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Birth Story

11 Oct

I’m struggling to remember what it was like being pregnant, so I thought this had better get written before the rest of my brain slips away! Please be warned that while this is a positive story, I’m going to talk about things from the beginning that might not be for the squeamish. But if you’re a regular reader, you knew that already, right? There also might be some sensitive issues if you’re an expectant mum.

I knew that he was going to arrive early. People didn’t listen – Patrick even booked the two weeks of holiday he’d saved up for the fortnight after Barnaby’s due date. I had been three weeks early, and I was convinced that my first baby was going to be the same.

On Thursday, I had my usual check-up with the midwife planned. I’ve been really lucky – Clair is one of those people who is just so natural in her job – she makes you feel utterly reassured that everything you’re thinking and feeling is normal, and that you are strong enough to take on anything that can be thrown at you. She did the usual – measured the fundal height (the distance from the top of the bump to the pubic bone) to check the baby’s size, and had a good listen to his heartbeat.

The thing about pregnancy is that it’s a full-on assault on every part of your body. All kinds of weird things happen, and you’re waved away with “aah, it’ll be over once the baby has arrived”, after taking your blood pressure for the gazillionth time, of course. It’s a strange experience – everyone is reassuring and positive but not entirely helpful! The most bizarre experience was when Barney decided to stop kicking me for a day. The triage nurse told me to come straight in to the surgery, which of course terrified the life out of me. After a listen-in with a Doppler quickly revealed that he was just chilling out at the back of my abdomen, I apologised to the doctor for being *that* kind of mother. He responded with “no! Perfectly understandable if you’re worried there’s a dead baby inside you.” Um… Wha? Fair, but a little to the point.

Anyway, my random symptom of the day was, how do I put this? A little leakage. They warn you that some women think that their waters might have broken when really the extreme pressure on your pelvic floor is making you pee a little. Nice. Our NCT teacher said that was nonsense – that you can always tell the difference between wetting yourself and your waters breaking. So, I brought the matter up with the midwife, and she suggested that I see how it went, and go to the maternity ward if I continued to feel that my waters were leaking.

The next day, I can’t explain it, but I just felt that he was coming. I had a small list of essentials still to buy, and went out and bought them. That evening, we went to the maternity ward so that I could be checked out.

I was examined by a midwife, and she confirmed that my hind waters were indeed broken. I was keen to have as natural a birth as possible, and wanted to know the options available to me. I struggled to remember the BRAIN mnemonic taught to me by our NCT teacher – Benefits and Risks of the treatment offered; what Alternatives are available; what my Instincts were telling me, and what would happen if we did Nothing.

The registrar working that evening spoke, unfortunately, very broken English. She performed an ultrasound, and kept on referring to the “afterbirth” – a phrase we rarely use to describe the placenta before the baby is born. She told me that I was at risk of infection, and that I had to be induced. I asked her if there were any alternatives. She stared at me blankly and said that there was no alternative. I am usually a stronger person than this, but she honestly worried me into thinking that something terrible would happen if I did not go along with everything she was telling me to do.

The first stage of induction was a pessary containing the hormone prostaglandin. This is used to soften the cervix, and it was explained to me that this was in the hope that labour would start spontaneously. I was to have this pessary inserted, and if there was no development after 12 hours, another would be administered. If it were possible at that stage to break my waters fully, that would be the plan, and if not they would review the situation, with the possibility of a caesarean section should things not progress further.

This resulted in my first experience of gas and air. That stuff is incredible – it’s like being happy-drunk almost instantly. The feeling soon wore off. I had a series of long waits; no progress and – most memorably – a midwife who decided to tell me that the oxytocin drip, the next stage of the induction process, was incredibly painful. I got myself into a bit of a state at that stage – all my careful planning in my head about how I was going to avoid tearing by having a slow second stage was dashed. I spent late Saturday night in hysterical tears, convinced that I did not want the baby any more; that I just needed it out of me. I think the midwives who were working (Ms Helpful had since gone home) were a bit worried at that stage, as I was firmly stating that I would not be having the drip.

Sunday came, and what my family lovingly refers to as “Hospital Becca” had appeared. Please excuse my icky third person here, but Hospital Becca is insanely paranoid, borne out of too many “you’ll go home tomorrow” hospital situations, and convinced that the staff are conspiring to keep her there indefinitely. I was certain that I would be stuck there for three weeks, like my Granny had been when waiting to give birth to my uncle, 30-odd years ago. Sunday night brought more waiting, and one of my ward-mates went into unattended, established labour in the ward – it was more than ten minutes before we found someone who could help her.

Being told that you can’t go home because you need to be monitored, and then not seeing anyone for nine hours tipped me over – I rang Patrick and told him that I was coming home. I then proceeded to walk the hallways of the hospital for the next couple of hours. Stopping into the chaplaincy brought me back to earth with a bump. They have a book of remembrance on display, and seeing so many birth dates and dates of passing only days apart was a proverbial slap – stop whining and be grateful that you are healthy. I didn’t realise until the next day, but Patrick drove to the hospital and slept in the car park that night.

I managed to chill out and get some sleep. I had been placed on a waiting list to have my waters broken, but women who were in labour kept on coming in and needing the rooms (the bastards!), so I kept waiting. Patrick came in to visit, and as we were laughing at this video … Whoosh! Oh yeah, there’s a big difference between peeing and waters breaking! Thankfully, this moved me quickly into a delivery suite, where contractions quickly started. Because they had started to induce me, they wanted to keep monitoring the baby. My plan to stay upright as much as possible so that gravity could help baby come out? Out the window.

I started with gas and air, hoping that would be plenty, but with an open mind to more pain relief if required. After a few hours of contractions, the midwife kept saying that she would have to start me on the oxytocin drip soon, because the contractions were not strong enough. As she said this, I began to think that while I felt ok, if they got much stronger I’d definitely need an epidural. I changed into a hospital gown, and had to quench my thirst with swills of water – no swallowing. The anaesthetist was really old-school – fifty-something, super well-spoken and unbelievably laid-back. I don’t remember exactly how, but it didn’t work the first time. The contractions became stronger, and I started to struggle. The anaesthetist was called back and fixed things. I remember thinking that he needed to be immensely rewarded in some way, and said “take his name!” Patrick was worried that I was planning an official complaint! I guess I can sound a little scary when grunting like a warthog.

As soon as the epidural was in place, the midwife examined me and discovered that I was almost fully-dilated and ready to start pushing. I didn’t know before, but the pain relief is actually meant to be there for the first stage of labour, and so I had managed to get through almost all of that stage with simply gas and air. Plenty of women manage to do this with nothing at all, but for me, it felt like a mini triumph.

Pushing went on, and on, and on. The baby was being monitored using a device on the top of his head, so Patrick could see the end of this device as I pushed, but when I stopped, it would disappear again. The level of anaesthesia was perfect – I felt no pain, but I could feel what was going on and knew when to push. After a couple of hours, they called in a doctor to examine me, and established that the baby was not progressing any further. The decision was made to use a ventouse to help him out – a suction cap that attaches to the baby’s head. While it still involves an episiotomy – a small cut to the perineum to help avoid tearing – it definitely felt like a preferable option to forceps.

This was the point at which the epidural was the greatest gift – the episiotomy and the final pushes were painless, and my beautiful little boy was born. Immediately, they saw the reason that he had got stuck – the umbilical cord was wrapped twice around his neck. Seeing him so grey and so still was extremely upsetting for Patrick, but for some reason I felt that everything was ok. They checked him over, weighed him and brought him back to me, and I had my perfect son laid upon my chest, ready to feed for the first time.

I have mixed feelings about the birth experience. On the one hand, I am utterly grateful for how smoothly it went, that I didn’t have any scary moments. I do, however, feel like I missed out on the experience I had hoped for. I genuinely believed that if I did everything I was supposed to do, everything would go the way I wanted it to. I was religious about the “upward, forward and open” position throughout pregnancy, on the promise that it would get the baby into the optimum position for labour. I felt awfully clever because I had recognised that I might struggle with the pain, or I might not, so I was open to a variety of pain relief options. I felt that as an informed patient, I could stand up for myself and make my own choices about my healthcare. I didn’t consider that I would fail when faced with a doctor who refused to consider her patient’s wishes and concerns.

Going forward, I know that I would still love to have more children. My attitudes towards other things have changed immensely, though. I used to consider homebirth as more of a lifestyle choice (homebirth, extended breastfeed, co-sleep, babywear), that didn’t grant modern medicine the respect it deserved. I was incredibly wrong. A relaxed mother has value that cannot be measured, and, should the extremely unlikely worst happen, it takes longer to gather the right medical staff for surgery than it does to travel to my local hospital. No, an epidural would not be an option, but I feel confident now that I could’ve got through the whole labour without it, especially if I had been free to move and make use of water, rather than being forced to lie down for the days leading up to it.

I would also be keen to have a doula. Just knowing that someone who is knowledgeable and employed by you is there is an idea that fills me with confidence. I feel sure that having such a person would have made me more confident in the decision to start/refuse induction.

I suppose that’s it really. It wasn’t a bad experience, it wasn’t the smoothest-sailing. I think that’s how the majority are, but that doesn’t make for exciting watching on One Born Every Minute!

I’ve heard a lot in recent months about women feeling “robbed” of their positive childbirth experience, and I can understand that feeling. Because I was frightened into admitting myself to hospital; because I frightened myself into having an epidural that might not have been necessary, I may have missed out on elements of childbirth that are fulfilling and – dare I say? – enjoyable. But we will never know. The most important lessons I have learnt are that I have more strength than I possibly imagined, and that old favourite: want to make God laugh? Tell him your plans.

 

Do You Know This Man?

8 Apr

This one…

Well, yesterday, I didn’t.

The morning started off fairly normally. I was feeling a bit queasy, but a quick Google search revealed that hCG levels (the evil hormone that makes baby grow and Mum feel ralphy) climb again at about week 27. Hello, textbook pregnancy!

It was such a gorgeous day out – I was really looking forward to heading out to the top of the hill, and giving the dog a good walk. And with a view like this, who could blame me?

Upon returning to the car, I felt a bit detached from myself. I moved my arm across the steering wheel and made myself jump, as if I wasn’t expecting it there. My eyeballs were crackling, like I was struggling between the bright heat of the sunshine and the dark coolness of inside the car. I figured I was just a bit tired and hadn’t been drinking enough, got home ok, and started catching up on my Google Reader. Midway through commenting on a great post about celebrating our bodies – sorry Katie, I never finished the comment! – everything just went really, really fuzzy.

I sat still for a while, just staring at the wall. I have a recurring issue with pins and needles down my right side every few months or so, and so this started and my tongue went numb. I had a play on Twitter – maybe 140 characters would be easier to process! Yes, I have social media addiction issues. No such luck. I spent the remainder of the time until Patrick got home trying to understand why the word “afford” kept on giving me red squiggly lines every time I tried to include the letter p.

Patrick called NHS Direct and they rather alarmed us by insisting that they send an ambulance. In the meantime, I decided to try reading something again and picked up a magazine with Daniel Craig on the cover. When I read his name, it just didn’t sound right. I knew who he was – his name was right on the tip of my tongue, but I was certain that Daniel Craig wasn’t it.

The paramedics arrived and ran all sorts of tests – blood pressure, following things with my eyes, and pushing their hands up and down with mine. When Patrick gave them his name, that didn’t seem quite right, either. No major issues were found, and I had already started to feel less brain-dead, but as I’m a big fat pregnant lady and my blood pressure was slightly elevated (what can I say? I get Event Horizon flashes every time they put the cuff on) I had to go and see the doctor today.

Despite looking about fifteen, and wearing an outfit that proudly proclaimed that she was now in Sixth Form and wouldn’t be wearing uniform any longer, the doctor I saw today was absolutely lovely and seemed very proficient. I feel myself slipping into that godawful “nobody who has not given birth can possibly know anything about anything” attitude from time to time, and need to really, really check myself to make sure that doesn’t progress any further!

My blood pressure had come back to normal, and other pre-eclampsia tests came back clear. Pre-eclampsia was a bit of a concern for me, as the idea of bed rest for the next three months sounds like *hell*, and I had learnt, forgotten and re-learnt that my Mum had been a sufferer during her first pregnancy. I always remember the story of her having to switch to black coffee instead of Tab (retro!) because she didn’t like it that much, so it’d force her to cut back her caffeine intake. She’s now a ten-cup a-day lady! Pre-eclampsia could still happen, I guess, but every week that progresses before it does is a bonus. I love few things more than snoozing in front of the TV, but I spent three weeks doing that in 2009 and too much of a good thing is possible.

The official diagnosis is… Unsure. It could have been a migraine; it could have been dehydration; it could have been nothing at all! All I know is that I’m going to up my water intake and dial back my work a bit. I’ve been really reluctant to hand over my tasks to my colleagues, but it’s going to have to happen. In the meantime, I’m going to have to spend more time with my baby girl and enjoy some of this beautiful sunshine.

Checking In

26 Jan

I had to be brave to check when my last post was – it’s been nearly a month! I’m going to be yawnsome and blame it on work, but here are a few choice morsels from chez Campbell since we last spoke:

 

1. Alien Skeleton Baby

It has been confirmed – we are officially giving birth to an alien skeleton baby. See alien skeleton baby face the camera and wave!

2. Flutterbye baby

On Monday night, I had the weirdest feeling in my lower abdomen. It felt like when you hold a baby rabbit and the heartbeat is so quick, you can barely count the separate beats. If I have read all the baby blogs/books/websites correctly, this is the baby moving! I can’t describe how exciting this is – a little lonely as Patrick can’t feel anything from the outside, but very cool nonetheless.

 

3. I’m officially quitting online parenting discussions

I’m keen to be the best Mum I can be, but I’m just not sure I can measure up. I plan to have baby in a hospital (with a rather snazzy birthing centre!); I’d rather wear a wrap or something while breastfeeding because I don’t think everyone needs to see my bosoms; and I think star charts are frickin’ awesome! These things are just not cool, apparently. My mind is taken back to the world of mason jars and stucco-ed invitations…

 

4. Coming soon…

No, that’s it. When they say “coming soon” on tv, I get really miffed. I want to know when it will be on so I can set Sky + to record!

 

5. Disneyland Paris

We spent the day there on Friday. When I say “day”, I mean a grand total of four hours, in two theme parks. I am pining for Florida with every cell in my body! I do, however, have some pictures and a slightly more detailed review, which will be “coming soon”. See what I did there? After the honeymoon updates…

The Ghost of Christmas Present

26 Dec

Christmas has been great. Families have got on well; Father Christmas has been beyond generous, and I haven’t eaten my body weight in those Peppadew peppers stuffed with cream cheese. I am currently posting from my shiny new iPad (thank you, lovely Dad) and have a collection of gorgeous, maternity-ready clothes from my Mum and sister; and a hamper stuffed with goodies from Fenwick’s food hall.

If I were in an indigestion remedy advert, my punchbowl would contain smoked salmon, capers, roast beef and yorkshires, Coke-boiled ham, jelly beans, Christmas cake and Black Forest gateau. Ok, that sounds like a lot, but I’ve walked four miles over the last two days, so I feel quite justified.

I had got myself into a big stress over the gift situation – we decided to cut our budget by 40%, and I was definitely feeling the pressure. I scoured the blogosphere for things I might be able to make, and discovered two significant problems. One – unless fairly complex and done well, I think home-crafted items look like primary school art projects, suitable only for Granny’s fridge. Martha may push the crepe paper, but should we really be following what she learnt during her stay in Alderson, WV? Then of course, two – craft supplies are frickin’ expensive. So, there’s every risk that you could spend a small fortune creating something that isn’t even good enough to be regifted.

In the end, I had to abandon what was holding me back – the desire to produce the “best present ever”. What is that, exactly? Something that is exactly what you wanted, without you ever having thought of it. It’s something that fulfils childhood sentimentality, yet is the latest thing, ahead of its time. Where to find it? Less easy to answer. I have the rest of my debt-free life to buy amazing stuff, but for now, I have to just go with modestly thoughtful. I think I succeeded. People won’t be talking about my gifts for years to come – like I still talk about the year I got a clarinet and a Sega Mega Drive – but they will use them and see them and hopefully think of me.

How Do You Make A Hormone?

10 Nov

Please excuse the title. It’s a really bad joke, and I can’t even remember the correct punchline. If you can think of a good one, let me know!

I’m on a bit of a rollercoaster at the moment. Suddenly work has picked up through the roof – you’d think that was good but it’s a bit of a minimum-wage pity effort from my dear old Dad. Going from working part-time and with complete flexibility, to having to juggle clients is really quite overwhelming. Taking the financial weight off is a wonderful gift, though.

I don’t know if it’s pregnancy hormone stuff, but I’ve been really easily upset by things. Bloggers who giggle as their commenters gloat and shriek; pretty much anything I learn about Christine O’Donnell; the new McDonalds advert where all those people seek respite from their horrible journeys; the way some people have never used punctuation in their lives until they hyphenate their child’s name, Mollee-Faiye-Boo.

I’m at – as they say in the online pregnancy world – 5+1, five weeks and one day. Last time, the trouble began at 5+3. I know that once I pass that imaginary hurdle, there are still another 40 days or so until I’m out of the high-risk zone. I envy mothers-to-be who don’t even let this cross their minds and spend these first few months in giddiness, but don’t begrudge it remotely. Staying positive, cuddling beautiful Meg a lot and just taking good care of myself!

I’ve embarked on a pregnancy-friendly weight loss regime, inspired by the great success of Claire at Cakes and Bunting. Slimming World works on the principle of eating foods that are low in calorie density until you are full, ensuring that you eat nutrient-rich foods every day, and allowing room for treats. I don’t know why I’ve been ignoring it this long – I know several people who have been seriously successful with the diet, and I’m not talking about the “OMG! My size 6 jeans are a little tight!” types, but people who have actually improved their health and their life through weight loss.

I’m questioning whether or not the denial may be attributable to the same-old self-sabotage, but the navel-gaziness of it all seems a little pointless when considering the real goal – to start dejiggling.

For accountability’s sake, this is what I’ve been tucking into the past few days –

Tuesday: Lentil-rice casserole with Mulligatawny cup-soup for flavour; brussels sprouts with a whole roasted butternut squash stuffed with rice, parmesan, tomato sauce, olive oil and fat-free fromage frais.

Wednesday: Mushroom omelette; grapes; borlotti beans stir-fried with asparagus; salmon with lentil-rice casserole and roasted broccoli; fried bananas with sugar.

I’ve been delighted to eat such tasty stuff, and I’ve been inspired to eat more veggies. My big flaw when it comes to calorie counting is not being bothered to eat vegetables. I become so focussed upon calories and hunger that everything else goes out the window.

You may have noticed my new-found love of this lentil-rice casserole. I discovered the recipe via Frugal n Fit, and have become addicted – it’s just so creamy and filling and comforting. Essential in this godforsaken weather. The original recipe is here, a fantastic resource for recipes, but I’ve generally been going with (by volume) one part lentils, one part arborio risotto rice, six parts water, and whatever herbs or spices I think will be suitable with whatever it’s accompanying.

Questions –

Do you recognise habitual hurdles in your efforts to keep healthy?

Is there a dish that you could just cook day in and day out and never tire of?

It Feels Like Sunday

2 Nov

Well, it kind of does. Patrick has been off work for two days, as he has an exam tomorrow and is revising/watching Dexter with me. Over the weekend, I went to Newcastle for a fun weekend with my baby sister, who goes to university in the city. It is so crazy the idea that she has a city that is all hers, and that she shows me around! I absolutely fell in love and would definitely recommend it to anyone who wants an affordable weekend away, or a trip to Europe on a budget.

I went on a nice almost-four-mile walk this afternoon, scaring myself silly because I managed to venture into the woods where it promptly got very dark. I convinced myself that every shadow of a tree or crack of a twig was some kind of axe murderer coming to get me. It was a really fun route, though, and I’ll definitely give it another try earlier in the day!

While walking, I listened to a radio documentary about a city called Maywood in California. The city had got to such a state of disaster, financially-speaking, that they had to sack all of their staff and contract out the work. One of the reasons why things had got so bad was the fact that they were reliant mostly upon sales and property tax for revenue, while the majority of their inhabitants were domestic staff or builders of Mexican origin, seriously feeling the hit of the recession. It was a desperately sad situation – there was no way for them to increase revenue because the local residents just didn’t have it to give. It made me feel terrible for the children who grew up in the area – what hope would they have for the future? How would they break the cycle that they were born into, by no fault of their own?

It made me think of the occasional resentment felt by the South towards some areas of the North, and of Scotland, for the feeling that we are down here generating revenue that is spent by the government up there. One of the people interviewed for the documentary expressed that the only possible ways out of their situation were to open a casino, like a nearby town had; or to obtain funds at state level, obtained through taxes. I think we can safely guess which would be the favoured option at the moment, and an increase in taxes to help a city where half the population was born outside the US isn’t likely to be it.

If we’re meant to look at these situations and thank our stars that it’s not us, then I thank them twofold. I’m grateful that my parents are the hardest-working people I know, and I’m grateful to live in a country where, had I been born to a different family, it needn’t have set out my path in the way that it appears to in some. Of course, we can all find examples of those who rose from extremely humble beginnings to excellence anywhere in the world, but for many places, they are truly exceptional. Here, unless there’s a massive clerical cock-up, you will have a roof over your head, a meal in your belly and medical treatment.

What are your thoughts on this? Do you feel that your area provides equal opportunities, no matter what your background? Do you think that it should, or is improved opportunity something we leave as a legacy for our children?

In other news… I got a positive pregnancy test result yesterday morning. We’re so delighted, but I must confess that I’m nervous as hell – every second that I don’t feel sick, I’m convinced it’s because there’s something wrong again. The terribly sad news about Lily Allen has meant that miscarriage has been a big news topic today. I can’t imagine what the poor girl is going through, and it makes me grateful as anything that my own miscarriage was comparatively straightforward. Fingers and toes are firmly crossed for a successful pregnancy this time.

I’ll leave you with a pretty picture of some exceptional artwork of mine (if you’re on a slow connection, please don’t wait for it to load; it’s not actually good). I’ve been checking out this HDR malarkey on the iPhone and I’m not convinced – it has a real tendency to flatten pictures. I’ll let you be the judge.

Please bear in mind that I have no formal training in politics beyond a big crush on the boy who represented Conservatives in our school debate club, so if I have missed/misunderstood something, please be gentle with me. These are musings, opinions and observations, not statements.

Back to Earth

15 Oct

I had always been a bit concerned about the so-called post-nuptial depression. The wedding day is a big high, especially when you’ve been gearing up for it for so long. I’m particularly prone to the blues upon returning from holiday, and with the honeymoon (report coming soon!) being such a biggie, I knew that I had to be careful to keep my spirits high when I got home.

A few weeks before the wedding, my full-time contract with an accountancy firm came to an end, with only a few weeks notice. It was a scary position to be in, as between us we have more debt to repay that either of us had really faced up to. The return from honeymoon was going to present us with a number of new lifestyle resolutions.

As it turned out, we got back to reality with the promise of a bump. I had felt a little strange at times on honeymoon, but had just put it down to jet lag and too much rich food, but a pregnancy test confirmed it. We were heading to London that same day for Patrick’s mum’s birthday, so we excitedly shared the news with our respective families.

Despite my determination, I gave in to the pee-on-a-stick obsession, just to be sure that I hadn’t been mistaken. All sources I discovered stated that it’s virtually impossible to get a false positive, but still, I tested again, and got a negative. I felt so silly – we’d rushed to tell everybody and now we were going to have to go “um… sorry.” Consultation with my motherliest of friends told me to ditch the Tesco Value tests (don’t judge me – I’m broke) and splurge on one of the special ones that tells you how many weeks. Since then I have learnt that it’s not really a quality or reliability thing, but simply the sensitivity of the test. If you were to use a cheap one while at basketball-under-jumper stage, you’d definitely get a clear positive, but in the early stages, it’s a bit hit-or-miss.

After forking out for the test, and deciding to actually follow the directions and only test first pee of the morning, I got a positive result, but it said 1-2 weeks, when by my calculations, it should have been much later. This was my first clue that things weren’t going well. Unfortunately, things took a turn for the worse and over the course of the next week, the pregnancy was no more.

It’s a strange position to be in – to lose an unplanned pregnancy. We were so excited – the second we got a positive, we were delighted about our future – but from our perspective, it wasn’t the tragedy that miscarriage so often means. For one thing, it helped us to realise that now is absolutely the right time for us. It confirmed that should we choose to try again, neither of us faced any of the fertility issues that can be so trying for some couples.

I’m not saying that the experience hasn’t been difficult – I feel like everyone I know, from friends and neighbours to the writers of the wedding blogs I used to read, is pregnant. I’m working hard not to feel envious, but it’s not easy. Then there’s the blame game – at the early stage I was, they insist that it’s “one of those things”, but when you think of rollercoasters, margaritas and all the fun-yet-forbidden things you did before you were aware that you were pregnant, it’s difficult not to question. We’ve resolved to pick up, dust off and try again.

Think the week couldn’t get much worse? Well, I don’t know if it was down to the week we were having already, but somehow we managed to oversleep and miss our flights to Romania for my dear friend’s wedding, and – financial situation raising its ugly head once again – there was no way we could afford to take another flight. I was so gutted – she means the world to me and I hate that I missed it.

We decided that it was time to lift ourselves out from under the raincloud. Patrick’s dad and step-mum had very kindly agreed to buy us a puppy as a wedding present. As I would now be working from home, it was the perfect time to go and find our new furbaby.

I’d like to introduce you all to the newest addition to our family – Meg. She is a 12-and-a-half-week old yellow labrador-cum-foot-warmer, and both the highlight and bane of my existence! We picked her up five weeks ago from a lovely family in Corsham, and she has turned our household upside down.

I have become one of those people – the ones who talk about their pets as if they are children. Don’t write me off as the crazy cat lady just yet, but this really does feel like a practice run for when we manage to fall pregnant again. Don’t believe me?

1. Our lives revolve around the whims of her teeny tiny bladder. The rule of thumb we’ve been given is that up to 6 months of age, they can go one hour per month, plus an additional hour. We’re increasing intervals by fifteen minutes a week, but it means that even now, we take one shift each during the night!

2. We haven’t had a night out since we got her. We’ve met with friends briefly, but she can only spend a few hours in her cage, and with the cold weather setting in, we don’t want to leave her outside. The internet is full of shouty, angry people who will tear your head off if you ask any questions on the subject. Be warned.

3. We post about her on Facebook incessantly. Actually, it’s Patrick more than me, but that’s because I’m so aware of not being the incessant Facebook posting person!

4. Sometimes, we just sit and look at her, and that’s enough.

5. It’s impossible to go to the loo alone any more.

There’s a difference; I know. But just having her here definitely makes us feel like more than just a couple: a family.

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