case.
In vain, of course.
After 12 weeks, we received a letter that the test results were borderline and therefore inconclusive. We were told Karen would have to be tested again.
Inconvenient - yes. Worrying - yes. Necessary - yes. What else could we do?

Just to add to the emotion, the 11th of June fell in this period of worry and anxiety.
The 11th of June being our expected due date.
Emotionally confusing is the way I would describe that particular day.
Both Karen and I had discussed "doing something" but didn't know what. It wasn't a celebration, so we didn't want to do anything that would lean towards the suggestion that it was.
In the end, we ended up taking the dog for a walk to one of our favourite spots, coming home, lighting the candle that the hospital chaplain had given us and watching telly on the sofa.
Did we do the right thing? What exactly does one do in these situations?
I know that we both thought a lot about what had happened in January and that was enough for us.

Nearly there folks......maybe its time to get another cuppa and stretch your legs, if you are still bothering to read that is!

And so it began again.
We hoped that this round of testing would yeild quicker results but in reality, it was anything but! This time, Karen was a lot more direct and chased the hospital on almost a weekly basis.
It was around this time that we both decided that we didn't want to wait around and would get on with trying again.
Obviously, I was very happy with that decision but I'll not lower the tone.

Queue the same old worries from Karen that it wasn't working (the getting pregnant, not my err...well, you know). In fairness, before all this malarkey, I thought getting pregnant was the easiest thing in the world. Just walk round any council estate or watch daytime telly and its blatantly evident. I think the trick is to not want one or to be that whacked on Haribo and Stella that you just don't care.
Anyway, I digress.

The 13th August ended those doubts when a pregnancy test revealed that we were, indeed, pregnant again.
You'd think that we would be over the moon, but in contrast, we were both shitting ourselves.
Don't get me wrong, we were very happy but you cant help but worry, especially after all that has gone before.
We were told by friends / colleagues who had lost unborn children that the next time just doesn't have that sparkle and they are right.
The sparkle is there I suppose, its just a little bit dimmer.

September saw the return of the test results and after all that anxiety, they came back showing normal levels.
At the bottom end of the normal range, but within the range nonetheless.
Its funny, but we both almost wanted something to be wrong, if that makes sense.
On one hand, it would give us a bit of closure and give us a medial reason for what happened.
Truth is there is no reason and it was just one of those things, as I discussed in a previous post.
On the other hand, looking to the future, finding something wrong would give us something to medicate against and therefore avoid the same thing happening again.
I know in my mind that there is absolutely no reason for the same thing to happen again but then we're back to that rational thinking discussion again.

So there we are, you are just about up to speed.

We are being monitored more closely this time and have had three ultrasound scans so far (the first due to a blood loss scare, the second the regular 12 week and the third a fetal well being).

So, here it is:

Baby Roebuck #2

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Tiny Heartbeats

And as quickly as it was given, it was taken away.

Life is so fragile.
During our day to day existence, this is mostly overlooked.
Sadly, the only time I think that we truly appreciate the fragility of life is the day we witness its end.

Friday 15th January 2010 was one of those days.

Both Karen and I approached the hospital with excitement.
Gone was the trepidation, felt before the 12 week scan.
Gone was the worry and the fear of the unknown, replaced by joy at the thought of seeing our baby again.

If I'm being honest, I could see it in her eyes.
As I watched the sonographer, I felt that it was taking just too long for her to show us the screen.
When she asked Karen if she had felt the baby, my heart sank.
When she said the news wasn't good, that's when it broke in two.

That tiny black, beating blob that had caused such elation at our 1st scan, was gone.
Our little baby no longer had a heartbeat.

I can't begin to describe how we felt.
We just wanted to go home but were ushered into a small room, in order to wait for a midwife and a doctor to discuss next steps with us.
A mental whirlwind ensued.
From unreserved happiness to talking about the burial of our unborn child in under 60 minutes.
How can anyone cope with that?

Then the questions started.
Why us?
Why not others?
Why not those who have children, only to go on to neglect them, or worse? (Peter Connelly springs to mind)
Why did this not happen to them?
I know these are all natural questions, but they are ultimately pointless.

Questions such as "Why us?" are based on the assumption that what has happened has been decided upon beforehand, akin to the question "Why have we been chosen?"
Maybe the religious would argue that this is a decision made by their respective deity, but for the atheists of the world, this is a non-starter.

Neither Karen and I, nor our unborn child were chosen.
We just experienced of the laws of nature, Natural Selection, survival of the fittest if you prefer.
This is evident all around us, it just hurts more when witnessed in humans by humans.
I have a chili plant in the garden. I've watered in, fed it, covered it when its cold, put it in the sun when its shining and yet it has died. Other plants flourish, when I have paid them no attention at all.
Why? Because there was just "something" not quite right, and the same goes for our baby.
Therefore, I feel no need to ask myself why.

The following 24 hours were a blur of emotion.
Breaking the news to family and friends was horrific but the positives of support and compassion were much needed.
Saturday saw a constant stream of our closest family and friends, each causing tears but allowing diversionary conversation which was welcomed, given what Sunday was about to entail.

9am Sunday saw Karen's admission to Jessops Maternity Unit.
As our baby was 19 weeks old, Karen would have to be induced into delivery.
As you can imagine (or know, if you've had children), labour is a painful and often traumatic experience, but one that is offset against the end result; the joy that is a new addition to your family.
It broke my heart to see Karen go through this process, effectively for nothing.
Complications meant that at 4am, Karen went to theatre.
I attempted to get some sleep.
Karen was discharged at 3pm on Monday and we were finally allowed to go home.
Positives? The hospital food was alright.

Now the healing process begins.
We have had tremendous support from our family, friends and colleagues for which we are extremely grateful.

I have questioned whether I should commit this to words, but I think that its in keeping with what I set out to do.
Burt or Edie was a way for me to document our journey into parenthood.
This glitch is, of course, just a part of that journey.

I know we'll be alright, it will just take a while.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Rock, Frocks and Hard Knocks

Day count - 99.

And so it passed, the last Christmas with just the two of us.
Lazy days, lay-ins and late nights were all savoured whilst we had the chance.
In an attempt to see this year of change out with a bang, I "made" Joe stay up to 6am on New Years Eve.
I did this thinking that it would be the last time I would ever be able to indulge in such behaviour, but then I remembered that Joe has kids!
Same again next year then!

Little Burt or Edie received a fair selection of Christmas gifts, which was greatly appreciated.
Sadly, he didn't get the iPhone or BluRay Player he had been asking for, so we'll have to see what Santa brings for him next year.
I think he will be getting Virgin HD for his -6months birthday present, which I'm sure he'll appreciate.

On the subject of aural stimulus, I purchased most of these this week.
None of your baa baa black sheep rubbish for my child.
He's gonna love music as much as I do, so weaning him gently onto Nirvana and Green Day is the obvious way forward.
Karen wasn't as impressed as I was, but I think that's down to jealousy.
She's just gutted that I can get in from birth, where as she's got to wait a fair while longer before the little 'un can be introduced to knitting needles.

Speaking of clothes (these links are seamless!!), maternity clothing has arrived!!
The "uncomfortable in between phase" was managed with undone jeans and long shirts and jumpers (and pinnies at work apparently), but this wasn't to last.
The need for "a couple of pairs of trousers for work" was used to maximum effect, prompting a shopping trip to Meadowhall (the only place she knows I wont attend to monitor spending) and a return home with 7 bags.
So far, only the "savings" have been disclosed, though the impending bank statement will reveal the full horror.

Of course, this is all bravado.
She looks lovely in the new clothes and is really starting to suit pregnancy.
It has been strange seeing her change in figure but it makes me swell with pride when I look at her.
Shame I have to ruin it by saying things like "you've put a bit of weight on your face"!
She knows I don't mean it (well, I do, cos she has a bit, but I don't mean to offend!)

Speaking of faces.
Christmas Eve was marred a little by the worry of harming our unborn child.
I have noticed myself becoming more and more protective as the weeks roll on.

An aside.
So far, I have (a) threatened to speak to the headmaster of Karen's school over making her park miles away from the classroom when she has to carry more than I could in school bags and equipment.
(b) nearly kicked a man to death because he wouldn't move his car further up the street (he was sat in it, just waiting for his wife), so that I could park outside our house, meaning that "my pregnant wife" has to walk 100 yards further.
What the effing hell is all that about? I think it must be primeval!

The bad weather over the festive period has meant that her every move, outside the safety of the home, has been monitored and accompanied.

I leave her alone for one second!

"I'm just going to deliver next doors Christmas Cards"
The next thing I see is Karen pop up from below next doors fence.
Wet and bloodied.
We had to check the wet patches to see which parts of the body had made contact with the hard concrete path, hoping to see only dryness in the belly region.
We were in luck.
Karen had thankfully broken the fall with her face.
No harm to our unborn child but a bust nose and chin for the wife!
How lucky!

We get to see Burt or Edie again on Friday, which I'm really looking forward to.
Part of me wants to know the sex, as it would stop all the disagreement over names (more about that next time) but I know that I will prefer the surprise.
20 weeks, meaning half way.
Jesus, it's all going so fast.

As you can see, he's coming on just fine!