Total Pageviews

Sunday, 4 October 2015

A Happy Announcement!

It occurred to me a few days ago that I haven't technically announced my pregnancy on here!  Sure I may have mentioned in passing in a few recent blog posts that we are decorating the nursery etc, but seeing as I am 24 weeks along tomorrow, I guess I really should be making the formal proclamation!

Well we had IVF/ICSI back in May (2015) and although it almost killed me (I WILL post my scary OHSS stories over the next few days) we were successful!  I am almost a Long Term Trying To Conceive Graduate, and although we are a matter of months from having our baby, I still don't think it has sunk in.

Junior will be due on January 25th 2016 and of course we are over the moon!

Like most things in life, we never get the easy ride.  Firstly I was hospitalized for just shy of 3 weeks immediately after our IVF egg transfer as I'd managed to develop Ovarian Hyper Stimulation Syndrome (OHSS).  It doesn't sound all that scary, in truth most cases are mild and just severely uncomfortable, but I opted for severe.  So severe that my kidneys shut down, my lung collapsed, my liver started to fail, they found fluid on my heart and I had to be fitted with a abdomen drain.  I gained just under 2 stone in fluid in a matter of days (not great for a petite build like me!) and was kept on the high dependency ward (with one scary instance where a particularly militant doctor was trying to transfer me to ICU due to the 'severity of my condition').  You bet I was scared, but I secretly knew our IVF had worked, ironically it's the release of HCG (a hormone created during pregnancy) that had pushed my OHSS to mild to severe.  My OHSS initially declined until (presumably) implantation occurred and then it began to sky rocket.

Secondly we had the side effects of the OHSS to contend with.  Myself and the baby were at a huge risk for clotting (due to all fluids being stripped from my blood and pooled in my abdomen) and so I was on daily injections for blood thinners until 20 weeks.  My blood tests also showed that my liver had suffered severe damage and in the first few months following hospital discharge there was some question as to whether it would fully recover, luckily it has!

Thirdly I opted for combined screening at our 12 week scan as one of my gorgeous cousins has Downs Syndrome and (although this wouldn't have effected our decision at all) we like to be prepared.  We are very low risk for downs syndrome, but we had an awful call from a midwife to tell us that we were high risk for markers of Edwards and Patau syndrome (Trisomy 18 and Trisomy 13).  Naively we had never heard of this (or read the literature in our pregnancy pack!) and so when we were told it is ultimately a death sentence for the baby, we were obviously devastated.  What followed was 5 weeks of torture, we opted out of an amniocentesis (although we were strongly being advised to take it by the NHS healthcare team) as I was convinced it would cause a miscarriage and that the results would then back as clear.  We found out about a private none invasive blood test that has a high percentage of success called a Harmony Test.  The local NHS midwife was advising the foetal medicine centre in Harley Street, London to carry out the test and the travel expenses and private blood tests were pretty costly.  We had to travel to London twice as the first blood test failed and sadly the second blood test was unable to pick up a result either.  It's not all doom and gloom though as part of the testing fee included two very in-depth ultrasound with a technician trained in picking up physical markers for these abnormalities.  The first ultrasound technician found now physical abnormalities and told us he would be very surprised if the baby had Edwards or Patau syndrome.  We took great comfort in this, however our midwife dashed our hopes when she told us it wasn't definitive enough and to strongly consider opting for amniocentesis.  When we went back to London the second time we saw a different ultrasound technician and when we explained what the midwife had said he re-scanned and told us categorically that there is ALWAYS a physical marker that they see and that in his opinion our baby does NOT have Edwards of Patau, in fact he said that we didn't really even need the second blood test as the scan was so clear, which was pretty reassuring as the second blood test failed too.

Fourthly both our 12 week NHS and private scans revealed I have a weak placenta.  The bit of research I have done shows that the OHSS could possibly have been a factor in causing this, but in truth we will never know.  Basically it means that the baby will eventually outgrow the placenta before the standard 37 weeks.  I need growth scans at 28 weeks and then continuously to make sure baby is not being deprived of vital nutrients which will affect final growth.  If baby does seem to be in difficulties then I will be induced early, scary! 

Our 20 week NHS anomaly scan was consultant led and an absolute dream!  The consultant was over-joyed at baby's progress and said all growth was textbook.  The sonographer did pick up that baby was on the small side, but our lovely consultant waved this comment away with a 'So is Mummy'.  We were treated to almost an hour of scanning and as we had a trainee in the room were given a running clinical commentary too!  Our local hospital had just been fitted with a 3D scanner and we were asked if we minded being guinea pigs, free 3D scan and photos, yes please!

We have our next growth scan in 3 and a half weeks and I have a sneaky suspicion that baby will be staying put for a good few weeks after that as Jr has grown a huge amount recently!  Which is pretty lucky as we have been living with the in-laws since I was 11ish weeks and our house isn't going to be ready until I'm about 30 weeks, please stay put baby!

For now, I will leave you with our pregnancy announcement picture for facebook!  It was posted pretty late at 17 weeks, but with all the testing drama we wanted to keep it to ourselves until we were feeling more positive about the whole outcome :)

Saturday, 29 August 2015

House Quirks - Part One

So, last week I shared our initial moving in house post and I promised to share some of the more interesting house quirks (or bodge jobs as the Mr calls them), so here we go!

The first thing I noticed when we stepped through the front door with the keys in our hands was that the previous owners had left a lot of random things attached to the walls.  There were coat hooks, childrens plaques, mirrors and strangest of all two notice boards in the kitchen.

A bit of closer investigation to the notice boards revealed that the previous DIY novices had left it all behind as it was attached with no more nails!  I mean seriously, who sticks a light weight cork board to the wall with a heavy grade adhesive when a simple frame hook will do?  What were their magnets made of, lead weights?!

For those of you that are fortunate enough not to be familiar with this god awful invention, when you try to remove anything that is secured to a wall with it, the damage is so severe that great big chunks of plaster are taken with it!

The problem with no more nails is that the damage it causes extends far beyond where it was applicated.  By the time I had removed all the surrounding blown plaster I ended up with this huge area of disaster.

Sadly the damage caused isn't minor either, as you can see it runs pretty deep and is going to need a lot more than the two seconds required for filling a frame hook pin hole, if the boards had been hung correctly.

I know it is a personal taste thing, but I hate dado rail.  At some point, one of the previous owners thought it would be a great idea to put dado rail in the hallway, lounge, stairway and upstairs landing.  In some places this had been secured with the correct pins, but in some places an adhesive had also been used.  More damage to the plaster.

3 weeks in to our project and we are still filling and sanding the bloody plaster!  We've used just over 11kg of ready made filler and I fear the end is still not in sight.  There is no way we could have afforded to get a plasterer out to rectify all the damage caused by no more nails!

This is probably my favourite bodge of all, just because of the sheer comedy value!  The previous owners actually managed to attach the tap upside down.  Not just content with that, but they then layered it with hard curing putty to make it near impossible to fix without replacing the whole bloody thing.

If you are aiming for more than a dribble of water from the tap, then you are out of luck.  The water pressure is so high that it arcs out high over the kitchen window and helpfully waters our flowering tree in the garden.  Try filling a bucket from that!

 In some areas of the house, they decided to screw heavier items directly into the wall from the front.  What mirror isn't complete with a set of 4 screw heads poking through the wood?

When you have children, you want to personalise the house with all their crap and make it accessible to them.  Children grow at quite a speed and perhaps someone should have pointed out that securing a cute animal wooden coat hook at their children's height with no more nails is a bad idea.  Not only will they not be able to easily change the height as their child sprouts up, they also can't easily remove the thing when the child decides that animal coat hooks are for babies.

If the paint on the wall starts to crack and blister, surely it indicates that something is wrong?  Perhaps it would be wise to find out if it was just lack of preparation on the last decorators part, or something more sinister like damp?  Or you could just paint over it (including the bits that had flaked back to bare concrete) and hope for the best!

This is confined to one area of the master bedroom (the corner of the two external walls) and at some point it looks like there has definitely been a damp issue (although it has resolved or been rectified).

The problem with just ignoring an issue like this (or just painting over it) means that when the poor next owner comes to try and rectify another bodged job, the damage has extended well beyond the initial point.

The internal walls of the house have been so damaged by no more nails and lack of general house maintenance that in all honesty we need a professional plasterer to come in and make good.  Sadly the thousands that this will cost is well beyond our budget.  This means the walls all have to be stripped back by us and filled/sanded to an acceptable level.  Unfortunately we are not skilled plasterers (although coincidentally I was considering signing up for a course just before we found out I was expecting!) and so 95% of the house will need to be wall papered to hide any blemishes.  Eventually we may be able to stretch to having one room plastered at a time, but right now this is the most sympathetic and cost effective approach to rectifying the damage.

I've called this post part one as I am sure we will have plenty of other 'bodges' to share with you along the way!

Saturday, 22 August 2015

New House!

Well it has taken almost 5 months, but we finally completed on our new house!

Previously we have always been lucky enough to rent or own new build flats and so purchasing a property almost as old as me and the Mr has taken a huge dose of adjustment! We purchased our house on the shared ownership scheme and although it is far from perfect (and admittedly very over-priced!) we know we were lucky enough to be accepted as the scheme is highly sought after with huge waiting lists.  For us (like most), it was the only way we would ever be able to buy our very own home.

The major drawback with viewing shared ownership homes is that only the barest of details are listed (both online and with the estate agent/housing association) and you are lucky to see a photo of the outside of the property, it is almost never that a listing will feature interior shots or floor plans.  This means that you get into the habit of booking to view and having to keep an open mind when it comes to figuring out if this mystery house could be your dream home.

We had spent a total of 10 minutes viewing the house and although we could see it was tired and needed a lot of work, we knew we had to register our interest anyway as securing a house on the shared ownership scheme is a rare thing indeed.  We were initially told that the house had been offered to someone else, however a few days later we received a call to advise us their funding had fallen through (told you it was over-priced!) and were we still interested.  We jumped at the chance and were pleased as punch to finally be on our way up the housing ladder.

There were a lot of niggles with buying shared ownership that I will address one day in another post, but for now let's just focus on the awesome house!

Because the buying process dragged on, by the time the completion date rolled round we had mainly forgotten about the exact layout of the house and argued a lot about where things would eventually go!  As I mentioned before shared ownership property photographs are rather thin on the ground, BUT with a bit of internet detective work I did manage to find a 2008 listing for the property in the rightmove archives, complete with floor-plan!  Now we knew from our viewing that this was massively outdated (the latest owners were not a fan of domesticity and it really showed!) but it was better than nothing.

As you can see from the floor-plan, it isn't a mansion but it does have some nifty storage and a slightly bigger than average (for the house size) garden.

The outside looks pretty much the same, just even more tried!  A definite lick of paint is needed on that woodwork.

A perfectly functional kitchen

The garden is quite a good size and was at one time low maintenance but looked after.

I quite like the layout of the dining area as although it is attached to the living room, it still feels separate and has the bonus of the kitchen door being opposite the table area.

We are lucky enough to have two bedrooms and this is the master, a good size.

When the current owners moved out, they were inconsiderate enough to leave the house in quite a mess (I spent hours cleaning our flat making it welcoming for the new owners).  In fact I was so shell shocked at how severe the dirt and damage appeared (since our 10 minute viewing 5 months prior) that I forgot to take photographs until we started working on it!

We are actually lucky enough to have a hallway off the front door, a rarity in todays newer builds!

Just off the hallway we have a downstairs loo, essential in any home!  This room was probably the dirtiest in the house.  I usually have an iron stomach, but it took me a few days to steel myself against the filth to tackle it with bleach, gloves and a mask.  The wall tiles actually turned brown when I started wiping, it was months (if not years of filth) and yes that is a plastic cistern you can see, definitely original to the house :)

This poor sink was so old/dirty that all the metal work has corroded and not even the wonders of cillit bang can bring back it's sparkle, it definitely needs replacing.

The lounge isn't a bad size and although we aren't a fan of the dado rail, the work needed is mainly cosmetic.

I am slightly worried if our leather beast of a sofa and huge cuddle chair is going to fit, but I'm being optimistic!

We know just how lucky we are to have patio doors that go straight from the dining area into the garden and it is something the dogs will love!

Just off the living area we have this under-stairs cupboard with full size door.  It is a great area for storage and I have my heart set on converting part of it for pantry use!

The under-stairs cupboard isn't huge, but I think I can give it a makeover so the hoover can live in harmony with the pantry part.

 According to the latest owners the kitchen was updated two years ago.  In my opinion it was trashed two years ago!  Plug sockets were replaced at wonky angles and since the 'new' kitchen went in it has suffered major damage from improper use.  We have missing handles, broken cupboards and drawers, holes in cabinets, cracked floor tiles and the dirt is unbearable to think about.  The kitchen in our old flat was almost 6 years old and I am proud to say looked almost as good as new thanks to our careful ownership.

The old owners also left us with an unusable sink as they had bodged removing their washing machine and couldn't find a waste pipe cap to replace the part they removed.  A quick trip to wickes luckily solved this.

The kitchen isn't huge, but it's definitely bigger than my last one.

The stairs are actually off the hallway which is the preferable alternative to having them in the living room

Because they are so enclosed the stairs are quite dark, a light colour is definitely going to be needed.

The upstairs landing is tiny and windowless meaning like the stairs it is pretty dark unless all the bedroom/bathroom doors are open.

We do have the old airing cupboard where the heating tank used to be housed.  Although that curtain has to go!

Plenty of storage for towels and bedding in here!

When we first moved in, there were no bedroom doors attached to either room.  Quite annoying but I'm sure the previous owners had their reasons.

The master bedroom once belonged to children and so like the rest of the house it is worn and filthy.

Admittedly I am a little worried about painting over the areas where the vinyl has been, I just hope it doesn't take too many coats to stop it peeking through.

This room is a good size and definitely bigger than our old master bedroom.

When we tried re-hanging the second bedroom door, we realized what a bodge job it was.  There was a good 2 inches difference in height between one end and the other, with a wonky connecting line to boot!

We are lucky enough that this is a double bedroom too, we just need to decide if the baby or the business gets it!

The bathroom isn't a bad size, yet again it's just been poorly finished.  The toilet has a huge lean to the right and so far no one has been brave enough to use it!

The garden is beautiful and sunny!

Although it definitely needs some TLC, it definitely has potential!

We have a nice flowering tree in the corner

As the house is semi-detached, we are lucky enough to have side access from the front straight though to the back, this will be invaluable I'm sure!

The current owners put these weird trip hazards randomly dotted around the garden and my lovely mother in law is terrified I am going to trip (clumsy, me?) and squish the baby, they have to go!

One of the nicest surprises about the garden was this double shed.  Although it's been placed in a very awkward position (the middle of the garden!) it is going to be perfect as a work studio once water proofed and insulted.

I have to admit that I think the house looks very smart from the back!

In truth I am itching to move in, but we have owned it for two weeks now and the list of work that needs to be completed before we can finally start moving our items in seems to be growing.

Next time the make over will begin and I will reveal some of the slightly odder DIY quirks that our new house seems to possess!