Monday, August 29, 2011

15 weeks today

We are in countdown mode until our 18-week scan and we don’t see our OB-GYN until the week after that and I am not too sure what to feel until then.

I try not to place too much weight on that scan, but it really will be momentous for us. For me anyway. I think of it like the final locked door that we can either open to happiness and surety, or leave painted shut to yet more sadness and fear. A bit dramatic, but when all you can do is wait, the imagination unfortunately has ample time to manipulate intuition.

That’s when we will get a detailed scan of our baby’s anatomy. That’s when we will get the most comprehensive indication so far that all is well, some is well, or none is well at all.

In the meantime, I feel in limbo a little. I have started thought-talking to my little baby at night, just telling it that we love it and hope it is safe and warm and happy in there. I put my hand on my lower belly and repeat the mantra: stay safe, healthy and strong, all through the pregnancy and beyond.

But always, always, a thought slams my reverie and reminds me to be careful. Don’t form a bond, don’t get too close. Just in case.

I am also thinking a lot not only about the one-year anniversary of the day my last pregnancy was induced, but also surpassing the term I reached last time. 16 weeks and four days.

By some strange coincidence, the two dates fall within about a fortnight of each other. I have felt weightier with the same sadness we experienced back then...or maybe it’s all that water retention? I guess I am flashing back to all the horrific emotions we felt last September. And wondering if we will have to endure them again this time.

But then I remind myself that this is now and that was then. The past. Hopefully we have a new and happier future in store.

Otherwise, I wore my first maternity top last week. It was actually to hide a regular pair of pants I put on to go to work. Oops, I noticed as I pulled them up, can’t quite get those top buttons done up. Cue the safety pin and a mental note to buy one of those belly belt things, and before you could say baby bump, I had an enormous random flap of fabric sticking out the front of my stomach that would stand out like a redhead in China if I tried to hide it with a regular top. I needed to hide it, so reached for the pile of maternity gear a lovely friend had given to me just weeks before.

It felt a bit tenty, but it was a relief to actually place pieces of clothing on my person that didn’t cling as tightly as everything else seems to.

I really must start researching safe exercises and yoga for pregnancy!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Almost time for tea

I went back to work last week after a fortnight off.

It was a blissful two weeks featuring a visit from my mum from interstate, lots of eating holiday food, shopping, movies and afternoon naps almost daily. My ideal life and the one I would readily subscribe to if I didn’t need to work!

I sensed a real change in my state of being pregnancy-wise this week.

I don’t know if it’s psychological because I know the consensus is that most women leave the worst of the nausea/morning sickness behind them in the second trimester, but I do feel well. Better than I have in months. Almost like my old self again.

The smell of my partner’s coffee in the evening still makes my stomach turn, but generally throughout the day, I am not feeling that constant “I could vomit at any time” sensation.

A big step of progress came just a few days ago.

My ultimate favourite thing to do in winter is consume enormous and bountiful cups of tea...English Breakfast is my poison, or Irish Breakfast if I am that way inclined. I might be tempted by an Earl Grey, a green or a chai on the odd occasion as well.

But not this winter. All because my tastebuds have been hijacked by my pregnancy. For some bizarre reason I will never understand, my most favourite hot beverage has been relegated in my mind to the same place where sardines, tripe, runny eggs, blue steaks, hot chips without sauce and offal go: the revolting pile.

I have not been able to stomach the thought of a cup of tea these past three months. It’s been terrible – and quite surreal.

Part of the old me is on one shoulder going “ooh, it’s a bit grey outside, perfect weather for a nice hot cup of tea – or seven”; but the new me is on the other saying “if you even so much as move to switch on the kettle, that bile you feel rising in your throat will quadruple in size and come up spewing, projectile style”.

But recently, it has been very grey, and cold and rainy and perfect tea weather. Add the fact that I am feeling a bit better about matters digestive and I thought, to hell with it, give it a go.

I have to say it was nice. It warmed me up and tasted ok, but funnily enough, was not overly enjoyable.

I’m sure it will return in time.

Other than that, my partner and I have been talking a lot this week about what it will be like having another baby in the house again, three years after we were up to our necks in bottles and nappies with our son.

God, it will be weird. I was holding a friend’s baby at soccer yesterday and while I was certainly being careful, I noticed I was a little bit rougher in the tickle play, only because just moments before I had been wrestling with Jay. You sort of get used to a certain level of physicality with your kids at that particular age...and it affects the way you deal with all other kids. It’s like dog people going up to a cat and patting it by way of a friendly whack on the back, just as they would with their much bigger, more robust canines at home. Meanwhile, poor pussy slinks off disdainfully to the feline chiropractor.

The other thing that will take some adjustment is looking after a little being who cannot talk for so many months. Again, with Jay, we are used to having conversations with him. Is he hungry, does he need to go to the toilet, does he want a drink of water? We don’t need to guess – he tells us.

Whatever happens, I think it will be fascinating to see how the whole “second child” thing plays out in our house, especially as while this baby will be our second, it will be my first.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Good early news

Ok, this will be quick as I am about to race out the door.

But I wanted to let you know that my results are good, very good.

Our nuchal scan plus bloods revealed a one in 1482 chance of having a baby with Downs.

To put that into perspective, my number last time was one in 29 and anything above 300 is considered good.

Our ob-gyn said that figure was a very good result and the number he would see in a 20 year old woman (discounting my history).

Happy with that!

Of course we could still have an amnio for 100% peace of mind, but there is a one in 200 risk of miscarriage there. So, weighing up the numbers and despite the fact that maths was never my strong point, I think it's ok if we hang on and avoid an amnio.

We can have an advanced anatomy scan at a special place (not the ordinary ultrasound places) where they can search for Downs features at 18 weeks.

If, worst case and for some horrific reason, it looks like we have another Downs baby, we can still have an amnio.

If that comes back positive, the process of termination is much the same at 16 weeks as it is at 19 weeks.

But I honestly do not feel we will have to go down that path. I am so encouraged by that initial number. Of course, all the docs are hedging their bets and cannot tell me anything for certain. But we can breathe a tiny bit easier now.

Hooray. Maybe my stressed shoulders can drop a little as the tension eases.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

And so, we meet again, 12 weeks

Almost 12 weeks. Yeep, do I dare get excited? Well certainly not until we cross this bloody monumental nuchal scan barrier. I have it tomorrow, and we find out the results Wednesday.

Here, by way of a recap, is the first entry of my journal over at StorkNet. Give it a few days before I am loaded on there, allowing for time difference and all. Back to regular programming later this week. In the meantime, good vibes welcome from you all!

TWELVE WEEKS WAS ALWAYSthe standard mark most pregnant women waited for before they announced the news publicly, right? The “safe” point after which all would be well? First trimester over = happy days!

We thought so too, until last year. Until our 12-week scan revealed Down Syndrome and a serious heart defect...that ultimately resulted in us losing the baby. Our hearts broke as we made the call to terminate at 16 weeks and four days – not a decision everyone would agree with, but one that thankfully my partner Tracey and I were in unison about. It was partly that we knew we weren’t strong enough to cope and partly that we were worried about the strain it would place on our family, but mostly we felt paralysed with grief at the thought of knowingly bringing a new little life into the world that would be burdened with such a poor quality of life.

My pregnancy was too far advanced for a hospital procedure that would have mercifully knocked me out with a general anaesthetic, so I was induced. I won’t go into any details about those 26 hours...funny, I think I have blocked many of them out anyway (even though they are here on this entry I have real trouble re-visiting). But even though I have erased them from my mind, they aren’t permanently deleted like you can do with emails and trash in your computer recycle bin.

The memories are like the lead pencil impressions left carved on paper even after you try so hard to rub and rub them out. Just like this is something we won’t get over, that is something we will never truly forget.

I am sorry to dwell on such maudlin matters in this, my first entry. But I need you to know some of the back story, because unfortunately – while I wish it wouldn’t – it indelibly taints every second of this pregnancy. Whether that is through pretty regular bouts of uncertainty, anxiety and stressful moments that take my breath away, or through seemingly unstoppable tears at 2.30am while I lie awake, unable to sleep, thinking. “What if it happens again?”

I try and think of the baby growing inside me and remember I have to protect it and nurture it with love and positivity, but sometimes the damn worry wins.

So, that’s where we find ourselves at this very moment. Tomorrow I will have a 12-week scan. The same procedure that last time sparked such a catastrophic crumbling of our world. The same scan that triggered such tragedy last August.

I am petrified. What if it happens again?

I saw our OBGYN, the same one we had last time, last week. It was our first appointment back, as we had been to another IVF doctor in Brisbane to this point. I was shocked to hear what he had to say. As I sat down he, knowing my history, asked me if I was thinking about going straight for an amnio. I admitted that thought had not crossed my mind at all. He said in his experience, women who had had a similar experience just wanted that peace of mind and immediately by-passed the nuchal, which is purely indicative and educated guesswork really, whereas the amnio is 100% clear.

Instantly I felt unprepared and silly for not considering this. But then I said that I actually did want to do the nuchal. Firstly, it is less intrusive and less risky. And why have an amnio if you don’t need it?

Then he shocked me for a second time. He said that because of my history, the ratio used to calculate the likelihood of me having another Downs baby was reduced. So instead of a woman my age starting at a point of one in 400, I start at one in 100.

Holy shit. I was gobsmacked.

To this point, we had been convinced that Downs was a genetic anomaly. It is not hereditary and even if both sides of the tree have zero family history with the syndrome, for some random reason, it can strike. It is inexplicable and impossible to trace/predict. Even our IVF doctor said we would be bloody unlucky for this terrible lightning to strike in the same place twice. And yet, the possibility now seemed to be opening up.

So, with this in mind, I am now readying myself for what I believe to be an almost-certain amnio. Especially given my numbers are going to be so drastically skewed downwards. But, on the other hand, we won’t know until we know. And even then we won't know for certain - the nuchal result is just a guide. I just hope my number is high, and there is no room for doubt over whether or not we need an amnio.

Roll on Wednesday, that's when we can get the results.