Monday, 27 November 2017

Glucose Tolerance Test: What to expect

Last Monday saw me back at the midwife (after paying them a visit the previous Friday) for my glucose tolerance test. This is a test which shows whether or not you've developed gestational diabetes, a form of diabetes which can develop during pregnancy where the hormonal changes affect the body's ability to produce insulin.

At my booking appointment I was flagged as likely to need this test because of two factors; a family history of Type 2 diabetes and the fact I was on a cocktail of drugs following the fertility treatment. Later, I was prescribed steroids for the hyperemesis, this in turn increases one's risk of developing gestational diabetes. I think there was at least one other factor which raised my risk as well, possibly the fact I'm over 30. And I was sure that the fact I'd basically spent three months surviving on a diet of sweets and flat dandelion and burdock wouldn't have helped matters either.

When I broached the subject of the GTT test on the Friday, the midwife checked the protocols and agreed I was due to be tested and booked me back in for the Monday.

First things first, you have to fast for a set period of time before the test. I was due in for my first blood test (of three) at 9:15am so was given instructions to fast from midnight. This was the day after my baby shower so I'd had plenty of sweet treats and returned home with a cake. I had a sneaky plan to help myself to a slice if I found myself needing a late night loo trip. Of course I then slept through til 1:30am by which time there was no way I'd get away with a snack.

I was allowed small sips of water, so I was, thankfully, able to take my morning ondansetron. I'd had to check this with the midwife before test day, so if you're on any medication find out if you're allowed to take it. I was so glad they let me have the anti-emetic as if you throw up during the test, you have to repeat it at a later date. I was keen to get it out of the way without having to do a make up test later.

At 9:15am my mum and I rocked up to the maternity unit where my blood was taken. I'd had blood taken on the Friday from the right arm, so we started with the left. You've got to have a total of three blood draws so it's useful to know which veins are your best so you can point them out to the midwife. My elbow veins are great but the fact that I'd not drank much meant I was a little sluggish and it seemed to take ages to get enough into the vial.

I was then presented with a little plastic bottle which looked horribly like a bottle of Ensure at first glance. I'd been expecting Lucozade (which I strongly dislike) so this was a pleasant surprise. It tasted nothing like Lucozade (or Ensure) and was kind of sherbetty, like liquid sherbet fountain.

You've got to down it in five minutes. And then you wait.

This is where you really want to be prepared. Your blood is taken again one hour and two hours after your initial blood draw, so there's a lot of waiting. I was given the option to go away and come back for each following draw, but you're not allowed to move around too much (as this can affect the results of the test) and since it'd be a ten or so minute journey in each direction to head away from the hospital, there seemed little point in leaving.

Mum and I were shown to another room (our maternity unit consists of an examination/appointment room, a second examination room with the birthing pool, an office, a bedroom, a toilet, staff room, cupboard and sluice) since they needed to keep the examination room free for anyone else who came in. We spent most of the first hour sitting in the second examination room with the birthing pool and chatting.

I've heard of some people having these tests and having to sit in the waiting room for the duration, just getting called back for each blood draw. I'm glad that our hospital is small enough that we were just able to chill in a private room.

I'd also recommend that if you can take someone with you, do! Even if you have to sit in a waiting area, time goes a lot quicker if you've got someone to chat with.

We also brought plenty to entertain ourselves. Mum brought knitting, I took some work stuff to do (which I didn't do much with, I'll admit), my Kindle and Johanna Basford's Christmas Colouring Book.

Shortly before my 10:15am blood sample was due to be taken the two midwives who were on duty stopped by to check on how we were getting on, and stayed for a chat about my colouring and mum's crafting.

I have to admit, the two of them are my favourites. K is my named midwife who I've seen right since my first visit to the unit at 6+2 weeks when we rushed up there with the bleed that heralded the loss of Bo's twin. She was totally calm and reassuring, and even called back later in the day to check how I was doing. L is one of the midwives I saw two years ago when we miscarried the twins, she also saw us when we got the call that I was going to need to be admitted at 9 weeks due to the hyperemesis. Again, she was reassuring and concerned for me, making sure I had everything I needed for the journey to hospital and even gave me her bottle of juice from her lunch in case I wanted something to drink on the way. They're just lovely women.

So blood draw number two was back to the right arm and was pretty painful as that one had only been tapped three days before. Once again, I was slow to hit the mark on the vial. The midwife had me wiggling my fingers and everything to try getting it out quicker.

It was also a little after this that I started getting nauseous. I was kind of worried about this because 11am was one of my times when I used to throw up regularly and the last thing I wanted was to fall at the final hurdle. Luckily at this point, the midwife came and asked me if I'd like some tea and toast when I was done. This spurred me on, we'd planned to get something to eat right afterwards but I jumped at the prospect of tea and toast.

The final blood draw soon came round, at 11:15am. This wasn't the best of the three. The midwife wasn't keen on going back into the same left elbow vein as the first one, since it had bled a little afterwards, but she spotted a good looking vein off to the side of my arm, so we gave that one a go.

We won't be using that one again any time soon!

This was taken the morning after. It really surprised me the following morning when I spotted it, I rarely bruise from getting blood taken.

Soon enough I was being brought my tea and toast, and oh my, they don't kid around here! Normally when I've come round from an op you get a couple of thin slices of toast and a little cup of tea. Well, imagine my surprise when the midwife handed me a plate with four thick slices of toast with real butter! It was probably the best toast I've ever tasted. There was so much of it that I had to get my mum to eat some and still left a slice and a half on the plate!

And then we were free to go, at around 11:45am. Perhaps not the best way to spend a morning but it wasn't too bad over all.

Funnily enough, I wasn't too concerned about the results. I knew that either I wouldn't have gestational diabetes or I would, in which case I'd have a new series of appointments to deal with it.

When the phone rang at 5:50pm, right at the end of Oz the Great and Powerful, I was convinced that they'd found something was up and that was why they were calling me. Turns out, it was all good, including the results from the Friday (with the exception of one, which we find out later hadn't been run correctly at the lab ago needed to be repeated on Thursday).

So I cracked out a box of chocolates to celebrate, guilt free!

Oh, and that bruise?

As of Saturday it had gone a delightful shade of eggplant!

Saturday, 25 November 2017

29 Weeks Pregnant

At some point in a little over 70 days I will be having a baby. This is kind of a freaky thought.

I have to say, I've reached a point (which I didn't think would happen four months ago) where I'm actually loving being pregnant. I felt so rotten and awful in the beginning, I worried I wasn't bonding with Bo at all, that I was just going to feel ill the whole way through and would just have to get used to being miserable. But then I started feeling him move and something seemed to change.

Now it's like he's something which is entirely mine. Mr Click gets to see and feel the kicks, but I have to tell him when they're coming or he has to just be lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time. But I know Bo. I can predict when I'll feel him and what will set him off wiggling. There's something so enjoyable about feeling him move, even if it is in the wee small hours of the morning, and knowing this is just been us.

It's going to be so strange not to share my body with him when he's born. And even stranger to share him with other people; at the moment when the hand drier at work startles him, I'm the only one who knows and reassures him, in February everyone will know when he's startled and anyone could step up and calm him.

So yeah, I'm going to miss being pregnant in 10-ish weeks time. But I'm looking forward to meeting my little guy and getting to know him in a whole new way.

This last week has been really busy, what with my mum coming to visit. I've also been really busy with work as well. I'm not complaining at all, it's been lovely having mum up and I've only got a little over 30 working days till my Mat Leave starts!

Last Saturday we finally took a trip into Glasgow, something I've been wanting to do for about two and a half months. We looked into baby carriers and have settled on the Ergobaby 360 which is a little costly but which ticks all our boxes for what we need. It was kind of weird seeing Mr Click wearing a baby carrier. Exciting too!

We then took a stroll down Buchanan Street to visit Primark on Argyll Street. At which point I realised I need to be aware of my limitations because no sooner had I stepped inside the warm and crowded shop, I felt really faint and had to have an impromptu sit down on the floor. It passed quickly and I relocated to the footwear area (where there were seats) and ate some sugary sweets while Mr Click went off to find the tops I wanted and my mum kept me company.

I think it was in part because of the heat and also because at work I graze all morning and I'd not eaten much that day, so my blood sugar must have dropped. I did figure it would bode well for my glucose tolerance test later in the week, since if my blood sugar was dipping like that, it probably wouldn't come back too high.

The glucose tolerance test was Monday, but I'll blog a little about that in another blog post.

I'll wrap up this post with a truly cute photo. I've been a little anxious about how Tara is coping with all the changes in our lifestyle both now and in the future. She's put up with Mr Click spending more time running after me, she's had fewer walks and trips out than she would like, and we're slowly filling our house up with lots of interesting smelling goodies which so far she's been allowed to sniff but not play with.

But I think she does really love the baby, since whenever we let her back up on the bed this is what she has to do!

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Surprise Baby Shower

I have a sneaky, sneaky family and even sneakier friends.

I've mentioned that my mum was visiting last weekend. Since I'm doing much better at not throwing up now, providing I remember to actually take my anti-emetic on time, we've been able to do a whole lot more than during her last visit (when I was 11 weeks pregnant and essentially spent most of my time throwing up).

We'd had a midwife appointment and a meal out on the Friday, a trip to Glasgow for some clothes shopping and to look at baby carriers on the Saturday (which was great though I did overdo it a little and had to sit on the floor of Primark after coming over a bit faint), and on Sunday we planned to recover and take a walk in the afternoon.

I suggested we stroll along the beach at Scalpsie or Kilchattan and my mum jumped on the Kilchattan suggestion. Both mum and Mr Click seemed very keen for me to wear one of my new tops from our shopping expedition the previous day, which was a little odd but I figured they were just both pleased for me to have clothes that fit me again. Mr Click was out playing at church but when he returned he seemed very insistent that we had to leave for our walk pretty soon. Again, a little odd, but once he plans to do something he likes to get it done. I figured he was worried we'd change our minds and not go for a walk after all.

As we headed towards the beach my mum piped up from the back asking 'could we stop at Kingarth'. Again, a strange request, since we'd only traveled about five minutes from home, but I guessed she might have needed the loo.

We pulled up and I spotted my friend's car and speculated that she'd come out for lunch with someone, after all it was her birthday the other day, so that would've made sense. Mum disappeared inside and returned a few minutes later, this time asking me to join her. I was baffled but followed along, wondering if she was trying to make plans for accommodation when Bo is born, or perhaps for family members coming to the christening.

Inside there were a large group of friends and work colleagues. I was kind of baffled and for a moment I thought my mum was bringing me in to see them. It took a few seconds to realise they were all there for me!

I was totally and utterly spoiled. And it turns out that one of my friends had organised most of it, with help from my actually-quite-good-at-keeping-secrets husband, and had even got it arranged for when mum was visiting. Suddenly lots of little things fell into place, like the random insistence on me wearing a new top out and all the people asking what I still needed to get for the baby; one of the things they'd considered getting for us was the cot, until we got that ourselves!

We had presents and afternoon tea. Baby Bo is so well loved and spoiled already. He's got even more clothes, a whole hamper of baby essentials, and even more goodies from his Naini (she already came with blankets, muslins and handmade clothes); this included the essential parenting handbook 'Dr Xargle's Book of Earthlets'.

And then there were the games. We played guess the baby food (all desserts, thankfully) and tried to identify the substances in several nappies (there was some anxiety as the person who organised that one does have a young grandson and we were concerned the nappies looked a little too genuine). And stick the dummy on the baby.

There was even cake, made by my friend with an icing bunny on top. It was a fantastic afternoon.

I never really imagined I'd ever get to have a baby shower, it was something I liked the idea of but just didn't think it would happen. I vaguely at one point thought about trying to get my friends together to meet my mum while she was visiting, but sort of ran out of time to follow through on that idea.

It was great that she was able to come along and be involved. She even got a sash all of her own. I know she enjoyed herself and I definitely did as well.

Now I just need to find somewhere to keep all our new goodies.

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

28 Weeks Pregnant: Hello Third Trimester!

I'm so late posting this week, I'm going to blame my mum for that (hi mum!) since she's visiting this weekend and spending time with her has kept me busy and is kind of more interesting than blogging.

Friday just gone saw me hit 28 weeks which means I'm now officially into the home stretch. Third Trimester! It's scary to think how little time we have left now. It's like I've finally gotten used to being pregnant and soon everything is going to change again.

I'm truly loving my bump. I've been one of those women who just can't keep their hands off it, especially since Bo is pretty active and seems to expect some kind of response whenever he makes a move in there. I'm not loving the weird shape of my belly button so much, but it's a small price to pay for this gorgeous, round belly I've got now.

My Ovia Pregnancy app informs me that Baby Bo is currently the size of an echidna which is a painfully spiky animal to be considering in relation to one's reproductive organs!

He's certainly feeling a lot bigger these days and should be clocking in around the 2lbs mark by now. I'm more aware of body parts than I have been in the past. One day last week, after sorting a bunch of baby clothes onto his shelves, I wound up with a little foot using my ribcage as a footrest. Four hours later, after feeling something akin to heartburn in my lower ribcage, I was able to get him to shift it by lying on my side in a warm bath. I angled the side of the bump he was occupying so it was out of the water and he snuggled down into the warm bit. Instant relief! I'm going to have to get them to install a bath for me at work!

As I mentioned, mum's been visiting, and as I had a midwife appointment on Friday I invited her along. Mr Click has been to every appointment along the way for the IVF but I think he finds the midwife catch up appointments a little boring, apart from hearing Bo's heartbeat. He's deaf so he misses a lot of what is said, and there's lots of talking about various bits of my body that he's sort of excluded from, so I gave him the day off from this one and took mum instead so she could listen in on her grandson.

It ended up being a longer appointment than I was expecting. Up till now my appointments have consisted mostly of checking my blood pressure and heart rate (always higher when I'm at a medical appointment), doing a urine dip (finally got the hang of not producing ketones), checking whether I'm still throwing up (only when I forget to take my ondansetron), and then running through a little check list of how I'm feeling, how the baby is doing and topping up any bits and pieces I need like leaflets or vitamins.

This included all of the above but also my anti-D injection and a discussion about the birth and breastfeeding.

The anti-D shot is because I've got Rhesus Negative blood and rather than checking what blood type Mr Click is and trusting that the Glasgow Royal injected the right sperm into my egg, it's more fun to stab me with a really big needle and inject something stingy into my arm! It's basically to protect me, Bo and any future offspring against complications arising from my body becoming sensitised to Rhesus Positive blood.

I was under the impression I'd get two of these shots during pregnancy but it turns out they were giving me the full whack in one go. I'm grateful for this because it's not a particularly pleasant injection, though it's probably comparable to others I've had along the way. More stingy than the Clexane I was on, probably on a level with the Prostap.

One of the downsides to IVF treatment is that you get very familiar with needles and when the midwife brought it out I recognised that it was a green coloured needle. Those are the thick ones I used to draw up the liquid out of a vial before switching to a finger orange one for the actual injection. The anti-D injection is intramuscular so is done with the giant green needle. I felt pretty bruised afterwards and it bled a bit (because the big needle punches a sizeable hole in your arm), but otherwise it wasn't too bad. The midwife kept warning me it would hurt and apologising but it really was no big deal; getting a Prostap shot to my bum then having a bumpy ride home was still more unpleasant than this one.

We chatted about my hopes for breastfeeding, which was kind of good to have my mum there for, since she's done it twice herself. I want expecting the little pop quiz from the midwife about why breastfeeding was good for the baby but I rattled off what I knew about boosting his immunity, giving him the right vitamins and all that jazz. I feel confident that it's something I'll be supported with along the way and that they'll answer any questions I've got along the way.

We chatted about skin to skin after the birth as well, and how Mr Click can be involved with that. Probably the one bit of the discussion he missed out on in this appointment, but he'd already told me he wanted to do it so I knew his thoughts and feelings. He's also expressed a wish to stick at the head end of the bed when his son's born so we spoke about that too. I'm comfortable with him being wherever he's must comfortable during my labour, providing that's conscious and in the same room as me. Him getting squicked out and fainting if things get a bit gory won't do anyone any good!

That kind of led nicely to our discussion about the birth when the midwife checked I was aware that it would be likely I'd be induced at 39 weeks if labour didn't happen naturally by then. It wasn't news to me, but it's kind of scary to actually hear someone else say it.

The main reason for this is because of the IVF treatment. With a 'normal' pregnancy there's a margin of error for when the vast was conceived and how old the placenta is; in an IVF pregnancy we know virtually to the minute. After 40 weeks of pregnancy, IVF babies have a higher rate of complications, which isn't fully understood but is thought to be due to a combination of factors; the placenta gets older and doesn't function as well because the baby is almost done using it, women who have had fertility treatment may be older so don't have age on their side, other factors which caused the infertility might come into play (we're well aware of my endometriosis and the clotting issue that could have potentially stopped the placenta from working in the first trimester), among other reasons. All this means that the closer we get to my due date, the safer Bo will be outside of my body.

The other issue is because I've been flagged as high risk, I'm not allowed to give birth on the island. We have a tiny community birthing unit (one room, plus another with a birthing pool) and they just don't have the tools and equipment for dealing with a complicated labour. The last thing anyone wants is for a helicopter to take them to the mainland while they're in the throes of labour and things have started going wrong.

I'll be giving birth in the consultant led unit in a big Glasgow hospital so it's better that I'm booked in there for a specific date than potentially having to make an hour and a half ferry and road journey, or use the aforementioned helicopter. We should find out more about the specifics at our December consultant appointment.

The midwife had a good poke at Bo and figured out that he was chilling in a had down, bum up position. His heartbeat was just fine (I think measuring between 126bpm and 155bpm while she monitored it); he got a good solid kick on his old nemesis, the doppler, too. It was hard enough that my mum saw it move from across the room. I had my belly measured too and clocked in at 27cm, putting Bo squarely in the 50% percentile.

And that was pretty much it, apart from me asking the midwife about my glucose tolerance test and her realising that I did need to do one and it should have probably been scheduled for that day's appointment.

I did that yesterday in the end, but that's for another blog post.

Saturday, 11 November 2017

27 Weeks Pregnant

Have you noticed a stranger commenting on your recent blog posts? Perhaps during the wee small hours of the morning.

Yes, I'm slowly getting back into visiting my friends blogs, usually early in the morning when Bo is having a kickboxing session and I can't sleep.

There's been rather a lot of not sleeping this week. I keep waking after midnight, going to the loo, then tossing and turning until around 4am. As well as having an irrational hatred of my right thigh, Bo's not keen on me resting my arm on my belly, which is unfortunate considering the size of it (my belly, not my arm). There's really nowhere else for it to go (either belly or arm).

If anything my bump is even bigger today than that photo taken yesterday.

Speaking of yesterday, the day I hit 27 weeks pregnant also happens to be the 40th anniversary of Louise Brown's conception. For those not in the know, she was the first person to be born as a result of IVF treatment. It made me feel rather emotional to know that just over forty years ago, none of this was possible.

In fact, it's only 34 years since the first successful frozen embryo transfer and only 25 since the first conception using ICSI. That's massive developments in infertility treatment roughly within my lifespan; I can't help but wonder how things will change by the time Bo is my age!

This week has reminded me of just how loved Bo is already.

At work I was called into another room where a massive pile of baby clothes had been laid out for me. One of my colleagues (the one who addresses all his emails to me and the bump, like Bo is part of our team) had a clear out and we are now conveniently well stocked on clothes in 'tiny baby' sizing.

Honestly, it feels like he could fit into some of them already! I sorted through them this afternoon and came to feel what was either an unusually hard hernia or a baby foot pressing out just under my ribcage. Since it's mostly moved now, I'm guessing that's just my son stretching his legs!

And we've booked Bo's baptism as well.

It's something we've been discussing in recent weeks. Whether we would go for a baptism or a blessing service (slightly different wording and no godparents). Mr Click is involved musically in two sister churches which both have the same minister so there was the question of where it would be as well.

As he's more religiously inclined than I am, and y'know actually goes to church at least once a month, I left it to him to investigate and decide on what we'd do.

Well, this week it all came together. The minister is happy to do the full baptism, the couple we'd hoped to be Bo's godparents are thrilled to have been asked, people at work have said they'd like to come.

I may have got a little emotional about this yesterday which came to a head when I discovered we'd run out of orange juice and so had a little cry.

It's amazing to be making plans for this little person who isn't actually here yet. I mean he's very much here, I can feel him trying to move into my ribcage as I type, but he's still not quite a tangible person.

And yet by this time next week I will have entered my third trimester. I'm only going to get bigger and more uncomfortable as the weeks go on and yet each week, each day, brings me closer to meeting this little guy in person. And I'm so in love with him I just can't wait to get properly acquainted.

Friday, 3 November 2017

26 Weeks Pregnant

After our rocky start to pregnancy, with the sickness and the dehydration and the liver failure, I'm really enjoying this stage. Looking back to 14 weeks ago, I couldn't really imagine feeling so happy and comfortable as I do now.

Of course, comfortable is a relative term.

I'm getting pretty used to feeling uncomfortable somewhere between most of the day and all of the time, and I'm fully aware that as Bo and I grow, that's only going to get worse. But on the whole, not feeling like you're dying does wonders to improve your general mood and well-being.

I think feeling Bo move makes such a difference. I'm fairly certain that my mood directly correlates to how much he's been moving on a given day. If I feel several good wiggle sessions I can just relax and enjoy him; if he's quieter or has turned round so I don't feel him so well, then I can't help but worry.

As I'm writing this (at 6.30am!) he's been thumping and kicking and wiggling for the last hour and a half. I think we'll have a quiet day today after this, I'm pretty knackered and I've just been lying here feeling his workout so he must be ready for a good long nap!

I love feeling like in getting to know him. I realise this may all be projection, there's no real way of knowing what he'll be like til he arrives, but right now I have a sense of him being quite a lot like me in personality (spare a moment of sympathy for poor Mr Click at the thought of there being two of me in our house).

I've mentioned before that Bo doesn't like his space to be invaded. He even takes offense to me leaning an arm on my bump or letting the edge of a plate rest against it. I'll get a series of kicks to let me know something is in his way and he'd like it gone.

But he also seems to like reassurance that he's not alone. He'll often kick and if I don't give him a little pat or rub, I'll get another insistent little kick. Of course he kicks back when I poke him but if I don't respond to him it's like he's trying to get my attention and one he knows I'm listening (or rather, feeling, him) I get lighter taps or he moves on to thumping somewhere else.

I can kind of imagine him being in there going "Mum. Mum! MUM!" Until he gets his response. It's sweet. I can't help but wonder if this will continue when he's born. Perhaps he won't want us rubbing or touching him when he's in his crib, but he'll let out a little noise every once and a while to remind us he's there and check we're still paying attention to him.

I can't wait to find out.

I've also just this week discovered that the hand dryers at work make him jump. They sound like aeroplane engines but maybe a decibel or two louder. I thought I'd noticed movement from him when I was drying my hands but it wasn't until yesterday that I could be sure there was a pattern, sure enough, there is. The second the dryer goes on, I get a little jump in my belly and sometimes he follows it up with a thump (presumably the antenatal version of hitting the ceiling with a broom). I can't really blame him, the source of the noise is only a few inches away from my belly after all.

I also feel like I'm growing by the hour at the moment. At work today I got several comments from people about my rapidly expanding belly (it's 34" around my belly button and about 37" around at the widest point)! The vest top I wore to work today actually tucked in when I put it on, though it didn't stay that way if I raised my arms, but by the time I left it wouldn't come more than an inch below my belly button. I'm going to need to get some more in a larger size (these are my regular size 10 vest tops from Primark) or I'll just accept that vest tops make me look like Winnie the Pooh now!

It is a little alarming to think I've still got 14 weeks to go and so much more growing to do. But I'm enjoying watching the bump grow.

I don't think I've ever allowed so many photos to be taken of me!

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Having a baby on a budget

I've made no secret of the fact that it's taken a lot of expense to make Baby Bo, physical and emotional expense mostly, but there's a lot of actual financial expense there too.

For starters there was a £4000 loan for our private first round of treatment (which was ultimately cancelled so we didn't actually use it all).

Then there were all the pennies spent on our 'free' NHS goes. Whenever IVF on the NHS gets mentioned in the news it seems to be assumed that you're just handed the treatment on a plate, but there are a huge number of costs associated with it; travel to the hospital for scans and blood tests three times a week, the days lost from work for those appointments, the hotel you may need to stop in to get to egg collection on time, the recovery time afterwards which again eats into your work hours.

Plus there's the other little expenses associated with trying to conceive; 7.5 years worth of folic acid (admittedly, I qualified for that on the NHS but when they started finding my baby I switched to buying my own multivitamin), ovulation tests, the masses of pregnancy tests.

It all adds up.

People have been very quick to tell me that having a baby is expensive. We've spent thousands on making Baby Bo; getting ready for his arrival, we've spent hundreds and we're practically ready to go.

Here's how we're doing it:

Buy second-hand
This seems so obvious to me but the number of people who have reacted with horror at the thought of us putting our previous infant into things that have been *gasp* used before!

Newsflash! Babies grow. Fast.

In the same breath as telling me they only ever bought brand new stuff for their baby, at massive expense, these people often tell me how many things they passed on that had never been worn or used because baby outgrew them.

With that in mind, Mr Click and I have been scouring our local Facebook resale pages and eBay for bargains with the caveat that the two things we absolutely must buy new are the cot mattress and car seat.

Sometimes this might mean buying things a little sooner than you planned. I agonized over whether or not to pick up the Moses basket above when it was listed on Facebook as I'd only just turned 13 weeks pregnant, wasn't that too early?

The desire for a good bargain won out and we got it for £20, when the complete set online retails for around £140. Obviously we bought a brand new mattress but the whole thing came to less than £30.

Other great deals have included:

  • A box of assorted 0-3 months clothing for £13 on eBay
  • A bouncy chair for £10 from a local Facebook group
  • A second bouncy chair (for Grandma and Grandad's house), baby gym, baby bath seat, and a selection of toys, blankets, muslins, and clothes of various sizes all for £60 from our next door neighbour
  • A cot complete with brand new, never used mattress, for £45 from our friends' parents
  • Another box of assorted baby clothes, blankets and bedding for £15 from eBay
We've got some filling up round the edges to do in the clothing department but getting second-hand means we have a good selection of clothes to be starting with. And what we buy new will be filling in the gaps, rather than having to start from scratch so it helps take some of the pressure off too.

Use what you already have
Buying baby stuff seems to be a lot like buying wedding stuff. You add one extra little keyword and suddenly there's another one (or two!) zeros on the end of the price!

I was horrified early in the pregnancy to discover that in one popular baby supply store you can buy a set of drawers for over £200 which you then have to pay an additional £60 to get a wooden tray to attach to the top to use as a changing table! Especially as 90% of the people I've spoken to have said 'don't waste your money on a changing table'.

Bo's room has been a spare room/general dumping ground since we moved in. We've put a bed in there, which we're keeping as it doesn't make sense to get rid of a perfectly good need he'll eventually need anyway. And two bookcases, one of which we always planned to keep in there for him, the other had a slightly more ambiguous fate.

Until recently.

It occurred to me that the bookcase would probably actually work quite well as a makeshift wardrobe. Sure enough, £21 later, we've bought some plastic tubs and baskets to use as 'drawers' and I've already started stashing baby clothes in them.

In the future we can buy a wardrobe when Bo's actually old enough to need one. And then I can have my bookcase back.

Accept hand-me-downs and gifts, but be specific
Several people have offered me freebies, just the other week at work a friend heard me talking about sheets for the Moses basket. A few days later she gave me a bag containing three from when her daughters were tiny.

Other people have offered to buy little presents or asked what we needed. It's weird to tell people what you want, but it's a good way to fill in the gaps in your inventory. To start off with I was noncommittal and replied with things like 'whatever, just clothes and things' which is clearly a frustrating answer to receive.

When a friend asked more recently I was perfectly happy to let her know I was looking for a baby sleeping bag. It gave her something specific to look for and I've got something to tick off my list of things to get.

Plus it saves me the trouble of having to clear through a bunch of things we'll never want nor need without hurting anyone's feelings. If you don't want your baby dressed in a certain style of clothing, tell people, they'll be grateful to get you something you'll actually like.

The biggest gift we've received is our pram, from my mum and step-dad (no pictures yet since it deserves a post of its own). We saved money here by doing our research, going for a less well-known brand and ordering it direct from the manufacturer. This meant that we got a lot more for our money than if we'd gone for the equivalent big name brand version.

Not everyone is lucky enough to have people who can spring for the big ticket stuff like this and we would have been happy going second-hand for the pram, then getting our car seat brand new ourselves. Bo's other grandparents have offered to take car of his next car seat for us which was also very generous and not something we were counting on. People want to get involved when you're having a baby so don't feel bad about saying yes if someone wants to treat you and the baby. Make sure you find out their budget and stick within it; spend their money wisely, you don't want to take liberties with their goodwill.

Speaking of which...

Set a budget
Mr Click and I never formally sat down with a spreadsheet to work out what we'd spend and where, but we had a rough idea of what we were willing to pay. We visited John Lewis and Mothercare early in the game to get an idea of prices for things, then compared then across the board in places like Tesco, Asda and online.

It's very easy to get swept up in the excitement of having a baby and get carried away buying things you could get cheaper or elsewhere.

Listen to advice (but feel free to disregard it)
You know how it is, you get pregnant and suddenly everyone's an expert on what you should and shouldn't be doing, but the people who have done it before are a handy resource.

I've asked countless people what their essential items were and what they've regretted buying. And been surprised by the answers a lot of the time. Changing tables are viewed by most as wholly unnecessary whereas you can never have too many blankets or muslins. Certain brands of nappies get ranked higher than others and plenty of people are quick to tell you which own brand products are better than the real thing.

Of course, for every person who insists they couldn't have done without the £200 vibrating baby chair for their colicky infant, there's someone else whose baby hated it. So ask around before making any big purchases and if you're at all unsure, don't rush into buying something just because someone else said you should.

Take advantage of offers and stock up in advance
Everyone seems to have a Baby Event every few months nowadays. Between us my mum, Mr Click and I have taken great advantage of the Aldi event, buying a little of everything so we've now got bottles, blankets, muslins (can't have too many, remember), towels and a baby monitor.

It felt a little strange to start buying nappies when I was just four months pregnant, but it helps to spread the cost. Better to spend the odd £5-10 on them now and get a good supply in, than find ourselves constantly running out and having to go to the expensive local shops when Bo arrives (though that well inevitably happen too).

I'm sure that there are plenty of other things I could add to this list. As it stands we've probably spent less than £300 kiting ourselves out for Baby Bo's arrival; including the travel system that's still less than £600 (we easily spent that much on hospital trips to the ACS clinic in Glasgow this year alone).

So while we might have spent a small fortune making the baby, we're fairly confident that we're saving enough money in our preparations for him getting here that we'll be able to focus on using the money we've saved to really enjoy him when he's born.

What are your tips for having a baby on a budget?