Our Hospital Stay

Zack and I had a stay in hospital last week. It’s only now, almost a week later that I can talk/write about it without crying.

I took him for his 12 week immunisations on the Tuesday and went to the baby clinic while I was there to get him weighed. He’s been gaining weight slowly. I know that. Jake was the same. I just assumed he’d catch up in his own time. At 8 weeks, he was 9lb exactly. I expected him to be at least 10lbs at 12 weeks, especially considering how often he feeds.

He was 9lb 6oz. He’s dropped two lines on the centile chart (and below the 0.4th), so we had to see the GP. As soon as they said he had only put on 6oz, I knew the discussion of formula would be on the agenda. It’s not that I’m against formula. It’s that I wanted to breastfeed. I had no concerns previous to him being weighed. He’s smiley, he is alert, he sleeps through the night. There was nothing to make me worry.

The doctor sent us up to Birmingham Children’s Hospital. We ended up in A&E as that’s where the RMO’s were (Registered Medical Officer). We were taken to cubicle and Zack was asleep in his pushchair, so the RMO was talking to me, asking me questions about Zack, about me, about Jake, about my pregnancy. Then he woke up and needed a feed, so she left me to it for half an hour or so. Then a different doctor came round to see us and examined him. Said that she didn’t think there was anything wrong with his tummy or anything and that we should top him up with formula. I said that I didn’t really want to and that I wanted to fix breastfeeding first. So she admitted us and arranged to Zack to have a blood test, in which I cried more than he did and was reduced to a snotty mess. So much so that even the nurse took pity on me and wiped my nose as I had no hands free.

I’m a bit angry, because I feel like if I’d agreed to the formula, she would have just sent us home, but because I refused, we had to endure a horrible 24 hours in hospital. He looked so small in the huge cot in his room, and I had the delight of sleeping on a faux leather recliner for the night.

The doctors came round in the morning and again, had a poke and a prod. Then a dietician came in and spoke to me.

I have had to compromise. We have agreed that he has two 3oz feeds a day of a high calorie formula that promotes catch up growth, and that I breastfeed as well. I have been prescribed Domperidone to try and increase my milk supply. Zack has to be weighed every week and I am to call the dietician with his weights so we can plan the next course of action, which will hopefully at some point be to drop the formula altogether and go back to exclusive breastfeeding.

It’s taken me a long time to be OK with this. Not because I don’t want him to gain weight, not because I don’t want him to have formula, but because I feel like I’ve failed him.

One of the most natural things in the world is to breastfeed your baby, to nurture them, and I couldn’t do it alone. Whether it’s because of everything my body has been through over the last two and a half years, I don’t know, but I wanted to be able to do this so much and the fact that I couldn’t upsets me more than I can put into words.

I know he’s put weight on. I can see his cheeks are chubbier, and he feels heavier. I’ll know for sure tomorrow when I take him to be weighed. I hope it’s positive. I certainly don’t want another night in hospital with him any time soon.

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The Week It All Went Wrong

Even though I’m a high risk pregnancy, apart from a tiny bit of spotting at 18 weeks, I made it to 31 weeks without any problems.

Then, quite quickly, everything went down hill.

I’d had, in the space of about 10 days, some episodes of seeing flashing lights. The last one was last Monday evening, and it lasted for about 15 minutes, whereas the others had only lasted about 2, so I thought I’d make an appointment with my GP to get it checked out.

I went to the GP on the Tuesday morning, and my blood pressure was fine and there was no protein showing in my urine. She called triage anyway to see if they wanted to see me. Apparently, the did, so I called my dad to watch Jake, and up I went. I only expected to be gone for a few hours, but I was sat in the waiting room for 2 hours before I was even seen.

I was seen, baby’s CTG was fine, blood pressure was fine, but urine now had some protein in it. How exactly it magically appeared in the 3 hours since I was at the GP, I don’t know. I think they also decided there were some white cells in it, and decided to give me some antibiotics to treat a water infection and to take some bloods to be on the safe side. I was discharged with a prescription and an agreement that they would call me if my bloods were abnormal.

I got a phone call about an hour later saying that in hindsight they should have kept me until my blood results came back, because one of my liver functions (ALT) had come back abnormal. So they had found me a bed in the antenatal ward and were expecting me about 7pm. So, time to pack a bag, wait for Neil to get home from his meeting in Coventry and organise for my in-laws to have Jake over night.

We got to the hospital just around the same time that shift change was happening, so it took ages for anyone to come and see me, and she had to go and get my notes from triage in order to find out what was happening. It works out that the normal range for this liver function is somewhere between 5 and 35. Mine was 54. So not too high, but high enough with the trace of protein they found and the flashy lights for them to be concerned. I found out they wanted to keep me in a minimum of 2 nights as they wanted to do a 24 hour urine collection starting from 9am Wednesday morning. They also wanted to repeat my bloods to see what was happening with the liver function (the next blood test showed it had dropped from 54 to 51).

So, two nights in hospital. I was then discharged on Thursday with no major concerns, but told to go back if I had any more flashy lights etc.

Friday came, and I just had a day at home. The phone rang, and it was the cardiologist I saw last week. I have seen a cardiologist twice and had two echo-cardiograms this pregnancy due to my chemo and the fact that one of the drugs is potentially cardiotoxic. The consultant told me last week that all looked fine and that he would see me again in a year. So I put it to the back of my mind.

When he called me on the Friday, he told me that he and his boss had looked at the echo together and noticed that my right atrium looked slightly narrow when looked at from a particular angle. In order to get a better look, they have referred me for an urgent MRI. He says that this is because the further along in my pregnancy I am, the more likely I am not to fit into the machine, and that I should expect an appointment in the next week. Later on, I get another phonecall saying that the MRI department is extremely busy and can’t get me in until the 28th Feb, which is over 2 weeks away. They may have a cancellation on Wednesday though, so I am to wait and see.

I thought we were all done, and then about 5.30pm, I had a phone call from my endocrine consultant who is responsible for my care throughout this pregnancy. She apologised that she hadn’t had chance to see me whilst I was on the ward and asked how I was feeling. Apparently, they have a “plan” for me. I need to see my haematologist this week (luckily I already had a routine appointment booked anyway) and ask to see the head of the department as that is who she has been speaking to. I am to have more blood tests done, as well as the aforementioned MRI, but now also an ultrasound of my neck.

“Let’s be blunt…” I said to her. “All these tests, are you worried the cancer is back?”

“We just want to make sure everything is ok, it being back would be worst case scenario, and there is only a slim chance.”

That there should have been the sentence that reassured me, but it didn’t. The last two times I have been told “it’s only a slim chance” I have been told I have cancer.

I have been trying to stay calm and not worry, but it is hard. Things that should reassure me are the fact that surely if there was a mass on my chest causing my atrium to narrow, that would have been seen on the echo cardiogram? And surely, if a mass had been seen on my chest, with my previous cancer history, they wouldn’t make me wait until the 28th Feb?

My white count is perfect at 9.7. When I had Hodgkins, my white count was high, even in the early stages.

When I had Hodgkin’s, I had alcohol induced pain with even a few sips of wine. I had half a glass on wine on Friday (no lectures please) and didn’t even feel a twinge.

So, I am hoping beyond hope that they are just being cautious based on my history and based on the fact that I am pregnant. But it doesn’t stop me worrying. I don’t think I could cope going through all of that again.

Here’s hoping I don’t have to.

The Waiting Game

I have been pregnant three times. I am not pregnant now. I only have one child. It doesn’t take a genius to do the maths there.

Whilst I was going through my treatment for cancer, one of my main concerns was whether or not I would be able to have more children. I have said on many occasions that I am not done being a mum yet. We always wanted two children, a boy and a girl with about two years difference between them.

Cancer changed our plans, and it seems as though two years between them is nothing but a pipe dream, seeing as Jake is already two and I’m not pregnant. And, even if I got pregnant this month, the baby would be due in March, just two months before Jake is three.

I’m not a patient person. I don’t like waiting for things to happen, and I especially don’t like it when things are out of my control.

Some people would say that we have only been trying for four months (does it matter that it’s “only” been four months when month one of that was a loss, isn’t it worse for me because I’ve HAD a loss and the people saying that never have and managed to conceive on the first month of trying?), or that I shouldn’t complain because I already have a child and I should count myself lucky for that. And I do.

But, I don’t know what the chemo has done to my body. And although I ovulate every month, that doesn’t mean that I will conceive. And then when I did conceive about 7 months after chemo finished, it was a chemical pregnancy/early miscarriage.

So, I’m feeling really fed up that it hasn’t happened, and I hope it does soon. Telling me not to worry about it, and to relax, doesn’t help. Neither does asking me whenever you see me “Any news yet?” When there is news, I shall share it when I’m ready. Until then, please don’t ask, it just irritates me and makes me all the more aware that it hasn’t happened yet.