Love Jenuine

Harry was 17 weeks when I considered weaning. I had read so much about the government guidelines being 6 month (24 weeks),plus the health visitor drills it in to you, but Harry was always hungry, and I had already moved to combination feeding but he still wanted more. He had slept through the night from 11/12 weeks old, and all of a sudden he was waking at 1am for another feed. We brought back the dream-feed, that did the trick, but i felt we were going backwards instead of forwards.

Both my own mum and my mother-in-law told me I should start weaning. I was a little scared, and I didn’t want to damage his digestive system, but I could also see the signs. He was sitting up by himself, he was watching us eat and drink (i constantly felt guilty, and even hid when I was eating), so I gave it a go with a tiny bit if baby rice, well he nearly took my hand off!!!

We gave him 1 teaspoon of rice mixed with his milk, and he ate it so fast we had to make more, he wasn’t bothered by the spoon, right then I knew we’d made the right decision to start him weaning.

I had no idea what to do next, how do you make the transition from milk to food. What foods can you give him? Is there anything dangerous? what happens if he chokes, When do you cut down their milk? I needed guidance, so who else to turn to but Gina Ford (and my mum – of course!).

Gina Fords book ‘The contented little baby book of weaning‘ actually addresses how to wean a baby before the recommended 6 month mark, this helped a lot. She takes you through introducing food in groups, so fruit, veg then protein etc.

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I was really looking forward to the weaning, and it was exciting to be starting a new stage of Harry’s life. A couple of my friends had warned me about weaning, about how tedious it could be, and you get sick of pureeing food, boiling fruit,  filling ice-cube trays and cleaning it all up. To begin with it was novelly, but now I am 10 weeks in, I can not wait for Harry to be able to eat what we eat!

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I followed GF’s book to the tee for about the first 8 weeks, but I found Harry was getting a bit bored of the same food, and he was starting to reject his own food, and be grabbing for ours instead. I had heard of ‘Baby-led weaning’ when I was pregnant, but as I started weaning Harry early, and he couldn’t hold his own food, I didn’t think it would work. Now Harry was gone 6 months and could easily hold his food, I tried it out  a couple of  times,  just giving him chunks of broccoli, cheese, fruit etc to eat himself. They say it encourages the baby to develop quicker, better hand-eye coordination, and plus it means they can join in family meal times.

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Once I let Harry pick his own food, I realised he could chew more than I thought (and not choke!), and so I stopped pureeing his food (hurrah!!!), and I started to make the things we were eating but mashing them up, so tuna pasta, pasta in tomato sauce with cheese and ham, roast dinners and salmon with veg. I would mash it so it was ‘textured’ (not lumpy), and he loves it. I do also give him finger foods, so pieces of pear, strawberries and in the mornings, and he either has porridge which I feed him, or I make him wholemeal toast very lightly buttered, and just cut one piece in to strips.

Harry’s nearly 7 months and seems really happy and content. Over the past two weeks, I have experimented with what I can make for him, and stopped worrying so much about following a plan, and gone with what i think is best for him. I dont include salt in any of my cooking, and use low salt, sugar free, and wholemeal  ingredients where possible. I tend to give him a mixture of finger foods and mashed foods now, but i am working towards giving him more solid foods when i can.

Cutting down his milk was a bit worry of mine, and I really went with my gut instinct on this one. I cut down his lunch time milk first and about 2 weeks ago removed it completely, and spent time trying to get him to drink from a sipy cup instead, either water or juice. This took about 4 weeks, but now we have a cup of water/juice every day, and drinks it between his feeds and milk. I haven’t figured out when i will take down his afternoon milk, probably when he doesn’t drink it all, or even seem to want it anymore.

What I am really learning with each of these new stages and experiences, is you need someone to give you an initial guidance on how to manage the next stage, such as weaning, breastfeeding, but once you start working with your baby, you seen realise you will always know whats best for your own child, and you have to go with your gut (maternal) instincts. I still find the best advice comes from my mum. She brought up 4 of us, and works with children, but she will always remind me ‘mum knows best!’

If anyone has any advice or tips, i would love to hear, as i am still in the thick of the ‘weaning’ stage, and so welcome the help.

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22. 06. 2014

maternity shopping

To follow on from my maternity ‘what’s hot and what’s not’ I have jotted down my tips for maternity shopping.

 

clothes

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’d really like to hear any tips you have or advice you can offer for others currently looking to revamp their maternity wardrobe.

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21. 06. 2014

titleAs mentioned in my previous post Part 2: when it all becomes real we took a holiday when I was 16 weeks and I was certainly more rounded (when you basically look like you’ve eaten too many pies), but it wasn’t till about 20-22 weeks you could really tell I was pregnant. At this point I was struggling to get into my skinny jeans, I held off buying maternity for as long as possible, so took myself off to Primark, and bought the next size up skinny jeans. At £10 a pair, these were a bargain. They also came in useful once I had given birth, and my maternity clothes were too big.
I searched high and low for fairly inexpensive maternity clothes, I didn’t want to spend too much, as they would only fit for a couple of months, but I did still want to look and feel good.

Here is my ‘what’s hot and what’s not’ maternity wardrobe list!

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SERAPHINE was recommended by a friend, and Kate Middleton had been seen in lots of their dresses, but I found them very overpriced, and the styles were quite dull.

ASOS has a big maternity range, so i ordered a variation of tops, dresses and jeans, but the quality was really poor. Most of the tops were see-through, or didn’t have much room for growth. I ended up keeping 1 top, mainly as I had a weekend away and just needed something that would fit, but even then I had to wear a cami underneath it.

They do stock other brandS though so it’s quite a good place just to have a browse.

NEW LOOK  have a small collection, their jeans are good value at £20-£25 a pair. I found their t-shirts a bit kitsch with things like ‘I love my bump’ ‘hands off the bump’. Some people love these, and if so this is your shop, but they weren’t for me.

MATALAN, I was recommended to for maternity by a pregnant friend, but my local store only ever stocked maternity leggings. I did purchase some over the bump leggings once it started getting colder. These were okay but I would probably go for H&M leggings if I was to buy again.

MOTHERCARE have small ranges in most stores, better online, but I felt its target market was a slightly older mum, they did great pj’s and underwear though. I got my nursing bras from here.

 

WHATS HOTU

 

 

 

 

NEWLOOK (non-maternity ranges) do great plain colour stretchy dresses in normal sizes, I just bought a couple in my size, and they stretched around my bump, and at £10 a dress I wasn’t bothered that I had stretched them too much to wear post-baby. They were perfect for summer or with leggings once it got a bit colder.

TOPSHOP have a good range, and not to overpriced, their jeans were the most expensive at £38/£40 a pair but by far the comfiest I had tried,  I bought two pairs, but I could of bought SO many more.

They do lovely maternity underwear, which I was tempted to get, but once bubba arrived and I was nursing the last thing I was bothered about was matching underwear.

H&M has by far the widest range, great value for money, and stylish but practical (AND MY FAVOURITE). My BEST buy was a pair of leggings, with leather panels down the front, and they were great for both day and evening wear. I also got a cardigan that covered my bump, and I can still wear it now I am back to my pre-baby size. Their range is really affordable, and by the time I got to 8-9 months, I was so tired of wearing the same outfits, i didnt mind spending £10-£20 on a new top to vary things up a little.

They also have shirts and smart tops for work but also t-shirts and vests for as little as £3.99 that were great for wearing with jeans.

If anyone has any other suggestions for great places to go, to avoid, or just any tips for stocking up a maternity wardrobe, let us know.

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So, I thought I’d post an update of my June fitness progress, especially as I am having a total fat day so need to get motivated!!!!!!

Week 1: 2nd – 8th – disappointing!
Only did two Fitstar sessions and still no runs! Harry has cut down his morning naps to about 40 mins – 1 hour so I chose to do Fitstar, as these only take 30 mins and my run is at least 40 minutes, and I hate having to stop before my app program finishes. I was eating unhealthy but I did probably have a drink every night! I vowed the rolling week I would be better.

Week 2: 9th – 15th – an improvement
I did 3 Fitstar sessions this week, and three two mile walks with Harry, plus I cut down my alcohol consumption! I also started hula hooping. This was really hard, I did ten minutes, and in that only managed to continuously spin for 25 seconds! I have got a play hula hoop, after a quick Google I soon realised I needed a proper fitness hula hoop if I want to take this seriously. I read an article written by a mum vying to loose her baby weight through hula hooping. This has inspired me to continue, but not sure I want to invest in the real deal hoop until I know I will continually make use of it.

Week 3: 16th – 22nd – getting motivated
I am writing this on the 22nd, having been on holiday with my parents, Rich an Harry in Cornwall most of the week. I did my Fitstar, and a 4 mile hike on Monday and Fitstar again on Wednesday and Thursday and I did ten minutes of hula hooping too. I am really proud I still did my exercise whilst away, my healthy eating went a bit off track as mum only bought white bread (rich is in heaven as I only buy wholemeal) and we have had a couple of drinks each night. Today I am having a day off, mainly so I can get this blog post out!

As motivation to continue my exercise, I decided to take a picture and post it on here (feeling brave!!!!)

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Waist: 30″ / Hips: 36.5″

In August I am going to post an update picture (gives me chance to recover and make up for holiday drinking in July). Fingers crossed I will have trimmed at least an inch.

I am also considering buying a FitBit Flex, my sister has one and loves it, and a couple of my friends have them. This is a wristband that records your daily movement and documents everything in an app. It also monitors your sleep (and I am not a great sleeper). Recording how long you slept for, how many times you woke up and also wakes you up silently so you don’t wake your partner up. This may help me find out why I don’t sleep great, whether it’s my diet, my exercise or lack of.

If anyone has used a Fitbit please let me know whether you would recommend one? They are fairly expensive so would be a big investment for me.

Hints and tips welcome for eating health eating as I really struggle for non-carb based breakfast and lunches. I am having a juice for either one at the moment.

Wish me luck!!

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12. 06. 2014

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Living in London, I don’t think I will ever run out of new things to do or places to see. My downfall is I always think I am too busy to go do new things. My other half works in the drinks industry, and his patch is the city and Shoreditch, so he is constantly telling about cool new bars opening, or events happening. Before Harry, I would meet up with him after work, and check out a couple of his bars, or we would spend Saturdays trying out new places. Since Harry has arrived, I haven’t been able to make as many of these nights as I would like, in fact I think only once, but sometimes an opportunity comes along that you just can’t turn down. We were lucky enough to be offered a night in the most exclusive, and sought after room in London.  Has anyone ever noticed there is a boat sitting on top of the Southbank centre, as i hadn’t and i have been there enough times! A room for London is a ‘boat’ perched on the edge of the Queen Elizabeth Hall at the Southbank Centre.

The boat is in fact a one bedroomed self catering space, where visitors are treated to an incredible view of London. With a two tiered deck, you have this fabulous panoramic view from Big Ben, to St Paul, to the more recently built Shard. We were offered a nights stay at very short notice, so we were desperate for an overnight babysitter. Thankfully my sister came to our rescue, and so we got ourselves ready for a night away from the little man, and prepared to embark on an adventure watching over London. On arrival, you sign a contract that you won’t breach any of the rules, such as taking guests back, no parties etc. You are then taken to a secret lift, that takes you up to the boat!! Unfortunately on our visit it was pouring with rain, I prayed for it to dry up so we could spend some time on the deck, but ultimately it poured even more.

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I brought the champagne, and we decided to order takeaway from my favourite place, Wagamamas.  This was just below the Royal Festival Hall, so just a short trip down the secret lift to collect our dinner. We opted to eat in, as we can eat out anytime in London, but we will never get our time back in this exclusive room. We sat down at the table, (which we never do at home), and had our meal. No TV, no iPads, just our own company and our food. It was slightly surreal, but great to just chat about our experience, and how lucky we were to be there.

inside

The room comes with dishes, cutlery, glasses, tea, coffee, milk etc, the usual you would find in a self-catering room. The bedroom looked over the River Thames, you are provided binoculars to spy on the city, we had fun trying to guess all of the buildings, seeing if we could see inside the rooms of The Savoy opposite, and seeing what bars we could spot. The rain continued, and we made an attempt to go outside and get some photos, but it was too wet to risk taking our SLR camera outside. It seemed a real shame to spend all of our time inside looking out, but even after a last minute umbrella purchase, the rain finally beat us. I had assumed it would be freezing, so had packed jumpers and joggers, but the heating was quick, and within 20 minutes of whacking the radiator on, it was like a sauna!

The view

We stayed up drinking, admiring the view, reading the books provided (there was a library of books about London’s history), and reading the log book, which all guests were recommended to detail their stay and sign (some people giving a little too much detail of their bedroom antics). We wanted to stay up, to not waste any of our time sleeping, but having been up with the little man at 6am, by the time midnight came, I couldn’t stay awake anymore, and gave in to my tired eyes.

Rich was awake at 6am like a kid at christmas, wanting to watch the morning hustle and bustle of London in our final hours. Due to work commitments, and our babysitters, we had to leave at 8am (you have the room till 11am), we quickly got showered (whilst admiring the The Shard from the porthole in the bathroom!), dressed, and wrote our notes in the log book, we stood at the doorway for ages, trying to hold on to our last moments of this amazing experience. It was over, and we were so sad to be leaving.

Living Architecture is the company behind ‘A room for London’. You have to enter a ballot to be in with a chance of staying in the room, and it is £300 for the night – but worth every penny. You are limited to one night, and can only stay there once, and the boat may possibly move location in the future. Living Architecture also have a number of other properties around the UK, and some more opening during the next 18 months. If you get the chance to stay, or even enter the ballot, then go for it!

This is one event I really wanted to capture on my blog,and share our experience with everyone. The pictures do most of the work!

This is something I hope to be able to tell my children, and grandchildren about.

SELFIE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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05. 06. 2014

In school I was always a keen runner, I don’t think many would believe me now, but I actually ran cross country for my school. I gave it up at 16, as I wanted to be out with all my mates rather than training. Its one of those ‘told you so’ moments from your parents, when you look back, and think ‘what could of happened’ if I had stuck to what I was actually good at. Well I would be skinnier and toned for a start!

I have never struggled with my weight, and I took this for granted. I have (mostly) good skinny genes, but even they don’t keep you skinny forever. The usual happened, I got in to a relationship, settled (and my fiancé being a superb cook hasn’t helped), and put on a stone. This happened gradually over 5 years, so I only really noticed when looking back at Facebook photos for some ‘thinspiration’ to loose my baby weight, did I realise how much I had let myself go.

As mentioned in my earlier post No more (baby) weighting around, I bought a treadmill and downloaded a couple of new apps as a replacement for my gym membership. Between Rich and I, we were paying over £1,000 a year for our gym memberships, which neither of used since Harry arrived. Our Treadmill was a steal at £350, thats a saving of over £650 a year on our membership. Plus it folds-up, so doesn’t need much room.

Treadmill.jpgRoger Black Gold – Homebase

The apps I found via Facebook were advertised on my feed, I never click those ads as I always think they are scams – I was pleasantly surprised. Running for Weight Loss is the first app, this does exactly as it says on the tin. You loose weight by following a ten-week running program. I have been using this app for 12 weeks, and I am still only up too week 6 (oops!). You have to do 3 runs a week. I always find it better to run first thing in the morning, before any breakfast, but this isn’t always easy with Harry. Each run is about 40 minutes, and I can’t always guarantee he is going to sleep for that long, or I sometimes have chores to do during his morning nap. Ideally I would like to do two a week, and if I can manage three then great.

Running for weightloss.jpgRunning for Weight loss App

I am not going to lie, the runs are not easy, and throughout each run I battle in my head ‘should I stop?’, ‘can I carry on?’. I know that my body shouldn’t be tired, that most of the battle when running is in my head. I try to motivate myself by thinking about why I am doing this, to be healthy for Harry, to feel confident in myself, and so I can get in to my Zara Skinny Jeans!!

I have been combining my running with a bit of core training, using Fitstar . This is a free app, but if you want a specific training program i.e. to loose weight you have to upgrade to the premium at £2.99 a month. I used the app a couple of times before signing up, and I loved it. It was really easy, each session was only 30 minutes, and wasn’t exhausting. The sessions are based on your fitness levels, and it continuously asks to asses your fitness through-out the programmes. I have never been one for doing push-ups, crunches etc but I knew I couldn’t tone my body by just running.  I decided to upgrade to the ‘Get Lean’ program, and to alternate between this and running, for at least 4/5 days a week.  I had been looking at ‘Results with Lucy’ by Lucy Meck, there was a lot of positive press and success stories flying about, and this uses the same format as Fitstar, but it was £12 a month! I think I got a better deal.

Fitstar.jpgFitstar App

I used both of these apps through-out the whole of April, as planned doing 4-5 days of training a week, along with eating 1,500 calories a day, and even though I didn’t loose any weight, I could notice a huge difference in my body shape, especially towards the end, I was fitting in to my pre-pregnancy jeans with ease, I was starting to see some definition in my stomach, and my energy levels where through the roof. I didn’t DREAD each run like I did at the beginning  and I looked forward to my Fitstar training, as it was fairly easy, and I was seeing results.

May, however was a busy month, we were away every weekend, and my exercise plan pretty much stopped, with the exception of a run and a couple of Fitstar sessions.

I decided to pick back up my training and healthy eating from June onwards. I am on day 5, and 2 Fitstar sessions done this week, but still to do that first run!! eek!

It shows you don’t have to spend a fortune, have a fully equipt home gym or a personal trainer to get fit. By cancelling my gym membership, buying the treadmill (shared with Rich), the two apps (£39 for the year) and a yoga mat (£8) I saved myself £294!!

Download the apps! They really work, and let me know how you get on, it would be great to hear someone else’s results and experiences.

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We were given the information for The Fetal Medicine Centre in Harley Street. They provide the Harmony Test, a new technology for testing the baby’s DNA through the mothers blood, checking for extra chromosomes, trisomy 21 (Down syndrome), trisomy 18 (Edwards syndrome) or trisomy 13 (Patau syndrome). We spoke to my mum who works for the NHS with women and children, she discovered this is a patented technology, hence why the NHS don’t provide it yet, but it would be coming soon. She advised a colleague in her work had indicated that the results were 99.9% correct. This test could be done at any point from 11 weeks, so we could have it immediately rather than having to wait another 3/4 weeks for the NHS Amniocentesis test. 

We contacted the clinic the same day and they could see us the following morning. I felt so relieved that we were going to be able to get a definitive result, without putting myself or the baby at risk. 

Typically I spent most of my evening Googling ‘markers’ of Downs syndrome, I couldn’t relax, and wanted to be completely clued up for our trip to the clinic. 

We arrived at the clinic, both anxious as to what we would find out. Before taking my bloods, we had an in-depth scan of the baby. This was the equivalent of our 20 weeks scan with the NHS, only the Fetal Medical Clinic had the technology to get the same results earlier (I was 13+ weeks by this point). The scan checks for additional markers (those I had researched) of Downs syndrome,  such as anomalies to the heart, development of certain bones and fluid pockets in the brain.

The scan took an hour, and it was amazing to watch our baby for that long, move and jump around, but heartbreaking at the same time when we remembered why we were there. The consultant confirmed she was more than happy with our baby’s condition, and couldn’t see any additional markers, and had no concerns about the nuchal translucency. I can’t explain the relief, I wanted to cry and jump for joy. We didn’t want to get too excited, as we still needed to have the results from the blood test. We left the clinic with lots of scan photos of our baby, and the details of the scan, confirming the baby was currently in good health. We came away feeling much more confident, but didn’t want to get our hopes up. 

We were due to go away a week later, and knew we would receive our results, very latest, at the end of our trip. We decided to just carry on as normal, and put it to the back of our minds, but I kept looking at the scan results, and just hoping for good news. 

Three days in to our holiday, and we received the news, our ratio had been revised to 1:10,000, and my blood didn’t show any traces of the trisomy 21. I cried with happiness. It was the best £500 we had ever spent, and we got to relax during the final days of our holiday.

I thought it was important to share our experiences about such a sensitive subject. When I initially found out about The Harmony Test*, it was difficult to find information and experiences about its success and the process. Also this technology isn’t widely publicised, and you certainly aren’t told by the NHS unless you are classed as a ‘high-risk’ pregnancy. Regardless what ratio you are given, even if it is 1:5000 (as someone has to be that one). I would still recommend this as an extra test if you can afford it. Some people may argue, that it should remain unknown, but taking the test doesn’t necessarily imply you are going to terminate the pregnancy. If the results are positive, it can allow you to prepare yourself and others for the extra care your baby will need. 

I am happy to help, talk or answer any questions of anyone who wants to know more or is going through a similar experience. 

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*The Harmony Test is available at other clinics, but the Fetal Medicine Centre was recommended too us, and is part of The Fetal Medicine Foundation who funded the research for this new procedure 

02. 06. 2014

Our little man is 6 months today!!!

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As mentioned in my previous post ‘Part 2: when it all became real’ at our 12 week scan we were told the fluid at the back of our baby’s neck (Nuchal translucency), was slightly larger than it should be, and that this was a key indicator for Downs syndrome. Going in to the scan, I was just so excited to see the baby, and of course I wanted to know it was healthy, but being in my twenties, I naively presumed everything would be okay. So I really wasn’t expecting to hear any differently.

The nurse at the scan told us not to be concerned, but advised us get the blood test for Downs syndrome. As far as I understand this blood test checks the hormones that your placenta is producing are at the correct levels. The output of combining the scan and blood results gives you a ratio that your baby will be affected by Downs syndrome. If your ratio is less than 1:150 you are classed as a ‘high-risk’ pregnancy and the NHS provide extra services and options for your pregnancy.

I received a call from the hospital a week after our tests, as soon as the midwife introduced herself, I knew something was up. When she told me the news, I couldn’t hide how upset I was, I was devastated. She explained my tests had resulted in a 1:60 chance of our baby developing Downs syndrome. She explained my hormone levels had been unbalanced, combined with the nuchal translucency being slightly larger than normal, had given us a ‘high-risk’ ratio.

The midwife was extremely helpful and once I got off the phone, I spoke to Rich. I called him and explained exactly what the midwife had said (best I could, as I was still a blubbering mess), I then did the same to my mum.

Once Rich got home, we sat down and went over everything the midwife had told me. I was just so upset, and just kept going over things in my head, questioning ‘why us?’, especially after having a miscarriage, I kept thinking ‘this isn’t meant to be’, ‘I am never going to be able to have a baby’. Rich and I raised the questions of ‘would we keep the baby?’ we had completely different responses, but both with very good reasons, and agreed that there was no point in discussing this unless we really had too. We needed to stay strong for each other.

At this point we decided to keep the news to just our parents. I felt like talking about it, was making it more and more real, and i just wanted to make it go away.

The next day, we spoke to the specialist midwife, she explained the options provided by the NHS;

1. Continue with the pregnancy, and await the arrival of the baby, though the 20 weeks scan may show more markers, but by that point it would be more difficult to terminate the pregnancy. Plus emotionally you are half way through your pregnancy, and I imagined feeling very attached to the baby.

2. Continue with the pregnancy, and at 33 weeks a test could be carried out to check for downs-syndrome, and if the baby becomes distressed, they can deliver, and there is much less risk to the baby and mother – however if you reach this point, you might as well just continue to 40 weeks, and put neither the mother or baby at risk.

3. An Amniocentesis test. This is the only test offered by the NHS. It involves injecting the placenta at 17/18 weeks and taking a sample of the amniotic fluid, which is then tested for a number of conditions, including Downs syndrome. This test has a 1 in 100 risk of miscarriage, but you get your results in 3 days. We were informed if you did miscarry you wouldn’t know until up to 14 days after the test, and you still have to the deliver the baby. The results of this test gave you a definitive yes / no to whether the baby would be affected.

At this point, I couldn’t bear the idea of putting the baby at risk, I felt like I was living a nightmare, and we were would be forced to go with option 3 as there wasn’t any alternatives.  After giving us some time alone to discuss, the midwife returned and told us about a fourth option. She mentioned the word ‘private’, followed by ‘very expensive’. I didn’t care about cost, if there was a better option I wanted to know. She explained the NHS dont normally refer to private clinics, but this new technology meant a non-invasive procedure, 99.9% accurate, but with a longer lead time for your results, and at the cost of £500. We both immediately said yes without discussing it. I was a little annoyed she never mentioned this sooner, but I was just grateful we had a glimmer of hope…The Harmony Test.

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