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

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Blessed

A year ago today, I stood in a quiet, dark boardroom looking down on the first day of Spring. I twiddled the silver chain that hung off the blinds. I waited, phone pressed to my ear, my mind blank.

This.

It would be some time before I believed what had happened. And time more to feel excited about the possibility of a baby (A BABY!) … but this day was the beginning.

When I look at Little Bun, with her feet waving in the air, stretching out the ever-deepening creases on her fat little legs, big eyes watching me – I remember that day and all the days that came before.

We are blessed.

 

 

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

Fully Baked (40w0d)

HALLO FORTY WEEKS!

I’m not sure what I envisioned for this day … to be honest, I didn’t really picture it at all. I’ve been so focused on taking it ‘one week at a time’, that 40 weeks is here and – well – it’s here! I never thought I’d go early, or on my due date. It’s just not my style. So today, bringing with it no signs of labour, is not about disappointment … more about excitement. Because a baby has to be here pretty soon – right!?

We had our last scheduled appointment with Dr Spock this week and after discussing options she went ahead and booked our induction in. This is another reason why I’m feeling so (relatively) calm today. I have a date to work towards. The ‘complete unknown’ has been somewhat removed.

I trust her. After our last appointment, I’m definitely a lot less blasé about inductions. As I mentioned last week, the research I’ve done has shown me that an induced birth is often one that leads to more interventions. On the other hand, I am not keen on going 10 or 14 days over … and we agreed that a week was a good compromise.

So, she’s penciled us in for an induction a week today (!!!), assuming nothing happens in the meantime. The plan is to head in for fetal monitoring tomorrow and again the beginning of next week (Dr Spock’s routine for full-term Mum’s). We’ll then catch up with Dr Spock after my second monitoring appointment and check in that everything’s OK, and next Thursday is still the right date to shoot for.

And in the meantime – wait.

There’s a little spanner in the works: Dr Spock is off call from tonight until Monday morning. Which means – ba ba baaaahm – Dr Bark will be managing her deliveries from now until Monday.

Look. This is the thing. I clearly have a LOT of love for Dr Spock. And it would be disappointing not to have her there. And Dr Bark and I haven’t exactly gotten off to a great start. But it’s not something I can control, and going into labour naturally in the next few days would clearly be a better outcome than being induced next week. As long as the baby (and I) are healthy, I’m fine.

Which brings me to my final point. The dark, horrid thoughts have returned with a vengeance. I am really struggling with fear about something happening to the baby. Every slowed or absent movement has me panicking. I think it’s because we’re so close – the idea of something happening now is almost impossible to contemplate. I am trying to manage the fear with a combination of practicality and reason – while also being ready to call L&D as soon as I really feel something needs to be checked. That I’m going in tomorrow for a check up is something for me to focus on. I’m sure this is purely anxiety about the whole situation manifesting itself in my greatest fear – it doesn’t make it any easier to deal with though.

Hope you’re all having a fabbo week. I’m waddling through mine with an ever increasing sense of excitement, fear, nervousness and wonder …

!!

x

A Kicking Christmas (20w)

And, ladies and gents – we’re halfway there.

WOW.

This week Mr Bun and I finished work a few days early, and are using the days to Get Shit Done. This has included my 20 week ultrasound and appointment with Dr Spock. Wonderfully, everything seems normal and good and there’s nothing at this stage they’re worried about. Merry Christmas indeed!

Very kindly, Mr Bun’s agreed to let me have my wish of keeping the gender a big unknown. Although, like a little boy shaking down his presents on Christmas Eve, that didn’t stop him from trying to find out. He was puh-reety focused on the screen during the scan, peering at the images to see if he could work out if it’s a boy or girl. At one point I had to steady him, ‘No darling… don’t get too excited … that’s the umbilical cord.’

The BEST thing about the past week or so has been the increasing activity from the little wriggle-pants that is our baby. The first kick was a serious HOLY SHIT moment, and came around 18 1/2 weeks after a while of ‘weird’ flutterings that I was pretty-sure-but-not-certain were baby movements. But then the kick, felt under my palm as I was lying in bed one night, and it was … yep, pretty awesome.

Since then, it’s been getting more and more active. Between 5-6am and 8-10pm are the busiest time. Not sure if they’re kicks or punches, but I can actually see some of them and Mr Bun can definitely feel them. Early this morning was pretty full on. I was lying there feeling the mini-prods and then suddenly it felt as if my stomach was turning inside out and a large lump ROSE UP under my hand. It was hard and round and basically freaked me out (maternal, much?). I’m assuming it was a head or bum … pretty cool, but also a rather pretty intense reminder that there’s another little being in there.

So, we move into the second half with a heady dose of This Is Really Happening. It feels great and very, very unreal in the true sense of the word.

Symptom Check, for those of you that care:

– Sleeplessness, caused mainly by a pretty sore back that gets worse as the day goes on

– A ‘waddle’ that is now rather pronounced, and amuses me

– A tendency to grunt whenever I have to bend over the increasingly large bowling ball of my stomach

– An intense, emotionally-overblown fear response to pretty much EVERYTHING. Don’t believe me? Try these on for size: Losing our house to the bank (this will never happen, but there was an article in the paper and now I can’t stop thinking about it); Nuclear war, caused by the succession in Nth Korea; Anything happening to Mr Bun (the poor man has acquired a pregnant limpet these holidays); Cancer (always); Falling down the stairs; The taxi driver crashing the car … It goes on … sigh

– Energy energy !woo! feeling fine OH GOD I NEED TO EAT/LIE DOWN NOW

There are more. Apparently the past month has been the ‘eye of the storm’ as such, and stuff starts ramping up again. Like I said, it’s feeling a lot more real and every day I say Thank You and Please, let me keep being thankful.

Have a wonderful Christmas / holiday / rest and let’s all cross our fingers for a sparkly 2012.

xx

Sweet Sixteen (16w3d)

We’re still here … wow.

Bullet points are the only way I’m actually going to get this post up before 2012, so here goes:

– A brief 15 week appointment with Dr Spock showed us a beautiful little image of our jumping jack (or jackie) sitting somewhere underneath my belly button. It was, as always, the most awesome thing ever

– It then took about – oh, five hours – for me to be back at Status: Mildly Concerned. This is the norm for my mental state over the past few weeks. The time split is basically this: 60% Mildly Concerned / 30% Properly Scared and Undertaking Insane Googling / 10% Blissfully Happy and Sure Everything Will Be ‘Just Fine’

– I’m off the Bum Bullets and baby asprin. Dr Spock allowed me to wean myself over a ridiculously long period of time, so it was actually less traumatic than I thought it would be

– Since we’ve last caught up, I’ve purchased (due to complete and utter necessity) 2 x pairs of maternity jeans (like heaven in denim) and 3 x maternity bras (how to kill sex drive in seven seconds flat).These and a selection of tops are making up my wardrobe. That it will soon be too hot for jeans is filling me with mild dread. My legs have turned into fleshy tree trunks

– Very much like Chon, I am still peppering my conversations with little qualifying caveats that I’m sure no-one else will notice (yes, I know they do). It’s like a pact with myself … I don’t use ‘when’, but ‘if’; ‘maybe’ but never ‘definitely’ … This doesn’t feel like a done deal for me. Every good scan is a hurdle magically leapt over. I know we need to keep jumping

– Having said that, I am also enjoying this like it deserves to be enjoyed. I am perving on my bump in window reflections and devouring the weekly updates that get emailed to me. I am appreciating every.single.day – not only because of the past three years, but also because I am so scared that this will somehow stop

– We’ve talked about getting a Doppler, but I think it would be a bad idea for my head-state right now. I don’t need something else to obsess over. I’m going to try and hold out between scans. Our next one is in three weeks and while that seems an age away, the days do have a lovely habit of actually passing!

– Symptoms include: crackingly bad headaches, sore back / neck, much less tired, swollen legs and feet at the end of the day (can’t wait to see if THAT progresses, seeing as I’m only four months …), showing like a preggy lady – not a fat lady, still snotty / sneezy, hiccupy / burpy after food, nails super strong, no pimples for yonks, vivid dreams starting to happen more often, teary … and I am loving every single thing, good and bad!

OK. I have to feed the Beast, and then feed me and Mr Bun. A quiet Monday night, just the four of us … !

xx

Dr Spock

We met our obstetrician this week, who I will call Dr Spock.

She. Is. Uh. Mazing.

Seriously, after a year + with our fertility specialist Dr D and her … interesting … approach to a bedside manner, I was apprehensive about a new Doc. But, she is wonderful. Warm, funny, lovely, considerate. You know when people are nice to you and it makes you want to burst into tears? We walked into her office, super nervous, and she took one look at the stack of IVF paperwork in my sweaty little hand.

‘Oh. You’ve really had a hard time getting here, haven’t you?’ An incongruous comment, but it was delivered with such kindness and empathy that I just welled up.

She chatted away about this and that, all the while my internal monologue was yelling , ‘SCAN ME! SCAN ME! This might all be a TOTAL waste of time!’ She took my pulse before the scan. ‘Wow’ she said, ‘you really are nervous!’ I grimaced.

I was all ready to spread ’em when she squirted the gel onto my tummy. That’s what got me first. You mean it’s big enough to not need an internal scan? What? And before I could continue to wonder about that, there it was – a typically shaped silhouette waving its limbs and somersaulting around. And for the first time in five scans, I cried.

We then went back and discussed genetic testing. The cystic fibrosis test is a mouth swab, and the Downs test a combination of blood, urine and a scan at twelve weeks. I’ve since done the swab, and blood/urine test. I’m booked in for the scan at the end of next week.

It’s such a personal decision as to how you approach tests – particularly for couples who’ve had the challenge of infertility. But this is how we’re managing it so far, and it’s what’s right for us.

I feel extremely lucky to be at this stage. If I look back to those first few weeks, what I wouldn’t have given to have arrived at this stage. And now, a few more hurdles next week. I’m wishing and hoping so HARD that we get some good news … I keep typing sentences and deleting them. This superstition is so severe.

Little steps, little steps.

Boobs and Tears

Just had a massive snotty teary meltdown on the couch. Mr Bun stroked my head and told me everything was going to be OK. No real reason for the Big Cry. Hormones, I guess.

Anyhoo … HALLO.

A lengthy and tedious absence from this dear blog. I’ve a pretty good excuse. I’ve been interstate working on a project. Nights and days, early starts, late finishes, client entertaining and endless chit chat and all the while trying to keep the project itself on an even keel. BLOODY EXHAUSTING I TELL YOU.

No-one, of course, knows my current state – so they just think that I’m a grumpy, antisocial, greedy (the FOOD I am eating … I tell you), fat cow. If we get to that point, telling the team will be a pleasure. At least they’ll know why I kept avoiding late night drinks with the group, and spent the big posh wrap dinner (at a Japanese restaurant, of course) politely declining every dish bar the edamame and tofu. I was starving like a madwoman by the time I got back to the hotel …

I remain nausea free, which I believe I should be very thankful for. My boobs are bigger and hurt all the time now – hilariously, I have to hold them when we go over speed bumps. I’ve already put on about 2kgs, all of which seems to be sitting on my belly. My bloat is … apparent, and I can now no longer do up any of my jeans comfortably for more than an hour or so. I’ve started tying the button and hole together with an old elastic band … my wardrobe has been whittled down to baggy tops and baggy tops.

Did I tell you I also feel fucking glamorous all. of. the. time?

This is a big week for us, as we meet our Obstetrician for the first time on Tuesday. We’re on the tail end of our longest gap between scans yet, and I am HANGING OUT for the next one in the her office. We’re wishing so hard that everything’s OK. At 10 weeks, it’s impossible not to look toward the future with a little bit of hope … as well as fear the pain losing that would bring.

I have been watching and reading you all from cars, airport lounges and taxis. I’m sorry for my silence. I’m here.

A New Stage

After last post, I decided to call both of my doctors – Dr D, and our new obstetrician (although we haven’t even met yet).

Dr D’s receptionist remained true to form and was … brisk. She effectively told me that at 7 weeks I was no longer under Dr D’s care and they couldn’t really help me. While I’m not technically under the obstetrician’s care until 10 weeks, I tried her office and the receptionist was wonderful. Warm, caring – and very focused on what I was saying. I explained my drop-off in symptoms had occurred after the 6 week scan and she suggested I go in for another scan immediately.

So, on Tuesday we drove across the city in the rain to a weird, poky little office (our usual scan place is more exclusive than a three-hatted restaurant – you need to book in three weeks in advance!) And, at 7 weeks we saw the heartbeat. Still drumming away.

Sweet, sweet relief.

Now, I feel like I’ve moved into a different stage. I feel a little more positive. I feel like I need to focus on being optimistic, rather than pessimistic. I need to concentrate on hoping that everything will be OK, instead of expecting everything to fail. I need to set aside the miscarriage demons, even though I fear leaving them behind will encourage something bad to happen.

I won’t say the approach is perfect. Every day that I feel a little more hopeful is another day we have further to fall if something goes wrong. And, I did find myself lying in the dark, reading ‘miscarriage after heartbeat’ stories online at 4am today … which is clearly not healthy or helpful. But I’m trying hard.

This may seem phenomenally negative, but I think it’s important to be honest. Infertility isn’t a condition that switches off at a positive pregnancy test. This is what us women have to bear – a trauma over years that affects our very psyche.

I’ve received the OK to travel, have sex, and exercise again (but not at the same time! – boom boom). I need to trust the medical advice I receive and go with it, rather than second guess with the ‘aid’ of the sad stories scattered throughout the pages of Dr Google.

So, here I am. At 8 weeks and focusing on the good – the amazing luck we have had up to now, the beautiful blurry grey images we’ve seen, the happiness in the faces of those we’ve told. Focus, focus, focus!