A birthday, and a goodbye.

My baby is one year old and my heart is full. A balloon of joy swells up in my chest and bursts. Not every so often, but constantly, always. When I am with her, when I thinking of her, when I am talking about her, when I am watching her sleeping …

My life is full, too. Mr Bun and I are racing, racing – juggling and tap dancing through a weekly circus of two very demanding jobs, the insanity of this property market, our marriage, our families, ourselves. It is all going by so, so fast. We are breathless. But we are happy.

Today is my daughter’s first birthday. It’s my 100th blog post. It is time to say goodbye.

I have squeezed so much pleasure out of this blog, which is wondrous considering it was borne from a place of pain. Infertility hollowed me out. It was a physical battle, but the scars are emotional. While driving last week I happened to looked right instead of left – and out popped a memory. A curve of road, a traffic light: there I had been, wailing at the steering wheel as I left behind another negative beta. Oh, that pain. The pain of wanting something so very badly. I remember every aching minute.

I am not a closed person, and have been open about what we went through … but no-one knew, no-one knew like you did. I have relished the luxury of not having to explain anything. But equally, you listened to the detail I sometimes felt compelled to go into. This place allowed me to open up all of that.

Thank you. For your support, and your curiosity, your advice … your humour! This age that we live in is truly miraculous, allowing us to build these extraordinary communities from all around the world.

When I first discovered the world of infertility blogs, I fell upon page after page, seeking out stories that mirrored mine. Some sites I found were years old, many had stopped writing altogether. Most, though, had stuck around long enough to reveal that they had finally become mothers. This gave me hope like nothing else. I like to think that maybe I’ve done that for someone out there.

I will miss this space, particularly as a kick-up-the-bum to write – because I don’t get to do that so much any more. I dunno, I may drop back and regale you with more minutiae … or maybe create somewhere new? But for now I think it’s a good time to sign off.

Life is a matter of contrast, and I’m sure there will be dark days ahead … but there will be light ones as well.

Right now?

Now – my baby is one year old and my heart is full.

Sending you all love, and luck, and happiness so pure that it makes you float.

x

New Blog, Old Blog

So, the question many infertility blogsters ask themselves when they’ve been lucky enough to tick over into motherhood land – what to do with the blog?

As many have questioned, just as many have written posts about it. I’ve wondered absentmindedly over the past few weeks what – if anything – I’ll do. And my thought is: not much. The non-sleep deprived (and therefore, observant) of you will note I’ve tweaked the title and I may add a few more links in … but that’s about it.

When I was preggers I did think that maybe the blogging would stop. I found this medium and its community to be infinitely helpful during those terribly painful IVF times. Would the ‘happy ending’ of a baby make this blog redundant? Yet since Little Bun has made it into the world I’ve found myself turning to the computer more and more.

It’s an outlet. As before, I find this a form of release that allows me to vent, share, worry and laugh. And in a time when I am missing work and the identity it brought with it, this is something that lets me use my brain.

I stopped reading post-baby blogs when I was still trying for mine. Their pages were filled with things I couldn’t connect with. This wasn’t done with anger, or sadness – I just felt a lack of connection with the content. So I understand if there are those of you out there who are drifting away as posts about nipples and sleep schedules invade the screen. I’ll still be reading your words – sending you love and support and advice from the other side. Hoping very much that you get what you want.

And there may be new friends, those who are going through the new challenges we’re facing: the exhaustion, the monotony, the terrified joy of getting what you wished for.

Hello. Goodbye. Welcome! Thank you!

x

The Bunless Birth Story

OK. Two things:

1 – This newborn baby thing is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

2 – Here is my Birth Story. I am typing this with an overtired Little Bun sleeping on my chest. It’s been a bad day. She’s been crying nonstop, and I’ve been … well, trying (failing) to calm her. So, the chest it is. But anyway – the In Laws have left and I have some ‘time’ to get this down.

It’ll be a long ‘un, so the abridged version is here: I gave birth. It hurt. But we got a beautiful baby girl. The end.

OK – here goes!

– – – –

Cast your mind, dear reader, to four weeks ago.

WEDNESDAY NIGHT – 40w6d

Mr Bun and I headed into hospital for my first dose of P.rostin gel. As you may remember, this was with the aim of getting things started, ahead of Dr Spock breaking my waters and commencing the induction proper on Thursday morning.

My cervix was still so high and closed that the insertion of the gel hurt LIKE A MOTHER. We were sent home and told to come in if anything happened. I woke up the next morning with nary a niggle down below … little did I know that would be my last solid(ish) night’s sleep in – well – ever.

THURSDAY MORNING – 41w

We had been told to come in again Thursday morning, regardless of anything happening or not, so off we went, bags in tow – expecting this to be it. On examining me, Dr Spock said there’d been so little movement that she wasn’t that comfortable progressing into a fully fledged induction. I was relieved to hear this, as I was beginning to worry about forcing things too fast. So, we agreed that she’d give me a second, slightly larger dose of the P.rostin. We’d wait a full 24 hours and if there was still no change, she’d progress with the induction on Friday morning.

This second dose of P.rostin was administered with the help of N.itrous Oxide (Gas, or Gas and Air). I lay there at nine in the morning laughing my arse off while Mr Bun, Dr Spock and a midwife looked on in amusement. It was not my most sophisticated moment …

Mr Bun had already taken Thursday off work in expectation of that being our ‘induction day’, so we headed home together to wait. We even discussed going to see a film, but by the time we arrived home the P.rostin Pains had really kicked in. These were just like bad period cramps, and I had to take some heavy-duty painkillers to dull them. It was so weird having ‘cramps’ again after nine months. I swear I got a touch of PTSD-like flashbacks, in feeling like my period was about to arrive … I kept having to remind myself I was 41 weeks pregnant. A few times, Mr Bun asked if I was having contractions – but these were constant cramps that responded to painkillers. So, in a word, no.

THURSDAY NIGHT

Resigning ourselves to a full induction the next morning, and toasting our last night as a family of two, we sat down to takeaway and a DVD. As the opening credits rolled, I felt a swift and firm ‘kick’ down low in my nether regions. Almost immediately, there was a POP and my waters broke bigtime! Being the practical lass I am (ahem) I swiftly moved off the couch/rug/any stain-able soft furnshings and onto the wooden floorboards.

Me – ‘Woah! WOAH!’

Mr Bun – ‘What! What!’

Me – ‘My waters JUST BROKE!!!’

Mr Bun – … !!!

Me – ‘GET A TOWEL!’ (See? Practical)

We called the Maternity Ward and even though I was having zero contractions, they told us to come in. We piled the car up with bags and made the third trip in two days to the hospital. They examined me, confirmed my waters had broken (duh) and asked us what we wanted to do. We could hang out in the labour ward, use up one of our four allocated nights (it was 10.30pm, so counted as a first night) and wait for contractions to begin – or head home, try and get some sleep, and come in when contractions had started. It seemed a no-brainer. We got back in the car, and made the now very familiar drive home.

And – you guessed it – my contractions began. They were crampy-like, down deep (I believe they call it perineal pain!?) and within half an hour were coming every 2-3 minutes, lasting 45 seconds. It was intense, and it wasn’t long before I was doubled over the kitchen table having a good old holler. It was time to go back to the hospital. For the fourth time.

THURSDAY NIGHT/FRIDAY MORNING

The drive to the hospital was one of those surreal, out-of-body experiences where you’re living something you’ve imagined so. many. times. I was bellowing over speed bumps and bracing myself on the roof of the car. I couldn’t make it across the footpath until a contraction had passed, and had to stop again – doubled over and moaning – outside the lift. We arrived in the delivery suite and Mr Bun asked where we should set up our TENS machine. The midwife looked at me, and gently said, ‘It’s a little late for that, love’.

With the help of gas and a shot of p.ethadine, Mr Bun and I worked through the contractions together. While things were progressing really quickly, and the pain was intense – I felt in control of my labour. Mr Bun was AMAZEBALLS, and really helped me work through each peak and trough of pain.

Around 3am Dr Spock came in and announced I’d gone from 3cm to 10cm in a few hours (woah). And that, being fully dilated, I’d be soon be getting the urge to push and the baby would be not far away. The contractions had peaked, she said. While I had been gently suggesting (ie. starting to shout) for an e.pidural, this news changed things. I felt calm. In control. I could do one more hour – sure I could!  We agreed to a top-up of p.ethadine and got ready for Baby Time. Labour is easy, people. I am a birthing legend. Bring on the champagne and streamers!

This did not happen.

This did: bad things. Painful, sobbing, begging-my-husband-to-help-me-please things. I did not get an urge to push. The baby was not moving anywhere. The contractions were getting worse. And the ANAESTHETIST AND DR SPOCK HAD BOTH BEEN CALLED AWAY TO ANOTHER LABOUR. Endless minutes passed. Time slowed. Mr Bun looked stricken. It was a shit way to spend the early hours of a Friday.

Dr Spock eventually reappeared and immediately approved the goddamn epidural, and then broke the news that the anaesthetist was still an hour away. The ensuing 60 minutes were the toughest of the labour.

When the epidural finally did arrive it was incredible – obviously. It’s amazing that you can go from 100km/h to 0 in just 15 minutes. Drugs are GREAT.

I had a little sleep, and then we got down to business. The actual birth of Little Bun was the most peaceful, beautiful thing. Our favourite music played. Mr Bun and Dr Spock chatted and joked quietly. When our baby emerged, calm and peaceful and very, very beautiful – there was an explosive pink and purple sunrise out the window. I reached down and pulled her onto my belly, and then my chest. I was the first to see that she was a she. A few tears were shed. She latched onto my boob. Our daughter was here. We had become three.

There’s so much more to tell. The blissful post-baby days in hospital, surrounded by bustling midwives and the heady scent of endless flowers. The Baby Blues and how they muck with your mind. The sleep deprivation and how it mucks with your EVERYTHING. The, frankly, horrible breastfeeding trials of clinics and classes and consultants (and how, four weeks later, I’m nearly there). What it feels like to have a baby, after so long of wanting one.

But you’ll have to bear with me. This post is being completed three days after it was begun. Time at home with a newborn is liquid. Your day, your life is not your own. You exist to serve another, so things like blogging – and eating, and brushing your hair – become luxuries.

Let me just say one thing: to those of you, waiting and hoping and trying your goddamndest to get what you want. Whatever you end up choosing, whatever ends up being your story – know that there are people out there who hurt as much as you did, who begged and hoped and prayed as hard as you did, and they are here. On the other side. With what they wished for.

x

She’s Here.

Our daughter arrived early Friday morning after a pretty intense 11 hour labour.

She is, of course, the most beautiful thing we have ever seen.

I’m still in hospital. There have been some feeding issues that, coupled with hormones and a lack of sleep, have made for a really challenging time.

But none of it matters. She’s here. She’s healthy. We’re so, so lucky. And so, so happy.

I’ll write more when I’m home.

x

OK, here goes …

I have had three positive betas. As of last Thursday (when I had my most recent test) they were still doubling.

I’m sorry I haven’t written. You see, I’ve been … superstitious. Not just about blogging, about everything. Since we had the results of the second beta – which I was SO SURE would confirm this was just another blip – I’ve been a neurotic, wobbly knot of superstitions. Everything I do, I wonder if that will be the ‘thing’ that causes this to end.

It feels very strange. I know I sound crazy. Please forgive me. I’m sorry if it seems selfish, or ungrateful – but I’m not ‘elated’, or ‘over the moon’ or – even – ‘excited’.

I am scared. I. am. so. scared.

We went for a ‘viability’ ultrasound on Wednesday, as I had been having some sharp, stabbing pains and Dr D was worried about an ectopic. What was discovered was … nothing.

Rather than being 5-6 weeks, they measured me at 4w5d, which points to ovulation a week or so late. They couldn’t confirm if what we were looking at was viable, was growing, was ectopic – was anything. So, we had the third beta on Thursday (again, which I was sure would have dropped) and now we sit tight until a second viability scan in just over a week.

I don’t have any symptoms. Absolutely nothing. I don’t feel like this is real.

I am a toilet paper addict. I stare at the sheet at what seems like 100 times a day. The seconds after I see white are probably the only times when I feel OK. The rest of the time, I am walking around wondering how long this will last … whether I will break completely when it ends … and then sometimes, really brief moments of sometimes, I allow myself to maybe think that possibly this may last.

I am heading interstate on Tuesday morning, and I so desperately want to book in another beta before I go. That at least may tide me over until I return and we have our scan.

But, if it is dropping … I’m on a plane with Mr Bun and his parents the next morning, away from Dr D for six days, and … god.

What do you think I should do? Am I being paranoid? Shouldn’t I just enjoy the trip with the hope of a scan delivering good news on our return? Or should I give into this fear that three years of infertility and loss has given me?

We keep holding each other tight and saying thank you and hoping hoping hoping this bizarre, surprising, shock has a wonderfully happy ending. I’m trying so hard to be positive. I’m also trying to build a little support structure around my heart, just in case it breaks.

Well knock me down …

A positive beta. A teeny, tiny, barely-positive beta. A beta that the nurse doesn’t sound happy for. A beta that wouldn’t even register on a HPT. Super low. Lower than Barry White with a head cold.

Like I said, knock me down …

My blood test was a Woody Allen-style comedy of errors this morning, but I finally managed it. And when I made the call at 2pm after sitting through the world’s. longest. meeting. receptionist Uber-Bitch told me about the positive.

‘It’s very low. Where are you in your cycle?’

‘… Um … I’m not sure’ (why do I always clam up like a stuttering student on the spot when they ask me that? They must think I’m a moron). Um … (counting on my fingers) day 35?’

She told me Dr D would call me back. And that she did, confirming it was indeed ‘very low’ –  lower than my last beta that ended in an early miscarriage. She’s told me I should start taking my Progesterone pessaries and Astrix again (‘just in case’), and go for another blood test on Monday. I’ll do as I’m told, but at the same time I’ve begun my normal PMS symptoms.

So, a positive beta that will drop and and fade away and that will be that.

BUT

We were on a natural cycle. Mr Bun’s sperm and my egg actually came together and fertilised. NATURALLY. Wow. I mean. Maybe this has happened before? I’ve been a week late for my period maybe four or five times in the past three years. And clearly I’ve never had a blood test to tell me otherwise.

It doesn’t matter. Whether this is our first or our fifth natural conception – I don’t care.

We can actually do it.

IVF for us will remain a two-pronged process to a) get more embies, and b) hold onto the precious things. Clearly though, b) is starting to become the frontrunner to focus on. And, after nearly three years, that’s something.

Like I said, knock me down with a feather.

Milestones

I’m feeling like a proper cow at the moment, because I’ve avoided (read = told a white lie) a lunch, so I don’t have to spend time with a colleague’s brand new bub.

Milestones are shitty things, right? They put little markers in place that remind us of what’s moved on … or, in my case, what hasn’t.

So, when people who were married when or after Mr Bun and I were married fall pregnant, I don’t cope. And that’s this couple. We each met our respective partners at the same time, bought houses at the same time, and were married at the same time. When they gleefully announced their pregnancy (THAT’S another story), it shook me right up. And now I’m avoiding lunch because I’m in a crap mood and don’t have the energy to coo over their little girl.

I’m surrounded my blossoming bellies.

I work with a lot of women, and it’s the cruel law of averages that sees an announcement ripple through the office every quarter or so. A squeal, a hug, the downcast eyes to an already swelling tum … it can really hurt if I haven’t got my armour swaddled tough and tight.

There’s no rhyme or reason to whether an announcement stings or not.

OK. That’s bullshit. There is – it just isn’t pretty. Want to know? Sigh. This is when I start sounding like a cow as well as feeling like one.

If I don’t like them. If I’m jealous, or competitive, or any other one of those energy-wasting negative emotions that I have (‘cos I’m human) – then the announcement stings. Oooh, does it hurt: real salt and lemon juice in the wound.

I know that’s pathetic. I, of all people, know what a miracle having a child is. But sometimes, there’s that person – that one person that you can’t stand hearing those words about … “Oh, did you hear?”

How am I meant to cope in those circumstances?

(Image thank you: tim green)