Friday 29 April 2011

How deep is your love?

I finally managed to get a few hours sleep last night after two very restless, disturbed and alcohol-induced nights on Tuesday and Wednesday. It was a blessing and a curse though, as when I first awoke from my deep slumber I felt that everything was alright - and then a few minutes afterwards I remembered what had happened and the pain began to sink in again.

The level of ache and feeling of sadness I have in my heart for our lost baby surpasses anything I have felt before. I didn't know the body could hurt so much, the emotional pain run so deep, or the mind be so troubled. It's an insight perhaps into how much I will love a baby of ours that we do get to meet and cherish, if we are lucky enough to have a family one day. But that day is a long way off and the Boy and I have a lot to work through before then. At times I wonder how the Boy and I will survive this, but then I remind myself that we have to stay positive and that we can support and love each other through this. I don't know many people who I perceive to have relationships as strong as ours and I know if we keep being honest with each other we will make it out the other side of this in time. This tragedy is all too common and I know millions of people have survived this before us - and millions more will follow after us.

I've had some cramps and light bleeding today which is very upsetting - but in a way feels like a small relief. At least everything is happening as it should, which hopefully means that tomorrow will go as well as it can, and we can say goodbye to our first little dear baby in as peaceful a way as possible. I don't know how I will feel and how it will be - I don't want to fall apart, but I am pretty fragile at the moment and I know that could easily happen. I feel so proud of our baby that it clung on and lived for 13 weeks when everything was against it, and I want to show the same fight and character if I can, and make the baby proud of us in return. We've decided to make an entry in the hospital's memorial book if we can, and I may visit the hospital chapel to say goodbye if it feels appropriate or of any comfort. The Boy has also been in touch with the local church to find out about ways we can say goodbye there. I think we would both find this helpful.

While we go through our little tragedy, the world is obsessed with the Royal Wedding today. William and Kate got married at Westminster Abbey at 11am this morning. She looked very beautiful and it brought back such happy memories of our wedding day, which was the happiest day of my life and on a par with the day we found out we were pregnant. It was all incredible and I felt happy for them both. Being married to your soulmate is an incredible feeling which I wish everyone was able to experience.

However, I suspect in future when I hear about the Royal Wedding I will always be reminded of what a sad day it is today for me and the Boy, preparing to go into hospital tomorrow and go through the painful procedure of finally losing our baby. I'm trying to be brave but I am scared, and I know the Boy is too. Perhaps at least when I return home we can begin to grieve, say goodbye, and start to move on.

Thursday 28 April 2011

Goodbye Baby Beans

It's with a heavy heart and a huge sense of emptiness that I report that the Boy and I have sadly lost our baby. We had a scan on Tuesday which revealed our little peanut's heart had stopped beating, probably a day or two beforehand. The cliches trip off my tongue, I feel like my heart has been ripped out and the stuffing knocked out of me. I feel like I've been turned inside out and put back together differently. This disappointment has changed me and it feels like I'm looking at the world through different, darker, more fragile and vulnerable eyes.

It's very difficult to know what to write and where to start. I had a horrible nightmare on Monday night during which the sonographer told me she couldn't hear a heartbeat, which was pretty upsetting and I woke up early on Tuesday morning very agitated. I was very anxious about the appointment. My heart was pounding as we waited in the reception area to be called into the scan. I'm not sure if I knew subconsciously that something was wrong, or if it was just me worrying a lot as normal - I know I have held a lot of anxiety during the pregnancy thus far. But sadly for us, our darkets fears were realised and our baby is not to be this time.

The sonographer was very kind and gave us the news gently, as I reached for the Boy's hand and we both tried to take in those awful words "I'm sorry, I can't find a heartbeat". I think we both knew before she spoke though. The scan looked different to the last one and I felt her awkwardness. It's a very strange thing to have your worst fears realised, and to have the thing you dread the most - your most awful nightmare - transcend into reality. As the Boy and I's hopes drained away and we were overtaken by silent and muffled sobs, I couldn't begin to comprehend that this was actually happening to us. It's something I've dreaded since before we even tried to conceive, one of the saddest events I could forsee unfolding and unfortunately it was just as painful as I imagined. Everything changed for us in a matter of minutes - instead of excited expectant parents waiting to hear more about our baby, we were suddenly bereft. Grieving parents instead, mourning the loss of what might of been, and of a relationship with our baby we will never know, or experience.

It seems both my blood tests showed low hormone levels which indicate all was not well with the baby - so I suppose at least we have half a reason to cling to, which will hopefully stop us torturing ourselves about what we could or should have done differently in the difficult days ahead. The doctor explained that if the baby had survived I would have had to have been very closely monitored during the pregnancy as there would have been cause for concern. It seems the baby could have been badly disabled and there could have been some impossible decisions for the Boy and I further down the line. At least we have been spared that. The doctor also explained that while miscarriage is fairly common, it is much more rare this late on in pregnancy especially when we'd had such a positive and healthy scan only a few weeks ago and seen our little peanut and heard the heartbeat, so we have been very unlucky.

We were taken to a quiet room in the hospital and we spent quite some time together crying, talking and cuddling. We were there a few hours although now it feels like just a few minutes, it is all becoming a blur in my memory, a hazy fog I don't want to return to focus. I am reminded yet again how amazing the Boy is and what a wonderful partner I have, as he couldn't have given any more to the situation or been any more supportive to me. He cried, talked about his disappointment and dashed hopes, his sadness and how he felt, and he listened to me, held me and was there with me the whole way. We had to talk to a couple of nurses and some doctors about our options and it felt increasingly surreal - having come to the hospital to have our next routine scan, we were suddenly choosing how my missed miscarriage would be medically managed. It was all very emotional and I didn't feel like it was happening to us. It felt like I was watching a film screen flicker by and I was watching the characters suffer from afar like a soap opera.

The staff were all exceptionally kind and were very supportive. They helped us make the decision that we will manage the miscarriage through a dosage of pills. As the miscarriage is 13 weeks this will involve a short hospital stay for me. Our only other viable option was an operation under general anasthetic, but this comes with risks of damage to the womb which could impede future pregnancies, as well as the standard risks from having a GA. The process began today. I had to go in first thing and take a pill that will begin to relax my womb and its contents, and then I return on Saturday to take some pills that will encourage my womb to contract and pass the "conception matter" as they call it. My heart breaks just writing this down. I am scared about how Saturday will be as I have been warned there will be pain and mess and I am dreading feeling the contractions, but mostly I feel so numb and sad inside. I really wanted this baby and I loved it so much already. The Boy would have been an amazing father to it and I ache for the fact that 1st November will come and go this year, but there will be no baby. I feel devastated and lost that I will never meet him or her, never see which of us he or she looked like, and never know if he or she would have enjoyed art, football, reading or dance. We were a third of the way towards meeting our baby Beans and I was already overcome with excitement and hopes for the future.

But I have to stay strong, and while as a bereavement counsellor I know I must keep talking and keep being honest about my feelings and exploring them with the Boy and our (very strong) support network, I also want to stay positive. The Boy and I live a very blessed life and we have a lot to be thankful for. This is a dark time in our shared history, but it will pass. It will take time and space for us to work through what has happened, but we will get there, and I have every confidence we will be a closer and stronger couple for it. If it's possible I love the Boy even more after what we've been through these past 48 hours or so. He is more than one in a million and I absolutely treasure him. I couldn't be anything like the person I am without him by my side, and that's exactly where he'll be as this tragedy unfolds and develops.

It has been very difficult telling our friends and families, and at a point yesterday my eyes were so red and raw I wondered whether I had any more tears to cry. Everyone has been fantastic and so supportive. We've been overwhelmed with messages of love and care. We are surrounded by people who adore us and want the best for us, and that is a comfort in this difficult time. Again, I am reminded that we have much light and love in our life and that we have a lot to be thankful for. Our time as parents will hopefully come one day, and I'm sure this experience - torturous and upsetting as it is - will help us become better people for the future.

So, for now we have to begin to say goodbye to our baby. He or she will always be our first baby and I plan, when I am a little stronger, to make a little box with our pictures of the baby, and some cards we have been sent and have given each other. I'll never forget my first baby and I hope that he or she is somewhere safe and warm now, and that he or she didn't feel any pain, but knew that they were wanted and loved. This is for you baby Beans, may you sleep well little one...

I'll lend you for a little while a child of mine God said
For you to love the while he lives and mourn for when he's dead
It may be six or seven years or forty two or three
But will you 'til I call him back take care of him for Me
He'll bring his ways to gladden you and should his stay be brief
You'll always have his memories as a solace for your grief
I cannot promise he will stay as all from earth return
But there are lessons taught below that I want you all to learn
I've looked this whole world over in My search for students true
And from the folks that crown life's lane I have chosen you
Now will you give him all your love nor think labour vain
Nor hate Me when I come to take this lent child back again?
I fancied that I heard them say Dear Lord Thy Will be done
For all the joys Thy child will bring the risk of grief we'll run
We'll shelter him with tenderness we'll love him while we may
And just for having loved him forever grateful stay

Sunday 24 April 2011

The dawn treader...

Morning all. The starts seem to be getting earlier - 5.10am this morning. I'm starting to wonder if I might get more sleep when the baby arrives! I tried to get back off to sleep again, but while the body was willing the mind wasn't having it and was whirring into overtime mood (as usual) so I've decided to potter about a bit and then try and snooze when I've got some jobs out of the way. We're heading down to Kent to see my parents late morning and catch up on all their news, so there's a few bits I want to get done before we leave.

The Boy and I went out for a lovely anniversary meal last night to Silk - an Asian fusion restaurant attached to the Hilton by Regent Street. We had an amazing dinner and a perfect time. It was a really special night and both the Boy and I can't stop grinning from ear to ear at the moment. It's the same feeling as when we got engaged and then married - and we're both getting face ache again! It's as if telling everyone about the baby has let us relax, and now it's not a secret any more neither of us are holding anything like the amount of anxiety we were carrying with us before. While we're both a little nervous about our next scan on Tuesday, neither of us can wait to see our baby again, and we have a sense that everything will go as it's meant to be now.

My tiredness is still kicking in so I was ready to come home and collapse by 9.30pm. How times change! Party shoes have well and truly been hung up - and I'm actually loving that. The Boy and I both felt exhausted just looking at some young girls we passed on the way home in micro dresses and enormous heels just heading out for the evening. We've moved on from those days, and the Boy and I are both delighted that's the case - a reaction which caught me by surprise as we have both been complete party animals in our time, definitely the leaders of our groups on that front... first ones to a party and last ones dancing at 4am. I never thought I'd get bored of being out and socialising, but I think it's true what they say that you can grow out of it, and I am so ready for another dimension to our lives. I guess I have spent more than 15 years partying, which puts it into perspective somewhat! No wonder I've had enough and am ready for something new...

I'm hoping as we edge towards the second trimester the tiredness will ease up a bit. It's definitely been the hardest symptom for me to deal with so far. The nausea has been difficult but manageable, and I haven't really had any other issues as the metallic taste in my mouth and sore breasts only lasted about 24 hours. I'm someone who loves - in fact, needs - to be doing about five things at once, so to find myself sapped of the energy to even make a cup of tea has been quite difficult. Though also an eye opener. I've realised it is possible for me to do nothing and enjoy it, and I've come to understand that relaxing is actually quite nice and perhaps some jobs can wait and I don't have to be running around doing everything at once.

I picked up another pregnancy magazine yesterday, this time Mother & Baby. I'm still trying to find a pregnancy magazine that I feel speaks to me, and that I can really get on with. So far I've found them all as if they're aimed at someone else, with a few articles of interest but nothing that I can stick my teeth into from start to finish.

However there is one common theme with these mags. I find it completely bewildering how many different products there are to buy for babies - there seem to be every kind, type and colour of pushchairs on the market with functions I don't even understand let alone know if we need! And I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed about which moses basket, cot and changing table we should get - and that's before we get to all the smaller bits! I think I'm going to meet up with some of my mum friends over the next few months and pick their brains and get a shopping, or 'wish', list together of what we might need. I have a tendency to over fuss and over plan and, as much as I love a good shop, I don't want to buy lots of lovely things that we won't use.

Saturday 23 April 2011

Happy anniversary

The Boy and I are celebrating our first wedding anniversary today! Somehow it's a whole year since we stood up in St Nicolas Church in Bookham, Surrey, in front of our friends and family and pledged our commitment to each other.

It was the happiest day of my life. I was incredibly nervous waiting outside the church door to walk in, but as soon as I saw the Boy waiting at the altar and we exchanged loving glances and squeezed clammy hands, I felt like we were the only two in the room. The Boy has a way of making me feel like that. We could be surrounded by people in the busiest of crowds, but just one look from him and there's only us.

Friends have asked me if anything has changed between us since we've been married and I would say yes and no. No, because we're still the same people who do what we've always done, and who still want the same things as we always have. But yes, because now we're our own unit, our own family, and when it comes down to it, life is now predominantly about the two of us. We are each other and every day we become more inter twined, so it's hard to tell where one finishes and the other begins. Even more so now there is a baby Beans on the way.

I think I've gushed enough already in these pages previously about my sublime feelings for the Boy, so I'll save you from a repeat performance - suffice to say I'll be pinching myself today, as I do everyday, that I am married to the most fantastic, amazing, kind, honorable, handsome, loving and funny person I have ever had the pleasure of meeting in my life. Scrap getting that lottery ticket. I hit the jackpot a long time ago.

Thursday 21 April 2011

This time last year...

The Boy and I are swiftly approaching our first wedding anniversary - on Saturday, St George's Day, we will have been a Mr and a Mrs for a year. It's such a cliche but I can't believe the time has passed so quickly, although I am reaching the point where I can't really recall what life was like before I met the boy. I suppose they say 'time flies when you're having fun', and it's certainly been the best year of my life.

So many happy memories from the last 12 months jostle for pole position in the forefront of my mind, but I don't think we've ever been happier than we are now, with our baby on the way and a whole new kind of life together to look forward to. It still feels too good to be true to me, that I can be this happy and have everything I've ever wanted, but I'm starting to relax and enjoy it. It has been fantastic sharing the news with friends, family and colleagues who have all been so thrilled for us both and so supportive - and we get to tell a few more of our closest friends our news tonight as we are throwing a little anniversary party at Empire Towers for our nearest and dearest. I've dusted the flat from top to bottom and the fridge is full of champagne (only a glass or two for me!) so let the good times roll! There seems to be a lot to be happy and thankful just now - long may that continue...

I'm feeling a bit more back to normal again after another bout of nausea and tiredness towards the end of our trip to Venice. Now I'm tiptoeing towards 13 weeks the first trimester has passed already - we're a third of the way there, and well on our way to meeting our baby. Eek! I've started to wonder what he or she (I still very much feel like it's a boy) will look like - between you and me, for personal and selfish reasons I'm hoping it has it's father's small peanut head, rather than my huge bonce! I seem to be a bit better with food again as well, although large pieces of either fish or meat are still turning my stomach, as is the smell of food cooking. For that reason we've gone for a cold buffet of nibbles tonight. Not quite up to our usual hospitality standards, but I'm sure no one will notice once the champagne begins to go down.

The sun is still shining on London, and on us. Tonight is the start of a happy weekend of celebrations. Tomorrow we will picnic in the park and plan our anniversary trip to Rome, Saturday we have a Duck Tour of Greenwich planned in the afternoon before a special dinner at Silk, before a barbecue at my parents house in Sevenoaks on Easter Sunday. So much to look forward to and enjoy. I'm running out of fingers to count my blessings on.

Tuesday 19 April 2011

Cat's out the bag!

This morning I've had the pleasure of telling a few friends and colleagues our news, and it has been just brilliant. A really positive experience. Everyone has been absolutely lovely and really excited for us - and my colleagues hadn't guessed so I obviously hid my tiredness, sickness and not drinking a lot better than I thought! I'm even more excited to share the news with a couple of girl friends tonight, and at a gathering for our first wedding anniversary on Thursday. It feels a very happy time indeed.

Back in business

Greetings! It feels like an age since I updated my blog. We went to Venice last Tuesday and we had the most amazing time - a stunning, beautiful, unique place. It was the perfect location for the Boy's Mum's 60th and the weather was very kind to us, the sun shining down on us every day glistening on the canals. I really enjoying wandering around and losing myself in the place. Another piece of history waited for us at every street corner, and soaking up the rich atmosphere was blissful. It's a very romantic place, and I loved sharing the time with the Boy, strolling hand and hand down little cobbled streets or across beautiful bridges, and just occasionally catching each other's eye and smiling. It was a happy time.

We were supposed to come back on Friday, but due to a baggage handlers strike by ATA we weren't able to fly back until Monday afternoon - so the trip unexpectedly doubled in length! This development had its upsides as we got to take in day trips to Verona and Treviso, but there were downsides as the Boy's Mum missed a big 60th birthday party that she'd planned, I missed watching my beloved City beat long-time enemies Manchester United in the FA Cup semi final to secure a place in the final (City's first final in 30 years!) and we also missed our 12 week scan which should have been at 12 noon yesterday. But we've managed to get another appointment for next Tuesday morning for the nuchal scan and tests, so we haven't lost out too much we just have a slightly longer wait - and as we've had the normal scan we are going to start telling friends and family this week. It's my grandma's 91st birthday tomorrow (hope I have her genes!) and I've put a note in the card. Plus we have our anniversary party on Thursday so we can tell most of our good friends in person then.

It was exciting telling the Boy's family the news. The Boy had the great idea of putting a picture from our scan in an envelope, and giving it to his Mum as an 'early birthday present' while we had breakfast in Gatwick Airport. She was really thrilled and it's great they know and can share in our special news, and be part of our excitement. I've enjoyed it just being the Boy and I knowing, but it feels right to have the families involved now.

I find myself a little nervous about beginning to tell our friends. I feel a bit superstitious that the more people know, perhaps the more chance there is of something bad happening. But I know that's just me worrying and being silly. It's the right time to begin to confide in good friends - we'd rather do as much of this in person as we can, and as we are seeing lots of friends and family this week and over Easter it makes sense to do this now. Starting with drinks with a couple of girlfriends tonight in Chelmsford... I'll let you know how I get on!

Monday 11 April 2011

Hello baby!

Deep breath... we're back from the hospital, and we're over the moon because there is a little baby in my tummy! We were both very nervous as we went in for the scan but the (lovely) Australian sonographer Megan found the baby straight away. It was amazing to see the image of our baby on the screen, and to hear it's heart beating. 180 beats a minute - I suspect it's going to be something of a multi-tasker like its mother! It took me a moment to comprehend that the picture was of my baby - I'd been so fearful that something had gone wrong and that today would reveal a missed miscarriage.

It was such a relief to see the pictures and know that everything is going according to plan. The looks I shared with the Boy in the room were very special ones that I won't forget in a hurry. The only slight hiccup was that we're not as far along as we had originally thought - the doctor had worked out I was 12 weeks today, when actually I'm only 10 weeks six days. This means we have a new date, the rather brilliant date of 1 November - or 1/11/11. That appeals to my OCD side! And hopefully is a date the Boy should remember...

As we weren't 12 weeks the sonographer couldn't do the tests for chromosome disorders like down syndrome. So we have to go back next Monday for another scan, when they will team the information with the results of my blood tests and give us our odds of having a baby with disabilities or problems. In an ideal world it would have been great to get this wrapped up today, but I don't mind going back again in a week's time and getting another look at our baby! I can't wait to see him or her again.

The sonographer made us laugh at one point. She had a student in the room with her who was observing the appointments today, and while the sonographer was looking at the baby's heartbeat she said "and there's another one". The Boy and I both thought she meant there was another baby in there (!) but fortunately she was just saying to the student that my baby was too small for the tests as well, as the woman and baby before us had been, so the student wouldn't get to witness the nuchal testing process in this appointment either.

So, for now we can relax a bit. There's still a long way to go but everything is as it should be. It's fantastic to look at the print-outs of the pictures we bought at the scan and begin to fantasise about the little baby that is growing inside of me. And I'm so excited as tomorrow we go to Venice with the Boy's parents and his brother to celebrate the Boy's mum's 60th birthday, and when we get to the airport, the Boy can give her one of the pictures from the scan as an early birthday present. I can't wait to see her face...

Day of reckoning

And so we are here. I'm 12 weeks today and we have our first scan at St Thomas's Hospital at 2.30pm. I'm so glad the day has finally come round, although I am slightly terrified as well. I'm not sure I've ever been so excited and nervous all at once about anything in my life. I had hoped we would get confirmation at my booking appointment last week that all was progressing as it should be, but it wasn't to be, so today is the first day someone will try and hear our baby's heartbeat. This will let us know whether everything is progressing as it should be - and it goes without saying that I have everything crossed that it is. I can't recall ever wanting something to be ok as much as this... but whatever the outcome today the Boy and I are both ready to know.

I'm meeting the Boy at 2pm. From here until then still seems a long time, a final last lap of patience and calmness required. Luckily my kind boss has let me work at home today as I don't think I'd be able to hold my anxiety together at work in the office. I think my colleagues know me too well and they would realise something is up - if they haven't already! I know I've already had moments acting out of character and I'm sure some of them must have noticed me scurrying off to the toilets every five minutes when my morning sickness has been bad.

I'm a little uncertain how the appointment will pan out today. We've been told to allow 90 minutes at the hospital so that there is enough time for blood tests and down syndrome screening, as well as the scan itself. I know I will be scared when it's time for the scan. We want this baby so much that I think it makes this process more emotional and difficult - if we were younger, if this had been an accident, if it didn't all feel so right... maybe this wouldn't be so scary. But then again, who am I trying to kid. This is me, the worrier! So I'm sure I'd be anxious whatever and whenever. Hopefully that will subside a little if today goes well.

I've been looking at some pictures of what the baby should be like at this stage (see below). Still so tiny, but also so formed. I pray that what is inside of me is at this same stage. I will let you know later...


Sunday 10 April 2011


I can see the beginnings of another fantastic morning as I write this. Our computer is right under the window of our south east facing flat and the sun is streaming through the blinds as I type, occasionally the glare catching my eye and causing me to squint at the screen. I think a trip to the park with the papers will be in order when the Boy wakes up. But that's a while off as it's only 8am now - yes, another early start for me.

I slept well, after nodding off watching the film Knocked Up last night - everything seems to be about pregnancy at the moment! But as soon as I stirred I was gripped by the anxiety which reminded me it is our scan tomorrow. I'm feeling so many emotions all at once - huge excitement to see our baby for the first time, an impatience to see that beautiful heartbeat on the screen and share that special moment with the Boy, a nagging anxiety that something will have gone wrong and there will be no baby to see, a dull trepidation that if there is a baby there it might have something wrong with it, and last - but by no means least - a concern for myself and my welfare as tomorrow I will be tested for all manner of rather unsavoury conditions, from syphilis to HIV. While I can't imagine I will test positive for anything on the (rather long!) list, I am a worrier especially about health matters, and as the scan and the tests approach, I begin to convince myself that perhaps I do have one of these conditions, after all, and my mind begins to wander to what we would do if I did...

And this I imagine is my welcome to parenthood. A friend of mine once said that you spend all your pregnancy worrying you'll lose a baby, babyhood worrying they'll stop breathing, toddler hood worrying they'll get lost or hurt themselves, school years worrying they can't do what they should be able too, teenage years worrying about what they're up to - then you worry about their house, job or spouse, and before you know it they're pregnant and you're worrying they might lose the baby...!

I hope that all goes normally tomorrow and, while I'll continue to have a little natural anxiety, that I will be able to relax and enjoy my pregnancy even more. I'm looking forward to being able to tell people our news, then I can share my thoughts and feelings more readily with friends - and I have a few friends who are pregnant now or who have recently had babies who I am keen to talk to and share their experiences. At least the waiting is almost over, and while tomorrow will be a little scary it's a really important date, and hopefully it will bring the good news and reassurance we so long for...

Saturday 9 April 2011

And the world's all right with me...

Another beautiful day and the Boy and I made the most of it and had a day trip to Greenwich. It's only 10 minutes on the train from where we live, but we decided to tourist it up to the max, and we walked up to Waterloo and caught the City Cruise boat from the pier by the London Eye for a leisurely trip down the river.

It took over an hour and was a beautiful way to take in the sights that are so familiar to us that we don't really look at them properly any more. It's easy to take London for granted and think "oh yes, there's St Paul's" and walk past. From the boat we could see our home town again with new eyes in slower, softer focus, and I enjoyed being reminded of what a beautiful city we live in. I can't wait to take this baby - and any more children we are blessed enough to have - around some of the sights and enjoy the beautiful parks with him... or her.

I love Greenwich. Once we arrived we sat in the beautiful park and had a picnic and read the papers leisurely, commenting on some of the stories of the day together. We then walked up the slopes to the Royal Observatory and took in the outstanding views - from the Shard (right by where we live), the City of London, St Paul's, Canary Wharf and Docklands, the O2 (formerly the Millennium Dome) and round to Stratford and the new Olympic stadium. It is quite something and when it's as sunny and clear as it was today you really can see for miles.

We wandered back towards the station via the Queen's House (below), my favourite place in Greenwich. It was our first choice for our wedding reception - until we realised that it came with a £20k price tag. Maybe for the vows renewal in a few years...! And we cut through the market, as thriving and bustling as always and celebrating its 25th year in business.

There were lots of families out today making the most of the gorgeous day, and I couldn't help but watch the young children in the park. Those taking their first tentative steps under the watchful eyes of mum and dad, more confident toddlers playing with their dogs, older children playing frisbee with siblings and friends... I guess I was engulfed by archetypal summer family scenes, caught up in a movie in which I don't yet have a part.

My mind wanders to Monday... just two days now until the scan. While I am enjoying the fantastic weather and special time with the Boy (I don't plan to see or speak to anyone else but him this weekend!) I am aware there is a constant undercurrent of anxiety. It sometimes subsides, but then unexpectedly surges and catches my breath. I so hope that come Monday everything will fall into place and the Boy and I can begin to relax a little more and enjoy this super special time.

Here comes the sun!

Another beautiful day and the Boy and I made the most of it and had a day trip to Greenwich. It's only 10 minutes on the train from where we live, but we decided to tourist it up to the max, and we caught the City Cruise boat from the pier by the London Eye for a leisurely trip down the river.

It took over an hour and was a beautiful way to take in the sights that are so familiar to us that we don't really look at them properly any more. It's easy to think "oh yes, there's St Paul's" and walk past. From the boat we could see our home town again with new eyes in slower, softer focus.

I love Greenwich. Once we arrived we sat in the beautiful park and had a picnic and read the papers leisurely, commenting on some of the stories of the day together. We then walked up the slopes to the Royal Observatory and took in the outstanding views - the Shard (right by where we live), the City of London,

Simple pleasures

I had a lovely day yesterday. I was on a first aid refresher course at St John's Ambulance in Marylebone the morning, I have to do this annually as I am a nominated first aider at work. I enjoy the course and take confidence from having these skills into my personal life - and I think they will become even more valuable as I become a parent.

In the afternoon I had an appointment to get my highlights done, but my hairdresser was unfortunately unwell, so I found myself with a rare weekday afternoon free stretching ahead of me. It was a glorious afternoon, another cloudless blue sky stretching above London as far as the eye could see, and the temperature must have been touching mid 20s. It felt like we'd fast forwarded to the summer.

Underneath this azure blanket I strolled to my favourite spot to sit and take in the weather, Potters Fields by Tower Bridge. I love it here. Right by the river and sandwiched between Tower Bridge, build at the end of the 19th century, and City Hall, the modern offices built more than 100 years later which are home to the Mayor of London and the GLA. Across the river you see, to the left, the City of London with its office blocks competing to be the first to touch the sky - the Gherkin, my sister's favourite building in the capital, is winning at the moment - while to the right is the Tower of London, swathed in centuries of history and legend.

It's a fabulous place to take in a snapshot of what London, my home for the last decade, has to offer. And it's a park enjoyed by many different people - business men on their lunch breaks, students, foreign visitors, and local families from London Bridge, Bermondsey and the docks.

I relished the chance to sit for a few hours in the sunshine, and in that time I read a book from cover to cover in one sitting - absolute bliss! The first time I've done that since my honeymoon in Velidhu in the Maldives nearly a year ago. I read Resistance by Anita Shreve, one of my favourite contemporary authors. She's never going to break any moulds in terms of style and substance, but I love her lyrical, sentimental writing, and how she captures the fragility of the human condition and our relationships so softly and beautifully. The book was one of her better ones, set in Belgium in the second world war it details the story of a small pocket of resistance fighters against the Nazis in a small village, and what happens when an American plane crashes in the forests nearby. A poignant and moving book, that reminds and captures the extreme bravery of some of that generation in the face of such a vile and bleak dictatorship.

It's a simple pleasure, reading a book from cover to cover. But one I had forgotten could be so enjoyable. For a few hours I was taken away from myself to another time and another land, and I walked with the characters as they worked through their feelings and trials. I don't think I'll ever lose the amazement that a book has the power to do that. Although I suspect when I become I parent I will lose the chance to inhale and breath out a text in one precious sitting!

The day ended with a romantic meal by the Thames in Cantina del Ponte - the cuisine giving us a tantalising taste of what lies ahead for us on our Italian adventures. Bring it on!

Wednesday 6 April 2011

Up above the clouds...

It's a glorious day in London today, forecast to hit 21 degrees. The hottest day of the year so far with a beautiful seamless blue sky, barely blotted by a cloud.

Everything feels better to me when the sun shines. Being basked in warmth and light really calms me. It stills me and gives me peace and reassurance, like I've come home. I get a similar feeling from being on the coast and hearing the sea gently lapping at the shore. I wonder if this is because I grew up in Portesham in Dorset and spent many a happy time whiling away sunny days on the beach with my parents.

When the Boy and I got together and were in that beautiful first flush of love, we used to lie in each other's arms and listen to a song about the blue sky - Up Above The Clouds, by Turin Brakes. I absolutely love the song and whenever I hear it or whenever I find myself under a blue sky, I smile, and think about the Boy and those early, heady days of our romance. For us the sky has always been pretty blue, and while we've had our ups and downs, our relationship has been blessed with more than our fair share of warmth and light.

Our love has of course changed since those humble beginnings. The bubbling desperation to be together has mellowed into a sublime wonder that we found each other, and a quiet euphoria that we have pledged in front of all our family and friends to walk together always.

Being with the Boy lets me be the best I can be - and with him by my side there will always be a blue sky up above the clouds.

Tuesday 5 April 2011

Where's your head at?

Today's thought for the day is - where's your head at? Not the Basement Jaxx song, but "the rostral part (from anatomical position) that usually comprises the brain, eyes, ears, nose and mouth" - thanks Wikipedia!

I am all over the place today and I'm finding it impossible to settle down or concentrate on my work. I can't recall having felt so distracted at work before. Everything seems to be going in one ear and out of the other, and I've moved a couple of meetings I had in today until tomorrow as I feel so unmotivated.

It's an unusual feeling because I love my job and most of the people at work so much, but I suppose it's also natural that with all the changes going on inside my body, that's where my focus is. I imagine it's also a bit of a lull after the hard work and high energy that went into our march in London a couple of weeks ago. It's always the same after our annual conference - a week of mad, frenetic hours, and then an unsettling calmness as the media band wagon rattles on elsewhere.

I wonder if I will settle down a bit more once we've got beyond 12 weeks - I hope so, or I'm going to be a little fidgety nightmare for all my lovely colleagues!

Booked in

We had our booking in appointment yesterday afternoon and all went well. Both of the community midwives - there was a qualified one and a student one - were lovely, and a rather amusing double act as they were so different in appearance and personality. One tall, slim, blonde and quiet; one short, curvy, loud and black. I was fleetingly reminded of Aunt Sponge and Aunt Spiker from one of my favourite childhood books by Roald Dahl. But the combination worked, I was quickly put at ease and the appointment, which was an hour long, seemed to fly by.

I was a little disappointed the midwives didn't try to hear our baby's heartbeat. I'd heard mixed reports about whether they would do this and I think policies differ between PCTs... so we have a few more anxious days ahead until our scan on Monday. But everything that they could test for was in order. My urine and blood pressure was ok, and my BMI was also fine. They couldn't take a blood sample for the technical medical term that "your veins aren't very good" (midwife number two!). I'd mentioned a little fear of needles - I am rather a first-class weed - so when my veins weren't forthcoming they decided it made sense to wait until I was at St Thomas's hospital next week and do everything then.

Even though much of the appointment was spent taking our health details and notes of any family illnesses, it was very exciting getting all the books about pregnancy and hearing how our appointments would pan out if all goes to plan. I was pretty impressed with the NHS for the wide-ranging information I received and how beautifully all the books were laid out and presented. It feels just that step more real having met with the midwives and having my own notes. Just feeling the notes and the books in my hand gave me a surge of excitement from the pit of my belly, bursting out onto my face.

We walked out of the surgery grinning from ear to ear. I think sometimes in this blog I've focused on my anxiety and concerns about what might go wrong, when I haven't paid even lip service to how happy both the Boy and I are. I suppose it's always the way to write about the worries rather than the euphoria, as they have a tendency to creep to the forefront of your mind - well, they do for me anyway!

But as we walked back home hand-in-hand with the Spring sunshine shining down on us and bathing us in light and contentment, everything for that moment felt absolutely right with the world. I know beyond doubt that I am with the man I shall love until the day my time on this earth is through, and having a baby together is the most exciting, breathtaking and amazing feeling. To have created a life together that we want to nurture and nourish feels like the most important thing we could ever do, nothing else we've done before this point seems of such significance. And if I think about it for too long it really does take my breath away and leave me astounded. I suspect this is why there is something of an emotional cycle of angst - I am so desperately happy to be at this point, that I long for the confirmation everything is ok far more than I would if it wasn't all so right.

We'd had a rather tense day before the appointment with neither of us able to settle or concentrate - goodness knows what state we will be in next week! - so we decided to treat ourselves to a relaxing evening out and we went for dinner and to the cinema to switch off. We watched Killing Bono which provided us with some good and needed light relief. And then trotted back home where we caught the end of One Born Every Minute. Tonight the programme moved me tears - it was so beautiful to see exhausted but exhilarated parents holding their newborn babies and beginning to grasp all the wonder and amazement that lies ahead.

Monday 4 April 2011

First appointment nerves

Roll up, roll up and welcome to the Elly Beans emotional roller coaster ride! For the bargain price of nothing, today you can experience an exhilarating rush of anxiety as you plunge into a corkscrew of rumour and the unknown, and then hold onto your hat as you are driven head first into a loop the loop of fear and misunderstanding - what an adventure!

Yes, today is our first appointment with the midwife. Today I'm 11 weeks pregnant, and it's now five weeks since I went in to see my GP and have that first professional pregnancy test.

I'd like to say the weeks have flown but they haven't - I've been ticking off the dates every day until this point, willing the appointment to come round quicker, but also warding it off because today is the day fact and reality collides with our dreams and fantasy.

While I'm longing for good news, my instinct is to shy away from bad, and I'm nervous about how today will go. I'm not good at health appointments generally. I had to have a simple blood test in January and spent days fretting about it. My tendency to worry and think the worst really comes into its own where my health is concerned!

But I think it's natural to have some anxiety today. The Boy and I both want this so much, and I'm sure every woman or couple who really want a baby are desperate for good news at this point. The Boy has taken the time off work to come along with me, which will be a great support - as always.

Sunday 3 April 2011

Mamma Mia!

Another early start for me, I'm getting used to being up with the larks now and any wake up call later than 6am feels like a treat - it was 7am this morning and I felt myself smile when I looked at the clock as it felt like a lie in! I was woken up with a coughing fit this morning. It seems like the bug is on its way out and I'm generally feeling more comfortable, but the cough is pretty vicious and decides to attack every now and then.

Today is Mother's Day and my head is full of thoughts. I'm thinking of my lovely Mum who is away on her jollies, taking in the sunshine in Palm Island in the Grendadines with my Dad and my sister. I hope she has a beautiful day today and they are spoiling her rotten. I'm going to text her after I've written this to let her know she's in my head. I'm thinking of the Boy's Mum too, who is also super lovely and who I feel very lucky to have in my life. We're heading down to Guildford to have lunch with her today in a lovely Thai restaurant, with the Boy's brother too. It had been a bit touch and go whether I'd make it as I've been so poorly  - and I sadly missed a much-anticipated dinner at a friend's last night - but I starting to recover and a few hours out of the house at lunchtime shouldn't set me back too much. I haven't been dressed and in make-up since Monday so leaving the flat could be a bit of a shock!

I'm also thinking today of friends of mine who have new children, celebrating their first Mother's Day as a family, and more sadly friends of mine who have lost children - today must be another very difficult day for them. I've got friends and family who've lost babies - both very early and very late in pregnancy - and being pregnant myself with a longed-for baby I can only just begin to imagine how heart-breaking it must be for them.

And I'm aware that sadness may well yet lie ahead for me and the Boy as we approach 11 weeks. We're not out of the woods yet, and I don't think I'll totally relax until we get to 40 weeks and hopefully a baby arrives - and even then I'm not sure relax will be the right word! I hadn't anticipated that while I feel so happy and delighted, there is an undercurrent of anxiety there most of the time. I wonder if this is because I am an 'older mum' and have seen quite a few of friends devastated by loss, and because I know more about the risks - and that they are increased now I'm in my 30s. When I was younger I'm sure I thought every pregnancy led to a healthy baby. I had no idea so many didn't make it.

And inevitably today I'm thinking of me being a mother. The Boy has been his usual gorgeous self and got me a very cute card from a 'roo' in a kangaroo's bump (see above), wishing me a happy day. I feel a huge rush of excitement mixed with feeling mildly terrified all at the same time when I think about being a mum, and what kind of mum I will be. I imagine it must be the hardest job in the world - and for someone like me who loves order, tidiness and routine, if everything continues to go well my world is going to be turned on its head. But I'm ready for that. While I adore the Boy and our lives together, I'm ready for the focus to be on something - or someone - else, and while occasionally I worry that the Boy and I will lose the special couple time we have in abundance right now, I know we won't lose our connection and that this baby will be wanted and loved, and that it will make us our own little family unit. I couldn't imagine a better partner in crime for this, our next adventure.

I dreamed about having a baby again last night - and again it was a boy. This time we called him Michael - once again a name I hate! I can't work out what is going on in my subconscious that in my dreams we keep calling the children we have names I really don't like. But I'm starting to feel that if this baby does make it, it will be a boy. The boy in my dream last night was the most beautiful baby I had ever seen and even in the dream he took my breath away and I felt such love.

I used to be absolutely adamant that I wanted a little girl, but now I feel like either would be brilliant. A while back we were up in Newcastle with the Boy's family and we went to watch his cousin's little lad play football on a Sunday morning and I couldn't believe how much I enjoyed it - cheering him on, shouting his name, and I was really proud of him. I'm sure I would feel that even more if the little boy was ours - although the Boy and I may squabble out what football kit to dress him in, would he be Manchester City (yes, if I have anything to do with it) or Howay the Toon?!

Also whizzing around the jam-packed mazes of my mind is tomorrow's appointment with the midwife. It's finally arrived - and I'm already nervous. For 11 weeks my body and my mind has told me I'm pregnant - and now it's time for someone else to verify that. So I'm naturally a little concerned that we might get bad news - as every day passes I become more and more certain that the Boy and I want this, and I so badly want it to be good news. We want to start imagining what it might be like, thinking about names, and planning how we'll fit a little nursery into our flat... so I guess it's good that we only have one more day to wait until we know, one way or the other, if what is inside me is fighting fit or falling flat. We pray for the former. And we pray for strength if it's the latter.

But for now, off to Guildford where a lovely lunch awaits...

Friday 1 April 2011

April fool

It's the 1 April today, April fools' day. I'm so glad we're into April - this month holds lots of excitement for us and must surely mean that warmer weather is on the way. But while Spring may be in the air I'm certainly not full of its joys, my horrid bug is still with me so I'm more full of lurgy, snot and mucus. Most attractive! Again, I'm conscious the Boy isn't really seeing me at my best just now.

But April promises to be an exciting month, once I've got over this illness. Our booking appointment with the midwife is on Monday afternoon, when I'll be 11 weeks. That seemed to far away. I wasn't even five weeks pregnant when we found out and it's felt like a long time from there to here. And if all goes well we have the scan booked in for Monday week, when I'll be 12 weeks. That's at the antenatal clinic at St Thomas's hospital which will be the first time I see that part of the hospital and the facilities. We haven't totally decided how we want the birth to be - it's one of the discussions we've delayed having partly out of superstition that talking about it might somehow be bad luck. But St Thomas's seems to have good facilities and there is a birth centre there that I really like the sound of. You can use the facility if you're likely to have a normal birth, and they have birthing pools and private rooms where dad can stay the night after the birth with mum and baby, which really appeals to me. If we had more space I'd definitely consider a home birth as I really want us to spend time as a family unit from the outset - but I'm not sure how that would work in our little flat! I guess more on this later.

April also brings our first holidays of the year. The Boy and I love travelling and we're always keen to have weekends away and holidays. Some people spend their money on pets, gadgets, cars or doing up their houses. Not me and the Boy. Every spare penny we have we try to get out of London - perhaps just for a day trip on the train, a weekend somewhere in England or a city break, or a week or two in the sunshine somewhere in Europe. We haven't had a break this year as we've been trying to save money for moving house, and I'm desperate for a change of scene. And April will bring two!

The first is a trip to Venice to celebrate my mother-in-law's 60th. I absolutely can't wait - it's a destination I've lusted after visiting for some time, and it will be a fabulous place to celebrate her special birthday. We'll also tell her at the airport about our special news, as we fly the day after my 12 week scan so I will hopefully have some pictures of the scan to show her - if all goes to plan.

I love so many things Italian. A trip as a school girl to Sorrento, the Amalfi coast and Capri totally enticed me - the culture, the history, the romance, the food, the wine... well, maybe less of the wine this time for me! My Mum has also talked of Venice as being the closest place to heaven on earth, and as a keen photographer I look forward to seeing the sights and trying to capture the essence of the city. It will be a special trip as - again, if all goes well over the next few weeks - it will be the baby's first holiday...

I suspect our baby will quickly clock up the air miles like its parents as April also holds in store a trip to Rome to celebrate our first wedding anniversary on St George's Day, 23 April. I can't believe the boy and I have nearly been married for a year... it's flown by. It's been the most fantastic year and as I think I've gushed before on these pages, I fall in love with him a little bit more every day. I am so looking forward to our lovely adventure in one of Europe's most classical capitals. Again, the wine will remain off limits, but I look forward to indulging in the pasta, the pizza, the ice cream... for the first time I can do this guilt-free as well which will be something of a treat!

And I look forward to celebrating our anniversary with family and friends. We plan a party here on 21 Easter, Maundy Thursday, for all our friends with drinks and nibbles - and I think the Boy may make a little announcement about our exciting news. I feel nervous at the thought of telling friends - I'm sure they'll be thrilled for us, but I have an irrational fear that the more people that know, the more chance there is something bad might happen to the baby. Ah, I've almost missed that 'glass half empty' perspective inside of me. It hasn't been making so many appearances of late and life has been far too positive without it!

This time last year I was a few weeks away from getting married - I was a bundle of excitement and nerves and couldn't see much beyond the wedding day at that point. Here I am a year on, with even more blessings to count which feels incredible. Dare I begin to hope that we will celebrate our anniversary next year with a little six-month baby Beans with us... how amazing would that be?!