Monday, August 30, 2010


Hello again, apologies for the absence blah blah blah.
It can partly be explained away by a week away from computers in Airlie Beach - lovely! And partly due to bone laziness.

Anyway, here I am, adopting a quality-over-quantity approach to blogging.

I am 13 weeks and two days today and just noticed the first signs of a baby bump today. That black skirt was a little more snug and that black top I wore to work rode up A LOT higher than usual.

We have had our first appointment with our obstetrician and our first proper scan.

And here is where the scary parts start.

I will just come right out and say it. According to the results of the 12-week nuchal translucency scan we had a week and a half ago, I have a one in 29 chance of having a baby with Downs Syndrome.

One in 29.

You know me, I had burst into tears as soon as we were free from the radiographer's dimly lit office...having sat through a 20-minute explanation of what those results actually meant.

Yes, the radiographer said, it was high risk and concerning; but I could also be one of the 28 women who would have a normal, healthy baby.

But what if I'm not?

Yes, the nasal bone was present, and in 85% of Downs babies, the nasal bone is absent.

But what about the 15% of Downs babies who obviously have a nasal bone?

Yes my blood biochemistry levels were good and normal, but my baby's nuchal measurement (the skin at the back of the neck) was too big.

Damn numbers, I have always, always hated them.

It was so damn unexpected. Like a blood test, I was seriously expecting to have the scan, get a nice clean one in 800 result and get on with life. But while it was awesome to see my little 12-week-old baby squirming and flitting about - and to see amazing details like a jawbone, nose and limbs - the gloss of the moment was certainly tarnished by that devastating news.

This may sound callous, and I expect to be judged even though it is an intensely personal decision, but if the results of an amniocentesis that we will have in three weeks come back positive, T and I will not go ahead with the pregnancy.

And that horrific eventuality (a positive result) gives rise to a whole host of truly gut-wrenching - and very negative - consequences; ones I won't go into here because I don't want to spend any more time agonising over an experience we may not yet have to endure.

T and I both know we do not have what magic qualities it takes to raise a child with Downs Syndrome. Thank god we are both on the same page. I know people with kids who have Downs say the same thing, but that they just got on with it and did their best, but I do not want to go down that path. All I keep thinking about is the child's quality of life, their longevity of life, the strain it will put on our relationships, finances, emotions...all the negatives. And I am sure there are positives, but I don't have the strength to wade through what I assume to be 99 negatives to reach one positive. I can see how that could be selfish, heartless, whatever...but it is how I feel.

I know I will suffer a lot of guilt if that is what ends up happening, particularly as this was an IVF pregnancy, but I suspect my family will suffer a lot more from the alternative.

Wow, it sounds really callous to type it all up in stark black and white, but there is the harsh truth of it.

In the meantime, it's a matter of desperately avoiding the issue in my mind. The holiday helped me succeed at that, but now I am home, I find it clouding my thoughts more often.

I am someone who worries about things I cannot change...I know it is unncessary, and yet I do it constantly. But I have really forced myself to change tack with this.

If I dwell on this, or worry all the time, I will literally go mad and no doubt harm the baby. The fact is, we won't know for sure until about three weeks' time. (The results of an amnio normally take two weeks (!) but you can pay more for a FISH test, which we will be doing, and you get a result in two days). Yes, I am sweating on that result - of course, we all are - but we know when we can get that news and it is not negotiable.

So, please, any positive vibes you got - send them my way!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Death and loathing

I found myself getting quite emotional while reading the Financial Review last week. As you do.

No, it wasn't the sudden sorry state of Telstra shares - although that was certainly cause for tantrummy tears for many - but a story on page three about the artist who won the Doug Moran National Portrait Prize.

Michael Zavros won for a painting called Phoebe is Dead/McQueen.


He said he was inspired to paint this particular, and very confronting, piece to illustrate how vulnerable he felt as a parent. Apparently, ever since his five year old daughter Phoebe was born, he has been plagued with fears about her being harmed. He said he has never known a love so powerful to be able to make him worry about loss so much. What if that was all taken away, what if he lost her?

When I read that at work on Friday afternoon, I lost it. Firstly, it was such a bloody relief that someone else, and look! a stern and sensible man no less, felt the same way as me, clearly an irrational silly woman. But it was nice to know that perhaps I wasn't as irrational as I thought.

I spend too much time thinking of horrible things happening to Jay...and that is only getting worse now that I am pregnant and so incredibly conscious of a second little life I, we, are responsible for.

Unfortunately, I know these anxieties are basically a parental prerequisite. I am not sure you can do a good job as a parent without feeling this way. Can you?

Oh, and the McQueen reference in the painting was about the scarf, designed by Alexander McQueen. Not sure what that added to the whole title shebang, as I am pretty sure "Phoebe is Dead" would have packed a far more devastating punch. Funnily enough, however, Zavros also called the painting playful. What? Yes, because he gave her rosy cheeks, not a morgue-ish pallor, implying that she could very well have been playing dead.

Bloody kids. I will kill Jay if he ever drapes himself in my scarf and lies prostrate on the floor naked like that!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Miriam Stoppard, you is crazy

Memo to Dr Miriam Stoppard:
You say in the early chapter of your pregnancy bible that it is unlikely for a woman's belly to protrude much in the first trimester.
You, lady, are off your tree.

I am 10 weeks and one day - not that I am counting - and I have a distinct bulge. Actually just last night I noticed it was firmer that the word bulge implies and felt quite, I don't know, fibrous...

Not like when your spare tyre visits Beaurepaires without you knowing and ends up transforming into a large car size with racing tread, instead of the small-to-medium with all-weather tread you have been sporting throughout your 20s. No, this type of stomachal protuberance is decidedly firmer than that. For a split second, I kidded myself it was my spectacular ab muscles being pushed forwards by an ever-expanding uterus. Yeah, then I smelled the coffee, almost vomited on the spot thanks to the nausea, and woke up to myself.

Yes, nausea...and tiredness...and constant trips to the loo. The holy triumvirate of the first trimester. Seriously, I am considering getting my office temporarily relocated to cubicle one of the ladies loos. Although the acoustics would be shocking...

See, they don't tell you about the constipation - so there's that, which I am trying to combat with lots of fibre and plenty of water. Plenty of water, plenty of toilet trips.

There's some annoying but apparently necessary hormone called progesterone coursing through my body right now. It is to blame for the tiredness, the constipation and the distinct inability to construct sentences on every alternate day. Apparently it slows everything down...your brain, clearly, as well as your intestines. So the longer "it" takes to exit stage left, or south, the more water is extracted and the harder it is to, well, you know.

Plus I have found my fibrous little expanda-uterus is decidedly bigger by about 4pm. All of a sudden that skirt I put on that fitted fine in the morning is riding up high enough to make a Melrose Place Heather Locklear blush and that top that shaped to my body quite nicely at 8am is suddenly bursting buttons Incredible Hulk-style. (Seriously, that has happened.)

Part of me feels like a third party watching this happen to someone else. It is completely freaky seeing your body change so much. Then there is the weirdness at something so tiny being able to so dramatically alter your every moment - making you more emotional, more puffed while just walking (what?), more tired, more forgetful. And, what's more, it's something you cannot see.

For christ's sake, if god or whatever was going to make the creation of a life so damn miraculous, you would think he/she could at least put a window on the belly during pregnancy. Oh! Imagine that! No internal scans...just a magic window you couldd peep into at any time.

Perhaps you could add a personal touch and make your own little curtains, or Venetians for the retro-lovers, a chic Roman blind or plantation shutters. Sure your jumpers may catch on them, but it would sure save so much stress and heartache!

Oh and by the way, I turned 34 since my last post - hooray - and cannot believe that at my next birthday, I will have a five month old.