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.

The Monday snapshot : hard ass year

That was one hard ass year.

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You can see jman is stressed out by it.

2012 contained several of the worst days of my life, hanging in time, frozen moments of some of the hardest yards I’ve ever done as a person. Others, with the tragic loss of Simon, were the worst that our extended family have experienced. Words are just pointless in the face of that. And it wasn’t just these moments, but the long hard slog that went with them, the sheer stubborn force of will it sometimes took to just hang on, day after day of feeling like a well that’s been drained, wondering just what is going to fill us up again….

I spent almost half of 2012 inside these four walls. Confined. Waiting. Hoping. Fearing. Balanced on a knife’s edge.

And of course, our boy has helped to refill our wells, with a whole lot of new stuff. He was worth the wait. Understatement of the millennium.

Thank you to those that helped us through. .

2012 also contained some of the best days of my life. His birth, of course. And teaching our son to make stupid noises & blow raspberries. Sometimes, blowing raspberries at life is the best course of action.

May you have a wonderful 2013, break resolutions by January 2nd, and may your 2013 dreams come true.

Take it away, jman.

Monday snapshot: Today’s the day

Today’s the day that jman’s life started, in a little petri dish, on the first floor of a nondescript building in Greenwich. Today’s the day, a year ago, that the scientists rang me to say we had 12 eggs fertilised in our second ivf attempt (three embryos made it to day 5).

It is a strange feeling to look at him, laying here attacking his owl on his playmat, and think that a year ago today he was one cell, thinking of becoming two, thinking of being a hatching blastocyst in 5 days, thinking of joining me on the 30th. After all we’ve been through. It’s amazing.

I should have taken his photo, in that petri dish on the camera on day 5, but for the Monday snapshot you can make do with these:

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Ding dong, the witch is dead

An interruption to our invention broadcasts: This week I had my six week check up with Dr North Korea.

For those not in the loop, he won the title of Dr North Korea because of the dictatorial style he adopts in patient care, and the lack of involvement one gets in ones own health decisions. It wasn’t pleasant being his patient. He has all the empathy of a firing squad. It isn’t his fault, he’s a little aspergers-y, I’m thinking.

Anyhoo, my vijay jay passed the test, we’re healing nicely, thanks very much. Tick.

Let’s now reassess all the things he said would happen:

1. We’ll have an enormous baby on the 90th percentile

J-man was on the 25th percentile. He’s a little tacker. Good work with the ultrasound wand you bloody dill.

2. We’ll be separated at birth while he goes into days of special care for low blood sugar

He popped into special care for five minutes at a time, and had a few heel prick tests, and by 1 day old he was sorted.

3. I would have a caesarean

Natural birth, gas.

4. If I had a natural labour, my blood clot would rupture and the baby would die (his actual words)

The 60ml haematoma was re absorbed by 27 weeks, I had a natural labour, and bub was pretty happy actually

5. I’d have an induction

Nope. I told j-man when it was ok to come. He came 4 days later. Two and half weeks before the induction.

6. If I tried natural labour, I’d end up in an emergency c section

Or have a record 3.5 hr natural labour. With a bit of gas. And the jbaby arrived before the obstetrician did. Ha. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it.

7. We were at huge risk of pre term labour

He came at full term.

8. My gestational diabetes spelled disaster for us both, I’d be on insulin, blah blah blah

I saw dieticians and endocrinologists, I took oral meds, I watched my diet like a freakin hawk. I put on about 2.5 kg in pregnancy. I’m now 6kg below my pre pregnancy weight. Thinner than I’ve been for years. After 15 weeks bed rest.The bub was small. I rock.

9.I would never be able to breast feed (his actual words) because of gestational diabetes, PCOS and age

Ummm….my little Buddha of a boy gutses in the milk like a bloke with a yard glass of beer at his 21st. Breast milk. So ridiculously plentiful he splutters in it. And whilst sometimes I’d give anything to sleep through another freakin feed, my little butter ball is doing good on my gear. Never breastfeed my ass.

He’s lucky that doctor, that the best way to motivate me is to tell me I can’t do something, and don’t underestimate the effect of bloody minded stubbornness on us making it.

Then he had the audacity of suggesting I get pregnant by Xmas for bub number 2. This year!!!!I’ve been locked up since January, then breastfeeding & coping with a newborn since August 2, is he insane?????

What a dickhead. Well in the words of the wizard of oz, ding dong the witch is dead. We walked out of those doors and the sun seemed a little bit brighter. No more Dr North Korea. No more stupid communication style, rushed visits, scrambled responses. I am glad we stuck with him for the pregnancy, because Gumby aka Jensen made it. Against all odds. But no more.

Ding dong, the wicked witch is dead.

Mother of invention #2: horizontal-o-meter

New to the home shopping network this week for that baby in your life: the horizontal-o-meter.

Babies, Worried you’ll miss out on something happening? Concerned those new parents of yours are just doing it too damn easy? Now the horizontal-o-meter will solve all your first year dilemmas. Just ask satisfied customer, Jensen Angus.

“I was worried the folks were really handling the changes well. That’s when I signed up for the horizontal-o-meter. Now, whenever I move from arms to bassinet, my horizontal o meter goes off and I spring into alertness. No chance of unwanted sleep here. ”

The deluxe model comes with a parent sensor. “I’m so glad I got the deluxe one” Jensen adds. “now, I can feign deep sleep, but as soon as mum or dad are horizontal BANG! I hit them like a landmine. It’s so easy to use, it’s child’s play. I can relax in the knowledge that I won’t miss out on happenings around the house, securing me a few more dances to the rolling stones with dad, or extra feeds from mum. I don’t know how babies ever survived without the horizontal-o-meter.”

Stay tuned for new product developments in this range such as the “just opened a bottle of wine meter”, “almost got to pretend they had a life meter” for sneaky nights out, and the “just sat down to dinner meter”.

The horizontal o meter is yours for just 12 easy payments of your life savings, plus postage and handling, cause lets face it they are never gonna get out to an actual store again. Buy one and get free installation in that baby in your life.

Gumby’s Birth story Chapter 1: Olympics and horses

Settle in kids. There’s a story to tell. TMI warnings will be given. Laughter will be had. A baby will be born.

Here’s the LAST BUMP PIC EVER.

30 July, 2 days before arrival. Pre labour started two days later.

Since last Thursday, a week ago today, (ok update so now over two weeks ago) a lot has happened. And in my quiet moments, I go over and over and over the birth in my head. Hopefully putting the story down here will give me and my brain more time to rest….so here goes! There is a story that will need to be pieced together, because my birth story is different to hub-in-boots or captain communication’s version of the story. We were all there. We all played our part…it’s just that mine involved more stitches and gas and less photography.

So here goes.

Chapter 1: Pre labour day 1

Well last week on Monday 30th, I was 37 weeks and 2 days pregnant. It was time, I decided. I did not want to wait for induction, because I did not want to be the one dictating when this baby would come. I went for a long walk to our local deli, stopped for coffee with two nonnas who were there (relatives of friends), and all the way there went a bit berko on the pelvic floor exercises  as I walked because, as usual, I hadn’t really been practising them as much as I should.

A few days earlier, I had gone on a mental online shop, and FILLED the cupboards full of food, stockpiled us up so we could live for weeks without shopping, filled the freezer with meats and meals. I spent about $300. I worked all week, getting bills for the next few weeks paid, our tax returns  done,  getting paperwork together for the paid parental leave. I visited my work, said hi to a few people, did a maternity leave form, visited the boxing crew on Saturday for breakfast. Looking back on it, all week I was putting full stops on all the sentences in our lives.

After the walk, my groin muscles were aching. I’d kind of overdone it, and they kind of continued like that for two days. Stupid Kegel exercises. I sat on the couch and thought of the things I still had to do before the baby came, and I listened to the calm birth meditation and a playlist I’d done up for the birth. I decided in my head that the jobs that were left to be done were not so important. It would be okay if Gumby arrived at any time. We were ready.

Tuesday the 31st I met with Captain Complicated Pregnancy for lunch. We went back to the deli and talked for a long time, but I felt kind of out of sorts, and weird about heading out. Despite wanting to exercise, I couldn’t bring myself to do anything. I almost rang her and apologised after lunch I felt like I was such odd company. I was agitated, but incredibly lazy at the same time, and really drawn to home. The weather was kind of crappy. When we got home I totally crapped out on the couch, but eventually muscled up the energy to turn the salmon I’d bought into a hot hot thai salmon curry that was really delicious. Hub-in-boots was stoked when he got home from training.

As hub-in-boots tucked into his meal, the usual evening Braxton hicks continued their merry work, but there was like an overlay to them sometimes, just a weird “what was that?”. I thought it was strange. You could have called it mild pain. I didn’t say anything. The night of Olympic broadcast was just unfurling when something in my head was really compelling, saying “whatever this is, you should rest”. So I called it quits quite early at around 9.

At 4am when I could not sleep. I lay there for a while, feeling the Braxton hicks do their tighten, release, tighten release, and I suddenly had a strong visual of a roller coaster. I could feel them rise to a peak, and then go up, over and down. They started low low low in my abdomen, rose up with the tightening towards my navel then arced over my hips and into my back. This was new. This happened three or four times before I started to pay attention. I reached for my iphone, grabbed the contraction timer on my Sprout Pregnancy app (so sad, techno girl), and started to time them. It was exciting being the only person in the world that knew this was going on, right at that moment.

They were regular, about 10-12 minutes apart, at first lasting 30 seconds and by dawn reaching 45 seconds. They were minor, but they were different. I lay in bed smiling. I was pretty excited. Would I tell Hub-in-boots to stay home from work? I didn’t know. Wait til dawn. Suck it and see.

At about 6:30, hub-in-boots rolled over, exhausted, and said “Oh god I’d give anything not to go into work today.”

“Well now that you mention it, babe, there’s been something going on. I felt it a little last night, but I’ve actually been timing something since 4am. They are not that painful, but they are different, and they are regular. I am not sure what to tell you about work”.

His face went pale, and his mouth opened and he looked across the pillow at me. “REALLY? Oh!”. He looked confused, and a little alarmed.

“Yep really. But I’m not saying they’re something yet. They just might become something later. But this stuff can rumble on for days. I wouldn’t worry too much.”

He was a bit surprised, and went for his shower, really unsure what to do. By about 7:15 I called it, and he came to the same decision, and said given work was only 30 minutes away, and given this may go on for days, he’d go in. But I was to keep him posted all day.

I dashed from bed to the loo with a bit of an upset stomach. Calmbirth course sign of impending labour number 2. Hmmmm. But it could be anything. Back to bed, be alert, but not alarmed. Keep Calm and Carry On.

15 minutes later at 8am hub-in-boots was back. He’d lost his car immobiliser thingy, so he couldn’t take his car to work. He was in a bit of a flap. I felt like I’d thrown him for six! I sent him off in my car, despite his protests, because hell, if they were contractions, I was not getting behind the wheel anyway.

I sent my sister, the other half of the birth team, a facebook message telling her she was officially on standby.

 

 

The day rumbled along, and after messaging captain complicated (S) and getting a lecture from her about doing nothing, and asking for what I paid for, by 11 I decided a call to Dr North Korea’s midwife was a good plan.

“Oh my god! I feel like your mother! That’s great! I’m so excited!”. The midwife was so enthusiastic after all we’d been through. She told me these things could rumble on for days, just take it easy, get loads of rest, but that it would be doing something. Getting my cervix ready for labour, thinning it out. Whatever it was, pre labour, early labour, false labour, whatever, it was bringing us closer. So I felt perfectly justified watching hours and hours of the Olympics.

The jokes rolled in about me having a baby on the horses’ birthday, August 1.

We’d done a meditation on early labour in the calmbirth course, about thinking you were in labour, and thinking through what you’d do. I got up and made as snack, just like I did in the meditation: banana and peanut butter on sourdough toast. Later on, a fruit smoothie. Just like on the calmbirth visualisation, I got up and had a long relaxing shower. I washed up, tidied the kitchen I did a load of washing and hung it on the balcony, I watered the plants. I added a few things to my hospital bag, and checked the baby’s coming home bag was in order. I was glad I’d made a mad dash to Target the previous week. I had a sudden feeling we didn’t have enough smaller baby clothes, and I bought about 4 suits in two different sizes (0000 and 000) and just hung them away with the receipt as a just in case. I felt like I was being stupid at the time, because we had heaps of clothes, and didn’t really need to be spending more, but I couldn’t help it.

At 5pm, the thing overlaying the Braxton hicks was a bit more “hello look at me”. The day’s contractions had regular patches and long patches of very irregular timing. 8 minutes 8 minutes, then 12 minutes 10 minutes 11 minutes, 7 minutes 8 minutes, always lasting about 45 seconds to a minute long.  It was all pretty interesting. We stayed home, had dinner, and went to bed pretty early.

At 2am Thursday morning, they woke me again. Now I think they’d qualify as painful. After two in a row at 4 minutes apart, I was a bit nervous so I rang the maternity ward. As I said in my brief post, I got a nasty midwife who did the dismissive “oh first time mother” routine, and told me to take two Panadeine and call in an hour. “No waters breaking, no show?” No. I was furious at how dismissive she was. (Cue the cranky post natal letter to the hospital!)

 After two hours of watching more tele on the couch, at 4am I called again, and the nicer midwife agreed something was happening, but probably nothing serious just yet. Hub-in-boots stumbled out bleary eyed. I told him I’d rung the hospital but there was not much change. Just get some sleep. One of us needed to be firing on all cylinders! I had no intention of going in to the hospital, I just wanted them on standby.

At 5 am I went to the loo, and woo hoo’d loudly, ran into the bedroom and demanded a hi-five from a deeply sleeping hub-in-boots. Stewie, we have a ( minor) show. And unlike the last time this happened, this was not something that said “Your pregnancy is stuffed”. Instead, this said “Gumby is on his way.” Hub-in-boots indeed hi-fived me, and went back to sleep immediately. I felt the auto- panic rise seeing even the tiny amount of blood, but I knew it was ok.

I crawled back into bed at around 5:30, and slept off and on til 8 or 8:30.  Contraction wise, nothing had changed. If anything, they were shorter and less regular.

At about 9am I rang the midwife at the Obby again. “still going, and had a show” I reported. I was concerned there was a time after losing the mucous plug that they would consider inducing for the baby’s safety or something. I wasn’t sure how it worked.

“I reckon you’ll have a weekender” she said. “These things can rumble on for days, especially with a first.” I madly added up the days. It was only Thursday. God another 48 hours of this? How do you stand the WAITING? “ I don’t think we’ll still be talking about this Monday. Just get heaps of rest. Of course, if it changes, don’t ignore it. Sometimes, just sometimes, I can hang up the phone from a call like this and things change in a moment and get cracking.”

She said it.

We pfaffed around laying in bed for another half an hour. I rang the mums and briefed them on what had been happening for the past day. My mum was excited but upset, because she was too sick with a virus to be anywhere near us anytime soon. Stewie’s mum was excited, first grandchild on his way.

Stay tuned for more adventures of maybe baby and hub-in-boots in pre labour: chapter 2 – keeping it real.

Chapter 2: Pre labour day 2: Keeping it real

Chapter 3: Laughing my ass off

Chapter 4: This is serious, Mum

Chapter 5: Gumby becomes  the J-man: Jensen Angus Eckermann

Chapter 6: My plan versus reality & did Calmbirth help

Don’t blame it on sunshine

36 weeks! Woot!

We had another busy weekend, another fancy dress (can you believe it? That’s FOUR, Gumby!), another brother hitting a big milestone (my bro Paul is SIXTY!).

The fancy dress was sixties kitsch so I rolled out a recycled Eurovision outfit and rocked on up to the bowlo in Balmain. I even had a dance, and I have to say “blame it on the boogie” is a little challenging in high heeled boots on a packed dance floor at 36 weeks.

I had a weird experience seeing a “ghost from Christmas past” at the party… Someone I went out with a few times after my 4 years with friend & ex partner Nath, and before Stew. It turns out he has worked with & is a mate of my bro’s girlfriend, which is why he was at her 50th. I thought about rumbling up and saying hi, after all this is the guy that got me onto two great bands : Arcade Fire, and The Postal Service. He had great taste in music. But it was that stage in the night when everyone was half cut, and having an eight month pregnant woman wander up and go “hey! I know you! We dated!” could really wig a guy out! Funny, but not nice. 🙂

Hub-in-boots et al loaded up on drinks so it was a loud drunken carload I took home, mentally picturing the absolute chaos that would occur at the hospital if I went into labour right here right now: 4 adults, dressed in 60’s gear, 3 of them sizzled, one in labour. Ugly! I had fun out, but it is an odd experience being the stone cold sober one.

Sunday was big bro’s birthday lunch, and 10 of us went out to the Austrian schnitzelhaus up the road. Gumby was in eatin mode, so I ate LOADS. A schnitty as big as my head. And followed it up with home made schnitty and veg for tea! And STILL my blood sugar behaves!

Yesterday we went to the ob. Gumby has been hurting me off and on, so I knew he’d had a significant position shift. He is still head down, but now is once again really low and fully engaged. So much so, his little head is squished on one side; you can SEE IT on the ultrasound screen! So the measurements of 3.1kg or 6lb14 are likely to be a bit understated, as his head can’t be measured now. His heart rate is good, blood flow is good, there isn’t too much fluid (which can happen if the diabetes affects him).

The plan now is induce me at 39 weeks, assuming his position is still good at 38, and assuming my cervix has started to ‘blame it on the boogie’ and thin out. I’ve only got a 1:10 chance of spontaneous labour with a first bub prior to 40 weeks, and the ob reckons only 50% have gone by 40+3.

However the risk of stillbirth goes up at full term at my age, so we won’t be overcooking this bun, as much as I’d prefer Gumby to decide on the timing. I also know I only have a 50% chance of natural labour at my age, and induction lowers that & increases likelihood of further interventions. All a bummer, but as I’ve explained to the doctors before, I’m a person, not a statistic. I’m not an average! I’m an individual! Stats don’t describe the individual experience. So I’m hoping we at least get the chance to have a go at labour, and I’ll just wear whatever comes after that with good grace.

So the 38 week visit is the big decision making one, however we see the doctor weekly now. Gumby was kicking up a storm last night, I’ve been awake since 3am making listd and listening to tunes, so granted myself a sleep in after hub-in-boots left for work.

Hub-in-boots is looking a little nervous these days… He’d much prefer a known date because he doesn’t want that little shake awake saying “stew… I think….”. Maybe because the last time we did that I was bleeding to death & it was the car trip from hell? I’ve tried to explain to him it’s hardly likely to be a rush rush rush panic situation.

I seem to be over my horrible flat anxious hyper vigilant patch… Sure I’ve had some low energy days but I don’t feel as thoroughly crappy as I did at 33-34 weeks. I had a change in strategy last week, and just completely lowered my expectations of what i could achieve each day. This really seemed to kick it, and gave me the downtime to bounce back. I am back to hour long hilly walks 4-5 times a week, I’ve got through a few jobs on the list, I’m back to cooking, and feeling pretty good. My blood sugar has dropped significantly, so the tight control on diet isn’t quite as dictatorial, I do crazy stuff like having yoghurt and fruit STRAIGHT AFTER tea, instead of waiting two hours sometimes. We really do madness well around here.

I checked in with a specialist (i’ve met with once before) yesterday to be sure, and he’s totally comfortable with me just touching base regularly after gumby’s arrival to monitor my mood, given my prior history with depression. He thought a bit of a delayed reaction to what we’ve been through, and a bit of pre birth anxiety was pretty damn reasonable, as reactions go. We talked a little about the loss of identity that goes with this turf, especially for women these days… But that’s something I’m still slowly mulling over. It’s quite a different thing having two semesters off work WITH a baby to having three or four semesters off, almost half pre baby. It makes me feel more disconnected now, already, and was totally not in the game plan!

The ob and i have also established, since I’ve ignored my doctor and gone back to the glory that is having long hot baths (after 6 months I’m sick of taking dumb orders.. I’m having a bath!!!), that I have an amazing degree of abdominal separation. I really don’t know what this is ( I can guess ), but by jingo by crikey I can demonstrate it! When I go to sit up, I go from making my own archipelago in the bath ( its quite disappointing how much water WON’T FIT with me and my bump), there is this amazing mountain range that rises up from my belly; like a statisticians wet dream I can make an instant visual of a 3d bell curve! With my stomach! Apparently, this new party trick is not to be celebrated, and Dr North Korea has told me, instead, to roll onto my side or risk worsening the separation. Which is a shame, because it was hilarious, and hub in boots would clap his hands and cry “Again! Again!” whilst tears of laughter ran down his cheeks. Mind you, he finds me getting out of a chair or car hilarious, and loves to recreate “what did Jojo do today” by following the trail of dropped and or broken objects around the house. He finds my awkwardness very entertaining.

So now we wait! We’re in 21 days and under territory, I’m weirdly ready for labour but not ready to meet (& deal with) gumby! I’ll be putting more work into the labour ward playlist this week, as I’m pretty sure tunes will help. Suggestions welcome.. I figure we need the calming inward focused breathing one, and the have a laugh relieve the tension one, which surely needs to be kicked off with salt n pepa’s “push it” and a bit of rage against the machine….

After ivf and this pregnancy, we sure can’t hold the sunshine or the moonlight to account, and I doubt the “good times” are responsible…but I’m quite happy to blame it on the boogie….

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Installing the end of my tether

Yesterday, I woke at 4am. I was bored. I couldnt sleep. I wanted to see how Cadel did in the tour de France time trail, my pregnant eyes refusing to stay open the night before. The Internet was down.

I got up late after hours of lying awake, figured I’d catch highlights on sbs. Tv lost sbs reception , for no apparent reason (this has happened before).

So do what the doctor ordered. I went up late for an updated blood test, on my iron & hb1ac (average blood glucose). I was fasting, tired, not a cup of tea to my name, oh and in hub-in-boots’ ridiculous two door low slung convertible, as he was getting the car seat installed in my car. Try getting out of a 20 year old convertible at 40 years old and 8 months pregnant. The day was not panning out well.

I strike the royal bitch of a receptionist at the pathology place . I had to take a number & wait to be called, even though there was ONE other person waiting. It STILL took them 30 minutes to see me, even though there were TWO people collecting and only two patients went in in thirty minutes.

Back home in the freaking convertible, complete with its non self cancelling indicators & permanently fogged up windows. Finally get my porridge & tea.

Yeah this was panning out well.

I thought maybe hub in boots could email our neighbour & find out if he was having similar aerial troubles with sbs . No, too hard to find the address. Right. Finally he did it. The neighbour is ok, it’s just us, ring the real estate.

I thought maybe he could ring the real estate… No… I’m the at home dogsbody. Apparently that’s my job.

I thought perhaps he could ring the Internet provider. No. He forwarded me the EMAIL of the user name and password, then gave it to me on the phone… Because you can’t GET freakin email when the net is down.

Ok. Breathe. He IS getting the car seat installed at the good place that we’ve already used for the pram, in his lunch hour. He’s busy getting an important job done. He will make sure he understands how to move it in and out, and show me how.

I spent 50 minutes on the phone to the Internet provider. We reset the whole modem. To no avail. I spent 15 minutes on the phone to the real estate, then another 15 trying to send them the ‘please send us your the tv aerial is stuffed request in writing’ email over the iPhone network, in our little reception black hole. Hell, half the time I can’t send an SMS here. Yes, of course I have to confirm it in writing when THE INTERNET IS DOWN.

I didn’t want to stay here, I am so over these four walls…but I didn’t have the energy to do anything either.  Cue the iron lull. So I totter out with my sister, who is on school holidays, to the shops. Thank god she fed me lunch during the internet saga.

And as I’m leaving, the Internet company calls. I run back inside. Follow more instructions. Still no dice.

At the shops, neither of the baby things I needed are there. Cool. And of course, I look like shit, i havent showered or done my hair, have no makeup on, and run into someone from work.

I get home, and the Internet is working! Hurrah!

The Internet company calls, gets me to check it, it’s not working. Booooo.

Oh and by the way they can’t fix it. The problem is intermittent. They don’t understand the problem.
So they’ll send us a new modem.
In several days.
But they don’t know which day.
And then I’ll have to re-do the hour on the phone set up process.
And have no net in the meantime.
And have to wait around for delivery.

Hub in boots arrives home. We all traipse out to check out the car seat.

He just went to the ‘I install one car seat a month mechanic’, not the ‘all we do is install car seats and help nervous parents’ place down the road.

He very confidently goes to show us how to move it.

It quickly becomes apparent a ) he has no idea b) he picked it up from the apprentice who had no idea and showed him nothing, nada. C) it does not click in and out, but rather has a complicated impossible to adjust non removable tether strap, so you can only remove the capsule by;
* a lengthy lessening the tension on a tether,
*unlooping it from hooks on the capsule,
*leaning across to the middle of the car and destroying your back, and
*performing a level five yoga pose and sticking your tongue out.

I begin to cry. My sister and hub in boots are calm, trying to reason it out in thr pitch dark back seat of the car, but really, I’m done. My bump won’t fit in the confined space and my hands don’t work properly with pregnancy hormones so I can’t grip the clips properly. I come inside and cry half a box of tissues.

One part of my head is screaming “He had ONE JOB. ONE FREAKING job. Out of that whole list of getting ready for baby, one job. Sixty bucks and a box of Kleenex later, we are back where we started”. The other part of my head is saying “we’ve both had a rough trot. He forgot why I wanted to go to an expert fitter, not just a mechanic who fits occasional seats. He’s tired and stressed, and he showed up with flowers (and tim tams i love but am not meant to eat)”.

After I calm down a bit, of course I’d like to look up manufacturer’s instructions. But did I mention THE INTERNET IS DOWN????

Luckily my sister’s iPad is on a different network Which occasionally gets reception here. There are no videos on YouTube to help& I find one PDF describing how to install the current model, but of course the words won’t stay in my head. My head seriously will not work . Baby brain. I go back to the car, to find that the $60 installation has installed the whole thing on a random back cushion I had kicking around the car. With no explanation. So the base of the capsule is not even touching the seat. I also find they haven’t even closed the cover over the tether hook. Or basically done anything.

I slept in the spare room. Afraid I’d wake in the night and just try and tear hub in boots apart. Poor hub in boots. I thought about just getting in my car and going, i had this run away urge. Still do.  My sister backed out of the house before round 2 with the car seat, leaving her ipad, with the facial expression of someone leaving a very active minefield.

I am still laying in bed in the nursery. And hoping like hell today is better. I think all the keeping on going, all the oh my god are we going to lose this baby days that went on for months and months have just hit me all at once. I think every bit of low iron, and pregnancy hormone weirdness, it has all arrived. I suppose the question is what I do with it…sit and wait for it to pass, write or talk it out, look for professional help which I may or may not need. I know what the problem is.

The problem is the maths of this fucked up pregnancy,

4 weeks then a positive test+

5 weeks standard first trimester breath holding +

15 weeks of almost miscarriage/almost late pregnancy loss/almost severely preterm labour and bedrest & no life of varying degrees of difficulty+

10 weeks of oh we’re going to be parents are we ready for a baby?

This equals 34 weeks, but it also equals 9 months worth of normal first baby complex emotional processing (plus the geez that was a close one aftermath )in 10 weeks flat. Little wonder I feel not depressed, not anxious, but just bloody overwhelmed. It’s kind of like teachers that always get sick in the first week of holidays… The stress hits after the fact.

And I have six weeks to get my shit together.

Make that five and a half. With no Internet.

No wonder I’m having trouble with my tether.

Toot toot chugga chugga big red car

The Wiggles announced their retirement yesterday. All except the Blue wiggle, Anthony, who clearly must have gambling debts and crack whores to support. Anthony admits he’s suffered with depression, just like many parents subjected to hourly reruns of Wiggles DVDs. They could replace the Dorothy song previously used at Guantanamo with a wiggles number, if the American military is running out of ways to breach human rights.

In other news, the Aussie champion Moto Gp rider Casey Stoner is retiring for family reasons. (Perhaps he’s had second thoughts about ending up in a mangled wreck of twisted metal like his Italian and Japanese friends, now that he has a kid. Who can blame the man). I thought perhaps for a new family friendly job he could become the Red Wiggle, but as my friend suggested he’d probably want to drive the big red car pretty damn fast. And if Casey was driving it’d probably be a two wheeled Honda, and it wouldn’t go chugga chugga.**

If only Jeff had got treatment for his narcolepsy, the group might have lasted. **

So I guess a Wiggles concert is not something I’ll get to experience with Gumby. And you say this like it’s a bad thing….

In yet other news, we visited North Korea yesterday. Dr North Korea to you.

I had been on the phone to the counsellor about our decision prior to the appointment. I THINK i was 95% in favour of a change. Unclear at the start of the conversation, everything I was saying to the counsellor led me to changing doctors, to the land of choice and progress that is Dr South Korea. Listening to the conversation, I think hub-in-boots began to understand my reasoning.

And then we dodged the snipers and visited his dictatorship. To find it a changed place.

There was a tacit decision by both of us not to look towards the large oak door as he swept into the room before the waiting minions. He seated himself closer to the giant desk, and we sort of continued our conversation about the retirement of decommissioned cruise ships to Russia (seriously). We were seated back from the desk, and towards each other.

He looked different. The air was kind of charged. He talked briefly through the scan report, not mentioning the other doctor’s name at the top of the referral. He expressed pleasure at the absence of the clot. He didn’t know I’d called it after him (BASTARD). He mentioned the “echogenic area” in the baby’s bowel was resolved. He spoke more slowly.

Any questions ?

I felt myself folding my arms. Tried to stop. Couldn’t stop it. “nope”

What about you, Stewart? Any questions?

Stew met my eyes. Deadpan. “nope”. There was silence. Dr North Korea looked from hub-in-boots to me. And back to hub-in-boots. Hub in boots went on.

“Actually, I wondered if you could run us through the scenario you see unfolding now that we’re in this different position, without the clot.”

Dr North Korea went on to talk about how at 16 weeks he did not think we’d make 24. At 24, he didn’t think we’d make 26. And yet here we were. He spoke some of the magic words “39 weeks”. He used the N word “essentially, everything’s NORMAL”. He went very slowly through the diabetes, looked at my blood sugar diary, complemented me on progress, asked for my endo’s feedback. He said some doctors would have me on insulin now, because any change takes two weeks to filter through to the baby& we don’t want a disproportionate abdomen as it shows Gumby is being affected by my sugars. But he did not query the other doctor’s choices on this. For once.

We resisted the urge to woop, holler and hi five. The dynamic of the visit was weird. The central focus was with us. We didn’t feel rushed, or trapped, we were nonchalant. We out nonchalanted him, and we were not relying on him for ‘salvation’. The power sat quite clearly with us. It was palpable.

As he helped me up onto the bed for the ultrasound, he looked me in the eye and said “would you like to attempt a natural labour?”

What the hell?

“it will depend on the position of the baby of course, and his size, and the diabetes, but you may be able to. At 26 + 5 it may be hard to predict at this stage. But it is certainly something to consider as things unfold.”

Yet again I was speechless. This felt like treatment with choices. We’re we still in north Korea? Toto, I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore.

We went through the usual measurements, Gumby had a bit of a kick which I saw on screen. He was hard for me to see again, head down, up to 1.2kg (so how the hell am I losing /maintaining weight?).

As we went back to the desk, Dr North Korea paused, and then launched into an apology.

Hub-in-boots and I did not make eye contact, but I could hear the intake of breath at my side. You could have heard a pin drop.

“I understand you rang and spoke to B and were very unhappy after the last visit which you came to with your sister. I think we all had different purposes on that day. I wanted to apologise for that. I understand, as a woman, that you come in here wanting the most natural labour and birth possible, regardless of the kind of pregnancy you’ve had.”

“yes I do. And I understand that we are an unusual case, and it is not easy to predict. However I feel that I need to know if certain things are possible in the birth we end up having, like skin to skin contact, like early bonding, and breast feeding, that it will be actively facilitated, not discouraged. I understand everything is if the circumstances allow it.

He went on, I forget the exact words, but he basically admitted he had been out of line. He talked us through what would influence the caesarean v natural decision as events unfolded closer to full term, he never mentioned any dates other than full term ones. He explained the choice of anaesthesia would most likely be driven by who the anaesthetist was on the day & when they were educated. He did mention special care nurseries if there’s blood sugar issues for baby, but we knew that.

There was lots of content. But it was clearer, slower, full of choices.

We left, and hub-in-boots shut the door, and said
“THAT BASTARD! He’s made it such a hard decision now! It was so clear before we walked in there. It was like it was a different doctor! That must be the doctor that other people get.”

So we were confused, but walking taller. So much dark cloud lifted off our heads. So much anxiety we could let go of, at least partly.

We went and signed a one year lease for our place. Then we went to vinnies to find an outfit for Eurovision. Because, shit, when you’ve had all your worries lifted, and you’ve sorted out where you’re living, and you have a baby on the way, what you need is a bad eastern European styled outfit. They are gorgeous. Shiny. Hideous in their beauty. We can’t reveal it ahead of the party. But stay tuned for the photos. We are gonna be beautiful.

And I know if we decide to stay in North Korea, people will think we’re mad. There’s two people to care for here: Gumby, and me. This makes it a complex decision. I know in my heart that with many other doctors, I would have stayed on at work. I would have continued normal life. And the clot would have won. The extremely conservative way I’ve been managed by this doctor who was, more often than not, a complete ass, may have saved our son’s life. may have turned this from the hair’s breadth that separated the two scenarios, from horrible tragedy to miracle story with happy lively ending.

Am I prepared to suck up some personality issues for that outcome? You bet I am.

Would I prefer someone I clicked with a bit more reliably with?
Yes

Is it important that Dr North Korea is on staff at the public hospital with the best neonatal intensive care, just in case?
Yes.

Did the simple act of getting another opinion change the trapped feeling and bad dynamics for you, permanently?
Yes.

Would you go back to North Korea for a second pregnancy?
Probably not. But ask me later.

Are we living in a cartoon world where one doctor is all bad, and one is a shining light?
Yeah, probably not.

Does he really really realise you are not doormats and he is not god now?
Yes. Unequivocally.

Would he make a good member of the new Wiggles?
Yes. And if he ever pisses me off again, I’m just going to imagine him singing “hot potato, hot potato”, complete with gestures. In a yellow skivvy.

Knowing all this, and after yesterday, the decision is not easy. It is strange to have absolute faith in someone’s abilities, be willing to put yourself in their hands, and still not be sure if you like them very much.

We see Dr South Korea next Tuesday. I still feel like he is there for us if we need him, willing to step in at any stage. Perhaps this is the best of both worlds.

But no one’s getting their $4k bill paid, just yet. Not til after Eurovision.

** the Wiggles are an Aussie kids entertainment group with such songs as “big red car” and “hot potato”. They wear skivvies . They were previously an ordinary adults rock band when I was a teenager; they’ve made lots more money this way. For the record I don’t like captain feathersword, and felt their early work without the other characters had more artistic integrity. Jeff is my favourite. Like me, Jeff has trouble waking up. Once, my niece was making a wiggles big red car cake, and I kept eating Jeff’s icing head. Three times. Poor Jeff.

Mothers day

Well at 26 weeks, today is my first Mother’s day. It’s pretty special to turn 26 weeks today, when I know two grown ups who are alive and kicking who were born at 26 weeks.

For a long while, I didn’t think we’d get here. Since January 22nd, there have been a lot of times where I had no idea which side of the coin our fortunes would land on.

I know it’s not mothers day everywhere, but I’d like today to think of all those women who struggle, often silently, to become mums. Who, like me, just got caught up in life and almost left it too late, because of the stupid disparity between nature and culture that exists for many women now. Or who have unexplained infertility, or other problems. Who would make great mums, but don’t know at this point if they will ever get there.

I know for many of these women, mothers day is not an easy time. Some of them have suffered multiple losses: miscarriage, stillbirth, complications.

Some never got there at all. Some just try and try, and don’t choose to go on to some of the more extreme measures like ivf for many reasons.

For some, infertility becomes a relationship/life nuclear bomb, for others, it’s a quiet hollow ache. I could have been you, and I’m wishing you a happy mothers day. I think you’re more a mother than many women out there. I hope you find somewhere to give the world the benefit of those instincts, or that you find a way through.

Me, I feel like I’m going to be a mum now. Sure, something could still go wrong. But Gumby’s here kicking me in the guts, so I’m a mum already. I have a son. Which is weird. Next year, he’ll probably wake me at 5am, and dribble on me, and at about nine months old crawl all over the bed. He’ll probably smoosh my toast into the sheets. Also weird.

My very nice nieces bought me rattle toe socks for Gumby, and a gown with a hoodie. I think the hoodie is so if Gumby is a monkey baby I can go and steal someone else’s in hospital. Good planning.

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Hub in boots at least didn’t buy me a sympathy card, like he did one valentines day. He did find a mothers day card with a dog drinking out of the toilet. So romantic. And some cd’s…we’ve been rocking out to Jack White (of The White Stripes fame) new solo album in our pj’s this morning. Talking about bad Mother’s day stalls at primary school full of hideous craft, remembering picking out a ceramic ash tray for my mum, who never smoked.

Poor mum. I got her a good present this year though. At 82, her sixth grandchild!

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