And so, there it is; 2014 has literally been and gone and I've got way more than a t-shirt. I have the most beautiful baby boy and couldn't be more happier or in love.
Where shall I begin? Ah yeah, that's right, all the way back to the start...
So, last Christmas me and my partner decided to have our usual end of year chat that reflected on the year that had been and the year that was to come and it was in that discussion we realised a lot of bad things were continuing to happen and that we wanted to stop that as much as we could by counterbalancing with some good. We decided that this meant making changes in our relationship, the first being to move in together. This was the very first we did in the new year and boy am I glad that we did, that was the best way to start the year of 'making things happen' and then after consultations from Doctors, to our amazement we found out were expecting. This was great news that came both as a shock and then not at all. I say shock because the consultants told us at the time that this could affect my ability to conceive or carry a child.
However we weren't naive to think that this pregnancy was to go smoothly. As with any first pregnancy, I imagine you are on tenterhooks but we were even more on edge as we were worried about anything going wrong. I was constantly panicking that my body was going to fail me again especially after being placed as a high risk pregnancy, which meant I was having to have regular hospital visits week in, week out, to monitor myself, the baby and the pregnancy. I couldn't even begin to tell you what an incredibly exhausting process this was on top of the pregnancy. And as much as I will say I was worrying, nobody was worrying or panicking more than my partner. Once more he continued to be the rock that he always has been and my left hand guy.
Due to my medical history, I was placed on a blood thinner to prevent the possibility of me having a stroke during the pregnancy. I didn't think this would be a problem as I had previously taken oral blood thinners (warfarin) but this time I was having to inject myself (clexane). This was definitely a negative side to the pregnancy. As Gav doesn't do well with needles, I was having to go round to my mum's where she and my sister would have to strategically pin me down, distract me and then inject. Whilst dreadful, these moments were often hilarious as they were both as petrified as me but then we'd all laugh at Gav watching on.
Other than that and the horrid sickness (that lasted until just after 20 weeks), the pregnancy ran quite smoothly, I was still delivering my lessons (most of my pupils didn't notice I was pregnant even by 6months when I was beginning to blow up around the tummy area). I was also going swimming daily and really at my best physically and emotional. Come the 36 week mark though, I suffered a TIA which resulted in a short stay in the hospital and as ever a battle with me and the hospital staff for an immediate discharge. This was a truly horrendous time for us all even though the symptoms disappeared hours later, as there was panic that this would be as bad as last time, panic that something would happen to the baby and every other worst case scenario imaginable - that was extended further when I had to have an MRI scan, which we were told could affect the baby's hearing. After much discussion and research overnight me and Gav decided that it was best to have the scan just to make sure there wasn't another bleed on the brain.
I remembered trying to hold my tummy as if to block out the sound from the MRI which was unlikely to have helped but I felt like my baby was there holding on in the exact same spot inside. Thankfully though it wasn't as extensive a scan as usual, they took minimal images to eliminate any harm to the baby.
The results came back to reveal that it was just scar tissue and there was no additional bleed. I was told that was the most likely cause and that I would need to be seen by a neurologist after the baby arrived. Due to the TIA, I was induced a few weeks later as they didn't want to run the risk of me having another stroke or any other complications to occur. This was quite hard for me to deal with at first because I felt like I was being robbed of that natural experience of when my child was going to make his arrival into the world.
Once I stopped being self indulgent and processed the reasons why this was happening, I was then much happier and incredibly excited to finally get to meet my baby!!!!
On the day of the induction, I was wracked with nerves because whilst I'd overcome the barriers that were presented to me during the pregnancy, I knew the biggest barrier was about to potentially close in on me. I'd been having nightmares in the run up to this day that I would have a stroke during the labour and miss those precious and essential first moments with my son. I was also petrified as I'd opted to not have any pain relief as the thought of numbness or my body not reacting accordingly because I hadn't been through this before but I had experienced paralysis and the numbing feeling of stroke and didn't want to re-live that trauma.
In the end I had the epidural as the pain was so intense after being in labour a whole day and just before midnight at 5cm dilated, I pleaded with the staff to have it as to quote myself the gas and air wasn't working because "it's fucking shit and doesn't even fucking work, bullshit fuck' - how eloquent! In that moment I hadn't even thought about all that research I'd done into the side effects and possible after effects of epidural.
And after a traumatic few hours through the following morning and an emergency c-section, my beautiful baby made his arrival. I didn't think I'd feel better than when I regained my movement on the left side of my body nor did I even think it possible that I'd be able to carry a baby as well as I dod without many complications. It is truly the most incredible thing to have ever happened and all those worries I had about not being able to look after him properly due to my remaining weaknesses with balance and strength have been shot out the window as I feel like I'm doing a good job and lifting and changing him and he is a bit chubby and this really is a testament to survivors of stroke that there is light out of a darkened tunnel. Just a bit of determination (and in my cause stubbornness) and you really can still have a truly wonderful life after such a life-changing experience as a stroke.