One of the things that keeps me going at the moment is food. Not the food I’m eating now, but the food I’m planning to eat, when the pregnant rules and days of gestational diabetes are behind me .
It looks like its gonna be a Caesar (and no, not the salad) . And apparently it’s light diet for 24 hrs? Blah. When that light goes green to eat? To start, here’s what needs to be brought to me in hospital: (and don’t bother telling me I won’t feel like eating. In a slightly less eloquent take on WB Yeats, You can’t trample on my dreams, people ).
1. Champagne. Piper heisdeck or veuve cliquot first , then a nice Grant burge. Yes I know, breast feeding. But it’s all in the timing, people.
2. Sushi and sashimi platter. Oh god what I wouldn’t give for these neat parcels of fishy goodness with a nasal clearing wasabi blast.
3. Soft cheese. A nice blue, and a washed rind. Pref French ….Ocellos, surry hills, if you’re wondering where you need to shop.
4. Chocolate. Fine quality. Milk. Truffles . Whatever. Quality. Volume.
5. Fresh prawns n oysters. Then stand aside.
6. A strong macchiato
7. Banoffee pie. You know who you are.
8. Prosciutto and salami. Complete with its listeria risk, nitrates, over salted over fatted happiness.
9. Smoked salmon, a decent chicken pate. Not together.
10. A RARE steak. A pregnancy nono. I believe hub-in-boots’ slightly wrong phrase is just wipe the cow’s ass and send it over. It kills me to eat nice meat cooked well. The things I do for you, Gumby.
11. Hot chips. Fat ass ones. Salty. Preferably served in A big basket lined with a paper serviette.
12. Yum cha (dim sum). If you really love me you’ll organise a five trolley circuit through recovery, complete with incomprehensible waitresses.
13.to be continued. For quite a while. Basically this list is in my head 24/7 at the moment. We might develop this into a two week from hell menu planner.
…Though posting about food is killing me today. We went to a wedding last night…a NINE HOUR OUTING to be exact. So much food I was moaning all through the drive home, even though I pretty much ate half of each course and passed the rest to hub-in-boots. I thought my belly would burst.. It physically hurt! There doesn’t seem to be room in there for a 4 course meal and a gumby. Stretching. Ugh. Sadly I had to sit out the Bollywood dancing (amazing), the wines etc, but I had fun finally meeting people from hub-in-boots work and being out, and I was still able to appreciate the incredible saris & suits from the Indian ‘ ‘brides side’ of the wedding. They were like glittering christmas baubles, dark butterflies, all sparkles and colour. I wish I took photos of them for you! Below is a bad one of the bride’s back, and us after the long long day.
One of the guys from hub -in-boots’ work had the Bollywood dancing down pat in a few simple steps. Here’s how to fake Bollywood dancing for dummies:
Step 1: with one hand held up, pretend you’re screwing in a lightbulb.
Step 2: at the same time, ‘pat the dog’ with your other hand. If you’re feeling fancy you can chuck in a hip wiggle here.
Step 3: when you need variety, switch from the lightbulb to pointing to ‘that guy over there’. Don’t forget to keep patting the dog.
Step 4: you’re stressed about remembering the steps. So pray. Hold your hands in a prayer position then emphasise your memory loss by shrugging your shoulders.
Ok. So I have to front up and confess. There’s a few things I like spotting when I’m out and about. This has very little to do with an infertility blog, and a lot to do with my warped mind / sense of humour. The overlap, i suppose, is that during all this bedrest i haven’t been able to enjoy these games, except via the tele. And hub-in-boots and i have done a bit of spotting of late, but its been via the tele and theresfore not as fun, and we’ve argued about the parameters. So settle in.
One thing I like to spot is the monkey baby. These babies, often in cafes, are usually overly hairy. They are ugly. And my favourite ones are where the monkey baby has monkey siblings, and you need to figure out whether the parents were trying for a better looking child, or simply should have realised it was never getting any better, and stopped. True, some monkey babies are just having a monkey baby phase, which they outgrow into cute kids. But some….Woah! I always wonder with these whether the parent knows they have a monkey baby. Hub-in-boots has suggested perhaps infertility is karma’s payback for this particular game. A psych might say its a defence mechanism. I think i just happen to find ugly kids funny.
My other fairly well renowned spotting is “fat man in sport”. I love people on the peripheries of a sport , who think that by wearing the team tracksuit, or doing an ‘on the side of sport’ job, they are somehow a sportsman, and fit. I believe this started with my mum’s cousins husband, Stan . Stan was an unattractive man. What Stan lacked in personality, he made up for in beetroot complexion. Stan had trouble walking, let alone run. His belts REALLY earned their salt. His tailored dress shorts and walk socks were a sight to behold. Stan was a hockey referee on weekends. I’m not sure how. Stan always talked about hockey , wore hockey gear, and always looked on the verge of a heart attack . He had the perfect build and personality to play tweedledum in a pantomime. (look! Behind you!). Stan was a legend in his own mind. Stan was my first “fat man in sport”.
Since then, the rules of spotting a “fat man in sport” have evolved. Some of our best have been the pit boss at the rodeo in cessnock, complete with clipboard, western shirt straining at the buttons. The champion to date is an AFL hanger on, working on the substitutes bench, who actually used his clip to secure his hotdog container to his clipboard. This way, he could eat and make notes at the same time. Fat men in sport have a certain air about them, a look at me I’m out here and being active air. A check out my official team uniform self importance, despite a blatant inability to participate. The body mass and clipboard is not as important as the fat man in sport ‘tude. The clothing is important. I guess you could say its like my own version of the People of Walmart.
Just try it, the next time you’re at a sporting event. They’re always there, secretly lurking, trying to be part of the team. Some sports are more renowned than others for their fat man in sport action.
My other spotting includes cankles (where a person’s calves and ankles become one), and the good Italian nonna. ( I love nonna spotting. Love a good nonna!). There was a christmas mass we used to go to in leichhardt solely for the nonna spotting. Clearly these games overlap, as no one does cankles like an italian nonna. The best nonnas are a) old b) wear black having fed their husbands into an early grave c) have cankles d) have bingo wings/ tuck shop lady arms /large floppy upper arms, also called fadoobadas e) have nonna vibe. You have to experience nonna vibe to understand.We got some excellent nonna action at the Anzac day picnic we went to last Wednesday, though these nonnas were young, more about the homemade biscuits/chronic overcatering and not the black outfit / cankle thing. I must say interacting with nonnas as a pregnant woman is even funnier than normal.
I also enjoy spotting couples pretending to be together who not-so secretly hate each other’s guts. Once, hub-in-boots and I spent a whole night at an Audreys gig at the Basement trying to figure out the backstory of a couple who sat and drank, looked miserable, and did not talk to each other or look at each other for the entire night. Lucky hub-in-boots is as warped as I am.
But fat man in sport takes the cake. Often literally.
Clearly being pregnant has affected our values system . We’re now more likely to check out the size /manoevrability/ brand of pram / baby carrier, guess how old a baby is, than play spot the monkey baby. With statements such as I knew it was a mountain buggy!, it’s not nearly as fun as geez did you SEE the head on that kid??. We also play ” pick which couple had ivf and which half was infertile” in the parenting / birth classes. We’re awesome at it.
We need to get out more so we can get back to proper live fat man in sport I think. And hope like hell, now I’ve shared all this, we don’t have a monkey baby !
I have had my head in John Donne’s poetry all afternoon, helping a friend’s daughter with high school English. You have to love 17th century sleazy pick up lines, and a bloke that picks a fight with the sun for rising when he’s trying to ‘get his end away’. Gumby seemed to prefer the Holy Sonnets, and really got going with the kicks during our discussion on Death be not Proud.
Hub-in-boots eventually arrived home, and conversation inevitably returned to the lower brow. Not because it was hub-in-boots , but because there’s been a storm brewing, an argument, possibly our first parenting related relationship rift:
I have others firmly in my camp: my sister Cath and my niece Bec were wildly enthusiastic for the socks with doggy rattles on the toes for the boy who has everything including a fascination with his feet.
I’ve bought a red stripey hat with top knots to rival an English backpacker on a ski field
I am only inches away from the stegosaurus hat at Mothercare.
In the past, I have purchased this t shirt for friends kids:
I have seriously pondered knitting this hat (though I think it may transgress even my limits of decency):
Don’t get me wrong, this is not a “Toddlers in Tiaras” type thing; the sight of a five year old doing a bum slap dance dressed as Daisy Duke makes we want to puke. But I do have the elf outfit already picked out for Christmas day. There will be a rabbit costume next Easter. I have sympathies with big gay Cameron’s photo shoots of Lily in costume on Modern Family.
Then there’s hub-in-boots. Now I want you to remember, we’re talking about a man, who, despite having a large collection of Jeffrey Smart art books and being well read in String Theory, can snort-laugh himself off the couch during an episode of Wipeout USA, possible farting at the same time. Now this man objects to comedy dressing children! Can you believe it? Where did this conservative streak come from? What possible grounds could he have for this sudden seriousness?
How do YOU feel about comedy dressing children/babies? Have you seen any good examples? (ie anywhere I should be doing online shopping?!!). If one parent objects, can you still do it? Is it he who dresses Gumby for the day wins? I’m interested to know what you think.
As a quiet aside, Hub-in-boots may be coming over to the dark side. Yesterday, he emailed me this.
Though I think, for him, this is not comedy dressing. In the maniverse, all matters involving Batman or Spiderman are deadly serious.
On the weekend we did our last day of the calmbirth / transition to parenthood course. It was good, no whale music, we practiced swaddling and breast feeding positions (even positions better for cesareans), routines, bathing, sleeping, feeding. Gumby was nuts all day. I have this one way i sit with my hands folded acrossy belly like a buddha, and he doesn’t like it. He always kicks my right arm. (He just did it AGAIN! It’s so DELIBERATE!) . He kicked hub -in-boots off my waist yesterday while i still slept. Funny. Anyway, the course was tiring, but useful. After dinner at mum’s, yesterday was a slow start (try breakfast at 11, slacker), and then we were visitor centrale.
My niece and her partner were up from Canberra , so they did a quick fly by to check out my bump and say hi before heading home. My sister came too, stocked up our fridge as usual (thank goodness) and went out for a paddle in the kayak, while hub-in-boots finished the vacuuming. And then our friend arrived.
His 3 year old daughter was hilarious, tuckered out and unconscious in the back seat after a trip to the zoo, a Wiggles Portable DVD playing in her lap. Angus then began unloading and demonstrating. It was like home delivery “my baby warehouse”, without the narky sales assistants or the credit card bill.
It gave me a huge shock when I walked into the lounge room this morning and it was just sitting there, looking at me.
A big baby thing … A pram. In our house. So weird! Hub-in-boots , Cathy and I spent a couple of hours messing around with the awesome Bugaboo Cameleon, getting used to putting it together and folding it up, changing from seat to bassinet, moving the handle around, folding it up, unfolding it. It is so light & easy to steer! I’m such a fan. It has a seat and a carry cot . It is still there, looking at me. It makes the baby thing seem real, or possible at least. It is so nice to have not only the cost burden, but most of all the decision making, taken off our hands. To have all of that brain space and time free of model comparisons and price shopping, and just be able to say ” Geez! Thanks.”. To do something as normal as have a friend say ” hey! You’re having a baby. Would you like this?” without provisos, or fear, or if but maybes or what ifs. Since project Supergrover started, it’s been a long road. There haven’t been many easy , normal, times. And I don’t really have a lot of brain space left of decisions I don’t feel ready to make just yet. So to be gifted four, or six, decisions, just made already, now that’s a real present.
And isn’t he a natural? I took him to the pub for tea after this. First dinner out together since the week before Christmas I think. We were almost like real grown ups. No wonder he looks happy. That and the Formula one was about to start on tele….
But back to the gear. The pram was followed by a rocker, a bouncer, and a baby capsule.
So thanks to Angus (we may need to start a cult to worship his generosity and spirit) , we are totally geared up. And amazed at our good fortune to have such a friend. Because I still don’t feel I can walk into a baby shop and buy stuff. So having this done for us has done a huge amount for my mental state. Clothes, yes. I’m ok with clothes. But baby furniture, bath car and other gear, no. It would be like walking into a casino and putting all our money on red. I still feel we’re on a gamble here. And like many gamblers, I’m wary of changing my luck, as superstitious as that sounds. Of investing too much in one outcome. I think I’ll be better at 24 weeks, and positively reckless at 27 (not really). But I do know two pretty normal (ish) adults who were both born at 26 weeks…so I feel by then we’ll have a real good shot at a baby boy in these four walls. But somehow, when someone else just says ‘well here it is’ it feels nicer… The reality of baby in these walls, without needing to decide to believe , or daring to hope in that outcome. And I have to say, with it all just here, it’s exciting, and it’s hard not to hope.
I think I’m just going to sit here all day and stare at the baby gear. Maybe take the stroller for a spin to the kitchen and back. Give Grover a bounce while I make a cup of tea…and celebrate the headspace I have left. I might not fold my arms over my belly though, that kid in there is getting pretty tough.
I haven’t posted this week, haven’t read blogs, haven’t read a book (head too full for more words). I have tuned out of blog land. I’ve been knitting, though.
Booties version 2.0
We are in that place just short of a “viable” gumby. What a horrible expression. A gumby that would have a chance of living outside of my body, let’s say. And viability, anyway, is a spectrum, a place that tips, at 24 weeks from low odds and big disabilities and delayed developmental milestones, to 30 something weeks with great chances and lots of treatment options.
It feels like balancing on top of a see saw. Or living in a trench in the middle of no man’s land in an old school war. I’ve left the bunkers of miscarriage behind , we don’t live there now, we are interacting with our baby, our real baby, several times a day (he just booted me one as I typed that… Oh and again!). We talk to him, we sing to him, he suffers through bad television, has been to an arthouse film ( the brilliant ‘This Must be the Place’, with a gothic Sean Penn and a David Byrne soundtrack) and listens to music and conversation. But we haven’t yet arrived at the side of reliable parenthood. I feel I have to hunker down and wait, to distract myself endlessly, to wait, without thinking, for time to pass.
If I tip the see saw one way, I am thinking again about a real baby in this house, about the experience of cesarean , and still trying to get my head around our gumby arriving in this way. About being a mum. About welcoming a new little person between these walls. About a new reality. If I tip the see saw in my head the other way, ah, it doesn’t bear thinking about. There’s no words for it.
Mostly I’m good at distractions. Sometimes, with a twinge of pain in my side, or just going to the loo, my mind is already racing ahead to the start of disaster. It is an interesting way to be approaching our parenthood of this little guy. Some would say “just think positive”… But I find that doesn’t help me. If I bury those very real feelings, they just sit and fester. They come back with more power, more presence. So many days I let the darker scenarios sit on the couch beside me and gumby, and I look at their horrible unfaceable emotional content, and then I look back to gumby and our life as a new family. I try to hold both in my head. I’d like to think that at 24 weeks, next weekend, I could move their dark faces to an uncomfortable seat in the corner, that by 27 weeks they could perhaps wait in the stairwell outside, and by 30 weeks they could just be a shadow we only see in certain light, robbed of a physical presence, without power.
But the fact is, for now, these other darker scenarios live here, just as gumby does, just as hub-in-boots does. This is just our reality, alongside our laughter and joy at the power and personality of our growing and now very real little boy. I don’t think their presence makes me acutely anxious, just not quite able to breathe out, just yet. It isn’t hard, exactly, but it does take a steely determination, a stubborn resolve, a certain amount of energy.
The PAIL ( parenting after infertility and loss) blogs have a topic on parenting styles this month. Some days I know how I feel about this. Other days it seems too remote to ponder. I believe in parenting to the individual, that each child in this world needs different things and different routines, and as a parent you are there to strengthen personal strengths and encourage developments where there are gaps or weaknesses. To allow the child to become the best possible version of them self. I do not believe a child’s needs should dominate a household , that everything should be led by them and their wants, because eventually , they will need to function without your help in a world of others’ rules. There are times when parents come first, where kiddie fits into the adult world, and times where you drop everything just to get by or muddle through. I think kids need boundaries, but they shouldn’t be built out of concrete. I think there’s a risk of following a particular labelled ‘parenting style’… because the rigid constructs may distract you from individual needs. No style manual can anticipate everything . You’re not out to get a trophy in ‘attachment parenting’ or ‘the x method’, that’s about your own ego and a need to control the uncontrollable. You are there to parent, and to try and also be a person. Full stop. And you’ll need lots of different tools to do that well. Call it just- in- time parenting, if you like. Learning on the job.
Personally, I think the best thing anyone can do to prepare for parenting, is to know themselves, and be able to be happy in their own person. To develop patience. Hallelujah to infertility and shitty pregnancy for teaching us both that lesson loud and clear. To be reasonable in your expectations, to be emotionally intelligent and able to separate the self from the other. To reflect on interactions and create space for this. This process can take a long time for some, and I think knowing yourself is one huge advantage of being, at 40, an older mother.
The second important step in preparing for parenthood is to be secure in your relationship with each other. Not an easy thing when your express train to mummydom became an all stops one via infertility and complication centrale. But I think we’re in a pretty good place. My counsellor has helped, how we are together facing crisis, has at times challenged the “us” but ultimately what we have faced thus far has made our relationship rock solid.
I think the third important step approaching parenthood is securing your support networks, and adjusting your expectations of life. The series of crises we’ve already been through in pregnancy have reconnected us with certain people, allowed us to learn to at times rely on others, to lean more on each other but still remember to create personal space, and to be satisfied with small , small things. In the past week, I feel I have had full, enjoyable, fulfilling days. Sometimes the highlight was going out for an hour 1km away for coffee. Sometimes I went to a single shop for an hour or two. One day I made fresh pesto and dinner, and felt like I’d swum the English channel. One day I knitted half a bootie. I live smaller, slower, cheaper, quieter. And I enjoy it. Mostly. Crises aside.
I don’t know how we will parent. I don’t know how we will deal with a screaming baby who refuses to sleep. With feeding difficulties. Or reflux. But I reckon we’ll figure it out. I think despite challenging times, sometimes we will hold a screaming gumby and laugh that we actually wanted this. And then we will think back to the days of bleeding and hoping and panicking and praying and just hanging on for dear life, and understand just exactly how lucky we are to be with him.
Perhaps parenting is a bit like teaching. I like teaching because it is not a job; it is a whole-of-person vocation. It requires everything I have, and everything I am. But I am an individual person as well as a teacher. I think parenting can have the same challenges and rewards. When something involves all of you, it can be all consuming, you can get too caught up in it, it can eat you alive. But if you tread that fine line well, it can also be one of the most rewarding things you’ve ever done: making a difference to another person. Hub-in-boots and I share a great love of this making a difference. I like to think this means our parenting philosophy will be a shared one.
We’re both reading Brain Rules for Baby, written by a neuroscientist about helping your child build emotional resilience and what is appropriate when. We will read other books. I’m a bit “granola” to use a term from some other parenting posts, a bit leaning towards the organic, I’d prefer cloth nappies but I’m sure I’ll cave on that, I’d prefer less baby ‘stuff’ and more quality time, I hope desperately to breast feed, I believe in routine within reason and allowing room for the child’s personality within this, in working with them not against them, I hate processed foods, but I know you balance this with convenience and time. I’ve learnt from my sister the importance of being a little bit unpredictable as a parent, able to let fly and be a bit scary in the face of a serious issue. But we don’t want a hitting house, or a shouting house. We’ll have a time out corner. We’ll read lots and lots of stories over and over again, though I might keep Go the Fuck to Sleep by Adam Mansbach for the teenage years. Here it is read by Samuel L Jackson here, if you haven’t yet had the pleasure.
It’s a timely thing, this post, as tomorrow we go to finish off our whale music induced calm birth course with a day on “transition to parenthood”. Perhaps we’ll learn more, or gain more tools for the trip we have ahead of us. Hub-in-boots and I have talked a lot, over the years, about what we believe parenting should look like, about our philosophies, our expectations, our fears, and our hopes and dreams. Big picture stuff which perhaps won’t have a lot of meaning when there’s baby shit up the wall and a screaming Gumby on a change table and a wife that hasn’t showered for three days because Gumby wouldn’t settle. But we won’t be living on the edge of a cliff, or under the blade of a guillotine, like we are now, and I like to think the foundations we’ve built together over the past few years will help. That and the fact we’re busting to meet him. But Gumby, if you don’t mind, kick all you want (it feels like he’s building a cubby house in there), but hang off on your great escape for another 7-15 weeks. That’d be awesome.
Bump photos to follow, I promise. Still below my pre pregnancy weight, but I’m getting kind of impressive at the front end. 23 weeks tomorrow.
Well that was an awesome weekend. I felt like a human being. I talked to people, a variety of people. I talked, sometimes about things other than my health and pregnancy. I wore clothes. I blow dried my hair and put on jewellery and make up. I almost felt like I had a life. I even drove the car, once. There were three days of hub-in-boots that were even relatively free of football. I feel like my head has been washed clean of the past few months.
After quite a few conversations with other women who’d had natural births and c-sections, I’ve kind of stepped back and been able to go, hell yeah, I’m disappointed. Hell yeah, we’ve been ripped off, it’s been absolutely shite, we are both wounded, but what counts, what really counts, is we are still going. Birth is one thing, the big issue is baby. However he comes. And with an immaculate sense of timing, Gumby has joined in the conversation.
On Thursday night, after the nightmare doctor’s visit, after all of that hell on legs, in the middle of a deep deep calmbirth meditation, Gumby made his presence felt. Right at the moment when the tape said “imagine the day of your baby’s birth”, Gumby went OFF. Deep into a meditation on breath, I felt like I’d been slapped. What was that? Concentrate on your breath. I breathed, then slap! it went again. I yelled out to hub-in-boots. Bugger the meditation.
He put his hands on my belly. “Woah! what the HELL was that? Was that him?”
“Woah! Was That GUMBY? What are you? Freakin Sigourney Weaver in Alien? What the hell?” . We were both grinning like idiots.
Gumby likes the couch. After all, that’s where he’s probably spent the most time this pregnancy. He always kicks when I sit stretched out on the couch. And in bed. Not so much when I’m up and about, though that could be the anterior placenta. He’s going quietly nuts right now. It’s pretty cool. No butterfly in a jar anymore. This is a proper booting I’m getting now. He even aims for hub-in-boots’ hand sometimes.
So Friday, we had a long skype session with my cousin who is a financial planner, given our new financial situation with me out of work. It was long overdue, we’re both kind of hopeless with money. We like travel, restaurants and bands too much. The stupid thing is, I understand it all, I’m great at managing other people’s money, but my own I just seize up. It’s the emotional content of it I struggle with. And the session dealt with both the practical and the emotional. Perfect. Despite dreading the “home truths” I finished it feeling enabled and positive.
Then we went to the traditional Good Friday barbeque with a crew of friends we haven’t seen since the whole infertiltiy / IVF shebang began. And just at the time when we would have shared we were pregnant, the whole thing went pear shaped. So it was good to see them all and catch up, sit in the sun. I sat out all the fresh seafood and wine, snuck in a few garlic prawns freshly cooked on the barbie, and ate a Vegemite sandwich on the way there. It was funny being the sober one! People worry so much about you missing out, but really, it’s not so hard when you know you’re making a choice for a really important reason.
We stayed longer than we’d planned, and by the time we got home I was exhausted. I mean exhausted. I was asleep on the couch at 8, in bed by 9. Gumby was up and ready to party. Sorry Gumby.
Saturday my cousin was up from Melbourne, and she came over for lunch with my mum, brother in law, sister and niece. Hub-in-boots was at football dawn til dusk. We had a great day, a bit of a backyard sit, excellent weather. She brought two of the five kids with her on the day, and we had a really nice time. It felt so normal.
I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed tidying up the house in the morning. Just quietly working my way from one thing to the next, uninterrupted, getting things how I wanted them, no one fussing over me. I am not a housework person. But it is amazing how the quiet satisfaction of getting things done seems like such a great rewarding thing after bedrest. There’s still limitations. I don’t do floors or vaccuuming. I don’t lift, or empty bins or full laundry baskets . I watch the clock and plan a sit down every 45 minutes so I have no chance of getting overinvolved and doing too much. I ache a lot when I move, as I think my body is not used to bearing the pregnancy weight in an upright position. So the sit downs aren’t really optional.
Sunday was off to Mum’s for a roast lunch. I was awake early, a rough night’s sleep unfortunately. More stupid pregnant dreams. They are so involved, and go all night! apparently something to do with the hormones leaves you with more REM sleep. Fact. Very rude. That and dickhead neighbours coming home at 3am. It was one of those nights that I just couldn’t wait for dawn.
Mums on sunday was nice and mellow, as only family days can be. We hung out, had roast turkey (yum) and I even got some easter eggs which I am attempting not to eat, except in 20g doses after meals…. Gumby got some more presents too, some Dr Suess books, and an awesome basket of goodies from my niece.
Was hoping to share the Gumby kicking action but he was pretty quiet all day.
Again, out to it on the couch at home with Gumby kicking, at about 7:30pm. My cousin came back over at 9:30 with her oldest daughter and we had another good catch up once I’d wiped the drool off and hub-in-boots administered tea. So tired I felt like I’d been drugged. But it worked well as I wasn’t tired when they got over, got to have another few hour long girly natter whilst hub-in-boots went into the man cave and watched the Paris Roubaix cycle race on tele.
Monday was barbie number two, another lovely afternoon out with people we hadn’t seen since all of the pregnancy thing began. More presents for Gumby.
A lovely alfresco sit down lunch for 17 or so that looked just like a magazine spread, kids in an easter egg hunt, and finally convinced hub-in-boots he didn’t have to play nursemaid and could relax, talk to the rally boys, drink wine, and I drove home. Such a grown up! Driving home! I was so excited we had to have an unscheduled drop in on the way at unofficial Grandma 3’s house (my ex partner’s mum. I suspect she’s planning on being the worst of the doting grandma’s spoiling Gumby).
More leftover turkey. Can’t get enough. Again, asleep on the couch at 9pm. Full of sun, and good food, and good company.
Pregnancy and birth North Korean style, that is. Imagine a place where you have no options. Where you are told what to do, and how to think. What your job is. Where you go. With no choices.
That would be my birth plan, apparently.
Ah, another shitty shitty visit to the obstetrician today. I am alternating between visualising him with an SS uniform and a German accent, and picturing him as thinner non basketball playing version of Kim Jong Un.
We briefly discussed the 19 week scan and Gumby’s vampire tendencies (blood showing up in his bowel, swallowed from me), I had done that one to death with the ultrasound doc anyway. He thought we were at lower risk than previously of pre term labour as the clot is smaller.
“So we’re not at high risk of pre term labour now”
“Oh no, you’re at a huge risk of preterm labour. But your cervix is long and closed, and the clot is smaller, so it’s not looking as bad as it was.”
So we’re definitely not going back to work. Full stop.
I can go out sometimes, even drive short trips, to try and balance up the risk of movement (and passing the clot) with the improvement in my blood glucose that movement will bring. But I need to be prepared that a giant clot saying “ta daa” in a public place may be the outcome. That’s encouraging. I can’t actually “exercise”. Or have sex, ever (he actually laughed when I asked that, and said “well what do you think I’m going to say?”). Or have a bath.
Then I made the mistake of asking should I be doing the pelvic floor exercises.
“Why? You won’t be needing your pelvic floor. Youll be having a caesarean.”
“But I don’t want a caesarean. Like, really don’t want a caesarean.”
“well if you don’t, it’s likely the clot will rupture during natural labour, your placenta will shear off the wall of the uterus, and your baby will die during labour. Or we could talk about the big baby, or the gestational diabetes. You pick the reason. But that’s what’s going to happen. There may be room to renegotiate later, if things improve, but probably not’
“And because of the risk you won’t be going to 40 weeks. More like 36, 38 if we’re lucky.”
“ok. And will I be able to start labour in my own time?”
“No. And it will be a success if we make it to there”
“Ok. So if I go into preterm labour, where should I head?”
“Well, if it’s in the next four weeks, you may as well head to the Mater (our chosen, private hospital) as your baby will die anyway. If it’s after that, I’ll see you before then, and you’d probably head to RPA (the public hospital with high levels of neo natal care).Actually, scrap that, just head to RPA. I can make more happen there. Even if it’s a bleed, head to RPA. You’ll be facing an extended hospital stay, while they try and stave off labour. ”
He asks for my blood glucose diary.
“There’s a few over 5 in the mornings. You will be on insulin. You need to email the endocrinologist this weekly.”
“ok. I saw him last week, he was fairly happy with the levels”
“they’re too high.”
“And you need to check in with Dr H. have you seen him?”
“yep. We met four weeks ago”
“Because you’ll probably end up with depression. Most people would. You need to be checking in with someone regularly”.
“Well he thought I was doing ok. And I still have the IVF counsellor on skype on a fortnightly basis“
“Ok. Well you need something regular to stay on top of that. There’s the heartbeat. It’s nice and regular. We’re weighing four hundred and something grams (I had started to tune out during the scan) Any questions?”
“Is it ok if I tell you I hate you right now?”
“sure. Any other questions?”
So you’ve just told me in about 3 minutes that I have no choice in the birth of my child, if I have a child. that if I go into labour in the next four weeks my baby will die, that if I have a natural labour my baby will die, that my blood glucose levels may damage my baby, that I need to be on insulin, that I’ll be having a scheduled c-section on the date of your choosing, you’ve changed the hospital, the medication, taken away my livelihood…and you want to know do I have any questions.
“You’ve done really well to make it this far you know. 2o, almost 21 weeks! And you’re looking fabulous.”
Yeah thanks doc. You have an awesome bedside manner.
So this was followed by a trip to the pharmacist for progesterone x 2 (they forgot one script the first time), me crying in the pharmacist (again. Feck I hate doctors), a coffee and more crying, home, hub-in-boots off to work, more crying on phone to the IVF counsellor, some washing, and some sitting.
It’s been an awesome day. I feel just like this plant of mine. Very very dead and dried up inside, with a tiny little flower.
I’m not depressed. I’ve just been knocked down that many times getting up again is getting feckin’ hard. Intellectually, I knew and had anticipated every outcome he discussed today. Emotionally, I feel like someone has taken to me with a jackhammer. I’m sure in 24 or 48 hours, I’ll be fine. So far, I usually am.
Apologies for the pity party. May all your pregnancies and births not beNorth Korean style.
Happy Easter folks. Have a chocolate egg and a giant beer for me.
So Saturday, we wheeled out the new mega maternity bra for its first outing, and rocked up to day 2 of calmbirth. Not a Rage Against the Machine song in sight.
Day 2 was a little more bearable, a little more realistic. For example, it was all about me. In one of the meditations, hub-in-boots had to give me “light touch massage” up my back, whilst I did the calm breath thing. When I read about this in the book, I thought light touch massage may be a bit like being hassled with a feather duster and I was just as likely to punch someone. But actually, it was good. Hub in boots had to sweep the back of his two hands outward from the base of my spine to my neck in about 50 sweeps. Once he stopped counting it was more relaxing. I just had to do the breathing. Not so bad. He thought it was a bit shit, because for him, not a massage in sight.
Then there was the one where I had to breathe, and he had to watch me and press on my shoulder during the out breath. I felt a little bit like some kind of old school bore water pump.
Then there was the one where you had to think of all the negative images of birth you had stored, and then choose to let go of them. Which is fine, if you really did get them from episodes of ER, not so fine if they are your own lived experiences of bloody trips TO the ER. One part of me thinks it is crazy difficult to develop positive ideas of birth when much of the pregnancy has been scary, ugly and on a hair trigger. Insert Rage Against the Machine track here. Talk to me about confronting .
The other part of me says if we make a third trimester labour we’ll just be hi-fiving each other and be like two people given a royal pardon whilst looking at a firing squad, and will be the most relieved little vegemites the labour ward has ever seen.
The ‘bringing it all together’ meditation was clever. It took you through a visualisation of the whole birth, in 20 minutes. It concentrated on dumb stuff, like seeing your own bathroom, and dealing with early signs of labour there, imagining what you would do. I couldn’t help but notice the mould on the shower curtain.
Luckily, when we got to visualising the kitchen, thinking about what you’d eat, it was really clean and the washing up had been done. And hub-in-boots had not cleaned us out of food. In case you’re wondering, i had baked beans on a grainy english muffin and was contemplating a boiled egg. And imagining when you’d call the midwife, when you’d leave home, all the stages of labour, most of that was pretty chilled and swear word free. I kind of liked this. It was sort of like I had then experienced the good parts of a ‘natural’ birth, even though in reality there will likely be screaming, swearing, crabby midwives, threatened cesareans; and all the carefully written birth plans will end up as placemats in my sashimi platter, champagne and blue cheese supper in recovery.
I’m not sure how hub in boots felt about imagining his uterus contracting . That must have been weird. Or about giving birth to the placenta, especially when I’d threatened on calmbirth day 1 to make a curry out of it, after explaining to him what some cultures did. Yes yes, i know, going too far and you just got a little bit sick. My placenta and I got along fine, thanks for asking . At least in my head. Not a frypan in sight.
One final exercise we did was trying to describe to our partner a special place in nature, to use as visualisation in labour. I couldn’t decide between the great barrier reef and the lake in interlaken, Switzerland. He had to use it later, reciting it back to you after a really deep meditation, leaning over to whisper in your ear. And at this point the whole class just broke up laughing.
One video we watched had a woman who took in a photo of a beach, and visualised the contractions as waves , bringing her baby closer to her. This struck me as quite a lame metaphor, which may result in your child being a welfare bludging surfer in later life. I am also not big on the “universal metaphor” of birthing as “a flower opening”. So I guess I’m going to have to do some work on this. I discussed with hub -in-boots about using a fishing metaphor, but as I’d be reeling in a big trevally or flathead, and he’s only ever caught a yellow tail (and that was a fluke) the whole team effort might be lacking there. Plus there’s the ethical conflict of likening your child arriving to landing a whopper in an estuary that may undermine the spirit of the whole thing.
Visualisation aside, i feel like we can use the tools in some way. It is all still a bit woo hoo for me. I don’t dig whale music. I don’t want a baby that digs whale music. I worked hard to instil some musical taste in my now grown up nieces, and I have no intention letting this child be any different.
So I’ll continue to use the CDs , and practice the breathing. But in the meantime I’ve tried to figure out what I need to be calm. And as a start I’ve booked a mobile hairdresser for tomorrow morning to come to me, since it’s been FOUR MONTHS since I did deep breathing in that particular chair. I now look like a cross bred wookie- yeti. I was hanging off any hair dye til after first trimester when all our troubles struck. Oh god I can’t wait.
To do list: play music to gumby. I’ve been a bit slack. I have hardly listened to any music at all lately, and i haven’t played piano for months. If I keep this up he’ll wind up liking “love song dedications” and anything Ellen degeneres dances to. Must. Be. Remedied.