I am starting a blog!!! I thought it would be a good time to do it – coinciding nicely with the us announcing that our third baby is due in April 2012.  Yes, nuts, bonkers, crackers… I might never have a social life again…  Ava will just have turned 4 and Seren will only be 22 months.  Eeeek!!  It’s going to be a whole new parenting experience… 2 non-walkers, a double buggy and WE’RE GOING TO NEED A BIGGER CAR!!  But how on earth could we resist?  We make some cute kids!

Ava aged 3.5yrs & Seren aged 14mths

This is definitely going to be our last though… well I am pretty sure it is!

So, I am going to spend some time going over my musings during the duration of this blog – not too often though and certainly not every day.

I guess I ought to start with a little bit about my big girl Ava.  She wasn’t an “accident” as such, just a lovely unexpected big surprise!!  We were planning on having children one day, but Ava just came along a bit sooner than we had anticipated.  We had only been married a matter of months when I found out I was pregnant.

Ava in 4d

Ava was dragged into the world on the 23rd March 2008 and marked the start of our parenting journey.  It was a baptism of fire to be honest – boy was she ill in her first year.  Very ill.  In and out of hospital, she had a lumbar puncture at 3 days old and again at 3 months old when she contracted viral meningitis.  She got every tummy bug and infection known to man in the first 12-15 months of her life and spent the first week being tube fed due to feeding/latching issues.  We never thought she wouldn’t breastfeed and hadn’t bought and bottles etc, so to be told that she couldn’t was a terrible blow.  I embarked on a 3 month “expressing” mission to make sure she still got breastmilk, but it is not a method I would recommend.  It was totally impractical, physically draining and a complete tie.  Looking back now, I understand what the doctors meant when they said they were taking blood to check her chromosomes after she was born – they were checking for Down’s syndrome.  At the time, it meant nothing to me and I just wanted to know what was wrong with my baby.  As it happens, she tested chromosomally normal and she is now a bright thriving 3 and a half year old.  She is not a sickly child now (thankfully) and she is a total delight.  A polite charming, caring little girl. She has her moments, which 3 year old doesn’t?!

We decided we wanted to add to our family when Ava was one.  We were lucky to fall pregnant quite quickly, but sadly the pregnancy ended in miscarriage.  An unpleasant time, but there isn’t a lot I want say about that.  We found ourselves staring at another positive pregnancy test only a month later.  We were overjoyed.  Unlike my pregnancy with Ava, I felt horribly ill in the first weeks.  I wasn’t actually being sick, but I felt so ill I had to often lie on the floor while Ava played around me.  I struggled and felt like I was being poisoned.  I could taste metal in my mouth, I could smell electricity the whole time and I felt like I had acid running through my veins.  I felt so strongly that something was wrong, but when I discussed it with people was just told “oh that’s normal, I had that too” but I KNEW something was amiss.  I couldn’t put my finger on it.  We went for the nuchal scan at 12 weeks and the sonographer was disinterested in us at best “baby is in the wrong position” she said, but we didn’t mind.  We were just so thankful that the baby was in there, with a tiny little beating heart.  At 16 weeks I had the routine Triple Test blood test which is carried out if the nuchal scan wasn’t done.  Then on a Tuesday at 18 weeks, I got the phonecall which effectively changed our lives forever; my triple test had come back as high risk for Down’s syndrome.  A light went on in my head and I KNEW that was it.  I was automatically booked in for an amnio on the Thursday and it took some explaining to the lady on the phone that I would not be having the test.  Matt was in agreement.  Our baby was our baby and we would not terminate so we felt it pointless to have such an invasive test.  Added to the fact that there was a risk of miscarriage, we just weren’t prepared to take the risk.  Now I feel I have to add here that I am not against testing.  In fact the opposite is true – I am all for testing and testing as much as any one family feels they need to or want to.  I truly wish I could do it because knowing would be nice, but it’s just something that frightens me to the core.  I know it would probably cause me to miscarry and I couldn’t live with myself if I did.  We waited with baited breath for our 20 week scan 2 weeks later as we knew that would show up anomalies if there were any – other than Down’s syndrome, this scan can identify other more serious chromosomal abnormalities.  I daresay if we had had some indication at this scan that there was something more serious at play, we might have decided to have the amnio, but there wasn’t.  It showed no fetal abnormalities and I was so very grateful that our baby appeared to be healthy.  Yet still, I knew something was not right.  I kept telling everyone who would listen that “my baby just doesn’t move much” (Seren barely moved when I was pregnant with her) or “we had a high risk triple test, but we didn’t have the amnio because we wouldn’t terminate for Down’s syndrome” and in hindsight I think I was trying to prepare everyone.  I read all the information I could find on Down’s syndrome and prepared myself for the arrival of my baby.  I tried my hardest to get Matt to do the same but he thought I was bonkers and just kept saying that everything would be fine.  Of course it would be, but our baby did have the extra chromosome I thought she would have.

Seren in 4d

When Seren was born, I saw straight away that she had Down’s syndrome and she displayed every single physical marker so the midwife and the paediatricians were able to give us a positive clinical diagnosis of Down’s syndrome within minutes of her birth.  Matt was very shocked and cried for a few hours… added to the fact that I had to be taken into theatre because I was haemorrhaging, and it made for a pretty gruesome time for him.  It honestly took him less than 24 hours to get to the calm place that I had found during pregnancy.  The blood tests were just a formality, carried out days later… and sure enough, Trisomy 21.

There’s not a great deal to say about her first year of life… she has been pretty well over all and breastfed like a dream until she was almost 10 months old when she decided she’d had enough and rejected me.  She is delayed, of course she is, but she is hitting every milestone in her own time.  She sat up at about 9 months, was able to get from lieing to sitting at 12.5 months, began crawling at 13.5 months and is beginning to pull herself up on things now.  She is a feisty determined little girl and she makes us very, very proud every day.  Ava is a wonderful big sister and provides Seren with the friendship and motivation she needs to develop.  They are brilliant together.

Both of our girls are utterly perfect to us.  I can’t even put in to words how much better my life has got since having children.  I wonder what on earth the point was of existing before them!!  Seren has added a new dimension to our lives too and I am going to try and explain in future posts how she has done that… having her in my life is like having a strange epiphany; everything is better, everything is more beautiful. I am grateful every day that I had Ava to teach me how to be a mum first, loving unconditionally and now Seren to teach me how to be a better person.

Ava & Seren

So now on to baby #3!! It took me a while to convince Matt that we should go for a third, but he came round to the idea!!  Our decision making process was different this time – not just “can we handle another baby” but “can we handle another baby with Down’s syndrome”.  By “handle” I mean financially, emotionally, physically… we decided that we could, and so here we are!!  We have had a fantastic service from the John Radcliffe hospital.  We had a dating scan at 8 weeks and then more recently (yesterday!) we had our 12 week scan including the nuchal and combined blood test.  This screen is far more accurate than the 16 week Triple Test blood test on its own and will give us our “chance” of having another baby with Down’s syndrome.  I hate the word “risk”, it makes it sound like such a negative thing, but for us it isn’t.  We decided that we would have this screen because it is non-invasive and we are nosey!  We are waiting on the results and I imagine we are going to come back as a chance of 1 in less than 100.  We will wait and see.  The consultant who saw us offered us an amnio, but what’s the point? At this stage there are no anomalies showing and we haven’t had the blood results so it would be purely because we wanted to have a definite answer and again I am unwilling to risk the pregnancy for our curiosity!! I think our decision making process would be altered if something hiddeous showed up on our next scan, but we will cross that bridge when we come to it.  There are much much worse things than Down’s syndrome.  We are getting an extra scan at 16 weeks to look for markers and discuss options.  I am so grateful for this extra scan – like any mum I am keen to make sure that our baby is ok in there.  Our nuchal measurement yesterday was 1.8mm which is well within the normal range – but we need the blood test results to calcualte what that actually means in correlation to the stuff in my blood.  Just in case I haven’t made it abundantly clear – this is a very wanted baby and Down’s syndrome or not, will be a welcome addition to our family.  I am so very lucky that I have such a supportive family and friends – I know this baby will be just as welcomed as Seren was.

Ok enough for now.  Anyone would think I have time to sit writing blogs!!