Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Beanette's Nursery - It's Coming Together!!

I have just realised that in one short week I will be into the home stretch of this pregnancy as I enter the third trimester! It only seems like yesterday that we found out we were pregnant again but then in reality that was 5 months ago so I guess time is ticking on without me realising. I am not sure why the transition to the 3rd tri is so monumental; perhaps it's that somehow it brings Beanette's arrival ever closer which is every day more exciting (and more terrifying); or perhaps it justifies why I feel so tired and am finding it so hard to work as hard on my business as I am used to. Whatever it is a milestone and they should never pass without comment.

Since the 20 week scan, just 5 weeks ago, we have transformed the nursery from a spare bedroom (although always referred to as the nursery since my dad saw it and said "it'll be a perfect nursery") into a room fit for our princess. We had decided to go with a Classic Winnie the Pooh theme right from the start but we hadn't bought anything except one lightshade until we passed the 20 week Level II scan, then we went mad!! In the one weekend we bought the cotbed, bedding, pram, changing mat, curtains, decorations and even some babygrows. It was a shock to find out how expensive everything is, but then what is money when it's for our little girl; and of course we are really lucky that the grandparents to be treated her to much of it?!

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Of course I haven't stopped buying ever since and we now have all sorts of outfits and sleep suits and baby monitors and scratch mitts and hats and pramsuits and towels and even some teeny tiny nappies. All her bits and bobs are neatly hanging in the wardobe or folded into her drawers and I guess sometime soon I should start washing them in readiness. Definitely a 3rd tri job when I finally stop working! Speaking of which I should get on, see you all in the 3rd tri.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Beanette - 3d Scan

I am feeling on top of the world because I hate to say it but I am expecting the most beautiful girl in the world!! I know, I'm biased, but honestly when I look at the pictures I have from the scans my heart just melts. I mean look at this lovely smiley profile shot
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And how about this one where she is blowing a bubble
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Or this face on view, I swear she was saying a special hi to her mum and dad.
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And that is nothing when we then look at the 3d images. I know it's hard to fully figure out what's going on, it took me a few hours of staring at the DVD so have patience! This first one it seems like she is saying that she's all done with the photos - look at her, trying to hide behind her arms (camera shy just like her mum!).
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And then there's this second one which captures her little character - what a beautiful little girl and she knows it.
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There are more pictures on Beanette's BabiesOnline Site if you want to see the whole hog.

I never really thought that this would happen and somehow it is still hard to believe but when I saw her on the 3d scan it hit me that she really is going to come home with us and take a place in the nursery we have put so much time and effort and love into. I hear friends talk about how the baby doesn't seem real through the pregnancy, but for me she is the centre of my life already and if it gets stronger than this then I will be literally bowled over.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Beanette - 2nd Trimester

I can't believe that we have made it to the 2nd trimester of the pregnancy, this never seemed possible through all the years of TTC and especially after loosing Kendi, but here I am at 24 weeks and I think it's time to believe that we will be meeting Beanette in a few short months time.

I am still be plagued by morning sickness and trying not to complain but finding it hard. It seems to be related to indigestion more than traditional morning sickness and I am sure it is the reflux that those poor babies with colic suffer with - boy do I feel their pain! It seems as if Mother Nature is closing the circle of life somehow and that keeps me staying positive.

We had the Level II ultrasound scan at 20 weeks and eventually we managed to get a determination that we are carrying a little Beanette, well with 80% confidence! I have to admit that I was convinced we had a little boy but I am over the moon that our litrle girl is healthy and will soon be coming out into the world to meet us.

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I still have moments, hours and even days of panic about whether the pregnancy is progressing OK but ever since I have been able to feel Beanette moving and kicking I manage to stay confident. The only fear I have is that I am failing her in some way, but perhaps that is motherhood for you and there is little that can be done to remove that insecurity.

Beanette - 1st Trimester

22nd December 2004 - positive pregnancy test!
It was faint but it was definitely there and Mike and I were shocked and elated, after all we had no hope for the cycle. I went into testing overload and within 2 days had done 7 tests, all of which were getting progressively darker.

Seeing as how we were seeing both sets of parents over the Christmas period we decided to tell them in person rather than over the phone. So we told my parents on Christmas Day; they were shocked, they didn't expect it, and they were worried for me but we convinced them that they should be positive because this was the only way to get through the coming months. We then told Mike's parents when we were with them a couple of days later and they were over the moon for us and excited for the future.

In between Christmas and New Year we managed to get our blood tests done for the clinic and they showed low HCG numbers again but they were doubling nicely going from 26 to 213 in just 5 days. They decided that there was a risk of an ectopic pregnancy so they arranged for us to have a scan at 5 weeks which dispelled the myths and showed a beany measuring spot on for dates.

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We had a follow up scan at 6 weeks to check the heart and we were elated to see a tiny heart beating away, wow how Beany had grown. There wasn't an automatic counter but the technician thought that the heartrate was about 150bpm - fabulous. She measured the CRL as 7.5mm - bang on course so we were over the moon in every respect. I thought I might cry but instead just got this stupid grin on my face which remained there all day.

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So there we were pregnant again and this time with a heartbeat and enough faith to carry us through the next 9 months. A week after the scan the morning sickness started, well hey it's par for the course and not something I was going to complain about, but it does get you down when there is nothing you can keep down and going anywhere becomes an exercise of knowing where every possible bathroom might be. At the start I managed to get by with the little known cure of sniffing lemons - it sounds strange and looks stranger but worked for the first few weeks. After that I travelled everywhere with cream crackers and a change of clothes, what a fab picture I must have been. And further on still the miracle of acupuncture worked wonders again as it could keep the sickness away for at least a day at a time.

Apart from that the 1st trimester passed by with a lot of stress but equal amounts of happiness. We couldn't really believe this was happening but the scan at 9 weeks helped, look at the changes in just 3 weeks.

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At 12 weeks precisely the morning sickness stopped which was a massive relief but also a slight cause for concern - what if this meant something was wrong? But our fears were again put aside as we got through the 12 week nuchal translucency scan with a very clean bill of health and a beautiful picture of our Beany.

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Back to TTC

After almost two months hardly existing I finally felt ready to get back to TTC. I had done a lot of reading since loosing Kendi; books on coping with the loss of a baby, texts on how to reduce the risks of miscarriage and especially everything ever written on alternative treatments for infertility and miscarriage; and so I came to a major decision not to go back onto clomid but to try acupuncture to sort out the underlying problems with my system. Once the decision was made I felt ready to start again and found an acupuncturist who believes in balancing the eastern and western regimes to try and resolve infertility problems; he commenced weekly treatments and I hoped that it might help my emotional state at the same time.

I finally went back to the drawer which contained those tablets the clinic had given me before I lost Kendi and read up about them. It appeared that they were the wonder drug for women with PCOS and a history of miscarriage and to convince me further I spoke to many women online who take it to see what the side effects. The long and short of all of this was that I started the Metformin hoping and praying that any future pregnancy would be sticky for the long term.

I truly never believed that I would get pregnant again anytime soon without the aid of clomid but in many ways that was the best case scenario because I wasn't sure I was ready yet to be pregnant again. As the weeks went on the Metformin side effects slowly settled down and the Acupuncture became a much awaited hour of the week when I would relax totally and leave feeling calm and energetic.

The first cycle I was amazed to ovulate at all and even more stunned to find that my Luteal Phase had increased thus reducing some of the risk of miscarriage. I was so happy to see the benefits that it started to help my belief that I could be pregnant again and that perhaps one day I would hold a baby in my arms.

As the 2nd cycle progressed I returned to the fertility clinic and they told me that there was no chance, in their opinion, that I would get pregnant without clomid or similar assistance. I explained that I wasn't happy with this and wanted to continue with the addition of alternative treatments and they insisted that I schedule an investigative operation for the New Year to check that my tubes were open and not damaged by the miscarriages. After reading up I agreed to their plan and decided to have a fantastic last month of the year before starting 2005 afresh with hope for the future.

However the clinic was wrong, the 2nd cycle may have been long but perhaps time was what my cycles needed. On day 30, my 30th Birthday no less, I finally ovulated and less than 2 weeks later I was struck dumn to get a positive pregnancy test. I was pregnant again!

I can't tell you whether it was the Metformin, or the Acupuncture or the growing belief that my acupuncturist and Mike had nurtured in me; but between them all I was pregnant and somehow I knew that this time it was going to be OK.


As ever we had the most fantastic holiday and it was topped off by the realisation a few days in that my cycle should have ended but hadn't. I had brought a few pregnancy tests with me and we decided to test and low and behold there it was, a clomid break miracle, we were pregnant again and this time we were already at the 5 week mark. We decided to tell no one and just continue our holiday, cutting out all wine and pate, enjoying each day we had together with our baby growing inside me. After 2 amazing weeks we got home and I was still very much pregnant so we told the world (immediate family and close friends) to mixed reactions based on concern, worry and elation.

I was loathe to ring the clinic and tell them since I knew they would want to run the bloodtests but eventually Mike convinced me and they came back lower than average but increasing none the less. At 7 weeks they asked me to come in for a routine check and it never occurred to me that it would be anything but a paperwork exercise so I went alone. However when I got there they were seriously concerned about the low numbers I was showing and they decided to run an ultrasound.

I was so excited that I was going to see my baby and really sad that Mike was going to miss out, but there wasn't a choice so I got on with it. However the reality was nothing like the television stories of happiness and good news, for me it was a slow moving 10 minutes of solumn sonographers and worried looks. I kept asking what was wrong and they eventually told me that my baby was smaller than it should be at this stage and that they couldn't find a heartbeat. None of it really sank in and I returned to the clinic for their opinion which hit me like a bolt of lightening. They didn't even consider the possibility that my dates could be wrong or my baby could be a slow starter, instead they presented me with options for the ending, both of which I refused, this wasn't happening again!

As I left the clinic I rang Mike to try and explain what I wasn't even sure I knew and told him we had to stay positive, this baby was going to be OK. When I got home, I have no idea how I made it there, I realised I was holding a bag of pills which I was to take to help the next cycle, I couldn't believe it and put them firmly into the back of a drawer. When Mike got home we decided that we had to have faith that this baby was going to be OK and that the doctors were wrong. I had found countless cases where babies had been small on early scans and declared unviable and yet gone on to be born as fully fledged healthy babies and I believed this was going to happen to us.

So on we went, our confidence knocked but our faith strong, for another week before at 8 weeks precisely I woke up to find I had miscarried overnight. My heart broke that morning. I couldn't believe that we had lost another baby and one that had seemed to have come as a miracle. We had no idea what to do but I knew that I wasn't going anywhere near the hospital so Mike and I clung to each other as if our lives depended on it. After a couple of hours I told him that I wanted to name this baby, he agreed and we quickly found the name Kendi (Kendi: African Name for Loved One) perfect!

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Two days after our loss of Kendi we had my brothers wedding and we made the decision not to tell anyone in the family until after the wedding. I have no idea how I got through the pre-wedding meal and the wedding itself but as Matron of Honour I had an obligation to put on a happy face and make sure that they both had the most fantastic day. It was fantastic to see them so in love and to be a part of it but the pain was excrutiating and having to stay happy when all I wanted to do was cry my eyes out was almost impossible. Mike stuck to me like superglue and swayed me away from any groups that started talking about pregnancies or children as well as slipping me the odd shot to help take the edge off. The next day we told my parents and I just about collapsed from the relief and grief, finally I could let it out but it didn't provide the comfort I had hoped for.

The next month was the worst of my life but somehow I got through it day by day, even hour by hour when things got really tough. I have never been so thankful for the support of my friends who rallied around and made sure that I slowly got back into life despite my misgivings. And by the end of October I felt ready to go back to work and start thinking about the future and possibly even TTC again.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

The 3rd Year TTC

2004 was to be the 3rd and final year TTC, not that we knew that at the start of the year or would ever have believed it if we had been told. It was a year of highs and lows. On one hand it was a collection of the hardest of moments causing unequaled heartache; and on the other there were the greatest of celebrations in all aspects of our lives; a year to remember and no mistake and somehow it needs to be summarised here in a few paragraphs.

The year started with our first visit to the fertility clinic. We must have looked like scared teenagers about to embark on their first date, but it felt more like I was heading to my own funeral. In reality however it was a massive let down and left me feeling angry at their lack of action and empowered to get a second (private) opinion and a course of action for the 3 months we were told to "continue trying"!! Don't get me wrong, it was sorely tempting to play the ostrich again and just wait our turn, but something in me snapped that day and within a fortnight we were in a private clinic speaking to a consultant who seemed to understand exactly how we felt. He undertook an ultrasound scan which was worth the stress since it confirmed that I had two ovaries, two fallopian tubes and a womb (this might seem like a small move forward but for me it removed one of my major concerns about a total lack of mechanics). He then reviewed my hormonal results and quickly determined that I have a typical case of Poly Cystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) for which I knew there were many course of treatment and innumerable success stories. We left his clinic that evening with a 7 day supply of the birth control pill Norithrestone to induce my cycles and a 3 month supply of Clomid to get me ovulating. He told me that I was welcome back at any time but he didn't imagine there would be a need - I was floating on air.

I started the Norithrestone the very next day and within 2 weeks had started my first cycle of clomid (one little pill taken each morning for 5 days forcing ovulation and causing the most insane case of PMT possible! It seems funny now but I am sure Mike was ready to walk out on many a day). I started using Ovulation Prediction Kits (OPKs) at day 12 as directed by the packet and low and behold ovulated on day 16. Then started the godforsaken two week wait (2ww) to see if I was pregnant. Very quickly I realised that we were due to fly to Canada for a conference on the day I was due to test and so I scheduled for a Beta HCG blood test the day before to confirm whether or not I was pregnant. On the day of the flight I rang the clinic and was handed a double edged sword; we had fertilised the egg and I had even managed to implant it in my womb but unfortunately the pregnancy had got very little further and I had suffered a chemical pregnancy (miscarriage prior to 5 weeks pregnancy). I knew that the chances of getting pregnant on the first round of clomid were tiny and so I shouldn't have been disappointed but all I could focus on was the fact that for a few short days there had been the start of a baby and my body had failed me AGAIN. We busied ourselves with the final packing, ensuring that we had our 2nd round of clomid and headed for Canada for what was a fabulous trip to Montreal.

The 2nd round of clomid was actually much less stressful, probably because we were on holiday for most of its side effects. I started tracking my Basal Body Temperature (BBT) every morning that cycle to try and more accurately determine when I was ovulating and therefore empower myself in the process. A few days after we got home I noticed my temperature dropping and on day 22 I ovulated again (twice in 2 cycles, what a miracle) and this time the wait was worse for us both. We decided not to go through the bloodtesting and to wait and see what happened. Again we were going away at the end of the cycle, this time to Le Touquet for a weekend with my parents; and this time I got a positive home pregnancy test (HPT) the day before we travelled. We weren't going to say anything but it seemed crazy to try and hide our mix of excitement and fear so we told them before we left. The weekend was fabulous and I had to keep pinching myself that all seemed to be going well. We got home on the Monday night and I decided I would get a bloodtest confirmation on Tuesday but we never got that far because I lost the baby on Tuesday morning. We had got to 5weeks and 6days pregnant but our baby had left us and this time the grief hit me for the loss of them both.

The first days of the 3rd cycle were all about the difficult choice; do we take clomid or take a break? In the end Mike made the decision for us and we took the clomid but my heart wasn't in the cycle. I needed some time, I wasn't ready to face another pregnancy again yet and I just wanted to get some normalcy back in my life. Don't get me wrong, we did try, but I think my body needed a break and so I had the first normal cycle all documented with the BBT to take back to the fertility clinic after the 3 month wait.

Our 2nd appointment with the clinic was really proactive, they were ready to start investigating my problems in depth and I was ready to demand some answers. Together we put together a plan of action involving a series of ultrasound scans to track my cycle and the future reuse of clomid once they had a better picture of what my body was doing. That 4th cycle was the major rollercoaster of the year and starting to think about it now brings it all back.
The first step was a baseline scan on day 3 where the sonographer discovered a large mass on my left ovary; she was fantastic with me and explained that by its makeup they would assume it was a benign dermoid mass which although no risk to me would greatly impede the functioning of the ovary and hence cause ovulation problems. The clinic decided that we should monitor this mass through the cycle to see whether it was changing and so I returned every 3 days for the next 4 weeks and was relieved to see a very dormant mass each time. Towards the end of the cycle the clinic started talking about putting me back on clomid but I had done a lot of research about how women with histories of miscarriage normally require additional medication. Therefore I made the decision to talk to Mike about it whilst we were on holiday in South Africa and come back to the clinic on our return to discuss the options further.

Monday, May 09, 2005

The Pain of TTC

How had I let two years of our lives go by without moving forward in our TTC journey? How could I have assumed that it would be hard and yet never envisaged us go a year without being pregnant? How did I come to believe that we would ever have a baby?
These are just some of the questions that wracked me with guilt at the start of 2004 all being summarised under the heading
How could I have been so stupid?

Two years in there had been over a dozen babies born to friends and family members whilst we were still TTC. I congratulated each and every one of them, visited as many as possible and was truly happy for their blessings; but inside each announcement killed off a little bit more of my hope and belief that Mike and I would ever be parents. I shed more tears than seem possible and questioned myself in every aspect of my life (daughter, sister, wife, career woman and especially mother). I must have done something wrong to be punished in such a way; I obviously didn't deserve to be a mother; I didn't have what it takes and had to accept it.

I never would have believed that I could long for something so strongly or hurt for the lack of someone as yet unknown to me so deeply, my heart was breaking as slowly my hope died. And yet somehow through all the desperation Mike stayed strong, supportive, hopeful and above all positive that one day we would hold a baby of our own in our arms and this kept me moving forward. He wouldn't let me give up hope, he reminded me that there were still so many avenues open to us and above all he told me over and over that he loved me and that with each other we would get through. Of course we did have a life outside of TTC, even though as more of our friends greated children into their lives we also had to adapt. We took every opportunity to travel the world, both on holiday and with my business; visiting Canada, Hong Kong, South Africa and the different corners of Europe and having a fantastic time in the process. But the hole was there and no matter how much I convinced myself that I was "making the most of our time as a couple" I knew that I would give it up in a heartbeat.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

TTC - Year Two

So there we were, starting the 2nd year TTC and I had to face my greatest fear and go and see the doctor and ask him to help us since my cycles were not returning. I have always hated doctors and this was possibly the most traumatic appointment I had ever had to date. However my fears were mostly unfounded as he tried to brush me off telling me that 1 year was nothing and to come back in a further six months. This was exactly the spur I needed to start researching the way forward and low and behold I found a miriad of information that told me to go back and fight my corner to at least have my hormone levels checked. And so I put my white coat syndrome aside and went back to the doctor with all my printed research and demanded that he take me seriously and do the simple bloodtest to check my hormone levels. He obviously didn't appreciate being told how to do his job but my insistance paid dividends and by April 2003 I had back a list of hormones with corresponding values. Mike managed to convince me to hold myself back from the internet before I spoke to the doctor about the results and somehow I implemented some self control; however I did already know that many of the numbers were above average whilst others were below. Well when I got back in to see the doctor he seemed to have a very different interpretation and told me there was nothing to worry about and that I wasn't pre-menopausal as had been their fear. I was obviously relieved, especially considering I hadn't even considered that as a possibility, but I raised with him my understanding that the values didn't seem to be in the normal range. He brushed my concerns aside and told me to TTC for another 6 months and then come back if we weren't pregnant.

This was the last time I was ever to be brushed off by a doctor. I came straight home, onto the internet and within half an hour knew that none of my results were good news. My prolactin was elevated, my Lutenising Hormone (LH) and Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) through the floor and my progesterone almost non existent; there was no way I was ovulating, my system was in hibernation! I immediately rang the surgery and made an appointment with a different doctor, this time there was going to be no white washing, I meant business.

The second GP I saw was more ready to listen, possibly due to my stronger stance on my rights and the volume of knowledge I had now acquired. He looked at my hormone levels and reviewed my findings as to their meanings and confirmed that I didn't appear to be ovulating and that would make conceiving pretty impossible. He agreed that something needed to be done to help me but that first he would want a full picture and so Mike had to get a full sperm analysis, boy was that a conversation I was looking forward to. In actual fact Mike exceeded every expectation I had and just asked me when he needed to do this and what was entailed and within 2 weeks he had made his donation and we were playing the waiting game again. Two weeks on and we had our first piece of good news that Mike was an all singing, all dancing healthy virile man, thank god that there was only one of us with a problem.

So now what? I firmly took the responsibility on my own shoulders for putting the next steps in place, well there was no blaming anyone else for the lack of a baby in our nursery to be! I went back to the doctor now more than 20 months since we started TTC (all these 2 weeks for appoinments and 2 weeks for tests and 2 weeks for analysis and 2 weeks for follow up appointments quickly add up) and he agreed that we needed to be referred to the local hospital's fertility clinic and that I could expect another 3 month wait to gte my first consultation with one of their consultants. My heart sank but what choice was there? At least we were moving forward and perhaps 2004 would be the year our baby would arrive!

Friday, May 06, 2005

The Trying to Conceive (TTC) Journey - Year One.

I recorded all of my thoughts and emotions from the very first month we started trying to conceive. I am not sure why I started writing everything down but soon it became a cathartic experience helping me get through the bad days and remember the good ones. I could share the entire diabtribe here but at over 50,000 words it is a little long so perhaps a synopsis is more appropriate, although that is not going to be easy for me when I usually ramble on uncontrollably. But I'll try and I guess the best place to start is at the beginning, back three and a half years, wow how time has passed.

Right from the beginning I thought it would be difficult to conceive our baby but never did I even contemplate the truth which we came to accept. I came off the DepoProvera expecting, from all the information I had read, that the medical assumption of my cycles returning within 3 months was going to be nonsense and unfortunately I was right! In reality the first 3 months passed in the blink of an eye, the second 3 with barely a glance and even the third 3 without too much concern. It was 9 months on before we were on holiday in South Africa with time to think and reflect; and it all became clear! I came the sudden realisation that my stress levels at work were too high and that all the time I had to spend away from home was doing nothing to help us achieve our aim. Just like that it occurred to me that something had to change if we were ever going to conceive and the desire was such that we came home with a plan of action. Within a month I resigned from my job and by the 1 year anniversary of TTC I had set up my own business allowing me greater control over my workload and a considerable reduction in my stress levels. As I look back now, two and a half years later, this is one of the major positives that came out of our TTC journey. I have never regeretted a second of our decision and I remain forever thankful to Mike for believing in my ability to run my own business and giving me the financial freedom to take the risk.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Some background

Mike and I met at University in Manchester in 1995 where we were both studying engineering. We were friends for many months before our friends arranged our first date for us on Valentines Day 1996 and the rest is history. We were married in April 1999 at the church in my parents village and celebrated at a nearby hotel before going to Thailand on a fantastic Honeymoon.

Married life seemed to suit us well and we managed to balance time with each other with our careers, friendships and extended family. To be honest we didn't think about starting a family; we were loving life, travelling whenever possible to the far flung corners of the globe and getting on well at work making sure that as many of our aspirations as possible were being achieved. But life is never as easy as it seems in your early twenties and one day my biological clock started ticking - well more like pounding!!

We talked about the family thing many times before we realised that the time was as right as it was ever going to be for us to start a family and at the beginning of 2002 we decided to finish birth control and start a family. To be honest we both thought that seeing as how everything else in our lives had been planned and achieved that having a baby would be the same; how could we have been so wrong?

A Rethink of the Blog

I originally set up this blog to document what I thought was going to be an ongoing process of trying to conceive our baby, but miracles happen and just before Christmas 2004 we found out we were pregnant again. So now it seems an ideal place to record the pregnancy and onwards for our friends, family and ourselves.

The early details of this Pregnancy which is only now starting to seem real as Beanette kicks me every few seconds!! There are full details of the testing, the scanning, the symptoms and the excitement on my main pregnancy webpage