Saturday, 21 July 2018

Phatty McWaddlebum. Significant relationships.

I am now 27 weeks and 4 days pregnant (not like I am counting or anything).

I have just copped my third cold of this pregnancy. I used to go 18 months without getting a cold. Now I get whatever is going around. I am now expert in the good/bad/ugly of cold symptom modification. Read the US baby/mothering websites and they will tell you that pretty much nothing is safe to use in pregnancy, so suffer in your jocks, ladies.

I am a bit of a ninja with google scholar, and a keen reader of the medical literature.
FOR ME (ie this is not medical advice) I can summarise things as such: Nasal vasoconstrictor sprays, nasal steroids,  Inhaled corticosteroids, older antihistamines, codiene to suppress cough - all fine especially beyond first trimester and not too late in pregnancy, and with no more than a few days use at a time. My gp echoes these recommendations.

Read the internet mothering websites, especially those from the US, and the information regarding pregnancy can be summarised as:
Look, ladies, living is potentially harmful to your growing baby, hence it's probably safest to sit inside your home and do and eat and drink nothing, because you wouldn't want to hurt your baby now, would you?

Generally, and on balance, I am feeling good. I am continuing to do crossfit. I feel (perhaps for the first time in my adult life) beautiful. I am working hard and have reasonable amounts of energy. I am not that hungry at the moment as my uterus expands to abut my stomach.

We've just moved house, like 2 weeks ago, awaiting the knockdown and rebuild on our property. The house was in a fairly substandard state, and things ticked off on the condition report as working and fine were not indeed working and fine. Hence the property manager found himself torn a new bum-hole by an exhausted pregnant lady. Things are getting fixed, but we are still without an oven. My partner is liaising with the property manager, which is probably best for the property manager.

So I am nice and busy and enjoying life. Generally. Apart from a few things. Because nothing is ever perfect, right.


I have alluded to it on this blog a few times but not spelled it out.
To summarise, my childhood was shitty, and I have clawed my way out of it, via hard work, >$10000 worth of therapy, and being brave.

How was it shit?
Without going into too much detail - my father was a horrible, wife beating alcoholic who passed away (in traumatic circumstances) when I was 14. I miss having a dad, but I am relieved he is gone.
My mum and him split up when I was 10. Very bravely, I must say, because nobody gave a shit about family violence in those days. Thereafter was punctuated with long periods of her being badly depressed and confined to bed (nobody gave a shit about that either), mostly enough money to keep a roof over our heads and keep us fed (but substantial money worry invading my consciousness from an early age) but none for anything nice. I was good at school and had some friends, but many other kids bullied me (nobody gave a shit about bullying either). I didn't think at first that it worried me, but deep down, it did.

Hence I got into uni, got together with the first guy who showed an interest (we all know how that turned out), moved out as soon as I was able. Things went fine for a few years until they didn't. Things, very understandably, caught up with me, and I continue to have to face up to the consequences. It's not my fault, but it is my life, my responsibility. I have the brains and the means and I consider myself lucky to be able to manage things as I do, and live my best life.

These childhood issues have played out interestingly (!) in pregnancy. Pregnancy has a way of bringing back past traumas. I'm dealing with it.

The other thing is the relationship with my mum.

I have not had any significant emotional or material support from her in 20 years or so. My younger brother and sister had more difficult adolescent periods than I, and this took up a lot of my mum's energy, so I asked her for nothing, expected nothing. Years later, they left home, and, rather than my mum spreading her wings and living the life she deserves without having to worry how she will raise children, she has become rudderless and self-sabotaging. There have again been long periods of depression. My brother has not been able to hold down a proper job in, like, forever, and he sponges off her, but she won't stand up to it. She never has any money despite working full time in a reasonable job, and abuses her health by smoking, not exercising, not eating properly and staying up all night watching youtube.

At times I have felt responsible for her, and there has been quite a bit of reverse-parenting.

I've gotten a bit jack of that, to be honest.

I have become a fiercely independent woman, yet I still yearn for some occasional nurturing. I try to get it where I can, and I have many friends. I have long stopped expecting any of it from mum. She offers to help sometimes but I generally decline.

She sees the birth of grandchildren as redemptive for her. She is much more "my grandchild" than "the child of my children". I saw lots of unpleasantries go down between her and my sister when my niece was born. Mum decompensated in a big way when her first grandchild was born. I think it bought back lots of sad memories for her, which she has not yet reconciled.

Mum says she wants to look after the baby when I work, which is nice, but I have my doubts about how this will play out.

I suppose things crystallised last weekend. She came to my place, reeking of cigarette smoke. I had lunch for her, made her cups of tea, listened to her talking. I don't really say much about myself, because her hearing is poor, and she interrupts often.

After a solid week at work, and a house move, this was the first time I had sat down all week. I hit a wall very quickly. I just wanted to go to bed. Rather than "poor thing, you must be exhausted" she commented on a grey hair I had sprouting out, and said that she would take as long as she wanted to drink her cup of tea "just to piss you off".

That night, I went to my friends place for dinner. His mum, who I have met a few times, was visiting from Singapore. She was cooking up a storm. She had found out that I liked a particular Asian dish, and made it just for me. She bought me food and took my plates and gave me a hug and rubbed my belly. It was nice. I was tired and bade farewells not too long after. The contrast was stark.

I think some boundaries need to be set. I am working with my very talented therapist who have been seeing on and off for the past 7 years. She will help me. I will be accused by my mum of "using the baby as a weapon against her" (or some such, she levelled similar at my sister when my sister attempted to set the same) but I am a bit beyond caring. I have unfortunately gotten to a point where it is neither here nor there if I don't see or speak to her in a month or more. That is saying something.

Anyway, that is probably the most "real" I have been for a while, congrats on getting this far.

Sunday, 17 June 2018

22+5 - Kicks

Melbourne has well and truly descended into winter. Today the rain fell down in sheets and the mercury struggled to get past 12 degrees. Meanwhile, my tummy has popped out and I am looking proper pregnant, as opposed to "has she been getting into the donuts?". After we came back with a good-looking ultrasound a week or so ago, I have finally capitulated and bought some maternity wear online. It is comfy, I can tell you that.

In the last couple of weeks, I've also been getting more and more movements from the little lad. I enjoy lying quietly awake in bed in the morning or night, feeling him move. He also seems very active when I sit down around dinner time. It's a lovely lovely feeling.

I have heard it said that it is very common for new/impending parents to plan house renovations. The reality of our upcoming move and house knock-down is looming larger. We have found a house to rent, a little bit further away from town than what we are currently, but it will be a nice comfy domicile to which we can bring our new baby. They also accepted our dog, which is good.

There is a streak in me that, when I am busy or things are challenging, I have to make them more so. I have been picking up extra sessions at work, we could always use the extra $. Also being busy makes one sharp, or so I think. I have had only one  episode of preggo-brain...that I can recall.

I work with a fair few women in some of my workplaces, and talk has turned to modes of birthing and feeding.

I am of the firm "whatever works for the individual mum and baby" school. Also, to my relief, I don't attach any particular self-esteem to having a baby out the exhaust pipe (as opposed to the sunroof). I hope to be able to breastfeed, but I have no opposition to topping up with formula where required. What I am very staunchly opposed to is people, even professional midwifes, making mothers feel guilty if they can't or don't want to breast feed, and making some go to extraordinary lengths to breast-feed, through low supply, exhaustion and bouts of mastitis. It is true that women put a lot of pressure on themselves to be "natural". I am wont to do that, but I am gearing towards the "get through the day with everyone alive and well and fed" school of living. Also, nothing about the conception was natural, no need to start now. I also pity the person who tries to guilt me into anything, I am a keen reader of the medical literature, and I am very swift to rebut people who I think are wrong or out of line.

We say all these things; I wonder how I will actually feel when the time comes?

Monday, 28 May 2018

19+6 weeks - Changes.

I've just gotten back from a lovely week in Palm Cove with my fella. It's been a while since we've just chilled out and spent time together, seeing each other at our best. We snorkelled, saw fish, cruised down the Daintree river and saw some little crocodiles, walked through the Daintree Rainforest and marvelled at the trees and enjoyed the forest sounds. We slept in, basked in the warmth (where we could), ate good food.

It was right back into work today. The weariness crept back quickly. It is almost anticipatory in nature - we have a big month coming up. Soon the demolition on our house will begin to make way for the new one. I made sure to speak to our neighbour, who grew up in this house, before we proceeded, just so she was prepared. There was a bit of tearfulness but she was ok.

As to the pregnancy, there have been a few changes. I am getting a definite bump. My proper pants officially do not fit, or they need a belly belt to hold them up. I am trying to respond to the bodily changes with a mix of calm, wonder and bemusement, rather than alarm. I am trying not to worry too much about weight gain. In any case, I don't seem to be gaining alarming amounts.

Preggo hormones relax all the smooth muscle in the body - the muscles in the blood vessels, the gut, the urethra (wee hole). Hence I am dizzy when I get up too quickly, I have some good going reflux, and a sudden cough or sneeze makes me sweat or dash to the loo. Yes I am doing my pelvic floor exercises. Funnily enough, there is an app for them, it is amusingly called "squeezy".

My predilection for salt and vinegar chips continues unabated. Samboy SnV chips are king. They give me a mild sweat, which could be the strong vinegar taste or could be the MSG. I am not sure. Fehlberg pickled onions are also king. They give rise to the delightful symptom of preggo farts.

I can manage all my daily tasks, however they wear me out a lot more. I need to be more diligent about hitting the sack early.

I am still doing crossfit, though my strength as well as my aerobic conditioning have decremented. I need to concentrate on enjoying what I can continue to do. I jumped rope this morning, even slipped in some double-unders.

I am wont to have tears sting my eyes much more easily now than before. It does not take me much to feel emotional. I am told that this is a permanent thing. I feel quite vulnerable at times, and very attached to my loved ones. I am looking at little babies (particularly little boy babies) with interest, striking up conversations with the mums about prams and carriers and whatnot.

I am seeing my obstetrician for the 20 week visit on Wednesday, and having the ultrasound next Friday. I think I will feel a bit more relaxed after that. The anxiety from the last scan has not quite gone away.

It's gonna be a busy couple of months. It's really been all about work and the pregnancy. I need to make time, after the move, to catch up with friends, see some movies. I've retreated into books and phone scrabble for recreation.

Sunday, 6 May 2018

Regrouping - 16 + 5.

I've not had a great deal of time to contemplate the pregnancy. I've been working super hard, covering extra sessions, earning extra dollars. I've also had a nasty lurgy and needed a day off sick in amongst all of this. It's ok having a cold when you can take all the drugs. Now I can take very few of the drugs and it takes the discomfort up a number of notches. I even had to miss crossfit for a week!

Somebody asked me a week or so ago "have you bought a pram yet?"

That day, a friend offered me her Silver Cross pram. She was going to sell it on ebay, and offered to sell it to me a bit cheaper than she was intending to sell it on the net. I snapped it up. A cursory google search showed that the Silver Cross is the Range Rover of prams, and they go for about $1000 a pop at least. My friend, a mumma to a 3 year old boy who will be stopping at 1 child, gave me a big bunch of stuff including a cot and a change table and baby clothes. I've been told not to buy too much, I will get given a bunch of things for the baby.

I've bought elasticated waist pants and jeggings (jeggings FTW), but have not yet been able to bring myself to buy maternity gear, or buy baby stuff myself.

I went to the Myer baby clothes section yesterday, and wound up crying soon after. I tried again today, same deal.

I am starting to get excited about the pregnancy, but a large part of me does not want to engage too fully, lest I lose the pregnancy. My trigger is going to buy baby things. I am scared of jinxing the situation.

I think it will get better once I have had the 20 week scan. Once I see a proper bump. I still don't really look pregnant, just a bit "thicc". Reassuringly, my jeans waist is getting tighter by the week. I've bought a "belly band" online to keep my jeans in action for a few more weeks.

I am hoping this lurgy gets better this week!

Thursday, 26 April 2018

And breathe out.

The first trimester ultrasound found something in the heart. At that time, it could have been an isolated finding, a part of a complex genetic syndrome (one that I faintly remembered from my time in medical school all those years ago), or part of a more complex cardiac condition.

The obstetrician/sonologist appraised us of the percentage likelihood of each thing, that it was more likely to be normal than not. She wanted us to wait another 3 weeks for a review with a cardiologist, plus/minus an amniocentesis.

We were devastated. Percentages mean nothing, one either gets a disease or doesn't - they don't get 5 or 10 or 20 per cent of a disease. We needed to get it sorted out, and we could not wait 3 weeks. We did not get much sleep that night. It stopped us in our tracks.

I requested chorionic villus sampling, as this could be done earlier along. I spoke with my obstetrician, who spoke with the sonologist. This was promptly arranged, three days after the initial ultrasound.

The CVS was physically and emotionally painful. Seeing the fetus on the ultrasound, knowing that a needle was going into the womb. I kept thinking "sorry little mate". The local anaesthetic didn't work very well, and I jumped a bit. The womb shifted. The sonologist told me that she had to make another pass. I started sobbing, and they left me for a bit to pull myself together. My fella held my hand and cried with me. The procedure was completed, I was sore and sorry, we were pretty subdued. I slept the rest of the day. I took the next day off. Luckily, the next morning, some initial results were available. The syndrome had been excluded. I felt superficially happy, but numb. It had been a harrowing week.

We went away on a weekend trip we had planned for months. We went to a restaurant called Brae, and stayed in the boutique accommodation. I don't know that we were in the right frame of mind, we were a bit tired, and pregnancy is not really the time to try new sophisticated tastes. Still, it was lovely to get away with some reassurance.

The following Wednesday, I went for a job interview. This is a role I had applied for a while ago. I spent a bit of time preparing for the interview, mainly because I wanted to slay it and get the role, but also as a bit of a distraction from what had been going on. I managed the interview well despite my nerves, was able to give comprehensive answers to all the questions, and did not have any brain-farts (which I have had before in interviews). I decided that, whatever the outcome, I would be proud for holding it together and not having a brain fart during the interview. I was very jittery after. I didn't know how I would manage if I didn't get the role - I've had a few fails in the past year or so, missed out on a few roles, and this with the infertility stuff has been an assault to my self-esteem. I did my trick of planning nice contingencies.

I had a call the next day - the panel was very impressed, and I got the job. A senior colleague on the panel knew about my pregnancy and told the head of the panel - they gave me the job anyway, saying they wanted the best candidate for the job. I am not sure how I felt about this news being passed on, but it saved me the awkies of having to share the news myself.

I was buoyed by this news, but still in the back of my mind was the worry about the pregnancy. I stayed away from people who I thought would tell me "it'll be alright" - that may well be true but it does not help me. I preferred instead to stay distracted. I threw myself into writing a paper, into Bachie in Paradise. My mindset changed from frightened to hopeful.

On Tuesday, I got the final results from the genetic testing, and had a review by a cardiologist specialising in congenital heart disease. The genetic testing was normal, and as far as the cardiologist could tell at this early stage, it appears to be an isolated anomaly in the heart, unlikely to be of any consequence.

My partner is still quite traumatised and not quite reassured by everything, but he is getting there.

I am feeling overwhelmingly grateful. Grateful for the care and love I have received, grateful that good things are happening. So grateful I get emotional when I think about things.

I am getting my head back into the game. The next thing is to get my flu shot, and to plan the babymoon. Can't go anywhere much because of Zika. Have found some nice places in Australia though.

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Foetus, interruptus.

We went for our first trimester ultrasound yesterday. The one that yields the photos that accompany the formal pregnancy announcements.

It took ages, and I had to empty my bladder and jiggle around to get things in the right position for optimal growth. There was abdo-cam and dildo-cam and every angle was taken.

The first warning was the time it took to do the scan. I didn't think it would take that long.

The second warning was being led out to the back room by the obstetrician.

It's not a normal ultrasound.
I have arranged some further tests.
It might be ok but it might not.
That is all I am saying about that, for the moment.

Sunday, 1 April 2018

11+5. Pagan festival of Chocolate. Imma doing OK.

And Happy Easter Folks!

I'm just sat on my couch, after cooking up a storm for dinner. My friend has left, my fella is at a gig, I'm nibbling at my chocky treats (Haigh's, no less), torn between craving and feeling full.

I'm still a bit sick sometimes, but no voms. Most of the food aversions have passed, I managed to cook a beautiful lamb roast today. I followed Nagi's advice of starting the roast in the slow cooker, then browning in the oven. It threatened not to work out, as I didn't give it 10 hours (only 3 or 4) but the result was succulent. I made roast tatties which didn't work out as I wanted them, but were delicious. All the other food was made with loads of fat and or cheese/cream. It was delicious. The Piece de Resistance was an apple and raspberry cake I made for afters. I was a woman possessed. It's the most cooking I've done in a while.

I have continued being hungry, but have seen my way to healthier foods. By healthier, I mean tins of spaghetti or baked beans, rather than fried foods. I am enjoying carrots, but with lashings of french onion dip (the less fancy the better). I am requiring fewer strawberry milkshakes to get me through. Fruit wise, it's all about the pink lady apple. I am coming back around to meat and curries. When I was in the midst of the food aversions, I felt like they would never go away, but here we are.

I have been enjoying Crossfit, enjoying breaking a sweat with my friends. Perhaps the reason why I am enjoying it so much is that I am just enjoying what I can do, rather than going hell for leather or trying to compete. I have been able to do the majority of what is programmed and I am proud of this, and proud of knowing my own body. I did get  a bit of pain about the pelvis last week, during a certain movement, which freaked me out a bit. The calming words of my friends and the obstetrician were effective.

I had been missing wine (or more correctly, sharing a bottle with friends and having a nice buzz with it). This nostalgia is settling. What I really get excited about nowadays is the afternoon nap, especially when I have a day off or finish early. I have tried to get through a day during the Easter break, go a hard-core all-dayer, but alas I have not managed it. Mama needs her rest.

Despite the fatigue and the seediness and the aversions and the cravings, it all seems a bit unreal. Even having seen the 10 week scan. Even as my pants get a bit tighter and I buy elasticated pants or clothing with a bit of give in it. It was only a couple of short months ago that I was planning the contingencies for if the pregnancy test came back negative (buy a car, book a holiday - I have done neither). How life can change. I am aware of how easily it might all go away, so hard was the pregnancy to come by. It seems a little indulgent to believe it.

Life is getting hectic, with the pregnancy, work, house renovations. I am taking it one day at a time, and in so doing I mostly avoid being overwhelmed. Perhaps it is the pregnancy hormones making me feel calm, but I have been practicing the art of telling myself I am doing fine, doing a good job. Even typing this seems a bit weird, I am not used to patting myself on the back. It does reduce the reliance on people telling me. I get the feeling that this might be a good skill to have as a parent.