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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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Not long left…

There’s no doubt pregnancy is a beautiful and miraculous thing, and there’s a lot to be said about bringing another life into the world. Yes it’s a magical time, but here’s also moments when you just want to scream “GET OUT OF ME YOU LITTLE SOD!!”

I have to admit, as I’m nearing the end of this pregnancy, I’m feeling quite bittersweet about it. We’ve decided that this will be our second and last baby, so this will (hopefully) be my last pregnancy and, while there’s some things I’ll miss about being pregnant, there’s no denying I also wish I could turn the clock forward a few weeks towards my due date!

Here’s a few things I’ll miss about being pregnant, and some things I definitely won’t…

  • Little baby kicks – there’s no nicer feeling for me than feeling my baby wriggling around inside my belly. In those moments, it feels like we’re the only two people in the world and we’re sharing a little moment, especially when the baby responds to our voices. Isla loves kissing my belly and enjoys blowing raspberries on my tummy to get him/her to move, and I love that baby responds to her as well.
  • The nice comments – I know it’s a bit egotistical, but people definitely are nicer to you when you’re pregnant and I’ll admit, part of me actually likes the attention sometimes. And people definitely treat you with kid gloves – open doors for you, pick things up off the floor when you drop them (which I’m very grateful for!) and offer to bring you drinks if you’ve (finally) made yourself comfortable and don’t want to move for a while. Nice!
  • Knowing you’re bringing a new life into the world – yes it’s soppy, but the miracle of life does amaze me. The growing of a baby and birthing from it fills me with wonder, what our bodies can do to create a new life is incredible.

What won’t I miss? Well….

  • The aches and pains – yes, growing a baby is wonderful, but the strain it puts on our bodies is bloody hard. I’ve really struggled with this pregnancy, especially with insomnia, back pain and sickness well past the 20 week mark. Now I’m 34 weeks, I can’t walk far at all before my belly and back start to hurt and I end up sweating like a heaving beast. Which leads me on to…
  • Being restricted – bless her, Isla is a really good girl and understands that mummy can’t do certain things because of the baby in her tummy, but I hate not being able to do things with her that I could earlier. For example, I love taking her to the park and swimming, but I can’t do these things on my own as I can’t lift her up or carry her – as I found out a couple of weeks ago when I took her to an adventure playground and she climbed up a slide and got stuck and I couldn’t get her down! Thankfully, another parent came to our rescue, but it frustrated me that I can’t be the parent I want to be to Isla , and won’t be able to for a while as I’ll be on Planet Newborn for a while.
  • The lack of sleep – yes, I know I should be getting used to not sleeping well, but juggling working full time (which includes 80 mile round trip of a commute) with an excitable toddler means I’m constantly shattered, yet I’m so uncomfortable with my aforementioned bad back and massive belly that I can’t sleep, plus the multiple trips to the loo all hours of the night. Fun.
  • Missing my favourite things – I know it’s only for 9 months, but who can honestly say they don’t miss having a glass of something naughty when they’re pregnant? And yes, without wanting to sound like I have a drink problem, I have missed not being able to have a Pimms or a glass of prosecco in this lovely weather. And I also love desserts like cheesecake and tiramisu, which are both off limits too. Hubs and I have got a bottle of our favourite wine chilling in the fridge ready for when I’m able to drink again!
  • The not-so-nice comments – yes, most people have been lovely and have told me how well I’m looking in this pregnancy, but there’s always the odd one comment that makes you feel like shit. “Ooooh yes you’re big all over with this one aren’t you?” was one, “Gosh you look very big and tired today dear” was another. Charming.

But hey, enough of my moaning. It’s all worth it in the end, and I can’t wait to meet our baby. Just wish he’d get a move on…

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The bump, the toddler, and me 🤢😴😃😡😭

So here we are, pregnancy number 2, and as this will be our second and final baby, I’m determined to enjoy this pregnancy.

Except it’s really bloody hard to enjoy this one so far…

When I was pregnant with Isla, I was tired all the time and was constantly sick, morning, noon and night, right up until 21 weeks. But at least I was able to rest a bit and didn’t have a toddler to chase after. Without wanting to sound whiny, this pregnancy is so much harder than my first.

I’ve got the crushing exhaustion and sickness as before, but there’s a huge variety of food and drink that triggers the sickness this time – spicy food, rich food, any hot drinks, dairy (even butter on toast or milk on cereal is a no-no) – and I’ve also been blessed with insomnia this time. Because I’m so tired, I’m asleep by 9pm most nights, which in turn then means I’m awake at 3/4am and can’t sleep for love nor money, so I’m exhausted by 8pm, and so the cycle continues.

Whether Hubs agrees with this or not is debatable, but I didn’t really have mood swings with my first pregnancy, but this time around, my moods have been up and down more than a whore’s drawers, as my mum would have said. It’s not fun.

The positives? This time my skin and hair are less greasy and my hair feels thicker, which I didn’t have first time around.

I’m also so excited that we’re completing our family, and despite the icky symptoms, I am loving being pregnant again. Being able to feel the baby wriggling inside me is a magical feeling.’

And the biggest positive? Isla is so excited to be a big sister. She kisses my bump and says hello to the baby all the time, and has been telling everyone that “mummy has a baby in her tummy”. Thankfully, she doesn’t seem to have a preference over whether she has a brother or sister, which is just as well since we’re not finding out what we’re having this time, but that’s another story…

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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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Things not to say to a pregnant lady

Pretty much as soon as we announced that we we having a baby, I’ve been deluged with “helpful” advice, comments about my weight and declarations of how hard our lives are about to become. Granted, who the comment comes from and how said comment was phrased has been met with different reactions. For example my friends calling me fatty is fine, because I was a trim size 8/10 BC (Before Child), but people I hardly know commenting on my weight is a big no-no. Certain things I feel you just shouldn’t say, and quite a few comments I had during my pregnancy rankled. Here’s just a few of my “favourites”

– “What will you DO if it’s twins?” (From a friend of a friend just before my 12 week scan…well, it’s not like I can send one back is it?!)

– “Wow, that’s a big bump! Are you sure you’re only 16 weeks?” (From a woman I met at a conference. No love, the midwives and doctors have got it wrong.)

This was bump at 16 weeks, it’s not that big is it?!

– “You’re definitely having a girl because your hips have spread” (well thank you wife-of-acquaintance-I’ve-met-once for your kind words, my self confidence about my growing body has just sky rocketed.)

– “You’re going to be breast feeding?! Good luck, it’s so hard, I had to give up at 2 weeks!“ (Well doesn’t that fill you with confidence! Thanks neighbour of my auntie)

– “You look really big and tired today!” (How kind of you to say friend-of-the-family, because that’s exactly how I feel. And now I feel twice as big.)

– “I had to be induced/have an episiotomy/Caesarian section/to be stitched from front to back. It was more painful than giving birth!” (Heard all of these from different people, which put the fear of Christ up me.)

– “”Don’t breastfeed, it’ll ruin your boobs forever!” (Absolutely, because that’s my number one priority, not my baby’s wellbeing.)

– “Oooh don’t eat that, you’ll never lose the weight when the baby’s born you know!” (Great, thanks. Take away the fun out of treating myself to some ice cream why don’t you?)

I wonder, have any of you other mummies had any similar comments that have hacked you off to? What is it about pregnancy that makes people think it’s ok to comment on your weight?!