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

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.

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.

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.”

Wedding Over

It’s over. The wedding of the century has been and gone. Boxing Day was D-Day. Unfortunately, the event was Skyped and I missed out on time with my family to watch Sister-in-law float down the aisle like a marshmallow. (For those interested, the dress didn’t suit her – she’s got a banging body but looked swamped in acres of fabric. However the church was lovely and it was snowing outside.)

As expected, Husband and I are out-of-pocket $4000. Not because one of us went to the wedding, but because my parents-in-law ended up having to take out a loan so they could lend Bro-in-law money to pay for the extravaganza.

My parents-in-law do it tough, financially speaking. The bigger banks refused to lend them the money so they went with a smaller lender who was charging an extortionate interest rate. As soon as Husband and I found out about the loan, we wrote them a cheque so they could pay it out. The in-laws were going to spend nearly double the amount in interest – they just can’t afford it and we weren’t going to stand by and watch them live on noodles and vegemite sandwiches for the next three years. (At this point, I’d like to point out that Bro-in-law was going to pay them back the $4000, but not the interest.)

I don’t expect to see that money ever again. Yes, I know – we could’ve just left it up to the parents-in-law and Bro-in-law to figure out, but if you knew how tightly my parents-in-law have to budget just to get by, then I think you’d understand. We did it for them, not Bro- and Sis-in-law.

The worst thing is that apparently Sis-in-law has a lot of spare time on her hands now that she’s on honeymoon on a beach somewhere expensive and tropical. She’s spent a lot of time on FaceBook talking about how her and Bro-in-law now need to upgrade their house to a four-bedroom, two-bathroom place and also upgrade their car to a family-sized SUV.

Yep – family. I honestly don’t know if she’s pregnant again or just hoping to be. The amount of times she’s said the word “family” followed by a winky face over the past few days is making me think about turning off all forms of technology and becoming a hermit.

The only good thing about the money situation is that I married a tight-arse – Husband will be nagging them to start paying back the money they owe us as soon as they get back to Australia. I know Bro-in-law will want to pay it back. Whether Sis-in-law will let him is another matter entirely. I’m going to enjoy watching her squirm uncomfortably each time Husband mentions it though.

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.

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.