An Open Letter To Prime Minister Gillard

Dear Ms Gillard

I’ve never written to a politician before. I don’t really know much about politics so forgive me is anything I say is a little too simplistic.

I’m worried.

I’m worried that you don’t have much time left as Prime Minister. Which is a shame, because I think you’re pretty awesome (despite the fact that I don’t agree with all of your policies). I think you’re strong, I think you’re determined and I think you’re gutsy.

But there are changes that need to happen in Australia. Changes which I fear will not happen if you don’t win the next election.

We need equal rights for all Australians.

This includes allowing same-sex marriage and allowing same-sex couples to adopt children (which is only legal in some of Australia’s states and territories).

Australians want same-sex couples to have the same rights as everyone else. I believe you can do something to make this happen. Stand up for your people! Do something memorable! Do something which will make people remember who you are and what great things you did when you were Prime Minister!

We all know an Abbott-led government will not allow same-sex couples these rights so if something doesn’t change soon, then who knows when it will change.

I do not believe in discrimination. Surely allowing one part of our Australian population to marry and adopt and telling the other part “Too bad” because of their sexual preference is discrimination? There will always be hateful people who say that allowing gay people to marry and adopt children will ruin the institution of marriage and family values, but I don’t believe that allowing more love into our communities is a bad thing.

Ms Gillard, please make the necessary law changes and let this happen soon, before your chance is gone.

Yours sincerely
PerthWife

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Just Be

It’s official – Husband and I have decided to try to have a baby.

We are both thrilled and excited and shit-scared at the same time – we both have no idea how to look after a tiny little baby who will change life as we know it and depend on us for everything. Every now and then, when we’re cooking dinner or pulling weeds out of the cracked concrete which (unfortunately) covers our front garden, one of us will say to the other, “So we’re actually doing this?” The other nods and then we both laugh.

It’s surreal to think I might get the chance to grow another human being inside my own body.

Now, rest assured I won’t be taking my temperature in the hopes of conceiving in the first month. It doesn’t bother us if it takes a while to conceive. Now that we know everything that could possibly go wrong, we feel we can take things at our pace, rather than one dictated to us by the public health system.

Since we received the obstetrician’s last letter, it took a few days for the results and prognosis to sink in. A 35% chance of having a healthy pregnancy followed by a healthy baby is frighteningly low. But it’s not 0%. We have a one-in-three chance of getting what we want.

Some things are worth the risk.

We have not discussed if we want all of the screening tests done during pregnancy or what to do if we find out if the baby has severe medical complications. We will discuss those things eventually. Because that’s what Husband and I do – we talk about things until we’re blue in the face.

I also want to organize a will – just in case.

But not yet. For now, I just want to enjoy this time in my life and not think about the things that can go wrong. I don’t want fear and anxiety to infect what should be a happy and (relatively) carefree time in our life.

I just want to be. Be present. Be quiet. Be still. Be silent. Be happy. Be in love.

Just be.

The Results

It’s been a hugely emotional week. On the weekend I was very, very blue – the fact that I STILL hadn’t received the results of my ultrasound was on my mind. It also marked 18 months since I came to the realization that I wanted to become a mother. 18 very long months of discussions with Husband, discussions with my GP and then that agonizing wait for an appointment with an obstetrician. It felt like my life was on hold and it was really getting me down.

But today, the letter came with the results of my ultrasound.

It states exactly what I already knew – that my uterus is wonky. (There is a technical term that was used, but to me, it’s just wonky and lopsided). The obstetrician is confident that if I can remain pregnant until the 16 week mark, then the rest of my pregnancy should be okay (if you don’t take into account the blood gene mutations.) However, the first 16 weeks will be touch-and-go.

She also embellished on the blood test results. Apparently one of those mutations (the one that causes neural tube defects, Down’s Syndrome, cancer, etc.) means I’m going to have to take 5mg (that’s 10 times the dose usually recommended to pregnant women) of folic acid during pregnancy and a low dose for the rest of my life.

At the end of the letter are the words, “I have not made any further appointments.”

The obstetrician does not need to see me again until I’m actually pregnant. The wait for an answer is over. We can officially start trying to have a baby.

So there are the answers in black and white in a crumpled letter from King Edward. I’m super-duper extremely high-risk. There’s a large chance of having a baby with a neural tube defect or Down’s Syndrome. I have a very high likelihood of recurrent miscarriage during the first 16 weeks.

Despite the rather confronting results, I’m actually very relieved to have ANY results. I feel like I now know this pregnancy road is going to be long and bumpy with no guarantee of a healthy baby at the end of it. But at least I know. I can plan. I can prepare myself. I can come to terms with it. And I can work at not getting my hopes up in case I do get pregnant, because the chance of a normal healthy pregnancy with a normal healthy baby at the end of it is down around the 35% mark.

I’m going to have to work at the whole “not getting my hopes up” thing if I get pregnant, but right now – with all the cards on the table and knowing the risks – I’m okay.

Hell Is Made Of Concrete

Husband and I have been talking a lot about our future lately. I suppose it’s been kick-started by the whole “getting pregnant” fiasco (which is still ongoing). But this particular discussion has been a good distraction to the can-we-can’t-we-have-babies talk that has been hanging about for over a year now.

It’s to do with our living arrangement. The house we live in isn’t a very nice house. When we purchased it, we were filled with enthusiasm about how we’d re-landscape the backyard, rip out the kitchen and replace it with something sleek, burn the avocado-coloured bathroom suite and put in something white. And whilst we’ve been working on this house for years (and throwing money at it which just seems to disappear) it still looks pretty crap.

It’s one of those live-and-learn situations – I now know that I never want to renovate a house again. I don’t have the skills, patience or energy. Husband agrees with me – he’s completely over living in a house which isn’t what we want, doesn’t suit the way we live and is not a place we want to stay for the long-term.

So we’ve been talking. A lot. About money, about what we really want in terms of a house, about long-term life plans. What we really want is to build a house – we’re tired of cleaning up someone else’s mistakes, dealing with someone else’s shoddy workmanship and living in a house which has only a teeny tiny bath and no cupboards. Yes, we’re lucky – we could afford to buy a house in the first place. I know that, and this house could be a nice home for somebody. But it’s not for us. Just like skinny jeans, smoked salmon and pine furniture – it’s not to our taste.

Our current options are to buy land, build a house and sell our current place ; get in professionals to completely overhaul our current house, extend a little and put some windows in so we don’t feel like we’re living in a dark cave ; or do a few more minor changes ourselves, get this house up to a standard that’s liveable, then save like crazy over the next 5-8 years and try and pay as much of this mortgage off as possible.

Option one – the buy land/build house now would be great. As close to instant gratification as you can get when it comes to building a house. We have always wanted to build our own house – one we can raise our children in and stay in for 25 years. (Yes, it’s entirely selfish and materialistic to want to build a nice house so don’t feel you have to point that out in the comments.) But building within the next year or two would push us financially. It would also mean a lot of compromises – the things we want (such as a lovely big kitchen) would probably end up being small and made of ugly laminate rather than quality materials which would last 25 years.

Option two – getting professionals in to renovate our existing house and make it less like a 1970s cave – could potentially be more expensive than building. And the stupid stubborn council will most likely say “No” to any major structural changes. And we’d still be left with things like a front yard full of concrete (seriously, who puts CONCRETE over their entire front yard?), a backyard with a really massive shed which we’re struggling to remove because THERE’S ONE-FOOT-DEEP CONCRETE UNDER IT and another few dozen other little things which bug us. (Mostly to do with concrete. Oh, and beige window frames – hate those!) We worry that renovating will make this a nice(ish) house but it still won’t be the kind of house we’d love.

Option three – waiting 5-8 years to pay off as much of our current mortgage as possible then buying land and building the house we want is not quite the instant gratification route. But we’d be better off financially. (Probably.) This is most likely the path we’ll take – we’ll do a few more minor things to this house such as build some storage, replace the broken doors and possibly pull up the concrete in the front yard, then we’ll just sit back and save our pennies.

Yes, as I’ve stated above, wanting a nice new house is selfish and materialistic and I know I’m going to get a lot of comments bashing me because of that. But you know what, my blog, my thoughts. I’m not going to apologize for wanting a nice house. (Just as other people shouldn’t apologize for wanting dozens of pairs of designer shoes, sixteen children, seven useless university degrees or anything else that their heart desires – unless, of course, it is illegal.) I know a house won’t make me happy. But renovating isn’t making me happy – neither is tripping over the Christmas tree box to get to the box where we store our linen (because we have no cupboards so it has to live in a box) and having no natural light in the house. (There are more patios (concreted in, of course) than there is house!) A nice house with natural light, ample storage and that is easy to keep clean would make me happy.

********

PS: For those of you curious as to what we think a nice house is: three bedrooms, one bathroom (with a big deep bath), one living room, a big kitchen/meals area, a laundry (a necessary evil), lots of storage and lots of light. We definitely don’t want a living room, family room, theatre, study, office AND activity room that most new builds in Perth seem to have these days. Most importantly, we’d like a large garden for our children to run about and play in. Perhaps that makes us old-fashioned (as well as materialistic?)

 

Ultrasound Day

My ultrasound was yesterday. It was not fun. Firstly, I had to drink 600ml of water an hour before my appointment.

Mistake #1 – drinking 600ml of water.

Mistake #2 – drinking it an hour before my scheduled appointment.

Whilst 600 millilitres of water may not sound like a lot, when you aren’t allowed to wee it out it can get quite uncomfortable – even painful as the bladder stretches. When I was initially scanned, the sonographer couldn’t see a thing because my bladder was too full and obscured everything. Apparently well-hydrated people (which include me) should only drink 250ml of water. That would’ve been great to know earlier….

My appointment was at 9:30. I was required to drink my water at 8:30. So I did. And then the KEMH ultrasound department ran late. Very, very late. I was scanned at 10:45. I nearly cried in the waiting room – the combination of pain from my bladder, the stress of having to have this done, the screaming babies in the waiting room, watching people who came in after me get scanned before me and the fear that if I had a wee then I would be told there wasn’t enough water in my bladder for a proper scan and I would have to wait another 7 weeks for an appointment was all just too much for my tiny brain to cope with.

I got a bit crabby with Husband whilst we were waiting. (The poor bugger.) And Husband got crabby with the ladies on reception who kept telling him it wasn’t their fault the hospital scheduled too many patients for the number of sonographers they had. (And whilst we were waiting, one sonographer had a visit from her sister and disappeared for an hour, another staff member would pick up files, move then two metres down a corridor and then five minutes later move them back again and two more stood in the hallway and had a loud giggly conversation for 25 minutes.) Normally that sort of thing would be a tad annoying; in the state I was in, I wanted to throw something at them. Or wee on them.

The scan itself went okay – the external ultrasound was more uncomfortable then the internal one because the sonographer had to put pressure on my abdomen during the external. (But then they sent me for a wee before doing the internal one. I think it was the most satisfying wee of my life.)

The scan shows my uterus is misshapen – smaller on one side and larger on the other. There was also an “abnormal shadow” which didn’t sound positive. The pictures will get reviewed by someone higher up the radiography food chain before being passed on to my obstetrician. I’ll have to wait for a letter from my OB before I know if my uterus will cause any problems to a pregnancy or if the “shadow” is anything sinister.

I’m glad it’s over and done with, although I feel very mentally tired and weary. I was incredibly stressed all weekend and was worried about the scan – I’ve not been sleeping well and the tension I’ve been carrying around with me has left me with headaches and muscle aches in my shoulders and neck.

I think I need to learn how to relax….

High Risk

I know, I’ve been away for awhile.

At first, I was taking time away from technology. Living life without worrying about blogging, moderating comments and interacting on Twitter. It was a nice break.

Then last week I got a letter in the mail from King Edward (that’s the main maternity and women’s health hospital in WA for those not living here) and I feel like I needed to share.

My obstetrician wrote to tell me that something abnormal was found in the blood test I had back in January.

I have a mutation. Two genes apparently got fucked up when I was conceived. This mutation was found in the blood test after the OB started asking questions about my uterus and periods and decided that something didn’t sound right to her.

This mutation will mean daily injections and an increased risk of having a baby with Down’s Syndrome, neural tube defects (an abnormality in the brain or spine including things like spina bifida), certain types of cancers and anencephaly (a birth defect where the brain and skull don’t form properly) among other horrible sounding things.

I am at risk of pre-eclampsia, placental abruption, recurrent pregnancy loss and giving birth to a small low-weight baby. I’m also at risk of developing certain types of cancers, blood clots and, when I’m older, dementia.

My chance of miscarriage throughout the nine months could be as high as 40%. The risk of a neural tube defect is 20%. I am officially deemed “High risk” when it comes to pregnancy.

To be honest, the news hasn’t really sunk in yet. I know these are all bad words, yet I somehow feel a bit disjointed from it. I look at those words and feel a bit confused and a little breathless. Then my brain pushes them to one side and I start thinking about what I have to cook for dinner or when I should go to the post office.

I don’t know if this changes things or not. The thought processor in my brain is broken.

The Talk

Husband and I had The Talk last night. You know, the kind of Talk where you start out with a tentative, “Hey…” and hope something that doesn’t sound too horrible pops into your brain and flows out of your mouth.

So there I was, poised on the edge of the sofa, Husband staring at me with knife in hand (he was washing the dishes – I get the feeling that’s important to point out, he wasn’t just waving it about for no reason) and me having just said, “Hey…” and looking a tad sheepish as I tried to find the right words to say. The ideal way to start would’ve been, “I love you, but…” but that just sounds like, “I’m not racist, but…” followed by the speaker then erupting with some vile comment about how Australia is “full”. I do love him – there is no but. (Although he has a very nice butt.)

Anyway, I took a sip of water, cleared my throat, gave the cat a pat, threw the dog’s ball for him and hoped inspiration would strike. Meanwhile, Husband is still staring at me with a glass in his hands (enough time had lapsed for him to dry and put away the knife) and I was looking more and more like a deranged person as I thought so hard of what to say next, the cells in my brain were dying.

Then it occurred to me. Just like every other time we’ve had this Talk, there is no easy way to say what needs to be said. So I just blurted it out in the disguise of a question, which was really a statement.

“We’re not doing Valentine’s Day this year, are we?”

“Fuck no!” he replied. “Unless you’ve suddenly decided that after nearly a decade of us avoiding Valentine’s Day like the plague, you’re into that sort of thing. Then I’d better buy you a present and book a restaurant for dinner.” He was beginning to look a little bit panicked by now. I worried that the glass he was drying would shatter in his hands.

“Fuck no,” was my rather elegant reply. “It’s not that I don’t love you, but…” (there’s that awful phrase!) “…the whole day is a gushy, nauseating pile of nonsense.” He nodded enthusiastically, like he does every year when we have this exact same conversation.

You see, Husband and I aren’t really super romantic. Romance for me is him secretly ordering something from The Book Depository and presenting it to me on any ordinary Wednesday. Or buying me a packet of chocolate-coated Scotch Fingers when I get my period and feel like dying. Or running me a bath one evening whilst he does his own ironing. For him, it’s me wearing a low-cut top and a fancy bra so he can stare at my boobs when we go out to dinner. (Guys can be really quite simple creatures sometimes, can’t they?) Or spending a week cooking his five favourite dinners for no reason other than because I can. (And let’s face it, steak and chips with chilli salt isn’t exactly taxing.)

So I guess we have our own style of romance – a more sedate kind. I don’t need red roses, a box of chocolates and a fancy dinner on a pre-determined day. A book and a packet of biscuits will do me just fine.

However, after we had that V-Day conversation, we decided that we should enthusiastically celebrate Shrove Tuesday. Pancakes suit us so much better than mushy stuff.

Public Service Announcement #1: How To Refer To A Woman In A Written Or Verbal Context

I am not a bitch, tart, bunny boiler, gold digger, princess, ditz, prude, bimbo, slut, diva, hoe, broad, trollop, butterface, fag hag, cunt, whore, skank or feminazi.

I was a girl but now I am a woman. Sometimes I behave like a lady. My gender is female. I am a wife, sister, daughter, cousin, niece, granddaughter, friend, neighbour, tweep and blogger. I have a first name, a middle name, a last name, a blogger name and a Twitter handle.

You can call me anything in the second paragraph. The first paragraph is not a sentence full of synonyms for any of the words in the second paragraph. It is just a bunch of words said by someone with a limited vocabulary. They do not apply to me.

It is not acceptable for men to call women derogatory names. (And it goes both ways – I don’t believe women should call men derogatory names either.) I don’t know about you, but I’ve been called a feminazi for calling out misogyny; I’ve been called a slut for (shock horror!) talking to a man who wasn’t my husband; I’ve been called a gold digger for daring to marry a man who was earning more money than me.

I’m willing to bet my Husband that I’m not the only person who has experienced this name-calling for behaving in a normal, fair and friendly manner (or for marrying a man I love).

The frightening thing is that half of the name calling that goes on (in my experience) is woman to woman.

What happened to the Sisterhood? What happened to sticking up for each other? I’m not saying that just because we all have a vagina we have to be best friends who agree about everything and sing Kumbaya around a campfire (there are fire bans in place, so that wouldn’t work right now anyway), but surely if we want to stand up against men putting us down and engaging in misogynistic behaviour, then we need to present some kind of a united front.

If you think a person (male or female) is behaving in a pretty crap way, then call them out on that behaviour – don’t just call them a bitch or a slut or some other nasty name. We have the entire English language (and for many people – a whole second or third language as well!) at our disposal. Let’s use it! It’s full of awesome words!

So ladies – it starts with us. If we want men to stop calling us horrid names, then perhaps we need to stop calling each other horrid names. Let’s lead by example and stop the hateful name-calling towards women and men.

Pre-Conception Appointment #1

After months (and months, and months!) of waiting I finally managed to get a pre-conception appointment at King Edward Memorial Hospital three months earlier than my scheduled appointment in April!!! (Many, MANY thanks to the woman who got pregnant and didn’t need her own pre-conception appointment!)

I’d been stressing about it all week and half-expected King Edward to cancel again but they didn’t. So on Thursday morning, Husband and I went along and sat in some very uncomfortable chairs in a very boring waiting room. The obstetrician was only an hour and a half late for my appointment – surely that’s some kind of record within the public health system?

The OB was nice and we went through 3 million questions about my dodgy uterus, my previous miscarriages, my family health history (quite colourful), Husband’s family health history (quite bland in comparison) and a few other things I never thought would even be relevant.

Then it came down to “Can we start trying for a baby?”

The answer was, emphatically, no.

First, I had to have an internal exam. Right then and there. Which was fun. There were two hands up me (thankfully not at the same time) which was rather unpleasant, not to mention quite painful. I think it was a bit of a shock to Husband who didn’t realize how brutal doctors can sometimes be with “having a feel” of things down that way.

Then the OB said that an internal ultrasound would be needed. Great. Although apparently it’s more comfortable than holding 3 litres of water in my bladder and having an external ultrasound so that’s fine by me.

That test is scheduled for mid-March. The day happens to coincide with my period. Wonderful. Hopefully that’s not a problem for them and will only be a little bit mortifying for me. We won’t be able to start trying for a baby before I get the results of that, plus the OB insisted that I must be taking pregnancy vitamins/horse capsules and abstaining from alcohol for at least 3 months before we throw away the box of condoms.

Before we left the hospital, I had to get what felt like a litre of blood drained from me (it took them three attempts to hit a vein – excellent) and I was very proud that Husband didn’t pass out (he’s frightened of needles) because I needed him to keep me sitting upright after I nearly passed out (I hadn’t eaten much breakfast that day because of the nerves – stupid me).

So I’m still clueless as to whether or not having babies is in my future. I’m a little disappointed that we didn’t get an immediate answer, although I was prepared for a few tests before knowing one way or the other.

But I must admit, there had been this teeny tiny part of me that was hoping we’d walk in there and the OB would say, “Go forth and procreate. Everything will be rosy.”

Secret Shame

We all carry some secret shame around with us. Whether it’s a celebrity you find gross when everyone else drools over him or a popular food you hate – we all have at least ONE THING that we won’t admit to anyone.

These are mine:

–          I hate blueberries. With a passion. Those little bastards destroy everything from fruit salad, to cereal, to tarts, cakes and muffins. I hate them. They belong in hell with swedes (the vegetable, not the people from Sweden).

–          I don’t understand why everyone adores Betty White. I just don’t get it….

–          When people talk about Japanese food, I don’t understand most of the words.  (Don’t get me wrong, I like to eat Japanese food, I just don’t have a clue what’s IN it.)

–          I don’t like Ryan Gosling. What’s so special about him?

–          I listen to Delta Goodrem. A lot. I have a teeny tiny girl-crush on her.

–          My favourite vegetables are Brussels sprouts.

–          I used to write fan fiction (in my teenage days) which was published online. And I was quite good at it too.

–          I don’t know why people like those La-Z-Boy chairs. They’re ugly and destroy the aesthetics of perfectly lovely living rooms.

–          The inclusion of mayonnaise in a toasted sandwich (or anywhere it gets warm/hot) is enough to give me palpitations. It freaks me out and I can’t explain why. (Just another “rule” in my complicated and boring set of food rules.)

–          I’m a hippy when it comes to body hair maintenance. The pain of ingrown hairs is just not worth it. (The only spot I regularly shave (with no problems at all) is under my arms.)

–          I didn’t realize dominoes was a game until I was 22. I just thought they were blocks you lined up and knocked over.

What’s your secret shame? Did you not know Harry Potter was a book before it was a film? Are you a One Direction fan? Do you secretly adore tartan underwear? Share in the comments (anonymously if you’d prefer). This is a safe place – nasty or mocking comments will be deleted, not approved.