Thursday, 21 July 2016

My Stanley and My Lucy

It has been almost 4 years since I blogged. Life has most definitely got in the way. However, I am no longer WAITING. Not only do I have my Stanley (who is 4 years 4 months and going into reception in September), but I also have Lucy. Lucy Evelyn born on the 24th January 2014, 7lb 13oz.

Lucy is now two and a half. She came (naturally) 22 months after her big brother. Three years have passed since I found out about her impending arrival and I think, in some ways, it is still hard to believe.

So there you have it. I am no longer waiting for Stanley and Lucy, I have them both. When I created the blog I deliberately made the title of it "StanleyandLucy.blogspot" because I had hoped that I wouldn't always be waiting.

Stanley and Lucy

They're both such a delight. Our miracles in different ways. Stanley is bright and funny. He loves numbers, writing, colouring, dancing and paw patrol. Lucy is nurturing, kind and very stubborn and loves climbing, adventures and singing as well as playing with her dolls and anything that her brother has. She has also taken on her brother's previous love of Peppa Pig. She will eat anything and everything and lots of it!

Summing them up in such few words is hard!

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

An update

I'm pretty bad at updating this aren't I?

Stanley continues to be amazing, as ever!

Things he can now do:

  • Roll on to his front from his back
  • Rotate whilst on his back on the play mat
  • Feed himself (well, help himself to the breast whilst we lay down to feed)
  • Stick his tongue out on demand by copying us
  • Pull the jiggly toy on his car seat so that it jiggles - I can't tell you how proud I was when he did that on the way to Scotland! He's learning cause and effect. I actually welled up!
  • Pick things up straight away and pass them from one hand to the other
He laughs and smiles all the time and melts everyone's hearts, but mine most of all! His chuckle is adorable and he is ticklish under his arms.  He loves playing on his play gym and being outside.  He still loves swimming; we took him a lot on holiday. 

These last few weeks we have been incredibly busy and have been all over! We have visited friends and family and have stayed at Center Parcs, the Lake District, Menorca, Leeds, Sheffield, Scotland... Stanley is certainly well travelled! He takes it all in his stride and is such a good, relaxed baby. In the Lakes we went for a huge walk and got soaked to the skin (Stanley was in the sling) and joined in on the BaBs megameet! Menorca was amazing and very hot! Stanley was great on the plane and only cried a little.  We did lots of walking along the beaches and around the village and generally took it easy. We also visited a gin distillery and went on a boat around the harbour. We have just got back from Scotland and had a lovely time. I have another few locations for my 'extreme breastfeeding': a nudist beach in Menorca (I wasn't nude!) and watching two polar bears frolic in a pond at the Highland Wildlife Park in Scotland! 

We've been so busy that I'm struggling to remember everything we've done! He's well into his 3-6 month clothes now but will be in them for a while yet. Last week he only weighed 13lb 11oz! He's dropping off the 9th centile, but I'm not worried. He's happy and healthy and is doing just perfectly.  He's just little like his parents! 

Stanley cut his first tooth today! It's not quite out fully yet - just the tip sticking out! But it seems to have come as a surprise with none of the typical 'teething' symptoms that I've read about. 

Ooh! We now have a patio! My grandma mentioned getting Stanley a trike and it made us think that we don't have anywhere for him to ride it. It's fantastic and we're so pleased with it (and dead grateful to everyone who helped dig and lay it!). 

So, what's next? On Monday I'm doing a Keeping in Touch day at work.  I'm really nervous as it will be the longest I've left him.  I left him for the prom for a few hours and a couple of hours to go out for a meal but not all day.  Last night he successfully took expressed milk from a bottle so I'm hoping that he'll be ok. He'll be with my dad.  

In a couple of weeks we'll be starting weaning. I am planning on following the baby led weaning (BLW) approach - letting him self-feed rather than spoon feeding him.  I think I need to prepare for lots of MESS! I have already let him lick my canteloup melon - he pulled a bit of a face! He is certainly getting ready for it.  Everything is going in his mouth now and he watches intently while we eat and even grabs things off our plates if he's within range. 

Also, we have Stanley's service of thanksgiving coming up! It's in October but who knows if I'll have time to update this before then! We are looking forward to celebrating Stanley and saying thank you to everyone who has supported us over the last few years on our journey to becoming his mum and dad. We are even having a roast afterwards! 

All in all he's such a lovely little boy.  He's becoming just that - a little boy.  He's growing and changing so fast and I feel so lucky and blessed to be his mummy. I am cherishing every moment, even if I am sleep deprived and carrying baby weight.  Who cares when I have him?! 

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

One year since Egg Collection. Our boy has existed a year!

I thought perhaps it was about time that I continued a little with this blog.  Why today? Well, it's exactly a year since our miracle boy was created in that little petri-dish.  I cannot believe that a year has gone by since Egg Collection.

I think the title of the blog may need to be altered as we are no longer waiting for Stanley but we have him right here (this is why I made the web address minus the 'waiting' part, in the hope that one day we would no longer be waiting!).  It is going to take me a lot of catching up since he is now 14 weeks old, but I'm sure you can appreciate that it has been a very busy 14 weeks!

Newly born, the happiest moment of my entire life:

So, what have we, as a family of three, been up to?

After Stanley came home we had a huge influx of visitors for the first four weeks.  In fact, I don't think we had a day to ourselves for a long time.  It was great seeing how much everyone loves Stanley, how much everyone else has wanted and waited for him almost as much as us!

Here's a summary of Stanley's first few months:

Two days old: Stanley had his first trip out in the pram to post a birthday card. He had his first bath and daddy had made it too cold so he screamed the place down.  He enjoys his baths now!
Three days old: He met his very special auntie for the first time.
Four days old: We went into town and Stanley was oggled at by many a passer-by.
Five days old: We took him to our drama group's AGM! He came away with so many presents - a properly spoiled little boy!
10 days old: We met up with my bump buddy friend and baby (who was born the day before Stanley!)
12 days old: We did Stanley's first footprints

Two weeks old: His great-auntie bought him his jungle-gym playmat

19 days old: Stanley visits his grandma's resting place in the sling with his daddy
22 days old: Stanley was made official!
29 days old: Stanley's first proper smile, which I just happened to catch on camera!

I finally got discharged from the midwife at 29 days due to the feeding problems I was having (and continued to have up until 8 weeks!).  Bacterial infection, thrush... you name it.  But we ploughed through it all, mainly through sheer determination and will-power.  I said many times how I would have rather experienced labour or contractions again as the soreness from my nipples was that bad. I'm sure I'll write a post on breastfeeding at some point.

Aged 1 month:

In his second month Stanley has also been very busy! This month he:

5 weeks: took his boat for a sail in the local pond. It got stuck and daddy had to wade in to rescue it. He weighed 8lb13oz and he visited mummy and daddy's place of work, much to the pleasure of the staff and students.

6 weeks: Stanley brought his first painting home from baby social (his hand and footprints!), stayed on his own with grandad while I went to the dentist and he got his first cold! He weighed 9lb 6oz.

7 weeks: He visited school again and generally suffered with his cold. He also got his swing, which was a brilliant investment.

8 weeks: Stanley weighed 10lb 4oz this week and had his first waterbabies session. He even swam underwater! He also had his first jabs.  I felt awful in that I didn't get upset that he was in pain.  I perhaps felt that I should as my baby was suffering! I also met with a brilliant lactation consultant who helped with the feeding no end!

9 weeks: We went to waterbabies again and to the seaside for fish and chips afterwards. We also started baby massage which was great! This week we went on Stanley's first little holiday with our Drama group!

10 weeks: Stanley started to hit his toys on the baby gym and started sucking at his fists. We went to the farm to meet up with some BaBs girls and their babies and children. We also celebrated Stanley's great-grandad's 80th birthday and the Golden Jubilee.

11 weeks: This week was half term and we took Stanley swimming so that both of us could get in with him. He was such a good boy!

12 weeks: Stanley and I spent a lot of time this week working on a scrapbook for M's first Father's Day. Lucky M! Stanley weighed 11lb11oz this week. We also went to see the olympic torch! Stanley cried as it went past.

Father's Day:

13 weeks: It was daddy's birthday too this week - lots more presents and cards for M! We also took Stanley to watch his daddy in the choir concert.  It was the first time that Stanley had met the choir members.  The last time I went to choir was 5 days before he was born.

M's birthday: 

Looking cute: 

Three months: 

Stanley can now also grab toys!

14 weeks: Yesterday! Stanley now weighs 12lb 2 oz, so his weight gain is slowing. He is on the 9th Centile so is quite a diddy baby for his age.  I also got him some cream from the health visitor as I think he's inherited his dad's eczema, poor little sausage.

This is today - 1 year since he was created!

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Baby Stanley

Here are a few pictures of my baby boy! Sorry they're not great - they're all off my phone for now!

I will try and do some proper updates with decent photos soon.

Stanley has arrived!

Apologies for the very (very) delayed post.

We were waiting for Stanley and he's finally here! He has been for a couple of months now but I haven't had the time or inclination to post.

Here is his birth story (gory bits and all!).

The Birth of Stanley Peter:

Sunday 18th March (Mother’s Day)

I woke up with a severe headache that I had had since the previous afternoon. I also thought that my lips and hands were a little bit swollen so at about 5:00am I decided to ring the Maternity Assessment Unit who told me to come down later to get my blood pressure checked if the pain killers didn’t work. I went back upstairs to find M in the shower. A while later M emerged from the bathroom and put his shoes on. It was only ten to six! I told him I was going back to bed and that we’d go to the hospital later.

At about 10:00am we went to the hospital and they checked my blood pressure which was fine. The midwife told me to get bouncing on the birthing ball to try and get labour going. After this we went to the supermarket and then had a mothers’ day lunch with my grandma, throughout which I felt a bit ill.
In the evening I got a really strong back ache and started to panic. I bounced on the ball and had more cervix pains (I’d been having them all weekend). M and I were playing scrabble and my mind wasn’t really on it because I was in pain. I was confused because it was constant and not contraction like or anything. When I went to bed I text my dad and asked him if he could come round the next day in case I went into labour.

Monday 19th March 2012

By the morning it was fine but dad still came round and we had a good chat. Later that night I was chatting on BaBs when I started to have slight period pains but they weren’t exactly noticeable though. We were chatting about laughing the baby out and having sex so when we went to bed that night I mentioned these two tactics to M who said that if we were going to have sex I’d laugh as soon as he got naked anyway. This set me off laughing and M continued to make me laugh for a while. He read the bump a story and all the way through he was being stupid and making me laugh.

Tuesday 20th March 2012

At about 4:00am I awoke with a pain in my back and it was very similar to what I’d experienced on Sunday night. I changed position to get more comfortable and drifted back off to sleep. A short while later I awoke again with the same thing, which surprised me. I decided to go to the toilet which is when I noticed a small bloody show in the toilet. Excited and nervous I grabbed a pad and went raiding my knicker drawer laughing quietly to myself. This woke M up and he asked what was going on. I said something along the lines of thinking that something was starting and he asked what I meant. I got back in bed and had a few contractions in the space of the next half an hour or so. I became more uncomfortable and became more certain that something was happening. I ended up on all fours with a pillow on the landing at one point. M was panicking a bit because it seemed really quite intense quite quickly. I began to curse M. I phoned the hospital who said to ring back when the contractions were three in ten minutes.

We decide that M would go to work. He was pacing about a bit and was even doing hoovering at 6:30am. I rang my dad at 7:00am and told him that I thought I was in labour and asked him to come round later on. M put on Absolute Radio on the Sky box and it stayed on this all day. Before he leaves for work I had a little cry and I made him kiss the bump, just in case the baby arrives without him there.

By 8am the contractions were about 5-6 minutes apart and 30-40 seconds long. I had a bath and even managed to shave my legs, some of my bikini line (that I could reach!) and my underarms. I started to cope much better and thought that they were slowing down a bit. I was able to snooze a bit in between contractions. I also began to think about how I should cancel my work’s leaving meal which was supposed to be happening at 4:30pm that night.

The post arrived and it was a little photo book from M's mum with photos from his birth in. He looked so cute and I spent ages looking at it, wondering if our baby would look like that.

I managed to take a final bump shot:

I text my dad asking him to come at 9:30am ish. By 11:30am the contractions are about every 7 minutes and dad is just sitting in the corner drinking coffee and snoozing. We’re not really talking. In between contractions I felt hungry but during them I felt sick! Dad made me some brown toast though which I managed to eat.

At 12:00pm it felt like I had constipation and was not at all like I expected contractions to feel like. I still felt ok though and sent my dad home. M was due home at about 5:30pm. I had another bath and lost more plug. Whilst in the bath (and thankfully between contractions), my colleague rang and we cancelled the meal. She knew I was having contractions so I didn’t need to make up another excuse. I got too hot in the bath and went and lay on the bed at about 1:30pm where I started to think that the contractions were stronger.

At 2:05pm it was really knacking and I was beginning to make noise. I started to think about getting M. I text him asking him to miss his piano lesson and come home at 4:00pm after orchestra. Five minutes later I text him again asking him to miss orchestra and come home at 3:00pm. Two minutes later I rang school and got them to get M. The cover organiser appeared at his door and told him to come home. During this time I threw up and started to panic a bit.

When M got home I told him we were going to hospital and that the contractions were about 3 minutes apart. He started to put stuff in the car and I phoned the hospital but it was engaged the first five times I tried. Eventually I got through and the midwife said to come down but that they might send me back home again.
We got in the car and I had my first contraction about a mile away from the house. M started the next track on the Coldplay CD with each contraction so that we could time them. They were less than three minutes. We were driving down the bypass about 3 miles from home when M said “it’s ok, we’re nearly there”. I about lynched him because we still had 20 minutes of car journey left. I continued to contract as we drove through school traffic and lots of passers-by, where I was concerned that people could see me during contractions.

I started to get really uncomfortable. Contracting in the car was awful and I was really noisy. The contractions were about two and a half minutes apart. We arrived at the hospital and I timed it so that we left the car just after a contraction but I still had another on the way in outside the labour ward and was quite embarrassed as it was obvious that I was contracting and there were loads of people about (including pregnant smokers which I still managed to comment on, despite the pain!). We got to the maternity assessment unit and they weren’t expecting me it seemed. She asked how far apart my contractions were and I said that they were about two and a half minutes to which she said “oh right!”. We went to the waiting room and there was a couple in there and they looked nervous – she didn’t have a bump so I presumed that there was a problem as this is where we came when I thought I was bleeding. I had a contraction in the waiting room and then the midwife called me to talk to her. In the corridor I had another contraction and had to stand still on my own til it passed, with the midwives talking to me the whole time.

They then informed us that there wasn’t an available room for an examination so they were sending us to delivery to be examined. Upon arrival we were the only ones there and we were put into a really small room (we later think that this is because they thought that they’d send me home). The midwife introduced herself as Karen and she had a student, Rachel, with her. I was examined at 4:30 and I was found to be 5-6cm dilated which surprised me and made me really happy! I couldn’t believe I’d got to that stage on my own and wasn’t going to be sent home. Rachel was supposed to examine me after Karen but Karen said not to so I said “Rachel, aren’t you going to try?”. Karen replied with “Are you sure? You found it uncomfortable being examined!” So I said how Rachel had to learn some time and that we were teachers and understood the importance of learning! They were really surprised that I was so willing! Rachel didn’t really go as far as Karen so didn’t hurt me much at all. It was at this point when M said “well we’re not going to have that game of travel scrabble are we?” (We’d packed it in case I was induced or something and we got bored!). I burst out laughing and didn’t stop for ages, which they all found hilarious – that gas and air was good stuff!

When they’d gone I told M that I wanted Rachel to do the examination because that’s what my mum was like. She always insisted on letting students have a go at everything as they had to learn (she had loads of students with our birth because it was a multiple birth). I shed a bit of a tear and M stroked my hair. I sent him out to the car to fetch the bags now we knew we were staying!

I put on my nighty and sat on the birthing ball, bouncing away. I must have sat on the ball for a good couple of hours, puffing away on the gas and air and talking to the midwives. I remember telling Rachel that it felt like someone was “shoving something up my arse”...! Apart from that though I didn’t swear at all (except when they weren’t there!). I bounced on the ball and M rubbed my back with lavender oil and Karen showed him a technique to help. We stayed like that for ages. One of the midwives on shift was a parent of a child in M's form and she came to say hello which was nice as she ended up looking after me the following day. During this time the midwives checked his heartbeat very regularly, scaring me somewhat with the student not being able to find it quickly and also with the Doppler being crap, to the extent that they got a new one. They were really reassuring the whole time and were fully aware of my anxieties with the birth and of something happening to the baby.

At 7pm it was shift change and we were introduced to a new midwife called Laura who was blond, not that I actually looked at her for about two hours! I started to struggle with the pain and was asking for Meptid injection. She said that she was going to examine me at 8:30pm and see how far I was before seeing if I could have the drug. She talked me into having a hot bath and that was the best thing ever! The bath had lavender oil in and it really relaxed me. I was completely naked and wasn’t bothered. M did offer to get my bikini top but I really couldn’t have cared less. I had the gas in the bath and managed to stay there until I was examined at 8:30pm.

When I was examined I was 7cm and I was very disappointed and began asking for the drug again because I said I couldn’t cope with this pain if it was going to be that slow progression-wise. Laura told me to get back in the bath and she’d talk to her supervisor about progression and when to examine me again. She came back and said that she was going to examine me again in two hours despite her supervisor advising her to wait until three hours. The bath wasn’t as effective now but I think that’s because the contractions were much more intense. Whilst in the bath I felt like I was doing a big poo and kept grabbing at my nether regions as if to hold it all in. This happened a few times and I made a bit of a guttural noise. I said again that it was too intense and I needed some help (for what it’s worth I didn’t actually want to have drugs, I just couldn’t see a way through the pain for endless more hours. And after each contraction I was glad I didn’t have drugs). I also felt a really small gush and told the midwife that I wasn’t sure if I’d just weed in the bath. She decided to get me out to examine me and then she could assess and weigh me if I still wanted the meptid. It was around now that I noticed that she was pregnant herself (25 weeks!). I hadn’t even really looked at her before now.

I got on the bed and was examined – this was about 9:40pm I think (though it could have been much earlier or later!). She said that I was 9cm and had just a lip of cervix left! I was in shock quite a lot. She also said that she thought my waters would go with my next contraction. Sure enough they did, all over the bed and the midwife (in her hair she said!). I was shocked at how much there was and how warm it was (why I’d expected it to be cold I had no idea!). I started to feel like my body was pushing even more and I didn’t like it at all. I rolled on to my side and the midwife said I needed to get off the bed so that they could change the sheets as I’d get really cold if I stayed there wet for hours. I complained and said I couldn’t move and Matthew told me forcefully to get off so I did slowly. As I stood up I turned and rested on the bed and had another couple of contractions which were so intense and my body was pushing and I tried to resist until they told me not to. I just wasn’t sure I was allowed to push since I was only 9cm dilated. The midwife told me to go with it and let my body push. I did and she said that she’d soon be able to see the baby’s head. I asked if it was crowning and apparently she and M exchanged glances as if to say “not yet pet, you’ve got a long way to go!”. I fell to my knees and the midwife said I needed to lift up so she could put a pillow there. She told me I’d have to open my legs is I was going to give birth at which point I told her I couldn’t and she told me I had to. M grabbed and moved my legs apart and it did feel better. More water gushed out with each contraction and I was making such a mess. I remember saying to M how it felt bizarre, that I couldn’t believe it was me in labour and that it was like an out of body experience. I felt the need to push and so I did and this sound escaped me, like nothing I’d heard before: a guttural groaning sound that was cave-woman style. I was surprised that it was coming from me. The midwife and M told me to stop making it as it would make pushing more efficient so I did and I noticed the difference straight away and really went for it. I felt his head descend and commented how it was the weirdest feeling ever. The next contraction came and I pushed again and felt the burning and knew I was quite close. I wasn’t prepared for just how close it was. The midwife asked M to press the buzzer for the second midwife to come and assist. Then he slipped out, all in one go, head then body. The midwife caught him and he cried instantly just as the second midwife arrived. I heard the cry and thought “eh? There’s a baby crying. Oh my god my baby’s crying”. I was in shock that he was there! She passed the baby through my legs (or rather I actually grabbed him according to M!) and she told me that the cord was short so to be careful. I sat on my legs and held the baby to my tummy crying “oh my god, I’ve done it, oh!”. M cried (not that I could see as I had lost my glasses somewhere along the way). After a little while I realised that we didn’t know if the baby was a boy or a girl. All along I’d wanted M to tell me but for some reason I took over and just looked. I figured that if I showed him I’d still see first because the cord was short and he was still attached and facing me. I shouted “it’s a boy!”. I was genuinely shocked; I really thought he’d be a girl! M cut the cord once it stopped pulsating and we got on the bed. They asked if I wanted the injection for the placenta now and I said yes. They normally do it earlier but they knew that I was very anxious throughout. Surprisingly I flinched at the injection going in and felt like a right wally after all the pain I’d just gone through. The placenta came and it coming out was actually rather pleasurable or satisfying (?!). I asked to see it and she showed me it all and explained which bit was which.

I cuddled up to my boy and could not believe that he’d just come out of me. Incredible! He looked so much like Matthew it was unreal; exactly like the pictures I'd been looking at just that morning.

After about an hour they came to take me to stitching. It was nice because I actually got to look at the midwife in the face and we had a nice chat between my legs. I had a second degree tear, a labial tear and also lots of labial grazes. Being stitched wasn’t that bad really. The worst bit was the hips that locked as we tried to get them out of the stirrups. We’d left Stanley with M and he hadn’t cried the whole time we were away, which was about fifty minutes. We then made our phone calls and sent our text messages and I had a bath.

After some tea and toast (which was the nicest thing ever) we tried to get some sleep which I found impossible. I just kept staring at my little boy in his bassinet. He slept constantly that night and pretty much all day the next day. M slept really well and didn’t even notice that the midwife and I had a chat and put the light on and 4am!

The next day dad came to visit with his girlfriend at 12:00pm ish and it was lovely seeing him with Stanley. We came home at about 2:00pm and just stared at our boy in his car seat. The following few days we just stared and cried at how perfect and amazing he is. We have been so emotional and can’t believe how lucky we are, that we made him (with help!) and that he is actually ours to keep forever. I am so proud of how I grew him, of how I gave birth to him. It feels awesome and I love him so much.

Welcome to the world Stanley Peter!

Thursday, 8 March 2012

38 weeks and a day

Meaning that there are only 13 days until my due date, the date that has been etched on my mind for nine months now.

Last week's midwife appointment was exciting in that she told me that the baby is 3/5 engaged. I thought he/she must be because my heartburn was a lot less than it had been. I next see her on Tuesday when I'll be 38+6, then after that I'll be on to weekly appointments! this can only mean that things are scarily close!

How do I feel? Impatient, a bit scared, very excited.  How's M feeling? Pretty much the same! Every time I wince at a pain (i.e. a baby headbutting cervix pain or hip pain) he looks all concerned and does a few deep breaths!

Full term bump:

38 weeks:

What am I worried about? Visitors, feeling overwhelmed by it all, not knowing when or how it's all going to happen.  But these worries are mild; normal mum-to-be anxieties.  I actually feel like I am normal.  In fact, I had my last CBT last week and it was great! I just walked out and was happy.  My earlier pregnancy worries have vanished, and while my personality dictates that I will always have a bit of anxiety, the excessive worries I had have gone.  In fact, I'd forgotten the extent of them until I looked at the stuff that he'd noted down early on at the first appointments (November I think).  He even showed a graph of how I'd been rating things every time - a nice downward stepping pattern to virtually negligible anxiety at the last time.  I had forgotten how worried I was that ICSI meant he/she may have abnormalities.  I had forgotten how I couldn't switch off my brain and followed and chased thoughts about delivering early and having the baby not survive and how I would back up these chased thoughts with images in my head.  So my worries now about too many visitors, although not insignificant, are mind-numbingly boring worries in comparison.  And, above all, completely NORMAL.  I like the word normal.

I've been thinking about what kind of mum I'll make.   But then I'm reminded that I had the best teacher for motherhood, the best teachers for parenthood.  They taught me what being a parent should be like and, while I'll never claim to be perfect just as they didn't, I have had the best guidance to what being a parent is about; the best experiences to back it up.  I know that a lot of people can't say that.

I know mum would be so sad that she isn't here now; it saddens me too.  But it serves as a comfort to me (and would be to her if I could tell her) that she has taught me and shown me everything that I need to know already.  I'll always have questions for her, who wouldn't?  But, I know that I can hear her voice if I think hard enough.  I don't actually have to think that hard. I can think of how she would advise me, what she would say and I don't think I would be far wrong if she could tell me these things herself.  Her grandchild will get to know her through me (and his/her auntie) through all the funny stories we will share and because of the way we were parented; a way that was perfect for us, for our family.

This week I have been busy.  On Monday I was disappointed that I couldn't initiate my nesting instinct.  I knew I wanted to deep-clean the kitchen.  I had hope that I would suddenly be all "ooooo cleaning I can't wait!" when it clicked to Monday. It didn't happen.  Still, I managed to pluck up enough enthusiasm to do it and I ended up spending 2-3 hours cleaning.  I decided to go into town afterwards but as I was ambling along the high street I suddenly hit this wall of pain and tiredness.  I managed to hobble to the bank and then did the supermarket shopping.  M wanted to meet me in town but I really couldn't face it and so he saw me at home, stuck to the sofa, having found a pot of pasta sauce on the drive which I must have dropped in my haste to get the shopping inside so I could crash.

When he came in he gently told me off, as did my dad when I spoke to him later.  "You're supposed to be resting and taking it easy!".  I know, I know.  But sitting doing not a lot has never been me and, as I said to both of them, I felt fine at the time.  I never thought that I would pay for it later. But it has made me realise that, despite what they tell you about getting on all fours and scrubbing skirting boards being good for labour and baby's position, I really do have to pace myself.  I can't do as much now.  Having never been restricted movement-wise in my life before it's quite difficult to remember that I can't do certain things.  So, having had plans for Tuesday (seeing my bump buddy friend who's due on Saturday) and Wednesday (meeting the grandparents and cousin for lunch and shopping) I decided that today would be a lazy day.  It's really hard being lazy for me. I actually have felt guilty about it, spotting things to do! I have to admit I did put washing on, did put my clean clothes away, and did the last of the baby clothes ironing (for the last time I promise!).  We do have plans for tonight though!

Tonight is our tour of the hospital maternity suite.  On the 10th of March last year we had our IVF information session at the same hospital. So 364 days later ('cos it's been a leap year) we are having another information session but from the opposite perspective.  Unbelievable. Amazing! How things's can change in a year.

I've been thinking about this a lot - how things can change I mean. My friend who I saw on Tuesday gave me a book written by one of her best friends who would've been our age who died aged 22 of cancer.  Reading it I was so inspired by her and her positivity and I feel like I really got to know her.  She wrote about how you can measure a year and quoted the song from the musical Rent, Seasons of Love:

Five hundrend twenty five thousand 
six hundred minutes
Five hundrend twenty five thousand 
moments so dear
Five hundrend twenty five thousand 
six hundred minutes
How do you measure, measure a year

In daylight, in sunsets, in midnights, 
in cups of coffee, In inches, in miles
in laughter in strife,

In Five hundrend twenty five thousand 
six hundred minutes
How do you measure a year in the life?

Since then I have had this song as a kind-of ear-worm, constantly bobbing up from time to time. It reminds me of the last year, of what we have achieved.  How would I measure the last year?

Some of the ways I have measured the last year of my life have included by counting injections, pills, medicines, days in hospital, days to go, days to wait, symptoms.  For what? What purpose does my counting have after all? To outline just what a rough time I had?  I'm not going to deny that it was rough, it was horrible, and it was and is still the biggest and scariest thing that I have ever had to endure.  But, that's it. It's almost over now (or just beginning!) and I have (or nearly have) all that I have ever dreamed of.

I went through 'all' of that.  A few short months.   Compared to the person who put that song into my head it is nothing. Nothing at all.  It made me think of mum, of course. Of what she endured.  How she never moaned even on her darkest of days.  She was inspirational, too.

I'm no inspiration.  I'm not special.  I'm just a normal girl who (selfishly?) wanted a baby and who has (almost) got one.  These people, who endure illness forever, for the rest of their days, who suffer indescribably, do they moan?  I've found that they are (generally speaking) happy people, people who are grateful for all they have, all they have done and seen, and all they are.  They don't pity themselves.

I should measure my year in those moments where you just 'be' and savour things.  Measure it in smiles, in laughs, in cuddles, even in copious amounts of cat-fluff that appear from nowhere after I've just swept the floor.  Measure it in the kicks I feel in my tummy, even measure it in the few stretch marks that have started to appear.  I don't mind these stretchmarks.  They're nothing.  They're not scars of pain or cancer, they're the marks of mummy-hood; marks for which I am grateful as I got what I wanted, what I needed, when so many people's scars are true scars. I could measure my year in the friendships I've nurtured and grown, in the children whom I've taught, who've said "I get it, Miss!", not in the number of detentions I have given out or the reports I've completed.  I should measure it in the number of thank you and good luck cards I have received, the number of presents, both for me and the baby - symbols of how lucky and loved we are.

I know that what I have been through isn't insignificant.  It certainly hasn't been from our perspective and I think it would bother me if I or others thought it was.  Infertility does leave scars too.  Yet, now those scars may start to heal and we are coming out of the other side, the lucky ones. The incredibly lucky ones. The ones for whom it worked, who get to take home a baby at the end.  Our nightmare is over.

I am the happiest I've ever been since those naive days of childhood when my sister and I used to play mummies with our black baby-dolls given by grandma, with their short afro hair and knitted outfits, making them cots from cardboard boxes and copious amounts of sellotape.  I am happy, albeit tainted with the loss of my mum, but still happy because she would be happy. She would want us to be happy more than she would want anything else.

So, now, every time I see another pile of cat fluff, I will be grateful. Grateful that it's there at all, that I am here, now, only having to worry about cat fluff.  Not worrying that I'll never be a mummy or that I'll even live another year. I feel inspired to seize every moment, just as these inspirational people have done. How would you measure your year?