PAIL September Monthly theme post: Write to life.

This post is part of the PAIL monthly theme posts (Pregnancy After Infertility and Loss), and September’s theme is Why we blog. . Other posts from the members are here.

I started blogging in February of 2011 as a space to record my journey as we tried to conceive. I’d spent so long trying not to get pregnant, it was just weird to be on the other bus!!! I needed somewhere to clarify how I felt about it, and I’ve always done that with writing. Private Blogging was just an evolution of my existing emotional processes.

Six months later, I began thinking we may have a problem, reading infertility blogs, trying to get my head around what was next. On my fortieth birthday I was sitting in an IVF clinic waiting room with a wad of Internet research and an armload of questions, PCOS for me and a couple of low sperm counts for hub-in-boots. The thoughts had to go somewhere.

Trying to conceive is inherently funny. IVF is inherently funny. The things you have to do to help science make a baby are madness. Absolute madness! Counting follicles like you have an egg carton in a supermarket, injecting yourself, wandering around secretly carrying ovaries that look and feel like bunches of lead grapes. Jerking off in strange rooms with bar fridges and porn…it ain’t your normal journey.

I also felt writing about it here would allow hub-in-boots to see my emotional journey in his own space and time, if and when he wanted to read about it, not by my leaning on him too heavily (at least at first). I thought it would help us communicate, with more space and reflection. I think it definitely achieved this, and our journey through IVF and bedrest were, I’m sure, much more harmonious and mutually supportive as a result.

Plus, once you’re out about IVF, you can get tired answering the same questions, talking about it all the time. I blogged so I didn’t have to spend my life talking about it. Everyone knew where we were at, so we could start conversations from a place of shared info. People didnt have to ask me how it worked, I wrote it out for them.

The decision to be “out” about IVF was a very personal and practical one. I had depression years ago. I suffered very very badly, before I knew what was happening. I remember thinking if I really knew what it was, what it felt like before hand, I would’ve recognised it, and got help sooner. When I got better. I swore I would be out about depression. I would always tell people, I would talk about it, if it was relevant. Just in case it helped just one person.

And so it was with infertility. Another taboo, another outspoken Jo. Another hope to suffer with a purpose. And with humour.

You would think that pregnancy would end an infertility blog, but the fact is, a pregnant “infertile” feels differently about being pregnant. It is a whole other category of complicated. Add that to pregnant infertile, with a sub chorionic haematoma of grave proportions with a complicated pregnancy on extended bedrest, hell yeah I still needed to blog. I was living in liminal space, on the threshold of everything, but nowhere.

I needed to blog my child into existence.
I needed to write him alive.
I needed to distance myself from the spectre of loss that sat beside us, waiting for tragedy.

And when jman arrived, I needed to blog myself into being a Mum. I needed to blog his first days, as a gift to him. I needed to blog away that spectre of loss that haunted us, to blog away the pregnancy trauma, (because waiting and hoping 24/7 it is traumatic).

As jman hit nine weeks old, my nephew, 22, committed suicide. No warning. Simon, originally himself a very premi baby with months in NICU, would have been twenty three on Monday.

I felt like the spectre of loss had just moved somewhere else in the family, that it was still here. I felt that our making it through somehow contributed to Simon not making it. I understand this is completely illogical, nonsense, but emotions can speak other truths from logic. My anxiety skyrocketed. I had nightmares about the ‘inquest at jensen’s death’ if he slept through more than a couple of hours. I dreamt of my nephew. I dreamt of losing Jensen, as in physically leaving him places. I didn’t always directly write about these things, but I tried to blog myself to a more positive mindset, to record each day, to see how real and alive he was, and to see how safe we were, even as my mummy radar shifted into overdrive.

On a more prosaic and joyful level, I wanted to share the joy of this special boy who we’d worked so hard for. I wanted to celebrate his life, with both those who loved us in real life, and those who had joined us in our journey, online, and rooted for us, and cheered for us, and cried for us, and helped to bring him here. They all pushed us another step forward.

It does annoy me a bit, people that condemn Internet over sharing about their children. I get the safety thing, I get it, but what they miss is how enmeshed you are at first as a mum, how their life is your life for a long time. I will end this blog at some point, when I feel it is taking from jman rather than recording for him. I’m his mother, I trust I can make that judgement, like I make a thousand other judgements for him, every single day.

I thought about transitioning to another space when he arrived, but it is all part of our journey. It is all part of the one continuum, and I don’t care who knows the gory details. I don’t care if it doesn’t have tidy easy to tag cookie cutter blogger edges. It is our life. It is messy and multi faceted. It is worth sharing.

Right now, with a fourteen month old tear away on the loose, blogging is sometimes another nagging chore, but mostly it is a perspective changer. It can be hard when you’re picking up books for the sixteenth time that day, have just been hit in the head with a yoghurt covered spoon, and you’re wondering why you bothered with two degrees and whatever happened to your brain? Because I might blog about them, because I have a problem with perfectionism and at times negative thinking, blogging, particularly humourous posts, make me stop and reframe the moment, from “what a disaster!” to”what a hilarious post!”.

When I travelled solo, or dated idiots, I’d always think how Would I Tell the Story; as I got stuck in carriage full of smugglers having lost my passport on a Bulgarian night train on the border, faced with an Alsatian with bad breath, the thought of the dinner party story it would become made me stop and reassess, and not panic. And so it is with the parenting trip. I think in stories, in words, in connecting my story with other stories. I always have. A blog is simply a logical next step.

The value in blogging after, after infertility and insurmountable odds, is firstly to show it is possible to those still in the trenches. Secondly it is to celebrate the joy of a little person becoming a person, growing, developing, and thirdly to acknowledge that how I parent requires everything I have been until now, and more.

Lastly, and this is something I only thought about after I first drafted this post, when you become a mum it is a time of personal upheaval. You lose who you were. You lose your edges. You get to be someone else, but eventually I think you need to try and recognise which parts of yourself are lost, and to an extent mourn them, which parts are new and worth celebrating, and integrate those disparate selves into a whole. This, I think, is how you avoid becoming “just a mum”, how you avoid resenting your partner or child through the upheaval, how you find a way to parent well, and how you find a new normal by selecting from the smorgasbord of selves to create a new plate of you. I’m laying out my dishes in these pages, I’m looking at what is there, I’m thinking which parts I want a second helping of. That’s why I blog.

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Notes to self

Note to self 1: when you message a photo of j man to your brother, if taken during a feed, stop and check that your boob is not in the photo

Note to self 2: after pissing yourself laughing about sending your bro a boob, & telling your husband about the epic fail, ensure hub-in-boots is crystal clear on which photo it was so he does not inadvertently email it on to all the ladies in his office

Note to self 3: if you’ve put the baby capsule back together after washing bits, and the harness is coming out of three places it is no longer a five point harness and you’ve probably made a mistake and may kill your child. Obey that nagging feeling in your head and unlike the “approved installation station”, inspect it thoroughly

Note to self 4: when you decide to go to a babes in arms movie session at the last minute and a feed is due, remember to wear nursing pads. Mmm circle work. Lucky it’s dark in there…..

Note to self 5: popcorn is not a breakfast food

Note to self 6: if it’s possible j-man will fall asleep on his feeding pillow during a feed, ensure you can a) reach the remote and b) don’t need to pee, first. That way being trapped on the lounge with him out to it on your lap won’t be quite so dramatic

Note to self 7: drinking red wine at speed whilst kicking the basinette with your foot may not qualify as a settling technique

Note to self 9: if your “bong toting binge drinking loudly arguing vomiting from above onto your balcony lets call the cops again neighbour” doesn’t show up with her newborn to your new mums group, try and avoid sharing your immense relief (and gory details) with other mums, in case she got the day wrong and is actually still coming in week 2….

Note to self 10: that is not fake tan on your newborn’s leg. No no. That nappy in act deserves its’ own dedicated post.

Bambi cops it

Bambi has copped it in the neck again. I’m loading up on the venison and vitamin c veg for tea. Hub-in-boots is at footy til very late (he’s the video ref again), and I’m racking up the girly DVDs, pulling up my nana blanket, curling up & kicking back.

I’ve hit the third trimester wall. After a doing day on Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday (hour long walks, hovering around murder investigations, baby washing marathons, vacuuming, freaky nesting weirdness) Wednesday arvo I hit the wall. And I can’t get back.

At about 11:30am every day, I get so tired I am not sure if I can make it back to the car, or to the couch. I feel like i may pass out, like I’m not getting any food. It’s not sticking. I seem to sleep ok ( mostly), but during each afternoon all I can think about is bed or couch.

I haven’t been for a walk for several days. I just don’t have any energy. The weirdness that I think is a braxton hicks contraction can come very regularly, I think I’ve had six in the past 90 minutes. My whole belly tightens and sticks out more, like a basketball. It starts in the middle and spreads outwards. It is a low hollow tight feeling, It makes me feel slightly nauseous. I explained it to hub-in-boots as the feeling five minutes after someone punches you with all their might in the stomach, like the aftermath of being winded. When it ends, the feeling gradually releases, til my stomach just feels soft and normal again. Truth be known, now I have finally realised this feeling is a contraction, they make me a bit nervous.

I rang the midwife at my ob this afternoon, simply because I feel wrong. It is really hard to describe what’s wrong, but it’s kind of like being in a car, pushing down on the accelerator pedal, but it goes flat to the floor and nothing happens. How I feel seems quite out of my control, and unpredictable. Like a body of muscle & fat without a skeleton. Gumby is moving fine, as far as I can tell. The midwife thinks the energy is related to my low iron levels, & a possible baby growth spurt. To be sure, they’ve moved my appointment from next Friday to this coming Monday, & will give me a thorough going over.

I think I had started to expect a bit much of my body, doing a bit too much, and I need to revise my expectations a bit. Being out both days last weekend, then getting housework busy in the week, just wiped me out.

We’re 32 weeks tomorrow, the point at which I can actually give birth at the Mater hospital. A big milestone for us, and for gumby I believe, in terms of lung development etc. One part of my head is crystal clear that this is all happening, and soon; the other part of my head still doesn’t even believe we’re reliably pregnant, or expect any outcome at all.

Next weekend is Gumby’s happy hour shower. It should be fun. I hope nothing happens before then.

Today I booked in to the hospital’s breast feeding class that patients can attend prior to the birth. I’m doing it in three weeks.

There’s a lot of other shit in our lives at present, things I need to get sorted prior to gumby’s arrival, and I have no brain space or focus for anything. I just don’t care. I cannot hold any other non baby related tasks or thoughts in my head for more than a few minutes. It’s like I don’t even have a brain. I am just this ball of forward momentum, and my head will only pay heed to things that move me to that date/event. I’m totally blinkered, and god help you if you get in my way. I have had a short temper a couple of times this week, and poor hub-in-boots has been on the receiving end of veins-in-neck-popping-up shouty madness. Not at all like me really. Odd.

I’ve decided if anything much changes in the next 24-48 hours I’ll ring the hospital & chat to them. There’s nothing exactly wrong, but something I can’t quite put my finger on has changed in the pregnancy, and it’s unsettling. I expect we’ve just moved on, stepped up in hormone levels, stepped down in iron, and maybe in a few days I’ll find a new, slightly bulgier equilibrium, before we hit the pregnancy home strait.

Hello fatty

Ok. It’s time for bump photos. There’s a cartoon in our borrowed Kaz Cooke book, “Up the Duff”, about how not to choose your obstetrician. I found it very funny when first pregnant, and since then hub-in-boots will sometimes look up as I walk into a room, and announce “hello fatty”.

We do have a viking helmet at home, so if we have any labour ward issues, I’m getting hub-in-boots to wear this outfit and follow our doctor around.

He gets away with the hello fatty thing, mainly because I am still a kilo or so lighter than my pre pregnancy weight, despite the burgeoning bump that tends to enter a room several seconds before me. Make that just about to hit / surpass pre pregnancy weight. Bugger!

Put it down to the strict diet (that is getting tighter and tighter) to keep my gestational diabetes blood sugar within the guidelines. It gets harder as pregnancy goes on. Anything that is not a low GI carb, anything sugary or fatty, any eating a second helping, and it sends my blood sugar sky rocketing within 2 hours, (with the added benefit of finger pointing & head shaking from one of the three health professionals that checks out my glucose diary every fortnight). Consequently I’m pretty bloody careful. It’s a catch 22, as the dietician is worried about my lack of weight gain, but the blood glucose stops me eating any more.

My sister asked me the other day do people notice i’m pregnant when I am out and about, and I’d say generally, no, unless I’m wearing light colours. To the point where i had several old ladies elbow me out of a scarce seat at an event on the weekend with a huffing sense of entitlement ! Because of our situation, I’ve been in pretty limited interactions outside friends & family I guess, so people not noticing surprises me. It won’t be long now til I’m impossible to miss! 27 weeks: Ok this just got ridiculous. At Dr South Korea today, the receptionist tried to itemise my invoice for a gynaecological appointment, not obstetric, and when I corrected it asked twice if I was pregnant!

28 weeks: Addendum: at almost 29 weeks, that bump is pretty hard to miss. Old ladies smile at me now. Though at dinner tonight, after I finished a plate of fajitas bigger than my head, my sister kindly informed me I “just looked a bit fat”.

We didn’t take early bump photos, mainly as there didn’t seem to be a lot to see, (and the whole bleeding like a stuck pig routine kind of cuts into your photo shoots & tends to take priority). It still surprises me when I scoot past a mirror on the way to the shower or something, and catch a glimpse of this funny thing attached to me. My head hasn’t quite caught up with the ‘hello fatty’ state of the world.

19 weeks: nothing to see here
21 weeks 3 days: illegal outing. still not a lot to see in the bump department!
23 weeks 4 days
24 weeks
25 weeks 4 days
26 weeks: helloooooooo fatty.
27 weeks: off to the Brandenburg Orchestra

Gumby continues to move to a scary degree, looking like a fish moving under the surface of water or something out of Alien, most of his movements are clearly visible from the outside. He’s already a big boy at 1.3kg (2lb 10oz). 28 weeks: no idea how much he weighs now.

Things have been quiet on the blog this week. Little reading, little commenting, no posting. Because we been BUSY.

Hub-in-boots took a week off work, and in an action packed frenzy of decluttering, charity donations and filling the entire apartment block’s bins, we are three quarters of the way through cleaning up the flat and getting a nursery ready. A nursery pic post to follow. It feels amazingly wonderful to have a space ready. Deeply satisfying.

There’s also been a run of doctors appointments, all with good and /or little news…fantastic blood glucose readings, happy dieticians (that want me to eat more. A dietician TOLD ME TO EAT MORE.), and a visit to the doctor formerly known as Dr North Korea.

Ok, he’s still Dr North Korea, but he’s not being badly behaved. So we’re sitting tight. Possibly stupid, but it feels right. He brought us a long long way from the dark old days of BASTARD the clot and a rather dire prognosis.  I’m able to disconnect from him a bit now, and not feel bullied about. The power is most definitely still with us in this relationship. Possibly because we haven’t paid his bill yet. And are not going to, until the very last possible minute, say the 29th of June? Any sign of bad behaviour, and we’re out of there like a rat out of aqueduct. But I reckon we can do this with him on the team.

There is still talk of possible natural labour. Exciting.

Gumby was in a fully engaged position this week. Head down in my pelvis. Freaky! Doesn’t the blood rush to their heads? Apparently he may move out again, but is unlikely to turn breach from that position (unlike my good self, who greeted the world ass first). I’m very happy about this. He’s moved from a big scary 91st percentile for gestational age, to 77th, which is good. So instead of being the biggest boy in his class, he’s now only bigger than three quarters of the other kids. Hopefully this means the diabetes is not affecting his growth too much. After a slightly worrying quiet few days, he is back to being completely mental in the action stakes, making very very visible kicks pokes rolls and flutters in several manic sessions a day / night. He is busy in there.

Hub-in-boots survived his first hospital pre natal class on Wednesday, which was relatively free of the almost at german porn level of videos we’d been warned about, and featured a “fresh one” in the form of live and kicking two day old Hamish. He was very cute, and his mum looked unreal for a 24 hour old caesarean! The midwife educator was excellent. The hospital seems to have a very natural birth / let mum and baby bond focus, is very pro breastfeeding, and everyone we’ve encountered there is easygoing and kind. I am very very comfortable we’ve chosen the right place for us.

Here’s the bump 28 weeks just prior to Eurovision. I look happy because I found non alcoholic German beer for the party by Bitburger. Yum.

28 weeks hello FATTY

You’ll have to wait 24 hours for the megapost involving Eurovision, 29 weeks, nursery makeover, Gumby happy hour and a Gumby gear stocktake. We’ve just been out for a giant mexican nosh up, we’re bloody full of damn fine food, and as to the flat, we got us some cleaning up to do.

 

Cease fire?

Firstly, thoughts and love to Belle on the Scrambled Eggs blog, who lost her little Pip  after a long wait to fall pregnant,  at 7 weeks gestation. Thinking of you. Visit and send her your love, say a prayer, send a thought. My little trifling concerns are nothing, and blog silence for a while seems appropriate somehow.

But despite this wish, I have a noisy brain, so I’ll hold off on the bump photo related post I was doing to do, out of respect, dump some mundane stuff on the page, and assure her many of us in the blogosphere are thinking of her.

And a big shoutout to Captain Complicated, who’s off for some vaginal embroidery this week (ie cerclage). Hope the recovery is smooth, your cervix behaves, and you get a nice satin stitch or french knot that you can make a real feature out of.

It’s a busy week in fucked up pregnancy land.

Today, ah today. We managed to confuse ourselves more. I went back on a solo mission to Dr South Korea, just the follow up appointment after the scan.

A land of smiles and choices. I was 20 minutes early. He looked up as he walked into reception, remembered me, said hello, then asked was it ok if we went in early?

Ummm, yeah.

He is so warm. Just easy to be around. Calm. Yet still thorough. He asked had we decided what we were doing today about obs, and I said I didn’t know, because we were virtually ready to switch when North Korea sent out the peace treaty to the UN and apologised.  He emphasised there was no pressure, he was there if we needed him.

He told me about the recommended screenings coming up at 28 weeks. I thought 27 weeks was third trimester, but apparently 28 is. Whatever. We’re nearly there. He wrote down the tests he’d recommend so I knew what would happen next. He explained about Strep B swabs, and the antibiotics you’d get if this was positive to protect bub against pneumonia. Never heard of that one. Oh good, just when you thought it was boring, there’s more vag action.

He was pleased with my blood glucose levels and my new 30 minute daily walk around the neighbourhood. (Yes people, I’m moving my ass. With doctor’s permission. Finally. Those three blocks perambulated twice a day are a glorious release).

We talked about labour scenarios, about not wanting to go past term due to the diabetes, inducement, c-sections, possibilities of natural labour (which he basically views as a trial at my age, or at least wants me to see it’s a “let’s see how it goes” thing).

He even recommended whoever I go with to pay the big fee before 30 June so we get a bigger tax deduction as they’ve changed the medical expense rules in the federal budget. Geez. Talk about practical. And thoughtful.

The receptionist tried to bill me for a gynecological appointment. She didn’t realise I was pregnant. Apparently even in an obstetrician’s office, I can still hide it sometimes! We chatted after the Doctor had gone about why I was there for a second opinion (I believe I used the words “prick of a doctor” and she laughed. And said Dr South Korea is not only lovely but brilliant….).

He really does talk to me like I’m a person.

And I walked out really relaxed, but confused.

Again.

There is something in my head that says to be “good” it has to be “hard”. As though with a more abrupt doctor, you’re somehow getting “better judgement” or more of a “clinician” that might be better in an emergency situation. Rationally, I can’t seem to get through my thick skull that someone could be “good” and “nice”. That I could both be cared for with a great deal of medical ability, and a great deal of bedside manner. My heart feels like there must be some “cost” to this being treated like a human being palaver. I try to picture the labour ward with one, then the other. And I’m just confuzzled. (confused, and puzzled at the same time).

This kind of mental process could possibly explain some of the men I’ve dated in the past………..(not you, hub-in-boots).

I then proceeded to spend three hours thinking I’d lost my Iphone and retracing my steps through the local shops I’d stopped at on the way home, finding it IN MY CAR (oh god you should have seen me trying to ring myself on the cordless house phone from where it would not drop out in the front yard, dumping it on the ground, then running to the car to rummage for the mobile, then running back to dial myself again.). I found the mobile. It would have made a “funniest home video” had I not been in such a ridiculous kerfuffle. I needed the Benny Hill soundtrack.

THREE HOURS later when I went for my walk, after my first circuit of the neighbourhood, I found I had LEFT THE BACK CAR DOOR WIDE OPEN.

Because everyone is completely mad in this neighbourhood, no one even noticed anything out of the ordinary about a wide open car door. Or tried to steal the car. Or anything in it.

One saving grace was I managed NOT to flatten the battery.

Talk to me about baby brain.

We probably need to decide on a doctor before the decision flow chart in my head gets so busy that I accidentally walk in front of a bus.

Gumby is 27 weeks 2 days, rolling over and doing weird shudders more than absolutely belting me all the time now, he weighs 1.3kg, He wakes me up several times a night and my ‘sleep all night’ routine is now punctuated by being kicked awake and near constant peeing.

Given his 5am gymnastics, I think he might be a morning person. So I’m not sure we’ll get along, but I’ll do my best.

I leave you with this book, which summarises our parenting aims. I borrowed it from our local library. I’ll report back on it’s usefulness shortly. The title comes from the poem below, which you may have seen before, but is, nevertheless, a laugh.

 

Parenting reading

This Be The Verse

by Philip Larkin

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
  They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
  And add some extra, just for you.

But they were fucked up in their turn
  By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
  And half at one another's throats.

Man hands on misery to man.
  It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
  And don't have any kids yourself

In the immortal words of Bon Jovi

Ooooh we’re halfway there
Oh oh! We’re livin on a prayer
!

 20 weeks today. It’s a bloody miracle. Well not literally. It’s a miracle.

I have a bump. And since I snuck out yesterday with my sister, lashed out and bought maternity bras, the new boob bump separation is like north and south Korea, heavily patrolled, so you can notice the bump even more. Freaky. I’m still in bump denial . It catches me by surprise when I see it in the mirror, or bump it into inanimate objects. It seems like some kind of joke prop.

I learnt with my early pregnancy reading, NO UNDERWIRES. And the midwife said to definitely sort the bras out by 20 weeks. I knew I needed to shop. I’ve been going to my doctor visits to in a very old worn out bra for its bagginess, as it turns out THREE or FOUR cup sizes too small . Oops. Might chuck that. Didn’t even wear it out of the bra shop!

The maternity / nursing bras have really helped my upper back & shoulder pain already. I can feel my posture improving. And best of all, they don’t actually look like something my mother would wear. Sorry mum.

I hate when you go bra shopping and go “oh that one is lovely!”. You find you’re looking at a 10A, dig around and find it in a 14DD, and go “OH. MY.GOD.” Now we’ve travelled into the land of the FF cup, it could end up more like “What The FFuck is that?”. But these particular garments, to their credit, do not look like an instrument of torture from Stalinist Russia. Thank you, Nocturnal Designs. I love you. Best fitting experience ever. We’ve gone the navy one here, and then a black and white one of these, as well as a sleep bra.

Nevertheless, despite saying they were very pretty, hub-in-boots has threatened to make a yurt out of one, and use the other as a parachute and is making himself laugh with the immortal line from Kaz Cooke’s book Up The Duff: “Hello fatty”. I say immortal, cause he’s a dead man walking if he says it again. I’m pretty sure I’ll find him wearing one bra on his head pretending to be a WW1 pilot in the not too distant future.

Just an ordinary night in at our place

So we’ve made halfway. I went really well with the endocrinologist & dietician, both very happy with how the gestational diabetes is going, and both think my blood glucose control is very good. Early days yet with that, as it tends to get worse as the hormones ramp up after 28 weeks. But i am doing what i can, and I’m still 2kg ish lighter than I was at 8 weeks , and about 1kg lighter than I was pre pregnancy. This could be a concern , but we’ve gone over my food diary together and all the boxes are well and truly ticked for me and gumby, nutritionally, and I’m happy with it. My dietician’s new book The Bump to Baby Diet that a friend sent me is great (thanks Pip!). I’d highly recommend it.  The recipes have been really good. So far I’ve had the homemade burgers, the chicken Udon soup, and the Moroccan Chickpea Tagine with Quinoa. Very satisfying and quick meals.

I’m feeling a lot more relaxed after the dramas early in the week. Totally different headspace. Calm birth again tomorrow ( which, ironically, stresses me out!!!).

Then I think there needs to be some kind of crazy halftime celebration.

What do they do for halftime at the football? In AFL, they let the little tackers on to play Auskick (see hub-in-boots, its your fault I got clucky). In Rugby League, they have scary orange women with fake tan, frightening teeth and pom poms. Pass. Soccer they probably tip beers on their heads and have a riot. Pass. In cricket they have tea. Our half time celebration will probably involving chickpeas, no dancing, no pom poms and no alcohol….mmm. I’m pretty sure someone is supposed to bring out refreshments. And possibly a marching band. I reckon we’ve earned it.

Take it away, Bon Jovi.

Livin' on a Prayer
Livin' on a Prayer (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pacman and two buts

Today is national kick a doctor in the head day. To celebrate this important national day, I will be kicking some head, and kicking some butt.

Let me bring you up to speed.

Remember we had our 19 week scan on Monday? Which was good, with one ‘but’… BASTARD the haematoma was smaller but still visible. And I was waiting on the specialist to call me and explain what this means for us. And they had stuffed up a bit on the day, mixing up two Joannes in the queue.

So anyway, No call . I rang my obstetrician yesterday for clarification. Again, no call.

Then late last night, hub-in-boots gets home from football, and he brings in the mail. And there’s a letter, from Sydney Ultrasound for Women. It’s my scan report. Weird, but Ok.

I read it quickly, it’s mostly measurements. Only as I get to the end of this letter, there’s not one ‘but’, there’s two. But one : the haematoma . But two: a “fetal anomaly evident” consisting of a “focally echogenic area in the right upper abdomen”. It goes on to talk about possibilities:
*an echogenic bowel loop secondary to ingestion of blood
*isolated bowel perforation which is usually self limiting.
* oh and then it goes on to talk about cystic fibrosis and how we don’t have that cf gene mutation, so that’s “reassuring”.

How would you feel reading this late at night?

Oh, and at the top of the letter is someone else’s name and address. The other fucking Joanne. But the clot volume has all my measurements, and it’s my date of birth, so I think these are my results.

Now it’s 9 o’clock at night, and I am almost halfway to being a mother, and there is no doctor to speak to. I nearly tear hub-in-boots’ head clean off when he starts with the “it’ll be fines”. Not fair to him, true, (sorry Stew) but that whole bloke thing of let’s just erase your irrational feelings?. Yeah not helpful. Feelings don’t have rationality. Feelings just are.

I called my sister . Sounding mental I was so upset. Sorry hub-in-boots, but you need a woman at times like this.

And if I try to unpack what I was feeling, last night, I’d say:
1. Anger. Actually more like fury. Way past anger. And I always cry when I get really really angry. It’s very inconvenient. I’m angry because it isn’t even remotely ethical to give a pregnant woman possible bad news, with scary words, in writing, without discussing it first. I’m also angry because there is someone else’s name on this letter. So not only have they failed to discuss results in an ethical manner, they’ve breached my privacy and the other Joanne’s . And they don’t care enough to get the details right, after $350.

2. Fear. Is something wrong with gumby? Rationally? I know this is standard cover your butt ultrasound speak. But Emotionally I’m just shit scared . Fear is rarely rational.

3. Stretched to my limit. I am just overloaded this week. All of a sudden I’ve hit the point of geez I don’t think I can do this anymore. I feel two inches away from rocking up to a psych ward and demanding four months of sedation. And I know if I can think this, then I’m probably fine. And I know I can always cope with more than I think I can cope with. But I’ve been numb since Sunday , and worn out, and it’s familiar, and it’s not good.

There were probably a million other emotions. These are the big three.

Now at the same time, my rational head is saying there’s nothing to fear, and is seeking answers. So dr google it is. I get to a double blind peer reviewed page (always the academic), and I find echogenic areas are bits the ultrasound waves bounce off. And they’re not too bad in 2nd trimester screenings. But they’re not common. We’re back in the one percenters.

At first I’m confused: is this my bowel, or gumbys bowel? But of course it’s gumby’s. And they can be nothing at all, or they can be markers for serious shit, like downs, turners syndrome, trisomy 13, intrauterine growth restriction, peritonitis . If we hadn’t already had the CVS test, (placental biopsy), I would have murdered someone last night.

Of course since then, I’ve realised that the most likely explanation is Gumby drinking blood. And the blood as it breaks down leaves deposits on the wall of his bowel. There’s been a lot of it about, thanks to the haematoma. But you know, I’ve just read the Twilight series. And babies? They’re supposed to drink amniotic fluid, That goes through an unreal filter system, not blood. So I can’t say this blood thing is a fantastic relief. It’s a worry . On the phone to my sister, I was having visuals of Gumby as some kind of crazy Pacman, eating up the leftovers of the clot. Gross.

The what ifs have begun their quiet erosion of my mind . I’m drinking tea and telling them to shut up. It is twelve minutes til 8 o’clock. And a very cool calm Jo will then get on the phone, speaking of lawyers, health care complaints commissions , and generally kicking ass. I have emailed both the ultrasound specialist and the midwife last night, with a complete absence of swearing or abuse. And when I’m icy cold, kids? You’d better be fucking frightened. Not to mention if my sister or brother in law get near you in the next 24 hours.

Updates will follow.

UPDATES:

Phone call 1: me giving reception at the ultrasound place two hours to get back to me before I get onto the Health care Complaints Commission, explaining, very icily, the extent of ethical and privacy breaches in this complete clusterfuck of an experience.

Phone call 2: The ultrasound specialist. Who to his credit, is a very nice bloke. He did brilliant work on the placental biopsy 8 weeks ago. I vented, in a rationed way, explaining my emotional reaction, my distress, my experience last night. He listened and he empathised. He said I should never have been sent the report. He could not believe the admin stuff up with the other Joanna’s address. He would be looking into it over the next hour. I suspect, given his voice, he was about to kick some butt.

He emphasised this is a result of Gumby drinking blood. Freaking vampire child. That they must canvass other possible causes in the report, but the most likely cause is the most likely cause. That all of the other chromosomal issues causing this “bright bowel” have already been tested for. (thank god we had that biopsy). That the blood will not harm Gumby. That even if it was a perforated bowel, it will not harm Gumby, as there is not yet any bacteria in his bowel, unlike an adult with a perforated bowel, and unlike an adult if that is there, it usually heals.

I asked when the next scan with him would be (which he will be personally attending). And, in a nice way, he basically said obstetricians, unlike mothers, are detached and now do very little until the baby is viable. So I guess the next proper scan is a thing to look forward to, because there’s a chance that problems at that stage could have medical interventions and a real live viable baby as an outcome. 

Phone call 3: the midwife at my ob’s office. Astounded, once I explained that I’d received the report in the mail. Incredulous, once I explained the mix up on monday and the other Joanna’s address on it. “Oh god you aren’t supposed to get that! That’s doctor to doctor stuff. What the hell? It’s not withholding information, it’s bloody withholding anxiety. Oh I’m so sorry you received that. You must have been so worried!” etc.

She reassured me, and she’s so nice,  but not in a condescending way. And also informed me because of “but 1”  (the haematoma), the bed rest and the progesterone? Are ongoing. Bugger.  And also acknowledged that all of this shit is so much worse when you’re sitting at home, not out in the world. Because it is your world. And I’d say the ob is going to get an ear full from her about ultrasound place’s the monumental fuck up.

I reckon that’s enough calls for one day.

And Gumby’s cool. Kicking back, drinking blood. Nice.