Pregnancy and birth – Matthew

John was at work on a Saturday morning when I got my positive pregnancy test with Matthew. I looked at that line and felt so happy. My final pregnancy and one to savour as much as possible. I let myself have a morning of feeling thankful that I’ve always manged to get pregnant quickly, and excited at what was to come, and then tried as far as possible to forget that I was pregnant until I’d had the scan and seen a heartbeat. After the two miscarriages between having the girls I was very aware that a positive test didn’t mean a baby.

This time there was no pale tinge on the toilet paper, no spotting, and no bleeding. There was no reason for me to have an early scan but we did pay for a private one at 8 weeks because the wait for the 12 week scan just felt so long. I figured if there was no heart beat I’d rather know (still based on the assumption / hope that my miscarriages had happened because the heart had never started beating), and if there was a heart beat it might give peace of mind. It was there, pumping away at the 8 week scan and then again at the 12 week scan, at which point I started to relax a bit.

Katie was an absolute sweetheart when we told her she was going to have another brother or sister. She was just turning 4 so whereas the news was a bit lost on Alice in the beginning (she wasn’t quite 2) Katie understood and seemed genuinely excited – in comparison with now when Alice and Matthew ask me if they can have a little brother or sister and Katie looks at me in total horror! I showed her the scan picture of the baby in my tummy and she wanted to keep it in bed with her and give it a hug. It didn’t really mean anything to Alice until my tummy started growing, and then she absolutely loved my bump. She was always hugging it and calling it ‘boy baby’. She loved my bump so much I wondered what she’d make of it when it disappeared and turned into an actual baby, but when Matthew was born she loved him just as much as she had the bump.

This time we decided that we would find out the sex at the 20 week scan. To be fair, even if we hadn’t asked to find out we would have known. A little penis was right there clear as day, sticking up like a rocket about to take off! We told our family and friends we were having a boy, and Katie was really pleased as she’d been saying she wanted a little brother.

So many people made comments that we must be pleased to be having a boy, and that John especially must be excited to have a son. A lot of people also joked that we could stop having babies now we were having a boy. There seemed to be this assumption that if we already had a boy we wouldn’t have had a third child, and it really bothered me. I would hate Alice to think that if she had been a boy not a girl our family would have been complete sooner, like she’s not good enough for being a second girl. Baby number three was purely a case of wanting baby number three, not wanting a boy. I never really had any strong feelings about what gender I was hoping for with any of my pregnancies, I just wanted a baby. With Katie I was convinced I was having a boy so maybe subconsciously that’s what I wanted. With Alice I genuinely didn’t care at all what the sex was. With Matthew, if anything having already had two girls I would have chosen to have another girl. But it was just nice to find out, regardless of whether he’d been a boy or a girl.

John really liked the name Frank for a boy but I was a firm no on that one (sorry any Franks out there!) But while I was pregnant my bump became known as Frank. We never had nicknames for the girls when they were bumps, and I quite liked having a Frank!

I was under consultant care again through my pregnancy. As I’d already had two C-sections the doctor told me that there wasn’t a choice this time and it was hospital policy to advise against trying for a natural birth, so it would be a third C-section. That was absolutely fine with me – better the devil you know. I also had regular growth scans because I had gestational diabetes this time round. They advised me not to eat too many carbohydrates, and that kept my blood sugars under control so I didn’t need insulin or anything like that. Matthew was consistently measuring big in all my scans and the doctors commented a couple of times that it was a good thing I was having a C-section. As with Alice, I was booked in at 39 weeks. When Matthew was born he weighed in at 9lbs 2ozs – so big enough especially as he was a week early, but not the giant I’d been expecting.

He was so active in my tummy. I could constantly feel him kicking and wriggling and rolling around. It felt like he never stopped. When they put the monitor on me the morning I went in to have him they said the same. They kept having to move the monitor as he was wriggling around so much they kept losing his heart beat and had to start again.

As with Alice, I loved my elective C-section. We were first on the list again so we had our baby in the morning and got to spend the rest of the day giving him hugs, staring at him, and having visitors. He looked so like Alice when he was born!

The first thing he did was to pee all over himself. It took a little while to get to hold him because although he did cry straight away it sounded very gurgly and a bit ‘wet’ so they called a paediatrician into the operating theatre to check him over. It took about 30 mins but he was given the all clear and I’d been stitched back up in the meantime so then we got to say our hellos to our little boy.

Katie was at school and Alice was at preschool when Matthew was born. My mum had stayed over the night before and got the girls sorted in the morning while we went to the hospital. Alice was due to finish preschool at lunch time anyway, and Katie got the afternoon off school and they came to visit us and meet Matthew which was lovely.

I was totally different this time about having to stay in hospital. After having Alice I’d been so desperate to get home. This time round I made sure to just enjoy some peace and quiet with our new baby. I only stayed in for two days / nights – Matthew was born on a Wednesday and we were discharged on the Friday. It was really nice just to chill out with him, hug him, feed him, look at him, do not a lot. He was born on 30th November so I took a load of Christmas cards to hospital with me and got them all written out while I was there. I’ve never been so organised!

John had 3 weeks off work again after Matthew was born so he did all the school and preschool runs until the end of term while I stayed home with the baby, and then it was the Christmas holidays so by the time the girls went back to school / preschool in January I was up and running again. It was nice to be broken into life with three small people quite gently, although it did make me laugh with the difference between your first baby and your third. After a C-section the advice is not to drive or do much for the first 6 weeks and I totally took that on board when I had Katie. I stayed at home and people came to visit but I didn’t drive or go anywhere until my time was up. When Matthew was born the girls had their Christmas nativities coming up so 5 days after having him I was off to see Alice the singing snowman in her preschool performance, and the next day to see Katie the singing sheep in her school performance!

It’s weird writing about becoming a family of 5. In a way it feels like two seconds ago but also such a long time ago since we had such small children. I look back at the pictures of when Matthew was born and think we were crazy. We had a newborn, a 2 year old and a 4 year old and it was hectic! I can’t imagine going back to that level of chaos as even though they’re still young (5,7,9) it just feels a lifetime ago now.

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