November 2021 recap

I’ve been meaning to write this post since February and it’s now almost April so let’s do this shall we… otherwise I’m still going to be banging on about last year in 2023!

After being rehospitalised at the end of October I was back on oral medication to prevent contractions and sent home again on 3 November. This time I was not allowed to work at all. Luckily I was only actually planning on working until the 5th since I had annual leave I still needed to take, so I only got a sick note for a couple of days. I then spent a week at home mostly in bed but also sorting out a few things that needed to be sorted before the birth. I managed to post out both a Christmas card and my cousin’s birthday present to New Zealand… only for them to still not arrive until after Christmas, but that’s another story! I also got together the documents I needed to register the birth. (Jan didn’t sort his part in time though, which has resulted in a right palaver with her surname, but again that’s another story).

On 9 November I went for an ultrasound. Because of the operation, I was supposed to go for one once a week to make sure the placenta was still working and baby was growing properly. I was expecting it to be routine, and almost everything looked great but the doctor noticed my amniotic fluid was low. I then had an appointment with another doctor (the first was just doing the ultrasound), who did a swab to test for leaking amniotic fluid sent me for a CTG (see my last monthly recap if you don’t know what that is). The CTG looked good and the swab was negative. I had also asked the doctor about a vaccination for whooping cough, which I had been recommended to get while I was in hospital for the operation. He sent the nurse to check whether they had any and they did so I got that as well. Finally I saw yet another doctor – the second one having only been standing in for her while she was on her break! She was fairly clueless about what was going on but decided I should be admitted to the hospital in Zurich. But this time I was sent home to pack and make my own way there instead of being transported in an ambulance so at least I knew they weren’t too worried! The doctor said she would let Zurich know I was coming so home I went… having been at the hospital for about 3 hours by this time! At home I packed then hung around waiting for ages because Jan decided he needed to finish something before driving me to Zurich. We finally arrived at the hospital around 9 p.m. where I first had to go to the Labour and Delivery floor for another CTG, two ultrasounds (a normal and an internal one) and another swab for amniotic fluid. The doctor was convinced it was going to be positive but it was not. After some discussion about whether I should have a booster of the injection for the baby’s lung development they decided to leave it for the time being and admit me to the prenatal ward, where I had been the other two times I was in hospital. Jan had to leave at around 11 p.m. to take the car back and I was finally taken up to the ward around midnight. The next morning the doctor came round and told me the plan… basically we would just wait, constantly monitor the situation and try and get me as far as possible. As long as baby was still doing well I would be allowed to continue the pregnancy but I definitely wouldn’t be going home. That was pretty much as I had expected and I agreed that hospital was the best place for me to be, so that’s where I stayed for the rest of November (and part of December, but we’re not there yet). The surgeon who was in charge of my case and would be doing my C-section also came to see me and explained her theory of what was going on… basically she thought there was a tiny hole at the site of the internal incision and amniotic fluid was leaking from there into my abdomen. The two swabs for amniotic fluid had come back negative because my waters hadn’t broken as such, and so there was no risk of infection and it was deemed safe for me to stay pregnant.

The view from my hospital room on 26 November 2021

For the rest of November I did crossword puzzles, read, walked around the ward and chatted to my various room mates. One person had already been in there for about 4 weeks and stayed there with me until 1 December, when she finally bled one too many times and was taken to have her daughter. Another person was only there for 5 days before giving birth to her daughter, whose original due date was the exact dame as Zyma’s – 6 January! We’re still in touch via the occasional WhatsApp message. Various other women came and went, some just for one night, some for a little longer. And for a few days I was even completely on my own… in a room meant for 3! Every day I had a CTG in the morning and another in the evening, every three days I had an ultrasound, and at some point I ended up back on IV meds to prevent contractions. It was boring and sometimes lonely (Jan couldn’t visit that often since he had to work) but every single day that I was able to stay pregnant was an absolute gift. I knew the longer baby stayed in the better things would be for her, and since she would already have spina bifida to deal with I really didn’t want her to end up with any additional issues from being born prematurely. So I embraced the boredom and kept myself occupied as best I could. And so, eventually, November passed and I made it to the month in which. no matter what, I would be having a baby!
December 2021 recap coming soon. Well, I say soon, but clearly I can’t promise anything…

October 2021 recap

I am slowly, slowly catching up with these monthly recap posts. This one and the next one should be relatively short though.

I started the month in hospital recovering from my (and baby’s!) operation. The nurses encouraged me to get up and moving as soon as possible so I spent a lot of time walking around the ward. In the second week I even ventured outside (with my trusty companion the IV stand. Lol.) I read a little, did crosswords and at some point a lady came round with colouring materials so I spent some time colouring in two pictures. I intended to send them to Post Pals children but I haven’t got round to it yet.

Exactly two weeks after the surgery I was allowed to go home with strict instructions for what I was allowed to do – absolutely no housework and for the first week I even had a doctor’s note for work. I spent that week mostly in bed reading and resting. Jan’s sister then came to stay for the weekend – not that I did much then either, other than play a board game. She and Jan went for a walk but it was too far for me.

I then briefly went back to work, but only did around 5-6 hours per day. Luckily I still had plenty of overtime that needed to be used up!

A week after my return to work I had an appointment for an ultrasound. The night before I barely slept because I kept feeling my uterus go hard, so in the morning I called in sick and then called the hospital to see whether I could come in earlier. They gave me an appointment with a midwife and I went for a CTG – a procedure that monitors the baby’s heart rate, foetal movement and uterine activity. Sure enough it turned out I was having constant Braxton Hicks or practice contractions. I then hung around at the hospital, had another CTG and went to my ultrasound appointment, where everything looked great. The contractions were a problem though because of the risk of the stitches from the operation rupturing so it was decided that I would be admitted and given IV meds to stop the contractions. I called Jan to bring me some stuff and went upstairs where I got another CTG and spoke to a midwife. The hospital also contacted the hospital in Zurich who said they would like me to be transferred to them, so once I’d seen the doctor and started on the meds an ambulance came to transport me to Zurich. I ended up staying there for a week and coming home on 3 November so that brings us to the end of October and thus the end of this recap.

August 2021 recap

Hello! Baby girl has gone to the hospital* with her daddy today so I’m taking advantage of the free time to sort out some things – including blog posts. (*Nothing to worry about. She has hip dysplasia – probably unrelated to her spina bifida – and today the doctors are doing an ultrasound and checking whether the harness they gave her is doing its job. If the harness works she won’t have to go into hospital for a few weeks for a different treatment so keep your fingers crossed!).

You’re probably wondering why I’m even bothering to recap August now considering how much time has passed. I like to have these posts to look back on so I wanted to write one before I forget everything entirely!

Last year, everything we did in the month of August ended up being slightly overshadowed by baby’s diagnosis. We found out she had spina bifida at my anatomy scan on 10 August – three days before my birthday. Happy birthday to me, right? We did still celebrate with a meal at a restaurant round the corner from us that we’ve been meaning to try since we moved to Basel. It was very nice. The staff were wonderful, replacing several things on the set menu so they were safe for pregnancy. I also got my first COVID vaccination the day after my birthday. At that time you needed a doctor’s certificate to get it during pregnancy and every single doctor I spoke to had highly recommended getting it done so I did. My only side effect that time was a sore arm that lasted for 3 days!

During the weeks following the diagnosis we had a lot of appointments. First I went back to the hospital in Basel for an amniocentesis (for those who don’t know they use a long needle to remove amniotic fluid from your uterus) to make sure there wasn’t any genetic reason for the spina bifida. As it turned out there was not. I then had another ultrasound to try and narrow down where exactly the defect was and we met with a neurologist from the children’s hospital in Basel. At the initial ultrasound where the spina bifida was discovered we had been informed about the option of open fetal surgery – in other words and operation to repair the defect before birth. It turns out Zurich is the European leader for this operation so we went there to find out more information. First I had to have another, extremely detailed, ultrasound then I had an MRI. The next day we went back to Zurich and met with the head surgeon from the spina bifida team, who by that time had seen the results of the ultrasound and MRI. He took a lot of time to explain everything to us and, as you obviously know by now, we decided to take the option of the fetal operation.

When we weren’t running round to appointments we managed to fit in a few day trips in August. Jan drove me to the vaccination centre for my COVID vaccination so since we had a car anyway we decided to go somewhere. We chose Altdorf, capital of the canton of Uri and best known as the place where, according to legend, William Tell shot an apple off his son’s head. I forgot to take my camera so I don’t have any photos.

Earlier in the month we went to Bremgarten, which is in Aargau. It’s a beautiful medieval town and for once the sun actually came out (a rarity in summer 2021!) so we had a really nice walk around the town and along the river. On the way home we stopped in Küssnacht where we played a round of mini golf – which I amazingly won – and then had dinner at a restaurant by the lake.

I also cross stitched some cards in August for September birthdays. My brother’s and my godson’s.

I read a grand total of four books in August – not really my best month. One of them was long though. You can see which ones they were here.

Apart from that I can’t actually remember what I did so I’ll leave this here since I still have some other things to sort out.

34 weeks

I’ve purposely waited until almost bedtime to write this in case I jinxed myself so it will probably be a few days old by the time anyone reads it.

Today, 25th November 2021, I am 34 weeks pregnant. This feels like an amazing milestone! I am now officially on maternity leave and actually should have been coming back to hospital today for the final countdown to my c-section. Instead I’ve already been here for just over 2 weeks but so far everything is pretty stable. Amniotic fluid is still low but there was very slightly more yesterday than a week ago and baby’s heart rate always looks good. I had to go back on IV meds about a week ago as a precaution after having contractions (non-painful, “practice” contractions that would be perfectly fine if it weren’t for the two-month old incision in my uterus!) but apart from that it’s been a relatively boring stay so far. I will continue to be closely monitored and if baby’s growth slows down or they see any signs of distress the c-section will have to be performed earlier but for now we continue to wait and hope things remain stable. Three weeks to go until my planned c-section date!

Back in hospital…

A huge thank you to all those who have been checking in since my operation. I appreciate all your comment. Apologies if I’ve failed to respond to any! This will be a short post since once again I am typing on my phone. The operation went really well – couldn’t have been better. Both an MRI and several ultrasounds have shown leg movement right down to the feet so it looks like we’ve been able to preserve that function and baby should later be able to walk unaided or with minimal aid. My recovery also went well and I was taking brief walks around the ward on day 3. I got to go home after exactly 2 weeks with strict instructions on what I was not allowed to do (basically any housework whatsover!). I then managed a whole two weeks at home before I started noticing contractions. Luckily as it turned out they are “practice” ones (known as Braxton Hicks) so labour down seem to be imminent but because of the fresh incision the doctors wanted to be extra careful so I was admitted back to hospital for observation and IV anti-contraction meds. And that’s is where I am now. Later today I will hopefully find out how they want to proceed. For now I am celebrating the fact that baby and I have made it to exactly 5 weeks since the operation!

Not how I imagined making this announcement…

I don’t even really know how to start with this, so I guess I’ll just say it…

I’m pregnant. Currently almost 24 weeks, which is honestly amazing. I never thought I would make it this far. On Thursday, I’ll have officially reached viability. Babies born at this stage at least have a chance to survive… doctors will try to save them. Such a milestone!

Of course, nothing is ever simple for us. At 18 weeks and 5 days, three days before my birthday, I went for an anatomy scan where we found out that our baby has spina bifida. The one thing that was not even vaguely on my radar. I had been taking high dose folic acid since around 6 weeks and a normal dose for 5 years before that. So you can imagine it was a shock. I had to come back the next day for an amniocentesis, then we spent the next two weeks going to appointments and meeting with specialists. After an MRI followed by a very long discussion with a specialist in Zurich we finally decided on our next step – fetal, or in-utero surgery. So on 24th September I’ll be going into hospital and on the 27th I’ll undergo an operation so that they can repair the defect in our baby’s back before I even give birth, thus preventing even more damage to the nerves during the course of the rest of my pregnancy.

All that to say things will be pretty quiet around here for a while. Even more so than they have been anyway, that is. I will be able to respond to comments while in hospital and will probably visit other people’s blogs but it’s unlikely that I’ll attempt a post from my phone. But hey, at least I’ll have plenty of extra time to read for a couple of weeks!

I’ve been keeping something from you guys…

I feel like such a cliché writing this post, but at some point it has to be done, so…

I am pregnant. With twins. Yes, really! I am currently almost 14 weeks tomorrow according to me, Saturday according to the doctors) and my official due date is mid-March, although with multiples it could end up being February… Now that I’m in the second trimester, I’m feeling a lot more confident that things will go smoothly and we will actually be parents at the end of this, so I finally feel comfortable telling the entire world my news.

Baby books

I don’t want to turn this blog to turn into some kind of pregnancy blog (or parenting blog when it gets to that stage) – partly because I believe my children have a right to not be plastered all over the Internet but also because I know I have readers who just don’t care about pregnancies and babies (which is totally cool) and I don’t want to alienate them, and I also know I have readers who are still struggling with fertility issues and the absolute last thing I want to do is cause them any more pain. Trust me, I know what it’s like to want a baby more than anything and for it to just not work. However, my blog has always been about my life and this kind of is going to be a big part of my life from now on, so it wouldn’t make sense to ignore it completely. Phew, all that just to say please feel free to ignore any pregnancy posts and just skip to the ones that interest you – be that book reviews, travel posts or whatever else… I promise to try to post a little more often now the secret’s out! And if you have questions feel free to ask. I can’t promise to answer quickly though since we have visitors coming tomorrow so I expect to be busy for a few days.