Deciding to Start a Family {Sophie’s Update}

The last time we heard from Sophie it was back in Spring and she was talking about the emotional rollercoaster that comes with deciding to start a family. It was clear from the comments that her experience resonated with a lot of our readers. Well she’s back today with some happy news…

I wrote back in March about the ‘deciding to have a baby and starting to conceive’ stage of life and at that point we were four months in. The disclaimer at the start of this post is that I am delighted, thrilled, excited, beyond ecstatic to say I am, at the time of publishing, 19.5 weeks pregnant.

What I really wanted to talk about though were the next four months it took us to get that positive test, bringing us to eight months in total of trying to conceive. As I said in my previous post, I know this isn’t a long time in the great scheme of things, there’s a reason why the average conception time is one year, we are the lucky ones who haven’t required any intervention, but when you’re in it, it seems little consolation.
I found trying to conceive a really isolating place. However much I tried it became all consuming. I’m pleased to say that I did minimum googling and I didn’t go on any forums. Though I did start using an app to track my cycle and used ovulation sticks, both of which I found really helpful and wished I had started using earlier because it gave a sense of control and understanding. Though these two things also bought pressure – if I was ovulating I was guilty of expecting an instant, ahem, performance and sometimes when my husband was literally walking out the door to go to work this wasn’t his prime time.

It also affected our relationship. I adore my husband and I know he adores me but the pressure to achieve something we both wanted so badly took its toll and I think a bit of blame culture crept in. I hated the disappointment my period arriving created, I felt it was my fault that we weren’t getting pregnant, we both felt we needed to make more effort in getting home earlier from work to fit in some bedroom time and I needed to lose weight. It culminated in a horrible, drunken, crappy argument at a friend’s wedding that left me thinking we should stop trying for a while and just live life and take the pressure off, it was clearly not doing us any good.

Four days after said argument, I woke up on the day my period was due at 3am feeling really sick and I just knew I was pregnant. One test at work during lunchbreak confirmed my gut feeling, as did the other two I did once I got home, you know, just in case the first was wrong. I presented all three wee-soaked sticks to my husband when he got home and he proceeded to say “f**k” on repeat. After 10 minutes I did ask “Darling, is this good f**k, or bad f**k?”, his answer “Oh, it’s amazing f**k but I think I need to sit down”. All bodes incredibly well for the labour room.

Once the swearing had ceased and he’d had a little sit down, the first coherent thing he said was “I can’t believe you did it”. But I didn’t do it, we did it. Conception truly is a joint effort and this was our time for it to happen; after eight times of ‘not this month’ it was hard to take in. What didn’t help is the next morning I went off to Somerset on what can only be described as a 3-day grown-up Pony Club camp where I flung myself (avec horse) over showjumps and cross-country fences to my heart’s content, determined to carry on as normal. I knew reality must have set in when I received a text saying “Darling, have so much fun but please, please be careful and don’t fall off”.

The last 19 weeks have bought 8 weeks of pretending it wasn’t happening so that we didn’t get our hopes up, the relief of the 12-week scan and the joy of sharing the news with our nearest and dearest. At our scan I will admit my first thought was “thank god there is actually a baby and I haven’t made all of this up”.

So far so good; all my blood/urine tests are showing the right things, the scan was as should be, screening tests were all low risk so fingers crossed we continue this way. My BMI is higher than ideal so I am classed as high risk and therefore have been referred to a consultant, who I have now seen for the first time and it was (in a nice way) a pointless appointment where she said “I’m looking for an issue in your notes so we have more to talk about but there aren’t any”. I won’t see her again until 36 weeks, when, incidentally, Oxford hospitals give you a third scan. So, our 20-week scan is around the corner and just need the tiredness and sickness (yup, still being sick at 19 weeks!) to go and this oh-so-promised bountiful energy to appear!

Thinking ahead to next time (I say this now in a world of blissful ignorance about what’s ahead) I will definitely track my cycle from the start and I will confide in close friends. I know the risk of miscarriage is so high in those first 3 months which is traditionally why you would keep pregnancy on the down low but I need the extra support of my BFFs to stop it feeling too isolating. I also will take the pressure off me and my husband, we’re doing our best and we’re trying to bring a child in to the world because we have such a desire to create our own family unit and heaps of love to give. Finally, I will buy shares in Clearblue, surely the richest company around.

Image by Anna Hardy

The loves of Lisa’s life are Rich and their kids, Lyra and Jenson. Although she does wish they would let her have a shower in peace every once in a while.

26 Comments. Leave new

Congratulations Sophie!! I was one of the commenters who was also trying at the time and am estatic to say I’m now 29 weeks pregnant! It’s been the most amazing and scary experience (I’ve had the easiest pregnancy but had a serious DVT thrown in at 24 weeks unfortunately which rocked the boat for me whilst baby sat back and relaxed) – both me and baby are super well and it’s amazing to watch bump and baby change weekly! I think back now to spring and how crap I felt at being 4 months in to trying and not being pregnant and wonder why I ever panicked so much, but it’s so hard at the time as you want the unknown so much. So excited for you – good luck with the 20 week scan. We had a wriggler who wouldn’t show her spine to them and I had to take a break and walk her to sleep. It’s a good 20 min of watching your baby which is amazing. X

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Thank you Jenny and huge congratulations to you too!! I’m sorry to hear about the DVT but also so happy to hear all going well now. Watching everything change is incredible isn’t it? I actually felt baby move for the first time last night and I’m so happy today! Thanks for the scan good wishes, everything crossed all is ok. xxx

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This is amazing news! so happy for you both! I do have a question though that why do they scan you again at 36 weeks?
I had a baby boy nearly two years ago and due to an unexplained lump on the umbilical chord I was scanned every 2 weeks at a specialised hospital… scary at the time but also very reassuring. It turned out to be nothing but a random growth and didn’t effect labour or my little boy, I do feel that if/when we have another I will really miss those scans and I’m interested to know why they scan 3 times and also if anyone else in the country gets more than the sparse 2 scans?I have a feeling this could be a bit of a postcode lottery!
Big congrats to you again… and getting on the subject of horses I’M CONVINCED that an evening of pulling hay from a big round bale got my labour going 10 days early !

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Thank you Angela! 🙂 We get a third scan because Oxford University hospitals are doing a big research project into the benefit of having a third scan (12, 20 and 36 weeks) as the norm, rather than the current standard of two (12 and 20 weeks). I’m not sure how long the research is going on for (though could probably easily Google) but because it is a huge research and teaching facility, they have rolled out the three scans to all expecting mums. We actually live in the middle of several hospitals so had an option of three and my midwife recommended going to the John Radcliffe for this very reason and other positive feedback she had received from other mums. It’s also the most convenient for us as both my husband and I work in Oxford. So, yes, it could be that this is a postcode lottery issue. Hopefully, if they find a benefit of adding the third scan it will be rolled out across the country.
On the horse front – yes, that sounds about right! I’m still mucking out, riding etc but for some reason, getting hay from huge bales seems to be the only thing that is becoming a monumental effort!!! xx

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Kings College Hospital in London also scans at 36w, also because it’s a research hospital.

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Congratulations Sophie! Amazing news 🙂
It’s great to read posts on this topic, I don’t think it’s talked about enough. It’s such a lonely and isolating experience when trying to conceive, especially when it goes on for months and months. First time round, it took us 10 months and now we are 16 months into trying for number 2 and its making me so anxious. Desperately want a sibling for my son and trying not to Google as that just stresses me out even more.
My husband doesn’t like me using ovulation sticks as its ‘too clinical’ and he just wants to ‘let it happen’ but anything that helps is good in my opinion!
Best of luck for the rest of your pregnancy! X

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Thank you Elizabeth! And I agree, it isn’t talked about enough and it is really isolating. It is exactly why I wrote about it in the first place. I don’t know if you read my previous post but there was HEAPS of super helpful info and other peoples thoughts on there which if you’re feeling anxious could be good to read? They really did help me feel so much better. I can totally see why ovulation sticks could be seen as too clinical and I think there is a debate (there was a post on this on RMF last week) as to whether they work properly for everyone, but I personally found them really helpful. If anything, just to track my cycle and understand where in it I was actually ovulating as we don’t all work like clockwork/textbooks! Are you tracking your cycle at all? If not, it is definitely worth considering because it gives so much peace of mind. Wishing you the absolute best of luck for number two and everything crossed it happens soon. xx

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Congratulations and best wishes to your growing family 🙂
I also really appreciated your last post. Thinking about having a baby or trying to concieve is one of these things you are told by society that should be kept secret which means there is a lack of real, helpful dialogue and advice out there for what is the most important decision I have ever made!
I would recommend to anyone to track their cycle and get to know their own body. I came off the implant and started using the natural cycles app (there is a post about that app too) currently I am using it for prevention but it has been really empowering to learn about myself, my body and my cycle. When the time comes it will help me to not feel like I am obsessing or controlling because I will already know my body and have peed on many an ovulation stick! 😂
It has been really helpful and reassuring to hear about your experience and advice at the end. If you were happy to share, I would be interested in knowing more about how high bmi and being high risk effects your pregnancy as it is currently one of my biggest concerns and what is preventing me from trying for a baby.
Thanks so much!

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Thank you Stef! Agreed on there being a societal ‘don’t talk about it’ thing, which is strange when you think about all the supposedly private things people do talk about and make as public as possible!! On the high BMI my experience is that essentially the number of my BMI means the midwife has to class me as high risk and refer me to a consultant. You are ‘high risk’ because you are at a higher risk of getting very high blood pressure, pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes and needing intervention at labour e.g. C-section, forceps etc. In reality what it has meant for me is that I have been told all the risks by my midwife, had a consultant appointment where they told me all the risks again, and it is compulsory for me to have testing for gestational diabetes (between 24-28 weeks I think) and a consultation with an anaesthetist as the chances of needing an epidural are higher. My midwife has said that everything apart from my BMI number is presenting as classic low risk and the consultant was looking for things to say because there are no current concerns and they won’t see me again until 36 weeks. There is no doubt that having a normal range BMI will be helpful in conception and pregnancy/labour and so that is of course, the ideal. However, it is also good to remember (so to not get overly stressed) that people of all shapes and sizes suffer from pre-eclampsia, high blood pressure, diabetes etc and so weight and BMI is one factor. I hope this helps? xx

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That does really help. Thank you so much for taking the time to respond so thoroughly. I guess I worry about being classed as high risk and then having to put up a fight to get the birth I want. Ideally I would love a home water birth and just let me body do it’s job. But I worry about being classed as high risk and then being coerced into a hospital birth with lots of interventions. But that’s my worry.

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No problem Stef. If you are high risk I don’t think you would be allowed a home birth – someone asked that below and I should have included that your birth place options are limited when high risk. But even if you have to have a hospital birth, you’ll only have interventions if you need them, they wouldn’t do them unnecessarily and if you did need them, then hospital is where you want to be because they wouldn’t be an option if at home. xx

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Hi all, there’s no such thing as “allowed.” They cannot coerce, only recommend. Find a good midwife and consultant who will support you and if no other problems no reason why not. Your body your choice.

Doctors can’t force you to give birth anywhere regardless of high risk, they just advise and recommend. I just don’t want to have to fight for my choices. Plus I don’t want to try and get pregnant if I may be putting my baby or myself at risk if I can change it. I shall look into it and see what I can do. Thanks so much for sharing your experience.

Huge congratulations! I’m also pregnant, with my second however, and I’m exactly the same number of weeks as you. I know that feeling of relief when you have the first scan (including you haven’t made it up!!), and also the arguments that happen when you are first pregnant – happened with all of mine, the bad moods (and feeling weird, I can’t describe it, a 6th sense almost?) were one of the first indications I had that I was pregnant. Sadly I miscarried a few months ago but very luckily conceived again very quickly, but it meant we were very secretive for the first 12 weeks this time around, and it made the relief of the scan even greater. Glad everything is going well, and enjoy the 20 week scan too. Will you find out the sex of the baby? I can’t cope with not knowing so will be eagerly asking (although my scan is almost at 21 weeks, the wait is unbearable 🙂 ).

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Hi Annie, thanks so much for your congratulations! I’m so sorry to hear about your miscarriage but also delighted you are 20 weeks along this time! We have our scan on Monday, at 21.5 weeks which I can’t wait for and actually am really anxious about (just hope all is ok). We aren’t going to find out the sex of the baby, keep ourselves in suspense until the very end!! xx

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Massive Congrats Sophie!! I’m so happy it’s all going swimmingly for you now. I remember the feeling of relief that hit me with that first scan too. Hopefully now you’re enjoying lots of baby kicks and feeling a bit more pregnant! And here’s hoping the sickness passes soon (that part is horrible!) xo

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Thank you Naomi!! I really really hope the sickness does one soon, it is getting very dull… Felt movement for the first time last night, YAY!! x

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Congratulations! Out of interest, what is considered high BMI? And did they say whether it meant you’re not able to give birth in a midwife led unit?

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Thank you Hannah!! I don’t actually know what the threshold is but I think the NHS website will advise? And yes, they did say I couldn’t have a home birth and likely not be able to be in a midwife led unit. I should have mentioned this in my comment above. However, it isn’t a problem for me as I want everything available and would always choose a hospital birth (my mum had two C-sections so I want to be totally prepared on that front). Though I have a friend who was high risk and consultant led for an entirely different reason and because everything was ok, at her recent 36 week consultant apt they signed her off to give birth in a midwife led unit. So it definitely doesn’t get ruled out. xx

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Aw, congratulations!
We were about the same in taking 8/0 months to conceive and looking back this is VERY lucky and average-ish – I too felt like it was forever and didn’t stay as relaxed as I planned about the whole thing. I distinctly remember being on holiday with friends and silently crying behind my sunglasses on the 7th month as I got my preiod. None of them knew we were trying.
Then of course we were terrified when we got the positive tests and lots of ‘oh f#cks’ in this house too. Its definitely all an emotional rollercoaster!

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Thank you Nikki! Yes, it’s SUCH a rollercoaster of emotions! x

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Hi Sophie! I commented on your previous post aswell and found the post itself and all the comments SO helpful. Thank you. Now very happy to report I’m pregnant too – looks like I am about a week behind you. Anxiety creeping in for the 20 week scan but just trying to take each day / week as it comes at the moment. Lovely to hear your happy news and thank you again for your posts xx

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Hi Sian, thank you so much and congratulations to you too!! I’m so glad talking about it/the consequent discussion was helpful, I certainly found it to be so. Anxiety set in here too but everything crossed! Then I can really get excited! Eeek. xx

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Sophie huge congratulations!!! Been meaning to comment all day but it’s been bananas around here. So excited and delighted for you and bravo on the riding- I had just booked a series of lessons on a xc course when I found out I was expecting my second and lied through my teeth to my instructor as she knew we were “seeing what happened…” My friend was back in the saddle 3 weeks after an episiotomy with her first, she’s nails!

Really hope you start feeling better soon- the sickness is so debilitating isn’t it. Hugs and best wishes.

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Thank you Lucy!! x

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Congratulations Sophie. I remember reading your first post after i had just found out i was pregnant with my first after it had taken a little while and all of your comments then and now resonate so strongly! i am currently 32 weeks so a little ahead of you, and very much looking forward to hearing how your journey progresses. all the best for the 20-week scan next week. X

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