Mother’s Day

This weekend has been tough.

I’ve catered for 14 people over two days. I have spent the entire weekend cleaning, cooking, baking, pouring wine, making cups of tea, shopping, wrapping (and giving) gifts and generally ensuring my mum and mother-in-law had a great Mother’s Day.

It’s been a good distraction. But everyone has gone home. The dining table has been cleared off. The dishwasher stacked. The kitchen has been cleaned. And now it’s just me, sitting on the sofa with a cup of tea and a cat cuddled up next to me while Husband irons his shirts ready for another working week.

It’s been three and a half years since I made the decision to become a mum. Three and a half years of appointments and invasive exams. Three and a half years of vitamins, unprotected sex, false hopes and disappointments.

I’ve lost count of the number of sticks I’ve peed on. Every time my period was more than half an hour late would induce a spike of cautious excitement. Of course three minutes later the crushing sadness brought me back down to earth.

Logging onto Facebook today was a massive mistake – all those posts by friends, school chums and cousins saying how much they love motherhood, how becoming a mum was the best thing they ever did, how perfect their child is and how much better life is now that they’re a mum have left me feeling fairly shit. And jealous. I’m so fucking jealous.

For the past six months I’ve been telling myself that it doesn’t matter if I don’t have a baby of my own. I have two sweet little nieces. Without kids Husband and I can travel, we can have an exceptionally neat and tidy home at all times and we won’t have to think about school fees. We can be selfish and do whatever we want, whenever we want.

But I do want to be a mum. And Husband wants to be a dad. After three and a half years of trying to conceive, I’ve come to the conclusion that it won’t happen.

That empty ache inside of me is never going to go away, is it?

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Baby Update

Official Baby Update from the Department of Fertilization and Micro Person Growing

Nope, not knocked up yet. 

End of Official Baby Update from the Department of Fertilization and Micro Person Growing

Unspecial

I’ve been glued to Twitter for the past couple of days. I’m not ashamed to admit it – I’ve been enthralled by the Royal Birth. I can’t explain why. I wasn’t this fascinated when the miracle of Kimye Junior was bestowed upon the world. Perhaps it’s because I’m a die-hard Monarchist? Perhaps it’s because I had a crush on Prince William for 3 weeks when I was 15? Perhaps there’s another reason I haven’t yet figured out yet? (My mind is a very cluttered place right now – seriously, a thought couldn’t move in there without bumping some dusty old memory off a table and breaking it.)

There has been a lot of talk (mainly from my Husband, the evil Republican who believes that Australia’s Head of State should be a president) that the Royal Baby is no more special than any other baby. I have to say, I kinda agree with him. (But not about the whole “Australian President” thing.)

Call me cold-hearted, unsentimental, uncaring or just really fucking weird – but I don’t think any baby or child is special. Special to their parents and loved ones, absolutely. But not special-special. (You know what I mean, don’t you?)

If Husband and I have a baby, I don’t expect it to be a huge event. I don’t expect to be showered with gifts. I don’t expect my own Twitter hashtag. I don’t actually expect anyone to care (apart from Husband, obviously). Having a baby is nothing special. It’s a biological function. It happens thousands of times a day in Australia.

I’ve been noticing, as more and more people I know have children, that many parents are trying to make their children special. Not just special to them, but special to everyone. A baby is no longer called by it’s name – it’s Princess Georgia or Prince Joshua. The baby gets its own (very expensive) photoshoot with its own designer wardrobe. (And don’t get me started on the quarterly professional photoshoots many children now get!) Birthday cakes are elaborate affairs involving at least six layers, two different kinds of frosting and a three-figure pricetag and the associated birthday party has its own party-planner. The child has a FaceBook page, a blog and a brand before it can even talk.

Why? Why are parents trying to make their children super-special? Is it a need for attention? A desire to be seen as being a better mum or dad than other parents they know? Maybe a need to have a child who is popular or perfect or both? Or is it simply to give their child a better childhood than they had? (And if that’s the case, I don’t think throwing more money at a child means they have a better childhood.)

If we have a baby, I don’t want the child to be special to anyone except those that love it and want it to be special to them. Perhaps I really am unsentimental or cold-hearted. Or perhaps pregnancy hormones haven’t kicked in and marinated my brain to the point where I believe my child will grow up to become a super-popular super-star super-special kid?

If kids are in our future, then we plan on giving our child a fairly normal (to us) childhood – I plan on baking unelaborate birthday cakes myself. I plan on us using our trusty old camera to capture the candid moments of our child’s life. I don’t plan on allowing them to have a FaceBook account until they are well into their teenage years. I definitely don’t have a logo and brand in mind for them.

Parental love and affection aside, a child is not special simply because they were born. A person becomes special by doing something special with their life.

**********************

PS: Did anyone else find the Duchess of Cambridge’s choice of frock as she left the hospital slightly eerie?

Breast Hate

Late last week when David Koch came out and said those silly remarks about women breastfeeding, I thought, “The guy is an outdated old twat,” and promptly ignored the whole thing.

The days that followed were interesting though. As more news articles, Twitter comments and FaceBook posts popped up, I couldn’t help but get sucked in and start reading. Frighteningly, the majority of people believe that women should remove themselves from the public eye to breastfeed, or at least cover themselves and the baby with a blanket to feed.

Here is a variety of reader comments from a selected news source for your reading pleasure:
“I have the right to object to a woman feeding her child next to me.” (Then they also have the right to squirt breastmilk at you.)
“Do these women get off on showing themselves in public?” (Uh, no.)
“Nudity in public is ILLEGAL! Why is breastfeeding exempt?” (Because they’re feeding a baby, not exposing themselves for your viewing pleasure.)
“Peeing is natural. Does this mean I have the right to pee in front of anyone?” (No you moron, peeing is the act of removing waste from your body. Urine contains bacteria and smells offensive. Breast milk is a nourishing substance and, as far as I’m aware, doesn’t smell or contain harmful bacteria.)
“How do we explain it to young children or teenagers in our care?” (“When a grown-up woman has a baby, her breasts fill with milk so she can feed the baby. Babies only like to drink milk, they can’t eat proper food.” Terribly difficult, isn’t it?)
“Having seen the photo of these women with babies and toddlers attached to their breasts was just foul.” (Your attitude is foul but we have to put up with it. Tit for tat…)
“Personally, I cannot help the fact it turns my stomach to see a child breastfeeding.” (Awww, diddums.)

Yep, this is what I’ve got to look forward to one day. Because one day I hope to have a baby, and I desperately hope that I can breastfeed that baby. These comments have made me really quite worried about having to breastfeed though. Am I really going to be subjected to that much hate? I don’t even have a baby and I’m already feeling ashamed at the thought of having to feed my child.

Anyway, after reading all of those gems and having the fear put into me, the questions began ticking over in my brain.

What happens if the baby and I are out and about and there are no parents rooms in sight? Do I have to cover with a blanket? What if it’s summer and it’s stiflingly hot? What happens if the baby doesn’t like being under a blanket? Do I just put up with a screaming baby or do I remove the blanket and risk offending everyone around me?

Then there’s the whole express-milk-into-a-bottle thing. Bottle-feeding breast milk would be a great alternative to the sort-of-but-not-really-exposed-boob problems, but I’m sure that I’ll then have a similar problem to a friend who bottle-fed her baby after her breast-milk dried up – she was told she was killing her baby by giving him formula. (People are great, aren’t they?) And then there’s the whole hygiene thing – does breast-milk go off? Does it keep well once out of its temperature controlled storage unit? Does it need to be refrigerated? Does it need to be heated up before feeding the baby? (I’ve got a shitload of stuff to learn before I have a baby, don’t I?)

So this is what I’ve learnt this weekend thanks to the twat, his big mouth and his legion of supporters: Unless I’m sunbathing topless on a beach, I should keep myself covered at all times. If there are no parents rooms at the shopping centre or zoo or park, then I should cover myself and the baby with a blanket. If I don’t want to do that, then I should stay at home where no one can see me and I can’t offend anyone. (And note to self: learn lots of stuff about motherhood.)

Baby Love….Or Not

I ran into my elderly neighbours this morning. They are an absolutely adorable couple. Mr M pops over whenever he needs help to send a text message and Mrs M always brings me over fruit that she’s grown.

This morning, they had their impossibly cute and squishy six-week-old granddaughter with them as they pottered about their front garden. I of course am addicted to babies so I went over for a chat (and to sniff the baby – which does make me sound a tad bit creepy. Sorry about that.) It turns out that their son and his wife have gone SKIING! FOR TWO WEEKS! IN SWITZERLAND! (What is it with that place anyway?)

Yes – you read correctly. The baby is six weeks old (nearly seven) and the parents have gone skiing. Now, I’ve never had a baby before (obviously) but I thought it took six weeks just to let wounds heal? But aren’t there muscles and stuff that take longer to heal? Would it actually physically be possible to ski six weeks after a c-section? (Yes, I do want to know – I’m dying of curiosity!) (And yes, I know for certain she had a c-sec.)

After talking with Mr and Mrs M for awhile (and I got to cuddle the baby – I think I ovulated twice in that time) it sounds like their daughter-in-law is the least maternal person around. Which made me a bit sad. I had suspected though – I mean what new mother would WANT to leave their baby for two weeks? And apparently she’s already thinking about booking a six week trip to Japan later this year.

Sans baby.

While her attitude bothers me (even though it shouldn’t – it’s nothing to do with me!) the thing that has made me a bit angry is the fact that Mr and Mrs M are well into their sixties. And Mrs M works 12 hours a day. And Mr M is recovering from a heart attack. And they have to look after a teeny, tiny, needy, crying newborn for two weeks.

Why would anyone think that it’s okay to leave a six-week-old baby with my neighbours?

Brave Face

Last weekend Husband and I went up to Bro-in-law and Fiance’s place for dinner with them before they flew out to Switzerland for their wedding day. It was just the four of us which was nice as I do really enjoy my Bro-in-laws company but he can get a bit boisterous with lots of people around so it was a rare opportunity to have a cohesive conversation with him.

Then came the revelation. I was helping Fiancé in the kitchen while the boys were outside playing with the barbeque. Two months ago she’d had an abortion. I was truthfully a bit shocked as I know both she and Bro-in-law want kids so I said as much to her. Then she said, “But if I’d been pregnant then I would’ve looked fat in my wedding dress.” I expected this to be a joke. It wasn’t  “I’d have been 14 weeks preggers on The Day and we wouldn’t be able to go diving on our honeymoon. Do you know you can’t dive when you’re pregnant? So I thought I’d better get rid of it and conceive on the honeymoon so it won’t be in the way.”

I can’t begin to describe how difficult it was to remain politely sympathetic.

Despite the fact that I’m pro-choice and people can abort for whatever reason they want in my book (because frankly, it’s none of my business), listening to the callous way she talked about terminating a pregnancy was really hard. Especially knowing that my obstetrician appointment is still months away.

I will admit that I had a bit of a cry when I got home that night. I wish that baby could’ve been transplanted into my uterus.

This year has been a tough one – for a variety of reasons but both Husband and I have been a bit sensitive on the baby side of things. We’ve been married for five years and have been constantly dealing with the “When are you having a baby?” questions. Over the past two years, there has been a baby-boom among our family and friends. In fact, when the first baby of the next generation was born into Husband’s family in January, the new mother (Husband’s cousin) proudly said, “I beat you!” when we walked into her hospital room. Husband and I were told we’d been “pipped at the post” by the brand new grandmother and told we’d better get a move on with the baby-making. This was one week after my most recent miscarriage.

Despite the pain (physical and emotional) I was in at the time, I remained chirpy and happy and gushy about the new baby, because that’s what being an adult is about – you put your brave face (and/or your big-girl pants) on and you don’t let your own problems get in the way of another person’s happiness. However, I (and Husband too) have struggling more and more dealing with the unintentionally upsetting (yet still unpleasant) questions of when are Husband and I going to give everyone a grandchild/great-grandchild. Just like my future sister-in-laws abortion, it’s no one else’s business. It just feels like no one else understands that it’s none of their business or seems to think that having a baby isn’t always straight-forward and their comments may be unwelcome or even hurtful.

I’m not going to hold the abortion against Bro-in-law and Fiancé – as I said, if people want to abort a child, then they can and the reason has nothing to do with me. To be honest, I’m annoyed with how much this has upset me. I guess when Husband and I have wanted a baby for so long and have not even been allowed to try to get pregnant, any baby seems too precious and too wonderful to be thrown away.

Obsessed?

I never really wrote a follow-up to these blog posts. (Read Yesterday / Forgetting).

I did that on purpose. I needed time to work things out myself and to let the wounds heal before I could write about it all.

So, what happened?

Well, Husband said some really horrible things. You knew that already. But I never said what it was exactly.

It included the following: “You’ve become obsessive about this whole baby thing!” and “I don’t care about you anymore.”

Ouch.

What hurt the most (after hearing that he didn’t care about me) is that is that I don’t think I have been obsessive. Choosing to have a baby is a huge decision and a long process. It’s not something we can just decide to do on a whim. So yes, I instigated a lot of discussions – I wanted us to be 100,000% sure that this is what we want because if we have a baby and decide that we don’t, then we can’t just take a baby back to the store or sell it 2nd hand. Parenthood doesn’t exactly work like that.

So I was instigating discussions on everything from parenting styles to names to my hopes for breastfeeding to the number of kids we thought we wanted to thoughts on discipline. I needed to be sure we were on the same page and didn’t have radically different ideas.

Just so we’re clear, this wasn’t an everyday occurrence. It wasn’t even an every week occurrence! That’s why it hurt when Husband told me that I was being obsessive. Yes, I wanted to talk about it because it’s a huge, momentous, life-changing decision!

He has since apologised (more than once) and said that he didn’t mean what he said. I know he didn’t – we were arguing and he just wanted to attack me. But the words still hurt. Stupidly, I’ve found it easier to forget about the “I don’t care about you” comment because he’s proven hundreds of times that he does care. It’s been harder to forget about the “obsessed” comment.

Since then, I haven’t talked at all about the possibility of us becoming parents and I haven’t made the decision to move the obstetrician appointment from April to an earlier time. While I don’t think that I was obsessing about babies and pregnancy, Husband may have been feeling a bit overwhelmed by it all to have said something like what he did.

This whole “obsessive” thing has made me wonder if perhaps we aren’t ready to be parents?

Our relationship hasn’t been very good this year – it’s been a pretty tumultuous year and Husband has been quite sick for a big chunk of it which I think has affected things. Plus we’ve had no free time – we seem to be working or renovating or gardening or doing yet another favour for a member of Husband’s family (which are never repaid). Quality time together has been almost non-existent and that needs to change pronto.

We’ve booked a holiday next month so we can get away from everything and everyone for a week. We really need this holiday to repair our marriage – we need to discuss everything that’s been going on lately, somewhere away from distractions and commitments. We need to talk about our marriage, our future and what we really want.

Like that old primary school sing-song: First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in the baby carriage. If babies need to be delayed in order for us to be happier and more secure, then so be it. Yes, I want a baby and I want to be a mother, but I want my marriage and my husband more.

Baby Update – August

As many of my Twitter friends will already be aware, I received my initial pre-conception appointment letter from King Edward Memorial Hospital this week. The appointment is scheduled for April 2013. (If you need to know why I need a pre-conception appointment, read this post.)

Needless to say that I was a little bit heartbroken. Husband was too. We’d made the decision that we wanted to have children earlier this year, so the pre-conception appointment will be 16 months after that decision. That is a bloody long wait before we can even begin to start trying to fall pregnant.

When I announced my disappointment on Twitter, a few unhelpful people told me it was my own stupid fault for not having private health insurance. Thing is, I do have private health insurance, it just doesn’t cover obstetrics or maternity as I was happy to give birth in a public hospital with a midwife in attendance. It didn’t even occur to me that I’d have pregnancy problems before I even got pregnant and that insurance covering obstetrics would’ve meant a shorter waiting period in exchange for a wad of cash.

So yeah, stupid me for not thinking that I’d have any problems going through the public health system. (Also stupid was the person who DM’ed me and said that a naturapath specialising in fertility could actually fix my uterus and make it change shape. That person received a big fat “block user”.)

However, I received an overwhelming amount of support from many tweeps – I can’t thank you guys enough – it made a very difficult situation easier to cope with. Some of these people have suggested I chat to my GP and talk about seeing an obstetrician or fertility specialist and paying my own way rather than going through the public health system.

I’m clinging to this little beacon of light and hope right now – I’m praying (despite not being a religious person in any way, shape or form!) that my GP will be able to help and point me in the right direction, even if it does leave us out of pocket. So I’ll be making an appointment with my GP in the coming weeks.

Since I got the news last week, I’ve felt very blue and very confused. Part of me is scared that even if I pay extra to see an obstetrician sooner, they won’t be able to fit me in or will refuse to see me. I also worry that I’ll get my hopes up about this appointment in April but will be told that I can’t have children. It may sound selfish and stupid, but a big part of me wants to start trying to get pregnant now, without a doctors input, and just live with whatever happy or sad consequences arise.

I just want a baby already.

Me and My Selfish Misery

I took a valium 15 minutes ago so excuse what could be a rambling post filled with whinging and lots of spelling errors and the occasional sentence which makes no sense whatsoever.

I’ve having a really hard time today, and I feel like an idiot admitting that.

I feel like a failure for needing to take a drug designed to stop my anxiety escalating. The prescription is old but thankfully in date. My lovely doctor gave it to me years ago when we found out that Husband had cancer and I emotionally crumbled way more than he did. The little yellow pills helped then and they’re helping again today.

That foggy drunken feeling is taking over now and I’m grateful for it. It hasn’t stopped me from having a good cry, but it has stopped the panic I could feel gripping my lungs and forcing all the air out of them.

I’m still waiting for Husband to make a decision on whether to go to the wedding of the century (which you can read about here, here and here) and the waiting is killing me. I feel desperate for an answer. Desperate in a way I never thought possible.

I know that soon an invitation will be in our letterbox with an RSVP date. I know that will force him to make a decision but for me, it’s not soon enough. I need his decision now – I need to know whether I can go into Operation Baby-Making or if I have to put this dream on hold for at least another year.

I feel so selfish and guilty and full of self-loathing for putting Husband in this situation. But there’s this part of my brain I can’t shut up – it’s telling me the maths. If I want at least three kids (with an approximate gap of two years between them) then I need to start trying to get pregnant a year ago in order to have them all by the time I turn 35 when chances of things like downs syndrome increase. I already know I will have a high-risk pregnancy and birth – after 35 the risks to me and any unborn baby will rise exponentially. I don’t want that – I want to minimize the risks and pray for a good outcome.

If I have to put Operation Baby-Making on hold, then I may only get to have one or two children – especially if it takes quite a while to fall pregnant and I have a couple of miscarriages (which is common with certain conditions I unfortunately have).

I talk to Husband about everything, but I feel like I can’t talk to him about this. I’m trying not to put pressure on him to make a decision about whether to go to the wedding or not. I’m trying not to talk about having babies even though it seems to come up in conversation a couple of times a week – usually just a throw-away comment by one of us about what we’d do in certain situations if we had kids.

I wish I could shut up my biological clock (which I never knew I had until a year or so ago). I wish I could be a better person and tell Husband to go to the wedding with my blessing. But I’m not a selfless person. I don’t want him to go – I want him to stay here and I want us to start trying to get pregnant. I know I’m being selfish. But I’m also downright fucking miserable here in limbo.

First Steps

Husband and I are thinking about trying for a baby later this year (or next, depending on the wedding of the century and whether we go or not – you can read about that whole issue here.) We’re unsure of when to start trying and figure that when the time is right, we’ll know.

So, in preparation for that time, I went to chat with my GP.

Firstly, I have to say that my GP is an awesome guy. Very kind, very gentle, very sweet. I have a teeny tiny crush on him to be honest. He’s still quite young and has a kind of Hugh Grant thing going on. But anyway…

I went to see him to chat babies. He seemed really pleased that this appointment was for a good reason and not just another, “I have gastro/sore foot/weeping sore,” appointment that I’m sure he usually gets.

Unfortunately, things weren’t quite as straight forward as “Go forth and procreate.”

Firstly, due a blood disorder (unusual but not rare, not life-threatening, not genetic, just a weird quirk of nature), I may need to take aspirin once I become pregnant. He’s going to seek advice on that so the information is with him when I need it.

Secondly, I’ve got some blood tests to get done to test my immunity against chicken pox and German measles. Despite having the MMR jab when I was 12, I apparently may not be immune and could need a booster jab. Great – I’ll look forward to that!

Then we chatted about my uterus. You see, I have a slightly complicated one. It sits slightly further back in my abdomen than it should and is a tad lopsided but anatomically normal in terms of fallopian tubes and stuff. This was found during an ultrasound years ago. My lovely GP was unable to tell me whether or not this could cause problems. He thinks not, but when I got back for my blood test results, he’ll give me a referral to an obstetrician who’ll be able to tell me for certain whether or not I can have a normal pregnancy.

That scared me a little. What if I can’t have a normal pregnancy? Can I have an abnormal pregnancy? What IS an abnormal pregnancy? Can I get pregnant at all? Cue mild panic attack while pretending that I’m taking all this in my stride in a clinical white office.

GP thinks that my uterus shouldn’t cause any problems and will move forward of its own accord during pregnancy and everything will most likely be fine. But he can’t be 100% certain. He says that the obstetrician will probably want a closely monitored pregnancy and there’s a chance that there could be issues with delivery, ie: I’ll need a caesarean.

I’m not even pregnant yet, but I never pictured myself having a c-sec. My plan was to be one of those women who has a vaginal birth with as little interference as possible. And to be honest, I expected to be at least half-way through labour before my birth plan would be chucked out the nearest window!

Anyway, there you have it – my body may not be built for giving birth. Sucky. But apart from the potential need for aspirin and a wonky uterus, my GP reassures me that everything will be okay. So why is there this niggle of fear that won’t go away?