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A bit about Group B Strep

What do the hand-held notes of a worrying pregnancy for a chronic worrier look like? This: 👇🏻

While I’m know I’m incredibly lucky that my notes haven’t been slapped with a big “high risk” sticker, like some of my friends, the journey behind these stickers have caused no end of panic and stress for someone who worries a lot, like me.

At 30 weeks, on May Bank Holiday, our normally very wriggly baby stopped moving. All day. I tried everything that he/she normally responds to, such as drinking water, lying on my left side, and even playing The Greatest Showman soundtrack (the kid has excellent taste in music!) but nothing. I was terrified and after a call to my antenatal unit, was told to come in and be monitored. Thankfully, and by sheer Sod’s law, baby started kicking up a storm as soon as we arrived and, feeling better, I was sent on my way.

Then, 6 days later, it happened again. This time, after being monitored and ascertaining that baby was fine, I was sent for a scan the next day to check cord blood flow and fluid around the baby. Thankfully, these also came back fine.

Then a week after the second period of reduced movement, baby stopped moving again. So back in I went for more monitoring and scans, which again all came back fine, and my midwife put it down to baby hiding behind my anterior placenta/being a contrary little sod.

Then not long after, my midwife rang to say that a routine urine test at my last appointment had shown I had Group B Strep. I didn’t know much about it except that it can be fatal to babies, so naturally I was terrified.

As it turns out, about 1 in 5 women carries Group B Strep, and it’s not normally picked up as it’s not routinely tested for on the NHS because it’s rarely a problem unless it is passed on to the baby. If it is, then it can cause sepsis, pneumonia, or worse.

Thankfully the doctors assured me that the important thing is that they know about it, so both me and baby will be protected as much as possible. I would just need intravenous antibiotics during labour, 4 hours apart, and baby would be monitored for around 24 hours after birth, and as long as we get at least one dose of antibiotics at least 2 hours before birth, there was just a 1 in 3,000 chance that baby would get it. But my anxieties haven’t stopped me worrying that our baby will be poorly, or worse, and because I’m the carrier, that it will be all my fault. I may have even had it with Isla, but as it comes and goes, I’ll never know.

But when I posted about GBS in one of my mummy Facebook groups, I had a huge amount of reassuring comments from other mums (over 70!) who all said they’d tested positive, had antibiotics, and both had been totally fine. It seems that the most important thing is that it’s picked up, so the doctors can treat it.

At least some good has come out of my worrying pregnancy – a good friend of mine has ordered a private test for Group B Strep (it’s not offered on the NHS) and as many of my friends had never even heard of it, it also feels good to be spreading the word about it.

It does beg the question though – if it can be life threatening for babies, why aren’t mums routinely screened for it? Mine was picked up in a standard urine test, so how hard could it be to just make it a routine check if it means babies’ lives are saved!?

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Boy? Girl? Boy? Girl?

The sex of our baby has been a hot topic ever since we announced we were having another back in March. The reason? I decided that as we found out the gender when I was pregnant with Isla, I really wanted a surprise this time and didn’t want to know. Hubs, on the other hand, didn’t want to wait and wanted to be as prepared as possible.

So at the 20 week scan, I shut my eyes while the sonographer showed Hubs what sex our baby is. 14 weeks later, he’s not told a soul – I’m really proud of him as I’m sure I wouldn’t be able to keep schtum! I’ve had a few moments of weakness where I’ve wanted to know, but just reminded myself that it’ll be a wonderful feeling to have the big reveal at the birth.

Having said that, I have wondered if there are ways to tell what we’re having. A quick Google search revealed so many old wives tales which apparently will allude to the baby’s gender. So I decided to give them a few of them a try…

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  • Wedding ring test – the legend goes that if you tie a thread around your wedding ring and hold it above your belly, the way it swings will tell you what you’re having. If it swings back and forth, it’s a girl; if it turns in circles, it’s a boy. I tried this and the ring swung very clearly back and forth. So this apparently means… Verdict: girl.
  • Dry skin? – apparently if your skin dries out during your pregnancy, it’s a boy. I can certainly attest to this one as I’ve been having to smother myself in Aveeno all over every day or my skin resembled a flapjack! Verdict: boy.
  • Pupils – the saying goes that if you stare into a mirror for a minute, if your pupils start to dilate, baby is a boy. I tried it and, as well as reminding me of all those times me and my cousin sat staring into mirrors trying to see ghosts when we were kids, nothing happened to my pupils. Verdict: girl.
  • Linea nigra – you know the lovely brown line that you get on your belly when you’re pregnant (I didn’t know it was called this either!)? Apparently, if the line extends over your navel, it’s a boy. If not, it’s a girl. The jury is out on this one because while it does stretch way past my navel, it did when I was pregnant with Isla too. Verdict: inconclusive.
  • Bump high or low? I’m sure every pregnant woman has had people stare at their bump and declare that as they’re carrying “all out in front” that it’s a boy, etc etc. So the theory is that if you carry baby all out front and quite low, it’s a boy, whereas if your bump is high and all around you, it’s a girl. I carried Isla quite high, almost all the way up to my bust, whereas this one has always been very low, all out in front, and I’ve been told you can’t even tell I’m pregnant from the back (😀) so on that basis: Verdict: boy.
  • Hair growth – supposedly boy babies also make your body hair grow thicker and faster too, whereas with girls, it stays the same. Without going into too much detail, I can’t say I’ve noticed any difference to be honest. Verdict: girl.
  • Baby’s heart rate: some midwives agree on this one, whereas others don’t (mine dismisses this one as nonsense). The thought is that if baby’s heart rate is below 140 beats per minutes, it’s a boy, whereas above 140 means it’s a girl. Every time I’ve heard baby’s heartbeat, it’s never once gone above 140, and has averaged between 100-120bpm. There’s also the thought that a girl’s heart rate sounds like galloping horses, whereas a boy’s sounds like a train, although this one is open to interpretation as when I asked my midwife at my most recent appointment, the trainee midwife and I both heard galloping horses, but my midwife heard a train. Hmmm… Verdict: inconclusive, possibly boy.
  • Looking good? – ever heard the saying that girls take your beauty? Well when I was pregnant with Isla, my hair was lank and greasy and my skin was so oily. This time around, my skin has never looked better and my hair is so glossy and thick. If this expression is anything to go by…Verdict: boy.
  • Chinese Gender Prediction Chart – this one has been popping up everywhere. According to this chart, the age of the mother and the month of conception determine the baby’s gender. So i was 30 when baby was conceived, and the conception occurred in November… Verdict: boy.

So what have we learned? Not a fat lot to be honest, although it was fun tying some of these theories! Ho hum, only 6 weeks til we find out for sure!

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Ding ding, round 2…

Remember how, pretty much 18 months ago, I said I wouldn’t be having any more kids because of how tough my first pregnancy was and blah blah blah?

Yeah, that didn’t last.

Roughly about 6 months after I published that blog post, I woke up one morning and just decided I desperately wanted another baby. Like, right now. All of the reasons I said to stay on just the one child went right out of the window.

So Hubs and I talked and decided that as we had problems conceiving Isla, we should probably get a move on if we wanted to try again, as my PCOS would probably have gotten worse over the past 3 years. So I made an appointment with the lovely gynaecologist who helped us conceive Isla (with the right medication you understand, no funny business…) and he put me on Clomid, as he did before, and we started trying in May last year.

Only this time, Round 2 proved to be more problematic. The first three cycles were unsuccessful, and the multiple negative pregnancy tests I took each month were incredibly disheartening. I went back to my gynaecologist for various tests which showed I was ovulating, so I was given three more cycles of clomid and it was just a case of “keep going.” I started using a fertility app to track my cycles and scrutinised any signs that I might be ovulating each month, putting ridiculous pressure on us to “get it right”.

Two more unsuccessful cycles followed, and by October, after I got my period at work and had a little cry in the office toilets, I was beginning to panic. I’d already read a lot of websites about secondary infertility (yes, I know…) and was so worried it wouldn’t happen for us. I know how lucky we are to already have our beautiful girl, but I felt like a failure for not being able to give her a brother or sister.

So in November, we decided to get Hubs’ swimmers tested, which meant that we’d have to “abstain” for a week before the test. This week happened to fall during my fertile period, so in my eyes, November was a write-off to try properly. Or was it…?

On December 1st, my period was a day late. And I knew. I just knew. Just as had happened with Isla, the second we stopped “trying”, it happened. It just goes to show that putting too much pressure on yourself only makes it harder. If you’re struggling to conceive, take a break from it and try to relax, and maybe, just maybe…

So here we are, 20 weeks along with baby number 2. And remember I was concerned that being pregnant and coping with crushing exhaustion and constant sickness while running after a toddler would be incredibly tough? I was right. This pregnancy is much tougher than my first! But more on that later, I’ve rambled on long enough here!

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I wish it was me

My baby girl isn’t a baby any more – she’ll be two next month and I can’t believe how much she’s changed in these past few months.

Her vocabulary is brilliant as her teachers at nursery have commented on many times, she’s putting together 3 or 4 word sentences and understands everything we say. She also repeats everything we say so we have to be so careful now! Isla is great with colours and numbers, even if she does tell us every colour we show her is red sometimes, and on her occasion her number sequence sometimes goes 1,2,3,5,8! She loves animals too and will happily tell us the right names and sounds of every animal we see.

Her social skills are pretty great too, she’s very friendly with anyone she sees and will shout “hello!” at anyone who stops to see her, and she’s really good at sharing her toys.

Honestly, this blog post isn’t just a brag about how proud I am of my beautiful, cheeky daughter. It’s about how sad I am that all the credit for my little girl’s development isn’t down to me, it’s down to the lovely ladies at her nursery.

As we work full time, Isla is in nursery from 8.15 to 5.30 Monday to Thursday and til 5 on Friday, and I’m well aware that all of her skills and development is due to the amazing care she receives at nurseryas they’re the ones who are with her full time. We do our best to offer her as much of a well-rounded and educational but fun environment when we’re together at home, but I’m well aware that her teachers at nursery have worked wonders with her, and I wish it was me.

As we don’t see much of her grandparents due to living so far away from our families, every time we see them they gush at how well she’s doing, and I feel bad that I can’t say I’m the one who’s taught her to count or that cows say “moooo”. I know I’d’ve done my best, but had I been a stay at home mum, I’m sure I wouldn’t have done as good a job with her as her teachers have.

And while I know it can’t be helped, as Hubs and I both have to work, I wish I could be the one to teach Isla her ABCs and 1,2,3s. I take my hat off to the lovely ladies at nursery for being so wonderful with my baby girl, or toddler as I now have! Gulp.

  • I’m delighted that this blog post was published on The Motherload! You can read it here…

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Trusting your instincts

If I ever had a piece of advice for new mums (not that you’d need any more as I’m sure everyone and  their dogs have had their two penneth by now!) it would be to always follow your instincts. If something doesn’t feel right to you, it probably isn’t.

This week Isla has been really off since Sunday, refusing her food and just not being herself. Then on Monday morning she started being sick and pretty much didn’t stop for two days. She couldn’t even keep water down and by Tuesday lunchtime, she was so weak and lethargic she wasn’t showing any interest in playing, reading, dancing, anything.  She just wanted to cuddle, which isn’t like her at all, she’s normally too busy, even when she’s poorly she still wants to play but this time, nothing.


We took her to the doctor who just said it was a viral bug and to keep an eye on her. But by Tuesday her temperature had gone up and I was worried sick, and when she threw up again, she brought up bile and what looked like coffee granules. I rang NHS 111, who just told us to take her back to the doctor, but I just knew that she needed more help. She was getting weaker, wasn’t interested in anything and wasn’t saying a word (we normally can’t shut her up!) – this wasn’t our daughter at all. I rang the GP back, but there were no doctors available for two hours so I took her straight to A&E instead. This photo was taken in that evening and look how poorly she looks.

The doctors there were brilliant and gave her a good check over, and it turned out her blood sugar was low and she was dehydrated, so we were taken by ambulance to another hospital 20 miles away where there was a paediatric ward. She was diagnosed with gastroenteritis and put on an IV drip with anti sickness drugs, and we stayed in over night while the fluids did their work.

The difference in her when she woke up was remarkable. She woke up and started singing to her favourite cuddly toy Piggy Wiggy as she normally does, and soon after she was demanding her drink and breakfast. Once she had scoffed down some cornflakes and toast, she was back to her old self, playing with her toys and colouring, chattering non stop!


We were discharged that afternoon and now we’re back home, slowly building her back up with plenty of water and bland food.

I’m so glad I listened to my guts, the doctors at the hospital and the ambulance crew said we’d done exactly the right thing as we know our daughter best, and if we’re worried, it’s normally for a good reason.

Morale of the story? If you’re worried in any way, if your little one isn’t themselves, or if something is amiss, definitely get them checked out. One of the lovely doctors said they’d much rather see a poorly child and be able to sort them out with Calpol or fluids than parents leave it too late and things to have deteriorated too much.

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Conceiving with PCOS

To be told that you may struggle to conceive and that you “shouldn’t leave it too long” to have a baby isn’t something any woman wants to hear.

But to be told that you “shouldn’t leave it too long” to start trying when you’ve been in a relationship for just over 6 months is just plain awkward.

I’ll take you back to October 2011, I was 24 and my boyfriend (now husband) and I had just got back from our first holiday when a routine ultrasound scan of my bladder to try and solve the mystery of why I was suffering from so many UTIs (which to this day, remains unsolved) revealed I had polycystic ovary syndrome. The symptoms had always been there (I had, on average, three periods a year that lasted weeks and were insanely heavy) but I hadn’t even thought about trying to get to the bottom of it, at the time my constant UTIs were the more pressing issue.

The consultant then said I shouldn’t leave it much more than a couple of years to try to conceive as the condition would only get worse over time.

So no pressure then…

I then had to go and discuss with my boyfriend that his new girlfriend was “reproductively challenged” to quote Sex and the City, and let’s face it, having THAT conversation so early on could very easily produce a man-shaped hole in the door.

Luckily Now-Hubs was great about it and suggested I get a second opinion, and I’m so glad I did. At this point, all I knew of PCOS was that women who had it really struggled to get pregnant, so all I could envisage were bleak years ahead of us with an endless stream of negative pregnancy tests.

But the wonderful consultant at our nearby Park Hospital not only reassured me that there were plenty of options for women with PCOS, but that the original doctor was irresponsible and out of line for telling me  to hurry up and have a baby when I might not be ready.

We discussed my options and decided to try me on fertility drug Clomid, which I had to take on days 5 to 9 of my cycle and would essentially make me ovulate, when we were ready to start trying. We decided we were ready to try in July 2014 and after the second cycle of Clomid, I took a pregnancy test on Christmas Day that year and it was positive!

My point is that PCOS doesn’t necessarily mean infertility. It might not be easy to conceive, but there are so many treatment options out there now, it’s absolutely not hopeless. If it worked for me, it can work for anyone – although my husband is convinced he’s just got super strong swimmers!!

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The Dreaded Pox

I haven’t been blogging for a while as it’s been so busy with one thing and another, the first of which I’m about to fill you in on…

We’d always hoped that Isla would catch chicken pox young as children cope with it better the younger they are apparently. So when the ladies at her nursery told me one Friday afternoon when I went to collect her that one of her little friends had been sent home that day with chicken pox, we fully anticipated that the time was near. She had been a bit off for about a week prior to this, being clingy when I dropped her off at nursery (normally she’s straight off playing with her friends and doesn’t give me a backward glance!) and had had a runny nose, which I’d put down to a combination of teething and a cold that Hubs and I had both had. And within two hours, it arrived.


When we were putting her to bed that night, I spotted some of the tell-tale spots on her back (see above). The next morning she was covered from head to toe, the worst was on her back and face (below).


So began a flurry of trips to the supermarket to buy calamine lotion and extra Calpol (Hubs) and phone calls to various relatives to find someone to look after Isla at home for the next five working days (me), as the ladies at nursery said she’d be contagious until all the spots had scabbed over, which usually took around six days.

Thankfully, both our bosses were very supportive and we made a plan that Hubs and I would each take two half-days off that week to look after her, while my mother-in-law would have her on the Tuesday and Wednesday and my dad the Friday, the final day of her containment.

So began the task of keeping our active, wriggly, always-going-at-100mph toddler cooped up at home. That weekend wasn’t so bad as we were able to at least let her loose in the garden as we had nice weather and we bought her a new counting toy to keep her interested for a while.

By Thursday she was getting restless, but luckily we were able to take her out for a short walk around the quieter streets in our village just in case she was still contagious, and needless to say she was getting bored being stuck at home with just mummy and/or daddy to play with!

We bathed her spots with calamine lotion morning and night and gave her calpol before bed if she was grizzly and in all, Isla coped so well with the pox. Aside from a runny nose and a slightly decreased appetite, she was fine in herself. She didn’t scratch once, she slept fine as usual and was still full of beans. Thankfully she was also very well behaved with my MIL and Dad, who hadn’t looked after a child alone since I was a baby! 

By Monday she was absolutely fine and ready to go back to nursery, like she’d never been away! I’m glad she had the chicken pox early and we all came through unscathed, so that’s one less thing to worry about for now!