Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Best Week Yet

Easily one of the best weeks of my life, even if it featured the ubiquitous emotional rollercoaster.

We had our 18-week scan last week and one word sums it up: normal.

I tell you, after the hell we endured last year, that is the best and only six-letter combination we wanted to hear.

The fact that we also found out it’s a girl was icing on the cake, really, and we are just so happy.

I was incredibly nervous in the days leading up to the scan. The day before, I had even readied myself for bad news. Looking back I cannot believe I wasted so much energy imagining the detail of being ushered into a side room to be told there was a growth or an abnormality or that something anatomical wasn’t where it should be.

I didn’t think it would be as bad as before (Downs Syndrome, serious heart defect), but I did honestly think it would be something big enough to cause us to worry for the next six months.

Something even that might require surgery in utero – yep, these are the extreme places my mind goes at night.

I think I have to accept that worry is unfortunately part of my make-up now. It is how I am drawn.

Day to day, I just need to learn how to handle it, control it, not let it get the best of me. But this time, I just expected something else to give me reason to worry.

The three of us finally entered the scan room, late, and our baby suddenly appeared on the screen on the wall.

This was exactly the same room I was in a year ago to have my amnio. This was almost exactly the same image I was looking at back then when I suddenly caught myself and told myself to look away, not get too attached or connect with this tiny being’s movement too much, because I just knew it would all be taken away.

A year ago, on the very day we went in for our scan, we were in the same hospital a few hundred metres away preparing to terminate the pregnancy. (More freaky coincidences here.)

And yet that day, last week, I was trying to push those thoughts far away with as much force as I was remembering them.

The tug-of-war had me exhausted at the end of the day, utterly depleted.

But there was much to celebrate as the three of us sat in silence watching the doctor measure and scan and press popping buttons on a computer.

J was intrigued, T was in awe and I, after asking if everything was alright (give me something!), burst into tears. Of course.

The scan was temporarily interrupted as my stomach heaved as I let out a particularly intense sob, causing the wand thing to lose contact with my contracting belly. But all was well.

Later at home, J and I played while T went to work. I noticed J started getting a few of his toys and calling them his own babies, holding them and feeding them bottles. It was so damn adorable, the little man.

I took him to our local lake by the beach and we had the best time splashing in the shallows and building sand pools and castles. I think I was still walking on happy air at that point and he no doubt picked up on the vibe.

Just then, as the sun set and the light in the sky changed, the unmistakable squawk of the black cockatoo emerged from overhead.

I looked up and five of the massive, majestic birds silhouetted the clouds, right over our heads, their yellow cheeks flashing like war-plane markings as they flooshed through the air.

These are the same birds that appeared a year before when our baby died. I have felt a strong, ethereal connection to them ever since.

And here they were again.

Letting me know everything was right in the world.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Elastic waistband

Well I am finally starting to look like a pregnant woman.

And about time too!

I was starting to get worried people at work, watching me consume large amounts of food every two hours (at least), were simply beginning to think I was channelling Toni Collette: the Muriel’s Wedding version, not United States of Tara one.

I am eating a lot. Mostly it is good things, as we are healthy ordinarily anyway. We have a veggie garden out the front with everything from herbs and peas to broccoli and citrus (not yet fruiting, but soon).

I remember my appetite being crazy in the first trimester, and while it’s nowhere near as extreme as back then, I do feel it’s returned with about 75% vengeance now.

We went to relatives for dinner last night. There was roast chicken, approximately 345 vegetables and gravy, all followed by meringue nests with fruit salad.

On the way out, they gave us four marzipan tarts they did not like. It’s marzipan, are they nuts? I adore the stuff.

Anyway, we get home to put the little mister to bed and we have a cup of tea. I would say within less than two minutes, I had eaten three of the tarts before sheepishly asking Trace if she wanted one.

I will often get to the end of dinner, and quite a large dinner, and inexplicably drift towards the pantry to fix myself one or two bowls of cereal. It is crazy.

So, obviously, my belly is popping out, but I think (I hope) it has a decidedly pregnancy-inspired rotundness.

Initially, I made the stupid assumption that some clothes I had pre-pregnancy that were on the hipster side, and sat low on the belly anyway, would be fine to wear even as my belly grew.

I think that was back in the days when I was convinced I would be one of those Posh or Nicole Richie pregnant ladies: essentially a toothpick with an apricot belly. Fat nowhere else.

It was really hot today, spring’s first blush, and I put on shorts that fit the above category. I could just get the button done up, but they were painful and they bunched uncomfortably toward the zipper, a zipper that about 10 minutes later gave up trying to play along with my charade and eventually burst.

They were my oldest, most favourite pair of denim shorts. I had literally had them for about 15 years. And your body changes with age, a lot, in that time, but I could always count on them to fit perfectly. Old reliable.

As I tried to unzip the broken zipper, the little metal tab that had opened and shut that faithful, ingenious fastener more than a thousand times in its life, gave a last gasping snap as it came free in my hands. Broken.

I was shattered. Then I was confused and then I was scared as to how to extricate myself from already-tightly fitting shorts that had been zippered up when the zipper broke.

Somehow, I managed to peel them off, but I will leave it up to your imagination if my knickers came on or off at the same time.

Other than hilarious sartorial adventures, no movement from the baby that I can discern as yet. There have been tiny little lumpy feelings, like a pulse in my abdomen or like food moving through intestines. But who knows? That could actually be my pulse or digestion...

This week is enormous for me. This Thursday is the one-year anniversary of the day we lost the baby.

It is also the day we have our 18-week full morphology (anatomy) scan.

The coincidences continue.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Milestones and mill stones

This is going to sound riveting, but I have a whole lot of nothing to report from this past week.

Wow, what a way to entice you to keep reading, huh?

I have been trying to deal with this in limbo time until the next peace-of-mind scan by distracting myself with work and family stuff.

And I thought I was doing alright until I had a meltdown over the weekend. I am pretty sure you can put it all down to tiredness, hormonal-ness and general freaked out-ed-ness at surpassing at last the 16 weeks and four day mark of this pregnancy.

Oh, and Jay was sick. Throwing up sick. Which is never nice.

I was worried about reaching that date in the days leading up to it, but funnily enough, on the day, it wasn’t until about 2pm that I realised and remembered. And then I kind of felt nothing; a little relief, but not the huge emotional tsunami I was expecting.

A few days later though and perhaps it hit. First of all, let me say, Saturday it blew like a howling gale, all day, very destructive winds. And Saturday night was a full moon. Both of those things make people crazy – just ask the cops. Hell, our local paper on Sunday had a front-page story about a guy who randomly walked up to the scene of a car accident and threw a python at police.

That’s right, a python. Like I said, last weekend just made people go loco.

I felt disconnected from things, from happiness, and very irritable. Jay was up well before 6am both days, and he was sick. Normally I can go back and grab a few extra hours to catch up, but I could not switch my brain off from thinking dark thoughts if I tried to nap.

I was dazed, headachey and nauseous but strangely unable to really feel any of that truly. It was a really bizarre state of mind. It’s happened in varying degrees before, but pregnancy and that “milestone” exacerbated it this time.

Anyway, I feel much better now, although I have had a headache for two days, but it’s dissipating. But I think I know why I felt nothing. Because even though it is great that I held onto this pregnancy for longer than the last one, so far, there is no great woot-woot celebration that comes with that.

This is a completely different pregnancy and a completely different baby inside. It is unfair to compare and hopefully I can stop now.

Well, I have never experienced a pregnancy this far in as yet...so I might as well try and enjoy, rather than curse, the changes in my body and feeling the baby kick for the first time (nothing yet).

Trace and I also agreed on a new girl’s name after I panicked and realised the one we had chosen was really not suitable for a girl beyond the age of five. But we are keeping this new name a secret, although we will tell people the gender when we find out next week.

Next week! Eeek.

Hmm, I did have stuff to report after all. Put it down to the scrambled eggs currently disguising themselves as my brain matter right now.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Coincidence much?

I remember being really struck by a particular book when I was in my teens.

Sure, there was Shakespeare and George Orwell and Harper Lee, but one of the most memorable was a bizarre little paperback with a light blue cover all about coincidence.

It was a dog-eared collection of anecdotes from around the world about the unexplained phenomenon. Some called it fate, the book’s intro said, others thought it more mystical than that, but the stories of coincidence it contained proved that whatever it was, it was real and quite jaw-dropping.

I think I found it for 50 cents in a second-hand shop somewhere random. The ominous lightning strike on its cover appealed to my teenage mind. Back then, I probably thought it was edgy and hoped mum would think I was into the occult.

There were all sorts of stories of a long-lost family heirloom that is suddenly found after a relative’s favourite flower grows in the exact spot where it’s buried; or the twin feeling the other twin’s pain at the same moment, on the other side of the world; or of certain meaningful things happening on key dates, centuries later, auspicious and freaky.

In the years since, I do pay particular attention to those moments that happen in life...like someone popping into your thoughts minutes before they ring you on the phone, dreaming about something a few days before it happens and things like that.

With this pregnancy – see, there is a link in here somewhere – I know how real coincidence is in my life, but I am not sure of its meaning. Or even if it has one.

By some random eventuality, the embryo that is now the baby I am carrying was implanted in me on the very same date as our little boy’s was in Tracey, four years ago.

To the day.

There is no way we could have orchestrated that or manipulated that if we tried by lining up cycles and doctor’s visits and hospital theatre schedules and chance.

I am due on my partner’s birthday.

I found out today that our OBGYN is taking a week off right around my due date. The number three came up a lot early in my pregnancy. I was in theatre three, we sat at table three the night we had our embryo transfer to celebrate with dinner out and our little boy is three. It prompted T to surmise that I would probably go past my due date and give birth on the 3rd of the 3rd.

Our OBGYN is due back from his leave on the 3rd of the 3rd.

Over the weekend, we realised another freaky coincidence.

Our 18-week scan – the one we are counting down to so desperately – is on September 22. They day we lost our baby last year.

Tracey said to me “Do you think it’s trying to tell us something, that everything will be ok this time?”

I don't know what in tarnation "it" is, but sweet lord, I hope that's what it's saying!