28 July 2015

An introduction to my new series - Having a Premmie

Over the last 6 years, I have had various friends ask my advice on how they can support their friends who have had a premature baby. At first I was a little worried that I might not be able to help them. As it was some time ago my memory has become a little foggy with remembering all the details of those days (nearly 7 years ago) but there are those things you never quite forget.

It got me thinking of the experiences I went through with Popette when she was in the NICU, and what helped my Husband and I get through such a traumatic time.

So I told my friends what I went through and experienced, and of the different organisations and people that might be able to help their friends. I was pleased when they told me that the information I gave them was very useful.

I know I have talked about Popette's birth and my experience with pre-eclampsia here before, but I thought I would reshare these posts along with a new series of posts on what its like to have a premature baby in the NICU.

Some of the topics I plan to write about include:

* 6 tips for dealing with parents of a premature baby
* The arrival of Popette: my experience with pre-eclampsia and HELLP syndrome,
* Excerpts from Popette's NICU diary,
* A letter to the new NICU Mumma,

This series is very personal and close to my heart, so hope you will join me. By sharing my experience and stories here, I hope anyone who has friends or relatives going through a similar situation will find these posts useful.

               Here's a sneak peek into the first post                

The arrival of Popette: my experience with pre-eclampsia and HELLP syndrome

My Husband and I left it late in having children. We had been married for 13 wonderful years, was paying off a mortgage, had 
travelled overseas numerous times, enjoyed going out with friends and taking long-weekends away. We both had fairly good careers and were really happy. It took us some time to realise that what we both wanted, was a family of our own.

So in late 2007 we started trying for a baby. We had been trying to conceive for over 12 months, so it wasn't until I was 35 before I finally fell pregnant.

We were both thrilled, and couldn't wait to see our little tiny baby on the ultrasound. Unfortunately it wasn't meant to be, and at 5 weeks gestation I miscarried. As you could imagine we were devastated. 

Due to my age and history of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), I was considered a high risk pregnancy, so after talking with our GP he put us onto a wonderful obstetrician. The obstetrician placed me on Metformin (to help with insulin levels) and monitored me closely over the next couple months. Thankfully within two months I was pregnant again!

I was pretty fortunate not to have morning sickness throughout my pregnancy. I was eating healthy, doing light exercises, generally I felt great. I loved seeing my little bump getting bigger and bigger. I loved the feeling of Popette (the nickname we gave our bub early on) kicking me. It always gave my Hubby and I the biggest thrill when we felt her kick.

At around 18 weeks gestation, I started to develop Pregnancy Induced Hypertension (PIH) that caused my blood pressure to get extremely high during my pregnancy. Before I was pregnant, I never had issues with my blood pressure.

   See next week's post to hear more of this story  

I am linking up with Essentially Jess for IBOT

20 July 2015

The things you do to have a baby

What would you do to have a healthy, happy, bouncing baby?

What if you couldn't have a baby? 

Would you adopt, find a surrogate, try IVF? 

What if the doctors told you couldn't fall pregnant or it was dangerous? 

Would you still try?

Some couples use all of their life savings to try for a baby through IVF, we were fortunate enough not have to go down that path. 

For my husband and I, we had to consider was it worth having another high-risk pregnancy, when trying for our second daughter Cherub.

I thought by sharing our story here I could encourage those Mumma's who are afraid of taking a risk, that there is hope.

After the ordeal we went through with Popette, we were terrified that the same thing might happen again. However, we were reassured by both my OB and renal physician, that it would be safe for us to try again.

Trying for Cherub didn't come easy. As a 38 year old Mumma with a history of PCOS, pregnancy-induced hypertension, and Popette's early birth, we had a few obstacles in our way.

We tried to conceive for 6 months but nothing happened, on the advice of my OB I started taking Clomid to help stimulate my ovaries. We were advised to take note of our window of opportunity to conceive, then go for it!

It was disappointing when I would visit my OB to get told that I hadn't ovulated that month, and that we would need to take another course of Clomid, and try again!

The same feeling of disappointment came when my period hadn't arrived, and we thought I might be pregnant only to find a negative result display on the test strip.

After 3 courses of Clomid and nearly 12 months of trying to conceive we finally fell pregnant with Cherub!

Due to the risks of me developing pre-eclampsia, I was placed on various medications throughout the pregnancy - Aldomet (to control my blood pressure) twice a day, Cartia (low dose aspirin to thin the blood), Metformin (to help with insulin levels from PCOS), and Clexane injections (from 7 weeks gest to 6 weeks post birth).

I never thought I would be able to inject myself with a needle. I remember when we were first told I felt squeamish and didn't think I would be able to do it and said to my Husband that he would need to do it for me. Well after a couple of painful injections - I took over from him!

There was a 10-15% chance of me suffering pre-eclampsia again, so the little pain I had to suffer was something I was willing to endure to have a healthy baby.

Fortunately all the precautions and close observation by my doctors paid off. Cherub was born healthy at 38 weeks by cesarean. I would have liked to have tried delivering her naturally, however the risk of me developing severe pre-eclampsia past 38 weeks was just too high. 

Its not to say we didn't have complications.

At 7 weeks, just after starting the clexane, I started bleeding heavily. I thought we were going to lose our baby, and was beside myself while waiting in the Emergency department at the hospital. The ER doctors couldn't tell me at that stage if the baby was going to be OK, as it was still a little early to hear the heartbeat. 

A follow-up appointment a few days later confirmed that everything was alright with the baby, however the bleeding continued on until I was in my 2nd trimester. 

When Cherub was born my blood pressure became unstable resulting in me staying in the hospital a lot longer than I wanted. Thankfully it wasn't anything like Popette's birth, and only required an adjustment on my meds and bed rest.

I sometimes wonder why it was so hard for us to have a healthy, happy baby. I am just grateful that we didn't give up hope, and listened to our doctors and took on their advice, otherwise we wouldn't have our beautiful girl with us here today.

16 July 2015

Being grateful: for time spent together

Does anyone ever feel a little sad when the school holidays are over or is it just me? Its not to say I wasn't a little eager to get Cherub off to preschool on Monday, then Popette back to school on Tuesday. Its when they are both having fun at "school" I miss them not being at home.

As I had a terrible flu the holidays started a little slow for us. I'm grateful Hubby took a couple days off work to take care of the kids, while I rested in bed. 

Overall our holidays were relaxing, with most of the time spent at home. It was a combination of some slow days where I pottered around the house. The girls played together, and did lots of colouring in and drawing. They painted, made some bird craft which Popette then made in to a puppet show. She has such an imagination! 

The girls played in the sandpit and rode their bikes. I even got time to do some of my own art while sitting at the dining table (aka our art space) with the girls while they coloured or drew pictures. 

We also had a few busy days. There was outings with friends, a special trip to see Disney on Ice with Daddy, and a long weekend spent near the Hunter region of NSW, where we caught up with Hubby's Mum for her 60th birthday. Although it was chilly, we enjoyed dining out on her birthday, then a lovely day trip to the Hunter Valley the next day. Hubby and I also managed to go out for dinner without kids (Score!)

Oh I wish I owned a vineyard!

It had been so long since we had visited the Hunter Valley. I think I was pregnant with Popette the last time we had been there, so it was nice to drive around and look at the scenery. Its a shame its become some commercialized, everything seemed so expensive. One winery we visited even charged for their wine tastings! Luckily the wine was nice, so that made up for it.

I am grateful that we spent this time together, although Hubby worked through most of the holidays, it was wonderful when he did get to take a day or afternoon off so we could all spend time together.

What did you do over the holidays? Did you do go away or stay home?