Sunday, 17 March 2013

Let's talk about sex, baby.

The two most common questions that I get asked when people discover I am pregnant are:
1) Have you actually been sick?
2) Are you going to find out the sex?

The answer to both is an unequivocal yes. It would be very odd to have a baby and not find out the sex - I mean how would you change a nappy without noticing?

I think what they generally mean is, am I going to find out the sex of the baby before I give birth.

You'd be amazed at how worked up people get over this.

For some, finding out the sex is the equivalent of opening Christmas presents on Halloween. All kinds of wrong and indicative of a lack of self-control which marks you as a unreliable shyster in all areas of your life. For others, the idea of waiting until after the birth when you have clothes to buy and a nursery to paint is a clear demonstration of your lack of forethought that could scar your child for life*. What if HE has to wear a pink babygrow to leave hospital in?!

I couldn't give a toss what other people decide, fair play to them and whatever they go with. The husband and I have chosen to find out the sex at our twenty week scan in three week's time.

Almost nothing about this process has been conducted away from the closest of medical scrutiny;we even have a photo of the baby as a mere blob of cells: finding out the sex seems perfectly natural. I don't really buy the argument that I'd want to have a surprise when the baby is born. Whether I discover the sex at 20 weeks or 40(ish) it'll be a surprise. (As much as a 50/50 outcome can be.)

At 20 weeks I figure I'll have the time and energy to absorb the news. At the birth I might have a be a bit preoccupied with other stuff.

There are a couple of other things that have decided me:

When the wombmate had her little boy she and her husband knew the sex but chose not to tell anyone. Not even me.

Well, that bit her in the arse when our aunt presented her with a hand-crafted little jacket lovingly embroidered with flowers and what-not. I'm not against a bit of cross-dressing. I write this in the husband's cardi (which I guess is me cross-dressing as a chap because I'm wearing his clothes and his cross-dressing as a woman because he owns a fucking cardigan). However, I have been conditioned just enough to baulk at dressing a little boy up in such a flamboyantly decorated garment.

Also I have a very strong feeling that this kid is a boy.

Call it instinct.

Those of you who have read this blog for a while will know that to date almost every gut feeling I have had has been utterly wrong. Therefore I wonder whether to call my instincts bluff and decide I must be having a girl. But could it be a double bluff? Maybe I really am having a boy and my psychic ability is screwing with me.  Can you imagine living with these thoughts on a daily basis? I have to find out the answer for the sake of my sanity!

So only a few more weeks to find out whether we have a Douglas or Doug-ess in the making.

* With three older nephews I can pretty much guarentee a large proportion of this one's clothes will be blue with tractors emblazoned across the front. I'm quite keen on the idea of a gender neutral dark grey nursery at the moment ...

Monday, 11 March 2013

The Optimism Of Medical Staff

As I mentioned in my last post, from test to 12 week scan I was petrified that this pregnancy wouldn't progress, having had a "missed miscarriage" earlier in the year when there were no outward signs that anything was wrong and it was only the scan with no heartbeat that flagged the end of the pregnancy.

Which prior to my 12 week scan made me very nervous.

Very nervous indeed.

I knew what could go wrong and it had happened to me 'just' the once. Medical staff must have seen many, many more women bounce cheerfully into their scan rooms only to hear horrendous news. Yes, many more might get good news but surely the bad news stories stick in the mind more.

So of all the people you'd expect to be touching wood or at least using cautious language, medical staff would, you'd have thought, been right up there.

Not a bit of it.

I had a scan at my IVF clinic at 10 weeks.

The Doctor cheerfully finished the consultation by handing me a form. "Please can you complete this when the baby is born and return it to us. And we'd love a photo too!"

The form asked such unimaginable things as birth weight and how accurate the estimated due date was.

When I graduate to the NHS I had a midwife appointment BEFORE my 12 week scan. Now I'd had scans with my clinic before so I knew that there had at least been something there but I couldn't help but wonder about those who had conceived by normal means. Having this appointment before any medical professional had had the opportunity for a good rummage round their bits to check the embryo was developing properly. The discussions about breast feeding clinics just seemed a little premature.

Then when I finally got to my 12 week scan I checked in at reception. "Will you want a picture" she asked. "Yes" we confirmed a little doubtfully. "That'll be three pounds." And we dutifully handed over the cash. But I couldn't help that think, should the scan go badly, would I get a refund?

Today I had another midwife appointment - at 16 weeks and 6 days. The midwife was in the midst of explaining how she didn't normally check the heartbeat at this stage, as it can be difficult to find, when she saw my face. She clocked that I wanted a bit of reassurance so whipped out the doppler. It is still there, the heartbeat.

I'm not quite at the relaxed state of the medical staff I have encountered. However my mind has been set at ease a little more which should push me through the next few weeks until my 20 week scan.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

12 week scan

For the vast majority of women in the UK the first confirmation that their pregnancy test isn't a mere chemical blip and morning sickness is more than wishful thinking is their 12 week scan.

Not so for me.

Thanks to the IVF I had a scan at 6 weeks - where I saw a heart beat. A scan at 8 weeks for a glimpse of what looked like a frog. At 10 weeks it had transformed into a praying mantis, with tiny little arms doing what looked like extravagant feeding gestures.

But the 12 week scan is still special.

Not just because it is the first time you get scanned through your stomach rather than having a dildo shoved up your bits. After five rounds of IVF and more scans than I can begin to count, I don't mind a bit of internal action, but there is something of a graduation about having an external scan.

It isn't just because this 6 centimeter long thing in your uterus suddenly looks recognisably humanoid. So at last I could start to believe that the blob of cells is shape-shifting into something baby-like.

It is because it is a massive relief to have made it this far. There are still no guarentees. But the 12 week scan is such a huge milestone in terms of chances that you will go to term.

The scan itself was a shocker. I thought I knew what to expect. I was smug about remembering not to whip my pants off and just baring my belly. Every other scan I'd had took a few minutes, a quick check for the heart beat, measure the length and I was out.

Not this time.

It took about an hour, they measured EVERYTHING.  The Doctor pointed out the anatomical details and we'd give what we thought was an appropriate response; "Good it's got one" we murmured, when she showed us the brain; "Two is excellent" was our response to being shown two eyes; "That's lucky" when she pointed out it had kidneys.

I've read about other people's scans and how they wished it would last forever, this magical experience of seeing the life inside them.



Ten minutes was facinating, twenty minutes was diverting, but after that ... well I figured we'd seen enough, it looked good to us. By the forty minute mark the husband and I 'fessed up afterwards he was wondering whether it'd be rude to check his emails and I was contemplating a nap.

Every so often to get Doug into the right position the doctor did what I can only refer to as etch-a-sketching me. Furiously rubbing my stomach with the scanner so the ripples of flab re-aligned the baby (BABY!!) to a more visible position. She did at one point have to resort to the dildo-cam for a particularly tricky measurement.

The amount of detail they can go into was astonishing. I knew they'd measure the nuchal fold to check the likelihood of Down's Syndrome but they went further measuring the blood flow to the liver and how a specific valve in the heart was performing. May I remind you at this point the whole thing is a mere 6cm long.

The conclusion of the scan combined with a blood test is that this baby has a 1 in 54245 chance of having Down's Syndrome, odds we are very comfortable with, so we aren't going to have to make a decision about having the amniocentesis.

I was petrified every day between the positive pregnancy test and the 12 week scan that I was going to lose the baby. Every single day I was convinced that something had gone, or was going, wrong. However since the scan I have been much more relaxed I still can't get my head round the idea that I might have an actual baby but, bizarrely, I am quite comfortable with the idea that I am genuinely pregnant.